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Archive for September 6th, 2011

Queen News Round-Up: Wembley Goes Deluxe, U.S. Date Set for Last Wave of Reissues

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The worldwide celebration of what would have been the 65th birthday of iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury has captured the public imagination something fierce – check out Google’s astounding video tribute above – and The Second Disc couldn’t help but add to the celebration with some news and updates on the band’s ongoing catalogue endeavors.

First of all, deep-pocketed fans will want to be on the lookout for a super-deluxe edition of the forthcoming 25th anniversary reissue of the band’s Live at Wembley Stadium CD/DVD set. The massive package, available for pre-order next month with a plotted November release, includes all the content from the standard release (both Wembley performances on DVD and two CDs of the iconic Saturday show) plus a host of extra collectible content, including replica tour passes and programs, a “Friends Will Be Friends” scarf, a button-down tour shirt and, perhaps, funniest of all, a 12″ inflatable Freddie Mercury doll, stylized in a similar fashion to the LP sleeve of A Kind of Magic. All of it comes in a crate-style case.

Those looking for a Queen gift for the holidays with a little more music are in luck, too: Amazon is taking American pre-orders for their exclusive box set edition of the final five expanded studio albums. While those albums came out in the U.K. today, these are slated for release November 1, so it won’t be too much of a wait for them if you don’t wish to import.

Here’s hoping this news has you hangin’ on the edge of your seat!

Written by Mike Duquette

September 6, 2011 at 17:34

Posted in Box Sets, News, Queen, Reissues

Review: John Barry, “The Black Hole: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

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When John Barry won two 1967 Academy Awards for his work on Born Free, the trophies were a vindication.  Over the initial objections of his director, Barry envisioned his score to reflect a “Disneyesque kind of movie, lovely family entertainment” and fought for the dramatic integrity of that sound.  Twelve years later, Barry actually got his chance to score a Walt Disney Productions motion picture.  One of many science-fiction epics produced in the wake of Star Wars, Disney’s The Black Hole was unusual in any number of respects.  Among them, it explored new avenues not only in special effects but also in music recording.  The score by John Barry was the first in motion picture history to be digitally recorded.  Now, thirty-two years after that auspicious breakthrough, the music of The Black Hole has been restored and released as an expanded, special edition soundtrack that exceeds all expectations (Walt Disney Records/Intrada D001383402, 2011).

Though John Barry hadn’t previously been associated with the genre, he found himself scoring two major science fiction epics in 1979 after a “test run” with 1978’s low-budget Italian Star Wars knockoff entitled Starcrash.  The first of these two high profile assignments was the eleventh James Bond film, Moonraker.  It premiered in June 1979, bringing Bond to a space station and even featuring a laser battle (!) and zero gravity sequences.  For Moonraker, Barry had largely turned his back on the brassy big-band jazz that was the series’ musical signature.  His style was in a period of transition, becoming more and more reliant on slower, mood-setting passages with lush string writing.  His next score would take that style even further.  He was announced for The Black Hole in March 1979, recording it eight months later at The Burbank Studios, now the Eastwood Scoring Stage.  It was his first Disney film.

Under the leadership of producer Ron Miller, Walt Disney Productions was thinking big with The Black Hole.  The stakes were high in the suitably dramatic story.  The spaceship Palamino’s crew (portrayed by Robert Forster, Anthony Perkins, Yvette Mimieux and Joseph Bottoms) plus journalist Ernest Borgnine and the Roddy McDowall-voiced robot named V.I.N.C.E.N.T. enter the gravitational field of a giant “black hole.”  They soon find the lost ship Cygnus and its commander, Dr. Hans Reinhardt, as well as his odd robot assistants.  Will the crew of the Palamino survive his plans to take the Cygnus to the black hole’s event horizon?  Or will they forever remain prisoners of the black hole? 

Robert T. McCall, artist of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s space station poster, was tapped to provide preproduction art including designs for the Palamino, the Cygnus and V.I.N.C.E.N.T., while the Oscar-winning Disney legend Peter Ellenshaw signed on as production designer.  Gary Nelson directed the screenplay by Jeb Rosebrook and Gerry Day (after a story by Rosebrook, Bob Barbash and Richard Landau).  Disney committed to push the envelope of special-effects, developing its own camera and effects system to seamlessly blend visual effects and animation with Ellenshaw’s matte paintings.  John Barry brought further luster to the cutting-edge film, making it clear from the first note of his score that he was on the same page as his collaborators.  He employed a 94-piece orchestra and judiciously used the “blaster beam” invented by Craig Huxley to add some cosmic color.  Hit the jump to enter The Black Hole! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 6, 2011 at 13:31

Posted in Features, John Barry, News, Reviews, Soundtracks

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It’s Better Down Where It’s Wetter: “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” Arrives On CD, Plus Rare Goldsmith “Explorers”

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Not even a holiday can slow down the folks at Intrada.  On Monday, Labor Day, the Intrada team announced its two latest releases, both of which will begin shipping on Wednesday, September 7.  The Intrada Special Collection welcomes Jerry Goldsmith’s score to Joe Dante’s 1985 The Explorers, while the Walt Disney Records/Intrada co-branded line brings Paul J. Smith’s score to the 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to CD.

The very first film adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic undersea fable dates back to 1907 (!), but of tens of film and television versions of the story, the 1954 Walt Disney production is likely the most familiar.  Years before he directed Fantastic Voyage, Richard Fleischer directed the Walt Disney Productions picture about the fantastic voyage of Captain Nemo (James Mason) and the Nautilus.  Kirk Douglas, Peter Lorre and Paul Lukas joined Mason for the undersea adventure, which was one of the costliest films ever made at the time of its release.  Walt Disney, personally producing the film, was hailed by The New York Times’ Bosley Crowther: “As fabulous and fantastic as anything he has ever done in cartoons is Walt Disney’s “live action” movie made from Jules Verne’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.’  Turned out in CinemaScope and color, it is as broad, fictitiously, as it is long (128 minutes), and should prove a sensation—at least with the kids.”  Kids of all ages delighted in the film, which was rewarded with two Academy Awards out of three nominations, and became the second highest-grossing film of the year. 

While Disney turned to major Hollywood stars like Douglas, Mason and Lorre to populate the film, many bona fide Disney legends were in charge, offscreen.  In fact, a number of these talents would be recognized later as Disney Legends, with the capital “L.”  (Walt Disney even had history with the Fleischer family, as Richard’s father Max was one of his only real rivals as a producer in the early days of the animation medium.)  One such Legend was Harper Goff, a concept artist for Disneyland who served as art director and designed the now-familiar Nautilus.  Another was special effects designer John Hench, who was one of the artists who created the iconic giant squid.  A third Legend was Paul J. Smith, enlisted to provide the score.  Read on after the jump, mateys! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 6, 2011 at 09:46

Release Round-Up: Week of September 6

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John Coltrane, The Impulse! Albums Volume 4 (Hip-o Select/Verve)

Five discs encompass five of Coltrane’s posthumous releases for the venerable jazz label. (Hip-o Select)

Frank Sinatra & Count Basie, The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings (Concord)

All 20 of the legendary performers’ tunes together on one disc. (Concord)

Various Artists, Godspell: 40th Anniversary Celebration (Sony Masterworks)

Just in time for the new Broadway revival, a two-for-one deal: the original 1971 cast album and 1973 film soundtrack. (Official revival site)

Various Artists, Where the Boys Are: The Songs of Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield (Ace)

The latest in the U.K. label’s Songwriter Series spotlights two great scribes of the early pop era, from “Stupid Cupid” to “Crying in the Rain” and beyond. (Ace)

Change, This is Your Time: Expanded Edition / Change of Heart: Expanded Edition / Linda Williams, City Living: Expanded Edition / Andre Cymone, AC: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

The latest Big Break slate includes one from underrated soul legend Linda Williams and a reissue with some actual Prince-oriented material on it (AC, which featured the Prince-produced “The Dance Electric”). (Big Break)

Heart, Greatest Hits / James Taylor, Sweet Baby James (Audio Fidelity)

The latest classics to get the gold disc treatment. (Audio Fidelity: Heart, James Taylor)

Written by Mike Duquette

September 6, 2011 at 08:18