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Archive for September 20th, 2011

The Piano Man, Boxed: Billy Joel Celebrated With “Complete Albums Collection” and “Piano Man” Legacy Edition

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The music and lyrics of Billy Joel run deep in the fabric of American popular song: “Sing us a song, you’re the piano man.”  “I’m in a New York state of mind.”  Joel was that rare singer/songwriter whose career took off in the 1970s, with one foot rooted in the Tin Pan Alley tradition and another squarely in rock-and-roll, who continued to soar in the 1980s with indelible videos for the MTV era, among them “Uptown Girl” opposite his soon-to-be-wife Christie Brinkley.  He had proven his cross-generational appeal with a series of hit albums and indelible singles.

But a few years later, Joel did something truly rare.  He stepped back from the spotlight after 1993’s River of Dreams, vowing that the best-selling album would be his swan song to pop/rock songwriting.  Eighteen years later and much to dismay of his fans, Joel has kept true to his word.  He’s only turned out the occasional song (“Christmas in Fallujah,” performed by Cass Dillon, and “All My Life,” written for his now-ex-wife Katie Lee, both from 2007) and one album of classical piano compositions, 2001’s Fantasies and Delusions, performed by Richard Joo.  Yet Joel’s music remains  in the spotlight.  Joel has continued a lucrative live career (including high-profile shows closing the New York Mets’ original home, Shea Stadium!), seen his songs feted in Twyla Tharp’s hit 2002 Broadway musical Movin’ Out, and remained a sort of musical godfather to younger piano-pounding rockers such as Ben Folds (recently interviewed by The Second Disc here).  Unfortunately Joel recently scrapped plans for a memoir which he had reportedly completed, preferring to let his remarkable catalogue of music speak for itself.

To commemorate Joel’s fortieth anniversary as a recording artist, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings today made available for pre-order two deluxe releases: The Complete Albums Collection (joining similar releases for Tony Bennett, Miles Davis and a host of others) and a 2-CD Legacy Edition of Joel’s 1973 major label breakthrough, Piano Man.

Billy Joel: The Complete Albums Collection brings together 14 albums and a disc of “additional masters” in one sturdy box.  Ted Jensen has remastered every album, and each is housed in a replica cardboard jacket and sleeve replicating the original LP release.  Two 60-page booklets include complete lyrics to every song, plus rare photos and a new interview with Joel.  The bonus “Additional Masters” disc offers B-sides, soundtrack contributions and assorted miscellany.  Among the B-sides collected are “Elvis Presley Boulevard” (B-side of the “Allentown” single, 1982); the live cover version of the Beatles’ “I’ll Cry Instead” (B-side of “An Innocent Man,” 1983); “House of Blue Light” (B-side of “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” 1989); and “You Picked A Real Bad Time” (B-side of “All About Soul,” 1993). “You’re Only Human (Second Wind)” and “The Night Is Still Young” are both familiar from their inclusion on Joel’s perennial 1985 Greatest Hits.

Several tracks on the bonus disc are derived from soundtrack recordings: his covers of the Elvis Presley hits “Heartbreak Hotel” and “All Shook Up” (Honeymoon In Vegas, 1992), Lloyd Price’s 1959 hit, “Where Were You On Our Wedding Day,” (Runaway Bride, 1999), and Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” (A League of Their Own, 1992). An original song, “Nobody Knows But Me,” was Joel’s contribution to In Harmony II, a Columbia LP to benefit Sesame Street/Children’s Television Workshop.

There are more previously released cover versions appearing together for the first time, too, from Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” and Leonard Cohen’s “Light as the Breeze” to the Gerry Goffin/Carole King hit “Hey Girl.”  From the Disney songbook comes “When You Wish Upon A Star” which originally appeared on Columbia’s Simply Mad About The Mouse, while 2001’s An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson yielded Joel’s performance of the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby,” live at Radio City Music Hall.

Hit the jump for the specs on Piano Man! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 20, 2011 at 14:49

Soundtrack Round-Up: Intrada Loads “Guns,” Kritzerland Goes “Nudie” and FSM Goes to Space

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Even in the wake of some heartbreaking news in the soundtrack catalogue business, there’s a lot of excellent goings on with some of your favorite soundtrack labels:

First up, Intrada announced yesterday just one new CD release, but it’s a big one: the world premiere of Alan Silvestri’s score to 1990’s Young Guns II. The Generation X-friendly Western series, which starred Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips and Emilio Estevez as notorious outlaw Billy the Kid, had a strong pedigree for the sequel’s score in Alan Silvestri (who, ironically, would score two modern Westerns that year, counting Back to the Future Part III). However, upon the film’s initial release, “Blaze of Glory,” a hit song written and performed for the film by Jon Bon Jovi, took center stage in the public’s ear. Exactly one minute of Silvestri’s score was released on the resultant Blaze of Glory LP, but Intrada’s new limited edition release features the score in full after years of requests from fans.

Film Score Monthly gets one title closer to its much-dreaded closing up shop next year: a double-feature of science fiction scores by Nathan Van Cleave, composer for films such as Robinson Crusoe on Mars and Funny Face as well as episodes of The Twilight Zone (where he helped add the theremin to the musical shorthand of “creepy alien antics”). These relatively obscure scores – from 1958 sci-fi flicks The Space Children and The Colossus of New York – are surprisingly diverse despite their sparser arrangements (15 instruments, including three organs and an electric violin, performed on Space Children, while only piano, organ and celesta form the framework to Colossus). Despite that, this world premiere disc – limited to 1,500 copies – will make a great buy for the ’50s sci-fi fan in your life.

Finally, our friends at Kritzerland are working on a very special title – one that’s not a CD! The label’s main man, Bruce Kimmel, made a big splash in the entertainment business with his film The First Nudie Musical (1976), which he acted in, co-directed and wrote both screenplay and soundtrack (which became Varese Sarabande’s first-ever soundtrack release). Now, for its 35th anniversary, a Blu-Ray release has been announced for later this year. Mastered from the best surviving source of the film – the second-generation camera internegative (the original negative being lost), the set – due out in October or November, will feature a myriad of special features, including three commentary tracks, a documentary, deleted scenes, costume tests, trailers and radio spots and stills galleries! Read all about it here and keep your eyes peeled for more information as it’s available.

The full track lists and links for the Intrada and FSM sets are after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 20, 2011 at 14:26

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

The Grateful Dead, Cameo-Parkway Christmas, ? and the Mysterians, Ed Ames On Deck From Real Gone

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Real Gone Music, the label founded by Gordon Anderson and Gabby Castellana, has announced its debut slate for November, and it’s no surprise that the founders of Collectors’ Choice Music and Hep Cat Records, respectively, are launching their new venture with a broadly eclectic line-up of releases crossing all genre lines. 

With distribution from Razor and Tie, Real Gone’s slate includes releases from The Grateful Dead, a contingent of sixties girls, legendary garage group ? and the Mysterians, and a trio of holiday releases to make your Christmas a bit brighter.

On November 8, three previously-reported singles collections from Shelby Flint, Connie Stevens and Joanie Sommers are joined by a delightfully unexpected release all the way from Hooterville!  Come one and come all, and we’ll take that Cannonball to the junction, Petticoat Junction, with the original Imperial Records singles from The Girls of Petticoat Junction!  Featuring Linda Kaye Henning, Lori Saunders and Meredith MacRae, this collection marks these rare singles’ very first time on CD.  Every track is making its first appearance in stereo, and previously unreleased cuts have been appended.  Look for songs by Jimmy Webb, Neil Sedaka and more!

The following week, come hear Uncle John’s Band for three volumes of the long-running Dick’s Picks series, from the archives of the Grateful Dead!  Named for Dick Latvala, the official tape archivist for the Dead until 1999, these three volumes of Dick’s Picks will be available at retail from Real Gone, and spotlight gigs from Rochester, New York (1977); San Diego, California (1971); and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1972). 

The Dead is joined by another band whose career could be summed up as a long, strange trip!  ? (that’s Question Mark to you!) and the Mysterians hit it big with the chart-topping “96 Tears” in 1966.  Real Gone brings the band’s 96 Tears album as well as its 1967 follow-up, Action!, to 180-gram vinyl.  These two LPs are available thanks to Real Gone’s relationship with ABKCO, successor to the original Cameo-Parkway label.  The Cameo-Parkway vaults have also been opened for Cameo-Parkway Holiday Hits, a compilation originally announced for Collectors’ Choice Music.  The 18-track comp boasts 13 new-to-CD cuts from the Philadelphia label’s roster, including  Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker, Bobby the Poet, The Rudolph Statler Orchestra, the Lonesome Travelers and even Bob Seger and the Last Heard!

On November 22, two more Christmas-themed titles will arrive, following in Collectors’ Choice’s grand tradition of bringing rare holiday music to compact disc.  Composer/arranger David Rose (“The Stripper”) is represented with 1968’s The David Rose Christmas Album from the vaults of Capitol Records, and beloved vocalist Ed Ames (“My Cup Runneth Over”) is the recipient of a two-fer bringing his 1967 Christmas with Ed Ames and 1970 Christmas is the Warmest Time of Year to CD, both originally released on RCA Victor.

Are you excited yet?  Hit the jump for the complete schedule!

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Written by Joe Marchese

September 20, 2011 at 13:21

In-a-Gadda-Da-Fillmore: Rare Iron Butterfly 1968 Gig Coming From Handmade

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Rhino Handmade’s bringing on the heavy-duty rock for its newest title, giving you four great, unreleased early shows from Iron Butterfly in a new two-disc set.

When the San Diego quartet took New York’s Fillmore East in the spring of 1968, they had one album, Heavy, under their belts but a myriad of lineup changes that would put veteran bands to shame. At the time, the band was singer/organist Doug Ingle, drummer Ron Bushy and new guitarist and bassist Erik Braunn (all of 17 at the time) and Lee Dorman – both of whom replaced the recently-departed members Danny Weis, Jerry Penrod and second vocalist/percussionist Darryl DeLoach, who had left after recording sessions for Heavy.

The shift in personnel wasn’t the only sign of things to come, though. While the sets draw heavily from Heavy‘s track lineup, including “Possession,” “Unconscious Power” and the double set closers “So-Lo” and “Iron Butterfly Theme,” the sets include songs that would be committed to tape by the new lineup for their next, smash hit of an album, including the album’s eventual title track, the hard-driving jam “In-a-Gadda-de-Vida,” not yet the Top 40 single that would drive sales of the forthcoming record to over 4 million domestically but not nearly lacking in intensity.

Featuring the first and second sets of both nights at The Fillmore East from the original 1/4″ four-track tapes, a psychedelic black and white cover (iron-on transfers of which will be available with the first 1,000 orders) and new liner notes from Rolling Stone veteran David Fricke, this is the set to get if you’re a fan of classic psychedelia. You can buy the set here and hit the jump to check out the track list.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 20, 2011 at 12:35

Still They Ride: Journey’s “Greatest Hits Vol. 2” Coming On CD and Remastered Double Vinyl

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The singer/songwriter Peter Allen once commented in song, “Everything old is new again.”  And that adage certainly applies to the case of Journey.  Thanks to the one-two punch of television shows The Sopranos and Glee, the band’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” has become ubiquitous.  Though the band’s heyday was undoubtedly the 1980s (“Don’t Stop Believin’,” reportedly the top-selling catalogue track of all time on iTunes, dates from 1981), the music of Journey is in the public eye now more than ever.  So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that on November 1, Columbia Records and Legacy will release Greatest Hits Vol. 2.  It belatedly follows up the original Greatest Hits album, first released in 1988, which has racked up worldwide sales of over 25 million.  Greatest Hits Vol. 2 will be available as a single CD, digital download, and special gatefold 180-gram double-vinyl edition (which includes a code for a free digital download of the vinyl remastered album).

But there’s more!  The original Greatest Hits will also be issued as a gatefold 180-gram double-vinyl edition on the same date, November 1 (which also includes a code for a free digital download of the vinyl remastered album). Each release has been meticulously remastered; the honors for Greatest Hits Vol. 2 were handled by Robert Hadley and Steve Perry at The Mastering Lab in Ojai, CA, while the new vinyl release of Greatest Hits Vol. 1 was remastered by Doug Sax, Hadley and Perry, also at The Mastering Lab.  Perry commented of these new releases, “I truly forgot how sonically exciting and just plain better these Journey tracks sound back where they originally lived…on vinyl. The stereo separation, the center imaging and the sonic depth of the tracks themselves is more true to what we all loved about these original final mixes. All the instruments and voices, to me personally, sound so damn good that all I want to do is reach for the volume and turn it up!”

Formed in 1973 by guitarist Neal Schon and releasing an eponymous debut album in 1975, Journey’s career really took off when Steve Perry joined the band as lead singer.  Journey adopted a more pop-friendly sound, taking its cue from the arena rock of Boston and Foreigner, and the band was rewarded with a No. 21 chart placement and platinum sales for its 1978 album Infinity produced by Roy Thomas Baker and featuring Perry’s debut.  Despite a number of personnel changes, Journey was off and running.  1979’s Evolution included Journey’s first Top 20 single, “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” and 1980’s Departure introduced one of the band’s signature songs, “Any Way You Want It.”  The big one was 1981’s Escape, the eighth studio album from the group.  It shot to No. 1 on the album charts and included three Top 10 hits: “Who’s Cryin’ Now,” the deathless “Open Arms,” and of course, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”  Escape spent nearly three years on Billboard’s Top 200 chart.

Escape was produced by Mike Stone and Kevin Elson, who went on to produce the band’s next album, Frontiers (1983). Frontiers (“After The Fall,” “Chain Reaction”) debuted the week before Michael Jackson’s Thriller reached pole position, and made sure that Thriller wasn’t lonely at the top when it remained comfortably ensconced at No. 2 for nine weeks! 1986’s Raised On Radio introduced a new member to the journey fold, the bassist Randy Jackson.  One of the most familiar faces in television thanks to his judging stint on American Idol, The Dawg went on to tour with Journey through 1987. Raised On Radio spent 67 weeks on the album chart, propelled by the Top 20 hit “Suzanne.”

Journey’s story is proof in the pudding that a label’s investment in a band might not always produce returns immediately, but that faith in a recording artist over a long period of time can, indeed, pay off in a big way.  Album Oriented Rock (AOR) was here to stay.  When Journey broke up (for what turned out to be a temporary hiatus) in 1988, Columbia issued the Greatest Hits album, encompassing fifteen tracks from seven of the band’s albums.  It’s been a mainstay for those fans introduced via The Sopranos, Glee, Family Guy, and American Idol, all of which have employed the band’s music.  Although the first Greatest Hits has long covered the bases for a casual fan’s Journey collection, a number of Top 40 and Top 20 singles were not included.  Columbia also notes that favorites of principal songwriters Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain were excluded. Many of these tracks have been included on Greatest Hits Vol. 2, including five Top 40 hits and one AOR Top 20 track.

Hit the jump for the full track listing with discographical information as to the original album appearance of each track, and singles chart annotation for Journey’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2.  The album arrives in stores on both CD and vinyl on November 1 from Columbia/Legacy, along with the brand new vinyl remaster of that seminal Greatest Hits Vol. 1.  You’ll find pre-order links below!. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 20, 2011 at 10:24

Release Round-Up: Week of September 20

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Miles Davis Quintet, Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1 (Columbia/Legacy)

A three-CD/one-DVD collection of live stints from Belgium, Germany, France and Sweden, and the inaugural title in a new series of archival material for Miles. And Joe’s got the review this week! (Official site)

DeBarge, Time Will Reveal: The Complete Motown Albums (Hip-o Select/Motown)

All four of DeBarge’s classic ’80s R&B LPs on two discs, with a further bonus disc of remixes and rarities. (Hip-o Select)

Twisted Sister, Live at the Marquee Club (Rhino Handmade)

Go under the blade with this down-and-dirty live set from the band’s early days on Atlantic. The unique TS-logo-shaped sleeve is worth the price of purchase if you’re a hardcore fan. (Rhino)

The Grateful Dead, Europe ’72 Vol. 2 (Rhino)

For those of you who are fine with just a small sample of the mega-box from the whole tour. (Official site)

Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam Twenty (Epic)

Live tracks and studio rarities make up the soundtrack for the new documentary (which your humble catalogue correspondent is absolutely anxious to see). (Official site)

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy / Darklands: Deluxe Editions (Edsel)

The revered Scottish alt-rock outfit, celebrated in definitive two-CD/one-DVD reissues with bonus audiovisual content. (The next four of the band’s albums will be reissued in the next two weeks.) (Official site)

Madness, A Guided Tour of Madness (Salvo)

After a heap of great expanded Madness reissues, Salvo releases a career-spanning box set with a brand-new track and the DVD debut of the band’s Madstock 1992 performance. (Official site)

Various Artists, Divine Hair/Mass in F, By Jupiter: Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording, Paris ’90: Original Broadway Cast Recording, Noël Coward in Las VegasNoël Coward in New York (Masterworks Broadway)

The latest crop of Arkiv/Masterworks downloads and reissues features a special find in particular: Divine Hair/Mass in F, a sacred piece featuring songs from the Broadway musical! (Masterworks)

Written by Mike Duquette

September 20, 2011 at 08:15