The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for September 22nd, 2011

Come to the Pop Market: Complete Collections Due From ELO, EWF, Cohen, Simone, Desmond and More

with 20 comments

And the (complete) hits just keep on comin’.  Sony’s PopMarket site has become a must-visit destination for many music fans, not only due to daily deals on existing box sets and back catalogue titles but also due to a line of new boxes under the Complete Albums Collection umbrella.  Initial recipients of this treatment were Sam Cooke, The Byrds. Stan Getz and Return to Forever.  A second wave offered collections from John Denver, Grover Washington Jr., Kansas and Wayne Shorter.  Another eight titles have recently been announced, and like their predecessors, these offer an artist’s complete albums from a particular period or label affiliation in mini-LP sleeves with an accompanying booklet, all housed in one tidy package.  The latest group encompasses some all-time greats of rock, soul and jazz.  PopMarket is  now offering:

  • Earth Wind & Fire: The Complete Columbia Masters Collection;
  • Electric Light Orchestra: The Classic Albums Collection;
  • Leonard Cohen: The Complete Albums Collection and The Complete Studio Albums Collection;
  • Paul Desmond: The Complete RCA Albums Collection;
  • Dexter Gordon: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection;
  • Wynton Marsalis: Swingin’ into the 21st;
  • Woody Shaw: The Complete Columbia Albums Collection; and
  • Nina Simone: The Complete RCA Albums Collection.

Hit the jump for the scoop on these sets, including the list of all included albums! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 22, 2011 at 14:29

Review: Rufus Thomas, Shirley Brown and The Dramatics, “Stax Remasters” Series

leave a comment »

When Stax Records severed its distribution deal with Atlantic in 1968, it was time to rebuild from the ground up.  The entire back catalogue went to Atlantic, as did Sam and Dave’s contract.  Gone was the “Stax o’wax” label logo; in its place was a new, finger-snapping Stax.  The stewards of the Stax legacy at Concord Music Group have recently launched a series branded as Stax Remasters, and the three latest additions to the reissue program have arrived from Rufus Thomas, Shirley Brown and The Dramatics.  Do the Funky Chicken, Woman to Woman and Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get, respectively, are an impressively eclectic trio.  Though these albums largely lack the instantly recognizable southern soul sound that resides within the grooves of many of those Atlantic-distributed 1960s hits, they make a case for the potency of the label’s sometimes-rocky rebirth.

Sticking to the tried and true paid off for the self-proclaimed “world’s oldest teenager,” Rufus Thomas.  (Rufus gave Dick Clark a run for his money!)  Thomas struggled to find his place in the new Stax line-up despite having given the label its very first hit song in 1960 with “Cause I Love You.”  His hit streak had continued in the early part of the decade with a number of related songs: “The Dog,” then “Walking the Dog,” then “Can Your Monkey Do the Dog,” and finally (inevitably?) “Somebody Stole My Dog.”  So although 1968’s “Funky Mississippi” failed to hit, Thomas followed it with “Funky Way” before hitting on a Chicago dance craze that inspired the funky mother of them all: “Do The Funky Chicken.”  Rufus clucked his way through the song: “this is the kind of stuff that makes you feel like you want to do something nasty…like waste some chicken gravy on your white shirt right down front!”  Who could resist?  So the Do the Funky Chicken album was born (Stax STX-33177-02, 2011).

Joining the titular chicken were ten further slices of rollicking, good-time funk that, in Rufus’ parlance, will make you want to get up and do something unnecessary…!  His original liner notes (reprinted on the back cover of the CD booklet) give insight into the man: “I sing, do a step or two, and I’m a comedian.  You ought to see me.  I’m the most beautiful person you’ll ever see in your life.”  He brings that joie de vivre to Louis Jordan’s “Let the Good Times Roll.”  He revisits “Bear Cat,” an answer record to the original Big Mama Thornton “Hound Dog,” and purrs and growls his way through the song: “You ain’t nothin’ but a bear cat, scoopin’ round my door!”  The most unusual track is the epic “Sixty Minute Man,” turning the Billy Ward and the Dominoes original inside out.  Thomas shouts, chants and scats around the exultant cry of “I feel my body!” on this tour de force cut.  He follows Frank Sinatra (!) as one of the few pop artists to take a shot at “Old MacDonald,” and extends it to two parts!  It’s impossibly drawn out (“Ee I ee I oh-oh-oh…oh yeah!”) but really cooks!  Though Thomas wrote most of his own material, his covers – “Old MacDonald” perhaps notwithstanding! – were well-chosen, by the likes of Dallas Frazier and Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

The new remaster is rounded out by both sides of four singles including “Funky Mississippi” and “Funky Way,” both from 1968.  (Alas, later tracks “Do the Funky Penguin,” “The Funky Robot” and “The Funky Bird” didn’t make the cut!)  On “Boogie Ain’t Nuttin’ (But Gettin’ Down),” a two-part single from 1974, Thomas name-checks contemporaries like Eddie Kendricks and Kool and the Gang and even shows them a thing or two!

The most compelling of the three titles is The Dramatics’ Whatcha See is Whatcha Get (Stax STX-33176-02, 2011).  This release actually offers two titles on one disc, presenting the whole of the 1972 Whatcha See album and its 1973 follow-up, A Dramatic Experience.  Both albums are largely the work of writer and producer Tony Hester, whose personal demons kept him from reaching the heights of a Thom Bell.  Yet with arranger Johnny Allen, Hester crafted some spellbinding soul for the Detroit vocal group.  The first album kicks off with the infectious “Get Up and Get Down,” with a lush bed of strings and a powerful horn part, although the brass isn’t down and dirty as on many previous Stax productions.  Whatcha See offers sweet soul, but it’s not necessarily “soft,” alternating luscious harmonies with impassioned vocal cries on tracks like the dramatic “Thankful for Your Love.”  The five-man vocal interplay is frequently reminiscent of Motown’s Temptations, with each part executed to perfection from bass (Willie Ford) to  falsetto (Ron Banks).  Banks’ falsetto crooning on “Thankful” and the song’s thick, orchestrated sound wouldn’t have been out of place in Philadelphia; other songs clearly influenced by the sound of The City of Brotherly Love include “Fall in Love, Lady Love” and “Now You Got Me Loving You,” with its understated horns, swelling strings and insistent groove.  Of course, the song “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get” remains the group’s calling card, and its fuzz guitar riff combined with the vaguely Latin feel still makes for an irresistible listen.  “Hot Pants in the Summertime” (“You sure look good in your hot pants!”) is not quite as timeless.

Read more about A Dramatic Experience, plus Shirley Brown’s Woman to Woman, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 22, 2011 at 13:10

EMI U.K. Opens Up a “Box O’ Snakes”

leave a comment »

Here they go again: EMI is releasing a hefty box of the earlier works of acclaimed rock band Whitesnake, according to Classic Rock.

While most remember Whitesnake for the leadership of onetime Deep Purple vocalist David Coverdale – the sole original member of the band, as it stands – and the 1987 smash hit “Here I Go Again” (aided by that oft-referenced music video featuring Tawny Kitaen slithering on the hood of a Jaguar) – the band in fact traces their roots to 1978, in what began as the backing band for Coverdale’s solo performances and eventually morphed into its own unit. That year, the band would release its first EP, Snakebite, for Sunburst Records/United Artists Records; by 1980’s Ready An’ Willing, the band were on their way to no less than seven U.K. Top 10 albums through the decade. The band’s tenure with Sunburst ended with 1982’s Saints An’ Sinners, after which Coverdale and company packed up for Geffen Records. But that last LP featured an early version of “Here I Go Again” (which dented the U.K. Top 40) – a sign of success to come on both sides of the Atlantic.

EMI U.K. reissued these albums in the past decade with bonus tracks to spare, something this nine-disc set doesn’t replicate in full. What you do get, though, is replicas of all seven of the band’s studio and live albums for Sunburst (including a reproduction of the Japan-only live disc Live at Hammersmith, first released as a bonus disc with 1980 live album Live…in the Heart of the City), two discs of live performances from the 1979 and 1980 Reading Festivals, a DVD of promo videos, TV performances and an “official bootleg” of a concert taped at Washington’s Capital Center in Washington and a vinyl EP reproducing Snakebite in its entirety. A 90-page(!) book of liner notes and rare photos is also included.

A November 7 release date is slated for the U.K., but pre-order links have not been prepared yet. You can, however, view the full track list beyond the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 22, 2011 at 11:51

This Mortal Coil Box Set Not Too Thrown Off

with 5 comments

Beggar’s Archive has announced a comprehensive box of the music of This Mortal Coil, 4AD Records’ beloved dreampop collective.

Though the band was anchored by label head Ivo Watts-Russell, they were far from the “house band” at 4AD. Featuring a free-flowing lineup that featured members of Dead Can Dance, The Cocteau Twins, Dif Juz and the Pixies, the band was crafted, per the official website, “to allow artists the creative freedom to record material outside of the realm of what was expected of them.” With offbeat covers of relatively unusual or obscure songs – Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren” is one such early example – the group indeed challenged and pleased underground audiences from 1983 until 1991. Before retiring from the industry, Watts-Russell created a project, The Hope Blister, that was very similar to This Mortal Coil’s ambient sonic stylings, albeit with a fixed lineup.

The four-disc box set will feature remastered, Japanese-pressed HDCD editions of the band’s three albums – It’ll End in Tears (1984), Filigree & Shadow (1986) and Blood – with newly redesigned gatefold artwork by Watts-Russell and Vaughan Oliver, a longtime collaborator with 4AD. While those three albums will be released separately at a later date, this box will include a bonus disc featuring the band’s three non-LP singles in full, a track from a multi-artist compilation and two previously unreleased songs intended for a single with Rough Trade but unused.

And be on the lookout, HD fans: plans are afoot for the entire box to be released on Blu-Ray along with video content under the title Tears in the Dropbox. For now, the set comes out November 8 in the U.S. and a day early worldwide. Hit the jump for order links and the track list. (Due credit to our pals at Slicing Up Eyeballs for getting to this story first.) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 22, 2011 at 10:17