The Second Disc

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Archive for October 12th, 2011

What a Fox! KISS Drummer Eric Carr Celebrated with Rarities Set

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While Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are known as the definitive lineup of iconic rock band KISS, longtime fans know the lineup has changed countless times in the past few decades. (Today’s incarnation of the band only features Stanley and Simmons as original members, with guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer wearing the original Spaceman and Catman makeup, respectively.)

One of the most notable other members of KISS, though, was Eric Carr. The first non-original member of the band, Carr was an avid drummer making a living as a repairman when he was plucked from obscurity to join the band. He remained a vital member during the band’s most transitory years, from their 1983 unmasking and beyond. While his career was cut too short by an incredibly rare diagnosis of heart cancer, which led to his passing in 1991, his spirit lives on – and fans’ desire for more material from his musical career will be met with next month’s release of Unfinished Business, a collection of demos and outtakes to commemorate the 20 years since Carr passed.

The 18-track set includes archival interviews with Carr and associates, alongside plenty of tracks from Carr’s vaults and other stuff. Highlights include Carr’s original KISS audition tape vocals to “Shandi,” with a newly-recorded instrumental backing track; demos from the Crazy Nights and Hot in the Shade sessions and a new recording of Carr’s 1991 lyric “Elephant Man” with instrumental support from AJ Pero of Twisted Sister and Kee Marcello of Europe.

The full track list is available after the jump. Those who order from Carr’s official website receive a collectible guitar pick with purchase.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 12, 2011 at 16:07

Posted in Compilations, KISS, News

Steve Perry’s “Street Talk” Gets Vinyl Reissue

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It’d be easy to imagine former Journey frontman Steve Perry doing little besides sitting on a pile of money and denying the opportunity to reunite with his old band. In fact, the singer has been hard at work revisiting his solo debut, Street Talk, for an audiophile release.

Perry, who has effusively praised the quality of Journey’s forthcoming Greatest Hits Volume 2 release, recently took to The Mastering Lab in Ojai, California, to remaster his hit album alongside engineer Robert Hadley for a 180-gram audiophile vinyl package.

In a statement, Perry discussed the process of remastering the album, which spawned major pop hits in “Oh Sherrie,” “Foolish Heart” and “She’s Mine.”

I started with a pristine 24bit/96khz transfer of the original stereo mix and went from there. We used Pro Tools to bring out some of the subtle frequencies and moments in the original mixes that, in the old world of live analog hands-on console mixing would get compromised. Now we can take our time and really make the original tracks shine. This hybrid of analog and digital is, in my opinion, the wave of the future. The vinyl pressings also sound fantastic! The RTI pressing plant really knows how to take the lacquers we created and press some amazing audiophile-quality vinyl. I truly feel like this is the way this album was supposed to sound!

The vinyl set – which will feature a digital download of the new master inside the package – will be available on November 1, alongside the new Journey compilation. The Amazon link and track list is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 12, 2011 at 15:15

Columbia Compiles “Classic Christmas” From Tony Bennett

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Tony Bennett once famously asked in song, “When do the bells ring for me?”  Well, this week, sleigh bells are ringing for the 85-years-young crooner.  Bennett, who recently topped the charts for the first time in his long career with Duets II, has added yet another title to his considerable catalogue.  The Classic Christmas Album was released yesterday by RPM, Columbia and Legacy, and brings together 18 holiday-themed recordings recorded between 1968 and 2008.

With Bennett’s typical class, the well-curated package draws on more than just his two Columbia Christmas releases, issued forty years apart (1968’s Snowfall and 2008’s A Swingin’ Christmas).  Those two seminal “bookend” albums are represented via five tracks each.  Four tracks come from 2002’s Hallmark-exclusive Christmas with Tony Bennett and the London Symphony Orchestra, and two are derived from Our Favorite Things: Christmas in Vienna, a Sony Classical album from 2001 featuring Bennett, Placido Domingo, Vanessa Williams and Charlotte Church.  A particularly nice inclusion is that of “Christmas in Herald Square” from Bennett’s 1998 children’s album The Playground, and for collectors, there’s his rendition of the traditional hymn “What Child is This” arranged and conducted by veteran talent Marion Evans.  (Evans recently reunited with the singer to write arrangements for Duets II.)  The discographical information included in The Classic Christmas Album indicates that this track is previously unreleased.  Bennett did, indeed, record “What Child is This” for Columbia Special Products’ release Great Songs of Christmas Volume 8, a 1968 tie-in for the Goodyear Tire Company.  Eagle-eyed Bennett fans noticed the song is missing from Barnes and Noble’s track listing for the upcoming Complete Albums Collection box set.   The version on Classic Christmas is a longer take than that original Goodyear cut, although the arrangement is identical; it’s possible that the Goodyear track was an edit of this original, lengthier version. (For those wondering, the Goodyear album also included performances by many Columbia mainstays of the holiday season like Robert Goulet, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Ray Conniff, Percy Faith and of course, Andy Williams!)

The eighteen tracks offer a nice mixture of the secular and the religious.  In the latter tradition, Bennett offers a swinging take on Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “My Favorite Things,” as well as his buoyant medley of Freeman and Brown’s “I Love the Winter Weather” and Irving Berlin’s “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.”  (Berlin’s song appears twice on the album, the second time in a duet version with daughter Antonia Bennett.)  The great Robert Farnon’s arrangements of “Winter Wonderland” and Berlin’s “White Christmas” are equally indelible.  On the sacred side, Bennett offers a duet with Placido Domingo on “The First Noel” as well as versions of “Silent Night,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” all accompanied by The London Symphony Orchestra.

Hit the jump for more info, including the complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 12, 2011 at 12:50

“Looking Good, La-La Land.” “Feeling Good, The Second Disc.”

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As previously reported, La-La Land Records’ newest release is the premiere of Elmer Bernstein’s score to the classic comedy Trading Places, available as of yesterday.

One of the most fondly remembered films of the 1980s, Trading Places is the story of a rich banker (Dan Aykroyd) conned by his bosses to lose everything as part of a “social experiment” to switch a rich man with a poor man and observe the results. The poor man who assumes Aykroyd’s life is a street hustler played by Eddie Murphy – but once he wises up to the scheme, the pair team up to get back at their bosses with hilarious results.

Bernstein, who’d score some great comedies in the ’80s (Airplane!, Stripes¡Three Amigos! and Ghostbusters, to name a few), was in top form on this one, classing up the soundtrack with elegant cues, a handful of which are based on Mozart’s classic Le nozze di Figaro. Every note is contained on this CD, including regular score cues, source material and alternates, 27 tracks in all.

This set, limited to 2,000 copies, is yours to order today, at far less than the cost of frozen concentrated orange juice shares. Full details are after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 12, 2011 at 12:42

Review: Matt Monro, “The Man Behind The Voice”

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In Michele Monro’s The Man Behind the Voice, the author sums up the career of her subject, who also happened to be her father: “Matt never acquired the ‘superstar’ tag, but quality was his code, and he earned the reputation for being a class act with a superlative gift.” 

Though Matt Monro died in 1985 aged just 54, his music continues to flourish today.  Monro’s voice is as vibrant now as when he first recorded “Born Free,” “To Russia with Love” or any of the countless other songs, both contemporary and classic, that form his discography.  And with Messrs. Merriam and Webster defining a “superstar” as one who is “extremely talented, has great public appeal and can usually command a high salary,” Ms. Monro has made a great argument for her father’s enduring superstar status.  She’s behind the impressive Matt Monro reissue campaign from EMI, and the latest creative release in that program, The Man Behind the Voice, is a “bookazine” consisting of a 64-page magazine, a 20-track compact disc companion (or soundtrack, if you will) and replica 45 single of “Portrait of My Love” b/w “You’re the Top of My Hit Parade.”  EMI and the Monro family have released this wonderful gift collection in conjunction with another high-profile reissue, the box set The Singer’s Singer.

The compact disc The Man Behind the Voice is thoughtfully compiled, showcasing the purity and clarity of tone in Monro’s voice over a variety of recordings.  (Pay special attention to the closing sequence, with “If I Never Sing Another Song,” “The Last Farewell,” “We’re Gonna Change the World” and “Softly, As I Leave You.”)  A number of Monro’s most famous recordings are here, of course, including “Born Free,” “To Russia with Love” and “Walk Away.”  But the real attraction for collectors will undoubtedly be two tracks (Clive Westlake’s “Only Once” and Roger Whittaker and Ronald Webster’s “The Last Farewell”) appearing here for the very first time on CD.  In addition, every track has been presented in the most up-to-date sound possible.  Remastering engineer Richard Moore has derived 14 tracks from his own 2010 remasters for EMI, while the remaining six tracks have all been derived from the original masters.  Two tracks, “Nice and Easy” and a medley of “S’Wonderful” and “I Get a Kick Out of You,” were subjected to noise reduction for a 2006 release, and Moore has worked wonders on restoring them to superior quality here.

Monro’s vocals were romantic but assured, capable of sensitively caressing the ballads and raucously swinging the up-tempo songs.  His style was a deceptively simple one: a dash of legit pipes, a touch of Bing Crosby-esque intimacy, a brash swinger’s confidence.  It added up to a sound uniquely Monro.  His arrangements were largely free of gimmickry, with the voice front and center.  Don Black’s lyric to “Born Free,” set so beautifully to John Barry’s majestic melody, took off in Monro’s capable hands, resonating beyond the original story of a lion cub.  There are hits from Broadway (Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse’s “Gonna Build a Mountain” from Stop The World! I Want to Get Off!, Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’ fantastic, underrated “This is the Life” from Golden Boy and the deathless “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha) plus quintessential performances like Bricusse’s “My Kind of Girl” and Monro’s first hit, “Portrait of My Love,” which may be better-known to American listeners via Steve Lawrence’s successful version.

Monro had a sharp ear for contemporary pop, and as a result recorded fewer Tin Pan Alley standards than many of his contemporaries, but the “S’Wonderful” medley included here certainly shows his flair for the genre.  His treatment of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” still stands apart from the rest, and was spurred on by the producer Monro shared with John, Paul, George and Ringo: one Sir George Martin.  Monro’s recording was one of the song’s very first cover versions, and its sensitive arrangement and restrained vocal gained the singer a Top 10 single in the United Kingdom.  The CD is housed in a digipak; all that missing is discographical information as to the origin of each song, which would have pointed new fans in the right direction for further listening.

There’s plenty more Monro after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 12, 2011 at 09:34

Posted in Compilations, Matt Monro, News, Reissues, Reviews

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