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Archive for October 26th, 2011

Costello’s Wheel Good Tour Captured on New Live Box Set

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In 1986, Elvis Costello and The Attractions did something bizarre for rock musicians: they reinvented the wheel. Okay, maybe that’s pushing it, but the introduction of “The Spectacular Spinning Songbook” to Costello’s tour itinerary remains among the most treasured of memories for longtime fans. Costello, who only used The Attractions once on his then-new album, King of America (opting instead for a number of other musicians, including a studio-created group, The Confederates, featuring T-Bone Wolk and Mitchell Froom and members of Elvis Presley’s 1970s T.C.B. Band), reassembled them for a humorously gaudy portion of the tour in which Costello, in character as fictitious game show host Napoleon Dynamite (years before that name was re-appropriated on film), invited audience members to spin a giant wheel to determine what the next song in the set list would be. Selections were varied, from hits to deep cuts to the odd cover or two.

A quarter of a century later, Elvis Costello and The Imposters (featuring original Attractions Steve Nieve on keyboards and Pete Thomas on drums and Davey Farragher on bass) reignited a live frenzy by bringing back the Spectacular Spinning Songbook – and this time, it’s been captured for release. And the lavish box set nature of the release is enough to warrant coverage on The Second Disc, for sure.

Hip-O’s Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook is a limited-edition box – only 1,500 numbered copies worldwide – culled from the group’s two dates at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theater in May of 2011. The set includes a CD of 16 performances from both nights, ranging from all ends of Costello’s lengthy career, from “Mystery Dance” off his 1978 debut My Aim is True to the title track of 2010’s National Ransom. The accompanying DVD showcases the second show on May 12 and includes highlights in covers of Nick Lowe (“Heart of the City”) and The Rolling Stones (“Out of Time”) as well as “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution),” featuring a guest appearance from Susanna Hoffs, who covered the track with The Bangles a year after Costello released his version on When I Was Cruel in 2002.

The box set also features a 10″ EP with an additional four songs, a 40-page hardbound book of photos and Costello’s journal entries while on tour, a 20″ x 30″ poster, a limited edition tour postcard and a commemorative card signed by Costello himself. Those who don’t want all the super-deluxe trimmings can rest easy, though: next year, the CD and DVD will be released individually and as a two-disc set.

The set’s in shops November 28, but you can order your copy right now through Amazon. Enjoy the set lists after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 26, 2011 at 13:58

Gilbert O’Sullivan “Himself” Coming Soon, Naturally

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In a little while from now, if I’m not feeling any less sour, I promise myself to treat myself…and listen to a Gilbert O’Sullivan record.  The quirky Irish singer/songwriter topped the charts in 1972 with “Alone Again, Naturally,” proclaimed by American Top 40 as the fifth most popular song of the entire decade.  But it’s also one of the most unusual.  As the song begins, the narrator is left at the altar and is contemplating “climbing to the top” of a “nearby tower” to throw himself off.  He imagines what people are saying about him, and knows that he’s alone again.  He hastens to add “naturally,” and we know that he’s felt alone before.  As the song ambles on, he questions God (“if He really does exist”) but identifies with all the others in his shoes: “It seems to me that there are more hearts broken in the world that can’t be mended…left unattended…what do we do?”  Even the music sighs.  But that’s not all.  He then remembers his father’s death and his mother’s (“And when she passed away/I cried and cried all day”) before resolving that he’s, of course, “Alone again, naturally.” This could be dire, gothic stuff.  But O’Sullivan set the song to a rich melody and arrangement that’s never grandiose or melodramatic.  It’s deceptively bouncy one minute, painfully aching the next and then wistfully resigned.  In short, it’s ultimately quite beautiful, and all too universal.  There’s heartbreak in the mundane as O’Sullivan matter-of-factly recounts his story, and it can reliably bring a smile to my face in the way that only a great song can.

It’s difficult to listen to “Alone Again, Naturally” as if for the first time.  O’Sullivan’s song has been performed by jazz singers (Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan), instrumentalists (Hank Crawford, Herb Alpert), funk goddesses (Esther Phillips), MOR kings (Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis), divas (Shirley Bassey), swingers (Bobby Darin), Mamas (Cass Elliot), and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends who are also divas (Elton John) and Jazz Singers (Neil Diamond).  But if you too hear “Alone Again, Naturally” as more than a maudlin artifact of the Seventies Preservation Society, has Union Square Music got a surprise for you!  The reissue and compilation specialist label has just announced plans to reissue deluxe editions of thirteen albums recorded between 1967 and 1997, plus a “best-of” and even a box set.  Union Square is probably best known for its acclaimed reissues of the Madness, Procol Harum and The Move catalogues, so O’Sullivan’s fans can reasonably expect comprehensive packages.

The first of these reissues has been announced for November 7, an expanded reissue of the singer’s 1971 U.K. debut, Himself.  Hit the jump for full details including track listing with discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 26, 2011 at 12:17

La-La Land Spends “55 Days at Peking,” Releases Full Golden Age Score

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La-La Land Records yesterday took a break from contemporary film score reissues and presented an expanded version of a classic score by Dimitri Tiomkin from 1963: 55 Days at Peking.

A dramatization of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 China, 55 Days at Peking depicts the Battle of Peking from the perspective of a group of foreign diplomats protected by the Chinese government in Peking’s legations district. Charlton Heston stars as an American major defending the ambassadors, and David Niven and Ava Gardner play British and Russian dignitaries, the latter of whom engages in an affair with Heston’s major.

One of the last regular directing credits by Nicholas Ray, director of Rebel Without a Cause, Peking boasts an Oscar-nominated score that’s classic Tiomkin, all muscular action interspersed with descriptive romantic themes at times. The music of 55 Days at Peking received two Oscar nominations, one for the general score and one for Best Song, the end title theme “So Little Time,” performed for the film by Andy Williams. The film was also prestigious enough in its day to warrant an album release on vinyl at the time.

Now, La-La Land greatly expands that album presentation on a lavish two-disc set, featuring nearly all of the score in stereo (with a few cues in mono), as well as several mono bonus tracks released on original singles or intended for EP releases. The set, featuring a 24-page booklet including liner notes from film score writer Mark K. DeWald, is limited to 2,000 copies and can be ordered here. As always, the track list is after the jump!

Dimitri Tiomkin, 55 Days at Peking: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (La-La Land Records LLLCD 1184, 2011 – original film released 1963)

Disc 1

  1. Overture
  2. Main Title
  3. “Peking, China, the summer of the year 1900…” *
  4. Order from a Prime Minister/In the Palace *
  5. Oriental *
  6. The Water Wheel Torture *
  7. A Dead British Missionary *
  8. Welcome Marines
  9. Hotel Blanc
  10. Lewis and Natasha’s First Encounter *
  11. Prince Tuan *
  12. Dance At the British Embassy (The Belfry Two-Step) (Mono) *
  13. The Boxers Entertain *
  14. Natasha’s Waltz
  15. Murder of the German Minister
  16. Mass Execution *
  17. An Empress’ Warning *
  18. Rescued from an Angry Crowd *
  19. Preparing for Battle *
  20. Natasha Visits a Chinaman *
  21. Lewis and Natasha Disagree * +
  22. Attack on the French Legation
  23. British Soldier Wounded *
  24. On Top of the Wall *
  25. All Quiet on the Eastern Front (Mono) *
  26. Here They Come (Peking First Battle)
  27. Hospital Scene *
  28. Moon Fire

Disc 2

  1. Intermission: The Peking Theme (So Little Time)
  2. Children’s Corner
  3. At the Hospital *
  4. A Message from Admiral Sidney *
  5. Lewis and Natasha *
  6. Theresa in Danger *
  7. Religious Ceremony/Covert Operation *
  8. Spoiling the Empress’ Party: Explosion of the Arsenal
  9. Old Soldiers Never Volunteer *
  10. Lewis Saves the Boy *
  11. Necklace for Drugs *
  12. The Truce is Over *
  13. Theresa and Lewis *
  14. Death of Natasha +
  15. A New Kind of Weapon *
  16. Peking Second Battle
  17. Bad News *
  18. Attack on the Compound *
  19. Help Arrives
  20. The Empress Alone *
  21. Auld Lang Syne (Sir Arthur And Lewis Say Goodbye) *
  22. End Title
  23. The Peking Theme (So Little Time) – Andy Williams
  24. So Little Time (Mono EP Version) *
  25. March (Mono EP Version) *
  26. Natasha (Mono EP Version) *
  27. Theresa (Mono EP Version) *
  28. So Little Time (Mono Single Version)
  29. Moon Fire (Mono Single Version)

* denotes previously unreleased track. + denotes track unused in film.

Disc 1, Tracks 1-2, 8-9, 14, 22 and 28 and Disc 2, Tracks 1-2, 8, 14, 19, 22 and 23 released as Columbia LP CS-8828, 1963.
Disc 2, Track 28 from Columbia single 4-42784, 1963.
Disc 2, Track 29 from Columbia single 4-42828, 1963.

Written by Mike Duquette

October 26, 2011 at 11:42

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Propiniquity: The Monkees’ “Instant Replay” Box Set Is Finally Here

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You’ve probably seen the hints on Twitter, and the clues on Facebook.  Now the real deal has been announced.  The Monkees’ 1969 Instant Replay is following in the footsteps of The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees and Head and receiving a 3-CD deluxe box set from the fine folks at Rhino Handmade.  It could represent one disc for each Monkee, as Peter Tork had already departed the band by the time of the album’s release in February 1969.  Instant Replay is a veritable grab-bag of tracks recorded between 1966 and 1969.  But with writers like Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and Neil Sedaka and Carole Bayer (pre-Sager), the end result is as appealing of any of the group’s more cohesively-assembled sets.  It would become the Monkees’ final Top 40 album, reaching No. 32 on the Billboard chart, and the penultimate album to feature Michael Nesmith before he, too, departed.

The new Instant Replay, due November 21, has been created by the same team behind the previous Monkees boxes, including producer/annotator Andrew Sandoval and designer Steve Stanley of the Now Sounds label.  It’s bolstered by a cornucopia of unreleased material, from alternate mixes to backing tracks and more, for a grand total of 87 tracks on three CDs, 58 of which are unreleased!  If that’s not enough for you, each copy of the set will come with a 45 RPM single with two more unreleased tracks!

Hit the jump for the full details and complete track listing, plus a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 26, 2011 at 09:19