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Archive for November 2011

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time (Part 3: #90-86)

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In Part 3 of our first-ever official Second Disc Buyers Guide, we look at five more of the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003, through the filter of when and how these classic albums have been reissued, remastered and repackaged. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself which versions of these albums to buy for certain bonus tracks and the like, wonder no more.

Today, we meet the Beatles, travel to Memphis with a beehived British soul queen, have the blues at Folsom Prison and add another brick in The Wall!  And don’t forget the Motor City!

90. Stevie Wonder, Talking Book (Motown, 1972)

As 1972 began,  the pianist, composer, arranger, producer and singer once known as Little Stevie Wonder was enjoying the creative freedom he had only recently won from Berry Gordy’s Motown empire.  Wonder was only 21 when Music of My Mind was released in March of that year, and although some point to 1971’s Where I’m Coming From as his first mature solo album, Music of My Mind was a far more ambitious effort.  “Superwoman,” “Happier Than the Morning Sun” and “I Love Every Little Thing About You” heralded a talent far deeper than even his considerable past accomplishments could have indicated.  Released just months later in October, Talking Book (amazingly Wonder’s fifteenth studio album!) took the artist’s studio experimentation one step further, incorporating densely layered keyboards: clavinets, electric pianos, synthesizers.  But even the rich, unique production – by Wonder, Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil – couldn’t carry an album alone.  Wonder had to match his cutting-edge production with top-notch songwriting.  And did he deliver!

“You Are the Sunshine of My Life” netted Wonder a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal, but he was already crossing genre lines when “Superstition” took home the prizes for Best Male R&B Vocal and Best R&B Song the same evening.  Those two songs alone would be enough to carry an album, but Wonder also delivered perennials like “You’ve Got It Bad Girl” and “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever),” both co-written with Yvonne Wright, and “Blame It on the Sun,” co-written with Syreeta (Yvonne’s sister and Stevie’s former wife).  He was surrounded by the crème of the crop, musically speaking, with contributions from Ray Parker, Jr., David Sanborn, Deniece Williams and even Jeff Beck on the Stevie/Syreeta co-write “Lookin’ For Another Pure Love.”  Ranging from gorgeous, open-hearted pop and soul to pulsating funk, Talking Book spoke volumes about its young auteur.

Talking Book has never received an expanded treatment on compact disc.  The original 1990 CD (Motown MCD 09051) and its 2000 remaster by Kevin Reeves (Motown 012 157 354-2 in a standard edition, 012 157 579-2 in a limited digipak) both mirror the original (some might say “perfect”) album sequence.  In 2009, Talking Book received the Japanese SHM-CD treatment (Motown/Universal UICY-93933) and in 2010, Audio Fidelity’s Kevin Gray remastered it for a 24K Gold CD (AFZ 076).  Little did listeners in 1972 know, however, that the best was still yet to come for Stevie Wonder.

89. Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis (Atlantic/Philips, 1969)

Writing for Rolling Stone in 1969, Greil Marcus commented of Dusty in Memphis, “Most white female singers in today’s music are still searching for music they can call their own.  Dusty is not searching.  She just shows up, and she, and we, are the better for it.”  When the British chanteuse showed up in Memphis, she wasn’t sure what to expect.  “I figured it would be Aretha kinds of songs…much more gritty R&B,” Dusty commented.  Instead, Dusty in Memphis served up the classy pop Springfield did better than anyone, but arranged in smoking Memphis style.  Hence, the album opens with one of the most smoldering songs ever, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Just a Little Lovin’,” in its definitive arrangement.  Carole King and Gerry Goffin were tapped for “So Much Love,” “Don’t Forget About Me,” and two tour de forces of drama, “No Easy Way Down” and “I Can’t Make It Alone.”  The young Randy Newman offered “Just One Smile” and the powerful character study “I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore,” while Burt Bacharach and Hal David contributed the impressionistic “In the Land of Make Believe.”  From the pens of Michel Legrand and Alan and Marilyn Bergman came the haunting, evocative “The Windmills of Your Mind,” hardly a standard selection for a southern soul album.  The seductive atmosphere continued with Eddie Hinton and Donnie Fritts’ “Breakfast in Bed,” but the song that put Dusty in Memphis on the map was John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins’ “Son of a Preacher Man.”  Springfield’s smoky, sensual vocals convincingly convey the saucy lyric, and the tight band just crackles behind her.  The match of material to artist to musicians achieved on Dusty in Memphis has rarely been matched since.

In Springfield’s native United Kingdom, a 1995 CD reissue on the Mercury label (528-687-2) shifted the sequence of a couple tracks.  The original American CD reissue on Rhino in 1992 (Rhino/Atlantic 70135) offered three bonus tracks: “What Do You Do When Love Dies,” “Willie and Laura Mae Jones” and another Goffin/King song, “Hi De Ho (That Old Sweet Roll).”   “What Do You Do…” was an outtake from the Memphis sessions, while the latter two tracks reteamed Dusty with Memphis producers Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd.  Rhino’s 1999 expansion was a far more lavish affair (R2 75580), expanding the album’s original 11 tracks with 14 bonus cuts (including the three included in 1992).  These songs were of varying vintages and not related to Memphis, though each track is superb and well worth seeking out, including previously-unissued material produced by Jeff Barry and the team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.  The same year Rhino expanded Memphis in America, Springfield’s U.K. label, Mercury/Philips, did the same.  Philips’ slipcased U.K. edition (063-297-2) utilized an alternate cover, similar to that seen above, and offered liner notes by Elvis Costello as well as eight bonus tracks of the album’s mono singles.  Both the Rhino and Philips editions are absolutely indispensable for fans and collectors of the one and only Dusty Springfield.   And who isn’t?

Hit the jump and we’ll meet you in Folsom Prison! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 30, 2011 at 13:01

Reissue Theory: The Cure, “Standing on a Beach/Staring at the Sea”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. The recent success of some U.S. dates from The Cure have us thinking about their first compilation – a must-own for alt-rock fans when it was released a quarter-century ago – and how its best configuration deserves a release on CD.

With a catalogue that stretches back to the late ’70s and starts off far more solidly than most bands, it was a treat to see The Cure celebrate their early years in 2011 with a series of “Reflections” concerts, which saw them perform their first three albums (and more hits and rarities) in their entirety. (The run closed with three shows at New York City’s Beacon Theatre this past weekend, and frontman Robert Smith ended the last concert with a promising “We’ll see you again next year.”)

The run got Second Disc HQ thinking about the band’s first compilation, 1986’s Standing on a Beach: The Singles (or, as it was known on some CD copies, Staring at the Sea), which captured the group’s original gamut of college rock hits (including early classics like “Killing an Arab,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Let’s Go to Bed,” “The Lovecats,” “In Between Days” and “Close to Me”) before 1987’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and 1989’s Disintegration took the group to a beautiful round of crossover pop success.

In retrospect, what made Standing on a Beach so exciting at the time was its clever use of formats. Vinyl listeners had a taut 13 tracks to enjoy on their edition, while CD connoisseurs could take advantage of the longer playing times with an additional four non-single tracks (“10:15 Saturday Night,” “Play for Today,” “Other Voices” and “A Night Like This,” all of which received airplay through their music videos). But cassette owners had it best. The 13 tracks of the vinyl edition of Staring were on one side of the tape, while another dozen “unavailable B-sides” (all previously released on vinyl) made up the other side.

Ultimately, Standing on a Beach became the group’s highest-charting album at the time, peaking at No. 4 in the U.K. and No. 48 in America and ultimately selling two million copies on our shores. Less successful but just as intriguing for collectors was one single released to promote the set: a remix of 1979’s “Boys Don’t Cry,” featuring a new vocal track from Robert Smith. Fans didn’t warm up to the “New Voice – New Mix” too well – Smith’s vocal sort of clashes against the original track, and it only went to No. 22 in 1986 – but there was manna for collectors in the form of two previously unreleased tracks recorded in 1979 on the B-side, “Pillbox Tales” and “Do the Hansa” (the latter of which was performed for the first time by the band, fittingly enough, at their last Reflections show).

While all of the B-sides were collated on Rhino’s Join the Dots box set in 2004 (freeing up space for demos, rough mixes and session material on the label’s ongoing series of deluxe editions), it would be fun to see a reissue of Staring at the Sea with its original B-sides playlist reinstated, as either a two-disc set or a novel cassette reissue. Throw the remixed “Boys” on there (which should make the first time the track’s appeared on CD) and its two B-sides, and you have a nice little curio for collectors.

Go on, go on and check out our dream deluxe arrangement of Standing on a Beach after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 30, 2011 at 12:36

Young Manhood, Revisited: Kings of Leon to Release Vinyl Box Set

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In the past decade, there have been plenty of bands hawked as the one to save rock music and radio from the doldrums it’s sat in for far too long. But few were agreed upon quite like Kings of Leon, whose Southern and blues influences, coupled with some alternative sensibilities and an arena-worthy sound, made them one of the hottest bands in the world of late. And this December, RCA is set to celebrate their path to “hottest band” status with The Early Vinyl, a lavish, seven-LP box set chronicling the first four years of their career.

The box, first announced as a Record Store Day exclusive but now available to order on the band’s official website, will feature remastered, double-vinyl editions of the band’s first three albums, Youth and Young Manhood (2003), Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004) and Because of the Times (2007), as well as Rarely, a bonus LP of studio and live rarities, including four live performances making their debut on any format.

Kings of Leon were officially formed in Nashville, but came of age in Albion, Oklahoma, where their family was raised. Indeed, the band is comprised of three brothers in the Followill family – singer Caleb, bassist Jared, drummer Nathan and guitarist Matthew (a cousin) – and their early style, reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd by way of The Strokes and infused with a touch of their father’s Pentecostal preacher fire, won them a major critical following from the debut release of their Holy Roller Novocaine EP in the summer of 2003.

While their native U.S. was slow to catch on, the U.K. public embraced them warmly. (Youth and Young Manhood sold 750,000 copies in Europe against 100,000 in the States.) In fact, it wasn’t until 2008, with the release of Only by the Night – which peaked at No. 4 in the U.S. and spawned the Top 5 single “Use Somebody,” which won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 2010 – that the Kings got their due in their home country. (It was seemingly short-lived anyway, after the cancellation of this summer’s tour following what some perceived as Caleb Followill’s onstage drunkenness and a subsequent announcement of a temporary hiatus.)

But the release of The Early Vinyl will hopefully take some of that edge off for KoL fans. You can order it at the link above and view the full track lists after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 30, 2011 at 11:17

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time (Part 2: #95-91)

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Welcome to our brand-new, exhaustive feature to take us to the end of another great year for reissues and box sets: our first-ever official Second Disc Buyers Guide! From now until Christmas, we’re taking you on a delightful trip through the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003, through the filter of when and how these classic albums have been reissued, remastered and repackaged. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself which versions of these albums to buy for certain bonus tracks and the like, wonder no more.

In our second installment, you’ll travel from the bayou to the Yellow Brick Road, and everywhere in between.  We’ll journey from the 1950s through the 1980s with a group of true legends: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Miles Davis, Prince, Buddy Holly and Elton John!

95. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Green River (Fantasy, 1969)

If you tuned into the Thanksgiving Day parade coverage on CBS last week, you might have found a sight that had nothing to do with Macy’s, giant floats or cartoon characters.  That sight was one John Fogerty, late of the band Creedence Clearwater Revival , playing many of his classic hits for an appreciative audience that Thanksgiving morning.  Fogerty hasn’t always had such a warm relationship with his back catalogue, the result of acrimony between the singer/songwriter and both his bandmates and his original label.  Though tensions have since cooled, with Fogerty even indicating to Rolling Stone that he would be open to considering a reunion (“It’s possible, yeah. I think the call would maybe have to come from outside the realm … [But] I haven’t really wasted mental energy being angry for quite some time.”), only one thing has remained a constant in all of these years: the vitality of Fogerty’s so-called “swamp rock” created with Doug Clifford, Stu Cook and his brother Tom Fogerty in Creedence.

The band’s third album, 1969’s Green River, crystallized the sound of its predecessor Bayou Country.  Both albums have a number of similarities: an all-Fogerty line-up of original songs supplemented by one cover version (“Good Golly, Miss Molly” on the earlier album, “Night Time is the Right Time” on the later one), a powerful title song, a blend of evocative, haunting imagery with good-time rock.  But the songs on Green River were tighter, more focused and more idiosyncratic.  (The entire album is barely thirty minutes long.)  “Lodi” exposed Fogerty’s fear of becoming a musician stuck playing dead-end dives in a town such as Lodi, California (some 70 miles away from Fogerty’s Bay Area home), while “Bad Moon Rising” was the most perfect expression yet of the songwriter’s darkness-meets-light ethos.  The elegiac “Green River” painted an evocative picture of a South that might have never been, but now always will be, in song.

Green River has been issued numerous times on CD, and all editions save the most recent edition have featured only the original nine-song track listing.  The original Fantasy CD (Fantasy 4514) was upgraded by the label with “20-Bit K2 Super Coding” remastering (FCD24-8393) in 2000, but some listeners might prefer the limited edition 24K Gold CD released in 1994 by DCC Compact Classics (GZS-1064) as remastered by Steve Hoffman.  Hoffman himself revisited Green River for Analogue Productions in 2003 as a hybrid stereo SACD (Analogue Productions CAPP 8393 SA) with amazingly crisp sound or a 180-gram vinyl LP.  Green River was also included in full on the 2001 box set Creedence Clearwater Revival (Fantasy 6CCRCD-4434-2) with the 20-bit “K2” sound.  Fantasy, under the new ownership of Concord Records, mended fences with John Fogerty after his clashes with former label boss Saul Zaentz, and issued definitive 40th Anniversary Editions of the Creedence catalogue.  Green River (FAN-30878, 2008) was expanded by five bonus tracks: two instrumental test tracks recorded prior to the sessions which yielded the album (“Broken Spoke Shuffle” and “Glory Be”) and three live renditions (“Bad Moon Rising” from Berlin on September 16, 1971, “Green River/Suzie Q” from Stockholm on September 21, 1971 and “Lodi” from Hamburg on September 17, 1971).

94. Miles Davis, Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970)

If Miles Davis’ groundbreaking work with his Second Great Quintet was far-removed from his early bebop days, or his Gil Evans-arranged orchestral albums, nothing could have prepared listeners fully for 1970’s Bitches Brew.  On this sprawling double album, Davis embraced electric instrumentation and an improvised rock spirit that wouldn’t have fazed fans of Jimi Hendrix.  The gambit paid off when Bitches picked up Grammy Awards and gold records.  Entirely self-composed by Davis with the exception of Joe Zawinul’s “Pharoah’s Dance” and Wayne Shorter’s “Sanctuary,” Bitches Brew featured use of the studio itself as a musical instrument, with its lengthy tracks spliced and edited to their final form.  Davis’ trumpet playing had become more aggressive and he shares the solo spotlight with the soprano saxophone of Shorter.   Tracks featured up to 12 musicians playing at any time, including Zawinul,  Shorter, Ron Carter, Airto Moreira, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Don Alias, Bennie Maupin, Larry Young, and Lenny White.  Bitches Brew is a landmark recording not simply in jazz-rock or fusion, but in jazz itself, inspiring countless imitators and proving that Davis circa 1970 remained a restlessly inventive artist who refused to be relegated to music’s back pages.  Critical reaction was divided as to Davis’ polarizing, innovative new style, and the album is still much-discussed today.

Much like Davis’ 1959 modal jazz breakthrough Kind of Blue, Bitches Brew has been reissued with great frequency.  Early CD issues (such as Columbia C2K 40577 under the “CBS Jazz Masterpieces” banner) replicated the original 6-song track listing, while Legacy’s 1999 remaster (C2K 65774) added one bonus track to the second disc, Wayne Shorter’s “Feio.”  That track was recorded in early 1970 with much of the same personnel as the core album.  However, the Legacy remaster featured a remix of the album; the original can be found on older Japanese issues such as CSCS 5151-2 or 50DP 703-4 as well as on the 1996 Japan-only SRCS 9118-9.  Sony’s ace engineer Mark Wilder explained the remix as follows: “[The] two tracks [i.e. the actual stereo mix down master tape] had not aged well. So we could either work with inferior tape copies from other countries, or go back to the original eight tracks and remix them, and so save ourselves a generation. The decision was made to remix from the original multitracks.”  The remix became the norm for subsequent reissues.  Bitches Brew has also been released on SACD in its remixed form as SIGP-20/21 in 2003 and SICP 10089-90 in 2007.

1998’s The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (Columbia/Legacy 65570) is the sixth in a series of chronological “complete” box sets chronicling Miles Davis’ Columbia Records career.  That 4-CD set compiles all tracks Davis recorded between August 19, 1969 and February 6, 1970, including Bitches Brew in its entirety.  At the time of its release, some questioned the curating process for this set.  Outside of the tracks which originally appeared on Bitches Brew, none of the other tracks on the box were recorded during the same August 1969 sessions that resulted in the final album. Some material recorded for, but not used on Bitches Brew, was not included, primarily rehearsal takes and unedited performances of the six album tracks.  This box set was reissued in 2004 with new packaging as Columbia/Legacy 90924.

The Bitches Brew saga continued in 2010 with both a 3-CD/1-DVD/LP Super Deluxe Edition (Columbia/Legacy 88697 70274 2) and 2-CD/1-DVD Legacy Edition (Columbia/Legacy 88697 54519 2) in commemoration of the album’s 40th anniversary.  The first CDs include the original album (albeit in remixed form) plus six bonus tracks: two previously unreleased alternate takes of “Spanish Key” and “John McLaughlin” as well as the single edits of “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down,” “Spanish Key,” “Great Expectations,” and “Little Blue Frog.”   The third CD captures a live gig at Tanglewood from August 1970 with August 1970, with Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira and Gary Bartz.  The 71-minute DVD Copenhagen Live 1969 preserves a complete performance by a quintet that includes Shorter, Corea, Holland, and DeJohnette.  The Legacy Edition included the first two CDs and the Copenhagen DVD only.   Bitches Brew Live (Columbia/Legacy 88697 81485 2) appeared in early 2011, with nine rare performances recorded at festivals nine months before Bitches Brew‘s release (Newport Jazz Festival, July 1969, the first three tracks, previously unissued) and four months after (Isle Of Wight, August 1970, the final six tracks).

Hit the jump for the scoop on entries from Prince, Buddy Holly and Elton John! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 29, 2011 at 13:35

Soundtrack Round-Up: Intrada Commits “Robbery,” La-La Land Bows Final Titles for 2011

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The end of the calendar year is a boom time for all those working in reissues, especially the soundtrack labels. Today, six major titles go on sale that are certainly worth a look here at Second Disc HQ.

Intrada’s two latest sets, announced last night, are pretty major. One is a brand new reissue of the score to The Great Train Robbery, Jerry Goldsmith’s classic soundtrack to the film directed by author Michael Crichton from his best-selling novel. Though the score is no stranger to CD, having been released and expanded by Varese Sarabande years ago, this special double-disc presentation expands the original score to completeness from newly-discovered two-track stereo masters. That includes 16 unreleased, alternate and source tracks. As an added bonus, the original soundtrack LP, released by United Artists at the time of the film’s release, is included as well. (It boasts alternate edits and mixes, as is often the case on original score albums.) And best of all, the set is both unlimited and selling for $19.99, the price of a typical single-disc set from Intrada.

The label’s other project is a very significant one: the premiere of the score to Wolfen, composed by a young James Horner. This horror flick, featuring Albert Finney as an NYPD detective pitted against a clan of shapeshifting murderers, was one of Horner’s first major screen credits, predating the one-two punch of 48 Hrs. and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by a year. The CD features all of the music (including two alternate takes) written for the film. (It does not, however, feature all the music in the movie; some tracks from Horner’s then-most recent score, The Hand, were tracked in, to the point where they actually sounded like they could have been written for the film.) Knowing as score fans do that Horner is usually very reluctant to release early works, this is a pretty big coup for Intrada.

Speaking of coups, La-La Land didn’t disappoint with their Black Friday announcement of four major catalogue soundtracks, available to order now. The titles are a double-disc expansion of Michael Kamen’s adrenaline-fueled score to action classic Die Hard (1988), the premiere release of Danny Elfman’s score to the Bill Murray Christmas comedy Scrooged (1988), and expansions of two latter-day film adaptations of World War II events – Jerry Goldsmith’s score to the Pearl Harbor Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) and Ennio Morricone’s music to 1989’s Fat Man and Little Boy, about the carrying out of the Manhattan Project, the nuclear missiles which ended the Second Great War.

You can order all these sets right now, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 29, 2011 at 13:08

UPDATE: Doris Day Opens The Vaults For “My Heart” and There’s Plenty For Beach Boys Fans, Album Gets U.S. Release

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The vault has finally been opened!  Sony Music U.K. has confirmed a release date and track listing for singing legend Doris Day’s long-awaited My Heart, on which your humble correspondent first reported in August 2010 and revisited back in November!  Thanks to the fine folks at Doris Day Tribute for spreading this news!  My Heart marks Doris’ first album of original studio material in some seventeen years, since The Love Album, and it features a number of tracks that will be of interest to the Beach Boys fan and collector communities.  Day’s 29th studio album, My Heart is set for release on September 5 in the U.K. with an American release hopefully to follow. 

UPDATE 11/29: That American release is almost here!  Doris Day’s own production company, Arwin Productions, drops My Heart next Tuesday, December 6, in the United States.  And the Arwin release will include a special U.S.-only bonus track, “Stewball.”  A traditional tune as arranged by Terry Melcher, “Stewball” was recorded circa 1985 for the Doris Day’s Best Friends television program, and it now makes its first commercial release anywhere! 

My Heart made chart history earlier this year when it entered at No. 9, making Day, 87, the oldest artist to score a new Top 10 entry in the U.K. pop chart.  Dame Vera Lynn topped the British chart in 2009 at 92, but Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again was exclusively a retrospective, whereas My Heart premieres “new” studio material.

Some details have changed since the initial announcement of the album, but Day’s sentiment in assembling it remains true: “These songs all mean so much to me…They bring back happy memories of my friends who appeared on TV with me, my animal friends, and most of all, my [late] son Terry.”  The Terry of whom she speaks is Terry Melcher, the producer and songwriter behind hits for The Byrds and The Beach Boys as well as some of Doris’ most notable recordings including “Move Over Darling.”  Though Melcher died in 2004, some of his unheard productions recorded in the 1980s for the Doris Day’s Best Friends television series will be premiered on My Heart.  (Click here for the full list!)

Eight songs in all are appearing for the first time.  Four of those tracks were written by Melcher in tandem with Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, the team once known to pop listeners as Bruce and Terry.  These include the title song, “The Way I Dreamed It” and a duo of songs that may be familiar to listeners, though not in these recordings.  “Heaven Tonight,” which in Day’s version will be promoted as the album’s single, was recorded by Captain and Tennille, also longtime Beach Boys associates.  The Beach Boys themselves performed “Happy Endings” with Little Richard, from the 1988 Whoopi Goldberg vehicle The Telephone.

Hit the jump for the updated run-down on the rest of the contents of My Heart, including remarks from Bruce Johnston about the album’s production!  plus the complete track listing with discographical information and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 29, 2011 at 10:26

Release Round-Up: Week of November 29

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Now begins the drought. A couple of respectable catalogue titles, but it’s going to be shorter round-ups from here through 2011.

The Monkees, Instant Replay: Deluxe Edition (Rhino Handmade)

Three discs and 87 tracks worth of this underrated entry in The Monkees’ catalogue, featuring stereo and mono mixes and session takes galore.

Smashing Pumpkins, Gish / Siamese Dream: Deluxe Editions (Virgin/EMI)

The first releases in a planned three-year reissue project for Billy Corgan and his Pumpkins, the first two studio albums are augmented with rare, mostly unreleased material on a bonus CD and vintage live concerts on DVD.

The Rolling Stones, Some Girls Live in Texas (Eagle Rock)

Eagle Rock complements the recent Stones reissue with an unreleased live CD/Blu-Ray of a 1978 show.

Gorillaz, The Singles Collection (Virgin/EMI)

An animated (ho!) overview of Damon Albarn’s famous post-Blur multimedia project, featuring the band’s singles and a few rarer remixes.

Richard Thompson, Strict Tempo! (Omnivore)

Thirty years on, a remastered CD of Thompson’s self-released second solo album (released a year before the final Richard and Linda Thompson album, Shoot Out the Lights), consisting of traditional tunes and favorites almost entirely performed by Thompson (with Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention on drums).

Written by Mike Duquette

November 29, 2011 at 08:17

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time (Part 1: #100-96)

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Welcome to our brand-new, exhaustive feature to take us to the end of another great year for reissues and box sets: our first-ever official Second Disc Buyers Guide! From now until Christmas, we’re taking you on a delightful trip through the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003, through the filter of when and how these classic albums have been reissued, remastered and repackaged. If you’ve ever wondered to yourself which versions of these albums to buy for certain bonus tracks and the like, wonder no more.

Our first installment takes us from the smoky, jazzy style of Frank Sinatra to the New Wave heavy artillery of Elvis Costello, with a little bit of funk and rock opera thrown in for good measure. It’s all waiting for you after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 28, 2011 at 12:00

Start Me Up: Rolling Stones’ Digital Archive Unveils Vintage Concerts and More

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Once famously reluctant to unlock their vault, The Rolling Stones are swinging those doors wide open.  Following the deluxe, expanded editions of Exile on Main St. (1972) and Some Girls (1978), the world’s greatest rock and roll band has turned its attention to the aptly-titled Stones Archive, a digital repository of all things that Glimmer.  The band’s official site promises fans “can listen to unheard music, view unseen photographs and films, and look at rare merchandise. Fans have the opportunity to buy items such as signed lithographs, deluxe box sets, even personalised merchandise and tour gear in the shop.”

Far more exciting to most collectors than the signed swag, however, is the prospect of the digital archive rescuing some of the band’s long-buried material for official presentation.  The opening salvo is a powerful one, the first commercial release of an October 1973 concert recorded at the Forest National in Belgium.

On tour in support of 1973’s Goat’s Head Soup (the band’s final LP produced by Jimmy Miller and the album which introduced the perennial “Angie”), The Rolling Stones were at the peak of their golden age when The Brussels Affair (Live 1973) was captured on tape.  Of the 21 cities visited by Mick Jagger, Keith Records, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Mick Taylor, Brussels was the second-to-last stop.  Two shows were to be performed in one day but the band’s energy hardly was flagging.  The concerts’ place in band lore was solidified when the Brussels gigs began to be circulated among diehard fans in bootleg form.

The Brussels Affair (Live 1973) might be familiar to Stones collectors under such titles as Europe ’73 and Bedspring Symphony.  According to the Stones Archive, those bootlegs were derived primarily from radio broadcasts, including the storied King Biscuit Flower Hour, and often contained songs from concerts at other venues. The new edition has been created strictly from the original multi-track masters recorded by Andy Johns on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio of the two Brussels performances only. Bob Clearmountain is responsible for the final mix.

Highlights of the 15 songs on the new digital release include an epic 11-minute version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a lusty “Brown Sugar,” a powerful 13-minute “Midnight Rambler” and a potent closing take on “Street Fighting Man.”  Along the way you’ll also hear “Angie,” of course, plus “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Tumbling Dice” and “Gimme Shelter.”  The shows were intended for commercial release at the time, but plans were ultimately shelved, until now.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

November 28, 2011 at 10:05

Friday Feature: Muppet Memories

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This month, it’s finally time to play the music and light the lights, with the release of The Muppets, a brand new film featuring Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo and just about all of Jim Henson’s furry, felt-covered creations in an all-new story co-written by fabulous funnyman and human co-star Jason Segel (star of TV’s How I Met Your Mother and co-writer and star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

The film, which sees the Muppet gang reunite after years out of the limelight to save their old theatre, is unquestionably one of the major motion picture events of the year, bringing the characters back to a generation that hasn’t had many opportunities to catch them in film or television (the last theatrical venture was 1999’s commercially disappointing Muppets from Space). But more excitingly, it is a great movie. Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s script strikes the perfect balance between unabashed appreciation for the characters and accessible, tasteful humor for modern-day kids and their parents. It wouldn’t be out of place to imagine the dearly departed Henson appreciating its simple, timeless message of the power of friendship and laughter in the face of a pop-cultural landscape that too often dabbles in cynicism and irony.

And the music! Longtime fans will appreciate the appearance of some of the most famous Muppet tunes in the new film, but the new songs, most of them written by Bret McKenzie – best known as half of the comedy-folk duo Flight of the Conchords – possess exactly the kind of spirit you’d want from a Muppet movie. (In particular, “Life’s a Happy Song” is destined to score more than a few trips to the Disney parks.) Indeed, music has been an integral part of Muppetology since the very beginning: from the inescapable theme from Sesame Street to the endearing kitchen-sink/music hall playlists of each episode of The Muppet Show (often sprinkled with a dash of endearing originals, like Joe Raposo’s “Bein’ Green”).

It’s in that spirit that we present this weekend’s Friday Feature, which showcases the soundtracks of those first three Muppet movies which set the template for this great new one. All of them have some wonderfully captivating songs (and stories behind songs) as well as – what else? – checkered histories on CD. So for the lovers, the dreamers and you: this is our tribute to Muppet movie music, and it starts after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 25, 2011 at 11:17