The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for November 14th, 2011

ZTT Ascends to New “Heights”

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ZTT Records has had a bit of success this year releasing archival projects by 808 State, expanding and reissuing four of their albums in 2010 and issuing a career-spanning anthology, Blueprint, earlier this year. Now, Japanese audiences have another 808-related title to enjoy: an expanded edition of The North At Its Heights, the debut album by Madchester artist MC Tunes.

Tunes, born Nicholas Hodgson, was only 18 when he became the first rapper signed to the ZTT label. He was signed right as 808 State joined the label, and the group was soon hired to produce Tunes’ album. It was 808’s first brush with chart success, as the album hit No. 26 in the U.K. and spawned a Top 10 single, “The Only Rhyme That Bites.” Hodgson never found the same amount of success as an artist, but he did enjoy brief success with a new project, Dust Junkys, in the late ’90s, and also contributed to an 808 State track, “Pump,” released on the Japanese compilation Thermo Kings in 1996.

This new edition of Heights comes expanded with seven unreleased remixes of “The Only Rhyme That Bites,” follow-up Top 20 hit “Tunes Splits the Atom,” “Pump” and “Dance Yourself to Death,” produced by 808 State, The Dust Brothers and others, including one brand-new remix just for this release by Tunes’ new outfit, The Ugly Project.

The set is out on November 19 in Japan; hit the jump for an order link and track list.

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 14, 2011 at 15:41

Reissue Theory: Ephraim Lewis, “Skin”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Beautiful pop-soul from an artist that should have had a much longer career is the order of the day; we present a look back at Ephraim Lewis, the best ’90s soul singer time forgot.

If you use reissues and expanded music titles as tools to uncover an artist’s body of work or to shine a light on a forgotten musician, you doubtlessly have plenty of albums you’d like to see rescued from the flotsam of used bins everywhere, and put up on a pedestal for all to rediscover.

In today’s Reissue Theory, we add another name to the pile: Ephraim Lewis. The British singer is best known among music geeks for his brilliant entry into the music world and his tragic exit from it. But there are plenty who are missing out. And if you like your pop and R&B sophisticated and romantic, you’re going to want to acquaint – or reacquaint – yourself as we imagine a forgotten classic of the ’90s expanded for a new audience.

Slip into Skin after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 14, 2011 at 14:14

Posted in Ephraim Lewis, Features, Reissues

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Just a Little Louvin: Classic Country Duo Rediscovered By Light in the Attic

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When the time came to fete the Louvin Brothers with a tribute album, the stars came out: James Taylor, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Alison Krauss and Merle Haggard were just some of the artists featured on 2003’s Grammy-winning Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’: Songs of the Louvin Brothers.  All of those musicians had openly admitted their debt to Charlie and Ira Louvin, a.k.a. Charlie Elzer Loudermilk (1927-2011) and Ira Lonnie Loudermilk (1924-1965).  Though Ira’s untimely death curtailed what should have been a lengthy career, the music recorded by The Louvin Brothers between 1947 and 1963, roughly, still is influential today to any singer who has ever picked up the microphone to join another in harmony.  The brothers synthesized folk, gospel, bluegrass and honky tonk into a sound that was distinctly Louvin.  (They came from a musical family; their cousin John D. Loudermilk authored such songs as “Tobacco Road,” “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” and “Indian Reservation.”)

The folks at Light in the Attic are shining their light on these Baptist music-makers from Alabama who first began recording in the 1940s.  By the time of their signing with Capitol Records in 1952, they were already stars, and used the major label’s resources to focus their music in a more secular direction.  In 1955, The Grand Ole Opry welcomed them with open arms.   Though their music had frequent spiritual overtones, there was always a darkness lurking beneath the surface (or sometimes, on the surface!).  Older brother Ira fell victim to a drinking problem that finally caused his brother Charlie to walk away from the duo in 1963.  Both brothers continued to record as solo artists, but a drunk driving accident (ironically caused by the other driver) claimed Ira’s life in 1965.  Charlie lived until 2011, long enough to see the Brothers’ legacy embraced by artists of every stripe.  Light in the Attic is celebrating the Louvin legacy with four new releases: one 2-CD set, and three single LPs.

Read on after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 14, 2011 at 13:13

I’ve Got Your Letters: Rivers Cuomo Announces “Alone III,” “Pinkerton” Diaries Set

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Until recently, you may have been wondering what to get the Weezer fan in your life for the holidays. After all, the long-running, hysterically polarizing pop/rock band haven’t released any albums this year, after four albums put out since 2008 (including two in 2010: Hurley, their first for Epitaph Records, and Death to False Metal, an outtakes compilation on longtime homebase Geffen). There was, of course, also the deluxe edition of beloved sophomore effort Pinkerton from a year ago.

At the end of last week, frontman Rivers Cuomo announced the long-awaited release of Alone III: The Pinkerton Years 1994-1997 – and super-deluxe fans are going to find it’s worth the wait.

The third entry in Cuomo’s series of solo demos covers the furtive years in which Weezer released their first two albums, 1994’s self-titled debut and 1995’s Pinkerton – still their best works – and provides fans with a host of long-coveted material. Cuomo responded extremely to the runaway success of Weezer’s debut, crafting his already-complex demos into a planned space-rock concept album, Songs from the Black Hole. He also retreated from the rock star lifestyle, enduring a painful surgery to adjust the length of his left leg (it was almost two inches shorter than the right from birth) and studying for an English degree at Harvard University. Ultimately, Black Hole was scrapped for Pinkerton, an intensely personal set of songs that sputtered critically and commercially at first, but has since been regarded as Weezer’s greatest work and a watershed moment in ’90s rock.

The generous 26-track compilation includes early versions of various Pinkerton tracks and B-sides, including “Getchoo,” “Tired of Sex,” “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly” and “No Other One.” (There’s also an early version of favorite B-side “Susanne,” released in 1994 and used as the closer to Kevin Smith’s cult favorite Mallrats a year later.) Longtime devotees of the band are going to enjoy a six-song suite of demos from Songs from the Black Hole, the band’s much-adored, unreleased concept album scrapped in favor of Pinkerton as well as another song cycle called the “Fulton Avenue Suite.” (Black Hole demos have surfaced on previous Alone compilations.)

But Alone III isn’t just a disc. It’s only going to be available online, packaged with an elaborate 237-page book, The Pinkerton Diaries, featuring, in Cuomo’s words, “a collection of my journals, emails, letters, photos, and school papers — so you get an inside look as to exactly what I was thinking [when I wrote Pinkerton].” Anyone who’s bought the previous Alone sets knows Cuomo’s penchant for lengthy, intense liner notes, so those looking for a deeper perspective on the man’s mind from around this time is going to get at least twice more than they could ever expect.

There’s no word on whether or not a smaller set will be made available featuring the music and less book, but the deluxe set – basic, limited hand-numbered copies at $75, as well as a swag-filled extra set for $135 – is available to order now, with an expected ship date of December 12.

Check the demo track listing after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 14, 2011 at 12:11

Toast of the Town: The Rolling Stones Visit Ed Sullivan with Petula, Dusty, Ella, Tom, Louis and More

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Long before David Letterman called the former Hammerstein’s Theatre on 50th Street and Broadway in New York City home, the theatre was the showplace of the world, thanks to one Mr. Ed Sullivan.  The former gossip columnist on the Broadway beat might have been an unlikely visitor to American homes each Sunday night between 1949 and 1971, but it was thanks to Sullivan that viewers got their first or most significant taste of such performers across the entire spectrum of entertainment.  On the musical side, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Supremes and The Rolling Stones were all beneficiaries of Sullivan’s exposure, but so were comedians like Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, Broadway musicals like Camelot, and even a little mouse named Topo Gigio.  Though Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Brian Jones are ostensibly the main attraction of the new 2-DVD set, All 6 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones, these DVDs offer plenty even for those who don’t feel like being Stoned.  An abridged version of this set is also available, containing just four of the six programs.  It’s titled, appropriately, 4 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones, and drops the Stones’ first and last appearances from its line-up.

Both DVD sets feature full episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show, including original commercials.  Fans of television variety shows on DVD know that this often isn’t the case, with classics like The Dean Martin Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour being forced to release highlights-only as a result of prohibitive licensing costs, usually involving musical performances.  Only the 6-show set includes the Rolling Stones’ first appearance on October 25, 1964, in which the band performed the little-known “Around and Around” as well as their hit cover of the Jerry Ragovoy-penned “Time Is On My Side.”  But viewers will also find a program that defines variety: comedians London Lee, Phyllis Diller and Stiller and Meara, plus the tap-dancing Peg Leg Bates (!), actor Laurence Harvey reciting “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” classical violinist Itzhak Perlman and even the acrobatic Berosinis!

The May 2, 1965 episode is included on both releases.  Four Stones songs are performed (including “The Last Time”) but the same show also presented Dusty Springfield and the smash hit “I Only Want to Be with You” plus Tom Jones with “Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You,” Leslie Uggams with “Melancholy Baby” and of course, Senor Wences and Topo Gigio!  The Stones next appeared with Ed on February 13, 1966, and that program, too, appears on both versions.  The Stones kick off this episode with their titanic “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and return for both “19th Nervous Breakdown” and the ballad “As Tears Go By.”  The Rolling Stones are the sole musical act for this bill, which also includes the still-active Hal Holbrook, applying his distinct tones to Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural speech!

The Rolling Stones were back on September 13, 1966, opening the show with “Paint It Black” and later playing “Lady Jane” and “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?”  Red Skelton and Joan Rivers were the comedians du jour, while Robert Goulet musically contributed with “Once I Had a Heart” and Louis Armstrong brought along his famous trumpet for “Cabaret” from John Kander and Fred Ebb’s new Broadway musical of the same name!  Jim Henson’s Muppets are on hand for an early appearance with a rock-and-roll themed sketch.  Appropriate, no?

Next up was the band’s most controversial television appearance, ever.  Hit the jump for the full story, plus the track listing for all six episodes! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 14, 2011 at 10:24