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Archive for December 2011

The Year in Reissues: The 2011 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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What are you doing New Year’s Eve?  As we count down to that big celebration, we’ve been holed up at Second Disc HQ readying another year’s Gold Bonus Disc Awards for you!  We consider our annual awards a companion piece to Mike’s round-up over at Popdose (essential reading, I might add!) and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible as well as to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2011.  These ladies and gentlemen (some of whom we were privileged enough to interview this year) have proven, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world, and The Gold Bonus Disc Awards are dedicated to them.

Let’s get on with it!  And don’t forget to please share your thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2011?  Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2011′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year?  Hit the jump below to find out!

All winners are in bold, and we’ve linked to our original reviews and features in the body of each category’s text. Read the rest of this entry »

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

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As another year of amazing catalogue reissues and expansions comes to a close, and we gather around our loved ones to celebrate both a year gone by and a new one full of promise on the horizon, it seemed right to stop and take a moment to wish the same glad tidings to all of our treasured readers at The Second Disc.

Since starting the site in January of 2010 – can you believe it’s almost going on two years? – I’ve always worried about a lot of things, but none more potent than the idea that, without warning, we’d be out of things to write about. That each new week would suddenly not bring a fountain of catalogue news for us to share with you. Even though Joe and myself remain ever optimistic about a music industry in flux, there’s always a lingering fear that there will be less and less (and eventually next to nothing) to share. So far, that hasn’t happened, and that’s made me glad.

So first, a thanks to everyone at any label that’s contributed to the mighty work being done to keep catalogue music alive and interesting. The majors (Legacy Recordings, Rhino Records, Universal Music Enterprises/Hip-o Select, the catalogue department at EMI), the indies (Cherry Red, Light in the Attic, Omnivore, Friday Music, Ace, Real Gone, Funky Town Grooves, Iconoclassic, Demon Music Group and any others we’ve missed) and our beloved soundtrack labels (Intrada, Kritzerland, La La Land, Varese Sarabande and Film Score Monthly, who we will miss so much as a label next year): to all who work with and for these guys, from production to liner note writing to remastering to legal clearances to the pressing plants – everything that all of you do is important in keeping the history of music alive, and you have earned our thanks.

Next, a major thanks to the other writers out there who have linked to the site, told their friends about us, sent us tips and the like. Matt at MusicTAP, Gerry at Pause & Play and Matt at Slicing Up Eyeballs: you continue to inspire our approach to covering reissues. To my pop-cultural homes away from home, Popdose and Popblerd, and all who write for both – you guys are continually people I look up to. VVN Music and Ultimate Classic Rock are full of great reporting (a special thanks to Matt Wardlaw at Addicted to Vinyl pointing me in the direction of the latter), and I admire the work of Eric Luecking over at Record Racks and Vinny Vero on his own blog. A particular shout-out to Robert Galgano, who found The Second Disc interesting enough to interview Joe and myself for Patch.com about our work. (Rest assured we’ll link to that story the minute it’s live!) I’m probably forgetting tons more, but I admire so much of the music writing I come by day after day.

But absolutely none of this would be possible without you, the reader. I’ve said it a million times and I’m going to say it a million more. It’s your readership and dedication to what we do that’s enabled us to get better and better. I anticipate next year will see even more neat things like what we did with Second Discmas this year (make sure you’ve got your address to us at theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com if you’ve won!), plus more of the usual news, reviews, interviews and occasional opinions you’ve come to expect from us.

So thanks again, a happiest of holidays to you and yours, and we’ll see you back at full steam in the New Year!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2011 at 10:48

Second Discmas, Week Two: And The Winners Are…

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Well, December 23 is here, and our first Second Discmas has come to a close!

Many thanks to all of you who have entered our giveaway drawings over the past two weeks!  It’s been a labor of love for both of us here at Second Disc HQ to be able to share so much of the year’s best music with our dedicated readers!

It’s now time to reveal the winners!  Congratulations to…

Randy B. of Holmdel, NJ, and Sean T. of Albany, CA, winners of Wheedle’s Groove: Seattle’s Finest in Funk and Soul 1965-1975!

Bob S. of Chicago, IL, and Timm G. of Silver Springs, MD, winners of Kritzerland’s screen and stage prize packs, respectively!

Ed T. of Fresno, CA, winner of Wynton Marsalis’ Swinging into the 21st!

Tom K. of Summit, NJ, Zig S. of San Jose, CA, and Jeff W. of Raleigh, NC, winners of The Monkees, Beau Brummels and Iron Butterfly prize pack!

Special thanks to our fantastic friends at Rhino Entertainment, Kritzerland, Light in the Attic, and Sony Music Entertainment/Legacy Recordings, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible!

If you see your name above and have received an email or message from us, please be sure to reply to (theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com) so we can send your gift on its way!

Happy Holidays to all, from Mike and Joe at The Second Disc!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 23, 2011 at 15:25

Posted in Giveaways!, News, Reissues

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 20 (#5-1)

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Welcome to the grand finale to our reissue rundown of the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time, as selected by Rolling Stone.  It may be telling that the entirety of our Top 5 comes from the period between 1965 and 1967.  Three of these albums are the work of the same band, while the other two artists had careers that have intersected in various ways with the members of those bands.  Yes, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Beach Boys found inspiration from each other, and might even have felt a keen competition.  Without further ado, our Top 5!

5. The Beatles, Rubber Soul (Parlophone, 1965)

The faces of the four Beatles appear stretched on the cover of 1965’s Rubber Soul, but the sounds within stretched the boundaries of popular music, too.  Arguably the first truly unified album by the Fab Four (and their first recorded as an album within a specified session period), it boasted instrumental textures that would have been alien to the band’s past work.  And (especially on the altered U.S. edition) it had a pronounced folk-rock feel (see No. 4 on this list), not to mention shockingly good songwriting, which inspired Brian Wilson to “compete” with a masterpiece all his own (see No. 2).  Yes, Rubber Soul transcended its punning title, anticipated psychedelia with its cover artwork, and found the Beatles at the cutting edge.  George Harrison contributed two tracks, with the balance credited to the Lennon and McCartney team.

Despite the fact that Rubber Soul was assembled as a whole by The Beatles and producer George Martin, the U.S. Capitol label nonetheless created a unique American version of the album.  This edition offers dramatically different sequencing and an altered tunestack.  “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “It’s Only Love” were added, beefing up the folk-rock feel.  In turn, four songs were deleted so that Rubber Soul conformed to the 12-track American standard: “Drive My Car”, “Nowhere Man”, “If I Needed Someone”, and “What Goes On.”   There were other minor variations; the U.S. stereo LP has a “false start” at the beginning of “I’m Looking Through You,” and “The Word” has John Lennon’s vocal double-tracked, an extra falsetto harmony on the left channel during the last two refrains, maracas panning to the right channel during the instrumental break and then back to the left channel and a slightly longer fade.   The mono LP’s “Michelle” has a longer fade-out, as well.

When The Beatles’ catalogue was introduced on CD in 1987 and standardized, the U.K. Rubber Soul made its worldwide debut (Parlophone/Capitol CDP 7 46440 2).  For its digital debut, George Martin created a completely new mix of the album from the four-track masters, unhappy with the primitive stereo originally used.  This remix was offered again as the standard Rubber Soul CD received a remastered upgrade in 2009 (Parlophone CDP 0946 3 57501 2 6).  It, of course, can also be found in the Beatles in Stereo box set (EMI 5099969944901, 2009).  The original American Rubber Soul finally received its CD debut on The Beatles’ The Capitol Albums Volume 2 box set, and both the mono and original stereo mixes of the U.K. Rubber Soul were included on 2009’s Beatles in Mono box set (EMI  5099969945120, 2009).

4. Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia, 1965)

Despite its title, many listeners visited Highway 61 (a 1,400-mile stretch of road from New Orleans, Louisiana to Wyoming, Minnesota) for the first time on Bob Dylan’s sixth studio album, released in 1965.  While Dylan had placated his dedicated folk fans with an acoustic side of his previous album, the order of the day was “all-electric” for Highway 61 Revisited, excepting the epic closer, “Desolation Row.”  There was no mistaking it; Dylan had officially gone “rock.”  Dylan’s oblique, evocative images were commandingly snarled by the singer: “Oh God said to Abraham, ‘Kill me a son’/Abe says, ‘Man, you must be puttin’ me on’/God say, ‘No,’ Abe say, ‘What?’/God say, ‘You can do what you want Abe, but/The next time you see me comin’ you better run’/Well Abe says, ‘Where do you want this killin’ done?’/God says, ‘Out on Highway 61!’

Of course, the most famous song on Highway 61 kicked off the musical journey.  That song is “Like a Rolling Stone,” often hailed as the best rock song ever written, and the subject of an entire book by Greil Marcus.  Al Kooper’s swirling organ gave the song a commercial hook and sheen.  Dylan’s inimitable lyric might have been literally impenetrable, but his meaning was all too clear.  The song was an instant classic.  Despite the challenging lyrics throughout, or perhaps because of them, the grand and mysterious Highway 61 Revisited ascended all the way to No. 3 on the U.S. pop charts.  Bob Dylan had arrived, turning folk, rock, pop and the blues on their ears.

Columbia’s original CD issue (Columbia CK 9189) remained in print until the remastered series in 2003 at which time Highway 61 was issued as a stereo-only hybrid SACD (CH 90324).  The SACD was later replaced with a standard edition.  A 1992 gold CD from DCC Compact Classics featured a new mastering by Steve Hoffman (GZS 1021).  A 2008 Blu-Spec disc (playable on all CD players) was released in Japan (SICP 20024).  The mono mix made its CD debut on Dylan’s 2010 Original Mono Recordings (Columbia 71604) box set.  As Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab has just announced a first wave of Dylan reissues as hybrid stereo SACDs, it’s possible that a new MFSL mastering might be around the corner.

After the jump, it’s a battle of the bands as The Beach Boys and The Beatles face off! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 23, 2011 at 13:04

Holiday Gift Guide Review: “Brunswick Lost Soul Vols. 1 and 2”

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Welcome back to our Second Disc Holiday Gift Guide, in which we review some titles we might have missed over the past few weeks!  The titles we’re spotlighting in this occasional series just might be candidates on your own holiday shopping list!

The annals of popular music are littered with lost souls, which isn’t surprising for a business that can turn the street of dreams into the boulevard of broken dreams.  But thanks to two recent releases from Brunswick Records, we can appreciate 30 slices of prime Lost Soul.  On Volume 1 (BRC 33020-2) and Volume 2 (BRC 33021-2), executive producer Paul Tarnopol and annotator Bill Dahl offer up a journey through an alternate sixties where Billy Butler was as big as his brother Jerry, Sidney Joe Qualls had the career of his sonic counterpart Al Green, and Major Lance’s “Tighten Up” was as beloved as Archie Bell and the Drells’ different tune of the same name.  Though many of the names on these two discs are unknown to all but the most diehard soul connoisseurs, some major hitmakers are peppered throughout, including Isaac Hayes (on Volume 2) and Little Richard (on both discs)

Lost Soul makes a potent case for the vibrancy of both the Chicago soul scene circa the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, and for the venerable Brunswick label and its subsidiary, Dakar, under the direction of Carl Davis, formerly of OKeh Records.  The fifteen tracks on each disc range from the wholly original to the wholly derivative, but the tracks are rarely uninteresting.

Ace Records has already anthologized Sugar Pie DeSanto’s Chess recordings (1961-1966) but on Lost Soul Volume 1 we’re treated to “Do the Whoopie” from her later Brunswick period, in which the sassy powerhouse funkifies Joe Simon’s Vee-Jay original.  Yet another artist with prominent releases on the Ace label, Van McCoy, contributed the pleading “Hold On,” as performed here by Marvin Smith.  It’s just one in a long line of remarkably unknown McCoy compositions; it’s a cruel irony that this man of such deep soul is best-known only for “The Hustle.”

Other tracks on Volume 1 reference a number of styles.  The Brunswick/Dakar roster was clearly a diverse one, though the lack of a signature sound might have contributed to the label’s remaining in the shadows of Motown and the other great soul providers.  (Many of the artists featured went on to prominence at labels like Philadelphia International or the Holland-Dozier-Holland family.)  Johnny Williams’ “Your Love Controls My World” is an infectious stomper in the tradition of the songs coming from the Motor City, as is The Artistics’ “You Left Me” with its big production of sweeping strings and luscious harmonies.  In contrast, The Admirations’ “Lonely Street” (not the Doc Pomus song of the same name) has the Latin-esque beat and bleating brass of New York’s uptown soul.  This isn’t a surprise, as the track was produced by Morty Craft of the Melba and Warwick labels.  His deft touch makes for one of Lost Soul’s highlights.

B.W. and the Next Edition’s “Stay with Me Baby” is one of the later tracks on the set, dating from 1973, but it has the sonic signature of the 1960s in its grooves.  Otis Leavill, inspired by Curtis Mayfield, offers one track on each set, and on Volume 1, he’s serving up sweet harmonies and an insinuating beat on “You Brought Out the Good in Me.”  After his strings of OKeh smashes (such as “The Monkey Time” and “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um”), Major Lance reunited with Carl Davis for the 1968 “Do the Tighten Up.”  It’s not as hook-laden as the Archie Bell song, but its wailing saxophone leaves an impression.  Another well, major name here is Richard Penniman, better known as Little Richard.  On “Baby Don’t You Tear My Clothes,” Richard is screaming like a much younger man, but the sound is current circa 1967, with funky electric guitar joining his pounding piano up front.  He was back in secular music in a big way!

Another torrid number is Floyd Smith’s “Getting Nowhere Fast.”  The tempo may be slow, but he’s getting into soul heaven with this scorcher.  One of the collection’s biggest curiosities is “Where the Lilies Grow,” as sung by Sidney Joe Qualls.  His vocal resemblance to Al Green is uncanny.   Born, like Green, in Jacknash, Arkansas, Qualls is a dead ringer for the “Let’s Stay Together” soul man.

Hit the jump as we explore Volume 2! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 23, 2011 at 10:22

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 19 (#10-6)

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It’s the penultimate entry in our list of Rolling Stone‘s greatest albums of all time, as seen through the reissues that have filled our shelves for years. We’ve got some heavy hitters here: Beatles, Stones, Dylan – plus what may be the greatest punk and R&B albums ever.

10. The Beatles, The Beatles (Apple, 1968)

The double-LP the world knows mostly by three other words – “The White Album” – was difficult and unusual inside and out. Most of the songs were conceived during an ultimately aborted transcendental meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; upon returning to Abbey Road, the usually on-point studio vibe had been replaced by a hazier, more dissenting attitude, with Yoko Ono making her first of many stays in the studio with John Lennon and Ringo Starr ultimately quitting the band for two weeks. (Even producer George Martin’s patience and faith in the group was being tested – he even left the band to go on holiday for part of the sessions.) As overblown and full of oddities as the album is, though (I’m looking at you, “Rocky Raccoon”), it’s honestly hard to imagine these 30 tracks presented any other way. Given the album’s presence in the Fab Four’s discography after the monumental Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles remains an incredibly fascinating helping of the band’s already-sterling discography.

Before The Beatles’ catalogue finally made its CD debut in 1987, there was one interesting reissue on vinyl: one from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (2-072) in 1982. It was the third album by The Fab Four to receive such treatment. The Beatles was certainly part of the major push for the band on CD (Parlophone CDS 7 46443 8), the thick white butterfly case (with printed title, rather than embossed as on the original LP cover) a familiar sight in record stores for years. But this album is one of a few for The Beatles with an “extracurricular release” on CD, repackaged as a 500,000-unit limited, numbered edition in 1998 for its 30th anniversary (Apple 72434 96895 2 7) in a slipcase that better reflected the original packaging (down to the stamped serial number and iconic portrait inserts of John, Paul, George and Ringo). The most recent release, of course, was the 2009 remastered edition, available both in stereo (Apple 09463 82466 2 6) and, for the first time on CD, in mono (Apple 50999 684957 2 5). The mono mix was not released on vinyl much outside of the U.K., and is the last dedicated mono mix of a Beatles LP. It’s of course, only available in the excellent The Beatles in Mono box set (Apple 50999 699451 2 0).

9. Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde (Columbia, 1966)

In 1966, it seemed Bob Dylan wasn’t about to stop trying to surprise people. After being lauded as the greatest thing since sliced bread three years earlier, he kicked folk conventions in the ass for several years, starting with the famed “electric” set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, continuing with the staggering rock records Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited that same year and perhaps culminating with Blonde on Blonde, a sprawling double album (arguably the first major one) that balances somber (“One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later),” “Just Like a Woman”) with the occasionally humorous (the opening salvo of carnival-music-from-hell “Rainy Day Women #12 & #35”). Frankly, the whole affair is appealingly contradictory, from quintessential New York hipster Dylan’s recording much of the album in Nashville with local session players. But the results are something to praise.

Like many Dylan albums, Blonde on Blonde has been remastered a few times, but never expanded. The premiere CD release was in 1987 (Columbia CGK 841), with a MasterSound gold CD following in 1994 (Columbia CK 64411). Greg Calbi and George Marino worked on, respectively, a standard and 5.1 surround remastering of the album that was released three ways: once on SACD (Columbia CS 841) in 1999, once in 2003 as a hybrid SACD (Columbia CH 90325) and once again in 2004 as a simple CD (Columbia CK 92400). The album has since been included in its original mono mix as part of The Original Mono Recordings box set released in 2010 (Columbia/Legacy 88697 76105-2).

“I never felt so much like…” hitting the jump and checking out our next three entries!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 23, 2011 at 02:50

The Eighth Day of Second Discmas

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Well, friends, all good things must come to an end, but we couldn’t be more excited with the offerings we have for you today, the final day of Second Discmas!

Courtesy of our terrific friends at Rhino Entertainment, we’ve got an amazing pack of three of the label’s finest Handmade releases of 2011: the expanded 2-CD box set of The Beau BrummelsBradley’s Barn; the first-ever release of the heavy psychedelia of Iron Butterfly‘s Fillmore East 1968; and finally, the brand-new, hot-off-the-presses 3-CD/1-7″ single box set of The MonkeesInstant Replay!

And that’s not all.  Not one, not two, but three winners will take home this exciting collection of some of the grooviest and altogether most adventurous music reissued in 2011!

You can be one of the lucky winners of the Rhino Handmade 3-pack by e-mailing us (theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com)!  Just be sure to include your name, city and state in your email, with “Rhino” (what else?) in your subject line!

But that’s not your only way to win!  You can also “like” this post as it appears on Facebook or retweet the post on Twitter!  Drawings for The Beau Brummels/Iron Butterfly/The Monkees must be received by Friday, December 23, at 3:00 p.m. EST.  And if you’ve already entered a previous Second Discmas drawing, you’re still eligible to take this prize home!

Winners for Week 2 of Second Discmas, including the Rhino 3-pack, will be announced tomorrow, Friday, December 23, after this drawing has closed.  Thanks, everybody, for entering, and good luck!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 22, 2011 at 15:04

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Tony Bennett, “The Complete Collection”

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Welcome back to our Second Disc Holiday Gift Guide, in which we review some titles we might have missed over the past few weeks!  The titles we’re spotlighting in this occasional series just might be candidates on your own holiday shopping list!

Tony Bennett’s heart may be in San Francisco, but his soul can be found in a case measuring roughly 11 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches.  For within those modest dimensions is housed some 65 years of music, spanning 1946 to 2011, over 73 CDs and 3 DVDs.  And modesty might be one of Bennett’s musical bywords.  Nowhere in The Complete Collection (Columbia/RPM/Legacy 88697 87460-2, 2011) will you find the Bennett answer to “My Way,” “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” “I’m Still Here” or “If I Never Sing Another Song.”  There’s no grand statement here of the singer’s individuality or longevity, though both qualities are very much in evidence.  What you will find is Tony Bennett through good times and bum times, through jazz, swing, pop, rock and roll, blues, country, soul, cabaret, classical, and every other genre the consummate singer has touched upon in a legendary career.  (He did sit out disco.  Bennett, the recording artist, took a hiatus between 1977 and 1986.)  The release of such a collection is long overdue.  When Frank Sinatra was receiving complete box sets from RCA Victor, Columbia, Capitol and Reprise, and Dean Martin was being comprehensively collected by Bear Family, the catalogue of their fellow Italian-American compatriot in song was only being sporadically addressed.   Now, The Complete Collection is here, taking in recordings for Columbia, Roulette, MGM/Verve, Fantasy, Improv and Hallmark.  One of the most important bodies of work of any American musical artist is excitingly accessible, and preserved for generations to come in an attractive home.  So why is there a slightly bitter aftertaste to such a sweet prospect?  When we’re speaking of The Complete Collection, “complete” isn’t quite “complete.”  But Bennett himself has long followed Johnny Mercer’s edict to “ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive” (recorded on The Playground, or Disc 64, for those keeping tabs on such things) so I’ll follow suit.

Many of the fine, recent complete box sets produced by the Legacy Recordings team have been packaged in smallish cubes; Bennett’s set (like a previous one for Miles Davis) comes in the heftier size, sturdy and with a flip-top lid.  Each disc is presented in a replica LP mini-sleeve; each Columbia album is adorned with the same red label, with the musical-note-and-microphone artwork, and original record label logos are present for the non-Columbia albums, too.  This is all well and good, but what’s within the grooves counts most, and boy, does this music count…and soar…and swing…and explode with sincerity, intensity and vitality.  Just ponder for a moment now: there are 76 albums, or 1,020 songs, and over 20 of those albums are making their premiere CD appearances anywhere.  Only Bear Family’s comprehensive, historically-minded sets for Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney and others can approach this set in scope and stature.

Those new-to-CD albums mark the most immediate revelations in The Complete Collection.  Many of these albums deserve individual attention, but we’ll focus instead on two of the most eagerly anticipated.  Hometown, My Town (1959) was recorded with arranger Ralph Burns, a familiar Broadway presence from his orchestrations of such musicals as Chicago (still heard eight times a week in 2011) and Sweet Charity.  Despite its brief 6-song length, Hometown shows that Bennett was as capable as Sinatra at crafting a concept album encompassing a variety of moods.  The bustling, brassy street sounds of “Skyscraper Blues,” an extended multi-part composition, make way for the lush, wistful tones of “Penthouse Serenade” and then the swinging, upbeat-in-the-face-of-angst treatment of Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s standard “By Myself.”  The juxtaposition of melancholy and optimism is made clear by the back-to-back treatment of “I Cover the Waterfront” and “Our Love is Here to Stay,” and Bennett sums it all up tidily with “The Party’s Over.”  The brief Hometown is a fine prequel to Astoria: Portrait of the Artist (1990, previously available on CD) on which Bennett’s New York background again informs each track as he revisits his past (“When Do the Bells Ring for Me,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “A Little Street Where Old Friends Meet,” “I’ll Come Home Again.”)  He was supported on Astoria by the Ralph Sharon Trio and the orchestra of Jorge Calandrelli.

Another CD debut – actually, a debut, period – is the previously-unissued On the Glory Road (1962).  The song “De Glory Road” was written in 1928, part of the same spiritual tradition as the more familiar “The Lonesome Road.”  Bennett and his arranger and conductor Ralph Sharon built an entire album around this story of a former sinner who now sings “loud Hallejulah songs” on Earth.  Though not often singing explicitly of salvation, doesn’t Bennett continue to this day to spread the gospel of the Great American Songbook?  The other songs on Glory Road aren’t stylistically similar to the title song, but it does encapsulate Bennett’s positive message as the album’s closing track.    Though three of the album’s cuts (“Soon It’s Gonna Rain,” “You’ve Changed,” “Caravan”) were salvaged for 1964’s The Many Moods of Tony, the balance remained unreleased.  That later album’s title could have applied to the earlier album, as well, on which Bennett surrounds “De Glory Road” with the sounds of Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Kurt Weill, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington.  No wonder he found salvation with a line-up of songwriters like that!

We continue our journey with Bennett after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 22, 2011 at 10:25

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 18 (#15-11)

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And the Top 15 of our 100 Greatest Reissues list begins! We’ve taken Rolling Stone‘s list of the greatest albums of all time and investigated their many pressings and expansions over the years. Today, we’re rocking in the 1960s, take a jazz detour to 1959, and remember a 1976 compilation of material circa 1955!

15. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced (Reprise, 1967)

If you weren’t experienced before listening to the 1967 debut of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, it’s safe to say that you certainly were by the time you finished the LP! Its blend of era-defining psychedelia, hard rock and blues sensibilities were like nothing that had come before, and it launched the career of one James Marshall Hendrix into the stratosphere.

Its history on CD has been a checkered one, however, thanks to the standard record company practice of the 1960s of devising different editions for different territories. While making a name for themselves in England, Messrs. Hendrix, (Noel) Redding and (Mitch) Mitchell released three singles: “Hey Joe/Stone Free” (actually released in the waning days of 1966), “Purple Haze/51st Anniversary” (March 1967) and “The Wind Cries Mary/Highway Chile” (May 1967). When the Track Records album was released in the U.K. in May, the singles were not present on the LP. The Hendrix phenomenon didn’t crystallize in America until his incendiary performance – both literally and figuratively! – at the Monterey Pop Festival in the summer of 1967. Reprise Records then prepared Are You Experienced for North American release. As was its wont, Reprise removed three tracks (“Red House,” “Remember” and “Can You See Me”) to make way for the three British A-sides. The running order was shuffled, reportedly with Hendrix’s approval, though he was uncomfortable with the blues “Red House” being omitted from the LP. A new stereo mix was prepared, as well as a new, more overtly psychedelic cover (as seen above), and Are You Experienced took the U.S. by storm, peaking at No. 5 after its August release.

The original Reprise CD (W2-6261) was identical to the label’s original stereo LP version, and the first European CD release (Polydor 825 416-2) used the original U.K. track list, but in the Reprise stereo remixed versions (except for “Red House” in mono, and “Remember” in electronically-processed stereo). The 1993 reissue (MCA 10893), as supervised by the controversial Alan Douglas, began the album with the first three U.K. A- and B-sides, but otherwise adhered to the original U.K. track listing and sequence. (The stereo mixes were again used except for “Stone Free”, “51st Anniversary”, and “Highway Chile.”) The version of “Red House” included on Douglas’ remastered CD was the 1969 Smash Hits LP version, not the original AYE recording.

Under the aegis of Experience Hendrix, AYE was reissued again in 1997 from MCA Records (MCAD- 11602) and again in 2010 from Legacy Recordings (88697 65478 2), this latest time with a bonus mini-documentary on DVD. These last two editions standardized the album at 17 tracks, including all of the singles and the original album tracks in a cohesive sequence. (The original “Red House” was also restored.) The mastering by George Marino and Eddie Kramer is not substantially different between the 1997 and 2010 editions. There have also been numerous international pressings; one of the most notable is the 2008 SHM-CD edition from Japan (Universal Japan UICY-90757).

14. The Beatles, Abbey Road (Apple, 1969)

Although released prior to Let It Be, Abbey Road was the final album recorded by The Beatles. When it was released on September 26, 1969 in the U.K., it shot straight to No. 1 and eventually became the fourth best-selling album of the decade there. Upon its U.S. release one week later, it met with further success, reaching No. 1 in its third week. All told, it spent 11 non-consecutive weeks atop the U.S. chart, and 17 weeks in the U.K. (interrupted for just one week, by the Rolling Stones and Let It Bleed.) One of the group’s most cohesive albums ever, the critical and commercial acclaim was a just reward for the collective work of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Harrison shone brightly with both “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun,” while both Lennon and McCartney crafted an intricate song suite with producer/arranger George Martin for the album’s second side. Even Ringo got into the act with the infectious “Octopus’ Garden.” Abbey Road offered a fitting epitaph for The Beatles’ career with the final line of “The End,” the last proper song on the album: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” (The brief, 23-second “Her Majesty” appears as a hidden track, some 14 seconds after “The End.”) So pervasive was the album that even its cover art launched the famous “Paul is Dead” hoax!

Abbey Road was released on CD in 1987 along with the rest of the Beatles’ catalogue from Capitol in the U.S. and Parlophone in the U.K. (CDP 7 46446-2), and this edition remained the standard CD edition until the much-heralded Abbey Road Studios remasters of 2009 (0946 3 82468-2) which was “enhanced” with a mini-documentary on the CD. This remastered version was also available as part of the complete Beatles in Stereo box set (EMI/Parlophone/Apple 5099969944901).

Hit the jump and you’ll find yourself Underground…

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Written by Joe Marchese

December 21, 2011 at 15:14

The Seventh Day of Second Discmas

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It’s Day 7 of Second Discmas, and we’re thrilled to bring you a remarkable new box set from a legend of jazz!

Wynton Marsalis‘ Swinging Into the 21st is a comprehensive 10-album, 11-CD box set containing career highlights hand-picked by the trumpeter, composer, bandleader and arranger to illuminate each facet of his history!  Marsalis selected the material on Swinging to celebrate his 50th birthday this October 18.  His diverse selections from his large catalogue include two volumes of his Standard Time, 1999′s original film music collection Reel Time, 2000′s The Marciac Suite and Selections from the Village Vanguard Box, and 2002′s All Rise, plus A Fiddler’s Tale, At the Octoroon Balls, Big Train, Sweet Release & Ghost Story!  Each title is packaged in a mini-LP replica sleeve, and a 32-page booklet features full credits and a statement by Marsalis himself.

You can be the one lucky winner of this amazing career retrospective, courtesy of Legacy Recordings, by e-mailing us (theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com)!  Just be sure to include your name, city and state in your email.

But that’s not your only way to win!  You can also “like” this post as it appears on Facebook or retweet the post on Twitter!  Drawings for Swinging Into the 21st must be received by Thursday, December 22, at 3:00 p.m. EST.  But if you enter today’s drawing and aren’t a winner, don’t worry!  You’ll automatically be entered in all the rest of the Second Discmas contests!

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another Second Discmas surprise!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 21, 2011 at 15:04