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Archive for December 1st, 2011

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 4 (#85-81)

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Here comes the fourth part of our first-ever official Second Disc Buyers Guide, in which we look at 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, we’re your one-stop shop.

We’ve got quite a hand here today, with two Queens and a Boss to start, so let’s get to it!

Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A. (Columbia, 1984)

When you’re six albums into an already-stellar career – one that’s seen you make musical waves and journalistic history (being on the cover of the country’s two most prestigious news magazines in the same week) – nobody expects your seventh to be your most ambitious, your most commercially successful, the key that unlocks your musical world for most of the adoring public. But that’s exactly what Bruce Springsteen did on Born in the U.S.A., from its rousing, almost-intentionally misleading title track (a too-true heartbreaker about a disaffected Vietnam veteran, couched in upbeat, major-key synthesizers and Max Weinberg’s pounding drums) to its somber, reflective closer, “My Hometown,” a meditation on the cycles of poverty and family in the United States. Springsteen and The E Street Band were true bosses on this album and its astounding seven Top 10 singles through 1984 and 1985. Even this year, we held the album close to our hearts when the Big Man, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, passed away, with his solo on “Bobby Jean” remaining an emotional high point for this writer.

Perplexingly, the success of Born in the U.S.A. has not yet guaranteed the kind of lavish, deluxe reissue that one would naturally assume should happen. Beyond the standard CD issue (Columbia CK 38653) and a 2005 Japanese CD in LP replica packaging (Sony BMG Music Entertainment 88697 28749-2), there’s nothing (although several BitU.S.A.-era B-sides and demos were unearthed on compact disc for Bruce’s essential Tracks box set (Columbia CXK 69475). Now, admittedly, Springsteen and his team are deliberate cataloguers, having given detailed attention to box set editions of Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town, so there’s little doubt that we’ll someday see a spared-no-expense edition of this perennial classic. (Whether such a box will include those crazy remixes, though, is anyone’s guess.)

Aretha Franklin, Lady Soul (Atlantic, 1968)

Perhaps Lady Soul was a bit of an understatement; one year and two albums prior, Aretha Franklin had come into her own, seemingly out of nowhere, as the Queen of Soul on I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (more on that one in a minute!). Lightning struck twice with Lady Soul, thanks largely to two monster hits in “Chain of Fools” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” not to mention the underrated Top 10 single “Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby).”

When Lady Soul was released on CD in 1995 (Rhino R2 71933), it featured four bonus tracks: mono single mixes of “A Natural Woman,” “Since You’ve Been Gone” and its B-side, “Ain’t No Way,” and an unedited version of “Chain of Fools.” (This longer version originally appeared in quadrophonic sound on 1973’s The Best of Aretha Franklin, which was itself reissued by Rhino Handmade in 2010.) A gold CD from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab that same year (UDCD 623) paired Lady Soul with its follow-up, Aretha Now, also from 1968. (Elsewhere, the expanded Lady Soul was paired with an expanded I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You by Warner Australia (8122 73696-2) in 2003; both albums appeared sans bonus tracks for an Original Album Classics box in Europe in 2009 (Atlantic/Rhino 8122 79827-9).)

Hit the jump for more Aretha, plus Jimi and Paul!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 1, 2011 at 16:15

Holiday Tunes Watch, Part 2: Andy Williams’ Favorite Things Collected For 2011

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Early in November, Andy Williams took the stage at his Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri and announced to the crowd that he is fighting bladder cancer.  “I do have cancer of the bladder,” Williams, 83, told the shocked crowd. “But that is no longer a death sentence. People with cancer are getting through this thing. They’re kicking it, and they’re winning more and more every year. And I’m going to be one of them.”  He received a standing ovation upon announcing his intention to return to the concert stage next year to celebrate his staggering 75 years in show business.  Here at Second Disc HQ, our thoughts are with Mr. Williams and his family throughout his battle, especially as his music resonates through another Christmas season.  Indeed, the show goes on for Andy Williams, who is producing his annual Christmas show in Branson even when his health precludes his performing in it; the Moon River Theatre is instead hosting familiar acts like The Lennon Sisters and Roy Clark in Williams’ absence.  And of course, The Cookie Bear will make an appearance!

The Cookie Bear is just one of the familiar faces from Williams’ long-running television program (1959-1971, with 1968 off) on which the frequently sweater-clad crooner made holiday celebrations an important part of the proceedings.  His Christmas recordings are anthologized with regularity, and 2011 is no exception.  This year, Target is offering an exclusive compilation through Sony Commercial Music Group and Compass Productions.  The 15-track Andy Williams Christmas Collection offers nothing rare for collectors, but for those who don’t have any of Williams’ holiday recordings in their music libraries, it’s hard not to recommend an album of vintage Williams at Christmas.  (Thanks to reader Rich for confirming that this compilation is reprised from 2010, when it appeared with a different cover.)

Hit the jump for more, including the complete track listing with discographical annotation, and a link to our guide to the music of Andy Williams at Christmas! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 1, 2011 at 12:28

Holiday Tunes Watch, Part 1: New Bing Crosby “Christmas” Collection Offers Up “Sessions” and More

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What would Christmas be without the voice of Bing Crosby?

And with radio stations going all-Christmas earlier and earlier each year, chances are you’ve already lifted your seasonal spirits with Crosby’s famous recording of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” still the biggest-selling single of all time. Or perhaps you’ve heard “Jingle Bells,” with The Andrews Sisters vocally supporting Crosby.  But Crosby’s holiday catalogue runs quite deep.  Last year, Collector’s Choice Music and Bing Crosby Enterprises released The Crosby Christmas Sessions, a 19-track entry in the Bing Crosby Archive Collection which drew on the singer’s vast personal archive to present some true rarities.

Here at The Second Disc, I wrote of that release, “While each [Archive Collection] reissue so far has brought a number of treasures to light (whether expanding long out-of-print LPs or creating new compilations), the crown jewel may be Christmas Sessions,” adding that the album “deserves a special place atop the discography for restoring a number of ‘lost’ tracks to print in a classy package befitting a true voice of Christmas, Bing Crosby.”  (Read my full review here.  At that link you’ll also find a mini-guide to the crooner’s holiday recordings on CD.)

Yet with Collector’s Choice Music having gotten out of the reissue business, and its guiding light Gordon Anderson having joined forces with Gabby Castellana to create Real Gone Music, The Crosby Christmas Sessions has proven elusive at traditional retail, like the other Archive Collection titles.  As of November 29, 2011 at, there’s not even a used copy available of this seminal holiday collection.  Thankfully, the official Bing Crosby Store has the entire Archive line-up available individually and in special bundles, and each and every release there comes highly recommended. 

Bing Crosby Enterprises and Sonoma Entertainment/South Bay Music are also offering a new title for 2011 that draws on one of our favorite releases of 2010.  Bing Crosby Christmas is available this holiday season at select retailers including Wal-Mart, and includes fourteen of the nineteen tracks found on Christmas Sessions.  To that core fourteen it adds two tracks not on the prior release: “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” from a Kraft Music Hall radio performance, and a duet with Ella Fitzgerald on “A Marshmallow World,” from Crosby’s Chesterfield radio program.  (The former has appeared before on a collection of Crosby’s World War II V-Discs, while the latter can also be found on the Shout! Factory box set Swingin’ with Bing.)  Although it’s disappointing that the new reissue includes no liner notes or discographical information, it’s to the Crosby family’s credit that this edition remains lovingly assembled with unique material.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

December 1, 2011 at 10:25

And the Catalogue Grammy Nominations Go To…

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Safely tucked underneath a controversial slate of Grammy nominations in the major categories – seriously, Rihanna’s Loud got an Album of the Year nod and Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy didn’t? – there were a fantastic batch of reissue and box set-oriented nominations in this year’s 54th annual ceremony.

Without further pithy commentary, here they are:

Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package

Radiohead, The King of Limbs (ATO Records)
Donald Twain & Zachariah Wildwood, art directors

Bruce Springsteen, The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story (Columbia/Legacy)
Dave Bett & Michelle Holme, art directors

Danny Elfman and Tim Burton, The 25th Anniversary Music Box (Warner Bros.)
Matt Taylor & Ellen Wakayama, art directors

Sting, 25 Years (A&M Records/Cherrytree Records/UMe)
James Spindler, art director

Wingless Angels, Wingless Angels: Deluxe Edition (Mindless Records, LLC)
David Gorman, art director

Best Album Notes

Neil Diamond, The Bang Years 1966-1968 (Columbia/Legacy)
Neil Diamond, writer

Various Artists, The Bristol Sessions, 1927-1928: The Big Bang of Country Music (Bear Family)
Ted Olsen and Tony Russell, writers

Syl Johnson, Complete Mythology (The Numero Group)
Ken Shipley, writer

Various Artists, Hear Me Howling!: Blues, Ballads & Beyond As Recorded by the San Francisco Bay by Chris Strachwitz in the 1960s (Arhoolie Records)
Adam Machado, writer

Various Artists, The Music City Story: Street Corner Doo Wop, Raw R&B and Soulful Sounds from Berkeley, California 1950-75 (Ace)
Alec Palao, writer

Best Historical Album

Paul McCartney & Wings, Band on the Run: The Paul McCartney Archive Collection – Deluxe Edition (MPL/Hear Music/Concord)
Paul McCartney, compilation producer; Sam Okell & Steve Rooke, mastering engineers

Various Artists, The Bristol Sessions, 1927-1928: The Big Bang of Country Music (Bear Family)
Christopher C. King and Ted Olsen, compilation producers; Christopher C. King and Chris Zwarg, mastering engineers

Syl Johnson, Complete Mythology (The Numero Group)
Tom Lunt, Rob Sevier & Ken Shipley, compilation producers; Jeff Lipton, mastering engineer

Various Artists, Hear Me Howling!: Blues, Ballads & Beyond As Recorded by the San Francisco Bay by Chris Strachwitz in the 1960s (Arhoolie Records)
Chris Strachwitz, compilation producer; Mike Cogan, mastering engineer

Elvis Presley, Young Man with the Big Beat: The Complete ’56 Elvis Presley Masters (RCA/Legacy)
Ernst Mikael Jorgensen, compilation producer; Vic Anesini, mastering engineer

Again, a huge congratulations to the winners.

Written by Mike Duquette

December 1, 2011 at 09:03