The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for December 7th, 2011

Short Takes: Paul is Digital, New Rock Hall Class, Rush Box Issues, The Cure Make “Wish” for 2012

with 7 comments

  • Paul McCartney is not dead, but he is digital: a new beta version of his website, developed with Hewlett-Packard, brings his solo catalogue to fans through a cloud service, along with a host of interactive features. Fans can stream all of his studio albums (including collaboration projects like The Fireman and Twin Freaks) through a jukebox, and premium members can download that jukebox as a desktop app. Additionally, a new “Rude Studio” section of his site allows fans to play and mix three-track stems of some of his greatest hits. Conspicuously absent is the bonus material from any of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection reissues. (Due credit to Super Deluxe Edition for their reportage.)
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2012 have been announced. The Beastie Boys, Donovan, Guns N’ Roses, Laura Nyro, The Small Faces/Faces and The Red Hot Chili Peppers were rewarded in the performer category, Freddie King will be inducted as an early influence, the Ahmet Ertegun (nonperformer) award will go to Don Kirshner and the Awards for Musical Excellence go to producer Tom Dowd and engineers Cosimo Matassa and Glyn Johns. A hearty congratulations to all those recognized.
  • Rush have announced that production flaws exist on two of the three recently-released Sectors box sets. Fans have noted problems with Fly By Night (1975) in the Sector 1 box and the DVD version of A Farewell to Kings (1977) in Sector 2. A disc replacement program will be implemented shortly, per the band. (Thanks to Ultimate Classic Rock for the tip.)
  • Tuesday was grey (and Wednesday too) at Second Disc HQ, but it’s brightened with the news of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame non-inductees The Cure reissuing hit single “Friday I’m in Love” next year for Record Store Day and the Teenage Cancer Trust. The single, which you – yes, you – could design the cover art for – also looks to be a tie-in for a reissue of the album it came from, 1992’s Wish, for its 20th anniversary, so there’s another expansion we can look forward to in the coming year. (Hat tips abound to Slicing Up Eyeballs for this one.)

Written by Mike Duquette

December 7, 2011 at 15:40

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 8 (#65-61)

leave a comment »

We continue our look at the many reissues of the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003! We’ll explore the various versions of these classic albums on disc, letting you know which audio treasures can be found on which releases. It’s a marvelous night for a “Moondance” before we go “Back to Mono,” roll with the Stones and then take in latter-day classics from the 1980s and 1990s!

65. Moondance, Van Morrison (Warner Bros., 1970)

Van Morrison’s 1968 Warner Bros. debut, Astral Weeks, was a creation like no other, blending rock, jazz, folk and classical styles into a nearly indescribable tour de force.  With only eight tracks, some of them quite lengthy, Astral Weeks indicated that a major new player had arrived on the music scene.  He didn’t disappoint with 1970’s Moondance, although the album was every bit as light as Astral Weeks was bleak, and every bit as commercial as Astral Weeks was esoteric.

The soulful, jazzy title track has become a modern standard, although it wasn’t released as a single until 1977 (!) when it barely eked into the Hot 100.  “Come Running,” the original selection for a single, did manage to crack the Top 40 while the album itself managed a respectable No. 39 chart placement.  “Crazy Love” has also received its share of cover versions over the years (recently by neo-pop crooner Michael Buble) while “Into the Mystic” could be the Irish rocker’s ultimate statement.  Morrison’s ode to the power of radio, “Caravan,” is no less powerful, while album opener “And It Stoned Me” is a fan favorite to this day.

Morrison and Warner Bros. Records have reportedly been unable to come to terms over the years for a reissue of Moondance.  A bare-bones CD (Warner Bros. 3103) remains in print to this day.  A 2008 Japanese edition (Warner Japan WPCR-75420) boasted of first-ever remastering for the title, though it wasn’t made available elsewhere.  Moondance has, of course, been reissued on vinyl, and fans of the iconoclastic artist still hold out hope that an expanded, remastered Moondance will one day come to light.

64. Various Artists, Phil Spector: Back to Mono 1958-1969 (ABKCO, 1991)

I wrote of Legacy’s 2011 Phil Spector: The Philles Album Collection:

Whoa-oh, a-whoa-oh-oh-oh!

Think of The Ronettes’ wail, every bit as iconic a cry as a-whop-bop-a-loo-a-whop-bam-boom.  Doesn’t rock and roll have a way of elevating onomatopoeia to poetry?  And no label made sweeter poetry in the first half of the 1960s than Philles Records.  The voices of Ronnie Spector, Darlene Love, La La Brooks, Barbara Alston and the rest spoke directly to America’s teenagers.  These women, alternately vulnerable and defiant, were little more than girls when they began putting their voices to the “little symphonies” being crafted by producer Phil Spector and his house arrangers, most notably Jack Nitzsche.  Tom Wolfe once famously deemed Spector “America’s first teen-age tycoon.”  Why?  Spector recognized the paradigm shift in the late 1950s, when teenagers began accruing disposable income and exercising newfound spending power.  He tapped into uncharted territory.  Cole Porter and Irving Berlin weren’t writing songs about teenagers.  Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil were.  Like Spector, they were barely out of their teen years themselves.  The songs they created at Philles remain both of a distinct time, and timeless.

Those timeless recordings were first compiled for the CD era by Allen Klein’s ABKCO Records for the 1991 box set Back to Mono (7118-2).  The set brought together Spector’s earliest productions for The Teddy Bears, The Paris Sisters and Gene Pitney as well as his Philles heyday of The Ronettes, The Crystals and the Righteous Brothers, and concluded with his post-Philles productions for Ike and Tina Turner and Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd.  A number of rare tracks were released for the first time on Back to Mono, and the original A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector was included in its entirety.  Since acquiring the Spector catalogue, Legacy has released one impressive albums box set as well as five compilation discs, with hopefully more to come, such as a definitive singles collection.  But the original, now out-of-print Back to Mono remains one of the most impressive box sets of all time, and a reminder of a time when thunderous “little symphonies for the kiddies” ruled the AM airwaves.

You might want to hit the jump now, but be forewarned: your fingers might get Sticky! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 7, 2011 at 14:18

Herrmann at Fox Box: A Surprising Sell-Out

with 2 comments

When Varese Sarabande announced their last release of the year to be “a whopper,” they weren’t kidding. What’s more surprising, though, is the reception it received.

Bernard Herrmann at 20th Century-Fox continues the label’s yearlong celebration of his life and work in what would have been his centennial year. (Compilations from his television work with Alfred Hitchcock and and expanded version of his co-written score to The Egyptian were other Varese sets honoring the composer this year.) Eighteen scores on 14 discs are inside the box, spanning nearly two decades and including some previously unreleased gems as well. From 1943’s Jane Eyre to 1962’s Tender is the Night and including some classics of contemporary cinema (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit), there’s a lot to pore over.

What makes this box so surprising, then? Since its announcement Monday, the set is likely within hours (if not less) of selling out its entire 1,000-unit pressing. Even at $199.98 for such a lavish box with a 108-page hardcover book of liner notes, that’s impressive – so much so that we’re running this post before we’ve finished our track annotations just so anyone who hasn’t seen the news can pick one up before it’s too late. So stop reading and start buying!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 7, 2011 at 12:00

Holiday Tunes Watch, Part 4: Starbucks to “Let It Snow” With Dylan, Diamond, Aretha, Elvis and More

leave a comment »

With each holiday season inevitably comes a new Christmas-themed compilation CD from Starbucks, combining rare and familiar tracks from artists new and old, designed as the perfect accompaniment for that venti skinny Peppermint Mocha!  2011’s entry in the annual series, Let It Snow, features Michigan singer/songwriter Rosie Thomas’ recording of the Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn title song, along with fifteen other tracks.  Some tracks are from the “usual suspects” (Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley) and others from less expected artists (Bob Dylan, Death Cab for Cutie).

Dylan’s much-discussed 2009 Christmas From the Heart is represented with its most exciting track, “Must Be Santa,” the singer’s wild zydeco-meets-polka re-invention of the novelty song first recorded by onetime Columbia Records boss Mitch Miller.  “Must Be Santa” is one the two most recent tracks on Let It Snow; the other is Andrea Bocelli’s booming, if good-natured, take on “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”  The oldest track on the compilation is Bing Crosby’s relaxed 1955 take on Meredith (The Music Man) Willson’s chestnut “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”  Not far behind is Elvis Presley’s 1957 reading of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”  It’s hard to believe that this classic was once controversial; Berlin initially felt the pelvis-swinging rock-and-roller was mocking his holiday standard with his loose cover.  Today, it seems positively tame!

Also featured are recent Kennedy Center Honoree Neil Diamond (“The Little Drummer Boy”), bluegrass veteran Alison Krauss (the saucy “Shimmy Down The Chimney (Fill Up My Stocking”) and sultry chanteuse Julie London (the seductive “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”).  The classic A Christmas Gift to You from Philles Records has been raided for The Ronettes’ boisterous “Sleigh Ride,” while the same album is represented in a cover version of Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” performed by Death Cab for Cutie.  A pre-Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin appears via her gently swinging 1964 take of “Winter Wonderland.”

Hit the jump for more, including an order link and the full track listing with discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 7, 2011 at 10:29