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Archive for December 12th, 2011

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 11 (#50-46)

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And so starts the second half of our 100 Greatest Reissues feature! We’ve taken Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 greatest albums of all time from 2003 and scoured the history of each one on compact disc, making note of masterings, packaging and bonus tracks wherever possible. These next five are some of the definitive statements in their respective genres, from rock to rap to reggae to jazz; we’re sure there’s something for everyone in this entry!

50. Little Richard, Here’s Little Richard (Specialty, 1957)

With a handful of nonsensical syllables – “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bop-bop” – Richard Penniman helped shape rock and roll forever. Two years of killer singles and definitive performances of the genre culminated in Here’s Little Richard, his first long-playing record. (Believe it or not, it was one of his only for Specialty Records; after another self-titled album the next year, he would turn his back on rock for gospel music, and would spend much of his career between the two.) In addition to “Tutti Frutti,” key tracks included “Rip It Up,” “Ready Teddy” and the equally iconic “Long Tall Sally.”

Despite its deserved status in the rock canon, Here’s Little Richard is sort of a subdued title on CD. First released by beloved U.K. label Ace in the late ’80s (CDCHM 128), that release remains in print. A Mobile Fidelity hybrid SACD release (UDSACD 2028, 2006) paired Here’s Little Richard with its self-titled follow-up; both are found together on CD in this set by the import Hoodoo label. (A Mobile Fidelity vinyl pressing – MFSL 1-287 – also exists.) Completists will want to check out two boxes entitled The Specialty Sessions that exhaustively chronicle this fertile period in rock history: a hard-to-find six-disc version by Ace (ABOXCD 1, 1989) and a slightly easier-to-find triple-disc set on Specialty 8508, released a year later.

49. The Allman Brothers Band, At Fillmore East (Capricorn, 1971)

On the surface, The Allman Brothers looked like your typical Southern-fried rock band. Digging deeper, though, they were a strong band with deep connections to each other onstage. Their work over two nights at the Fillmore East in March of 1971 suggests a jazz collective as much as good ol’ boys, and the subsequent live album, with its insanely prodigious extended jams (some stretching all the way to 20 minutes), was one to listen to no matter how much you liked country. The Fillmore shows also proved ripe for the group’s subsequent album, Eat a Peach – which featured extras from the shows (including the half-hour “Mountain Jam,” extended over two sides of vinyl!) – as well as the sound systems of fans everywhere, with the alternately mixed and edited quadrophonic pressings of the album serving as a treat to early adopter audiophiles.

The first CD release of At Fillmore East was a double-disc set in Europe on Polydor (823 273-2) in 1986. Dennis M. Drake receives digital mastering credit. In 1989, the Dreams box set (Polydor 839 417-2) featured two tracks from the original LP (“Whipping Post” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”), as remixed from the quadrophonic masters. It also included an unreleased track from those March 13-14 shows, “Drunken Hearted Boy.” The Fillmore tracks from At Fillmore East, Eat a Peach and Dreams, along with one other track (“Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” first released on 1972’s Duane Allman: An Anthology), were re-edited and remixed for 1992’s The Fillmore Concerts (Polydor 314 517 294-2); that same year, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab remastered the original album on two gold CDs (UDCD 2-558).

In 1997, the original album, remastered by Suha Gur, was released on CD as Capricorn 314 531 260-2. The next year, a DTS CD (DTS Entertainment 710215 4410 2 3) provided the first CD edition of the album with the original quadrophonic mix. Gur remixed and remastered the Fillmore material yet again for a Deluxe Edition (again, with one more track, “Midnight Rider” from Duane Allman: An Anthology II). That set (Mercury B0000401-02, 2003) was followed a year later by a hybrid SACD version (Mercury B0000400-36) of the original album – the final word, for now.

After the jump, it’s all about the rhythm and the rebel, in more ways than one!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 12, 2011 at 17:31

Holiday Gift Guide Review: The Rolling Stones, “Some Girls: Deluxe Edition”

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Welcome 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!

In a vintage clip that brings one of the biggest laughs in Martin Scorsese’s 2008 concert film Shine a Light, Mick Jagger tells an interviewer that he doesn’t anticipate getting old as a Rolling Stone…yet, nearly fifty years after the band first formed, Jagger and co. are doing just that.  But however many jokes come their way, The Rolling Stones prove time and again that they still, indeed, have what it takes.

Some still consider 1978’s Some Girls the last great Rolling Stones album.  Whether that’s the case or not, the fact remains that the album has avoided the “dated” stigma despite its pronounced nods at then-current trends like punk and disco.  When the famously aggressive Stones turned their attention to these “fads,” they did so with a ferocity that the youngsters might have envied.  So much a product of its time, Some Girls has been reissued in a variety of formats including a Deluxe Edition and the inevitable Super Deluxe Edition.  But unlike so many other Super Deluxe Editions of late, all of the core audio content (the original, remastered album and a bonus disc of twelve unreleased recordings) is available on the 2-CD version, so this is a reissue that is, happily, both deluxe and affordable.

Of course, Some Girls will always be most remembered for “Miss You,” to date the group’s final U.S. Number One pop hit.  Its stomping, danceable four-on-the-floor beat alluded to familiar disco rhythms, but the glossy production was applied to a fundamentally tough groove.  “Miss You” stood out, and still makes an electrifying album opener, from the wordless wailing to Ian McLagan’s electric piano and Mel Collins’ saxophone.  But disco wasn’t the only New York phenomenon of which the Rolling Stones took notice.  Punk occupied an equally significant place in the music climate of the time, and like disco, came from the underground in its purest form.  “When the Whip Comes Down” tapped into the seamy New York street scene in the lurid and brutal tale of gay hustler, sung by Jagger: “Yeah, mama and papa told me I was crazy to stay/I was gay in New York, a fag in L.A./ So I saved my money , and I took a plane/ Wherever I go they treat me the same /When the whip comes down .”  The song’s sleazy setting was perfectly captured in Jagger’s droning vocals, although the singer always has enough magnetism in his voice that nobody would mistake him for another poet of the streets, Lou Reed!  Still, the song’s repetitive, simple chords churned out on electric guitars feel a bit like the Stones in a Velvet playground!

If “When the Whip Comes Down” wasn’t for the faint of heart, though, what could have prepared listeners for the title song?  It’s the essence of why the band is so easy to parody, but it’s so completely true to the Rolling Stones’ persona that it defies to odds, and works.  “Some Girls” at its heart is a “list song” of the kind Cole Porter used to write, but that’s where the similarities end!  It’s loaded with (winking?) misogynistic vitriol, rendered bluntly: “White girls they’re pretty funny, sometimes they drive me mad /Black girls just wanna get fucked all night/I just don’t have that much jam!/Chinese girls are so gentle, they’re really such a tease/You never know quite what they’re cookin’/Inside those silky sleeves!”  Despite these politically correct times (and let’s face it, the Stones were the only ones who could have gotten away with these lyrics, even in 1978!), the song hasn’t aged.

That raw mean spirit continues on the garage rocker “Lies,” and even a cover of The Temptations’ gorgeous “Just My Imagination” turns lascivious at the hands of the Glimmer Twins, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts.  But if that doesn’t win the “Most Bizarre Song on the Album” trophy, “Far Away Eyes” certainly does, with its exaggerated country pastiche of the Bakersfield sound, made famous by the likes of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.  Jagger adopts a country accent, and the song even refers to that California town in its opening lines, just in case the listener wasn’t already in on the joke!  The lyric is, alas, as exaggerated as the delivery, but the song is a more-than-credible recreation of the style!

After the jump: Keith makes an impression, and the Stones open up their vaults! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 12, 2011 at 14:21