The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for December 15th, 2011

The Third Day of Second Discmas

leave a comment »

It’s the third day of Second Discmas, and what could be better than two copies of some Ben Folds rarities or three Spector compilations? How about five, count ’em, five Piano Men?

Well, it’s only one Piano Man; specifically, it’s Piano Man by Billy Joel. But we’re giving away five copies of Joel’s legendary debut for Columbia Records, featuring the hits “Piano Man” and “Captain Jack.” This remastered Legacy Edition also features, for the first time anywhere, Joel’s 1972 performance at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, recorded by WMMR-FM and remixed for this set. It was here that one of the first recorded versions of “Captain Jack” was heard, becoming an underground radio hit across the Eastern seaboard and drumming up hype for this fresh, talented songwriter, leading to his eventual deal with Columbia and decades of commercial acclaim.

As before, entering is easy: all you do is either send us an e-mail at theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com, like this article as it’s posted to our Facebook page or retweet it as it’s posted to our Twitter feed. And don’t forget, if you’ve already entered our previous days of giveaways, you’re still eligible to win this one! Entries for this giveaway close Friday at 3 p.m., at which point we’ll be giving away an even bigger set, so make sure you’re here to see it!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 15, 2011 at 15:00

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 14 (#35-31)

with 4 comments

Welcome to Part 14 of 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 compact disc, letting you know which audio treasures can be found on which releases. In today’s group, we meet a guitar-playing alien, bring it all back home with Bob Dylan and his Band, and let it bleed with Mick and Keef!

35. David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars (RCA, 1972)

The story of Ziggy Stardust is all there in the song:

“Ziggy played guitar, jammin’ good with Weird and Gilly/The spiders from Mars, he played it left hand/But made it too far/Became the special man, then we were Ziggy’s band.  Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo/Like some cat from Japan, he could lick ’em by smiling/He could leave ’em to hang/Came on so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan…”

David Bowie embodied his titular character on his stunning 1972 breakthrough LP, and played the androgynous alien to the hilt.  A very loose concept album (Quadrophenia, this ain’t!), Ziggy wrapped crunchy hard rock riffs and atmospheric orchestration around what might have been Bowie’s strongest collection of songs yet.  On such mini-rock operas as “Suffragette City,” “Moonage Daydream,” “Hang Onto Yourself” and “Five Years,” Ziggy was joined by the searing musicianship of his Spiders from Mars: Mick Ronson (guitar, pianos, string arrangements), Trevor Bolder (bass) and Mick Woodmansey (drums).

Despite gaining stature over the years as an iconic album of the glam era, Ziggy Stardust only reached No. 75 in the U.S. (it scored significantly better in the U.K., peaking at No. 5).  Ziggy was eventually certified platinum and gold in the U.K. and U.S., respectively.  “Starman,” selected as the album’s single, reached No. 10 in the U.K., but echoing the album’s placement, it only managed to make it to No. 65 on the U.S. chart.  Still, Ziggy has been released numerous times in the compact disc age.

Its earliest domestic CD issue came from RCA in 1984 (PCD1-4702) and the tasteful sonics on this release make it a desirable pressing.  When Rykodisc acquired the Bowie catalogue, Ziggy was rolled out with five bonus tracks (RCD-90134) in 1990: demos of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Lady Stardust,” the outtakes “Velvet Goldmine” (also the B-side of the 1975 reissue of “Space Oddity”) and “Sweet Head,” plus an unreleased mix of “John, I’m Only Dancing.”  The Bowie catalogue changed hands again near the end of the decade, and the new remasters from Virgin/EMI deleted the bonus tracks from each title.  Hence, 1999’s EMI issue (7243 521900 0 3), as remastered by Peter Mew, contains only the original album line-up.  Three years later, EMI unveiled a deluxe 2-CD edition of the seminal album (7243 5 39826 2 1) for its 30th anniversary, but the remastering on this set proved controversial.  The left and right stereo channels were reversed on the original LP sequence, and some of the songs (“Hang On to Yourself,” the bridge between “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City”) were clipped.  Its second disc contains twelve tracks, many of which had been previously released by Rykodisc and spread among their 1990–92 reissues. Each of the five bonus tracks from the Rykodisc CD appears, albeit some in different form.  (“Sweet Head,” for instance, features extended studio chatter at its beginning.)  A stereo and multi-channel hybrid SACD (07243 521900 2 7) was released concurrently.  As usual, Japan has kept busy with Ziggy reissues, offering a 2007 vinyl replica edition (TOCP-70144) and a 2009 SHM-CD (TOCP-95044).  Bowie’s back catalogue is reportedly up for grabs once more.  Chances are, yet another label will soon be trotting out a reissue of Ziggy Stardust, just in time for its 40th anniversary!

34. The Band, Music from Big Pink (Capitol, 1968)

In Part 12 of our series, Mike covered The Band, the eponymous 1969 follow-up to the group’s debut, Music from Big Pink.  Though few groups would have the audacity to name themselves The Band, that’s exactly what Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel did.  Big Pink was the album where the former Hawks (and former Bob Dylan backing band) crystallized the sound that spawned a thousand imitators, returning rock to its most stripped-down American roots.

The Band worked its magic in the house that lent the album its title.  “Big Pink,” a pink-colored house in West Saugerties, New York, was the same home where Bob Dylan and the Band created the legendary “Basement Tapes” demos, which introduced songs like “The Mighty Quinn” into Dylan’s catalogue.  The bard of Hibbing, Minnesota was a major presence on Big Pink.  He co-wrote two of its tracks (“This Wheel’s on Fire” with Danko and “Tears of Rage” with Manuel) and wrote one solo (“I Shall Be Released”), and even contributed the album’s cover art!  Yet by the time of the album’s release, it was clear that The Band could step out of the master’s shadow, with a unique and original voice that was the perfect antidote to the FM hard rock sounds starting to proliferate.  Although Robbie Robertson’s “The Weight” only managed No. 63 on the singles chart, the song has become a part of the American pop standard songbook.  The album itself got as far as No. 30.

It’s no surprise, then, that Music from Big Pink has been the recipient of quite a few reissues.  Initial standard CD releases of Big Pink (Capitol CDP 7 46069 2, 1988) and the Mobile Fidelity Gold CD pressing (UDCD-527, 1989) featured the original 11-track album sequence, but Capitol rewarded Band fans in 2000 with a deluxe edition as part of its series of expanded Band remasters.  The 2000 Big Pink (Capitol 7243 5 25390 2 4) boasted a generous nine bonus tracks!  A DVD-Audio (Capitol 72434-77939-9-8, 2001) released around the same time offered the album in advanced resolution surround sound as well as stereo.  Japan got into the act in 2004 with a mini-LP replica (Capitol TOCP-67391) and in 2009, Mobile Fidelity revisited the original album on a stereo-only hybrid SACD (UDSACD 2044) in superior sound.  A 2011 U.K. edition bundled the album in a 2-CD set with its follow-up, The Band.  Surely we haven’t heard the last of Music from Big Pink!

Coming up after the jump: from the Ramones to the Stones! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 15, 2011 at 14:03

Frank’s Triumphant “Concert Sinatra” Reissued, Remixed and Expanded

with 16 comments

When Frank Sinatra took the microphone at Stage 7 of the Samuel Goldwyn Studio in Hollywood, California, on February 18, 1963, it wasn’t for a film shoot.

Sinatra selected the one-time home of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford for its fine acoustics and natural reverberation as he prepared to record his ninth album on the Reprise label, The Concert Sinatra.  The title wouldn’t refer to an actual Sinatra concert, but rather Sinatra singing with a full concert orchestra.  Nelson Riddle would be able to realize his most expansive arrangements on a brief but powerful selection of songs that could almost have been called The Rodgers and Hammerstein Songbook.  Of the album’s eight titles, four were written by the legendary duo; two others by Rodgers with his earlier collaborator, Lorenz Hart; and one by Hammerstein and his earlier collaborator, Jerome Kern.  The eighth title came from the equally distinguished pens of German expatriate composer Kurt Weill and renowned American poet and playwright Maxwell Anderson.  Every cut on the album was drawn from the Broadway stage, a songbook that benefited greatly from Sinatra’s largesse in performance, even if the man never set foot as an actor on The Great White Way.  The original album liner notes took the unusual step of describing the recording process: “The master tracks were recorded on Westrex 35 mm, sprocket-type multi-head magnetic recorders.  High output 325-3M recording film was used to achieve the best signal-to-noise ratio,” and so on.  Clearly, Frank Sinatra was proud of what would turn out to be a crown jewel in his catalogue.  Now, that crown jewel is ready for the big time again.

On January 17, Concord Records and Frank Sinatra Enterprises will reissue a remastered edition of The Concert Sinatra for the 21st century, promising use of the original master recordings which have “not been used in any re-release of The Concert Sinatra since the original sound mix was prepared nearly 50 years ago.”  In preparation for this expanded reissue, producers located the original film canisters where the masters had been stored since the 1963 sessions.  Frank Sinatra Jr. led the production team to create a new mix utilizing “contemporary digital recording technology” for this 2012 edition.  Other reissues in Concord’s ongoing Sinatra series have also employed remixes, some more pronounced than others.  Sinatra Jr. promises a new experience for this release.  In his liner notes, he writes, “If you have had this magnificent album in the past and compare the orchestral content of previous releases to this new rendering, you will undoubtedly notice the amount of music, originally recorded on the master film that was never present before. Listening to other parts of Nelson Riddle’s classic orchestrations, never before heard on record, was indeed an experience for me.”  Chances are, it may be an experience for you, too.

Hit the jump for more on this classic album, including the full track listing and discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 15, 2011 at 10:14

UPDATE 12/15: Amazing Grace: Glen Campbell’s “Jesus and Me” Anthology Reissued and Expanded, Joined by “Home for the Holidays”

with one comment

In a career spanning nearly fifty years, there’s little musical ground that Glen Campbell hasn’t covered.  He’s explored bluegrass, country and pop, played on many of the most famous records of all time as a session guitarist and “Wrecking Crew” member, and even served a brief stint as a Beach Boy.  A steady stream of reissues has reminded listeners of Campbell’s mightiest accomplishments, and despite the admission of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the singer recently recorded an acclaimed new album and continues touring as of this writing.

Campbell’s career hasn’t been without its ups and downs, including a 2004 DUI conviction.  But for the past two decades, the Arkansas-born singer, raised Baptist, has credited Christianity with keeping him on the right path.  In his 1994 autobiography Rhinestone Cowboy, Campbell wrote, “I have a ministry in my music, much of which is focused on God and all of which is performed for God…Parts of my show include the secular songs I’ve sung for 25 years, and I’m singing them better today than ever before.”  He continued, “I once performed with a band, but today it’s the band and the Holy Spirit. I can feel it when I’m onstage, I can hear it in recorded playbacks, and I can sense it in audience responses.”  In 2008, Campbell revealed to Reuters that he and his wife Kim are adherents of Messianic Judaism, a religious movement described by writer Dean Goodman as one “whose members regard themselves as committed Jews but are rejected by mainstream Jewish denominations as following an essentially evangelical Christian theology.”

It’s clear that Campbell’s spirituality has long been a guiding force for him, and he’s expressed that musically in a series of successful Contemporary Christian recordings.  New Haven Records has recently reissued its 1996 single-disc compilation of Campbell’s Christian work, Jesus and Me: The Collection, in a new edition, expanded by two bonus tracks.  The original compilation brought together ten tracks from previous records together with two new songs.

New Haven has also announced that Jesus and Me will be joined by a reissue of Campbell’s 1998 Christmas-themed Home for the Holidays.  Hit the jump for more details on both titles, including order links and the complete track listing with discographical information! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 15, 2011 at 09:19