The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for December 23rd, 2011

Second Discmas, Week Two: And The Winners Are…

with one comment

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)

with 7 comments

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”

with one comment

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)

with 6 comments

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