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Archive for January 3rd, 2012

The Dark Knight Returns: La-La Land Reissues “Batman Forever” Score

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La-La Land Records continues their history with Gotham City’s Caped Crusader on CD today, with the release of the complete score to 1995’s Batman Forever.

The third Bat-film sees Batman – the vigilante alter-ego of millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer) – square off against not one but two villains: Harvey “Two-Face” Dent (Tommy Lee Jones), the former district attorney whose facial disfiguration leads to a dual personality, and Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey), a disgraced employee of Wayne Enterprises who invents a brain-wave-stealing device as the brain-teaser-obsessed Riddler. But Batman doesn’t go it alone this time, after taking in a young rebellious orphan (Chris O’Donnell) who becomes his iconic sidekick, Robin.

After two wildly successful films directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight, Burton moved to the producer’s chair, welcoming blockbuster director Joel Schumacher to the fold. This trip to Gotham was far different than previous visits onscreen, owing less to the gritty stories of both early and recent Batman comic books and more to the campy 1960s television show. The garish, neon color palette and loud costumes – best known and laughed over for a Bat-suit with nipples sculpted into the latex armor (reportedly an homage to Greek statues) – was a bold choice that did not sit well with all fans, but the film was a box office smash.

After two Bat-scores by Danny Elfman, Elliot Goldenthal, a student of Aaron Copland fresh off an Oscar nod for Interview with the Vampire and moody action scores for Alien³ and Demolition Man, was given the reins for the picture. His bold march theme was a high point of the film, and merited its own appearance on a score CD in 1995. (Like Burton’s 1989 Batman, in which Elfman’s score shared the picture with songs by Prince, Forever featured a host of pop songs, including hit singles “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me” by U2 and Seal’s iconic “Kiss from a Rose.”)

LLL’s two-disc set, produced by Goldenthal himself and limited to 3,500 copies, features the original score as heard in the film alongside the original soundtrack presentation and two bonus tracks: a suite released as a B-side on U2’s CD single and an alternate take. Liner notes by renowned film score writer John Takis round out what is sure to be an excellent package for the Batman enthusiasts out there.

Hit the jump to order your copy and check out the track list.

Elliot Goldenthal, Batman Forever: Expanded Archival Collection (La-La Land Records LLLCD 1189, 2012 – original film released 1995)

Disc 1: Original score

  1. Main Title
  2. Batmobile/Introducing Two-Face
  3. Thug Fight
  4. Obligatory Car Chase
  5. Nygma’s Cubicle/Bat-Signal
  6. Capsule
  7. Rooftop Seduction/Roof Plunge
  8. Nygma After Hours/Brain Drain/You Are Terminated
  9. Suicide/First Riddle/Second Riddle Delivered
  10. Dream Doll
  11. Big Top Bomb
  12. Circus Opening/The Flying Graysons/Death Drop
  13. Flashback/Signal/Robin’s Lament
  14. Have a Safe Flight/Through the Eye
  15. Nygma’s Apartment/Two-Face’s Lair/Riddler’s Entrance/Schizoid Stomp/Brain Drain Expo/Heist Montage
  16. Laundry Room Stunt
  17. More Heists/Third Riddle/Nosy Robin
  18. Building Nygmatech/Family of Zombies
  19. Master Dick
  20. Memories Repressed/Love
  21. Alley Rumble++/Screen Kiss
  22. Batcave/Nygmatech Tango/Public Demo
  23. Nygma & Chase Dance
  24. Two-Face’s Entrance/Batman’s Entrance
  25. Gas Trap/Batman Phoenix
  26. Gratitude Problem
  27. Go to Chase
  28. Batcave Closeout/Dick Leaves Wayne Manor

Disc 2: Original score continued, bonus tracks and original score LP

  1. Happy Halloween/The Bat/Love Scene/Twick or Tweat/Seize and Capture
  2. Riddles Solved/Partners/Battleship
  3. Scuba Fight/Claw Island/Emperor of Madness
  4. Fun and Games
  5. Batterdammerung
  6. Two-Face’s Demise
  7. Bat Descent/Arkham Asylum
  8. Wet Screen Kiss/March On!
  9. Themes from “Batman Forever”
  10. More Heists (Alternate)
  11. Main Titles & Fanfare
  12. Perpetuum Mobile
  13. The Perils of Gotham
  14. Chase Noir
  15. Fledermausmarschmusik
  16. Nygma Variations (An Ode to Science)
  17. Victory
  18. Descent
  19. The Pull of Regret
  20. Mouth to Mouth Nocturne
  21. Gotham City Boogie
  22. Under the Top
  23. Mr. E’s Dance Card (Rhumba, Foxtrot, Waltz & Tango)
  24. Two-Face Three Step
  25. Chase Blanc
  26. Spank Me! Overture
  27. Holy Rusted Metal
  28. Batterdammerung

All tracks on Disc 1 previously unreleased except for “Alley Rumble,” which was released as “Wreckage and Rape” on Alien³: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (MCA Records 10269, 1992).
Disc 2, Tracks 1-4, 6-8 and 10 previously unreleased. Disc 2, Tracks 5 and 28 are identical.
Disc 2, Track 9 was the B-side to Atlantic/Island CD single 85567, 1995.
Disc 2, Tracks 11-28 released as Atlantic CD 82776, 1995.

Written by Mike Duquette

January 3, 2012 at 17:22

Review: Elvis Presley, “Elvis Country: Legacy Edition”

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The title of Elvis Presley’s 1969 double album said it all: From Memphis to Vegas, or if you turned the jacket over, From Vegas to Memphis. Both sides of the singer were on display both on the album and in its title: the superstar showman who had triumphed at Las Vegas’ International Hotel and the onetime Sun Records prodigy who’d periodically returned to his R&B roots. Though no studio album was released in 1970, the singer returned in January 1971 with Elvis Country: I’m 10,000 Years Old, and again the artist was addressing his roots, though with some decidedly contemporary flourishes. Nicely coinciding with the album’s 41st anniversary, RCA and Legacy Recordings have paired Elvis Country with its follow-up, Love Letters from Elvis. Love Letters was drawn from the same four days of Nashville sessions as Elvis Country, making for a particularly effective entry in the current series of Legacy Editions for the Presley catalogue. (Still more tracks from this studio marathon were utilized for the soundtrack of Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, which itself could be a contender for another upgrade down the road.)

The concept behind the Legacy Editions is a simple one: pair two related albums in one package, adding related singles, outtakes and ephemera, but largely avoiding the alternate takes that are the bread and butter of Follow That Dream, the Internet/mail-order Elvis-only collectors’ label. The Legacy Editions have been remarkably effective in streamlining the often-confusing state of Presley’s basic compact disc catalogue, and Elvis Country: Legacy Edition (88697 90439-2, 2012) is no exception.

Considering the furor which greeted Presley’s rise to national prominence, it’s remarkable from a contemporary vantage point that many of the singer’s earliest, most muscular recordings could today be considered as much country as rock and roll. The future King always paid respect to his Southern heritage in song, and so Elvis Country would be marked with deep soul and gospel intensity, even if filtered through the outsized presence commanded the stage at the International nightly in glittery jumpsuits. Befitting the famous “Nashville sound” pioneered at RCA, Presley’s band (James Burton, Chip Young and Charlie Hodge on guitar, Norbert Putnam on bass, Jerry Carrigan on drums, David Briggs on piano, Charlie McCoy on organ and harmonica) was supplemented with overdubbed musicians, with Burton, Carrigan, McCoy and Briggs all returning to participate in the overdubs themselves. (Burton, Young and McCoy were all familiar to Elvis, and Putnam, Briggs and Carrigan arrived via Muscle Shoals!) When Elvis joined these musicians for four days of recording in June 1970, he hadn’t set foot in a recording studio there since March 1969 when he recorded tracks for Change of Habit, the film in which he starred opposite a post-Dick Van Dyke Show Mary Tyler Moore as a nun. Not surprisingly, though, Elvis returned to Nashville like a fish getting back to water. The resulting album would be derived from the June sessions and one night in September which yielded four tracks: “Snowbird” and “Whole Lot-ta [sic] Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and “Where Did They Go Lord” and “Rags to Riches,” two single sides also included on the Legacy Edition.

The modern touches applied by nominal producer Felton Jarvis are apparent from the start of Elvis Country and suit the naturally deeper voice Presley had acquired by this point. An electric sitar figures prominently on the opening cover of Anne Murray’s “Snowbird,” written by Gene McLellan. It’s the same instrument familiar from B.J. Thomas’ “Hooked on a Feeling” or many of Thom Bell’s best Philadelphia soul productions. “Snowbird” segues rather jarringly into the first of many snippets of the old traditional tune “I Was Born 10,000 Years Ago.” This song, with its raucous and rollicking beat, is woven between the album’s tracks to create one of the most pronounced “conceptual” touches on any Presley album. Was the singer commenting on how integral these songs are to the musical firmament? The complete “10,000 Years Ago” recording was originally released on 1972’s Elvis Now and is included here as a bonus track. (The “clean” fades of the album tracks, minus the “10,000 Years Ago” segments, can be heard on various compilations and “complete” sets.)

The bolero rhythm of “Tomorrow Never Comes” isn’t typical country-and-western, though it was adopted from Glen Campbell’s recording of the Ernest Tubb composition. Elvis brings the song home with a booming gospel choir, big notes and even bigger passion a bit redolent of his 1968 rouser “If I Can Dream,” which also managed to be both singularly heartfelt and bombastic. Freewheeling, up-tempo tracks make the strongest impression, such as a tough, reworked “Whole Lot-ta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” which replaces Jerry Lee Lewis’ famous piano licks with furious guitar interplay and a vocal that finds Elvis shedding a few years in the process! He’s carried away as he admonishes drummer Jerry Carrigan to “take it out, Jerry! Take it out!” as the track draws to a close. Joe Babcock’s “I Washed My hands in Muddy Water” becomes another brisk, lean rocker in Elvis’ hands. On the bluesy take of Lee Hazlewood’s “The Fool” (credited to Hazlewood’s then-wife, Naomi Ford), you might have to turn your stereo up to hear Elvis’ conspiratorially whispered vocal!

The singer was equally comfortable with the ballads, however. Hank Cochran’s “Make the World Go Away” is a big AM-ready production drenched in strings, though Elvis’ strong vocal is still out front. It’s a mystery as to why this track wasn’t selected as a single. (Dallas Frazier’s “There Goes My Everything” and the Barnes/Robertson “I Really Don’t Want to Know” were the choices instead.) A sweet, tender and affecting one-take reading of Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away” is accented by Briggs’ lilting piano fills and Burton’s guitar. It’s said that the idea of a country album germinated when Elvis and his team realized the kind of groove the band had been creating in the studio, and there are many vivid instrumental contributions. The virtuoso Burton brings his distinct dobro to Shirl Milete’s “It’s Your Baby, You Rock It,” and Buddy Spicher’s overdubbed fiddle graces the sensitive “Little Cabin on the Hill.”

In addition to the full “10,000 Years Ago,” Elvis Country is expanded with a brief, frenetic studio jam of Flatt and Scruggs’ “A Hundred Years From Now” first issued on The Essential ‘70s Masters box set, and another Dallas Frazier song, “Where Did They Go, Lord,” the non-LP single. Hit the jump to receive some Love Letters from Elvis!

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Written by Joe Marchese

January 3, 2012 at 11:13

Posted in Elvis Presley, Features, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Hello (Again), Louis! “Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz” Distilled to Four Discs For U.S. Release

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A favorite box set of both The Second Disc and Mr. Elvis Costello, Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz is the hefty 10-CD treasure trove issued in the U.K. by Universal Music in 2011.  The first comprehensive career-spanning look at the great bandleader’s life in music, Satchmo is housed in a case resembling one of Armstrong’s actual travel trunks, and includes a 200-page hardcover book in addition to some select sheet music replicas.  Yet despite Armstrong’s central place in the annals of American music, the set wasn’t initially released on U.S. shores.  Verve, an arm of Universal Music, is rectifying this somewhat with the January 10 issue of a 4-CD “highlights” set from the original box.

Verve is promising that “there is nothing second-rate” about this distillation, which selects 81 tracks out of the larger set’s 186, and includes a 164-page book.  Even the original travel trunk design will be retained, although it’s been considerably scaled down.  Those considering this miniaturized package will be pleased to know that some of the rare and unreleased material unearthed in 2011 has been retained for this edition including alternate takes and live performances.

For those not familiar with the breadth of Armstrong’s titanic discography, it can be divided into a number of periods.  We suggest Scott Johnson and Michael Minn’s online discography as a great place to start exploring!  Sony currently controls the seminal Hot Fives and Hot Sevens period (1925-1928) and the rest of his OKeh period through 1932, as well as his stints at RCA Victor (1932-1933 and 1946-1947) and Columbia (1954-1956). He recorded for Decca for roughly fifteen years between 1935 and 1949. In 1956 he began a tenure at Verve, where he had monumental collaborations with Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. Following his Verve stint, he briefly returned to Decca and recorded for the original Audio Fidelity label as well as for MGM and Roulette. Satchmo hit a commercial peak when he disrupted the British Invasion thanks to 1964′s Hello, Dolly! on Kapp, but the prolific artist was also was heard on ABC-Paramount, Mercury, EMI, Bluebird, Avco Embassy, Brunswick and Buena Vista! Universal Music Group (the label behind Ambassador of Jazz) today controls the Decca, Verve, ABC-Paramount, Mercury and Kapp recordings.

As of this writing, is offering the U.S. edition of Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz for $65.10.  If you’re looking for a solid introduction to one of the great forces in American music, or feel like gifting a musical education to a loved one, you could hardly do better than this set.  But if you’re serious about Armstrong, jazz or popular music in general, Elvis Costello reminded us that the original, 10-CD box set is a bargain at just $150.00 as of this writing.

Ready to say “Hello, Louis” to an American music legend?  Hit the jump to check out the track listing to the truncated box set.  It’s due in stores on January 10. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 3, 2012 at 10:15