The Second Disc

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Archive for January 23rd, 2012

10538 Overture: Electric Light Orchestra Debut Turns 40, Expanded with Quad DVD and Bonus Tracks

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The musical partnership of Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood was a short-lived one, but EMI will soon give listeners a chance to revisit their acclaimed collaboration.  A 40th Anniversary Edition of the debut album from Electric Light Orchestra is set to arrive on March 12.  Self-titled for its original U.K. release and re-titled No Answer for the U.S., the album announced a bold new sound, reportedly created when Wood urged Lynne to add cellos to his song “10538 Overture.”  That track leads off this CD/DVD edition, containing both the original LP in expanded form and a bonus DVD.  On the latter you’ll find the quadraphonic mix of Electric Light Orchestra in DTS 96/24 and Dolby Digital, plus the album’s two-channel mix in PCM Stereo.

Electric Light Orchestra may be a shock to the system for those fans who only know the band from its later hits like “Evil Woman” and “Mr. Blue Sky.”  On those songs, musical polymath Jeff Lynne allowed his Beatle-influenced style to flourish, modernizing Lennon and McCartney-style pop songcraft for an arena rock experience.  On the debut album, though, Lynne was sharing the driver’s seat with another prodigiously talented music man, Roy Wood.  A founder of The Move who enlisted Lynne into the Birmingham band upon the departure of lead singer Carl Wayne, Wood brought his classical leanings to the newly-formed ELO, complementing Lynne’s rock sensibilities.  The divergences of opinion between Wood and Lynne only lasted through this one album, with Wood relinquishing ELO to Lynne and going on to form Wizzard.  But some forty years later, Electric Light Orchestra still shows off the best of both gentlemen.

The contrasts between Wood and Lynne are apparent, with the former’s baroque-flavored “Look at Me Now” quite a shift from the latter’s classically-colored hard rock of “10538 Overture.”  There are progressive rock touches to the album, with lengthy pieces like Wood’s “The Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644).”  Lynne even touches on jazz with the piano-driven “Manhattan Rumble (49th St. Massacre).”

What bonus tracks have been included?  Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 23, 2012 at 14:26

Legacy Plans Artist Collections, Themed Sets for New “Playlist” Batch

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Brace yourselves, compilation collectors: Legacy’s got another batch of Playlist titles out next week.

The latest batch of set, due out January 31, skew mainly toward modern country and rootsier rock (Gretchen Wilson, Montgomery Gentry, solo works by Gregg Allman) with some wild cards thrown in for good measure (R&B from Charlie Wilson of The Gap Band and Wyclef Jean, contemporary pop-rockers Augustana, a set from The Hooters that was delayed from the last batch). In a nice change of pace, a few multi-artist themed compilations are present, too – one for February’s Black History Month and one of modern reggae tunes.

All the scoop on these sets is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 23, 2012 at 13:33

Happy Birthday Johnny! Film Legend Celebrates Milestone with Pair of Compilations

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The music catalogue world is celebrating one of Hollywood’s truest living legends with two, count ’em, two, compilations next month.

Whether you’re a die-hard film score collector or a mere appreciator of good movie music, John Williams has made a mark on your consciousness. His list of credits spans decades, first as a Juilliard-trained pianist working under the greatest batons in Tinseltown (that’s him plunking the low notes in Henry Mancini’s iconic Peter Gunn theme), then a light, jazzy composer and arranger of some renown (this period saw his first Oscar nod, for 1967’s Valley of the Dolls). But it was his transformation in the 1970s to ultra-symphonic composer for disaster films (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure) and mega-blockbusters (JAWS, the Star WarsIndiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter film series, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Superman: The Movie and others) that made him a household name, the likes of which had not been seen in generations with the likes of Max Steiner, Alfred Newman and Erich Korngold.

Williams’ career has seen five Oscar wins and 45 nominations (tied with Newman for the second-most nominations in history), 20 Grammys, three works on the American Film Institute’s list of the 25 greatest film scores of all time (including list-topper Star Wars (1977)), a healthy tenure as the conductor of the world-famous Boston Pops Orchestra from 1980 to 1993 (Williams remains their conductor laureate and performs with them annually) and some of the most indelible themes for television ever written. (His “The Mission” is still the theme for NBC’s nightly newscast, and the network will use his many pieces for their Olympic coverage; he has written pieces for the 1984, 1988, 1996 and 2002 games.) And Williams has steadfastly refused to retire, even as he approaches his 80th birthday on February 8: last month, audiences heard the soundtrack to War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, directed by longtime collaborator Steven Spielberg, and he will pen the music for the director’s forthcoming Lincoln in addition to several new chamber works and a typically robust schedule of live conducting gigs across the country.

So how does one celebrate such a rich musical legacy in just a few CDs? Sony Classical and Decca have each taken up that task this year – and you can find out more after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 23, 2012 at 11:10

Ann-Margret, James’ “Thurber Carnival” Enliven Masterworks Broadway’s Upcoming Slate

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James Thurber (1894-1961) once commented, “”[Humor is] a kind of emotional chaos told about calmly and quietly in retrospect.”  The celebrated writer, cartoonist and humorist, perhaps best-known for 1939’s fanciful The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, recounted that kind of emotional chaos in his acclaimed short stories and drawings, a number of which have been successfully adapted to other media.  Four years before Walter Mitty itself was musicalized, Broadway welcomed Thurber’s works to the stage in an unusual revue entitled A Thurber Carnival.

Thanks to Masterworks Broadway, the original Columbia Records cast recording of A Thurber Carnival is finally ready to greet the digital generation.   A Thurber Carnival is one of the relatively few Broadway Cast Recordings on the Columbia label to have not yet seen a CD release.  The album, produced by the legendary Goddard Lieberson, now makes its debut as a digital download and disc-on-demand CD-R available from and  It will arrive on January 24.

The rarely-revived A Thurber Carnival opened at the ANTA Theatre in New York City (today the August Wilson Theatre, home to Jersey Boys) on February 26, 1960.  It was greeted effusively by the critics.  Brooks Atkinson in The New York Times called it “a glorious world of meaningful nonsense,” while the no-less-esteemed Walter Kerr opined in the Herald-Tribune, “A Thurber Carnival is sheer delight…The whole thing is dandy. And very advanced.”  The musical ran for 223 performances, with a break from June 25 to September 5. It closed on November 26, 1960.  Thurber himself appeared in 88 performances; less than a year after the production’s closing, he would die of complications from a blood clot in his brain.

Though the cast recording of A Thurber Carnival doesn’t feature Thurber himself (who penned the musical’s book, to a score by Don Elliot), it does star Tom Ewell (The Seven Year Itch, Adam’s Rib), Peggy Cass (Auntie Mame) and Alice Ghostley (TV’s beloved Esmeralda on Bewitched).  Charles Braswell (Mame) and John McGiver (Midnight Cowboy) also make appearances on the album.  The musical was directed by Burgess Meredith, the distinguished actor/director forever immortalized as The Penguin on the Batman television campfest.  The cast album preserves both music and sketches from the quirky revue, and musical accompaniment is provided by The Don Elliot Quartet: Elliott, Jack Six, Jim Raney, and Ronnie Bedford.  The original liner notes and cover art are included in Masterworks Broadway’s reissue.

There’s more coming from Masterworks on Tuesday, including a rare tribute to producer David Merrick from Ann-Margret and others!  Hit the jump, where you’ll also find pre-order links and track listings! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 23, 2012 at 09:02