The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for January 27th, 2012

Thank You M.C. 1969: Michael Chapman’s Folk-Rock Classic “Rainmaker” Arrives From Light in the Attic

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When the distinct green Harvest Records logo is remembered today, it’s often for Pink Floyd or early Electric Light Orchestra.  But the label, created to stake a claim in the burgeoning rock market, boasted a deep, diverse roster, all the better to compete with other “alternative” labels like Decca’s Deram or Philips’ Vertigo.  One of the artists who found early success on Harvest was Michael Chapman, a former art and photography instructor.  Chapman’s greatest achievement was arguably 1970’s Fully Qualified Survivor, on which the troubadour was backed by Mick Ronson on guitars and Elton John’s arranger du jour, Paul Buckmaster, supplying the string orchestrations.  But Chapman was so fully qualified because Survivor was actually the third in a rich series of albums that both defined and transcended the British folk-rock ethos of the period.

Light in the Attic delivered Fully Qualified Survivor last year, and has now turned its attention to remastering and expanding Rainmaker, Chapman’s 1969 debut for Harvest.  (1971’s Window would fall in between those albums.)  Like that more famous sibling, Rainmaker blends psychedelic, folk and rock influences into a potent brew that’s uniquely Chapman and again features a stellar line-up of supporting artists.  The album was overseen by another Elton John collaborator, Gus Dudgeon, the producer behind John’s remarkable series of seventies classics as well as David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” single.  Dudgeon would go on to produce Survivor for Chapman.  The singer, songwriter and guitarist was joined by drummer Aynsley Dunbar, perhaps best known for his association with Frank Zappa, and a host of other musicians including Clem Clempson (Humble Pie), Alex Dmochowski (Retaliation), Norman Haines (Locomotive), Danny Thompson (Pentangle) and Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span).

Hit the jump for more on Rainmaker, including the full track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 27, 2012 at 13:44

Chicago Reissues Return From Friday Music, “Hot Streets” Kicks Off Campaign

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On 1971’s Chicago III, one of the band’s passionate anthems went, “I just want to be free…”  But it took until 1978 for the band to be truly free, and that year’s Hot Streets was an album of firsts.  The freedom largely came as a result of the group having severed its ties with longtime producer/manager James William Guercio; hence, Hot Streets was Chicago’s first album in many years not recorded at Guercio’s famed Caribou Ranch.  It was also the first to lack a number in its title and first to feature a band portrait on the cover.  Tragically, however, it was the first album without founding guitarist Terry Kath, who died earlier in the year of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Hot Streets (the band’s twelfth album, for those of you keeping count, and also a No. 12 LP on the Hot 100) brought producer Phil Ramone and guitarist Donnie Dacus into the Chicago fold; both only lasted for a couple of albums but made strong impressions.  Rhino Records reissued Hot Streets in 2003 as part of its Chicago “expanded and remastered” program; that series ended abruptly in the U.S. after Chicago 17, although Rhino’s Japanese arm continued with 18, 19 and 21.  (The American remasters of 16 and 17 erroneously included alternate versions of some original album tracks, and these were corrected on the 2010 Japanese pressings of those two titles.)

Now, Friday Music has announced its own Chicago reissue campaign by arrangement with Rhino, and that series is kicking off with the return of (the now out-of-print) Hot Streets.  According to the label’s Facebook page, it’s due in stores on March 27.  Hit the jump for more details, including the track listing and discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 27, 2012 at 09:56

Posted in Chicago, News, Reissues

Keep Feeling Fascination: Human League’s “Dare” Gets Expanded

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“You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you…” As patently false as the subject matter behind The Human League’s hypnotic “Don’t You Want Me” is, it was a massive, out-of-nowhere smash for a band that came out of a troubling state of flux with a renewed energy unlike few others. The fruits of that period, the 1981 album Dare, is coming back into U.K. stores this spring as a deluxe title with a host of non-LP goodies over two discs.

The Human League started out as an avant-garde all-male group anchored around Martyn Ware, Craig Marsh, Philip Adrian Wright and Phil Oakey. Their first single, 1978’s “Being Boiled” was a surprise Top 10 U.K. hit, but subsequent works did not find the same audience. Amid weakening support from the band’s label Virgin Records and clashes over the band’s sonic direction, the band broke apart, with Ware and Marsh forming Heaven 17 and Oakey and Wright left to do something – anything – for the League’s winter 1980 tour of Europe.

Against all odds, the duo recruited synth player Ian Burden to flesh out the group’s live sound and found Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall, a pair of untrained best friends spending a night out at the Crazy Daisy Nightclub in Sheffield, to provide vocals for the group. (Sulley and Catherall, both teenagers, needed parental permission to embark on the tour.) Despite the skepticism of initial reviews, things worked out well enough for the quintet to continue as a band in the studio; first single “Boys and Girls” was a moderate success; upon moving to a new studio (away from recording sessions by Heaven 17) and adding guitarist Jo Callis of The Rezillos to the lineup, the first single from those sessions, “Love Action (I Believe in Love)” was a Top 10 hit.

But The Human League really went into the stratosphere with a track that Oakey initially hated. The fictional tale of a musical Svengali whose protegée decides to move on from him professionally and romantically was so disliked by Oakey, he dumped it onto the end of the Dare LP. But “Don’t You Want Me” was the band’s first and only chart-topper for Christmas of 1981 and became a major hit across the globe.

The deluxe edition of Dare features the 2002 remaster of the original album and various, newly-remastered 12″ remixes and instrumentals on the first disc. The bonus disc, meanwhile, collects nearly all of the material on stopgap album Fascination!, which featured a handful of just as successful non-LP singles in “Mirror Man” and “(Keep Feeling) Fascination.”

Don’t you want this, baby? If so, March 26 is the day to get it. Hit the jump to check a pre-order link and track annotations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

January 27, 2012 at 07:57