The Second Disc

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Archive for February 9th, 2012

The Need for Back-Up: Rock Hall Finally Inducts Classic Backing Bands

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One of the many, many criticisms of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is their occasional neglect of certain bands in favor of other artists. From the first year of induction in 1987, when Smokey Robinson was inducted instead of all of The Miracles, it’s been a legitimate concern.

Today, the Hall attempted to alleviate some of that concern by announcing five such bands would be inducted alongside the five previously-announced members of this year’s class. The additional bands are:

  • The Blue Caps: Tommy Facenda, Cliff Gallup, Dickie Harrell, Bobby Jones, Johnny Meeks, Jack Neal, Paul Peek, Willie Williams (Gene Vincent)
  • The Comets: Fran Beecher, Danny Cedrone, Joey D’Ambrosio (a.k.a. Joey Ambrose), Johnny Grande, Ralph Jones, Marshall Lytle, Rudy Pompilli, Al Rex, Dick Richards, Billy Williamson (Bill Haley)
  • The Crickets: Jerry Allison, Sonny Curtis, Joe B. Mauldin, Niki Sullivan (Buddy Holly)
  • The Famous Flames: Bobby Bennett, Bobby Byrd, Lloyd Stallworth, Johnny Terry (James Brown)
  • The Midnighters: Henry Booth, Cal Green, Arthur Porter, Lawson Smith, Charles Sutton, Norman Thrasher, Sonny Woods (Hank Ballard)
  • The Miracles: Warren “Pete” Moore, Claudette Rogers Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marvin Tarplin, Ronald White (Smokey Robinson)

A deserved congratulations to the inductees and a “took you long enough” to the RRHOF. What other backing bands do you think should be inducted?

Written by Mike Duquette

February 9, 2012 at 14:44

Katy Perry Will Do Anything for Another #1 Single, Reissues “Teenage Dream”

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You’d think two Grammy nominations in 2012 and a tied record with one of pop music’s biggest luminaries would be enough for Katy Perry. But the recently-divorced pop singer is treating herself to one last dessert with the March 27 release of Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection, an expanded edition of her hit 2010 album.

Expectations were high for the 27-year-old Perry when Teenage Dream was released almost two summers ago. After a number of false starts in her musical career – an unsuccessful gospel album in 2001 and two aborted pop albums (one of which saw her as the lead vocalist of The Matrix, the pop production team responsible for hits by Avril Lavigne, Liz Phair, Jason Mraz and Shakira), Perry struck gold with 2008’s One of the Boys, which yielded three Top 10 hits including the coy chart-topper “I Kissed a Girl.”

Teenage Dream, produced by a boatload of pop luminaries including Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Stargate and Tricky Stewart, amped up the hooks and cheeky lyrical content to great effect. The album was a chart-topper and, astoundingly, five singles (“California Gurls,” the title track, “Firework,” “E.T.” and “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”) have all topped the Billboard charts, tying Michael Jackson’s record of five consecutive No. 1 singles from Bad in 1987 and 1988.

A sixth single, “The One That Got Away,” “stalled” at No. 3, doubtlessly prompting one last go at the top of the charts with one of three as-yet-unnamed tracks that will feature on the reissue of the album. (Billboard has confirmed, just to be on the safe side, that any tracks from the reissue will not count toward the original Dream.)

The Complete Confection will also feature a set of familiar remixes, including Kanye West’s take on “E.T.,” a version of “Last Friday Night” featuring a rap verse from Missy Elliott and an acoustic version of “The One That Got Away” produced by Jon Brion. The album will close with a megamix of singles from the album overseen by producer Tommie Sunshine.

Not that she’s really trying to beat Jackson at his own game, Perry said in a statement. “It was an incredible honor to tie the King of Pop’s Billboard Hot 100 record, but I’m moving forward and had a few things left to get off my chest,” Perry said. “So this is the complete special edition of my album for my fans.”

Keep it here for when the track list is finalized and order links are available.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 9, 2012 at 13:46

Posted in Katy Perry, News, Reissues

Review: Frank Sinatra, “The Concert Sinatra” (2012)

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There have been countless recordings of Frank Sinatra…but only one Concert Sinatra.  So named for its full concert orchestra (and not for a live performance), the 1963 album remains a career triumph.  It’s perhaps the pinnacle of Sinatra’s long association with conductor/arranger Nelson Riddle, a vivid display of the singer’s gifts as a dramatic actor, and the ultimate valentine to the American theatrical songbook.  Make no mistake, The Concert Sinatra is serious symphonic music, and it’s back in print via a remixed and remastered edition from Frank Sinatra Enterprises and Concord Records (CRE 33302).

The original Reprise Records album stands apart in so many ways from anything else in the Chairman’s considerable catalogue.  As multi-track master tape recorders were not yet available in 1963, Sinatra took the drastic and unusual step of recording the album on a Hollywood soundstage: Samuel Goldwyn’s Stage 7, onetime home to Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.  Multiple synchronized recorders captured the recording on 35mm magnetic film.  Though only eight tracks appeared on the LP, its sweep and majesty were overwhelming.  There’s hardly a hint of swing in these precisely-controlled recordings, one of the last completely standards-based efforts for Sinatra for many years, as he concentrated on (and succeeded in) the pop market beginning the following year.

The repertoire consisted solely of theatre music, and of the album’s eight songs, four were written by the legendary duo of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.  Two others were 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 sophisticated pens of German expatriate composer Kurt Weill (The Threepenny Opera) and American poet/playwright Maxwell Anderson.  Notably, Sinatra had recorded a number of these titles earlier in his career, dating back to the 1940s.  But he revisited them with the maturity of a man nearing 50 years of age, bringing the requisite mood to each charged song, whether exultation or resignation.  The Concert Sinatra is a big album with big emotions; the Weill/Anderson “Lost in the Stars” asks questions of the universe itself!  Much is made of the singer/songwriter’s liberation of the American songbook from the theme of love.  But the titans of the American theatre stood tall with wildly varied expressions of love, rendered by Sinatra, in songs like “My Heart Stood Still” and “Bewitched” (both Rodgers and Hart) and “I Have Dreamed” and “Soliloquy” (both Rodgers and Hammerstein).

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Written by Joe Marchese

February 9, 2012 at 12:45

Posted in Features, Frank Sinatra, News, Reissues, Reviews

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The Man in Black Meets the Man Upstairs: New Johnny Cash “Bootleg” Album Collects Gospel Material and Rarities

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Underneath the darkness of The Man in Black, there was a great light.   Despite trials that would likely have tested the faith of a lesser man, Johnny Cash’s belief in a higher power was unshakeable.  And Cash formidably expressed those beliefs in song over the course of his long career.  Like another American icon, Elvis Presley, Cash built up a body of gospel and spiritual music with such depth that it has easily stood the test of time alongside his more famous secular works.

Johnny Cash would have turned 80 on February 26, 2012, and in celebration of his singular life, Legacy Recordings has a number of archival projects on the docket, beginning with the continuation of a much-loved series curated by producer Gregg Geller.  Following 2011’s second and third volumes of Cash’s own Bootleg Series comes the April 3 release of Bootleg Vol. IV: The Soul of Truth.  Over two CDs and 51 tracks, Cash’s spiritual music is explored via traditional hymns, original songs, and well-selected compositions from songwriters he admired.  As a number of Cash’s earliest faith-based efforts for Columbia Records have been reissued (such as 1959’s seminal Hymns by Johnny Cash, previously expanded by Legacy), the new anthology instead concentrates on oft-overlooked works from the 1970s and 1980s.  Cash’s spiritual fervor in song didn’t wane as he got older, but rather got stronger; 2004’s My Mother’s Hymn Book was a highlight of his late, Rick Rubin-produced tenure at American Recordings.

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Written by Joe Marchese

February 9, 2012 at 08:54