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Archive for February 24th, 2012

Weekend Wround-Up – The Diva Edition: Midler, Streisand Releases Coming Soon

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Welcome to today’s Weekend Wround-Up: The Diva Edition!

Nobody – no, nobody! – is going to rain on Barbra Streisand’s parade.  Columbia Records, the singer’s home since 1963, has announced that Streisand will remain with the label that guided her to stardom.  Speculation had arisen some months back that the singer might decamp for a new artistic residence,  but those rumors have now officially been set to rest.  “From the day [legendary Columbia President] Goddard Lieberson signed me almost 50 years ago, Columbia Records has been my recording home,” said Streisand in a statement, “and I am thrilled to continue that partnership for many years to come.”  Steve Barnett, Chairman and COO of Columbia Records, confirmed the news: “There are stars and there are superstars, and there’s Barbra Streisand…Columbia Records is proud to play a vital role in her extraordinary career. We’re looking forward to the next chapter in our long and fruitful relationship.”  Indeed, Tony Bennett is the rare artist with a longer tenure at Columbia, and unlike Streisand, he took a sabbatical from the label’s ranks in the 1970s.

After the release of 2009′s Diana Krall-produced Love is the Answer, Streisand became the only artist ever to have No. 1 records in five consecutive decades in America. Her 2011 tribute to the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, What Matters Most, didn’t make a sixth decade at No. 1 (though she still has time!) but opened at a still-impressive No. 4 on the Billboard chart.  As her 31st album to make the Top 10, Streisand moved into third place in that overall category of achievement, passing The Beatles!  (Frank Sinatra and The Rolling Stones are still in the lead.)  And Streisand’s other chart stats are no less remarkable.  She’s in a three-way tie at sixth place for the most charting No. 1 singles by a female performer, and is second only to Reba McEntire for worldwide No. 1 albums with thirteen.

So how is Columbia celebrating Streisand’s near 50-year tenure?  A 12-DVD box set has been promised which, according to Billboard, will feature “unprecedented access into Streisand’s professional and personal life.  The DVD set will consist of never-before-seen footage directly from Barbra’s archives.”  Rest assured, The Second Disc will report on that exciting project once official details have arrived.  But in the meantime, what Barbra Streisand albums would you like to see reissue, and in what form?  Sound off below!  I’ll start the ball rolling with a suggestion of a mono/stereo edition of 1963’s The Barbra Streisand Album, the album which started it all for the girl from Brooklyn with the big voice.  I’ll add the original recording of “When the Sun Comes Out,” the B-side of its single “Happy Days Are Here Again,” as one possible bonus track!

Which Bette Midler album has Friday Music selected for reissue this April?  Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 24, 2012 at 13:09

Review: Tony Bennett, “Isn’t It Romantic?”

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Isn’t it romantic?

The titular phrase from a song by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart could apply to much of Tony Bennett’s musical career, now in roughly its 65th year.  It’s also the title of a new compilation aimed at the casual Bennett fan from Concord Music Group.  Isn’t It Romantic? (CRE-33463-02) repackages 15 prime cuts from the singer’s work at his own short-lived Improv label, with a smattering of tracks from a Fantasy Records LP thrown in for good measure.  Though Bennett’s artistic accomplishments at Improv were numerous, its output was small; the label only released ten or so albums.  Indeed, every track on this new set was released in a less-than-two-year period between 1975 and 1977.  Following the demise of Improv, Bennett took a break from recording, recharged his batteries, and emerged in 1986 back at his old home Columbia Records.  Revitalized with the aptly-named album The Art of Excellence, Bennett hasn’t stopped striving for excellence since.

The small body of work made by Bennett at Improv has been mined numerous times by Concord in the past, most notably on 2004’s The Complete Improv Recordings, a box set (Concord CCD4-2255) chockablock with alternate takes and unreleased material, all of which proved manna for collectors.  More casual fans could content themselves with releases like last year’s The Best of the Improv Recordings (CRE-32955).  As for Isn’t It Romantic? , it follows Tony Bennett Sings for Lovers (Concord CCD-6023, 2009) as another set of amorous tunes from this short if fertile period.  Hit the jump to explore this latest collection! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 24, 2012 at 09:34

Posted in Features, News, Reissues, Reviews, Tony Bennett

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