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Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for February 2012

Short Takes: New Cash, Pistols Sets Coming in 2012

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  • Yesterday, February 26, would have been the 80th birthday of Johnny Cash, and his family tells Rolling Stone that there are quite a few festivities planned – and that includes some catalogue activity. We already know about Legacy’s Bootleg IV: The Soul of Truth in April, which collects rare and unreleased gospel material from the ’70s and ’80s. But the RS story also hints at a possible seventh volume of Cash’s American Recordings series as well as a possible PopMarket-style box of “everything Cash released on Sun and Columbia Records in the first three decades of his recording career, along with unreleased music.”
  • It looks like one of the biggest shoo-in anniversary reissues of the year is one step closer to reality: NME reports that The Sex Pistols have signed to Universal Music Catalogue in the U.K. ahead of a forthcoming 35th anniversary expansion of iconic LP Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols. The album was originally released by Virgin in 1977.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 27, 2012 at 16:17

Review: Carole King, “The Carole King Collection: Simple Things, Welcome Home, Touch the Sky, and Pearls”

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Carole King was ready for a fresh start in 1977.  She had recently split from manager/producer Lou Adler’s Ode Records, the label with which she had signed back in 1968 as the lead singer of The City.  It was, of course, at Ode where King triumphed with Tapestry, and over the years introduced a parade of memorable songs like “It’s Too Late,” “So Far Away,” You’ve Got a Friend,” “Sweet Seasons,” “Been to Canaan” and “Jazzman.”  Yet the four albums recorded by King at Capitol between 1977 and 1980 have been overlooked since their original releases; all but one had never been domestically released on compact disc.  Through her own Rockingale Records label and Concord Music Group, King has now reissued Simple Things (RKG 33601-02), Welcome Home (RKG-33597-02), Touch the Sky (RKG-33599-02) and Pearls: Songs of Goffin and King (RKG-33603-02) as The Carole King Collection.  This quartet fills in a major gap in King’s catalogue, and there’s plenty to rediscover!

King’s band Navarro took the place of her Ode-era stalwarts like Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar and second husband Charles Larkey.  But despite the fine musicianship of Navarro (guitarists Rob McEntee and Mark Hallman, bassist Rob Galloway, drummer Michael Wooten, percussionist Miguel Rivera and flutist/saxophonist Richard Hardy), the sound of Simple Things doesn’t stray too far from King’s stylistic signature.  The title track “Simple Things,” co-written with King’s third husband, Rick Evers, features that same warm acoustic sound, augmented with a subtle string arrangement.  King embraced a “back to nature” outlook both in life and in song, relocating with Evers to his home state of Idaho: “Simple things mean a lot to me/Some things only children can see/Simple things, like horses running free/And easy acceptance of life.”  In making this life change, King had discovered an answer to friend and collaborator James Taylor’s “Secret o’ Life.”  She even concludes in song, “The secret of living is life.”  The album begins with “Simple Things” and ends with a reprise of the same sentiments in “One”: “He is one, she is one/A tree is one, the earth is one, the universe is one/I am one, we are one.”

Evers was King’s only co-writer for the LP, with three songs to his credit; the remaining seven compositions were all from King’s pen alone.  He also contributed guitar to a couple of songs, with King herself stepping from behind the piano to play guitar on “Hold On.”  She’s in fantastic voice throughout the album, contributing strong vocals and harmonies to ballads like the beautiful, piano-driven “In the Name of Love” and “Time Alone.”  Richard Hardy fills in for Tom Scott for the jazzy saxophone on “Labyrinth,” and the beguiling Latin rhythms of Ode hit “Corazon” get a new spin on one of the most memorable tracks off Simple Things, “Hard Rock Café” – no relation to the chain of restaurants founded in 1971!  Elsewhere, King and Navarro credibly rock on “You’re the One Who Knows” and “God Only Knows,” although the latter pales in comparison to another, rather better-known song of the same name.  It’s hard not to read into the lyrics of “To Know That I Love You,” on which King sounds blissful in love: “Over and over again, we light the flame/Rediscovering that we are the same/And I love you.”  Evers joins her for a duet on this touching paean to a deeply felt romance.  Simple Things may be the great lost album of King’s long career, with the title song, “Hard Rock Café” and “In the Name of Love” all able to stand alongside her most sterling accomplishments.

We continue after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 27, 2012 at 13:05

Posted in Carole King, Features, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Eat It: Humble Pie Reissues Coming Soon From Lemon

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There’s plenty of buzz over here about Universal U.K.’s upcoming Small Faces remasters, but another project of Small Faces frontman Steve Marriott is also getting some reissue love.  Marriott left the Small Faces in late 1968 to join Peter Frampton, Greg Ridley and Jerry Shirley in Humble Pie, free of the pop expectations of his former band.  Signed to Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label, also home to the Small Faces, Humble Pie launched its career with 1969’s As Safe as Yesterday Is.  For its series of three remastered original albums, Cherry Red’s Lemon Recordings imprint is looking forward, though, to the band’s time at Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss’ A&M Records between 1970 and 1975.  On March 27, Lemon will reissue Humble Pie (1970), Eat It (1973) and Thunderbox (1974) in remastered editions with new liner notes drawing on interviews with the band members.  The series does not include the two studio albums that arrived between Humble Pie and Eat It, namely Rock On (1971) and Smokin’ (1972).

Humble Pie’s first single,” Natural Born Woman” (or “Natural Born Boogie,” augured for great things to come.  A U.K. Top 10 hit right out of the gate, it was inevitable that the single would lead to a full album by the recently-formed unit.  As Safe as Yesterday emphasized the band’s blues-rock sound, though not without touches of folk and pop.  Rolling Stone’s Mike Saunders is considered by some to have coined an entire sub-genre of rock when he described the album as “Here, Humble Pie were a noisy, unmelodic, heavy metal-leaden shit-rock band, with the loud and noisy parts beyond doubt.”  (Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” and its “heavy metal thunder” lyric, however, is likely the phrase’s first usage in a rock context.)   The band’s second album, Town and Country, was a somewhat quieter affair, even featuring a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat.”

Hit the jump for details on Lemon’s new editions! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 27, 2012 at 10:11

Posted in Humble Pie, News, Reissues

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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Talk Talk to Be Reissued on CD and Vinyl

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If you’ve found yourself wanting to hip yourself to British rockers Talk Talk, EMI is giving you a chance to do so this spring, when they will release straight reissues of most of the band’s output.

Known primarily as a trio consisting of singer Mark Hollis, bassist Paul Webb and drummer Lee Harris (though featuring keyboardist Simon Brenner from 1981 to 1983 and unofficial fourth member/keyboardist/producer/songwriter Tim Friese-Greene afterward), Talk Talk started as a band in the New Romantic vein, opening for Duran Duran and working with their first producer, Colin Thurston. During the mid-’80s, with an increasingly experimental batch of songs, the group actually had a solid brush with success in Europe and even the U.S., thanks primarily to the catchy single “It’s My Life,” the band’s only Top 40 hit in America and highest-charting single in England. (Younger fans might know it through a cover version recorded by No Doubt in 2003, which peaked within Billboard‘s Top 10.)

The group’s last two albums for Parlophone/EMI, 1986’s The Colour of Spring and 1988’s Spirit of Eden, were successful steps away from synthpop and toward more artier, straightforward rock and beyond. But a protracted legal battle to get out of their contract and a shift in personnel ultimately exhausted the group. Hollis and Friese-Greene recorded Laughing Stock for Polydor in 1991 under the Talk Talk name, and the group disbanded afterward. (Hollis would release a solo album in 1998 before retiring from the business altogether.)

On April 10, the band’s four EMI-controlled albums – 1982’s The Party’s Over, 1984’s It’s My Life and The Colour of Spring and The Spirit of Eden – are being reissued. There are no bonus tracks, and the discs will be struck from the same digital mastering of the catalogue as released in 1997. For vinyl lovers, there is a bit of excitement, though: Spring and Eden are getting reissued on double-vinyl as well (only the latter looks to be available on Amazon U.K. as of this writing). And, for what it’s worth, EMI is giving away a bundle of these as well.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 23, 2012 at 11:55

Posted in News, Reissues, Vinyl

From Motown to the Bay Area! The Apollas’ “Absolutely Right!” and Eddie Holland’s “It Moves Me: The Complete Recordings 1958-1964” Available Now

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Are you thinking you should take a chance on Ace Records’ supremely soulful duo of releases from The Apollas and Eddie Holland?  If so…you’re absolutely right!  For The Apollas’ Absolutely Right: The Complete Tiger, Loma and Warner Bros. Recordings (Kent CDKEND 365, 2012) and Holland’s It Moves Me: The Complete Recordings 1958-1964 (Ace CDTOP2 1331, 2012) both belong on the shelf of any serious fan of classic soul and R&B.

If you haven’t heard of The Apollas, you’re forgiven.  This Bay Area girl trio didn’t see much chart action, but the 25 mid-sixties tracks compiled here by Alec Palao (including five unreleased titles) prove that their output was first class.  Top tier talents like Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Artie Butler, Barry White, Jimmy Wisner, Billy Vera, Dick Glasser and H.B. Barnum were behind these recordings.  With a pedigree like that, it’s hard to believe that these sides have languished for so long.  The music on Absolutely Right! sounds better than ever, and should raise more than a few eyebrows.

Like so many African-American artists of the era, and indeed, still today, the members of The Apollas began their vocal careers in church.  The Apollas then honed their sound working nightclub engagements and teen nights at Disneyland, and even added a soulful touch to the recordings of their early patron, Frankie “Jezebel” Laine!  The gospel background of lead singer Leola Jiles always shines through, adding an extra layer of passion to unlikely material like Don Everly’s “Who Would Want Me Now.”  Just as delicious is the Ellie Greenwich/Jeff Barry composition “He Ain’t No Angel” and the smoldering “You’ll Always Have Me” from the pen of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.  Nearly one-third of the collection’s cuts were written by that famed duo, sometimes with their frequent collaborator Josephine Armstead.  The songs of the trio were previously celebrated by Ace with The Real Thing: The Songs of Ashford, Simpson and Armstead (CDKEND 318) on which The Apollas’ “Mr. Creator” (“Won’t you hear my prayer?”) appears.  Every color of the Ashford and Simpson palette is employed, from the storming “You’re Absolutely Right” to the eminently danceable “I Just Can’t Get Enough of You.”  Hit the jump for more on The Apollas, plus Eddie Holland, too! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 23, 2012 at 09:39

Hooked

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As the above image shows, it’s finally true: La-La Land Records is releasing an expanded edition of John Williams’ stirring score to Steven Spielberg’s 1991 adventure film Hook, a modern updating of the Peter Pan mythology, on March 27. In my excitement last night, I sent an e-mail to the LLL staff thanking them for putting this release together; Joe rather brilliantly suggested that the letter would find a good audience among our dear readers, who no doubt know the feeling of excitement when beloved music is released from the vaults. We’ll be posting full details of the set as they arrive, but today we share the simple joy of knowing that soon enough, Hook will be heard like never before.

To MV and the LLL staff,

Without question, I imagine you’re getting a lot of e-mails and messages in praise for releasing the expanded edition of John Williams’ beloved score to Hook. Let me add my words to that growing pile.
Hook was the second film I saw in a movie theater. (I realize how old that may make some of you feel, and genuinely apologize.) I was taken by the visuals to a degree, but what really amped my four-year-old brain was the beautiful music that accompanied Peter Banning’s adventures. When I was old enough to read, and realized that the Hook score was penned by the man that also wrote the music to my favorite film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, I was enthralled.
Thus began a journey into film score enthusiasm that influenced a genuine love for catalogue titles in the music business. The work that La-La Land and other labels do in rescuing and presenting beloved soundtracks to a devoted audience deserves to be shouted from the highest mountain. It was in that mindset that I started The Second Disc, a website covering reissues, box sets and other catalogue music ephemera in 2010. Last year, amid a year of great gains for the site and its staff of co-writer Joe Marchese and myself, MV was kind enough to take time out of a whirlwind schedule to answer some interview questions we’d prepared. What has always been a personal thrill – the immersion into soundtracks that play our emotions perfectly – got a little more thrilling, thanks to your kindness in showing our readers what it is you do.
With a new year, a never-ending slate of reissue news to report and a continuously-increasing readership, I speak for Joe and myself in saying it is a blessing to take a small piece of the dream by informing our readers what you and dozens of other great labels are doing to preserve and honor some of the most exalted music in pop cultural history. I will be one of thousands strong buying Hook next month and I cannot wait to excite my readers with this news.
It’s cliched, but you guys have proven it with your loving treatment of great music: to live – and to listen to this work – will be an awfully big adventure.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 23, 2012 at 09:22

Groovy Kind of Reissue: Bear Family Expands Early Mindbenders Album

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By the time Eric, Rick, Wayne, Bob was released by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders in 1965, the band was essentially a defunct unit.  Wayne Fontana (the former Glyn Geoffrey Ellis) had dreamed of solo stardom from the start, and he wasn’t shy about those aspirations.  Eric Stewart, later of Hotlegs and 10cc, recalled in 1994 that Fontana “just walked off stage [during an October 1965 show] one night.  I remember he said, ‘It’s all yours.’  And we actually carried on and did the regular show without him…He had been hinting that he wanted to go out on his own for some time.”  Stewart, Ric Rothwell and Bob Lang soldiered on without Fontana, both that night and as an ongoing recording concern.  They even eclipsed their early successes like “The Game of Love” with a Carole Bayer (pre-Sager)/Toni Wine composition by the name of “A Groovy Kind of Love.”  But Bear Family is now taking listeners back to those waning days of 1965 for an expanded reissue of the band’s second and final album with Fontana, Eric, Rick, Wayne, Bob.  Scheduled for release on March 12, the deluxe edition adds nine bonus tracks to the original album including rare single B-sides and the rare Walking on Air EP.

A product of the lively Manchester music scene, Fontana and the Mindbenders scored a minor British Top 50 hit with their very first single in 1963 (a cover of Fats Domino’s “My Girl Josephine,” retitled “Hello, Josephine”) but didn’t break stateside until 1965 with a cover of Clint Ballard’s “The Game of Love.”  The catchy ditty went all the way to the top in the U.S. and back home in England climbed to No. 2.  The band’s initial album had arrived in Britain in December 1964, with the U.S. edition on the Fontana label arriving just three months later with a typically altered line-up for American buyers. 

What’s on Bear Family’s expanded reissue?  Hit the jump for more on the story of Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 22, 2012 at 13:05

Double-O Vision: Burt Bacharach’s “Casino Royale” Expanded and Remastered…Again!

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Seven James Bonds at Casino Royale/They came to save the world and win the gal at Casino RoyaleSix of them went to a heavenly spot, the seventh one is going to a place where it’s terribly hot…

Hal David’s lyric captures just a small fraction of the insanity of Charles K. Feldman’s 1967 Casino Royale, the big-budget comic extravaganza that was “too much…for one James Bond!”  And so, David Niven as James Bond was joined by 007s of all shapes and sizes (and genders!), and even by his nephew, Jimmy Bond, portrayed by Woody Allen.  But the iconoclastic score by Burt Bacharach was too much for one soundtrack album, too.  We’ve told the entire (sordid?) tale of the film here, so if you’re not caught up with this Bacharach bacchanal, do click, and join us later.  Back?  Good.  Following two CD reissues on the Varese Sarabande label, a DVD-A from Classic Records and a 2010 edition from Kritzerland that many listeners (including this writer) considered the last word on Casino Royale, Spain’s Quartet Records has thrown its hat into the ring.  Quartet has just announced a 45th Anniversary edition of Bacharach’s seminal score, and it’s a doozy, a slipcased 2-CD set with two booklets, one of which is 64 pages in length.  Yes, Casino Royale is back yet again!  This follows Quartet’s remastered edition of Bacharach’s score to What’s New Pussycat?, the earlier Feldman-produced film also starring Peter Sellers and Woody Allen.

Quartet’s ambitious set not only commemorates the 45th anniversary of this monument to Hollywood excess but also the 50th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s James Bond franchise.  Though the film is hardly canon for the long-running series, its greatest asset is a score that can stand alongside the best of the official Bond scores composed by the legendary John Barry.  Dusty Springfield sang the Academy Award-nominated “The Look of Love” over a scene in which Peter Sellers and Ursula Andress are cavorting, as viewed through a giant fish tank; Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass contribute the instrumental title theme.

Kritzerland’s sold-out expanded edition of Casino Royale (Kritzerland KR 20017-6) offered the score in two presentations.  On the first half of the CD, Bacharach’s music was presented in film order, with material not on the original Colgems album including the climactic song performed by Mike Redway, “Have No Fear, Bond is Here.”  The original album master and the film’s DVD were both utilized for this presentation.   The second half of the disc was the original LP sequence, mastered from a mint vinyl copy, with no added EQ or processing; as good as that sounds (its best yet!), the new, complete presentation made this the definitive treatment of a classic score to date.  What is Quartet bringing to the table?  Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 22, 2012 at 09:47