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Archive for March 9th, 2012

Natural Woman: Hear Music Unveils Carole King’s “Legendary Demos” At Long Last

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Some years back, I was attending a performance of Carole King’s Living Room Tour at New York’s theatre-in-the round then known as the Westbury Music Fair, its cozy environs just perfect for King’s intimate show.  Midway through the set, a fan shouted to the stage, “Release your demos, Carole!”  King smiled knowingly.  “Talk to the publisher!” she replied.  It clearly wasn’t the first time she had heard the request; indeed, legendary isn’t too strong a word for the original vocal-and-piano tracks supplied by King and her frequent lyricist and then-husband Gerry Goffin to the likes of The Monkees, Bobby Vee, Aretha Franklin, The Everly Brothers and others.  Well, it’s taken a while, but a number of King’s demos are finally seeing official CD release as, yes, The Legendary Demos.  On April 24, Hear Music will release the collection of 13 demos from King’s extensive repertoire of 118 (!) hits placed on the Billboard Hot 100.

Most of the songs on The Legendary Demos were written within the confines of 1650 Broadway in the offices of Aldon Music.  These are the songs which established King as the Brill Building Queen, even though the actual Brill Building was down the street at 1619.  Regardless of address, the songwriters ensconced in these buildings’ cubicles defined the sound of American pop music throughout most of the 1960s.  The collection leads off with King’s demo of “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” a 1967 hit for The Monkees.  That fab foursome also recorded “So Goes Love,” one of the lesser-known tracks on the new anthology, which was also covered by The Turtles!  King’s 1961 “Take Good Care of My Baby,” a number one hit as recorded by Bobby Vee, is included in its original demo form.   Gene Pitney is most associated with Goffin and King’s “Yours Until Tomorrow,” although that smoldering ballad was also recorded by artists as diverse as Dee Dee Warwick, Engelbert Humperdinck, Johnny Maestro and Cher!

The very next year, King moonlighted from Gerry Goffin when she teamed with Neil Sedaka’s usual lyric partner, Howard Greenfield, to deliver “Crying in the Rain” to the Everly Brothers.  Don and Phil were duly rewarded with a No. 6 pop hit.  Goffin and King supplied “Just Once in My Life” to another group of Brothers, although unlike the Everlys, the Righteous Brothers weren’t related!  The Top 10 hit followed “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” which was actually written by Goffin and King’s close friends and closest “competitors” in the Brill Building hierarchy, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil!

Hit the jump for much more on The Legendary Demos, including the full track listing, a pre-order link and a song preview! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 9, 2012 at 15:18

About “Last Night”: Expanded Trans-Siberian Orchestra Album to Be Released on Tour

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Christmas isn’t anywhere near our minds at Second Disc HQ, but a band typically associated with the season has a reissue coming out next week.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the successful symphonic rock band whose guitar-heavy versions of traditional carols are radio staples at Christmas, have released two non-holiday albums in their almost 20-year history: 2000’s Beethoven’s Last Night and 2009’s Night Castle. Now, with the group playing Beethoven’s Last Night in its entirety on a tour that continues through May 13, they are issuing an expanded edition of Beethoven’s Last Night which includes the between-song narrations as heard in live performances.

Beethoven’s Last Night is the fantastical tale of the influential German composer who, on the night of his death, challenges Mephistopheles for control of his soul. Predictably, the program features rock arrangements of both Beethoven’s classic pieces (including Für Elise, the Moonlight and Pathetique sonatas and the immortal Symphony No. 9) as well as treatments of works by Mozart and Chopin.

The double-disc set, which features new artwork, is sold at TSO shows but will be available exclusively at Wal-Mart stores in America on Tuesday, March 13. A digital edition will be available April 17.

Hit the jump to check out the track breakdown.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 9, 2012 at 14:29

Wear Your Love Like Heaven: New “Essential Donovan” Arriving From Legacy

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I’m just mad about Donovan, and while I don’t know whether Donovan’s mad about me, you just might be mad about The Essential Donovan!  Though a single-disc compilation of that name arrived from Epic Records and Legacy Recordings in 2004, the 2012 edition does it one (or a few, actually) better.  Slated for April 17, the new Essential Donovan coincides with Donovan Leitch’s long-overdue induction next month into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  It features 36 songs on two discs, including every one of the 18 songs Donovan brought to the Billboard Hot 100 and U.K. national chart between 1965 and 1973.  In addition to those 18 core hits, 14 deep album cuts have been selected as well as four rare tracks making their very first domestic appearance on CD.  More than half of the tracks on Disc One are heard in their original mono mixes, including all of Donovan’s acoustic-based tracks recorded for the U.K.’s Pye label (and released in the U.S. on the Hickory imprint) in late 1964 and 1965, as well as a number of Epic sides from 1966.

Donovan Philips Leitch didn’t have an easy time shaking off the early accusation that he was merely a Scottish-born clone of Bob Dylan. Indeed, the opening track on The Essential Donovan, the 1965 hit “Catch the Wind,” wouldn’t dissuade one from that opinion.  Dylan himself took potshots at the singer in the documentary Don’t Look Back, snidely remarking, “Donovan who?” on camera and promptly upstaging him during a hotel visit.  Donovan himself didn’t deny the debt owed to Dylan, and in 2001, confessed, “I sounded like him for five minutes.”  Those five minutes were certainly up by 1966 when the Scottish troubadour released “Sunshine Superman,” one of the first truly psychedelic pop singles and certainly the first to reach No. 1 on the American charts.

Hit the jump and it’s 1966 all over again!  You’ll also find a complete track listing with discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 9, 2012 at 09:46