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Archive for March 27th, 2012

An Awfully Big Adventure: La-La Land Releases “Hook,” “The Robe”

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It’s a doubly monumental day for soundtrack collectors, with two hotly-anticipated expansions of monumentally popular soundtracks unleashed today by La-La Land Records.

The first almost doesn’t need an introduction – so excited have we been at Second Disc HQ, long before and after its advance announcement – but John Williams’ score to Steven Spielberg’s Hook is the first bounty of the day. Spielberg’s fantastical sequel to James M. Barrie’s immortal Peter Pan – where the onetime boy who wouldn’t grow up has become a corporate raider (Robin Williams) who must remember his heritage when his neglected son and daughter are captured by a vengeful Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman).

Though neither the usual critical nor commercial megahit Spielberg is typically associated with, Hook is arguably one of the best and most underrated gems in the director’s long collaboration with his favorite composer. Williams was firing on every cylinder for this assignment, penning over two hours of deeply thematic, almost operatic music for the film. Several songs were written with legendary lyricist Leslie Bricusse, Williams’ partner on the Oscar-nominated “Somewhere in My Memory” for Home Alone a year earlier. As the set’s liner notes by Daniel Schweiger finally, definitively reveal, many of these themes (including the Oscar-nominated song “When You’re Alone”) were penned for a wildly different version of the film that would have seen the story told as a full-blown, Broadway-esque musical.

While none of the fabled musical demos appear on the new double-disc set, what is present is over an hour of unreleased music, including alternate and unused cues. And that’s on top of the 75 minutes that was included on the original Epic Records CD – all lovingly produced by Legacy Recordings’ Didier C. Deutsch and Mark G. Wilder and personally supervised and approved by The Maestro himself.

Could it get as exciting after that one? Happily, the answer is yes! Hit the jump to learn about the return of The Robe!

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 27, 2012 at 16:11

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Review: Frankie Avalon, “Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions”

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By the time of 1964’s Muscle Beach Party, Philadelphia-born Frankie Avalon had already racked up some 31 hits on the U.S. Billboard charts, including two at Number One, “Why” and “Venus.”  On the urging of his Chancellor Records mentor Bob Marcucci, Avalon had welcomed the 1960s by diversifying his talents into film, appearing opposite John Wayne in The Alamo and Walter Pidgeon in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  1963’s Beach Party, however, was something else altogether.  Directed by William Asher, later the creative force behind television’s Bewitched, the low-budget American-International picture spawned a virtual cottage industry.  Audiences flocked to see well-scrubbed Frankie and all-American Annette Funicello frolicking on the sun-kissed beaches of Southern California.  The teenage twosome would star in seven beach party movies together in less than three years, plus beach party movies of their own (in which the other half of the duo would cameo!)  Yes, Frankie Avalon had found a way to extend his teen idol years straight through the British Invasion, which brings us to Real Gone Music’s first-ever CD reissue of Avalon’s 1964 album for United Artists, Muscle Beach Party and Other Movie Songs, handily repackaged and expanded as Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions (RGM-0035, 2012).  This 20-track time capsule includes Avalon’s complete recordings for the UA label.

The musical history of the beach party films is far more complicated than any of the movies’ plots!  Due to Avalon and Funicello recording for different labels, both artists recorded their own renditions of the movie’s songs, and true soundtracks weren’t issued for most of the films.  (When La-La Land Records issued a soundtrack to Beach Blanket Bingo in 2010, it spotlighted Les Baxter’s score and the music-only tracks for the songs.  Frankie and Annette’s actual film vocals still couldn’t be released!)  “Competing” with Annette’s Buena Vista Records Muscle Beach Party was Avalon’s own United Artists LP.  The first side was dedicated to four of the Muscle Beach tunes and two reprises from the series’ first film Beach Party, while the second featured adult standards in supper-club arrangements.  Real Gone’s reissue proves that the first side, however, has aged better than the latter, and this is in no small part due to the contributions of one musical iconoclast by the name of Brian Wilson.

Roger Christian (“Don’t Worry Baby”) and Gary Usher (“In My Room”) co-wrote the score to 1963’s Beach Party and enlisted their pal, the erstwhile Beach Boys leader, to join them for the Muscle Beach Party song score.  Wilson, Usher and Christian wrote six songs for the film, three of which are heard here as performed by Avalon: the title song, “Surfer’s Holiday” and “Runnin’ Wild.”  (Dick Dale actually sang “Muscle Beach Party” in the movie, and Dale also performed “Surfin’ Woodie” and “My First Love.”  He joined Donna Loren for the onscreen “Muscle Bustle.”)

Wilson’s compositional stamp is evident.  “Surfer’s Holiday” is a bit reminiscent of “Sidewalk Surfin’” (coincidentally recorded by Funicello) which shares its melody with The Beach Boys’ “Catch a Wave.”  The rapid-fire “Running Wild” also recalls Wilson’s infectious, early Beach Boys work with the de facto guitar break.  “A Boy Needs a Girl” wasn’t written by the Wilson/Christian/Usher triumvirate but rather by Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner, but it fits in well and even recalls Wilson in his dreamy romantic mode (think “The Surfer Moon”).  After this enjoyable compendium of Beach Party tunes, Avalon turns to a brace of film-related songs aimed at adult listeners.

Join Frankie after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 27, 2012 at 13:16

Sweet As Sugar: Bob Mould’s Other Trio Gets Expanded Treatment

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While Bob Mould has gained rock immortality as one third of the criminally underrated alt-rock outfit Hüsker Dü, his work as frontman for alt-rockers Sugar in the 1990s deserves its own recognition. In May and June, the hard workers at Demon/Edsel will give Sugar its due in the form of expanded, remastered editions of their entire catalogue.

After the split of Hüsker Dü in 1988, Mould locked himself away in a Minnesota farmhouse, attempting to write new material and purge himself of the substance addictions he had developed over the years. He succeeded on both fronts, releasing two solo albums, the abnormally subdued Workbook (1989) and the familiar, loud Black Sheets of Rain (1990).

In 1992 he formed Sugar with former Mercyland bassist David Barbe and ex-Human Sexual Response drummer Malcolm Travis. Their familiar, Mould-esque style of post-punk and power-pop bought them commercial and critical acclaim in the U.K., with all three of their major releases cracking the Top 10 and debut album Copper Blue crowned NME‘s Album of the Year.

The band’s tenure was short-lived: Barbe sought to spend more time with his family and working on his own material, so the band parted in 1996. Mould continues to record and perform today, and will embark on a European tour commemorating Copper Blue this summer.

To commemorate this, Edsel will reissue Copper Blue, the 1993 EP Beaster and 1995’s File Under: Easy Listening as expansive CD/DVD sets. Both studio albums are augmented with extra material including B-sides, remixes and BBC sessions as well as bonus live concerts on a second CD. (The Copper Blue-era concert, recorded at Chicago’s Cabaret Metro, was partially utilized for CD single B-side material, while the 1995 First Avenue show in Minneapolis was released as The Joke is Always on Us, Sometimes, a bonus disc included with limited pressings of the band’s Besides rarities compilation. All sets will include bonus DVDs featuring music videos, live footage and television appearances on both sides of the Atlantic, including several bits from MTV’s popular alternative show 120 Minutes.

Edsel will also release the band’s most popular single, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,” with the B-side “Clownmaster” on a special limited 7″ single for Record Store Day in England. Only 750 copies will be made.

The reissues will be released one week at a time starting May 28. Hit the jump for Amazon U.K. links and full track lists.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 27, 2012 at 11:14

Posted in Bob Mould, News, Reissues, Sugar

Bring Back That Lovin’ Feelin’: Righteous Brothers’ Philles Albums Arrive on CD…In Japan!

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It’s time to get Righteous…at least if you’re in Japan, that is, or willing to shell out big bucks from an import retailer.  Though they have eluded U.S. CD release to date, The Righteous Brothers’ three long-players from Phil Spector’s Philles label will be reissued on April 3 as limited edition SHM-CDs from Universal Music Japan.  1965’s You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ and Just Once in My Life, as well as 1966’s Back to Back, are all anchored by key Spector-produced tracks.  The remaining songs were produced by one-half of the duo, Bill Medley.

Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield’s tenure with Philles was short-lived and tumultuous, yet yielded the most enduring work of the team’s long career.  Medley, a bass-baritone, and Hatfield, a tenor, first united as members of The Paramours, but struck out on their own in 1963.  Their association with the Moonglow label provided them with two hits, Medley’s own “Little Latin Lupe Lu” and a cover of Willie Dixon’s “My Babe.”  Moonglow released two LPs from the duo (Right Now and Some Blue-Eyed Soul) before Phil Spector snapped the “brothers” up, and a third (1965’s This is New) after the titanic “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” made big waves on the charts.

Spector and his cadre of top-flight arrangers and musicians instinctively understood the brothers’ vocal blend.  When married to the Wall of Sound, the Righteous Brothers’ blue-eyed soul stylings became positively stratospheric.  Spector also understood when to spotlight just one half of the team.  While recording Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Spector’s “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” a song which BMI later certified the most played of the 20th century, Bobby Hatfield balked at Medley taking the lead vocal solo.  “What am I supposed to do during Medley’s solo?” an irritated Hatfield reportedly queried.  The producer, without missing a beat, replied, “You can go straight to the bank!”  Hatfield later got his due from Spector when it was he, not Medley, taking the lead on “Unchained Melody.”

What will you find on these expanded reissues?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 27, 2012 at 10:05