The Second Disc

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Archive for March 28th, 2012

All Around the World, Or the Myth of “Graceland” Revisited: 25th Anniversary Box Set Due in June

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Paul Simon was back.  With a vengeance.

The sixties wunderkind and one-half of Simon and Garfunkel had greeted the 1980s uneasily.  The film One-Trick Pony, for which he served as writer, star and composer in 1980, was tepidly-received.  An underperforming LP (Hearts and Bones) followed in 1983, his first solo album since 1965 not to hit the Billboard Top 10.  It peaked at No. 35.  Simon’s biggest success of the first half of the decade was a headline-making reunion concert with his old friend Art.  As 1986 opened, Simon was barely 45 years old…how terribly strange.  And he had much, much more to say.  It took a trip to South Africa to recharge Paul Simon’s batteries.  In the rich musical tapestry of that country, the singer/songwriter reconnected with his own roots, creating what may be his most enduring solo musical statement.

The original multi-platinum album, with sales of 14+ million copies, picked up Grammy Awards for Album of the Year (in 1987) and Song of the Year for the title track (in 1988).  “You Can Call Me Al” dominated radio airplay and its music video made Simon a familiar face to the MTV generation.  Simon was able to synthesize the street-corner symphonies of his youth (early influences The Everly Brothers even guest on the title song!) with an ethnic sound foreign to many American listeners’ ears, and still spin commercial gold without sacrificing authenticity.  Last year, we reported on plans for a deluxe box set commemorating Graceland, as well as director Joe Berlinger’s documentary about the seminal album.  Now it can be revealed that a panoply of Graceland 25th Anniversary editions will arrive from Legacy Recordings on June 5.

Paul Simon’s pilgrimage to South Africa wasn’t without controversy.  Though Simon collaborated with many of the country’s finest musicians, a number of international observers chastised his decision to break the United Nations’ cultural boycott on the country, imposed because of its practice of apartheid.  25 years after Simon’s first visit, he returned to South Africa with filmmaker Joe Berlinger, and performed in front of a small audience with performers like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Hugh Masekela.  Berlinger’s resulting documentary film Under African Skies has garnered considerable acclaim at SXSW 2012, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.  Even as it continues on the festival circuit, the film will play limited theatrical engagement in New York and Los Angeles beginning May 11th.  The documentary chronicles Simon’s journey making the album as well as his trip back and the concert.  It includes interviews with anti-apartheid activists as well as musical figures such as Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel.

Under African Skies is just one part of the ongoing Graceland celebration slated for 2012.  The joyful and provocative Graceland was quietly reissued in a remastered edition in 2011 alongside the Songwriter anthology, a 2-CD set personally curated by Simon.  Graceland will soon get the full deluxe treatment, however.  It will arrive from Legacy on June 5 as a 2-CD/2-DVD box set, a CD/DVD set, a vinyl edition and limited edition bundle.  The documentary will be available as an individual Blu-Ray disc, as well.

Graceland marked the crossroads of classic American pop and explosive world music.  Hit the jump for the full details on each of its 25th anniversary editions including track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 28, 2012 at 12:30

Paul McCartney, Little Richard, Dave Brubeck Due From Concord on Record Store Day

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What do Paul McCartney, Dave Brubeck and Little Richard have in common?  All three will be recipients of exclusive, limited edition Record Store Day releases from our friends at Concord Records.  Since its founding in 2007, Record Store Day has become an institution at many independent shops, and has even gone global with the participation of international retailers.

As previously reported, a 7-inch vinyl single from Paul McCartney will prove a highlight of Concord’s roster and kick off the reissue program for the Archive Collection release of 1971’s Ram.  “Another Day” b/w “Oh Woman, Oh Why” was recorded in 1970 during the Ram sessions. It was the first single of McCartney’s solo career, and kicked it off in high style, selling over a million copies worldwide. It was a No. 1 hit in France and Australia, in the U.K. it reached No. 2, and in the U.S., it peaked at a none-too-shabby No. 5.

Tying in with another expanded reissue from Concord is a special RSD-exclusive 12-inch red vinyl LP of Little Richard’s 1957 Specialty album Here’s Little Richard.  This special pressing of the original album classic includes familiar hits from the piano-pounding rocker including “Tutti Frutti,” “Rip It Up,” “Slipin’ & Slidin’,” and “Jenny Jenny.”  It has been remastered from the original analog tapes.

Rounding out Concord’s reissue trio for Record Store Day is a 1952 recording from The Dave Brubeck Octet.  Originally released on the Fantasy label, Distinctive Rhythm Instrumentals offers eight tracks from personnel including Brubeck (piano), Bill Smith (clarinet/baritone saxophone), Paul Desmond (alto saxophone), David Van Kriedt (tenor saxophone), Dick Collins (trumpet), Bob Collins (trombone), Ron Crotty (bass), and Cal Tjader (drums).  These highly experimental jazz recordings can be yours on 10-inch red vinyl.

Hit the jump for more, including the details of Concord’s more modern-skewing releases, plus track listings for each of the reissued titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 28, 2012 at 10:06