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Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for June 2012

Review: “Album Produced By: More Of My Roller Coaster Life” by Bruce Kimmel

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At The Second Disc, we’re (literally) all about reissues!  But none of the titles we cover daily would be possible without the efforts of the producers who select the bonus tracks, commission the liner notes, oversee the remastering and pull the packaging together.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!  We have endeavored to spotlight the protean work of this select group of individuals, and have been grateful for the opportunity to conduct interviews with some of the finest in the business, including Harry Weinger, Steve Stanley and Mike Matessino.  Among that esteemed group is the founder of the Kritzerland label, Bruce Kimmel.  But Kritzerland is just one feather in the cap of a successful career at the helm of both new albums and reissues at Bay Cities, Varese Sarabande and Fynsworth Alley.  Kritzerland has released over 100 albums to date, including reissues of many beloved film soundtracks and cast albums.  Kimmel is also an author with more than ten books to his name, and the latest, Album Produced By…: More of My Roller Coaster Life (Author House, 2012), should be “required reading” for anybody who’s ever wondered about the ins and outs, the ups and downs of producing record albums.

Kimmel concluded his 2010 volume of memoirs, There’s Mel, There’s Woody and There’s You: My Life in the Slow Lane, with his decision to dive headfirst into the music business after dipping his toes into the water with his Bay Cities label: “I want to make a statement and within a year I want to be a well-known producer of show music recordings.  I want people to know when they see the name Bruce Kimmel that it means a quality album with a point of view.”  After a career largely spent as an actor, writer and director, he was afforded the opportunity to head up a new division at Varese Sarabande Records.  Within his first year there, two of his albums had already scored Grammy nominations.  Album Produced By… begins on Kimmel’s first day on the job in March 1993, and indeed, it’s not long in the book before the roller coaster begins its first climb.  After each climb, of course, there’s a fall, and then another climb, and so on, until the book concludes in the present day, two record labels and many life lessons later.

Hit the jump for more on this essential new read! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 29, 2012 at 13:43

Posted in Cast Recordings, Features, Soundtracks

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“The Very Best Of” Jazz: Concord Launches New Series With Davis, Rollins, Coltrane and More

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If you’ve ever felt it might be a daunting task to “get into” jazz, Concord Music Group just might have the perfect releases for you.  Concord is home to many of the genre’s greatest labels, including Prestige, Contemporary, Riverside, Milestone, Fantasy and Pablo.  With the new series simply titled The Very Best Of, the Concord team has offered an affordable, entry-level look into five of the most influential musicians of all time: Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone), Chet Baker (trumpet) and Wes Montgomery (guitar).  All five titles in the series are in stores now, and offer a selection of their most enduring music, primarily dating from the 1950s and early 1960s.  They capture these artists in the early portion of their careers, i.e. Davis before Columbia, Coltrane before Atlantic, Montgomery before Verve, when they were all breaking new ground and honing a personal style.  Each title – effective as either an introduction or a sampler – offers uniform design, remastered sound and new liner notes from authors including Neil Tesser, Ashley Kahn and Doug Ramsey.

For a musician who has influenced every guitarist from George Benson to Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery is remembered for a body of work that lasted just over ten years.  Montgomery didn’t enter a recording studio until 25 years of age, didn’t record as a leader until another ten years had elapsed, and was dead ten years after that, felled by a heart attack at age 45.  The guitarist’s work can be divided into three distinct periods at different labels: Riverside (1959-1964), Verve (1964-1966) and A&M (1967-1968).  The latter two stints were spent under the aegis of producer Creed Taylor, who shaped Montgomery into a pioneer of the crossover jazz market, sweetening his recordings with strings and encouraging him to record the latest pop/rock hits. Concord’s The Very Best of Wes Montgomery is drawn from the pure jazz recorded at Riverside.  Montgomery’s sound was, even in his earliest days, instantly identifiable.  He made radical use of octaves (playing the same note on two strings, one octave apart) and chord melodies, and was inclined to play with his thumb rather than a pick, making his sound one of the most recognizable in all jazz.  The new set’s eleven tracks are drawn from eight of Montgomery’s Riverside albums, bookended by 1959’s The Wes Montgomery Trio and 1963’s Boss Guitar.  As you’ll find with all of these albums, a number of other luminaries appear as sidemen, here including Wynton Kelly (piano), Philly Joe Jones (drums), Milt Jackson (vibes) and Ron Carter (bass).  A number of Montgomery originals have been selected (“Four on Six,” “West Coast Blues,” “Cariba”) as well as covers of standards and pop songs (“Gone with the Wind,” “Canadian Sunset”) and jazz classics by Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk.  For those only familiar with Montgomery’s hit Verve and A&M albums, these eleven tracks will likely be a revelation.  In any event, they’re a solid starting point to explore the sadly-truncated career of a true great.

Among the artists chosen to inaugurate this series, Chet Baker stands out as the only one to have a career as both instrumentalist and vocalist.  Both sides of Baker are on display in The Very Best of Chet Baker, which consists of 14 tracks recorded between 1953 and 1965 from the Riverside, Prestige and Fantasy catalogues.  The collection’s earliest song, Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine,” hails from Baker’s 1953 debut as part of The Gerry Mulligan Quartet.  It quickly became a signature song for the young trumpeter, whose tone was one of restraint, intimacy and smoothness.  A major player in the West Coast school of jazz, the handsome young Baker was courted for motion pictures and groomed for stardom, but a drug problem kept him running from the law and the court of public opinion throughout his entire life.  Other than drugs, the one constant was his great musicianship, whether playing or singing.  Four of his vocals are represented here, including three from Chet Baker Sings: It Could Happen to You (1958) and one from Chet Baker with Fifty Italian Strings (1959).  Baker’s cool, relaxed take on “Do It the Hard Way” from Rodgers and Hart’s Pal Joey is a particular standout.  Many of Broadway’s finest songwriters received sympathetic treatment from Baker.  In addition to four songs from the Rodgers and Hart songbook, two come from Lerner and Loewe, and two more from Jerome Kern (with Oscar Hammerstein II and B.G. DeSylva).  Pianist Bill Evans joins Baker on two selections from 1959’s Chet, and Herbie Mann’s tenor sax enlivens “Almost Like Being in Love” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face,” both from 1959’s The Best of Lerner and Loewe.  Baker continued to record until his untimely, mysterious death from a hotel window in 1988 (Was it suicide?  Was it an accident?  Was it something else?), but this collection preserves the musician in his prime.

After the jump, we explore sets from John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and the Miles Davis Quintet, plus we’ve got full track listings with discographical annotation, and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 29, 2012 at 10:06

Soundtrack Corner: La-La Land Has More Goldsmith, Intrada Has “Bite”

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This week’s soundtrack reissue offerings include two fantastical scores from one label and another pair of Jerry Goldsmith titles from a label that’s done a fantastic job on recent releases from the late, great composer.

Over at Intrada, they’ve released one of their more-requested titles: Charles Bernstein’s score to the comedy Love at First Bite. The 1979 film starred George Hamilton as a spooky but ultimately light-hearted Dracula, displaced from Transylvania to modern-day New York City. Bernstein’s music evokes all the Eastern European chills of your typical vampire yarn, but the change of scenery begets some lighthearted forays into disco! Augmented with two disco mixes of cuts from the original soundtrack LP on Parachute Records, this premiere release of the complete score is certainly something for fans to sink their teeth into.

The same label has also prepped a new edition of another fantasy-minded score. Though the film version of Masters of the Universe was released in 1987, some years after the Saturday morning cartoon and action figure series of the same name had peaked among audiences, its place in the franchise has earned it some cult status – along with memorable performances by Dolph Lundgren as Prince Adam of Eternia (He-Man to us mere mortals) and Frank Langella as the villainous Skeletor. This is not the first release of Bill Conti’s original score; a highlights LP was released on vinyl and CD by Varese Sarabande at the time of release, and said LP was paired with the complete score on a two-disc set released by La-La Land in 2008. This release, though, omits that original album in favor of a single-disc presentation of the original soundtrack.

And what Goldsmith gems does La-La Land have in store? Hit the jump to find out!

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 29, 2012 at 09:20

Smashing Pumpkins’ “Pisces Iscariot” to Be Expanded with Bonus Discs, Cassette

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Having treated fans last year to lavish expanded versions of the Smashing Pumpkins’ first two LPs, Gish and Siamese Dream, Billy Corgan is again working with EMI to release a deluxe edition of the band’s Pisces Iscariot compilation.

Released at the end of 1994, after the band’s wave of success off the Top 10, quadruple-platinum Siamese Dream through 1993 and 1994, Pisces Iscariot collated the best of the band’s many non-LP B-sides (most of which were only available on import singles) as well as three “new” tracks from the Siamese Dream sessions. Audiences were excited to have more of Corgan and company in their CD players, and, with the help of a hit rock single (a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart), the set was a Top 5 hit – at that point, the band’s best placement on the U.S. charts.

Ever the fastidious archiver, Corgan is pulling out all the stops for this expansion of Pisces Iscariot, adding a bonus CD, a DVD and a cassette(!) to the package. The bonus disc includes more original non-LP B-sides and rare, period-appropriate compilation appearances, some of which are newly remixed for this edition, as well as eight newly-released outtakes, many from the band’s earliest sessions in their native Chicago in the late 1980s.

The band’s early Chicago period colors the rest of the bonus material, too: a live performance at Roselle Music in Roselle, IL in 1988, recorded by local access music show The Pulse, features on the DVD (no clarification yet on what the rest of the tracks listed on the DVD entail). Finally, a replica of a self-released cassette the band created in 1989 will round out the set.

Rest assured, more Pumpkins expansions and archival projects will be released after the deluxe Pisces Iscariot. Corgan – who took the Pumpkins back into the U.S. Top 5 with Oceania, an album culled from his 44-song Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project, last week –  has announced his intentions to expand and reissue the band’s entire output (having confirmed work on expansions of the highly acclaimed Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness and The Aeroplane Flies High box set), and in April created The Lucky 13, a specialized production team that will, with fan input, “review archival material, identify possible pricing models, and propose methods and formats of distribution for selected audio and video releases.”

The Pisces Iscariot reissue is out July 17 and can be ordered after the jump. The track listing is also there, too; a huge hand to SP fan site Crestfallen for breaking that story.

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 28, 2012 at 17:51

They Walk The Line: Johnny Cash Celebrated By Crow, Nelson, Kristofferson, Plus Four New Compilations Due

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Much like the train Johnny Cash so often sang about, the celebration of what would have been his 80th birthday year rolls on.  Following the issue of Bootleg IV: The Soul of Truth earlier this year, Legacy Recordings has just announced the CD/DVD and Blu-ray releases of We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash.  Due on August 7, these preserve the concert held on Friday, April 20, 2012 at Austin, Texas’ Moody Theater in which a wide-ranging roster of musicians paid homage to the music of The Man in Black.

Don Was served as the event’s musical director, and brought along a number of his famous friends to celebrate their friend Johnny.  Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams and Shelby Lynne all were among the headliners, while Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson fit the bill as the evening’s requisite legends.  Younger talents like The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Pat Monahan of Train, and Amy Lee of Evanescence all paid their respects via new interpretations of Cash standards.  Was’ band included many distinguished musicians in their own right: Buddy Miller, Kenny Aronoff, Greg Leisz and The Faces’ Ian McLagan.  Of the evening’s star-studded “I Walk the Line” finale, Rolling Stone wrote, “It was a scene so loaded with talent that an A-list artist like Crow was left singing backup vocals off-mike and clapping while her peers led the crowd in a sing-along.”

In addition to solo songs, many performers seized the opportunity for duets.  Shelby Lynne and Pat Monahan stepped in for June and Johnny on Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe.”  Jamey Johnson joined Kris Kristofferson for Kristofferson’s own “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and Lynne traded off with Willie Nelson on Tim Hardin’s folk standard “If I Were a Carpenter.”  Nelson and Kristofferson reunited on Jimmy Webb’s “Highwayman,” enlisting Johnson and Shooter Jennings as new Highwaymen for the song.  The Carolina Chocolate Drops enlivened another favorite duet between June and Johnny, “Jackson.”

Hit the jump for details on the CD/DVD and Blu-Ray editions, plus news of four new Cash compilations and pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 28, 2012 at 13:57

Young, Gifted and Live: Shout! Factory Collects Two Out-of-Print Donny Hathaway Concert LPs

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The late, great Donny Hathaway was rather beautifully celebrated by Rhino France some time ago with the release of a career-spanning box set. While U.S. audiences had no such luck with a similar compilation, Shout! Factory is picking up the slack and releasing a two-disc set containing both of the soul legend’s long out-of-print live albums.

Hathaway had recorded two sensational studio albums when Live was released in 1972. Very little of those albums are replicated here, save for “The Ghetto” and “Voices Inside (Everything is Everything),” both from his debut disc Everything is Everything in 1970. Much of the material herein are soulful covers, including one recent R&B classic (Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”) and two pop/rock tunes (Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”). Culled from two live sets on either coast of America (one at Hollywood’s famous Troubadour and one in Greenwich Village’s Bitter End), Live cracked Billboard‘s Top 20, earned Hathaway his first gold record and even became a cornerstone for hip-hop artists (key track “Little Ghetto Boy” was sampled by both Dr. Dre and the Wu-Tang Clan).

Read on to learn about In Performance, a fitting postscript to Hathaway’s too-short career, and where these albums have been all your life.

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 28, 2012 at 13:25

Short Takes: Neil Young’s Budget Box Set, The Latest from Heart, and Incubus Goes Live

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  • What’s the contender for the title of Longest-gestating Music Box Set?  That dubious honor would have to go to Neil Young’s Archives, Volume 1, bandied about since the 1980s and not released until 2009.  Available as 10 Blu-rays, 10 DVDs or 8 CDs, Archives provided an immersive journey deep into Young’s vaults, and it picked up a Grammy Award for Art Direction in 2010.  In conjunction with the massive box (supposedly the first of five such sets), Young has branded a number of his catalogue titles with the Archives label including the Performance Series of previously unreleased live concerts, and the Official Release Series of remastered original albums.  To date, only four Official Release Series titles have been released, and those four have just been collected in one budget-priced mini-box by Warner Bros.’ U.K. division.  Official Release Series Discs 1-4 brings together Young’s first four albums in one slipcase: 1969’s Neil Young and Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, 1970’s After the Gold Rush and 1972’s Harvest.  Based on the available artwork, each album is housed in a jewel case rather than a paper sleeve.  These are the same remastered discs released individually in 2009.  As of this writing, the box set is available from Amazon U.K. for £10.47, or approximately $16.29 USD.  It’s selling for $32.22 from Amazon U.S. now.  You might also wish to check out Warner U.K.’s similar 5-CD Original Album Series boxes from artists including Elvis Costello, Madonna and Prince.

Hit the jump for the latest from Heart and Incubus! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 28, 2012 at 10:05

Expanded “Green Onions” Coming From Booker T. & The MGs

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Concord Music Group continues its Stax Remasters series by dipping into the label’s early days with a bona fide R&B classic.  The title track of Booker T. & The MGs’ 1962 Green Onions is still instantly recognizable today from appearances in television (American Dad) and film (X-Men: First Class), and was in May 2012 inducted into the Library of Congress’ prestigious National Recording Registry.  On July 24, the original Green Onions album will be reissued and expanded with two bonus tracks.

“Green Onions” was created by the classic line-up of organist Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, drummer Al Jackson Jr. and bassist Lewis Steinberg.  Originally the B-side of the May 1962 Volt single “Behave Yourself,” the catchy, organ-driven blues was quickly flipped, and reissued as an A-side on the Stax label.   The Green Onions album followed that October as the debut long-player from Booker T. & The MGs, and included “Green Onions” as well as “Behave Yourself.”  The instrumental made it all the way to pole position on the R&B chart, and made an impressive No. 3 placement on the Billboard Hot 100.  Cover versions followed by everyone from Henry Mancini to The Ventures, and it remains one of the most beloved songs to come out of the Stax hitmaking factory.

The album was filled with similarly tight playing from the Stax house band on a variety of familiar songs and originals, including the follow-up, “Mo’ Onions.”  (Belatedly released as a single in 1964, “Mo’ Onions” hit the Hot 100 Pop and R&B Singles charts.)  Reissue producer Nick Phillips stated, “Beyond ‘Green Onions,’ which was their biggest hit single, there are so many other great songs on this album which Booker T. & The MGs transformed into timeless R&B instrumental classics, like ‘Comin’ Home Baby,’ ‘Twist and Shout,’ and Ray Charles’s ‘I Got a Woman.’ No matter what song they started with, by the time they were done with it, it was uniquely and unmistakably their own.”

Hit the jump for more on the new reissue plus the track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 27, 2012 at 14:02

Swing Out Sister’s “Travel” Expansion Breaks Out with New Track List

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Well, this certainly doesn’t happen often: a previously-reported expanded edition of U.K. pop group Swing Out Sister’s debut LP is undergoing some 11th-hour changes, actually picking up a few bonus tracks for good measure.

When it was initially announced, the 25th anniversary edition of It’s Better to Travel from Universal’s U.K. arm featured the original nine-track LP and 11 bonus tracks over two discs. While there were plenty of B-sides and remixes to go around, many of them were previously available on compilations or other import editions of the album. (In particular, our brethren at Super Deluxe Edition were critical of the package, actually prompting a response on Twitter from S.O.S. keyboardist Andy Connell.)

Now, though, the package has been changed ever so slightly, and fans should have more than ever to look forward to on this set. What’s been added? Hit the jump and take a look.

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 27, 2012 at 11:40

Cleveland (Still) Rocks: Ian Hunter “Complete Singles Collection 1975-83” Released By 7Ts

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What do Great White, The Presidents of the United States of America and Barry Manilow have in common?  Why, Ian Hunter, of course.  The former Mott the Hoople frontman provided those three with enduring songs, respectively, “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” “Cleveland Rocks” and “Ships.”  The career of the singer and songwriter is being celebrated by Cherry Red’s 7Ts label with the release of Ian Hunter’s Singles Collection 1975-83.  This 2-CD set compiles all 29 sides released by Hunter as a solo artist during that period, including two stints on CBS and one on Chrysalis Records.

Though Mott the Hoople’s biggest hit came from David Bowie’s glam anthem “All the Young Dudes” (No. 3 U.K., 1972), Hunter was a prolific songwriter himself.  Flush with the success of a hit single, both Hunter and the band, previously on the verge of a break-up, were revitalized.  Mott rode the glam rock train with further hits like “Honaloochie Boogie” and “All the Way from Memphis,” and scored successful albums, as well.  But all wasn’t well within the Mott camp.  Despite having just brought guitarist and frequent Bowie collaborator Mick Ronson into the band in 1974, Hunter soon departed.  By the year’s end, he had departed Mott, citing nervous exhaustion.  Ronson followed suit.  But despite calling it quits with a successful band, Ian Hunter wasn’t done with making music.

The Singles Collection kicks off with the 1975 single that made Hunter’s name as a solo artist, the original version of “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.”  Recorded at George Martin’s AIR Studios, it was taken from his eponymous solo debut.  Hunter was joined by Ronson as arranger, guitarist and co-producer for the track which made it to No. 14 on the U.K. chart.  (Great White’s 1989 cover version went all the way to the Top 5 in America.)  Phil Hendriks’ detailed, track-by-track liner notes for The Singles Collection point out that “Once Bitten” was Hunter’s only hit U.K. single as a solo artist, but clearly, fellow musicians were taking notice.  His next album, All American Alien Boy, saw him joined by jazz greats David Sanborn and Jaco Pastorius, as well as drummer Aynsley Dunbar and even the members of Queen!  Queen can be heard on “You Nearly Did Me In.”  (For fans of that album, the single version of its title track might come as a surprise, as it was a wholly unique recording.)

Cover versions of Hunter’s songs also began to proliferate, a trend which would continue as the decades passed.  “Who Do You Love” received a recording by The Pointer Sisters.  1979’s “Cleveland Rocks” was recorded by The Presidents of the United States of America in 1997 and got a second lease on life when the song was selected as the theme song to television’s long-running The Drew Carey Show.  And Barry Manilow brought the tender, haunting ballad “Ships” into the American Top 10; Hunter has credited Manilow with adding the key changes that transformed the song into a bit of a power ballad.  (The Singles Collection also includes the original version of “Cleveland Rocks,” recorded as “England Rocks,” in 1977.)

What does Meat Loaf have to do with Ian Hunter?  What tracks will you find on The Singles Collection?  How can you order?  You’ll find answers to all of those questions, and more, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 27, 2012 at 09:54