The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for June 4th, 2012

Smalltown Boy Made Good: Edsel Preps Bronski Beat, Communards Expansions

leave a comment »

Edsel continues populating a busy release schedule with recently-announced expansions of three albums from two bands featuring Scottish pop singer Jimmy Somerville.

British pop fans might know Somerville today as the falsetto-voiced singer who crooned several hits in the ’80s and ’90s (including a chart-topping dance track in the U.S., “Heartbeat,” in 1995). But his first brushes with stardom happened with a pair of synthpop bands in the middle of the 1980s. First, there was his brief but notable tenure as lead singer of Bronski Beat from 1983 to 1985; Somerville and bandmates Steve Bronski and Larry Steinbachek all addressed the still-taboo topic of homosexuality in their music (all three were publicly out) but never sacrificed the music for the message. The catchy singles “Smalltown Boy” and “Why?” were Top 10 hits in 1984 and remain notable gay anthems to this day.

Somerville departed Bronski Beat amid personal and professional tensions, forming The Communards with classically-trained musician Richard Coles. Though Somerville remained a prominent gay icon, The Communards’ biggest hits were high-energy covers of soul classics. Their take on “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” performed by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and Thelma Houston, was England’s top-selling single of 1986, and a cover of The Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” was a Top 5 hit, too.

Edsel’s two-disc editions of Bronski Beat’s The Age of Consent and The Communards’ Communards and Red all come brimming with extras, including non-LP B-sides and single remixes, many of which are making their debuts on CD. The Age of Consent includes the remix album Hundreds & Thousands in its entirety, while Red features all of the live tracks from Storm Paris, a triple-12″ set released in 1988. Somerville contributed new notes to all three sets (Coles contributed to the Communards packages).

Look for these in U.K. shops on July 2 and hit the jump for the full breakdowns!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 4, 2012 at 14:39

There is No Comparison: Talking “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” with Mike Matessino, Part 1

leave a comment »

If you’re a catalogue soundtrack fan, you doubtlessly know the name and work of Mike Matessino. For decades, Matessino has been among film score elite, serving ably as a producer, editor, mixer and writer for some of the best soundtrack catalogue titles. The New York University graduate first rose to prominence restoring the music of The Sound of Music and The King and I for 20th Century-Fox, then assembled with Nick Redman the most definitive CD releases of John Williams’ scores to the Star Wars trilogy. Since then, his discography has come to include holy grails like Intrada’s expansion of Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien score, Alan Silvestri’s Back to the FutureFilm Score Monthly’s astounding Superman box set, and expansions of the first six Star Trek motion picture scores.

Matessino, who also oversaw the reassembly of Star Trek: The Motion Picture for its 2001 “Director’s Edition” DVD, comes full circle this year, co-producing a tremendous triple-disc presentation of Goldsmith’s TMP score for La-La Land Records. It’s arguably the soundtrack title to beat for 2012, with even trade publication Variety taking notice.  Matessino will attend a screening of the film and panel discussion with soundtrack producer Bruce Botnick tonight at Hollywood’s Arclight Cinema – but recently, I had the incredible pleasure of talking to the producer about Trek and his illustrious career.

Matessino is, as this interview will doubtless show, one of the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic in his field. The first portion of what was a two-hour conversation is published today, and touches on the creation of one of the greatest science fiction scores of all time. The next part of the interview will focus on putting that score on CD in a most definitive manner.

We hope you enjoy this look at Star Trek: The Motion Picture with Mike Matessino, who truly has boldly gone where no one has gone before.

This week, after what I’m sure is a great amount of effort from many, this definitive edition of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture score will be available to the public. What does that feel like?

It’s a great relief because was a lot of hard work, it took a very long time, it was a very difficult project. so, in fact, it’s a big relief. Very gratifying to finally be able to share it with listeners. The whole point is to get it out there and know that people are enjoying it, that great film music is preserved, to know that there are people who this means so much to and makes them feel happier about their lives. That’s what I really enjoy.

But this was not the sort of usual, quick and easy project. It’s been almost a year that I’ve been working on it, and La La Land Records started the licensing process maybe two or three years ago. So it’s a big relief and very gratifying to have it out there.

Goldsmith’s main theme for the film is, next to Alexander Courage’s original television theme, the single most enduring piece of Trek music, utilized for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Goldsmith’s other Trek scores. What makes it so memorable?

The theme for Star Trek that Jerry came up with evokes a march, but it’s not militaristic. It evokes the romance and adventure of space, but it’s more heroic – but not the kind of thing he’d do for, say, First Knight. He really just nailed the whole idea of Star Trek and what kind of music was needed. He came up with a melody that is a rare commodity these days, that’s memorable and hummable. When you hear it it immediately brings to mind not just the movie he wrote it for, but all of Star Trek, in the same way that, if you think of Superman, you think of John Williams’ theme, even though that theme has only existed for half the life of the character. You retroactively apply it.

Also, a bit of insider information – the scoring sessions were paid for by Columbia Records in exchange for the album rights. The order of the day was to make a great soundtrack album, and that was not going to work unless you had a memorable theme. The mandate was to come up with a theme that was new to Star Trek but recognizable and would be popular with people and get them to buy albums. And Jerry really struggled to come up with something that was just right. At the end of the day, he did, and it’s endured for more than three decades. You could set a montage of the whole series to that theme, and it would work.

The same year that he recorded TMP, Goldsmith recorded another sci-fi score with decidedly different outcomes: Alien. The score was famously re-edited, with unrelated Goldsmith cues tracked into the film. Did that affect the TMP score in any way?

What you hear in Alien, in the music he originally wrote…He wanted to give it a romantic feeling; he obviously saw romance in space. But the movie’s called Alien. The package has to be clearly marked. It’s arguable as to who’s right, but Ridley Scott’s vision prevailed, and the package became clearly marked. When you see Alien, you hear music that’s alien. Fortunately, he had right on the heels of that another chance to do another space movie.

For such an iconic score, this package features a fantastic amount of early, ultimately rejected score material. Can you walk us through that?

You have to put it in context. It was the late 1970s; we were not to the point where we are now, where a composer will mock up the whole score and a director gets to hear it with a synthesized full orchestra before you go to a scoring stage with a real orchestra. The most you could get at the time was the director going to a composer’s home or studio and hearing a theme on the piano. You really wouldn’t know what it was going to sound like until you got to the scoring session. The most you could get is a sense of where you want music to stop and start, or how much music to include.

In the particular case of TMP, you had a movie with a notoriously large amount of production problems, particularly with the visual effects – and those were so important to piecing the film together. In order to meet the release date, Jerry had to start writing before a lot of those shots were completed. He wasn’t really getting a sense of what the final impact of the film was going to be, because he didn’t see it. He wrote a lot of these early cues to cards that said “scene missing,” or he’d look at storyboards. He did what he could to get a sense of it, but he had no choice but to do it early.

It’s interesting that it didn’t occur to him at that point to come up with some really solid, recognizable, hummable themes. Instead, he’s almost trying to make another try for what he’d attempted on Alien, which was ultimately rejected. A romantic, almost seafaring nautical approach. A lot of the early cues have that kind of feel to them.

He did have in place the love theme for the film. That was pretty rock solid from the beginning. The other component that was there was the blaster beam. But there weren’t too many electronics – those came later.

Then, by coincidence, there was a planned one-month break in the sessions while other scores were recorded. And during that interval, he’d come up with the main theme and rethought some of those early cues. The romantic approach is still there, to a degree, but he bought in other themes like the Vulcan motif and Starfleet theme. Also in that month, Craig Huxley started introducing Jerry to his synthesizer equipment. Robert Wise liked that stranger, otherworldly sound, so more and more electronics started creeping into the score.

For whatever reason, there was this false start that produced its own fantastic music that we now get to release for the first time. But it makes you appreciate the final score all these elements synergistically combining to this perfect score.

Keep reading after the jump to learn about the bond between Goldsmith and his director, and how Trek saved the composer from abandoning electronic music forever.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 4, 2012 at 12:00

Summer Special! The Beach Boys’ “That’s Why God Made The Radio” Hits Stores Tomorrow

with 7 comments

Tomorrow sees the release of That’s Why God Made the Radio, the long-awaited studio album from Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks: The Beach Boys. As the favorite sons of Hawthorne, California continue their enormously successful 50th Anniversary Tour and with the promise of catalogue projects to come later in 2012, we’re looking at this new album and the legacy of these musical giants in a special two-part series beginning right now!

Where did our long hair go?  Like the eponymous girl of 1966’s “Caroline No,” our collective innocence is long gone.  And so it might be difficult at first blush to accept five men, their ages hovering around 70, singing of spring vacations and beaches in mind.  Yes, The Beach Boys are back and celebrating their 50th anniversary with a world tour and a new album.  They have just delivered That’s Why God Made the Radio, their first album since 1996, their first of all-original material since 1992 and their first of all-original material with Brian Wilson since 1985.  (Whew!)  Somehow, it feels not only inevitable, but altogether right.

Summer 1967 was just around the corner when Brian Wilson collapsed under the weight of ambitions – both his own and that of others – and shelved SMiLE.  That album remained a legendary what-if until it was “completed,” first in 2004 by Wilson himself and in 2011 by The Beach Boys.  It would have followed a string of records that brought melodic and harmonic sophistication to pop, and then the intensely personal statement of 1966’s Pet Sounds.  Though Mike Love is said to have provided the title, the pet sounds were Brian’s, building on the foundation he had laid with songs as early as “Surfer Girl,” the very first he ever wrote.  Pet Sounds, though, left behind cars and surfboards (though not girls!) as it lyrically explored the themes that resonated for the young man, and his audience of contemporaries: the angst of adolescence, the promise of adulthood.   Brian Wilson’s idol Phil Spector was let down when the record-buying public roundly ignored his magnum opus, “River Deep – Mountain High,” and it was no different for Wilson when Pet Sounds became The Beach Boys’ first album in three years not to go gold.  Capitol Records undercut any traction it may have been gaining by rush-releasing a golden-oldies compilation to stores.  It seems hard to believe today, but “God Only Knows” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” just sounded too foreign to a public thrilling to “I Get Around” and “Surfin’ USA.”

But Brian Wilson didn’t give up.  In those heavy, heady days of ’67, he had an unquenchable thirst to push the limits of what popular music could do.  An intensely competitive perfectionist, he intended for SMiLE to outdo not only his past achievements but those of The Beatles.  John, Paul, George and Ringo were also redefining the scope of the new “rock,” which had, after all replaced the “rock and roll” once played by both The Beatles and The Beach Boys.   SMiLE was pure sonic experimentation, a jagged “teenage symphony to God” that was artful and ramshackle, beautiful and impenetrable.  It should have built on the success of “Good Vibrations,” the Beach Boys’ single which had merged the avant-garde and the commercial into a thrilling and completely new whole.  But it wasn’t meant to be, and despite some fine albums to follow, the band could never fully step out from the shadow of SMiLE as vibrant, vital hitmakers.

The abandonment of SMiLE was the first sign of fracture in the California group.  But destiny had played a cosmic joke on the golden boys of sun and surf; darkness had bubbled under the surface since the very beginning.  Just listen to the stark loneliness of “In My Room.”  In later years, though, that darkness manifested itself as something more frightening than adolescent melancholy, from an association with a notorious killer to mental health issues.  All of those matters have been chronicled innumerable times and won’t be elaborated upon by me.  Yet a contingent of fans (the largest contingent, one might add) has “kept the summer alive” as the Beach Boys envisioned it between, say, 1962 and 1966.  “Surfin’ USA” and “I Get Around” transport these fans to a simpler, perhaps happier time.  Then there’s a smaller, though still vocal, group of younger fans weaned on Pet Sounds and snippets of SMiLE rather than, say, “Little Honda.”  These fans have allowed Brian Wilson, the “George Gershwin of pop” (he wouldn’t accept the Mozart tag, ever modest), to reconnect with the muse that produced his most deeply personal, often experimental work in those lysergic days of 1966 and 1967.

There’s much more after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 4, 2012 at 10:01