The Second Disc

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Archive for June 12th, 2012

Cool, Cool Summer: New Bananarama Compilation Due in July

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Ironically, with news of the Stock Aitken Waterman/PWL box set also comes news of one of the SAW team’s most prolific collaborators: U.K. girl group Bananarama, who are celebrating their 30th anniversary with a new CD/DVD compilation.

The band initially consisted of childhood friends Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin and schoolmate Siobhan Fahey. The trio’s mutual interest in tomboyish fashion and the burgeoning post-punk scene – leading to early gigs opening for The Jam and Iggy Pop and early interest from provocative ex-Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren – set them apart from other cute-girl pop acts of the day, and their unique musical style, which relied less on harmonics and more on catchy choruses sung in unison, became their musical calling card.

The band’s early work with producers Joffrey & Swain were instantly successful in the U.K., with hit covers like The Velvelettes’ Motown obscurity “He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin'” and Steam’s “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” reaching the uppermost levels of the pop charts. But their original tunes found many listeners, too, particularly “Robert De Niro’s Waiting” and “Cruel Summer” from the band’s sophomore self-titled album in 1984. “Cruel Summer,” which featured prominently in the film The Karate Kid, was a U.S. Top 10 hit.

Teaming with Stock Aitken Waterman in the mid-’80s, Bananarama had their biggest hits in tracks like their chart-topping cover of Shocking Blue’s “Venus” and “I Heard a Rumour.” But Fahey would depart the band in 1988, later joining Shakespeare’s Sister, and Jacquie O’Sullivan would become the band’s third member until 1992, at which point Woodward and Dallin would continue as a duo. The pair still record and tour to this day, with modern remixes of their original hits still placing well on U.K. dance charts. (A healthy amount of catalogue activity from Rhino U.K. has also kept the band in record stores, with expanded reissues, remix compilations and other products having been released in the past few years.)

Now, to commemorate the band’s three decade mark, Rhino will release a new compilation, 30 Years of Bananarama, compiling the band’s biggest hits from 1983 to 2009’s Fascination, and paired with a DVD featuring 35 of the band’s music videos, many of which are coming together on DVD for the first time.

The whole package is out July 9 in the U.K.; you can hit the jump and see what’s offered, and you’ll also find a pre-order link!

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 12, 2012 at 14:21

Burn, Baby, Burn: The Trammps Go “Definitive” From Music Club Deluxe

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At the crossroads of silky Philadelphia soul and pulse-pounding disco, you’d likely find The Trammps.  Hailing from the City of Brotherly Love, The Trammps earned their immortality when the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack included their hit “Disco Inferno.”  But that classic track is only one small part of the vocal group’s story, which is now being retold by Demon Music Group’s Music Club Deluxe label on the 2-CD, 34-track The Definitive Collection.  Boasting recordings from Atlantic, Buddah and Golden Fleece/Philadelphia International, the set aims to live up to its lofty title.

Like many of their Philly brethren, The Trammps evolved from other groups, in their case The Volcanos (who later changed their name to The Moods).  Although the group’s line-up has altered over the years, the group’s roster notably included Jimmy Ellis, Stanley Wade, Harold Wade, Robert Upchurch, and Earl Young.  Teamed with Ronnie Baker (bass) and Norman Harris (guitar), drummer Earl Young guided The Trammps to success as producers.  The Baker-Harris-Young triumvirate began as part of Philadelphia International’s MFSB house band before striking out on their own for labels such as Salsoul Records.  Their first work with The Trammps was for the Buddah label, where the group announced itself with a soulful revival of “Zing!  Went the Strings of My Heart,” a song most closely associated with the legendary Judy Garland.  Neil Bogart (future head of Casablanca Records, but then a Buddah executive) picked up “Zing…” and the record went to No. 17 on the R&B chart in Summer 1972.  Buddah later issued an LP, The Legendary Zing Album, from existing single sides, and Tom Moulton handled the remixing.

Before decamping for Salsoul, Baker-Harris-Young first established Golden Fleece under the umbrella of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International.  The Trammps scored three minor hits on Golden Fleece, all of which are heard on The Definitive Collection: the proto-disco “Love Epidemic,” (No. 75 R&B, 1973), “Where Do We Go from Here” (No. 44 R&B, 1974), and “Trusting Heart” (No. 72 R&B, 1974). Buddah continued to release material from The Trammps, though, and “Hold Back the Night” (later a hit for Graham Parker) scored on that label late in 1975 after the group had signed with Atlantic Records.  “Hooked for Life,” their initial Atlantic single, didn’t fare much better, however, hitting No. 70 R&B in the fall of 1975.

There’s more on the Trammps and this new collection after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 12, 2012 at 12:16

Never Gonna Give You Up: Iconic Pop Production Team Stock Aitken Waterman Celebrated with New Box Set

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It may have been the “flavor of the month” as European ’80s pop went, but the distinctive sounds of Stock Aitken Waterman and the PWL label was one heck of a flavor, earning a rather generous compilation/box set treatment, Pete Waterman Presents The Hit Factory: Soundtrack to a Generation  in the U.K. this summer.

Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman began working for Waterman’s PWL production company in 1984, specializing in Hi-NRG dance music by U.K. pop artists like Hazell Dean and Dead or Alive; the latter group’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” produced by the SAW team, was a No. 1 hit in the U.K. and peaked at No. 11 in the States, the first step in solidifying the team’s popularity.

When they attracted the attention of girl group Bananarama, however, things really started to take off. The SAW/PWL collective turned into England’s equivalent of the Motown assembly line, with an array of fresh-faced young talent performing peppy originals and synthed-up covers of pop classics. Several of the artists, including Rick Astley and Kylie Minogue, enjoyed major international success.

While the mainstream press usually dismissed their works as fluff, those who came of age among ’80s and ’90s pop charts do love what they heard, and have been well-suited by the odd wave of nostalgia for that sound in the form of reissues and compilations (Cherry Pop has overseen expansions of many PWL albums in recent years, along with this compilation from longtime SAW partner and engineer/mixer Phil Harding).

A PWL “Hit Factory Live” Concert to be held in London next month will feature a good amount of the artists on this new set, which will be available from Sony in the U.K. as a double-disc compilation or a triple-disc box set with a bonus CD of rare and unreleased dance mixes. Both sets will be released in England on July 9, two days ahead of the anticipated live event.

Hit the jump to take a look at all the hits on The Hit Factory!

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 12, 2012 at 11:20

Review: The Association, “The Complete Warner Bros. and Valiant Singles Collection”

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“Everyone knows” the answer to the musical question of Who’s trippin’ down the streets of the city / Smilin’ at everybody she sees?  But here’s another one: what’s the record label reaching out to capture a moment, bendin’ down to give us a rainbow?  Everyone (at least everyone reading The Second Disc!) knows it’s Now Sounds.   The Cherry Red-affiliated label has recently released the latest in its ongoing series of deluxe reissues of The Association’s catalogue, and it’s the most impressive effort yet.  The Complete Warner Bros. and Valiant Singles Collection (Now Sounds CRNOW 35D) collects every one of the A- and B-sides released by the California band on those two labels between 1965 and 1971.  After that golden six-year period, The Association never again scaled the heights of commercial success, but oh, what a rich legacy of music the group left behind!

The full range of The Association’s gift of harmony is on display over these 37 tracks, all of which are presented in their authentic single mixes (and all but two of which are in mono).  Songs like “Never My Love” and “Windy,” of course, remain oldies radio staples and deservedly so.  But the real surprise for many will come in the might-have-been tracks unfamiliar to all but longtime fans and collectors.  Whether singing lush ballads, bright pop or jangly folk-rock, The Association brought a hallmark of quality to all of its recordings, and that quality is matched by the love lavished on the band under Now Sounds’ imprimatur.  This set makes a most excellent companion to Rhino’s indispensable Just the Right Sound: The Association Anthology (2002).  We’ll meet you back after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 12, 2012 at 09:32

Release Round-Up: Week of June 12

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Dean Martin, Collected Cool (UMe)

Can you believe this is the first ever domestic, career-spanning Dino box set, pallies? And just in time for Father’s Day.

Sugar, File Under: Easy Listening – Deluxe Edition (Edsel)

The last Sugar LP, expanded with B-sides, the live album The Joke is Always on Us, Sometimes, and a DVD of videos and live footage.

Gilbert O’Sullivan, Southpaw: Deluxe EditionA Stranger in My Own Back Yard: Deluxe Edition (Salvo)

The latest in Salvo’s ongoing expansion campaign for the Irish songwriter.

Kenny Loggins, Keep the Fire: Expanded Edition (Lemon)

One of Kenny’s best solo LPs gets expanded in the U.K. with two live tracks and a “clean version” of “This is It,” which we still have no idea what that is.

Written by Mike Duquette

June 12, 2012 at 08:30

Return to Pepperland: We Have A “Yellow Submarine” Blu-Ray Winner!

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We have a winner!

Congratulations to Robbie Mercy of Clanton, Alabama!  Robbie is the recipient of a brand-new, restored Blu-Ray release of The Beatles’ 1968 animated classic Yellow Submarine, courtesy of our friends at EMI and Apple!  Robbie was one of many entrants who correctly answered this question:

One of the screenwriters of Yellow Submarine received an Academy Award nomination as writer of the highest-grossing film in the United States of 1970. Name the writer and the smash hit film!

The screenwriter was, of course, Erich Segal, and the film was Love Story!

Thanks to all who entered our contest.  Be sure to watch this space for a review of Yellow Submarine coming soon!

Written by Joe Marchese

June 12, 2012 at 08:27