The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 10th, 2012

Bourbon Street Parade: New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band Celebrated In New Box Set

with one comment

726 St. Peter Street in New Orleans, Louisiana doesn’t look like much.  But beyond its weathered, nondescript exterior, the venerable building named Preservation Hall has hosted some of the finest and most exciting music to ever emerge from the storied French Quarter.   Many musicians have spread the gospel of New Orleans music as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for 50 years, and the anniversary isn’t going unnoticed.  Legacy Recordings has just announced The Preservation Hall 50th Anniversary Collection, a 4-CD box set which will arrive in stores on September 25.  With five previously unreleased tracks and guest appearances from Tom Waits, Pete Seeger and Richie Havens, the box is the most comprehensive survey yet of the group’s timeless, spirited music, spanning the period between 1962 and 2010.

It’s a testament to the legacy of Preservation Hall that patrons still line up every night to attend despite the facility’s lack of the standard amenities for a concert venue.  Preservation Hall serves no drinks, and even lacks air conditioning.  But one thing remains: the music.   The building, which even survived the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, has over the years served as an art gallery, a photography studio and even a tavern during the War of 1812.  As the 1960s dawned, art gallery owner Larry Borenstein began inviting his musician friends to the building for local jam sessions.  Out of those informal gatherings grew the concept of Preservation Hall.  Allan and Sandra Jaffe took over the Hall and turned it into an institution, and it’s their son Ben that continues the tradition today as director.  Though Allan Jaffe (1935-1987) hailed from Pennsylvania, he became a Crescent City legend when he and his wife took over the lease of the historic building.   In the liner notes, Ben Jaffe writes that his parents had “the idea of…formalizing the jam sessions into organized, nightly performances by the living legends of New Orleans Music, most of which had been forgotten, locked out by changes in the social landscape and the bottom line hustle of Bourbon Street.”  Allan Jaffe even sat in as a tuba player (in lieu of string bass) at sessions, and famed jazzmen from Louis Armstrong to Jelly Roll Morton performed with band members.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band began touring in 1963, but it wasn’t just one unit.  Many groups kept the torch burning for classic New Orleans jazz under that moniker.  Atlantic Records’ jazz guru Nesuhi Ertegun was captivated by what he discovered on a 1962 trip to New Orleans, and Atlantic would issue four LPs of the original band’s work, three of which are represented on the new box set.  Another Louisiana legend, Cosimo Matassa, served as Ertegun’s engineer for these seminal recordings.  These albums truly captured an era gone by, as evidenced by the ages of the musicians present for the sessions:  ‘Papa’ John Joseph (85), Alcide ‘Slow Drag’ Pavageau (74), George Lewis (62), Punch Miller (68), Big Jim Robinson (69), Emanuel Sayles (55), Billie (55) and De De Pierce (58), and Louis Nelson (59).  The Preservation Hall Jazz Band has always given its due to the elder statesmen of jazz.

By 1964, Jaffe had launched his own Preservation Hall Recordings label; in 1976, he signed the band to CBS Records (now under the Sony Music umbrella).  At CBS, four more LPs were issued over the next decade.  Future albums would come from Sony’s Masterworks division, as well as on the reactivated Preservation Hall label.  2010’s Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall & the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program continued the tradition of inviting musicians of all stripes to join in, and the album featured guest appearances from Dr. John, Pete Seeger, Andrew Bird, Yim Yames, Richie Havens, Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, Merle Haggard and more.  The tracks from Seeger, Yames, Bird and Waits re-appear on the new box set.  Bluegrass star Del McCoury was another guest on Preservation, and continued his association with the band via a 2009 album, American Legacies, joining his band with Preservation Hall’s.  Two tracks from that collaboration also appear.

Hit the jump for more details including the scoop on the unreleased tracks, full track listing with discography and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 10, 2012 at 13:42

Review: The Beat, “I Just Can’t Stop It,” “Wha’ppen?” and “Special Beat Service” Expanded Editions

with 3 comments

When the members of The Beat had the opportunity to create their own record label, the six-piece unit (“Ranking” Roger Charlery on vocals and toasting, Dave Wakeling on vocals and guitar, Andy Cox on guitar, Everett Morton on drums, David Steele on bass and Lionel Augustus Martin a.k.a. Saxa on – what else? – saxophone!) chose “Go Feet Records” as its moniker.  Now, roughly 32 years after the band’s first album was released, it will still have your feet going in wild and unexpected directions.  I Just Can’t Stop It, and follow-ups Wha’ppen? (1981) and Special Beat Service (1982), have all just received deluxe 2-CD/1-DVD reissues from the U.K.’s Edsel label.  And although the esteemed Shout! Factory label has launched its own reissue program in the U.S. for the band under its American name of The English Beat, it can fairly be said that the Edsel series is, truly, definitive.  These titles generally follow the format of Edsel’s recent, highly-acclaimed Jesus and Mary Chain 2-CD/1-DVD sets, and are every bit as lavish and comprehensive.

This band of Brummies could only have been a product of its time, but the grooves of The Beat remain so relevant that competing U.S. and U.K. factions still tour today headed by Wakeling and Charlery, respectively.  Here, then, is the band at its most authentic.  The Beat’s sound fused the aggressive, often contentious energy of punk with the languid grooves of reggae and ska, and far from being an incongruous match, the stylistic melding worked.  The Beat has been grouped with other similarly-influenced 2 Tone ska revival bands like Madness, The Specials and The Selecter (the latter two of which were even name-checked on the original LP), but The Beat also drew on pop, Motown and R&B sounds.  Of course, as in any vibrant music scene, everybody was influencing everybody else, hence many of the same tendencies and inspirations are evident in music from artists ranging from Elvis Costello (who actually produced The Specials) to The Clash.

Most songs on I Just Can’t Stop It (Edsel EDSG 8016) are group compositions, and all show the stylistic diversity at hand.  Today, the album jars for its incisive, dark lyrics (a hallmark shared by Costello) juxtaposed with felicitous melodies, even more ripe for dancing in the extended mixes contained on the bonus discs.  Besides the desire to mix “the energy of punk and the groove of dub in a three-minute single,” The Beat made clear its mission statement to embrace the personal as well as the political.  It’s those songs emphasizing the latter that give the album much of its primal power.  Musically, the band takes a violent approach to the resolutely non-violent “Two Swords” (“I’ve never been one for the punch-ups/But look, I really hate them Nazis/A certain something starts to wind me up/How could I hate them oh so violently?”) and there’s no shying away from the edgy venom of “Twist and Crawl.” The English class system has long been a source of fascination and frustration for writers, artists and musicians, and the Beat made their views clear in “Big Shot” : “Yes, I’ve seen you go to work in your big car/Yes, you’re fat and can afford to be tasteless/You’re a big shot…”

1979 was the year of Margaret Thatcher’s ascendancy to the role of British Prime Minister, and The Beat couldn’t let that momentous occasion go unrecognized; with its prominent reggae beat, “Whine and Grine” morphs into the rather blunt “Stand Down, Margaret.” It makes the band’s feelings for the newly-appointed P.M. clear even as they preach “love and unity.”  It’s incredibly effective, and as lacking in subtlety as Elvis Costello’s “Tramp the Dirt Down,” Morrissey’s “Margaret on the Guillotine” or even Elton John and Lee Hall’s “Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher.”  Adding to the unsettling atmosphere is the unrestrained paranoia of “Mirror in the Bathroom” and the twitchy ferocity of “Click Click”: “Itchy finger, finger, trigger, trigger, click, click!”

Yet “Hands Off She’s Mine” (also issued as a single) revealed a pop sophistication and a keenly-structured song with killer saxophone solos, while The Beat brought a whole new dimension, and a sweetness, too, to the already-irresistible melody of Andy Williams’ “Can’t Get Used to Losing You.”   Saxa wails over the chill, almost bossa-nova groove of the Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman song, a hit for Williams on both sides of the Atlantic in 1963.  It’s one of the best tracks the band ever recorded and also one of the most unexpected.  The chiming guitars of the lyrically-pointed “Best Friend” (“I just found out the name of your best friend/You been talkin’ about yourself again/And no one seems to share your views”) even recall the mid-60s pop of bands such as The Byrds.  Indeed, there’s a great diversity of influences on I Just Can’t Stop It: “Rough Rider” and “Whine” came the songbook of Prince Buster, a ska and rocksteady pioneer.

What’s on the bonus disc?  And how about the other two reissues?  Click, click on the jump for more Beat! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 10, 2012 at 10:18

Posted in Reissues, Reviews, The Beat, The English Beat

Tagged with

Release Round-Up: Week of July 10

leave a comment »

Bananarama, 30 Years of Bananarama (Rhino U.K.)

The U.K. division of Rhino compiles the best of the “Venus” hitmakers in this CD/DVD package out today in the U.K. and next week stateside!  Read more here.

The Beat, I Just Can’t Stop It/Wha’ppen?/Special Beat Service (Demon/Edsel)

The complete studio output of The Beat (or The English Beat, if you prefer) gets the deluxe reissue treatment in the U.K. from Edsel as 2-CD/1-DVD sets chock-filled with extra material!  Don’t miss our review of all three sets!

The Beat, The Complete Beat/Keep the Beat: The Very Best of the English Beat (Shout! Factory)

For the U.S. market, Shout! Factory boxes the English Beat’s three studio albums, plus two discs of rarities!   In addition, the label is offering a single-disc distillation of the group’s greatest!  Read more here.

The Fat Boys, Fat Boys: Deluxe Edition (Tin Pan Apple Records)

The eponymous debut of Brooklyn’s Fat Boys gets boxed…pizza-boxed, that is.  Read more here.

Woody Guthrie, Woody at 100: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Collection (Smithsonian Folkways)

The legendary folk troubadour gets the box set treatment from Folkways with this career-spanning 3-CD anthology!  The box also includes a lavish hardcover tribute; read all about it here!

Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Plays Berkeley/Live at Berkeley/West Coast Seattle Boy: Voodoo Child (Legacy Recordings)

Legacy and Experience Hendrix are celebrating the icon’s 70th birthday year with an extended DVD and Blu-ray release of Jimi Plays Berkeley plus the Blu-ray debut of the documentary Voodoo Child and a return to the catalogue for the CD edition of Live at Berkeley: The Second Show!  Read more here, and watch this space for Joe’s review of Jimi Plays Berkeley coming soon!

Carly Simon, Spoiled Girl: Expanded Edition (Hot Shot Records)

The songstress’ 1985 Epic Records album has been reissued and re-evaluated by the team at Hot Shot Records, and this expanded edition reveals a lost classic!  Read the review here.

Written by Joe Marchese

July 10, 2012 at 08:05