The Second Disc

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Archive for July 31st, 2012

Lively Up Yourself: Marley’s Dub Mixes Released on CD by Island

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In a year which saw a new Bob Marley compilation with some rare material surface (to tie in with the recent Marley documentary film, due on DVD and Blu-Ray next Tuesday), Universal has again gone into the reggae legend’s vaults for a new compilation focusing on Marley and The Wailers’ dub mixes.

Dub, a subgenre of reggae with an emphasis on rhythm tracks, would enjoy heavy crossover appeal by the middle of the 1980s. But during The Wailers’ heyday, dub was consigned to some of the more innovative studio musicians of Jamaica, from King Tubby to Lee “Scratch” Perry. The Wailers’ dub mixes were often hard to find, rarely appearing outside of local dub plate singles on Marley’s Tuff Gong Records; some were never even released until the deluge of reissues and anthologies following Marley’s unexpected death in 1981.

As it stands, about seven of the 11 tracks on In Dub, Volume 1 have never been before released on a physical album. (This set was released as a digital download in 2010.) One newly-created mix, “Lively Up Your Dub,” has been created by noted reggae producer Scientist just for this set. And physical consumers rejoice! In Dub, Volume 1 (the promised first in a series) is available now on CD or vinyl. Hit the jump to order your copies and have a look at the track list.

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 31, 2012 at 16:20

Review: Elvis Presley, “I Am An Elvis Fan”

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RCA Victor famously trumpeted back in 1959 that 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong in compiling the singer’s hit singles from 1958-1959.  Well, can 250,000 Elvis fans be wrong?  Earlier this year, Elvis Presley Enterprises and Legacy Recordings gave today’s crop of fans a chance to vote on their favorites from the King’s rich catalogue.  Over a quarter million votes were tabulated; do you agree with the final picks?  The results are now on display via I Am an Elvis Fan (RCA/Legacy 88725 42334 2).  It includes 21 selections in seven categories: 1950s, 1960s, Country, Movies, Love Songs, Gospel and In Concert.  As such, it offers a look at many facets of the great man’s all-too-short but infinitely influential career, but it’s also neither fish nor fowl in the crowded landscape of Presley anthologies.

It would be impossible for one disc to encapsulate all of Presley’s hits, though 2002’s 30 # 1 Hits is darn close to one-stop shopping, with the following year’s 2nd to None a most suitable companion.  (Consider: iconic tracks like “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “If I Can Dream” and “Kentucky Rain” are all on the second album.)  Hits are plentiful on I Am an Elvis Fan, but it’s certainly not comprehensive in that regard.  Few collections, though, could boast the nonstop power of the compilation’s first four tracks, segueing from the ‘50s category into Movies: “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “All Shook Up” and “Jailhouse Rock.”  These are among the songs that catapulted Presley into the American consciousness, to a position which he still hasn’t vacated to this day.

None of the tracks on I Am an Elvis Fan are particularly rare, and it’s hard to believe that a serious Elvis fan wouldn’t already have all of them on one CD or another.  But to the casual fan (for whom this set has been tailor-made) it’s an introduction to, or reminder of, the qualities that made Presley such a startling innovator.  Contrary to popular belief, his era-defining approach to rock-and-roll didn’t come out of nowhere.  Instead, Presley’s earliest sides synthesized “black” rhythm and blues with “white” melodic American pop, with healthy dollops of country, bluegrass and perhaps most significantly, gospel.  Every one of those strains can be found on this compilation.  It’s no wonder that some of the categories used to select the songs here overlap!

Hit the jump for much more on The King! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 31, 2012 at 15:12

Posted in Compilations, Elvis Presley, News, Reviews

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Mike Oldfield Celebrated in August with New Deluxe Reissues, Compilation

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Mike Oldfield was always more than “Tubular Bells.” The 59-year-old multi-instrumentalist has continued to put out diverse, challenging music long after his signature tune was released nearly 40 years ago. In recent years, Universal Music Enterprises has done a great job of anthologizing Oldfield’s work with expanded editions of his early works for Virgin Records; on August 14, not only will two new deluxe editions be released, but a brand-new career spanning compilation will hit stores as well.

UMe will next expand Platinum and QE2, Oldfield’s last album of the 1970s and first of the 1980s, respectively. While Platinum saw Oldfield still pursuing progressive arrangements, as evidenced by the four-part suite on the first half of the record, he also started dabbling in reactions to popular sounds, including a cover of George and Ira Gershwin’s standard “I Got Rhythm,” the reactionary “Punkadiddle” and others. Oldfield would also have great success with non-LP singles, including disco track “Guilty” and the theme to the long-running British children’s program Blue Peter. (In America, Platinum was remixed and resequenced as Airborn.) The expanded Platinum features “Blue Peter” and unreleased versions of parts of the Platinum suite, as well as a live show from London’s Wembley Arena in 1980.

Follow-up album QE2 (named for the luxury ocean liner) furthers Oldfield’s straddling between prog and pop, with covers of ABBA’s “Arrival” and The Shadows’ “Wonderful Land” in the mix. This expanded edition also features two non-LP tracks (including the single version of “Wonderful Land”), a new reworking of the album cut “Sheba” and another live disc from the ambitious Adventure Tour in Europe.

Finally, the double-disc Two Sides: The Very Best of Mike Oldfield offers a thorough and diverse overview of Oldfield’s career, including hits for Virgin (“Tubular Bells,” “Guilty,” “Family Man,” “Moonlight Shadow”) and latter-day works released by Warner Bros. and Mercury.

You can order all three titles after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 31, 2012 at 14:22

Gold Legion Expands Titles by Laura Branigan, Grace Jones

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The Gold Legion label has two expanded titles coming from a pair of disco and dance legends this fall.

Expect remastered and expanded editions of the late, great Laura Branigan’s Branigan (1982) and Self Control (1984) albums, as well as reissues of Inside Story (1986) and Bulletproof Heart (1989) from Grace Jones, this September.

Branigan, the big-voiced New Yorker with a four-octave range, burst onto the scene in 1982 with the release of Branigan, a solid offering of dance-rock bolstered by a cover of “Gloria,” an Italian pop hit for Umberto Tozzi in 1979. Branigan’s iconic, addictive single spent an extraordinary 36 weeks on the U.S. charts, peaking at No. 2 and earning her a Grammy nomination. Branigan’s embrace of European musical trends and songcraft netted her greater success as the ’80s rolled on, first with a French pop song, “Solitaire,” translated into English by a rising lyricist named Diane Warren; then with “Self Control,” a hard-driving song co-written by Italian pop star Raffaele “Raf” Riefoli that was a Top 5 hit in 1984. The expansion of Branigan features the 12″ version of “Gloria” as well as 1981 non-LP single “Looking Out for Number One,” while Self Control features remixes of the title track and singles “Satisfaction” and “The Lucky One.”

Gold Legion then turns its attention to an oft-overlooked period for iconic dance musician/model/actress Grace Jones. The striking Miss Jones took on her biggest film role in 1985 as the mysterious May Day in the James Bond film A View to a Kill, and would end her longtime association with Island Records with the bestselling Island Life compilation. The next year, she took up with producer Nile Rodgers (ironically, a missed encounter at Studio 54 inspired Rodgers and Bernard Edwards to write massive hit “Le Freak” during their tenue in CHIC) and released Inside Story on EMI-owned Manhattan Records. The LP spawned a sizable U.S. dance hit in “I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect for You),” co-written by British songwriter Bruce Woolley (who co-wrote Jones’ hit “Slave to the Rhythm”). Follow-up album Bulletproof Heart was produced by a number of dance producers, including Jonathan Elias, Jones’ then-husband Chris Stanley and up-and-coming dance hitmakers Robert Clivillés and David Cole (the individual letters in the C+C Music Factory outfit). While the album was not a commercial success and would remain her last LP for nearly 20 years, it’s finally getting its due on CD, with three bonus remixes to boot. (Five remixes appear on Inside Story.)

Both Branigan discs and Bulletproof Heart will be available on September 18, with Inside Story following a week later. The initial 1,000 copies of each Grace Jones album will feature a special cardboard slipcase, and all sets will have expanded booklets. Hit the jump to explore these titles and place your orders!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 31, 2012 at 12:50

Surf’s Up! “Surf Age Nuggets” Box Coming from RockBeat, Plus: Billy Gibbons, Dickie Goodman and a Visit to Southfork!

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RockBeat Records is back!  The label, founded by by Arny Schorr of S’more Entertainment and employing James Austin in the same capacity in which he served at Rhino Records (Vice President of A&R), has already delivered music from an eclectic roster of artists including Jackie DeShannon, Glen Campbell and Todd Rundgren.  The RockBeat team has just announced four new projects that are every bit as stylistically diverse as one might expect from the label: a box set of surf music classics, anthologies of ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons’ early band The Moving Sidewalks and novelty record king Dickie Goodman, and a reissued record dedicated to the music of television’s Dallas!  All four titles are due on September 25.

Perhaps the most exciting title in this quartet is the 4-CD box set Surf-Age Nuggets.  Housed in a large box which will also contain a book annotated by compilation producer Austin, the compilation includes instrumental classics from the period between 1959 and 1966.  Though a complete track listing is not yet available, the box promises to include such trailblazing bands as Dick Dale & the Del-Tones, Bobby Fuller, the Velvetones, the Shan-Tones, the Valiants, the Ramrods, the Surf Teens, and the Royal Coachmen.  Expect to hear plenty of twangy electric guitars and Fender bass, tremolo effects and reverb on this tour of the influential music that emerged from the Southern California scene as the 1960s began.  RockBeat assures that many obscure tracks will appear on this set designed to reflect the period when “music, sport and teenage lifestyle came together and…the attitude that surfing has always been a “rebel sport.”

After the jump: What was Billy Gibbons up to, pre-ZZ Top?  And it’s a Ewing family get-together!  Plus, Dickie Goodman meets Batman, Jaws, E.T. and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 31, 2012 at 10:10

Release Round-Up: Week of July 31

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Frank Zappa, Official Reissues #1-13 (Zappa/UMe)

The iconoclastic musician’s catalogue is back in print thanks to a new agreement with Universal, and his first 13 albums (most of them newly remastered from the original analog masters) are available today. Joe gave us a great breakdown of what’s what on these new masters, which also has convenient links to both these new titles and the forthcoming second wave of remasters next month.

Blur, Blur 21 (Virgin/EMI)

21 refers not only to the legendary British band’s lifespan to date, but the amount of discs in this collection: all seven studio albums expanded with bonus discs (which are available separately, if that’s your thing), plus another four discs of rarities and three mostly live DVDs.

Neil Diamond, Hot August Night: 40th Anniversary Edition (Geffen/UMe)

Hard to believe it’s been 40 years since Neil’s second, terrific live LP was issued! This two-disc edition adds four unreleased tracks, offering just about every minute of that fateful night at LA’s Greek Theatre.

Elvis Presley, I Am An Elvis Fan (RCA/Legacy)

The latest Elvis compilation was fan-sourced, leading to some slightly different track choices than your typical Elvis fare, including a nice handful of live cuts from the latter half of the King’s career.

Charles Mingus, The Complete Columbia & RCA Studio Albums Collection / The Thelonious Monk Quartet, The Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection / Weather Report, The Complete Columbia Albums 1971-1975 (Columbia/Legacy)

PopMarket’s latest complete boxes showcase some of the best jazz/fusion players to ever grace the Columbia label, and there are some great surprises in these boxes, including two rare tracks in the Mingus box and the first-ever domestic release of a Japanese live album in the Weather Report set.

20/20, 2o/20/Look Out! ; Clover, Clover/Fourty Niner ; Jimmy Griffin, Summer Holiday: Expanded Edition ; Sanford & Townsend, Smoke from a Distant Fire/Nail Me to the Wall ; Charles Bukowski, Charles Bukowski Reads His Poetry ; Jackie Gleason, Music for Lovers Only (Real Gone)

A diverse selection of releases from the eclectic reissue label: “The Great One,” the future Bread frontman, an American poet, a future Elvis Costello backing band and more!

Various Artists, Good Vibrations: The Beach Boys Songbook (Columbia/Sony Music Japan)

A quirky compilation from Japan (on Blu-Spec CD, no less) featuring some intriguing Beach Boys covers from the likes of Todd Rundgren, The Tokens, Andy Williams and others.