The Second Disc

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Archive for September 11th, 2012

Box Watch: Preview Videos for Deluxe Peter Gabriel, Sex Pistols Sets

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Before we close up shop at Second Disc HQ today, we thought you might want to have a look at two newly released videos showcasing two upcoming deluxe box sets. Above we see the packaging and part of the video content for Peter Gabriel’s So box set (out October 22), and below we see the book that comes with Universal’s upcoming Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols deluxe set, due in stores September 24. (The prime unreleased outtake, the unreleased demo “Belson Was a Gas” with Johnny Rotten’s original vocal track, was also released for streaming today after a premiere on BBC 6 earlier this week. Enjoy them both, and don’t forget to sound off below!

Written by Mike Duquette

September 11, 2012 at 17:11

Always Something There: Dionne Warwick Celebrates 50 Years with Bacharach, David, Ramone on “Now”

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Were there a competition to crown Most Striking Album Cover of 2012, Dionne Warwick might win it hands-down for the image adorning Now, the singer’s new album due on October 30 internationally and November 6 in North America.  Now is a celebration of Warwick’s 50 years in music, looking back on a solo career that began in 1962 with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Don’t Make Me Over.”  That song soared to No. 21 Pop/No. 5 R&B, setting Warwick on a course that would see her place more than 50 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998.  Many of those classics, of course, were penned and produced by the other two members of her “triangle marriage,” Bacharach and David, and so it’s fitting that she’s returning to their catalogues for Now.  The album, too, shall stand as a tribute to David, who passed away on September 1 at the age of 91.  Although this isn’t a catalogue release per se, its retrospective nature hopefully makes it a prime candidate for coverage here at The Second Disc!

The twelve-track album features new recordings of eight Warwick/Bacharach/David favorites, plus four songs never before performed by the singer.  Now is set apart from past remake projects (including 1998’s Dionne Sings Dionne and 2006’s duets album My Friends and Me) by the presence of Phil Ramone in the producer’s chair.  A 33-time Grammy Award nominee with 14 trophies under his belt, Ramone was an engineer on a number of Warwick’s 1960s hits recorded at his own A&R Studios in New York City.  A close ally of Bacharach’s, Ramone also engineered the original Broadway Cast Recording of Bacharach and David’s Promises, Promises, and intuitively shaped the sound of those hit records with the artist and the songwriters/producers.  He told journalist Marc Myers in 2010, “Eventually, I became Burt’s hearing frame in the control room. When he trusted me, he’d stop coming in from the studio area to discuss things. Instead, he’d just turn around after a take, and I would either give a thumbs-up or indicate we needed another one…Despite what you read, Burt wasn’t tough on Dionne. There was mutual respect between Burt, Dionne and Hal. They had a special thing, and all wanted the same result—a hit.”  Of course, they earned many such hits, including the songs re-recorded for Now, including “Don’t Make Me Over,” Reach Out for Me” (No. 1 R&B, No. 20 Pop), “Make It Easy on Yourself” (No. 37 Pop, No. 26 R&B and No. 2 AC) and “I Say a Little Prayer” (No. 4 Pop, No. 8 R&B), performed a duet between Warwick and her son, David Elliott.  Another past triumph, the multi-layered, dynamic “Are You There (with Another Girl)” was chosen for the new album at the request of none other than Stevie Wonder!

In addition to those familiar songs, Warwick is also turning her attention to two lesser-known songs from 1972’s Warner Bros. debut Dionne.  Despite a number of truly stunning songs, that album would prove to be the final collaboration between Bacharach, David and Warwick for more than a decade, with the dissolution of the Bacharach/David team leading to lawsuits between all parties.  Though time eventually healed all wounds, this fine album got lost in the shuffle, and so Dionne returns to two exquisite Bacharach/David compositions from the LP: “Be Aware” (also performed by Barbra Streisand and Laura Nyro) and “I Just Have to Breathe.”

After the jump: which four songs new to Warwick appear on Now?  Hit the jump to read on! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 11, 2012 at 13:13

Cast Your Fate to the Wind with New “Very Best of Jazz” Collections From Brubeck, Evans, Guaraldi, More

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What makes a legend most?

When it comes to the legends of jazz, Concord Music Group has that answer for you.  Earlier this year, Concord launched The Very Best Of, a new series of “Jazz 101” collections designed at an affordable price point.  These compact sets might introduce new fans to daunting catalogues, or offer longtime fans a compact sampler of a favorite artist.  The first wave of titles arrived for Miles Davis (trumpet), John Coltrane (tenor saxophone), Sonny Rollins (tenor saxophone), Chet Baker (trumpet) and Wes Montgomery (guitar), but the second group of artists is equally illustrious.  Four are pianists that would make any jazz buff’s all-star team, and one is an alto saxophone great:  Vince Guaraldi (piano), Dave Brubeck (piano), Thelonious Monk (piano), Cannonball Adderley (alto saxophone) and Bill Evans (piano), with his first Trio (Evans, Paul Motian on drums and Scott LaFaro on bass).  The rich family of labels under the Concord umbrella – including Fantasy, Milestone, Riverside and Prestige – captured many of these titanic talents before they were snapped up by larger labels, and so these compilations offer a window into their formative years, including a selection of their signature tunes.

Good grief!  Composer and pianist Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) isn’t always spoken of in the same breath as contemporaries like Brubeck, Evans or Monk (all represented in this piano-heavy quintet of releases!), most likely due to the overwhelming “crossover” success he experienced as the writer of some very famous songs: namely “Cast Your Fate to the Wind” and the Peanuts-inspired tracks “Linus and Lucy” and “Christmas Time is Here.”  Though “Cast Your Fate” netted Guaraldi a Billboard hit and a Grammy Award, its popularity was arguably eclipsed by his series of Peanuts soundtracks on which he gave jazzy life to Charles M. Schulz’s comic-strip characters.  And “Cast Your Fate” was the tune that persuaded producer Lee Mendelson to make the call to Guaraldi that led to the Peanuts jobs.  It leads off this 14-track assemblage, and remains one of the most beguiling songs ever.  Whether you think of it as jazz (its majestic piano solo certainly qualifies!) or pop, its Latin groove, shifting mood and changing tempo all still captivate.  The Very Best of Vince Guaraldi also includes the Bay Area legend’s renditions of standards from Burton Lane and Frank Loesser, and Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II, as well as his famed renditions of songs from Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfa’s Black Orpheus soundtrack.  (Another bossa nova from the pen of Jobim, “Outra Vez,” also appears, and the Brazilian legend’s influence on Guaraldi the composer and arranger is apparent.)

Needless to say, the Peanuts songs (“Linus and Lucy,” “Christmas is Coming,” “Charlie Brown Theme” and the instrumental-only “Christmas Time is Here”) occupy significant space on the collection.  How many children had their first introduction to jazz via Vince Guaraldi?  His dexterity and breezy style are recognizable on lesser-known songs like “Ginza,” with the pianist joined by Bola Sete on guitar, Monty Budwig on bass and Nick Martinez on drums.  Budwig would also play bass on “Linus and Lucy.”  A more reserved, slinky side of Guaraldi is brought out on John Lewis’ “Django,” on which he employs his trademark deceptive simplicity with another sympathetic group (Eddie Duran on guitar and Dean Reilly on bass).  All told, ten albums are excerpted from the 1956-1966 period, adding up to a primer on the man once known as “Dr. Funk” but forever immortalized as the musical voice of a boy named Charlie Brown.  (A more comprehensive career overview is also offered from Concord: 2009’s 2-CD, 31-track Definitive Vince Guaraldi.)

We’ve written often here about Bill Evans (1929-1980), one of the most-anthologized pianists ever, and a pioneer in the area of modal jazz (in which the solos build from the key, not – as is traditional – from chord changes only.)  Even while fighting considerable demons, Evans was capable of creating music both heartbreaking and beautiful, and he arguably found his most sympathetic partners when he formed his first Trio.  The music on The Very Best of the Bill Evans Trio shows how closely attuned Evans, bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian were, for the brief but incandescent period between 1959 and 1961.  LaFaro and Motian weren’t so much supporting Evans as all three gentlemen were playing as one voice, tearing down the walls in a free, post-bop environment.  Yet this groundbreaking team only recorded three dates together, resulting in two live albums and two studio albums: Portrait in Jazz, Explorations (the two studio sets), Waltz for Debby and Sunday at the Village Vanguard (the two live sets).  Any further explorations of this Bill Evans Trio were curtailed when LaFaro perished in a car accident, aged just 25, in 1961.  Evans’ grief was so great that he didn’t perform in a public setting for nearly one year after LaFaro’s death.  But oh, what music LaFaro, with Evans and Motian, left behind.

Six of the eleven tracks here are standards, sensitively reinterpreted by the Trio, including Johnny Mercer’s “Autumn Leaves,” Irving Berlin’s “How Deep is the Ocean,” and George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward’s “My Man’s Gone Now” from Porgy and Bess.  The remaining tracks are compositions by Evans (his own oft-recorded “Waltz for Debby”), LaFaro (“Gloria’s Step”), Miles Davis (“Solar” and “Nardis”).  Shortly before forming the Trio, Evans had performed with Davis on one of the most influential and successful jazz albums of all time, Kind of Blue.  “Blue in Green” was jointly credited to Davis and Evans on that album, though many (including liner notes scribe Neil Tesser) doubt Davis had much to do with it.  Evans revisited the piece sans Davis’ horn less than one year after Kind of Blue on this subtle recording from Portrait in Jazz.  All eleven tracks show the many sides of Evans: moody and intense, yes, but also deeply lyrical, highly romantic and passionately swinging.  Of course, you might just want to go out and buy all four of the Trio’s seminal recordings, but if not, this is a solid place to dip your toes into the water.

After the jump: we explore two more iconic pianists, plus the great alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 11, 2012 at 10:10

Release Round-Up: Week of September 11

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Emerson, Lake & Palmer Tarkus: Deluxe Editions (Razor & Tie)

Full review coming soon, but you should know that these are 2-CD/1-DVD sets featuring unreleased alternate takes and 5.1 surround mixes for these two classic prog-rock LPs.

Dio, Singles Box Set (UMC)

A U.K.-made collectible box replicating all of Dio’s Vertigo 12″ singles, plus the Intermission live EP and a DVD of music videos.

The English Beat, Live at The US Festival ’82 & ’83 (Shout! Factory)

Initially available as a pre-order bonus with Shout! Factory’s Complete Beat box, this CD/DVD set (featuring audio highlights from the group’s two US Festival sets and the complete shows on video) is the last piece of what’s been a great year for The Beat’s catalogue.

The Knack, Rock and Roll is Good for You: The Fieger/Averre Demos (Omnivore)

Sixteen demos spotlighting the songwriting partnership between Doug Fieger and Berton Averre (including an early version of “Good Girls Don’t”) are unleashed on disc.

Various Artists, Broadway in a Box: The Essential Broadway Musicals Collection (Masterworks Broadway)

Need a major musical fix? How about 25 of the best original cast albums ever, including My Fair LadySouth PacificWest Side Story and A Chorus Line, in one box?

The Desert Song: Studio Cast Recording (RCA/Masterworks Broadway)

The premiere CD release of this 1959 studio revival of a classic operetta.

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Out (Hybrid SACD) (Analogue)

This immortal jazz album, newly reissued by Analogue Productions, includes a brand-new stereo SACD remaster, plus the long out-of-print original Sony multi-channel mix and standard CD stereo layer. Not bad at all!

Duran Duran, The Biggest and The Best! / Yazoo, The Collection (Music Club Deluxe)

A pair of U.K. budget compilations from Demon combine hits, B-sides and album cuts from these two great ’80s bands.

David Guetta, Nothing But the Beat 2.0 (AstralWerks)

The French DJ/producer’s guest-heavy 2011 pop album gets reorganized and expanded.

Written by Mike Duquette

September 11, 2012 at 08:24