The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for September 13th, 2012

King Crimson, Jethro Tull Prepare Super Deluxe Box Sets For “Larks’ Tongues” and “Thick as a Brick”

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The Super Deluxe stakes continue to be raised with the announcement of two more mega-boxes due before 2012 is out: (greatly!) expanded editions of King Crimson’s 1973 Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, and Jethro Tull’s 1972 Thick as a Brick.  Both albums were the fifth studio effort of their respective bands, both are landmarks of the progressive rock genre, and both are being revisited with new 5.1 surround mixes crafted by Steven Wilson.  The Porcupine Tree founder was also behind the recent remixes of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s first two albums, reviewed here.

Larks’ Tongues in Aspic marked the debut of King Crimson’s third iteration, in which founder and guitarist Robert Fripp was joined by new members John Wetton (vocals, bass guitar), David Cross (violin, Mellotron), Jamie Muir (percussion), and Bill Bruford (drums), formerly of Yes.  It also proved to be the only album recorded by this quintet.  The 7,000-unit limited edition 40th Anniversary Super Deluxe box set promises to include “every known recording by this band,” and may be the single biggest box yet dedicated to a single album.  Its contents are as follows:

  • 8 CDs of live material from the German & UK Autumn 1972 tour, primarily derived from “audio-restored bootlegs”;
  • 1 CD live performance in the studio;
  • 4 CDs dedicated to the original album, including a new stereo album mix, alternate takes/mixes, the original 30th anniversary master and audio extras, plus an audio documentary CD drawn from the original session multi-tracks featuring the first take of every piece on the album;
  • DVD-A (compatible with all DVD players & DVD Rom players) features a 5.1 DTS Mix and High Resolution Stereo mixes (24bit/48khz) with 5.1 Advanced Resolution (Lossless audio) mix on DVD-A layer.  Includes the original album mix, new album mix and an album’s worth of alternate mixes by Steven Wilson in High Resolution stereo. DVD-A also features over 30 minutes of rare, previously unseen footage of the band;
  • Blu-Ray with entirety of DVD-A content plus additional Hi-Res content, all in lossless 24/96 DTS-HD master sound;
  • 12″ box with booklet, memorabilia, album print & concert download.

For those who don’t need 15 discs of prime Crimson, the set will also be offered as a CD/DVD-A edition (similar to previous reissues from the band, with the 2012 mix and selected audio extras, plus the high-resolution content) and a 2-CD set with the original and new mixes, plus selected extras.  In any format, the high quality of the band’s past reissues makes these releases all highly-anticipated.  The new Larks’ Tongues in Aspic are due in stores on October 15.

After the jump: Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick is revisited, plus pre-order links and track listings! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 13, 2012 at 15:59

Sonic Youth to (Sort of) Return with 1985 Live Set

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The future may be incredibly uncertain for iconic alt-rockers Sonic Youth, following last year’s separation of founding members Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. But fans will certainly be satiated with a forthcoming release of an archival concert from the band.

Smart Bar, Chicago 1985 captures the band in the midst of touring behind their sophomore album, Bad Moon Rising, released earlier that spring. On August 11, 1985, the band played Chicago’s Smart Bar, armed with much of the new album in their set (“Death Valley ’69,” “Ghost Bitch,” “I Love Her All the Time”), some non-LP material (“Hallowe’en,” “Flower”) and some material from not only debut LP Sonic Death (“Kill Yr Idols,” “Brother James”) but two songs that would be released on 1986’s EVOL (“Secret Girl,” “Expressway to Yr Skull”). There’s also one never-before-released track, “Kat ‘N’ Hat,” in the set list.

The set, recorded live to four-track and mastered by the band, features new liner notes by Gerald Cosloy (who worked with the band during their tenure at Homestead Records, who released Bad Moon Rising) and band engineer Aaron Mullin. It’s set for release on the band’s own Goofin’ Records label as a CD, double-vinyl LP and download on November 14. May it hopefully be the first of several discussed Sonic Youth archival projects, including an unreleased 1986 concert film and deluxe reissue of 1987’s Sister.

Hit the jump for the full track list and keep an eye out for pre-order links as they come in.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 13, 2012 at 14:58

Posted in News, Reissues, Sonic Youth

They Will Rock You: Queen Musical Cast Recording to Be Expanded for 10th Anniversary

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For all their theatricality, it was only recently that Queen were commemorated with a full-blown musical. Now, in honor of the tenth anniversary of that endeavor, We Will Rock You, a newly-remastered and expanded edition of the original cast recording is due from Island in the United Kingdom.

Conceived by Queen and Ben Elton (a onetime stand-up comedian and television writer in the U.K.), We Will Rock You details the trials of youth in a dystopic future who rebel against rigid societal norms and unleash the power of – you guessed it! – the music of Queen. Sure, it sounds crazy, and critics never had much of a kind word for the production. But it still runs in the West End’s Dominion Theater – the longest-running show at the largest venue in England’s theater district – and has spun off around two dozen performing and touring companies across Europe, with a 10th anniversary arena tour set to begin in May 2013.

It’s in that spirit that the We Will Rock You cast album is expanded, pairing a new remaster of the original London cast album with a bonus disc of recordings by various casts around the world, including exclusive bonus tracks and foreign-language recordings featured on Australian, German and Spanish cast albums and live performances by the British and German casts featuring Brian May and Roger Taylor themselves.

This new reissue is due out October 15 and can be ordered (as an import-only title) after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 13, 2012 at 14:12

Pretty Paper: Willie, Elvis, Luther, John Denver, More Collect Holiday Best on “Classic Christmas Album” Releases

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Sleigh bells ring – are you listening?

Legacy Recordings certainly hopes you are, as a bounty of new holiday-themed collections is coming your way.  The first Classic Christmas Album arrived last year, a compilation of Christmas favorites from Tony Bennett (including a previously-unreleased version of “What Child is This?”).  More titles are on the horizon to make spirits bright this year, and we have details on five of them to share right now, with more news to come!  On October 2, Legacy will release newly-compiled sets from Elvis Presley, John Denver, Kenny G, Willie Nelson and Luther Vandross.  Each new collection offers 14 or more freshly-remastered tracks spanning the career of each artist, all of whom recorded multiple holiday albums, as well as contributing the odd holiday song elsewhere.

Perhaps the most-anthologized of these artists is Presley.  With faith always paramount to the singer, he recorded a holiday album early in his career, via 1957’s Elvis’ Christmas Album.  Elvis’ fourth album, it consisted of eight Christmas songs and four gospel traditionals which had previously been released on the Peace in the Valley EP.  Seven of those eight tunes (all save “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”) reappear on his Classic Christmas Album.  Seven more tracks come from his second holiday long-player, 1971’s The Wonderful World of Christmas, which was itself expanded last year by Follow That Dream.  It’s rounded out by two tracks from 2008’s posthumous Christmas Duets and a 1966 single, “If Every Day Was Like Christmas.”  Presley’s Christmas repertoire has been collected in every conceivable repackaging, perhaps most notably RCA’s 1994 If Every Day Was Like Christmas, but this new compilation is a reasonable place to start one’s immersion in the King’s Christmas magic.

You’ll find John Denver, Willie Nelson, Luther Vandross and Kenny G after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 13, 2012 at 13:16

Led Zeppelin’s 2007 Reunion Concert to Be Released in November (UPDATED WITH PRE-ORDER LINKS)

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It was the reunion everyone wanted, but possibly never expected. On December 10, 2007, at London’s O2 Arena, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham (John’s son) took the stage as Led Zeppelin for the first time since the band broke up in 1980. (Page, Plant and Jones had several tepidly-received reunions in the ’80s, one at Live Aid and one at the Atlantic Records 40th anniversary concert, but none were considered by the band to be true Led Zeppelin performances.) It was the passing of Ahmet Ertegun, Atlantic Records founder and mentor to the group, that got them together, and the 16-song set was a fitting tribute to the musical icon.

This year, five years after that landmark performance before some 16,000 attendees, Atlantic Records is finally making that concert available to the public as Celebration Day. It’s a fitting tribute for one of the heaviest bands in the world, with an international theatrical release planned starting October 17, followed by a multi-format release on November 19.

On September 21, the full release plan for Celebration Day was announced. The show will be featured as:

  • A two-disc “music only” edition
  • “Standard” audiovisual sets, the two audio CDs with the concert on DVD or Blu-Ray disc
  • Deluxe editions: 2-CD/2-DVD and 2-CD/1-DVD/1-BD editions will feature an additional DVD “featuring exclusive bonus video content including the Shepperton rehearsals and BBC news footage”
  • A music-only edition on Blu-Ray, “featuring high-resolution 48K 24-bit PCM stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound” (link forthcoming)
  • A 180-gram triple-vinyl edition (link forthcoming)
  • A digital download

The set list and pre-order links (in case you missed them up top) are after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 13, 2012 at 10:47

Posted in DVD, Led Zeppelin, News, Vinyl

Review: Emerson, Lake and Palmer, “Emerson, Lake and Palmer” and “Tarkus” Expanded Editions

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Ooh, what a lucky man I am!  Chances are you will be, too, if you’ve been anticipating the just-launched series of deluxe reissues from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, available now from Razor and Tie in the U.S. and Sony Music internationally.  It’s back to the very beginning for the progressive rock supergroup, with 1970’s eponymous debut and 1971’s Tarkus both having been revisited in 2-CD/1-DVD editions as you’ve never heard them before.

Keith Emerson (organ/synthesizer/piano), Greg Lake (bass/guitars/vocals) and Carl Palmer (drums/percussion) were all young music veterans when they joined forces.  Emerson was a founding member of The Nice, Lake an integral part of King Crimson, and Palmer an alumnus of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Chris Farlowe and the Thunderbirds.  ELP wasn’t the first time these musicians had desired to push the envelope in popular music, but the marshaled powers of all three created a legacy that places them at the vanguard of progressive rock.  The genre itself was an answer to the compact pop song that dominated the United Kingdom charts.  The so-called prog-rockers found expression via classically and psychedelically inspired forays into longer song forms, symphonic instrumentation, and “heavy” sounds.  For their mighty debut together, Emerson, Lake and Palmer combined classical (the grandeur of each composition), jazz (the free-form melodic explorations) and rock (the raw, primal power of just the trio).

These new editions are set apart from past reissues as they offer numerous ways to approach each album.  Both ELP and Tarkus offer three distinct versions of the album: the original LP, in freshly remastered form; a 2012 Alternate Version in stereo (on both CD and DVD-A); and a new 5.1 mix.  Each set contains the original vinyl mix on CD 1, remastered by Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham.  CD 2 is dedicated to an all-new Alternate album.  Producer Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree (also the man behind the impressive, recent series of King Crimson CD/DVD-A sets) was given carte blanche to re-envision these seminal albums originally produced by Greg Lake, and the Alternate Versions of both ELP and Tarkus include bonus tracks.  But in the case of ELP, Wilson was forced to leave some material from the original LP off, as original multi-track masters no longer exist, precluding a remix being created.  The third disc is in the DVD-Audio format, and contains a brand-new 5.1 mix of all available album tracks by Wilson, plus the Alternate Version in high-resolution stereo.  (See below for complete track listings for each version.)

Of course, in any version, these albums, both produced by Lake (and “arranged and directed” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer) remain stone-cold classics of the genre.  Of the original LP mix and the 2012 Alternate, which will you prefer?  It will largely depend on your familiarity with the original, and your willingness or desire to see it approached from a different angle.  One thing is clear, however: Wilson has remixed these albums with utmost respect for the material.

1970’s ELP planted the seeds for the continued growth of the group’s sounds, a mélange of classical, jazz and heavy rock sounds.  It’s primarily instrumental, though not without sung fragments and fully developed songs.  Though album-opening “The Barbarian” (adapted from music by influential 20th century classical composer Béla Bartók) isn’t conventionally melodic, it’s wholly stirring in ELP’s hands, rhythmically pulsating and majestic; a jazz interlude only adds to its grand ambition.  Yet, for all its unflinching tension, anchored by Lake’s furious bass, Emerson’s charged piano and Palmer’s lightning-speed drums, it’s ultimately a curtain-raiser.  “Take a Pebble,” the band’s first original song to be written and rehearsed, was developed by Lake and Emerson from a pre-ELP song Lake had written, and has the feel of a folk ballad altered into something much bigger: “Just take a pebble and cast it to the sea/Then watch the ripples that come float into me…”  Emerson, Lake and Palmer would continue to take a transformative approach to compositions of varying origins.    Clocking in at over twelve minutes’ length, it’s an exercise in theme and variations that compels the listener to pay close attention.

“Knife-Edge” was arranged by Emerson from music by Leoš Janáček and J. S. Bach, with lyrics by Emerson and Robert Fraser, bringing a recognizably rock dimension on the organ to this classical piece.  Emerson’s “The Three Fates” might be the album’s pièce de résistance, a three-part suite.  The first section, “Clotho,” features the virtuoso on an organ recorded at London’s Royal Festival Hall, while his gorgeous piano reigns on “Lachesis.”  The third segment, “Atropos,” features pianos and percussion locked into a percolating Latin groove.  Another pre-ELP song to be given a new life was “Lucky Man,” according to legend written by Lake when he was just twelve years of age.  Regardless of its origin, it’s a stunning pop achievement, complete with vocal harmonies.  The gentle acoustic ballad was given the ELP touch with its far-out Moog solo.  It’s one of the two shortest tracks on the original LP and perhaps the band’s best known song, even though it sounds altogether unlike the rest of the album.  No matter, though; its shimmering folk balladry capped off a diverse debut.  (And “Lucky Man” was extracted from the album to become a successful single.)

The new Alternate Version of ELP offers numerous distinctions even beyond the crisp mix, which provides clear, equal emphasis on all instruments.  But only the third section of “The Three Fates,” entitled “Atropos,” is present.  “Tank,” with a solo drum showcase for Palmer, has also been removed from the sequence.  “Knife-Edge” features an extended outro.  A previously unreleased version of Mussorgsky’s “Promenade” recorded during the album sessions has been restored; the song, of course, was later recut for 1971’s “live” Pictures at an Exhibition.  Perhaps to replace “Tank,” “Rave-Up” and “Drum Solo” have also been added.  These seamless pieces are fast, furious and in your face, with aggressive playing.  Palmer’s drums come on like machine guns in the former, while Lake wails and Emerson provides accents.  At just under three minutes, Palmer’s solo doesn’t threaten to wear out its welcome.  Four bonus tracks round out this reshuffled new version: alternates of “Take a Pebble,” “Knife-Edge” and “Lucky Man” plus Greg Lake’s first solo take of “Lucky Man,” as well.  “Take a Pebble” shows off Emerson’s fluid, dexterous piano and “Knife-Edge” is likewise an instrumental, with impassioned interplay.  Lake’s solo “Lucky Man” is tender and reflective, and the group version lacks the Moog solo but makes up for it, particularly via even more fiercely resonant playing from Lake.  Does the alternate assembly of tracks improve on the original?  It’s doubtful, but that was never Wilson’s intention.  He succeeds mightily in allowing this album to be discovered anew with unheard material that should be sure to whet the appetite of any longtime ELP fan.

Six tracks on the debut album have been mixed into 5.1 for the DVD-A: “The Barbarian,” “Take a Pebble,” “Knife-Edge,” “The Three Fates: Atropos,” “Rave Up” and “Lucky Man.”  From the very first notes of “The Barbarian,” sound is swirling all around you in this incredibly immersive, yet sonically tasteful, new conception.  For those equipped with 5.1 capabilities, this might just become your go-to for ELP.  Even though “Tank” and the remaining sections of “The Fates” are missed, the remaining tracks sound bold and beautiful in surround.  The high-resolution stereo presentation brings out even more nuance in Wilson’s mix than is audible on the CD.

After the jump: on to Tarkus! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 13, 2012 at 10:02