The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for September 26th, 2012

Lana Del Rey Goes to “Paradise” on New Expansion

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Hey, remember Lana Del Rey? The pouty-lipped, perpetually dazed young lady responsible for some vaguely ineffectual chamber pop and the most histrionic vortex of critical backlash of the year – possibly of the nascent century? Back when we weighed in on her, we did so because there was talk of reissuing some of her early independent works through her contract with Interscope.

Well, it looks like we are indeed getting a reissue from the erstwhile Lizzy Grant, and holy cow, you guys. Her debut LP Born to Die, which features the U.K. hit “Video Games” and other assorted hazy songs about being a devil-may-care youth in a large metropolitan area, is getting grotesquely expanded for the holiday season, with a new almost-album of extra material and, in some cases, a CD/DVD/vinyl box set! What?!

Hit the jump to read on and determine whether or not you should buy the box set to impress someone you know who works at H&M.*

*This is speculative.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 26, 2012 at 13:54

Review: The Jackson 5, “Come and Get It: The Rare Pearls”

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Be honest: when Michael Jackson died, you probably expected a lazy river of material from the catalogue labels that govern his catalogue – both Legacy Recordings, which control Jackson’s adult recordings on Epic, and Universal Music Enterprises, the executors of the Motown library. By and large, we’ve experienced just that. 2009 saw the expanded re-release of The Jackson 5’s Christmas album; I Want You Back! Unreleased Masters, a 11-track compilation of outtakes; and Epic’s This is It documentary film and accompanying soundtrack (with a small fistful of vault material). The next year, two live J5 shows were released by Hip-O Select, while Epic released the Cirque du Soleil Immortal remix album.

By comparison, 2012 has seen that river flow a little heavier, first with Legacy’s Bad 25 box set and then, almost simultaneously, a double-disc set of Jackson 5 outtakes, Come and Get It: The Rare Pearls (Hip-O Select/Motown B0017148-02). Almost immediately, even a discerning fan has to start speculating as to why 32 tracks are coming our way at once. Is Select trying to beat Legacy’s lavish Bad box? Will there be fewer offerings from the fabled Motown vaults than we’d previously imagined?

Whatever the reasons behind the sudden generosity, it’s probably better to sit back and immerse yourself in Come and Get It for what it is – and, just as interestingly, what it isn’t.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 26, 2012 at 13:11

In Memoriam: Andy Williams (1927-2012)

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It’s tempting to say “they don’t make ‘em like they used to,” but truth to tell, they never made ‘em quite like Andy Williams.  Howard Andrew Williams, the favorite son of Wall Lake, Iowa, died yesterday at the age of 84, having valiantly fought bladder cancer.  But Williams leaves behind a rich and reassuring legacy of music and entertainment that recalls a gentler time in American life, of huckleberry friends and caroling out in the snow.

If any popular singer defined Christmas in the 1960s, it was Andy Williams, whose style blended the intimacy of Bing Crosby and the relaxation of Perry Como with a soaring tenor that was all his own.  1963’s The Andy Williams Christmas Album began a close association with the holiday music genre for Williams, who recorded a string of perennial Christmas albums and extended his presence to television sets.  His annual Christmas specials became a tradition, with the sweater-clad, blue-eyed vocalist warmly welcoming viewers for an evening of homespun entertainment dedicated to “the most wonderful time of the year.”  His variety show ran from 1959 through 1971 (taking a break in 1968), introducing viewers to the Osmonds (not to mention the Cookie Bear!) as well as to Williams’ favorite music.  His impeccable vocals were often shared with his guests.  Williams deftly blended with the likes of Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Judy Garland and Sammy Davis, Jr., but also with The Association, Simon and Garfunkel, and Peter, Paul and Mary.  Williams wasn’t primarily known for his performances of standards, though he brought polish and confidence to those songs.  He embraced many of the day’s most successful songwriters and performers both on his TV show and on his Columbia Records albums, and was an outspoken defender of John Lennon when the U.S. government sought to deport the Beatle in the 1970s.

Williams, always true to his convictions, was an also an entrepreneur.  He purchased the catalogue of his original label, Cadence, and ran the Barnaby label which scored hits for Ray Stevens and first signed the young Jimmy Buffett.  His accomplishments were many; Williams opened Caesars Palace in 1966, and was once signed to Columbia for what was then the biggest recording contract in history.  He scored three platinum records and eighteen gold ones, and popularized not only “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” but “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “Music to Watch Girls By,” “Happy Heart,” “Love Story (Where Do I Begin),” “Speak Softly Love,” and of course, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s immortal “Moon River.”  His delicious, lounge-style 1970s reworkings of pop hits led to a surge in popularity in the 1990s and particularly in the U.K., where a greatest hits album reached the Top 10 as recently as 2009.

Every year, Andy Williams’ holiday recordings reappear on radio in November and December, ready to hook a new generation on the man and his music.  Look deeper in his catalogue, though, and you’ll be richly rewarded, whether you find his stirring “Battle Hymn of the Republic” released in tribute to his dear friend Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.; his sunshine-pop duet “Small Talk” with then-wife Claudine Longet; or his truly groovy take on the Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye.”  Hearts have long been happier for the time we’ve known Andy Williams.  Thanks, Andy, for always reminding us, with uniquely American optimism and spirit, that we all can strive to reach what’s waiting for us at that same rainbow’s end.

Written by Joe Marchese

September 26, 2012 at 11:00

Posted in Andy Williams, News

Do You Remember Rock and Roll Radio? “The Ramones Heard Them Here First” Arrives

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Ace Records is cheering “Gabba gabba hey!” with the recent release of The Ramones Heard Them Here First, an overview charting the influences behind New York’s seminal punk pioneers.  Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy didn’t exactly try to hide their inspirations when they included a cover of Chris Montez’ 1962 hit “Let’s Dance” on their debut long-player Ramones in 1976 and over the years, they continued to tip the hat to rock and roll heroes from The Ronettes to The Beach Boys.  The new compilation includes the original versions of twenty-four songs covered by Ramones between 1976 and 1995’s Adios Amigos, and as such, is a rollicking stew of pop, rock, bubblegum, and psychedelic sounds absorbed by the Forest Hills foursome (plus later members Marky, C.J. and Richie).

When Ramones arrived on Sire Records, it signaled a return to, and a celebration of, primal rock and roll after the excess of progressive rock and the glitz of disco.  Primitive in its execution but colossal in its ambition, Ramones distilled the previous, pre-Woodstock era of pop-rock into fast and ferocious two-minute nuggets.  Though their productions weren’t as polished or immaculate as those they worshipped, they captured the same energy that turned teenagers onto the rebellious art form two decades earlier.  A classic example of a band whose influence far outweighed its sales, the group continued to recognize the past even as it flirted with subjects like Nazism, violence, drug use and prostitution.  (No hippy-dippy peace-and-love for these boys!)  And even though the surname “Ramone” was adopted by all members, they shared a common “less is more” sensibility that made them a true, if dysfunctional, band of brudders.

Many Ramones albums, including their first five, featured amped-up AM radio-style “cover” songs, many of which appear here.  Compilation producer Mick Patrick has arranged the tracks chronologically in the order that the songs appeared on a Ramones set.  So “Let’s Dance” is followed by The Rivieras’ “California Sun,” covered on 1977’s sophomore effort Leave Home, then by The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” and The Beach Boys’ “Do You Wanna Dance,” both aired on Rocket to Russia.  (“Do You Wanna Dance,” of course, was originally written and recorded by Bobby Freeman, but it’s likely that the immaculate, Brian Wilson-produced, Dennis Wilson-sung version was The Ramones’ go-to choice.)  1978’s Road to Ruin featured a take on Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono’s “Needles and Pins,” which is also reprised here in its hit version by The Searchers.  But the band’s biggest success on 45 in the U.K. came from 1980’s controversial End of the Century, in which Phil Spector took the production reins.  That hit single was a recording of Spector’s own “Baby, I Love You,” which he originally produced for The Ronettes, and the album itself also became the band’s highest-charting stateside.  The immortal, Ronnie Spector-led track (arranged by the aforementioned Nitzsche) represents the band’s brief association with Phil Spector.  Following End of the Century, a number of albums were recorded of entirely original Ramones compositions, among them Pleasant Dreams (1981), Too Tough to Die (1984), and Animal Boy (1986).

There’s lots more Ramones-mania after the jump, including an order link and complete track listing with discographical annotation! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 26, 2012 at 10:10