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Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for November 26th, 2012

Limping for a (New) Generation: Cherry Red Expands Blow Monkeys LPs

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Bruce Robert Howard, better known to fans as Dr. Robert, got the globe dancing in 1986 with one simple question: “Tell me, why is it I’m digging your scene?”

Dr. Robert and his band, The Blow Monkeys, bought a sophisticated alt-rock/pop sound to the U.S. and U.K. in the mid-’80s, disbanded as the ’90s dawned and reformed in 2007 to record new material and tour. Now they can add “reissued some classic albums” to their list of recent accomplishment, thanks to the folks at Cherry Red.

The band’s first two albums for RCA, Limping for a Generation (1984) and Animal Magic (1986) have been remastered and expanded by the label as two-disc sets featuring B-sides, remixes and unreleased material. Limping, described by Dr. Robert as “jazz-punk,” earned critical acclaim but only modest sales; the more streamlined, soulful Animal Magic, featuring a worldwide Top 20 hit in “Digging Your Scene,” was far more successful, sales-wise. Both expanded sets come with new notes and a total of 21 unreleased tracks, including demos and original mixes of “Digging Your Scene” and “Aeroplane City Lovesong” off Animal Magic.

The band will commemorate the sets in January with a one-off date at London’s Assembly Halls, in which they will perform both albums back-to-back. Amazon lists a U.K. release date of this Monday, November 26 for the deluxe Animal Magic and next Monday, December 3 for the expanded Limping for a Generation. Pre-order links and track lists are below the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 26, 2012 at 15:48

Ooo Baby Baby: Two Lost Miracles LPs Arrive on CD

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The times they were a-changin’.  The Miracles, the group founded in 1955, by Smokey Robinson, Warren “Pete” Moore and Ronnie White, had been synonymous with Motown Records since 1960, and survived chief songwriter and lead vocalist Smokey’s departure in 1972.  But despite a chart smash in 1976 with the No. 1 “Love Machine,” the group was dissatisfied with Motown.  Pete Moore recalled in 2012, “Even after all of this success, we never had any calls from Smokey or Berry [Gordy].”  Indeed, Miracle Bobby Rogers once observed that “Motown ceased to be a family the day they moved from Detroit to California.”  And so, with no true family in place anymore, the Miracles (Moore, Rogers, White, Billy Griffin and Donald Griffin) departed their longtime home in 1977 and inked a deal with Columbia Records.  The group’s two Columbia releases, though, sank without a trace, and the second of the two LPs didn’t even see American or British release.  Cherry Red’s Soul Music imprint, however, is finally giving Love Crazy and The Miracles their due with long-overdue CD reissues available in stores now.

1977’s Columbia debut Love Crazy was written concurrently with The Power of Music, the group’s Motown swansong (also awaiting CD reissue).  Like 1975’s City of Angels (which included “Love Machine”), Love Crazy was an ambitious album complete with an Overture.  And like City, it wasn’t without its share of controversy.  “Ain’t Nobody Straight in L.A.” frankly addressed the subject of homosexuality (“Ain’t nobody straight in L.A./It seems that everybody there is gay”).  “Spy for Brotherhood,” on Love Crazy, was sung by a protagonist whose music was seemingly being suppressed by the U.S. government: “Got to get away/I’m runnin’ from the CIA…I’m a spy for brotherhood/They would stop my songs if they could!” Billy Griffin, lead singer and co-writer of the song with album producer and fellow Miracle Pete Moore, recounts in Lewis Dene’s new liner notes that “it never really got on pop radio in America; most people, including Columbia, said they had a problem with the U.S. government about the song.  If you know anything about the U.S. government, you’ll know they never make official statements –they just do stuff!”  Whether or not life imitated art, “Spy for Brotherhood” didn’t translate into sales for the album, although the single hit No. 37 on the U.S. R&B chart.

That wasn’t the only controversial single.  “Women (Make the World Go ‘Round)” came next.  Whereas Thom Bell and Linda Creed felt “People Make the World Go ‘Round” in their ballad for the Stylistics, Griffin’s song (co-written with brother Donald and Pete Moore) was a bit more specific.   In the song, women pull the strings of every relationship: “For years we’ve been told that this is a man’s world/But nothing could be further from the truth/There’s nothing a man can’t do that a woman couldn’t change his mind with a sexy wiggle of her behind.”  Was it a tribute to women or a condemnation?  Again, the controversy didn’t cause a commercial stir.  But all that aside, there’s plenty of just plain great, danceable R&B/soul music on Love Crazy, including the potent title song (a worthy follow-up to “Love Machine,” though it wasn’t selected as a single) and the lush “A Better Way to Live.”  Soul Music’s reissue is expanded with three bonus tracks: the 45 RPM versions of “Spy for Brotherhood” and “Women (Make the World Go Round)” and an extended version of “Spy” listed as “Special Version” but otherwise unidentified in the booklet.

After the jump: onto The Miracles!  And we have order links and track listings for both CDs! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 26, 2012 at 12:37

Posted in News, Reissues, The Miracles

The Second Disc’s 2012 Holiday Gift Guide is Here!

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Need a gift idea?  We’ve got you covered!  Unwrap our 2012 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE with just a click above!

Written by Joe Marchese

November 26, 2012 at 10:09

Posted in News, Reissues

La-La Land Fills Stockings with Soundtrack Cheer

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One of the most beloved holiday traditions around Second Disc HQ is the annual unveiling of La-La Land Records’ Black Friday titles. Typically, the soundtrack reissue label saves some of their heaviest hitters for the end of the year, and this year is no exception. On December 4, fans will be able to order not only a mammoth box set of all the music from the original Star Trek series, but three beloved soundtracks from three legendary contemporary composers – all with a humorous “crime” theme to them.

Up first is John Williams’ score to the 1992 holiday flick Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Williams’ surprisingly deep score to the original John Hughes/Chris Columbus comedy in 1990 remains a holiday staple (and was brilliantly expanded by La-La Land for the film’s 20th anniversary in 2010). Much like the sequel itself, which essentially transplants Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) and his bumbling nemeses Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) from Chicago to The Big Apple, Williams HA2 score traverses on familiar ground, but new themes and arrangements (particularly the melancholy “Christmas Star” and the joyful “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas”) make this a keeper.

LLL has gone the extra mile with this title, both featuring a new remaster from Mike Matessino (who also wrote liner notes and co-produced the set with Nick Redman) and even a bit of extra music not featured on Varese Sarabande’s out-of-print 10th anniversary presentation in 2002. Extras include some holiday source music, an alternate of “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas” and the original presentations of “Christmas Star” and the Alan Menken/Jack Feldman-penned “My Christmas Tree,” both featured on the original soundtrack CD by Fox Records. Topped off by a package designed by Jim Titus that complements LLL’s Home Alone expansion, this set is limited to 3,000 units.

Next up, another sequel score set in the big city: Michael Kamen’s explosive soundtrack to Die Hard with a Vengeance, a limited edition at 4,000 units. In the third installment of this iconic action series (with a fifth due out next year), Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back on his home turf, attempting to stop a string of terrorist attacks committed by the nefarious Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons), the brother of his nemesis from the first Die Hard film. Featuring a greatly expanded presentation from the original RCA Victor soundtrack (while retaining The Lovin’ Spoonful’s classic “Summer in the City” as an album opener), the label has now helped provide an expansion for the scores to all of Kamen’s Die Hard scores. (La-La Land expanded Varese Sarabande’s pressing in their last Black Friday batch, and Varese themselves expanded Die Hard 2 just last month.)

Finally, the label remasters and expands Ennio Morricone’s Oscar-nominated score to The Untouchables. Brian DePalma’s crime drama told the real life story of Elliot Ness (based on his autobiography), whose team of Prohibition agents in 1920s Chicago took on the baddest gangster of them all, Al Capone (Robert DeNiro). Morricone was one of four nominees from the project, which netted Sean Connery an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as the incorruptible agent Jim Malone. This two-disc set, capped at 3,500 copies, features the premiere release of the score in its original film mix and sequence, and is complemented by a remastered version of the original, Grammy-winning A&M Records soundtrack album and seven bonus cues, including an unused arrangement of themes from the film by composer Randy Edelman.

Stay tuned to this post next Tuesday when links go live on all titles; in the meantime, check out our track breakdown on these three new releases!

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 26, 2012 at 09:16