The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for December 3rd, 2012

He’s Got a Way: Billy Joel Collects “Love Songs” For January Release

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Billy Joel - Love Songs

2013 will mark the 20th anniversary of Billy Joel’s final studio album to date, 1993’s River of Dreams. Since then, the semi-retired Piano Man has busied himself with sold-out concerts, live recordings, a foray into classical music and a Broadway musical based around his storied songbook. More recently, Joel has signed on as one of the artists performing at 12 12 12, a concert to benefit the victims of the East Coast’s crippling Hurricane Sandy. But with the dearth of new music from Joel, fans have had to content themselves with live albums, box sets and themed compilations. In the latter category comes Columbia and Legacy’s She’s Got a Way: Love Songs, a romantic collection due on January 22, 2013 in anticipation of Valentine’s Day.

The eighteen-track disc draws on songs recorded between Joel’s 1971 solo debut Cold Spring Harbor through River of Dreams, and touches on both hits and album cuts that might be unknown to the casual fan. Of the hits, there’s (naturally!) “Just the Way You Are.” Joel’s first U.S. Top 10 pop single and first gold single, the Grammy-winning Song of the Year and Record of the Year has been recorded by everybody from Barry White to Frank Sinatra. She’s Got a Way’s title track, originally included on Cold Spring Harbor, is presented in its live hit single version from 1981’s Songs in the Attic. Joel’s other beloved “She’s” song, “She’s Always a Woman” from 1977’s smash The Stranger, has also been included.

Less-anthologized songs like “Travelin’ Prayer” and “You’re My Home” from 1973’s Piano Man, the instrumental “Nocturne” from Cold Spring Harbor, and the yearning “Until the Night” from 52nd Street (1978) take their place alongside “State of Grace,” “And So It Goes” and Joel’s original version of the Garth Brooks hit “Shameless,” all from the most-represented album here, Storm Front (1989). “You’re My Home” is a particularly worthy inclusion, as the Piano Man single was acknowledged by Joel as having been written “for [his first] wife as a Valentine’s Day gift.” She was a lucky lady, at least in this respect: Joel also penned “Just the Way You Are” for her.

Hit the jump for more, including the full track listing with discography!

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Written by Joe Marchese

December 3, 2012 at 15:16

My Fellow Americans: RockBeat Releases “First Family” Box Set

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Vaughn MeaderLegend has it that, while performing at a nightclub on December 2, 1963, 10 days after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Lenny Bruce opened his set by walking to the microphone and, after a moment or two of stunned silence, said, “Man, poor Vaughn Meader.” The name unfortunately means little to anyone but the most devoted novelty lovers and record collectors these days, but one simple American tragedy sank the fortunes of one Abbott Vaughn Meader overnight, barely a year after a simple, odd talent – a pitch perfect impersonation of the president – rocketed him to fame.

RockBeat Records last month issued what may be the definitive article on Meader’s early, influential career: The Complete First Family, a triple-disc box set collating both of Meader’s First Family albums of 1962 and 1963 as well as a bonus disc of other audio treasures.

Vaughn Meader was an amateur singer/pianist who, after a tour of duty in the Army, attempted a stand-up career in earnest. The Maine-born Meader, only 24 when JFK was elected to executive office, soon found it took little effort to affect Kennedy’s unmistakable accent and studied the Commander-in-Chief’s facial expressions to further the joke. Working with producers Bob Booker and Earle Doud and a small group of fellow impersonators, Meader engaged in a recording session as a good-natured satire of Kennedy, with the intention of releasing an album. (A bit of bizarre trivia: unbeknownst to Meader, the session was recorded on the same night Kennedy himself addressed a shocked world on television about the impending Cuban missile crisis: October 22, 1962.)

Released by Cadence Records in November, The First Family was a near-unprecedented hit, topping the U.S. charts for months through 1962 and 1963, selling over 7 million copies and winning a Grammy for Album of the Year. Kennedy, for his part, was reportedly delighted, having given copies of the album as Christmas gifts and jokingly telling a reporter that Meader sounded more like his brother Ted, who in turn thought Meader sounded more like their brother Bobby.

A successful follow-up, The First Family Volume 2, was released that spring – but after shots rang out through Dealey Plaza, Cadence immediately recalled both albums. Meader’s star immediately flared out overnight; fans did not, for whatever reason, take to any of his non-Kennedy work – and outside of a gripping Entertainment Weekly profile in 2003, a year before his death, Meader spent most of his days in relative obscurity.

Fifty years later, though, and a little more than a decade after the albums’ first, belated CD release, RockBeat has remastered and expanded the presentation of these discs with a third disc, featuring a 28-minute audio documentary on Meader that aired on the BBC, excerpts from an appearance by Meader on the television series Talent Scouts – which spurred his larger discovery and the eventual album session – and a brief but notable clip of Meader as discussed by the man whose affectations he was good-naturedly lampooning. In an age of sometimes fatiguing, often facile political humor, Meader’s First Family LPs are a fascinating glimpse at yet-unbroken sociopolitical ground – and new liner notes and rare photographs from co-producer Booker give one of the best pictures of this intriguing time for political comedy.

Order your copy of this First Family box set – an incredible value for the contents therein – below.

Vaughn Meader, The Complete First Family (RockBeat, 2012)

Disc 1: Bob Booker and Earle Doud Present The First Family: featuring Vaughn Meader with Earle Doud, Naomi Brossart, Bob Booker and Norma MacMillan (originally released as Cadence CLP-3060, 1962)

Disc 2: Bob Booker and Earle Doud Present The First Family: featuring Vaughn Meader with Naomi Brossart, Norma MacMillan and Stanley Myron Handelman (originally released as Cadence CLP-3065, 1962)

Disc 3: Bonus audio disc

Written by Mike Duquette

December 3, 2012 at 14:40

No Lamentations Here: Intrada Unveils Triple-Disc Expansion of “Conan the Barbarian”

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maf7123Trays.indd“Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That’s what’s important! Valor pleases you, Crom…so grant me one request: grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!”

-Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Conan The Barbarian (1982)

Consider the prayer to Crom answered. Intrada last week unveiled an expansive deluxe edition of Basil Pouledoris’ ambitious soundtrack to John Milius’ sword-and-sorcery epic. The original master recordings, thought by many to be lost for years, have been fully located for this release, providing the definitive word on this most excellent of film scores.

First appearing in the pages of Weird Tales in 1932, Robert E. Howard’s Conan character was a wandering warrior from the land of Cimmeria in the fictional Hyborian Age. As a young boy, his parents are murdered by the necromancer Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) and he is sold into slavery; earning his freedom as a gladiator years later, Conan (Schwarzenegger) embarks on an expansive quest to avenge his parents and defeat Doom.

Produced by Raffaella de Laurentiis (for her father, the impresario Dino) and co-written by Milius and Oliver Stone, Conan was quite the cult vehicle for Schwarzenegger, known more at the time for his bodybuilding achievements than his acting; it wasn’t until 1984’s The Terminator that he’d ascend to the upper echelon of box-office superstars. While critics had much to say about the film’s violent content and certain performances (particularly Schwarzenegger and surfer Gerry Lopez as Conan’s companion Subotai), the film was a worldwide success both in theaters and on video. (A sequel, Conan The Destroyer, followed, as did a 2011 film with Jason Momoa as the titular hero; in October, Universal announced plans for another film, The Legend of Conan, to star Schwarzenegger once more.)

The late, great Basil Pouledoris, a friend and collaborator of writer-director Milius, enjoyed several firsts on the Conan score – a project Milius invited him to partake in before a single foot of film was shot. Conan was his first large-scale orchestral score, and one of the first to extensively use music-editing software (the Musync program) in its creation. Recalling classical works by Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Wagner and Carl Orff, the ambitious Conan – recorded with a 90-piece orchestra and 24-member choir in Rome – has rarely been heard as the composer intended: De Laurentiis balked at the cost of a stereo soundtrack, so Conan was originally released in mono. Furthermore, few releases bypassed the 48 minute LP running time as originally issued by MCA at the time of release. (There was a slightly expanded CD from Varese Sarabande in 1992, featuring extras from an incomplete two-track 1/4″ master from Pouledoris’ personal collection, and a complete re-recording by Tadlow Records a few years back.)

Now, though, Intrada presents just about everything you could want of the original Conan score on three discs: two containing the original film score, mastered from the original 2″ 24-track & 1/2″ three-track stereo session masters; eight early and alternate takes, and even the remastered MCA LP. It’s some three hours of music, sounding fresher than ever and available as an unlimited pressing for all to enjoy. Nick Redman and Intrada head honcho Douglass Fake provide liner notes.

Order the deluxe Conan and check out its contents after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 3, 2012 at 12:18

Still On The Line: Glen Campbell’s “American Treasure” Box Set Arrives This Month

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Glen Campbell American Treasure boxWay back on August 6, we confirmed a delay to Surfdog Records’ box set An American Treasure, a limited edition box and gift set dedicated to the life and career of Glen Campbell.  We’re happy to report that this 3-CD/1-DVD limited edition of 1,000 units is finally available for pre-order, with delivery guaranteed before Christmas for domestic purchasers.

To bring you up to date: An American Treasure will mark only the second box set to be devoted to the entirety of Campbell’s career; the first, Capitol’s The Legacy: 1961-2002, is long out-of-print and selling in the three-figure range on the secondhand market. The Legacy offered four CDs, three of studio material and one of live performances, whereas American Treasure consists of three CDs and one DVD. The first two CDs are billed as “fully loaded with songs that span Glen’s legendary career including the hits,” and although both hits and rarities are indeed present, some notable songs are absent including “Honey Come Back” and “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife.”  There are some new-to-CD tracks, however, and Campbell’s many label associations have been represented.

The third disc, however, is the most tantalizing, as it contains “hits and gems that Glen played on as one of the all-time session guitarists.” This will be the first such compilation of its kind, and reflects the eclectic nature of Campbell’s work as a premier L.A. “Wrecking Crew” guitarist. During this period, he played on hit records for everybody from The Beach Boys to Frank Sinatra, and both of those artists are represented on the collection, along with The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, The Righteous Brothers, Gene Clark and Jan and Dean, among others.   (This disc opens with The Champs’ “Tequila,” long rumored to have featured Campbell on guitar; however, many have disputed that he played on the 45.)  Finally, a DVD includes never-before-released performances from The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour television program, which aired on CBS-TV between 1969 and 1972.  Among the guests who shared the stage with genial host Glen: Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Cher, Sarah Vaughan, Dionne Warwick and even some unexpected stars like Goldie Hawn, Andy Griffith, Lucille Ball, Steve Martin and Campbell’s True Grit co-star, John Wayne.

After the jump, we have more on the box, including the complete track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 3, 2012 at 10:52

The World is (Still) a Ghetto: Classic War Album Expanded for 40th Anniversary

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The World is a Ghetto 40Here’s a great Christmas gift for funk fans: Hip-O Select throws a curve after months of solid Motown and blues releases with a remastered and expanded edition of War’s The World is a Ghetto (1972).

At the time of release, the California funk band had gone through a myriad of changes: as Nightshift, the group backed up football player/occasional singer Deacon Jones before being discovered by ex-Animals frontman Eric Burdon and producer Jerry Goldstein, who shaped them into a successful, politically-conscious but still stylistically freewheeling combo. “Spill the Wine,” their debut single, peaked at No. 3 in 1970; within a year, though, Burdon would have left the group to their own devices. Undeterred, the group released the well-received War and All-Day Music in 1971.

The World is a Ghetto, however, sent the band to another plateau, topping the Billboard charts, becoming the biggest-seller of 1973 and featuring two Top 10 singles in “The Cisco Kid” and the title track. The secret? A deft mix of fun, anthemic singles with that funky sort of conscience that elevated their R&B contemporaries Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield.

On December 11, The World is a Ghetto will be remastered and expanded with four unreleased “ghetto jams” – all from the original tapes provided by co-producer Goldstein. A new essay and recording details will feature in the booklet of this release, as well. Full specs and a pre-order link are below!

The World is a Ghetto: 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition (originally released as United Artists LP UAS-5652, 1972 – reissued Hip-O Select/Avenue B0017703-02, 2012)

  1. The Cisco Kid
  2. Where Was You At
  3. City, Country, City
  4. Four Cornered Room
  5. The World is a Ghetto
  6. Beetles in the Bog
  7. Freight Train Jam
  8. 58 Blues
  9. War is Coming (Blues Version)
  10. The World is a Ghetto (Alternate Take)

Tracks 7-10 are previously unreleased “ghetto jams”

Written by Mike Duquette

December 3, 2012 at 10:18

Posted in News, Reissues, War