The Second Disc

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Archive for January 4th, 2013

We Love You Conrad, Oh Yes We Do: “Bye Bye Birdie” Film Soundtrack Turns 50, Is Newly-Expanded

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Bye Bye Birdie OSTGray skies are gonna clear up

More than seven years before the first Tribe of Hair let the sun shine in, another cast of characters brought rock (and roll!) to the New York stage.  Michael Stewart, Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’ smash hit musical Bye Bye Birdie skyrocketed its leading actors Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera to greater fame in 1960, alongside director/choreographer Gower Champion, in a sweet but timely tale of a hip-swiveling rocker about to go off to the Army and the one teenage girl who wins his “one last kiss.”  Birdie gently skewered not just Elvis Presley but the entire rock-and-roll phenomenon.  With its humorous depiction of the generation gap and the emerging youth culture, Birdie was a natural for the big-screen Hollywood treatment.  The movies, after all, had been ahead of the rock curve, and now the musical had a bona fide star in the form of Dick Van Dyke, who followed his New York triumph with The Dick Van Dyke Show on television.  Masterworks Broadway has just announced the reissue of the soundtrack to Columbia Pictures’ 1963 Bye Bye Birdie in a newly remastered and expanded edition due on Tuesday, January 8 on CD and digitally.

Columbia and producer Fred Kohlmar wisely retained the services of Van Dyke as Albert Peterson, an English teacher and part-time songwriter onstage.  (Irving Brecher’s screenplay dropped the English teacher part and gave Albert a degree in biochemistry in order to introduce super-speed pills developed by Albert, in one of the film’s silliest subplots!)  Opposite Van Dyke wasn’t Chita Rivera, however, but famous blonde Janet Leigh in a brunette wig as his long-suffering secretary and girlfriend Rosie DeLeon (that surname also being new to the film).  Returning from New York as frazzled dad Harry MacAfee was a perfectly sneering Paul Lynde, and Maureen Stapleton replaced Kay Medford as Albert’s meddlesome mother Mae Peterson.  Real-life teen idol Bobby Rydell joined the film not as rock star Conrad Birdie (played by Jesse Pearson, but as the put-upon Hugo Peabody.  Stealing the show as lucky teenager Kim MacAfee was one Ann-Margret.  Though Birdie wasn’t the Swedish bombshell’s first film, it was the one that cemented her stardom, capitalizing on her blend of vixen-ish sex appeal and wholesome innocence.  Singing the film’s one new composition, a title song, Ann-Margret made an unforgettable impression.  (Par for the course, numerous songs were dropped from Strouse and Adams’ stage score.)

Hit the jump for more, including the complete track listing with discography, and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 4, 2013 at 13:54

Information on “Inspiration”: Shuggie Otis Returns with New Tour, Expanded Album with Unreleased Songs (UPDATED WITH TRACK LIST)

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Shuggie Otis was born into a musical family, the son of Johnny Otis, the “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues.”  Bandleader, songwriter and performer Johnny (real name: Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes) scored successes with Etta James, “Little” Esther Phillips, Big Mama Thornton, Johnny Ace, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and more, so it could have been no surprise that Shuggie (born Johnny Alexander Veliotes Jr.) would follow in his father’s footsteps.  A multi-instrumentalist primarily known for his work on guitar, Shuggie began performing with his father before he reached his teenage years, played for Al Kooper and Frank Zappa, and even joined Johnny in 1969 for some lyrically explicit ribaldry as two-thirds of Snatch and the Poontangs.  Shuggie hit his stride, however, with a series of albums for Epic Records beginning with 1969’s Here Comes Shuggie Otis and ending with 1974’s Inspiration Information.  And that was it for Shuggie Otis as a solo artist; he has not released a solo album since.  The reclusive artist is about to return, however, and Legacy Recordings isn’t sitting idle for the occasion.

Otis is returning to the concert stage for The Shuggie Otis Rite tour which hits Los Angeles on December 5 after a run of dates in Europe.  To mark the occasion, 2013 will see the release of an expanded 2-CD edition of Inspiration Information.  The release, slated for April 16, 2013 from Epic and Legacy, has been prepared under Otis’ supervision and offers no fewer than 18 unreleased tracks of prime Shuggie Otis!

After the jump, you’ll find plenty of details on this upcoming release, including the new cover art and track list for this set! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 4, 2013 at 13:11

Posted in News, Reissues, Shuggie Otis

In Case You Missed It: Norah Jones’ “Covers” Gets Domestic CD Release

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Norah Jones coversNorah Jones sure is everywhere. The singer/songwriter with the smoky voice and a deep musical bloodline (being the daughter of Ravi Shankar) exploded onto the scene with 2002’s Come Away with Me, a deft fusion of pop, jazz and country that topped the charts in nearly a dozen countries, won eight Grammy Awards and remains one of only 11 albums in this century to be certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America for over 10 million units shipped. She’s also a reliable guest performer, having collaborated with everyone from Ray Charles to Willie Nelson, and this year not only released a new disc, Little Broken Hearts, but lent her talents to the soundtracks to two comedy films: Seth Macfarlane’s Ted and Judd Apatow’s This is 40.

This week, fans got the chance to own a somewhat rare disc in her collection with the exclusive release of Covers to Target stores in America. The 10-track disc features unique takes on songs by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Fats Domino, Wilco and more, and is the first time one can buy it on a plain old domestic compact disc. (Covers was included as part of a special audiophile LP/SACD box set produced by Analogue Productions, and also got a standalone release in Japan around the same time.)

Available now at your local Target, Covers – featuring B-sides and bonus tracks from previous Jones projects as well as a few unreleased gems – can be checked out after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 4, 2013 at 11:47

Nearly Human, Completely Rundgren: Todd’s 1990 San Francisco Concert Revisited

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Todd Rundgren - WarfieldTodd Rundgren’s 1989 album Nearly Human was conceived with a simple mandate by the artist: record a set of songs that could be performed live in an “R&B revue”-style setting. To that end, it was recorded live with few overdubs. Rundgren intuitively knew that these songs needed to be strong enough to stand on their own; stand they did, and do.  The album itself was reissued earlier this year by Edsel, and now the Esoteric Recordings label (part of the Cherry Red Group) has premiered a recording from the subsequent tour as Live at the Warfield Theater: San Francisco, March 10, 1990.  This is the latest Esoteric release from the Rundgren archives, with 2012 also having seen a first-time stand-alone issue of the lost Disco Jets album from Rundgren and Utopia.

This new 2-CD release, labelled as part of Esoteric’s Todd Rundgren Archive Series, has a similar track listing to the now out-of-print Nearly Human Tour: Japan ’90, released in 2003 by Sanctuary Records.  In fact, every song on that release is also heard in a version here.  But whereas that live recording from the same tour (recorded just two months earlier on January 10, 1990) offered just seventeen songs, Esoteric’s new release boasts a generous twenty-two.  Every one of the songs on Nearly Human is reprised live here with the exception of Rundgren’s “Fidelity” and Elvis Costello’s “Two Little Hitlers,” a CD-only track at the time of the album’s initial release.

Hit the jump for the track listing, order link and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 4, 2013 at 10:02

Posted in News, Todd Rundgren