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Archive for January 8th, 2013

Bob Dylan’s (Copyright) Blues: “Freewheelin'” Outtakes and More Get a Limited, Pricey Release

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Bob Dylan - 50th CollectionJanuary 2013 is barely one week old, but a candidate for strangest catalogue music story of the year has already broken.  A 4-CD set of outtakes from the early career of Bob Dylan has recently been released, but don’t look for it in your local record shop, or even online.  The 50th Anniversary Collection contains 86 Dylan songs, all recorded in 1962.  But despite the interest that fans worldwide might have in this material (some of which has never circulated, even in collectors’ circles), the set was only released in an as a 100-unit limited edition in Europe.  The set was designed as a preventative measure to keep this material out of the public domain and in the hands of its legal owners, Sony Music Entertainment.

Those readers who travel internationally or peruse the import CD bins have no doubt noticed the number of landmark recordings that have already fallen into the European public domain.  Inexpensive and frequently subpar reissues of Frank Sinatra’s entire Capitol catalogue, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out and the earliest Motown Records albums are all legally available in Europe in a variety of editions via labels other than those from which those titles originated.  Many anticipated the public domain laws being changed to prevent The Beatles’ classic recordings from becoming public property, and indeed, the term of European copyright was recently extended from 50 years to 70 years.  As a Sony Music source told Rolling Stone, “This [Dylan release] isn’t a scheme to make money.  The copyright law in Europe was recently extended from 50 to 70 years for everything recorded in 1963 and beyond. [Emphasis mine – JM] With everything before that, there’s a new ‘Use It or Lose It’ provision. It basically said, ‘If you haven’t used the recordings in the first 50 years, you aren’t going to get any more.’”

There are numerous arguments for and against copyright extension, but the release of this Dylan collection is just the latest high-profile example of a label having to take action to protect its valuable assets.  The Elvis Presley Estate’s Follow That Dream label, for instance, releases a treasure trove of rare Presley material on a regular basis.  Some of that early material, in turn, has become fodder for a number of unauthorized European labels.

Dylan’s 1962 debut album entered the European public domain on January 1, and has already been reissued by multiple labels in a variety of versions.  The Sony source continued, “The whole point of copyrighting this stuff is that we intend to do something with it at some point in the future.  But it wasn’t the right time to do it right after he released Tempest. There are other things we want to do in 2013 though.”  100 copies of The 50th Anniversary Collection were released to record stores in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Sweden, reportedly 25 copies to each of four stores.  The set is plainly packaged and pressed on what appear to be CD-Rs. Unsurprisingly, copies have already made their way to eBay for four-figure amounts.

After the jump: what will you find on these four discs?  Hit the jump for more, including a complete track listing with source information! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 8, 2013 at 13:18

Mad Season’s “Above” Rediscovered for Expansive Deluxe Edition

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Mad Season - AboveThough the group isn’t often spoken of in the same breath as Crosby, Stills and Nash or The Traveling Wilburys, Mad Season was a bona fide supergroup for the 1990s.  The Seattle-based group of musicians – Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, guitarist Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, drummer/percussionist Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees, and bassist John Baker Saunders of The Walkabouts and The Lamont Cranston Band – joined together in 1994 and released just one album, 1995’s Columbia Records release Above.  Almost twenty years later, Legacy Recordings is revisiting that watershed album in a 2-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition, as well as a 12-inch 2-LP expanded vinyl edition and a digital version.  The Deluxe Edition will arrive on April 2, while the vinyl will follow for Record Store Day on April 20.

It was, indeed, a mad season for the talented quartet of Staley, McCready, Martin and Saunders.  Despite scoring a Top 10 single with “River of Deceit” and a Top 10 album with Above, the band’s time together was short, as group members struggled with substance abuse.   (The name Mad Season refers to the time of year when “magic mushrooms” are in bloom.)  Following the success of the debut album, a second Mad Season effort was mooted in 1996, with all members save Staley writing and recording tracks for roughly 15 new songs.  Staley’s health precluded him from participating, however, and the sessions were eventually shelved.  A hiatus was planned, but it became permanent.  Mad Season never reunited; McCready returned to Pearl Jam and Martin to Screaming Trees.  Saunders died of an overdose in 1999, with Staley also tragically losing his life to drugs just three years later.  (Perhaps ironically, McCready first met Saunders in rehab.)  Yet Mad Season left behind an abundance of riches on the dark, somber and bluesy Above.  Produced by Brett Eliason, it remains the only complete album of Layne Staley’s evocative lyrics, and featured additional vocals from Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan and Seattle-based saxophonist/percussionist Skerik (a.k.a. Eric Walton).

After the jump: what will you find on the Deluxe Edition?  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 8, 2013 at 10:09

Posted in Mad Season, News, Reissues