The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for January 31st, 2013

Amoeba Records Becomes Digital Archivist

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AmoebaPerhaps you’ve heard this story by now, but it’s awesome even if you have: West Coast record chain Amoeba Music is digitizing their rarest and out-of-print stock to sell online. From Variety:

Many of the LPs have been getting remastering upgrades from the original vinyl and shellac sources. Currently, there are only about 1,000 titles for sale, but Amoeba is adding 10 or 15 more every day.

Some Vinyl Vaults artists are readily familiar, and in some cases Amoeba’s source material emanates from its owners’ own collections. Some of Prinz’s rare Louis Armstrong 78s were digitized and are being sold as downloads, while [Amoeba co-owner Marc] Weinstein’s prized collection of 144 Sun Ra albums has also been ripped.

Best of all, for those concerned about royalties going in the right place, the digital sale rights have been cleared wherever possible – and for those artists so obscure that no proper catalogue ownership can be determined, profits from the sale of those records will go into an escrow account, where any claimants can properly earn what’s theirs.

Now, certainly The Second Disc’s coverage isn’t usually focused on artists you’ve never heard of – or, if you haven’t, they’re at least catalogues that are owned by a major label. But I for one certainly applaud Amoeba’s efforts.

It’s easy to dispute the claim that the ease of Internet distribution (whether legal or not) has made it easy to find everything you want to add to your music library. How many single-only remixes or hard-to-find edits can you think of that still haven’t made it past your old vinyl, or at the very least, out-of-print maxi-CD singles? I can think of plenty – and if it’s going to take outside interests like a major record store to loose those chains around the songs we want to hear, have at it!

And what of you, dear reader? What great tracks do you wish your local indies would digitize for your consumption? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Mike Duquette

January 31, 2013 at 11:32

Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars: Él Collects Vintage Gilberto, Jobim, Bonfá on CD

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Joao Gilberto - The LegendFewer images in music are more evocative than that of the tall and tan and young and lovely girl from Ipanema, walking like a samba and inspiring passersby to go, “Aaaah.”  Jazz musicians of every stripe and every instrument latched onto Brazil’s bossa nova sound after it exploded to popularity in the wake of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luis Bonfá, Vinicius de Moraes and João Gilberto’s soundtrack to the 1959 film Black Orpheus.  Though Black Orpheus was the breakthrough, it wasn’t the birth of bossa nova.  From the very beginning, though, was João Gilberto.  Él Records, an imprint of the Cherry Red Group, has just released two new collections that chronicle the early, heady days of bossa nova and the works of Gilberto: the 2-CD mini-box set João Gilberto: The Legend and the various-artists songbook collection The Hits of João Gilberto.

João Gilberto began recording in his native Brazil as early as 1951, but his earliest work was mere prelude to the seismic contributions he would make to world music later in the decade.  “Bim-Bom,” written by Gilberto in 1956 but not recorded until 1958, has been considered the first true bossa nova song.  The artist’s hushed, intimate style of voice-and-guitar epitomized the breezy yet sophisticated genre which refined the traditional sound of samba into something altogether more intimate.  Identified by gentle acoustic guitar and sometimes piano, and often adorned with subtle string or horn accents, bossa nova de-emphasized the more percussive aspects of samba.  Instead, an emphasis was placed on the inviting melodies and rich harmonies.  Gilberto’s 1959 album Chega de Saudade, named after a composition by his friends Jobim and de Moraes, was the first bossa nova LP, and ignited the genre.  It’s the first of three consecutive albums from Gilberto included on Disc One of The Legend.  This disc also includes 1960’s O Amor, O Sorriso e a Flor, and 1961’s self-titled João Gilberto.

Gilberto popularized many cornerstones of the bossa nova songbook on these three albums, many written by his compatriot Jobim, often referred to as “the Gershwin of Brazil.”  Chega de Saudade, with arrangements and productions from Jobim, features “Desafinado (Off-Key)” alongside Gilberto’s own “Bim-Bom” and songs from future bossa legends Dori Caymmi and Carlos Lyra.  O Amor, also produced and arranged by Jobim, included yet more standards-to-be such as “Samba de Uma Nota So (One Note Samba),” “Meditação (Meditation)” and “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars).”  Whereas Chega had also updated samba classics in the new style, O Amor widened its net to transform vintage American songs such as Mort Dixon and Harry Woods’ venerable “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover.”   1961’s eponymous album found Gilberto teaming not just with Jobim but with organist Walter Wanderley.  Jobim and Wanderley split arrangement duties, and Gilberto tackled more compositions from Lyra and Caymmi as well as a handful of songs from Jobim including “Insensatez (How Insensitive).”

These three albums formed the roots of bossa nova, and by the release of the 1961 album, the genre was poised for its imminent international success.  The second disc of The Legend, however, turns the clock back for a collection of Antiques and Curios.  This odds-and-ends collection has embryonic bossa tracks from Gilberto dating to 1951 and 1952, but also draws from a number of recordings during and after the period chronicled on the first disc.  Hence, Antiques offers a sampling from Black Orpheus (including the much-covered “Manha de Carnaval”) alongside seven songs from vocalist Elizete Cardoso recorded with both Gilberto and Jobim in 1958 and four from singer Jonas Silva on which he is accompanied by Gilberto.  Also included are selections from the soundtrack of 1962’s Copacabana Palace film, which (like Black Orpheus) had the participation of Gilberto, Jobim and Bonfá.  The Legend is handsomely packaged in a slipcase containing a booklet of liner notes and both discs in individual mini-LP sleeves.

After the jump: what’s on The Hits of João Gilberto?  Plus: track listings and order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 31, 2013 at 10:09