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Archive for February 2013

He Picks The Songs That Make The Whole World Sing: Clive Davis Curates “The Soundtrack of My Life”

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Clive bookIn a year that counts Tommy Mottola, Cissy Houston, Burt Bacharach and Paul Anka among the music biz icons who have published, or will publish, their memoirs, one such figure’s autobiography has already made headlines: Clive Davis’ The Soundtrack of My Life.  The attorney-turned-music mogul took a no-holds-barred approach to chronicling his history, including his tenures at Columbia, Arista, J and the RCA Label Group.  This should come as no surprise to anybody who’s followed his illustrious and admittedly controversial career, but some readers might still be surprised at the sheer volume of remarkable musicians affected in one way or another by Davis’ “golden ears,” including Bob Dylan, Donovan, Lou Reed, The Kinks and Sean “Puffy” Combs.  Since his appointment by towering music industry leader Goddard Lieberson to lead Columbia Records in 1965, Davis has never stopped making waves with his bold, hands-on hitmaking style.

Now, as Chief Creative Officer of Sony Music Entertainment (a position Davis has held since 2008 at the current parent company of all the aforementioned labels), Davis has teamed with Legacy Recordings to reflect on his career via a series of Spotify playlists with special commentary tracks.  Though it’s unusual here at this branch of Second Disc HQ to direct our readers to Spotify – after all, aren’t there plenty of amazing physical releases out there demanding your listening attention? – the opportunity to hear a venerable legend reflecting on his considerable C.V. isn’t one to pass up.  And Legacy’s “The Legacy Of” app, on which Davis’ playlists are featured, is a prime example of how the online streaming service’s offerings can complement a physical music collection.

Spotify users who navigate to “The Legacy Of” app will discover Davis as the Featured Artist.   The menu provides links to: Albums / Biography / Photos / Playlists / Discography. Head over to “Playlists” to listen or subscribe to six new playlists curated by Davis himself. Each is populated by artists with whom he has worked during his career at CBS Records (Columbia and Epic and their associated labels), Arista Records (including LaFace and Bad Boy), J Records and more.  You can directly visit the “Legacy Of” app at this link. Davis’ six playlists are entitled The Soundtrack of My Life, Best of 2000s, Best of 1990s, Best of 1980s, Best of 1970s, and Best of 1960s.  Naturally, the Soundtrack of My Life playlist is the one with commentary from Davis.  He has recorded reminiscences for fourteen of the playlist’s 20 tracks, and the playlist includes songs from many of the artists with whom he is most associated.

Which songs has Davis selected?  Hit the jump for details and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Kicks Just Keep Gettin’ Easier to Find: Raven Collects Five Paul Revere and the Raiders LPs on Two CDs

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Paul Revere - Evolution to RevolutionThough Paul Revere and the Raiders was a quintessentially American band, it’s the Australian label Raven Records that’s bringing the first Raiders-related release of 2013.  The group’s first five Columbia Records albums, originally released between 1965 and 1967, are being compiled on two discs as Evolution to Revolution: 5 Classic Albums 1965-1967.  Available on March 12, Evolution contains the entirety of Here They Come! (1965), Just like Us! (1965), Midnight Ride (1966), The Spirit of ‘67 (1966) and Revolution! (1967).

Led by Paul Revere (born Paul Revere Dick) on piano and organ, and Mark Lindsay on vocals and saxophone, The Raiders were doubtless one of the most successful bands to come out of the fertile Pacific Northwest music scene.  It was a bumpy start; the group first rose to prominence in 1963 on the strength of their rendition of Richard Berry’s controversial rocker “Louie, Louie.”  But The Kingsmen got to it around the same time, recording it in the very same Portland, Oregon studio as Revere’s band.  It’s lost to time as to which version was released first, but one fact is clear: The Kingsmen’s version reached No. 2 on the charts, while The Raiders’ version stalled at No. 103. You can’t keep a good band down, though, and 1965’s “Steppin’ Out,” co-written by Revere and Lindsay and produced by Terry Melcher, set the wheels in motion for the group’s biggest successes.  The Raiders were selected by Dick Clark to appear on his ABC after-school program, Where the Action Is!, bringing to television as well as records their blend of proto-punk garage rock, strong R&B roots, and irresistible pop sensibility.

After the jump: much more on The Raiders including the full track listing and pre-order link for the new set! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 28, 2013 at 10:09

Chasing Waterfalls: Cherry Pop Plans New Expansion of “Wendy and Lisa”

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Wendy and LIsaExciting news for Prince enthusiasts: two of the Purple One’s most beloved collaborators, Wendy and Lisa, are reissuing their 1987 debut album on Cherry Pop Records next month.

If you were down with Prince and The Revolution as they exploded into international stardom with 1984’s Purple Rain, you likely were drawn to the subplot of The Kid’s band members, Wendy and Lisa, who clashed with their bandleader over his artistic meandering. At the film’s climax, the group dominates Minneapolis’ First Avenue with the film’s title track, an eight-minute opus based upon a set of chords the duo gave their friend and collaborator.

While that story was created for filmic tension, the real-life tension between the talented bandleader and his equally talented band members is a crucial part of the Prince narrative. While the vocals and playing of guitarist Wendy Melvoin (whose first show with The Revolution was a First Avenue gig that was recorded and incorporated into the Purple Rain album) and keyboardist Lisa Coleman were crucial to Prince’s early-to-mid-’80s hit streak, Prince’s tendency to rely on only his own musical gifts ultimately led to the dissolution of his band in 1986. (Prince has worked intermittently with the duo since, offering them co-production work on an uncompleted Prince and The Revolution album in 1999; in 2006 and 2007, Wendy and Lisa appeared on certain live dates with Prince and contributed to his Planet Earth LP.

Left without a band, the duo – friends and collaborators since a very young age and the daughters of great session musicians (Wrecking Crew members Mike Melvoin and Gary L. Coleman) – recorded their own debut LP for Columbia Records. At once reminiscent of Prince’s Minneapolis sound production (former Revolution drummer Bobby Z. co-produced) and the duo’s sunny pop tendencies, Wendy and Lisa never met the kind of success it probably deserved, in spite of killer singles like “Waterfall” and “Honeymoon Express,” both lower-middling U.K. hits. (“Waterfall” hit the charts twice, once as a remixed version in 1989.) Undaunted by the lack of chart success, Wendy and Lisa still record together, having moved largely from pop-rock to film and television composition. (They’ve worked on many high-regarded series including HeroesTouchCrossing Jordan and their Emmy-winning work for Nurse Jackie.)

On March 25, Wendy and Lisa will be released as an expanded edition by Cherry Pop Records. Four bonus tracks will be included, all dance mixes of singles including “Honeymoon Express,” “Sideshow” and the 1989 remixes of “Waterfall.” (A previous edition on the Wounded Bird label featured four bonus tracks, including the remixes of “Sideshow” and “Honeymoon Express,” the single edit of “Waterfall” and a non-LP B-side, “To Trip is to Fall.”) A new interview and track-by-track notes from Coleman are also featured in this set, making it a must for fans and collectors.

After the jump, take a look at the track list and find pre-order links for this new reissue.

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Written by Mike Duquette

February 27, 2013 at 14:49

The “Lowdown” On Friday Music’s Expanded Reissue of “Chicago III”

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Chicago IIIIn his recently released memoir The Soundtrack of My Life, Clive Davis speaks rhapsodically about one band he signed to Columbia Records who went on “to be one of the best-selling bands of the seventies…[and] successful in every succeeding decade, selling millions of albums along the way.”  The mogul added, “They’re still active, and every year their fans lobby relentlessly for them to be nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor the band very much deserves.”  Davis is, of course, speaking of Chicago.  The septet’s third album, and third consecutive 2-LP set, arrived on Columbia in 1971, and now Chicago III is returning to compact disc in an expanded edition from Friday Music set for release on March 12.

Though the group met with great success in the singles market thanks to melodic pop gems like “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is,” “Beginnings,” “25 or 6 to 4,” “Make Me Smile” and “Colour My World” (all from the band’s remarkable first two albums), Chicago’s heart and soul initially seemed to be with extended musical suites that best displayed the group’s unmistakable fusion of rock, jazz and soul.  Chicago III, produced as its predecessors had been by James William Guercio, was recorded in November 1970 at Columbia’s New York studios after a busy year for the band.  It included three extended pieces: Terry Kath’s “An Hour in the Shower,” James Pankow’s “Elegy,” and “Travel Suite,” a collaborative effort with an emphasis on Robert Lamm’s songs.  Four shorter tracks – well, relatively speaking! – began the sprawling album, but its most successful single (Lamm’s No. 2 hit “Free”) was, in fact, extracted from the “Travel Suite.”  Peter Cetera and Danny Seraphine’s “Lowdown” charted, too, hitting a peak of No. 35.

After the jump: details on the bonus tracks, a pre-order link, track listing and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 27, 2013 at 12:59

Posted in Chicago, News, Reissues

Put Your Hands to Heaven: An Interview with Reissue Producer Vinny Vero

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Vinny_Vero_Press_2012Vinny Vero is everywhere. I don’t mean this in just a literal sense – as of this posting, he’s currently in Australia playing several DJ sets – but he’s also had a multifaceted career in the music business, be it as a marketer, producer, remixer or writer. “This year is my 25th anniversary in the music business,” he told The Second Disc with a laugh. “All of a sudden I feel very experienced!”

Vero parlayed his passion for music into a plum gig as a research manager for prominent New York radio station WHTZ-FM. From there, he spent five fruitful years doing marketing and catalogue work for EMI, working with such artists as Roxette, Blondie, and the Pet Shop Boys. After leaving the company, he continued to hone his marketing skills, but never strayed too far from records, independently producing compilations and “reswizzling” tunes for dance clubs. Last year, Vero began producing reissues for the U.K.’s Cherry Red Group; their first collaboration, a two-disc expansion of Breathe’s hit LP All That Jazz, was released in Europe this week.

Last year, as he was putting the finishing touches on All That Jazz, Vero took time out of his busy schedule to talk to The Second Disc about his work and career. I think you’ll find it a fascinating and informative read about what it’s like to work in an ever-changing industry, all the while working hard and loving what you do – easily the best way to survive in the catalogue music game.

After the jump, we talk to Vinny about all his work, great and small!

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Written by Mike Duquette

February 27, 2013 at 12:15

Soundtrack Watch: Intrada Debuts Unreleased Goldsmith, Horner Scores, La-La Land Has “The Fury”

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isc230booklet.inddThe past week has been a boon to fans of A-list composers of the Silver Age of film scoring. Intrada has unearthed two unreleased scores (one entirely unused) by two of the most beloved composers of recent memory, while La-La Land has put back into print one of the most underrated scores by another genius of the same vintage.

James Horner had one of the best years of his career in 1989, scoring Field of Dreams and Glory that year and earning an Oscar and Golden Globe nod, respectively, for those works. He also lent his talents to In Country, a drama by Norman Jewison based on Bobbie Ann Mason’s novel. It tells the story of a Kentucky teenager (Emily Lloyd, a recent breakout performer from the film Wish You Were Here) who uncovers the mystery of her father, who died in the Vietnam War, with the help of his brother (a Golden Globe-nominated Bruce Willis), a fellow veteran with whom she lives. A tender score with some military undertones, Horner’s In Country was never released, an LP program having been scuttled in post-production. Now, Intrada and Warner release that album with another eight tracks, presenting the complete score in its entirety.

isc231booklet.inddNot to be confused with the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe film, 1992’s Gladiator was a little seen sports drama about the friendship between two young men (James Marshall and Cuba Gooding, Jr.) trapped by circumstances in an underground boxing circuit. While the released film’s music wasn’t much to write home about (a solid electronic score by Terminator composer Brad Fiedel, a strange compilation album on CBS Records featuring tracks by C+C Music Factory, 3rd Bass and Warrant), the original plan featured a score by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith. Featuring full orchestra with synthesizers and percussion on display, the results were classic Jerry – and perplexing that the cues are only making their debut now. But it’s the full score, direct from the original session mixes and produced by longtime collaborator Bruce Botnick – and it’s yours to order from Intrada.

After the jump, John Williams scares the daylights out of you with the sound of The Fury!

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Written by Mike Duquette

February 27, 2013 at 10:10

Sweet As The Punch: “Along Comes” Songs of Tandyn Almer

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Tandyn Almer - Along ComesIf you don’t know the name of Tandyn Almer, you likely do know his Top 10 pop hit “Along Comes Mary,” so memorably recorded by The Association in 1966.  And you just might know two of the songs on which he shared songwriting credit with a certain Brian Wilson, “Marcella” and “Sail On, Sailor.”  But the only commercial release to have carried Almer’s name as artist has long been a 1970 Warner Bros. single, “Degeneration Gap” b/w “Snippin’ the Silver Chord.”  The Sundazed label changes all that with the March 26 release of Along Comes Tandyn on both CD and LP.

Though “Along Comes Mary” represented Almer’s commercial peak, he didn’t exactly disappear.  He was far too unique a songwriter for that; in fact, none other than Leonard Bernstein had interviewed Almer as one of the up-and-coming rock musicians profiled on his 1967 Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution television documentary.  (This was the same program that featured Brian Wilson at the piano, powerfully introducing SMiLE’s “Surf’s Up” to an unsuspecting world.)  Almer, who died on January 8 of this year, lived a quiet life by most accounts.  But it was a colorful one.  He wrote songs recorded by Sagittarius and The Ballroom, once served as a staff songwriter for A&M Records, produced songs for artists including The Purple Gang, and apparently even devised a rather effective waterpipe once described as “the perfect bong.”   In his later years, he contributed songs to Washington, DC’s annual political revue Hexagon, and also wrote “fake books” with arrangements of popular hits.

The fifteen songs on Along Comes Tandyn were written and recorded in Almer’s heyday for a demo LP released by Almer’s music publisher, Davon Music.  The purpose of the album was to garner recordings of the songs from other artists, but the album reveals more of the musical mastery of Almer himself.  Sundazed describes its musical contents as follows: “Included within this demonstration disc is the nasty, buzzing fuzztone and haunting vocals of The Purple Gang’s version of ‘Bring Your Own Self Down,’ the engaging Pop feel of ‘Find Yourself,’ the smooth groove of ‘Anything You Want’ and ‘Victims of Chance’ (recorded as an instrumental by L.A. jazz combo The Afro Blues Quintet), along with the straight-ahead Folk-Rock of ‘About Where Love Is’ and ‘Sunset Strip Soliloquy’ – the latter about the atmosphere which led to the demonstrations of late ’66.”

After the jump: more including the track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 26, 2013 at 14:20

This is the Time! Win a Copy of Billy Joel’s “She’s Got a Way: Love Songs”

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TSD Billy Joel Fb banner

WE HAVE A WINNER! Click the banner above to find out who won Billy Joel’s She’s Got a Way: Love Songs!

Written by Mike Duquette

February 26, 2013 at 13:18

What Will the Neighbours Say? Girls Aloud Compile Studio Albums and Rarities for New Box

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Girls AloudWhile American audiences might hear “reality TV-created band” and shudder under the weight of forgotten groups, in England (where the first rule of pop music is there are no rules), the biggest pop act of the new century was created before a rapt audience on the tube: Girls Aloud. And, off their recent flurry of activity surrounding the group’s 10th anniversary (a recent compilation, 2012’s Ten, and an ongoing U.K. tour to end a years-long hiatus), a deluxe career-spanning box set is planned for release in England later this spring.

The concept of making a band on TV was nothing new in 2002. By that point, Popstars had become an international success since starting in New Zealand in 1999. Versions of the show ran on both American and British TV in 2001, creating Hear’Say on the other side of the pond and Eden’s Crush in the States (a band perhaps best known for featuring a then-unknown Nicole Scherzinger, later a member of burlesque-pop act The Pussycat Dolls).

Popstars would perhaps be eclipsed in popularity by that year’s solo talent show Pop Idol, created by Simon Fuller and successfully imported to America a year later as American Idol. (Pop Idol was replaced in 2004 by Simon Cowell’s The X Factor; a U.S. version of that show premiered in 2011, but both shows are perhaps now better known for their celebrity judges than their branding of new talent.) In any case, the original Popstars had one last hurrah in 2002 with Popstars: The Rivals, where male and female singing groups were created and squared off against each other. Girls Aloud, a quintet comprised of Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh, handily outperformed male equivalent One True Voice, and were mainstays of the pop charts, thanks in large part to their diverse personas and the polished production of the Xenomania team, who have not only produced most of the group’s output, but have worked with some of the world’s best-loved dance-pop artists, including Kylie Minogue, the Pet Shop Boys and Cher (Xenomania founder Brian Higgins co-wrote her smash “Believe”).

The aptly-named The Collection hits somewhere between the by-now typical multi-album collection boxes we’ve seen plenty of and the deluxe collectible piece we’ve all drooled over for our favorite bands. The seven-disc set includes:

  • All five of the band’s studio albums for Polydor/Fascination: Sound of the Underground (2003), What Will the Neighbours Say? (2004), Chemistry (2005), Tangled Up (2007) and Out of Control (2008). These albums boast a total of 19 Top 10 singles and have all been certified platinum or double-platinum.
  • The Complete Xenomania B-Sides and More: a disc, exact contents unknown, featuring the group’s non-LP B-sides with their beloved production team
  • Tangled Up: Live from The O2 2008: previously available on DVD and Blu-Ray, this CD features a distillation of the band’s multi-act setlist from their Tangled Up tour

Featuring colorful slipcase packaging and a hardcover book of photos and liner notes, The Collection is out May 13 in England. Track lists and Amazon links are not live, but it can be pre-ordered directly through Universal Music U.K. at the moment.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 26, 2013 at 13:01

Get Ready! Songs of “Motown: The Musical” Are Collected In Original Hit Versions

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Motown Musical - OriginalsWhen Motown: The Musical opens at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 14, it will mark yet another career landmark for Berry Gordy, the songwriter-producer-entrepreneur who turned Detroit, Michigan into Hitsville, USA some fifty-five years ago.  The musical, written by Gordy and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, depicts the rise to prominence of the Sound of Young America, with Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple, The Scottsboro Boys) starring as Gordy.  He’s joined by a cast of roughly 40 including Valisia Lekae as Diana Ross, Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson, Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye and Ryan Shaw as Stevie Wonder.  Despite the considerable talent of the youthful cast, however, the star of Motown: The Musical is undoubtedly the music written by such composers and lyricists as Brian Holland, Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Gordy himself.  While plans are already afoot for the Original Broadway Cast Recording to arrive from UMe, the label is further supporting the new “jukebox musical” with the release of Motown Originals: The Classic Songs That Inspired the Broadway Show, available in 1-CD, 2-CD and digital formats on March 5.

The Broadway berth of Motown isn’t Gordy’s first foray into theatre.  Motown, under Gordy’s aegis, made a sizeable investment in Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s 1972 musical Pippin, directed by the legendary Bob Fosse.  Gordy’s team at Motown saw the potential in the score by Stephen Schwartz, who had already made a name for himself with Godspell and its hit single “Day by Day” on the Bell label.  In exchange for the company’s investment in the musical, Motown’s Jobete publishing arm received rights to Schwartz’s delectable pop-rock-flavored score for Pippin.  Hence, the Diana Ross-less Supremes recorded the torch ballad “I Guess I’ll Miss the Man,” the Jackson 5 surveyed the beautifully yearning “Corner of the Sky,” and solo Michael Jackson tackled the optimistic “Morning Glow.”  Motown also released the original cast recording, the label’s first, co-produced by Schwartz and Phil Ramone.  Gordy’s investment paid off; when Pippin closed in June 1977, it had run 1,944 performances.  It returns to Broadway this spring in its first revival, melding an all-new circus concept by director Diane Paulus to choreography inspired by Bob Fosse’s original work.

Motown also isn’t the first time Gordy has attempted to bring the story of his renowned label to the musical theatre stage.  Ain’t No Mountain High Enough was announced in late 2006 to close out the season at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre in summer 2007.  A report in Variety promised “a book by Gordy and 30 Motown tunes.”  Ain’t No Mountain even announced an opening date of July 15, but it wasn’t meant to be.  The production was scrapped, and Gordy continued the journey that has finally taken his story to Broadway.  The new Motown: The Musical has assembled an 18-piece orchestra to play the orchestrations of Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, likely inspired by the original hit record arrangements.

After the jump: what will you find on the various versions of Motown: Originals?  We’ve got more details, full track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »