The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for February 26th, 2013

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

leave a comment »

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”

with one comment

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

with 3 comments

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

with 3 comments

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 »

Release Round-Up: Week of February 26

with 2 comments

Cat MotherFanny, Fanny / Freddie King, The Complete King Federal Singles (2-CD Set) / Rod McKuen, Sold Out at Carnegie Hall (2-CD Deluxe Edition) / Rod McKuen, Listen to the Warm (Deluxe Edition) / Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, The Street Giveth…and the Street Taketh Away / The Hello People, Fusion / The Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks 25 – May 10, 1978 New Haven, CT / May 11, 1978 Springfield, MA (4-CD Set) (Real Gone Music)

Much to enjoy from Real Gone today: four discs of live Dead, deluxe editions from beloved songwriter/poet Rod McKuen, Freddie King’s A’s and B’s for King and Federal and Cat Mother and The All Night Newsboys’ The Street Giveth…, produced by Jimi Hendrix.

All That Jazz 2CDBreathe, All That Jazz: Deluxe Edition (Cherry Pop)

The underrated, dreamy debut album that spawned some major international hits in “Hands to Heaven” and “How Can I Fall” is expanded by Cherry Pop as a two-disc set with many B-sides and remixes. Check back later this week for a special interview with Vinny Vero, the veteran compilation producer/remixer who produced this reissue! (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Kirsty DeluxeKirsty MacColl, A New England: The Very Best of Kirsty MacColl (Salvo)

A brand-new Kirsty MacColl compilation (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.), featuring many of her non-LP singles. An Amazon U.K. edition features exclusive art cards and a DVD of music videos along with the standard package.

Mann Weil AceVarious Artists, Born to Be Together: The Songs of Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil (Ace)

From Ace comes a nice tribute to one of the best songwriting duos of the century. Features hits like “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “On Broadway” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” (Amazon U.K.Amazon U.S.)

Chita Rivera Two-FerChita Rivera, Chita! / And Now I Sing! (Stage Door)

However you can try to explain why the living stage legend’s two ’60s solo LPs are only now coming out on CD as a two-for-one package, they’re here for your enjoyment! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)