The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for March 4th, 2013

Ashes to Ashes: Dust, Legendary Proto-Metal Band, Returns with Remastered “Dust” and “Hard Attack”

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Dust - Hard Attack and DustThink of Kama Sutra Records, and chances are you’ll think of The Lovin’ Spoonful, or maybe The Trade Winds or even Sha Na Na.  The label wasn’t solely dedicated to sunny pop, however, as evidenced by the two albums released by the band Dust.  Richie Wise (guitar/vocals), Kenny Aaronson (bass) and the future Marky Ramone, Marc Bell (drums) joined with producer/songwriter Kenny Kerner to create two albums for Kama Sutra in the early 1970s that still rank among the most incendiary hard rock, proto-metal releases of the era.  On April 16, Legacy Recordings will reissue Dust and Hard Attack on a single remastered CD from the original analog master tapes, with a vinyl edition following on Record Store Day, Saturday April 20.

The New York power trio’s two cult albums, long out-of-print domestically, feature both vocal and instrumental songs, all rendered with the group’s high-energy, raw, heavy-blues style.  Most songs were written by the team of Wise and Kerner, with Aaronson supplying a song on each album (one co-written with Kerner).  Richie Wise recalled, “We were loud and fast, and it was just unreal.  Even when we played low, we were 20 times louder than everybody else. When we got our record deal, I got three Marshall stacks, Kenny Aaronson bought four Acoustic 360 watt amps, Marc bought this huge set of Ludwigs with a big 28-inch bass drum. On stage, it was just an amazing amount of exhale – not a whole lot of inhale.”  Bell explained the group’s sound: “We were teenagers, but we were pretty developed as musicians – concerning that genre. Nobody else in Brooklyn that I knew of could do what we could do as a threesome. And we had a style. Yeah, we could all play blues and rock, but we took it further. We took it to different time changes within the songs, and people weren’t doing that at that time.”

After the jump, we have much more on Dust, including a pre-order link and the reissue’s full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 4, 2013 at 13:37

Posted in Dust, News, Reissues

Breeders’ Second LP Makes Quite a “Splash” on New Box Set

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LSXXTwo decades after its original release, indie rockers The Breeders will reissue a 20th anniversary edition of their breakthrough LP, Last Splash, that may turn out to be one of the year’s most grandiose packages.

The Breeders started as a side project for Kim Deal, bassist for the Pixies. Debut album Pod (1990) featured Deal on guitar alongside Tanya Donnelly of Throwing Muses, Perfect Disaster bassist Josephine Wiggs and Slint drummer Britt Walford. Though sales were slight, critics praised the album, as did one major fan: Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

Following the dissolution of the Pixies in 1992, Deal turned to The Breeders full-time; the band, now featuring Deal and Wiggs alongside guitarist Kelley Deal (Kim’s twin sister) and drummer Jim Macpherson, spent the summer opening for Nirvana in Europe and building a considerable live fan base. That winter, they recorded Last Splash, which was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. Lead single “Cannonball” missed Billboard‘s Top 40 but became an MTV staple thanks to a video directed by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and up-and-coming director Spike Jonze. It’s also been used in a slew of movie trailers, most notably South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. (Tracks from the album have been found in the strangest places; a guitar loop from album cut “S.O.S.” was the backbone of The Prodigy’s U.K. chart-topper “Firestarter.”)

While the band was hampered by Kelley Deal’s arrest for drug possession and subsequent rehab in the mid-’90s, the Deal sisters returned under The Breeders moniker (albeit new band members) with 2001’s Title TK. Another album and EP (Mountain Battles (2008) and Fate to Fatal (2009)) followed, and this year the Last Splash-era lineup will tour and reissue their most beloved album.

And what a reissue! SPIN confirmed the track list for LSXX will run across seven vinyl LPs (or three CDs) and feature:

  • The original album
  • Stockholm Syndrome, a 1993 live show in Stockholm that was partially released to the band’s fan-club in 1994. This pressing features nine previously unreleased recordings.
  • A 12″ of rare and unreleased tracks, including B-sides, demos and a BBC session
  • Four of the band’s EPs, released between 1992 and 1994, each on 10″ vinyl

It will also contain a 24-page booklet of unreleased photos and recollections from both the band and their friends and collaborators, including Kim Gordon and Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis.

LSXX will be available on April 23; pre-order links are not active yet, but the track list is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 4, 2013 at 11:50

Review: Rod McKuen, “Listen to the Warm” and “Sold Out at Carnegie Hall”

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Rod McKuen - ListenThe words speak for themselves.  In the 1973 liner notes to Rod McKuen’s album Listen to the Warm as reprinted in full for Real Gone Music’s new reissue, Gerry Robinson matter-of-factly states that “Listen to the Warm is not only the best-selling volume of poetry in current times – other than the Bible, it is the best-selling book in hardcover as well.  It has outsold such titles as The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Gone with the Wind, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and all the modern day novels and reference works, including the Random House Dictionary of the English Language.”

Yet this wasn’t mere hyperbole; since his heyday, McKuen has sold some 65 million books of poetry, reprinted in eleven languages.  His musical career has been nearly as distinguished.  McKuen translated Jacques Brel’s “Le Moribond” into “Seasons in the Sun,” and wrote an entire album for Frank Sinatra.  His songs have also been sung by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Dusty Springfield, and sampled by Madonna.  He has two Academy Award nominations, a Golden Globe and a Grammy.  Yet despite all this adulation and great popularity, Nora Ephron, in her capacity as a literary critic, once called his poems “for the most part…superficial and platitudinous and frequently silly,” while U.S. Poet Laureate Karl Shapiro (1946 and 1947) commented, “It is irrelevant to speak of McKuen as a poet.”  Was McKuen, still alive and well and writing, an easy target of critics because of his own success and popularity?  You can judge for yourself on two newly-expanded reissues from Real Gone Music of 1967’s Listen to the Warm (RGM-0125) and Sold Out at Carnegie Hall (RGM-0124).

First released in 1967 on RCA Victor and reissued in 1973, Listen to the Warm tied in with McKuen’s best-selling book of the same name and even its groovy cover artwork echoed that of the book.  There’s plenty of warm(th) on this album, which blends traditional songs with poetry.  Everyman poet McKuen’s breathy recitations are set to tasteful arrangements of his own music by Arthur Greenslade (who also conducted). The poems, and lyrics, are impressions and reminiscences of universal themes like love, loss, animals, weather and nature.  They’re frequently gentle, unabashedly sentimental (some might prefer “mawkish” or “maudlin”) and always delivered in McKuen’s hushed, measured and staccato tone.  Think a noir narration, minus the femme fatales and hard-boiled dicks.  New York is very much a character in these pieces, too, with McKuen adopting a calm voice against the bustling backdrop of the big city.  More than simply that, though, Listen to the Warm was a respite from the turmoil enveloping the country during a tumultuous era, and also from the sea change happening in musical styles.

Greenslade, a British musician who also worked with leading lights such as Shirley Bassey and Dusty Springfield, plays a prominent role on the London-recorded album.  He provides a cocktail piano and smoky saxophone to support the spoken-word pieces like “To Share the Summer Sun”  (“Your thighs make over all the scales/And so I hurry home to you, to use your belly as a cape/To cover up the day”) and navigates the shifting moods of the groovy “Midnight Walk.”  Greenslade also brings variety and color to the proper songs.  Despite the limitations of McKuen’s reedy singing voice, he brings emotion that’s matched by Greenslade’s lush charts for songs like the bossa nova-inflected title track (“With love, it’s either famine or a feast/You’ve got to learn to smile at least”), and the pretty “Where Are We Now.”  Strings swell on the dramatic “I Live Alone” (“Still, it’s nice sometimes to open up the heart a little and let some hurt come in…proves you’re still alive”).  Other compositions, like the carnival-esque “Round and Round,” blend both spoken word and song into a satisfying whole.

Glenn Yarbrough and others covered the song “Listen to the Warm,” but the album’s most famous piece just might be the spoken-word “A Cat Named Sloopy.”  It isn’t quite story and isn’t quite pure poetry, but rather a hybrid of both.  Though the more cynical among us will find its charms easy to resist, it’s nonetheless easy to see why the sad tale tapped into the emotions of any pet owner who’s ever lost a loved friend as McKuen sadly recalls of his cat, “perhaps she’s been the only human thing that ever gave back love to me.”  “Sloopy” is quintessential McKuen: intimately, conversationally delivered, tapping into familiar feelings that might have otherwise been left unexpressed.  (A delightful drawing sent to McKuen by Charles Schulz, for whom McKuen wrote his Oscar-nominated score to A Boy Named Charlie Brown, is reprinted in the booklet.  In the drawing, Snoopy quizzically wonders, “’SLOOPY?’”)  One’s mileage might vary on McKuen’s poetry, but the songs have aged beautifully as vintage MOR orchestral-pop nuggets.

Which bonus tracks will you find on Listen to the Warm?  Hit the jump!  Plus: a full rundown of the deluxe Sold Out at Carnegie Hall! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 4, 2013 at 10:23

Posted in Reissues, Reviews, Rod McKuen

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