The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for March 5th, 2013

Razor & Tie Hires a Bunch of Stiffs (and ZTT, Too)

with 3 comments

ZTT Stiff logos“If It Ain’t On Stiff, It Ain’t Worth a F***!” declared a famous slogan for the venerable punk and New Wave label. This month, that worth-a-f*** spirit extends to catalogue label Razor & Tie, who today announced a brand-new licensing agreement in North America with both Stiff and equally iconic British label ZTT.

Stiff, of course, was best known for putting out early works by The Damned (their “New Rose” is considered by some scholars to be the first punk rock single), Kirsty MacColl (some of her early singles appeared on the recent compilation A New England), Ian Dury and, of course, Elvis Costello. (Costello famously controls his own masters, having distributed them in the United States on the Columbia, Rykodisc, Rhino and UMe labels between 1978 and the present, in varying configurations of “deluxe.”)

Just as exciting, of course, is Razor & Tie’s partnership with Zang Tuum Tumb Records, the quirky U.K. dance-pop label celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Early singles “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and “Moments in Love” by The Art of Noise redefined pop music for the 1980s (the former was famously banned by the BBC for its saucy lyrical content), and latter-day bands like 808 State and Propaganda remain favorites by discerning rock lovers to this day.

ZTT has seen a great deal of U.K. catalogue work since The Second Disc started in 2010, with expanded reissues of works by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Art of Noise and others earning general acclaim among catalogue connoisseurs.

While exact details for either label’s physical reissue plan have yet to be ironed out, Razor & Tie’s strategy, according to a statement, includes “newly expanded editions this year,” “licensing opportunities for the catalog” and “new, direct to consumer ZTT Records and Stiff Records online merch stores which will feature an array of newly created, limited-edition items including classic logo shirts and much more to be announced soon.”

Written by Mike Duquette

March 5, 2013 at 15:59

He Did It His Way: Paul Anka Joins Friends For “Duets”, New CD Features Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Leon Russell and More

leave a comment »

Paul Anka - DuetsDo you remember the times of your life?

Paul Anka posed that musical question in 1975, taking Roger Nichols and Bill Lane’s onetime Kodak film jingle all the way to the Top 10 Billboard pop chart and No. 1 Easy Listening.  At that point, Anka could rightfully reflect on the times of his own storied life, nearly two decades in the music business.  But could he have imagined that he would still be going strong almost forty years after “Times of Your Life” hit?  The Canadian-born singer, songwriter, producer and manager is celebrating 55 years in the music business with the release on April 9 of Duets, a 14-track collection of vocal pairings both old and new.  The Legacy Recordings album coincides with the same day’s debut of his autobiography, naturally entitled My Way after the song he co-wrote for Frank Sinatra.

Ottawa-born Anka had his first hit with 1957’s “Diana.”  When the song was released, Anka was just shy of 16 years old, and it earned him a No. 1 in the U.S. Best Sellers in Stores and R&B charts, as well as No. 1 in the U.K., Canada and Australia.  But overnight sensation Anka was a teen idol with a difference: he was a true singer/songwriter, writing both music and lyrics for his own songs.  In 1962, Anka departed his home of ABC-Paramount for the more lucrative pastures of RCA Victor, which is now under the same corporate umbrella of Sony Music Entertainment as Legacy Recordings.  Anka followed up his ABC hits like “You Are My Destiny,” “Lonely Boy,” “Puppy Love” and “Put Your Head on My Shoulders” with a string of charting pop singles (“A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine,” “Remember Diana,” “Goodnight, My Love”) that continued through 1964 when The British Invasion threatened to cut short the careers of artists like Anka and his RCA Victor compatriot Neil Sedaka.

Of course, Paul Anka bounced back.  Hit the jump for the rest of the story, plus the full track listing, pre-order link and more about Duets! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 5, 2013 at 15:09

Review: Jimi Hendrix, “People, Hell and Angels”

with 6 comments

Hendrix - People, Hell and AngelsThe Jimi Hendrix reclamation project continues.  The partnership between Experience Hendrix and Legacy Recordings began in early 2010 with the release of Valleys of Neptune, a 12-track collection of previously unreleased material from the late guitar hero.  Since then, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and box sets have all arrived to keep the Hendrix flame burning bright.  And now Valleys of Neptune receives a proper follow-up in the form of People, Hell and Angels (88765 41898 2), a “new” collection of Hendrix songs that even avid collectors of the late artist’s output are unlikely to have heard.  The lion’s share of the album was recorded in 1969, with a couple of tracks stretching back to 1968 and one forward to 1970, and the focus is on Hendrix’s trailblazing work outside of the Experience, with drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox of the Band of Gypsys era.  Valleys concentrated on performances from the classic Experience line-up of Hendrix, drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, so the style here is quite different if equally intense.

Each new Hendrix album curated under the aegis of Experience Hendrix has sought to right the perceived wrongs of previous regime, or set the record straight, as it were.  And so material from posthumously overdubbed and/or edited albums like Crash Landing, Midnight Lightning and Nine to the Universe has been addressed in “pure” versions on albums such as People, Hell and Angels.  While it would be easy for the law of diminishing returns to take effect, the good news is that there’s variety and electricity a-plenty to make People, Hell and Angels a worthwhile entry in the Hendrix catalogue.  Experience Hendrix’s head, Janie Hendrix, has indicated that this “could be the last of the studio releases.”  If so, it’s a fitting conclusion to that particular chapter.

Hendrix’s gift was how he reinvented and melded familiar idioms into an entirely new sound, drawing on various traditional strains but never slavishly imitating them.  Much of People, Hell and Angels is steeped, even drenched, in the blues, arguably the root of Hendrix’s greatest music and a starting point for his otherworldly, wailing rock transformations.  A standout is “Hear My Train A-Comin’,” previously recorded with the Experience.  Hendrix knew that he would arrive at a very different result with Cox and Miles, and he was clearly inspired during this scorching rendition that morphs from trippy funk to gutsy blues.  From the same May 21, 1969 session, the new album also includes a stab at Elmore James’ “Bleeding Heart” with singular results.  (Valleys of Neptune offered a wholly different recording of the James song.) “Hey Gypsy Boy” is another slow-burning blues original, heard here sans overdubs.  Hendrix takes some vocals in his “smooth” falsetto register, and lends the song a low-key, ominous feel with slithery lead guitar.

There’s plenty more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 5, 2013 at 12:34

Posted in Compilations, Jimi Hendrix, News, Reviews

Tagged with

Release Round-Up: Week of March 5

leave a comment »

Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels

Jimi Hendrix, People, Hell & Angels / The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced (200-Gram Mono Vinyl) Axis: Bold As Love (200-Gram Mono Vinyl) (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

Not only does today see the release of a new posthumous Hendrix compilation, comprised of newly unearthed outtakes from the vaults, but the original mono mixes of his first two LPs (including both U.S. and U.K. editions of Are You Experienced) make their first appearances on vinyl since their initial releases.  Read Joe’s review of People, Hell & Angels here!

People, Hell & Angels CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
People, Hell & Angels LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Are You Experienced LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Are You Experienced LP – U.K. sequence: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Axis: Bold As Love LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Otis Redding - Deepest Soul

Otis Redding, Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding (Stax/Concord)

A new “concept compilation” that explores Otis’ deep cuts in a decidedly retro fashion, down to the aged album jacket.  Read Joe’s review here!

Lonely and Blue CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lonely and Blue LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.


André Cymone, AC: Expanded Edition (Funkytowngrooves)

This onetime Prince collaborator (whose big hit off this LP, “The Dance Electric,” was written and co-produced by Mr. Purple Rain himself) issues a double-disc edition of his last album for Columbia, featuring all the B-sides and remixes plus a slew of tracks from the vault. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Sheena Twofer 2

Sheena Easton, You Could Have Been with Me + Madness, Money and Music A Private Heaven + Do You (Edsel)

Two new two-disc sets compile four of the Scottish chanteuse’s albums from the ’80s, two of them sweet and poppy, another two more on the down ‘n’ dirty (and Prince-ly) side.

You Could Have Been…/Madness, Money…Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
A Private Heaven/Do YouAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

O'Jays - Ship Ahoy

Donna Allen, Perfect Timing / Black Slate, Amigo / Delegation, Deuces High / George McCrae, Diamond Touch / O’Jays, Ship Ahoy (Big Break)

Five newly expanded titles from BBR, anchored by a 40th anniversary edition of The O’Jays Ship Ahoy, which spun off Top 10 hits in “Put Your Hands Together” and “For the Love of Money.”

Donna Allen: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Black Slate: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Delegation: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
George McCrae: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
O’Jays: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Rock of the Westies Gold

Elton John, Rock of the Westies (24K Gold CD) / Scorpions, Virgin Killer (24K Gold CD) / Yes, Close to the Edge (SACD) / Rush, Counterparts (SACD) (Audio Fidelity)

The latest from Audio Fidelity: gold discs of Elton’s 1975 LP, featuring “Island Girl” and “Grow Some Funk of Your Own,” and the Scorpions’ fourth album (the one with that extremely not-work-safe cover, although this version does not replicate that image); plus hybrid SACDs from a prog band at the top of their game and a Canadian trio’s highest-charting album in America.

Elton: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Scorpions: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Yes: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Rush: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 5, 2013 at 10:52

Review: Otis Redding, “Lonely and Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding”

with one comment

Otis Redding - Deepest SoulPlease, let me sit down beside you…I’ve got something to tell you, you should know…

From the very first elongated cry of “please,” Otis Redding’s voice drips with pain, the kind of pain rendered impossible to keep underneath the surface.  The singer of “I Love You More Than Words Can Say” pleads, prods and cajoles, all the while at an utter loss.  This woman who haunts him, who lingers in his mind, seemingly can’t understand the depth of his affections.  Yet we the listeners certainly can feel the depth of Redding’s well of torment, channeled in just under three minutes of the song written by Redding’s Memphis compatriots Eddie Floyd and Booker T. Jones.  Redding, who perished tragically at the age of 26 in 1967, sang with an urgency that’s all too chilling in light of the tragedy that would take his life.  Yet in the world of Lonely and Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding, a new release from Concord Music Group on the Stax/Volt label, Redding is very much alive and well.

This intriguing collection has been packaged on CD in a mini-LP jacket, a replica of an album that never existed but might as well have.  Its twelve tracks are all tight, taut dramas, most in the three-minute range, some even shorter.  All are imbued with the singular voice of Otis Redding, not in his high-energy live performance mode as a soul shouter supreme, but rather in his most torrid, late-night mood.  Fully three-quarters of the songs were written, in whole or in part, by the artist himself, so this album-that-never-was-but-now-is shows off not only Otis the impassioned singer, but Otis the soulful songwriter.

The emphasis here is on lesser-known songs, derived from albums released both in Redding’s lifetime (1964’s Pain in My Heart and 1965’s immortal Otis Blue among them) and posthumously (1969’s Love Man, 1992’s Remember Me).  Most of the songs are directed at a member of the opposite sex; the singer needs the freedom only his lady can afford in “Free Me.”  She’s got him “chained and bound,” yet he still has to ponder, “Sometimes I wonder, do you really love me?”  Redding’s hoarse yelps always fill in the blanks.  In “Open the Door,” heard in the alternate “Skeleton Key” version, the down-and-out beggar implores, “Let me in,” but his increasingly-imperative cries might be falling on deaf ears.  Steamy brass stabs accentuate Otis’ cries on this track and elsewhere; the horns almost appear to taunt the singer.  There’s not a lot of sweetness here; Redding was famously among the most raw of the southern soul men, his vocal cry a piercingly honest one.  In “A Waste of Time,” Redding personalizes his own song.  Again aiming the song at a lover, he declares himself by name as “the biggest fool,” ad libbing asides as the band keeps on cookin’ to boiling point: “If you don’t want me, mama, don’t just leave me hangin’…”  The track fades out, but it’s impossible not to wish we’d been able to hear this soliloquy, in all its increasing fervor, till the very end.

Hit the jump for more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 5, 2013 at 09:56

Posted in Compilations, Otis Redding, Reissues, Reviews

Tagged with