The Second Disc

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Archive for April 10th, 2013

More Rain: Blind Melon’s Debut Expanded by UMe with Unreleased EP

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Blind Melon 20Two decades after that bee girl tap-danced into the conscious of pop-rockers everywhere, Capitol/UMe is reissuing Blind Melon’s debut LP with an EP’s worth of unreleased tracks.

Blind Melon began in the late 1980s with vocalist Shannon Hoon, guitarists Rogers Stevens and Chris Thorn, bassist Brad Smith and drummer Glen Graham. Their local popularity in California clubs led to a contract with Capitol Records, but it was Hoon’s friendship with fellow native Indianan Axl Rose, lead singer for Guns N’ Roses, that bought them wider exposure. (Hoon sang on the Top 10 hit “Don’t Cry”). And Blind Melon became opened for other members of the West Coast alt-rock scene, including the band Soundgarden; frontman Chris Cornell famously wore a necklace made of a bent fork given to him by Hoon in several music videos.

In 1992, the band worked with producer Rick Parashar (who’d just produced another alt-grunge classic, Pearl Jam’s Ten (1991)) on their self-titled debut. Despite local admiration and critical praise, it initially went nowhere – until the band shot a video for “No Rain.” The perky, neo-psych tune featured an unforgettable video starring Heather DeLoach, the young girl photographed on the cover of the album in her infamous bee costume. In the video, the “bee girl” sought refuge from those who mocked her appearance (heavyset, bespectacled and – let’s face it – wearing a bee suit while tap dancing) and ultimately found it, a serene narrative to go with the serene sounds.

While “No Rain” catapulted the band to success (ultimately moving four million copies of the record), the next few years were anything but rosy. Hoon was a rampant drug user during the making of sophomore album Soup (1995), and the consumption ultimately took his life while on tour that same year. The band quickly assembled a posthumous album of outtakes (named Nico after Hoon’s young daughter; proceeds from the album went to a trust fund for the girl) and slowly drifted apart through the ’90s. In 2008, the band returned with a new album, For My Friends, with new vocalist Travis Warren.

This new reissue does not include any of the bonus tracks we detailed in a very early Reissue Theory post, but the remastered album is paired with the band’s previously unreleased first recordings, cut at Sound City Studios in 1991 for shelved EP called Sippin’ Time Sessions. Chris Thorn and Brad Smith have newly remixed these tracks for this set.

Blind Melon will be available anew on April 16, days before a double-vinyl reissue of the same program will be released for Record Store Day.

Blind Melon: 20th Anniversary Edition (Originally released as Capitol CDP 7 96585 2 7, 1992 – reissued Capitol/UMe, 2013)

  1. Soak the Sin
  2. Tones of Home
  3. I Wonder
  4. Paper Scratcher
  5. Dear Ol’ Dad
  6. Change
  7. No Rain
  8. Deserted
  9. Sleepyhouse
  10. Holyman
  11. Seed to a Tree
  12. Drive
  13. Time
  14. Dear Ol’ Dad (Sippin’ Time Session)
  15. Soul One (Sippin’ Time Session)
  16. Tones of Home (Sippin’ Time Session)
  17. Seed to a Tree (Sippin’ Time Session)
  18. Mother (Sippin’ Time Session)

Written by Mike Duquette

April 10, 2013 at 15:41

Posted in Blind Melon, News, Reissues

Review: Julio Iglesias, “1 – Greatest Hits: Deluxe Edition”

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Julio Iglesias - 1 DeluxeHow to define Julio Iglesias?  Perhaps the iconic Spanish entertainer can be best summed up by the numbers.  In a career spanning well over 40 years, Iglesias has recorded 80 albums, sold 300 million records, and sung in 14 languages.  Now, Iglesias, who will turn 70 later this year, has been feted with the first American release of a new collection with a number in the title.  1 – Greatest Hits, already a multi-platinum seller in numerous Spanish-speaking territories, has arrived in the U.S. from Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings as a 2-CD standard edition and a 2-CD/1-DVD deluxe edition adding a 1990 concert from the Greek Theatre on DVD (88765 46961 2, 2013).  It covers a wide swath of Iglesias’ impressive career over 37 tracks on its two discs, but falls short of being a definitive hits survey, as numerous tracks have been re-recorded specifically for the collection.

In his brief liner note, Iglesias writes, “This has been a unique project in my life.  Being able to go back and sing songs from a time when technology hadn’t yet met the digital age.”   He isn’t the first artist to re-record his classic hits, and nor will he be the last.  But it’s the original tracks – well-recorded in the first place by producers including Iglesias’ longtime collaborator Ramon Arcusa – that are the most timeless here.  Iglesias’ voice, circa 2011 (when the lion’s share of the re-recordings were made), is still smooth and velvety if naturally somewhat deeper.  But arrangement-wise, it’s frequently “spot the difference” time with the new versions hewing closely to the style and tempo of the originals.  There are no notes or essays in the thin booklet explaining why songs were selected or what changes were made; there’s not even any indication as to the provenance of each track other than the date on the copyright line.  With no background or discographical information for these songs, it feels less like a career retrospective and more like a set aimed at a casual fan who won’t wonder whether “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” is the original recording or not.

Coincidental though it may be, it’s worth noting that 1 – Greatest Hits arrives on the same day as Paul Anka’s Duets, another mélange of new and old recordings.  Like 1, the Anka collection (reviewed here) offers duets with Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson!  Hit the jump for more on Julio! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 10, 2013 at 14:18

Special Review: Todd Rundgren, “State”

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Todd Rundgren - StateTodd Rundgren has entitled his new studio album State, but the title is a loaded one: is Todd commenting on a state?  Is he commenting on the state?  What state is he in?  What is he stating?  And after all, when Todd Rundgren announces a new album, does anybody ever really know which Todd Rundgren to expect?  On his first album for the Esoteric Antenna label, Rundgren has taken his inspiration – and not so implausibly, I might add – from the likes of Skrillex and Frank Ocean, placing his voice in the middle of a dense, thick setting of swirling electronica and burbling dance beats.  The longtime one-man band has intentionally avoided organic sounds on the ten-song set, but it’s all Rundgren – as producer, arranger, songwriter, singer and sole musician.  Certainly many readers of The Second Disc will seek out State as a new collection of songs from Todd (or “DJ Odd,” as he’s billed on the album’s back cover!), but he and Esoteric have sweetened the pot by offering the album not just as a standalone CD, but in a 2-CD Deluxe Edition with a career-spanning concert from 2012 featuring The Metropole Orchestra (EANTCD 21018).

Its cover coincidentally recalls that of David Bowie’s recent “comeback” The Next Day, and its nonstop beats recall [RE] Production, Rundgren’s last and arguably most inexplicable album.  But State is a return to the topical, observational songwriting of 2004’s Liars, though mostly without that album’s undercurrent of seething anger.  It’s not a “concept” album like 2008’s Arena, a collection of arena-ready guitar rockers, or 2011’s unfortunately-titled Todd Rundgren’s Johnson, a Robert Johnson covers set.  The D.I.Y. State offers numerous flashes of Rundgren’s past in a computerized setting that’s equal parts intriguing and frustrating.

We’re diving in, right after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 10, 2013 at 12:12

Posted in News, Reviews, Todd Rundgren

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The Softer Side of UMe’s Budget Compilation Lines: “Ballads” Released

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Marvin Gaye BalladsHaving recently introduced some EMI-controlled artists to the ICON roster, Universal now incorporates some of those artists (and some of their most treasured R&B and country acts) into a new budget-oriented series, Ballads.

And while none of the artists covered here really, truly need more compilations on the market – and, one can assume, the assembly of these is as low-impact as the ICON series – there’s actually some promise to be had here. The overall selection of artists isn’t terrible, particularly on the EMI side; new sets from culled from the catalogues of Peabo Bryson and Freddie Jackson as well as The O’Jays three albums on EMI America in the late 1980s/early 1990s are all anthologized here, giving fans perhaps a lesser-seen side of these acts.

And that’s the case throughout: from country crooners (Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill) to Motown acts (Marvin Gaye, New Edition) and other soul acts (Barry White, The Impressions, Kool & The Gang), there’s not a terrible amount of “same old, same old” tracks. Some barely have any singles on them, making for a good “second step” if you’ve got any of these group’s earlier compilations.

All titles can be found after the jump and can be ordered or bought in stores now.

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Return of The Paisley Underground: Omnivore Anthologizes the Early Three O’Clock

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The Hidden World RevealedPower-pop legends The Three O’Clock stunned even their most devoted fans by announcing their first live dates in decades this year, including a stop at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. To sweeten the deal even more, the fine folks at Omnivore have prepped a brand-new compilation covering their earliest years on Frontier Records – half of which is entirely unreleased.

Singer/songwriter/bassist Michael Quercio had a funny, catchy term to describe what L.A. bands like his were doing in the early ’80s: “The Paisley Underground.” Combining the sonic aesthetics of punk and alternative genres with the songwriting tropes of ’60s psychedelia and folk, Quercio, guitarist Louis Gutierrez, keyboardist Mike Mariano and drummer Danny Benair were perhaps the band that mastered that sound the best, alongside contemporaries The Dream Syndicate and The Bangles. The Three O’Clock were signed to the Frontier label, releasing their first LP for the label in 1982 under the moniker “The Salvation Army.” That name was quickly changed for legal reasons, and the band released the Baroque Hoedown EP and Sixteen Tambourines LP in 1982 and 1983 for the label.

The group later signed to I.R.S., releasing two albums, Arrive Without Travelling (1985) and Ever After (1986), the latter featuring new guitarist Steven Attenberg. He was duly replaced in 1988 by Jason Falkner; that lineup recorded one final album, Vermillion, for Prince’s Paisley Park Records. (Minneapolis’ favorite son penned one track for them, “Neon Telephone,” under the alias Joey Coco.) The band broke up shortly thereafter, with Falkner arguably the highest-profile of the group as a member of fellow Omnivore favorite Jellyfish for their first LP, Bellybutton.

It’s Quercio, Gutierrez and Benair that will keep the flame alive on the road this year, however, and all three players contribute to The Hidden World Revealed, a new compilation of the band’s Frontier-era work. Quercio and Gutierrez penned the liner notes while Benair provides running track-by-track commentary on the 20-song program, which includes choice tracks from Baroque Hoedown and Sixteen Tambourines as well as 10 unreleased cuts, including alternate takes, unheard songs and demos (including one by The Salvation Army).

Available June 25, this is one CD you will not want to be late for! Full track details and links from the label are after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 10, 2013 at 10:05