The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 23rd, 2013

Best Laid “Van”s: Do Artists’ Opinions on Their Catalogue Titles Influence Your Purchases?

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Van Morrison - Moondance BoxNot long after Joe had posted about Rhino’s upcoming expansion of Van Morrison’s Moondance, I vocalized my pleasant surprise at the news. Morrison’s history with reissues has been spotty at best; a late-2000s reissue campaign was quickly halted and almost instantly commanded top dollar on the secondary market.

The next day, however, Morrison issued a statement denouncing the project, taking particular issue with the wording of the press release suggesting he was involved. “It is important that people realise that this is factually incorrect,” the statement read in part. “I did not endorse this, it is unauthorised and it has happened behind my back.”

This is hardly the first time an artist has openly criticized their own catalogue works. Prince, who was allegedly paid to stay out of the compilation and release of The Hits/The B-Sides in 1993, insisted on a bevy of changes to 2006’s Ultimate Prince and then planned a new album to curtail its release. Elvis Costello, whose catalogue has been released three times as expanded CDs on three different labels, suggested that current rights owners Hip-O/UMe had “gotten off on the wrong foot” with a series of live reissues, “doing too many records from the same time period and the same repertoire.” And Morrissey, even as he has gotten involved in radically revisiting his own catalogue, has had choice words for previous box set efforts.

Generally, though, such instances are rare. When it comes to the major labels, most will not (and in some cases cannot) embark on a vault project for a beloved artist without the consent (if not participation) of the artist in question. This isn’t for fear of bad publicity, but the more obvious legal entanglements.

The question we pose for you today, in light of Van Morrison’s opinions, is this: will his – or anyone’s – opinion of this apparently “unauthorised” catalogue activity stop you from opening your wallets? Have a vote in our poll and let us know what you think!

Written by Mike Duquette

July 23, 2013 at 13:13

Review: The Buckaroos, “Play Buck and Merle” and Don Rich, “That Fiddlin’ Man”

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Buckaroos Play Buck and Merle“Who’s going to want to listen to the band with Don [Rich] playing the melody line to the song, when you could hear Buck [Owens] doing the real deal?” queried drummer Willie Cantu of The Buckaroos when called upon to record 1965’s all-instrumental The Buck Owens Song Book.  Capitol Records surely thought there would be an audience for the LP, proclaiming on its back cover that “you too can sing Buck’s country-western songs to the rousing, rhythmic playing of his buddy Don Rich and The Buckaroos!”  The original album has been out of print for many years now, but Omnivore Recordings is now giving you the chance to immerse yourself in the Bakersfield Sound.  The Buck Owens Song Book has been paired with The Buckaroos’ The Songs of Merle Haggard (1971) as The Buckaroos Play Buck & Merle (OVCD-65).  Both Play Buck & Merle and the new expanded reissue of Buckaroo Don Rich’s That Fiddlin’ Man (OVCD-66) continue the Omnivore label’s celebration of Bakersfield, California’s favorite sons (and favorite songs).

Even sans lyrics, one gets the gist of Buck Owens’ spirited music thanks to the Buckaroos’ fine and faithful playing on The Buck Owens Song Book.  Don Rich (fiddle/guitar) was joined by Doyle Holly (guitar), Tom Brumley (steel guitar), Bob Morris (bass) and Willie Cantu (drums) for the set of twelve Owens classics.  Many of Owens’ most beloved favorites were reprised by the band, including the breezy “Act Naturally” and rollicking “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail.”  The performances are alternately rousing and reflective, with the group’s distinctively rootsy, down-home sound.  These songs weren’t recorded in a jazz style, so there’s little improvisation and few individual showcases.  But there’s plenty of delightful interplay from a tight and twangy group whose members were clearly attuned to one another.  Rich, of course, stands out, as does Tom Brumley, whose distinctive “Brumley Touch” on the steel guitar adds dimension to tracks including the wistful “Together Again.”  The quintessential country weepers like “Second Fiddle” (“Will there never come a day/When I won’t have to play the part/Of second fiddle in your heart?”) and “Don’t Let Her Know” (“Laugh, dance and sing, so she won’t notice/The hurt that’s still burning deep inside/And don’t let her see the way I tremble/Don’t let her know how much I cried”) still resonate in the Buckaroos’ sympathetic hands.

Roughly six years later, a new group of Buckaroos – still under the direction of Don Rich – recorded The Songs of Merle Haggard, recognizing the former Buckaroo who actually is said to have given the group its name.  For this LP, Rich was joined by his bandmates Jim Shaw (piano/organ/harmonica/Jew’s harp), Doyle Curtsinger (bass/mandolin), Ronnie Jackson (banjo/rhythm guitar) and Jerry Wiggins (drums/percussion) on a selection from Hag’s great songbook.  There are notable differences between the two tribute albums, and not just because of the new personnel or Haggard’s rather more edgy material.  The Buckaroos employ vocals on The Songs of Merle Haggard, usually only on the choruses, and in a tasteful harmony style far-removed from the outlaw great’s own style.

Jim Shaw’s organ adds a new color to the Haggard album, but the Buckaroos’ sound is still filled with traditional Bakersfield twang led by Rich’s varied guitar tones.  Rich can be aggressive or romantic, leading sadly romantic songs like “Silver Wings” (“Silver wings shining in the sunlight/Roaring engines headed somewhere in flight/They’re taking you away and leaving me lonely/Silver wings slowly fading out of sight”) as well as politically incendiary ones like “The Fightin’ Side of Me” (with its famous “If you don’t love it, leave it” riposte) and the oft-misunderstood “Okie from Muskogee.”  Ronnie Jackson gets to flex his banjo muscles on the rip-roaring, purely instrumental “Legend of Bonnie and Clyde,” and the sound from the band and pianist Shaw is altogether lovely on the evocative memory play “Hungry Eyes.”  One of Haggard’s favorite themes, drinking, is represented with “Swinging Doors,” and The Buckaroos vividly bring its barroom setting to life with their rendition.

The original liner notes for both albums are reprinted in Omnivore’s new release, along with full lyrics for both albums.  (The original Haggard LP didn’t contain printed lyrics, so these are a very welcome extra.)  The package, nicely designed by Greg Allen with a tip of the hat to the original Buck Owens Song Book style, also includes an illuminating Q&A session with Buckaroos Cantu, Curtsinger and Shaw.  (The latter two Buckaroos still perform every Friday and Saturday evening at Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield!)

After the jump, we’re taking a look at That Fiddlin’ Man from the late, great Don Rich! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 23, 2013 at 08:07

Release Round-Up: Week of July 23

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Otis Redding - Stax-Volt OpenOtis Redding, The Complete Stax/Volt Singles (Shout! Factory)

A triple-disc set featuring every one of Otis’ single sides in mono – a striking statement on a short but iconic soul career. (Amazon U.S.)

The Aeroplane Flies HighSmashing Pumpkins, The Aeroplane Flies High: Deluxe Edition (Virgin/UMe)

The Pumpkins’ 1996 box set of Mellon Collie-era singles is massively expanded, with bonus tracks on each of the five original discs and an unreleased live CD and DVD.

CD box: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP box: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Dionne - Just Being MyselfDionne Warwick, second wave of expanded reissues (Rhino/WEA Japan)

This week, 11 Dionne Warwick titles come out on CD in Japan; three of these titles, released between 1969 and 1977, are making their CD debuts, and nearly all of the titles feature bonus tracks! (The order links are in the post linked above.)

Ella BBCElla Fitzgerald, The Best of the BBC Vaults (Universal)

This CD/DVD set, released as an import in 2010, features four complete shows from 1965 to 1977, newly unearthed and released to video, and a disc of audio highlights from the same sets. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Buckaroos Play Buck and MerleThe Buckaroos, The Buckaroos Play Buck and Merle / Don Rich and The Buckaroos, That Fiddlin’ Man (Omnivore)

It’s back to Bakersfield for Omnivore with two new sets featuring Buck Owens’ iconic band: Play Buck and Merle collects The Buck Owens Songbook (1965) and The Songs of Merle Haggard (1971) on one disc, while That Fiddlin’ Man (1971) appears on CD for the first time.

Play Buck and Merle: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
That Fiddlin’ Man: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

The Idolmaker OSTThe Idolmaker: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Varese Sarabande)

The cult classic film, directed by Taylor Hackford and featuring original songs written by Jeff Barry, sees its soundtrack released on CD for the first time. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)