The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for August 15th, 2013

Chilton Illuminates New York in Unearthed 1997 Show

with 3 comments


Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of that famous blackout that hit New York and parts of the Eastern seaboard for much of the afternoon and evening. How ironic, then, that we turn your attention today toward the impending release of a previously-unreleased live concert from the late Alex Chilton, recorded under similar circumstances.

Electricity by Candlelight showcases an unbelievable set by the Big Star frontman on the floor of New York’s Knitting Factory on February 13, 1997. Chilton was in town for two performances at the venue; before his second set of the night, however, The Knitting Factory inexplicably lost power, and refunds were issued. But in an almost too-good-to-be-true twist, Chilton and touring drummer Richard Dworkin made their way to the floor. Chilton accepted a random concertgoer’s loan of an acoustic guitar, and played.

What happened next was more than a dozen ethereal covers, from Loudon Wainwright III (“Motel Blues”) to Joni Mitchell (“A Case of You”), standards including “The Girl from Ipanema,” “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “I Walk the Line” and “If I Had a Hammer.” In a brilliant hat tip to one of his most transcendent pop contemporaries, he also performed The Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Surfer Girl,” plus relative obscurity “Solar System,” from 1977’s Love You.

Recorded by a concert attendee, a Mr. Jeff Vargon (who also penned the set’s liner notes), Electricity by Candlelight certainly bears all the earmarks of a lo-fi personal recording. But, either by luck or by virtue of the unbelievable scene taking place, the audience is respectful of this up-close-and-personal set, allowing for the best possible presentation of Chilton’s strumming and that inimitable quavering voice. The disc also features a rare studio track, a cover of Johnny Lee’s country tune “You Can Bet Your Heart on Me,” from a European compilation released in 1993.

Electricity by Candlelight is available from Bar/None Records on October 8. Amazon links are not yet live, but a track list is below.

Electricity by Candlelight/NYC 2/13/97 (Bar/None BRN-CD-220, 2013)

  1. Last Bouquet
  2. Step Right This Way
  3. Let’s Get Lost
  4. D-I-V-O-R-C-E
  5. Raining in My Heart
  6. Lovesick Blues
  7. The Girl from Ipanema
  8. My Baby Just Cares for Me
  9. Motel Blues
  10. Someone to Watch Over Me
  11. Footprints in the Snow
  12. A Case of You
  13. Wouldn’t It Be Nice
  14. Surfer Girl
  15. Solar System
  16. I Walk the Line
  17. If I Had a Hammer
  18. You Can Bet Your Heart on Me

Tracks 1-17 recorded at The Knitting Factory, New York City – 2/13/1997
Track 18 released on Love is My Only Crime (Intercord/Veracity Musik IRS CD 986.966 (EU), 1993)

Written by Mike Duquette

August 15, 2013 at 15:15

Posted in Alex Chilton, News, Reissues

Ace Boldly Goes To “Outer Space” and The Bay Area On Two New Themed Collections

with 3 comments

Greatest Hits from Outer SpaceAce Records is Going Wild!…not just with a rip-roaring rock-and-roll compilation of that name, but with a journey to the farthest reaches of the galaxy!  Yes, the London-based label is travelling from the Bay Area to the Milky Way with two of its latest releases: Greatest Hits from Outer Space and Going Wild! Music City Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Based on the 24 tracks of Ace’s Greatest Hits from Outer Space, the final frontier engaged a wide variety of artists in every conceivable musical genre.  On this zany set compiled by Tony Rounce, you’ll hear classical tracks, jazz, soul, folk and rock from one of the most eclectic artist rosters on an Ace release yet.  And that’s saying something!

There are delightfully kitschy song titles a-plenty here: “Maid of the Moon,” from jazz piano great Dick Hyman and vocalist Mary Mayo; “Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer” by the legendarily swinging Ella Fitzgerald; “Destination Moon” from the pop vocal quartet The Ames Brothers (including future solo star Ed, then Eddie, Ames); exotica king Les Baxter’s “Lunar Rhapsody.”

No space-themed anthology would be complete without an appearance from producer Joe Meek’s “Telstar,” which charted simultaneously in the U.S. and U.K. in its recording by The Tornados.  The equally famous “Space Oddity” from David Bowie appears in an early alternate version recorded before Bowie’s departure from the Deram label.  Shelved until 1989, it’s a more desolate and eerie version than the hit single.  Considerably jauntier is The Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman,” a Top 40 country-esque romp from the group’s psychedelic Fifth Dimension album.

A few famous television themes appear via The Ventures’ surf take on “The Twilight Zone,” Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s “Doctor Who,” and Leonard Nimoy’s “Theme from Star Trek.”  The original Doctor Who theme is heard in its mono mix.  What Nimoy, a.k.a. Mr. Spock, had to do with the rendition of the Star Trek theme included on his Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space LP is up in the air (or in outer space…), but the rendition of the famed Alexander Courage/Gene Roddenberry tune is a faithful one.  Movie themes haven’t been left out, either, even “inherited” ones: the set kicks off with the Berliner Philharmoniker’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra” from 1958.  A decade later, Stanley Kubrick famously utilized the performance for the soundtrack to his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, gaining it immortality.

Top-tier soul man Bobby Womack reinvents Jonathan King’s “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon,” a No. 3 U.K./No. 17 hit in 1965 for its writer.  Womack cut his version in Memphis with co-producer Chips Moman, bringing a new dimension to it in the process.  The similarly-titled “Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon” is a Jimmy Webb tune brought to life by Thelma Houston on the occasion of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.  The moon figures in yet more tracks here, like Moon Mullican’s “Rocket to the Moon” (1953) and Johnny Harris’ dark instrumental “Footprints on the Moon,” also from 1969.  (Mr. Mullican’s name apparently derived from illegal booze, not from the actual moon.)  Neil Armstrong was among those astronauts celebrated by Webb with his song; John Stewart (“Daydream Believer”) took the tribute one step further with his “Armstrong.”  Lightnin’ Hopkins saluted another famous astronaut with “Happy Blues for John Glenn.”

Nick Robbins has remastered all tracks.  You might find yourself rockin’ in orbit with Greatest Hits from Outer Space.  Live long, and prosper!  After the jump, you’ll find the full track listing with discography and an order link.  Plus: ground control to Major Tom – we’re headed from outer space to the San Francisco Bay Area! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 15, 2013 at 09:54

Review: “The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording”

with 4 comments

Muppet MovieI’m a pretty sensitive person, but there are few things that trigger my emotions easier than The Muppets. Searching through Muppet clips yields almost a 100% guarantee on being moved to tears; just finding the link to this ciip from the 1990 special The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson made me start tearing up, and my last trip to Walt Disney World began with me leaving the plane to Orlando, choking back my emotions over a screening of 2011’s The Muppets. (For the record, this is the scene that made me such a mess.)

One would thus expect my revisitation of the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie (Walt Disney Records D0018525-02), back in print after a 20-year absence to commemorate the “Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition” Blu-Ray release of the 1979 film, to be accompanied with a good cry. For whatever reason, this was not the case – maybe because I’m too happy that this soundtrack is back on the market, looking and sounding better than ever.

Though it lacks audio bonus content – just the original 11-track, 33-minute album is here – the presentation is simple and effective. The static image of Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy used for the Jim Henson Records/BMG CD release in 1993 is dutifully replaced by the original colorful painting of the happy Muppet couple sailing in a small boat, a rainbow shimmering over their heads. (And, thanks to an embossed digipak design, the rainbow does give off quite a sparkle!) An eight-page booklet features a center spread of film stills, original album credits and – best of all – two pages of new liner notes by songwriter Paul Williams, whose recollections of the making of The Muppet Movie are more than enough to give you the warm fuzzies. Williams’ conversational insight on the writing process and helping supply the emotions behind a gaggle of fictional felt characters solidify just what a maniacally underrated songwriter he is. (Favorite anecdote: at the close of Williams and lyricist Kenny Ascher’s first meeting with Jim Henson for the film, Williams promises to keep the Muppet creator in the loop as the songs are written. Henson’s trusting reply: “Oh, that’s all right Paul. I’ll hear them in the studio when we record them. I’m sure they’ll be terrific.”)

Muppets still

And, by heavens, they are terrific. Aficionados can probably sing “Rainbow Connection” and the bouncy “Movin’ Right Along” by heart, but there’s not a bad tune in the bunch, from the freak-funk of Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem’s “Can You Picture That?” and Kermit and Rowlf’s comic heartbreak tale “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along” (a prime example of Henson’s genius, colorfully duetting himself) to the gorgeous ballad “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday,” sung beautifully by Dave Goelz as resident Muppet weirdo The Great Gonzo. A few brief excerpts of instrumental score, written by Williams and Ascher and arranged by Ian Freebaim-Smith, are also quite pleasant.

Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 11.30.01 PM

If there’s one thing this new edition of The Muppet Movie misses the mark on, it’s proper credit for whoever made this pressing sound so nice. A sticker on the package boasts the disc is “digitally restored from the original master,” and it certainly sounds as such, with excellent dynamic and no needless gouging of volume. (See the above waveform of “Rainbow Connection.”) But there are no mastering details in the booklet, which is frankly a bummer, because I would have gladly commended those responsible in this space. (In fact, whoever you are, I will commend you anyway!)

To see such a deserving title get this kind of a red-carpet treatment is the kind of thing that, like The Muppets themselves, gives me hope for the future. I would love to see Disney utilize their sterling relationship with Kermit, Piggy Fozzie and the gang to put other long-deleted Muppet albums back onto CD where they belong. (With a new film, Muppets Most Wanted, releasing in March, there’s no time like the present!)

Until then, though? The Muppets were never above using oft-repeated turns of phrase to wrap things up, so – to quote The Muppet Movie‘s most enduring song, this new reissue is the perfect package for the lovers, the dreamers – and you.

The Muppet Movie soundtrack is a maniacally affordable $9.99 at!

Written by Mike Duquette

August 15, 2013 at 08:49

Posted in Reissues, Reviews, Soundtracks, The Muppets

Tagged with