The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for August 26th, 2013

Mario Lanza Is “The Toast of Hollywood” On New Set From TCM, Sony

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Mario Lanza - Toast of HollywoodIn the 1950 film of the same name, Mario Lanza was anointed The Toast of New Orleans.  According to the fine folks at Turner Classic Movies and Sony Masterworks, however, the Pennsylvania-born, Italian-American tenor is also The Toast of Hollywood.  TCM and Masterworks are following up their 2012 release of Doris Day’s With a Smile and a Song with a new, similarly-designed 2-CD set dedicated to the late Hollywood singing star Lanza.  The rich-voiced singer may have perished in 1959 at just 38 years of age, but his body of work on both film and record is still fondly remembered.  The Toast of Hollywood is due on August 27, and will include six previously-unissued recording plus a further three new-to-Sony CD selections among its 30 tracks.

Mario Lanza made his first big splash in Hollywood thanks to the largesse of Louis B. Mayer.  Some of Lanza’s recordings had impressed the second “M” in “MGM” but the deal was sealed when Lanza electrified a crowd in summer 1947 at the Hollywood Bowl, and Mayer’s secretary Ida Koverman was among those in the crowd.  Mayer rushed to sign this electrifying young star-in-the-making, described by producer Joe Pasternak as possessing a voice that was “rich, warm, sensuous, virile, capable of incredible highs and able to go down in register as deep as a baritone’s.”

Pasternak produced the first five of Lanza’s MGM films, beginning with 1949’s That Midnight Kiss.  The credits proclaimed “Introducing Mario Lanza” for his role opposite Kathryn Grayson and Jose Iturbi, and the score gave him the opportunity to sing both classical repertoire and American popular songs.  Beginning in 1949, Lanza also began an association with RCA Victor as a recording artist.  In addition to other album projects, Lanza would record many of his MGM movie songs for RCA.

Lanza followed his triumph in That Midnight Kiss with The Toast of New Orleans, The Great Caruso (1951), Because You’re Mine (1952) and The Student Prince (recorded 1952, released 1954).  The last film didn’t turn out as expected, however, when a clash with director Curtis Bernhardt led Lanza to storm off the set and, as it turned out, off the MGM lot.  Lawsuits ensued, and when the film adaptation of Sigmund Romberg’s famous operetta was finally released, British actor Edmund Purdom lip-synched to Lanza’s original recordings, under the auspices of new director Richard Thorpe.  Two of Lanza’s soundtrack performances for The Student Prince are included on the new compilation.

Lanza returned to screen supremacy with Warner Bros.’ 1956 Serenade, and eventually headed back to the Metro lot for his final two films: Seven Hills of Rome (1958) and For the First Time (1959).  But on October 27 in Rome, Italy, Lanza perished.  No autopsy was performed, but it’s been speculated that Lanza was felled by either a fatal heart attack or a pulmonary embolism.  Tragically, his widow Betty died just months later of asphyxiation at the age of 37, leaving their four children behind.

What exactly will you find on this new anthology?  Hit the jump for more details including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 26, 2013 at 13:45

They’re Back…: Kritzerland Reissues “Poltergeist II”

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KL_PoltergeistII_Cov72Kritzerland Records is releasing a very special title by one of the most beloved soundtrack gurus of the century: a newly-expanded edition of Jerry Goldsmith’s score to Poltergeist II: The Other Side.

Released in 1986, four years after the Tobe Hooper-directed/Steven Spielberg-produced original (neither were involved on this project), Poltergest II again finds the Freeling family – Steven (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams) and their children Robbie (Oliver Robbins) and Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) – attacked by another evil being from the afterworld, with only psychic Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubenstein) and her shaman friend Taylor (Will Sampson) able to aid the family.

Like its predecessor, Poltergeist II was surrounded by tragedy: Dominique Dunne, who played the Freeling’s eldest daughter in the original, was murdered shortly after the original film’s release in 1982, and Julian Beck, who played the evil Kane, died of stomach cancer during filming. (O’Rourke died before the release of Poltergeist III in 1988, leading many to believe, seriously or not, the franchise was cursed.) But while the sequel lacks the scares or focus of the original (much of Alien creator H.R. Giger’s creature design was scrapped), Jerry Goldsmith turns in a typically great score for the film. Only repeating the original film’s memorable theme for Carol Anne in places, Goldsmith brings new thematic material to the picture, blending both orchestral and synthesized elements into the final score. (He was by this point a master at this.)

Kritzerland’s specially-priced two-disc set includes all of the original film score (released by Varese Sarabande in 1986, expanded by Intrada in 1993 and expanded even more by Varese in an out-of-print deluxe edition in 2003) as well as several choice alternate tracks, including cues without choir, rare film versions and other goodies. At 1,500 copies, this one is sure to be a strong seller, so click here to order your copy. The full track list is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

August 26, 2013 at 11:30

Naxos To Reissue Bethlehem Catalogue, Titles Promised From Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Mel Tormé

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Bethlehem LogoAnother chapter is soon to be written in the story of the classic jazz label Bethlehem Records. The label, founded in 1953 by Gus Wildi, will soon be relaunched by classical specialist label Naxos in association with Bethlehem’s current owner, Verse Music Group.  Titles are planned to roll out in six batches, from August 27 of this year through July 29, 2014.

Bethlehem played a major part in establishing the careers of such prime vocalists as Chris Connor, Nina Simone and Julie London, and at one time or another, its roster of both singers and instrumental talents included Mel Tormé, Johnny Hartman, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, and Duke Ellington.  The label was notable for affording its artists a measure of creative control they may not have had elsewhere, and flourished under Wildi’s direction until 1962 when it was sold to its then-distributor, Syd Nathan’s King Records (home of James Brown).  Bethlehem’s history from that point on is a tale of sale after sale, and eventually, the label wound up in the hands of the R&B/disco kings at Salsoul Records.  Over the years, CD reissues have arrived from a variety of labels including Rhino and Shout! Factory.  Verse, current owner of the Salsoul catalogue, is teaming up with Naxos for this ambitious Bethlehem campaign.

The current series of remastered reissues – available in both CD and LP formats – kicks off on August 27 with six titles from the Bethlehem catalogue:

  • BCP 1003: Oscar Pettiford, Modern Quintet
  • BCP 1002: Chris Connor, Sings Lullabys For Lovers
  • BCP 36: Dexter Gordon, Daddy Plays The Horn
  • BCP 65: Charles Mingus, The Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus
  • BCP 6028: Nina Simone, Little Girl Blue
  • BCP 6048: Booker Ervin, The Book Cooks

Twenty titles (including the aforementioned six) will be issued that same day as iTunes digital releases:

  • Art Blakey, Art Blakey Big Band”
  • Bobby Scott, Great Scott”
  • Booker Ervin, The Book Cooks”
  • Booker Little, Booker Little and Friend”
  • Charles Mingus, The Jazz Experiments of Charles Mingus”
  • Chris Connor, Sings Lullabys For Lovers”
  • Donald Byrd & Pepper Adams, Motor City Scene”
  • Dexter Gordon, Daddy Plays The Horn”
  • Mel Tormé & Frances Faye, George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess”
  • Howard McGhee, Dusty Blue”
  • John Coltrane, In The Winners Circle”
  • Johnny Hartman, Songs From The Heart”
  • Mel Tormé, Songs For Any Taste”
  • Nina Simone, Nina Simone And Her Friends”
  • Nina Simone, Little Girl Blue”
  • Oscar Pettiford, Modern Quintet”
  • Paula Castle, Lost Love”
  • Sam Most, Sam Most Plays Bird, Bud, Monk and Miles”
  • Stan Levey, Grand Stan”
  • Zoot Sims, Down Home”

Each album has been remastered from the original analog tapes and will be available with their original LP track line-ups.  Original liner notes and artwork have also been preserved for each reissue.  Verse is promising that limited edition apparel, vinyl bundles and pre-sales will be available at Bethlehem Records’ official webstore in partnership with Backstreet Merch.  You can also follow Bethlehem Jazz on Instagram to view T-shirts based on Burt Goldblatt’s famous Bethlehem album designs.

What albums are still to come from the new Bethlehem imprint?  Hit the jump for a full list and further information! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 26, 2013 at 09:36