The Second Disc

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Archive for September 5th, 2013

Cowboy In Sweden, And Everywhere Else: LITA Boxes “Lee Hazlewood Industries”

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Lee Hazlewood Box

If you’ve been following Light in the Attic’s ongoing Lee Hazlewood Archive Series, you’ve discovered a treasure trove of wild ‘n’ wooly music from the country-pop maverick.  But the past releases in the series are proving to be delicious appetizers for the just-announced main course.  On November 26, Light in the Attic will unveil There’s a Dream I’ve Been Saving: Lee Hazlewood Industries 1966-1971.  This seven-years-in-the-making deluxe box set will be available as a 4-CD/1-DVD/1-flexidisc edition and an even more elaborate version adding three data DVDs containing WAVs and MP3s of 17 albums and 140 A and B sides from the LHI catalogue.

The Lee Hazlewood Industries label was a natural extension of the work Hazlewood created as a writer, producer and vocalist for a variety of artists at labels including MGM and most notably, Reprise.  At The House That Frank Built, Hazlewood taught Nancy Sinatra how to sing “like a 16-year old who goes out with 45-year old truckers” updated the Chairman’s own sound with hits like “This Town,” and delivered “Houston” to Dean Martin.  It’s been  a Hazlewood renaissance in recent years; the Ace label has compiled collections dedicated to the psychedelic cowboy’s songs and outside productions as well as his complete 1965-1967 recordings for MGM (made in between stints at Reprise) while Rhino Handmade has surveyed the Reprise years.  In 1966, however, Hazlewood founded LHI, where he not only recorded his own singular, off-the-wall brand of country/folk/pop/rock but released numerous albums and singles by a wide range of hand-picked artists.

What, exactly, will you find on this comprehensive compendium?  Hit the jump for more details including the track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 5, 2013 at 14:23

For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and You: “Benefit” Gets Expanded Reissue with Steven Wilson Remixes

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JethroTullBenefitcoverart_500If Steven Wilson’s remixes of albums by Yes and XTC aren’t enough surround sound excitement for you, then check this out: Jethro Tull’s third album, 1970’s Benefit, is being reissued as a 2CD/1DVD set featuring the talents of the Porcupine Tree frontman.

Benefit was, perhaps, the first step in Tull’s immersion in the greater world of progressive rock. The quintet moved away from the blues influences of their last two records toward a more heavier sound. Studio trickery was more present throughout, with some tracks, including some of Ian Anderson’s flute parts and piano playing by John Evan (listed as a guest on the album but a full-fledged member of the band through 1980) played backwards or at varying speeds. The success of the album paved the way for more great prog efforts by Tull, including follow-up albums Aqualung and Thick As a Brick.

The expanded Benefit – excitingly, one of the first titles from the Chrysalis catalogue to be reissued through Rhino (Warner purchased the Chrysalis assets from Universal after its acquisition of EMI earlier this year) – features nearly all of the album and single-only material from the era newly remixed by Wilson – the complete album, outtake “Singing All Day” and non-LP single sides “Sweet Dream”/”17” and both U.K. single and U.S. album versions of “Teacher.” (The U.K. A-side of “Teacher,” “The Witch’s Promise,” has not been remixed, as multitracks could not be located.) There will be new stereo mixes on the set’s first disc, and stereo and 5.1 surround mixes on an accompanying DVD.

Additionally, a bonus disc features original stereo and mono mixes of the non-LP material (several of the mixes released here for the first time) and some of the album tracks, as well as bonus radio spots. And the aforementioned DVD also features 96/24 khz flat transfers of the original stereo LP, able to be heard in its original U.K. or amended U.S. running orders. (Flat transfers of the single sides will also be included.)

Benefit: Collector’s Edition will be available on October 29; Rhino also promises a vinyl reissue of the album in the future. At present, only a provisional Amazon U.S. link is live, but it is after the jump with the full track breakdown!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 5, 2013 at 14:10

Posted in Jethro Tull, News, Reissues

Ease My Worried Mind: Clapton’s “Unplugged” Expanded with Rehearsal Takes

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Unplugged ExpandedOne of the unquestionable milestones of Eric Clapton’s career – his Unplugged live album – is set for an expanded CD/DVD reissue next month from the good folks at Rhino.

When Clapton took to an intimate stage at Windsor’s Bray Film Studios in January 1992 for MTV’s Unplugged, he was already an unabashed master of his craft. But he was a man in transition: the ’80s saw him embracing mainstream pop on albums like August and Journeyman, and some quietly wondered if he’d ever revisit the blues tunes he so successfully introduced to the masses.

Then in 1991, an unthinkable tragedy happened: Clapton’s four-year-old son, Conor, fell from the window of a New York apartment and died. The heartbroken father laid his emotions bare on a new song, “Tears in Heaven,” first released on the soundtrack to the film Rush, was out barely a week when Clapton played it for Unplugged – and the feeling was just as raw as the studio version.

“Tears in Heaven” was one of many highlights of Unplugged, a set which saw Clapton tackle his old blues favorites (“Before You Accuse Me,” “Alberta,” “Malted Milk”) as well as a dramatic reworking of Derek & The Dominos’ fiery “Layla.” Both “Layla” and “Tears in Heaven” were Top 20 hits, and the album was a massive success, topping the Billboard charts, certified diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America for over 10 million copies shipped, and winner of six Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year.

An album this big deserves some classy treatment, and the expanded, triple-disc Unplugged looks like it delivers. In addition to the original album, a six-track bonus disc of rehearsal takes is included, featuring “Big Maceo” Merriweather’s “Worried Life Blues,” and originals “Circus” and “My Father’s Eyes,” later released on 1998’s Pilgrim. A bonus DVD features both the original MTV Unplugged feature and 14 rehearsal tracks recorded in addition to the final set.

The expanded Unplugged hits stores October 15. Pre-order links are not yet live, but the full track list is after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 5, 2013 at 11:24

Posted in DVD, Eric Clapton, News, Reissues

Review: Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., “The Two of Us” and “Marilyn & Billy”

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Marilyn and Billy - The Two of UsWhen Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. departed The 5th Dimension following the release of 1975’s Earthbound, their commercial success as a duo was far from a sure thing.  Despite being a worthy follow-up to the 5th Dimension’s magnum opus The Magic Garden and a reunion with that album’s composer-lyricist-producer Jimmy Webb, Earthbound didn’t rekindle the group’s fortunes.  But McCoo and Davis knew they had one thing going for them: their union, one which is still going strong today.  That unbreakable bond did, in fact, translate into a Pop and R&B No. 1 with “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show)” from their ABC Records debut as a twosome, 1976’s I Hope We Get to Love in Time.  Though that album has been released on CD in the past – more than once, actually – its two follow-ups have been out-of-print since their original issues.  Real Gone Music has come to the rescue with expanded editions of both 1977’s The Two of Us (RGM-0172) and 1978’s Columbia release Marilyn & Billy (RGM-0173).

As part of The 5th Dimension, Marilyn and Billy were chief practitioners of the genre dubbed by some pundits as “champagne soul.”  The members of The 5th Dimension certainly had the chops for pure R&B; just listen to Marilyn’s heartbreaking solo on “If I Could Reach You” or Billy’s wild improvisation on “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.”  But the group’s timeless music – penned by the likes of Webb, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and most memorably, Laura Nyro – epitomized soul with a classy, sophisticated pop twist.  I Hope We Get to Love in Time certainly didn’t turn its back on smooth pop, though the 5th Dimension’s longtime producer Bones Howe’s jazz/orchestral stylings were downplayed by new producer Don Davis.  (Florence LaRue, Ron Townson and Lamont McLemore soldiered on as The 5th Dimension in Marilyn and Billy’s absence, recording for both ABC and Motown.)

For The Two of Us, producer Davis was out, and Frank E. Wilson was in.  In other respects, though, the LP picked up where its predecessor left off, blending melodic ballads with lightly funky up-tempo showcases.  The real-life couple complemented each other vocally as well as in every other respect; McCoo brought her expressive and pristine pop vocals and Davis his emotive and more rough-hewn R&B sound to tracks like the sparkling up-tempo single (and album opener) “Look What You’ve Done to My Heart.”  McCoo and Davis trade off on lines before uniting their voices as one tight, powerful unit.

The songs on The Two of Us are cast in a positive mold that’s easy to interpret as autobiographical.  And why not?  With her old group, Marilyn transformed Laura Nyro’s “Wedding Bell Blues” into something very personal, and in doing so created one of the best records of the 1960s. On Carl Hampton and Homer Banks’ breezy, mid-tempo “Wonderful,” Billy croons to his wife, “I never had a dream come true, ‘til the day I laid eyes on you,” while on the bubbly disco-lite of “My Very Special Darling,” they ask each other, “Darling, can’t you see that I love you?” even though there couldn’t have been any doubt.  “My Reason for Being is You” is a worthy successor to the dramatic ballads Marilyn led with the 5th Dimension, as is the lush title track written by Stephen O’Hara.  Bob Alcivar, the arranger behind many of the group’s classics, supplied a composition of his own to The Two of Us, and it’s one of the album’s most rewarding as well as most unusual.   “Nightsong” shows off the singers’ purity of tone, as their vocals glide often wordlessly over a fusion-style backing.  Art Posey and Josef Powell, who also wrote “My Very Special Darling,” contributed another jazzy track, the offbeat “The Times.”  The most personal track on the album is Davis’ own “In My Lifetime,” which, while sung by both McCoo and Davis, plays out like a love song from a husband to his wife.  Producer-arranger Wilson applies an AM-ready pop sheen to the song, but it remains intimate thanks to its vocal interplay.

If The Two of Us pales in comparison at all to I Hope We Get to Love in Time, it’s only because there’s not one track as instantly irresistible as “You Don’t Have to Be a Star.”  But it’s thoroughly enjoyable listening, and even more so in Real Gone’s deluxe edition.  Reissue producer Jim Pierson has added four bonus tracks, culled from ABC singles.  The ballad “I’m So Glad I Found You” would have fit comfortably on The Two of Us, but “There’s Got to Be a Happy Ending” allowed both vocalists to cut loose.  Even more exciting is the inclusion of a rare Billy Davis, Jr. solo single, “Light a Candle” b/w “Three Steps from True Love.”  Like his wife, Davis has a distinctive voice that is instantly familiar; hearing it in a grittier solo setting adds a new dimension – pun intended.  The rhythmic “Three Steps” is almost gospel-disco, with Davis wailing in sanctified style over the danceable beat.

After the jump: Marilyn and Billy head to Columbia Records! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 5, 2013 at 09:47