The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for October 23rd, 2013

Sweet Blues: Guitar Legend Mike Bloomfield Celebrated On New Box, Bob Dylan Tracks Debut on Set

with 8 comments

???????The time was 1965, the place was Columbia Records’ studios on Seventh Avenue in New York City between 52nd and 53rd Streets, the occasion was the recording of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. Al Kooper – he of the famed organ riff that propelled “Like a Rolling Stone” – recalled, “Suddenly Dylan exploded through the doorway with this bizarre-looking guy carrying a Fender Telecaster guitar without a case. It was weird, because it was storming outside and the guitar was all wet from the rain. But the guy just shuffled over into the corner, wiped it off with a rag, plugged in, and commenced to play some of the most incredible guitar I’ve ever heard. And he was just warming up!”

Kooper recounts the whole story of his first encounter with Michael Bloomfield in his indispensable tome Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards. Kooper’s fateful introduction to “the man who can still make me pack up my guitar whenever his music is played” led to the seminal Super Session record in 1968 and further collaborations. Now, decades later, Kooper has produced and curated what may well be the definitive anthology dedicated to the music of Michael Bloomfield, the guitarist Bob Dylan recognized as “the best.”  On February 4, 2014, Legacy Recordings will unveil From His Head To His Heart To His Hands, a career-spanning 3-CD/1-DVD box set chronicling the life and times of the late artist.  The box premieres a number of unreleased tracks including rare cuts from Bob Dylan like an alternate of “Tombstone Blues” featuring The Chambers Brothers, or a Bloomfield/Dylan live performance of “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar.”

Born in Chicago and discovered by Columbia’s John Hammond, Bloomfield participated in sessions for the label in 1964 but soon joined the Paul Butterfield Blues Band alongside Butterfield, Elvin Bishop, Sam Lay, Jerome Arnold and Mark Naftalin.  But the same year Butterfield’s group debuted with its first Elektra long-player (1965), Bloomfield was making history with his friend Bob Dylan. In addition to lending his scorching guitar to Highway 61, Bloomfield was among the musicians backing Dylan on his legendary, first-ever electric performance at the Newport Folk Festival.  But there were many other paths for the guitarist with the fire in his soul to pursue.  He joined the genre-bending “horn band” The Electric Flag in 1967, debuting with the group at the Monterey Pop Festival and issuing a 1968 album on Columbia.  Shortly after the album’s release, The Electric Flag imploded, but Bloomfield bounced back that same year.

Super Session was recorded with Al Kooper, the composer-singer-organist behind the original Blood, Sweat and Tears.  David Fricke wrote in 2001, “Bloomfield and Kooper, with pianist Barry Goldberg, bassist Harvey Brooks [both of The Electric Flag] and drummer Eddie Hoh, cut enough music for one whole side of an LP…[but] Bloomfield didn’t play another note on the record.  A chronic insomniac sinking into long-term heroin addiction, he abruptly split for home the next day, leaving Kooper to finish the album with a hastily recruited Steve Stills.  But what Bloomfield left behind is still the best half an album in late-Sixties rock.”  Bloomfield continued making incendiary music until his untimely death in 1981 at the age of 37.  In addition to recording solo albums such as 1969’s debut It’s Not Killing Me, Bloomfield found time to perform and record with Janis Joplin, Dr. John, John Cale, and The KGB Band (with Ray Kennedy and Barry Goldberg) and even sat in again with Dylan in 1980.

What will you find on the new box?  Hit the jump for details and the full track listing, plus pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 23, 2013 at 13:16

All These Things: “Classified,” From New Orleans Piano Great James Booker, Is Remixed, Remastered and Expanded

leave a comment »

James Booker - ClassifiedWhen it comes to New Orleans, there’s something about a piano.  The Louisiana city has been home to some of the most famous players of that 88-keyed instrument: think Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Longhair, Harry Connick, Jr. or Fats Domino.  But ask Dr. John or Connick to single out one N’awlins piano influence, and either might be likely to name one James Booker.  The good Doctor – a.k.a. Mac Rebennack – described Booker as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.”  Booker tutored Rebennack and Connick, who absorbed his style into their own.  The so-called Bayou Maharajah (a.k.a. The Bronze Liberace, The Piano Prince of New Orleans, The Ivory Emperor, or The Piano Pope – to name a few of his illustrious nicknames) led a tumultuous life before passing away at the age of 43 in 1983.  He’s being celebrated in 2013 with filmmaker Lily Keber’s documentary film Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker as well as with a newly expanded reissue on the Rounder label of his 1983 studio album Classified.

James Booker was one in a line of pianists; both his father and grandfather played the instrument.  After spending much of his early childhood on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Booker returned to his native New Orleans as an adolescent.  By the age of fifteen, the piano prodigy had already recorded for the Imperial label (home to Fats Domino) and done session work with Domino and others.  At home with classical music as well as jazz, Booker even impressed the great concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein.  Though addiction to drugs plagued him, Booker played with his piano disciple Dr. John as well as with The Jerry Garcia Band, The Doobie Brothers, Maria Muldaur, and even Ringo Starr.  He also maintained a residency as the house pianist at New Orleans’ Maple Leaf Bar from 1977 to 1982.

There’s more on Classified after the jump including the track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 23, 2013 at 10:32

Posted in James Booker, News, Reissues

Waterboys Reel In “Fisherman’s Blues” Box for October, November

leave a comment »

Fisherman's BoxIn their heyday as one of Europe’s premiere post-punk bands, there were three words associated with The Waterboys: “the big music.” The Scottish-Irish-English band, led and anchored by singer/songwriter Mike Scott, hit it big on the other side of the Atlantic with emotionally resonant rock, awash in ringing guitars and evocative lyrics. Leave it to someone like Scott to break the mold with the band’s fourth album, Fisherman’s Blues – which is the subject of an exhaustive box set released today.

Recorded over two years in Dublin and Galway, Ireland and Berkeley, California, Fisherman’s Blues was a dramatic change in The Waterboys’ sound, eschewing electric rock for stripped-down sonics heavily influenced by rootsy American rock and country trappings as well as the rich musical traditions of the band’s home countries. Though both singles, the title track and “And a Bang on the Ear,” were low-to-middling U.K. chart hits, the album itself remains their best seller, and one that introduced the group to a much larger worldwide audience.

The raucous, near-mythical sessions that produced the record have been the subject of much focus in The Waterboys’ back catalogue. A European compilation, Too Close to Heaven, was released in 2001 with a bevy of unreleased outtakes; that disc was released in the U.S. with another EP’s worth of material as Fisherman’s Blues Part 2. Five years later, the album was remastered and reissued with another bonus disc of extra session material.

But on Fisherman’s Box: The Complete Fisherman’s Blues Sessions 1986-1988, Scott has arguably outdone himself and his contemporaries in terms of anthologizing. Six discs, featuring all of the tracks released on albums, singles and other compilations plus some 85 unreleased tracks, are featured herein – from early versions of familiar tracks to lively covers of traditional tunes and vintage pop/rock selections. A deluxe version of the box adds a seventh CD of tracks that influenced the recording of the album, including cuts by Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and The Carter Family, plus the original album on vinyl and three 12″ art prints.

Somewhat bizarrely, both versions were slated for release today, but only the bigger version is ready. Reportedly demand for the six-disc version (which was a rather phenomenal value) outstripped production supply; the basic version is expected November 11. In any case, pre-order links are after the jump, as well as an exhaustive breakdown of every disc.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

October 23, 2013 at 09:44