The Second Disc

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Archive for October 24th, 2013

Say It Loud, Say It Clear: New Mike + The Mechanics Compilation Stacks Hits and Rarities (UPDATED 10/24)

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Mike + The Mechanics The Singles 1986-2014UPDATE (10/24/2013): This set has been pushed back to January 20, 2014 (and duly retitled) to better coincide with some more Mike + The Mechanics events in the coming year, including a U.K. tour in the winter of 2014, a forthcoming memoir from Rutherford and a planned reissue of The Living Years for its 25th anniversary.

Original post (9/12/2013):Although Phil Collins was the one member of Genesis it was impossible to escape during the ’80s, thanks to an increasingly popular solo career and some phenomenal production credits, he was far from the only one of the trio with a solo hot streak in that decade. This year, Universal U.K. will honor the other major Genesis spinoff – guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford’s Mike + The Mechanics project – with an impressive double-disc compilation.

Singles 1986-2014 traces, in two discs, the complete history of the band, from their mid-’80s hits “All I Need is a Miracle,” “Silent Running” and “The Living Years” to their most recent album, the U.K.-only The Road in 2011. Of course, Rutherford was hardly on his own in the band; the band’s output through 1995 also featured a lineup that included Adrian Lee (of Cliff Richard’s touring band) on keyboards, drummer Peter Van Hooke (chief rhythmatist on Van Morrison’s late ’70s/early ’80s output) and the knockout punch of vocalists Paul Young (the late Sad Café frontman, not the blue-eyed soul singer of the ’80s) and Ace/Roxy Music/Squeeze soul survivor Paul Carrack. (Rutherford, Carrack and Young were the de facto lineup for 1999’s Mike & The Mechanics; after Young’s death, the duo carried on the name for 2004’s Rewired, which Van Hooke co-produced. The Road did reunite Rutherford with producer Christopher Neil, who produced or co-produced all of the band’s classic albums.)

The new set features hits and selections from every one of the band’s studio albums on Disc 1, while Disc 2 features 17 rare B-sides and non-LP tracks – including two unreleased tracks, the new “When My Feet Don’t Touch the Ground,” and “One by One,” an outtake with the vocal talents of both Carrack and Young prominently featured. If you’re a fan, this looks like quite a set.

Look for Singles 1986-2014 on October 21; Amazon U.K. currently lists single and double-disc versions, though it erroneously states the 2CD version to have a DVD. The full specs and pre-order links are after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

October 24, 2013 at 14:56

Beyond “Baby Blue”: Edsel Collects Badfinger Albums, BBC Sessions

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Badfinger - EdselAn estimated ten million people watched the September 29 series finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad, with a memorable final scene set to Badfinger’s “Baby Blue.”   By the following morning, the Pete Ham song produced by Todd Rundgren for the 1971 Apple Records release Straight Up had been downloaded more than 5,000 times – boosting its sales by some 3,000 percent!  “Baby Blue” remained in the iTunes Top 20 for next two days.  It also racked up roughly 30,000 downloads over the following week, conferring hit status once again upon the song which reached No. 14 on the Billboard chart in 1972.  With Badfinger back in the spotlight, there couldn’t be a better time for Edsel to release a compendium of the band’s two albums for Warner Bros. Records and a disc of live BBC performances.  On October 28, the Demon Music Group label unveils Badfinger/Wish You Were Here/In Concert at the BBC 1972-3 on two CDs.

Following five albums for The Beatles’ Apple label (including one as The Iveys in 1969), the hitmaking band behind “Come and Get It” and “Day After Day” decamped their fab home for the Warner Bros. label.  The quartet of Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Mike Gibbins announced their artistic rebirth by titling the album, simply, Badfinger.  Producer Chris Thomas resumed work with the group in 1973 shortly after completing Apple swansong Ass, which was released in November 1973 in the U.S. and March 1974 abroad.  Badfinger’s arrival actually preceded the U.K. release of Ass, arriving in stores in February 1974.  Consisting entirely of group originals, the album nonetheless failed to ignite the charts.  Molland’s “Love is Easy,” released in the U.K. as a single, failed to make the charts.  The choice for the American market, Ham’s “I Miss You,” also missed the mark.  With the band also engaged in litigation with Apple, Badfinger didn’t stand much of a chance.  It peaked at No. 161 on the Billboard 200, becoming the group’s lowest-charting LP.

Undeterred, Badfinger regrouped with Thomas in the spring of 1974 at the famed Caribou Ranch in Colorado, the same studio where Elton John, Chicago and The Beach Boys all called home at one time or another.  The album eventually titled Wish You Were Here would be the band’s second and last album for Warner Bros., as well as the final album by the original foursome.  With just nine tracks all written by band members, Wish You Were Here was received more favorably than its predecessor upon its November 1974 release.  Today, some pundits even consider it Badfinger’s best, most cohesive LP.  But just weeks after its release, the album was pulled as a result of another lawsuit, this time between Warner Bros. and the band’s management.  It did make the Billboard chart at No. 148, besting Badfinger’s performance but hardly restoring the group to chart supremacy.

Wish You Were Here marked the end of the classic iteration of the group.  Joey Molland quit Badfinger following a strife-filled tour; Ham, Evans and Gibbins joined with Bob Jackson (a brief replacement for Ham when he briefly quit following Wish You Were Here) in December 1974 to create the Head First album which went unreleased until 2000.  (Produced by Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise of KISS fame, Head First was reportedly accepted by Warner’s recording division in Los Angeles, but a dispute with Warner’s publishing arm derailed it from release.)  Pete Ham committed suicide in 1975, dashing hopes of any subsequent reunions.  Evans and Molland picked up the pieces in 1979 with musicians Joe Tansin and Kenny Harck, reforming Badfinger for Airwaves on Warner Bros.’ sister label Elektra.  A different line-up of Molland, Evans, Tony Kaye, Glenn Sherba and Richard Bryans issued Say No More in 1981 on the Radio label, the final new album to bear the Badfinger moniker.  Two years later, Tom Evans also took his own life.

Edsel’s upcoming release contains Badfinger and Wish You Were Here on one CD.  The second disc includes all of the 2007 release In Concert at the BBC 1972-3.  Hit the jump for more details, plus the full track listing and pre-order links!

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Written by Joe Marchese

October 24, 2013 at 10:39

Posted in Badfinger, News, Reissues

Back to “The Labyrinth”: Sting’s Lute Album Revisited with Live Tracks

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Sting Labyrinth DeluxeIt’s likely the first time in history a “450th anniversary edition” of an album will ever be released! Universal is repackaging Sting’s esoteric 2006 outing Songs from the Labyrinth to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of the 16th century English composer to which Sting paid tribute on the album.

Even for a fellow as intensely…Sting-like as the man born Gordon Sumner, you could be forgiven for seeing Songs from the Labyrinth as a tough sell. Working solely with Bosnian lutenist Edin Karamazov, Sting sang the melancholy works of Dowland (1563-1626), who earned contemporary accolades for his approach to the lute and was paid quite handsomely during an eight-year stint in the employ of King Christian IV of Denmark. (To further set the scene for Dowland’s life and work, spoken excerpts, also recorded by Sting, from a letter penned by Dowland are woven throughout the album.)

It was no Synchronicity, of course, but Songs from the Labyrinth was a strong seller for a classical album (released not on Sting’s longtime home of A&M Records but the Universal-owned Deutsche Grammophon). It charted at Nos. 24 and 25 on the U.K. and U.S. charts, respectively, and Sting and Karamazov followed up with a tour that saw them tackle these tunes along with some select others – namely, bluesman Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail” and Sting’s own “Message in a Bottle” and “Fields of Gold.” And for those who’d feared Sting would leave pop music forever, he followed Songs from the Labyrinth with an amazing year-and-a-half back in stadiums with Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland as The Police. (Sting’s return to solo pop songcraft didn’t happen until the release of The Last Ship late last month, a collection of songs written for a forthcoming Broadway musical due next year.)

The “Dowland Anniversary Edition” of the record includes a great deal of bonus content from a separate release, 2007’s The Journey and The Labyrinth CD/DVD documentary. That release featured behind-the-scenes footage and live tracks recorded at St. Luke’s Concerette in London. (All eight audio tracks from The Journey and The Labyrinth are repeated here, with an additional live recording of “Fields of Gold.”)

The revised Labyrinth is available now, and yours to order after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 24, 2013 at 10:23

Posted in DVD, News, Reissues, Sting