The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for October 30th, 2013

Merry Christmas, Baby! “A Very Special Christmas” Reissued with New DVD at Target Stores

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A Very Special Christmas TargetIf you can get over the shock of a good amount of holiday CDs available on the shelves at Target, you’ll find a surprise new exclusive: a reissue of the classic 1987 compilation A Very Special Christmas with a brand new DVD about the long-running holiday benefit series.

Produced by acclaimed engineer-turned-label impresario Jimmy Iovine, A Very Special Christmas featured the brightest stars in pop music, from Springsteen to Madonna, recording new versions of classic carols (plus one modern classic, Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis”). Nearly all of its 15 tracks have become staples of holiday radio, and the original album has moved more than 4 million units in the United States. The best part? Proceeds from the sale of the album went to The Special Olympics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s worldwide organization allowing intellectually-disabled children and adults to compete in sporting events. (Over $100 million has been raised by the album series, now spanning across nine titles.)

With a new subtitle, The Story and The Music, appended to its iconic Keith Haring-designed album sleeve, this new version of A Very Special Christmas features a new 60-minute DVD of highlights from the series’ quarter century-plus history. It comes alongside the most common pressing of the original AVSC album – which substituted a live cover of “Back Door Santa” by Bon Jovi for the same band’s studio recording of a new ballad, “I Wish Every Day Could Be Like Christmas.” (You’ll hear more from us soon on the package, from mastering to bonus content, in a forthcoming review – albeit one closer to the holiday season!)

Head to your local Target to buy this new set now, or order it through the store’s website. Full product specs are after the jump!

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The Best That He Could Do: John Mellencamp Collects Albums for New Box

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Mellencamp big boxWhile the 1980s have become synonymous with pop/rock music that allegedly valued image, craft and style above the emotional rush of the music itself, one of the decade’s most popular entertainers had an image as rough-hewn and rugged as they could come: John Mellencamp. The Indiana-bred musician earned his keep making tuneful rock steeped in the traditions of the genre as well as the vision of the average, working-class middle American. And with a list of hits that includes “Jack and Diane,” “Small Town,” “Pink Houses” and “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” – just part of the list of 22 Top 40 hits he scored – it’s safe to say Mellencamp was a winner.

This year, Universal Music Enterprises will celebrate Mellencamp en large with John Mellencamp 1978-2012, a box set featuring virtually all of his solo material from start to finish. This 19-disc set features his early works for Riva Records as John Cougar (a nom de rock bestowed upon him early in his career when he’d signed to MCA for two poppy albums omitted from this set), including breakthrough albums American Fool (1982), which yielded chart-topper “Jack and Diane” and No. 2 hit “Hurts So Good,” and 1983’s Uh-Huh, the first credited to “John Cougar Mellencamp.” The singer continued to have major success with his brand of increasingly country-infused rock through the decade, signing to Mercury for 1985’s Scarecrow and remaining there through the 1990s. That same year, Mellencamp was one of the co-founders of the Farm Aid charity concert series, raising money for those who made American agriculture their life’s work.

After a period in the 1990s that saw him experiment with urban and rhythmic music, Mellencamp returned to the top of the charts in 1994 with a cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” which hit No. 3. In 1998, Mellencamp released his first of three albums for Columbia, including the folk covers project Trouble No More in 2003. 2010’s Life, Death, Love and Freedom saw Mellencamp, along with producer T-Bone Burnett, move into a very critically-acclaimed period of soulful roots rock, a vein he’s tapped ever since (most recently with this year’s release of the soundtrack to Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a stage musical he co-created with author Stephen King.)

While bonus tracks are few and far between on John Mellencamp 1978-2012 – the box uses the 2005 remasters of his Mercury catalogue, all of which had a bonus track appended – UMe has reached across the aisle to include all of his studio material for other labels, including Columbia, Hear Music and Rounder Records. There’s also one long out-of-print disc from Mellencamp’s career in this set: the soundtrack to the 1992 film Falling from Grace, which Mellencamp starred in and directed. The disc features two new Mellencamp originals plus tracks from Janis Ian, Dwight Yoakam and others.

Each disc is housed in a uniform, black-bordered mini-jacket, and it’s all packed in a neat little box that looks to fit nicely on a shelf. It’s out on December 10 and can be pre-ordered now. And, as always, a full track list is after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 30, 2013 at 11:27

Review: Humble Pie, “Performance – Rockin’ the Fillmore: The Complete Recordings”

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Humble Pie - PerformanceToday, 105 Second Avenue in New York City looks inconspicuous enough, housing a branch of a savings bank.  But for just over three years, between March 1968 and June 1971, that address was home to Bill Graham’s Fillmore East.  The grandiose 2,830-capacity venue built in 1925 as a Yiddish theatre was sadly demolished around 1996, having survived transformations into The New Fillmore East and the landmark gay disco The Saint.  Though the building no longer exists, with the bank occupying its former lobby and apartments built on the site of the auditorium, much of the music played during its days as The Fillmore East has endured on record.  One of the most celebrated albums recorded at the Fillmore was Humble Pie’s Performance: Rockin’ the Fillmore.  Recorded in May 1971, just weeks before the venue’s demise, Performance was a double-album of electric blues fury, with just seven lengthy tracks spread over four sides.  It remains a fiery, visceral live document of the quartet in concert, and it’s just gotten better – four times better.  The new 4-CD box set from Omnivore Recordings includes all four of the band’s complete performances at the Fillmore East from which the original LP sequence was derived: two shows on Friday, May 28 and two more on Saturday, May 29.

One of the first bands for whom “supergroup” was an accurate appellation, Humble Pie brought together three great vocalist-instrumentalists – Steve Marriott of The Small Faces (rhythm guitar), Peter Frampton of The Herd (lead guitar) and Greg Ridley of Spooky Tooth (bass) – with drummer Jerry Shirley of the lesser-known The Apostolic Intervention.  The resulting band was a four-piece combo with power to spare.  Performance followed four studio albums, none of which captured the total majesty of the band’s full-throttle stage act.  When manager Dee Anthony (whose diverse client list also included Peter Allen and Joe Cocker) suggested a live album, the band jumped at the chance.

It’s easy to see why in Omnivore’s deluxe presentation.  Not only were the band members some of the most exciting instrumentalists on the blues-rock scene, but the Fillmore East itself created a certain frisson that translated particularly well to live discs.  It’s no wonder that Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young all recorded famed albums there.  In fact, Hendrix’s frequent collaborator Eddie Kramer originally recorded the concerts.  Electricity surges through all four sold-out sets which originally occurred on the bill between opening act Fanny and headliner Lee Michaels.  These four muscular sets are a potent trip back to the days when a band could bravely and somewhat self-indulgently transform a 7-minute song like Dr. John’s “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” into a jam more than three times that long – and captivate an audience in doing so.  Each set is presented in complete form, including the enjoyably cheerful between-song banter.

After the jump, we’ll take a closer look! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 30, 2013 at 09:39