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Archive for October 31st, 2013

Slowly It’s Coming Back: Universal U.K. Plans Del Amitri Reissues

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Del Amitri TwistedIf you’ve been wanting to dive deep into the discography of Scottish rock band Del Amitri, Universal Music is satisfying your needs with a trio of double-disc reissues of the band’s first three albums for A&M Records in 2014.

While the group, anchored by singer/bassist Justin Currie and singer/guitarist Ian Harvie (both principal songwriters as well), only achieved one hit of note in the U.S., the peppy Top 10 single “Roll to Me,” Del Amitri managed a solid streak of reliable album alt-rock in late ’80s and early ’90s England. Songs like “Nothing Ever Happens” and “Always the Last to Know” were moderate U.K. hits, and a steady touring schedule kept their fans satisfied. While things were rocky for the band after the sudden success of “Roll to Me” – their last album was 2002’s experimental Can You Do Me Good? – things seem to be smoothing themselves out for the band, who will go out on a tour next year in the U.K. (the lineup consisting of Currie, Harvie, longtime keyboardist Andy Alston and their most recent sidemen, guitarist Kris Dollimore and drummer Ashley Soan.

Mercury/UMC will reissue Waking Hours (1989), Change Everything (1992) and Twisted (1995) on January 20, each containing a bonus disc featuring every non-LP B-side from the period, more than 50 bonus tracks in all. Those who pre-order from Universal’s official store qualify to win a pair of tickets for the band’s Hammersmith Apollo show on February 7, along with pre-show soundcheck and meet and greet opportunities.

Amazon U.K. links and full track lists, meanwhile, are after the jump. Special thanks to longtime friend of The Second Disc Matt Wardlaw for the tip!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 31, 2013 at 14:48

Posted in Del Amitri, News, Reissues

Review: Perry Como, “Just Out of Reach: Rarities from Nashville Produced by Chet Atkins”

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Perry Como - Just Out of Reach“Hey, let’s do it again and again,” invited Perry Como on the bouncy opening track of 1975’s Just Out of Reach.  The Tony Hatch/Jackie Trent song, previously recorded by singer-actor Jim Dale on This is Me, was perfectly suited to Como’s warm, soothing tones.  Who wouldn’t take him up on the offer to do it again and again?  As the musical landscape of the 1960s and 1970s drastically shifted, the one-time big band “boy singer” wasn’t quite as ubiquitous a presence as he once was. Still, the crooner continued to notch surprising hits: 1965’s Top 30 Pop/Top 5 AC “Dream On Little Dreamer,” 1970’s Top 10 Pop/No. 1 AC “It’s Impossible,” 1973’s Top 30 Pop/No. 1 AC “And I Love You So.”  Both “Dream On Little Dreamer” and “And I Love You So” teamed Como with Nashville legend Chet Atkins as producer.  The Atkins sessions breathed new life into Como’s career and repertoire, so further dates in Nashville were inevitable.  This period of Como’s long RCA Records career is anthologized on Real Gone Music’s new Just Out of Reach – Rarities from Nashville Produced by Chet Atkins (RGM-0191, 2013).  The core of this very welcome release is the never-before-on-CD album Just Out of Reach (1975), but it’s joined by other pop-meets-country productions helmed by Atkins for Como in 1973 and 1975.  Five of these are non-LP singles, two are Spanish language tracks making their American debuts, and six are previously unreleased anywhere.  It adds up to an absorbing and nostalgic trip with two of RCA’s premiere artists.

“Let’s Do It Again” came all the way from London.  But despite the album’s title, stylistic versatility was certainly not Just Out of Reach for the 63-year old vocalist.  None of the material was too radical for so-called MOR audiences of the day, but all of these tunes were treated with respect and supreme confidence by Como.  Though Atkins produced the Nashville sessions, he didn’t play on them.  Instead, Como was supported by “Nashville” David Briggs and Randy Goodrum on piano; Beegie Cruser on electric piano; Mike Leech and Henry Strzelecki on bass; Larrie London, Kenny Malone and Buddy Harman on drums; John Christopher, Paul Yandell and Bobby Thompson on rhythm guitar; and Reggie Young, Pete Wade and Grady Martin on electric guitar.

Como’s voice is tailor-made for familiar ballads like John D. Loudermilk’s “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” and Lennon and McCartney’s “Here, There and Everywhere.”  But the latter surprises when it cuts through the Nashville Sound with a brief electric guitar solo. Ben Peters’ “Let It Be Love” is more squarely in that traditional vein.  Its loping melody is brought to life with tinkling piano and tasteful guitar licks plus cooing, prominent background vocals supported by gentle orchestration.  Peters’ “Love Put a Song in My Heart” is in a more AM pop bag.  Como is playful on Porter Jordan and Bob Duncan’s “Let Me Call You Baby Tonight” but at his interpretive best with Kris Kristofferson’s “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again).”  The sensibilities of the older and younger generations found common ground on Como’s pretty but also deeply affecting reading of the sad, reflective lyric.

“The Grass Keeps Right On Growin’,” written by Gloria Shayne of “Do You Hear What I Hear” fame, is one of the more unusual tracks here, veering between dramatic, string-drenched verses and an up-tempo chorus.  James Stein’s “Make Love to Life” isn’t the strongest song on Just Out of Reach, but its sing-along quality fit the “Magic Moments” and “Hot Diggity Dog” singer like a glove.  And Como makes the title track, popularized by soul great Solomon Burke, his own.

After the jump, we’ll look at Como and Atkins’ outtakes and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 31, 2013 at 12:56

Posted in Chet Atkins, Perry Como, Reissues, Reviews

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Happy Halloween! “Wicked” Turns 10, Celebrates With Deluxe Reissue

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Wicked - Deluxe“No one mourns the wicked,” goes the opening song of Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz’s musical Wicked.  But the musical, which last night celebrated its tenth anniversary on Broadway, won’t have any need for mourners any time soon.  “The Untold Tale of the Witches of Oz” is still going strong as it enters its tenth year and shows no signs of slowing down!  Its fresh new perspective on The Wizard of Oz and intricate backstory of both The Land of Oz and the titular Witch has led Wicked to play to sold-out houses eight times a week at New York’s Gershwin Theatre, not to mention in London, Auckland, Mexico City, Tokyo and Seoul, on two United States tours, and one in the United Kingdom.  To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the musical sensation created by librettist Holzman (My So-Called Life, thirtysomething) and composer-lyricist Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin) from the 2005 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, UMe’s Verve label is reissuing its Original Broadway Cast Recording in a new 2-CD deluxe edition.  It was originally slated to arrive in stores on November 19 but retailers are now showing a November 25 date.

The stats surrounding Wicked are nothing short of unbelievable.  The musical directed by Joe Mantello (Assassins, Other Desert Cities) opened on October 30, 2003 in New York, and has since played 13 countries, grossed plenty of green (over $3.1 billion!), and been seen by over 38 million theatergoers.  Marc Platt, David Stone, Jon B. Platt and the Araca Group co-produced the musical with Universal Pictures, and Platt recently confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that “it’s the most profitable project in terms of profit margin in Universal Pictures’ history.”  So the witches originally portrayed by Idina Menzel (Elphaba) and Kristin Chenoweth (Glinda) have even overtaken the likes of E.T. and Jaws!  Menzel netted one of the musical’s three Tony Awards (out of ten nominations) for her incendiary performance; Wicked also picked up seven Drama Desk Awards including for Holzman’s book, Schwartz’s lyrics, and Outstanding Musical.

The Grammy Award-winning original cast recording, produced by Schwartz, was released just weeks after the musical’s opening, arriving in stores from UMe’s Decca Broadway label on December 16, 2003.  It, too, has been a success story.  The album peaked at No. 71 on the Billboard 200 in 2012 and 2013 per, and has also reached the Top 5 of the Top Pop Catalog Chart in 2009, 2012 and 2013.  Wicked was certified Double Platinum in 2010, no small feat for a cast album today.  Wicked and its music have also appeared on Glee, Jeopardy, The Simpsons, Ugly Betty and Saturday Night Live, just to name a few.  “Popular,” one of the musical’s songs to take on a life of its own, was sampled by Kanye West and Drake for their own “Popular” in 2010, while more recently, Mika has incorporated the catchy song introduced by Chenoweth into his “Popular Song,” with vocals on the album version by Priscilla Renea and the single by Ariana Grande.  Grande’s single version has cracked the Billboard Top 100 at No. 87.

After the jump: a look back at the 2008 reissue of the cast recording, plus details on the upcoming edition! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 31, 2013 at 10:04