The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for November 25th, 2013

It’s a Scream! “Rhumba” Takes Latin-Jewish Musical Journey with Carole King, Herb Alpert, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, More

leave a comment »

It's a Scream How LevineLast year, The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation regaled listeners with ‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah, an eclectic and offbeat anthology that breathed life into the concept of a holiday-themed compilation.  With its mission “to look at Jewish history and the Jewish experience through recorded sound” firmly in mind, the organization this year has released another two-disc set that lives up to the much-overused word unique.  Whereas last year’s release focused on the relationship in song between Christmas and Hanukkah, the colorfully-titled It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba (RSR 021) explores an even less familiar topic: the shared history of Latin and Jewish music.  The ties between the two cultures run quite deep, as this set shows over the course of its 41 tracks recorded between 1947 and 1983 and arranged in chronological fashion.

Vocal and instrumental performances sit side by side on It’s a Scream, which takes its title from the 1952 novelty by the saucy Ruth Wallis.  It’s one of many such novelties here, but they transcend that label in the context of Idelsohn’s presentation.  The oldest tracks fall into this category, such as Irving Kaufman’s “Moe the Schmo Takes a Rhumba Lesson,” sung in character as Kaufman’s favorite schmo (or schmoe) and transferred from a crackly 78.  Another is The Barry Sisters’ “Channah from Havanna” dating to the mid-fifties.  The punchline of this comic story-song still can bring a smile.  Mickey Katz, Yiddish comedian, klezmer clarinetist and father of Joel Grey, is represented with the lively and goofy “My Yiddishe Mambo” (not “My Yiddishe Mama,” for sure!) in which he uses his arsenal of exaggerated voices and pulls out all of the showbiz stops.

Fans of the big-band sound will find plenty to delight in here, from leaders including Xavier Cugat (“Miami Beach Rhumba,” a rhumba spin on “Autumn Leaves”), Pupi Campo (“Joe and Paul,” a Yiddish radio jingle performed by a Cuban bandleader with an arrangement by Tito Puente!), Al Gomez (“Sheyn Vi Di Levone,” a Yiddish love song in Spanish), Puente himself (“Pan, Amor Y Cha Cha Cha” with Cugat’s wife, singer Abbe Lane) and many more.

There’s also room for salsa, on tracks like “Marvelous Jew” Larry Harlow’s “Yo Soy Latino,” Eddie Palmieri’s 1963 “El Molestoso,” Willie Colon’s “Junio ‘73,” or “Hava Nageela” from salsa queen Celia Cruz.  Cruz’s exciting take, from 1964, isn’t the only spin on the traditional “Hava Nagila” here, either.  The Hebrew folk song went merengue in 1972 by Dominican pianist Damiron, and got a rock-and-roll makeover when it was crossed with a dance sensation by bandleader Perez Prado to become “The Twist of Hava Nageela” in 1962!  Early doo-wopping rock-and-rollers The Crows (“Gee”) even got into Latin/Jewish fusion with 1954’s punning “Mambo Shevitz (Man Oh Man).”

We have plenty more on this musical exchange of cultures after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 25, 2013 at 14:23

Come and Get It: Remastered Badfinger Hits Collection Released Today

with 5 comments

Badfinger - Timeless

Badfinger fans have had plenty of opportunities to “come and get it” in 2013.  This past spring, the Estate of Pete Ham utilized Pledge Music to release Keyhole Street: Demos 1966-1967, a 2-CD, 50+-track compilation from the late singer-songwriter.  More recently, late last month, Edsel issued its own 2-CD set containing both of Badfinger’s post-Apple records for Warner Bros. plus In Concert at the BBC 1972-3Badfinger/Wish You Were Here/In Concert at the BBC 1972-3 arrived to some fortuitous news, however.  When the September 29 series finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad made pivotal use of Badfinger’s “Baby Blue,” some 10.3 million people heard the song which reached No. 14 back in 1972.  By the next morning, the Todd Rundgren-produced, Pete Ham-written track had been downloaded more than 5,000 times – and roughly another 30,000 times over the following week.  Badfinger had made it…again.  Now, Apple Records is celebrating the band’s endurance with the release of Timeless…The Musical Legacy of Badfinger.

Arriving in stores today in the U.K., Timeless was originally rumored for release nearly two years ago.  A track listing leaked to various online forums in early 2012, and indeed, it’s the sequence being issued on CD today.  The 16-track compilation draws on all four of Badfinger’s Apple albums from 1970 to 1973 (Magic Christian Music, No Dice, Straight Up, and Ass), only overlooking Maybe Tomorrow, released under the band’s original name of The Iveys.  The Warner Bros. years are represented by 1974’s Wish You Were Here, and the compilation concludes with a track from the 1979 Elektra LP Airwaves.

All of the Apple tracks have been derived from the 2010 remasters (reviewed in depth here).  Paul McCartney’s “Come and Get It,” so memorably utilized in the off-the-wall Peter Sellers/Ringo Starr comedy The Magic Christian, is one of four tracks from Magic Christian Music (naturally).   Three songs have been taken from No Dice, including Ham and Evans’ future chart-topper for Harry Nilsson and Mariah Carey, “Without You,” and Ham’s rocking “No Matter What.”  In addition to “Baby Blue,” Straight Up is also represented by two George Harrison productions – Ham’s immortal “Day After Day” (with George on slide guitar!) and “Name of the Game” – plus Joey Molland’s “Suitcase.”  From the 2010 expanded edition of Straight Up, the group composition “I’ll Be the One” has also been selected; Harrison reportedly nixed the song from the original LP for being “too Beatley.”  Just two songs have been lifted from Apple farewell Ass: “Apple of My Eye” and “Timeless,” both Ham songs.  Ham’s “Dennis” appears from Wish You Were Here, while Molland’s “Love is Gonna Come At Last” is the sole pick from Airwaves.

After the jump, we have more details on Timeless including a full track listing with order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 25, 2013 at 10:56