The Second Disc

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Archive for December 2013

Here’s to a “Brand New Year”

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As I write this, we’re one day closer to ending our fourth – fourth! – year of posting catalogue news and views on The Second Disc. To think a year or so ago people were worried the CD would cease to exist as a unit of transporting music to your ears; this year has seen one of the best box sets I have ever had the pleasure of hearing, with so many other wonderful treasures along the way. (And already we have a ton of heavy hitters to anticipate in 2014, including great new Omnivore reissues, more Beatles catalogue activity and a highly-anticipated new/old Johnny Cash album!)

I often hesitate getting too personal on The Second Disc, which can be difficult. After all, it’s so difficult for even the most discerning music critic to separate the listening experience from the beautiful, complex emotions that music makes you feel. But like many of you, I imagine 2013 has been a year of ups and downs. I have seen this site – a site I started to stave off boredom and depression after graduating college – turn into a flourishing community of stories and expressions, with people coming from literally all ends of the globe to read what we have to say. I’m very confident that some of the ideas Joe and I are cooking up for you, our treasured readers, will continue to make us one of the best places to read about your favorite reissues, box sets and compilations.

But 2013, for all its highest highs, has been a year of challenges, too. I end this particular year the same way I started it: saying goodbye to a member of my very close-knit family. No matter how strong you are in the face of such tragedy – or how many times you’ve had to bid farewell to a family member – it’s never easy and it’s never fun. Sometimes, at its worst, it feels like it’ll take more than a few hugs and fond memories to make things feel better.

This is, of course, why I think so many of us turn to music from days past: to feel both the exhilaration of remembering how great things may have been and the promise of a bright future ahead. And this is also why I’m glad for “Brand New Year,” the first recording by Eric Carmen in well over a decade.

Slated for physical release on Legacy Recordings’ forthcoming compilation The Essential Eric Carmen in March, “Brand New Year” finds the former Raspberries frontman and solo hitmaker in a gorgeously reflective mood. “We won’t let them break us down,” Carmen sings, with all the quiet power of a true musical survivor, “as long as we still believe.” And – dare I say – that chorus, with a gorgeous “stack-o-vocals” from the Wondermints, helps lift Carmen close to the same pop pantheon as frequent Wondermints collaborator Brian Wilson.

As we close the book on another year and look eagerly toward the dawning of a new one, I am again reminded of how glad I am to have music like this in my life – and how blessed I truly am to share it with everyone who’s reading our work here on The Second Disc. So here’s wishing you a Brand New Year, filled with hope, happiness and, as always, great music.

(And do download “Brand New Year” at the link above, and give a read to some words from Eric as to how the song came together.)

Written by Mike Duquette

December 31, 2013 at 12:00

The Year in Reissues: The 2013 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWelcome to The Second Disc’s Fourth Annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Though this is a slow time of year for news, it’s the perfect time to look at the year in review.  As with every year’s awards, our goals are simple: to recognize as many of the year’s most essential reissues and catalogue titles as possible, and to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who make these releases possible in what many might deem an increasingly-challenging retail landscape.  These labels have bucked the trends to prove that there’s still a demand for physical catalogue music.  And from our vantage point, there’s still great strength and health in this corner of the music industry.  By my very rough estimate, The Second Disc covered around 500 releases in 2013 – and we firmly believe that the best is still yet to come.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to the creators of the music and releases we cover, and to you, the readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past – this site’s raison d’etre – alive and well.

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2013?  Please join us in recognizing 2013′s best of the best.

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out!

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Happy Holidays From The Second Disc

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Christmas Tree

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…not even The Second Disc.  It’s that time of year, folks, where we hope you’ll be spending time with your loved ones, looking back on the events of the past twelve months, and looking forward to a happy, healthy and fulfilling 2014.

Watch this space for some special surprises coming up soon…and rest assured that we’ll be back on a regular posting schedule in the first full week of the New Year with even more news, reviews and features just for you! We’re entering our fourth year in January, and we can promise you that 2014 will be the most exciting yet for The Second Disc.

In the meantime, Mike and I would like to wish you and yours the merriest of holidays and a very Happy New Year!  Cheers!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 24, 2013 at 22:19

Posted in News

Kritzerland Promises Swashbuckling Adventure With Elmer Bernstein’s “The Buccaneer”

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The BuccaneerKritzerland’s final release of 2013 is sure to be one of its most talked-about.  Today, the label announced an expanded and remastered CD presentation of Elmer Bernstein’s score to The Buccaneer.  The 1958 Paramount Picture starred the King of Siam himself, Yul Brynner, opposite Claire Bloom, Charles Boyer and Charlton Heston in a rip-roaring adventure tale loosely based on real life and set during the War of 1812.

Director Anthony Quinn’s film was a remake of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1938 movie of the same name.  The legendary DeMille had planned to direct himself, but with his health failing, he turned to his then-son-in-law Quinn to take the reins.   Both versions tell the story of Jean Lafitte, a French privateer who aided General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans.  For his sole film as a director, Quinn’s company was led by Brynner as Lafitte, with Heston playing the key supporting role of Jackson.  (This was Heston’s second motion picture portrayal of Jackson; he previously played him in 1953’s The President’s Lady.)  The score was written by the prolific Elmer Bernstein in the same year he also scored pictures including Kings Go Forth and Some Came Running.  A fixture on Kritzerland, Bernstein just appeared on the label’s recent John Wayne at Fox compendium which featured his 1961 soundtrack to The Comancheros.

Kritzerland describes Bernstein’s score as “a beauty…filled with big and bold music and classic Bernstein themes.  The ‘Main Title’ begins with a wonderful Bernstein fanfare leading into a glorious and heroic theme, more fanfares, and then an exquisitely beautiful theme followed by more fanfares – it’s everything you’d want in a main title from a time when composers really knew how to set the tone of the film in its first minutes.  The rest of his marvelous score is loaded with drama, romance and intrigue, all in the unique and colorful Bernstein style.”

After the jump: what never-before-released music will you hear on the new Buccaneer? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 24, 2013 at 10:56

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Various Artists, “The South Side of Soul Street”

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South Side of Soul StreetThe trusty musical archaeologists at the Omnivore label have the perfect stocking stuffer for those looking for a little bit of southern soul hung by the chimney with care.  The 2-CD anthology  The South Side of Soul Street (OVCD-68, 2013), collecting the A- and B-sides of 20 singles released by the Minaret label between 1967 and 1976, makes the argument that Valparaiso, Florida’s Playground Recording Studio deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as Muscle Shoals, American Sound, Stax and Hi.

Founded in Nashville in the early 1960s, the Minaret label was purchased in 1966 by Finley Duncan.  Three years later, the producer-entrepreneur founded Playground, where he specialized in smokin’ R&B grooves.   Though none of Minaret’s artists broke through to the top echelon of soul music, The South Side of Soul Street still shows off some of the best southern soul you’ve never heard – with the genre’s trademark smoldering vocals, taut guitars, dirty brass, funky bass, tinkling piano or churchy organ.Why didn’t Minaret break through to the big time?  It’s hard to say, based on these forty mini-treasures.  Most likely, the vocalists’ styles weren’t distinctive enough, while most of the songs simply don’t stack up to the greatest works of Willie Mitchell, Isaac Hayes and David Porter, or Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham (who is actually represented on this disc).  But there’s still the real joy of discovery in finding just how good these lesser-known artists with names like Big John Hamilton, Genie Brooks, Doris Allen and Leroy Lloyd actually were.

After the jump, we’ll trek to Soul Street with the Minaret gang! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 23, 2013 at 14:11

Holiday Gift Guide Review: “Here’s Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection”

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Here's EdieIn one of the many testimonials that enhance the booklet to the first-ever DVD release of Here’s Edie: The Edie Adams Television Collection, Carl Reiner may have put it best and most succinctly: “Edie Adams…a combination of beauty, brains and talent…what else do you need?”  Based on the evidence in this thoroughly delightful 4-DVD, 12-hour, 21-episode set now available from MVD Visual (MVD 59200), you don’t need anything else.  Adams just about had it all, and showed it off for the 1962-1964 television variety show.  Here’s Edie aired on Thursday nights, alternating weeks with Sid Caesar’s program on ABC.  It was good company, indeed.

“Variety” was the emphasis of Adams’ sophisticated, unorthodox program.  Though entertainment was the primary objective, the trailblazing Adams also hoped that Here’s Edie would inform its audience.  Nobody stood in her way, not even from the network.  Rare for a female at the time who wasn’t Lucille Ball, Adams was given creative control of her show.  She produced it, owned it, and even designed her own wardrobe!  Jazz, classical and opera artists all got equal time alongside the expected pop stars.  A cursory glance at the guest stars featured on these DVDs reveals appearances by the illustrious likes of Duke Ellington, Andre Previn, Stan Getz, Laurindo Almeida, Charlie Byrd, Lionel Hampton, Nancy Wilson, and Lauritz Melchior, plus Sammy Davis, Jr., Bobby Darin, Johnny Mathis and John Raitt.

The singer-actress-comedienne was as much at home on television as she was on stage and on film.  She had appeared with her husband Ernie Kovacs on a variety of programs since the early days of television, and when Kovacs tragically perished in a car accident in 1962, Adams had no choice but to press forward.  Kovacs’ series Take a Good Look and ABC specials had been sponsored by Dutch Masters cigars; the brand’s parent, Consolidated Cigar, turned to Edie to become the spokeswoman for their Muriel brand.  Muriel sponsored Here’s Edie (renamed The Edie Adams Show in fall 1963) and the star’s association with Muriel would, remarkably, last till the 1990s.  The entertaining, musical Muriel spots are among the highlights of these discs.

We’ll look further after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 23, 2013 at 11:21

WINNERS, WE HAVE WINNERS! Week 2 of Second Discmas!

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Christmas Tree



Written by Mike Duquette

December 22, 2013 at 16:26

Posted in Features, Giveaways!, Soundtracks

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Holiday Gift Guide Review: The Who, “Tommy: Super Deluxe Edition”

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Tommy SDE

The opening chords of The Who’s Tommy may be among the most famous in all of rock.  By the time the horns kicked in, around the forty-second mark, it was already clear that this double-album wasn’t business as usual for the heavy mod-rockers.  In fact, the melodic, thunderous, commanding piece of music that opened the 1969 album sounded a bit like the overture to a Broadway musical, weaving together themes that would follow.  Thirty-four years later, it would become one.  By the time The Who’s Tommy opened at New York’s St. James Theatre, the deaf, dumb and blind boy created by Pete Townshend had already been reborn in various stage productions, a controversial film, all-star record albums, and of course, on the concert stage as embodied by Roger Daltrey.  What’s left to discover, then, about Tommy?

Following the 2011 Super Deluxe box set dedicated to The Who’s Quadrophenia, the band has turned its attention to the album that put “rock opera” squarely in the lexicon, remastering the original work and adding 20 demos (most previously unissued), a new 5.1 album mix on Blu-ray and a 21-track live disc primarily culled The Who’s 1969 performances.  Just as essential to the package is an 80-page hardcover book that explores the phenomenon of Tommy.  This is the most immersive edition of Tommy yet, inviting listeners to revisit The Who’s amazing journey.  It’s also a more daunting project than even Quadrophenia.  That album has always existed in the shadow of big brother Tommy, and the Super Deluxe Edition revealed – particularly with Townshend’s demos – a fascinating world of might-have-beens and alternate roads not taken.  The material on Tommy is so much more familiar, and the revelations aren’t nearly as plentiful.  But that’s not to say that it’s not a journey worth taking.

Read on after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 20, 2013 at 14:13

Holiday Gift Guide Review: Matt Monro, “The Rarities Collection” and “Alternate Monro”

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Matt Monro - Rarities CollectionHow lovely to sit here in the shade, with none of the woes of man and maid/I’m glad I’m not young anymore!  The rivals that don’t exist at all, the feeling you’re only two feet tall/I’m glad I’m not young anymore! 

Matt Monro recorded those Alan Jay Lerner lyrics in January 1973 at just 42 years of age.  But by that point, the golden-voiced singer had already acquired enough experience to interpret them with supreme confidence and natural charm.  Monro’s reassuring, crisply impeccable tone earned him early comparisons to Frank Sinatra, but it wasn’t long before others would be compared to Matt Monro.  When, in 2012, the assets of the beleaguered EMI music empire were broken up, Capitol Records went to Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) and Parlophone Records to Warner Music Group (WMG).  As Monro recorded for both onetime EMI labels, it became clear that his entire catalogue – along with that of other artists like Shirley Bassey – would no longer reside under one roof.  What would become of the top-drawer Matt Monro catalogue program spearheaded by Monro’s daughter Michele Monro and audio engineer Richard Moore through projects including The Singer’s Singer, The Man Behind the Voice, Words and Music, and the Rare Monro series?

Luckily, Monro and Moore have already introduced two projects on the “new” Parlophone, drawing on his recordings now controlled by that new-old label.  Alternate Monro presents 27 never-before-released versions of hits and album tracks, as well as versions of songs that first appeared on The Rare Monro and Matt Uncovered: The Rarer Monro. (Both of these essential titles are soon to disappear as a result of the EMI upheaval, so those interested in owning these should snap them up now.)  It’s been joined by The Rarities Collection, a 3-CD box set that’s “budget” in price only.  This deluxe set brings together the Parlophone-controlled material from The Rare Monro and The Rarer Monro, with numerous sonic upgrades and even a couple of previously unissued tracks.

Hit the jump to dive in to both releases! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 20, 2013 at 09:49

Lucinda Williams’ Self-Titled LP Back Into Print, Expanded for January

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Lucinda WilliamsLucinda Williams’ self-titled third record – arguably, featuring her first great moments as a country singer-songwriter – will get reissued as a double-disc set next month on the artist’s new imprint label, affiliated with independent label Thirty Tigers.

Initially released on the Rough Trade label, Lucinda Williams saw the Louisiana native craft a unique blend of country, folk, blues and rock that was miles away from her first two records for Smithsonian Folkways in 1979 and 1980 (the former of which was all covers). Tracks like “Crescent City,” “Passionate Kisses,” “Changed the Locks” and “Side of the Road” were alternately celebratory and heartrending, bursting forth with unbridled emotion. “Passionate Kisses” was covered by Mary Chapin Carpenter in 1993, winning a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance (and another nod for Song of the Year) in 1994; “Changed the Locks” was covered by Tom Petty for the soundtrack to She’s the One in 1996, while Ben Folds delivered a stirring version of “Side of the Road” for an EP in 2005.

As for Williams, she continued to work deliberately, releasing only two albums in the next decade: Sweet Old World for the Chameleon label in 1992, and signing with major label Mercury for the critically-acclaimed Car Wheels on a Gravel Road in 1998. Her most recent album, Blessed, was released in 2011.

Out of print for over a decade, Lucinda Williams features the album remastered from the original tapes, having recently been discovered after years of misplacement. A bonus disc combines an unreleased 1989 live show from The Netherlands with a fistful of live radio sessions first released on a 1998 CD reissue. The package is rounded out with liner notes from Robin Hurley (former A&R for Rough Trade) and music journalist Chris Morris.

The new remaster, which will also be available on vinyl, hits stores January 14. After the jump, check out the full track list, plus Amazon links.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 19, 2013 at 15:57