The Second Disc

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Archive for December 11th, 2013

Want, Too: Rufus Wainwright Announces First Compilation

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When I was about to listen to his tape, I remember clearly I was thinking, “Gee, if he has the mom’s musicality and smarts, and the dad’s smarts and voice, that’d be nice”…Then I put it on and I said, “Oh, my God, this is stunning.”

-Lenny Waronker on Rufus Wainwright

Rufus VibrateThe scope and longevity of Rufus Wainwright’s career is almost underserved by his own historic musical lineage. The eldest child of folk singers Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle (who would divorce when Rufus was three), his music is at times evocative of both but in a completely more adventurous direction. Rufus’ style is considerably more baroque than either of his parents, with a style that recalls theatrical tradition (Wainwright recently announced a second opera for performance in 2018) and a songbook overflowing with beautiful, yearning compositions.

After some 15 years of recording and touring, Wainwright will release Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright this spring in standard and two-disc deluxe editions. The standard edition covers 18 tracks, including songs from nearly all of his studio albums between his critically-acclaimed self-titled debut for DreamWorks Records in 1998 and 2012’s Out of the Game for Decca Records. That disc is augmented by a non-LP track (and arguably one of Wainwright’s most famous recordings) – a piano-driven cover of Leonard Cohen’s now-immortal “Hallelujah,” released on the hit soundtrack to the animated film Shrek in 2001 – and a new track, the perhaps-appropriately named “Me and Liza.” (Wainwright’s love for Liza Minnelli’s mother, Judy Garland, hit a fever pitch in 2006 when he performed a pair of shows in tribute to Judy’s acclaimed live set at Carnegie Hall in 1961; a resultant live album was released the following year.)

The deluxe edition, meanwhile, features even more rare and unreleased content, including soundtrack songs (“La Complainte de la Butte” from Moulin Rouge!, “The Maker Makes” from Brokeback Mountain, a stunning take on The Beatles’ “Across the Universe” for the film I Am Sam), several exclusive bonus cuts (such as “WWIII” from the Out of the Game sessions, making its physical debut here); another new track, “Chic and Pointless” and a host of unreleased live content, including tracks from a celebrated gig at London’s Kentwood House in 2010. (At least one of those tracks was released on House of Rufus, Universal U.K.’s mega complete box set of Wainwright’s career up to 2011.)

Both versions of Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright hit stores in the U.S. on March 4. Hit the jump for pre-order links and full track lists!

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 11, 2013 at 16:55

Baby Ride Easy: Lost Johnny Cash Album Unearthed for March Release

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Johnny Cash Out Among the Stars

Though the catalogue of Johnny Cash has been mined numerous times, for acclaimed Bootleg volumes and even a Complete Album Collection box set, there’s still more of the story of the Man in Black yet to be told.  A crucial part of that story will be revealed on March 25, 2014 when Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings release Out Among the Stars, a “lost album” comprised of twelve recently discovered studio recordings made by Cash between 1981 and 1984.

Produced by Nashville legend Billy Sherrill (Charlie Rich, George Jones, Tammy Wynette) and recorded at that city’s Columbia Studios and 1111 Sound Studios, Out Among the Stars is a rare closer look at the music being created during one of the lowest ebbs in Cash’s personal and professional lives.  His long tenure at the label was coming to a close, with albums like The Baron (1981), The Adventures of Johnny Cash (1982) Johnny 99 (1983) and Rainbow (1985) all failing to ignite the charts despite some fine material worthy of rediscovery.  The recordings on Out Among the Stars were made before he departed Columbia for Mercury, where he began his next chapter with 1987’s Johnny Cash is Coming to Town.

On these songs – which are not demos or alternate versions of previously released material – Cash is joined by his wife June Carter Cash and fellow Highwayman Waylon Jennings for duets.  He’s supported by a distinguished ensemble of musicians including the young Marty Stuart on guitar and mandolin plus first-call session vets like Jerry Kennedy (guitar), Pete Drake (steel guitar), Hargus “Pig” Robbins (piano) and Henry Strzelecki (bass).  Two of the songs, “Call Your Mother” and “I Came to Believe,” are original Cash compositions.

The material that will premiere on Out Among the Stars was discovered in 2012 when John Carter Cash joined the Legacy team to catalogue his parents’ archives in Tennessee and at the Sony Music Archives.  Cash states, “When my parents passed away, it became necessary to go through this material.  We found these recordings that were produced by Billy Sherrill in the early 1980s…they were beautiful.”  He told The Associated Press that “Nashville at the time was in a completely different place. It was the Urban Cowboy phase. It was pop country, and dad was not that. I think him working with Billy was sort of an effort by the record company to put him more in the circle of Music Row and see what could happen at the heart of that machine.”  Sherrill, after all, was an architect of the crossover countrypolitan sound that dominated so much of the country music coming from Nashville.

After the jump, we have more details plus the full track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 11, 2013 at 14:31

Posted in Johnny Cash, News

Marc Bolan Remembered: T. Rextasy Sweeps Cherry Red With John’s Children, Gloria Jones

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John's ChildrenIt’s T. Rextasy at the Cherry Red Group, with two recent titles exploring the music of T. Rex’s Marc Bolan.  The Grapefruit imprint has collected two discs’ worth of material from Bolan’s early band John’s Children, while RPM has reissued two albums from Gloria Jones on one CD including the Bolan-produced Vixen.

By the time Marc Bolan joined the ranks of John’s Children in 1967, the British band had already established quite a reputation.  Encouraged by manager Simon Napier-Bell to engage in outrageous antics, Andy Ellison (vocals), Geoff McClelland (guitar), John Hewlett (bass) and Chris Townson (drums) were known for their high-octane live shows.  The band might trash their instruments, spill fake blood or engage in fisticuffs.  But record buyers cottoned to the group’s music, too.  First single “Smashed Blocked” cracked the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.; it was retitled “The Love I Thought I’d Found” in the U.K. due to the drug connotation of “blocked,” or high on amphetamines.  Their second single “Just What You Want – Just What You’ll Get,” with a guitar solo from guest Jeff Beck, hit the British Top 40.  “Not the Sort of Girl (You’d Like to Take to Bed)” was intended as the group’s third single, but the U.K. Columbia label rejected it for rather obvious reasons.  The band moved to Track Records, home of The Who, and carried on, but still more controversy was to come.  In March 1967, McClelland was replaced by Marc Bolan, who penned John’s Children’s next 45: “Desdemona.”  The BBC banned that one, unhappy with the “lift up your skirt and fly” lyric.  Marc and co. couldn’t get a break; their U.S. label, White Whale, rejected their album, too.  The reason why?  It was entitled Orgasm.

The mod-psych rockers went on to further fame (infamy?) when they were booted off a Who tour for being “too loud and violent.”  (That said, drummer Chris Townson subbed for Keith Moon for a few days at the end of The Who’s 1967 tour.)   A long life wasn’t in the cards for John’s Children, however.  Bolan departed the group after a mere four months, unhappy with Napier-Bell’s production of his song “Midsummer Night’s Scene,” a June 1967 single.  Bolan went on to form Tyrannosaurus Rex.  The remaining members briefly soldiered on, with Chris Townson switching to guitar and Chris Colville handling drums.  A couple more singles were issued including a version of Bolan’s “Mustang Ford” (as “Go-Go Girl”) recorded after he left the line-up, but John’s Children broke up in 1968, not reuniting until the mid-1990s.

Grapefruit’s A Strange Affair: The Sixties Recordings features 52 tracks on two CDs.  The first disc, Singles and Rarities, includes a number of Andy Ellison solo tracks along with all of the band’s U.K. 45s.  The second disc is built around Orgasm (which was finally released in 1970, after the split) plus bonus tracks such as alternate versions, mixes and instrumentals.  (Most of these have been previously released on various hard-to-find compilations over the years.)  The new liner notes in the 24-page booklet have been written by Ellison, including track-by-track annotations.  Nick Watson has remastered, and a note indicates that as the original master tapes have been “mislaid or lost,” Watson has “for the most part gone back to the original records rather than using existing CD source[s].”  As this is the most comprehensive John’s Children-related anthology yet, it’s the perfect chance to discover the band that was “louder than The Who.”  It’s available now from Grapefruit!

After the jump, we flash-forward to 1976, and Gloria Jones’ Vixen! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 11, 2013 at 11:29