The Second Disc

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Archive for January 6th, 2014

Come Into Their World: Dance Classics From The Emotions, Foxy Arrive On BBR

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Emotions - Come Into Our WorldWe have plenty of news coming your way from Big Break Records as the Cherry Red soul specialists have closed out 2013 and already announced plans for 2014 in a big way.  Before we dive into recent releases from Joe Bataan, The Salsoul Orchestra, Chris Jasper and Herbie Mann, we wouldn’t want you to miss two recent disco-flavored releases from The Emotions and Foxy!

The BBR label welcomes The Emotions, appropriately enough, with the R&B girl group’s 1979 album entitled Come Into Our World.  Jeanette, Wanda and Sheila Hutchinson first combined their voices in song as The Heavenly Sunbeams (also sometimes known as The Hutchinson Sunbeams), but by the late sixties, they expanded their purview from gospel to secular music and signed to the legendary Stax label’s Volt imprint as The Emotions.  The group released three albums at Stax, but by the end of 1975, the historic label had declared bankruptcy.  Undeterred, however, The Emotions turned to an old friend from their hometown of Chicago: onetime Ramsey Lewis Trio drummer and then-Earth Wind & Fire leader Maurice White.

White’s sure commercial instincts and impeccable musicianship proved to be a perfect match for The Emotions.  White and Charles Stepney helmed The Emotions’ 1976 Columbia Records debut Flowers, which earned a Top 5 R&B peak and yielded two hit singles, “Flowers” and “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love.”  The girls had even more reason to Rejoice, however, when the album of that name was released in 1977.  White co-wrote and produced “Best of My Love,” the lead-off track of the Rejoice album, and it established The Emotions as red-hot artists for the disco era.   The Grammy-winning song went No.1 Pop and R&B, and the album topped the R&B chart as well as going Top 10 on the Billboard 200.

Another gold album followed for The Emotions, Maurice White and Columbia Records with 1978’s Sunbeam.  It didn’t match the success of Rejoice, but all three parties were riding high when the Hutchinson sisters joined Earth Wind & Fire for “Boogie Wonderland,” a No. 6 Pop/No. 2 R&B hit in 1979. (The line-up was a bit fluid in those heady days.  Jeanette, who had been spelled in the group during the Stax era by friend Theresa Davis, departed in 1977 while pregnant, and was replaced by youngest Hutchinson sister Pamela.  Jeanette soon returned to the fold, but it’s the Pamela-Wanda-Sheila line-up still performing today.)

The stage was set for 1979’s Come Into Our World.  Maurice White again produced what would turn out to be the most dancefloor-oriented album of The Emotions’ career to that point.  Sheila, Jeanette and Wanda were joined by Pamela and their brother Joey, plus a “Who’s Who” of musicians including Toto’s David Paich on keyboards, Average White Band’s Steve Ferrone on drums, Keni Burke and EW&F’s Verdine White on bass, and the ubiquitous Paulinho da Costa on percussion.  David Foster and Allee Willis (co-writer of “Boogie Wonderland”) co-wrote “What’s the Name of Your Love” with Maurice, and the trio was rewarded with a No. 30 R&B hit.  Foster and White joined Sheila to pen “On and On,” and David Paich joined White, Willis and Foster for “The Movie,” on which White appears in a vocal spot.  Other songs came from writers including Ross Vannelli (Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop”) and R&B vet Marlo Henderson.  Come Into Our World reached a No. 35 R&B/No. 96 Pop peak; it turned out to be the group’s penultimate release with Columbia and Maurice White’s ARC imprint.

Big Break’s expanded edition, remastered by Nick Robbins, adds three bonus tracks: the single versions of “Where Is Your Love” and “I Should Be Dancing,” and single B-side “My Baby Dance.”  Steven E. Flemming, Jr. has scribed the new liner notes recounting this crucial period in the group’s history.

After the jump: we get Foxy! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 6, 2014 at 14:36

“Star Trek,” “Abyss” Surface in Surprise Varese Club Batch

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Star Trek NemesisVarese Sarabande has opened up a new batch of CD Club limited edition soundtrack reissues for the holidays. Beginning in 2014, six titles – including two deluxe editions – will start shipping from the long-running soundtrack label.

First up, a milestone from the final frontier: Varese expands the soundtrack to 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. This time, the USS Enterprise encounters a dangerous foe from within the Romulan Empire: a villainous clone of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by a then-unknown Tom Hardy, later celebrated for his performances in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises as the criminal mastermind Bane). Nemesis was the final mission for both the crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation and composer Jerry Goldsmith, whose scores to Star Trek: The Motion PictureStar Trek V: The Final FrontierStar Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection became icons of the franchise. Goldsmith’s dark, sinister score ultimately gave way to that heroic fanfare we all know and love, and was one of the few high points of the critically-maligned, financially-unsuccessful film. It was also one of the final scores by the ever-prolific Goldsmith until his passing the following year. With this double-disc expanded release, one now has the exciting ability to purchase the complete scores to all ten of the original TOS and TNG-era Trek films.

The AbyssVarese next heads from space to undersea with a double-disc presentation of Alan Silvestri’s score to The Abyss. James Cameron’s third blockbuster of the 1980s (following the critical and commercial smash hits The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986)) has a crew of Navy SEALs hoping to recover a lost submarine before a Soviet crew does – but what they find deep under the waves could be much more dangerous. Featuring Oscar-winning special effects (including the iconic “pseudopod” sequence, where a computer-generated water tentacle appears before the crew), The Abyss is one of Cameron’s more underrated big-budget efforts, a film that increased in critical appraisal after the release of a “Special Edition” in 1992. (With the film’s 25th anniversary approaching this year, a Blu-Ray premiere would certainly be optimal!) Silvestri’s score is now presented on two discs with 10 alternate cues.

The label’s reissue wave concludes with four straight reissues, all of which have been out of print for years. There’s the 1978 suspense Brass Target, a fictional tale suggesting the car crash that killed U.S. General George S. Patton was in fact a conpsiracy; Laurence Rosenthal’s score was the very first album of original material ever released by Varese Sarabande, and makes its CD debut here. Michael Kamen’s score to the 1987 courtroom drama Suspect, starring Cher and Dennis Quaid as a public defender and jury member working together to solve the murder of a Justice Department clerk (a then-unknown Liam Neeson plays the deaf-mute, homeless Vietnam veteran accused of her killing), also gets reissued onto CD, this time featuring all 17 of its cues indexed individually instead of as the two suites that occupied each side of the original album. The batch is rounded out by reissues of James Horner’s score to Vibes, a maligned 1988 comedy starring Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum as psychics in search of a fabled lost city, and Jerry Goldsmith’s first all-electronic score to Runaway, a Michael Crichton-penned and directed sci-fi thriller with Tom Selleck. (Goldsmith’s original LP was greatly expanded as a limited edition CD in 2006; this program is now back on disc.)

All titles are strictly limited: Star Trek tops out at 5,000 units, The Abyss at 3,000, Brass Target at 1,000 and the remainder at 2,000 apiece. They ship this week, so hit the jump and place your orders!

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 6, 2014 at 12:54

Todd’s Blues: Rundgren’s Live “Johnson” Captured On CD/DVD Set

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Todd Rundgren - Johnson LiveWhen Todd Rundgren’s Johnson was released in April 2011, the singer-songwriter’s longtime fans were forgiven for greeting the album with surprise.  While Toddheads have been trained to expect the unexpected, Johnson was a departure from even the artist’s most outré projects.  It was Rundgren’s first-ever all-covers album, and its subject wasn’t a songwriter whose influence was readily apparent in Rundgren’s own music.  (At various points in his career, a tribute to Laura Nyro or Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell might have seemed more appropriate, though the restlessly creative Rundgren was apparently never tempted.  1976’s Faithful featured one side of covers, and 1980’s Utopia release Deface the Music paid clever homage to The Beatles with all-original tunes.)   The subject was the late Delta blues legend Robert Johnson – hence, the rather unfortunately jokey album title.  But Johnson did give Rundgren the chance to utilize his own considerable guitar talents – and now, the artist is revisiting the album with Esoteric Recordings’ new CD/DVD release of Todd Rundgren’s Johnson Live, recorded in 2010.

Rundgren was approached to record the all-Johnson album by the distributor of his well-received 2008 rock record Arena.  He told journalist Graham Reid, “So it came time to do distribution for Arena and the company that made the deal also happened to administer the Robert Johnson music publishing. They made as a requirement to distributing Arena that I record an album of Robert Johnson tunes as well. They claimed to me that they were getting many requests for Johnson songs to be used in films and TV shows…[and] while they had the publishing, they had no recorded versions.”  He admitted, “I agreed to do it mostly because I wanted to get my record out and thought I would figure out how to deal with this later.”

Yet inspiration did strike Rundgren.  Speaking to Guitar World, he revealed that “The album is a tribute to the white players of the Sixties who were influenced by Robert Johnson — guys like Clapton, the Bluesbreakers and Michael Bloomfield.  It was modeled after the Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton album from 1966. That one really turned heads. It was like an atom bomb for guitarists.”  Johnson played like an off-kilter tribute to Robert Johnson filtered through the heavily-charged, amped-up sensibility of those pioneering blues-rockers.  Indeed, one of Rundgren’s earliest musical affiliations was with the band Woody’s Truck Stop, and the Woody’s sound took cues from blues-rock with a major twist of psychedelia.

After the jump: more on Johnson Live, plus the full CD/DVD track listing and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 6, 2014 at 09:43

Atlantic Goes for the Gold with New Grammy Compilation

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2014 Grammy NomineesTo cap off a relatively all-over-the-place year in pop music for 2013, January 26 sees the 56th annual Grammy Awards, broadcast live as always from Los Angeles’ Staples Center. The competition is particularly heavy with nominations for rappers, both veterans (Jay-Z) and upstarts (Kendrick Lamar, indie sensations Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who continue to self-release their work without a major label behind them), but there’s a little something for everyone on the 2014 Grammy Nominees album, due January 21 from Atlantic Records.

The 18 tracks herein span dozens of categories and genres. Do you like R&B-flavored pop? Justin Timberlake, nominated for seven awards this year, offers “Mirrors,” a shimmering ballad off his 20/20 Experience double album, while future Super Bowl halftime performer Bruno Mars brings “Locked Out of Heaven” – the best Police song Sting never wrote – and Robin Thicke is represented by the year’s biggest chart hit, “Blurred Lines.” New Zealand’s iconoclastic Lorde, a Record of the Year and Song of the Year nominee at only 17, offers her inescapable “Royals,” while Daft Punk (who will perform with Stevie Wonder at the telecast) satisfy all ages with “Get Lucky,” a killer disco track bolstered by an immediately recognizable guitar riff from CHIC’s Nile Rodgers.

Other key tracks include “Brave,” from singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest (a surprise nominee for Album of the Year), Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ uplifting tolerance anthem “Same Love,” the excellent “Just Give Me a Reason” by pop survivor P!nk and Nate Ruess of fun., and “Merry Go Round,” a criminally underrated track by country singer Kacey Musgraves. (Her Same Trailer Different Park is up for Best Country Album, “Merry Go Round” is up for Best Country Song and Musgraves herself contends for a Best New Artist trophy.)

For the full track list, as well as a breakdown of nominations surrounding each song, hit the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 6, 2014 at 09:19