The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for February 20th, 2014

Review: Dionne Warwick On Edsel Records

with 2 comments

Presenting Dionne EdselDionne Warwick’s third album bore the title Make Way for Dionne Warwick.  But truth to tell, by the time of its release in September 1964, America had already made way for the New Jersey-born singer.  She had climbed the charts with the immortal likes of “Don’t Make Me Over,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Walk on By” and “Reach Out for Me,” the latter two of which were included on that LP.  Of course, all of those singles were written and produced by the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who with Warwick were stretching the boundaries of American pop and soul with each new 45.  The elegant singer made an art out of her vocal control, deftly navigating the tricky contours of Bacharach’s angular, complex compositions with preternatural cool.  Bacharach shattered convention with his shifting time signatures and unexpected chord progressions, but Warwick suffused those melodies with a clarion tone and seemingly effortless restraint.  She naturally brought an actress’ gifts and a musician’s know-how to Bacharach’s tunes and David’s direct, deceptively simple lyrics.  Until an acrimonious breakup in 1972, their “Triangle Marriage” raised the bar for sophisticated, contemporary, adult and urbane pop.

Following last year’s series of 23 expanded reissues of Dionne Warwick’s Scepter and Warner Bros. catalogue from WEA Japan, the U.K.’s Edsel label has just reissued 16 of those very albums on four new, multi-CD sets.  Each one of Edsel’s sets contains four original stereo albums in chronological sequence, with two of the sets adding singles and retaining bonus tracks originally introduced on Rhino Handmade’s expanded reissues.  The titles have been reissued as follows:

  1. Presenting Dionne Warwick (1963) / Anyone Who Had a Heart (1964) / Make Way for Dionne Warwick (1964) / The Sensitive Sound of Dionne Warwick (1965) (2 CDs)
  2. Here I Am (1965) / Dionne Warwick in Paris (1966) / Here Where There is Love (1966) / On Stage and in the Movies (1967) (2 CDs)
  3. The Windows of the World (1967) / In the Valley of the Dolls (1968) / Promises, Promises (1968, with bonus tracks) / Soulful (1969, with bonus tracks) (3 CDs)
  4. I’ll Never Fall in Love Again (1970) / Very Dionne (1970, with bonus tracks) / Dionne (1972) / Just Being Myself (1973) (2 CDs)

Dionne in Paris EdselThese four collections span Warwick’s entire groundbreaking period at Florence Greenberg’s New York-based Scepter label at which she recorded her most enduring hits, as well as her first two albums for Warner Bros. Records, the first of which was her final full-length album collaboration with Bacharach and David.  As such, these compact packages of truly essential American music deserve a place on the shelf.   One couldn’t better trace the evolution and growth of Warwick’s artistry as an interpretive singer, as well as the songwriting, production and arranging acumen of Bacharach and David, than via these seminal recordings.

As Dionne released very few non-LP singles at Scepter, all of her familiar hits from the period can be found on these four releases.  But newcomers to her catalogue will also discover that her albums, though primarily consisting of Bacharach and David’s uptown take on R&B, were also peppered with standards, showtunes and later, pop “covers.”  All of these varied songs spoke to her versatility as both a superior vocalist and an entertainer for all seasons.

This campaign from Edsel is the first large-scale reappraisal of Warwick’s catalogue in the U.K. since a series of early Scepter-era reissues from Sequel Records in the mid-1990s.  And a daunting catalogue it is, especially for newcomers.  In 2003 and 2004, Rhino Handmade premiered a number of the later Scepter albums on CD in generously expanded editions, but the series was abruptly ended before its scheduled conclusion.  The first four Warner Bros. titles arrived on CD from Ambassador Soul Classics.  Real Gone Music precursor Collectors’ Choice Music then reissued much of the Scepter catalogue plus the fifth and final Warner Bros. title in 2007 in straightforward album reissues with no additional material.  (Discussion of Dionne’s non-Scepter and WB work is best left for another day!)  The 2013 WEA Japan release series was the first major effort by one label to completely standardize the catalogue, and it did so admirably, including mono and stereo versions of each album (where applicable) plus a healthy selection of bonus tracks, many of which were never previously available on CD.  The 23 Japanese reissues still didn’t include the entirety of Warwick’s Scepter and Warner recordings; some single versions, foreign language tracks and miscellaneous recordings were left off.  But, especially with its inclusion of the first-ever CD reissues of Dionne Warwick’s Greatest Motion Picture Hits, The Dionne Warwicke Story: A Decade of Gold and From Within, the Japanese series made it possible for Dionne’s entire Scepter and Warner Bros. album catalogue to be obtained from one label in uniform editions.

Edsel’s new reissue series differs substantially from that of WEA Japan’s.  We’ll dive into what you’ll find on these affordably-priced collectors’ sets after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 20, 2014 at 13:19

Rock Candy Supplies the Love with New Toto Remasters

with 6 comments

TotoFor years, Rock Candy Records has been doing great work with high-quality remasters of great album-oriented rock records. This year, they will take on one of the undisputed kings of that subgenre, with three reissues from Toto due on March 24.

Formed by a talented collection of session players, Toto – David Paich on keyboards, schoolmate Jeff Porcaro on drums, younger brother Steve adding his keyboard prowess, guitarist Steve Lukather, bassist David Hungate and lead singer Bobby Kimball – did a phenomenal job of fusing together pop, rock, R&B, jazz and progressive elements in a sound that was pretty immediately familiar (no surprise, given each member’s maniacally prolific discographies on the session front). 1978’s debut Toto spun off a Top 5 hit in “Hold the Line” (alongside moderate hits “I’ll Supply the Love” and “Georgy Porgy”) and earned the band a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Follow-ups Hydra (1979) and Turn Back (1981), featuring a slightly edgier, more lyrically obtuse presentation, were not nearly as successful, but 1982 saw the band bounce back in a big way – once with Toto IV, the band’s critical and commercial peak (with six Grammys and two smash singles, notably the chart-topping “Africa”), and once with Paich, Lukather and the Porcaros’ prominent session appearances on Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the other big album of 1982. (Steve Porcaro co-wrote one of the album’s seven hit singles, “Human Nature.”)

Hungate’s departure after the release of Toto IV and subsequent replacement by third brother Mike Porcaro was the first of a few lineup changes over the years. Vocalists included the late Fergie Frederiksen and Joseph Williams (son of film composer John), while Simon Phillips replaced Jeff Porcaro after his sudden passing in 1992. Today the band continues to tour, with Williams on vocals, new drummer Keith Carlock and legendary session bassist Nathan East filling in for the retired Mike Porcaro.

Featuring new remastering and essays, Toto, Hyrdra and Turn Back are solid new entries in the Rock Candy discography. (Toto features one bonus track – a 12″ dance version of “Georgy Porgy.”) Full track lists and Amazon U.K. links are after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 20, 2014 at 11:44

Posted in News, Reissues, Toto

Forever Dusty: Four New Releases Celebrate Springfield’s Musical Legacy

with 4 comments

Dusty Heard Them Here FirstDusty Springfield’s ebullient first solo single, 1963’s “I Only Want to Be with You,” announced just how far the former Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien had come from her pop-folk trio The Springfields and the likes of “Silver Threads and Golden Needles.”  The thunderous production and joyous vocals augured for a significant new talent, and the song was selected as one of the very first ever to be played on the BBC’s Top of the Pops.  And indeed, Dusty Springfield remained at the top of the pops for the entirety of her too-short life and career.  The “White Queen of Soul,” Springfield could be breathily sensual one moment and achingly vulnerable the next.  Though Dusty struggled with personal demons for most of her life, she channeled her inner turmoil to create some of the most thrilling three-minute nuggets ever put down on record.  Springfield’s love of American R&B helped break down racial barriers, and she brought a deeply soulful sensibility and emotional honesty to so-called pop fare.  Her legendary talent is now the subject of four recent releases from four different labels.

Leading the pack is Ace Records’ Dusty Heard Them Here First, anthologizing many of the songs that were reinterpreted by Springfield in her own inimitable style.  Some of Dusty’s own versions of those songs have, in turn, been featured on Starbucks Entertainment’s new Opus Collection volume.  Analogue Productions has revisited Springfield’s 1969 classic Dusty in Memphis as a hybrid stereo SACD.  And lastly, the U.K. public domain label Jasmine has collected many of Springfield’s pre-solo sides with The Lana Sisters and The Springfields on a new 2-CD set, The Early Years.  (Remember: though this is a legal release in the E.U., no royalties are paid to the artist and/or copyright holders of these recordings.)

Ace’s new Dusty Heard Them Here First, following similar collections for artists including Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard, is a wide-ranging and illuminating tribute to Springfield’s greatest influences.  It’s also a history in miniature of the many strands of American pop music and R&B which Dusty synthesized into a singular style all her own.  Naturally, the sound of Motown plays a major part on this disc.  A staunch crusader for equal rights, Springfield was one of the foremost voices in bringing the music of the Motor City to the United Kingdom.  Her 1965 television special The Sounds of Motown introduced artists like The Supremes, The Miracles and Martha and the Vandellas to U.K. audiences, and songs from Berry Gordy’s empire were a crucial part of her repertoire.  Here, you’ll hear Motown originals by The Velvelettes (“Needle in a Haystack”), Marvin Gaye (“Can I Get a Witness”), The Miracles (“You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”) and Gladys Knight and the Pips (the rousing “Ain’t No Sun Since You’ve Been Gone”).  Post-Motown R&B from songwriter-producers Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Hot Wax/Invictus label also got attention from Dusty, and this compilation features The Honey Cone’s “Girls It Ain’t Easy” and The Glass House’s “Crumbs Off the Table.”  Dusty didn’t ignore Motown’s southern-soul counterparts at Stax, either, and Dusty Heard Them Here First includes Carla Thomas’ “Every Ounce of Strength,” recorded by Dusty on the flipside of her mega-hit “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” in 1966.

After the jump, we have much more on Dusty Heard Them Here First and the other three above-mentioned titles, including full track listings and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 20, 2014 at 10:32