The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for June 3rd, 2014

Life Is A Dance: BBR Reissues Chaka Khan, Silver Convention, Instant Funk

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Chaka Khan - ChakaChaka Khan announced her solo freedom with “I’m Every Woman,” the euphoric opening track on 1978’s Chaka. At 25 years old, Khan was already a veteran of the funk-rock band Rufus with whom she had recorded landmark hits like “Tell Me Something Good” and “Sweet Thing,” but Chaka took her passionate style in a new, mainstream R&B direction. The Warner Bros. album, produced by the legendarily versatile Arif Mardin (Dusty Springfield, Bette Midler, The Bee Gees), placed Khan’s powerful voice front and center with the support of the cream of New York’s session scene. BBR has newly remastered Chaka for its 35th anniversary.

Ashford and Simpson’s fiery “I’m Every Woman,” tailor-made by the songwriters for Khan, would be a tough act to follow on any album. But the musically sophisticated Mardin, renowned for having “the greatest ears in town” as per one accurate tribute, curated a selection of songs to show off each facet of Khan’s vocal instrument. Khan had the intuition of a jazz singer, the pipes of a gospel singer, the grit of an R&B shouter, and the intuition of a pop star – making for an unbeatable, distinctive style.  The album boasted a remarkably consistent sound in no small part due to the participation of the top-tier musicians who were well-versed in both pop and jazz, among them The Brecker Brothers, Richard Tee, David Sanborn, Airto Moreira, and Will Lee.

Don’t miss a thing!  There’s more on Chaka, plus Instant Funk and Silver Convention, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 3, 2014 at 14:07

Couldn’t I Just Tell You: Todd Rundgren Goes Deluxe In New Edsel Series

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Todd - Something AnythingOn the first side of his fifth LP, Todd Rundgren proclaimed, “A man would simply have to be as mad as a hatter/To try and change the world with a plastic platter…”  Yet forty years on, Rundgren is still “trying to make a living off an elpee’s worth of toons.”  As such, he’s accumulated quite a back catalogue, for which Demon Music Group’s Edsel label has been the most recent steward.  In 2011, Edsel began reissuing Rundgren’s Bearsville catalogue, both solo and with Utopia, and continued onto his Warner Bros. years.  Those titles were largely delivered in multi-album sets combining two or three LPs in one package.  Now, Edsel is revisiting the early Rundgren catalogue as standalone CDs in the label’s deluxe casebound book format (previously utilized for reissues by Everything But the Girl, Bananarama, Belinda Carlisle and others), with discs enclosed in a lavish hardbound book.  Rundgren’s groundbreaking third, fourth and fifth albums have received this top-notch treatment: Something/Anything (1972), A Wizard, A True Star (1973) and Todd (1974).

Though Something/Anything was Rundgren’s third proper album, it was the first to herald his singular, wholly original voice.  His first two solo efforts, Runt and Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren, positioned him as a purveyor of sweet soul (he was from Philadelphia, after all) and piano-driven, Laura Nyro-influenced pop.  (Both albums were released by Edsel in 2011 on one stellar set which added a complete, alternate version of debut Runt.)    Something/Anything, on the other hand, was, and is, unlike any other album in the rock canon. The multi-hyphenate artist recorded three of the album’s four sides himself, playing all instruments and singing all vocal parts. The fourth side was a mock autobiographical operetta, aided by a rock ensemble.  Rundgren, the producer as studio auteur, had arrived.

Todd - Something Anything OpenSomething/Anything would have been an instant classic if only for its two enduring hit singles, the Carole King-inspired “I Saw the Light” and the ebullient remake of the Nazz track “Hello, It’s Me,” which replaced its dirge-like tempo with a new, more upbeat sound. But those popular tunes were just the tip of the iceberg. The impossibly lush ballad “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” rests comfortably alongside the heavy metal anthem “Black Maria,” while “Cold Morning Light,” “Couldn’t I Just Tell You” and “It Takes Two to Tango” show off the singer/songwriter’s effortless mastery of the pop song form. Comic relief was also in abundance, with “I Went to the Mirror,” “Piss Aaron” and theatrical, Gilbert and Sullivan-style “Song of the Viking.” All of these styles would be revisited, and deconstructed, on Rundgren’s subsequent releases – but never would they feel more effortlessly fresh, vital and remarkably inventive as on Something/Anything.  By 1975, it had earned Rundgren a gold record – and a legion of loyal fans.

As in 2011, Edsel’s 2-CD reissue is bolstered by the inclusion of a demo of “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” plus six radio spots for the original album.  (A resequenced Deluxe Edition was announced by Rhino Records in the U.S. in 1999, to have included Rundgren’s hour-long promotional radio show from 1972, the radio spots and “Difference” demo, and a single version of “Wolfman Jack” with the Wolfman on vocals.  It was scuttled at the last minute due to legal issues with the radio show, and has unfortunately never resurfaced on CD.)

Todd A WizardRundgren’s follow-up to the Top 30-placing Something/Anything was, naturally, eagerly anticipated.  Like clockwork, it arrived one year later. But nobody could have predicted the modestly-titled A Wizard, A True Star! Rundgren responded to his commercial breakthrough by rebuffing it.  Though it was a lengthy single-LP (56 minutes), it was more expansive than its predecessor.  Use of the psychedelic drug DMT had led Rundgren to attempt to bring to records the “musical chaos” he heard in his head, and the resulting album more than succeeded.  For the LP, he was joined by musicians including The Brecker Brothers, Mark “Moogy” Klingman, Ralph Schuckett, John Siegler, David Sanborn and Rick Derringer.

A Wizard was a psychedelic aural stew of electronica, metal, jazz, pop, soul and showtunes, and though many of those styles had been heard on Something/Anything, they were deployed in very different fashion here.  A Wizard was pure stream-of-consciousness from a mind moving in many different sonic directions, with the only interruption coming from having to turn the LP over.  It was a true album in every sense of the word, designed to be played in one sitting and with far less extractable material than Something/Anything.   Rundgren tipped his hat to some of his musical heroes while pushing his own art forward.  So “Never, Never Land” from the stage musical Peter Pan is joined by a soul medley of Thom Bell, Smokey Robinson and Curtis Mayfield oldies and a frenzied reworking of The Capitols’ “Cool Jerk.”  The ghost of Al Jolson is channeled on the irreverent “Just Another Onionhead,” and coexists with the clattering, noisy hard rock of “You Need Your Head” and “Rock and Roll Pussy.”  But if A Wizard is short on ballads – with “I Don’t Want to Tie You Down” a notable exception – there are moments of ravishing pop beauty via the bona fide Rundgren classics “Just One Victory” and “Sometimes I Don’t Know What to Feel.” If the audience didn’t know what to feel, either, Todd seemingly didn’t care. In “Onionhead,” he opined, “You want the obvious/You’ll get the obvious” before launching into anything but.  No additional material has been added to Edsel’s reissue.

After the jump: a look at Todd and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 3, 2014 at 10:37

Posted in News, Reissues, Reviews, Todd Rundgren

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Release Round-Up: Week of June 3

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LZ BoxLed Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin I / Led Zeppelin II / Led Zeppelin III: Deluxe Editions (Swan Song/Atlantic)

Anyone ever heard these albums? Interesting stuff. I don’t know about you, but I’d predict big things for these guys.

Led Zeppelin
1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD/3LP Super Deluxe: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Led Zeppelin II
1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD/2LP Super Deluxe: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Led Zeppelin III
1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD/2LP Super Deluxe: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Superunknown 20 boxSoundgarden, Superunknown: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (A&M/UMe)

This grunge-pop classic comes back with a vengeance as a bonus-filled box set featuring demos, outtakes, rare tracks and a surround mix on Blu-ray.

1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
4CD/1BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Vauxhall and IMorrissey, Vauxhall and I: 20th Anniversary Definitive Master (Parlophone/Rhino)

It would appear that Moz and I share the same opinion of this record: so good, the track list doesn’t need to be played with. Add an unreleased live show from 1995 on a bonus CD, and this is a heck of a set for the discerning fan.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Vinyl: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Earthbound OriginalThe 5th Dimension, Earthbound/ Vikki Carr,  Love Again – The Lost Columbia Masters / Vikki Carr, The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face) (Expanded Edition) / Robert Bearns & Ron Dexter, The Best of the Golden Voyage / The Sweet Inspirations, The Complete Atlantic Singles Plus / Faith Hope & Charity, Faith Hope & Charity (Expanded Edition) /Fanny, Charity Ball (Expanded Edition) / Linda Martell, Color Me Country / The Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 18 – Dane County Coliseum, Madison, WI 2/3/78 Uni-Dome, University of N. Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 2/5/78 (Real Gone Music)

Another great Real Gone slate features two titles with liner notes from our own Joe Marchese – The 5th Dimension’s Earthbound and Vikki Carr’s The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face)!

The 5th Dimension: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Vikki Carr/Love AgainAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Vikki Carr/The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face)Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Robert Bearns & Ron Dexter: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Sweet Inspirations: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Faith Hope & Charity: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Fanny: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Linda Martell: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Grateful Dead: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Extraordinary Nat King ColeNat “King” Cole, The Extraordinary Nat “King” Cole (Capitol)

This new compilation – available as a two-disc deluxe edition with a host of rare and newly-discovered tracks – does a pretty darn good job of living up to its name.

Standard 1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe 2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Blu-ray Audio: Analogue Productions

Bossa Nova BabyElvis Presley, Bossa Nova Baby: The Ultimate Elvis Party Album (RCA/Legacy)

A new Elvis compilation for your summer party features some of the usual hits plus a few tracks from the Cirque du Soleil Viva Elvis show to rediscover. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lectric LadyCarol Williams & The Salsoul Orchestra, ‘Lectric Lady: Expanded Edition (Big Break)

An expanded version of the debut album by Carol Williams, the first female solo act signed to the Salsoul label! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)