The Second Disc

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Archive for June 16th, 2014

When Two Tribes Go To Pledge: ZTT Crowdfunds Deluxe Frankie Goes to Hollywood Box

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Frankie Deluxe BoxThere was very little about Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s debut album, Welcome to The Pleasuredome, that wasn’t grandiose. From their outsized, obsessively cultivated image (thanks to ZTT Records, the No. 1 home for bizarrely cultivated musical images in the 1980s), to their peppy British dance-pop hooks and glistening production by Trevor Horn to their stunning two-year run of hit singles, including the No. 1s “Relax,” “Two Tribes,” and “The Power of Love” (and the spectacular title track, a near career-ender at “only” No. 2), Frankie did it in a big way for quite some time.

Now, 30 years later, ZTT are making Frankie big again with an exhaustive deluxe box set edition of the band’s first album planned for release. This 5LP box features bonus material in the form of a cassette, a DVD and digital FLAC files, too, and should theoretically offer the last word on the album (the most recent words of which was a deluxe reissue issued by Salvo/Union Square Music weeks after The Second Disc started).

Inside The Pleasuredome will feature:

  • The original album, newly remastered on 12″ 180-gram vinyl by Trevor Horn at SARM Studios
  • Three 10″ EPs of unreleased sessions, alternate takes and remixes
  • A C90 cassette featuring 14 versions of iconic hit “Relax,” six of which are unreleased
  • Original promo videos and new surround mixes on DVD
  • Digital FLAC files of all the vinyl as well as an EP of unreleased instrumentals
  • Various paper goods and book content
  • All housed in a custom lidded box

A set this expansive is also likely to be expensive; in fact, it’s being fundraised/sold through PledgeMusic, a crowdsourcing music service. The whole box goes for about $200 in U.S. dollars – sort of ironic, considering licensing restrictions prevent the set’s release in America, Canada or Japan. (The box has still been well-received; with 40 days to go as of this writing, the project has been 92% funded.)

Sound enticing? Head to the PledgeMusic link to reserve your copy, and hit the jump for full specs on what’s inside, including the just-announced track list!

Inside The Pleasuredome (ZTT, 2014)

  • “Come Inside”: flipbook of Lo Cole’s Welcome To The Pleasuredome artwork
  • “Tumbometer Nine”: info sheet of contents/sources of all tracks + Element Series discography
  • And Suddenly There Came a Zang! The Art of Frankie Goes to Hollywood: 48-page hardbound book “with contributions from Paul Morley, designers David Smart, Lo Cole and photographers Anne Yvonne Gilbert, John Stoddart, Steve Rumney, AJ Barratt and Peter Ashworth”

LPs 1-2: Welcome to The Pleasuredome (originally released as ZTT IQ1 (U.K.), 1984)

  1. Well….
  2. The World is My Oyster
  3. Snatch of Fury (stay)
  4. Welcome to the Pleasuredome
  5. Relax (come fighting)
  6. War (….and hide)
  7. Two Tribes (for the victims of ravishment)
  1. Ferry (go)
  2. Born to Run
  3. San Jose (the way)
  4. Wish (the lads were here)
  5. Including The Ballad of 32
  6. Krisco Kisses
  7. Black Night White Light
  8. The Only Star in Heaven
  9. The Power of Love
  10. Bang

LP 3: “Lovers and Haters” – Studio Sessions (previously unreleased)

  1. Relax (9/4/1983: Rough Mix)
  2. Relax (9/10/1983: CMI Backing Track)
  3. The Only Star in Heaven (8/29/1984: ’Gary’s Mix’ with Keys and BD)
  4. The Only Star in Heaven (8/29/1984: ’Gary’s Mix’ Dub Bits)

LP 4: “Cowboys and Indians” Alternate Takes (previously unreleased)

  1. Two Tribes (10/4/1984: Bit 4)
  2. War (10/4/1984: Man Has a Sense for the Discovery of Beauty)
  3. Two Tribes (5/31/1984: Rough 12” Mix)
  4. Two Tribes (6/1/1984: Rough 12” Mix)

LP 5: “Doctors and Nurses” Mix/Remix (previously unreleased)

  1. War (5/17/1984: ‘War! III’)
  2. Welcome to the Pleasuredome (8/10/1984: ‘Pleasuredome II’)

C90 Cassette: “Suck It Up”: “Relax” Singlette (* denotes previously unreleased material)

  1. Relax (Bit 1) *
  2. Relax (Sex Mix) (12″ A-side – ZTT 12 ZTAS 1 (U.K.), 1983)
  3. Relax (New York Mix) (12″ A-side – ZTT 12 ISZTAS 1 (U.K.), 1983)
  4. Relax (Greatest Bits) (from ZTT cassette single CTIS 002 (U.K.), 1983)
  5. One September Monday (Bit 1) *
  6. Relax (Bit 2) *
  7. Relax (Sex Mix, Edition 2)
  8. Relax (Sex Mix, Edition 3)
  9. Relax (Video Version) *
  10. One September Monday (Bit 2) *
  11. Relax (Greek Disco Mix) (12″ A-side – ZTT 200 086-6 (GR), 1983)
  12. Relax (The Last Seven Inches!) (from ZTT promo 7″ single ZTAS 1 (U.K.), 1983)
  13. Relax (Bonus, Again)
  14. Relax (Bit 3) *

DVD: “Brothers and Sisters”

Features the Pleasuredome promo videos and 5.1 mixes of key tracks. The disc will feature NTSC region 0 on one side and PAL region 0 on the other.

Promo videos:

  1. Relax (Version 1)
  2. Relax (Live Version)
  3. Relax (Laser Version)
  4. Two Tribes (Version 1)
  5. Two Tribes (Video Destruction)
  6. The Power of Love (Version 1)
  7. The Power of Love (Version 2)
  8. Welcome to The Pleasuredome (An Alternative to Reality)
  9. Welcome to The Pleasuredome (The Escape Act)
  10. Relax – No. 1 and Guiltless (Version 1)
  11. Relax – No. 1 and Guiltless (Version 2)
  12. The Power of Love (Win Hearts and Minds)
  13. Welcome to The Pleasuredome (The Event of the Decade)

5.1 mixes:

  1. Relax
  2. Two Tribes
  3. Ferry Cross the Mersey
  4. The World is My Oyster
  5. Welcome to The Pleasuredome
  6. San Jose
  7. War
  8. Born to Run
  9. The Power of Love

FLAC EP: Voiceless, Vol. 1(previously unreleased)

  1. Welcome to The Pleasuredome (A Remade World – Voiceless)
  2. War (Hide Yourself! – Voiceless)
  3. Two Tribes (Carnage 7″ – Voiceless)
  4. Relax (Come Fighting – Voiceless)
  5. The Power of Love (Voiceless)

Written by Mike Duquette

June 16, 2014 at 17:41

Ramble On! Review: The Led Zeppelin Remasters – “I,” “II” and “III”

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Led Zep 1Led Zeppelin wasn’t built in a day.

“Good Times Bad Times,” the first track off the hard rock combo’s first album, today sounds very much of its time and also unusually forward-thinking. The crunchy riff that introduces the track augured for the amped-up sound of metal to come, but the opening verse and chorus still have one foot in mod pop. Yet the sheer attack that marks Zeppelin’s best work was already there. Jimmy Page’s guitar cuts loose at about the minute-and-a-half point, John Bonham’s intense drums drive the entire song. John Paul Jones does so much more than just anchor the song with his bass, while Robert Plant can’t help but sound like a man possessed once he hits his stride. Recorded in just 36 hours and produced by Page, Led Zeppelin built on the foundation of the British blues boom and took heavy blues-rock to the next level.

Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III have just arrived in their first-ever expanded editions, available in a plethora of formats from Rhino and Atlantic Records: 1-CD, 1-LP, 2-CD, 2-LP and 2-CD/2-LP box sets. These are among the most eagerly-awaited reissues of the compact disc era, and miraculously, both the remasterings and the previously unheard music live up to expectations. These decades-old recordings sound fresh and vividly crisp, with increased clarity, presence and detail, and pronounced stereo separation. Longtime fans are likely to be seized with the excitement of rediscovery at the classic albums in upgraded sound, but the 2-CD editions are also ideal primers for those exploring the band’s compact catalogue of just nine “core” albums for the first time. This first wave of reissues traces the early arc of the band from swaggering, upstart blues-rockers to metal pioneers to creators of an original sound all its own.

I: Your Time Is Gonna Come: Led Zeppelin I

Jones’ funereal organ introduced “Your Time is Gonna Come,” with Page on steel guitar. Like “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” the song has the both the light and the dark sides of the band on display. It’s almost “hard folk” with a sing-along chorus and a pronounced soul influence. Just plain hard is the frenetically pulsating “Communication Breakdown,” a two-and-a-half minute nugget of fast and dirty proto-punk rock and roll. On the other end of the spectrum is the album’s longest track, “How Many More Times,” with its shifting jam reinvention of the bolero blueprint.

The storming, urgent “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” was based on Anne Bredon’s folk song which also attracted the attention of folk heroines (Joan Baez), teen stars (Mark Wynter), San Francisco rockers (Quicksilver Messenger Service) and harmony pop bands (The Association). It took until the 1980s for Bredon to be credited, along with Page and Plant, for providing the basis of the Zeppelin transformation. “Babe” showed the band’s versatility, with passages of quiet beauty juxtaposed with rage and thunder. “Dazed and Confused” was written and recorded by Jake Holmes in 1967 but Zeppelin’s recording of the song with new lyrics and a modified melody was credited solely to Page. Following a 2012 settlement with Holmes, the credits on the new discs read, “Jimmy Page inspired by Jake Holmes.” Regardless of its authorship, “Dazed” is a furious showcase for Page’s bowed-guitar technique, with the band melding psychedelia with deep blues. The beguiling, short instrumental “Black Mountain Side,” featuring Indian drummer Viram Jasani, was inspired by a traditional song but followed the (uncredited) arrangement of folk artist Bert Jansch. Willie Dixon, on the other hand, received full credit for two covers on the album: the torrid twelve-bar blues-based “You Shook Me” (with turns for Jones on organ and Plant on harmonica) and “I Can’t Quit You Baby” inspired by the performance of bluesman Otis Rush.

Though Led Zeppelin was formed from the ashes of The Yardbirds, there could be no doubt after the release of Led Zeppelin I that the group had found a style far removed from that of the band in which Page once served.  After the jump: more on Led Zeppelin II, III and beyond! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 16, 2014 at 12:11

Posted in Box Sets, Led Zeppelin, News, Reissues, Reviews

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The Beatles Go Mono Once More – on Vinyl

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Beatles in Mono box front

It sure has been quite a year for Beatlemaniacs looking to fill their shelves with catalogue wares from The Fab Four. Last winter saw the CD release of a second volume of BBC recordings (coinciding with a remaster of the first from 1994) and a digital-only, copyright-saving official bootleg; this year, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the band’s first appearance on American shores, Apple/UMe recreated (sort of) the band’s U.S. discography on CD, and will in July do the same for the group’s first five Japanese albums. Which begs the question: what’s next? That answer has finally taken shape with the announcement that the Beatles’ highly sought-after monaural discography will be reissued on vinyl.

As fans well know, a few months before The Second Disc launched, the gem of The Beatles’ extensive remastering campaign in 2009 was the premiere of the band’s complete mono discography on CD. (Only the band’s first four albums, when first released on compact disc in 1987, were presented in mono.) The band’s first ten U.K. albums (counting the U.S. LP program of Magical Mystery Tour, now part of the “official” discography) were compiled in one box, along with a Mono Masters compilation collating all of the group’s mono singles (including unreleased true mono mixes of the songs featured in Yellow Submarine for an EP that never came to light).

Now, exactly five years after that fabled, platinum-certified box was released (remember when we all thought it was a limited edition affair?) Apple/UMe is putting the same contents out on vinyl, both separately and boxed together (the box, of course, will feature a hardback book with essays by Kevin Howlett and rare photos and memorabilia).

Well…maybe not exactly the same contents. The press release offers this tantalizing tidbit that will surely set audiophiles ears to maximum discretion (emphasis ours):

n an audiophile-minded undertaking, The Beatles’ acclaimed mono albums have been newly mastered for vinyl from quarter-inch master tapes at Abbey Road Studios by GRAMMY®-winning engineer Sean Magee and GRAMMY®-winning mastering supervisor Steve Berkowitz. While The Beatles In Mono CD boxed set released in 2009 was created from digital remasters, for this new vinyl project, Magee and Berkowitz cut the records without using any digital technology. Instead, they employed the same procedures used in the 1960s, guided by the original albums and by detailed transfer notes made by the original cutting engineers.

Working in the same room at Abbey Road where most of The Beatles’ albums were initially cut, the pair first dedicated weeks to concentrated listening, fastidiously comparing the master tapes with first pressings of the mono records made in the 1960s. Using a rigorously tested Studer A80 machine to play back the precious tapes, the new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe.

So, five years after fans debated the quality of The Beatles in mono and stereo, mastered in the ’60s or in 2009, it looks like the debate shall continue!

The Beatles in Mono vinyl box, and its individual contents, can be pre-ordered below.

The Beatles in Mono (Apple/UMe, 2014) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)

  • Please Please Me (Parlophone, 1963) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • With The Beatles (Parlophone, 1963) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • A Hard Day’s Night (Parlophone, 1964) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Beatles for Sale (Parlophone, 1964) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Help! (Parlophone, 1965) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Rubber Soul (Parlophone, 1965) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Revolver (Parlophone, 1966)  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Parlophone, 1967) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol (U.S.), 1967)  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • The Beatles (2-LP) (Apple, 1968) Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)
  • Mono Masters (3-LP) (Apple/EMI, 2009)  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. (TBD)

Written by Mike Duquette

June 16, 2014 at 10:38