The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for July 7th, 2014

Reissue Theory: Joe Jackson, “Live in Tokyo: The Big World Tour”

with 20 comments

Joe Jackson Live in TokyoWelcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on classic musical works and the reissues they could someday see. Today, Mike reflects on one of British rock’s angriest young men all grown up, and the one weird aspect of the catalogue market that has yet to be greatly exploited.

Like many of you, I’ve had an angry young man phase. You know the feelings, I’m sure. You’re a bundle of emotions and everything is just super-serious. You’re insecure but maddeningly self-assured – convinced of how cooler you are than the next hunk that walks down the street. (Some who know me might say this phase isn’t exactly over, but that’s neither here nor there.)

It’s this identification that draws us to music that evokes these feelings and spirits with exacting detail – acts like Elvis Costello or Billy Joel (who wrote a song called “Angry Young Man”) or The Knack or Cheap Trick or Ben Folds Five or – you guessed it – Joe Jackson, who kind of brilliantly crystallized and mainstreamed the typical angry young man formula in the 1970s and 1980s. After several albums of hard-charging pop/rock/New Wave (1979’s one-two punch Look Sharp! and I’m the Man, 1980’s Beat Crazy), the Royal Academy of Music-trained Jackson shifted gears toward straight jazz and jazz-pop with Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive (1981), Night and Day (1982) and Body and Soul (1984). Jackson also began his earliest dabbling in soundtracks (Mike’s Murder (1983) and Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)) and classical composition (Will Power (1987)), prefacing the eventual directions his career would take.

But it was a killer time. Jackson, you may have forgotten, was better represented on the charts than most of his fellow British angry young men; “Is She Really Going Out with Him?,” “Steppin’ Out,” “Breaking Us in Two” and “You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)” were all Top 40 hits in America, with “Steppin’ Out” even garnering a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. And before he crossed over into more esoteric material, Jackson did in fact give one of the best audio documents of his pop evolution: the double-album Live 1980/86, featuring four sides devoted to all his major tours at that time: Beat Crazy and The Joe Jackson Band (guitarist Gary Sanford, bassist Graham Maby and drummer David Haughton); the expanded lite-jazz ensemble from the Night and Day Tour; the full-brass orchestra of the Body and Soul Tour and a new, stripped down rock combo to promote Big World, a 1986 album of new material recorded in front of a silent live audience.

After the jump, keep reading about what made the Big World tour so exciting, and what that could mean for a catalogue title! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 7, 2014 at 13:36

Posted in DVD, Features, Joe Jackson, Reissues

Tagged with

He Is, He Said: Capitol Preps Neil Diamond’s “All-Time Greatest Hits”

with 10 comments

Neil Diamond - All Time Greatest HitsIn January of this year, Neil Diamond ended his 40+-year association with Columbia Records, decamping to Universal Music Group’s Capitol label along with his complete Bang and Columbia masters. The deal united Diamond’s Uni catalogue with the Bang and Columbia material that bookended it, bringing the legendary performer’s complete recordings under one roof. Tomorrow, the first results of the new Capitol deal will arrive in stores. Expectedly, it’s a single-disc retrospective intended to replace the deleted Columbia/Legacy release The Very Best of Neil Diamond. That was the first 1-CD anthology to contain music from all of Diamond’s label affiliations; past compilations had either concentrated on one label or substituted live songs for tracks not controlled by that label. All-Time Greatest Hits naturally follows suit. In fact, 19 of the 23 tracks on the new collection from the Kennedy Center Honoree and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer are identical.

As with The Very Best, All-Time Greatest Hits attempts to prune the prolific artist’s catalogue of over 30 studio albums (16 of which went Top 10) and over 50 charting singles (37 of which went Top 10). All of Diamond’s No. 1 singles are represented: 1970’s “Cracklin’ Rosie,” 1972’s “Song Sung Blue” and 1978’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” However, there’s one key difference here. Whereas The Very Best included the chart-topping duet of “Flowers” with Barbra Streisand, All-Time Greatest instead features Diamond’s original solo version of the song he co-wrote with Alan and Marilyn Bergman. There are eight more Top 10 singles on All-Time Greatest, spanning the period between 1966’s “Cherry, Cherry” and 1980’s “Hello, Again,” “Love on the Rocks” and “America,” all from the soundtrack to The Jazz Singer (Diamond’s lone previous release on Capitol).

Diamond’s tenure at Bert Berns’ New York-based Bang Records is covered with seven songs produced by the legendary Brill Building team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich; the music of this rich period (recently anthologized by Legacy as The Bang Years: 1966-1968) remains the cornerstone of Diamond’s career, with such titles as “I’m a Believer” and “Red Red Wine” (both of which scored hit versions by other artists), “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” and “Kentucky Woman.” From Bang, Diamond moved to even bigger successes the Uni label. Good times never felt so good as songs like “Sweet Caroline” and “Cracklin’ Rosie,” though Diamond also mined more introspective, moody material like “Play Me” and imbued “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” and “Holly Holy” with spiritual fervor.

From Uni, it was onto Columbia Records. The singer-songwriter’s initial Columbia release, 1973’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, was the soundtrack to Hall Bartlett’s adaptation of Richard Bach’s novella of the same title. Diamond’s Grammy- and Golden Globe-winning soundtrack hit No. 2 on the pop albums chart and reportedly earned more than the film itself! Though no tracks from Seagull have made the cut here, Diamond was off and running. 1976’s Beautiful Noise teamed him with The Band’s Robbie Robertson; its title song appears on the new compilation. Shortly thereafter, Diamond began a collaboration with The Four Seasons’ producer Bob Gaudio, who guided Diamond through hits like “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” “September Morn” (also included here) and the Jazz Singer score.

Though Diamond’s pace hardly slowed up, the 1980s aren’t represented on the new set beyond The Jazz Singer. 1982’s “Heartlight” (co-written with Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, and unfortunately not heard here) was his final Top 5 pop hit, but Diamond remained a concert draw and a popular recording artist. His “comeback” albums produced by Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers), 2005’s 12 Songs and 2008’s Home Before Dark, scored him some of the biggest acclaim of his career, as he returned to writing solo and playing his guitar. Home Before Dark must have been a particularly sweet victory for Diamond when he scored his first-ever No. 1 album! Diamond continued Rubin’s stark, stripped-down approach with 2010’s self-produced Dreams, a collection of cover songs largely written by Diamond s contemporaries.)

After the jump, we have more details including the complete track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 7, 2014 at 10:41