The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for December 3rd, 2014

The Beach Boys’ New Digital “Copyright Collections” Offer 1964 Rarities, Two Complete Concerts

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With another year rapidly drawing to a close, many fans were wondering if 2014 would bring another round of “copyright extension collections,” i.e. releases designed to circumvent recent European Union copyright law.  The answer, of course, is “yes.”  To greatly simplify, E.U. law now holds that a recording is protected for 75 years under copyright in the E.U. (the period previously was 50 years) but only if that recording has been released.  As a result of this change in law, the past couple of years have seen collections issuing rarities from Bob Dylan, The Beatles, the Motown family of artists and The Beach Boys, simply to keep these recordings in copyright.  Last year, Capitol issued The Big Beat 1963 with a number of Brian Wilson/Beach Boys titles.  Following suit, the label has today released two more Beach Boys titles.  1964: Keep an Eye on Summer has 46 session highlight and rarities – many of which have never even been bootlegged – while Live in Sacramento 1964 has the two full shows from which the original Beach Boys Concert LP was culled.

Beach Boys - Keep an EyeMark Linett and Alan Boyd have produced these two new (and alas, digital-only) releases, and Linett has remastered all tracks.  Capitol/Brother Records has happily provided detailed liner notes, including comprehensive track-by-track annotations, at The Beach Boys’ official website.  Boyd writes, in part, that “This new collection, made possible by the fact that the Beach Boys, starting in 1964, made a point of holding onto their work reels (and greatly enhanced by the recent recovery of some long lost tapes from the Shut Down Vol. 2 album sessions) shows the Beach Boys at their zenith, offering glimpses of the camaraderie, optimism and high spirits behind the creation of these timeless records, and highlighting the incredible vocal arrangements, compositional skills, and rapidly evolving production techniques that placed the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson at the forefront of pop music in 1964 and for all time.”

Linett adds, “On this set we’ve presented highlights from many of the group’s sessions during 1964, mostly previously unreleased (even on those ‘unofficial’ discs often found at record shows). As someone who has been listening to, archiving and mixing the group’s recordings for nearly thirty years, it was exciting for me to hear these newly discovered sessions for the first time. They fully demonstrate that the Beach Boys were great musicians as well as singers and that, contrary to popular opinion, they played on most of their records, with the occasional addition of members of the ‘wrecking crew.’”

After the jump, we have more details and the complete track listings for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 3, 2014 at 13:54

Spend the Night in Bangkok: “Chess” Reissued for 30th Anniversary

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ChessTim Rice had been thinking about writing a musical about the Cold War for some time in the late 1970s.  Fascinated by the Soviet-U.S. chess rivalry of the time, the lyricist-librettist approached his longtime collaborator Andrew Lloyd Webber with the idea.  Lloyd Webber, however, was not available, as he was too busy developing a little show known as Cats.  A suggestion from a producer put Rice in touch with songwriters Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA.   Looking to pursue some projects outside of the group, Andersson and Ulvaeus met with Rice in 1981 and signed onto the project.  Over the course of the next couple of years, the group worked on the musical with Rice writing lyrics (with some contributions from Ulvaeus) and Andersson and Ulvaeus writing the music.  In order to raise money, it was decided to release a concept album first, a strategy that had worked for Rice previously with Jesus Christ Superstar and EvitaChess was released in 1984, and now to celebrate its 30th anniversary, Universal U.K. is releasing Chess: The Original Recording – Remastered Deluxe Edition, a 2-CD/ 1-DVD set.

Chess tells the fictional Cold War-era story of Soviet chess grandmaster Anatoly and his American opponent Freddie.   While competing against each other, Anatoly becomes romantically involved with Freddie’s second and presumed lover, Florence.   This leads him to defect to the United States setting off political machinations and romantic entanglements (including Anatoly’s Soviet wife Svetlana) which come to a head around the concluding chess match.  Standout songs from the score include “Nobody’s Side,” “Anthem,” “Heaven Help My Heart,” “Pity the Child,” “I Know Him So Well” and “One Night in Bangkok.”

The original concept album was released in the fall of 1984.  Murray Head played Freddie and Tommy Korberg portrayed Anatoly (although they were just referred to as “The American” and “The Russian” on the album).  Florence was played by Elaine Page and Svetlana by Barbara Dickson.   The LP release featured lyrics and a basic description of the plot.  It received favorable critical notices and reached No. 47 on the Billboard 200 in US but fared even better in the U.K., climbing into the Top 10.  A couple of singles were released including “One Night in Bangkok” sung by Murray Head.  It peaked at No. 12 in the U.K. but impressively hit No. 3 on the U.S. Hot 100.  Having greater success in the U.K. was the duet between Paige and Dickson, “I Know Him So Well.”  The soaring power ballad topped the British chart for four weeks and remains the best-selling single by a female duo ever in the country.   The song was later covered by artists like Whitney Houston with mom Cissy, and a solo Barbra Streisand.

With the album’s success, Chess was brought to London’s West End and premiered in May of 1986.  The plot was expanded and several new songs and characters were added from the original album.  Michael Bennett, the theatrical genius behind such shows as A Chorus Line and Dreamgirls, was brought on to direct.  Unfortunately, he became ill while working on the show and had to pull out before tragically dying from an AIDS-related illness in 1987 at the age of 44.  Trevor Nunn, who had directed the massive musical hits Cats and Les Miserables, came onboard as Bennett’s replacement.  Nunn married his more realistic style to some conceptual elements which had already been planned for the Bennett version.  Head, Paige and Korberg all reprised their roles from the concept album but Dickson was unavailable and was replaced by Siobhan McCarthy.  The musical opened to generally mixed to favorable reviews and ran for three years.  It did not have a new original cast album recorded.

There’s more on the history of Chess, plus details on this new deluxe reissue, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 3, 2014 at 11:03