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“NOW” and Then: U.K. Compilation Series Celebrates Three Decades in Three Discs

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Now 30 YearsWhen I was heavily ensconced in a retail job, I had the task of stocking new music and movie releases and sharing the new releases with the rest of the store on Tuesday morning. Without fail, every time a NOW That’s What I Call Music! compilation came out, someone would marvel how many such compilations existed, prompting me to tell my co-workers that they should check out the NOW series as it originated in the U.K., back in 1983, where they were double albums and released with slightly more frequency to the point where the 84th volume hit stores in March (as opposed to the single-disc 47th volume that streeted in the U.S. last Tuesday).

Of course, here at The Second Disc, I’m surrounded by record collectors and pop enthusiasts, so this illumination is nothing new. (That’s one of many reasons why I’m a lot happier editing these pages, I’ll tell you that!) But anyway, the point is that NOW That’s What I Call Music is indeed celebrating 30 years – and its doing so with a new, triple-disc compilation of highlights from its lengthy run.

NOW That’s What I Call 30 Years features an interesting, semi-chronological hodgepodge of pop cuts from the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and today, from Michael Jackson to Madonna, Take That to the Spice Girls, Adele to PSY. It’s disappointingly centered on the traditional pop scene on both sides of the Atlantic, thereby ignoring some of the R&B and rock-infused diversity that the NOW series was often known for (Radiohead appeared on at least one volume, for cryin’ out loud). As such, it’s a very, very patchy portrait of pop, passing a good chunk of the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. (Also, a considerably more minor quibble, but what’s up with the 20th Century-Fox meets Pink Floyd cover art?)

But NOW are one of the best – and one of the only – games in town as far as anthologizing pop music for the masses, so NOW That’s What I Call 30 Years might be a set for your collection when it’s released May 27 in England. Hit the jump to check out the full track list and order your copy off Amazon.

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Grammy Time: Music’s Biggest Night Honored with Annual Compilation

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Grammys 2013We’re just a few weeks from the 55th Annual Grammy Awards – or as I like to call it, “how many times can my music geek friends and I make cutting jokes on the Internet?” – and, as is customary, next week will see the release of a compilation of Grammy-nominated songs for your perusal.

The 22-track compilation, distributed this year by EMI, has quite the cross-section of cuts from what is a rather diverse year for the awards ceremony. Altogether, six different artists – Dan Auerbach of the indie-blues group The Black Keys, power-pop upstarts Fun., folk phenom Mumford & Sons, rising rapper/R&B singer Frank Ocean and 21st century hip-hop statesmen Jay-Z and Kanye West – are all tied for most nominations this year, with six apiece. A host of current stars and future greats are up for the most prominent awards, including Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Jack White Australian singer/songwriter Gotye, R&B crooner Miguel and more.

2013 Grammy Nominees also includes a track by last year’s champion Adele (who took home six trophies for her 2011 smash 21 and is nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance for her Live At The Royal Albert Hall CD/DVD) and one from the one and only Boss, Bruce Springsteen, who is not only a three-time nominee this year but will receive the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences’ prestigious MusiCares Person of the Year Award at a ceremony held the night before the Grammys telecast.

Get your copy of the CD January 22 and watch the awards at 8 p.m. on Sunday, February 10 on CBS. Pre-order links and a detailed summary of each track’s Grammy nominations are after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 15, 2013 at 14:08

Reissue Theory: “James Bond 007: The Ultimate Collection”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on classic music and the reissues they may someday see. With 50 years of on-screen action and a new film in theaters, the name is Bond…James Bond, and the music is plentiful!

What else is left to say about Ian Fleming’s blunt, British secret agent James Bond? Our 007, licensed to kill, is an international icon of print and, since Sean Connery suavely stepped into Bond’s tuxedo in 1962’s Dr. No, the big screen. Today, the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall – the third to star Daniel Craig as a rougher-hewn 007 and, by nearly all accounts, one of the greatest films in the series – opens in American theaters, guaranteeing the legacy that film producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli created a half-century ago remains as shaken (not stirred) as ever.

Bond soundtrack fans have had much to enjoy in that time period. From Monty Norman and His Orchestra’s brassy, immortal main theme (punctuated by session guitarist Vic Flick’s staccato electric guitar licks), to lush scores by John Barry, Marvin Hamlisch, Bill Conti, Michael Kamen, David Arnold and Thomas Newman, to name a few, to the 23 title themes of varying quality but with boundless cultural currency, music is as vital a part of the Bond experience as martinis, girls, cars and guns. And fans have been lucky: in the 1990s, Rykodisc acquired the rights to much of the Bond soundtrack catalogue (in most cases, controlled by Capitol/EMI). In the 2000s, Capitol itself expanded and/or remastered many of those albums anew. And compilations, from 1992’s rarity-packed double-disc The Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary Collection to this year’s Bond…James Bond: 50 Years, 50 Tracks, have been plentiful as well.

But short of another, even more comprehensive pass at expanding the soundtrack albums to completion (one that seems increasingly like a pipe dream, thanks to the climate of the industry and the varying physical and financial statuses of the scores themselves), one could certainly find worth in a multi-disc box set that would provide the definitive dossier on Bond music. With that in mind, Second Disc HQ’s latest mission file is just that – and you can expect us to talk after the jump!

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Reissues on Target: Retail-Exclusive Expansions Available for Adele, Blake Shelton

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If you’re in the U.S. and are heading to Target after work for a few household items, you might want to keep an eye out for two recent hit albums, both newly expanded in sets exclusive to the retail chain.

First up, a familiar expansion of last year’s biggest album, 21, by British soul singer Adele. Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock for the past year, you know that the 21-year-old Grammy Award winner for Best New Artist has had a precedent-shattering year with this record. In an age where it’s a surprise if albums go platinum (meaning, of course, a million units shipped), 21 has gone six times platinum, has spent 46 weeks in the Top 5 of the Billboard 200 as of this writing (it’s been out for 47 weeks) and has been the No. 1 album in the country for 16 nonconsecutive weeks, a feat most recently matched by the soundtrack to Titanic in 1997 and 1998. And singles “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You” spent a combined 12 weeks atop Billboard‘s Hot 100.

A Target-exclusive deluxe edition was in fact already released alongside the initial pressing of the album, featuring four live bonus tracks (including a duet of country group Lady Antebellum’s hit “Need You Now” with Darius Rucker, onetime lead singer of Hootie and The Blowfish and now a country star in his own right). But it wasn’t long before copies were impossible to come by; so, with the 54th Grammy Awards fast approaching in February (where Adele and 21 are nominated for six trophies), the store has ordered up a second pressing of the deluxe edition.

But that’s not all! A modern country performer and television star gets expanded with an ’80s twist after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 24, 2012 at 14:50

Release Round-Up: Week of January 24

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The Doors, L.A. Woman: 40th Anniversary Edition (Reprise/Rhino) / Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story of L.A. Woman (Eagle Rock/Rhino)

The Doors’ final album with Jim Morrison, memorialized in both a double-disc set with unreleased alternates and outtakes and a DVD/Blu-Ray documentary.

Various Artists, 2012 Grammy Nominees (Universal Republic)

And the nominees are…on this disc.

Various Artists, Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International (Shangri-La/Fontana)

Four, count ’em, four discs of artists past and present covering the Bard.

Glen Campbell, Live in Japan / Bill Medley, 100%/Soft & Soulful / Maggie & Terrie Roche, Seductive Reasoning / The Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Volumes 32 & 33 / Jody Miller, The Complete Epic Hits (Real Gone)

The latest from Real Gone is all over the place in a most excellent way!

Kirk Franklin, The Essential Kirk Franklin (Fo Yo Soul/Verity/Legacy)

The modern gospel legend compiles his greatest hits, Legacy-style, on two discs.

Public Image Ltd., First Issue / Paris Au Printemps / The Flowers of Romance / Live in Tokyo / This is What You Want…This is What You Get / Album / Happy? / 9 / The Greatest Hits, So Far / That Which is Not / John Lydon, Psycho’s Path (Virgin/EMI U.K.)

Recently remastered in Japan, the PiL catalogue is given the remastered treatment in the U.K. (these should be available on domestic shores soon, if not now).

Adele, 21: Target Deluxe Edition (XL Recordings) / Blake Shelton, Red River Blue: Deluxe Edition (Warner Bros.)

Two recent hit albums get some deluxe treatment from American retailer Target. Check back later for a full post on these ones.

Written by Mike Duquette

January 24, 2012 at 08:05

And the Tracks Are…: “2012 Grammy Nominees” Disc Due

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With the 54th Annual Grammy Awards mere weeks away on February 13, it’s getting close to one of music’s most vaunted pre-Grammy traditions: the release of the annual Grammy nominees compilation.

Due out January 24, 2012 Grammy Nominees compiles exactly the artists you’d expect, from multiple award nominees (British soul songstress Adele, pop acts Bruno Mars and Katy Perry, modern rock legends the Foo Fighters and country star Taylor Swift) to rising stars (rappers J. Cole and Nicki Minaj, alt-rockers Foster the People, dubstep artist/producer Skrillex). At 22 tracks from Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera to Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse, it’s every bit the who’s who of pop music in 2011 you’d expect.

But there’s a bit of an interesting twist this year: fans who buy the album, either physically or digitally, will be able to participate in a contest with a grand prize of tickets to next year’s Grammy Awards. Details on that event are here, and details of the album are after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 12, 2012 at 14:41