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Release Round-Up: Week of June 4

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DylanGHVol2SACDBob Dylan, Greatest Hits Volume 2 (SACD) (Audio Fidelity)

A double hybrid SACD version of the classic Dylan compilation, mastered by Steve Hoffman. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Hello AngelSandie Shaw, The Sandie Shaw Supplement Reviewing the Situation Hello Angel: Expanded Editions (Salvo)

Sandie Shaw’s late ’60s and ’80s material gets newly remastered and expanded. Smiths alive! (Click on the post above for a full breakdown and order links.)

BF5 LiveBen Folds Five, Live (ImaVeePee/Sony Music)

The power piano-pop trio’s first live disc, culled from dates in 2012 and 2013. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

10 SoundtrackMason Williams, The Mason Williams Phonograph Record / Mason Williams, The Mason Williams Ear Show / Surf Punks, Locals Only / The Amazing Rhythm Aces, Stacked Deck/Too Stuffed to Jump / Dickey Lee, Original Greatest Hits / Cat Mother and the All-Night Newsboys, Albion Doo-Wah / Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks Vol. 23 – Baltimore Civic Center Baltimore, MD 9/17/72 / Henry Mancini, “10″ Original Soundtrack  (Real Gone Music)

The latest from Real Gone, yours to read about here.

Roadhouse BluesAlbert King, Roadhouse Blues (Stax/Concord)

A reissue of King’s 1991 hits compilation. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

ClownAroundClownaround: The Original Show Album (Masterworks Broadway)

The studio cast recording of this 1972 Gene Kelly musical is now available exclusively at, as a made-to-order CD-R.

Release Round-Up: Week of September 18

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Box set season is totally in full swing this week! Are you ready?

Michael Jackson, Bad 25 (Epic/Legacy)

The King of Pop’s legendary 1987 album gets the deluxe treatment in a number of formats. The standard edition includes the remastered album and a 13-track bonus disc featuring rare and unreleased outtakes and new remixes. (That version is available with a T-shirt at Wal-Mart, and a bonus DVD with all nine original Bad-era short films – including the long performance edits of “Smooth Criminal” and “Speed Demon” from the Moonwalker film – is an exclusive at Target.) Then there’s the deluxe box set, featuring those two discs and a CD and DVD of Jackson’s July 16, 1988 performance at London’s Wembley Stadium; that box is also available as a super-collectible version in a swag-filled box. The Live at Wembley DVD is available separately, as well. Who’s bad? Well, that depends on your wallet.  Joe’s review can be found here!

The Jackson 5, Come and Get It: The Rare Pearls (Hip-O Select/Motown)

Not enough MJ for you this week? How about two discs of unreleased Jackson 5 outtakes, with a collectible vinyl single to boot?

ABBA, The Essential Collection (Polydor/UMC)

While this new U.K. ABBA compilation doesn’t offer much of anything new, it does offer every single the band ever released on one set, plus a bonus DVD of music videos (featuring the premiere home video release of the videos for the Spanish versions of “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and “Thank You for the Music”).

Steve Miller Band, Children of the Future Sailor Brave New World Your Saving Grace Number 5 (Edsel)

The first five albums of The Steve Miller Band are reissued by Edsel with new liner notes, lyrics and rare photographs!

Laura Branigan, Branigan: Expanded Edition Self Control: Expanded Edition / Grace Jones, Inside Story: Expanded Edition (Gold Legion)

The latest expansions from Gold Legion include Branigan’s two biggest hit-filled discs (featuring “Gloria” and “Self Control,” respectively) and Grace Jones’ first post-Island album for EMI, produced by Nile Rodgers. All three are expanded with bonus 12″ mixes and expanded booklets.

Angel, Angel / Helluva Band On Earth As It Is in Heaven (Rock Candy)

You’ll agree that Angel – discovered by Gene Simmons and lampooned by Frank Zappa – was one “helluva band” with Rock Candy’s remastered editions, all featuring deluxe booklets with new essays, memorabilia and rare photos.

Ben Folds Five, The Sound of the Life of the Mind (ImAVeePee/Sony Music)

Our final spotlighted title isn’t a reissue, but the first Ben Folds Five album in 13 years really, truly lives up to the hype. Add to that the fact that Mr. Folds was behind last year’s best catalogue title of the year, and we’re going to proudly present this as a future catalogue classic that certainly deserves your ears today!

Written by Mike Duquette

September 18, 2012 at 10:55

The Year in Reissues: The 2011 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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What are you doing New Year’s Eve?  As we count down to that big celebration, we’ve been holed up at Second Disc HQ readying another year’s Gold Bonus Disc Awards for you!  We consider our annual awards a companion piece to Mike’s round-up over at Popdose (essential reading, I might add!) and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible as well as to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2011.  These ladies and gentlemen (some of whom we were privileged enough to interview this year) have proven, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world, and The Gold Bonus Disc Awards are dedicated to them.

Let’s get on with it!  And don’t forget to please share your thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2011?  Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2011′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year?  Hit the jump below to find out!

All winners are in bold, and we’ve linked to our original reviews and features in the body of each category’s text. Read the rest of this entry »

The First Day of Second Discmas

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With Christmas less than two weeks away, we’ve of course been thinking about the best reissues and catalogue titles of 2011. But this year, we’re celebrating a little bit differently: for the most giving time of the year, we reached out to some of our favorite reissue labels and are playing Santa Claus to our awesome and faithful readers. We’re calling it – what else? – Second Discmas, and it’s going on through the rest of the month!

Our first giveaway is a real treat: If you love piano-based power pop, you probably consider Ben Folds in the upper echelon of the subgenre. From his early days writing gorgeous hooks with an edge as the anchor of pop trio Ben Folds Five, to a satisfying solo career that’s found him branching out into soundtrack writing, reality show judging and collaborations with everyone from William Shatner to Nick Hornby, there’s a lot of ground to cover, no.matter how big a fan you are.

This year, Folds and Epic/Legacy took fans down memory lane with The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective. The three-disc set combined Folds’ greatest works with BF5 and on his own, alongside a healthy helping of unreleased live and studio cuts and the first new Ben Folds Five recordings in over a decade.

We have two copies of this to give away for you, and winning is crazy easy! All you do is send an email to theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject head “Second Discmas.” You have until 3:00 pm EST to enter, but here’s the great part: your entry qualifies you for ALL of our giveaways (until you win, of course!). And this is just the first of many prizes to come, so enter now and stay tuned for all our drawings!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 13, 2011 at 15:00

Review: Ben Folds, “Ben Folds Fifty-Five Vault”

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When “Brick” ascended the Billboard Hot 200 to a No. 17 peak in 1998, it seemed possible that Ben Folds Five would join the ranks of Chumbawamba, Semisonic and Marcy Playground in the annals of the nineties one-hit wonder.  But the band’s charismatic frontman envisioned a different path.  Witness some of the other artists who only scored one Top 40 hit: Janis Joplin (“Me and Bobby McGee”), Jimi Hendrix (“All Along the Watchtower”), Frank Zappa (“Valley Girl”), The Grateful Dead (“Touch of Grey”) and Randy Newman (“Short People”).  Although Joplin and Hendrix were gone too soon, those other artists became some of the most legendary in rock music, building and maintaining large, loyal fan bases as well as rich catalogues.  Though Folds is too modest to confirm any legendary aspirations, it’s not hard to draw a line from Newman’s razor-sharp wit and knack for a melody to Folds’, nor from Zappa’s frequently off-color lyrics and sophisticated musicianship to Folds’ own.

And Folds shares another trait with that of Mr. Zappa: the man is outrageously prolific, and never seems far away from a recording console.  Three discs of his oeuvre, both solo and with Ben Folds Five, have just been released as the 3-CD The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective.  It’s tidily assembled into a “best of” and two discs of odds and ends, one in the studio and one on the concert stage.  But even that set’s prodigious 61 tracks couldn’t contain everything the artist had earmarked for release.  The digital-only Ben Folds Fifty-Five Vault resulted from this overflow.  It’s a fresh, largely unprecedented concept, compiling an online-only treasure trove to complement the box.  As Folds told me last month, “It’s a natural place to put the more obscure, rare third-tier stuff.”  He knew that a digital component to the box set would be welcomed by his fan base: “The fans can get it that way and my fans are mostly, have been Internet-based, savvy folks, since 2000, really.  2000 was the first year I recall signing more burned CDs than purchased CDs and I still think there are artists who can’t claim that.  Anyway, the only way to placate everyone on our kind of curation team…was saying, ‘Okay, gets into the vault!’  ‘Alright, into the vault!’  I wanted to figure out how to put it on [a duet by The Divine Comedy’s] Neil Hannon and me…I had to go, okay, that goes into the vault.  And that way it’s still out there. And what we did talk about was that none of the stuff in that 55 or 50 song collection in the vault could be sub-par shit.  We weren’t going to do it.  It turned out we had plenty.  We still have stuff on deck.”

Has Folds lived up to his promise of no “sub-par shit” in the Fifty-Five Vault?  Hit the jump to find out!

With 34 of its 56 tracks (one presumes the same math that allowed three band members to form Ben Folds Five yielded 56 tracks in the Fifty-Five Vault!) previously unreleased, there’s a true wealth of material here for collectors.  Each song is available for individual download or as a complete package, and although the set is a supplement to Best Imitation of Myself, it’s also that set’s antithesis.  That collection is a thoughtfully-assembled, artfully-sequenced tour through the many facets of the artist as singer, songwriter and bandleader.  By its nature, The Fifty-Five Vault is unwieldy and designed for the possibility of shuffle.  One almost wishes the Super Deluxe bug had bit Mr. Folds (as it previously did with 2008’s Way to Normal), as a six-disc physical package with all of the material from both Best Imitation and The Vault would have been something to behold.  As a digital release alone, the vast array of material – drawn from B-sides, demos, outtakes, live versions, covers and soundtrack songs – lacks any context via illuminating liner notes or chronological sequencing.  With polished studio outings largely given the short shrift in The Vault, the arc is that of a musical vagabond, restlessly travelling through different styles and settings.  Though all sides of the artist are, indeed, on full display here, slight emphasis seems to have been given to the sardonic jokester.  One’s mileage will vary depending on his appreciation of that aspect of Folds’ musical persona.  On many tracks, he’s joined by his Ben Folds Five bandmates Robert Sledge (bass) and Darren Jessee (drums).  The trio brought the sheer energy of punk to their blistering live shows, and a number of those performances are captured here.

What will you discover in Ben’s vault?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 18, 2011 at 13:06

Review: Ben Folds, “The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective”

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Opening the four-panel digipak that houses Ben Folds’ The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective (Epic/Legacy 88697 92683-2), listeners are treated to an unsettling and hilarious sight: the bespectacled, slightly quizzical face of the singer/songwriter, superimposed onto bodies he clearly has no place being attached to. Those off-kilter images are exactly the kind of strange silliness fans have come to expect from Folds over a career that stretches more than 15 years, starting with the excellent power-pop trio Ben Folds Five and continuing through a lengthy solo career that’s long eluded commercial fortune but has made Folds thisclose to a household name.

Quite frankly, the notion of a “greatest hits package” might not make sense to the average music observer. Folds’ chart success begins and ends with “Brick,” Ben Folds Five’s unlikely multi-format Top 40 ballad about a high school couple getting an abortion – hardly the stuff that pop careers are made of. What Folds and compilation producers Timothy J. Smith and Darren Salmieri did instead was craft a rather thorough overview of Ben’s discography that will provide more than enough for the first-time fan and satiate even the most ravenous of superfan. That’s not bad for a guy with so few chart entries – and it’s really the kind of approach everyone wants for their favorite artists.

In fact, go ahead and laugh all you want, but Best Imitation may be this author’s candidate for the catalogue set of the year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

October 17, 2011 at 12:41

Release Round-Up: Week of October 11

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Ben Folds, The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective (Epic/Legacy)

Ben Folds-mania – at least around Second Disc HQ – hits a fever pitch with the first compilation from everyone’s favorite piano-playing smartass. You have your single-disc version, the excellent three-disc version and the digital vault, featuring another 55 tracks at 320 kbps MP3s. (Five of those tracks are yours free when you buy the three-disc set.) (Official site)

James Brown, The Singles Vol. 11 (1979-1981) (Hip-o Select/Polydor)

The end of an era: the last Hip-o Select compilation of singles from The Godfather of Soul. (Hip-o Select)

Todd Rundgren, Runt + The Ballad of Todd Rundgren / Something/Anything?…Plus / A Wizard, A True Star + Todd / Initiation + Faithful / Utopia, RA / Oops! Wrong Planet (Edsel)

A host of Rundgren-oriented catalogue action:  a heap of Bearsville two-fers, many with bonus tracks. (Edsel)

Johnny Cash, Bootleg III: Live Around the World (Columbia/Legacy)

Rare and unreleased live tracks from the Man in Black. Aren’t there more full shows that could make an appearance on CD, too? (Official site)

Judas Priest, The Chosen Few (Columbia/Legacy)

The newest Priest compilation includes hits as chosen by famous fans of the band, with liner notes from everyone who picked. (Official site)

Britney Spears, B. in the Mix: The Remixes, Vol. 2 (RCA)

Remixes of tracks from Blackout to Femme Fatale, some of which are on a commercial CD for the first time. (Official site)

Written by Mike Duquette

October 11, 2011 at 09:04

What’s in Ben’s Vault?

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As if getting a set of Ben Folds Five rarities on disc with next week’s Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective wasn’t enough, Folds, along with Legacy Recordings, vowed to open the vaults even further with the Ben Folds Fifty-Five Vault, a 55-track digital companion, five tracks of which would be given away free with purchase of the new compilation. Today, all the tracks were announced from the vault, and while not all of it is entirely unreleased, there’s more than enough to satisfy the biggest Ben Folds fans out there.

Of the tracks, 35 of them are entirely unreleased. There are lots of live takes – both with and without Ben Folds Five along with another live track with The Bens – additional demos, including beloved early songs like “Protection,” “Silver Street” and “Lonely” as well as unheard ones like “I Knew That Cha Could,” from the Rockin’ the Suburbs sessions; and a few other studio goodies. Two more tracks from Ben Folds Five’s fourth album sessions with Mitch Easter in 2000 (the sessions which yielded one of the set’s standout tracks, “Amelia Bright”), will be revealed – a Robert Sledge-penned (and sung!) track called “Prince Charming” and an unheard tune called “It’s All Right with God.”

There are another 20 tracks from various compilations and CD singles, and while not all of them are rare (there are some tunes from Folds’ Over the Hedge soundtrack in 2006 and B-sides which appeared on Epic’s reissue of Whatever and Ever Amen in 2005), there are a few songs of interest. Most of Ben Folds Five’s studio B-sides, including a jokey cover of “All Shook Up” and “Birds” (a Sledge-written tune from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner), are collated, as well as some live tracks, like a hilarious, countrified cover of Oasis “Champagne Supernova,” touted as “an American standard” to an audience in a London club. There’s also “Bizarre Christmas Incident,” an over-the-top track written for a Christmas film Folds knew nothing about (the film turned out to be the live-action adaptation of The Grinch (2000), prompting him to quickly write a far less bawdy tune), and an alternate mix of the new Ben Folds Five track “House.”

The Ben Folds Fifty-Five Vault looks like it will be available to everyone, not just buyers of the new set. While it does have a price tag of $29.99, it certainly looks worthwhile if you’re a fan. Parse the track list after the jump!

Ben Folds Fifty-Five Vault (Epic/Legacy, 2011)
  1. Adelaide (Live in Adelaide 2011) *
  2. Air  – Ben Folds Five (from Godzilla: The Album – Epic Soundtrax EK 69338, 1998)
  3. All Shook Up – Ben Folds Five (B-side of “Kate” – Epic/550 Music 664536 5 (U.K.), 1997)
  4. Ascent of Stan (Live in New York City 2002) *
  5. Birds – Ben Folds Five (B-side of “Army” – Epic/550 Music 36-79186, 1999)
  6. Bitch Went Nutz (Live in Amsterdam 2008) *
  7. Bizarre Christmas Incident (from Maybe This Christmas – Nettwerk 0 6700 30295 2 0, 2002)
  8. Brick (Live Acoustic 2003) – The Bens *
  9. Champagne Supernova (Live @ LA2, London – 11/22/1996) – Ben Folds Five (B-side of “Battle of Who Could Care Less” – Epic/550 Music 664230 2 (U.K.), 1997)
  10. Cologne (Piano Orchestra Version) (from “fake leak” of Way to Normal, 2008)
  11. Dr. Yang (Live in Leuven, Belgium – 11/23/2008) *
  12. Evaporated (Demo 1992) *
  13. Family of Me (from Over the Hedge: Music from the Motion Picture – Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax 82876 83669-2, 2006)
  14. For All the Pretty People – Ben Folds Five (B-side of “Kate” – Epic/550 Music 664536 2 (U.K.), 1997)
  15. Free Coffee (Live in Germany 2008) *
  16. Girl (B-side of “Rockin’ the Suburbs” – Epic 671849 2 (U.K.), 2001)
  17. Golden Slumbers (Live in NYC 2001) *
  18. Hava Nagila (Live @ The Marx, Hamburg – 11/5/1996) – Ben Folds Five (B-side of “Battle of Who Could Care Less” – Epic/550 Music 664230 5 (U.K.), 1997)
  19. Heist (from Over the Hedge: Music from the Motion Picture – Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax 82876 83669-2, 2006)
  20. Hiro’s Song (Shaker Version) (Live in Melbourne 2011) *
  21. Honey Don’t – Ben Folds Five (Alternate Take 2000) *
  22. Hospital Song – Ben Folds Five (Live in Philadelphia 1999) *
  23. House – Ben Folds Five (Original Mix) *
  24. I Knew That Cha Could (Demo 2000) *
  25. In Between Days (Live 2005)
  26. In Love (Demo 1998) *
  27. It’s All Right with God – Ben Folds Five (Mitch Easter Sessions 2000) *
  28. Jesusland (Live in Jakarta 2011) *
  29. Jesusland (Stadium Version) (Live in London 2005) *
  30. Lonely (Demo 1996) *
  31. Lost in the Supermarket (from Over the Hedge: Music from the Motion Picture – Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax 82876 83669-2, 2006)
  32. Make Me Mommy (B-side of “Rockin’ the Suburbs” – Epic 671849 2 (U.K.), 2001)
  33. Mitchell Lane – Ben Folds Five (B-side of “Kate” – Epic/550 Music 664536 5 (U.K.), 1997)
  34. Mess (with Neil Hannon) (Live in Boston 2007) *
  35. Narcolepsy (Live in Brussels, Belgium – 11/21/1999) – Ben Folds Five) *
  36. One Down (B-side of “Rockin’ the Suburbs” – Epic 671849 5 (U.K.), 2001)
  37. Prince Charming – Ben Folds Five (Mitch Easter Sessions 2000) *
  38. Prologue (outtake from Over the Hedge soundtrack) *
  39. Protection (Demo 1992) *
  40. Radio Jingles for Inter-FM (from Songs for Goldfish EP – Attacked by Plastic EL 94452, 2005)
  41. Rockin’ the Suburbs (“Over the Hedge” Version) (from Over the Hedge: Music from the Motion Picture – Epic/Sony Music Soundtrax 82876 83669-2, 2006)
  42. Say Yes (Live at The A.V. Club 2010) *
  43. She Don’t Use Jelly – Ben Folds Five (from Lounge-a-Palooza – Hollywood Records HR-62072-2, 1997)
  44. Side of the Road (Alternate Cello Version) (original version from Songs for Goldfish EP – Attacked by Plastic EL 94452, 2005) *
  45. Silver Street (Demo 1994) *
  46. Smoke (Demo 1994) *
  47. Song for the Dumped (Demo 1996) *
  48. Steven’s Last Night in Town (Demo 1996) *
  49. Theme from “Dr. Pyser” – Ben Folds Five) (B-side to “Army” – Epic/550 Music 667218 2 (U.K.), 1999)
  50. Underground (Demo 1992) *
  51. Video Killed the Radio Star – Ben Folds Five (from expanded edition of Whatever and Ever Amen – Epic EK 86082, 2005)
  52. Where’s Summer B? (Live at WNEW 1996) – Ben Folds Five *
  53. Wild Mountain Thyme (Alternate Take 2010) *
  54. You to Thank (Live in Adelaide 2011) *
  55. Your Cheatin’ Heart (Live 1996) – Ben Folds Five *
  56. Your Redneck Past (Live in London 1999) – Ben Folds Five *

Written by Mike Duquette

October 6, 2011 at 13:39

UPDATED 8/23: Ben Folds Unfolds Box Set Track List For “Retrospective”

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Ben Folds’ first proper album, 1995’s Ben Folds Five, was named for his band. And although Alanis Morissette had her breakthrough hit that same year with “Ironic,” I’ll put money down that nobody was more ironic that year than Ben Folds. After all, there were only three members of this Ben Folds Five! The pianist/singer/songwriter wore his sensibilities on his sleeve, and that slightly skewed – and yes, ironic – worldview has served him well over the years. “Underground,” off that first album, smirked at the hipsters of the alternative scene, but that was the very scene in which the musician was gaining notice.

The Ben Folds “sound” was in place on that first release, making a stew out of Billy Joel, Todd Rundgren and Joe Jackson; in other words, power-pop with a Tin Pan Alley emphasis on melody and clear storytelling. Based on his humor, I’d even venture to say that a little Frank Zappa was in there!  Sure, Folds’ lyrics were often profane, and resonated greatly with his youthful audience, especially during his live shows which boasted all of the raw power of punk. The Five was a breath of fresh air surrounded by the often-angst-ridden music of the era.  Folds’ dedication to classic, richly melodic songcraft has served him well, and the one-time “underground” college-circuit favorite is now so mainstream that he’s being celebrated by Legacy Recordings with the October 11 release of The Best Imitation Of Myself: A Retrospective (1995-2011).

Best Imitation of Myself will be offered as a single-disc compilation or a three-disc set containing demos, studio outtakes, alternate mixes and live tracks. Best of all, three new tracks have reunited Folds with Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee, the other two-thirds of the Five, for their first studio work together in over a decade. One of their new songs, “House,” will be available on the single CD, while all three can be found on the deluxe edition. In other words, the considerable vault of Mr. Folds – from his rough-around-the-edges early songs to the mature, often yearning compositions that pepper his latter-day efforts – has been opened! 

Just what will you find?  Hit the jump, friends!  We’ve updated in BOLD with new information as to where you can hear a stream of the new Ben Folds Five reunion track “House,” and we’ve got more details on the upcoming Ben Folds ’55’ Vault! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 23, 2011 at 15:52

We’ve Been Thinking a Lot Today About Folds’ Retrospective (UPDATED)

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“Soon.” That’s what a Legacy representative told The Second Disc as to when the label’s upcoming Ben Folds retrospective package would be announced. Naturally, such a revelation is nothing short of exciting. Everyone at Second Disc HQ is a major fan of the singer/songwriter/pianist’s recorded works over the past 15-plus years, from the perfect punch of Ben Folds Five‘s three studio LPs to Folds’ increasingly prolific solo career, which has seen him collaborate with such luminaries as Joe Jackson, William Shatner, Amanda Palmer and author Nick Hornby.

We’ve been so excited, in fact, that we decided to put together a post using our powers of research (and our love for educated guesses) priming readers on what to expect when the set is finally announced. Intense Folds-related geekery follows after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 21, 2011 at 11:51