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Give ‘Em a Spin: The Second Disc’s Essential Back to Black Friday 2013 Release Guide

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Another year…another Black Friday. Yes, it’s that time of year again in which consumers start off the holiday shopping season on a mad, frenetic note. This year is another one in which numerous big-box retailers in the U.S. have made headlines by blackening Thursday, or Thanksgiving Day itself, by sales starting on the holiday. So many might give thanks that the folks behind Record Store Day are waiting until the traditional Friday to release their twice-yearly slate of exclusive releases.

As usual, many top artists are represented, from Bob Dylan to U2, with titles aimed coming from both the new and catalogue ends of the spectrum. With that in mind, Mike and I have once again selected our picks for the crème de la crème of titles being released this Friday. Don’t hesitate to head over and drop by your local independent record store, and don’t fear the crowds. With everybody at the mall, the Black Friday RSD event is usually a bit more manageable than the April festivities. You can find a full list of RSD Back to Black Friday exclusives (and a list of participating shops) here.

Without further ado, we’ll kick things off with five of Joe’s favorite slabs of vinyl due on Friday…

Nilsson Sessions LPNilsson, Sessions 1967-1975: Rarities from the RCA Albums Collection (RCA/Legacy)

Let’s go ahead and say it: 2013 has been The Year of Nilsson. Legacy’s well-curated sampler The Essential Nilsson whetted appetites for its crown jewel box set The RCA Albums Collection, and that landmark collection was followed by the first-ever CD reissue of Flash Harry on Varese Vintage. Now, Legacy caps off this yearlong celebration with the 180-gram vinyl release of a Nilsson album that never was. Sessions 1967-1975, adorned with Steve Stanley’s wonderful original artwork created for the box set, features twelve of the best Nilsson tracks you might not have known – and won’t soon forget. An alternate of “One” (“…is the loneliest number you’ll ever know”) and a demo of “Coconut” sit alongside John Lennon’s “Isolation” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Marry Me a Little” on this remarkable distillation of a singular musical life. To vinyl collectors who already own the box, Sessions is a fine complement. To those who don’t…you’re in for a treat. Doctor’s Orders: Put the lime in the coconut and call me in the morning.

Van Dyke Parks - Come to the Sunshine

Van Dyke Parks, “Come to the Sunshine” b/w “Farther Along” 7-inch single (Sundazed)

Musical iconoclast (and close pal and collaborator of Harry Nilsson) Van Dyke Parks returns with a replica 45 of his 1966 single, originally on the MGM label. “Come to the Sunshine” has proved a rallying cry for the sunshine pop genre, covered by artists including Harpers Bizarre – who included it as the very first track on their debut album. One part jazz, one part vaudeville, one part psychedelia and all- infectious, the intricately arranged “Come to the Sunshine” is packaged by the Sundazed crew in a new sleeve with a period photo of Parks and new liner notes from California pop historian Domenic Priore.

Percy Dovetonsils Christmas

Ernie Kovacs, A Percy Dovetonsils Christmas (Omnivore)

Omnivore has our candidate for the wackiest release of the Christmas season – or is that the Christmath theathon? Yes, everyone’s favorite lisping poet is back. And if Ernie Kovacs’ kooky creation isn’t your favorite lisping poet, he might well be once you take a chance on A Percy Dovetonsils Christmas. “The Night Before Christmas on New York’s Fashionable East Side” is a most unique Christmas Eve tale, and it’s joined on this festive vinyl 10-inch picture disc by five more of Dovetonsils’ rather refined poems. Grab your smoking jacket (zebra pattern not required) and your glasses (painted-on eyeballs optional, as well) and rest in your easy chair with some of the strangest – and most strangely enjoyable – odes you’ll hear this holiday season.

The Doors - RSD

The Doors, Curated by Record Store Day (Elektra/Rhino)

This 180-gram LP offers eight rare studio and live tracks from Jim, Ray, Robby and John including four mono mixes (“Break on Through,” “Soul Kitchen,” “Moonlight Drive” and “When the Music’s Over”) plus the LP version of “Love Street,” “The Unknown Soldier” from the Hollywood Bowl in 1968, “Roadhouse Blues” from New York’s Felt Forum in 1970, and “Five to One” from Boston, also 1970. All tracks have been remastered by Bruce Botnick, and surviving Doors Robby Krieger and John Densmore have hand-written the track listing on the artwork.

Roy Orbison - Monument Vinyl

Roy Orbison, The Monument Vinyl Box (Legacy)

Here, then, is a Monumental 4-LP box for a Monumental artist. The Big O immortalized such heartbreakingly dramatic mini-operas as “Only the Lonely,” “Crying,” “Running Scared” and “Blue Bayou,” all of which you’ll hear on the first three LPs in this new vinyl box set: Lonely and Blue, Crying and In Dreams. The fourth LP is a wholly new creation: an Oh! Pretty Woman album featuring the title track, “Ooby Dooby,” “Claudette,” and other tracks handpicked by Orbison’s sons. This one will sure look great under the tree – wrapped in some pretty paper, of course.

After the jump: Mike selects his five picks for Back to Black Friday! Read the rest of this entry »

Back to Black: Legacy Unveils Record Store Day Black Friday Exclusives From Simon, Dylan, Davis, Nilsson, Hendrix & More

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Record Store Day Black Friday

It’s that time of year again!  Though Black Friday has taken a backseat in recent years to the once-unheard-of Thanksgiving Day sales, the folks at Record Store Day still hold the day after Thanksgiving in high esteem.  News has begun to trickle out about this year’s RSD Back to Black Friday exclusives, and the team at Legacy has certainly put together a collection of special vinyl releases – and a handful of CDs, too – that look back to recent releases from the label and forward to future titles.  All titles are available in participating Record Store Day locations on November 29!

Classic rock releases, naturally, are at the forefront of the Legacy slate:

RSDproductShot(*) denotes numbered edition

Cheap Trick, The Classic Albums 1977-1979 * (Epic/Legacy) – A new box set of five 12” 180-gram LPs includes the first five Cheap Trick records: Cheap Trick (1977), In Color (1977), Heaven Tonight (1978), At Budokan (1978) and Dream Police (1979), all newly mastered in 2013 from the original analog tapes and packaged with original album artwork.

Clash - London Calling

The Clash, The Clash / Give ‘Em Enough Rope / London Calling / Sandinista! / Combat Rock (Epic/Legacy) – These five classic Clash albums, included in the Sound System box set, are released separately as vinyl-replica CDs.


Bob Dylan, Side Tracks * (Columbia/Legacy) – The two-disc set of non-album material from The Complete Album Collection Vol. One is available as a numbered, 200-gram vinyl triple-LP set.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Fire b/w Foxey Lady (Live at The Miami Pop Festival) * (Experience Hendrix/Legacy) – This 7” single contains two performances from the Experience’s previously-unreleased set at the Miami Pop Festival in 1968, which is coming to CD very soon from Experience Hendrix and Legacy.

Still Crazy - Paul Simon

Paul Simon, Paul Simon / There Goes Rhymin’ Simon / Still Crazy After All These Years (Columbia/Legacy) – Rhymin’ Simon’s first three post-Simon & Garfunkel studio albums, recently on CD as part of The Complete Albums Collection, all arrive in remastered 180-gram LP editions, each also containing a download card.

After the jump: Legacy gets funky with Sly and the Family Stone, plus vintage rock and roll from Roy Orbison, classic pop from the one and only Harry Nilsson, Miles Davis in mono, and more! Read the rest of this entry »

I Want You To Want Me: Cheap Trick “Complete Epic Albums” Box Offers Remastered Classics, U.S. CD Debuts

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“ELO kiddies, ELO kiddies, whatcha gonna do when the lights start shining?” went the musical question in the first song on Cheap Trick’s very first album.  But one question, naturally, leads to another.  Was the song title simply saying a British ‘elo in a cheeky salute?  Or was it alluding to ELO, a.k.a. Electric Light Orchestra, the orchestral rock outfit founded by Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood?  Why the heck does the song sound more like Gary Glitter than those Brummies?  And where did the boys from Illinois soak up all of those British influences anyway?

You’ll find plenty of questions, as well as deliciously satisfying answers, in the handy 13-album/14-CD cube helpfully entitled Cheap Trick: The Complete Epic Albums Collection (Epic/Legacy 88697 94193 2, 2012).  Produced by Bruce Dickinson and mastered by Vic Anesini, this exclusive box set available from Sony’s PopMarket brings together the formidable 1977-1990 catalogue of one of America’s most electrifying rock bands.  A full five albums (One on One, Standing on the Edge, The Doctor, Lap of Luxury and Busted) have been newly remastered expressly for this set, while Found All the Parts makes its U.S. CD debut and the “Authorized Version” of the Todd Rundgren-produced Next Position Please has its worldwide CD premiere.  In addition, five albums have bonus tracks mirroring their most recent Legacy reissues, and the acclaimed At Budokan is presented in its complete 2-CD form.  Indeed, this is a comprehensive anthology suitable for both longtime Cheap Trick fans as well as for new fans looking to build a library in one fell swoop.

Once Rick Neilsen and Tom Petersson lit The Fuse in the late 1960s, the stage was set for Cheap Trick.  The Fuse didn’t burn for long, though, and the Chicago duo reunited to Philadelphia where they became Sick Men of Europe (presumably by way of South Street).  Returning to Illinois in 1973, Neilsen and Petersson added drummer Bun E. Carlos and singer Randy “Xeno” Hogan to their band, finally becoming Cheap Trick.  Hogan didn’t do the Trick, however, and was replaced in short order by Robin Zander.  From 1975 onward, the band toured relentlessly, and in 1976 Cheap Trick was rewarded with an Epic Records recording contract.  Producer Jack Douglas was tasked with the chore of bringing to record the band’s singular brand of rock: crunchy riffs on top of bright pop melodies, enlivened by eccentric, often dark humor and a subversive lyrical outlook.  The result, 1977’s Cheap Trick, failed to chart in the U.S. but became a major seller in Japan, priming the band for worldwide success.

The quartet’s second album, 1978’s In Color, dented the charts at No. 73 but smoothed out the rough edges of the ’77 debut with a somewhat quieter, even more melodic approach.  The magic finally arrived with Heaven Tonight (1978).  Like In Color, it was produced by Tom Werman, but this time out, he found Cheap Trick’s sweet spot.  Werman didn’t discourage the hook-filled songs inspired by the best of the British Invasion, but they were interpreted via a loud, tough and current sound.  “Surrender” from Heaven Tonight became Cheap Trick’s first Top 100 single, and a calling card for the group.  Heaven Tonight may be a great power pop album, but the emphasis is on the power.  Another band that mastered the heavy-yet-light balance was The Move, and Cheap Trick made explicit its devotion to the quirky rock of Roy Wood with a cover of his “California Man.”

And the fans surrendered to 1979’s At Budokan, on which the aggressive playing is rewarded by the audience’s palpable fervor.  The original Top 5-charting release was expanded by Legacy in 1998 from 10 tracks to the concert’s full 19 by incorporating material first aired on 1994’s Budokan II, and that 1998 set is the version included here.  (A whopping 3-CD/1-DVD set from 2008 expanded the original album further with a second concert included.)  Werman returned for the next studio effort, Dream Police, on which the production was as elaborate as At Budokan was raw.  Then, in 1980, Cheap Trick released the four-track EP Found All the Parts, freeing from the band’s vaults three new compositions and a cover of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper.”  This EP acknowledged the clear Beatles influence on the band, and this box set marks its very first time on American CD in its original form.  So for All Shook Up, released later that year, Cheap Trick went to the source: none other than George Martin.  Since his legendary run with the Fabs, Martin had produced a string of successful albums for America as well as albums by a crop of artists running the gamut from Neil Sedaka to Jeff Beck.  Now, his imprimatur was bestowed on Neilsen and co., and although the album might have been crushed under the weight of its lofty expectations, it’s far more than a mere footnote in the group’s discography.

Hit the jump for much, much more on these Midwestern rock heroes and the new box set, including order link and album listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 20, 2012 at 10:06

Reissue Theory: Cheap Trick, Squeeze Do-Overs

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Today’s installment of Reissue Theory is going to tread over familiar ground, in honor of two bands who turned out some great live sets last night at New Jersey’s State Theater: Cheap Trick and Squeeze.

Though both bands have their share of hardcore fanatics, they didn’t seem to be as vocal last night – at least one person was heard musing after the show that neither band catered to the greatest-hits crowd (Cheap Trick’s set mixed most of the favorite early tracks with new material – the band is still putting out albums, with The Latest (2009) being, well, the latest – while Squeeze bolstered their set equally with their best-known singles and a few lesser-known singles or album cuts, like “When the Hangover Strikes” or “Hope Fell Down” from the Difford & Tilbrook record.)

In spite of that crowd sentiment – and an admittedly poor sound mix for Cheap Trick – the show was a great night for all involved. And, unsurprisingly, it got your catalogue correspondent thinking about (what else?) back-catalogue affairs. Both of them have had an elevated presence in the reissue world. Cheap Trick’s Epic-era catalogue has been slowly but surely remastered and expanded by Epic starting in the late 1990s, finally picking up steam again a few months ago with a two-fer remaster of One on One (1982) and Next Position Please (1983) on the Friday Music label. Squeeze saw remasters of their first six LPs on CD with mostly unreleased pairs of bonus tracks in 1997; there have been more thorough expansions since of Argybargy (1980), Sweets from a Stranger (1982), Frank (1989) and Ridiculous (1995) (not to mention a set of live BBC recordings and an ongoing series of Squeeze demos released on Glenn Tilbrook’s Quixotic label).

But of course there’s always room for improvement. That reissue of One on One/Next Position Please uses the original LP track listing of the latter album, a playlist that not only removes two tracks that appeared on previous CD issues but also discounts the “Authorized Edition” overseen by the band for digital release in 2006, which reordered the album to the band’s original preference, unearthing two unreleased tracks in the process. It’s rather odd that, after working with their former label on a digital release, the band wouldn’t get such a set out on compact disc.

As for Squeeze, there’s the matter of Play, their grossly underrated 1991 effort. Play is sort of an odd duck as it seems to be one of the least-played offerings from the band (not counting the limp Domino (1998), which is the band’s last new record to date). It’s also one of the only Squeeze albums not released through Universal’s A&M, instead being owned by Warner’s Reprise label. (Universal has licensed some of the Play-era tunes for various compilations, notably Excess Moderation (1996) and Big Squeeze: The Very Best of (2002).) While it has in fact gotten a barely-there CD reissue through Wounded Bird Records, it added none of the B-sides that the band put out during this phase of their career, most notably the fan favorite “Maidstone.”

Thus, The Second Disc openly pictures a world where “Authorized” CDs of Next Position Please and Universal-owned Play reissues would be possible. They’d look a little something like what you’ll see after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 19, 2010 at 12:03

Back Tracks: Cheap Trick

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In reading about Cheap Trick on Web sites like the All Music Guide, one keeps finding aspects of the band’s work described as “perverse.” That’s a weird way of defining it – not in the sexual sense, mind you, but as a means of describing how unusual they are – but I guess it fits well enough, for a number of reasons.

In the Rockford, Ill.-based band are, visually, one of the most arresting bands ever; vocalist Robin Zander and basist Tom Petersson look like your typical gorgeous rockers, while guitar whiz Rick Neilsen resembles an overgrown class clown, with his Huntz Hall-esque baseball caps, checkerboard fashion sense and kinetic limbs (limbs that manipulate his many guitars like few others). And Bun E. Carlos, one of the strongest drummers of the late ’70s and early ’80s, looks like your dad.

But it’s not the physical style of the band that captivates us so. Cheap Trick’s early discography helped write the book on American power pop, that nearly-indescribable genre. It was a striking sound coupled to some darkly comedic lyrics (perhaps most famously “Surrender,” in which a typical teen finds out his parents are probably cooler than he’ll ever be), and it was a combination that had to be heard live to truly believe (to justify this, the band has what may be one of the Top 10 best-known live records of all time).

The other perverse qualities of Cheap Trick shine through on their catalogue titles. The band’s early works (from 1977 to 1980) were reissued, remastered and expanded between 1998 and 2008 (a major gap, to be sure) – then nothing. Finally, there’s some hope – Sony looks to be partnering with indie label Friday Music to get the band’s ’80s catalogue back into print. But very recently, the ICE boards report that Wounded Bird is tackling some Cheap Trick CDs as well. The inevitable question of what’s remastered and/or expanded rears its head once more between both companies. Ahh, reissue fandom!

So in celebration of these ongoing developments (and a back catalogue that is pretty darn good no matter who releases or re-releases it), here’s a look at the bigges, baddest and best of the Cheap Trick catalogue, as seen through the eyes of Back Tracks.

Surrender (but don’t give yourself away) after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 15, 2010 at 14:49