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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 »

Release Round-Up: Week of November 26

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Animals - Mickie Most YearsThe Animals, The Mickie Most Years and More / Tower of Power, Hipper Than Hip: Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow – Live on the Air & in the Studio 1974 / Lisa Fischer, So Intense / The Alabama State Troupers, Road Show / The Obsessed, The Church Within (Real Gone Music)

An Animals box set and a compilation of unreleased Tower of Power greatness head off Real Gone’s slate for the end of the year!

The Animals: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Tower of Power: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lisa Fischer: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Alabama State Troupers: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Obsessed: CD (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) LP (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Badfinger - TimelessBadfinger, Timeless: The Musical Legacy (Apple)

A new single-disc compilation devoted to the would-be Beatle heirs, the first to be derived from Apple’s 2010 remasters. (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Big Star - PlaylistBig Star, Playlist: The Very Best of Big Star (Legacy) / Nothing Can Hurt Me (Magnolia)

A double dose of Big Star today: a new compilation in Legacy’s Playlist line that marries some of the band’s classic early recordings with latter-day live tracks from their mid-’90s reunion, and a new feature-length documentary on the band.

PlaylistAmazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.
Nothing Can Hurt Me: DVD (Amazon U.S.) BD (Amazon U.S.)

Thelonious Monk Paris 1969Thelonious Monk, Paris 1969 (Blue Note)

An unreleased live set from later in Monk’s career, available in multiple formats (including an equally unseen video!).

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Screaming Life-FoppSoundgarden, Screaming Life/Fopp (Sub Pop)

An expanded remaster of the Seattle grunge icons’ debut EPs.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Barbra - Back to BrooklynBarbra Streisand, Back to Brooklyn (Columbia)

Barbra takes Brooklyn – specifically, the new Barclays Center – by storm in these shows, recorded in October 2012.

CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

It's a Scream How LevineVarious Artists, It’s a Scream How Levine Does the Rhumba (Idelsohn Society)

Subtitled “The Latin-Jewish Musical Story 1940s-1980s,” this double-disc set (featuring performances by Carole King, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and more) is a fun, occasionally wacky musical archaeology session that’ll keep you amused and informed. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Wicked - DeluxeWicked: Original Broadway Cast Recording 10th Anniversary Special Edition (Verve/UMe)

Defy gravity with this deluxe two-disc version of the Tony-winning musical about the witches of Oz. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Release Round-Up: Week of November 19

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Lee Hazlewood BoxThere’s a Dream I’ve Been Saving: Lee Hazlewood Industries 1966 – 1971 (Light in the Attic)

The legendary psychedelic cowboy shone brighter than ever as a singer-songwriter-producer on his own label in the latter half of the decade. This 4CD/1DVD/1 flexidisc box (also available with an extra three data DVDs!) covers that period of his career in exhaustive detail.

Standard box: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe box: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Frank Sinatra - Duets SDEFrank Sinatra, Duets: 20th Anniversary Edition (Capitol/UMe)

The Chairman of the Board’s last smash hit albums paired him with some of the biggest names in pop music at the time. Two decades later, these albums (plus some rare and unreleased material) are lavishly packaged together in a variety of formats.

2CD/2LP/1DVD Super Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP Vinyl Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1CD Best of DuetsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Cactus Live in JapanCactus, Live in the USA Live in Japan / TNA (Travers & Appice), Live in Europe / Bogert & Appice, Bogert/Appice & Friends (Rocker Records)

From drummer Carmine Appice, a new digital label, Rocker Records, features some new and old works with some famous friends, including two Cactus shows from 2006 and 2012, a live set with Canadian guitarist Pat Travers from 2004 and an early-’00s studio EP with Tim Bogert. Amazon links are available above and a fuller write-up is due soon!

A Perfect Circle - Three SixtyA Perfect Circle, Three Sixty (Virgin)

Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan’s other project, an acclaimed alt-metal outfit, return with a greatest hits compilation featuring “By and Down,” their first new song in eight years.

1CD Standard: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD Deluxe: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

NickelbackNickelback, The Best of Nickelback Volume 1 (Roadrunner)

The most famous Canadian pop-rockers of the ’00s get their first career-spanning compilation. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Written by Mike Duquette

November 19, 2013 at 08:03

Release Round-Up: Week of November 11/12

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Beatles - On AirThe Beatles, Live At The BBC / On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (Capitol)

What’s better than a remaster of The Fab Four’s 1994 double-disc set of live BBC sessions? How about another two-disc set of those sessions?

Live At The BBC (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Live At The BBC (3LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (3LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Live At The BBC: The Collection (4CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Hathaway Never My LoveDonny Hathaway, Never My Love: The Anthology (ATCO/Rhino)

A fine-looking four-disc anthology for the late, great soul singer, featuring his greatest hits and rare singles, a disc of unreleased studio outtakes, an unissued live performance at New York’s Bitter End in 1971, and his complete duets with Roberta Flack. Beautiful, beautiful stuff here. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Miles Davis - Original Mono RecordingsMiles Davis, The Original Mono Recordings (Columbia/Legacy)

A nine-disc set featuring a crash course in jazz education in glorious monaural sound! Classics ‘Round About Midnight (1957), Miles Ahead (1957), Milestones (1958), Porgy and Bess (1959), Kind of Blue (1959), Sketches of Spain (1960) and Someday My Prince Will Come (1961) are joined by two rare, out-of-print LPs: 1959’s Jazz Track (featuring a side of quintet recordings for a French soundtrack and a side of rarities from the sextet that cut Kind of Blue) and Miles & Monk At Newport (1964), featuring two live sets recorded five years apart at the Newport Jazz Festival. (Look for several of these albums on LP once again for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event!) (Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

Herbie packshotHerbie Hancock, The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988 (Columbia/Legacy)

This 34-disc set features every one of the jazz pianist’s albums for Columbia/CBS, including 11 which have never been on CD in the U.S. before (eight of these albums were only released in Japan). (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Tommy SDEThe Who, Tommy: Deluxe Editions (Geffen/UMe)

Another expanded version of The Who’s magnum opus features the original album with an unissued spread of demos, outtakes and live bootlegs.

2CD Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3CD/1BD Super Deluxe Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
1CD Remaster: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP Remaster: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Disney ClassicsVarious Artists, Disney Classics (Walt Disney Records)

A neat new four-disc box set spanning the entire Disney gamut (film, television and theme parks) in celebration of 90(!) years of musical magic. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Fisherman's BoxThe Waterboys, Fisherman’s Box: The Complete Fisherman’s Blues Sessions 1986-1988 (Parlophone)

After some delays, the six-disc version of this mammoth box (sans “influences” bonus disc or vinyl LP) is available this week. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

CCR Box 2013Creedence Clearwater Revival, Creedence Clearwater Revival (Box Set) (Fantasy)

A reissue of the band’s career-spanning six-disc 2001 box, featuring all nine of their studio and live albums and a disc of pre-CCR single sides, is now available in a new package not made of wood. (Amazon U.S.)

Ry Cooder boxRy Cooder, 1970-1987 (Rhino)

All 11 of the famed guitarist’s Warner-Reprise albums in one box. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Direct HitsThe Killers, Direct Hits (Island)

The Vegas modern-day New Wavers release their first compilation, with new single “Shot At the Night.” A deluxe edition adds a few more bonus tracks, including the original demo for hit single “Mr. Brightside.”

Standard: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Super Deluxe CD/10″ edition: Amazon U.K.

KeaneKeane, The Best of Keane (Island)

Another Island act from the ’00s (albeit one from England), Keane too release a compilation in a variety of formats.

Standard 1CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Deluxe 2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Super Deluxe 2CD/DVD (Amazon exclusive): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

P Montreal 1977Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Live in Montreal 1977 (Shout! Factory)

Welcome back, my friends, to a complete show in support of Works Volume 1 on two discs. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Lamb of God As The Palaces BurnLamb of God, As the Palaces Burn: 10th Anniversary Edition (Razor & Tie)

The thrash/groove quartet’s breakthrough 2000 album is remixed, remastered and expanded with three demos and a DVD documentary.

CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Grizzly Bear ShiledsGrizzly Bear, Shields: Expanded (Warp)

The Brooklyn band’s 2012 album, now with a bonus disc of demos and remixes.

Shields: Expanded (2CD): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Shields: B-Sides (LP): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Something to Remember: How Alex Chilton (and Jeff Vargon) Generated “Electricity by Candlelight”

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Electricity by Candlelight_ NYC 2_13_97The recent release of Alex Chilton’s Electricity by Candlelight on Bar/None Records turns a “you had to be there” moment into a “you are there moment.” The late, great singer/songwriter and Big Star frontman took a major setback – a sudden power outage between two sets at New York City’s Knitting Factory in 1997 – and spun it into a most magical listening experience: Chilton picked up an acoustic guitar and regaled a small audience with a clutch of covers, from standards (“My Baby Just Cares for Me,” “Someone to Watch Over Me”) to country classics (“D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” “I Walk the Line”) to the kind of brilliant pop songs he was more than capable of creating (a sublime three song run through the ends of Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys songbook, from “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” to “Surfer Girl” to the obscure “Solar System” off 1977’s Love You).

What brings this performance out of the realm of mystical recollection and into tangible experience is one lucky fan, Jeff Vargon, who attended Chilton’s show with his trusty recorder and captured an enchanting moment (“something I never would’ve expected”) from a career chock full of them. Not long after the release and enthusiastic reception to Electricity by Candlelight last month (“It’s good to see people getting what this show is about,” Vargon enthused), I had the pleasure of speaking to Jeff about his history with Chilton and what it was like in the presence of pure musical magic.

Where does your own history with Alex Chilton’s work begin? What was it about him that drew you to him?

I’ve been a Chilton fan since the early ’90s, and I’d liked power pop even before that – The Raspberries, Badfinger – but a friend of mine turned me on to Big Star in ’93, and I’d seen Alex live in 1994 or early ’95. This project in particular – at the time I was there, I knew something exceptional was happening. But the reaction out there surprised me – you might not expect something like this to get such positive feedback. But Alex Chilton had a fan base that was very unique.

When he was alive, his performances were very eclectic and unpredictable. There were certain songs he’d play if he was putting on his “lounge act,” so to speak. That photo that’s circulating with this release, that was from his first set that night, and he’s got on this shiny jacket and a nice shirt. By the second set, the one that’s on here, he had just a t-shirt on, strumming in front of a crowd by candlelight.

Alex was a musician – not to be cliched, but he did it his way. He had a No. 1 hit at 16, and could’ve kept going that route. Look at Michael Jackson – how he’d faded, spiraled and became a disaster. Alex, on the other hand, was someone who basically did his own thing, went out there and played gigs. He was a human being when you met him or talked to him, and he had bad days and good days. One night, I saw him at a Box Tops gig, and he was out on the street, and I’d said it was a great show. He replied, “No interviews, no interviews.” Now, I’d met him a few times before that, though I’m not certain he recognized me. It was one of those nights for him. But when he played, he always do what he wanted to do, not what corporate America was pushing down anyone’s throat.

Set the scene of what it was like to be at this show for us.

It was Valentine’s Eve, and I’d bought tickets for both sets. If he was playing over a few nights, I’d try to catch him once, but since it was one night, I just bought them both. So he played his electric set without a hitch, and I’d stood up front, took pictures and recorded him – I’ve been recording since my first Chilton gig. There was this break between sets, and people were milling about while Alex had gone upstairs to talk to a few friends. Just as they were setting up for the second set, the lights went out. Most people started booing, and the bulk of the group started to walk out. But Alex being Alex, he walked downstairs to see what was happening, and I decided to sit there and wait. All of a sudden, I hear this guitar strumming and he’s singing “Volare.” As soon as I heard it, I hit “record” and got as close as possible. People were still leaving at this point, but there were others starting to drift in and circle around him. And he just started playing. Eventually, people bought up a few candles, because it was dark where he was standing. As he continued to play, he warmed up even more to the crowd – you can hear on the recording that everyone there wanted to be there.

He played a long set, over an hour. There were songs we actually cut from the performance – the idea was we’d get out there songs he’d never recorded or performed regularly.

AlexWhat did you use to record the show?

Basically, I had a Sony stereo Walkman recorder with an external microphone I’d clipped to my shirt. It was funny, the entire recording I was paranoid that he’d spot the mic. I was close enough to him that he could’ve seen it had he looked – there was actually one point where he’s strumming and singing, and he stops, kind of smiles wryly and looks at me. And I figured, “Oh, I’m busted – he saw the mic and it’s over.” But it wasn’t.

It was a very basic setup. I was behind a lady directly in front of him – I didn’t want to be right in front.

When or how did this become an official Alex Chilton project?

I’d gone to the City Winery tribute in New York. Bill Cunningham, Gary Talley, Jody Stephens, Alex’s widow Laura – they were all there. And I’d put together packages ahead of time based on who played with him. One of the discs I’d put together was the acoustic CD, which I’d actually given to Alex back in 1998. It’s still my favorite personal recording – and Laura really enjoyed it. That’s what gave me the impetus to get this out there.

What are the most memorable moments of this show for you?

From what I recall, everything was very spur of the moment. He was kind of shooting from the hip – there was nothing he wouldn’t play, other than his own music. And a few of these songs were just called out, like “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” So Alex’s musical knowledge was phenomenal – almost limitless, if you think about it. Nothing was set in stone for any of this. Even those three Beach Boys tunes – I wasn’t aware that “Universe” even was a Beach Boys tune at the time. It was one of those things that just kept getting better as it went on, and nobody wanted it to end.

[But] “Surfer Girl,” for me, would be the song. He did a demo of that which ended up on a bootleg album, Beale Street Green, and it had such a 1970s feel, although it’s a ’60s tune. The ’70s were a point in history where, at the time you might not have appreciated what was going on, but looking back – especially in today’s world – it was a paradise.

I’m not going to live forever, but as long as I live, this is something to remember. It’s an example of beauty – it captures a moment where there is good in the universe, and everyone comes together, regardless of our differences, in one place and time to experience something great.

You can order Electricity by Candlelight on Amazon U.S. and Amazon U.K.!

Written by Mike Duquette

November 6, 2013 at 11:56

Release Round-Up: Week of November 5

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Bowie The Next Day ExtraDavid Bowie, The Next Day: Extra (ISO/Columbia)

The year’s biggest comeback album is now available as a 2CD/1DVD set featuring B-sides, remixes, unreleased songs and four music videos. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Dylan Complete 2Bob Dylan, The Complete Album Collection Vol. One (Columbia/Legacy)

Dylan’s “official” albums discography from 1962 to 2012 is collected on this 47-disc set, featuring studio and live titles, 14 newly remastered albums and a two-disc compilation of non-LP material.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Collector’s USB (features full discography in 320 kbps MP3/FLAC): Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Jimi Hendrix - Miami PopJimi Hendrix Experience, Miami Pop Festival / Hear My Train A Comin’ (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

A pristine 1968 unreleased performance by the Experience is newly released on CD and LP; video footage from that same performance is on display in a new American Masters documentary, as well.

Miami Pop CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Miami Pop LP:  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Hear My Train DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Hear My Train BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Buck Owens - Buck EmBuck Owens, Buck ‘Em! The Music of Buck Owens 1955-1967 (Omnivore)

Arriving in stores the same day as his posthumous autobiography, this double-disc anthology collects 50 of the Bakersfield giant’s greatest hits and rarities, from several years of solid catalogue projects at the Omnivore label. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Yes - Close to the EdgeYes, Close to the Edge: Deluxe Edition (Panegyric)

The legendary prog album (from a potential Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee) is remixed in stereo and surround by Steven Wilson and expanded with all sorts of audio rarities.

CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
CD/BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

November 5, 2013 at 07:43

Release Round-Up: Week of October 29

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Bananarama EdselBananarama, Deep Sea Skiving Bananarama True Confessions Wow! Pop Life Please Yourself: Deluxe Editions (Edsel)

The pop trio’s London discography gets the royal treatment with these 2CD/1DVD expanded editions featuring loads of rare and unreleased bonus tracks.

Deep Sea Skiving: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
BananaramaAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
True ConfessionsAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Wow!Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Pop LifeAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Please YourselfAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Humble Pie - PerformanceHumble Pie, Performance: Rockin’ The Fillmore – The Complete Recordings (Omnivore)

The landmark 1971 album is expanded into box set form, featuring all four sets at the legendary Fillmore East recorded for the original release. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

JethroTullBenefitcoverart_500Jethro Tull, Benefit: A Collector’s Edition (Chrysalis/Rhino)

Tull’s third album gets newly remixed in stereo and surround by Steven Wilson and newly expanded with rare single and remix material. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

BelfegoreAndy Williams, The Complete Christmas Recordings / Bobby Darin, The 25th Day of December with Bobby Darin / Patti Page, Christmas with Patti Page (Deluxe Edition) / The New Christy Minstrels, The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings / Various Artists, Funky Christmas / Tompall and the Glaser Brothers, Lovin’ Her Was Easier/After All These Years / Belfegore, Belfegore (Deluxe Edition) (Real Gone Music)

Spread some holiday cheer with the latest batch of Real Gone titles, which also includes the incredibly rare sophomore album by German goth/New Wave outfit Belfegore – now expanded with bonus tracks.

Andy Williams: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Bobby Darin: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Patti Page: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The New Christy Minstrels: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Funky ChristmasAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Tompall Glaser: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Belfegore: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Essential James TaylorBoz Scaggs / James Taylor / Wu-Tang Clan, The Essential (Legacy)

The latest in the double-disc hits series includes career-spanning treasuries from Scaggs and Taylor (including the Warner and Columbia years in equal measure) and a new collection from hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan.

Boz: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
JT: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Wu-Tang: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

12%22 Disco CollectionVarious Artists, 12″ Disco: The Collection (Rhino U.K.)

Compiled by the fine folks at Big Break Records, this triple disc set features disco hits and rarities in equal measure, including a few tracks bowing onto CD for the first time. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Sayer boxLeo Sayer, Just a Box: The Complete Studio Recordings 1971-2006 (Edsel)

All of the U.K. hitmaker’s (“You Make Me Feel Like Dancing,” “When I Need You”) studio albums, plus two discs of rarities in this exhaustive set curated by Sayer himself on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his first U.K. hit, “The Show Must Go On.” (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Oh Yes We Can LoveVarious Artists, Oh Yes We Can Love: The History of Glam Rock (Universal U.K.)

A quintuple-disc set exhaustively looks at a half-century of the glam rock genre, digging far beyond the usual hits and influential tracks. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ramones Sire YearsRamones, The Sire Years 1976-1981 (Rhino)

The first six Ramones LPs, albeit without any of the bonus tracks included on previous reissues. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

EAGLES_Vinyl_BoxEagles, The Studio Albums 1972-1979 (LP) (Rhino)

A vinyl box featuring the band’s complete Elektra studio albums. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Release Round-Up: Week of October 15

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Unplugged ExpandedEric Clapton, Unplugged: Expanded and Remastered Edition (Reprise/Rhino)

The guitar god’s ’90s comeback was done on an acoustic. The Grammy-winning, best-selling album and the acclaimed episode of MTV Unplugged from which it was taken are paired up and considerably expanded, more than two decades later. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

King Crimson, The Road to Red (Panegyric)

Holy crumbs, this 21CD/1DVD/2BD set is a massive tribute to King Crimson’s Red album, including new stereo and surround mixes of the album and 16 soundboard-quality live sets in a box that puts the deluxe edition concept in its place. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

Paul Simon Complete packshotPaul Simon, The Complete Albums Collection / Over the Bridge of Time: A Retrospective (1964-2011) (Legacy)

American tunes shine on both this exhaustive box set of Simon’s solo career, featuring expanded editions of all of his studio albums (including the U.K.-only The Paul Simon Song Book from 1964 and both Rhino and Legacy-era bonus tracks on Graceland), as well as the double-live Paul Simon’s Concert in the Park and 2011’s acclaimed So Beautiful or So What. A single-disc compilation boils his career down to its basest elements, from Simon & Garfunkel to the present.

The Complete Albums CollectionAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Over the Bridge of TimeAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

James Booker - ClassifiedJames Booker, Classified: Remixed and Expanded (Rounder)

One of only two releases in the short but incredible lifetime of this New Orleans pianist, the man who mentored Dr. John and Harry Connick, Jr. is the focus of a new documentary – and this, his last proper studio album, is greatly expanded and remixed for a new generation to enjoy.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Ring Ring DeluxeABBA, Ring Ring: Deluxe Edition (Polydor/Universal U.K.)

The legendary dance quartet’s first album gets expanded with a DVD of rare performances and a host of even rarer pre-ABBA songs. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

ZTT Organization of PopVarious Artists, The Organization of Pop: Music from the First Thirty Years of ZTT Records (ZTT/Razor & Tie)

A double-disc compilation – the first in ZTT’s new U.S. distribution deal with Razor & Tie – featuring hits from Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Buggles, The Art of Noise, Seal and more. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Al Hirt - Sound of ChristmasAl Hirt, The Sound of Christmas (Friday Music/Relayer)

The trumpet virtuoso’s 1965 holiday album, expanded and remastered by Friday Music, its first time on CD in over two decades. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Taylor Dayne PlaylistBasia / Deborah Cox / Taylor Dayne / Exposé / Lita Ford / The Jeff Healey Band / The Jimi Hendrix Experience / Incubus / MercyMe / Mobb Deep / The Alan Parsons Project / The Partridge FamilyPlaylist: The Very Best Of (Legacy)

Another wave of the ol’ reliable series from Legacy. Key points: rare original single mixes abound on Basia, Deborah Cox, Taylor Dayne and Exposé’s volumes; Hendrix’s is a converted version of the famed Smash Hits compilation, and Partridge fans will enjoy the first-ever release of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” in stereo. All Amazon U.S. links are posted above!

Deep Purple Rhino boxDeep Purple, The Complete Albums 1970-1976 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

This ten-disc set compiles all of the band’s original Mk. II, Mk. III and Mk. IV-era studio and live albums. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Release Round-Up: Week of October 8

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Tony Bennett - Live at the SaharaTony Bennett, Live At The Sahara: Las Vegas 1964 (RPM/Columbia/Legacy)

Previously exclusive to The Complete Collection box set, Bennett’s first headlining act in Sin City is now available for standalone purchase. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Electricity by Candlelight_ NYC 2_13_97Alex Chilton, Electricity by Candlelight: NYC 2/13/97 (Bar None)

The late Big Star frontman had a talent that not even a power outage at New York’s Knitting Factory could blot out, as this spontaneous, covers-heavy release showcases. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Kinks - Muswell Hillbillies DeluxeThe Kinks, Muswell Hillbillies: Deluxe Edition (Sanctuary)

The Kinks’ ninth album (and first originally recorded for RCA) gets a two-disc reissue worthy of any 20th century man you might know. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Barbra Streisand - Classic ChristmasAlabama/Johnny Cash/Neil Diamond/George Jones & Tammy Wynette/Gladys Knight & The Pips/Martina McBride/Barbra Streisand/Andy Williams, The Classic Christmas Album (Legacy)

Following the success of last year’s wave of mid-priced holiday compilations, another eight are coming to fill your stockings with Christmas cheer.

Alabama: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Johnny Cash: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Neil Diamond: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
George Jones & Tammy Wynette: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Gladys Knight & The Pips: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Martina McBride: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Barbra Streisand: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Andy Williams: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

CBGB SoundtrackVarious Artists, CBGB: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Omnivore)

This 20-track compilation for the new film about the legendary New York club features some of the biggest bands who played that stage, plus a recording by founder Hilly Krystal and a new version of Blondie’s “Sunday Girl.” (Rhino will distribute a digital version in the future with exclusive tracks.)

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Interview: Going Full Circle with Richard Barone of The Bongos

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Phantom TrainRichard Barone, frontman for New Jersey-based power-pop act The Bongos, describes his career as centered around the theme of “full circle.” This year, Barone has revisited a lot of captivating and familiar territory from his lengthy career.

The Bongos were the closing act at legendary Hoboken club Maxwell’s in July, having (as members of the band “a”) been the venue’s first act. Onstage, they announced the release of a “lost” Bongos album, Phantom Train, recorded primarily at Compass Point Studios with producer Eric “E.T.” Thorngren in 1986 but unreleased until this week. The album was released by the reactivated Jem Recordings, whose founder, Marty Scott, first distributed the band in the United States through the original Jem’s PVC label. (Jem also released this week physical CD reissues of Barone’s acclaimed 1987 solo debut Cool Blue Halo and a 2CD/1DVD concert/documentary celebrating the 25th anniversary of that album in 2012 – all of which was a real treat for Barone, whose birthday was the same day as the October 1 release date.)

Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to Richard about Phantom Train as well as his storied past, present and future in the business. I hope you enjoy it, and heartily recommend giving Phantom Train a spin. It’s a killer pop record from the past that doesn’t require a time machine to enjoy.

Before Phantom Train, The Bongos spent time on both an independent label (U.K. based Fetish Records, distributed in the U.S. by Jem’s PVC label), and later signed to RCA.

It seemed like a long time at the time. We signed with RCA in 1982 and stayed with them for about three years. During that time we recorded two albums and toured constantly – 300 shows a year. It seemed like a decade!

What was the major label experience like, compared to being independent?

Oh, it was all good. I’m an indie person, and if you look at my catalogue, you’ll see I bounce back and forth between majors and indies. There’s a best of both somewhere in there – I like working with labels that have a huge team, so you can really reach all over the country. There’s benefits to both, and I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to experience both kinds of labels. My students [Barone teaches at New York University] are just breaking into the industry, and I’m able to share a lot of experiences on both sides of that coin.

The indie scene is fantastic, I love it and support it in every way, but it’s also a vortex. You start thinking in small terms, but music can be very widespread. You can really reach a lot of people with your music. So it’s kind of good to apply what the majors do and play their game, but on a scale that puts you in control.

Phantom Train was recorded at Compass Point Studios, owned by Chris Blackwell. Were you near a deal with Island instead?

We were never signed to Island. It came out of friendships and associations that you build along the way. The Bongos are very spontaneous guys, still. Someone said, “Oh, you should go to Compass Point and record.” We’d just come off a tour, and it sounded like a great idea. But there was nothing on paper. There was no formal arrangement.

Tell us a little bit about the album.

Phantom Train is my favorite of our albums, in a few ways. We were just experimenting and were able to do whatever we wanted without any kind of restraints. We wanted to just play music in great studios.

It’s the only album where we recorded songs many different ways. We give fans a taste of that with “My Wildest Dreams” beginning and ending the album two different ways. We labeled the last one “demo” for indexing purposes, but it really was a different take on the song. The hardest thing about putting this together now was to choose which versions are on the album. It was very diverse.

We were experimenting with different tape formats. We of course did 24 and 48-track, but we really also liked the sound of eight-track tape. Songs like “Run to the Wild” and “I Belong to Me,” those were done on eight-track.

We spent the summer at Shelter Island going through all these tapes. They all had to be baked, and there were hundred of takes on these tapes. Maybe about 30 or 40 reels of tape. But it all came together – I think it might be our most consistent record.

There’s more from Richard after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 3, 2013 at 15:24