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Archive for the ‘Guns N’ Roses’ Category

Reissue Theory: Queen, “The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. On an iconic rock star’s birthday, we hope for a concert celebrating his life and work to make it onto CD someday.

On this day, 66 years ago, Farrokh Bulsara was born in Zanzibar. The world would, of course, know him by another name: Freddie Mercury, the iconoclastic frontman for the British hard rock band Queen. Between 1973 and 1991, the band’s idiosyncratic sense of vocal and guitar harmonies, affinity for baroque pop melodies and penchant for studio trickery had earned them a devoted following worldwide. Even as the band moved into the ’80s and adapted both New Wave stylings and MTV-ready visuals to suit their needs, the crowds still went wild; one needs only to watch Mercury’s command performances with Queen at Live Aid in 1985 and London’s Wembley Stadium the following year to understand why.

Of course, we all know the story of Mercury’s has a tragic ending. In 1991, literally hours after announcing his long-hidden battle with AIDS, Mercury would succumb to complications from the disease. Freddie’s life was one of many at the time rightly memorialized to raise awareness and money for AIDS research. Twenty years ago, Freddie bandmates, guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor, united to fight AIDS the best way they could: through rock music. A concert held at Wembley on April 20, 1992 attracted some 72,000 attendees and, thanks to simultaneous live television and radio broadcasts, a worldwide audience of some 1 billion. Mercury’s showman spirit was celebrated by fellow rock gods and contemporaries who guested with Queen during the show, including members of Guns N’ Roses, Extreme, Metallica, Black Sabbath and appearances by David Bowie, Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant and George Michael. All profits from the concert founded The Mercury Phoenix Trust, an AIDS charity still active to this day.

Mercury’s life has been well-celebrated in recent years. This year alone – after a 2011 that saw a flurry of catalogue activity – Island reissued a greatly-expanded edition of Mercury and Montserrat Caballe’s Barcelona this week, with a new Mercury documentary, The Great Pretender, due out on DVD this month and a live Queen show from Hungary being screened theatrically as well. (Mercury even made the transformation to Angry Bird as part of this week’s “Freddie for a Day” event.)

But through all the catalogue celebration, it’s surprising that the landmark concert itself has never been released on CD. We explore further after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 5, 2012 at 16:23

Reissue Theory: Guns N’ Roses, “Appetite for Destruction: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Now that they’re safely ensconced in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s time to imagine a deluxe edition of Guns N’ Roses’ landmark debut album – and we think we made up a pretty good list.

It’s safe to say the door has finally, unquestionably closed on the classic Guns N’ Roses lineup as of this weekend, when the legendary California hard-rockers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Original members Slash, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler, as well as Use Your Illusion-era members Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke, took to the stage to perform some of their biggest hits for an enthusiastic crowd. (The other two founding members, Izzy Stradlin and W. Axl Rose, did not attend, with vocalist Rose writing a strong but somewhat-measured letter declining his honor.)

Of course, Rose has been shedding original GN’R members since the mid-’90s, and had lost all of them by 1997. And since 1993’s covers album The Spaghetti Incident? there’s only been one album of Guns material: the long-gestating, semi-passable Chinese Democracy (2008). But no matter your opinion on the mercurial frontman’s stance on the Rock Hall induction, it is near impossible to deny that when Guns N’ Roses are good – regardless of whatever drama surrounds them – they’re damned good.

And, as late ’80s rock albums and certainly debut albums go, Appetite for Destruction ranks deservedly high on the list.

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Written by Mike Duquette

April 16, 2012 at 12:34

Posted in Features, Guns N' Roses, Reissues

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Short Takes: Paul is Digital, New Rock Hall Class, Rush Box Issues, The Cure Make “Wish” for 2012

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  • Paul McCartney is not dead, but he is digital: a new beta version of his website, developed with Hewlett-Packard, brings his solo catalogue to fans through a cloud service, along with a host of interactive features. Fans can stream all of his studio albums (including collaboration projects like The Fireman and Twin Freaks) through a jukebox, and premium members can download that jukebox as a desktop app. Additionally, a new “Rude Studio” section of his site allows fans to play and mix three-track stems of some of his greatest hits. Conspicuously absent is the bonus material from any of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection reissues. (Due credit to Super Deluxe Edition for their reportage.)
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees for 2012 have been announced. The Beastie Boys, Donovan, Guns N’ Roses, Laura Nyro, The Small Faces/Faces and The Red Hot Chili Peppers were rewarded in the performer category, Freddie King will be inducted as an early influence, the Ahmet Ertegun (nonperformer) award will go to Don Kirshner and the Awards for Musical Excellence go to producer Tom Dowd and engineers Cosimo Matassa and Glyn Johns. A hearty congratulations to all those recognized.
  • Rush have announced that production flaws exist on two of the three recently-released Sectors box sets. Fans have noted problems with Fly By Night (1975) in the Sector 1 box and the DVD version of A Farewell to Kings (1977) in Sector 2. A disc replacement program will be implemented shortly, per the band. (Thanks to Ultimate Classic Rock for the tip.)
  • Tuesday was grey (and Wednesday too) at Second Disc HQ, but it’s brightened with the news of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame non-inductees The Cure reissuing hit single “Friday I’m in Love” next year for Record Store Day and the Teenage Cancer Trust. The single, which you – yes, you – could design the cover art for – also looks to be a tie-in for a reissue of the album it came from, 1992’s Wish, for its 20th anniversary, so there’s another expansion we can look forward to in the coming year. (Hat tips abound to Slicing Up Eyeballs for this one.)

Written by Mike Duquette

December 7, 2011 at 15:40

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 8 (#65-61)

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We continue our look at the many reissues of the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003! We’ll explore the various versions of these classic albums on disc, letting you know which audio treasures can be found on which releases. It’s a marvelous night for a “Moondance” before we go “Back to Mono,” roll with the Stones and then take in latter-day classics from the 1980s and 1990s!

65. Moondance, Van Morrison (Warner Bros., 1970)

Van Morrison’s 1968 Warner Bros. debut, Astral Weeks, was a creation like no other, blending rock, jazz, folk and classical styles into a nearly indescribable tour de force.  With only eight tracks, some of them quite lengthy, Astral Weeks indicated that a major new player had arrived on the music scene.  He didn’t disappoint with 1970’s Moondance, although the album was every bit as light as Astral Weeks was bleak, and every bit as commercial as Astral Weeks was esoteric.

The soulful, jazzy title track has become a modern standard, although it wasn’t released as a single until 1977 (!) when it barely eked into the Hot 100.  “Come Running,” the original selection for a single, did manage to crack the Top 40 while the album itself managed a respectable No. 39 chart placement.  “Crazy Love” has also received its share of cover versions over the years (recently by neo-pop crooner Michael Buble) while “Into the Mystic” could be the Irish rocker’s ultimate statement.  Morrison’s ode to the power of radio, “Caravan,” is no less powerful, while album opener “And It Stoned Me” is a fan favorite to this day.

Morrison and Warner Bros. Records have reportedly been unable to come to terms over the years for a reissue of Moondance.  A bare-bones CD (Warner Bros. 3103) remains in print to this day.  A 2008 Japanese edition (Warner Japan WPCR-75420) boasted of first-ever remastering for the title, though it wasn’t made available elsewhere.  Moondance has, of course, been reissued on vinyl, and fans of the iconoclastic artist still hold out hope that an expanded, remastered Moondance will one day come to light.

64. Various Artists, Phil Spector: Back to Mono 1958-1969 (ABKCO, 1991)

I wrote of Legacy’s 2011 Phil Spector: The Philles Album Collection:

Whoa-oh, a-whoa-oh-oh-oh!

Think of The Ronettes’ wail, every bit as iconic a cry as a-whop-bop-a-loo-a-whop-bam-boom.  Doesn’t rock and roll have a way of elevating onomatopoeia to poetry?  And no label made sweeter poetry in the first half of the 1960s than Philles Records.  The voices of Ronnie Spector, Darlene Love, La La Brooks, Barbara Alston and the rest spoke directly to America’s teenagers.  These women, alternately vulnerable and defiant, were little more than girls when they began putting their voices to the “little symphonies” being crafted by producer Phil Spector and his house arrangers, most notably Jack Nitzsche.  Tom Wolfe once famously deemed Spector “America’s first teen-age tycoon.”  Why?  Spector recognized the paradigm shift in the late 1950s, when teenagers began accruing disposable income and exercising newfound spending power.  He tapped into uncharted territory.  Cole Porter and Irving Berlin weren’t writing songs about teenagers.  Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil were.  Like Spector, they were barely out of their teen years themselves.  The songs they created at Philles remain both of a distinct time, and timeless.

Those timeless recordings were first compiled for the CD era by Allen Klein’s ABKCO Records for the 1991 box set Back to Mono (7118-2).  The set brought together Spector’s earliest productions for The Teddy Bears, The Paris Sisters and Gene Pitney as well as his Philles heyday of The Ronettes, The Crystals and the Righteous Brothers, and concluded with his post-Philles productions for Ike and Tina Turner and Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd.  A number of rare tracks were released for the first time on Back to Mono, and the original A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector was included in its entirety.  Since acquiring the Spector catalogue, Legacy has released one impressive albums box set as well as five compilation discs, with hopefully more to come, such as a definitive singles collection.  But the original, now out-of-print Back to Mono remains one of the most impressive box sets of all time, and a reminder of a time when thunderous “little symphonies for the kiddies” ruled the AM airwaves.

You might want to hit the jump now, but be forewarned: your fingers might get Sticky! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 7, 2011 at 14:18

Rumor Alert: Does Axl Think “Better” of “Democracy”?

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It goes without saying that Chinese Democracy has one of the most bizarre histories behind any album in rock and roll history. While most expected Guns N’ Roses to dissolve in the 1990s after nearly all of its members left or were ejected from the band, lead singer and solo original member Axl Rose was insistent that the band’s next album would come out. He remained insistent at various intervals between 1999 and the album’s eventual release in 2008, by which point the band lineup shifted around him, the band dabbled in industrial music and awkward comeback attempts on MTV, and fans shook their heads while reading The New York Times and drinking Dr. Pepper.

So Chinese Democracy has come and gone, and Axl and friends (what? do you call that GN’R?) have sporadically hit the road in support of the not-as-awful-as-you’d-think-but-nowhere-near-Appetite for Destruction LP. What’s next? Does anyone know or care? One person says he does, and the results are two ridiculous not to post here.

Mister Saint Laurent, a singer/songwriter/professional wrestler by trade (I swear I’m not making this up), posted on his official message board a claim to have received documents outlining another step in GN’R’s comeback attempt, including “a very thorough and dedicated plan to re-market Chinese Democracy in the U.S. later this year”:

A full North American arena tour and Best Buy-exclusive reissue of Chinese Democracy would both launch on March 29. The tour would run through May 17 and hit 30 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale, Boston, Detroit, Toronto, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Tampa, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Denver, San Jose, Calgary, Winnipeg, Omaha and Houston.

The album reissue would contain new artwork and a second disc containing bonus material. In addition to remixes of tracks from the album, the bonus disc would contain a new song “Blood in the Water” as well as a new version of “Better” featuring DJ Ashba, which would serve as the radio single for the reissue.

All of this would be announced February 7, with a secret show the day before the Super Bowl (February 5) at The Lodge in Dallas. Yet, it’s February 2 and those in the GN’R camp that were willing to speak to mistersaintlaurent.com insist they have not received any airfare or itinerary.

Now, why should one even consider such a theory? Really, there’s no reason you should. But the crazy thing is that Mister Saint Laurent has been mired in Chinese Democracy-oriented controversies for years. Since 2007, Laurent has been an alleged leaker of tracks and demos from the album. The facts don’t add up – I can’t see Best Buy agreeing to more copies of an album they already can’t get rid of – but who knows? Of course, this is all to be taken with a heap of salt, but I wonder how many of our readers would consider a reissue of Chinese Democracy if it existed.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 3, 2011 at 09:32