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A Fantasmagorical Second Disc Interview! Bruce Kimmel Talks New, Expanded 2-CD “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”

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When Richard M. Sherman introduces his Academy Award-nominated song “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in concert, he often has to remind his audience that the film of the same name wasn’t a Walt Disney production.  Producer Albert R. Broccoli, best-known for the James Bond series of films, signed Richard and his brother Robert M. Sherman for their very first film score outside of the Disney sphere.  Like the Bond films, United Artists’ Chitty was based on the writing of Ian Fleming.  For Fleming’s story of a most fantasmagorical flying car, “Cubby” Broccoli envisioned an extravaganza that could even top Disney’s 1964 Mary Poppins.  With something of a “James Bond-Meets-Mary Poppins” mindset, Broccoli enlisted heavy hitters from Disney’s 1964 classic: the Sherman Brothers, musical director/arranger Irwin Kostal, choreographers Dee Dee Wood and Marc Breaux, and pivotally, star Dick Van Dyke in the central role of Caractacus Potts.  From the world of 007, the producer brought aboard production designer Ken Adam and cast members such as Desmond Llewellyn and Goldfinger himself, Gert Frobe.  Beloved children’s author Roald Dahl was tapped for the screenplay.  Though the big-budget film didn’t match the success of Poppins at the time of its release in 1968, it’s as beloved today as many of Disney’s best films.

The profiles of both Richard and Robert Sherman and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang itself have been high in recent years.  The musical stage adaptation of the movie (with additional songs penned by the brothers) concluded runs in both London and New York.  The Shermans were the subjects of 2010’s acclaimed documentary The Boys, and Chitty was released on Blu-Ray the same year.  In May of this year, Richard Sherman took the stage at the Walt Disney World Resort to perform the title song to Chitty for the crowds at the Destination D convention held by the Walt Disney Company fan community, D23.  It sat comfortably alongside his Disney songbook.  At Anaheim, California’s D23 Expo in August, Van Dyke performed both “Chitty” and “Me Ol’ Bam-Boo” with Sherman beaming from the audience.  Of course, nobody minded that the film isn’t actually a Walt Disney movie!  Now, thanks to the efforts of producer Bruce Kimmel and Richard Sherman himself, another jewel is being added to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s considerable crown.

Hot on the heels of the Kritzerland label’s landmark 100th release, Kimmel today announced a Very Very Special Special Edition release as No. 101, and the producer isn’t one known for hyperbole.  Kritzerland’s remastered and expanded Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will pack a wealth of unreleased and new-to-CD material over two compact discs in a limited edition of 1,200 copies:

  • The original soundtrack recording, remastered from the first generation album master and expanded by the film’s Entr’acte, original Main Title (with sound effects) and film mix of the Exit Music;
  • The Leroy Holmes-conducted Song and Picture Book album released concurrently with the soundtrack, featuring Richard M. Sherman himself on vocals, opposite Lola Fisher;
  • Richard M. Sherman’s original demo recordings; and
  • Several of the mono playback tracks utilized by the cast to lip-synch on set, including another version of the title song (with quite a long instrumental), an instrumental called “The Vulgarian Anthem,” an instrumental of the “Chu-Chi Face” waltz, and a bit of the “Doll On A Music Box” not included on the original LP.
  • The first 100 copies ordered at Kritzerland will be signed by Richard M. Sherman!

That means you’ll hear multiple versions of Sherman classics sung by a cast including Dick Van Dyke (Caractacus Potts), Sally Ann Howes (Truly Scrumptious) and Lionel Jeffries (Grandpa Potts).  The memorable songs include the showstopping “Me Ol’ Bamboo,” charming “Truly Scrumptious,” delightful “Toot Sweets” and haunting lullaby “Hushabye Mountain.”  That’s not even mentioning the title melody, which like Fleming’s onomatopoeia, was inspired by the actual sounds of a sputtering car.  The songwriters added “fantasmagorical” to the lexicon, one in a long line of uniquely Sherman words like “fortuosity,” “gratifaction,” and of course, “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”  (Not to mention phrases like “substitutiary locomotion,” “protocoligorically correct” and the wizard Merlin’s favorite exclamation, “Higitus Figitus!”)

Just prior to the release of this fantastic and comprehensive 2-CD set, available now from the label at a special single-disc price, Kimmel spoke to The Second Disc about the process of assembling his labor of love.  Hit the jump for the complete interview! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 24, 2011 at 11:04

The Second Disc Interview: Talking with Ben Folds

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Leave it to Todd Rundgren to spot The Difference.  Hosting a 1995 episode of the late Philadelphia-based radio program of that name, Rundgren interviewed Ben Folds, “fronting his trio, The Ben Folds Five.  Go figure,” the pop icon dryly noted.  Reflecting on the experience sixteen years later, Folds recalled with typical candor the moment when Rundgren spotted the difference in the young musician.   It was “fucking surreal…He said ‘you have a distinct voice.’  And I thought, ‘really?  I think I sound like you, I think I sound like Elton, I think I sound like Joe Jackson…so, thank you!’  That was a really nice thing to hear out of someone who I think does have [a distinct voice]!”  The singer, songwriter, pianist, producer, television personality, and multi-instrumentalist has been making waves with that distinct voice since the 1995 release of Ben Folds Five’s self-titled debut.   With his first-ever career-spanning anthology The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective arriving on October 11 from Epic, and NBC’s The Sing-Off gearing up for its third season (which premieres tonight) with Folds as a judge, the prolific artist took time out of his busy schedule to chat with The Second Disc’s Joe Marchese about past, present and future.

Best Imitation of Himself

Folds, 45, “had no idea it would be such a process” to assemble the truly comprehensive collection he had planned for both diehard fans and new listeners alike.  “There was a lot to consider,” Folds begins.  “The main disc is really for the uninitiated.”  And after a pause, he continues, “I suppose I’ve stuck around long enough where the equivalent to me as a consumer might be, say, Graham Parker.  I’m aware of his name, I know friends who respect what he does, he was around for a long time, and at some point I picked up a disc that encompassed everything.  As a newcomer, you appreciate the old and the new stuff without bias.”  That lack of bias from new and potential fans led Folds to sprinkle some personal favorites among more familiar songs on the eclectic 18-track “best of” disc.   It was important to him to create “a full, equal representation of all phases of my career and what I felt resonated about that time period, like there [is] a song on there, ‘Still’ [written for the 2006 film Over the Hedge].  Not the most popular song, never gets requested, no reason to put it on there other than that, at that time in my life, I think it’s the best that I did.  Maybe it will never come around, but maybe in years, maybe people will hear.  I always felt there’s really something to that song.  It’s like that.”

That main disc of Best Imitation will be available as a stand-alone release and also as the first disc of a deluxe three-CD edition.   Folds crafted something very special for those second and third discs.  He explains, “There’s a live disc and a rarities disc and as we discovered more and more and more and weeded out, it was a really heavy process.  I would find something that was competitive or better or in some way illuminates something about the song that the studio version didn’t.  I would take the studio version off the main disc and use the alternate version on the second or third disc.  A lot of stuff got changed in that way and had an effect on the main disc.” 

Folds is understandably proud of the new material finally seeing the light of day.  One song, “Rock Star,” had previously been released in a very different version on the 2003 EP Sunny 16.  In digging through the archives and finding his long-unheard demo, he came to a realization.  “One thing I was struck by was that the version I arrived at for the EP that was released was just a real underwhelming track, and I’d never thought about the song anymore after that.  To hear my head space upon the impulse of the song before it was even really finished, that’s so much more powerful.  I think the song is lyrically, a really, really interesting song.  It sure wasn’t when it was released,” he offers candidly.  “I don’t know what happened by the time I kind of finished it; it wasn’t as good.  I think it’s a really good reason to look back at these things because all artists ought to be honest about these sorts of things so they can make the right decisions in the future.”  Both melodically and lyrically, Folds takes evident pride in the reworked “Rock Star.”  But that’s not all.  He soon discovered that he had much more to offer: “duplicates, triplicates of songs.”

The ’55’ Digital Vault: No “Sub-Par Shit”

There was so much, in fact, that a first-of-its-kind, 55-track digital vault will supplement Best Imitation of Myself.  “It’s a natural place to put the more obscure, rare third-tier stuff,” he asserts, keenly aware of how he’s resonated with a generation raised on the Internet.  “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.”

We’ve got much, much more with Ben Folds waiting for you, including the scoop on what’s next from Ben Folds Five!  Just hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 19, 2011 at 10:34

Make Me Wanna Holler: A Chat with Harry Weinger on “What’s Going On” (Part 2)

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The wait is over. We continue our discussion of Marvin Gaye’s classic What’s Going On, to be released as a super-deluxe edition on June 7, with reissue producer Harry Weinger. In this portion of the discussion, Weinger touches on the always-hot topic of remastering the source material, a thought on super-deluxe box sets, and future projects to honor both Gaye’s legacy and other Motown greats.

Read on after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 23, 2011 at 21:15

“I Just Wanna Ask a Question”: Harry Weinger on the “What’s Going On” Box Set

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For most music producers, there’s a kind of strangeness to working on multiple reissues of the same classic album over time. Not so for Harry Weinger, vice-president of A&R at Universal Music Enterprises and, as one of UMe’s resident Motown gurus, the producer of several deluxe editions of Marvin Gaye’s classic LPs, including What’s Going On. “You learn between anniversaries,” Weinger said. “And luckily, I was there for both of them.”

When What’s Going On became one of Universal’s first in a then-new series of Deluxe Editions – now iconic for their double-sized digipacks with silver slipcases, boasting an extra disc or more of bonus musical material – it set a precedent for how all deluxe reissues should work. That set, released in 2001, contained roughly three versions of the album – the original, beloved mix as finalized under Gaye’s watch in West Hollywood’s Sound Factory; an unreleased alternate mix commissioned in Detroit without Gaye and a triumphant 1972 live show at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center, Gaye’s first live performance since the death of duet partner Tammi Terrell – not to mention three rare single versions and a demo of a track that would end up on Gaye’s next album, Let’s Get It On.

With that kind of bonus content, many fans’ eyebrows were raised when a 40th anniversary package was announced for release in May (now scheduled for June 7), boasting 11 unreleased bonus tracks among a raft of other session material that’s seen release on other packages. But Weinger had indeed learned a lot about Gaye’s sublime, densely-packed musical statement since overseeing its reissue a decade ago. And this time, he sought to capture a fuller picture of Gaye’s frame of mind in which the album came to be.

As the release of the new set approaches, Weinger took the time to provide a lengthy and enlightening commentary on his journey through the What’s Going On era and some of the special facets that set this package apart from previous ones. What follows is the first of two segments of Harry’s discussion with me. It was anything but a traditional Q&A session; one question posed to the producer can easily split off into several discussions covering more questions you might not have realized you had. It is presented in chronological order, with minimal editing for clarity.

Join us after the jump to hear Harry Weinger’s thoughts on the album, its production and the challenges of another reissue of What’s Going On – as only he can answer them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

May 19, 2011 at 18:53

The Second Disc Interview #4: Talking Soundtracks with MV Gerhard of La La Land Records

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The wide berth of reissues, box sets and compilations across major and independent labels the world over, means some releases can fall through the cracks at times. At The Second Disc, it was always an early mission to make sure the labels handling catalogue soundtrack reissues did not suffer this fate. Intrada, Film Score Monthly, Kritzerland, Varese Sarabande – all are essentials for the catalogue music fan with a taste for soundtracks, and their work is hard to ignore.

La La Land Records, however, may have been one of the brightest spots in the soundtrack world this past year. The Burbank label, in business since 2002, scored an impressive amount of blockbuster film soundtrack releases in the past year. Releases included scores to blockbusters like Caddyshack, Independence Day, The Poseidon Adventure, Home Alone and Batman as well as hit television titles like Days of Our Lives, the remake of Battlestar Galactica, Dead Like MeHuman Target and others. And the new year is shaping up to be another successful one, with two box sets on their way – a first for the label – one devoted to the Medal of Honor game series and the other devoted to The X-Files.

MV Gerhard, the president and co-owner of the label, shows no signs of slowdown. And despite this, he was able to take time out of his very busy schedule to correspond with The Second Disc via e-mail on what it’s like being part of a soundtrack reissue label, the high points of his work and what’s to come. Our deepest thanks to MV for answering The Second Disc’s burning questions, and may all of La La Land’s future efforts be met with continued success!

Read on after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

February 3, 2011 at 11:30

The Second Disc Artist Interview #1: Mr. Richard Page on “Pull”

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By any standards, Richard Page would have a lot to be thankful for as the frontman of Mr. Mister, the band behind chart-topping smash hits “Broken Wings” and “Kyrie.” This year, however, there’s another part of his career to celebrate: after two decades, Pull, the intended fourth album from the band, is coming out of hiding thanks to the fine folks at Legacy Recordings. Granted, Page wears more than just the face of Mr. Mister.  As a noted songwriter for Madonna (“I’ll Remember,” her 1994 hit from the film With Honors), and a recent member of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, Page is a multifaceted artist who continues to record on his own label, Little Dume Recordings. (His latest album, this year’s Peculiar Life, is very much worth checking out.)

Today, The Second Disc has the immense pleasure of bringing you an interview with Page. He discusses the long and winding road that was Pull, from recording to release, offers his thoughts on the industry and considers the future of the Misters.

Read more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 8, 2010 at 17:50

The Second Disc Interview #3: What’s Happening “Now” with Steve Stanley!

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The music may be then, but the place to be is undoubtedly Now.

By that, of course, I mean Now Sounds. Launched in 2007 by Steve Stanley, the producer of over 50 titles for the Rev-Ola label, Now Sounds celebrates the rich and varied melodies created between 1964 and 1972, though the label isn’t limited to that period. A labor of love for its founder, Now Sounds has established itself as the go-to label for fans of this golden era of both songwriting and record production.

We’ve seen a career anthology from the Wondermints, and reissues from familiar artists like Dion, The Association, Gary Lewis, and The Cowsills. Now Sounds has also unearthed gems from the likes of Tina Mason, the Tuneful Trolley and Jamme, produced by “Papa” John Phillips. This week, the label releases its expanded edition of Paul Williams’ sunshine pop classic Someday Man. The 1970 album, with a title track familiar to many Monkees fans, is one of the gold standards of pop songwriting and polished production, with both duties performed by Williams and Roger Nichols. Stanley’s much-anticipated reissue doubles the length of the original LP, and continues the label’s fruitful relationship with Williams and Nichols. (Fine complements to Someday Man are the similarly-expanded edition for Williams’ early band The Holy Mackerel, and the return of Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends with the group’s Full Circle set.)

The Second Disc couldn’t be more pleased to talk shop with Steve Stanley of Now Sounds! Dig the photo of Steve with legendary musical wunderkind Emitt Rhodes, and after the jump, join us where Steve candidly offers his thoughts on the rewards and challenges of releasing catalogue music in today’s fractured music business. He also gives some scoops about what’s next for Now Sounds. And after you’re done reading and find yourself waiting for your copy of Someday Man to arrive? Remember to tune in every Monday to from 6 pm to 8 pm PST to hear Steve’s radio program, The Now Sounds. You’ll be thanking me later! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 26, 2010 at 12:31

Posted in Features, Interviews, News, Reissues

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Coming Tomorrow: Now That’s What We Call Now Sounds!

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If you’ve been enjoying Joe Marchese’s very stellar contributions to The Second Disc (and who hasn’t, really?) you’re going to want to pull up a chair tomorrow. Joe’s got what promises to be a great interview with Steve Stanley of the Now Sounds label.

The Cherry Red-owned label has got a jam-packed reissue of Paul Williams’ Someday Man (1970) due out this week, and they’ve had a lot of killer product this year, including the great compilation Book a Trip: The Psych Pop Sounds of Capitol Records.

Expect a great interview with a great producer in time for tomorrow’s lunch, only on The Second Disc!

Written by Mike Duquette

October 25, 2010 at 13:12

The Second Disc Interview #2: From Hollywood, It’s Bruce Kimmel!

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Producer, director, writer, actor, composer, lyricist, raconteur – any and all of those words could be used to describe Bruce Kimmel. After helping to launch the Varese Sarabande label over thirty years ago and christening its still-ongoing soundtrack series with his score to The First Nudie Musical (which he also wrote, co-directed and acted in), Kimmel founded the Bay Cities label. Between 1989 and 1993, he and his Bay Cities colleagues were among the very first to reissue classic film soundtracks and original cast recordings on CD. Their small label soon got the attention of the majors, many of which began reissue campaigns of their own. Kimmel found himself back at Varese Sarabande, producing a great number of original albums and scoring two Grammy nominations in the process.

Now, as the man behind the Kritzerland label, Kimmel is responsible for some of the most-talked about recent reissues from both Hollywood and Broadway. Most of Kritzerland’s limited edition releases have been near-instant sellouts, from the acclaimed, expanded Promises, Promises cast recording to definitive reissues of film scores by Elmer Bernstein, Alex North, Bernard Herrmann and Andre Previn, just to name a few. Kimmel has also recently authored his latest book, a memoir entitled There’s Mel, There’s Woody, and There’s You: My Life in the Slow Lane.

He took time out of his busy schedule to chat with The Second Disc about the past, present and future of the catalogue music world, touching on mastering, distribution and much more. We couldn’t be more proud to present an interview with one of the pioneers of the field. Hit the jump to read Kimmel’s illuminating and always entertaining thoughts on where the industry’s been, where it’s heading, and what’s coming next from Kritzerland. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 4, 2010 at 12:00

Coming Tomorrow: Adventures in Kritzerland!

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A most excellent heads-up to readers of The Second Disc: at noon tomorrow we’ll be posting our second interview. This one’s done by our very own Joe Marchese, and will feature a dialogue with Bruce Kimmel. The longtime record producer/writer/director known in some circles for his catalogue work through the Kritzerland label (and in others for cult classics like The First Nudie Musical!) will chat with us about his work, past, present and future. It should be a good read, and it’ll be here in less than 24 hours!

Written by Mike Duquette

August 3, 2010 at 12:32