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Feed Your Head: Morello Label Revisits Grace Slick’s “Dreams”

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Grace Slick - DreamsGrace Slick certainly made waves in 1998 when she proclaimed to VH1 that “all rock ‘n’ rollers over the age of 50 look stupid and should retire.”  Ten years later, she reiterated her feelings to ABC News, commenting, “It’s sad somehow when you watch people who are doing things that my daughter calls ‘age inappropriate.’”  So even as many of her contemporaries are still rockin’ into their seventies, the now-73 year old Slick has been painting and enjoying her retirement from music.  Luckily, Slick left plenty of music behind.  In the steady stream of reissues from her Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Starship periods, however, Slick’s four-title solo catalogue is often overlooked.  Cherry Red’s Morello label is rectifying that with a reissue of her 1980 RCA solo album Dreams.

Recorded in 1979 with producer Ron Frangipane, Dreams arrived during Slick’s hiatus from Jefferson Starship.  She had departed the band following 1978’s Earth and sat out for 1979’s Freedom at Point Zero before returning to the Jefferson fold for 1981’s Modern Times.  Dreams marked a return to solo recording for the striking singer; her only previous solo LP had come in 1974 with Manhole.  Whereas that album featured Jefferson Airplane/Starship bandmates and associates like Paul Kantner, Jack Casady, John Barbata, Craig Chaquico, Pete Sears David Freiberg and Peter Kaukonen, Dreams was recorded outside of their sphere of influence with Frangipane producing and arranging, and Scott ZIto as Slick’s “right hand man.”

Released in March 1980, the Grammy-nominated Dreams was the most successful of Slick’s four solo records.  It charted at No. 32 in the U.S. and No. 28 in Great Britain.  The single “Seasons” was released in the U.S. to promote Dreams; in the U.K. the choice was title song “Dreams.”  The U.S. A-side (which reached No. 95 on the Billboard chart) was composed by Slick, who wrote five of the album’s nine tracks.   “Dreams” was written by Sean Delaney, who also participated in solo recordings by KISS’ Gene Simmons and Peter Criss, and first appeared on Delaney’s 1979 album Highway.  Zito, who would go on to compose all of the music for Slick’s next solo effort in 1981, wrote two songs on Dreams: “Face to the Wind” and “Angel of Night.”  Rounding out the album’s line-up, Gary Gegan was tapped for the flamenco-styled “El Diablo.”  Stylistically the album was quite varied, with Slick also touching on psychedelia and rock, and experimenting with orchestration (provided by Frangipane) on some cuts.

After the jump, we have more details plus the full track listing and order links!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 26, 2013 at 11:43

More “Essentials” Arrive From Jefferson Airplane and Starship, Martina, Run-D.M.C., Incubus

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Tomorrow might be Halloween, but there’s nothing scary about Legacy Recordings’ four latest additions to the Essential series roster!  Today sees the release of career-spanning anthologies from a diverse group of artists: alt-metal rockers Incubus, hip-hop pioneers Run-D.M.C., country queen Martina McBride and ever-evolving Bay Area legends Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship/Starship!  All of these double-CD anthologies combine familiar hit singles, album tracks and rarities to create what might become the definitive surveys of each artist’s career.

The Essential Incubus follows Legacy’s issue earlier this year of Incubus HQ Live, preserving a string of live performances from the summer of 2011.  For that release, frontman Brandon Boyd ruminated on Incubus’ career as “twenty years, seven albums, multiple live albums, EPs, DVDs, somewhere in the ballpark of 1,500 live shows and an etcetera stint that would go on for a paragraph.” Well, the band’s full C.V. is reflected on The Essential, its 28 alt-metal tracks blending alternative rock, metal, funk, rap, hip-hop, techno and even jazz (and everything in between).  Every one of the band’s sixteen Billboard Mainstream Rock and Modern Rock chart hits are present on the new compilation, including the four songs which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart: “Drive,” “Megalomaniac,” “Anna Molly” and “Love Hurts.”  All songs have been remastered.  The Essential Incubus makes a fine companion to 2009’s Monuments and Melodies and includes new liner notes from Gary Graff.

Run-D.M.C. is still regarded today as one of the most influential groups in rap and hip-hop.  The Essential Run-D.M.C. spans the period between 1983 and 2001, one year before Jam Master Jay was murdered and the group disbanded.  Legacy’s 29-track anthology celebrates the group with selections from seven albums, one expanded reissue, and even a various-artists anthology.  The first rap group to earn RIAA platinum and multi-platinum albums and MTV’s choice for The Greatest Hip-Hop Group of All Time, Run-D.M.C. made an impression on the national consciousness with 1986’s Aerosmith collaboration “Walk This Way” and again in 1987 with “Christmas in Hollis,” immortalized in the film Die Hard.  Noah Uman has produced the new compilation, and authorized biographer Bill Adler provides new liner notes.

After the jump: Martina McBride and the Jefferson Airplane family take off – plus complete track listings and pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 30, 2012 at 13:01

Happy Together: “Sunset Strip to Haight-Ashbury” Features Jefferson Airplane, Mamas and the Papas, Turtles, Love and More

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John and Michy were gettin’ kind of itchy/Just to leave the folk music behind/Zal and Denny workin’ for a penny /Tryin’ to get a fish on the line..

Those lyrics from The Mamas and the Papas’ 1967 “Creeque Alley” begin to tell the story of the famous band, and it’s one of eighteen tracks on a new compilation aiming to tell a bigger story: that of “The California Scene in the 1960s.”  Yes, this story has been told more comprehensively elsewhere; see two of our favorite box sets dedicated to San Francisco Nuggets and Los Angeles Nuggets.  But the new single-CD release Sunset Strip to Haight-Ashbury from Starbucks Entertainment does an admirable job of hitting many of the high points in the dual tale of Los Angeles and San Francisco, circa 1964-1970.  Along the way, familiar tracks and hidden gems are featured from artists like The Turtles, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Love and Iron Butterfly, as pop cedes to rock with more than a dollop of psychedelia.

Steven Stolder’s liner notes admit that Sunset Strip to Haight-Ashbury doesn’t touch on every aspect of California music in the 1960s; there’s nothing from The Beach Boys or Jan and Dean, for instance.  But the story being told travels from the Strip’s hotspots like Ciro’s and the Whisky A Go Go to the Bay Area’s Matrix and Fillmore.  The earliest track is a San Francisco one, from The Beau Brummels.  “Laugh, Laugh,” produced by Sylvester Stewart, a.k.a. Sly Stone, proved that American musicians could beat the British Invasion at its own game, as it melded that Brit sound with the strains of folk-rock.  The major triumvirate of Bay Area bands might just be considered Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and Quicksilver Messenger Service, and all three are represented here, with “White Rabbit,” “Box of Rain” and “Dino’s Song,” respectively.  One trait shared by all of the bands on the new anthology was a desire to bring their sounds to the world at large, a feat most of these artists succeeded in pulling off.  Janis Joplin had a talent too big for any one region, and she’s heard on Big Brother and the Holding Company’s searing version of George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess.  It was a transformative song if there ever was one, and characterized the limitless, mind-expanding approach to music taken by most of these artists.

Hit the jump to travel south to the Sunset Strip! Plus: the full track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 27, 2012 at 10:11

Collectors’ New Choice: Gordon Anderson Launches New Label

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Eagle-eyed crate diggers might have noticed a major disappearing act of late. 

Collectors’ Choice Music, long renowned for its diverse and eclectic line-up of releases by artists ranging from Bing Crosby to Jefferson Airplane, has quietly been allowing its label’s releases to go out-of-print.  In fact, many of those titles are already commanding high prices on the second-hand market.  (The beginning of the end of the Collectors’ Choice label can be read here.)  Though the company’s famed catalogue continues for the time being, offering music from various labels around the world, the label has been dormant for all of 2011 after a tumultuous 2010 which saw titles from artists like Petula Clark, Joanie Sommers and Connie Stevens announced and then withdrawn with little word from the label.  But there’s a silver lining. 

Gordon Anderson, the much-loved former Senior Vice President and General Manager of Collectors’ Choice Music, has recently announced a new venture that should be of more than passing interest to readers of The Second Disc.

It’s called Real Gone Music, and you can find the details after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 8, 2011 at 09:12

Release Round-Up: Week of April 26

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Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (Universal)

The 2-CD remastered/expanded 40th Anniversary Edition (previously a Best Buy exclusive) and super deluxe 4-CD/2-LP/1-DVD box set of the seminal album both arrive in stores today.  Read more here.  (2-CD – Amazon, Box Set – Amazon)

Bob Dylan, The Other Side of the Mirror: Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965 (Columbia/Legacy)

Murray Lerner’s film chronicling Dylan’s incendiary performances at Newport is released on Blu-Ray for the first time. (Amazon)

Ella Fitzgerald, Ella in Japan (Verve Select)

Hip-o and Verve resurrect two nights of previously unreleased concerts from January 1964 in Tokyo.  The Roy Eldridge Quartet supports the legendary jazz chanteuse.  Read more here.  (Amazon)

Florence + The Machine, Lungs: Deluxe Edition (Universal Republic)

An expanded edition of Florence + The Machine’s impressive 2009 debut Lungs arrives in America.  Read more here.   (Amazon)

Jefferson Airplane, The Worst of Jefferson Airplane (Vinyl) (Friday Music)

From “Somebody to Love” to “Volunteers,” this compilation offers the best of the San Francisco rock pioneers, remastered on 180-gram vinyl.  Read more here.  (Amazon)

Robert Johnson, The Centennial Collection (Legacy)

Robert Johnson would have turned 100 this year, and Legacy celebrates in style with this update of 1990’s The Complete Recordings.  42 tracks are included on two discs.  A deluxe box set is also available.  Read more here.  (Amazon)

Roy Orbison, The Monument Singles Collection (1960-1964) (Monument/Orbison Records/Legacy)

This 2-CD/1-DVD set compiles on CD every A- and B-side from Orbison’s career-making tenure at Monument Records in original mono mixes, plus rare concert footage from 1965 on DVD.  A booklet with detailed discographical information is included!  Read more here.  (Amazon)

The Rolling Stones, The Complete Singles: 1971-2006 (Hip-o/Universal)

Yup, this 45-CD set (!) brings together 173 tracks representing the Stones’ singles output beginning in 1971, and 80 tracks debut on CD.  A 32-page hardback book sweetens the deal.  Read more here.  (Amazon)

Studio Cast Recording, On Your Toes (Masterworks Broadway/Arkiv Music)

Jack Cassidy and Portia Nelson star in this 1953 studio cast recording of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s great score.  Tracks include “There’s a Small Hotel,” “Glad to Be Unhappy” and “Slaughter on 10th Avenue.”  Available in mono as a disc-on-demand or download.  Read more here.  (CD – Arkiv, Download – Amazon)

Jimmy Webb & The Webb Brothers, Cottonwood Farm (Proper US)

Webb’s 2009 collaboration with his sons and other family members receives a belated American debut on Proper.  (Amazon)

Now Boarding: Jefferson Airplane Reissues Take Off On BGO and Friday Music

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Now departing from San Francisco: it’s Jefferson Airplane! While the classic band’s live reissue series launched by Collector’s Choice Music remains in limbo, fans of the classic rock line-up of Grace Slick, Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and Spencer Dryden don’t have to fear! Both BGO Records and Friday Music have a rich slate of Airplane projects to keep the group flying high!

Friday Music kicks things off with a 180-gram vinyl LP remastering of the ironically-titled 1970 collection The Worst of Jefferson Airplane. Its fifteen tracks cover the band’s first six albums including the era-defining singles such as “Somebody to Love,” “White Rabbit” and “Volunteers.” (All three songs were played at the band’s blazing set at Woodstock just months before the release of this collection.) Friday’s Joe Reagoso has teamed with Kevin Gray to remaster The Worst for its 180-gram debut for pristine sound quality. Friday will present the album in a replica of its original gatefold including artwork of RCA Victor’s famed Nipper. The vinyl will be housed in a poly sleeve, and the LP itself in a poly cover.

At the time of the initial release of The Worst, the band was still an active unit.  Jump forward a few years, and the Airplane had fractured. Casady and Kaukonen created a whole new revolution with Hot Tuna, their back-to-the-blues band, which debuted as a side project in 1970. That same year, Paul Kantner released Blows Against the Empire, credited to “Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship.” (The actual band, Jefferson Starship, wouldn’t officially form until four years later.) Kantner and Slick would record 1971’s Sunflower under their own names, and Slick struck out on her own in 1973 with Manhole. The same year, Slick teamed with Kantner and David Freiberg for another sci-fi epic, Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun. It couldn’t have come as much of a shock when Jefferson Airplane disbanded in 1974 (with Casady and Kaukonen devoting their attention to Hot Tuna) and Jefferson Starship rose from its ashes.

1977’s Flight Log (1966-1976) chronicles the heady ups and downs of the Jefferson Airplane family over that decade-long period. BGO has remastered the original Flight Log as a 2-CD set. The 21 tracks mark the only compilation of its kind, including tracks fom the Airplane and Starship plus Hot Tuna and the Kantner, Slick and Kaukonen solo projects. One track, “Please Come Back,” is heard in a 1976 live version from Winterland which made its premiere on Flight Log. BGO’s new edition boasts a 20-page color booklet reprinting the original LP’s copious scrapbook-style notes and photos, plus a new 2010 essay by John Tobler.

BGO complements Flight Log with a standalone reissue of Baron von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun. This Kanter/Slick/Freiberg collaborative effort featured guest appearances from the other Airplane members but featured Jerry Garcia playing lead guitar on most tracks (as well as steel guitar and banjo) and Chris Ethridge, of the Flying Burrito Brothers, on bass. Mickey Hart participated in the sessions, and frequent Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter penned the words to “Harp Tree Lament.” David Crosby lent his angelic voice to “The Ballad of the Chrome Nun.” Baron von Tollbooth is still available in 1997’s RCA version but completists can expect a new remastering for the BGO edition.

Hit the jump for the track listings for all three releases plus the usual discographical information and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 22, 2011 at 09:43

Release Round-Up: Week of November 23

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With most retailers putting out their new releases today to get a jump on the inevitable holiday weekend blitz, here’s the big catalogue releases for the week a day early!

Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson’s Vision (Epic/Legacy)

A three-DVD set that includes just about any MJ video you could be searching for. Of course, the one unreleased clip just officially hit the Internet, making you wonder what the fuss is all about. Oh wait, it’s Michael Jackson. (Official site)

Jay-Z, The Hits Collection Vol. 1
(Def Jam)

The first domestic compilation by one of the most respected MCs in the game. A deluxe version features five unreleased tracks. The perfect soundtrack to reading his new memoir. (Official site)

The Who, Live at Leeds: 40th Anniversary Edition (Geffen/UMe)

If you haven’t bought Live at Leeds in any of its three previous incarnations, this set adds the complete Hull show in addition to the complete Leeds show and throws in some vinyl and book bonuses. (Amazon)


The Rolling Stones, The Rolling Stones Vinyl Box Set 1964-1969 (ABKCO/UMe) / The Rolling Stones Vinyl Box Set 1971-2005 (Rolling Stones/UMe)

Two hefty boxes of wax collecting all the albums, EPs and compilations The Stones ever committed to tape. (Amazon – 1964-1969)

Pet Shop Boys, Ultimate Pet Shop Boys (EMI)

A thin hits compilation made slightly more worthwhile by the presence of a deluxe edition with a well-stocked DVD of Top of the Pops performances and other live treats. (Official site)

Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine (Null Corporation/Bicycle Music Company/UMe)

Trent Reznor remasters and reissues NIN’s debut album with one bonus track. (Amazon)

Mr. Mister, Pull (RCA/Legacy)

Released from the vault after 20 years, Legacy issues a digital (and limited physical) release of the fourth Mr. Mister LP, alongside digital releases of two other Mr. Mister albums (I Wear the Face (1984) and Go On… (1987)) and two LPs by the pre-Mister group Pages. (Official site) Read the rest of this entry »

Compilation Deluge Due from Legacy: Joplin, Presley, Dylan, Cash Included

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Playlist (Eco-Friendly Packaging)

The Second Disc kicks off the week with a bit of synergy. Our very own Mike Duquette contributed a wonderful piece over at Popdose looking at the hidden musical treasures you can find at your local grocery store – of all places! – including Sony/Legacy’s Playlist: The Very Best of Daryl Hall & John Oates. If you haven’t checked out Mike’s incisive, entertaining feature, please do so now, and then rejoin me here. Okay? Good. Welcome back! With summer turning to fall, and fall traditionally being the season when record labels release the most product in anticipation of the holidays, Sony has turned its attention to releasing a staggering amount of compilations in both their Essential and Playlist lines.

The Second Disc last reported on Barry Manilow, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Henry Mancini and Lena Horne joining the ranks of those anthologized in The Essential series, with Horne’s entry boasting some rare, new-to-CD tracks. Now a varied group joins that already eclectic lineup. August 31 will bring Essential 3.0 releases for Patti LaBelle, Simon and Garfunkel, Hezekiah Walker, Fred Hammond and Gloria Estefan, while October 12 will see The Essential Ronnie Milsap 3.0. Perhaps surprisingly given Legacy’s recent acquisition of his solo catalog, no new Paul Simon catalogue compilation has yet been announced.

The Playlist series takes its turn with two waves of releases, as well. Unfortunately no releases from the dormant catalogues of Philadelphia International Records or Philles Records have been announced, and Legacy’s plans for both labels are still unknown. That said, the artists getting the Playlist treatment are definitely diverse. From the jazz world, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Weather Report all have titles arriving in stores on September 14.  (Armstrong’s offering appears to be cross-licensed, containing tracks from the Universal catalogue.) October 12 brings volumes from Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, the Isley Brothers, Elvis Presley and Barry Manilow, among others. (Can I vote for “Tight Connection to My Heart”  from 1985’s Empire Burlesque for the Dylan volume, dedicated to his 1980s work?) These titles often feature a rarity or two in the mix, so keep an eye out for track listings when they’re announced. Perhaps Manilow’s “Oh, Julie!” will finally appear here, having been passed over for The Essential 3.0

Finally, thanks to our friends at the indispensable Musictap for a heads-up on more interesting compilation news from Legacy’s associated labels. Apparently a new series of 3-CD sets is scheduled for October 5 under the nondescript banner The Music Of.  The first artists in this series will be Dan Fogelberg, Jefferson Airplane, George Jones, Merle Haggard and Gladys Knight. As more details are revealed, we’ll report back.

Hit the jump for the full list of upcoming Playlist volumes, and pre-order links for all of the Playlist and Essential titles mentioned! Read the rest of this entry »

Feed Your Head: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, Live!

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The San Francisco Bay Area music scene of the 1960s was certainly one of the most fertile at that time or any other; groups of such prodigious invention as The Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Quicksilver Messenger Service all thrived and found a national audience. With apologies to The Dead, though, the longest and strangest trip of all may have been taken by the Bay Area’s own Jefferson Airplane. Drawing on blues, rock, folk, jazz and psychedelia, the Airplane carved out a niche all its own, scoring hit singles with songs like “Somebody to Love” and defining the Woodstock Generation with the politically-charged “Volunteers.” The band then morphed into Jefferson Starship in the following decade, creating somewhat more mellow recordings like “Count on Me” and the erotic, tamed-for-Top-40 “Miracles.” And then the 1980s saw perhaps the most controversial incarnation of the band, Starship, as big kitschy anthems like “We Built This City” stormed the charts. Later this year, Collector’s Choice Music will celebrate the rich legacy of the first beloved version of the group, Jefferson Airplane, with four new releases drawn from five landmark concerts.

Gordon Anderson of Collector’s Choice first announced the series back in April on his blog, noting how the tension in the band often led to its most exciting live performances. Anderson reflected that “there has probably never been a band of five individuals with such distinct and sharply-drawn personalities.” (For anybody doubting that, just read Jeff Tamarkin’s terrific biography Got a Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane.) Yet for all of the offstage battles, the band (whose most famous lineup included Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Marty Balin, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady and the estimable drummer Spencer Dryden) produced some of the era’s most forward-thinking rock. Craig Fenton and Richie Unterberger have helped Anderson select and annotate the releases, which will appear on the Collector’s Choice Live label. More than two months after Anderson’s initial announcement, the concerts selected have apparently been revealed thanks to some personnel involved with the releases over at the Steve Hoffman Music Forums.

Four of the shows date from 1966 at Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium. Live at the Fillmore: 10/15/66 Late Show – Signe’s Farewell, marks the final performance of the Airplane with its original singer, Signe Anderson, who performed on the band’s debut RCA LP, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Signe’s replacement was waiting in the wings, though: The Great Society’s Grace Slick. Live at the Fillmore: 10/16/66 Early and Late Shows – Grace’s Debut picks up literally one day later, though her iconoclastic personality has yet to come to the fore. Slick primarily participates here in recreating Anderson’s harmonies, and neither “White Rabbit” nor “Somebody to Love” have been introduced to the set, primarily drawn from Takes Off. A 2-CD set, Live at the Fillmore: 11/25/66 and 11/27/66 – We Have Ignition, shows the band’s progression over one short month, with Slick assuming a comfortable role in the band. The final release, Return to the Matrix: 2/1/68, is a 2-CD set recorded at that storied San Francisco club. The Airplane opened the Matrix on August 13, 1965, and in fact, Marty Balin owned a stake in the club.  The Airplane of the ’68 stand, though, was a much-changed band.  The Matrix show is the most psychedelic of the releases; the other concerts still show a hungry folk-rock band finding their signature sound. (Jefferson Airplane’s second release, 1967’s Surrealistic Pillow, shows the band heading in this direction. Later in 1967 came the edgier After Bathing at Baxter’s, the songs on which feature prominently in the Matrix set.)

While these CDs haven’t been formally announced by Collector’s Choice yet, you can expect such an announcement shortly which will include the release dates (rumored to be this fall). Hit the jump for possible track listings, with thanks to Wolfgang’s Vault, currently offering the shows for streaming and download.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 21, 2010 at 08:10