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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 »

Razor & Tie Hires a Bunch of Stiffs (and ZTT, Too)

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ZTT Stiff logos“If It Ain’t On Stiff, It Ain’t Worth a F***!” declared a famous slogan for the venerable punk and New Wave label. This month, that worth-a-f*** spirit extends to catalogue label Razor & Tie, who today announced a brand-new licensing agreement in North America with both Stiff and equally iconic British label ZTT.

Stiff, of course, was best known for putting out early works by The Damned (their “New Rose” is considered by some scholars to be the first punk rock single), Kirsty MacColl (some of her early singles appeared on the recent compilation A New England), Ian Dury and, of course, Elvis Costello. (Costello famously controls his own masters, having distributed them in the United States on the Columbia, Rykodisc, Rhino and UMe labels between 1978 and the present, in varying configurations of “deluxe.”)

Just as exciting, of course, is Razor & Tie’s partnership with Zang Tuum Tumb Records, the quirky U.K. dance-pop label celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Early singles “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and “Moments in Love” by The Art of Noise redefined pop music for the 1980s (the former was famously banned by the BBC for its saucy lyrical content), and latter-day bands like 808 State and Propaganda remain favorites by discerning rock lovers to this day.

ZTT has seen a great deal of U.K. catalogue work since The Second Disc started in 2010, with expanded reissues of works by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Art of Noise and others earning general acclaim among catalogue connoisseurs.

While exact details for either label’s physical reissue plan have yet to be ironed out, Razor & Tie’s strategy, according to a statement, includes “newly expanded editions this year,” “licensing opportunities for the catalog” and “new, direct to consumer ZTT Records and Stiff Records online merch stores which will feature an array of newly created, limited-edition items including classic logo shirts and much more to be announced soon.”

Written by Mike Duquette

March 5, 2013 at 15:59

Release Round-Up: Week of February 26

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Cat MotherFanny, Fanny / Freddie King, The Complete King Federal Singles (2-CD Set) / Rod McKuen, Sold Out at Carnegie Hall (2-CD Deluxe Edition) / Rod McKuen, Listen to the Warm (Deluxe Edition) / Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys, The Street Giveth…and the Street Taketh Away / The Hello People, Fusion / The Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks 25 – May 10, 1978 New Haven, CT / May 11, 1978 Springfield, MA (4-CD Set) (Real Gone Music)

Much to enjoy from Real Gone today: four discs of live Dead, deluxe editions from beloved songwriter/poet Rod McKuen, Freddie King’s A’s and B’s for King and Federal and Cat Mother and The All Night Newsboys’ The Street Giveth…, produced by Jimi Hendrix.

All That Jazz 2CDBreathe, All That Jazz: Deluxe Edition (Cherry Pop)

The underrated, dreamy debut album that spawned some major international hits in “Hands to Heaven” and “How Can I Fall” is expanded by Cherry Pop as a two-disc set with many B-sides and remixes. Check back later this week for a special interview with Vinny Vero, the veteran compilation producer/remixer who produced this reissue! (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.)

Kirsty DeluxeKirsty MacColl, A New England: The Very Best of Kirsty MacColl (Salvo)

A brand-new Kirsty MacColl compilation (Amazon U.K. / Amazon U.S.), featuring many of her non-LP singles. An Amazon U.K. edition features exclusive art cards and a DVD of music videos along with the standard package.

Mann Weil AceVarious Artists, Born to Be Together: The Songs of Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil (Ace)

From Ace comes a nice tribute to one of the best songwriting duos of the century. Features hits like “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “On Broadway” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” (Amazon U.K.Amazon U.S.)

Chita Rivera Two-FerChita Rivera, Chita! / And Now I Sing! (Stage Door)

However you can try to explain why the living stage legend’s two ’60s solo LPs are only now coming out on CD as a two-for-one package, they’re here for your enjoyment! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Union Square Follows Up Kirsty MacColl Reissues with New Compilation

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Kirsty DeluxeHaving greatly expanded her solo catalogue last year, Union Square Music is releasing a new compilation devoted to the late Kirsty MacColl.

Last year, USM released her debut full-length Desperate Character (1981) on CD for the first time, as well as new double-disc expansions of Kite (1989), Electric Landlady (1991) and Titanic Days (1993). This month will see a new single-disc career-spanning compilation that covers her entire discography.

In spite of the eight-year gap between her first two solo LPs, MacColl was a busy singer both before and after, from her 1979 debut single “They Don’t Know” (later a hit on both sides of the Atlantic for Tracey Ullman) and various other A-sides released by Stiff Records, before their sudden bankruptcy left her stuck in a lot of legal entanglements. A New England: The Very Best of Kirsty MacColl gives equal measure to these cuts, like “Terry,” “He’s on the Beach” and the Billy Bragg-penned title track. It also features her two famous collaborations with Irish rockers The Pogues, “Fairytale of New York” and “Miss Otis Regrets,” as well as three tracks from her final album, Tropical Brainstorm (2000), which was not expanded by USM.

A New England will be available as a 21-track CD and an Amazon U.K.-exclusive deluxe set with five art cards and a bonus DVD of 10 promo videos. Released on the same day, February 25 in the U.K., is A Concert for Kirsty MacColl, also issued by USM and featuring live tracks recorded by Bragg, Alison Moyet, Ellie Goulding and others in the fall of 2010.

Hit the jump for the track list and pre-order links for A New England.

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Written by Mike Duquette

February 4, 2013 at 11:49

The One and Only: Salvo Expands Kirsty MacColl’s Catalogue

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This week, Salvo Records takes a big step in getting people to stop saying they don’t know about the late, famed British singer/songwriter Kirsty MacColl, by releasing new remastered and expanded editions of four of her albums.

The reissue campaign, titled Kirsty MacColl: The One and Only, happens in honor of what would have been MacColl’s 53rd birthday. Salvo has prepped double-disc expansions of her albums Kite (1989), Electric Landlady (1991) and Titanic Days (1993), as well as the first-ever CD release of debut LP Desperate Character (1981).

MacColl’s unique voice was first heard on her single for Stiff Records, the peppy “They Don’t Know.” Despite strong airplay, the single actually never charted on the U.K. charts, the victim of a distributor’s strike keeping the single from experiencing any major sales. (In 1983, a cover by singer/actress Tracey Ullman, featuring MacColl on backing vocals, was a Top 10 hit in the U.K. and the United States.) After leaving Stiff, Kirsty cut her debut LP, 1981’s Desperate Character, with the Top 20 hit “There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis.” Dropped by Polydor before she could release her follow-up album, MacColl signed to Stiff again, where she released singles including her biggest hit “A New England,” originally recorded by Billy Bragg (and featuring new verses written for her by Bragg).

But when Stiff went bankrupt in 1986, MacColl again found herself without a label. That didn’t stop her from working as a session vocalist, nor scoring another hit as featured vocalist on The Pogues’ holiday chestnut “Fairytale of New York.” Eventually, MacColl scored a new contract with Virgin, releasing the acclaimed albums Kite and Electric Landlady. Both records were produced by MacColl’s then-husband, Steve Lillywhite, and featured a host of British rock luminaries, including David Gilmour and Johnny Marr. (MacColl covered The Smiths’ “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby” in 1988, and Marr co-wrote and played guitar on several tracks of hers, including U.S. rock hit “Walking Down Madison.”)

After 1993’s Titanic Days, a one-off with ZTT Records, MacColl’s writing turned increasingly to world music, including Cuban and other Latin-flavored styles. Unfortunately, her new direction was cut short in 2000, when, while diving off of Cozumel, Mexico, she was struck and killed by an errant boat. Her memory lives on, whether through catalogue projects (a three-disc retrospective and expanded editions of her Virgin and ZTT albums were released by EMI in 2005) or radio airplay.

For the new reissues, Salvo has not only put the original release of Desperate Character in print and on compact disc for the first time, but commissioned two-disc editions of her next three albums. Each feature a host of non-LP B-sides, tracks that did not feature on the previous expansions and even some unreleased material (an Electric Landlady outtake, an alternate remix of “Angel” and a live set on the Titanic Days expansion).

The One and Only album reissues are the first step in a MacColl reissue campaign; in 2013, Salvo will release a new compilation and a 2010 live tribute concert featuring Bragg, Alison Moyet, Catherine Tate and others. Meanwhile, these new reissues are available in the U.K. today (and shipping soon as imports to the U.S.)! Hit the jump for full track breakdowns and Amazon links, as always.

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 8, 2012 at 11:25