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Release Round-Up: Week of April 24

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Carole King, The Legendary Demos (Rockingale/Hear Music)

Who wouldn’t want to hear early recordings of some of the greatest pop songs ever recorded? I know I would.

Davy Jones, The Bell Recordings 1971-1972The Monkees, Pool It! Deluxe Edition (Friday Music)

The late Monkee’s first post-band project released on CD and expanded with bonus tracks, as well as a CD/DVD of the band’s penultimate 1987 album with two bonus tracks and the group’s videography.

T. Rex, Electric Warrior: Deluxe Edition (Polydor)

The glam classic is greatly expanded overseas, with a bonus disc of unreleased demos and a DVD of rare performances. This is likely going to stay import-only, so get it while it’s hot.

Louis Armstrong, Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours (Smithsonian Folkways)

One of Satchmo’s last recordings ever, a short set with surprise bliss from his trumpet.

Cilla Black, Completely Cilla 1963-1973 (EMI)

The U.K. pop singer gets a swinging box set: five CDs of George Martin-produced tunes and a DVD of rare BBC television appearances.

ABBA, The Visitors: Deluxe Edition (Universal Music Catalogue)

The Swedish pop icons’ final album, reissued as a CD/DVD set, features plenty of extras, including an unreleased track heard in its entirety for the first time anywhere.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 24, 2012 at 07:59

Satchmo’s Final Recordings to Be Released by Smithsonian

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More than 40 years after his passing, one of the final recordings of jazz legend Louis Armstrong is coming to CD from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Satchmo at the National Press Club: Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours presents Armstrong’s five-song set given before members of the National Press Club at a black-tie gala honoring the inauguration of club president Vernon Louviere, who, like Armstrong, was a native of Louisiana. The biggest surprise to the audience was Pops’ bringing his trusty horn out of semi-retirement, having spent the previous year in poor health and focusing far more on singing in concert.

After the set (“When It’s Sleepy Time Down South,”  “Hello, Dolly,” “Rockin’ Chair,” “Boy from New Orleans” and “Mack the Knife”) on January 29, 1971, Armstrong performed for the public only twice more – once on The Dick Cavett Show in February, and for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson the month after. In July, he died of a heart attack, a month before his 70th birthday.

This premiere wide release of the show – pressed onto a 300-unit limited edition vinyl disc some years ago – will be available April 24 on CD and digital download from Smithsonian Folkways as well as all major digital retailers. The release will be commemorated at the National Press Club on April 27 featuring a news conference and panel discussion with as-yet-unannounced panelists.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 4, 2012 at 12:39

Posted in Louis Armstrong, News

Elvis Costello is Stealing Our Job (UPDATED 2/17)

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UPDATE 2/17: Hey, remember this whole uproar? The CD, DVD and CD/DVD editions of this pseudo-nightmarish box can now be pre-ordered on their own, with a release date of April 3.

Original post (11/29/2011): Man, Elvis Costello is a pretty awesome guy. He’s had a pretty good handle on his own already-solid back catalogue, giving it a good solid two run-throughs (unfortunately, two out of three, which still ain’t bad, as they say). His revival of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook Tour, to be chronicled in a new super-deluxe box set and CD/DVD package, was a welcome surprise that mixed some nostalgia with up-to-date live fun. And then there’s that above video, which doesn’t fail to put a smile on my face.

But not everyone smiles for Mr. Costello! Our dear readers were rightfully upset at the crazy-even-for-a-super-deluxe-box $200+ price point, which included CDs, DVDs, books, vinyl, posters and other usual trinkets. But who would listen, other than us? Well, it turns out Elvis himself was!

In a typically sardonic announcement on his website, he not only urged that fans hold off on buying the mega box (indicating, as had been reported, that its contents would be available separately in 2012), but suggested that fans instead spend their hard-earned money on Universal U.K.’s “vastly superior” Louis Armstrong box set.

While we’re happy that Elvis is cognizant of how much these deluxe boxes put on fans’ wallets, we hope he keeps the reissue reporting to a minimum. After all, I couldn’t write or play “Accidents Will Happen” competently. (I won’t dare speak for Joe, though!)

Read the full text of the statement after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 17, 2012 at 11:50

Hello (Again), Louis! “Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz” Distilled to Four Discs For U.S. Release

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A favorite box set of both The Second Disc and Mr. Elvis Costello, Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz is the hefty 10-CD treasure trove issued in the U.K. by Universal Music in 2011.  The first comprehensive career-spanning look at the great bandleader’s life in music, Satchmo is housed in a case resembling one of Armstrong’s actual travel trunks, and includes a 200-page hardcover book in addition to some select sheet music replicas.  Yet despite Armstrong’s central place in the annals of American music, the set wasn’t initially released on U.S. shores.  Verve, an arm of Universal Music, is rectifying this somewhat with the January 10 issue of a 4-CD “highlights” set from the original box.

Verve is promising that “there is nothing second-rate” about this distillation, which selects 81 tracks out of the larger set’s 186, and includes a 164-page book.  Even the original travel trunk design will be retained, although it’s been considerably scaled down.  Those considering this miniaturized package will be pleased to know that some of the rare and unreleased material unearthed in 2011 has been retained for this edition including alternate takes and live performances.

For those not familiar with the breadth of Armstrong’s titanic discography, it can be divided into a number of periods.  We suggest Scott Johnson and Michael Minn’s online discography as a great place to start exploring!  Sony currently controls the seminal Hot Fives and Hot Sevens period (1925-1928) and the rest of his OKeh period through 1932, as well as his stints at RCA Victor (1932-1933 and 1946-1947) and Columbia (1954-1956). He recorded for Decca for roughly fifteen years between 1935 and 1949. In 1956 he began a tenure at Verve, where he had monumental collaborations with Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. Following his Verve stint, he briefly returned to Decca and recorded for the original Audio Fidelity label as well as for MGM and Roulette. Satchmo hit a commercial peak when he disrupted the British Invasion thanks to 1964′s Hello, Dolly! on Kapp, but the prolific artist was also was heard on ABC-Paramount, Mercury, EMI, Bluebird, Avco Embassy, Brunswick and Buena Vista! Universal Music Group (the label behind Ambassador of Jazz) today controls the Decca, Verve, ABC-Paramount, Mercury and Kapp recordings.

As of this writing, Amazon.com is offering the U.S. edition of Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz for $65.10.  If you’re looking for a solid introduction to one of the great forces in American music, or feel like gifting a musical education to a loved one, you could hardly do better than this set.  But if you’re serious about Armstrong, jazz or popular music in general, Elvis Costello reminded us that the original, 10-CD box set is a bargain at just $150.00 as of this writing.

Ready to say “Hello, Louis” to an American music legend?  Hit the jump to check out the track listing to the truncated box set.  It’s due in stores on January 10. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 3, 2012 at 10:15

The Year in Reissues: The 2011 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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What are you doing New Year’s Eve?  As we count down to that big celebration, we’ve been holed up at Second Disc HQ readying another year’s Gold Bonus Disc Awards for you!  We consider our annual awards a companion piece to Mike’s round-up over at Popdose (essential reading, I might add!) and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible as well as to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2011.  These ladies and gentlemen (some of whom we were privileged enough to interview this year) have proven, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world, and The Gold Bonus Disc Awards are dedicated to them.

Let’s get on with it!  And don’t forget to please share your thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2011?  Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2011′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year?  Hit the jump below to find out!

All winners are in bold, and we’ve linked to our original reviews and features in the body of each category’s text. Read the rest of this entry »

When The Saints Go Marchin’ In: Louis Armstrong Goes to Storyville in New Box

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Louis Armstrong’s going to Storyville!

The venerable Copenhagen-based jazz label, founded in the early 1950s by Kurt Emil Knudsen, has just released a new box set that happens to be third major box in 2011 alone for the one and only Louis Armstrong.  Following Universal’s Satchmo: Ambassador of Jazz and The Complete Masters, Storyville’s efficiently-titled The Armstrong Box arrived last Tuesday.  The 7-CD/1-DVD set falls somewhere between those two projects; Ambassador of Jazz is the first cross-licensed set to encompass Armstrong’s entire career, while Complete Masters presents the released takes of each Satchmo performance between 1925 and 1945.  The Armstrong Box, then, spans the period between 1947 and 1967 and is derived from the catalogue of Storyville.  It’s primarily devoted to live performances from the various groups of Armstrong’s famed All-Stars.  Louis Armstrong has been a presence on Storyville since the days of LPs, and some of those previously-issued performances appear here on compact disc, but there’s also a plentiful amount of never-before-reissued material, too.

The Armstrong Box is packaged with a 32-page booklet with liner notes written by Ricky Riccardi, the author of the must-read What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years.  Riccardi’s book puts the great trumpeter’s music and personal life in historical perspective in his book, and no doubt his contribution to this box set will do much the same.  Riccardi’s always-entertaining The Wonderful World of Louis Armstrong blog has clued readers in as to what to expect on The Armstrong Box.

Among the box set’s 160 tracks, some highlights from the 1940s include a June 1947 performance at the Winter Garden with the band not yet named The All-Stars; a December 1948 gig at Chicago’s Blue Note; and an entire disc devoted to the Jack Teagarden/Earl Hines/Sid Catlett line-up from the Hollywood Empire in 1949.  From the 1950s, you’ll hear a rare broadcast from American Legion Park in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, circa 1954; a broadcast from the same year originating from San Francisco’s Club Hangover; a 1955 New Year’s Eve date, also from San Francisco (with the Trummy Young/Barney Bigard/Billy Kyle/Arvell Shaw/Barrett Deems iteration of the group); and the Trummy Young/Edmond Hall/Billy Kyle/Barrett Deems group from Copenhagen in 1955 and New York in 1956.  The final decade represented in the box set, the 1960s,has yielded the soundtrack to 1962’s Goodyear Jazz Concert film; a near-complete gig from Nice, France in 1962; a Chicago concert from the same year; and an unissued concert from Copenhagen in 1967 featuring the final edition of the All-Stars.  Whew!

The DVD has an approximate running time of 36 minutes, and it’s culled from highlights of Armstrong’s Timex All-Star Jazz Shows.  The DVD captures Armstrong collaborating with such greats as Jack Teagarden, Hoagy Carmichael and Dizzy Gillespie.  Riccardi offers insights into the performances on this box set on his blog.

The Armstrong Box is available now from Storyville Records at a budget price (currently running just above $60 at Amazon.com!) and you’ll find a pre-order link and track listing after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 16, 2011 at 15:15

Toast of the Town: The Rolling Stones Visit Ed Sullivan with Petula, Dusty, Ella, Tom, Louis and More

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Long before David Letterman called the former Hammerstein’s Theatre on 50th Street and Broadway in New York City home, the theatre was the showplace of the world, thanks to one Mr. Ed Sullivan.  The former gossip columnist on the Broadway beat might have been an unlikely visitor to American homes each Sunday night between 1949 and 1971, but it was thanks to Sullivan that viewers got their first or most significant taste of such performers across the entire spectrum of entertainment.  On the musical side, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Supremes and The Rolling Stones were all beneficiaries of Sullivan’s exposure, but so were comedians like Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, Broadway musicals like Camelot, and even a little mouse named Topo Gigio.  Though Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Brian Jones are ostensibly the main attraction of the new 2-DVD set, All 6 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones, these DVDs offer plenty even for those who don’t feel like being Stoned.  An abridged version of this set is also available, containing just four of the six programs.  It’s titled, appropriately, 4 Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Rolling Stones, and drops the Stones’ first and last appearances from its line-up.

Both DVD sets feature full episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show, including original commercials.  Fans of television variety shows on DVD know that this often isn’t the case, with classics like The Dean Martin Show and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour being forced to release highlights-only as a result of prohibitive licensing costs, usually involving musical performances.  Only the 6-show set includes the Rolling Stones’ first appearance on October 25, 1964, in which the band performed the little-known “Around and Around” as well as their hit cover of the Jerry Ragovoy-penned “Time Is On My Side.”  But viewers will also find a program that defines variety: comedians London Lee, Phyllis Diller and Stiller and Meara, plus the tap-dancing Peg Leg Bates (!), actor Laurence Harvey reciting “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” classical violinist Itzhak Perlman and even the acrobatic Berosinis!

The May 2, 1965 episode is included on both releases.  Four Stones songs are performed (including “The Last Time”) but the same show also presented Dusty Springfield and the smash hit “I Only Want to Be with You” plus Tom Jones with “Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Baby Leaves You,” Leslie Uggams with “Melancholy Baby” and of course, Senor Wences and Topo Gigio!  The Stones next appeared with Ed on February 13, 1966, and that program, too, appears on both versions.  The Stones kick off this episode with their titanic “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and return for both “19th Nervous Breakdown” and the ballad “As Tears Go By.”  The Rolling Stones are the sole musical act for this bill, which also includes the still-active Hal Holbrook, applying his distinct tones to Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural speech!

The Rolling Stones were back on September 13, 1966, opening the show with “Paint It Black” and later playing “Lady Jane” and “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?”  Red Skelton and Joan Rivers were the comedians du jour, while Robert Goulet musically contributed with “Once I Had a Heart” and Louis Armstrong brought along his famous trumpet for “Cabaret” from John Kander and Fred Ebb’s new Broadway musical of the same name!  Jim Henson’s Muppets are on hand for an early appearance with a rock-and-roll themed sketch.  Appropriate, no?

Next up was the band’s most controversial television appearance, ever.  Hit the jump for the full story, plus the track listing for all six episodes! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 14, 2011 at 10:24

Universal Europe Offers “Complete Masters” For Armstrong, Fitzgerald, Bechet, Parker, Holiday

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If you’ve ever been looking to build a solid jazz library without spending too much coin, look no further.  The European arm of Universal Music Group, through its EmArcy and Decca labels, has announced a series of Complete Masters boxes that offer considerable bang for your buck!  The Complete Masters slate kicks off with five box sets devoted to Louis Armstrong (1925-1945, 14 discs), Ella Fitzgerald (1935-1955, 14 discs), Billie Holiday (1933-1959, 15 discs), Sidney Bechet (American Masters 1931-1953, 14 discs) and Charlie Parker (1941-1954, 13 discs).  Based on the time periods, it seems that a great deal of licensing has been done by Universal to create these all-encompassing packages.  Alas, complete and verified track listings have not yet been released.

Information is most readily available as to the Billie Holiday box, which will take in her recordings for the Columbia, Commodore, Decca and Verve labels over its 14 CDs.  At a price of roughly £27 GBP from Amazon U.K. (or $40 USD, at the time of this writing) vs. $101.36 as an import from Amazon.com, ordering from a European retailer is a no-brainer.  Holiday tragically died in 1959 aged just 44, so this set represents the entirety of her released body of work.  (Alternate takes which have surfaced on numerous box sets including Legacy’s comprehensive Lady Day have not been included.)  One report indicates that four tracks recorded circa 1957 may be missing from the box set, so although we currently don’t have an explanation, it’s hard to argue with fourteen discs from this influential singer for 40 bucks.  No less an eminence than Frank Sinatra said of Holiday not long before her death, “It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me. Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years.”

Another important influence to musicians of every genre is trumpeter, vocalist and bandleader Louis Armstrong (1901-1971).  Satchmo has been feted in recent months with a new career-spanning box set (also from Universal) as well as acclaimed biographies by Terry Teachout and Ricky Riccardi that anyone reading this should seek out.  The man described by his friend Bing Crosby as “the beginning and end of music in America” recorded for numerous labels during his long career, and as this set spans the period between 1925 and 1945, it should take in recordings from OKeh, Columbia, Vocalion, Victor and Decca across its 14 CDs.

One of Armstrong’s favorite collaborators was Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996), with whom he recorded both for Decca and Verve.  Fitzgerald had a lengthy career, with her discography ranging from 1935 to 1989.  The Complete Masters box set concerns itself with the singer’s first twenty years as a recording artist, from 1935 to 1955.  During this time, she was signed to the Decca label where she broke new ground in vocal jazz interpretation.  This box set takes listeners up until Fitzgerald’s signing with Norman Granz and his Verve label; that collaboration of manager and artist would influence Fitzgerald mightily through the rest of her career.

Hit the jump on the details of the Complete Masters sets for two overwhelming instrumental heroes! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 10, 2011 at 13:36

Release Round-Up: Week of August 16

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Breaking Benjamin, Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin (Hollywood)

A decade of Breaking Benjamin is collected on this new compilation, available in both standard and deluxe editions.  The deluxe edition offers an additional disc of rare and unreleased bonus material. (Amazon)

Dazz Band, Hot Spot: Expanded Edition (Funkytowngrooves)

The Dazz Band’s 1985 swan song on Motown Records is expanded with five remixes. (Amazon)

Nick Heyward, Tangled and The Apple Bed (Cherry Red)

Heyward’s 1995 and 1998 albums get the deluxe treatment from Cherry Red.  Tangled adds a brace of bonus tracks including an EP of Beatles covers, while The Apple Bed adds B-sides and one previously unreleased cut. (Official site)

The Jones Girls, On Target: Expanded Edition (Funkytowngrooves)

In 1983, the Detroit-born Jones Girls – Brenda, Valorie and Shirley – decamped from Philadelphia International to RCA for this album, which has been expanded with three instrumentals and remixes. (Amazon)

Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band, Hoodoo Man Blues (Delmark)

This 1965 studio album finds Junior Wells joined by Buddy Guy for 12 smoking blues workouts.  Delmark expands the original album with three previously-available alternate takes and two never-before-released performances. (Amazon)

Various Artists, Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl (Verve Select)

Norman Granz brought his all-star Verve roster to the Hollywood Bowl in 1956 where this classic album was recorded.  Louis, Ella, Art, Oscar and co. all appear, and eleven Armstrong tracks premiere on American CD on this deluxe edition. Read the full story here. (Amazon)

Written by Joe Marchese

August 16, 2011 at 08:33

Armstrong, Fitzgerald, Peterson Featured on Hip-o’s Expanded “Hollywood Bowl”

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The names of the greatest producers in jazz history still resonate today. The likes of Orrin Keepnews, Creed Taylor and Norman Granz (to name a mere three) all pioneered production and promotion styles that made their releases both identifable and enduring.  Next week will see the release on Hip-o Select of a major project by that third-named gentleman. Granz (1918-2001) founded five record labels in his lifetime, but none more renowned than Verve. That label was created by Granz in 1956, and the very same year, he recorded the first-ever jazz concert at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl, a venue which opened in 1922 and still hosts prestigious concerts today. (The famous bandshell didn’t come along until 1929, however!) Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl brought together some of the biggest names of the genre: Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Roy Eldridge, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown and Buddy Rich. The concert was released as a deluxe 2-LP set, but has never been released on CD. Hip-o Select’s Verve Select imprint rectifies this with a new CD reissue, but the pot has been sweetened by the addition of 11 previously unreleased tracks performed by Louis Armstrong! (These tracks are almost simultaneously appearing as one complete disc on Universal U.K.’s ambitious 10-CD box set Satchmo: Louis Armstrong, The Ambassador of Jazz.  Read about that exciting project here!) 

The American debut of the Armstrong set is just one reason that this new package is an essential one. Satchmo had been heard on the original vinyl edition in two duets with Ella Fitzgerald (“You Won’t Be Satisfied” and “Undecided”) but the trumpeter’s full set could not be included on the original LP. Eleven previously unreleased tracks have been reinstated, bringing the total number of Armstrong performances to fourteen. That’s not all, though. Verve Select’s CD edition now has all of the songs performed that summer evening of August 15, 1956, and the set list has been restored to its original running order. (The original LPs altered the sequencing due to the era’s time constraints for vinyl albums.)

Armstrong and his All Star Orchestra took their place beside a truly legendary group of musicians, and Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl offers six solo tracks from Fitzgerald, including takes on Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale” and “Just One of Those Things” plus Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s “Little Girl Blue” and the then-current showtune introduced by Sammy Davis, Jr. in Mr. Wonderful, “Too Close For Comfort.” Flip Phillips, Illinois Jacquet, Harry “Sweets” Edison and Roy Eldridge were backed by Buddy Rich and the Oscar Peterson Trio with Herb Ellis and Ray Brown on a once-in-a-lifetime jam session incorporating Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose,” Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin’s “I Can’t Get Started” and Count Basie’s signature “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.” Piano jazz is well represented by Art Tatum’s four songs, among them the Gershwins’ “Someone To Watch Over Me” and Porter’s “Begin the Beguine,” and the Oscar Peterson’s Trio’s two-song set highlighted by Burton Lane and Ralph Freed’s “How About You?” (“I like New York in June/How about you? I like a Gershwin tune/How about you?”) The concert marked one of Tatum’s last appearances. The entire ensemble joins in for (what else?) “When The Saints Go Marching In,” the jubilant, rousing finale.

Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl is housed in a digipak reproducing the original artwork plus new photos, detailed annotations and an essay by historian Bob Porter. This 5,000-copy limited edition is available for pre-order now at Hip-o Select for $35.98 and will ship on July 29. It will be available from other retailers beginning August 16. After the jump, you’ll find the complete annotated track listing plus pre-order link at Amazon. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 19, 2011 at 10:01