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Release Round-Up: Week of June 11

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Rockshow NewPaul McCartney and Wings, Rockshow (Eagle Rock)

Macca’s newly-restored live show may not be in the Wings Over America box, but that means you can buy it for that much less now. (DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.; BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

ZZ Top Rhino boxZZ Top, The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1990 (Warner Bros./Rhino)

So not only are you getting all of ZZ Top’s London/Warner-era albums in one convenient box, but you’re getting a fair amount of them in their original mixes for the first time ever on CD. Win? Win. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Motown 12AVarious Artists, The Complete Motown Singles Volume 12A: 1972 (Hip-O Select/Motown)

It’s finally here! The penultimate volume of the long-running series features some of Motown’s most out-there stuff yet. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Pryor boxRichard Pryor, No Pryor Restraint: Life in Concert (Shout! Factory)

Nine discs (seven CDs, two DVDs) of side-splitting, wildly off-color humor from one of the greatest stand-up acts there ever was. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Burt - Anyone Who Had a HeartBurt Bacharach, Anyone Who Had a Heart: The Art of the Songwriter (U.K.-only box set) (UMe)

From the U.K. comes a new six-disc anthology of Bacharach’s best works as a writer or performer – easily more comprehensive than the double-disc set U.S. audiences got recently. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Icehouse 12 InchesIcehouse, The 12 Inches Volume 1 (Repertoire)

Two discs of dance mixes from the Australian hitmakers. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

“NOW” and Then: U.K. Compilation Series Celebrates Three Decades in Three Discs

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Now 30 YearsWhen I was heavily ensconced in a retail job, I had the task of stocking new music and movie releases and sharing the new releases with the rest of the store on Tuesday morning. Without fail, every time a NOW That’s What I Call Music! compilation came out, someone would marvel how many such compilations existed, prompting me to tell my co-workers that they should check out the NOW series as it originated in the U.K., back in 1983, where they were double albums and released with slightly more frequency to the point where the 84th volume hit stores in March (as opposed to the single-disc 47th volume that streeted in the U.S. last Tuesday).

Of course, here at The Second Disc, I’m surrounded by record collectors and pop enthusiasts, so this illumination is nothing new. (That’s one of many reasons why I’m a lot happier editing these pages, I’ll tell you that!) But anyway, the point is that NOW That’s What I Call Music is indeed celebrating 30 years – and its doing so with a new, triple-disc compilation of highlights from its lengthy run.

NOW That’s What I Call 30 Years features an interesting, semi-chronological hodgepodge of pop cuts from the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and today, from Michael Jackson to Madonna, Take That to the Spice Girls, Adele to PSY. It’s disappointingly centered on the traditional pop scene on both sides of the Atlantic, thereby ignoring some of the R&B and rock-infused diversity that the NOW series was often known for (Radiohead appeared on at least one volume, for cryin’ out loud). As such, it’s a very, very patchy portrait of pop, passing a good chunk of the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. (Also, a considerably more minor quibble, but what’s up with the 20th Century-Fox meets Pink Floyd cover art?)

But NOW are one of the best – and one of the only – games in town as far as anthologizing pop music for the masses, so NOW That’s What I Call 30 Years might be a set for your collection when it’s released May 27 in England. Hit the jump to check out the full track list and order your copy off Amazon.

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Where Were You When We Needed You: Latest Volume of “The Complete Motown Singles” Arrives in June

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Motown 12ALet’s dispense with the “Get Ready” puns: after a four-year wait, Hip-O Select’s Complete Motown Singles series inches closer toward the finish line with Volume 12A: 1972.

This five-disc set includes every single side released by Motown during the first half of 1972, a time of transition for the company. Berry Gordy had already moved his Detroit-based media empire westward to Los Angeles, leaving some of his flagship groups in a transitional period. The Jackson 5 still had their hits, but not with the blinding intensity of their earliest years (though Michael still enjoyed hits off of his solo debut Got to Be There). Marvin Gaye released a one-off single, “You’re the Man,” in between two masterpieces (1971’s What’s Going On and 1973’s Let’s Get It On), while Stevie Wonder began his journey as a fully in-control adult artist with “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” from Music of My Mind. Both Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and Martha & The Vandellas released their farewell singles in this era, while a new up-and-coming band named The Commodores released their first.

It was certainly a unique time there, and now, it’s coming home, The Complete Motown Singles-style. That means gorgeous book packaging with a bonus 45 (devoted MoWest’s The Blackberries, whose single “Somebody Up There” actually was never issued as a 45), multiple essays (including by Motown engineers Russ and Ralph Terrana, Susan Whitall of The Detroit News), and track-by-track notes by Bill Dahl and producers Keith Hughes and Harry Weinger.

The box ships from Select on May 31 and from all retailers June 11. Hit the jump for a full track list and Amazon pre-order link!

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Review: Paul Anka, “Duets”

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Paul Anka - DuetsWhether you prefer your “My Way” by Sinatra or Sid (Vicious, that is), you have Paul Anka to thank.  It was Anka who took the melody to the chanson “Comme d’habitude” and crafted the ultimate anthem of survival and tenacity with his English-language lyrics.  When Sinatra recorded the song, a gift to him from Anka, he was just 53 years of age yet could still ring true when singing of that “final curtain.”  Today, Paul Anka is 71, and his new memoir is entitled, what else, My Way.  Thankfully, the end seems far from near for the entertainer, who has kept busy not only with the book, but with an album from Legacy Recordings.  Duets (88765 48489 2) is a blend of new and old tracks with one thing in common: the unmistakable voice of Paul Anka.  (He also wrote or co-wrote all but two of its songs.)

The Ottawa-born pop star scored his first hit at the ripe old age of 15 with 1957’s “Diana.”  It earned him a No. 1 in the U.S. Best Sellers in Stores and R&B charts, as well as No. 1 in the U.K., Canada and Australia. But overnight sensation Anka was a teen idol with a difference: he was a true singer/songwriter, writing both music and lyrics for his own songs. By the age of 20, Anka was reportedly raking in $1.5 million a year and selling some 20 million records, but he knew that he had to take himself to the next level. The singer poised himself for a reinvention for the adult market with more mature material aimed at the supper club crowd.  Throughout his chart career, Anka has successfully balanced contemporary pop with timeless showbiz tradition.

To its credit, Duets isn’t a rehash of the formula enjoyed by so many superstars, from Frank Sinatra to Tony Bennett, of remaking “greatest hits” with familiar partners.  There’s no “Puppy Love,” no “Times of Your Life” or “One Woman Man/One Man Woman.”  Nor is Duets a career retrospective, per se, as the only vintage tracks are drawn from 1998’s A Body of Work.  In many ways, Duets is an update of that Epic release.  A Body of Work included seven duets among its eleven tracks, and four of those have been reprised on Duets.  (That album also included a posthumous duet with Sinatra on “My Way.”  Frank and the song are here, too, but in a newly-created recording.)  None of Anka’s hit seventies duets with Odia Coates like “One Woman Man” or “You’re Having My Baby” are heard here.  Though Jay-Z reportedly denied Anka’s invitation to participate, a number of top talents did show up to celebrate Anka’s 55 years in entertainment, including Dolly Parton, Leon Russell, Willie Nelson and Michael Bublé.

Come join us after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

He Did It His Way: Paul Anka Joins Friends For “Duets”, New CD Features Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Leon Russell and More

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Paul Anka - DuetsDo you remember the times of your life?

Paul Anka posed that musical question in 1975, taking Roger Nichols and Bill Lane’s onetime Kodak film jingle all the way to the Top 10 Billboard pop chart and No. 1 Easy Listening.  At that point, Anka could rightfully reflect on the times of his own storied life, nearly two decades in the music business.  But could he have imagined that he would still be going strong almost forty years after “Times of Your Life” hit?  The Canadian-born singer, songwriter, producer and manager is celebrating 55 years in the music business with the release on April 9 of Duets, a 14-track collection of vocal pairings both old and new.  The Legacy Recordings album coincides with the same day’s debut of his autobiography, naturally entitled My Way after the song he co-wrote for Frank Sinatra.

Ottawa-born Anka had his first hit with 1957’s “Diana.”  When the song was released, Anka was just shy of 16 years old, and it earned him a No. 1 in the U.S. Best Sellers in Stores and R&B charts, as well as No. 1 in the U.K., Canada and Australia.  But overnight sensation Anka was a teen idol with a difference: he was a true singer/songwriter, writing both music and lyrics for his own songs.  In 1962, Anka departed his home of ABC-Paramount for the more lucrative pastures of RCA Victor, which is now under the same corporate umbrella of Sony Music Entertainment as Legacy Recordings.  Anka followed up his ABC hits like “You Are My Destiny,” “Lonely Boy,” “Puppy Love” and “Put Your Head on My Shoulders” with a string of charting pop singles (“A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine,” “Remember Diana,” “Goodnight, My Love”) that continued through 1964 when The British Invasion threatened to cut short the careers of artists like Anka and his RCA Victor compatriot Neil Sedaka.

Of course, Paul Anka bounced back.  Hit the jump for the rest of the story, plus the full track listing, pre-order link and more about Duets! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 5, 2013 at 15:09

Get Ready! Songs of “Motown: The Musical” Are Collected In Original Hit Versions

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Motown Musical - OriginalsWhen Motown: The Musical opens at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 14, it will mark yet another career landmark for Berry Gordy, the songwriter-producer-entrepreneur who turned Detroit, Michigan into Hitsville, USA some fifty-five years ago.  The musical, written by Gordy and directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, depicts the rise to prominence of the Sound of Young America, with Brandon Victor Dixon (The Color Purple, The Scottsboro Boys) starring as Gordy.  He’s joined by a cast of roughly 40 including Valisia Lekae as Diana Ross, Charl Brown as Smokey Robinson, Bryan Terrell Clark as Marvin Gaye and Ryan Shaw as Stevie Wonder.  Despite the considerable talent of the youthful cast, however, the star of Motown: The Musical is undoubtedly the music written by such composers and lyricists as Brian Holland, Eddie Holland and Lamont Dozier, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Gordy himself.  While plans are already afoot for the Original Broadway Cast Recording to arrive from UMe, the label is further supporting the new “jukebox musical” with the release of Motown Originals: The Classic Songs That Inspired the Broadway Show, available in 1-CD, 2-CD and digital formats on March 5.

The Broadway berth of Motown isn’t Gordy’s first foray into theatre.  Motown, under Gordy’s aegis, made a sizeable investment in Roger O. Hirson and Stephen Schwartz’s 1972 musical Pippin, directed by the legendary Bob Fosse.  Gordy’s team at Motown saw the potential in the score by Stephen Schwartz, who had already made a name for himself with Godspell and its hit single “Day by Day” on the Bell label.  In exchange for the company’s investment in the musical, Motown’s Jobete publishing arm received rights to Schwartz’s delectable pop-rock-flavored score for Pippin.  Hence, the Diana Ross-less Supremes recorded the torch ballad “I Guess I’ll Miss the Man,” the Jackson 5 surveyed the beautifully yearning “Corner of the Sky,” and solo Michael Jackson tackled the optimistic “Morning Glow.”  Motown also released the original cast recording, the label’s first, co-produced by Schwartz and Phil Ramone.  Gordy’s investment paid off; when Pippin closed in June 1977, it had run 1,944 performances.  It returns to Broadway this spring in its first revival, melding an all-new circus concept by director Diane Paulus to choreography inspired by Bob Fosse’s original work.

Motown also isn’t the first time Gordy has attempted to bring the story of his renowned label to the musical theatre stage.  Ain’t No Mountain High Enough was announced in late 2006 to close out the season at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre in summer 2007.  A report in Variety promised “a book by Gordy and 30 Motown tunes.”  Ain’t No Mountain even announced an opening date of July 15, but it wasn’t meant to be.  The production was scrapped, and Gordy continued the journey that has finally taken his story to Broadway.  The new Motown: The Musical has assembled an 18-piece orchestra to play the orchestrations of Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, likely inspired by the original hit record arrangements.

After the jump: what will you find on the various versions of Motown: Originals?  We’ve got more details, full track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of January 15

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Lost SirensNew Order, The Lost Sirens (Rhino) (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.)

A cadre of outtakes from the Waiting for the Siren’s Call sessions, this marks the last New Order material with original bassist Peter Hook.

Johnny Mathis - A Special Part of MeJohnny Mathis, A Special Part of Me: Expanded Edition (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.) (Funkytowngrooves)

FTG’s latest R&B expansion has a Michael Jackson connection: the future King of Pop co-wrote for Mathis “Love Never Felt So Good” with Paul Anka!

Talk Talk Natural OrderTalk Talk, Natural History: The Very Best of Talk Talk 1982-1988 (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.) / Natural Order 1982-1991 (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.) (Virgin/EMI)

Not only a CD/DVD reissue of Talk Talk’s first compilation, but a new set, assembled by frontman Mark Hollis, featuring lesser-known and rare tracks from the band.

Eddie MoneyEddie Money, Eddie Money (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.) / Life for the Taking (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.) / Playing for Keeps (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.) / No Control (Amazon U.S./Amazon U.K.) (Rock Candy)

Available in the U.K. now and Stateside next week: the Money Man’s first four Columbia albums, newly remastered and repackaged by Rock Candy.

Marcos Valle - Marcos Valle

Marcos Valle, Marcos Valle (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.) /Garra (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This pair of 1970 and 1971 albums found the Brazilian bossa nova legend exploring new sonic terrain.  Light in the Attic tells the whole story with these remastered deluxe reissues!

J5 DVDThe Jackson 5, The Jackson 5ive: The Complete Series (Classic Media) (Amazon U.S.: DVD, Blu-Ray)

The entirety of the (probably ridiculous) Rankin-Bass J5 cartoon comes to DVD and, for some reason, Blu-ray!

Written by Mike Duquette

January 15, 2013 at 08:00

Johnny Mathis’ Expanded “Special Part of Me” Highlights Paul Anka and Michael Jackson Collaboration

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Johnny Mathis - A Special Part of MeIt’s been a wonderful, wonderful time to be a fan of Johnny Mathis, with the singer’s long-lost Mercury Records catalogue recently having been upgraded to CD by Real Gone Music.  As 2013 opens, another label is turning its attention to the Mathis catalogue.  Funky Town Grooves is returning the 1984 album A Special Part of Me to CD in a first-ever expanded edition due on January 15.

Mathis’ association with Columbia Records began in 1956 when he was just 21 years of age, and these many years later, he’s still a label fixture, with his most recent album (2010’s Let It Be Me: Mathis in Nashville) having arrived on Columbia.   Other than the 1963-1966 tenure at Mercury, Columbia saw Mathis through every conceivable genre of music.  While at Mercury, Mathis dipped his toes in the waters of the “covers album,” in which he would record “the Johnny Mathis” version of popular, charting songs.  The romantic, lush tones that had served him so well on readings of Broadway and Hollywood standards in his early years proved remarkably adaptable to songs by Bacharach and David, Lennon and McCartney, and Jimmy Webb.

Producer/composer/arranger Thom Bell was one of the first to realize Mathis’ untapped potential as a true soul singer, tailoring the lush 1973 album I’m Coming Home to the artist’s rich vocal talents.  Steadily recording throughout the seventies, Mathis reached the “top of the pops” in 1978 with “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” a duet with Deniece Williams, and stayed current with disco-flavored cuts (1978’s “Gone, Gone, Gone” for one), hit film themes (Marvin Hamlisch and the Bergmans’ “The Last Time I Felt Like This,” with Jane Olivor, from Same Time, Next Year) and even a funky, dancefloor-ready collaboration with CHIC (the still-unreleased album I Love My Lady).

We meet Mathis in 1984 after the jump!  Plus: a pre-order link and full track listing. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 10, 2013 at 09:52

The Year in Reissues: The 2012 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWow!  Was it just over a year ago when a rather dubious report began circulating (that, shockingly, was picked up by many otherwise-reputable publications) that proclaimed the death of the CD was secretly scheduled by the major labels for 2012?  Well, 2012 has come and (almost) gone, and it might have been the most super-sized year in recent memory for reissues, deluxe and otherwise, from labels new and old.  Here at the Second Disc, we consider our annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards a companion piece to Mike’s own round-up over at Popdose, and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible – over 80 worthy, unique titles.  We also hope to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2012. As we’re literally deluged with news around these parts, these ladies and gentlemen prove, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to them, and to you, the readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past alive and well.

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2012? Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2012′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! Read the rest of this entry »

On the Last Day of Second Discmas…

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Here at The Second Disc, the holiday season is the perfect time to do what we love to do best: share the gift of music. For the second year in a row, we have we reached out to some of our favorite reissue labels and we’ve teamed with them to play Santa Claus to our awesome and faithful readers. It’s called – what else? – Second Discmas, and it’s going on now through Christmas!

Christmas Legacy Fb banner

For our final day of Second Discmas, we’ve saved some of the biggest and best for last! Unwind after a busy season by entering to win this great care package from our friends at Legacy Recordings – including Michael Jackson’s Bad 25 box, Elvis Presley’s Prince from Another Planet set, CD/DVD editions of Paul Simon’s Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition and Rage Against the Machine’s Rage XX, and compilations including Giant Single: The Profile Records Rap Anthology and Johnny Cash’s The Greatest! Not a bad way to finish the season of giving!

As always, winning is easy! Click on the graphic up top to head over to Contest Central for the complete rules! And thanks to all our wonderful fans and associates who’ve made our dream of Second Discmas a wonderful reality!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2012 at 08:30