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Archive for the ‘Open Forum’ Category

Information Society: In Praise of Passions Just Like Mine and Other Uber-Fan Sites

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Today bought a major dark cloud over the days of Morrissey and The Smiths fans everywhere, even more so than the reissue of Viva Hate. Passions Just Like Mine, the long-running discography/videography/gigography for Manchester’s favorite singer/songwriter, has closed up shop.

In a statement, the site’s founder, Stephane, announced a desire to pursue “a few other personal projects in mind (unrelated to Morrissey)” but was still taking suggestions as to “what to do with the body.” (The body of the site is currently gone,  as Stephane “could not deal with the site just stagnating there, slowly becoming incomplete.“)

As a fan, I’m going to miss PJLM’s exhaustive comprehension to its subject – as you can guess, such a quality is endearing around these parts – not necessarily out of my love for Moz or The Smiths (although I cherish both) but particularly because I love websites that keep such musical flames alive. Were it not for the devotion of fans and the usability of HTML, I’d never known there were at least two versions of Duran Duran’s Rio I’d want to acquire. My Tears for Fears Reissue Theory post wouldn’t have been the same. Sure, sometimes you get lucky on Wikipedia, but it’s hard to beat a well-crafted, singularly obsessive music site.

So in tribute to Stephane and his work, we ask you, our readers: what are your favorite sites obsessively devoted to music? It can be one artist, a few, a whole label, whichever. We want you to pay tribute to them, because we’re lucky to have them all in our lives.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 11, 2012 at 17:10

Presidents Day Special Reissue Theory: Walt Disney World’s “The Hall of Presidents”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable album and the reissues they could someday see. Today’s special holiday entry pays tribute to the 40th anniversary of a classic LP and beloved theme park attraction.  Welcome to the Hall of Presidents!

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

These immortal words, when first they were written, proclaimed to the world an idea new among men. They expressed a shining wish for a better way of life. This was the American dream. But that golden goal was not to be had without cost. It was born in adversity, tested by time, perfected and proven only after long experience and trial. This is the drama of a new concept of freedom, of the inspired code of law creating that freedom…

  – Original Introductory Dialogue, “The Hall of Presidents” at Walt Disney World

To many, the star of the 1964 New York World’s Fair was Walt Disney.  Attractions premiered by the restless visionary such as It’s a Small World and The Carousel of Progress were instant successes, and in the ensuing decades, they have become part of the American cultural firmament.  Near and dear as those attractions were to Disney, however, one stood out from the rest.  Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was designed for the State of Illinois Pavilion at the Fair, and included the most impressive display of Disney’s Audio-Animatronics ever seen.  As David Brinkley reported on television’s Huntley-Brinkley Report, “There will be a plastic Abraham Lincoln programmed by tape in a central control room, like a missile. Lincoln sits, stands, moves his tongue, moves his lips, clears his throat, frowns, smiles, looks skeptical, sad, happy, raises either or both eyebrows, registers a total of 15 facial expressions, makes a speech of six minutes and steps back to his chair, whereupon his motors are turned off and choirs burst into song.”  Science Digest took note of the marvelous new technology as it brought the 16th President of the United States of America back to vivid life.

Just one President wouldn’t be enough for Walt Disney Productions, however.  Based on the success of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the design team for The Florida Project, or Walt Disney World, had something even more ambitious in mind: The Hall of Presidents.  Walt Disney himself didn’t live to see this attraction’s debut, but it’s been entertaining and educating visitors to the Lake Buena Vista, Florida park for over 40 years.

In celebration of Presidents’ Day, created for George Washington and first celebrated as a federal holiday in 1885, we’ll explore the The Hall of Presidents and its original soundtrack album in today’s special Reissue Theory!  Just hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 20, 2012 at 10:08

The Need for Back-Up: Rock Hall Finally Inducts Classic Backing Bands

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One of the many, many criticisms of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is their occasional neglect of certain bands in favor of other artists. From the first year of induction in 1987, when Smokey Robinson was inducted instead of all of The Miracles, it’s been a legitimate concern.

Today, the Hall attempted to alleviate some of that concern by announcing five such bands would be inducted alongside the five previously-announced members of this year’s class. The additional bands are:

  • The Blue Caps: Tommy Facenda, Cliff Gallup, Dickie Harrell, Bobby Jones, Johnny Meeks, Jack Neal, Paul Peek, Willie Williams (Gene Vincent)
  • The Comets: Fran Beecher, Danny Cedrone, Joey D’Ambrosio (a.k.a. Joey Ambrose), Johnny Grande, Ralph Jones, Marshall Lytle, Rudy Pompilli, Al Rex, Dick Richards, Billy Williamson (Bill Haley)
  • The Crickets: Jerry Allison, Sonny Curtis, Joe B. Mauldin, Niki Sullivan (Buddy Holly)
  • The Famous Flames: Bobby Bennett, Bobby Byrd, Lloyd Stallworth, Johnny Terry (James Brown)
  • The Midnighters: Henry Booth, Cal Green, Arthur Porter, Lawson Smith, Charles Sutton, Norman Thrasher, Sonny Woods (Hank Ballard)
  • The Miracles: Warren “Pete” Moore, Claudette Rogers Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marvin Tarplin, Ronald White (Smokey Robinson)

A deserved congratulations to the inductees and a “took you long enough” to the RRHOF. What other backing bands do you think should be inducted?

Written by Mike Duquette

February 9, 2012 at 14:44

Always on Our Mind: Willie Nelson Returns to Sony in New Legacy Deal

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To all the girls and boys who have loved the music of Willie Nelson before, there’s plenty of good news ahead.  The red-headed stranger, 78, has signed a new deal with Sony’s Legacy Recordings division that encompasses both new albums (with a total of five promised) and archival releases.  Nelson, one of the most prolific recording artists of any genre, has maintained a release schedule that would make many a younger man envious.  In 2011 alone, Nelson released one studio album and one live album, and saw collections from the many labels for whom he’d recorded.  The Legacy announcement indicates that Nelson will serve as curator of his catalog and “will work with label archivists to select recordings, including previously released and previously unreleased tracks, for release in newly compiled collections and as bonus material on new editions of existing titles.”

Recording for the Legacy imprint brings Nelson full circle.  Although the artist began his career at Liberty Records, the lengthiest stint of his early years was at RCA Victor.  That label’s catalogue is now controlled by Sony/Legacy, including Nelson’s 1964-1972 tenure.  After a brief sojourn to Atlantic, the singer’s 1975 Columbia release Red Headed Stranger kicked off a career renaissance.  The Columbia recordings, too, are under the aegis of Legacy.  It’s not hard to imagine a deluxe edition of that seminal LP.  The singer/songwriter had written concept albums before, including Phases and Stages, a chronicle of a marriage, in 1974 at Atlantic.  But even with its stark sound (the antithesis of RCA’s “countrypolitan” style) and raw story of a murderer on the run, Nelson’s conceptual work struck a chord with listeners.  Red Headed Stranger sold millions, produced a hit single in its cover of Fred Rose’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and put Nelson in the vanguard of the young Outlaw Country movement.  But Nelson never rested in one place for too long, using his freedom at Columbia to explore gospel, honky-tonk and finally, American popular standards with the epochal Stardust (1978).  It was only appropriate, though, as Nelson had added to that esteemed songbook himself with compositions like “Crazy,” “Hello Walls” and “Funny How Time Slips Away.”  He would remain with Columbia for roughly twenty years.

Hit the jump for more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 2, 2012 at 14:12

Finally, The Second Disc Has an Excuse to Address This Whole Lana Del Rey Thing

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Although we make our claim as tireless reporters on all things in the catalogue music world, we at Second Disc HQ are music lovers first and foremost, regardless of the era. So it gives me a bit of weird pleasure to speak a little bit out of the usual comfort zone for a second and talk about one of pop music’s weirdest current trend stories, which actually, tenuously, has some ties to our usual reportage.

If you’re a voracious consumer of all topics musical, you’ve probably read anywhere from one to a thousand words on Lana Del Rey, whose major label debut Born to Die was released this week. If you haven’t, here’s her story in a nutshell: her brooding, densely arranged pop and Nancy Sinatra by way of Nico vocals made her a darling of tastemaking blog Pitchfork last summer, when hypnotic single “Video Games” was released. In due time, a massive amount of backlash ensued: Del Ray was previously known as a more sensitive singer-songwriter type named Lizzy Grant, the daughter of a magnate in the Web domain name business (seriously, you can’t make this stuff up) before she changed her name (and, some would argue, her appearance, with a fuller set of pouty lips springing seemingly out of nowhere) and signed a deal with major label Interscope Records.

Over time, the backlash spun into a demented maelstrom of hype and antihype, the likes of which pop culture has arguably never seen. The U.K. embraced her almost immediately – “Video Games” peaked at No. 9 – while the music press continued shredding her for her appearance, her bizarre live stage presence (exemplified in a not-that-great performance on Saturday Night Live) and just about anything under the sun. The blog Hipster Runoff turned into a one-stop shop for all nutty analysis of Del Rey.

What made the whole ordeal maddening was twofold. First of all, the controversies were dissected far away from the eyes of mainstream music listeners. (Very few personal friends were fully aware of her existence until weeks after the discussion reached fever pitch.) Second, the discussion almost completely ignored the music, most of which was only partially heard through videos Del Rey uploaded to YouTube. Taking the music into consideration, it’s rough around the edges but not worth all the excoriation. In some places, it’s actually rather good – Del Rey’s shapeshifting voice and strangely evocative lyrics need some work, but the busy, hip-hop-lite arrangements and dreamy chord changes are signs of promise.

So what, then, does this have a damn thing to do with The Second Disc? It turns out the “first” Lana Del Rey – released in 2010 on the 5 Points label under “Lana Del Rey a.k.a. Lizzy Grant” – might be reissued some time this summer. (Del Rey bought back the album from the label, theoretically for the very purpose of giving Interscope something else to sell.) So hopefully everyone will have their opinions together on the new album by the time the old one comes back out.

Have you heard Del Rey’s new album? Does the amount of hoopla over the whole thing bother you? What do you think? The Lana Del Rey a.k.a. Lizzy Grant track list, with links to hear the songs, is after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 2, 2012 at 10:57

Been Down So Long: The Doors’ “L.A. Woman” Celebration Underway, Super Deluxe Edition Cancelled

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It’s finally time to open the doors on the much-anticipated 40th anniversary celebration of The Doors’ L.A. Woman.  We first reported on the L.A. Woman festivities back in April 2011, the actual month of the anniversary.  The band looked forward to the fall release of a deluxe edition of its acclaimed sixth and final album with Jim Morrison.  Then in September, we passed on an update from Jeff Jampol, the steward of The Doors’ legacy, announcing “The Year of the Doors” campaign and promising the L.A. Woman project for 2012.  At that point, it was envisioned as a 5-CD Super Deluxe Edition.  Soon, plans were reconfigured to offer a reasonably-priced 2-CD edition (the original album on Disc 1, and outtakes and alternates on Disc 2) and a 3-CD compendium of session material.  A Record Store Day-exclusive singles collection previewed the alternate material.  Well, the New Year has come, and in just two weeks, the first of the album’s related reissues arrives along with a documentary on its making.  Another vinyl release will follow, and the celebration will conclude with the 3-CD box set.

On January 24, Elektra and Rhino will release the 40th Anniversary Edition of L.A. Woman.  Its centerpiece can be found on Disc 2, a recently-discovered track entitled “She Smells So Nice,” which finds Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, John Densmore and Ray Manzarek jamming on an original melody before seguing into “Rock Me” and Morrison’s “Mr. Mojo Risin’” chant.   The second disc also presents eight previously-unissued alternate takes of the album’s songs such as “Love Her Madly” and “Riders on the Storm.”  It’s promised that “the studio chatter between the songs is a revelation, transporting listeners to The Doors Workshop: the West Hollywood rehearsal space where they recorded the album with [Bruce] Botnick. One segment in particular captures a fascinating moment of inspiration when Morrison suggests they add the now-iconic thunderstorm sound effects to the beginning of ‘Riders on the Storm’.”

The same date will bring Eagle Rock Entertainment’s release of Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story of L.A. Woman, featuring new interviews with the three surviving members of The Doors, as well as Bruce Botnick, Elektra founder Jac Holzman and others.  The documentary will be available on both DVD and Blu-Ray, and the discs will contain bonus material.

What’s next in the L.A. Woman brigade of releases?  Hit the jump, and you’ll find more information including full track listings for each of the planned titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 12, 2012 at 10:11

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

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As another year of amazing catalogue reissues and expansions comes to a close, and we gather around our loved ones to celebrate both a year gone by and a new one full of promise on the horizon, it seemed right to stop and take a moment to wish the same glad tidings to all of our treasured readers at The Second Disc.

Since starting the site in January of 2010 – can you believe it’s almost going on two years? – I’ve always worried about a lot of things, but none more potent than the idea that, without warning, we’d be out of things to write about. That each new week would suddenly not bring a fountain of catalogue news for us to share with you. Even though Joe and myself remain ever optimistic about a music industry in flux, there’s always a lingering fear that there will be less and less (and eventually next to nothing) to share. So far, that hasn’t happened, and that’s made me glad.

So first, a thanks to everyone at any label that’s contributed to the mighty work being done to keep catalogue music alive and interesting. The majors (Legacy Recordings, Rhino Records, Universal Music Enterprises/Hip-o Select, the catalogue department at EMI), the indies (Cherry Red, Light in the Attic, Omnivore, Friday Music, Ace, Real Gone, Funky Town Grooves, Iconoclassic, Demon Music Group and any others we’ve missed) and our beloved soundtrack labels (Intrada, Kritzerland, La La Land, Varese Sarabande and Film Score Monthly, who we will miss so much as a label next year): to all who work with and for these guys, from production to liner note writing to remastering to legal clearances to the pressing plants – everything that all of you do is important in keeping the history of music alive, and you have earned our thanks.

Next, a major thanks to the other writers out there who have linked to the site, told their friends about us, sent us tips and the like. Matt at MusicTAP, Gerry at Pause & Play and Matt at Slicing Up Eyeballs: you continue to inspire our approach to covering reissues. To my pop-cultural homes away from home, Popdose and Popblerd, and all who write for both – you guys are continually people I look up to. VVN Music and Ultimate Classic Rock are full of great reporting (a special thanks to Matt Wardlaw at Addicted to Vinyl pointing me in the direction of the latter), and I admire the work of Eric Luecking over at Record Racks and Vinny Vero on his own blog. A particular shout-out to Robert Galgano, who found The Second Disc interesting enough to interview Joe and myself for Patch.com about our work. (Rest assured we’ll link to that story the minute it’s live!) I’m probably forgetting tons more, but I admire so much of the music writing I come by day after day.

But absolutely none of this would be possible without you, the reader. I’ve said it a million times and I’m going to say it a million more. It’s your readership and dedication to what we do that’s enabled us to get better and better. I anticipate next year will see even more neat things like what we did with Second Discmas this year (make sure you’ve got your address to us at theseconddisc (at) gmail (dot) com if you’ve won!), plus more of the usual news, reviews, interviews and occasional opinions you’ve come to expect from us.

So thanks again, a happiest of holidays to you and yours, and we’ll see you back at full steam in the New Year!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 24, 2011 at 10:48

Thanks!

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With Thanksgiving approaching at Second Disc HQ, we’re doing what most folks are doing this weekend and engaging in radio silence, more or less. There might be a Friday Feature coming up, timed to one of the big, excellent new movies in theaters this weekend. And you’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for La-La Land Records, who will announce their last four catalogue soundtrack titles for the year at midnight (Pacific time) on Friday.

But in the meantime, we wanted to hang a sign at the top of the page reminding and informing you of some great catalogue-oriented things that you might want to think about this weekend:

  • Amazon’s lightning deals for this week, which began on Monday, include some great catalogue titles, both new and old. Sales are still going on every few hours through next Monday, so have a look and plan accordingly!
  • Similarly, our friends at PopMarket are also planning a day’s worth of lightning deals on box sets, vinyl titles and other collector’s sets on Black Friday. It’s worth noting that both Sony and Warner Music Group are now in on PopMarket’s deal-making ways, adding a little to the selections you’ll be able to enjoy. Here’s a list of all the deals going down on that day.
  • And of course, Black Friday means a second “Record Store Day” for 2011, with exclusive releases from The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, The Doors, Janis Joplin and many more hitting your local independent record retailer!  You can peruse our extensive list of these hot-ticket limited editions  here!

We’d like to take the opportunity to tease a few things going on closer to home that you and your music-loving friends won’t want to miss. First of all, starting Monday and taking us all the way to December 23, we’re engaging in one of the most unique features we’ve ever done: a comprehensive buyer’s guide to reissues based on Rolling Stone‘s list of the greatest albums ever made. The original list, published in 2003, covered 500 titles; we have cut them down to the top 100 and will provide you, our treasured readers, with a sort of ultimate edition of our Back Tracks feature, detailing every major reissue, remastering and expansion of these definitive rock albums. Consider it an all-in-one gift-giving idea for the major music geeks in your life.

Second of all, as we’ve hinted on our Facebook page (which, along with our Twitter feed, are prime Internet real estate to peruse and share when you’re not here!  And don’t forget to follow Mike and Joe on Twitter for more news and views!), we’ve got an awesome addition to the Christmas holidays this year. We’re calling it “Second Discmas,” and we’re going to be giving you more than just music news and features, but the actual gift of music itself! We’re working overtime with some of our favorite catalogue labels to bring you some awesome treats, so definitely keep an eye out for that.

Until things start going back to normal on Monday, enjoy some turkey, hug your loved ones, be safe if you go out to the malls on Friday, and above all, never forget to have some good music to keep you and yours company. This Thanksgiving, and every day of the year, we are thankful for you.

Written by Mike Duquette

November 24, 2011 at 12:01

Release Round-Up: Week of November 15

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A brief note before we kick off the Release Round-Up: first, an apology for missing the last one. And second, a moment of crowd-sourcing from you, our beloved readers. As nice a service as the Round-Up is, it also seems….boring. Do you agree? How might one change it up? Sound off in the comments.

The Who, Quadrophenia: The Director’s Cut (Geffen/UMe)

Four discs of Quadrophenia goodness: the remastered album, demos, vinyl, a book of liner notes and, heaven knows why, part of the album remixed in 5.1 surround.

Ray Charles, Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles (Concord)

Five discs of the Genius’ single sides of the ’60s and ’70s, including “Georgia on My Mind,” “One Mint Julep,” “Hit the Road Jack,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “America the Beautiful.”

Frank Sinatra, Best of the Best (Capitol/Reprise)

The first compilation to span the Chairman’s best-loved eras, available as a single-disc set or a deluxe set with a rare live show.

The Supremes, More Hits by the Supremes: Expanded Edition (Hip-o Select/Motown)

The original album in mono and stereo plus scores of rarities for the discerning fan.

R.E.M., Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1981-2011 (Warner Bros.)

The American rock legends put a period on the end of their career with their first double-disc compilation, spanning both the I.R.S. and Warner Bros. years.

Various Artists, Cameo-Parkway Holiday Hits (Real Gone)

Eighteen rockin’ holiday hits from Bobby Rydell, The Cameos and…Bob Seger? A must hear in a slightly weaker season for Christmas catalogue titles.

Wall of Voodoo, Lost Weekend: The Best of the I.R.S. Years (Varese Vintage)

The first career-spanning compilation from the “Mexican Radio” band, bringing a lot of latter-day tracks to CD that many have probably not heard much, if at all.

Original West End Cast, The Phantom of the Opera: 25th Anniversary Box Set (Decca)

The cast albums for Phantom and its not-nearly-as-good sequel, Love Never Dies, plus a bonus DVD.

Written by Mike Duquette

November 15, 2011 at 09:19

Weekend Straw Poll: One Box

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It almost goes without saying, but that U2 box has been a real hot topic among friends at The Second Disc.

This author has long held the belief that UMe’s U2 reissues, starting with the 20th anniversary package for The Joshua Tree in 2007 have been among the best expanded sets released by a major label. The packaging is detailed, the mastering is pretty good (details uncovered on audiophile CD versions of the early albums are replicated on the reissues) and the bonus content is a potent mix of non-LP material and discoveries from the vault. (Like it or not, that’s probably the best sort of configuration to appease both moderate collectors, new fans and die-hards.)

Achtung takes the cake over all of them, though. While the other reissues had deluxe components, often paired with DVDs in big-enough boxes, this set takes things to a new level with 10 discs – six CDs and four DVDs – of material. Whatever your take on the bonus material, it’s hard not to have an opinion on this set. (My main gripes? It’s certainly unfortunate that Zooropa was shoehorned into the box – I don’t see it as essential to the story of the album before it. Plus, did the other earlier albums – which make up my favorite of the band’s material – deserve this kind of royal treatment?)

Opinions aside, it’s what we express with our wallets that count the most. That leads us to this weekend’s poll: which set are you likely going to pick up this fall?

Written by Mike Duquette

August 5, 2011 at 15:12