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Release Round-Up: Week of March 5

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Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels

Jimi Hendrix, People, Hell & Angels / The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced (200-Gram Mono Vinyl) Axis: Bold As Love (200-Gram Mono Vinyl) (Experience Hendrix/Legacy)

Not only does today see the release of a new posthumous Hendrix compilation, comprised of newly unearthed outtakes from the vaults, but the original mono mixes of his first two LPs (including both U.S. and U.K. editions of Are You Experienced) make their first appearances on vinyl since their initial releases.  Read Joe’s review of People, Hell & Angels here!

People, Hell & Angels CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
People, Hell & Angels LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Are You Experienced LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Are You Experienced LP – U.K. sequence: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Axis: Bold As Love LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Otis Redding - Deepest Soul

Otis Redding, Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding (Stax/Concord)

A new “concept compilation” that explores Otis’ deep cuts in a decidedly retro fashion, down to the aged album jacket.  Read Joe’s review here!

Lonely and Blue CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Lonely and Blue LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.


André Cymone, AC: Expanded Edition (Funkytowngrooves)

This onetime Prince collaborator (whose big hit off this LP, “The Dance Electric,” was written and co-produced by Mr. Purple Rain himself) issues a double-disc edition of his last album for Columbia, featuring all the B-sides and remixes plus a slew of tracks from the vault. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Sheena Twofer 2

Sheena Easton, You Could Have Been with Me + Madness, Money and Music A Private Heaven + Do You (Edsel)

Two new two-disc sets compile four of the Scottish chanteuse’s albums from the ’80s, two of them sweet and poppy, another two more on the down ‘n’ dirty (and Prince-ly) side.

You Could Have Been…/Madness, Money…Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
A Private Heaven/Do YouAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

O'Jays - Ship Ahoy

Donna Allen, Perfect Timing / Black Slate, Amigo / Delegation, Deuces High / George McCrae, Diamond Touch / O’Jays, Ship Ahoy (Big Break)

Five newly expanded titles from BBR, anchored by a 40th anniversary edition of The O’Jays Ship Ahoy, which spun off Top 10 hits in “Put Your Hands Together” and “For the Love of Money.”

Donna Allen: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Black Slate: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Delegation: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
George McCrae: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
O’Jays: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Rock of the Westies Gold

Elton John, Rock of the Westies (24K Gold CD) / Scorpions, Virgin Killer (24K Gold CD) / Yes, Close to the Edge (SACD) / Rush, Counterparts (SACD) (Audio Fidelity)

The latest from Audio Fidelity: gold discs of Elton’s 1975 LP, featuring “Island Girl” and “Grow Some Funk of Your Own,” and the Scorpions’ fourth album (the one with that extremely not-work-safe cover, although this version does not replicate that image); plus hybrid SACDs from a prog band at the top of their game and a Canadian trio’s highest-charting album in America.

Elton: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Scorpions: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Yes: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Rush: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Written by Mike Duquette

March 5, 2013 at 10:52

Review: Otis Redding, “Lonely and Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding”

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Otis Redding - Deepest SoulPlease, let me sit down beside you…I’ve got something to tell you, you should know…

From the very first elongated cry of “please,” Otis Redding’s voice drips with pain, the kind of pain rendered impossible to keep underneath the surface.  The singer of “I Love You More Than Words Can Say” pleads, prods and cajoles, all the while at an utter loss.  This woman who haunts him, who lingers in his mind, seemingly can’t understand the depth of his affections.  Yet we the listeners certainly can feel the depth of Redding’s well of torment, channeled in just under three minutes of the song written by Redding’s Memphis compatriots Eddie Floyd and Booker T. Jones.  Redding, who perished tragically at the age of 26 in 1967, sang with an urgency that’s all too chilling in light of the tragedy that would take his life.  Yet in the world of Lonely and Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding, a new release from Concord Music Group on the Stax/Volt label, Redding is very much alive and well.

This intriguing collection has been packaged on CD in a mini-LP jacket, a replica of an album that never existed but might as well have.  Its twelve tracks are all tight, taut dramas, most in the three-minute range, some even shorter.  All are imbued with the singular voice of Otis Redding, not in his high-energy live performance mode as a soul shouter supreme, but rather in his most torrid, late-night mood.  Fully three-quarters of the songs were written, in whole or in part, by the artist himself, so this album-that-never-was-but-now-is shows off not only Otis the impassioned singer, but Otis the soulful songwriter.

The emphasis here is on lesser-known songs, derived from albums released both in Redding’s lifetime (1964’s Pain in My Heart and 1965’s immortal Otis Blue among them) and posthumously (1969’s Love Man, 1992’s Remember Me).  Most of the songs are directed at a member of the opposite sex; the singer needs the freedom only his lady can afford in “Free Me.”  She’s got him “chained and bound,” yet he still has to ponder, “Sometimes I wonder, do you really love me?”  Redding’s hoarse yelps always fill in the blanks.  In “Open the Door,” heard in the alternate “Skeleton Key” version, the down-and-out beggar implores, “Let me in,” but his increasingly-imperative cries might be falling on deaf ears.  Steamy brass stabs accentuate Otis’ cries on this track and elsewhere; the horns almost appear to taunt the singer.  There’s not a lot of sweetness here; Redding was famously among the most raw of the southern soul men, his vocal cry a piercingly honest one.  In “A Waste of Time,” Redding personalizes his own song.  Again aiming the song at a lover, he declares himself by name as “the biggest fool,” ad libbing asides as the band keeps on cookin’ to boiling point: “If you don’t want me, mama, don’t just leave me hangin’…”  The track fades out, but it’s impossible not to wish we’d been able to hear this soliloquy, in all its increasing fervor, till the very end.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

March 5, 2013 at 09:56

Posted in Compilations, Otis Redding, Reissues, Reviews

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Otis Redding’s “Deepest Soul” Explored on New Concept Album

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Otis Redding - Deepest SoulWhen is a lost album not a lost album?

In the case of Lonely and Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding, the answer is, “when the album has been created in 2013 to look, sound and feel like a Stax/Volt release from almost five decades prior!”  On March 5, Stax and Concord Records will release this newly-created concept album of the late soul shouter’s most torrid ballads on both CD and a special blue vinyl LP.

Compilation producer David Gorman set out with one goal in mind: “to find the saddest, most potently heartbreaking songs [Otis] ever sang, with no regard for chart position or notoriety. There are a few hits on the album, but they’re there because they fit the mood, not because we wanted to include the hits.”  In that category, you’ll find such all-time standards as “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “These Arms of Mine.”  Among the lesser-known tracks selected for inclusion in the 14-song set: “Gone Again,” “Little Ol’ Me” and “Everybody Makes a Mistake.”  In the case of “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” the version selected features different lyrics from the familiar recording.  “Open the Door” is heard in its “Skeleton Key Version.”

The design and execution of the package was foremost on the producer’s mind.  To that end, the press release notes that the “typography, color palette and layout are all meant to adhere to the Stax/Volt LP designs of the time.  The liner notes, too, are written in the present tense by a fictitious DJ commenting on Redding in his prime.  The LP jacket will be “aged,” too, to resemble a vintage, oft-played album with the wear and tear that might have resulted.  “The goal,” commented Gorman, “was to create the best album Otis never made and ‘reissue’ it in 2013 rather than do another hits compilation. We hope this album will reframe him as something more than an oldies radio staple and become his Night Beat [Sam Cooke’s atmospheric 1963 classic]— the album that exists as a starting point for people wondering why so many consider Otis Redding the greatest soul singer of all time.”

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

Written by Joe Marchese

January 17, 2013 at 09:59

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Ace Compiles Otis Redding Songbook, Louisiana R&B and King’s Northern Soul

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Ace Records has long been, well, aces where soul music is concerned.  Three recent releases have arrived courtesy of the Ace and Kent labels, and connoisseurs, collectors and casual fans alike will all find plenty to enjoy on these incendiary new compilations.

The rich recorded legacy of black artists has been a cornerstone of the Kent soul and R&B library.  Kent launched a “Black America Sings…” series with titles dedicated to the Lennon and McCartney and Bob Dylan songbooks, a sort of companion to the label’s Songwriters and Producers series.  With a new installment, Kent turns its attention to another singer/songwriter: Otis Redding.  Hard to Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding brings together 25 sides of simmering soul, with every track written or co-written by the late Redding.  Naturally, the most famous recording of Redding’s most famous song is here: Aretha Franklin’s 1967 “Respect.”  The song earned both Franklin and Redding their first pop chart-topper and remains a cornerstone of the pop and soul songbooks today.  Not far behind is “(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay,” a posthumous success for Redding following his untimely death in a December 1968 plane crash, and heard here via the Staple Singers in a Stax recording produced by the song’s co-writer Steve Cropper.  James Carr takes on another iconic Redding composition, “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” in a 1977 recording for Goldwax, and William Bell offers “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)” in a 1967 Stax rendition.  You’ll also hear performances from soul royalty like Judy Clay, Maxine Brown, Irma Thomas, Percy Sledge, Arthur Conley, and Lou Rawls, and Kent has gone the extra mile (as usual!) with the inclusion of three previously unreleased tracks: Mitty Collier’s “I’m Missing You,” as recorded for Chess, Conley’s “A Year, A Month and a Day” from the Atco vaults, and Take 2 of Redding’s own Volt recording of “Loving By the Pound.”  Otis Redding is well remembered today for his scorching soul vocals, but Hard to Handle is a reminder of the man’s titanic gifts as a songwriter whose compositions were supremely adaptable in the pop, soul, funk and R&B idioms.  Indeed, some songs here were never recorded by Otis, so here’s a chance that shouldn’t be passed up to check them all out.

Another long-running series is continued with the third volume of King Northern Soul.  Volume Two arrived in 2001, but producer Ady Croasdell has located another 24 rare tracks from the vaults of the company that James Brown called home.  These tracks date from 1962-1973 and feature some of King’s brightest performers along with those on associated labels DeLuxe, Federal and Hollywood.  Naturally, Brown and his associated acts are represented in various capacities on the 24-track disc; JB co-wrote Charles Spurling’s “That’s My Zone (He’s Pickin’ On),” and The Brownettes’ “Baby, Don’t You Know.”  Marva Whitney is heard on Hank Ballard’s “Unwind Yourself,” and Ballard himself is represented with Rudy (“Good Lovin’”) Clark’s “I’m Just a Fool (and Everybody Knows)” produced by Steve Venet for Screen Gems but released on King!  Stax favorite “Packy” Axton appears via L.H. and the Memphis Sounds’ “Out of Control,” the Memphis Sounds being Packy’s group and L.H. being one L.H. White.  Billy Cox, of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, accompanies Hal Hardy on 1967’s “House of Broken Hearts.”  These funky and incredibly rare Northern Soul floor-fillers have been annotated by Croasdell for this volume, which will surely leave you wanting more!

After the jump: we go Boppin’ by the Bayou, and have track listings and order links for all three titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 20, 2012 at 09:55

The Second Disc’s Record Store Day 2012 Essential Releases

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Well, Record Store Day is finally upon us!  Tomorrow, Saturday, April 21, music fans and collectors will descend upon their local independent record stores to celebrate both the sounds on those black platters and the cherished physical shopping environments alike.  As Record Store Day 2012 will offer a typically eclectic array of limited edition releases (primarily on vinyl but also some on CD, too!) from many of our favorite artists here at Second Disc HQ, we thought we would take a moment to count down the titles to which we’re most looking forward!  I’ll take my turn first, and then after the jump, you’ll find Mike’s picks for some of the finest offerings you might find at your local retailer!  And after you’ve picked up your share of these special collectibles, don’t hesitate to browse the regular racks, too…you never know what you might find!

You’ll find more information and a link to a downloadable PDF of the complete Record Store Day list here, and please share your RSD 2012 experiences with us below.  Happy Hunting!

5.            Miles Davis, Forever Miles (Columbia/Legacy)

This five-track collection spotlights various eras of the legendary trumpeter via alternate takes and rare mixes new to vinyl plus a previously unreleased live recording.  It adds up to a sonic journey through the many iterations of jazz itself.  From the fifties comes a 1956 take of “Dear Old Stockholm” with John Coltrane and the first take of 1957’s “Blues for Pablo” with Gil Evans.  “Hand Jive” is an alternate from the Miles Davis Quintet box chronicling Davis’ “Second Great Quintet” of 1965-1968.  A new mix of “Early Minor” from the In a Silent Way box (1969) rounds out the set along with a previously unreleased “Directions”  from 1970 at The Fillmore East.


4.            David Bowie, Starman (Virgin)

Remember the picture disc?  Virgin Records brings it back with this 45 RPM single containing two versions of David Bowie’s “Starman,” off The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, soon to be celebrating its 40th anniversary with a new CD/DVD edition.  Bowie, in his most far-out garb, adorns the vinyl, on which you’ll hear both the original song and a live Top of the Pops performance!

3.            The Mynah Birds, It’s My Time/Go On and Cry (Motown)

It might be difficult to resist an offering from Neil Young or Rick James, but how about a 45 RPM single from a band which counted both gentlemen among its members?  The single “It’s My Time” b/w “Go On and Cry” was slated for 1966 release on Motown’s V.I.P. imprint, but was shelved until 2006’s Complete Motown Singles Volume 6 box set arrived.  Now, six years later, the single comes full circle and finally gets its intended vinyl pressing.  Get it while you can!

2.            Various Artists, Never To Be Forgotten – The Flip Side of Stax 1968-1974 (Light in the Attic)

Light in the Attic has pulled out all of the stops for this Record Store Day crown jewel: a 7” vinyl box set containing ten singles from the Stax library circa 1968-1974!  Artists include Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Mable John, Melvin Van Peebles and the Mad Lads, and their singles are housed in a stunning 10 x 7” magnetic flip-top box which also contains an 84-page book.  Though a digital edition was released last week, no CD version has been announced, so vinyl is truly the best option to experience these seldom-heard Stax sides.  And who could resist that book?  You might also want to check out LITA’s new Lee Hazlewood compilation, The LHI Years!  It arrives soon on CD, but is making an early appearance on vinyl as part of the RSD festivities!

1.            Buck Owens, Coloring Book and Flexi Disc (Omnivore)

Were there prizes awarded for Most Creative and Most Fun Releases this year at Record Store Day, the top honors would surely go to the team at Omnivore Recordings!  They’ve given nostalgia a new meaning with the release of the Buck Owens Coloring Book and Flexi Disc.  The country star and Hee Haw host planned to release his official coloring book in 1970, but instead, the books languished in a warehouse.  Omnivore to the rescue!  The clever label has bundled one of these original Owens treasures with a newly-pressed flexi-disc (available in red, white or blue, natch). The coloring book tells the story of Buck and his Buckaroos, with the grand finale a concert performance that can be heard on the flexi-disc. “Act Naturally,” “Together Again,” “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail” and “Crying Time” are all mentioned in the coloring book and can be played by you, the reader! All four songs come from Owens’ White House performance on September 9, 1968 before President Lyndon B. Johnson. A digital download card also contains all four songs, and the full concert will be released later this year on CD from Omnivore.  In the meantime, this unique offering just might make you join me in shouting, “Hee haw!”

Hit the jump for Mike’s top picks! Read the rest of this entry »

Bowie, McCartney, Joplin, Springsteen, Clash, Davis, Small Faces, More Lead Record Store Day Pack

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We’re just three weeks away from Record Store Day on April 21, and following individual announcements from fantastic labels like Omnivore Recordings, Concord Records, Sundazed Music and Rhino/Warner Bros., we can finally reveal the full line-up of RSD-related goodies!

These limited editions, available at independent music retailers across the U.S. and even internationally, are primarily vinyl releases in various formats (7-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, etc.) and range from replicas of classic albums to EPs and singles premiering exclusive content.  Some of our favorite artists here at TSD HQ are represented, including David Bowie, James Brown, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Lee Hazlewood, Janis Joplin, Buck Owens, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Bruce Springsteen, and even the “odd couple” pairing of Neil Young and Rick James as members of Motown’s The Mynah Birds!  All told, there’s plenty for fans of rock, pop and jazz on offer this year!

Without further ado, hit the jump for our exhaustive list of RSD releases related to the catalogue artists we celebrate each and every day here at The Second Disc.  For those in need of a checklist, you can find a downloadable PDF here of the complete list, and this official Record Store Day list also includes all of the releases of a more recent vintage.  Sound off below on which title you are most eagerly awaiting, and thanks for supporting your local independent record retailer! Read the rest of this entry »

Guitars A Go-Go: “Fender: The Golden Age” and Jerry Cole’s “Psychedelic Guitars” Celebrated by Ace

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If you’ve got guitars on the mind, look no further than a pair of new releases from those compilation experts at the Ace label!  Fender: The Golden Age 1950-1970 (Ace CDCHD 1315) is a new 28-track anthology that manages to be both comprehensive and the tip of the iceberg, where the famous guitar is concerned!  A new companion to the 2010 book of almost the same name (Fender: The Golden Age 1946-1970 by Martin Kelly), this set offers a rare chance to appreciate both the talent on the record label and those axemen lending support.  And if Psychedelic Guitars are your bag, you’ll want to pick up the third installment of Ace’s series devoted to the sixties recordings of Jerry Cole.  Derived from Cole’s work on the Crown and Custom labels, Psychedelic Guitars surveys both appropriately trippy originals and well-chosen covers from the likes of Jimmy Webb and Jimi Hendrix.

Are you experienced?  Jerry Cole certainly was.  A veteran session man, his guitar graced countless budget titles in a variety of genres, from country to rock to even the obligatory Tijuana Brass tribute!  Ace’s series of Cole releases has separated the wheat from the chaff, and revealed that great music can be found in the unlikeliest of places.  For Psychedelic Guitars, the label has included 24 tracks from six albums on which Cole – in a variety of guises including The Generation Gap, The Stone Canyon Rock Group and my personal favorite, T Swift and the Electric Bag – was supported by Wrecking Crew stalwarts Don Randi, Steve Douglas and Leon Russell.  Under his own name, Cole recorded for Capitol, and even joined the Wrecking Crew for hitmaking sessions with Phil Spector and Brian Wilson.  He found plenty of business, however, with budget labels eager to jump on whatever musical bandwagon happened to be passing by.  In 1967, that bandwagon was psychedelia.

It’s hard to decide what’s groovier here: the music or the fantastically colorful LP covers reproduced in Ace’s 12-page booklet.  But I’ll give the edge to the fuzz- and feedback-laden music, as selected by compiler and annotator Mike Vernon.  Jimi Hendrix is name-checked on “Our Man Hendrix,” a funky little workout attributed to The Projection Company which doesn’t quite recall its namesake despite some sizzling work from Cole.  Hendrix recurs with a spacey and super-charged cover of “Are You Experienced,” which also gave the title to the T. Swift and the Electric Bag album!  Other than a few well-selected covers including a smoking instrumental take on The Box Tops’ “The Letter,” though, Cole wrote most of the (infectious!) material here.  There’s a great organ-and-guitar freak-out on “What’s Your Bag” from T. Swift, and “Kimeaa” bears a strong Eastern influence.  Cole channels a bit of the style of Wes Montgomery on The Projection Company’s “Tune Out of Place.”

There are even some vocal showcases, including “Are You Experienced.”  “Wild Times” from the Stone Canyon Rock Group and the trippy, drawled “High on Love” from The Generation Gap are akin to acid-tinged country-rock.  There’s an MOR vocal cover of Jimmy Webb’s epic “MacArthur Park” that closes out the compilation; it’s too bad that Webb’s “Up, Up and Away” (which lent another Cole LP its title!) didn’t make the cut here, although Vernon’s liner notes describe it as “quite dreadful.”  Yikes!  The rendition of “Gimme Some Lovin’” offers a nice variation on the original and the original “I Can’t Stand It” could have been a radio hit in its own right.

What stands out about all of these tracks is the sheer musicianship and adventurous spirit of Jerry Cole.  Hit the jump to join a number of Fender’s most illustrious guitar-pickers! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 16, 2012 at 10:13

Warner Waxes Nostalgic for Record Store Day

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Believe it or not, Record Store Day is almost upon us. (It’s April 21 – just over a month away!) We’ve been anxiously awaiting word from the labels on what’s coming out this year, and it looks like Warner Music Group is one of the first to the scene.

While there’s not much in the way of unreleased goodies on the catalogue side of things – there are certainly plenty new or unearthed songs from current acts, which you can read about here – there are a couple of vintage and contemporary classics bowing or reappearing on LP, and as catalogue enthusiasts it would be the right thing to pass the news along to you.

Interestingly, there seem to be a repeat in the mix: Eric Clapton’s Blues box set, which we covered last year, is down to under 1,000 copies, having sold at RSD’s Black Friday event in November.

But everything else old is looking pretty new otherwise. What will Warner offer?

  • There’s going to be a neat 3 CD/1 DVD box set from Wilco and Billy Bragg commemorating the 1998 album Mermaid Avenue. The acclaimed disc featured new musical compositions from Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and British alt-rocker Bragg, featuring unpublished lyrics by folk legend Woody Guthrie. The box will feature a remaster of the original album, 2000’s Mermaid Avenue Vol. II, a previously-unreleased third disc of material and the 1999 documentary Man in the Sand, chronicling these sessions.
  • Commemorating a decade of metal group Disturbed, Warner will release The Collection, a box set of all of their albums – The Sickness (2000) and the No. 1 albums Believe (2002), Ten Thousand Fists (2005), Indestructible (2008) and Asylum (2010) – on 140-gram vinyl with specially-designed artwork. This box is limited to 2,500 copies.
  • Fleetwood Mac’s classic, self-titled 1975 album will be pressed as a special limited edition vinyl, following a similar reissue for Rumours last year. The album that introduced Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham to the group featured hits in “Rihannon,” “Say You Love Me” and more. The discs, cut at Bernie Grundman Mastering from the original analog tapes, will be mastered at 33 1/3 RPM and 45 RPM.
  • Metallica’s Beyond Magnetic EP – consisting of four outtakes from 2008’s Death Magnetic – was released digitally last year and now gets its first release on silver vinyl.
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ hit Stadium Arcadium (2009) is being remastered for vinyl by Steve Hoffman, in honor of the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  • Finally, arguably the best gem of Warner’s “Side by Side” 7″ single series (pairing an original hit with a new or rare cover) would be a gold-colored 45 featuring, for the first time together, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin’s versions of “Respect.”

Again, keep it tuned in here as more RSD reports come in, and save your pennies, because April 21 is here before you know it!

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 6 (#75-71)

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The hits just keep on coming! The latest part of our TSD Buyers Guide, which counts the reissues of the albums in Rolling Stone‘s 100 greatest albums of all time (as selected in 2003), features some classic hard rock and soul and a lot of CD pressings (if not as many bonus tracks in this batch). We begin below with one of the heaviest albums of all time!

75. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic, 1969)

Led Zeppelin II is arguably the band’s heaviest and rawest work in studio, in part because it was recorded almost on the run between tour dates. And yet, it never sounded ragged, thanks to a myriad of factors, chiefly guitarist Jimmy Page’s increasing proficiency as a producer and the mixing talents of Eddie Kramer to give the proceedings some consistency. The band’s writing was fresh and spontaneous; song ideas were often born during onstage jams and remembered  when it came time to come back in the studio. But when the album kicked The Beatles’ Let It Be out of the top of the Billboard charts, and single “Whole Lotta Love” climbed to the Top 5, it was clear that this wasn’t just dumb luck at play – this was the beginning of a bold new movement in rock and roll.

Led Zeppelin II‘s first appearance outside of its standard LP was a half-speed-mastered audiophile pressing by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 1982 (MFSL 1-065); it was followed up eight years later by the premiere release CD (Atlantic 19127-2) mastered for CD by Barry Diament. Those original CDs were roundly criticized by audiophiles for being mastered not from the original tapes, but from vinyl masters instead. Jimmy Page personally oversaw a remastering of the catalogue with George Marino at Sterling Sound, the final products of which became the basis for several box sets, including the iconic 1990 box set (Atlantic 7 82144-2) and its 1993 sequel (Atlantic 7 82477-2), the 1990 two-disc compilation Remasters (Atlantic 7 80415-2), 1993’s The Complete Studio Recordings (Atlantic 7 82526-2) – which sequenced all the material from the two box sets (including the bonus material) into their original running orders over ten discs. (The LZ II remaster was released on its own in 1994, as Atlantic 82633-2.) These same masters were used for Japanese SHM-CD remasters (Atlantic WPCR-11612, 2003 and WPCR-13131, 2008) that were compiled into another box set in 2008 (The Definitive Collection – Atlantic WPCR-13142; later released on standard CDs in America as Atlantic R2 513820).

74. Otis Redding, Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (Volt, 1965)

With his third album, Otis Redding proved himself a pioneer of soul and a chief architect of the white-hot Stax/Volt sound that’s set music geeks’ hearts aflutter for a half-century. Although much of the material was covers, from The Rolling Stones (“Satisfaction”) and The Temptations (“My Girl”) to B.B. King (“Rock Me Baby”) and Sam Cooke (“Shake,” “Wonderful World,” “A Change is Gonna Come”), that pleading vocal style, coupled with one of the greatest backing bands ever (guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, Isaac Hayes on keyboards and drums from Al Jackson, Jr.), made them sound as original as anything Otis had ever done on record before. And the two originals – the weary “Ole Man Trouble” and the unforgettable “Respect” (later an anthem for another member of soul’s royal family) – are definitive chapters in the book of rhythm and blues.

Otis Blue made its CD debut in 1991, remastered by – as would be custom for many Rhino-friendly titles – Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch at DigiPrep (ATCO 7 80318-2). A gold disc (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDCD 575) followed two years later. Then, in 2008, Rhino expanded Otis Blue in a big way, as a two-disc collector’s set (Rhino R2 422140) that offered both mono and stereo mixes of the album (the latter making its CD debut and featuring alternate versions of some of the tracks on the more widely heard mono version), various alternates and remixes and a host of live material taken in part from several previously available on CD live albums.

From blue, we’re going to black, purple and gold after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 5, 2011 at 12:00

Music Club Deluxe U.K. Preps Double-Disc Compilations for Redding, Cross, Foreigner

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Music Club Deluxe, part of the U.K.’s Demon Music Group, has prepped a trio of new budget-minded, double-disc sets for a few legendary artists.

While there’s nothing new on the forthcoming compilations by dearly departed soul legend Otis Redding, soft-rock maestro Christopher Cross and platinum-selling hard rock band Foreigner (and only one general rarity among any of the three – a non-LP B-side closing out the Foreigner set), their two-disc running times and decent price tag might be of interest to first-time fans in British record shops.

Each set hits England on June 20 and a week later as U.S. imports. Hit the jump for order links and discographical information!

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Written by Mike Duquette

May 12, 2011 at 10:07