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Bring the Noise! Public Enemy’s Landmark “It Takes a Nation of Millions” to Be Expanded

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PublicLast year, UMe demanded that listeners “Respect the Classics” with a new series of multi-format reissues dedicated to landmark hip-hop albums from the vaults of labels including Def Jam, Interscope, Priority and Virgin.  One of last year’s releases was an LP reissue of Public Enemy’s 1988 release It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.  On November 24, Def Jam will revisit that title once again with a 2-CD/1-DVD expanded reissue.

The second album by hip hop group Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions only peaked at No. 42 on the Billboard 200, but has since been recognized as one of the most influential albums in the hip-hop genre.  With lead MC Chuck D ratcheting up the group’s social commentary via his pointed lyrics, It Takes a Nation took a cue from Marvin Gaye’s seminal What’s Going On and attracted attention from the mainstream that Public Enemy’s 1987 debut failed to receive.  It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Black Albums list and made a Top 10 placement in the U.K. pop chart, as well.  The LP has since been declared platinum and has been considered in some quarters to be the greatest hip-hop album of all time.

It Takes a Nation of Millions was the result of extensive preproduction.  Rather than touring with the rest of the group Eric “Vietnam” Sadler and Hank Shocklee remained in the studio shaping the material for the Nation of Millions album, readying tracks for Chuck D and Flavor Flav’s return.  Produced by production team The Bomb Squad (including Chuck D) under the auspices of executive producer Rick Rubin, the sixteen tracks on It Takes a Nation blended rap with funk, electronica, pop, soul and rock influences to create a singular aural assault.  Music from the album has since been sampled by artists of various genres such as The Beastie Boys, The Game, Jay Z, Jurassic 5, Madonna and My Bloody Valentine.

After the jump, we have details on what you can expect from this set, plus pre-order links and the full track listing with discography!

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Written by Joe Marchese

November 20, 2014 at 10:32

Posted in DVD, News, Public Enemy, Reissues

UMe’s Record Store Day Slate Features Nirvana, Frank Zappa, Classic Blue Note, Motown Funk and More

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38640_01_Jacket.inddWith Public Enemy’s Chuck D engaged as the Record Store Day Ambassador for 2014, it’s only appropriate that one of his own records is arriving this Saturday as a special limited edition vinyl platter. The new reissue of Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back will be joined on RSD by a host of other vinyl goodies from Universal Music Enterprises (UMe).   Previously unreleased music from Frank Zappa (previewing the upcoming 40th anniversary reissue of Apostrophe) and the seventies Motown pair of Rick James and Teena Marie will arrive from Universal, along with replicas of the first two releases ever from the venerable Blue Note Records, currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. New Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Nirvana make their mark on RSD with the first-ever seven-inch release of “Pennyroyal Tea” b/w “I Hate Myself and Want to Die,” originally scheduled for release in 1994 but pulled off the schedule in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Universal also has a special vinyl box, Superunknown: The Singles, commemorating the 20th anniversary of Soundgarden’s Superunknown.

Hit the jump for the full specs on each title courtesy of Universal’s original press release!

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Written by Joe Marchese

April 17, 2014 at 14:07

UMe Says “Respect the Classics” with Hip-Hop Reissue Series

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Respect the ClassicsPerhaps no genre is as underrepresented in the catalogue world as modern hip-hop. Remastered and expanded editions are hard to come by, for whatever reason – be it sample clearance, market demand and the like. Universal Music Enterprises is doing their best to change that this year with a new wave of multi-format reissues called “Respect the Classics.”

“Respect the Classics” draws from critically-acclaimed titles in the Def Jam, Interscope, Priority, and Virgin Records discographies and represses them on CD or vinyl. Thus far, UMe’s reissued N.W.A.’s 1987 debut N.W.A. and The Posse on CD and their seminal Straight Outta Compton (1988) on 180-gram vinyl. They’ve also re-released two N.W.A. solo albums: Eazy-E’s Eazy-Duz-It (1988) gets the CD and LP treatment, while Ice Cube’s 1990 debut AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted is reissued on vinyl.

Most exciting for expanded reissue fans is a 25th anniversary edition of EPMD’s Strictly Business on CD. It’s appended with five bonus tracks, including remixes of “I’m Housin’,” “You Gots to Chill,” “You’re a Customer” and “It’s My Thing.” Eazy-Duz-It also features two bonus 12″ mixes on CD.

Three more waves of “Respect the Classics” reissues are planned for 2013, with eight more titles announced, as well:

  • October 22: DMX’s It’s Dark and Hell is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, both released in 1998, will get double-vinyl reissues on gold and blood-splatter colored vinyl, respectively.
  • November 12: Two Def Jam classics from 1988, Slick Rick’s The Great Adventures of Slick Rick and Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, will be reissued on vinyl. Additionally, 50 Cent’s 2003 debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ will receive a double-vinyl reissue.
  • December 13: Gang Starr’s seminal Step in the Arena (1991) gets a vinyl reissue, while hardcore group Onyx’s debut Bacdafucup (1993) is reissued on CD.
  • 2014: a host of vinyl reissues for modern hip-hop classics from the late ’90s and 2000s, including Tupac Shakur’s Greatest Hits (1998), Eminem’s major-label debut The Slim Shady LP (1999), Common’s acclaimed Like Water for Chocolate (2000), N.E.R.D.’s In Search of… (2001 – UMe indicates this will be a double-vinyl title, likely based on the 2002 rock-oriented mix/pressing), both albums by Eminem side-project D12 (Devil’s Night (2001) and D12 World (2004)), Lil Wayne’s The Carter (2004), and Kanye West’s polarizing electronic venture 808s & Heartbreak (2008).

In the meantime, keep checking UMe’s official Respect the Classics page for updates and trivia, and hit the jump for all the available titles. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 18, 2013 at 10:03

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 11 (#50-46)

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And so starts the second half of our 100 Greatest Reissues feature! We’ve taken Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 greatest albums of all time from 2003 and scoured the history of each one on compact disc, making note of masterings, packaging and bonus tracks wherever possible. These next five are some of the definitive statements in their respective genres, from rock to rap to reggae to jazz; we’re sure there’s something for everyone in this entry!

50. Little Richard, Here’s Little Richard (Specialty, 1957)

With a handful of nonsensical syllables – “A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bop-bop” – Richard Penniman helped shape rock and roll forever. Two years of killer singles and definitive performances of the genre culminated in Here’s Little Richard, his first long-playing record. (Believe it or not, it was one of his only for Specialty Records; after another self-titled album the next year, he would turn his back on rock for gospel music, and would spend much of his career between the two.) In addition to “Tutti Frutti,” key tracks included “Rip It Up,” “Ready Teddy” and the equally iconic “Long Tall Sally.”

Despite its deserved status in the rock canon, Here’s Little Richard is sort of a subdued title on CD. First released by beloved U.K. label Ace in the late ’80s (CDCHM 128), that release remains in print. A Mobile Fidelity hybrid SACD release (UDSACD 2028, 2006) paired Here’s Little Richard with its self-titled follow-up; both are found together on CD in this set by the import Hoodoo label. (A Mobile Fidelity vinyl pressing – MFSL 1-287 – also exists.) Completists will want to check out two boxes entitled The Specialty Sessions that exhaustively chronicle this fertile period in rock history: a hard-to-find six-disc version by Ace (ABOXCD 1, 1989) and a slightly easier-to-find triple-disc set on Specialty 8508, released a year later.

49. The Allman Brothers Band, At Fillmore East (Capricorn, 1971)

On the surface, The Allman Brothers looked like your typical Southern-fried rock band. Digging deeper, though, they were a strong band with deep connections to each other onstage. Their work over two nights at the Fillmore East in March of 1971 suggests a jazz collective as much as good ol’ boys, and the subsequent live album, with its insanely prodigious extended jams (some stretching all the way to 20 minutes), was one to listen to no matter how much you liked country. The Fillmore shows also proved ripe for the group’s subsequent album, Eat a Peach – which featured extras from the shows (including the half-hour “Mountain Jam,” extended over two sides of vinyl!) – as well as the sound systems of fans everywhere, with the alternately mixed and edited quadrophonic pressings of the album serving as a treat to early adopter audiophiles.

The first CD release of At Fillmore East was a double-disc set in Europe on Polydor (823 273-2) in 1986. Dennis M. Drake receives digital mastering credit. In 1989, the Dreams box set (Polydor 839 417-2) featured two tracks from the original LP (“Whipping Post” and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”), as remixed from the quadrophonic masters. It also included an unreleased track from those March 13-14 shows, “Drunken Hearted Boy.” The Fillmore tracks from At Fillmore East, Eat a Peach and Dreams, along with one other track (“Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” first released on 1972’s Duane Allman: An Anthology), were re-edited and remixed for 1992’s The Fillmore Concerts (Polydor 314 517 294-2); that same year, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab remastered the original album on two gold CDs (UDCD 2-558).

In 1997, the original album, remastered by Suha Gur, was released on CD as Capricorn 314 531 260-2. The next year, a DTS CD (DTS Entertainment 710215 4410 2 3) provided the first CD edition of the album with the original quadrophonic mix. Gur remixed and remastered the Fillmore material yet again for a Deluxe Edition (again, with one more track, “Midnight Rider” from Duane Allman: An Anthology II). That set (Mercury B0000401-02, 2003) was followed a year later by a hybrid SACD version (Mercury B0000400-36) of the original album – the final word, for now.

After the jump, it’s all about the rhythm and the rebel, in more ways than one!

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 12, 2011 at 17:31

Reissue Theory: – Public Enemy, “Fear of a Black Planet”

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Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Fear of a Black Planet, the third album by hip-hop legends Public Enemy. Billboard did a great write-up about the album’s impact after two decades, which dovetails rather interestingly into a highly-recommended recent documentary I had the pleasure to see last week. The film, Copyright Criminals, is a thought-provoking look into the rise of sampling in music and the ongoing legal challenges faced by samplers.

Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, as well as members of production team The Bomb Squad and media assassin Harry Allen, are quoted heavily in the doc, which does a good job of reminding you how shockingly unique the P.E./Bomb Squad sound was at the turn of the ’80s. The thicket of samples throughout the record, combined with those unmistakable rhymes by Chuck D. and Flavor Flav, create an urgent, bold, angry sound. But one should not misinterpret the meaning of “angry” – it’s not meant to invoke images of black militants. The best rappers during the early ’90s had this overall sound that evoked rebellion against the status quo. You can hear it in the lyrical delivery as well as the musical background – but if you’re listening right, you don’t feel scared but empowered, ready to take on the world with music as your weapon.

That’s what P.E. did to stunning effect during their near-flawless tenure at Def Jam. Of course, planning a reissue of any of their classic albums would be a holy terror for lawyers everywhere. Would all of those samples, then uncredited, have to clear with other labels? Would the group – no fan of their former corporate overlords at the new Def Jam, now part of Universal Music Group – be willing to play fair with the suits? Would there even be enough material to fit a bonus disc? (None of it would fit on one disc, next to the hour-long album.)

But the idea of a CD/DVD version – viewable after the jump – might be a fitting tribute to the group – and the beats – that made hip-hop such a cultural force. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 16, 2010 at 10:47

Posted in Features, Public Enemy, Reissues

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