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The Second Disc’s Record Store Day 2014 Must-Haves

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RSD '14 Banner

If you’ve been following these pages for the past few weeks, you’ve likely noticed an awful lot of coverage about Record Store Day!  Well, the day is nearly here!   Tomorrow, Saturday, April 21, music fans and collectors will flock to their local independent record stores to celebrate both the sounds on those round black platters and the very concept of shopping in a physical retail environment. To many of us, both are a way of life.  We’re doubly excited this year because one special title was co-produced by our very own Mike D.: Legacy Recordings’ Ecto-Green glow-in-the-dark vinyl single containing four versions of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters.”

Each year around this time, we here at Second Disc HQ take a few moments to count down the titles to which we’re most looking forward to picking up! I’ll take my turn first, and then after the jump, you’ll find my colleague’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…there’s likely even more treasure awaiting you.

You’ll find more information and a link to a downloadable PDF of the complete Record Store Day list right here, and please share your RSD 2014 experiences with us below. Don’t forget to click on the Record Store Day tag below, too, to access all of our RSD ’14 coverage.  Happy Hunting!

Pink Panther OST

  1. Henry Mancini and His Orchestra, The Pink Panther LP (RCA/Legacy Recordings)

On April 16, 2014, the great composer/conductor Henry Mancini would have turned 90.  To mark the occasion, the all-new HenryMancini.com was launched, and Legacy announced plans for a yearlong celebration of the maestro’s enduring, engaging ouevre.  The label has major plans including an 11-CD box set of Mancini’s soundtracks as well as a newly-curated retrospective, but the festivities kick off on Saturday with the release on eye-catching pink vinyl of Mancini’s original album of music from Blake Edwards’ all-time classic comedy caper The Pink Panther.

This soundtrack album (slated for expansion later this year for the movie’s 50th anniversary) was, as per Mancini’s custom, a re-recording of the film’s major themes for the record-buying audience. In addition to the now-famous, sly ‘n’ slinky title theme with saxophone by Plas Johnson (which went Top 40 as a single; the soundtrack itself went Top 10), other highlights of the score include “It Had Better Be Tonight,” an Italian-style love song recently covered by Michael Bublé and performed in the film by Fran Jeffries (and on disc by Mancini’s chorus), and “Something for Sellers,” a great example of Mancini’s feel for what we today think of as lounge music.  Mancini’s “The Pink Panther” is currently the single most-streamed song in the entire Sony Music catalogue – a testament to the ongoing power of the gifted composer Henry Mancini.

Randy Newman Mono

  1. Randy Newman, Randy Newman (Mono LP) (Rhino)

Prior to the release of 1968’s self-titled debut, Randy Newman was a staff songwriter for Los Angeles’ Metric Music, a West Coast answer to the Brill Building where he worked alongside the likes of Jackie DeShannon honing his skills.  The back of the LP, now being reissued for RSD in its original mono edition, read: “Randy Newman creates something new under the sun!” And while intended ironically (irony being one of Newman’s favorite weapons, always at the ready!), it wasn’t far from the truth. Produced by his childhood friend Lenny Waronker and quirky wunderkind Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman featured some scathing social commentary sheathed in large, gorgeous orchestrations by the composer himself. Even this early on, it was evident that Randy learned something from his uncles, Lionel and Alfred Newman, two of the most illustrious composers in Hollywood history. The young Newman was the rare talent equally gifted in both melody and lyrics. “Davy the Fat Boy” and “So Long, Dad” are uncomfortably hysterical, while “Love Story” plainly tells the story of a couple from marriage to death, playing checkers all day in a Florida nursing home. Newman’s unique humor was already in full bloom, to wit this exchange from “Love Story”: “We’ll have a kid/Or maybe we’ll rent one, He’s got to be straight/We don’t want a bent one.” All of these songs were delivered in his off-hand, growl of a drawl, providing a contrast to the beautiful arrangements. When Randy Newman turned serious, the results were heartbreaking and simple (though far from simplistic): “Living Without You” or the oft-covered “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” which managed to be both cynical and achingly sad. A major new talent had arrived.

Bob Wills - Front Cover

  1. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Transcriptions (Real Gone Music)

Vintage music from the pre-rock-and-roll era gets an airing on Record Store Day thanks to releases such as this one, along with other key releases from Omnivore Recordings and Blue Note Records.  Here, Real Gone Music unearths 10 tracks from the King of Western Swing, four of which will remain exclusive to this vinyl release.  These have been drawn from the more than 200 songs recorded by Wills for Tiffany Music, Inc. which remained under lock and key for years.  (Wills recorded a total of almost 400 songs for Tiffany in 1946 and 1947.)  This remastered release has been painstakingly designed after an original transcription disc.  The vinyl is housed inside a replica package in the style of the actual mailers in which Tiffany discs were sent to radio stations in the 1940s – with “pre-distressed” trompe l’oeil wrinkles and wear on the record jacket and a cutaway hole infront showing the vintage Tiffany logo on the vinyl label, whichcontinues the Tiffany numbering system of assigning a recordnumber to each side. Furthering this tremendous attention to detail, the back cover also presents vintagegraphics from the period, and the records are pressed in the style of some of the original discs on 150-gram red vinyl. This release precedes Real Gone’s upcoming 2-CD set drawn from Wills’ Tiffany Transcriptions, and tracks include such songs as Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” and Johnny Mercer’s “I’m an Old Cowhand.”  Count me in!

High Fidelity Omnivore RSD

  1. Various Artists, Live from High Fidelity: The Best of the Podcast Performances (Omnivore)

It wasn’t easy to choose from Omnivore Recordings’ great slate, including rare music from late legends Hank Williams and Jaco Pastorius, but Live from High Fidelity encapsulates the label’s dedication to preserving great music from all eras and genres.  This 14-track translucent green vinyl release is drawn a podcast hosted by L.A.’s High Fidelity Records, and features contributions from some TSD favorites like Sam Phillips, Rhett Miller of The Old 97’s, members of Spain, and most especially, appearing for the second time on this small list, Mr. Van Dyke Parks.  It’s about time podcast performances went physical, isn’t it?

Eric Carmen - Brand New Year

  1. Ronnie Spector and the E Street Band, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” b/w “Baby Please Don’t Go” / Eric Carmen, “Brand New Year (Alternate Mix)” b/w “Starting Over (Live 1976)” singles (Legacy)

Two of Legacy’s 7-inch singles caught our fancy this year.  The label has followed up this year’s Playlist: The Very Best of Ronnie Spector with a replica 45 of “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” b/w “Baby Please Don’t Go,” on which the former Ronette is backed by none other than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.  Arranged and produced by a certain Mr. Van Zandt – that’s Little Steven now, and Sugar Miami Steve circa this single’s original release – these 1977 sides are blazing rock-and-roll at its finest.  Billy Joel’s A-side was a stunning Phil Spector homage in its original recording; with Ronnie on lead and Clarence Clemons honking on the sax, it became transcendent.  Eric Carmen’s new “Brand New Day” also arrives on vinyl in a previously unreleased alternate mix supporting The Essential Eric Carmen, on which the song first appeared. Featuring Carmen supported by Jeffrey Foskett, Darian Sahanaja, Nick Walusko and Mike D’Amico of Brian Wilson’s band, this 2013 composition is vintage Carmen – lush, gorgeous and memorably melodic.  You won’t want to miss these.

Dream with Dean

Honorable Mentions go to Rhino’s first-ever U.S. release of Fleetwood Mac’s 1970 single “Dragonfly” b/w “Purple Dancer” and its excavation of the 1968 LP The Birthday Party from Jeff Lynne’s psych-pop pre-ELO band The Idle Race; plus Legacy’s painstakingly-recreated stereo LP of “King of Cool” Dean Martin’s romantic long-player Dream with Dean on which he’s joined by a quartet for his most intimate jazz stylings; and Sundazed’s vinyl debut of two tracks by The Sunrays, the band that Murry Wilson intended to groom in the style of his former charges The Beach Boys.  Murry’s own song “Won’t You Tell Me” features the legendary L.A. Wrecking Crew, and the band’s Rick Henn supplies new liner notes for this 45!

After the jump: take it away, Mr. Duquette! Read the rest of this entry »

“Weird Scenes Inside” Rhino’s Record Store Day Slate

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Doors - Weird ScenesWith April 19’s Record Store Day a little more than a week away, it might be time to start making those checklists! We’ve already filled you in on exciting releases from Legacy Recordings, Real Gone Music, SundazedOmnivore Recordings, Varese Sarabande and many others, but today it’s all about Rhino! The Warner Music Group catalogue arm has a bumper crop of more than 25 exclusive offerings from some of the biggest names classic rock, vintage R&B and beyond – including The Doors, Grateful Dead, Ramones, Randy Newman, and, as previously reported, R.E.M.! And that’s not all.

A number of new titles are at the heart of Rhino’s RSD campaign. The Dead premieres Live at Hampton Coliseum for the first time on double vinyl, preserving the band’s Virginia concert of May 4, 1979. Another live set getting a first-ever vinyl issue is Donny Hathaway’s Live at the Bitter End 1971, first issued last year on the Never My Love: The Anthology box set. The Pogues with Joe Strummer Live in London 1991, was like the Donny Hathaway release, first issued on CD in a recent box set (last year’s 30 Years complete albums box) and makes its first appearance in the LP format. It dates back to the period when the Clash frontman filled in for Shane MacGowan in the Pogues line-up. Rhino’s new releases are rounded out by a collection of new-to-vinyl outtakes from country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons, a new Greatest Hits from rapper and longtime Law and Order: SVU star Ice-T, and of course, R.E.M.’s eagerly awaited Unplugged 1991/2001: The Complete Sessions.

Randy Newman - Randy NewmanRhino continues its Side by Side series of 45s featuring two versions of the same song with pairings of Devo and The Flaming Lips (“Gates of Steel”), Dinosaur Jr. and The Cure (“Just Like Heaven”), Pantera and Poison Idea (“The Badge”) and two Mystery Artists– and Mystery Song, natch.  The label is also bringing a number of classic LPs back into print. These rare treats include The Birthday Party from Jeff Lynne’s pre-ELO psych-rock band The Idle Race, Randy Newman’s stunningly original debut solo LP – on which he created something new under the sun! – in its original mono version, Otis Redding’s mono Pain in My Heart, and classics from The Everly Brothers, The Velvet Underground, Hüsker Dü and many others.

Last but not least, Rhino has an array of compilations and singles on tap. Perhaps the most unexpected title is The Doors’ Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine, the band’s first compilation following the untimely death of Jim Morrison. First released in 1972, Gold Mine will also get a first-time CD reissue in May. A rare Ramones EP (1980’s Meltdown with the Ramones) and the first-ever U.S. release of Fleetwood Mac’s 1970 single “Dragonfly” b/w “Purple Dancer” join titles from Joy Division, The Specials, The Stranglers and even a reissue of Elektra’s 1964 multi-LP box set The Folk Box. The latter even comes with a bonus single featuring Judy Collins and Tom Paxton!

We wouldn’t leave you hanging with all of this tantalizing information; just hit the jump for the full specs (including limited edition numbers, vinyl details, etc.) as helpfully provided by our very own Mike D. for every title mentioned above and more! Look for Rhino’s releases at your finest local independent record retailer on Saturday, April 19. Read the rest of this entry »

Magic in a Box: Decades of Disney Compiled on New Set

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Disney ClassicsA new box set released today chronicles the musical legacy of The Walt Disney Company with a variety that hasn’t been seen in quite awhile. The new Disney Classics celebrates nearly every medium of entertainment the animation studio-turned-film-titan has dabbled in, from film and television to revolutionary theme park attractions.

Disney Classics is touted in a press release as being released in honor of 90 years of musical history as it pertains to the work of Walter Elias Disney (1901-1966). However accurate that might be – Disney’s most meaningful musical contributions really began 85 years ago, when Mickey Mouse whistled a jaunty tune while piloting Steamboat Willie down the river – it’s hard to argue the studio’s contribution to popular song in the 20th century. Virtually any child of any generation can probably commit one Disney song to memory, whether it’s the endlessly singable Mickey Mouse Club theme or the showstopping, Broadway-esque numbers written for animated features in the late ’80s and early ’90s. And while there’s no shortage of beautiful sound to treasure onscreen, those lucky enough to have attended Disneyland, Walt Disney World or any of their international sister parks knows that there’s practically another dimension of music to enjoy on the many rides and attractions you can experience on vacation.

Now, 95 of those tracks – some familiar to longtime collectors of Disney on CD, others exciting, offbeat selections – are collected in this new set. After the jump, we’ll take a look at each of the themed discs and what they have to offer in terms of musical magic!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 11, 2013 at 13:55

Starbucks Serves “Self-Portraits” of Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman and Others

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Starbucks Self-PortraitsSome of the music featured on Starbucks Entertainment’s latest compilation album, Self-Portraits, is a bit atypical for a coffeehouse setting: Warren Zevon, Judee Sill, Randy Newman, John Prine, Loudon Wainwright III.  The songs on Self-Portraits, by and large, demand attention, as all are drawn from the realm of the singer-songwriter with an emphasis on confessional or first-person songs.  The 16-track CD focuses on the 1970s (with just one track from 1969), and although there are a few unquestionably familiar, oft-anthologized songs, there are also a few that might make this disc worth perusing.

The hit singles come first on Self-Portraits.  Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” kicks off the disc, as it did King’s 1971 sophomore solo album Tapestry.  That was, of course, the album that ignited King’s career as a solo artist, and the same could be said for James Taylor’s second long-player.  “I Feel the Earth Move” is followed by “Fire and Rain,” from the troubadour’s 1970 Sweet Baby James, which featured (you guessed it) Carole King on piano.  Though Judy Collins had the hit single of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” Self-Portraits includes Mitchell’s version from her 1969 album Clouds, and then segues to British piano man Elton John for a track off his second album: the ubiquitous “Your Song.”

Following “Your Song,” the disc – as curated by Starbucks’ Steven Stolder – veers off in interesting directions.  Leon Russell, whose style was an influence on budding artist John’s, is represented with his piano-pounding “Tight Rope.”  Like Leon Russell (a key player in the Los Angeles “Wrecking Crew” of session musicians), Jimmy Webb spent his formative years behind-the-scenes.  In Webb’s  case, he was a songwriting prodigy with hits like “Up, Up and Away,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman” under his belt by the time he began his proper solo career with 1970’s “Words and Music.”  From that album, Self-Portraits draws “P.F. Sloan,” Webb’s remarkable, multi-layered ode to a songwriting colleague.  Any discussion of popular songwriters would be incomplete without a mention of Bob Dylan, and his “If You See Her, Say Hello” from his singer-songwriter masterwork Blood on the Tracks is the choice here.  Perhaps the least-known songwriter here is Judee Sill, the troubled Lady of the Canyon whose small discography yielded touching and unusual gems like “The Kiss.”

Self-Portraits also includes tracks from artists with more explicitly folk leanings than, say, King, Webb and Taylor.   Both Loudon Wainwright III (whose only hit single remains “Dead Skunk,” alas) and his wife Kate McGarrigle are heard here; Kate is joined by her sister Anna for “Talk to Me of Mendocino” from their eponymous album.  Another folk hero, John Prine, gets a spot with “Sabu Visits the Twin Cities Alone,” with which Prine draws comparisons between the Indian actor’s life and his own.  From the Brit-folk scene, Richard and Linda Thompson (“Dimming of the Day”) and Nick Drake (“Northern Sky”) appear.

After the jump: we have much more on the new comp, including the full track listing and an order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend Wround-Up: Barbra Streisand Joined by Bennett, Wonder, Krall on DVD and BD; Pixar Compiles More “Favorites”

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On February 11, 2011, Barbra Streisand joined some illustrious company, including Bono, Brian Wilson, Aretha Franklin and her “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” duet partner, Neil Diamond.  That was the evening Streisand was recognized as the MusiCares Person of the Year, following in the footsteps of those above-named artists.  Streisand was a natural candidate for the honor, as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences annually bestows it upon an artist with significant artistic achievement in music and commitment to philanthropy.  Part of the MusiCares tradition finds that person being celebrated by a line-up of peers and younger talent, and so that evening, Streisand was joined in Los Angeles by Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Barry Manilow, Stevie Wonder and others, to perform many of the songs she made famous throughout her career. On November 13, Shout Factory will release A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand on DVD, with a selection of the performances from the celebratory concert.

Diana Krall was in the producer’s chair for Streisand’s 2009 album Love is the Answer, and she opens the Blu-ray/DVD with a medley of three famous Streisand songs: “Down with Love,” “Get Happy,” and “Make Someone Happy.”  The first two, of course, were co-written by Harold Arlen, one of Streisand’s most admired composers.  Tony Bennett, who has performed with both Krall and Streisand in the past, performed a rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” (the opening track of Streisand’s 2003 The Movie Album).  Barry Manilow offered his take on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Trevor Nunn’s “Memory” from the musical Cats; both Brooklyn natives released the song as a single and made the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 10 AC charts with it.  Stevie Wonder performed Jule Styne and Bob Merrill’s “People” from Funny Girl with Arturo Sandoval, and Jeff Beck offered a scorching “Come Rain or Come Shine” (another Arlen song) with LeAnn Rimes and BeBe Winans.  The younger set was represented not only by Rimes, but by Leona Lewis (“Somewhere” from West Side Story), Faith Hill (Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns”) and a trio of stars from Glee (Lea Michele with Fanny Brice’s signature song, “My Man,” and Matthew Morrison and Kristin Chenoweth reprising their television duet of Bacharach and David’s “One Less Bell to Answer/A House is Not a Home” in Streisand’s arrangement).   Streisand herself brings the DVD to a close with performances of “The Windmills of Your Mind” and “The Promise (I’ll Never Say Goodbye).”

A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand is due for release on November 13 and follows Shout! Factory’s last MusiCares release celebrating Neil Young.  Pre-order links are currently not available, but we will add them as soon as possible!  You’ll find the complete track listing after the jump, down below!

Last week, Walt Disney Records quietly released a second volume of modern-day classics from Pixar’s animated films.  The new Disney-Pixar All-Time Favorites follows 2009’s Disney-Pixar Greatest, which brought the studio’s output up to date as of the Academy Award-winning Up.  In addition to revisiting some of the films represented on the first compilation with newly-compiled tracks, All-Time Favorites adds songs and score cues from Toy Story 3 (2010), Cars 2 (2011) and this year’s Brave.

Randy Newman is, of course, prominently featured, singing “I Will Go Sailing No More” from 1995’s Toy Story and “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3, while his compositions are also sung by Riders in the Sky (“Woody’s Round-Up” from 1999’s Toy Story 2), the Gipsy Kings (the Spanish-language “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story 3).  Newman’s scores from A Bug’s Life (1998) and Monsters, Inc. (2001) are also excerpted.  Randy’s cousin Thomas Newman is represented via score excerpts from the just-about-to-be-re-released Finding Nemo (2003) and WALL-E (2008), while another frequent member of the Pixar team, Michael Giacchino, takes the spotlight for tracks from 2007’s Ratatouille, Cars 2 and 2004’s The Incredibles.  One song and one score cue appear from Brave: Julie Fowlis’ rendition of Alex Mandel’s “Into the Open Air,” and Patrick Doyle’s “In Her Heart.”

Disney-Pixar All-Time Favorites is available in stores now, and can be ordered after the jump!   You’ll also find the complete track listing there. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 14, 2012 at 15:06

Review: Tom Northcott, “Sunny Goodge Street: The Warner Bros. Recordings”

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Extra!  Extra!  Lost Folk Singer Found!

His name is Tom Northcott, and had things turned out a little differently, he might be remembered in the same breath as Joni Mitchell or Gordon Lightfoot, fellow Canadian troubadours.  After founding the Tom Northcott Trio, he headed for California during perhaps the most fertile period ever for creative, boundary-breaking musical exploration, the mid-1960s.  Northcott opened for The Who, The Doors and Jefferson Airplane, and was signed to Warner Bros. Records.  He gained solid regional airplay and a minor chart entry in the U.S., but his music never struck the same chord in America as in his native Canada.  In the early 1970s, Northcott retreated from the music business to practice law, returning only sporadically.  Thanks to the team at Rhino Handmade, however, the fresh and inventive music he created in his heyday is available once more.  Sunny Goodge Street: The Warner Bros. Recordings (Rhino Handmade RHM2 524879) brings together twenty long-lost tracks on one CD.  Is it sunshine folk?  Is it baroque coffeehouse?  This genre-defying and blissfully offbeat music speaks for itself.

Northcott was supported by a virtual “Who’s Who” of the L.A. scene, including Harry Nilsson, Leon Russell, Randy Newman and Jack Nitzsche, all under the watchful eye of Warner Bros.’ supreme A&R man, Lenny Waronker.  He stood apart from many of his contemporaries, though, by his reliance on material from outside songwriters.  Though an accomplished composer and lyricist with six self-penned tracks included here, Northcott was launched by Warner Bros. as an interpretive singer in an era when the rules were being rewritten on the spot.  Young men, armed with guitars, had little need for the songs coming from New York’s Aldon or Los Angeles’ Metric offices.

At the heart of Sunny Goodge Street is the 10-track Best of Tom Northcott, a Canada-only LP release.  It included a number of Northcott’s American single sides such as Harry Nilsson’s “1941” and a version of the Donovan song that gives the new Rhino anthology its title.  One month prior to the May 1967 release of Northcott’s “Sunny Goodge Street,” Leon Russell and Lenny Waronker had crafted the immaculate title track to Harpers Bizarre’s Feelin’ Groovy, and Russell is also responsible for the most vividly imaginative arrangements here.  The ornate, dreamy take on “Sunny Goodge Street” is even more far-out than “Feelin’ Groovy.”  The song is dramatically reinvented from Donovan’s slow, lysergic original, with Russell layering on a shimmering harp, calliope, accordion, strings, horns and background vocals in a beautiful cacophony.  Did Russell take his cue from the lyric’s “strange music boxes sadly tinkling?”  There are some similarities to Judy Collins’ earlier version of the song, but the vision of Northcott, Waronker and Russell is strikingly original.  The luscious orchestration contrasts with the impressionistic and vaguely disturbing words:  “On the firefly platform on sunny Goodge Street, violent hash-smoker shook a chocolate machine, involved in an eating scene/Smashing into neon streets in their stonedness, smearing their eyes on the crazy cult goddess, listenin’ to sounds of Mingus, mellow fantastic/My, my, they sigh!”  Northcott recalled in 1997 that Glen Campbell, James Burton, Larry Knechtel and Jim Gordon, all of the “Wrecking Crew,” all played on the song.

Perhaps proving the old adage that one must know the rules before breaking them, Russell ironically made his own solo career on stripped-down, raw and visceral rock and roll, the complete opposite of the style he supplied on songs like “Sunny Goodge Street,” John Hartford’s “Landscape Grown Cold” and Harry Nilsson’s “1941.”  Northcott, alas, didn’t find the same kind of success with “Landscape” that Glen Campbell did with Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind.”  James Burton fronts the Russell arrangement on dobro.  Nilsson’s “1941,” a sad and personal tale of one family’s history repeating itself, is adorned by Russell’s grandiose orchestra which embraces the song’s circus setting.  Northcott supplies an imploring vocal, and the resulting production is less delicate than Nilsson’s stately 1967 original.  “1941” cracked the U.S. pop charts at No. 88, and another Nilsson song, “The Rainmaker,” was issued the following year.  Jack Nitzsche was responsible for the quirky arrangement on Northcott’s version.

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

Written by Joe Marchese

April 2, 2012 at 13:13

You’ve Got a Friend in Intrada: Randy Newman’s “Toy Story 3” Arrives on CD

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Toy Story 3 certainly had its fair amount of accomplishments.  It was highest-grossing film of 2010 (domestic and worldwide), the all-time box office champ among animated features, and in the Top 10 highest-grossing films of all time.  It reaped five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and took two of the gold statues home.  It became the first film to be released theatrically in 7.1 surround sound.  But one thing Toy Story 3 didn’t have was a proper soundtrack album on CD.  Following an unfortunate pattern established with Michael Giacchino’s Academy Award-winning score to Up, Randy Newman’s score to Toy Story 3 was relegated to the domain of digital downloads.  (With Giacchino’s Cars 2 in 2011, compact discs were back.)  Yet there was a silver lining when independent soundtrack specialist label Intrada struck up a partnership last year with Walt Disney Records, kicking it off with a CD presentation of Up.   Now, we’re happy to announce that Newman’s Toy Story 3, featuring the Oscar-winning song “We Belong Together” as performed by its composer/lyricist, is finally available on CD and begins shipping today from Intrada’s online store.  (Longtime readers might recall Mike at Second Disc HQ wishing upon a star for its CD release way back in August!)

The transformation of Randy Newman (the man behind such witheringly brilliant songs as “Rednecks” and “Sail Away”) into a family-friendly Disney Legend seems to have surprised many, including the esteemed Mr. Newman himself.  But Newman has always had a tender side, and even his most acerbic works have been imbued with great humanity and even compassion for those wronged by society.  This side of the composer blossomed most fully when he plunged himself into the family business of film scoring with 1981’s Ragtime, based on E.L. Doctorow’s sprawling novel.  (Newman had previously dabbled with soundtrack scoring for the television series Peyton Place as well as Norman Lear’s 1971 Cold Turkey.)  Newman received Oscar nominations both for his score and the song “One More Hour.” He truly was off and running.  In his film soundtracks, Newman frequently taps into the same strong vein of Americana that informed pop album masterworks like Good Old Boys and Sail Away.  It was perhaps inevitable that his rich and varied orchestral palette would take him to Main Street, U.S.A., or The Walt Disney Company.  He netted two more Oscar nods for 1995’s Toy Story, beginning a fruitful association with Disney and/or Pixar, through James and the Giant Peach, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Cars and The Princess and the Frog.

Hit the jump for much more on Toy Story 3, including the full track listing and pre-order link, as well as news on Intrada’s other January 24 release! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 24, 2012 at 11:24

Who Is Tom Northcott? Rhino Handmade Clues You In with New Warner Bros. Anthology

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Somewhere in rock’s back pages, you might find the name of Tom Northcott, troubadour.  After establishing himself as the folk-singing frontman of The Tom Northcott Trio in his native Canada, Northcott headed for California, and proved himself in the fertile musical ground of the San Francisco Bay Area, opening for acts like The Who, The Doors and Jefferson Airplane.  Soon he found himself even further south, signed to Los Angeles’ Warner Bros. Records.  And between 1966 and1969, Northcott recorded some twenty sides for the label, working with names from the WB “house team,” gents like Lenny Waronker and Leon Russell.   At the water tower, Northcott also had access to some of rock’s great songwriters, so he recorded compositions by the likes of Harry Nilsson and, of course, Waronker’s close pal Randy Newman.  But when Tom Northcott abandoned music to practice law in the early 1970s, after having cut one 1971 LP for UNI Records, he was all but forgotten.  In recent months, Rhino Handmade had been asking the question “Who is Tom Northcott?” in various teasers.  Now, the question is answered, and in the best way possible: via the man’s music.

Sunny Goodge Street: The Warner Bros. Recordings collects twenty of Northcott’s recordings for the label, including six previously-unreleased tracks from 1968 and 1969, recorded in both Los Angeles and London.  The collection has been many years in the making, beginning with Andrew Sandoval and Bill Inglot’s unearthing of the original tapes and finding the additional unissued tracks and rare single versions.  The complete, 10-track The Best of Tom Northcott LP as originally released in 1970 is, of course, included in full.  This LP never received wide release in the U.S., designed for the Canadian market, so the music contained within its grooves will be particularly new to many listeners. (Billboard noted on August 1, 1970 that the album was “enjoying much Vancouver sales success.”)  The album also contains the single versions of “Sunny Goodge Street” and its flip, “Who Planted Thorns in Miss Alice’s Garden,” plus Northcott’s final single with Warner Bros., “Make Me an Island,” written by Albert (“It Never Rains in Southern California”) Hammond and arranged by Nilsson collaborator Perry Botkin, Jr.

Hit the jump for much, much more, including the full track listing and discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 19, 2012 at 14:05

Come to the Sunshine: Now Sounds Expands, Remasters Harpers Bizarre’s “Feelin’ Groovy”

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Leon Russell might have been reluctant to return to his pop music roots when producer Lenny Waronker invited him to sit in the arranger’s chair for Harpers Bizarre’s 1967 debut album.  But in retrospect, a Master of Time and Space must have been involved in any LP that listed among its credits Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Paul Simon, Richard Rodgers and Sergei Prokofiev!  The California quintet’s Feelin’ Groovy long-player is still one of the boldest, most imaginative and most fun debut albums of all time, and it’s getting the red carpet treatment from the fine folks at Now Sounds!  The Deluxe Expanded Mono Edition of Feelin’ Groovy expands the original 10-band album to a packed 26 tracks.  And what a groovy complement of bonuses they are: instrumentals, single mixes, and seven tracks from the band’s earlier incarnation, The Tikis!

At the time The Tikis (a.k.a. Dick Yount, Eddie James, John Petersen, Dick Scoppettone and Ted Templeman) found themselves on the roster of Warner Bros. Records, the young turks running the water tower were making Burbank the place to be.  Under the direction of Mo Ostin, Joe Smith and Lenny Waronker, Warner Bros. was establishing a hip, young identity.  The label that had begun in 1958 with Tab Hunter and Jack “Just the facts, ma’am” Webb on the roster was now expanding its ranks to include The Tokens (It’s a Happening World!), The Everly Brothers, The Association, The Beau Brummels and The Grateful Dead.  Like The Tikis, The Beau Brummels came to Warner via the label’s acquisition of the Bay Area-based Autumn Records, and Tikis member John Petersen was himself an ex-Brummel.  And the embryonic Dead had actually shared stages in the past with The Tikis.   In this fertile, creative atmosphere, producer Waronker keenly matched artist to song when he offered the soon-to-be Harpers Bizarre a completely original reworking of Paul Simon’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song.”  Wordsmith and arranger Van Dyke Parks recalls being the one who renamed the band for a counterculture audience that wouldn’t accept the square-sounding Tikis!  Harpers Bizarre was then born.

In Simon and Garfunkel’s original version, the song is casual (almost tossed-off), low-key and completely charming.  In the arrangement crafted by Waronker and master orchestrator Leon Russell, “The 59th Street Bridge Song” became an ambitious pocket symphony, complete with choir and baroque instrumental interlude.  Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that this big reworking retained the innocent, carefree spirit of the original.  In reissue producer Steve Stanley’s compelling liner notes, Waronker recounts Russell winning him over with his intricate charts for instruments unusual to the typical AM single. Unsurprisingly, the musicians of the Los Angeles Wrecking Crew were deployed in full force, including Russell himself on piano, Glen Campbell on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, and other names that should be familiar to those reading this, like Joe Osborn, Carol Kaye and Lyle Ritz (bass) and Mike Deasy, Al Casey and Tommy Tedesco (guitar).  “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” b/w “Lost My Live Today” (a Tikis track that is, of course, included here) made it all the way to the Top 15 on the pop charts.

Though it gives the album its title, the song is just the tip of the iceberg here.  Hit the jump for much more, including the complete track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 6, 2011 at 10:54

Rhino Unleashes “Original Album Series” in Europe

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Ever feel like all the fancy bonus content and packaging on some reissues totally overshadows the music? Rhino’s European division must’ve felt so, too: they released a handful of Original Album Series boxes a few weeks ago, featuring a lot of music with a minimum of frills and a relatively low price.

The titles – five albums by one artist, housed in mini-LP cardboard sleeves and put into a box – are the ideal quick, easy discography builder for new fans or collectors with a few notable gaps on their shelves. A myriad of artists, from the obvious (CHIC, Carly Simon, The Doobie Brothers) to the overlooked (Sérgio Mendes, The Young Rascals, Tim Buckley), are represented here. While some of these titles are available in expanded form, a few of these are hard to find on their own on CD. With a price tag that hovers around the £10 mark, it’s certainly something to consider.

All of the titles, with the albums they contain, are after the jump, along with links from Amazon’s U.K. pages.

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