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Release Round-Up: Week of December 15

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Kinks Anthology

The Kinks, Anthology 1964-1971 (BMG/InGrooves, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Producer Andrew Sandoval (the recent The Monkees: Super Deluxe Edition) helms this kink-sized 5-CD kollection of hits, demos, interviews, alternate mixes, session outtakes, 25 previously unavailable tracks, an exclusive 7-inch single and copious, new liner notes!

Dionne - Finder of Lost Loves

Dionne Warwick, Finder of Lost Loves: Expanded Edition (Arista/Funky Town Grooves) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This 2-CD edition of Warwick’s 1985 album features a bonus disc with 12 additional tracks – three rare single versions and nine previously unreleased recordings, including the Barry Gibb-produced Heartbreaker outtake “Broken Bottles” and two alternate versions of the Burt Bacharach/Carole Bayer Sager title track featuring Dionne joined by Luther Vandross!

Aretha - Aretha

Aretha Franklin, Aretha: Expanded Edition (Arista/Funky Town Grooves) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

FTG adds a staggering 19 bonus tracks to create a 2-disc edition of The Queen of Soul’s 1986 album featuring “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” – including rare remixes of five songs as well as the Aretha Megamix!  It appears that the companion disc – an expanded edition of Through the Storm – won’t be available until next month.

Manhattans - Black Tie

The Manhattans, Black Tie / Forever by Your Side (Columbia/Funky Town Grooves)

Black Tie: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Forever: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

FTG continues its series of reissues from The Manhattans’ catalogue with expanded editions of the legendary vocal group’s 1981 and 1983 albums of silky R&B!

Trip Shakespeare

Trip Shakespeare, Applehead Man / Are You Shakespearienced? (Omnivore)

Applehead CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Applehead Translucent Red Vinyl & Download Card: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Are You... CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Are You… Translucent Green Vinyl & Download Card: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Omnivore remasters and expands the first two albums from Minnesota band Trip Shakespeare – the training ground for John Munson and Dan Wilson, two members who would later go on to form Semisonic!

Foreigner - 4 and More

Foreigner, The Best of Foreigner 4 and More (Sony) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Just two months ago, on October 3 and 4, 2014, Foreigner took the stage at Atlantic City’s Borgata.  Now, highlights from those concerts are being released on one budget-priced ($5.99 as of this writing!) CD including the hit songs from 1981’s landmark Foreigner 4 and other favorites. Tracks include “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” “Cold as Ice,” “Hot Blooded” and “I Want to Know What Love Is.”



Into the Woods

Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods: 2-CD Deluxe Edition Soundtrack (Walt Disney Records) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Okay, this isn’t a reissue, but we’re looking forward to it all the same.  This week, Walt Disney Records releases the original soundtrack to the new film version of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s 1987 Broadway musical Into the Woods, featuring Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt and future Late Late Show host James Corden.  The 2-CD edition features all of Sondheim’s songs plus the film’s orchestral underscore.

The Last Ship OBC

Original Broadway Cast Recording, The Last Ship (UMe) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Sting recently stepped into his Broadway musical The Last Ship for a limited run through January 24; here’s a chance to experience his songs for the musical as performed by the original cast of Michael Esper, Jimmy Nail, Fred Applegate and others.  Sting himself is heard on a bonus track singing “What Say You, Meg?” from the show’s impressive score.

Written by Joe Marchese

December 15, 2014 at 08:32

Still Here: Elaine Paige Celebrates Career On New “Ultimate Collection” With Previously Unreleased Songs and Rare Singles

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Elaine Paige - Ultimate CollectionThough her appearances on the Broadway stage have been rare, Elaine Paige remains one of the reigning first ladies of musical theatre around the world. Paige has been a fixture in London’s West End since her debut there in the 1968 production of Hair, rising to fame as the first actress to portray Eva Peron onstage in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita in 1978. Paige went on to introduce the role of Grizabella and the song “Memory” in Cats, and subsequently starred in such musicals as Chess, Anything Goes, Sunset Boulevard, The King and I, The Drowsy Chaperone, and most recently in New York, Follies. What might be less well-known (in the U.S., at least!) is that Paige has also recorded a number of U.K. hit albums and singles.   The May 12 release from Rhino U.K. of The Ultimate Collection draws on Paige’s remarkable body of recordings between 1978 and 2011, and the standard edition premieres a couple of unreleased songs as well as a new club remixThe 2-CD Special Edition adds 20 more tracks, all culled from Paige’s singles discography and featuring 4 new-to-CD tracks.

The Ultimate Collection recognizes Paige’s acclaimed 50 years in show business, beginning with her professional debut onstage in 1964. The chronologically-sequenced set begins, of course, with “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” which was already familiar to listeners thanks to Julie Covington’s performance on the Evita concept album. Paige made the song her own, however, and began her collaboration with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber who is also represented here with “Memory” from Cats, the two key songs from Paige’s star turn in Sunset Boulevard, and a studio rendition of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from Jesus Christ Superstar. Paige didn’t portray Mary Magdalene onstage in the show, but recorded the song for her 1983 studio album and third solo LP, Stages. Produced by David Bowie’s famed collaborator Tony Visconti, Stages was a phenomenon in Paige’s native United Kingdom. It remained on the British album chart for 48 weeks, garnering a 2x Platinum certification by the BPI (The British Recorded Music Industry) for U.K. sales. From that collection of theatre music, The Ultimate Collection also reprises its songs from A Chorus Line, Dreamgirls and Nine. “Be on Your Own,” from Nine, is heard not in its original version, but in the radio edit of its new Almighty Remix.

Visconti and Paige reunited for the follow-up to Stages. Instead of Broadway showstoppers, Cinema took aim at the songs of Hollywood. The result was another Top 20 Platinum-seller, from which the standard “Unchained Melody” and the song “Sometimes,” from the films Unchained and Champions, respectively, have been culled. 1985’s Love Hurts showed off Paige’s pop side, which she previously visited on albums including 1981’s Warner Music debut Elaine Paige. That album featured new songs from Paul McCartney (“Hot as Sun”), Barry Gibb (“Secrets”) and Vangelis (“The Second Time”); though none are featured here, The Ultimate Collection offers three Love Hurts tracks: Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” Judie Tzuke’s “For You” and a little song from the musical Chess which became one of Britain’s biggest-selling singles of 1985. “I Know Him So Well” was penned by Tim Rice and ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Paige’s duet with Barbara Dickson sold over 900,000 copies, and the Love Hurts album went Top 10.

Hit the jump for more on The Ultimate Collection, including the complete track listing with discography! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 6, 2014 at 13:17

Isn’t It Rich: Masterworks Broadway Reissues Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” Soundtrack, Plus Rare Monk, Coward

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A Little Night Music OSTWhere are the clowns?

Following the release last month of Clownaround, one of the rarest cast recordings of all time, Masterworks Broadway is again sending in the clowns.  In August, the label will deliver the long-awaited reissue of the film soundtrack to Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music with Elizabeth Taylor following in the footsteps of Glynis Johns, Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins and singing “Send in the Clowns.”  A Little Night Music will be expanded with previously unreleased music, too – but it’s just one of three upcoming releases coming from the label on CD-R and digital download between July and September.  Night Music will be joined by cast recordings of Julius Monk’s impossibly rare 1961 Seven Come Eleven, and 1972’s Noel Coward salute Cowardy Custard.

August 13’s release of Seven Come Eleven marks the revue’s first reissue since its original LP pressing in 1961.  One in a series of revues created by Julius Monk, Seven Come Eleven featured an elegantly-attired and urbane cast including Mary Louise Wilson (Full Gallop, Grey Gardens), Rex Robbins (Herbie opposite Angela Lansbury’s Rose in Gypsy) and Philip Bruns (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Seinfeld).  Columbia Special Products released the cast recording of Seven Come Eleven for sale exclusively during its engagement at fabled New York nightspot Upstairs at the Downstairs, then located at 37 West 56th Street.  The album preserves both skits and songs from the act, which offered sophisticated cabaret entertainment in the style of Monk’s other revues including Demi-Dozen, Dime a Dozen, Four Below, Dressed to the Nines, Four Below Strikes Back, Just for Openers, Pieces of Eight, and Take Five.  It will be available exclusively for purchase via on July 16 in a limited quantity of Manufacture-On-Demand CDs (CD-Rs) as well as digital download. The CD-R will be available through Arkiv Music on August 13, plus downloads through digital service providers the same day.

After the jump: more on A Little Night Music, plus Cowardy Custard! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 28, 2013 at 09:55

Some Nice Things We’ve Missed: Quartet Records’ Trio of Sondheim and Double Mancini

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Revenge of the Pink Panther'As 2012 yielded to 2013, more than a few noteworthy releases may have been lost in the shuffle.  Some of the most impressive of those December releases came from Spain’s Quartet Records.  The label closed out the year with three particularly spectacular titles that no film score buff will want to miss.

Two came from the prolific pen of Henry Mancini, perhaps the most-represented soundtrack composer in terms of 2012’s releases.  Having previously issued the complete score to Curse of the Pink Panther (1982), the label turned its attention to 1978’s Revenge of the Pink Panther.  The last Panther film to star Peter Sellers in his lifetime (the 1982 picture utilized outtakes of Sellers to create a new film), Revenge was previously on CD only in a severely truncated form emphasizing the funkier sounds in Mancini’s score.  The new Revenge features a full 27 tracks, demonstrating the full breadth of the composer’s work and even including alternate takes from the original album issue.  This deluxe package also includes a detailed essay and track-by-track notes from John Takis in its 16-page full-color booklet.

Santa Claus - The MoviePerhaps even more noteworthy is Quartet’s reissue of Mancini’s original soundtrack to 1985’s Santa Claus: The Movie.  Quartet’s predecessor label Singular Records had released (most of) the original soundtrack album on CD in 2009, but that release was considered lackluster despite the label having done its best with its resources at the time.  The new edition is a completely different case, however: a 3-CD edition presenting the complete film score (34 tracks!), 17 alternates and bonuses, and the original, complete 13-track soundtrack LP, with many themes modified from the originals plus pop songs from Kaja and Sheena Easton.  This new set presents the score in its entirety, remixed from ½″ 3-track stereo and 2″ 24-track session masters housed in mint condition in Abbey Road Studios, London.  The 1985 LP has also been remastered from first generation master tapes stored at Abbey Road.  Jeff Bond provides the annotation for the stellar 32-page booklet.  Though many critics derided the epic Santa origin film as excessive, this release proves that Mancini’s score (also containing songs with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse) was just right.

After the jump: take a trip to the Forum, plus the full track listings and order links for all three titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 3, 2013 at 12:53

The Year in Reissues: The 2012 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2012? Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2012′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

On the Fifth Day of Second Discmas…

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Christmas Kritzerland Fb banner

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

The fifth day of Second Discmas is a celebration of all things stage and screen!  We’re offering two amazing gift sets from our friends at the Kritzerland label, a torch-bearer for film scores from Hollywood’s Golden Age as well as classic Broadway musicals.

The first prize pack features producer Bruce Kimmel’s entertaining new memoir Album Produced By…,  joined by (what else?) two albums produced by Bruce Kimmel: the revelatory remix and remaster of Stephen Sondheim’s seminal Follies: The Original Broadway Cast Recording; and Bruce’s latest album and one sure to be a holiday staple, Sandy Bainum’s This Christmas!

For fans of the silver screen, Kritzerland has also created a prize pack with two rare and out-of-print selections from its catalogue plus one title celebrating a recently departed legend.  The label’s latest sell-out, an Alfred Newman two-fer of Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and The Seven Year Itch, can no longer be purchased from Kritzerland, but it can be YOURS!  Ditto for the amazing expansion of Henry Mancini’s ravishing and unique score to The Molly Maguires!  Lastly, the late Marvin Hamlisch can be remembered with his captivating soundtrack to Romantic Comedy!

How can you make these prizes yours? Click on the graphic up top to head over to Contest Central for the complete rules! And there’s still more great free music coming your way, only at The Second Disc!

Written by Joe Marchese

December 21, 2012 at 10:15

Lullaby of Broadway: Classic Columbia, RCA Victor Cast Albums Collected in “Broadway in a Box”

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Curtain up!  Tomorrow, Sony’s Masterworks Broadway division will release Broadway in a Box: The Essential Broadway Musicals Collection, a 25-disc collection formatted similarly to the “Complete Albums” box sets arriving from sister label Legacy Recordings.  This impressive collection brings together the original cast recordings for 25 musicals recorded for Columbia Records, Arista Records and RCA Victor between 1949 (South Pacific) and 1987 (Into the Woods and a revival of Anything Goes).

Columbia Records’ commitment to the American musical began in 1946 when the label recorded the Broadway revival cast of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s Show Boat; Columbia’s first cast recording of an original musical followed just one year later with Burton Lane and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg’s score to Finian’s Rainbow.  Although it was rival Decca Records that is generally credited with inventing the modern cast recording format with 1943’s Oklahoma!, Columbia established supremacy in the area thanks to the unwavering support of label head Goddard Lieberson.  Lieberson personally produced records of many of the most influential musicals of all time, from Finian’s through A Chorus Line in 1975.  One of Columbia’s closest competitors was RCA Victor, with that label beginning its stellar run of cast albums also in 1947, with Brigadoon, High Button Shoes, and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro.  When Columbia’s parent Sony merged with BMG in 2004, the deal unified arguably the two most important labels for Broadway theatre music.  Sony BMG ceased to be an ongoing concern in 2008 when Sony bought BMG’s 50-percent stake in the company, forming today’s Sony Music Entertainment and retaining all of the music acquired from BMG.

As all of the cast recordings contained in Broadway in a Box are currently in print from Masterworks Broadway, the box may be best as an introductory sampler for young fans and collectors, or for those who might not have purchased these recordings on CD before.  Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein are the most represented composers/lyricists on the box, with five recordings: RCA Victor’s 1965 Carousel revival starring original Billy Bigelow John Raitt; RCA’s 1964 The King and I revival starring Darren McGavin and Risë Stevens; RCA’s 1979 Oklahoma! with Laurence Guittard and Christine Andreas;  Columbia’s 1959 The Sound of Music starring Mary Martin; and Columbia’s 1949 South Pacific with Martin and Ezio Pinza.  The words of lyricist Hammerstein appear a sixth time via RCA’s 1966 Show Boat revival, with Barbara Cook.

Stephen Sondheim isn’t far behind his mentor Hammerstein with five shows included, too.  The reigning musical theatre master makes appearances via Columbia’s 1957 West Side Story (co-written with Leonard Bernstein, featuring Larry Kert, Carol Lawrence and Chita Rivera), 1959 Gypsy (co-written with Jule Styne, starring Ethel Merman and Jack Klugman), and 1970 Company (Dean Jones, Elaine Stritch), as well as RCA Victor’s 1979 Sweeney Todd (alas, the single-disc highlights version only, starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou) and 1987 Into the Woods (Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason).

After the jump: what else is in the set?  Which stars will you hear?  We have a full album listing and order link for you! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 10, 2012 at 14:45

Review: “Follies: Original 1971 Broadway Cast Recording” (Remixed and Remastered Edition)

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Though the former showgirls and stage-door Johnnies of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s Follies reunited in the 1971 musical for “one last look at where it all began,” it’s been rather difficult for those under the musical’s spell to take one last look (or listen, as it were) at the original production of Follies.  Those who saw it routinely recall it as the grandest of all musicals; those who didn’t have had to make do with still photographs, grainy YouTube footage, talk show appearances, copious volumes of reviews and recollections, and of course, its Original Broadway Cast Recording.  But, to steal from a previous Sondheim musical, we’ve always been sorry/grateful for Capitol’s Follies.

While it preserved a flawless cast led by Alexis Smith (Phyllis Rogers Stone), John McMartin (Ben Stone), Gene Nelson (Buddy Plummer) and Dorothy Collins (Sally Durant Plummer), the record produced by Dick Jones was severely truncated.  Some songs were subject to internal cuts; others were excised entirely.  It was also marred by a less-than-ideal mix.  Vocals were hard-panned to the left or right, sounding altogether distant.  Even the full orchestra playing Jonathan Tunick’s rich and wildly varied arrangements sounded, well, uneven.  After 41 years, though, it’s as if a layer of gauze has been removed from Follies thanks to a limited edition reissue on the Kritzerland label (KR 20023-3).  No further material was available to add to the new CD; the songs were, alas, shortened or edited prior to the recording sessions.  But producer Bruce Kimmel, remix engineer John Adams and mastering engineer James Nelson have given new life to an old favorite, continuing the story of this most singular of musicals.

Follies has always been the ultimate tribute to, and deconstruction of, the Broadway musical.  It’s a celebration as well as a eulogy, if you will.  Its songs unfold the lives of these two couples, surrounded by old friends, who reunite on the eve of demolition of the Weismann Theatre.  They discover that the site is populated not only by old friends, but by specters of the past.  In one uninterrupted evening, fractured relationships are matched only by fractured reality, and the literal setting yields to a dreamscape both nightmarish and thrilling in which the characters’ many follies are explored.

From the very first notes of Sondheim’s overture/prologue (one of the musical sequences sadly edited down for the recording session), it was clear that the composer and his collaborators (including co-directors Harold Prince and Michael Bennett, also the choreographer) had something unusual in mind.  Follies is a ghost story, and the Prologue’s opening drum roll doesn’t lead to a brassy medley of the score’s songs, but rather to the melody of “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” a fragile, macabre and slow waltz.  It’s grand, all right, but far from triumphant.  Although the ghosts that populated the stage of Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre (standing in for the fictional Weismann house) can’t be seen on an audio recording, they can certainly be felt.  Audiences might have been expecting a parade of glamorous personalities and lavish costumes in a show entitled Follies, and indeed, that parade came.  But when it did, it exposed the flaws, shortcomings and regrets of the principal players, and in turn, of the audience.  The title is loaded with multiple meanings, and even the characters’ troubled marriages carry metaphorical heft.  The many colors of the fantasia that is Follies all have never sounded better, or more shattering, than they do on this revitalized recording.   The remarkable upgrade from all previous editions is audible in the nuance and newfound clarity of the orchestra, from the prologue onward.

There’s much more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 2, 2012 at 13:13

Hey, Mr. Producer: A Second Disc Interview! Talking Remastered, Remixed Edition of Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” with Bruce Kimmel

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Hats off, here it comes: the Kritzerland label is unveiling a new edition of the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Stephen Sondheim and James Goldman’s Follies, but the Broadway babies and girls upstairs will likely have never sounded better.  Following similar releases for Promises, Promises and Sugar, Kritzerland has completely remixed and remastered Capitol Records’ 1971 Follies, affording listeners the opportunity to hear a Sondheim masterwork anew.  The label began accepting pre-orders last evening at midnight for the limited edition of 1,500, so those interested shouldn’t delay.  It’s priced at $19.98 and scheduled to ship the last week in August, but those familiar with the label know that they can expect it even earlier.

Though The New York Times’ Clive Barnes initially dismissed Sondheim’s score as “the kind of the musical that should have its original cast album out on 78s,” it’s since been appreciated as one of the great composer/lyricist’s triumphs.  Barnes failed to see that it was a musical unlike any other.  In this phantasmagorical mélange, past met present, reality met illusion, and audiences were asked to confront their own follies via mirrors metaphorical and literal.  Even the title was weighted with multiple meanings, never better reflected than in David Edward Byrd’s poster art, with the visage of a beautiful Follies girl, irrevocably shattered.  Follies revolves around the reunion of the Weismann Girls (think the Ziegfeld Girls) at a theatre set for demolition.  Almost immediately, secrets are revealed and relationships forever altered.

The production, co-directed by Harold Prince and choreographer Michael Bennett, both coming off Sondheim’s Company (1970), is still spoken of as one of the grandest spectacles in Broadway history, not just for Boris Aronson’s luscious set and Florence Klotz’s period-perfect costumes, but for the haunting performances of its four leads: Alexis Smith (Phyllis), Gene Nelson (Buddy), Dorothy Collins (Sally) and John McMartin (Ben) and a stellar supporting cast including Yvonne DeCarlo (Carlotta), Ethel Shutta (Hattie) and Mary McCarty (Stella).  When producer Prince took Follies to Capitol Records, it was a shocking move, especially considering the remarkable recording of Company produced by Columbia’s Thomas Z. Shepard just one season earlier, and the longtime patronage of Sondheim by Columbia President Goddard Lieberson.  Capitol sealed Follies’ fate when the label elected to record Sondheim’s sprawling and ambitious score (fusing classic Broadway pastiche with a contemporary sensibility) on one LP rather than the double-album it would have taken to preserve the entire score.  Internal cuts were made to some songs, and cut others entirely, for the album produced by Dick Jones.  One song, “One More Kiss,” was later reinstated on CD, but the other missing material simply wasn’t recorded in the first place.

As a result, the original cast recording of Follies has caused, in reissue producer Bruce Kimmel’s words, “a love/hate relationship for fans of the show…but what it did have made it something that, despite the frustrations, meant it would never be bettered – the original cast.”  Thanks to Kritzerland’s new reissue, those new to Follies can hear that unassailable cast of veterans, while those who have savored the album in the past might be able to gain some new perspective on it.  We were lucky enough to speak with Kimmel just hours before he made the announcement about his new Follies, and he was generous with insights and fascinating behind-the-scenes tidbits.  Hit the jump for the full interview! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 12, 2012 at 10:00

Bacharach, Sondheim, Lloyd Webber Honored by Melissa Manchester, Dave Koz, Stephen Bishop and More on New Kritzerland Releases

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Kritzerland is reaching into the vaults of Los Angeles’ S.T.A.G.E. charitable organization for three star-filled releases celebrating composers who need no introduction: Burt Bacharach, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  These live concert recordings feature renowned artists from the worlds of pop (Melissa Manchester, Stephen Bishop) and jazz (Dave Koz, Ann Hampton Callaway) plus stars from stage, screen and television (Tyne Daly, Felicity Huffman, Len Cariou, Charlotte Rae, Donna McKechnie) and even some rather unexpected performers (Rip Taylor, Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry), all tackling selections from these deep songbooks.  The Lloyd Webber and Sondheim tributes are both 2-CD sets, while the Bacharach is a single disc.  A portion of the proceeds from all three albums will be allocated to AIDS Project L.A. and other AIDS organizations.

These releases mark a return to S.T.A.G.E., or Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event, territory for producer Bruce KimmelOn the Kritzerland label he’s issued Strouse/Schwartz/Schwartz (that’s Charles, Arthur and Stephen!) and prior to that, Kimmel produced numerous concert releases on Varese Sarabande.  As for S.T.A.G.E. itself, the company’s first such benefit took place in October 1984, honoring the music of Leonard Bernstein. Subsequent presentations have paid tribute to composers and lyricists from the musical stage including: Stephen Sondheim (1985, 1987, 1996, 2007), Jule Styne (1988), Jerry Herman (1989), John Kander and Fred Ebb (1990), Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein (1991), Irving Berlin (1992), George and Ira Gershwin (1993, 2009), Harold Arlen (1995), Cole Porter (1997), Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe and Burton Lane (1998), Richard Adler, Jerry Bock and Cy Coleman (1999), Charles Strouse, Arthur Schwartz and Stephen Schwartz (2000), Jerome Kern (2001), Johnny Mercer (2002), Frank Loesser (2003), Andrew Lloyd Webber (2004), Marvin Hamlisch and Harry Warren (2005), and Betty Comden and Adolph Green (2006).

The albums are scheduled to ship the fourth week in May, but pre-orders will likely be mailed several weeks earlier as per Kritzerland’s custom.  Hit the jump for a look at each of this trio of recordings, including full track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 13, 2012 at 16:32