The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘The Muppets’ Category

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

with 4 comments

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 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 »

Give ‘Em a Spin: The Second Disc’s Essential Back to Black Friday 2013 Release Guide

with 9 comments


Another year…another Black Friday. Yes, it’s that time of year again in which consumers start off the holiday shopping season on a mad, frenetic note. This year is another one in which numerous big-box retailers in the U.S. have made headlines by blackening Thursday, or Thanksgiving Day itself, by sales starting on the holiday. So many might give thanks that the folks behind Record Store Day are waiting until the traditional Friday to release their twice-yearly slate of exclusive releases.

As usual, many top artists are represented, from Bob Dylan to U2, with titles aimed coming from both the new and catalogue ends of the spectrum. With that in mind, Mike and I have once again selected our picks for the crème de la crème of titles being released this Friday. Don’t hesitate to head over and drop by your local independent record store, and don’t fear the crowds. With everybody at the mall, the Black Friday RSD event is usually a bit more manageable than the April festivities. You can find a full list of RSD Back to Black Friday exclusives (and a list of participating shops) here.

Without further ado, we’ll kick things off with five of Joe’s favorite slabs of vinyl due on Friday…

Nilsson Sessions LPNilsson, Sessions 1967-1975: Rarities from the RCA Albums Collection (RCA/Legacy)

Let’s go ahead and say it: 2013 has been The Year of Nilsson. Legacy’s well-curated sampler The Essential Nilsson whetted appetites for its crown jewel box set The RCA Albums Collection, and that landmark collection was followed by the first-ever CD reissue of Flash Harry on Varese Vintage. Now, Legacy caps off this yearlong celebration with the 180-gram vinyl release of a Nilsson album that never was. Sessions 1967-1975, adorned with Steve Stanley’s wonderful original artwork created for the box set, features twelve of the best Nilsson tracks you might not have known – and won’t soon forget. An alternate of “One” (“…is the loneliest number you’ll ever know”) and a demo of “Coconut” sit alongside John Lennon’s “Isolation” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Marry Me a Little” on this remarkable distillation of a singular musical life. To vinyl collectors who already own the box, Sessions is a fine complement. To those who don’t…you’re in for a treat. Doctor’s Orders: Put the lime in the coconut and call me in the morning.

Van Dyke Parks - Come to the Sunshine

Van Dyke Parks, “Come to the Sunshine” b/w “Farther Along” 7-inch single (Sundazed)

Musical iconoclast (and close pal and collaborator of Harry Nilsson) Van Dyke Parks returns with a replica 45 of his 1966 single, originally on the MGM label. “Come to the Sunshine” has proved a rallying cry for the sunshine pop genre, covered by artists including Harpers Bizarre – who included it as the very first track on their debut album. One part jazz, one part vaudeville, one part psychedelia and all- infectious, the intricately arranged “Come to the Sunshine” is packaged by the Sundazed crew in a new sleeve with a period photo of Parks and new liner notes from California pop historian Domenic Priore.

Percy Dovetonsils Christmas

Ernie Kovacs, A Percy Dovetonsils Christmas (Omnivore)

Omnivore has our candidate for the wackiest release of the Christmas season – or is that the Christmath theathon? Yes, everyone’s favorite lisping poet is back. And if Ernie Kovacs’ kooky creation isn’t your favorite lisping poet, he might well be once you take a chance on A Percy Dovetonsils Christmas. “The Night Before Christmas on New York’s Fashionable East Side” is a most unique Christmas Eve tale, and it’s joined on this festive vinyl 10-inch picture disc by five more of Dovetonsils’ rather refined poems. Grab your smoking jacket (zebra pattern not required) and your glasses (painted-on eyeballs optional, as well) and rest in your easy chair with some of the strangest – and most strangely enjoyable – odes you’ll hear this holiday season.

The Doors - RSD

The Doors, Curated by Record Store Day (Elektra/Rhino)

This 180-gram LP offers eight rare studio and live tracks from Jim, Ray, Robby and John including four mono mixes (“Break on Through,” “Soul Kitchen,” “Moonlight Drive” and “When the Music’s Over”) plus the LP version of “Love Street,” “The Unknown Soldier” from the Hollywood Bowl in 1968, “Roadhouse Blues” from New York’s Felt Forum in 1970, and “Five to One” from Boston, also 1970. All tracks have been remastered by Bruce Botnick, and surviving Doors Robby Krieger and John Densmore have hand-written the track listing on the artwork.

Roy Orbison - Monument Vinyl

Roy Orbison, The Monument Vinyl Box (Legacy)

Here, then, is a Monumental 4-LP box for a Monumental artist. The Big O immortalized such heartbreakingly dramatic mini-operas as “Only the Lonely,” “Crying,” “Running Scared” and “Blue Bayou,” all of which you’ll hear on the first three LPs in this new vinyl box set: Lonely and Blue, Crying and In Dreams. The fourth LP is a wholly new creation: an Oh! Pretty Woman album featuring the title track, “Ooby Dooby,” “Claudette,” and other tracks handpicked by Orbison’s sons. This one will sure look great under the tree – wrapped in some pretty paper, of course.

After the jump: Mike selects his five picks for Back to Black Friday! Read the rest of this entry »

Review: “The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording”

with 4 comments

Muppet MovieI’m a pretty sensitive person, but there are few things that trigger my emotions easier than The Muppets. Searching through Muppet clips yields almost a 100% guarantee on being moved to tears; just finding the link to this ciip from the 1990 special The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson made me start tearing up, and my last trip to Walt Disney World began with me leaving the plane to Orlando, choking back my emotions over a screening of 2011’s The Muppets. (For the record, this is the scene that made me such a mess.)

One would thus expect my revisitation of the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie (Walt Disney Records D0018525-02), back in print after a 20-year absence to commemorate the “Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition” Blu-Ray release of the 1979 film, to be accompanied with a good cry. For whatever reason, this was not the case – maybe because I’m too happy that this soundtrack is back on the market, looking and sounding better than ever.

Though it lacks audio bonus content – just the original 11-track, 33-minute album is here – the presentation is simple and effective. The static image of Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy used for the Jim Henson Records/BMG CD release in 1993 is dutifully replaced by the original colorful painting of the happy Muppet couple sailing in a small boat, a rainbow shimmering over their heads. (And, thanks to an embossed digipak design, the rainbow does give off quite a sparkle!) An eight-page booklet features a center spread of film stills, original album credits and – best of all – two pages of new liner notes by songwriter Paul Williams, whose recollections of the making of The Muppet Movie are more than enough to give you the warm fuzzies. Williams’ conversational insight on the writing process and helping supply the emotions behind a gaggle of fictional felt characters solidify just what a maniacally underrated songwriter he is. (Favorite anecdote: at the close of Williams and lyricist Kenny Ascher’s first meeting with Jim Henson for the film, Williams promises to keep the Muppet creator in the loop as the songs are written. Henson’s trusting reply: “Oh, that’s all right Paul. I’ll hear them in the studio when we record them. I’m sure they’ll be terrific.”)

Muppets still

And, by heavens, they are terrific. Aficionados can probably sing “Rainbow Connection” and the bouncy “Movin’ Right Along” by heart, but there’s not a bad tune in the bunch, from the freak-funk of Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem’s “Can You Picture That?” and Kermit and Rowlf’s comic heartbreak tale “I Hope That Something Better Comes Along” (a prime example of Henson’s genius, colorfully duetting himself) to the gorgeous ballad “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday,” sung beautifully by Dave Goelz as resident Muppet weirdo The Great Gonzo. A few brief excerpts of instrumental score, written by Williams and Ascher and arranged by Ian Freebaim-Smith, are also quite pleasant.

Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 11.30.01 PM

If there’s one thing this new edition of The Muppet Movie misses the mark on, it’s proper credit for whoever made this pressing sound so nice. A sticker on the package boasts the disc is “digitally restored from the original master,” and it certainly sounds as such, with excellent dynamic and no needless gouging of volume. (See the above waveform of “Rainbow Connection.”) But there are no mastering details in the booklet, which is frankly a bummer, because I would have gladly commended those responsible in this space. (In fact, whoever you are, I will commend you anyway!)

To see such a deserving title get this kind of a red-carpet treatment is the kind of thing that, like The Muppets themselves, gives me hope for the future. I would love to see Disney utilize their sterling relationship with Kermit, Piggy Fozzie and the gang to put other long-deleted Muppet albums back onto CD where they belong. (With a new film, Muppets Most Wanted, releasing in March, there’s no time like the present!)

Until then, though? The Muppets were never above using oft-repeated turns of phrase to wrap things up, so – to quote The Muppet Movie‘s most enduring song, this new reissue is the perfect package for the lovers, the dreamers – and you.

The Muppet Movie soundtrack is a maniacally affordable $9.99 at!

Written by Mike Duquette

August 15, 2013 at 08:49

Posted in Reissues, Reviews, Soundtracks, The Muppets

Tagged with

All of Us Under Its Spell: Disney Reissues “Muppet Movie” Soundtrack to Coincide with Blu-Ray Release

with 3 comments

Muppet MovieIt begins so simply, as all immortal songs do: a hopeful melody, plucked on a banjo by the versatile flippers of a frog. “Why are there so many songs about rainbows / And what’s on the other side?” sings Kermit the Frog, in one of the unmistakable voices of his creator Jim Henson.

If Henson and Sam Pottle’s theme to The Muppet Show is the national anthem of those long-running, lovable fur and felt characters, “The Rainbow Connection” is its “God Bless America.” Kermit’s ode to “the lovers, the dreamers…and me,” as penned by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher, is one of the most indelible musical moments in a film already full of them.

This month, as Disney debuts The Muppet Movie on Blu-Ray in a “Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition, Walt Disney Records will reissue its original soundtrack album, its first bow on CD in two decades. After the jump, learn more about the movie (and the soundtrack) that lives up to the promise on the poster: “More Fun Than Humanly Possible!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 22, 2013 at 13:07

Holiday Tunes Watch, Part 3: John Denver, Muppets Go “Urban” on Vinyl

leave a comment »

Is the outpouring of love for the new Muppets film still not enough for you? Of course not! So you’ll be happy to know that there’s yet another great musical collectible (after Disney’s fun reissue of the 2006 A Green and Red Christmas) that celebrates our fur and felt friends, not to mention one gone-but-not-forgotten pop favorite: a vinyl reissue of the beloved holiday album by John Denver and The Muppets.

Maybe it was his just-offbeat-enough sensibilities in public – the onstage good-natured behavior that just barely betrayed a distinctly liberal slant – or maybe it was the physical similarities to Scooter, the Muppet’s faithful gofer and nephew of the owner of the Muppet Theater. But John Denver was a lifelong friend to Jim Henson and his band of colorful characters, and nowhere did it manifest more famously than John Denver and The Muppets: A Christmas Together, a 1979 album and subsequent television special.

While that special has yet to be released on DVD (come on, Disney!), the album has been readily available on CD and through iTunes for several years. This reissue, however, is a special one for vinyl collectors: an LP version, with all the original artwork restored (you have to love those Muppet Christmas cards on the gatefold sleeve!) pressed on “Kermit-green” vinyl, along with a download card to enjoy the album on your iPod. It’s available exclusively in stores and online at Urban Outfitters, the offbeat mall chain specializing in kitschy and ironic apparel and gifts. Rest assured, though: there’s nothing ironic about giving the gift of Muppets (or John Denver!) this holiday season.

Stroll down memory lane with the album track list after the jump, and click on the link in the last paragraph to order your copy!

(A hearty thanks to super-reader Jeff S. for the tip!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 2, 2011 at 13:50

Friday Feature: Muppet Memories

with 4 comments

This month, it’s finally time to play the music and light the lights, with the release of The Muppets, a brand new film featuring Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo and just about all of Jim Henson’s furry, felt-covered creations in an all-new story co-written by fabulous funnyman and human co-star Jason Segel (star of TV’s How I Met Your Mother and co-writer and star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

The film, which sees the Muppet gang reunite after years out of the limelight to save their old theatre, is unquestionably one of the major motion picture events of the year, bringing the characters back to a generation that hasn’t had many opportunities to catch them in film or television (the last theatrical venture was 1999’s commercially disappointing Muppets from Space). But more excitingly, it is a great movie. Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s script strikes the perfect balance between unabashed appreciation for the characters and accessible, tasteful humor for modern-day kids and their parents. It wouldn’t be out of place to imagine the dearly departed Henson appreciating its simple, timeless message of the power of friendship and laughter in the face of a pop-cultural landscape that too often dabbles in cynicism and irony.

And the music! Longtime fans will appreciate the appearance of some of the most famous Muppet tunes in the new film, but the new songs, most of them written by Bret McKenzie – best known as half of the comedy-folk duo Flight of the Conchords – possess exactly the kind of spirit you’d want from a Muppet movie. (In particular, “Life’s a Happy Song” is destined to score more than a few trips to the Disney parks.) Indeed, music has been an integral part of Muppetology since the very beginning: from the inescapable theme from Sesame Street to the endearing kitchen-sink/music hall playlists of each episode of The Muppet Show (often sprinkled with a dash of endearing originals, like Joe Raposo’s “Bein’ Green”).

It’s in that spirit that we present this weekend’s Friday Feature, which showcases the soundtracks of those first three Muppet movies which set the template for this great new one. All of them have some wonderfully captivating songs (and stories behind songs) as well as – what else? – checkered histories on CD. So for the lovers, the dreamers and you: this is our tribute to Muppet movie music, and it starts after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 25, 2011 at 11:17

Weekend Wround-Up – Holiday Edition: Dean Martin, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and The Muppets!

with 2 comments

  • Dean Martin only recorded two Christmas albums in his career, one for Capitol (1959’s A Winter Romance) and one for Reprise (1966’s The Dean Martin Christmas Album).  Yet every year, Martin’s holiday catalogue from both labels is usually reconfigured for a new release, often with songs added (singles, alternate takes, remixes), dropped or otherwise altered.  2011 is no exception, so completists might want to be on the lookout for this year’s edition of My Kind of Christmas on the Hip-o Records label.  This release follows the 2009 collection of the same name but replaces the artwork and substitutes a posthumous Scarlett Johansson duet of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in place of the Martin original.  My Kind of Christmas follows the 2004 and 2006 iterations of Christmas with Dino, the 2010 A Very Cool Christmas (repackaging and renaming the Reprise album), 1998’s Making Spirits Bright, and scores of other similar collections drawing on the material from both labels, including Rat Pack-themed anthologies.  “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” isn’t Martin’s first artificial holiday duet; Martina McBride joined Dean on the 2006 Christmas with Dino for “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
  • Among this year’s rather slim crop of new Christmas offerings, one of the more interesting albums is Seasons Greetings: A Jersey Boys Christmas (Rhino R2 528586).  Members of various companies of the Broadway musical Jersey Boys have teamed up for this album of seasonal favorites, including Tony Award winner John Lloyd Young, who originated the role of Frankie Valli in New York.  The Four Seasons’ original member and producer Bob Gaudio has produced the album, with many (though not all) of the arrangements in classic Seasons style.  If you’re planning to take a chance on this fun collection, however, you might want to pick it up at Target.  The retail giant is offering a special edition with three bonus tracks: the brief interlude “Time Tunnel” (“Deck the Halls”) and two songs from the original 1962 Four Seasons’ Greetings LP performed by the actual Four Seasons. “Merry Christmas Medley (We Wish You a Merry Christmas/Angels from the Realms of Glory/Hark the Herald Angels Sing/It Came Upon a Midnight Clear)” and “What Child is This.”

Hit the jump to play the music and light the lights with the Muppets! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 11, 2011 at 10:09