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A Bigger (and Bigger) Bang: Rolling Stones Deliver Limited “Brussels” Boxes and Vinyl “Some Girls” Concert, Release Vintage Documentary [UPDATED WITH TRACK LISTING]

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If you feel like you’ve been caught in a crossfire hurricane…you’re not alone.

A rolling stone gathers no moss, and neither do The Rolling Stones.  After making headlines throughout 2012 for not celebrating their 50th anniversary with a massive tour, retrospective box set or something of the sort, the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band can’t seem to keep out of the headlines lately with a bevy of upcoming projects, including rumored performances in New York and London, two distinct documentaries, another repackaging of 2011’s Live in Texas: On Tour 1978, and three limited edition vinyl box sets of live “official bootleg” The Brussels Affair that makes the phrase “super deluxe edition” seem woefully inadequate.

Crossfire Hurricane is the title of the documentary coming from director Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture).  With a limited theatrical release planned as well as airings on HBO and the BBC, Crossfire Hurricane promises to trace the Stones’ “nearly mythical journey from outsiders to rock and roll royalty, according to the director.  But it’s not the only documentary on the band’s radar.  Charlie Is My Darling – Ireland 1965 premieres at the New York Film Festival on September 29, and arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on November 6 in standard editions and…a super deluxe box set!

Charlie is My Darling was the very first documentary to chronicle the Rolling Stones, long before they achieved mythic status.  It was filmed on a brief tour of Ireland in the aftermath of breakthrough single “(I Can’t Get No Satisfaction)” hitting No. 1.  Though it featured professionally filmed concert performances as well as behind-the-scenes segments of the group on the road, Charlie has only trickled out in brief segments over the years, some not properly synched.  Directed by Peter Whitehead (Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London) and produced by the legendary impresario (and the Stones’ manager from 1963 to 1967) Andrew Loog Oldham, the movie includes “candid, off-the-cuff interviews…juxtaposed with revealing, comical scenes of the band goofing on one another as well as unsuspecting outsiders,” according to ABKCO.  It “offers an unmatched look inside the day-to-day life of the Stones.”

Released by ABKCO Films, the new Charlie is My Darling adds previously unseen footage by director Mick Gochanour and producer Robin Klein, the Grammy-Award winning team that brought the classic The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus film to the screen in 1996.  Following the premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 29 and an encore screening on October 3 at the Walter Reade Theatre, the documentary will be broadcast on television and issued on DVD, BD and a special DVD/BD super deluxe box.  The latter will include the film on both DVD and BD, plus two CDs (Live in England 1965 and the film soundtrack) and a vinyl LP.  You can pre-order all versions here!

After the jump: the Rolling Stones revisit The Brussels Affair, but it’s not what you might be expecting!  Plus: the complete track listing to the Charlie is My Darling box set! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 27, 2012 at 13:38

Rolling Stones Flash Back To 1975 With New Archive Release “LA Friday”

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Since inaugurating the digital-only Stones Archive in late 2011 with the release of 1973’s The Brussels Affair, The Rolling Stones have made good on their promise to rescue never-before-available concerts and make them available to the public in higher quality than previous bootleg editions.  The new LA Friday follows the late January release of Hampton Coliseum:  Live 1981, which preserved a show from Hampton, Virginia.  LA Friday was recorded on July 13, 1975 at the venue known as The Forum.  Inglewood, California’s Forum opened its doors in 1967 and despite many changes of ownership (including a ten-year period under the Faithful Central Bible Church) is still a popular concert venue today.

The LA Friday title was first applied to the recording by bootleggers, but the title is actually incorrect; the recording was made on Sunday, July 13, 1975 at the last of five shows at The Forum.  The concert was part of the Rolling Stones Tour of the Americas, and celebrated the newest addition to the Stones: Ronnie Wood.  The tour festivities had begun with the Rolling Stones’ typical flash when the band played on a flatbed truck driving down New York City’s Fifth Avenue, with Wood in tow.  Joining Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman were Ian “Stu” Stewart and Billy Preston on keyboards, Ollie E. Brown on percussion and Trevor Lawrence on saxophone.

Hit the jump for more details on the gig, including the full track listing and a link on how to order this concert! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 4, 2012 at 13:20

Tattoo You: Rolling Stones Digital Archive Unveils 1981 Concert

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When the Rolling Stones opened the Stones Archive for business late in 2011 with the first-ever legitimate release of The Brussels Affair, it was greeted as somewhat of a mixed blessing.  The Archive promised to be a place where fans of the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band “can listen to unheard music, view unseen photographs and films, and look at rare merchandise. Fans have the opportunity to buy items such as signed lithographs, deluxe box sets, even personalised merchandise and tour gear in the shop.”  Of course, some lamented the lack of physical counterparts for the Archive’s releases.  Others were distressed by the lack of high-fidelity FLAC files for American customers; while purchasers abroad can choose between FLAC and MP3, the Archive’s American licensee (Google Music, via Android Market) offers only MP3.  So it’s “business as usual” for the just-announced second release from the Archives.  Whereas The Brussels Affair preserved a 1973 concert, the Archives jumps ahead to the waning days of 1981 for Hampton Coliseum: Live 1981.

Recorded in Hampton, Virginia on December 18, 1981, the digital album presents a lengthy concert from the final leg of the Tattoo You tour, and also one of six tour dates taped for radio’s King Biscuit Flower Hour.  That night in Virginia, the Stones tore through some of their latest hits from the critically and commercially successful album: “Start Me Up,” “Hang Fire,” “Little T&A,” “Black Limousine,” “Neighbours” and “Waiting on a Friend.”  Though Tattoo You was largely assembled from spruced-up outtakes (some dating back as far as a decade), the material felt fresh, and the Rolling Stones were rewarded with their final No. 1 album to date in America.  The album was still on audience members’ minds at the time of the December gig, having just been released in late August.

Hit the jump for more on Hampton Coliseum: Live 1981, including the full track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 31, 2012 at 13:05

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 19 (#10-6)

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It’s the penultimate entry in our list of Rolling Stone‘s greatest albums of all time, as seen through the reissues that have filled our shelves for years. We’ve got some heavy hitters here: Beatles, Stones, Dylan – plus what may be the greatest punk and R&B albums ever.

10. The Beatles, The Beatles (Apple, 1968)

The double-LP the world knows mostly by three other words – “The White Album” – was difficult and unusual inside and out. Most of the songs were conceived during an ultimately aborted transcendental meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi; upon returning to Abbey Road, the usually on-point studio vibe had been replaced by a hazier, more dissenting attitude, with Yoko Ono making her first of many stays in the studio with John Lennon and Ringo Starr ultimately quitting the band for two weeks. (Even producer George Martin’s patience and faith in the group was being tested – he even left the band to go on holiday for part of the sessions.) As overblown and full of oddities as the album is, though (I’m looking at you, “Rocky Raccoon”), it’s honestly hard to imagine these 30 tracks presented any other way. Given the album’s presence in the Fab Four’s discography after the monumental Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles remains an incredibly fascinating helping of the band’s already-sterling discography.

Before The Beatles’ catalogue finally made its CD debut in 1987, there was one interesting reissue on vinyl: one from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (2-072) in 1982. It was the third album by The Fab Four to receive such treatment. The Beatles was certainly part of the major push for the band on CD (Parlophone CDS 7 46443 8), the thick white butterfly case (with printed title, rather than embossed as on the original LP cover) a familiar sight in record stores for years. But this album is one of a few for The Beatles with an “extracurricular release” on CD, repackaged as a 500,000-unit limited, numbered edition in 1998 for its 30th anniversary (Apple 72434 96895 2 7) in a slipcase that better reflected the original packaging (down to the stamped serial number and iconic portrait inserts of John, Paul, George and Ringo). The most recent release, of course, was the 2009 remastered edition, available both in stereo (Apple 09463 82466 2 6) and, for the first time on CD, in mono (Apple 50999 684957 2 5). The mono mix was not released on vinyl much outside of the U.K., and is the last dedicated mono mix of a Beatles LP. It’s of course, only available in the excellent The Beatles in Mono box set (Apple 50999 699451 2 0).

9. Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde (Columbia, 1966)

In 1966, it seemed Bob Dylan wasn’t about to stop trying to surprise people. After being lauded as the greatest thing since sliced bread three years earlier, he kicked folk conventions in the ass for several years, starting with the famed “electric” set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, continuing with the staggering rock records Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited that same year and perhaps culminating with Blonde on Blonde, a sprawling double album (arguably the first major one) that balances somber (“One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later),” “Just Like a Woman”) with the occasionally humorous (the opening salvo of carnival-music-from-hell “Rainy Day Women #12 & #35”). Frankly, the whole affair is appealingly contradictory, from quintessential New York hipster Dylan’s recording much of the album in Nashville with local session players. But the results are something to praise.

Like many Dylan albums, Blonde on Blonde has been remastered a few times, but never expanded. The premiere CD release was in 1987 (Columbia CGK 841), with a MasterSound gold CD following in 1994 (Columbia CK 64411). Greg Calbi and George Marino worked on, respectively, a standard and 5.1 surround remastering of the album that was released three ways: once on SACD (Columbia CS 841) in 1999, once in 2003 as a hybrid SACD (Columbia CH 90325) and once again in 2004 as a simple CD (Columbia CK 92400). The album has since been included in its original mono mix as part of The Original Mono Recordings box set released in 2010 (Columbia/Legacy 88697 76105-2).

“I never felt so much like…” hitting the jump and checking out our next three entries!

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 23, 2011 at 02:50

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 14 (#35-31)

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Welcome to Part 14 of our look at the many reissues of the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003! We’ll explore the various versions of these classic albums on compact disc, letting you know which audio treasures can be found on which releases. In today’s group, we meet a guitar-playing alien, bring it all back home with Bob Dylan and his Band, and let it bleed with Mick and Keef!

35. David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars (RCA, 1972)

The story of Ziggy Stardust is all there in the song:

“Ziggy played guitar, jammin’ good with Weird and Gilly/The spiders from Mars, he played it left hand/But made it too far/Became the special man, then we were Ziggy’s band.  Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo/Like some cat from Japan, he could lick ’em by smiling/He could leave ’em to hang/Came on so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan…”

David Bowie embodied his titular character on his stunning 1972 breakthrough LP, and played the androgynous alien to the hilt.  A very loose concept album (Quadrophenia, this ain’t!), Ziggy wrapped crunchy hard rock riffs and atmospheric orchestration around what might have been Bowie’s strongest collection of songs yet.  On such mini-rock operas as “Suffragette City,” “Moonage Daydream,” “Hang Onto Yourself” and “Five Years,” Ziggy was joined by the searing musicianship of his Spiders from Mars: Mick Ronson (guitar, pianos, string arrangements), Trevor Bolder (bass) and Mick Woodmansey (drums).

Despite gaining stature over the years as an iconic album of the glam era, Ziggy Stardust only reached No. 75 in the U.S. (it scored significantly better in the U.K., peaking at No. 5).  Ziggy was eventually certified platinum and gold in the U.K. and U.S., respectively.  “Starman,” selected as the album’s single, reached No. 10 in the U.K., but echoing the album’s placement, it only managed to make it to No. 65 on the U.S. chart.  Still, Ziggy has been released numerous times in the compact disc age.

Its earliest domestic CD issue came from RCA in 1984 (PCD1-4702) and the tasteful sonics on this release make it a desirable pressing.  When Rykodisc acquired the Bowie catalogue, Ziggy was rolled out with five bonus tracks (RCD-90134) in 1990: demos of “Ziggy Stardust” and “Lady Stardust,” the outtakes “Velvet Goldmine” (also the B-side of the 1975 reissue of “Space Oddity”) and “Sweet Head,” plus an unreleased mix of “John, I’m Only Dancing.”  The Bowie catalogue changed hands again near the end of the decade, and the new remasters from Virgin/EMI deleted the bonus tracks from each title.  Hence, 1999’s EMI issue (7243 521900 0 3), as remastered by Peter Mew, contains only the original album line-up.  Three years later, EMI unveiled a deluxe 2-CD edition of the seminal album (7243 5 39826 2 1) for its 30th anniversary, but the remastering on this set proved controversial.  The left and right stereo channels were reversed on the original LP sequence, and some of the songs (“Hang On to Yourself,” the bridge between “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City”) were clipped.  Its second disc contains twelve tracks, many of which had been previously released by Rykodisc and spread among their 1990–92 reissues. Each of the five bonus tracks from the Rykodisc CD appears, albeit some in different form.  (“Sweet Head,” for instance, features extended studio chatter at its beginning.)  A stereo and multi-channel hybrid SACD (07243 521900 2 7) was released concurrently.  As usual, Japan has kept busy with Ziggy reissues, offering a 2007 vinyl replica edition (TOCP-70144) and a 2009 SHM-CD (TOCP-95044).  Bowie’s back catalogue is reportedly up for grabs once more.  Chances are, yet another label will soon be trotting out a reissue of Ziggy Stardust, just in time for its 40th anniversary!

34. The Band, Music from Big Pink (Capitol, 1968)

In Part 12 of our series, Mike covered The Band, the eponymous 1969 follow-up to the group’s debut, Music from Big Pink.  Though few groups would have the audacity to name themselves The Band, that’s exactly what Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel did.  Big Pink was the album where the former Hawks (and former Bob Dylan backing band) crystallized the sound that spawned a thousand imitators, returning rock to its most stripped-down American roots.

The Band worked its magic in the house that lent the album its title.  “Big Pink,” a pink-colored house in West Saugerties, New York, was the same home where Bob Dylan and the Band created the legendary “Basement Tapes” demos, which introduced songs like “The Mighty Quinn” into Dylan’s catalogue.  The bard of Hibbing, Minnesota was a major presence on Big Pink.  He co-wrote two of its tracks (“This Wheel’s on Fire” with Danko and “Tears of Rage” with Manuel) and wrote one solo (“I Shall Be Released”), and even contributed the album’s cover art!  Yet by the time of the album’s release, it was clear that The Band could step out of the master’s shadow, with a unique and original voice that was the perfect antidote to the FM hard rock sounds starting to proliferate.  Although Robbie Robertson’s “The Weight” only managed No. 63 on the singles chart, the song has become a part of the American pop standard songbook.  The album itself got as far as No. 30.

It’s no surprise, then, that Music from Big Pink has been the recipient of quite a few reissues.  Initial standard CD releases of Big Pink (Capitol CDP 7 46069 2, 1988) and the Mobile Fidelity Gold CD pressing (UDCD-527, 1989) featured the original 11-track album sequence, but Capitol rewarded Band fans in 2000 with a deluxe edition as part of its series of expanded Band remasters.  The 2000 Big Pink (Capitol 7243 5 25390 2 4) boasted a generous nine bonus tracks!  A DVD-Audio (Capitol 72434-77939-9-8, 2001) released around the same time offered the album in advanced resolution surround sound as well as stereo.  Japan got into the act in 2004 with a mini-LP replica (Capitol TOCP-67391) and in 2009, Mobile Fidelity revisited the original album on a stereo-only hybrid SACD (UDSACD 2044) in superior sound.  A 2011 U.K. edition bundled the album in a 2-CD set with its follow-up, The Band.  Surely we haven’t heard the last of Music from Big Pink!

Coming up after the jump: from the Ramones to the Stones! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 15, 2011 at 14:03

Holiday Gift Guide Review: The Rolling Stones, “Some Girls: Deluxe Edition”

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Welcome to our Second Disc Holiday Gift Guide, in which we review some titles we might have missed over the past few weeks!  The titles we’re spotlighting in this occasional series just might be candidates on your own holiday shopping list!

In a vintage clip that brings one of the biggest laughs in Martin Scorsese’s 2008 concert film Shine a Light, Mick Jagger tells an interviewer that he doesn’t anticipate getting old as a Rolling Stone…yet, nearly fifty years after the band first formed, Jagger and co. are doing just that.  But however many jokes come their way, The Rolling Stones prove time and again that they still, indeed, have what it takes.

Some still consider 1978’s Some Girls the last great Rolling Stones album.  Whether that’s the case or not, the fact remains that the album has avoided the “dated” stigma despite its pronounced nods at then-current trends like punk and disco.  When the famously aggressive Stones turned their attention to these “fads,” they did so with a ferocity that the youngsters might have envied.  So much a product of its time, Some Girls has been reissued in a variety of formats including a Deluxe Edition and the inevitable Super Deluxe Edition.  But unlike so many other Super Deluxe Editions of late, all of the core audio content (the original, remastered album and a bonus disc of twelve unreleased recordings) is available on the 2-CD version, so this is a reissue that is, happily, both deluxe and affordable.

Of course, Some Girls will always be most remembered for “Miss You,” to date the group’s final U.S. Number One pop hit.  Its stomping, danceable four-on-the-floor beat alluded to familiar disco rhythms, but the glossy production was applied to a fundamentally tough groove.  “Miss You” stood out, and still makes an electrifying album opener, from the wordless wailing to Ian McLagan’s electric piano and Mel Collins’ saxophone.  But disco wasn’t the only New York phenomenon of which the Rolling Stones took notice.  Punk occupied an equally significant place in the music climate of the time, and like disco, came from the underground in its purest form.  “When the Whip Comes Down” tapped into the seamy New York street scene in the lurid and brutal tale of gay hustler, sung by Jagger: “Yeah, mama and papa told me I was crazy to stay/I was gay in New York, a fag in L.A./ So I saved my money , and I took a plane/ Wherever I go they treat me the same /When the whip comes down .”  The song’s sleazy setting was perfectly captured in Jagger’s droning vocals, although the singer always has enough magnetism in his voice that nobody would mistake him for another poet of the streets, Lou Reed!  Still, the song’s repetitive, simple chords churned out on electric guitars feel a bit like the Stones in a Velvet playground!

If “When the Whip Comes Down” wasn’t for the faint of heart, though, what could have prepared listeners for the title song?  It’s the essence of why the band is so easy to parody, but it’s so completely true to the Rolling Stones’ persona that it defies to odds, and works.  “Some Girls” at its heart is a “list song” of the kind Cole Porter used to write, but that’s where the similarities end!  It’s loaded with (winking?) misogynistic vitriol, rendered bluntly: “White girls they’re pretty funny, sometimes they drive me mad /Black girls just wanna get fucked all night/I just don’t have that much jam!/Chinese girls are so gentle, they’re really such a tease/You never know quite what they’re cookin’/Inside those silky sleeves!”  Despite these politically correct times (and let’s face it, the Stones were the only ones who could have gotten away with these lyrics, even in 1978!), the song hasn’t aged.

That raw mean spirit continues on the garage rocker “Lies,” and even a cover of The Temptations’ gorgeous “Just My Imagination” turns lascivious at the hands of the Glimmer Twins, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts.  But if that doesn’t win the “Most Bizarre Song on the Album” trophy, “Far Away Eyes” certainly does, with its exaggerated country pastiche of the Bakersfield sound, made famous by the likes of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.  Jagger adopts a country accent, and the song even refers to that California town in its opening lines, just in case the listener wasn’t already in on the joke!  The lyric is, alas, as exaggerated as the delivery, but the song is a more-than-credible recreation of the style!

After the jump: Keith makes an impression, and the Stones open up their vaults! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 12, 2011 at 14:21

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 9 (#60-55)

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We’re nearing the halfway point of our list of all the reissues of Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 greatest albums of all time. How many do you have? What are your favorites? Which ones need reissues? Don’t be afraid to sound off! Today’s installment has a few of my own favorite albums, and all-around classics to boot.

60. Sly & The Family Stone, Greatest Hits (Epic, 1970)

Including tracks from Dance to the MusicLife and Stand! – three excellent ’60s funk albums – was impressive enough. But Sly and The Family Stone’s Greatest Hits added not one, not two, but three extra tracks, taken from singles in the summer of ’69, that were every bit as good as every single they’d released before. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” was a No. 2 pop hit and one of the season’s best feel-good grooves. But the highlight of the new material was easily the chart-topping double A-side “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” and “Everybody is a Star,” the former of which included a sound that had rarely been heard in pop music: the slap bass. Pioneered by both Graham and bassist Louis Johnson, this percussive style of playing the bass guitar – with the middle of the thumb striking the strings and the other fingers plucking them hard – became a cornerstone of the burgeoning funk style of music that Sly & The Family Stone were pioneering.

Though there were no bonus cuts on either the original CD release of the compilation (Epic EK 30325, 1990) or its Vic Anesini-remastered edition in 2007 (Epic/Legacy 82876 75910-2),  there was likely meant to have been. Legacy: Music for the Next Generation, a 1990 promotional CD heralding the start of the Legacy label, featured a version of “Thank You” that was a good minute-and-a-half longer than the original version. It’s also worth pointing out that CD versions of Greatest Hits mark the first time any of the three new tracks were heard in true stereo; LP copies used fake stereo versions rechanneled from the original mono single versions. There was, however, two quadraphonic mixes of the album (a commercially released one and an earlier test mix) that remain unreleased on CD…

59. The Beatles, Meet The Beatles! (Capitol, 1964)

Meet The Beatles! is hailed on the sleeve as “the first album by England’s phenomenal pop combo.” And while that isn’t technically true on either side of the Atlantic (Parlophone debut Please Please Me came out in England in March 1963, ten months before Meet hit the U.S., and the troubled Vee-Jay label released a cut-down version of that disc, Introducing…The Beatles, ten days before Meet), this 12-track, 27-minute disc was indeed, for many, the first opportunity to hear John, Paul, George and Ringo in the studio.

Culled from the sessions that yielded Please Please Me and follow-up With The Beatles (with which this album shared a striking front cover), Meet is certainly an intriguing album by virtue of its focus almost entirely on Lennon-McCartney compositions, rather than the mix of originals and rock and R&B covers from the first two British albums. While that’s sort of betraying the understanding of the band’s roots you get with the “official” albums, it’s hard to argue with the greatness on display here.

Meet The Beatles!, along with all the major American albums prior to 1966’s Revolver (the first album where the band’s Stateside output was more or less parallel with what Parlophone was putting out in the U.K.), was roundly ignored on CD for nearly two decades after The Fab Four made their debut on compact disc in 1987. (The equivalent worldwide albums, Please Please Me and With The Beatles, were released on CD in mono only at the time.) It wasn’t until 2004 – a good five years before the exalted release of Beatles remasters across the globe – that the release of The Capitol Albums, Volume 1 (Apple/Capitol CDP 72438 66878 2 1) gave new and old fans a chance to experience those American LPs on compact disc. The four-disc set featured Meet The Beatles, The Beatles’ Second Album, Something New and Beatles ’65 in both mono and stereo, marking the first time songs like “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “All My Loving” were heard on CD through two channels. Between this box and its 2006 sequel, audiences had a decent placeholder until the big catalogue guns came out in 2009. (The Capitol Albums, Vol. 1 exists in two editions on CD. The other, Apple/Capitol CDP 72438 75656 2 3, is packaged as a standard-sized “brick” rather than in a longbox.)

Things get strange and soulful after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 8, 2011 at 14:44

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 8 (#65-61)

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We continue our look at the many reissues of the 100 greatest albums of all time, as selected by Rolling Stone in 2003! We’ll explore the various versions of these classic albums on disc, letting you know which audio treasures can be found on which releases. It’s a marvelous night for a “Moondance” before we go “Back to Mono,” roll with the Stones and then take in latter-day classics from the 1980s and 1990s!

65. Moondance, Van Morrison (Warner Bros., 1970)

Van Morrison’s 1968 Warner Bros. debut, Astral Weeks, was a creation like no other, blending rock, jazz, folk and classical styles into a nearly indescribable tour de force.  With only eight tracks, some of them quite lengthy, Astral Weeks indicated that a major new player had arrived on the music scene.  He didn’t disappoint with 1970’s Moondance, although the album was every bit as light as Astral Weeks was bleak, and every bit as commercial as Astral Weeks was esoteric.

The soulful, jazzy title track has become a modern standard, although it wasn’t released as a single until 1977 (!) when it barely eked into the Hot 100.  “Come Running,” the original selection for a single, did manage to crack the Top 40 while the album itself managed a respectable No. 39 chart placement.  “Crazy Love” has also received its share of cover versions over the years (recently by neo-pop crooner Michael Buble) while “Into the Mystic” could be the Irish rocker’s ultimate statement.  Morrison’s ode to the power of radio, “Caravan,” is no less powerful, while album opener “And It Stoned Me” is a fan favorite to this day.

Morrison and Warner Bros. Records have reportedly been unable to come to terms over the years for a reissue of Moondance.  A bare-bones CD (Warner Bros. 3103) remains in print to this day.  A 2008 Japanese edition (Warner Japan WPCR-75420) boasted of first-ever remastering for the title, though it wasn’t made available elsewhere.  Moondance has, of course, been reissued on vinyl, and fans of the iconoclastic artist still hold out hope that an expanded, remastered Moondance will one day come to light.

64. Various Artists, Phil Spector: Back to Mono 1958-1969 (ABKCO, 1991)

I wrote of Legacy’s 2011 Phil Spector: The Philles Album Collection:

Whoa-oh, a-whoa-oh-oh-oh!

Think of The Ronettes’ wail, every bit as iconic a cry as a-whop-bop-a-loo-a-whop-bam-boom.  Doesn’t rock and roll have a way of elevating onomatopoeia to poetry?  And no label made sweeter poetry in the first half of the 1960s than Philles Records.  The voices of Ronnie Spector, Darlene Love, La La Brooks, Barbara Alston and the rest spoke directly to America’s teenagers.  These women, alternately vulnerable and defiant, were little more than girls when they began putting their voices to the “little symphonies” being crafted by producer Phil Spector and his house arrangers, most notably Jack Nitzsche.  Tom Wolfe once famously deemed Spector “America’s first teen-age tycoon.”  Why?  Spector recognized the paradigm shift in the late 1950s, when teenagers began accruing disposable income and exercising newfound spending power.  He tapped into uncharted territory.  Cole Porter and Irving Berlin weren’t writing songs about teenagers.  Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil were.  Like Spector, they were barely out of their teen years themselves.  The songs they created at Philles remain both of a distinct time, and timeless.

Those timeless recordings were first compiled for the CD era by Allen Klein’s ABKCO Records for the 1991 box set Back to Mono (7118-2).  The set brought together Spector’s earliest productions for The Teddy Bears, The Paris Sisters and Gene Pitney as well as his Philles heyday of The Ronettes, The Crystals and the Righteous Brothers, and concluded with his post-Philles productions for Ike and Tina Turner and Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd.  A number of rare tracks were released for the first time on Back to Mono, and the original A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector was included in its entirety.  Since acquiring the Spector catalogue, Legacy has released one impressive albums box set as well as five compilation discs, with hopefully more to come, such as a definitive singles collection.  But the original, now out-of-print Back to Mono remains one of the most impressive box sets of all time, and a reminder of a time when thunderous “little symphonies for the kiddies” ruled the AM airwaves.

You might want to hit the jump now, but be forewarned: your fingers might get Sticky! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 7, 2011 at 14:18

Release Round-Up: Week of November 29

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Now begins the drought. A couple of respectable catalogue titles, but it’s going to be shorter round-ups from here through 2011.

The Monkees, Instant Replay: Deluxe Edition (Rhino Handmade)

Three discs and 87 tracks worth of this underrated entry in The Monkees’ catalogue, featuring stereo and mono mixes and session takes galore.

Smashing Pumpkins, Gish / Siamese Dream: Deluxe Editions (Virgin/EMI)

The first releases in a planned three-year reissue project for Billy Corgan and his Pumpkins, the first two studio albums are augmented with rare, mostly unreleased material on a bonus CD and vintage live concerts on DVD.

The Rolling Stones, Some Girls Live in Texas (Eagle Rock)

Eagle Rock complements the recent Stones reissue with an unreleased live CD/Blu-Ray of a 1978 show.

Gorillaz, The Singles Collection (Virgin/EMI)

An animated (ho!) overview of Damon Albarn’s famous post-Blur multimedia project, featuring the band’s singles and a few rarer remixes.

Richard Thompson, Strict Tempo! (Omnivore)

Thirty years on, a remastered CD of Thompson’s self-released second solo album (released a year before the final Richard and Linda Thompson album, Shoot Out the Lights), consisting of traditional tunes and favorites almost entirely performed by Thompson (with Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention on drums).

Written by Mike Duquette

November 29, 2011 at 08:17

Start Me Up: Rolling Stones’ Digital Archive Unveils Vintage Concerts and More

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Once famously reluctant to unlock their vault, The Rolling Stones are swinging those doors wide open.  Following the deluxe, expanded editions of Exile on Main St. (1972) and Some Girls (1978), the world’s greatest rock and roll band has turned its attention to the aptly-titled Stones Archive, a digital repository of all things that Glimmer.  The band’s official site promises fans “can listen to unheard music, view unseen photographs and films, and look at rare merchandise. Fans have the opportunity to buy items such as signed lithographs, deluxe box sets, even personalised merchandise and tour gear in the shop.”

Far more exciting to most collectors than the signed swag, however, is the prospect of the digital archive rescuing some of the band’s long-buried material for official presentation.  The opening salvo is a powerful one, the first commercial release of an October 1973 concert recorded at the Forest National in Belgium.

On tour in support of 1973’s Goat’s Head Soup (the band’s final LP produced by Jimmy Miller and the album which introduced the perennial “Angie”), The Rolling Stones were at the peak of their golden age when The Brussels Affair (Live 1973) was captured on tape.  Of the 21 cities visited by Mick Jagger, Keith Records, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts and Mick Taylor, Brussels was the second-to-last stop.  Two shows were to be performed in one day but the band’s energy hardly was flagging.  The concerts’ place in band lore was solidified when the Brussels gigs began to be circulated among diehard fans in bootleg form.

The Brussels Affair (Live 1973) might be familiar to Stones collectors under such titles as Europe ’73 and Bedspring Symphony.  According to the Stones Archive, those bootlegs were derived primarily from radio broadcasts, including the storied King Biscuit Flower Hour, and often contained songs from concerts at other venues. The new edition has been created strictly from the original multi-track masters recorded by Andy Johns on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio of the two Brussels performances only. Bob Clearmountain is responsible for the final mix.

Highlights of the 15 songs on the new digital release include an epic 11-minute version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” a lusty “Brown Sugar,” a powerful 13-minute “Midnight Rambler” and a potent closing take on “Street Fighting Man.”  Along the way you’ll also hear “Angie,” of course, plus “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Tumbling Dice” and “Gimme Shelter.”  The shows were intended for commercial release at the time, but plans were ultimately shelved, until now.

Hit the jump for more, including the complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 28, 2011 at 10:05