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Short Takes: Digital Updates on Billy Joel, Black Sabbath and More

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When not releasing intriguing physical products, sometimes labels like to do neat things to spice up their digital offerings, making complete discographies available or taking advantage of Apple’s “Mastered for iTunes” initiative. Here’s a few notable digital-oriented stories we’ve caught wind of in recent days!

52nd Street Billy Joel

  • He’s a living legend, a multiplatinum bestseller, a Kennedy Center honoree and – in 2014 – the first musical franchise at New York’s Madison Square Garden. This week, Legacy Recordings calibrated Billy Joel’s resurgence into a newly-streamlined offering on iTunes. All of the Piano Man’s studio and live albums have been Mastered for iTunes, and the 2011 Complete Albums Collection is available for digital purchase as well. (This box does, of course, not entirely live up to its title: several live albums, including KOHUEPT (1987) and 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert (2000), are omitted in favor of a bonus disc collecting tracks from compilations and other rarities, many found on the My Lives box set of 2005.)

    But it’s not only about digital treats for Joel: next week, Showtime will premiere a new documentary about Joel’s sojourn to the Soviet Union to perform live in 1987 – one of a few Western acts to penetrate the Iron Curtain. A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia combines new interviews with rare and unreleased concert and behind-the-scenes footage of Joel, his band and his family in what was a very strange land to an American in the late ’80s. (I’d be surprised if we didn’t see a release of this film, perhaps paired with the original KOHUEPT concert film released on videotape back in the day.)

We Sold Our Soul for Rock N Roll

  • Hot off the success of their latest album, last year’s 13 (which reunited most of the band’s classic lineup), metal gods Black Sabbath have also been treated to a fancy new iTunes store. The Mastered for iTunes treatment is only bestowed on the albums with the original lineup of vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward – that’d be 1970’s self-titled debut to 1978’s Never Say Die, plus the compilations We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘N’ Roll (1976) and Greatest Hits 1970-1978 (2006) – but it looks like the original albums are all there. (A digital box set collecting those MFiT titles is also available.)

Romantics

  • They’re best known for a pair of New Wave/MTV-friendly singles – 1979’s “What I Like About You” and 1983’s Top 5 hit “Talking in Your Sleep.” But Legacy Recordings has made all five of The Romantics’ albums for Nemperor Records (now part of the Epic Records family) available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. Digital newcomers National Breakout (1980), Strictly Personal (1981) and In Heat (1983) – which spun off “Talking in Your Sleep” – join 1980’s self-titled debut and their Nemperor swan song Rhythm Romance (1985) on all digital providers.

Si Se Puede

  • On March 11, in honor of legendary activist Cesar Chavez’s birthday at the end of the month (and a forthcoming biopic starring Michael Peña as the labor leader), Fantasy Records will digitally release a Chavez tribute album, Sí Se Puede!, for the first time. This 1976 LP, which donated money to Chavez’s United Farm Workers, marked the recording debut of East L.A. band Los Lobos, two years before their proper debut LP and a decade before attaining international acclaim on the soundtrack to La Bamba.

Written by Mike Duquette

January 23, 2014 at 17:31