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Virgin Records Celebrates “40 Years of Disruptions” with New Compilation, Picture Discs

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Virgin 40Virgin Records, one of England’s most iconic labels, turns 40 this year – and they’re celebrating with a new compilation full of hits from their storied existence.

The Virgin label was largely the brainchild of one young businessman named Richard Branson. The London-born Branson began his career selling records by mail order and later opening a shop on Oxford Street. The Virgin label was blessed with early success thanks to a willingness to sign acts that major U.K. labels were keen to dismiss. This netted them a smash hit with their very first release, Mike Oldfield’s captivating instrumental “Tubular Bells,” as well as a place in cultural history as the label who’d ultimately made the strongest commitment to punk band The Sex Pistols, after EMI and A&M each dropped the band. (It was Virgin who’d pressed the commercial version of their No. 2 hit “God Save The Queen” as well as their sole studio album, Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols.)

The decades to come found Virgin succeeding with all sorts of genres: MTV-ready pop/rock (Culture Club, The Human League, The Spice Girls), groundbreaking alt-rock and New Wave (Simple Minds, XTC), multi-generational rock (Genesis and its two most famous frontmen, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins; The Rolling Stones, for a time) hip-hop and dance (Soul II Soul, Neneh Cherry, Daft Punk, Massive Attack) and more, all the way up to the present (recent critical and commercial hits include tracks by Swedish House Mafia, Emili Sandé and CHVRCHES).

Branson would ultimately sell Virgin to EMI in 1992 to keep other parts of his business empire afloat; the iconoclastic entrepreneur found success in everything from air travel to publishing to music festivals (Europe’s V Festival) to record stores (the late Virgin Megastores) to mobile phones to…well, even more interesting stuff (Branson plans to be aboard the inaugural Virgin Galactic flight – a commercial space trip – this year.) The label continues to exist, now of course under the Universal Music Group family.

Virgin Records: 40 Years of Disruptions plans to honor the label’s indomitable spirit across two discs, along with a bonus EP of current Virgin artists covering some classic tracks, including cuts by John Lennon, Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack and others. The set is in stores today, amid a swath of exhibitions in honor of the label around the U.K. area. The label is also selling a handful of their most beloved titles, including singles and albums, as limited edition vinyl titles (many of which are picture discs). The full list is available at Universal’s Uvinyl page.

As always, you can check out the track list and buy the set after the jump.

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Release Round-Up: Week of September 25

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Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb, In Session (Concord)

The legendary songwriter and equally legendary country superstar join forces for two 1988 television broadcasts, joined together on one DVD and accompanied by a CD of the programs’ musical selections!  Campbell’s only recording of Webb’s “Sunshower” can be found here, among other gems.  For those of you anticipating the arrival of In Session today, it appears that this title has been delayed until October 9!  You can read more about it here.  Now, onto some titles actually arriving in stores today…

Aretha Franklin, Love All the Hurt Away / MFSB, Love is the Message / Platypus, Platypus / Lipps, Inc., Mouth to Mouth / Dionne Warwick, Heartbreaker (Big Break Records)

It’s another soul banquet from the good people at Big Break Records with expanded and remastered titles from the catalogues of Casablanca, Arista and Philadelphia International!  Watch for features and reviews on all of the above, coming soon!  These are out in the U.K. today, while a U.S. berth follows next week.

Dickie Goodman, Long Live the King/Moving Sidewalks, The Complete Collection (RockBeat)

RockBeat Records returns with two new releases: a single-disc compilation spanning the career of the “break-in record” king, Dickie Goodman, and a two-CD anthology of music from Billy Gibbons’ pre-ZZ Top band, The Moving Sidewalks!  Here’s the scoop on these titles and more from RockBeat.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The 50th Anniversary Collection (Columbia/Legacy)

The New Orleans institution turns 50, and celebrates the occasion with this deluxe box set of performances recorded between 1962 and 2010, including five previously unreleased tracks!  Read more here!

R.E.M., Document: 25th Anniversary Edition (EMI)

R.E.M.’s fifth studio album has turned 25!  Document was recorded by vocalist Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry, and was the band’s first album to achieve platinum sales.  The remastered album is joined by a previously unreleased 1987 concert, and it’s all packaged in a sturdy lift-top box with four postcards.  Read all about it here.

Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia, Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings (Fantasy/Concord)

Fantasy Records issues four CDs of prime live Garcia, in which the Grateful Dead leader is joined by Merl Saunders.  These remarkable Bay Area performances are packaged in a handsome box with copious notes and a bit of swag, too.  Watch for our review as part of our Holiday Gift Guide, coming soon!

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., Christmas with the Rat Pack (Capitol)

2012 is bringing another new version of Capitol’s Rat Pack holiday compilation, and it appears to have lost a few tracks since its original 2002 release (and subsequent 2006 reissue).  Still, this music simply can’t be beat, pallies.

Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols: Super Deluxe Edition (Universal U.K.)

Never mind the rest, the Sex Pistols have gone super-deluxe!  That means you’ll get a remastered version of the original album, a CD of outtakes and rarities (including previously unreleased tracks), a live CD, and a DVD, too, plus the requisite swag including a replica of the original A&M pressing of “God Save the Queen.”  This is available in the U.K. now, and in the U.S. next week!  If you don’t think this set is a load of bollocks, you’ll want to read more about it here!

Barbra Streisand, Release Me (Columbia)

La Streisand unlocks the vault doors for this first collection of previously-unreleased material recorded between 1967 and 2011, with songs by world-class composers like Jimmy Webb, Randy Newman, Paul Williams and Michel Legrand.  Word has it that future volumes might follow as Streisand kicks off her 50th year of recording for Columbia Records.  Release Me is out today on vinyl, while the CD release follows on October 9.

The John Wilson Orchestra, That’s Entertainment: A Celebration of the MGM Film Musical (EMI)

The John Wilson Orchestra’s 2009 BBC Prom concert, with guest stars Seth MacFarlane, Kim Criswell and Curtis Stigers singing reconstructed tunes from classic MGM musicals, receives an American release.  It’s available as a standard edition and a deluxe one, with the latter containing liner notes and session photos in a casebound, hardcover book plus a DVD containing a featurette and music videos.  A stand-alone DVD of the concert is also available.

Frank Zappa, 12 catalogue reissues (UMe/Zappa Records)

Twelve more Zappa classics arrive on CD, many in freshly-remastered editions. Full details and pre-order links for every title can be found in yesterday’s full rundown, or just click on the li’l fella, above, to order and jump headfirst into FZ Territory!

Warren Zevon, Mr. Bad Example/Mutineer (Friday Music)

The late Warren Zevon’s witty, mordant and moving oeuvre is celebrated on this two-fer from Friday Music, bringing together his 1991 and 1995 studio albums.

Original Soundtrack, Dirty Dancing: The Anniversary Edition (RCA/Legacy)

Will you have the time of your life with this deluxe version of the smash soundtrack album to the 1987 film?  Only the original 12 songs are present, but they’re joined in a commemorative package by six suitable-for-framing art cards and a bumper sticker.

Box Watch: Preview Videos for Deluxe Peter Gabriel, Sex Pistols Sets

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Before we close up shop at Second Disc HQ today, we thought you might want to have a look at two newly released videos showcasing two upcoming deluxe box sets. Above we see the packaging and part of the video content for Peter Gabriel’s So box set (out October 22), and below we see the book that comes with Universal’s upcoming Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols deluxe set, due in stores September 24. (The prime unreleased outtake, the unreleased demo “Belson Was a Gas” with Johnny Rotten’s original vocal track, was also released for streaming today after a premiere on BBC 6 earlier this week. Enjoy them both, and don’t forget to sound off below!

Written by Mike Duquette

September 11, 2012 at 17:11

Get Pissed, Destroy: Contents of Sex Pistols’ “Bollocks” Box Unveiled

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You can argue whether or not punk is dead until you’re blue in the face – but you can’t deny catalogue music is on the ropes, as the recently-announced details of a super deluxe edition of Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, arguably the primo example of the punk genre.

Not long ago, we noticed that Never Mind The Bollocks – that incendiary album that seemed to threaten to upend social order in England, with sneering single “God Save the Queen” released in step with the royal family’s silver jubilee – has actually not been reissued often, aside from a 1996 expansion that included one of the only official releases of the fabled bootleg/”demo” album Spunk, featuring rawer, alternate versions of the Pistols’ first tunes. It was easy to speculate why: reportedly, the master tapes were nowhere to be found at least through 2007, prompting the band to reunite in-studio to re-record “Anarchy in the U.K.” and “Pretty Vacant” for use in a Guitar Hero video game.

The news that the tapes have apparently been found and utilized for a brand-new remaster of the album (credited to engineer Tim Young “under the guidance of original producer Chris Thomas”) on this set is, it seems, only half the fun. Two bonus CDs are included in the box featuring not only the Spunk tracks newly remastered from the original tapes, but a pair of live shows from 1977 and a host of outtakes from the Bollocks sessions with Chris Thomas – including, for the first time, the original studio version of the incredibly controversial “Belsen Was a Gas,” featuring John Lydon’s original vocal track instead of the Ronnie Biggs vocal track heard on The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle.

In addition, a DVD will be featured, packed with extras including videos, vintage interviews with all of the band’s principal members (vocalist Lydon, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassists Glen Matlock and punk icon Sid Vicious) and live footage, including the band’s infamous trek down the River Thames on the day of the Jubilee festivities. Extra swag included in the box is a replica of the original A&M single version of “God Save the Queen” (a re-pressing earlier this year earned Lydon’s criticism), a 100-page hardback book featuring liner notes written by former MOJO editor Pat Gilbert, and replicas of an original promo poster, stickers and handwritten lyrics to “God Save the Queen.”

The set, to be released in the U.K. by Universal Music Group (who now has control of the album instead of Virgin/EMI), streets on September 24. A cut-down double-disc reissue will be available as well. Hit the jump for the full specs on the box!

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Written by Mike Duquette

July 25, 2012 at 12:19

Short Takes: Sex Pistols to Reissue Another Single, Waylon’s Last Works Due in Fall

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  • The Sex Pistols’ controversial single “God Save the Queen” is getting repressed for its 35th anniversary on May 28. Universal Music Catalogue in the U.K. will re-release the single, a month after repressing “Anarchy in the U.K.” for Record Store Day and four months before reissuing the band’s Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols. It is unknown if the single, released alongside the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, will feature “No Feeling,” the original B-side on the extremely rare A&M pressing of the single, or “Done You No Wrong” from the subsequent Virgin reissue. (It’s worth noting that band frontman John Lydon has spoken out against the single release, saying it “undermines what The Sex Pistols stood for.”
  • The Los Angeles Times reports that the final recordings from country legend Waylon Jennings will see a release on September 11. Goin’ Down Rockin’: The Last Recordings features 12 unreleased tracks partially recorded by Jennings and bassist Robby Turner before his death in 2002, augmented with newly-recorded overdubs by former collaborators including Tony Joe White (who co-wrote one track on the album). Time Life’s Saguaro Road Records will distribute.

Written by Mike Duquette

April 17, 2012 at 14:35

Short Takes: New Cash, Pistols Sets Coming in 2012

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  • Yesterday, February 26, would have been the 80th birthday of Johnny Cash, and his family tells Rolling Stone that there are quite a few festivities planned – and that includes some catalogue activity. We already know about Legacy’s Bootleg IV: The Soul of Truth in April, which collects rare and unreleased gospel material from the ’70s and ’80s. But the RS story also hints at a possible seventh volume of Cash’s American Recordings series as well as a possible PopMarket-style box of “everything Cash released on Sun and Columbia Records in the first three decades of his recording career, along with unreleased music.”
  • It looks like one of the biggest shoo-in anniversary reissues of the year is one step closer to reality: NME reports that The Sex Pistols have signed to Universal Music Catalogue in the U.K. ahead of a forthcoming 35th anniversary expansion of iconic LP Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols. The album was originally released by Virgin in 1977.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 27, 2012 at 16:17

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 12 (#45-41)

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You know the drill: Rolling Stone‘s 100 greatest albums of all time, as assessed by us in terms of their many reissues, to bring you the best-sounding and most thoroughly expanded editions for your buck. The Band literally plays on as we kick off this installment!

45. The Band, The Band (Capitol, 1969)

After the great debut Music from Big Pink the year before, The Band drew on concepts of Americana and rural history for their follow-up. There was no sophomore slump here; guitarist Robbie Robertson’s songwriting was becoming even more top-notch (he wrote or co-wrote every song on the album), and the band was sounding as flawlessly arranged as ever, particularly definitive folk tracks like “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

Capitol first released The Band on CD in 1987 (CDP 7 46493 2) and expanded it in 2000 with seven bonus tracks, including a non-LP B-side, “Get Up Jake,” and six alternate takes. (Andrew Sandoval and Dan Hersch mastered this release – Capitol 72435 25389 2 8.) In 2009, Audio Fidelity released a Gold CD mastered by Steve Hoffman (AFZ 032) which featured “Get Up Jake” as a bonus track.

44. Patti Smith, Horses (Arista, 1975)

The New York singer/poet’s incendiary debut was an American forerunner of punk rock, an eclectic mix of jazz and rock that took forms short (straight-ahead rock songs “Redondo Beach” and “Free Money”) and long (the suites “Gloria,” “Birdland” and “Land”). If all you know is Smith’s still gorgeous Bruce Springsteen cover “Because the Night,” this is the one to pick up.

Horses‘ release history on CD is nice and neat. The first release on the format was in 1988 (Arista ARCD-8362), followed by a remaster by Vic Anesini in 1996 (Arista 07822 18827-2) which featured one bonus track, a live cover of The Who’s “My Generation.” In 2005, a Legacy Edition was released (Arista/Legacy 82876 71198-2); officially titled Horses/Horses, it features the same contents of the ’96 reissue (albeit remastered by Greg Calbi) and a bonus disc featuring a live performance of the whole album (and “My Generation”) from London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2005, with Television’s Tom Verlaine and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea serving as part of the backing band.

After the jump, a trip to the dark side, the debut of an iconic ’60s band and the punk rock statement of the millennium!

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 13, 2011 at 23:19