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The Year In Reissues: The 2014 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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Gold CDWelcome to The Second Disc’s Fifth Annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards!

As with every year’s awards, our goals are simple: to recognize as many of the year’s most essential reissues and catalogue titles as possible, and to celebrate as many of those labels, producers and artists who make these releases happen in an increasingly-challenging retail landscape.  The labels you’ll read about below have, by and large, bucked the trends to prove that there’s still a demand for physical catalogue music that you can purchase in brick-and-mortar stores.  And from our vantage point, there’s still great strength and health in our corner of the music industry.  By my estimate, The Second Disc covered roughly 500 compact disc releases in 2014 – and we have no reason to believe that number will decrease in the year ahead.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to the creators of the music and releases we cover, to the dedicated retailers who continue to support catalogue titles, and most importantly, to you, our readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past – this site’s raison d’etre – alive and well.

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

Sign of the Times: “Look For A Star” Collects Early Songs of Tony Hatch

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Tony Hatch - Look for a StarEncouraged by his publisher to pen a song for a Norman Wisdom film in pre-production, teenager Tony Hatch wrote “Follow a Star.”  Though the beloved British comedian passed on it, the tune found its way into a B-movie called Circus of Horrors with a new title: “Look for a Star.”  The same week in June 1960, four recordings of the pretty little tune entered the Billboard Hot 100 across the pond.  Dean Hawley reached No. 29, Billy Vaughn made it to No. 19, Garry Miles hit No. 16, and the original by Garry Mills peaked at No. 26.  Two of those recordings, by Mills and Vaughn, feature on the él label’s first-ever anthology of the early recordings of Tony Hatch, future hitmaker for Petula Clark, The Searchers, Scott Walker, Jackie Trent and so many others .

Titled after his first hit record, Look for a Star presents 36 cuts (some impossibly rare) released between 1959 and 1962 including all 22 of the single sides recorded by Hatch for Pye and Top Rank during that period.   Look for a Star has arrived almost simultaneously with Ace’s Colour My World: The Songs of Tony Hatch which spans 1960-1974; as such, it’s an ideal companion and prologue.  You won’t hear “Downtown,” “I Know a Place” or “Sugar and Spice” here.  What you will hear is the composer-arranger developing his own sound from the various strands that were occupying the Brit and American pop scenes.    This is an ideal companion to él’s previous sets chronicling the early, formative songs of Burt Bacharach, a composer to whom Hatch has frequently been compared.

A prime, early influence on Tony Hatch – often writing under the nom de plume Mark Anthony – was the U.S. Brill Building sound.  You’ll hear more than a trace of Goffin and King or Mann and Weil in Julie Grant’s debut single “Somebody Tell Him.”  (Hatch helmed 15 singles for Grant including the supremely melancholy “Lonely without You” which is featured on the Ace compilation.)  He even produced a recording of Barry Mann and Howard Greenfield’s teen-themed “Warpaint,” which Mann had introduced in 1960, for The Brook Brothers.  The arrangement of “Warpaint” improved on the original, with added urgency and a bigger sound; Hatch was already proving adept at adapting youthful rock-and-roll to his widescreen orchestral sensibility.  One of the most enjoyable tracks here is another teen opus, “Tell-Tale,” recorded by Nashville’s Anita Kerr in multi-tracked fashion as the one-girl girl group Anita and th’ So-and-So’s.  Hatch had recorded it himself in the U.K. with The Brook Brothers.

There’s more of an appropriately European flavor on Danny Davis’ buoyant “Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day,” and solid pop offerings from Jimmy Justice (“When Love Has Left You”) and Mark Wynter (the square but pretty, slightly country ballad “Please Come Back to Me” which backed Wynter’s Hatch arrangement of the Jimmy Clanton hit “Venus in Blue Jeans”).  Throughout his career, Hatch wrote and/or recorded a number of novelty songs; an early example here is “Summer Snow” for the Scottish, kilt-wearing teen singing star Jackie Dennis.  Then there’s The Mike Sammes Singers’ “Stork Talk,” a bouncy movie theme from 1962.   The future Engelbert Humperdinck, under his real name Gerry Dorsey, is hardly identifiable on “Crazy Bells,” often identified as Hatch’s first pop composition.  (Many of these tracks were arranged by Johnny Douglas or Bob Leaper; in the future, Hatch would orchestrate his own material.)  The most atypical song on Look for a Star is the acoustic folk ballad “Messing About on the River,” a hit single in 1962 for Josh MacRae.

After the jump, we have plenty more on Look for a Star including the complete track listing with order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 12, 2014 at 10:33

Posted in Compilations, News, Reviews, Tony Hatch

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I Know A Place: Petula Clark, Scott Walker, Connie Francis Celebrate “The Songs of Tony Hatch”

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Colour My WorldAce Records’ latest addition to its Songwriters Series, Colour My World: The Songs of Tony Hatch, should come with a warning label – CAUTION: THESE SONGS WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY.   A composer, lyricist, producer, arranger and A&R man (whew!), Hatch was a hitmaker par excellence, and one of no small skill for imparting joy through his music. Petula Clark’s bright 1964 single “Downtown” alone would likely have assured Hatch a place in the Book of Pop, Swingin’ Sixties chapter. But listening to a whopping 25 of his best pop confections back-to-back, it’s apparent how this versatile craftsman deserves a place at the top of the pantheon. It’s also clear just how central the beat is to his work. A Tony Hatch song pulsates with energy, vibrancy, urgency and above all else, abundant heart. That throbbing thump is often surrounded by punchy brass or majestic strings, and always in service of a catchy melody that’s determined to lodge itself in your brain and never leave. Drawing on the period between 1960 and 1974, when Hatch was at his most active, Colour My World is a stunning and effervescent compendium from a songwriter who hasn’t always gotten his full due.

Two women figure prominently in the Tony Hatch story and on Colour My World: Petula Clark and Jackie Trent. Hatch, a key producer and A&R man at the U.K.’s Pye label, recorded enough songs with Clark between 1963 and 1970 to fill a 3-CD box set. About half of those songs featured lyrics by Jackie Trent. A prolific composer-lyricist, Hatch forged a partnership in early 1965 with Pye artist Trent, who would become his wife. In short order, “Hatch/Trent” would become as familiar a credit as “Tony Hatch” and the couple would record a number of successful albums together. Colour My World gives Hatch’s work with both ladies ample time.

Petula Clark was already a star when she began working with Tony Hatch, but 1964’s “Downtown” – written, produced and arranged by Tony – returned her to the U.K. Top 20 (only her first single since 1961 to do so) and earned her not just her first American hit, but a bona fide Number One. It’s one of four Clark/Hatch collaborations here. In two minutes and seventeen seconds, the song has it all: one of the best piano introductions ever, a compelling, inviting vocal, a killer hook, and a universal lyric with which anybody could, and did, identify. “Downtown” hits its ebullient stride with a powerful instrumental break just under the two-minute mark, but its liberating call had already proved irresistible. Though Hatch had scored hits prior to “Downtown,” the time was right for his breakthrough. The Tony Hatch sound was youthful, vibrant and hip enough for the kids, but smart and “safe” enough for the adults.

We have plenty more on the music man after the jump including the complete track listing with discography and order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 11, 2014 at 09:56

Release Round-Up: Week of June 10

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Chicago Hit Factory

Various Artists, Chicago Hit Factory: The Vee-Jay Story 1953-1966 (Charly) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This import box set tells the story of great R&B label Vee-Jay Records via a whopping 10 discs, 269 tracks (including 112 hits) by more than 120 different artists, and a 72-page book.  Artists include Jerry Butler, The Four Seasons, The Beatles, Gene Chandler, Little Richard, Betty Everett, The Dells and The Standells!  Jazz, gospel, blues and doo-wop all figure prominently along with the label’s trademark soul and R&B sounds.  The full track listing can be found here.

Louis Armstrong and His Friends

Louis Armstrong, Louis Armstrong and His Friends (Ace) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ace has a straight reissue of Satchmo’s 1970 album for the Flying Dutchman label on which the jazz legend was joined by producer and label owner Bob Thiele (co-writer of “What a Wonderful World”) and arranger-conductor Oliver Nelson for a set including standards (“My One and Only Love,” “Mood Indigo”), contemporary material (“Give Peace a Chance,” “Everybody’s Talkin’”) and, yes, a new recording of “What a Wonderful World.”  Of special note is the star-studded rendition of “We Shall Overcome” with a chorus including Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and Tony Bennett!  Armstrong’s ill health prevented him from playing his horn on this LP, but his message of peace and brotherhood came through loud and clear.

Brownie Speaks

Clifford Brown, Brownie Speaks: The Complete Blue Note Albums (Blue Note) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The latest Blue Note Select release brings together the jazz trumpeter’s three 10-inch albums from 1953 as recorded with trombonist J.J. Johnson (Jay Jay Johnson with Clifford Brown), saxophonist Lou Donaldson (New Faces New Sounds) and his own sextet (New Star on the Horizon), and adds live recordings from New York’s Birdland.  The 3-CD set presents the three original 10-inch album sequences for the first time since the mid-1950s, with the Birdland shows in their original performance sequence for the first time ever.  Look for more details later today!

Colour My World

Tony Hatch, Colour My World: The Songs of Tony Hatch (Ace) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Look for Joe’s review tomorrow of this hit-packed anthology from Ace dedicated to the British hitmaker behind “Downtown,” “Call Me,” “Sugar and Spice” and so many other songs that defined the sound of the Swingin’ Sixties!  Colour My World features tracks from Petula Clark, Scott Walker, The Searchers, Jack Jones, Chris Montez, and more!

Arthur Prysock - Too Late Baby

Arthur Prysock, Too Late Baby: The Old Town Singles 1958-1966 (Ace/Kent) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ace delivers the very first CD compilation of the R&B baritone’s classic singles for New York’s Old Town label. Many of these 24 tracks have never been reissued at all, in any format. A versatile singer who might bring to mind Lou Rawls or Billy Eckstine, Prysock was equally comfortable with R&B and smooth balladry; all sides of his talent are on display on this collection of some of the rarest material in his considerable catalogue.


The Who - Quadrophenia Live Box Contents

The Who, Quadrophenia: Live in London various formats / Quadrophenia (Original Album) Blu-ray Pure Audio (Universal)

Quadrophenia: The Original Album Blu-ray Pure Audio Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Live in London Deluxe Metal Box Set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Live in London Single-Disc Blu-ray: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Live in London Single Disc DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Live in London 2-CD Soundtrack to the Concert Film: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend bring their epic 2013 concerts celebrating Quadrophenia to Blu-ray, DVD and CD, and also unveil the first-ever complete 5.1 mix of the original 1973 Who album on Blu-ray Pure Audio!  Full details can be found here.

Written by Joe Marchese

June 10, 2014 at 08:32