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The Year in Reissues: The 2013 Gold Bonus Disc Awards

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

Though this is a slow time of year for news, it’s the perfect time to look at the year in review.  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 those labels, producers and artists who make these releases possible in what many might deem an increasingly-challenging retail landscape.  These labels have bucked the trends to prove that there’s still a demand for physical catalogue music.  And from our vantage point, there’s still great strength and health in this corner of the music industry.  By my very rough estimate, The Second Disc covered around 500 releases in 2013 – and we firmly believe that the best is still yet to come.  We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to the creators of the music and releases we cover, and to you, the readers.  After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past – this site’s raison d’etre – alive and well.

With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2013?  Please join us in recognizing 2013′s best of the best.

Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out!

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Review: Van Morrison, “Moondance: Deluxe Edition”

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Van Morrison - Moondance BoxOver forty years after Van Morrison first declared it a “marvelous night for a moondance,” the Irish troubadour’s seminal 1970 album has become even more marvelous, ‘neath the cover of October skies.  Warner Bros. Records has afforded Moondance the deluxe treatment, adding three CDs of session material and one Blu-ray with high-resolution stereo and surround mixes to the original 10-song album.  With this truly immersive listening experience, Morrison’s third proper solo album takes its place alongside the likes of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and SMiLE and the canons of Elvis Presley, Miles Davis and even The Monkees, offering up warts-and-all sessions for enjoyment, dissection and exploration.  Of course, this compact yet lavish box set (more accurately, a linen-bound book set) wouldn’t hold up if Moondance itself wasn’t such a stone-cold classic.  Luckily, it’s an album of such depth that the 4-CD/1-BD package is more than warranted.  And for those who want just the highlights, Warner has also issued a pared-down 2-CD version as well as a single-disc remastered edition with just the original album.

Though its warmly melodic songs – equal parts jazz, folk, soul, blues, pop and rock – are certainly accessible enough to stand on their own, Moondance is an argument for the art of the album.  The artist’s Warner Bros. debut Astral Weeks was the darkness before the dawn, and its follow-up Moondance continued its juxtaposition of the spiritual and the earthbound.  But Moondance rendered those themes with light replacing dark, and an altogether different intensity.  Morrison’s crack band of Jack Schroer (alto and soprano sax), Collin Tilton (tenor sax/flute), Jeff Labes (piano/organ/clavinet), John Platania (lead and rhythm guitar), John Klingberg (bass), Gary Mallaber (drums/vibes), and Guy Masson (congas, credited as “congo drum”) brought his finely-honed compositions to life in arrangements that veered from rollicking to rootsy.  In addition to lead vocals, Morrison also played rhythm guitar and tambourine.

After the jump, we’ll delve further into Moondance! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 28, 2013 at 12:57

Posted in Box Sets, News, Reissues, Reviews, Van Morrison

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Release Round-Up: Week of October 22

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TFF The Hurting boxTears for Fears, The Hurting: Deluxe Edition (Mercury/UMe)

The landmark debut album from the U.K. hitmakers celebrates its 30th anniversary with a new double-disc deluxe edition stocked with rare single-only material and a deluxe box set version with a bonus disc of John Peel sessions and the In My Mind’s Eye live concert film on DVD.

2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3CD/1DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Van Morrison - Moondance BoxVan Morrison, Moondance: Expanded Edition (Warner Bros./Rhino)

Though Van would rather you not buy this box, it features his classic 1970 album (newly remastered and in a new 5.1 surround sound mix on the Blu-Ray) plus three discs of session outtakes.

1CD remaster: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
4CD/1BD:  Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Fisherman's BoxThe Waterboys, Fisherman’s Box: The Complete Fisherman’s Blues Sessions 1986-1988 (Parlophone)

This six-disc set features every take from the making of this celebrated album from Mike Scott’s band. A deluxe version features the original album on vinyl and a further bonus disc of songs that influenced the album – all of which will be broken down in full in a post later today!

6CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
7CD/1LP: Amazon U.K.

Chrysalis FB bannerTen Years After, Recorded Live: Expanded Edition / Robin Trower, State to State: Live Across America 1974-1980 / UFO, “Hot ‘N’ Live”: The Chrysalis Live Anthology 1974-1983 (Chrysalis/Rhino)

These three hard-rockin’ releases from the Chrysalis vaults are ready to purchase this week – or you can win them from us!

Ten Years After: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Robin Trower: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
UFO: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

XTC - NonsuchXTC, Nonsuch: Expanded Edition (Panegyric)

The band’s 1992 album, featuring modern rock hit “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead,” features a new stereo and surround mix by Steven Wilson, plus a host of audiovisual extras.

CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
CD/BD: Amazon U.K.

Sparks BoxSparks, New Music for Amnesiacs: The Ultimate Collection (Universal U.K.)

One of the pioneering acts in quirk rock have a swag-filled five-disc career-spanning box set tangible object in the market. (Amazon U.K.)

Woody Guthrie American Radical PatriotWoody Guthrie, American Radical Patriot (Rounder)

A stunning 6CD/1DVD/1LP box set includes, for the first time, all of Guthrie’s historic recordings for Alan Lomax, plus scores of rarities – including a rare early Bob Dylan recording, too. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Freddie Tribute BDQueen, The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert: Deluxe Edition (Eagle Rock)

The life of the late Queen frontman was celebrated in one of the greatest benefit concerts of all time – and this expanded version features, for the first time on DVD or Blu-Ray, tribute performances from the first half of the concert.

3DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Monro RaritiesMatt Monro, The Rarities Collection (Parlophone)

Three discs of rarities from the legendary crooner; most were originally released on The Rare Monro and/or Matt Uncovered: The Rarer Monro, but many have been sonically upgraded, with more rarities included herein! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Laura Nyro - SmileLaura Nyro, Smile: Expanded Edition (Iconoclassic)

Nyro’s 1976 release, issued after a four-year absence, is expanded with three rare demos. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Love to Love You DonnaDonna Summer, Love to Love You Donna (Verve)

Classic Donna Summer tracks, newly remixed by modern dance acts and producers, plus an unreleased collaboration between Summer and longtime producer Giorgio Moroder.

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

TLC 20TLC, 20 (Epic)

A new compilation from the acclaimed ’90s R&B girl group features a new track, “Meant to Be,” penned by R&B singer Ne-Yo. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Best Laid “Van”s: Do Artists’ Opinions on Their Catalogue Titles Influence Your Purchases?

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Van Morrison - Moondance BoxNot long after Joe had posted about Rhino’s upcoming expansion of Van Morrison’s Moondance, I vocalized my pleasant surprise at the news. Morrison’s history with reissues has been spotty at best; a late-2000s reissue campaign was quickly halted and almost instantly commanded top dollar on the secondary market.

The next day, however, Morrison issued a statement denouncing the project, taking particular issue with the wording of the press release suggesting he was involved. “It is important that people realise that this is factually incorrect,” the statement read in part. “I did not endorse this, it is unauthorised and it has happened behind my back.”

This is hardly the first time an artist has openly criticized their own catalogue works. Prince, who was allegedly paid to stay out of the compilation and release of The Hits/The B-Sides in 1993, insisted on a bevy of changes to 2006’s Ultimate Prince and then planned a new album to curtail its release. Elvis Costello, whose catalogue has been released three times as expanded CDs on three different labels, suggested that current rights owners Hip-O/UMe had “gotten off on the wrong foot” with a series of live reissues, “doing too many records from the same time period and the same repertoire.” And Morrissey, even as he has gotten involved in radically revisiting his own catalogue, has had choice words for previous box set efforts.

Generally, though, such instances are rare. When it comes to the major labels, most will not (and in some cases cannot) embark on a vault project for a beloved artist without the consent (if not participation) of the artist in question. This isn’t for fear of bad publicity, but the more obvious legal entanglements.

The question we pose for you today, in light of Van Morrison’s opinions, is this: will his – or anyone’s – opinion of this apparently “unauthorised” catalogue activity stop you from opening your wallets? Have a vote in our poll and let us know what you think!

Written by Mike Duquette

July 23, 2013 at 13:13

All The Night’s Magic: Van Morrison’s “Moondance” Is Expanded and Remastered This Fall

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Van Morrison - Moondance BoxOn September 30, it’s going to be a marvelous night – and day – for a Moondance.  For that’s when Warner Bros. Records will celebrate Van Morrison’s classic 1970 album in 1-CD, 2-CD and 4-CD/1-BD configurations.  The latter expanded versions comprehensively explore the album’s sessions via outtakes, alternate takes and previously unheard mixes.

Following one 1967 album for Bert Berns’ Bang Records, Van Morrison made his debut at the famous Burbank label in 1968 with Astral Weeks.  It was a creation like no other, and not even Morrison’s most ardent fan at the time could have predicted its heady blend of rock, jazz, folk and classical styles into one opus juxtaposing the spiritual and the earthbound.  But the Irish troubadour couldn’t stay in one musical bag for too long a period of time.  1970’s Moondance was every bit as light as Astral Weeks was dark, and every bit as accessible as Astral Weeks was esoteric.

In the years since its release, the soulful, jazzy title track of Moondance has become a modern standard, recorded by artists including Michael Bublé and Nancy Wilson and even featuring as the curtain call to Susan Stroman’s Tony Award-winning dance musical Contact.  Strangely, “Moondance” wasn’t released as a single until 1977 (!) when it barely eked into the Hot 100, but that’s hardly deterred its consistent radio airplay and frequent use in films and television.  “Come Running,” the original selection for a single, did manage to crack the Top 40 while the album itself notched a respectable No. 39 chart placement.  “Crazy Love” has also received its share of cover versions over the years while “Into the Mystic” could be Morrison’s ultimate statement.  His 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.

What will you find on the upcoming editions?  Hit the jump for all details, track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 17, 2013 at 13:46

The Second Disc Buyers Guide: The 100 Greatest Reissues of All Time, Part 17 (#20-16)

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We’re in the Top 20 of Rolling Stone‘s Greatest Albums of All Time list, going through the various reissues and expansions of each one! This time, we have a Boss, a champion of a ’90s rock revolution, a poet of the ’60s – and starting right now, the King of Pop himself. Read on!

20. Michael Jackson, Thriller (Epic, 1982)

Nine disparate songs, helmed by a producer of straightforward jazz and R&B, and performed by a 24-year-old former child star-turned-gawky but dedicated perfectionist. It sounds like it has the makings of a great album, but the best-selling album in history? It seems unconventional – but that’s what makes Thriller so good. There’s something for everyone, from the seven charting singles to the smorgasbord/soundtrack vibe of the whole proceedings, with or without the unforgettable videos on MTV. Michael would strive harder for greatness, for sure, but he’d never achieve it as effortlessly as he did with this one.

First released on CD not too long after the album’s release (Epic EK 38112), that pressing stayed in print for years. (There was a special repackage in Europe in 1999, packaged in a cardboard sleeve and with a Japanese-style OBI indicating Epic’s U.K. “Millennium Edition” series – Epic MILLEN4). A SACD edition was first released in Japan the next year (Epic ESGA 503) and ultimately released in the U.S. six years after that (Epic ES 38112).

The first of two expanded editions (Epic EK 66073) appeared in 2001, preceding the release of Jackson’s then-new album Invincible and arriving alongside reissues of Michael’s other Epic albums through 1991. Like the reissue of Off the Wall, this disc gives far too much space to audio interviews with producer Jones and songwriter Rod Temperton where written recollections would have done better. Still, this has the most bonus tracks out of this reissue program, featuring two demos (“Billie Jean,” the unreleased “Carousel”), the full version of Vincent Price’s delightful “Thriller” outro and “Someone in the Dark,” from the Grammy-winning E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial storybook record Jackson narrated. (Nitpickers have valid complaints with some of the bonus material, though; “Someone in the Dark” is crossfaded with part of an interview with Jones – it would not be released properly until The Ultimate Collection box set in 2004 – and “Carousel” is edited down as well. That full version can be found on Italian pressings of the import compilation King of Pop (Epic 88697 35638-2, 2008).)

The other deluxe reissue, 2008’s Thriller 25 (Epic/Legacy 88697 22096-2), eschewed much of the bonus material from the last reissue (save the “Thriller” rap) in favor of mostly atrocious remixes of Thriller singles by of The Black Eyed Peas, Akon and Kanye West and a DVD of previously-released music videos (as well as Jackson’s iconic performance of “Billie Jean” on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever in 1983). The sole “unreleased track from the Thriller sessions,” a nice if slight ballad called “For All Time,” is almost certainly not from those sessions; co-writers Mike Sherwood and Jeff Porcaro had not collaborated before Toto’s Fahrenheit album in 1986. The Japanese import bonus track, “Got the Hots,” does indeed date back that far.

19. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks (Warner Bros., 1968)

It’s easy to laud these albums as ones that don’t sound like anything else at the time, but Astral Weeks didn’t, and doesn’t. Inspired by traditional Irish folk, blues, jazz and classical artists, it’s a dreamy song cycle that is the night to the bright daytime of “Brown Eyed Girl.” For all its popularity, though, it’s never been reissued on CD anytime past its initial release (Warner Bros. 1768-2); it was reportedly planned for expansion in the late 2000s, but cancelled by the artist himself in a fit of pique with the music industry.

After the jump, the Boss, the bard and the grunge explosion! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

December 21, 2011 at 12:18

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

Friday Feature: “An American Werewolf in London”

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In 1941, the werewolf mythology gained an iconic set of lines in the Universal horror classic The Wolf Man: “Even a man who is pure at heart/and says his prayers by night/May become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms/and the autumn moon is bright.” Forty years later, from the same studio, a less delicate line was added to the lycanthrope canon: “I will not be threatened by a walking meat loaf!”

Such is the tone of An American Werewolf in London, one of the best horror-comedies of the past few decades. It’s rare that a movie can strike such a perfect balance of laughs and screams, but AWiL has them in spades. With Halloween coming up – and the film’s 30th anniversary having occurred this past August – The Second Disc triumphantly brings back the Friday Feature for a look back at this classic film, and the interesting musical history that surrounds the film, as well.

Beware the moon after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

October 7, 2011 at 14:05