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Give ‘Em a Spin: The Second Disc’s Essential Back to Black Friday 2014 Release Guide

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Yes, it’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is here, and with each Thanksgiving comes another Black Friday, the day for consumers to start off the holiday shopping season on a mad, frenetic note. This year is just in the latest one in which numerous retailers in the U.S. have made headlines by blackening Thursday, or Thanksgiving Day itself, with sales starting on the holiday. So many might give thanks that the folks behind Record Store Day are waiting until the traditional Friday for the second of their twice-yearly events.

In keeping with tradition, Mike and I have once again selected our picks for the crème de la crème of titles being released this Friday from many of our favorite labels, including Legacy Recordings, Omnivore Recordings, Rhino Records, Varese Sarabande, Blue Note, Sundazed and more. Don’t hesitate to head over and drop by your local independent record store, and don’t fear the crowds. With everybody at the mall and the big boxes, the Black Friday RSD event is usually a bit more manageable than the April festivities. You can find a full list of RSD Back to Black Friday exclusives (and a list of participating shops) here.

Without further ado, we’ll kick things off with five of Joe’s favorite slabs of vinyl due tomorrow…


American Hustle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Columbia/Legacy)

Writer-director David O. Russell’s 2013 motion picture American Hustle transported viewers to the era of bell bottoms and disco with a cast of oddly irresistible con artists, mobsters and feds. Though the Academy Award-nominated production and costume design were crucial to revisiting the film’s time period of 1978, much of the heavy lifting was accomplished thanks to the movie’s impeccable soundtrack. In fact, the movie was so stuffed with music that a number of the film’s songs weren’t included on the original CD release of the soundtrack. Legacy has rectified that with a new 150-gram double-LP release on red and blue vinyl containing six tracks not on the original soundtrack CD. To the era-defining hits by America (“A Horse with No Name”), the Bee Gees (“How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”), Wings (“Live and Let Die”) and Elton John (“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), the album featured surprising tracks like Duke Ellington’s “Jeep’s Blues,” Mayssa Karaa’s Arabic rendition of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and a new recording by Jack Jones of the Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh standard “Real Live Girl.” It also had three tracks from Jeff Lynne and ELO including the exclusive instrumental “Stream of Stars” and the rare Japan-only Zoom bonus track “Long Black Road.” This deluxe vinyl presentation – with red Columbia 360 Sound labels – adds key recordings by Todd Rundgren (“I Saw the Light”), Steely Dan (“Dirty Work”), The Temptations (“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”), David Bowie (“The Jean Genie”), Ella Fitzgerald (her 1956 treatment of Cole Porter’s “It’s De-Lovely”) and Frank Sinatra (his 1946 Columbia version of “The Coffee Song”). The end result is a perfect accompaniment to the film and an incredibly entertaining listen in its own right which both avoids kitsch and celebrates a memorable musical era.

Guardians Awesome Mix Tape

Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (Marvel Music/Walt Disney Records)

American Hustle has an unlikely companion on this list. The music of the seventies played a far more surprising part in Marvel Studios’ 2014 blockbuster superhero space epic Guardians of the Galaxy. With a mix tape playing a prominent role in the film – and providing a source of both great emotion and humor – it’s only appropriate that Disney/Marvel is actually releasing the Star Lord’s favorite tunes on cassette as depicted in the film! Rupert Holmes’ “The Pina Colada Song,” The Raspberries’ “Go All the Way,” Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” and Blue Swede’s version of B.J. Thomas’ “Hooked on a Feeling” are just four of the, well, awesome hits you’ll hear on this must-have tape (which doubles as a cool collectible for fans of the smash hit movie).

Wham - Last Christmas

Wham!, Last Christmas (Legacy)

Can it be that “Last Christmas” is really 30 years old? Since its original release in 1984, the song by writer-producer George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley’s Wham! has become a staple of every holiday season, spawning covers by such latter-day pop stars as Hilary Duff, Ashley Tisdale, Ariana Grande and even the legendary Carole King. For Black Friday, however, the original recording is back on a special 12-inch vinyl release co-produced by our very own Mike Duquette! And that’s not all. “Last Christmas” will be backed with a special, previously unreleased instrumental mix of the song – and it’s all on red and green vinyl! Hands down, this is the most festive item of the Black Friday RSD line-up – you know you want to give it your heart!

Game Theory EP

Game Theory, Pointed Accounts of People You Know / Distortion (Omnivore Recordings)

Earlier this week, Omnivore unveiled the first U.S. release of the alternative pop band’s compilation Dead Center. That original French release gained 11 bonus tracks in Omnivore’s U.S. edition and featured new music along with selected tracks from the EPs Pointed Accounts of People You Know and Distortion (produced by Michael Quercio of Paisley Underground greats The Three O’Clock and featuring Earl Slick on guitar!). On Black Friday, listeners will have the chance to experience those two EPs in complete form, as originally heard. Both will be reissued on 10-inch vinyl, with a customary Omnivore twist: the latter will be on green vinyl, and the former on clear vinyl! These EPs provide a fine introduction to the beguiling music of the late Scott Miller’s California band.

Miles - Blue Xmas

Miles Davis, Blue Xmas (Legacy) and Enigma (Blue Note)

The late Miles Davis is being recognized by both Legacy and Blue Note, two of the keepers of the trumpeter’s immense musical flame, on this Black Friday. In 1962, Davis, Gil Evans and bebop singer Bob Dorough turned the holiday season on its ear with “Blue Xmas,” an original tune mocking the crass commercialism of the Christmas season. This recording, along with “Devil May Care,” another Dorough tune recorded by Davis and Evans, is being released by Legacy on a 7-inch 45 RPM blue vinyl single. Blue Note turns the clock back even further – to 1952-1953. Four previously unreleased Davis performances have been unearthed from the Blue Note vault for a black 10-inch single designed in the same style as Miles’ original Blue Note 10-inch discs; Enigma features Take 2 of the title track plus “Kelo (Take 1)”, “Chance It (Take 3), and “Chance It (Second Alternate) (Take 4).”

After the jump: Mike has his five picks for RSD Must-Haves! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 27, 2014 at 11:19

From “Last Christmas” To “Blue Xmas”: Legacy’s Black Friday Slate Features Wham!, Miles Davis, Hendrix, Kinks, Elvis, More

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It’s that time of year again!

Announcements are finally coming in for Record Store Day’s annual Black Friday event happening on Friday, November 28. Rather than storming malls and big box stores, maybe you’ll want to pay a visit to your favorite local independent record store for an assortment of exclusive vinyl goodies.  Legacy Recordings certainly hopes you will; the label’s roster for Black Friday’s RSD event includes titles from heavy-hitters including David Bowie, Joe Satriani, Miles Davis, Dave Matthews Band, Elvis Presley, The Kinks and Jimi Hendrix!

And that’s not all! Longtime readers know that Christmas is our favorite time of the year at Second Disc HQ!  We’ve already filled you in on Joe’s two holiday-themed projects due on November 4 from Real Gone Music – Robert Goulet’s Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings and the long-awaited reissue of The Williams Brothers Christmas Album featuring Andy and his brothers – and today, it’s Mike’s turn!  Fresh from his work on a pair of exciting Ghostbusters-related projects – the sold-out glow-in-the-dark EP of Ray Parker Jr.’s immortal title song and a brand-new, Stay Puft super deluxe marshmallow-scented (yes, you read that right!) vinyl release from Ray Parker, Jr. and Run-DMC – Mike is delivering a little Wham! for the holidays as co-producer of a 12-inch red and green vinyl single featuring both the classic “Last Christmas” and a previously unreleased instrumental mix!  Trust me – no Christmas party will want to be without this one!

Hit the jump to explore Legacy’s full slate of Black Friday Record Store Day titles, all of which will be available at a participating RSD retailer on Friday, November 28! And watch this space for more announcements coming soon! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 16, 2014 at 13:38

“NOW” and Then: U.K. Compilation Series Celebrates Three Decades in Three Discs

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Now 30 YearsWhen I was heavily ensconced in a retail job, I had the task of stocking new music and movie releases and sharing the new releases with the rest of the store on Tuesday morning. Without fail, every time a NOW That’s What I Call Music! compilation came out, someone would marvel how many such compilations existed, prompting me to tell my co-workers that they should check out the NOW series as it originated in the U.K., back in 1983, where they were double albums and released with slightly more frequency to the point where the 84th volume hit stores in March (as opposed to the single-disc 47th volume that streeted in the U.S. last Tuesday).

Of course, here at The Second Disc, I’m surrounded by record collectors and pop enthusiasts, so this illumination is nothing new. (That’s one of many reasons why I’m a lot happier editing these pages, I’ll tell you that!) But anyway, the point is that NOW That’s What I Call Music is indeed celebrating 30 years – and its doing so with a new, triple-disc compilation of highlights from its lengthy run.

NOW That’s What I Call 30 Years features an interesting, semi-chronological hodgepodge of pop cuts from the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and today, from Michael Jackson to Madonna, Take That to the Spice Girls, Adele to PSY. It’s disappointingly centered on the traditional pop scene on both sides of the Atlantic, thereby ignoring some of the R&B and rock-infused diversity that the NOW series was often known for (Radiohead appeared on at least one volume, for cryin’ out loud). As such, it’s a very, very patchy portrait of pop, passing a good chunk of the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. (Also, a considerably more minor quibble, but what’s up with the 20th Century-Fox meets Pink Floyd cover art?)

But NOW are one of the best – and one of the only – games in town as far as anthologizing pop music for the masses, so NOW That’s What I Call 30 Years might be a set for your collection when it’s released May 27 in England. Hit the jump to check out the full track list and order your copy off Amazon.

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WHAM!’s “The Final” to Be Reissued as CD/DVD Set

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In five years, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, as the U.K. pop duo WHAM!, released two albums, one compilation and a dozen singles. Only one of those releases placed anywhere beneath their native Top 10. No matter what you think of the group’s candy-coated pop stylings, those are incredible numbers in such a short period of time.

We could debate the impact of WHAM! all day – and this author would certainly side with them. (Their debut album Fantastic is, at worst, throwaway pop, and follow-up Make It Big is laden with pop hooks, all penned by Michael and Ridgeley themselves. As recent reissues have proven, Michael was a pop genius in his own right.) But those numbers can’t lie – WHAM! remain a popular relic of the 1980s, as sales of even 1998’s The Best of WHAM! If You Were There… (a U.K. Top 5 album) can attest to.

Now, in celebration of the compilation that took their career out on a high note, 1986’s The Final, a 25th anniversary edition is being planned for the U.K., featuring a bonus DVD of the group’s many hit music videos.

The year 1986 saw WHAM! do something nobody expected: they went out on top. Michael and Ridgeley amicably separated that summer, in order for Michael to attempt to woo a more mature audience with his advanced brand of pop songcraft. But they went out with a bang, issuing the chart-topping farewell single “The Edge of Heaven” and a neat compilation, The Final, to summarize the group. Featuring a killer cadre of hit singles (some of which appeared in their 12″ mixes. depending on which configuration of the album you bought) and a few new tracks (including the underrated “Where Did Your Heart Go?,” originally performed by Was (Not Was) and Michael’s first solo single, “A Different Corner”), it’s not hard to see why The Final was such a hit. (Harder to explain is the album’s absence from the U.S. market. Instead, the new tracks, along with some B-sides, were packaged as a new album, Music from the Edge of Heaven.)

This new reissue, to be released in the U.K. on November 28, features a newly-designed package, featuring a mirrorboard slipcase version of the iconic album sleeve, and comes packed with a DVD featuring all of WHAM!’s original music videos – in total, 13 of the 14 tracks on the compilation. Hit the jump for full discographical details and an order link!

WHAM! The Final: 25th Anniversary Edition (Sony Music U.K., 2011)

Disc 1: Original compilation (released as Epic 86681 (U.K.), 1986 – this track listing is identical to original CD)

  1. WHAM! Rap (Enjoy What You Do)
  2. Young Guns (Go for It!) (12″ Version)
  3. Bad Boys
  4. Club Tropicana
  5. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
  6. Careless Whisper (Single Version)
  7. Freedom
  8. Last Christmas (Pudding Mix)
  9. Everything She Wants (Remix)
  10. I’m Your Man
  11. A Different Corner
  12. Battlestations
  13. Where Did Your Heart Go?
  14. The Edge of Heaven

Original versions of Tracks 1-4 from Fantastic (Inner Vision IVL 25328 (U.K.)/Epic FC 38911 (U.S.), 1983)

  • Track 2 released as Inner Vision 12″ single IVL A13 2766 (U.K.), 1982

Original versions of Tracks 5-7 and 9 from Make It Big (Epic 86311 (U.K.)/Columbia FC 39595 (U.S.), 1984)

  • Track 6 released on Epic single A 4603 (U.K.)/Columbia single 38-04691 (U.S.), 1984
  • Track 7 is an alternate mix exclusive to this compilation
  • Track 9 released on Epic 12″ single QTA 4949 (U.K.)/Columbia 12″ single 44-05810 (U.S.), 1984

Track 8 was the 12″ B-side to “Everything She Wants” (Epic QTA 4949 (U.K.)/Columbia 44-05810 (U.S.), 1984). Later released as U.K. 12″ A-side (Epic WHAM T1, 1985).
Track 10 was a non-LP single (Epic A 6716 (U.K.)/Columbia 38-05721 (U.S.), 1985)
Tracks 11-14 are new tracks.

  • Track 11 released as Epic single A 7033 (U.K.)/Columbia single 39-0588 (U.S.), 1986.
  • Tracks 12-14 originally released as a 12″ single (Epic FIN T1 (U.K.), 1986).

Disc 2: DVD – promo videos

  1. WHAM! Rap (Enjoy What You Do)
  2. Young Guns (Go for It!)
  3. Bad Boys
  4. Club Tropicana
  5. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
  6. Careless Whisper
  7. Freedom
  8. Last Christmas
  9. Everything She Wants
  10. I’m Your Man
  11. A Different Corner
  12. Where Did Your Heart Go?
  13. The Edge of Heaven

Written by Mike Duquette

October 31, 2011 at 10:25

Reissue Theory: WHAM! “The Final: Live at Wembley”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we take a look back at notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Twenty-five years after one of pop’s guiltiest pleasures said goodbye to a packed live audience, we wonder what a release of that show would look like.

On June 28, 1986, twenty-five years ago today, WHAM! became a past-tense pop act. It wasn’t your typical pop meltdown, however; it was a breakup for the ages. What other group bids their fan base (80,000 attendees worth) farewell with a handful of guest megastars and a lengthy, sugar-sweet set list?

Of course, that was par for the course for WHAM!, who had entered 11 of their 12 singles into the U.K. Top 10 (six of which were chart-toppers) and would sell about 20 million albums worldwide when all was said and done. From the beginning, when a lucky scheduling conflict got them a spot on Top of the Pops in 1982, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley were two of the flashiest stars on the pop scene.

As an unironic fan of WHAM!’s effortless bubblegum pop, it would give this writer great pleasure to see some sort of catalogue activity occur for the boys. And this final show at Wembley Arena might be the flashpoint for any such product. Hit the jump to read up on how everything in the band’s career culminated in that show – and how we’d present the concert for fans, Reissue Theory-style! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 28, 2011 at 17:32

Cherry Red Fills in Gaps for April

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The Cherry Red label group has been insanely busy in recent weeks prepping expanded and remastered albums for consumption in England. We’ve already seen new releases from their Now Sounds, Big Break and Soul Music labels, but April will see a few other worthy titles for your consideration on the Cherry Red, Cherry Pop, El and Iron Bird labels.

First up is a reissue of How Long: The Very Best of Ace, one of the surprisingly few career-spanning sets by pub-rockers Ace. The band’s brief brush with success manifested through the excellent single “How Long,” a No. 3 hit in America. Ace, of course, was the first of many bands to feature vocalist/keyboardist Paul Carrack, who would later lend his talents to Squeeze’s East Side Story (1981) and Mike + The Mechanics in the mid-’80s and ’90s. This compilation, featuring a newly expanded and updated booklet, looks to be the start of a reissue campaign by the label. This one’s due out April 11 in the U.K. and a week later in America.

Coming from the same label on April 25 (again, a U.K. date) is an expansion of The Fall’s The Marshall Suite (1999). Not too dissimilar to the band’s early albums put out as “Omnibus Editions” by Beggars’ Archive, the chaotic post-punk band’s long-out-of-print techno-influenced semi-concept album will be augmented by a disc of B-sides, remixes and BBC sessions and another disc of a live concert for XFM Radio in 1999. This set will feature new liner notes by Daryl Easlea of MOJO.

Cherry Pop has a delightful oddity in a reissue of the debut album by Pepsi & Shirlie. The singing and dancing duo were best known as part of the back-up band for WHAM! in the mid-’80s, but All Right Now (1987) saw the girls collaborating with pop producers Stock Aitken Waterman on a mostly original set featuring U.K. Top 10 hits “Heartache” and “Goodbye Stranger.” In traditional Cherry Pop fashion, B-sides and remixes are the order of the day as expanded material goes, along with two mixes of a previously-unreleased tune from the era, “Who’s Gonna Catch You?” The expansion of All Right Now is also due April 25 in England.

The Iron Bird label, which specials in hard rock and metal reissues, has a “three-fer” collecting the first three albums by Warrant. The Hollywood-based hair-metal rockers rose to fame in 1989 with the No. 2 power ballad “Heaven,” but most fans know them for the poppy, eyebrow-raising “Cherry Pie,” a Top 10 hit from a year later. This two-disc set includes straight reissues of the band’s first three LPs for Columbia – Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (1988), Cherry Pie (1990) and Dog Eat Dog (1992) – but omits the bonus demos included on previous remasters by Legacy Recordings in the States. Still, for those looking for a bargain way to acquire all of these albums, this is your opportunity when it arrives in the U.K. on April 18.

Finally, an interesting early rock classic comes to El Records with some interesting (if not exactly relevant) bonus material. The Ventures might not be a household name to casual rock fans, but their influence is massive. The Tacoma, Washington duo were instrumental (no pun intended) in the development of guitar-based rock, experimenting with various effects and textures that would become staples of various rock genres. Their hit “Walk, Don’t Run” – easily one of the best surf-rock songs of all time, and an overall favorite of this author – was a deserved success, and set the band on a path of continued popularity and legacy, culminating with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. El reissues the Walk, Don’t Run album in both the original stereo and mono mixes, but also adds eight selected sides by Bert Weedon, an influential English jazz-rock guitarist who was one of the first to take a rock instrumental, “Guitar Boogie Shuffle,” toward the top of the U.K. charts. It’s a pretty neat history lesson, and it’s out April 18 in the United Kingdom.

Track lists and pre-order links are all available after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 30, 2011 at 11:36

Reissue Theory: George Michael’s Different Corners

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on well-known albums of the past and the reissues they could someday see. With the reissue of George Michael’s most flawless pop album, today’s installment takes you into the corners of the world pop music scene to prove how part of the musical culture he really was.

The reissue of George Michael’s iconic Faith album has your humble catalogue correspondent excited. Really excited. So excited that today’s Reissue Theory talks about two albums from the same time period he managed to contribute to despite being inescapable with the singles off of his own album. They involve one of Michael’s best side musicians and a strangely satisfying (and successful) family connection. And they’re yours to read about after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 1, 2011 at 16:19

Open Forum: A Holiday Head-Scratcher from WHAM! (UPDATED 12/7)

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Here’s a Christmas conundrum that’s stumping this catalogue correspondent: are there more than two versions of WHAM!’s “Last Christmas”?

A year ago this author bought a copy of The Essential NOW That’s What I Call Christmas (UMG Recordings B0011941-02, 2008). Only this year did I open the disc and discover a mix of “Last Christmas,” WHAM!’s perennial holiday chestnut, that I don’t believe I’ve ever heard before.

Most WHAM! fans can tell you that “Last Christmas” was on the opposite side of the “Everything She Wants” single during the holiday season of 1984. A version of roughly 4:27 was on the 7″ single (Epic QA-4949 (U.K.)) while the 12″ version was the “Pudding Mix” which clocked in at 6:45, with a lengthier intro and outro (Epic TA-4949 (U.K.) and later released on the U.S. LP Music from the Edge of Heaven in 1986). The version on this NOW disc, however, is 4:46 – but the differences don’t stop there. A different drum machine pattern sits in the center of the mix, and some different ad-lib vocals in the second chorus replace the second verse entirely (at which point the song jumps to the last bits of the song as heard in the Pudding Mix).

My question to you, dear reader: where does this come from? Radio stations in my area play what I’m positive is the single version; what does that make this? In an effort to further clear the air, I provide a one-minute sample of the song as heard on this CD for your listening pleasure.

Any illumination, as always, would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE (12/7): Thanks to all the commenters who contributed to solving the “Last Christmas” conundrum. Commenter AudioDile was the first of a few to note that this mix turned up on a Japanese 12″ single (Epic/Sony 123P-575, 1984). It’s listed as the “Pudding Mix,” but is obviously not. One more Christmas mystery solved, thanks to our awesome readers!

Written by Mike Duquette

December 7, 2010 at 19:54

Back Tracks: WHAM!

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The great thing about most reissues over the past few years is that labels seem to want to follow one rule: if they can reissue it, they will do their best. Of course there are people out there who like, say, Cutting Crew or a-ha – but who could have seriously predicted that labels would be open to the idea of reissuing those records with bonus cuts and all that?

Of course, this rule makes some of the great bands without reissues – Prince, The Go-Gos, that one Buckingham Nicks album – look like crazy oversights. That goes for any successful band, regardless of how much people openly like them. One prime example: WHAM!, the U.K. pop duo that today comes off as a novelty act but had a rather solid if short stint in the pop music world – one that would benefit from a more thorough review on CD.

WHAM!, comprised of George Michael and perennial “other guy” Andrew Ridgeley, were eager to make music by and for young people, with lyrics of fun, carefree nights out and having fun with fine ladies. (Stop laughing!) Thanks to a lucky break on U.K. music program Top of the Pops (they filled in for a last-minute cancellation), the pair became superstars in their native land. Success in other parts of the world wasn’t far off, thanks to their good looks, pop-soul sound and flashy MTV clips. Matter of fact, it was this month in 1984 that one of their most popular hits, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” hit No. 1 around the world.

In honor of that landmark, you can get the rest of the WHAM! story, and how rights holders Legacy have and could treat the WHAM! discography, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 2, 2010 at 16:05

Posted in Compilations, Features, Reissues, WHAM!

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