If you’ve been following these pages for the past few weeks, you’ve likely noticed an awful lot of coverage about Record Store Day! Well, the day is nearly here! Tomorrow, Saturday, April 21, music fans and collectors will flock to their local independent record stores to celebrate both the sounds on those round black platters and the very concept of shopping in a physical retail environment. To many of us, both are a way of life. We’re doubly excited this year because one special title was co-produced by our very own Mike D.: Legacy Recordings’ Ecto-Green glow-in-the-dark vinyl single containing four versions of Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters.”
Each year around this time, we here at Second Disc HQ take a few moments to count down the titles to which we’re most looking forward to picking up! I’ll take my turn first, and then after the jump, you’ll find my colleague’s picks for some of the finest offerings you might find at your local retailer! And after you’ve picked up your share of these special collectibles, don’t hesitate to browse the regular racks, too…there’s likely even more treasure awaiting you.
You’ll find more information and a link to a downloadable PDF of the complete Record Store Day list right here, and please share your RSD 2014 experiences with us below. Don’t forget to click on the Record Store Day tag below, too, to access all of our RSD ’14 coverage. Happy Hunting!
- Henry Mancini and His Orchestra, The Pink Panther LP (RCA/Legacy Recordings)
On April 16, 2014, the great composer/conductor Henry Mancini would have turned 90. To mark the occasion, the all-new HenryMancini.com was launched, and Legacy announced plans for a yearlong celebration of the maestro’s enduring, engaging ouevre. The label has major plans including an 11-CD box set of Mancini’s soundtracks as well as a newly-curated retrospective, but the festivities kick off on Saturday with the release on eye-catching pink vinyl of Mancini’s original album of music from Blake Edwards’ all-time classic comedy caper The Pink Panther.
This soundtrack album (slated for expansion later this year for the movie’s 50th anniversary) was, as per Mancini’s custom, a re-recording of the film’s major themes for the record-buying audience. In addition to the now-famous, sly ‘n’ slinky title theme with saxophone by Plas Johnson (which went Top 40 as a single; the soundtrack itself went Top 10), other highlights of the score include “It Had Better Be Tonight,” an Italian-style love song recently covered by Michael Bublé and performed in the film by Fran Jeffries (and on disc by Mancini’s chorus), and “Something for Sellers,” a great example of Mancini’s feel for what we today think of as lounge music. Mancini’s “The Pink Panther” is currently the single most-streamed song in the entire Sony Music catalogue – a testament to the ongoing power of the gifted composer Henry Mancini.
- Randy Newman, Randy Newman (Mono LP) (Rhino)
Prior to the release of 1968’s self-titled debut, Randy Newman was a staff songwriter for Los Angeles’ Metric Music, a West Coast answer to the Brill Building where he worked alongside the likes of Jackie DeShannon honing his skills. The back of the LP, now being reissued for RSD in its original mono edition, read: “Randy Newman creates something new under the sun!” And while intended ironically (irony being one of Newman’s favorite weapons, always at the ready!), it wasn’t far from the truth. Produced by his childhood friend Lenny Waronker and quirky wunderkind Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman featured some scathing social commentary sheathed in large, gorgeous orchestrations by the composer himself. Even this early on, it was evident that Randy learned something from his uncles, Lionel and Alfred Newman, two of the most illustrious composers in Hollywood history. The young Newman was the rare talent equally gifted in both melody and lyrics. “Davy the Fat Boy” and “So Long, Dad” are uncomfortably hysterical, while “Love Story” plainly tells the story of a couple from marriage to death, playing checkers all day in a Florida nursing home. Newman’s unique humor was already in full bloom, to wit this exchange from “Love Story”: “We’ll have a kid/Or maybe we’ll rent one, He’s got to be straight/We don’t want a bent one.” All of these songs were delivered in his off-hand, growl of a drawl, providing a contrast to the beautiful arrangements. When Randy Newman turned serious, the results were heartbreaking and simple (though far from simplistic): “Living Without You” or the oft-covered “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” which managed to be both cynical and achingly sad. A major new talent had arrived.
- Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Transcriptions (Real Gone Music)
Vintage music from the pre-rock-and-roll era gets an airing on Record Store Day thanks to releases such as this one, along with other key releases from Omnivore Recordings and Blue Note Records. Here, Real Gone Music unearths 10 tracks from the King of Western Swing, four of which will remain exclusive to this vinyl release. These have been drawn from the more than 200 songs recorded by Wills for Tiffany Music, Inc. which remained under lock and key for years. (Wills recorded a total of almost 400 songs for Tiffany in 1946 and 1947.) This remastered release has been painstakingly designed after an original transcription disc. The vinyl is housed inside a replica package in the style of the actual mailers in which Tiffany discs were sent to radio stations in the 1940s – with “pre-distressed” trompe l’oeil wrinkles and wear on the record jacket and a cutaway hole infront showing the vintage Tiffany logo on the vinyl label, whichcontinues the Tiffany numbering system of assigning a recordnumber to each side. Furthering this tremendous attention to detail, the back cover also presents vintagegraphics from the period, and the records are pressed in the style of some of the original discs on 150-gram red vinyl. This release precedes Real Gone’s upcoming 2-CD set drawn from Wills’ Tiffany Transcriptions, and tracks include such songs as Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” and Johnny Mercer’s “I’m an Old Cowhand.” Count me in!
- Various Artists, Live from High Fidelity: The Best of the Podcast Performances (Omnivore)
It wasn’t easy to choose from Omnivore Recordings’ great slate, including rare music from late legends Hank Williams and Jaco Pastorius, but Live from High Fidelity encapsulates the label’s dedication to preserving great music from all eras and genres. This 14-track translucent green vinyl release is drawn a podcast hosted by L.A.’s High Fidelity Records, and features contributions from some TSD favorites like Sam Phillips, Rhett Miller of The Old 97’s, members of Spain, and most especially, appearing for the second time on this small list, Mr. Van Dyke Parks. It’s about time podcast performances went physical, isn’t it?
- Ronnie Spector and the E Street Band, “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” b/w “Baby Please Don’t Go” / Eric Carmen, “Brand New Year (Alternate Mix)” b/w “Starting Over (Live 1976)” singles (Legacy)
Two of Legacy’s 7-inch singles caught our fancy this year. The label has followed up this year’s Playlist: The Very Best of Ronnie Spector with a replica 45 of “Say Goodbye to Hollywood” b/w “Baby Please Don’t Go,” on which the former Ronette is backed by none other than Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Arranged and produced by a certain Mr. Van Zandt – that’s Little Steven now, and Sugar Miami Steve circa this single’s original release – these 1977 sides are blazing rock-and-roll at its finest. Billy Joel’s A-side was a stunning Phil Spector homage in its original recording; with Ronnie on lead and Clarence Clemons honking on the sax, it became transcendent. Eric Carmen’s new “Brand New Day” also arrives on vinyl in a previously unreleased alternate mix supporting The Essential Eric Carmen, on which the song first appeared. Featuring Carmen supported by Jeffrey Foskett, Darian Sahanaja, Nick Walusko and Mike D’Amico of Brian Wilson’s band, this 2013 composition is vintage Carmen – lush, gorgeous and memorably melodic. You won’t want to miss these.
Honorable Mentions go to Rhino’s first-ever U.S. release of Fleetwood Mac’s 1970 single “Dragonfly” b/w “Purple Dancer” and its excavation of the 1968 LP The Birthday Party from Jeff Lynne’s psych-pop pre-ELO band The Idle Race; plus Legacy’s painstakingly-recreated stereo LP of “King of Cool” Dean Martin’s romantic long-player Dream with Dean on which he’s joined by a quartet for his most intimate jazz stylings; and Sundazed’s vinyl debut of two tracks by The Sunrays, the band that Murry Wilson intended to groom in the style of his former charges The Beach Boys. Murry’s own song “Won’t You Tell Me” features the legendary L.A. Wrecking Crew, and the band’s Rick Henn supplies new liner notes for this 45!
After the jump: take it away, Mr. Duquette! Read the rest of this entry »
Since The Second Disc’s founding in 2010, fans of the artist once and currently known as Prince have had to content themselves with catalogue news from various corners of The Purple One’s universe, as reissues of Prince’s own music as a solo artist remained the most distant of possibilities. Over these past four-plus years, we’ve seen the deluxe treatment afforded titles by Andre Cymone, Wendy and Lisa, even The Lewis Connection. And now, at long last, we can confirm that a remastered catalogue campaign isn’t a distant possibility any longer: it’s coming,
This morning, Warner Bros. Records – long embroiled in a contentious relationship with the artist – announced that it had come to terms with Prince and entered into a global licensing partnership. Though complete details have yet to be revealed, the agreement grants the singer ownership of his master recordings, and allows Warner Music Group to digitally remaster and reissue Prince’s albums from 1978 through the 1990s. (Prince’s final album for the label was 1996’s Chaos and Disorder. He then marked his freedom from the Warner empire with his next release that year, Emancipation. That album launched a new label, NPG.) The press release added that “long-awaited, previously unheard music” would be on the way.
This a particularly well-timed announcement, of course, as the recent New Girl guest star will mark the 30th anniversary of his watershed release Purple Rain on June 25. This morning’s press release confirmed that the 13-times platinum Purple Rain would be the first album to get the reissue treatment. Prince also indicated that a new studio album is, indeed, “on the way.” The artist commented in his own unique manner, “Warner Bros. Records and Eye are quite pleased with the results of the negotiations and look forward to a fruitful relationship.”
While there aren’t any further details to share as of this writing, watch this space for more Prince news as it becomes available! The Revolution is coming!
When Phil Everly passed away earlier this year, his legacy was celebrated by both those who knew him and those who were influenced by him. Chanteuse Norah Jones commented, “The high harmonies Phil sang were so fluid and beautiful and always sound effortless in a way that just washes over the listener.” Jones’ partner on the tribute album Foreverly, Billie Joe Armstrong, wrote, “Those harmonies will live on forever.” Iggy Pop observed, “The Everlys were the real deal when it comes to American music.” Brother Don eloquently stated, “I loved my brother very much. The world might be mourning an Everly Brother, but I’m mourning my brother Phil Everly.” Don and Phil’s contribution to American popular song can’t be underestimated. With hits like “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up, Little Susie” and “When Will I Be Loved,” they merged classic country and rock-and-roll into an inspirational whole, while their longing, ethereal vocal blend on “All I Have to Do is Dream” established them as timeless balladeers. At the beating heart of The Everly Brothers’ sound was their deep respect for the music of the land, the rough-and-tumble, hardscrabble, homespun ballads they had learned as children in the Midwest. Their 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught us was a concept album at a time when only Frank Sinatra was turning them out with regularity, and was Americana before the phrase was in vogue. It wasn’t their most popular album, but may well be their most personal and most important. It’s just been reissued by Varese Vintage in an expanded compact disc edition with six previously unheard bonus tracks (Varese 302 067 253-8, 2014), and as a limited-edition vinyl replica sans bonus tracks for Record Store Day.
In August 1958, the goofy novelty “Bird Dog” was ascending the pop charts, but far from repeating the formula, Don and Phil had something completely different and far more somber in mind. They entered RCA’s Nashville studios armed with just two guitars and their own vocal instruments plus producer/Cadence Records owner Archie Bleyer and bassist Floyd T. “Lightnin’” Chance. Rock and roll was not on their minds. Instead, they looked to assemble a collection primarily of traditional, often tragic, folk ballads, all rendered in seamlessly tight harmony. The album, to be titled Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, was rounded out with a few non-traditional cuts. These songs fit right into the low-key, acoustic tone of the album, including one co-written by the Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry (“That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine”), and another by Memphis songwriter Bob Miller (“Rockin’ Alone in My Old Rockin’ Chair”). The duo also revived Tex Ritter’s 1946 hit “Long Time Gone.” Everly patriarch Ike was credited with the arrangements for two of the tracks, “Barbara Allen” and “Put My Little Shoes Away.”
Don and Phil (aged just 21 and 19, respectively) connected with this material on a deep level. No matter that the songs were about gambling, cold-blooded murder, incarceration and mortality. The angelic harmonies of The Everlys were never more chillingly deployed than on the Appalachian murder ballad “Down in the Willow Garden,” which was first written in the nineteenth century, first professionally recorded in 1927, and popularized by Charlie Monroe in 1947. (Monroe gets the writing credit for The Everlys’ version.) In the song, the narrator poisons his lover, stabs her and finally throws her into the river. Reissue co-producer Andrew Sandoval’s fine liner notes reveal a quip from Phil on the session tapes: “Two easy lessons to slay your pregnant girlfriend is what this story is about!” Levity was likely needed behind-the-scenes to create the note-perfect, beautiful yet utterly haunting rendition here. The same goes for “Put My Little Shoes Away” which also confronts the specter of death head-on. Compared to the darkness of “Willow Garden” and even “Shoes,” the traditional country-and-western kiss-off of “Long Time Gone” (“You’re gonna be sad, you’re gonna be weeping/You’re gonna be blue and all alone…”) seems positively benign. Another quintessential C&W song is “I’m Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail” with a light, almost ironic bounce applied to its woeful tale. It even scored the brothers a minor hit single in its edited version.
There’s plenty more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
With Public Enemy’s Chuck D engaged as the Record Store Day Ambassador for 2014, it’s only appropriate that one of his own records is arriving this Saturday as a special limited edition vinyl platter. The new reissue of Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back will be joined on RSD by a host of other vinyl goodies from Universal Music Enterprises (UMe). Previously unreleased music from Frank Zappa (previewing the upcoming 40th anniversary reissue of Apostrophe) and the seventies Motown pair of Rick James and Teena Marie will arrive from Universal, along with replicas of the first two releases ever from the venerable Blue Note Records, currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. New Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Nirvana make their mark on RSD with the first-ever seven-inch release of “Pennyroyal Tea” b/w “I Hate Myself and Want to Die,” originally scheduled for release in 1994 but pulled off the schedule in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Universal also has a special vinyl box, Superunknown: The Singles, commemorating the 20th anniversary of Soundgarden’s Superunknown.
Hit the jump for the full specs on each title courtesy of Universal’s original press release!
The composers represented on Kritzerland’s most recent release might not be the most widely recognized, but the label’s deluxe 2-CD set from Paul Glass and Robert Farnon should surely earn them quite a few more fans. Overlord / Disappearance / Hustle brings together two scores from Glass (b. 1934) and one from Farnon (1917-2005) on two CDs – for the price of one. Glass, also a prolific composer of “serious” music including pieces for orchestras and chamber groups, was versatile enough to tailor his style to the film he was scoring. If it called for an avant-garde approach, he could provide it. If it called for an accessible approach, he could provide that, too. Farnon is perhaps best known as a composer of “light music,” but it’s a measure of the esteem with which he was held that he was selected to arrange and conduct Frank Sinatra’s sole album recorded outside of the United States, 1962’s Sinatra Sings Songs from Great Britain. The Grammy- and Novello Award-winning composer even inspired such eminences as Andre Previn and Quincy Jones.
Overlord / The Disappearance / Hustle is limited to 1,000 units, and is scheduled to ship from Kritzerland by the first week of June. However, pre-orders placed directly with the label usually arrive an average of three to five weeks early. After the jump: Kritzerland’s original press release explains why you need to hear these scores! Plus: the full track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »
It’s 5:15 Again: The Who Revisit “Quadrophenia” In New Live Box, Release 5.1 Surround of Original Album
For fans of The Who, Christmas is coming early this year. The band has taken, in recent years, to marking the holidays with super-sized box sets dedicated to such classic albums as Live at Leeds, Tommy and Quadrophenia. The latter, Pete Townshend’s 1973 mod rock opera, was celebrated in 2011 via a multitude of releases including a 4-CD/1-DVD box set with the original album, two discs of demos, and a DVD of selected songs in surround sound. This June, Townshend and Roger Daltrey will follow up that box with the multi-format (that’s seven different formats, for those keeping count!) release of Quadrophenia: Live in London. And what’s most exciting is that this campaign, centered on The Who’s Quadrophenia 40th Anniversary tour, will premiere the full, original 1973 album in 5.1 on Blu-ray. In the past, only selections from the album have been made available in surround.
After Tommy, there was Jimmy. He’s the protagonist of Quadrophenia, first a 2-LP studio album by The Who, then a 1979 film and most recently a 2009 musical. Never one for small ideas, Townshend intended Quadrophenia as his way to explore the relationship between the band and its fans by telling the story of a prototypical Mod Who fan. The album yielded some of the most beloved songs ever recorded by Townshend, Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon: “The Real Me,” “Love Reign O’er Me,” “5:15.”
In 2012 and 2013, Townshend and Daltrey revisited the material in an acclaimed international series of concerts featuring the original Quadrophenia album sequence and a tight encore set of six Who favorites. That tour wrapped up at London’s Wembley Arena on July 8, 2013, where it was preserved for this audiovisual presentation. Following in the footsteps of other artists including The Beach Boys, The Who used the concerts as an opportunity to reunite with their late bandmates, too. Keith Moon was heard on “Bell Boy” and John Entwistle on “5:15.” Conceived in large part by Daltrey, the concerts (and the film) featured archival footage of The Who as well as images of the historical events that informed the original album and beyond. Appropriately enough for Quadrophenia, the concerts merged rock and theatre into a singular experience.
After the jump, we’ll explore all of the various Live in London releases! Plus: full track listings and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »
“I’m just a little girl, but I feel a woman’s love for you,” Donna Loren sings on the first track of Now Sounds’ delicious new anthology These Are The Good Times: The Complete Capitol Recordings. Those familiar with the teen starlet’s lone Capitol long-player, Beach Blanket Bingo, might be forgiven for thinking this release would be more of the same sand-and-surf fun. But as Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “Just a Little Girl” reveals, there’s much more to the music of Donna Loren. The newly discovered tracks on Good Times lyrically hew, in large part, to the teen-pop territory of melancholy and devotion. But in every respect – not least of all vocally and musically – they’re prime West Coast pop nuggets. Fans of the Los Angeles sound will recognize every name here, all at the top of their game: producers David Axelrod, the outré pop guru, and Steve Douglas, Wrecking Crew saxophonist; arrangers Jack Nitzsche, H.B. Barnum, Gene Page and Billy Strange; musicians Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye, Lyle Ritz, Ray Pohlman, Tommy Tedesco, Larry Knechtel, Don Randi, Plas Johnson, Julius Wechter, and future headliners Glen Campbell and Leon Russell.
Donna Loren turned eighteen in 1965, when two-thirds of this collection’s 29 songs were cut. She first entered Capitol’s Hollywood studios, one year earlier in 1964, as the winsome “Dr. Pepper girl” and a beach party film ingénue. Fresh off a brief stint at Challenge Records, she recorded a handful of singles with David Axelrod and arranger-conductor H.B. Barnum, and all of these 45s are included on the non-chronologically-sequenced Good Times. “Just a Little Girl” was among the first songs Loren recorded at Capitol, yet it stands out as one of the strongest of her tenure with the label. “Ninety Day Guarantee,” another early single, boasts surf guitar and groovy organ. But a handful of songs that were left in the can from 1964 are more exciting than the released tracks from that year. Bob Montgomery’s sassy “Leave Him to Me” shows Donna cutting loose with a convincing growl in her voice. If she’s positively commanding there, the goofy “Drop the Drip” is light, enjoyable teenage fun (“Just because he doesn’t wear tight pants, combs his hair a kooky way/’Cause he doesn’t like the latest dance, they call him Squaresville, USA!”) from one of America’s sweethearts. “Good Things” has a bit more of an R&B feel.
Loren returned to Capitol’s studios in March 1965 to lay down vocals for her Beach Blanket Bingo album on which she sang all of the songs from the American-International picture – including those performed in the film by Annette Funicello, still recording for Disney and unavailable for the soundtrack. The songs by Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner make for a pleasant if lightweight listen. The pair gave Loren one of her performance staples, “It Only Hurts When I Cry” alongside MOR fare like this volume’s title track “These Are the Good Times.” But Beach Blanket isn’t altogether indicative of Loren’s versatility. One non-LP side emerged from the same March 1965 session, a kooky novelty called “So, Do the Zonk.” Alas, the Zonk dance craze never took off!
When she next entered the Tower, Loren was paired with producer Steve Douglas and arranger Jack Nitzsche for the five songs that form the heart of this compilation. Shockingly, only one of these recordings was originally selected for release by Capitol: Tony Hatch’s oft-recorded “Call Me.” Like so many of the songwriter supreme’s other hits, it was written for Petula Clark. But the U.S. hit of the song went to A&M artist Chris Montez in Herb Alpert’s breezy clap-along arrangement. In 1966, Frank Sinatra and his longtime arranger Nelson Riddle transformed it into a slow yet sizzling swing standard for the Chairman’s Strangers in the Night album. Loren’s version predated both of those renditions, and it’s inexplicable that she didn’t chart with it. Nitzsche inventively ladles on the strings, horns and background vocals over Loren’s coquettish lead, which frequently evokes an expressive cross between Jackie DeShannon and Tammy Grimes. “Call Me” was paired on 45 with a boisterous visit to Ashford, Simpson and Armstead’s “Smokey Joe’s,” proving that Loren was as adept with big beat as with big ballads.
Nitzsche scored another Goffin/King tune for Loren, “They’re Jealous of Me,” which was also recorded by Earl-Jean (“I’m Into Something Good”) and Connie Stevens. It makes its debut here. The full Wall of Sound treatment was naturally applied to Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Spector’s “Woman in Love (With You).” The Ronettes’ recording of the song was released in 1975, while The Crystals’ (led by La La Brooks) didn’t receive a commercial release until 2011. This was one unlucky song; Donna’s sublime rendition sat in the vaults until Ace Records unearthed it in 2006 for Hard Workin’ Man, its second Nitzsche compendium. Nitzsche also brought baroque flourishes and Spectorian pomp to Mann and Weil’s sublime “That’s the Boy.” It was first released on Ace’s Glitter and Gold anthology of the duo’s work. The anthemic “Hold Your Head High” from the team of Randy Newman and Jackie DeShannon is another stunningly mature, previously unreleased track from the Loren/Nitzsche/Douglas/Wrecking Crew cadre. Donna’s direct, emotional vocal cuts through the martial beat and big production, and delivers a surprising degree of intimacy.
The rare and never-before-heard music doesn’t stop there. The Beau Brummels backed Donna on the folk-rock of Brummel Ron Elliott’s “It’s Gotta Be,” with Glen Campbell also on guitar, from October ’65. And then there’s “You Can’t Lose Something You Never Had.” This majestically dramatic song from the pre-fame Al Kooper with his then-regular writing partners Bob Brass and Irwin Levine has been described by Kooper as “admittedly Bacharachian” and “still one of my favorites from the old days.” It’s not hard to see why, as his emotional melody soars in unexpected directions. Kooper once stated that he was only aware of the MGM Records original 45 by Bruce Scott and the demo by Jimmy Radcliffe; one hopes he hears Donna’s recording post haste. The production by Douglas and arrangement by Billy Strange is less overtly Bacharach-esque than on the Scott single, with The Wrecking Crew expertly recalling Pet Sounds in its introduction (which it, of course, predated) and Tony Hatch in its brassy elegance. Loren’s vocal is filled with the requisite urgency; these two-and-a-half minutes alone would be reason enough to take a chance on These Are The Good Times. Strange was also the arranger of “My Way,” which isn’t Frank Sinatra’s defiant anthem but rather a pleasant beat tune. Alas, the identity of its writer(s) has been lost to time.
There’s more Loren after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »