The Second Disc

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Wilco Celebrate 20 Years with Compilation, Rarities Box Set

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Wilco - What's Your 20Roger Wilco! We’ve received the transmission that, on November 17, two new collections will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chicago alt-rock band Wilco in high style!  Nonesuch Records will issue Alpha Mike Foxtrot, a new box set (4 CDs, 4 LPs or digital) of rare studio and live recordings culled from the band’s archives.  And on that same date, the label will offer What’s Your 20, the first-ever compendium of Wilco’s previously released studio recordings, on 2 CDs or digital.

Formed from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo, Wilco began in a similar alt-country vein before expanding its sonic palette to touch upon folk, rock, punk, avant-garde experimentalism and vintage pop textures.   Though the alt-rockers’ lineup shifted frequently during its first decade, the band has been stable since 2004 with a line-up consisting of vocalist/guitarist Jeff Tweedy, bassist John Stirratt, guitarist Nels Cline, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen and drummer Glenn Kotche. Since its inception, Wilco has released eight studio albums, a live double album, and collaborative albums with both Billy Bragg and The Minus 5 (the “floating line-up” supergroup which featured Scott McCaughey, The Posies’ Ken Stringfellow and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on the Wilco project).  Wilco picked up two Grammy Awards in 2005 for A Ghost is Born, and has received four further nominations over the years, most recently for 2012’s The Whole Love.

Both of these upcoming collections have been produced by Grammy-nominated producer Cheryl Pawelski, co-founder of Omnivore Recordings and veteran of countless projects from labels including Capitol and Rhino. Pawelski notes in the press release, “Like a lot of fans, I had collected these straggling tracks over the past two decades of following Wilco’s every move. Alpha Mike Foxtrot includes almost every unique, essential performance that appeared on soundtracks, tribute albums and B-sides—and there are probably a few surprises for even the sharpest collector. This set presents an alternate history of the band, kind of a sideways view, and ultimately, it’s a super-fun listening experience.”

We have more details on these sets, as well as pre-order links and the full track listings, after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 20, 2014 at 13:02

O-o-h Child! Real Gone’s December Line-Up Features Five Stairsteps, Grateful Dead, B.J. Thomas and More

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Five Stairsteps - Two-ferO-o-h Child! Real Gone Music has announced its December 2 release slate, and following the label’s holiday offerings set for November 4, it’s packed with rare soul, classic rock and folk!

The Real Goners have a complete collection of Linda Jones’ recordings for not one, not two, but three labels – Warner Bros., Atco and Loma –marking the most comprehensive collection yet for the “Hypnotized” songstress, including tracks new to CD! Joining the Linda Jones set is a two-for-one release of two Buddah albums from The First Family of Soul, The Five Stairsteps: 1968’s Our Family Portrait and 1970’s Stairsteps, the latter of which introduced the Top 10 hit “O-o-h Child.”

On the rock front, you’ll find two collections from western-themed bands! Real Gone continues the story of Cowboy with 5’ll Getcha Ten, the band’s 1971 album featuring the legendary Duane Allman sitting in; and the label adds a couple of tracks to the lone album from the 1980s’ wild roots-rockers The Unforgiven!  And speaking of roots-rock of a kind, the ongoing Dick’s Picks reissue series for Grateful Dead continues with two 1973 shows from the Boston Music Hall!

The legendary Theodore Bikel makes his first appearance on Real Gone with a long out-of-print collection originally issued on Rhino Handmade. Theodore Bikel’s Treasury of Yiddish Folk and Theatre Songs contains 26 tracks from Bikel’s seminal Elektra recordings made between 1958 and 1964 at a time when popular music was rapidly changing, and will remind listeners, even today, of the enduring power of Bikel’s classic repertoire.

BJ2These six titles will be joined by two more releases originally scheduled for November 4. In the mid-1970s, “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” icon B.J. Thomas became one of the most successful artists ever in the field of contemporary Christian music, recording a series of record-breaking, Grammy Award-winning albums for the Myrrh label that reflected the style and high production values of his pop material but with a spiritual emphasis.  Home Where I Belong/Happy Man and You Gave Me Love/Miracle, with two albums on each CD, reveal a major chapter in the career of B.J. Thomas.  I’ve written new liner notes for both titles, with fresh contributions from B.J. himself!

After the jump, we have the contents of Real Gone’s full press release plus pre-order links for all eight releases! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 20, 2014 at 10:24

Review: Pugwash, “A Rose in a Garden of Weeds” (Or: The Best Band You Never Heard?)

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Pugwash

Pugwash is currently wrapping up its first-ever U.S. tour with two more performances scheduled in Los Angeles: this Sunday, October 19, on a bill alongside Wings’ great guitarist Laurence Juber and Now Sounds’ musical guru and all-around renaissance man Steve Stanley; and next Friday, October 24, with Love Revisited!  If you’re in the area, you just might want to check the lads out!

The first track on the first-ever North American release by Irish band Pugwash implores “Take Me Away,” but where to? A Rose in a Garden of Weeds: A Preamble Through the History of Pugwash, Omnivore Recordings’ new 17-track anthology drawn from five studio releases and one single originally issued between 1999 and 2011, will take you away to a world of jangly guitars, rich harmonies, unabashedly catchy melodies, bright productions, and vibrant colors, all delivered in a voice eerily reminiscent of Electric Light Orchestra hero Jeff Lynne. That voice belongs to Thomas Walsh, who much as Lynne did for ELO, wrote, sang, produced and played multiple instruments for Pugwash. A Rose in a Garden of Weeds, however, transcends pastiche – which, let’s face it, takes a great deal of skill to do well, anyway. It’s best experienced as a continuation of the story begun by The Beatles and continued by bands from ELO to XTC – as well as a number of other groups with more than three letters in their names.  Pugwash fits squarely in this tradition of smart, polished and exuberant guitar-pop practitioners unafraid to utilize the studio and all of the instruments it can house, among them organ, mellotron, sleigh bells, woodblock, harpsichord, strings, horns, vibes, glockenspiel, kazoo, and enough guitars and keyboards to sate even the most gargantuan musical appetite.

If “Take Me Away” is pitch-perfect ELO by way of The Byrds with a SMiLE-era Beach Boys interlude (and adding to the verisimilitude, Nelson Bragg of The Brian Wilson Band and The Now People plays on the track), the sounds in this Garden are, in truth, a rather diverse lot. This is in no small part due to the varied personnel. Sonic auteur Walsh is joined by a rotating cast on these tracks; Keith Farrell is the second most constant presence on a variety of instruments including Moog, Hammond organ and bass. The current band-line up with Tosh Flood (guitar/keyboards), Shaun McGee (bass) and Joe Fitzgerald (drums) is also represented. Andy Partridge and Dave Gregory of XTC drop by for good measure, and Jason Falkner of Jellyfish and TV Eyes adds various instruments to a number of tracks.

Falkner’s VOX Continental organ rides a cascade of acoustic and electric guitars, including Stephen Farrell’s George Harrison-esque inspired slide, on “Keep Movin’ On,” a wonderfully anthemic power-pop ode to perseverance. Another Beatle, John Lennon, is called to mind on the sincere, aching “Finer Things in Life,” on which Geoff Woods’ cello and strings add subtle elegance. Walsh has a knack for rhythmic yet attractive ballads, such as the yearning, vulnerable “Here” and the title track. The Section Quartet adds the baroque string ornamentation worthy of George Martin to both of those songs. (The liner notes tell us that the strings for “Rose” were recorded in Abbey Road 38 years to the day after “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Something was definitely in the air.) “Fall Down,” tinged with pretty melancholy, and the dynamic “Answers on a Postcard” – perhaps the most wonderfully realized production on this collection – pick up right where the Fab Four and ELO left off, and that’s intended as a high compliment, indeed. “Answers” incorporates some fleeting Brian Wilson-esque touches, too, and the master’s sonic approach is echoed, but not strictly recreated, on the effervescent, blissfully childlike “It’s Nice to Be Nice.”

Don’t miss a thing – hit the jump to keep reading! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 17, 2014 at 12:30

Posted in Compilations, News, Pugwash, Reviews

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Got To Be Real: SoulMusic Reissues Cheryl Lynn, Labelle and Johnnie Taylor

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LabelleWith a trio of recent releases from Labelle, Cheryl Lynn and Johnnie Taylor, Cherry Red’s SoulMusic Records imprint turns its attention once again to bona fide R&B royalty.

When Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles transformed into Labelle, the change was more than merely cosmetic.  The quartet was reduced to a threesome when Cindy Birdsong headed to Hitsville USA to replace Florence Ballard in The Supremes.  Moreover, under the direction of British manager, producer and songwriter Vicki Wickham, the girls ditched their traditional repertoire to pursue a gutsy new direction.  Their first album as Labelle, a 1971 self-titled effort for Warner Bros., had songs written by all three members – Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx – as well as Carole King, Laura Nyro and The Rolling Stones.  1972’s Moonshadow saw Hendryx’s songwriting talent blossom alongside compositions from Dash, Pete Townshend (a searing cover of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”) and Cat Stevens (the title track).  Post-Moonshadow, Wickham and Labelle decamped for RCA.  SoulMusic has just reissued Labelle’s first and only RCA album, 1973’s Pressure Cookin’.

Nona Hendryx continued to shine on seven of the album’s nine tracks, and she was particularly concerned with social issues of the day. In A. Scott Galloway’s fine essay which accompanies this reissue, Hendryx relates, “I was inspired by artists…like Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Stephen Stills and Joni Mitchell.  There was so much racism, sexism, drugs…there needed to be a revolution of the mind.”  Hendryx and Labelle provided one with the scorching title song, and even the album’s cover material reflected that raised consciousness.  A medley melded Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” with Gil Scott-Heron’s spoken-word “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” with all three women taking raps. Hendryx found room for the personal, too.  “(Can I Speak to You Before You Go to) Hollywood” took aim at the people who might later have been deemed poseurs: “There were many people we knew who went from being new to major stars, i.e. divas, and things went to their heads…These were the same people that at one time you’d shared dressing rooms and chicken legs with on the chitlin circuit!”  (Some have suggested Cindy Birdsong was a possible inspiration for the song.)  On “Mr. Music Man,” Hendryx addressed the rapidly-changing musical climate, specifically the marginalization of certain artists from Top 40 radio.  (The more things change…!)  The funky “Goin’ on a Holiday” was co-produced by Wickham and an uncredited Stevie Wonder, and Wonder also wrote “Open Up Your Heart” for Labelle.

After the jump: more on Pressure Cookin’, plus Cheryl Lynn and Johnnie Taylor! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 17, 2014 at 10:44

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

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black_friday_logo

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

He’s Your Man: Leonard Cohen’s “Live in Dublin” Captures Full-Length Concert

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Leonard Cohen - DublinCanadian poet-troubadour Leonard Cohen’s most recent album, issued earlier this year, was entitled Popular Problems, but one of Cohen’s problems is not a lack of available material for his fans.  Following that LP as well as the Mastered-for-iTunes release of his studio album catalogue, Cohen has announced the December 2 release of Live in Dublin via Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings.

His first full-length high definition concert film, Live in Dublin will be available in 3-CD/1-DVD and 3-CD/1-BD configurations as well as from digital service providers.  The concert was filmed last year at Dublin’s O2 arena on September 12, 2013, part of the artist’s critically-acclaimed, sold-out world tour.  At the O2 as on other stops, he incorporated music from 2012’s Old Ideas into a career-spanning retrospective set list of Cohen standards.  The three-hour program includes an 11-song first set including “Dance Me to the End of Love” and early classic “Bird on the Wire,” a second set with “Suzanne,” “Chelsea Hotel # 2,” “I’m Your Man,” “Tower of Song” and the inevitable “Hallelujah,” and an encore featuring “So Long, Marianne,” “First We Take Manhattan,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” and a poignant cover of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman’s Brill Building staple “Save the Last Dance for Me.”  The DVD only adds three bonus performances recorded in Canada in 2013: “Show Me the Place,” “Anyhow” and “Different Sides.”

Hit the jump for more, including the complete tracklisting and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 16, 2014 at 10:33

Posted in Blu-Ray, DVD, Leonard Cohen

A Case of Joni: Mitchell Curates New Love-Themed, Career-Spanning Box Set

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Joni - Love Has Many FacesIn 2007, Joni Mitchell released her last studio album to date, Shine.  That release was her first recording since 2002’s Travelogue and first collection of new songs since 1998’s Taming the Tiger.  Over the past seven years, the influential singer-songwriter has mainly made headlines for her candid and revealing interviews, on which she’s held forth about such topics as Bob Dylan’s alleged plagiarism and her own struggles with Morgellons disease.  So it’s refreshing that Mitchell is back in the spotlight for her music, thanks to a new box set to arrive just in time for the holiday gift-giving season.  On November 17, Rhino will release a new four-disc collection entitled Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced.

In the tradition of past compilations curated by Mitchell including The Beginning of Survival, Dreamland and Songs of a Prairie Girl, Love Has Many Faces promises to be a thematic exploration of the artist’s poetic, soulful and jazz-inflected music created over the decades.  The set includes 53 newly-remastered songs selected from her catalogue which began with 1968’s David Crosby-produced album Song to a Seagull and has encompassed such acknowledged classics as Ladies of the Canyon (1970), Blue (1971), Court and Spark (1974) and Both Sides Now (2000).  It’s promised that the remastered songs on Love will be “familiar but fresh,” with “a lot of sonic adjustment.” In a press release, Mitchell elaborated, “I am a painter who writes songs. My songs are very visual. The words create scenes …What I have done here is to gather some of these scenes (like a documentary filmmaker) and by juxtaposition, edit them into a whole new work.”

As the title indicates, the box set was initially conceived for the ballet stage.  “I wanted the music to feel like a total work – a new work,” Mitchell writes in the liner notes. “No matter what I did, though, at that [ballet performance] length, it remained merely a collection of songs.”  So the artist rearranged 53 songs into “thematic acts” like that of a ballet. Comparing her to that of a film editor, she offers, “I had 40 years of footage to review. Then, suddenly, scenes began to hook up. Then series began to form.” She elucidates, “Instead of it being an emotional roller coaster ride as it was before — crammed into one disc — themes began to develop. Moods sustained. I was getting there…When this long editorial process finally came to rest, I had four ballets or a four-act ballet — a quartet. I also had a box set.”

Hit the jump for more details including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 15, 2014 at 12:06

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