Archive for February 2010
When you’re around kids, you often find themselves saying what they’d do if they were in charge. There would be no school, no bedtime, unlimited pizza, that sort of thing. Once you grow up those visions look more fanciful, but sometimes that sentiment sticks with you, no matter how much you bury it.
I know I feel that way with the catalogue scene. Every day, every song, every trip to the record store spins off a dozen ideas in my head that I can’t wait to share with anyone who will listen. And the fact that I got to be a part of the process for a short time, even as a mere intern at Universal, was another bunch of cherries on top of life’s rich sundae. Of course, like every pleasure in this world, you want more.
One thing I always wanted to see in my time as an intern was exactly how an idea is born. From my perspective, I’d walk into the office and it would already be go-time on some idea. I’d give anything to someday be in the room when someone – maybe myself, maybe someone else – says, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we did such-and-such a project?” The fact that one can spin a career from that spark is nothing short of mystifying. Read the rest of this entry »
The other night, my radio happened upon “Manic Monday,” one of the best pop songs of the 1980s. I’m sure you’re all aware that the tune was written by Prince (under the pseudonym “Christopher,” an effect from his Under the Cherry Moon days) and given to Susanna Hoffs and company after Apollonia 6 recorded a version that was never released. You may also know that the song itself hit No. 2 on the charts, kept from the top by none other than Prince and The Revolution’s “Kiss.”
You might not know why Sunday would be considered a fun-day (or an I-don’t-have-to-run-day for that matter). I don’t either, and that always makes me think why Prince would come up with such a line. Clearly he had more fun on Sundays than I did as a kid (I often used Sunday to mope about soon-to-be-manic Mondays). But I don’t think I could take it up with him – or The Bangles for that matter. And not only because Susanna Hoffs is crazy pretty, but because there’s better things to say to the band – like, “Hey! What if your albums got a heavy-duty reissue treatment?” (How’s that for a segue! Now, I realize all three are available, with a bonus track each, from Wounded Bird Records. But I suppose there isn’t anything stopping a guy from imagining what could be.)
In tribute to one of the best female rock groups of the ’80s, I give you a special three-for-one version of Reissue Theory, where I tackle All Over the Place, Different Light and Everything. Read on after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
Some news is coming through the pipeline that a good chunk of the Katrina and The Waves discography is being reissued in honor of the 25th anniversary of “Walking on Sunshine,” their biggest U.S. hit and one of those inescapable summer anthems. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding these reissues (more on that in a minute), but these look pretty interesting, especially because of the material that’s being released themselves.
You see, before the smash success of Katrina and the Waves, the band’s 1985 LP for Capitol, many of their best known songs – “Walking on Sunshine,” “Do You Want Crying” and “Going Down to Liverpool” (later covered by The Bangles) – were already recorded on their indie albums. They lack the spit and polish that made the Capitol versions such big sellers, but that’s what makes them interesting. These original versions are raw and poppy, which will make them a fine addition to anyone’s collection.
Now here’s where things get interesting. I’ve seen release dates (per MusicTAP) for three titles: Shock Horror, The Waves’ 1983 debut (of which almost no info can be easily found on the Internet) will hit stores on March 29, Katrina and The Waves (1983) will come out on April 12 and Katrina and The Waves II (1984) will come out April 29.
There are two issues with that info. One, I’m not sure any of those release dates are right. March 29 and April 12 may be – they’re both Mondays and could be referring to U.K. release dates, so one could assume March 30 and April 13 releases here. But April 29 is a Thursday this year. I somehow doubt a reissue is coming out on such a day of the week. And furthermore, most Waves discographies list their 1983 LP as Walking on Sunshine, not Katrina and The Waves (that would be the name of their first LP for Capitol, whom I’m now pretty sure has nothing to do with these reissues).
Finally, in researching these titles, I happened upon this article, which indicates that Kimberley Rew (co-founder of the band and primary songwriter for the group) is masterminding these reissues, which will also include The Bible of Bop, Rew’s 1982 solo album featuring the first recordings of The Waves.
Until this mess is sorted out, I can at least give you the track lists for the three Waves LPs that are to be reissued. View them after the jump and keep your eyes peeled because there’s got to be more to this story. Read the rest of this entry »
Amazon has an April 6 date for a new reissue of Genius + Soul = Jazz, a 1961 instrumental album by Ray Charles. Backed by members of the Count Basie Orchestra, featuring orchestrations by Quincy Jones and propelled by a Top 10 hit, “One Mint Julep,” the LP served as his first for Impulse! Records and is now owned and distributed by the Concord label (which owns the rights to all his Impulse and ABC/Paramount material, from 1960 to 1973).
Concord’s done quite a bit of stuff with this part of Brother Ray’s discography in the past year, including a deluxe version of The Genius Hits the Road (1960), a two-for-one version of Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music Volumes 1 and 2 (both 1962), the CD premiere of Message for the People (1972) and several digital releases of other sets in the Concord catalogue.
In 1997, Rhino released this album on a double bill with My Kind of Jazz, an instrumental LP recorded for Tangerine nearly a decade later in 1970. No bonus tracks were had there and it remains to be seen what will be dug up now. Keep it here for the latest, as always.
For many, one of the most salient points of reissuing and compiling popular music is to help listeners rediscover lost gems that may have fallen into the cracks. Ordinarily, one would not consider a debut record that sold 12 million copies, spun off three Top 40 hits and won a Grammy a “lost gem.” And yet, it seems that at least one record, 1987’s Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, has earned such a strange distinction.
Terence Trent D’Arby has always been something of an enigma. An American living in Europe in the 1980s, he seemed poised to grab the music-listening public by the balls, marrying old-school funk sensibilities to then-modern sonic textures. The fact that he wrote and arranged his own material and even played some of his own backing tracks – not to mention his stunning, video-ready physical features – made the comparisons to Prince, James Brown or Michael Jackson all too rampant. And audiences on both sides of the Atlantic were transfixed, thanks to catchy singles from the chart-topping “Wishing Well” and “Dance Little Sister” to smoldering ballads like “Sign Your Name,” a Top 5 hit.
But the thing that contributed to D’Arby’s eventual fall from favor wasn’t changing demographics or record label politics – it was himself. He possessed a wildly outsized ego in interviews, touting himself as a genius and claiming Introducing the Hardline… – a solid, if slightly dated LP – was greater than The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Eventually, that pretension spread too far into his work and audiences sought other channels for their soul-dance-rock fixation, namely Seal and Lenny Kravitz. D’Arby’s commercial prominence never recovered, but he’s still happily making music in Europe under a new name, Sananda Maitreya, and bypassing the major label/physical product industrial complex in the process.
While the man may have gone off the deep end from time to time, his unique presence and rather exciting debut would be a great subject for rediscovery in the halls of catalogue titles. As always, find the potential bonus content after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
Much has been made about the communal nature of music by both those who create it and those who consume it. Millions of words, from Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity to Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke,” have been spelled out on the subject. Sometimes it takes time for us to grasp and appreciate their true meanings, but when we connect through song, it’s usually a wonderful thing.
This is usually the kind of thought that runs through my head as I walk into that beautiful, endangered ground they call a record store.
For most of my music-buying career, the record store didn’t have the kind of transitive power it may have had for some of you. Music was always a large part of the family – an uncle of mine who’d passed away almost too soon for me to really remember him had owned a record store of his own in New Jersey, after a stint working for RCA. (It wasn’t until later in life that I’d realize how formative having a relative so involved in the music business could be.)
Thanks to an incredibly photographic memory, I can recall where and when I obtained nearly every one of the albums I own, or the chain of events that led me to purchase them. But the journey never meant much to me back then. Chalk it up to youthful indifference, I guess, a problem that hit much of my generation hard in terms of music. Too much of my collection was obtained at Target, K-Mart, Sam Goody or FYE, and it seemed so convenient to get stuff there that I didn’t really consider alternative routes to buying my discs.
Thankfully for me (and for you, the reader), that would change before too long. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been waiting for this one for a long time: Hip-O Select is releasing a new compilation of classic Motown songs in a whole new way. Motown Around the World: The Classic Singles compiles 38 songs from the label as recorded in other languages for international markets. The Supremes, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, The Velvelettes, Smokey Robinson and Edwin Starr sing the songs you know and love (plus a few folk ballads native to other countries) in Italian, Spanish, French and German, almost entirely preserved in their original single mixes. Trust me: if you love Motown, you’re going to flip when you hear some of this stuff.
Check out the full track list after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
Today, Legacy releases a double-disc edition of Supernatural, the massive comeback album Santana released in 1999. Perhaps more than any catalogue reissue I’ve ever followed, there’s something positively mind-boggling about seeing an album that’s only a decade old – even one that’s a successful, good listen – get the deluxe treatment.
You see, while I have been passionate about reissues for much of my music-collecting life, I’m firmly a part of the generation that went from watching Britney Spears and *NSYNC on Total Request Live before tying up the family phone line by downloading tracks off Napster. I can remember seeing the videos for “Smooth” and “Maria Maria” on VH-1 before my mom drove me to middle school. With those kinds of memories in tow, it’s crazy to think that Supernatural now exists in the same sort of lavishly packaged physical tribute as records such as ZZ Top’s Eliminator or Space Oddity by David Bowie.
But it brings up a good question: as the ’90s and ’00s get further away from us, what LPs will be reissued and expanded to show off what music was like for future generations? Sure, the answer could easily be none of them – by the middle of the last decade, the music business and music fans were at such splintering odds that it seems pointless to think that No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom or Baby One More Time by Britney Spears would ever get a reissue with vault content or well-penned liner notes.
But to paraphrase that Kevin Costner movie, if you build it, they will come. To that end, I ask you, dear reader: what recent album – let’s say anything from 1990 on – do you think deserves a proper deluxe reissue in the coming years?
Take a look at the above image. It might not look too familiar if you live in the U.S. and have a working knowledge of the INXS catalogue. The famed Australian rockers have a vast three-decade career to their credit, most of which has appeared on subsidiaries of Warner Music Group through the years (notably Atco and Atlantic). Elsewhere, though, it’s another story: in Europe, Mercury/Phonogram, owned by Universal Music Group, gets the rights to the work of Michael Hutchence and company.
Therefore, while American audiences had to settle for a simple 2002 reissue of Kick, the band’s 1987 breakthrough LP, with only four bonus tracks, international fans got one of those unmistakable Deluxe Editions two years later, featuring three of those bonus cuts on a bonus disc that contained a dozen songs in total. It’s quite odd that Rhino, the label responsible for the 2002 U.S. reissue, hasn’t ever made a move to replicate or redesign that deluxe version for us fans in the States. (This is triply true considering that a) Universal also has international distribution rights to the work of The Cure, and has done some deluxe editions independent from the fascinating Rhino remasters Americans have been enjoying in the past few years, and b) copies of the Universal Deluxe Edition go for more than $45 used on Amazon’s American page – so the demand must be there.)
With that reflection in mind, here’s how a proper, Stateside deluxe version of Kick – a fascinating pop-rock record in its own right – might look. As usual, the lowdown is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
Music aggregator The Daily Swarm made a heck of a discovery today: seven YouTube videos of Prince rehearsing some of the hits, B-sides and rarities from the Purple Rain era in 1984. Given that Prince has famously come down on YouTube like a ton of bricks – threatening legal action against a mother who posted a video of her baby dancing to a few seconds of “Let’s Go Crazy” – this definitely falls under the “get it while it’s hot” category.
But when you get back from watching, here’s something to ponder: will rock fans ever get the deluxe treatment for that beautiful purple music? Prince’s catalogue has got to be one of the most lackluster on compact disc. All his great Warner Bros. albums from 1978 to 1993 – the year of that symbol – are easy enough to find. But none of it has really benefitted from a nice masterful transfer to the medium. The packaging is emblematic of early-’80s discs, with precious little of those great album sleeves fittingly reproduced in those jewel cases.
And don’t get anyone started on that delightfully desirable vault content. The officially released content is hard enough to find on disc – Warner’s fantastic 1993 compilation The Hits/The B-Sides devoted an entire disc to those rare cuts, and even that didn’t cover everything. Rhino did the best job with what they could on 2006’s Ultimate Prince, dusting off some vinyl-only 12″ remixes for public consumption. (The work on Ultimate Prince sounds even more Herculean when you read this article on its production.)
Of course, a discography as massive as Prince’s doesn’t merely need a revisiting – it needs a task force that would rival any military operation in history. Because Prince isn’t merely defined by his released discography and those famous tracks in The Vault. There’s work in there for dozens of other artists. Some of them you know: The Time, Vanity/Apollonia 6, Sheila E. deserve some nice remastering jobs as well as the inclusion of B-sides and other bonuses. But what about The Family, Madhouse, Three O’Clock – hell, even Dale Bozzio and George Clinton? The brief tenure of Prince’s label, Paisley Park, was kind of disorganized and diverse but surely some gems can be dug out from the mess.
And that doesn’t even count those unreleased tracks. That storied work from The Vault has been hinted at twice. Prince’s sprawling, independent rarities set Crystal Ball was three discs of unreleased material from 1982 to 1996, but it suffered from unnecessary editing/remixing and one of the worst release schedules of all time (over 100,000 people pre-ordered what they were led to believe was an online-only release, and by the time they all received their orders the set was in stores). Warner’s single-disc The Vault: Old Friends 4 Sale (1999), fared even worse.
Prince, for various reasons, has been said to abhor those old days for various reasons (the bawdy lyrics clash with his Jehovah’s Witness faith, he doesn’t like revisiting his past, etc.), but his body of work makes up a significant portion of pop music history. I say His Royal Badness should bury the hatchet with WB and work on getting this stuff out to the masses. Reissue those classic LPs with those hard-to-find B-sides and save the heavy-hitters in The Vault for a massive box set.
Of course, I’d love to hear how you, the reader, would tackle the Prince catalogue if you could. Let’s hear it in the comments – and may your ideas live 2 see The Dawn.
NOTE: This post was edited to add a link in the third graf that was originally not there. Sorry for the mix-up.