Archive for October 2010
Welcome to a very special edition of Back Tracks! For this week’s Friday Feature, Mike took a look back at the music of Psycho. One of the few films still retaining the power to shock and thrill after some 50 years, the repercussions of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece are still felt today. And its musical legacy, enhanced via some very controversial sequels and remakes, encompasses some of the greats, with Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman and Carter Burwell all having built on the foundation laid by Bernard Herrmann. Part of the reason for Psycho’s longevity can no doubt be attributed to the performance of Anthony Perkins (1932-1992) as one of the most complex if ghoulish individuals in pop culture history, Norman Bates.
After making his film debut in George Cukor’s 1953 The Actress, written by Ruth Gordon, Perkins was quickly rewarded with a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year – Actor for his role in The Actress, and found himself an Academy Award nominee for his second film, William Wyler’s Friendly Persuasion (1956). A Tony nomination followed for 1958’s Look Homeward, Angel, and in the same year he charmed screen audiences as Cornelius Hackl opposite Shirley Booth’s Dolly Gallagher Levi (Booth’s role having been originated by Ruth Gordon on Broadway) in the film adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.
Concurrent with this great wave of success in both comedic and dramatic roles, Perkins was developing his interest in music. Prior to his role in Friendly Persuasion, the actor had starred opposite Kim Stanley in a dramatic television presentation on Goodyear Playhouse entitled Joey. Perkins’ character sang the song “A Little Love Can Go a Long, Long Way” by Paul Francis Webster and Sammy Fain; his performance so impressed Epic Records that the label offered Perkins a contract. He recorded six sides for three singles, including the theme to Friendly Persuasion. (Pat Boone, however, had the hit!) Albums followed for both Epic and RCA, but in 1960, Psycho changed everything for Anthony Perkins. In the years that followed, Perkins would give many more memorable performances in a variety of roles, but despite showing his versatility, Hollywood immortalized him in one part. The role of Bates would uncomfortably follow him until he finally embraced it for Psycho II in 1983. He then reprised Bates for two further films. After a long, public and brave fight with AIDS, Perkins died in 1992.
As Halloween-timed screenings and TV airings remind everyone of his indelible performance as Norman Bates, Back Tracks invites readers to take a look at another side of Anthony Perkins. Hit the jump to join us in 1957! Read the rest of this entry »
Figures: try to start a new feature and it seems to be all that happens. Yet another reissue of an incredibly recent record is coming your way this holiday season – the debut by firebrand pop star Ke$ha.
Kesha Sebert is one of those love-her-or-hate-her musicians on the scene today. Her debut album, Animal, is packed with inescapable pop hooks, thanks mostly to the production and songwriting talents of Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, a one-time Saturday Night Live band member who’s produced hits for Kelly Clarkson (“Since U Been Gone”), Katy Perry (“California Gurls”) and Miley Cyrus (“Party in the U.S.A.”). While Luke supplies Ke$ha with the freshest beats and hooks, critics have scoffed at the singer’s rail-thin, effects-heavy voice, garbage-chic style and obnoxious party-girl image.
But with four Top 10 singles already under her belt, it’s only natural that RCA would want to get some more while the getting’s good. Thus we have Animal/Cannibal, the upcoming expansion of her debut album with a bonus EP of eight new tracks and one remix. Lead single “We R Who We R” is already poised to burn up teenage radios, so those of you with fans in your family may expect a very Ke$ha Christmas whether you like it or not.
As has been the trend in the past year, the Cannibal disc will be available for those who’ve already bought the main album. Check out the full track list after the jump.
Back in May, The Second Disc did a Friday Feature on the chilling, iconic and somehow commercially unreleased score to Alfred Hitchock’s Pyscho, written by Bernard Hermann. With Halloween approaching (and a killer screening of Psycho planned tonight at New York’s Film Forum), what else is there to write about?
Those of you with particularly steel-trap-like memories may recall a set of sequels – sequels! – to the film, released in the 1980s. If that weren’t inexplicable enough for you, they actually starred Anthony Perkins, reprising his role as the unhinged Norman Bates. Even weirder? Well…they actually weren’t that terrible.
Read on…if you dare.
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on well-known albums of the past and the reissues they could someday see. A wave of ’90s nostalgia leads this column to look back at one of the best one-hit wonders of the latter part of the decade.
The presence of The New Radicals on that NOW ’90s compilation brought some memories flooding back. Remember the first time you heard “You Get What You Give”? It was insanely poppy, it sounded kind of like a U2 outtake from an era U2 hadn’t even publicly gotten to yet (the All That You Can’t Leave Behind era) and, to quote Chuck Klosterman in SPIN magazine, it was “an almost flawless Todd Rundgren-like masterwork that makes any right-thinking American want to run through a Wal-Mart semi-naked.” (All this from an article where he claimed New Radicals were the second most accurately rated band in pop history.)
All of these are right, but of course there was so much more to the group – or at least its founder, Gregg Alexander – than meets the eye. We remember the silly hats Alexander wore, the smirky baiting of Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson and the other pop luminaries of the day. But there’s so much more to remember.
Gregg Alexander was a shockingly competent songwriter from the get-go. His first album, 1989′s Michigan Rain, was recorded when he was only 17, taken from a batch of his own tunes produced by Rick Nowels (producer of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth”). Follow-up album Intoxifornication (1992), released on Epic after being dropped by A&M, took five tracks from the previous album and another set of good but not great tunes.
In the mid-’90s he began work on the New Radicals project, known for lacking any permanent members other than Alexander himself. (A notable semi-exception was the co-writing and percussion talents of Danielle Brisebois (who, insanely enough, was a former child actor best known for playing Archie Bunker’s insufferably cute niece at the tal end of All in the Family and later Archie Bunker’s Place. She had worked with Alexander on Intoxifornication and recorded an album of her own with some input from him as well.) The Radicals were crack session musicians, including Nowels, percussionist Lenny Castro, keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, drummer Josh Freese and guitarist Rusty Anderson. Amid heavy promotion (and considerable controversy from those celeb-baiting lyrics), lead single “You Get What You Give” was a huge hit, and the album Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too went on to sell a million copies.
But all was not rosy. Alexander soon felt the strain of being a semi-star, namely the “hanging and schmoozing” aspect of the business, and after the release of second single “Someday We’ll Know” disbanded the outfit to go back to songwriting and producing. Both he and Brisebois still write notable tunes; he won a Grammy for Santana and Michelle Branch’s “The Game of Love” in 2003 and she penned “Unwritten” and “Pocketful of Sunshine” for British pop star Natasha Bedingfield.
And the New Radicals discography is remembered fondly by fans of ’70s pop and ’90s alt-rock; “Someday We’ll Know” was covered by Daryl Hall and John Oates in 2003 and was performed by Mandy Moore the year before for her film A Walk to Remember, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel. (The film adaptation changed the setting of the book from the ’50s to 1998, and included another New Radicals track, “Mother We Just Can’t Get Enough,” on its soundtrack.)
Perhaps someday, a reissue would be in order for this in-need-of-rediscovery pop triumph. After the jump, take a look at what it might look like. Read the rest of this entry »
This week has been unseasonably warm around The Second Disc HQ, and while that’s not particularly fun, there is news of some heat of another kind – particularly, expanded reissues of the Heatwave catalogue coming your way from Cherry Red next month.
The immortal disco band, which had a string of classic dance/soul cuts in the late ’70s from the pen of member Rod Temperton (who also of course wrote some instant classics for Michael Jackson in the Off the Wall and Thriller days), will see no less than three sets coming out from Cherry Red’s Big Break and 7Ts imprints. Big Break has reissues of the band’s Hot Property (1979) and Candles (1980) LPs, each remastered and expanded with four and nine bonus B-sides and remixes, respectively. Meanwhile, 7Ts will release a two-disc compilation, The G.T.O. Singles Collection, which will feature all their greatest U.K. hits in their original 45 versions.
Between these sets and reissues overseen by Big Break and Demon earlier this year, we can gladly report that the Heatwave catalogue has now been fully remastered and expanded for the 21st century. The expansions of Hot Property and Candles will be released November 8, while The G.T.O. Singles Collection streets a week later on November 15.
Check out the track listings for all these releases after the jump.
Another relatively recent reissue coming down the pipeline: alt-metal band Shinedown will reissue their most recent album, 2008′s The Sound of Madness, in a new CD/DVD package that’s actually quite heavy on bonus material.
The album, which spawned several rock hits including the surprise crossover single “Second Chance,” a Top 10 hit in the winter of 2009, will be expanded with nine bonus cuts and a DVD of music videos and live performances. The bonus tracks come from a variety of sources, including some digital singles, a previous bonus track edition released to iTunes and the band’s fan club, and a few soundtrack tunes.
If you’re a fan or are really, really curious, it’s a rather large amount of material to reward yourself (including the one-year fan club membership that comes with the set). Certainly not the kind of skimpy holiday reissues many of us are used to. It arrives in stores on November 23, and the track list is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s the most inevitable irony: the people behind NOW That’s What I Call Music! have finally compiled a set devoted to the 1990s – the very decade U.S. buyers started getting their own versions of the long-running pop compilation series.
The first NOW volume hit stores in England in 1983, but it didn’t catch on until 1998 in the States. Three dozen standard volumes later (NOW 36 is due November 9), the latest special title in the series is NOW That’s What I Call the 1990s, to be released the same day. Do note that the set is subtitled “An Alternative Pop Collection,” so this isn’t going to be full of teen pop tunes. (If you want such a set, you can get the U.K. NOW That’s What I Call the ’90s, released last year – or the what’s-your-hurry set NOW That’s What I Call the ’00s, released in England back in February.)
Check out the track list for the compilation after the jump (no Amazon link exists just yet), and do try hard not to cringe at the passage of time between the original release of these songs and this set.
As if his new memoir wasn’t exciting enough, Keith Richards has also got a compilation of his greatest solo material due out next week.
Vintage Vinos (or Winos - Amazon and Keith’s official site say Vinos but that just seems odd) compiles tracks from Richards’ two solo albums for Virgin Records as well as a live album recorded with backing band The X-Pensive Winos (which included session luminaries Waddy Wachtel and Steve Jordan). It adds one rare track, an acoustic song called “Hurricane.” The set will be a nice opportunity to rediscover the acclaimed solo output of Richards, released at a time when The Rolling Stones were in a bit of a critical slump and Richards was semi-estranged from Mick Jagger.
Here’s another new feature for your consideration at The Second Disc: reissues of classic albums are the core of our coverage, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the other, odder batches of reissues. You know, the ones that come out after a record does alright on its own, to squeeze some more juice from the rinds. It’s easier to be more cynical about these sets, but everything deserves its own place.
Train, much like Ken Jeong’s character on the show Community, is a band that can never die. Thought “Meet Virginia” would consign them to one-hit wonder status in 1999? “Drops of Jupiter” was there to push them back into your consciousness in 2001. Then “Calling All Angels” in 2003. Then…more or less nothing, until “Hey, Soul Sister” grabbed your radio by the neck and refused to let go all through the past year.
Now, Columbia plans to release a new version of the album which spawned “Hey, Soul Sister” in time for the holiday rush. Save Me, San Francisco: Golden Gate Edition includes six extra tracks, including a remix of new single “Marry Me” and “Shake Up Christmas,” obviously intended for seasonal playlists.
Head-shaking aside, Train have been consistent in their production of semi-catchy pop-rock over the past decade or so; thus, you won’t be judged if you end up picking this set up for yourself or the people you love.
The track list for this new reissue is after the jump.
By that, of course, I mean Now Sounds. Launched in 2007 by Steve Stanley, the producer of over 50 titles for the Rev-Ola label, Now Sounds celebrates the rich and varied melodies created between 1964 and 1972, though the label isn’t limited to that period. A labor of love for its founder, Now Sounds has established itself as the go-to label for fans of this golden era of both songwriting and record production.
We’ve seen a career anthology from the Wondermints, and reissues from familiar artists like Dion, The Association, Gary Lewis, and The Cowsills. Now Sounds has also unearthed gems from the likes of Tina Mason, the Tuneful Trolley and Jamme, produced by “Papa” John Phillips. This week, the label releases its expanded edition of Paul Williams’ sunshine pop classic Someday Man. The 1970 album, with a title track familiar to many Monkees fans, is one of the gold standards of pop songwriting and polished production, with both duties performed by Williams and Roger Nichols. Stanley’s much-anticipated reissue doubles the length of the original LP, and continues the label’s fruitful relationship with Williams and Nichols. (Fine complements to Someday Man are the similarly-expanded edition for Williams’ early band The Holy Mackerel, and the return of Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends with the group’s Full Circle set.)
The Second Disc couldn’t be more pleased to talk shop with Steve Stanley of Now Sounds! Dig the photo of Steve with legendary musical wunderkind Emitt Rhodes, and after the jump, join us where Steve candidly offers his thoughts on the rewards and challenges of releasing catalogue music in today’s fractured music business. He also gives some scoops about what’s next for Now Sounds. And after you’re done reading and find yourself waiting for your copy of Someday Man to arrive? Remember to tune in every Monday to LuxuriaMusic.com from 6 pm to 8 pm PST to hear Steve’s radio program, The Now Sounds. You’ll be thanking me later! Read the rest of this entry »