Archive for February 9th, 2011
I’ll be honest: outside of The Last Waltz, there’s not a whole lot I know about The Band. The influential and short-lived folk outfit certainly cast a wide net on a particular musical culture, but it’s not one that’s ensnared your catalogue correspondent just yet.
But I am bizarrely intrigued at Three of a Kind, a new release from former Band mate Levon Helm available on his Web site. From the looks of it, this set is a straight, three-for-one reissue of the group’s first three Capitol LPs, Music from Big Pink, The Band and Stage Fright. That’s it. Nothing else.
Now this isn’t a terrible idea – heaven knows we’ve all bought no-frills packages that collect multiple albums by our favorite artists in one spot. But previous editions of these albums – notably, remasters from 2000 – had heaps of bonus tracks, none of which appear here. It’s also pretty surprising that Capitol would license these albums from their vaults for an admittedly simple release such as this, rather than put it out directly under their own banner. Was Helm trying to snipe Robbie Robertson or something?
The former lead singer of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes was in rare form in this show recorded at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in early 1982. The soul serenader had already racked up five consecutive platinum records between 1975 and 1980 – one with Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and four on his own – and had recently enjoyed his latest Top 5 R&B hit, “You’re My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration.” Tragically, weeks after the performance closed with a fine version of “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand),” Pendergrass would be severely injured in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life.
Though Pendergrass passed away just over a year ago, his music lives on, and Shout! Factory’s DVD – featuring a few bonus performances in addition to the nine-song set – is proof of his soulful gift.
There’s no pre-order link just yet, but the set list is after the jump. The street date is March 29.
Although nobody knows if The Rolling Stones have any plans on touring this year, their music is still ripe for catalogue projects. Two years ago it was the deluxe version of Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! Last year it was the Exile on Main St. deluxe reissue and some collectible vinyl boxes. And this year it will be a sizable 45-disc box set chronicling all of their singles from 1971 to the present.
Following in the tradition of a few ABKCO CD singles boxes (covering the band’s early material), UMe will release CD Singles 1971-2006 on April 11, collecting all the A and B-sides from the band’s various vinyl and CD singles from Sticky Fingers (the first album fully controlled by the band) to A Bigger Bang. All of the sleeves and labels are reproduced (as all good singles boxes should do), and some 80 rare or unreleased-to-CD tracks will be included, from non-LP tracks to remixes and live tracks.
The box will include a hardcover book featuring liner notes by journalist Paul Sexton and a new interview with former Stones bassist/band archivist Bill Wyman. The set is said to be a limited, numbered edition, although digital downloads will be available, as will a special Record Store Day commemorative single, reproducing the original “Brown Sugar” 45.
As we fast approach April 16 – this year’s Record Store Day, the music geek’s Christmas – we’re starting to see more vinyl reissues happening in independent stores especially for the occasion. Two of the most recent ones take us back to the rock and roll sound of the 1990s, from traditional grunge to spacier, experimental styles.
Twenty years ago, Matthew “Slim” Moon formed a record label in Olympia, Washington, with the intention of putting out eclectic records, from spoken word to punk. That label, Kill Rock Stars, is still going strong to this day, having attracted indie artists from Sleater-Kinney to The Decemberists. And for Record Store Day, the band is reissuing its first major release, a compilation also called Kill Rock Stars. Featuring tracks by Nirvana, Bikini Kill and The Melvins, this set will be limited to 2,000 vinyl copies in silkscreened, hand-numbered sleeves.
Not long after the grunge explosion, another interesting rock movement began: the rise of The Flaming Lips. The Oklahoma-based band, known for its densely-arranged, occasionally catchy tunes and theatrical live shows, continues to stay strong – this year, they’re documenting their entire creative process, during which they will release a handful of songs each month – and longtime label Warner Bros. is set to honor their legacy for Record Store Day as well. Heady Nuggs: The First Five Warner Bros. Records 1992-2002 collects the band’s first five major-label releases (Hit to Death in the Future Head (1992), Transmissions from the Satellite Heart (1993), Clouds Taste Metallic (1995), The Soft Bulletin (1999) and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)) on 140-gram vinyl. (The band’s official Web store will also offer, in limited quantities, a version of the set on five different colors of vinyl.)
Have a look at the track lists after the jump.
The next wave kicks off with a tribute to recently-deceased Motown luminary Teena Marie on February 15; the rest of the titles are set for a March 1 release. They run the gamut from country (Loretta Lynn, Billy Ray Cyrus) to soul/funk (The Four Tops, Kool & The Gang, The Gap Band) and some rock-oriented surprises (Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, joke-rockers The Bloodhound Gang).
Are there many surprises? Not really, although the presence of a double-disc Icon set for War is apparently the prelude to a catalogue expansion for the funk outfit. Amazon’s product description corroborates this notion with the mention of more War reissues coming this year and the next.
All the track lists can be viewed after the jump, with links to all of the sets on Amazon therein. Read the rest of this entry »
Don’t move those Bear Family boxes over quite yet, Dean Martin fans. Between 1997 and 2001, the German label issued four remarkable boxes collecting virtually every note ever recorded by Dean Martin not only for Capitol and Reprise (his two most famous label associations) but for Diamond, Embassy, Apollo, Warner Bros. and MCA. So what could a new box offer to collectors and fans?
On June 7, Hip-o will release a two-CD box set dedicated to the perennially cool singer and swinger in a hardcover photo album format. Cool Then, Cool Now is the latest Martin title to be released under the licensing agreement between Martin’s estate and Universal Music Group, parent of the Hip-o label. As original Reprise owner Frank Sinatra believed that artists should own their masters, the estate now controls his pal Martin’s Reprise material. (This marks the second major Martin project of 2011; see The Second Disc’s review of the first one, The Very Best of the Rat Pack!) While the title of Cool Then, Cool Now is undoubtedly accurate, the box doesn’t break much new ground on the musical side. (A true career retrospective box with material from each label and era would be essential for those Martin fans looking for more than single-disc compilations but less than 30 discs from Bear Family! How a three- or four-CD treatment in that vein has eluded Martin this long is a mystery.)
Only 28 songs are spread over the two discs of Cool Then, Cool Now, the majority of which could fit on one CD alone. It’s to Hip-o’s credit that a handful of sides have been licensed from Capitol, meaning that “Memories Are Made of These,” That’s Amore” and “Volare” are all present along with Martin’s well-known Reprise hits. Of the tracks that originally appeared on Capitol, two are “duets” from Capitol’s posthumous Forever Cool, released in 2007. Reappearing here are Kevin Spacey’s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” with the actor in his best Bobby Darin mode, and Robbie Williams’ “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.” Only one true rarity is present, the 1985 MCA single “L.A. Is My Home.” As this track has only otherwise seen CD release as part of Bear Family’s massive Lay Some Happiness on Me box, it’s particularly nice to see it included. None of Martin’s other late-career singles, including its B-side “Drinking Champagne,” make an appearance. While more lesser-known tracks would have been appreciated by collectors, the line-up, while skimpy, is well-considered and should appeal to casual fans. (In fairness, much of Martin’s album LP catalogue is now unavailable, with Collectors’ Choice’s Reprise reissue series now out-of-print, and its Capitol series disappearing quickly.) Besides the big hits, the box includes Dino’s laid-back versions of songs better-associated with other artists: “Mambo Italiano” (Rosemary Clooney), “C’est Si Bon” (Eartha Kitt) and “King of the Road” (Roger Miller) among them. What else does Cool Then, Cool Now offer? Hit the jump for an answer, plus the complete track listing with discographical details. Read the rest of this entry »