Archive for July 2011
Here at Second Disc HQ, it’s safe to say that catalogue music is still very much alive.
After a week in which very little news was up for reporting, this week was a smorgasbord of box sets and vault titles. Add to that some really well-placed links to some of our posts, and we broke our all-time traffic record on Tuesday, followed by our second and third-highest traffic days on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s clear to Joe and myself that The Second Disc must be doing something right in terms of not only covering the catalogue scene but spurring a discussion on how it works and what we’d like to see from it.
For any of you new readers who might have come in from our aforementioned links, I’m so glad to have you here. Do feel free to chime in on anything! We have a suggestion box on the right-hand side of the page, as well as links to our main features: Reissue Theory (we imagine reissues of classic albums), Back Tracks (an artist’s discography as seen through reissues, box sets and compilations), Friday Feature (our semi-recurring spotlight on a film soundtrack) and Greater Hits (our newest feature, comparing different hits compilations by the same artist). In addition, The Second Disc is on Facebook and Twitter, and Joe and myself are also delivering thoughts in 140 characters.
Now, before we prep for another week of awesome catalogue news and views, I thought it would be fun – with the sheer amount of mega box sets announced this week alone – to poll you, the reader, on which one you’re most excited for. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to vote!
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. On the 30th anniversary of the first album by one of Prince’s most notable associated acts, we picture a release that’s never happened: a career-spanning compilation for The Time.
Thirty years ago, a major musical milestone occurred: Prince started transforming from a freaky, funk-rock gem of the Minneapolis music scene into an all-consuming musical entity. The conduit through which Prince started splitting his atoms was The Time, a solid, seven-piece funk outfit whose self-titled debut album, produced by Prince, was released on this day in 1981.
Prince has had plenty of run-ins with protegees and other artists who’ve used his talents for hit-making gold. But the first and arguably best was The Time. While they may have sounded like Prince’s demos on record, the group made their work their own, with a trademark swagger, idiosyncratic style and rock-solid live performances that resonated far beyond the group’s appearance in Purple Rain.
Adjust your watches (yeeeeeessss!) and meet us at the jump in 16 for a brief history of The Time, and a discussion of a musical product that’s long eluded them: a greatest hits package.
Following collections devoted to Foreigner, Christopher Cross, Otis Redding and Yes, the U.K.’s Music Club Deluxe label (a member of the Demon Music Group family) continues its exploration of the Warner Music Group catalogue with new compilations focusing on the long, diverse careers of Dionne Warwick and Chicago. Either of these esteemed acts would be solid candidates for our Greater Hits feature, in which we compare an artist’s “greatest hits” output. Both certainly have been the subjects of countless compilations over the years. Music Club’s The Essential Dionne Warwick and Chicago – The Ultimate Collection are both due in U.K. stores on September 5, and while they may not be the finest introductions to these legendary artists, nor are they to be completely dismissed.
The Essential Dionne Warwick is unique in that it includes ten songs (nearly a quarter of the total material) from Warwick’s Warner Bros. Records period between 1972 and 1978. Warwick entered the Warner Bros. family with high hopes. She had just completed a nearly unprecedented seven-year streak as the hitmaking queen of Scepter Records, one-third of the “triangle marriage” with producers and songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David. (Many of the team’s Scepter hits are present on the new set, which begins with a 1-2-3 punch of “Walk On By,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” and “Alfie.”) On the advice of astrologer-to-the-stars Linda Goodman, Dionne became Warwicke, adding an “e” to the end of her surname, and signed a deal with the Burbank label that was reported to be the biggest ever for a female recording artist. Bacharach and David were also signed to continue working with Dionne and the result was 1972’s Dionne, a low-key, soulful record that went largely unnoticed on its release. The Essential includes that album’s “Hasbrook Heights,” written by Bacharach and David but arranged and conducted by jazz great Bob James. Not only did the LP fail to make an impression, but things quickly turned sour for the team whose sound had helped define an era of popular music. Bacharach and David fell out after the failure of their film musical Lost Horizon, and lawsuits flew. Warwick remained at Warner Bros., working with a succession of producers. From the 1973 Holland/Dozier/Holland effort Just Being Myself comes “I Think You Need Love” and the title song. Four tracks are drawn from 1974’s Jerry Ragovoy-helmed Then Came You, including its title cut which was, of course, produced and arranged by Philadelphia’s Thom Bell. Bell took the reins for the entirety of 1975’s Track of the Cat, three delicious songs from which are included here. Only the 1977 Steve Barri/Michael Omartian production Love at First Sight is ignored, which is too bad; the album has some fine performances including “Early Morning Strangers,” written by Hal David and Barry Manilow!
While the golden Scepter period makes up the lion’s share of the 2 CDs, the Arista period is only represented by two songs, both of which were licensed by Music Club from Sony: “Heartbreaker” and “All the Love in the World,” both written and produced by the Brothers Gibb for the album Heartbreaker. That means that “I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” “Déjà vu,” “That’s What Friends Are For,” “No Night So Long,” and Warwick’s other late-period hits are missing entirely. (Warwick’s Arista tenure has already been compiled by Music Club on another 2-disc set, All in the Love in the World, MCDLX044. The non-chronologically-sequenced set does, however, include some buried treasures from Scepter as well as the Warner Bros. years. While those rarely-heard Warner cuts may make this an attractive set for Warwick fans who don’t own those individual albums, the often-overlooked Scepter material is also choice, gems like “Odds and Ends,” “Who Is Gonna Love Me,” “Any Old Time of Day” and “Let Me Go to Him.”
Hit the jump and we’ll take you back to Chicago! Read the rest of this entry »
Another reissue in ZTT/Salvo’s ongoing Element Series has been announced: the first full-length by The Art of Noise.
Earlier this year, ZTT expanded the group’s debut EP, Into Battle with The Art of Noise, adding a host of vault content meant for their first album but ultimately scrapped. This album – featuring contributions by all five of the original Art of Noise collective (Trevor Horn, Paul Morley, Anne Dudley, Gary Langan and J.J. Jeczalik) – reprises “Beat Box” and “Moments in Love” from that EP, as well as “Close (to the Edit),” one of the best dance tracks based on a Yes song.
As for bonus content, there’s much to offer in terms of audio and video: nine tracks taken from two BBC sessions recorded in 1984 and 1985 (including a version of “Beat Box” “which morphs, only this once, into ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’”) and a DVD of rare videos, unreleased live performances and a two-part documentary. (Unfortunately, Amazon’s U.K. pre-order page states that the DVD is PAL-encoded, making it hard to play if you’re in the U.S.).
One year before “Da Doo Ron Ron,” eleven before “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” and eighteen before “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da,” Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield taught the world that “Breakin’ Up is Hard to Do” with their immortal wordless refrain. Sedaka went on to become the king of the “Tra-la-las” and “shoo-be-doos” with his early rock-and-roll records, and the Juilliard-trained musician was one of the relatively rare few rockers of his generation equally adept at both performing and songwriting. As active members of Don Kirshner’s Aldon Music stable (which could also claim Carole King and Gerry Goffin as well as Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil!), Sedaka and his frequent lyricist Howard Greenfield turned out one tune after another for a great number of famous artists. Following in the footsteps of its compilations devoted to other Brill Building greats like Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Goffin and King and Mann and Weil, Ace devotes the latest installment of its Songwriters and Producers series to the team of Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. Where the Boys Are will be available on September 6 in the U.K. and features 25 tracks, 17 of which were written by the team and a further eight penned by one member with an outside collaborator.
Where the Boys Are spans a remarkably prolific 15-year period from 1956 until 1971, at which time Sedaka began in earnest to rekindle his solo career. (1974’s Sedaka’s Back sealed the deal.) His last hit in the U.S. had come in 1965, and he’d tried to make it over the next few years almost exclusively as a songwriter in an era when the Brill Building was waning and singer/songwriters were becoming the norm. (It was lost on many that Sedaka had been writing his own material since he was a teenager.) He had a great amount of success even after RCA Victor dumped his recording contract in 1966, and his songs, with and without Greenfield, were recorded by The Monkees, The 5th Dimension, The Cyrkle, Frankie Valli and more. Ace’s, well, ace producers Mick Patrick and Tony Rounce tell that story from its very beginning.
Hit the jump for a look into the Brill Building hits of Sedaka and Greenfield! Read the rest of this entry »
Was the insanely large Europe ’72 box set from The Grateful Dead (which should be making its way to fans pretty soon) too much for you? Rhino’s breaking off a little piece for you in the form of Europe ’72 Volume 2, a double-disc set compiled from those 22 legendary shows.
This sequel to the original triple-LP has 20 remastered performances from those wild shows on two discs, mixed from the original 16-track recordings by Dead archival mixer Jeffrey Norman and mastered by David Glasser to HDCD specifications. Even the cover art is a throwback, prominently featuring that Truckin’ fool from the original album’s back cover in a new piece done by Stanley Mouse, one half of the duo that created the original sleeve nearly 40 years ago.
The new set is out September 20. Check out the full press release and track list after the jump, Deadheads!
Twenty-six years ago, Sting firmly established himself as a solo artist away from The Police with the jazzy The Dream of the Blue Turtles. Yesterday, Universal announced the first-ever career-spanning box set for the iconic singer, entitled 25 Years. Okay, so music geeks aren’t good at math.
But what Universal did do a pretty decent job at was chronicling Sting’s greatest moments over a wildly varied career – one that plumbed personal depths for great artistic effect in the late ’80s and early ’90s with …Nothing Like the Sun and The Soul Cages, weathered interesting pop transitions in Ten Summoner’s Tales and Mercury Falling and made an incredible comeback with Brand New Day at the end of the century.
The set is sadly short on archival material – there are literally dozens of Sting B-sides that still remain ripe for the picking – but the set will include nine newly-remixed tracks (as yet unspecified) by engineers Robert Orton and Steve Fitzmaurice (mixers of Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” and Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose,” respectively) as well as a DVD recorded from an intimate show on Sting’s Broken Music Tour in 2005.
And of course, the whole thing is housed in a nice box set with rare photos, lyrics and a new introductory essay by Sting himself.
25 Years is available on September 27, and the full track list is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »