Archive for June 11th, 2012
Freak Out! Zappa Family Trust Strikes Deal For Reissue Of 60 Albums From Universal, Roll-Out Begins In July
The numbers and dates may have changed, but we can now finally confirm the news that has long been circulating, both here and elsewhere, that Frank Zappa’s catalogue is headed to Universal Music Enterprises (UMe). According to the Zappa Family Trust’s press release, a global license and distribution deal will see the reissue of 60 Zappa albums, beginning with a group of 12 (not 18, as previously believed) that will roll out on July 31.
Throughout a long career that produced more than 60 albums during his lifetime, Frank Zappa frequently clashed with the music industry’s major labels. As recently as last year, the late musician’s estate was embroiled in a legal battle with Rykodisc, a unit of Warner Music Group. The irony had not been lost on Zappa fans when Warner acquired Ryko in 2006. After all, Warner was the label from which Zappa acrimoniously split in the late 1970s. But Ryko, one of the first-ever CD-only independent labels, had been the distributor of Zappa’s massive catalogue since 1986 and the label behind a comprehensive reissue campaign that began in 1995.
Today, the once-painstakingly-curated Zappa catalogue is in a bit of shambles, with many titles no longer readily available and fetching high prices on the secondhand market. Others have been released by the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) in comprehensive, bonus-packed editions under new titles such as The MOFO Project/Object for Freak Out! and Lumpy Money for Lumpy Gravy and We’re Only In It For The Money . These deluxe “audio documentaries” restored original mixes not present on the previous, standardized CDs, and premiered unreleased material. The ZFT has also issued more rarities from the vault including a memorable 1971 live stand at Carnegie Hall and a lost Captain Beefheart album produced by Zappa. Though Rykodisc prevailed over the ZFT in many aspects of a United States District Court – Southern District of New York order dated August, 2011, the ZFT can apparently now claim full ownership of the artist’s works.
As of June 11, 2012, it has been confirmed that Universal, or UMe, will take over the release of Zappa material. Twelve albums will arrive on July 31, with “another dozen recordings to be released monthly through the end of 2012.” This initial batch contains all of Zappa’s 1960s albums with and without The Mothers of Invention, and represents every one of Zappa’s albums between 1966 and 1971, save the early compilation Mothermania and the film soundtrack to 200 Motels. The deal between the ZFT and UMe is for the entire Frank Zappa catalogue as it appeared on Zappa’s own Barking Pumpkin Records label. The press release indicates that “many of the original analog masters have been remastered for this occasion. Yes, that’s right, you heard right.”
Hit the jump for more details! Read the rest of this entry »
What does it sound like when one of Motown’s most famous lead singers of the ’60s does the unthinkable and amicably parts from his group? For the first time on CD, fans are about to find out, with the release of The Miracles’ Renaissance and Do It Baby albums on the Hip-O Select label this month.
Longtime Miracles frontman and legendary singer Smokey Robinson had a hankering to walk away from his group for awhile, not due to infighting but his own multitude of commitments. His wife and bandmate, Claudette Rogers, had been off the road since 1964 (but continued to sing with the group) and the pair had been trying to start a family. Robinson also earned a second job as vice-president for his beloved label, and wanted to take a more behind-the-scenes role in the industry. Plans to retire from the group in the late ’60s were briefly jettisoned with the surprise success of “The Tears of a Clown,” but in 1972, after a lengthy farewell tour and a public transition to his successor, Billy Griffin, Robinson was out of the spotlight. (Robinson would, of course, begin recording solo within a few years; those works have been steadily compiled by Hip-O Select over the past year.)
The Miracles, now consisting of Griffin, Ronnie White, Warren “Pete” Moore, Bobby Rogers and Marv Tarplin (who would later depart to work with Smokey, and would be replaced by Griffin’s brother Donald), were guided by the executive producer credit of their former frontman, not to mention an embarrassment of hidden treasures from some of Motown’s best songwriters. Diana’s brother Arthur Ross and Leon Ware contribute “What Good is a Heart For,” Willie Hutch lends his pen to “I Wanna Be with You” and album closer “I Didn’t Know the Show Was Over” and the smoldering “I Love You Secretly” was written by Marvin Gaye, then-wife Anna Gordy-Gaye and Elgie Stover in the middle of the Let’s Get It On. (The Miracles’ recording was one of a few tracks from this LP available on CD, thanks to Let’s Get It On‘s deluxe edition.)
But without a heavily promoted lead single, Renaissance was a commercial failure despite high critical marks. Follow-up Do It Baby, with its sexual come-on of a lead single, fared far better. The title track peaked at No. 13 (the band’s most successful post-Smokey single until the No. 1 smash “Love Machine,” from 1976′s City of Angels), and the LP featured several songs previously recorded by The Jackson 5 (“Up Again,” “Can’t Get Ready for Losing You”). The Do It Baby album also lends itself to the sole bonus track on this two-fer reissue: a new, throwback remix of that title track by legendary disco mixer Tom Moulton.
This disc is now shipping online, with an in-store date of June 26, and it’s yours to order after the jump.
When The Second Disc started two years ago, it didn’t take long to realize that catalogue soundtrack coverage was going to be well met on the site. Joe and I love the power and beauty of film music, and admire the work of those awesome individuals who are preserving it on disc for future generations.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of my all-time favorite film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, a film with a powerful soundtrack if ever there was one. Recounting the tale of the music of E.T. is one of my favorite tales in all of music, so today I share with you this flashback Friday Feature from July 9, 2010 on the film and its Oscar-winning score. I hope you enjoy it!
The Second Disc is obviously all about those defining musical moments in our lives. Thus, on a day like today, it’s only natural to touch on what may be the most defining musical moment for your catalogue correspondent.
You see, today’s my birthday, and so I feel it appropriate to reflect on the music that got me into music in the first place, and by extension got me into catalogue pursuits. I’m referring to John Williams’ Oscar-winning score to Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (also my favorite film of all time). Arguably the apex of both creative talents (and the high point of Spielberg and Williams’ near 40 years of collaboration), the tale of a boy’s friendship with an abandoned space creature was augmented by a lush, soaring, string-heavy score, bolstered by that oft-imitated but never surpassed main theme.
One could go on forever about the merits of the E.T. soundtrack, but this one tale defines it all: the 15-minute finale of the film was scored as one continuous sequence, almost a mini-opera in and of itself. Williams wrote each cue and highlight to exactly fit the parameters of the picture, but could never attain total satisfaction with the tempo and tone of each take. Ultimately, Spielberg came up with an idea rare to film soundtracks: the director would not project the film as the composer led the orchestra, so Williams could lead as one would in a concert. Then, in an incredible display of trust, Spielberg had the finale re-edited to fit the score itself.
Unsurprisingly, the music of E.T. has a release history as interesting as the sound itself. Read on after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
The term “sophisti-pop” may not be used much in rock criticism nowadays, but when they were, it was easy to acknowledge Swing Out Sister as a key artist of the movement. The Manchester-bred band stood head and shoulders above many of their keyboard-oriented contemporaries in mid-’80s England for mixing jazzy horn sections and lush synth-strings into their upbeat, snappy tunes. And this summer, the band’s original label, Mercury Records, is commemorating the band’s quarter-century mark with an expansion of their lauded debut LP, It’s Better to Travel.
Swing Out Sister, then a trio consisting of singer Corrine Drewery, keyboardist Andy Connell and drummer Martin Jackson, recorded It’s Better to Travel with producer Paul Staveley O’Duffy, crafting an immaculate batch of songs that included U.K. hits “Twilight World” and “Surrender” (the latter a Top 10 hit in the group’s native land), not to mention the international smash “Breakout.” The infectious, danceable tune went to No. 4 in the U.K. and No. 6 in America, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. (The trio earned another nomination that same year for Best New Artist.)
Though Jackson would depart the group during the making of sophomore album Kaleidoscope World in 1989, Swing Out Sister continue on as a duo; their most recent release, 2008′s Beautiful Mess, topped Billboard‘s Jazz chart. And It’s Better to Travel is further immortalized with a double-disc deluxe edition that features 11 bonus tracks, including non-LP B-sides, all the remixes from original CD pressings and more. While some SOS fans have taken the expanded set’s track listing to task, namely our pals at Super Deluxe Edition (which ultimately earned a response from Connell), the final word on the set’s worth, as always, sits with you, the consumer – and you can make your voice heard when the set hits U.K. shops on July 2.
Full specs are after the jump!
It’s Better to Travel: 25th Anniversary Expanded Edition (Mercury 5338878 (U.K.), 2012)
Disc 1: Original LP and bonus tracks
- Twilight World (Superb Superb Mix)
- After Hours
- Blue Mood
- Fooled by a Smile
- It’s Not Enough
- Theme (from “It’s Better to Travel”)
- Another Lost Weekend (Long Version)
- Blue Mood (12″ Version)
Disc 2: More bonus material
- Breakout (NAD Mix)
- Surrender (Stuff Gun Mix)
- Communion (Instrumental)
- Twilight World (Gas Distress Mix)
- Fooled by a Smile (12″ Mix)
- Dirty Money
- Who’s to Blame
- Wake Me When It’s Over
Disc 1, Tracks 1-9 released as Mercury LP OUTLP1, 1987
Disc 1, Track 10 from Another Non-Stop Sister (Mercury PPD-1031 (JP), 1986)
Disc 1, Track 11 from Mercury 12″ single MERXR207, 1985
Disc 2, Tracks 1 and 6 from Mercury 12″ single SWING 212, 1986
Disc 2, Tracks 2 and 8 from Mercury 12″ single SWING 312, 1986
Disc 2, Track 3 from Mercury 12″ single 870 242-1, 1987
Disc 2, Track 4 from original CD pressings – Mercury 832 213-2, 1986
Disc 2, Tracks 5 and 7 from Mercury 12″ single SWING 512, 1987
Disc 2, Track 9 from Mercury 12″ single MERX207, 1985
Scoring a major motion picture…writing a Broadway musical…recording a jazz piano album…conducting a classical symphony. Any of the above might be all in a night’s work for André Previn, a four-time Academy Award winner and ten-time Grammy recipient. And now Previn’s score for the 1962 film All in a Night’s Work is getting its first-ever soundtrack release courtesy of the Kritzerland label!
The Dean Martin/Shirley MacLaine comedy followed Previn’s triumphant, Oscar-nominated score for 1960’s Elmer Gantry (also reissued on Kritzerland) but the frothy romance was, naturally, quite a different assignment! Martin and MacLaine had appeared together in Vincente Minnelli’s Some Came Running (1958) and also in director Joseph Anthony’s Career (1959). Anthony was back behind the camera for All in a Night’s Work, with the screenplay provided by Sidney Sheldon (I Dream of Jeannie), Maurice Richlin (Pillow Talk, The Pink Panther) and Edmund Beloin (The Sad Sack). Paramount called on an array of notables for the supporting cast, as well, including Cliff Robertson, Jack Weston, Charlie Ruggles, Norma Crane, and Lucille Ball’s perennial foil, Gale Gordon.
According to reissue producer Bruce Kimmel’s notes, “The plot kicks off in high style when a mysterious woman is seen running from a ritzy Palm Beach hotel room, wearing only a bath towel and not a very large one at that. Since the hotel room’s guest, a New York publishing baron, is found dead in bed, the question is: who was that lady and was that lady his mistress? Complications, misunderstandings, mink coats, fancy nightclubs, and, of course, love and a happy ending, and all in glorious Technicolor, set to the romantic, propulsive, and phenomenal music of André Previn.”
Previn was already well-known around Hollywood. In 1939, his family moved from Germany to California, where his great-uncle Charles Previn was already ensconced as music director at Universal Studios. The young, budding musician attended Beverly Hills High School with another future Oscar winning composer, Richard M. Sherman, with both men graduating in 1946. Within just a few years, Previn was working regularly as a jazz pianist while composing and arranging for the dream factory at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and elsewhere. Hollywood would keep him gainfully employed, netting him both Oscars and accolades; he wrote such famous songs as “You’re Gonna Hear from Me” and “(Theme From) Valley of the Dolls” for motion pictures. But Previn had his sights set on a broader canvas and retired from Hollywood by the mid-1970s. He had already branched out to Broadway and London with the stage musicals Coco and The Good Companions, respectively, and took on prestigious assignments conducting The Houston Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra just to name two of his accomplishments as music director. He also began to compose operas and orchestral works, and was recognized by the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 for his contributions to classical music and opera.
Hit the jump for more on André Previn and All in a Night’s Work including the full track listing and ordering information! Read the rest of this entry »