Archive for June 18th, 2012
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, They Might Be Giants earned a sterling reputation as one of the quirkiest bands around, creating hook-filled pop garnished with out-there lyrics and intricate, often unexpected arrangements. But as time goes on, how does one extend their musical legacy beyond the loyal fan base?
John Linnell and John Flansburgh figured out a most intriguing way of doing so ten years ago this month: they released No!, an album of original songs written with children in mind. (The album sleeve described it as their first “for the whole family.”) Known primarily at the time for almost uncomfortably off-kilter subject material in their tunes, No! – with tracks like “Robot Parade,” “Where Do They Make Balloons?” and “Clap Your Hands” – was fun for all. It was also a huge success, topping Billboard‘s Kid Album chart and setting the stage for another three children’s albums produced in conjunction with Walt Disney Records throughout the next decade.
On June 25, TMBG will digitally expand No! for its 10th anniversary, featuring no less than seven bonus tracks. There’s a new extended version of “Alphabet of Nations,” the original version of which featured on the band’s second kid’s album, Here Come the ABCs (2005), and six tracks taken from Almanac, a long out-of-print digital live album chronicling the band’s Spine on the Hiway Tour in 2004.
In the past decade, Slipknot were one of the most iconic and unforgettable faces of alternative metal in America. Next month, they will celebrate their tenure with the release of their first greatest hits compilation.
Though Antennas to Hell doesn’t contain any new tracks – the band has allegedly put together only tentative recordings since the death of founding bassist Paul Gray in 2010 – it will showcase 19 of the band’s “fan favorites, live classics and well-known radio hits,” including “Wait and Bleed,” “Duality,” “Before I Forget” and more. A deluxe edition of the album will also include a bonus CD of (sic)nesses, a portion of the band’s headlining set at England’s Download Festival in 2009. (In 2010, this concert was released on DVD.)
Antennas to Hell serves as the perfect teaser for the band’s summer concert activities, notably a headlining slot on the Mayhem Festival tour and Knotfest, the band’s first-ever music festival, a two-day outing to be held in August in the band’s native Iowa and Wisconsin. Knotfest will feature musical appearances by Serj Tankian of System of a Down, Deftones, Lamb of God and others, as well as an assortment of “dark carnival” attractions.
The set is due out July 24; an Amazon link has not gone live yet. Hit the jump to check out the track list.
The band’s name is Everything But The Girl, but the reissue campaign might as well be titled Everything But the Kitchen Sink. Over the course of four 2-CD sets, the Edsel label has crafted a comprehensive, definitive retrospective of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt’s early years as merchants of cool, sophisticated and literate pop. EBTG’s first four albums, originally released on the Blanco Y Negro label, have each been granted the deluxe treatment with an additional disc of non-LP singles, B-sides, demos and live performances. Best of all, each album is housed classy packaging befitting the stylish sounds within.
Having met while students at Hull University, Thorn and Watt first collaborated in 1982 on a reinterpretation of Cole Porter’s “Night and Day,” not the most common choice of repertoire in the early days of that decade. It’s absent from these new reissues, but it was an auspicious start, and the choice of a jazz standard anticipated subsequent projects. Watt and Thorn pursued separate, solo paths immediately after, but soon reunited for a cover of The Jam’s “English Rose” before crafting their own full-length debut. 1984’s Eden is the first of the four titles just reissued by Edsel (EDSK 7004). All four albums have very different stylistic signatures from one another, but all draw clearly on musical influences without ever being strictly derivative.
Sadness permeates Eden, with each track written by Thorn and Watt, either collectively or individually. Thorn took the role of primary lead vocalist, with Watt handling guitars and organ. Their songs here are tautly crafted; only five out of twelve tracks surpass the 3-minute mark. And although overt melodic hooks aren’t emphasized, the songs still captivate with airy, often Brazilian-influenced arrangements. Eden flirts with jazz, the kind of album Creed Taylor might have produced for Astrud Gilberto in 1984. The breezy, trumpet-flecked bossa nova of the opening track, “Each and Everyone,” is just the first evocation of steamy Latin evenings. “Even So” (replete with castanets!) is another perfect, moody piece, as is “I Must Confess,” with its dash of “The Girl from Ipanema” courtesy of the slinky tenor sax of Nigel Nash. The melancholy in the lyrics is brought out by the ironic contrast of the bossa nova settings.
Though nothing’s easy about the listening, Eden is ideal late night music suitable for listening with a cocktail in hand. Tracey Thorn’s vocals are smoky, while vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Watt glides above her with a harmony on “Bittersweet.” Its bed of percussion and subtle guitar accent a stark, if conversational, sadness: “Being pushed about is nothing much to shout about, I know…” Watt offers haunting vocal on “Soft Touch” and a jazzier, low-key lead on “Tender Blue,” which he shares with Tracey. This dark story song is arranged with an evocative horn hovering in comment, eventually taking a mournful solo.
The album is far from monotonous, however. “Another Bridge” tells its story of love lost in a guitar-pop idiom, with a groovy electric organ underpinning its lyric (“You can’t hold onto everything/And I’ve forgotten what we talked about a long time since/Can’t recall days with regret/Tomorrow remember today/And all the rest forget”). And a sleek, saxophone-driven instrumental “Crabwalk” brings yet another dimension to Eden.
The deluxe edition is bolstered with no fewer than eight associated singles including the up-tempo “Laugh You Out the House,” and “Never Could Have Been Worse” another dark vignette of a painful relationship. Johnny Marr plays the wailing harmonica on “Native Land,” the closest cut here to a mainstream rock track, while “Don’t You Go” is a John Martyn cover. In addition to the singles, you’ll find five vocal-and-guitar demos and four BBC session recordings for a total of seventeen bonus tracks. Of the demos, “Frost and Fire” is raw in its acoustic setting; of the BBC cuts, “Another Bridge” is a bit tougher in its live rendition.
As was the norm decades earlier with U.K. pop acts from The Beatles to Dusty Springfield, EBTG’s recordings were reshuffled for American release. Eden was not released in America; in its place came a self-titled set with six tracks from Eden and the remaining six drawn from non-LP singles. Thankfully, all of those tracks long familiar to U.S. listeners are included among the bonus material here. After the jump, we look at the remaining three reissues! Read the rest of this entry »
The past few years has seen a flurry of catalogue activity from iconic U.K. label Zang Tuum Tumb. The ongoing Element Series, distributed by England’s Salvo Music imprint, has seen artists from 808 State and Propaganda to Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Art of Noise expanded and remastered in lavish double-disc packages.
This summer, ZTT adds to the Element Series a compilation of rarities from the short but intricate discography of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The quartet’s “Relax” was one of the label’s biggest international successes, and England embraced their highly sexualized brand of dance-rock, taking “Relax,” “Two Tribes” and “The Power of Love,” the band’s first three singles, to No. 1 on the charts. (Subsequent singles “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” and “Rage Hard” were Top 5 hits.)
On the typically idiosyncratic Sexmix double-disc compilation cooked up in the ZTT vaults, some of Frankie’s rarest remixes are put on CD for the first time. The compilation primarily draws from cassette single programs, which often differed greatly from 7″ and 12″ track listings. The original U.K. “singlette” editions of all four singles from debut LP Welcome to the Pleasuredome (1984) can be found on Sexmix, along with CD single versions of “Rage Hard” and “Warriors of the Wasteland” from the band’s second and final LP Liverpool (1987). Rare versions of “Relax,” “The World is My Oyster” and “Watching the Wildlife” round out the set, along with a rare cover of Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” which was first released in 2009 as a digital bonus track from the Frankie Say Greatest hits compilation.
August 6 is this set’s release date in the U.K., an Amazon placeholder page exists here. Hide yourself after the jump for the track list.
Hey, we’ve said it a million times, but let’s say it again: The Second Disc has some of the best readers out there. The idea that so many of you like catalogue music as much as Joe and I do, and the idea that so many of you come back to read our news and musings, day in and day out…well, it just makes me feel good.
And we’ve done a solid job (we hope!) of reaching out to every fan old and new across the Internet, be it Facebook or Twitter or even in the comments section of the site. As I type this, we are two likes away from 500 fans of The Second Disc on Facebook. That’s pretty awesome – I don’t even know if I know 500 people.
But Joe and I know there are more fans out there, who might be looking for the perfect catalogue music hangout. And we want to find you. And we know just the thing that might get you out of hiding:
That’s right, we have a copy of Paul Simon’s Graceland 25th anniversary box set from Legacy Recordings – the one with the album, the bonus disc of demos and outtakes and two DVDs (the Under African Skies documentary and a live show from the Graceland tour) – and we’re going to give it to the 1,000th person who likes us on Facebook. Call it pandering to our audience if you want, but we really, really like you guys, and this is the least we could do to show our appreciation.
So it’s simple: head to our page as linked in the last two paragraphs and click “like.” We’ll be able to tell who liked us when, and when we get to 1,000, we’ll call out the winner. And if you do like us for the prize, we do hope you stick around, because there are some really cool things ahead for The Second Disc!
As always, keep listening…