Archive for the ‘a-ha’ Category
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on classic music and the reissues they may someday see. With 50 years of on-screen action and a new film in theaters, the name is Bond…James Bond, and the music is plentiful!
What else is left to say about Ian Fleming’s blunt, British secret agent James Bond? Our 007, licensed to kill, is an international icon of print and, since Sean Connery suavely stepped into Bond’s tuxedo in 1962’s Dr. No, the big screen. Today, the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall – the third to star Daniel Craig as a rougher-hewn 007 and, by nearly all accounts, one of the greatest films in the series – opens in American theaters, guaranteeing the legacy that film producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli created a half-century ago remains as shaken (not stirred) as ever.
Bond soundtrack fans have had much to enjoy in that time period. From Monty Norman and His Orchestra’s brassy, immortal main theme (punctuated by session guitarist Vic Flick’s staccato electric guitar licks), to lush scores by John Barry, Marvin Hamlisch, Bill Conti, Michael Kamen, David Arnold and Thomas Newman, to name a few, to the 23 title themes of varying quality but with boundless cultural currency, music is as vital a part of the Bond experience as martinis, girls, cars and guns. And fans have been lucky: in the 1990s, Rykodisc acquired the rights to much of the Bond soundtrack catalogue (in most cases, controlled by Capitol/EMI). In the 2000s, Capitol itself expanded and/or remastered many of those albums anew. And compilations, from 1992’s rarity-packed double-disc The Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary Collection to this year’s Bond…James Bond: 50 Years, 50 Tracks, have been plentiful as well.
But short of another, even more comprehensive pass at expanding the soundtrack albums to completion (one that seems increasingly like a pipe dream, thanks to the climate of the industry and the varying physical and financial statuses of the scores themselves), one could certainly find worth in a multi-disc box set that would provide the definitive dossier on Bond music. With that in mind, Second Disc HQ’s latest mission file is just that – and you can expect us to talk after the jump!
When Sean Connery first uttered the immortal words “Bond…James Bond” fifty years ago in the film Dr. No, the template for the long-running movie series was already set. That soon-to-be-signature phrase was joined in the film by a piece of music that would quickly rival those three words for familiarity. John Barry’s arrangement of “The James Bond Theme” not only helped cement the silver screen icon of 007 but virtually became a genre unto itself, that of spy music. The spy film craze may have hit its peak in the swinging sixties, but Ian Fleming’s immortal character of the debonair Bond has endured over some 23 “official” films (including this year’s upcoming Skyfall), plus a couple of unofficial ones. He has been portrayed by six actors in those 23 films, from Connery to Daniel Craig. Since Dr. No, James Bond and music have been closely intertwined, and the film franchise continues to attract the very best: it’s been all but confirmed that record-breaking artist Adele will mark her return to music with the recently-leaked Skyfall theme. Now, 50 years of Bond music is being compiled by Capitol Records as Best of Bond…James Bond, set for an October 9 release in both standard and deluxe editions. It joins the recent DVD/BD box set, Bond 50, which contains each and every official Bond film to date!
While similar (and similarly-titled!) compilations have arrived on a periodic basis in the CD era, the new set in its deluxe two-disc form is the most comprehensive collection of Bond-related music yet with 50 tracks. Both versions stand as a tribute to John Barry, the late composer who will forever be associated with the film series. The disc opens with his original arrangement of “The James Bond Theme.” Though credited to Monty Norman, Barry long maintained in and out of the courtroom that the composition was, in fact, his own. (The confusion stems from the fact that Barry was presented with Norman’s theme, and rearranged it in the style of his previous instrumental “Bea’s Knees,” almost wholly transforming the music along the way. He was reportedly paid under $1,000.00 for his troubles!) Barry went on to score eleven of the films between 1963’s From Russia with Love through 1987’s The Living Daylights, ceding movies along the way to George Martin, Marvin Hamlisch and Bill Conti. Since Barry’s retirement from the Bond franchise, the longest-standing composer has been David Arnold, with five films under his belt between 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies and 2008’s Quantum of Solace. (The score to Skyfall has been crafted by director Sam Mendes’ frequent collaborator Thomas Newman.) Either consciously or subconsciously, however, every composer has been influenced by the template set by John Barry. Indeed, his famous arrangement of the Norman theme has been quoted in each film’s score. Best of Bond also is a reminder of the gargantuan talents of two other contributors, both of whom passed away in 2012: Marvin Hamlisch (The Spy Who Loved Me) and Hal David (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.)
The first CD (also available as a stand-alone disc) features 23 tracks: the theme to every one of the films from 1962’s Dr. No through 2008’s Quantum of Solace, plus the “secondary” theme to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All the Time in the World.” This CD includes Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” from Casino Royale (2006), the first main Bond theme to not appear on the movie’s soundtrack album. Other highlights include the very first vocal Bond theme, Lionel Bart’s “From Russia with Love” as performed by Matt Monro; Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley and John Barry’s “Goldfinger” from the iconic Dame Shirley Bassey; Barry and Don Black’s booming “Thunderball” from Tom Jones; Paul and Linda McCartney’s Wings-performed “Live and Let Die;” Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch’s “Nobody Does It Better” (from The Spy Who Loved Me); Barry and Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill;” and Barry and Pål Waaktaar’s “The Living Daylights,” performed by Waaktaar’s band a-ha.
What’s on Disc 2? Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
Well, another New Year is in sight, the CD still isn’t dead (told you so!) and celebration is in the air at The Second Disc. Back on December 23, Mike shared The Year in Reissues both here and over with our pals at Popdose. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 bucks until you read these indispensable columns!
Are you back with me? Good. Now, I’d like to take this opportunity to take a fun look back at a few of my favorite things via Joe’s Gold Bonus Disc Awards! I’m awarding these to the reissues that have raised the bar over the past 12 months. You’ll notice a number of titles that have already been praised by Mike, as well as new entries, but overall, I’ve simply tried to recognize as many diverse, worthy releases as possible. It’s my sincere hope, though, that you’ll take a chance on a title previously unknown to you; all of the artists, producers, and labels mentioned here have kept great music alive in 2010.
Friends, as always, please share your thoughts and comments below. Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2010’s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!
Which releases take home the gold? Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »
Because the compilation released almost everywhere but the U.S. is getting expanded a bit more, as a CD/DVD edition with the first-ever compilation of the band’s videos. If you’re a big a-ha fan – and let’s face it: if you are, there’s at least a 75% chance of you getting 25 in the first place – you’ll want to wait until this version is released October 4.
And please excuse the grumbling, but catalogue fans are this close, it seems, to abandoning the purchase of reissues and box sets from U.S.-based stores, because all the interesting stuff is coming out from labels on other shores. At least stuff is getting put onto CD and DVD, but the lack of catalogue respect in the States is a bitter pill to have to swallow sometimes.
Speaking of cool a-ha stuff that you can order from the U.K., the band has begun selling the newly expanded version of their official book, The Swing of Things 1985-2010, a hard-to-find chronicle of the band in their own words and photos, now expanded to cover their full history.
The track list for 25 is here; the DVD track list is after the jump.
If there are any readers of The Second Disc from outside America, I’d like you to do us a favor. Go to iTunes or Amazon and download the bonus tracks included on the digital versions of the a-ha deluxe reissues. And enjoy them, please. Because American fans cannot.
Not long after the release of the Web-exclusive deluxe editions of Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days, a-ha’s official site announced that the digital editions of each title would include four additional bonus tracks, including some vinyl-only remixes and more unreleased demos. Graciously, the story said “Rhino.com (USA) will have both Deluxe Editions available digitally this week, complete with bonus tracks, which will be available a la carte.”
However, nearly a month after that promise, there’s been no movement. The reissues were only made available digitally this week through Rhino.com, but no bonus tracks are to be found. After inquiring with Rhino, they sent The Second Disc a message: “We hope to have these tracks available soon. Please stay tuned to www.rhino.com (and sign up for the newsletter on the front page of the site) for any developments.”
Fans of old and new music have to go through this a lot. The label will release an extra track or two with a digital version of a record as an incentive to buy the record instead of downloading. But for people willing to pay for physical copies, this is hard to deal with. The tracks are rarely able to be downloaded on their own, and no self-respecting fan would pay another $10 for one track if they’ve already bought the proper physical album for about the same price. This looks even more shortsighted on the catalogue side of things, where most fans invest in physical media entirely, and rightly feel a bit slighted if a few extra tracks are going to be available digitally. (We can see a storm brewing should the digital bonus tracks on the upcoming Apple Records reissues not be made available individually.)
We ask you, dear reader: how do you view the seemingly necessary evils that are digital bonus tracks? How would you alter their place in the music-buying process if you could?
A quick heads-up regarding the new a-ha deluxe reissues which buyers have been getting from Rhino this week: Looks like there will be some bonus download-only tracks available. But the best part is, you don’t have to spend $15-20 on the full album to get them!
I haven’t seen ‘em posted yet on either Rhino’s Web site or iTunes, but the band’s Web site has unveiled the tracks:
- The Sun Always Shines on T.V. (Steve Thompson Dance Remix) (U.S. 12″ A-side – Warner Bros. 20410-0, 1985) – 8:27
- Take on Me (Instrumental Mix) – 3:51 *
- Hunting High and Low (Slow Version Demo) – 3:47 *
- Take on Me (Long Version) (12″ A-side – Warner Bros. W9146T, 1984) – 4:46
- I’ve Been Losing You (Dub) (12″ B-side – Warner Bros. W8594T, 1986) – 4:23
- Soft Rains of April (Piano Version) – 2:23 *
- The Swing of Things (Demo #1) – 4:07 (from the bonus CD included with the book The Swing of Things)
- I’ve Been Losing You (Early Demo) – 4:11 *
* previously unreleased
And you can expect reviews of both sets by the end of the week. Trust me, though, they’re well worth it.
The a-ha reissue/compilation frenzy continues. The band’s official Web site just announced another compilation from Rhino Records, just months after last compilation The Singles 1984-2004 got a domestic release.
This new set, 25, features two discs’ worth of hits and favorite album tracks from every one of the band’s albums, including the new farewell single “Butterfly, Butterfly (The Last Hurrah).” Pretty much everything that’s on The Singles 1984-2004 (and reaching a bit further, the 1991 comp Headlines and Deadlines: The Hits of a-ha) can be found here, so if you’ve been waiting to get some sort of a-ha comp (and why have you been waiting? these guys are great), this might be the one to get. There’s also a few rare single mixes and things for collectors too. (Speaking of collectors, the site also posted a photo gallery of the packages for the soon-to-ship deluxe editions of Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days.)
The set is due out in Norway on July 19 and should hit other markets “in the coming months.” Hit the jump and take on another a-ha anthology. Read the rest of this entry »