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Archive for the ‘Box Sets’ Category

A Case of Joni: Mitchell Curates New Love-Themed, Career-Spanning Box Set

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Joni - Love Has Many FacesIn 2007, Joni Mitchell released her last studio album to date, Shine.  That release was her first recording since 2002’s Travelogue and first collection of new songs since 1998’s Taming the Tiger.  Over the past seven years, the influential singer-songwriter has mainly made headlines for her candid and revealing interviews, on which she’s held forth about such topics as Bob Dylan’s alleged plagiarism and her own struggles with Morgellons disease.  So it’s refreshing that Mitchell is back in the spotlight for her music, thanks to a new box set to arrive just in time for the holiday gift-giving season.  On November 17, Rhino will release a new four-disc collection entitled Love Has Many Faces: A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced.

In the tradition of past compilations curated by Mitchell including The Beginning of Survival, Dreamland and Songs of a Prairie Girl, Love Has Many Faces promises to be a thematic exploration of the artist’s poetic, soulful and jazz-inflected music created over the decades.  The set includes 53 newly-remastered songs selected from her catalogue which began with 1968’s David Crosby-produced album Song to a Seagull and has encompassed such acknowledged classics as Ladies of the Canyon (1970), Blue (1971), Court and Spark (1974) and Both Sides Now (2000).  It’s promised that the remastered songs on Love will be “familiar but fresh,” with “a lot of sonic adjustment.” In a press release, Mitchell elaborated, “I am a painter who writes songs. My songs are very visual. The words create scenes …What I have done here is to gather some of these scenes (like a documentary filmmaker) and by juxtaposition, edit them into a whole new work.”

As the title indicates, the box set was initially conceived for the ballet stage.  “I wanted the music to feel like a total work – a new work,” Mitchell writes in the liner notes. “No matter what I did, though, at that [ballet performance] length, it remained merely a collection of songs.”  So the artist rearranged 53 songs into “thematic acts” like that of a ballet. Comparing her to that of a film editor, she offers, “I had 40 years of footage to review. Then, suddenly, scenes began to hook up. Then series began to form.” She elucidates, “Instead of it being an emotional roller coaster ride as it was before — crammed into one disc — themes began to develop. Moods sustained. I was getting there…When this long editorial process finally came to rest, I had four ballets or a four-act ballet — a quartet. I also had a box set.”

Hit the jump for more details including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 15, 2014 at 12:06

Better Treat Her Right: Latter-Day Donna Summer Albums Expanded in the U.K.

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Donna Summer - CD Collection

1979 could have been called “The Year of Donna Summer.”  In the last year of the 70s, Summer became the first female artist in the history of to have three number 1 singles in a calendar year:  “Hot Stuff,” “Bad Girls” and “No More Tears (Enough is Enough),” a duet with Barbra Streisand.  She would have had four, but alas, “Dim All the Lights” stalled at No. 2.  But despite reaching the top of the charts consistently with disco records, Summer decided that she wanted to try a new sound.  Her record label, Casablanca, reportedly disagreed.  This led to an acrimonious split, and lawsuits ensued between the singer and label.  She left Casablanca and went to David Geffen’s newly formed Geffen Records, becoming that label’s first signee.  Now. Donna Summer’s catalogue for Geffen and, later, Atlantic Records is being newly reissued in expanded editions from Driven by the Music on December 1 in the U.K., and one week later stateside.

Although Donna wanted to try out a new sound, she stuck with the producers who had brought her so much success in the past:  Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte.  The Wanderer was released in 1980 as Geffen Records’ first LP.  Unsurprisingly, the diva’s instincts proved correct.  It continued Summer’s streak of success going Gold in the US and spawned a No. 3 hit with the title song.  “Cold Love” and “Who Do You Think You’re Fooling?” made it to the top 40.  For this reissue, the album has been expanded with single edits of the latter two songs.

In 1981, Donna returned to the studio to begin work on the follow-up album, I’m A Rainbow.  Before the album could be completed, however, it was cancelled by David Geffen due to his feeling that the material was not strong enough.  It would remain on the shelf until 1996 when it was eventually released by – Casablanca!  It has been expanded for this campaign to two discs, with the original album on the first disc and other tracks recorded around the same period (previously released in various places over the years) on the second.

For Summer’s next effort, Geffen brought in Quincy Jones to produce.  The result was the self-titled Donna Summer released in 1982 after a six-month recording period.  Although Jones and Summer apparently didn’t get along during the making of the album, it was still a success and achieved Gold status in the U.S., yielding the top 10 single “Love is In Control (Finger On the Trigger).”  Driven by the Music has added seven bonus tracks to the album:  the B-side “Sometimes Like Butterflies,” three versions of “Love Is In Control” and three versions of “State of Independence” (No. 41 Pop).

Summer and Geffen were then informed by Polygram (Casablanca’s parent label) that she still owed them an album to complete her previous contract.  She Works Hard for the Money, with its indelible title track, was released in 1983 on Mercury and the title track went to No. 3.  Geffen was reportedly not happy with the album’s success but wanted to capitalize on it, so he enlisted Money’s producer, Michael Omartian, to helm Summer’s next album for Geffen:  Cats Without Claws.  Unfortunately for Summer and Geffen, the album did not match Money’s success and failed to go gold in the U.S., her first album in the U.S. to fail to make that certification.  It also did not garner a top 10 single, with its highest chart entry being a cover of The Drifters’ “There Goes My Baby” stalling at No. 21.  It was not all bad news though:  Summer earned a Grammy for Best Inspirational Performance for “Forgive Me” from the album.  The new edition has been expanded with five songs:  two versions of “Eyes,” an extended version of “Supernatural Love,” an extended version of “I’m Free” and the B-side “Face the Music.”

That’s not all!  Hit the jump for details on the rest of the editions in this series, plus complete track listings with discography and pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 14, 2014 at 12:11

Cherry Red Celebrates “Godfather of Ska” Laurel Aitken With Albums Box

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Laurel Aitken BoxBorn in Cuba of mixed Jamaican and Cuban descent as Lorenzo Aitken, singer Laurel Aitken (1927-2005) is today remembered as “The Godfather of Ska.” The precursor to reggae, ska drew from Caribbean styles like calypso and mento as well as from American jazz and R&B; by the early 1960s, it was the predominant style of music in Jamaica. Cherry Red Records and Pressure Drop have recently collected the seminal early recordings of Laurel Aitken in a new 5-CD box set. Aitken’s Original Albums Collection features four rare albums and a fifth disc of bonus singles and non-LP rarities:

  • Ska with Laurel (1966)
  • Laurel Aitken Says Fire (1967)
  • Scandal in a Brixton Market (with Girlie) (1969)
  • The High Priest of Reggae (1970)
  • Skinhead Train: 1960s Singles and Rarities

When Aitken arrived in Brixton, London, in the early 1960s, he was already an established artist in his home of Jamaica where he and his family had settled in the late 1930s. Aitken had begun singing in the mento style (a largely acoustic, folk-based idiom) in the 1950s, first for the Jamaican Tourist Board and later as a popular nightclub entertainer. His 1958 single “Boogie in My Bones” b/w “Little Sheila” was one of the first records produced by future Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and is also said to be the first Jamaican pop record to be released in the United Kingdom.

Once settled in Brixton, Aitken began recording for the Blue Beat label, releasing fifteen singles before moving back to Jamaica in 1963. After continuing to record there with fellow ska pioneer Arthur “Duke” Reid, he returned to the U.K. and recorded for the Pama label. Aitken was an early proponent of the “D.I.Y.” style, with the homemade sound of his records helping them to stand out in the onslaught of early rock and roll. He went on to record for Island, Rio, Doctor Bird, Trojan and other labels, spreading the gospel of ska and Jamaican music far beyond the confines of Brixton (even today still an area with a large Caribbean population). An innate showman, Aitken took the alter ego of “King Horror,” performing under the guises of characters such as “The Loch Ness Monster”, “Dracula, Prince of Darkness,” and “The Hole.” In the 1970s, he relocated to Leicester, and continued to perform and record over the years, enjoying the 2 Tone ska resurgence and even scoring a No. 60 pop hit in 1980 in the U.K. with “Rudi Got Married.”

After the jump: what will you find inside the box set? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 9, 2014 at 10:05

Old Friends: Legacy Collects Simon & Garfunkel Discography

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Simon and Garfunkel - Albums CoverPaul Simon met Art Garfunkel in the halls of Queens, New York’s P.S. 164 in the sixth grade, with both young men cast in a school production of Alice in Wonderland. They soon bonded over a mutual love of music, and by 1956, Simon and Garfunkel were performing locally as “Tom and Jerry,” modeling themselves on the Everly Brothers, with whom they would later collaborate. Though he and Simon briefly split in the early 1960s, they reunited for 1964’s Wednesday Morning 3 AM, a low-key collection of folk songs, including a number of originals penned by the precociously talented Simon. It was lost in the shuffle of the British Invasion, however, and Simon retreated to England while Garfunkel resumed his studies. When Columbia Records decided to reissue Wednesday Morning’s “The Sound of Silence” with electric overdubs in September 1965, Simon and Garfunkel were presented with ample reason to reform: the song was climbing its way to No. 1, hitting that coveted spot on New Year’s Day, 1966. Their second album, Sounds of Silence, was recorded in December 1965 during that heady time when “Silence” was making waves in the music industry. The rest is history. Though 1970’s Bridge Over Troubled Water remains the final Simon & Garfunkel studio album to date, the subsequent decades have been marked by numerous reunions. As long as both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are performing, chances are another reunion will eventually take place. For now and always, though, their legacy exists in the small but vital catalogue they’ve left behind.

On November 24, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings will issue Simon & Garfunkel’s The Complete Albums Collection, a 12-CD Box set containing:

  • All five of Simon & Garfunkel’s stereo studio albums released between 1964 and 1970, newly remastered from first-generation analog sources;
  • First-time remasters of The Graduate soundtrack and 1981’s The Concert in Central Park;
  • 1972’s Greatest Hits album (which contained some unique performances unavailable elsewhere); and
  • Live concert albums from 1967, 1969 and 2004, as first released in 2002, 2008 and 2004, respectively.

Hit the jump for more details on this new collection including pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 2, 2014 at 14:51

Beginning To See The Light: 6-CD Super Deluxe “Velvet Underground” Coming In November

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VU BoxFor the third year in a row, a classic album by The Velvet Underground will receive the super deluxe treatment from Polydor and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe).

On November 24, 2014, the label will release The Velvet Underground – 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, a 65-track, 6-CD hardcover book-style box set, following 2012’s release of The Velvet Underground and Nico and 2013’s White Light/White Heat.  The 1969 release of The Velvet Underground introduced Doug Yule to the band, replacing founding member John Cale, and also introduced a somewhat more accessible, melodic sensibility perhaps best described as in a “folk rock” vein.  Not that the group’s experimental tendencies were absent; “The Murder Mystery” employed both spoken-word and musique concrete, proving that Lou Reed (who wrote every track on the album), Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker were still at the vanguard.

The 45th Anniversary set presents two distinct stereo mixes of the original LP on the its first two discs, and a promotional mono mix on the third disc (along with two mono single sides).  The fourth disc features the Velvets’ 1969 session recordings which were to comprise a fourth album; ten of the fourteen tracks are heard in previously unissued mixes (four from 1969, six from 2014).  Tracks from this disc appeared in different form on Lou Reed’s 1972 solo album as well as his classic David Bowie-produced Transformer, as well as on The Velvet Underground’s Loaded album for Atlantic Records  The fifth and sixth discs are devoted to the band’s November 26 and 27, 1969 concerts at San Francisco club The Matrix, featuring new-to-CD mixes and performances.

David Fricke provides the new liner notes for this set.  The remastered “Val” Valentin stereo mix of The Velvet Underground (Disc One of the box set) will also be made available as a single-disc CD release, and as part of the two-CD Deluxe Edition with a 12-track audio bonus disc featuring highlights from Live At The Matrix.  Digital versions of both the single disc “Valentin mix” and the Super Deluxe set will also be available through UMe’s digital partners including MFiT and HD Audio formats.

After the jump, we present the press release for The Velvet Underground: 45th Anniversary Edition as well as the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 1, 2014 at 13:43

Any Day Now: Ronnie Milsap’s “RCA Albums Collection” Box Coming In November

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Ronnie Milsap - RCA

Country music superstar Ronnie Milsap is having a great year. The Academy of Country Music has recognized him with a Career Achievement Award at the ACM Honors ceremony in Nashville, and in October, the “It Was Almost Like a Song” and “Any Day Now” singer will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s 2014 class, alongside Mac Wiseman and the late Hank Cochran. Capping this incredible year of acclaim, however, will be the November 4 release from RCA Records and Legacy Recordings of The RCA Albums Collection. This 21-CD box set compiles all of Milsap’s studio and live sets released by RCA between 1973 and 2006. Many of these titles have been long unavailable, while others have never previously seen CD release at all.

The box set contains the following original albums:

  1. Where My Heart Is (1973)
  2. Pure Love (1974)
  3. A Legend In My Time (1975)
  4. Night Things (1975)
  5. 20/20 Vision (1976)
  6. Ronnie Milsap Live (1976)
  7. It Was Almost Like A Song (1977)
  8. Only One Love In My Life (1978)
  9. Images (1979)
  10. Milsap Magic (1980)
  11. Out Where The Bright Lights Are Glowing (1981)
  12. There’s No Gettin’ Over Me (1981)
  13. Inside (1982)
  14. Keyed Up (1983)
  15. One More Try For Love (1984)
  16. Lost In The Fifties Tonight (1985)
  17. Christmas With Ronnie Milsap (1986)
  18. Heart & Soul (1987)
  19. Stranger Things Have Happened (1989)
  20. Back To The Grindstone (1991)
  21. My Life (2006)

After the jump, we’ll take a deeper look at the contents of the box set and Ronnie Milsap’s career! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 1, 2014 at 12:53

Last Train To Clarksville: “The Monkees” Goes Super Deluxe In November

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Monkees SDEIn 1967, Monkeemania was sweeping the country. “I told people I would outsell The Beatles, and they laughed at me,” impresario Don Kirshner once recalled. “Then the first album sold four million.” That first album which led the television foursome to outsell The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and, well, everybody else in 1967 is the subject of a new 3-CD Super Deluxe set arriving from Rhino Handmade on November 11.

The Monkees – Super Deluxe Edition rewinds the series of box sets that has already encompassed the group’s sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth albums: The Birds, The Bees and the Monkees, Head, The Monkees Present and Instant Replay, respectively. (A previous box set collected the sessions for Headquarters, Album No. 3.) This new box features a whopping 100 tracks, 45 of which are previously unreleased, and includes the original album in both mono and stereo as well as Davy Jones’ 1965 solo debut David Jones in both mono and stereo versions.

The first disc of the set features the mono and stereo versions of The Monkees, featuring seven compositions by Tommy Boyce, six with Bobby Hart and one with Steve Venet, including “(Theme from) The Monkees,” “I Wanna Be Free” and the No. 1 hit “Last Train to Clarksville.” The album also has tunes from Mike Nesmith (“Papa Gene’s Blues”) David Gates (“Saturday’s Child”), Carole King and Gerry Goffin (“Take a Giant Step,” “Sweet Young Thing,” co-written with Nesmith) and Goffin and Russ Titelman (“I’ll Be True to You”). This disc is rounded out with 12 bonus cuts including unique television versions previously unreleased on CD.

The 31 tracks on the second disc are all previously unreleased, as well. This disc of session material boasts the master backing tracks for “Let’s Dance On,” “This Just Doesn’t Seem To Be My Day,” “(Theme From) The Monkees” and “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day” plus various alternate versions of songs from the debut album, including an alternate vocal take by Nesmith on “The Kind of Girl I Could Love,” rehearsal recordings and multiple takes of songs like “I Wanna Be Free,” Goffin and King’s “So Goes Love” and Nesmith’s “Mary, Mary.”

The third disc puts the spotlight on the early solo endeavors of Monkees Davy and Mike. Jones’ 1965 Colpix debut David Jones is presented in both mono and stereo along with two single sides, while six single sides from Michael Blessing a.k.a. Nesmith are also here, two of which have never been released before in any format. This disc concludes with four rare demo recordings of “I Wanna Be Free.”

After the jump: more on The Monkees including the complete track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 30, 2014 at 13:27

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