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Archive for the ‘Compilations’ Category

Queen & King (of Pop) Surface on New Compilation

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QueenOn November 10, Queen returns with a new anthology – available in both single- and double-CD iterations with 20 and 36 songs, respectively – that intends to live up to its title, Queen Forever.  While the collection eschews a traditional “greatest hits” approach (and with it, hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You”), it premieres three songs including a long-anticipated collaboration with the late Michael Jackson.  In addition to the three “new” tracks available on both editions, Queen Forever also includes album tracks and favorites selected by Roger Taylor and Brian May to be “representative of our growth rather than the big hits,” per May.

The Virgin Records/UMe release introduces the Queen/Michael Jackson debut song “There Must Be More to Life Than This,” first written by the late Freddie Mercury during sessions for Queen’s 1981 album Hot Space. At the time, the band recorded a backing track, but the song remained incomplete. Mercury later recorded Michael Jackson on the song at the King of Pop’s home studio in Los Angeles. Queen revived the track during sessions for 1984’s The Works, but again it was shelved prior to completion, and in 1985, Mercury released a solo version on his debut LP Mr. Bad Guy. This new version fuses Queen’s original backing track with both Mercury and Jackson’s vocals, and has been produced and remixed by producer William Orbit.

The second previously unissued track is May’s composition “Let Me in Your Heart Again.”  Initially recorded by Queen for The Works, it, too, was shelved.   The version on Queen Forever presents the original live-in-the-studio band performance with newly-recorded guitar parts from May and new backing vocals from May and Taylor.  The third new track, “Love Kills,” was composed by Mercury and producer-songwriter Giorgio Moroder in 1984 for Moroder’s new pop soundtrack to the 1927 silent movie Metropolis. Mercury’s dance version of the song became his first solo hit in 1985, but the production may have obscured the fact that all four members of Queen played on the original track.  Prior to Queen embarking on their recent tour with lead singer Adam Lambert, Brian May proposed performing an acoustic ballad version of the song; this ballad arrangement is the basis for the recording that premieres on Queen Forever.  It features the original band performance and Mercury vocal, augmented by newly recorded guitars and drums by May and Taylor.

There’s more after the jump, including the complete track listing with discography, and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 29, 2014 at 12:50

Let It Snow! Legacy Has Eight New “Classic Christmas” Titles Including Unheard Sinatra, Mathis Tracks

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FrankIt’s that time of the year again! Legacy Recordings’ Classic Christmas Album series has become an annual tradition, and the label is once again drawing on the Sony Music vaults to offer new seasonal anthologies from a group of truly celebrated artists. This year, the bona fide legends include Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Perry Como, and Johnny Mathis, and their volumes will be joined by an entry for the classical crossover quartet Il Divo as well as by various-artists compilations spotlighting hard rock, country and pop Christmas classics. These eight new, remastered titles will be available October 7, 2014 and feature a variety of holiday treats!

This year’s line-up introduces various-artists releases to the series, and also expands its purview to include previously unissued tracks and rarities (much in the style of Sony’s long-running Playlist series) on the Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra titles. Frank Sinatra’s Classic Christmas Album features 14 holiday favorites from his 1940s Columbia Records period, long before he was “Ol’ Blue Eyes” or “The Chairman of the Board.” At Columbia, Sinatra was “The Voice” – the voice which inspired bobbysoxers to riot and listeners everywhere to swoon. In addition to familiar fare (“Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “White Christmas”), this collection offers two spirituals first issued on a 1947 single (“Jesus is a Rock (In a Weary Land),” “I’ve Got a Home in That Rock”) and two previously unissued performances: Frank Loesser’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with singer Dorothy Kirsten and an alternate version of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne’s “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” with the Page Cavanaugh Trio. This alternate version follows a different approach to the performance of the same song Sinatra recorded four years later with the B. Swanson Quartet in 1950 (which is also included on the CD). Sinatra performed “Baby” with Kirsten on 1949’s Light Up Time radio program; “Let It Snow” with Cavanaugh dates to 1946’s Songs by Sinatra show.

JMCCRare songs also feature on the Johnny Mathis volume. Two previously unissued tracks make their first appearances anywhere – “Ol’ Kris Kringle” and “Give Me Your Love for Christmas.” The latter has been confirmed as an alternate recording to the familiar version from 1969’s Give Me Your Love for Christmas LP. This holiday collection also includes both sides of two rare singles: “Christmas in the City of the Angels” b/w “The Very First Christmas Day” (1979) and “Christmas Is” b/w “Sign of the Dove” (1971). “Christmas Is” was previously issued on CD by Sony Special Products in 1999 as the title track of a budget compilation, but the other three single sides make their CD debuts here. In total, Johnny’s Classic Christmas Album includes 14 songs including his 2006 duet with Bette Midler of “Winter Wonderland/Let It Snow!,” drawing on his rich Christmas catalogue which dates back to 1958’s Merry Christmas and to date encompasses six full-length holiday LPs.

After the jump: Perry Como, Barbra Streisand, Il Divo and more – plus pre-order links and track listings for all eight titles!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 23, 2014 at 11:20

A Well-Respected Band: The Kinks Prep “Essential,” A New Deluxe “Muswell” and “Anthology” Box Set

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Kinks Anthology

It’s going to be a Kink-sized autumn on both sides of the Atlantic. Legacy Recordings, newly-exclusive licensor of The Kinks’ 1971-1985 catalogue for North America, is kicking things off on October 14 with the release of The Essential Kinks, a 2-CD career-spanning retrospective of the group’s music for Pye/Reprise, RCA, Arista and Columbia. Then, on November 10, Legacy follows with a Legacy Edition CD/DVD set celebrating the band’s 1971 album Muswell Hillbillies. One week later on November 17, Sanctuary Records (BMG/InGrooves in the U.S.) has a 5-CD box set coming. The Anthology 1964-1971 has been curated by longtime Kinks historian Andrew Sandoval and includes roughly a full disc’s worth – 23 tracks – of previously unissued material. Finally, Legacy has already made available 16 Kinks albums as high-resolution digital downloads in North America via HDTracks, from Muswell Hillbillies through Return to Waterloo (1985) and Come Dancing with the Kinks (1986).

“I’ve never heard a Kinks song I didn’t like,” writes David Bowie in his new liner notes penned for The Essential Kinks. This truly stuffed package – with 48 songs on 2 CDs – begins with 1964’s U.K. chart-topper/U.S. Top 10 hit “You Really Got Me” and concludes with 1993’s “Phobia,” The Kinks’ final original single to date. In between, you’ll find most of The Kinks’ hits including “All Day and All of the Night,” “Tired of Waiting for You,” “Sunny Afternoon,” “Waterloo Sunset,” and “Come Dancing,” plus live renditions of “’Till the End of the Day,” “Where Have All the Good Times Gone” and “Lola.” (The group’s MCA period of 1986-1989 is the only label affiliation which is overlooked here.)

The Essential Kinks will be followed by a Legacy Edition of Muswell Hillbillies on November 10. The band’s ninth studio album, it was named after Muswell Hill, the area of North London that Ray Davies and his brother Dave once called home. Like The Kinks’ classic Village Green Preservation Society before it, Muswell concerned itself with themes relevant to British life, wryly addressing working-class conditions and the changes affecting the populace. A Deluxe Edition was released by Sanctuary and Universal in 2013, which presented the original album on its first disc and fourteen bonus cuts on its second disc.

The upcoming Legacy Edition retains eight of the thirteen bonus tracks on the 2013 Deluxe Edition, dropping three BBC radio performances from The John Peel Show (“Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues,” “Holiday” and “Skin and Bone”) and the 1976 remixes of “Muswell Hillbilly” and “20th Century Man.” It then adds a separate DVD with thirteen previously-unreleased performances: two songs from a January 1972 broadcast of The Old Grey Whistle Test and eleven from BBC’s Live at the Rainbow program from July 1972.

After the jump, we’ll explore The Kinks Anthology 1964-1971. Plus we have track listings and pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 22, 2014 at 13:37

Ooh Baby Baby: New “Opus Collection” Celebrates Linda Ronstadt

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LR OpusStarbucks has unveiled the latest addition to its Opus Collection library, and the subject artist is one who’s always beat to a “different drum”: Linda Ronstadt.  Throughout her career, Ronstadt has rocked to Buddy Holly and Warren Zevon, performed Gilbert and Sullivan on Broadway, sang out front of Nelson Riddle’s orchestra, made sweet country harmonies with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, celebrated her rich Mexican heritage, and explored folk and Cajun traditions.  In short, Ronstadt’s remarkable – and remarkably diverse career – can’t possibly be encapsulated on one compact disc, but the new Opus Collection does offer 16 tracks displaying the breadth of Ronstadt’s vocal talents.  It follows other recent releases for the artist including Rhino’s volume of Duets and Universal’s budget-priced ICON compilation.

This Opus Collection spans the period between Ronstadt’s second solo album, 1970’s Silk Purse, and 2006’s Grammy-nominated studio farewell, Adieu, False Heart, a collaborative LP with Ann Savoy.  Following the usual template of this series, Ronstadt’s edition includes a number of hits but eschews others in favor of lesser-known gems.  That the earliest track is Gary White’s ballad “Long, Long Time” is appropriate; with its No. 25 placement on the Billboard Hot 100, it was a milestone for Ronstadt that also earned her a Grammy nomination.  (“Different Drum,” from The Stone Poneys, had reached No. 13 in 1967 but “Long, Long Time” marked Ronstadt’s first major solo hit.)

Compilation producer Steven Stolder has selected some of Ronstadt’s most beloved hits from her amazing streak in the 1970s produced by Peter Asher: “You’re No Good” (No. 1, 1975, from Heart Like a Wheel), “Blue Bayou” (No. 3, 1977, from Simple Dreams), “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me” (No. 31, also from Simple Dreams), and “Ooh Baby Baby” (No. 7, 1979, from Living in the U.S.A.)  Anna McGarrigle’s title track to 1974’s chart-topping album Heart Like a Wheel, featuring an understated piano/string quartet arrangement and the harmony vocals of Maria Muldaur, is also a selection.

Ronstadt’s natural affinity and ability to blend with her fellow singers has never been in doubt.  Opus Collection draws on the Grammy-winning Trio II album from Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris for the traditional “Lover’s Return,” first popularized by the Carter Family in the 1930s, and on Adieu False Heart for Ronstadt and Ann Savoy’s delicious reinvention of The Left Banke’s pop hit “Walk Away Renee.”   Another favorite duet partner of Ronstadt’s is the great New Orleans soul man Aaron Neville; he’s heard on Tom Snow, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s “Don’t Know Much,” a No. 2 Pop/No. 1 AC hit in 1989 from the multi-platinum album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind.  From that same LP, this collection reprises Jimmy Webb’s poignant “Adios,” featuring the angelic, multi-layered harmonies of Brian Wilson, and the Eric Kaz-written title track.  Kaz also co-wrote the beguiling title song to Ronstadt’s acclaimed 1993 album Winter Light, heard here, with Ronstadt and film score composer Zbigniew Antoni Preisner.

The final quartet of tracks represents Ronstadt’s varied forays into standards.  Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Bobby Capó’s “Piel Canela” is derived from Ronstadt’s Grammy-winning Frenesí.  Two tracks are taken from Ronstadt’s series of albums with the legendary arranger-conductor Nelson Riddle – “What’ll I Do” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.”  Opus Collection closes with “Cry Me a River,” another venerable standard from the Great American Songbook.  Ronstadt recorded it not with an orchestra, but with a jazz combo, for her 2004 Verve album Hummin’ to Myself.

After the jump, we have more on this set including the complete track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 18, 2014 at 13:55

Rocky Mountain High: Legacy Remembers John Denver With New Box Set

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John Denver - All of My MemoriesRandy Sparks was right. ”Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.” likely wouldn’t have commanded attention on a marquee. “John Denver” would – and did. The beloved troubadour, who perished in 1997 at just 53, took the advice of the New Christy Minstrels’ leader. Choosing a new name from his favorite state, which he would immortalize numerous times in song, Denver went on to a career encompassing seven multi-platinum, thirteen platinum and 20 gold albums. During that sadly-curtailed career, he also penned some of the most beloved and indelible works in the canon of American song: “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High.” On November 4, RCA Records and Legacy Recordings will celebrate the enduring music of John Denver on a new 4-CD career spanning anthology, All of My Memories: The John Denver Collection.

All of My Memories chronicles the two-time Grammy Award winner’s career from 1964 to 1997 over the course of 90 songs recorded between 1964 and 1997 by Denver solo, as member of The Chad Mitchell Trio, and with duet partners including Emmylou Harris, Olivia Newton-John, Placido Domingo, Sylvie Vartan, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and that inimitable song stylist, Miss Piggy! With his boyish good looks, gentle voice and enthusiasm for music and nature, Denver was one of the preeminent pop voices of the 1970s, incorporating folk and country influences into his popular material. He charted more than 40 Billboard Hot 100, AC and Country songs from 1971 to 1988, and this box set features a number of them alongside key album tracks, live performances, and rarities including promotional-only and privately-pressed tracks. In addition, six songs make their first appearances anywhere on this set:

  • Cover versions of “The Road” and “Far Side Of The Hill,” both demos recorded for Capitol Records in Hollywood, 1964, prior to Denver’s tenure with the Mitchell Trio;
  • “Rhymes And Reasons,” an original composition cut in early ’69 for Reprise Records, re-recorded as the title track of Denver’s RCA debut later that year;
  • “Spirit,” first recorded on 1975’s Windsong LP, as recorded live at the Sydney Opera House in 1977, but not included on the 1999 concert album release;
  • An alternate take of “Eli’s Song” from 1976 with a lyric described by the record label as “prophetic”: “See the airplane fly, see the trees rush by/ Be brave and strong when you hurt yourself/ Don’t you have a worry in the world…”; and
  • An alternate version of the vintage tune “It’s A Sin to Tell a Lie” from 1973. Denver’s mother’s favorite song, he famously performed it on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show one year earlier.

Many of Denver’s own compositions are, naturally, featured alongside tracks composed by Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert (who co-wrote “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “I Guess He’d Rather Be In Colorado”), Buddy Holly (“Everyday”), John Prine (“Blow Up Your TV (Spanish Pipe Dream)”), Joe Henry, and others.

After the jump, we have more details on this set from the onetime Poet Laureate of Colorado, including the complete track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 15, 2014 at 10:15

Golden Years: “Nothing Has Changed” Compiles 50 Years of David Bowie’s Best, Plus New Song

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Bowie - Nothing Has Changed Promo ArtLess than a month ago, we reported on the upcoming reissue of David Bowie’s Sound and Vision, the box set covering the artist’s career from 1969 to 1997.  Today, Bowie’s official website has confirmed the November 18 release of NOTHING HAS CHANGED, an all-new career-spanning retrospective which for the first time collects music from the entirety of his 50-year career: 1964 to 2014.  In the U.K., this package – available in 2-CD, 3-CD and 2-LP configurations – will arrive from Parlophone; in the U.S., the label is Columbia/Legacy.

To sweeten the pot, NOTHING HAS CHANGED will feature the first new music from Bowie since his critically-lauded 2013 album The Next DayHis new single “Sue (or In a Season of Crime)” was recorded with longtime producer/collaborator Tony Visconti specifically for this project.  It will also be featured (along with a never-before-heard B-side, “‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore”) on a special Record Store Day vinyl release set for the annual Black Friday RSD event on November 28; this 1o-inch release will be available at general retail in the U.K.!

“Sue” isn’t the only previously unissued music on NOTHING HAS CHANGED.  The set will also premiere the 2001 versions of 1967’s “Let Me Sleep Beside You” and 1971’s “Shadow Man,” both reportedly from sessions related to the as-yet-unreleased album Toy.  The download-only track “Your Turn to Drive,” from that same album/period, makes its CD debut on NOTHING HAS CHANGED.  (The official press release confirms “Let Me Sleep Beside You” as a part of Toy but oddly, not the other two tracks.)

The 3-CD version of NOTHING HAS CHANGED (which takes its name from “Sunday,” from the album Heathen) is arranged in reverse chronological order, while the truncated 2-CD edition (which begins with 1969’s “Space Oddity,” dropping five earlier songs) is presented chronologically.  The 2-LP set jumps around, beginning with “Let’s Dance” (1983) and ending with “Where Are We Now” (2013).  A number of remixes and edits are included on the anthology, further distinguishing the set from a standard “best-of.”  (Alas, “The Laughing Gnome” is absent from all iterations!)  Mix variations also occur between the various editions such as on “Young Americans.”

After the jump, we have more on this new retrospective, plus the complete track listing for all three editions! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

September 9, 2014 at 13:07

Starbucks Serves Up Cocktails with Mel, Serge and Judy, and Folk with Nick, Sandy and Eliza

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rsz_sbux-page-001

Fall apparently wasn’t arriving early enough for the folks at Starbucks, so the international coffee giant moved it up – to this past August 25 – with the early arrival of its familiar fall drinks. But when ordering up that pumpkin spice latte, you might want to check out two recent musical offerings, both curated with the Starbucks Entertainment label’s customary care.

The simply-titled British Folk emphasizes the current crop of troubadours who currently follow in the footsteps of Nick Drake and Sandy Denny, both of whom are represented here with “Hazey Jane” and “Listen, Listen,” respectively. The British folk revival of the late 1960s – which also encompassed artists like Davy Graham, Martin Carthy and John Martyn, and groups such as Pentangle and Fairport Convention – clearly inspired the young singers on British Folk. Yet the compilation incorporates many sounds and styles, some more indebted to the rock side of folk-rock but all rooted in the love of traditional, acoustic music.

Modern spins on folk come from Stokes, William’s “In/Of the World,” Beth Orton’s “Call Me the Breeze” and Eliza Carthy (daughter of folk heroes Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson)’s “Train Song.” Johnny Flynn is heard twice, once with Laura Marling on “The Water” and once solo with “Lost and Found.” Sam Lee rearranges a traditional tune with “Goodbye, My Darling,” and Kat Flint offers a striking political comment with the bitterly ironic “Christopher, You’re a Solider Now.” British-American band Treetop Flyers’ 2013 “Things Will Change” taps into the strains of both countries’ folk-rock styles. The late Drake and Denny’s contributions still sound fresh within the context of these musicians who followed them.

After the jump: take a little time to enjoy a swingin’ Cocktail Hour with many famous names – plus we have track listings for both albums! Read the rest of this entry »

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