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Burn, Baby, Burn! Career-Spanning Anthology Arrives For The Dictators

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Dictators - Faster LouderWho will save rock and roll?

The Dictators posed the question on their 2011 reunion album D.F.F.D. (that’s “Dictators Forever, Forever Dictators,” in case you were wondering), but many listening might have felt that The Dictators themselves could have been the saviors. Yet despite recording three well-received albums between 1975 and 1978, and gaining such high-profile fans as Bruce Springsteen and Little Steven Van Zandt, The Dictators’ anarchic, acerbic brand of rock-and-roll never garnered the group mainstream success. But Raven Records believes in The Dictators, and has just celebrated the band with its first-ever career-spanning, multi-label anthology. Faster…Louder: The Dictators’ Best 1975-2001 draws on all four studio albums for a fast and furious introduction to the group Van Zandt asserted was “the missing link between The New York Dolls and punk.”

Vocalist/bassist/chief songwriter Andy Shernoff joined lead guitarist Ross “The Boss” Friedman, rhythm guitarist Scott “Top Ten” Kempner, drummer Stu Boy King and lead vocalist “Handsome” Dick Manitoba in the first lineup of The Dictators. This quintet unleashed The Dictators Go Girl Crazy! on Epic Records in 1976, produced by Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman, known for their work with hard rockers Blue Öyster Cult. With its humorously biting lyrics and full-throttle garage-style musical attack, Girl Crazy is often considered one of the building blocks of the punk sound. Six tracks are culled from Girl Crazy for Raven’s anthology, including “California Sun,” one of the original LP’s two covers. (The other was “I Got You, Babe,” nodding to the punks’ affection for – and satire of – sixties pop.) Of Shernoff’s originals included here, “(I Live For) Cars and Girls” was the songwriter’s tribute to Brian Wilson; “Master Race Rock” wasn’t quite as malevolent as the title might indicate, opening with “Hippies are squares with long hair/And they don’t wear no underwear” and going from there!

After a brief breakup, The Dictators reconvened with Manitoba, Friedman and Kempner joined by drummer Richie Teeter and bassist Mark “The Animal” Mendoza. Shernoff stayed on to play keyboards and write most of the group’s 1977 Asylum debut Manifest Destiny. Four tracks, including a live cover of The Stooges’ “Search and Destroy” from CBGB’s, are reprised here. Though the musicianship was as savage as ever, Manifest presented a more diverse hard-rock sound encompassing arena rock, punk, metal, and even power ballads. One more album followed for Asylum, 1978’s Bloodbrothers, from which five songs have been extracted. Shernoff once again handled the lion’s share of songwriting, even enlisting an uncredited Bruce Springsteen for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it vocal cameo on “Faster and Louder,” the track which gives this compilation its title. “Slow Death” was a cover of the Flamin’ Groovies’ anti-drug song from 1972.

Don’t miss a thing – hit the jump to continue reading! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 24, 2014 at 12:47

Hold On to Your Friends: Morrissey’s “Vauxhall and I” to Be Expanded

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Vauxhall and IOn June 3, Morrissey is picking up where he left off.  Parlophone Records will follow the February CD/DVD reissue of 1992’s Your Arsenal with the next album in his considerable catalogue, 1994’s Vauxhall and I.  Like Your Arsenal, the remastered CD of Vauxhall will be packaged with a previously unreleased live concert performance, this time also on CD.

Vauxhall and I was a very different animal than its predecessor.  Since the release of Arsenal, the artist had suffered the loss of that album’s producer, Mick Ronson.  He paired with producer Steve Lillywhite (U2, Big Country) for Vauxhall.  Lillywhite crafted a spare, often acoustic aesthetic to match the dark, somber and introspective songs written by Morrissey with his collaborators Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer.  Whyte and Boorer both contributed guitar to the LP and were joined by Jonny Bridgwood on bass and Woodie Taylor on drums.  The result was a stripped-down, elegiac, less heavily guitar-oriented LP.

Parlophone’s press release describes it as follows: “Vauxhall and I signaled an acceptance of ageing amidst the tyranny of time, casting off the shackles of the past, with a will to embrace the future. Along the way the album visits a cast of characters, including, references to Brighton Rock – gorgeous, exhilarating album opener ‘Now My Heart Is Full’ – those whom disregard all social conventions and ‘take life at five times the average speed’ (‘Spring-Heeled Jim’) and rejected romantics (‘Billy Budd’ – also a Herman Melville character). It also lays waste to ignorant and selfish tourist whom are ‘jaded by stagnation’ (‘The Lazy Sunbathers’), the unthinking and unquestioning (‘Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself’ – later covered by The Killers), and tackles the inevitable loss of innocence (‘Used To Be A Sweet Boy’), amongst other inimitable themes.”

Despite the personal nature of the material, however, the artist scored an unexpected hit.  Lead single “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” became his only song – either solo or with The Smiths – to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., where it reached No. 46.  It also reached No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. In his native United Kingdom, the track went all the way to No. 8, and was the artist’s only Top 10 of the decade.    The album itself was also a success.  In the U.S., it made the Top 20 of the Billboard 200; in the U.K., it became Morrissey’s second No. 1 album after his 1988 solo debut Viva Hate.

After the jump, we have more on Vauxhall and I including pre-order links and the full track listing of both CDs! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 24, 2014 at 09:55

Posted in Morrissey, News, Reissues

Isn’t That The Look of Love: Ace Reissues and Expands Lesley Gore’s “Girl Talk”

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Lesley Gore - Girl TalkThe inviting cover image of Lesley Gore’s 1964 LP features the teenage star on the telephone, poised for some Girl Talk with her best girlfriends. Ace Records, following its expanded version of Gore’s shelved album Magic Colors, has recently reissued Girl Talk in similarly lavish fashion, with thirteen bonus tracks (Ace CDCHD 1383).

Ace’s disc spotlights one of the great, largely unheralded “triangle marriages” in pop music – artist Lesley Gore, producer Quincy Jones and arranger Claus Ogerman. With engineer Phil Ramone in the mix, the trio crafted music that transcends the “teenage” tag. With background singers Jean Thomas and Mikie Harris prominent on Girl Talk, the LP has a girl-group feel that was quintessentially American at the height of the British Invasion. Yet, as a result of Beatlemania, the sound of music was changing faster than ever. Would Lesley Gore be able to keep up with the times? The answer was a resounding “Yes!” as this eclectic album and its bonus tracks proves.

Two Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich songs on Girl Talk kept Gore prominent on the Top 40. Their stunning pop confection “Look of Love” packs a range of emotions in just under two minutes, during which the lovelorn Lesley wistfully reflects on “the way he looks at her, the way he smiles…I remember when he was mine, I remember when things were fine/Look at the way he looks at her now…isn’t that the look of love?” Lesley’s winsome yet grounded delivery keeps the tune from being bitter or maudlin, in perfect synch with the bright melody. “Maybe I Know” (No. 14) from the same team became another quintessential Gore classic. It finds the singer in a familiar setting, lamenting that “Maybe I know he’s been cheating/Maybe I know he’s been untrue…but what can I do?” as she insists “deep down inside, he loves me, though he may run around…” The character voiced by Lesley might be delusional, but the catchy record, unsurprisingly, struck a universal chord.

Though overshadowed by “Look of Love” and “Maybe I Know,” the album’s lesser-known tracks are worthy of rediscovery. Sonny Gordon’s mod, swinging, hand-clapping “Hey Now” was a perfect opening salvo to a collection of songs that paint Gore in transition, poising her for the career that continues to this very day. Larry Marks, a mainstay on both the A&M and Lee Hazlewood Industries (LHI) labels, wrote the dark and dramatic ballad “Say Goodbye.” Lesley and producer Jones turned to “You Don’t Own Me” songwriters John Madara and David White for “Live and Learn” (“I’m an expert loser/No more sweet little girl now, I’ve learned my lesson and I vow/I won’t make the same mistakes now…”). Like “Maybe I Know,” its bright, dreamy melody stands in sharp contrast to the lyrics. The groundbreaking “You Don’t Own Me” itself is echoed in Ogerman’s haunting arrangement for Jeffrey Davis and Curtis Mann’s “Little Girl Go Home,” not to mention Steve Donroy and John Gluck’s “Sometimes I Wish I Were a Boy.” Though the song is far from the most mature on Girl Talk and was never a favorite of Lesley’s, it has an undeniably pointed message as Gore confidently sings of her frustration that a woman could not make the first move in a relationship.

Gore became a successful, Oscar-nominated songwriter, and her lone song on Girl Talk, the melodramatic “I Died Inside,” received a spicy Latin flavor from Ogerman. More standard teenage fare came with “Wonder Boy” and “Movin’ Away, but R&B great and future “Hustle” man Van McCoy supplied the soulful “You’ve Come Back” and lush album closer, “It’s About That Time.” Ogerman, whose arrangements graced numerous bossa nova albums including Frank Sinatra’s first and best collaboration with Antonio Carlos Jobim, adds a bossa flavor to the song.

What bonuses will you find here?  Hit the jump for that and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 23, 2014 at 09:19

Posted in Lesley Gore, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Release Round-Up: Week of April 22

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Joe Satriani - CompleteJoe Satriani, The Complete Studio Recordings (Epic/Legacy)

The guitar whiz’s complete studio output from 1986 to 2013 is collected in a 15-disc box set or chrome-domed USB head(Amazon U.S. /Amazon U.K.)

ABBA Gold 40ABBA, ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits – 40th Anniversary Edition (Polydor/UMe)

Two best-selling ABBA compilations, 1992′s ABBA Gold and its 1993 sequel More ABBA Gold, are paired up with a third disc of single B-sides. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Yes - The Yes AlbumYes, The Yes Album (Panegyric)

The prog group’s breakthrough third LP gets expanded and remixed in surround by Steve Wilson, who worked similar magic on Close to the Edge and XTC’s Nonsuch.

CD/DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
CD/BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

SkylarkingXTC, Skylarking: Corrected Polarity Edition (Ape House)

Speaking of XTC, the band’s Todd Rundgren-produced 1986 effort, presented with intended album art and running order (with “Dear God” integrated into the track list), was remastered for vinyl in 2010; now, that superior presentation makes its way to CD. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

TotoToto, Toto Hydra Turn Back (Rock Candy)

Get ready to “Hold the Line” with these new remasters from Rock Candy of Toto’s first three albums (their debut includes a 12″ mix of “Georgy Porgy”).

Toto: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
HydraAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Turn Back
Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Porky's RevengeVarious Artists, Porky’s Revenge: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Varese Sarabande)

The third, flop installment in the Porky’ franchise nonetheless had a killer soundtrack assembled by Dave Edmunds and featuring contributions from George Harrison, Jeff Beck, Willie Nelson and more. Joe’s full article will run later today! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Written by Mike Duquette

April 22, 2014 at 08:26

Real Gone Has Sweet Inspiration(s) For June With Vikki Carr, Fanny, Grateful Dead, More

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Vikki Carr - The First Time I Ever Saw Your FaceThe details are out on Real Gone Music’s June 3 release slate, and it’s so eclectic and so packed with rarities that you might find yourself exclaiming of the Real Gone team, “It must be them!” Of course, “It Must Be Him” was Vikki Carr’s signature hit, and Vikki is featured on not one, but two, releases from her Columbia Records tenure – including one with a full seventeen previously unissued recordings! If you like your female artists a bit more rocking, Real Gone has an expanded edition of Charity Ball, the 1971 sophomore album from Fanny, the first all-female rock band to find a major label home. And if it’s R&B ladies you’re after, you’ll find some of the best on The Complete Atlantic Singles Plus of the legendary Sweet Inspirations featuring Cissy Houston. And that’s not all. The disco trio Faith, Hope and Charity’s 1975 RCA long-player, produced by “Hustle” man Van McCoy, makes its worldwide CD debut, as does Color Me Country from groundbreaking African-American country vocalist Linda Martell. Real Gone continues its series reissuing Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks. And if the Dead isn’t enough to take you to a higher level of consciousness, you might want to check out the first-ever compilation of the New Age recordings of Robert Bearns and Ron Dexter’s Golden Voyage.

After the jump, you’ll find full details on this eclectic, expansive group of titles courtesy of Real Gone’s press release – plus pre-order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 21, 2014 at 12:16

RPM’s British Invasion Continues with The Scorpions, Crispian St. Peters

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Scorpions - Hello JosephineOur RPM Records round-up continues with news of two anthologies sure to interest any fans and collectors of mid-sixties British pop.

The Scorpions of Hello, Josephine – 30 Rhythm and Beat Classics 1964-1966 aren’t to be confused with the German metal band or even the British instrumental trio from the early sixties. These Scorpions were a beat band from Manchester, the same stomping ground as The Hollies. But Peter Lewis (vocals), Tony Briley (bass), Mike Delaney (drums), Tony Postill (lead guitar) and Rodney Postill (rhythm guitar) didn’t find success in their native England. Instead, they made a name for themselves in Holland! RPM’s new collection sheds light on this “lost” beat group.

Just months after the band was formed, Dutch audiences discovered The Scorpions on the country’s stages in summer 1964. They were signed to the CNR label almost immediately, and released their first single (“Bye Bye Johnny” b/w “Rip It Up”) in August. With their selection of songs by Chuck Berry and Little Richard, The Scorpions revealed their roots in American R&B, and the group followed up the 45 with covers of songs by Doris Troy (“Just One Look”), Ray Charles (“What’d I Say”) and Berry again (“Johnny B. Goode”). In late ’64, The Scorpions endured some personnel shifts: Tony Briley left the band, Rodney Postill took over on bass, Tony Postill switched from lead to rhythm guitar, and Terry Morton joined on lead guitar. But the new line-up scored big with December’s release of Fats Domino’s “Hello, Josephine.” It remained in the Dutch charts for 33 weeks, peaking at No. 2. Its follow-up was naturally also titled after a gal, and “Ann-Louise” also made the Top 40.

Further troubles plagued The Scorpions after this initial burst of success, however. Mike Delaney was replaced in 1965 by Ian “Skins” Lucas (who, like Morton, was an alumnus of Wayne Fontana and The Jets). A third hit record – an adaptation of “Greensleeves” inspired by the arrangement of The Country Gentlemen, another old band of Morton’s – made No. 22 in the summer, but soon, the band was forced to return to England when the members’ work permits expired. Morton and the Postills both gave up, leaving Peter Lewis and Ian Lucas to soldier on with new members Graham Lee (guitar/vocals), Dave Vernon (bass) and Roy Smithson (organ/vocals). This group of Scorpions recorded the optimistically-titled album Climbing the Charts, and the single “Balla, Balla” b/w “I’ve Got My Mojo Working” gave them another Top 20 hit. Still more comings and goings threatened to derail The Scorpions’ career, and the group was briefly rechristened The New Scorpions by its record label. Another album arrived in late 1966, but the band finally called it a day the next year when they were once again forced to return to England.

After the jump, there’s more on The Scorpions – plus The Complete Recordings of the Pied Piper himself, Crispian St. Peters! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 21, 2014 at 09:41

It’s Going To Be A “Purple” Summer: Prince, Warner Bros. Strike Agreement For Upcoming Reissues

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Purple Rain PrinceSince The Second Disc’s founding in 2010, fans of the artist once and currently known as Prince have had to content themselves with catalogue news from various corners of The Purple One’s universe, as reissues of Prince’s own music as a solo artist remained the most distant of possibilities.  Over these past four-plus years, we’ve seen the deluxe treatment afforded titles by Andre Cymone, Wendy and Lisa, even The Lewis Connection.  And now, at long last, we can confirm that a remastered catalogue campaign isn’t a distant possibility any longer: it’s coming,

This morning, Warner Bros. Records – long embroiled in a contentious relationship with the artist – announced that it had come to terms with Prince and entered into a global licensing partnership.  Though complete details have yet to be revealed, the agreement grants the singer ownership of his master recordings, and allows Warner Music Group to digitally remaster and reissue Prince’s albums from 1978 through the 1990s.  (Prince’s final album for the label was 1996’s Chaos and Disorder.  He then marked his freedom from the Warner empire with his next release that year, Emancipation.   That album launched a new label, NPG.)  The press release added that “long-awaited, previously unheard music” would be on the way.

This a particularly well-timed announcement, of course, as the recent New Girl guest star will mark the 30th anniversary of his watershed release Purple Rain on June 25.  This morning’s press release confirmed that the 13-times platinum Purple Rain would be the first album to get the reissue treatment. Prince also indicated that a new studio album is, indeed, “on the way.”  The artist commented in his own unique manner, “Warner Bros. Records and Eye are quite pleased with the results of the negotiations and look forward to a fruitful relationship.”

While there aren’t any further details to share as of this writing, watch this space for more Prince news as it becomes available!  The Revolution is coming!

Written by Joe Marchese

April 18, 2014 at 12:20

Posted in News, Prince, Reissues

Review: The Everly Brothers, “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us” Expanded Edition

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Songs Our Daddy Taught UsWhen Phil Everly passed away earlier this year, his legacy was celebrated by both those who knew him and those who were influenced by him. Chanteuse Norah Jones commented, “The high harmonies Phil sang were so fluid and beautiful and always sound effortless in a way that just washes over the listener.” Jones’ partner on the tribute album Foreverly, Billie Joe Armstrong, wrote, “Those harmonies will live on forever.” Iggy Pop observed, “The Everlys were the real deal when it comes to American music.” Brother Don eloquently stated, “I loved my brother very much. The world might be mourning an Everly Brother, but I’m mourning my brother Phil Everly.” Don and Phil’s contribution to American popular song can’t be underestimated. With hits like “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up, Little Susie” and “When Will I Be Loved,” they merged classic country and rock-and-roll into an inspirational whole, while their longing, ethereal vocal blend on “All I Have to Do is Dream” established them as timeless balladeers. At the beating heart of The Everly Brothers’ sound was their deep respect for the music of the land, the rough-and-tumble, hardscrabble, homespun ballads they had learned as children in the Midwest. Their 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught us was a concept album at a time when only Frank Sinatra was turning them out with regularity, and was Americana before the phrase was in vogue. It wasn’t their most popular album, but may well be their most personal and most important. It’s just been reissued by Varese Vintage in an expanded compact disc edition with six previously unheard bonus tracks (Varese 302 067 253-8, 2014), and as a limited-edition vinyl replica sans bonus tracks for Record Store Day.

In August 1958, the goofy novelty “Bird Dog” was ascending the pop charts, but far from repeating the formula, Don and Phil had something completely different and far more somber in mind. They entered RCA’s Nashville studios armed with just two guitars and their own vocal instruments plus producer/Cadence Records owner Archie Bleyer and bassist Floyd T. “Lightnin’” Chance. Rock and roll was not on their minds. Instead, they looked to assemble a collection primarily of traditional, often tragic, folk ballads, all rendered in seamlessly tight harmony. The album, to be titled Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, was rounded out with a few non-traditional cuts. These songs fit right into the low-key, acoustic tone of the album, including one co-written by the Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry (“That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine”), and another by Memphis songwriter Bob Miller (“Rockin’ Alone in My Old Rockin’ Chair”). The duo also revived Tex Ritter’s 1946 hit “Long Time Gone.” Everly patriarch Ike was credited with the arrangements for two of the tracks, “Barbara Allen” and “Put My Little Shoes Away.”

Don and Phil (aged just 21 and 19, respectively) connected with this material on a deep level. No matter that the songs were about gambling, cold-blooded murder, incarceration and mortality. The angelic harmonies of The Everlys were never more chillingly deployed than on the Appalachian murder ballad “Down in the Willow Garden,” which was first written in the nineteenth century, first professionally recorded in 1927, and popularized by Charlie Monroe in 1947. (Monroe gets the writing credit for The Everlys’ version.) In the song, the narrator poisons his lover, stabs her and finally throws her into the river. Reissue co-producer Andrew Sandoval’s fine liner notes reveal a quip from Phil on the session tapes: “Two easy lessons to slay your pregnant girlfriend is what this story is about!” Levity was likely needed behind-the-scenes to create the note-perfect, beautiful yet utterly haunting rendition here. The same goes for “Put My Little Shoes Away” which also confronts the specter of death head-on. Compared to the darkness of “Willow Garden” and even “Shoes,” the traditional country-and-western kiss-off of “Long Time Gone” (“You’re gonna be sad, you’re gonna be weeping/You’re gonna be blue and all alone…”) seems positively benign. Another quintessential C&W song is “I’m Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail” with a light, almost ironic bounce applied to its woeful tale. It even scored the brothers a minor hit single in its edited version.

There’s plenty more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 18, 2014 at 09:52

Posted in News, Reissues, Reviews, The Everly Brothers

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UMe’s Record Store Day Slate Features Nirvana, Frank Zappa, Classic Blue Note, Motown Funk and More

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38640_01_Jacket.inddWith Public Enemy’s Chuck D engaged as the Record Store Day Ambassador for 2014, it’s only appropriate that one of his own records is arriving this Saturday as a special limited edition vinyl platter. The new reissue of Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back will be joined on RSD by a host of other vinyl goodies from Universal Music Enterprises (UMe).   Previously unreleased music from Frank Zappa (previewing the upcoming 40th anniversary reissue of Apostrophe) and the seventies Motown pair of Rick James and Teena Marie will arrive from Universal, along with replicas of the first two releases ever from the venerable Blue Note Records, currently celebrating its 75th anniversary. New Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Nirvana make their mark on RSD with the first-ever seven-inch release of “Pennyroyal Tea” b/w “I Hate Myself and Want to Die,” originally scheduled for release in 1994 but pulled off the schedule in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. Universal also has a special vinyl box, Superunknown: The Singles, commemorating the 20th anniversary of Soundgarden’s Superunknown.

Hit the jump for the full specs on each title courtesy of Universal’s original press release!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 17, 2014 at 14:07

Kritzerland Premieres Rare Scores From Paul Glass and Robert Farnon on New 2-CD Set

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Paul Glass - Overlord OST

The composers represented on Kritzerland’s most recent release might not be the most widely recognized, but the label’s deluxe 2-CD set from Paul Glass and Robert Farnon should surely earn them quite a few more fans. Overlord / Disappearance / Hustle brings together two scores from Glass (b. 1934) and one from Farnon (1917-2005) on two CDs – for the price of one. Glass, also a prolific composer of “serious” music including pieces for orchestras and chamber groups, was versatile enough to tailor his style to the film he was scoring. If it called for an avant-garde approach, he could provide it. If it called for an accessible approach, he could provide that, too. Farnon is perhaps best known as a composer of “light music,” but it’s a measure of the esteem with which he was held that he was selected to arrange and conduct Frank Sinatra’s sole album recorded outside of the United States, 1962’s Sinatra Sings Songs from Great Britain. The Grammy- and Novello Award-winning composer even inspired such eminences as Andre Previn and Quincy Jones.

Overlord / The Disappearance / Hustle is limited to 1,000 units, and is scheduled to ship from Kritzerland by the first week of June. However, pre-orders placed directly with the label usually arrive an average of three to five weeks early. After the jump: Kritzerland’s original press release explains why you need to hear these scores! Plus: the full track listing and pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 17, 2014 at 13:57

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