Posts Tagged ‘Reissue Theory’
Welcome to yet another installment of Reissue Theory, where we celebrate notable releases and the reissues they could someday see. On the King of Pop’s birthday, we remember one of the Bad era’s least-remembered but most captivating pieces of merchandise: Michael Jackson’s first feature film.
The past year has seen quite the revival of interest in Michael Jackson’s 1987 album Bad. It’s hard to imagine an album that sold multiplatinum levels of records and spawned a record-setting five consecutive No. 1 hits might be considered “overrated” or “underrated,” but then again, how many albums have to follow up Thriller, Jackson’s magnum opus and the best-selling album in history?
In 2012, Legacy Recordings honored Bad with a lavish 25th anniversary box set featuring some intriguing unreleased demos and a captivating solo concert from London’s Wembley Arena in 1988. This year, Bad and its gems were featured in two specially-created digital box sets for iTunes, and, to time with a new Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas, Legacy released Spike Lee’s Bad 25 documentary – shown in edited form on American network television last winter – in full on DVD and Blu-Ray. (As our friends at Popblerd can tell you, it’s absolutely essential viewing for fans of all shades.)
With this level of product, it’s hard to wish that there could be just one more title to satiate fan desire. But, as is so often the case, there’s certainly one more worthy release from the Bad era – and its absence has, it seems, less to do with oversaturating the market and more to do with who has the rights. I’m talking, of course, about Jackson’s strangely captivating feature film, Moonwalker.
Intended to tie a bow around the Bad era, Moonwalker is essentially a film-length collection of short-form music videos and longer featurettes. The most present “plot” is in the nearly-hourlong film for “Smooth Criminal,” the seventh and final U.S. single from Bad (and its sixth Top 10). In it, Jackson acts as a protector to a trio of plucky kids (one of whom is Sean Lennon, John and Yoko’s son) from a group of ruthless gangsters, led by a delightfully manic Joe Pesci (a full three years before his Oscar win for Goodfellas). Car chases abound, Michael leads an elaborate Fosse/Minnelli-esque dance number to “Smooth Criminal” (complete with his newest choreographed trick, the anti-gravity lean) and…well, let’s just say you haven’t lived until you’ve seen MJ turn into a robot spaceship.
That one clip could sum up the intense, grandiose art of the Bad album – but Michael’s attention doesn’t stay that focused. Moonwalker features Michael dancing with a Claymation biker rabbit (“Speed Demon”), lampooning his own image by turning himself into a carnival (“Leave Me Alone”), covering The Beatles’ “Come Together” and overseeing a shot-for-shot remake of Martin Scorsese’s “Bad” short film starring a cast of children. Add in your usual dose of MJ mythologizing (a 10-minute montage of his accomplishments to date) and you’ve got a lengthy but rarely boring addition to the Michael Jackson catalogue.
After the jump, we talk why Moonwalker is more or less M.I.A. on DVD, and what we’d add to it if it were available!
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on notable records and the reissues they could someday see. It’s been three decades since one of the most popular and influential performers of the last 50 years released her first full-length album, and a new deluxe edition is long overdue. Here’s a look back at the first album by Madonna.
If you’ll pardon the anachronism, it wouldn’t have been unforgivable to look at Gary Heery’s photograph for the cover of Madonna’s first album and ask “Who’s that girl?” Was this really the face of the girl who’d been filling floors of New York dance clubs with her bubbly, synth-funk jams and distinctive-if-untrained voice? Someone so young, so…white?
Of course, the bottle-blonde hair, the seductive stare and the chunky, bangled jewelry are some of Madonna Louise Ciccone’s first visual hallmarks; we couldn’t have imagined her any other way in her first few years on the scene. And while we could never really have predicted the astounding upper reaches of pop and art she’d reach in the decades to come from this record alone, Madonna, released July 27, 1983, is an impressively sturdy foundation that certainly bears rediscovery.
What follows, as always, is our Reissue Theory-style look back at the album: its creation, its impact and – finally – what it could look like if Madonna and the powers-that-be ever rolled out a deluxe edition of this album. After the borderline – er, jump – we’ll take you back to 1983, where nobody quite knew how familiar they would be with that one-named pop singer.
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we spotlight notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Thirty years ago today, one of the best synth-rock bands of the 1980s released their first full-length album – as good a time as any to champion the career of Tears for Fears!
“Is it an horrific dream?
Am I sinking fast?”
- “The Hurting,” Tears for Fears
From the beginning of the first side of Tears for Fears’ debut LP, it’s honestly kind of hard to predict where they’d end up. Maybe that’s the secret to their intrigue all these years later – if not the catchy melodies and dense lyrics of their body of work.
On March 7, 1983, Phonogram Records in the U.K. issued the band’s first full-length record, The Hurting, and further pushed them down the path to international success. That said, TFF still don’t truly get their due as a group – which brings us to this revisitation of the record that started it all, so to speak.
Of course, the TFF story actually begins much earlier, somewhere in the late 1970s in the sleepy town of Bath, England. Teenagers Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith meet and decide to pool their mutual interests in making music. They first join a local group called Neon, who become known far more for what their members would accomplish after the group broke up. (Drummer Manny Elias and guitarist Neil Taylor would work with Tears for Fears throughout the next decade, while principal members/songwriters Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher formed the successful synth-pop duo Naked Eyes.)
Their first fully-formed group, a mod-cum-New Wave group called Graduate, nicks the lowest dregs of the charts and break up during the sessions for their second album. By that point, Orzabal and Smith are far less interested in making straightforward pop/rock and, despite their proficiency with stringed instruments (Orzabal on guitar, Smith on bass), experiment with synthesizers and more overt New Wave styles of production.
Also notable alongside the tonal shift is an increasing interest in psychology and its thematic effect on the duo’s songwriting. Orzabal, in particular, whose family life is decidedly non-traditional (his father managed local entertainers before suffering a nervous breakdown), becomes attracted to the works of Arthur Janov, whose primal scream therapy was championed by John Lennon in the immediate aftermath of The Beatles’ breakup. Directly inspired by a passage in The Primal Scream, Orzabal and Smith change their band name from History of Headaches to Tears for Fears, and pen songs full of drama and angst but with surprisingly deft musical chops to back it up, combining gurgling keyboard riffs courtesy of keyboardist Ian Stanley with muscular rock hooks and distinctive vocals from the full-throated tenor of Orzabal as well as the more introspective Smith. Elias’ strong drumming rounded out the initial lineup, although Orzabal and Smith have long been considered the major nucleus of the band, particularly after Stanley and Elias departed in the late ’80s.
Tears for Fears were signed to Phonogram in 1981 and get to work on several singles – none of which you’ll easily find on CD. The history behind those tracks – and the ones you know – are after the jump!
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Today, two decades after its release, we imagine an expanded edition of an album that sent an iconic ’80s band flying into the new decade – and back toward the top of the charts.
The bizarre narrative that seems to plague pop music is that, with each new decade, the trends of the last 10 years should be relegated to the past as soon as possible. The psychedelic sounds of the ’60s weren’t immediately swept away in the ’70s, but acts had to adapt considerably, lest they be drowned out by harder-edged rock, glam, disco and eventually punk rock. Those rawer styles (and even – or especially – disco) would find themselves out in the cold come the ’80s, a decade of synthesizer-based New Wave and big-haired metal.
Ironically, the secret to Duran Duran’s monolithic success in the 1980s hinged on their ability to take several trends that peaked the decade before and put a new spin on them, namely the cleanly-mixed, bottom-heavy disco overtones of groups like CHIC and the minimalist, keyboard-assisted rock approach of Roxy Music. Add a dollop of modern sensibility (namely a focus on physical appearance, served to perfection in scores of music videos for the nascent MTV), and it’s no surprise even Rolling Stone gave in to their charms, dubbing them “The Fab Five.”
That didn’t make Duran’s journey through a decade they largely owned any easier, though. By 1986, the quintet was reduced to a trio – vocalist Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and bassist John Taylor – and struggling to create music that was both artistically satisfying and commercially successful. (The criminally underrated Notorious (1986) and Big Thing (1988) did have several hit singles, including Notorious‘ title track and the latter album’s Chicago house-call “I Don’t Want Your Love.”)
Though Duran was anxious to start the decade off right – going so far as to hire touring guitarist Warren Cuccurullo (formerly of Frank Zappa’s band and Missing Persons) and touring drummer Sterling Campbell to the lineup, creating another five-piece outfit – they were tripped up by not only their inability but anyone’s inability to know which direction to move. Neither grunge nor hi-NRG dance nor Britpop had set in as musical trends, and the lack of general musical direction was twice as harmful to bands struggling to find their footing in the first place.
Whatever the cause for Duran Duran, 1990′s Liberty failed to post any hit singles, and the band’s decision to forego a tour did them no favors, either. Campbell would drift out of the lineup, and even Taylor – still battling drug addiction and testing out a marriage with model Amanda de Cadenet, who was carrying his first child – debated exiting the band.
The secret to their impending second wind was a most unexpected one, but the rewards were rich indeed. We tell that story – and imagine a reissue to celebrate that era – after the jump!
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!
Special EPCOT 30th Anniversary Reissue Theory: “The Official Album of Walt Disney World – EPCOT Center”
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Today, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of Epcot at Walt Disney World with a look back at its first and only Official Album!
“There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow/Shining at the end of every day/There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow/Just a dream away…”
Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman may have written those words, but Walt Disney lived them. Less than two months before his untimely death in late 1966, Walt Disney took his place in front of the cameras for a short, promotional film describing his vision for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. EPCOT was designed as a utopian city of the future which 20,000 residents would call home as a PeopleMover or monorail whisked them to the workplace. It would anchor Disney’s “Florida Project,” and its creator intended, in every way, to make tomorrow today. Following Disney’s unexpected death, his brother Roy O. Disney shepherded the newly-christened Walt Disney World to the opening of the Magic Kingdom and two resort hotels in 1971. But EPCOT remained on the back burner without its chief visionary.
Today, October 1, 2012, marks the 30th anniversary of EPCOT Center, known today simply as Epcot. Though EPCOT the city never became a reality, the theme park that opened on October 1, 1982 sought to embody the ideals of Disney’s planned community in an immersive, interactive campus. EPCOT’s “Future World” area embraced and celebrated technology and innovation, while “World Showcase” brought nine countries (later expanded to eleven) to Florida with indigenous dining, retail and educational experiences.
Music, of course, was a major part of the EPCOT experience. Walt Disney had always sought to give his theme parks a musical identity, much as he had given his films. Though songwriters such as Robert Moline, Buddy Baker, Xavier Atencio and the Academy Award-winning team of Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn all penned songs for EPCOT Center, the heart and soul of the project’s musical side may have been the team of Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman. The composer-lyricists of “It’s a Small World,” “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room” and “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” supplied a number of songs for EPCOT Center, returning to the Walt Disney Company at the behest of legendary Disney imagineer Marty Sklar. The Sherman brothers, Sklar intuited, would be able to bring their universal touch to tell the stories behind the very different pavilions being intended for EPCOT, both in Future World and World Showcase. A handful of their contributions, as well as those by the above-named individuals, could be heard on a 1983 Disneyland Records release that is, to date, the only album released solely to consist of the music of EPCOT Center. It was only released on LP and cassette, and never reissued or updated for commercial CD release, though a number of its tracks survived to later Walt Disney World compilation albums.
Hit the jump to explore The Official Album of Walt Disney World – EPCOT Center! Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they may someday see. Today’s installment looks back at the mighty career of the late Marvin Hamlisch and how his best songs might be compiled into a truly “Essential” release.
On Tuesday morning, August 7, news broke that composer Marvin Hamlisch had unexpectedly died the day before, at the age of 68. The worlds of music, theatre and film were all shocked, as Hamlisch’s latest musical, The Nutty Professor, had started performances in Nashville, Tennessee, and the busy conductor had continued to fulfill his concert appearances. Barbra Streisand reflected, “I’m devastated…he was a musical genius, but above all that, he was a beautiful human being.” Her sentiment was echoed by many with whom he had worked. Rupert Holmes, his lyricist on The Nutty Professor, commented, “The music of Marvin Hamlisch is invariably compassionate, charming, tender, uplifting, classy, delightful and profoundly moving. The world has not lost a note of his genius. His music will live on. What I have lost as his devoted collaborator is a friend who was invariably…compassionate, tender, uplifting, classy, delightful and often profoundly moving.” Robert Klein, star of Hamlisch’s musical They’re Playing Our Song, admitted, “He was inscrutable in some ways, but was a loving collaborator who composed the most beautiful melodies, and thankfully we are left with them. It is sad to think of all the beautiful music he would have composed in days to come.” Liza Minnelli, a childhood friend, summed it up: “I have lost my lifelong best friend, and sadly we have lost a splendid, splendid talent.”
The best way, of course, to celebrate Hamlisch’s life is with his music. Surely the man who wrote “The Way We Were” and “One [Singular Sensation]” is deserving of a retrospective collection. And so we’ve created one, Reissue Theory-style! A box set would seem most natural, with one disc devoted to his orchestral soundtrack work, another to his Broadway musicals, and a third to his pop music and hit film songs. But would it be possible to distill the essence of Marvin Hamlisch onto one disc? His was an enormously versatile talent; there’s not a signature Marvin Hamlisch sound the way there is a “Burt Bacharach sound” or a “Henry Mancini sound.” What Hamlisch’s compositions have in common is an unerring sense of melody, an open heart and a true positivity. And you’ll certainly hear some musical trademarks on these tracks.
For our not-yet-a-reality The Essential Marvin Hamlisch, we have attempted to bring together the best of all three of Hamlisch’s musical worlds, with both hit songs and some pieces which might be unfamiliar. Some amazing tracks had to fall by the wayside, all of which are every bit as worthy as those we have chosen: “At the Ballet,” from A Chorus Line, perhaps that score’s most thrillingly visceral moment. “At the Fountain,” the heart-stopping soliloquy from Sweet Smell of Success. The yearning “Disneyland” from Smile. “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,” the Lesley Gore pop hit. “Life is What You Make It,” from the film Kotch. “Cause I Believe In Loving,” an affecting song that closes Woody Allen’s Bananas in a version performed by singer Jake Holmes. The dramatic cues for films like Sophie’s Choice and Ordinary People. The list goes on and on. Hamlisch even wrote a number of songs for performers who might not usually be associated with him. The young Paul Simon recorded a demo of the song “Flame.” The Chambers Brothers, Stephanie Mills, Tevin Campbell and Peter Allen all recorded music by Marvin Hamlisch.
You can read our full tribute to Marvin Hamlisch here. Or hit the jump for our hypothetical track listing to The Essential Marvin Hamlisch, with track-by-track “liner notes” and complete discographical information as to where you can find each of these remarkable songs! Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they may someday see. Today marks the just-over-three-decade mark on a classic British LP of the ’80s that is practically screaming for a deluxe effort.
If you were brave or foolhardy enough to label Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook the heirs to the throne of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, 1981 was truly the year to do it. The British singer/songwriters and their little New Wave band that could, Squeeze, had been gigging since the ’70s and would release their fourth studio album in four years, East Side Story, in England 31 years ago today, May 15, 1981.
The album became a landmark of its times, with devout Squeeze fans across the world (a bit of an oxymoron, as all fans of Squeeze are devoted) hailing it as the band’s crowning achievement: singable, iconic, diverse pop/rock helmed by a band in full control of their powers and a famous producer willing to coax the absolute best from them. Though key track “Tempted” was never a hit on either side of the Atlantic, it stands as the band’s signature song; that’s hardly scratching the surface, though, with two other singles and a host of key album sides at play.
Reissues of the Squeeze back catalogue are a key point for any fan: Universal Music Group reissued the band’s first six albums with bonus tracks in 1997, and ten years later started a definitive campaign from the band’s entire A&M discography, issuing expanded editions of Argybargy (1980), Sweets from a Stranger (1982), Frank (1989) and Ridiculous (1995). But the campaign hasn’t gone anywhere since – and East Side Story is well atop the list of Squeeze LPs that deserve the red carpet treatment.
After the jump, we recount the making of this classic album and our vision for a quintessential version of this album on CD!
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Now that they’re safely ensconced in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s time to imagine a deluxe edition of Guns N’ Roses’ landmark debut album – and we think we made up a pretty good list.
It’s safe to say the door has finally, unquestionably closed on the classic Guns N’ Roses lineup as of this weekend, when the legendary California hard-rockers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Original members Slash, Duff McKagan and Steven Adler, as well as Use Your Illusion-era members Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke, took to the stage to perform some of their biggest hits for an enthusiastic crowd. (The other two founding members, Izzy Stradlin and W. Axl Rose, did not attend, with vocalist Rose writing a strong but somewhat-measured letter declining his honor.)
Of course, Rose has been shedding original GN’R members since the mid-’90s, and had lost all of them by 1997. And since 1993′s covers album The Spaghetti Incident? there’s only been one album of Guns material: the long-gestating, semi-passable Chinese Democracy (2008). But no matter your opinion on the mercurial frontman’s stance on the Rock Hall induction, it is near impossible to deny that when Guns N’ Roses are good – regardless of whatever drama surrounds them – they’re damned good.
And, as late ’80s rock albums and certainly debut albums go, Appetite for Destruction ranks deservedly high on the list.