Posts Tagged ‘Reissue Theory’
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on classic musical works and the reissues they could someday see. Today, Mike reflects on one of British rock’s angriest young men all grown up, and the one weird aspect of the catalogue market that has yet to be greatly exploited.
Like many of you, I’ve had an angry young man phase. You know the feelings, I’m sure. You’re a bundle of emotions and everything is just super-serious. You’re insecure but maddeningly self-assured – convinced of how cooler you are than the next hunk that walks down the street. (Some who know me might say this phase isn’t exactly over, but that’s neither here nor there.)
It’s this identification that draws us to music that evokes these feelings and spirits with exacting detail – acts like Elvis Costello or Billy Joel (who wrote a song called “Angry Young Man”) or The Knack or Cheap Trick or Ben Folds Five or – you guessed it – Joe Jackson, who kind of brilliantly crystallized and mainstreamed the typical angry young man formula in the 1970s and 1980s. After several albums of hard-charging pop/rock/New Wave (1979’s one-two punch Look Sharp! and I’m the Man, 1980’s Beat Crazy), the Royal Academy of Music-trained Jackson shifted gears toward straight jazz and jazz-pop with Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive (1981), Night and Day (1982) and Body and Soul (1984). Jackson also began his earliest dabbling in soundtracks (Mike’s Murder (1983) and Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988)) and classical composition (Will Power (1987)), prefacing the eventual directions his career would take.
But it was a killer time. Jackson, you may have forgotten, was better represented on the charts than most of his fellow British angry young men; “Is She Really Going Out with Him?,” “Steppin’ Out,” “Breaking Us in Two” and “You Can’t Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)” were all Top 40 hits in America, with “Steppin’ Out” even garnering a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. And before he crossed over into more esoteric material, Jackson did in fact give one of the best audio documents of his pop evolution: the double-album Live 1980/86, featuring four sides devoted to all his major tours at that time: Beat Crazy and The Joe Jackson Band (guitarist Gary Sanford, bassist Graham Maby and drummer David Haughton); the expanded lite-jazz ensemble from the Night and Day Tour; the full-brass orchestra of the Body and Soul Tour and a new, stripped down rock combo to promote Big World, a 1986 album of new material recorded in front of a silent live audience.
After the jump, keep reading about what made the Big World tour so exciting, and what that could mean for a catalogue title! Read the rest of this entry »
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on great albums and the reissues they could someday see. As we welcome one of our favorite ladies in rock back to her famous band, we remember their last album altogether and the pop success it enjoyed.
One of the best pieces of classic rock news to come out of this nascent year is easily the announcement of singer/keyboardist Christine McVie returning to Fleetwood Mac. McVie retired from the band (and touring in general) after the band’s incredibly successful The Dance tour in the late 1990s, leaving singer Stevie Nicks, singer/guitarist Lindsay Buckingham, bassist (and ex-husband) John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood to continue as a quartet, but made two surprise appearances with the band in England last year, later expressing her desire to rejoin the band.
While no official plans have been firmed up (beyond the possibility of a full tour), it certainly provokes one to think of the phenomenal albums the quintet have created – in particular, their final set as a quintet, 1987’s Tango in the Night. One of the band’s most modern (for its time, anyway) productions was also one of its most rapturously received, going triple platinum in the U.S. (and eight times platinum in the U.K., where it was the first Mac album since the Peter Green era to chart higher in England than the States) and spinning off four Top 40 hits. For all its success, though, it’s one of two by this lineup of the band (the other being its predecessor, 1982’s Mirage) that have not been remastered or expanded by Warner Bros./Rhino.
I think you know where this is leading, of course: after the jump, we’ll be looking out for love for Tango in the Night, and imagine what an expanded reissue might look like!
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!