From all of us here at Second Disc HQ to all of you, we hope you’re enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving in the company of family and friends. Of course, from this day which conjures nostalgic and warm feelings comes a celebration of a different kind with this year’s annual Black Friday – the day for consumers to start off the holiday shopping season on a mad, frenetic note. But 2015 is just in the latest year in which numerous retailers in the U.S. have made headlines by blackening Thursday, or Thanksgiving Day itself, with sales starting on the holiday. So we’ll continue to give thanks that the folks behind Record Store Day are waiting until the traditional Friday for the second of their twice-yearly events.
In keeping with tradition, Mike and I have once again selected our picks for the crème de la crème of titles being released tomorrow from many of our favorite labels, including Legacy Recordings, Real Gone Music, Omnivore Recordings, Rhino Records, Varese Sarabande, and more. This year, we’re joined by Randy, the newest member of Team Second Disc. Don’t hesitate to head over and drop by your local independent record store tomorrow, and don’t fear the crowds. With everybody at the mall and the big boxes, the Black Friday RSD event is usually a bit more manageable than the April festivities. Without further ado, Randy’s selections come first, then my picks, then Mike’s!
The Isley Brothers, Groove With You…Live! (T-Neck/Legacy)
This is exactly the kind of release record labels should be releasing on Record Store Day. Earlier this year, Legacy released the phenomenal Isley Brothers box set The RCA Victor and T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983). Among the many discs in that set was a CD, Wild in Woodstock, featuring a host of Isley favorites recorded at Bearsville Studios in 1980. These sessions were originally intended to be part of a “live” double-album. In the tradition of earlier times, the Isleys recorded the songs in the studio and added in crowd noise later. The finished live album was turned into CBS Records, who rejected it. Now, Legacy is releasing the album as it was originally intended – as it was submitted to CBS back in 1980. This new 180-gram version perfectly recreates what the album would have looked like at it been released by T-Neck back in the day. The only exception to that is that the LPs are colored gold and blue. While not historically accurate, they do look neat! The tracklisting of the new “live” version is in a different order than the studio tracks on the box set and the album features one additional song: “Take Me to the Next Phase.” While the idea of a fake “live” album may seem outdated, you can’t hear the trickery while listening to the album and the music is dynamic and exciting. This is a great complement to the box set and even if you don’t own that collection, this is a lost album that any Isley Brothers fan should want in their collection. As no CD version has been announced, take the opportunity to pick this up and hear what you missed in 1980!
Linda Ronstadt’s second solo album for Capitol Records celebrates its 45th anniversary this year and Varese has this 180-gram vinyl to commemorate the occasion. Still trying to find her sound after the breakup of the Stone Poneys, Ronstadt teamed with producer Elliot Mazer (recommended by Janis Joplin) to craft a record with a much more country sound than previous efforts. While overshadowed by her later hugely successful recordings, Silk Purse is an excellent album filled with great vocal performances by Ronstadt. Her take on Goffin and King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” is sublime. Of course, the album’s and Ronstadt’s breakthrough single, “Long, Long, Time” is a classic. While Silk Purse has been released on CD before and there is nothing previously unreleased on this reissue, you just can’t go wrong here. Bill Pitzonka has exactingly reproduced the original release artwork and labels, and the album has been newly remastered for vinyl by Steve Massie.
I’m originally from a city near Indianapolis, and we don’t have a wide array of musical releases from the city – so I thought this limited-edition 12-inch vinyl was rather neat! Back in 1959, jazz legends Wes Montgomery and Eddie Higgins teamed up to perform at a jazz club in Indianapolis and their set was recorded. This is the only documented time that guitarist Montgomery and pianist Higgins performed together. The recording was never released and has remained in the hands of private collectors all of these years. Resonance Records (who has issued other releases from Indiana native Montgomery) is finally bringing this concert to the public. As the recording was never intended to be released at the time, the sound isn’t pristine but the quality of the music more than makes up for that. A CD version of this is scheduled for January, but you can hear it hear it here first and on the format it would have been heard on in the 1950s.
The A-side of this single is taken from the album of the same name which came out in October. It combined old Presley vocals with newly recorded music by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. The lavish end result was better than expected with the new orchestral arrangements sounding largely of a piece with the originals. Yet the most interesting tracks were the ones which differed the most from the originals; some tracks already had an orchestra on the original recordings and the new versions offered fuller instrumentation. If you were a fan of the hit album or just want to sample it, the selling point of this single is the B-side “Anything That’s Part of You” which was previously only available on the deluxe edition not released in the United States.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1960s’ Batman television show and to celebrate it, Legacy has issued this yellow-colored single featuring the legendary composer Neal Hefti’s iconic theme song. The show starring Adam West, Burt Ward, and some of the greatest and most off-the-wall guest stars in TV history is a camp classic which finally got released on Blu-ray and DVD last year. It never grows old hearing the catchy theme. The new single is backed with the groovy strains of “The Batusi” (showing just how ridiculous the show could be) and it replicates the text from the original LP from 1966. A neat collectible for Bat-fans!
And now, Joe’s selections…
2015 has been Brian Wilson’s year. His biopic Love and Mercy opened to great acclaim and is even generating Oscar buzz. He released a well-received album, No Pier Pressure, and has been touring to appreciative audiences. So naturally, Brian is a part of our Record Store Day Black Friday line-up with a blue swirl 2-LP vinyl debut for the 2000 expanded edition of his debut solo album. 1988’s Brian Wilson was written and recorded in the midst of the turmoil depicted in Love and Mercy, yet as always, Brian delivered the light with an exceptional, emotional album. Of course, the highlight of Brian Wilson is the song which gave the movie its title. The tender “Love and Mercy” opened the album, and has since become a fan favorite and perennial concert closer. Brian Wilson also features writing and/or production collaborations with Jeff Lynne (also experiencing great success in 2015), The Dream Academy’s Nick Laird-Clowes, Andy Paley, Russ Titelman and Lenny Waronker on a varied group of songs ranging from pop nuggets to the SMiLE-evoking “Rio Grande” – all with the richly textured harmonies and melodic depth expected from the Beach Boys leader. The expanded edition offers a window into the creation of many album tracks and appends other Wilson tracks from the same period, as well. We can’t wait to revisit it on vinyl!
The Zombies – enjoying a fresh run of success themselves with both a new album and tour celebrating their landmark album Odessey and Oracle – recorded a rich variety of music for the BBC, including not just their own songs but covers of classics from the songbooks of Motown, Bo Diddley, Bacharach and David, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Curtis Mayfield, Little Anthony and the Imperials and others! Now, Varese Vintage and producers Cary Mansfield and Andrew Sandoval have curated the most comprehensive collection yet of the band’s BBC recordings on this impressive double vinyl set including never-before-released performances and band interviews. Boasting an essay by Sandoval, full credits for each track (including previous appearances), new remastering and more, The BBC Radio Sessions showcases Rod Argent, Colin Blunstone and The Zombies’ effortless synthesis of pop, rock, soul and R&B. It’s a significant addition to the band’s seminal yet slim discography.
As many of you reading this know, we’re big Christmas music fans here at The Second Disc! And we think that a fine seasonal accompaniment to our own Second Disc Records/Real Gone Music compact disc Christmas releases from Jim Nabors and Lynn Anderson (ALERT: shameless plug!) will be this joyful little RSD-exclusive platter first released on vinyl in 1954. The original Christmas Cheer collected Les and Mary’s 1951 recordings of “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night” and added their 1953 “White Christmas” as well as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” This 10-inch vinyl reissue pressed in equal quantities of red and green vinyl adds “Jungle Bells (Dingo-Dango-Day)” from 1953 and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” from 1955 for a complete collection of the husband and wife team’s festive recordings for Capitol. This is a nostalgic holiday must from the legendary guitarist and his velvet-voiced wife and musical partner!
Omnivore Recordings might just be the most prolific purveyor of power pop today – and much of that reputation rests upon on the label’s dedication in exploring the vital works of Alex Chilton and Big Star and seeing that the cult band’s music reaches new audiences. Omnivore’s chronicling of the Big Star story continues today with the Jesus Christ EP featuring the original album version of the seasonal song recorded for the band’s Third plus the demo version (which first appeared on the Keep an Eye on the Sky box set) and five previously unissued tracks (including two instrumental demos by Chris Bell), for a total of seven cuts on the EP. Most excitingly, this title serves as a preview of Omnivore’s 2016 release of the box set Complete Third. Unheard Big Star music rarely disappoints, so we can’t wait to add this beautifully-designed blue vinyl platter (which also contains a helpful download card!) to our collection.
In 1971, Johnny Cash took the stage in Denmark, bringing his singular brand of what’s now called Americana to that country. His revue was an expansive one – featuring his friend Carl Perkins, The Tennessee Three (Marshall Grant, W.S. “Fluke” Holland and Bob Wootton), The Carter Family (Mother Maybelle, Helen, Anita and of course, June) and The Statler Brothers (Harold Reid, Don Reed, Phil Balsley and Lew DeWitt). The setlist drew on The Man in Black’s recent country and pop favorites (such as three tracks from Kris Kristofferson’s pen), rockabilly classics, deeply-felt gospel and beyond, including three duets with June, solo spotlights for all of his guests, and even a grand finale with all performers joining for “Children Go Where I Send Thee.” Cash’s performance was preserved on DVD in 2006 but until now has never been available in an audio format. Man in Black: Live in Denmark captures the artist at the height of his powers for a passionate, committed, spirited, moving and fun performance with a grand troupe of players. This double-LP set, newly remastered by Vic Anesini, will arrive on standard CD on December 4, but this vinyl edition is pressed on red and white vinyl (the colors of the flag of Denmark). It makes for a rousing treat from the Man in Black.
And now, Mike brings us home!
I don’t remember how many Record Store Day Black Fridays there have been since Record Store Day itself began, but I know it’s getting tougher and tougher to stand out in a time when vinyl just seems like a regular part of the marketplace now. (Yes, I know even the gains that vinyl has made roughly equals vinyl numbers from 1996, but it’s a different era altogether.) Have you been to a Barnes & Noble lately? The nearest locations to my apartment and office, respectively, have music sections that are probably half vinyl. It isn’t as much of an “outlier” thing as it used to be, and as such, there’s maybe less of a demand for vinyl products that really make a mark.
Despite this, I have found five titles among the long list of RSD exclusives that I would love to add to my library. And of course, let’s not forget that on Black Friday (and every day, frankly, it’s less about getting cool stuff into your collection than it is going out and supporting your local record store.
For much of my post-high school life, Neil Finn has been one of the most valued songwriters in my library. From Split Enz and Crowded House to his own fruitful solo career, Finn has been my emotional rock more than once. Paul Kelly, on the other hand, is new to me–though his credits are as admirable and effective as Finn’s–but judging by the track list of Goin’ Your Way, a record that will finally enjoy a stateside release from the fine folks at Omnivore, it looks like Kelly surely brings out the best in Finn. Just about all my personal favorites from Finn’s pen are on this record, which makes me all the more excited to discover Kelly’s repertoire in kind.
While I wasn’t one of the thousands of kids traumatized by The Transformers: The Movie in 1986 (Optimus Prime getting killed in the first act? I mean, come on!), I totally dig the soundtrack, one of the best blends of ’80s kitsch-cool I can think of. Stan Bush’s “The Touch,” Lion’s “Transformers Theme,” “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Dare to Be Stupid” and a host of Vince DiCola score tracks make this a hell of a workout mix. But the package is totally eye-popping: two colored discs with etchings on Sides A(utobot) and D(ecepticon), and an interchangeable jacket adorned with classic G1 Transformer designs that make you want to make that Transformer sound effect (you know the one) when you flip it. I’ve always got a soft spot for cool packages, and Transformers is no different.
The last year or so has been all about belatedly getting into the progenitors of punk–MC5, Television, what have you–so I’m excited that Real Gone Music is expanding The Dictators’ wild 1975 debut album Go Girl Crazy! for its 40th anniversary. While I wait for that disc to arrive, I may seek out The Next Big Thing, a 10″ EP featuring an offering of the bonus material from that reissue, including three new remixes by Andrew W.K. and three outtakes. It’s perfect for the Handsome Dick Manitoba fan in your life.
I’ve been belatedly collecting entries in The Paul McCartney Archive Collection, and in adding Pipes of Peace to my library…well, it’s not the best McCartney record. Paul seemed to want to add some goofy charm to his Tug of War leftovers, and it doesn’t really jell for me. But as a Michael Jackson superfan, I do adore “Say Say Say”–it’s certainly better than the other Michael-Macca duet, Thriller‘s weak “The Girl is Mine”–and I found Mark “Spike” Stent’s new mix of the song, a bonus track for Pipes, to be pretty neat, reminiscent of Jellybean Benitez’s original 12″ with a bit of a new kick (and some cool unheard MJ vocals, too). That mix, backed with Jellybean’s original 12″ instrumental, will be something worth kicking it to on my turntable.
Blame it on my age or my upbringing, but I’ve never, ever disliked Phil Collins. And in my own contrary way, the once-mainstream disdain for him has made me even more willing to ride for the man, silly hair, big drums and all. Now, it seems, the dislike for him is acknowledged as mostly misplaced, and word of his “comeback”–a desire to perform again, and a series of reissues and memoir on the way in 2016–has been met with some real enthusiasm among the faithful. On the audio side, there’s not much new about this reissue of the “In the Air Tonight” single, but the 12-page comic book included (the origin of which I’m not terribly certain of) might be a fun read while I wait for those reissues to release.
Now it’s your turn! Please let us know what YOUR picks are!