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 2016 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, as in years past, 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, Randy and I have once again selected our top picks of the numerous titles being released tomorrow from many of our favorite labels, including Legacy Recordings, Real Gone Music, Omnivore Recordings, Sundazed Music, Varese Sarabande, and more. 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 more manageable than the April festivities. Without further ado, Randy’s selections come first, then my picks, then Mike’s!
Harry Nilsson, Popeye: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Varese Sarabande)
Harry Nilsson has seen numerous reissues over the years and there aren’t too many gaps left to be filled in from his catalogue. One of the major ones is his score to the 1980 musical comedy cult classic Popeye starring Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, and Paul Dooley. That is now being rectified by Varese Sarabande with this vinyl reissue. It has been expanded by two cuts from the score, put in their proper place in the album sequence. If you are a fan of Nilsson, you will greatly enjoy this quirky work as it’s a lot of fun. Hopefully, a CD reissue will come in the near future.
The Monkees, Good Times! Plus! (Rhino)
Released earlier this year in May, The Monkees’ 50th anniversary album Good Times! might have been initially met with skepticism by some, but the end result was a fun, cohesive and strong outing which proved that the surviving group members could still make good music harkening back to the heyday. (You can read Joe’s review here.) As has become the norm now for many new albums, several bonus tracks were added for various retailer exclusives. This 10″ red opaque vinyl rounds up all 4 of these bonuses together for the first time. The material here is just as strong as the cuts on the main album so if you enjoyed that, you will definitely want to pick this up.
Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff, Strung Out in Heaven (8 ft. Records)
While this isn’t really a reissue, it is a tribute to two great artists we lost this year. After David Bowie passed away in January, Palmer and Bischoff got together and recorded six Bowie songs in tribute. They then recorded a cover of “Purple Rain” in honor of Prince after his passing. First released digitally, these songs make their debut in a physical format here on 12″ vinyl. All of the songs have been arranged for string quartet and voice and are quite striking. Guests on the Bowie tracks include Anna Calvi, John Cameron Mitchell and even Neil Gaiman. A painting was also commissioned for each of the Bowie tracks and they are reproduced here. If you would like to hear the songs before you buy, they can be found at various places around the Internet such as YouTube.
Frank Sinatra, “White Christmas” b/w “The Christmas Waltz” (UMe/Capitol)
Because this is the Black Friday edition of Record Store Day, we always like to include something for the holidays in here. And you certainly can’t go wrong with Sinatra’s timeless recordings of these Christmas classics. While there certainly is nothing rare about these recordings, this is one of those collectable Record Store Day replicas. In this case, this new reissue is of the Italian version of the single, which was released in 1959, five years after its initial U.S. debut.
Bob Dylan, The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert (Columbia/Legacy)
Due to some confusion over the years, the infamous Bob Dylan concert with the cry of “Judas!” was labelled as being “The Royal Albert Hall Concert.” As it turns out, that performance was actually in Manchester, England. Now, Dylan’s real performance from Royal Albert Hall in 1966 has been released to the public, newly mixed by Chris Shaw. This concert, one of two RAH dates played by Dylan, has of course already been released on CD as part of a 36-disc box set and as a standalone 2-CD set (you can read Joe’s review here). But if you would prefer to hear it on vinyl, this concert is a winner showing Dylan at one of the most interesting times of his career. (Please note that as of this writing, this appears to have disappeared from the official list of releases on the Record Store Day website. We’ve gotten no word of a cancellation, and we can confirm that this release has appeared in some stores already – but there is a chance this won’t be at your local record store tomorrow.)
And now for Joe’s picks!
Charles Fox, Barbarella: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Varese Vintage)
The long out-of-print soundtrack to the sci-fi camp classic Barbarella is back in its first authorized reissue – remastered from the original analog source tapes! Music doesn’t get much groovier than this swinging sixties soundtrack from two of our favorite songwriters, Charles Fox and Bob Crewe – and if that’s not enough, this reissue is pressed on a picture disc of Jane Fonda in one of her most indelible roles! The Barbarella soundtrack has never looked – or sounded – this good!
Love is a Drag – For Adult Listeners Only: Sultry Stylings by a Most Unusual Vocalist (Sundazed/Modern Harmonic)
Here’s quite possibly the most unusual title for Black Friday Record Store Day – and a reissue of what was certainly the rarest. Upon its release in 1962, Love is a Drag caused quite a stir. What was so scandalous about an album featuring straightforward, beautifully sung renditions of some of the most timeless standards of all time, including “The Boy Next Door,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “The Man I Love,” “Stranger in Paradise,” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man”? Love is a Drag was sung by male big-band vocalist Gene Howard backed by an elite group of jazz’s best musicians…with no pronoun changes to the lyrics. Fearful of destroying any careers, the Edison International label issued it on a specially-made imprint called Lace. Happily, things have changed, and the veil of mystery that once shrouded this taboo, underground LP has been lifted. Frank Sinatra, Liberace, and Bob Hope were all reportedly fans of this heartfelt and “most unusual” record – and now you can hear this lost classic for yourself. This fascinating piece of LGBT music history arrives on both gold vinyl pressed at RTI and on compact disc.
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Got a Mind to Give Up Living (Real Gone Music)
Earlier this year, Real Gone Music premiered one of its most exciting titles, a never-before-issued live document of the blazing blues-rock sounds of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Got a Mind to Give Up Living was recorded in May 1966 in Boston, just two months before the release of East-West. With Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield in the line-up, the group never sounded more electrifying as they ran through such varied songs as Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out of My Life, Woman,” Nat Adderley’s “Work Song,” Smokey Robinson’s “One More Heartache,” and Ben Tucker’s “Comin’ Home Baby” (a Mel Tormé hit in its vocal version). This showcase of fiery musicianship is being pressed on “butter” yellow and “bloom” blue vinyl for this RSD limited edition!
The Turtles, Golden Hits Vol. 1 (Manifesto/FloEdCo)
Earlier this year, Manifesto Records gave the definitive box set treatment to The Turtles, and now the label turns its attention to the band’s 1967 all-killer, no-filler greatest hits collection. All of the band’s early smashes are here – “You Baby,” “Happy Together,” “She’d Rather Be with Me,” “Let Me Be,” “It Ain’t Me Babe” and so on; it’s pure pop gold, indeed. (“Elenore” would have to wait until Volume Two, More Golden Hits!) We’re looking forward to the high sonic and presentational standard of The Complete Original Album Collection on this new vinyl release!
Various Artists, Out in the Streets Again: The Soul Sounds of Scepter Records (Sundazed)
This new vinyl collection looks to be as hot as the red vinyl on which it’s pressed! Scepter Records might be best known today as the home of Dionne Warwick’s classic recordings, but the New York label founded by pioneering executive Florence Greenberg also gave a home to The Shirelles, B.J. Thomas, Chuck Jackson, Maxine Brown, and numerous other stars of soul and pop. In addition, Greenberg nurtured a stable of some of the finest songwriters and producers in modern popular music, including Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Luther Dixon, Van McCoy, and Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Sundazed has celebrated the remarkable, and oft-overlooked, legacy of Scepter with 15 tracks of the label at its best, with vintage soulful stylings from The Shirelles, B.J. Thomas, Tommy Hunt, Candy and The Kisses, Johnny Maestro, Ronnie Milsap, and more. All of these rare floor-filling tracks are presented in their original mono mixes, and the whole shebang is presented with beautiful period detail. We’re in!
Finally, here are Mike’s picks! Happy Hunting!
Why do we love Record Store Day? Heck, why do we love reissues? To tell stories, new and perhaps forgotten, with the help of music we adore. I had no clue of the story behind “Do Your Thing” from Isaac Hayes’ Shaft soundtrack–that it was originally twice as long as what we heard on the original! These are the kinds of stories I want to see when handing over my money to my favorite record stores, and this release (complete with liner notes by Bill Dahl) looks like it’ll live up to my hopes and dreams.
Geto Boys, Mind Playing Tricks on Me (RapALot)
This 1991 hip-hop classic (which also features Hayes, in the form of a sample from the Tough Guys soundtrack) also tells its own story that deserves to be heard. Not just in the lyrics, which create a sobering portrait of paranoid instability springing from urban crime, but in the release itself, meant to raise awareness of mental health issues as well as money for The JED Foundation, which promotes mental health and stability among teenagers. Without getting too heavy-handed, that’s a message I think we need to hear this year, and I applaud those involved for bringing the good fight into the picture while creating something neat for the fans out there.
It’s nice to see a decent amount of hip-hop titles on the books for Black Friday, and Rhino’s first in a new series of rap classics alongside the tracks they sampled is very inspired. I’m sort of confused it’s a 45 and not a 12″ (the ideal format to hear either “Rapper’s Delight” or “Good Times”) but I’m really stoked to see where this goes.