While The Second Disc prides itself on connecting people to reissues and box sets they can keep on their shelves, it's no secret that listening audiences are also digital - catalogue music lovers, too - and our passion is connecting people to music from the past that they might adore. So we're introducing a new Saturday feature: The Weekend Stream, which focuses on hidden gems that recently made it to digital channels that might make your playlists a little brighter!
Back in the halcyon days of fall 2006, when Facebook was not yet open to the public, piano pop-rocker Ben Folds invited fans into his Nashville studio for a live concert on the day's most popular social networking site: MySpace. While that site has gone the way of Friendster or Quibi, the concert was issued on CD and LP by Real Gone Music back in 2019 and now makes its way to streaming and download spaces.
The set features favorites from his then most-recent album Songs for Silverman ("Bastard," "Jesusland"), tracks from his 2003-2004 EP series ("There's Always Someone Cooler Than You," "All U Can Eat"), a handful of classics by Ben Folds Five ("Kate," "Army") and even a killer cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights." While Folds has decided to streamline the track list of this digital release, eliminating un-PC moments like a perplexing cover of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" by comedian Greg Roman (in the drag/fascist get-up "Titler") or a it-seemed-funny-at-the-time cover of Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit" - both are on the disc for the completionists - there are bonuses in the way of five extra live-in-studio tracks released exclusively to iTunes back in 2005.
The teenaged Tevin Campbell burst onto the R&B scene in the '90s with two big co-signs: Quincy Jones, whose "Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)" featured the young singer and shot to No. 1 on the R&B chart; and Prince, who featured Tevin in one of the ill-conceived Purple Rain sequel Graffiti Bridge's best sequences. (His featured song, "Round and Round," was one of the album's biggest pop hits.)
But sophomore album I'm Ready featured some of his biggest pop crossovers as well as deeply mature work. Babyface and Darryl Simmons wrote and produced the Top 10 hits "Can We Talk" and the title track, Narada Michael Walden introduced shimmering soul like "Don't Say Goodbye Girl" (co-written by Burt Bacharach) and "What Do I Say" (co-penned by New Edition's Johnny Gill). And Prince paid it forward with three scintillating songs: the sensual "Shhh" (later included on The Artist's The Gold Experience) and a pair of biting political statements in "Paris1798430" and "Uncle Sam." If you missed this back in '93, don't make the same mistake now.
With Valentine's Day happening tomorrow, Rod Stewart is putting you in the mood for romance with a new streaming-only "playlist" featuring some romantic hits and a few surprises. There's familiar tunes like "Have I Told You Lately," "The First Cut is the Deepest," "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" and the '80s earworm "Love Touch" - and for the completists, five songs are available digitally for the first time: "Faith of the Heart" (from the film Patch Adams), "Careless with Our Love" (a Japanese bonus track from 1998's When We Were the New Boys), "Kiss Her for Me" (a 2016 cut from Scottish singer/songwriter Frankie Miller's Double Take), and non-LP B-sides "Love in the Right Hands" and "One Night."
One of the most important albums of all time, Carole King's Tapestry turned 50 years old this week with a considerable bang, in part thanks to the legendary songwriter's surprise nomination for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (King was inducted as a non-performer alongside ex-husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin in 1990; this nomination is for performance.) So it's fitting that an outtake from the Tapestry sessions, released as a CD bonus track in 1999 but abandoned by subsequent reissues, now finds a home as a standalone single.
Old and New
A few not-exactly-catalogue singles have us thinking about current and recent pop trends and how performance and production, combined with a sturdy song, always makes for a winning combination. This week, Taylor Swift announced that Fearless (Taylor's Version) will hit stores April 9 - her first in a series of re-recordings of her albums for Big Machine after the masters were sold to record mogul/rival Scooter Braun. Artists have re-recorded works for many reasons (as our own Mike Duquette once pointed out in a 2019 piece for City Pages that is sadly not currently archived) but nothing on the level of Swift's reach and fame. Luckily, the first single, a re-recorded version of 2008 Top 5 hit "Love Story," sticks to the sonic qualities that made the original so great, while offering a modicum of maturity reflective of the older, wiser Swift performing it this time around. (iTunes / Spotify)
We'll leave you with another unique pop cover of sorts, albeit a far more literal one. Singer/songwriter/pianist Julian Velard, whose work we're quite a fan of here, just dropped a cover of Post Malone's 2019 chart-topper "Circles." While Velard has admitted his interest in playing in the space of new-ish pop (both then and now), his killer delivery of a simple, singable song deserves a home on your speakers. (Bandcamp / iTunes / Amazon / Spotify)