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!
Duran Duran, Medazzaland / Pop Trash / (Reach Up for the) Sunrise (Jason Nevins Remix) / Astronaut / Red Carpet Massacre / TV Mania, Bored with Prozac and the Internet? (Tape Modern/BMG Rights Management)
Medazzaland: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Pop Trash: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Sunrise: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Astronaut: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Red Carpet: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
TV Mania: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
A semi-lost decade of Duran Duran is now digitally available again! The Birmingham band was down to a trio of singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and guitarist Warren Cuccurullo when they released 1997’s quirky Medazzaland. (Le Bon suffered from intense writers block at this time, and writing/production duties fell to Rhodes and Cuccurullo under their TV Mania moniker – more on that in a second.) Sales were low and Capitol opted against releasing the album in the band’s home country – an obvious blow – and dropped Duran, giving them control of the album on the way out. Follow-up Pop Trash, issued by Disney’s Hollywood Records in 2000, wasn’t a success either, though both have their moments.
2003 saw the original line-up – Le Bon, Rhodes, guitarist Andy Taylor, bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor – reunite for a successful world tour. A single, “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise,” remixed by Jason Nevins, was eventually followed by a sturdy album, 2004’s Astronaut; a follow-up called Reportage was scrapped by then-label Epic in favor of Red Carpet Massacre, a deeply divisive album featuring production by Timbaland and Justin Timberlake and no input from Andy. (They’ve been a quartet ever since.)
Though the latter two albums had been in place with extant deals with Sony, the rights were due to revert back to the band, who’ve now internationally licensed all four of these albums they control (plus Nick and Warren’s long-lost late ’90s TV Mania experimental album, released in 2013) to BMG Rights Management – who, one will presume, will handle their long-in-the-works 15th album. Perhaps physical reissues may follow – but until then, your digital playlists can now be considered complete.
Madonna, Bedtime Story / Frozen (Warner/Rhino)
The announcement this weekend of another digital suite of Madonna remixes – this time to the title track of 1993’s Bedtime Stories – might obscure the fact that another (the excellent “Frozen” from 1998’s Ray of Light) was also released last weekend as well. There may be no rhyme or reason to how these are coming out, but until fans get their wish of some sort of reissue or box set campaign, these are certainly welcome.
Monk Montgomery, Reality / Thad Jones & Mel Lewis, Potpourri / The Dells, I Salute You (Philadelphia International Records/Legacy)
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Philadelphia International Records label – and we’re more than happy to be the ones to let you know that a few hidden treasure albums from the label are now out digitally. (Somehow, we didn’t think you’d be as interested in new remixes of MFSB’s signature “T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia)” – how do you improve upon perfection?) Some jazz comes to Philly courtesy of bassist Monk Montgomery and 1974’s Reality as well as Potpourri, a 1977 effort by the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra featuring big band arrangements of The O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money” and even two tracks by Stevie Wonder (“Don’t You Worry About a Thing” and “Living for the City,” a Grammy nominee for its arrangement.) And doo-wop group The Dells celebrated their 40th anniversary in 1992 courtesy of Gamble & Huff’s production on I Salute You.
A bit of moral relativism: We love setting up The Weekend Stream every week, but we do want to make clear we’re aware of the flaws of streaming. In addition to sound quality and tangibility issues that Second Disc HQ have a myriad of opinions on, there’s the unavoidable issue that streaming revenue for artists is paltry and Spotify’s justifications in the past have been suspect.
With that in mind, we’d like to point out the tremendous efforts of the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers, who earlier this week staged a series of demonstrations as part of their “Justice at Spotify” campaign and provoked a response of sorts from the streaming giant! While the merits of that response are debatable, let it be known that this is what organized action and effort can achieve. We are proud to offer the UMAW our support and urge our dear readers to keep supporting musicians however you can in these difficult times.