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’ve introduced 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!
25 years ago, Mark Morrison’s smooth blend of hip-hop/R&B coalesced into an immortal club and karaoke jam called “Return of the Mack” – a No. 1 hit in his native England and a No. 2 here in the States. This summer, Warner Music is putting the album back out on vinyl as well as a planned 70(!)-track digital deluxe edition that promises rare and unreleased remixes and alternate versions. The opening salvo is this 11-track package of original “Mack” mixes, including versions from Cutfather & Joe, Mind Tricks, Sir Gant, Da Beatminerz and instrumental and a cappella versions.
Barely a minute into Rodney Dangerfield’s second album, the iconic stand-up comic offers a subdued but no less powerful version of one of his most famous joke set-ups. Long out-of-print, this 36-minute side-splitter is available digitally for $2 – a steal for such good material.
An unexpected treat for Squeeze fans showed up on streaming services today: a live version of one of their signature songs, “Cool for Cats.” As the cover image might indicate to sharp-eyed fans, this set at the legendary Fillmore West has been heard before, as both a pack-in with the so-so re-recordings album Spot the Difference and an expanded vinyl presentation issued in 2012. (Our own Mike Duquette reviewed that set wayyyyy back when.) Interestingly, that full set is available to download but not stream; perhaps this single is an indication of things about to change on that front.
One of the most hotly-anticipated albums of the year at Second Disc HQ is Dreamers Are Waiting, the forthcoming seventh studio album from Crowded House (whose frontman Neil Finn remains Mike’s favorite living songwriter). Second single “To the Island” has been getting steady play here, in part because of the novelty of multiple remixes – something most rock tracks from this corner of the scene don’t get. There’s a spiffy mix for radio and two unique electronic takes on the song by fellow Aussie/New Zealanders Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. (Worry not, physical fans: they’re also available on vinyl.)
TSD would like to take a moment to recognize some extraordinarily talented artists who recently left us. Norman Russell “Rusty” Young (1946-2021) was one of the founding members of Poco. A virtuosic steel guitarist and talented multi-instrumentalist, Young and his compatriots (rising from the ashes of Buffalo Springfield) pioneered the country-rock genre alongside such prominent figures as Gram Parsons and Michael Nesmith. While Poco’s membership fluctuated over the years, Young was the band’s lone steady presence, playing at every one of their concerts and on every Poco recording. He penned “Crazy Love,” Poco’s first top 40 Pop success (and the top AC hit of 1979) as well as “Rose of Cimarron,” originally intended for cowboy legend Roy Rogers but destined to become a Poco favorite. Rusty passed away earlier this month at 75 but not before releasing his very first solo album in 2017, Waitin’ for the Sun. Time hadn’t dulled Rusty’s passion for song or his deft musicianship. It’s available now from all streaming services alongside his other solo singles including 2017’s “Christmas Every Day,” a 2018 remake of “Crazy Love,” 2019’s “Listen to Your Heart,” and a trio from 2020: “Harmony,” “Waitin’ on You,” and an instrumental “Christmas Medley” incorporating “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Jingle Bells,” and “White Christmas.” In addition, most of Poco’s considerable discography is also streaming.
Earlier this week, we also lost The Bay City Rollers’ Les McKeown (1955-2021). The Edinburgh native wasn’t an original member – he replaced lead singer Gordon “Nobby” Clark late in 1973 – but it was his voice that carried the tartan-clad band to international superstardom. Though he was still a teenager when he joined them, charisma and vocal power were both already in abundance. McKeown scored chart-toppers on both sides of the Atlantic (“Bye Bye Baby” and “Give a Little Love” in the U.K., “Saturday Night” in the U.S.) before leaving the group in 1978 to pursue a solo career. (The band pressed on as, simply, The Rollers.) His life was filled with ups and downs; he revealed that the band’s manager had hooked him on drugs and raped him, and he tragically struck and killed an elderly neighbor in a 1975 car accident. He didn’t attain sobriety until 2008. McKeown persevered, fronting his own version of the group until his death. While his solo albums are woefully under-represented on U.S. streaming services (only his 2016 release The Lost Songs is available to stream on Spotify in the U.S.), a live album from Les McKeown’s Legendary Bay City Rollers is also streaming as well as some of the original Bay City Rollers discography. This S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y is as good a time as any to celebrate McKeown and the band’s boisterous and infectious style of pop.