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 feature: The Weekend Stream, which focuses on hidden gems that recently made it to digital channels that might make your playlists a little brighter!
An 80th birthday treat for Otis Williams, the last surviving member of the original Motown hitmakers, Emperors of Soul takes its name from the 5CD box set of the same name issued in 1994. This 25-track collection features all of the songs that were exclusive to that compilation, with just about all of them digitally available for the first time. In addition to alternates ("Since I Lost My Baby"), outtakes ("Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)") and a capella renditions (a vocal-only "My Girl"), Emperors includes four tracks that were new at the time of the box's release.
Ike & Tina Turner, Feel Good / Live! The World of Ike & Tina / Nutbush City Limits / The Gospel According to Ike & Tina / Sweet Rhode Island Red / Delilah's Power / Airwaves (United Artists)
Feel Good: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Live: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Nutbush: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Gospel: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Sweet: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Delilah's: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Airwaves: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
This weekend, Tina Turner becomes a deserved solo inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, having been inducted alongside her abusive ex-husband Ike in 1991. The story of their life together is shocking in its violence, but Tina was constantly rising above the carnage on record, as showcased by these seven new-to-digital albums. Nutbush City Limits included the duo's last big hit, which remained a tour de force part of Tina's solo set; even Delilah's Power and Airwaves, released after Tina escaped Ike's clutches, have their moments of raw power.
Connie Francis, Connie Francis Sings "Never on Sunday" (MGM) / Connie Francis Sings American Fantasies / Connie Francis Sings Screen Hits / Connie Francis Sings Country & Western Hits (Polydor)
A quartet of themed Connie Francis albums - but only one of them is original! Sings "Never on Sunday" is a Top 15 album from 1961 - one of her first of many in the decade to be recorded in Nashville - featuring a decade's worth of great songs from movies: "Love Me Tender," "Three Coins in the Fountain," "High Noon," "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" and more. The other three, by comparison, are actually Japanese two-fers released on CD in 1990. American Fantasies combines the repertoire of Hawaii Connie (1968) and Greatest American Waltzes (1963); Sings Screen Hits features everything from SIngs "Never on Sunday" plus 11 songs from across her catalogue that also fit the theme; and Country & Western brings in two dozen songs of the genre, including all of a 1964 duets album with a young Hank Williams, Jr. It's a bit confusing, but a fun exercise for fans to discover one of the first big female pop stars of the 20th century.
Ghostface Killah, Ironman (25th Anniversary) / Camay/Daytona 500 (Epic/Certified/Legacy)
The Wu-Tang solo takeover continued in 1996 with the release of Ghostface Killah's solo debut, a No. 2 album in America that featured team-ups with fellow Wu-Tang clan members The RZA, Raekwon, Capadonna, Method Man, Masta Killa and U-God. This new reissue's sole bonus track is a remix of "All That I Got is You," a duet with Mary J. Blige - but a separate EP features radio edits and instrumentals of the tracks "Camay" and "Daytona 500."
Ice Cube's sophomore solo album, released in 1991, was even harder and angrier than debut AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, with pointed verses wrapped around G-funk beats. Here, Ice was at his most incendiary, taking aim at corrupt cops, racial profilers, gun activists, and - for the first time, on the all-time diss track "No Vaseline" - his former groupmates in N.W.A. For its 30th anniversary, it's been expanded with three tracks from a 25th anniversary reissue plus his latest solo track, this year's "Trying to Maintain."
True to its name, Lionel's sixth album, released in 2000, brought him back in a big way. For the first time since the '80s, Richie had a Top 10 album in Europe - and the dance hit "Angel" also reached the U.K. Top 20. This expanded Renaissance offers thrice the tracks of the original album: ex-U.S. bonus cuts, three live versions of classic hits, and remixes galore of "Angel," "Don't Stop the Music" and "The One."
What was more shocking in the late summer of 1991: the pointed lyrics of "Word to the Badd!!" - a diss track directed to Michael Jackson - or the man behind them: his brother and onetime close confidante Jermaine? It was a hell of a way to promote his 13th solo album You Said (and indeed, it dented the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100), but it was released with different lyrics - none about anyone's changing skin tones - when the album came out in America. Audiences didn't jell to the collaboration between Jackson and New Jack sires L.A. Reid and Babyface, but a Japanese reissue of the album in the late '00s canonized both versions of "Badd" along with a few extended remixes - and it's now all available digitally.
Old 97's fourth album saw them start to move away from the alt-country style they'd built their early fan base on toward a slightly more power-pop oriented direction. Greatly expanded on vinyl earlier this month by the Run Out Grooves label, that triple-vinyl line-up is now available digitally, offering two mixes of the album (including a new one by Grammy-winning Nashville pro Vance Powell) and 10 unreleased demos.
Released earlier this summer, the fourth album from Scottish electronic act CHVRCHES avoids the more mainstream pop touches of their last album, 2018's Love is Dead, offering some of their smartest songwriting in years (the personal "He Said She Said," featuring honest, strong-willed lyrics from frontwoman Lauren Mayberry; and the moody "How Not to Drown," which earns legitimacy as one of the best Cure songs The Cure never made with guest vocals from Robert Smith himself). Now it includes three dark tracks cut from the same sessions: "Killers," "Screaming" and "Bitter End."
One of the most nakedly joyful kitchen-sink pop singles of the late '90s or any era, New Radicals' "You Get What You Give" finally lent mainstream attention to its architects: singer/songwriter Gregg Alexander and songwriter/keyboardist Danielle Brisebois, who'd been toiling in obscurity making misunderstood pop classics through the late '80s and '90s. (Brisebois, known as the cloying niece written into All in the Family when it became Archie Bunker's Place, put out two albums for Epic and RCA that are worth your time.) Of course, the moral decay of the music business Alexander sang so trenchantly about caused New Radicals to dissolve shortly after "Give" dented the U.S. Top 40; nearly everything the duo's done since then has been brief, brilliant and behind the scenes (Santana and Michelle Branch's "The Game of Love," the brilliant, Oscar-nominated "Lost Stars" from John Carney's Begin Again). Nearly a year after New Radicals' brief, improbable one-off reunion for Joe Biden's presidential inauguration, their biggest hit is redelivered digitally as an EP, including non-LP track "To Think I Thought" and the title track to their sole album, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too.
Indigo Girls, Hope Alone / Our Deliverance / Perfect World (Epic)
Three EPs from the Become You and All That We Let In eras collect alternate and live versions of tracks from the Indigo Girls' early '00s albums - and, unless there's something up Legacy's sleeve we're not thinking of, this should complete the label's healthy reorganization of the folk duo's work concerning material they control across digital channels.
Though Syreeta's fourth album, released in 1980, is new to digital services, it is unfortunately not expanded as advertised. But don't let that stop you from checking out one of her most eclectic releases. Syreeta (not to be confused with her identically-titled debut album from 1972) features the least of her ex-husband Stevie Wonder, though she does sing two songs she co-wrote with him in the early '70s: "Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours" and "Blame It on the Sun." Elsewhere, there's collaborations with producers Richard Perry, Hal Davis and Jerry Peters, as well as more duets with Billy Preston, following their Top 5 smash "With You I'm Born Again."
1980's self-titled Eloise Laws, on the Liberty label, reintroduced the singer who had previously recorded for ABC and Capitol. The album was Eloise's second to be produced by lyricist Linda Creed; whereas the Philly soul legend had previously teamed with arranger-conductor Gene Page for Eloise's ABC LP, this time she brought aboard her closest collaborator: Thom Bell. Thom supplied the plush settings surrounding Eloise's distinctive vocals on reimagined versions of Bell/Creed classics (The Stylistics' "You Are Everything," "If You Don't Watch Out") and new songs including those written by Creed with Diane Bernstein and Bruce Hawes. Philly's finest - Bill Neale, Bob Babbitt, Charles Collins, Larry Washington, Ron Tyson, The Sweethearts of Sigma, and Don Renaldo's Horns and Strings - all appear on this underrated soul classic now streaming.
Around the same time that Columbia introduced the world to Mariah Carey, Motown Records had their own multi-octave singer with a street-soul edge: Shanice, whose "I Love Your Smile" hit No. 2 on the American pop charts. This 1995 collection features rare mixes of "Smile" alongside later singles like "Turn Down the Lights," "I Like" and "I Wish," all of which appeared on her second album for the label, 1994's 21...Ways to Grow.
Kim Carnes, Kim Carnes / Sailin' (A&M)
Long before Kim Carnes had a smash hit with "Bette Davis Eyes" in 1981, she'd kicked around a few labels in the '70s trying to make her way as a singer. After a debut album for the Amos label in 1971, she cut two softer, country-influenced albums for A&M in the middle of the decade - never on CD on their own, but now making their digital debuts. Her self-titled effort, produced by the late, great Mentor Williams (Paul's brother and writer of Dobie Gray's "Drift Away"), features such gems as a cover of Richard Kerr and Will Jenning's "Somewhere in the Night" (the same year it became a Top 20 hit for Helen Reddy and three years before Barry Manilow took it to the Top 10) as well as an early version of her first Top 40 hit, "You're a Part of Me" (re-recorded with Gene Cotton in 1978). Follow-up Sailin' was produced by Jerry Wexler and Barry Beckett and recorded with members of the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section; its highlights include a cover of Van Morrison's "Warm Love" and "Love Comes from Unexpected Places," later recorded by Barbra Streisand.
...Yes, technically true! This is one of many, many interesting records that have been digitally backfilled by Sony Music as part of European Union "use it or lose it" copyright initiatives. It's a latter-day effort from RCA's "Living" initiative on the Camden budget label: easy-listening, often instrumental arrangements of pop tunes spearheaded by the label's trailblazing female A&R representative Ethel Gabriel. This record is primarily split between the studio-assembled "Living Guitars" and "Living Trio" ensemble, featuring middle-of-the-road takes on some songs that were very popular when released in 1971 ("Let It Be," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "A Whiter Shade of Pale") and some that were almost easy-listening rock selections themselves at the time ("Heartbreak Hotel," "What Have They Done to My Song, Ma").
John Mayer made a fascinating return to pop/rock earlier this year after several years out of the game. (He certainly wasn't doing nothing, as fans of Dead & Company - the project that puts him in the Jerry Garcia role with most of the rest of the Grateful Dead's surviving members - can attest.) But Sob Rock, his eighth album, is a different beast, inspired by neither the introspective acoustics of his early work nor the roots and blues of his later efforts. Instead, the focal point is '80s AOR, as evidenced by the shuffling "Last Train Home," the album's first single, propelled not only by Mayer's six-string but percussion and keyboards by session pros Lenny Castro and Greg Phillinganes. A new, six-minute take on "Train," featuring Mayer's 2022 touring band (including longtime guitarist David Ryan Harris, bassist Sean Hurley, drummer Aaron Sterling and, indeed, Castro and Phillinganes) is a great extra sentence on the paragraph that is the Sob Rock era.