Welcome to The Weekend Stream, a relaxing weekly review of notable digital-only catalogue titles. There may be no CD or vinyl, but there's plenty of great new/old music to discover! This week offers a fistful of digital deluxe editions, expansions on holiday favorites, and at least one Bond theme in the mix.
If you're still riding high off the excellent latest James Bond film No Time to Die, released a few months ago, you might dig this suite of rare remixes of Tina Turner's theme to the beloved 1995 film in the 007 series, written by Bono and The Edge of U2!
From producer/remixer Stro Elliot comes this new four-minute single throwing a handful of grooves by the Godfather into a blender. It's the first track off a whole James Brown remix project by Elliot, entitled Black & Loud. We'll let you know more as it happens!
Harold Faltermeyer, Axel F / Axel F (The M & M Mix) (Geffen/UMe)
While the full soundtrack to the first of Eddie Murphy's hilarious Axel Foley adventures is not digitally available (and the two sequels have their gaps - whither the single edit of George Michael's "I Want Your Sex"?), UMe has now issued two digital EPs collecting Harold Faltermeyer's best-known tunes from the film's electronic score: the Top 5 hit "Axel F" and its B-side "Shoot Out." One EP includes the original single versions, while the other includes both the original 12" mix and what appears to be a previously unreleased, rhythm-heavy extension by the great remixer John Morales.
The 1996 debut album from Dru Hill featured a killer mix of soul and hip-hop swagger as heard on the Top 10 hits "In My Bed," "Never Make a Promise" and "5 Steps." 25 years after its release (and a handful less after singer Sisqó broke out from the band with the unforgettable "Thong Song"), it's been digitally expanded with nine remixes, instrumentals and a cappella tracks.
There haven't been many pop stars like the man born Austin Post. Known for his dense amount of face and body tattoos and straddling the line between hip-hop, pop and even rock and country (the Nudie suit-clad Post seemed to be having more fun than anyone during a tribute to Elvis Presley's 1968 comeback special a few years back), he's unwittingly influenced most mainstream pop to blur all the genres together. Debut Stoney, released at the end of 2016, featured the hits "Congratulations" (featuring Migos rapper Quavo) and breakthrough debut single "White Iverson" - and now, the album's "complete edition" includes an instrumental pass at every track.
The California rockers with the...uh, very notable band name burst onto the scene with their self-titled debut in 2001, featuring the rock chart hits "Crawling in the Dark" and "Running Away." (Both set the groundwork for their next album, The Reason, whose soaring title track was one of the biggest pop hits of 2004.) Hoobastank (sorry, had to just type it one more time) now includes eight bonus tracks - half non-LP B-sides, half acoustic versions.
A new/old EP from Utah pop-rockers Neon Trees includes the brand-new title track and acoustic "revisited versions" of three of the band's biggest hits: "Animal," "Everybody Talks" and "Sleeping with a Friend."
One of the best takes on the children's Christmas favorite (and tied with Gene Autry's version, also from 1950, as the most popular on the charts), Jimmy Durante's "Frosty" has been redelivered as its own digital single with some great throwback art and the original B-side "(Isn't It a Shame That) Christmas Comes But Once a Year."
Canadian "Moroccan roll" trio The Tea Party self-released a stripped-down effort in 1991, before they signed to a major label. Three decades later, it's back in print (coming physically in January), featuring the original album, a remixed/remastered version and two previously unreleased demos from that time period.
A voice as unique as stage actress Sarah Brightman's deserves a holiday album to match, and 2008's A Winter Symphony did not disappoint, mixing carols and sacred works ("Silent Night," "Ave Maria," "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring") with everything from gospel ("Amazing Grace") to holiday pop (Greg Lake's "I Believe in Father Christmas") to year-round pop (Neil Diamond's lesser-known "I've Been This Way Before"). Five tracks from deluxe editions around the world complete Brightman's symphony anew.
In 1995, a few years out from her biggest hits like "Girlfriend" and "Mercedes Boy," R&B singer Pebbles took one last stab at secular pop music with Straight from My Heart, featuring work from the likes of Organized Noize and Sean "Puffy" Combs. "Are You Ready" was a minor hit on the R&B charts, and Pebbles soon turned to sacred music. This digital reissue includes one bonus track: a remix of "Are You Ready."
For fans of Pete Yorn's indie-folk rock style, here's a fun new release: an EP featuring two soundtrack songs (a cover of the Buzzcocks' "Ever Fallen in Love" for Shrek 2 and a take on Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' "Red Right Hand" for Hellboy) and three rare radio performances.
Hardcore fans of '80s teen-pop singer Tiffany might want to check out these hard-to-find remixes of the title track to her 1990 album, a sonic shift into R&B and new jack swing style.
Don Williams, Volume One / Volume Two / Volume Three / Listen to the Radio / Yellow Moon / New Moves /Traces (MCA Nashville)
Volume One: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Volume Two: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Volume Three: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Radio: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Moon: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Moves: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Traces: iTunes / Amazon / Spotify
Country legend Don Williams lived up to his nickname "The Gentle Giant" thanks to that warm, inviting baritone, and seven of his albums have recently been made digitally available! In addition to his first three albums (featuring his earliest hits on the counry charts like "We Should Be Together" and "I Wouldn't Want to Live If You Didn't Love Me"), a quartet of his biggest '80s albums have also been made available, too. (Those feature hits like "Love is on a Roll," "Stay Young," "That's the Thing About Love" and "Heartbeat in the Darkness.")
Loretta Lynn, Before I'm Over You / Songs from My Heart / Mr. and Mrs. Used to Be (with Ernest Tubb) / Singin' Again (with Ernest Tubb) (MCA Nashville)
Another country icon, Loretta Lynn, fills out her discography even further thanks to the digital release of her second and third albums plus her first two duet records with Ernest Tubb from the mid-'60s.
Waylon Jennings, The Taker/Tulsa / Cedartown, Georgia (RCA Nashville)
And that's three country hitmakers this week! Two Waylon Jennings albums from 1971 - the prelude to his 1972 breakthrough Good Hearted Woman - come to digital music retailers this weekend.
Herbie Nichols, The Prophetic Herbie Nichols Vol. 1 & 2 (Blue Note)
Other than his beloved "Serenade" (which, with lyrics, became the Billie Holiday immortal "Lady Sings the Blues"), Herbie Nichol's unconventional jazz piano work didn't get much notice until after his passing in 1963 following a cancer battle at the too-young age of 44. These two short albums for Blue Note, recorded with Al McKibbon on bass and Art Blakey on drums, are a great place to start.
Jackie Gleason, Plays Romantic Jazz /Music to Remember Her (Expanded Edition) (Capitol/UMe)
Two more classics from The Great One's musical career (where he conducted the orchestras!) make their digital debuts. Both albums, originally released in 1955, reached the Top 5 of Billboard's survey, and Music to Remember Her is presented as Collector's Choice issued it on CD some 20 years ago, with five bonus tracks.
A solid if obscure 1996 album from the beloved guitar slinger, originally released only in Europe and featuring old friends Johnny and Edgar Winter on several tracks.
Jerry Goldsmith, Executive Decision (The Deluxe Edition) / Gremlins 2: The New Batch (25th Anniversary Edition) (Varese Sarabande)
From Varese Sarabande come deluxe digital presentations of two of Jerry Goldsmith's best-loved scores of the '90s. 1996's Executive Decision was all action, featuring Kurt Russell against a team of terrorists on a commercial airliner; 1990's Gremlins 2: The New Batch, meanwhile, is all quirky comedy as befitting Joe Dante's off-the-wall sequel featuring Gizmo the Mogwai and another brood of goopy monsters. (Both are also being offered on hi-res audio providers.)
Jo Stafford was always a songwriter's best friend. She always used her pure tone in service of the music and lyrics, staying true to an author's intent while subtly putting her own stamp on a composition. Her 1964 Capitol album The Joyful Season captured Stafford at her most innovative, multi-tracking her voice as a choir throughout this collection of seasonal tunes. It was hardly her first foray into Christmas music, as she'd released yuletide singles as far back as the 1940s and the long-player Happy Holiday for Columbia in 1954 plus assorted other one-offs. The Joyful Season just might be her most enduring Christmas recording, though, and here it is in the digital premiere of DRG's 2005 expanded CD presentation. It adds both medleys from a 1950 EP with fellow Capitol singing star Gordon MacRae; the (then-) previously unreleased "Ave Maria," "Gesu Bambino," and a Toys for Tots spot.
Speaking of Christmas...
Cast of Promises, Promises, "Turkey Lurkey Time" (UMe)
This electrifying Ed Sullivan Show performance from February 8, 1970 features Julane Stites, Baayork Lee (in the role she originated), Barbara Alston, and the Broadway company of Neil Simon, Burt Bacharach, and Hal David's Promises, Promises dancing Michael Bennett's unforgettable office party choreography for the musical's big Act One showstopper, "Turkey Lurkey Time." Tune in below to see why this Christmas-themed production number is still hailed more than 50 years later. And if you're in the mood for more Bacharach and David...
In 1969, Anita Kerr - recently relocated from Nashville to Los Angeles - and her velvet-voiced Singers brought their smooth but sophisticated touch to a Bacharach/David songbook album. While the big hits were expectedly included ("What's New Pussycat?," "Alfie," "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "I Say a Little Prayer," "The Look of Love," "Walk on By"), producer-arranger-conductor Kerr also saw fit to include beguiling renditions of somewhat lesser-known favorites ("Are You There (with Another Girl)," "In Between the Heartaches," and the Promises, Promises ballad "Whoever You Are, I Love You"). Anita Kerr's music might have been called easy listening, but in fact, there was nothing "easy" about Bacharach's complex compositions or Kerr's intricate arrangements of them. The result was one of the decade's finest albums of Bacharach and David's songs.