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! Our first release weekend of 2022 features heavy hitters, from legends of pop, rock, jazz and...space disco?
David Bowie would have turned 75 today, and fans are celebrating over the new release Toy:Box, an official and expanded version of his "lost" 2001 album featuring new interpretations of his earliest '60s material. But there's a special digital treat in hiding for hardcore collectors: a single release of the "unplugged and somewhat slightly acoustic" version of key track "Shadow Man" is backed by the previously unreleased original version, recorded in the final months of 1970 - not during the sessions for what would become The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars, as has previously been reported by Bowie discographers. That said, perhaps a comprehensive Ziggy overview is coming this year for its 50th anniversary?
Crowded House, Farewell to the World / Intriguer (Deluxe Edition) / The Finn Brothers, Finn / Neil Finn, Try Whistling This / 7 Worlds Collide (Live at The St. James) (Lester/BMG RIghts Management)
Releasing Crowded House's stellar Dreamers Are Waiting last year apparently also granted BMG Rights Management a crack at some choice catalogue from the Antipodean rock legends and their musical universe. Now, five albums are back on digital services: Crowded House's 1996 live set Farewell to the World and 2011's Intriguer, the second album since their 2007 reunion (available with the bonus disc included in the band's 30th anniversary reissue campaign in 2016); 1995's Finn, Neil's first duet record with his older brother and former Split Enz frontman Tim; and two early solo works by Neil himself: 1998's Try Whistling This (featuring the gorgeous "She Will Have Her Way") and 2001's 7 Worlds Collide, a star-studded live set featuring Neil, his son Liam, Tim, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, and Radiohead's guitarist and drummer, Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway.
Meco, Moondancer / Meco Plays Music from The Empire Strikes Back / Music from Star Trek and The Black Hole (RSO)
Horn player Meco Monardo might be best known for the trombone solo on Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out" if not for his big obsession of 1977: Star Wars. Meco claimed to have seen the film nearly a dozen times when it opened in the spring of 1977, and by the end of the year he led a disco-fied studio band on a medley of John Williams' cues from the soundtrack (namely the main title theme and the "Cantina Band" music) that topped the Billboard Hot 100. What fewer recall is that he kept recording disco arrangements of movie themes, and thanks to some canny vertical integration on the part of RSO Records, his 10" EP of music from Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back was an official release. (The main medley was a Top 20 pop hit.) That EP is now officially digitally available, along with Moondancer, an LP of non-film music and originals (plus a cover of "Grazing in the Grass"), and a 1980 sci-fi album that featured Jerry Goldsmith's themes to Star Trek: The Motion Picture and John Barry's The Black Hole.
In the mid-'40s, the rise of bebop greatly shaped the fortunes of jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, who began to imitate the horn sections she was accompanied with and developing a new scat-singing style for herself. Before her longtime manager Norman Granz built Verve Records around her, she was a Decca artist, and put out various releases like this 10" from 1947, predating her other long-players for the label. It features classics like "I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good)," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" and "The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else)" - all prime reminders of early Ella excellence.