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! Some fascinating finds ahead from the '70s, '80s, '90s and far beyond - but first, another streaming housekeeping note...
You may have read our thoughts last week about streaming services, what they're doing, what they should be doing, and how artists are reacting. We had no intention of telling people where they should or shouldn't get their digital catalogue fix. However, this week's developments show us that Spotify is a little confused - some might even say a bit weaselly - about whether or not they're a "publisher" of content (like Joe Rogan's controversial podcast) or merely a "platform" (just allowing space for audio content). Let's be clear: they're the former and should be treated as such! (There's a reason you can't get live-in-studio Spotify singles on, say, Apple Music.) Until Spotify shows a little bit more clarity - and (pie in the sky, but still) fealty and financial remuneration to the artists whose works make Spotify a thing worth patronizing in the first place - we're going to put them in time-out for a bit. Weekend Stream friends can still check out the new releases through Apple or Amazon - neither perfect companies, to be sure, but neither slipping on this particular banana peel in public at the moment.
Anyway! You're here for the music - keep scrolling.
David Bowie, Telling Lies / Little Wonder (Junior Vasquez Mixes) / Little Wonder (Danny Saber Mixes) / Dead Man Walking / I'm Afraid of Americans (Parlophone)
This week, to celebrate 25 years of Earthling, five David Bowie remix EPs have been digitized from that time period. Not only is there nearly no overlap with the Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001) box, but there are three tracks buried in here that have never been released: a short edit of Junior Vasquez's take on "Little Wonder," an "unplugged" take on the same by Danny Saber, and on the Telling Lies EP, an unissued drum-n-bass mix of "Nuts," an outtake from the era that wasn't released until Is It Any Wonder? two years ago.
The Art of Noise, Balance (Music for the Eye) / Dream On / Metaforce (ZTT)
The Art of Noise have used these last few weeks to dust off and unearth some history around their late '90s reunion (which officially occurred with The Seduction of Claude Debussy in 1999). There was a lot of material around that period - some of which didn't get released until later, some of which was extremely hard to find even at the time. Balance (Music for the Eye) was a first attempt at a new album from the ZTT collective, finally released in 2015 as part of the set At the End of a Century. "Dream On" was an early, vinyl-only version of "Dreaming in Colour," while "Metaforce," featuring raps by Rakim, did make the final Debussy line-up.
Kim Carnes, St. Vincent's Court / Romance Dance / Café Racers (Capitol)
Universal is backfilling records by raspy-voiced singer Kim Carnes, particularly from her EMI America days, done on either side of 1982's chart-topping Mistaken Identity (featuring the Grammy-winning smash "Bette Davis Eyes"). "More Love," off 1980's Romance Dance, was in fact her first Top 10 pop hit.
Mysteriously out of digital circulation, this 2CD expansion of Roxette's breakthrough album (featuring hits like "The Look," "Listen to Your Heart" and "Dangerous") included a bonus disc's worth of demos from 1987 when it was released back in 2018 - and this digital version includes about 10 more than the physical version did!
Ana, Ana (Expanded Version) / Body Language (Expanded Version) (Epic/Legacy)
A Cuban-born pop singer at the end of the '80s and early '90s, Ana's two albums didn't make much noise in America despite interesting songcraft and production by the likes of Frank Wildhorn (Whitney Houston's "Where Do Broken Hearts Go," the musical Jekyll & Hyde) and, on Body Language, a host of pop hitmakers from Maurice Starr to Debbie Gibson. (The records were moderate hits in Japan, however.) Now, out of nowhere - these were never licensed for third-party CD issues, near as we can tell - they're on digital channels with copious vintage club mixes as bonus tracks!
Various Artists, Art Deco Series: Sophisticated Ladies / Art Deco Series: The Crooners / Art Deco Series: Lovely Ladies of Stage & Screen (Legacy)
An early 20th century pop archive series from Sony Music in the early '90s, these three titles offer a great hodgepodge of vintage hit parade sound. The Crooners offers great male voices like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Cliff Edwards (Jiminy Cricket himself!). Sophisticated Ladies offers tracks by Ruth Etting, Ethel Waters and Maxine Sullivan, and Lovely Ladies of Stage & Screen presents greats like Billie Holiday, Mae West, Dorothy Lamour and Ethel Merman.