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 time out we've got Motown rarities, a couple of albums with comic book roots, early music from future legends, and more!
Roger Miller, Roger Miller (RCA/Camden/Legacy) (iTunes / Amazon)
Legacy has resuscitated this 1964 compilation of early sides from singer-songwriter Roger Miller (produced in Nashville by Chet Atkins). The self-titled album was originally released on RCA's budget Camden imprint in the wake of the quirky country troubadour's success on the Smash label with such future classics as "Dang Me" and "Chug-a-Lug." This digital premiere complements Universal's current Miller campaign.
Various Artists, Howard the Duck: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Geffen/UMe) (iTunes / Amazon)
The story of the soundtrack to the 1986 George Lucas-produced adaptation of Marvel Comics' Howard the Duck is as twisty as it comes: The film was scored by film maestro John Barry and re-scored in part by composer Sylvester Levay. Part of Barry's score ended up on the second side of a soundtrack album featuring rock songs written for star Lea Thompson's in-film band, Cherry Bomb, by synth whiz Thomas Dolby (with guest appearances by Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, George Clinton, Tata Vega, and Stevie Wonder). A 2019 presentation from Intrada sorted everything out on 3 CDs, including Barry's original and alternate cues, Levay's rescores, and Dolby's material plus the original soundtrack LP. Now, that original 11-track album is available digitally. If the movie didn't quite capture the loopy satire of Steve Gerber's creation, the music has proven enjoyable in its own right.
Various Artists, A Cellarful of Motown! Volume 5 (Motown/UMe) (iTunes / Amazon)
2020 brought the fifth volume of A Cellarful of Motown, the rarities series which had last seen a volume in 2010, to CD. The 43-song collection was worth the wait, and now it makes its digital premiere with rare and previously unreleased songs from household name artists such as Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, Gladys Knight and The Pips, and The (Detroit) Spinners as well as cherished Motown favorites including Chuck Jackson, Barbara McNair, Billy Eckstine, Brenda Holloway, Chris Clark, and the subject of Second Disc Records' 2019 Heart Full of Soul: The Motown Anthology, Blinky. Read more about the original release here!
Hugh Masekela, Uptownship (RCA/Novus/Legacy) (iTunes / Amazon)
This 1989 album found the South African trumpeter - best-known for the original "Grazing in the Grass," it's a gas, can you dig it? - recording a soulful set in New York and New Jersey. In addition to original material, Masekela brought his familiar sound to such staples as "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "Ooo Baby Baby," and "No Woman, No Cry."
Alice Cooper, It's Me (Epic/Legacy) (iTunes / Amazon)
The EP/maxi-single It's Me, from 1994, features the perennial shock rocker on a quartet of tunes. "It's Me" is from Cooper's album The Last Temptation (a tie-in to the comic book written by Sandman scribe Neil Gaiman) while the three B-sides are culled from a September 1991 in-studio performance at New York's Electric Lady Studios.
The Royal Teens, Short Shorts (Geffen/UMe) (iTunes / Amazon)
Before The Four Seasons, Bob Gaudio played piano and wrote songs for New Jersey's own Royal Teens, best known for this collection's title track: the 1958 top five smash novelty "Short Shorts." Here are 14 songs from the precocious group that shared bills with the likes of Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, and Frankie Avalon.
The release of "Roger Miller" completes the digital/download availability of Roger's 1960-1963 RCA Victor recordings. A download of his subsequent 1965 RCA Camden album "The One And Only Roger Miller" was released in 2019.
For those that prefer their music on compact disc, all 20 sides that Roger recorded for RCA Victor were previously issued on the 1990 Bear Family CD "King Of The Road" [BCD 15477] That cross-licensed compilation also included 9 original Smash label hit singles.