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 usher you into the weekend including an expanded edition from a superstar, a fun '80s flashback, two expansions from a disco legend, some choice Motown memories, and more!
Janet Jackson, The Velvet Rope (25th Anniversary Edition) (Virgin/UMe) (iTunes / Amazon)
A digital deluxe edition that merited its own press release? OK! Janet's introspective sixth studio album - her first after the hits compilation Design of a Decade 1986-1996 - featured the uptempo chart-topper "Together Again" plus hits "I Get Lonely" and the Joni Mitchell-sampling "Got Till It's Gone." It features 15 bonus B-sides and remixes - 10 of which are digitally available for the first time.
Soul Asylum, Grave Dancers Union (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (Columbia/Legacy) (iTunes / Amazon)
The runaway train comes back around to Soul Asylum's breakthrough sixth album (following nearly a decade of trying to make it on the Twin/Tone and A&M rosters). In addition to the rock radio hits "Somebody to Shove," "Black Gold" and the crossover Top 5 heartbreaker "Runaway Train," this set features a baker's dozen of B-sides, compilation tracks and live rarities, including a cover of The Miracles' "Tracks of My Tears." (That song will be the sole digital exclusive; the rest of the songs will be pressed as a double LP for Vinyl Me, Please available in December.)
Phantom Planet, The Guest (20th Anniversary Edition) (Columbia/Legacy) (iTunes / Amazon)
Any fan of '00s teen-oriented TV remembers where they were the first time "California" blared out of their speakers as the theme song to The OC. Phantom Planet's breakthrough album (the last to feature actor Jason Schwartzman on drums!) comes back to celebrate two decades with 10 bonus demos, live tracks and alternate versions.
Mr. T, Mr. T's Commandments (Expanded Digital Version) (Columbia/Legacy) (iTunes / Amazon)
Having knocked out audiences with star turns in Rocky III and the explosive TV series The A-Team, Mr. T lent his unmistakable voice and style for this deeply quirky album of advice for kids, from staying in school to staying off drugs. (The mohawk-sporting, gold-chained strongman issued most of this advice through rap verses; listed on the album with "rap direction" was a then-unknown Ice-T.) It's now digitally available with two single versions - and simply put, we pity the fool who passes on this one.
Paul Jabara, Shut Out (Expanded Edition) / Keeping Time (Expanded Edition) (Casablanca/UMe)
Shut Out: iTunes / Amazon
Keeping Time: iTunes / Amazon
Released to mark 30 years of the disco singer/songwriter's passing, these new expanded editions of Paul Jabara's solo albums are paradise for '70s dance lovers, packed with single edits, instrumentals and non-LP cuts. Donna Summer appears on singles "Shut Out" and "Something's Missing (in My Life)" - and Jabara's version of "Last Dance," which he wrote for Summer, can also be heard on Keeping Time.
Yes, Talk (Victor) (iTunes / Amazon)
A divisive album when released in 1994, Talk - featuring the line-up of Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Chris Squire, Tony Kaye and Alan White - is back to cause endless debates for fans of the legendary prog combo. (Thanks to our reader and pal Steve Cunningham for the heads-up!)
Diana Ross, The Best Years of My Life (Motown) (iTunes / Amazon)
Released in 1993 as part of the Forever Diana career-spanning box, this digital maxi-single includes two then-new remixes of her classic CHIC-assisted hit "Upside Down."
Edwin Starr, Edwin Starr (UMG) (iTunes / Amazon)
The first of a few records "War" singer Starr cut for 20th Century-Fox Records, this 1977 LP offers some fine examples of Starr as you loved him on Motown.
Doctor Dre & Ed Lover, Back Up Off Me! (Relativity) (iTunes / Amazon)
No, that's not the legendary West Coast emcee-turned-producer/mogul - this one comes from the hosts of Yo! MTV Raps, the network's first hip-hop block. As keepers of the old-school flame even in 1994, the duo had the attention of some heavy hitters making guest appearances in the studio, including EPMD's Erick Sermon and an up-and-coming The Notorious B.I.G.!
Finally, The Second Disc remembers legendary Motown songwriter Ivy Jo Hunter who passed away yesterday at the age of 82. Hunter's many indelible contributions to pop music history include Four Tops' "Ask the Lonely" and "Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever," The Spinners' "Truly Yours," and Martha Reeves and The Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street." Rest in peace, Ivy Jo.
Oh man, I wish those Paul Jabara titles were on CD.