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 a few surprise digital expansions from some '80s U.K. legends, holiday remixes, a lost fitness favorite and more!
This week marked the 35th anniversary of Sting's second solo album, and UMe commemorated the occasion (much like they did the 30th anniversary of follow-up The Soul Cages) with a digital-only expansion of the album. The brooding, eclectic LP - inspired by various ailments and injustices of the world as well as the passing of the former Police man's mother - is appended with more than a dozen bonus cuts, including new-to-digital B-sides and remixes of quirky Top 10 hit "We'll Be Together," "Englishman in New York" (reworked by Ben Liebrand in 1990 to moderate U.K. hit status) and, interestingly, some mixes of "Fragile" released around the live album ...All This Time in 2001.
Robert Palmer, Secrets (Expanded Edition) / Clues (Expanded Edition) / Maybe It's Live / Pride (Deluxe Edition) / Riptide (Deluxe Edition) (Island/UMe)
What does it say about the late, legendary British singer that five of his Island-era albums were delivered to digital services, most with many extra tracks, but no fanfare followed it? The provenance of these reissues (including a re-delivery of 1982's Maybe It's Live, indeed part studio and part live record, plus versions of Pride (1983) and the hits-packed Riptide (1985) with enough extras to merit "deluxe" status) is not entirely known; Pride has a release year of 2013, so perhaps this was all part of a long-lost campaign for fans old and new to rediscover one of the most versatile voices of his generation? Whether that was the case or not, we hope you check them out know - they're well worth your (re)discovery.
Hallelujah! 40 years ago, the duo previously known as Two Tons O' Fun (Martha Wash and Izora Armstead) recorded one of the great disco anthems of all time, written by the late Paul Jabara and David Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer. Now's your chance to get absolutely soaking wet - musically, that is - with this EP featuring the original single version, an instrumental and a long medley including the musical classic "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair."
Ready to work up a sweat? Jake Steinfeld was already a personal trainer to the stars (most notably Harrison Ford, whom he helped get into shape for the Indiana Jones films) when he released his own exercise video, complete with an original soundtrack that featured contributions by some hard-working musicians, including Bobby Caldwell, Michael Sembello and future Toto vocalist Joseph Williams. As part of an ongoing deal with the fitness impresario and UMe, that classic LP now makes its digital debut.
In the '70s, Columbia issued a boutique line of records in honor of one of their best-known behind-the-scenes talents: John Hammond. And for good reason: Hammond was responsible for discovering or cultivating talent like Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen for the legendary label. In 1972, Columbia issued a concert Hammond assembled some five years earlier, tracing the history of 20th century music with stirring performances by Big Mama Thornton, Count Basie's orchestra and an on-the-rise jazz guitarist named George Benson.
The shifting vagaries of the music business mean that plenty of artists from the turn of the millennium and later, for whatever reason, have never enjoyed the fruits of the greatest hits compilation, even as songs in their catalogue continue to stream briskly. St. Louis-raised rapper Nelly is just such an example, but he's now putting out a neat little collection of some of his biggest hits for the streaming era, including "Country Grammar," "Ride Wit Me," "Dilemma" and, as the title suggests, "Hot in Herre."
Rapper MC Tunes and electronic collective 808 State were at the forefront of a new British dance music movement (dubbed "Madchester") with "The Only Rhyme That Bites," a No. 10 hit. "Tunes Splits the Atom" was their Top 20 follow-up, and all its remixes and edits (plus one of potential A-side "Dance Yourself to Death") have been compiled for this new digital EP.
One of the earliest major-label singles by a pioneer of West Coast hip-hop. Too $hort would continue recording for Jive Records for nearly 20 years afterward, an impressive run.
While "artistic leap" is not often a phrase one might associate with the soft-pop crooner Williams, 1973's Solitaire (produced by Richard Perry) was actually a bit of a departure for the artist, who started adding more contemporary fare into his repertoire rather than familiar standards. (Williams even joined the session musicians for some rough live-in-studio vocals, something he almost never did.) While it didn't pay off for Williams in the States, it did re-elevate Neil Sedaka, whose well-known song served as the title track to the album and was later a hit for the Carpenters. But in England, it was Williams who made the tune a smash, reaching No. 4.
The truth of the matter is The Second Disc was founded by a writer who's now in his mid-30s, and feels as nostalgic about Blink-182 as any classic rock or soul act of the past. The irreverent pop-punk trio have announced their second reunion with founding guitarist Tom DeLonge, and the mid-tempo head-bopper "Edging," the lead single from their ninth studio album due in 2023, sounds like a return to the cheeky sound of their '90s and early '00s prime.
Brenda Lee, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree (Reimagined by Filcus) (MCA Nashville/UMe) / Bobby Helms, Jingle Bell Rock (Ryan Riback Remix) (Geffen/UMe)
Billboard's updated chart rules enabled Mariah Carey's seasonal standard "All I Want for Christmas is You" to become her milestone 19th career No. 1 on the Hot 100 - one more than Elvis and one less than The Beatles - and like Christmas clockwork, the song has reached the summit every December in 2019, 2020 and 2021. But the rules also allow for a host of holiday perennials to chart, giving some artists heretofore unprecedented success. Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock" have consistently peaked just behind Mariah's monster hit during the season, and UMe must be gunning for a higher placement for either of them, if these new remixes are any indication.