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. This week, it's a stuffed Halloween sack full of sweet rarities from INXS and Madonna, remixes of Frank Zappa and Bing Crosby, two completely unreleased 50-year-old albums and a brand-new spin on a Stephen Sondheim classic - and that's only half of it!
The INXS catalogue is one of the most confusing to hardcore fans, in part because it's controlled by two very different labels. In the rest of the world, the Australian group's label Petrol Electric has a joint venture with Universal (Giles Martin even signed on as a special consultant to oversee their archival affairs); here in the States, it's still the work of Rhino, keeping up the original distribution that kept them on the Atco and Atlantic labels. So while UMC recently issued the band's 1983 performance at the short-lived US Festival in California on vinyl and CD, only a few tracks from that performance have been included (along with a generous amount of B-sides and remixes) on a digital-only version of Shabooh Shoobah, INXS' breakthrough third album featuring classics like "The One Thing" and "Don't Change."
After stunning melodic rock fans with 2018's Traces - his first original material in nearly two decades - former Journey frontman Steve Perry bridged the shortest span of time between solo material yet, with a festive album of Christmas standards issuing in 2021. A year later, a new digital deluxe version adds a new original tune, "Maybe This Year," and a spirited cover of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas," a tribute to Perry's ever-present love of soul music.
Thirty years ago this month, Madonna released one of her most controversial (and yet perhaps underrated) albums, 1992's Erotica. The second of two Top 10s from the album, "Deeper and Deeper" extended Madonna's stint as pop's biggest envelope-pusher - and now a dozen classic remixes and edits by Shep Pettibone and David Morales are available to stream or download.
Christina Aguilera was certainly inspired by Madonna's erotic pop persuasions - let's not forget that a year after Stripped was released, she also shared a kiss with the Queen of Pop at the MTV Video Music Awards - and this album is regarded by fans of the one-time "Xtina" in much the same way as Erotica. The in-your-face lead single "Dirrty" missed the Top 40 entirely, but empowering follow-up ballad "Beautiful" (written by Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes) was a No. 2 hit. This digital 20th anniversary edition (slated for vinyl next year) includes a non-LP B-side, "I Will Be," and a new remix of "Beautiful" by Benny Benassi; there's also a neat new "Beautiful" video out, too.
Country legend Shania Twain just announced a new album and tour in 2023, which might offset the disappointment that her pop breakthrough, the blockbuster Come On Over, didn't get a 25th anniversary edition this year to complement the handsome deluxe package that accompanied The Woman in Me a few years back. We'll have to make do with a little EP featuring versions and B-sides to the album's exclamatory "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!"
If the name "The Immediate Family" doesn't mean anything to you, perhaps "The Section" might. That's essentially what they are - guitarists Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Wachtel, bassist Lee Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel, who played on countless hit records of the '70s. (Guitarist/songwriter Steve Postell rounds out the line-up.) The group has a brand new single out to bring the killer classic rock vibes to your autumn.
After releasing eight Top 10 albums between 2005 and 2016 - seven of which were issued near annually - pop icon Rihanna could be forgiven for taking a break from recording, choosing instead to focus on her growing Fenty empire of fashion and cosmetics. It seemed like it'd take a major event to get her back into the game - and it seems that event is here: "Lift Me Up" is the first single from the hotly anticipated Marvel film Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, due in theaters next month. She'll reportedly feature another song on the soundtrack, and you can expect to hear both of them in decent rotation ahead of her performance at next year's Super Bowl halftime show.
We've been following Legacy's digital catalogue work for years, but we've never seen anything like this: two completely unreleased album were surreptitiously delivered this weekend. The first is Oh My God, a shelved "Jesus rock" album from The Chambers Brothers (of "Time Has Come Today" fame). Little is known about the album - some say it was shelved due to band member changes, others maintain that Columbia was aghast at how much the sessions cost - and only one track was ever issued on a label compilation. Now it's seeing the light, 50 years later! Psychedelic soul believers will want to check this out.
This fall, it was announced that The Phantom of the Opera will drop its final chandelier on Broadway in February 2023, ending not only the longest run in the history of the Great White Way but some five decades that one of Webber's works has been on Broadway. This EP features remixes of the title track by Spanish producer Supermini and remixer About This, augmented by vocals from current and former leads of the show as it still plays in London's West End.
Ostensibly dug up as a tribute to the late British actress Angela Lansbury (although the song is not remotely about the long-running mystery series), this influential crossover dancehall hit sounds just as good as it did some three decades ago, with three rare remixes complementing the affair.
This EP, released only on CD in Japan, chronicled a half-dozen songs from a 1993 tour stop in California. Includes renditions of "Blood Makes Noise" and "Left of Center," a standout track first heard on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack.
This new release takes its title and cover artwork from the 1998 box set issued in the late Peter Allen's native Australia. While this digital premiere cuts the complete 1977 live album It Is Time for Peter Allen (which can be streamed separately), it retains all of the Universal-controlled studio material from the singer-songwriter including such career highlights as the jubliant "I Go to Rio," autobiographical "Tenterfield Saddler," rueful "I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love," and cheeky "Bi-Coastal." Along the way, you'll hear Allen's own version of "I Honestly Love You," the yacht-rock-smooth "Fly Away," and even a couple of treats from his early years as one-half of the Allen Brothers. (Neither was born an Allen, and they weren't brothers!) The Anthology showcases all sides of the artist, from flamboyant showman to introspective troubadour. Indeed, it is time for Peter Allen.
Bing Crosby, Bing Crosby: Feels Good, Feels Right (Decca) / Christmas Favorites (UMe) / Christmas in Lofi (UMe)
Christmas is Bing Crosby season - who doesn't love "White Christmas"? - and there's a trio of new and old works to discover, some of which are kind of odd! Feels Good, Feels Right was Bing's penultimate record, cut in London and featuring standards ("As Time Goes By," "Once in a While") and the odd pop song that fit well with his distinctive voice ("The Way We Were"). (This version includes a few tracks left off the original album, including "That Old Black Magic" and "At Last.") On the holiday side of things - and certainly going into stranger territory, there's Christmas Favorites, which appears to be a new, randomly assembled collection of Bing's best-known holiday works ("White Christmas," "Mele Kalikimaka," "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas") - with some deeply unusual cover art to boot. And then, UMe's ongoing fascination with "chill" versions of catalogue cuts continues with Christmas in Lofi, seven wisps of holiday cheer from remixeer LOUALLDAY, including his signature Christmas tune like you've never heard before.
Like, omigod! Zappa's extremely unlikely 1982 pop hit - featuring vocals by daughter Moon and recently the subject of a cute animated music video - now gets a new mix by British producer/DJ Flux Pavilion.
Their "All Star" is the hit that will never die (thanks a lot, Shrek) - but "Walking on the Sun" was their breakthrough on the modern rock charts, and that throwback garage rock vibe still gets a lot of mileage. These five remixes were commissioned 25 years ago, not long after the track took off.
Pianist Peter Nero joined Columbia Records in 1969 after a long stint at RCA Victor. The label was more than happy for him to keep Nero-ing In on the Hits (as one RCA long-player was titled) as he tackled the pop favorites of the day in his lyrical, highly romantic style. Legacy has just unearthed a previously unreleased album from the maestro featuring his fleet touch on the keys as well as full orchestral accompaniment.1972's Last Tango in Paris features the famous Paul Mauriat movie theme along with Nero's lush interpretations of Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)," Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "Lost Horizon," Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel's "Killing Me Softly," and more. Any of these would have fit comfortably on Nero's albums of the era, and all make for splendid, so-called "easy listening" today.
Fans of the late Stephen Sondheim had a delicious surprise on Friday when Craft Recordings released the first Spanish-language cast recording of Sondheim and George Furth's 1970 musical Company (recently revived in London and on Broadway with a gender twist). The new recording stars Antonio Banderas as bachelor Bobby in the lavish production he produced and directed for his Teatro del Soho troupe. (Their terrific Spanish cast recording of A Chorus Line was released earlier this year.) After successful runs in Malaga and Barcelona, Banderas' Company opens next month in Madrid. Sondheim's lyrics have been translated in Spanish by Roser Batalla and Furth's libretto was adapted in the language by Ignacio García May. This spectacular new recording features Jonathan Tunick's pulsating orchestrations played by 25 musicians and also includes a bonus track of Banderas singing "Being Alive" in English. A CD will be released in Spain (and available as an import) in November.