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. The latest features new and old soundtracks, EPs and holiday favorites and much more!
This weekend sees the release of "Weird Al" Yankovic's second foray into feature film: a hilariously-exaggerated biopic co-written by Yankovic and starring Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter himself) as the legendary pop parodist. Al re-recorded five of his enduring hits plus a new end credits song ("Now You Know") for the film, and the soundtrack - due to be released on CD in January and vinyl in May - also includes a heap of score cues from Cobra Kai composers Leo Birenberg and Zach Robinson, plus some other polka ephemera.
As they embark on a tour of England, legendary pop/rockers Squeeze have issued a new EP, their first release since 2017's full-length The Knowledge. It's anchored by the new title track from singers/songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, melodically and lyrically taking on the health and hunger crises gripping Great Britain. (The group's tour will include food donation boxes at every stop, and proceeds from this EP - available on CD at those dates - will benefit British charity The Trussell Trust.) Food for Thought also includes new studio rearrangements of deep cut "The Very First Dance" (off 1982's Sweets from a Stranger) and 1995 single "Electric Trains," as well as three live tracks.
The Voice of Romance - and quite accurately, The Voice of Christmas - is back with his first-ever holiday EP, the (currently) digital-only A Merry Little Christmas (emphasis on the Little)! This beautiful new four-song set is Mathis' first solo studio project in over five years, and features his silken reinterpretations of four yuletide classics with which he's long been associated. Both "White Christmas" and "Blue Christmas" appeared on his very first Christmas album (1958's Merry Christmas) while his first recording of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was just a few years later, for 1963's Sounds of Christmas. Johnny's 1976 U.K. No. 1 "When a Child Is Born" rounds out the EP produced by Jay Landers and Fred Mollin. Mathis' vocal instrument is as clarion as ever, and his lyric interpretation even more touching with the passage of time. Christmas music doesn't get much more elegant or timeless than this.
Two decades ago, Eminem starred in 8 Mile, a loose adaptation of his hardscrabble life and burgeoning rap career in Detroit. The film was anchored by one of his biggest hits, the hard-driving "Lose Yourself," which would top the U.S. charts for a dozen weeks and become the first hip-hop song to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The soundtrack, featuring cuts from Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Nas and Eminem's posse D12, has been digitally reissued to commemorate the two-decade mark, now including not only instrumentals of every track but a rare demo of "Lose Yourself."
The unmistakable, reassuring, and warm voice of the late B.J. Thomas brings a touch of romance to the holiday season with this new single release. His never-before-heard recording of "Merry Christmas, Baby" (not the Charles Brown R&B staple, but rather an original song) is a sweet slice of seasonal nostalgia recorded in Nashville during sessions for Thomas' 1997 album Christmas is Coming Home. While an expanded edition of the full album didn't materialize this year as planned, this single offers a taste of the positivity, heart, comfort, and uplift for which Thomas was known. It makes for an essential addition to any Christmas playlist.
Charlie Parker's string-suffused sessions of 1949 and 1950 with producer Norman Granz were some of the most beloved of the saxophonist's career. Nearly 30 years later, Columbia got their hands on similar recordings cut in three legendary live venues in New York between 1950 and 1952; that 1977 collection is now making its digital debut.
The companion album to the acclaimed 1993 drama about violence in the Watts and Crenshaw neighborhoods of Los Angeles features tracks by the film's co-stars MC Eiht and Too $hort plus tracks by Boogie Down Productions, Hi-Five, Brand Nubian, UGK and more.
"I have been seeking P.F. Sloan, but no one knows where he has gone / No one ever heard the song that good old boy sent winging." Jimmy Webb's moving elegy for the (then-very much alive) P.F. Sloan immortalized the singer-songwriter for all time. But Sloan's songs never really disappeared - not "Eve of Destruction," "Let Me Be," "A Must to Avoid," "Secret Agent Man," "You Baby," or "Another Day, Another Heartache" (most of which were co-authored with Steve Barri). One of his albums did disappear, however: 1972's Raised on Records, originally issued on the Mums label. Now, his fourth LP (following two for Dunhill and one for Atco) makes its digital premiere from Legacy. The album features 11 Sloan tunes on which he's backed by musicians including Hal Blaine, Larry Knechtel, and Joe Osborn of The Wrecking Crew; Michael Omartian; John Barbata of The Turtles; Chris Ethridge of The Flying Burrito Brothers; Bobbye Hall; and Barry Beckett. Sloan didn't record another solo album for more than two decades. Now, this lost chapter of his vibrant discography can be rediscovered anew. These songs belong to P.F. Sloan.