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. Today's might be our biggest and best round-up of the spring: classic rock remixes, classic soul legends, rising rap icons, all kinds of '80s pop, a classic Broadway album making its belated digital debut - plus two urgent social causes we really want you to know about.
David Bowie, Golden Years (TOKiMONSTA Remix) (Parlophone) (iTunes / Amazon)
Created for a suite of remixes for the high-end fitness service Peloton last year, this modern take on the Station to Station favorite by Grammy-nominated producer/mixer Jennifer Lee is now widely available.
James Brown, How Long (Volcano) (iTunes / Amazon)
Universal James, the final album issued by The Godfather of Soul for Scotti Brothers (and his last for a major label) attempted to bring the James Brown style into the '90s with mixed results. But these long unavailable remixes of single "How Long" are worth checking out if you're a J.B. completist.
Chance the Rapper, Acid Rap (10th Anniversary - Complete Edition) (self-released) (iTunes / Amazon)
Chicago rapper Chancelor Bennett's second mixtape helped push him further into the mainstream, moving a million downloads on hip-hop site DatPiff and becoming his first release to reach the Top 10 of the U.S. charts. (2016 follow-up Coloring Book would take home three Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album.) When Acid Rap - which, like all of Chance's works, has been put out without major labels - was made more widely available in 2019, it dropped the track "Juice" due to an inability to clear the Donny Hathaway sample that formed the basis of the track. Now, as the tape turns 10, it's been reissued as originally recorded.
Squeeze, Best of Squeeze Live (Valley) (iTunes / Amazon)
With Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook once again leading Squeeze through a series of festival and concert dates through their native U.K. this summer, the band have dusted off some tracks from a 2010 gig at The Fillmore in San Francisco for a newly-created EP. Not essential if you've heard the set elsewhere - either in part on a reissue of their re-recordings set Spot the Difference or a double vinyl issued a few years afterward - but if not, you'll want to hear how good the group still sounds.
Johnny Vatos / Oingo Boingo Former Members, Still Alive (Vatoast) (iTunes / Amazon)
If Danny Elfman's return to rock music and Rubellan's reissues of the Oingo Boingo catalogue isn't enough for you, here's a surprise release that might bring you back from the dead! Boingo drummer Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez has long been the authorized keeper of the band flame, occasionally bringing bandmates together for tribute shows. Now, they've cut a whole EP, featuring new recordings of Dead Man's Party favorites "Weird Science" and "Just Another Day," Nothing to Fear opener "Grey Matter" and a cover of "Tequila" for good measure. While it's not entirely clear who's playing on the album (past live collaborators have included bassist John Avila and guitarist Steve Bartek, still Elfman's right-hand man), the sequencers and rhythms of these re-recordings do a good job of capturing the spirit of the originals. Vocalist Brendan McCreary's theatrical deliveries suggest a theoretical Boingo musical, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. (Thanks to friend of The Second Disc, musician and podcaster Dalton Deschain, for the tip!)
The Hooters, Why Won't You Call Me Back (Hooters Music) (iTunes / Amazon)
Another welcome comeback from the '80s comes to us this week courtesy of Philly rock legends The Hooters! Rocking & Swing, their first new studio material since 2010, will combine revisited versions of old favorites with new songs (some built upon early demos), with the horn-infused lead single above kicking things off. (The group is also planning a reissue of their pre-Columbia debut single version of "Fightin' on the Same Side," to be released this month. We'll of course include that here if it's available digitally!)
Edgar Winter, Entrance (Expanded Edition) (Epic/Legacy) (iTunes / Amazon)
The revelation of a guitarist like Johnny Winter - possessing both an unbelievable skill in the blues style and an arresting appearance borne of alibinism - could only be matched by the fact that he had a brother with nearly the same traits and talents (only swapping the guitar out for keyboards). The Winter brothers co-wrote all the tracks on Edgar's debut LP for Epic, issued a year after Johnny's first LP for sister label Columbia, and Johnny sat in on a take of the blues standard "Tobacco Road" (the mono single version of which is included here as a bonus track.)
Book of Love, Boy (Warner Music/X5) (iTunes / Amazon)
As the New Wave of synth-based English pop took America by storm, Philadelphia group Book of Love did a terrific job of co-opting those European sounds for themselves, eventually scoring several opening slots for Depeche Mode as the decade went on. Debut single "Boy" packed some coy lyrics that galvanized queer listeners of a generation, reaching the Top 10 of Billboard's dance chart in 1983 and reaching the top of that chart in 2001 thanks to some modern club remixes. Four decades after its release, it was just heard in an episode of the new season of AppleTV+'s hit show Ted Lasso, and to celebrate, the contents of the original 12" single (including a digitally unavailable dub mix) have been made available to stream and download.
Tavares, Hard Core Poetry (Expanded Edition) / Love Storm (Expanded Edition) (Capitol/UMe)
Poetry: iTunes / Amazon
Storm: iTunes / Amazon
The lush "Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel" would make this act of soulful singing brothers legends of '70s pop, but these two albums, issued on either side of that hit and newly expanded with single edits and extended versions, made R&B listeners take notice. 1974's Hard Core Poetry features the group's first No. 1 hit on the soul charts, written by a pair of white R&B lovers from Philly whose own version had yet to chart; indeed, Tavares' version of "She's Gone" helped set up Daryl Hall & John Oates' own take for success, kicking off a decade-plus of hits for the duo. Love Storm, released in 1977, featured Tavares' third and final No. 1 on the soul charts, the catchy "Whodunit," which appeals to a group of famous fictional detectives past and present to solve the case of a missing lover.
Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians, Queen Elvis (A&M) (iTunes / Amazon)
The former frontman of The Soft Boys has maintained his status as a quintessentially British cult rock sensation over the last few decades, influencing a generation of '80s college rockers with his sound and enjoying some of that nascent modern rock heat in the late '80s. This 1989 album, his fourth with backing band The Egyptians, was more of an overt attempt to penetrate the U.S. market than usual - it initially didn't get a release beyond the States, though the title track would be heard on Hitchcock's solo album Eye a year later.
Act, Absolutely Immune (I) (ZTT) (iTunes / Amazon)
Short-lived synthpop duo Act - featuring Scottish synth player Thomas Leer and ex-Propaganda singer Claudia Brücken - were the subject of ZTT's first 40th anniversary digital drop, and they're back again with a more complete version of second single "Absolutely Immune," featuring original B-side "Bloodrush" and a few rare tracks to boot.
Solid HarmoniE, I'll Be There for You / I Want You to Want Me / I Wanna Love You / To Love Once Again (Jive/Zomba)
I'll Be There: iTunes / Amazon
I Want You: iTunes / Amazon
I Wanna Love: iTunes / Amazon
To Love: iTunes / Amazon
After disgraced record impresario Lou Pearlman paved the way for a new generation of teen pop with the creation of Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, he briefly attempted to strike gold with a female group. Solid HarmoniE (note all the capital letters) only had limited success in parts of Europe, but these four singles - all from their 1997 debut album - are as catchy as they come, as early examples of the world-dominating sound of Swedish co-writer/co-producer Max Martin.
Doris Day and Les Brown & His Orchestra, The Complete Okeh and Columbia Recordings 1940-1946 (Columbia/Legacy) (iTunes / Amazon)
Back in 1996, Collectors' Choice Music released the 2CD set The Complete Doris Day with Les Brown. Now, that landmark collection has debuted digitally with all 42 sides recorded by the young songstress and the established bandleader between 1940 and 1946 for the Okeh and Columbia labels, including rarities first released in subsequent years. The definitive collection includes the all-time classic and WWII anthem "Sentimental Journey" (Doris' first No. 1) as well as "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" (No. 1), "Till the End of Time" (No. 3), "Day by Day" (No. 15), "I Got the Sun in the Morning" from Annie Get Your Gun (No. 10) and the beloved "The Christmas Song" (No. 12), among many other hits. American popular song doesn't get any better or more nostalgic than this luminous collection.
The Crickets, Something Old, Something New, Something Blue, Something Else! (Capitol) (iTunes / Amazon)
Attempting to move on after the highly-publicized passing of former frontman Buddy Holly, The Crickets attempted variations on several themes on this third LP following Holly's departure from the group. Then a quartet featuring founding drummer Jerry Allison, guitarist Sonny Curtis, singer Jerry Naylor and keyboardist Glen D. Hardin (a future member of Elvis Presley's TCB Band), this 1962 LP indeed included four versions of older rock hits ("What'd I Say," "Love is Strange"), four newer tunes and four songs with "blue" in the title - though, despite what the cover suggests, they're not grouped that way on the album.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Original Broadway Cast Recording (Capitol) (iTunes / Amazon)
Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight! The original Broadway cast recording of the side-splitting 1962 musical comedy by librettists Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H, Tootsie) and Burt Shevelove (No, No, Nanette) and composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim makes it digital debut(!) this weekend. Forum was the young Sondheim's first produced Broadway musical for which he wrote both music and lyrics, and his third overall Broadway show after West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959). Though Sondheim's bright and brassy score was largely overlooked by critics at the time, his prodigious gifts were already well in evidence on such songs as the rousing opening "Comedy Tonight," the humorous yet yearning "Free," vaudeville showstopper "Everybody Ought to Have a Maid," and deliciously witty "Pretty Little Picture." The Tony Award-winning Forum starred Tony winners Zero Mostel as Pseudolus and David Burns as Senex, as well as Ruth Kobart as Domina, Jack Gilford as Hysterium, John Carradine as Lycus, Ron Holgate as Miles Gloriosus, Brian Davies as Hero, and Preshy Marker as Philia. The musical comedy classic ran for 964 performances and went on to become one of the country's (and Sondheim's) most-produced shows. It's seen two Broadway revivals: the first, in 1972, starred Phil Silvers and didn't receive a cast album. The second, in 1996, was headlined by Nathan Lane; it was recorded by Angel/EMI but that album, preserving longtime Sondheim collaborator Jonathan Tunick's new orchestrations, still hasn't been reissued digitally.
Finally: two big ways you can help. When the spirit moves us at Second Disc HQ, we like to showcase important causes at the end of The Weekend Stream, and we can think of fewer causes in the news now more important than these two.
First of all: the Writers Guild of America is on strike. The WGA has attempted to negotiate with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for some fairer contract provisions; namely, increased funding and job security in an increasingly streaming-dominated entertainment world, larger writer's rooms to soften the blows of the current "gig" model, and protection against the use of artificial intelligence in writing.
Despite these reasonable demands (the collective revenue of which would only give writers about twice what Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav made last year on his own), the studios aren't playing ball. So the strike goes on, and we support them unequivocally. Donations to the Entertainment Community Fund can support the writers as they continue this valiant strike. (Negotiations between the AMPTP and two other major entertainment unions - the Directors Guild of America and actors collective SAG-AFTRA - begin in June, which could offer solidarity for creators against these executives in a way Hollywood may never have seen before.
Closer to home, we've also witnessed the horrifying killing of Jordan Neely, a homeless man on a subway train suffering through some sort of nonviolent mental health crisis. The 30-year-old was held in a chokehold by ex-Marine Daniel Penny and died. What this says about the piss-poor treatment of homeless Americans and people with mental health issues is positively dystopian (based off the piss-poor statements from both the mayor and the governor alone), and we need to collectively work together to not view our neighbors as incorrect threats that can easily be snuffed out with unjustifiable violence. While we await some form of justice - honestly, who's to say if it's possible in this life - you can also donate to Neely's family as they organize funeral expenses for him.
Ben in Colorado says
Against my better judgment sometimes I look at this streaming column. And like somebody who picks at a sore, I read the post script. Inevitably, I come away, feeling frustrated and angry. Music is an escape. To use this website, and this particular feature as a way to air personal views and take sides on national issues is, I feel, inappropriate. It’s the music, not the author’s views that matters. So take it to Facebook or Twitter or somewhere else, but please don’t continue to assume that people care about anything other than Music.
Art is political, Ben, and to deny that is to be purposely obtuse. People only ever pick up a guitar (or whatever) to 1) get laid, and 2) change the world.
I'd challenge you to listen deeper to whomever you listen to and ask yourself if you would tell them to "shut up and dribble". Art has purpose, and that includes writing about art (which is also art). You may disagree (although I'd be aghast at anyone who is disagrees with the needless death of a fellow human, or sides against writers (again, this site is by writers and about songwriters and performers)), but given your perceived offense, I'd bet you'd be even more offended if anyone sought to restrict or confine your words and expression, especially on your own digital real estate.
Not here to debate, just to challenge some internal review. Have a great Sunday.
John Cunningham says
What an infant.
Mike, write about whatever you choose, please.
Snowflakes like Ben here do not get to dictate how the world works...
Mike Duquette says
Ben, I'm sorry you feel this way. I'm sorrier, unfortunately, that these dreadful and vile injustices are happening and it's up to people like us to use their voice because politicians, public servants and reasonable people think it's OK not to get involved.
Ultimately, if and when there is some sort of cause I choose to highlight in this column, there's usually a bit of boilerplate at the top indicating that such a cause is there. Your "picking at a sore" on a free web site is no more my responsibility than the care and feeding of my cat is yours.
My silence on issues that matter to me can probably be bought - but rest assured, it is not cheap.
Hey Ben...a question for ya...exactly what music is Jordan Neely going to listen to this weekend?...wondering for a friend...
That Hooters song is just awful.