Welcome to The Weekend Stream, a relaxing review of notable digital-only catalogue titles. There may be no CD or vinyl, but there's plenty of great new/old music to float you into the weekend. Big things happening in this column: two big box sets from a legendary prog-turned-pop outfit, rare mixes from one of pop's most legendary performers, tons of remixes from a soulful producer/performer and 200(!) classical titles from a legendary British label. Whew!
Genesis, Archive #1 (1969 - 1975) / Archive #2 (1976 - 1992) (Atlantic/Rhino/Craft)
It was a relatively quiet story last fall that Concord's Craft Recordings acquired the publishing and recorded music catalogues of Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, both as solo artists and with Genesis. Thanks to eagle-eyed reader Mark Cook for the tip that the two Genesis Archive box sets issued in 1998 and 2000 are now digitally available! Each contained B-sides, live cuts and rarities tied to the group's classic quintet prog era with Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett (whose stakes are not covered in the Concord deal) and the world-conquering pop trio lineups of the group. One can only imagine what this means for future Genesis reissues.
On Thursday, Madonna's self-titled debut turned 40, and Rhino celebrated with another EP of digitally-debuting vintage remixes, this time of "Lucky Star," her fourth single and first of a staggering 38 Top 10 career hits in America. While the singer's brief but worrisome fight with a bacterial infection postponed her planned Celebration Tour of nothing but greatest hits, let's hope there's still a chance that there might be a reissue of this album to kick off some promised, overdue catalogue activity around her classic albums.
Quincy Jones, Back on the Block (Expanded Edition) / Q's Jook Joint (Expanded Edition) (Qwest/A&M/UMe)
It's not as if Quincy Jones was idle after the release of The Dude in 1981 - there was those blockbuster albums with Michael Jackson, after all - but eight years between albums at his caliber was a long time. Luckily, 1989's Back on the Block made it worth it, featuring guest spots from Ray Charles, Chaka Khan, Miles Davis, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, and rappers including Ice-T and Big Daddy Kane. Plus, the album introduced a fresh young singer in Tevin Campbell, and closed with the immortal bedroom jam "The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)," featuring Barry White, James Ingram, Al B. Sure! and El DeBarge in pure romantic mode. Six years after the album hit the Top 10, he was at it again with the platinum-selling Q's Jook Joint in 1995, featuring Stevie Wonder, Bono, Brian McKnight, Babyface, Ronnie Isley, Gloria Estefan, Phil Collins, Coolio and many others. As if those albums couldn't get any bigger, they've been digitally reissued with nearly four dozen bonus remixes between them.
Another entry in Legacy's ongoing streaming Live Series for Springsteen, this one offers 15 "introspective" songs ("The River," "Blinded by the Light," "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," "Downbound Train," "The Wrestler") taken from live sets recorded between 1978 and 2017 and released through Nugs.net.
One last digital taster for the upcoming The Lexicon of Love reissue before it's available. You know the drill by now: one of the original singles from the album, presented in Steven Wilson's new stereo and instrumental remixes plus a vintage live version that'll be in the box set.
R&B singer Mya's third album, issued in 2003, was an eclectic affair offering collaborations with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Rich Harrison, Timbaland and most notably Missy Elliott, who co-wrote and co-produced the album's Top 20 hit "My Love is Like...Wo." It's now expanded for its 20th anniversary with 10 B-sides and remixes, including a new version of "Wo" mixed by DJ Flex.
Perhaps the most incredible journey of the coming Broadway season is Harmony, a penned by Barry Manilow and longtime songwriting partner Bruce Sussman. It's a captivating enough tale onstage, telling the true story of the Comedian Harmonists, a dazzling German singing group whose international renown was threatened by the Nazis in the 1930s. But it's a killer saga offstage, too: Manilow's seemingly endless quest to fulfill his destiny as a Broadway composer started with an early version of the show in California in 1997. Despite many out-of-town productions, it seemed like it would never hit the Great White Way until a warmly-received off-Broadway run in 2022, which won a Drama Desk Award and was nominated for another two. The Broadway version finally premieres this fall, and the first taste of the accompanying cast album - a frequent staple of Manilow's live sets - is available today.
The latest Pulp EP to get digitized was the last single from Different Class, featuring the bonus track "Mile End" from the Trainspotting soundtrack and two versions of the difficult-to-type "F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E."
One of the more intriguing releases in ZTT's ongoing 40th anniversary digital Definition Series, Art & ACT were the portion of the label's esteemed Art of Noise collective after a bitter split. (Anne Dudley, J.J. Jeczalik, and Gary Langan carried on with the original name, while Trevor Horn and Paul Morley soldiered on here for ZTT. The ensuing material wasn't formally released until the 2010s, and was consolidated into this EP in 2019 as part of a Record Store Day box set.
Various Artists, Hyperion Records catalogue (Hyperion/UMG)
Classical fans no doubt perked up at the news earlier this year that Universal Music Group acquired the catalogue of Hyperion Records, which since 1980 had been releasing esteemed recordings of comparatively obscurer classical music. For the first time ever, Hyperion are working with UMG to make their esteemed catalogue available to stream. Today, 200 of the label's albums are available digitally, with more batches promised every two weeks starting September 15 and continuing into next spring, by which time the label's archive of over 2000 LPs will be available to stream or download. A monumental achievement: Hyperion's repertoire famously spans works from the 12th century to the present.