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. It's a full '80s revival this week, including a rare Duran Duran track and some live cuts from Squeeze,and - whether you're ready for it or not - a batch of Christmas catalogue titles.
Duran Duran are back in a big way this fall, set to release the album Danse Macabre, a collection of new songs, covers of acts like The Rolling Stones, Talking Heads, Siouxsie and The Banshees and others, plus a few revisited deep cuts from their catalogue. (All of this will feature guest appearances from three major guitarists tied to the group's history: Andy Taylor, Nile Rodgers and Warren Cuccurullo!) But if that's not enough for you, the group recently unearthed a gem from the material they own themselves (all recorded after 1997) and license to BMG for distribution: "Ball and Chain," a Japanese bonus track from the album Medazzaland.
Another five songs from Squeeze's 2012 set at The Fillmore in San Francisco get bundled up into a new EP - sort of a gift from singer/songwriter/guitarist Glenn Tilbrook (who celebrated his birthday this past week) as well as a hype package for their imminent U.S. tour with The Psychedelic Furs. Features "Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)," "Black Coffee in Bed," "Hourglass" and others.
Last week, another vintage bundle of Madonna remixes - this time celebrating the 25th anniversary of a key single from Ray of Light - was made available to stream or download, and we missed it. (Thanks to the humble and insistent reader Bob George for pointing it out.) I do want to take a second to talk about the whys and hows of "missing" these things, though. Ever since Rhino started putting these singles out, they fall into a few different categories. Some end up in the "Singles and EPs" section of Apple Music (makes sense), or, if they're long enough, end up in either the "Albums" or "Compilations" sections. And among those releases, they'll feature either a date stamp of the current year - the better to mark them as the latest release on Madonna's page - or the year they were released originally. As you might suspect, these variations make for a genuinely terrible way to keep track of what is out. (This one was credited as an album with a 1998 release instead of a single meant to look current.) And the lack of official social communication from the Queen of Pop's channels obfuscates the issue even more. So, I guess, keep letting us know, until someone official decides to do so?
The ninth month of the year has barely begun, but Legacy's digital vaults are already unlocking some treasures for the Christmas season. The first of two today is a downloadable port of 2019's terrific Second Disc/Real Gone collection compiled by our own Joe Marchese, featuring 46 Yuletide favorites from guitar legend Chet Atkins released between 1953 and 1996. (That's John Sellards' cover art design on the digital album, too!)
Legacy's other Christmas catalogue release today is an expansion of the 2013 holiday album from Tamar Braxton, Toni's youngest sister. (The two original bonus tracks were included on pressings of the album sold at Target; one of them, the original "Watchin' Me (Yep, I Know It)," was recorded for Braxton's acclaimed sophomore album Love and War, released earlier that year.)
For a few short years in the mid-'50s, Groove Records put the "blues" in rhythm and blues, signing acts to concoct a unique sort of blues/soul in a changing singles market. (The RCA-distributed label would end up merged with Vik by the end of the decade.) While this 82-track collection oddly doesn't include the label's biggest smash (and near swan song), Mickey & Sylvia's "Love is Strange," it does feature great sides by the likes of The Du Droppers, boogie-woogie pianist Jack Dupree, blues harpist Sonny Terry, and some exceptionally rare tracks by a pre-teen guitar prodigy named George Benson.
Issued in 1993, this was the first of a two-volume sampler set that promised, as Allmusic put it, "the funkiest soul-jazz and hard-bop in the Blue Note catalog." Though none of it is rare by today's standards, it features great cuts from Herbie Hancock, Art Blakey, Stanley Turrentine and others.
Visage, The Anvil (Deluxe Edition) / Fade to Grey: The Singles Collection (Deluxe Edition) (UMe)
British New Wave sextet Visage scored one big Top 10 at home with "Fade to Grey," but were perhaps best known for what its members did on either side of the group: guitarist John McGeoch, bassist Barry Adamson and synth player Dave Formula had come from post-punk band Magazine (and McGeoch soon left Visage to join Siouxsie and The Banshees), multi-instrumentalists Midge Ure and Billy Currie would later become part of Ultravox, and late frontman Steve Strange and drummer Rusty Egan were influential club promoters in England. These two expansions were originally released on CD by Rubellan Remasters, featuring not only some rare and unreleased mixes and B-sides but a rare "mixed" version of compilation Fade to Grey, presented as a continuous listening experience.
ZTT's 40th anniversary digital Definition Series marches on with another port of a rare 12", this time coming from The Art of Noise's Record Store Day box set Daft As a Brush, featuring various mixes of iconic single "Moments in Love."