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. From classic Jersey pop and British dance of the '80s to a bright young drummer keeping Detroit soul alive in the present day, our latest offerings pack quite a punch.
The New Jersey pop/rock outfit led by singer/songwriter Richard Barone made the jump from critical darlings to commercial success with the beloved Numbers with Wings EP, the title track of which became an MTV mainstay in the early days of the channel. (The video was among the first to garner a Best Director nod at the station's inaugural Video Music Awards.) For its 40th anniversary, it's been remastered and expanded with eight previously unreleased tracks recorded at the Jersey club Tradewinds in 1985, with an expanded band line-up that included percussion by Steve Scales (known for his work with Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club).
A deservedly high-profile release in ZTT's ongoing digital "Definition Series" to mark the 40th anniversary of the label, this is a newly-compiled collection celebrating one of the Art of Noise's defining singles (with some of its most distinct samples and sounds). Includes six versions of the track, including - for the first time digitally - the original 7" version and a mix heard on a 12" picture disc.
Drew Schultz, Back to Class, Vol. 2 (self-released) (Amazon)
You might not know Drew Schultz's name, but if you're a Motown fan, you should get to know him. As a teenager, he scored a plum gig touring with the current iteration of the Four Tops and parlayed that work into a fertile music career that's seen him work on stage with many members of the legendary label as well as behind the scenes managing music programs at the Motown Museum, built in the original Detroit office/studio on West Grand Boulevard. In 2012, he released the terrific Back to Class, which brought together a galaxy of vintage soul talent together for a series of originals that donated half its proceeds to music education programs in Detroit. More than a decade later, he's back at it again with another album for the same cause, featuring the Tops as well as Melvin Davis, Wayne Kramer of The MC5, Dennis Coffey, Spyder Turner and many more!
Stephen Bishop, The Heart is So Willing (self-released) (Amazon)
The beloved singer/songwriter recently unearthed on digital platforms this sweet single, written for the 1986 comedy The Money Pit, starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long.
U2, Lemon / Stay (Faraway, So Close!) (Island)
Quietly released for the 30th anniversary of Zooropa back in July and mentioned a few weeks ago by reader JG, these two EPs feature the latter two singles from U2's underrated 1993 album, coupled with a handful of new-to-digital mixes and B-sides, including a live take of Achtung Baby cut "Love is Blindness" and a cover of "I've Got You Under My Skin" Bono sang on for Frank Sinatra's Duets projects.
The fourth and final catalogue single reissue from the This is Hardcore era makes it to digital, featuring original B-sides and remixes.
Part of a quirky crop of prog-influenced '90s jam bands, moe. flirted with the mainstream in the mid-to-late '90s with two albums for Sony's 550 Music label. The latter, 1998's Tin Cans and Car Tires, was their first record with drummer Vinnie Amico, who's been part of the group ever since. The set includes three live cuts recorded at Chicago's Vic Theatre shortly before the album's release.
Are you ready to hit The Big Time? Married lounge singers Tony and Donna Stevenitti are, especially when they land a plum cruise ship booking. There's only one problem: the bookers think they've scored an appearance by Steve and Eydie - not the Stevenittis! Things get worse when Russian spies take over the ship...which just so happens to have all the members of NATO on board! Will the Stevenittis save the day? Well, of course they will, because The Big Time is the kind of show you thought they didn't write anymore: a big, splashy, brassy, all-singin', all-swingin' musical comedy! This world premiere recording features a Broadway "Who's Who" headlined by Tony Award winners Santino Fontana (Tootsie) and Debbie Gravitte (Jerome Robbins' Broadway), Diane Phelan (Into the Woods), Will Swenson (A Beautiful Noise), Michael McCormick (Hello, Dolly!), Jackie Hoffman (Hairspray), Bradley Dean (Bat Out of Hell), and Raymond Bokhour (Chicago). The score is by Douglas J. Cohen (No Way to Treat a Lady, The Gig), book by Douglas Carter Beane (Sister Act, Cinderella), orchestrations by August Eriksmoen, and musical direction by Eric Stern. Trust us: this could be the start of something BIG! TSD readers are also gently nudged in the direction of Cohen's stellar new book How to Survive a Killer Musical, a no-holds-barred look at the making of No Way to Treat a Lady, out now from Applause Books.