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. There's a plethora of breakouts from box sets new to streaming, from John Lennon to Prince - plus rare remixes by Cyndi Lauper and a surprise treat from a beloved theme park.
John Lennon, Imagine (The Ultimate Mixes / Deluxe) / Imagine (The Elements Mixes) / Imagine (The Evolution Documentary) / Imagine (The Raw Studio Mixes) / Imagine (The Out-Takes / Deluxe) (Apple/Capitol/UMe)
This week, to celebrate what would have been John Lennon's 83rd birthday, Ume took the bonus material from 2018's Imagine: The Ultimate Collection box set - featuring remixes and outtakes from the sessions to Lennon's second post-Beatles studio album - and made them digitally available, separating them into five new compilations. (Some of these 78 tracks were only available on the accompanying Blu-ray.) UMe also announced plans to do the same with the bonus material from a 2021 reissue of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, as well as the forthcoming release of a box set devoted to 1973's Mind Games in the summer of 2024, set to feature "six albums' worth of material."
The deluxe box set of Prince and The NPG's 1991 smash Diamonds and Pearls is due in two weeks, but the live audio - a 1992 warm-up set for the ensuing tour at The Artist's Minneapolis club Glam Slam, which featured several tracks that would end up on that year's follow-up Love Symbol - is streaming in advance, and available in Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio where applicable.
Today (October 13) marks the 40th anniversary of Cyndi Lauper's 1983 debut album She's So Unusual. The distinctive singer earned her first nomination for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year and also saw the premiere of a career-spanning documentary, Let the Canary Sing, at the Tribeca Film Festival this past summer. (When it gets a distribution deal, expect the latter to grease the wheels for the former.) To celebrate, Legacy Recordings has digitally reissued a 1989 Japanese-only EP offering original 12" mixes of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," "She Bop," "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough," "Change of Heart" and "What's Going On" - almost all of which are available to stream or download for the first time.
James, 1990 Singles / 1991 Singles / 1992 Singles (Mercury/EMI)
Starting over the summer, Manchester rockers James started issuing streaming-only sets featuring all the A and B-sides they issued over a period of three years, covering their tenure on the Fontana label starting in the early '90s. We imagine this series is keen to continue, perhaps with downloadable options to get some of those harder-to-find cuts more snugly in the hands of fans. Thanks to our reader Willard for pointing this out last week!
After brief stints at Live Aid in 1985 and the climax of Ozzy Osbourne's 1992 "retirement" tour, the original lineup of Black Sabbath reunited on a somewhat more permanent basis in 1997 for a tour. (Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler had already performed under the name at the inaugural Ozzfest, with Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin subbing for an ailing Bill Ward.) Two homecoming shows recorded at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham formed the live album Reunion in 1998, which was further augmented with new studio tracks "Psycho Man" and "Selling My Soul." This new digital deluxe edition of that album features a remaster of the double album - including a Grammy-winning version of "Iron Man" - with new bonus mixes of the studio tracks by former Black Grape multi-instrumentalist Danny Saber.
The fifth volume of Ellington in Order includes two songs the Duke made standards (and Top 10 hits) during the early '30s: the original instrumental "Sophisticated Lady" and "Stormy Weather" - plus 46 other tracks, including a host of rare alternate studio takes.
Another one-off single from Zang Tuum Tumb makes its way to digital channels for the label's 40th anniversary. Originally issued in 1997 by the electronic duo Public Demand (with production from ZTT mainstay Trevor Horn), "Invisible" got the remix treatment here from notable house and electronic heroes like Steve "Silk" Hurley and Dillinja.
Universal Studios Islands of Adventure (Official Soundtrack) (Universal Destinations and Experiences) (iTunes)
Finally, here's a fun little curio to set you in a vacation mood: in 1999, when Universal Studios Florida opened its sister theme park Islands of Adventure, the company released this keepsake album featuring spirited original music you'd hear around the various themed areas of the park, including a Dr. Seuss-themed area, one devoted to the Marvel Comics superheroes (years before Disney bought the publisher), one based on Jurassic Park and more, including the spirited "Call to Adventure" theme guests still hear when entering the park gates. Theme park music is hard to come by in any format these days - there are original arrangements of themes to Universal rides based on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future and JAWS that have mostly never been released - so let's hope this is the start of a trend!