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. We're headed into most wonderful time of the year territory with a few holiday rarities, plus more Madonna remixes, rare live tracks from Portishead and a forgotten link between Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship.
We're officially in the months-long lead-up to the Christmas season - and while we have a whole holiday Weekend Stream planned for you before too long, a few big seasonal favorites couldn't wait that long to be opened! First up is a long-unavailable 1998 holiday album from the one and only Teddy Pendergrass, which ended up becoming the last album he released before his passing in 2010. Triumphing yet again over the car accident that rendered him unable to walk in 1982, his satin soul voices blends well with this collection of originals and classic carols.
While every Christmas since 2019 has seen Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" re-ascend to the Billboard Hot 100 - thank the streaming-era chart rule changes that allow catalog recurrents to bubble back up to the top - there's often another holiday song nipping at its heels: Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," released back in 1958. (The song originally peaked at No. 14 on the Hot 100 in 1960!) This year marks its 65th anniversary, and it's safe to argue UMe are set on seeing if Lee - 78 years old and still with us - can give the Queen of Christmas a run for her money. This new streaming EP (featuring the original "Tree" and a new reimagined remix) is part of the plan, as is the new music video in which she appears below.
One of Madonna's many Billboard dance chart toppers, this third single from 2003's American Life has been given the digital EP treatment with nearly a dozen remixes from the likes of Jason Nevins, Peter Rauhofer and more.
Portishead's fan favorite live release, which found them backed by a philharmonic orchestra in places, has been remastered and expanded for its 25th anniversary, featuring three tracks heard on the accompanying home video version.
In 1973 - halfway between his departure from Jefferson Starship and eventual temporary reunion with Jefferson Starship - Marty Balin fronted this funk-infused hard rock combo, which also featured members of Quicksilver Messenger Service and Country Joe & The Fish. Bodacious D.F.'s sole album is now available digitally.
Way back in 2014, TSD's own Joe Marchese compiled Robert Goulet's Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings release on CD for Real Gone Music, bringing together the late actor-singer's two full-length Christmas albums plus rare singles and a trio of tracks recorded with his then-wife, Carol Lawrence - all beautifully remastered by Sean Brennan at Battery Studios. While the collection included every holiday track then catalogued in Columbia Records' inventory, it turns out that one rarity was never properly documented and slipped between the cracks. "The Secret of Christmas" was composed by the Oscar-winning team of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen for the 1959 film Say One for Me. Bing Crosby introduced the ballad in the Frank Tashlin-directed comedy and on record (for Columbia, natch). Though it never entered the most-recorded tier of Christmas songs, Johnny Mathis, Ella Fitzgerald, Captain and Tennille and Julie Andrews all cut versions of their own. Goulet recorded his lush, heartfelt rendition (perhaps at the tail end of a session with Lawrence) - truly the sound of Christmas! - and it was promptly shelved for reasons unknown. In 1978, the track showed up on a 6LP box set from Columbia Special Products with the nondescript title of The Music of Christmas. Incorrectly credited to both Goulet and Lawrence, it disappeared again...until now.
Big kudos to Second Disc reader Rich D. for bringing "The Secret of Christmas" to our attention when he discovered it on the now-rare box set (so rare that a copy has never been sold on Discogs, and the album wasn't even listed on the site until recently). Our truly amazing friends at Legacy Recordings (thank you, Jeff and co.!) scoured the archives and found the pristine master which now makes its digital debut as a 30th track on the digital edition of The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings. Enjoy this moving gift from the late Robert Goulet to you; it may well be the finest recording of the song, and it's happily a secret no more.