Like a Companion for Your Lonely Soul Those placing the needle on The Beach Boys' Sunflower upon its release in 1970 might have been taken aback by the sheer drive of its opening track. The lusty "Slip on Through" - co-written, produced, and primarily sung by Dennis Wilson - rocked harder than just about anything else in the band's discography to that point. The song announced that Sunflower was not just The Beach Boys' first album on a new label but the beginning of a new chapter
Joni Mitchell fiercely announced her independence with "I Had a King," the haunting soliloquy which opens her 1968 debut album, Song to a Seagull. "I can't go back there anymore," she proclaimed. "You know my keys won't fit the door/You know my thoughts don't fit the man. They never can...they never can..." The song is bold, wise, and flecked with a graceful equanimity as the singer declares her freedom both from a husband who "lives in another time" and the societal constraints of the day.
Bohemian Rhapsodies: A Closer Look at Vinyl Me Please's Reissues of Queen's "A Night at the Opera" and Al Green's "Call Me"
In April, record club Vinyl Me Please announced that it would be restoring some previously out-of-print titles to the catalogue to celebrate 100 releases in the club's Essentials series. (See the list of all ten titles here.) We've given a spin to the re-presses of Queen's A Night at the Opera and Al Green's Call Me. For Queen, too much was never enough. That attitude is perhaps best embodied by the band's fourth album, 1975's A Night at the Opera. While the title was derived from the Marx
Surely one of the most unlikely hits of 1976-77 was Al Stewart's "Year of the Cat." An atmospheric tale of romance in a faraway place with Casablanca name-checks of Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre, the song propelled the British singer-songwriter to the top of the pops: No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and even higher, No. 4, in Cash Box) and No. 8 AC as well as No. 31 in the U.K., his only chart appearance there. Following its expanded reissue late last year of Stewart's 24 Carrots, Cherry
When Fleetwood Mac's Live reached store shelves in time for Christmas 1980, the deluxe 2-LP set was following another mammoth affair: Tusk, released just fourteen months earlier. While Tusk was a success by any measure - it reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and yielded two U.S. top ten singles - it fell off the album chart within nine months as opposed to its predecessor, Rumours, which spent a record-breaking nine consecutive weeks at No. 1 in 1977-1978 on its way to becoming one of the
Oh! You Pretty Things: David Bowie's 1971 song became an anthem for the glam era: "Don't you know you're driving your mothers and fathers insane? Let me make it plain, you gotta make way for the homo superior..." Bowie's alien persona - androgynous, dangerous, sexy, and flamboyant - connected with youth and caused a stir among their parents. The song's title has now been adopted by a new 3-CD box set from Cherry Red's Grapefruit imprint. Alas, "Oh! You Pretty Things" doesn't appear anywhere
Jon Anderson's 1976 solo debut Olias of Sunhillow was a lockdown album decades before those were in vogue. Recorded in his home's garage with Anderson on every instrument, the singer-songwriter recalled three months of 10-hour days to bring the ambitious sci-fi/fantasy concept album to life. While its success was modest - it peaked at No. 47 in the U.S. and a stronger No. 8 at home in the U.K. - Olias musically anticipated Anderson's collaborations with Vangelis and is today fondly looked upon
Motown's Rare Earth imprint intended to bring the sound of rock to the home of The Supremes, The Miracles, Martha and The Vandellas, The Temptations, and Four Tops. The imprint was named after a white rock band from Detroit and its artists were both home-grown and licensed from other parties. In the latter category was Toe Fat, a U.K. psych-rock band built around the talents of Cliff Bennett, formerly of the beat group Cliff Bennett and The Rebel Rousers. Both of Toe Fat's albums - issued on
"Hey Clockface, keep those fingers on the dial," Elvis Costello implored on the jaunty, jazz-flavored title track of his 2020 album. "You said you'd be a friend to me, but time is just my enemy and it is hurting me so..." Despite his pleas, time has been rather good to Costello's artistry. Though initially branded an "angry young man" - and indeed, he channeled the punk zeitgeist early on with his fast and furious compositions - Costello has been able to travel wherever his muse takes him.
High Time: Cherry Red, Grapefruit Collects U.K. Band Byzantium on "Halfway Dreaming: Anthology 1969-75"
Byzantium was only active for a brief period at the tail end of the late 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, but the band is still well-remembered within the British underground rock scene. Now, the group's officially issued works (and more!) have been collected by Cherry Red's Grapefruit imprint on the new 5-CD set Halfway Dreaming: Anthology 1969-75. Byzantium emerged from the ashes of the band Ora, formed by students Robin Sylvester, Julian Diggle, and Jamie Rubinstein at University
Truth in advertising: Iron Butterfly's first album was titled Heavy. The 1968 Atco Records release introduced the band's dense sound fusing hard rock and psychedelia with a set of original songs plus a reimagining of Allen Toussaint's "Get Out of My Life Woman." While three-fifths of the band left after that debut, Heavy nonetheless began Iron Butterfly on a journey encompassing four studio LPs, one-off tracks, and live sets through 1971. Now, that journey has been lavishly chronicled on a
Happy 2021 and welcome to The Second Disc's 11th Annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards! The past year has presented any number of unprecedented challenges. But music has filled a more important role than ever, providing solace, comfort, and escape in a time unlike any other. With that spirit in mind, The Second Disc once again wishes to recognize 2020's cream of the catalogue music crop - those exemplary reissues and box sets big and small that proved to be truly outstanding for music lovers
Holiday Gift Guide Review: Legacy Looks Back at 1970 With Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix Archival Offerings
50 years ago, two of American music's greatest talents proved they were still venturing into new territories. Elvis Presley, some decade and a half after he first took the world by storm, was setting up shop in Nashville for a marathon session that saw him pulling from the new popular songbook and many songs written just for him. These sessions delivered several albums' worth of material and are now presented chronologically in a new box set, complete with exciting new mixes on From Elvis In
As our Holiday Gift Guide continues with a fourth and final look at Cherry Red's recent box set offerings, we wanted to bring to your attention two collections that would look great underneath the tree, whether for a prog-rock enthusiast in your life or for yourself (we won't tell!). First up: Barclay James Harvest's And Other Short Stories, recently reissued as a 2-CD/DVD set. The English prog rock outfit Barclay James Harvest had already made a name for themselves as part of Harvest
Prepare to elevate your soul with this 20th anniversary box set edition of U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind. Twenty years into their career, U2 rang in the new millennium with a career-redefining recording that saw them return to the upper echelons of the Billboard charts, with Grammy nominations and worldwide hits to boot. With enduring instant classics like "Beautiful Day," "Walk On," "Elevation," and "Stuck in a Moment That You Can't Get Out Of," it's no wonder the album remains a
Welcome to the third part of our Holiday Gift Guide Spotlight - Cherry Red Box Set Bonanza! Click here for Part One, featuring Evelyn "Champagne" King, and here for Part Two featuring Graham Bonnet! When one thinks of bands assembled by audition, The Monkees usually spring to mind. Davy, Micky, Peter, and Michael had been assembled by Screen Gems for the purposes of starring in a new television sitcom, and by sheer force of will became a "real" band making some of the era's most
Perhaps no label this holiday season has offered such a bonanza of box sets as Cherry Red. Yesterday, we looked at Evelyn "Champagne" King's The RCA Albums 1977-1985. Today, we're turning the spotlight onto Graham Bonnet's Solo Albums 1974-1982! Cherry Red's Hear No Evil (HNE) imprint has long been a home for archival releases from singer Graham Bonnet of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, Alcatrazz, and The Michael Schenker Group. Now, HNE has brought together Bonnet's first four solo albums,
For The Doors, 1970 should have been a new beginning. Upon the February 1 release of the band's fifth album, Morrison Hotel, Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore were still recovering from the events of the prior year. On March 1, 1969, Morrison famously (or infamously?) exposed himself onstage in Coconut Grove, Florida. The Lizard King's "indecent exposure" led to the cancellation of over two dozen concerts and some radio stations' refusal to play The Doors' music.
Holiday Gift Guide Reviews: Cat Stevens, "Mona Bone Jakon" and "Tea for the Tillerman" 50th Anniversary Editions
1970 was a defining year for pop music, and few stars ascended to quite the same heights as Cat Stevens, whose Mona Bone Jakon and Tea For the Tillerman re-introduced the songwriter and singer to audiences. Gone are the production excesses of his late-'60s pop recordings. Here, Stevens' songs are stripped-down as he looks inward and embraces a soulful sound. Fifty years on, these two albums have been revisited by Yusuf through his aptly titled Cat-O-Log Records imprint, in coordination with
Over the past few months you've probably heard us mention Vinyl Me Please. The subscription-based record club frequently partners with the major labels to create exclusive pressings from across genres. They also curate Records of the Month for subscribers - available in three tracks: Classics, Essentials, and Hip Hop - specially selected by their staff to spotlight albums of importance in pop, rock, soul, world music, jazz, and beyond. This year, the offerings ran the gamut from The Stooges,
As a founding member of The Moody Blues, Ray Thomas (1941-2018) played the haunting flute solo on the band's 1967 hit "Nights in White Satin." He also was responsible for writing many of the Moodies' most beloved songs including "Twilight Time," "And the Tide Rushes In," and "Legend of a Mind." A multi-instrumentalist and singer, Thomas recorded two solo albums for the group's Threshold Records label: 1975's From Mighty Oaks and 1976's Hopes, Wishes, and Dreams. This fall, Cherry Red's
Welcome to The Second Disc's first Holiday Gift Guide Review of the season! Between now and Christmas, we'll be spotlighting various titles that just might make ideal holiday gifts for the music lovers in your life. Watch this space for the upcoming launch of the full Holiday Gift Guide! Flying hospital beds, laser-eyed pigs, and fire. No, it's not a sci-fi flick, it's Pink Floyd. Long known for their spectacular blending of stage displays, props, and music, the band kicked it up a notch
Following Tuesday's look at Brian Protheroe's albums collection, we're exploring another recent box from Cherry Red and 7Ts! "Oh-ho-ho, it's magic, you know..." With that memorable 1974 international hit, Pilot burst into the public consciousness. While the band founded by David Paton, Billy Lyall, and Stuart Tosh was only able to spin off three more chart singles, "Magic" remains a classic radio staple. 7Ts has collected the band's first four long-players from 1974-1977 on a clamshell
"The finest night of the year..." Frank Zappa knew how to throw one hell of a Halloween party. The iconoclastic composer-bandleader counted Halloween as his favorite holiday, and his annual celebratory shows were among his most anticipated. The 1981 stand at the late, lamented Palladium - a once-plush 1927 movie palace sadly demolished in 1998 to make room for dormitories at New York University - was particularly special to Zappa's fans as he had curtailed the 1980 shows earlier than
Tell Me Who in This House Know About the Quake Would a look into Prince's Crystal Ball ever have predicted this? For the third of its deluxe album reissues - following a 3CD/DVD expansion of Purple Rain and a 5CD/DVD deluxe box of 1999 - Warner Records and NPG have unveiled the most lavish archival project yet to emerge from the Prince archive. In terms of both physical size and its contents, the new Sign "O" The Times Super Deluxe Edition box set is larger in every sense than its