When Elvis Presley entered RCA's famed Nashville Studio B in June 1970, expectations were high. His last major recording sessions - not counting those for the Universal film Change of Habit - had taken place at Memphis' American Sound Studio with producer Chips Moman, resulting in the acclaimed From Elvis in Memphis LP. Could he follow up that career triumph? Many would argue that he did. Rather than strictly repeat the formula, he and producer Felton Jarvis crafted the concept album Elvis
A Song for You: Recent Ace Collections Spotlight Songs of Leon Russell, Kris Kristofferson
Ace Records' two most recent entries in its Songwriter Series of collections both spotlight artists who bucked tradition to forge their own paths at the end of the 1960s and the dawn of the 1970s: Leon Russell and Kris Kristofferson. As we wrote upon his passing in 2016 at the age of 74, Leon Russell was an extraordinary talent unlike any other: A true renaissance man and an extraordinary talent as composer, musician, arranger, producer, and artist, The Master of Space and Time led many
The Year In Review: The 2020 Gold Bonus Disc Awards, From A to Z
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: Shania Twain, 'The Woman in Me (Diamond Edition)'
If there's one good thing we can pull from 2020's reissue slate, it's diversity. The end of the year's biggest box sets focused less on the typical classic-rock heavy-hitters and more on genres, eras and artists that typically don't get the red carpet treatment. It's a trend that would surely be nice to continue. The new "Diamond Edition" of Shania Twain's The Woman in Me (Mercury Nashville/UMe B0032601-02) checks off all three of those boxes, yet it's initially an odd sell. After all, isn't
Holiday Gift Guide Spotlight: Cherry Red Box Set Bonanza - Rhinoceros, Jerry Jeff Walker, Fumble
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
Holiday Gift Guide Review: Buck Owens and His Buckaroos, "A Merry 'Hee Haw' Christmas"
Omnivore has served up one of the year's most festive treats with the first-ever CD reissue of A Merry "Hee Haw" Christmas from Buck Owens and The Buckaroos. The 1970 Capitol release collected both of Buck and his band's Christmas albums - 1965's Christmas with Buck Owens and His Buckaroos and its 1968 follow-up, Christmas Shopping - as a double-album tie-in with Owens' starring role on television's Hee Haw. The country-themed variety show was midway through its 1969-1971 run on CBS-TV; it
Review: "Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein Plus" from Bear Family Records
Gather 'round, fellows, I'll tell you some tales... "If I had known what you were doing in the studio, I would have stopped it," Bobby Bare recalled RCA Victor's Jerry Bradley telling him upon hearing the singer's 1973 double album Sings Lullabys, Legends, and Lies. Happily, Bradley had to live with the album that marked Bare's return to RCA after a brief sojourn to rival Mercury Records. RCA's Nashville chief Chet Atkins wanted Bare back on the label, and gave him the freedom to create the
Devoted to You: Edsel Collects Everly Brothers' "Cadence Recordings" on CD, Reissues Albums on Vinyl
Brothers Don and Phil Everly successfully straddled the line between country and rock-and-roll (with a healthy dollop of R&B) beginning with their first hit record, 1957's "Bye Bye Love." Still an oldies-radio staple today, the Felice and Boudleaux Bryant classic began a long stretch of successes for the duo. Archie Bleyer, of Cadence Records, signed the boys in February 1957 and was keenly aware of their potential to appeal to both teenaged and adult markets. At his behest, the Everlys
Review: Hank Williams, "Pictures from Life's Other Side"
Hank Williams' Pictures from Life's Other Side isn't your ordinary box set. The collection from BMG is essentially a big, handsome coffee table book with six CDs as musical accompaniment. But when the subject is Hank Williams, the music can't be an afterthought - and it certainly isn't here. The discs in this lavish tome present all 144 tracks recorded by Williams for his 1951 radio show sponsored by the Mother's Best flour company. After gaining a considerable audience as part of the popular
Let's Do It Again: Playback Records Returns with Curtis Mayfield, Timi Yuro Collections
Australia's Playback Records label returned to the scene in 2019 with a pair of new releases and the promise of more to come. Today, we're looking at those new titles from Curtis Mayfield and Timi Yuro! As a writer, producer, and artist - both solo and with The Impressions - Curtis Mayfield (1942-1999) was one of the foremost exponents of Chicago soul. He penned such favorites as Jan Bradley's "Mama Didn't Lie" and Major Lance's "The Monkey Time," not to mention such Impressions hits as
The Year in Review: The 2019 Gold Bonus Disc Awards, From A to Z
Happy 2020 and welcome to The Second Disc's 10th Annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards! It's time once again to recognize this year's cream of the crop - those exemplary reissues and box sets big and small that proved to be truly outstanding products for music lovers worldwide. There was no shortage of great reissue titles in 2019; in fact, by our count, we covered over 700 releases in all! And after much deliberation, we're excited to unveil our favorites. This isn't your run-of-the-mill Top 10,
Holiday Gift Guide Reviews: Cherry Red's Esoteric and Grapefruit Imprints Offer Diverse Box Sets
Cherry Red's ongoing series of small clamshell box sets filled with big content make for the perfect stocking stuffer! Here's a look at three more titles you might have missed... Climax Blues Band's The Albums 1973-1976 is the second such box set released this year by Cherry Red's Esoteric Recordings imprint, following The Albums 1969-1972. This 4-CD set contains the following albums, culminating in the biggest commercial triumph for the band that began its life as The Climax Chicago Blues
Holiday Gift Guide Review: Bear Family Explores "The Bakersfield Sound" on New Box Set
Get Along Down to Town Bakersfield, California is a long way from Nashville - a little under 2,020 miles west, actually. But the distance isn't quite as great when one considers how much significant country music came out of the city in Kern County. Recent years have seen numerous reissues from legendary Bakersfield artists like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, as well as a fine exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame. But now Bear Family Records has delivered the ultimate tribute to the
Review: Bob Dylan featuring Johnny Cash, "Travelin' Thru: The Bootleg Series Vol. 15 (1967-1969)"
There's a delicious moment on the fifteenth volume of Bob Dylan's long-running Bootleg Series. The troubadour is in Columbia Records' Nashville Studio A, rehearsing a duet medley with Johnny Cash of his "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and Cash's "Understand Your Man." Once they stop playing, The Man in Black happily observes that "the phrasing comes out just right, 'cause we both stole it from the same song!" Indeed, Dylan and Cash shared substantial musical roots, with less than a decade
Earwig Music Unearths Trove of Chicago Blues and Soul on "Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection"
Chicago in the '50s was overflowing with skilled bluesmen, vocal groups, gospel singers, not to mention the mom-and-pop labels eager to make a hit off the artists. There are the now-famous labels - Chess, Delmark, and Vee-Jay among them. But the Windy City was so teeming with talent (and entrepreneurial hucksters trying to launch their own careers) that small, independent labels were plentiful. Earwig Music Company celebrates one such label in its ambitious new box set, Cadillac Baby's Bea
Review: "Country Music - A Film by Ken Burns: The Soundtrack"
Can the circle be unbroken? asks The Carter Family on the opening track of Legacy Recordings' new 5-CD, 105-song soundtrack to Ken Burns' epic documentary Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns. The 1935 funeral hymn is a most appropriate way to begin this collection exploring the manifold branches of country music, but the tone on the box set is far from funereal as it gallops from "hillbilly music" to blues, folk, western swing, rockabilly, countrypolitan, outlaw country, and beyond. Country Music
Review: Glen Campbell, "The Legacy [1961-2017]"
Glen Campbell's career-spanning box set is modestly titled The Legacy, fitting for the unlikely superstar from Delight, Arkansas. While The Legend might have been equally appropriate, Campbell's legacy is, truly, unlike any other. Throughout an extraordinary seven-decade career encompassing 21 Top 40 Pop hits, 27 Top 10 Country singles, six Top 20 Pop albums, and nine No. 1 Country albums in the United States alone, the artist regularly transcended genre with his honeyed vocals and virtuosic
Review: Ronnie Lane, "Just For A Moment: Music 1973-1997"
Ask any of his collaborators and they'll tell you, Ronnie Lane was special. Sure, he was an exceedingly talented singer, bassist, guitarist, and songwriter; he was also a uniquely open-minded and welcoming collaborator who was more than willing to nurture talent. But what really sets Ronnie Lane apart is the way he subverted what it meant to be a popular musician. Unlike the majority of his peers, Ronnie Lane didn't want to be a rock star. He wanted his music to reach people, sure, but he'd
Swinging Doors: Grateful Dead, Emmylou, Dolly, Dino, More Celebrate "The Merle Haggard Songbook"
Along with Buck Owens - with whom he shared a musical history and a wife - Merle Haggard (1937-2016) defined The Bakersfield Sound of country music: authentic, raw, rooted in honky-tonks. But unlike the Texas-born and Arizona-raised Owens, Haggard was actually born in Bakersfield and raised just across the river from that California town. "Hag," as he preferred to be known, rocketed to superstardom thanks to "Okie from Muskogee," his controversial 1969 song that was either a scathing
UPDATED: Different Drummer: Edsel Collects Michael Nesmith's RCA and Pacific Arts Years on New Box Set
And the Hits Just Keep On Comin'. Michael Nesmith titled his 1972 RCA album ironically - when it "bubbled under" the Billboard 200 at No. 208, it actually bested its predecessor by three slots - but the LP did feature the once and future Monkee's rendition of one major favorite, "Different Drum." The 1965 tune became an enduring hit for the Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt in 1967, establishing Nesmith outside of The Monkees. Since 1968, he's released 16 studio albums. Recently, 12 of
In the Pocket: Ace Salutes Mickie Most, Reggie Young on New Anthologies
The names of Mickie Most and Reggie Young might not be among the most familiar except to diehard music aficionados, but the songs that benefited from their respective golden touches certainly are among the most well-known ever. Ace Records has recently paid tribute to both of these late talents with a pair of deluxe anthologies. The Pop Genius of Mickie Most may be the most lavish single-disc package yet released by Ace, housed in a heavy slipcase also containing a squarebound 74-page
Holiday Gift Guide Review: Lefty Frizzell, "An Article from Life: The Complete Recordings"
The music of William Orville "Lefty" Frizzell (1928-1975), one of the most influential honky-tonk singers of all time, has long been a cornerstone of the Bear Family catalogue. The German reissue specialists first compiled the Frizzell oeuvre in 1984 as a 14-LP box set, updating that in 1992 on 12 CDs. Now, more than 25 years later, the Bears have returned to the country-and-western troubadour's career for the most definitive chronicle ever. An Article from Life: The Complete Recordings has
Holiday Gift Guide Review: Neil Diamond, "50th Anniversary Collector's Edition"
I. I Got the Feelin' In his 1966 debut single for Bang Records, Neil Diamond famously declared himself a "Solitary Man." But the New York singer-songwriter wasn't to be solitary for very long, as he soon gained the worldwide audience that, over 50 years later, still follows each one of his musical endeavors. Diamond has just looked back on his remarkable career on a handsome new box set from Capitol Records and UMe. 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition expands upon the similarly-titled
Holiday Gift Guide Review: Eagles, "Legacy"
Just Find a Place to Make Your Stand On the list of the United States' five best-selling albums of all time, one name stands tall - the only artist to lay claim to two of those five titles. That artist is, of course, a band: Eagles. 1976's Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) sits atop the list at 38 million copies sold; Hotel California is third with 26 million. The ten tracks on the former are all modern-day standards, each and every one of them still a radio staple. Though the original
Review: Golden Smog, "Down By the Old Mainstream" from Run Out Groove
What do you get when you bring together members of Wilco, Soul Asylum, and The Jayhawks and throw them into a remote recording studio in Minnesota wilderness? Well, as the Run Out Groove label proved with its LP reissue earlier this year, the result is one mighty down-home, fun album of country-rock grooves: Down By the Old Mainstream by '90s supergroup Golden Smog. While their lineup has been mercurial since they first got together in the late-'80s, the core lineup included Kraig Johnson of