Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Beach Boys - Summer Love Songs: Girls On The Beach Compilation

Capitol/EMI are set to issue yet another new Beach Boys compilation - Summer Love Songs: Girls On The Beach - on May 19th. Now, Capitol in the past ten years or so has released several of these sort of compilations. You know the sort of thing - a small handful of unreleased songs on a compilation with all previously released songs. The kind of releases that have an unmistakable scent of exploiting collectors. Capitol is also responsible for some fine quality releases too. What are some of them? I'll just list them all, for your convenience.

Endless Harmony Soundtrack (1998 with a significant upgrade in 2000)
The Greatest Hits Vol.1: 20 Good Vibrations (1999)
The Greatest Hits Vol.2: 20 More Good Vibrations (1999)
Greatest Hits, Vol. 3: The Best Of The Brother Years, 1970-1986 (2000)
Hawthorne, CA: Birthplace Of A Musical Legacy (2001)
Pet Sounds [mono / stereo] (2001)
Classics: Selected by Brian Wilson (2002)
Good Timin': Live At Knebworth England 1980 (2002 - on DVD as well)
Sounds Of Summer: The Very Best Of The Beach Boys (2003)
Sights & Sounds Of Summer CD/DVD Set (same as above with ten track DVD)(2003)
Songs From Here & Back (ten track live album plus, released through Hallmark) (2006)
Pet Sounds: 40th Anniversary [CD/DVD Set] (2006)
Good Vibrations: 40th Anniversary Edition EP (2006)
The Warmth Of The Sun (2007)
US Singles Collection Box: The Capitol Years, 1962-1965 (2008)

That's a lot of releases.

Considering that of all the major artists of their era, The Beach Boys (supposedly, well probably) have one of the deepest catalogs of unreleased material, one wonders why Capitol haven't tapped into the wellspring of obscure material that fans of the band will surely buy. There's more potential for definite sales as opposed to re-selling a would-be best-of compilation with a few rarities. Not too many people are willing to buy the same best-of over and over (regardless how slight the track variation may be). The track listing for this is okay, if not seemingly random. There are three cover versions included that are, for all intents and purposes, purely exercises in production techniques. And woefully needless considering the amount of great original material The Beach Boys have in the vaults. The Beach Boys' 1960's recordings are, for the most part, optimally heard in mono. So the stereo mixes are, ostensibly, alternate versions that may or may not be superior to the well-established mono mixes. The only new item to many people is the fantastic "Fallin' In Love" (aka "Lady"). Assuming it's a different version included here - the only released version was on the 1970 "Sound Of Free" solo single credited to 'Dennis Wilson & Rumbo' which was Dennis Wilson and Daryl Dragon (aka The Captain of Captain & Tennille).

Here's the track listing (* = Previously Unreleased):

1. Don't Worry, Baby [new stereo mix from newly recovered analog multi-track master]*
2. Why Do Fools Fall In Love [new stereo mix from newly recovered analog multi-track master]*
3. Wouldn't It Be Nice
4. God Only Knows
5. Surfer Girl
6. California Girls
7. Please Let Me Wonder
8. In The Parkin' Lot
9. Your Summer Dream
10. Kiss Me, Baby
11. Hushabye [new stereo mix]*
12. I'm So Young [new stereo mix]*
13. Good To My Baby [new stereo mix]*
14. Fallin' In Love [previously unreleased track, written and recorded by Dennis Wilson]*
15. Time To Get Alone [new stereo mix]*
16. Our Sweet Love
17. Help Me, Rhonda
18. Keep An Eye On Summer
19. Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
20. Girls On The Beach

Considering some Beach Boys compilations have in fact served real purposes like, for example, 1981's excellent double-album Ten Years Of Harmony - that collected a sizable amount of their 70's gems - would be a nice collection to have remastered on CD. And some have taken on lives of their own so to speak in terms of getting material to new fans (i.e. the triumvirate of 1974's Endless Summer, 1975's Spirit Of America and 1982's Sunshine Dream). It's surprising that these have yet to appear on newly-remastered CDs by now. And then there's what fans really want. Maybe, the legendary unreleased album Smile? It's basically all recorded (the 1966-67 version that is) all that needs to be done is a definitive mix/sequence. How about the recently-recovered live album Beachago (recorded on the 1975 tour with Chicago)? Or perhaps Brian's groovy 1977 album Adult/Child? Or maybe the dozens of songs recorded in the 1969-1971 period some of which surfaced on the illicitly-released album Landlocked?

It's not as if the well of material is dry. Not by a long shot. It's just a matter of time before they wise up and start to release the unreleased stuff compiled, definitively.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Rolling Stones To Reissue Fourteen Albums

Okay, so I've come to the realization that I've been covering a lot of reissue campaigns as of late. So be it. There are a lot of things recently being "definitively" reissued. To add to that list are - hot on the heels of their umpteenth film (last year's Shine A Light) - The Rolling Stones. Their first fifteen albums - virtually all of their 1960's albums - were reissued some seven years ago. And alas, seven years later Universal Music Group (that's UMG to you and me) are reissuing everything from 1971's Sticky Fingers to 2005's A Bigger Bang.

The first four (Sticky Fingers, Goats Head Soup, It's Only Rock 'N' Roll, Black And Blue) have a release date of May 4th. The next four (Some Girls, Emotional Rescue, Tattoo You, Undercover) come out June 8th. And the next five (Dirty Work, Steel Wheels, Voodoo Lounge, Bridges To Babylon, A Bigger Bang) are to be issued July 13th.

What's that you say? I only listed thirteen? That's because UMG is going to issue the critically-acclaimed 1972 double-album Exile On Main Street sometime later this year. They're also planning to offer a collector’s box to house all fourteen releases. Although, I'm sure a large percentage of Stones fans' favorite albums have already been reissued in the first reissue campaign in 2002 - their stellar 60's work such as Flowers, Between The Buttons, Aftermath and the unfairly maligned Their Satanic Majesties Request - surely many will be pleased with the belated set of reissues.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Paul McCartney Amazes At Coachella Festival

The tenth-annual three-day Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival took place this past weekend in Indio, California. Despite a troubled economy well over 150,000 were in attendance and well over one hundred acts performed at the multi-stage event. Some of the more notable acts that performed were Paul McCartney, Leonard Cohen, The Cure, Morrissey, The Bob Mould Band, Franz Ferdinand, Paul Weller, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Superchunk, X, Fleet Foxes, Public Enemy, Joss Stone, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, My Bloody Valentine, Henry Rollins, The Killers, Perry Farrell and The Hold Steady.

While several artists impressed many, the show-stopper by all accounts was the performance by Sir Paul McCartney. It's amazing that, regardless of whether the vocals are not what they once were, the tempos have slowed down a touch - some performers continue to endear with age (Brian Wilson...Sir Paul) while many others do not. Perhaps it's the all the timeless songs under the belt, the very many achievements and countless influenced by them - there's certainly something to be said for an artist who constantly stays driven and relevant regardless of current trends.

McCartney's set included "Jet", "Got To Get You Into My Life", "Band On The Run, "Live & Let Die", "Eleanor Rigby", "Paperback Writer", "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band", "A Day In The Life", "Get Back", "I've Got A Feeling", "Hey Jude", "The Long & Winding Road", John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance", George Harrison's "Something", the John Lennon tribute "Here Today", "The Fireman", "Let It Be", "Yesterday", "Helter Skelter", "Lady Madonna", "Can’t Buy Me Love", "The End", a tribute to late wife Linda (who passed away eleven years ago to the very date) "My Love" and several others.

A poignant set list to be sure. I'm glad he's still out there doing it as well as he is. I'm of the belief that there's always room for pop music legends.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Capitol/EMI Reissues I.R.S. Records Back Catalog!

Capitol/EMI, who apparently own everything, have recently reissued the majority of the mondo-influential I.R.S. label's back catalog of over 100 albums and tracks. Some of which having been out-of-print for nearly twenty years and never before available in the digital age. I.R.S. Records (aka International Record Syndicate) which was founded by Miles Copeland III (older brother of Police drummer Stewart) in 1979 and folded in 1996 was one of the most successful independent labels of all-time. Their roster included many successful bands such as R.E.M., The Go-Go's, The Buzzcocks and Fine Young Cannibals.

The digital-campaign will include releases by The Fleshtones, The dB's, The Three O'Clock, Gary Numan, Let's Active, Oingo Boingo, Wall Of Voodoo, General Public, Lords Of The New Church, Dada, Concrete Blonde The Bears, Hunters & Collectors, Havana 3 A.M, Timbuk 3 and solo albums by Television’s Tom Verlaine, The Police's Stewart Copeland (and his post-Police band Animal Logic), The Doors' Robbie Krieger and Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin and Belinda Carlisle.

All of these releases will be available from all major music retail as well as from the I.R.S Records iTunes Store. More titles are rumored to be released in the near-future.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Beach Boys Vinyl Reissues from Capitol/EMI

In case you haven't been made aware - from Best Buy's entire aisle devoted to it to the amount of articles covering it in every publication from Time to Rolling Stone - vinyl has in fact made a comeback. How big of a comeback has yet to be determined. Although some smaller labels have never stopped selling it, the major labels and the RIAA as well have been made fully aware of the demand for vinyl. New titles such as The Police's Certifiable and Elvis Costello & The Impostors' Momofuku have been issued on vinyl as well as several classic titles from The Beatles, Radiohead, R.E.M. and The Replacements.

Capitol/EMI have been very generous indeed. In addition to classic titles - on 180-Gram Audiophile Quality Vinyl with Original Artwork and Packaging - by The Specials, Plastic Ono Band and Roxy Music their "From The Capitol Vaults" vinyl campaign have issued The Beach Boys landmark Pet Sounds album this past September 2nd as well as the pretty-much-perfect 1974 double-album compilation Endless Summer - which went to Number One on Billboard's Album Charts, spent a whole three years on the charts and introduced the band to a legion of new fans - on October 28th. A release date of June 16th is also in the future for their stellar 1970 album Sunflower and 1971's almost-as-good follow-up Surf's Up. The title track of which may be in fact one of Brian Wilson's finest compositions and another jewel from the legendary unreleased album Smile.

In addition to all these vinyl releases Beach Boys fans have also been treated to a High-Definition Three-LP set of late Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson's solo album Pacific Ocean Blue (which also includes the never released follow-up Bambu) on the Sundazed label. Brian Wilson's fine new solo release That Lucky Old Sun (also on Capitol) was also given a modest, but nice, treatment complete with a gatefold sleeve.

It would be nice to see more classic Beach Boys titles be reissued on vinyl. Perhaps nice quality reissues of the over-looked classics All Summer Long, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), Friends and Wild Honey are imminent?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Beatles Finally Reissued

This past week Apple Corps and EMI have announced that on September 9th (get it? Number 9 - 9/9/09) they will individually release all twelve of the Beatles long-players, in properly reissued remastered-CD form. For immediate purchase initiative there will be short documentaries included with each album on the making of that particular album. As well as two box sets (one mono and one stereo) each will all sixteen discs. That's all of the original studio albums, the Past Masters set and the Magical Mystery Tour double-EP. Sixteen discs in total all with beautifully restored artwork and detailed liner-notes. The Beatles Rock Band video game will also be released for Wii, Xbox and PlayStation 3 on the same day. Digital download information will be addressed sometime in the future.

Now that's:

Please Please Me
With The Beatles
A Hard Day's Night
Beatles for Sale
Rubber Soul
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Magical Mystery Tour (Originally and a "Double-EP" in the UK later a US LP)
The Beatles ("The White Album") (Two Discs)
Yellow Submarine
Abbey Road
Let It Be
Past Masters (Two Discs)

But here's the rub: no bonus tracks whatsoever. Which is a big rub indeed.

Granted the original initially released 1987 CDs sounded OK, but compared with the original vinyl releases they're pretty flat-sounding. And the fake (primitive) stereo process used in 1966 has never been corrected (for want of a better word). Not to mention a textbook example of compromised artwork. Remastering technology has significantly improved in the twenty-two years since (heck, there were big improvements five years after) the first batch of CDs hit stores. Considering there have been several fine vinyl reissues of the Beatles back-catalog one wonders what took so long for the CD reissues to take place. Virtually every other contemporary (or "contemporary" in quotes seeing as it is the Beatles) major artists of the time - The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Bob Dylan even The Monkees to name but a few - have had their work significantly upgraded ages ago. Realistically this probably should have already taken place in 1994/1995 or so - during the great era of the BBC/Anthology releases.

The digital format has gone through various ups and downs in the past few years with the slow, niche comeback of vinyl. The preciousness of the digital medium is nowhere near that of the vinyl album. Music fans have slowly embraced this notion. Perhaps this too was sensed as well. The Beatles reissues may very well be the last large and relevant CD reissue series.

As a music fan - I seriously hope not.

Let's just hope the high-ends aren't dulled by Noise Reduction and there's no loss of dynamic range (i.e. everything in the red). The main symptom of all modern reissues. And if the recent crop of Beatles releases (Love, Let It Be Naked, Yellow Submarine Songtrack and 1) are any indication they should be amazing.

Blender Magazine Folds (or A Forest Of Trees 1, Blender Magazine 0)

The latest victim in the current economic recession is Blender Magazine, who laid off thirty of its employees, published its final print issue this April. It will now be an exclusively internet-based magazine. Cover stories in the past have included Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson.

If you are in fact a fan of music, Blender means very little in every way. It was never anything even remotely close to being "the ultimate music magazine" as it proclaimed itself to be. Since there are several smaller niche magazines actually covering music and reviewing it beyond Blender's on average two-sentence mark, its target audience isn't exactly interested. The format, humor and the sound-bite journalism ala Maxim/Stuff was very much in vogue in the late 90's. It was the sort of magazine co-workers gathered around for a few chuckles during downtime - and then threw away. Like most disposable things - it's only a matter of time before they are properly disposed of.

Let's face it, the appeal of those "most awesomely bad" lists are pretty limited - if not done to death.

At least it will find a more suitable anyone-can-do-it home on the web.