Embracing the past: more classic music reissues

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Tuesday December 27, 2022
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Embracing the past: more classic music reissues

Don't be afraid of the past. Yours or anyone else's. It will always be there, and you can pretend it doesn't exist, but it's still there, nevertheless. One way to make peace with the past is to listen to it.

Take the new reissue of the "haunting score" to the 1976 "horror classic" "The Omen" (Varese Sarabande) for example. Newly released (although too late for Halloween) on "blood red vinyl with black splatter," the Oscar-winning score, composed by movie soundtrack maven Jerry Goldsmith ("Basic Instinct," "Poltergeist," "Chinatown," "Planet of the Apes," and many others), and conducted by Lionel Newman, is still as terrifying as ever. The 12 ominous tunes, many of which conjure satanic ritual chants, are sure to cause panic among Christian nationalists. That's Goldsmith's wife Carol providing the vocals for the song "The Piper's Dream."

Far less frightening is "Live at the Bon Soir" (Columbia/Legacy) by Barbra Streisand. Unearthed after 60 years, the album is billed as "Barbra — the way she was!" According to Streisand in the liner notes, "I had never even been in a nightclub until sang in one," but you'd never know it from the confidence she exudes (or the way she corrects Columbia Records exec David Kapralik's pronunciation of her surname).

Recorded in Greenwich Village in November 1962, the set provides insight into the kind of daring performer Streisand was in the early stages of her career. The song selection contains almost as many familiar numbers ("Cry Me A River," "Happy Days Are Here Again," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," and "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now") as it does semi-obscurities ("Napoleon," "Much More," and the extraordinary "Value"). Well worth the wait and meant to be cherished for years to come.

Less than six months after Streisand's 1962 Bon Soir concert, The Beatles released their debut album "Please Please Me," and the rest, as they say, is history. In recent years, Beatles albums, including 1968's "The Beatles (White Album)," 1969's "Abbey Road," and 1970's "Let It Be" have been given the expanded reissue treatment. "Revolver" (Apple/Universal), from 1966, is the latest.

From its immediately recognizable Klaus Voorman album cover to the opening track "Taxman," every indication is that the Fab Four were in the midst of a serious creative transition. After all, who else but hugely successful musicians would be singing about the pain of taxes? "Revolver" contains some of the most beloved Beatles tunes — including "Eleanor Rigby," "Here, There and Everywhere," "Yellow Submarine," and "For No One," to mention a few, along with experimental numbers including "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "She Said She Said." The second disc in the set features a pair of non-LP hit singles — "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" — as well as a plethora of mixes and takes.

In the early-to-mid 1970s, in the years between rock and disco (and punk), a revival of '30s and '40s music afoot. Artists such as Bette Midler and The Pointer Sisters were performing the music of that period, and dressing in vintage fashions. The same was true of Grammy Award-winning vocal quartet The Manhattan Transfer who not only scored some hits at the time but also earned themselves a summer TV variety series.

To commemorate the group's longevity (they continue to tour and record), The Manhattan Transfer has released "Fifty" (Craft), an album recorded with the WDR Funkhausorchester on which they revisit a number of songs previously recorded for earlier albums, including "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone," "Chanson D'Amour," "What Goes Around Comes Around,' and "Agua," in new arrangements.

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