Monday, April 04, 2016

Record Store Day 2016: The Feelies

Every year Record Store Day Releases seem a little more gimmicky and a little less exciting to me. This EP of covers from The Feelies did catch my eye however. Covers are always one of my favorite part of live Feelies shows, as they always manage to both make the songs uniquely their own as well as demonstrate the depth of influence of the artist they choose to cover.

"7 Days" (Bob Dylan)
"Take It As It Comes" (The Doors)
"Dancing Barefoot" (Patti Smith)
"Barstool Blues" (Neil Young)

I heard the band cover "Take It As It Comes" when I saw the band live last year, and they really ripped into the song with abandon. "Dancing Barefoot" and "Barstool Blues" were both recorded for promo b-sides during their A&M years. I don't know if these are newly recorded versions, or if they used the previously released recordings. I noticed these and other b-side covers were left off the recent Bar-None 'Only Life' and 'Time For A Witness' reissues in favor of more recently recorded material.

I would love to see The Feelies release an entire album of covers someday, but I doubt that will ever happen. Given how unlikely that is to happen, this EP is certainly a must-own for any serious Feelies fan (is there any other kind?).

Friday, January 01, 2016

Favorite Reissue/Archival Releases of 2015

Here are some of my favorite reissue/archival music releases from 2015 (some of these may have been issued in late 2014, but whatever).

Various Artists - Ork Records: New York, New York
Tons of previously hard to find or unavailable recordings from the dawn of the New York punk scene. Includes tracks from Television, Richard Hell, Alex Chilton, The Feelies, and many lesser known early CBGBs denizens. Includes a fascinating book with insightful essays and great photographs. It provides a deeper insight into the origins of the New York punk scene than was previously available.

The Velvet Underground - The Complete Matrix Tapes
Four CDs of live music from the Velvet Underground at the peak of their powers as a live band, recorded to four track in excellent fidelity. Just incredible. If you want a physical copy of this act quickly as it appears to already be out-of-print.

Game Theory - Real Nighttime
Omnivore Recordings finally gave this classic album the reissue treatment it deserves. The sound quality (whether on LP or CD) is much improved over the somewhat brittle sounding original Enigma LP. Stay tuned for a reissue of the band's 2 LP masterpiece 'Lolita Nation' in February.

Love - Reel To Real
Released in 1974 by RSO, this was Arthur Lee's last shot at mainstream success, and he blew it with his erratic behavior but not with the music he recorded. Dismissed by many at the time, in retrospect it's a great fusion of Memphis soul and Hendrix inspired heavy psychedelia. This release from High Moon Records is a real labor of love (no pun intended), and includes some great bonus tracks.

The Chills - The BBC Sessions
One of the best and most overlooked bands of the 1980s alternative/college/whatever rock scene. These fresh takes from BBC sessions sound fantastic, especially in comparison to the sometimes questionable use of the recording studio featured on their proper albums.

Various Artists - I'm Just Like You: Sly's Stone Flower 1969-1970
Sly Stone was doing some fascinating things in the studio while he was blowing his mind with cocaine during this period. Fantastic stuff if you are a fan of the insular, paranoid sound of 'There's A Riot Goin' On.'

Bob Dylan - The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12
This one is a lot to dig into depending on which set you get, but there are amazing alternate takes of some of Dylan's best songs, and it is a peak into the creative process of an artist operating at an unmatched level of creativity.

The Rolling Stones - From The Vault: The Marquee Club Live In 1971
I'm sure you can find more technically accomplished and "together" live releases from the world's greatest rock and roll band, but you won't find many with a darker, more menacing vibe. Mick Taylor's lead guitar is amazing throughout. Dark, scary, and for me their most compelling live release to date.

William Onyeabor - Box Set
All of the African synth pop/funk musician's albums lovingly compiled into a single box set with reproduction artwork. It proves Luaka Bop's compilation 'Who Is William Onyeabor' was no fluke, and many of the songs left off it are just as good as the ones included.

Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning (LP or hi-rez digital download)
Previous reissues were cut from tapes with added reverb or were mutilated with unnecessary and excessive digital noise reduction. This is the first time since the early 60s that you can easily purchase a version of this landmark album that sounds the way it was supposed to. The "dry" tapes used for this latest reissue sound far more intimate than the ones with added reverb.

Friday, December 18, 2015

High Moon Records Hits A Home Run With Its Reissue Of Love's 'Reel To Real'

I finally got around to picking up the reissue of Love's 1974 album 'Reel To Real.' Back in 2007 I wrote about how I thought the album deserved to be listened to again with fresh ears. Freed from the burden of unreasonable expectations, it is a very strong album, among the best Lee released post 'Forever Changes.' Eight years later it's finally been reissued by High Moon Records, the same label that gave Love's 'Black Beauty' its first legitimate release back in 2012. 'Black Beauty' began Lee's journey back to his R&B roots and 'Reel To Real' completes it.

I'm happy to report that High Moon has finally given 'Reel To Real' the treatment it deserves. The sound quality of the CD (mastered by Dan Hersch and Bill Inglot) is fantastic (I can't speak to the LP, which I haven't heard). There are fabulous liner notes by David Fricke that draw on interviews with Lee's former bandmates, as well as the Bill Oakes, the executive who signed Love to RSO Records (turns out he was hoping for something more like 'Forever Changes' as well). Best of all, the twelve bonus tracks included on the CD are fantastic. There are four previously unheard, fully produced outtakes written by Arthur Lee that are a genuine revelation. These alone make this release a must-purchase item for any Arthur Lee fan. There's also some alternate mixes that are arguably superior to the ones that appeared on the album and a studio rehearsal of the 'Forever Changes' outtake "Wonder People (I Do Wonder)."

I'm really pleased that this much misunderstood chapter in Arthur Lee's career is getting the fresh look it's long deserved. High Moon's work on this reissue is absolutely unassailable. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Game Theory - Lolita Nation Reissue Coming February 6th

Omnivore Recordings just released this teaser for their upcoming reissue of Game Theory's Lolita Nation. Widely regarded as Game Theory's masterpiece, Lolita Nation has been out-of-print for decades and copies fetch crazy prices on CD. Coming on 2 X LP, 2 X CD, and digital download (free with LP) on February 6, 2016. Kenneth, what's the frequency?

Christmas Mix From 2007

Back in the early days of this blog I would post a yearly Christmas music mix. I brought back 2007's entry on MixCloud. Enjoy.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Chills - Silver Bullets

For those of you who enjoyed "Night of Chill Blue," The Chills have a new album out today, their first full-length album of new material in 23 years.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Love's Reel To Real Finally To Be Reissued By High Moon Records

High Moon Records recently announced they will be reissuing Love's 1974 album Reel To Real on LP, CD and Digital Download with 11 bonus tracks.

Real To Real did not sell well on initial release, has never been reissued on CD, and has been out-of-print since for decades. For many years Reel To Real was held in disrepute by clueless music critics who could never forgive Arthur Lee for moving on from Forever Changes. It even made one authoritative "worst albums ever" list. But there has been a critical re-evaluation of it in recent years. I wrote about my rediscovery of of the album, and my realization that it was actually really good back in 2007.

Real To Real is not Arthur Lee's finest hour, but it's a terrific, soulful album that could have been a commercially successful new direction for Lee and his cohorts if things had unfolded a little differently. High Moon does fantastic work, and this will be well worth purchasing for any Love/Arthur Lee fan. My original goal for this blog was to raise the profile of music I thought had been unjustly overlooked, so I'm always happy to see one of the releases I championed reissued, especially when done with such obvious care and respect.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Cat Butt

My favorite Record Store Day 2015 find, a promotional photo of Cat Butt from Sub Pop Records. I can't imagine they printed a lot of these.

My local record store (In Your Ear) has a stack of promo photos that I had never bothered to look through before. On Record Store Day I noticed a young woman looking through the photos, and when she came across this promo photo of the legendary Sub Pop grunge act Cat Butt she started laughing and showing it to her friends. They all thought the fact that there was once a band called "Cat Butt" was hilarious. After she sat the photo down I grabbed it and gave her a long lecture about the importance of respecting her elders, followed by a dissertation on the aesthetics of great art.

I bought the photo with my Record Store Day purchases which included the OFF! BBC sessions 10" and the Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift 7". I'm pretty sure the store didn't actually charge me for it. Now I just have to find an appropriate frame.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Dinner With Redd Kross

Here's a 1987 interview with Redd Kross by Albert O. of WBCN at the WBCN Studios in Boston, MA. It was released on a promo LP with music by Big Time Records as Dinner With Redd Kross. I deleted all the musical segments from the program, so this is just the interview. Topics covered include: TJ Hooker, Robbie Fields, Night Ranger, Joan Baez, Motley Crue, the LAPD, Erik Estrada, George Harrison, Jim and Tammy Fay Baker, Styper, The Partridge Family, Elton John, KISS, and Suzi Quatro.