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Truly "Heart And Lungs" EP (1991)

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It's hard to believe that the movie Singles was released 25 years ago today, on September 18, 1992. Cameron Crowe's romantic comedy was set against the backdrop of the legendary Seattle grunge rock scene when it was at its peak, and now serves as a time capsule item for that vital time and place in rock and roll history. Its soundtrack album was a who's-who of Seattle grunge artists, featuring songs from the genre's giants (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains) alongside tracks from Mother Love Bone (featuring members-to-be of Pearl Jam), Mudhoney, and Screaming Trees. It also featured songs by pre-grunge Seattle icons like Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart (as the Lovemongers) and Jimi Hendrix (who died on this date in 1970). To top it all off, it had two solo tracks from ex-Replacements leader Paul Westerberg, and one of the best Smashing Pumpkins songs ever, "Drown", which was not included on any Pumpkins album until a decade later. Earlier this year, a Del…

Black Sheep with Lou Gramm

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Before he attained major stardom as the lead singer of Foreigner, Lou Gramm -- who was then known as Lou Grammatico -- fronted a Rochester, NY band called Black Sheep. This quintet (not to be confused with a '90's hip-hop outfit with the same name) recorded two albums for Capitol Records, both released in 1975. The band was plagued by bad luck at that time, just when they seemed to be on the brink of success. After former Spooky Tooth guitarist Mick Jones heard Black Sheep's self-titled album, he invited Gramm to join his new band Trigger, which soon became Foreigner. Gramm did eventually collaborate again with two of his ex-bandmates. Black Sheep bassist Bruce Turgon and guitarist Don Mancuso both participated in Gramm's late-'80's solo albums. Turgon also played in Gramm's short-lived band Shadow King in 1991, and then joined Foreigner in 1992; Mancuso took part in Gramm's later solo touring.

Before the release of their first album, Black Sheep rele…

Jean Michel Jarre "Musique Pour Supermarché" (1983)

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There are rare records, and then there are rare records, some of which have only ever had one legitimate physical copy made. One of those rare-as-it-gets recordings was a 1983 album called Musique Pour Supermarché, aka Music for Supermarkets, recorded by Jean Michel Jarre. The French electronic music composer (the son of famed film soundtrack composer Maurice Jarre, who was a pioneer in using electronic music in films) recorded the instrumental album near Paris during the Spring of '83, and then had only one LP copy pressed. On July 6th of that year, the sole copy was sold at an auction, where the master plates were publicly destroyed. It sold for 69,000 francs -- roughly equivalent to 9,000 U.S. dollars at the time. Jarre said that the point was to create "a single copy for a single buyer, like a painting with a single owner.” The inner sleeve artwork showed 11 photographs illustrating the story of the making of the record, while the 12th space was left blank for the buyer t…

Lana Del Rey under other names

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The American art-pop singer Lana Del Rey (real name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant) has fashioned a form of dream pop that has been described as “beach noir” and “Hollywood sadcore”, painting hazy pictures of a Southern California that is as seamy as it is steamy, backed by mood music that is sometimes orchestral, sometimes languid, always cinematic. She has also crafted an image of herself as a contemporary tragic icon, a sort of modern-day Marilyn Monroe, and uses symbols of Americana in her lyrics and visuals to add flavor to her often sordid tales of troubled young women who seek out relationships with unsavory men. As of this writing, the singer is showing signs of a stylistic shift towards more commercial terrain with her 2017 album Lust For Life, but I’ll leave it to others to discuss that. I’m here to talk about her rare self-titled digital album from 2010, which predated her official 2012 debut album Born To Die. This album, titled Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant, was available d…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 32: Dead Weather "Live At The Mayan, Los Angeles"

The 32nd set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in June of 2017. For those who are unaware, Third Man Records is the label owned by Jack White, who is the leader of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and the Dead Weather, and is now a solo artist as well. The Vault service promises to deliver exclusive vinyl-only records (one full-length album and one 7” single) to its Platinum members every three months.

The 32nd Vault package featured three items by the Dead Weather, the Goth-rock band consisting of Jack White on drums, Alison Mosshart (from the Kills) on lead vocals, Dean Fertita (from Queens Of The Stone Age) on guitar and keyboards, and Jack Lawrence (from the Raconteurs and the Greenhornes) on bass. The package contains a 2-LP live album recorded in 2009, a DVD documenting the same concert, and a 7-inch single containing two songs from the band’s 2015 album Dodge And Burn.

The live double-LP…

Gregg Allman and Cher as Allman And Woman

By now, you have probably heard about the passing of Gregg Allman, who died on May 27th at the age of 69. During his lifetime, the legendary blues rocker -- who was a key figure in the creation of the Southern rock genre in the '70's -- was married seven times, the most famous of his ex-wives being none other than Cher (aka Cherilyn Sarkisian). Allman was married to the iconic pop singer/actress from 1975 until 1979, when the Allman Brothers Band became temporarily inactive, and at a point in time when the "Goddess Of Pop" was having more success as a TV variety show hostess than as a recording artist. Show business has always been known to make strange bedfellows, but the marital union between the Southern rock pioneer and the erstwhile Sonny & Cher entertainer made for an even odder coupling than most. Their stormy marriage inspired many tabloid headlines, showing its first public signs of trouble after only one week.

This unlikely pair seemed like the least

Eighteen!

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Cue the Alice Cooper music, 'cause it's eighteen! That's how many years it has been since the day my website, Rarebird's Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews, first "went live" on May 31, 1999. Even though a zillion things have changed since then, it's hard for me to believe it's been that many years since I first began to build the website. Anyone who was born the same day or year as my site is now becoming a legal adult!



"Adulthood" may or may not be a good analogy for the site, because I shudder to think about how old the site may be in website years. In recent months, I've felt more future shock than usual about the age of my site. Personal websites like mine have become "rare birds" in themselves due to their decline in popularity since 2004 or so, when the growth of blogs (like the one you are reading now) and social media resulted in easier ways for people to express themselves on the internet.

Personally, I've never thou…

The Cars "Live At The Agora, 1978" (2017 Record Store Day release)

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The Cars Live At The Agora, 1978 was a 2-LP set issued on Record Store Day 2017, limited to 5,000 copies. It was a previously unreleased recording of a concert performed by the Boston new wave quintet at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18, 1978. This concert took place the month after the release of the band’s platinum-selling self-titled debut album, which found success among both new wave enthusiasts and mainstream rock listeners. The 13 live cuts are spread out across the first three LP sides; the fourth side has an etching of a Cars “tire tread” logo designed by drummer David Robinson.

During this concert, the band performed all nine of the songs from the debut album, as well as "Night Spots", which later turned up on their second album, Candy-O. All of those songs maintain the same mixture of new wave tension and rock and roll accessibility that graced the studio versions. As they did on record, Ocasek and the late Benjamin Orr alternated the lead vocal …