Sunday, September 11, 2016

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 29: Pearl Jam “Live at Third Man Records 06.09.2016”

The 29th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in August and September of 2016. 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 twenty-ninth Vault package contained a live LP from Pearl Jam, performed in the Blue Room at Third Man Records and recorded directly to acetate. The single in this package was a one-sided 6-inch disc recorded by Eddie Vedder in the Voice-o-Graph machine at Third Man. The package also contained a photo book. This Vault package was also offered through Pearl Jam’s Ten Club.

The LP Live at Third Man Records 06.09.2016, pressed in black-and-gold split-colored vinyl, captures the June 9, 2016 concert by the ‘90’s grunge titans, performed for an audience of about 250 VIP’s in the Third Man Records Blue Room. Pearl Jam is currently comprised of four-fifths of the original lineup (Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready), along with Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron (who had also played in Temple Of The Dog with those same four Pearl Jam founders) and keyboardist Boom Gaspar.

The direct-to-acetate recording gives this record a “closeness” to the listener, but with an analog type of clarity, not with the type of exactitude that we would expect from a digital recording on a CD. The intimate venue also undoubtedly played a part in this, although the band did not exactly hold back during this show. The band put the same level of energy into this performance that we would expect them to give to a large arena concert.

They did, however, steer clear of familiar radio hits from their grunge glory days – unless you count “Deep”, one of the lesser-known songs from their classic 1991 debut album Ten; that song sounds a notch less intense but no less effective in this setting. The other two ‘90’s selections found here are obscurities that eventually turned up on the band’s 2003 odds-and-sods collection Lost Dogs: the mid-tempo “Hard To Imagine” (which has a slightly heavier sound than its studio version) and the disillusioned Christmas ballad “Let Me Sleep” (which shows more vocal restraint from Eddie Vedder than the studio version from an early fan club single).

The first four songs on this LP are drawn from the band’s lower-profile post-1990’s albums. All four tracks are performed well, whether the band rocks out on “Life Wasted” and the furious “Mind Your Manners”, or displays a more moody approach on “Pendulum”. Mike McCready shows impressive guitar chops on the blues-rocking “1/2 Full”.

The most notable track here is “Of The Earth”, a song that has never been released on a studio album, but is often performed at Pearl Jam’s live shows. Jack White joined the band onstage for this ten-minute song, jamming with McCready in an intense lead guitar duel.

I’ll leave it to Pearl Jam scholars to determine how well Live at Third Man Records 06.09.2016 compares to other Pearl Jam live recordings (especially considering their hundreds of official bootlegs). Judged on its own merits, it’s certainly a good one. Spin this black (and gold) circle.

The six-inch single, pressed in clear transparent vinyl, contains one song recorded solo by Eddie Vedder with an acoustic guitar in Third Man’s 1947 Voice-o-Graph recording machine. The ancient recording technology gives this single the sound and feel of a scratchy old folk record. The low-key, lo-fi “Out Of Sand” is a somber ballad about aging and regret, movingly sung and played by Vedder. It’s a good track, succeeding as both a recording novelty and as a musical work. This song is reportedly intended for the soundtrack of the forthcoming Twin Peaks TV series in 2017, presumably in a fully realized studio version.

The bonus book is a thorough visual component to the package, containing 50 pages of black-and-white photographs by Jamie Goodsell, taken onstage, backstage, and around Third Man Records on the day of the event. With a foreword by Ben Blackwell explaining the logical connection between Pearl Jam and Third Man, the 9” x 6” hardcover book -- titled Pearl Jam Live at Third Man Records 06.09.2016 -- provides decent pictures from the band’s performance, and perspective on the Blue Room experience for those of us who’ve never been to Third Man’s Nashville headquarters. And, yes, we do see a few pictures of Jack White interacting with the band. The last few pages show Vedder in the process of recording “Out Of Sand”, and display that song’s handwritten lyrics.

A note for fellow vinyl aficionados: the practice of engraving text in the dead wax, or the runout grooves between the sticker and the last track’s grooves, is present on these items. The LP has “A Unmute the boom!” and “Live at Third Man” carved on Side A, and “KW shouts in approval” and “direct to acetate” carved in Side B. The single has “She was washing windows” carved in its one side.

Pearl Jam “Live at Third Man Records 06.09.2016” (Third Man TMR-388) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Pendulum
2. Mind Your Manners
3. 1/2 Full
4. Life Wasted
5. Deep
6. Of The Earth w/Jack White
7. Hard To Imagine
8. Let Me Sleep

Eddie Vedder “Out Of Sand” (Third Man single TMR-389) 2016

a. Out Of Sand

Bonus book (Third Man Books TMB-014):

Pearl Jam Live at Third Man Records 06.09.2016. Third Man Books, 2016.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Beatles "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" album to be reissued in September

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl album has been out of print for decades, but it will be released for the first time on CD and digitally on September 9th, 2016. The reissue, now titled Live at the Hollywood Bowl, contains four previously unreleased tracks. It was sourced directly from the original three-track tapes of three concerts performed at the L.A. venue in August 1964 and August 1965. The reissue was remixed and remastered at Abbey Road by George Martin's son, Giles, and engineer Sam Okell. More information (including the updated track list) is at the Rolling Stone site:

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl album was originally released in 1977. According to the late producer George Martin's liner notes for the original LP issue, the shows were recorded "for posterity" by Capitol, but neither Martin nor the band wanted the recordings released at the time because it only consisted of songs that were previously released on studio albums (apparently, releasing such an album was considered unusual at the time!). But the only flaw of the album has been the quality of the recordings. Only three-track recording was possible in the mid-1960's, and the 1977 issue of the album often contains tape hiss and other anomalies (not to mention the constant screaming of the young girls in attendance). Otherwise, the album is totally enjoyable. The charm of the Beatles' performances shines through on this recording, making it an absolute treat for Beatlemaniacs. Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick did their best to clean up the sound using 1977 technology; I can't wait to hear how the more modern remixing techniques have cleaned up the sound further.

The release of Live at the Hollywood Bowl will coincide with a new Ron Howard documentary about the band's early years, called Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years. The documentary will be available for streaming on Hulu on September 17th.

9/12/16 Update: The reissue of the album does not disappoint. The remixing made a major improvement, making the sound much clearer, and bringing the music further to the front of the mix while pushing the audience's screaming into the background. The four previously unreleased tracks are: "You Can't Do That" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" from the 1964 show, and "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby" and "Baby's In Black" from the 1965 show.

Rarebird's Beatles Reviews:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 28: Jack White acoustic in Idaho and Alaska

The 28th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in June and July of 2016. 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 twenty-eighth Vault package contained a 2-LP set and a DVD, featuring live acoustic concerts from Jack White performed in Idaho and Alaska in April of 2015. As a bonus item, it contained a travelogue photo book. These items were packaged together in a box with the title Acoustic Tour 2015.

These two shows were part of an acoustic tour that White undertook for the purpose of performing in the only five U.S. states in which he had never performed previously (Wyoming and North and South Dakota were the other three states). He was backed by Dominic Davis (upright bass), Fats Kaplan (fiddle and mandolin), and Lillie Mae Rische (fiddle, mandolin, and acoustic guitar). Each of these shows was announced only hours beforehand, and tickets were only $3 apiece! Only ribbon microphones were used for these performances, and no amplifiers were used at all. Both concerts were well-performed, presenting many of White’s songs in a new and different way.

The double-LP Acoustic In Idaho (or “Live From Idaho”, as it is titled on the LP’s center labels) is pressed in “icy Idaho blue vinyl”. It captures White’s acoustic concert at the Egyptian Theater in Boise. This concert has a strong Nashville country flavor, even more so than White’s two recent solo albums. White scales down his vocal delivery to fit the small acoustic setting; Rische sings harmony vocals throughout the set. The set begins with three songs selected from Lazaretto, the acoustic reworkings of which set the gentle and countrified tone of the concert. Most of the selections from the White Stripes oeuvre retain their blues roots with a more rustic sound, although this version of “Hotel Yorba” sounds so southern that you may forget that it’s about a hotel in Detroit (even after White tells the funny story behind the song at the end of Side A). On the other hand, “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket” and “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” have simple folk arrangements, and are apparently performed solo by Jack with only an acoustic guitar. Some of the best tracks on this album are the selections that are the most unexpected, such as the non-album B-side “Inaccessible Mystery”, as well as “You Know That I Know”, White’s interpretation of an unrecorded Hank Williams composition. The Raconteurs’ “Carolina Drama” has an authentic Southern Gothic feeling in this setting. The show concludes with a graceful performance of Leadbelly’s “Goodnight, Irene”.

The 77-minute DVD Acoustic In Alaska gives a visual presentation of White’s acoustic concert at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium in Anchorage. It was filmed by Brad Holland, the former drummer of Whirlwind Heat. Performed two days before the Idaho show, this concert has the same aesthetic and a similar set list. It was the first of the five shows on the acoustic tour, and (as we are informed in the beginning) White’s first-ever all-acoustic performance. Much of it was filmed in striking black-and-white, which complements the show’s old-fashioned nature. (Some camera angles are in color, showing a blue-lit stage; the back-and-forth editing is sometimes distracting). Musically, this concert is the equal of the Idaho show. There are three songs here which were not performed at the Idaho show, each with a detailed spoken-word introduction about its origin: one more track from Lazaretto (“Entitlement”), another White Stripes number (“Offend In Every Way”), and another non-album B-side (“Machine Gun Silhouette”). All three of these songs are well suited for the acoustic environment. Another notable difference: “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known” is here given a full band arrangement, albeit an understated one.

The bonus book Pictures From Unknown States contains 44 pages of photographs – mostly black-and-white – taken on the acoustic tour by David James Swanson, the former Whirlwind Heat vocalist. Most of the pictures are shots of White and company either onstage or backstage, with an occasional outdoor photo from the road; the best of those were taken at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. A photo taken from the window of a plane over or near Alaska is another standout; that photo also appears inside the LP's gatefold cover. Some of the pictures taken inside the venues suggest that those spaces were the same approximate size of many movie theatres. The package also contains stylish 8 X 10 photographic prints of two of Swanson’s photos from the book.

A note for fellow vinyl aficionados: the practice of engraving text in the dead wax, or the runout grooves between the sticker and the last track’s grooves, is present on these items. The double-LP has “Things got heated” carved on Side A, “Bullet-proof glass is not a great way to make friends” carved in Side B, “You got time for one more?” carved on Side C, and “I appreciate you coming here on short notice” carved on Side D.

Jack White “Acoustic Tour 2015” (box set)

Jack White “Acoustic In Idaho” (Third Man TMR-380) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Just One Drink
2. Temporary Ground
3. Alone In My Home
4. Love Interruption
5. Hotel Yorba
6. You Know That I Know
7. Do
8. Sugar Never Tasted So Good
9. Inaccessible Mystery
10. We’re Going To Be Friends
11. Blunderbuss
12. A Martyr For My Love For You
13. Carolina Drama
14. You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket
15. The Same Boy You’ve Always Known
16. Goodnight, Irene

Jack White “Acoustic In Alaska” (Third Man DVD TMR-380) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Intro
2. Just One Drink
3. Temporary Ground
4. Love Interruption
5. Machine Gun Silhouette
6. Offend in Every Way
7. The Same Boy You’ve Always Known
8. Alone in My Home
9. You Know That I Know
10. We’re Going to Be Friends
11. Entitlement
12. Carolina Drama


13. You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket
14. A Martyr For My Love For You
15. Goodnight, Irene

Bonus book (Third Man Books TMB-011):

Swanson, David James. Pictures From Unknown States. Nashville: Third Man Books, 2016.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart (1976)

Having recently examined the 20th anniversary reunion of the Monkees, we now turn our attention to another Monkees reunion of sorts, dating from the mid-1970's. This took place in or around their 10th anniversary year, but it was not exactly sold as a 10th anniversary tour by the Monkees. Instead, the band that coalesced came to be known as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce, & Hart. The tagline for their tour was "The Golden Hits of The Monkees: The Guys Who Sang 'Em and The Guys Who Wrote 'Em".

Why was this? Mickey Dolenz and Davy Jones were the only original Monkees who took part in the reunion. Michael Nesmith was invited to join, but (as usual) declined, while Peter Tork could not be contacted at the time. They were replaced by two "Guys Who Wrote 'Em" -- namely Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. Boyce and Hart had written and produced many of the Monkees' songs, including their TV show theme and the #1 hit "Last Train To Clarksville". This songwriting duo also recorded three of their own albums in the late '60's.

This quartet was legally prohibited from using the Monkees name, so they instead chose to simply call themselves Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. In 1975 and 1976, the quartet performed shows at major American amusement parks, including Disneyland and Six Flags. They next went on tour in Asia, and had the distinction of being the first American band to perform in Thailand.

The recorded output of Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart consists of one studio album from 1976, and one live album recorded in 1976 and released in Japan in 1981. Both albums are out of print in most countries. Both will probably only be of interest to Monkees lovers.

The self-titled 1976 album Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart succeeds only partially at recapturing the Monkees' sound and spirit, updating it in some ways for the soft-rock-and-disco-dominated landscape of the mid-'70's. Boyce and Hart produced the album, and wrote five of the songs. The album's first two tracks unfortunately make a very bad first impression. "Right Now" seemingly introduces the quartet as a straight-faced clone of the Bee Gees, with Davy Jones doing a not-so-great impression of Barry Gibb. Worse yet, "I Love You (And I'm Glad That I Said It)" is a simply awful soft-rock ballad sung by Hart. But the album gets better after those two near-fatal missteps. The entire first side is unwisely front-loaded with ballads, but “You And I” – written by Dolenz and Jones – is a darn good one, recalling the original Monkees. (In fact, the Monkees re-recorded this song for the Justus album 20 years later, but this version is arguably better). Dolenz is in good form on that song, as well as on his co-composition “It Always Hurts The Most In The Morning”, and on Dion and the Belmonts’ “Teenager In Love”. “Sail On Sailor” is not the Beach Boys song, but it sounds something like a Beach Boys song from that time period, when they had become a nostalgia act; Jones, Boyce, and Hart each take lead vocal turns on this song.

The second side is a bit livelier, reminding the listener that these guys were once involved with a TV comedy series. (It's funny to imagine how their cover of the Coasters' comedy song "Along Came Jones" could have been used in a Monkees episode). Two odd up-tempo rockers (“Moonfire” and “You Didn’t Feel That Way Last Night”) help to pick up the album’s pace. Another Dolenz and Jones composition, “Savin’ My Love For You”, proves to be another standout track, as well as another good showcase for Dolenz. Both ex-Monkees sing lead vocals on the easily likable “I Remember The Feeling”, which could withstand comparison to the original Monkees’ recordings.

Ultimately, Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart has too many flaws to recommend it, yet too many good points to dismiss it.

(Note: Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart is currently available on CD in the U.K., with different cover art. If you do purchase this album on CD, I recommend programming your player to skip the first two tracks).

Concert In Japan was recorded at Yubin Chokin Hall in Tokyo on July 20, 1976. It was first released in Japan in 1981 to coincide with a Monkees revival in that country; it was later released on CD in the U.S. in 1996 by the Varese Sarabande label, catalog no. VSD-5625. For this concert, the quartet was backed by four musicians: Keith Allison (a guitarist who frequently played on Monkees recordings), Rick Tierny (bass), Steve Johnson (keyboards), and Jerry Summers (drums). Besides playing songs from the self-titled DJB&H album, the ensemble also performed several songs by the Monkees, as well as Boyce & Hart’s 1968 top ten hit “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight”. (Their Monkees repertoire was not limited to the songs written by Boyce and Hart, as evidenced by the inclusion of Goffin/King's "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and Harry Nilsson's "Cuddly Toy", among others). Their performances of those familiar songs are adequate and pleasant, but not great or exciting. On a brighter note, the four selections from the 1976 album do sound fresh in this setting. Even the live version of the Hart-sung “I Love You (And I’m Glad That I Said It)” comes off slightly better than the studio version – although the song is still an undeniable low point of any album it appears on. The most surprising selection comes in the form of a medley of songs which Boyce and/or Hart had a hand in writing for other artists (i.e. Jay and the Americans, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Austin Roberts). The show's finale is a rendition of the Boyce-written theme song from the mid-'60's TV music show Where The Action Is; for this number, guitarist Keith Allison takes the lead vocal and the ensemble shows plenty of enthusiasm. As nostalgia concerts go, this Concert In Japan is not the worst one you’ll ever hear, nor is it the best. This disc is mainly an item for fanatical collectors.

Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart - Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart

Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart "Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart" (Capitol ST-11513) 1976

Track Listing:

1. Right Now -- (Boyce/Hart)
2. I Love You (And I'm Glad That I Said It) -- (Boyce/Hart)
3. You And I -- (Dolenz/Jones)
4. Teenager In Love -- (Pomus/Shuman)
5. Sail On Sailor -- (Trevor)
6. It Always Hurts The Most In The Morning -- (Boyce/Dolenz)
7. Moonfire -- (Martin)
8. You Didn't Feel That Way Last Night (Don't You Remember) -- (Boyce/Hart)
9. Along Came Jones -- (Lieber/Stoller)
10. Savin' My Love For You -- (Dolenz/Jones)
11. I Remember The Feeling -- (Boyce/Hart)
12. Sweet Heart Attack -- (Boyce/Hart)

Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart - Concert in Japan

Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart "Concert In Japan" (Toshiba-EMI ECS-91018) 1981

Track Listing:

1. Last Train To Clarksville
2. Medley:
-- a. Valleri
-- b. Daydream Believer
-- c. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
3. I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight?
4. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
5. I Wanna Be Free
6. Savin' My Love For You
7. Pleasant Valley Sunday
8. I Remember The Feeling
9. A Teenager In Love
10. Cuddly Toy
11. Medley:
-- a. Come A Little Bit Closer
-- b. Pretty Little Angel Eyes
-- c. Hurt So Bad
-- d. Peaches 'N' Cream
-- e. Something's Wrong With Me
-- f. Keep On Singing
12. I Love You (And I'm Glad That I Said It)
13. Action

Monday, June 13, 2016

Remembering the Monkees 20th anniversary tour, 30 years ago

The Monkees released a new album titled Good Times! on May 27th. It's their first new studio album in 20 years (since Justus in 1996), and their first album following the 2012 death of founding member Davy Jones. In short, Good Times! is very good, and has been well-received, both critically and commercially. The album was recorded by surviving original Monkees members Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith; one lead vocal track recorded by Jones in 1967 is utilized for the song “Love To Love”. Also, Dolenz and Tork have embarked on a North American tour which will run until October. What brought about these events? 2016 marks the Monkees' 50th anniversary.

I was not yet born when the Monkees debuted -- on TV and on record -- in 1966. However, I do remember when the Monkees embarked on a 20th Anniversary Tour in 1986, and the recordings that resulted from that particular reunion 30 years ago.

During their 1986 reunion tour, the Monkees played in over 100 North American cities over the course of seven months. The tour was a huge success, setting off an incredible new wave of Monkeemania. MTV showed episodes daily from the '60's TV show, and sales of the band's back catalog - as well as the compilation album Then And Now...The Best Of The Monkees - soared. The Monkees' surprising resurgence helped to legitimize them as more than just a "fictitious" band created for a TV show.

20th Anniversary Tour 1986 was a live album recorded during that tour, sold in double-LP and cassette formats at stops on the Monkees' 1987 tour the following year. It was not properly issued on a record label, and it was not labeled as an album by The Monkees; instead, it was billed as an album by Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork. (As usual, Nesmith sat this tour out, joining the other three on stage only once -- but that's another story). It’s surprising that this album was never released commercially, because it’s everything that most listeners would want it to be. It’s consistently entertaining, with the three Monkees deftly trading vocal duties and repartee reminiscent of their TV show. Their eight-piece backing band was solid and professional. The sound quality is very good, despite the between-tracks choppiness. The song selection includes nearly all of the Monkees’ best-remembered hit songs (most of them pre-Head), as well as their then-new songs “That Was Then, This Is Now” and “I’ll Love You Forever” (the latter of which finds Davy Jones sounding quite Lennon-like in this setting), and Tork’s “MGB-GT”. If you’re wondering who sings the lead vocal on Nesmith’s “Listen To The Band”, all three of them tackle it in two minutes. And you may want to note that the closing rendition of the Monkees TV theme is only an instrumental performance by the supporting musicians. We really couldn’t have asked for a better souvenir of the 1986 tour than this fun-filled album. (Note: The same album was later available on CD from the Monkees fan club in 1994, simply titled Live!).

The success of the 1986 tour resulted in much Monkee business during the following year. The same trio embarked on another tour in 1987. And during that same year, two very different attempts were made to update the Monkees – in both sound and concept – for the ‘80’s. Unfortunately, both of those attempts were ill-fated.

One of those attempts was made by the real Monkees. Dolenz, Jones, and Tork recorded an obligatory new studio album (their first in 17 years) titled Pool It!, a boring bag of store-bought synth-pop songs that bear no resemblance to the Monkees songs of old. The Tork-penned-and-sung “Gettin’ In” is the danceable high point, but the other two Monkees are not heard to good effect here. Jones is mostly stuck singing weak saccharine ballads, including his own “(I’ll) Love You Forever”. The Dolenz-sung songs show a bit more enthusiasm, but the cover of Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” is the only half-interesting one. Pool It! is currently available, but is not recommended.

The new wave of Monkeemania also led to the formation of a new quartet called the New Monkees in 1987. This quartet recorded one self-titled album, and starred in the syndicated New Monkees TV series which lasted only 13 episodes. The show, produced by Columbia Pictures Television, was an embarrassingly inept attempt to create a new musical situation comedy series that updated the original Monkees TV show concept for the MTV generation. This idea may have had some potential, since the musical interludes on the original Monkees episodes are often considered to be among the earliest music videos, but the New Monkees series just fell flat on its face.

The New Monkees bore no resemblance to the old Monkees, except maybe in terms of cuteness. Bassist Marty Ross had previously played in a power pop band called the Wigs; the other three New Monkees were Larry Saltis (lead guitar, vocals), Jared Chandler (guitar, vocals), and Dino Kovas (drums, vocals). The music on their self-titled New Monkees album was the type of commercial pop-rock fluff that was prevalent in the mid-‘80’s, just before the explosion of hair-metal; think Mister Mister, the Outfield, Glass Tiger, Cutting Crew, etc. The New Monkees album was far from the worst recording to come out of that school. It was well-produced, and the band did have talent; Saltis’ guitar leads gave some of the songs a stronger spine than many others from that place and time. But it’s an expendable album just the same. Where the original Monkees’ songs were written by top-tier songwriters of the day, the New Monkees’ songs were written by the likes of John Parr, Eddie Schwartz, and Tom Cochrane (their cover of Cochrane’s “Boy Inside The Man” is one of the more noteworthy tracks). The New Monkees album is a lightly likable footnote, nothing more.

Davy Jones / Micky Dolenz / Peter Tork - 20th Anniversary Tour 1986

Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork "20th Anniversary Tour 1986" (no label, FSH 71110) 1987

Track listing:

1. Last Train to Clarksville
2. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
3. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
4. Cuddly Toy
5. Goin' Down
6. Pleasant Valley Sunday
7. I Wanna Be Free
8. Your Auntie Grizelda
9. She
10. For Pete's Sake
11. That Was Then, This Is Now
12. Shades of Gray
13. Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)
14. No Time
15. Daydream Believer
16. Listen to the Band
17. Randy Scouse Git
18. I'll Love You Forever
19. MGB-GT
20. Valleri
21. I'm a Believer
22. (Theme From) The Monkees

The Monkees - Pool It

The Monkees “Pool It!” (Rhino RNIN 70706) 1987

Track Listing:

1. Heart and Soul
2. (I’d Go The) Whole Wide World
3. Long Way Home
4. Secret Heart
5. Gettin’ In
6. (I’ll) Love You Forever
7. Every Step of the Way
8. Don’t Bring Me Down
9. Midnight
10. She’s Movin’ In With Rico
11. Since You Went Away
12. Counting On You

New Monkees - New Monkees

New Monkees "New Monkees" (Warner Bros. 9 25642-1) 1987

Track Listing:

1. What I Want
2. Do It Again
3. I Don't Know
4. The Way She Moves
5. Boy Inside the Man
6. Burnin' Desire
7. Whatever It Takes
8. Affection
9. Carlene
10. Corner of My Eye
11. Turn It Up

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Twenty One Pilots "Double-Sided" (2016 Record Store Day single)

Twenty One Pilots, the Ohio-based alt-pop/hip-hop duo, released a 7-inch single on Record Store Day 2016 titled Double-Sided. Limited to 7,500 copies, the single contained two previously unreleased live tracks recorded at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA. The single was part of a series of 7-inch singles labeled "Disquaire Day", to show solidarity with French record stores after the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

The A-side, titled “A Few Older Ones”, is a live medley of songs from the first three albums: Twenty One Pilots (2009), Regional At Best (2011), and Vessel (2013). The mashed-up songs include “Pantaloon”, “Semi-Automatic”, “Forest”, “Screen”, “Ode To Sleep”, and “Addict With A Pen”. This live medley is built on a piano-and-drums combo, without the electronic instrumentation of the studio versions. The duo does well performing in this fashion, and they skillfully segue between the different song passages to create a coherent-sounding whole. The only problem: the track ends abruptly in mid-performance. The B-side contains a live version of “Doubt”, a song from the 2015 album Blurryface. It’s faithful and well-done, using the same electronic sounds as the studio version. Tyler Joseph mimics the vocal effects of the studio version without sounding bad at all. Even the audience participation, orchestrated by Joseph, sounds pretty good.

Twenty One Pilots “Double-Sided” (Fueled By Ramen single 554232-7) 2016

Track Listing:

a. A Few Older Ones
b. Doubt

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 27

The 27th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in April of 2016. 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 twenty-seventh Vault package contained a 3-LP set, featuring live concerts from three bands that Jack White was involved with in 1998 and 1999. The 7-inch single from the Dead Weather contained two tracks from their 2015 Dodge And Burn album.

The Live at the Gold Dollar box set contains three full-length live LP's recorded at the now-defunct Detroit venue in the late 1990's. The three discs are housed in a telescoping box, which also contains soft-touch record sleeves for each individual album. All three discs are pressed in transparent gold vinyl.

The first of these LP's features a January 1998 concert by Two Star Tabernacle, which was a short-lived Detroit country-punk band consisting of Jack White and the two founders-to-be of Blanche (Dan John Miller and Tracee Mae Miller) and drummer Damian Lang (best known for performing with the Detroit Cobras shortly after). This band previously only released two singles – one of them as part of Vault package #9 – featuring '50's r&b veteran Andre Williams. Mr. Williams had no involvement with this show, which has often circulated as a bootleg; most of the vocals are sung by Dan John Miller. The Two Star Tabernacle sound hinted at Blanche’s alt-country future, especially when they performed four songs which were later recorded by Blanche (“Who’s To Say”, “Garbage Picker”, “Red Head”, “So Long Cruel World”). But with Jack White as a collaborator, the Millers’ songs had a more aggressive electric psychobilly sound than their later, gentler versions did. A Jack White composition called “Itchy” – which he has never recorded with any of his bands – was equal parts punk and rockabilly. On the other hand, the future White Stripes song “Hotel Yorba” had a more countrified feeling when it was sung as a duet between White and Dan Miller. It actually made a lot of sense for this country-punk quartet to cover both the Minutemen and Merle Travis. “Heavens To Betsy” is marked “incomplete” because it abruptly fades out in the middle – and that’s too bad, because it sounded pretty darn good. And so does the rest of the disc.

The second disc features a raucous November 1998 show by the Go, a Detroit band that specializes in garage psychedelia. This show was recorded before the release of the Go's 1999 debut album Whatcha Doin' on Sub Pop Records. At this point in time, Jack White played lead guitar and provided backing vocals for the band. This concert is reminiscent of the Detroit rock scene from decades earlier, emulating the pre-punk sound and spirit of the Stooges, MC5, and early Alice Cooper. White mostly took a backseat to the band’s frontman Bobby Harlow, but his blistering guitar work does make a mark on “Meet Me At The Movies”, the dirty psychedelia of “Long Is The Tongue”, and a suitably barbaric cover of the Sonics’ “Psycho”. This set also contains a White composition – “Turn Your Little Light Bulb On” – that has never been recorded by any of White’s bands. Although it fits in well with this set, it also allows Jack to strut his early-Stripes-style stuff.

The third disc features a September 1999 concert by the ever-busy Jack White fronting a band now referred to as the Bricks, who were previously heard from through a live album released in Vault package #15. (A reproduced flyer included in this package bills them only as the Jack White Band, opening for Royal Trux). The Bricks were comprised of Brendan Benson (the future Raconteur) on guitar, drummer Ben Blackwell (from the Dirtbombs), and bassist Kevin Peyok (from the Waxwings). This album easily has better sound quality than the previous live Vault album from this quartet. During this set, the Bricks performed eight future White Stripes songs (the bulk of which turned up on the Stripes’ 2001 album White Blood Cells), a cover of Little Richard’s “Ooh My Soul”, and an otherwise unreleased Jack White composition called “One And Two”. With a full backing band behind him, White’s playing on this set was generally less intense than it was during a typical White Stripes concert. (Well, except for that closing Little Richard cover; that’s when Jack and the Bricks really let loose and tore the place up). White seemingly felt less pressure to carry the show on his shoulders, as he somewhat slows down his usually breathless performing to let his three backing players add extra flavor to his songs. From the early moments of “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”, it’s immediately noticeable that Brendan Benson’s guitar added an extra dimension to these then-unrecorded songs. These fuller-bodied arrangements of the White Stripes’ minimalist blues-rock songs make the Bricks’ Live at the Gold Dollar an interesting historical recording, though it’s not an all-important must-have.

The bonus item in this package is a Third Man challenge coin which doubles as a 45 turntable adapter. The package also includes replicas of the show fliers and setlists, and a fold-out 12 X 24-inch poster showing the outside of the Gold Dollar club.

The Dead Weather single is pressed in gold-colored vinyl with black wisps. Before the Dodge And Burn album was recorded, the original idea was to gradually issue the album’s tracks on singles in Vault packages until the album was eventually completed. But it turned out that only two singles – offering four tracks in all – were issued in Vault packages before the album was released in September of 2015, and one more single was issued in the same Vault package as the finished album. Unwisely, Third Man has made the decision to continue issuing the remaining tracks from the now-released album in subsequent Vault packages. Clearly, the single in this package is strictly for fans who feel a need to own all of the Dodge And Burn album’s tracks on physical 7-inch vinyl singles. The single’s A-side “Let Me Through” is a good specimen of the Dead Weather’s dark-and-fuzzy goth-rock, built on a hypnotic background of repetitive distortion. One passage presented in a double-voice track toward the end is heard to good effect on vinyl. The B-side, “Be Still”, has a jerkier structure, working better as part of its album than as a stand-alone track. This leaves one more Dead Weather Dodge And Burn single to come from the Vault – although no such single is slated for Packages #28 or 29.

A note for fellow vinyl aficionados: the practice of engraving text in the dead wax, or the runout grooves between the sticker and the last track’s grooves, is present on these items. The 7-inch single has “Chesty La Rue” carved in its A-side, and “Bae Stijl” carved in its B-side. The Two Star Tabernacle LP has “Get rid of the worst” carved on Side One, and “Get rid of the company store” carved in Side Two. The Go LP has “Face Turned Green” carved on Side One, and “Hey Gyp” carved on Side Two. The Bricks LP has “Trading this for that” carved on Side One, and “sans a certain man” carved on Side Two.

Various Artists “Live at the Gold Dollar” (box set)

Two Star Tabernacle “Live at the Gold Dollar” (Third Man TMR367) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Zig Zag Springs
2. Who’s To Say
3. Itchy
4. Hotel Yorba
5. Garbage Picker
6. Now Mary
7. Heavens To Betsy (Incomplete)
8. Red Head
9. Jesus And Tequila
10. So Long Cruel World
11. Sixteen Tons

The Go “Live at the Gold Dollar” (Third Man TMR368) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Meet Me At The Movies
2. But You Don’t Know
3. Whatcha Doin’
4. Long Is The Tongue
5. Get You Off
6. Turn Your Little Light Bulb On
7. Suzy Don’t Leave
8. You Can Get High
9. Psycho

Jack White & The Bricks “Live at the Gold Dollar” (Third Man TMR369) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
2. I Can’t Wait
3. One And Two
4. The Same Boy You’ve Always Known
5. You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket
6. The Union Forever
7. Now Mary
8. Candy Cane Children
9. Offend In Every Way
10. Ooh My Soul

The Dead Weather “Let Me Through” b/w “Be Still” (Third Man single TMR370) 2016

a. Let Me Through
b. Be Still

Monday, March 21, 2016

Metallica "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, Metallica!" - (2016 Record Store Day First Release)

As you've probably heard by now, Metallica are the official ambassadors of Record Store Day 2016, which falls on Saturday, April 16th. The band that released a cassette on last year's Record Store Day will this year release a CD, entitled Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, Metallica! - Live at Le Bataclan. Paris, France - June 11th, 2003. As the title indicates, the CD documents a nine-song live set performed at the Bataclan in Paris in June of 2003. In light of the recent terrorist attack at that venue in November 2015, proceeds from sales of the CD will be donated to the Fondation de France's Give For France charity.

This concert was performed at a strange time in Metallica's history, just days after the release of their chaotic St. Anger album. This was the first year that the band employed current bassist Robert Trujillo, after they weathered two years of troubles documented in the film Some Kind Of Monster.

This show was the second of three shows that the band performed on that day. Hopefully, the official CD issue will have cleaner sound quality than the muddy bootlegs of the show that have surfaced, because this concert shows a rejuvenated Metallica coming back strong from troubled times. Interestingly enough, only one song from St. Anger appears in this set, and this performance of “Frantic” is about as harsh as its studio version. The other eight songs are drawn from the band’s ‘80’s albums, and are full of pre-“Black Album” intensity. Even on bootleg recordings, the power and fury of “No Remorse”, “Ride The Lightning”, and “Blackened” force their way through the recording anomalies. Again, it will be fortunate if the sound is cleaner on the official CD release, because the bootleg muddiness does get in the way, especially during the first half. If that problem is remedied, then Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, Metallica! has the makings of a powerful live album.

4/16/16 Update: Record Store day has come. I was lucky enough to score a copy of this CD, marked no. 7040 of 20,000 copies pressed. The sound quality on the CD is excellent. The first half of the concert sounds infinitely better than on bootlegs. "Fade To Black" has a particularly eerie beauty, and "Frantic" sounds much more professional than I had realized. With the cleaner sound quality, the last four tracks sound less raw but no less powerful. Recommended.

Metallica - Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, Metallica! Live at Le Bataclan, Paris, France: June 11th, 2003

Metallica "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, Metallica! - Live at Le Bataclan. Paris, France - June 11th, 2003" (Blackened) 2016

Track Listing:

1. The Four Horsemen
2. Leper Messiah
3. No Remorse
4. Fade To Black
5. Frantic
6. Ride The Lightning
7. Blackened


8. Seek & Destroy
9. Damage, Inc