Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Matthew Sweet "Girlfriend" special edition

This week, a 2-disc special edition of Matthew Sweet's 1991 album Girlfriend was released. The first disc contains the original 15 tracks (newly remastered) plus three bonus tracks that were originally released on an EP titled Girlfriend: The Superdeformed CD. The Japanese version of the Girlfriend CD also contained these three songs as bonus tracks. These three demos include: "Good Friend", which was the original version of the title track; "Teenage Female", about a young girl with a crush on a pop idol; and "Superdeformed", a full-bodied alt-rock gem.

The second disc contains 13 tracks that were originally issued on a 1992 promo CD called Goodfriend: Another Take On "Girlfriend". That disc was mainly distributed through Sweet's fan club, and I thought it would never be reissued as a commercial item. It contains four songs recorded acoustically in Sweet's house, two that were recorded for the BBC, six live recordings from San Diego State, and one other live recording ("I've Been Waiting") for a Cleveland radio station. The bulk of the songs are selections from the proper Girlfriend album, but two of the high points are an acoustic home recording of John Lennon's "Isolation", and a live performance of Neil Young's "Cortez The Killer" featuring the Indigo Girls. Goodfriend makes a good case for Sweet as a live performer, and for his ability to perform in intimate settings. It's a useful companion piece for Sweet's defining album, and it's good to see it made available.

Below is the original cover art for the Goodfriend promo CD from 1992. It parodied the cover art of the Girlfriend album, which featured a vintage photo of Tuesday Weld, and the cover art of Neil Young's Zuma album, which is where the original "Cortez The Killer" can be found.

Rarebird's Matthew Sweet Reviews

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Vince Welnick, the final Grateful Dead keyboardist, dies

In case you haven't heard, Vince Welnick died last Friday, June 2nd. The cause is believed to have been suicide, although an official autopsy is scheduled this week. Welnick was the fourth and final keyboardist for the Grateful Dead, having played in the band from 1990 until its demise in 1995. Before that, Welnick was a long-time member of the Tubes. His age is in dispute; his publicist says he was 51, but other sources say he was 55. Check out this article in the San Francisco Chronicle; the headline says he was 55, but the first paragraph says he was 51.

Here is the eerie part: all four of the Grateful Dead's former keyboardists are now dead. Original keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan died in 1973 from a liver ailment. His replacement, Keith Godchaux, was killed in a car accident in 1980, shortly after he was asked to leave the band. The third keyboardist, Brent Mydland, died of a drug overdose in 1990. Band spokesman Dennis McNally said:

"It's not a happy history. Each one of these guys had a fragility, which isn't that uncommon for musicians."

That quote helps to provide some insight into why so many people in the music business die at early ages.