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Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 2

Last week I received the second pair of exclusive vinyl items offered to platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service. For those who are unaware, Third Man Records is the label owned by Jack White, the leader of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and the Dead Weather. 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. According to the postmark, the records were sent on December 18th. I received mine on the 22nd.

This second set of items consists of a 2-LP live album from the Raconteurs on 180g vinyl, and a White Stripes single featuring alternate versions of two early songs. The package also included a screen-print poster of the Dead Weather’s Horehound album cover image, designed by Rob Jones, which fits neatly inside the LP’s 12-inch sleeve.

The White Stripes single contains alternate takes of the two songs which were released on the duo’s first single in 1998 (Italy Records 0…

Alan Mann “Christmas On The Block” (1983)

Rarebird’s Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews would like to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, or whatever you personally call this time of year.

I’m sure that most of you have been hearing plenty of holiday music lately. I’d like to share with you a Christmas song that most of you probably haven’t heard lately, if ever: “Christmas On The Block” by Alan Mann, from 1983.

This song was released only as a 7” single by a small indie label, and it is now very hard to find. However, the miracle of YouTube enables you and me to hear the song and watch its video right here and now.

Alan Mann was a musician based in the Philadelphia, PA area who was little-known outside of that region. But he did gain wider fame during the Christmas seasons in the mid-1980’s, when the then-young MTV network would air the video for “Christmas On The Block”. It’s a moving, one-of-a-kind song inspired by the people who then lived in a group house for the blind in the Philadelphia suburb of Upper Darb…

Bryan Adams’ 1979 disco single

The first single Bryan Adams recorded as a solo artist (following his departure from the Canadian band Sweeney Todd) was called “Let Me Take You Dancing”. The surprising thing is that it was a disco single! The original version of the song, released in Canada in 1978, sounded much like a recording by Nick “Hot Child In The City” Gilder. (Adams had replaced Gilder in Sweeney Todd). The 18-year-old Adams sang in a higher pitch than he did in his later recordings. For the single’s 1979 American release, the song was given a disco remix by John Luongo. Luongo sped up Adams’ vocals to the point where he sounded like a chipmunk! (Luongo was probably aiming to make Adams sound like Off The Wall-era Michael Jackson). For that reason, Adams has always distanced himself from the song, even though it was a minor disco hit, and soon led to Adams being fully signed to A&M Records. Adams has refused to allow the song to be included on any of his subsequent releases.

The single was released in bo…

Attila with Billy Joel

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Rarebird's Spotlight Album Review #19 is complete. The subject: the self-titled 1970 album by Attila, a heavy metal duo featuring singer/organist Billy Joel. (You read that right). The review is here:

http://rarebird9.net/attila.html

The Cure "Fade Away: The Early Years Vinyl Box Set" (2009)

For those who are extreme lovers of vinyl and extreme lovers of the Cure, the Vinyl Lovers label is serving up a pricey limited edition package called Fade Away: The Early Years Vinyl Box Set on December 15th. The 7-LP set is limited to 1,000 copies, and contains 180g vinyl discs of the first four Cure albums: Three Imaginary Boys (1979), Seventeen Seconds (1980), Faith (1981), and Pornography (1982). The other three discs in the set contain a total of 29 bonus tracks (including the epic instrumental Carnage Visors), all of which are available on the 2-CD Deluxe Editions of the three latter albums which were released in 2005. A complete track listing for the Fade Away box set can be found here. For those who intend to shell out nearly $200 USD for the set, it can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com.

Velvet Underground and Nico: original 1966 acetate

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There seems to be a general consensus that the most valuable record in existence is the original acetate copy of the first Velvet Underground album, The Velvet Underground and Nico, from 1966. This acetate was originally presented to Columbia Records, who rejected it. (The album was released by the Verve label in 1967). Earlier this decade, the acetate was purchased at a yard sale in New York for 75 cents, and was sold on eBay for a whopping $25,000! The full story is here. The fragile acetate is now reportedly stored in a safe place. But, thanks to this blog entry by New York indie radio station WFMU (91.1 FM), the rest of us can listen to it online.

The acetate contained rougher mixes of 9 of the album’s 11 tracks. (“Sunday Morning” and “There She Goes Again” are absent). One thing that is odd is the sequence of the tracks, which is virtually in reverse order from that of the finished album. Placing the bizarre “European Son” at the beginning was an ill-advised idea, and it probably …

Katy Hudson (aka Katy Perry)

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Several years before she scored a controversial worldwide smash hit about kissing a girl and liking it, brash pop singer Katy Perry recorded something that is arguably the polar opposite: a Christian music album, under her real name Katy Hudson. (She has since changed her name to avoid confusion with the actress Kate Hudson). The self-titled 2001 CD Katy Hudson was released on the now-defunct Red Hill label. The singer was 16 years old at the time of its recording.

Perry’s hit 2008 album One Of The Boys is a generally repellent collection of noisy, in-your-face pop songs, long on attitude and short on song craft. Perry is essentially the Alanis Morissette of the late ‘00’s, having been mentored by Glen Ballard on creating angst-ridden songs which are unlike the ones she recorded as a teenager.



At first, the Katy Hudson album doesn’t sound completely different from her newer work; the first two tracks have a similarly edgy pop sound with recognizable vocals. Also, the message of “Spit” g…

AC/DC studio rarities

A new AC/DC box set titled Backtracks is being released this week. It contains 2 CDs and one DVD. The first CD contains 12 rare studio tracks, while the second CD contains 15 live cuts recorded between 1977 and 2000.

Although my hobby of searching out rare rock recordings did not fully develop until I was 20 or so, my first Rarebird moment came when I was a teenage metal-head in 1983. Although I owned every American-issued AC/DC album released up to that point (up until Flick of the Switch, to be exact), I still made a habit of flipping through the AC/DC bins every time I walked into record stores. One night, I came across an import copy of the band’s 1976 album High Voltage with different cover art. I had heard that the Australian versions of most of the Bon Scott-era albums contained at least one different track apiece. I was quite surprised when I examined the Australian High Voltage track listing, and found that it contained six songs which were unavailable in the States! (Most of …

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 1

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This past weekend I received the first pair of exclusive vinyl items offered to platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service. For those who are unaware, Third Man Records is the label owned by Jack White, the leader of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and the Dead Weather. 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. According to the postmark, the records were sent on August 28th. I received mine the next day.

The first set of items consists of a mono version of the White Stripes’ 2007 album Icky Thump on 180g vinyl, and a Dead Weather single with two non-album tracks. The package also included a black t-shirt with a label logo on the front.

The mono version of Icky Thump certainly sounds different with its sound layers flattened into one. The non-stereo sound often makes this modern album sound like a blues-rock recording from another time. More than ever, it sounds lik…

White Stripes single from Sub Pop

The website for Jack White's new record label Third Man Records has piqued my interest with a service called the Vault. The Vault offers the expected online goodies (i.e. streaming video and chat rooms) for all of its members. But for its "Platinum Members" who pay $20 per month, the label is offering exclusive vinyl items, in the form of LP's and 7-inch singles. More information is at the site:

http://thirdmanstore.com/thevault/frequently-asked-questions

While explaining why prospective members should spend 20 of their hard-earned bucks per month on this service, the site mentions this:

In 2001 the White Stripes were featured in the Sub Pop singles club. It was a subscription-only service where the lucky subscriber received a 7" every month for a very reasonable price. A six-month subscription in 2001 would have cost you $35. The White Stripes' Sub Pop single on Sub Pop now consistently sells for $250 on reputable online auction sites.

What "Sub Pop single…

Lou Reed reviews added

I've added reviews of three more albums to the Lou Reed page: The Blue Mask (1982), Set The Twilight Reeling (1996), and Perfect Night: Live In London (1998). Here is the page:

http://rarebird9.net/reed.html

The Blue Mask was reissued shortly after I added the review, and that's good news, because that album marked a major creative turning point for Reed. The other two albums are perhaps not among Reed's essential recordings, but most of his fans will want them in their collections.

Ten years! And counting...

Wow! It has now been a full decade since I first created my website Rarebird's Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews. How many personal websites stay online that long? However many or few there are, I am proud to count my site among them.

In previous years in which I posted anniversary messages like this one, I found myself explaining why I hadn't added any new artist pages recently. But this year is different. For the first time since 2004, I have recently created such a page. It felt like old times while I put together my new Kiss rarity review page, and it quickly turned into one of the largest web pages I've ever created. I don't know for sure if I will create more such pages related to more artists in the future, but I'm never saying never. Inspiration might sneak up on me again. And, of course, I will periodically add more spotlight album review pages to the site.

In the meantime, I've noticed that some of the site's existing pages are due for updates. I've …

Mott The Hoople page updated

It came to my attention recently that the Mott The Hoople page on my website was due for an update. So I've added reviews of four more Mott albums which have gone out of print. Those albums are Brain Capers (1972), Live (1974), Two Miles From Heaven (1980), and World Cruise (1993). Here is the page:

http://rarebird9.net/mott.html

By the way, five Mott the Hoople 40th anniversary shows will be taking place in October at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. The original lineup -- Ian Hunter, Mick Ralphs, Overend Watts, Verden Allen, and Dale "Buffin" Griffin -- will be performing together for the first time in 35 years. And on June 3rd, Hunter is turning 70!

Kiss Rarity Review page

Finally! For the first time in over four years, I've created a new page on the website containing multiple album reviews pertaining to a certain artist, instead of just a spotlight album page containing a single review. The subject is a band who are loved by some and hated by others: Kiss! What brought this on? It recently came to my attention that the band's 1998 album Psycho-Circus is out of print. I originally planned to make that album the subject of a spotlight review. But I soon found that, although all of the other proper Kiss albums are currently in print, many related albums have been discontinued. One review led to another, and my Kiss page turned into the second-largest page on my website! I hope you enjoy it:

http://rarebird9.net/kiss.html

INXS deny firing JD Fortune

A spokesperson for INXS has denied JD Fortune's recent claim that he was fired from the band and left stranded at a Hong Kong airport. INXS' creative director and global business strategist, C.M. Murphy, said the band was "shocked" and "horrified" by JD's allegations. Murphy told the BBC:

The band have always stated to me that Fortune's services could
potentially be contracted again when INXS next tour. In fact, he was next on my list to call regarding a very big recording project I am putting together for INXS at present. I guess I have no reason to call him now.

So, who do you believe? Personally, I've never trusted JD since I first saw him on Rock Star: INXS in 2005. I have to wonder if his "homeless and living in a car" story was possibly a reality show ploy then and possibly a publicity stunt now.

As for INXS...what's their next move? Another season of Rock Star: INXS? I still miss that show. Think about it, guys!

Feist - "Monarch Lay Your Jewelled Head Down" (1999)

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Rarebird's Spotlight Album Review #18 is complete. The subject is an independent 1999 CD by modern jazz-pop artist (Leslie) Feist. Monarch Lay Your Jewelled Head Down was an album which Feist recorded with the help of a grant from the Canadian government, and was sold mainly at her shows. Of course, it is now quite rare. Here is the review:

http://rarebird9.net/feistmonarch.html

hindu love gods 1990 CD reissued

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Another long-lost album which was reissued last August by Rhino Encore was the self-titled 1990 cd by an unofficial supergroup called the hindu love gods (the lower-case spelling was theirs), which was the subject of Rarebird's Spotlight Album Review #6. This band consisted of the late Warren Zevon and three-quarters of REM (drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, and bassist Mike Mills). Their one casual album was recorded in 1987 but released in 1990. It consisted of blues cover songs and a very Zevon-like version of Prince's "Raspberry Beret". More information about the album and a still-obscure single can be found here:

http://rarebird9.net/hlg.html

More Alice Cooper reissues

It has come to my attention that, following the May reissues of the first two Alice Cooper albums, four more of Cooper's albums have been reissued on CD by Rhino Encore (a reissue label billed as "the back-in-print imprint"). The long-out-of-print albums which were reissued last August are Muscle of Love (1973), Lace and Whiskey (1977), From the Inside (1978), and Flush the Fashion (1980). My reviews of these albums are on my web site.

This brings the vast majority of Alice's official album releases into print. The ones that are still missing are three albums from his early-'80's oblivion period. If Special Forces (1981) and Zipper Catches Skin (1982) remain out of print, it will be no great loss. But Rhino Encore may want to consider reissuing the 1983 album Dada. It's the album which reunited Coop with producer Bob Ezrin, and it's one of Alice's most underrated works. If it does not get reissued, Dada is worth searching out for Cooper's fans.

Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell dies at 56

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Billy Powell, the longtime keyboardist for the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died early this morning (January 28th, 2009) of an apparent heart attack. He was 56. Here is the Reuters story:

http://www.reuters.com/article/peopleNews/idUSTRE50R7ME20090128

Powell was one of the survivors of the 1977 plane crash which took the lives of original lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backup singer Cassie Gaines. Two of the other crash survivors, guitarist Allen Collins and bassist Leon Wilkeson, have also since passed away. There are now two members who survived the crash who still live: original guitarist Gary Rossington (who still performs with the current Skynyrd lineup) and drummer Artimus Pyle (who is no longer involved with the band).

Powell was fortunate to survive the plane crash and live (and perform) for three more decades. Still, it is sad to hear of his passing at an early age. Of course, his famous keyboard intro to "Free Bird" will live on forever.