Thursday, January 29, 2009

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

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:

hindu love gods 1990 CD reissued

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:

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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lynyrd Skynyrd keyboardist Billy Powell dies at 56

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:

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.

I am reminded of an eerie coincidence involving the last album released by Skynyrd in the '70's. In a classic, morbid case of bad timing, the 1977 album Street Survivors was released three days before that tragic plane crash. The above right image was the original cover art, which was deemed to be tasteless after the crash. Future pressings of the album substituted the cover art on the left. Adding to the macabre coincidences, the LP originally came with an order form for something called the Lynyrd Skynyrd Survival Kit, and both versions of the cover art showed Ronnie Van Zant wearing a shirt that referred to Neil Young's album Tonight's The Night. Newer CD editions of Street Survivors have restored the original fiery cover image.