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Paul McCartney and Rockestra

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The second Spotlight Album Review that I wrote for my website Rarebird’s Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews was for a Various Artists live album called Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, released in 1981. This double-LP, which has never been released on CD, was culled from four nights of concerts at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in December of 1979. These concerts were organized by Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim (who was then Secretary-General of the U.N.) to benefit victims of Pol Pot’s reign of terror in Cambodia. More information about the concerts and the album can be found on the review page.

There was a documentary film called Rock For Kampuchea made about the event, but to the best of my knowledge it has never been available on DVD. For the first eight years after I created the review page for the album, my review ended with the words: “So how about a DVD release?” Apparently, my wish has never been granted. Some are predicting that the DVD format will soon be obsolete anyway. But, …

Stoney and Meatloaf (1971)

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Rarebird's Spotlight Album Review #22 is complete. The subject is an album which Meat Loaf recorded in 1971, a good six years before the release of his mega-selling Bat Out Of Hell album from 1977. It was a duet album with a singer/actress called Stoney, a stage name for Shaun Murphy. Murphy later worked as a back-up singer for Bob Seger and Eric Clapton, and became a full-time lead singer for Little Feat from 1993 until 2009.

My review of the 1971 Stoney and Meatloaf album is here:

http://rarebird9.net/stoney.html

Radiohead "The Daily Mail" and "Staircase"

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Continuing their unconventional methods of music distribution, Radiohead released a digital single today. The two songs, "The Daily Mail" and "Staircase" were recorded live for producer Nigel Godrich's From The Basementseries. Both songs are quite impressive, not only because they could easily pass for studio recordings, but also because they have the classic Radiohead sound, more so than the songs on their recent album The King Of Limbs.



The entire performance is scheduled for release on DVD and Blu-Ray on January 31, 2012 as The King Of Limbs: Live From The Basement. The band performed all eight songs from The King Of Limbs as well as "The Daily Mail" and "Staircase" in Godrich's basement. Naturally, a digital-only version of the audio album from the BBC program is available from iTunes as of today.



The two tracks from the single can be purchased as downloads from Thekingoflimbs.com, Amazon.com, or iTunes.

Chick Churchill “You & Me” (1974)

Besides singer/guitarist Alvin Lee, the only other member of the British blues-rock band Ten Years After who has ever released a solo album is keyboardist Chick Churchill. Churchill’s only solo album, titled You & Me, was released in 1974, when the original breakup of his usual band was all but final. Churchill wrote and produced the ten songs; besides playing the keyboards, he also arranged the strings. Two of his usual bandmates (bassist Leo Lyons, drummer Ric Lee) assisted on some tracks, as did Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson of Supertramp, Martin Barre, Cozy Powell, Bernie Marsden, and Bill Jackman. Churchill only sang the lead vocals on two tracks, “You’re Not Listening” and “Falling Down an Endless Day”. The other tracks were sung by journeyman vocalist Gary Pickford-Hopkins, who performed on Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth album that same year.

As you might have guessed after reading the names of the supporting players, the music on You & Me suggests th…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 9

Last week I received the ninth 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, who is 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, my package was sent on October 26th. I received it on the 28th.

Instead of recordings by White’s well-known bands, this ninth set of items consists of recordings in which White was a player, but where he ceded most of the spotlight to two elder statespeople who began their careers in the 1950’s. The package contains a live album (pressed in black-and-blue split-colored vinyl) by Wanda Jackson, recorded at Third Man Studios, as well as a DVD of the same concert, and a 7” single containing two 1998 recordings from Two-Star Tabernacle…

The 27 Club

By this time, you’ve most likely heard about the tragic death of British soul singer Amy Winehouse, who was found dead in her home in London this past Saturday, July 23, 2011. As of this writing, no official cause of death has been determined. However, Winehouse’s battle with drug addiction is well known. One of her hit songs was titled “Rehab”, and its lyrics were about refusing to enter it. For the record, Winehouse actually did go into rehab (some sources say she went as many as four times), but she could not overcome her demons. She was 27 years old. (Update: In October 2011, Winehouse's death was determined to have been alcohol-related).

Apparently, many a musician has met an early end at that peculiar age. Winehouse’s death has drawn new media attention to the so-called “27 Club”, a mythical pantheon of musicians who have died at the age of 27. Along with Winehouse, the most famous members of the 27 Club are Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and Kurt Cobain. The myth …

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 8

Last week I received the eighth 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, who is 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, my package was sent on July 11th. I received it on the 13th.

This eighth set of items focuses entirely on the recently disbanded White Stripes, giving us glimpses of the very beginning and the very end of their performing career. It consists of a 2-LP live album (pressed in 180g vinyl) documenting the final White Stripes concert from 2007, as well as a 7” single containing two very early Stripes recordings from 1997, and a DVD documenting a concert that the duo gave in a small Minnesota bar in the year 2000.

The duo of Jack and Meg…

Farewell, yourmusic.com (aka BMG Music Service)

It’s official. The website yourmusic.com, which evolved from the mail-order music club BMG Music Service, is no more. The site closed down around midnight on June 29th, 2011. This probably does not come as a surprise to anyone. As CD sales have continued to decline, many music retailers have been closing up shop in recent years. It seemed like only a matter of time before this particular enterprise would come to its end.

But, personally, I hate to see it come to its end. I have fond memories of the time when I first became a member of the BMG Music Club. In 1989, after I acquired my first compact disc player, I finally couldn’t refuse those magazine ads for record clubs which I had been seeing since I was a child. As a youngster, I remember seeing ads offering certain numbers of LP records for only one penny. My older siblings repeatedly explained to me that there was a catch: I would be under obligation to buy more records later at full price. So, I had to wait until I “grew up”. And,…

An Evening With Wild Man Fischer (1969)

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Larry “Wild Man” Fischer, a cult musician who suffered from mental illness, died earlier this month from heart failure at age 66. Fischer made sporadic recordings and television appearances beginning in 1968. A performance artist from the enigmatic genre known as outsider music, Wild Man Fischer may have been best known to fans of the Dr. Demento show. He had the distinction of being the very first artist to record for Rhino Records, beginning with a 1975 single called “Go To Rhino Records”. But the first person who was bold enough to give the Wild Man a record deal was Frank Zappa. In 1968, Zappa “discovered” Fischer while he was performing his songs on the sidewalks of L.A.’s Sunset Strip for passersby for ten cents a song. On his Bizarre label, Zappa produced and released Fischer’s two-record debut album titled An Evening With Wild Man Fischer. Recorded on a sidewalk in 1968 and released in April of 1969, the album is, by turns, a performance album by Fischer, a concept album abou…

Neil Young page updates

I've recently added three reviews to the Neil Young page of my website. These reviews pertain to his 1986 album Landing On Water (which is out of print in the U.S. but still available in some countries) and two rare EP's: Eldorado (1989) and The Complex Sessions (1994). The page is located here:

http://rarebird9.net/young.html

The Neil Young page is one page that I haven't made many changes to since I first created it in 1999. The original purpose of the page was to highlight six albums which were then referred to by Young's fans as "the lost six". The first six albums reviewed on the page were out of print at the time, but four of them were reissued in 2003. The ones which are still unavailable are the 1972 movie soundtrack Journey Through The Past (no loss there) and the 1973 live album Time Fades Away (a definite loss; why hasn't it been reissued?).

One revision I've made to the page is one that I would rather not have. I wrote in '99 that "Y…

Twelve years!

It’s amazing but true. It has now been twelve years since I first published my website Rarebird’s Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews. At first thought, it doesn’t seem as if it was that long ago. But then I start to think in depth about how much has changed since that time, especially as far as the music industry is concerned. In 1999, there was no such thing as iTunes, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter. Music was sold mainly on CD’s. Audiocassettes were just going out of fashion at that time, and controversies over online music file sharing were just beginning to heat up. Brick-and-mortar stores like Tower Records were still the places where most music was purchased, although online CD sales were certainly picking up speed. Also, many CD’s were purchased by mail through clubs like Columbia House and BMG Music Service. I used to love visiting my local used record stores to find rare and out-of-print recordings, although I had just recently discovered the joys of eBay and GEMM in '9…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 7

Last week I received the seventh 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, my package was sent on April 15th. I received it on the 18th.

This seventh set of items consists of a 2-LP compilation of all Third Man Records singles released in 2010, and two 7” singles. One of the singles features two cover songs from the 5.6.7.8’s. The other single contains three covers by the White Stripes of Captain Beefheart songs, recorded in 2000.

The 5.6.7.8’s are the Japanese girl group who are best known to American audiences for their appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1. The A-side of the single contains a co…

Radiohead "Supercollider" and "The Butcher"

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Those of us who purchased the Radiohead album The King Of Limbs as a digital download before April 18th received a pleasant surprise this week. The band thanked us by offering free downloads of two additional tracks, titled “Supercollider” and “The Butcher”.

These tracks were released on a limited edition 12-inch vinyl single as a Record Store Day item. The song on the B-side, “The Butcher”, was recorded during the King Of Limbs sessions. The A-side, “Supercollider”, was begun during those sessions but was finished this past March. Although both songs use the same basic ingredients – jittery beats, languid soundscapes, low-volume falsetto vocals – as the songs on The King Of Limbs, both of these tracks would probably stand apart (and stand out) if they had been included on the album. “Supercollider” is a seven-minute song with a fuller sound than most of the tracks on The King Of Limbs. Its use of keyboards makes it somewhat reminiscent of the more laid-back entries in the ‘80’s synth-…

Liz Phair “Juvenilia” EP (1995)

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Depending on your reference point, Liz Phair is either a daring alternative artist from the ‘90’s, or a commercial-minded one-hit-wonder from the ‘00’s. Phair made a name for herself with her 1993 debut album Exile In Guyville, an amazingly confident set of 18 lo-fi songs (some of which had very explicit sexual lyrics) which opened the door for similar female alternative artists that followed. She continued to push the envelope with her next two albums: the polished Whip-Smart (1994) and the sophisticated whitechocolatespaceegg (1998). But Phair’s next course of action was unexpected: after a five-year hiatus, she returned in 2003 with the self-titled Liz Phair album, a slickly produced set that was evidently designed to appeal to the Avril Lavigne crowd. That album yielded a Top 40 single called “Why Can’t I?”, but it also prompted a backlash from her older fans who felt she had sold out. She tried even harder to sell out on her 2005 album Somebody’s Miracle, an unabashed collection …

Jack White quote was taken out of context

Shortly after the breakup of the White Stripes was announced, Q Magazine quoted Jack White as having said this:

I won’t join another band again. Three’s enough for one lifetime. If I can’t say it in any of these bands, then I’ll say it by myself.

Of course, this caused some consternation among White's fans. Although White's other two bands have not officially disbanded, the situations in those bands are not the same as in the White Stripes. In the Raconteurs, White shares frontman duties with Brendan Benson; in the Dead Weather, White takes a backseat to frontwoman Alison Mosshart. Fans who wanted another band that would mainly center around Jack White were worried that there would never be such a thing again.

But when this quote was mentioned in user comments on the Third Man Records website, Ben Swank from Third Man gave this response on March 2, 2011:

FYI, the interview that contained the comment you are referring to was conducted late last year before any news of the White Str…

Radiohead "The King of Limbs"

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Yesterday, on February 18, 2011, Radiohead released their new album The King of Limbs. If you were not aware of this news, there is a good reason for that. Radiohead announced the album’s release on their official website all of five days ago. The album was intended for release through their website today (February 19), but because the site was technically ready for the release yesterday, the band decided not to wait the extra day.

Now, when an album is described as being “released”, we assume that means it is available in stores, either online or brick-and-mortar, and that it can be physically purchased on CD and possibly on vinyl. But that is not the case with The King of Limbs – yet.

The album is currently available only as a download from the official site. This brings back memories of the way the band originally distributed their excellent 2007 album In Rainbows. The release of that album’s mp3 download was announced ten days before the fact. And when the songs were made available …

The end of the White Stripes

Yesterday, on February 2, 2011, the White Stripes announced on their official site that they will no longer record or perform together. I am certainly disappointed to hear the news of the duo’s breakup, but I’m not necessarily surprised. Jack White has been keeping himself very busy with his Third Man Records label, not to mention his other two bands. And the duo needed to cancel most of their last tour in 2007 when drummer Meg White suffered from acute anxiety. The Stripes have remained inactive ever since, although they did release the 2007-recorded live album and documentary film Under Great White Northern Lights in 2010.

The band’s statement says that the breakup has nothing to do with health issues. Meg has apparently recovered from her anxiety, but she may not be eager to go back out on the road again after such an experience. Jack has seemingly been producing and playing on nearly every record released on Third Man. Jack’s other two bands, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, se…

Eyes Adrift (2002) and Volcano (2004)

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Rarebird's Spotlight Album Review #21 is completed. The subject is the self-titled 2002 release from Eyes Adrift, a short-lived supergroup featuring Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets, Krist Novoselic of Nirvana, and Bud Gaugh of Sublime. Kirkwood and Gaugh also recorded an album in 2004 under the name Volcano; that self-titled album has become quite difficult to find. Both albums are reviewed here:

http://rarebird9.net/eyesadrift.html

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 6

I received the sixth 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, my package was sent on January 5th. I received it on the 7th.

This sixth set of items features an LP of previously unreleased demos from the Greenhornes (who share the same rhythm section as the Raconteurs), as well as a 7” picture disc containing remixed versions of the 2000 White Stripes single “Hello Operator” and its B-side “Jolene”. Also, the package contains a concert shirt originally designed for a 2001 joint tour by the White Stripes and the Greenhornes.

The Greenhornes are the Cincinnati trio made up of Jack Lawrence (bass), Patrick Keeler …