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Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 14

Last week I received the fourteenth set 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, 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. According to the postal service, my package was sent on December 13th. I received it on the 17th.

This fourteenth set of items contains a live double-LP by Jack White, and a 7-inch single containing three demos of songs which turned up in finished form on White’s 2012 solo debut Blunderbuss, which reached the #1 spot on the Billboard album chart and on some critics’ year-end lists. The third item in this package is a picture book by Alison Mosshart, singer from the Dead Weather and the Kills, titled Shark Infested Soda…

Notes on Sandy and Shankar

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The day before this post was written was 12/12/12, the day a major all-star benefit concert was held at New York's Madison Square Garden to raise funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy. It was an amazing night. The Rolling Stones performed! The Who performed! Eric Clapton performed! Billy Joel came out of retirement! (Not that he ever really retired from performing). Baby boomer icons performed alongside heroes of Generation X. Bruce Springsteen sang two duets with Jon Bon Jovi. Roger Waters shared the stage with Eddie Vedder. And, most unpredictably of all, Paul McCartney stood in for the late Kurt Cobain as part of a Nirvana reunion! There was one unexpected pairing of Generation X and Y, when REM's Michael Stipe joined Coldplay's Chris Martin on stage for a performance of "Losing My Religion". And, unfortunately, there was also an overlong set from the egomaniacal Kanye West, who stuck out like a sore thumb.

The big news was the Nirvana reunion. Nirvana survivo…

The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

By now, you’ve probably heard plenty about how George Lucas has sold LucasFilm (and subsequently Star Wars) to Disney, and that Disney now plans to make three new Star Wars movies. Do we hope or do we fear? Many fans are making dire predictions about what Disney will do to the series, but the new trilogy might just turn out fine. George Lucas will not be making them, but he has developed the storyline, and will serve as a consultant. The trilogy might be better off with scripts that are not written by Lucas (who is not known for being a good writer of dialogue), and the movies could be made well by different directors (for example, Irvin Kershner did an excellent job of directing The Empire Strikes Back in 1980).

But there is also speculation that Disney has other Star Wars-related plans as well, including a TV series. (Disney also owns ABC). Now that may not be a good thing. Why do I say that? Because this idea brings back memories of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special from 19…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 13

Last week I received the thirteenth set 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, 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. According to the postmark, my package was sent on September 26th. I received it on the 28th.

This thirteenth set of items documents the very first public appearances by the White Stripes in 1997. The 7” single contains three songs which the duo performed at an open mic night that year, while the 12” LP contains their first full concert set from later that year.

The three songs on the single, which is pressed in red vinyl, were recorded on July 14th, 1997 at an open mic night at the now-defunct Gold Dollar in Detroit. Co…

The Distractions "The End of the Pier" (2012)

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The Distractions were an overlooked Manchester band who broke up in the early ‘80’s after releasing only one full-length album called Nobody’s Perfect. They have recently reformed, and have finally issued their second full-length album – 32 years after their first. The End of the Pier was recorded in June 2011 by a lineup consisting of original vocalist Mike Finney, original guitarist Steve Perrin, keyboardist Nick Garside (who was a part of the band’s short-lived mid-‘90’s lineup), guitarist Nick Halliwell (who played on the 2010 EPCome Home), bassist Arash Torabi, and drummer Mike Kellie. The album was released this week in the U.K. on the Occultation label, and the CD will be available as an import from Amazon.com next week. The mp3 download can be purchased now.

The music on The End of the Pier is surprisingly mellow and understated. After the band gets some lingering new wave intensity out of their system on the lead-off track “I Don’t Have Time”, they tone things down to achie…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 12

Last week I received the twelfth set 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, 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. According to the postmark, my package was sent on August 7th. I received it on the 9th.

This twelfth set of items consists of a live LP by Karen Elson (formerly Mrs. Jack White) recorded at Third Man Records, a 7” single containing two outtakes from the Raconteurs’ 2008 album Consolers Of The Lonely, and a DVD documenting two different New Zealand live shows from the White Stripes.

The Raconteurs single consists of two tracks recorded for but omitted from Consolers Of The Lonely. Both songs were written by Brendan Bens…

Grateful Dead "Aoxomoxoa" 1969 and 1971 mixes

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In 1969, the Grateful Dead released their third studio album, titled Aoxomoxoa (pronounced "ox-oh-mox-oh-ah"). This album marked the beginning of a long partnership with lyricist Robert Hunter, who was the Dead’s non-participating songwriter. The album was highly experimental, and the band reportedly ran up a big recording budget that did not make the Warner Brothers executives happy. The album was remixed in 1971 by Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh, and the original 1969 mix was discontinued. The original 1969 master tapes were reportedly misplaced, and that mix was subsequently unavailable for four decades. The original mix finally resurfaced recently as one of the 5 LP’s in Rhino’s vinyl-only box setThe Warner Bros. Studio Albums, released in 2010. Rhino also released the original mix on a separate vinyl LP in 2011. As of this writing, the 1969 mix is still unavailable on CD.

The experimental sound of the original 1969 release may have been partially due to the participation o…

Iggy and the Stooges “Raw Power” mixes

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On Record Store Day 2012, a special double-LP edition was released of Iggy (Pop) and the Stooges’ Raw Power (Legacy 88691959351), containing the David Bowie mix of the album which was originally released in 1973, as well as the 1997 version of the album as remixed by Iggy Pop. The Bowie mix was out of print during the late-‘90’s and in the ‘00’s after it was deleted in favor of Iggy’s mix. Iggy’s newer mix has received much criticism, but this is one case where I personally don’t prefer one mix over the other. The two mixes are very different, and each of them serves its own purpose. Bowie’s 1973 mix is clearly the one that is historically important. When you hear musicians and magazine writers discussing the impact of Raw Power on the evolution of rock music, they are certainly not referring to the 1997 version. But Iggy’s mix possesses a raw power of its own.

Raw Power was the third and final album by the Stooges before the start of Iggy Pop’s solo career. Unlike the band’s two Ele…

Lucky Thirteen!

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It’s hard to believe, but my website Rarebird’s Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews is now 13 years old. May 31st of 1999 was the day the site “went live”, with just six album reviews on four pages. I didn’t think the site would grow much bigger than that, but once I started building it, I didn’t want to stop. I am proud of the site I’ve created, and I intend to keep it alive as long as possible.

I remember receiving an e-mail back in 2006 saying this:

Thanks…for keeping the spirit of the (record) search alive. There is nothing like going from record store to record store in search of the unique. Now (because of) eBay and the internet, the “rock and roll Lewises and Clarks” are extinct…Keep your head above water because you are one of the last.
I knew exactly what this person meant. Back in the ‘90’s, I loved shopping around in indie and used record stores in search of hard-to-find items, a hobby that led to the creation of my site and blog. In the late ‘90’s and early ‘00’s, the indie music …

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 11

Last week I received the eleventh 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, 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. According to the postmark, my package was sent on May 18th. I received it on the 21st.

This eleventh set of items consists of a 3-LP compilation of Third Man Records singles released in 2011, and a 7” single containing alternate takes of two songs by the White Stripes. The bonus item is a black t-shirt with a reflective white Third Man logo that turns yellow in sunlight.

The White Stripes single contains early versions of two songs, both of which were recorded in 1999: “Dead Leaves”, which was re-recorded as “Dead Leav…

White Duck (1971)

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On the John Hiatt page, I reviewed the second album by an early-‘70’s country-rock band called White Duck, titled In Season, because that was the first recording that Hiatt played on. Hiatt had not yet joined the band when they recorded their self-titled debut album White Duck from 1971. I’ve finally listened to this album after being curious about it for many years. I must say I am disappointed.

The Hiatt-less album does feature the other three musicians who would soon play on In Season, all three of whom hailed from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin: Don Kloetzke, Paul Tabet, and Mario Friedel. They were rounded out by brothers Lanny Fiel (formerly of Willie and the Red Rubber Band) and Rick Fiel (who played with an apparently unsigned band called Prince of America). Reportedly, all of these musicians (as well as producer Buzz Cason) had worked with the then-unknown Jimmy Buffett shortly before recording this album.

Unlike the later album, on which all of the members took lead vocal turns, thi…

Feistodon

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Feistodon is a 7-inch vinyl single which was released exclusively for Record Store Day 2012, limited to 5000 copies. It’s an unlikely collaboration of sorts between the Canadian adult-alternative singer-songwriter (Leslie) Feist and the Atlanta-based sludge-metal band Mastodon. One side of the single contains a cover by Mastodon of a song from Feist’s 2011 album Metals, and the other side contains a cover by Feist of a song from Mastodon’s 2011 album The Hunter. These two artists make strange bedfellows, to be sure. They met in October 2011 when both of them performed on an episode of the BBC talk show Later…With Jools Holland. Mastodon’s subsequent plan to cover Feist’s “A Commotion” led to the idea for this very intriguing Record Store Day item. Each artist covered the other’s song their own way, with no input from each other.

The surprising thing about Mastodon’s cover of Feist’s “A Commotion” is that it makes a lot of sense. Their sludge-metal interpretation of the song’s repetit…

Jack White's "Freedom at 21" flexi-disc

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In his eternal quest to find new and imaginative ways to produce and distribute vinyl records, the irrepressible Jack White recently distributed a 1,000-copy limited edition flexi-disc by way of helium balloons. You read that right. White's label Third Man Records printed 1,000 copies of a flexi-disc containing his song "Freedom at 21", one of the tracks from his debut solo album Blunderbuss (which will be released this Tuesday, April 24th). The flexi-discs were attached to blue helium balloons that were released into the air from the Third Man Records lot in Nashville on April 1st, leaving them to land where they may. Only a few copies have been accounted for (see details at the Third Man site). However, at least one of the flexi-discs has been sold on eBay for an astonishing amount of money. Here is what the Third Man site has to say about it:
On April 17th, an eBay auction for a copy of Third Man’s balloon-launched “Freedom at 21” flexi-disc realized a price of $4238.8…

Phantom, Rocker & Slick

It has come to my attention that the short-lived mid-‘80’s trio Phantom, Rocker & Slick have reunited to play live shows, and the U.K. label Rock Candy is set to reissue their self-titled 1985 album Phantom, Rocker & Slick on April 17th. To the best of my knowledge, this will be the first time the album was ever available on CD. This trio was originally formed during the temporary breakup of the Stray Cats, the band that singlehandedly spearheaded an early-‘80’s rockabilly revival in the U.K. and the U.S. While the Stray Cats’ singer/guitarist Brian Setzer began his solo career (several years before the formation of his successful swing orchestra), bassist Lee Rocker and drummer Slim Jim Phantom joined forces with Earl Slick, sometime guitarist for David Bowie, to record two albums in the mid-‘80’s. Lee Rocker was the trio’s frontman, and was a less colorful singer than Setzer.

On the self-titled Phantom, Rocker & Slick album from 1985, the trio does not entirely abandon th…

Lee Ranaldo "From Here To Infinity" (1987)

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For a truly unique specimen in the art of vinyl record pressing, track down a vinyl copy of Lee Ranaldo’s 1987 solo debut album From Here To Infinity. Ranaldo is best known as co-guitarist of the long-running experimental noise-punk band Sonic Youth. He has released a number of solo albums over the years; his latest, Between The Times And The Tides, will be released March 20, 2012.

His first solo release, From Here To Infinity, was released in 1987, when Ranaldo’s usual band were hitting their stride as one of the seminal bands of the indie rock underground. Ranaldo's album was as unconventional as anything ever released by Sonic Youth, in its physical presentation as well as its sound.

Cut by famed recording engineer George “Porky” Peckham, the vinyl LP is fascinating to merely look at. It was pressed in clear vinyl and marble-colored vinyl editions, but even in the typical black color, it is like no other vinyl record you’ve ever seen. The tracks are very short – almost all of the…

Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers: double-CD live albums

I’ve recently added one review each to the Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers pages. The two albums are both 2-CD live albums which are well worth obtaining for fans of those bands, but are both apparently becoming difficult to obtain.

The Byrds-related album is titled 3 Byrds Land In London 1977. It was released in 1997 on the U.K. label Strange Fruit. The performances mostly come from solo sets at the Hammersmith Odeon by three original members of the Byrds: Roger McGuinn, Chris Hillman, and Gene Clark. Most of the work that resulted from that trio’s late-‘70’s reconnection has a less-than-shining reputation – and for good reason – but this album (which is now out of print) offers plenty for Byrds devotees to enjoy. The review appears on the bottom half of the Byrds page:

http://rarebird9.net/byrds.html

The Flying Burrito Brothers double-CD is a long-overdue document of two live San Francisco shows from 1969, performed by the original Gram Parsons-led lineup. (As anyone who has ever vis…

Jack White's debut solo album is coming in April

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Almost a year to the day of the announcement of the White Stripes' breakup comes a more encouraging announcement: Jack White's first solo album, titled Blunderbuss, is going to be released in late April. The first single, titled "Love Interruption", is being released on February 7th, with the non-album B-side "Machine Gun Silhouette". The Jack White-directed video for "Love Interruption" can be viewed below.

The song serves as a very intriguing first taste of the album. It's a moody ballad that makes haunting use of an organ, acoustic guitar, and woodwind. White's lyrics use violent-sounding metaphors to describe how the singer feels about love. It almost sounds like a dark variation on the popular Fleetwood Mac sound from the '70's; Ruby Amanfu provides a Stevie Nicks-like harmony vocal that complements Jack White's disturbed Lindsey Buckingham. Let's hope that the rest of Blunderbuss is this strong.


Alex Chilton - "Free Again: The '1970' Sessions" (CD reissue)

Earlier this month, on January 10th, 2012, Alex Chilton’s 1970 album was reissued by the Omnivore Recordings label, under the title Free Again: The “1970” Sessions. My review of the original 1996 release is here; in my previous blog post, I discussed the vinyl edition of the new reissue. This post focuses on the new CD edition.

This CD features new liner notes by Bob Mehr, who gives new and welcome insights on the sessions. Contrary to the album’s title, these recordings were made during the second half of 1969, while Chilton was still a member of the Box Tops. The sessions for this album were recorded virtually in secret, because Chilton was still under contractual obligation to the Box Tops; the reason the album was titled 1970 when it was released in 1996 was to avoid any potential legal troubles that may still have arisen from the recording dates. Also, the liner notes tell the tale about the initial search for a distribution deal for the album when it was first recorded. Some lab…

Alex Chilton - "All We Ever Got From Them Was Pain"

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This past week, on January 10th, 2012, Alex Chilton’s 1970 album was reissued by the Omnivore Recordings label, under the title Free Again: The “1970” Sessions. The sessions for this album were actually recorded in 1969, shortly before the breakup of Chilton’s popular blue-eyed soul band The Box Tops, and before the formation of his revered power pop band Big Star. The album was never released until 1996, when it was issued as a CD titled 1970 by the Ardent label. That CD has been out of print for some time. The reissue by Omnivore comes in vinyl, CD, and digital formats. This post focuses on the vinyl edition, as well as a 7-inch single associated with it.

Unlike the CD and digital versions of the album, which contain several bonus tracks, the vinyl LP version of Free Again features only one previously unissued track, in place of the omitted “Sugar Sugar/I Got The Feeling” medley. The song is a Chilton composition titled “All We Ever Got From Them Was Pain”. It’s a somber folk ballad…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 10

Last week I received the tenth 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 January 4th. I received it on the 6th.

This tenth set of items consists of a live album (pressed in black-and-blue split-colored vinyl) by the Raconteurs, recorded at the Third Man Records studio, as well as a 7” single containing “celebrity” remixes of two songs from Jack White-led bands, and a DVD documenting Third Man’s 2010 Halloween festival.

The single contains a remix of a White Stripes song by Beck (Hansen) on one side, and a remix of a Dead Weather song by Josh Homme and Mark Lanegan on the other. Bot…