Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sweet Sixteen!

It's sixteen, it's beautiful, and it's mine! That's how I feel today about my website, Rarebird's Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews. It was 16 years ago today when I first published my website about out-of-print rock albums on May 31,1999. On that day, the site consisted of four pages and six album reviews. I knew the site would grow bigger, but I had no idea that I would wind up creating over 35 artist pages. At the beginning of 2003, I began to create simpler "Spotlight Review" pages focusing on one album apiece, instead of on numerous albums from one artist. Even that part of the site has grown larger in size than I originally thought it would. So, at the end of 2004 (over a decade ago already!) I began to publish this blog as a forum for reviewing out-of-print albums that I've eagerly continued to discover. And, for as long as I continue to enjoy discovering rock and roll's recorded rarities, I will continue to use this blog as a means to publish my thoughts without bloating the size of the original website.

On my site's sixteenth birthday, I want to reiterate a point I once made before: I once felt somewhat self-conscious about how old-fangled the site looked, but not anymore. After once being told that the site looked like it was stuck in 1997, I often tried to think of ways to make it look more modern. But now I only feel I should be concerned about technical necessities and any improvements that I personally feel would improve the site. On this past Record Store Day, I once again drove for over an hour to visit an indie record store, and it was a pleasure as always to still be able to shop at the type of indie record store that I used to treasure, decades ago. Based on what other shoppers in the surprisingly crowded store were saying, I am not the only one who feels that way. If my website also resembles something from the pre-digital-music past, then so be it. In my day (if I may say so without sounding like a dinosaur), I used to read about albums in print publications, either in magazines or books. And if I was reading about a rare and forgotten album, I was usually reading about it in a specialized publication that was none-too-flashy in appearance. If the look of my website recalls that sort of forgotten, old-fashioned print publication, or if it is reminiscent of late-'90's style web design, then that will be a source of pride from this point on. I would like to do my part to preserve some of the old-school record collecting experience that I remember from my younger years.

In any event, I want to thank everyone who has visited or in any way supported my website and blog during the first 16 years of their history. I plan to keep them alive for a long time to come.

And one more thing: according to a website called Nerdy Data, my website is Gold Certified. I'm not quite sure what that means in this case, but as someone who used to dream of being a rock star, "Gold Certified" is something I would always have wanted my creation to be called. So I will display my gold certification proudly here! is gold certified is gold certified

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Robert Plant “More Roar” EP (Record Store Day 2015)

On Record Store Day 2015, Robert Plant issued a 10-inch EP titled More Roar, which contained a few live tracks recorded with his band called the Sensational Space Shifters during their 2014 tour in support of the album lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar. Three of the four selections on the EP were drawn from that album. The vinyl-only EP was limited to 10,000 copies.

Of course, neither the album nor the EP emits the type of heavy metal “roar” that Plant once epitomized. The legendary Led Zeppelin screamer has evolved into an eccentric crooner, and his latest album is an arty and unusual mixture of blues and Eastern folk music. It’s very unlike the music Plant is best known for, although it does sometimes echo Zeppelin’s otherworldly qualities. Plant’s now-understated vocals just seem to naturally fit the material, because he owns it.

The EP contains live performances of three songs from the lullaby album, and – even in the strange case of “Arbaden (Maggie’s Babby)” – they are faithful reproductions of the studio versions. But that description certainly does not apply to the EP’s rendition of the Zeppelin classic “Whole Lotta Love”, which doesn’t resemble the original very much until it is near its end. Before it finally kicks into electric gear, it is made to sound like another Eastern-influenced folk song, and its lyrics are mixed up with those of Bo Diddley’s “Mona” and “Who Do You Love”. It's quite an unexpected and enjoyable reinterpretation.

For fans of the lullaby album, the More Roar EP is a pleasing, though not essential, accessory.

Robert Plant - More Roar

Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters “More Roar” EP (Nonesuch 548242-0) 2015


1. Turn It Up – Arbaden (7:40)


2. Poor Howard (4:53)
3. Whole Lotta Love (medley) (5:25)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Supergrass "Sofa (Of My Lethargy)" - Record Store Day 2015 single

On Record Store Day 2015, the Parlophone label issued a 7-inch single (pressed in pine-green vinyl) consisting of two songs recorded by Supergrass in 1994, when the now-defunct Britpop band’s 1995 debut album I Should Coco was made. The single was limited to 500 copies. These two tracks previously appeared on a radio promo CD in 1995.

The A-side track is a radio edit of “Sofa (Of My Lethargy)”, the most sophisticated song on the I Should Coco album. The album version of that song runs over six minutes; this radio edit comes in just under four minutes, with the long instrumental coda clipped off the end to make it radio-friendly. The intricately Beatlesque song resembles what “Norwegian Wood” might have sounded like if the Fab Four had recorded it for either the Sgt. Pepper or Abbey Road album instead of Rubber Soul. Hearing it on vinyl makes it even more reminiscent of the pre-digital music era.

The B-side, “I Believe In Love”, is an unfinished outtake from the I Should Coco sessions. There is a conspicuous absence of post-production that would have given the song a fuller Britpop sound. Without that type of splendor, the song actually sounds like a melodic new wave tune that could have been recorded 15 years earlier. (That might say something about these two genres in general, eh?). If I didn’t know better, this song might have made me think that an old obscure 45 from that earlier genre and time period was spinning on my turntable. Charming.

Supergrass - Sofa (Of My Lethargy)

Supergrass "Sofa (Of My Lethargy)" b/w “I Believe In Love” (Parlophone single 0825646153848) 2015

Track Listing:

a. Sofa (Of My Lethargy) – Radio Edit (3:55)
b. I Believe In Love – Unfinished Out-Take (4:27)