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Showing posts from 2017

Gregg Allman and Cher as Allman And Woman

By now, you have probably heard about the passing of Gregg Allman, who died on May 27th at the age of 69. During his lifetime, the legendary blues rocker -- who was a key figure in the creation of the Southern rock genre in the '70's -- was married seven times, the most famous of his ex-wives being none other than Cher (aka Cherilyn Sarkisian). Allman was married to the iconic pop singer/actress from 1975 until 1979, when the Allman Brothers Band became temporarily inactive, and at a point in time when the "Goddess Of Pop" was having more success as a TV variety show hostess than as a recording artist. Show business has always been known to make strange bedfellows, but the marital union between the Southern rock pioneer and the erstwhile Sonny & Cher entertainer made for an even odder coupling than most. Their stormy marriage inspired many tabloid headlines, showing the first public signs of trouble after only one week.

This unlikely pair seemed like the least

Eighteen!

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Cue the Alice Cooper music, 'cause it's eighteen! That's how many years it has been since the day my website, Rarebird's Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews, first "went live" on May 31, 1999. Even though a zillion things have changed since then, it's hard for me to believe it's been that many years since I first began to build the website. Anyone who was born the same day or year as my site is now becoming a legal adult!



"Adulthood" may or may not be a good analogy for the site, because I shudder to think about how old the site may be in website years. In recent months, I've felt more future shock than usual about the age of my site. Personal websites like mine have become "rare birds" in themselves due to their decline in popularity since 2004 or so, when the growth of blogs (like the one you are reading now) and social media resulted in easier ways for people to express themselves on the internet.

Personally, I've never thou…

The Cars "Live At The Agora, 1978" (2017 Record Store Day release)

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The Cars Live At The Agora, 1978 was a 2-LP set issued on Record Store Day 2017, limited to 5,000 copies. It was a previously unreleased recording of a concert performed by the Boston new wave quintet at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18, 1978. This concert took place the month after the release of the band’s platinum-selling self-titled debut album, which found success among both new wave enthusiasts and mainstream rock listeners. The 13 live cuts are spread out across the first three LP sides; the fourth side has an etching of a Cars “tire tread” logo designed by drummer David Robinson.

During this concert, the band performed all nine of the songs from the debut album, as well as "Night Spots", which later turned up on their second album, Candy-O. All of those songs maintain the same mixture of new wave tension and rock and roll accessibility that graced the studio versions. As they did on record, Ocasek and the late Benjamin Orr alternated the lead vocal …

David Bowie "Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles '74)" (2017 Record Store Day release)

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David Bowie's Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles '74) was a 3-LP set issued on Record Store Day 2017, limited to 17,000 vinyl copies worldwide. It was the first official release of a much-bootlegged live concert recording from September 5, 1974 at the Los Angeles Amphitheatre. The 20 live cuts are spread out across the first five LP sides; the sixth side has an etching of the same Diamond Dogs-era "BOWIE" logo that appears on the front cover. This album was mixed by Tony Visconti in the fall of 2016. The album is going to be released as a 2-CD set on June 16th, first in a limited-edition digipack, then in a standard jewelcase package.

Footage from this concert had appeared in the 1975 BBC TV documentary titled Cracked Actor. Bowie’s supporting players for this show consisted of some of the same musicians who worked on his 1975 album Young Americans, which was a work in progress at that time. These players included guitarists Earl Slick and Carlos Alomar, flute and sax …

Sting "Live At The Bataclan" (2017 Record Store Day EP)

For Record Store Day 2017, Sting issued the six-song EP Live At The Bataclan. Limited to 3,500 copies, the EP contained six live cuts from the former Police frontman’s November 2016 concert at the Bataclan theatre in Paris. That concert officially reopened the doors of that venue one year after the terrorist attack that took place there in November of 2015.

This concert was performed one day after the release of 57TH & 9TH, which was Sting’s first rock and roll album in 13 years. The two selections from that album, “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You” and “One Fine Day”, have a straight-ahead rock sound, and have the most immediate appeal, thanks in large part to the guitar sounds provided by the supporting players. Sting and company also perform two of his well-known Police hits, “Message In A Bottle” and “Every Breath You Take”, which are both given respectable treatment. But the two most memorable tracks are drawn from Sting’s 1987 solo album …Nothing Like The Sun. The gentle “F…

Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes "Live At Jones Beach" EP (2017 Record Store Day release)

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On Record Store Day 2017, a live EP from Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes was issued. Limited to 4,000 numbered copies and pressed in white-and-black-marbled vinyl, Live At Jones Beach contained three live cuts performed together by the Led Zeppelin guitarist and the Southern rock band at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY on July 10, 2000. (Thus, these recordings are drawn from a later show than the 1999 concert documented on the 2000 double-album Live At The Greek). All three of this EP's selected songs were Led Zeppelin songs.

Page and the Crowes were a good musical match, as the Crowes' penchant for retro-'70's rock made them better equipped than most bands to help Page recreate the Led Zeppelin sound. One common criticism of this teaming was that Crowes drummer Steve Gorman was less impressive than Led Zep's legendary John Bonham -- but what living drummer isn't? Gorman is a fine drummer on his own smaller scale, and the band’s chemistry with Page resulte…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 31: Margo Price live

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The 31st set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in March of 2017. 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.

The thirty-first Vault package featured three items by Margo Price, the Illinois-born, Nashville-based country singer whose moving debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter was released by Third Man Records one year ago today, on March 25, 2016. It’s easy to understand why Jack White’s label became the album’s distributor, because it has an authentic old-school country sound that recalls Loretta Lynn, but with a modern lyrical outlook. Price has a pretty voice that suggests vulnerability, but her bruta…

David Bowie "Bowpromo" (2017 Record Store Day special release)

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As of this writing, we are still awaiting the complete official list of special releases for Record Store Day 2017. However, details of some of the releases have been reported. Two David Bowie recordings have been excavated from the vaults, and will be issued on limited edition vinyl by Parlophone. One of them, titled Cracked Actor, is a previously unreleased 3-LP set documenting a 1974 live show performed in Los Angeles. (The concert figured into a 1975 Bowie documentary film of the same title, which aired on the BBC). The other Record Store Day item is a reissue of a rare 1971 promo LP called Bowpromo.

Thr RSD edition of Bowpromo is a single-sided 12-inch LP, limited to 5,000 copies, containing alternate mixes of seven Bowie songs from the early ‘70’s: five songs that were released on his classic 1971 album Hunky Dory, an outtake (“Bombers”) from that same album, and “It Ain’t Easy”, Bowie’s glam-rock rendition of Ron Davies’ blues song which was released on the 1972 Rise and Fall…

The Distractions "Kindly Leave The Stage" and "Go Dark" (2017)

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The Distractions were an unjustly overlooked band from Manchester, England, who recorded only one full-length album, 1980's Nobody's Perfect, during their original run. They broke up in 1981 after failing to achieve commercial success, but there have been a number of Distractions reunions in recent years, featuring original singer Mike Finney and original guitarist Steve Perrin. A new lineup released a second Distractions album, titled The End Of The Pier, in 2012 -- 32 years after the debut album. And now, the Distractions are about to issue their third -- and, they say, final -- album, titled Kindly Leave The Stage, on May 12, 2017.

Although the album’s official release date is two months away, the album can be pre-ordered from the Occultation Recordings website. Some of the packages offered also include a 10-inch vinyl EP called Go Dark, which is limited to 250 copies. There might still be time to obtain one!

Kindly Leave The Stage was recorded over the course of three day…

INXS B-sides and rarities 1980 - 2012

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As an adjunct to my INXS rarity reviews page, I’ve put together a YouTube playlist of even more obscure INXS songs, spanning their entire recording career from their first single in 1980 to their apparent last recording in 2012. Most of these songs were B-sides to the band’s singles. The surprising thing is that many of these songs did not feature their late frontman Michael Hutchence – not necessarily because they were recorded after his death, because 32 of these 37 tracks were recorded before Hutchence’s 1997 passing. Many of INXS’ little-known B-sides were written, produced, and performed by one member of the band. Some were instrumentals, while others featured vocals by band members who usually did not sing the lead.

Beneath the embedded playlist below, I’ve written short explanations for each track. I hope you enjoy this playlist as much as I do.





1. Simple Simon (1980) -- The A-side of the first INXS single, released in Australia the same year as the band's self-titled de…

Feelies "Uncovered" (2016 Record Store Day EP)

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The Feelies are about to release a new album on February 24th, titled In Between, on Bar/None Records. This is certainly big news for followers of the New Jersey indie-rock band, whose albums are few and far between. In Between is only the sixth full-length Feelies album to be released since 1980 (the year of their debut LP Crazy Rhythms), and it is their first album in six years, since they issued Here Before in 2011 – after a two-decade hiatus.

Although it has been six years since their last full-length album, the Feelies did issue a four-song EP titled Uncovered for Record Store Day 2016. Limited to 1,200 copies, the 12-inch, 45 rpm vinyl EP contained covers of songs by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, the Doors, and Patti Smith. It’s a decent little record that delivers exactly what it promises, rendering the four covered songs through the Feelies’ guitar-based garage rock sensibilities. Glenn Mercer’s vocals sound less restrained on this EP than on most Feelies album tracks, suggesting t…

Andrew Ridgeley “Son Of Albert” (1990)

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Sadly, December 25th of 2016 truly was the “Last Christmas” for George Michael. One of many pop icons who passed away that year, Michael was found dead in his Oxfordshire home on Christmas Day at the age of 53. As of this writing, the cause of his death has still not been officially determined. Michael was one of Britain’s biggest music stars, achieving tremendous success as a solo performer and as one-half of Wham!, an '80's pop duo he formed with his former schoolmate Andrew Ridgeley.

And what ever happened to Andrew Ridgeley? After the breakup of Wham! in 1986, Ridgeley recorded only one solo album, titled Son Of Albert, in 1990. The album was a flop, and Ridgeley left the music business shortly after. There were rumors about a possible Wham! reunion during the years just before Michael's passing, but it never happened.

The Son Of Albert album suggests that Ridgeley would rather have been part of Def Leppard or Poison. Its sound is very un-Wham!-like, having more in …

Orion The Hunter (1984)

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Orion The Hunter was a short-lived band led by Barry Goudreau, who was an original guitarist for Boston. Their only album was the self-titled Orion The Hunter, released in 1984. Boston lead singer Brad Delp sings background vocals on three of the tracks (“All Those Years”, “Stand Up”, and “Joanne”), and had a hand in co-writing five, but you would think his role was bigger than that. Orion’s lead singer was Fran Cosmo, who sounded similar to Delp, but with a higher vocal range. Cosmo had previously sung on Goudreau’s self-titled 1980 solo album, and later joined Boston’s lineup, performing on the albums Walk On (1994) and Corporate America (2002). The quartet was rounded out by bassist Bruce Smith and former Heart drummer Michael De Rosier.

Orion The Hunter was cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned solo album by Goudreau, which sounded so Boston-like that it was hard to believe Tom Scholz was not involved with it. Orion The Hunter is just a shade less Boston-like than that alb…

Distractions “And Then There’s…” EP (1981)

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Great news for the lucky few of us who know of the existence of the Distractions, the Manchester band who recorded only one album in 1980, titled Nobody’s Perfect, before disbanding and being unjustly forgotten. Those of us in the know are aware that the Distractions – led by original singer Mike Finney and original guitarist Steve Perrin – eventually reunited and released a second album titled The End Of The Pier in 2012 – a whole 32 years after their long-lost treasure of a debut album. Now, a third and reportedly final Distractions album – titled Kindly Leave The Stage – has been completed, and is scheduled for release this spring. Also, a much-delayed box set titled Parabolically Yours – which hopefully will contain the tracks from the Nobody’s Perfect album – is now scheduled to be released this summer by the U.K. Hidden Masters label.

After the Nobody’s Perfect album proved to be a commercial failure in 1980, the Distractions were dropped from Island Records, reportedly in fav…