Showing posts from 2017

The Greedies "A Merry Jingle" (1979)

The Greedies were a short-lived late-‘70’s supergroup featuring three members of Thin Lizzy (Phil Lynott, Scott Gorham, and Brian Downey) and two refugees from the Sex Pistols (Steve Jones and Paul Cook). It certainly seemed like an odd mixture, considering that the Sex Pistols and other punk rockers were seen as rebelling against arena rockers such as the Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy. However, the late Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott took an interest in the late-‘70’s punk rock scene, befriending a number of its bands and acting like a sort of “elder brother” to the movement. Lynott formed the Greedies (that name was shortened from the less marketable Greedy Bastards) with Jones and Cook, and the three of them – along with other prominent musician friends – performed a few club gigs playing Thin Lizzy songs and post-Johnny Rotten Pistols songs.

The only Greedies recording was a Christmas single titled “A Merry Jingle”, released in 1979 in the U.K., the Netherlands, and Australia…

Y Kant Tori Read (with Tori Amos) 1985 demo tape

As someone who takes an interest in the availability -- or lack thereof -- of certain recordings, I've seen many long-lost, out-of-print albums reissued on CD or iTunes over the years, but I never expected to see a reissue of the self-titled 1988 album by a band called Y Kant Tori Read. This band was fronted by singer/songwriter/pianist Tori Amos, and their one album was released about four years before Amos became an arty alternative icon in the '90's. It was very unlike the piano-based music that Amos would later become known for. Instead, it consisted of synth-heavy '80's pop-rock, with occasional signs of Tori's future persona trying to break out. Here is my review of the album on my website.

The album was a failure in its day, but it now has its admirers among Tori's fan base. Until this year, its previous lack of availability made it something of a "holy grail" among her following. Amos had disowned the album, and it was long kept out of pr…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 33: Icky Thump X

The 33rd set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in September 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 33rd Vault package contained a colored vinyl pressing of the White Stripes’ 2007 album Icky Thump, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the release of the album which would turn out to be the duo’s studio swan song. Instead of a 7-inch single, the package contained two 12-inch records containing a passel of bonus tracks related to the album.

The tenth anniversary vinyl pressing of Icky Thump comes in the form of two discs pressed in stunning “contained explosion” colored vinyl. It’s a s…

Tom Petty and Mudcrutch early singles

It has sadly become very common over the last two years to hear about the deaths of rock's superstars, but I was still not prepared to hear about the sudden death of Tom Petty earlier this week. The vintage rocker had recently been touring and performing with his longtime backing band the Heartbreakers, playing his last show at the Hollywood Bowl on September 25th. He said in a recent interview that this 40th anniversary tour might be his "last big one". Alas, that statement is now all too definite. The 66-year-old Petty was found unconscious in his Malibu home on October 2nd after suffering a full cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead late that evening. (I could rant about how certain irresponsible media outlets prematurely reported his death, but I'll save that rant for another day).

Before the formation of the Heartbreakers, Petty began his recording career as a member of Mudcrutch, a Gainesville, Florida band that played a seemingly eclectic brand of Southern …

Dave Grohl as Late!

Way back when Dave Grohl was the new drummer for an obscure indie-label band called Nirvana, he recorded a low-budget, low-profile solo album under the pseudonym of Late! (yes, the exclamation point was part of the spelling). Over the course of two sessions that took place several months apart, the then-unknown drummer recorded the album -- or, perhaps we should say, the cassette -- titled Pocketwatch. This cassette-only album was distributed by a now-defunct indie label called Simple Machines, as part of their Tool Cassette Series. The recordings in this series were only made available on cassette, not on CD or vinyl, and were reproduced on a just-in-time, as-needed basis when copies were ordered. The cassette was issued in 1992, after Nirvana hit the big time, and it wasn't long before word began to get around that Late! was actually Nirvana's drummer. A few years later, after Grohl had become the singer/guitarist/leader of the Foo Fighters, there was eventually such an incr…

Truly "Heart And Lungs" EP (1991)

It's hard to believe that the movie Singles was released 25 years ago today, on September 18, 1992. Cameron Crowe's romantic comedy was set against the backdrop of the legendary Seattle grunge rock scene when it was at its peak, and now serves as a time capsule item for that vital time and place in rock and roll history. Its soundtrack album was a who's-who of Seattle grunge artists, featuring songs from many of the genre's giants (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains) alongside tracks from Mother Love Bone (featuring members-to-be of Pearl Jam), Mudhoney, and Screaming Trees. It also featured songs by pre-grunge Seattle icons like Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart (as the Lovemongers) and Jimi Hendrix (who, by the way, died on this date in 1970). To top it all off, it contained two solo tracks from Paul Westerberg (shortly after the breakup of the Replacements), and one of the best Smashing Pumpkins songs ever, "Drown", which was not included on any Pumpkins …

Black Sheep with Lou Gramm

Before he attained major stardom as the lead singer of Foreigner, Lou Gramm -- who was then known as Lou Grammatico -- fronted a Rochester, NY band called Black Sheep. This quintet (not to be confused with a '90's hip-hop outfit with the same name) recorded two albums for Capitol Records, both released in 1975. The band was plagued by bad luck at that time, just when they seemed to be on the brink of success. After former Spooky Tooth guitarist Mick Jones heard Black Sheep's self-titled album, he invited Gramm to join his new band Trigger, which soon became Foreigner. Gramm did eventually collaborate again with two of his ex-bandmates. Black Sheep bassist Bruce Turgon and guitarist Don Mancuso both participated in Gramm's late-'80's solo albums. Turgon also played in Gramm's short-lived band Shadow King in 1991, and then joined Foreigner in 1992; Mancuso took part in Gramm's later solo touring.

Before the release of their first album, Black Sheep rele…

Jean Michel Jarre "Musique Pour Supermarché" (1983)

There are rare records, and then there are rare records, some of which have only ever had one legitimate physical copy made. One of those rare-as-it-gets recordings was a 1983 album called Musique Pour Supermarché, aka Music for Supermarkets, recorded by Jean Michel Jarre. The French electronic music composer (the son of famed film soundtrack composer Maurice Jarre, who was a pioneer in using electronic music in films) recorded the instrumental album near Paris during the Spring of '83, and then had only one LP copy pressed. On July 6th of that year, the sole copy was sold at an auction, where the master plates were publicly destroyed. It sold for 69,000 francs -- roughly equivalent to 9,000 U.S. dollars at the time. Jarre said that the point was to create "a single copy for a single buyer, like a painting with a single owner.” The inner sleeve artwork showed 11 photographs illustrating the story of the making of the record, while the 12th space was left blank for the buyer t…

Lana Del Rey under other names

The American art-pop singer Lana Del Rey (real name: Elizabeth Woolridge Grant) has fashioned a form of dream pop that has been described as “beach noir” and “Hollywood sadcore”, painting hazy pictures of a Southern California that is as seamy as it is steamy, backed by mood music that is sometimes orchestral, sometimes languid, always cinematic. She has also crafted an image of herself as a contemporary tragic icon, a sort of modern-day Marilyn Monroe, and uses symbols of Americana in her lyrics and visuals to add flavor to her often sordid tales of troubled young women who seek out relationships with unsavory men. As of this writing, the singer is showing signs of a stylistic shift towards more commercial terrain with her 2017 album Lust For Life, but I’ll leave it to others to discuss that. I’m here to talk about her rare self-titled digital album from 2010, which predated her official 2012 debut album Born To Die. This album, titled Lana Del Ray A.K.A. Lizzy Grant, was available d…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 32: Dead Weather "Live At The Mayan, Los Angeles"

The 32nd set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in June 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 32nd Vault package featured three items by the Dead Weather, the Goth-rock band consisting of Jack White on drums, Alison Mosshart (from the Kills) on lead vocals, Dean Fertita (from Queens Of The Stone Age) on guitar and keyboards, and Jack Lawrence (from the Raconteurs and the Greenhornes) on bass. The package contains a 2-LP live album recorded in 2009, a DVD documenting the same concert, and a 7-inch single containing two songs from the band’s 2015 album Dodge And Burn.

The live double-LP…

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 its first public signs of trouble after only one week.

This unlikely pair seemed like the least


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)

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)

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)

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

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)

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)

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…