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(American) Spring (1972)

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A good find for Beach Boys devotees and collectors of girl group recordings is the obscure self-titled album by the female pop duo Spring from 1972. A mostly overlooked side note in the history of the Beach Boys, Spring consisted of sisters Diane Rovell and Marilyn Rovell Wilson – the latter of whom was then married to Brian Wilson. The sisters had previously been two-thirds of a girl group called the Honeys, who often sang background vocals on Beach Boys recordings. During the ‘60’s, the Honeys released five singles, all of which were produced, arranged, and/or written by Brian Wilson.

Spring (who were known as American Spring outside of the U.S. to avoid confusion with British and Canadian bands of the same name) recorded only one full-length album in 1972. Brian Wilson was the album’s executive producer, and was assisted in production by David Sandler and Stephen Desper. Brian also provided harmony and backing vocals (as did Mike Love and Carl Wilson), and he played piano, organ …

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 35: Jack White “Boarding House Reach” (2018)

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The 35th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in March of 2018. 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 35th Vault package consisted of a limited edition vinyl LP variant of Jack White’s third solo album, Boarding House Reach, and a 7-inch single with early demos of two of the album’s tracks. The 180-gram LP was pressed in blue-and-black-swirled vinyl, and comes with an exclusive insert containing the lyrics, as well as three exclusive David Swanson photographs from the album’s recording sessions. The Vault-only cover art depicts White’s face in futuristic fashion, printed on holographic foil pap…

Sister Irene O'Connor "Fire Of God's Love" (1973)

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In the Trouser Press Record Guide, Brad Reno wrote:

"Thumb through the record stacks at any thrift store or flea market and you'll find evidence of a strange, unheralded, otherworldly indie music scene which long predates the current one, reaching back to the dawn of recorded music. Multitudes of self-released or micro-label albums exist of fervent, sometimes downright bizarre, evangelical Christian music, released by a cast of characters ranging from snakehandling hillbillies, housewives, pre-teen evangelists, preaching hand-puppets and tiny church choirs who scraped up the money to record and release their sacred praise. Almost all of it is unpolished and primitive, but some of it is frightening, some of it amazing."

That's a good observation of the indie Christian music scene before it became more polished and less primitive in the 1990’s, but evangelicals were not the only types of Christians who recorded quirky independent religious albums during earlier decades…

The Cranberries early demo EP's

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Another month, another rock star gone too soon: Dolores O'Riordan, the singer and principal creative force for the Irish band Cranberries, died suddenly this past week at the age of 46. The Cranberries achieved major global success during the alternative rock boom of the '90's. Distinguished by O'Riordan's captivating voice, the band has sold over 40 million records worldwide over the course of their career. The band's official debut was the 1993 album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We?, but the band was originally formed in 1989 in Limerick, under the name The Cranberry Saw Us. (Cranberry sauce, get it?). Before their debut album, the band recorded four demo EP's, which were sold in Ireland in limited numbers in 1990 and 1991. The first three, billed to The Cranberry Saw Us, were only distributed as cassettes; the fourth, Uncertain, was distributed on vinyl and on CD, and was the first recording billed to the shortened Cranberries name.

In …

Smithereens rarities

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It was saddening to hear of the passing of Pat DiNizio, the lead singer of the Smithereens, last month at the age of 62. DiNizio and his New Jersey power pop band were masters at mixing hard-rock toughness with pop-hook tunefulness. The band's studio output had been sporadic since the mid-'90's, but most of their studio releases are still in print. However, their two early EP's from the early '80's are currently unavailable, as is a 1995 rarities compilation which has since become a rarity in itself.

Six years before the release of their first full-length album in 1986, the Smithereens self-released a four-song EP in 1980 titled Girls About Town. This 7-inch EP contained four songs with the word "girl" or "girls" in their titles, highlighted by a swell cover of the Beach Boys' "Girl Don't Tell Me". DiNizio – who wrote the EP’s other three tracks – used to describe the Smithereens sound as "AC/DC meets the Beatles&quo…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 34: White Stripes Live In Detroit 1999 – 2000 - 2001

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The 34th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in December 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 34th Vault package consisted of a 3-LP set collecting three early live shows from the White Stripes, performed by the duo of Jack and Meg White in the Detroit area during the years 1999, 2000, and 2001. There was no 7-inch single in this package. Each 180-gram LP came with a die-cut outer sleeve and a colored inner sleeve, and all three LP’s were housed in a red slipcase (pictured below). Logically enough, the three discs demonstrate a progression in the duo’s performing over that time perio…

The Greedies "A Merry Jingle" (1979)

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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

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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…