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Cybernauts: when Def Leppard met The Spiders From Mars

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In 1997, two members of Def Leppard – vocalist Joe Elliott and guitarist Phil Collen – joined forces with two former members of David Bowie’s Spiders From Mars band – bassist Trevor Bolder and drummer Woody Woodmansey – to pay tribute to ex-Spiders guitarist Mick Ronson, who died from cancer in 1993. They did so by forming a Bowie cover band called Cybernauts, which also featured a keyboardist named Dick Decent. The band’s name presumably came from a quote by Mr. Decent, who had this to say about the first rehearsal:

"The instant that first guitar riff came sidewinding out of Mr. Collen's awesome slack, and the rhythm section to end all rock rhythm sections came in like a cybernaut from the next galaxy, any idea in my head other than the pure joy of playing with these guys was crashed into oblivion. Then big bad Joe opened up his formidable throat and the rest is history...".

The band went on a mini-tour performing five shows in the U.K., and their very rare CD was record…

Mumford & Sons “Delta Acoustic Sessions: Live From Electric Lady 26.07.18” (2019 Record Store Day EP)

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On Record Store Day 2019, Mumford & Sons issued a limited edition 10-inch vinyl picture disc, limited to 3,500 copies, titled Delta Acoustic Sessions: Live From Electric Lady 26.07.18. This disc contained live acoustic performances of four songs from the 2018 studio album Delta, recorded at Electric Lady Studio in New York on July 26, 2018.

The 2018 studio album Delta had a mellow ambient nature that was notably different from the English band’s early banjo-driven folk rock, which they have been moving away from during the last half-decade. The four acoustic live-in-the-studio tracks on the Delta Acoustic Sessions EP are similarly mellow with spare arrangements that sound earthier than the album’s synth ambience. A banjo is noticeable, but only part of the time, and it is never dominant; acoustic guitar and piano seem to play the bigger parts here. The resulting EP sits on a sort of middle ground between the band’s early work and their newer sound.

The picture disc is handsome, w…

Radiohead “Minidiscs [Hacked]” (2019)

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In June of 2019, Radiohead made available a mother lode of mostly unreleased recordings for only 18 days on Bandcamp, consisting of nearly 18 hours of private recordings from the OK Computer era. Recorded between 1995 and 1998, these recordings consisted of countless demos, outtakes, alternate versions, unreleased songs, live cuts, and other curiosities which were mostly related to the English alternative band’s 1997 masterwork. Why did they do this? On the band’s official website, guitarist/keyboardist Jonny Greenwood explained it like this:

“We got hacked last week – someone stole Thom (Yorke)’s minidisc archive from around the time of OK Computer, and reportedly demanded $150,000 on threat of releasing it. So instead of complaining – much – or ignoring it, we’re releasing all 18 hours on bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion. Just for the next 18 days. So for £18 you can find out if we should have paid that ransom. Never intended for public consumption (though some clips did reac…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 40: Raconteurs “Help Us Stranger” (2019)

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The 40th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in June of 2019. 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. The Vault service promises to deliver exclusive vinyl-only records (usually one full-length album and one 7” single) to its Platinum members every three months.

The 40th Vault package contained an exclusive vinyl edition of the Raconteurs’ 2019 studio album Help Us Stranger, and a 7-inch single containing early demo versions of two of the album’s songs.



The 180-gram Vault edition of Help Us Stranger was pressed in green vinyl with black and copper swirls, and was packaged with moving-image lenticular cover art. The album was the Raconteurs’ first studio album in eleven years, and is their third studio album to date. The album’s title continues the tradition…

Twenty years!

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Twenty years! Yes, it has been 20 years since my website Rarebird's Rock and Roll Rarity Reviews first went live on May 31, 1999. It was hard enough to believe when my site reached its ten-year mark. In my 10-year anniversary post in 2009, I said that I hoped to keep the site up and running for another ten years. Well, hooray for me! Mission accomplished.

Since their name resembles the Roman numeral XX, I will enlist the band called the xx to provide the background music for this post:



So, now that I have succeeded in my long-term goal of keeping my site online for two whole decades, the next question is: What now? I honestly don't know how much longer I will be keeping the site online, at least in its traditional form. As proud as I am of the site, it is getting more expensive to preserve its online presence. I recently renewed both the domain and the storage, so it will at least stay online until next Spring of 2020. But beyond that, the site's future is uncertain. Pa…

The Parliaments “Baby I Owe You Something Good” (2019 Record Store Day EP)

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For Record Store Day 2019, the Detroit soul label Revilot Records issued a 10-inch EP with six tracks from The Parliaments, the George Clinton-led ‘60’s doo wop quintet which later evolved into Clinton’s ‘70’s funk collectives known as Parliament and Funkadelic (among other variations). The EP, titled Baby I Owe You Something Good, was limited to 2,000 copies.

Side A contained three tracks taken from the group’s ‘60’s doo wop singles, all of which were later redone by Clinton’s ‘70’s variations of the Parliaments. These tracks are decidedly more straightforward and more innocent soul recordings than Clinton’s later psychedelic funk experiments, but they are good early displays of his unique talents.

“All Your Goodies Are Gone” was originally released as a single in 1967 (Revilot RV 211); it was later rerecorded by Parliament for their 1974 album Up For The Down Stroke. Although this earlier doo wop version is less stylized, it has the edge in terms of real emotion. It’s an excellen…

John Hiatt & Lilly Hiatt “All Kinds Of People” (b/w “You Must Go”) (2019 Record Store Day single)

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For Record Store Day 2019, John Hiatt (the 66-year-old veteran singer-songwriter from Indiana) and his daughter Lilly Hiatt (who is a 35-year-old alt-country recording artist) recorded a 7-inch split-single limited to 450 copies. On the A-side, John covered Lilly’s song “All Kinds Of People”, which originally appeared on her 2017 album Trinity Lane. On the B-side, Lilly covered her father’s song “You Must Go”, from his 1995 album Walk On.

When you hear the elder Hiatt sing his daughter’s song “All Kinds Of People”, it’s hard to believe it’s not his own composition. The heartbroken lyrics about losing a true lover who is bound for the ocean (sort of a first-person variation on the Looking Glass song “Brandy”) have an emotional depth and a sense of down-to-earth realism that seemingly run in the family. John’s gentle guitar-and-harmonica arrangement, in which he is accompanied only by drummer Kenneth Blevins, also makes the song sound very much like it is one of his own creations.

Li…

Swervedriver “Think I’m Gonna Feel Better / Reflections” (2019 Record Store Day single)

Swervedriver, the reunited English shoegaze band of the ‘90’s, released a 12-inch single on Record Store Day 2019. Pressed in the clearest and most transparent vinyl I’ve ever seen, this disc featured previously unreleased covers of two songs from 1967: Gene Clark’s “Think I’m Gonna Feel Better” and the Supremes hit “Reflections”. The single was limited to 1,500 copies.

Although this 45-rpm single is 12 inches wide, the two songs would easily fit on a normal 7-inch single, at least one that was pressed in plain black vinyl. I have not been able to find recording dates for the unearthed tracks, either in the packaging or online. But judging from the sound, they were more likely to have been recorded during Swervedriver’s original ‘90’s run than during more recent times.

“Think I’m Gonna Feel Better” was originally a song that Gene Clark recorded with the Gosdin Brothers in 1967, not to be confused with his ’65 Byrds classic “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better”. Clark’s original was a jan…