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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…

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

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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

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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!

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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…