Grey Daze with Chester Bennington

Before the late Chester Bennington became the frontman for Linkin Park, he was the frontman for an unsigned Arizona-based grunge band called Grey Daze. In April 2020, an album titled Amends is set to be released, containing 11 songs from Grey Daze’s ‘90’s repertoire, using Bennington’s original recorded vocals but with the music rerecorded by surviving Grey Daze members Sean Dowdell (drums, backing vocals) and Mace Beyers (bass), and new guitarist Cristin Davis.

Grey Daze originally self-released two independent CD’s in the ‘90’s: Wake Me (1994) and …no sun today (1997). On both CD’s, Bennington co-wrote the lyrics with Dowdell. These two CD’s have long been unavailable, and have been much-bootlegged in the past two decades following the success of Linkin Park.

The 1994 CD Wake Me mostly has the type of Seattle-style grunge sound which was then fashionable, and is particularly reminiscent of Alice In Chains. The guitarist on this CD was Jason Barnes, and the bassist was Jonathon Kr…

Billie Eilish "Party Favor" (2018 Record Store Day single)

On Record Store Day 2018, Billie Eilish issued a 7-inch single, pressed in pink vinyl and limited to 2,000 copies, featuring an acoustic version of her song “Party Favor” on the A-side, and a similarly acoustic cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” on the B-side. The teenaged alternative pop artist often performs these two songs together live, presumably because cell phones figure prominently in the lyrics of both songs. Now that Eilish has become a chart-topping, Grammy-winning sensation, this limited-edition single has become quite pricey on the collector’s market.

The acoustic version of “Party Favor”, the original version of which appeared on Eilish’s 2017 EP dont smile at me, finds Eilish strumming her ukulele and singing without the studio effects, with mild musical accompaniment by her brother/producer Finneas O’Connell (who makes his own recordings under the name FINNEAS). This track presents a scaled-back variant of the EP’s Lorde-meets-Lana Del Rey aesthetic; Eilish sounds part…

The true tales of D.A. and DA!

I have long been an enthusiastic collector of rare recordings. Searching out a musical rarity has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing, although it can sometimes get frustrating when a song or record takes a long time to track down. But, so far, I can’t say it has ever taken me 37 years to track down an elusive song.

It did, however, take some record collectors that long to find a mysterious song from 1979. That song was titled “Ready ‘N’ Steady”, by an unknown recording artist called D.A. One person who tried for decades to find this song was music historian Joel Whitburn, who has written numerous books compiling chart data from Billboard magazine. This song showed up on the Billboard singles chart for 3 weeks in 1979, peaking at #102, meaning that it was “Bubbling Under The Hot 100” in official terms.

But there seemed to be no sign of this single’s actual existence on the planet. Whitburn and other collectors were unable to track down any copy of this record, even after the int…

The first Rush single from 1973

Neil Peart, the long-time drummer and lyricist of the Canadian rock band Rush, died in January 2020 after a long battle with brain cancer. Peart had announced his retirement due to health issues in late 2015, and Rush has since been declared defunct. Peart is widely regarded as one of rock’s greatest drummers, by his peers as well as his fans, and his lyrics had a literary intelligence that matched his musical virtuosity.

All of the official albums from Rush’s catalogue are currently available, but their very first single from 1973 has remained in obscurity. This rare single was recorded before Peart joined Rush in 1974 in time to record their second album. The band’s original drummer was John Rutsey, who rounded out the 1973 lineup with usual singer/bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson. Rutsey also played on Rush’s self-titled 1974 debut album before leaving the band due to health issues related to diabetes. Sadly, Rutsey died in 2008 from apparent diabetes complications.

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 42: The White Stripes XX (2019)

The 42nd set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in December 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 42nd Vault package celebrated the 20th anniversary of the self-titled 1999 debut album from The White Stripes, the blues-rock duo of Jack and Meg White. Formally known as The White Stripes XX, the set contained two 12-inch vinyl LP’s featuring previously unreleased bonus material related to that album, a DVD featuring two early live performances, and a picture book featuring photos of the now-defunct duo taken during the debut album’s time period. The White Stripes XX is packaged in a sleek,…

Cheap Trick "Are You Ready? LIVE 12/31/1979" (2019 Record Store Day Black Friday LP)

For Record Store Day Black Friday in 2019, Epic/Legacy issued a live double-LP by Cheap Trick, recorded on New Year’s Eve at the end of 1979. The album was titled Are You Ready? LIVE 12/31/1979. It was limited to 3,500 vinyl copies, which came with mp3 download codes.

This ‘70’s-closing concert took place at The Forum in Los Angeles, and was broadcast live by that city’s KLOS-FM radio station. Although the much-bootlegged concert was recorded on multi-track equipment, the first reel was lost, so the first four tracks on this LP set were sourced from the radio broadcast. The remaining tracks were given stereo mixes in 2003, and two of them (“Way Of The World” and “The House Is Rockin’”) were previously released as bonus tracks on the 2006 CD reissue of Dream Police. The other 17 tracks were not officially released previously.

This concert took place shortly after the release of the 1979 Dream Police album, and 8 of that album’s 9 songs were performed on this night. The usual quartet…

Alex Chilton "My Rival" (2019 Record Store Day Black Friday EP)

For Record Store Day Black Friday in 2019, Omnivore Recordings issued a 10-inch EP with five previously unreleased demo tracks recorded by Alex Chilton in 1975. This EP, titled My Rival, was limited to 1,500 vinyl copies. The EP will be made available digitally on December 6th.

What is the significance of these My Rival tracks? They were engineered by Chris Bell, who co-founded the legendary cult band Big Star with Chilton less than five years earlier. These sessions recorded at Ardent Studios are believed to be the last recorded collaborations between Chilton (who died in 2010) and Bell (who died in late 1978 at the age of 27). According to the interesting liner notes by Rich Tupica, these tracks were recorded within days of the session which produced Bell’s solo track “You And Your Sister”, on which Chilton sang the harmony vocal.

Chilton and Bell both suffered from clinical depression and substance abuse around the time of these recordings, and (not surprisingly) the EP is remin…

Gene Clark "Back Street Mirror" (2018 Record Store Day EP)

On Record Store Day 2018, a limited edition EP was issued containing six recently unearthed tracks by Gene Clark. This 12-inch, 45 rpm EP, titled Back Street Mirror, was pressed in 180g vinyl, and was limited to 1,500 numbered copies. As of this writing, 18 months after its RSD release, Back Street Mirror is still not available digitally.

The six tracks on the Back Street Mirror EP were Clark compositions recorded before the 1967 release of Gene Clark with the Gosdin Brothers, the short but solid debut solo album from the late co-founding member of the Byrds.

The three tracks on the first side of the EP were recorded during the Russell-Masekela Sessions in January 1967, so called because they were arranged by Leon Russell and South African jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The title track was intended to be the A-side of a non-album single, but it was rejected by Columbia, and instead became the basis for a 1967 recording by actor David Hemmings. Hemmings’ version used the same recorde…