David Lee Roth's DLR Band (1998)

It was good to see Van Halen reunite with their original frontman David Lee Roth while Eddie Van Halen was still alive, because it was a reunion that I once thought would never happen . Why? Because a failed attempt was made at such a reunion back in 1996. Roth briefly rejoined the band at that point, recording two new VH studio tracks for the compilation album Best Of – Volume 1 , and appearing on camera with the rest of the band on MTV . But the sham reunion ran aground after Roth and Eddie Van Halen clashed, and the VH frontman slot was then ephemerally held by former Extreme singer Gary Cherone – with whom the band recorded the ill-fated Van Halen III album in 1998. For his part, Roth went ahead and recorded his own surprisingly hard-rocking album with an outfit called the DLR Band, or David Lee Roth Band. This album was distributed on Roth's own indie label called Wawazat!!. The self-titled DLR Band CD sounded quite similar to early Van Halen, but was rawer in nature. One of

Brian May & Friends "Star Fleet Project" (1983 mini-LP)

Brian May & Friends were a one-off supergroup which paired the Queen guitarist with the late Edward Van Halen. The other “friends” in the band were drummer Alan Gratzer of REO Speedwagon, bassist Phil Chen (who had played with Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck), and session keyboardist Fred Mandel (who had recently worked with Queen and Alice Cooper). The group’s 1983 album Star Fleet Project was a spontaneous work completed in about two days, inspired by the music score for a science fiction television series. The three-song mini-album has long been out of print, but has attracted new attention since the death of Eddie Van Halen, and Brian May has discussed the possibility of an eventual reissue. Star Fleet was the British title of the early-‘80’s animated marionette sci-fi series which originated in Japan as X Bomber . The end-credits theme music for the show’s U.K. version was composed by British keyboardist Paul Bliss, who played with later incarnations of the Moody Blues and the

Norah Jones "Playdate" (2020 Record Store Day Black Friday EP)

For Record Store Day Black Friday in 2020, jazz-pop singer/pianist Norah Jones issued a 7-song, 12-inch vinyl EP titled Playdate , containing songs recorded in 2019 and 2020 which were otherwise unavailable on vinyl. The EP was limited to 2,000 copies. According to the Record Store Day website, Playdate collected B-sides and bonus tracks from Jones’ 2020 studio album Pick Me Up Off The Floor . In truth, only three of the tracks actually seem to fit this description: “Tryin’ To Keep It Together” and “Street Stranger” were bonus tracks on Target stores’ exclusive CD version of the album (as well as some European and Japanese editions), while the former track and “I’ll Be Gone” (the latter a smooth soul duet with r&b veteran Mavis Staples) were both bonus tracks on the digital Deluxe Edition of the album. The other four tracks were issued on non-album digital singles the previous year, those tracks being two collaborations with Brazilian folk-rocker Rodrigo Amarante and two other t

Juliana Hatfield "Christmas Cactus" (2020 Record Store Day Black Friday single)

For Record Store Day Black Friday in 2020, Juliana Hatfield issued an exclusive 7-inch single titled “Christmas Cactus”. The single was limited to 1,500 copies, and was pressed in magenta-colored vinyl. The single’s two sides had more of a flower-related theme than one related to the holidays. The B-side track was titled “Red Poinsettia”, and the disc’s center sticker denotes the sides with plant graphics instead of song titles. Hatfield is a ‘90’s alternative-rock veteran who has been making girlish-voiced, guitar-fuzzed alt-pop since before Beabadoobee was born. Hatfield’s lyrics have often described disappointment and failed romances, and these two tracks certainly uphold those lyrical traditions. The A-side, “Christmas Cactus”, is a melancholy ballad which seemingly uses dissatisfaction with the growth of a plant as a metaphor for a discontented life. The equally downcast B-side, “Red Poinsettia”, only suggests the holiday season by its title flower imagery; otherwise, the song d

Big Star "Jesus Christ" EP (2015 Record Store Day Black Friday release)

For Record Store Day Black Friday in 2015, Omnivore Recordings issued a limited edition 10-inch Big Star EP titled Jesus Christ . This EP heralded the 2016 release of the 3-CD set Complete Third , which compiled the complete known recordings from the sessions of the third and final Big Star album Third (which was alternately known as Sister Lovers , and was essentially an Alex Chilton solo album). The 10-inch Jesus Christ EP was pressed in blue translucent vinyl, and its Three Wise Men cover art was reproduced from a 1973 Big Star promo poster. The EP is a good holiday-themed collectible for fans of the early-'70's power pop band. The titular track from the Third album leads off the EP, without the short “Mañana” instrumental which served as its intro on the album. The song is a jubilant jangle-pop tune about the birth of Jesus, using echo-chamber production and baroque horns and drums to add a feeling from another time and place. The EP's second track is an acoustic d

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 45: Johnny Cash “A Night To Remember” (2020)

The 45th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in October of 2020. 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 members every three months. The 45th Vault package contained a previously unreleased live double-LP by the late country legend Johnny Cash, along with a companion DVD containing video footage of much of the same concert, and a 7-inch single featuring two new recordings by modern artists based on Cash’s writings. The live Johnny Cash album A Night To Remember was recorded on May 5, 1973 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Cash’s show was the final concert in a week-long event called A Week To Remember, which was hosted by Clive Dav

The Gun Club “Live In London 1983” (2020 Record Store Day LP)

For Record Store Day 2020, a live LP was released from The Gun Club, the long-defunct American punk rock band which was led by the late, enigmatic Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Live In London 1983 was limited to 1,700 copies, and was released on September 26, 2020, the second of three RSD “drop dates” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Live In London 1983 was recorded at the Lyceum at a particularly odd time in the Gun Club’s history. This show was performed by an almost entirely different lineup than the one which had previously played on the band’s first two studio albums, which are regarded as being among the first recordings to incorporate blues and country elements into punk rock. Along with singer/guitarist Pierce – who was the only constant member – this lineup included bassist Patricia Morrison (later of The Damned and Sisters Of Mercy), guitarist Jim Duckworth (from Tav Falco’s Panther Burns), and drummer Dee Pop (from Bush Tetras). This is almost the same lineup (excluding Mor

And Also The Trees - 2020 Record Store Day reissue of 1984 debut album

For Record Store Day 2020, the self-titled 1984 debut album by the British goth-rock band called And Also The Trees was released in America for the first time, as an expanded limited-edition double-LP. The two discs were pressed in green and black splattered vinyl, and the set was limited to 2,000 copies. It was released on August 29th of 2020, the first of three unusual RSD “drop” dates resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This album will be of interest to fans of The Cure, because it was produced by original Cure percussionist Laurence “Lol” Tolhurst, who gave the debut a more Cure-like aura than most of the Trees’ later work – none of which, to the best of my knowledge, has ever been released in the U.S. in non-digital formats. Most recordings by And Also The Trees – who are still active to this day – may be too esoteric for American tastes, and possibly for others as well. After all, this band’s sound was once described by the late English DJ John Peel as “too English for the En