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…

The Clouds "Tranquil" (1987)

“Twee pop” is a subgenre of indie pop which typically affects an exaggerated degree of sweetness and innocence, usually in lo-fi fashion. Often marked by jangly guitar sounds and vocals that are either childishly high-pitched or nasal to the point of being foghorn-like, twee pop usually explores the sadness of young unrequited love. The early twee pop scene of the late-‘80’s and early-‘90’s primarily originated in the post-Smiths U.K. The 1986 cassette titled C86, a various-artists indie-pop compilation issued in the U.K. by NME magazine, is widely regarded as twee pop’s defining starting point.

Some of the best-known artists who have worn the twee pop tag – whether they wanted to or not – have hailed from Scotland, including Belle & Sebastian, the Pastels, and Camera Obscura. (Some would also classify Teenage Fanclub as a twee pop band, although I would not). There was once a band called the Clouds who resided in that same country during the C86 era, but they released only one …

Pearl Jam "MTV Unplugged (3/16/92)" (2019 Record Store Day Black Friday LP)

Pearl Jam were the official Ambassadors of Record Store Day in 2019, and for the other Record Store Day the same year – namely Black Friday – the Seattle grunge band is issuing the LP MTV Unplugged, featuring the 7-song acoustic set which the band performed in March 1992 for that program. This will be the first time this performance will be available on vinyl, and it will be limited to 13,000 copies (which is actually a surprisingly high number for a Record Store Day exclusive print run).

Six of the seven songs were drawn from the band’s 1991 mega-platinum debut album Ten, which was still ascending toward the peak of its popularity at the time of the show’s taping. The other song, “State Of Love And Trust”, turned up later in 1992 on the Singles movie soundtrack. A DVD of the Unplugged show was previously included as a bonus item in the 2009 Deluxe Edition of Ten (Legacy 88697398492).

The opening song “Oceans” (which was excluded from the original TV broadcast) lends itself well to…

Robert Hunter “Jack O’ Roses” (1980)

Robert Hunter, the songwriter best known as the lyricist for the Grateful Dead, passed away in September 2019 at the age of 78. Hunter, who was a longtime friend of the Dead’s Jerry Garcia, never became a member of the San Francisco jam band, understandably not wanting to be a constant part of their touring rock band lifestyle. However, Hunter wrote the lyrics for most of the Dead’s well-known songs. Hunter was deservedly inducted with the band into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994, and with Garcia into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2015.

Although Hunter saw himself more as a writer than as a musician, he released 11 albums of his own between 1974 and 1993. Among these were a compilation album (Promontory Rider), two live albums (Live 85 and A Box Of Rain), and two spoken word poetry albums, one of which (Flight Of The Marie Helena) featured musical accompaniment while the other (Sentinel) did not.

As of this writing, all of Hunter’s albums have been out of print for some t…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 41: The Go “Whatcha Doin’ 20th Anniversary Remix Redux” (2019)

The 41st set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in September 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 41st Vault package was centered on the 1999 debut album from The Go, the Detroit-based indie rock band which then included Jack White in its lineup. Formally known as Whatcha Doin’ 20th Anniversary Remix Redux, the set contained a 12-inch vinyl LP featuring a newly remastered version of The Go’s Whatcha Doin’ album, on which White played lead guitar. Also, it contained another 12-inch vinyl LP with previously unreleased home-recorded demos of the album tracks. The package also contained a 7…

Cybernauts: when Def Leppard met The Spiders From Mars

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…