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Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 36: Captain Beefheart “Trout Mask Replica" (2018 reissue)

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The 36th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service will be mailed out to the members sometime in June of 2018. 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 (one full-length album and one 7” single) to its platinum members every three months.

The thirty-sixth Vault package contains a vinyl reissue of Captain Beefheart’s 1969 double-LP Trout Mask Replica, as well as a reissue of that album's only 7-inch single, “Pachuco Cadaver”. The double-LP is pressed in “180-gram fruitcake fish-scale colored vinyl”, and was remastered from safety masters stored for decades in producer Frank Zappa's family vault. The single is pressed in white vinyl. I chose to skip this quarter’s Vault package, as I do not feel a need to own a deluxe viny…

The Cure “Torn Down: Mixed Up Extras 2018”

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For Record Store Day 2018, The Cure issued a 2-LP picture disc titled Torn Down: Mixed Up Extras 2018. Limited to 7,750 copies worldwide, this album is a companion piece to the 1990 remix album Mixed Up (which received its own remastered vinyl reissue for that same Record Store Day). Where Mixed Up generally featured remixes of the Cure’s better-known songs, Torn Down consists of new 2018 remixes of 16 of the goth-rock band’s lesser-known tracks. One song was selected for remixing from each of the Cure’s studio albums released between 1979 and 2008, along with “Never Enough” from Mixed Up and “Cut Here” from the 2001 Greatest Hits album. Torn Down will be available on regular black vinyl on June 15th, and the 16 tracks will make up the third disc of the upcoming 3-CD reissue of Mixed Up, also coming June 15th.

The 16 remixes on Torn Down essentially give modern facelifts to decades-old tracks, putting them more in line with contemporary alternative music. A noticeable trend here is …

Awolnation "Live In Vienna" (2018 Record Store Day single)

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For Record Store Day 2018, the L.A. alternative rock band Awolnation released a 7-inch vinyl single titled Live In Vienna. Limited to 1,000 copies, Live In Vienna featured two songs recorded live at Supersense in Austria. What is Supersense, you ask? It is a venue owned by an analog recording enthusiast by the name of Florian “Doc” Kaps. The single’s sleeve describes it this way:

"Supersense in Vienna is a hidden gem in the heart of Europe, which remains one of the only places in the world to offer this unique style of recording. At Supersense artists engage in an antiquated, authentic and rare method of recording a unique, live performance in an intimate environment. The sound immortalized on vinyl.”

It sounds like an intriguing place, much like a European variation of Jack White’s Third Man Records Blue Room. The two Awolnation performances included on this single are of the encouraging “Passion” from their 2018 album Here Come The Runts, and the darker “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)…

Def Leppard "Live At Abbey Road Studios" (2018 Record Store Day EP)

On Record Store Day 2018, the British pop-metal band Def Leppard released the 3-song, 45-rpm, 12-inch vinyl EP Live At Abbey Road Studios. Limited to 4,000 copies, the EP contained live-in-the-studio re-recordings of three songs from the band’s catalogue, recorded in May of 2008 at the world-famous studio in London and remixed in December 2017 at singer Joe Elliott’s Joe’s Garage studio in Dublin. These renditions are basically faithful to their original recordings, with less bombast and a bit more directness.

The first track, “C’mon C’mon”, is a selection from the then-new album Songs From The Sparkle Lounge. This more-organic version of the decent rocker is arguably no better or worse than the album version. But this version of “Rock On” – the David Essex song that the band had covered on their 2006 album Yeah! – is preferable to the version on that album, as it is a shade less noisy – although it is still a far cry from the minimalist reggae arrangement of Essex’s 1973 original. …

Belly "Feel" (2018 Record Store Day EP)

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For Record Store Day 2018, the reunited ‘90’s alt-pop band Belly – led by ex-Throwing Muses singer/guitarist Tanya Donelly – released a 10-inch 45-rpm EP titled Feel. Limited to 2,000 copies and pressed in blue “splatter-colored” vinyl, this EP heralds the May 4th release of Dove, which is Belly’s first new album in 23 years. The band has stated that this new album is a more collaborative effort than their earlier works, on which Donelly did most of the songwriting; the songwriting is now collectively credited to the band. Guitarist Tom Gorman produced, with assistance by Paul Q. Kolderie in recording and mixing.

The two tracks on the first side of the Feel EP are both songs from the Dove album. “Army Of Clay” and especially “Human Child” are quite good, suggesting that Dove will lie in the same basic vein as the band’s 1993 debut album Star. These two songs have the same basic guitar-based dream-pop sound, and Donelly’s voice still has the same off-kilter feminine appeal as it did …

(American) Spring (1972)

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A good find for Beach Boys devotees and collectors of girl group recordings is the obscure self-titled album by the female pop duo Spring from 1972. A mostly overlooked side note in the history of the Beach Boys, Spring consisted of sisters Diane Rovell and Marilyn Rovell Wilson – the latter of whom was then married to Brian Wilson. The sisters had previously been two-thirds of a girl group called the Honeys, who often sang background vocals on Beach Boys recordings. During the ‘60’s, the Honeys released five singles, all of which were produced, arranged, and/or written by Brian Wilson.

Spring (who were known as American Spring outside of the U.S. to avoid confusion with British and Canadian bands of the same name) recorded only one full-length album in 1972. Brian Wilson was the album’s executive producer, and was assisted in production by David Sandler and Stephen Desper. Brian also provided harmony and backing vocals (as did Mike Love and Carl Wilson), and he played piano, organ a…

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 35: Jack White “Boarding House Reach” (2018)

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The 35th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in March of 2018. 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 35th Vault package consisted of a limited edition vinyl LP variant of Jack White’s third solo album, Boarding House Reach, and a 7-inch single with early demos of two of the album’s tracks. The 180-gram LP was pressed in blue-and-black-swirled vinyl, and comes with an exclusive insert containing the lyrics, as well as three exclusive David Swanson photographs from the album’s recording sessions. The Vault-only cover art depicts White’s face in futuristic fashion, printed on holographic foil pap…

Sister Irene O'Connor "Fire Of God's Love" (1973)

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In the Trouser Press Record Guide, Brad Reno wrote:

"Thumb through the record stacks at any thrift store or flea market and you'll find evidence of a strange, unheralded, otherworldly indie music scene which long predates the current one, reaching back to the dawn of recorded music. Multitudes of self-released or micro-label albums exist of fervent, sometimes downright bizarre, evangelical Christian music, released by a cast of characters ranging from snakehandling hillbillies, housewives, pre-teen evangelists, preaching hand-puppets and tiny church choirs who scraped up the money to record and release their sacred praise. Almost all of it is unpolished and primitive, but some of it is frightening, some of it amazing."

That's a good observation of the indie Christian music scene before it became more polished and less primitive in the 1990’s, but evangelicals were not the only types of Christians who recorded quirky independent religious albums during earlier decades…

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…