Showing posts from 2023

Elmo & Patsy "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" - original 1979 single version

Yes, it's that time of year again. It's not quite Thanksgiving yet, but certain radio stations have already begun packing their playlists with Christmas music -- in some cases playing it round-the-clock -- and in-store broadcasting networks are also constantly playing holiday tunes to provide a real-life soundtrack for customers' Christmas shopping activities. One song you have probably been hearing is the comedy novelty song charmingly titled "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer", by Elmo & Patsy. The version of the song that people have been typically hearing for the last 40 Christmases or so is the re-recorded version from 1982. Many people have understandably forgotten the original recording of the song from 1979, which was released on an independent label based in Tennessee. In this earlier version, the vocal tone was much more understated, and the steel guitar sounded a bit more somber, making the song come across like a more straight-faced black comedy.

The Doors "Live In Bakersfield" (2023 Record Store Day Black Friday LP)

For Record Store Day Black Friday in 2023, Rhino Records is issuing a previously unreleased live album from The Doors, in both CD and LP formats. Live In Bakersfield will be limited to 7,500 vinyl double-LP's, and 12,500 double-CD's. The album was recorded on August 21, 1970 at the 3,000-seat Bakersfield Civic Auditorium in California. The documented concert was one of the last ones performed on the band's 1970 Roadhouse Blues Tour, on which they promoted their album Morrison Hotel . Notably, it took place during the same month in which Jim Morrison went on trial in Miami, FL for allegedly exposing himself on stage. This Bakersfield, CA concert was recorded by road manager Vince Treanor, using a stereo tape recorder with a pair of microphones placed on different sides of the stage. Bootlegs of the concert have circulated, with sound that is usually fairly clear but sometimes flat. It will be interesting to hear how the sound quality has been enhanced for this official re

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 56: Miles Davis "Fearless" (2023)

The 56th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in July of 2023. 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 56th Vault package featured a 3-LP live album by the late jazz legend Miles Davis, recorded at the Fillmore East in 1970, as well as a 7-inch single containing renditions of three of Davis' works by contemporary Austrian jazz artist Muriel Grossmann. As bonus items, this package contained an embroidered patch and a bumper sticker, the latter of which reads: "Miles Davis changed the course of music five or six times. What have you done...?" The 3-LP set Fearless: March 7, 1970 - Live At The Fillm

New Distractions "Time And Time Again" EP (2023)

The Distractions were a new wave band from Manchester, England who recorded only one full-length album -- 1980's Nobody's Perfect -- during their original existence. The band folded in 1981 after being dropped by Island Records in favor of U2. But two of its founding members, singer Mike Finney and guitarist Steve Perrin, would occasionally perform and eventually record with different lineups of the Distractions. Surprisingly, the Distractions began to issue new recordings in the 2010's, long after the unjustly overlooked band seemed destined to be forgotten forever. After two EP's were released in 2010 (one of which, Black Velvet , had been recorded in 1995), Finney and Perrin went on to record two full-length Distractions albums: The End Of The Pier (2012) and Kindly Leave The Stage (2017), both of which showed that the former new wavers had mellowed with age, and apparently felt no need to aim for commercial success by that time in their lives. Finney and Perri

INXS "Shabooh Shoobah Rarities" (2023 Record Store Day Black Friday LP)

For Record Store Day Black Friday in 2023, Rhino Records is issuing a limited edition LP of INXS rarities, related to the Australian band's 1982 album Shabooh Shoobah , which was their first album released in the United States. The Shabooh Shoobah Rarities LP is pressed in colored vinyl and will be limited to 3,500 copies. Shabooh Shoobah helped INXS achieve a strong breakthrough in the U.S. and elsewhere, as it corrected the shortcomings of the band's two earlier dance-rock albums which were released overseas. Still, the related rarities collected on this Record Store Day LP will mostly only be of interest to diehard fans. All of the eleven tracks were released digitally last year as part of a 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Shabooh Shoobah . Four of the tracks are obscure B-sides which I have previously covered in an earlier blog post and YouTube playlist . These tracks tend to be unlike most INXS recordings. This is especially true of two tracks which appeared as

Farewell to Netflix's DVD-by-mail service

It is the end of (another) era. After 25 years, Netflix has mailed out DVD movie rentals for the final time on September 29, 2023. Netflix began their service of renting DVD's by postal mail in March of 1998. The company says that Beetlejuice was the first DVD title rented through the service, at a time when DVD was a new medium, and only about 300 DVD titles were available. The company has posted a video on YouTube bidding farewell to their DVD-by-mail service, also known as As depicted in the video, the company's DVD service began way back in the days of dial-up internet. My personal Netflix experience began in 2005, when I signed up for the service after a long-running brick-and-mortar video store in my city finally closed down. When that store ceased to exist, and I no longer had access to its reliably large selection of hard-to-find video titles, I did not think I would find a good replacement for it, since a brick-and-mortar video store of the same caliber

Haircut One Hundred "Paint And Paint" (1984)

Haircut One Hundred were a fairly short-lived English band from the early-'80's new wave era. The sextet's 1982 album Pelican West -- their only album released in the U.S. -- spawned two American radio hits in "Love Plus One" and "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)", which were infectiously droll ska-influenced pop numbers with irresistable hooks and horns. "Fantastic Day" (a U.K. Top 10 single) and "Calling Captain Autumn" are almost as good, but most of the other songs on Pelican West are less catchy and memorable, especially when they venture into funk territory (where "Love's Got Me In Triangles" plods). Although it falls short of essential new-wave classic status, the album is still a pleasant happy-go-lucky pop offering, particularly well-suited for late-summertime listening. In any case, Haircut One Hundred have reunited (not for the first time) as of 2023, with a lineup featuring four of the six members who pl

Detroit with Mitch Ryder "Detroit" (1971)

The city of Detroit, Michigan has spawned many a rock legend since the 1960's. Over the last six decades, the Motor City has provided the world with a wild managerie of colorful characters, creative risk-takers, and gritty garage rockers -- some of whom (like Bob Seger and Jack White) evolved into musical refinement and commercial success, while others (like the Stooges and the MC5) are legendary for having been too wild for the mainstream. The man who first put Detroit on the rock and roll map and paved the way for later Motor City rockers was Mitch Ryder (who was born as William Sherille Levise, Jr. in 1945). Influenced by the city's Motown soul scene, Ryder added his own high-energy rock and roll intensity to his brand of blue-eyed soul. With his '60's backing band known as the Detroit Wheels, Ryder scored three Top 10 singles between 1965 and 1967, the best-remembered one being "Devil With A Blue Dress On" from 1966. Ryder never matched that success after

Last Exit...with Sting

The three members of The Police seemed like an unlikely trio to form a reggae-influenced new wave band, when you consider the previous work that each of them had done. Guitarist Andy Summers had a career dating back to the '60's, when he played with r&b outfits (such as Zoot Money's Big Roll Band) and psychedelic bands (such as Dantalian's Chariot). Drummer Stewart Copeland had previously played on two albums with progressive rockers Curved Air. And what about Sting? The singer and bassist, who was born Gordon Sumner in Wallsend, England, had previously been a jazz musician who played with three bands who recorded for the U.K. Wudwink label. In 1972, Sumner played bass on a mostly instrumental album with a British jazz collective called Newcastle Big Band, as well as on a single with a group called the Phoenix Jazzmen (who were fronted by a singer and trumpeter named Ronnie Young). After leaving those relatively old-fashioned jazz bands behind, Sumner then co-fo

Nico "Live At The Library Theatre '80" (2023 Record Store Day LP)

For Record Store Day 2023, a limited edition LP was issued featuring a 1980 live recording by Nico, the late German chanteuse who was best known for singing on the first Velvet Underground album in 1967. Live At The Library Theatre '80 was limited to 2,000 copies, and pressed in translucent light-blue vinyl. The LP documents a concert performed by Nico (aka Christa Päffgen) in the small theatre beneath the Manchester Library in England. The sound is very understated, suitably scaled for such a tiny venue, as Nico sings in her eerie, unmelodic voice accompanied mostly by low-volume harmonium. Notably, the recording quality is remarkably clear, in contrast to two other recent Record Store Day live Nico releases . Besides renditions of two of the Velvet Underground songs she was known for (an acappella "All Tomorrows Parties" and a cocktail lounge piano version of "Femme Fatale"), the set list is otherwise drawn from Nico's solo albums from many years earlie

Ivy "Apartment Life Demos" (2023 Record Store Day LP)

For Record Store Day 2023, an alternate version of Ivy's 1997 album Apartment Life was issued, limited to 2,500 LP copies and pressed in very translucent "Coke Bottle Clear" vinyl. Apartment Life Demos contained the track-for-track demo recordings of the album's 13 songs, including the Japanese-only bonus track "Sleeping Late" (which is also included on the recent 25th Anniversary Edition issued by Bar/None Records), with inner-sleeve liner notes by Andy Chase which describe each song's creative development. Ivy was an alternative pop trio based in New York, consisting of the late Adam Schlesinger (also of Fountains Of Wayne and Tinted Windows), fellow multi-instrumentalist Adam Chase, and French-born singer Dominique Durand. Ivy received critical acclaim for the six albums they recorded between 1995 and 2011, but met with little commercial success. To wit: Apartment Life was their second full-length album overall, but was the only one released on A

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 55: White Stripes “Elephant XX” (2023)

The 55th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in April of 2023. 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 55th Vault package featured a 20th anniversary edition of the White Stripes’ Elephant album from 2003, consisting of two LP’s with new mono mixes of the album's 14 tracks, as well as a 7-inch single containing demo versions of two of the songs, a DVD featuring bonus video material, and a picture book full of related visual memorabilia. The 2003 Elephant album was a major breakthrough on all fronts for the Detroit-based indie-rock duo, charting in the Top 10 in the U.S. and several other countries, and go

"Rare Birds - 'A Flock Of Seagulls' B-Sides, Edits and Alternate Mixes" (2023 Record Store Day LP)

For Record Store Day 2023, the BMG label is issuing a B-sides and rarities compilation LP from A Flock Of Seagulls, in a limited edition of 1,025 copies. Rare Birds - 'A Flock Of Seagulls' B-Sides, Edits and Alternate Mixes will be pressed on transparent vinyl, with a reworking of the original cover art from the English new wave band's self-titled 1982 debut album A Flock Of Seagulls , one of the true landmark recordings of the early-'80's new wave genre. The tracks on this LP are not as "rare" now as they were before 2023, because all twelve of the tracks were reissued on the 2023 U.K. Deluxe Edition of the debut album, which is available digitally. To be exact, the first 12 tracks on the second CD of the Deluxe Edition are the ones included on this limited edition vinyl release. The LP mainly consists of B-sides and single edits from the singles which were released to promote the debut album, as well as the band's non-album debut single "(I

Rossington Collins Band "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere" (1980)

Earlier this month, the world lost the last surviving member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Gary Rossington, the man who played the slide guitar on "Free Bird" and co-wrote "Sweet Home Alabama", died at the age of 71 on March 5, 2023. Rossington survived the tragic 1977 plane crash that killed band members Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines, as well as backup singer Cassie Gaines (Steve Gaines’ sister) and a road manager, just three days after the release of the album Street Survivors . Rossington suffered from many health troubles in the 45 years in between, but he was the one constant member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, having rejoined the newer version of the band which formed in 1987, and participating in every subsequent lineup. The only time Rossington was not a member of Skynyrd was during the time when there was no Skynyrd. During the time between the band's 1977 breakup and 1987 reformation, Rossington co-founded the Rossington Collins Band with his fellow surviving Skynyrd

About that unreleased Vai / Ozzy album...

Well...Steve Vai inadvertently caused a bit of a hullabaloo in heavy metal circles this past week. In an interview published by Eonmusic in the U.K., Vai discussed his newly released Vai/Gash album, a previously unreleased collaboration with the late Johnny ‘Gash’ Sombrotto recorded in the early 1990's. Vai happened to mention that he also recorded another unreleased collaborative album in the '90's -- with none other than Ozzy Osbourne. Wait... what?!? Here is what Vai told Eonmusic about this: "I'm sitting on a whole Ozzy record, and it's like the Gash record - not 'like' the Gash record - but it's a project that I recorded that's sitting on the shelf. I don't have any control over it or rights to it, obviously, but we did record some pretty good stuff. The interesting thing about that stuff we recorded from a guitar perspective is all of my rhythm guitar parts, I use an octave divider [guitar effect], and that record doesn't

The Black Keys "Live at Beachland Tavern March 31, 2002" (2022)

For Record Store Day 2023, the Black Keys will issue a limited edition vinyl EP documenting their first concert from 2002. Live at Beachland Tavern March 31, 2002 will be limited to 5,000 copies, and pressed on tangerine-colored vinyl. The EP was previously available as an exclusive item from the duo's webstore in November 2022, and was limited to 1,500 black vinyl copies. This record captures the very first live performance by the duo of Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums), which took place in Cleveland, Ohio two months before the release of their indie debut album The Big Come Up . This set does not exactly have the same type of dirty blues sound of that basement-recorded debut album. The venue may have been small, but the Akron-based duo sounded very much above ground. If you're expecting a White Stripes-like garage-rock sound, you may be surprised by the relative sophistication of the short set, which features disciplined playing that is not drench

Jerry Blavat Presents Guess What? (1966)

Jerry Blavat, the legendary disc jockey known by such nicknames as "The Geator with the Heater" and "The Boss with the Hot Sauce", died at age 82 on January 20, 2023. Blavat was regarded as one of the early rock and roll DJ's, and is often credited with (blamed for?) the creation of the "oldies" radio format. Blavat first gained fame in the 1950's as a teenage dancer on (American) Bandstand , during the TV show's early, pre-Dick Clark days when it was based in Blavat's hometown of Philadelphia. Blavat later hosted his own dance show called The Discophonic Scene , as well as a syndicated radio show in the '60's which specialized in "oldies" -- which, at that time, often meant that the songs were approximately five years old, and were no longer heard on format-based radio stations. Blavat helped many performers achieve fame, including the Four Seasons, the Isley Brothers, and Dionne Warwick (who spoke at Blavat's funeral

The Doors "Paris Blues" (2022 Record Store Day Black Friday LP)

For Record Store Day Black Friday 2022, a vinyl LP containing blues recordings by The Doors -- both live and studio-recorded -- was issued in a 10,000-copy limited edition in the United States, with a total of 17,000 copies made available worldwide. Paris Blues was pressed in translucent blue vinyl, with cover art by guitarist Robby Krieger, and it came with a colored insert advertising the Jim Morrison book set A Guide To The Labyrinth , which was also a limited edition item . The title track, "Paris Blues", is a studio recording, a long-lost band-written blues song believed to have been recorded during sessions for either The Soft Parade in late 1968, or L.A. Woman in late 1970 or early '71. I would guess the latter scenario is more likely, since the lyrics seem to refer to Jim Morrison's plans to move to France shortly before he died. According to the LP packaging, "Paris Blues" is the last known unreleased Doors studio track. The master tape of the

Alive & Kicking (1985 D.C. Hardcore EP)

Dave Grohl (of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame) made his first released recording in 1985 at age 16, as part of a hardcore punk band from Springfield, Virginia called Mission Impossible. The track, titled "I Can Only Try", was part of a six-song 7-inch vinyl EP titled Alive & Kicking , which was issued by the Washington, D.C.-based punk label WGNS and the D.C.-area hardcore fanzine MetroZine. This EP compiled six tracks by various underground bands from the D.C. hardcore scene. It makes for a potent 13-minute listen. Mission Impossible's track "I Can Only Try" is basically a minute-and-a-half of primitive hardcore fury. But as an early showcase for the teenage Grohl, it doesn't disappoint. Grohl played drums on the track, and already proved himself to be forceful and formidable, showing the same fierce energy that he would later bring to Nirvana and to the first Foo Fighters album. He was well matched by the repetitive guitar riffs, although the band'