Tag Archive for 'Prince'

Prince Greatest Hits Collection “Prince 4Ever” With Vault Track Out 11/22/16 – Comparison to 1993 “Hits”

prince-4ever

Warner Brothers Records in conjunction with NPG Records announced today that they’re releasing a new 40-track greatest hits collection titled Prince 4Ever. Due out strangely on Tuesday 11/22 (the release day in the US was moved generally to Fridays), this marks the first posthumous new release for Prince since his untimely death in April.

This release marks the first of the legendary “Vault” of unreleased recordings seeing the light of day since his estate has been taken over. Prince had released some things in the past– notably on the Crystal Ball box set as well as the Warner Brother contract-obligation release The Vault: Old Friends for Sale.

This release reminds me of the 1993 releases The Hits 1, The Hits 2 and the 3-CD collection The Hits/The B-Sides.  The way I remember those releases was that The Hits 1 was considered a “clean” release, and The Hits 2 was more of a “dirty” release, so people could choose to avoid the racy songs. I can’t find any reference to that being the case, but if you look at the tracklists, certainly 2 has the racy singles on it. Sadly, the epic anthem “Purple Rain” is on the 2nd disc, so it would be disappointing to just buy one of the CD’s. The 3-CD version has both 1 & 2 and adds a third disc of B-Sides. As a collector of Prince 7″ and 12″ singles, I was delighted to get CD versions of those songs, which were often as good or better than the album songs.

Prince 4Ever’s track list, as you might imagine is very close to that 1993 collection. The 1993 collection was based on the single versions of the songs instead of the album versions. I don’t have track times to compare it to verify, however. I think that Prince 4Ever does a much better job of featuring a wider selection of the Warner Brothers catalog. The 1993 collection seemed to stay away from the deeper tracks on All Around The World In A Day and Parade and we get a few more here.

Also interesting about this collection is that it stops at the same year the 1993 collection does– with tracks from the 1992 Love Symbol Album. It does not include the four contentious Warner Brothers albums that followed: Come, The Black Album, The Gold Experience, Chaos and Disorder, or The Vault: Old Friends For Sale. Admittedly, those albums didn’t have many big singles on them, so stopping at 1992 marks the last of the big singles period for Prince. Below is the tracklist of Prince 4Ever and I’ve indicated what tracks were not on the original compilation.

1. 1999
2. Little Red Corvette
3. When Doves Cry
4. Let’s Go Crazy
5. Raspberry Beret
6. I Wanna Be Your Lover
7. Soft and Wet
8. Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad
9. Uptown
10. When You Were Mine
11. Head
12. Gotta Stop (Messin’ About) ** on The B-Sides, non-album single from 1981, but was B-Side to “Let’s Work”
13. Controversy
14. Let’s Work ** not on Hits
15. Delirious
16. I Would Die 4 U
17. Take Me With U ** not on Hits
18. Paisley Park ** not on Hits
19. Pop Life
20. Purple Rain
21. Kiss
22. Sign ‘O’ The Times
23. Alphabet Street
24. Batdance ** not on Hits
25. Thieves In The Temple
26. Cream
27. Mountains ** not on Hits
28. Girls & Boys ** not on Hits
29. If I Was Your Girlfriend
30. U Got The Look
31. I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man
32. Glam Slam ** not on Hits
33. Moonbeam Levels ** not on Hits – the lone song from the Vault on here.
34. Diamonds and Pearls
35. Gett Off
36. Sexy MF
37. My Name Is Prince ** not on Hits
38. 7
39. Peach **debuted on Hits as a non-album single
40. Nothing Compares 2 U

This compilation is in many regards a better compilation than Hits was. I like the songs that they added to this, and some of the songs that Hits included are not missed: “Adore,” “Pink Cashmere (debuted on Hits 1),” “Pope” (A tribute to comedian Bernie Mac. Not a bad song, but certainly not really a great single from Prince.). The loss of the essential “Dirty Mind” is unfortunate, and I think that “Do Me Baby” is essential in the catalog. “I Feel For You” is probably better known as a Chaka Khan track than a Prince one.

The lone Vault track on here is “Moonbeam Levels” a song originally recorded in July of 1982 for 1999 and re-recorded for the aborted Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic (not to be confused with Rave Un2 The Joy Fantastic which was released in 1999, or Rave In2 The Joy Fantastic released in 2001). Incidentally, “Pink Cashmere,” from Hits 1 was also a track considered for the aborted album.

According to Wikipedia, The Hits/The B-Sides sold 40,000 copies following Prince’s death, allowing it to re-enter the Billboard 200 at #6. With the Warner Brother reissue campaign in full swing, it makes sense to capitalize on Prince’s catalog with a new compilation of his best-known songs. Just in time for the holiday rush, and before Black Friday, it’s sure to end up in stockings and under trees. The only pre-sale information I’ve seen lists this as a 2 CD. I have to believe they’ll do vinyl, but It would have to be 3 or 4 LP’s.

(Upcoming Release) What’s In A Name? Members of fDeluxe Announce First Album in 26 Years Together- “Gaslight” to Release in September

Photo credit: Steve Parke

There is a lot that can be said about Prince, and at this stage in his life and career he has firmly established himself as one of the Rock and Pop greats and the sellout tour that he is currently undertaking is a statement made about his career to date– every night is a different lineup of songs from his extensive and prolific career and he is inviting guests to perform with him from his past and current notable artists. In this post-Elvis, post-James Brown, post-Michael Jackson time, we are lucky to have His Purple Majesty walking among us.

One thing is certain, though, when Prince chooses to surround himself with other musicians, they are usually some of the best in the business– The Revolution, New Power Generation, The Time, Sheila E., –the list goes on. One band of musicians that would have probably continued to exist as a footnote in the Wikipedia article that is Prince’s life was The Family. And, it appears that Prince would have preferred it stay that way.

The story about The Family is kind of a notorious one amongst the Prince faithful. Following the massive success of the “Purple Rain” movie and the extensive two years of subsequent touring, took its toll on The Time– who was in the movie and was supporting band on the tour– and ultimately caused key members to quit– namely Morris Day, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Prince collected the remaining members of the Time proposing a reboot including his then-fiancee Susannah Melvoin, twin sister of Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin– starting the trend of his svengali-like tendencies of producing albums of his romantic interests. In addition to Susannah, Prince proposed Paul “St. Paul” Peterson as the other lead vocalist and added Eric Leeds on Sax and keyboards.

The resulting self-titled album in 1985 was comprised mostly of Prince compositions and was performed completely by him except for the vocals and sax parts. The band was short-lived, however as St. Paul left the band, forcing the end of the group, but by this time Prince had moved on to other projects including Sheila E.’s Romance 1600 and the next two albums of Prince and the Revolution as well as the feature film “Under The Cherry Moon.” Prince was not happy with Peterson’s departure, and it seems like he might still hold a bit of a grudge 23 years later.

The story of this band would have stopped here if it wasn’t for a reunion of one of ?uestlove’s favorite Paisley Park-era bands as part of one of The Roots Pre-Grammy parties in 2007. (Athough, I think the genesis for this reunion might have really started with the band Edith Funker who ?uestlove was part of with Susannah and Wendy) It was around this time that Paul Peterson announced the reunion of the members of The Family and that they were working on a new record!

This was over three years ago! A project like this one takes a lot of time and resources and is a good example about how the Internet can facilitate. With members split geographically between California and Minnesota and having careers and lives outside of this project they slowly recorded the album supported in some cases by frequent flier and car rental miles donated by fans eager to see this project get off the ground. Periodically the band would come out of hiding streaming internet video of recording sessions and taking fans questions and posting the occasional raw unmastered track for fans to hear the progress.

The Family 2.0 Live in Minneapolis

The first real fruits of the reunion of the band came in the form of a live performance at The Cabooze in Minneapolis in June of 2009 as part of the “Prince Family Reunion.” The reunited band calling themselves “The Family 2.0” of St. Paul, Susannah,  Jellybean and Eric Leeds plus members of Mint Condition put on a short-but-amazing set which included songs from the first record as well as newly-written songs. The crowd was excited and the band put on a high-energy set.

Since that show the band has struggled with a certain artist who has been blocking the group’s use of the name “The Family” as well as any PR that even implies their past relationship with him. The first change the band made was their name– they became “fDELUXE” last year. As awkward as that name might be, it really serves to point out that while the core of the band acknowledges a past together in a previous band, this new incarnation is much more than vocals added to tracks recorded by one man.

This week, band manager Neil Richards of Square One Entertainment announced via the fDeluxe Facebook page that the long-time-coming reunion album is going to be titled Gaslight after one of the album tracks and not The Family as they had originally planned, and will come out September 12th.

Ringing in at 11 tracks, Gaslight has the expected two-lead vocalists of Susannah and St. Paul along with the core members of Jellybean and Eric Leeds, but they also bring in an extended “family”-  if you will- of  Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, guitarist extraordinaire and husband of Susannah, Doyle Bramhall II, JP DeLaire, Oliver Leiber co-writing and performing…  as well as members of The Hornheads, Ricky Peterson, Charlie Drayton and more helping out during the recording. fDELUXE, indeed!

The band has announced a record-release show in Minneapolis as well on September 16th at the Loring Theater. Ticket information to come as well as other tour dates!

In the meantime, you should sign up for their e-mail list to stay on top of things fDELUXE, and get a free download of “Over the Canyon.” CLICK HERE to visit the band’s website and to sign up.



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Click Here for the fDELUXE Website

Here are the pictures I shot at the June 2009 show of the band:

 

California Girl Karyn Paige is Feeling Minnesota With The KP EP (Review)

Karyn Paige isn’t the only California Gurl who is turning a golden state disposition into sunny pop this summer, but her debut EP The KP EP is a solid challenger for my soundtrack.

I posted about Karyn’s debut single “Want To” back in July which kicks off her 5-song EP (self released on August 31st and available from her website). I said that “Want To” recalls Prince as well as Jam and Lewis.

Paige, assisted by Jazz Mafia compatriots Joe Bagale and Matt Berkeley, has continued to wear her affinity for the Minneapolis Sound. The electro stew of instruments includes buzzy synths, funky, percussive distorted guitars and frantic 808 beats on the uptempo tracks like “I Still Want to Believe” is clearly influenced by the work done at Paisley Park and Flyte Tyme. “Stay Away Tonight” is stripped down to a rattling drum loop, piano and chorus and takes advantage of Karyn’s vocal prowess during its soaring chorus– in an earlier time she’d fit in with the stable of strong female vocalists that His Purpleness liked to surround himself with.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to let you believe that the EP is out standing in a purple rain, however.

On “Feel Alright, Be Alright” slows things down a bit with gorgeous chiming synths, snapping clave and blue-eyed backing vocal harmonies that remind me of the best moments of 80’s synth pop greats like ABC or Spandau Ballet. When Karyn sings “Everything will be all right, feel alright… no frustration…” we are already smiling and nodding along. The quick and soft flow of Karyn’s rap that recalls Bahamadia is a great touch to this song and shows skills we could stand to hear more of.

The EP closer “Big Top” takes a snap-step-and-spin Motown rhythm and adds a pumping Talking Book electric piano to Karyn’s soaring circus warning. “Look out! There’s a Big Top up ahead.. Remember everything the ringleader said… you know you want to run away with the circus… don’t look back on yesterday…”

You can download this little bit of sunshine from Karyn Paige’s website for $4.95.

Click Here to listen to “Want To” by Karyn Paige from The KP EP as well as her upcoming full length  Hola Mademoiselle.

Click Here to visit Karyn Paige’s website and sign up for her mailing list

Click Here to visit Karyn Paige’s Facebook Fanpage

Click Here to visit Karyn Paige’s MySpace Page

B-Sides in the Bins #50 – Weekend in Chicago 3/27 – 3/29

Last weekend Sherry attended America’s Beauty Show for the third year running and I got the opportunity to have some quality time with Chicago’s record stores. Friday night we went down to a bar called This Must Be The Place in Lemont, IL to see Chicago R&B phenom The Right Now. We got into town late, so we needed to scoot to try and get there in time to get something to eat. Thankfully the folks there were very accommodating and the food was excellent!

The Right Now Live at This Must Be The Place

The show was a lot of fun– it was the first time I’d seen the band since they played Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids in 2008 as Eli Jones. The band has come a long way in their stage show. Now the guys in the band all wear matching suits and Steph looked great in a sequined dress and heels. This was the first time the band had played This Must Be The Place and there was a pretty low turnout. Some of the dinner crowd stuck around through the first set but by the second set the audience was made up of Sherry and I and the employees of the bar. The band followed a setlist for the first set, but after the break they decided to loosen up a bit and played some older songs like “Candlelight and Satin Sheets” and “Disco Smooth” and a couple of newly-written songs.

I talked to the soundguy at the break a bit, and he said that the owner of the bar is trying to establish This Must Be The Place as a place for musicians to meet– sort of like The Green Mill or the Empty Bottle downtown. It is a lofty goal for sure as Lemont is about 45 minutes south of the Loop on I-55, and I think that getting the bands to come out of the Loop is a tough proposition. That said, the Metra runs down there so it isn’t an impossibility. It is a really nice venue with a great soundsystem and stage and the food and drinks are good. I’d come back if there was a good band there.

We got to hang out and talk to the band after the show– I was happy that Sherry got to meet them, and we talked a bit about the upcoming Iowa shows the weekend of 4/16 (Iowa City, Davenport and Cedar Rapids).

On Saturday, Sherry attended the first day of the conference at McCormick which started around Noon and I parked in the first floor lobby and worked on blog stuff. On Sunday she went to the second day of the conference and I decided I wanted to hit a Half-Price Books as I had the 50% Off One Item coupon. There are a few Half-Price Books in the Chicagoland area, but all of them are way out in the burbs. The closest one to McCormick Place was down in Countryside, IL off I-55 (pretty close to Lemont, really). So, I dropped Sherry off and hit I-55– it’s exit is right near McCormick Place.

The Countryside HPB has a pretty substantial collection of vinyl as it turns out– and a decent selection of obscure and Chicago-local bands. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a lot of stuff I was looking for. They had a Japanese pressing of the Blind Faithalbum for $30 that I was really interested in. It had the alternate cover featuring the band instead of the topless underaged-girl photo. It had a pretty deep scratch on it otherwise I would have bought it with my 50% coupon. They had two copies of Dave Brubeck’s Time Out— both appeared to be original pressings and one of them was a very worn Mono. I almost bought the Mono, but the wear and the seam-split cover had me passing on it. Plus, I have a very mint Stereo Columbia 6-eye I cherish, so I don’t need another copy, really. They also had Marti Jones’s second album Match Game on LP. Match Game was produced by Marti’s husband Don “Praying Mantis” Dixon. I have this on cassette, and would have liked to have this on vinyl, but it was missing an inner sleeve and was pretty worn. Here’s what I picked up:

Men At Work – Business As Usual (LP, CBS Records, FC 37978, 1982)($0.50) This was clearance-priced, and has a VG cover and vinyl. Fairly quiet on the turntable after I cleaned it. I listened to this and Cargoa lot in junior high school. Three pretty big singles in “Who Can It Be Now?”, “Down Under,” and “Be Good Johnny.” It was their appearance at the US Festival on “New Wave Day” that really helped establish the band and make them the MTV darlings. This album is strong all the way through– the singles are scattered throughout the record and serve as familiar landmarks through the rest of the songs. Men at Work were often considered a band that copied The Police– and quite a bit of this album with it’s bouncy ska rhythms and jazz influences certainly supports that idea. One of my favorite non-single tracks is “Helpless Automation” which recalls a new-wavy Devo. I included this song in a mixtape that I played all the time in High School. I need to get Cargo, next.

The Time – Ice Cream Castles (LP, Warner Bros. Records, 25109-1, 1984)($2.98) This is a title I don’t see very often (though, coincidentally would see again on Monday…). The story goes that Prince was trying to transition from the pop-funk sound that he established leading up to Controversyand apparently had a lot of music he still wanted to release in that vein. He puts his childhood friend Morris Day in front of a Minneapolis funk band called Flyte Time and creates The Time– on record, at least was mostly Prince and Day. By the time Ice Cream Castles is released in 1984, Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam had been fired by Prince for missing a show and Morris Day quit to pursue an acting career propelled by his appearance in Purple Rain. Although the album cover shows the post-Lewis and Jam version of the band– which has a shockingly-young St. Paul Peterson on the cover. If his birthdate in October of 1964 is correct, St. Paul was 18 when he played in the Time. He wasn’t on the album, however and only apparently played two live gigs in the Twin Cities and he appears in the movie Purple Rain. After Morris Day leaves The Time, Prince gathers the remaining members and his then-girlfriend Susannah Melvoin and creates The Family. The Family are re-united as F Deluxe (Prince denies them the use of the name The Family– apparently still bitter about St. Paul leaving the group). Ice Cream Castles has what amounts to the biggest songs from The Time– “The Bird” and “Jungleland” which are both featured prominently in the Purple Rain movie. The production is credited to “The Starr Company” which is effectively Prince, who sometimes used the alias “Jamie Starr.” The original album inner sleeve is black plastic, interestingly.

Record Dugout, Chicago IL

My plan was to hit another Half Price Books and spend my 50% coupon, but the next closest one was another 35 miles away. I did a quick Google Maps search for nearby record stores and found one called The Record Dugout(6055 West 63rd Street, Chicago, IL 60638-4317). The Record Dugout is technically in Chicago– although really far south in Chicago. It’s a moderately-sized store that specializes in vinyl LP’s dating up to the 80’s, comic books and sports cards. The day I was there, the guy who handles the vinyl part of the store was working. His name is Bob Miner and he hosts an acapella radio show on The University of Chicago radio station WHPK which airs on Sunday evenings and is called “From the Subway to the Streetcorner.” The store was literally packed with vinyl. There was one row of sorted Rock in record bins, another shorter row for Jazz and folk/country, another “discount bin” with $1-$2 records, and a meticulously-organized bin with 7″ records– the majority of which was R&B from the 50’s/60’s/70’s. Other areas included a “Wall of Shame” as Bob called it, which showcased the more expensive records– rare 7″es with sleeves, etc., a table which had unsorted piles of cheap records in varying degrees of shape– most of which had damaged sleeves, but had serviceable records in them, and two areas on the floor which had $1 and $2 records piled up.

I found most of the haul below in the sorted bins, but the ones for $1 and $2 I found by digging. Bob buys whole collections of records from people looking to get rid of them, so if he hasn’t gotten through them, the good stuff might not be in the bins. Everything seemed to have prices, however. It’s important to note that The Record Dugout only takes cash and the nearest ATMs charge fees, so bring cash. Also, if you buy a lot of stuff, Bob will work with you on price. I spent about three hours here, and probably could have spent more time. I’ll certainly come back!

R.E.M. – Lifes Rich Pageant(LP, IRS Records, IRS-5783, 1986) ($4.00) I might have paid a bit too much for this one. The sleeve was not split, but kind of rough on the corners and the paper sleeve was replaced with another sleeve. The record is pretty clean, and after I gave it a thorough wipe with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol to get it cleaned, it sounds really good– the surface is a bit hazy, however. R.E.M. is tough to find in the bins, so I’ll pick these up when I find them. Lifes Rich Pageant was the follow-up to Fables of the Reconstruction, which was the album that pretty much changed my music listening. R.E.M. called this their “John Cougar Mellencamp album” because it was produced by Don Gehman at Mellencamp’s studio in Indiana. Classic R.E.M. sound on this one– “Begin the Begin,” “Hyena,” “Fall on Me,” “Superman,” “I Believe” are all strong tracks in the R.E.M. canon. The song “Just a Touch” was a song resurrected from the early days of the band and a number of bootleg recordings from the early 80’s have this song.

Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band – Nine Tonight(2 LP, Capitol Records, STBK-12182, 1981)($2.00) I found this one in one of the piles on the floor– hence its $2 price. Fabulously clean cover and LP’s! My dad bought this cassette when it was new and we used to listen to this a lot riding around in the car. A live album comprised of songs recorded in Detroit and Boston in 1980. All of his classic tracks are here– “Hollywood Nights,” “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You,” “Night Moves,” “You’ll Accomp’ny Me,” “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Mainstreet,” “Fire Lake,” “Fire Down Below.” Probably the only album of Bob’s I would care to own, although I’d need Live Bullet to get “Turn the Page.”

Various – The Breakfast Club – The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack(LP, A&M Records, SP 5045, 1985)($2.00) Another one from the floor. Cover is in good condition and the record looks decent, but there seems to be a lot of groove wear on this one– particularly on “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. This was a soundtrack that my brother Steve and I listened to a lot– in fact, I think the cassette was actually his. My band in high school with Steve used to cover “(Don’t You) Forget About Me.” Fantastic drum beat in that song, which is why it is so timeless. It’s a kind of well-known story that Simple Minds didn’t write the song– it was penned by Keith Forsey who also wrote “Flashdance… What a Feeling” for Irene Kara. After being turned down by Billy Idol, Bryan Ferry and Simple Minds– it was encouraged by A&M that Simple Minds record the song. It becomes their biggest hit which help propel their career for a couple of albums. This soundtrack always struck me in how different it was to other John Hughes soundtracks in that while it had a huge single in “(Don’t You) Forget About Me,” it was really lacking in every other respect. I became familiar with the other songs by Wang Chung, E.G. Daily, Jesse Johnson, and Karla DeVito but aside from “Fire in the Twilight” from Wang Chung, which frankly sounds like an outtake from Points on the Curve, everything else seems like bargain-basement licensing– particularly if you compare it to the powerhouse soundtrack to Pretty in Pink, for example. The instrumentals by Forsey, while largely forgettable, work really well in the context of the movie.

In the 80’s it really seemed like you couldn’t have a soundtrack to a teen movie that didn’t include songs by E.G. Daily. She contributed her unique vocals to movies like Better off Dead — where she performs her two songs in the movie, Summer School, Thief of Hearts as well as The Breakfast Club. She’s a pretty talented lady, and is a regular for voiceovers. It is she who voices Tommy Pickles in Rugrats, for example.

Talking Heads – Speaking In Tongues (LP, Sire Records, 23883-1, 1983) ($2.00) Another one from the floor piles. The cover and inner sleeve are in tact, if a bit beat up. I have no Talking Heads on vinyl– well except for a bootleg called humorously enough Gimme Heads which has some studio outtakes and live tracks on it and a 12″ to “Blind.” After cleaning this one up, it plays pretty well, but I’ll be on the lookout for better copies. Last year’s Record Store Day had a Rhino reissue for 77— so I was hoping for some other reissues on vinyl. The Dugout also had True Stories on vinyl, but it was in pretty rough shape so I passed on it. Speaking In Tongues is pretty much the Talking Heads pinnacle release with the massive “Burning Down The House” single as well as secondary hits of “Girlfriend is Better,” and “Naive Melody.” Of course, these songs would show up in a bunch of movie soundtracks. I remember “Naive Melody” standing out in the soundtrack to Wall Street, and “Swamp” shows up in Risky Business. These tracks are featured prominently in the Talking Heads concert movie Stop Making Sensewhich was directed by Jonathan Demme.

Fleetwood Mac – Mirage (LP, Warner Bros. Records, W1 23607, 1982)($3.00) Very clean vinyl– cover has a suspicious wear spot, like someone used water to take adhesive off the cover. Also a Columbia House pressing. Clearly I didn’t look very closely at this one. I don’t like to take Columbia House pressings normally due to the uncertain nature of what they used for masters. That said, it is very clean and plays well, and is one of the better copies of Mirage I’ve seen, even with those flaws. The Mac tries to come back from the Titanic expensive failure that was Tusk (still my favorite, however). I really like Mirage— the band comes back to the style and sound of Rumours. The album had six singles released worldwide, but the biggest singles were “Hold Me” and “Gypsy.” The album makes it to #1 on the US charts, so it is clear that their audience wanted another album, but in the canon of Fleetwood Mac, Mirage is not one that people remember.

My first Fleetwood Mac concert was for the Miragetour in 1982. My family saw them in Cedar Falls with Glenn Frey of the Eagles opening on his first solo tour. I’ve seen Fleetwood Mac three more times since then– once during the very sad Time tour with Dave Mason and Bekka Bramlett on guitars and vocals in Dubuque, once for The Dance tour and once for the Say You Will Tour.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live/1975-85(5 LP, Columbia Records 40558 LP, 1986)($15.00) This one was a cool find. I bought this new on cassette back in 1986– and still have it. I’ve seen it on CD over the years used, but never on LP. A great collection of Bruce live goodness from what most people would consider the high-point of his career. I think that they should do an official release of the legendary Winterland 1978 show. The version of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” heard at Christmas time is from that show. This box set does, however, include the version of “Fire” from that show. The Winterland 1978 show had been bootlegged many times over the years– since it was aired live on the radio, lots of folks taped it. Wolfgang’s Vault helpfully has the show in their archives, but it is not one that is purchasable. Listen here.

The vinyl on this box is pretty much pristine, even if the box itself isn’t. One I’ll want to kick back and listen to with a glass of wine some night.

Booker T. & The MG’s – “Hip Hug-Her” b/w “Summertime”(7″ Stax 45-211, 1965)($4.00) I hadn’t really planned to pick up any 45’s, but they had a dedicated section just for Stax! So, I flipped through it and they had a few Booker T. & The MG’s singles. I picked this one because it was on the massively cool light blue Stax label. The record is in great shape for being 45 years old!

Wilson Pickett – “Funky  Broadway” b/w “I’m Sorry About That” (7″, Atlantic Records, 45-2430, 1967)($3.00) This one is one of the singles I really dig from Wilson Pickett– on the red Atlantic label. Super-clean and in an Atlantic paper sleeve.

The Dangtrippers – “The Masquerade” b/w “Lover’s Again”(7″, Dog Gone Records, DOG 0005-7″, 1989)($3.50) Why is it that if I want to find rare Iowa bands in the bins I need to leave Iowa? The Dangtrippers were Doug Roberson of The Diplomats of Solid Sound’s 90’s band. I still remember seeing The Dangtrippers playing the Loras College gym when I went to school there. The band got signed to Dog Gone records which was the record label started by Jefferson Holt who was the manager for R.E.M. This is the single to the only album released for The Dangtrippers on Dog Gone before it went under (see below). “Lover’s Again” is a non-album b-side!

Prince and the Revolution – Around the World in a Day(LP, Paisley Park W1-25286, 1985)($3.00) A Columbia House pressing, but in superb shape! I’ve never seen this on LP before! I have this in this crazy longbox trifold CD I picked up at a Discount Records in the early 90’s in Chicago. The LP cover is sort of a trifold with a short flap that folds over. The cover art is a painted scene which has in it representations of each of the songs– a tambourine, a ladder, an American flag, a raspberry beret– the ones I found anyway… A pretty progressive album– lots of psychedelica and strangeness– Prince at his most experimental. “Pop Life” and “Raspberry Beret” were the big singles off this album, but I think that most people ignore this album. I liked it back when it came out, but admittedly haven’t listened to it much since the 80’s. Giving it a spin the other night, I’m struck by some of the songs. In fact, I like all of the album other than the track “Temptation.”

The next day I dropped Sherry off at the conference again and I headed up to Lincoln Square to hit Laurie’s Planet of Sound, which I had hit back in October of 2007. The store was pretty quiet when I got there. They changed the parking meters to be able to take credit cards, which is convenient, but still really expensive. I blew $3 to get a couple of hours of parking. Laurie’s has a new arrivals section for their CD’s and LP’s and has a section dedicated to new vinyl as well. Their vinyl prices are higher than places like the dugout, but comparable to places like HPB which is attempting to charge market prices for some.

Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals – Burn to Shine(2 LP, Virgin Records America, 7243 8 48151 1 0, 1999)($9.99) This was in the new arrivals section and appears to be a cutout of sorts as the barcode is crossed out. Probably a promo or a giveaway, but is in great shape. I hadn’t really paid much attention to Ben Harper until I saw him as part of that 3D concert movie “Larger Than Life” back in December. I was impressed enough to pick up Harper’s new record White Lies for Dark Times on vinyl. Burn to Shine is considered to be one of his good releases so I thought it might be a good gamble. I gave it a spin when I got home, and it’s a good one for the collection.

Bumps (2 LP, Stones Throw Records, STH2157, 2007)($12.99) This was a new purchase. Bumps is the side project of the Tortoise rhythm section of Bitney, McEntire & Herndon. This is a record of beats, essentially. This is a really cool 2 LP version that was price cut from $15.99 to $12.99. This is mostly as a completion for my Tortoise vinyl collection, I don’t see myself playing this often.

Cougar – Law (LP, Layered Music/Play It Again Sam, LR013, 2007/2008)($4.99) Although it isn’t really listed anywhere on the artwork and the LP itself only lists 4 tracks, this appears to be the full Lawalbum that was released in 2007 in the UK by Layered Music. Madison, WI band Cougar is classified as “emergency” music although I think they fit under the “post rock” area. Having your debut album mixed by John McEntire of Tortoise doesn’t hurt this classification either.

The Dangtrippers – Days Between Stations (LP, Dog Gone, DOG 0005, 1989)($2.99) Wow! Another Dangtrippers find? The cover is a bit trashed on this one, but I didn’t know that this was even available on LP! I see on eBay there are a couple of LPs– one for $14.99 and one for $19.99, so $2.99 is a good deal. The vinyl is very clean. As I stated above, The Dangtrippers were a band from Iowa City from the 80’s and early 90’s that got signed to Dog Gone Records. They had this album out on Dog Gone before the label went under. Their second album Transparent Blue Illusionwhich came out in 1991 was only available on the Australian label Zero Hour. The Dangtrippers had a 60’s jangly rock sound that owed a lot to bands like The dB’s. In fact, the song “Talk About Love” on Days Between Stations sounds a lot like The dB’s and it’s pretty much my favorite track on the album.

That song reminds me of a very bad trip to Florida in the early 90’s with my then-girlfriend to visit some friends of hers. The trip started out okay– it was Florida in late December and her friends had a gorgeous house with a pool and a Porsche 928 that was ours for the borrowing. We visited a mall that had a discount book store or something and I found Days Between Stations on CD there in the bins!

The trip took a turn for the worst as she started giving me the silent treatment and wouldn’t talk about why she was upset. So, I was stuck in Florida with someone who clearly didn’t want to be there with me. We had a painful trip to Disney World followed by a really uncomfortable New Year’s Eve get together. By the time we flew back to Chicago to drive back to Dubuque I had enough of this ridiculous situation where she wasn’t talking to me about why she was upset. So, she was rewarded with four hours of “Talk About Love” on repeat in full volume. The relationship didn’t last much longer– she didn’t like not being the center of attention with her friends and I apparently drew some attention from her. I still dig the frustrated energy of that song.

Click Here to hear “Talk About Love” from Days Between Stationsby The Dangtrippers.

Love Tractor – Around the Bend (LP, DB Recs, DB67, 1983)($4.99) This was another very cool find! Of course, this is where I’ll alienate some of the readers. I found out about Love Tractor due to the documentary Athens, GA Inside/Out about the music scene in Athens leading up to 1987– R.E.M. is just getting to be a big deal in college rock– it was released before Document with “The One I Love” on it– so the movie happens at an opportune time. Included in the movie is Love Tractor who perform a live version of “Pretty” from Around the Bend. The album is largely instrumental with some sparse vocals. I had Around the Bend on a double-cassette which included their debut self-titled album and the follow-up Until the Cows Come Home. I find their unique style to be pretty similar to Athens contemporaries Pylon.

I actually owned the soundtrack for Athens, GA Inside/Outfor a long time before I ever saw the movie. The soundtrack included two acoustic tracks from R.E.M. “Swan Swan H” and a cover of the Everly Brothers song “All I Have To Do is Dream” so I had to get it. By the time the movie came out on VHS, I was very familiar with a lot of the songs in it, including “Pretty.”

Click Here to listen to “Pretty” from Around the Bend by Love Tractor.

I also bought a bag of 100 mylar LP bags for $20. I never seem to have enough of those. I could get these cheaper online from Bags Unlimited, but since I was thinking of it, I thought I’d buy them.

As I was walking back to my car I happened to catch someone out of the corner of my eye– it was Chris Corsale from The Right Now sitting in a window of a sandwich shop playing acoustic guitar and singing! He was suprised to see me as well! So, I moved my car to a side street– which is free and doesn’t require a permit after 11AM. Then I came back to the restaurant and ate lunch hanging out with him in between sets. It was pretty cool– Chris has a pretty wide selection of covers he does and made for good lunchtime entertainment. A great coincidence that sort of made for a good wrap-up of the weekend.

After lunch I made my way back to McCormick Place to pick Sherry up and head home.

New Fan-assisted “Mash-up” Video of “Salt & Cherries (MC5)” by Wendy & Lisa

One of the great records of this year for me is the new Wendy & Lisa joint White Flags of Winter Chimneys. It is a self-released record, and the promotion and distribution is handled by their little-but-mighty camp. Talking with them earlier this year I could get the sense that this release and their truly-independent approach to managing their careers was going to be a developing blueprint that other acts could look to for inspiration. They twitter, they blog, they podcast, they Facebook, they Amazon.com.

Today they released the video to the rawking “Salt & Cherries (MC5)” which features Wendy & Lisa in a live setting interspersed with fans lip-synching to the song. They asked for submissions from fans and they apparently got some really creative results!

Majors Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the 45 Single With “Digital 45” Campaign

In what seems to be a gobsmackingly obvious move, the major labels in conjunction with digital music retailers like Zune Store, Amazon, Rhapsody and iTunes have announced “Digital 45s” on the 60th anniversary of the 7″ 45 record.

The big announcements are really in conjunction with Apple’s iTunes Store that they are calling “D45” and use that nifty logo pictured on the left. Digging through the press-releases shows that Warner Music Group is represented by Rhino which should represent the full compliment of WMG labels which includes Atlantic/Atco, Elektra/Asylum, Warner Brothers, Reprise and Sire– so this should bring a very wide and deep catalog and the first releases are already showing some promise.

EMI stepped up with a press-release as well although they don’t have a site dedicated to their Digital 45 initiative. EMI stable of labels include EMI, Apple, Capitol, Virgin, Blue Note, Manhattan– and interestingly, Caroline, Mute, Definitive Jux, and Astralwerks making for some potentially interesting releases.

The Concord Music group has titles released as well, but no press release. According to the Wikipedia article on  Concord, UMG handles the physical distribution of Concord, but I don’t think that would apply here. Concord includes Fantasy’s labels– Fantasy, Stax/Volt and a number of jazz labels (Riverside, Prestige). There is a Sam & Dave Digital 45 of “Soul Man,” I hope this means we see some interesting Creedence Clearwater Revival releases– they were on Fantasy. There has been a long-standing Stax/Volt Singles box set with b-sides, but these Digital 45s would allow someone to pick and choose if they released the whole Stax catalog.

SonyBMG have brought some Digital 45’s as well, but I couldn’t find a press release on it. SonyBMG is a significant collection of labels as well with Sony, Epic, Columbia, RCA, Arista and all of their associated spinoff labels. One of the first Digital 45’s is a Michael Jackson single for “Billie Jean” b/w “Can’t Get Out of the Rain.”

A quick review of the online retailers shows a pretty impressive participation– iTunes, Amazon.com, Zune Music Marketplace, Rhapsody mp3 store, but eMusic seems to be the lone holdout– or shut out. Sony just signed an agreement with eMusic to be able to sell older titles, but apparently this doesn’t extend to Digital 45s, yet.

Comparing the offerings between the retailers shows that mostly everyone is adopting the $1.49 for 2 tracks, with the individual tracks at standard pricing of $0.99. Zune Marketplace has the 2 tracks at $1.69, with individual tracks at $0.99. The Sony titles seem to be priced differently– “Billie Jean” 2-track is $1.99 with “Billie Jean” at $1.29 and the b-side at $0.99. Right now it looks like iTunes is the only retailer who has the SonyBMG titles. I’m not sure what the future holds about this situation, since all of the retailers have other SonyBMG titles.

All of that detail aside, there are some pretty cool titles available already and based on an interview with Rhino Marketing Veep David Dorn by Billboard, they will be releasing “bundles” of Digital 45’s monthly, so there will be many more to come!

Some releases of interest to me:

Prince and the Revolution- “Kiss” b/w “Love or Money” (Warner Brothers) This is a single I own in 7″. Interestingly this was a B-Side left off of the 1993 3 CD compilation The Hits/The B-Sides, so its existence here is welcomed.

INXS – “What You Need” b/w “Sweet As Sin” (ATCO) During their heyday, INXS used their b-sides to provide songs that were a bit more experimental. “Sweet As Sin” is a two-steppish country tune. Not a bad track, but certainly didn’t fit on Listen Like Thieves. One of my favorite b-sides from INXS from this period is the jazzy instrumental “Begotten” and the really out-there “I’m Coming (Home)” from the “I Need You Tonight” single.

Erasure – “A Little Respect” b/w “Like Zsa Zsa Zsa Gabor” (Warner Brothers) Another great bubbly dance track from Erasure. Could have easily been on  The Innocents, really.

The Cure – “Just Like Heaven” b/w “Breathe” (Elektra) The Cure is a veritable treasure trove of b-sides. This is most evidenced by the amazing 2004 Rhino/Fiction box set Join the Dots : B-sides and Rarities, 1978-2001. I had this on cassette single. According to one of the reviewers on iTunes, the “Just Like Heaven” mix is the mix by Bob Clearmountain used in the video.

Steve Martin and the Toot Uncommons – “King Tut” b/w “Hoedown At Alice’s” (Warner Brothers) I have this 7″– in fact you can see it in the header picture on this blog. With Martin’s new 5-string banjo album The Crow out, it makes sense for this b-side to show up as it is a banjo workout by Martin.

The Cars – “Let’s Go” b/w “That’s It” (Elektra) The lead single from Candy-O in 1979 had the non-LP track “That’s It” with Benjamin Orr on lead. This track was included in the 1995 Just What I Needed : Cars Anthology.

What I would like to see for singles (which is really about the b-sides)

INXS – “Listen Like Thieves” b/w “Begotten” (Elektra) I mentioned this one above.

Terence Trent D’Arby – “Sign Your Name” b/w “Greasy Chicken (Sony) My brother Steve was a big fan of TTD when Introducing the Hardline came out. He had the cassette single to “Sign Your Name” with the really funky workout “Greasy Chicken” as the b-side.

Bruce Springsteen – “One Step Up” b/w “Roulette” (Columbia) The Boss is pretty famous for having some really great songs “in the can” that eventually showed up as b-sides to singles or elsewhere. “Roulette” is a great example of this. Recorded in the Spring of 1980, it is a galloping song about nuclear holocost that just never made it to an album. This song eventually showed up on the very cool Tracks boxset. In fact, you can download it now from Amazon.com and other places.

Men At Work – “Who Can It Be Now” b/w “Anyone For Tennis” (Columbia) Another favorite around the house. My brother had this 7″ and played the b-side all the time. For some reason Sony Legacy omitted this song from the bonus b-sides appended to their 2003 remaster. “Anyone For Tennis” is a quick-tempo slightly ska-ish track demonstrates how much Men at Work owed the Police.

The Rolling Stones – “It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It)” b/w “Through The Lonely Nights” (Rolling Stones Records) When you’re a kid and your mom picks up records for you– you play the crap out of them. In my mind the flip side of the rocker “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll” is as notable as the A side. “Through The Lonely Nights” is a slinky, almost funky country rocker. Mick does his best American drawl. An absolutely gorgeous classic and largely ignored. This song was resurrected in a 2005 remaster done for a Starbucks compilation that is now out-of-print called Rarities 1971-2003. Really, I think that a box set of singles similar to the Singles Collection : London Years should be done for the post 1971 period.

Prince – All of the Warner singles! While it’s true that the 3 CD version of The Hits/The B-Sides is relatively available, they don’t seem to be available for digital download! So, this would be an inventive way to remedy this! Plus, there are still songs that didn’t make that 3rd disc– “Alexa de Paris” for one. In fact, maybe it’s time to reissue the Prince protegee bands’ singles as well!

Click Here for Rhino Records’ Digital 45 Page

Click Here for the press release from EMI which lists the initial singles they will be releasing.

Upcoming Show: The Prince Family Reunion at Cabooze in MPLS June 5th, 2009

3rd Annual Prince Family Reunion Poster

During his heyday in the 80’s as the reigning Purple King of Minneapolis, Prince built an astonishing music empire. His creative output could not be contained it seemed and the king surrounded himself with a funky court of many talented artists and musicians who either were backing him in his many bands over the years, or would benefit from his seemingly-endless supply of songs in their bands and projects.

Most of these musicians would move on to non-Prince projects whether it was due to Prince’s short-attention for a given project or frustration over Prince’s princely ways.

Last year on the eve of Prince’s 50th birthday, a collection of his former sidemen and friends gathered at the legendarily cramped Cabooze bar in the West Bank area of Minneapolis to celebrate with an all-star jam. While a cryptic “Jamie Starr” was listed on the marquee, the man of honor didn’t make an appearance, the show was a greatest hits of his catalog as well as the associated acts like The Time and The Family. This is apparently the third annual Prince Family Reunion, and this year we see that “Alexander Nevermind” is listed on the bill!

This year’s show will take place Friday June 5th and tickets are $20, $25 at the door. There is also a very limited number of $50 V.I.P. passes which will gain the holder a meet-and-greet as well as access to the V.I.P. area. Doors are at 8:30PM and the show should start at 9:30. From the Cabooze calendar:

Prince Family Reunion featuring (Click on the links for more information):
St. Paul Peterson (The Time, The Family, The Truth)
Susannah Melvoin (The Revolution, The Family)
Michael Bland (New Power Generation, Soul Asylum)
Kirk Johnson (New Power Generation, The Truth)
Dez Dickerson
(The Revolution)
Ta Mara/Margie Cox (Prince, Ta Mara & The Seen)
Dr. Fink
(The Revolution)
Bobby Z
(The Revolution)
Stokley (Mint Condition)
Jellybean Johnson
(The Time, The Family)
Chance Howard (Prince, The Time, The Truth)
Mike Scott (New Power Generation, Justin Timberlake)
Eric Leeds (Prince, New Power GenerationThe Revolution, Madhouse, The Truth)
O’Dell (Mint Condition, The Truth)
Kip Blackshire
(New Power Generation)
G Sharp (Jimmy Vaughn, Dr. Mambo’s Combo)
Tyka Nelson
(Prince’s sister)
Donnie LaMarca (The Truth, Bobby Caldwell)
Brian Gallagher
(Prince, Greazy Meal)
Jerry Hubbard (The Time, Jesse Johnson Revue, Ta Mara & The Seen, The Truth)
Pepe Willie (Prince, 94 East)
Alexander Nevermind (ummm, right)
& a very special MAZERATI Reunion featuring all the original members!

In addition to that list from the press release, Paul “St. Paul” Peterson posted on the Family 2.0 Facebook page confirmed that he would be at the show along with Susannah Melvoin. Since Jellybean and Eric Leeds will be there this likely means that we will be treated to a “Family” reunion! It would be cool if they could coax Wendy and Lisa to make the trip west…

Based on the list of players above it sort of seems like this event would be difficult to pull off considering how some members wouldn’t have worked together in any of Prince’s projects or otherwise. The key to this seems to be the band listed as “The Truth” which shows up on a number of the members’ lists of bands.

The Truth was an all-star lineup of former Prince-related sidemen who performed regularly in the Twin Cities in 2006 and 2007, and released a CD of one of their performances in 2008. The band consisted of “St. Paul” Peterson on bass, vocals, guitar and keyboards, Jellybean Johnson on guitars, O’Dell on guitar and vocals, Jerry Hubbard on bass, guitar, keyboards and vocals, Chance Howard on bass guitar, bass synth, and vocals, Kirk Johnson on drums and vocals, Eric Leeds, on saxophone, keyboards and vocals, and Donnie LaMarca on keyboards.

The Truth was managed by Jeff Taube of Mid-America Talent, which is also putting this show on, so it all ties neatly together. The press release also mentions other “Very Special Suprise Guests” so it will be interesting to see who else shows up. Aside from Alexander Nevermind himself, Wendy & Lisa would be cool, and maybe Morris Day?

As with any project like this one, you end up with some folks who were notable in Prince’s camp (St. Paul, Susannah, Jellybean, Eric Leeds, Bobby Z., Dr. Fink, Dez) and you end up with some sort of questionable relations– Ta Mara was really more notable as Jessie Johnson’s protege, however, Prince did sign her to Paisley Park and recorded an album, but never released it– hiding in a vault somewhere in Chanhassen, I suppose. Mint Condition was a band discovered by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of The Time fame, but since they are managed by Mid-America Talent and are part of The Truth, they get to be here.  Tyka Nelson is Prince’s sister, and not really part of his direct musical career. G-Sharp toured with Prince during the Diamonds and Pearls World Tour– his band backed Carmen Electra who was the opening act.

Pepe Willie is an interesting part of Prince’s history (and a VERY IMPORTANT ONE according to his website), but unless this group was going to play 94 East or Grand Central songs (both early Prince Bands), I don’t think his addition to the lineup is essential.

The Mazarati reunion is pretty interesting. The story of Mazarati is similar to the Margie Cox story in that it is one of a Prince relation casualty. Mazarati was founded in part by Brown Mark of The Revolution. After some local buzz surrounding a demo of “Stroke” that was played at First Avenue by a DJ, Prince took an interest in the band and signed them to Paisley Park. Prince wrote their biggest single “100 MPH,” but the most noted story surrounds what would become one of Prince’s biggest singles “Kiss.” Prince gave them “Kiss” as a rough demo. After spending the day rebuilding the song from the ground up, Prince took the song back and added his own vocals and some production touches. He didn’t even bother to remove the background vocals that were done by Mazarati! So, maybe Mazarati will do “Kiss” at the show? You can hear their demo of “Kiss” at their MySpace page.

It turns out that I have a family thing to go to in the Twin Cities that day, so my wife and I are talking about going to this. I’ll provide a show review and pictures here!

Click Here to visit the Facebook Event for the Prince Family Reunion

Click Here to read the  interview I did with Wendy & Lisa about their new album!

B-Sides in the Bins #41 – Wendy & Lisa Interview

Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman– collectively known as Wendy & Lisa are probably best known as the creative songwriting force in Prince’s 80’s backing band The Revolution. It’s my opinion as well as others that it was Wendy & Lisa who were a strong (and necessary) compliment to Prince and that relationship fostered the creative energy of the three that spawned music that was more than the three could have achieved individually. After Prince dissolved The Revolution Wendy & Lisa stuck together and continued to work through the 90’s on their career as a songwriting duo. While the four albums released through 1998 had been received well critically, none of the albums really took off for them– quite a bit of it due to label switching that was outside their control and it was this experience that formed their approach to their new album.

In the ten-plus years since their last album, the pair have stayed together focusing on studio work, songwriting, production and some significant soundtrack scoring for shows like HBO’s “Carnivale,” Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and NBC’s “Heroes.” At the end of 2008, Wendy & Lisa self-released White Flags of Winter Chimneys which seems to be a new declaration of purpose with a vision towards the next phase of their partnership. It may prove that the long gap between releases is enough for the pair to be judged upon their own merits as artists and musicians rather than continuing in the shadow of their work with Prince.

I had an opportunity to talk to Wendy & Lisa during a short break in their busy schedules last week to talk about their new album, the promise of an upcoming tour, and their unique distribution model. They were very cool to talk to– funny and excited to talk about their new work. They had me on speakerphone and it was a lot of fun talking to them. They are kindred spirits with me in a lot of respects, their tastes in music are as varied as mine and their passion for their work is infectious as I found myself re-energized to focus on this blog!

Me: A lot of bands are looking into a self-distribution model. Yours is unique in that you are selling it from your website first and then moving to other electronic distribution channels– is it going to get regular distribution as well?

Wendy: It will get regular distribution later, yeah. We’re doing this in steps right now because we’re trying to make a little cash so we can get to the next level because we are distributing it ourselves in a little room with our little postage machines and our little weighing machines and our packaging and this-and-that. We bypassed getting a regular distribution deal because a lot of times the artist ends up having to pay back a lot of money to the distributor because the distributors ordered way too much product. So, we opted to not do that and just to do it as it’s being ordered. So, the best way to get a sense of what is being bought is to take it one step at a time. Basically, our manager Renata who is the computer genius in the family came up with this model– that we go ahead and release FLAC digital downloads and 320Kbps mp3’s and offer it at a reasonable price on the website first to get an idea of what was being sold. And, actually, it’s coming back that we are doing quite well on that. So, the little bit of money that has come in from that is being put into packaging now and getting more product out to people. On February 24th when it is on digital download sites like iTunes, Amazon, and Rhapsody–

Lisa: we have to mention TopSpin who has been with us since the very beginning and helped us get this up and going.

Wendy:  That’s right.

Lisa: I think it is important for people to know that what’s been really cool is that we’ve offered all of these different packages– including just single-song downloads– you know– to just the get things going. All we needed was just the first bit of artwork to have some design up on the webpage. So, you can download a single song, you can download the whole record, you can download the record plus order the CD when it becomes available– you can order the beautiful vinyl which we made a limited amount of– this blue-and-white splatter vinyl which is going to be FANTASTIC!

Wendy: Yeah, and the mastering on the record is FANTASTIC– it’s almost sounds better than the CD as far as I’m concerned.

Me: So, can you tell us a bit more about the vinyl pressing and who did the mastering?

Wendy: Yeah, Paul du Gré did the mastering of the vinyl and he’s from North Hollywood. He’s one of those guys who’s just done everything for ages– he’s a classic engineer, mastering and an audiophile kind of guy. You can Google “Paul du Gré” and find all kinds of wonderful things he worked on. The pressing is being done by Pirates Press using GZ Digital Media in the Czech Republic. There was a problem with doing the splatter– we found a plant that could pour the paint by hand instead of using machines. There is a whole environmental consideration and things like that. [It’s important to note, also that this first limited pressing will be in a gatefold sleeve. -ed]

To get people to pre-order these things over the website has allowed to finance getting these things done. I think it is helpful for other musicians to know that are trying to put things out– that you can start lining your ducks up and start selling things and it will help finance things like producing the product.

Lisa: For me, I feel like this is more satisfying than having a record deal.

Wendy: It really is, and more has come from this in satisfaction for us than any record label we’ve ever been signed to– and we’ve been signed to A LOT. And dropped from every one of them… This is so much better and I highly recommend it! Haha!

Me: So, did you create a label for this?

Wendy: Yeah, we just created our own thing.

Me: What is the label called?

Wendy: It’s called “Lisa Coleman/Wendy Melvoin” hehehe. Literally, that is what it is called. We don’t have a label name. It is just “L. Coleman/W. Melvoin”

Wendy: That’s it– we aren’t going to put out anyone else’s records.

Me: Well, yes I suppose you aren’t going to make a “Paisley Park” or something.

Wendy: Nah, it’s not going to happen for us.

Me: Will you be selling the LP without the CD at some point?

Wendy & Lisa: Oh, yes! Absolutely!

Me: It seems that the other part of the equation for working bands is touring and, in some cases the album is promoted by the touring. Do you see the success of this preventing the need to tour? Are you going to tour?

Wendy: We’re going to need to tour. All of this is leading into the two of us hopefully getting out this summer to do some gigs. We have so much work to do before we can even put our eye on that– but our sights are on being able to tour. I’d love us to be able to spend at least three months– six weeks here in the States to do just some key places and six weeks in over in Europe would be fantastic.

Lisa:  Yeah, it’s not a matter of even needing to tour, we really would like to tour.

Wendy: Yeah that’s true…

Lisa: …And play this record out and play these songs and give them a life. But, we don’t have the financing to rehearse a band and pay for hotels and travel and things like that so we’re trying to raise the money first. Maybe find some smart ways of doing it– maybe pairing it with another band or a promoter or something that makes sense.

Wendy: Or what we talked about before is that we have this group of musicians that we have this band with called Edith Funker. It has members of the Roots– ?uestlove on drums, Erykah Badu on vocals, My brother-in-law on guitar Doyle Bramhall [Wendy’s sister Susannah Melvoin is married to Doyle -ed], with [Susannah] doing vocals and guitar, James Poyser on keyboards with Lisa, me on guitar, this really phenomenal record producer-musician named Mike Elizondo on bass. And, we want to go out possibly as each other’s band.

Me: Oh, like a package tour!

Wendy: Yeah, a package tour. So, for like 45 minutes we’re Eryka’s band, and for 45 minutes they’re Wendy & Lisa’s band, and for 45 minutes we’re Doyle’s band– you know what I mean? Kind of do that. We’d love to make that happen.

Me: That would be really great!

Lisa: We think that would be the ideal thing, but you know it would be pretty hard to coordinate. Everybody’s doing their records and tours and things like that. We’re hoping maybe by summertime. Also, that’s when the TV season ends because our day job, of course, is scoring TV.

Wendy: “Nurse Jackie” and “Heroes.”

Lisa: Yeah, so after the TV season is over and everybody kind of gets done doing what they’re doing right now…

Wendy: Which is the end of April…

Lisa: Yeah, we’re going to try aim for late June or something around there to try to get out and do something like that.

Me: Are you going to try to hit the festivals?

Wendy: You know, if we could get that group of people together, I don’t even know that we have to do the festivals. We could probably get a venue on our own and make it a two-and-a-half, three hour event with all of those people– bypassing the festivals.

Me: By the way, I think that White Flags is a brilliant record. You have somehow managed to hit a lot of the buttons I care about in music.

Lisa: Oh wow, Thank you!

Me: I had a pretty tough time describing it while writing the one paragraph I did write for the article talking about the upcoming release. The record either sounds like it’s been a long time coming or– I don’t know. It’s all over the place and it has one sound– a consistent production value. I’m going to call it “shoegazer” because I don’t know what else to call it.

Wendy: Yeah, and I related to your comparisons, I do listen to Lush a little bit and My Bloody Valentine and Radiohead– of course and I feel those things when I hear this record as well.

You know, this has been a long time coming for us, this record.  We needed to start fresh. We didn’t really use anything that we had in the can from ten years ago, but we opted basically to let all that got to define who we are right now. After being in film composing and TV composing for this long and producing for other people and being on a million other records during this time and writing for other people. And, when we got the writer’s strike– for good or for bad– the strike allowed us the opportunity to get in our room, shut the door, turn the red light on and keep everybody out and make this record. We were lucky for the time– really lucky for it because I’m really proud of this record. When my kid’s a teenager, I wouldn’t hesitate handing him this record and say, “here, give this a listen.”

Lisa: It was like opening the flood gates for us, too. After having the responsibility to write music all the time, having the freedom to write music was a totally different experience. The things that came out of us were– and we’re guilty of being all over the place anyway because we love so many different kinds of music– we like to groove and we like to be introspective, we like to trip out and then we like to get really classy or intimate. So, all these things just started pouring out, and when we hit a certain song or a certain place after a month or so of writing we knew we had stumbled upon the sound that could carry through. There was even this Mellotron “voice” sound that I think we used on every song or as a way to segue between songs was the emotional thread through the album– like it was one story.

Wendy: Michael, when you listen to the LP, we actually made this– segued this so it would sound as if you were having the LP experience. It’s been so many years since people have had that mindset and boy do I miss it!

Lisa: To listen to a whole record and to have it be different– so many times I put on a record and then it’s kind of the same song over-and-over again. I’ve never liked that– I like records that have different feels on it, like it takes you on a trip.

Wendy: Yeah, like one of the coveted LP’s that I have is the Bill Evans/Claus Ogerman Symbiosis. Side A is all of the horn arrangements that Claus Ogerman did– Bill isn’t even playing on side A! Symbiosis is this composition where side A is playing at double-time and side B is an orchestra and the Bill Evans Trio playing it at half time. That’s a fucking LP experience to me! That, to me, is a high achievement.

Me: Was that a Prestige title?

Wendy: I think maybe it was.

[Although Evans famously recorded on Prestige, this 1974 release was originally released on the German label MPS. It was re-released on CD in 1995 on Verve Records and is now sadly out-of-print, however you can download mp3’s at Amazon. -ed]

Me: It sounds like I need to find that one– I like Bill Evans.

Wendy: You need to find that. It’s breathtaking. Michael, this LP is BREATHTAKING, it’s so beautiful! Side B– that’s the heartbreak side. Side A is more like the bible of harmonics.

Lisa: It’s almost Supersax, but really um…

Wendy: It’s more Steve Reich-ian meets Supersax.

[I had to stop myself from talking about Reich’s “Different Trains.” I saw the original configuration of Kronos Quartet performing this in Madison, WI in the early 90’s.]

Lisa: Way more sophisticated harmonically. It’s really, really cool.

Albums are so much better when they aren’t just a collection of singles. Even though there is a place for that– you can go buy the “greatest hits.”

Wendy: In defense of a lot of records out there, I think it is just the Pop stuff that is geared towards that. I listen to plenty of CD’s right now that aren’t a collection of singles. It’s too blanket of a statement– it’s just not true.

Lisa: Well, I just think with the failure of the record companies (assumes stuffy documentary voice) “in our historic times”– record labels have completely failed the art and it makes the art difficult to master. When you’re making a record, you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be aiming at. I think that Wendy and I in this situation had the perfect opportunity to not care about that. We had our studio already set up, we had been scoring TV, and the writer’s strike hit and we had nothing to do.

Wendy: It was a perfect storm.

Lisa: Right, exactly, so we were “snowed in,” had all this gear, all this inspiration and nobody to answer to except each other and we just started writing and it was such a gift to be able to do that.

Wendy: Even our engineer kept looking at us and saying “What kind of music is this? What is this?” Just go with it man, just go with it.

Lisa: “Is this supposed to sound like a rock record? Should I make it tight or loose? Should I use echo?” We said, “Just make it sound cool.” He has great taste and great ears and great techniques.

Wendy: We just guided him and said, “Stay there! Don’t move! That’s just where we want to be!”

Me: So, you did this in one sitting, effectively? It’s a bit astounding that you could achieve this record like that.

Lisa: Yeah, it was easy– well I shouldn’t say that and jinx myself! With the exception of “Niagra Falls,” which we re-recorded, yeah. We just have a lot of music in our bones. It just comes out.

Me: I haven’t had this record to listen to that long, but the two songs that stand out for me are “Niagra Falls” and “Sweet Suite.”

Wendy: Yeah, those are the two that a lot of people are gravitating towards.

Me: I have to say that out of the whole Revolution catalog “Sometimes It Snows In April” [from Parade] is probably my favorite song.

Wendy & Lisa (in unison): Wow, thank you!

Me: So, I hear “Sweet Suite” and I kind of hear that in there.

Wendy & Lisa: Yeah, for sure, definitely.

Lisa: “Sometimes It Snows In April” was really the pinnacle of our relationship together [with Prince]. The three of us had kind of a love affair. And when we wrote that song– again– it was just the three of us sitting together in a room. I really loved it, and I had hoped we would follow that trail further, you know? Like make a whole record like that or something. But, that didn’t happen.

Wendy: He opted out.

Me: And there was that B-Side to “Mountains” What was it, “Alexa de…”

Wendy: “Alexa de Paris.”

Me: Yeah..

Lisa: Oh, wow, yeah…

Wendy: That whole Parade record, that was a great time. Parade, and Sign O’ The Times. Actually, the three albums: All Around The World In A Day, Parade, and Sign O’ The Times, those were incredible records to make…

I’ll tell you what my friend– we don’t want to– but, we have to go. We have to deliver thirty minutes of music for “Heroes” for tomorrow morning and we’ve only done one reel out of five! We have a deadline…

Me: I really appreciate the time, ladies, and it was really great talking to you at the beginning of this phase in your career!

Below is a full-album stream of Wendy & Lisa’s new album White Flags of Winter Chimneys:

 

B-Sides in the Bins #22 – Cedar Rapids 2/22 & 2/23/08

Friday night Sherry was at a class, so I decided to hit Half Price Books before coming home from work. I also hit CD’s Plus on Saturday while I was out running some errands. I got some pretty cool stuff, including a CD that I was hoping to snag for a review from a label.

Prince – Purple Rain – 20th Anniversary (2 DVD, Warner Bros. 33533, 2004) ($9.98) One of the cool things about Half Price Books is that they get “cut outs” of CD’s and DVDs. They had two copies of this sealed and notched as cut-out. I had purchased not too long ago a copy of the 1997 release. I think it was in one of the bins at Wal-Mart. This was the “Standard Version” that was pan-and-scan 6×9. The 20th Anniversary version is 2 DVD with a second DVD dedicated to extras like a cool documentary on First Avenue where the live performances were filmed, a making of documentary with interviews with Dr. Z, Wendy and Lisa, Jimmy Jam and others. They also have a somewhat embarrassing “MTV Premiere Party” from the movie premiere complete with interviews of John “Cougar” Mellencamp, “Wierd Al” Yankovic, “rising star” Eddie Murphy, Wendy and Lisa, Little Richard who was in full Bible-thumping mode, and a self-important VJ Mark Goodman. An interesting view into the MTV promotional engine. Talk about non-sequitur interviewees! I guess Eddie Murphy and Little Richard make some kind of sense– but the “Wierd Al” and John Mellencamp interviews were certainly a stretch. Little Richard turned his interview into a thing about him and Murphy makes some funny digs about that. Mark Goodman goads Murphy unsuccessfully to do an impersonation of Prince, and then tries to get him to do an impersonation of James Brown. Eddie says, “I’ve already done that” and walks away. The bonuses also include all of the associated videos from Prince, The Time, and Apollonia 6. Wow, “Sex Shooter” was a really horrible song and even worse video.

As the story goes, Apollonia Kotero replaced Vanity (Denise Matthews) for the lead female part after Vanity broke up with Prince and went solo under a record contract with Motown. So, the remaining members of Vanity 6 (Brenda Bennett and Susan Moonsie) plus actress Patricia Kotero (renamed “Apollonia” by Prince) became Apollonia 6. The Vanity 6/Apollonia 6 girl group was an idea that Prince had for a while and of course created songs for. Apollonia 6 recorded one record tied in with the rest of the records associated with the movie and that was it. Kotero and group were supposed to open the tour with the Revolution and the Time but that never panned out. Interestingly, Prince apparently wrote “Manic Monday” which would eventually go to The Bangles (and likely specifically to Suzanna Hoffs) and “The Glamorous Life” which went to Sheila E. for the Vanity 6/Apollonia 6 projects. Coincidentally, both Vanity and Apollonia have become born-again Christians. Actually, Prince is too, I guess.

The movie is restored to Widescreen and remastered. The old release was really shoddy, and this one is a vast improvement. I see that there is a BluRay version of this available, too. I’ll probably upgrade this copy when I get a BluRay player.

Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2 (Or The Last Remains Of The Dodo) (CD, Superego Records, 2000) ($5.98) This is the album that followed the success of the soundtrack to Magnolia. It includes some of the songs from Magnolia– one as an instrumental. Aimee Mann is one of my favorite female musicians and her pairing with Jon Brion is perfect. The songs from Music from the Motion Picture Magnolia and this album would make a nice mix CD. Only “How Am I Different,” “Deathly,” and “You Do” are on both. “Nothing Is Good Enough” appears on the soundtrack as an instrumental.

This was a sealed copy or re-sealed. Aimee’s first release as an independent artist.

Mike’s Mann Mix for the Last Remains of the Magnolia

1. One (from Magnolia)
2. Momentum (from Magnolia)
3. Build That Wall (from Magnolia)
4. Deathly (from Magnolia or Bachelor No. 2)
5. Driving Sideways (from Magnolia)
6. You Do (from Magnolia or Bachelor No. 2)
7. Wise Up (from Magnolia)
8. Save Me (from Magnolia or Bachelor No. 2)
9. How Am I Different (Bachelor No. 2)
10. Nothing Is Good Enough (Bachelor No. 2)
11. Red Vines (Bachelor No. 2)
12. The Fall of the World’s Own Optimist (Bachelor No. 2)
13. Satellite (Bachelor No. 2)
14. Ghost World (Bachelor No. 2)
15. Calling It Quits (Bachelor No. 2)
16. Just Like Anyone (Bachelor No. 2)
17. Susan (Bachelor No. 2)
18. It Takes All Kinds (Bachelor No. 2)
19. Nothing Is Good Enough (Instrumental) (Magnolia)

Pylon – Gyrate Plus (CD, DFA 2181CD, 2007) ($5.98) This is one that I’d hoped would come to me as a promo for review, but at $5.98 used, it was worth buying. I was surprised to see its spine looking up at me from the bins. Pylon was one of the seminal Athens, GA bands and were contemporaries of the B-52’s. Started as a kind of side project for its members who really thought of themselves more of an art collective. They were inspired by the B-52’s very stripped down approach (at least in the early days). I think you can hear a lot of similarities in the tribal dance beats and angular guitars. I became familiar with Pylon through the documentary “Athens, GA Inside/Out” and their performance of “Stop It.” When I got to college in the late 80’s I met a guy named Tom Lally who had the Pylon records on vinyl. These were on the now-defunct DB Recs label. I had made a tape of Gyrate and Chomp. Pylon broke up after Chomp just as they were asked to open for U2. Pylon reformed in 1990 for Chain on the now defunct Sky Records. I bought Chain when it came out and the 1988 Hits compilation on DB Recs. Other than the few tracks on Hits, the tracks from Chomp have not seen re-release. I hope that DFA is planning to reissue Chomp as well.

Listening to these songs again for the first time since the Nineties, I can tell that my remedial bass-playing skills are very influenced by Pylon– especially the track “Volume” on Gyrate. Pylon got back together last year and played a handful of shows to promote this re-issue and there are a couple of them available via BitTorrent.

R.E.M. are fans of Pylon and covered “Crazy” on their Dead Letter Office album of B-Sides.

Click Here to visit Southern Shelter’s page of live mp3’s from Pylon.

Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog (CD, SubPop SPCD 710, 2007) ($7.99) I got this one from CD’s Plus. I was happy to have stumbled into this one. I was really impressed with Sam Beam’s collaboration with Calexico for the In the Reins EP. Shepherd’s Dog picks up nicely from there. Full instrumentals provided with help again from Joey Burns and Paul Niehaus. Very nice percussion one this record makes it kind of a toe-tapper for me. Sam’s voice is one of my favorites in indie rock today. Brilliant record, I can’t recommend it enough.

B-Sides in the Bins #20 – Cedar Rapids 12/07

During the month of December I made a number of stops at HalfPriceBooks in Cedar Rapids– while I was out Christmas shopping, waiting for an oil change. So, rather than break these up into separate posts, I’ll put them all together.

Prince – Controversy (LP, Warner Bros., BSK 3601, 1981) ($2.98) This was a real find. I haven’t seen much Prince vinyl in my digging so I was pretty happy to pick this one up. The cover is in good shape with little ringwear. The vinyl is in great shape. The poster of Prince in the shower in a bikini was still intact (and returned permanently to the sleeve– yikes!). When I was in high school I was a big fan of Prince, and really that was the best period of his music. My first exposure was 1999 and Purple Rain like most people I suppose. A friend of mine was also a big fan and we sort of collected all of Prince’s albums between us. I really haven’t listened to this album since then. Interestingly, this is credited only as a Prince album, but the backing musicians would eventually become The Revolution– Bobby Z (drums), Lisa and Fink (keyboards). There is a small tribute to Joni Mitchell in the cover art. The back cover has a bunch of fake headlines like “President Declares Uptown New U.S. Capitol,” “Do You Believe in God,” and “The Second Coming.” One of the headlines says “Joni.” He also contributed a cover of “A Case of You” to the Nonesuch Records tribute album to Joni.

Liz Phair – “Carnivore” b/w “Carnivore (Raw)” (7″ single, Minty Fresh mf-4, 1993) ($.98) Groovy pink and blue vinyl. I was never really a big fan of Liz– I liked Exile in Guyville, but didn’t continue to follow her career. She’s now flirting with the Avril Lavigne fans by creating guitar pop. This release was while she was still edgy, I guess. This will probably end up on eBay.

Pearl Jam – Christmas 2005 “Little Sister (with Robert Plant)” b/w “Gone” (7″ single, fanclub release, 2005) ($1.00) In the tradition of The Beatles and REM, Pearl Jam has been releasing Christmas singles since 1991. The only way you can get these (other than eBay) is being a member of the “Ten” fan club. This one is in really great shape other than an edge dent in the sleeve. There is a live version of “Little Sister” with Robert Plant from 10/5/05 at the Chicago H.O.B. Hurricane Katrina Benefit show. The flipside is a demo of “Gone” performed by Ed in a room at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Since I don’t have any of the other singles and can’t afford to pick them up on eBay, I’m going to eBay this as well. One went for $15 recently, so we’ll see.

Gov’t Mule – High & Mighty (CD, ATO Records, ATO0028, 2006) ($7.98) Well, I guess I was curious having seen them in Des Moines with Grace Potter. Warren Haynes is undeniably one of the great guitarists on the Jam scene today although he tends to stick to the tried-and-true blues progressions that give Mule releases that vintage 70’s classic rawk feel– I think some experimentation could breathe some life to the studio recordings. Recommended if you like Molly Hatchet, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, Blackfoot, big sweaty dudes playing Gibson guitars. BTW: Warren has some of the most impressive Gibsons I’ve ever seen and he plays quite a few during a live show. Visit this YouTube clip to see a cool interview with Warren’s guitar tech talking about the guitars used in High & Mighty.

Madlib – Shades of Blue : Madlib Invades Blue Note (CD, Blue Note Records, 7243 5 36447 2 7, 2003) ($5.98) This is a BMG Music Club release. I love all of the back catalog digging that Blue Note has embraced over the years. I have a lot of the releases like the US3 album, the Rare Grooves series, and a couple of others. While a lot of publishers would resist this sort of thing, I think the brand identity of Blue Note was rescued by it. The fantastic Madlib has his way with the Blue Note catalog creating some remixes. A really mellow acid-jazzy record.

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