The Collectibles

Rock music has had it’s share of collectibles.  But in no part of its long history have the collectibles been more freely distributed than in the late ’70s and early ’80s.  By then, Rock and Roll had fallen into the hands of independents who were unafraid of releasing a ton of extra material including non-LP singles and B-sides.

Of course, that period also provided cassette-only music, as well as a horde of limited colored vinyl in LP, EP, and 7″ single.  Many bands also delivered singles before they were famous in very limited quantities.  Soon enough, those singles were highly sought after even if they were re-released on newer albums.

Absolutely, this is one of the cool things that I loved about that period.  Even more mainstream label releases included collectible 7″ EPs inside of first pressing LPs.

The list is vast.  One of my more prized pick-ups was a VERY limited, pre-IRS illegal records issue of  “Disgracing The Family Name” b/w “”The Work Song” from that period’s most interesting entertainer, Skafish.  But there are more, many more.

What were your favorite collected rarities?  From any period.


TAPSheet: Release Notes – 10/29/2012 (US Report)

Who amongst you is displaying any excitement at the announced release of new Graham Parker & The Rumour material, Three Chords Good?  I have to admit, being a solid fan of Graham Parker and his collaboration with The Rumour, I’m quite anxious for its release, which is scheduled for CD and LP, both on November 20.

Geffen Select is planning on the compiled release for Muddy Waters of You Shook Me – The Chess Masters, Volume 3 (1958-1963), which is scheduled for December 18.

The rumor mill has it that Jimmy Page will reissue all Led Zeppelin titles in grand box sets that should include alternate takes of existing songs.  Now that is something to be excited for if anything else for the remainder of the year.  Thanks to Stephen T for the heads up on this bit of news, which was extracted from Mojo Magazine.

On November 19, Porcupine Tree will release a 2CD Live set called Octane Twisted, which will contain 21 performance tracks culled from the band’s Chicago show that supported Incident.  There is a Special Edition featuring a DVD that will be made available in a limited fashion and through restricted distribution points.

Fans of Interpol will be pleased to know (if you’re not already aware) that the band will reissue their first album, Turn On The Bright Lights, with a planned date of December 4.  The reissued set will contain 2CDs and a DVD.

Savoy Records will release La Costa Perdida from Camper Van Beethoven on January 22.

Megaforce Records will release Into The Future by Bad Brains on CD and vinyl LP scheduled for November 19.

I don’t know about you but I LOVED anything by Johnny Thunders especially his music with his Heartbreakers band.  In the case of this reissue, there will be made available a Definitive Edition of L.A.M.F. (1977) as an import title (I doubt that the US will EVER release any genuine obscurities like they did in the late ’70s/early 80s.  Sad, but there it is.  I’m in on this one.

Cleopatra Records will release a John Peel Sessions for Curved Air in their Live At The BBC Remastered series called Airwaves (Live At The Paris Theatre).  This collected set will feature live music from 1970, 1971, and 1976.  This 13 performance track set will also contain liner notes from Stewart Copeland.  The set is scheduled for November 27.

Frank Zappa‘s The Yellow Shark is set for release on December 4.

It’s pricey but it’s beautiful.  LP box coming for Pink Moon by Nick Drake, on December 4.

Darla Records will release Bandits Of Stature by Harold Budd on November 27.

Shout! Factory will release Live In California 1974 featuring Emerson, Lake & Palmer, on December 11.

Review: Crush Of Night – Izz

Izz returns with their 6th studio album, “Crush of Night”, and I am here to tell you it is a pleasure to listen to.  For those that are not familiar with Izz, they are a New York-based band that plays a real mix of old school Progressive Rock with a lot of modern-sounding elements.  So, think Yes and Gentle Giant foundations, move into early Spock’s Beard territory, then sprinkle with occasional Classical and Jazzy overtones (early Steely Dan) and you sort of get the picture.

What separates Izz from a lot of their contemporaries is their wall of sound vocals.  The three part harmonies are stunning and add a vitality and warmth to their music that is often missing in other bands.  You will not find much in the way of the darker side of Progressive here like Porcupine Tree.

They experiment with rhythm a great deal, much like their Gentle Giant influence.  They have two drummers, one electronic and one acoustic.  During any given song, you are likely to get a lot of dynamics – soft piano passages that break into frenetic guitar and keyboards and back again.  And these guys can play.  One of my favourite Progressive Rock guitarists is Paul Bremner, a Scot transplant, who has amazing technique and is a real chameleon with his playing.  He can play slow burn melodic runs like Andy Latimer (Camel) or he can blister with the best of them.  He doesn’t do Metal crunching which permeates a lot of Progressive these days, and that’s fine, as Izz’s style doesn’t warrant it.  (As an aside, I would recommend listening to his eclectic solo album, “Wombsong” (2003) – it is really fine.)

The other members are at the top of their game as well: AnMarie Byrnes – vocals; Brian Coralian – electronic and acoustic drums; Greg DiMiceli – drums and percussion; John Galgano – bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals; and keyboard wizard Tom Galgano, also on vocals.  On this album, guitarist and vocalist Gary Green, formally with Gentle Giant and now (last I heard) with Three Friends, guests on two tracks, a welcome rarity and worth the price of admission!  And another fine guitarist, Greg Meade, also guests.

I found “Crush of Night” lyrically interesting.  I could identify with a lot of what was written (in my own alleged mind) – the words come from the heart and reflect a lot about life – searching and discovery.  The CD is over 56 minutes and comprised of 7 tracks.  The song, “Crush of Night” is the second part of a two-song suite that is over 25 minutes total and rewarding.

Long tracks can sometimes be a bit much, but Izz create enough interest through their vocals and time changes that I find the album went by too fast. The album is part 2 of a planned trilogy that began with 2009’s “The Darkened Room”.  If you like “Crush of Night”, I encourage you to check out that album as well as their back catalogue as all are strong Progressive CDs in their own right.

If I have one criticism of the album, I would have preferred to have it end with “The Crush of Night” instead of the final song.  After becoming emotionally invested in the suite, I found “Almost Over”, though a good song, a bit intrusive and not in a style that blended well with the more powerful music that preceded it.  They do leave a slightly longer than usual gap between the tracks but I stand by my preference.

A word on the sound of this CD: I find that with “busier” music,  the bass is often relegated to a mushy, dark substance somewhere in the distance.  But Tom Galgano has done a great job in having all instruments up in the mix, including the great bass lines of John Galgano.  The overall production is loud, but that is why you have a volume control on your amp!  It is well mixed and has a great soundstage for those that care about these things.  I highly recommend Izz and think that if you are not familiar with the band, then Crush of Night is a great place to start.

Also, John Galgano has just released his first solo album, Real Life is Meeting, which I have not listened to yet.

The band can be explored more at their website.

Release Date: May 01, 2012

–Bob Metcalf

LPs Not On CD

I’m sure you know what I am talking about – those cherished LPs you still have in your collection or had traded away long ago because the major record labels once stated (and more than once): “Every LP will eventually be reissued on CD”.  Little did we know that it was not to be.

I’m sure you have your favourites you want on CD and know lots of people who have theirs.  I will tell you that I have replaced nearly all my old LPs with CDs, and many of those I have purchased more than once as the technology improved and remastering and remixing became better.  I cringe at some that I have purchased 4 times (Ziggy Stardust is one offhand – by the way, the newest reissue is quite fine).  And yet, there are those others that should have at least one crack at the digital format.  So without further adieu, here are my top four LPs that I want on CD:

Glencoe – Glencoe

Released in 1972, this is one of my favourite all-time albums.  At times Crosby, Stills and Nash-like, at other times touches of Wishbone Ash and Home, this collection of songs is some of the most satisfying I have heard on one LP.  There’s enough rocking out too to keep you interested from track to track.  I’ve sent emails to small labels, asked about it at Sony (who now have the rights to Epic, the original label), but until recently got nowhere.  I even went so far as to order the CD from a vinyl copy store, got it, and wouldn’t you know it, the edit on the first track was wrong.  “Airport”, one of their best singles, was recorded in one take, and at the end of the song, you hear conversation between the producer and the band – missing on this copy.  But recently I have heard that Esoteric Records is considering remastering it – so fingers crossed.  Glencoe made a second album as well, Spirit of Glencoe, which I hope to see released.

Tranquility – Silver

Some years ago, Rock and Groove Records released Tranquility’s first self-titled album on CD.  They acquired the rights through Sony (again on Epic).  They had every intention of releasing Silver too, but there was a problem over the cost of the rights and it was never released.  Another major shame here.  The first album is great, but Silver is exquisite.  Absolutely beautiful layers of vocals on top of gorgeous arrangements, with one foot in the Progressive realm and one in folk-rock.  As legend has it, they preceded Yes at one concert venue and were not allowed to leave by the fans, they were that good.

Buckingham Nicks – Buckingham Nicks

Before Mick Fleetwood asked them to join Fleetwood Mac, there was this amazing album.  If you liked the first two Macs with Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham, and there are probably 50 million or so of you out there, then this is a must for your collection.  They own the rights to this, and just haven’t gotten around to releasing it on CD “yet”.  By all accounts, this is the most requested LP to CD transfer IN THE WORLD!!!  If either of you two are reading this, please get going – I ain’t gettin’ any younger.

 Argent – Counterpoints

The last Argent album was very overlooked.  If you liked Circus, then you will like this one too.  Admittedly, not as strong as the early albums, but why in the world have there been multiple releases of each one of their other albums and not one crack at this one?  I have to admit, too, that I am a bit of a completest so this just irks me.

So those are my top four.  Interested in sharing yours?

–Bob Metcalf

Music From All The Wrong Places

Nothing is more crushing than having your complete stereo setup packed into protective boxes, and stored a mere 2000+ miles away from your present location.  Yeah, I have a laptop (speakers suck), a CD player (portable, and desktop – better but highly inconvenient, and the car player (which REALLY sucks).

All of this is killing me.  And while four remaining months (actually more as I still have to acquire a new house when I get back to IL), seems light, it might as well be the rest of my life.

Music is a lifelong acquiring.  Everyday brings something new, something remembered, something expanded, something beautiful.  But if you do not have proper playback, then you get a ghost of a playback, a hint of its fullness.

But that’s not the only problem.  Another is the fact that not only is my stereo system 2000 miles away, much of my collection is there as well.  In cold, dark storage.  Away from my ears, and my head (which desires a constant renewal of sound, no matter how old).

“Music, I never told you, but I’ll be yours until you’re old.  Please try to call me in your dreams (yes, music dreams too), the way I’m looking at you is just as it seems.”  Forgive the slight replacement of music for robin in Carly Simon’s gorgeous, “His Friends Are More Than Fond of Robin” from her timeless classic, No Secrets.  But it sure works here.

I can’t wait to be reunited with a world of richness once again.  Preserve me until then.

What I’m listening to now:


Review: Emerson, Lake & Palmer / Tarkus – ELP

The two widely (wildly) anticipated reissues of Emerson, Lake & Palmer classic titles, ELP, and Tarkus, have kept fans on the edge of their seats until their release last month.  Remastered (remixed) by new, top of the heap, board master, Steven Wilson (he of Porcupine Tree), the two albums have now taken on further legendary status by his adept skills and evident love with classic music.

Several weeks ago, our excellent reviewer of all things progressive (and other arcane beauties), revisited one of these Wilson-remixed ELP titles on this site (read here).

I wanted to jump in and provide my short piece on both titles.  Most important, and especially in these times, classic title improvements, especially complete definitive editions, seem to warm our hearts quite a bit.  Although some would argue that sometimes there comes a time when the it is right to quit bleeding titles on fans in hopes of greater profit margins, I would fall into a different category.

I love that a constant flow of attention is being paid to titles that many of us grew up with.  With improving technologies that can consistently deliver greater sonic beauty (in the hands of masters such as Steven Wilson), and collectible materials that include not only demos, alternate versions of known songs, rare live performance tracks, etc, but also memorabilia, photos, all usually included in expanded booklets, and in the case of Super Deluxe Editions, collectible hard-backed and jam-packed books that complete definitive editions.  ( But Super Deluxe Editions are of another discussion.)

With the release of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and later release, Tarkus (both reissued in the US on Razor & Tie), the definitive editions of both titles have become interesting collectibles.

ELP, originally released in 1970, is represented here with three discs.  The first CD contains the original album as remastered by Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham.  However, the true star is the DVD included with the Steven Wilson 5.1 and Stereo remixes.  This DVD-Audio is completely filled with wonderful sounding versions of the album you fell in love with.  But if that were not enough, there are extras.  The DVD-Audio throws in a few bonus songs as well (Alternate Takes and Alternate versions).

The second disc contains what is referred to as The Alternate ELP with the new Wilson Stereo remix on a CD making portability an essential.  Added to all of that is a 16-page booklet that delivers photos, and insightful write-ups.

The same is generally true of Tarkus.  Released in 1971, this album also grew in the hearts of engaged fans.  This set is complete with the original album on disc one, while disc two contains The Alternate Tarkus, with bonus material in the new Wilson Stereo remix.  The DVD-Audio, like the ELP album, is complete with 5.1, and Stereo mixes playable in the higher quality DVD playback that will please you.

Like the ELP tri-fold softpack set, this Tarkus reissue has a 16-page booklet included with excellent photos, and write-ups in a great layout.

You don’t need my review of the album’s original material.  Your mind is already made up on that.  If you want a sonic description of what is in these title, read Bob Metcalf’s excellent review (here) posted a few weeks earlier.

I’m just here to tell you that these titles are must-haves, especially if you have only early CD issues.  Even if you have the excellent Shout! Factory reissues, these are superior replacements in several ways, the most enticing being the Wilson mixes.

I recommend them…both of them.  And I look forward to the Trilogy reissue most.  Now, I salivate.

Release Date: September 25. 2012

–Matt Rowe

Review: Get All You Deserve – Steven Wilson – BD

This is an over two-hour concert film of Steven Wilson’s Grace for Drowning tour recorded in Mexico City earlier this year. This set includes the BluRay disc, the duplicate on DVD and 2 CDs of the entire concert as well. There is not much in the way of extras – a picture gallery and a travel film with additional “sound track” music by the band. But let’s be clear – this is an awesome musical and visual set that should not be missed if you are a fan of Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson or simply a fan of great music and fantastic playing. The band basically covers his Grace solo outing, plus some other tracks including a new one. To my eyes and ears, this is one of the finest concert films I have ever seen.

The stunning film clips, lighting and stage production are by Lasse Hoile, who has worked with Steven many times in the past, including most of his videos. Still photos, film edits and other visuals are constantly shown on a back screen that is made of semi-transparent gauze. At times it seems the musicians are being seen through an otherworldly mist, depending on the tempo and mood of the piece being played. The lighting is sometimes forceful and dramatic especially during some of the percussion interludes, and at other times soft and gentle. The film was created using many cameras handled by an expert Mexican film crew so that all of the musicians were captured in logical sequences and you are placed at times on the stage with the musicians and at other times in the audience to great effect.

Steven Wilson is the conductor here, besides playing guitar and keys. His hand movements, his stage roaming and his overall “busyness” act as a focal point to the music being played. It is interesting that he started out as a reluctant front man with Porcupine Tree, but he has embraced his lead role wholeheartedly as displayed during this tour. He has assembled one heck of a great band here: Marco Minneman (Eddie Jobson, The Aristocrats) on drums; Adam Holzman (Miles Davis) on keyboards; Nick Beggs (Kajagoogoo, Steve Hackett) on bass and stick; Niko Tsonev (session work) on guitar; and Theo Travis (Robert Fripp, Porcupine Tree, The Tangent) on sax, flute and keys. And they are so tuned to Steven and his music that it is a pleasure to watch them work through the compositions.

Marco Minneman is one of the world’s finest drummers – Steven said in an interview that much of the live show centered on him, and that is obvious. He is the heart and pulsating engine of the concert. Adam Holzman is a ridiculous keyboardist, with some runs that make your jaw drop. Nick Beggs is a solid bass player, definitely in the Tony Levin camp, especially on the stick and he also provides the backing and harmony vocals. Niko Tsonev, a Bulgarian working out of London, England, is a guitarist’s guitarist. At times he has the same approach as Alan Holdsworth, at times Robert Fripp, and at other times he reminds me of Reeve Gabrels (David Bowie’s Tin Machine). In other words, he is up there! Theo Travis truly shines throughout all the pieces as well – his flute and saxes aren’t just for the occasional fill, but create entire soundscapes during many of the instrumental passages.

If you know Steven’s solo work, then you know the songs, but what makes this set so incredible is the freedom that the musicians have to expand on the originals and really spread out. Over the course of the concert there are jazzy melodies, dark and swelling walls of sound, metal chords, acoustic beauty and everything in between. At times I can hear Caravan, King Crimson, Opeth, Return to Forever and of course Porcupine Tree. And the sequences are so well put together that nowhere during the show does “sameness” become a problem. Steven also plays some wonderful guitar as well, indicating to me how underrated a guitarist he is.

To give you an idea of how powerful the set is, it begins with Marco alone at centre stage on his kit as he begins a complicated drumbeat. Then Nick Beggs walks on and takes up the bass, now playing his part in counterpoint with Marco’s drums. And the other musicians in turn proceed to their spots, each in turn contributing amazing solo work in the midst of the basic melody that keeps expanding. Steven Wilson then comes on the stage and off they go!

The show ends with the sequence in reverse, a very dramatic ending to a major concert release. There is an encore of course!

The audience is quite respectful throughout the concert, and is basically mostly unnoticeable when the band is playing, even during the quieter pieces. So crowd noise is at a minimum, loud audience noise being a personal gripe of mine on concert recordings. The sound for all the discs in the set have been mixed by Steven Wilson, so you know the audio is impeccable as always. The CDs, by the way, have excellent sound too, but I have to admit that the sound on the BluRay is so powerful that it was a little bit of a letdown to hear it on CD.

I would highly recommend this incredible concert. If you were not familiar with Steven Wilson or his work with Porcupine Tree or No-man, then this would be an excellent way to hear and “see” the music of one of the most influential artists of the past two decades.

Release Date: September 25, 2012

–Bob Metcalf

TAPSheet: Release Notes – 10/24/2011 (US Report)

Mercury Records plan a Super Deluxe CD/BD reissue of 2112 from Rush on December 18.

Atlantic Records have put together a 2CD collection for Aretha Franklin entitled 30 Greatest Hits, and will release the set on December 20.

Atlantic Records also has Unorthodox Jukebox by Bruno Mars on the calendar for December 11.  The set will be released on CD, LP, and an edited version of the CD.

PLE Records will release 180g vinyl LP (Limited Edition Red Colored vinyl) of Selections From The Headquarters Sessions featuring The Monkees.  It’s planned for November 19.

Universal Republic will release Amy Winehouse at the BBC on CD planned for November 13.

Rounder Records will release an currently untitled new album from Son Volt on March 5.

Geffen Records will release Almeria by Lifehouse on December 11 including a Deluxe Edition of the title.

Universal Republic will also release Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild One by Black Veil Brides on January 8.

Vinyl Dept: Elektra Records will reissue Television favorite, Marquee Moon, on 180g LP on December 4.  There will only be 3000 pressed so if you want one, don’t wait too long.

Rhino Records will reissue Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette on 180g vinyl LP with a planned date of December 4.

Concord Records will release Get Up! from Ben Harper on January 29.

Fuel Records will release The Very Best Of Buster Benton, The Very Best of Little Joe Blue, and The Very Best of Frank Frost on December 4.

Interscope Records have 200k/hr In The Wrong Lane from t.A.T.u. slated for release on November 19.

Vagrant Records have Wonderful, Glorious coming from The Eels and planned for February 5.

Zappa Records have added a 2CD Understanding America from Frank Zappa to the calendar for release on October 30 (around the corner).

INgrooves plan the live release of The Long Goodbye – LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden, on November 19.

UMe will reissue The Gift from The Jam on December 4.  Nice news for US fans.

UMe will also release The Pogues – In Paris on December 18.

Avenue Records will reissue The World Is A Ghetto by War on December 11.

AND a nice piece of noise for you:  A 40th Anniversary Edition of the 1973 self-titled debut from Bachman Turner Overdrive is scheduled for November 6.  BTO was one of my favorite albums, more than their other releases despite having fewer hits.  But with songs like “Gimme Your Money Please”, the rousing “Stayed Awake All Night”, “Little Gandy Dancer”, “Hold Back The Water””, and the equally excellent “Thank You For The Feelin'”, along with the unnamed tracks from this album, help make this classic deserving of a 40th Anniversary Edition.

Did I make up for my week-long absence?

Opinion: Doom and Gloom, New Rolling Stones Track

I’m always all about the Stones.  But in the last ten years, I’ve realized their best song-writing years may be far, far behind the Glimmer Twins.  Today, The Stones released one of their two new tracks (likely to fish out commentary on whether it’s worth more studio time…or not.

Well, I’ve listened to it and I have to say, I’m vastly underwhelmed.  It comes off like a track written on the fly because well, “we have a ‘best of’ in the works’ and it could use the heft.

Honestly, guys, you could just leave well enough alone, or put some quality time into it like The Cars did with their last (and recently released) effort after several decades.  Even Stevie Nicks put out a memorable album, as did the most recent Little Feat album.

The short take is that I don’t like the song.  I may never like the song.  But here it is for you to decide if it was worth the studio time that it took to record it.

On Super Deluxe Editions

After yesterday’s post on the UK reissue of The Slider (which I’m totally salivating for), I began to wonder about the mechanism in place for what becomes a grandiose Anniversary set, and which do not.  After I completed said contemplation, I merely became depressed realizing that most of my wish list would never see the light of day as a definitive 40th Anniversary packaged Box, worthy of a picked spot on my shelf.

Since 40th Anniversary sets and the ubiquitous Super Deluxe Editions are beginning to become popular (for those that tolerate such expansive – and pricey – indulgences), it is only right that I hope for more of my favorites to be given such attention.

And while we wait, and perhaps despair, I thought it might be fun to peruse some unused corners of our minds to decide which titles are coming up on their 40th Anniversary (or greater, or lesser), that we would love to see as upgraded Super Deluxe Editions, you know, the whole works, vinyl, books, CDs, DVDs, and all.

For me, I was rather disappointed to NOT see No Secrets from Carly Simon given the upgraded 40th Anniversary love.  There are other disappointments as well.  Coming up would be Close To The Edge by YES, which I still want to see in a high resolution sound.  And yes, we know that the DVD-Audio of that album was completed.  And we never got it.

Still, Close To The Edge is one that I would love to see given the wild, way-out Super Deluxe Edition treatment.  How about School’s Out by Alice Cooper?  I need a bit to gather up a list.  While I do that, how about you?  Have a title or ten that would knock you to the floor with an announced Super Deluxe Edition?