American Beat Records has released over 35 titles of albums that get little attention from labels otherwise. And we’re all about getting our music especially when that music is already scarce. Touted as the Reissue Series, these re-releases oftentimes contain bonus cuts that add to the album even if they do not always represent the period that the recording took place in. Take Graham Parker’s scathing attack on Mercury Records in song form as an example. In this series, one of two Parker albums available, Another Grey Area, originally released by Arista in 1982, contains “Mercury Poisoning” as its bonus cut. On that song, Parker sings about being “…the best kept secret in the West…,” a statement he made that Mercury Records (his label for several excellent releases that includes Heat Treatment) deliberately failed to promote them aggressively enough even though their star was rising. Funny enough was the fact that Mercury Records unknowingly released the song as a single. Its inclusion on this reissue album is quite a nice bonus for Parker fans. I remember having to hunt for it back in the day.
The booklets are 4-page affairs with all of the appropriate credits and song titles including some album art. In short, much of the material you found on the LP issue, you’ll likely find here. There isn’t any remastering on any of these CDs but the music is the primary draw of these releases. On some of these affordably priced CDs, you even get a 2-fer special. One of those is a 2-album package of Fresh Fish Special and the Gordon self-titled debut, Robert Gordon with Link Wray. His rockabilly works extended through several more classics on RCA Records (and I hope show up in subsequent reissues on American Beat) and so it’s nice to be able to pick up at least some of these in the US at a reasonable price point.
If you remember Black Oak Arkansas, the southern rock n roll giants that flashed brilliantly for such a short time, their single LP Live document (Live Mutha!) is within this series although with no bonus tracks. Another live album is the 2 album Ian Hunter Live from the support tour for Ian Hunter’s spectacular You’re Never Alone With a Schizophrenic LP. On this album there are familiar Hunter tracks as well as Mott the Hoople songs. There are 4 bonus tracks inserted that include “One of the Boys,” “Golden Age of Rock and Roll,” “When the Daylight Comes,” and a medley of tunes in “Medley: Once Bitten, Twice Shy/Bastard/Cleveland Rocks,” songs that are also on here in their full form. For those that are familiar with rock and roll trees as they play out from various bands, you’ll recognize “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” a Mick Ronson song from one of his own solo sets; Ronson was a member of Bowie’s famed Spiders from Mars band as well as joining Mott the Hoople in their dissipating last days of Hunter.
American Beat also releases “first time on CD” albums beginning with a solo album by Ian Hunter called All of the Good Ones Are Taken, originally released in 1983 but never on CD, which contains the excellent “Seeing Double,” (that’s Clarence Clemons on sax in there) and also contains a bonus cut of the single version of “Traitor.” There are country classics (John Anderson, George Jones/Tammy Wynette, Carlene Carter), rock obscurities (early David Johansen, Zebra, Billy Squier), and a whole lot of goodies.
I like the start that American Beat has taken to help shore up the “forgottens” in the CD world but with a literal mountain to climb, they sure have their work cut out for them. I’m hoping that they begin to assemble Deluxe Special Limited Editions of some classic “forgottens.” I’m going to suggest Crawler with their two excellent Epic recordings, Crawler (“Stone Cold Sober”), and Snake Rattle & Roll. I can envision dynamic digipak editions, with embossed covers, and crammed full of remastered original material as well as some bonus cuts, live and otherwise (there are a wealth of these and the singer, Terry Wilson would be willing to help here, I’m sure, as would be Bundrick after the Who tour). I can imagine a bonus DVD of live material and interviews as well as live support shows. Of course, my imagination is running away from me but, if well supported, American Beat could provide some of these as well as many more like the releases they already provide.
Following this is a list of available releases from the company. If you see any that strike your fancy, consider it an opportunity to shore up your library. A while back, we accumulated a list of interesting titles that we would buy. We’re forwarding that list. But if you can think of anymore, send them on. I’ll forward those as well. Maybe you’ll end up with a dream disc.