Make Your RSVPs for RSD

I had started this Record Store Day list a couple months ago, got busy with other things and now RSD is just days away. But I still wanted to send out a shout out on a number of releases that caught my eye. These are just a fraction of June 12’s RSD offers.

Let’s start off with some cool compilations. 

Org Music is offering the 8th volume of their Having a Party: Sun Records Curated by Record Store Dayseries. The limited edition LP, curated from the legendary Sun Records catalog, has Jerry Lee Lewis, Bettye Lavette, Rosco Gordon, and Linda Gail Lewis tracks among the selections. 

Craft Recordings presents a deluxe 3 LP reissuing of Chicago/The Blues/Today! This Vanguard Records’ historic trilogy contains recordings by The Junior Wells Chicago Blues Band, J.B. Hutto And His Hawks, Otis Spann’s South Side Piano, The Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, Otis Rush Blues Band, Homesick James And His Dusters, Johnny Young’s South Side Blues Band, The Johnny Shines Blues Band and Big Walter Horton’s Blues Harp Band with Memphis Charlie. Craft also has a selection of classic and rare R&B, doo-wop and soul tracks from the catalogs of Fania, Stax, Vee-Jay on Dedicated To You: Lowrider Love.

The fine folks at Legacy is presenting the first vinyl release ofGolden Gate Groove: The Sound Of Philadelphia Live In San Francisco 1973, which features the rare performances by the stars of Philadelphia International Records (including The O’Jays, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, The Three Degrees, and Billy Paul) at CBS Records Convention in 1973. 

Sundazed salutes another Philly label with its Ladies Choice: The Pen Of Swan Records compilation (on LP & CD). You’ll late Fifties and Sixties vintage songs from the likes of Ginger Davis And The Snaps, The Tomboys, Kathy Lynn And The Playboys, and Patty Saturday. 

Punk/New Wave fans of a certain ages will be interested to know about Buzzcocks: A Different Compilation on Cherry RedThe Raybeats: The Lost Philip Glass Sessions (Featuring Philip Glass & Michael Riesman) on Ramp LocalThe Selecter: Live In Coventry ’79 (Two Tone Records) and Echo & The Bunnymen: Live In Liverpool, a double LP on Demon Records

Jungle has the Heartbreakers’ L.A.M.F. – The Found ’77 Masters, while L.M.L.R. has Iggy PopLive at the Channel in Boston (on pink + yellow splatter vinyl). Terminus Records has a trio of special releases on June 12: the vinyl debut of Piedmont bluesman Precious Bryant‘s 2002 Fool Me Good; Col. Bruce Hampton‘s 1987 album Arkansas, and the ever-eclectic Danny BarnesDirt On The Angel (2003), which features special guests including pianist Chuck Leavell, guitarist Bill Frisell, violinist Darol Anger and multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell.

Omnivore Recordings is delivering LP versions of Richard Hell And The Voidoids’ Destiny Street Demos and Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey’s Our Back Pages while New West Records has a 2-LP edition of Warren Zevon’s rare recordings compilation Prelude and a double A side 7’’ of the song “The Saint Of Lost Causes,” one rendition performed by its songwriter Justin Townes Earle and one by Steve Earle and the Dukes.

Among Real Gone Music’s RSD titles, Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers is June 12’s highlight and Dekād is July 17’s highlight. The former is a controversial 2005 solo project from Devo’s Gerald V. Casale that features his bandmates. This expanded Red Vinyl Edition includes a newly-recorded bonus track, “I’m Gonna Pay U Back,” which also features Devo band members as well as Oingo Boingo’s lead guitarist Steve BartekDekād is the 2-LP vinyl distillation (in clear pink!) of Decade, the massive 2020 11-CD retrospective of Steve Wynn’s rare and unreleased recordings from 1995-2005

WEWANTSOUND has a vinyl reissue of Frank Foster’s 1972 album, The Loud Minority, the Bob Shad-produced album boasts an all-star cast including Elvin Jones, Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira and Cecil & DeeDee Bridgewater(with a big booklet featuring an introduction by Mia & Judd Apatow). The label also has a vinyl version of Michel Legrand’s rare soundtrack, La Piscine that comes with Legrand’s much admired 7’’ “Un Homme Est Mort” among the bonus tracks.

World Music Networks has a trio of Rough Guide LPs: Booze & Blues, Blues Behind Bars, and Gamblin’ & Ramblin’ BluesMUNICH/V2 BENELUX has Albert Collins & Barrelhouse: Albert Collins & Barrelhouse Live and Lightning Rod Recordings’ Johnny Paycheck: Uncovered: The First Recordings offer blues of a country kind (to stretch things a bit)

Oh, if you are looking for something special to play your new albums on, Crosley Radio has partnered with Apple Corps Ltd for a nifty The Beatles Yellow Submarine Portfolio Turntable.

And, of course, these releases are scattered around various record stores so you’ll need to search around for what your local stores have. But that’s part of the fun, right?

Also don’t forget there’s another Record Store Day on July 17!

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Carlene Carter Presents Two “A Meeting In The Air” Livestream Shows In June

I discovered that Carlene Carter is presenting a couple of special livestreams performances this month. So, I wanted to pass along this news for two reasons. One reason is that they sound like terrific events (and more on them below). 

The other reason is Carlene Carter holds a special place for this blog since, as any Carlene Carter fan would realize, Musical Shapes is the name of her great 1980 album. When I was searching around, oh those many years ago, for a blog name, Musical Shapes really jumped out as a perfect one to use. Not only do I love the album, but also because it reflects an openness to explore all shapes of music – as well as subject matters – in this blog. So, thank you, Carlene for that. 

But onto her A Meeting In The Air livestreams. On June 17, she’ll do a show focusing on the Carter Family’s important, and ongoing, legacy. And her special guests for that show will include Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, The War and Treaty, and Elizabeth Cook, as well as Carlene’s daughter, Tiffany Anastasia Lowe, and cousin Lorrie Carter Bennett. All of the guests join Carlene for the closing rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”  

You can see a teaser of this performance at

Her second performance, happening June 24, is center on Carlene’s impressive solo career over the year, including some songs that she hasn’t played in decades.  For this show, you can expect a few cool “remote ‘pop-in howdys’ from some household names.

The fabled Cash Cabin was the site for both events. At the shows, Carlene will be backed by her band The Lucky Ones, which features multi-instrumentalist Al Hill, guitarist Chris Casello, drummer John McTigue and bassist David Spicher

Carlene says this two-show series is entitled A Meeting In The Air “after an old Carter Family song and with so many of us interacting with each other online during the pandemic we really have been ‘meeting in the air’.” She adds that “there are no overdubs; we did this all live. The thing I wanted to do most of all is bring joy to the world and show people the joy I feel when I play this music.”

The digital platform Mandolin is presenting these “A Meeting In The Air” events; tickets are available at 

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A Read Through “Swim Through The Darkness”

I’m known in my family as the one who doesn’t read books. Well more precisely, the one who doesn’t finish books. And it’s not the books fault, it’s mine. Which is a long away around to say that it isn’t author Mike Stax‘s fault that I have only finished his quite engrossing 2016 book: Swim Through The Darkness: My Search For Craig Smith And The Mystery Of Maitreya Kali

As the title suggests, this isn’t a standard biography. It’s more of Mike Stax’s investigation into the mysterious life and times of Craig Smith, whose story is quite a fascinating one. 

A rising star in the early ‘60s, Craig Smith first found success as a member of The Good Times Singers, who backed up Andy Williams on his popular TV variety show. Smith also had songs he had written covered by Williams, Glen Campbell, and The Monkees. In 1966, he co-starred a network TV pilot, The Happeners, a drama about a folk-rock trio, which seemed like a sure thing to be picked up but ABC rejected it. The Monkees’ Mike Nesmith acted as the manager/producer for Smith’s band, Penny Arkade, which appeared to be on the brink of stardom (or, at least, a record deal) around 1967-68. 

Penny Arkade in the studio around 1967. Credit: Chris Ducey

Sadly, the group achieved neither. Their recordings only were released by Sundazed Records in 2004, with the noted rock historian Richie Unterberger describing the the group as “quite a good Southern Californian folk-rock-psychedelic band.” Moreover, Smith actually never had a properly released album. 

Before going further, I just want to say that I didn’t read this book to review it, so I didn’t make copious notes like I would have. However, the book really captured my interest, which is why I decided to write about it and spread the word.

Stax, a respected music writer and historian who has published the music history magazine Ugly Things for several decades, spent over a dozen years researching this book and hunting for Craig Smith. Swim Through The Darkness is like one of those mystery novels that follows a detective’s search for a person, finding out a lot about the person without ever finding them. Even though he didn’t come up with all the answers about Smith’s life, Stax pieces together a story that proves to be very absorbing in its own right.

Stax nicely creates a portrait of Smith’s life through the end of the Sixties. He makes terrific use of his substantial interviews with many of people who were close to Smith, including his old bandmates such as Chris Ducey, who formed the duo with Smith that evolved into the Penny Arkade and arguably was Smith’s most significant musical collaborator. Reader get a real sense of band growing together; their time working with Nesmith (who Stax also interviewed); the promise that they had for success and how it was never fulfilled. 

The book offers an interesting glimpse too into the free-wheeling, but still rather innocent scene of L.A. in the mid-to-late Sixties. Smith, even though just orbiting around the fringes of the big time, still was inside the Monkees circle; friendly with various Beach Boys, and crossed paths with Frank Zappa too. (by the way, don’t look for quotes from Beach Boys Mike Love and Brian Wilson because they declined to participate in this book as did Craig’s brothers). 

If Craig Smith seemed on the brink of real success in the mid-60s, it is easy to say that he also fell off that brink by the decade’s end. A talented musician with all-American looks, Smith found his road to stardom taking a horribly wrong turn when he started dabbling in LSD and then headed off for a pilgrimage in Asia along the “Hippie Trail” to find the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (not an uncommon trip during that time)

Craig Smith circa 1969

Something bad, however, happened to Craig during this trip. No one has a definitive explanation as to what exactly, but he returned a changed, and rather damaged, man. He became a rather messianic figure, got deeply into meditation, and took the name Maitreya Kali. His behavior turned erratic and off-kilter. 

The second half of the book is punctuated with recollections from old friends like Heather MacRae (daughter of actor Gordon MacRae), actress/singer Suzannah Jordan (who co-starred in an unsuccessful pilot with Smith and Ducey), and long-time friends The Clinger Sisters (four singing sisters who found some success in the music business). Nearly everyone talks about how the charismatic, clean-cut Smith seemed destined for success and share their sad encounters with a disheveled, crazy-looking Smith in his later years. 

The Clinger Sisters performing their 1969 Kim Fowley-produced single “Gonna Have A Good Time Tonight”

A real strength of this book is the really phenomenal job Stax did tracking down a wealth of people – the major and minors ones in Smith’s life. Many of these bit players, in fact, wind up with larger roles since the “headliner,” Craig Smith, starts fading into darkness during the book’s second half.

Case in point: Stax tracked down the detective and the deputy district attorney who were involved in the arrest and conviction of Craig for assaulting his mother in 1973. While neither specifically remembered Craig or the case, they offered insights into criminally justice system of the early 70s. 

Providing a better picture of the Craig Smith during this time period are Lisa Udwin and Rafael Espericuata, who were teens when they met Craig around L.A. in the early 70s. Lisa, a 17-year-old UCLA freshman in 1972 when she met Craig (who was around 27 then), recalls him being sweet but also odd enough that she not only resisted his romantic advances but pushed him out of her life too. 

Rafael hung out with Craig for a time in the early 70s, having exploits motorcycling around Southern California, doing meditation and making music; he too found Smith interesting but also a little strange. Stax even meets a woman who encountered Smith in 2009 while she managed an apartment building. She too described the then homeless Smith as being nice and kind, although smelling badly.

Two of the people I found most intriguing were Mary Hurley and Ann Dignan, a pair of seemingly typical  23-year-old women from North Dakota who were taking a cultural journey along the Hippie Trail. They travelled with Craig for a little in Asia before going their separate ways (and Craig’s way led him to whatever mysterious misadventure he experienced over there). Their recollections made me curious to read a full memoir of their trip (with and without Craig). 

Craig and Cheryl 1970 photo courtesy Cheryl Starstrong

Offering glimpses into Craig’s dark side are his one-time girlfriend Cheryl Knickelbein (now Cheryl Starstrong) and her friend, Dyane Quinn. Cheryl speaks about the rather creepy intensity of his feelings for her as well as the weird things he’d talk about during their tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship. Her final breaking point was one night when Craig turned angry and violent for no reason.

Craig wrote a passionate love song to her, entitled “Cheryl” of course. The song later appeared on Inca, one of the two albums that he self-released under the name Maitreya in 1971-72; the other album was entitled Apache. Both covers look like they were designed by a crazy man.

While barely heard when Smith made them, his albums ironically have become collectors’ items over the years, and they were reissued together as a double LP in 2019. To accompany the book’s publication, an album entitled Love is Our Existence, was released, which contains previously unreleased Smith recordings circa 1966-71. The music actually holds up quite well. There is a little flower power trippiness to the typically spare acoustic music, with Craig’s vocals sometimes suggesting Phil Ochs as a love song-singing folkie.

The Sixties had more of its share of musicians who wound as casualties of the time: Skip Spence, Judee Sill, Karen Dalton, and Roky Erickson, and Craig Smith probably ranks as the most obscure of these cult figures. Stax makes a persuasive case, however, that he had the talent to make a make it – or at least make an official album.

Craig Smith drifts in and out of his own biography, Swim Through The Darkness provides some enlightening snapshots of the various worlds where he first strode, then stumbled, and finally shambled through – as well as what he had etched on his forehead.

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Eight Tracks: Brun & Hell

Here’s a little variety pack of music and videos that have caught my attention of late.

1. There is something about Norwegian singer Ane Brun’s music that always get to me. Maybe it’s her way of melding emotions and restraint in her songs. You can hear it on her new video “Closer,” which holds a sadness yet also offers glimmers of hope.

The song comes from her album How Beauty Holds The Hand of Sorrow (due November 27). Called it a companion piece to After The Great Storm, which come out earlier this year. 

2. Last year, Kalie Shorr’s well-named debut Open Book attracted a lot of critical acclaim, and justifiably so. She matches smart, shot-from-the-hip lyrics with a bracing slap of country Shorr’s releasing Open Book: Unabridged on December 4 on her new label, TMWRK Records. This expanded edition now features 17 tracks of Shorr’s fierce, uncompromising music. Here’s a fresh, live performance of her doing “My Voice.”

3. Church of Roswell—a new conceptual collective formed by singers, songwriters and musicians, Candi Carpenter and Josh Doyle – teases quite enticingly their upcoming debut EP with the “Rocketeer’ (out now on Studio 42 Records). Twangy and breezy, the tune lands right on target and is a real joy to listen to. Jason Isbell fans should note that the 400 Unit – Derry deBorja (Hammond B3 organ), Chad Gamble (drums, percussion), Jimbo Hart (bass) and Sadler Vaden (electric guitar) – lend their support on this track. 

4. Straight out of Vancouver comes Country Supper, a bracing shot of Mississippi-bred roadhouse poetry from Robert Connely Farr. The Mississippi roots are authentic. Farr hails from Bolton, Mississippi and was raised on Delta and Hill Country blues. The raw and scarred music, fueled by Farr’s primal guitar playing, bares authenticity as his songs reflect this life’s rough road, which includes dealing with alcoholism and cancer. 

5. If Farr made me think of a Mississippi blues version of Steve Earle, it’s not strictly because I was listening to “Harlem River Blues,” a track from J.T., Steve Earle and the Dukes upcoming tribute album to Steve’s son Justin Townes Earle. New West Records will be releasing it digitally on January 4, which would have been Justin’s 39th birthday, while the CD and vinyl formats come out March 19. 100% of the artist advances and royalties from J.T. will be donated to a trust for Etta St. James Earle, the three-year-old daughter of Justin and Jenn Earle. 

6. A.J. Croce has a new album of old songs arriving on January 11. By Request delivers a dozen songs that A.J. has enjoyed covering over the years. And it is a true joy to listen to. It’s a blast listening to him at the piano serving up these old gems. You’ve got your Neil Young (“Only Love Can Break Your Heart), your Sam Cooke (“Nothing Can Change This Love,” your Faces (Stay With Me”) and your Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry (“Better Day”). My faves probably are “Brickyard Blues” by Allen Toussaint and a Flamin’ Groovies-indebted rendition of Randy Newman’s “Have You Seen My Baby.” And here’s a rollicking “Nothing From Nothin.” 

7. Dry Cleaning contributes probably the best (or at least most fun) video to this list. I won’t spoil things to say too much about the video for “Scratchcard Lanyard” except to say check it out. The song is an auspicious first single for them on the 4AD label. Some of my bands I really dig (The Feelies, Pylonthe Necessaries) are listed as this London-based group’s inspirations, although I hear a hooky take of shoegazing with a bit of Gang of Four 

8. Because I’m writing this (November 19) on the anniversary of Richard Hell & The Voidoids’ CBGB debut (in 1976), I thought I’d mention: Destiny Street Complete. Due out January 22 from Omnivore Recordings, this 2-CD set contains newly remastered versions of the 1982 original release and the 2009 Repaired Version, which Hell re-did all of his vocals and added guitar work by Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Ivan Julian to a rhythm tracks of the songs that he found on a 1981 cassette tape. Last year, three 24-track masters were discovered, allowing Hell to finally remix the songs as he has always wanted them to sound; this is the Remixed Version. Added to Disc 2 (or constituting Album 4) are a dozen rarities, including demos, single versions and a live take of “Time,” covering the years 1976-80. Here’s an animated video for “The Kid With The Replaceable Head” that was done for a children’s program, Pancake Mountain, in 2009. 

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Quick Hits: Shires, Prine, Pylon, Tweedy, Booker T, Replacements and The Staple Singers

Just dropping in to share a few things that popped up on my radar.

Amanda Shires has a new track “The Problem” that she’s releasing on September 28. Freaturing Jason Isbell, the song is about supporting someone through a very difficult time, and it is no coincidence that she is releasing the 28th, which is International Safe Abortion Day. All proceeds from the song will benefit The Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based abortion fund and reproductive justice organization. Give a listen to the song here:

The Squirrel Nut Zippers unleash Lost Songs Of Doc Souchon on September 25. Jimbo Mathus and the crew have recording ten tunes that conjure up the history of New Orleans music, ranging from Jelly Roll Morton’s “Animule Ball” to new band originals. They utilized clicks from classic Fleischer cartoons (with permission, of course) for the “Animule Ball” video.

How many songs do you think country legend Bobby Bare recorded that were penned by his pal, author/songwriter Shel Silverstein? 45? 78? How about 137! That is what you will find on the new Bear Family release, Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein Plus (October 2). The material is drawn from Bare’s albums, Lullabys, Legends and Lies, Hard Time Hungrys, Singin’ in the Kitchen, Great American Saturday Night, Down & Dirty and Drunk & Crazy, and includes 25 previously unreleased tracks. The “Plus” in this 8-CD collection refers some included tunes that were written by other songwriters.

shel and bare

The great Dave Alvin has been rummaging through his trunk of recording and gathered up some semi-lost songs for From An Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings. Arriving November 20 on Yep Roc, the 16-song set includes his versions of songs by the likes of Willie DixonBob DylanEarl HookerDoug SahmPeter Case, Chris Smither, and Marty Robbins as well as some of his hard to find originals.

dave alvin rare

October 23 is a major date for cool releases. Jeff Tweedy’s latest solo album, Love Is The King, which he composed and recorded during the lockdown, gets its release, digtally, on the 23rd on dBpm Records. By the way, his sophomore book, How To Write One Song, comes out October 13th on Penguin Random House’s Dutton imprint (hopefully I will finish his first book by then).

Jim White, that Americana rapscallion, delivers his latest serving of colorful southern tales on Misfit’s Jubilee (yes, on October 23). Befitting his idiosyncratic way, he recorded this album primarily in Antwerp, Belgium; perhaps that accounts for its unusually upbeat tone.  

jim white-3

The mysterious Memphis cult musician Van Duren will see his first two albums Are You Serious? and Idiot Optimism getting serious releases October 23 on CD, double LP, limited-edition colored vinyl and, for the first time, digital as Omnivore Recordings has had the music remastered from the original analog tapes. The 23rd is also when Omnivore serves up expanded reissues of Little Richard’s 1972’s The Second Coming and 1986’s Lifetime Friend. The former notably reunites him with his old producer Robert “Bumps” Blackwell while the latter contains his hit “Great Gosh A’Mighty,’ which also appeared on the Down and Out in Beverly Hills soundtrack.


Real Gone Music has done a real deep dive into the oeuvre of Dream Syndicate frontman Steve Wynn with Decade. This Oct. 23rd release is an 11-CD collection that focuses on his post-Syndicate years 1995-2005. Its 166 tracks contains 57 unreleased tracks and another 31 rarities. Wynn always makes interesting music even it it sometimes is little heard by the general public – but here is a terrific opportunity to hear it!

Coming out digitally on the 23rd from Daptone Records is Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’s Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Rendition Was In), an all-covers collection with a bunch of  previously unreleased material (like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” for a TV commercial and “Rescue Me” that was recorded for, but not used in The Wolf of Wall Street motion picture soundtrack). Their version of the First Edition’s hit that serves are the 10-track album’s title, was the band’s first recording for Daptone.

sharon jones-2

One of my favorite Nashville players (and I mean that in the musical sense): Will Kimbrough. He has an album of pandemic-brewed tunes with the quite appropriate title, Spring Break (also October 23). These home-recorded acoustic songs are full of heart, soul, humor and intelligence. I mean how can not like an album containing the track, “The Late Great John Prine Blues,” even if its mood is indeed blue. Here’s another tune that tips its cap to Mr. Prine.


And speaking of Mr. Prine, September 25 holds the vinyl debut of Souvenirs, his 2000 Oh Boy! release that found him re-recording “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone,” “Hello In There” and more of his wonderful songs.


You can revisit his original recordings anew on October 23 when Rhino releases Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums (1971-1980). This comprehensive 7-CD boxset includes the first seven studio albums of his career, which he made for Atlantic Records and Asylum Records: John Prine (1971), Diamonds In The Rough (1972), Sweet Revenge (1973), Common Sense (1975), Bruised Orange (1978), Pink Cadillac (1979) and Storm Windows (1980). It’s something of a must-have for folks at any stage of their John Prine fandom. If you need more Prine, Austin City Limits launches its 46th season with a John Prine retrospective – one hour jammed with performances from John’s eight appearances on the show.

The Athens, Georgia cult heroes Pylon will be celebrated on November 6 courtesy of New West Records. Pylon Box is a comprehensive four LP box set packed with 47 tracks, including 18 previously unreleased recordings. It’ll hold the band’s studio albums Gyrate (1980) and Chomp (1983). which have been remastered from their original tapes and will be available on vinyl for the first time in nearly 35 years as well as the group’s first-ever recording, Razz Tape and Extra, an 11-song collection featuring a recording made prior to front-woman Vanessa Briscoe Hay joining the band, along with other fun stuff.

On November 13, New West will releases Randall Bramblett’s next album Pine Needle Fire and in January of next year, the label set to put out Steve Earle & the Dukes’ next album, which will all songs written by Justin Townes Earle with 100% of artist advances and royalties going to a trust for Justin’s daughter.

Also, keep an eye out on the 13th for The Flat Five’s latest Another World (Pravda Records/Augiedisc Records) This quintet, featuring some of Chicago’s finest: Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor (Neko Case, The Decemberists), Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough (NRBQ) and Alex Hall (J.D. McPherson), offers up a fun album of quirky jazzy, poppy music that it best heard than described.

gospel truthNovember 13 is a day stacked with Stax music for Craft Records. The Gospel Truth: The Complete Singles Collection spotlights The Gospel Truth Records, which was a short-lived Stax imprint. The compilation (which is out digitally now but on Nov. 13 as a 2-CD and 3-LP contains the A & B sides for each of the label’s 17 singles released between 1972-74. Reverend Maceo Woods and his Christian Tabernacle Concert Choir, The Rance Allen Group, Terry Lynn Community Choir, and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s People’s Choir of Operation Push are among the act showcased on this 3-LP set. Also on the 13th, Craft presents the 7-CD version of its sublime box set Come Go With Me, which salutes The Staple Singers sojourn on the Stax label. Spanning 1968–1974, this rousing collection offers a grand look into the acclaimed group’s work as it includes the albums Soul Folk in Action, We’ll Get Over, The Staple Swingers, Be Altitude: Respect Yourself, Be What You Are, and City in the Sky along with a 11-track bonus rarities disc Singles, Live & More.

Of course, Saturday, September 26 is Record Store Day #2. And there is a ton of cool releases to seek out. Here are a few that caught my attention. Third Man is reissuing Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ What That Is! (1969) and Because Is In Your Mind (1970) Craft is putting out the 1970 album McLemore Avenue that finds Booker T & the MGs covering the Beatles. 1971 is represented by the Allman Brothers’ Fillmore West 1-31-71 concert 2-LP set.


Of more recent vintage, Transmit Sound debuts on vinyl Son Volt’s Live At The Orange Peel. The double LP – on orange vinyl of course – contains 21 tracks spanning Jay Farrar’s solo and Son Volt eras. Rhino has extracted The ReplacementsThe Complete Inconcerated Live set (from the Dead Man’s Pop boxset and will put it out on 3 LPs. The 29 songs represent the band’s entire June 2, 1989 concert at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. More ‘Mats material arrives on October 9 with a deluxe version of Pleased To Meet Me. 29 of the 55 tracks on 3-CD set have never been released; there includes demos, rough mixes, and outtakes as well as Bob Stinson’s last recordings with The Replacements from 1986. Here is a newly done official video for “Can’t Hardly Wait,” using footage first used in the memorable videos for “The Ledge” And “Alex Chilton.”    

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Pomp Pop And Circumstances: High School Graduation Music From Lori McKenna, Eric Hutchinson, Abby Bannon and Sharon Van Etten & Joshua Homme

It’s high school graduation season, and this year it is a very unique one. There’s the pandemic obviously, but it is also the year for my daughter’s high school graduation. And since she is the only child in our household, this graduation has been high on our agenda. Happily there have been a several songs to come out to help provide a nice soundtrack to this strange graduation season.

For parents, there’s no place better to start with the inimitable Lori McKenna. Her new tune, “When You’re My Age,” is a heartfelt, heart-aching ode to parent/child relationships, crafted with all the real-life moments and emotionally resonant details that McKenna is known for. The tune is a guaranteed eye-welling gut-punch for parents, and perhaps teens too. It’s worth noting too that she is a parent of a high school senior. Jostens, the country’s leader in custom class jewelry, wisely picked it as its official song for the Class of 2020, and it’ll be featured as part of Jostens’ free online “Virtual Commencement” programs. Folks can also find it among the ten tracks on McKenna’s forthcoming album, The Balladeer, due July 24 on CN Records via Thirty Tigers

Those graduating high school might gravitate more to Abby Bannon’s song “Here’s To You.” Like McKenna, Bannon has a personal connection to this year’s high school graduation; the 18 year old just finished her senior year at Crawfordsville (Indiana) High School. Much like its video scrapbook style, the song offers a sweet, and a bit bittersweet-tinged, look at her high school days. Bannon does a wonderful job wrapping her teen spirit into an expertly composed tune. No surprise then that she is headed to Nashville to study music at Belmont University.

Eric Hutchinson strikes a hopefully, nostalgic note on his new tune, “Good Things Come.” He originally wrote it as a message he would’ve given to his teenaged self, but the song now has added meaning to those graduating into this strange, unsettled world. The fun little (sub-3 minute) tune boasts a nifty, ‘90s college rock sound – something Hutchinson explore more on his new CD, Class of 98 (due June 12) that has been described as an autobiographical look at his adolescence.

Watch its retro-notebook-themed video here:

Now, Sharon Van Etten’s duet with Joshua Homme on “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” isn’t really directly related to high school graduations, but I couldn’t resist including for a couple reasons. One: it is one of my favorite tunes (going back to Brinsley Schwarz’s original, pre-Elvis Costello’s version). Two: Van Etten and Homme do a great job in re-envisioning the song. Their pensive rendition made me think how the song resembles a classic country duet. Three: this cover very much concerns parents and children, particularly how parents wish for a better world for their kids. Four: the video is a terrific done-at-home effort – haunting but sweetened with just enough humor. For a more harrowing Van Etten- involved high school viewing experience, track down Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a recently released indie film in which she has a small role as a mom. But here is the “Peace, Love and Understanding” video…


Hope everyone is well, taking care, being safe, and hanging in there.


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Virtual, Digital, Wonderful: Kid Pan Alley, John Paul White & Rosanne Cash, New West & Polyvinyl, dBs & NRBQ

There are so many great-hearted project happening nowadays. Too many to mention all of them. But I wanted to mention a couple of them.

One upcoming benefit is for the organization Kid Pan Alley, which does songwriting programs, typically with kids in school but also senior citizens. They have done a couple albums of songs performed by pros and written by children in these songwriting programs. Their album Kid Pan Alley Nashville is ranks right of the top of my top family CDs, and features performances by Raul Malo, Amy Grant, Delbert McClinton, Suzy Bogguss, and Nashville Chamber Orchestra (the song “Little Drop of Water,” sung by Beth Nielsen Chapman is still one that pops into my head on a regular basis). Here’s a video of Malo singing “Whispering In Spanish”:

This year, they have organized an online live musical festival called Together Again, with Tom Paxton, Kathy Mattea, Ysaye M. Barnwell, John McCutcheon, and Darrell Scott among those scheduled to perform as will KPA staffers. The event is happening May 4 from 7-9 pm ET on Facebook – – it’s free to watch but please consider a donation.


Omnivore Recordings have a pair of digital releases via omnivore recordings to benefit the Musicares Covid-19 Relief Fund. One is by two of my all favorites, Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey. Their Our Back Pages is an 11-track set of mainly acoustic versions of dB’s tunes recorded around the time they were making 2009’s Here and Now. However, there are naturally some twists to this concept, such as “Picture Sleeve” (a song that they remembered by name only so they wrote lyrics for it as part of a 2011 Record Store Day release. There also is a version of “Nothing Is Wrong” whose origin is 2008 dB’s rehearsal.

Cult superstars NRBQ, meanwhile, are sharing “Do The Primal Thing (Extended Version).” And “Extended Version” is something of an understatement. This mega-jam freak-out runs over 11 ½ minutes. Recorded live in 2014 at the Fairfield Theatre Company (that’s Fairfield, Conn.), it features current Q-sters Terry Adams, Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough along fabled drummer Bobby Lloyd Hicks, tenor sax-man Klem Klimek and trombonist Carl Querfurth. Its opening line “When you find yourself in a world of adversities” is all too apropos today. Head to to purchase either or both of this unique releases.

Grammy Award winners John Paul White and Rosanne Cash have teamed up for the new single “We’re All In This Together Now” with all proceeds benefiting the Music Health Alliance, which today announced its partnership with the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief project. Spotify will match donations to its partner organizations dollar-for-dollar up to a total Spotify contribution of $10 million. You can find the song by going to you can watch a poignant video that Michael Kessler directed to accompany the song at


Two great labels have put together special compilations to support their stable of artists. New West Records a fun sampler of sampler of B-sides, rarities, live sessions, and never-released tunes from their artists. Here’s American Aquarium performing “Darkness On The Edge Of Town”

The full New West tracklist is:

  1. Nikki Lane – Funnel of Love
  2. Justin Townes Earle – Rocket 88
  3. The Texas Gentlemen – Dream Along (Bonnaroo Haybale Session)
  4. Jaime Wyatt – I Miss Drinkin’
  5. Ron Gallo – Always Elsewhere (Bonnaroo Haybale Session)
  6. Andrew Combs – You’re Like The Country
  7. Sammy Brue – Before It Gets Good Again
  8. Seratones – State Trooper (Live on WFUV)
  9. Robert Ellis – Heartbeat
  10. Kacy & Clayton – The Gallery
  11. Dan Luke and The Raid – Be Good
  12. Caroline Rose – More Of The Same (Bonnaroo Haybale Session)
  13. Sam Doores – True To My Luck
  14. American Aquarium – Darkness on the Edge of Town (Outlaw Session)
  15. Lilly Hiatt – No Good
  16. Pokey LaFarge – Oval Room
  17. Naked Giants – SLUFF (Live in Seattle)

Polyvinyl Records also has a similarly-minded collection filled with previously unreleased music, demos, and covers. Among the nuggets you will find on Stay Home are Owen covering The 1975’s “Me”, Palehound performing “”Something On Your Mind” by Karen DaltonSquirrel Flower’s rendition of Emmylou Harris’ “”Icy Blue Heart” and Hazel English singing The Mamas & The Papas’ “California Dreamin’” Go to Btw, English’s new album, Wake UP! is terrific – give it a listen!


Here’s Stay Home’s tracklisting:

1.  Owen– “Me” (The 1975)
2. Yumi Zouma – “Mirror To The Fire” (HGP Version)
3. of Montreal – “Peace To All Freaks” (Demo)
4. Chris Farren – “Green Eyes” (Previously Unreleased)
5. Palehound – “Something On Your Mind” (Karen Dalton)
6. Anna Burch – “Every Feeling” (from If You’re Dreaming – out now)
7. STRFKR – “Never The Same” (Demo)
8. Squirrel Flower – “Icy Blue Heart” (Emmylou Harris)
9. Radiation City – “Port Townsend” (Previously Unreleased)
10. Pedro The Lion – “Model Homes” (from Phoenix – out now)
11. Post Animal – “Post Animal” (from Forward Motion Godyssey – out now)
12. The Get Up Kids – “Satellite” (Trashy Demo No Bass)
13. Hazel English – “California Dreamin’” (The Mamas & The Papas)
14. Xiu Xiu – “Haenim” (Kim Jung Mi)
15. Kero Kero Bonito – “When The Fires Come” (from Civilisation I – out now)
16. Anamanaguchi – “Sunset By Plane” (from [USA] – out now)


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Music To Revisit My Midwest Roots: The Choir, The Buoys & The Iron City Houserockers

Spending all this time at home over the last month got me thinking of my original home of Cleveland, Ohio. Enhancing this nostalgic mood are several items of music news that have come across my radar.

When I was a young one, there was a great local music show named Upbeat that I’d watch regularly. Sadly there are few remaining clips for it. If there were more, I’m sure that one would be of the popular NE Ohio ‘60s band, The Choir, who scored a big hit with “It’s Cold Outside” (not to be confused, however, with the older chestnut “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”).

The Choir 1969_ web02

courtesy Omnivore Recordings

On June 5th, Omnivore Recordings will put out a new offering from The Choir – Last Call: Live at the Music Box, which captures the band in its 50th anniversary concert held at Cleveland’s Music Box Supper Club on September 20, 2019. The 2-CD set features versions of the band’s top tunes along with a wide-ranging collection of covers, from the Kinks and Procol Harum to Jimmy Webb and Bob Seger.

This show came in the aftermath of Omnivore’s 2018 release of Artifact: The Unreleased Album, which contained the never-before-released album that band recorded in 1969. The Choir’s lineup at the Music Box impressively included the 1969 lineup: Ken Margolis (keyboards), Phil Giallombardo (organ), Randy Klawon (guitars), Denny Carleton (bass), and Jim Bonfanti (drums). Rock fans will recognize Bonfanti’s name from his Raspberries years and Giallombardo for his James Gang stints. Here is Omnivore’s short preview trailer for Last Call: 

During my childhood days of listening to AM radio, one of the many one-hit wonders that still stands out is “Timothy” by The Buoys. Now, I’m pretty sure I had no idea about the controversy over its possible cannibal theme. I mean it was just another pop hit about a mining tragedy to me, like the Bee Gee’s “New York Mining Disaster 1941” song. Plus, it is super catchy. It also was penned by Rupert Holmes – yes, the man behind the 1979 hit “Escape (The Piña Colada Song).” Check out “Timothy” here:



I’m mentioning this song because of the sad news that one of the primary Buoys, Jerry Hludzik, passed away earlier this month following a long struggle with frontotemporal dementia. In the ‘80s, Hludzik co-founded the group, Dakota, which served as the opening act on Queen’s “The Game Tour.”

The Buoys hailed from Pennsylvania, a state that is a big rival of Ohio’s when it came to sports (oh, those vivid memories of Browns/Steelers games at Cleveland’s old Municipal Stadium); however, it wasn’t so much so when it came to music. Case in point: Iron City Houserockers. This legendary Pittsburgh rock outfit that was first signed by Cleveland International Records. Led by Joe Grushecky, the band had a gritty, blue-collar rock ‘n’ roll sound that attracted many admirers (most famously Bruce Springsteen), but not a lot of record sales.

You can re-live (or just discover) the Houserockers’ magic with the Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive) that Cleveland International Records is putting out in a greatly expanded 40th anniversary deluxe reissue. The remastered two-CD set features a bonus disc stocked with 16 previously unreleased tracks of demos and other rarities (the new vinyl edition will include a download card for these same 16 tracks to go with a vinyl replica of the original album). It comes out digitally May 22 with June 19 being the date for physical CDs and vinyl.


Photo by Neal Preston

Besides its wonderful Rust Belt rock, Have a Good Time (But Get Out Alive) also featured a trio of famous producers: Mick Ronson, Ian Hunter and Steven Van Zandt. I’m pretty sure that they weren’t in the booth all at the same time, but that would have been something. However, it shows the high level of esteem that fellow musicians had for the band. Here is the 1988 version of Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers performing “Pumpin’ Iron” from Have A Good Time.

And while I do like the Houserockers a lot, when I think of Pittsburgh bands from the early ‘80s, I go first to Norm Nardini and the Tigers. Norm’s brother Art, by the way, was the long-time Houserockers’ bassist, so I’m not making this connection randomly. Give a listen to their tune, “Ready Freddy,” recorded in 1982 in Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ.

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Light In The Attic & Friends at Home Starts April 3

During this time of quarantine, there are a wealth of wonderful online performances and concerts happening. One that I really grabbed my attention is the one starting today, April 3, at 4 pm PST, that has been organized by the fine folks at Light In the Attic. 100% of all donations will go towards MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund, assisting those in the music community affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Since it is starting in just a couple hours, I wanted to quickly make mention of it. So, I will spare any extraneous links or videos and cut to the chase.


The most recent list of participants features:

Texas soul queen Barbara Lynn
Fred Armisen
British folk legend Michael Chapman
Jarvis Cocker
Italian composer Gigi Masin
Devendra Banhart
Brazilian great Marcos Valle
Jim James (My Morning Jacket)
Sandy Dedrick of sixties soft-psych outfit The Free Design
Japanese ambient pioneers Inoyama Land (Kankyō Ongaku)
Alex Maas (The Black Angels)
Money Mark
Singer-songwriter Lynn Castle
Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals)
Leonard Sanders of modern soul-gospel group the Supreme Jubilees
Jazz giant Azar Lawrence
Grant & Frankie Olsen (Gold Leaves / Arthur & Yu)
Beach Boys poet and lyricist Stephen John Kalinich
Mark Lightcap (Acetone)
Ben Gibbard

The performances will be streaming live on Light In The Attic’s Twitch and YouTube channels. There will be new performances from legendary artists whose music the label has re-released over the past 20 years, along with appearances by LITA’s friends, each covering songs from the label’s renowned catalog.

Each musician will be performing a song from their home during quarantine – from Rio to Tokyo; Cardiff to Austin; Barbados to Italy – and there will undoubtedly also be the always fun element of spontaneity that happens when you are playing at home.

Check it out when you can.
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Black Friday Gold – Record Store Day Gems: Elvis & Woody; Aretha & Joni; John Lee & Tony Joe; Pylon & Wilco

Record Store Day is upon us again and something inspired me to round up the titles that tapped my imagination. It was quite the rabbit hole to jump into. There is a so much good stuff to mention. But let’s start with a couple of legends.

Is there a bigger rock legend than Elvis Presley? Legacy is releasing for the first time on vinyl, Elvis Presley’s American Sound Sessions 1969, which has rare and unreleased outtakes from the King’s historic 1969 sessions at American Sound Studios with producer Chips Moman (including takes of “In the Ghetto,” “Suspicious Minds,” and ““True Love Travels On A Gravel Road.”

Getting reissued for the first time in 50 years is the classic Chuck Berry Live In London (Elemental Music), which contains 10 tracks recorded live in London in 1965 and another four from a 1964 Chicago session. Justin Time Records is putting out John Lee Hooker’s Black Night Is Falling Live at The Rising Sun Celebrity Jazz Club (Collector’s Edition) is a 1977 recording that includes  a previously unreleased 17-minute jam of “Rock Steady”

Also from 1977 is the late, great Leon Redbone live recording Strings And Jokes, Live in Bremen 1977 (Made In Germany), and Live In Japan, a Runaways concert album that was released in several countries but not America. From 1978 comes Sid Lives! (Jungle Records), containing 39 Vicious tracks recorded at among his handful of final shows (Sept. 28 & 30, 1978); notable too is that Sid Vicious’ backing band included New York Dolls‘ late rhythm section of Arthur Kane and Jerry Nolan

Real Gone Music is releasing the rare Tony Joe White live album That On The Road Look Live, previously available only as a limited edition Rhino Handmade CD. Originally recorded in 1971, it contains a 10+ minute version of Tony Joe’s signature tune, “Polk Salad Annie.” Ian and Sylvia’s Lost Tapes (Stoney Plain Records) shares recently discovered recordings done before a live studio audience and the 2 LP collection features their signature tune, “Four Strong Winds,” as well as renditions of “Crying Time,” “Starting All Over Again,” “and “Silver Threads and Golden Needles.” Jerry Garcia Band’s GarciaLive Volume One: March 1st, 1980 Capitol Theatre – the first-ever LP release of the first installment in the Garcialive Series – is a 5-CD set of their March 3, 1980 Capitol Theatre show.

Garcia co-founded New Riders of the Purple Sage but he was back with the Dead by the time the New Riders played New York City’s Academy of Music on Nov. 23, 1972. Omnivore Recordings is releasing this concert for the first time commercially as a Thanksgiving In New York City. The 3-LP RSD release comes out nearly 47 years to the day from when the show happened. More country-fried live jams can be enjoyed with Marshall Tucker Band’s New Year’s In New Orleans: Roll Up ’78 And Light Up ’79. Southern rock titan’s New Year’s Eve party was presented as a radio simulcast then and now makes its LP & CD debut on Ramblin’ Records.

Omnivore also has a new Woody Guthrie 10” EP I Don’t Like The Way This World’s A-Treatin’ Me with Side A holding Guthrie’s demo of this 1952 tune along with a version featuring Wilco’s accompaniment. The B Side has two versions of Guthrie’s “Beech Haven Ain’t My Home” (aka “Old Man Trump”) – one featuring Ani DiFranco and Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine), and another by Jonny Irion’s band U.S. Elevator (Irion is the husband and musical partner of Woody’s granddaughter Sarah Lee Guthrie).

Omnivore also has a new Alex Chilton EP, My Rival. This 5-track (although there are only 4 songs) set, including “My Rival,” which was later re-done for Like Flies On Sherbert. Oh, by the way, these 1975 sessions were helmed by Chris Bell, Chilton’s Big Star co-star, and represents their final collaboration together. Chilton shows up too on the odd pairing of William Shatner and The Cramps on the 12” vinyl Garbageman (Demented Punk). It features three versions of Shatner doing the Cramps’ “Garbageman (including two previously unreleased renditions) also with the Cramps version (which was produced by Chilton) and the Cramps’ “Human Fly.”

Yep Roc has a trio of cool one-off singles. The label is saluting the 40th anniversary of Nick Lowe’s “Cruel To Be Kind” with a green 7” that has the Lowe & Wilco 2012 live version on the B-side. The latest selection in their Squeeze cover series, Swindles, finds Todd Rundgren covering “Bang Bang” from the band’s self-titled debut. Lenny Kaye meanwhile, teams up with the Fleshtones for a 7” that has two versions of the ‘Tones’ tune “Lost on Xandu.”

Christmas can seem like the bigger holiday than Thanksgiving over Thanksgiving weekend, so not surprisingly there are plenty of RSD Xmas releases. The Monkees’ Christmas Party Plus (Rhino) contains two 7″ singles on color vinyl (one red and the other, of course, green), housed in a gatefold sleeve. One single is “Unwrap You At Christmas (Radio Mix)”/ “Unwrap You At Christmas” – Andy Partridge (featured vocal by Holly Partridge) and the other is “Riu Chiu (Original TV Version)”/ “Christmas Is My Time Of Year (1976 Mix).” Peter Holsapple Combo’s 7” single Christmas Must Be Tonight (Omnivore) presents a cover of The Band’s “Christmas Must Be Tonight” and the Holsapple original “Felt Like Summer (Looked Like Christmas).” JD McPherson has a new 7” of two Christmas songs – “Red Bows For A Blue Girl” / “Holly, Carol, Candy and Joy” – the former is a new original and the latter is a B-Side from his 2018 New West holiday album Socks. The Regrettes has a holiday-ish single of their song “Holiday-ish” that features Dylan Minnette (the B-side is the demo version).

Sundazed Records is putting out Merry Christmas From King Records (on red vinyl); this 1959 album showcases the Cincinnati label’s eclectic roster, and marks its first-ever reissue. Squirrel Nut Zippers’ eclectic 1998 holiday album, Christmas Caravan, is being reissued (and the band is doing their holiday tour again as well).

Sony Legacy’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year is a Jimi Hendrix 12” picture disc featuring 1969 recordings of a holiday medley of “Little Drummer Boy,” “Silent Night” and “Auld Lang Syne,” along with “Three Little Bears,” a playful 1968 Electric Ladyland outtake. It’ll come on a picture disc with album artwork on one side and a photo of Jimi dressed as Santa Claus on the other. Velvert Turner has been acknowledged as a Hendrix protégé, and you can hear that on the Velvert Turner Group’s long-out-of-print 1972 self-titled debut that ORG has a Record Store Day release. More Hendrix (although not RSD) news is a limited edition Hendrix live collection, Songs For Groovy Children that presents all four of the sets he performed New Year’s Eve 1969 and New Year’s Day 1970 at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East with his new band (Billy Cox on bass and Electric Flag cofounder Buddy Miles on drums).

A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of the classic Christmas TV specials, and Record Store Day has a pretty special Charlie Brown Christmas release – a “Blind Box” 3” single, which could be one of four Vince Guaraldi Trio recordings: “Christmastime is Here,” “Linus and Lucy,” “Skating,” or “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing.” Cartoon music fans should also note that the 1995 Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits compilation is a RSD double album release. The set includes such covers as The Ramones doing “Spider-Man,” Matthew Sweet singing “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?,” and Liz Phair collaborating with Material Issue on “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana).”

The soundtrack for Robert Rodriguez’s breakout film, Desperado is debuting on vinyl (Real Gone Music). The 2-CD set features tracks by Los Lobos, Dire Straits, Link Wray, Carlos Santana, and the Latin Playboys (a Lobos side project). New West Records is debuting a vinyl version of Richard Thompson’s The Cold Blue – Original Motion Picture Score, a 19-track soundtrack Thompson wrote and arrange for the acclaimed filmmaker Erik Nelson’s documentary that is based off of footage of actual WWII Air Force missions that the legendary Hollywood director William Wyler shot in 1943 for his film The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress.

Modern Harmonic salutes the 20th anniversary of  More Oar – A Tribute To The Skip Spence Album, with its first-ever vinyl version. Participants include Robert Plant, Tom Waits, Beck, Robyn Hitchcock, and Jay Farrar & The Sir Omaha Quintet. Especially for this release is a “skeletal recording” of “Little Hands” by The Flaming Lips that was originally intended as a collaboration with Plant. Verve is putting out the star-studded Joni 75 A Joni Mitchell Birthday Celebration on LP. Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Chaka Khan, Diana Krall, Kris Kristofferson, and James Taylor are a few of the performers.

Soul fans should seek out Atlantic Records’ Aretha Franklin: The Atlantic Singles Collection 1968 (a box set of her four singles from that year – which includes “Think”) and UMe’s James Brown – Live at Home: The After Show (spotlighting the after-show set from the 1969 live recording that was used for Live at Home With His Bad Self). UMe’s Motown Rare & Unreleased is a 12 song LP on special color vinyl and all tracks on vinyl for the first time. There are songs by Motown stars like Diana Ross & the Supremes, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Temptations, and the previously unreleased Jackson 5 song, “Let’s Have A Party.”

The term “music legend” has a couple meanings when it comes to Robert Johnson – there is his legendary talent and the mysterious legends surrounding his life. The bluesman only recorded a few tunes and Traffic Entertainment has put two of them – “Sweet Home Chicago” and “Walkin’ Blues” – on a 78 RPM microgroove record done up in a lovely reproduction of the Vocalion sleeve (and there are detailed liner notes). Blind Willie Johnson preceded Robert in the blues music scene. In the late twenties, he was one of the top gospel-blues artists. Traffic is giving Blind Willie the same RSD treatment with a 78 RPM microgroove record (this one wrapped in a Columbia sleeve) featuring two 1927 recordings: “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground” and “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Taste the blues guitar magic of Freddie King on The Mojo! King Rarities & Obscurities (Modern Harmonic) that showcases 14 originally unissued alternate takes and rarities (all making their first-ever appearance on LP) that he recorded for King Records (no relation).

Speaking of rarities, BMG is putting out some archival Hank Williams. The 1940 Recordings is a 7” featuring homemade recordings of “Freight Train Blues,” “New San Antonio Rose,” ” St. Louis Blues” and “Greenback Dollar.” Country fans should also note that Third Man’s Sweet Dreams: The Complete Decca Masters 1960-1963, a sweet set of all of Patsy Cline’s Decca Studio masters and more – and it’ll be available on pink, purple and yellow pastel vinyl. The songwriter behind Cline’s hit, “Crazy,” a young man named Willie Nelson has a RSD single a-sided by a Ride Me Back Home out-take “Sometimes Even I Can Get Too High” and b-sided by his Merle Haggard collab. “It’s All Going To Pot” (I smell a theme here).

A trio of outré 1969 works are being recognized on Record Store Day. With Illuminations, folkie Buffy Sainte-Marie went electronic by using an early synthesizer to record what has been called the first totally quadraphonic electronic vocal album. Craft Recordings is putting it out on 180-gram opaque yellow vinyl. Dr. John’s sophomore effort, Babylon, is a wild affair that Mac Rebennack himself described as sounding “as if Hieronymus Bosch had cut an album.” Get On Down has done a repeated splatter-colored design to celebrate the album being back on vinyl after 40 year out of print. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Frank Zappa’s solo outing Hot Rats, UMe has done a 10” picture disc single of Zappa’s fabled “Peaches En Regalia” paired with “Little Umbrella”; each side has separate mixes of the songs.

Fellow rock iconoclast Lou Reed is saluted by Rhino with the first-ever vinyl release of Reed’s 2003’s album, The Raven, an Edgar Allen Poe-based concept album whose guest vocalists included Laurie Anderson, David Bowie, Steve Buscemi and Willem Dafoe. Two of the more avant-garde American “New Wave” bands of the late 70s are represented at Record Store Day. Athens, Georgia’s Pylon will salute the 40th anniversary of their ground-shaking first single “Cool”/“Dub” that New West Records will have as a limited edition, translucent red single. In the early 1980s, Warner Brothers’ Music Show was a project that supplied radio stations with exclusive recordings of a band. Rhino’s 16-track Devo Live album was recorded at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater in 1980 and was part of the Music Show series but now gets a full public release.

They Might Be Giants have mined a subversive pop sensibility over the years. They are reissuing their 1987 Don’t Let’s Start EP on striking neon green vinyl to toast its 33 1/3 anniversary (or something like that). Their breakout hit is backed by “We’re the Replacements,” “When It Rains It Snows” and “The Famous Polka.” TMBG’s John Linnell’s first and only solo album is 1999’s conceptual opus State Songs, which spotlights 16 different states on its 16 tracks. Craft Recording honors its 20th anniversary by premiering it on vinyl.

I could go on as I am sure I have overlooked some terrific titles, but I have long over-stayed my welcome – as well as spent more time on this that I had anticipated. Happy Thanksgiving

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