The Sound and the Fury

July 13, 2020

Out of Traction, Back in Action


Let’s preview some Record Store Day releases

By Gillian G. Gaar

As vinyl aficionados will know, April’s Record Store Day was postponed due to the pandemic. And as stores begin to open up over the coming months, RSD has not only been rescheduled, it’s been expanded, with RSD dates now set for August 29, September 26, and October 24. Three for the price of one!

RSD previews tend to focus on the heavy hitters: David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney, the Doors. But I’m taking a different approach here, focusing on titles that might not get the hype, but are certainly worthy of your attention. These are releases that will come out on August 29 and September 26. Sorry I don’t any previews for October 24 releases; you can discover those on your own.

August 29, 2020

ORG Music serves up another in their series of compilations chronicling the Sun Records label. This year’s offering, Sunrise on The Blues is a snappy collection representing the cream of the label’s crop: Howlin’ Wolf’s laidback “Everybody in the Mood,” Rosco Gordon’s ode to enlightenment, “Let’s Get High,” the Prisonaires’ warning about jailbait, “That Chick’s Too Young To Fry,” and Pat Hare’s worryingly titled “I’m Gonna Murder My Baby.” A perfect party platter.

Fans of kitsch in general, and The Addams Family in particular, will want to hunt down the novelty single “The Lurch”/“Wesley,” by Ted Cassidy, the 6’9” actor best known as the somnolent, deep-voiced butler on that show. The A-side is a dance song, a la “The Twist,” which Cassidy demonstrated on Shindig! It’s not a dance that will test your physical abilities. The single was originally released on Capitol, and the reissue on Jackpot Records replicates the single’s original sleeve and label.

Portland alt-rock act The Wipers got a huge boost when Kurt Cobain professed his fondness for the band, and Nirvana covered two of their songs. Jackpot’s reissue of their classic first album, Is This Real? (originally released on Park Avenue Records) not only features colored vinyl, there’s also a bonus 7-inch with four songs from the original 4-track sessions, and an autographed poster. For fans of US post-punk and/or Northwest rock, this is a must.

GEALA-based singer-songwriter Mia Doi Todd’s 2008 album GEA makes its vinyl debut with this reissue (on ORG Music), on green vinyl, as a tie in with Earth Day. Her songs have the same melancholy, mesmerizing feeling as the work of Leonard Cohen, making this release a good choice if you’re interested in more subdued, thoughtful fare. Proceeds will also be donated to

Ben Watt and Robert Wyatt released the delicate, haunting Summer Into Winter EP in 1982 on Cherry Red Records. It hasn’t been seen on vinyl since, and Cherry Red’s decided they simply must make amends for that oversight and are reissuing the record on transparent turquoise vinyl, a color which certainly suits the music’s dreamy mood.

It’s the best of both worlds on Atomhenge’s reissue of Hawkwind’s bright and shiny Quark, Strangeness & Charm. Not only does this 140 gram double album set (on clear vinyl) feature the original album remastered from the master tapes, there are also five never-before-released outtakes, including the first studio version of “Damnation Alley” and the full extended version of the breezy opening track, “Spirit of the Age.”

nat turnerPhiladelphia soul/R&B group the Nat Turner Rebellion never actually released an album. So Laugh to Keep From Crying (ORG Music) pulls together all their hard-to-find singles along with unreleased material. There’s a political cast to much of their work, as can be seen in titles like “Tribute to a Slave” and “Love, Peace & Understanding,” and even in the group’s name, which refers to a slave uprising in 1831 in Virginia. It all makes this record (on colored vinyl), a must have if you’re interested in the genre, and want to pick up some nice rarities.

When the Moog synthesizer rose in popularity in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, electronic music became the rage in a variety of genres (e.g. Switched-On Bach), and exotica wasn’t excluded. Hence, Exotic Moog, originally released in1969 on Liberty Records, which gives an electronic twist to the music of Martin Denny; Jackpot’s reissue is on colored vinyl. Personally, I find it too sterile in comparison to Denny’s moody and atmospheric originals. But I was excited to learn that this is just the first in a series of Denny reissues Jackpot has planned. Bring ‘em on!

September 26, 2020

immy sweeneyIn the May 1954, Sun Records’ owner Sam Phillips picked up a demo of a plaintive song called “Without You.” He wanted to make a recording of it himself, and his assistant, Marion Keisker, suggested he called a young singer who’d previously recorded some acetates at Sun — Elvis Presley. Elvis didn’t end up recording the song, but he and Sam went on to make history together. And what of that demo? No one was sure who the singer was until songwriter/musician Christopher Kennedy revealed a few years ago in a Mojo piece that it was Jimmy Sweeney, a singer who recorded for numerous labels before quitting the music biz in 1962. ORG Music has put together a fascinating compilation of his work, Without You, in which you certainly hear the roots of the young Elvis. It’s a lost history, finally revealed. On colored vinyl …

Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath was originally released in 1994 and did very well for a tribute release, going gold and with Megadeth’s terrific version of “Paranoid” nominated for a Grammy. Other highlights include Ozzy Osbourne teaming up with Therapy? to revisit “Iron Man,” Al Jourgenson and the puckishly named 1000 Homo DJs putting their distinctive spin on “Supernaut,” and a bonafide metal supergroup, the Bullring Brummies (including Judas Priest’s Rob Halford) tackling “The Wizard.” But strangely, the album was not released on vinyl in the US. Until now! Thanks to Real Gone Music, you’ll be able to pick up this bone-crushing platter in a newly-designed gatefold sleeves, and on black swirl vinyl to boot.

nativityReissues are dandy, but releases with previously unreleased material are especially exciting. And that’s just what you get on the Alarm’s Celtic Folklore Live. The album Electric Folklore Live drew from the same 1988 tour, but the tracks on this record have never officially come out before, five from a date at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, and five from a show at the Cabaret in San Jose. They’re both robust performances, with classic Alarm tracks like “Sixty Eight Gun,” “Marching On,” and “One Step Closer to Home.”

Do the Reggay Dance is a classic compilation of late 1960s Jamaican reggae, and this Sutro Records reissue (on colored vinyl) has numerous tracks that have never been reissued. Most songs are by the Tennors (with and without Jackie Bernard), along with other tracks by the Kingstonians, Monty Morris, the Inspirations, and others. You’ll get in the groove as soon as the needle drops on the opening track, “Sign of the Times” …

Stay safe, friends, and wear those masks.


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