Category Archives: Vinyl colored

45 Reviews: The Dickies / Jack Ellister / Hater

Album: “I Dig Go-Go Girls” / “When an Old Cricketer leaves the Crease” / "Four Tries Down"

Artist: The Dickies / Jack Ellister / Hater

Label: Slope / Fruits de Mer / Fire

Release Date: August 09, 2019

“I Dig Go-Go Girls” (Slope: www.sloperecords.com)  / “When an Old Cricketer leaves the Crease” (Fruits de mer: www.fruitsdemerrecords.com) / “Four Tries Down “(Fire: www.firerecords.com)

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

I rarely get a chance to review 7” records these days, so when these three recently showed up I was beyond excited.

No need to rehash The Dickies’ long and storied punk history, but on this slab they decided to cover Cheap Trick’s “I Dig Go-Go Girls” and the results are stunning. This song, in The Dickies’ hands, rips and snorts with an aggression that is about as perfect a slab of summer as you can get. The vocals are bitchin with an extra bite courtesy of Monkey from The Addicts.  The infectious nature of a Cheap trick tune is amplified to stratospheric heights and buffed to perfection with a punk sheen.

B-side “The Dreaded Pigasaurus”, a Dickies original, is no slouch to its A-side brother. It’s a storming anthem replete with saxophone and what sounds like Hammond B3, stretched over a menacing throbbing bass line. Leonard Phillips vocals provide just the right dose of pop-punk to the proceedings that transported me back to the 1980’s. Short, sharp shock, just what the doctor ordered!

***

On Jack Ellister’s latest 7” he tackles two rather disparate tunes. The A-side, “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease,” by the late British icon Roy Harper, is a nostalgic number that Ellister tackles, strikingly capturing the original’s somber beauty. Ellister’s voice, along with his old Polish piano, are as much a perfect combination as were Harper and his guitar when he first recorded it. Stunning!

The B-side sees Ellister turn his sights to Black Sabbath. Here his take on the super heavy “Supernaut” is to give the track a decidedly narco-haze and sing in an almost Mark E. Smith acid snarl. Every thud of the drums, drone of the bass, and wailing of the synthesizer is simply spectacular. A killer cover that sees Ellister not only inhabit the track, but modernize and push its boundaries a tad further.

Fruits de Mer have done it once again. Get this 7” from your local shop on colored vinyl with a fold-out poster.

***

Meanwhile, Malmo, Sweden, outfit Hater will drop their new single next month (September 6, to be precise) and it’s a lovely slice of pop that, to this reviewers’ ears, recalls elements of ‘90s era Tanya Donnelly and Lush, with a smidgen of Broadcast thrown in for good measure. Those may be the touchstones to convey to people what they’re in store for, but that’s not meant to say the band lacks creativity; in fact, it’s just the opposite. Side A’s  “Four Tries Down” is a mighty seductive slab of pop that is clear, effective, and memorable; it combines so many elements hitting sweet spots in my brain—from the deep female vocals at the opening, to the beat and catchy melody—that I played it over and over and over… okay, you get the message. The flipside’s “It’s a Mess” is another addictive gem. The understated vocals that border on whispers are seductively dreamy and left me under the singer’s pied-piper like spell. Me wants more!

***

DOWNLOAD: We here at BLURT recommend physical therapy, but if you must go digital, download all 6tracks from these two singles direct from the labels or the artists’ websites so they are guaranteed to get your dough!

 

R.E.M. – In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003 LP

Album: In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003

Artist: R.E.M.

Label: Craft Recordings

Release Date: June 07, 2019

https://craftrecordings.com/rem-intime-2lp-reissue/

BY JOHN B. MOORE

Despite breaking up nearly 10 years ago, there are still few bands from the ‘80s and ‘90s that can still command allegiance from the masses like R.E.M. Sure there are a slew of groups from that era that can brag about cult status, but R.E.M is among the few who have managed to hold on to their core early adopters from their I.R.S. years and bring along an entire generation of new fans when they moved onto the much larger Warner Bros label in 1988. Which brings us to this stellar vinyl reissue of In Time their best of 1988 – 2003 collections.

The set, released less than six months after the band’s Reveal album, covers their time on Warner from 1988’s Green up to this point. The label Craft Recordings, like they have with other R.E.M. vinyl reissues, have done a brilliant job. Released on 180-gram vinyl, they made a limited run on translucent blue – simply stunning. This marks the first time in 15 years this record has been out on vinyl.

The double LP set includes 18 songs, including two from soundtracks (the so-so “All The Right Friends” from Vanilla Sky and the stunning “The Great Beyond” from Man On The Moon) as well as two previously unreleased tracks, “Animal” and “Bad Day”. The records are housed in a deluxe gatefold jacket. Unlike many of the quickly thrown together vinyl re-releases that are almost routine nowadays, In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988-2003, along from being crammed with great songs, is gorgeously designed, befitting a band as important as R.E.M.

 

 

 

 

DATURA4 – Blessed is the Boogie

Album: Blessed is the Boogie

Artist: Datura4

Label: Alive Natural Sound

Release Date: April 05, 2019

www.alive-records.com

Available on digital, compact laser disc, and sweet colored vinyl (see below).

BY MICHAEL TOLAND

Though best known as a power pop/garage rock god fronting the Stems and DM3, Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist Dom Mariani got his initial inspiration from the original wave of his country’s bluesy hard rock bands: Coloured Balls, Buffalo, etc. Joined by ex-Drones drummer Warren Hall, Dave Hole keyboardist Bob Patient, and Jack and the Beanstalk/Majestic Kelp bassist Stu Loasby, Mariani turns Datura4 into a tribute to his youthful influences. Blessed is the Boogie, the quartet’s third LP, goes right for the jugular, putting Mariani’s formidable six-string chops up front of a set of songs that could have come from 1974.

The blues is at the heart of “Run With Lucy” and “Black Dog Keep Running,” but to equate these songs with John Lee Hooker—or even Led Zeppelin—is to do them a disservice. When it comes to writing memorable tunes, Mariani can’t help himself, and while this isn’t the Badfinger-meets-Foghat mashup of which some wags have likely dreamed, it’s not far off.

Plus, Mariani is no macho cock rock shouter – no matter what backdrop he stands in front of, he’ll always have that slightful soulful, melodic power pop voice, backed here, as everywhere, with creamy vocal harmonies. Check the folk rocking “Not For Me” and “The City of Lights” and the overtly psychedelic “Cat On a Roof,” breaths of fresh air that meld Mariani’s pop sensibilities with the period sounds he evokes elsewhere. Ultimately, though, the record is all about riffing, strumming and soloing guitars—that Mariani drafts his exceptional axepersonship to such indelible tunes makes Blessed is the Boogie all the more satisfying.

DOWNLOAD: “City of Lights,” “Run With Lucy,” “Not For Me”

Datura4 previously reviewed:

Hairy Mountain

            “Demon Blues

 

MOON GOOSE – Source Code

Album: Source Code

Artist: Moon Goose

Label: Fruits de Mer

Release Date: April 29, 2019

http://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com/moon.html

BY JONATHAN LEVITT

It’s rare these days for a record to stun me upon first listen, but that’s exactly what happened with Moon Goose’s debut album.

Opening cut “Second Life” is a gloriously tight psychedelic instrumental that reminded me of the band White Manna with its widescreen spirit leading us somewhere uncharted. “Knifeless Skinning” is a fascinating descent into an unsettling scene, where exploration and an incantations are all rolled into one.

And it just gets better from here.

“Le Conte” amps up the uniqueness to 10. Funky, diverse, and deep, the song is magical as it unfolds for the listener. Here the band reminds me of Malesch-era Agitation Free with their organic transitory sound. “Trains” is a slow burner that eventually reaches max elevation, with guitar playing that’s as magical as it can get. Then there’s “Carnage,” which is an amazing amalgam of the band’s best elements and musical leanings. Succinct, melodic, and tighter than a nun’s ass, the band really lets it fly on this brilliant track.

This record glides from one glorious moment to the next. There’s even a double colored vinyl pressing in the offing (it includes a CD of the whole album as well) so our vinyl-porn-fixated Chief Editor Fred Blurt can get his fix. (Gimme. You had me at “Agitation Free” who, incidentally, have just seen Malesch reissued on colored wax.— Krautrock Ed.)

DOWNLOAD: “Second Life” “Knifeless Skinning” “Carnage” “Le Conte”

BANGLES/DREAM SYNDICATE/THREE O’CLOCK/RAIN PARADE: 3×4 (2LP, colored vinyl)

Album: 3x4 (2LP, colored vinyl)

Artist: BANGLES/DREAM SYNDICATE/THREE O'CLOCK/RAIN PARADE

Label: Yep Roc

Release Date: February 22, 2019

www.yeproc.com

The Paisley Underground finally goes overground in a long overdue tribute to… itself!

BY FRED MILLS (vinyl photo from the author’s collectionI)

This gem, from the estimable Yep Roc Records, whose equally estimable David Shaw spearheaded the project, is nominally titled “3 x 4,” and of course if you consider that it has American rock heroes Rain Parade, The Dream Syndicate, The Bangles, and The Three O’Clock all covering each other, three tracks apiece, the title is technically accurate.

One might alternatively propose, however, that the project is  ∞ x 5 since the sonic ramifications are so much more than the sum of its parts. Let us duly note that the four bands enlisted for submissions are not only temporally, geographically, and (reasonably) stylistically linked, and therefore, we presume, more than just a little familiar with one another’s respective oeuvres; their aesthetic and philosophical roots are more than just a little in synch. These are, after all, among the rock ‘n’ roll badasses that populated the early/mid ‘80s SoCal Paisley Underground. Admittedly, in their time the Bangles took their tunefulness to the bank to a degree considerably more lucratively than the others, but if you fast-forward to 2019, everyone involved has earned a degree of musical stature and industry respect that will leave ‘em all with some terrific stories to tell the grandkids.

There is literally not a duff note heard over the course of the two platters, and if I were to single out any tracks they would be the staggering cover of DS’ “When You Smile” by Matt Piucci and his gang; the Bangles very nearly out-DS’g the DS with their throbbing “That’s What You Always Say”; and of course the Steve Wynn-helmed crew (who?) covering timeless RP gem “You Are My Friend.” Writes Wynn, of the tune, in the copious liners to this brilliant, colored vinyl, must-own David Shaw-overseen project, “This song broke my heart when it came out…”

Steve, me too. As did all of you folks in the bands every time you released a record. The paisley underground community was very much a real entity, and not just a journalistic label, that spread far and wide. Thank you forever from my pointed little head.

 

Rumor has it that one can acquire this on digital devices or play it on an outdated technology referred to by some as “compact disc,” but why would you? See the photo above for reference and, yes, you are welcome.

DOWNLOAD: This is the kind of release you need to grab every song and listen to them one-by-one and back-to-back. Then go track down the original versions – I’ll be glad to make a Spotify playlist for ya if you’re lazy….

 

THE GERMS – What We Do Is Secret [RSD Black Friday LP; blue vinyl]

Album: What We Do Is

Artist: Germs

Label: ORG Music/Rhino

Release Date: November 23, 2018

https://orgmusic.com/

BY JOHN B. MOORE

The Germs may have only released one proper studio album before frontman Darby Crash died, but you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of more influential hardcore/punk rock bands to come out of that era. Everyone from the Minutemen and L7 to Soul Asylum and Pennywise owe a debt of gratitude to that Southern California band of nonconformists. So, it’s frustrating just how few songs the band managed to record during their four years together.

Thankfully, ORG Music has just re-released this gorgeous blue vinyl limited edition copy of their 1981 EP What We Do Is Secret. Originally put out in 1981, just a year after Crash’s suicide, this 7-song album pulls together live tracks recorded between 1977 and 1980. The songs are sloppy, loud, a bit amateurish, all which add to the odd brilliance of the band.

Their cover of Chuck Berry’s “Round and Round” is one of the highlights of this mini-album that hovers around the 20-minute mark. The last two songs in this collection, “The Other Newest Ones” and “My Tunnel” captures the band playing a frenetically impressive live show on December 3, 1980 at LA’s Starwood. The songs show a band that was destined for much bigger things, but sadly, Crash intentionally OD’s on heroine just a few days later.

Unlike The Eagles or Steely Dan, polished studio musicians searching for perfection, a band like The Germs were about immediacy, spontaneity, and living that ethos that anyone (literally anyone) can be in a band. And while The Eagles and Steely Dan may have found a much, much bigger audience, they manage to do so without a fraction of the passion that a band like The Germs had.

DOWNLOAD: “Round and Round,” and “The Other Sweetest One”

 

RISE AGAINST – Career (Vinyl Box Set)

Album: Career

Artist: Rise Against

Label: Interscope/Ume

Release Date: November 20, 2018

www.interscope.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

There aren’t a ton of punk rock bands outside of the greats from the late- ‘70s through early ‘80s, who are strong enough to justify a career-spanning vinyl box set. Chicago’s Rise Against though clearly have earned that distinction.

 

Raised in the indie punk scene – the band’s first two albums were released on the Fat Mike-helmed, Fat Wreck Chords – the band came about their experience the tried and true punk rock way: touring the country is a crappy van and sleeping on the floors of fans after shows. So, their jump to Geffen Records for their third effort, though it brought about some predictably, if relatively muted taunts of “Sell Out!” seemed like a natural fit for an impressive band looking for a bigger soap box to stand on.

 

Geffen, alongside UMe has collected the band’s first eight records (everything but 2018’s The Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1) into one massive archival set. Each record is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and comes with a hard cover book of Rise Against’ s oral history and a slew of rare band photos. The set includes The Unraveling, Revolutions Per Minute, Siren Song Of The Counter Culture, The Sufferer & The Witness, Appeal To Reason, Endgame, The Black Market and Wolves.

 

Of all the albums in the collection, their 2001 debut, The Unraveling, is fittingly enough their most uneven. There’s a powerful rawness to the songs, but singer Tim McIlrath was still finding his voice (figuratively and literally) and relied more on screams rather than the measured vocals he would perfect on later albums. The guitars, as well, slathered in distortion, don’t leave much space for any other instrument to be heard. But the band quickly learned from those mistakes in time for 2003’s Revolutions Per Minute and it’s follow-up the next year, Siren Song Of The Counter Culture. The latter houses the song “Swing Away Life” which remains their most recognizable song and one of the best slow-tempo punk anthems of the 2000s. Both records are among the band’s best efforts with a more cohesive sound and powerful political lyrics that are clear enough to be heard this time around.

 

The Sufferer & The Witness, released in 2006 continued the streak of great, political punk rock, but they slipped slightly on the mediocre follow up, 2008’s Appeal To Reason. The last three entries in this collection, however – Endgame, The Black Market and last year’s Wolves – found the band back to in top form. Over the course of nearly two decades, Rise Against has slowly and methodically carved out a niche for writing savvy political anthems that move easily from modern punk folk to distorted rock, all while ignoring current music fads in favor of a formula that have managed to perfect. This gorgeous box set is the perfect acknowledgement of that dedication.

DOWNLOAD: Plenty to choose from….

THE RATCHETS – First Light

January 01, 1970

Pirates Press

www.piratespressrecords.com

BY JOHN B. MOORE

New Jersey has long been the farm team for punk rock bands. Everyone from The Bouncing Souls to Gaslight Anthem have hailed from one city or another off the NJ Turnpike before going on to spread the punk rock gospel to the rest of the globe. The Ratchets prove yet again with their latest LP, First Light, that the Garden State is still churning out punk rock’s best and brightest.

Relatively MIA for more than a decade after the 2006 release of their debut, the band is back – a little older, but just as promising as that debut that brought about more than a few comparisons to The Clash. On First Light those Clash influences are still front and center, as well as some of Joe Strummer’s more thoughtful later work. You can also hear a hint of Springsteen’s influence on the lyrics all across this one, as well. (You  didn’t think I could write about a Jersey band without at least one Springsteen reference, did you?)

But there’s also plenty of other elements here that make the band sound impressively original: the Bluesy guitar riffs on “Drone Control,” the ‘70s hard rock vibe of “2-4-6-8 Motorway” (a cover of the Tom Robinson Band punk classic), and Jed Engine’s sandpaper rasp vocals that were made for punk rock. The band manages to flawlessly bridge the political urgency of late ‘70s British punk rock with modern concerns.

Crammed with memorable hooks, air guitar-worth riffs and whip sharp lyrics, First Light finds The Ratchets back in fighting form and, if this record is any indication, ready to take over the world.

DOWNLOAD: “Drone Control” and “2-4-6-8 Motorway”

GIANT SAND – Returns to Valley of Rain LP

Album: Returns to Valley of Rain LP

Artist: Giant Sand

Label: Fire

Release Date: August 10, 2018

www.firerecords.com

The Upshot: “Had an accident last night on Highway 95…” Howe Gelb & Co. revisit the band’s 1985 debut in classic freewheeling Gelb fashion. Go HERE to read our new interview with Gelb, in which he discusses his thumbing through the back pages and his long, colorful career.

BY FRED MILLS

It was just three years ago when England’s Fire Records, as part of their ongoing back catalog overhaul of Giant Sand and Howe Gelb, reissued G.S. debut Valley of Rain, remastering and expanding the 1985 gem (as “Beyond The Valley of Rain”) for a 30th anniversary edition. Included were extensive, fresh liner notes penned by Gelb, who duly related a conversation with his dear friend Rainer Ptacek, the late Tucson slide guitarist and songwriter with whom he’d formed Giant Sand precursor Giant Sandworms in the early ‘80s, and who would appear on many subsequent G.S. albums: “Rainer was right,” wrote Gelb, “when he said we need to make a music that won’t embarrass us ions from now (he tended to teach without really teaching).”

Prophetic—and well-taught/learned—words. Valley of Rain, whether in its original Black Sand Records/Enigma iteration or the aforementioned 2015 edition that boasts a bonus disc of outtakes and proximate live material from ’86 (the latter with Ptacek in the lineup), more than simply holds up to this day. It’s as seminal as other Amerindie titles from that period, notably the desert rock/proto-Americana and neopsychedelic/Paisley Underground scenes of the mid- and late-‘80s that included the Dream Syndicate, Green On Red, Rain Parade, Sidewinders, Zeitgeist, etc. And apparently Gelb made a similar determination in 2018 that, even after helming more than 60 albums to date, VoR was worthy of the proverbial Stetson-tip. Ergo, Returns to Valley of Rain, a track-by-track re-recording—with some notable tracklist shuffling—of the ’85 platter.

From time to time you hear of artists who gripe about this-or-that’s earlier release’s faults and how they’d love to attempt a re-do. Once in awhile they might actually go through with the threat—among the adapters, for better or less, Camel, Girlschool, Mike Oldfield, Car Seat Headrest, Suicidal Tendencies, and a slew of metal bands—but more often they simply settle for re-cutting individual songs and, of course, trotting out the “classic album done live” trope, once a mainstay of ‘70s classic rock icons but, nowadays, a staple of the touring-circuit scene. (Not to mention the bread-and-butter of tribute bands, who bank on the enduring appeal of, I dunno, Beatles/Doors/Pink Floyd and Sublime/G’n’R/Phish appeal to keep their mortgage payments up to date.)

Howe Gelb, though, has the luxury of (a) never releasing an album considered so commercially iconic that going the contemporary remake/remodel route would be a reputational risk; and, (b) having a uniquely dedicated fanbase that both knows his records and understands how being a Gelb/G.S. fan means enjoying and trusting the songwriter’s freewheeling, freeform view of his own back catalog. It’s no secret that Gelb takes a Dylan-like approach to song-selection and –rendition.

Returns to Valley of Rain, then, is a start-to-finish delight. It’s technically a re-do of the original UK cassette version of Valley of Rain, which had 11 tunes compared to the 10-song US LP. (Fire’s 2010 CD reissue added a pair of bonus tracks prior to their full-blown expansion in 2015.) And as noted above, it also toggles the track order; for example, where the original album opened with the title track followed by “Tumble and Tear,” the new one reverses the pair, effectively making the latter a kind of brusque overture/prologue that sets up the deeply anthemic groove of “Valley of Rain—with its irresistible riff, memorable melody, and honeyed harmony vocals from Annie Dolan—as a thematic focal point for the album.

RtVoR rocks its desert ass off from start to finish, whether we’re talking about the straight-up Nuggets-worthy garage of “Man of Want,” the almost-but-not-quite metal of “Black Venetian Blind,” the lumbering Old Pueblo howl that is “Barrio,” or the aforementioned “Tumble and Tear,” a Jurassic stomp which, over the years has become a genuine show-stopper (check this relatively recent live version for proof).

Produced by Gelb and Gabriel Sullivan—a musical savant in his own right who came on board with Giant Sand as guitarist a few years ago—Gabriel Sullivan, and featuring guitarist/vocalist Dolan, veteran Tucson drummer Winston Watson (who is also a Dylan band alumnus), and regular Giant Sand bassist Thoger Lund (plus, on a couple of tracks, Kid Congo Powers and original G.S. bassist Scott Garber), the album’s a must-hear for any longtime fan of the band. Intriguingly enough, it also can serve as a righteous introduction for newcomers to the Gelb oeuvre, which has been known to swerve all over the rock ‘n’ roll highway, sometimes to the discombobulation of less-discerning ears and sensibilities. This album, though, is about as straightforward as Gelb gets, and it also sounds like it was a helluva lot of fun to make. In my book, that impossible-to-quantify quality will always be a selling point.

Available on digital, CD, black vinyl, and sweet limited edition blue wax (plus, from Burger Records, limited edition cassette), and with a download code, it’s an essential addition to the G.S. collection.

DOWNLOAD: “Barrio,” “Tumble and Tear,” “Death, Dying and Channel 5,” “Valley of Rain”

JUDEE SILL – Judee Sill / Heart Food / Songs of Rapture and Redemption

Album: Judee Sill / Heart Food / Songs of Rapture and Redemption (LPs)

Artist: Judee Sill

Label: Intervention / Run Out Groove

Release Date: July 27, 2018

www.interventionrecords.com / www.runoutgroovevinyl.com

The Upshot: Late songstress gets a welcome reintroduction via deluxe vinyl reissues of her two studio albums plus a new collection of live and rare material.

BY FRED MILLS

As is often the case with artists who have passed on, legacy begets legend. And while 1970s songstress Judee Sill’s impact during her short life was minimal before her death, at 35, of a drug overdose—she was probably better known for being the first signing to David Geffen’s Asylum Records, and for having Graham Nash produce her single ”.Jesus Was a Crossmaker,” than for any measurable commercial inroads—she would go on to inspire subsequent generations of singer-song­writers. A trifecta of new archival releases amply demonstrates why her reputation as an immaculate, gifted songstress has steadily grown over the years.

In 2004, 4 Men With Beards reissued on vinyl both her eponymous debut (1971) and Heart Food (1973), while 2003 and 2005 brought remastered CDs on Rhino Handmade and the Water Music label, respectively. Now comes archival specialist In­tervention, which has recently worked wonders with audiophile reissues of Stealers Wheel, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Everclear, and Joe Jackson, with its own vinyl take on the two records. The results are revelatory. Intervention was granted access to the original analog masters so that Grammy-winning mastering engineer Kevin Gray, of Cohearent Audio, could work his all-­analog magic. They then pressed each album on two 180-gram, 45rpm discs, and printed the original artwork on Stoughton “tip-on” gatefold sleeves.

The new Judee Sill is richly illustrative of both artist and artifact, if a bit of a period piece. It’s reminiscent in places of early Joni Mitchell, particularly in ”Jesus Was a Crossmaker,” a slice of mid-tempo piano pop subtly lined with chamber strings; the straightforward folk of “Crayon Angels,” with its oboe melody; and another of several evoca­tions of Jesus, the strummy “My Man on Love.” Elsewhere are some more fleshed-out compositions, orchestra­tions courtesy Don Bagley and Bob Harris; it’s in lush numbers such as “The Archetypal Man” that Gray’s fresh mastering is showcased, revealing a surround-sound depth to the tune’s almost Bach-like arrangement that I don’t hear on the 2005 CD.

For several reasons, Heart Food is the better album. It clearly benefits from Sill’s presumably being more comfortable in the studio two years on, and boasts an impressive roster of 25 “name” musicians, among them keyboardist Spooner Oldham, guitar­ist Doug Dillard, pedal-steel legend Buddy Emmons, bassist Chris Etheridge, and drummer Jim Gordon. And the complexity of Sill’s composi­tions has taken a quantum leap. For this album she also wrote the orches­trations, allowing for both a diversity of scope and an internal cohesion that suggested that she was going for more than simply getting a collection of disparate songs down on tape. Heart Food glows from the outset, its highlights including the sweet, coun­try-tinged (fiddle and steel), lyrically evocative “There’s a Rugged Road,” in which Sill indulges her familiar passion for Christian themes; the delightfully lush “The Kiss,” with an arrangement worthy of Brian Wilson; and the nine-­minute piano epic ”The Donor,” which is suite-like in structure, breathtaking, like CSN&Y singing gospel.

Gray’s remastering, too, will take your breath away. One example: Listening to ”The Donor” is like sitting in a cathedral, bathing in the enveloping voices of a choir, each piano note’s attack and decay as palpable as if you were seated on the bench beside the pianist. Ultimately, Heart Food is a timeless and deeply nourishing musical feast.

Songs of Rapture and Redemption: Rarities & Live arrives courtesy Run Out Groove, whose specialty is deluxe vinyl reissues (check my review of the Dream Syndicate’ The Complete Live at Raji’s 2LP set, which was released last year) and, in some cases, unique titles such as this one. Sides A and B are made up of live material recorded in Boston in ’71, and the seven tracks originally surfaced as bonus material on the 2003 Rhino Handmade Judee Sill; sides C and D are demos and outtakes originally included as bonus material from the two Sill CDs on Handmade. So while the material itself is not unreleased, this marks the first time it’s ever appeared on vinyl, and Run Out Groove has gone the extra mile by pressing the two LPs on swirly magenta vinyl (180-gram, natch) and housing them in a glossy-textured Stoughton sleeve—each set is individually numbered.

The live tracks are delightful, a beautifully recorded document of Sill in her to-brief prime, just the songwriter and her guitar plus, on the seven-minute “As Enchanted Sky Machines,” piano. The track “The Lamb Ran Away with the Crown” is one obvious standout, the Judee Sill number nearly aglow with passion. Among the demos, “Jesus Was a Cross Maker” is a fascinating early glimpse as a song that would go on to be, arguably, the artist’s most famous song. Equally fascinating: reading the liner notes, which are a transcribed conversation between the album’s co-producer, Pat Thomas, and the late Sill’s best friend and collaborator, Tommy Peltier, in which Peltier offers memories of the singer and observations about each track.

All in all, a must-own for any fan of Judee Sill even if they already own the Handmade CDs.

DOWNLOAD: Judee Sill & Heart Food: ”Jesus Was a Crossmaker,” “The Archetypal Man,” “There’s a Rugged Road,” “The Donor”  

 

Songs of Rapture and Redemption: “Lady-O” and “The Lamb Ran Away with the Cross” (both live), “The Desperado” (outtake), “The Pearl” (demo)