Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ten reasons why you should love IAN McNABB!

10 Reasons Why You Should Love


There are many of you that will see the name IAN McNABB and say "I can think of way more than 10 reasons to love the guy's music!" And to that, I will most definitely agree. But this post is not aimed at those familiar with his 30+ year professional career - this is aimed at those who may be vaguely familiar with him or not recognize his name at all.

For starters, Ian McNabb is from Liverpool.  Yes, land of The Beatles and A Flock Of Seagulls. And Echo & The Bunnymen. And The La's. And Yachts. And OMD.  And Deaf School.  And... oh, the list goes on and on.   Ian used to be the guitarist/singer from THE ICICLE WORKS, one of the finest and most diverse bands of the '80s.  Every IW album was different yet they all had that unmistakable voice front and center.  The original trio's final album, Blind, was released in '88. In 1990, the album Permanent Damage was released under the band's name, but it was really the start of McNabb's solo career.  At the time, I didn't think it sounded like an IW record (especially with 2/3rds of the original band missing in action), but once I heard Ian's solo material, it all fell into place....

Ian McNabb has not released a bad album in the 30 years he's been making them.  Every album has moments of absolute glory.  He has managed to blend influences like John Lennon, Marc Bolan and Neil Young and create that McNabb sound, which I will now refer to as McNabbian for the next 20 minutes.

"Oh, did you hear Ian's new album?  Very McNabbian, don't you think?"

Speaking of Neil Young, Ian recorded two albums in the '90s that featured a great deal of input from Crazy Horse!

If you are not picking up what I'm laying down, perhaps you need some examples of this tunesmith's finest moments?  Well, you are in luck because I just so happen to have 10 examples right here!

Go to and see what he is up to now.  I highly recommend the last three albums he's released (Eclectic Warrior, Little Episodes and Great Things), the first two of which are available on his site.

Oh, you're welcome!

P.S.  Choosing 10 was a real pain in the ass.  I originally chose 32 and whittled it down to these, which I feel would be a good representation of his talents.  I'm sure other fans would have chosen 10 others... or switched out a few, but they can do that on their own blogs!

1. THE ICICLE WORKS/"Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream"

2. IAN McNABB/You Must Be Prepared To Dream"

3. THE ICICLE WORKS/'Understanding Jane"

4. IAN McNABB/"No Hero To Me"

5. THE ICICLE WORKS/"Hollow Horse"

6. IAN McNABB/"Ancient Energy"

7. THE ICICLE WORKS/"Melanie Still Hurts"

8. IAN McNABB/"Camaraderie"

9. THE ICICLE WORKS/"Love Is A Wonderful Colour"

10. IAN McNABB/"Merseybeast"


11. IAN McNABB/"I Just Wanna Rock 'n' Roll My Life Away"

Time to go shopping!



Thursday, April 17, 2014



The Lost Recordings 1979-81



     Privately pressed albums were, at one time, the laughing stock of music community.  They were treated so horribly that they wouldn’t even make the $1 bins at used record stores.  The only time you’d ever see them is if you were flipping through the “5 for $1” boxes under the bins.  Private pressings were perceived as albums and artists so bad that not even indie labels would release them.  But hardcore collectors – people who actually LISTENED to these albums in hopes of finding hidden gems – knew differently.  Just because an album was privately pressed didn’t mean that nobody wanted to release it – it just meant that the artists involved didn’t know of the right channels to go through in order to get their albums released so they did it themselves.  In the early to mid ‘70s, indie labels were not as common as they became at the tail end of that decade.  So, if someone believed in the music that they created, they wanted to be able to get that music out to people who attended their shows, to radio stations that might spin a track or to and to record stores that might help spread their music to a larger audience.  Unfortunately, those albums just became dust collectors in beat up boxes in record stores around the world.
     But then the internet came along and changed all of that. The music geeks began searching for something unique and privately pressed albums filled the bill.  Some were awful, some were good and some were hidden treasures filled with lo-fi charm.  One of those albums was 1979’s Dreamin’ Wild by Donnie and Joe Emerson

Judging by the cover – two happy young rockers in white jumpsuits – one was expecting either a teeny bop fiesta ala The Osmonds or maybe four-fisted tribute to Elvis.  Instead, listeners heard some of the most sincere Pop/Rock songs never played on the radio.  These guys were totally into what they were doing and they certainly had the chops AND the songwriting skills.  The only thing lacking was a proper producer who could reign in some of the better ideas and make the songs shorter and more concise.  The album’s standout was the haunting “Baby,” which sounds too heartbreaking for words.  And in contrast to the rest of the album, “Baby” is actually a little too short and ends unexpectedly when you think you have at least another few choruses to go.  The song is a stunner.  Thanks to blogs, that song and the album went viral.  Music fans and musicians fell in love with “Baby” and Donnie and Joe Emerson.  Collectors began trading the digital files ripped from the vinyl while the original LP’s price skyrocketed.  The Emerson brothers’ music was now making its way across the world but the boys didn’t have the ability to capitalize on their belated fame.  That is when the great Light In The Attic Records label got involved and officially reissued the album on CD and LP with input from Donnie and Joe Emerson. The boys in the band were finally getting the recognition they deserved.

      So, with Dreamn' Wild officially back on the market and renewed interest in their music, what was next for Donnie and Joe, who never released a sophomore album?  For most people, their story started and ended with that Dreamin' Wild, but what about outtakes and unreleased songs?  Those of us who fell for the charm of their debut wondered if there was more.  Surely, there MUST be more!  Well, that burning question has just been answered with the arrival of the outstanding Still Dreaming Wild: The Lost Recordings 1979-81. While the album is a collection of unreleased tracks and not an album proper, that shouldn't stop anyone from dropping what they are doing and ordering this slice of Pop goodnesss right here and now.

Two things to ponder while you listen...

1. Their debut album was not a 'hit', nor was the song "Baby", so when the boys began writing and recording, they continued move forward and did not adhere to a proven formula, making this release a breathe of fresh air. They weren't trying to cash in on a certain sound... they were just interested in making more music. So, thankfully, there is no "Baby Part Two" on the album.  If that is what you are looking for, jut play the debut album again.

2. These recordings were made just as New Wave and Synth/Electronic music came into vogue, so many tracks utilize keyboards and drum machines.  However, those elements are used to enhance the recordings, not to carry them.  Sometimes, when you want to get a musical idea down on tape, you use what you have and Donnie Emerson used whatever he could.

3. Still Dreamin' Wild is a newly compiled collection of unreleased tracks and is not a reissue of a lost private pressing.  Some 'private press snobs' may turn their noses up at this release, but the rest of us who just want to hear more music form Donnie & Joe are in for a treat.

     Still Dreamin’ Wild features a set of well-written, arranged and performed tracks that showcase a more confident and mature duo.  Perhaps influenced by the short, sharp Pop of New Wave, the tracks on this album are focused, unpretentious and honest.  There may not be a "Baby" here, but those haunting chord changes are present in many of the songs. The songs are filled with a heart-breaking melancholy that you can hear in Donnie's voice.  But his heartbreak doesn't always equal pain - there is a lot joy in the music of Donnie & Joe, but sometimes you have to cry a few tears before you can find it.  "Don't Disguise The Way You Feel" (perhaps the closes thing you'll get to "Baby" here) does offer hope even though sadness seems to have dictated it's somber atmosphere. On the other hand, "Don't Fight" and "Ride The Tide" are straight ahead Pop tunes. "Oh Baby Yeah" sounds like it could have been a demo recorded for Rick Springfield's Working Class Dog sessions. "Stand By Love" is a New Wave/Glam rocker. "Somethin's Comin' Down" is another beauty with a heartbreaking melody. "Everybody Knows It" is bubbly Synthpop with a Power Pop melody not unlike Shoes during their Silhouette period. "Girl With The Rainbow Seeds" is a lo-fi pop masterpiece. "Since You Been With Me" is an oddity -a moody lo-fi synthpop tune with the same four lines repeated over and over. At first, it seems like an unfinished song but by the time the track fades, it's just another track to add to your list of highlights.  Brilliant.

     When I first finished listening to the album, I immediately went right back to listen to it again.  The great thing is that the innocence and charm is still there, but the talent had grown in leaps and bounds. There were no egos, just a desire to create great music.  Its taken 35 years for the rest of us to hear these songs, but I sure hope there are more where these came from. These are honest, well-written Pop songs from the heart.  There’s almost nothing better in life than that.

Monday, April 14, 2014

LIGHT IN THE ATTIC presents the CD debut of LEWIS' rare L'Amour! Available May 13, 2014






In 1983, a man named Lewis recorded an album named L’Amour, which was released on the unknown label R.A.W. And that’s about all we know.

The record itself is a delicate, whispered album, reflecting the way the artist himself – spectral, movie star-like – almost disappears into the grey of the cover. It should come as no surprise that it failed to shout loudly enough to be noticed, another private press album that sank without trace.

The ingredients are simple: smooth synthesizers, feather-light piano, ethereal, occasionally inaudible vocals and the gentle plucking of acoustic guitars. But the effects are arresting: a spine-tingling, sombre album that echoes Springsteen’s Nebraska or Angelo Badalamenti’s atmospheric soundtracks. Later, Arthur Russell would grasp for something similar on the epochal World Of Echo LP.

L’Amour is a true discovery of the blog age, uncovered in an Edmonton flea-market by collector Jon Murphy, passed on to private press fanatic Aaron Levin, shared on the internet and speculated over by lovers of curious LPs. There’s almost no information about Lewis or the album on the internet. There’s precious little on the sleeve: a dedication to Sports Illustrated supermodel Christie Brinkley, a photo credit for Ed Colver, the noted L.A. punk rock photographer, and credits for engineer Bob Kinsey and synth player Philip Lees. All that was known of Lewis is conjecture: a rumor that he was a con artist who fled after not paying for L’Amour’s photo-shoot and a dubious theory that he was not actually of this earth.

When Light In The Attic looked to release the album, they set out to investigate the mystery. They found some answers, but more intrigue too. Colver was able to fill in some blanks. Firstly, Lewis is a pseudonym. The man the photographer met was named Randall Wulff. He stayed in the Beverley Hills Hilton, drove a white convertible Mercedes and dated a girl who looked like a model. He paid for his photo session with Colver with a $250 check, which bounced.

Eventually, the trail led to Alberta, Canada, where that first LP had been found. Liner notes writer Jack Fleischer along with master detective Markus Armstrong found Randall’s nephew, who remembered Randall as a stockbroker. His vague recollections include a visit to Randall’s apartment, with all-white furniture and that beautiful girlfriend in situ. Crucially, he offered another name – another of Randall’s pseudonyms – which led to a Vancouver studio and the revelation that Lewis had recorded three or four albums of “soft religious music” there. Alas, even the new nom de plume led only to dead ends.

Lewis remains a ghost, a total mystery, but the music will be heard. The album is being pressed for the first time in more than 30 years, and widely distributed for the first time ever. Lewis’s royalties will be placed in escrow until he makes himself known. Perhaps you know Lewis. Perhaps Lewis is you. The only certainty is this: Lewis is about to find a whole bunch of new fans.

1. I Thought The World Of You
2. Cool Night In Paris
3. My Whole Life
4. Even Rainbows Turn Blue
5. Like To See You Again
6. Things Just Happen That Way
7. Summer’s Moon
8. Let’s Fall In Love Tonight
9. Love Showered Me

10. Romance For Two

LIGHT IN THE ATTIC presents DONNIE & JOE EMERSON - Still Dreamin Wild: The Lost Recordings 1974-81! Available June 17th, 2014!


The Lost Recordings 1974-81




Some people have to wait for fame; some people wait even longer than most. Donnie and Joe Emerson are in a league of their own.

As teenagers in Fruitland, Washington in the late ‘70s, the farming brothers dreamed of being heard. The synthesizers were sometimes crude and the 8-track recorder had its limitations, but the brothers aimed at nothing short of perfection in their home studio on the farm. They titled their 1979 debut "Dreamin’ Wild", and, as multi-instrumentalist Donnie later admitted, “Joe and I basically lived the dream of the title of the album.” The same goes for their parents who heavily believed in their sons’ musical dreams, taking out a second mortgage on the farm and investing $100,000 in a dream that refused to die. But their privately funded, private press record sank without trace, the family lost most of their 1,600 acre farm, and as Joe focused on the family farming business, Donnie focused on his solo career.

As for "Dreamin’ Wild", things began to change three decades later, when record collector Jack Fleischer bought a copy of the album for $5 at a Spokane thrift shop. Something about the brothers’ smiles, bouffant hair, and matching white jumpsuits gave him a good feeling. Fleischer’s blogging about the album brought it to the attention of cult musician Ariel Pink, who recorded his own version of standout track "Baby." Eventually re-released on Light In The Attic and widely available for the first time, the album chimed louder a lifetime after its conception: Pitchfork described it as a “a godlike symphony to teen hood.” The New York Times flew out to the family farm, while Jimmy Fallon took to Twitter to proclaim his love for the duo.

But "Dreamin’ Wild" does not tell the full story. In a relatively short span of time – just two and half years – the boys put close to 70 songs down on tape, all recorded at that magical home studio on the farm. A dozen of them are included here on "Still Dreamin' Wild: The Lost Recordings 1979-81" and ready to be enjoyed for the first time ever. With a familiar blend of FM rock, power pop, and new wave, these 12 tracks cover the entirety of that fruitful period, stretching from the second song Donnie ever recorded ("Everybody Knows It") – to tracks documenting his temporary move to L.A. in 1981.

Donnie’s life story is in these songs. Where "Dreamin’ Wild" captures the teenage experience, "Still Dreamin' Wild" tells a broader story, one in which teenage dreams turn to painful yearning. So where the Beach Boys indebted "Ooh Baby Yeah" is inspired by a teenage girlfriend, "Big Money" shows the emergence of a naive political awareness. Later, 1981’s "One True Love" captures the sound of what Donnie described as “the city as imagined from the farm,” and the epic closing track, "Don’t Disguise The Way You Feel" found Donnie after high school, feeling stifled and frustrated in the isolation of the countryside and mourning the loss of his friend and occasional backing vocalist Dwayne. It is, quite simply, heartbreaking.

The long-belated success of "Dreamin’ Wild" has given the Emerson brothers – still close, and still the heart of a loving family – a new lease of life. They’ve finally taken their music on the road, performing at Seattle's Showbox followed by New York’s Mercury Lounge. "Still Dreamin’ Wild" proves that the album wasn’t a fluke, and that Donnie’s songwriting is as consistent as it is rare. All this time later, we finally have the pleasure of hearing the brothers’ music. And the good news? They’ve still got the jumpsuits.

1. Overture
2. Don't Fight
3. Ride The Tide
4. One True Love
5. Somethin's Comin' Down
6. Everybody Knows It
7. Big Money
8. Ooh Baby Yeah
9. Stand By Love
10. Girl With The Rainbow Seeds
11. Since You Been With Me

12. Don't Disguise The Way You Feel

Thursday, April 10, 2014

THE SELECTER/Too Much Pressure: 35th Anniversary reissue on Captain Mod!


(35th Anniversary Edition in Hardback digibook packaging)



Re-issued to coincide with its 35th Anniversary this is a
deluxe Hard Back CD revamp of the debut album by 2 Tone
Ska legends The Selecter

The album hit #5 in the UK charts at the time as the whole
Ska Revival / 2-Tone movement swept the nation

Features the hit singles ”The Selecter” (#.6), “Too Much
Pressure” (#8), “Three Minute Hero” (#16) and “Missing
Words” (#23)

Packaged in a Hard Back book style CD cover, the booklet
features lyrics to all the songs, a sleeve note by vocalist
Pauline Black and pictures of all the relevant single sleeves
from across the globe


What’s Cooking?


By Stephen SPAZ Schnee

     In an industry that usually tends to plas it a little too safe sometimes, Kelis has always been a breath of fresh air.  With a recording career that began back in 1999, Kelis is one of the few artists who has taken chances with her music and continually challenges herself while doing so.  Best known in the U.S. for her 2003 hit “Milkshake,” Kelis has achieved success on a much larger scale internationally, especially in the UK, where she has hit the Top 10 an amazing 10+ times! Though she has been labeled an R&B artist here in her home country, Kelis is much more than that.  Soul and R&B may be the foundations of her sound- however, her musical vision has no limitations.  She’s not afraid to incorporate Pop, Rock, Jazz and other musical elements into her recordings. Kelis has consistently pushed the envelope and in doing so, her music is an ever-evolving hybrid that truly is unique. If all you know is “Milkshake,” then you’ve only experienced the tip of the iceberg.
     As an artist, Kelis understands that in order to create the perfect record, you need all the right ingredients - music, lyrics, production, attitude, heart and soul to name a fewAchieving this perfect balance has always worked in her favor. However, it doesn’t just happen in the studio for Kelis - it also enhances her other career as a certified chef.  Yes, you read that right – Kelis is a CERTIFIED CHEF.  She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu culinary school and even co-wrote a cookbook in 2006. In October 2013, Kelis debuted her own sauce line at the Las Vegas Food and Wine Festival. She recently taped her own cooking special, Saucy & Sweet, which aired on the Cooking Channel earlier this year. And if that isn’t appetizing enough, Kelis is figuratively bringing her two worlds together and dropping her sixth album, Food, on April 22nd. The album was produced by TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek and features guest appearances from Brazilian Alt-Rock band CSS and singer/songwriter Priscilla Ahn.  While still retaining her Soul and R&B roots, the album is definitely edgier and more Rock oriented than any of her previous long-players.  She not only manages to reinvent herself (again), she does it so successfully that Food stands out as one of the most refreshing, honest albums of her career.  There is a retro vibe to the album, but not exactly what you’d expect - rather than focusing solely on the ‘60s, Food also takes in healthy chunks of the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s. It is literally a buffet of musical influences that leaves the listener craving more. Kelis and Sitek have made an album that is modern and timeless in equal strokes. In retrospect, it seems that “Milkshake” may have been just an appetizer and now Kelis is just about ready to serve the main course…
     Stephen SPAZ Schnee was able to send Kelis a handful of questions and she was gracious enough to answer them while doing a press jaunt in the UK

SPAZ:  Food is just about ready to drop. How are you feeling about the lead up to this album and the reaction you’ve received to it so far?
KELIS:  I’m excited to release my album. It’s been 4 years since my last album so it’s definitely time.

SPAZ:  The album has a very deep-rooted retro vibe yet it still manages to sound fresh and vibrant. Was it difficult to balance where you were coming from, musically, and where you wanted the album to go?
KELIS:  The album was very organic and natural. The album title came from me just cooking in the kitchen. Food was the nourishment behind the album. So, we decided to leave the title as Food.

SPAZ:  As a whole, Food seems to usher in a whole new musical world for Kelis. On the album, you don’t turn your back on your past but you are most certainly moving forward as an artist. What inspires you to make this journey instead of just taking the easy route and recording “Milkshake” parts 2, 3, 4 and 5?
KELIS:  Life, love and being a mother are the main influences behind my album. Food is about those life experiences.

SPAZ:  “Jerk Ribs” is the first single, but the album is filled with some amazing – and often haunting – melodies. At this point, are there any personal standouts on the album that you are particularly proud of?
KELIS: “Jerk Ribs” are a staple of mine and probably what I’m most well known for cooking. I’m really proud of the entire album and excited to share that with my fans.

SPAZ:  While the album may seem a little darker on the surface, the songs and
performances are far from one dimensional. The album feels powerful and anthemic at times. What kind of reaction are you hoping the listeners have while listening to the album?
KELIS:  I wouldn’t say the album is dark – it’s about life experiences. The ups and downs are a very natural part of life. I’m hoping that fans can relate to that.

SPAZ:  Did you go into the studio with finished ideas or was the album created organically?
KELIS:  The album was created organically. Dave played a huge part of giving me just enough space to figure out the ideas behind the music.

SPAZ:  Your cover of Labi Sifre’s “Bless The Telephone” is quite lovely. How did you first discover this song and decide on covering it? Most people in the U.S. only know him through Madness’ cover of “It Must Be Love” or, to a far lesser extent, Olivia Newton John’s rendition of “Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying”…
KELIS:  The first time I heard “Bless the Telephone” I was blown away by its dynamic simplicity. I fell in love and wanted to sing it out loud for this generation to fall in love with too.

SPAZ:  What was the inspiration for the album’s title and ultimate lyrical direction? Being a chef yourself, did you just combine your favorite hobbies?
KELIS:  The title Food was very natural. I enjoy cooking for friends and family. And while in the studio with Dave, there would be a ton of musician friends and everyone would be hungry. So, naturally I would just cook family style meals. A lot of my inspiration behind the album was just the process of making it.

SPAZ:  Your performances on the album are perhaps the most passionate you’ve ever recorded. Would you say that this is your most personal album to date?
KELIS:  No. I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I always have. It’s just another corner, or layer.

SPAZ:  You are generally labeled an “R&B” artist, yet you have never adhered to one style of music on your albums. Is it frustrating to be pigeonholed under one genre when you obviously are capable of moving beyond those restrictive boundaries?
KELIS:  I don’t mind.  I don’t assume that the label is some mass assumption that I am somehow incapable of anything else. It’s how people relate and digest.

SPAZ:  You’ve been a recording artist for 15 years. How do you compare the recording of Food to the experience you had with your 1999 debut, Kaleidoscope?
KELIS:  I don’t really think about my different bodies off work in those terms. I’m the common denominator so for me, it’s just doing what it takes until I’m satisfied.

SPAZ:  The ‘album’ has recently been called a dying art form. Now that you are releasing proof to the contrary, what is your reaction to these statements by the skeptics?
KELIS:  LOL. Are these skeptics 15?

SPAZ: What’s next for Kelis?
KELIS:  My Cooking Channel special just aired called Saucy & Sweet. I’m releasing my sauce line called Feast. Summer Festivals. Touring.

SPAZ:  What is currently spinning on your CD player?
KELIS:  I’ve been listening to a lot of Jamie Woon, Josef Salvat, and Bill Withers.

Thanks to Kelis
Special thanks to Steve Dixon





Tuesday, April 1, 2014

JACK WHITE/Lazaretto: Available June 10, 2014!




(Columbia Records; New York, NY; April 1, 2014) – Jack White presents his new album Lazaretto, to be released June 10 on Third Man Records/Columbia. Lazaretto inhabits an exciting place in White's expansive discography as the follow-up to 2012's Gold-certified international #1 Blunderbuss, and will be preceded by first single and title track "Lazaretto," to be released later this month. While we await the debut of that first official single, listeners can experience a first taste of new music from the album and watch the video for new instrumental track "High Ball Stepper" below...

The aforementioned Blunderbuss was the first U.S. #1 album of Jack's storied career, also debuting at #1 in the UK, Canada, and, naturally, Switzerland. Blunderbuss was supported by an ambitious world tour featuring two backing bands, the all-male Buzzards and all-female Peacocks, notched up five GRAMMY nominations including Album of the Year, and dominated Best of 2012 lists, including being named MOJO's #1 album of 2012.

In celebration of the new album and their 20th Vault package, Third Man has unveiled their most unique Vault package yet.

The LP for Third Man Records' Vault package #20 will be the ONLY limited version of Lazaretto to be released. Pressed on split-color blue-and-white vinyl and coupled with exclusive album art, this alternate presentation of the album is both insightful and deserving. Also exclusive to the Vault is a fold-out poster accompanying the album, featuring a classic National Archives photo that serves as a recurrent image throughout the album art.

Unlike the lightning bolt and inverted lightning bolt pressings Third Man did for Jack White's Blunderbuss, this alternate art and colored vinyl will be the only time ANY variation on Lazaretto will be made. Once subscriptions are closed and records are pressed... that's it. Don't sleep. Get in now or regret it later.

The 7-inch includes two early demos of songs that appear on Lazaretto in their completed form. Both "Alone in My Home" and "Entitlement" are solo recordings by Jack White, done while he was in Mexico. Pressed on lustrous blue vinyl and housed in the standard felt-weave, die-cut Third Man Vault 7-inch sleeve, both tracks offer a unique glimpse into the creative process and evolution of a song from its original germination to its final delivery.

The bonus item is a lavish 40-page hard bound companion piece book full of lyrics, exclusive musical notations, photos and art from Lazaretto. This is the perfect accompaniment to the listening experience and insight into both the album creation method and some of the inspiration (visual and otherwise) behind it.

In addition to these items, Vault package #20 will also include a linen, letter-pressed postcard with the same eye-popping color separations as evidenced in classic chromatic postcards popular in the first half of the 20th century. Stamps not included.

Subscriptions are open through April 30th, so don't delay and visit to sign up today.