Record Time is Paste’s monthly column that takes a glimpse into the wide array of new vinyl releases currently flooding record stores around the world, and all the gear that is part of the ongoing surge in vinyl culture. Rather than run down every fresh bit of wax in the marketplace, we’ll home in on special editions, reissues and unusual titles that come across our desk with an interest in discussing both the music and how it is pressed and presented. This month we catch up with some stray Record Store Day releases, reissues of a pair of underground outlaw country gems and a boxed set featuring the Stones laying waste to a tiny venue in Toronto.
David Bowie’s ’90s were better than almost all other artists of his age as he embraced the sound and possibilities of electronic dance music, resulting in some of his most exhilarating and experimental work since the Berlin years. This era was covered almost completely by a pair of 2021 boxed sets, but true to form, the estate didn’t put absolutely everything in those collections, reserving a bit of material for these Record Store Day releases. The Brilliant Adventure EP is meant as a companion to the larger set of the same name, and includes alternate versions of two songs and a pair of live tracks recorded at a 1995 Shakespeare Festival. The Toy EP features six tracks from the previously unreleased album, also called Toy, an album where Bowie attempted to modernize the sound of his earliest work. These alternate versions and live takes ripple with momentum and have a sweaty bite courtesy of guest musicians like Helmet’s Page Hamilton and vocalist / violinist Lisa Germano.
The ‘Mats had barely been together for two years by the time they took the stage at 7th St Entry in their hometown of Minneapolis to play a gig for a small, rabid audience and the listeners of community radio station KFAI. By that point, the quartet already had a perfect debut album under their belts and a fanbase built, in no small fashion, by their live performances, which could either be vicious and razor sharp or a drunken collapse. Meeting the moment, the ‘Mats cranked into overdrive on this surely cold night in January, as heard on this double LP Record Store Day release. It’s a cyclone of punk energy and youthful braggadocio as the band whipped through every song in their arsenal and spared some time to taunt their fellow musicians and buddies in the crowd. As good, and at times even better, than the much-crowed about Maxwell’s recording released in 2017.
Released originally in digital form last year, this selection of demos and outtakes from the sessions for Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece Blue has been given a vinyl pressing for Record Store Day. It runs in roughly chronological order from her summer 1970 demos to a rendition of the as-yet-unrecorded “All I Want” captured for BBC broadcast to previously unheard alternate versions from the album sessions. All are wonderful, in particular the earliest recordings where we get to hear the unfinished lyrics of “A Case of You” and “California.” Where I keep returning is the b-side, which features a handful of tracks Mitchell recorded for BBC radio, complete with a charming story about her mountain dulcimer and two songs performed with the help of her friend James Taylor. If you grabbed the recent remastered version of Blue, you’d do well to track this down. It’s the perfect chaser.
It’s time to talk about picture discs yet again. For Record Store Day this year, Rhino pressed up a pair of 1982 classics in this format: The Cure’s intense and brilliant Pornography, and Oh, No! It’s Devo, Devo’s fifth full-length, on which the Ohio quintet continued tapping of the synthpop vein. For two records released in the same year, they couldn’t be more diametrically opposed. The Cure allowed their deep drug and alcohol abuse feed into the seamy tone and the lyrical themes of depression and personal anguish; Devo sang about “Peek-A-Boo” and “Speed Racer.” What these albums share in these new pressing is an audible ugliness hissing and whooshing in the background of each song that no amount of EQ’ing can mask. It kind of works with the dour tone of Pornography, but I’d certainly rather hear these songs free of the haze that this picture disc added to the mix. At the same time… the discs do look really frickin’ cool.
The Ramones had already achieved mythical status by the start of the ’80s, thanks to releasing five near-perfect albums of buzzsaw tunes that added a ’60s pop snap to their leathery punk rage. Even the members of the band would tell you, the soup got a little thin following 1980’s End of the Century. This boxed set is the complete picture of that decade, with repressings of the six albums they made for Sire Records packed into a box with a seventh disc of outtakes and b-sides. It’s a fascinating, if a little rough ride, as the band weathered the dismissal (and re-hiring) of drummer Marky Ramone, aimed for a more accessible sound with the help of producers Graham Gouldman and Dave Stewart, and dealt with growing tensions between Joey and Johnny. As rough as it gets, there are still pearls to be found on each album (“I Wanna Live,” “We Want The Airwaves,” “Come Back, Baby”) and at least one bona fide great full-length in 1984’s back-to-basics Too Tough To Die. For the budding punk collector, this is the perfect way to add all these to your library in one fell swoop.
Recordings of the Dead’s storied 1972 tour of Europe were initially cherry-picked for their fantastic three-LP release Europe ’72, and, in 2011, released in a massive CD boxed set. Complete sets from that run have also been popping up through the Dead’s ongoing reissue series, including this Record Store Day release of the second date in London. It’s a handsome set, with five LPs tucked into a lovely box. And it was a wisely chosen introduction for folks wading into the vast sea of Dead releases for the first time as this is one of the many peaks of the group on stage. They splay out tremendously on “Playing In the Band,” enjoy the lazy swing of “Deal,” and hit cosmic heights on an extended take of “Dark Star” that beautifully evolves into “Sugar Magnolia.” That last section is the only small frustration about this set. The mastering engineers had to split “Dark Star” to fit the full thing on to one LP. It’s hard to get totally lost in it when you’re forced to flip the record 2/3 of the way through its 30+ minute swirl.
After many years of scraping along with meager success in Nashville, Willie Nelson pulled up stakes in 1972 and relocated to Austin, Texas, signing with a new label on the way. From that point on, an outlaw country legend was born with the help of two rough-and-ready albums, Phases and Stages and Shotgun Willie. This Record Store Day release finds Willie and his longstanding touring band flush in the glow of their creative triumphs (and probably a few chemicals), and performing to a rowdy audience at the Texas Opry. It isn’t the complete picture as the band played four sets over a weekend, but these highlights sound spectacular. Willie is at his loosest, jazziest best and his nimble band, which included his sister Bobbie on piano and the sharp rhythm section of Bee Spears and Paul English, following each one of his weaving steps through classics like “Crazy,” “Whiskey River” and “Bloody Mary Morning.”
As with a number of RSD releases that Rhino dropped this year, the music found on this boxed set was originally released on CD as part of last year’s 50th anniversary reissue of L.A. Woman. The four LPs are packed with alternate takes and the raw versions of the material that would wind up on the 1971 album. As producer Bruce Botnick spells out in his liner notes, L.A. was the band’s attempt at a back-to-basics recording session: six days in the studio with everyone playing live-to-tape, including vocalist Jim Morrison. These rough attempts at the material, free of overdubs and added touches like the rain sounds that kick off “Riders on the Storm,” spotlight the tight-knit creative relationship these gents had — a connection that was somehow only strengthened by the addition of a bassist and a rhythm guitarist (Jerry Scheff and Marc Benno, respectively). Your patience for listening to the band members goof around and try to find the right mood and tempo for some of these songs may vary. I found it engrossing.
Originally released in 1981, Stevie Nicks’ first solo album came together in the months following the exhausting sessions for Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk with the vocalist cracking open her Rolodex and inviting as many talented friends as she could along for the ride. The credits for this album are weighty: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Don Henley and Don Felder of the Eagles and E. Street Band member Roy Bittan. Perhaps a case of Nicks not wanting to leave anything up to chance considering the stakes of her budding solo career, but the result was a marvelous mix of country, pop, heavy rock and glittering balladry. And it shot straight to the top of the charts. This RSD reissue is accompanied by a second disc of alternate takes, demos and a pair of tracks that wound up on movie soundtracks.
Golden Smog has long existed as a loose collective of musicians from the Minneapolis scene that get together on stage and fuck around playing covers and jams. Through the years, its lineup has included members of Soul Asylum and the Jayhawks, Jeff Tweedy and Big Star’s Jody Stephens, and it evolved into writing original material. But at its core, as heard on this EP, it’s really an excuse to play around with few expectations. Originally released in 1992 and making its vinyl bow for Record Store Day, this five-song set is bluesy, bar band covers of Bad Company (a great version of “Shooting Star” sung by Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner), Thin Lizzy and the Stones played with spirit and casual joy. I still have a hard time understanding the decision to fill up one side of this LP with a laser etching of the cover art rather than just pressing in at 45 RPM, but perhaps that’s why I’m a professional critic rather than a record company executive.
Trying to harness the intensity of prog-jazz-soul outfit Chicago’s live performances has never been an easy task. No matter how many live albums they’ve released over the years, there still seems to be some crucial ingredient that can’t be captured on tape. This Record Store Day release, a three LP set recorded during a six-night run at Carnegie Hall, is the closest that they’ve gotten to the real thing. Engineer Tim Jessup and producer Lee Loughnane brought a surgical precision to their work restoring and mastering this. Each instrument and voice comes across clear as crystal. Focus on any single player and you’ll be able to catch all the nuance and dynamism of his playing. My suggestion is to spend your first listen homed in on Peter Cetera’s bass work, which finds that right middle ground of loose and tight and carries each and every song forward like a wave.
Adria Petty, the daughter of the late Tom Petty, is the person to thank for this lovely little compilation that highlights some lesser-known tunes from roots-rock duo the Everly Brothers. As she writes in the liner notes, the Everlys were a shared obsession between she and her dad — making this as much of a tribute to Tom Petty as it is for Don Everly who passed away last year at the age of 84. The song selection is top notch, hitting only a few tunes that were in heavy rotation on oldies radio (“Cathy’s Clown,” “When Will I Be Loved”) and filling it out with some choice rockabilly jams, covers (“I Walk The Line,” “Maybellene”) and some heartrending ballads. I’m curious to hear what this set sounds like on black wax as the limited baby blue RSD edition is a little rough around the edges, fuzzing out some of the deeper bass tones and leaving a bit of non-fill to shock me out of my bliss.
Just in time for the upcoming (and long-delayed) co-headlining tour by New Order and Pet Shop Boys comes this collection of remixes by Electronic, the synthpop project led by the former band’s Bernard Sumner with contributions from the latter duo. And don’t forget the other key creative force in the mix: former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. All six of the remixes on this EP were originally released on the singles Electronic released from their 1991 debut album, and it sure is nice to have them all tucked together on one piece of wax. Saves everyone the trouble of having to track down the individual singles just to be able to enjoy 808 State’s electro reworking of the Tennant-led “Disappointed” and Danny Rampling and Pete Lorimer’s hip-house unpacking of “Feel Every Beat.” Perfect for throwback dance parties or, for folks of my age, nostalgic nights lounging in the glow of the stereo.
A hot pink 12” from Madonna feels all too appropriate, especially when the music on each copy are some of the pop sensation’s most-neon tinged tunes of the late ’80s. The two songs on this disc are both taken from the soundtrack to Madonna’s less-than-successful screwball comedy Who’s That Girl in various forms and remixes. The tunes are some of Madge’s best work of this era, particularly the unstoppable bouncy of “Causing A Commotion,” and this collection provides a great chance to truly drink in the work of producer / remixer / DJ Shep Pettibone who laid his magic hands on the three mixes of “Causing.” He adds, subtracts, stretches and twists up the song with a mind toward inducing sensory overload on the dance floor. As always, he succeeded and then some.
For this record collector and reggae fan, this recent surge in vinyl releases featuring former Wailer Peter Tosh has been a wonderful thing. The latest is this RSD expansion of a live recording to Tosh and his band released originally in 1984. Exactly when the show happened, and who is backing Tosh on this date, is information that Parlophone either didn’t have or didn’t think it was necessary to share. From the looks of the grainy video stills printed on the inner sleeves, I think Sly and Robbie are onstage with Tosh. The rest of the band is a mystery. It’s too bad because they are on fire on this recording; road tight and out to unloosen the hips and minds of everyone in attendance. Tosh sounds particularly fiery throughout. In each song, he opens his chest for all to witness how his every creative impulse is driven by equal parts fury and empathy. Coming in hot, indeed.
Both of the live concerts included on this double LP set were recorded for BBC Radio and were both part of the promotional efforts that Stiff Little Fingers undertook for their third album, 1981’s Go For It. By this point, the Irish punk band had begun further incorporating the influences of ska (look no further than their blistering version of Bunny Wailer’s “Roots, Radics, Rockers and Reggae”), reggae and pop. And leader Jake Burns was balancing out the bracing assault of his political leanings with more personal tunes like “Just Fade Away.” This set is also a document of a band still in a state of evolution. By the time they reached the University of East Anglia in 1982, they had a new drummer in Dolphin Taylor, and, with all due respect, the eight songs from that date sound like he was not quite up to speed. He flubs some fills and struggles at moments to keep up the pace. But that’s just what a live record should be. Warts and all and no apologies.
This live recording of U.K. rock supergroup Bad Company, taken from their tour supporting 1979’s Desolation Angels, was originally released as part of a two-CD set in 2016, but was spun off of its own last month for a Record Store Day release. As with so many of the rock artists of the era, Bad Company were tireless in their forward momentum, recording a new album nearly every year and then filling the months between studio sessions with live dates. Hence, the band was as toned and defined as a bodybuilder, ready to flex their skills on stage with extended solos and their seemingly telepathic chemistry. The tour the band went on in ’70s may be the peak of Bad Company’s trajectory as their albums became far less dynamic from this point on (especially after Paul Rodgers left the group in the early ’80s). It’s wonderful to get a document of their greatness like this.
Soft rockers America are a band that seems to generate emotions among listeners; you either love them or you can’t stand them. I can’t subscribe to either side of the pendulum swing. I am charmed to no end by their CSN-like vocal harmonies and the easygoing charm of their hits like “Ventura Highway” and “Sister Golden Hair,” but not enough to keep their records on my shelves. This collection of outtakes and previously unreleased recordings may stick around a while. In the creases of this transparent vinyl are little snippets of playful, ego-free studio chatter and repartee between the leaders of this group. And the alternate versions of songs that I’ve heard thousands of times in my life actually offer some new perspectives on these modern pop standards.
Sequels to popular albums always feel like a tricky proposition, or a hail mary pass for attention in the twilight of an artist’s career. Whatever Mike Oldfield’s thought processes were behind his decision to record a followup to his hugely successful 1973 album Tubular Bells, when it was released originally in 1992, it did generate a small stir among fans of electronic music and the boomers who swooned over the original LP. They had plenty to reel about with this set as well. Oldfield, with producer Trevor Horn, brings the mood of ages old British folk into the modern age with synths and sequencers joining in a maypole dance with acoustic instrumentation and melodies that strike a lovely nostalgic chord. To celebrate its 30th birthday, the album has been repressed on blue wax for RSD. It’s impressively done as the mastering work is understated and tasteful, keeping the music at the perfect soft, warm temperature for multiple listens in multiple settings.
The continued dredging of the Rolling Stones archives has once again uncovered a fascinating artifact. Following the release of Black & Blue, Mick, Keef and the boys decided to dip their toes into a North American tour by playing two somewhat secret shows at Toronto’s El Mocambo, a club that held an estimated 650 people. As always, scandal followed them as Richards was dealing with a drug bust and Mick showed up at the gigs with the estranged wife of Canada’s prime minister. As for the gigs, by all accounts, the first one was awful. But on the next night, the gears locked into place and the Stones ripped that joint apart. This 4 LP set is comprised mostly of recordings from that second gig, and it positively smokes. Loosened up by low stakes, the band dips into their bag of old blues and R&B covers (“Route 66,” “Little Red Rooster”), and lays waste to originals from throughout their already stuffed catalog.
The story behind this first ever release of Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli’s early ’70s solo album Another Side feels mythicall. Several boxes of master tapes from New Orleans-based Sea-Saint Recording Studio, including the sessions for this record, were rescued and relocated to California in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They eventually ended up at a swap meet and were purchased in 2018 by Mike Nishita, brother of the keyboardist known as Money Mark. Eventually Nocentelli was contacted about its discovery, setting the wheels in motion for this celebrated reissue that was given a second pressing this month. Thank whatever deity you choose that this was rescued from oblivion. The music is a far from the Meters’ greasy funk, as it leans into a lush folk-soul sound a la Bill Withers and Van Morrison that emphasizes Nocentelli’s sparkling guitar work and thoughtful vocalizing. Get this before it disappears again.
Originally released in 1983 on home video, Around The World is a documentary film that captures The Police on the ascendent. Touring the globe in 1979 and 1980 in support of their most recent album Regatta De Blanc, the trio were already flirting with superstardom thanks to huge hit singles “Message In A Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon,” and their incandescent live performances. All of that is on display in this film, which has been re-released on DVD and tucked inside each copy of this release that presses nine of the best performances from the movie onto a slab of gray wax. What it lacks in the dynamics that were present on the recent vinyl reissues of the Police’s catalog, it makes up for by highlighting Stewart Copeland’s spectacular drumming work and Sting’s world class showmanship.
Guitarist Brian May hasn’t released many pure solo albums in his life as he seems to prefer the company of collaborators. One exception is this 1998 release that was recorded in May’s home in the years following Queen’s then-final album Made In Heaven. Though May led the charge here, he called on a number of well-known friends to help flesh out this collection of heavy, prog-leaning rock tunes. Drummer Cozy Powell features throughout but his spot is taken over by Steve Ferrone and Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins. And there are guest appearances from buddies like Jeff Beck and Mott The Hoople vocalist Ian Hunter. This vinyl reissue stands out simply by being the first non-picture disc version of wax, but also due to the insistence in the liner notes that they stuck to the original album mixes. Or as May writes in the liner notes, “reborn just as it was originally created.” As this remastered edition bears out, his vision with Another World was clear from the jump.
Ansible Editions is just the latest imprint to arrive on the scene, hoping to bottle the lightning being generated by this recent global storm of jazz artists. So far they are off to a smashing start with recent releases by Cosmic Range members Kieran Adams, Matthew Dunn, and Andy Haas; the electronic-leaning High Alpine Hut Network; and this all acoustic quintet led by saxophonist Brodie West. Meadow Of Dreams plays the kind of off-kilter post-bop that feels like the last wobbling moments before a top sputters to a halt. I’m particularly taken with the interplay of the two percussionists Evan Cartwright and Nick Fraser who play a teasing game through, coming together and spinning away from one another with subtle gestures and applications of their trap kits. They help to urge on West’s playing, which can be a squealing reverie, a bluesy lament, or a piercing demand.
The victory lap that Sparks is enjoying of late, thanks to their dual cinematic triumphs of The Sparks Brothers and Annette, continues with another pair of vinyl reissues of the duo’s work from the ’00s. The final two releases of that decade, out this month, represent well the two sides of the Sparks’ hive mind. Exotic is pure art pop with classical leanings, lent a cheeky energy via Russell Mael’s diva-esque vocal turns and the brothers’ winking lyrics (the album opens with the lines, “Good morning. Who are you?”). The other release is a lyrical opera commissioned by Swedish National Radio that musically imagines a young Ingmar Bergman trying to make his way in the Hollywood system. It plays right to the Mael’s strengths for playful storytelling, pop culture allusions and unforgettable melodies. In the liner notes, Ronald expresses a hope to bring Bergman to the silver screen. Make it so, Hollywood.
Blue Note’s Classic Vinyl Series continues this month with reissues from a pair of under-celebrated jazz organists. The prolific Brother Jack McDuff made his bow for the label in 1969, releasing three albums for them, including 1970’s Moon Rappin’. These original compositions sit in this state of flux where jazz musicians were still holding onto the swing of post-bop but slowly giving over to the rising influence of funk and R&B. The more traditional side wins out here but when McDuff and his bandmates decide to wander into more psychedelic territory, as on the title track, the mood becomes electric. Ronnie Foster tucked a lot of experience into his belt, including performances with Grant Green, before recording his debut album Two Headed Freap in 1972. He brought that knowledge into these sessions and walked out of Van Gelder Recording Studio with a white hot LP of jazz-funk that fucks with expectations via his inclusion of harpist Gene Bianco and the steady attack of guitarist Gene Bertoncini. Stick around to the very end and enjoy “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” a Foster original that has prog and acid rock mixed into its secret recipe.
Nancy Sinatra referred to her collaborative albums with singer / songwriter Lee Hazlewood as “beauty and the beast” due to the fact that their voices aren’t a natural fit for one another. Hearing them joining forces even today, their duets often sound like a nightingale tweeting alongside a bull. But it’s that combination of disparate elements that makes this 1968 album so good, just as Hazlewood’s writing and production and Billy Strange’s arrangements find the places where psych-pop and country can cohabitate. As part of their series of re-releases of Nancy Sinatra’s catalog, Light In the Attic has remastered Nancy & Lee directly from the master tapes to wonderful effect. In addition, the label has tucked a pair of extra tracks on the end, including a sultry version of The Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting For You,” and included a thick booklet that features an long, fascinating interview with Sinatra about her working relationship with Hazlewood. In other words, the complete package.
The folks behind Paradise of Bachelors have done more for the musical career of multidisciplinary artist Terry Allen than perhaps even the artist himself could. They’ve been faithfully reissuing his albums and helping support the creation of new work. Their efforts continued this month with the re-release of two albums Allen made in the early ’80s with a ragtag group of musicians known as the Panhandle Mystery Band. Each feels like the natural next evolutionary step for outlaw country — music that sounds like it was recorded in a hungover haze. That point where muscle memory kicks in as does a world of fuzzy, regrettable memories that bleeds into every chicken scratch guitar line, sax solo and plunked piano chord. Allen holds it all together by sheer dint of will and his glassy lyrical visions of furtive couplings, all-night diners and lost souls that have still managed to keep their senses of humor. Frustratingly, both of the repressings that arrived at Record Time HQ were cut off-center, which leads to a wowing sound that only gets worse as the needle moves toward the runout groove.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of landing their first record contract, David and Howard Bellamy spent some time in their home studio re-recording a collection of their best-known songs, and a batch of new tunes, for a two CD set released in 2015. Seven years later, the Bellamy Brothers pared things down even more for this vinyl release, grabbing 12 of the best selections from 40 Years to go on one humble slab of wax. They chose wisely, kicking things off with their #1 hit from 1976 “Let Your Love Flow” and followed it up with country classics like “Dancin’ Cowboys,” “Sugar Daddy” and “Do You Love As Good As You Look.” These new recordings are impressively close to the original versions, which is either a net positive or a drawback, depending on your predilections. I go back and forth — happy that the Brothers still sound as good as they do after four decades of recording and touring, but wishing, at times, that I was listening to the older versions of certain songs.
Mondo remains the standard bearer for fine vinyl versions of great movie soundtracks through their reissues of great scores for films like Jurassic Park and Halloween and new releases like this double LP release of Tom Tykwer and Johnny Klimek’s score for the sci-fi / action film The Matrix Resurrections and a set of remixes of that same music done by a fine cast of producers (Thomas Fehlmann and Marcel Dettman, among them). The tense, high-energy score that Tykwer and Klimek dreamed up is a perfect accompaniment to the film, which did a fine job of continuing the adventures of Neo and Trinity, and their efforts made the translation to vinyl well — even on colored wax meant to look like you’re heading into hyperspace. The remixes are just as strong, especially when the music has been dramatically overhauled as Fehlmann and Klimek’s own group System 01 did.
That’s not a typo up above. On this night — November 12, 1967 — the famed Dave Brubeck Quartet were down one member when they left for Vienna as saxophonist Paul Desmond went “missing” after their gig the night before in Hamburg. (He rejoined them in Paris.) The disappearing act apparently left Brubeck feeling furious and any frustration he carried with him onstage poured into his playing, as heard on this vinyl reissue of a live recording originally released on a European label in 2020. The light touch the pianist is known for was interspersed by hammering chords and explosive solos. His fellow musicians, drummer Joe Morello and bassist Eugene Wright, responded in kind with a forceful energy that is evident even in a song as springy as “One Moment Worth Years.” They all had space to fill and used every last square inch of it.
BeatRocket, a sublabel of reissue imprint Modern Harmonic, specializes in resurrecting once-neglected garage and psych rock artists from around the world, up to and including acts of a current vintage like their reissues of two albums by Lilys. More recently, BeatRocket has pressed up two impressive collections of frug-ready pop from New York combo the 8th Wonders of the World and Nashville girl group the Mam’Selles. The former only released a pair of 45s during their short time together — four songs that marry the fringe-shaking joy of the Beatles with the fried atmosphere found on Forever Changes. The collection is capped off by seven tunes laid down to acetate in 1967 but never heard until this reissue. The latter group were regulars at clubs around Nashville, playing the hits of the day (“Proud Mary,” “Son of a Preacher Man,” etc.) and swapping instruments as they went. This trio released a sole album in 1969, which has been reissued here. The music is a small step above your typical lounge act thanks to their infectious enthusiasm and spirited playing.
The Lehigh Valley rock group known as The High Keys had their moment in the early ’70s, gigging up and down the East Coast and gaining a reputation as a powerful live act. But when they tried to level up by recording a studio album, they couldn’t find any labels to take them on and their momentum stalled out. The band split up in 1974. The tapes for their unreleased LP have remained unheard by the larger world until now, thanks to the always fine work of Sundazed. It’s difficult to understand what the record execs of the world didn’t hear with this group. With their tight vocal harmonies, R&B-inspired grooves and ambitious arrangements, the High Keys slotted right into that zone where groups like the Guess Who and Three Dog Night called home. Perhaps that was their undoing, however, as the lane was already filled with records just like this one. Here’s to some long overdue recognition and many more spins of this delightful LP.