More lost albums found by readers


August 12, 2001


Rock criticism is at its best when it takes the form of a spirited dialogue between people who care passionately about the subject.

How do those of us who love rock 'n' roll talk about it? We sit around with our friends, listen to music together, and try to turn each other on to sounds that we enjoy--or we rail against something we bought that turned out to be an empty hype.

To that end, I always welcome e-mail and letters from readers. I try to respond to them, and we run the most thought-provoking in the paper as space allows.

Responding to my Sunday Showcase article on famous rock albums that were never officially released [Aug. 4], many readers wrote in to point out that Prince's ''Black Album'' was eventually issued by Warner Bros. in the fall of 1994, after the artist split from the label. The disc was deleted again several months later, so you could say that it was lost, found, and then lost again.

A limited edition of the debut album by the Stalk Forrest Group (predecessor of Blue Oyster Cult) turns out to have also been made available by Rhino as ''St. Cecilia: The Elektra Recordings.'' Other letters included the following additions to the ''lost classics'' list.

I was hoping that the Rolling Stones ''Rock and Roll Circus'' album would have merited mention in this article. The material from this 1968 performance has been bootlegged for years, and Rhino Records finally issued it last year. It was definitely worth the wait.

John Pyka

Back in the late '60s, Rick James and Neil Young recorded an LP for Motown which was never issued due, I believe, to Rick's status as a conscientious objector [to the Vietnam War]. Likelihood of this ever seeing any manner of release is probably nil. I'm not a big fan of either, but it seems like such an odd pairing that I'd love to just hear it once.

lo-fi jr, via e-mail


Awesome article. I've thought up a couple of albums that no one is able to buy: 1. Poison, ''Crack A Smile'': Recorded in 1996 after then-guitarist Richie Kotzen stole another band member's girlfriend. No C.C. on this album, but Blues Saraceno fills his shoes nicely. 2. Colorfinger, ''Deep In The Heart Of The Beast In The Sun'': This one was released back in 1991, but the record company soon went under. This gem features a very young Art Alexakis of Everclear singing country-laced grunge-rock.

Ricky Roe

As expected, mention of Brian Wilson's ''Smile'' album prompted enthusiastic debate with Beach Boys fans. Astute listener Bobby Fowler made the following points.

I'm always up for discussion about the ''Smile'' album. True, the ''record'' isn't nearly as great as ''Pet Sounds.'' And I definitely disagree with these indie-rock, modern day Wilsonites who claim that ''Smile'' would have knocked ''Sgt Pepper's'' into obscurity. But the album (which I tried desperately to track down in high school) is awesome. The tracks that were later hacked up, overdubbed and basically ruined for release on future Beach Boy albums were, in their ''Smile'' days, clearer, more provocative tracks than what Mike Love and various ''producers'' made them into. ''Heroes and Villains'' is a good example; the original version was broken into two parts with a link track in between. The ''Smiley Smile'' version is a pale, slicked up and phony. Ditto the ''Smiley Smile'' track, ''She's Going Bald.'' On the original ''Smile'' tapes, this cut appears as a one-minute long tune with drums, bass and a spare piano sound, with Brian singing a bizarre vocal. The ''Smiley Smile'' version is pure Mike Love wankery.

Bobby Fowler

My Aug. 1 review of the reunited Roxy Music's concert at the Allstate Arena prompted several readers to note that I misquoted the lyrics of ''Oh Yeah.'' Bryan Ferry sings, ''There's a band playing on the radio, with a rhythm of rhyming guitars.'' I've always heard ''grinding guitars,'' and I sort of like that line better! I refer everyone to 'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy, Gavin Edwards' amusing book of misheard rock lyrics.

In the same review, I placed the blame for the sound problems on Clear Channel Entertainment, contending that the promoters had placed the show at the wrong venue. Chicago's Clear Channel vice president Scott Gelman had the following response.

Dear Jim: We're glad you enjoyed the Roxy Music show at Allstate Arena last Monday. We must disagree, however, with your implication that our company was somehow responsible for a sound quality you did not initially find pleasing. As you know, touring artists travel with their own sound systems and engineers, and Roxy is no exception. The sound was place, mixed, and monitored by the band's crew, and any adjustments that were made as the show progressed were made by that crew and not by the promoter.

Also, you assert that the show was placed in the wrong venue and belonged at a smaller theatre. The reality is that the band was available for only one night in Chicago, and a smaller venue would have cut in half the number of people who could enjoy the opportunity to see Roxy Music for the first time in 20 years.

Scott Gelman, vice president, Clear Channel Entertainment

Here are two opposing viewpoints on one of the key issues of the summer concert season of 2001: the ubiquitous corporate sponsorships.

Jim: In reading a lot of your recent reviews and articles, you are clearly annoyed at the presence of corporate ads appearing a lot of concert venues and shows. Let's face it, the entire entertainment industry has become one big advertisement. In sports, you have everything from ads on the boards at hockey arenas to patches on tennis players. I admire those fighting to keep ad signs out of Wrigley Field, but the great Fenway Park even has ads now. In TV and movies, all you see are product placements. Music is no different. Maybe if many individuals in the entertainment industry didn't command such big pay days, we wouldn't see this. I just basically tune out these ads (or I try to as best I can). From a music standpoint, I don't give a band higher marks just because they don't surround themselves with corporate ads. They still have to deliver a good performance, and that's solely what I'll judge them on.

Chris Stompanato

Jim: You praised the correct points about Radiohead [Aug. 2], though your indifference towards their music is disappointing. I'm a 43-year-old architect, and I love their music, with an excitement toward a band as a fan I haven't experienced since my obsessive days of following the Clash and the Beatles. My wife and I talked to many fans at the concert, and we all agreed on these points, which put this band in a level by themselves: The sound was amazing, as was the setting. Here is a band requesting wondrous sites, places where their ethereal music can be elevated with the setting. They respect themselves and us enough to demand great sound. And the lack of corporate sponsorship was noticed by all!

Jim Brandt

Two more opposing viewpoints, these on the subject of my review of 'N Sync's ''Celebrity'' [July 24].

Do you know the reason 'N Sync has fans? It is not because they are pretty faces on lunch boxes. They have talent! 'N Sync clicked with millions of other fans around the world; they must have SOMETHING to have all of these people love their music. As far as the new CD goes, it's very good. The reason people are putting it down is because it is different--not bad different, good different. People reject the unfamiliar. If you actually listen to these songs, they are very well-written and well-produced. You wrote, ''They're complaining about how very, very hard it is to be fabulously rich, handsome, and famous, underappreciated by critics and preyed on by shallow women who are only after them for their benjamins.'' Where do you get that? Did you even listen to the song ''Celebrity''? Nowhere in the song did they mention how hard it is to be handsome, underappreciated by critics or rich. The whole song is about a girl who played them and just wanted them for their money, which is something you have to be careful about when you are in their shoes. Have you ever been famous? I didn't think so.

Carli M., Morton Grove

It is extremely rare that I agree with your music reviews, Jim, but after buying and listening to ''Celebrity,'' I have to concede that your review is right on target. Nothing bothers me more than celebrities complaining that their lives are too tough--oh, the horrors of being rich and famous! 'N Sync had a great sound with ''No Strings Attached.'' That was a great pop album, and because of its success, they want to try and stray as far away from that sound as possible? Makes no sense to me. I think this album will sell well only because of the built-in fan base, but I for one am wholly disappointed. Even my best friend, who is a hardcore 'N Sync fan, admitted that it's ''not so good.'' I think I would've been better off buying one of those 'N Sync dolls.

Sarah Moen

Finally, a reader poses the following mystery.

Jim: Recently I've noticed musicians wearing sweat bands on their wrists. Regardless of the rest of their clothing, they are wearing the same incongruous Little League-type blue, white and red wrist bands when they're performing--Eddie Vedder, Ben Harper, Mickey Hart, to name a few. They are even wearing them on television appearances, where they aren't exactly working up a sweat over several hours at an outdoor music festival. Is this an obscure rock 'n' roll symbol? A tribute of some sort? Or an inside joke?

Grant Rosenberg

Well, Grant, you've stumped me, so I'll do what I always do in these cases and throw it back to the readership: Anybody have any ideas? As always, I welcome comments on this burning issue and all other aspects of the Sun-Times' music coverage at