FOLLOWING A SELL OUT OF VINYL ON RECORD STORE DAY R.E.M.’s UNPLUGGED: THE COMPLETE 1991 AND 2001 SESSIONS RELEASED ON CD AND DIGITALLY
SET TO FEATURE BOTH OF THE BAND’S APPEARANCES ON THE MTV SERIES, INCLUDING SEVERAL UNAIRED PERFORMANCES
R.E.M. delivered two knockout performances on MTV’s acclaimed “Unplugged” series, the first in 1991 and the other in 2001, giving them the unique distinction of being the only band to appear on the series twice. Surprisingly, audio from both shows has never been available, making these some of the most demanded music in the R.E.M. vaults. That all changed this past weekend on Record Store Day 2014, when Rhino released both performances as a limited edition, four-LP vinyl set. The collection includes every performance from the original broadcasts, as well as 11 songs that never aired. Following the sell-out of the limited edition vinyl Rhino has released the collection digitally and as a 2-CD set.
The “Unplugged” performances are sonic snapshots that capture the legendary Athens, Georgia band at important points on its journey from alternative-music progenitors to international stars that have sold more than 85 million albums.
New this week in the iTunes Rhino Catalog Room:
Force M.D.’s, Love Letters: Wait, didn’t all of the Force M.D.’s albums hit the digital catalog back in April? Well, we thought they did, but apparently there was some sort of holdup with this one. That, or maybe we just got confused because the guys are wearing the same attire on this album as they do on Let Me Love You: The Greatest Hits. Either way, now you can own their top-10 R&B hit “Tears” in the context of the album on which it originally appeared, so hooray!
Albert King, King of the Blues Guitar (Mono): We here at Rhino are kicking off a new weekly reissue program called Mono Monday, and don’t overthink this, because it’s exactly what it sounds like: we’re adding a new mono release to the digital catalog every week. Starting us out is the classic compilation blues guitarist Albert King. If you’re not a purist, then the idea of listening to an album in glorious mono may not mean much to you, but we know our audience well enough to realize that there’s plenty of you out there who’ll be anxious to see what’s going to be coming down the pike each week. Why, it almost makes Mondays worth looking forward to. Not quite…but almost.
If you’re a fan of the Ramones, then you’re doubtlessly aware that their back catalog has been available digitally for quite some time, but their hook-heavy punk stylings sound better than ever now that they’ve been mastered for iTunes.
The albums that’ve received the mastering treatment stretch from their self-titled 1976 debut all the way up through 1987’s Halfway to Sanity, which – if you’re one of those people who absolutely, positively needs to know all the album titles – means that the other inclusions are Leave Home (1977), Rocket to Russia (1977), Road to Ruin (1978), End of the Century (1980), Pleasant Dreams (1981), Subterranean Jungle (1983), Too Tough to Die (1984), and Animal Boy (1986). Also in the mix: the two Sire Years sets which collect the band’s albums from 1976-1981 and, for a more expansive collection, from 1976-1989.
by Ted Olson
The Folk Box is the kind of album that changes lives—I know this because it changed mine, assuredly for the better. And over the years I have heard that The Folk Box played an important formative role in the lives of many other people.
About the time I was learning to stay upright on a bicycle (1967), I discovered my parents’ record collection, which contained a host of titles—classical and jazz, mostly—that held little appeal to a six-year-old. But one album captured my interest—a thick box set with an appealingly rustic, unpretentious front cover. Somehow that cover spoke to me, in a rough yet reassuring voice, saying “Listen here.” And so I obliged, spinning one and then all of its four LPs on the family turntable. From the speakers wafted voices and songs that were at the same time familiar and mysterious; it was as if I was being summoned to hear news from a world I needed to know about, even if I was too young to fully comprehend that world. The ultimate evidence that that album — The Folk Box — had gotten through to me: I wanted to hear more—more of humanity’s other folk music.
Tonight at 10 PM EST / PST, the ongoing PBS documentary series Independent Lens offers the network premiere of Muscle Shoals, which shines a spotlight on the Alabama city where thousands of classic songs have been recorded over the years, many of them at FAME Studios, founded by Rick Hall. We had an opportunity to chat with Hall, who discussed the founding of his studio, hit on some of his career highlights, and talked about working with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and even the Osmonds.
Rhino: How did you find your way into having a studio in Muscle Shoals in the first place?
Rich Hall: Well, I quit my job at Reynolds Metal making tin foil, built (FAME Studios), set it up, and said, “Let’s do it!” [Laughs.] That’s what happened.
Was that something you’d always had an eye on doing, or was it just on a whim?
No, I had played music all my life. I’d been playing since I was six years old, me and my sister sang in gospel quartets, and all that kind of crap, so I had a lot of experience. I was in the high school band, and we won first place in the state of Alabama for a string-band contest, so I’d been on radio stations and worked gigs for many years. So I was familiar with what I wanted to do. And I was a songwriter and a singer – I had my own band called the Fairlanes – but when the crunch time came in the 1960s, I quit making country music because I was writing country songs and having a lot of success with ‘em. I had hits with George Jones, Brenda Lee, Roy Orbison, and people like that, so I’d made a little money at it, and I just decided to do it full-time.