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SoundStage! Update
 

Now on CD -- Finally

September 21, 2006

The compact disc is so ubiquitous that it's hard to remember when it was a novelty and more rare than SACDs are today. Back in the early days of the CD, magazines would publish "Now on CD" lists to let readers know which pre-CD-era recordings they could now buy on shiny disc. Those lists have long been obsolete because so many recordings originally on LP have made it to CD. However, there are still a few notable holdouts, two of which have made it to CD over two decades after their initial releases.

Ellen Foley's Spirit of St. Louis [Sony 4949792] is an oddball. Foley, a St. Louis native, is best known for singing opposite Meat Loaf on "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and as part of the cast of the NBC sitcom Night Court -- a curious combo to be sure. In the early '80s, Foley dated Mick Jones, guitarist and co-leader of the Clash. Jones and Joe Strummer wrote six of the songs on Spirit of St. Louis, and they are the reason to buy this CD. The album has an ethereal artsiness that gets in the way of some fine songs, but the Strummer/Jones contributions are a strong backbone. US buyers will have to pay a premium for this CD; it's a domestic release only in Japan. What, Sony puts out too many CDs here in the US that they couldn't include this one?

I went to a Warren Zevon concert in the mid-'90s that became part of a live album, Learning to Flinch [Giant 24493]. Zevon played solo in a small venue with just his piano, guitar and a computer for backing samples. When Zevon died three years ago, his first live album, 1980's Stand in the Fire, recorded at the Roxy in Los Angeles, had not been released on CD. This is one of Zevon's very best albums, capturing the offbeat humor of many of his best-known songs, which were embellished with impromptu lyrics. Stand in the Fire was released on CD earlier this year [Vivid Sound Japan 279], and, like Spirit of St. Louis, it's an import that costs around $40. Zevon's 1982 album The Envoy [Vivid Sound Japan 280] was released on CD at the same time.

With these recordings down, I'm now waiting for T-Bone Burnett's Proof Through the Night to make it to CD. It's another early-'80s release, so there's hope....Marc Mickelson, editor@soundstage.com


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