STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: THE THIRD MIND is about to be
released. How are you feeling about the way the album turned out and the
reaction to it so far?
DAVE ALVIN: I am extremely happy about how THE THIRD MIND album
sounds and the performances on it. It’s about the most musically experimental
album I’ve ever been involved with so I’ve been keeping track of responses both
from my longtime fans as well as from new listeners who are just discovering
the group and album. So far, most people seem to really like it. There’s been a
few folks who nicely say that they prefer my other, more roots-rock material
but only one or two have told me that I suck.
Bob Irwin should be in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Or at least have his own star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Or maybe have a star named after him. And the reason why is really quite simple. Over 30 years ago, he started a label called Sundazed and literally changed the world of CD reissues. From the label’s debut, THE FABULOUS KNICKERBOCKERS in 1989 to the label’s most recent releases, they’ve been handled with love and care. Great mastering, packaging, liner notes, and the addition of bonus tracks when available, every Sundazed release is a work of art and labor of love. The label has released catalog titles by The Velvet Underground, Buck Owens, Link Wray, Byrds, Meters, Bob Dylan, Love, MC5, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and many others.
While steering the Sundazed ship, Bob also had a 25-year relationship as a producer for Sony Music. Bob curated and restored titles by Santana, Janis Joplin, The Byrds, Sly & The Family Stone, Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jefferson Airplane, Donovan, and Carole King. Oh, and loads of others as well. There’s a pretty good chance that if you are a collector, you own at least 29 titles that Bob has worked his magic on!
I’ve collected Sundazed CDs throughout the years. And going through their catalog, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on some of my favorite titles on the label. Some are obscure while others are cult classics. All of them are very much worth your time. And some of them are even available on vinyl! However, I’m a CD man so that is what I’m focusing on below.
OK, let’s get this party started. Grab your favorite beverage and start taking notes!
Throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, and
‘90s, American Rock critics found it necessary to treat the Canadian music
scene like a bad joke. When, where, why, and how Canada become a punchline for
music journalists remains a mystery, but our northern neighbors have had the
last laugh. In the last two decades alone, bands like The New Pornographers, Arcade Fire, Bran Van 3000, Death From Above
(1979), and Broken Social Scene
have achieved great success in the U.S., both critically and commercially. The
older music journalists that once roamed the halls of Rolling Stone, Creem, Circus, and other magazines have slipped away
into the shadows, replaced by a new legion of critics who no longer have an
aversion to Canadian music makers. The times they are a-changin’!
In the Pop Music industry,
longevity is a rare thing indeed. Most big-selling acts are in the spotlight
for two to five years before sliding off the radar and fading into the shadows.
Some acts split up and are never heard from again. Others lose a few members
and spend the rest of their careers playing county fairs. And then you have and
act like Pet Shop Boys, a British
duo that formed 39 years ago and have been crafting hit records since 1985. And
thankfully, they show no signs of abandoning the music world anytime soon. And
for that, we should all be grateful…
On paper, musical collaborations always seem to work. In the studio or on the stage, not so much. The intentions might be good, but ultimately, the music is uninspired and forgettable. From Rock to Jazz, Hip Hop to Country, collaborations are normally inspired by mutual respect between artists. However, bad chemistry, ego, or record label interference can sink the ship faster than a torpedo from a nuclear submarine. On the other hand, there are some collabs that exceed expectations. When magic happens, we really need to pay attention. Thankfully, UNIFIED, the 2020 release from Brian Simpson and Steve Oliver is a grand success! While this isn’t their first walk in the park together, it is a reminder that two talents can come together as one and create something new and exciting.
Sometimes, an artist can just waltz into the music business and achieve massive commercial success within a year or two of their first recording session. That, however, is a rare occurrence. In all actuality, it can often take years of disappointment, detours, and mistakes before forward motion is achieved. Even then, commercial success isn’t guaranteed. The journey always begins with talent but luck is also a big part of the equation. The road to stardom is littered with true talents that have never caught a lucky break. Thankfully, Alexandra Savior made it through successfully, albeit with a few bumps in the road…
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s,
Eddie Money was one of the biggest
Rock stars in America. His singles were on constant rotation on AM radio
stations and his album tracks received plenty of spins on the FM dial. The Pop
kids dug him but the AOR/Classic Rock fans took him as their own. With hits
like “Two Tickets To Paradise”, “Baby Hold On”, “Shakin’”, “Think I’m In Love”,
and “Take Me Home Tonight”, Eddie created an impressive catalog of Rock and Pop
gems that are still being played on terrestrial and satellite radio stations. Some
think of him as a ‘singles’ artist but his fans know that Eddie’s albums were
solid, filled with great songs and even better performances.
You’ve heard Finneas without realizing that you’ve
heard Finneas. The L.A.-based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and
producer has performed on Saturday Night
Live, topped the Billboard Hot 100, and produced and co-wrote the #1 album WHEN
WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO. With all that going for him, it’d
be OK if you are not quite familiar with his name. You see, his sister is Billie Eilish – you know, the enormously
popular Pop singer – and hers is the name linked to all the aforementioned
achievements. However, Finneas deserves a nice chunk of the praise being thrown
in Billy’s direction because theirs is a truly collaborative relationship.
Nobody can quite figure out
why Boston-based rockers New England
didn’t become massively successful back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They
had it all – the sound, the songs, the looks, the musicianship, the right
producers (Mike Stone, Todd Rundgren,
Paul Stanley), major label support, etc. For some reason, it just never
happened. On the other hand, New England never quite fit comfortably into any
genre. With early support from KISS’
Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley,
NE wasn’t exactly KISS proteges, musically or visually. Touted as a Hard Rock
band, New England was far more melodic than 90% of their Rock contemporaries. Their
melodic hooks were tailored made for the Power Pop kids but the band rocked a
little too hard to share bills with 20/20
and The Knack. Obviously, New
England had EVERYTHING going for them… except a good marketing angle. Sadly, a
band that ignored the rules of the game were ultimately doomed to sit on the
sidelines while lesser players made it all the way to MTV. The irony is that,
37 years after their split, people are still talking about New England while a
majority of the bands that became more successful are long-forgotten.