March 17th, 2011
Back in the early 1990s when Lewis Shiner wrote Glimpses “lost” rock albums were lost. The book is about Ray Shackleford, a stereo repairman, who begins hearing glimpses of the great lost albums of the 1960s and eventually finds himself at the recording sessions themselves. His experiences lead him to become the ultimate bootlegger. Shackleford finds himself in a world where The Beatles’ Get Back did not suffer transmogrification into Let It Be via string arrangements; Jimi Hendrix finishes First Rays of the New Rising Sun; The Doors’ epic “Celebration of the Lizard” reaches fruition and we never know Waiting for the Sun; and Brian Wilson’s madness is tempered long enough for Smile to be completed.
Over the years bits and pieces of these albums made their way to the public. In Hendrix’s case there was a series of posthumous compilations in the 1970s while The Doors performed their lengthy ditty live and so recordings of concert performances were released. Smiley Smile featured a few compositions from Wilson’s aborted attempt at his masterpiece and we ended up with Let It Be. With the advent of the box set retrospective and the CD, record companies and artists have been finding new ways to plunder back catalogues and cash in on Baby Boomer nostalgia. And I suppose that over the years rock has transcended its former status as purely the music of the teenage years and has been recognized as art. Thusly some rock music has been carefully presented as classic artifacts.
Regardless of motivation, the years since Shiner’s book was first published saw most of the lost albums he wrote about be found. 2003 saw the release of Let It Be…Naked, a version of the album that was more or less Get Back, the album The Beatles had wanted to make. Hendrix’s estate released First Rays of the New Rising Sun in 1997. At the time of Hendrix’s death the album was still in flux with no finalized track list but the album we ended up with seems as reasonable an attempt to piece together what he would have done as possible some 27 years after the fact. An outtake of “Celebration of the Lizard” came out in 2003 on a Doors best-of and also on the remastered version of Waiting for the Sun.
That leaves The Beach Boys Smile as the only one not to see the light of day. But that is to change soon as recordings from those sessions are to be out soon.
Culled from 30 hours of studio sessions and featuring no re-recorded parts, Smile will be released in a variety of formats: a two-CD set, an iTunes digital album, and a massive limited-boxed set with four CDs, two vinyl LPs, two vinyl singles, and a 60-page hardbound book, Billboard reports. The surviving Beach Boys are all on board with the Smile release — a major achievement, since disputes halted past plans — and the 1966 album will be released later this year, though no date has yet been confirmed.
Soon the last of the big four lost rock albums will finally see the light of day.
I read a few days ago that Black Beauty by Arthur Lee and Love will be released at last.
A previously unreleased 1973 album by influential Los Angeles psychedelic soul band Arthur Lee and Love will surface belatedly on June 7 as the initial release from a new boutique reissue label, High Moon Records.
Lee had planned to put “Black Beauty” out on his Buffalo Records label, but the company folded before it came out and the tracks were shelved. High Moon will release the 10 tracks originally planned to be on the album along with bonus tracks, new liner notes and previously unpublished photos from the period.
Are there anymore legendary lost albums yet to come out?