Originally released in the US for Record Store Day Black Friday late last year, ‘Early Songs & Rarities’, from Grammy-nominated trio The Record Company, has recently had its UK release, first as a limited vinyl edition, and now digitally.
You might have caught the band in 2018 on Jools Holland’s annual Hootenanny show. You might have witnessed them on the most recent Rival Sons UK tour. Hopefully, you will get the chance to witness them again at Ramblin’ Man Fair in the summer. For the time being though, you can enjoy, in the comfort of your living room, the rarities that the trio recorded live in the living room of bassist Alex Stiff. As you might expect from a DIY recording, it’s raw and gritty, and refreshingly free of the type of over-production that blights so many modern releases.
With a rootin’ tootin’ handclapping’ Rolling Stones vibe, ‘Darlin’ Jane’ kicks off the eleven tracks of early nuggets in fine fashion. The lush vocal harmonies are to die for, and mixed in with the harmonica from frontman Chris Vos and rhythmic percussion work from drummer Marc Cazorla (who just happens to steal the show on ‘Medicine Man’ with his performance), the end result is a call-to-arms to roll back the living room rug and bust a move. Once you’ve settled back down from your period of exercise, it’s time to get mellow with an alternate take of ‘This Crooked City’. This is more organic than the original version featured on debut album ‘Give It Back To You’, featuring a gorgeous slide guitar throughout, as well as vocals from Vos sung in a lower key. The lazy vibe on ‘New Speedway Boogie’ is irresistable, as is the atmospheric ‘Ain’t Love Warm’, which brings an outtake session from The Band to mind.
Side B of the vinyl opens with the nine-minute jam known as ‘Never Gonna Cry For Me’. This B-side track from the vinyl pressing of the rare ‘Feels So Good EP’ is the sound of a band comfortable in their own skin from the start. The soft blues shuffle gives off a Doors vibe, and with the raw recording, chances are you could slip this onto a Doors playlist and some Shoreditch schmuck will tell you that they have the original version. ‘So What’cha Want’ is a brave cover of the Beastie Boys classic that works really well, while ‘Goodbye Sad Eyes’ is a fan favourite driven by the pulsating bass work from Alex Stiff and the sweet, sweet slide work from Vos. ‘4 Days 3 Nights’ is all about the Charlie Watts-esque drum sound from Marc Cazorla though. It’s not easy to make it look this simple, but Cazorla (like Watts) nails it. Ending with a bare bones approach on ‘The Jailor’, this album is the perfect excuse to dig a bit deeper into a band that was just beginning to make some headway over this neck of the woods. Everything crossed that Ramblin’ Man Fair goes ahead.
Available now via Snakefarm Records.
Review – Dave