Vinyl Minded: Neil Young, Chris Rea, Streetwalkin' Cheetahs and Atmosphere

Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Fu##in' Up (Warner Records/Reprise)

2LP limited edition clear vinyl

The band is billed as "Neil & the Horse" on the cover, but this live album is a special Record Store Day release that sees Young and Crazy Horse performing the 1990 album Ragged Glory (often considered a grunge record) in its entirety and then repackage it.

"Fuckin' Up" was the third track on Ragged Glory, and that's the song that gifts this release its name (we're not sure why Young and the label felt the need to edit it here -- perhaps because it's on the front cover this time?). Meanwhile, all of the song titles have been changed, with a new name pulled from the lyrics.

It's all very awkward, gloriously oddball, and wonderfully Neil. Naturally, the music is great here because Ragged Glory was an excellent Crazy Horse album, and the band is still awesome. Just the right amount of loose to give these tunes the room to breathe that they need.

Meanwhile, the packaging is lovely. The cover is stark (if a little reminiscent of Deftones' White Pony sleeve). The art by Mazzeo on the inner sleeves is reason enough to get this vinyl, and the clear vinyl is beautiful.

Chris Rea

Stony Road (Ear Music)

Limited edition heavyweight 2LP orange vinyl

Originally released in 2002 as Dancing Down the Stony Road, the snappier Stony Road has been released on vinyl for the first time and it's an album that certainly benefits from the heavyweight LP treatment.

This is the English (Middlesbrough, near Newcastle, to be exact) blues rock troubadour at his bluesiest. It's an earthy, soulful, sorrowful record that sees Rea employ his throaty vocals beautifully. Rea may have commercially peaked with the Road to Hell ('89) and Auberge ('91) albums, but Stony Road proves that he still had a lot to say in the new millennium.

The band is putting in a marvelous shift here, as Rea transports the listener from Tyneside to the Mississippi Delta and back again. The title tracks is a slow burn that is as evocative as it is hypnotic.

The album, which has to be played at 45rpm, looks gorgeous in orange on the turntable. The art suits the music, which is always the point. Overall, one can't shake the feeling that this is the Chris Rea that Chris Rea wants to be.

The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs

Call the Dogs (Heavy Medication)

10" four-track EP

Crazy Operator (Ghost Highway)

Limited edition 7" four-track tour EP

L.A. rockers the Streetwalkin' Cheetahs recently released with of these EPs or singles (whatever you want to call them) -- eight awesome tracks spread over 17 total inches of vinyl.

All see the band blending rock 'n' roll sub-genres with glee. "Call the Dogs"sees them at their punky best, while "'80s Baby" (co-written by Chip Wilson) is reminiscent of Hanoi Rocks' Michael Monroe in his Demolition 23 days. "Victim of the Service Industry" is a working person's anthem with some '60s power-pop vibes.

Onto the 45, and "Crazy Operator" is a great rock 'n' roll anthem in the vein of Danko Jones or the Supersuckers. The cover of late Buzzcocks man Pete Shelley's first solo single "Homosapien" is a nice touch -- it's a song that more people should be familiar with. And "Let's Dance" is an appropriately frantic finish.

The art on both, as seen above, is perfect, and the fact that both records were recorded at Kitten Robot Studios by Paul Roessler (Screamers) makes complete sense.


Strictly Leakage (Rhymesayers)


Originally released in 2007 as a gift to fans -- a free, download-only album -- Strictly Leakage has now been released on 2Xvinyl for the first time.

Atmosphere is a hip-hop group that formed in Minneapolis in '96, fronted by rapper Slug, and they've released 13 album and 10 EPs. Apparently, this one qualifies as an EP despite it featuring 13 songs spread over two discs.

No matter, the music sees the group at its funky best, Slug spitting out stories of everyday life and Dj Ant keeping things tight. If this is your introduction to Atmosphere, you could do a lot worse.

According to the press release, "Finally, the project returns to double-vinyl LP and CD, made available for retail distribution for the first time. Additionally, an exclusive pressing of blue & green colored vinyl LP’s and limited cassettes are available for pre-order directly from the artists! Introduced on Christmas Day 2007, the mixtape was a "gift" to fans in the form of a free download, aptly titled Strictly Leakage--a nod to both eschewing standardized industry practices in favor of giving the music away, and to another prominent hip-hop album title from the era that inspired them and perhaps more specifically, these recordings."