There is a phrase I've been borrowing from the world of schoolyard amateur Football which for years has helped me paint a visual picture to friends when I try to describe my seeming obsession with collecting records by favorite artists. "Going Deep" is the term I've procured for that player who has to run way way down the field hoping to catch the bomb pass from the quarterback, enabling a touchdown.
Apologies to any sports fans who may be cringing at my clumsy description of their favorite sport. I stopped even trying to play football once I got out of elementary school.
But the term is a good one that applies to many hobbies where a bit of obsession comes in to play in order to achieve the intended goal : lets call it, perhaps, a sort of music Nirvana...
When I get into an artists, I really want to know everything about them, what makes them tick and all the good (and bad) stuff they've put out. This sort of completist mentality has led to a massive once-underground of traders and collectors of live and unreleased recordings by favorite artists ranging from The Grateful Dead and Charlie Parker to Maria Callas and Pearl Jam. But that is a whole other discussion...
It does, however, give me a springboard to share with you, Dear Readers, some of my favorite commercially released rarities discovered from my "Going Deep" on some of my favorite artists:
Elvis Costello, Couldn't Call It Unexpected #4 Live -- This version of one of Mr. Costello's finest compositions was issued on the So Like Candy EP in Europe around 1991. It was recorded in Massachusetts that year and you can easily find this amazing version now on a Rhino deluxe edition two CD set of the original album (the oft overlooked Mighty Like A Rose). Or you can track down the original CD or vinyl version of the EP. A very different version than the pop psychedelic version on original album, this version finds Mr. Costello playing piano and singing the song in a raw, stripped down manner that rips into the emotional heart of the song. This version features an unusual middle section that harkens from the obscure G.B.H. soundtrack which Costello co-authored around this same time period. Fascinating stuff.
Jeff Buckley, Mojo Pin Live at Wetlands -- This live CD-single B-side from The Last Goodbye CD EP has a stunning scream at the end, which lasts for about 10-12 seconds. This is a powerful version that challenges the official album release as definitive. You can also find this in the Grace EPs collection.
The Flaming Lips' Yoshimi in 5.1 Surround Sound -- The original album Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots is a 21st Century modern rock classic. However, not everyone knows that you can experience it anew if you have a home theater system by seeking out one of the amazing CD plus DVD Audio disc two-disc sets that the band put out. Filled with all sorts of B-sides, radio broadcasts and alternate tracks, the disc also gives you Elliot Scheiner's stunning surround sound mix which opens up the album to new vistas. Worth it alone for hearing part two of the title track in which the entire drum set flies around the room with you in the center! The Soft Bulletin and At War With The Mystics are also available in this format, both highly recommended!
Bruce Springsteen's "The Fever" -- Bruce's 18-Tracks single CD rarities collection compliments the much deeper four CD Tracks set. Even if you have Tracks (which kinda marks you as a big fan to begin with), 18 Tracks is essential because it includes three tracks NOT in the bigger set. Most notably is "The Fever," a song Bruce wrote around the time of Born To Run (maybe earlier) but which never got formally released until this set. This song was issued to radio only back in the day on reel-to-reel tape and in certain markets became as popular as other commercially released album tracks. Bruce and The E-Street Band at their jazzy bluesy soulful dramatic best.
I'll be exploring more deep catalog favorites from my collection during the year. These might be a good place to start if you are thinking about going deep.