Welcome to Digging Through The Archives, a new recurring Daily Rind feature from the Creative Services department that will explore cool vintage obscurities, under-the-radar sleepers, catalog albums in the news, and more.
Dean Reed: Dean Reed a Jeho Svět (1976, Supraphon)
The cover art caught my eye immediately. A handsome folksinger, perhaps taking an afternoon stroll through the forest, seems to have stumbled upon… A TREE WITH HIS OWN GIANT FACE! But a quick listen prompted a bigger question. Why would Supraphon, a state-owned record label from Communist Czechoslovakia, release an album (with English lyrics) by this anonymous American protest singer?
Well, Dean Reed wasn’t anonymous in the Soviet bloc. Reed (a.k.a. “The Red Elvis”) was a Colorado-born singer who denounced capitalism, embraced communism and settled in East Germany, where he became a massive star (and actor) in the 1970s. His story is so interesting that Tom Hanks acquired the film rights to his 2006 biography, Comrade Rockstar. But since that film never materialized, satisfy your curiosity with this juicy 2007 documentary and stream “You,” a bizarre hard-driving Moog-flecked highlight of Dean Reed a Jeho Svět (“Dean Reed and His World).
Días De Blues: Días de Blues (1972, Sondor)
I’m a sucker for unhinged psychedelic blues-rock from the 1960s and 1970s, like Blue Cheer and The Groundhogs. So I was blown away to discover this, the sole album by Uruguay power trio Days of Blues. Formed from the ashes of the band Opus Alfa, Días De Blues show zero restraint, bashing full-bore through a firestorm of wailing guitars like a crazed Latino Jimi Hendrix Experience. And the production is top-notch, enveloping the skull in immersive hard-panned stereo. Stream the nine-minute solo-filled opus “Cada Hombre Es un Camino” here. Or shell out a stack of Benjamins for an original vinyl pressing.
Thor: Keep the Dogs Away (Deluxe Edition) (2016/1977, Deadline)
Most iconic 1970s rock frontmen were skinny pencil-necked weaklings who couldn’t bend an iron rod onstage to save their lives. Mick Jagger? C’mon. Robert Plant? Featherweight. Enter Vancouver-born weightlifter and “muscle rock” pioneer Jon Mikl Thor, the subject of the acclaimed 2015 documentary I Am Thor. Originally selling 50K+ copies through RCA, Keep the Dogs Away is a fun campy glam-rock romp that echoes the anthemic stomp of The Sweet and Slade, with an occasional surprise, like the Lou Reed / Iggy Pop-ish “Wasted.” A new 2016 reissue boasts a crisp remaster of the original 10 songs, plus 22 rare and unreleased vintage bonus cuts (“Do the Muscle!”). Watch as Thor flexes his way through album cut “Sleeping Giant” while battling invisible enemies (Paul Stanley?) during the guitar solo.