Finalizing my "Best of the 20th Century"

Here's a promotional poster I was using back in 1993 for the release of my debut solo album. The songs from that era have been pumping through my head. Tonight I spent an hour laying (lying?) on the floor with headphones on approving the final mastered version of my forthcoming "Best of the 20th Century" album. 20 songs written between 1988 (when I was a Junior in High School) and 1999. It's one of the most exciting times of creating a new album...hearing all the songs sequenced properly, levels and EQs all correct, the way it'll be preserved forever!

I put out four releases during those days: "28 Days..." in 1992, The Chandlers "Seven Summers" (me and my cousin Bruce) in 1994, "Wherever" in 1994, and "Recital" in 1997. All those albums have been out-of-print and unavailable for years...I think the last time I had them all in stock was in 2000. Rather than reprinting those old albums, I collected the best tunes off of them all (determined by an on-line poll of my listeners a few years ago, which some of you may have participated in) and compiled them all on one CD.

It's something I've been scheming and dreaming about ever since the early albums went out of print 5+ years ago. The initial steps I took towards the goal were immediately after the release of Sound Theology in 2000. That August I returned to my hometown in Upper Michigan, set up my digital 4-track in my parents' house and recorded a ton of drums/guitar rhythm tracks with my brother Tim for future use on just such a "Best of" CD. Our performance of my 1996-era song "Continental Divide" was rec0rded in those sessions, and appears on this new project. Then in 2002, when I was producing the album "Something Different" for the duo Lost And Found, I took a break from recording the Lost And Found drums, and had my brilliant drumming friend Lowell Michelson play the parts for some of my own songs, such as "Read the Signs" and "My Helen." These songs, too, will appear on the "Best of." So, this album has been quite a project...the songs themselves date as far back as 1988, some of the recordings go as far back as 1991, and the compiling of them all goes back to 2000. And tonight I heard the final results for the first time!

Next on the schedule is to finalize the artwork, which is being created by design-monster Jim Ward Morris who you may know from his work with Cracker and Jay Farrar. Then it's off to manufacturing for a few weeks. I hope to have this baby ready for public consumption by January or February 2007.

It's weird to spend so much time and energy on old material. However, I haven't been very interested in writing new songs lately, and I HAVE been very excited to archive my creative history, so I have only positive vibes regarding this project. As a music fan, I really love to hear early and obscure recordings from my favorite bands. In recent weeks I've picked up the CD reissue of the Rainmakers' indie debut album "Steve Bob & Rich: Balls," and on my newly acquired Bruce Cockburn reissue "High Winds White Sky" there are two amazing previously-unheard acoustic coffeehouse recordings of Bruce performing as a 20-year-old. I think it's a thrill to hear established musicians in their formative stages. In fact, just today I received a CD in trade from (by the way, I'm addicted to LaLa...check out my "CD want list" by scrolling down to the bottom of this blog) Matthew Sweet's early-years compilation "To Understand: The Early Recordings." My son Paavo and I rocked out to it this afternoon when I was washing dishes. These early tunes are so inspiring to me! I hope that'll be true for the folks who hear my own "Best of the 20th Century" album.

I'll keep y'all updated on the progress. Time for bed.


Steven Wesley said…
Ok. I love blogger too. You may have re-sparked a special love that has long been gone.

I'm excited for you and your new recording of older songs. I have plans to eventually do that myself, along with a Valentine's album that is not cheezy...but that's for another day.



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