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FIONA APPLE: I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS UNRELEASED…

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One of my favorite albums of 1996 was Fiona Apple‘s Tidal. I’m sure I was drawn in, like millions of other males, by the extremely sexy video for the lead-off single, “Criminal.” But the weakness of being influenced by the video made it so much better knowing the rest of the album was worth the listen — that the sexy girl on the TV screen really could write songs, play piano, and sing. For weeks, the CD didn’t even leave my stereo; the best time to listen was late at night with the lights turned off — I’d call it very sultry alternative jazz-pop.

I eagerly awaited the release of her next album. The initial single, “Fast As You Can,” boded well but the rest of the album just didn’t have the magic of the debut (it was good, just not THAT good) primarily, I felt, because it wasn’t as piano-driven/melodic as Tidal had been. This second release was significant for a reason wholly unrelated to the music contained within — it sported the longest title of any album I can remember: When The Pawn Hits The Conflicts He Thinks Like A King What He Knows Throws The Blows When He Goes To The Fight And He’ll Win The Whole Thing ‘Fore He Enters The Ring There’s No Body To Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand And Remember That Death Is The Greatest Of Heights And If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where To Land And If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right. Of course, the spine and most sane people just called it by the first three words of the title.

Aside from a couple of soundtrack-only songs (including a great version of The Beatles‘s “Across The Universe”), Fiona Apple then disappeared from my radar. Aside from finding a couple of bootlegs here and there, I didn’t hear anything about a third album until early last year when she appeared in the “upcoming releases” circular in a Columbia House Music Club mailing (yes, I’ve been a member for over 20 years now). But the promised album never appeared.

Until I stumbled across it last week as a binary newsgroup download. I don’t normally download officially-released material except when I’m certain I’ll purchase the actual product. I do believe in putting money in the pockets of those artists I enjoy. So, I downloaded Extraordinary Machine (it was labeled as an advanced copy so that explained why I didn’t see it on Amazon.com). But, aside from checking a couple of tracks for sound quality, I hadn’t yet listened to the entire album.

A few minutes ago, I stumbled across an article (while searching for concert reviews of Wilco‘s recent Albuquerque gig) that was headlined, “The Fiona Apple Fiasco,” dated April 19. Apparently, the album was finished in May 2003 but the record company fat-cats rejected it for being uncommercial. When Fiona couldn’t deliver what they considered a “hit single,” the album was mothballed.

Miss Apple, like so many other artists, apparently has some extremely devoted fans. One started a website, FreeFiona.com, which is dedicated to urging the record company to officially release the album. What I downloaded is actually unreleased — the eleven tracks were “mysteriously” leaked to the Internet over the past several months. I’m listening to it right now and the first six songs sound really good — at least the equivalent of the majority of her second album — particularly “Get Him Back” and “Oh Well.”

The full article can be found on the Washington Post‘s Slate Magazine site.

Cross posted at ‘Burque Blog.

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About Mark Jochim

  • anon

    those fuckers need to release this fucking album

  • http://ginasramblings.blogspot.com/ Gina

    I have a few of the tracks of this album myself on my hard drive. Not the entire thing which I wish I had because the album is truly amazing from what I’ve heard of it and deserves to be released.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    jon brion did an amazing job on the unreleased album.

    the record company is out of its mind.

  • Bob Travis

    The industry gets down on those who use P2P, Bit Torrents, binaries or other ways of obtaining music you can’t find in the music store or at iTunes. But it is my opinion people would be happy to pay for tunes they know exist if only they could find them. I searched for decades for Al “Jazzbo” Collins, “Fairy Tales for Hip Kids,” and equally long for a folk tune from the sixties — a particularly mesmerizing rendition of Phil Och’s “Crucifixion,” sung by The Sundowners. I would have paid dearly for these recordings to any music shop that had them for sale, but no one did or at least no one wanted to part with them, so it wasn’t until I discovered P2P that the seemingly impossible had become a relatively easy matter; just get online religiously, do your search, and say your prayers and eventually anything you want will become available — no thanks whatsoever to the RIAA and other’s responsible for keeping desired music out of music lover’s hands.

    Do I feel I did wrong “stealing” these tunes? No, not at all, I searched in the stores for years and never had any luck, but with the advent of P2P my luck changed and so did the luck of many other people. I hate it that I couldn’t pay the artists for their efforts, but I promise if either of these recordings ever come up for sale anywhere I buy my music I will snap them up in a heartbeat despite having listened to these mp3s a couple of dozen times since I found them. But if they aren’t going to come up for sale then I certainly don’t regret the way I stumbled upon them.

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