Most of my shows are solo acoustic shows, but almost all of my recordings involve a band. You'd be stunned at the number of times I've approached listening-rooms and cafes for gigs, only to be told that they're afraid I'd be too loud. I thought the UNIMARTS album would be my springboard to performing at acoustic clubs around the world.
I recorded the concert that became SONGS FROM THE LAND OF UNIMARTS, PITBULLS + KARAOKE MACHINES specifically for the purpose of having a product representative of my solo acoustic shows.
I wish I could find the original recording from that evening at The Mattress Factory. I recorded it straight to disc. I've got HUNDREDS of unlabeled discs. It's gotta be somewhere in that pile!
That night, stringman Dave Maund and I did a very cool version of David Bowie's 1984, but when we were preparing the recording for release, the concert-length exceeded the space available on a disc, and we had to cut a song. Those closest to me said 1984 didn't really belong. Something had to be cut, and 1984 was it.
In retrospect, it DID belong. Very much so. I intuitively knew that America's commitment to freedom and self-sacrifice was waning. The world depicted in George Orwell's novel was right around the corner. That was then. It is no longer around the corner. It has arrived. Newspeak is here. Those who monitor channels of communication can render you an UNPERSON if you express a contrary idea. But I digress...
For the re-issue, I'm thinking of removing a couple of other tracks from the original UNIMARTS release and adding some bonus tracks.
What will I cut?
Originally inspired by Phil Ochs, I did Ewan MacColl's BALLAD OF A CARPENTER. Why listen to my version when you can hear Phil's? The same can be said of my version of John Lennon's GOOD MORNING GOOD MORNING. I had my reasons for recording it, of course, but who cares? I almost never perform SOMETHING HAPPENED and can't recall anyone ever requesting it, so that's probably going to be cut, too.
I want to narrow the focus and shorten the duration of the set. Originally, I'd conceived of the show as consisting of three sub-sets--Family, Faith, and Work. The "family" songs like MOTHER OF THREE, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, and CHERRY TREES are, for me, the thematic centerpieces of the album. The theme of faith is already embedded in the other songs, so why not shorten the album to include only the themes of Work and Family? I dunno.
As for "bonus tracks," I've never issued SCATTERED SEEDS, FRUITLESS TREES, AND GRANDMA'S HAT. From that album, I've got SEVENTY YEARS, DEATH SHADOW BLUES, CANCER WARD BLUES, and PET SHOP DOG. Plus, I've got a few very strong live versions of (May You Never Be) THE CHILD OF A REALIST. And wouldn't it be wild to include my live solo version of John Creighton's/NO SHELTER's LAWRENCEVILLE?
As Lou Reed sings, "Between thought and expression lies a lifetime." I've got the thought. Am I going to talk about it? Or am I going to do it? Thomas Dimuzio of Gench Mastering said he'll do the mastering for me. I suppose the rest is up to me.