LA-based 90s slowcore pioneers SPAIN – led by musician Josh Haden, son of jazz bass legend Charlie Haden – is kickstarting their long-awaited return with the release of a brand new LP of recently unearthed tracks, re-mixed and re-imagined by storied producer/musician Kramer in 2021 at his Noise Miami Studio for his label, Shimmy-Disc.
WORLD OF BLUE (out today, September 30 via Shimmy-Disc/Joyful Noise) is the first ever vinyl release of five previously unreleased tracks, including “I LIED” and “HER USED-TO-BEEN,” taken from a historic 1994 16-track recording session (led by producer Tom Grimley at Poop Alley Studios in LA) that predates the band’s 1995 landmark album, The Blue Moods Of Spain.
Today finds the release of the LP’s final single, the aforementioned “HER USED-TO-BEEN,” alongside an accompanying music video made by Kramer.
Haden wrote the following of the track described as a “love song influenced by Bessie Smith.”
“In the late 1980s, I worked as a music librarian at KCRW while taking college classes at Santa Monica College. One of the perks of the job was taking home lots of great music. The music director let me keep a Bessie Smith box set, and I listened to those discs all the time. “Her Used-To-Been” is paraphrased from a Bessie Smith song about how the protagonist goes back to her abusive ex-. In my version, I’m the protagonist and I’m telling Bessie to not go back.”
WORLD OF BLUE is out now via all DSPS, and will be released on limited edition vinyl via Shimmy-Disc/Joyful Noise on October 21. Pre-Orders are open HERE.
SPAIN are a Los Angeles-based alternative rock band founded in 1993 by Josh Haden (son of jazz bass legend Charlie Haden). Initially connected to the 1990s “slowcore” movement, the original line-up included Haden on bass and vocals, Ken Boudakian on lead guitar, Merlo Podlewski on rhythm guitar, and Evan Hartzell on drums.
After recording a well-received demo and 7” single, and playing frequently at legendary Silver Lake venue Spaceland (née Pan, more recently called The Satellite [RIP – Satellite closed for good in 2020]), SPAIN signed with Restless Records in 1994. The band travelled to San Francisco in early 1995 and spent a month recording their debut album at the now extant Brilliant Studios, with Norm Kerner (American Music Club) at the producing helm. The debut 1995 album, The Blue Moods Of Spain, garnered the band a devoted cult following and enabled them to tour the U.S., Europe, and Australia. The album was included on many music magazine “best of” lists for the year. In 1996, Spain performed on the landmark French television talk show Nulle Part Ailleurs. During this time, they also toured as the opening band for Cocteau Twins during the legendary UK band’s final U.S. tour.
In the mid-late 1990s, several songs from Blue Moods were featured in different films and TV shows (Phoenix, In God’s Hands, Winterschläfer, Garage Days, Popular). A huge Blue Moods poster appeared in an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210. The Red Hot Chili Peppers covered their song “Spiritual” in concert. In addition, “Spiritual” was recorded by Johnny Cash (on his Grammy-winning, Rick Rubin-produced Unchained), and by Charlie Haden and Pat Metheny on their Grammy-winning “Beyond The Missouri Sky.”
In 1997, film director Wim Wenders commissioned SPAIN to write and perform a song for his film End Of Violence. The result, “Every Time I Try,” is an audience favorite.
In 1999, Spain travelled to the Swedish island of Vaxholm to record their sophomore album, She Haunts My Dreams. Participating in the recording were the late Swedish jazz pianist Esbjörn Svensson (who contributed keyboard and piano performances along with string arrangements), former Soundtrack of our Lives guitarist Björn Olsson, and sometime R.E.M. and Beck drummer Joey Waronker. With new guitarist/keyboardist Shon “Goldenboy” Sullivan (replacing Ken Boudakian), drummer Will Hughes (Evan Hartzell had parted ways with the band in 1996), acoustic guitarist Podlewski, and new lead guitarist Olsson in tow, SPAIN toured extensively for the album, headlining large venues across Europe. A song from the album, “Our Love Is Gonna Live Forever,” was featured prominently in an episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under.
In 2000, the band, minus Olsson, stayed in Los Angeles to record their third album, I Believe. Shortly before the album was released, Sullivan left the group to concentrate on his solo work, and Podlewski accepted an invitation to play bass for surfing superstar Jack Johnson’s fledgling acoustic rock band. Rather than immediately put together a new group from scratch, Haden took an extended break from the band, recording a solo album for Dreamworks Records (later released on his own Diamond Soul Recordings). A SPAIN best of compilation, Spirituals: The Best Of Spain, was released in 2003.
Haden reformed Spain in 2007 with all-new members and began playing gigs again in their native L.A. Since then, the band has released four critically-acclaimed studio albums, The Soul Of Spain (2012, Glitterhouse), Sargent Place (2014, Glitterhouse, Dine Alone), Carolina (2016, Glitterhouse), and Mandala Brush (2018, Glitterhouse, Dangerbird), and toured extensively in Europe and the U.S. Live At The Love Song (2017, Glitterhouse) documented SPAIN’s celebrated Los Angeles live residency, which ended in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. SPAIN’s latest single, “Love Will Come To Town,” was released in December 2020.
World of Blue documents SPAIN’s 1994 16-track recording session at Poop Alley, the legendary L.A. recording studio. This LP documents the origin story of SPAIN and is the debut release with Shimmy-Disc.
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