Part 160/REVIEW: Harem Scarem – Acoustic Sessions (Limited Edition)

I’m going to try and cover more rarities from my collection in 2013.  Here’s a very rare one indeed!  First, the story of how I acquired it, then the review.

RECORD STORE TALES Part 160:  Harem Scarem Acoustic Sessions

Everybody at the store knew I was a big Harem Scarem fan.  A bunch of Japanese imports found their way into the store, and I bought them all.  I also played their music frequently in-store, as it was melodic and radio-friendly.  Their stuff ranged from early Jovi-goodness to mid-period progressive pop rock sounds, to later pop punk.  I liked pretty much everything they did, until they changed their name to Rubber and drifted too far into the pop direction for my tastes.

At one point in the early 2000’s, we had a large warehouse in the back of one of our stores.  The idea was, we’d warehouse stock for opening future stores.   There was a warehouse manager, and he would inventory everything in there.  We’d send him anything decent that we had too many copies of.  He’d also have stock from liquidations, or estate sales.

A lot of the time, the stuff from liquidations would include promo CD singles.  I have dozens of promo discs from him, that we couldn’t sell in store.  Usually these promo discs would have edit versions of album tracks.  I have stuff from him including promos from Metallica, David Lee Roth, Motley Crue, and King’s X.  Some of them, like the King’s X (which we’ll talk about in the future), had rare non-album tracks too.

He also ran our eBay store, and eBay have strict rules about selling promo discs.  So basically, anything that was obviously promo sat in boxes gathering dust in our warehouse.  On occasion, when it was a band like Harem Scarem that he knew I liked, he’d let me have it.  Otherwise it would have sat there for years, probably just to be thrown in the garbage at some point.

One of the discs that he sent my way was a Harem Scarem EP called Acoustic Sessions.  Subtitltled Limited Edition, there were only 500 copies made (see footnote for confirmation of this number.)

Most commercial retail releases have barcodes, and this one does not, indicating it probably was not a commercial release.   Yet it also doesn’t say, “Not For Sale: Property of Warner Music Canada Ltd.” like a promo should, so who knows?  It doesn’t even have a year printed on the case, only the CD itself (1991).  The spine of the CD doesn’t even have a serial number.  Maybe it was given to fanclub members or contest winners?

Either way:  Never seen it before, never seen it since.  I don’t truthfully know how it ended up in our possession, whether it was a liquidation, or just something we purchased off a regular customer somewhere.   The details are now lost to the sands of time, but either way it ended up in our warehouse and consequently my collection.  I also don’t recall what I paid for the disc.  Probably $3.  That would have been typical, with my staff discount, for something like this.  With hindsight, we probably could have sold it for much more than that, but the folks in charge always underestimated the selling power of bands like Harem Scarem.

If it’s true that there’s only 500 copies out there, then I’m thrilled.

Oh, who am I kidding?  It’s a rarity no matter what!  I’m still thrilled!


HAREM SCAREM – Acoustic Sessions Limited Edition (1991 Warner Music)

The EP starts with a 3:16 edit version of their single “Something To Say”, the fifth single from Harem Scarem’s self-titled debut album.  It’s a ballad, pleasant enough, acoustic.  It has a really nice acoustic guitar solo courtesy of virtuoso player Pete Lesperance.  Otherwise I’ve never considered it a standout.  If you like “To Be With You” by Mr. Big or “More Than Words” by Extreme, this is another ballad for your collection.  This same version was later released on another EP called Live & Acoustic.

Onto the exclusive acoustic tracks.  These three songs were only available here, or the 1994 Japanese import version of the debut album.  Good luck finding that today at a decent price!

The debut single “Slowly Slipping Away” (co-written by songsmith Marc Ribler) is rendered in acoustic form first.  These acoustic sessions were recorded at Cabin Fever studios and self-produced by Lesperance and singer Harry Hess.  As great a song as “Slowly Slipping Away” surely is, I think it does miss something in its acoustic form.  That really nice electric guitar hook that precedes the verses, I miss it!  I also miss that throbbing bassline.  Yet the band’s incredible harmony vocals are just as powerful as ever.

“How Long” is next, a great album track in acoustic form.   The chorus is just as big and dramatic as the album version, thanks to the band’s trademark harmonies.  In my opinion, the band’s strength here was the original drummer, Darren Smith.  What a voice.  (The quartet were rounded out by original bassist Mike Gionet who stayed for three studio albums and a couple live releases.)

“Hard To Love” was not a single, but it works really well acoustically and maybe should have been a single after all.   Once again the harmonies soar, with Smith in particularly standing out.  I’ve always felt that the band really lost something when he left in the early 2000’s.  This is a great track, radio ready and full of hooks.

The fifth and final track is just the regular album version of “Something To Say”, at 4:41, with the full (intricate) acoustic intro.

For a five song EP, this one is a winner.  Just wish I knew more about its history!

4/5 stars

ADDED NOTE:  Reader Danny has emailed the site, and heard back from somebody regarding there being only 500 copies of this CD:

yes it’s true. Very rare now, because it was released in this very limited quantity.
Take care,

Thanks for sharing!


    1. I know we threw some promos out. We junked a lot of defective discs but some were promos too.

      I’d love to know how many were really made! Maybe someone who knows will happen upon this blog and confirm.


    1. I’d be very curious what the story really is. This being 22 years old though, I wonder who even knows anymore! Half the time, the bands don’t have much involvement with stuff like this. Usually the labels put stuff like this together, especially when it’s a brand new band.


  1. Good that I read that article, as I was almost putting this cd in ebay! Yes, I own one of the 500 copies (if this is true)! But I think, back then I bought it in a regular music store, I did not get it as a contest winner or so! I guess, I should keep this cd, if it is really such a rariety! :)


  2. Sorry, … me again… I think what Wikipedia writes is wrong! I live in Germany…never been to Canada! So “only sold in Canada” can not be correct!


    1. Wow Danny, thanks for this info! You’re the only other person I’ve heard from that owns this CD.

      So you bought it in a regular store in Germany…new? Not used?


  3. I am not 100 % certain, as I own this cd since so many years. But I’m sure I bought it new! I really think I bought it in a regular store! Because, at the time, when I collected my rock cd’s – there was no internet/ebay/amazon! (See how old I am…LOL)! Also the cd is in perfect condition, like all my cd’s! Most of the used cd’s aren’t in a very good condition anymore! So I must have bought it new! The only other possibility is that I got it at a “swap meet” (if this is the right word), where they sometimes also sell rarities! Not necessarily used, you know! But I doubt that, as I didn’t go there too often…and this was about 20 years ago! ;)


    1. Wow, well thanks for all this new additional information Danny! Although I think we are no closer to learning the origin of this CD, somehow copies did make it all the way to Germany!

      Can you tell by the photos if this disc is identical to mine? Does it say that it was made in Canada at the back?


  4. It looks identical, as far as I can see. Yes, it says “P + C Warner Music Canada Ltd.”! Maybe the people to whom they are thanking managed to get a few copies to sell in Germany! As you can see, two of them are from Germany and also the design is made in Germany!?


    1. If it’s true that there are only 500 copies in the world, then imagine how many of those made it over to Germany 20 years ago. Probably not many! Were Harem Scarem big over there? Unfortunately they never made it very big here, except for the first album.


  5. Well, now I will definitaly keep this cd!! ;))
    No, unfortunately they were not really big! I have three cd’s of them. Back then I always liked to get new music from not so famous bands! I was listening to cd’s in record stores and just bought, what I liked, whether they were famous or not!


    1. Thanks for the info Danny! There’s lots of new information there, even if we are no closer to solving the mystery!

      I have lots of Harem Scarem content coming this year, I have 6 or 7 Japanese imports to talk about…they did some really great albums later on so stay tuned!


  6. HEY…guess what? I was emailing today to, which I found on their official website ( and asked them, if it is true, that there are only 500 pcs. of this cd and I just got an answer!!
    Here their answer:

    Hi Daniela,
    yes it’s true. Very rare now, because it was released in this very limited quantity.
    Take care,


  7. No, I don’t mind at all. If I find more info, I’ll let you know. I was just searching for the two Germany guys mentioned on the back of the cd! The first one (Martin) I couldn’t find at all and it seems that the other one (Erwin) already died! (If it is the same guy)!


  8. One more information: obviously this Erwin Sonderbauer was the founder of the AOR Label Long Island Records, Germany! Maybe that’s how the cd’s got here!


  9. LOL,…I guess, I better don’t sell it! God knows how much it is worth meanwhile! It is always nice to own a rarity! :)) But if I change my mind, I’ll let you know!


  10. I emailed Dan again as follows:

    Hello Dan,
    wow,….thank you for your quick answer!

    I am glad I own one of the copies! :))

    Now I’m just wondering how this cd made it’s way to Germany??
    In case you know, let me know! Thank you!!

    His answer:

    Don’t know, but it happens :) Actually I bought one in Germany as well, many years ago.


  11. Okay,…here the latest info! I asked Dan again, about my theory about Erwin Sonderbauer and he answered:

    “Yes it is possible… I remember, a few years ago I was talking with the guys from the band about this CD and they told me that some of these maxi singles were used for radio promo in Germany back in the early 90.

    So that’s probably it :) ”


    I guess we won’t find out much more about that! ;)) I’m wondering…how much do
    you think this cd is worth?? I’m just curious….! Have a nice weekend! Danny


    1. Danny I truthfully couldn’t give a dollar value to the CD. To me as a collector, I would pay approximately $50 for it, if I was missing it. My reason is that as a collector, I collect the songs more so than “every single CD” because I just don’t have the money to buy “every single CD”. Since these songs are also on the Japanese import of the first CD, and I could probably find a Japanese import for $50, then I would give them equal value to me.

      However the value is really increased to me, when you think the 500 copies were made and that’s it. That’s pretty cool and there might be fans out there willing to pay a lot more. Is it signed? I bet a signed copy could get $100.


  12. Hello, I can see from the dates on these posts I’m well behind. I’m a huge Harem Scarem fan based in the UK. I think they have played the UK 4/5 times and I have seen them and met them on each occasion and they never failed to impress. I saw them a couple of years ago at what I believe was their last gig at the Icon Club in Madrid. Not withstanding the last album Change The World I own every album they ever released on a jap pressing and all signed by the band including the acoustic sessions EP. I’m desperately looking for the Frontiers label box set release of all their albums. I’m not sure if the jap acoustic tracks made it into the box set or the tracks that were given to for release. Anyway, if anyone has info on where I could get my hands on the Frontiers Box set I would be very grateful. Thank you James


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