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!
ADDED NOTE: Reader Danny has emailed the haremscarem.net 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.
Thanks for sharing!