After the recent news of Low fighting for rights to its first three albums from Universal Music Group, it's nice to report on a couple other beloved Minnesota bands, the Honeydogs and Polara, seeing some of their '90s albums come down off their former record labels' shelves.
Polara was able to get two of its LPs and one EP for Interscope Records issued to digital formats for the first time, three years after frontman Ed Ackerson's death to cancer.
The whirring, melodic space-rock band's second and third albums, "C'est La Vie" (1997) and "Formless/Functional" (1998), were issued to Spotify and Apple Music over the weekend. The EP sandwiched between those two albums, "Pantomime," will also be newly posted on Friday.
"This is a great period for Polara, and it's one of several peaks in Ed's songwriting career," raved Polara bassist Daniel Boen, describing the albums as "killer tunes, gorgeous production, psychedelic hard rock ear candy."
Previously, only Polara's independently issued 1995 self-titled debut album and its post-Interscope albums such as "Jetpack Blues" and the 2009 swan song "Closer to Heaven"were available digitally. Ackerson's own label, Susstones, still has an active store on Bandcamp with assorted CDs, the vinyl reissue of "Polara" and lots more.
According to a press release from Susstones' current handlers — who include Ackerson's wife and Mood Swings bandleader Ashley Ackerson — they had a big hand in getting the albums freed up by Interscope/Universal via John Strohm, the former Blake Babies and Antenna band member who became a record-label executive and was a longtime friend and fan of Ackerson.
As for the Honeydogs, the Americana-leaning rockers' 1996 sophomore record, "Everything, I Bet You," has been remastered and will be released on vinyl for the first time ever. It is now available for pre-order via Feeling Minnesota Records, which also got help from a longtime cohort of the band, Willie Wisely, in obtaining its re-release.
The album originally came out on the small indie imprint October Records with help from Twin/Tone and led to the Honeydogs landing a major-label deal with Mercury Records. Some of its most memorable tracks include "Your Blue Door," "Bad Day, Good Night" and "Miriam."
"The remastering blew my mind and reminded me that a record we made 27 years ago sounds pretty fresh," said Honeydogs singer/guitarist Adam Levy, who also just issued the second album by his currently flourishing newer band, Turn Turn Turn.
Levy fondly remembered that era in his old band, which included his brother Noah Levy on drums and longtime pal Trent Norton on bass: "We were on the cusp of getting signed to a major label, touring, writing, essentially living in a van and playing around 250 dates a year."
The vinyl reissue will also include some new liner notes penned by Levy. Here's hoping there's finally another Honeydogs live show or two to celebrate its release.
Sadly, Polara will have to rest in noise with Ackerson — all the more vital a reason to have those albums now literally at our fingertips.