Here's the third Yoga Records / Riverman Music paper sleeve CD coproduction -- News, Hot Off The Press. It's a strikingly professional private press release from a couple of Yalies and friends circa 1974. The album sounds like nothing else yet it's easy to describe -- just imagine the harmonies and warm vibes of the post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys, with ripping tight steel guitar instead of Van Dyke Parks.Main songwriter (& present-day market guru) Bob Prechter and a team of top engineers painstakingly restored the best available source materials to create what is undoubtedly one of the most pulverizing releases we'll ever do -- this thing rocks. Just get past the album's first track & one excess, a stoned joke about "radio blahs" that goes on too long, and blast off for a virtuoustic trip that had nothing to do with the disco-ized fashions of 1974 and sounds today like what it is, a timeless slice of pure music, no pretensions or angst -- just rock. Fans of private press psych rarities will be blown away by how good this album is! Features 24 bit mastering, detailed liner notes, and two previously unreleased bonus tracks.
Testimonials and reviews:
The most striking aspect of News' tragically overlooked Hot Off the Press is the band's use of steel guitar as a force of West Coast psych. The band wield it to add a woozy touch to their soulful, strident catalog; and much in the same way that Cold Sun effectively apply the Autoharp to Texas-fried psych, News bring the instrument into its own in the canon of melodic '60s tinged pop. That last fact may have actually sunk the album more than the opening track, featuring experiments in radio static, the album submerges itself in the eclectic mix and attitude that fueled the 60's, but unfortunately News was treading these waters in 1974. Critical and commercial response aside; this reissue, that boasts two additional tracks, shows off News' honey-tinged harmonies and West Coast easiness, making it one of those great gems that roll out of the seemingly endless vaults. -- Andy French, Altered Zones / Raven Sings The Blues
Fucking awesome find. -- User comment, ibid
The pedal-steel guitar is one of rock’s most underappreciated instruments, and when used correctly, it can turn a run-of-the-mill country-rock song into a shit-kicking anthem. On this rare private-press album from 1974, this band of four Yale students dressed up like rejects from a Flying Burrito Brothers tryout and gave a ripping pedal steel the focus it so rightly deserves. Surprisingly, the years have been kind to this one—especially because virtually no one heard it the first time around—and if songs like "Loser" and "Misty Day" had gotten attention from record execs, you’d be listening to News on classic-rock radio just as much as Steely Dan and CSNY. Believe it. -- Todd Kroviak, Retroactive
Definitely not what I was expecting from a 1974 private pressing with a strangely modern sleeve and a pedal steel guitarist. News, who were four or more lads from Yale University, had the late 60s sound nailed down five years too late, but who’s to complain about a throwback to the best era in rock history? Hot Off The Press is a unique and unknown LP featuring super tight performances, lovely four-part harmonies, and songs that won’t take long to get comfortably lodged in your head.
Kicking off with a pysch-flavored spliced radio parody performed by some of the band members, Hot Off The Press gets right into its first sweet spot with “Loser,” showcasing Mark London’s expert and refreshingly twang-free steel. Throughout the record’s nine songs he has no trouble fitting the instrument in with a pop/rock sound, and essentially designs the rare flavor of this record with soaring, jazzy licks. There are a couple pretty tough rockers, and I must agree with Llama where he labels “One Night Stand” a “so-so Creedence ripoff.” But lighter fare like “Ooo La La” and “Misty Day” (one of the band’s first songs) groove with the sunny sound of Montage. I love the jabber at the end of optimistic bopper “Easy Street:” “…somebody’s way off key…I was doing a 7th,” which adds just the right amount of silliness to this laid-back affair. “Farmer’s Daughter” gets bonus points for the album’s second Beach Boys reference and “New York City” ends the original lineup with an 8-minute jam that finally belies News’ sixties psych disguise. Bonus tracks include the 60-second radio bed that got the band their first shot in the recording studio (1970) and an early demo recording of “Misty Day.”
The CD package is a mini-repro as faithful to a vinyl sleeve as I’ve ever seen, the extensive details of the News story told by principal songwriter Bob Pretcher in the liners. But if you’re willing to shell out some bucks, I’d say go for one of the limited 1974 sealed pressings available direct from Yoga Records. Don’t miss this excellent reissue. -- The Rising Storm
An unlikely reissue of a charming private press LP from a couple of Yale students circa 1974, the vibe is AM radio blowback, with a distinct Surf's Up-era Beach Boys harmonic sensibility, and the jangly songwriting of the Byrds or Lovin' Spoonful. The majority of tracks also feature a lap steel guitar -- surprising, and slightly befuddling (or slightly Byrdsian), with the choral tones of the lap steel echoing the catchy melodies, reminiscent of the infectious whistling refrains of old blues tunes. In that sense, there is something timeless about this record, something difficult to put your finger on, yet it grows with repeat listens. A couple of tracks -- "Ooh La La" and "New York City" in particular -- wouldn't be surprising to find on a solo Beatles or CSNY-related LP of the time. The album is much more cohesive and well produced than the vast majority of vanity LPs of the era; these guys had a distinct knack for good hooks and lots of unexpected compositional flourishes. All in all, a very noteworthy and unique record, and a testament to how real talent can make unlikely music fall into place. -- Simon Gabriel, Other Music
During the early days of hunting down interesting records on ebay, there was more personal excitement and better odds at finding a great record for a reasonable price. One of the records that comes to mind is the 1974 release by "the News – Hot off the Press" from Connecticut. After one listen, I was an instant News fan. I knew I had a winner and that was soon confirmed when I played it for many friends, some over the phone. Everybody wanted their own copy of the album. A few days later, I'm on the phone with band member Bob Prechter telling him about "the news" of his seventies band’s unfamiliar fan base from the 21st century. Of course Bob was amazed and happy to hear his album had been resurrected by new fans that missed the bus on the record’s first life. Anyway, Bob was able to help me out with some copies of the album for all the friends that wouldn't shut up and sit still until they got a copy… and the rest is history! -- Scott Bubrig
Reviews from The Acid Archives:
Here’s a unique and outstanding 70s pop album. The lead instrument is a pedal steel guitar, played with more imagination than anywhere other than the Misunderstood’s studio recordings, often with some nice fuzzy distortion. It rarely sounds “country.” The songs are strong pop/rock, with Beach Boys-style harmony vocals on the softer songs, and tougher (but still melodic) singing on the rockers. Other than the opening “song” (three minutes of a guy fiddling with a radio dial), everything here is memorable, and no two songs sound alike. My pick hits are the powerful “Loser,” with a stunning steel guitar solo, and the long album-closer “New York City,” but this is consistent enough that any given listener could feel equally strong about any two others. This is exactly the kind of band a daring major label executive would have struck gold with in the 60s, but nobody would dare to touch in the 70s. -- Aaron Milenski