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Neil Young’s New Album, “A Letter Home,” Available Now Online

Third Man RecordsHappy Record Store Day, Neil Young fans! A day before the big audiophile promotion, and without any fanfare or official announcement, the folk-rock legend has made his new album, A Letter Home, available for buy via the official online store of ex-White Stripe frontman Jack White‘s Third Man Records label. A vinyl LP version of the record can be ordered for $20, not including shipping fees.

A Letter Home was co-produced by Young and White, and features 10 cover tunes by various singer-songwriters who have inspired and influenced Neil. Among the songs are Bob Dylan‘s “North Country Girl,” Bruce Springsteen‘s “My Hometown,” Willie Nelson‘s “On the Road Again” and Gordon Lightfoot‘s “If You Could Only Read My Mind.” Several of the tunes included on the album have been featured in Young’s recent concert sets.

As previously reported, Neil recorded A Letter Home on a 1947 Voice-o-Graph recording booth that’s located at White’s Third Man Records store in Nashville. The device allows the user to record a song directly onto a vinyl disc. A statement from Young describes the album as “an unheard collection of rediscovered songs from the past recorded on ancient electro mechanical technology [that] captures and unleashes the essence of something that could have been gone forever.”

Here is a complete track listing of A Letter Home, along with the artist who originally recorded each song:

“Changes” (Phil Ochs)“Girl from the North Country” (Bob Dylan)“Needle of Death” (Bert Jansch)“Early Morning Rain” (Gordon Lightfoot)“Reason to Believe” (Tim Hardin)“On the Road Again” (Willie Nelson)“If You Could Only Read My Mind” (Gordon Lightfoot)“Since I Met You Baby” (Ivory Joe Hunter)“My Hometown” (Bruce Springsteen)“I Wonder If I Care as Much” (Everly Brothers)

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Ex-Santana Percussionist Armando Peraza Passes Away

Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty ImagesCuban-born percussionist Armando Peraza, who was a member of Santana from 1972 to about 1990, died this past Monday, April 14, at a hospital in South San Francisco, California. The musician’ wife, Josephine, told the Los Angeles Times that his cause of death was pneumonia, although he also had fought a long battle with diabetes. Peraza was believed to be 89, although he didn’t know his exact birth date.

Armando joined Santana for the recording of the band’s fourth studio album, Caravanserai, and appeared on most of the group’s releases through 1990′s Spirits Dancing in the Flesh. He retired from Santana when his diabetes made it difficult for him to tour.

Peraza was born in Havana and was orphaned when he was a child. By the time he was a teenager, he was living on the streets, and eventually taught himself to play percussion instruments such as the conga and bongo drums. While in Cuba, he played alongside renowned Latin percussionist Mongo Santamaria. In the late 1940s, he came to New York City, and soon began performing with a variety of respected jazz artists. Over the years, he would perform and/or record with such legends as George Shearing, Charlie Parker, Buddy Rich, Dave Brubeck, Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus, Cal Tjader and Chick Corea.

In addition to Santana, Peraza also worked with a number of other pop, rock and R&B musicians, including Eric Clapton, Linda Rontadt and Rick James. After leaving Santana, he continued to play on various recordings and at occasional concerts.

Carlos Santana has penned a tribute to Armando that he posted on his official website. The homage reads, “My greatest teacher/mentor/role model crossed over the other side tonight. He is now light only…no more in the body. He is free from gravity and time. Immortality is his playground. Infinity is his domain. Thank you for all and everything, Dearest Armando Peraza. Be with GOD and the angels Dear one. Peace.”

Besides his wife, Peraza is survived by a daughter and three grandchildren.

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2014 Record Store Day Offering Hundreds of Exclusive Vinyl Releases

RecordStoreDay.comSpring is in the air, but if you breathe deeply enough you may also pick up the scent of fresh vinyl. This Saturday, April 19, marks the seventh annual installment of Record Store Day, which is celebrated at select music retailers throughout the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and several other countries. In conjunction with the unofficial holiday, a vast number of artists are issuing limited-edition vinyl singles, EPs and LPs that are sold exclusively at participating independent record shops.

This year’s Record Store Day is proving to be one of the most expansive yet, with more than 400 special releases headed for U.S. stores alone. Obviously, there are way too many discs to list, but among some of the noteworthy acts represented are Aerosmith, The Allman Brothers Band, The Animals, David Bowie, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes, The Ramones, R.E.M., Bruce Springsteen, The Yardbirds, Frank Zappa and The Zombies.

Here’s some specific information about a few of the releases sure to interest audiophiles:

- David Bowie’s “1984″ picture disc — a seven-inch single featuring a photo of Bowie with famed beat author William S. Burroughs, and including the original version of the song and a live rendition from a December 1974 TV appearance.

- Creedence Clearwater Revival’s The 1969 Singles — a 10-inch white-vinyl disc featuring four singles, a-sides and b-sides, that the band released in 1969.

- The Grateful Dead’s Live at Hampton Coliseum — a two-LP set featuring previously unreleased performances from a concert the band played at the Virginia venue on May 4, 1979.

- The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Live at Monterey — a high-quality 180-gram vinyl edition of the album documenting Hendrix and his group’s landmark 1967 set at the Monterey Pop festival.

- Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes’ Live at the Greek — a three-LP version of the 2000 album — on red, clear and blue vinyl discs — capturing performances from Page and The Crowes’ collaborative 1999 shows in Los Angeles.

- Bruce Springsteen’s American Beauty EP — a 12-inch disc featuring four previously unreleased songs from the sessions that yielded the Boss’ latest album, 2014′s High Hopes.

Check out the full list of special releases at RecordStoreDay.com.

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Paul Rodgers, Mike Mills, The Zombies Among Musicians Taking Part in Record Store Day Events

Courtesy of Paul Rodgers; Anton CorbijnThe seventh annual edition of Record Store Day is taking place Saturday and, in addition to the many cool limited-edition vinyl releases that will be available at independent music retailers, a bevy of artists will help celebrate the unofficial holiday by visiting select stores across North America.

Among the well-known musicians set to make special appearances are Paul Rodgers, R.E.M.‘s Mike Mills, The Zombies and longtime Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye.

Rodgers will be at Sunrise Records in Toronto, Canada, where he’ll sign vinyl and CD copies of his latest album, The Royal Sessions. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Mills will visit the Bull Moose music store in Scarborough, Maine, where he’ll sign up to two items for fans, including R.E.M.’s special four-LP Record Store Day release, Unplugged: The Complete 1991 and 2001 Sessions. The promotion will start at 2 p.m. ET.

The Zombies will give an in-store performance at Plan 9 Music in Charlottesville, Virginia, at 12:30 p.m. ET.

As for Kaye, he’s scheduled to perform at the Main Street Jukebox store in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, sometime after 3 p.m. ET.

A full list of in-store events can be viewed at RecordStoreDay.com.

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Paul Stanley of KISS Wrapping Up Book Tour

Harper CollinsKISS frontman Paul Stanley has published his autobiography, Paul Stanley: Face the Music: A Life Exposed, and is on a book tour through California this week to sign books and meet fans.

Despite the fact that Stanley appears on the cover in full KISS makeup, he tells ABC News Radio “I didn’t write a KISS book, I wrote a book about my life.”

The book opens with Stanley’s childhood, which tells the tale of a pretty rough beginning. “I was born without a right ear, deaf on that side, all kinds of learning disabilities because of it and a fairly dysfunctional family,” he says. He admits he pursued fame because he thought it would cure his problems. “And I became famous, luckily, and at that point I realized that it wasn’t the answer, so at that point you either start to do drugs and numb yourself or you can roll up your sleeves and get your life together and stop being a victim,” he says simply, but readers of Face The Music will learn that Stanley’s journey was far from simple — in fact, it was full of loneliness and self-doubt.

Paul Stanley admits to ABC News Radio that he “couldn’t have written the book 15 years ago because it wouldn’t have had a happy ending. The only reason to write a book like this is not to wallow in pity or cry ‘Woe is me,’ it’s to show people that you can pick yourself up by your bootstraps and wind up with a great life, when at some point it was anything but.”

In typical KISS fashion, Stanley brags to ABC News Radio that his is “a great story,” but then quickly follows that up by saying, “When you’re writing about yourself it turns into a love letter. There’s been enough of those on the market. The only reason I decided to write a book is when I thought my life might shed some light on other people, about their struggles, and that even the people they hold in high esteem or look up to, struggle. And then it’s how you deal with the struggle [that matters].”

Paul Stanley will be appearing at the Miramar Marine Base in San Diego on Friday, April 18, and at the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco on Saturday, April 19. Go to PaulStanley.com for times and details.

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