Monday, August 15, 2005

"Extraordinary Machine" Release Date Announced

I've been following the "Extraordinary Machine" story for quite some time, and, according to the New York Times, the album is finally coming out:

Fiona Apple, the smoky-voiced singer whose unreleased third album turned into a cause célèbre for her fervent fans and was leaked online, has recorded new versions of its songs and plans to release the album on Oct. 4, according to people involved with the recording.

The album, "Extraordinary Machine," is the Grammy-winning artist's first studio CD in six years, and is likely to be one of the industry's most closely watched albums at the start of the preholiday rush. The CD may also place Ms. Apple and her label, Epic Records, in the unusual position of watching how fans and critics judge her new release against the leaked versions of her earlier recordings of the same songs. The 12-song CD includes nine new versions of material that had circulated on unlicensed Internet file-swapping networks, two previously leaked songs and one brand-new one, "Parting Gift."

The label is wasting little time in tapping fans' curiosity. Epic plans today to reveal a new version of Ms. Apple's Web site, on which fans can hear two of the album's songs, "Parting Gift" and the rerecorded "O' Sailor." The latter will also be available for listening at, the online social network. Tomorrow major online music services plan to begin selling "O' Sailor" as a single, and Apple's iTunes music service is expected to offer an exclusive bundle of the two songs for $1.98.

Mike Elizondo, the album's producer, said most of the songs sound "radically different" from the earlier, leaked renditions, which Ms. Apple had made with the producer Jon Brion. Mr. Elizondo said that he had listened to the earlier cuts, but "once we headed off in our direction I didn't go back to reference them."

"Everything was done from scratch," he added.

Only time will tell whether that will turn out to be a shrewd move. The leaked version of the album earned favorable reviews from critics. Jon Pareles, writing in The New York Times in April, called - it "an oddball gem." On the other hand, the songs never became as popular online as other bootleg sensations, like "The Grey Album," the celebrated - and unauthorized - compilation of songs pairing Jay-Z's raps with the Beatles' melodies that circulated online last year. To many, the muted response online suggested that Epic and Ms. Apple were right to continue polishing the material. In an e-mail message yesterday, Ms. Apple said: "Now that my album is finally finished, I am very, very excited to have people hear what we did. I am so proud of it, and of all of us who worked on it."
All I have to say is that it never took Leo Sayer six years to finish an album.

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