When Earl McGrath died in January 2016 at the age of 84, the music industry veteran and art gallery owner was remembered by a starry crowd including Anjelica Huston, Jerry Hall, Harrison Ford, Mick Jagger, and Joan Didion. The Rolling Stones frontman called him "a wonderful man and such an amusing companion, too." McGrath was godfather to three of Ford's five children, and the Indiana Jones star described him as "the last of a breed, one of the last great gentlemen and bohemians." After McGrath's passing, author and Jann Wenner biographer Joe Hagan discovered hundreds of reel-to-reel tapes in the tastemaker's closet. A selection of those tapes is featured on of Earl's Closet, the new and appropriately-named compilation coming on July 15 from Light in the Attic in CD, LP, and digital formats.
McGrath's ties with the music biz ran deep; a close pal of Atlantic Records' Ahmet Ertegun, he was given his own Atlantic imprint in 1970 (Clean Records) and seven years later was picked to run Rolling Stones Records. Per Light in the Attic, Earl's Closet is "at once an archival mixtape, a secret history, and a journey into the heart of an era." Among the most recognizable names on the collection are Daryl Hall and John Oates, heard on the lead single "Dry in the Sun" (now streaming on YouTube and most platforms) as well as "Baby Come Closer." The two tracks, dating from their pre-Atlantic days in Philadelphia, will be familiar to longtime H&O fans from appearances on various compilations - some "grey area," some not - but the clarity of this version/mix of "Dry in the Sun" might be a surprise to those who only know the dodgier releases of years past. Songwriter Tom Snow ("Let's Hear It for the Boy," "You Should Hear How She Talks About You," "He's So Shy") is represented by his country-rock band Country; the group released an LP on Clean Records in 1971. Delbert (McClinton) and Glen (Clark) are here, too; the duo also recorded for Clean. New York Dolls' David Johansen, folksinger Paul Potash (once one-half of Art and Paul with Art Podell), and Andy Warhol "Superstar" Ultra Violet are among the other notable names featured.
While many of the artists are unfamiliar, LITA promises "folk, rock, country, funk, and R&B gems" including power pop from Detroit band Shadow and Delfonics-style soul from Blood Brothers Six. Both physical formats of Earl's Closet include an extensive book: 40 pages with the CD, 20 with the LP. Hagan's essay draws on new remembrances from the artists represented as well as memorabilia from McGrath's collection and photos by his late wife, Italian countess Camilla Pecci-Blunt McGrath.
Earl's Closet has been produced by Joe Hagan and Pat Thomas, mastered by John Baldwin, and designed by Darryl Norsen. On June 9, Detroit saxophone great Norma Jean Bell's "Just Look-ah What You'll Be Missing" arrives as the second single, with the Jim Carroll Band's "Tension" seeing release on July 7. In addition, a short film directed by Brendan Toller is streaming now; it recounts the story behind this release.
Look for Earl's Closet on CD, various 180-gram double vinyl color variants, and digitally on July 15. You'll find pre-order links below for this intriguing anthology! Note that Amazon links are active but the title may not yet be available for pre-order.
Various Artists, Earl's Closet (Light in the Attic, 2022)
CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / Light in the Attic Store
Red Opaque Wax LP: Light in the Attic Store
Clear Wax "Cocktail Party" LP: Light in the Attic Store
Black Vinyl LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada / Light in the Attic Store
- Delbert & Glen - Two More Bottles of Wine
- Daryl Hall and John Oates - Baby Come Closer
- Terry Allen - Gonna California
- Kazoo Singers - Only Yourself to Lose
- Michael McCarty - Christopher
- Jim Hurt - Dixie Darling
- Mark Rodney - California
- Country (Fondiler & Snow) - Killer
- Daryl Hall and John Oates - Dry in the Sun
- Shadow - Oh La La
- Terry Allen - Cocaine Cowboy
- Ultra Violet - How Do You Do (Children of the Most High)
- Johnny Angel (Johnny Angelino) - Invisible Lady
- Shadow - I See My Days Go By
- Blood Brothers Six - Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
- Len and Betsy Greene - Salt Showers
- Paul Potash - Holy Commotion
- Jabor - Sail Away
- David Johansen - Funky But Chic
- Norma Jean Bell - Just Look-ah What You'll Be Missing
- The Jim Carroll Band - Tension
- Little Whisper and the Rumors - Waiting for Me