Jerry Harrison’s “The Red + The Black” Is Finally Back In Print In Deluxe 2xLP Expanded Package I’ve Been Waiting 42 Years For [part 1]

jerry harrison the red + the black 2xLP
Sire/Rhino | US | 2xLP [red + black vinyl] | 2023 | RCV1 706344

Jerry Harrison: The Red + The Black [Expanded Edition] – US – 2xLP [2023]

Disc 1 [red vinyl]

  1. Things Fall Apart 4:57
  2. Slink 4:20
  3. The New Adventure 5:05
  4. Magic Hymie 4:48
  5. Fast Karma / No Questions 3:55
  6. Worlds In Collision 5:09
  7. The Red Nights 4:57
  8. No More Reruns 4:21
  9. No Warning, No Alarm 3:35

Disc 2 [black vinyl]

  1. Things Fall Apart (Instrumental Mix) 4:22
  2. Slink (Instrumental Mix) 8:55
  3. Fast Karma / No Questions (Instrumental Mix) 3:55
  4. Magic Hymie (Instrumental Mix) 4:01
  5. No More Reruns (Instrumental Mix) 5:20
  6. Worlds In Collision (Instrumental Mix) 6:47
  7. The Red Nights (Instrumental Mix) 4:39

I’ve been waiting years to write this. I hope you’re sitting down as we’re going to be here a while. My relationship to this album goes right back to its beginnings. It was some time in the fall of 1981 when my good friend and musical sounding board chasinvictoria was living in Atlanta while I was in Orlando, and we swapped tape letters frequently until such time as we were once again living in the same city…about two years later. These were filled with chat and songs. Occasionally a full album deemed too important to miss. One of these tapes contained “The Red + The Black;” Jerry Harrison’s first solo project made during the downtime following the explosive “Remain in Light” album and tour that seemingly ended TVLKING HEVDS to all appearances.

I recall reading criticism at the time saying that this was strong music in the same Afro-Funk vein as “Remain In Light,” but that Harrison was no David Byrne. I didn’t hear a note of this music on college radio and there were no videos to see. Had chasinvictoria not send me a cassette of it, I might have been immune to its considerable gravitational pull for at least a decade. By the 90s, though, this was exactly the sort of album I would buy if I ran across on principle. And I bought a copy soon after exposure to the cassette I was sent. I treasured that album as I waited for the inevitable [I thought] CD of the title. But I didn’t risk disappointment. I held on to the LP even during the Great Vinyl Purge of 1985 that saw me trading off records willy-nilly that I one day planned to get on the silver disc; once they existed.

By the mid-90s, I still didn’t see any CD, so I held on to the LP with the notion that I would make my own CD in the coming era of CD burners I was anticipating for about eight years before it became reality. Meanwhile, the Internet happened, and one could read about lots of music one didn’t necessarily see in stores. It was perhaps 1998-1999 when I found out that there had been a “Red + The Black” CD made for the Japanese market. It was released in 1990 and even though that was exactly the time when I was buying a ton of Japanese CDs via catalogs like Sound City 2000, I never saw that title. But I eventually saw copies on sale on this new thing called eBay. They weren’t cheap; $80-100 was the norm.

It took me several tries where I was outbid, but eventually, I nabbed a Japanese copy [complete with obi!] for under $100. I think I might have paid $40-80 [I can’t remember exactly now] and was very pleased with finally getting a copy on the silver disc. Eventually, just a few years ago, I noticed that there was also a German CD of this title. To date, the only CDs of Harrison’s first solo album. While I was looking for the CD in the late 90s, by the time the new century rolled around, I was busy discovering the chronovore resource that is It didn’t take me too long to start digging around for 12″ singles, promo remixes or indeed anything at all related to this album as auxiliary material from its campaign, but to my astonishment, there was only this single UK 7″ single below entered into the Discogs database.


Sire | UK | 7″ | 1981 | SIR 4053

  1. Things Fall Apart
  2. Worlds In Collision
jerry harrison things fall apart

This stunned me because much of the personnel of the Expanded Heads [Adrian Belew Bernie Worrell, Dolette MacDonald, Nona Hendryx, Steve Scales] carried over to this album from the “Remain In Light” tour. Little did I know at the time that Harrison first encountered Ms. MacDonald in his 1980 side project Escalators, built around Busta Jones. That EP fell between “Fear Of Music” and “Remain In Light” and at the same time he produced a European single for Nona Hendryx; “Love Is Like An itching In My Heart.”


Barclay | GER | 7″ | 1981 | 0036.052

  1. Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart
  2. X-Ray

Meanwhile, he became friends with the great Bernie Worrell. All of these musicians and more became invited to join the Expanded Heads lineup that performed the “Remain In Light” tour. In the aftermath, they were a perfect fit to bring the songs that Harrison had written between “Fear Of Music”‘ and “Remain in Light” [the latter was improvised in the studio] that found their way to “The Red + The Black.”

The new pressing was accompanied by something even better than a 12″ single; an almost full instrumental mix of the album. Before Record Store Day 2023, when this was unleashed to the world, details on exactly what the second disc entailed was thin on the ground. I was so desperate for more that even if these were straight instrumental versions, I would have been fine with that. Fortunately, Harrison and his right hand man, Eric Thorngren, made new remixes of seven of the nine tracks. Even the existing instrumental “The Red Nights” was given a new interpretation. And the album was re-sequenced to make an even better flow, in my view. I can hardly wait to review this but first there’s that immense album on disc one to contend with. Tomorrow.

Next: …Better Red Than Dead

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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4 Responses to Jerry Harrison’s “The Red + The Black” Is Finally Back In Print In Deluxe 2xLP Expanded Package I’ve Been Waiting 42 Years For [part 1]

  1. I have my original copy of the LP. I, as you know, snagged my copy on (that loathsome event) RSD, but haven’t even cracked the wrapping on it yet. I haven’t had the time to SIT and LISTEN to it the way I want to. I do not want to just plop it on and have it in the background while doing other things. It may be a few more weeks, but I look forward to giving this album its due.


  2. Those tape letters were fun to make and fun to receive, always something amazing to discover, or even play around with the medium itself (I recall I made something pretty interesting inspired by My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’ use of radio evangelists loops on top of a soundbed on one of them, for example).

    If My Life was the Genesis, then Remain in Lightwas the Old Testament/Torah and The Red and the Black was the New Testament in terms of how completely they turned a lot of white kids’ heads around about rhythm and sounds from other cultures.

    To have gotten to see the expanded Heads tour that album (with Tom Tom Club opening!) in Atlanta was a truly unforgettable highlight. To later touch the figurative hem of Bernie Worrell’s garment with you many years later, another touchstone moment.

    I’m hoping this time around, the album will spark enough interest to put the material on CD format properly at long last. I seem to think I may have the German CD somewhere in Music Jail (my phrase for my storage unit), but I know for sure I have the vinyl album.


  3. SimonH says:

    Cd please. Discogs prices are nuts now!
    Funny because we are still endlessly told that CDs aren’t particularly collectible, despite thousands of examples to the contrary.


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