Seven months ago, Fiona Apple's long-delayed third album, Extraordinary Machine became a cause célèbre for her ardent fans.
The LP, recorded in 2002 with producer Jon Brion, was reportedly being shelved indefinitely by executives at Apple's label, Sony Music, who didn't see album's commercial potential. Besotted fans campaigned online for its release (see "Whatever Happened To Fiona Apple? Online Campaign Tries To Find Out"), and a month later, a version of the album leaked online (see "Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Songs Leaked On The Radio").
But now, in a surprising turn of events, a revamped version of the LP, with new recordings produced by Dr. Dre's right-hand studio-man Mike Elizondo, has been completed and is set for release on October 4.
Co-produced by Brian Kehew (Moog Cookbook), the retooled Extraordinary Machine contains 12 tracks: two Brion-produced songs, including the title track, from the leaked album; nine new recordings of previously leaked songs; and a brand-new song entitled "Parting Gift." The new track is a characteristically bitter breakup song with the growling refrain: "Oh you stupid, silly pastime of mine/ You were always good for a rhyme," that then quietly laments, "All the signs said stop, but we went on wholehearted/ It ended bad, but I love what we started."
"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 all of us who worked on it." Apple said in a statement. The singer hasn't released an album since 1999's longwindedly titled When the Pawn Hits ...
Myspace.com will begin streaming the album's first single, "O' Sailor" on Monday (August 15). Tuesday, iTunes will offer a two-song download of "O' Sailor" coupled with "Parting Gift." The songs can also be heard on Apple's Web site.
Elizondo told The New York Times that the overhauled version of Machine is "radically different," noting that he and Apple listened to the Brion-produced recordings, but decided to embark on a different path. "Everything [the pair worked on together] was done from scratch," he told the paper.
The Times also suggested that Apple herself was the one who held back the original version of the record, which she had called a work in progress. Apple has not commented on the matter, with the exception of Monday's statement.
While the Brion-produced album was completed, apparently the tracks that leaked were unfinished versions. The producer, who recently finished a stint as co-executive producer of Kanye West's Late Registration (see "Kanye's Co-Pilot, Jon Brion, Talks About The Making Of Late Registration"), says the version that leaked on the radio months ago is "not representational of the work" he and Apple did.
"There's music on there that wasn't even part of [what I recorded]. It's wrong," he said. "It's not like, 'I don't quite like the mix,' " he continued, affecting a whiny voice. "I wasn't happy with [the leak] cause I don't like those versions. It's stuff that doesn't reflect what we recorded, for the most part, except for the stuff that's just her and an orchestra. That's just right — but as far as the rest of it, it doesn't reflect what I recorded."
Whatever the case may be, there appears to be no bad blood between the two — Apple recently played at Brion's Friday-night residency at Club Largo in Los Angeles and performed a couple of songs from the record. "She re-recorded a bunch of stuff, but whatever, that's her business," Brion said. "I remain a fan and think she's great, and she shouldn't have to meet too much resistance."