Bill Fox - Shelter from the Smoke 2LPScat Records
Scat Records offers up a definitive edition of Bill Fox's debut solo disc, Shelter from the Smoke, back in print after more than half a decade. Originally self-released in 1997 and reissued the following year by SpinArt, both previous versions featured different tracklists. This edition includes all songs from both versions, as well as the two tracks from a scarce 1996 Scat 7-inch. This reissue also marks the first time the album has been pressed on vinyl. Fox began his musical journey in early 1980s Cleveland with The Mice, who fused punk energy with British-Invasion-style songwriting and harmonies. He infamously dissolved the group on the eve of a European tour, then dropped out of the scene altogether, with an unfinished Mice LP in the can. In the early '90s, he began a series of home recordings which revealed a growing preference for acoustically based music, and formed the basis for Shelter from the Smoke as well as the follow-up Transit Byzantium (scheduled for a similar reissue treatment next year). Shelter also includes four electric tracks recorded with Fox's short-lived band The Radio Flyers. After a 1998 tour, Fox once again dropped out of music. Now he is performing again. For how long, nobody knows. Fox is one of those rare musicians who really does not enjoy the limelight, even declining an interview with Joe Hagan of The Believer, who went so far as to fly to Cleveland in hopes of meeting him. That and his refusal to "be on the internet" has probably only helped the growing cadre of music fans who sees his solo albums as mysterious, lost classics. Or perhaps they just delight in the ringing sound of Fox's perfectly pitched voice or his deft lyricism. Either way, Fox's two solo albums are jewels not to be missed by anyone who enjoys traditional songcraft or iconic vocalists.