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Albums Of The Week: Various Artists | Earl’s Closet: The Lost Archive Of Earl McGrath 1970-1980

A late music mogul's storage space yields a treasure trove of unreleased gems.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Earl McGrath was the ultimate ’70s jet setter, an art collector and comic bon vivant who stumbled into the record business between legendary parties in New York and L.A. and discovered Hall & Oates and Jim Carroll. Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertegun gave Earl his own label, Clean Records, in 1970; Mick Jagger hired him to run Rolling Stones Records in 1977.

Friend to Joan Didion, Andy Warhol, and a galaxy of luminaries, Earl was an inveterate tastemaker. Actor Harrison Ford, who before Star Wars fame was Earl’s handyman and pot dealer, called him “the last of a breed, one of the last great gentlemen and bohemians.”

After Earl died in 2016, journalist Joe Hagan, author of the critically acclaimed Sticky Fingers, the biography of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, discovered a trove of rare and unheard tapes in Earl’s apartment in New York — literally inside his closet. “I asked for a stepladder and the first box I pulled off the shelf was a master tape of Some Girls, the Stones album,” says Hagan.

Earl’s Closet is a double album of the treasures discovered inside, including unheard music by Daryl Hall and John Oates, David Johansen, Terry Allen, Delbert McClinton, Andy Warhol “Superstar” Ultra Violet, Detroit sax legend Norma Jean Bell, Jim Carroll and an eclectic cast of undiscovered artists who once vied for fame and glory — folk, rock, country, funk and R&B gems that virtually no one has heard in decades. Whether it’s the almost-famous power pop of Shadow from Detroit, or the Delfonics-style soul of the Blood Brothers Six, Earl’s Closet retraces the dreams of artists who once sent demos to McGrath.

At once an archival mixtape, a secret history and a journey into the heart of an era, Earl’s Closet features a deep booklet of documents, images and ephemera from Earl’s archive, expansive liner notes by Hagan, who tracked down and interviewed the artists, and astonishing photographs by Earl’s late wife, the Italian countess Camilla Pecci-Blunt McGrath.”