Monarch (Lay Down Your Jeweled Head) was Leslie Feist’s first solo recording, released in 1999 when she was just 23. Subsequent releases have had the benefit of major label clout behind them, but Monarch was released on a tiny Canadian label, and was predominantly sold at shows. It’s been out of print for years, and apparently copies go for more than $500 on EBay (when they ever appear that is).
Even getting to hear the songs on the album is difficult enough. There’s a dodgy Russian mp3 website that apparently has the whole thing available as a download, but my credit card doesn’t have a death wish, so that’s out. However, there have recently been a couple of BitTorrent sites with the whole album available for download (one’s here). My technical ability in this area is positively laughable, but over the weekend I managed to grab all eleven tracks in glorious all singing, all dancing MP3 format.
And it’s absolutely fantastic.
There’s obviously a reason as to why this album has been out of print so long, but I’m damned if I know why. If it was a major departure from Let It Die or The Reminder, then I could understand – but it isn’t. Songs such as It’s Cool to Love Your Family or One Year AD wouldn’t sound out of place on Feist’s new long player, and a song such as La Sirena (two fifths Cocteau Twins, two fifths torch song, one fifth ambient guitar wig out) is as gorgeous as anything that Feist has ever recorded (sorry, I haven’t a clue how to post MP3 files on this blog thing – someone write and give me a tutorial).
However, all this leaves me in a bit of a quandary. I used to work with a guy who downloaded all his music for free using a variety of undoubtedly dodgy websites, which to me is a crime on a par with touting concert tickets on EBay. The problem with Monarch is that it’s simply not commercially available in any form, nor is it likely to ever be so. All the 'official' MP3 sites I looked at turn up nothing but dead ends, so what’s a guy to do? I could send Ms Feist a few Canadian dollars, but unfortunately I don’t have her PayPal details ;-)
So for the moment, I’m enjoying the album for free, which just doesn’t seem right somehow.
Perhaps I need to make a donation to some musician’s benevolent fund or something ;-)