Jasun Martz, a producer and musician who has recorded for Michael Jackson, toured with Frank Zappa and helped arrange Starship’s classic hit We Built this City, recently found an old, dusty suitcase in the corner of his attic. Inside was a small canvas painting and unmarked audio tape. An unreleased Michael Jackson or Zappa outtake, he thought?
The tape, missing for 30 years, turned out to be the only known recording by unknown Los Angeles singer, songwriter, pianist Sue Reed. In the late ’70s Ms. Reed was pioneering the sound now made popular by Tori Amos, Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, Suzanne Vega, Joanna Newsom and Leslie Feist. Mr. Martz, who produced the 15 songs composed by Reed in 1978, said the album was never released. “The record company never published it, so I put the master tape away and forgot all about it.” He has not seen Ms. Reed since.
After listening to the recordings for the first time in 3 decades, Martz was amazed that the songs were so innovative and sounded so contemporary. “Sue’s songs are drenched with beauty but within an instant, the mood darkens and she sings with emotional despair,” Martz explained. “It’s astonishing the style she was creating 3 decades ago sounds like several popular female singers of today. Sue was ahead of her time.” In fact, Martz thought it was so unfortunate that no one had ever heard her music, and because he owned the publishing rights, he decided to oversee the album’s release—30 years after Ms. Reed recorded it.
Martz, who played synthesizers on one of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, Black or White, also performs keyboards on Reed’s CD. Grammy-winning producer Bill Bottrell, who went on to discover Sheryl Crow and Shelby Lynne, recorded Ms. Reeds album.
The Sue Reed CD, entitled Whose Hat Covers that Sundial?, features the painting Martz found in the suitcase. The stark, disturbing self-portrait by Ms. Reed reflects perfectly the dark, introspective nature of her songs.
But where is the missing mystery musician?
Martz has often wondered what ever happened to Ms. Reed. But so far he has been unable to locate her. “It’s fantastic that her music has finally been released and it would be even more amazing to locate her and hear her perform these songs again after all these years. Sue Reed, phone home.” Martz exclaimed.
It is safe to say, no one ever heard the music of Sue Reed. But thanks to Martz’s discovery, that is about to change. Whose Hat Covers that Sundial by Sue Reed with Jasun Martz (Under The Asphalt) is available at Amazon.com, Cdbaby.com and other retailers. More information at SueReed.info, JasunMartz.com and MySpace.com/SueReedJasunMartz.