Tom Maxwell | Longreads | January 2019 | 17 minutes (3,315 words)
The remarkable thing about Fiona Apple’s album Extraordinary Machine is that it’s actually two albums. Each has its own fans and critics; each was reviewed in the mainstream press; each is available to the casual listener.
Upon closer inspection, the story of Extraordinary Machine becomes a room made of mirrors: The album was shelved, perhaps by Apple’s label, or, according to her own admission, by Apple herself. That version of the album, produced by longtime collaborator Jon Brion, was leaked to the internet. It’s called the “Jon Brion version,” but in actuality is a pastiche of original sessions and new material. The official release was mixed without the presence of either of its two producers. The first version was shelved in part because Apple didn’t feel the songs were fully her own, and partly because her…
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