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'Lost Title Tracks': Recording the greatest songs that never were

A band of local musicians imagines title tracks from the albums 'Combat Rock,' 'The Joshua Tree' and more

Why didn’t someone think of this before? Record an album filled with the title tracks from some of the greatest rock and pop albums of all time, including  “Exile on Main Street,” “The Joshua Tree,” “Combat Rock” and “Blood on the Tracks.”

Of course, none of those albums actually features a song of the same name as the record's title, but that technicality that didn't stop the Title Trackers, an ad hoc band of L.A. musicians who are about to release “The Title Trackers’ Lost Title Tracks” on Tuesday.

“So many of our favorite albums have such evocative titles but no song with that title,” Title Trackers co-founder Andy Hill said in a statement on the album. “So we asked ourselves, what might a song called ‘Exile on Main Street’ have sounded like had the Stones recorded it--and how can we put our own imprint on the song by amping up The Stones’ sound, attitude, and all the quirks we love?”

That’s what makes the “Lost Title Tracks” album so much fun. Each song is done in the style of the artists, which also includes Tom Petty (“Full Moon Fever”), Billy Joel (“Glass Houses”), Bruce Springsteen (“Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.”), Johnny Cash (“Live at San Quentin”) and the Who (“Who’s Next”).

The Title Trackers dreamed up original songs riffing on those each of those titles, results including the likes of “Checking Into the Morrison Hotel” (see the accompanying video, which is  appropriately moody and Jim Morrison-esque)  “Chopping Down the Joshua Tree” and “Got Our Slingshot and Our Combat Rock.”

Raw guitar licks and raucous drumbeat open “Living in Exile on Main Street,” and a breathy rocker’s whisper charts the journey down Jersey backstreets and boardwalks in “The Trackers Send Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.”

The players insist it’s all about affection, not affectation.

“Each of our singing voices was influenced by these artists,” said David Tokaji, co-founder of the group with Hill and Russell Wiener. “So we were able to maintain our own personality while creating recognizable parody. It’s not about impersonation – we’re creating songs in both their image and our own.”

In conjunction with Tuesday’s album release, the Title Trackers will embark on a one-day Title Trackers Revue tour of L.A.-area record stores Saturday. It starts at Amoeba Music in Hollywood (1 p.m.), followed by stops at Vacation Vinyl in Silver Lake (2 p.m.), Origami Vinyl in Echo Park (3 p.m.), Rockaway Records in Silver Lake (4 p.m.), High Fidelity in Los Feliz (5 p.m.) and ending at the Pig n Whistle restaurant in Hollywood (6 p.m.), where the trio also will perform.

The group is slated for a full-on performance at the Satellite in Silver Lake on March 29.

They’ve already garnered an impressive testimonial from inside the rock music world:

“I think the songs are really good and I think the concept is brilliant,” musician-producer Alan Parsons said. “ ‘Exile’ is unmistakably Stones. Hats off to you."

As a bonus, the trio has created a video for a heartfelt version of Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” a song that didn’t qualify for the album because it actually exists. The video, featuring a relay race in which a guitar rather than a baton is handed from runner to runner, has collected more than 4,600 views on YouTube.

Follow @RandyLewis2 on Twitter for pop music coverage

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