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Benjamin smokes again

It was an obvious thing that needed to be done, says Brian Halloran, proudly displaying three local CDs whose reissues he supervised. "And thanks to the Benjamin Smoke movie, orders roll in every day from all over the world."
The re-releases include the Opal Foxx Quartet's The Love That Won't Shut Up (1993) and two CDs by Smoke, Heaven on a Popsicle Stick (1994) and Another Reason to Fast (1995). All three feature the distinct growl of the late Benjamin, frontman/vocalist of both groups, and were originally issued on the now-defunct Atlanta label Long Play.
While all three discs feature revised artwork, changes to Another Reason are minimal. Halloran's revisions to Heaven were more extensive. The famous band portrait by Panorama Ray has been replaced in its booklet's centerfold with a shot by photographer Michael Ackerman which Halloran calls "the best live photo of Smoke ever taken." The disc itself is now adorned with an image of Benjamin and his handwritten lyrics from the CD's finale, "Curtains" (complete with "corse" scrawled in place of "chorus").
The Opal Foxx CD has new cover art, featuring an infamous picture of Benjamin being arrested in drag outside the Celebrity Club. Along with new photographs by Caroline Young inside, the disc itself is now emblazoned with another photo documenting Benjamin's arrest. "You can see him reaching into his purse for his pills," observes Halloran.
Cosmetic changes aside, the music on the CDs remains the same. "That's untouched," Halloran says. "The purpose of re-releasing these is to raise money to release newer stuff."
Previously un-issued songs will eventually be forthcoming, perhaps even with video. "I shot footage of Benjamin during the last five years he was alive," explains Halloran, "and I'm converting it all to digital. The next CD will be full of multimedia extras."
Re-issued Smoke and Opal Foxx CDs may be ordered online through www.benjaminremembered.com.