Saturday, 6 June 2020

The Box - Unpacked (1984) UPDATE

Just listened to this album for the first time since I posted it and I found that track 11 'Spade Work' was in fact the previous one 'Crow Bar' repeated. I've now corrected this and updated the links, so if you've already downloaded it then here's the correct song for you to replace in the file. 

Friday, 5 June 2020

John Martyn - Dead On Arrival (1980)

Iain David McGeachy, known professionally as John Martyn, was born on 11th September 1948 in New Malden, Surrey, England, to a Belgian Jewish mother and a Scottish father, and began his musical career when he was 17, being mentored by renowned folk singer Hamish Imlach. He played a fusion of blues and folk, resulting in a distinctive style which made him a key figure in the British folk scene during the mid-60's, and he signed to Chris Blackwell's Island Records in 1967, releasing his first album 'London Conversation' the same year. This was soon followed by 'The Tumbler', which moved towards jazz, and by 1970 Martyn had developed a wholly original and idiosyncratic sound: acoustic guitar run through a fuzzbox, phase shifter and Echoplex. This was first apparent on 1970's 'Stormbringer!', which was written and performed by Martyn and his then-wife Beverley, who had previously recorded solo as Beverley Kutner. Their second collaboration was 'The Road to Ruin', also released in 1970, but then Island Records felt that it would be more successful to market Martyn as a solo act, and so this was how subsequent albums were promoted, even though Beverley continued to make appearances as a backing singer, as well as recording as a solo artist herself. In 1973, Martyn released the album 'Solid Air', with the title song being dedicated to close friend and label-mate Nick Drake, who died from an overdose of antidepressants 18 months after the album came out. Following the commercial success of 'Solid Air', Martyn quickly recorded and released the experimental 'Inside Out', an album with the emphasis on feel and improvisation rather than song structure, but for 1975's 'Sunday's Child' he moved back to his more popular song-based style. In September 1975 he recorded a live album 'Live at Leeds', but as he was unable to persuade Island Records to release the record he had to resort to selling individually-signed copies by mail-order from his home in Hastings. 
After 'Live at Leeds' Martyn took a sabbatical, including a visit to Jamaica where he spent time with reggae producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, and in 1977, he released 'One World', including a collaboration with Perry on 'Big Muff'. Martyn's marriage broke down at the end of the 1970's, resulting in a very dark period in his life, but out of that came the album 'Grace and Danger', released in October 1980. The release of the album had actually been held up for a year by Chris Blackwell, who, being a close friend of both John and Beverley, found the album too openly disturbing to issue. Only after intense and sustained pressure from Martyn did Blackwell agree to release the album, and in the late 80's Martyn actually cited 'Grace and Danger' as his favourite record, saying that it was 'probably the most specific piece of autobiography I've written. Some people keep diaries, I make records'. During the recording sessions for most of his albums there have been tracks laid down that didn't make the final cut, and so this collection starts with a cover of 'She Moved Through The Fair' which was left off his debut album, and carries on with some 1969 demos with Beverley which didn't make 'Stormbringer!', the Australian-only single 'Anna', taken from the score of the 1978 Ebsen Storm movie 'In Search Of Anna', and various out-takes from his other albums up to 'Grace And Danger'. Martyn died from acute respiratory distress syndrome on 29 January 2009, having been in poor health for a while due to his life-long abuse of drugs and alcohol. He was survived by his partner and his two children. Following his death, Rolling Stone lauded his 'progressive folk invention and improvising sorcery', and it's undeniable that he invented a unique form of folk music for which he will always be fondly remembered.  



Track listing

01 She Moved Through The Fair (previously unreleased 1967)
02 Here I Am Now (previously unreleased 1969)
03 One Of Those Days (demo 1969)
04 I Don't Know (demo 1969)
05 Ellie Rhee (previously unreleased 1975)
06 Black Man At The Shoulder (previously unreleased 1977)
07 Anna (Australian only single 1978) 
08 Small Hat (previously unreleased 1980)
09 Running Up The Harbour (previously unreleased 1980)
10 Dead On Arrival (previously unreleased 1980)
11 After Tomorrow Night (previously unreleased 1980)
12 Lilo Blondino (previously unreleased 1980

Enjoy / Enjoy

Porcupine Tree - Stars Die - rare & unreleased (1999)

By 1999 Porcupine Tree were a well-established band in the UK, and were rightly regarded as one of the best progressive rock bands around, but in an attempt to get them appreciated in Europe a cassette tape was issued in Poland containing a variety of rare and unreleased recordings. Three years later the tape was raided for an official compilation from their record label, taking both the artwork and the title, expanding it slightly to 'Stars Die: The Delerium Years 1991-1997', but only using a few of the tracks, and so the cassette version does still contain quite a lot of hard to find pieces from the band. The tape was a mixture of rare singles and b-sides on side A, with the flip being tracks from the 'Signify' recordings sessions, which had been released in their own right as the 'Insignificance' cassette in 1997. Some of the tracks on 'Stars Die' are in fact unique to the tape, with 'Wake As Gun II' in particular being nearly two minutes longer than the version on the 'Signify' re-issue, and it also includes a cover of Neu!'s Hallogallo segued into their own 'Signify', a live recording of 'Up The Downstair' from Rome, and an acoustic take of 'Nine Cats'. Although a lot of the the tracks have since surfaced elsewhere, this album is still worth having both as sampler of the band's output up to 1999, but also as the intriguing curio of a Poland-only cassette tape release. 



Track listing

01 Stars Die
02 The Sound Of No-one Listening
03 Colourflow In Mind
04 Fuse The Sky
05 Up The Downstair
06 Wake As Gun I
07 Hallogallo / Signify
08 Smiling Not Smiling
09 Wake As Gun II
10 Door To The River
11 Insignificance
12 Nine Cats

Enjoy / Enjoy

George Harrison - ...and on guitar (1975)

By 1969 George Harrison's songwriting had come on in leaps and bounds, culminating in him providing two of the most popular songs on The Beatles' 'Abbey Road' album. That same year he co-wrote 'Badge' with Eric Clapton, which was included on Cream's 'Goodbye' album, and on which Harrison played rhythm guitar, using the pseudonym L'Angelo Misterioso for contractual reasons. In May 1970 he played guitar on several songs during a recording session for Bob Dylan's album 'New Morning', and although none of them made the final cut for the album, some of them have appeared on one of Dylan's 'Bootleg Series' albums, including an alternate take of 'New Morning's 'Time Passes Slowly'. In 1971 he produced and played slide guitar on Badfinger's top ten hit 'Day After Day', and contributed dobro to Billy Preston's 'I Wrote a Simple Song', while in 1972 he added guitar to Harry Nilsson's 'You're Breakin' My Heart'. The following year he appeared on Cheech & Chong's 'Basketball Jones' from their 'Big Bambu' album, and 1973 also saw him add guitar to 'Waiting For The Band' from Nicky Hopkins' 'The Tin Man Was A Dreamer' under the name of George O'Hara, and 'If You've Got Love' from 'It's Like You Never Left' by Dave Mason under another of his pseudonyms, Son Of Harry. Lastly from 1973, Hari Georgeson helped out Alvin Lee & Mylon LeFevre on 'So Sad (No Love Of His Own)' from their 'On The Road To Freedom' album. 1974 was a bit quieter, with Harrison co-writing 'Far East Man' with Ronnie Wood, and both artists recording their own versions of the song, with Wood's coming out first on his 'I've Got My Own Album To Do' release. Also in 1974, two-man band Splinter released their debut, Harrison-produced album 'The Place I Love' on his Dark Horse label. It was actually the first record to be released on the label, and Harrison played guitar and keyboards on it as well, with the record spawning the hit single 'Costafinetown'. In 1975 Harrison expanded his horizons and added guitar to Tom Scott's jazz album 'New York Connection', rounding off nicely his extra-curricular activities from the first half on the 70's. Harrison then took a break while he released solo albums of his own, with his next guest appearances being in 1981 on an album from Mick Fleetwood and a single by Ringo Starr.   



Track listing

01 Badge (single by Cream 1969)
02 Time Passes Slowly (from the 'New Morning' sessions with Bob Dylan 1970)
03 I Wrote A Simple Song (from 'I Wrote A Simple Song' by Billy Preston 1971)
04 Day After Day (single by Badfinger 1971)
05 You're Breaking My Heart (from 'Nilsson Schmilsson' by Harry Nilsson 1972)
06 If You've Got Love (from 'It's Like You Never Left' by Dave Mason  1973) 
07 Waiting For The Band (from 'The Tin Man Was A Dreamer' by Nicky Hopkins 1973)  
08 Basketball Jones (from 'Big Bambu' by Cheech & Chong 1973)
09 So Sad (No Love Of His Own) (from 'On The Road To Freedom' by Alvin Lee 1973)  
10 Far East Man (from 'I've Got My Own Album To Do' by Ronnie Wood 1974)
11 Somebody's City (from 'The Place I Love' by Splinter 1974)
12 Appolonia (from 'New York Connection' by Tom Scott 1975)


For Mac users: after the file is unzipped the folder will appear empty inside. Press command+shift+period (to show hidden files) and a grayed out folder '...and on guitar' will appear and the mp3s will be inside. Either drag those to another folder or rename the folder to 'and on guitar'. Press command+shift+period to once again hide the hidden files.

Various Artists - T.V. Rocks! (2020)

I was watching the penultimate episode of the latest series of 'The Simpsons' the other day, and at the end we were treated to the end credits played by Weezer, which got me thinking about other T.V. themes that have been covered by rock bands, and there are more than you would think. Some have even been hit singles for The Manic Street Preachers, The Timelords and The Dickies, and in their naive Australia for Silver Studs, and many famous bands like to pay homage to their favourite T.V. shows by covering the theme tune. The James Taylor Quartet jazzed up 'Starsky & Hutch' for their second album following the success of their mini-album of film themes in 1987, and the latest example is a frankly unrecognisable version of 'The Golden Girls' theme 'Thank You For Being A Friend' from St. Vincent. Pantera have shredded 'Mission Impossible', just as Weezer have done with 'The Simpsons', whereas a couple of the best covers are from artists previously unknown to me, Shagpile with a lovely cover of the theme from 'Cheers', and Mateo Oxley with a similar version of the theme from 'Friends'. Also tucked away on here is Sun Kil Moon's take on 'The Partridge Family', 'Laverne & Shirley' from The Squealing Pygmies, 'Welcome Back Kotter' from Swedish hipsters jj, and Husker Du paying tribute to their hometown-based 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'. The theme from 'Batman' has been covered by many rock bands, including The Who, The Jam, Link Wray, REM, and The Ventures, but I've gone with The Flaming Lips' version here, and we round the whole thing off with the track that started this idea, Weezer playing out 'The Simpsons'. Hope you enjoy this little diversion, and now that I've got this out of my system I'll get back to the normal rock stuff. 


Track listing

01 Theme From Starsky & Hutch (The James Taylor Quartet)
02 Making Our Dreams Come True (The Squealing Pygmies)
03 UFO (The Wedding Present)
04 Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless) (Manic Street Preachers)
05 Mission Impossible (Pantera)
06 Thank You For Being A Friend (St. Vincent)
07 Batman Theme (The Flaming Lips)
08 Banana Splits (The Dickies)
09 Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Shagpile)
10 Doctorin' The Tardis (The Timelords AKA The KLF)
11 Love Is All Around (Husker Du)
12 Get Smart Theme (Agent 86) (Agent Orange)
13 C'Mon Get Happy (Sun Kil Moon)
14 Theme To The Persuaders (Jah Wobble)
15 Welcome Back (jj)
16 Happy Days (Silver Studs)
17 I'll Be There For You (Mateo Oxley)
18 Spider Man (Ramones)
19 The Simpsons Theme (Weezer)

Enjoy / Enjoy

SSV - Go Figure (1997)

SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW (abbreviated to SSV, but rumoured to stand for Screw Shareholder Value - Not So Much A Band As Another Opportunity To Waste Money On Drugs And Ammunition Courtesy Of The Idiots At Time Warner) was a short-lived musical project formed by Sisters of Mercy singer Andrew Eldritch in 1997, in collaboration with the Hamburg-based techno producers Peter Bellendir (formerly of Xmal Deutschland) and T. Schroeder. It was mainly a vehicle for Eldritch to meet long-standing commitments to his record label EastWest without actually having to record new Sisters Of Mercy songs for them, as following the release of the last Sisters Of Mercy studio album 'Vision Thing' in 1990, Eldritch had grown tired of the label and had postponed the production of two impending studio albums for several years. In the meantime Bellendir had produced 'a very perverse techno record without drums' that happens to feature sampled vocals from Eldritch, and scenting a fast buck to be made the label bought the record without having heard it, and agreed to release Eldridge from his recording contract in exchange for this one album, rather than the two that it originally wanted. The Sisters celebrated with a tour and promised 'the release of a stonking new Sisters single on the day after Mr Eldritch’s contract officially expires', but that single never came, although the SSV album was scheduled for release, and was given a catalogue number and release date of 14th November 1997. Presumably, at some point the label must have actually listened to the album, and horrified at what they heard they pulled its release, and it has never been officially issued. The Sisters seemed to have treated the whole thing as a joke, as they freely allowed downloads of the tracks from various websites, and if you weren't happy with the 128kbps mp3's you could request a lossless CDR from them! This copy was ripped from one of these band-sourced CDR's, and so is probably the best quality that we'll find, although there are still a few slips and jumps here and there. If you're expecting to find some previously unheard Sisters Of Mercy tracks here then you will be sorely disappointed, but it's certainly not as bad a contract-filler as 'Metal Machine Music', and I actually like it simply for the techno/trance album that it is.  



Track listing

01 Nice
02 Knife, Paper, Stone & Guns
03 Two In The Nose
04 Bad Vultee
05 Gone
06 Drugsar
07 High School
08 Feel No Pain
09 Go Figure
10 Shut The Fuck Up

Suggested by 'The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear' by Bruno MacDonald


Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here (1975)

After posting the Pink Floyd mash-up album 'Forever And Ever' I checked out the Magna Qualita Records website to see what else they had on offer, and I found that in 2012 the same chap had put together an alternate version of 'Wish You Were Here', with 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' as one single track, a longer 'Have A Cigar' with a vocal by Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour instead of Roy Harper, and 'Welcome To The Machine' with drums from the AMLOR tour of 1987-1989. Try as I might I couldn't find a copy, so I decided to make my own, and as well as the above alterations, I've also included an alternate take of the title track, with legendary violinist Stephan Grapelli providing the solo instead of Dave Gilmour. I've enhanced the machine noises at the beginning and end of the QMS live take of 'Welcome To The Machine' to give it a bit more bite, and this means that every track is now different to that on the original issue. While obviously you can't improve on a classic album like WYWH - so I'm not saying that this is a better version - it's certainly different enough to make it worth a listen. The cover has a homage to the original, where the burning man caused a scorch to the picture frame, and the man on the sand dune had sand running out of holes below the picture, so my picture of the diver is leaking.    



Track listing

01 Welcome To The Machine
02 Wish You Were Here
03 Have A Cigar
04 Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 29 May 2020

The Wailers - Catch A Fire (1973)

In 1971 Bob Marley moved to Sweden to work with Johnny Nash, writing and composing songs for the soundtrack to the film 'Want So Much To Believe'. At the end of the year Marley and the Wailers toured Great Britain with Nash, but when the tour was over Marley and the band didn't have funds to return to Jamaica, nor could they earn money due to work-permit restrictions. The band asked promoter Brent Clarke to help them, and he contacted Chris Blackwell from Island Records, who had released singles by the Wailers in the UK. Blackwell promised Clarke an advance of £8,000.00 for their next album, so Clarke lent the Wailers some money to return to Jamaica. Once back in Jamaica sessions for the album started, with recording taking place at three different studios in Kingston, Jamaica: Dynamic Sound, Harry J's and Randy's. In the winter of 1972 Marley flew back to London to present the master tapes, but the deal with Island led to a dispute with CBS, to whom the band were already contracted, and a court case soon followed. Island Records won the case, receiving $9,000.00 and two percent of royalties from the band's first six albums, and so the stage was set for the first UK release of a Bob Marley And The Wailers album. However, when Blackwell heard the tapes he insisted that more work was needed on the songs, and took over as producer, adding overdubbed guitar from Wayne Perkins. Blackwell also tweaked arrangements and adjusted mixes, rolling back some of the heavier bass-end parts and generally moulding the sound into a shape that remained true to the band’s roots, but which would also sit comfortably in the mainstream rock marketplace of the day. It seemed to work, and the album took off in the UK, introducing reggae to a massive new audience, and it remains one of the greatest reggae albums of all time. It was given a deluxe re-issue in 2001, and as a bonus we were treated to our first hearing of the un-edited takes of the songs, as recorded in Jamaica, and with no overdubs. So for anyone who missed that re-issue, or never even knew that the album that they love has an rough-edged cousin, then here is the original Jamaican version of it, including two songs which were dropped from the UK issue. 



Track listing

01 Concrete Jungle
02 Stir It Up
03 High Tide Or Low Tide
04 Stop That Train
05 400 Years
06 Baby We've Got A Date (Rock It Baby)
07 Midnight Ravers
08 All Day All Night
09 Slave Driver
10 Kinky Reggae
11 No More Trouble

Enjoy / Enjoy

Rory Gallagher - ...and on guitar (1978)

William Rory Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal in 1948, and bought his first guitar at age 12, performing in his adolescence with both his acoustic and an electric guitar. However, it was a 1961 Fender Stratocaster, which he purchased three years later for £100, that became his primary instrument and was most associated with him during his career. He was initially attracted to skiffle after hearing Lonnie Donegan on the radio, and while still in school he played songs by Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran, before discovering his greatest influence in Muddy Waters. In 1963, he joined a showband named Fontana, a sextet playing the popular hit songs of the day, and toured Ireland and the UK with them, earning money for the payments that were due on his Stratocaster. Gallagher began to influence the band's repertoire, and by 1965 he had eventually moulded them into an R&B group, with a new name of The Impact. After leaving The Impact in 1966 Gallagher formed a blues-rock trio called The Taste, later shortened to Taste, which lasted until they broke up in 1970. Gallagher then embarked on a long and extremely successful solo career, releasing many well-received albums, and touring extensively. During this period he was invited to play with many of his childhood heroes, contributing guitar to albums by Lonnie Donnegan, Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis. He also played on fellow Irishman Joe O'Donnell's 1977 concept jazz-fusion album 'Gaodhal's Vision', and Mike Batt's 'Tarot Suite', another concept album from 1978. His first guest appearance was on Mike Vernon's debut blues album from 1971, where Vernon managed to get both Gallagher and Paul Kossoff to provide guitar solos for his record. Also in 1971 he guested on a couple of recordings by Chris Barber, which were later compiled onto a retrospective of the renowned jazz/bluesman, but it was the recordings with Waters and Donnegan (on his last album) of which Gallagher was reportedly most proud.   



Track listing

01 Come Back Baby (from 'Bring It Back Home' by Mike Vernon 1971)
02 Drat The Frattle Rat (from 'The Outstanding Album' by Chris Barber 1971)
03 Sleepy Lovie (from 'The Outstanding Album' by Chris Barber 1971)
04 Music To The Man (from 'The Session' by Jerry Lee Lewis 1973)
05 Juke Box (from 'The Session' by Jerry Lee Lewis 1973)
06 Hard Days (from 'London Revisited' by Muddy Waters & Howlin' Wolf 1974)
07 Poets And Storytellers (from 'Gaodhal's Vision' by Joe O'Donnell  1977)
08 Rock Island Line (from 'Putting On The Style' by Lonnie Donnegan  1978)
09 Drop Down Baby (from 'Putting On The Style' by Lonnie Donnegan  1978)
10 Tarota (from 'Tarot Suite' by Mike Batt 1978)

Enjoy / Enjoy

For Mac users: after the file is unzipped the folder will appear empty inside. Press command+shift+period (to show hidden files) and a grayed out folder '...and on guitar' will appear and the mp3s will be inside. Either drag those to another folder or rename the folder to 'and on guitar'. Press command+shift+period to once again hide the hidden files.

Music For Pleasure - The Human Factor (1984)

Music for Pleasure were founded in Leeds 1979 by Martin King (bass guitar), Alan Peace (lead vocal), Sean Wheatley (drums) and David Whitaker (keyboards). The band were originally signed to Rockburgh Records and contributed the song 'The Human Factor' to Rockburgh's seminal Northern bands compilation 'Hicks From The Sticks'. in 1980. I probably first heard the song on the John Peel show, and although I wasn't particularly enamoured of synth-pop bands like Depeche Mode or The Pet Shop Boys, I did have time for the more experimental ones like The Normal and early OMD, and so when the song was released as a 7" single I bought it. In 1980, Peace and Wheatley were replaced by Mark Copson (lead vocal) and Christopher Oldroyd (drums), and so 'The Human Factor' single that I got was a re-recorded version, which was followed by the John Leckie-produced 'Fuel To The Fire' in 1981. King was replaced by Ivor Roberts on bass guitar in 1982, and this new line-up then signed to Polydor Records, and released the 'Switchback' single in 1982, followed by their first album 'Into The Rain'. I'd stopped following them by this point, and so missed their next two singles, 'Light' and 'Time', both taken from the album, and after the 'Dark Crash' single in 1983 they were dropped by the label. Music for Pleasure did continue to release records on their own Whirlpool label, with 'Disconnection' coming out in 1984, followed by the four-track EP 'Chrome Hit Corrosion' later that year. The band then released their second album 'Blacklands' in 1985, after which they disbanded. I still think 'The Human Factor' stands up well today, and now after hearing some of their later work perhaps I should have stuck with them a bit longer, as they definitely had something which stood them apart from other synth-pop bands of the era. 



Track listing

01 The Human Factor (single 1980)
02 Madness At The Mission (b-side of 'The Human Factor')
03 Fuel To The Fire (single 1981)
04 Debris (b-side of 'Fuel To The Fire')
05 Malefice (b-side of 'Light' 1982)
06 I Recall (b-side of 'Switchback' 1982)
07 Dark Crash (single 1983)
08 Urban Poison (b-side of 'Dark Crash')
09 Black Festival (b-side of 'Dark Crash')
10 Slide (b-side of 'Time' 1983)
11 The Rise (from the 'Chrome Hit Corrosion' EP 1984)
12 Walking (from the 'Chrome Hit Corrosion' EP 1984)
13 Pleasure Ride (from the 'Chrome Hit Corrosion' EP 1984)

Enjoy / Enjoy