Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Stevie Wonder - Just My Speed (1968)

When I posted my first Stevie Wonder album back in July last year, I mentioned that in my online searches I'd found that there was very little unreleased Stevie Wonder out there, and so as if just to prove me wrong, I've just discovered that Motown have filled that gap by issuing a number of albums in a series called 'Motown Unreleased'. These include rare unheard songs from a multitude of their artists, starting from 1962 and covering the following six years, arranged into years such as '1964' or '1967', and also into genres, like girl singers, jazz or gospel. Scattered throughout the series, though, were a large number of unreleased Stevie Wonder songs, starting from 1963, when he was still the 12 year old child prodigy, and progressing through to 1968, where he'd matured into a thoughtful 18 year old singer/songwriter. This collection is split pretty much 50/50 between those two years, with a couple of 1965 tracks slotted in the middle, and so the contrast in the styles is quite noticeable, but it's great to hear these previously unreleased new songs alongside alternate takes of a few that did make it out, like the fast version of Dylan's 'Blowing In The Wind', or the studio version of 'Fingertips', which unlike the take on his 'Jazz Soul' album features lashings of harmonica, just like the live version that was his first hit. He laid down a fine rendition of 'Moon River' in 1968, and also recorded a big band version of 'I Left My Heart In San Francisco', but to my ears it didn't work anywhere near as well, so I've omitted it from this album, although you can probably find it on Youtube if you do want to hear it. There are a number of energetic instrumentals in here, alongside some of his own compositions from the 1968 period, and although this is an album of two halves - the youngster versus the teenager - it's interesting to hear the move towards a more assured sound as the album progresses.  



Track listing

01 Take This Hammer
02 Don't Hesitate To Cry  
03 Stevie's Tune  
04 Blowin' In The Wind (Version 1)  
05 I'm Checking Out   
06 Forever 
07 Fingertips (Version 3)  
08 Just My Speed 
09 I Ain't Got Nobody  
10 Dance Yeah Dance 
11 Til 12 O'Clock 
12 Moon River  
13 All I Want Is A Little Bit Of Love
14 I'll Wait For You To Come Home 
15 Little Ol' Boy
16 I'll See You Around 
17 Give Me All Of Your Loving  

Tracks 1 - 9  1963
Tracks 10 & 11  1965
Tracks 12 - 17  1968

Enjoy

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Peter Tork - For Pete's Sake (2016)

Although Peter Tork didn't write that many songs while a member of The Monkess, he did come up with one of my very favourites in 'For Pete's Sake'. He was the quiet one of the group, but could also be the funniest, and alongside Mike Nesmith was the most musically talented member of the group. He was a folkie at heart, but threw himself into the pop-orientated medium for the TV show, and so when the band were eventually allowed to write for the albums, his songs reflected his first love. As a tribute following his death at just 77, here's a collection of the songs most associated with him, including songs he wrote or co-wrote, and also songs on which he sang lead or co-lead vocal. He was still contributing songs right up to the band's triumphant come-back album in 2016, penning the mellow 'Little Girl' for 'Good Times!', and I've reviewed that elsewhere as being so much better than it had any right to be. The version of 'Words' on here is an early take, with some tasty backwards guitar on it, and as with the earlier Nesmith album, I've included Tork's contribution to 'Zilch', extracted from the completed take. 'Your Auntie Grizelda' might have been something of a novelty number, but it was Tork's first lead vocal on a Monkees' album, and became something of his party piece at gigs, but by 'Shades Of Grey', which was a co-vocal with Davy Jones, we found that he could be a serious singer as well. 'Justus' wasn't a bad album, and included two fine Tork originals in 'I Believe You' and 'Run Away From Life', but the general consensus is that 'Pool It!' is best avoided, therefore I've omitted Tork's sole contribution to that one, so enjoy the music of this very under-rated but talented musician. 



Track listing

01 Can You Dig It?  (Tork)
02 Shades Of Grey
03 Your Auntie Grizelda
04 For Pete's Sake  (Tork, Richards)
05 Words
06 Zilch  (Tork, Dolenz, Nesmith, Jones)
07 Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again  (Tork)
08 Lady's Baby  (Tork)
09 Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky  (Tork)
10 Goin' Down  (Tork, Dolenz, Nesmith, Jones)
11 Tear The Top Right Off My Head  (Tork)
12 Band 6  (Tork, Dolenz, Nesmith, Jones)
13 Come On In
14 (I Prithee) Do Not Ask For Love
15 I Believe You  (Tork)
16 Little Girl  (Tork)
17 Run Away From Life  (Tork)
18 Wasn't Born To Follow

Enjoy

Friday, 22 February 2019

The Dukes Of Stratosphear - A Can Of Human Beans (1987)

As I hinted in the last XTC post, I'd deliberatley omitted a rare Dukes Of Stratosphear track from the last XTC compilation as, when I came to look for it online, I found there were a number of other rare demos and out-takes available from the band - enough, in fact, to make up a Dukes album all of it's own. The first two tracks are acoustic demos of songs which never made it to either album, and these are followed by band demos of songs that eventually appeared on the '25 O'Clock' album, interspersed with a couple of out-takes in 'Open A Can Of Human Benas' and 'Tin Toy Clockwork Train', and the previously unheard radio session recording of 'Black Jewelled Serpent Of Sound'. The second half of the album is made up of demos of songs from 'Psonic Psunspot', as they didn't record any extra songs during the sessions for that album, and although you might not recognise the title of 'No One At Home', it is in fact an early version of 'Vanishing Girl'. While this isn't as impressive an album as I'd liked to post, it does have five brand new recordings, and the demos are generally very different from the finished versions, so fans of XTC and the Dukes will find much to enjoy.   



Track listing

01 Nicely Nicely Jane
02 Susan Revolving
03 25 O'Clock
04 My Love Explodes
05 Open A Can Of Human Beans
06 Bike Ride To The Moon
07 Tin Toy Clockwork Train
08 What In The World??...
09 Black Jewelled Serpent Of Sound
10 The Affiliated
11 Little Lighthouse
12 Shiny Cage
13 No One At Home
14 Brainiac's Daughter
15 Collideascope


Kate Bush - Alchemy (1994)

The second of my two b-sides collections starts at 1989, and so we're well into my favourite period of Kate's career. These tracks include two luscious instrumental versions of album tracks released as singles, a French language version of 'Never For Ever's 'The Infant Kiss', a dance version of 'The Red Shoes', her 1994 Christmas single, and a wealth of other great songs. This album is a perfect example of how Bush can move effortlessly between genres, skipping from dance to ballad to rock, and never once sounding like she's faking it.  



Track listing

01 Walk Straight Down The Middle (b-side of 'The Sensual World' 1989)
02 Un Baiser D'Enfant (The Infant Kiss) (b-side of 'Ne T'Enfuis Pas' 1983) 
03 The Sensual World (Instrumental) (b-side of 'The Sensual World' 12" 1989)
04 Be Kind To My Mistakes (b-side of 'This Woman's Work' 1989)
05 I'm Still Waiting (b-side of 'This Woman's Work' 1989)
06 Show A Little Devotion (b-side of 'Rubberband Girl' 1993)
07 Shoedance (b-side of 'The Red Shoes' 1994)
08 You Want Alchemy (b-side of 'Eat The Music' 1993)
09 Moments Of Pleasure (Instrumental) (b-side of 'Moments Of Pleasure' 12" 1993)
10 Home For Christmas (single 1994) 
11 Humming (band version of 1973 song, from 'Remastered IV' compilation 2018)

Enjoy / Enjoy

The Cure - Out Of Mind (1989)

For this post we're back to proper songs, after the last album's excursion into the more experimental side of the band. The Cure had quite a few hits between 1987 and 1989, with three singles cracking the top 30, before 'Lullaby' hit number 5. The various b-sides are all as good as their flips, and by adding an exclusive track from a Fiction Records compilation we end up with great little album.   



Track listing

01 A Japanese Dream (b-side of 'Why Can't I Be You?' 1987)
02 Breathe (b-side of 'Catch' 1987)
03 Snow In Summer (b-side of 'Just Like Heaven' 1987)
04 A Chain Of Flowers (b-side of 'Catch' 12" 1987)
05 Sugar Girl (b-side of 'Just Like Heaven' 12" 1987)
06 To the Sky (1987 song, from the Fiction compilation 'Stranger Than Fiction' 1989)
07 Babble (b-side of 'Lullaby' 1989)
08 Out Of Mind (b-side of 'Lullaby' 12" 1989)
09 2 Late (b-side of 'Lovesong' 1989)
10 Fear Of Ghost (b-side of 'Lovesong' 12" 1989)


The Spencer Davis Group - Give Us Some Lovin' (1968)

After Welsh guitarist Spencer Davis encountered vocalist and organist Steve Winwood (then aged 14 and still at school), and his bass playing brother Muff Winwood performing at a pub in 1963, he recruited both of them, together with drummer Pete York, to form the Rhythm and Blues Quartette. A year later they'd signed a record contract with Island Records, and Muff Winwood renamed them The Spencer Davis Group. They recorded a couple of singles which didn't do a huge amount, before their their fourth attempt hit the number one spot with a cover of Jackie Edwards' 'Keep On Running', and from that point on they became one of the UK's best R'n'B outfits. More hits followed, with 'Somebody Help Me' hitting the top slot again, but just missing it with the number two single 'Gimme Some Lovin'. Despite the chart successes they remained true to their roots, and their albums and b-side often featured covers of classic blues tracks, as well as some lively organ-led R'n'B instrumentals. By 1968 Stevie Winwood had left the band to form Traffic, and they'd taken on some of the psychedelic elements which were around at the time, so 'With Their New Face On' was an apt title for an album which mostly left the blues behind for a more lysergic pop sound. But their heyday was the period between 1965 and 1967, when they released some of their finest recordings, and tucked away on b-sides were songs which were the equal of their flips, so here they all are, from their first non-album single 'She Put The Hurt On Me', via a number of great 'Stevie.....' instrumentals, and including the US single versions of 'Somebody Help Me' and 'Gimme Some Lovin''.    



Track listing

01 You Put The Hurt On Me (single 1965)
02 I'm Getting Better (b-side of 'You Put The Hurt On Me')
03 Stevie's Groove (previously unreleased 1965)
04 I'll Drown In My Own Tears (from the 'You Put The Hurt On Me' EP 1965)
05 Goodbye Stevie (from the 'You Put The Hurt On Me' EP 1965)
06 Somebody Help Me (US single version 1966)
07 Trampoline (b-side of 'When I Come Home' 1966)
08 Stevie's Blues (b-side of 'Somebody Help Me' 1966)
09 Gimme Some Lovin' (US single version 1966)
10 Blues In F (b-side of 'Gimme Some Lovin'' 1966)
11 Back Into My Life Again (previously unreleased)
12 Waltz For Lumumba (Waltz For Caroline) (b-side of 'I'm A Man' in New Zealand)
13 I'm A Man (single 1967)
14 Oh! Pretty Woman (previously unreleased)
15 I Can't Get Enough Of It (b-side of 'I'm A Man')

Enjoy

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Kate Bush - Under The Ivy (1986)

There's a new Kate Bush box set on the horizon, which remasters some of her later albums on vinyl, and also includes two bonus LP's of rare b-sides, but once again they've missed a trick by omitting a number of essential songs, including a couple from the Comic Strip's 'GLC' film, and some lovely instrumental takes of her A-sides, making it a less than definitive collection. It's therefore time for me to post my series of Kate Bush b-sides and rarities, where I've filled three albums with every non-album song that this talented songstress recorded during her career, with two albums of b-sides, and one album of cover versions and exclusive film soundtrack songs. The first volume starts with the b-side to 1980's 'Breathing', which was the first time that Bush recorded a new song for the flip to a single (really just an extended instrumental version of 'The Dreaming', but it paved the way for brand new songs later), and from that point on she offered new pieces on nearly all of her subsequent 7" releases. You can hear her songwriting progressing just from the first half of this album, starting with low-key acoustic tracks, and then gradually building up to 'Dreamtime', and it's from this point on that I became a massive fan, preferring the more intricate and experimental approach of 'The Dreaming' and 'Hounds Of Love' to the earlier singer/songwriter style, although that's not to say that some of the early work wasn't ground-breaking for its time.    



Track listing

01 The Empty Bullring (b-side of 'Breathing' 1980)
02 Ran Tan Waltz (b-side of 'Babooshka' 1980)
03 Passing Through Air (b-side of 'Army Dreamers' 1980) 
04 December Will Be Magic Again (single 1980)
05 Warm And Soothing (b-side of 'December Will Be Magic Again')
06 Dreamtime (b-side of 'The Dreaming' 1982)
07 Ne T'En Fui Pas (b-side of 'There Goes A Tenner' 1983)
08 Under The Ivy (b-side of 'Running Up That Hill' 1985) 
09 Burning Bridge (b-side of 'Cloudbusting' 1985)
10 Not This Time (b-side of 'The Big Sky' 1986)
11 Experiment IV (single 1986)
12 Wuthering Heights (b-side of 'Experiment IV', with new vocal)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 15 February 2019

Sly Stone - The Seventh Son (1968)

Sylvester Stewart, a.k.a. Sly Stone, was identified as a musical prodigy at an early age, and by the time he was seven he'd already become proficient on the keyboards, with guitar, bass, and drums following by age 11. He was a member of a number of High School bands, concentrating on guitar, and was nicknamed Sly when a classmate misspelled his name 'Slyvester', and it has stuck ever since. With such a musical background it's no surprise that he ended up at Autumn Records as a staff record producer, producing such bands as The Mojo Men and Grace Slick's Great Society, and helping The Beau Brummels hone their sound and enable them to have hits such as 'Laugh, Laugh', and 'Don't Talk To Strangers'. While at Autumn he recorded a couple of singles for them, in 'I Just Learned How To Swim', and 'Buttermilk Parts 1&2', which were released to little fanfare in 1964 and 1965, but the label were impressed enough to consider letting him record an album. It was to be called 'On Stage With Sly', and it would be comprised of Sly's songs recorded with a background of screaming girls, to simulate a live album. Stewart recorded a number of instrumental tracks for it, including 'If You Were Blue', 'Rock Dirge', 'Hi Love', and 'Temptation Walk', which was later released as a single on Autumn, as well as covers of 'Watermelon Man', 'Searchin'', and 'On Broadway'. Around the same time, however, he hooked up with Billy Preston, who was already well on the way to success, and Sly moved into a more creative stage of his career, meaning that the album was put on the back-burner. I've located a number of the songs that Sly recorded for his album, and added in the b-side of a single that he released in 1962 for G&P Records, alongside those two early Autumn discs (with both sides of the 'Buttermilk' single and the two 'Swim' tracks each mixed together), and following his adoption of a new stage name, we have an approximation of what the first Sly Stone album could have sounded like. You can hear the background screams on 'Searchin' and 'Lord, Lord', but luckily the other songs were left as they were recorded, so as the 'On Stage With Sly' title no longer applies I've renamed it after one of the other songs on here. 



Track listing

01 The Seventh Son

02 If You Were Blue
03 I Just Learned How To Swim / Scat Swim
04 Out Of Sight
05 Long Time Alone
06 Hi Love
07 Lord, Lord
08 Buttermilk
09 Searchin'
10 Temptation Walk
11 On Broadway
12 The Jerk
13 Rock Dirge
14 Watermelon Man
15 Underdog

Enjoy

Public Service Broadcasting - The Singles (2013)

Public Service Broadcasting are one of my favourite current bands, and I'm hoping that by sharing this collection of their early singles that it will encourage people to investigate them further and try their three superb albums, plus the outstanding 'The War Room' EP, which first introduced them to me. Led by the enigmatically named J. Willgoose Esq., the first incarnation of the the band consisted solely of Willgoose, and following a few gigs around London, he issued the first PSB recordings in 2010 as 'EP One'. Teaming up with Wrigglesworth on drums the band played its first festival in September 2010, and then began work on a second EP 'The War Room'. This used World War II public information films and contemporary documentaries as the basis for five instrumental pieces, which blended together to produce a stunning EP which captivated me on first hearing - so much so that they're one of only five bands that I've seen live in the last decade, and the only one that I've made the effort of meet and greet at my local record store. Since then they've released three albums - 'Inform-Educate-Entertain' in 2013, using more public information films, 'The Race for Space' in 2015, which is built around snippets of dialogue from the US and Russian space expeditions, and 'Every Valley' in 2017, which used documentary dialogue about the decline of the Welsh mining industry. The newest EP 'White Star' includes four pieces about RMS Titanic, and I'm hoping that it's just a taster for a full album. After listening to music for the past 50 years I've discovered that it's very hard to come up with something completely new and original, but Public Service Broadcasting have done it, and done it extremely well. This primer includes the four tracks from the debut EP, a live take of one of the pieces from their first album and a radio edit of another, both sides of the 'ROYGBIV' / 'Lit Up' 7" single, the emotive 'Everest', and their 2013 Record Store Day release 'Elfstedentocht'. If you are getting a bit jaded about the current state of the music industry and want to hear something totally new, then do give PSB a listen and see what can be achieved with a bit of imagination. 



Track listing

01 Introduction (Let Yourself Go)
02 Mixergames
03 New Dimensions In Sound
04 Theme From PSB
05 Signal 30 (Live from KEXP)
06 ROYGBIV (Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet)
07 Lit Up
08 Night Mail (Radio Edit)
09 Everest
10 Elfstedentocht (Parts One & Two) (exclusive mix)

Enjoy / Enjoy

The Cure - Mansolidgone (1985)

The third volume of Cure rarities concentrates on demos and out-takes recorded during the sessions for 'Faith' , 'Pornography', and 'The Head On The Door'. Some are studio demos by the whole band, a few are Robert Smith's home demos, while the songs recorded during the 'Faith' sessions were completed tracks which were left off the eventual album. Most of these tracks are instrumentals, possibly being tried out as the basis for a song once some lyrics had been added, but 'Airlock - The Soundtrack' doesn't really fit into that category at all, as it's a decidedly odd 13 minute piece of musique concrete that no-one could possibly sing over! When Smith does decide to add a vocal then we get great songs like 'Screw' and 'Lime Time', and even though this album is mostly just the band experimenting in the studio, it's still interesting to hear them trying things out for possible future songs.  



Track listing

01 Going Home Time (out-take 1981)
02 The Violin Song (out-take 1981)
03 A Normal Story (out-take 1981)
04 Demise (studio demo 1981)
05 Airlock - The Soundtrack (previously unreleased 1981) 
06 Break (Group home demo 1981)
07 Mansolidgone (studio demo 1985)
08 Inwood (Robert Smith home demo 1984)
09 Screw (studio demo 1985)
10 Push (Robert Smith home demo 1984)
11 Innsbruck (Robert Smith home demo 1984)
12 Lime Time (studio demo 1985)

Enjoy

Blue Öyster Cult - Born To Be Wild (1977)

I've never thought of Blue Öyster Cult as the sort of band who'd spend extra time in the studio recording more tracks than were actually needed for an album, being more of a 'bang 'em out and get it in the shops' sort of outfit, so I was surprised at just many rare tracks I was able to uncover. For all of their early singles, both sides were taken from the then current album, and it wasn't until 1975 that they issued a single that wasn't taken from an album, with a cover of 'Born To Be Wild', although they soon went back to the traditional 'two songs from the album' for subsequent singles. Even from their very earliest recording sessions in 1972, however, they taped a lot of music which was shelved at the time, so there's actually enough rare stuff to fill a 47 minute album. I have to admit that they do seem to have used the best stuff for their albums, so some of these can be a bit throw-away, like the 50's pastiche of 'Betty Lou's Got A New Pair Of Shoes', but most of the rest are definitely worth hearing. They include some great tracks like the studio version of 'Buck's Boogie', and the rollicking 'Mes Dames Sarat', and although they attempted a cover of The Ronettes 'Be My Baby', I've left that off this album as it really was quite unremarkable and could have been anyone. Everything else is here, though, and so you can now enjoy five years worth of previously unheard songs from one of the pioneers of heavy metal. 



Track listing

01 Donovan's Monkey (previously unreleased 1972)
02 What Is Quicksand? (previously unreleased 1972)
03 A Fact About Sneakers (previously unreleased 1972)
04 Betty Lou's Got A New Pair Of Shoes (previously unreleased 1972)
05 Buck's Boogie (previously unreleased 1973)
06 Boorman The Chauffer (previously unreleased 1974)
07 Mommy (previously unreleased 1974)
08 Mes Dames Sarat (previously unreleased 1974)
09 Born To Be Wild (single 1975)
10 Sally (previously unreleased 1976)
11 Dance The Night Away (previously unreleased 1976)
12 Night Flyer (previously unreleased 1977)
13 Please Hold (previously unreleased 1977)
14 Dial M For Murder (previously unreleased 1977)


Tuesday, 12 February 2019

XTC - The Good Things (2005)

Well, I thought having four albums in a trilogy was bad enough, but with invaluable help from martinf I've now got enough rare material to make a fifth volume. I had no idea that a lot of these tracks existed, apart from 'Ten Feet Tall' and 'Scissor Man' which are on my prized 'Rag And Bone Buffet' CD, but not realising the story behind them I omitted those two from my compilations. I had to be ruthless in what to include in order to keep the album to a reasonable length, so of the other tracks suggested for this album by martinf, I omitted the rejected version of 'Life Begins At The Hop' as the eventual 7" release was on the first in this series, the version of 'Happy Families' on the b-side of 'King For A Day' seems to be the same as the film soundtrack version, the Canadian version of 'Love At First Sight' is just a speeded-up take, as the Canadians thought it was a bit sluggish, and I didn't want to include multiple versions of the same song, so left off the various remixes of 'King For A Day'. I also omitted the Dukes Of Stratosphear track because.....well, just wait and see. So that leaves one final 48 minute album, which is where I'm going to call it a day. Considering all the demos, live tracks and alternate versions that there are out there, this series could go on forever, but I do think that I've included all of their best non-album recordings in these five posts, and so if anyone else wants to carry on the series then feel free. As there are stories behind a lot of these songs, here's an explanation of them from the extremely informative chalkhills.org site http://chalkhills.org/reelbyreal/

'Ten Feet Tall' is a more 'electrified' version that was recorded for release as a US single, and also given away on a free flexi-disc with 'Smash Hits' magazine. 
'Cherry In Your Tree' was recorded for the 'Carmen Santiago Out Of This World' tie-in album from the US kids TV show. 
'The Good Things' is a cover by XTC fanatics Terry And The Lovemen, which was included on the 'A Testimonial Dinner' tribute album. Not strictly speaking an XTC recording, but even Andy says they have the band off to a tee, and the only other recording of this song is a demo from the 'Mayor Of Simpleton' 12" single. 
'Dance With Me, Germany', 'Beat The Bible', 'A Dictionary Of Modern Marriage', 'Clap Clap Clap', and 'We Kill The Beast' are all from the 'Go+' 12" which came free with the 1978 'Go2' album, before being issued in its own right. These are all experimental dub versions of songs from 'Go2'
'Ella Guru' is a cover of the Captain Beefheart song, recorded for the 'Fast & Bulbous' tribute album in 1988.
'Blue Beret' was originally included on 1993's 'The Adventure Club Sessions' cassette, released only in the US.
'Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down' was a 1980 single, which was inexplicably missed when compiling my 'Strange Tales' album.  
'Scissor Man' is a 1979 recording of the 'Drums And Wires' track for the John Peel Show, which Andy actually thinks is better than the studio version.
'Spiral' / 'Try It' was a bonus 7" single included with the 2005 'Apple Vinyls' album.
'Strawberry Fields' is a Beatles cover put together by Dave Gregory, who played all the instruments himself, recording them directly onto a 4-track recorder, and he then asked Andy to sing over the top. It was later released as a single under the name of Colin's Hermits.
'Goodnight Sucker' was a hidden track on 1977's '3D-EP' 12", but blink and you'll miss it. 



Track listing

01 Ten Feet Tall
02 Cherry In Your Tree
03 The Good Things
04 Dance With Me, Germany 
05 Beat The Bible
06 A Dictionary Of Modern Marriage
07 Clap Clap Clap
08 We Kill The Beast
09 Ella Guru
10 Blue Beret
11 Wait Till Your Boat Goes Down
12 Scissor Man
13 Spiral
14 Try It
15 Strawberry Fields
16 Goodnight Sucker

And if you're wondering about the cover, yes you really can buy plastic models of the whole band here http://www.10ft.it/figure.html.

Enjoy

Friday, 8 February 2019

The Cure - The Exploding Boy (1985)

The next installment of rarities from The Cure covers the years from 1983 to 1985. It starts with their blatant attempt to get a Top Ten hit single with the catchy 'The Love Cats', giving them a number 7 chart position after 'The Walk' had opened up the charts for them with a number 12 hit a few months earlier. 'The Caterpillar' and 'Close To You' quickly followed those two into the charts, so this collection contains songs from their most commercial period so far. 'Lament' was a free vinyl 7" given away with Flexipop magazine in 1982, after they'd upgraded from flexi-discs to hard vinyl, and for the rest of the tracks I've added the appropriate b-sides from the 'Join The Dots' box set to songs from the 'Japanese Whispers' compilation of 1983 to make an album that showcases The Cure's pop side to great effect. 



Track listing

01 The Love Cats (single 1983)
02 Speak My Langauge (b-side of 'The Love Cats')
03 Mr. Pink Eyes (b-side of 'The Love Cats' 12")
04 Lament (Flexipop freebie 1982)
05 The Walk (single 1983)
06 The Dream (b-side of 'The Walk')
07 The Upstairs Room (b-side of 'The Walk' 12")
08 Happy The Man (b-side of 'The Caterpillar' 1984)
09 Throw Your Foot (b-side of 'The Caterpillar' 12" 1984)
10 A Man Inside My Mouth (b-side of 'Close To Me' 1985)
11 Stop Dead (b-side of 'Close To Me' 12" 1985)
12 New Day (b-side of 'Close To Me' 10" 1985)
13 The Exploding Boy (b-side of 'In Between Days' 1985)
14 A Few Hours After This... (b-side of 'In Between Days' 12" 1985)

Enjoy

Mud - Flower Power (1974)

If you remember Mud for anything, it will be their string of massive hits in the early to mid-70's, including such classic as 'Tiger Feet', 'The Cat Crept In', and the festive favourite 'Lonely This Christmas'. But as is so often the case, they didn't just appear fully formed on the scene in 1973, as they had been slogging away for a number of years trying to make a go of it in the music biz. The band was founded by lead guitarist Rob Davis, vocalist Les Gray, drummer Dave Mount, and bassist Ray Stiles in the mid 60's, and they kept this line-up throughout most of their career. Rob Davis was a talented song-writer, and after Mud broke up he concentrated on the songwriting, composing 'Groovejet' for Spiller, and co-writing Kylie Minogue's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' with Cathy Dennis. He actually wrote five of the eight songs on Mud's first four singles, and continued to co-compose the b-sides of most of the hits with the rest of the band. They released their debut single 'Flower Power' on CBS in 1967, but were not immediately successful, and three further singles in 1967/68 also made no impression on the UK Singles chart. They did appear on the Basil Brush Show on BBC TV, though, and toured as support for Jack Jones, but after years of unsuccessful singles they were signed to Mickie Most's RAK label in 1973, and after Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn started writing for them the hits started coming almost immediately, with 'Crazy', 'Hypnosis', and 'Dyna-mite' all charting in 1973. For this album I've just picked the songs that they either wrote and recorded themselves, or were written for them in that period before they signed to RAK. There is just one Chinn/Chapman song here, which was the b-side of 'Hypnosis', and not exactly sure why they decided to put this on a b-side (perhaps it was a rejected A-side that they didn't want to waste?) but I wanted to include all the flips so here it is. The early songs are really good late 60's pop, and the later b-sides show a different side to the band, especially on tracks like 'Mr Bagatelle' and 'Morning', although I think the influence of ChinniChap was a little too evident on 'The Ladies'. 



Track listing

01 Flower Power (single 1967)
02 You're My Mother (b-side of 'Flower Power')
03 Up The Airy Mountain (single 1968)
04 Latter Days (b-side of 'Up The Airy Mountain')
05 Shagri-La (single 1969)
06 House On The Hill (b-side of 'Shangri-La')
07 Jumping Jehosephat (single 1970)
08 Won't Let It Go (b-side of 'Jumping Jehosephat')
09 Do It All Over Again (b-side of 'Dyna-Mite' 1973)
10 Last Tango In London (b-side of 'Hypnosis' 1973)
11 The Ladies (b-side of 'Rocket' 1974)
12 Mr. Bagatelle (b-side of 'Tiger Feet' 1973)
13 Watching The Clock (b-side of 'In The Mood' 1974, as Dum)
14 Morning (b-side of 'The Cat Crept In' 1974)
15 I Can't Stand It (b-side of 'Lonely This Christmas' 1974)

The cover is from the Dutch version of their 'Flower Power' single.

Enjoy

Rare Bird - Virginia (1975)

Rare Bird are an under-rated band from the progressive rock era of the early 70's - always at the top of the second division but never quite making the big time. The history of Rare Bird began when Graham Field placed an advertisement for a pianist in a musical periodical, from which he got thirty replies and formed a group called Lunch. He met Dave Kaffinetti in November 1968, and together they formulated the basic ideas for Rare Bird, and when they finally found the ideal rhythm section in Steve Gould, Chris Randall and Mark Ashton, The band was complete. Field and Kaffinetti had originally envisaged that the band would be a four-piece and were looking for a singer/bass player. Steve and Chris, who had both previously been members of the Pop-Psych band Fruit Machine, applied to the ad as vocals/guitar and bass respectively and were taken on. It later turned out that the founders of the band were more interested in Steve and convinced him to play bass, resulting in Chris being kicked out of the band. Two weeks later, they had signed management and agency contracts, and three weeks after that were in the studio recording their debut album. Before joining Lunch, Randall and Gould had previously written a song called 'To the Memory of Two Brave Dogs', which Rare Bird included on their debut album, renaming it 'Iceberg', but removing Randall from the songwriting credit. Along with Van der Graaf Generator and The Nice, they were one of the very first bands that signed to Charisma Records, the record label that Tony Stratton-Smith had founded. In 1969 they released 'Sympathy' as a single, and it reached No. 1 in Italy and France, selling over one million globally. It became their only UK hit single, reaching No. 27 and staying on the chart for 8 weeks. The first album released by Lunch in 1969 was called 'Rare Bird', which now also became the band's new name. They released four more albums over the next four years - always critically well received but just never selling enough copies to propel them into the top league of prog-rock bands. Along the way they released a few singles, and added some unrelased songs on the b-sides, and also recorded a few tracks which got left behind when compiling track listings, so they are all gathered here for an album that will be a delight for fans of the group, and hopefully be a primer for anyone who hasn't heard this under-rated band and wants to investigate them further. 



Track listing

01 Devil's High Concern (b-side of 'Sympathy' 1970)
02 Red Man (previously unreleased version 1970)
03 Roadside Welcome (previously unreleased 1972)
04 Four Grey Walls (previously unreleased 1972)
05 You're Lost (previously unreleased 1972)
06 Virginia (single 1973)
07 Lonely Street (previously unreleased 1973)
08 Don't Be Afraid (single 1975)
09 Passin' Through (b-side of 'Don't Be Afraid')

Enjoy

Donna Summer - Hot Stuff On The Radio (1979)

I can't say that I'm particularly enamoured with disco as a genre, with only a few groups like Chic and some of the Bee Gees work really catching my attention, but one artist that I do have a lot of time for is Donna Summer. There are a number of reasons for this, but it's mostly down to her enthusiasm for experimenting with the style, and not just sticking to the tried and tested disco beat. Her early work with Giorgio Moroder was more Krautrock than disco, with 'I Feel Love's pulsating rhythms sounding more like Kraftwerk, but still being able to fill a dancefloor. She was also unafraid to push the boundaries in terms of the length of her songs, with  'Love To Love You, Baby' and 'Try Me, I Know We Can Make It' filling the whole of side one of their respective albums, and also releasing a sixteen minute take of 'Je T'aime (Moi Non Plus)' with Giorgio Moroder in 1977. She even made a disco concept album with the 'Four Seasons Of Love' record, including another of my faves in 'Winter Melody'. Even when she released standard length singles, she often also issued extended 12" mixes as well, and those are some of my favourite tracks of hers. Recently I fancied hearing a few of them, and once I'd dug them out I wondered what they'd sound like if I mixed them all together, so that's what I did. Originally this was purely for me, to hone my skills with Audacity in seguing my six favourite songs together, but I was quite pleased with how it turned out so I thought I'd share it for anyone who has a soft spot for the sadly missed Donna at the height of her powers.



Track listing

01 On The Radio / Hot Stuff / Bad Girls / I Feel Love / Walk Away / 
     No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) [with Barbara Streisand]


Tuesday, 5 February 2019

The Doors - Rock Is Dead (1969)

As promised in my last Doors post, here is an album made up from the legendary 'Rock Is Dead' sessions. The story of the recording is fascinating, so here is an excerpt taken from Stephen Davis's book 'Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend'.
On Tuesday, February 25, 1969, the Doors were recording at Sunset Sound. Jim laid down two stentorian versions of 'When I Was Back in Seminary School', his scary southern gospel radio riff, plus a blues titled 'Build Me a Woman' - also known as 'The Devil Is a Woman', lifted from Robert Johnson's 'Me And The Devil'. A new bootleg record of the unreleased Robert Johnson recordings had just appeared, and Jim immediately reworked 'Love in Vain'' which the Rolling Stones would soon appropriate. He also cut a sing song fragment called 'Whiskey, Mystics, and Men', with accompaniment by the band. That evening the Doors and their entourage went out to supper together at a local Mexican joint, the Blue Boar, where they stuffed themselves in a private dining room and drank beer and tequila for a couple of hours. Well lubed, they returned to the studio, and started jamming. Jim sang Elvis's 'Love Me Tender' and, as the band played free form R & B, started improvising about the death of rock and roll. He kepr repeating 'Rock is dead', and 'Listen, listen, I don't wanna hear no more talk about revolution'. as if trying to damn the rock movement as something that was definitely over. 'I'm not talking about no revolution'. Jim sang. 'I'm not talking about no demonstration. I'm talking about...the death of rock and roll....The death is rock, is the death of me....And rock is dead,...We're dead! All right! Yeah....Rock is dead!'. The "Rock Is Dead" jam - forty-five minutes of primal bar-band R & B - was Jim Morrison's disgusted, explicit farewell to the rock movement that had launched him into immortality. It summed up the depressive, changing climate of the youth movement of 1969, when the Haight-Asbury had become a slum of panhandlers, burnouts and runaways. Led Zeppelin was hammering its way to the top. Ken Kesey had denounced LSD. The Nixon presidency escalated the war in Vietnam and started persecuting its critics. The Doors had lost the avant-garde, and were now hated by the same writers who had fawned on them the year before. Jim Morrison's original audience - college students and bohemians who responded to the long silences and mannered gestures of rock theater - had been replaced by dopey high school kids, pressed together like goats, giggling at 'The End' and catcalling to Jim, "Hey, you wanna @#$%& me?" It was all too much. For Jim, rock was truly dead. Jim later explained: 'We needed another song for this album. We were wrecking our brains trying to think - what song? We started throwing up these old songs in the studio. Blues trips. Rock classics. Finally we just started playing, and went through the whole history of rock music - blues, rock and roll, Latin jazz, surf music, the whole thing. I called it 'Rock Is Dead.' I doubt if anyone will ever hear it.' The 'Rock Is Dead' session remained officially unreleased for almost thirty years, but was notoriously bootlegged and became familiar to fans of the Doors. 
Eventually a heavily-edited 16-minute version appeared on the 1997 'The Doors Box Set', but this often only included snippets of full songs that were recorded, so by adding the full versions of those tracks from the various bootlegs, I've come up with a surprisingly listenable album. Obviously it's nowhere near their best work, but it's also not as bad as some critics have made out (mainly because I've excised the worst excesses and self-indulgent nonsense from the session, and just left the more or less completed songs). If you listen to this solely as a historical archive recording, and don't expect too much from it, you might actually enjoy it.



Track listing

01 Love Me Tender / Save The Whole World
02 Rock Is Dead
03 Boogie All Night Long
04 Naked Woman Jam
05 Me And The Devil (a.k.a. Build Me A Woman)
06 Queen Of The Magazines
07 Rock And Roll Woman
08 Pipeline
09 Whiskey, Mystics And Men (with 'Petition' intro)

Enjoy

Friday, 1 February 2019

Mike Nesmith - Good Clean Fun (1970)

The second of my Mike Nesmith posts collects songs from the Monkees later albums 'Instant Replay' and 'The Monkees Present', when they lost Peter Tork to become a three-piece, as well as some songs that Nesmith wrote for earlier Monkees albums but which were left off the final track listings, although some of them did turn up on the TV shows. Added to those are a few out-takes and demos from the 'Headquarters' sessions, such as his take on 'Zilch', which all of the group had a go at before they were all blended together for the final album cut, and his contribution to the '33 ⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee' television special of 1969, with 'Naked Persimmon'. To flow nicely on from the last post I've started this one with the country version of 'Listen To The Band', which closed the 'Papa Gene's Blues' album. 



Track listing

01 Listen To The Band
02 All The King's Horses
03 Some Of Shelly's Blues
04 Nine Times Blue
05 Where Has It All Gone
06 Zilch
07 My Share Of The Sidewalk
08 St Matthew
09 Six-String Improvisation
10 Carlisle Wheeling
11 Propinquity (I've Just Begun To Care)
12 Of You
13 The Crippled Lion
14 Naked Persimmon
15 Don't Wait For Me
16 While I Cry
17 Good Clean Fun
18 Calico Girlfriend Samba
19 Never Tell A Woman Yes

Enjoy
   

The Cure - Plastic Passion (1982)

Another band from the late 70's that I loved, just like XTC, was The Cure. 'Killing An Arab' and '10:15 Saturday Night' were indie classics, and after hearing them I was hooked on this bright new band. Their debut album 'Three Imaginary Boys' was chock full of short, sharp pop-punk songs, and is still a favourite album of theirs after all this time, possibly because it's so different from the band that they became from their second effort onwards. Their songs became more polished, and another classic track, 'A Forest', heralded a change of style to a more lush, atmospheric sound, culminating in the 'Faith' album of 1981. Along the way they carried on releasing stand-alone singles, as was 'Killing An Arab', and I still have all of them on 7" vinyl. Even the singles that they released from their albums had exclusive b-sides, and so it's no surprise that 2004's 'Join The Dots' box set managed to fill four CDs with these b-sides and remixes. What it didn't do, however, was include the A-sides of the non-album singles, so I thought that I'd raid that box set and add some tracks from the 'Standing On A Beach' compilation to make a definitive collection of non-album songs from The Cure. When I'd finished I found that I had five 40 minute albums, so I feel another series coming on. This one, and the next as well, bring back memories of buying the singles and playing them over and over, as before the internet the only way to hear the songs was to play the records. Some of my favourites are on this album, with 'Jumping Someone Else's Train' and 'Charlotte Sometimes' bridging the pop-punk of the debut album and Robert Smith's more assured songwriting of 'Seventeen Seconds', and ultimately  'Faith'.



Track listing

01 Killing A Arab (single 1978)
02 Jumping Someone Else's Train (single 1979)
03 I'm Cold (b-side of 'Jumping Someone Else's Train')
04 Boys Don't Cry (single 1980)
05 Plastic Passion (b-side of 'Boys Don't Cry')
06 Pill Box Tales (b-side of 'Boys Don't Cry' 12")
07 Do The Hansa (b-side of 'Boys Don't Cry' 12")
08 Another Journey By Train (b-side of 'A Forest' 1980)
09 Descent (b-side of 'Primary' 1981)
10 Charlotte Sometimes (single 1981)
11 Splintered In Her Heart (b-side of 'Charlotte Sometimes')
12 Let's Go To Bed (single 1982)
13 Just One Kiss (b-side of 'Let's Go To Bed')

Enjoy

Peter & The Wolves - Little Girl Lost And Found (1969)

John Pantry is a British singer/songwriter, who has also worked as an audio engineer with such acts as the Small Faces, as well as on the first three Bee Gees LP's. While growing up around Leigh on Sea in Essex he played keyboard for the local band, Sounds Around, who recorded two singles in 1966 and 1967. Pantry's next group was Peter & The Wolves, who were essentially the same band under a different name, and Pantry wrote all of the songs on their five single releases between 1967 and 1970. His early songs were very much in the beat-group style, but gradually his writing blossomed until he was producing songs of the quality of 'Lantern Light' and 'Woman On My Mind'. In 1969 Pantry was asked to write two tracks for The Factory, a legendary psychedelic group who had previously released the classic 'Path Through The Forest' single, and he wrote and sang lead on the two Factory standouts, 'Try A Little Sunshine' and the more folk-like 'Red Chalk Hill'. There is currently a complete career-spanning retrospective CD available called 'The Upside Down World Of John Pantry', which collects all of his work with Sounds Around, Peter & The Wolves, The Factory, Wolfe, Norman Conquest and The Bunch, as well as including some of his solo tracks and demos, but for this post I've extracted just the Peter & The Wolves songs, to try to imagine what an album of theirs would have sounded like if they'd ever made it into the studio to record one. As well as both sides of all five singles, there are some previously unreleased songs from the band, and an alternate version of 'Lantern Light', which all make up a nice 40 minute representation of the band from around 1968/1969. To be honest I'd never heard of Peter & The Wolves before I found this CD, but I can now see why Pantry is billed on it as 'Southend-On-Sea's resident pop genius', as he certainly is a neglected talent that needs a wider exposure. 



Track listing

01 Birthday
02 We Sold The Farm
03 Lantern Light
04 Woman On My Mind
05 Break Up - Break Down
06 Salt
07 Little Girl Lost & Found
08 Do I
09 The Old And The New
10 If You Want Me
11 Julie
12 Lantern Light II
13 Is Me
14 Still
15 Something In The Way She Moves
16 The Lady And Me 

Enjoy

Aerosmith - The Aerosmithsonian Archive (1981)

When I was going through my heavy rock phase in the mid to late 70's Aerosmith could always be relied on to produce some great hard and heavy rock albums. 'Rocks' was my first experience of the band, followed by 'Toys In The Attic' and 'Draw The Line', and they were one of the best heavy metal/hard rock groups around at the time. I never really considered them the sort of band who would record extra songs during their sessions, which would then be filed away and forgotten, as they seemed like the sort of band who'd go into the studio, bash out the songs in one take and then get back on the road while the producer sorted out what to do with them. So it was something of a surprise to find a number of rare and unheard songs on their 'Pandora's Box' 3-CD hits and rarities set, and even better was the fact that when you extracted all these from the box set there was exactly enough to make a 42 minute album. They seemed to do most of their extra recordings between 1977 and 1979, but there are a couple of nice takes from 1973 and 1975, and the most recent is from 1981, so all in all this is a good collection of previously unreleased songs from the early years of one of the best hard rock bands of the period. I'll be the first to admit that I can see why some of these didn't make the final cut, but they're still at least worth a listen. 



Track listing

01 On The Road Again (from the 'Aerosmith' sessions 1973)
02 Major Barbara (previously unreleased studio version)
03 Helter Skelter (from the 'Toys In The Attic' sessions 1975)
04 Soul Saver (from the 'Toys In The Attic' sessions 1975)
05 All Your Love (previously unreleased 1977)
06 Circle Jerk (from the 'Draw The Line' sessions 1977)
07 Come Together (from the 'Sgt. Peppers.....' soundtrack album 1978)
08 Krawhitham (from the 'Draw The Line' sessions 1977)
09 Shit House Shuffle (previously unreleased)
10 Subway (from the 'Draw The Line' sessions 1977)
11 Downtown Charlie (from the 'Night In The Ruts' sessions 1979)
12 Let It Slide (early version of 'Cheese Cake' from the 'Night In The Ruts' sessions 1979)
13 Riff & Roll (from the 'Rock In A Hard Place' sessions 1981)

Enjoy