Friday, 30 August 2019

Boards Of Canada - Boc Maxima (1996)

The Boards Of Canada first came to most people's attention with the release of their 'Music Has The Right To Children' album in 1998, but Scottish brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin had been recording their electronic music for some years before that album appeared, and quite a few of these tracks have leaked out in recent years. Their first EP 'Twoism' was recorded in 1995 and was privately pressed in a limited quantity, mostly for family and friends. A few copies were available to the public, and these now command extremely high prices on the collectors market, even though the EP was repressed in 2002. In 1996 the duo released a cassette album entitled 'Boc Maxima', which was a semi-private release and was notable for being a full-length album, and was the precursor to 'Music Has the Right to Children', with which it shares a few tracks. Of the early tapes that I've heard from the band, this one seems most like an actual album, and so it's worth posting so that you can hear the fledgling band coming up with pieces that would later define their sound.  

Track listing

01 Wildlife Analysis
02 Chinook
03 Rodox Video
04 Everything You Do Is A Balloon
05 Boc Maxima
06 Roygbiv
07 Nova Scotia Robots
08 June 9th
09 Niagara
10 Skimming Stones
11 Sixtyniner
12 Red Moss
13 Concourse
14 Carcan
15 Nlogax
16 M9
17 Original Nlogax
18 Turquoise Hexagon Sun
19 Whitewater
20 One Very Important Thought

Enjoy / Enjoy

Bill Nelson - When The Birds Return (1982)

You'd think that after releasing the brilliant 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' album and its attendant singles that Bill Nelson would deserve a break, but for a workaholic like him that wasn't going to happen, and so throughout the rest of 1982 he carried on putting out song after song on a variety of labels, including Mercury, Passport and PVC Records. There were more singles, each with new tracks on the flip, a mopping up EP with two exclusive songs added, and he even found time to release a fan-club single, containing more unreleased songs. While doing this he also released music by other artists through his Cocteau Records imprint, notably by A Flock of Seagulls, The Revox Cadets, Richard Jobson, Q (16), Fiat Lux, and Yukihiro Takahashi. In 1983 he was hired by Gary Numan to produce his 'Warriors' album, but the two musicians failed to maintain a working relationship, and ultimately Nelson chose not to be credited for his production role on the album. Bad luck dogged him throughout the 80's, with his deal with Portrait Records going sour, leaving just the 'Getting The Holy Ghost Across' album on the label, although further tracks from that album's sessions did turn up on the UK mini-LP 'Living For The Spangled Moment'. In the late 80's Nelson signed to Enigma Records, who then went out of business, even though they had just re-released his entire Cocteau Records catalogue, but things did pick up as the 90's wore on, and he concentrated on releasing his acclaimed instrumental and ambient music, working with Roger Eno among others. For now, though, here is a second post of his pop songs that never made the albums, all of them coming from what must have been one of his most productive years ever - 1982.

Track listing

01 The Passion (b-side of 'Flaming Desire' 1982)
02 The Burning Question (b-side of 'Flaming Desire' 1982)
03 Haunting In My Head (b-side of 'Eros Arriving' 1982)
04 Flesh (b-side of 'Flaming Desire And Other Passions' EP 1982)
05 He And Sleep Were Brothers (b-side of 'Flaming Desire And Other Passions' EP 1982)
06 Sleepcycle (from the 'Sleepcycle' fan club single 1982) 
07 Konny Buys A Kodak (from the 'Sleepcycle' fan club single 1982)
08 When The Birds Return (from the 'Sleepcycle' fan club single 1982)
09 The Beat That Can't Go Wrong Today (from the 'Sleepcycle' fan club single 1982)
10 Touch And Glow (single 1982)
11 Love Without Fear (b-side of 'Touch And Glow')

Enjoy / Enjoy

Elton John - Flintstone Boy (1979)

Following his decision to add previously unreleased songs to the b-sides of his singles around 1973, Elton seemed to take to the idea and continued to do so throughout the years from 1974 to 1979, even going so far as to release the 'Ego' single in 1978, where even the A-side wasn't from the then current album. He had done this a couple of other times previously, with 'Philadelphia Freedom' and 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds', but 'Ego' always seems to be overlooked on the 'Best Of...' compilations, so I'm including it here, along with its b-side, as I think it's a great little song. In 1974 the two songs from the 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' and 'The Bitch Is Back' singles were coupled together for a French 7" release, and in 1977 he recorded the limited edition charity single 'The Goaldiggers Song', which was to raise money to provide playing fields in under-privileged areas. This single never charted anywhere, as only 500 copies were pressed, approximately half of which were signed by Elton, and it was available by mail-order only. The song was composed and performed solely by Elton, featuring only piano and multi-tracked vocals, and the b-side was a conversation between  Elton and a number of other British celebrities, including Jimmy Hill and Eric Morecombe. Once the single was pressed the tapes were destroyed, so no other official copies of the recording exist. By adding in a couple more late 70's b-sides, plus the unreleased 'Planes' from 1975, this makes up a nice 40 minute album of rare Elton songs from the half decade from 1974 onward. 

Track listing

01 Sick City (b-side of 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' 1974)
02 Cold Highway (b-side of 'The Bitch Is Back' 1974)
03 Sugar On The Floor (b-side of 'Island Girl' 1975)
04 House Of Cards (b-side of 'Someone Save My Life Last Night' 1975)
05 Planes (previously unreleased 1975)
06 The Goaldiggers Song (charity single 1977)  
07 I Cry At Night (b-side of 'Part Time Love' 1978)
08 Ego (single 1978)
09 Flintstone Boy (b-side of 'Ego')
10 Lovesick (b-side of 'Song For Guy' 1978)
11 Strangers (b-side of 'Victim Of Love' 1979)

Enjoy / Enjoy

For fans of Gentle Giant & The Mahavishnu Orchestra

I was watching some horror shorts on Youtube the other night, and for some reason a couple of music videos popped up in the recommended pane, and it's as if they knew exactly what I liked to listen to... (worryingly I think that's exactly the case). However, in this instance I'll let them off, as the videos were an hour long concert from Gentle Giant, recorded at the Paris Theatre for the BBC in 1978, and two concerts from the Mahavishnu Orchestra from 1972 -  a half hour gig recorded for the BBC and an hour and twenty minute live concert from France.
I'm a fan of both bands, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra in particular, having half a dozen bootlegs from their classic early 70's period, so being able to see them as well is a treat. If you like either of these bands and haven't seen these videos then do yourself a favour and check them out. It's astonishing to see the Giant's live rendition of 'On Reflection', and John McLaughlin & Co produced some of the best music in the world during their heyday.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Jethro Tull - Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow (1982)

When Jethro Tull released 'Under Wraps' in 1984, the reception was mixed, with longtime fans disliking its electronic/synthesizer-based sound, particularly the use of electronic drums, and the subject matter was also unusual, being heavily influenced by bandleader Ian Anderson's love of espionage fiction. In fact, Dave Pegg was quoted at the time as saying that the tracks left over from the sessions for 'Broadsword And The Beast' would have made a better album, and so never one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to make that very album. The 'Broadsword...' sessions were very productive, resulting in a number of songs being recorded which didn't make the final cut, and eight of them did appear on the expanded CD re-issue of the album, but there were actually even more than that, with other recordings eventually surfacing on the 'Nightcap' and '20 Years Of...' albums. If we take all those songs then there's more than enough material to make the album that Pegg alluded to, and which could have been released in 1983 or 1984, either as a stop-gap between the two official releases, or even replacing 'Under Wraps' completely. 

Track listing

01 Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow
02 No Step
03 Mayhem Maybe
04 Too Many Too
05 Lights Out
06 Motoreyes
07 Jack-A-Lynn
08 Drive On The Young Side Of Life
09 Overhang
10 Crew Nights
11 Rhythm In Gold
12 The Curse
13 I Am Your Gum
14 Commons Brawl
15 Down At The End Of Your Road

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 23 August 2019

The Future - We Are The Future (1977)

There's a bit of a theme running through these last two posts, as both bands formed in Sheffield in the late 70's, and both played predominantly electronic instrumental music, but there the similarities end, as The Future went for a clean, dance-based sound while Cabaret Voltaire made their music as challenging and uncompromising as possible. As I mentioned in the Human League post, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh formed The Future in 1977 with their friend Adi Newton, who brought his Roland System-100 synthesizer with him to supplement Ware and Marsh's Korg 700s, and they started writing and recording music in their own rehearsal facility in a disused cutlery workshop in the centre of Sheffield. Newton left after a short stint with the band to form Clock DVA, another highly influential Sheffield outfit, and the other two members then recruited Phil Oakey as a vocalist, to try to give them a more commercial sound. Some of these tracks have recently surfaced on a joint archive CD together with songs by The Human League, so I've extracted them and added in a number of other tracks which weren't on the CD to make up a 40 minute album. These include 'Dancevision', which appeared on the double 7" version of the Human League single 'Holiday '80', and was actually credited to The Future on the labels, as well as a radically different version of 'Almost Medieval', which was the opening track on their debut album as The Human League. Most of these tracks were ditched along the way, and so it's great that these recordings have been kept safe for the past 40 years, so that we can hear the fledgling sound of a band who would go on to define electronic music in the 1980's. 

Track listing

01 Blank Clocks 
02 Looking For The Black Haired Girls
03 Cairo
04 Dancevision
05 Titled UN
06 C'est Grave
07 Future Religion
08 Almost Medieval
09 Dada Dada Duchamp Vortex 
10 Daz  
11 Pulse Lovers

Cabaret Voltaire - Beat World (1978)

As I mentioned in my post by The Fall, in the early 80's my two favourite bands were The Fall and Cabaret Voltaire, probably because they were both producing a unique sound for the time, and that was what I was into back then. My first purchase by The Cabs was their 'Extended Play' EP, quickly followed by the classic 'Nag, Nag, Nag' 7", and then everything they ever released after that including 7" and 12" singles, vinyl albums, flexi-discs and live cassettes, right up to the 'Code' album of 1987, where I felt that they'd reached their peak of innovative music and were coasting on the dance boom. Some of my favourite releases are the extended 12" singles, like 'Three Mantras', 'Eddies Out', 'Yashar' and '3 Crepuscule Tracks', where they were at their most experimental, and the 'The Voice Of America', '2x45' and 'Red Mecca' albums remain some of their best work. For this post I'm going right back to the beginning, with a demo tape that they put together from the many hours of recordings that they taped in their attic studio. This is one of Cabaret Voltaire's first self-released demo tapes, given to a close friend prior to the group's signing to Rough Trade. Most versions on this release are a bit different to what can be found on existing Mute/Rough Trade vinyl or CD releases, and I've pieced it together from various archive releases and bootlegs, following the track listing from the original tape. I'm fairly confident that these are the original versions which would have been on the cassette, although some of the timings don't tie up with the information that I've found online. However, I know that they're from the right period, and so this is an excellent snapshot of the emergent band at their most experimental, previewing a sound which would erupt onto the music scene a year later, creating a whole new genre all of their own.  

Track listing

01 Talk Over   
02 Here She Comes Now   
03 Capsules   
04 Control Addicts    
05 Baader Meinhof  
06 Loves in Vein  
07 Do The Mussolini (Headkick!)  
08 Oh Roger  
09 Heaven + Hell   
10 Havoc   
11 No Escape    
12 Photophobia  
13 The Set Up   
14 A Minute Is A Lifetime   

Enjoy Enjoy

Elton John - Young Man's Blues (1974)

I bought quite a few singles by Elton John back in the 70's, and I don't recall any of them having a b-side that wasn't already available on an album, so was quite surprised to discover that he wasn't as mean with his songs as I'd always suspected. Some of those early singles did have exclusive songs on the flip, and most of them are not just throwaway filler either. In fact, one of the first of these was on the b-side of his breakthrough single 'Your Song', although it took a further three years before he did it again, this time treating us to two tracks on the b-side of 'Rocket Man'. 'Grey Seal' was originally recorded in 1970 as the b-side to 'Rock 'n' Roll Madonna', before it was revisited three years later to be included on the 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' album, with the differences in the recordings being quite significant, and the flip to the single release of the title track of that album had to be renamed 'Young Man's Blues' for the US market, in order to spare their delicate ears. I've added a couple of demos from 1970 of unreleased songs which should really have made it to a record, as well as a solo demo of 'Let Me Be Your Car', which he gifted to Rod Stewart for his 1974 'Smiler' album, and which Elton never officially recorded himself. A little bit of trivia for you - the fake applause on 'Rock 'n' Roll Madonna' was taken from a Jimi Hendrix concert, although the real question has to be - why?

Track listing

01 The Old Man's Shoes (b-side of 'Your Song' 1970)
02 Sisters Of The Cross (previously unreleased demo 1970) 
03 Bad Side Of The Moon (previously unreleased 1970)
04 Rock 'n' Roll Madonna (single 1970)
05 Grey Seal (original recording as b-side of 'Rock 'n' Roll Madonna')
06 Rock Me When He's Gone (previously unreleased 1971)
07 Whenever You're Ready (We'll Go Steady Again) (b-side of 'Rocket Man' 1973)
08 Jack Rabbit (b-side of 'Rocket Man' 1973)
09 Let Me Be Your Car (previously unreleased demo 1973)
10 One Day (At A Time) (b-side of 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' 1974)
11 Screw You (Young Man's Blues) (b-side of 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' 1973)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The Mock Turtles - Somewhere In England (1992)

After The Mock Turtles were dropped from their record label they continued to write and record demos for a possible third album, and the first thing that strikes you when you hear them is how much they've beefed up their sound. Gone are the jangly indie-pop songs of the debut album and in come crunching guitars and a thumping rhythm section. Once I was over my initial surprise I found that I really liked this new sound, and so it's a shame that nothing ever came of them, with Martin Coogan keeping them under wraps until they appeared on the expanded edition of 'Turtle Soup'. If only they'd found another record company prepared to take a risk on them, their third album could have given them a whole new lease of life.   

Track listing

01 Johnny Seven
02 Angel
03 Golden Children
04 One Eyed Jack
05 Turn On
06 Up Here In Heaven
07 Casting Pearls
08 Harvey Don't Die
09 King For A Day
10 See Saw
11 Falling All Over
12 Wally's Dead
13 Somewhere In England
14 The Only One

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 16 August 2019

The Human League - Electronically Yours (1977)

Before adopting the name the Human League, the band consisted of Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, who had met at youth arts project Meatwhistle, and were both working as computer operators. Their musical collaboration combined pop with avant-garde electronic music, and with their newly-affordable Korg 700S synthesizer, their musical reputation soon spread and they were invited to play at a friend's 21st birthday party. After a few more low-key, private performances, Ware and Marsh decided to officially form a band, and after recruiting their friend Adi Newton they formed The Future. The association with Newton was short-lived, and he left to form the highly-respected industrial/indie band Clock DVA, and at this point Ware decided that The Future needed a singer rather than another keyboard player, as he felt that this would enable them to produce more marketable songs. Their first choice, Glenn Gregory, was unavailable, so they invited their old school friend, Philip Oakey, to join the band. Oakey was working as a hospital porter at the time and was known on the Sheffield social scene for his eclectic style of dress, and although he had no musical experience, Ware thought he would be ideal as lead singer for The Future as he already looked like a pop star. 
With a new line-up, sound, and vocalist, Ware decided that the band needed a new name, and so The Human League was chosen, taken from 'Starforce: Alpha Centauri', a science-fiction wargame. Using material written for The Future , the Human League released a demo tape to record companies under their new name, which found its way to Bob Last's Edinburgh-based independent label Fast Product, and he signed the band. They released their first single, 'Being Boiled', in June 1978, (I still have my 7" copy of it), and from then on I followed the band, via their 'Dignity Of Labour' 12" single, and through to the first two albums, but lost interest when they recruited the two girl singers and became a pop band, and so these early recordings are a revelation. Although they were never signed and did not release any material commercially at the time, a collection of demos has recently appeared, and is the basis of this post. The CD from which these tracks are taken consisted of recording by both the Future and The Human League, but mixed them together, and also missed off a number of The Future tracks which they could have included, so I've split them into two albums, with the Human League tracks on the first one and The Future tracks on the second. We'll start with the better known version of the outfit, and I must say that I was very impressed with both the musical and the sound quality of these early demos. The only slight tweak that I've made is that I felt that 'Overkill Disaster Crash (v.1)' was a bit too short and ended rather abruptly, so I've extended it a bit and faded it down, now becoming (v.2). 

Track listing 

01 Dance Like A Star 
02 4JG  
03 Dominion Advertisement 
04 Disco Disaster  
05 Interface   
06 The Circus Of Dr. Lao  
07 Reach Out (I'll Be There)  
08 New Pink Floyd 
09 Overkill Disaster Crash (v.2) 
10 Once Upon A Time In The West  
11 Year Of The Jet Packs 
12 King Of Kings   
13 Last Man On Earth  

Enjoy / Enjoy

The Hollies - I Had A Dream (1974)

After Allan Clarke left the band in 1971, the hits dried up for The Hollies, Their first album with Rickfors as singer - 'Romany' - was released in 1972, but he single from it, 'Magic Woman Touch', failed to chart in the UK, becoming the band's first official single to miss the UK charts since 1963, although it did chart in seven other countries. In 1973 they issued the 'Out On The Road' album, which was recorded and issued in Germany, and later that year, egged on by the success of his last album with the band, Clarke decided to rejoin them, and Rickfors left. Because of this the 'Out On The Road' album was not released in the UK or the US, giving this 'lost' Hollies album legendary status among the band's fans, and subsequently commanding high prices for the original German release. After Clarke's return, the Hollies returned to the UK Top 30 with another swamp rock-style song penned by Clarke, 'The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy Sam McGee', and in 1974 they scored what was to be their last major hit single with the Albert Hammond/Mike Hazlewood-composed love song 'The Air That I Breathe'. After the US failure of the Hollies' single release of the Bruce Springsteen-penned 'Sandy (4th July, Ashbury Park)', Epic gave up on the band in the US, combining their two 1976 albums into their last US release of the decade, 'Clarke, Hicks, Sylvester, Calvert, Elliott'. The Hollies continued to have hit singles during the rest of the seventies, but mostly in Europe and New Zealand, and so this second collection mops up their sole non-album single of 1973/74, plus some b-sides and quite a few out-takes, for an over-view of the last two years of their most productive period.

Track listing

01 I Had A Dream (b-side of 'Jesus Was A Crossmaker' 1973)
02 If It Wasn't For The Reason That I Love You (previously unreleased)
03 Papa Rain (previously unreleased)
04 Witchy Woman (previously unreleased)
05 Born A Man (b-side of 'The Day That Curly Billy Shot Down Crazy McGee' 1973)
06 Tip Of The Iceberg (previously unreleased')
07 Mexico Gold (previously unreleased)
08 Burn Fire Burn (previously unreleased)
09 No More Riders (b-side of 'The Air That I Breathe' 1974)
10 Son Of A Rotten Gambler (single 1974)
11 Layin' On The Music (b-side of 'Son Of A Rotten Gambler')
12 Come Down To The Shore (previously unreleased)
13 Hello Lady Goodbye (b-side of 'I'm Down' 1974)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Nirvana - Omnibus (1969)

Nirvana was created as the performing arm of the London-based songwriting partnership of Irish musician Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Greek composer Alex Spyropoulos. On their recordings Campbell-Lyons and Spyropoulos supplied all the vocals, with instrumental work being primarily undertaken by top session musicians, although Campbell-Lyons did provide a little guitar and Spyropoulos contributed some keyboards. The songs were a mixture of rock, pop, folk, jazz, Latin rhythms and classical music, primarily augmented by baroque chamber-style arrangements, and creating a sound that was quite unique to them. Their first album, 'The Story Of Simon Simopath', was a concept album produced by Chris Blackwell, and was released at the height of the psychedelic era in 1967. It was one of the first narrative concept albums ever released, and actually predates The Pretty Things' 'S.F. Sorrow' and The Who's 'Tommy'. When the duo relaised that they would be unable to perform their songs live, they decided to create a live performance group, The Nirvana Ensemble, and they recruited four musicians to enable them to undertake concerts and TV appearances. Although these four musicians were included in the photograph on the cover of their first album, in order to assist in projecting an image of a group rather than a duo, within a few months Nirvana had reverted to its original two-person lineup. The band appeared on French television with Salvador Dalí, who splashed black paint on them during a performance of their second single 'Rainbow Chaser', and  Campbell-Lyons kept the jacket, but regrets that Dalí did not sign any of their paint-splashed clothes. 
In 1968, the duo recorded their second album, 'All Of Us', which featured a similar broad range of musical styles as their debut release. Their third album, 'Black Flower', was rejected by Blackwell, and was eventually released in the UK in 1970 under the title 'To Markos III' (supposedly named for a "rich uncle" of Spyropoulos who helped finance the album). In 1971 the duo amicably separated, with Campbell-Lyons the primary contributor to the next two Nirvana albums, 1971's 'Local Anaesthetic', anf the following year's 'Songs Of Love And Praise'. 'Local Anaesthetic' is a superb progressive rock album, consisting of just two long pieces, and quite unlike their early psyche-pop songs, so do check it out. During their career they did release a number of songs on the b-sides of their singles which didn't appear on the then current album, as well as issuing a one-off single in 1969. There are also a few out-takes around of previously unreleased songs, as well as works in progress of tracks which would later appear in a refined form on their records (notably 'Omnibus' and 'C-Side In Ocho Rios'). I've also included an interesting take of 'All Of Us', which features vocals by the actresses from the film which it soundtracked, 'The Touchables', and we close with a version of that one-off single 'Oscar (Oh! What A Performance'), recorded with prog-rock deities Spooky Tooth.

Track listing

01 I Believe In Magic (b-side of 'Tiny Goddess' 1967)
02 Feelin' Shattered (b-side of 'Pentecost Hotel' 1967)
03 Flashbulb (b-side of 'Rainbow Chaser' 1968)
04 I Never Had A Love Like This Before (Instrumental) (previously unreleased)
05 Requiem To John Coltrane (b-side of 'Wings Of Love' 1969)
06 Life Ain't Easy (previously unreleased)
07 Omnibus (original version of 'All Of Us')
08 C Side In Ocho Rios (b-side of 'Girl In The Park' 1968)
09 Goodbye Baby Bunting (previously unreleased)
10 Oscar (Oh! What A Performance) (single 1969)   
11 Darling Darlene (b-side of 'Oscar (Oh! What A Performance)')
12 City Of The South (previously unreleased)
13 The Touchables (All Of Us) (featuring vocals by the actresses from 'The Touchables' film)
14 Oscar (Oh! What A Performance) (long version with Spooky Tooth) 

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The Mock Turtles - The Waning Moon (1994)

The Mock Turtles were led by former Judge Happiness singer Martin Coogan, older brother of actor/comedian Steve Coogan. The band began to pick up attention around 1990, with tracks such as 'Lay Me Down' and 'And Then She Smiles' on the Imaginary label, and they released the excellent 'Turtle Soup' album in 1990, which was full of superb indie rock songs, but it was 'Can You Dig It?' which gained them wider attention. Originally a b-side to 'Lay Me Down', the band's new record label, Siren, re-issued it with additional guitar work, and it breached the Top 20 in the UK Singles Chart. They released a second album 'Two Sides' in 1991, but they were unable to follow up their early success and were dropped by their label. In 2002 and 2003 Vodafone used 'Can You Dig It?' for an advertising campaign, which saw the band make a comeback, with Norman Cook doing a remix of the song which reached No. 19 in the UK chart. Most recently, 'And Then She Smiles' has been used as the theme song for the television programme 'Stella' on Sky1. Despite their short career they recorded a lot of extra tracks which were used for singles, or as contributions to tribute albums - sometimes both at the same time (their take on 'Are You Experienced?' is a revelation, and it's a shame it's only available as a vinyl rip). Add in a few b-sides and we have a fine collection of songs which shows what a massively under-rated band The Mock Turtles were.

Track listing

01 Watching The Waning Moon (from the 'Pomona' EP 1987)  
02 John O'War (from the 'Pomona' EP 1987)
03 Big Sky (from 'Shangri-La - A Tribute To The Kinks' 1989)
04 Bathing In Blue (from the 'Pomona' EP 1987)
05 No Good Trying (from 'Beyond The Wildwood - A Tribute To Syd Barrett' 1987) 
06 Calm Before The Storm (b-side of 'And Then She Smiles' 1989)
07 Shangri-La (from 'Shangri-La - A Tribute To The Kinks' 1989)
08 Fionnuala (b-side of 'Wicker Man' 12" 1989)
09 Time Bewteen / Why (from 'Time Between - A Tribute To The Byrds' 1989)
10 Croppies Lie Down (freebie single with Bucketfull Of Brains magazine 1989)
11 Magic Boomerang (single 1990)
12 Take Your Time (b-side of 'Magic Boomerang')
13 Are You Experienced? (single 1990)
14 She Told Me (b-side of 'Strings And Flowers' 1991)
15 Pale Blue Eyes (from 'Fifteen Minutes - A Tribute To The Velvet Underground' 1994)
16 Big Eyed Beans From Venus (from 'Fast 'n' Bulbous - A Tribute To Captain Beefheart' 1988)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 9 August 2019

The Hollies - Sorry Suzanne (1972)

The Hollies have always been one of my favourite bands, with classic singles like 'Bus Stop', 'On A Carousel', 'King Midas In Reverse' and 'Carrie Anne', but I've always thought that they produced some of their best work between 1969 and 1974. Singles such as 'Sorry Suzanne', 'Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress', 'The Air That I Breathe', and 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' are among the very best of 70's pop music, and I was amazed to discover recently that 'He Ain't Heavy...' never appeared on a UK album. It prompted me to investigate how many other songs of theirs from the period were tucked away on b-sides or languishing in the vaults, and it was way more than I first thought. This era was a turbulent one for the group, and after Graham Nash was replaced in January 1969 by Terry Sylvester, the band turned to outside writers for their single A-sides, and scored four consecutive UK Top 20 hits, including the Geoff Stephens/Tony Macaulay song 'Sorry Suzanne' and 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother', written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell, and featuring Elton John on piano. Elton also helped out on their next single 'I Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top', and the hits continued with 'Gasoline Alley Bred' (written by Cook/Greenaway/Macaulay), and Allan Clarke's hard-edged rocker 'Hey Willy'. Like Graham Nash before him, frontman Allan Clarke was growing frustrated with the band, and after clashing with producer Ron Richards over material, he was eager to leave the group and cut a solo album. After the release of the 1971 album 'Distant Light', which concluded the band's EMI/Parlophone contract in the UK, Clarke left the Hollies in December, a move which surprised both the band's fans and the public in general. Swedish singer Mikael Rickfors, formerly of the group Bamboo, was quickly recruited by the rest of the band, and sang lead on their first Polydor single 'The Baby', and while it didn't fare as well as those earlier releases, it wasn't actually that bad a song. By taking the six stand-alone singles released between 1969 and 1972, and adding in the b-sides and a few out-takes, there's enough material to make up a superb album, which could easily have been released as a mopping-up exercise in 1972, and with all those singles on here it's almost a greatest hits collection. 

Track listing

01 Sorry Suzanne (single 1969)
02 Not That Way At All (b-side of 'Sorry Suzanne')     
03 He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (single 1969)
04 Cos You Like To Love Me (b-side of 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' reissue 1973)
05 Sign Of The Times (previously unreleased)
06 Eleanor's Castle (previously unreleased)
07 I Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top (single 1969)
08 Mad Professor Blyth (b-side of 'I Can't Tell The Bottom From The Top')
09 Gasoline Alley Bred (single 1970)
10 Dandelion Wine (b-side of 'Gasoline Alley Bred')
11 Hey Willie (single 1971)
12 Row The Boat Together (b-side of 'Hey Willie') 
13 Indian Girl (side of 'Magic Touch Woman' 1972)
14 The Baby (single 1972)
15 Oh Granny (b-side of 'The Baby')

Bill Nelson - Rooms With Brittle Views (1982)

As I mentioned in my Red Noise post, I'm a massive fan of Bill Nelson, and consider him to be a genius of modern music, with his music encompassing an extremely wide variety of genres, from folk to hard rock, new wave to electro-pop, ambient to heavy metal. This post covers his pop side, with a selection of songs recorded in 1980 and 1981, starting with 'Do You Dream In Colour', which was a left-over from songs recorded for a proposed second Red Noise album. Nelson's management obtained the tapes from Harvest/EMI after they turned down the Red Noise album, so that Nelson could release it as a solo single on his own Cocteau Records label, kick-starting another phase of his career. The success of the single encouraged his manager to purchase the remaining songs in order to release them as the superlative 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' album, with further singles being released from it, in the form of the equally impressive 'Rooms With Brittle Views' and 'Living In My Limousine'. Each of these singles had two or three new songs on their flips, and all of them are great guitar-based electro-pop, with Nelson playing most of the instruments himself. This thirteen track album is made up of songs recorded over just a two year period, and with such a prolific output, you can see how he's managed to release over 100 albums since his 'Northern Dream' debut in 1971.    

Track listing

01 Rooms With Brittle Views (single 1980)
02 Dada Guitare (b-side of 'Rooms With Brittle Views')
03 Ideal Homes (b-side of 'Do You Dream In Colour' 1980)
04 Instantly Yours (b-side of 'Do You Dream In Colour' 1980)
05 Atom Man Loves Radium Girl (b-side of 'Do You Dream In Colour' 1980)
06 Birds Of Tin (b-side of 'Living In My Limousine' 1981)
07 Love In The Abstract (b-side of 'Living In My Limousine' 1981)
08 White Sound (b-side of 'Living In My Limousine' 12" 1981)
09 Be My Dynamo (b-side of 'Youth Of Nation On Fire' 1981)
10 All My Wives Were Iron (b-side of 'Youth Of Nation On Fire' 1981)
11 Turn To Fiction (b-side of 'Banal' 12" 1981)
12 Hers Is A Lush Situation (b-side of 'Banal' 12" 1981)
13 Mr. Magnetism Himself (b-side of 'Banal' 1981)

Ramones - Rock 'n' Roll High School (1980)

I've loved the Ramones from the first time that I heard them on the John Peel show way back in 1976, and still have their first three vinyl albums in my collection, as well as the fourth on CD, picked up much later when I wanted to rekindle the relationship. I skipped the live album and then moved on to 'End Of The Century', and that was roughly when the love affair ended. I was prepared to give it a try, but having Phil Spector as the producer was something that I'd have to get past in order to enjoy the record. However, one listen to 'Baby, I Love You', with its syrupy strings and too-laid-back Joey vocal, was enough to put me off, and I never really gave it much credence after that. Stories abound of the tense working conditions between the band and the producer, as the Ramones weren’t used to the pop perfectionism of a producer like Spector, and he was a notorious taskmaster when it came to his artists, often requiring take after take of a song to make sure it was perfect. Prior to him coming on board, the band had only worked with their friend Ed Stasium, or their former drummer/manager Tommy Ramone, and they could knock out an album in a couple of weeks. Spector reputedly made Johnny play the same chord on 'Rock 'n' Roll High School' for hours on end, and then spent 12 solid hours sitting there and listening to the same chord over and over again. He also allegedly pulled a gun on the band in the studio, and after a week of dealing with Spector's antics, Johnny decided to go back to New York, effectively ending the Ramones, or at least the sessions for 'End of the Century'. 
The album eventually limped out in 1980, but is never talked about with the reverence that their early work commands. When it was re-issued in a deluxe edition in 2002 it included some bonus tracks, in the form of demos of some of the songs from the finished record. These were obviously much more in the style of their earlier performances, being more raw and ramshackled, and so I decided to use them to put together an album with as little Spector on it as I could. Where we have demos of the songs I've used those, and I've replaced 'Rock 'n' Roll High School' and 'I Want You Around' with the 'Rock 'n' Roll High School' film soundtrack versions, while 'Baby, I Love You' has gone completely, to be replaced by the out-take 'Please Don't Leave'. For the other songs I've had to stick with the original album versions, but with a bit of low-end bass taken off, and in the context of this reimagining of the record they fit in pretty well. If, like me, you felt the band were on the verge of selling out with 'End Of The Century' then see if this changes your mind.

Track listing

01 Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio (demo)
02 I'm Affected (demo)
03 Danny Says (demo)
04 Chinese Rock (album version)
05 The Return Of Jack And Judy (album version)
06 Let's Go (album version)
07 I Want You Around (soundtrack version)
08 I Can't Make It On Time (album version)
09 This Ain't Havana (album version)
10 Rock 'n' Roll High School (soundtrack version)
11 All The Way (demo)
12 Please Don't Leave (demo)
13 High Risk Insurance (album version)

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Colin Potter - Potter's Wheel (1989)

Following my last post from Colin Potter someone pointed me in the direction of the ICR website, where an extended vinyl edition of 'Here' had just been issued, including three previously unissued or hard to find tracks. I've just received my copy of that, plus another vinyl issue of a more recent release, 'The Abominable Slowman' from 2017. Both albums are brilliant stuff, with the new one having a much harder edge than I would have expected. Coincidentally, while I was retrieving some of my old cassettes for future posts I found a three track compilation tape called 'Chainsaw', which featured one long Potter track alongside two from Monoplane. I hadn't heard it in ages so gave it a listen and found that it was just too good to languish away on this obscure cassette, so it got me thinking if there were any other tracks that had been given away for inclusion on compilation tapes back in the 80's, and was surprised to find that there were actually over an hour's worth scattered around. They range from very early work from 1980, when he was in his vocal synth-pop mode, through to the longer instrumental pieces that he started to compose around the time of 'Here' a year or so later. It also includes some shorter instrumentals from 'The Scythe', 'A Gain', and 'The Where House' era, right up to a couple of pieces that he gave to cassette compilations in 1989. For fans of Colin Potter this is a fascinating journey through his career, as you can hear the progression from the early Cabaret Voltaire-style pieces, becoming more confident in what he is doing with 'Here' and 'Two Nights', and bringing it right up to date, where he can produce an album as good as 'The Abominable Slowman' some 35 years after some of those early cassettes made their first appearance. 

Track listing

01 Is It You, Is It Me ('Angst In My Pants' EP 1980)
02 I Am Your Shadow ('Angst In My Pants' EP 1980)
03 Quick One ('Angst In My Pants' EP 1980)
04 Bogey Man ('Deleted Funtime' 1980)
05 One Million Blades Of Grass ('Visions' 1983)
06 Behind You ('Couldn't Agree On A Title' 1981)
07 We Are So Glad ('Couldn't Agree On A Title' 1981)
08 Soul Train ('Sudden Departure' 1982)
09 Hills ('Integration' 1983)
10 The State ('Three Minute Symphony' 1983)
11 For All You Know ('Insane Music For Insane People Vol 2' 1983)
12 Night Shift ('Chainsaw' 1984)
13 Potter's Wheel ('A Cage Went In Search Of A Bird' 1985) 
14 Marsh Fog ('Journey To The End Of Night' 1986)
15 The Burrowing Machine ('Directions Two' 1989)
16 Malton ('Remote Viewing Vol. 2' 1989)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Monday, 5 August 2019

Vivian Stanshall - Are You Having Any Fun? (1990) UPDATE

Thanks to Mark G for pointing out that the recording of 'Paper-Round' that I'd used for this post was distinctly off. I somehow missed just how distorted it was, and so I've sourced a better copy of it, and updated the links on the original post.
For anyone who has already downloaded the album, here's the replacement version of the track, and that also applies for 'A Dog's Breakfast' by the Bonzos, which used the same recording.


Friday, 2 August 2019

The Dave Clark Five - Inside And Out (1970)

Most people must know The Dave Clark Five's two biggest hits 'Glad All Over' and 'Bits And Pieces', and if, like me, you thought that all of their other material was in the same foot-stomping style, then this album will be as much of a surprise to you as it was to me compiling it. The band had its origins in 1958, as the backing musicians for north London vocalist Stan Saxon, with Dave Clark playing drums in a frequently changing lineup. Clark and his bandmates eventually split with Saxon and reconstituted themselves as a standalone group in January 1962, making their home in Tottenham, London. After a little more evolution, a lasting ensemble was settled on, with Clark on drums, Rick Huxley on bass, Lenny Davidson on lead guitar, Denis Payton on saxophone, harmonica and second guitar, and Mike Smith on keyboards and main vocals, and the DC5 (as they became known) were promoted as the vanguard of a Tottenham Sound, in response to Liverpool's Mersey Beat sound. Dave Clark struck business deals that allowed him to produce the band's recordings and gave him control of the master recordings, a concept which was later copied by other savvy musicians, and it means that he still controls the issue of all the band's recordings. The band had 12 Top 40 hits in the UK between 1964 and 1967, and 17 records in the Top 40 of the US Billboard chart, and they made 18 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show – more than any British Invasion group. The band released a film, 'Catch Us If You Can' (directed by John Boorman) in 1965, starring Barbara Ferris, and it was released in the United States as 'Having A Wild Weekend', which also became the name of one of their albums. Other than the songs 'Inside and Out', 'Maze of Love' and 'Live in the Sky', the band did not really fully embrace the psychedelic music trend of the late 60's, but those three songs are so good that I decided to see if I could put together an album of those, and other more mature recordings of the period. By getting rid of the pop stuff they recorded during 1967-1970, and adding in some obscure b-sides and a couple of effective ballads, I think this album shows a completely different side of the band than most people would not know just from their hits. 

Track listing

01 Maze Of Love (b-side of 'Red Balloon')
02 34-06 (b-side of 'Put A Little Love In Your Heart' 1969)
03 Concentrate Baby (b-side of 'Everybody Knows' 1967)
04 Julia (single 1970)
05 Inside And Out (from the 'Everybody Knows' album 1967)
06 Red Balloon (single 1968) 
07 Small Talk (b-side of 'You Got What It Takes' 1967)
08 Pumping (b-side of 'You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby' 1967)
09 Red And Blue (single 1967)
10 Live In The Sky (single 1968)
11 You Don't Want My Loving (b-side of 'No One Can Break A Heart Like You' 1968)
12 Lost In His Dreams (from the 'Everybody Knows' album 1967)
13 Best Day's Work (b-side of 'If Somebody Loves You' 1969)
14 Children (side of 'Live In The Sky')
15 Five By Five (b-side of 'Julia')

Enjoy / Enjoy

Rachel Flowers - A Tribute To Keith Emerson (2009)

Following my last post from Rachel Flowers I expected to see some comments from people who were blown away at seeing her incredible solo interpretation of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Tarkus on Keith Emerson's own mini-Moog, and so I can only assume that you were all so stunned by it that you couldn't even type! As I mentioned in that post, Rachel is a massive fan of ELP, and Keith Emerson in particular, so much so that they became friends during the later years of his life. She has performed many covers of the band's material, and there have been videos of her versions of 'Karn Evil 9 - First Impression' and 'Karn Evil 9 - Second Impression' around for a while on Youtube, but I'd never found the third part until quite recently, and so now that I have them all I've decided it's time to post all three as her tribute to Keith Emerson. As well was the complete 'Karn Evil 9', she's also recorded her own interpretation of Emerson's 'Piano Concerto No. 1' as a piece for piano and flute. As you might have seen from the previous post, I was asked to take down my link to the album, and replace it with posts to Rachel's own Soundcloud page, and so I'll be doing the same here, with links to the Youtube videos rather than my own album. However, in this case I think this is actually better, as during the 'Piano Concerto' you would have heard Rachel playing the flute and the piano, but without seeing it you would never have known that she was playing the flute one-handed while keeping the rhythm on the piano, BOTH AT THE SAME TIME. As I said last time, do check out Rachel's other Youtube videos as well as her Soundcloud page, and support this extraordinary talent if you can. 

Track listing

01 Karn Evil 9 - First Impression
02 Karn Evil 9 - Second Impression
03 Karn Evil 9 - Third Impression
04 Piano Concerto No. 1