Friday, 3 April 2020

Madonna - 12"ers + 2 (1985)

As a side-bar to the article in Bruno MacDonald's book about the unreleased Madonna album 'Veronica Electronica', he mentioned that in 1985 Warner Brothers subsidiary Sire had proposed a stop-gap mini-album which would collect together some of her singles re-mixes and soundtrack work. Madonna was at the height of her fame at this time, with the 'Like A Virgin' album and tour, supported by a then unknown Beastie Boys, being a resounding worldwide success. '12"ers + 2' would have comprised six remixed 12" singles, plus 'Into The Groove' from the 'Desperately Seeking Susan' soundtrack and 'Ain't No Big Deal', which might have been her debut single had the label not preferred 'Everybody'. However, because 'Like A Virgin' continued to sell in huge numbers, and the follow-up 'True Blue' was looming on the horizon, the release was cancelled after a few promo cassette copies were issued in Japan. Original copies of this cassette are now the holy grail among Madonna collectors, and so although none of the tracks are actually unreleased I thought it would be fun to reconstruct the album and post it here, along with updated artwork. The cover is based on the original cassette, but as only low-resolution copies of it appear on the net I've cleaned it up as much as possible without losing the original concept.     



Track listing

01 Ain't No Big Deal
02 Dress You Up (The 12" Formal Mix)
03 Angel (Extended Dance Remix)
04 Lucky Star (U.S. Remix)
05 Into The Groove
06 Material Girl (Extended Dance Remix)
07 Borderline (U.S. Remix)
08 Like a Virgin (Extended Dance Remix)

Enjoy / Enjoy

The Groundhogs - Groundhog Daze (1970)

The Groundhogs are a British blues trio who were founded in late 1963 by Tony (T.S.) McPhee (guitar and vocals) as The Dollar Bills by brothers Pete and John Cruickshank, and Tony (T.S.) McPhee, who was the lead guitarist in an instrumental group called the Shcenuals. McPhee steered them towards the blues and renamed them after a John Lee Hooker song 'Groundhog's Blues'. John Cruickshank suggested they became John Lee's Groundhogs when they backed John Lee Hooker on his 1964 UK tour, and they became to go-to backing band for visiting U.S. blues musicians, supplementing Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and Champion Jack Dupree when they toured the UK. The first single by The Groundhogs was 'Shake It' b/w 'Rock Me' in January 1965, and after a few further singles under various names they recorded their debut album 'Scratchin' The Surface' in 1968 on Liberty Records. For this album they'd replace John Cruickshank with Ken Pustelnik on drums, and added Steve Rye on harmonica, although they later reverted to the trio format. Further albums followed, with 'Thank Christ For The Bomb' (1970), 'Split' (1971) and 'Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs' (1972) propelling them into the albums charts and establishing their reputation as a hard-working rock band. This post concentrates on their early, hard to find singles and b-sides, a few T.S. McPhee solo sides and some unreleased tracks, all from their classic blues period between 1965 and 1970. Incidentally, the T.S. was added to McPhee's name by famed producer Mike Vernon, as he felt it made him sound like an old American blues veteran, and reputedly stands for Tough Shit.



Track listing

01 Shake It (single 1965)
02 Rock Me Baby (b-side of 'Shake It')
03 Someone To Love (single 1965)
04 Hallelujah (b-side of 'Someone To Love')
05 Someone To Love Me (T.S. McPhee single 1966)
06 Ain't Gonna Cry No Mo' (b-side of 'Someone To Love Me')
07 I'll Never Fall In Love Again (John Lee's Groundhogs single 1966)
08 Over You Baby (b-side of 'I'll Never Fall In Love Again')
09 When You Got A Good Friend (b-side of 'You Don't Love Me')
10 You Don't Love Me (T.S. McPhee single 1968)
11 Don't Pass The Hat Around (previously unreleased 1969)
12 Oh Death (previously unreleased 1969)
13 Rock Me (previously unreleased 1969)
14 Gasoline (b-side of 'BDD' 1970)

Enjoy / Enjoy

The Electric Soft Parade - Extra Sensory Perception (2002)

The Electric Soft Parade were one of my favourite bands of the early 2000's, and their debut album 'Holes In The Wall' is a classic of indie rock. The band were formed in Brighton by brothers Alex and Thomas White, the creative core of the band, as well as a number of other musicians with whom they recorded and performed live. Alex and Thomas originally formed Fixed Ascent (later The Feltro Media) with schoolfriends Alistair Gavan and Russell Gleason around 1997, and while ostensibly an indie outfit, there were flashes of the more complex symphonic arrangements and varied production values that would characterise the later Electric Soft Parade sound. The Feltro Media actually released an album in 1999, 'The Wonderful World Of The Feltro Media', including early versions of songs which would later appear on ESP releases, and following interest in the album the band were offered a deal with DB Records, signing with them in January 2001, and releasing their debut single the following April. Their original choice for a name was 'The Soft Parade' but were made to change it after legal action by an American The Doors cover band of the same name, adding 'electric' to differentiate the groups. 'Holes in the Wall' was released in February 2002 to wide critical acclaim, and like Editors from a previous post, each single that was taken from it was issued in a variety of different formats, each with its own exclusive b-sides. In fact there were so many extra songs that I made up another album from the b-sides of just four singles, which I burned to a CD and kept for nearly a decade. They also used to do a cover of Kylie Minogue's 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' when performing live, and I grabbed the recording that I found online at the time, and it was lucky that I did, as although the song has appeared on their 'A Decade Of Awesome' compilation, I think that's an inferior take compared to the one on here. So if you're new to band from their current 'Stages' album (which is excellent, by the way), or have followed them from the start like me, I think you'll appreciate this collection of their early work.  




Track listing

01 Broadcast (b-side of 'There's A Silence' 2001)
02 Hove Park (b-side of 'Silent To The Dark II' 2002)
03 Blitzed In 6/4 (b-side of 'Silent To The Dark II' 2002)
04 Sumatran (b-side of 'Empty At The End' 2002)
05 Start Again (from the CD issue of 'Holes In The Wall' 2001)
06 Can't Get You Out Of My Head (Kylie Minogue cover 2002)
07 On The Wires (b-side of 'There's A Silence' 2001)
08 The Loop (b-side of 'Empty At The End' 2002)
09 Stop (b-side of 'Same Way, Every Day' 2002)
10 Mood Swing (b-side of 'Same Way, Every Day' 2002)
11 Stay Where You Are (b-side of 'Silent To The Dark II' 2002)
12 Poems (b-side of 'Same Way, Every Day' 2002)
13 Zero Return (b-side of 'Same Way, Every Day' 2002)
14 Aerial Roots (b-side of 'Empty At The End' 2002)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Wicked Lester - Wicked Lester (1971)

Wicked Lester was a New York-based rock band, formed (as Rainbow) in 1970, and is most notable for including in their lineup bassist Gene Klein (later Gene Simmons) and rhythm guitarist Stanley Eisen (later Paul Stanley). In 1971 they changed their name to Wicked Lester, and after a chance meeting with Electric Lady Studios engineer Ron Johnsen, they were given the opportunity to record some demos. Johnsen, who produced the demo tape, shopped it around to a few labels with no success, but eventually the tape was screened by Epic Records, who purchased the masters and agreed to fund the recording of a full album. The entire recording process, which adhered to a haphazard schedule, took nearly a year to complete, not helped when Epic demanded the group fire guitarist Steve Coronel and replace him with Ron Leejack. When the finished album was presented to Epic's A&R director Don Ellis, he said that he hated it and was not going to release it, and the next day Wicked Lester manager Lew Linet requested and received the group's release from Epic Records. It was at this time that Klein and Eisen (now using the stage names Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley) decided that one of the reasons for Wicked Lester's lack of success was that they didn't have a singular musical vision, incorporating rock and roll, folk rock and pop, so they made the decision to start a new version of the group, and began auditioning for a drummer in the fall of 1972. After recruiting Peter Criss, they decided to concentrate more of the straightforward rock and roll, as well as theatrics, and after another name change, KISS was born. The Wicked Lester album was a mixture of original material and covers, showcasing the group's eclectic style, and three of the songs would later resurface on KISS albums with varying degrees of similarity. The only part of Wicked Lester's album to actually be released was the cover art, which was re-used for The Laughing Dogs' debut album in 1979. CBS Records, who owned the rights to the album, remixed it and planned to release it in late 1976 to capitalize on KISS's commercial popularity, but the band and Neil Bogart, the president of Casablanca Records, purchased the album from CBS for $137,500 and locked it in their vaults. Bootlegs have since leaked online and so we are now able to hear it and make up our own minds if we agree with Paul Stanley's opinion that it's 'eclectic crap'.  



Track listing

01 Love Her All I Can (Stanley)
02 Sweet Ophelia (Barry Mann/Gerry Goffin)
03 Keep Me Waiting (Stanley)
04 Simple Type (Simmons)
05 She (Coronel/Simmon)
06 Too Many Mondays (Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil)
07 What Happens in the Darkness (Tamy Lester Smith)
08 When the Bell Rings (Austin Roberts/Christopher Welch)
09 Molly (aka Some Other Guy) (Stanley)
10 (We Want To) Shout It Out Loud (The Hollies)
11 Long, Long Road (Stanley)

Wicked Lester was:
Paul Stanley - lead vocals, guitar
Gene Simmons - lead vocals, bass guitar
Ron Leejack - lead guitar, banjo
Brooke Ostrander - piano, horns
Tony Zarrella - drums & percussion

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

Enjoy / Enjoy

You might also like 
KISS - Snow Blind



Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Bob Dylan - Dylan Hears A Who (1966)

Following his motorcycle accident in 1966, Bob Dylan was forced to cancel his upcoming Yale Bowl performance, as well as the rest of the tour that would have followed. A cracked vertabrae meant that he was out of action for a number of weeks while he convalesced, and then he decided to take a break from the rock-star lifestyle for a further few months while he re-thought his life. During this prolonged period of inactivity he re-evaluated his life, looking back at his childhood, and rediscovered his Dr. Seuss books, re-reading them with a new perspective. He had the idea of setting some of the poems to music, as an experiment to make sure that the trauma of the crash had not affected his song-writing talent, and when he'd finished he was keen to record the results. Fearing that his reputation as a voice of the people could be damaged if word got out about what he was doing, he gathered a few close musician friends and swore them to secrecy, and they recorded a number of the new songs together. When they were finished Dylan was pleased with the results, but knew that he could never release them officially, and so he locked the tapes away in his vault. Now confident that he had not lost his muse he started writing again in earnest, and in the spring and summer of 1967 he joined his backing band The Hawks at the communal band house Big Pink, recording over 100 new songs in what would become known as 'The Basement Tapes'. The Dr. Seuss recordings stayed hidden for forty years, until bootlegs started to leak online in 2007, in the form of an album now titled 'Dylan Hears A Who', and accompanied by contemporary artwork, so we are now able to hear the results of those late 1966 recording sessions, which helped Dylan gain the confidence to kick-start the next stage of his career.



Track listing

01 Oh, The Thinks You Can Think
02 Green Eggs & Ham
03 Miss Gertrude McFuzz
04 McElligots Pool
05 Too Many Daves
06 The Zax
07 The Cat In The Hat

Enjoy / Enjoy

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Pink Military - I Cry (1980) UPDATE

It appears that I'd uploaded an old file for this post, which didn't include two of the tracks from the band's first single, so links are now updated, and if you've already downloaded it you can now get the complete album. 

Friday, 27 March 2020

Phish - Quadrophenia (1995)

I posted Phish's 'The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday' as a prelude to a series of albums that I'll be posting from the band, based on their annual Halloween performances. One of the most beloved Phish traditions is their Halloween 'musical costume', which dates back to their 1994 Halloween performance at New York’s Glen Falls Civic Center. For their first-ever musical costume, Phish asked their fans what album they’d want to hear played live, in full, via a mailed-in voting system, and the overwhelming winner was The Beatles’ 'White Album'. The show took place at Glen Falls, with Phish playing a full set of originals, followed by the 28-song Beatles record, then a third set of further originals. The band had never performed any of the songs on the 'White Album' before, barring a one-off performance of 'Piggies' a decade prior. Fans were absolutely stunned, leaving the venue around 3:30 a.m. after a ridiculous and triumphant night. The legend of this show continues to propel Phish forward, and the show launched a Halloween legend that is still going on today. 
Bearing in mind the recent anniversary re-issues of the 'White Album', and the many reinterpretations that the bonus tracks have inspired, I thought people would have heard enough of it over the past few months, so I decided to skip that inaugural show and start this series with the following year's choice - 'Quadrophenia'. (I can always post the 'White Album' show later if enough people want to hear it.) After the wild success of their tribute to the 'White Album', Phish decided to continue the Halloween tradition, asking fans to send in suggestions for albums to cover for Halloween 1995. While Frank Zappa's 'Joe’s Garage' was the clear winner, the band decided that the album's extensive production and potentially offensive lyrics were a non-starter, so they chose to cover the runner-up instead, which was The Who's 'Quadrophenia'. The show took place at Rosemont Horizon in Illinois, and Phish absolutely tore through the album, delivering a powerful performance of another classic record. When the band took the stage, they were joined by a horn section and some backup vocalists to fill out the album’s sound. The band turned in a true masterpiece performance on that evening, surpassing the already-high expectations that they had set for themselves the previous year, and whetting fan's appetite for next year's show, whatever it would be. 



Track listing

01 I Am The Sea
02 The Real Me
03 Quadrophenia
04 Cut My Hair
05 The Punk And The Godfather
06 I'm One
07 The Dirty Jobs
08 Helpless Dancer
09 Is It In My Head
10 I've Had Enough
11 5:15
12 Sea And Sand
13 Drowned
14 Bell Boy
15 Doctor Jimmy
16 The Rock
17 Love, Reign O'er Me

Enjoy / Enjoy

Diana Ross - Diana (1980)

Following the US success of her 1979 album 'The Boss', Diana Ross wanted a fresher, more modern sound, and having heard Nile Rodgers' work in the famous Manhattan disco club Studio 54, she approached him about creating a new album of material that stated where she felt she was in her life and career at the period. Rodgers has said that the majority of the songs were crafted after direct conversations with Ross, who had reportedly said to Rodgers and Bernard Edwards that she wanted to turn her career 'upside down' and wanted to 'have fun again', and as a result of that, Rodgers and Edwards wrote the songs 'Upside Down' and 'Have Fun (Again)'. After running into several drag queens in a club dressed as Ross, Rodgers wrote 'I'm Coming Out', and it was only 'My Old Piano' which came from their normal songwriting processes. Initially Ross was not pleased with the album's results, and following a preview of the record, influential New York City disc jockey Frankie Crocker warned Ross that releasing an album like that in the aftermath of the anti-disco backlash could be the end of her career, and the song 'I'm Coming Out' might lead fans to think that she was gay. Ross remixed the entire album, assisted by Motown engineer Russ Terrana, removing extended instrumental passages and speeding up the song's tempos. Her lead vocals were also re-recorded and remixed so that they were more up-front and not overshadowed by the music. These remixes were done without the knowledge or approval of Rodgers and Edwards, and when they were presented with the 'official' version of the album, they publicly objected, even considering having their names removed from the list of credits. Motown and Ross persisted, and the more commercial version was eventually released to some success, and so in some ways Motown's decision was vindicated, with it remaining her best-selling album to date. Rodgers and Edwards were contracted by Motown to produce a follow-up album, but as Ross left the label it never happened. Rodgers and Edwards then sued Motown, claiming that they were owed monies for creating and recording the original version of the album, but they lost the case, and the original 'Chic mix' remained unheard for many years, until it was finally added to the 2003 re-issue of the album, and then given it's own release in 2017. Both of these are now starting to get hard to find online, so for anyone who has the original album and doesn't wan't to shell out again, here's what it would have sounded like if Rogers and Edwards had stuck to their guns and insisted that it was released as they'd recorded it. 



Track listing

01 Upside Down
02 Tenderness
03 Friend to Friend
04 I'm Coming Out
05 Have Fun (Again)
06 My Old Piano
07 Now That You're Gone
08 Give Up

All songs written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers

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

Enjoy / Enjoy

Ryan Adams - Orion (2010)

I can't say that I'm a massive fan of Ryan Adams, but I am partial to a sci-fi metal concept album (!), and so when I saw this I just had to try it. 'Orion' is the 11th studio album by singer-songwriter Adams, and was recorded in 2006, while he was working on 'Easy Tiger' with producer Jamie Candiloro. It was released on May 18 2010 on his own record label PAX AM, and was described as Adams' first fully-realized sci-fi metal concept album. The original pressing was released in a limited vinyl run, and could only be purchased from the PAX AM online store, and while there are no plans for a wider CD release, as of November 2010, Adams' site paxamrecords.com was offering a standard edition vinyl that would also include the download card of the entire album, but as the site has now closed that is no longer available. Those who purchased the album in its limited run also received a bonus 7" single, but unfortunately that is nigh-on impossible to find, so we only have the original 13 songs. 
Adam's own comments about the album are: Anyone who loved this record, seriously, please seek out 'Angel Rat' and 'Nothingface' by Voivod. The entire record was my way of saying "thank you" to Denis D'Amour for many years of inspiring me after I learned of his untimely death from colon cancer. He was a wonderful guitarist and for all accounts and amazing gifted man. In fact I dedicated the album '29' to him also but it was, of course, not in the style of his wonderful music. Although, I have used his "backwards barred chords" idea in nearly every one of my Cardinals songs since.
I've been putting off posting this album for a while now, following the recent accusations against Adams of sexual misconduct, but I know there are still fans of his out there who would want to hear this, so here it is.  



Track listing

01 Signal Fade 
02 Imminent Galactic War 
03 Disappyramid 13
04 Fire Away 
05 Defenders Of The Galaxy 
06 Fire And Ice 
07 By Force 
08 Ghorgon, Master Of War 
09 Ariel 
10 Electro Snake 
11 Victims Of The Ice Brigade 
12 2,000 Ships 
13 End Of Days 


You might also like the many Adams' reimaginings here



Pink Military - I Cry (1980)

Pink Military (originally Pink Military Stand Alone) were a post-punk band from Liverpool, put together in 1978 by former Big in Japan singer Jayne Casey, John Highway (guitar), Wayne Wadden (bass guitar), Paul Hornby (drums), and Nicky Cool (keyboards). The band mixed punk-influenced rock with elements of disco and reggae, but their first single 'Buddha Waking Disney Sleeping' actually showed little of what the band would become later in their career. The four-track single was recorded live at Eric's club in Liverpool, and was a challenging listen, although you could hear the promise of things to come. It was the only release from the original line-up, as in the months that followed Wadden, Hornby and Highway all left, with Peter Lloyd, Steve Torch, Tim Whitaker (ex-Deaf School), and Martin Dempsey (formerly of Yachts) making up the next settled line-up. The band were then picked up by the Eric's record label, and the 'Blood & Lipstick' EP was released in September 1979. This was a more polished set of songs, and John Peel was impressed enough to offer the band two sessions, in 1979 and 1980. Further line-up changes followed, with Whitaker and Torch replaced by Mothmen drummer Chris Joyce, Charlie Gruff, and Neil Innes (not THE Neil Innes), and the band's only album 'Do Animals Believe in God?' was released in June 1980 on Virgin Records. After one more single, a drastic reworking of the Peel session songs 'Did You See Her?' and 'Everyday', the band split up in 1981. Casey went on to form Pink Industry, while Dempsey joined It's Immaterial and later the Mel-o-Tones, and Joyce played with The Durutti Column and later Simply Red. Pink Military were something of an acquired taste, but their later material was much easier on the ear than their early stuff, and so they deserve a re-appraisal, if only for their significant contribution to the Liverpool music scene of the 70's and 80's. 



Track listing

01 Degenerated Man (from the 'Buddha Waking Disney Sleeping' single 1979)
02 Sanjo Kantara (from the 'Buddha Waking Disney Sleeping' single 1979)
03 (Dead Lady Of) Clown Town (from the 'Buddha Waking Disney Sleeping' single 1979)
04 Heaven Hell (from the 'Buddha Waking Disney Sleeping' single 1979)
05 Spellbound (from the 'Blood & Lipstick' EP 1979)
06 Blood & Lipstick (from the 'Blood & Lipstick' EP 1979)
07 Clown Town (from the 'Blood & Lipstick' EP 1979)
08 I Cry (from the 'Blood & Lipstick' EP 1979)
09 Wild West (John Peel session 1979)
10 Did You See Her? (John Peel session 1979)
11 Stand Alone (John Peel session 1979)
12 Everyday (John Peel session 1980)
13 Pilgrim Forest (John Peel session 1980)
14 Dance Of The Waning Moon (John Peel session 1980)
15 Tomorrow (previously unreleased)
16 Did You See Her? (single 1980)
17 Every Day (b-side of 'Did You See Her?')

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Wailers - Dub Marley (1975)

During breaks in the sessions for the 'Rastaman Vibration' album, the Wailers (without Bob Marley) recorded ten of Marley's songs, which were then 'dubbed up', and gained a very limited release in Jamaica in 1976.  The dub cuts aren't bad, although far from adventurous in Sylvan Morris' mixing - it's more drop-in and drop-out rather than the journey to outer space that the best dub can be, but that said, the introduction to 'Concrete Jungle' has a wonderfully spooky edge, and the majesty of 'No Woman' is even more accented in its sparseness. The album was treated to a recent Record Store Day re-issue, but it's still very hard to track down, so for fans of reggae in general, or Marley in particular, this is a nice alternate look at some of his music. I've had to  make a couple of slight changes to the original release, as I found that the supposed dub of 'Soul Rebel' was in fact just the original instrumental version, so I've removed that and replaced it with dub versions of 'Roots, Rock, Reggae', 'Want More' and 'War' from the same 1975 sessions, with the last two being from original Tuff Gong dub-plates.



Track listing  

01 Get Up, Stand Up Dub
02 Natty Dread Dub
03 So Jah Seh Dub
04 Lively Up Yourself Dub
05 No Woman, No Cry Dub
06 Guava Jelly Dub
07 3 O'Clock Roadblock Dub
08 I Shot The Sheriff Dub
09 Concrete Jungle Dub
10 Want More Dub
11 Roots, Rock, Reggae Dub
12 War Dub

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 20 March 2020

50 Cent - Power Of The Dollar (1999)

50 Cent's first single was the  controversial 'How To Rob', which detailed how he was going to relieve some of the biggest rappers of the time, like Bobby Brown and Will Smith, of their wealth. The single got 50 Cent's name into the media, even though he didn't have an album out, and before long he'd been taken under the wing of producers Samuel 'Tone' Barnes and Jean-Claude 'Poke' Olivier - a.k.a. Trackmasters - who decided to record a whole album based on Cent's previous experience with armed drug dealers, gun fights, and robbery. They recorded 36 tracks in just two weeks, and hand-picked 18 of them to go on the debut album, which was to be released on the Columbia label. However, just before he was due to film a video for 'Thug Love', he was gunned down in Queens, and shot nine times, with one of the bullets piercing his cheek, giving his later rapping a distinctive slur, (which is obviously not evident on this album as it was recorded before the incident). As soon as the label found out about the shooting they suddenly got cold feet, feeling that they preferred a studio gangsta on their label to an actual one. They cancelled their contract just weeks before the proposed release of the album, and shelved it permanently, leaving it to the bootleggers to allow us to hear these unique recordings from 50 Cent, featuring guest appearances from Destiny's Child, Noreaga, Dave Hollister, Bun B and The Madd Rapper. 



Track listing

01 Intro
02 The Hit
03 The Good Die Young
04 Corner Bodega
05 Your Life's On The Line
06 That Ain't Gangsta
07 As The World Turns
08 Ghetto Qu'ran
09 Da Repercussions
10 Money By Any Means Ft. Noreaga
11 Material Girl
12 Thug Love Ft. Destny's Child
13 Slow Doe
14 Gun Runner
15 You Ain't No Gangsta
16 The Power Of The Dollar
17 I'm A Hustler
18 How To Rob Ft. The Madd Rapper

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

Enjoy / Enjoy

Phish - The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday (1987)

'The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday' is a 1987 concept album written by Trey Anastasio, the guitarist and lead vocalist of the American rock band Phish. It was written as his senior thesis while attending Goddard College, and included an essay piece and collection of songs (recorded by Phish) relating an epic tale from the band's fictional land of Gamehendge. Although the album was recorded, it has never been officially released, although the band circulated the studio recording in 1987 and 1988 and it quickly became a collector's item. At one time Anastasio announced plans in Doniac Schvice, Phish's newsletter, to release the material as an interactive CD-ROM, but this never happened and the album can currently only be found on bootleg.
The story of Gamehendge is told in nine parts, with short spoken narration in between the songs, and the saga can be compared to rock concept album projects like The Doors' 'Celebration Of The Lizard' or Rush's '2112' suite. The story's primary protagonist is Colonel Forbin, who goes through a mysterious door which he finds while walking his dog McGrupp, and other major characters include Rutherford The Brave, Tela, the 'jewel of Wilson's foul domain', and the evil Wilson himself. Several of the album's spoken narrative sections are accompanied by background music borrowed from sections of the Phish songs 'Esther' and 'McGrupp And The Watchful Hosemasters', while the final track 'Possum' is the only song not composed by Anastasio, having been written by former Phish member Jeff Holdsworth and later added to the Gamehendge cycle. Many of the album's songs are still included in the band's live setlist today, and the entire Gamehendge saga has been performed on five occasions, usually as the entire first set of a live show. 



Track listing

01 Narration
02 The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday
03 The Lizards
04 Narration
05 Tela
06 Narration (Ride On A Multibeast)
07 Wilson
08 Narration
09 AC/DC Bag
10 Narration
11 Colonel Forbin's Ascent
12 Narration
13 Fly Famous Mockingbird
14 Narration
15 The Sloth
16 Narration
17 Possum

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

Enjoy / Enjoy

Visitors - Compatibility (1982)

Visitors were formed in Edinburgh in the late70's by brothers John (keyboards, vocals) and Derek (bass/vocals) McVay, with school friends Colin Craigie on guitar/vocals and rotating drummers Alan Laing and Keith Wilson. They released their debut single 'Electric Heat' on Deep Cuts Records in 1979, picking up airplay from John Peel, who was so impressed that he financed the recording of their next single 'Empty Rooms', which was released the following year on Departure Music. Peel also offered the band a couple of sessons for his show, and in 1981 they released their final single 'Compatibility' on Rational Records, with both tracks taken from their second Peel session. The music was post-punk of the highest order, with twitchy guitars and discordant grooves, and taking influences from bands such as PIL and Wire. I've always loved those three singles and felt that it was real shame that they never got around to making an album, but by adding the Peel session tracks to the officially released songs we can hear the album that they should have made.  



Track listing

01 Electric Heat (single 1979)
02 Moth (b-side of 'Electric Heat')
03 One Line (b-side of 'Electric Heat')
04 Empty Rooms (single 1980)
05 The Orcadian (b-side of 'Empty Rooms')
06 Visitors (b-side of 'Empty Rooms')
07 Compatibility (single 1981)
08 Poets End (b-side of 'Compatibility')
09 Exploiting The Masters (John Peel session 1980)
10 Our Glass (John Peel session 1980)
11 Pattern (John Peel session 1980)
12 Distance (John Peel session 1981)
13 Third Base (John Peel session 1982)
14 Flow (John Peel session 1982)
15 Unit Of Acceptance (John Peel session 1982)

Enjoy / Enjoy

The Dream Syndicate - Never Ending Rain (1991)

For my final rarities collection from The Dream Syndicate, we cover the very productive years between 1986 to 1988, with one late addition from 1991. While recording their 1986 album 'Out Of The Grey' the band taped a number of additional songs, including a take of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass's 'The Lonely Bull' and a aborted cover of the Stones' 'Shake Your Hips', while the 1997 re-issue added in some songs recorded at KCRW studios in Los Angeles and in Van Nuys in California, including some choice covers from Alice Cooper, Eric Clapton and Neil Young. When their 1988 'Ghost Stories' album was re-issued in 2004 it also included extra songs recorded at KCRW studios, a number of which were unique to those recordings. Finally, we have the band's contribution to the 1991 Bob Dylan tribute album 'I Shall Be Unreleased', with their version of his 'Blind Willie McTell'.  



Track listing

01 If You Should Ever Need A Fool (KCRW studios, Los Angeles 1988)
02 Darlin' They Know (KCRW studios, Los Angeles 1987)
03 Let It Rain (previously unreleased 1987)
04 Shake Your Hips ('Out Of The Grey' out-take 1986)
05 I Won't Forget (previously unreleased 1986)
06 Ballad Of Dwight Frye (previously unreleased 1986)
07 Spill The Wine (KCRW studios, Los Angeles 1988)
08 Blind Willie McTell (from 'I Shall Be Unreleased: The Songs Of Bob Dylan' 1991)
09 Never Ending Rain (KCRW studios, Los Angeles 1988)
10 The Lonely Bull ('Out Of The Grey' out-take 1986)
11 Carolyn (KCRW studios, Los Angeles 1988)
12 Cinnamon Girl (previously unreleased 1987)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Bob Dylan - Blood From The Tracks (1974)

In September 1974 Bob Dylan gathered together a bunch of session musicians and set about recording his first truly solo album since 1970. Four days later he'd taped fifteen songs, capturing the swift working practices that he'd employed in his early years, and with the stripped-back sound also echoing that period of his career. Once engineer Phil Ramone had finished with the tapes, Dylan thought he was done with 'Blood On The Tracks', and test pressings went out to critics. The ten songs that were chosen for the album were not well-received by the music critic of the Village Voice, and apparently Dylan had the same mis-givings, so he took one of the test pressings home to play to his brother David, who suggested that it lacked a commercial appeal. Accepting this criticism, Dylan scrapped half of the album and re-recorded the songs, eventually releasing a very different version of the record. The New York pressing has been widely bootlegged over the years, with many fans believing it’s the superior version of the album, and although the complete New York sessions were released on the exhaustive 'More Blood, More Tracks' box set in 2018, this recording of the original New York recordings is taken directly from a mint condition test pressing of the intended release. Two out-takes have survived from the scrapped sessions, and I've included both the superb 'Up To Me', and an early version of 'Meet Me In The Morning' entitled 'Call Letter Blues', expanding this collection of songs recorded for the first version of a now classic album. 



Track listing

01 Tangled Up In Blue
02 Simple Twist Of Fate
03 You’re A Big Girl Now
04 Idiot Wind
05 You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
06 Meet Me In The Morning
07 Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts
08 If You See Her, Say Hello
09 Shelter From The Storm
10 Buckets Of Rain
11 Up To Me
12 Call Letter Blues

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

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 13 March 2020

The Allman Brothers Band - In A Time (1969)

Duane Allman and his younger brother Gregg grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida, and while Gregg was first to pick up the guitar, his brother soon surpassed him, dropping out of high school to practice constantly. The brothers formed their first band, the Escorts, which evolved into the Allman Joys in the mid-1960's. While playing in the Briar Patch in Nashville, songwriter John D. Loudermilk spotted them and was impressed enough to offer them the chance of recording some of their material. 'Spoonful' was released as a single, and sold well locally, but Loudermilk decided that he wanted to concentrate on songwriting and left the band to their own devices. By 1967, the group were resident in St. Louis, where a Los Angeles-based recording executive discovered them. They consequently moved out West and were renamed the Hour Glass, cutting two unsuccessful albums for Liberty Records. The band were never really happy with either album, and after an argument between Duane and the record company, the band split up and Duane moved to Miami, leaving Gregg behind to try to record a solo album to appease the label (see previous post). The two were apart for the first time for a year, but managed to reconvene in Miami, producing an album-length demo with the 31st of February, a group that included drummer Butch Trucks. 
Meanwhile Duane had become the primary session guitarist at Muscle Shoals studios, recording with artists such as Aretha Franklin and King Curtis. FAME Records signed him to a five-year recording contract, and he put together a group, including Johnny Sandlin, Paul Hornsby, and Jai Johanny Johanson, along with bassist Berry Oakley, who he'd met in a Macon, Georgia club some time earlier. However, FAME owner Rick Hall eventually became frustrated with the group's recording methods, and offered both the tracks recorded plus their contract to Phil Walden and Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records, who purchased them for $10,000, with the intention of the band being the centerpiece of his new Capricorn label. In the meantime, Duane and Jaimoe had moved to Jacksonville, and in early March 1969 were inviting anyone who wanted to jam along to come to sessions that eventually birthed the Allman Brothers Band. Dickey Betts, leader of Oakley's previous band, the Second Coming, became the group's second lead guitarist, while Butch Trucks (from 31st Of February) became the new group's second drummer. The Second Coming's Reese Wynans played keyboards, and Duane, Oakley, and Betts all shared vocal duties. Duane felt strongly that his brother should be the vocalist of the new group, and so Gregg left Los Angeles and joined rehearsals in March 1969, and after some debate over the name of the band, including the rejected Beelzebub, the six-piece eventually decided on The Allman Brothers Band, and the rest is, as they say, history. This collection includes contributions from all the bands mentioned above, and rather that just picking random tracks from their released albums, these are all unreleased demos or rare singles and b-sides, with a demo of 'Dreams' by The Allman Brothers Band themselves rounding off the album.



Track listing

01 Shapes Of Things - The Allman Joys (unreleased demo 1966)
02 Spoonful - The Allman Joys (unreleased demo 1966)
03 Crossroads - The Allman Joys (unreleased demo 1966) 
04 You Deserve Each Other - The Allman Joys (b-side of 'Crossroads' single 1967)
05 In A Time - The Hour Glass (previously unreleased 1967)
06 I've Been Trying - The Hour Glass (alternate version 1967)
07 Ain't No Good To Cry - The Hour Glass (previously unreleased 1968)
08 B.B. King Medley - The Hour Glass (previously unreleased 1968)
09 Morning Dew - The 31st Of February (unreleased demo 1969) 
10 God Rest His Soul - The 31st Of February (unreleased demo 1969)
11 I Feel Free - The Second Coming (single 1969)
12 She Has Funny Cars - The Second Coming (b-side of 'I Feel Free')
14 Dreams - The Allman Brothers Band (unreleased demo 1969)


Paul McCartney - Cold Cuts (1981)

    I've already posted an album called 'Hot Hitz And Cold Cutz', bu that was purely a collection of rare singles, b-sides and album tracks that I wanted to have all in one place. I pinched the title from a legendary album that had been on the cards to be released by McCartney for many years, but which has never seen the light of day, and which will probably remain like that for the foreseeable future. The album was originally conceived as a budget release in 1974, composed of non-album singles and previously unreleased tracks, and work began on it July 1974, with McCartney and his band Wings recording several new songs and overdubbing some previously unused tracks. The album was slated for release in March 1975 but never materialized, and in January 1981, more overdubs were added to the unreleased tracks, with the album given a release date of in early 1981. This deadline was also missed as Columbia Records was not interested in releasing an album of outtakes, and they also considered that its release soon after the death of John Lennon would seem inappropriate. In August 1987 McCartney mixed and edited another version of the album with producer Chris Thomas and engineer Bill Price, but once again the album went unreleased after bootleg versions appeared on the market. For McCartney this was the final straw, and so the project was permanently abandoned. To date, a track listing has never been officially announced, but various bootlegs have appeared on the market, taken from a variety of sources, and I've gone with the 1987 issue for this post, with details of the songs included as follows:
    • 'A Love for You' – Recorded in 1970 during the 'Ram' sessions, the track received additional overdubs by Laurence Juber and Steve Holley from Wings' third line-up, with that version being released in 2003 on 'The In-Laws' soundtrack album. A 1981 mix of the song was released in 2012 on the Special Edition re-issue of 'Ram'.
    • 'My Carnival' – Recorded during the 'Venus And Mars' sessions in New Orleans in 1975, and released as the b-side of 'Spies Like Us' in 1985.
    • 'Waterspout' – An outtake from the 'London Town' sessions, it was to be added to 'All The Best!', with additional overdubs done in 1987, but was ultimately scrapped in favour of 'C Moon'.
    • 'Mama's Little Girl' – Recorded during the 'Red Rose Speedway' sessions in 1972, and released as the b-side of 'Put It There' in 1990.
    • 'Night Out' – This 'Red Rose Speedway'-era outtake was overdubbed multiple times by different incarnations of Wings.
    • 'Robber's Ball' – Recorded in 1978 during the 'Back To The Egg' sessions.
    • 'Cage' – Removed from 'Back To The Egg' at the last minute in favour of 'Baby's Request', this song features the chords C-A-G-E as its riff to go along with the cage lyric.
    • 'Did We Meet Somewhere Before?' – Rejected as the main theme for Warren Beatty's film 'Heaven Can Wait', this song remained on McCartney's shelf until he decided to include it on the outtakes project. A snippet of the track was used in the film 'Rock 'n' Roll High School' although it did not appear on the soundtrack album.
    • 'Hey Diddle' – Recorded in 1970 during the 'Ram' sessions as a Paul and Linda duet. Later, the track received further overdubs when Wings were in Nashville in the summer of 1974. The original 1971 version was released in 2012 on the Special Edition re-issue of 'Ram'. 
    • 'Tragedy – This remake of Thomas Wayne's 1959 ballad dates from the 'Red Rose Speedway' sessions, with the song being considered for inclusion on the album, which was originally planned to be a double.
    • 'Best Friend' – Recorded live during the 1972 Wings Over Europe Tour.
    • 'Same Time Next Year' – Recorded in 1978 for the film 'Same Time, Next Year' but not used. Released as the b-side of 'Put It There' in 1990.
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    Track listing

    01 A Love For You
    02 My Carnival
    03 Waterspout
    04 Mama's Little Girl
    05 Night Out
    06 Robber's Ball
    07 Cage
    08 Did We Meet Somewhere Before?
    09 Hey Diddle
    10 Tragedy
    11 Best Friend
    12 Same Time Next Year

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

    Enjoy / Enjoy

    The Room - One Hundred Years (1985)

    The Room formed in 1979 with an initial line-up of vocalist Dave Jackson, Robyn Odlum on guitar, Becky Stringer on bass, and drummer Clive Thomas. They released a cassette album 'Bitter Reaction' in 1980, and two double A-sided singles, 'Motion'/'Waiting Room' in 1980 and 'In Sickness and Health'/'Bated Breath' in 1981, on their own self-financed independent label Box Records. These releases saw the band compared to Joy Division, The Fall and fellow Liverpool band Echo & the Bunnymen, and they soon gained strong support from the music press and John Peel. In 1981 they made four demo recordings (including an early version of 'Waiting Room') which were later broadcast on Peel's radio show as a session, and in 1982 the group secured a record deal with Red Flame records, releasing the 'Things Have Learnt to Walk That Ought to Crawl' single, quickly followed by their first vinyl album 'Indoor Fireworks'. In 1983 they suffered major line-up changes, with Odlum and Thomas departing to be replaced by ex-Wild Swans drummer Alan Wills, guitarist Paul Cavanagh, and keyboard player Peter Baker. This new line-up issued the mini-album 'Clear!' in late 1983, and the following year saw the release of their final album 'In Evil Hour', which was part-produced by Television's Tom Verlaine. In 1985 they were invited into the studio for their own John Peel session, and they chose to record four new songs, none of which subsequently appeared on an album, as following one final EP of Janice Long radio sessions, the band split later that year. Jackson and Stringer formed a new band, Benny Profane, who released the excellent 'Trapdoor Swing' album in 1989, as well as their own version of 'Here Comes The Floor' as a 7" single. This post collects together all the non-album singles and b-sides, the 1981 demos, the John Peel session, and a 1985 demo for what would have been their fifth album, for a complete overview of the band's career. The Room were a bit more successful than some other groups of the period, and all three of their albums are well worth hearing, especially 'In Evil Hour', which includes all of the songs from the superb 'Jackpot Jack' EP, plus additional new recordings.    



    Track listing

    01 Motion (single 1980)
    02 Waiting Room (b-side of 'Motion')
    03 Who Are Your Friends (demo 1981)
    04 Fever (demo 1981)
    05 Crash (demo 1981)
    06 One Hundred Years (single 1982)
    07 The Whole World Sings (b-side of 'One Hundred Years')
    08 Things Have Learnt To Walk That Ought To Crawl (single 1982)
    09 Dream Of Flying (b-side of 'Things Have Learnt To Walk That Ought To Crawl')
    10 The Storm (John Peel session 1985)
    11 Here Comes The Floor (John Peel session 1985)
    12 ...But When Do We Start To Live? (John Peel session 1985)
    13 Jeremiah (John Peel session 1985)
    14 Untitled (demo 1985)


    The Dream Syndicate - Outside The Dream Syndicate (1982)

    I've already professed my love for The Dream Syndicate on this site, and 'Days Of Wine And Roses' is a classic album on anybody's terms. Over the years it's been repackaged and re-released, and we've often been treated to rare bonus tracks by the band. The 2001 re-issue added in four songs from their eponymous 1982 EP, plus rehearsal takes of two of the album tracks, but the 2015 Omnivore re-issue was the one to get, as it added in six rehearsal recordings of songs which never appeared on the album, and many of them didn't turn up on later records either. The music is a bit rough and ready, as would be expected from rehearsals, but the power of the band still shines through, so what we have is basically a live album by a band playing just for the sheer fun of it. To flesh the album out to 42 minutes I've added in two tracks from Fifteen Minutes, which was a band formed by Steve Wynn and members of Alternate Learning in 1981, and who released just the one single in that year. The A-side was a song which just a year later would grace the 'Days Of Wine And Roses' album, but the b-side is well worth a listen, so those two songs round off this collection of Dream Syndicate rarities. 



    Track listing

    01 Is It Rolling, Bob?  
    02 A Reason  
    03 Still Holding On To You  
    04 Armed With An Empty Gun  
    05 Like Mary  
    06 Outside The Dream Syndicate  
    07 That's What You Always Say (single by Fifteen Minutes 1981)
    08 Last Chance For You (b-side of 'That's What You Always Say')