Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Kate Bush - Under The Ivy (1986)

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



Track listing

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

Enjoy

Friday, 15 February 2019

Sly Stone - The Seventh Son (1968)

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

UPDATE - I've just been listening to my mix of the two 'Swim...' songs and it didn't sound right to me, so I've redone it with a bit extra from 'Scat Swim'. If you've already downloaded this then see what you think of this version to replace the old one 'Swim...'



Track listing

01 The Seventh Son

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

Enjoy

Public Service Broadcasting - The Singles (2013)

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



Track listing

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

Enjoy

The Cure - Mansolidgone (1985)

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



Track listing

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

Enjoy

Blue Öyster Cult - Born To Be Wild (1977)

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



Track listing

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


Tuesday, 12 February 2019

XTC - The Good Things (2005)

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

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



Track listing

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

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

Enjoy

Friday, 8 February 2019

The Cure - The Exploding Boy (1985)

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



Track listing

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

Enjoy

Mud - Flower Power (1974)

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



Track listing

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

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

Enjoy

Rare Bird - Virginia (1975)

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



Track listing

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

Enjoy

Donna Summer - Hot Stuff On The Radio (1979)

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



Track listing

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