Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Phish - Remain In Light (1996)

When Halloween came around in 1996, Phish eschewed the fan-vote process and decided to simply pick their own musical costume. It’s a great thing that they did, because, in 1996, the world was blessed with Phish’s full-album cover of The Talking Heads' 'Remain In Light'. With two huge albums under their belt with 'The White Album' and 'Quadrophenia', perhaps the band wanted to pick a shorter album that they could really perfect. Adding horns and a percussionist to the mix, the band absolutely nailed the album, especially their version of 'Crosseyed And Painless', which remains a standout jam-vehicle for the band to this day.
Phish would go on to say that the work they put into perfecting their cover of 'Remain In Light' had a major impact on them moving forward, and you can hear on the albums that they released in the late 90’s. As if the Halloween tradition couldn’t get any more exciting, it started to become clear to the band and fans alike that this yearly process was helping launch Phish in new and exciting directions.



Track listing

01 Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)
02 Crosseyed And Painless
03 The Great Curve
04 Once In A Lifetime
05 Houses In Motion
06 Seen And Not Seen
07 Listening Wind
08 The Overload


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