Friday, 12 July 2019

Steamhammer - Blues For Passing People (1970)

Steamhammer were a blues rock band from Worthing, England, who were founded in 1968 by guitarist Martin Quittenton and vocalist/guitarist Kieran White. The first stable line-up consisted of Quittenton, White, Martin Pugh (guitar), Steve Davy (bass), and Michael Rushton (drums), and in their early days they acted as backing band for Freddie King on two of his tours of England between 1968 and1969. After playing the pub circuit in the late 60's, Steamhammer’s self-titled debut album (also known as 'Reflections') was issued by Columbia Records in 1968, and featured their single 'Junior's Wailing', alongside covers of songs by B. B. King and Eddie Boyd, as well as original songs by White, Quittenton, and Pugh. While the album was not commercially successful, the band’s sound became popular live, especially in West Germany. In the summer of 1969, Quittenton and Rushton left the band, and were replaced by Steve Jolliffe on saxophone and flute, and drummer Mick Bradley, with this second version of the band recording the album 'Mk II', released in 1969. It consisted entirely of original songs, and the musical style had more jazz and progressive rock influences than the previous one. After Jolliffe left the band in 1970, the remaining members released 'Mountains' in 1970, and after more line-up changes, the trio of Pugh, Bradley and Cennamo began recording a new album with guest vocalist Garth Watt-Roy of Fuzzy Duck, releasing 'Speech' in 1972. This consisted of three long, mostly instrumental songs in a heavier progressive-rock vein than the basic blues and jazz/folk influences of their previous albums. Quittenton went on to achieve some fame after leaving the band, playing guitar and co-writing songs, including 'Maggie May' and 'You Wear It Well', on albums by Rod Stewart, and Jolliffe joined Tangerine Dream in 1978, playing on their 'Cyclone' album. There's not a huge amount of rare stuff by the band, but what there is is certainly worth hearing, so alongside the non-album single and b-sides, I've included a live recording of 'Junior's Wailing' (later to be covered to some effect by Status Quo) from a Dutch radio broadcast, and the two live tracks from the 'Mountain' album, which I've always considered to be some of their best work. It's a nice, compact 38 minute introduction to a little-known British band who should have been much bigger then they were. 



Track listing

01 WIndmill (b-side of 'Junior's Wailing' 1969)
02 Autumn Song (single 1969)
03 Blues For Passing People (b-side of 'Autumn Song')
04 Riding On The L & N (live recording from the 'Mountains' album 1970)
05 Hold That Train (live recording from the 'Mountains' album 1970)
06 Junior's Wailing (live Amsterdam 1969)

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The Fall - It's The New Thing (1980)

I've been listening to a lot of The Fall since the sad death of leader Mark E Smith last year. I've followed the band since day one, purchasing their first EP as soon as it came out, and continuing to buy their records for the next 20 odd years. If you'd asked me who my favourite bands were in the early 80's I always used to say The Fall and Cabaret Voltaire, and that still stands today, although there are now quite a few others added to the list. I've wanted to post something as a tribute for a while, but wasn't sure what to choose, as there have been so many compilations over the years which have collected just about everything they've ever released, so I thought that I'd just go back to the very beginning and collect their Step Forward singles, plus a couple of live tracks from the 'Short Circuit' compilation, a rare Peel session recording, and a track from a bootleg single. It all adds up to the perfect introduction to this ground-breaking and innovative band, and shows just how prolific they were, releasing all this stuff in just two years. They carried on issuing albums for the next 38 years, making them one of the longest running bands in history, and just before Smith's death I bought their last release, the double 10" album 'New Facts Emerge', and it was just as good as their output from two decades before. If you're not familiar with the band then you can hear how they seemed to emerge on the scene full-formed, with their unique sound in place from the very beginning, and hopefully it will encourage you to try more of their massive output.



Track listing

01 Bingo-Master's Break-Out! (single 1978)
02 Psycho Mafia (b-side of 'Bingo-Master's Break-Out!')
03 Stepping Out (from the 'Short Circuit' compilation 1978)
04 Repetition (b-side of 'Bingo-Master's Break-Out!')
05 It's The New Thing! (single 1978)
06 Mess Of My (Peel Session 1978)
07 Various Times (b-side of 'It's The New Thing!')
08 Last Orders (from the 'Short Circuit' compilation 1978)
09 Dresden Dolls (from bootleg single 1977)
10 Rowche Rumble (single 1979)
11 In My Area (b-side of 'Rowche Rumble')
12 2nd Dark Age (b-side of 'Fiery Jack')
13 Psykick Dance Hall (No. 2) (b-side of 'Fiery Jack')
14 Fiery Jack (single 1980)


Brian Aspro - Music For BBC 2 Documentaries (1982)

The sleevenotes for this 1982 cassette release imply that it's a take-off of Brian Eno's ambient works, but it's really just an extremely competent collection of electronic music. The notes from the cassette are quite humourous, and are worth reading, so here they are.
The material contained on this album of 'Ambivalent Music' was recorded over the last two years and none has ever been (or is likely to be) used in a BBC2 documentary. All Brian Aspro compositions recorded cheaply and with the minimum of effort and equipment. Thanks to fellow musicians Jacko Pastorial bass (1.4), Schlaus Klutz - massed synthesisers (1.6), and Bob Frupp - treated guitar (2.5). 
It might not be quite as good as the Colin Potter releases from the same period, but then it's a different style of electronic music and so shouldn't really be compared anyway. Either way, I've obviously considered it good enough to hold onto the cassette for over 35 years so it can't be that bad. 




Track listing 

01 Mysterious Sequences Of Something Equally Impressive
02 Overland
03 Movements On A Glacial Plate
04 Without Frets
05 Station 5
06 Plotzlich (Eine Klein Durchfall Musik)
07 Two Sides Of The Same Face
08 MT2
09 Soft Appearances
10 Heathaze
11 Asprotronics
12 F..k Art - Let's Dance

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Manfred Mann Chapter III - Fish & Chips (1970) UPGRADE

Manfred Mann’s Chapter Three lasted all of two years from late 1969 when they made their debut album to 1970 when Volume Two was released, and became their final album. In 1970 Chapter III recorded some music for a proposed third album, but before it could be finished and released, Mann disbanded Chapter III and formed The Earth Band. Following a fire at Manfred’s London recording studio in the mid-1980's, it was thought that the tapes of that third album were lost forever, but a copy was found in the 90's at a record company vault in the U.S.A., and so we can now hear what a third Chapter III album could have sounded like. 'Messing Up The Land', 'Fish' and 'Turn You Away From My Door' were later released on Mann's four-CD box set 'Odds & Sods: Mis-Takes & Out-Takes', and the rest of the tracks have been taken from a bootleg which surfaced following the re-discovery of the tapes, with the exception of 'So Sorry, Please' which seems to have vanished, so I've had to use Mike Hugg's solo take from his 'Stress & Strain' album (see note below where I've now been sent the full MMCIII version to replace the Mike Hugg one). 'Fish & Chips' ('Volume Three') is an odd mix of old-style British invasion era pop songs ('It’s So Easy', 'Turn You Away From My Door'), ballads, proto-ambient tracks ('So Sorry, Please'), and a cover of James Taylor’s 'Something (In The Way She Moves)'. At first listen, you might think that Mann was experimenting to see in which direction the band should take, but it appears this was submitted to the record company for release as a finished album, as that copy of the master was found in the U.S.A. in the 90's. In any case, we should be thankful Chapter III did not succumb to pressure to conform or make formula music, but reinvented themselves as the Earth Band, as this third volume, which has more ballads than necessary, including an even slower, more intimate version of 'Sometimes' (from their first album), would have made it harder for Mann to retain credibility.




Track listing

01 Forgot To Remember
02 Messin' Up The Land
03 Train Crash
04 It's So Easy
05 Fish
06 Something (In The Way She Moves)
07 So Sorry, Please
08 Turn You Away From My Door
09 Sometimes (Version 2)
10 Chips

Thanks to The Little Chicken at bigozine2.com for the history of the album, and especially to Bill for supplying the missing tracks, including the full 8 minute MMCIII version of 'So Sorry, Please', which means that we can now hear the full album as it was recorded in 1970. 

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Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Birds - Say Those Magic Words (1966) UPDATE

A few weeks ago I posted an album by The Artwoods, which they could have released in 1967 if they'd gathered together all their singles, b-sides and out-takes, and issued them as an actual album during their career. The Birds have a very similar career trajectory, recording a number singles during a short period during the 60's, and never releasing an album under their own name in their lifetime. But there's another link between these two bands, and that's the fact that The Artwoods was led by Art Wood, and the Birds' guitarist was his brother Ronnie. So it's only fair that I do the same for the Birds as I did for The Artwoods, and make up a credible album which could have been released by them in 1966. 
Several members of The Birds grew up in the same neighbourhood, and began playing together in 1964 while still in their teens. At first calling themselves The Thunderbirds, they started out playing clubs and a local community centre, but when they were hired to play on the same bill as Chris Farlowe, whose backing band was also called The Thunderbirds, they shortened their name to The Birds. Their hard R&B sound was good enough to earn them a place on a battle-of-the-bands contest held by the TV show 'Ready Steady Go!', and it was their performance on there which caught the eye of Decca record company executives. The ensuing recording contract resulted in their first two singles, 'You Don't Love Me' and 'Leaving Here', and the band seemed destined for stardom, receiving equal billing with The Who at some concerts.
However, in the spring of 1965 the Los Angeles-based band The Byrds was dominating the UK Singles Chart with their folk-rock version of Bob Dylan's 'Mr. Tambourine Man', and when The Byrds arrived in England for their first British tour that summer, The Birds' manager took legal action to prevent them from using the name. The action failed, and shortly afterwards, amid a flurry of national press and television coverage, the group parted ways with their manager. After releasing their third Decca single in late 1965, the band moved to Reaction Records, and director Robert Stigwood suggested they change their name to The Birds Birds to distinguish themselves from the American band, which they did for the 'Say Those Magic Words' single. In 1966 the band had a cameo appearance in the horror film 'The Deadly Bees', performing an otherwise unreleased song 'That's All I Need', but by 1967 they'd disbanded, with Kim Gardner and Ronnie Wood first joining The Creation, before each moving on to other bands. This album contains all the songs that they recorded during their short career, plus the 2011 remake of 'That's All I Need You For' from Ali MacKenzie, and I've included the version from 'The Deadly Bees' film as a bonus track, with the volume of the dialogue reduced as much as possible so that's it's less obtrusive. It's not a bad collection of originals and covers, and would have made a perfectly acceptable album if it had come out in 1966 or 1967. 



Track listing

01 You're On My Mind
02 You Don't Love Me (You Don't Care)
03 No Good Without You Baby
04 Leaving Here
05 Good Times
06 How Can It Be
07 Daddy Daddy
08 Say Those Magic Words
09 Next In Line
10 Run Run Run
11 La Poupee Qui Fait Non
12 That's All I Need You For
13 Granny Rides Again

Thanks to the two commenters who told me that Ali MacKenzie recorded a version of 'That's All I Need You For' for a single in 2011, backed by members of the Small Faces tribute act that he's a member of. It's surprisingly close to the original 1966 take by The Birds, so I've added it to the album and it doesn't sound the slightest bit out of place. I've left the Birds' version as a bonus track so that can compare them if you want to.   

Bonus track
14 That's All I Need (from 'The Deadly Bees')

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Friday, 5 July 2019

Tangerine Dream - Second Day (1973)

I've now worked my way through the rest of the 'Phaedra' out-takes, and they are even better than my recent post, and certainly deserve to be housed on their own album. I've kept '2nd Day' as the lead track, and mixed '2nd Side piece 1' and '2nd Side piece 2' together for the b-side, and expanded the titles to make a superb 42 minute album. The cover is a painting entitled 'Morning, The Second Day' by Maurice Sapiro, which not only ties in perfectly with the title of the album, but I think also makes a great sleeve. There aren't enough out-takes for any further posts, but to get two complete albums from the leftovers of those recordings sessions is amazing, and I can only recommend this box set again to anyone with even the slightest interest in Tangerine Dream.



Track listing

01 Second Day
02 Second Side

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Hearts And Flowers - California Sunshine (1969)

Hearts and Flowers were one of the most eclectic 1960's Californian folk-rock groups, as well as being one of the very first to point the way toward country-rock. Over the course of their two Capitol albums, they blended folk, country, and rock with inventive sprinkles of pop and psychedelia on both original material and covers of songs by Donovan, Arlo Guthrie, Hoyt Axton, Gerry Goffin-Carole King, Kaleidoscope, Tim Hardin, and others. As was the way with many such innovative bands of the time, they were lost in the shuffle in an era when rock was expanding furiously in all directions. If they're mentioned at all by historians, it's usually because one of them went on to join a superstar group in the 1970's that played a far slicker variation of the kind of folk-rock pioneered by bands like Hearts and Flowers the previous decade. Though the band came very close to signing with Elektra, ultimately they went with Capitol, who released their debut album 'Now Is The Time For Hearts And Flowers', in 1967. It stood out for its low-key, countrified, acoustic-oriented folk-rock, in a period when the trend was to get louder and more psychedelic. 
For the band's second and final album 'Of Horses, Kids And Forgotten Women', there were a few changes, the most significant of which was the replacement of Rick Cunha with Bernie Leadon, and there was considerably more original material on the second album than there had been on the first. Neither of the Hearts and Flowers album made much impact, and the group disbanded shortly afterward, with Leadon going on to join Dillard & Clark, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and ultimately becoming a founding member of the Eagles. However, before the band broke up they had recorded an entire album's worth of music from several different sessions throughout their stint at Capitol, and most of them are more explicitly country-oriented than the songs that ended up on the official albums. One of the 13 tracks, 'Extra Extra', is simply a different edit of the track that closed 'Of Horses, Kids and Forgotten Women', using an excerpt of 'Ode To A Tin Angel' in the middle section rather than the slice of 'Rock and Roll Gypsies' that ended their second album, but the other twelve songs were all new recordings. With no band to promote a third album, the tracks were quietly shelved by the record company, but they did eventually turn up on the CD release of 'The Complete Hearts And Flowers Collection', and so I've extracted them from that set to give them their own release. If you know the band then you'll love these songs, and if you are not familiar with them then prepare to be impressed by one of the fore-runners of country-rock music.



Track listing

01 Rosana
02 Extra Extra
03 Walls
04 She Likes Her Loving Like I Like Mine
05 Six White Horses
06 Flower Lady
07 When I'm With You
08 Gypsy Blue
09 Everybody's Talkin'
10 California Sunshine Girl
11 Jones vs. Jones
12 Brandy
13 Other Side Of This Life

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Colin Potter - Two Nights (1982)

For the second of my Colin Potter posts I've chosen 'Two Nights', which is another of my all-time favourite electronic albums. In June 1982 Potter recorded two extended pieces of music based on the same theme. The music was played live in the studio using synthesisers, sequencer, drum machine, guitars and various effects, and was the last music that he recorded at Sutton-On-The-Forest. It's another great example of why Colin Potter is one of the UK's best, but least-known electronic musicians of the 80's.



Track listing

01 09 June 1982
02 08 June 1982

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Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Pink Floyd - ...It's All Dark (1972)

I thought that I'd heard just about every version of the classic 'Dark Side Of The Moon' that I'd ever want o hear - the original vinyl, the CD, the live Wembley concert from 1974, remastered, remixed, and so on - but this album caught my eye when I stumbled on it last week. I know that Floyd spent a considerable time in the studio, and also toured working versions of the songs throughout 1972, and this disc collects the best of them to imagine what the album could have sounded like in it's earliest incarnation. These are the notes from the CD:
'Dark Side Of The Moon', like most of Pink Floyd's 70's works, underwent a lot of transformations from its initial inception as a concept album early in 1972. After initially laying down demos for their future masterwork the band set out for their first British tour of 1972 in January and February. Fans were treated to the unveiling of the work at the opening night of the tour at Brighton Dome on January 20, heralding the debut performance of the album.
'Dark Side...' in those days was much more of a bluesy concept than the lush, layered career defining work that it became, and as the tour progressed solos changed and the piece began to be knocked into shape. The press were invited down to the first of four consecutive nights at the Rainbow on February 17 and a world buzz began that the Floyd were working on an epic.
The band continued to tour in the Spring, playing dates in Japan, Australia, America, and Europe, before going back into the studio in the summer to record the bulk of the album, with the final recording being completed in January 1973. What's been assembled on this disc is a hybrid of the album in its embryonic state, from the earliest demos to the legendary and until now never circulated 'One Side Of The Moon' tape which has only ever been heard by a handful of Floyd devotees. Legend has it that when the album was remastered in the 90's the engineers broke for lunch leaving the tape on. One employees realised that he had only 30 minutes before they returned, and ran off a copy of side 2 with all the faders pushed to the max, to leave an unedited version complete with instrumental passages, second guitars and sax solos that had been removed from the final version.
It's startlingly different in places, and one can only surmise what the first side would have sounded like before being edited. We have demos for most of the songs on side one with the exception of 'Speak To Me/Breathe' and 'The Great Gig In The Sky', and so to fill in the gaps we used a version of 'Speak To Me/Breathe' from one of the Rainbow concerts in February '72, and from the same gig we've replaced 'The Great Gig In The Sky' with its predecessor 'The Mortality Sequence'. 
I've done a bit of editing, fading and crossfading to make it a smoother listen, as in their original state the tracks didn't blend into each other as in the final mix of the album, and even if, like me, you've heard this album a thousand times, then you still need to hear this early version at least once.



Track listing
  
01 Speak To Me (Mason) London, Rainbow Theatre 20 Feb 1972
02 Breathe (Waters/Gilmour/Wright) London, Rainbow Theatre 20 Feb 1972
03 On The Run (Gilmour/Waters) Studio Outtake Nov 1972
04 Time (Waters/Wright/Gilmour/Mason)/
     Breathe (Reprise) (Waters/Gilmour/Wright) Demo Jun 1972
05 The Mortality Sequence (Waters/Gilmour/Wright) London, Rainbow Theatre 20 Feb 1972
06 Money (Waters) Alternate Mix 1972
07 Us And Them (Waters/Wright) Alternate Mix 1972
08 Any Colour You Like (Gilmour/Mason/Wright) Alternate Mix 1972
09 Brain Damage (Waters) Alternate Mix 1972
10 Eclipse (Waters) Alterate Mix 1972

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Friday, 28 June 2019

Tangerine Dream - Phaedra & Hippolytus (1973)

The big news for fans of Tangerine Dream is the release of the 18 disc box set of all of their Virgin albums issued between 1973 and 1979. Not only does it include remastered and remixed versions of classic albums like 'Phaedra'. 'Rubycon', and 'Ricochet' ,but it also treats us to the full 70-minute recording of the 1974 lost album 'Oedipus Tyrannus', excerpts of which I posted here back in January. As if that wasn't enough we also get three live albums, from The Rainbow and Victoria Palace in 1974, and The Royal Albert Hall from 1975, all recorded in superb sound quality, and featuring the band at the absolute peak of their powers. Lastly, and most unbelievably of all, there are over one and a half hours of out-takes from the 'Phaedra' sessions at The Manor Studios in 1973. It's almost too much to take in, but I gravitated straight to the 'Phaedra' out-takes, and bearing in mind how TD improvise a lot of their music, these aren't just alternate versions of the finished tracks, but totally different works in progress for the eventual album. I thought they were just too good to leave tucked away as bonus tracks so I decided to take a few of them and make a companion album, and as 'Phaedra' was named after the Greco-Roman tragedy, I've kept that theme and titled this one after the main participants, renaming two tracks to make it a concept album about them. For the actual music I've kept the 20-minute 'Phaedra Out-Take version 2A', used a renamed 'Organ Piece' as a bridge, and then joined 'Phaedra Out-Take 2B' to 'Phaedra Out-Take 1' for the final piece, making a 42-minute alternative album. I'm still working my way through all the live stuff, and will then check out the rest of the out-takes, but I've already ear-marked a couple of them for another alternate album, probably called 'Second Day'. I tried to go for a suitably cosmic feel for the cover, which I think has come out pretty well, and if you are a fan of the band then I would highly recommend this box set, as it's worth it just for all the previously unreleased material on there, let alone the great Steven Wilson remixes of the albums themselves.



Track listing

01 Phaedra
02 Theseus
03 Hippolytus

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