Friday, 22 March 2019

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Stepping Sideways (1971)

From the beginnings of the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers, to Manfred Mann the pop group, and later with the jazz-rock of Manfred Mann Chapter III, keyboardist Manfred Mann has built up a following with a repertoire of blues, pop,  experimental jazz rock, and eventually progressive rock with his Earth Band. Manfred Mann Chapter III started in 1969, but the group only lasted two years and broke up in 1971, when Mann wanted to move in a more rock-orientated direction and formed Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. The band started recording in 1971, and released their first two singles, covers of Randy Newman's 'Living Without You' and Dylan's 'Please Mrs. Henry', as by Manfred Mann, but all subsequent releases were credited to the Earth Band. They'd more or less finished recording the album when the group’s music started to change while touring, and Mann decided to shelve this version of the album and start again. What changed was the style of music, which became more electric and less acoustic, and Mann decided that this album was not representative of what the new band was playing live. Test pressings of the album had already been pressed, and people who heard it later were of the opinion that many of the 'Stepping Sideways' tracks are as good as much of what ended up on the Earth Band’s official debut. I've put this album together using the track listing from the test pressings, and added in the 'Please Mrs. Henry' single. The tracks which did eventually end up on the released debut album are the same versions as on that release.



Track listing

01 Ned Kelly
02 Ashes To The Wind
03 Part Time Man
04 Living Without You
05 Jump Sturdy
06 California Coastline
07 Ain't No Crime
08 Please Mrs. Henry
09 Holly Holy
10 Tribute

Enjoy / Enjoy

10cc - Hot Sun Rock (1978)

10cc achieved their greatest commercial success in the 1970s, although they'd been around for a number of years before that, plying their trade as jobbing songsmiths and session musicians. The band initially consisted of four musicians – Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme – who had written and recorded together in various partnerships for about five years before assuming the name 10cc in 1972. The band featured two songwriting teams, one 'commercial' and one 'artistic'. Stewart and Gouldman were predominantly pop songwriters, who created most of the band's accessible songs. By way of contrast, Godley and Creme were the predominantly experimental half of 10cc, featuring an 'art school' sensibility and cinematically-inspired writing. Every member of the group was a multi-instrumentalist, singer, writer and producer, and the writing teams frequently switched partners, so that Godley/Gouldman or Creme/Stewart compositions were not uncommon. With such a wealth of songwriting talent on board, it's no wonder that there were a surfeit of songs recorded at their own Strawberry Studios, and so most of their early singles had a non-album track on the flip. This collection is made up of b-sides from their singles between 1972 and 1978. 



Track listing

01 4% Of Something (b-side of 'Johnny, Don't Do It!' 1972)
02 Hot Sun Rock (b-side of 'Donna' 1972)
03 Speed Kills (b-side of 'Headline Hustler' 1973)
04 Bee In My Bonnet (b-side of 'The Dean And I' 1973)
05 Waterfall (b-side of 'Rubber Bullets' 1973)
06 Gizmo My Way (b-side of 'The Wall Street Shuffle' 1974)
07 18 Carat Man Of Means (b-side of 'The Worst Band In The World' 1974)
08 Good News (b-side of 'I'm Not In Love' 1975)
09 Get It While You Can (b-side of 'Art For Art's Sake' 1975)
10 Channel Swimmer (b-side of 'Life Is A Minestrone' 1975)
11 Hot To Trot (b-side of 'The Things We Do For Love' 1976)
12 Don't Squeeze Me Like Toothpaste (b-side of 'Good Morning Judge' 1977)
13 I'm So Laid Back I'm Laid Out (b-side of 'People In Love' 1977)
14 Nothing Can Move Me (b-side of 'Dreadlock Holiday' 1978)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Steely Dan - The Lost Gaucho (1980)

This bootleg of out-takes from the 'Gaucho' sessions is fairly freely available online, but I was listening to it again recently, and though that it was just so good that I had to post it here for Steely Dan fans who haven't yet heard these songs. When the band went into the studio to record tracks for 1980's 'Gaucho' they laid down enough songs to almost make a double album, but it was trimmed down to a single record, and the left-over songs were filed away. They eventually leaked online, and a 2 CD set soon appeared, with a mixture of completed new and unheard songs, alongside demos of other tracks, some of which eventually made the album. The completed songs are superb sound quality, and included an early version of 'Third World Man' with different lyrics called 'Were You Blind That Day', and a lovely instrumental take of the title track. The demos weren't quite as good sound-wise, so I've taken all of the new songs and added just two of the demos, as 'I Can't Write Home About You' was another new song, unavailable elsewhere, and 'The Second Arrangement II' is a full band version of one of the earlier songs. This makes a nice 47 minute companion album to the original 'Gaucho', and if there are any Dan fans out there who haven't heard this yet then you're in for a treat.    



Track listing

01 Kind Spirit
02 Were You Blind That Day
03 If You Got The Bear
04 The Second Arrangement
05 Talkin' About My Home
06 I Can't Write Home About You
07 Kulee Baba
08 Time Out Of Mind
09 Gaucho
10 The Second Arrangement II


Donna Summer - Winter In MacArthur Park (1979)

After I'd finished my first mix of Donna Summer's extended 12" singles I had over half a dozen songs left, three of which topped the 17 minute mark. I wanted to see if I could put together another mix, and particularly wanted to include her take on 'MacArthur Park', and one of my other faves in 'Winter Melody', so I picked three other shorter tracks to complement them, and so here's my second mix of Donna Summer's extended releases, which I've titled 'Winter In MacArthur Park'.



Track listing

01 Dim All The Lights / Deep Down Inside / Last Dance / Winter Melody / MacArthur Park

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Frank Zappa - Son Of Hot Rats (1970)

Following the release of 'Uncle Meat' in 1969, Frank Zappa disbanded the Mothers Of Invention and put together a new band, retaining only Ian Underwood from the Mothers, and adding Max Bennett and Shuggie Otis on bass, John Guerin, Paul Humphrey and Ron Selico on drums, Don "Sugarcane" Harris and Jean-Luc Ponty on violin, and an uncredited Lowell George on rhythm guitar. Using these musicians 'Hot Rats' was recorded between July 18 and August 30 1969 at TTG Studios in Hollywood. Because they were using new 16-track technology, only a few musicians were required to create an especially rich instrumental texture which gives the sound of a large group. It was this use of advanced overdubbing that was the main motivation for Zappa, who hated playing in a studio, and so the band were able to lay down basic tracks and Zappa would then tinker with them, speeding up and slowing down the tapes to create unusual effects. There was therefore more music taped than was needed for a single album, but never one to waste anything, Zappa used a lot of it on his later albums. The opening to 'Toads of the Short Forest' from 'Weasels Ripped My Flesh', 'Twenty Small Cigars' from 'Chunga's Revenge', 'Excentrifugal Forz' (with overdubs done in 1973) from 'Apostrophe (')', and 'Lemme Take You To The Beach' from 'Studio Tan' were all taped at these sessions. Other songs, such as 'L'il Clanton Shuffle' and 'Bognor Regis' were released posthumously, the former on 'The Lost Episodes', and 'Bognor Regis' only on bootleg (which is ridiculous, as it's brilliant). The band stayed together for only a year, but in March 1970 they added Aynsley Dunbar on drums and laid down two more tracks, 'Sharleena' and 'Chunga Basement', and so this potential follow-up to the classic 'Hot Rats' includes everything that this incarnation of the band recorded in the studio. Normally I can take or leave Zappa, but 'Hot Rats' is one of my favourite ever albums, and as this collection is in a similar vein (with just a little more vocal), I think it hangs together really well. I've had to make a few edits, extracting the beginning of 'Toads...' and seguing it into 'Excentrifugal Forz', giving a better fade to 'Twenty Small Cigars', and cutting 'Sharleena' before it starts to get weird, but the rest is as it was taped nearly 50 years ago. The cover is from the original photo-shoot by Andee Eye (nee Nathanson), who posted it on Facebook recently 'for a giggle'.



Track listing

01 Lemma Take You To The Beach
02 Bognor Regis
03 Twenty Small Cigars
04 Chunga Basement
05 Introducing The Toads Of The Short Forest>
06 Excentrifugal Forz
07 L'il Clanton Shuffle
08 Sharleena

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 15 March 2019

Fanny - No Deposit, No Return (1973)

I'm glad that my last post from Fanny had some positive comments, as they are one of the great unrecognised bands of the 70's, and so for the fans who still have fond memories of them, here's an album of previously unheard songs gathered from the 'First Time In A Long Time' box set. A little history in needed to put some of the songs into context, so it all started in high school, where the Millington sisters formed an all-female band called the Svelts with June on guitar, Jean on bass, Addie Lee on guitar, and Brie Brandt on drums. Brandt left to get married and was later replaced by Alice de Buhr. When the Svelts disbanded, de Buhr and Lee formed another all-female group called Wild Honey, and the Millingtons later joined this Motown covers band, and eventually moved to Los Angeles. Frustrated by a lack of success or respect in the male-dominated rock scene, Wild Honey decided to disband after one final open-mic appearance at the Troubadour Club in Los Angeles in 1969. They were spotted at this gig by the secretary of producer Richard Perry, who had been searching for an all-female rock band to mentor. Perry convinced Warner Bros. to sign Wild Honey to Reprise Records, with the group winning this contract without the label even hearing them play, on the grounds of being a novelty act. They did eventually prove their musical talent by recording an audition tape, and three of those tracks are here, along with a song from their informal recordings dubbed 'The Kitchen Tapes', and a number of out-takes from the sessions for their last three studio albums.   



Track listing

01 I Find Myself (Wild Honey audition tape 1969)
02 Queen Aretha (Wild Honey audition tape 1969)
03 Flame Tree (Wild Honey audition tape 1969)
04 Candlelighter Man (from the 'Kitchen Tapes')
05 Tomorrow (previously unreleased 1971)
06 Young And Dumb (previously unreleased 1972)
07 Lonesome Pine (previously unreleased 1973)
08 Beside Myself (previously unreleased 1973)
09 I'll Never Be The Same (previously unreleased 1973)
10 Old Milwaukee (previously unreleased 1973)
11 Back In My Arms Again (previously unreleased 1973)
12 'Till Then (previously unreleased 1973)
13 No Deposit, No Return (previously unreleased 1973)

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The Cure - All Kinds Of Stuff (2008)

A very apt title for the final post in my Cure rarities series, as it includes a one-off single, some rare b-sides, a few album out-takes, a film soundtrack offering, and their contribution to a charity album. All kinds of stuff, in other words. 



Track listing

01 More Than This (from 'The X-Files: The Album' 1998)
02 Possession (previously unreleased song from the 'Bloodflowers' sessions 2000)
03 Coming Up (extra track on the Japanese/Australian versions of 'Bloodflowers' 2000)
04 Just Say Yes (single 2002)
05 Why Can't I Be Me (b-side of 'alt.end' and 'Taking Off' singles 2004)
06 Your God Is Fear (b-side of 'alt.end' and 'Taking Off' singles 2004)
07 Love (from the Amnesty International album 'Instant Karma' 2007)
08 Down Under (b-side of 'Sleep When I'm Dead' 2008)
09 All Kinds Of Stuff (b-side of 'Freakshow' 2008)
10 NY Trip (b-side of 'The Only One' 2008)
11 Without You (b-side of 'The Perfect Boy' 2008)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Manfred Mann Chapter III - Fish & Chips (1970)

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. '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 to Bill for supplying the missing tracks.

Enjoy / Enjoy

Bauhaus - Sevens (1983)

The second of my Bauhaus posts consists of their stand-alone 7" singles and b-sides from 1979 to 1983, plus a few choice out-takes.They apparently recorded quite a few tracks while in the studio to lay down the classic 'Bela Lugosi's Dead', and the ones which weren't released at the time have finally surfaced some forty years later, so I've included a couple of them here. I've omitted the original recording of 'Boys' as a version of that was on the previous post, and if I'm honest 'Some Faces' isn't really that great, but it's worth at least one hearing, as is the distinctly odd 'Dave And Danny's Waspie Dub #2' which closes the album.   



Track listing

01 Dark Entries (Axis single 1980)
02 Untitled (b-side of 'Dark Entries')
03 Some Faces (from the 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' sessions 1979)
04 Bite My Hip (from the 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' sessions 1979)
05 Terror Couple Kill Colonel (single 1980)
06 Scopes (b-side of 'Terror Couple Kill Colonel')
07 Terror Couple Kill Colonel 2 (b-side of Terror Couple Kill Colonel')
08 Monkey (Poison Pen) (previously unreleased 1981)
09 Satori (b-side of 'Kick In The Eye' 1981)
10 1-2-3-4 (b-side of 'The Passion Of Lovers' 1981)
11 Lagartija Nick (single 1983)
12 Paranoia, Paranoia (b-side of 'Lagartija Nick')
13 The Sanity Assassin (single 1983)
14 Spirit In The Sky (b-side of 'The Sanity Assassin')
15 Dave And Danny's Waspie Dub #2 (previously unreleased 1981)


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

The Action - In My Dream (1968)

The Action are generally regarded as one of those UK 60's bands that should have been huge, but just never had the breaks, and so have become a footnote in the history of British r'n'b. The band was formed as The Boys in August 1963, with original members Reg King (lead vocals), Alan 'Bam' King (rhythm guitar, vocals), Mike 'Ace' Evans (bass guitar, vocals) and Roger Powell (drums). They had a brief spell as a bar band in Germany, and then as a backing band for Sandra Barry, playing on her single 'Really Gonna Shake' in 1964. After the stint with Barry, Pete Watson was recruited as lead guitarist, and in 1964 they changed their name to The Action. Shortly after their name change, they signed to Parlophone with producer George Martin and released five singles between 1965 and 1967, none of which achieved success in the UK Singles Chart. After disastrous experiences with the Rikki Farr management, Peter Watson left the band in 1966, and they continued as a quartet, but were dropped from Parlophone in 1967. Following this setback, Reg King left the band, and Alan King took over as lead vocalist. They carried on recording demos during 1967 and 1968, but these were consigned to the vaults and lay unheard until the were exhumed for the 'Brain' album in 1995, and then again for 'Rolled Gold' two years later. This was when people started to realise what a great, neglected band they were, as the songs were all superb late 60's psychedelia, and I'm sure that an album with these on would have been a huge commercial success if anyone had released it at the time. The band are being re-evaluated again at the moment with the release of the 'Shadows And Reflections' 4CD box set of their complete recordings, but these are the songs that their reputation has been built on, and so this is the album that they could have released in 1968 if Parlophone had had just a little more faith in them. 



Track listing

01 Love Is All
02 In My Dream
03 Really Doesn't Matter
04 Little Boy
05 Things You Cannot See
06 Strange Roads
07 Brain
08 Something To Say
09 Follow Me
10 Icarus
11 I'm A Stranger
12 Climbing Up The Wall
13 Look At The View
14 Come Around

Enjoy / Enjoy