Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Vivian Stanshall - Return Of The Ginger Geezer (1994)

After leaving the Bonzos in 1970, Vivian Stanshall enjoyed a wide-ranging and varied career. He released a few solo singles in the early 70's (see his last post), and his first big break came in 1971 when he was asked to fill in on the John Peel radio show while the DJ took a month off in the August. He recorded four two-hour shows which he called 'Radio Flashes', comprising sketches and music, and they've gained a reputation over the years from fans as being some of his best work, even though the BBC in their wisdom have apparently wiped the first show from their archive. I've included a couple of the sketches as interludes, and you can hear the remaining three shows in full here
Following the success of his short-lived radio career, other artists started asking him to guest on their recordings, the first and most famous of which was Mike Oldfield. They collaborated on Oldfield's 'Sailor's Hornpipe' single, with Stanshall writing and narrating some nonsense over Oldfield's interpretation of the traditional tune, and this led to Viv contributing his reknowned master of ceremonies piece for part three of Oldfield's 'Tubular Bells', introducing the instruments as they made their appearance. It wouldn't have been the same had it been anybody else but him. In 1974 Robert Calvert asked him to write and narrate some sketches to slot between the songs on his 'Captain Lockheed And The Starfighters' album, and I've included three of the best of them here. Also in 1974 he co-wrote 'Dream Gerrard' with Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi for Traffic's last studio album 'When The Eagle Flies', and it turned out to be one of the highlights on what was already one of their best albums. Winwood was obviously impressed with what Stanshall brought to the table, and they collaborated further on songs from Winwood's solo albums 'Steve Winwood', 'Arc Of A Diver', and 'Back In The High Life', including a song they co-composed for the '...High Life' album which never made the final cut, even though it was good enough to have been included. 
He was also asked to contribute his fruity vocals to songs by The Damned and Marden Hill, and in between that he still found time to play around in the studio with mates like Keith Moon, recording a humourous take of 'We'll Meet Again', which later appeared on a bootleg album in 1978. All of this is in addition to recording and releasing a number of fine solo albums, including the classic 'Sir Henry At Rawlinson End', which also spawned a 1980 film starring Trevor Howard, and a sequel album in 1984 with 'Sir Henry At N'didi's Kraal'. As I said in the last post, Vivian Stanshall really was one of a kind, and the world is a poorer place without him, so enjoy listening to this collection of his many talents, as surrealist comedian, radio broadcaster, songwriter, singer, and owner of the poshest voice in rock history.       

Track listing

01 Bruce Reason & The Reason Mobile (Radio Flashes 1971)
02 Sailor's Hornpipe (Mike Oldfield - co-write/narration 1973)
03 Aircraft Salesman (A Door In The Foot) (Robert Calvert - writer/narration 1974)
04 Ground Crew (Last Minute Reassembly Before Take Off) (Robert Calvert - writer/narration 1974)
05 Ground Control To Pilot (Robert Calvert - writer/narration 1974)
06 Dream Gerrard (Traffic - co-write with Steve Winwood & Jim Capladi 1974)
07 Announcement (Radio Flashes 1971)
08 Holiday Home (from 'The Roughler Presents The Warwick Sessions (Volume 1)' 1987)
09 Vacant Chair (co-write with Steve Winwood 1977)
10 Arc Of A Diver (co-write with Steve Winwood 1980)
11 Cohen's Colon Cream (Radio Flashes 1971)
12 My Love's Leaving (co-write with Steve Winwood 1986)
13 If That Gun's For Real (previously unreleased co-write with Steve Winwood 1986)
14 Thompson's Tiger Tongue Toiletry Paper (Radio Flashes 1971)
15 Lovely Money (The Damned - narration 1982)
16 Bombed On Heavy (Marden Hill- narration 1994)
17 We'll Meet Again (from the 'Harold Hare...And Other Droppings' bootleg with Keith Moon 1978)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 26 July 2019

Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Wonder Toys (1981)

I've been a fan of Bill Nelson for many, many years, with his 1971 'Northern Dream' album being one of the very first 'rare records' that I purchased from a dealer when I started to seriously collect vinyl. I followed him through Be-Bop Deluxe, and loved everything they did, from the out and out guitar rock of their first few albums, right through to the more electronic stuff from their later period, but for me his best ever band was Red Noise. They burst onto the scene in 1979 with the 'Revolt Into Style' single, followed quickly by the eponymous debut album, and bearing in mind that he'd already been a folkie and a hard rocker, this band slotted into the burgeoning new wave/indie scene like it was made for them. The album is still one of my all-time favourites, and although they only lasted for twelve months, they've left behind one of the great British new wave albums. It never occurred to me before that there might be unheard songs tucked away as I assumed that as they were only together for such a short time then everything they recorded was on the album, but it turns out I was wrong, and there are a few hidden tracks on the b-sides of their singles, as well as live recordings and demos of songs that never made it into the studio. 
Nelson has revealed that he had recorded a second Red Noise album immediately after 'Sound On Sound', but his record company wasn't impressed and so shelved it, but eventually Nelson's manager purchased some of the unreleased songs back from EMI so that Nelson could release them as a solo artist on his own label, Cocteau Records. One of these was 'Do You Dream in Colour', which received generous radio airplay, and both this and it's b-side featured all vocals and instruments performed by Nelson himself, apart from sax from his brother Ian. When Phonogram heard these songs they secured the remaining tracks for Cocteau to release a full album, entitled 'Quit Dreaming And Get on the Beam'.... but that's a whole other story, as you'll hear later. There was actually one track on 'Quit Dreaming...' which was credited to Red Noise, with 'Disposable' featuring the Bill Nelson/Rick Ford/Andy Clark/Steve Peer line-up, and so that's here as well. If you don't know the band, and this album appeals to you, then do get hold of 'Sound On Sound', as it's a superb record.

Track listing 

01 Revolt Into Style (single version 1979)
02 Out Of Touch (live b-side of 'Revolt Into Style')
03 Furniture Music (single version 1979)
04 Wonder Toys That Last Forever (b-side of 'Furniture Music')
05 Acquitted By Mirrors (b-side of 'Furniture Music')
06 Stay Young (live b-side of 'Revolt Into Style)
07 Substitute Flesh (1978 demo)
08 That Way For Years (1978 demo - previously unreleased) (slight drop-out patched)
09 Disposable (from 'Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam' - recorded 1979)
10 Waiting For The Night (1978 demo - previously unreleased)
11 Possession (live BBC recording of Be-Bop Deluxe song 1979)

The Lazily Spun - A Posting Dream To Gulliver Smith (1997)

The Lazily Spun were named after the results of classic experiments performed in the 1950's, whereby flies were injected with various drugs (mescaline, cannabis preparation, LSD, and caffeine) and then fed to spiders. The subsequent webs produced by the spiders were then analysed, and the LSD and mescaline webs looked as if they were "lazily spun". The band got together in the mid-90's, with a sound based on their love of far out 60s psychedelia, contemporary psych-miscreants, mycology, and studio trickery. Gigs in Manchester caught the ear of local music legends John Squire (Stone Roses) and Clint Boon (Inspiral Carpets) who offered guidance, and a demo tape was recorded in 1996, capturing the attention of the respected Ptolemaic Terrascope magazine. A feature article and tracks for consecutive Terrascope 7" releases - 'Old Guy' and 'A Puce Moment' (the latter a cover of the legendary Hermit by Kenneth Anger soundcraft wizard Jonathon Halper) led to the band deciding to sell copies of the demo, and that's when I got my copy. Despite being considered a 'demo' (with a view to re-recording with better equipment at a later date) the album was well received on the underground scene and 'The Whole' was included on the Camera Obscura compilation 'Serotonin Ronin II'. 
Despite the critical success of the tape, the band felt they were making slow progress, and this, combined with internal tensions and challenging life events, persuaded them to call it a day. They reformed a few years later and recorded their debut album proper in 2000, but I've always had a soft spot for these rough-round-the-edges recordings and so have kept this tape for over 20 years. The original cassette didn't include 'A Puce Moment' as the final track, as I added that myself from the Ptolemaic Terrascope 7" single, and then amended the track listing, but since I gave the tape to another website many years ago for them to post, and they published my revised track listing, it's now listed on most sites like Discogs and RateYourMusic as being on the original cassette, so that's all my fault. (You can probably tell that the writing is not by the same hand, although I tried to match the other script as closely as I could). Anyway, the music is what matters, so here's an album that really should have been picked up by an enterprising record company in 1997 and given a proper release. 

Track listing

01 Old Guy
02 Dissected
03 Marjorie's Hoedown
04 From Nought To Zero
05 The Rock
06 SHT
07 Big Laughing Gym
08 Prince Valium
09 Hypnopompic Zygosis
10 A Posting Dream To Gulliver Smith
11 The Whole
12 Forest Of Spores
13 A Puce Moment

Enjoy / Enjoy

Eno - My Squelchy Life (1991)

'My Squelchy Life' was recorded by Brian Eno in 1991, sent out to reviewers (with some reviews hitting the stands), then withdrawn suddenly after he decided it was a minor effort that needed extra work. A year later 'Nerve Net' was released, and while it is undoubtedly a more polished, adventurous, and mature album, 'My Squelchy Life' is a splendid pop album, and a fine follow-up to his collaboration with John Cale, 'Wrong Way Up'. Bootlegs abound of this album (albeit with an annoying glitch on one of the tracks), and most of the songs found their way onto the Eno Vocal Box Set, including the dreamy 'Under' and 'Over', and the upbeat 'Stiff', while 'I Fall Up' wound up on the b-side of 'Ali Click' a year later. That still leaves a number a fine tracks that are not that easy to get hold of, until the whole album was added to the deluxe re-issue of 'Nerve Net' in 2014. That should have satisfied anyone who still hadn't heard this elusive album, but as I found when trying to upgrade my bootleg copy, it's nigh on impossible to find a decent copy of the new 'Nerve Net' online, so to save you a frustrating search on the net, here it is in all its glory. As well as the tracks which have already been used elsewhere, 'The Harness' is a  slow, pulsing number similar to 'The Roil, The Choke' from 'Nerve Net', all grandiose and golden, and 'Tutti Forgetti' is a rhythmic workout similar to his work with David Byrne. 'Everybody's Mother' features a distorted vocal over an instrumental that would turn up on 'Shutov Assembly', and 'Little Apricot' is a solo piano composition, similar to 'Nerve Net's 'Web'. I think it's a great album, and can't see what he was thinking when he pulled it, but you can now hear for yourself here and make up your own mind.

Track listing

01 I Fall Up
02 The Harness
03 My Squelchy Life
04 Tutti Forgetti
05 Stiff
06 Some Words
07 Juju Space Jazz
08 Under
09 Everybody's Mother
10 Little Apricot
11 Over

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Vivian Stanshall - Are You Having Any Fun? (1990)

As promised on Friday, here's the first of two posts from the legendary Vivian Stanshall. Born Victor Anthony Stanshall in 1943, he is, of course, best know for his work with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. They were actually named following a word game that Stanshall played with co-founder Slater, in which they cut up sentences and juxtaposed fragments to form new ones and 'Bonzo Dog/Dada' was one result which they liked. The band initially performed under this name, but grew tired of explaining what Dada meant and so it became the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, 'doo-dah' being a quaint expression that both Slater's mother and Vivian himself used to describe everyday objects. After acquiring a manager, they went full-time and were booked on the working men's club circuit, mainly in the north of England, and in 1967 they appeared in The Beatles' television film 'Magical Mystery Tour', performing Stanshall's 'Death Cab for Cutie' during the strip club scene. This led to a spot as the house band on 'Do Not Adjust Your Set', a weekly children's television revue series that also featured pre-Monty Python appearances from Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones. 
In 1968 the band scored a surprise top-ten hit with 'I'm The Urban Spaceman', co-produced by Paul McCartney and Gus Dudgeon under the alias 'Apollo C. Vermouth'. After a couple more successful albums they decided to split whilst they were still friends, and in March 1970, they played their last show at Loughborough University. Following the split Stanshall formed a number of short-lived groups during 1970 alone, including biG GRunt (including former Bonzos Roger Ruskin Spear and Dennis Cowan, and with Anthony 'Bubs' White on guitar), The Sean Head Showband (again featuring Cowan and White), Gargantuan Chums, and the slightly longer-lived Bonzo Dog Freaks with Innes and the ever-faithful Cowan and White. Early that year, biG GRunt recorded a well-received John Peel session for BBC Radio 1, but despite this promising start they dissolved during their first UK tour when Stanshall became incapacitated by the onset of an anxiety disorder which caused a nervous breakdown that would continue to plague him for the rest of his life. He soon recovered sufficiently to record and release his first solo single 'Labio-Dental Fricative/Paper Round', credited to Vivian Stanshall and The Sean Head Showband (an oblique reference to Stanshall having shaved off all of his hair during his breakdown), and featuring Eric Clapton on guitar. 
Later in the year, his single version of Terry Stafford's song 'Suspicion' was released, credited to Vivian Stanshall and Gargantuan Chums and featuring Keith Moon and John Entwistle of The Who, with the b-side being 'Blind Date', the only officially released track by biG GRunt. In early 1971, Stanshall returned to touring with a new band, Freaks. This group recorded a BBC radio session for John Peel that featured solo numbers by Stanshall and Innes, alongside tracks from The Bonzo's yet-to-be-released 'Let's Make Up And Be Friendly', and it also marked the first appearance in any medium of an episode of Stanshall's magnum opus, 'Rawlinson End'. Further singles were rare, but avidly welcomed by his fans when they appeared in 1974 and 1976, as were the Peel sessions that he was continually offered by his DJ friend. In 1973 he recorded his contribution to the 'That'll Be The Day' soundtrack album, although the song didn't make the film, and one of his last recordings was for a charity album in support of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre, put together by the New Musical Express, and featuring his '(There's) No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car'. 
Vivian Stanshall was found dead on the morning of 6 March 1995, following a fire at his flat. 
I hope that this collection of non-album singles, choice radio sessions, and the afore-mentioned charity record and film soundtrack work, is a fitting tribute to a unique character, for whom it can honestly be said 'there'll never be another like him'.  

Track listing

Vivian Stanshall & biG GRunt 
01 Eleven Moustachioed Daughters (John Peel session 1970)
02 The Strain (John Peel session 1970)
03 Cyborg Signal (John Peel session 1970)
Vivian Stanshall & The Sean Head Showband
04 Labio-Dental Fricative (single 1970)
05 Paper-Round (b-side of 'Labio-Dental Fricative')
Vivian Stanshall & Gargantuan Chums
06 Suspicion (single 1970)
Vivian Stanshall & biG GRunt
07 Bind Date (b-side of 'Suspicion')
Vivian Stanshall
08 Lakonga (single 1974)
09 Baby Tunde (b-side of 'Lakonga')
Vivian Stanshall, Keith Moon, Jack Bruce, Ronnie Wood & Graham Bond
10 Real Leather Jacket (from the 'That'll Be The Day' soundtrack album 1973)
Vivian Stanshall
11 Trail Of The Lonesome Pine (John Peel session 1975)
Vivian Stanshall & Kilgaron
12 The Young Ones (single 1976)
13 Are You Having Any Fun? (single 1976)
14 The Question (b-side of 'The Young Ones'/'Are You Having Any Fun?')
Vivian Stanshall & The Big Boys
15 (There's) No Room To Rhumba In A Sports Car (from 'The Last Temptation Of Elvis' 1990)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 19 July 2019

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - A Dog's Breakfast (1983)

To close this comedy/rock special here's a collection of hard to find singles, b-sides, and radio sessions by various members of the Bonzos, which were issued by them after the band broke up. You might think that there's not enough Viv on here, but that's because there are actually enough rarities from him to make his own album, which I'll be posting later, but I've added my favourite single of his - 'Labio-Dental Fricative'/'Paper Round' - so that there's at least two songs of his on here. 
Here are some notes on each song that I found online, although I've re-jigged the track listing from the original album that they came from.     

Topo D. Bill - Witchi-Tai-To (A-side) - 3:29
Topo D. Bill - Jam (B-side) - 3:10
originally released in December 1969 as the first single (CB-116) on Tony Stratton Smith's newly founded 'Famous Charisma' record label. Produced by 'Legs' Larry Smith, both tracks were recorded with help from former collegue Roger Ruskin Spear and one or more (unknown) members of Yes and/or The Who. The single was released under a pseudonym as the various participants were already signed to other record companies. The word is that 'Springtime for Hitler' was 'Legs' Larry's first choice to be released but rejected by Stratton Smith as he was just finalizing a deal with a German distributor.

The World - Angelina (A-side) - 2:48
The World - 9 To 5 Pollution Blues -  4:22
Neil's first short-lived solo project 'The World', was a more conventional group than the Bonzo's and featured besides Neil on lead vocal, piano and guitar, former Bonzo Dennis Cowan on bass and guitar, Ian Wallace on drums and Roger McKew on lead guitar. They only released one album 'Lucky Planet' (LBG-83149) and one single 'Angelina' b/w 'Come Into The Open' (LBF-15402 in mono) in 1970 on Liberty Records.

Viv Stanshall & The Sean Head Showband - Labio-Dental Fricative - 3:09
Viv Stanshall & The Sean Head Showbnad - Paper Round - 2:05
Viv's first solo single was released on the Liberty Label in 1970, coupling "Labio-Dental Fricative/Paper Round", and credited to Vivian Stanshall and The Sean Head Showband (an oblique reference to Stanshall having shaved off all of his hair during his breakdown). Both sides featured Eric Clapton on guitar.

Roger Ruskin Spear - Trouser Freak (Full Version) (A-side) - 2:49
Roger Ruskin Spear - Trouser Press (A-side) - 2:58
Roger Ruskin Spear - Release Me (B-side) - 2:50
Roger Ruskin Spear - Drop Out! (B-side) - 2:02
Roger's wonderful 'Rebel Trouser EP' was released in 1971 under the monniker 'Roger Ruskin Spear And His Giant Orchestral Wardrobe' on EMI's subsidiary label United Artists (UP-35221) and recorded with help from former Bonzo bass players Dave Clague and Dennis Cowan (on guitar), Leon Williams on trumpets and Tat Meager on drums. The EP's opening track 'Trouser Freak' was re-released several times on Bonzo compilations but these versions were all edited down to 2:18 omitting the ending, whereas the version here is complete.

Roger Ruskin Spear - Mattress Man (BBC Radio Flash 10-08-1971) - 2:11
Roger Ruskin Spear - Call Of The Freaks (BBC Radio Flash 10-08-1971) - 2:47
Two live tracks by 'Roger Ruskin Spear And His Giant Orchestral Wardrobe' from the Viv Stanshall presented BBC radio show 'Radio Flash' broadcast on August 10, 1971 and produced by John Walters and engineered by Bob Conduct. Among others Roger on tenor sax, Dave Glass on piano, Tad Meager on drums, Jerry Gardner on rhythm guitar, Bob Kerr on cornet and Thunderclap Newman's Andy Newman on sax. (He also recorded a cover of the Bonzo's track 'On Her Doorstep, Last Night', but I've omitted that as it was nowhere near as good as the Bonzo's version. PJ)

Neil Innes - Re-Cycled Vinyl Blues (A-side) - 3:30
Neil Innes - Fluff On The Needle (B-side) - 5:36
From the Neil Innes solo-single 'Re-Cycled Vinyl Blues' b/w 'Fluff On The Needle' released in 1974 on United Artists (UP-35676) and featuring Monty Python member Michael Palin acting as a record shop keeper. Among the featured send-ups are standards like 'Take Good Care Of My Baby', 'White Christmas', 'In The Mood' and 'Who Wants To Be A Millionare'.

Neil Innes - What Noise Annoys A Noisy Oyster (A-side) - 2:47
Neil Innes / Grimms - OO-Chuck-A-Mao-Mao (B-side) - 3:51
Two great Neil Innes penned tracks released under his own name in 1975 on United Artists (UP-35772). The B-side was originally released in 1973 on the second Grimms album 'Rockin' Duck'. 

Roger Ruskin Spear - I Love To Bumpity Bump - 2:35
Roger Ruskin Spear - When Yuba Plays The Rumba On The Tuba - 3:04 
Both sides of a 1974 single from Roger's second solo album 'Unusual'. The b-side, a wonderful cover version of a tune found on an old 78 RPM-single is his solo version of an early Bonzo favorite they never recorded.

Grimms - Womble Bashers Of Walthamstow (A-side) - 2:50
Grimms - The Worst Is Yet To Come (B-side) - 2:48
Grimms' (featuring Neil Innes) final release from the album 'Sleepers' and released as 7" single in 1976 on DJM Records (DJS-679). 

'Legs' Larry Smith - Springtime For Hitler (A-side) - 3:59
'Legs' Larry Smith - I Got A Braun New Girl (In God Wet Rust) (B-side) - 2:12
From the 1978 single 'Springtime For Hitler' released in 1978 on Arista Records (ARIST-194). 'I Got A Braun New Girl' was re-released in 2009 on Smug Records as part of a five track digital EP 'Call Me, Adolf!' produced by Gus Dudgeon.

'Legs' Larry Smith - Bullshot - 2:16
Title song from the 1983 Handmade Films release 'Bullshot' featuring 'Legs' Larry on vocals. Handmade was a George Harrison owned company that he established in 1979 with Denis O'Brien to finance Monty Python's second feature film 'Life Of Brian' after their movie deal with EMI fell through at the last minute.

Neil Innes - Them (B-side) - 2:52
Written and performed by Neil Innes, this song was originally released in 1982 as A-side to the single 'Them' b/w 'Rock Of Ages' (MMC I00) and re-released in 1992 as B-side to 'No Matter Who You Vote For The Government Always Gets In (Heigh Ho)'. The latter song, recorded in 1987, was Vivian Stanshall's final recording with the band as he died in 1995 when a fire broke out in his house.

That's your lot for tonight, and if nothing else this album shows that every member of the Bonzo Dog Band had much more to give after the group had disbanded. Watch out for Viv's album later on. 

Track listing

01 Topo D. Bill - Witchi-Tai-To (single 1969)
02 Topo D. Bill - Jam (b-side of 'Witchi-Tai-To')
03 The World - Angelina (single 1970)
04 The World - 9 To 5 Pollution Blues (from 'Lucky World' 1970)
05 Viv Stanshall & The Sean Head Showband - Labio-Dental Fricative (single 1970)
06 Viv Stanshall & The Sean Head Showband - Paper Round (b-side of 'Labio-Dental Fricative')
07 Roger Ruskin Spear - Trouser Freak (Full Version) (single 1971)
08 Roger Ruskin Spear - Trouser Press (b-side of 'Trouser Freak')
09 Roger Ruskin Spear - Release Me (b-side of 'Trouser Freak')
10 Roger Ruskin Spear - Drop Out! (b-side of 'Trouser Freak')
11 Roger Ruskin Spear - Mattress Man (BBC Radio Flash 1971)
12 Roger Ruskin Spear - Call Of The Freaks (BBC Radio Flash 1971)
13 Neil Innes - Re-Cycled Vinyl Blues (single 1974) 
14 Neil Innes - Fluff On The Needle (b-side of 'Re-Cycled Vinyl Blues')
15 Neil Innes - What Noise Annoys A Noisy Oyster (single 1975)
16 Neil Innes / Grimms - OO-Chuck-A-Mao-Mao (b-side of 'What Noise Annoys A Noisy Oyster')
17 Roger Ruskin Spear - I Love To Bumpity Bump (single 1974)
18 Roger Ruskin Spear - When Yuba Plays The Rumba On The Tuba (b-side of 'I Love.....')
19 Grimms - Womble Bashers Of Walthamstow (single 1976)
20 Grimms - The Worst Is Yet To Come (b-side of 'Womble Bashers Of Walthamstow')
21 'Legs' Larry Smith - Springtime For Hitler (single 1978)
22 'Legs' Larry Smith - I Got A Braun New Girl (In God Wet Rust) (b-side of 'Springtime For Hitler')
23 'Legs' Larry Smith - Bullshot (from the film 'Bullshot' 1983)
24 Neil Innes - Them (single 1982)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Peter Cook & Dudley Moore - By Appointment (1967)

Even though their heyday was the mid to late 60's, Peter and Dud are two of my favourite comedians, and I still play their albums more than any other comedy records that I own. I also have a few of their singles and EP's, and this post includes all their Decca singles from 1965-1967, plus their 1965 Parlophone EP. It's a great collection of comic songs, jazz instrumentals and comedy sketches, and while a couple of the tracks might not really warrant repeated plays, there's enough good stuff on here to reinforce the duo's reputation as one of the UK's most popular comedy acts. Dudley Moore was also an extremely talented pianist, and made a number of superb jazz albums, and over the years I've managed to find every one that's he's ever made, which was quite a task, but well worth it as they are some of my all-time favourite jazz trio records. But for now, enjoy the comedy talents of this legendary duo.

Track listing 

01 Goodbyeee (single 1965)
02 Not Only But Also (b-side of 'Goodbyeee')
03 Sitting On The Bench (from the Parlophone EP 1965)
04 Strictly For The Birds (from the Parlophone EP 1965)
05 And The Same To You (Colonel Bogey) (from the Parlophone EP 1965)
06 By Appointment (Decca EP 1965)
07 The Ballad Of Spotty Muldoon (single 1965) 
08 Lovely Lady Of The Roses (b-side of 'The Ballad Of Spotty Muldoon')
07 Isn't She A Sweetie (single 1966)
08 Bo Dudley (b-side of 'Isn't She A Sweetie')
11 Bedazzled (single 1967)
12 Love Me (b-side of 'Bedazzled')
13 The L.S. Bumble Bee (single 1967) 
14 The Bee Side (b-side of 'The L. S. Bumble Bee')
Enjoy / Enjoy

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - A Dog's Life (1969)

Tonight will be a comedy/rock special, as I've got three albums to post from comedy legends of the 60's and 70's. I know that a lot of visitors have a soft spot for the Bonzo Dog Band, from the comments on my various Rutles posts, and they were a unique and innovative band who've never been bettered in their genre. They've been well served over the years with numerous compilations and remasters which have uncovered previously unheard material, but there's never been a comprehensive collection of all their rarities in one place. 
For this post I've gathered all the songs they recorded which never appeared on any of their albums, and they include both sides of their two pre-album singles from 1966, followed quickly by a first album out-take in the same vein. 
They recorded a lot of sessions for the BBC, mostly for John Peel, and as well as performing otherwise unheard songs, they also wrote surreal musical sketches, and 'The Craig Torso Show' is one from 1967, with the more conventional 'I've Found The Answer' being broadcast the following year. A couple of covers of popular songs and a second album out-take precede the second 'Craig Torso Show', which is a Christmas special from 1967. 'Da Story Of Da Bonzo' is an early version of 'The Bride Stripped Bare', with a bit more guitar than the finished take, and 'Excerpt From 'The Brain Opera' - Act 3 Scene 1' is another musical sketch recorded for John Peel in 1968. 'Little Sir Echo' is a live take from the German TV pop show 'Beat Club', before we're back for part 3 of 'The Brain Opera', broadcast in 1969. 'I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles' is taken from a live jazz festival at Bilzen, and the 1969 Peel session recording of 'Sofa Head' segues into 'Give Booze A Chance', as it was originally broadcast, whereas more recent compilations have split them into two separate tracks. 
The Bonzos got back together in 1992 to release a satirical song about UK politics with 'No Matter Who You Vote For, The Government Always Gets In (Heigh Ho)', and this version is the much longer demo, which features a lot more Viv Stanshall than the eventual single release. We finish with the entirely appropriate 'End Of The Show', taken from the 'New Faces' TV show in 1967. There are quite a few more rarities out there, but they tend to be either demos or early versions of songs which subsequently made the albums, such as 'Tragic Magic', which is almost exactly the same as the eventually re-titled 'Keynsham', or a very brief 'National Beer', which later metamorphised into 'King Of Scurf'. I've tried to make this the definitive Bonzo's rarities album, and hope that it contains every rare song that you could possibly want to hear, so enjoy an hour and a quarter of exquisite silliness.

Track listing

01 My Brother Makes The Noises For The Talkies (single 1966)
02 I'm Going To Bring A Watermelon To My Girl Tonight (b-side of 'My Brother.....)
03 Alley Oop (single 1966)
04 Button Up Your Overcoat (b-side of 'Alley Oop')
05 On Her Doorstep, Last Night (previously unreleased 1967)
06 The Craig Torso Show (John Peel session 1967)
07 I've Found The Answer (John Peel session 1967)
08 Blue Suede Shoes (previously unreleased 1968)
09 Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) (previously unreleased 1968)
10 Mr Hyde In Me (previously unreleased 1968)
11 The Craig Torso Christmas Show (John Peel session 1967)
12 Da Story Of Da Bonzo (aka 'The Bride Stripped Bare' 1969)
13 Boo! (previously unreleased 1969)
14 Excerpt From 'The Brain Opera' - Act 3, scene 1 (John Peel session 1968)
15 Boiled Ham Rhumba (previously unreleased 1969)
16 Little Sir Echo (live in Germany 1967)
17 Excerpt From 'The Brain Opera' - Part 3 (John Peel session 1969)
18 I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles (Live at Jazz Bilzen 1969)
19 Sofa Head / Give Booze A Chance (John Peel session 1968)
20 We're Going To Bring It On Home (John Peel session 1969)
21 No Matter Who You Vote For, The Government Always Get In (Heigh Ho) (demo 1992)
22 End Of The Show (New Faces 1967)

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Stealers Wheel - Leaving It All Behind (1978)

Having a massive hit single can be both a blessing and also a curse, especially if circumstances conspire to make it pretty much the only thing you're ever known for. Stealers Wheel were a fairly successful band in the 70's, with a few hits under their belt, until Quentin Tarrantino decided to use their' Stuck In The Middle With You' in his 1992 film 'Reservoir Dogs', and from that point on it's as if they'd never recorded anything else. In actual fact that's not even my favourite songs of theirs, with a number of other tracks on their first two albums outshining it. But that's by the by, as this album looks at the other end of their career, in the mid to late 70's.
Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty met as teenagers in Paisley, and in 1972 they became the core of Stealers Wheel, being originally joined by Roger Brown, Rab Noakes and Ian Campbell. By the time the band signed to A&M Records later that year, Brown, Noakes and Campbell had been replaced by Paul Pilnick, Tony Williams and Rod Coombes. 'Stealers Wheel' was released in 1972, and a production by famed US songwriters and producers Leiber & Stoller helped it become a critical and commercial success, although by the time the album was released Rafferty had left the band, and Luther Grosvenor was employed to fill in for him on the subsequent tour. He was persuaded to return after the success of the debut album, but the rest of the band left soon afterwards, leaving Egan and Rafferty as the core duo of Stealers Wheel. Their second album 'Ferguslie Park' (named after an area of Paisley) was released in 1973, and although it was deemed a commercial failure, it's my favourite of their records. With increasing tensions between Egan and Rafferty, and with Leiber & Stoller also having business problems, Stealers Wheel were on the rocks, and by the time their third album 'Right Or Wrong' came out in 1975 they'd already disbanded.
Due to complicated legal issues following the break-up, neither Rafferty nor Egan were allowed to release any material until the problems were resolved in 1978, although I'm sure they were both stockpiling songs and just waiting until they could record and release them. But here's the What If.......what if, during their enforced hiatus from the music scene, they rekindled their friendship, to the point where they agreed to reform Stealers Wheel and make a new album. They could both have brought their best songs to the table, and the resulting album might very well have sounded like this, featuring the most SW-sounding songs from each artist's first solo album after the break. I've sequenced them so that each artist has a fair share of the writing duties, and to my ears I think this sounds even better than their official third album.   

Track listing

01 The Ark
02 Why Let It Bother You
03 Stealin' Time
04 Freeze
05 Whatever's Written In Your Heart
06 No Time For Sorrow
07 Leaving It All Behind
08 Waiting For The Day
09 Out Of Nowhere

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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)

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 you can compare them if you want to.   

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

Enjoy / Enjoy

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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