Friday, 28 February 2020

The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu - 1987 What The Fuck's Going On? (1987)

On New Year's Day 1987, Bill Drummond decided to make a hip hop record under the pseudonym The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, and because of his limited knowledge about modern music technology, he invited Jimmy Cauty, a former member of the band Brilliant, to join him. Cauty agreed, and the JAMMs' debut single 'All You Need Is Love' was independently released on 9 March 1987 as a limited-edition one-sided white label 12" single, but despite positive reaction from the music press, a commercial release was impossible due to the record's reliance on uncleared, often illegal samples. In response, the JAMMs re-edited the single, removing or doctoring the most antagonistic samples, and re-released it as 'All You Need Is Love (106 bpm)' in May 1987. According to Drummond, profits from this re-release funded the recording of their first album, and '1987 What the Fuck's Going On?' was released in June 1987. Once again, it used extensive unauthorised samples that plagiarized a wide range of musical works, but this time they weren't so lucky, and shortly after the album came out the band were ordered by the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society to destroy all unsold copies of the album, following a complaint from ABBA about use of their music in 'The Queen And I'. 
Drummond and Cauty travelled to ABBA's home country of Sweden in the hope of meeting with the band personally, taking an NME journalist and photographer with them, along with most of the remaining copies of the LP and a gold disc of the album. Failing to find ABBA in residence at Polar Studios in Stockholm, they instead presented the gold disc to a blonde prostitute they pretended was Agnetha "fallen on hard times." Of the original LP's stock, some copies were thrown overboard on the North Sea ferry trip across, and the remainder were burned in a field in Gothenburg before dawn (as shown on the cover of their next album 'Who Killed The JAMs?'). The trip was unexpectedly eventful, with the band accidentally hitting and killing a moose, and later being shot at by a farmer, with a bullet cracking the engine of their Ford Galaxie police car, resulting in them having to be towed back to England by the AA. Once back in the UK they exploited a loophole in their agreement with the MCPS, and offered five copies of the disc that they'd found in a record shop for sale at £1,000.00 each, and that meant that anyone who did have an original copy now had a major rarity on their hands. As one last protest about the whole episode, the band released a version of the album titled '1987 (The JAMs 45 Edits)', which was stripped of all unauthorised samples, leaving such protracted periods of silence and so little audible content that it was formally classed as a 12-inch single. After their eventful experience with The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu, Drummond and Cauty reconfigured the band into The KLF, where they continued their mission to subvert the music industry. Despite the fact that there must be quite a few copies of the album out there, it's very hard to find one online, but I've tracked one down so that we can hear for ourselves what all the fuss was about. To be honest, I don't think it lives up to its notoriety, but I'm glad that I've finally heard it.  



Track listing

01 Hey Hey We Are Not The Monkees!
02 Mind The Gap
03 Don't Take Five (Take What You Want)
04 Rockman Rock Parts 2 And 3
05 Why Did You Throw Away Your Giro?
06 Me Ru Con
07 The Queen And I
08 Top Of The Pops
09 All You Need Is Love
10 Next

Suggested by 'The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear' by Bruno MacDonald

Enjoy / Enjoy

On A Friday - Union Street (1990)

The third known On A Friday demo tape comes from the summer of 1990, and was recorded between the sessions for their last two cassette releases. It's a compilation of 4-track recordings made between June and August at Clifton Hampden Village Hall, Nuneham Courtenay Village Hall and at home. This tape contained 15 new songs, and has been recompiled over the years, sometimes removing 'Tell Me Bitch' (which is really no great loss), and also re-titling some of the songs. By the time of these recordings all the members were at different Universities around the country, but reconvened over the summer, with the exception of Phil who was in Ireland. In order to keep recording and rehearsing, the band drafted in school friend Nigel Powell, who had recorded some previous demos with the band, to keep the drum stool warm. The Clifton Hampden tracks were recorded over a number of weeks with this line up, and in between sessions Jonny took the four-track home with him where he, Thom and Colin would continue working on the tracks, and when Phil returned the band recorded one more demo track 'What Is That You See?'. The band did not have a settled name during this period, having dropped On A Friday temporarily, but not yet having come up with anything better. One possibility was Shindig, which survived long enough for Thom to spray paint it on his acoustic guitar case, but by the time of their next 'proper' demo in April 1991 (the previously mentioned 'Manic Hedgehog', from which two songs for this 1990 tape would be substantially developed), they had reverted to On A Friday. For this post I've gone with the 14 track version, but kept the original song titles. 'Tell Me Bitch' has already appeared on a previous post in a different form, but it you are a masochist and really want to hear it, you can track down the original speeded up version yourself online. 



Track listing

01 Keep Strong
02 Somebody
03 Burning Bush
04 Climbing Up A Bloody Great Hill
05 Mr B
06 What Is That You See?
07 Everyone Needs Someone To Hate
08 Upside Down
09 The Greatest Shindig (Of The World)
10 Give It Up
11 How Can You Be Sure?
12 Life With A Big F
13 Rattlesnake
14 New Generation

Enjoy / Enjoy

Dream Command - Fire On The Moon (1990)

Despite being a great indie band, The Comsat Angels first three albums failed to live up to record label Polydor's expectations, and so they let the band go. They quickly signed with Jive Records and recorded 1983's 'Land', which had a more commercial, new wave-oriented feel, but still retained their instantly recognisable sound. The album included the single 'Will You Stay Tonight?', which had some success on US radio, and so consolidating on this their next album '7 Day Weekend' moved towards a more pop-oriented trend, although despite aiming for chart success it also failed to make an impact, and Jive dropped them. While without a label, the band found a fan and supporter in fellow Yorkshireman Robert Palmer, who was at the height of his popularity at this point in the 1980's, and he facilitated the group's signing to Island Records. He served as executive producer for their next album 'Chasing Shadows' and even sang on one song, with the music on that album being viewed as a return to the band's dark, brooding roots. For the follow-up, the band talked Island into letting them build their own studio, and the music they recorded was squarely aimed at AOR radio. Possibly because of pressure from Island, or the on-going dispute with the Communications Satellite Corporation, who claimed they owned the name Comsat, the band changed their name to Dream Command for the release of 1990's 'Fire On The Moon'. Neither the band nor their label were entirely happy with the album, and so it was only released in small quantities in the US and the Netherlands, and the band never performed live with the name, or used it again afterwards. They reverted back to being The Comsat Angels in 1991 and released three more albums, before finally disbanding in late 1995. The Dream Command album has remained a well-kept secret, but I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as it's been made out to be, and it deserves a listen by fans of the band, so here it is.  



Track listing

01 Celestine
02 Whirlwind
03 Sleepwalking
04 Reach For Me
05 Ice Sculpture
06 Venus Hunter
07 Phantom Power
08 Transport of Delight
09 She's Invisible
10 Mercury

Enjoy / Enjoy

Reasonable Strollers - Secure (1982)

There's very little information about the Reasonable Strollers, other than that they came from Colchester, Essex, and comprised Steve Bywater on guitar, Geoff Coombs on guitar and vocals, Mat Fraser on drums and Pete Brown on bass. John Peel played their only single 'Tools For Africa', and not only was it a great post-punk noise, but they were almost a local band (only two counties away), so I snapped it up. A little while later I saw a cassette tape by them advertised and so I sent off for that, and those eight songs are the total output of this obscure band. They received a passing mention in Giles Smith's superb memoir 'Lost In Music', but it's a shame that they didn't produce more music, as their strange angular guitar-driven indie-rock was right up my street. This short-ish album is a reminder that there were many, many bands in the late 70's and early 80's who self-released one or two singles and then faded away, and some of them, like The Reasonable Strollers, deserve a re-appraisal. 



Track listing

01 Tools For Africa (single 1982)
02 Smile (b-side of 'Tools For Africa')
03 No Wasting (b-side of 'Tools For Africa')
04 Chalk (from the 'Secure' cassette 1982)
05 Secure (from the 'Secure' cassette 1982)
06 Finsinda Baxter (from the 'Secure' 1982)
07 Doctor Sax (from the 'Secure' cassette 1982)
08 Airhole (from the 'Secure' cassette 1982)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The Foo Fighters - Million Dollar Demos (2001)

I've just taken delivery of a fascinating book entitled 'The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear' by Bruno MacDonald, which, as the title suggests, looks at the stories of unreleased and unheard albums by a very wide variety of artists. Never one to shy away from a challenge, I've tracked down quite a few of them, and so the first of a number of future posts is from The Foo Fighters. The ‘Million Dollar Demos’ were taped during The Foo Fighters first attempt to record their fourth record 'One By One' in 2001. This was a pretty tough time for the band, with Taylor Hawkins overdosing on drugs in a London hotel room, and Dave Grohl telling a journalist that it was the first time that he'd ever considered quitting music. No-one was very happy with the recordings, which reportedly cost over a million dollars to make, and when Grohl decided to spend the summer of 2002 touring with Queens Of The Stone Age, the future of the band was looking decidedly uncertain. Things came to a head at the Coachella Festival in 2002, when Grohl played with both The Queens Of The Stone Age and The Foo Fighters, and his band-mates in the Fighters complained that they weren't happy with Grohl's 'moonlighting'. Despite this the band playing a blinding set, and the bad feelings were worked through, with the decision being made to scrap all the recordings they'd made so far, and to re-record all the songs in just two weeks in Dave Grohl's basement studio. 'One By One' included the successful singles 'All My Life' and 'Times Like These', and was noted for the introspective lyrics and a heavier and more aggressive sound compared to the band's earlier work. Of the original recordings, eleven tracks were laid down, of which ten were considered for the album, (not including 'Times Like These' and 'Low' which were written after the demos were abandoned), but only three were ever officially released, as b-sides to singles from the released record. Although 30-second clips from the other tracks circulated online, the full demos were only leaked when Reddit user Dale Nixon made a new account, and made one single post, which was a download link for the 'Million Dollar Demos'. We can now hear that most of the songs are similar to their final counterparts, although songs like 'Come Back' and 'Lonely As You' are drastically different. Rumours abound that Dale Nixon might actually be Dave Grohl himself, as he used that pseudonym when he played on The Melvin’s 1992 album 'King Buzzo', but that could just be a red herring. Whoever he is, he's now given us a chance to hear these legendary demos, for which we are all thankful. 



Track listing

01 All My Life
02 Walking a Line
03 Have It All
04 Tired of You
05 Halo
06 Normal
07 Lonely As You
08 Overdrive
09 Burn Away
10 Come Back

Suggested by 'The Greatest Albums You'll Never Hear' by Bruno MacDonald

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 21 February 2020

On A Friday - Manic Hedgehog (1989)

The second known On A Friday demo tape reportedly comes from 1988. The band were pretty much inactive between 1987 and 1990, but there seems to have been some activity in 1988, as indicated by a gig at the London School of Economics, so it's possible that they reconvened after their University courses had already begun in order to make these recordings. The line-up of the band at this point included three saxophone players: Rasmus 'Raz' Peterson, Liz Cotton and Charlotte Cotton, but Jonny had still not yet joined the band. The recordings were made at Woodworm Studios in Oxfordshire and engineered and mixed by Dave Pegg.
In April 1991, during the Easter holidays, the band recorded a 3-track demo at Dungeon Studios in Shipton-On-Stour, which had 16-track equipment. They worked there for three days, and it cost the band more than £300, which was a lot of money for them at the time. The recordings were engineered by the studio's owner, Richard Haines, and contained three new recordings, two of which were reworkings of songs from a summer 1990 compilation tape. This demo helped the band get some regular live gigs, among them one at the Jericho Tavern, where Chris Hufford saw the band for the first time, and both the gig and the tape convinced him and Bryce Edge to produce On A Friday's next demo at their studio.
The final demo was recorded in October 1991 on 24-track equipment for £500 at Hufford and Edge's Courtyard Studios, and consisted of five new songs. Officially titled 'First Tapes', it became widely known as the 'Manic Hedgehog Demo', named after the shop in Oxford that sold the cassette copies for £3 each. Following the sessions for this demo, Hufford and Edge became the band's managers and more recordings at Courtyard would result in their first official release as Radiohead, 1992's 'The Drill' EP. This post complies all the songs from those three demo cassettes, plus 'Tell Me Bitch', a notorious ska track by the band, which was sped up in post-production to produce arguably their most hated song. This is a slowed down version which would be more how the band played it before they manipulated the tape, and although it's still not great, it is a marginal improvement on the released version.  



Track listing

01 Happy Song
02 To Be A Brilliant Light
03 Sinking Ship
04 What Is That You Say
05 Stop Whispering
06 Give It Up
07 I Can't
08 Nothing Touches Me
09 Thinking About You
10 Phillipa Chicken
11 You
12 Tell Me Bitch

Enjoy / Enjoy

Khan - Break The Chains (1972)

When Steve Hillage left Uriel, he joined forces with Nick Greenwood on bass, Dick Heninghem on organ and Pip Pyle on percussion to form a new progressive rock group that he named Khan. Pyle quickly moved on to Gong and by the time the band played its first gig in June 1971 he'd been replaced by Eric Peachey. In October 1971 Dave Stewart took over from  Dick Heninghem, and stayed for the duration of the recording sessions that produced their sole album 'Space Shanty', which was released in June 1972. The band promoted the album with a UK tour supporting Caravan, during which time Canadian organist Val Stevens joined the line-up. In the summer of 1972 Hillage put together a new version of the band, retaining Peachey but permanently adding Dave Stewart on keyboards and Nigel Griggs on bass. New material was written and rehearsed, and a few live performances took place in September and October 1972, but Decca's refusal to commit to the release of a second album led Hillage to break up the band and team up with Kevin Ayers, before moving on to join Gong. Some recordings from the second album sessions have recently surfaced, and with the addition of some live and rehearsal recordings from the Autumn of 1972, and an early version of 'Mixed Up Man Of The Mountains' there's enough material to give us an idea of what the second album might have sounded like. Incidentally, if 'Stargazers' start to grate a bit, then be thankful that I cut down the original six-minute take.  



Track listing

01 Break The Chains (studio recording 1972)
02 Mixed Up Man Of The Mountains (early take)
03 Stargazers (demo 1971)
04 Wring Out The Ground Loosely Now (live 1972)
05 Escape Of The Space Pirates (demo 1971)
06 Canterbury Sunrise (rehearsal recording 1972)
07 Hollow Stone (demo 1971)
08 Madman's Rap (rehearsal recording 1972)
09 Five Piece (live 1972)

Enjoy / Enjoy

3D - Sleeping Gods (1984)

As promised in my first post from the band, here's a collection of songs recorded by 3D for a proposed album to be issued on the RAK label in 1984. There was well over an hour's worth of material taped, and so as not to make this album too long, I've kept back the three singles and their b-sides which were released as tasters for the record for a future post, leaving a nice, concise 40-minute album which could have come out in 1984. Even though I've confessed to having a liking for the band since their first Peel session, to me this still sounds a pretty good album even today, and hasn't really dated at all. I'm sure that had it been released as intended, it would have propelled the band into the indie mainstream, and they might have lasted a couple of years longer than they did.   



Track listing

01 Walk Away
02 Loneliest World
03 Points To You
04 Songs American
05 This Time Forever
06 Sleeping Gods
07 It's Only Life
08 Change Your Mind
09 Love Is Falling Apart
10 My Sleep
11 Brave Boys' Paradise
12 Dreamin' Of You

Enjoy / Enjoy

Big In Japan - Goodbye (1979)

If Big In Japan are remembered for anything, it's the fact that they were a supergroup in reverse, with all the members going to to much greater things when the left the band. Coming from the same Merseyside scene which would produce Echo & the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, OMD, and Dalek I Love You, Big In Japan started off playing gigs around Liverpool, alongside bands like Wah! Heat, but will always be predominantly associated with Eric's Club. Their stage show was unique: lead singer Jayne Casey would perform with a lampshade over her shaved head, guitarist Bill Drummond played in a kilt and bassist Holly Johnson performed in an overtly flamboyant manner. The group was originally the  idea of Deaf School's Clive Langer, his friend Bill Drummond (guitar, vocals), Kevin Ward (bass, vocals) and Phil Allen (drums), and they formed the band in May 1977, playing only three gigs, the first of them at Bretton Hall College, in Yorkshire. In August the line-up expanded to include Jayne Casey (vocals), Ian Broudie (guitar) and Clive Langer (guitar), who quit in September, just after the band recorded their eponymous first song, which appeared on the 7" single compilation 'Brutality, Religion And A Dance Beat'. In October, Ambrose Reynolds joined to replace Ward who then left that December, with Reynolds himself quitting shortly afterwards to be replaced by Holly Johnson. In January 1978, Budgie (previously in The Spitfire Boys and later a member of The Slits and Siouxsie and the Banshees) replaced Allen on drums, and in early June, Johnson was sacked and was replaced by ex-Deaf School bassist Steve Lindsey, who was in turn replaced in July by Dave Balfe (previously of Dalek I Love You).
Hatred of the band reached such a level that a petition calling on them to split up was launched by a jealous young Julian Cope, and after being displayed in local record shop Probe Records, the petition gathered numerous signatures, including those of the band themselves! According to Cope's autobiography, Bill Drummond was into the whole thing and told Cope that if they got 14,000 signatures then the band would split up. They got about nine. They did eventually split up of their own accord after a last gig at Eric's on 26 August 1978. During their short career Big in Japan made just four studio recordings, which were later included on the 'From Y to Z and Never Again' EP, and was released to pay off debts, as well as a session for the John Peel show in 1979 with a line-up of Casey, Broudie, Johnson and Budgie. To show the extraordinary membership of the band, the full line-up is:
Clive Langer (ex-Deaf School, later of Clive Langer And The Boxes, and famed producer)
Bill Drummond (later of The KLF and founder of Zoo Records) 
Kevin Ward (later designer of artwork for many Liverpool bands)
Phil Allen (is the brother of Enrico Cadillac Jnr, lead singer of Deaf School)
Holly Johnson (later of Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
Ambrose Reynolds (later of Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Pink Industry)
Jayne Casey (later of Pink Military and Pink Industry)
Ian Broudie (later of The Lightning Seeds, and famed producer)
Budgie (later of Siouxsie And The Banshees, The Creatures, and The Slits)
Steve Lindsey (ex-Deaf School, later of The Planets)
Dave Balfe (ex-Dalek I Love You, later part of Lori & The Chameleons, and founder of the Zoo and Food Record labels)

Ironically, the band never performed or released any music in Japan.



Track listing

01 Big In Japan (from 'Brutality, Religion And A Dance Beat' split single 1977) 
02 Society For Cutting Up Men (previously unreleased 1977)
03 Nothing Special (from the 'From Y To Z And Never Again' EP 1978)
04 Cindy And The Barbie Dolls (from the 'From Y To Z And Never Again' EP 1978)
05 Suicide A Go Go (from the 'From Y To Z And Never Again' EP 1978)
06 Taxi (from the 'From Y To Z And Never Again' EP 1978)
07 Don't Bomb China Now (John Peel session 1979)
08 Goodbye (John Peel session 1979)
09 Suicide High Life (John Peel session 1979)
10 Match Of The Day (from 'Street To Street - A Liverpool Album' 1979)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

The Rolling Stones - The 1969 Preservation Tapes (1969)

Fans of bands such as The Rolling Stones have become used to an annual New Years treat as their parent record company attempts to extend the copyright of unissued archive material by making it publicly available online. The difference this year was the method they used was Youtube, with 115 unissued Stones tracks appearing on 31st December 2019 under the user 69RSTRAX. By the time they'd been flagged by US websites they'd been taken down, but luckily there were Stones fans who were expecting this, and they managed to save the tracks before they were deleted. The downside, however, was that there an in-built spoiler in the recordings, resulting in a high-pitched whine throughout, but using some free software, the foremost Rolling Stones fansite www.iorr.org has removed this spoiler and made the tracks available for fans to hear these unique, and often very different versions of some the band's best songs from 1969. They've been around for a month or so now, and are already getting hard to find, so I've tracked them down before they disappear completely. Of the 115 tracks released, there were 98 live recordings from a variety of gigs throughout the year, but I've concentrated on the studio recordings, and for the collection that I found the compiler has just removed one track which was actually a 1978 rehearsal uploaded in error, so we now have a bluesier version of 'Love In Vain', and a take of 'You Got The Silver' featuring Jagger on vocals, with Richards returning the favour by singing 'Gimme Shelter'. There's also an early take of 'Sister Morphine', a radically reworked 'Wild Horses', 'Honky Tonk Women' with alternate lyrics, and instrumental versions of 'Stray Cat Blues', 'Midnight Rambler', 'Let It Bleed' and 'Country Honk'. To close the album we have 22 minutes of Jagger and the London Bach Choir laying down the choral vocals for 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' (at the end, as you might only ever want to hear it once!), and the whole collection gives us a fascinating insight into the studio workings of the band from over 50 years ago. 


   
Track listing

01 Sympathy For The Devil (Rock And Roll Circus rehearsals)
02 Stray Cat Blues (instrumental)
03 Ruby Tuesday (Rock And Roll Circus rehearsals)
04 Midnight Rambler (instrumental)
05 Wild Horses (with strings and glass harmonica)
06 Country Honk (instrumental)
07 Sister Morphine (longer early version)
08 Let It Bleed (instrumental)
09 Love In Vain (bluesier version)
10 You Got The Silver (Jagger lead vocal)
11 Gimme Shelter (alternate vocals)
12 Honky Tonk Women (alternate lyrics)
13 Gimme Shelter (Jagger and Richards double-tracked vocals)
14 You Can't Always Get What You Want (choir overdub sessions)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 14 February 2020

On A Friday - Lemming Trail (1986)

It's pretty well-known that before Radiohead appropriated the title of the Talking Heads song for their name, they were known as On A Friday, as the only time that they could practice was on a Friday. The wrote and recorded a lot of songs during these sessions, some of which were released on their own OAF label as demo tapes, whereas others would not surface until many years later. The earliest known demo tape by the band comes from 1986, when the line-up included a saxophone player, Rasmus 'Raz' Peterson. Jonny Greenwood had not yet joined the band, but his brother Colin was on bass, alongside Thom Yorke on vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards, Ed O'Brien on guitar, and Phillip Selway on drums. The tape was recorded in the music room of Abingdon School, and contains seven songs, with remixes of three of them which are slightly weird 'dub versions', where the vocals cut in and out at random. One last track was tagged on to the end of the tape, which was obviously recorded at a different time, and is of a noticeably lesser quality. Although these are the earliest known recordings from On A Friday, they were actually the last to surface, only appearing on Youtube in 2011. The owner explained that her husband was at school with the band and partied with them before Jonny joined, and the demo was given to him at 17 in school, after he used to go and see them play in Oxford, and became friends with the band. Although this demo was recorded by a bunch of teenagers in their school music room, it's surprisingly competent and confident, and you get the impression that this is a band who could go far. I wonder whatever happened to them.   



Track listing

01 Fragile Friend
02 Girl (In The Purple Dress)
03 Everybody Knows
04 Mountains (On The Move)
05 Fat Girl
06 Lemming Trail
07 Lock The Door
08 Fragile Friend (Remix)
09 Lemming Trail (Remix)
10 Lock The Door (Version)
11 In The Breeze

Enjoy / Enjoy

3D (A Fish In Sea) - Alone (1984)

During the 70's, 80's and 90's there was one radio show that I never missed, and that was the John Peel show. I even taped it when I went on holiday, so can say that I probably heard every single show he broadcast from 1975 until he sadly passed away in 2004. One of the highlights of the shows were the sessions that he broadcast, both from well-known bands, but more importantly for me, the new, up and coming groups who had impressed him with a demo tape, and were allowed into the hallowed halls of the Maida Vale studio to get their music out to a nationwide audience. I used to tape a lot of these sessions, and bands like Come In Tokyo, The Balcony, The Nightblooms, and especially 3D A Fish In Sea stick in my mind as outfits that deserved to be much bigger than they ever were. Liverpool band 3D A Fish In Sea (named after the title of a photograph in a magazine seen by one of the members) recorded three sessions for the John Peel Show, and for an unsigned band, the third Peel Session in 1983 was a record. The first one was absolutely brilliant, and I can't believe that no record label could see their potential, and after the second session went out to the same response, the band must have thought that was the end. But Peel obviously saw something in them, and offered them a third session, and this time RAK Records took the bait.
The renamed 3D, who’d started out as a six-piece, signed for RAK as a quartet, with John 'Riff' Reynolds, Fred Palethorpe, Steve Spurgin and Jon Corner making up the group. They recorded an album’s worth of material, and three singles were readied for release, 'Break the Fix', 'Nearer' and 'Dance To Believe'. Things were looking promising, before fate took an unexpected turn. 'Break The Fix' was set to be played on Radio One’s Round Table, where new singles were reviewed by an invited panel of DJ's, musicians and journalists, and on that particular show one of the guests was John Peel. The band thought that they had a favourable review in the bag, with Riff commenting “when we heard Peel was on, we thought we were made.” Unfortunately, it didn't quite pan out that way, as Peel hated the single, calling them ‘a poor man’s ABC’, and Riff had to admit that he was right, as the band hadn't been true to themselves after signing to RAK, producing what the label wanted to hear rather than what they wanted to play, and the resultant material wasn't really representative of the band. This led to an argument between the record label and publishers over promotion costs, which probably cost them a Top 75 single and numerous TV appearances, and eventually RAK lost interest and decided to call it a day, cancelling the album in the process. This post collects all three of those John Peel sessions (plus one song from a Capital Radio session), so you can hear what I heard when they were first broadcast, and later I'll be posting the unreleased album, so you can decide if you think the band had let the record company and producers take over. Finally there will be a mopping up album of the three singles and their b-sides, plus a few oddments from their other recordings. I still think the first Peel session contains the best work they ever did, and it's a shame they never realised their full potential while they were around.  



Track listing

01 Houdini (John Peel session 1982)
02 Some Die For Money (John Peel session 1982)
03 Alone (John Peel session 1982)
04 The Orchard (John Peel session 1982)
05 Dreaming Of You (John Peel session 1982)
06 A Child's Toy (John Peel session 1982)
07 Red Wine (John Peel session 1982)
08 Pantau (John Peel session 1983)
09 Brave Boys' Paradise (John Peel session 1983)
10 Stay (aka 'Houdini') (John Peel session 1983)
11 Loneliest World (John Peel session 1983)
12 Easy Come, Easy Go (Capital Radio session 1984)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Bill Oddie - Oddieties (1970)

This post was prompted by a very interesting article in this month's Record Collector - if you can find a copy it's worth a read.
William Edgar Oddie was born in Rochdale in 1941, and is a writer, comedian, composer, musician, artist, birder, conservationist, television presenter and actor. He is best know for being one third of The Goodies, but before he joined Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graham Garden for that classic TV show, he'd already served a ten year apprenticeship, appearing on a number of TV and radio shows for the BBC throughout the 60's. His entertainment career began while at Cambridge University, where he appeared in several Footlights Club productions, one of which - 'A Clump of Plinths' - was so successful at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe that it was renamed 'Cambridge Circus' and transferred to the West End in London, then New Zealand, and finally to Broadway in September 1964. While still at Cambridge, Oddie wrote scripts for and appeared briefly in TV's 'That Was the Week That Was', and later appeared in Bernard Braden's television series 'On The Braden Beat' in 1964. 
He joined Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Garden, John Cleese, Jo Kendall, and David Hatch for 'I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again' (ISIRTA) later that year, and the show ran on BBC radio until 1973, with Oddie providing a couple of songs for every recording of its nine-series run. He released an album 'Distinctly Oddie' in 1967, which featured some of his songs from the show, but he also released a number of singles before and after the album, both humourous and serious, none of which have ever been collected together before. 'Nothing Better To Do' was about the Mods and Rockers of the early 60's, and was banned by the BBC as they thought it might incite violence, while 'The Knitting Song' was the exact opposite, championing the relaxing past-time of knitting. 'I Can't Get Through'/'Because She Is My Love' was his one attempt at a serious single, but fared about as well as his other releases. He was one of the first performers to parody a rock song, arranging the traditional Yorkshire folk song 'On Ilkla Moor Baht'at' in the style of Joe Cocker's version of 'With A Little Help From My Friends', and it was released on John Peel's Dandelion Records in 1970. While a member of The Goodies some of his songs were also released as singles, and records such as 'Father Christmas Do Not Touch Me', 'Funky Gibbon', and 'Black Pudding Bertha' were actually hits in 1974 and 1975. This album, however, features his songs from the 60's, either written for the TV and radio shows that he appeared in, or just for release as a single under his own name.



Track listing

01 Nothing Better To Do (single 1964)
02 Traffic Island (ISIRTA version of the b-side of 'Nothing Better To Do')
03 The Knitting Song (single 1965)
04 I Ain't Got Rhythm (b-side of 'The Knitting Song')
05 I Can't Get Through (single 1966)
06 Because She Is My Love (b-side of 'I Can't Get Through')
07 Jimmy Young (single 1969)
08 Irish Get Out (b-side of 'Jimmy Young')
09 On Ilkla Moor Baht'at (single 1970)
10 Harry Krishna (b-side of 'On Ilkla Moor Baht'at')
11 TV Heroes (from the 'I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again' radio show)
12 Bossa Nova (from the 'I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again' radio show)
13 On Her Majesty's Service (from the 'I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again' radio show)
14 Directory (from the 'I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again' radio show)
15 Denmark Street (from the 'I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again' radio show)


English Subtitles - Tannoy (1982)

English Subtitles were a post-punk band formed in 1979 by Gordron Ginter (Wardern Ginter) on vocals, Jules Web and Lou Librium on guitar/vocals, Dil Deadman on bass, and two drummers - Charlie Crotty for studio work and Paul Hookman for live gigs. They managed to get a record deal with Small Wonder Records, and released their debut single 'Time Tunnel' in 1979, before moving to Glass Records for their 'Tannoy'/Cars On Fire' single two years later. One final 7" followed, which was a split flexi-disc with Marine, and was given away with Vinyl Magazine in 1981, while Glass released their sole album in 1982, after which the band faded away. None of their early music was included on the album, so it's worth collecting it here to get an idea of the band's emerging post-punk sound which led to their 'Original Dialogue' album, from which I've included three songs as an example of what they sounded like towards they end of their career.



Track listing

01 Time Tunnel (single 1979)
02 Sweat (b-side of 'Time Tunnel')
03 Reconstriuction (b-side of 'Time Tunnel')
04 Tannoy (single 1981)
05 Cars On Fire (b-side of 'Tannoy')
06 Water 1&2 (free flexi with 'Vinyl Magazine' #7 1981)
07 Dance (from the 'Bits' cassette compilation tape 1981)
08 Lost (from the album 'Original Dialogue' 1982)
09 Insomnia (from the album 'Original Dialogue' 1982)
10 The Baby Cries (from the album 'Original Dialogue' 1982)


Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis - Choppin' Wood (2000)

In 2000 Van Morrison released 'You Win Again', an album of mostly covers recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis's sister Linda Gail Lewis, and foIlowing on from the success of that record they began work on a second collaboration in October of that year. The new album was provisionally entitled 'Choppin’ Wood', and this time contained more Morrison originals than previously, with Linda Gail Lewis’s vocals and piano parts overdubbed on all but one track. For reasons not fully known, the working relationship between the two suddenly soured during the tour in support of 'You Win Again', with Lewis making certain claims about Morrison, including harassment, none of which were ever proven one way or the other. Morrison completely stopped Lewis's involvement in the new project and refused to let her hear any of the new songs, and after she quit the tour the album was eventually discarded.  In 2002 Morrison released 'Down The Road', which contained some of the 'Choppin' Wood' songs, but with Lewis's contributions totally erased from all the tracks, and the general opinion from people who have heard 'Choppin' Wood' is that 'Down The Road' is a  poor substitute for what could have been a much superior album had it been released. Luckily, bootlegs of the original recordings have leaked out over the years, and so here is the original album as it would have sounded had the two musicians not fallen out, and so we can decide for ourselves which would have been the better release.  



Track listing

01 Choppin' Wood
02 Hey Mr. DJ
03 The Beauty Of The Days Gone By
04 Down The Road
05 Princess Of Darkness
06 Just Like Greta
07 For A While
08 Mama Don't Allow
09 Meet Me In The Indian Summer
10 All Work And No Play

Enjoy / Enjoy

Friday, 7 February 2020

Magic Hour - Peel Session (1995)

Considering that I only started this blog to share the 30 or so rare unreleased albums that I'd collected over the years, this album marks my 500th post, and so it's fitting that it's from one of my favourite neo-psyche band of the 90's.
After the release of Magic Hour's debut album, the excellent 'No Excess Is Absurd', many of its songs were featured on the John Peel radio show, which led to the band being invited down to Maida Vale studios to record a session for the show. They played three songs from their forthcoming album 'Will They Turn You On Or Will They Turn On You', including a superlative 20 minute version of 'Passing Words', and an early version of 'Jonathan And Charles' entitled 'Another Day Like Today'. To this session I've added a couple of tracks that they gifted to a compilation album from their Twisted Village record label, completing this mopping-up of hard to find recordings from this greatly under-rated band.      



Track listing

01 I Had A Thought (John Peel session 1994) 
02 Another Day Like Today (aka 'Jonathan And Charles') (John Peel session 1994)  
03 Passing Words (John Peel session 1994) 
04 Untitled (from 'Marvelous Sound Forms: Twisted Village Archives, Vol. 1' 1999)
05 Something Else #2 (from 'Marvelous Sound Forms: Twisted Village Archives, Vol. 1' 1999)

Listening to this again today, I've decided that a re-jigged running order gives a better flow. If you've already downloaded it then see if you agree. 

Enjoy / Enjoy

The Box - Unpacked (1984)

Although The Box hailed from Sheffield and recorded at Cabaret Voltaire's Western Works studios, their music couldn't be more different to the Cabs esoteric, experimental electronica. The band were formed in 1981 from the ashes of the legendary Sheffield band Clock DVA, with Paul Widger (guitar, vibraphone), Roger Quail (drums) and Charlie Collins (saxophone, flute, piccolo flute) recruiting new member Terry Todd on bass, and after trying several vocalists, including the Cabs Stephen Mallinder, they decided on Peter Hope as their singer. Their first record was a 12" vinyl single which came out in January 1983, and contained five songs, and this was quickly followed by two more new songs on a 7" record. In June they released their debut album, with only one of those seven tracks making an appearance, and as theirs was a great new sound in 1983, all of their records received extensive airplay from John Peel, resulting in the band being invited to record a session for his show. A second album appeared exactly a year after the first, with 'Great Moments In Big Slam' still being my favourite work from the band. In November 1984 they released another four track 12" single, and once again it contained all new songs, with this disc marking a change of record label to Cabaret Voltaire's Doublevision, and a change of studio to Western Works. In 1985 they released their final Doublevision album, 'Muscle Out: The Box Live', and then the band were no more. The sound of The Box was unique even back in 1983, and sounds just as out-there today, with very few bands even attempting to sound like them. This post collects all those non-album EP and single tracks, the whole of their 1983 John Peel session, and a few unreleased songs and demo recordings, and in the unlikely event that you own their two brilliant albums, then you will now have everything they ever recorded.  



Track listing 

01 Old Style Drop Down (single 1983)
02 Momentum (b-side of 'Old Style Drop Down')
03 No Time For Talk (from 'The Box' EP 1983)
04 Burn Down That Village (from 'The Box' EP 1983)
05 Unstable (from 'The Box' EP 1983)
06 Hazard (from 'The Box' EP 1983)
07 Limpopo (from 'The Box' EP 1983)
08 Low Commotion (from the 'Muscle In' EP 1984)
09 Curfew (from the 'Muscle In' EP 1984)
10 Crow Bar (from the 'Muscle In' EP 1984)
11 Spade Work (from the 'Muscle In' EP 1984)
12 Bare Facts (previously unreleased)
13 Bottle Drips Dry (previously unreleased)
14 Out (John Peel Session 1983)
15 Strike (John Peel Session 1983)
16 The Hub (John Peel Session 1983)
17 Water Grows Teeth (John Peel Session 1983)
18 Rose High (demo 1984)
19 Surprised (demo 1984)

Enjoy / Enjoy

The Comsat Angels - History (1982)

The Comsat Angels were an English post-punk band from Sheffield, and were named after the J. G. Ballard short story 'The Comsat Angels', with the original line-up consisting of Stephen Fellows (vocals, guitar), Mik Glaisher (drums), Kevin Bacon (bass) and Andy Peake (keyboards). Their first release was the three-track EP 'Red Planet' 1979, and as soon as I heard it I knew the band were something special. This release attracted Polydor A&R man Frank Neilson and the band signed a three-album recording contract with the label, releasing 'Waiting for a Miracle' (1980), 'Sleep No More' (1981) and 'Fiction' (1982) for them, with these three records containing some of their best work. Although they were basically an 80's indie band, they supported a wide variety of artists, including Siouxsie and the Banshees, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Depeche Mode, U2 (an 18-date tour in 1981), Captain Beefheart, the Sound, Wall of Voodoo and Gang Of Four. In 1982 the US-based company Communication Satellite Corporation wrote a series of letters to the band's management saying that "the word 'Comsat' was a registered trade mark in America and that the group had no authority to use the name", even though the band had actually taken the name from the J. G. Ballard story. However, as a result of the threatened lawsuit, the band were forced to perform and release their records in the US under the name The C.S. Angels, and coincidentally it was around this time that I lost interest in them. 'Waiting For A Miracle' is a superb early 80's new wave/indie album, and includes some of my favourite songs of theirs, and the other two Polydor records have their moments, but as their best period was between 1979 and 1982, I've collected some of their hard-to-find singles, b-sides and out-takes from that time, and listening to them should convey what a great little band they were.



Track listing

01 Red Planet (single 1979)
02 I Get Excited (b-side of 'Red Planet')
03 Specimen No. 2 (b-side of 'Red Planet')
04 Home Is The Range (b-side of 'Total War' 1980)  
05 Work (previously unreleased)
06 We Were (b-side of 'Independence Day' 1980)
07 Eye Of The Lens (single 1981)
08 At Sea (b-side of 'Eye Of The Lens')
09 Another World (b-side of 'Eye Of The Lens' 12") 
10 Do The Empty House (single 1981)
11 It's History (single 1982)
12 Red Planet Revisited (b-side of 'Do The Empty House')
13 For Your Information (previously unreleased)
14 Private Party (b-side of 'After The Rain' 1982)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Bang Bang Machine - A Charmed Life (1996)

Following the release and critical acclaim of their first two EP's, and one further single in 'Technologica', Bang Bang Machine released their debut album 'Eternal Happiness' in 1994, which included just one song from each of the EP's alongside a number of new recordings. More singles followed in 1995, and a second album 'Amphibian' was issued later that year, but soon afterwards the band split, leaving a small, but always intriguing body of work. The 'Geek' EP had attracted the attention of John Peel, who offered them a session in 1992, where they recorded two tracks from their records alongside two new songs. In 1993 they appeared on the Channel 4 programme 'The Word' performing 'Technologica', and they were also featured in the 'Volume' magazine/CD series, contributing a cover of T. Rex's 'Life's A Gas', which later turned up as a b-side to their 'Give You Anything' single. They made the unusual choice of having different songs on the b-sides of some of their 7" singles, meaning that songs such as 'I Smile' and '(You're No) Good To Yourself' only appear on vinyl and not any of their CDs. For this second post from the band I've collected the 1992 John Peel session, the otherwise unreleased title track from that first album, a couple of those 7" b-sides, and an extended take of their first album cover of Psychic TV's 'Godstar', for a companion album to 'Geek Love' which completes the discography for this short-lived but under-rated band. 



Track listing 

01 Justine (John Peel session 1992)
02 Monkey (John Peel session 1992)
03 A Charmed Life (John Peel session 1992)
04 Say It Again Joe (John Peel session 1992)
05 Eternal Happiness (previously unreleased 1994)
06 Life's A Gas (b-side of 'Give You Anything' 7" 1994)
07 (You're No) Good To Yourself (b-side of 'Love It Bleeds' 7" 1995)
08 Godstar (b-side of 'Show Me Your Pain' CD 1995)
09 I Smile (b-side of 'Show Me Your Pain' 7" 1996)

Enjoy / Enjoy

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

The Dudley Moore Trio - A Tribute To Gershwin (1981)

When I posted the Peter Cook & Dudley Moore album 'By Appointment', I mentioned that I was a massive fan of Moore's work as a jazz pianist, and have all of his jazz trio albums on vinyl, even the impossible to find ones. In 1981 he performed a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, which was a tribute to George Gershwin, and it included his trio's interpretations of some of Gershwin's best-loved songs, as well as others performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, and also a couple of collaborations between them both. The concert was filmed, and you can see the whole thing on Youtube, but I wanted to hear just Dudley's contributions on their own, so I've extracted his jazz trio pieces from the concert, and have included one of the orchestral pieces, which is a stunning version of 'Rhapsody In Blue'. Although it's a live recording, I've removed the audience noise wherever possible, but when they applaud a piece that they recognise halfway through a track I've left it in. If you're a fan of jazz and have never heard The Dudley Moore Trio then you don't know what you're missing, and you need to rectify this as quickly as possible.    



Track listing

01 It Ain't Necessarily So
02 I Loves You Porgy / Bess, You Is My Woman Now
03 Swanee / They Can't Take That Away From Me
04 Embraceable You / Lady Be Good
05 But Not For Me / Someone To Watch Over Me / Love Walked In
06 Concerto In F / 'S Wonderful / The Man I Love
07 Summertime
08 Rhapsody In Blue (with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra) 

Enjoy / Enjoy