Saturday, May 21, 2022

Simon Dupree & the Big Sound - BBC Sessions (1966-1969)

Here's something so rare that I'm kind of amazed that it exists. First off, have you ever heard of the British band Simon Dupree and the Big Sound ?I doubt it. since they're not well known. But if you have, it's probably for their 1967 single "Kites," which was a top ten hit in Britain. Or, you might know them because they changed their name, made some personnel changes, and became the 1970s prog rock group Gentle Giant.

If you like Gentle Giant, be warned that this sounds nothing like them. Simon Dupree and the Big Sound started as an R&B group, like so many British bands in the early and mid-1960s. Then, as tastes changed, they went in more of a psychedelic and/or pop direction, while still keeping some of their R&B roots. There's virtually no hints of prog rock here. However, the main people in both bands were very talented, and this is good for the type of music that it is, with lots of period flavor.

Here's the Wikipedia link, if you want to know more:

Simon Dupree and the Big Sound - Wikipedia 

Fun fact: nobody in the band was actually named "Simon Dupree!" Apparently, early on, they changed their name to that in order to please some rich guy who was bankrolling them at the time. He drifted out of the picture, but they kept the name since they were building a reputation with it. 

Nothing here has been officially released. That's putting it mildly, because I had to dig deep to find this music and make it. Because this band is so little known today, nobody seems to have had these BBC versions anywhere. I found them on transcription reels of entire BBC shows. Then I had to extract the relevant songs and clean them up. By cleaning them up, I'm referring to my usual policy of removing the BBC DJ talking over the music with the audio editing program X-Minus. I had to do that for 12 of the songs, the ones with "[Edit]" in their names.

All the songs here come from BBC studio sessions, with one exception. The first song, "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," comes from a BBC TV show, and featured the band in concert. The sound quality on that one is a bit lower than the rest, which is otherwise uniformly very good.

If you're not familiar with this band, but you're interested in discovering some 1960s bands you'd missed, this serves as an effective "best of " collection. All of their best songs are here, plus there are some fun cover versions that they never put on record, like "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star," "Lie, Beg, Borrow and Steal," and "Carolina in My Mind."

This album is 45 minutes long.

01 Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
02 I See the Light [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
03 Love (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
04 Reservations (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
05 Ain't That a Lot of Love [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
06 Day Time, Night Time [Each and Every Day] [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
07 There's a Little Picture Playhouse (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
08 Kites (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
09 Whatcha Gonna Do (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
10 So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
11 For Whom the Bell Tolls [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
12 Stained Glass Window [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
13 Lie, Beg, Borrow and Steal [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
14 Thinking about My Life [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
15 Broken Hearted Pirates [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
16 The Eagle Flies Tonight [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
17 Groundhog [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)
18 Carolina in My Mind [Edit] (Simon Dupree & the Big Sound)

Since this band isn't well known these days, I consider myself lucky to be able to find a good color photo of them. I don't know where or when this is from. The original version I found have the color intensity way oversaturated, I guess to make their brightly colored clothes to look even brighter. I toned that down, so hopefully it should look more accurate now. Oh, and I took the lettering at the top from one of their single covers.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Mary Hopkin - BBC Sessions, Volume 1 (1968-1970)

The BBC sessions keep on coming! This time, it's Mary Hopkin's turn. This is the first of two volumes.

British singer Mary Hopkin came out of nowhere in 1968 to have the worldwide smash hit "Those Were the Days." For the next three years or so, she was a big pop star, before basically retiring from the spotlight. She didn't put out much music during that time frame, releasing only two studio albums and a few singles. But it turns out she did a lot of songs for the BBC that she never put on record, and everything here remains officially unreleased.

All but one song here was recorded for the BBC. The one exception is "Love Is the Sweetest Thing," which was done for the Ed Sullivan TV show. Most of the BBC songs were done in typical BBC sessions. 

However, the last six songs are different. Hopkin was such a big star that she was the host of a BBC TV series that lasted for six half-hour episodes. Each episode had a slightly different title, which showed the theme for that show. For instance, there are songs here from the shows "In the Land of... Films," "In the Land of... Legend," and "In the Land of... Theatre." So, for instance, in the "Films" episode she sang famous songs from movies, and in the "Theatre" episode she sang famous songs from musicals. The show was mainly aimed at children, and the other episodes were "Books," "Nursery Rhymes," and "Pantomime."

She sang about six songs per episode, and virtually all the songs done for this show were never done by Hopkin on record or even in concert. Unfortunately, it seems the vast majority of such performances have been lost. At least I was able to find and include six of them.

I didn't include any of the songs from that TV show in the stray tracks albums I made. Most of the rest of the songs are performances of her hits and album tracks and such. But some others are also exclusive here: "Can I Believe," 'You're Everything You Need," "All My Trials," and "Three Ships."

Six of the songs suffered from the usual BBC problem around this time of the DJs talking over the music (the ones with "[Edit]" in their titles). I did the usual thing of using the X-Minus audio editing program to wipe the talking while keeping the underlying music.

This album is 50 minutes long.

01 The House of the Rising Sun [Edit] (Mary Hopkin)
02 Those Were the Days (Mary Hopkin)
03 Morning of My Life [Edit] (Mary Hopkin)
04 Turn, Turn, Turn [To Everything There Is a Season] [Edit] (Mary Hopkin)
05 Goodbye [Edit] (Mary Hopkin)
06 Plaisir d'Amour [Edit] (Mary Hopkin)
07 Love Is the Sweetest Thing (Mary Hopkin)
08 All My Trials (Mary Hopkin)
09 Three Ships (Mary Hopkin)
11 I'm Going to Fall in Love Again (Mary Hopkin)
12 You're Everything You Need (Mary Hopkin)
13 Can I Believe (Mary Hopkin)
14 Knock, Knock Who's There [Edit] (Mary Hopkin)
15 Allentown Jail (Mary Hopkin)
16 Over the Rainbow (Mary Hopkin)
17 Guinevere (Mary Hopkin)
18 Edelweiss (Mary Hopkin)
19 Wouldn't It Be Loverly (Mary Hopkin)
20 Try to Remember (Mary Hopkin)

The cover photo shows Hopkin performing in Britain in 1968. I don't know any other details.

The Nice - BBC Sessions, Volume 3 (1969-1970)

Here's the third and final album of the British band the Nice performing for the BBC.

The first two volumes mostly consisted of songs from an official album called "BBC Sessions." That's not the case at all here. The first two songs are unreleased, and not from the BBC. "She Belongs to Me" comes from a Norwegian TV show, and "Hang On to a Dream" is from the German TV show "Beat Club." In both cases, those are interesting cover versions the band did, but not on the BBC, so luckily I was able to find other TV versions with good sound quality.

The remaining songs are from BBC studio sessions, and are officially released. Tracks 3 through 5 come from the album "America - the BBC Sessions," and the last two are bonus tracks from the "Elegy" album.

The main figure in the band, Keith Emerson joined Emerson, Lake and Palmer when the Nice broke up in 1970. Emerson, Lake and Palmer went on to be a leading British prog rock band. One would think they would have been a prime candidate for BBC sessions or live shows, but I can't find any recordings of that. 

This album is 47 minutes long.

01 She Belongs to Me (Nice)
02 Hang On to a Dream (Nice)
03 St. Thomas [Edit] (Nice with Roy Harper) (Nice)
04 For Example [Edit] (Nice)
05 Five Bridges Suite (Nice)
06 Country Pie (Nice)
07 Pathetique [Symphony No. 6, 3rd Movement] (Nice)

The cover photo shows the band in concert somewhere in 1969, after they went down to having just three members.

The Herd - BBC Sessions (1967-1969)

In putting together albums for my big BBC project, I've discovered some interesting bands that I'd previously overlooked. One such band is the British 1960s band the Herd. Today, they're best known as the band that started Peter Frampton's music career, as he was their lead singer and guitarist. They weren't around long, but I think this album is a good summary of their career.

The Herd was considered a singles band, but one with psychedelic influences. Their biggest hit, "From the Underworld," is a good example. It's both poppy and psychedelic, telling a version of the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus. That song, plus "Paradise Lost" and "I Don't Want Our Loving to Die" were all hits in Britain, but the band never cracked the charts at all in the US. 

I don't believe any of the band's BBC performances have been officially released, but they've come out on "grey market," a.k.a. unauthorized, albums. All the performances sound just as good as official releases. The only snag is the usual one from BBC recordings of this time period, namely, BBC DJs talking over the music. This affected more than half of the songs here (the ones with "[Edit]" in their names). As usual, I used the audio editing program X-Minus to wipe that talking while keeping the underlying music.

One thing I really enjoy about BBC recordings from this time period is how often artists would play songs that they otherwise never put on record, usually cover versions. That's the case here, with songs like "I Want You," "[Get Your Kicks On] Route 66," "Stagger Lee," "Nitty Gritty," and "Hitch-Hike."

Around 1969, the rock music scene was getting a lot heavier. Peter Frampton was still only about 17 years old, and had become a teen idol for his youthful good looks. He felt the band's image was holding him back, so he quit the Herd and joined the new band "Humble Pie" instead, going in more of a hard rock direction. The last song here, "The Game," was done without him. But the band's commercial fortunes had been on the decline already, and they broke up shortly after that single failed too.

This album is one hour long.

01 From the Underworld (Herd)
02 I Like It like That [Edit] (Herd)
03 I Can Fly (Herd)
04 Paradise Lost [Edit] (Herd)
05 I Want You (Herd)
06 [Get Your Kicks On] Route 66 [Edit] (Herd)
07 She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not [Edit] (Herd)
08 Mixed Up Minds [Edit] (Herd)
09 Mine Exclusively [Edit] (Herd)
10 Our Fairytale [Edit] (Herd)
11 Oo-Poo-Pa-Doo (Herd)
12 I Don't Want Our Loving to Die (Herd)
13 Stagger Lee (Herd)
14 Sunshine Cottage [Edit] (Herd)
15 Love Letters [Edit] (Herd)
16 The Purple God [Edit] (Herd)
17 Miss Jones [Instrumental] (Herd)
18 Nitty Gritty [Edit] (Herd)
19 The Name Certainly Rings a Bell (Herd)
20 You Don't Love Me Anymore [Edit] (Herd)
21 Hitch-Hike [Edit] (Herd)
22 The Game (Herd)

I don't know the details of where and when this cover photo was taken. Frampton is in the blue jacket on the far left.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - BBC Sessions, Volume 3 (1969-1971)

Here's the third and final Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich BBC sessions album. If you enjoy the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sound, you might be interested in this one, even if you skipped the first two, for reasons that will be explained below.

It's too band the band's commercial fortunes declined drastically around this time, and they broke up soon thereafter, because this is when they started to get really good and interesting, in my opinion. Dave Dee left the band near the end of 1969. Although he was a lead singer, his departure wasn't a big loss in my opinion, judging by the paltry results of his short-lived solo career. 

The rest of the band carried on. No doubt tired by their unwieldy name, they renamed themselves "D, B, M & T." They put out an album in 1970 called "Fresh Ear." It contained mostly original material instead of songs by professional songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, which had been the norm for them up until then. I'll quote from one review at "A highly underrated album. Don't be fooled by the personnel here - this is light years ahead of the quirky but dated late 60's pop that Dave Dee and co. were doing." I think that album is so strong that I'm tempted to post it here with some of the stray tracks they did around that time.

But anyway, the first five songs here date to 1969, when Dave Dee was still part of the band. The next two songs are also still from 1969, but are with DBMT only - they're versions of an A- and B-side. Then there's a switch to the "Fresh Ear" songs by DBMT. Note the covers of "Helplessly Hoping" by Crosby, Stills and Nash and "Bluebird" by Buffalo Springfield (a band led, of course, by Stills and Young). On the last volume, they also did "Mr. Soul" by Buffalo Springfield. Clearly, they were heavily influenced by the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sound, and that's a very good thing, in my book.

The last three songs are from an April 1971 BBC session. I'm just speculating here, but I think Dave Dee reunited with his band mates for this session, because two out of the three songs, "Wedding Bells" and "Sweden," were the A- and B-sides of a solo single Dave Dee just released. Yet all three songs have the lust multi-part (and very CSNY influenced) harmony vocals that DBMT were doing at the time. If anyone knows for sure who was involved, I'd be curious to find out. (For simplicity's sake, I've used the same band name for all the tracks here, even though some should be sans Dave Dee.)

In retrospect, it probably would have been smart for DMBT to have given themselves a totally different name and ditched their 1960s past entirely. Because despite the quality of their 1970 album, they weren't popular enough to put out another album, only a few singles, and faded away, breaking up in 1973. The band has gotten back as a nostalgia act in the years since, sometimes with Dave Dee and sometimes not, but they never again put out any of their own new material.

By the way, three of the songs have "[Edit]" in their titles, due to BBC DJs still talking over the music into the early 1970s. Sigh! I did the usual thing of wiping out the talking using the audio editing program X-Minus.

This album is 42 minutes long.

01 Don Juan (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
02 Run Colorado (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
03 Bora Bora (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
04 Snake in the Grass (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
05 Tonight Today (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
06 Bad News [Edit] (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
07 Talk to You [Edit] (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
08 Mr. President (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
09 Rain [Edit] (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
10 Leader of a Rock and Roll Band (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
11 Helplessly Hoping (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
12 Bluebird (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
13 Wedding Bells (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
14 Sweden (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)

Because the band dropped drastically in popularity from 1969 onwards, I couldn't find any good photos of them that weren't already used on official releases. So this photo dates from 1968, an appearance on the "Morecambe and Wise" TV show.

Jethro Tull - BBC Sessions, Volume 2 (1969-1975)

Here's the second and final of two volumes featuring Jethro Tull performing for the BBC.

The first five songs here are from 1969 and 1970, and the last four are from 1975. There's a pretty big gap there of five years. The band did a lot of BBC sessions in 1968 and 1969, and there are a bunch of other TV appearances and well-recorded concerts from those years. Then, for pretty much the entire early 1970s, which in my opinion was the band's creative and commercial peak, it seems the band did next to no promotion. Furthermore, there are very few really well recorded concerts from those years, officially released or on bootleg. 

It's just my speculation, but perhaps the band did so well during that time period that they felt the music would sell itself and they didn't need much promotion. Their albums regularly made the top ten in Britain and the US, and two albums even made it to number one in the US. Then, as their sales started to go down a bit as the 1970s went on, they decided they needed to push harder, so they resorted to doing things like BBC sessions again.

I tried my best to close the gap by finding TV or radio show performances in the early 1970s, but I didn't find much. The first five songs actually aren't from the BBC, but from TV appearances in France, Germany, and Britain. All of them sound fine, but only "With You There to Help Me" is officially released, on an obscure compilation of performances from the German "Beat Club" TV show.

Speaking of what's released or not, the band did two BBC sessions in 1975. Unfortunately, they mostly did the same songs. Tracks 7 through 9 have been officially released. "Requiem" is the one from the other unreleased session that's different, so I added that one. 

These are all the BBC studio sessions, at least until many years later. However, the band played full shows that were broadcast on the BBC in 1977, 1978, and 1980, and have done more occasionally in the many years since then. The 1978 show has been officially released as "Live at Madison Square Garden 1978." My interest in the band's music declines a lot after around that time. But I could post the 1977 show as a Volume 3 here if there's enough interest.

This album is 52 minutes long.

01 Living in the Past (Jethro Tull)
02 Sweet Dreams - For a Thousand Mothers (Jethro Tull)
03 Witch's Promise (Jethro Tull)
04 Teacher (Jethro Tull)
05 With You There to Help Me (Jethro Tull)
06 Requiem (Jethro Tull)
07 Minstrel in the Gallery (Jethro Tull)
08 Cold Wind to Valhalla (Jethro Tull)
09 Aqualung (Jethro Tull)

The cover photo dates from around 1970. I don't know anything more than that.

Free - BBC Sessions, Volume 3 (1970-1972)

Here's the third and final album of Free at the BBC. This one was trickier to put together than the other two.

Free didn't last that long, compared to other bands like them. Formed in mid-1968, the band made it big in 1970 with their classic hit "All Right Now." But then they broke up in 1971, due to personality conflicts. However, they reunited in 1972 and put out more music, only to break up for good in 1973. A key figure during these troubled years was lead guitarist Paul Kossoff. He had a growing drug addiction problem, and the band's condition rose and fell with his successes and failures with beating that addiction. Eventually, drugs got the best of him, and he died in 1976 at only the age of 25.

The band continued to put out quality albums during this time, with a live album in 1971, then studio albums in 1972 and 1973. But on stage they were hit or miss, with Kossoff often unable to perform well, or sometimes failing to show up at all. Perhaps because of that, the band only had two BBC sessions in 1971, and none after that. So their last two years as a band aren't as well represented in this series.

That's not to say that aren't represented at all. During the band's first break-up in mid-1971, lead vocalist Paul Rodgers formed a new band called Peace. This band played a few concerts, but didn't last long, since Free reunited in early 1972. However, during Peace's brief existence, they did play one BBC session. It's never been officially released, but it exists with good sound quality on bootleg. Two of the three new songs they did, "Heartbreaker" and "Seven Angels," would be put on a Free album in very similar versions, though they would go on their 1973 album instead of their 1972 one. "Like Water" would be done by Rodgers next band, Bad Company, in 1977.

There are two famous songs the band did towards the end of their career: "Heartbreaker" and "Wishing Well." I wanted to include both, so this BBC series could also serve as a "best of" for the band. For "Heartbreaker" there was no problem because it was done during that Peace BBC session. But I couldn't find any instance of "Wishing Well" played on TV or radio shows. So instead I found the best sounding concert bootleg I could find with that song on it, from late 1972, and used that version. I stripped out the audience noise at the end so it would fit in with the sound of the other songs here.

So yeah, this volume was a little more tricky to put together. This time, only five of the 11 performances have been officially released (tracks 2 through 6). I also wanted to include "The Stealer," another key song for the band. They never did it in the studio for the BBC (though there's a live version on Volume 2), but I found an unreleased version from another TV show appearance. And "My Brother Jake" was done for the BBC, but for some reason wasn't included on the official album.

By the way, for the songs "Be My Friend" and "Ride on a Pony," the official album included several takes. They did the song a few times before they felt they got it right. I found these extra versions unnecessary, especially since most of them were incomplete. So I only picked what I considered the best take of each one. For "Be My Friend" that was take 2, and for "Ride on a Pony" that was take 5.

This album is 48 minutes long.

01 The Stealer (Free)
02 All Right Now (Free)
03 Fire and Water (Free)
04 Be My Friend (Free)
05 Ride on a Pony (Free)
06 Get Where I Belong (Free)
07 My Brother Jake (Free)
08 Heartbreaker (Peace [Free])
09 Like Water (Peace [Free])
10 Seven Angels (Peace [Free])
11 Wishing Well (Free)

The cover photo shows the band hanging out backstage in 1972.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Nice - BBC Sessions, Volume 2 (1968-1969)

Here's the second of three albums of the Nice performing for the BBC.

I'm not a big fan of the Nice, although I appreciate that they certainly were a musically talented and innovative group. So I don't have much to say, except to point out the details of these recordings.

As with Volume 1, the vast majority of the performances here are officially released, from the album "BBC Sessions." But just as I added one unreleased song to that volume, I did the same here. 

That extra song is "Get to You," which was originally done by the Byrds. It comes from a BBC studio session, so one would think it should have fit on the official album. But I suppose it wasn't included because they did the song twice. Normally, I wouldn't include two versions of the same song, except this version is drastically different from the version I included in Volume 1. The quickest way to explain how different they are is to point out that version is three and a half minutes long, and this one is eight and a half minutes long!

This album is 44 minutes long.

01 Little Arabella (Nice)
02 Happy Freunds (Nice)
03 Intermezzo from the Korelia Suite (Nice)
04 Brandenburger [Instrumental] [Edit] (Nice)
05 Get to You [Second Version] [Edit] (Nice)
06 One of Those People (Nice)
07 Azrael Revisted (Nice)
08 Blues for the Prairies [Instrumental] (Nice)
09 Diary of an Empty Day (Nice) 

As with the photo for Volume 1, I don't know where or when this is from exactly. But just like that photo, this one shows four band members, so it has to be from the summer of 1968 or earlier, because the band went down to three members after that.

Beverley Knight - Soul Covers, Volume 1 (1998-2007)

Here's something that I'm especially happy to post. I'd never even heard of British soul singer Beverley Knight until a weeks ago (writing this in May 2022). I randomly came across a YouTube video of her singing "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," and I was extremely impressed. I could immediately tell she has one of those rare outstanding voices, the kind that could go toe to toe with Aretha Franklin or Janis Joplin.

So I looked more into her music career. It turns out she's had a fairly successful career in Britain, starting in 1995, where she's had a handful of Top 40 hits, though no huge smashes. She's even received a knighthood from the queen for her contributions to music. However, she hasn't made the charts anywhere else, and since I'm American, I'd missed her completely. In addition to her music career, she's had a lot of lead roles with singing theater parts. You can read more about her career here at her Wikipedia entry (which, by the way, says she's "widely labelled as one of Britain's greatest soul singers"):

Beverley Knight - Wikipedia

She could go far just on her voice, but it turns out she's a songwriter too, and has written or co-written most of the songs on her albums. I have issues with most R&B music from the 1980s on for a variety of reasons. To her credit, she avoids many problems with that music, such as bad production. She also doesn't oversing with vocal gymnastics that show off one's skills but don't actually serve the song (a continuing trend I blame on the huge success Whitney Houston had with it). That said, I'm more interested in her cover versions of classic songs, because it's a very, very high bar to come up with material as good as the classics.

So I went searching, mainly through YouTube, and found that she's performed enough cover versions for four volumes in this series. I deliberately didn't include any of the performances from her studio albums. However, I did find live versions of some songs from those albums, and I included those. I also included a couple of covers that were only released as B-sides, and well as some "stray tracks," like songs from various artists collections.

ON the other albums in this series, the vast majority of the songs are unreleased versions, usually from in-person radio show appearances or concerts. But this volume is unusual in that only five of the performances are unreleased. The sound quality of those is high, just as good as the released stuff.

One thing I like about her is that she has great taste in music, judging by her covers choices. Here's a list of the original artists for the songs here:

01 Do Right Woman, Do Right Man - Aretha Franklin
02 Think [About It] - Lyn Collins
03 Hardtimes - Baby Huey
04 Feelin' Good - Nina Simone
05 Love’s in Need of Love Today - Stevie Wonder
06 Rock DJ - Robbie Williams
07 Is This Love - Bob Marley
08 Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin
09 Where in the World - Jools Holland
10 Angels - Robbie Williams
11 Piece of My Heart - Janis Joplin
12 Sweet Thing - Rufus with Chaka Khan
13 Endless Love - Lionel Richie
14 Time Is on My Side - Irma Thomas / Rolling Stones

And here's the typical song list:

01 Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (Beverley Knight)
02 Think [About It] (Beverley Knight)
03 Hardtimes (Courtney Pine with Beverley Knight)
04 Feelin' Good (Beverley Knight)
05 Love’s in Need of Love Today (Beverley Knight)
06 Rock DJ (Beverley Knight)
07 Is This Love (Beverley Knight & Jeff Beck)
08 Chain of Fools (Joe Cocker & Beverley Knight)
09 Where in the World (Jools Holland & Beverley Knight)
10 Angels (Beverley Knight)
11 Piece of My Heart (Beverley Knight)
12 Sweet Thing (Beverley Knight)
13 Endless Love (Lionel Richie & Beverley Knight)
14 Time Is on My Side [Nashville Acoustic Version] (Beverley Knight)

This album is 52 minutes long.

The cover photo of her dates to 2005. The background was plain white and didn't look good to me, so I added in a different background.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Jethro Tull - BBC Sessions, Volume 1 (1968-1969)

Next up in my BBC project is Jethro Tull. This is a band I do like, but even though they're a band with a long career, they didn't do much at the BBC back in the 1960s and 1970s. The band was formed in 1968, and they did do some BBC sessions in 1968, and 1969. However, there isn't much after this, so there are only two volumes in this series.

For the time period featured here, roughly the first year of the band, they were more blues based than they would be later, when they had more success. You can see that blues influence here, especially with the cover of the blues classic "Call It Stormy Monday."

All the performances here have been officially released, though rather obscurely. They come from extra large deluxe editions of the band's first two albums. Luckily, none of the songs suffer from the usual problem with BBC recordings from this time period of DJs talking over parts of the music. I'm guessing this is because they were on jazz / blues themed radio shows where the DJs were more respectful of the music.

This album is 49 minutes long.

01 So Much Trouble (Jethro Tull)
02 My Sunday Feeling (Jethro Tull)
03 Serenade to a Cuckoo [Instrumental] (Jethro Tull)
04 Cat's Squirrel [Instrumental] (Jethro Tull)
05 A Song for Jeffrey (Jethro Tull)
06 Love Story (Jethro Tull)
07 Call It Stormy Monday (Jethro Tull)
08 Beggars' Farm (Jethro Tull)
09 Dharma for One [Instrumental] (Jethro Tull)
10 A New Day Yesterday (Jethro Tull)
11 Fat Man (Jethro Tull)
12 Nothing Is Easy (Jethro Tull)
13 Bouree [Instrumental] (Jethro Tull)

There are surprisingly few photos of the band from this time period, at least ones where they aren't wearing unusual costumes. The one I used comes from their performance in the Rolling Stones led "Rock and Roll Circus" concert in 1968.

The Nice - BBC Sessions, Volume 1 (1967-1968)

I have to say up front that I'm not much of a fan of the 1960s British band the Nice. They had their moments, but they also suffered from some of the later excesses of prog rock. In fact, their leader, Keith Emerson, would go on to be a part of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, a band that also had their moments but was notorious for prog rock excesses. That said, I'm committed to cleaning up and organizing all the 1960s BBC sessions from key bands that I can find, so here we are. I found enough for three volumes.

There is an official BBC album for the band, simply called "BBC Sessions." All of the songs here come from that, with one exception. That exception is "Azrael (Angel of Death)." I tried to augment their BBC performances with other songs done on other TV or radio shows. That performance is unreleased, and comes from the French TV show "Bouton Rouge."

More "arty" bands like this one tended to get on different BBC shows, which meant less contact with DJ Brian Matthew and his annoying habit of talking over the music. The first three songs do have the usual edits from such talking, but they're the only ones.

The strength of the Nice was in their instrumental work, not so much their vocals. So it's not that surprising that six of the eleven songs here are instrumentals.

This album is 44 minutes long.

01 Flower King of Flies [Instrumental] [Edit] (Nice)
02 Sombrero Sam [Instrumental] [Edit] (Nice)
03 Rondo [Instrumental] [Edit] (Nice)
04 Azrael [Angel of Death] (Nice)
05 Get to You (Nice)
06 Brandenburger [Instrumental] (Nice)
07 Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon (Nice)
08 America [Instrumental] (Nice)
09 Aries (Nice)
10 Lumpy Gravy [Instrumental] (Nice)
11 Ars Long Vita Brevis (Nice)

I don't know when or where the cover photo comes from. But the band had four members until the summer of 1968, when they became a threesome. Since there are four members in the photo, it must be from before the summer of 1968.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - BBC Sessions, Volume 2 (1967-1968)

Here's the second of three volumes of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich (DDBMT) performing for the BBC.

As I mentioned with Volume 1, I'm not a big DDBMT, but they did have talent, and their songs have a lot of period charm. I think they got better and more creative as they went on, even though their popularity declined. This comes from a time period when they were still very successful. In fact, "The Legend of Xanadu," featured here, was their biggest hit, reaching number one in Britain. 

Their popularity at this time is a bit surprising because their poppy style was increasingly at odds with the rapidly changing musical styles in 1967 and 1968. They didn't totally turn psychedelic, or go hard rock, or fit into other popular musical trends. But they did bend and grow some even as they stayed poppy. You can get a taste of that with the cover songs here: "If I Were a Carpenter" by Tim Hardin, "Paint It, Black," by the Rolling Stones, "Mr. Soul" by Buffalo Springfield, and "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. The only one of those they put on record was "If I Were a Carpenter."

This album is 45 minutes long.

01 [You've Been A] Bad Girl (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
02 Here's a Heart [Edit] (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
03 Dr. Feelgood (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
04 If I Were a Carpenter (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
05 The Sun Goes Down (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
06 Zabadak (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
07 The Legend of Xanadu (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
08 The Tide Is Turning (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
09 Please (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
10 Mama Mama (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
11 Paint It, Black (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
12 Last Night in Soho [Edit] (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
13 Mr. Soul [Edit] (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
14 Still Life (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
15 The Wreck of the Antoinette (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
16 Just Dropped In [To See What Condition My Condition Was In] [Edit] (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)

The cover photo is a promo photo related to an appearance on the German TV show "Beat Club" in 1967.

Carole King - No Easy Way Down - Various Songs (1968-1970)

I just updated two of the three albums I've posted of Carole King's excellent demos. Both of those albums have one previously unreleased and unbootlegged demo added. I thought about making an announcement post about this, but decided instead I would post something else by King and mention it there. 

I looked around for what else to post from her, and came up with this one. One might call it a stray tracks album, but really, all but one of the songs are from two studio albums: "Now That Everything's Been Said," released in 1968, and "Writer," released in 1970. They were her first two solo albums, and she was still finding her way with them, so they're mixed bags. But if you combine the best from both, it makes for a very strong album.

Of course, the next album she released was "Tapestry" in 1971. Her first two albums didn't even make the charts, partly due to the fact that she didn't perform concerts or do other promotion. But "Tapestry" would go on to be one of the best selling albums of all time, with at least 25 million copies sold, and would be highly critically acclaimed, ranking 25 on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 best albums of all time.

In truth, her first two albums weren't that different in terms of production or song quality. King is one of the most commercially successful songwriters on all time, and had big hits since the early 1960s. For these two albums, she tended to look backwards more than forwards, frequently covering her own songs that had been hits for others. For instance, "Wasn't Born to Follow" was made famous by the Byrds, "Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll)" by Blood, Sweat and Tears, "Goin' Back" by Dusty Sprinfield (and the Byrds), "I Can't Hear You (No More)" by Betty Everett, "Up on the Roof" by the Drifters, and "Child of Mine" has been covered by at least 25 artists. But she also included some newer songs that dealt with more mature themes and fit better into the emerging singer-songwriter mode.

In my opinion, had King put together the best songs from these two albums after her huge post "Tapestry" success, it would have sold many millions. 

By the way, the last song is not from either of those albums. Instead, it was a song she wrote and gave to Merry Clayton to release in 1971. She only did a version in concert in 1971, which was released decades later. I removed the audience noise to make it fit in with the other tracks.

This album is 50 minutes long.

01 Snow Queen (Carole King)
02 Wasn't Born to Follow (Carole King)
03 Now That Everything's Been Said (Carole King)
04 Paradise Alley (Carole King)
05 Why Are You Leaving (Carole King)
06 Hi-De-Ho [That Old Sweet Roll] (Carole King)
07 No Easy Way Down (Carole King)
08 Child of Mine (Carole King)
09 Goin' Back (Carole King)
10 Eventually (Carole King)
11 Raspberry Jam (Carole King)
12 I Can't Hear You [No More] (Carole King)
13 Up on the Roof (Carole King)
14 After All This Time (Carole King)

For the cover photo, I could have used the cover of one of the two albums, but I thought that would be boring. Instead, I saw a promotional photo of her from 1970 that I really liked. It was in black and white, so I colorized it.

Free - BBC Sessions, Volume 2- In Concert (1970)

Here's the second of three volumes of Free at the BBC. The first and third ones are studio sessions. This second one consists entirely of songs done live before an audience.

I didn't put a date in the title, because the material here is from two BBC concerts, not one. The first four songs were done for "John Peel's Sunday Concert" in January 1970. This totals 22 minutes. The remaining seven songs are also for "John Peel's Sunday Concert," but in July 1970. This totals 35 minutes. Luckily, there are no duplicates in the two shows.

All the performances have been officially released on the album "Live at the BBC," so the sound quality is excellent. However, there are a couple of problems. One is that there is no banter between songs. I'm sure there was originally, probably BBC DJ serving as emcee. I don't know if the recordings of those weren't saved, or if there was an editorial decision not to include them on the official release. If anyone has more, let me know, and I'll add it in.

The second problem is one that I was able to fix:

 two of the songs faded out a little early, and one song had no applause at the end. For the fading out, I'm pretty sure it was only the very tail ends of the songs. I did some editing to give them satisfying sounding endings, and added applause for them. I also added applause for the song that was missing it. These three songs are the ones with "[Edit]" in their names. 

The two shows up total total 57 minutes.

01 The Hunter (Free)
02 Woman (Free)
03 Free Me (Free)
04 Remember [Edit] (Free)
05 Fire and Water (Free)
06 Be My Friend (Free)
07 Ride on a Pony (Free)
08 Mr. Big (Free)
09 Don't Say You Love Me [Edit] (Free)
10 Woman (Free)
11 All Right Now [Edit] (Free)

The photo shows lead singer Paul Rodgers in front of a crowd at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

James Gang - Pop2, Taverne de l'Olympia, Paris, France, 6-20-1971

The other day, I was listening to music by James Gang, the group led by Joe Walsh in the late 1960s until 1971, and I felt the urge to hear something by them that I hadn't heard before. So I went to check the wonderful world of bootlegs. But it turns out there's very, very little that has excellent sound quality. So I gathered all of the best sounding stuff and made a live album out of it. Five out of the nine songs come from a show broadcast by the French TV show "Pop2," so that's what I'm calling this. But about half of the total length comes from other sources.

As I was saying, it's shocking how little well recorded live music exists from James Gang, unless there's some buried in record company vaults that's still locked away. (I speak of the time Joe Walsh led the band until late 1971, since in my opinion he was the heart of the band, being the lead singer, lead guitarist, and main songwriter.) There is one official live album from 1971 called "Live in Concert." But that, plus these songs here, seem to be all there is in soundboard or radio show quality. There are some audience bootlegs, including one from the Fillmore West in 1970 that purports to be a soundboard, but the sound quality isn't up to what I would expect. 

To make matters worse, although the vast majority of classic rock acts from this time period have released bonus tracks, deluxe editions, super deluxe editions, box sets, and so on, James Gang hasn't had any of that at all. As far as I can tell, there's been no archival material released whatsoever, ever since the time Walsh left the band. I highly doubt this is due to bad blood between the band members, since the original James Gang has gotten together for musical reunions every now and then. Maybe Walsh just isn't interested, since it seems to be exactly the same situation with his solo career.

Whatever the case may be, Walsh has had legit "guitar hero" skills, so it's a shame there aren't more recorded examples of him wailing on his guitar. At least we have some very good examples here. The first song is an odd one. They took "Jeff's Boogie," a relatively short instrumental by the Yardbirds, and supersized it to the point that one might argue it's actually a medley of songs. One can definitely hear parts of the songs "Over, Under, Sideways, Down" and "Think about It" (both by the Yardbirds also) and "I Feel Fine" and "Blackbird" by the Beatles. It was done in a studio for a radio station in 1968, so there's no crowd noise.

The next two songs also date to 1968. By some random chance, the band was recorded in concert with high sound quality, even though it was just before they went to record their first album. There might be more recorded, but I doubt it because I checked all the usual places and this was all I could find. Note that "White Summer" is an instrumental by the Yardbirds (who seem to have been a big influence). Only a short bit of it is played at the end of a long version of "Bluebird," originally by Buffalo Springfield.

The remaining songs except for the last one come from "Pop2," the 1971 French TV show mentioned above. Unfortunately, it seems to have only been a half-hour long show, with time further reduced for introductions and commercials. There also were a couple interview sections between songs that I haven't included. So we're left with only 20 minutes of what must have been a longer show. The beginning of the first song, "Stop," is not included, but I edited it a way so that hopefully that loss doesn't sound so jarring. I also added some applause at the end (taken from one of the other songs), since there was a quick cut at the end with no applause. Happily, all the other songs appear to be complete and include the applause. 

A video of this can be found on YouTube (though I took it from a better quality source), so you can watch it as well. As far as I can tell, it's the only surviving film footage of James Gang from the Walsh time period, except for a performance of "Walk Away" on the German TV show "Beat Club." (I didn't include that because it's quite similar to the version of "Walk Away" from the Pop2 show.)

The last song, "Tend My Garden," comes from another 1971 bootleg, recorded in the Netherlands. Weirdly, there were only two songs on this bootleg, and the other one was a version of "The Bomber" that's version similar to the version from Pop2, so I didn't include it here.

If you add it all up, there are 55 minutes of music here. If anyone knows of other live recordings by the band in this time frame that has similar sound quality, let me know and I'll add it in.

01 Jeff's Boogie [Instrumental] (James Gang)
02 I'm a Man (James Gang)
03 Bluebird - White Summer (James Gang)
04 Stop [Edit] (James Gang)
05 Walk Away (James Gang)
06 The Bomber- Closet Queen - Bolero - Cast Your Fate to the Wind (James Gang)
07 Woman (James Gang)
08 Johnny B. Goode (James Gang)
09 Tend My Garden (James Gang)

The cover photo shows the band playing for the British TV show "Top of the Pops" in 1971.

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Allman Brothers Band - Demons - Various Songs (1985-1989)

Here's the next in my series of stray tracks albums for the Allman Brothers Band.

In 1982, the Allman Brothers Band broke up, and it seemed like they were done. Their musical style seemed out of date with musical trends of the time. They reunited for a few shows in 1986, but otherwise most of the 1980s were a lost decade for them. That started to change in 1987, when lead singer Gregg Allman had an unexpected hit with the song "I'm No Angel." Then, the band's career-spanning box set "Dreams" was released in 1988 and sold very well, showing there still were many fans interested in the band's music. As a result, they reunited and went on tour in 1989, remaining an active band until 2014, not long before Allman died in 2017.

The band put out an album of all new songs in 1990 called "Seven Turns." None of those songs were played in their 1989. However, they did play  five of the best songs from recent albums by band leaders Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts. These live recordings make up a majority of this album. I think it's nice to have Allman Brothers Band versions of solo songs like "I'm No Angel." Luckily, I was able to find a really good soundboard bootleg as a source. I managed to remove most of the audience noise, so these sound close to studio versions.

I've supplemented those with some other songs, so this can be a "best of" for the late 1980s. The first song, a cover of the blues classic "Key to the Highway," is by the whole band, and comes from one of their 1986 concerts. This was done as an encore during a benefit concert with some other big acts, so guitarists Mick Taylor, Stephen Stills, and Carlos Santana joined in, and adding guitar solos. Gregg Allman sang most of the song, but Stills sang a verse, and someone else sang another, though I'm not sure who that was (neither Taylor nor Santana were known to sing much).

For most of the other songs, I have a choice between live versions from bootlegs or the studio album versions. I generally chose the studio album versions, due to sound quality. Some of the solo albums around this time were marred by typical bad 1980s production, but not on these songs I chose. However, "Can't Get Over You" also comes from a live bootleg of a Gregg Allman concert, since the Allman Brothers Band never did that one.

Currently, I haven't put any more stray tracks albums of the band after this one. They put out three albums in the early 1990s, but then didn't do much new music after that, releasing only one more studio album in the last 20 years the band was together. I might be able to scrape together some live covers and solo material, but I haven't looked into that yet.

This album is 51 minutes long.

01 Key to the Highway (Allman Brothers Band with Mick Taylor, Stephen Stills & Carlos Santana)
02 Rain (Gregg Allman)
03 I'm No Angel (Allman Brothers Band)
04 Demons (Gregg Allman)
05 Loverman (Dickey Betts)
06 The Blues Ain't Nothin' (Allman Brothers Band)
07 Rock Bottom (Allman Brothers Band)
08 Can't Get Over You (Gregg Allman)
09 Just Before the Bullets Fly (Allman Brothers Band)
10 Duane's Tune [Instrumental] (Allman Brothers Band)

I couldn't find any good color photos of the band iu 1989. So I used one of them from 1991, which I figure is close enough, especially since they had the same band members. I took the band name design from some promotional material related to their 1989 tour.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

The Specials - BBC Sessions, Volume 3 (1980-1984)

This is the third and last of BBC sessions albums for the Specials.

The Specials in their late 1970s/early 1980s prime had two distinct phases. The change happened around 1981 with some big personnel changes. Most importantly, lead singer Terry Hall left with two others to form the band Fun Boy Three. But crucially, the main songwriter Jerry Dammers remained. The change was so significant that the band was renamed "Special A.K.A." But I prefer to still call them "the Specials" for simplicity's sake.

Anyway, after this change, the band hardly did any live appearances. One big problem was that Dammers wasn't much of a singer. So there tended to be guest singers, including some women, which was new for the band. The original line-up is still here on the first six songs, with Hall as lead singer.  

Six of the songs here are officially released, from the album "BBC Sessions" (tracks 3 through 5 and 7 through 9).  Those also are all proper BBC studio sessions. I've augmented them with songs from British TV shows. The first two songs and the seventh are from BBC shows. "Why" actually is an unreleased studio outtake. But I thought it was worth including, especially due to the lack of alternate versions of such songs from later in the band's career.

The last song, "Free Nelson Mandela," is particularly interesting. First of all, it's a classic song that had a powerful political effect. But what's interesting about this version is that it was actually performed with Elvis Costello, plus Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger from the English Beat. That was not the case on the studio version. If you listen carefully, Costello sings most of the lead vocals.

This album is 44 minutes long.

01 Do Nothing (Specials)
02 Man at C&A (Specials)
03 Sea Cruise (Specials)
04 Stereotype (Specials)
05 Racquel (Specials)
06 Why [Alternate Version] (Specials)
07 The Boiler (Specials)
08 Alcohol (Specials)
09 Lonely Crowd (Specials)
10 Bright Lights (Specials)
11 Free Nelson Mandela (Specials with Elvis Costello, Dave Wakeling & Ranking Roger) 

The cover photo is from 1981, before the personnel changes mentioned above.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Free - BBC Sessions, Volume 1 (1968-1970)

Next up for the BBC is the British band Free. The band's lead singer was Paul Rodgers, who went on to bigger things later, especially with the band Bad Company. Nowadays, Free isn't that well known, other than their classic hit "All Right Now." But they were a major British blue rock band, and got a lot of critical praise. 

In terms of BBC recordings, it turns out they did some studio sessions and some live sessions. They played many of the same songs live that they did in the studio. So I've created two volumes of their studio sessions and one of their live sessions. This is the first album of studio sessions.

All but two of the songs here come from an official album, called "Live at the BBC." The two exceptions are the last two songs. Those come from the German TV show "Beat Club," and are still unreleased. I've included those because a few key songs didn't happen to be done in the studio for the BBC.

All but the last two songs were recorded in 1968 or 1969, before the band hit it big with songs like "All Right Now" and "Fire and Water." At this point, the band's music was more steeped in the blues. Although their first two albums (both released in 1969) weren't as commercially successful as their later albums, they're their most critically acclaimed ones.

This album is 49 minutes long.

01 Waiting on You (Free)
02 Sugar for Mr. Morrison (Free)
03 I'm a Mover (Free)
04 Over the Green Hills (Free)
05 Songs of Yesterday (Free)
06 Broad Daylight (Free)
07 Woman (Free)
08 I'll Be Creepin' (Free)
09 Trouble on Double Time (Free)
10 Mouthful of Grass (Free)
11 Free Me (Free)
12 Mr. Big (Free)

I don't know when or where the cover photo comes from. If anyone knows, please tell us.

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - BBC Sessions, Volume 1 (1966-1967)

I have to say straight up that I'm not that big of a Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich fan. (Since that's such an unwieldy name, from now on I'll refer to them as DDBMT.) But I'm in the middle of a big BBC project, and I want to post all the music of artists who have had their music marred by BBC DJs talking over their songs. So I'm posting some music that I'm not crazy about, and this is one.

That said, it's not like I dislike DDBMT. Some of their hit songs are pretty good, and everything they did is bathed in that mid to late 1960s British Invasion sound that I really like. And I've come to appreciate them more after putting this BBC collection together (which spans three volumes). This first volume consists almost entirely of their hits and better album tracks, and isn't that revelatory. But the later two volumes have more cover versions they never put on record, and the band was moving in an interesting direction before it broke up in the early 1970s.

DDBMT isn't liked much by the critics. I think there are two reasons for that. First, their dumb band name. It clearly was a gimmick, and it helped gain them attention at the time, but nowadays it makes it hard to take them seriously, much like the name "Herman's Hermits." The second strike against them is that they sold tons of records, way more than bands that were more deserving of success. They didn't make much of a mark in the US, but in Britain they apparently had their singles on their charts more weeks than even the Beatles (though they didn't sell nearly as much as them). They also had a zany stage act, wore wild clothes, and so on. Hopefully, nowadays one can look past their name, their sales, their teenybopper appeal, and so on, and just focus on their music. 

Another strike against them is that they didn't write many of their own songs. In fact, the vast majority of their songs, including all their hits, were written by the songwriting team of Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley. This team was quite talented, writing other hits as well, such as "Have I the Right," a number one hit by the Honeycombs, and "From the Underground" by the Herd.

All the songs here come from an officially released album, called "The BBC Sessions."  Luckily, only two of them had the usual problem of BBC DJs talking over the music (the ones with "[Edit]" in their names). This was helped by the fact that the band played many songs twice or more at the BBC, allowing one to pick the best versions. I've only included one version of each song in this series.

This album is 45 minutes long.

01 Is It Love [Edit] (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
02 Hold Tight (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
03 You Make It Move (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
04 We've Got a Good Thing Going (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
05 Hideaway (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
06 Frustration (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
07 Bend It (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
08 She's So Good (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
09 Hands Off (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
10 Hello Josephine (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
11 Hard to Love You [Edit] (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
12 I'm on the Up (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
13 Save Me (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
14 Help Me (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
15 Touch Me, Touch Me (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
16 Watch Your Step (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
17 He's a Raver (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)
18 Okay (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich)

The cover photo comes from a 1966 appearance on the British TV show "Ready, Steady, Go."

Monday, May 9, 2022

The Allman Brothers Band - Reach for the Sky - Alternate Version (1980-1981)

In 1979, the Allman Brothers Band reunited with most of their surviving original members after having a few hard years apart in the late 1970s. They put out a new studio album called "Enlightened Rogues," and successfully toured behind it. 

I'm not going to do anything with that album because I think it's an excellent album, so if you're a fan of the band, you should have it. Maybe there aren't any really classic songs on it, but every song is solid. Also, it's great that even though it was 1979 and the Southern rock style the band had helped pioneer was out of fashion, they avoided updating their sound with disco drumming, synths, and the like. It sounded exactly like the Allman Brothers Band of the early 1970s.

Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said of their next two albums, "Reach for the Sky" in 1980 and "Brothers of the Road" in 1981. The band's long-time record company went bankrupt in 1979, and their new record company pressured them to modernize their sound. The band gave in to some extent, and had a Top 40 single in 1981 with the song "Straight from the Heart." But this new direction is widely considered a terrible decision today. The band members weren't happy. They broke up in early 1982 because they felt they were embarrassing themselves and ruining their musical legacy. They wouldn't reunite until 1989, after the 1988 box set "Dreams" summarizing their career showed there was still a market for their type of music.

In my opinion, those 1980 and 1981 albums are pretty bad, and probably the worst ones they ever did. BUT! Many of the songs on them are actually good. It's just that they were ruined by bad production, and bogged down by some poor songs. Their hit "Straight from the Heart" is a case in point. It has synths and female backing vocals, and sounds like a song by Journey or Foreigner that happens to be sung by Gregg Allman. I didn't include it here because it's best forgotten.

So... what to do about the bad production on some otherwise good songs? Luckily, because this band's live work is so popular, there are soundboard bootlegs of concerts even from these lean years. I've created an album that uses live versions for six out of the ten songs. I could have included even more live versions, but I decided in a few cases that the studio versions were actually better (especially in terms of sound quality), and in a couple of cases the songs weren't done in concert, so I had no choice.

Technically, I'm calling this an alternate version of their 1980 album "Reach for the Sky," but that's a stretch. Only the first four songs here originally come from that album. The fifth, "Nancy," is a great Dickey Betts demo that was first released on the "Dreams" box set. (He made demos for a 1981 solo album of country songs that didn't fully fit the Allman Brothers Band sound, but the album remains unreleased except for this one song.) The remaining five songs originate from "Brothers of the Road." To be honest, the main reason I'm calling this an alternate version of "Reach for the Sky" is because I couldn't find any good photos of the band from this time period except for the one on the back of the "Reach for the Sky" album. It would be more accurate to call this the best songs from everything they did in 1980 and 1981.

Before I put this album together, I didn't think much of this time period for the band, and I didn't know most of these songs. But I must say, I'm pleasantly surprised by what I've come up with. By using mostly live versions, the Allman Brothers Band actually sound like themselves. And many of these songs are really good and could have become concert staples if they didn't date to this time period that the band is so eager to forget. 

Note that I made edits to a couple of the songs. For "Mystery Woman," the lead vocals were low in the mix, so I used the audio editing program X-Minus to bring those up. And for "The Judgement," the studio version is only three and a half minutes long, whereas the band turned it into a great jam in their concerts that usually went on for over ten minutes. But those long versions typically included a drum solo in the middle, and those have limited appeal, so I edited most of the drum solo out. But that still leaves the song five minutes longer than the studio version.

Also, note that one song that gets included on some best of collections is "Hell and High Water" from "Reach for the Sky." For instance, it's included in the band's "Trouble No More" 50th anniversary album. But I didn't include it because it's a nice song... until you realize it has many similarities to the band's earlier big hit "Ramblin' Man." That bothered me enough to keep it off.

This album is 46 minutes long.

01 Mystery Woman [Edit] (Allman Brothers Band)
02 From the Madness of the West [Instrumental] (Allman Brothers Band)
03 Angeline (Allman Brothers Band)
04 Famous Last Words (Allman Brothers Band)
05 Nancy (Dickey Betts)
06 Brothers of the Road (Allman Brothers Band)
07 Leavin' (Allman Brothers Band)
08 The Heat Is On (Allman Brothers Band)
09 Never Knew How Much [I Needed You] (Allman Brothers Band)
10 The Judgement [Edit] (Allman Brothers Band)

The official cover of "Reach for the Sky" is dumb, if you ask me. It features a kid in a mask and cowboy outfit riding a rocking horse. (Why?!) But the back cover features a nice photo of the band, so I used that for this cover. I used Photoshop to edit out some text (I put the album title over that spot), and also to crop and sharpen up the image.