Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Big Vacation

Today, I'll be heading off for a big vacation that'll last just over a month. Since it's so long, I'm bringing a tablet-styled computer with me for the first time. I should have continued access to my music collection and be able to post and comment here, knock on wood. But I'll be pretty busy doing touristy stuff. I'm going to see if I can still post some new albums from time to time, but if I do, it'll be a lot less than what I usually do. We'll see how it goes.

On a different note, I've been working with someone to make some big changes to this blog. For one thing, I'd like to change the location to someplace more secure, given that a very similar blog (Albums I Wish Existed) was taken down one day with no warning due to copyright issues. But as part of that process I'm also hoping to change from using Zippyshare to something better that won't have Zippyshare's many problem. So look forward to that in the next few months, knock on wood.

One thing about being on vacation is that I won't be able to use SoulseekQT until I get back. So the sharing of files through that program will be suspended until the end of my vacation.

Anyway, I hope you all stay safe and well. I've been fully vaccinated (making this vacation possible). I hope you have been too, and you're moving back towards more of a non-pandemic normal life. :)

Molly Tuttle - Home Concerts, Volume 2, Nashville, TN, 9-3-2020 to 12-20-2020

I just posted an album of Molly Tuttle's solo acoustic home concert performances in early 2020. This continues where that left off, with the same from the rest of 2020. If you don't know who she is (and I'd never heard of her until about two weeks ago), please check out that post for more information about her. Suffice to say that she's a remarkable guitar player, an excellent vocalist, and a talented songwriter. In my opinion, if popularity were based on actual musical talent, she should be a big star already.

As with Volume 1, everything here is officially unreleased, and generally comes from YouTube videos of home performances done when most musicians were socially distancing during the worst months of the coronavirus pandemic. Also like that volume, nearly all the songs here consist just of Tuttle on acoustic guitar and/or vocals. And also like that volume, I'd guess about half of the songs here are originals and half are cover versions.

If you're interested in a talented relatively young musician, I suggest you give this album a try. I think it's even stronger than Volume 1. (By the way, this one contains the cover of the Rolling Stones song "She's a Rainbow" that I praised in my comments from that volume.)

This album is 46 minutes long.

01 talk (Molly Tuttle)
02 Good Enough (Molly Tuttle)
03 talk (Molly Tuttle)
04 The High Road (Molly Tuttle)
05 Light Came In [Power Went Out] (Molly Tuttle)
06 talk (Molly Tuttle)
07 A Little Lost (Molly Tuttle)
08 talk (Molly Tuttle)
09 She's a Rainbow (Molly Tuttle)
10 talk (Molly Tuttle)
11 Mirrored Heart (Molly Tuttle)
12 Clue (Molly Tuttle)
13 talk (Molly Tuttle with Sierra Hull)
14 Fourth of July (Molly Tuttle with Sierra Hull)
15 talk (Molly Tuttle with Sierra Hull)
16 Salt Creek [Instrumental] (Molly Tuttle with Sierra Hull)
17 Coat of Many Colors (Molly Tuttle)
18 talk (Molly Tuttle)
19 Zero (Molly Tuttle)
20 talk (Molly Tuttle)
21 Standing on the Moon (Molly Tuttle)

The cover art photo appears to be a promotional photo from either 2019 or 2020.

Molly Tuttle - Home Concerts, Volume 1, Nashville, TN, 1-6-2020 to 9-3-2020

Here's an artist I only recently discovered and am jazzed about. I was wanting to learn the Rolling Stones song "She's a Rainbow" on guitar, and I happened to stumble across a YouTube video of her playing the song in a solo acoustic format. I was so impressed that I went looking for other songs she did, and found myself even more impressed. She's a guitar playing virtuoso, to the point that she won the IMBA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Guitar Player of the Year award two years in a row, in 2017 and 2018. But that's not all. She's an excellent vocalist, and a talented songwriter too. What's not to like?

Here's the "She's a Rainbow" video that I mentioned above. It's a good place to start if you want to get into her music. It starts out relatively normally, but wait until she starts soloing on her guitar. Damn, I wish I could play like that!

Molly Tuttle performs "She's A Rainbow" by The Rolling Stones from home - YouTube

By the way, if you don't like bluegrass, don't be turned off by my mention of the word "bluegrass" in that first paragraph. As I write this in 2021, Tuttle is 28 years old. She started out mostly doing bluegrass, but her musical style has evolved and diversified. Her latest album, "...but I'd rather be with you," released in 2020, is an all-covers album. On that, she does songs by the punk band Rancid, the alt rock bands the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Nationals, as well as the Grateful Dead, Cat Stevens, and more. There's very little overt bluegrass on it at all, but more of an indirect influence in her guitar playing style.

I plan on posting a few albums from her. But I'm a lover of acoustic music in general, and I'm most impressed by her solo acoustic playing, so I'm starting with a collection of her playing in that solo acoustic style. I missed her home concert material from the height of the 2020 pandemic, but I retroactively went back and found two albums worth of songs she did from that year. All of them were recorded at home from this or that Internet channel or benefit concert or the like. All of them are officially unreleased, but I only selected the ones that have very good to excellent sound quality.

You'll find a few songs here that are bluegrass-based instrumentals, but only a few. I like those, because she impresses with her guitar playing speed and melodicism. But most are songs she sings that cover a range of styles. I'd guesstimate about half are covers and half are originals. 

As an aside, if you checked out the "She's a Rainbow" video linked to above, you may have noticed she's completely bald in that. That puzzled me (since she wasn't bald in most other videos I saw of her) until I found she has a rare condition that has left her completely hairless. She wears a variety of wigs nearly all the time, causing her hair style to drastically change with each different wig, but I guess occasionally she doesn't bother. You can learn more about her here at her Wikipedia page:

Molly Tuttle - Wikipedia

This album is 47 minutes long.

01 Lost Girl [Instrumental] (Molly Tuttle & Tristan Scroggins)
02 The Greatest (Molly Tuttle)
03 Love Never Fails (Molly Tuttle)
04 talk (Molly Tuttle)
05 Over the Line (Molly Tuttle)
06 talk (Molly Tuttle)
07 Little Annie (Molly Tuttle)
08 talk (Molly Tuttle)
09 Keeping the Cats Happy [Instrumental] (Molly Tuttle)
10 talk (Molly Tuttle)
11 When You're Ready (Molly Tuttle)
12 talk (Molly Tuttle)
13 White Freight Liner Blues (Molly Tuttle)
14 Beaumont Rag [Instrumental] (Molly Tuttle & Billy Strings)
15 talk (Molly Tuttle)
16 Angeline the Baker [Instrumental] (Molly Tuttle)
17 talk (Molly Tuttle)
18 Olympia, WA (Molly Tuttle)
19 talk (Molly Tuttle)
20 Take the Journey (Molly Tuttle)
21 talk (Molly Tuttle)
22 Mess with My Mind (Molly Tuttle)
23 talk (Molly Tuttle)
24 Fake Empire (Molly Tuttle)

I'm not sure when or where the cover photo is from, but I've found it with some articles about her that date to the early part of 2020.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The English Beat - BBC Sessions, Volume 2 (1982-1983)

Recently, I posted an album of the English Beat at the BBC. (Or, for those in Britain, just the Beat.) Here's the second and final volume. 

The first volume was really easy to make. It consisted entirely of BBC performances taken from album bonus tracks. This album has a lot of that. Specifically, six of the eleven songs are BBC performances from more album bonus tracks. But I felt those weren't enough to give an adequate picture, because the band only did one BBC session in the 1982/1983 time frame. So I've added in some live songs that I feel are important songs for the band. Most of these also come from album bonus tracks. There were a few more I could have included, but I didn't do that to avoid duplication of some songs. 

The only song here that isn't sourced from a bonus track is the last one, "Ackee 1 2 3." Personally, that's my favorite deep cut of theirs. Between this BBC volume and the first one, you basically get an excellent double album greatest hits collection. I wanted to make sure that song was included too. But since I couldn't find a bonus track version, I ended up using a version from a rare but officially released album of the band playing at the US Festival in 1983. However, with this and the other live songs here, it's hard to tell they're live versions, except sometimes for some applause at the end.

This album is 38 minutes long.

01 Doors of Your Heart (English Beat)
02 I Confess (English Beat)
03 Spar Wid Me (English Beat)
04 She's Going (English Beat)
05 Save It for Later (English Beat)
06 Sole Salvation (English Beat)
07 Pato and Roger a Go Talk (English Beat)
08 End of the Party (English Beat)
09 Best Friend (English Beat)
10 Get-a-Job - Stand Down Margaret (English Beat)
11 Ackee 1 2 3 (English Beat) 

The album cover photo is a promotional photo of the band, I think from 1983.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Richard Thompson - 1000 Years of Popular Music - Second Version (2001-2007)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my version of Richard Thompson's "1000 Years of Popular Music" concerts. If you liked that one, you should like this one too. It's the exact same thing, the same concept, except that every single song is different!

Here's a quick review. Starting around 2001, Thompson began playing his occasional "1000 Years of Popular Music" concerts, which consisted entirely of covers of songs from the last 1000 years. And "1000 years" wasn't an exaggeration, either: many of the songs go back hundreds of years. In 2004, he put out an album of the concert, and the first version I posted largely contains the same set of songs, though I made some changes, such as including more of his banter about the songs, and changing the song order to make more chronological sense. 

In 2006, he released a DVD of the show, with many different songs than the ones on the album. I took those different songs as the start of this version - there are nine of those. But then I added a bunch more, because there were many changes to his set lists as he kept playing "1000 Years" themed concerts from time to time in the 2000s. I found another 12 songs to add. All of these are officially unreleased in any form, and come from concert bootlegs. Luckily, most of them sound pretty good, but sometimes there's a drop in sound quality from the songs sourced from the DVD.

As with the first version I posted, I made a concerted effort to find comments he made about each song. I got lucky and found him saying at least a few words for every song, with two exceptions ("You'll Never Walk Alone" and "Ring of Fire").

Also like the first version I posted, I sorted the songs by the years they were first created, instead of by the order Thompson performed them in concert. Doing the latter pretty much would have been impossible, since the songs come from a bunch of concerts with very different set lists. With the first version, Thompson gave a great lesson on the history of Western music over the last 1000 years, and here he does it again, without repeating himself at all. Not only that, but I'm planning a third version where that feat is repeated.

By the way, sometimes the sound quality is a little worse on the banter between songs. Occasionally, I had to resort to lower quality bootlegs to find examples of saying anything at all. I figure and hope it won't be that big of a problem, since it only happens during the talking.

This album is an hour and 25 minutes long, which was roughly the length of one of his typical concerts with this theme. As with the first version, I've included the years the songs were created in the song titles, to help make that clear. I did some research on that to help me with the ordering of the songs.

01 Worlds Blis Ne Last [1200s] (Richard Thompson)
02 talk (Richard Thompson)
03 Bonnie St. Johnstone [unknown] (Richard Thompson)
04 talk (Richard Thompson)
05 O Sleep Fond Fancy [Thomas Morley, 1597] (Richard Thompson)
06 talk (Richard Thompson)
07 Remember O Thou Man [Thomas Ravenscroft, 1609] (Richard Thompson)
08 talk (Richard Thompson)
09 Full Fathom Five [Robert Johnson, 1611] (Richard Thompson)
10 talk (Richard Thompson)
11 A-Begging I Will Go [1817 or earlier] (Richard Thompson)
12 talk (Richard Thompson)
13 Hobo Bill's Last Ride [Jimmie Rodgers, 1929] (Richard Thompson)
14 talk (Richard Thompson)
15 Night and Day [Cole Porter, 1932] (Richard Thompson)
16 talk (Richard Thompson)
17 I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter [Fats Waller, 1935] (Richard Thompson)
18 talk (Richard Thompson)
19 Java Jive [The Ink Spots, 1941] (Richard Thompson)
20 talk (Richard Thompson)
21 London Pride [Noel Coward, 1941] (Richard Thompson)
22 You'll Never Walk Alone [Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1945] (Richard Thompson)
23 talk (Richard Thompson)
24 Don't Stop the Music [George Jones, 1957] (Richard Thompson)
25 Ring of Fire [Johnny Cash, 1963] (Richard Thompson)
26 talk (Richard Thompson)
27 A-11 [Buck Owens, 1964] (Richard Thompson)
28 talk (Richard Thompson)
29 I Ain't Marching Anymore [Phil Ochs, 1965] (Richard Thompson)
30 talk (Richard Thompson)
31 See My Friends [The Kinks, 1965] (Richard Thompson)
32 talk (Richard Thompson)
33 Walk Away Renee [The Left Banke, 1966] (Richard Thompson)
34 talk (Richard Thompson)
35 Friday on My Mind [The Easybeats, 1967] (Richard Thompson)
36 talk (Richard Thompson)
37 There's Always Someone Cooler than You [Ben Folds Five, 2003] (Richard Thompson)
38 talk (Richard Thompson)
39 1985 [Bowling for Soup, 2005] (Richard Thompson)

The album cover uses a photo of Thompson in concert in 2007. I don't know any more details. I used the same artwork on each side as I did with the first version.

By the way, speaking of the first version, in making this album I realized that I'd put the wrong year on the cover of that album. I just fixed it, so if you keep copies of the covers and you're into accuracy, you might want to grab the updated version of that.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The English Beat - BBC Sessions, Volume 1 (1979-1980)

I recently posted a stray tracks album for the English Beat. I'm following that up with two albums of their BBC sessions. Here's the first one. (And, as I mentioned before, I understand they're just called the "Beat" in Britain, but I'm an American, where they're called the "English Beat," so that's what I call them.

This is a very straight-forward album. The band put out an album in 1980 ("I Just Can't Stop It") and another one in 1981 ("Wha'ppen.") Decades later, each of those albums were released with lots of bonus tracks, and those included the complete BBC sessions from those time periods. So this is just a collection of those particular bonus tracks.

One interesting thing though is that the first five songs come from a John Peel BBC session when the band was just starting out. They had a meteoric rise, from forming their band to having hit singles and a hit album in just nine months. I read an interview with lead singer Dave Wakeling where he said the John Peel session was touch and go, because the band had just written most of the songs and hadn't done them in the studio yet, and they had to rise to the occasion to remember the chord changes and so forth. But the results sound fine to me.

This album is 38 minutes long.

01 Tears of a Clown (English Beat)
02 Ranking Full Stop (English Beat)
03 Click Click (English Beat)
04 Mirror in the Bathroom (English Beat)
05 Big Shot (English Beat)
06 Hands Off... She's Mine (English Beat)
07 Rough Rider (English Beat)
08 Twist and Crawl (English Beat)
09 Mirror in the Bathroom (English Beat)
10 Too Nice to Talk To (English Beat)
11 New Psychedelic Rockers (English Beat)
12 Monkey Murders (English Beat)
13 Walk Away (English Beat)

I had a hard time finding good photos of the band from 1979 or 1980. So in the end I decided to use the cover to their single "Mirror in the Bathroom." I cropped out the outer edges where the name of the single was included, and added in some text of my own.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

The Faces - I Can Feel the Fire - Various Songs (1974-1975)

Here's the last of the stray tracks albums for the Faces. 

The band broke up in 1975. Their last studio album was in 1973, and one of their key members, Ronnie Lane, left that year too. They had some studio sessions in 1974 and 1975 with a mind to putting out a new album, but in the end all they released was a single. The first two songs here are from that single. The next two songs were recorded live in concert, then released much later on a Faces box set. The rest of the songs are from the unfinished album studio albums, and also were released much later on that Faces box set.

By the way, the song "I Can Feel the Fire" was put on a Ron Wood solo album in 1974. He joined the Rolling Stones in 1976, and I put a different version of the song on a Rolling Stones stray tracks album too.

Most of the songs are originals. I think the only one that isn't is the medley of "Hi-Heel Sneakers - Everybody Needs Somebody to Love."

The two bonus tracks are fine songs. The only reason they're bonus tracks is they're from concert bootlegs, and the sound quality isn't that good.

The album is 37 minutes long, not counting the two bonus tracks.

01 You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything (Faces)
02 As Long as You Tell Him (Faces)
03 Take a Look at the Guy (Faces)
04 I Can Feel the Fire (Faces)
05 Hi-Heel Sneakers - Everybody Needs Somebody to Love (Faces)
06 Gettin' Hungry (Faces)
07 Open to Ideas (Faces)
08 Rock Me (Faces)

Big Bayou (Faces)
Early One Morning [Highgate Shuffle] (Faces)

The cover art photo is from 1975. Note that Ronnie Lane is gone, and has been replaced by Tetsu Yamauchi (who is the only one in back, wearing a hat).

Monday, June 7, 2021

Phil Collins - Stick It - Demos from the Early Years (1980-1990) (A MIKE SOLOF GUEST POST)

Here's another post by my musical friend Mike Solof. If you've been following my blog, you may have seen that he's made two guest posts already, one about the Monkees and the other about Genesis. Generally speaking, there are some musical artists that I either don't like or at least don't like enough to create albums for them. Genesis/Phil Collins is a good case in point. I'm somewhat of a fan, but not enough of a fan to do a deep dive. So Mike can pick up the slack on that. Knock on wood, more guest posts from him should be coming soon.

I'm not going to say much about this album, because Mike likes to create PDF files with explanations and pictures. So I'll mostly leave the comments to him in the PDF. But the really short version is that this is a collection of the demos of many songs from Phil Collins' 1980s albums. The demos usually aren't acoustic, but they're often stripped down compared to the final released versions, and sometimes they have significant differences. Most of the songs come from bonus tracks, but there are some unreleased ones, including some songs that haven't been officially released in any form.

By the way, all the songs are studio versions, except the last two, which are kind of live bonus tracks, from "The Secret Policeman's Other Ball" in 1981.

This album is an hour and 42 minutes long.

01 In the Air Tonight (Phil Collins)
02 This Must Be Love (Phil Collins)
03 The Roof Is Leaking (Phil Collins)
04 Please Don’t Ask (Phil Collins)
05 Hand in Hand (Phil Collins)
06 Against All Odds (Phil Collins)
07 Please Don’t Break My Heart (Phil Collins)
08 Tomorrow Never Knows (Phil Collins)
09 Misunderstanding (Phil Collins)
10 Oddball [Do You Know, Do You Care] (Phil Collins)
11 Thru These Walls (Phil Collins)
12 Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away (Phil Collins)
13 The West Side (Phil Collins)
14 Why Can’t It Wait Til Morning (Phil Collins)
15 Sussudio (Phil Collins)
16 Only You Know and I Know (Phil Collins)
17 One More Night (Phil Collins)
18 Take Me Home (Phil Collins)
19 Something Happened on the Way to Heaven [Broadway Chorus] (Phil Collins)
20 Another Day in Paradise [Homeless] (Phil Collins)
21 Do You Remember (Phil Collins)
22 I Wish It Would Rain Down (Phil Collins)
23 The Roof Is Leaking (Phil Collins)
24 In the Air Tonight (Phil Collins)

Mike picked the cover art photo. Then I added the text. I don't know the source.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Specials - Ghost Town - Various Songs (1981-1985)

Here's the second and final stray tracks album for the Specials. 

Note that the band basically split into two in 1981. Lead singer Terry Hall and a couple others left to form the band Fun Boy Three, while the main songwriter Jerry Dammers continued with the somewhat different name the Special AKA. For simplicity's sake, I call everything "the Specials." In actual fact, only the first four songs feature Hall and the rest of the original band.

The first song, "Ghost Town," was a number one hit in Britain, and all three major British music magazines of the time named it the song of the year. However, it didn't make much impact in the US, since it was specifically speaking about the economic troubles in Britain at the time.

Most of the rest of the songs are B-sides. "96 Tears" is an unreleased demo of the classic 1960s hit, from right before the band broke up. "Jungle Music" is an A-side, but it didn't chart at all. The last song, "Starvation," is a special case. 1985 was the year of the huge "Live Aid" benefit concert, and the massive hit charity single "We Are the World." A bunch of band in the British ska/reggae movement, led by the Dammers version of the Specials, decided to do their own charity single to benefit the same problem of famine in Africa. It's a cover of a song originally done by the Pioneers in 1971.

Personally, I think Dammers wrote some top notch songs for the Specials. But after 1984 or thereabouts, he more or less stopped putting out music and mostly switched to other pursuits, such as DJing, instead. That's a shame, in my opinion. Starting in 1993, various versions of the Specials reformed. Terry Hall rejoined the band in 2008, and has led it ever since. Dammers never rejoined though. But these later versions of the band are basically an oldies act, in my opinion, focusing on concerts filled with their 1970s and early 1980s songs, so this series ends here.

Now, I have to address the very unusual bonus track, "The Boiler." I have to warn you that this song, written by Dammers and several women from a short-lived band called the Bodysnatchers, is very hard to listen to. It starts off sounding like most any other catchy, toe-tapping Specials song, with lead vocals by female vocalist Rhoda Dakar. But as the song goes on, Dakar describes a date that goes horribly wrong. It ends with her getting raped, which is expressed in audio by her screaming in horror. It is one of the most disturbing songs I've ever heard.

Dammers has said it's a song that's only meant to be heard once, in order to get its message across. Thus, I've only included it as a bonus track, an optional kind of thing, because it would stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of the rest of the songs, well-intentioned though it is. Also, note that the B-side, "Theme from the Boiler," is basically the same song, but just an instrumental version. I have included that as one of the album tracks. 

So you might want to take Dammers' advice and listen to "The Boiler" once. But I doubt there are many who would want to hear it lots of times.

01 Ghost Town (Specials)
02 Why (Specials)
03 Friday Night, Saturday Morning (Specials)
04 96 Tears [Demo] (Specials)
05 Theme from the Boiler [Instrumental] (Specials)
06 Jungle Music (Specials with Rico)
07 Rasta Call You [Instrumental] (Specials with Rico)
08 Easter Island [Instrumental] (Specials with Rico)
09 Can't Get a Break (Specials)
10 Starvation (Specials, Pioneers, UB40, Madness, & General Public)

The Boiler (Specials featuring Rhoda)

The album cover is the cover of the "Ghost Town" single. The only change I made is that the original cover included the names of the two B-sides as well. I removed those names, and increased the size of A-side name to cover the empty space.

Joe Cocker - BBC Sessions, Volume 2 (1969-1971)

A few days ago, I posted Volume 1 of Joe Cocker's BBC sessions. Here's the second and final volume.

I have to admit it's basically false advertising to call this some of Cocker's BBC sessions. There isn't a single song here that was actually done for the BBC! But, as I've said previously, I consider his career peak to be the years 1968 to 1971, and I wanted songs for the rest of that time, if I could find source material that was of equal sound quality to the BBC tracks that made up Volume 1. I feel I did that. 

The first five songs all come from concert performances. But these sound great, because they were taken from an official Joe Cocker box set called "The Long Voyage Home." The next three songs are unreleased, and come from French and German TV appearances, so they have excellent sound quality too. 

The last three songs don't sound quite as good as the rest, because they're from a concert bootleg, and probably an audience recording instead of a soundboard. But I think they're worthy of inclusion here, due to their unusual nature. After Cocker's notoriously wild "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" concert tour, which ended in early 1970, it seems he was mentally and physically exhausted. He didn't tour or release any new music (except for one single) until early 1972, so he kept a low profile for most of two years. One exception to that is he made a guest appearance at a Rita Coolidge concert, playing the three songs here. None of the songs were ever officially recorded and released by him. So they're worthy for that, plus their sound quality is still pretty good, though not great.

By the way, I had to make a major edit to the song "Cry Me a River." This version comes from the German TV program "Beat Club." For some strange reason, an announcer spoke over a section of the middle of the song. I don't speak German, but I heard the name of some other famous musical acts, so it probably was a promotion of future episodes. Anyway, that talking almost exactly overlapped a solo, so I just removed that whole solo section. The song sounds complete without it, including some more soloing later in the song.

This album is 55 minutes long.

01 Let It Be (Joe Cocker)
02 Feelin' Alright (Joe Cocker)
03 I Shall Be Released (Joe Cocker)
04 Something's Coming On (Joe Cocker)
05 Something (Joe Cocker)
06 The Letter (Joe Cocker)
07 Dear Landlord (Joe Cocker)
08 Cry Me a River [Edit] (Joe Cocker)
09 Horizontal Blues (Joe Cocker)
10 When This Battle Is Over (Joe Cocker & Rita Coolidge)
11 The Devastating Things Love Can Do to You (Joe Cocker)

The album cover photo was taken at a concert at the Fillmore East in New York City, in March 1971.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Grace Potter - Twilight Hour, Volume 7 - Home Concert, Topanga, CA, 7-13-2020 to 7-20-2020

I still have some home concerts from 2020 left to post. For instance, I've got a few more from Grace Potter. So here's the next one from her.

This is just like the others in her "Twilight Hour" series. Basically, she played these songs with a small band - I think just a guitarist and a drummer. There was a lot of talking between songs, and sometimes some snippets or failed attempts (since she often was winging it). I didn't include any of that, just the songs that were successfully done.

This comes from two consecutive songs, one week apart. For the first show, she played her own personal rarities, including some songs she's never officially released. For the second show here, she played all of her own songs, but stuff she released, mostly from her earlier albums.

01 At Your Request (Grace Potter)
02 Deliverance Road (Grace Potter)
03 Somebody Fix Me (Grace Potter)
04 Somewhere Out There (Grace Potter)
05 Til the Morning Comes (Grace Potter)
06 Letter to My Children (Grace Potter)
07 Crazy Parade (Grace Potter)
08 Sweet Hands (Grace Potter)
09 That Phone (Grace Potter)
10 Roulette (Grace Potter)
11 One Heart Missing (Grace Potter)
12 Ah Mary [Country Version] (Grace Potter)
13 Can't See Through (Grace Potter)
14 The Lion the Beast the Beat (Grace Potter)

For the cover art, once again I used one of Potter's chalk board drawings. I don't think it was specifically for either of these shows, but hey, close enough for horseshoes.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Robyn Hitchcock - The Man Upstairs - Acoustic Versions (2014)

I have so much Robyn Hitchcock music to post that it seems overwhelming to me. So I'm going to try to post more from him soon, to try to chip down the backlog. In 2014, he released the studio album "The Man Upstairs." These are all unreleased, acoustic versions of the songs from that album.

I should add the caveat that these are most of the songs from the album, but not all of them. I wasn't able to find an acoustic version of just one song, "Somebody to Break Your Heart." But on the plus side, I've added two more songs he released on singles around that time, "Follow Your Money," and a cover of the Neil Young song "Motion Pictures." ("The Ghost in You" and "The Crystal Ship" are also covers.)

Even though the songs are all unreleased, the sound quality is generally very good. Six of the 11 songs were recorded in the studio without an audience, usually due to in-person radio station performances. The only one that sounds a bit worse than the rest is "Ferries." I could only find two performances of that song, so we're lucky to have anything at all for that one.

This album is 45 minutes long.

By the way, last year, Hitchcock released an album called "The Man Downstairs," that consists of rarities from "The Man Upstairs" album. I won't be posting songs from that on this blog, since I don't want to cut into the sale of that album, so if you're interested, I suggest you buy it.

01 The Ghost in You (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 San Francisco Patrol (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 To Turn You On (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 Trouble in Your Blood (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 Don't Look Down (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Ferries (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Comme Toujours (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 The Crystal Ship (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Recalling the Truth (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Follow Your Money (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
11 Motion Pictures (Robyn Hitchcock)

The artwork for "The Man Upstairs" included the above photo inside a booklet. It was extremely washed out, and fairly blurry. I used Photoshop to sharpen and darken it some. The writing of Hitchcock's name is the same as on the official album cover.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Specials - Gangsters - Various Songs (1978-1980)

I'm a big fan of the Specials. Like the English Beat whom I posted about yesterday, they didn't stay together very long, but pretty much all their music is top notch. They only released three albums (if you count the Special AKA as the Specials, and I do). However, I was able to find two albums' worth of stray tracks. Here's the first such album.

The first four songs are technically by the Coventry Automatics. But that was an early name of the Specials, and included key members Terry Hall and Jerry Dammers, though two other members hadn't joined yet. So I'm crediting those to the Specials for simplicity's sake. 

All but two songs here have been officially released, but some have come out in rather obscure ways. The first four songs mentioned above were included on an archival release. Five more songs were from singles or an EP, including the hit single "Gangsters," which went to the Top Ten in Britain. Two more are from BBC sessions ( the "Long Shot Kick de Bucket - The Liquidator - Skinhead Moonstomp" medley and "Sea Cruise"). By the way, I plan on posting some Specials BBC sessions albums here eventually, but I think those two songs deserve to be included here, as well on those albums. The medley also appeared on a 1980 EP, but that was a live version, and I think the BBC version, effectively a studio version, sounds better.

Speaking of sound quality, the two unreleased songs, "Man from Wareika" and "Madness," are from a live bootleg. They sound good, but not as good as everything else on this album. By the way, "Man from Wareika" first appeared on a 1977 album by Rico Rodriguez. He'd already had a long musical career since the 1950s as a trombonist before joining the Specials when that group formed. He also released a solo version of "Sea Cruise" in 1980. So that explains why the Specials did those songs.

I wasn't sure what to do with the song "Rat Race." It was a hit single in 1979, then it was included on the 1980 album "More Specials," but only the US version. I poked around, and it seems the British version still doesn't include the song. So US Specials fans are very likely to have this song on album already, and British fans are not. Thus, I've included it as a bonus track only. So keep it or not, depending on your situation.

This album is 45 minutes long, not including the bonus track.

01 Wake Up [Instrumental] (Specials)
02 Rock and Rock Nightmare (Specials)
03 Look but Don't Touch (Specials)
04 Jay Walker (Specials)
05 Gangsters (Specials)
06 Guns of Navarone (Specials)
07 Man from Wareika [Instrumental] (Specials)
08 Madness (Specials)
09 Maggie's Farm (Specials)
10 Rude Boys Outta Jail (Specials)
11 Racquel (Specials)
12 Braggin' and Tryin' Not to Lie (Specials with Roddy Radiation)
13 Long Shot Kick de Bucket - The Liquidator - Skinhead Moonstomp (Specials)
14 Sea Cruise (Specials)

Rat Race (Specials)

The cover art uses a publicity photo taken in New York City in 1980. I added the record company logo, since it usually featured on the band's releases.

Monday, May 31, 2021

The English Beat - Hit It - Various Songs (1980-1983)

The English Beat put out three solid albums in the early 1980s. My only "issue" is that they didn't do more. They broke up way too early. For a long time, I didn't think there was enough non-album material for a stray tracks album. But I recently found a few more songs, enough for a single such album.

By the way, I realize that in Britain, they're known just as the Beat. To make things even more confusing, in Australia, they're known as the British Beat. But I'm born and raised in the United States, so I know them as the English Beat. Maybe it's just that I'm biased, but I think it's a more clarifying name, since Paul Collins also had a band called the Beat.

Anyway, this is the usual motley bunch of bonus tracks, A- and B-sides to singles, and live tracks. Six of the songs are B-sides, actually. "Pussy Price" is a cover, but they later wrote their own words to it and turned it into their own song "Ranking Full Stop." Still, I figure this is different enough to merit inclusion.

By the way, this does not include the song "Too Nice to Talk To." That originally was the A-side of a single in 1981. But it was soon added as the opening track to their 1981 album "Wha'ppen," and nearly everyone who has that album has that on it, so I figure it isn't needed here. For the same reason, I didn't include "Tears of a Clown" or "Ranking Full Stop." Originally, those were single releases only, but they were added to the 1980 album "I Just Can't Stop It" before long.

I wasn't quite sure what to do about the song "Stand Down Margaret." It's a great song, in my opinion, with a great anti-Margaret Thatcher message. But the version of it on "I Just Can't Stop It" was less than ideal, in my opinion. It was part of a medley with "Whine and Grine," so it's really only half a song. There is a nice version released as a B-side, and I've included that here as the second song. But it's a dub version, which means a lot of the lyrics aren't sung on it. I found another version they did on a TV as a stand alone song instead of part of a medley, as usual. That had all the lyrics, but the sound quality wasn't as perfect as the B-side version. In the end, I decided both versions had their charms, so I included both.

Most of the songs here are originals. I think the only ones that aren't are "Pussy Price," as mentioned above, and "Night and Day," a version of the classic Cole Porter song. I investigated the band, and it seems they almost never played songs in concert that they didn't record in the studio.

In my opinion, the band didn't leave a big discography behind, but virtually everything they did was solid, including their rare tracks. I think this album is good enough to stand along side their three studio albums.

01 Pussy Price (English Beat)
02 Stand Down Margaret [Dub Version] (English Beat)
03 Psychedelic Rockers (English Beat)
04 Hit It [Auto Erotic] (English Beat)
05 Which Side of the Bed (English Beat)
06 What's Your Best Thing (English Beat)
07 March of the Swivel Heads [Instrumental] (English Beat)
09 Cool Entertainer (English Beat)
10 Stand Down Margaret (English Beat)
11 It Makes Me Rock (English Beat)
12 Night and Day (English Beat) 

The cover art is based on a 1982 publicity photo.

Joe Cocker - BBC Sessions, Volume 1 (1968-1969)

So many BBC sessions. I wonder if I'll ever post all of the ones I like that are worthy of posting. Joe Cocker is another musician who hasn't had any of his BBC performances officially released. As I mentioned in previous postings about him, I think his peak musical years were 1968 to 1971. It so happens that's exactly when he did his BBC sessions. I've found enough for two volumes. Here's the first one.

Truth be told, Cocker's actual BBC sessions only happened in 1968 and 1969. Like many artists, once he got really famous, he left the BBC behind. Volume 2 will mostly contain performances from other TV shows and such. But this volume is 100 percent BBC radio performances. 

He did pretty much all of his most popular songs from that time period. But he also did some interesting rarities.  "Mr. Bus Driver," "Run Shaker Life," and "Can't Be So Bad" in particular have never been officially released by him in any form.

The sound quality is generally very good, though some songs sound better than others. And for some weird reason, while most BBC recordings from this time period are marred by BBC DJs talking over the starts and ends of songs, that doesn't seem to be the case for any of the songs here.

This album is 44 minutes long.

01 Mr. Bus Driver (Joe Cocker)
02 Run Shaker Life (Joe Cocker)
03 With a Little Help from My Friends (Joe Cocker)
04 Can't Be So Bad (Joe Cocker)
05 Marjorine (Joe Cocker)
06 Change in Louise (Joe Cocker)
07 Let's Get Stoned (Joe Cocker)
08 That's Your Business Now (Joe Cocker)
09 Hitchcock Railway (Joe Cocker)
10 Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Joe Cocker)
11 Darling Be Home Soon (Joe Cocker)
12 Hello Little Friend (Joe Cocker)
13 Delta Lady (Joe Cocker)

Boy, do I regret picking this photo for the cover art. The photo was taken backstage at a concert in the Fillmore East in 1969. I picked it because it looked to be the best color photo from 1968 or 1969 clearly showing his face. The problem was his eyes were looking down and to the left. I thought I could fix that in Photoshop, as I've done with other photos with similar problems from time to time. But his eyes were so weirdly stoned that I had a really hard time of it. Hopefully, the final result more or less looks like he's looking at the camera (even though he still looks totally wasted!).

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Various Artists - Covered: Steve Cropper, Volume 2 (1968-1994)

I just posted Volume 1 of the Covered series albums focusing on the songwriting of Steve Cropper. But while I'm at it, here's Volume 2. As I write this in May 2021, Cropper's music career is still going strong despite him being 79 years old. In fact, he just released one of his very rare solo albums earlier in 2021, called "Fire It Up." But I'm ending the albums on him here with Volume 2.

I said most of what I wanted to say about Cropper with my comments about Volume 1. But I just want to note that Volume 2 includes "(Sittin' on the) Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding, one of the greatest songs of all time. Cropper should be considered a top notch songwriter for his role in writing that song alone! I mentioned in my Volume 1 comments that Cropper seemed to do more of the music than the lyrics when it came to songwriting collaboration. But I was just reading the Wikipedia entry about "Dock of the Bay," and Cropper claims that he wrote most of the words, though from Redding's point of view, after Redding gave him the line "I watch the ships come in and I was them roll away again." I'd believe that claim too, since Cropper is a modest guy. I also suspect Cropper had a big role in writing the music for that song, since it was musically very different from everything else Redding had done up until that point.

All but last four songs here date from 1968 to 1972. Clearly, Cropper's success as a songwriter dropped significantly after that time. I suppose a lot of that had to do with changing musical styles. The Stax style of soul that Cropper was closely associated with also pretty much dropped out of the charts right around then. But Cropper continued to stay busy as a producer and a lead guitarist. In fact, he probably got his greatest fame as a member of the band in the 1980 movie "The Blues Brothers."

This album is 44 minutes long.

01 [Sittin' On] The Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding)
02 See Saw (Aretha Franklin)
03 Soul Limbo (Booker T. & the MG's)
04 The Hunter (Free)
05 Mini-Skirt Minnie (Wilson Pickett)
06 Miss Pitiful (Etta James)
07 Water (Steve Cropper, Albert King & Pop Staples)
08 Melting Pot (Booker T. & the MG's)
09 Move 'Em Out (Delaney & Bonnie)
10 Stone Cold Sober (Rod Stewart)
11 Union Man (Cate Brothers)
12 On the Road Down (Robert Cray)
13 Going, Going, Gone (Bryan White)

For Volume 1, I had a very hard time finding any good photos of Cropper from the 1960s, and I had to resort to colorizing a black and white one. But it's a sign of what a low-key person he is that I had a hard time finding any good color photos of him for the entire rest of his career! Virtually every other photo I found was mainly of someone else, with Cropper as a sideman. I did find this one of him from 1977. But even this one was of him and bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn. I used Photoshop to crop Dunn out of the side of the photo.

Various Artists - Covered: Steve Cropper, Volume 1 (1962-1968)

Steve Cropper is best known as a soul music lead guitarist. His minimalist style has been highly influential. In 1996, Mojo Magazine deemed him the greatest living guitar player, and Rolling Stone Magazine has put him in the top forty of their greatest guitarists of all time. But I think his lead guitar prowess has overshadowed his songwriting talent. But as you'll see from the list of songs below, he's had his hand in writing many of the greatest soul classics. I've found enough for two volumes of his songs. Here's the first one.

I suspect the reason Cropper isn't better known as a songwriter is that he rarely wrote songs all by himself. Instead, his songwriting was an extension of his work as a producer. I read an interview he did once where he explained that when he would produce other artists, he usually work ask them about unfinished songs they had. Then he would work with them to finish them off. That said,  it he got songwriting credit, it was because he had a major role in writing the song, often the biggest role. For instance, he wrote the Eddie Floyd classic "Knock On Wood" from scratch with Floyd, with the two of them brainstorming together to come up with the title as the first creative spark, and then they did all the rest of it together.

I also gather that Cropper wasn't that big on writing the words, but excelled in writing the music. You can see this in how he was involved in writing many classic instrumentals, especially with the band Booker T. and the MGs, which he was a member of. 

Here's the Wikipedia entry on him:

Steve Cropper - Wikipedia

This album plays like a greatest hits of soul classics, and it's the same for his Volume 2 album. It's amazing to me that he isn't better known as a songwriter. I suspect another reason for that is that he's a very low-profile, low-ego kind of guy who is content to be a sideman instead of a star. But hopefully including him in the Covered series will get more people to appreciate his songwriting talents.

This album is 42 minutes long.

01 Green Onions (Booker T. & the MG's)
02 In the Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett)
03 Candy (Astors)
04 Every Ounce of Strength (Carla Thomas)
05 Don't Fight It (Wilson Pickett)
06 Knock on Wood (Eddie Floyd)
07 Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa [Sad Song] (Otis Redding)
08 634-5789 [Soulsville, U.S.A.] (Wilson Pickett)
09 Things Get Better (Eddie Floyd)
10 Ninety-Nine and a Half [Won't Do] (Wilson Pickett)
11 Hip Hug-Her (Booker T. & the MG's)
12 Raise Your Hand (Eddie Floyd)
13 Sookie, Sookie (Steppenwolf)
14 The Happy Song [Dum-Dum-De-De-De-Dum-Dum] (Otis Redding)
15 You Don't Know What You Mean to Me (Sam & Dave)

I couldn't find any good color photos of Cropper from the 1960s, so I used a black and white one, and colorized it. This is from 1967.

Robbie Robertson - Bad Intentions - Various Songs (1994-2007)

A couple days ago, a kind commenter named RKMiller sent me a couple of Robbie Robertson songs that had been on my wish list for many months. I'd also posted a stray tracks album of his music. Getting these two songs has finally has freed me to post the other two stray tracks albums that I've made. Here's the next one, the second of three.

I get the impression that Robertson has been in musical semi-retirement ever since he broke up the Band around 1976. He's never gone on tour, and I only know of one full-length concert he did in his decades as a solo artist, which I've posted at this blog. He takes his sweet time between albums, and doesn't promote them much. Probably he's made a ton of money from writing band classics like "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," so he can treat his music career more like a hobby than a way to earn a living.

Be that as it may, he's actually released a lot of songs that haven't come out on his studio albums. He's only put out six studio albums since his solo career began in the 1980s until now, but I've found enough material for three stray tracks albums. He's been involved in many music soundtracks, often for director Martin Scorsese, so a lot of songs have come out on soundtrack albums instead. For this album, six of the songs are from three different movie soundtracks. In addition, there are a couple of live cover versions ("I Shall Be Released" and "Who Do You Love"), a tribute album cover ("Going to the River"), a B-side ("Deneta"), two album bonus tracks ("Holy Hell" and "Pray"), and one unreleased song. The unreleased song, "World on Fire," is sung with Sarah MacLachlan, and sounds as good as the others.

This album is fairly long, at 54 minutes. You could remove the two live covers and still have enough songs for a solid album that's nearly all originals. So if you're a fan of Roberton's music, definitely give this a listen.

By the way, there still are a few items on my wish list. Here's the list again:

01 Bad Intentions (Robbie Robertson)
02 Let the Good Times Roll (Robbie Robertson & Cassandra Wilson)
03 Deneta (Robbie Robertson)
04 I Shall Be Released (Robbie Robertson, Elvis Costello & Rita Coolidge)
05 Holy Hell (Robbie Robertson)
06 Pray (Robbie Robertson)
07 Amazing Grace [Instrumental] (Robbie Robertson)
08 Carry Me (Robbie Robertson)
09 Out of the Blue [Instrumental Version] (Robbie Robertson)
10 Shine Your Light (Robbie Robertson)
11 World on Fire (Sarah McLachlan with Robbie Robertson)
12 Going to the River (Robbie Robertson with Galactic)
13 Who Do You Love (Eric Clapton & Robbie Robertson)

The cover photo features Robertson at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York in 1994.

The Style Council - Cafe Bleu - Alternate Version (1984)

A few days ago, I posted a stray tracks album of 1983 and 1984 material from the Style Council, Paul Weller's main band during the 1980s. Despite having all that material on singles and such, there were enough songs for a studio album at the same time, 1984's "Cafe Bleu." In my opinion, this album was very hit or miss. So I've kept the good songs, removed the clunkers, and replaced them with other A- and B-sides from 1984.

As I mentioned in my write-up for the stray tracks album mentioned above (called "Long Hot Summer"), Weller was in an experimental mode with the Style Council, largely giving up on rock in favor of different kinds of soul and jazz. Unfortunately for the "Cafe Bleu" album, he included songs that didn't go well together. There were several jazz instrumentals that were a showcase for keyboardist Mike Talbot, but most veered on sounding like Muzak and weren't that memorable. So I've removed all but the two of those that I liked the best. (Specifically, I cut "Blue Cafe," "Me Ship Came In" and "A Gospel.") By (drastic) contrast, the album also included some experiments with heavy funk and rap that didn't fit with the mellow jazzy stuff whatsoever. I wouldn't mind those except a couple of them weren't very good either, and didn't even feature Paul Weller much ("Strength of Your Nature" and "Dropping Bombs on the White House"). So those got the axe as well.

With five songs removed, the remainder is strong, but short, at only 26 minutes. So I've added four more songs that I didn't include on the "Long Hot Summer" stray tracks album. Those four are at the end. Three are B-side, but "Shout to the Top" was an A-side that made the Top Ten in Britain. Also, "Big Boss Groove" was an excellent song that the band played in most of their concerts, and was included on their "Greatest Hits" album, so it's odd that it was only initially released as a B-side.

With five songs gone and four songs added, the album is now 40 minutes long. Personally, I think it's a very strong album like this. It's too bad Weller seemed to make particularly bad choices about what songs to include or leave off albums during his Style Council years.

01 Mick's Blessings [Instrumental] (Style Council)
02 The Whole Point of No Return (Style Council)
03 The Paris Match (Style Council with Tracey Thorn)
04 My Ever Changing Moods [Acoustic Version] (Style Council)
05 You're the Best Thing (Style Council)
06 Headstart for Happiness (Style Council)
07 Here's One that Got Away (Style Council)
08 Council Meetin' [Instrumental] (Style Council)
09 The Big Boss Groove (Style Council)
10 Shout to the Top (Style Council)
11 Ghosts of Dachau (Style Council)
12 Spring, Summer, Autumn (Style Council)

For the album cover, I simply used the official cover without any changes.

David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust - Acoustic Mixes (1972)

Here's a type of album I've never posted before. (And note this is NOT the officially released version of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" album as you know it.) It used to be one could never find multitrack mixes of songs. I'd never even heard of those being available. But that started to change with the "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" series of computer games, in which mixes were made of famous songs that separated out each of the major instruments, like bass, guitar, drums, vocals, and so on. Also, some music formats became increasingly popular, such as 5.1 surround sound, which effectively has four music channels instead of the usual two for stereo.

Thanks to these sorts of developments, sometimes it's possible to make mixes of songs where you can strip out one or more of the instruments. It's very hit or miss, and it becomes harder to find this sort of thing the further you go back in time, because the multi-track masters often were not saved. For instance, when a special Beatles version of "Rock Band" was made in 2007, there were no multitrack versions of Beatles songs. They had to be created using special new audio forensics technology that had only recently been developed, and that took many months and lots of money. In the end, such versions were made for only about 70 Beatles of the 200 or so original Beatles songs.

When it comes to David Bowie, there aren't many of these multitrack mixes available now, but one great exception is the entire "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" album. Perhaps because that's such a famous and classic album, it got special attention. In any case, since these exist, and since I'm a big fan of stripping music back to reveal the acoustic core of songs, I edited these multitracks to create versions of each song that primarily just feature Bowie's voice and guitar. The result is essentially an alternate acoustic version of the album, allowing you to hear it in a new way, and hopefully notice little things you'd missed before.

Note that I was limited by what was on the multitrack channels. In some cases, there was some bleed of some other instruments into the channels I selected. For instance, you might get a little bit of bass on one song, or some drums on another song. But every song is stripped way down, and sounds quite different from the well-known official versions.

By chance, my source material also included one bonus track, "Sweet Head." So I tacked that onto the end. From what I understand, the multitrack mixes of another bonus track, "Velvet Goldmine," should also exist. But I haven't been able to find that one. If anyone has it, please let me know and I'll add it in.

I'm very curious what people think about this, and if you like it. If you do, and let me know, I could post more stripped versions based on multitrack mixes in the future.

This album is 42 minutes long.

01 Five Years (David Bowie)
02 Soul Love (David Bowie)
03 Moonage Daydream (David Bowie)
04 Starman (David Bowie)
05 It Ain't Easy (David Bowie)
06 Lady Stardust (David Bowie)
07 Star (David Bowie)
08 Hang on to Yourself (David Bowie)
09 Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
10 Suffragette City (David Bowie)
11 Rock 'N' Roll Suicide (David Bowie)
12 Sweet Head (David Bowie)

Just as the music here is similar to the released "Ziggy Stardust" album, but different, the cover used here is similar to that album's cover, but different.  There was a photo session that resulted in the official cover, and somehow a bunch of outtakes from that session have been made public. I picked one of the outtakes, then added the usual text in the upper left corner, and further added the words "Acoustic Mixes" there.