Sunday, February 23, 2020

Fleetwood Mac - BBC Sessions, Volume 3, 1968-1969

This is the next album in the Fleetwood Mac BBC series. It's the third out of six. I'm going to try to post one a day until I'm done. Please see the post of the first album in the series for a general explanation.

For this album, Fleetwood Mac was still neck deep in the blues. As with the previous two albums in this series, I've included BBC performances by Chicken Shack, so long as the lead singer is soon-to-be Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie. There's only one case of that here, "Mean Old World." Fleetwood Mac did their own version of that song on the first volume in this series.

For the previous album in this series, the vast majority of the performances were unreleased. This time, only four of the 15 are unreleased. But the sound quality of those are just as good as the rest.

Although this series is mainly about Fleetwood Mac at the BBC, I figure if there are performances of them on other radio or TV shows, those are fair game too. Those are few and far between for this era, but on this album I did include one song that comes from the band playing for a French TV show.

The one bonus track this time, "Evenin' Boogie," sounds particularly bad, in my opinion. But I've included it as a bonus track since it was done at the BBC. There's a version on the "Mr. Wonderful" album with much better sound quality.

01. Mind of My Own (Fleetwood Mac)
02. Talk with You (Fleetwood Mac)
03. Bo Diddley (Fleetwood Mac)
04. Lazy Poker Blues (Fleetwood Mac)
05. Love That Burns (Fleetwood Mac)
06. Stop Messin' Around (Fleetwood Mac)
07. Need Your Love So Bad (Fleetwood Mac)
08. Mean Old World (Chicken Shack with Duster Bennett)
09. Albatross [Instrumental] (Fleetwood Mac)
10. Like Crying (Fleetwood Mac)
11. Hang On to a Dream (Fleetwood Mac)
12. Sweet Home Chicago (Fleetwood Mac)
13. Homework (Fleetwood Mac)
14. You Never Know What You're Missing (Fleetwood Mac)
15. Can't Believe You Wanna Leave (Fleetwood Mac)

Evenin' Boogie [Instrumental] (Fleetwood Mac)

I don't know when or where this photo for the album cover was taken exactly, but it's said to be from 1968. It has Danny Kirwan in it I believe (wearing the red shirt) and he joined the band in 1968.

David Bowie - BBC Sessions, 1972-1973

Here's the next album of David Bowie performing at the BBC, though I have to admit there isn't that much actual BBC material this time around. But I use this series to include other TV or radio appearances. It's just that the vast majority in his early career were with the BBC, so it's easiest to call it that. But after 1972 he didn't appear on BBC radio for the rest of the 1970s, though he did occasionally still appear on BBC TV shows. So for this and the next album in this series, it's actually a majority of non-BBC stuff.

Six of the songs here actually come from live concerts. Two of those live versions are bonus tracks to a deluxe edition of the "Aladdin Sane" album. They don't really fit the format of this series. but I wanted to put them somewhere in my music collection and this was the best fit. Four more are from the "Ziggy Stardust" movie. Personally, I'm not a fan of that soundtrack, since the audio and the performance aren't that good. I think his 1972 Santa Monica concert, which has been officially released, is much better. But I included a few songs here that generally come from the "Aladdin Sane" album and weren't performed at the Santa Monica show.

I also haven't included any songs from the  "1980 Floor Show," a 1973 TV special starring David Bowie. That's because there's enough from that show to make up an album, which I will post at a later date.

01. Andy Warhol (David Bowie)
02. Lady Stardust (David Bowie)
03. Rock 'n' Roll Suicide (David Bowie)
04. Life On Mars (David Bowie)
05. Drive-In Saturday (David Bowie)
06. My Death (David Bowie)
07. Cracked Actor (David Bowie)
08. Time (David Bowie)
09. The Width of a Circle (David Bowie)
10. Watch That Man (David Bowie)
11. The Jean Genie (David Bowie)

The cover photo comes from one of his 1972 or 1973 concerts, but I don't know which one.

Fleetwood Mac - BBC Sessions, Volume 2, 1968

Here's the second of six albums of Fleetwood Mac performing for the BBC. If you want to know more about this series of albums in general, I suggest you read the post for the first album.

In 1968, Fleetwood Mac was all about the blues, and especially Peter Green's bluesy lead guitar work. If you like that, you'll love this. As with the last album in this series, I've included any Chicken Shack songs that they played at the BBC too, so long as they were sung by future Fleetwood Mac star Christine McVie (then still known by her maiden name Christine Perfect). For this album, there is only one such song. It's just as bluesy as the rest.

For the previous album in the series, most of the songs were officially released. On this one, just three out of 14 are. However, all the songs have very good sound quality, because I've been highly selective. There are a bunch of bonus tracks this time, due to performances that didn't make the grade.

Actually, that's not entirely true. I bumped "Long Grey Mare" to a bonus track because I included a different version of that song performed at the BBC on the last album in this series, and I only have one performance per song for the whole series. Luckily for me, the band almost never played the same song twice at the BBC, at least for the recordings of the sessions that have survived, so there are only a few more cases like that.

The other four bonus tracks, unfortunately, are all songs that the band never recorded in the studio, yet these bootleg versions just don't sound good enough for me to feature them as anything but bonus tracks.

That's especially a shame for "Intergalactic Magicians Walking through Pools of Velvet Darkness," an interesting original by band member Jeremy Spencer that parodies the psychedelic songs that were all the rage at the time, such as "I Am the Walrus." (It even has a specific poke at that song with one lyric.) By the way, that song has been given a variety of names on various bootlegs, but a book on Fleetwood Mac claims to know the real title, so that's the one I've used.

"Dead Shrimp Blues" actually has been officially released, in 2019, on a limited release for that year's Record Store Day. But it still sounds pretty bad in spots, with bursts of loud crackling. So it didn't make the cut for me.

01. How Blue Can You Get (Fleetwood Mac)
02. My Baby's Sweeter (Fleetwood Mac)
03. Buzz Me Baby (Fleetwood Mac)
04. I'm So Lonely and Blue (Fleetwood Mac)
05. Love Me or Leave Me (Chicken Shack)
06. Mean Mistreatin' Mama (Fleetwood Mac)
07. Sheila (Fleetwood Mac)
08. I Have to Laugh (Fleetwood Mac)
09. If You Be My Baby (Fleetwood Mac)
10. You're the One (Fleetwood Mac)
11. Preachin' Blues (Fleetwood Mac)
12. I Need Your Love [That Ain't It] (Fleetwood Mac)
13. You Need Love (Fleetwood Mac)
14. Without You (Fleetwood Mac)

Dead Shrimp Blues (Fleetwood Mac)
Intergalactic Magicians Walking through Pools of Velvet Darkness (Fleetwood Mac)
Long Grey Mare (Fleetwood Mac)
Look on Yonder’s Wall (Fleetwood Mac)
Wine, Whiskey and Women (Fleetwood Mac)

The cover art shows the band playing on some TV show in 1968, but I don't know which one.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Robyn Hitchcock - Goodnight Oslo & Propellor Time Acoustic Versions (2009-2010)

Here's another acoustic album from Robyn Hitchcock. I've posted two main kinds of acoustic albums from him: live cover versions, and all acoustic versions of the songs from each of his albums. This is the second kind.

Except the two albums in question, "Goodnight Oslo" from 2009 and "Propellor Time" from 2010, weren't that popular and he didn't play the songs from them in concert all that much. Thus, I've had to combine the songs from the two albums to create one album that's 40 minutes long. The first six songs are from "Goodnight Oslo," out of ten songs on that album. The remaining four songs are from "Propellor Time," out of the ten songs from that album. If you know of acoustic versions from any songs that I've missed, please let me know and I'll add them in.

All the performances are from bootlegs. That said, the sound quality is very good for all of them, to my ears. The first song was done in the studio and the rest were from concerts. But for the live ones, I stripped the audience cheering, as I usually do with these sorts of albums.

One advantage to this album is it serves as a kind of "best of" for these two albums, since he only played his favorites from them in concert.

01. What You Is (Robyn Hitchcock)
02. Saturday Groovers (Robyn Hitchcock)
03. I'm Falling (Robyn Hitchcock)
04. Hurry for the Sky (Robyn Hitchcock)
05. Up to Our Nex (Robyn Hitchcock)
06. Goodnight Oslo (Robyn Hitchcock)
07. Ordinary Millionaire (Robyn Hitchcock)
08. Propellor Time [Solo Electric Version] (Robyn Hitchcock)
09. Born on the Wind (Robyn Hitchcock)
10. Evolve (Robyn Hitchcock)

For the album cover, I decided to use some artwork drawn by Hitchcock.I have no idea what this drawing is of, or what it's called, or when it's from. If anyone does know, please tell me. But I like it, and I figure it's the sort of thing he'd put on covers sometimes. I added the color in the background to jazz it up a bit.

Norah Jones - Picture in a Frame - Various Songs (2012)

Here's the next Norah Jones stray tracks album. By this time, she had so many different musical projects going on that all these songs are just from the year 2012. If you liked her previous stray tracks albums, you'll like this. In fact, I think this is a particularly strong one.

As I keep saying, Jones's music outside her studio albums under her own name are more interesting than those studio albums. For one thing, she shows more range and takes more chances, freed from the pressure of her record company wanting her to sell millions. A good example of this is her side project, the Little Willies. Three of the songs here are from the Little Willies album "For the Good Times." A majority of that band's songs are not sung by Jones. I'm only including the ones where she sings lead. You can tell even by the band name - a penis joke - that she and her band mates are out to have fun. Their music is much more country-based than Jones' usual stuff.

All but one of the songs here were officially released. That one, a cover of "It Must Have Been the Roses" by the Grateful Dead, comes from a concert bootleg, but it sounds perfectly fine.

This album doesn't have as many covers of classic hits as with some of her other stray tracks collections. Normally, I'm not a big fan of Jones' original songs, because they tend to fall into the "easy listening" genre too much for my tastes. But many of the songs here are written or co-written by her, yet I like these more than most of the songs on her own albums. It seems some of her more adventurous songs got relegated to bonus tracks status. But breaking the mold of the typical Jones sound is what makes them stand out.

01. Everybody Needs a Best Friend (Norah Jones)
02. If the Law Don't Want You (Norah Jones)
03. Fist City (Norah Jones & the Little Willies)
04. Out on the Road [Mondo Version] (Norah Jones)
05. Oh Darling (Norah Jones)
06. Jolene (Norah Jones & the Little Willies)
07. Picture in a Frame (Norah Jones)
08. Always Judging (Norah Jones)
09. For the Good Times (Norah Jones & the Little Willies)
10. Fall Away (Norah Jones & Wax Poetic)
11. It Came upon a Midnight Clear (Norah Jones)
12. I Don't Wanna Hear Another Sound (Norah Jones)
13. Killing Time (Norah Jones)
14. It Must Have Been the Roses (Norah Jones)

The cover art comes from a 2012 publicity photo.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Fleetwood Mac - BBC Sessions, Volume 1, 1967-1968

Fleetwood Mac performed for the BBC many times from 1967 to 1971. I've compiled six albums of their BBC material. This is the first one. If you're a fan of their Peter Green-led blues era, you really should listen to these.

The official release of Fleetwood Mac's BBC performances over the years has been very frustrating. In 1995, a double album called "Live at the BBC" was released. That was very good, except for the fact that it was a mere double album, and I've compiled six albums. (Plus, there are even more performances available only via low quality bootleg recordings, or haven't been made public at all.) Some other performances trickled out over the years, a couple of this archival album, a few more on another one, etc...

Then, in 2019, there were two new releases that promised more. The album "BBC Sessions 1968" was released. That one also is good, except it is only a single album that merely deals with some of their performances from 1968. Worse, it was only a Record Store Day limited release, and it's very hard to find. It took me nearly a year before I could find a copy.

The other 2019 release, "Before the Beginning," is a travesty, and I don't use that word lightly. Even the very title is an insult, implying that all the great Fleetwood Mac music before their highly successful pop phase starting in 1975 hardly counts, and thus is "before the beginning." Most of it comes from two concerts which the liner notes claim are from unknown sources, but bootleggers know which shows those were. Then the record company layered a loop of audience noise over the entire thing! That was a dumb practice that went out of fashion around 1966, and for good reason. It makes everything sound worse, definitely worse than the bootleg versions of the exact same material. But they weren't done yet. They also included some vaguely dated "studio demos" that in fact were BBC performances. The whole thing was a joke and an insult.

Sadly, that release shows how little the band's curators think of the Peter Green era. So I'm highly doubtful that a proper and comprehensive official release of the BBC performances will be seen any time soon. Luckily, we have bootlegs. A majority of the takes in my series are from bootlegs, yet their sound is generally very good. (The ones that aren't have been demoted to bonus tracks.)

For this first volume, only four of the songs are officially unreleased. For two of those, some people might argue they don't belong here, because they're not Fleetwood Mac at all. I've found some BBC performances of the blues band Chicken Shack. Future star Christine McVie (then known as Christine Perfect) was the keyboardist and occasional lead singer for Chicken Shack for a couple of years before she officially joined Fleetwood Mac in 1970. I say "officially" because she began playing for Fleetwood Mac as a session musician in 1968, and married the band's bass player, John McVie, so she slowly before a de facto band member before it became official. Thus, in light of her later long-time connection to the band, I consider the Chicken Shack songs where she sang lead vocals fair game for this series. The two songs she did here are songs she never recorded in the studio with either Chicken Shack or Fleetwood Mac, so they're especially interesting. I'll have a few more from her Chicken Shack days on later volumes.

By the way, one of those songs, "It's OK with Me Baby," initially sounded terrible, and still sounds problematic in spots. The sound was fine in general, except that the song changed pitch several times, and for long stretches. I was able to fix most of those problems, but you can still hear some brief wobbly parts, including the first few seconds. Trust me, it sounds way better than it did before.

The rest of this album is pretty straightforward, with lots of great bluesy guitar work. The band did a few more songs at the BBC in this time frame with an obscure blue singer named Eddie Boyd. I didn't include those because Boyd sang lead and they'd belong more properly on an Eddie Boyd album. But I did include one, "The Stroller," because it's an instrumental that prominently features Green's guitar soloing.

There's one more thing I want to point out. I've already posted a bunch of stray tracks compilations from this band. Many BBC performances were included on those - more than twenty! - because early Fleetwood Mac played lots of songs that they never released on any studio recording, and the BBC versions have the best sound quality, by far. I was torn whether to include those exact same versions in this series or not. I ultimately decided to do so, because I've never seen all of the band's BBC performances collected in one place, not even on bootleg. So, my apologies about some duplication here and there.

01. Long Grey Mare (Fleetwood Mac)
02. Looking for Somebody (Fleetwood Mac)
03. Believe My Time Ain't Long (Fleetwood Mac)
04. Baby Please Set a Date (Fleetwood Mac)
05. Got to Move (Fleetwood Mac)
06. When the Train Comes Home (Chicken Shack)
07. It's OK with Me Baby [Edit] (Chicken Shack)
08. The Stroller [Instrumental] (Fleetwood Mac & Eddie Boyd)
09. The Sun Is Shining (Fleetwood Mac)
10. Don't Be Cruel (Fleetwood Mac)
11. Sweet Little Angel (Fleetwood Mac)
12. The World Keep On Turning (Fleetwood Mac)
13. I Can't Hold Out (Fleetwood Mac)
14. Mean Old World (Fleetwood Mac)
15. Black Magic Woman (Fleetwood Mac)
16. Peggy Sue Got Married (Fleetwood Mac)
17. Please Find My Baby (Fleetwood Mac)

For the cover art photo, I couldn't find any good color ones of the band in 1967, and very few in 1968. I used one from 1968. I wish I had them on stage or in the studio, but this was all I could find.

Various Artists - Grace of My Heart - Extended Edition (1996)

Here's something different than the stray tracks collections or concerts I usually post here. This is the soundtrack to the 1996 movie "Grace of My Heart." Normally, I wouldn't post something like this, because I assume the soundtrack is still in print. But, for various reasons, some really good performances were left off the official album. I've found about 20 more minutes of music not on the soundtrack that should have been, which I think is enough to justify posting this here.

"Grace of My Heart" is a very good movie, in my opinion. It currently gets 75 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. But I think that number would be higher for you if you're a big music fan. The story is closely based on the life of singer-songwriter Carole King, though there's a section where she gets involved with a Brian Wilson figure that never happened in reality.

None of the songs were actually written by King, but a bunch of very talented songwriters wrote songs in her style for the movie, including Burt Bacharach, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Jill Sobule, J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr., and Gerry Goffin (who was King's main songwriting partner for most of her 1960s hits). Normally, I'm not big on movie soundtracks, which are usually instrumental mood music or a random collection of  hit songs, but I make an exception for this one. The songs do a great job of recreating the sounds of the 1960s and 1970s, and they stand as good songs of their own.

Unfortunately, there were a bunch of songs that were featured in the movie that didn't make it onto the soundtrack. Most of these have never been made public in full, so the only way to listen to them is by getting the audio from the movie. I did exactly that for five of them. One more, "How Can I Get through to You," appeared in full as a bonus feature on the movie DVD. For the five I took from the audio, there was nothing I could do to fix things if there was movie dialogue over the songs. Luckily, there was very little of that for those. But the downside is that each of those songs are relatively short, sometimes just a minute or so, because things have to move quickly in a movie. In the case of "Heartbreak Kid," I had to piece together a song out of two separate snippets. I then repeated the chorus, to make a song that's still only a minute long.

On top of that, there's a couple of other extra songs from other sources. One weird thing is that Joni Mitchell wrote the song "Man from Mars" for the soundtrack, and her version of it appeared on it for the first week the album was on sale. But the soundtrack was produced by Larry Klein, Mitchell's husband, and they were going through a divorce right when the soundtrack came out. I guess some dispute between them led to her version being yanked and replaced by a version sung by Kristen Vigard, an actress who also is a really good singer, and who did the vocals for all the parts sung by the Carole King-esque main actress. Mitchell put "Man from Mars" on her next album, but that was a totally different version. I've included her original version here, as well as the Vigard version.

I also have two versions of "God Give Me Strength." This song was co-written by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello, and led to the two of them making an entire album together two years later. The soundtrack featured the version performed by Bacharach and Costello, but in the actual move it was sung by Vigard, who did a great version of this excellent song. So I've included both versions of that as well.

Costello also wrote the song "Unwanted Number," but a version by the retro soul group "For Real" was used on the soundtrack instead. Costello didn't put his own version on a studio album until 2018. He did play the song in concert in 1996, in a solo acoustic format, the same year the movie came out However, the sound quality isn't great on that one. So I've included the 2018 version as part of the album, and the 1996 version as a bonus track.

Thus there are three songs with two versions (including three versions of "Unwanted Number," if you could the bonus track). But those are all especially good songs, and the different versions are done by different performers, and they're all worth hearing.

Hopefully, a deluxe version of this soundtrack will be released someday, with complete versions of all the songs. Most of the songs I grabbed from the movie audio should have more complete versions without any talking over them. But also, there are another four or five songs that I couldn't include because there was so much talking and other noise over them. In particular, there were three more songs by "For Real" that I couldn't salvage. So an official version of everything would have a lot more to offer than what I'm presenting here.

Oh, one other thing I did that seems like a no-brainer to me is that I ordered all the songs, released and unreleased, in the order that they appeared in the movie. The official soundtrack had them in no logical order that I could see. The only exceptions to this ordering are the songs with two versions. I put the versions that didn't appear in the film at the end.

01. Hey There (Kristen Vigard)
02. In Another World (Kristen Vigard)
03. Blues Ain't Nothin' but a Woman Crying for Her Man (For Real)
04. In Another World (Portrait)
05. Born to Love that Boy (For Real)
06. Unwanted Number (For Real)
07. I Do (For Real)
08. Heartbreak Kid (Williams Brothers)
09. My Secret Love (Miss Lily Banquette)
10. Love Doesn't Ever Fail Us (Williams Brothers)
11. Truth Is You Lied (Jill Sobule)
12. God Give Me Strength (Kristen Vigard)
13. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (Boyd Rice & Tiffany Anders)
14. Groovin' on You (Juned)
15. Take a Run at the Sun (J Mascis)
16. Don't You Think It's Time (J Mascis)
17. How Can I Get Through to You (Juned)
18. Man from Mars (Kristen Vigard)
19. Between Two Worlds (Shawn Colvin)
20. A Boat on the Sea (Kristen Vigard)
21. God Give Me Strength (Burt Bacharach & Elvis Costello)
22. Unwanted Number (Elvis Costello)
23. Man from Mars [Piano Version] (Joni Mitchell)

Unwanted Number (Elvis Costello)

Since I changed this album so significantly, I decided it needed a different album cover. I used the cover of the DVD as the basis. But that was rectangular, so I made some changes to get it to fit into a square space. Also, I removed a list of the actors in the film. That left a big black space. I filled that by adding in a photo of Kristen Vigard, since she had such a prominent role as vocalist.