Sunday, December 30, 2018

Bob Dylan - The Hotel Room Tapes - Various Song Edits (1966)

So far, I've mostly posted early Bob Dylan material, from 1961 to 1964. I've got a ton more Dylan stuff to post, and I'm trying to move through it all chronologically. Before I could tackle his 1965 to 1966 period though, I wanted to make some song edits to his 1966 "hotel room tapes," and now I have. I'll present these songs as part of a 1966 stray tracks album later, but I want to highlight them here while the edits I made are still fresh in my mind.

In 2015, the archival Dylan album "The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12 - The Cutting Edge" was released. You could buy it in various formats, but only if you bought the 18 (!) CD version would you get any of the songs on the 18th CD, which contains various raw and low-hi recordings made of Dylan in hotels in 1965 and 1966. The first half consists of duets with Joan Baez done in 1965. I'm only dealing here with the second half, which is of songs Dylan did in two hotel rooms in 1966, with guitarist Robbie Robertson accompanying him.

Most of these 1966 songs are really interesting. No doubt, most or all of them would have been included on Dylan's follow-up album to his classic "Blonde on Blonde." Except Dylan got in a motorcycle accident later in 1966, and in the wake of that he decided to do in a very different musical (and personal) direction. So these songs were left behind, and the only records we have of them are from these hotel room tapes.

However, there are problems with the recordings. For starters, the recording quality ranges from okay to terrible. (I didn't include one original song,"If You Want My Love," because the sound quality is so bad and hissy.) But also, the songs were brand new at the time, and Dylan generally didn't play them all the way through successfully, because didn't know them well yet. So what I've done is stitch the different performances together to get the best Dylan versions of these songs we'll probably ever have. I also tried to eliminate the many flubs and coughs and the like.

The first song, "What Kind of Friend Is This," is fairly unedited by me. Dylan makes it through the song without any flubs or stops, and the sound quality is pretty good. But the song came to a sudden end after just a little over two minutes. I decided there was no good way to fix that, so I left the end as it is.

"I Can't Leave Her Behind" needed much more editing. This is a very nice song, with Dylan using a sound and voice similar to his country-ish "Nashville Skyline" era a few years later. Unfortunately, the song was cut in two on the official "Cutting Edge" version. Dylan made it through the first verse fine. But when he got to the chorus, he flubbed the chords like five times, starting it again each time. I simply edited out the flubs to make it sound like he got it right the first time. Then the first take ended shortly after the chorus, so I stitched in the rest of the song from the second take. There were more flubs there, but I edited them out. The verse lyrics are different, so by combining the two takes, I believe one gets the full song.

By the way, I didn't do anything with the song "On a Rainy Afternoon" because if you listen to it closely, it's actually the same song as "I Can't Leave Her Behind." The lyrics are significantly different, but the chords and melody are basically the same. Plus, all that was recorded is a minute and a half snippet, so there's not much to work with.

"If I Was a King" is the only non-original here. It apparently actually is a variant of an obscure Scottish folk song called "If I Were King of the Forest" (not to be confused by a song from "The Wizard of Oz"). Dylan recorded the song in a hotel room in Scotland, so maybe the location inspired him to remember it and do it. The song was recorded well. (There were a couple of loud coughs, but luckily they were during pauses between singing, so I was able to patch in fixes for them.) The main problem with the song is that Dylan stopped the song right in the middle, after doing the first verse and chorus. Then, for the second take, he did the second verse and chorus, apparently taking the song to the end. So I stitched the two takes together. I also used some instrumental snippet later in the song to add in an introduction, since Dylan and Robertson talked over the intro while they were fumbling around to find the right chords.

"Positively Van Gogh" presented a big challenge for me. The official "Cutting Edge" CD included three takes of the song. The first take was short and of no use to me. The second take included four verses, but then it stopped. The third take picked up where the second one left off and had the fifth verse. However, Dylan moved the capo on his guitar between the second and third take, changing the key. I tried my best to merge the second and third takes, but it's really tough when the takes are in significantly different keys. I could use my music editing software to change the pitch, but the problem is, if you do that very much, the song of Dylan's voice changes quite noticeably, until it no longer sounds like him.

So what I did was lower the pitch on the second take and raise it on the third take, so the two could meet in the middle. I did that successfully, and I believe it makes a pretty seamless transition for the guitar. But there's a cost in that the sound of vocals do get altered some. You'll probably notice the change between the fourth and fifth verses. It's unfortunate, but it's either that or not getting the entire song put together as one performance. If anyone else knows how to merge these together in a less noticeable way, please let me know.

(Apparently there was a sixth verse, but Dylan only got halfway through it on yet another take that only exists on a bootleg, so there's no way to fully restore it.)

The final song here, "Don't Tell Him, Tell Me," had lots of hiss on the official "Cutting Edge" version, and only one take was included there. Luckily, I found a bootlegged version with much less hiss that contained three takes, so I used that instead. Unfortunately, the sound quality is still wanting. The overall sound is okay, but for some reason Dylan's voice comes through poorly, making it very difficult to hear his lyrics. I still think it's a nice song with a good melody though, so I worked on it anyway.

Of the three takes I found, the second and third ones were useful. The second take included all of a verse and chorus, but then it stopped. A different verse was included on the third take, but it stopped before the chorus. So I stitched the two takes together. Then I added in the one good chorus to the end of the second verse to make a complete song.

So there you have it. All in all, this makes up 19 minutes of acoustic versions of five otherwise lost songs by Dylan in his prime 1965 to 1966 era. Yeah, purists may have issues with all the editing I did here. But I'd rather have these edited versions than the bits and pieces on "The Cutting Edge" with all the flubs and coughs and such. Virtually everything Dylan did in 1965 and 1966 was awesome, with three albums he released in that time all included in lists of the greatest albums of all time. These songs definitely fit in with the rest of his music from that time. I especially like "I Can't Leave Her Behind" and "Positively Van Gogh."

01 What Kind of Friend Is This (Bob Dylan)
02 I Can't Leave Her Behind [Edit] (Bob Dylan)
03 If I Was a King [If I Were King of the Forest] [Edit] (Bob Dylan)
04 Positively Van Gogh [Edit] (Bob Dylan)
05 Don't Tell Him, Tell Me [Edit] (Bob Dylan)

I hadn't intended for this to have an album cover, since it's only a collection of five song edits, not a proper album. But Peter at the Albums I Wish Existed blog made one for me, so what the heck, here it is. ;)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Los Lobos - Midnight Shift - Various Songs (1995-1998)

This is the next in my series of Los Lobos stray tracks albums. This covers 1995 to 1998, which is still close to what I consider their peak period of the early 1990s, so this is more excellent music from them.

Los Lobos has done a lot of songs for soundtracks and tribute albums, and that's the case again here. In fact, eight of the 15 songs here come from albums like those. Two more songs come from the spin-off group "Los Super Seven." The two songs from that prominently feature the two main singer-songwriters from Los Lobos, so they're basically Los Lobos songs.

The remaining five songs here come from the 1995 Los Lobos album "Papa's Dream." I don't consider that a "real" Los Lobos album, because it's very much an album aimed at children. If you like the whole thing, more power to you, but it contains many songs I'm not keen on hearing repeatedly. A lot of them are sung by people not in Los Lobos, some are too child-oriented for my tastes, and there are pointless remakes of "La Bamba." I've included the five songs I feel stand on their own, for adults who aren't into the whole "Papa's Dream" story for children.

By the way, I edited out about forty seconds of the instrumental "Mariachi Suite." Sorry if you don't like that, but I make these albums mainly for my own listening pleasure. The suite contains three instrumentals that don't have much to do with each other. The first two are nice, but the third is jarring and low-fi, and ruins the mood created by the first two. And, at only forty seconds long, it's too short to go anywhere interesting musically. I think the suite is much better without that part.

01 Cancion Del Mariachi [Morena De Mi Corazon] (Los Lobos with Antonio Banderas)
02 Let Love Reign (Los Lobos)
03 Mariachi Suite [Instrumental] [Edit] (Los Lobos)
04 Lonely Avenue (Los Lobos)
05 Wooly Bully (Los Lobos)
06 Route 90 (Los Lobos)
07 Corrido for Papa Lalo (Los Lobos)
08 La Mananita Alegre (Los Lobos)
09 La, La, La (Los Lobos)
10 Midnight Shift (Los Lobos)
11 Pepe and Irene [Instrumental] (Los Lobos with Money Mark)
12 Me Estas Matando (Los Lobos)
13 Lonesome Tears in My Eyes (Los Lobos with Paul Burlison)
14 La Sirena (Los Super Seven)
15 El Canoero (Los Super Seven)

Thanks to Peter at the Albums I Wish Existed blog for the album cover.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Richard & Linda Thompson - The Madness of Love - Various Songs (1977)

Here's the next in my series of Richard Thompson stray tracks albums, with this still in the middle of the Richard and Linda Thompson years.

In 1974, Richard Thompson converted to Islam, and he remains Muslim to this day. His wife Linda Thompson converted as well, but apparently more reluctantly. They released two albums in 1975, but then they moved to a Sufi community in the English countryside, much like a religious commune, and dropped out of the music business for a while.

In 1977, Richard wrote some new songs and went on a short tour with Linda. He also made an attempt to record a new album in the studio. However, something felt off to him about the new songs, or maybe getting back into music in general, because the new album never materialized. He put out another Richard and Linda Thompson album in 1978, "First Light," but it didn't contain any of the 1977 songs.

Luckily though, one concert (at Drury Lane, London) from that short 1977 tour was recorded fairly well. The first five songs here come from that Drury Lane concert. Many years later, Richard was asked about these songs, and he said, "Some songs deserve to fall off the radar." He's avoided putting them on retrospective compilations or adding them as bonus tracks or the like, so he really must have an issue with them. But it's very puzzling, because they're all good songs. Graham Parker even covered one of them ("Madness of Love") for a Richard Thompson tribute album.

If you take the five unreleased songs from that 1977 concert and add in two other obscure songs released in 1978, it makes up a lost 1977 album. In my opinion it's just as good as their other albums, though the song quality is a bit lower than ideal on the live songs.

In late 2020, the box set "Hard Luck Stories" was released. Happily, it contained better versions of four of the songs. Unfortunately, that means it didn't contain two of them, "Rescue Me" and "The Fire in the Garden." Those two sound a bit worse than the others. 

The bonus track "The Flute Tells a Story" seems to be another original from this time period. But while it was played at that same Drury Lane concert, it didn't make it to the bootleg. Instead, I found a version from a different concert bootleg. The sound quality is okay, but of lesser quality than all the others on this album, which is why it's only a bonus track.

01 The Madness of Love (Richard & Linda Thompson)
02 Rescue Me (Richard & Linda Thompson)
03 The Fire in the Garden (Richard & Linda Thompson)
04 A Bird in God's Garden (Richard & Linda Thompson)
05 The King of Love (Richard & Linda Thompson)
06 If I Were a Woman and You Were a Man (Richard & Linda Thompson)
07 Rainbow Over the Hill (Linda Thompson & the Albion Band)
08 Things You Gave Me (Richard & Linda Thompson)

The Flute Tells a Story (Richard & Linda Thompson)

When I first posted this, I had a different cover. But I wasn't happy with it, due to the lack of good color photos of Richard and Linda Thompson, especially in their first years. Many months later, I found a better picture, from December 1974. It was in black and white, but by then I had a program to help with colorizing, so I colorized it.

Belle & Sebastian - Ransomed by Tuesday - Various Songs (2001-2004)

I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season. I've been away for a while, busy with holiday stuff, but I plan to push a bunch in the next few days to make up for it.

Here's the next in my series of stray tracks albums for Belle and Sebastian. It's especially fitting to post this right after Christmas, because three songs on it are Christmas songs. But they're very off the wall songs. One ("I Took Some Time for Christmas") is an original. Another is actually a cover of a James Brown song ("Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto"). (They did some other covers of Christmas songs at the same radio show session which I didn't include here because they're standard versions of overplayed songs like "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "The Twelve Days of Christmas.")

Aside from the Christmas songs, this is a fairly standard collection of songs from B-sides, solo works, various artists collections, and unreleased songs. The two solo songs are from an Isobel Campbell solo album. One song here, the last one, is a remix of the well known Belle and Sebastian song "I'm a Cuckoo." Normally, I avoid including remixes, but I'm making an exception here because the remix is significantly different from the original song, and very well done.

01 Nothing in the Silence (Belle & Sebastian)
02 [My Girl's Got] Miraculous Technique (Belle & Sebastian)
04 I Took Some Time for Christmas (Belle & Sebastian)
05 Santa Claus (Belle & Sebastian)
06 Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto (Belle & Sebastian)
07 Final Day (Belle & Sebastian)
08 Monologue for an Old True Love (Isobel Campbell)
09 Love on the March (Belle & Sebastian)
10 Desperation Made a Fool of Me (Belle & Sebastian)
11 The Breeze Whispered Your Name (Isobel Campbell)
12 Ransomed by Tuesday (Belle & Sebastian)
13 I’m a Cuckoo [Avalanches Remix] (Belle & Sebastian)

The cover was made by Peter of the Albums I Wish Existed blog. It's based on a Belle and Sebastian concert poster from this time period.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Paul Weller - This Old Town - Various Songs (2007-2009)

Here's the next in my seemingly endless number of Paul Weller stray tracks album. I think this is a particularly strong one. It covers non-album songs from 2007 to 2009. (The album of acoustic material has already been posted as "The Start of Forever.")

As usual, this is a mix of covers, four of them from Traffic, ("John Barleycorn," "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush," "Paper Sun," and "Pearly Queen") plus one other ("Pretty Flamingo,"), Jam songs ("Shopping," "Eton Rifles," and "Thick as Thieves"),, and originals. But this is a bit unusual, in that five of the 11 songs are duets or collaborations.

By the way, I made a rather bold edit to the song "John Barleycorn." The original version started out with about a minute of a traditional Irish version of the song, done completely different from the rest of the song, and with no Weller involvement. Obviously, the idea was to compare and contrast that way of doing the song with the more modern sounding version led by Weller for the rest of the song. But I preferred just hearing the Weller part, so I lopped off the beginning section. If you don't like that, feel free to get the original version.

This album is 42 minutes long.

UPDATE: On October 30, 2022, I made some changes to the mp3 download file. I added the songs "Golden Leaves" and "Pearly Queen," which I had previously missed. I also moved the song "Thick as Thieves" from the "Talisman" stray tracks album to here. Finally, because those additions made this album too long compared to some others here, I moved two songs, "Love's Got Me Crazy" and "Shout to the Top," to the next stray tracks album in this series, "Devotion." I also moved the song "Going Underground" to the "Talisman" album, because I found out the performance was actually from 2002 and I'd misplaced it.

01 Thick as Thieves (Paul Weller)
02 Golden Leaves (Paul Weller)
03 John Barleycorn [Edit] (Paul Weller & the Imagined Village)
04 Are You Trying to Be Lonely (Andy Lewis & Paul Weller)
05 Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (Paul Weller)
06 Paper Sun (Paul Weller)
07 Shopping (Candie Payne & Paul Weller)
08 This Old Town (Paul Weller & Graham Coxon)
09 Pearly Queen (Paul Weller)
10 Pretty Flamingo (Paul Weller)
11 The Eton Rifles (Paul Weller)

I made the cover using a photo of Weller from 2008.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Robyn Hitchcock - Kiss Yourself - Various Songs (1991)

Here's yet another in my long series of Robyn Hitchcock stray track albums. As I've said with past albums, I typically have two types of albums for him: those containing songs not on the official album of that time, and those containing acoustic versions of songs on the official album of that time. The official album in 1991 was "Perspex Island." This is the former kind of album, containing 1991 songs not on that album.

All the songs here are officially unreleased. There's a bootleg that contains high quality sound versions of studio songs considered for the "Perspex Island" album. Seven of the ten songs are from that bootlegs. The remaining three are from concert bootlegs. Pretty much all the songs are acoustic in style.

"Perspex Island" is widely considered one of Hitchcock's weaker albums, done in by misguided production. I don't know what the thinking on the song selection was, because I think most of these songs are as good as the ones on that album.

I called this album "Kiss Yourself" because that's an album title Hitchcock considered, but didn't use, in the early 1990s.

01 Chain Mary to the Bed [I Dreamed I Saw Julian Cope] (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 If We Had a Baby (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Don't Kill the Sweetness in Your Heart (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 Baby, I Want You [That's About All] (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 Lobsterman (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Gracious Ladies Dine Awhile (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Love in the Garden of Light (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 The Vomiting Cross (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Dark Green Energy (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Watch Your Intelligence (Robyn Hitchcock)

For the cover art, I used the cover to the 1991 single "Oceanside." I changed the text of the sideways text.

Los Lobos - Blue Moonlight - Various Songs (1993-1994)

In 1992, Los Lobos released "Kiko," which is widely seen as their high-water mark. They waited until 1996 to release a proper studio album sequel, "Colossal Head," which was just as widely seen as a step down from "Kiko." This could be seen as an album Los Lobos could have released in 1994, which would have been better received than "Colossal Head," in my opinion.

This album is 48 minutes long. If it had been a true follow-up to "Kiko," I think one could remove some of the covers and still have a decently long album. I count five covers: "I'm Tore Down," "She's About a Mover," "Try Me," "Run Through the Jungle," and "Down Where the Drunkards Roll."

Four of the songs here are by the Latin Playboys. Basically, that's the same as Los Lobos, as it consisted of their two main singer-songwriters, plus their producer as a band member, doing more experimental stuff. They put out an album in 1994 that was hit or miss, so I only included what I considered the best songs from it. One of their songs, the excellent "New Zandu," came out a year earlier on a Los Lobos compilation.

01 I'm Tore Down (Los Lobos)
02 Blue Moonlight (Los Lobos)
03 Wrong Man Theme [Instrumental] (Los Lobos)
04 New Zandu (Latin Playboys)
05 Alone in a Crowd (Los Lobos)
06 This Time of the Year (Los Lobos)
07 She's about a Mover (Los Lobos)
08 Try Me (Los Lobos)
09 Lights Out (Los Lobos)
10 Run through the Jungle (Los Lobos)
11 Ten Believers (Latin Playboys)
12 Same Brown Earth (Latin Playboys)
13 Forever Night Shade Mary (Latin Playboys)
14 Down Where the Drunkards Roll (Los Lobos)

In making this album cover, I decided to go in a very literal direction. ;)

The Kinks - Love Gets You - Various Songs (1982-1984)

I'm back from an oddly-timed one week vacation, so I'm going to make up for lost time with a few posts today. Here's the first one.

This Kinks stray tracks album starts out with "Entertainment," a song found on their 1989 "UK Jive" album. But the song actually dates from much earlier. I don't know if the "UK Jive" version is from 1989 or the early 1980s. But I found a high quality live version from the 1982 US Festival, so I used that and removed the audience noise.

Four of the songs here come from Dave Davies' 1983 solo album "Chosen People." I'm not a big fan of his three early 1980s solo albums, but I think this is the best of them. "Love Gets You" is a particularly good song, in my opinion, so I've made it the album title here.

Three other songs are outtakes from the 1983 Kinks album "State of Confusion." In addition, there are two 1984 songs from the Ray Davies/ Kinks compilation "The Singles Collection - Waterloo Sunset." All of those and "Entertainment" are Ray Davies songs, giving him a six to four edge song count over his brother Dave on this album.

By the way, although the last two songs are credited as "Ray Davies" songs, it's highly likely it was the Kinks backing him. In this time period, Ray Davies, didn't work with anyone else. In 1985, he would put out the "solo" album "Return to Waterloo," but it was just the other Kinks on the other instruments for that album.

01 Entertainment (Kinks)
02 Take One More Chance (Dave Davies)
03 Noise (Kinks)
04 Mean Disposition (Dave Davies)
05 Once a Thief (Kinks)
06 Long Distance (Kinks)
07 Love Gets You (Dave Davies)
08 Is It Any Wonder (Dave Davies)
09 My Diary (Ray Davies)
10 The Shirt (Ray Davies)

The cover art is from Peter of the Albums I Wish Existed blog. I don't know what year it's from, but it seems to be the right band members for the time period.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Van Morrison - It's Too Late to Stop Now... Again (1973)

First off, I want to mention that I'll be on vacation for the next week, so I won't be posting anything new during that time.

This album is kind of strange. In 1974, Van Morrison released the double live album "It's Too Late to Stop Now," taken from concerts from May to July 1973. It's widely considered to be one of the greatest live albums of all time, done at a peak of Morrison's creative and performing powers. This is an attempt to make another album exactly like that, drawn from the exact same concerts, but with no overlap whatsoever. Thus the title.

Here's how I made it. In 2016, a super deluxe version of "It's Too Late to Stop Now" was released, called "It's Too Late to Stop Now, Vol. II, III, IV and DVD." That contained all of the live concerts that the original album drew from, namely:

The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA, May 24, 1973
Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, CA, May 29,1973
The Rainbow Theatre, London, Britain, July 23 and 24, 1973

In addition, there's a pristine soundboard bootleg of this show:
The Lion's Share, San Anselmo CA, February 15, 1973

So I drew on all four of those shows as raw material for this album. (As it turns out, I didn't use any performances from the London shows, since they were all repeats of songs played earlier.)

I figured out what all the unique songs from these concerts were. Then I removed all the songs that were on the official "It's Too Late to Stop Now" album. I also have posted four other complete "must have" Morrison concerts here:

Live in Boston 1968 The Catacombs, Boston, MA, 8-1968)
Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA, April 26, 1970
The Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA, August 8,1971
Pacific High Studios, San Francisco, CA, September 5, 1971

I removed any song that appeared on any of those albums too!

There were only two exceptions. I kept the version of "Into the Mystic" from the 1973 Lion's Share show, because this is a legendary "scat vocal" version, where Morrison does the song in a very different way and scat sings over most of it. I also kept the version of "Sweet Thing" from the 1973 Santa Monica show, because although that song was done in the 1971 Lion's Share show, that was a very different acoustic version.

Yet, after I removed all the songs that appeared on all those concerts and/or albums, I still was left with 18 songs, totaling an hour and 31 minutes. How long is "It's Too Late to Stop Now?" Eighteen songs and an hour and 32 minutes of music. So this is nearly exactly the same length, except a totally different bunch of songs that shouldn't overlap with any of your other live Van Morrison music taken from this blog.

On top of all that, I plan on following this soon with yet more Morrison live material from the early 1970s, consisting of songs that aren't on any of the above albums or concerts, including this "It's Too Late to Stop Now... Again" album! I think that shows what a remarkable number of songs he was doing in concert in that era.

The bottom line is, if you enjoy "It's Too Late to Stop Now," you should enjoy this. Yeah, these weren't his top choices to put on a live album at that time, but everything he was doing in concert at the time was solid gold, so there's no way to go wrong.

01 Into the Mystic [Scat Version] (Van Morrison)
02 Everybody's Talkin' (Van Morrison)
03 St. Dominic's Preview (Van Morrison)
04 Misty (Van Morrison)
05 [There'll Be Bluebirds Over] The White Cliffs of Dover (Van Morrison)
06 Purple Heather [Wild Mountain Thyme] (Van Morrison)
07 Bein' Green (Van Morrison)
08 Foggy Mountain Top [T for Texas] (Van Morrison)
09 Heathrow Shuffle [Instrumental] (Van Morrison)
10 What'd I Say (Van Morrison)
11 Hard Nose the Highway (Van Morrison)
12 Hey Good Lookin' (Van Morrison)
13 Snow in San Anselmo (Van Morrison)
14 It's Not the Twilight Zone (Van Morrison)
15 Naked in the Jungle (Van Morrison)
16 There, There Child (Van Morrison)
17 Since I Fell for You (Van Morrison)
18 Sweet Thing (Van Morrison)

The cover art was made by Peter at the Albums I Wish Existed blog. It's based on alternate art from the official "It's Too Late to Stop Now" album.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Elliott Smith - Sorry My Mistake - Various Songs (1998-1999)

Here's the next in my series of stray tracks albums for Elliott Smith.

This covers 1998 and 1999. From the start of his solo career through 1997, Smith was signed with a record company that, in retrospect, has released a lot of his material that went unreleased at the time, especially with the "New Moon" album. But from 1998 to the end of his career, it's been the opposite, with basically nothing else released since 2004. So that means there are a lot of excellent unreleased tracks here.

Smith was the kind of performer who wasn't afraid to play unreleased songs in concert. But only two songs here come from live shows. The rest are from B-sides or studio outtakes that somehow got bootlegged. Plus, there's a cover of a Beatles song ("Because") from a movie soundtrack.

By the way, the song "Some (Rock) Song" is the same song as "Song Song,," which I put on the "Angels in the Snow" album. But it has a slightly different title due to this being the full band, rocking version.

01 How to Take a Fall (Elliott Smith)
02 Our Thing [Instrumental] (Elliott Smith)
03 Some [Rock] Song (Elliott Smith)
04 Brand New Game (Elliott Smith)
05 Cecilia-Amanda (Elliott Smith)
06 Grand Mal (Elliott Smith)
07 Taking a Fall (Elliott Smith)
08 Because (Elliott Smith)
09 Stained Glass Eyes (Elliott Smith)
10 Confidence Artist (Elliott Smith)
11 Flowers for Charlie (Elliott Smith)
12 Place Pigalle (Elliott Smith)
13 Sorry My Mistake [Edit] (Elliott Smith)

I made the cover from part of a 1999 Smith concert poster.

Crosby, Stills & Nash - Lay Me Down - Various Songs (2003-2005)

It's high time for some more Crosby, Stills and Nash (CSN). Most recently, I posted a couple of CSN albums with Neil Young in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But from here on out in this imagining of the CSN/CSNY albums that might have been, we leave Young behind. CSNY did tour in 2006, but they just did songs from Young's latest album plus greatest hits. There hasn't been any real CSNY collaboration on new songs since 2002.

This album is mostly about David Crosby and Graham Nash. As the Crosby-Nash duo, they hadn't put out a new album since the late 1970s, but they put out a double album in 2004 simply called "Crosby and Nash." Most of the songs here are from that album. But only three of the exact performances are from the album. The rest are live, sometimes as CSN.

(I wish I could have more CSN performances of those songs because I know they did a lot in concert, but I've only found one excellent sounding bootleg from the era. If you know of others, please let me know.)

Unfortunately, this album doesn't have a lot of Stephen Stills on it. His three songs here come from his 2005 "Man Alive" album. Generally speaking, this time period wasn't a good one for Stills, apparently due to some particularly bad drug troubles he was going through.

But CSN was always a group where the whole was more than the sum of its parts. And with five Nash songs, four Crosby songs, and three Stills songs, I think one ends up with an album that's much stronger than any of their solo (or duo) efforts from around this time.

01 Lay Me Down (Crosby & Nash)
02 Dirty Little Secret (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
03 Ole Man Trouble (Stephen Stills)
04 Don't Dig Here (Crosby & Nash)
05 Lost Another One (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
06 Drivin' Thunder (Stephen Stills)
07 Milky Way Tonight (Crosby & Nash)
08 They Want It All (Crosby & Nash)
09 Jesus of Rio (Crosby & Nash)
10 Different Man (Stephen Stills with Neil Young)
11 How Does It Shine (Crosby & Nash)
12 Half Your Angels (Crosby, Stills & Nash)

The cover art was made by Peter from his Albums I Wish Existed blog. I don't know what year the photo dates from.

Imelda May with Jeff Beck - Iridium Jazz Club, New York City, 6-9-2010

I must say, I'm disappointed at the number of people so far who have downloaded the two Imelda May albums I've posted. I'm guessing that's due to the people who don't know her music and are reluctant to try something new. So I'm going to step away from my usual chronological approach to post this album that features May with famed guitarist Jeff Beck on every song. Maybe this can serve as a kind of "gateway drug" - come for the Beck guitar, but stay for the May vocals. ;)

For a couple of years around 2010, May and Beck toured together as part of a tribute to guitarist Les Paul. In 2011, an official album was released from one of these shows called "Rock 'n' Roll Party Honoring Les Paul." If you don't have it, you should get it. It features May singing on about 30 minutes of music, but features another 30 minutes of music, some of those instrumentals and some sung by others, including some famous guest singers like Brian Setzer and Gary U.S. Bonds.

This is similar to that album, but it's not the same. This is taken from a DVD of another Les Paul tribute show put on by Beck, May, and others at the Iridium Jazz Club in 2010. It only features the songs sung by May. She sings more here, for about 42 minutes of music instead of the 30 on the official album.

The show entirely consists of classic songs from the 1960s or earlier (mostly earlier). It's a good mix of lively rockabilly numbers and romantic torch songs. Most of them were hits by Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford in the early 1950s. All of them, in my opinion, show what a great singer May is, as well as what a great guitarist Beck is.

01 Poor Boy (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
02 Cry Me a River (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
03 My Baby Left Me (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
04 How High the Moon (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
05 Sitting on Top of the World (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
06 Bye Bye Blues (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
07 The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
08 Vaya Con Dios (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
09 Mockin' Bird Hill (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
10 I'm a Fool to Care (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
11 Tiger Rag (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
12 Remember [Walking in the Sand] (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
13 Please Mr. Jailor (Jeff Beck with Imelda May)
14 Casting My Spell on You (Jeff Beck with Imelda May & Darrel Higham)

I made the cover based on a photo of Beck and May that I found. But I'm not sure what concert it's from.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Kinks - Hidden Quality - Various Songs (1979-1981)

Here's yet another album of stray tracks from the Kinks. And I'm hardly done with them yet. They're my second favorite musical group of all time (after the Beatles), so I love highlighting what a deep quality discography they have.

This album covers 1979 to 1981, which was a time of renewed popularity for the band in the US. The songs here are about evenly split between Dave Davies songs (six) and Ray Davis songs (five). Dave Davies was having a renewed effort at a solo career, putting out three solo albums in the early 1980s. Two of the songs here - "Nothin' More to Lose" and "Imagination's Real" - are from his 1980 solo album, but they're listed as Kinks songs because these recordings come from Kinks concerts. I also considered putting on a version of "Too Serious" from a 1981 Kinks concert, but for sound quality reasons I went with the studio version from his 1981 solo album.

The Ray Davies songs on this album are mostly taken from "Picture Book," the Kinks' box set. However, there's one live cover of an Everly Brothers song, "Bird Dog," sung by Ray, that I've included too. Also, there's one Ray song I considered including but didn't quite make the cut. "Maybe I Love You" is a 1980 demo from the box set, but the recording is clearly unfinished, with vocals only on the choruses.

I think this makes a fine 40-minute-long Kinks album, although it's more Dave-heavy than usual for the group.

01 This Precious Time [Long Lonely Road] (Dave Davies)
02 Hidden Quality (Kinks)
03 Within Each Day (Dave Davies)
04 Duke (Kinks)
05 Nothin' More to Lose (Kinks)
06 Nuclear Love (Kinks)
07 Imagination's Real (Kinks)
08 Bird Dog (Kinks)
09 Too Serious (Dave Davies)
10 Stolen Away Your Heart (Kinks)
11 Eastern Eyes (Dave Davies)

The cover art was made by Peter at the Albums I Wish Existed blog. I'm not sure what year it's from, but it looks like it shows Mick Avory, Dave Davies, Ray Davies, Ian Gibbons, and Jim Rodford, who were the members of the band from about 1980 to 1985.

Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale of New York - Various Songs (1985-1989)

I've posted three Kirsty MacColl albums already, as I move chronologically through her career. Those three all contained many good songs, but this is when she really began to hit her stride.

The highlight here has to be "Fairytale of New York," a duet with the Pogues that is the most played Christmas song of the 21st century in Britain. Incredibly, it hits the charts pretty much every single Christmas season there. It's not nearly as well known in the US, however, but it should be.

That song, plus the first two here, were recorded at a time when MacColl was having a prolonged dispute with her record company. She wasn't really free to put out her own music until 1989, when she released her album "Kite." The remainder of the songs here are B-sides from singles off that album. But I would argue that most of these are just as good as the songs that made the album.

This album is 44 minutes long.

01 He's on the Beach (Kirsty MacColl)
02 Please, Go to Sleep (Kirsty MacColl)
03 Fairytale of New York (Pogues & Kirsty MacColl)
04 Clubland (Kirsty MacColl)
05 Don't Run Away from Me Now (Kirsty MacColl)
06 You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby [Long Version] (Kirsty MacColl)
07 Closer to God (Kirsty MacColl)
08 The End of a Perfect Day (Kirsty MacColl)
09 La Foret de Mimosas (Kirsty MacColl)
10 Happy (Kirsty MacColl)
11 Please Help Me, I'm Falling (Kirsty MacColl)
12 El Paso (Kirsty MacColl)
13 Still Life (Kirsty MacColl)

The cover was found by Peter of the Albums I Wish Existed blog. It's from a rare single of "Fairytale of New York," with the Pogues name removed.

Belle & Sebastian - The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner - Various Songs (2000-2001)

Here's another album of stray tracks from Belle & Sebastian. This one covers 2000 to 2001, which was still in the middle of their late 1990s to early 2000s heyday.

Most of the songs here are various A- and B-sides. But there also are two original songs that were only ever officially released on a compilation of BBC performances. (Two more songs from that same BBC performance will appear on the next stray tracks album.)

Furthermore, on the last album I included a couple of solo songs by members of the group that I considered as good as Belle & Sebastian songs. There are three more solo songs this time, two by Isobell Campbell and one by Stevie Jackson. There will be more solo songs on future stray tracks albums, as the group began to fracture and put out more solo material.

01 Come, O Come Emmanuel (Belle & Sebastian)
02 Falling from Grace (Isobel Campbell & the Gentle Waves)
03 Sisterwoman (Isobel Campbell & the Gentle Waves)
04 Good Time (Stevie Jackson)
05 Jonathan David (Belle & Sebastian)
06 Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove It (Belle & Sebastian)
07 The Loneliness of a Middle Distance Runner (Belle & Sebastian)
08 I'm Waking Up to Us (Belle & Sebastian)
09 I Love My Car (Belle & Sebastian)
10 Marx and Engels (Belle & Sebastian)
11 Shoot the Sexual Athlete (Belle & Sebastian)
12 The Magic of a Kind Word (Belle & Sebastian)

The cover art is by Peter of his Albums I Wish Existed blog. It's taken from the artwork for the cover of the book by a similar name as this album ("The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"). Belle and Sebastian have a habit of quirky covers that don't actually show the band, so I think this fits.

Various Artists - Nuggets 5: Canada (1966-1972)

I've got a bunch of artists I want to post more stray tracks albums of so I can move on to posting from yet more artists. As a result, it's been a long while since I've posted any various artists collections. But I've got a whole bunch of those I plan on posting as well. Let me continue with the rest of my Nuggets series before moving to other various artists collections.

As I explained before, I really liked the two Nuggets box sets Rhino Records put out, but when it came to gems outside of the US and Britain, I wanted to see what worthy material they'd missed. I've already posted my collections from the Netherlands and Australia/New Zealand. Here's Canada.

As with the previous collections, the emphasis is on garage-styled rock or pop. But there are two notable groups I didn't include: the Guess Who and Steppenwolf. That's because although some of their music could arguably qualify as garage rock (The Guess Who started out that way, with the early hit "Shakin' All Over"), I figure anyone who has any interest in this would at least have some music by both of those groups, so there's no need to repeat their songs here.

This makes up an hour and two minutes of quality Canadian rock. As with the others in the series, if there are any great songs you feel I failed to include, please let me know and I might update the song list.

1966 1-2-5 (Haunted)
1966 Brainwashed (David Clayton-Thomas & the Bossmen)
1966 Nothin' (Ugly Ducklings)
1966 That's Just a Thought that I H (Ugly Ducklings)
1967 Gaslight (Ugly Ducklings)
1967 Hard to Cry (Northwest Company)
1967 I'm Losing Tonight (A Passing Fancy)
1967 Looking at a Baby (Collectors)
1968 One Ring Jane (Mother Tuckers Yellow Duck)
1969 Feel It (It's All Meat)
1970 As the Years Go By (Mashmakhan)
1970 Signs (Five Man Electrical Band)
1971 Absolutely Right (Five Man Electrical Band)
1971 Lovin' You Ain't Easy (Michel Pagliaro)
1971 Oh, What a Feeling (Crowbar)
1971 One Fine Morning (Lighthouse)
1971 Sweet City Woman (Stampeders)
1972 I Hardly Knew Her Name (Wackers)

I made the cover art, along with the others in this series.

Paul Weller - The Start of Forever - Various Acoustic Songs (2006-2008)

Sometimes, I post Paul Weller full-band stray track albums and sometimes I post his all-acoustic stray track albums. This is the latter kind.

This is the usual sort of mix of songs. He does two Jam songs ("Liza Radley" and "The Butterfly Collector") and one Style Council song ("Down in the Siene"). He also covers a couple of famous songs ("Daydream" and "Pretty Flamingo"). I also included one song from earlier in his solo career ("Shadow of the Sun") because, as far as I know, an acoustic version of it hasn't been officially released. Most of the rest are his own songs, generally from recent solo albums.

However, there is one special section to this album, at the end of it. Weller and superstar diva Adele played three songs together in the studio for the BBC. Both of them sang on all three songs, but Adele sang most of the lead on a Weller hit, Weller sang most of the lead on an Adele hit, and then they tackled an old blues classic together.

01 I Wanna Make It Alright (Paul Weller)
02 Roll Along Summer (Paul Weller)
03 The Start of Forever (Paul Weller)
04 Wild Blue Yonder [Demo] (Paul Weller)
05 Down in the Siene (Paul Weller)
06 Liza Radley (Paul Weller)
07 Shadow of the Sun (Paul Weller)
08 Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea (Paul Weller)
09 The Butterfly Collector (Paul Weller)
10 Daydream (Paul Weller)
11 Pretty Flamingo (Paul Weller)
12 Light Nights (Paul Weller)
13 You Do Something to Me (Paul Weller & Adele)
14 Chasing Pavements (Paul Weller & Adele)
15 Need Your Love So Bad (Paul Weller & Adele)

I made the cover from a concert photo from 2009.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Kinks - History - Various Songs (1972-1975)

Yesterday, I posted an album of stray tracks from the Kinks for the years 1970 to 1971. This covers 1972 to 1975.

I previously didn't have much in the way of Kinks stray tracks from this time period. However, in the past couple of months, the song "Time Song" was released. (It was on a super deluxe edition of "The Village Green Preservation Society" album, but actually dates from 1973.) More importantly, Dave Davies' archival album "Decade" was released, with a lot of songs from this time.

Actually, there are so many Dave songs that he gets a slight majority over his brother, six to five. Ray Davies was almost exclusively focused on writing songs for a series of Kinks concept albums during this time. I would guess he must have written some songs that didn't fit the concepts. Hopefully those will be released someday.

"Scrapheap City" was on the "Preservation, Act 2" album, but that version had a female vocalist singing it. This version is sung by Ray Davies.

01 History (Kinks)
02 Midnight Sun (Dave Davies)
03 Cradle to the Grave (Dave Davies)
04 Time Song (Kinks)
05 Shadows [Instrumental] (Dave Davies)
06 Mystic Woman (Dave Davies)
07 Preservation (Kinks)
08 Mr. Moon (Dave Davies)
09 Scrapheap City [Ray Vocal Version] (Kinks)
10 Slum Kids (Kinks)
11 Web of Time (Dave Davies)

Thanks to Peter at the Albums I Wish Existed for the cover art.

Imelda May - No Turning Back (2003)

I'm a very big fan of Imelda May. This actually is an officially released album, unchanged. I usually don't post these, but it's very obscure, and I want to draw more attention to it and to May's career in general.

The reason this album is so obscure is because it was her first album, released back in 2003. It actually came out when she was still going under her given name, "Imelda Clabby." It was rereleased in 2007, with the "Imelda May" name and a new look, with a signature quiff in her hair. However, she still wasn't famous - she wouldn't get her big break until 2008, when she started appearing on TV in Britain. So even the rerelease has remained obscure.

Even though this is her first album, her rockabilly style is already established. And May isn't just a pretty face and a great voice - she also is a talented songwriter. She's already showing that at this early stage, writing three of the songs by herself.

The two songs to the end of mp3 zip file come from a 1999 Darrel Higham album. But May does all the singing on both, and I believe wrote them as well. Higham and May were already romantically linked at the time and would be married and musical partners for many years, until 2015.

This album is 46 minutes long.

01 Dealing with the Devil (Imelda May)
02 Flame of Love (Imelda May)
03 Cry for Me Baby (Imelda May)
04 [Till] I Kissed You (Imelda May & Darrel Higham)
05 What Am I Gonna Do (Imelda May)
06 Once More (Imelda May)
07 Wild about My Lovin' (Imelda May)
08 No Turning Back (Imelda May)
09 End of the World (Imelda May)
10 Y'hoo (Imelda May)
11 Don't Do Me No Wrong (Imelda May)
12 Forever You and Me (Imelda May)
13 Bring My Cadillac Back (Imelda May)
14 Lovey Dovey Lovely One (Imelda May)
15 Let Us Sing (Imelda May)
16 Bless My Soul (Darrel Higham & Imelda May)
17 You Can Persuade Me (Darrel Higham & Imelda May)

I've gone with the original cover, showing what she actually looked like in 2003. However, I've changed the text with her "Imelda May" name, to be consistent with all her other albums. I changed the font as well. Also, the original photo was in black and white, but I colorized it.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Indigo Girls - It Won't Take Long - Various Songs (1991-1996)

I've already posted four albums of stray tracks from the Indigo Girls, covering their 1980s and early 1990s material. Two of those contained all original songs, and two of those contained all covers. By the time covered here, the mid-1990s, the amount of non-album material that interests me declines, so this contains both original and cover songs.

Most of these are from a variety of studio sources, such as soundtracks, tribute albums, B-sides, and the like. Two of them are from concert bootlegs, because they're of original songs that don't seem the exist in any other format.

Unfortunately, my interest in the Indigo Girls declines around the end of the 1990s. For whatever reason, I don't think they maintained their songwriting at their previous high levels. However, I still have four more Indigo Girls albums to post, that are all acoustic versions of their best songs, generally taken from in-person radio station performances.

01 Uncle John's Band (Indigo Girls)
02 I'll Give You My Skin (Indigo Girls with Michael Stipe)
03 Play It Again Sam (Indigo Girls)
04 I Don't Want to Talk about It (Indigo Girls)
05 Wild Wild Party at the Loquat Tree (Indigo Girls)
06 Rockin' in the Free World (Indigo Girls)
07 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Indigo Girls)
08 What's the Buzz (Indigo Girls)
09 I Don't Know How to Love Him (Indigo Girls)
10 It Won't Take Long (Indigo Girls)
11 Chiapas Bound (Indigo Girls)
12 Blood Quantum (Indigo Girls)

The cover art comes straight from the cover for the "Power of Two" single, from 1994. All I did was change the text at the bottom.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Kinks - God's Children - Various Songs (1970-1971)

Back in April 2018, I posted an album of the Kinks' stray tracks from 1970 to 1972. I have since realized that I could make two albums out of their early 1970s stray tracks. So I'm deleting that post and replacing it with this one, and one to follow.

Some of this album comes from bonus tracks to various versions of the Kinks albums "Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One" and "Muswell Hillbillies," plus a couple of other songs. But about half of it consists of the songs from the "Percy" soundtrack with vocals. The Kinks put out an entire album for the "Percy" movie, but it was short to begin with (33 minutes) and half of it consisted of very forgettable instrumentals that could have been done by anyone for any incidental movie music. However, the songs with vocals are up to the usual high standards of Kinks songs from this era.

All in all, I think this is a very solid album, and better than many of the official albums that would follow in the 1970s.

01 The Good Life (Kinks)
02 Anytime (Kinks)
03 Marathon (Kinks)
04 If You Are Leaving (Dave Davies)
05 God's Children (Kinks)
06 The Way Love Used to Be (Kinks)
07 Moments (Kinks)
08 Animals in the Zoo (Kinks)
09 Dreams (Kinks)
10 Willesden Green (Kinks)
11 Mountain Woman (Kinks)
12 Lavender Lane (Kinks)
13 Kentucky Moon (Kinks)
14 Nobody's Fool (Kinks)

Thanks to Peter from his Albums I Wish Existed blog for the cover. It's the cover of the Percy soundtrack with the text changed.

Los Lobos - Till the Hands Fall Off the Clock - Various Songs (1988-1992)

I've got a lot of Los Lobos stray tracks albums to post. They've been very prolific. This album covers 1988 to 1992. It's one of my favorites, because I think the band peaked in the second half of the 1980s through most of the 1990s.

Los Lobos has a history of doing a lot of songs for tribute albums and movie soundtracks. Sometimes, they've performed great originals for such projects, like the song "Beautiful Maria of My Soul" here. But more often, they've done originals. They have an unusually wide range of material they can do justice to, from traditional songs sung in Spanish to 1950s-based roots rock to soul music to long guitar solo jams on classic rock songs. This album has all that and more. They even do a swing song from an old Disney movie.

About half of the songs here come from concerts, with four of the songs coming from live bootlegs. But don't worry, because Los Lobos has long had a policy of giving bootleggers permission to do their thing, so they are all drawn from high quality soundboard recordings.

 Los Lobos played "This Land Is Your Land" with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead in 1989. It's rather strange in that they performed this in a stadium parking lot with no crowd, and then had the performance played on ABC's evening news broadcast that evening. But it was never officially released.

01 I Wanna Be Like You [The Monkey Song] (Los Lobos)
02 Pigfoot Shuffle [Instrumental] (Los Lobos)
03 Till the Hands Fall Off the Clock (Los Lobos)
04 This Land Is Your Land (Los Lobos, Jerry Garcia & Bob Weir)
05 Someday (Los Lobos)
06 Up the Line (Los Lobos)
07 Bertha (Los Lobos)
08 Beautiful Maria of My Soul (Los Lobos)
09 Politician (Los Lobos)
10 La Iguana (Los Lobos)
11 El Zapateado [Instrumental] (Los Lobos)
12 Shotgun (Los Lobos)
13 What's Going On (Los Lobos)

Thanks to Peter at the Albums I Wish Existed blog for the cover.

George Harrison - Fear of Flying - Song Edit (1980)

I want to say upfront that I didn't have much to do with this. Credit should go to Walrusz for his musicianship here.

In 2014, George Harrison's widow Olivia Harrison played a one-minute-long snippet of a song George recorded around 1980 with just his voice and acoustic guitar. It was a cover of a song by Charlie Dore released in 1979, but it sounds pretty much exactly like a Harrison original. I found that snippet and found a way to repeat parts of it and make it about two minutes and twenty seconds long. I posted that here, as part of an album of acoustic Harrison songs:

I had also previously posted an album of Harrison's stray tracks from 1970 and 1971, which I called "Cosmic Empire." Unusually for me, for five of the songs there, I used versions with extra instruments and vocals overdubbed by a fan, named Walrusz. People call this kind of thing an "outfake," and normally I disdain them, but in this one case I included them because they were so well done, with lots of musical talent. They sound exactly like you'd expect a Harrison full band version of these songs would sound like, complete with slide guitar and backing vocals.

Anyway, I don't know Walrusz from Adam, but he found my blog and discovered my edit to "Fear of Flying." He took that and added his overdubbing musical talent to it. In addition to adding in drums and bass and all the rest, he added in a guitar instrumental section in the middle, and extended the outro, making the song over three minutes long. I think it sounds great!

I hope you'll agree. He emailed the mp3 to me, and he's also posted it on YouTube. Here it is:

I think it's pretty remarkable that this has come to exist thanks to a mere one minute snippet of a solo acoustic performance played on the radio one time. Thanks to Walrusz for doing this.

Oh, and if you like his overdubs on this song, make sure to check out the five other Harrison songs he gave the same treatment to on the "Cosmic Empire" album I put together:

Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left - Acoustic Version (1969)

If you're a fan of Nick Drake's music, what do you think of the orchestrations on his first two albums, "Five Leaves Left" and "Bryter Layter?" Personally, sometimes I like them, but sometimes I feel they're a bit much and I wish I could hear those albums without them. I have attempted to do just that: make versions of those albums with all the strings stripped away.

Here's my version "Five Leaves Left." I'll post my version of "Bryter Layter" another time. (There's no need for an acoustic version of "Pink Moon," since it's all-acoustic to begin with.)

I wish it were as simple as finding multitrack versions of these albums and then editing each song to remove the track or tracks with the orchestration. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. There's only been one Drake album released with more than the two stereo tracks. That's a compilation known as "A Treasury," which has a few songs from each of his studio albums. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get editable multitracks from that. If you know of such things, please let me know.

Luckily, someone else did make stripped down mixes of a handful of Drake's songs using the multitracks from that album, and posted them on YouTube. The version of "Fruit Tree" here is one of those. It's exactly the same as the album version, just minus the strings.

The rest of the songs here come from other sources though. They're all alternate versions Drake played with just his voice and guitar (or piano) that were released on "Time of No Reply," "Fruit Tree," or "John Peel Session," plus two versions taken from bootlegs. These performances are sometimes a little different from the album versions, but generally he played and sang his songs very similarly each time. So this is as close as an orchestra-free "Five Leaves Left" as you're likely to get, unless the full multitracks are released for all his songs someday.

Frankly, some songs don't sound that different, because they were pretty close to being all acoustic anyway. But others were heavily produced, such as "'Cello Song," "Way to Blue," or "Man in the Shed," and these versions sound quite different. This version is a full four minutes shorter than the official album, since things like the bongo-based instrumental section at the end of "'Cello Song" aren't included.

I'd be curious to hear from people, if you prefer this version or the orchestral version, or if you like both.

01 Time Has Told Me (Nick Drake)
02 River Man (Nick Drake)
03 Three Hours (Nick Drake)
04 Way to Blue (Nick Drake)
05 Day Is Done (Nick Drake)
06 'Cello Song (Nick Drake)
07 The Thoughts of Mary Jane (Nick Drake)
08 Man in a Shed (Nick Drake)
09 Fruit Tree (Nick Drake)
09 Saturday Sun (Nick Drake)

Regarding the cover, if you remember the artwork for the original album, the back cover prominently features a photo of Drake leaning against a wall while a man quickly walks past him. There were some outtakes from that photo session. I used one of the outtakes to replace the front photo. I otherwise kept the art the same, except I changed the title.

Also, here's another alternate I considered, that I colorized.

Kirsty MacColl - Real - Various Songs (1983-1984)

Kirsty MacColl put out her first album, "Desperate Characters," in 1981. By 1983, she was ready to put out her second album. It was so close to coming out that it had a name, track listing, and cover art. But the record company balked at the last minute, worried it wouldn't sell enough to be worth their bother.

This is my attempt to recreate that album. I must admit that it's an imperfect attempt though, because it was due to have 12 songs on it, and only nine of them have come to the public either officially or on bootleg. So I filled out the rest of the album with five other songs from 1984. One of them, "A New England," was a hit for her in Britain.

Only one of the songs intended for the album, "Berlin," was released at the time, as an A-side. Four more were released later on compilation albums. The last four, "Germany," "Goodnight Paris," "Lullaby for Ezra," and "Up the Grey Stairs," remain unreleased, but their sound quality is very good, since they are studio versions.

Is it the lost album "Real?" No. But is it up to MacColl's usual high standards? Pretty much. I say "pretty much" because some of the unreleased songs meant for the album apparently were demos and not fully developed. I hope that someday the rest of the album will see the light of day so we can see exactly how the whole thing was supposed to sound

By the way, the songs from "Real" that still haven't become public in some way are: "Bad Dreams," "Man with No Name," "Time."

The last song here, "London Girls," needs some special explanation. The song was written by MacColl as the opening theme song for a short-lived British TV show called "Dream Stuffing." It was never officially released in any form. Like a lot of TV theme songs, it was quite short, in this case less than 40 seconds long. However, I noticed that it ended with a musical snippet that repeated a snippet near the front of the song. So I used that to edit it to repeat itself without a pause in the middle. Even with the repeat, the song is only one minute and twenty seconds long. But now it sounds more like a song to me instead of a snippet.

This album is 54 minutes long.

UPDATE: On January 22, 2022, I updated the mp3 download file. Four of the songs intended for the "Real" album, "Germany," "Goodnight Paris," "Lullaby for Ezra," and "Up the Grey Stairs," became public sometime in 2021, and I finally found out about them and added them. That makes this a much more accurate version of "Real." I also moved the song "I Want Out" to the previous stray tracks collection "You Still Believe in Me," because I thought it was intended for "Real" and apparently it was not. I swapped it with "Berlin," which apparently was supposed to be on "Real."

01 Berlin (Kirsty MacColl)
02 Annie (Kirsty MacColl)
03 Germany (Kirsty MacColl)
04 Goodnight Paris (Kirsty MacColl)
05 Sticked and Stoned (Kirsty MacColl)
06 Camel Crossing (Kirsty MacColl)
07 Lullaby for Ezra (Kirsty MacColl)
08 Up the Grey Stairs (Kirsty MacColl)
09 Roman Gardens (Kirsty MacColl)
10 A New England (Kirsty MacColl)
11 Patrick (Kirsty MacColl)
12 I'm Going Out with an Eighty Year Old Millionaire (Kirsty MacColl)
13 Shutting the Doors (Kirsty MacColl)
14 London Girls [Edit] (Kirsty MacColl)

When I first posted this album, I used a cover that I thought was the real cover for the intended album. But I later found out it a fan creation and had no relation to whatever cover may have been planned. Although it's good, it lacks color, so I decided to make my own. This one uses a photo from 1981. I couldn't find any good ones of her from 1983.

Robyn Hitchcock - Another Eye - Various Songs (1990)

So far, I've typically posted two Robyn Hitchcock albums for each official studio album he put out, one of stray tracks from that time, and one of acoustic versions of the songs from the official album. But his 1990 album "Eye" was all acoustic, so an acoustic version of that would be pointless. Still, I was able to come up with a stray tracks album from that time.

"Eye" is one of my favorite Hitchcock albums. So I'm not surprised the songs from that time are similar and also good. The first nine here are from various bonus tracks and archival releases. Then there are three unreleased songs done live in concert (with the crowd noise stripped away, as usual). A couple of those are a bit rough in terms of sound quality, coming from audience bootlegs. If you don't think any of them are up to snuff, just delete them and you'll still have a nice album.

The last song I took from "Eye" itself. In my music collection, I remove it from the "Eye" track listing and put it here instead. That's because "Eye" has two versions of the song "Queen Elvis," one called "Queen Elvis" and the other called "Queen Elvis II," but to my ears they sound pretty much exactly the same. I don't see the point of having both on one album, especially since it's already an hour long without it. I find I can appreciate "Queen Elvis II" here much better.

Unlike some other Hitchcock stray track albums, I don't have an alternate, almost-used title for the album title. I went with "Another Eye" in part, because that's literally true, it's like another "Eye" album, but also in part because I thought I could have fun making a cover with a giant eyeball on it. Which I did. ;)

01 Century (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 Shimmering Distant Love (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Lovers Turn to Skulls (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 She Reached for a Light (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 The Beauty of Earl's Court (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 I Wanna Go Backwards (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Lightplug (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Toadboy (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Lovely Golden Villains (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Snow Strike (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 It Should Be Darker (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 Love Is What [Frightens You the Most] (Robyn Hitchcock)
13 Queen Elvis II (Robyn Hitchcock)

For the album cover art, I found a picture of a giant floating eye. Then I found another picture for the background, and merged the two together. Sorry I don't know the name of the artist who did the eye.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Evie Sands - The Best of Evie Sands (1965-1974)

For the most part, I've been posting stray tracks collections from well known artists. However, there's another bunch of albums I could post, which are best of collections from lesser known artists. Some artists have been underappreciated, and often have never had a decent official best of album (if they even had one at all). If there's interest, I could post more albums of this type.

Here's a good example. As far as I know, there never have been any sort of best of representing Evie Sands whatsoever. And that's a real shame, because in a better world, Sands should have been a big star. Looking at the album cover here, it's plain to see that she was gorgeous, and she had a great voice, plus charisma. But making it big in the music business requires some amount of luck, and she never got a lucky break.

You can read about her career in Wikipedia here:

But the gist of it is that she recorded many songs that should have been hit singles for her, but weren't for one reason or another. Mostly, her record companies were too small or incompetent. For four different songs, she did the earliest version, but other artists had the hit with it. For instance, she was the very first to record and release "Angel of the Morning," but her record company was going out of business at the time. Later that same year, 1967, another little known singer, Marrliee Rush had a top ten hit single with it, and it has since gone on to be covered by dozens of artists and has been a hit over and over again.

On top of everything else, Sands was a talented guitarist and even evolved into a pretty good songwriter. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of most of her 1970s work, because she fell a victim to the trends of the times, such as disco in the late 1970s. She retired from recording music after that for a long time.

However, she resumed her career in 1999 with the release of the album "Women in Prison." I have this album and I like it a lot. She's gone on to put out more good music since then, unfortunately still in obscurity. She continues to tour and record to this day.

I haven't included any of the music from her latter career, since that's a different kettle of fish, done in a somewhat different style. Her earlier material was done for a variety of different labels, so it's highly unlikely any company will ever gather all the rights together for a good best of album. But here's my version. It's 49 minutes long, and arranged in rough chronological order.

01 I Can't Let Go (Evie Sands)
02 You've Got Me Uptight (Evie Sands)
03 Take Me for a Little While (Evie Sands)
04 Run Home to Your Mama (Evie Sands)
05 Picture Me Gone (Evie Sands)
06 Angel of the Morning (Evie Sands)
07 Billy Sunshine (Evie Sands)
08 But You Know I Love You (Evie Sands)
09 Any Way that You Want Me (Evie Sands)
10 Close Your Eyes, Cross Your Fingers (Evie Sands)
11 It's This I Am (Evie Sands)
12 I'll Hold Out My Hand (Evie Sands)
13 Tell Me How to Feel [Live] (Evie Sands)
14 A Woman's Work Is Never Done (Evie Sands)
15 I Love Makin' Love to You (Evie Sands)

Sands is so obscure today that I had a hard time finding a decent color photo of her from her younger years. The cover art comes from her 1974 album "Estate of Mind." I cropped it and tweaked with the coloring to make it less reddish.

Sheryl Crow - Live Acoustic - Radio 3 FM, Hilversum, Netherlands, 9-17-1998

I want to post more Sheryl Crow stray tracks albums. But before I do, I feel compelled to post this. It's a live acoustic album where she plays her big hits from her era of peak commercial popularity.

As I've said elsewhere, I think Crow is a very talented singer and songwriter. However, she can be hit or miss with her songwriting, and suffers from some mediocre filler-type songs on her albums. Also, her production is generally okay on a song-to-song basis, but across an entire album, it tends to sound too slick and "adult contemporary" to be ideal, in my opinion.

That's why I particularly like to hear Crow in an acoustic setting. It allows one to strip back the gloss to better highlight her considerable talent. And on a show like this, she plays her best songs.

This is mostly from one 1998 concert in the Netherlands. It was broadcast over the radio, so the sound quality is excellent. However, the first three songs are from another 1998 concert, with the same excellent sound. I found two acoustic shows with very similar song lists, so I just added the few songs that were different. I put those at the front, because the main concert comes to a natural climax, and I didn't want to lessen that with some more songs at the end. She is only accompanied by guitarist Tim Smith for both shows. He sings lead for much of one of the songs ("She Will Have Her Way").

Note that the first song in the Netherlands concert, "Everyday Is a Winding Road," is done acoustically like the others, but it has a final chord ring out to total silence instead of any crowd noise like all the others. I don't know what's up with that. Maybe it comes from a soundcheck?

Crow is in a chatty mood for this show. I separated all the significant talking onto their own tracks, each of them called "talk," because that's my usual habit for live shows. The album is one hour and six minutes total, and 58 minutes if you take out the talking tracks.

01 It Don't Hurt (Sheryl Crow)
02 The Difficult Kind (Sheryl Crow)
03 Anything but Down - She Will Have Her Way (Sheryl Crow with Tim Smith)
04 Everday Is a Winding Road (Sheryl Crow)
05 talk (Sheryl Crow)
06 My Favourite Mistake (Sheryl Crow)
07 talk (Sheryl Crow)
08 Riverwide (Sheryl Crow)
09 talk (Sheryl Crow)
10 A Change Would Do You Good (Sheryl Crow)
11 talk (Sheryl Crow)
12 If It Makes You Happy (Sheryl Crow)
13 Leaving Las Vegas (Sheryl Crow)
14 talk (Sheryl Crow)
15 Strong Enough (Sheryl Crow)
16 talk (Sheryl Crow)
17 Mississippi (Sheryl Crow)
18 All I Wanna Do (Sheryl Crow)

Thanks to Peter at the Albums I Wish Existed blog for the cover art.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Paul Weller - Tobacco Ash Sunday - Various Songs (2005-2006)

I have so many Paul Weller stray tracks albums to post. Some of them are all-acoustic albums, but this is an example of the other kind, the usual collection of B-sides and rare live songs and the like.

I think this is a particularly strong collection, as far as Weller stray tracks albums go. He does one Jam song, "In the Crowd." and one Style Council song, "Long Hot Summer." A particular highlight is two duets of classic tunes with Amy Winehouse. Most of the rest of the songs are originals.

By the way, one more song that's a cover is "Tobacco Ash Sunday." It's an obscure song done by the obscure group "Harsh Reality" from 1968. The fact that Weller even knew this song existed shows what a massive music collector and fan he is.

This album is 44 minutes long.

UPDATE: On October 31, 2022, I updated the mp3 download file. This album was somewhat longer than the other stray tracks albums around it, so I moved one song, "Thick as Thieves," to the next album in the series, "Talisman."

01 Super Lekker Stoned [Instrumental] (Paul Weller)
02 I Wanna Be Where You Are (Carleen Anderson & Paul Weller)
03 I Don't Need No Doctor (Paul Weller)
04 Don't Go to Strangers (Amy Winehouse & Paul Weller)
05 I Heard It through the Grapevine (Amy Winehouse & Paul Weller)
06 In the Crowd (Paul Weller)
07 Long Hot Summer (Paul Weller)
08 Small Personal Fortune (Paul Weller)
09 Tobacco Ash Sunday (Paul Weller)
10 Wild Blue Yonder (Paul Weller)

I made the cover art of a photo of Weller playing the song "Tobacco Ash Sunday" at a radio show.

Kirsty MacColl - You Still Believe in Me - Various Songs (1981-1983)

This is a  Kirsty MacColl stray tracks album that deals with the years 1981 to 1983. MacColl had put out an album in 1981, but it didn't do well. She continued to try to get her solo career off the ground, but without much success so far. Mostly, this consists of the A- and B-sides of singles that didn't make much of an impact at the time. But it's all good stuff, showing what a talented singer and songwriter she was even at an early stage. There also are two unreleased demos included that are just as good.

One of the songs here, "There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis," was actually stolen from the album "Desperate Character." The reason I put that here instead of on my previous MacColl post is because the official version of that album had two versions of the song on it, which aren't that different, but this is the somewhat more country-styled version.

MacColl almost released a second solo album in 1983 called "Real." This isn't it. That'll be my next post of her stuff.

UPDATE: On January 16, 2022, I updated the mp3 download file, because I added two songs, "Love Is Cruel" and "Trouble with People." Both are unreleased studio takes that seem to have become public some time in 2021. I also removed the song "Berlin," since it was supposed to be on the 1983 "lost album" "Real" and I've made a version of that album. I replaced it with the song "I Want Out," which was a song I'd put on a previous version of the "Real" album.

01 Keep Your Hands Off My Baby (Kirsty MacColl)
02 I Don't Need You (Kirsty MacColl)
03 There's a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis [Country Version] (Kirsty MacColl)
04 Over You (Kirsty MacColl)
05 You Still Believe in Me (Kirsty MacColl)
06 Queen of the High Teas (Kirsty MacColl)
07 A Boy like That (Kirsty MacColl & Alan Lee Shaw)
08 Don't Ask Me (Kirsty MacColl & Alan Lee Shaw)
09 Love Is Cruel (Kirsty MacColl)
10 Trouble with People (Kirsty MacColl)
11 I Want Out (Kirsty MacColl)
12 Rhythm of the Real Thing (Kirsty MacColl)
13 Terry (Kirsty MacColl)
14 Quietly Alone (Kirsty MacColl)

Thanks to Peter at the Albums I Wish Existed blog for the cover art.

Cream - BBC Sessions, Volume 2: 1967-1968

Here's the second of two volumes of Cream performing for the BBC. The songs are in rough chronological order. So while the first album covers 1966 to 1967, this covers 1967 to 1968.

As I did with Volume 1, I totally overhauled this album in November 2021. I ditched the use of versions from the official BBC album, as the sound quality is poorly regarded by serious fans. Instead, I relied on the versions used by Prof Stoned from his blog whenever possible. He worked with other serious Cream fans to figure out the best sounding versions, despite the fact they're all unreleased ones.

Also, as I explained with Volume 1, I don't like having two versions of the same song on the same album. So I've created another album called "More BBC Sessions," and I've put the best sounding versions on Volume 1 and here, and the lesser versions on the "More" album. 

However,  there are four songs here that also are on Volume 1. That's due to the fact that these albums are ordered chronologically, and the band played some of the same songs at widely different times, often resulting in significantly different versions. For instance, "Steppin' Out" was played at the BBC in 1966, and again in early 1968. The other songs found of both volumes are "Sunshine of Your Love," "White Room," and "Crossroads."

Boy, how I hate Brian Matthew! He's the smarmy sounding BBC DJ who loved to talk over BBC broadcasts of great 1960s and 1970s bands like the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, Led Zeppelin, and many more. He reminds me of a real life version of Troy McClure, a Z-list actor and product promoter voiced by Phil Hartman in the first few years of The Simpsons TV show.

Matthew's voice mars nearly every archival BBC release out there. Luckily, he only spoke over one song on Volume 1. However, he marred four songs in this volume, which are marked with
"[Edit]" in their titles. I used the X-Minus audio editing program to wipe those vocals while keeping the underlying music.

Two more songs have "[Edit]" in their titles for different reasons. An excellent sounding version of "We're Going Wrong" only lasted about three minutes out of four and a half. There's a lesser quality version for the last minute an a half. I edited the two versions together so one can hear the complete thing with the best sound quality. There's a very noticeable drop off between versions though. Also, the lead vocals to "White Room" were too quiet for my tastes in places, so I used X-Minus to boost those vocals.

Unfortunately, although Cream stayed together until around the end of 1968, their last BBC session was in January 1968. This predates their last two albums, "Wheels of Fire" and "Goodbye." So to get more of their later songs represented, I used alternate sources for the last six songs. The first three of those come from the French TV show "Bouton Rouge." You shouldn't notice the change in terms of sound, because they performed for the show without an audience present. 

The last three songs do come from a concert. Technically, these are sourced from the BBC, because they come from a BBC documentary about the band called "Farewell Concert" that extensively used film footage of their last concert as a band in November 1968. This documentary was heavily criticized when it came out for its poor sound, as well as having talking over parts of the songs, and generally having poorly shot video footage. Furthermore, the band members didn't think much of their final show performance. Luckily, this documentary was released on DVD many years later, and that version improved the sound and got rid of the talking over the music. So I've used those versions. The poorly shot video footage doesn't matter to the audio. As to the performances being disappointing, I've only chosen three of the better played songs for that reason.

By the way, technically the song "SWLABR" doesn't have a subtitle, but I added one - "She Walks like a Bearded Rainbow" - because so few people know what the band intended "SWALBR" to stand for. Don't ask me what the heck it means though!

This album is 59 minutes long.

01 Born Under a Bad Sign (Cream)
02 Take It Back [Edit] (Cream)
03 Outside Woman Blues (Cream)
04 We're Going Wrong [Edit] (Cream)
05 Politician [Edit] (Cream)
06 SWLABR [She Walks like a Bearded Rainbow] [Edit] (Cream)
07 Steppin' Out [Instrumental] (Cream)
08 Blue Condition [Edit] (Cream)
09 Spoonful (Cream)
10 Sunshine of Your Love (Cream)
11 Tales of Brave Ulysses [Edit] (Cream)
12 White Room (Cream)
13 Crossroads (Cream)
14 Sitting on Top of the World (Cream)

For Volume 1, I used a photo of the band playing on the "Ready Steady Go" TV show in 1966. I believe this is also from that show, but for an appearance in 1967.