Saturday, June 30, 2018

Simon and Garfunkel - Rarities, 1957-1965 - Non-Album Tracks

Without a doubt, Paul Simon is one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Yet did you know that there was a time that he was a derivative hack? And it wasn't just a brief moment either.

In 1957, Simon and Garfunkel had the minor hit "Hey Schoolgirl," under the name "Tom and Jerry." Simon was just 16 years old at the time. It was a good song, but very derivative of the Everly Brothers. Simon then spent the next seven years or so writing more derivative songs of the big artists of the day. Most of them were awful.

In the early 1960s, folk music became a very popular trend. Around 1963, Simon drastically changed his style from rock and roll to folk. Somehow in that process, his songwriting ability improved by several orders of magnitude. Only about a year later, he would write "The Sound of Silence," clearly one of the greatest songs of all time. I would really like to know how Simon went from a hack to a genius after already being a songwriter for many years.

Anyway, it turns out that as Simon switched to folk music, he (and sometimes Garfunkel with him) wrote and/or sang some actually good songs that have basically been utterly forgotten. Understandably, Simon would prefer that everything he did prior to 1965 be completely forgotten, with the possible exception of his "Hey Schoolgirl" hit. So his early recordings have remained extremely rare, coming out on albums of dubious legality or outright bootlegs.

It was a painful job for me slogging through this early material, but I found some gems in all the crap. Simon was so bad for so many years that I only found one good song after his 1957 hit until 1963, and that was a 1961 song, "Private World," that was actually written and sung by Art Garfunkel! (I don't know why Garfunkel stopped writing songs, because at that point he arguably was better at it than Simon.)

Aside from the fluke of that 1957 hit and that 1961 Garfunkel song, this collection really begins in 1963. Seemingly out of nowhere, Simon began writing really good folk songs like "Carlos Dominguez." However, it should be pointed out that some of the songs here are actually covers, like "River," "Linstead Market," and "Zombie Jamboree." There was steady improvement in 1964. But even that year, Simon still was attempting some awful songs, usually of the derivative rock and roll that he'd been doing for years. For instance, that year Simon and Garfunkel recorded a version of the kids' song "Bingo," the one with the lyric "There was a farmer who had a dog, and Bingo was his name-o." Trust me, you don't want to hear it.

Despite songs like that, I believe the songs I've chosen here are all good, and about the same level as the songs on the first Simon and Garfunkel album, the lesser known "Wednesday Morning, 3 AM." If you like that, you'll like this. Though be warned that Garfunkel is featured on less than half the songs.

By the way, the ONLY song on this album that Simon hasn't disowned himself from is the last one, "A Church Is Burning." Simon and Garfunkel played that song in concert at least through 1967, so it's made it onto some official albums, including a live album. But the version here is a still unreleased version from a BBC radio show.

In gathering up all of Simon and Garfunkel's stray tracks, I found there were two albums' worth from their classic 1960s era. I'll follow this album with a stronger collection covering 1966 to 1970.

This album is 48 minutes long.

01 Hey Schoolgirl (Simon & Garfunkel)
02 Private World (Simon & Garfunkel)
03 Carlos Dominguez (Paul Simon)
04 River (Paul Simon)
05 Linstead Market (Paul Simon)
06 Zombie Jamboree (Paul Simon)
07 Forever and After (Paul Simon)
08 3-4 AD [Instrumental] (Paul Simon)
09 Davy's Train Blues [Instrumental] (Paul Simon)
10 Yesterday's Little Girl (Simon & Garfunkel)
11 House Carpenter (Paul Simon)
12 Gospel Ship (Paul Simon)
13 Pretty Boy Floyd (Paul Simon)
14 Goin' to the Zoo (Paul Simon)
15 I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound (Simon & Garfunkel)
16 The Side of a Hill (Simon & Garfunkel)
17 A Church Is Burning (Simon & Garfunkel)
18 Bad News Feeling (Paul Simon)

The cover photo was taken in January 1958, back when Simon and Garfunkel were known as Tom and Jerry. By the way, for most of the songs here other aliases were used, but for simplicity's sake I only used their real names.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Kinks - Phobia - Alternate Version (1993)

The latest news is that the Kinks could be reuniting, with Ray Davies and Dave Davies working on a new album together. Personally, I'm very skeptical that anything will come of it. But in hopes that it'll come true, let's celebrate by taking a look at the last Kinks album of all new material, "Phobia."

The Kinks had a pretty consistent run of album up through "Word of Mouth" in 1984. But their albums in the late 1980s and "Phobia" in 1993 were all highly problematic. With "Phobia" there was literally too much of a good thing. The album was 76 minutes long, which was about as long as an album could fit on a single CD. A common trend in the first ten years of so of the CD was what I call "CD-bloat-itis." Meaning, before the CD, artists had to edit themselves down to fit their music on about a 45 minute long album, but with the CD becoming the dominant music form, they didn't have to do that anymore. Songs got longer, and songs that didn't deserve to be on the album got thrown on.

"Phobia" is one of the worst examples of this. The first thing I did was remove all the sub-par songs. Then I took an axe to some songs that were good, but went on a couple of minutes too long: "Drift Away," "Only a Dream," "Surviving," and "Hatred (A Duet)." For the first three, I found good points to edit down the ends of the studio versions. But for "Hatred," I found a version the Kinks did for a live TV show that was only four minutes long instead of six. (The fact that they played a shorter version in concert shows how unnecessarily long the album version was.)

Then, even though the album was too long to begin with, I added some songs that didn't make the album but were better than some of the ones that actually did: "Did Ya," "Look through Any Doorway," "Eternity," and an acoustic version of "To the Bone." The first two were actually released on an obscure EP two years earlier, but one of them was included as a "Phobia" bonus track, so I figure they were fair game. "Eternity" was a Dave Davies demo that went unreleased at the time and came out much later. Probably it, like Dave's "Look through Any Doorway," didn't get included because Ray Davies wouldn't allow very many of his brother's songs on the album. I included an unreleased acoustic version of "To the Bone" so it wouldn't duplicate the version on the 1996 "unplugged" style "To the Bone" album, which is technically the Kink's last album. It's a demo from the "Phobia" era, but probably was written a little too late to make the album.

One problem with "Phobia" was that the Kinks decided to go for a hard rocking sound on many of the songs, sometimes verging on heavy metal. Perhaps it was an attempt to sound relevant with the popularity of Nirvana and "grunge" in the early 1990s, but this sound has not dated well for them, and didn't really fit the songs. The songs I removed got rid of most of the worst offenders, giving the album more of a typical Kinks sound.

Despite the four added songs, I still managed to remove or edit down so many songs that the album is 53 minutes long instead of 76. I think the album would have been much more acclaimed if the Kinks would have used similar restraint.

If you've never given the album a serious listen, you should now. Ray and Dave Davies never lost their songwriting chops, it's just that they became more hit and miss, and made mistakes like chasing production trends that didn't suit their music. With the "misses" removed, I think this is a very solid album.

01 Did Ya (Kinks)
02 Look through Any Doorway [Open Up Your Heart] (Kinks)
03 Drift Away [Edit] (Kinks)
04 Still Searching (Kinks)
05 Eternity (Kinks)
06 Only a Dream [Edit] (Kinks)
07 Surviving [Edit] (Kinks)
08 The Informer (Kinks)
09 Hatred [A Duet] (Kinks)
10 Somebody Stole My Car (Kinks)
11 Close to the Wire (Kinks)
12 Scattered (Kinks)
13 To the Bone [Acoustic Version] (Kinks)

The cover is unchanged from the official release.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Love - Out Here - Alternate Version (1969)

First off, I want to say that I think "Forever Changes" is one of the greatest albums of all time, but you're missing out if you think that's the only album by that band worth owning. The group put out a lot of great music, both before and after that. For instance, Love's "Four Sail" album from 1969 is a solid album all the way through. But after that album, the quality Love songs got increasingly mixed in with subpar songs, with each album generally being worse than the one before.

This is an attempt to fix that, for at least one album. "Forever Changes" come out in 1967. I don't know why, but Love only put out a single in 1968. That meant that by 1969, which by this point was effectively Arthur Lee and a bunch of supporting musicians, had a backlog of songs to deal with. The group owed one more album to their record company, and that company was allowed to pick an album's worth of songs. That became "Four Sail." There were still so many leftover songs though that Love released the double album "Out Here" just three months later, still in 1969.

In retrospect, releasing a double album instead of a single album was a big mistake, because there was about one album's worth of quality music left. So what I've done here is very simple: I just took the 70 or so minutes of "Out There" and boiled it down to the best music, about 44 minutes' worth. In this case, less is more.

But it gets a bit trickier, because two of the songs were quite good, but also way, waaaay too long. First is "Doggone." This is a 12 minute song. The first three minutes is a typical quality Love song, then the next nine minutes is a boring drum solo. Lee later admitted that it was a mistake to ruin the album flow by having a long drum solo there. In 1982, a weird hodgepodge album of previously released Love material called "Studio - Live" came out. On that album, they edited "Doggone" down to just the first three minutes before the drum solo, so that's the version I've used.

The other song that's way too long is "Love Is More than Words or Better Late than Never." This is an 11 minute long song. The first minute has interesting chords, melody, and lyrics. But suddenly that part of the song stops and the next ten minutes is one long guitar solo, vamping over the same two chords over and over again. I actually like the soloing for a while, but not for ten minutes. And it seemed to me a shame that the rest of the song was limited to just one minute. So what I did was edit the guitar solo down to just the first three minutes. Then I took the first minute of the song and had it repeat at the end, making it a five minute long song. So yeah, I took so major liberties with the editing here, but I think the song works much better this way.

Cutting down those two songs shortened the album by about 15 minutes. I cut out about another ten minutes by removing some other songs that just weren't very good. I think the album works much better this way. Now, in my opinion, it's just as strong as "Four Sail," even though it's the "leftovers," because Lee had a lot more than one albums' worth of good songs in 1969.

Interestingly, the logic of cutting the album down is so obvious that the record company also gave it a try. In 1988, they released the album "Out There" (as opposed to "Out Here"), which was the album cut way down, and then some songs from the next album "False Start" added in as well. But there were some problems with that. For instance, "Love Is More than Words or Better Late than Never" was cut from 11 minutes down to just two minutes, which was too short. And the addition of the "False Start" songs changed it into something else. Trust me, this version is better.

01 I'll Pray for You (Love)
02 Abalony (Love)
03 Signed D.C. (Love)
04 Listen to My Song (Love)
05 Stand Out (Love)
06 Doggone [Edit] (Love)
07 I Still Wonder (Love)
08 Love Is More than Words or Better Late than Never [Edit] (Love)
09 Nice to Be (Love)
10 Run to the Top (Love)
11 Willow Willow (Love)
12 You Are Something (Love)
13 Gather Round (Love)

The cover is just the "Out Here" cover with no changes.

The Soft Boys - I Want to Be an Anglepoise Lamp - Non-Album Tracks (1978)

A couple of days ago, I posted the first of four albums of stray tracks by the Soft Boys, Robyn Hitchcock's band in the late 1970s until 1981. This is the second.

The first one mostly covered 1977, while this covers just 1978, with a couple of songs from 1979. There will be no 1979 stray tracks album, since the group released two albums that year.

The songs on this album are dominated by something known as the "Radar session." Those were recordings done for the Soft Boys' first album. (It's called that because their record company at the time was Radar.) Ultimately, the company decided against releasing an album, and only put out the "I Want to Be an Anglepoise Lamp" single instead. Some of the songs got released eventually, here and there, and some did not. There are other songs done for that session that I felt simply weren't up to snuff, so I didn't include them, not even as bonus tracks.

In addition, I included a few other songs. The Soft Boys did two important concerts that yesterday that were recorded with excellent sound quality, one at the Lady Mitchell Hall in Cambridge, Britain, and the other at the Portland Arms, also in Cambridge. If you like the Soft Boys, you should definitely track down both shows. The Portland Arms one is unusual in that the band not only plays acoustically, but mostly does songs acappella! Plus, most of the songs are covers of obscure tunes from decades earlier.

Anyway, I included a couple of originals from the Lady Mitchell Hall show that don't appear anywhere else, and one from the Portland Arms show. I also included two songs that are outtakes from a 1979 recording session, since there otherwise isn't any stray tracks from 1979.

01 [I Want to Be an] Anglepoise Lamp (Soft Boys)
02 Fatman's Son (Soft Boys)
03 Where Are the Prawns (Soft Boys)
04 Salamander (Soft Boys)
05 Give Me a Spanner, Ralph (Soft Boys)
06 Which of Us Is Me (Soft Boys)
07 Psychedelic Love (Soft Boys)
08 Mystery Train (Soft Boys)
09 Skool Dinner Blues (Soft Boys)
10 I Like Bananas [Because They Have No Bones] (Soft Boys)
11 A Most Peculiar Voice (Soft Boys)
12 The Duke of Squeeze (Soft Boys)

The cover is just the cover of the "Anglepoise Lamp" single. But I didn't like the mostly gray background color, so I changed it to blue.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Kinks - BBC Sessions, Volume 3: 1970-1973

In 2001, the Kinks issued a four CD box set of their BBC performances called "At the BBC." I've already posted two volumes of my version. This is the third volume, with many more to come.

As I've expressed forcefully before, my main beef with the official box set is how the BBC DJs have a tendency of talking over the start and finish to some songs. That was the case here also, so I have fixed all such instances.

Additionally, I found six performances that were worthy of inclusion. One of them is actually just from a concert, a 1971 version of "Mr. Pleasant." But I found it the only worthy performance from an otherwise middling sounding concert recording, so I've added it here. It's unusual to begin with because it was a song that the Kinks probably never performed in concert except for this one time. And the reason for that is the complicated piano part that was essential to the song. But somehow some random person befriended the Kinks before the show, convinced them they were a talented piano player who knew how to play the song well, and then proceeded to do a flawless job on stage with the band, with no rehearsal time at all.

So that's pretty cool. (As usual, I cut out the audience noise as best I could.) On the downside, the band also tried to play "Autumn Almanac" at the same show with that piano player. And while the pianist did fine, Ray Davies obviously hadn't sung the song in a long while and badly mangled the vocals to the musically complicated song, so I didn't include that here as well.

Another song I added, "You're Looking Fine," is from the Beat Club, a German TV show. Although this is a collection of BBC performances, I don't see why I shouldn't include something from another TV show, if it's of the same sound quality.

Additionally, I added four more songs from a 1972 appearance on the BBC. I have no idea why these songs didn't make the box set, since there's no doubt it was the Kinks on the BBC. I could have included more songs from that (as well as the Beat Club) but I didn't want to duplicate songs elsewhere on the album.

01 Lola [Recorded Version with New Vocals] (Kinks)
02 Mindless Child of Motherhood (Kinks)
03 Days [Recorded Version with New Vocals] (Kinks)
04 Apeman (Kinks)
05 Mr. Pleasant (Kinks)
06 Victoria (Kinks)
07 Good Golly, Miss Molly (Kinks)
08 Waterloo Sunset (Kinks)
09 The Village Green Preservation Society (Kinks)
10 You're Looking Fine (Kinks)
11 Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues (Kinks)
12 Holiday (Kinks)
13 Skin and Bone (Kinks)
14 Supersonic Rocket Ship (Kinks)
15 Here Comes Yet Another Day (Kinks)

Like the other albums in this series, I used the basic design of the cover of the "At the BBC" box set, but changed the picture of the Kinks to match the years of the music. Then I added a photo of the group from Roskilde, Denmark, in 1972. (Note that the band became a five-piece in the middle of 1970). I also changed the background colors so each volume in the series can be easily distinguished from each other.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Silver and Gold - Non-Album Tracks (1989)

A couple of days ago, I posted the 1988 CSNY album "American Dream," but an imagined version from an alternate history where they didn't make all the mistakes they did, and where they recorded a lot more albums together than they did.

That album stuck fairly closely to the track list of the actual "American Dream," with a few exceptions. Mostly, it was a matter of selecting different versions to make the album have more of an acoustic sound. But actually, from about 1987 to 1989, CSNY performed a bunch of other songs that were just as good as the best songs from that album. That has allowed me to make this companion album from that time period, which I imagine would have come out one year later, since some of the songs date to 1989. (Technically, one song is from 1990, but that's just because that version had better sound quality than a version from 1989 that I could have used.)

Happily, a majority of the songs on this alternate album actually involve all of CSN or CSNY. Most of these are due to occasional benefit concert done by CSNY around that time. Unfortunately, in a couple of cases the sound quality isn't that great due to the source being an audience recording, but I figured that was more than balanced out by the performance, and getting the whole group together.

For instance, the Neil Young songs "Silver and Gold," "Long Walk Home," and "Nothing Is Perfect" all came out on his solo albums eventually. But I think these songs are better served with CSN vocals added to them. In particular, I believe "Silver and Gold" would have become a latter day CSNY classic had they put it on "American Dream." Instead, Young didn't put it on one of his own albums until 2000, and the ho-hum performance of that version caused a lot of people to miss the song.

In some cases though, I chose solo performances to fill the album. But I didn't want to overlap with the songs on any really good solo albums, such as Young's 1989 album "Freedom." Thus, the two solo Young songs I chose, "Razor Love" and "Cocaine Eyes," were done by him in solo acoustic renditions in concerts around this time, but not put on any of his albums. ("Razor Love" would eventually be released in 2000, while "Cocaine Eyes" did get released at the time, but on an EP called "Eldorado" only released in Japan, and it was done in a very different version.)

Unfortunately, Young drifted away from CSN for the next ten years, rarely even showing up in concert with them. So this series will continue with some CSN albums for a while. But in my opinion, they are markedly better than the ones CSN actually released in the 1990s.

01 Silver and Gold (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
02 Chippin' Away (Crosby, Stills & Nash with James Taylor)
03 Tracks in the Dust (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
04 Cocaine Eyes (Neil Young)
05 Chuck's Lament [A Child's Dream] (Crosby, Stils & Nash)
06 Long Walk Home (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
07 House of Broken Dreams (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
08 Nothing Is Perfect (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
09 Feed the People (Stephen Stills with Graham Nash)
10 Lady of the Harbor (David Crosby)
11 Razor Love (Neil Young)
12 My Country 'Tis of Thee (Crosby & Nash with Michael Hedges)

I don't know when and where the photo I used from the cover is from. But it seems pretty certain to me that it's from the late 1980s.

Love - Da Capo - Alternate Version (1966)

Love is justly celebrated for its 1967 album "Forever Changes." That album is on all the lists of the top 100 albums of all time. Their 1966 album "Da Capo" is similarly excellent... except for one problem. This is an effort to fix it.

The problem is actually two fold. The first is that the album is only 35 minutes long. (Forever Changes was 42 minutes long, and other albums of the time were up to 50 minutes long.) That, by itself, wouldn't be so bad, except that more than half of the album ended up being on song, the 19-minute long "Revelation."

That also wouldn't have been a problem had "Revelation" been a great song, perhaps like "A Quick One While He's Away" by the Who that same year, which was a suite with many diverse parts. But unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Most listeners were bored by "Revelation," and thus generally only listened to the other side of the album, which is only 17 minutes worth of music.  

Here are some quotes from the Wikipedia entry on the album: "The album's critical reputation has suffered as a result of the inclusion of 'Revelation.'"

Also, the entry quotes Richie Unterberger writing for AllMusic: "It's only half a great album, though; the seventh and final track, 'Revelation,' is a tedious 19-minute jam that keeps Da Capo from attaining truly classic status."

Thus, my fix to the album was to get rid of "Revelation" and replace it with some other songs. But actually, it's not a bad song, in my opinion, it just goes on waaaaaay too long. So I edited it down to a "mere" nine minutes (instead of 19) and kept it on the album. Then, luckily, there were two good Love songs from the era to add, one of them a B-side and the other an outtake.

That still would have left it a very short album though, but also luckily, there are some demos from band member Bryan MacLean that are quite good. The band was dominated by Arthur Lee, who wrote and sang most of the songs, but MacLean was occasionally allowed a song or two, such as "Orange Skies" on this album (though it's sung by Lee) and "Alone Again Or" on "Forever Changes," possibly the band's best known song. Clearly, MacLean was a talented songwriter and should have been allowed more songs on each album. His frustration with this caused him to leave the band in 1968.

I picked out what I consider to be the four best MacLean demos from the 1966 and 1967 era and added them to the second half of the album. Unfortunately they're all acoustic guitar demos only, so they sound somewhat different from the rest of the album, but I think they're good songs that match the quality of the rest of the album.
Had Lee been more inclusive and included more of MacLean's work instead of using half of the album for a single song, we might be talking about two Love albums being all time classics instead of just one.

01 Stephanie Knows Who (Love)
02 Orange Skies (Love)
03 Que Vida (Love)
04 Seven and Seven Is (Love)
05 The Castle (Love)
06 She Comes in Colors (Love)
07 Blues Singer (Bryan MacLean)
08 Revelation [Edit] (Love)
09 Tired of Sitting (Bryan MacLean)
10 No. Fourteen (Love)
11 Barber John (Bryan MacLean)
12 Love Will Be Here (Bryan MacLean)
13 Wonder People [I Do Wonder] (Love)

The cover is the exact same cover of the "Da Capo" album.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Beck - Inferno - Non-Album Tracks (1996-1997)

As I've mentioned previously, Beck has been so prolific that for each album he's put out, one can often make another quality album from the stray tracks done around that same time. That's definitely the case for his 1990s work. I've already put out companion albums for "Mellow Gold" (two of them, actually), "Mutations," and "Midnite Vultures." This is the companion album for his classic "Odelay."

The songs here are very much in the style of Odelay, though the last tune is a solo acoustic blues cover. Odelay is a great album, for sure. Unfortunately, I don't think this is in the same league. I think for instance his stray tracks from the Mutations era are stronger. That said, there still is a lot of good music here, and at the very least Beck keeps things interesting.

Most of the songs here are B-sides to Odelay era singles, or bonus tracks from the regular version of that album, or the deluxe version. There's one song from a various artists compilation. About half of the songs were released in 1996 and half in 1997, so I imagine this as an album he could have put out in 1997, if he wanted to go that route.

01 Inferno (Beck)
02 Gold Chains (Beck)
03 Diskobox (Beck)
04 Clock (Beck)
05 Little Drum Machine Boy (Beck)
06 Thunder Peel [New Version] (Beck)
07 Electric Music and the Summer People [Early Version] (Beck)
08 Lemonade (Beck)
09 I'm So Green (Beck)
10 Allegretto Per Signora [Instrumental] (Beck)
11 Burro [Mariachi Jack-Ass] (Beck)
12 Feather in Your Cap (Beck)
13 Brother (Beck)

The cover art is the cover of "The New Pollution" single. I removed that title and used the letters from within it to spell out "Inferno" instead.

Bob Dylan - Songwriter - Non-Album Tracks (1962-1963)

My gathering of stray tracks by Bob Dylan continues.

As I mentioned in my last post in this series, between Dylan's 1962 album "Bob Dylan" and his 1963 album "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," he wrote a remarkable number of songs, probably more than in any other year of his long career.

The first album I made to gather up the stray tracks from this time was easy, because there were a bunch of songs all recorded at the same time, and even a proposed album title, which I used ("Bob Dylan's Blues"). However, for the rest of his music from this time period, I could find no such help. So I decided to simply organize the songs in the order they were recorded, and sort them into album-length groupings as best I could.

Thus, this album is more of a hodge-podge. Songs come from everywhere, including Whitmark demos, a couple from concerts, and various compilations, as well as album recording sessions. There even are two songs that are early stabs at rock and roll music instead of folk. But on the plus side, his songwriting was consistently improving.

I could be wrong, but I think he only does five cover songs here ("Worried Blues," "That's All Right, Mama," "Handsome Molly," "No More Auction Block," and "When Death Comes Creepin'"). I could have included more cover songs, but I stuck to the ones that were considered good enough to be included on one of his compilations, such as one of his "Bootleg Series" albums, or because he recorded them in the studio to possibly be on his next album. ("When Death Comes Creepin'" and "That's All Right, Mama" are both examples of the latter.)

All the songs were recorded in the latter half of 1962, but the last two were in December, so I figure this album would have come out in very early 1963.

01 Baby, I'm in the Mood for You (Bob Dylan)
02 The Ballad of Donald White (Bob Dylan)
03 Worried Blues (Bob Dylan)
04 Mixed-Up Confusion (Bob Dylan)
05 That's All Right, Mama (Bob Dylan)
06 Long Ago, Far Away (Bob Dylan)
07 Handsome Molly [Live] (Bob Dylan)
08 No More Auction Block [Live] (Bob Dylan)
09 Whatcha Gonna Do (Bob Dylan)
10 Ye Playboys and Playgirls (Bob Dylan)
11 Cuban Missile Crisis (Bob Dylan)
12 Kingsport Town (Bob Dylan)
13 When Death Comes Creepin' (Bob Dylan)
14 Hero Blues (Bob Dylan)

I was stuck for a title for this album. Normally, I'll resort to one of the song titles if I can't think of something better, but none of them sounded that fitting to me. So I tried to put myself in the mind of a record executive back in 1963 trying to come up with at title. At the time, Dylan was getting widespread acclaim for his songwriting, so it made sense to highlight that. Thus, "Songwriter."

Various Artists - Nuggets 4: Australia & New Zealand (1963-1972)

Since my previous post of my Nuggets collection from the Netherlands to see what this is all about. In short, I really liked the Nuggets box sets put out by Rhino Records, and wanted more music in that vein. I found there were a lot more good songs like that from overseas than what Rhino compiled, so I've made my own compilations, organized by country.

One thing I've discovered is that although I'd been listening to this style of music for a long time, I was pretty much oblivious about music from countries other than the US, Canada, and Britain, outside of some artists that made it big or the occasional song that became an international hit.

It turns out Australia and New Zealand had quite a thriving music scene back in the 1960s and early 1970s. (Australia's population is five times bigger than New Zealand's, so most of the music is from Australia.) If you don't know much about this music, this is an ideal chance for you to find out. I'm convinced that many of these songs could have been big hits elsewhere, but were not due to geographical isolation.

There's so much good music from "Down Under" that I had to break it up into three albums of about 50 minutes each. I've put all of it into one zip folder, but sorted into three different folders.

By the way, 12 out of the 45 songs here are also on the "Nuggets II - Original Artyfacts From The British Empire & Beyond" box set. That ends in 1969, but I continued until 1972. I stopped then mostly because my knowledge of music from that part of the world falls off a cliff after that year, but also because I sensed the style of music changed significantly around that time, just as it did in most other countries. In my opinion, musically at least, but probably culturally as well, what people think of "the 1960s" really began around 1963 and ended around 1971.

As I said with the Netherlands nuggets collection I've made, if you know of any excellent song that fits the location and era that I've missed, please let me know and maybe I'll add it in. I'm an American and I wasn't alive during this musical era, so I'm sure I missed some things.

I debated with myself whether to include any Bee Gees songs, since they had a recording career in Australia for a few years before leaving permanently in 1966 to try to "hit the big time" in Britain. I decided against including any song from them, since it turned out the vast majority of their career was based elsewhere.

I also took it relatively easy on including songs by the Easybeats and the Twilights, since those are my two favorite Australian groups from this era and I figure any fan of this music should at least get the greatest hits of each band. But I did include their biggest hits.

Also, speaking of the Twilights, I absolutely love their song "Comin' On Down," which I've included here even though it was only a B-side. It's melodically catchy and lyrically brilliant, yet it's a pop song about the horrors of nuclear war! It's that sort of creative ambition that makes 1960s music great in general. In a better world, it would have been a huge hit.

But anyway, the reason I mention it is because it's the one song on this compilation that I've altered. The music in the official version comes to a halt at about the two minute mark, and then the song fades out with a child singing a different song ("All Things Bright and Beautiful"). That was very unsatisfying to me, because in my head I heard the chorus again instead. So I removed the bit with the child and replaced it with the chorus, which soon fades out. I prefer this version so much that can no longer imagine hearing the song any other way. If you don't like it, feel free to replace it with the official version in your collection.

The first album is 47 minutes long. The second one is 50 minutes long. The third one is 54 minutes long.

ALBUM 1: 1963-1966
01 Bombora (Atlantics)
02 I Belong with You (Bobby & Laurie)
03 I'll Never Find Another You (Seekers)
04 A World of Our Own (Seekers)
05 It Ain't Necessarily So (Normie Rowe & the Playboys)
06 Que Sera Sera [Whatever Will Be, Will Be] (Normie Rowe & the Playboys)
07 She's So Fine (Easybeats)
08 Social End Product (Bluestars)
09 The Carnival Is Over (Seekers)
10 Wedding Ring (Easybeats)
11 You're Driving Me Insane (Missing Links)
12 Fever [Burns My Brain] (Allusions)
13 Friday on My Mind (Easybeats)
14 Georgy Girl (Seekers)
15 I Want, Need, Love You (Black Diamonds)
16 I'm Your Witchdoctor (Chants R&B)
17 Step Back (Johnny Young & Kompany)
18 The Loved One (Loved Ones)

ALBUM 2: 1966-1967
01 Believe in Me (Throb)
02 How Is the Air Up There (La De Das)
03 I'll Make You Happy (Easybeats)
04 Looks like Trouble (Allusions)
05 See the Way (Black Diamonds)
06 Someday, One Day (Seekers)
07 Sorry (Easybeats)
08 This Life of Mine (Lost Souls)
09 War or Hands of Time (Masters Apprentices)
10 By My Side (Elois)
11 Cathy, Come Home (Twilights)
12 Come On (Atlantics)
13 Exit Stage Right (Ronnie Burns)
14 Good Evening Girl (Johnny Young & Kompany)
15 Heaven and Hell (Easybeats)
16 My Aim Is to Please You (Executives)
17 No More Now (Smoke [New Zealand])
18 Sad (Normie Rowe & the Playboys)
19 Woman You're Breaking Me (Groop [Ausrralia])

ALBUM 3: 1968-197201 Comin' On Down (Twilights)
02 Good Times (Easybeats)
03 Arkansas Grass (Axiom)
04 Mr. Guy Fawkes (Dave Miller Set)
05 Nature (Fourmyula)
06 The Real Thing (Russell Morris)
07 A Little Ray of Sunshine (Axiom)
08 Because I Love You (Masters Apprentices)
09 Julia (Ted Mulry)
10 My Baby's Gone (Axiom)
11 Naturally (Allison Gros)
12 Eagle Rock (Daddy Cool)
13 I'll Be Gone (Spectrum)
14 Most People I Know [Think that I'm Crazy] (Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs)
15 Wings of an Eagle (Russell Morris)

The Soft Boys - Give It to the Soft Boys - Non-Album Tracks (1976-1977)

Robyn Hitchcock is a very prolific songwriter, and he's probably recorded or played in concert almost as many songs as the ones that got on his official albums. I've already posted a couple of recent things from him, but now I want to go back to the start of his career and begin systematically collecting all of his quality stray tracks.

That means going back to the Soft Boys, the band he led from 1976 to 1981. The way I look at it, the Soft Boys had three official albums (not counting their 2002 reunion album): "A Can of Bees," "Invisible Hits," and "Underwater Moonlight." It's confusing, because "Invisible Hits" sounds like some sort of greatest hits collection, when it's just another studio album. "Underwater Moonlight" is the best album of Hitchcock's long career, in my opinion, as well as one of the greatest albums of all time. If you haven't heard it yet, give it a listen!

Anyway, the Soft Boys were an obscure band at the time, out of step with the New Wave music trends at the time, because they were obviously heavily influenced by 1960s music, which was seen as uncool. Thus, they had trouble with record companies, with cancelled singles and failed album sessions, and such, due to them not sounding commercial enough. As a result, a lot of their songs didn't get released at the time, though most of his has come out on archival releases in piecemeal fashion in the years since. There are so many stray tracks that I've made no less than four albums for them.

Here's the first one. It covers their early days, with the first song from 1976 and the rest from 1977. In their first full year of 1977, all they officially released was a three song EP (though three songs were added to it when it was later rereleased with a new name).

Their first official album wouldn't come out until "A Can of Bees" in early 1979. But this is effectively their first album, since it's 38 minutes of good material. There were a couple of songs from bootlegs that I left out, because I felt they weren't up to snuff.

01 The Unpleasant Stain (Soft Boys)
02 Wey Wey Hep Uh Hole [First Version] (Soft Boys)
03 Its Not Just the Size of a Walnut (Soft Boys)
04 Ugly Nora (Soft Boys)
05 Look into Your Mirror (Soft Boys)
06 Rock and Roll Radio Queen (Soft Boys)
07 Wading through a Ventilator (Soft Boys)
08 The Face of Death (Soft Boys)
09 Hear My Brane (Soft Boys)
10 The Yodelling Hoover (Soft Boys)
11 Give It to the Soft Boys (Soft Boys)
12 Vyrna Knowl Is a Headbanger (Soft Boys)

I chose the album title "Give It to the Soft Boys," because that was the title of their one official release from 1977. But I didn't like the cover for that. I used a painting by Hitchcock that later got used for the cover art for the Soft Boys retrospective "1976 - 1981." I like Hitchcock's artwork a lot, as it has the exact same surrealistic style as most of his music, so I'm going to use his art for his stray track album covers as much as I can.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Beck - Bogusflow - Non-Album Tracks (1994)

There's so many stray Beck tracks to sort out that it's kind of crazy.

That's especially true for 1994, the year of his breakthrough single "Loser." I've already posted an album of B-sides to "Mellow Gold." Plus, there's "Mellow Gold" itself, "Stereopathic Soul Manure,"  "One Foot in the Grave," and enough bonus tracks to "One Foot in the Grave" for another album just as long. That's the equal of five albums of nearly all original songs released in a single year!

And yet, that's not all. Here's an album of stray acoustic songs, all of them originals not on any of his other albums. I think it makes for solid album.

But even that isn't all, because I have still more 1994 songs from him that I'll post later (based on some KCRW radio appearances). Has any musician ever come out with more songs in a single year than Beck in 1994?

And even that isn't the end of it, because he's written still more songs that he's never released or played in concert (or been bootlegged). For instance, at one point he announced plans to released a follow-up album to "One Foot in the Grave" of more songs from 1994 and maybe 1995, but then cancelled the release.

Note that only four of the 14 songs on this album have been officially released in any form. We're lucky that Beck did a lot of radio appearances and concerts in 1994 where he was testing out new material.

01 Blue Cross (Beck & the Geraldine Fibbers)
02 Lampshade (Beck)
03 My Own Best Enemy (Beck)
04 Johnny Depp (Beck)
05 Burning Boyfriend [Beck Will Die] (Beck)
06 New Age Blow Job [Early Version of Bogusflow] (Beck)
07 Crystal Clear [Beer] (Beck)
08 The Way It Seems (Beck)
09 Scavenger (Beck)
10 Hard to Compete (Beck)
11 Static 1 [Baby] (Beck)
12 Protein Summer (Beck)
13 Flavor (Beck)
14 Bogusflow (Beck)

The cover art is based on the cover of his "Pay No Mind" single. I removed the text from the bottom of the cover and replaced that with an image of the word "Bogusflow" taken from an early Beck cassette tape label, written in his handwriting.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Van Morrison - You Set My Soul on Fire - Non-Album Tracks (1969-1970)

I still can't get over how much great Van Morrison music from his best years there is that hasn't been officially released in any form. This is the second of a series of albums that almost make up an alternate career for Van the Man in the late 1960s and 1970s.

The first album in this series, "Nobody Really Knows," was mostly acoustic. This is transitional, with some acoustic and some rocking songs. Morrison made a big stylistic leap between the mostly acoustic and jazzy "Astral Weeks" and the rocking and poppy "Moondance," and this can been seen as a bridge between them.

Considering that "Astral Weeks" and "Moondance" are two of the best albums of all time, a solid guess is that even the outtakes would be pretty good. And you would be right with that guess! ;) It amazes me that only two of the songs here have been officially released in any form.

Most of the songs are from 1969, but I'm imagining that this could have come out in 1970. It would have made sense for this to come out before "Moondance," and then have "Moondance" come out a few months later.

01 I Shall Sing (Van Morrison)
02 Really Don't Know (Van Morrison)
03 Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (Van Morrison)
04 Rock and Roll Band (Van Morrison)
05 You Set My Soul on Fire (Van Morrison)
06 Bit by Bit (Van Morrison)
07 Don't Change on Me (Van Morrison)
08 If You Rock Me (Van Morrison)
09 By the River (Van Morrison)
10 Standing on a Corner (Van Morrison)

The cover art is of a picture of Morrison from around 1969.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - American Dream - Alternate Version (1988)

It's high time I get back to posting my "alternate universe" CSN and CSNY albums, in which they stayed together and put out a lot more music than they actually did.

In 1988, there was an honest-to-god CSNY album, only their second, and the first one since "Deja Vu." Unfortunately, it was seen as a big disappointment, and rightfully so. There were several big strikes against it.

One was that although Crosby had finally recovered from his long years of crack addiction and was writing quality songs again, that wasn't reflected very much on the album. There were only two Crosby songs on it, and one of them was lousy ("Nighttime for the Generals.") Instead, he would stave most of his good songs for his solo album "Oh Yes I Can" the next year.  But worse was the fact that Stills was in the middle of a bad drug addiction of his own, and he was struggling to come up with good songs. Nash had too many cheesy ballads, and Young probably held back a lot of his best material.

A second big problem was that, even though the album was produced by Young, it succumbed to the typical 1980s production touches, like drum machines and too much synthesizers. That never fit CSNY's kind of music, and 1980s-styled production has fared badly since then. Basically, they were a group of aging guys trying and failing to sound modern and "hip."

On top of that, the album was simply too long. With the album becoming the dominant music format by 1988, one could put out an album as long as 74 minutes instead of the previous limit of 45 minute or so. This album was almost 60 minutes long. It would have been a much stronger album if they'd cut out about 20 minutes of the weakest songs.

Luckily, with 20/20 hindsight, I can fix most of these problems. I only kept three songs unchanged from the released "American Dream" album. CSNY didn't go on tour to support the album, but they did do a few short acoustic sets around the time the album came out. That allowed me to replace some of the songs with acoustic versions (with the crowd noise stripped away), thus avoiding the 1980s overproduction problem.

Of particular note is the version of the title song "American Dream," done at one of Young's Bridge Benefit concerts. (I was lucky enough to see that concert in person.) They did the song essentially in an acappella version, with only a little guitar strumming in one section, that was very different from the album version. I prefer it. Unfortunately, there's a lot of crowd noise, especially because Young started the song alone on stage, and then the audience went wild about a minute into the song when Crosby, Stills, and Nash joined him there. I used a touch of noise reduction specifically targeted reducing the crowd sounds, something I almost never do. But still, some crowd noise remains.

I cut down the length of the album, so it's only 47 minutes long. But at the same time, I replaced even more of the songs that went on the officially released album with other songs from the time I thought were better. Two of those were Crosby songs. Personally, I like his "Oh Yes I Can" solo album a lot, so I didn't want to take any songs from there. But I found a version that was done in a stripped down style that's very different from the album version. The other Crosby song I added, "He's an American," has strangely never been released in any form.

I also added an unreleased Young song from the late 1980s, "Interstate," that I just think is a really great song, even though it doesn't have CSN on it. I think its sound fits in with the rest, since I've turned the album into a mostly acoustic  one.

Keep in mind that CSNY actually had many more good songs in the late 1980s that I didn't include here, since I was mostly sticking to what was on the official album. There are so many that I've created another album just for those songs, which will be the next one in the series. Had they actually put all their best songs on their released album, it could have really been great.

By the way, I just came across a quote from Crosby about the album on Wikipedia. It supports the problems I mentioned above:

"The whole thing, the recording of American Dream, it got stretched out. And we did not have, really, the best group of songs to work with. Then, even though we did not have enough good songs, we ended up putting fourteen of them on the album! I think that was stupid."

01 American Dream (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
02 Got It Made (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
03 Compass (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
04 Name of Love (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
05 Don't Say Goodbye (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
06 This Old House (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
07 He's an American (David Crosby)
08 Clear Blue Skies (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
09 Feel Your Love (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
10 Night Song (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
11 Interstate (Neil Young)
12 Oh Yes I Can (David Crosby)

The cover art actually comes from a photo of a T-shirt sold at CSNY concerts around that era. (There also was a nearly identical CSN version.) All I really added was the album title at the bottom.

Fleetwood Mac - Acoustic Blues - Non-Album Tracks (1968-1969)

As I worked through organizing all of Fleetwood Mac's stray tracks, I came across more songs for 1968 and 1969 than could reasonably fit on one album per year. I tired to figure out how to sort them out, and realized that one album's worth of songs were all done in the acoustic format, with no drums, and nearly all of those were blues songs. Thus, this album.

I think it makes for a good listen. It sets a mood, while also showing off Peter Green's guitar playing ability.

Four of the songs are actually technically not Fleetwood Mac, but Green playing with someone named Duster Bennett. I've included them here in part because Green sings on all of them, but also because these have been included on a Fleetwood Mac compilation ("Jumping at Shadows - The Blues Years").

The last song is from a concert, but I removed the crowd noise to make it fit with the other studio tracks.

This album is 41 minutes long.

01 You're So Evil (Fleetwood Mac)
02 Worried Mind (Fleetwood Mac)
03 Trying So Hard to Forget (Peter Green & Duster Bennett)
04 Two Harps (Peter Green & Duster Bennett)
05 Kind Hearted Woman (Peter Green & Duster Bennett)
06 Coming, I'm Coming (Peter Green & Duster Bennett)
07 Leaving Town Blues (Fleetwood Mac)
08 Love It Seems (Fleetwood Mac)
09 Do You Give a Damn for Me [Early Version of Showbiz Blues] (Fleetwood Mac)
10 Although the Sun Is Shining [Demo] (Fleetwood Mac)
11 Early Morning Come (Fleetwood Mac)
12 My Sweet Baby (Fleetwood Mac)
13 World Keeps on Turning (Fleetwood Mac)

I wanted to use a photo of Fleetwood Mac playing acoustically, or at least Peter Green with an acoustic guitar, but I couldn't find anything like that. So I used one of Green with an electric guitar from that era.

Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift - Love Is a Drag - Non-Album Tracks (2016)

Starting around 2014, and continuing until now, Robyn Hitchcock began collaborating with Emma Swift, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter who has only released an EP of her own so far. Their collaboration is curiously limited, though. Typically, she'll show up at his concert and sing in harmony for two or three songs. But that's it. I haven't seen any instances of her singing all the way through a concert (like Sean Nelson did in the Hitchcock concert I just posted yesterday).

When it comes to studio recordings, their collaboration has also been curiously limited. They jointly released a single in 2015, and then another one in 2016... and that's it. I'm hopeful they'll put out a full album together eventually, because I always like the sound of male and female voices in harmony. But in the meantime, I've created an album of what they might have released in 2016, if they'd done a whole album instead of just two singles.

Naturally, I started with both sides of their two singles. But how would I fill out the rest to make it a full album? I had lots of options, because they probably have done 20 or more songs together in concert so far. However, I wanted to stick with very high sound quality recordings, so it would all sound like a studio album. Luckily, they've done a few TV and radio appearances where they've played songs not on their singles.

I relied on those for all the rest, except for the very last track, which is from a concert, but I considered the sound quality good enough to match the rest. I also removed the audience noise from it. I actually had to fade it out before the end due to some talking over the music.

Three of the four songs on their two singles are Hitchcock compositions that appear nowhere else, plus there's a cover of a Neil Young song ("Motion Pictures.") The rest is a mix of Hitchcock originals from his earlier albums and more cover songs (of David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and Roxy Music).

I think it makes for a very nice album. It reminds me a lot of Richard and Linda Thompson. I hope this duo will do more recording together soon.

01 Follow Your Money (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
02 Motion Pictures (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
03 Love Is a Drag (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
04 Life Is Change (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
05 Cheese Alarm (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
06 Nietzche’s Way (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
07 The Prettiest Star (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
08 Glass Hotel (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
09 Just like a Woman (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
10 Ole Tarantula (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)
11 In Every Dream Home a Heartache (Robyn Hitchcock & Emma Swift)

The cover is simply the cover of their "Love Is a Drag" single.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson - KEXP Studios, Seattle, WA, 4-15-2016

I've been on a big Robyn Hitchcock kick lately. I think he's another underappreciated musical genius. I plan on posting a lot of his "stray" stuff, both solo and with the Soft Boys.

This is an acoustic concert with just Hitchcock singing and playing guitar, plus Sean Nelson singing backing vocals. (Nelson was formerly in Harvey Danger and The Long Winters.) Also, Hitchcock's occasional singing partner Emma Swift joins in for a couple of songs.

This is a very curious concert, because it's one with no audience at all! What happened was that Seattle radio station KEXP had a special day with Hitchcock on the air with them in the studio for five hours straight. But the station continued their normal programming for the most songs, playing songs by various artists complete with commercials and DJ chatter. However, the theme was "Six Degrees of Separation with Robyn Hitchcock," and they'd play songs that somehow how connections to him. Then, from time to time, Hitchcock (and Nelson) would pop in to join in the banter and play an occasional song. Presumably, there were a few KEXP staffers listening in, but they were careful to never clap or cheer.

I found this on's live music section, but there were shockingly few views/listens of it. One Hitchcock concert there had more than 100,000 views, but this one only had 700! I consider that shocking, because the sound quality of this is beyond great. It's better than a soundboard, since there's no audience noise whatsoever, and it's recorded in an actual studio.

When I downloaded the files from that site, they totaled to over two hours, and that already had been whittled down from the five hours. But I found some of that was unnecessary, for instance lots of DJ talk with low relistening value. So I whittled it down more to an hour and twenty minutes. Now, this sounds like a normal concert, except for the total lack of any audience reaction.

I think the performance also is excellent, with Nelson's harmonies adding a nice touch. I'm surprised this isn't one of the most popular Hitchcock concert recordings out there.

For better of worse, due to the unusual format, Hitchcock didn't feel to speak his strange monologues between songs. I did keep some of the talking, but it's mostly just straightforward introducing the songs, with some banter with Nelson and/or Swift. I cut out pretty much all the banter with the DJs, since that would take away the impression of this being a concert.

By the way, in case you're curious, I count 14 Hitchcock originals and 7 cover songs (1, 4, 9, 11, 14, 25, and 28).

01 Are You Experienced (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
02 The Wreck of the Arthur Lee (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
03 Balloon Man (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
04 The Only Living Boy in New York (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
05 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
06 Queen Elvis (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson & Emma Swift)
07 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
08 Madonna of the Wasps (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
09 The Crystal Ship (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
10 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
11 Candy Says (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
12 N.Y. Doll (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
13 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
14 Oh Yeah (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
15 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
16 Adventure Rocket Ship (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
17 Sometimes a Blonde (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
18 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
19 Viva Sea-Tac (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
20 Trams of Old London (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson & Emma Swift)
21 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
22 Alright, Yeah (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
23 So You Think You're in Love (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
24 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
25 The Butcher (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
26 The Song in My Head Today (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
27 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
28 Quicksand (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
29 Element of Light (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
30 talk (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)
31 Mad Shelly's Letterbox (Robyn Hitchcock with Sean Nelson)

The cover art is taken from a YouTube video of Hitchcock and Nelson playing at KEXP.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Oingo Boingo - Gratitude - Non-Album Tracks (1984-1985)

In 1984, Danny Elfman released his first solo album "So-Lo." He would later go on to great fame and fortune as a movie soundtrack composer. But at the time, he was the main singer and songwriter for Oingo Boingo. But it turns out it wasn't really a solo album at all. The other musicians were the rest of Oingo Boingo, and it was mainly billed a solo album due to some kind of problem with the record company.

But the problem was that some if it just wasn't up to the standard Oingo Boingo had set with their previous albums. In my opinion, about half of the songs were excellent, and the other half were forgettable. So what I've done is taken other stray Oingo Boingo songs from 1984 or 1985 and replaced the weaker songs to make a really solid album. Luckily, there's just enough material to do this.

By the way, since the thin fiction of this album being an Elfman solo album no longer holds, I figured it was no longer fitting to call it "So-Lo." So I picked the title of the hit song from the album instead.

The first five songs are from the "So-Lo" album. The next three were officially released as well, from soundtrack and complication albums. The song "I Stand Defeated" is an unreleased outtake. Finally, I've included the single version of their biggest hit song, "Weird Science." I've included it because it's significantly different from the album version, which has become the most commonly known version. The biggest difference is length: the album version is over six minutes long, whereas this version is less than four minutes long. I prefer this version.

This album is 40 minutes long, not including the bonus track.

The bonus track is a cover of "Sunshine of Your Love." This comes from a rehearsal session, but the sound quality isn't that good. I used the audio editing program X-Minus to boost the vocals, which helped some, but only some.

01 Gratitude (Oingo Boingo)
02 Cool City (Oingo Boingo)
03 It Only Makes Me Laugh (Oingo Boingo)
04 Tough as Nails (Oingo Boingo)
05 Everybody Needs (Oingo Boingo)
06 Something Isn't Right (Oingo Boingo)
07 Bachelor Party (Oingo Boingo)
08 Take Your Medicine (Oingo Boingo)
09 I Stand Defeated (Oingo Boingo)
10 Weird Science [Single Version] (Oingo Boingo)

Sunshine of Your Love [Edit] (Oingo Boingo)

The cover art is kind of curious, in that it's extremely similar to the cover art of "So-Lo," and yet totally different. That's because the back cover of that album displayed an alternate version of the same exact scene. So I used that. Of course, I changed the text too.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Pete Townshend - Sleeping Dog - Non-Album Tracks (1972-1976)

Pete Townshend made a huge number of demos over the years, many of them of songs never released on any Who album or his (non-archival) solo albums. I've made the argument that he could have had a steady solo career, releasing a solo album every couple of years, just from releasing his professional-quality demos. And that's only from the material that's been made public either officially or on bootleg. That is said to be just the tip of the iceberg.

I've already posted two such albums, one covering his demos up through 1968, and the next covering his demos through 1973. This brings us up to 1976.

A couple of these songs allegedly were considered for the Who's Quadrophenia album in 1973.  But it seems they were never done by the Who, so that makes them fair game for my purposes here.

Four of the songs are from the 1976 album "With Love," one of a series of albums celebrating the religious guru Meher Baba. But of Townshend's four songs from that album, only three of them were included as bonus tracks to his 1972 album "Who Came First." Also, it doesn't make much sense to me to consider these four songs bonus tracks to an album that came out four years earlier.

One song here, "Gonna Make You Mine," is an unreleased track that has lesser sound quality than the others. I considered not including it for that reason, but apparently it was seriously considered for the 1975 Who album "The Who by Numbers," and it seems to be rare even on bootlegs, so I kept it.

I also debated including another song, "Amoreuse." It was done live by Townsend in his first solo concert in 1974, and is widely available on bootleg. The sound quality is even more iffy, and it's a cover song, so I've only included it as an unnumbered bonus track.

01 You Came Back [Long Version] (Pete Townshend)
02 Any More (Pete Townshend)
03 Get Inside (Pete Townshend)
04 Brrr [Good Question] [Instrumental] (Pete Townshend)
05 Baby Don't You Do It [Don't Do It] (Pete Townshend with Eric Clapton & Keith Moon)
06 Girl in a Suitcase (Pete Townshend)
07 Gonna Fight to Make You Mine (Pete Townshend)
08 To Barney Kessell [Instrumental] (Pete Townshend)
09 Sleeping Dog (Pete Townshend)
10 His Hands (Pete Townshend)
11 Meher (Pete Townshend)
12 Lantern Cabin [Instrumental] (Pete Townshend)

Amoreuse [Live] (Pete Townshend)

I'm not sure what year the photo I used for the cover art comes from, but it looks like mid-1970s Townshend to me.

Van Morrison - Nobody Really Knows - Non-Album Tracks (1968-1969)

In 1967, Morrison started his solo career, and had a big hit right off the bat with "Brown Eyed Girl." A bitter dispute followed with his record company. That caused him to give up on trying to come up with more hit material for a while, and he focused on acoustic music for all of 1968 and most of 1969. Of course, one outcome of that was the classic album "Astral Weeks." The songs on this album are very much in the same vein. In a better world, they would be on a deluxe version of "Astral Weeks," but instead all but one of these songs remain officially unreleased in any form.

The one officially released song, "The Smile You Smile," is actually from 1967, before Morrison cut ties with his record company. But it's an acoustic version that I think very much fits the sound of the other songs. It's the only acoustic take from his 1967 sessions.

If you enjoy classic era Van Morrison, you'll enjoy this, as well as the albums I'll be posting to cover the rest of that era. Most of the songs are from 1968, but the last three were recorded in 1969, so I figure the album should have been released in 1969, a year in which he didn't release any music.

01 Hey, Where Are You (Van Morrison)
02 I Need Your Kind of Loving (Van Morrison)
03 Bayou Girl (Van Morrison)
04 Magic Night (Van Morrison)
05 Mona Mona (Van Morrison)
06 The Smile You Smile (Van Morrison)
07 If I Had a Rainbow (Van Morrison)
08 On a Rainy Afternoon (Van Morrison)
09 Nobody Really Knows (Van Morrison)

The cover is based on a photo taken from the same photo session that resulted in the photo used for the cover of the "Astral Weeks" album.

Fleetwood Mac - Black Magic Woman - Non-Album Tracks (1968)

Here's the next of what is going to be a long series of alternate Fleetwood Mac albums. The previous one covered the band's first year, 1967, so this one covers 1968. But the band has so many stray tracks that more 1968 stuff will be on the next album too.

Like the 1967 material, this is nearly all blues. I must admit though, that when it comes to Fleetwood Mac's blues years, I'm not including every single song I can, for two reasons. One reason is that they did a lot of blues covers, and some of their versions are just pedestrian. But my main problem is with band member Jeremy Spencer. He had a weird role of being kind of the relief from having an audience listen to so many blues songs in a row. He'd do parodies of 1950s music, especially Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, as well as slavish imitations of Elmore James blues songs. The problem is, in my opinion, his parodies were very rarely funny or interesting enough for more than one listen. His original songs were often just earlier hits with new lyrics. I'm sure it worked well in concert to have him liven things up from time to time with a rousing 1950s-styled song, but on record his style loses its appeal fast.

As a result, I've included some of Spencer's stuff, but not that much. The record company felt the same way. For instance, when Fleetwood Mac released their classic 1969 album "Then Play On," they wanted to include an EP containing nothing but Spencer's parodies. The record company gave it a listen and deemed it so bad that they refused to include it. I have to agree. When it comes to compiling their 1969 stray tracks, I didn't include anything from that unreleased EP.

The album here is 39 minutes long. I think the highlight is the song "Black Magic Woman," which was written by guitarist Peter Green. It was released as a single, but didn't do very well. Santana did a cover that was almost exactly the same except for the addition of more Latin percussion, and of course had big success with it.

01 Black Magic Woman (Fleetwood Mac)
02 The Sun Is Shining (Fleetwood Mac)
03 Need Your Love So Bad (Fleetwood Mac)
04 I Can't Hold Out [Talk to Me Baby] (Fleetwood Mac)
05 Mighty Cold (Fleetwood Mac)
06 Blues in B Flat Minor [Instrumental Version of Before the Beginning] (Fleetwood Mac)
07 Buzz Me Baby (Fleetwood Mac)
08 How Blue Can You Get (Fleetwood Mac)
09 I'm Coming Home to Stay (Fleetwood Mac)
10 Preachin' Blues (Fleetwood Mac)
11 Hang On to a Dream (Fleetwood Mac)
12 Worried Dream (Fleetwood Mac)

The cover art is almost exactly that of the cover for the single "Black Magic Woman." But I did some resizing and moving, because the text was strangely misplaced, leaving a big empty gap at the top.

The Rolling Stones - Going Down - Non-Album Tracks (1969)

Here's the next in a series of albums gathering all of the Rolling Stones' stray tracks. The last album covers 1968; this one covers 1969.

Just like 1968, the Stones had so many quality stray tracks from the year 1969 that there's enough for an entire album. And also like 1968, most of these are songs that still haven't been officially released, or only released on obscure albums. Of course, the number one hit single "Honk Tonk Women" is a big exception to this.

Also, I generally tried to avoid any sort of duplication with the songs on official albums, but also with songs on my other alternate albums. But this time I'm including the song "Memo from Turner" when I put it on the 1968 album too. The reason for that is because this version is significantly different from the other version. I think both versions are very much worth listening to. This is the one that was technically credited to Mick Jagger as a solo artist, and would be featured in the movie "Performance" a year later.

Three of the songs here are from the album "Jamming with Edward," which is kind of an oddity. It has most of the Stones on it, including Jagger singing the songs, but it also prominently features Ry Cooder and Nicky Hopkins, so it wasn't billed as a Stones album, even though the songs are all outtakes from Stones recording sessions. There's one song on there, "Blow with Ry," that I thought went on way too long (11 minutes), so I edited it down to six minutes.

Like the 1968 album I made, I think this is a really solid album, even though it's mostly obscurities and unreleased stuff. That's because, as I mentioned in a previous post, the Stones have held back nearly all of their 1960s material except for what got released at the time, due to a conflict with their record company, so they haven't done any bonus tracks or deluxe editions or box sets or the like (except for their material from 1972 or more recent, due to a different record company having the rights to that material).

"I'm Yours and I'm Hers" is a rare cover version the band played in concert in 1969. Unfortunately, the sound quality is only good enough for bonus track status.

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

UPDATE: On January 28, 2023, I updated the mp3 download file. Previously, I had the song "The Sun Is Shining" as a bonus track only, due to poor sound quality. But I found a soundboard bootleg version that sounded much better, so I added it in with the other songs.

01 Honky Tonk Women (Rolling Stones)
02 Hillside Blues [I Don't Know the Reason Why] (Rolling Stones)
03 Memo from Turner (Mick Jagger)
04 The Sun Is Shining (Rolling Stones)
05 Blow with Ry [Edit] (Rolling Stones with Ry Cooder & Nicky Hopkins)
06 I Don't Know Why (Rolling Stones)
07 I'm Going Down (Rolling Stones)
08 Jiving Sister Fanny (Rolling Stones)
09 Highland Fling [Instrumental] (Rolling Stones with Ry Cooder & Nicky Hopkins)
10 Cocksucker Blues [Schoolboy Blues] (Rolling Stones)
11 It Hurts Me Too (Rolling Stones with Ry Cooder & Nicky Hopkins)

I'm Yours and I'm Hers (Rolling Stones)

The cover art is from the "Honky Tonk Women" single. I only made a few edits, especially changing the text.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Fairport Convention - At the BBC: The Judy Dyble Era (1967-1968)

I'm a big fan of Fairport Convention, specifically in the late 1960s and early 1970s when Richard Thompson was a member. Each of their albums from that time period are great, but on top of that, they did a lot of songs for the BBC, many of which never got on any of their albums at the time.

At first, a single CD compilation of their BBC performances came out called "Heyday." Then that was upped to a four CD box set called "Live at the BBC" in 2007 that covered their BBC performances from 1967 to 1974. But even that wasn't enough, and more BBC performances have dribbled out here and there on various archival releases.

This is the start of a series that gathers up all their BBC performances of good sound quality from that early era and organizes it chronologically. I did a similar thing with Dusty Springfield's TV and radio performances. However, that included only songs not recorded by her in the studio. Whereas this includes all songs performed on the BBC, because Fairport Convention often would perform their songs differently while Springfield almost always stuck close to her studio versions, However, I don't include multiple versions of the same song, unless there's an unusual reason to do so.

For about the first year of Fairport Convention's existence, the main vocalist was Judy Dyble. In mid-1968, she left and was replaced by Sandy Denny. This first album of BBC performances collects stray tracks just from when Dyble was in the band. It works out that there's 36 minutes of music from that time, which is a nice album length for that era.

Actually, there wouldn't have been enough material for a good album length except for two songs performed on a French TV station, "Morning Glory" and a nearly eight minute version of "Reno, Nevada."  (I'll include any good TV or radio performance, even if it wasn't actually performed on the BBC.) Surprisingly, color video footage of the band on that French TV station exist on YouTube, and it's quite an interesting watch. (Search for the band name and song name and you'll find it.) It's just about the only color video of the band from its early years.

By the way, only four out of the ten songs below were also on the band's self-titled first album, the only one with Dyble on it.

01 Let's Get Together (Fairport Convention)
02 One Sure Thing (Fairport Convention)
03 Lay Down Your Weary Tune (Fairport Convention)
04 Chelsea Morning (Fairport Convention)
05 Violets of Dawn (Fairport Convention)
06 If [Stomp] (Fairport Convention)
07 Time Will Show the Wiser (Fairport Convention)
08 If I Had a Ribbon Bow (Fairport Convention)
09 Morning Glory (Fairport Convention)
10 Reno, Nevada (Fairport Convention)

For the cover, I took a screenshot from the YouTube video of "Reno, Nevada." By the way, that's Ian Matthew in front, Richard Thompson in the middle, and Judy Dyble in the background.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan's Blues - Non-Album Tracks (1962)

Yesterday, I posted a Bob Dylan album of stray tracks from around the time of his first album, the one simply called "Bob Dylan" that was released in early 1962. This leaves me with the problem of what to put on the next album of stray tracks, because he recorded a TON of songs before releasing "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" in 1963.

Luckily, there's a perfect solution for my problem, because just one month after "Bob Dylan" was released, Dylan was back in the studio, and he recorded an album's worth of new material. By the time "Freewheelin'" finally would get released, these songs would be old hat to him, so none of them would make it on that album. Furthermore, there even was a planned title for this album: "Bob Dylan's Blues."

So all I had to do was gather up the songs from the best available sources and put them together in roughly the order they were recorded over a several day period. And that was made easy for me too, because all the songs that hadn't been officially released already were released on an obscure album put out a few years ago called "The 50th Anniversary Collection: The Copyright Extension Collection, Volume I." As you can tell from the title, it was released in a very limited number just to make sure the record company would keep legal rights to the copyrights for each of the song performances (which is a problem for them in Europe). In some cases, there were multiple takes of the same songs, so I had to pick the best takes.

Dylan was writing more of his own songs, but he still wasn't confident enough to give up on doing covers. Five of the 12 songs on this album were written by somebody else:

[I Heard That] Lonesome Whistle
Baby, Please Don't Go
Wichita Blues [Going to Louisiana]
Going to New Orleans
Milk Cow [Calf's] Blues

Here's the full tracklist:

01 Let Me Die in My Footsteps (Bob Dylan)
02 Rambling Gambling Willie (Bob Dylan)
03 Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues (Bob Dylan)
04 The Death of Emmett Till (Bob Dylan)
05 [I Heard That] Lonesome Whistle (Bob Dylan)
06 Sally Gal (Bob Dylan)
07 Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues (Bob Dylan)
08 Rocks and Gravel [Solid Road] (Bob Dylan)
09 Baby, Please Don't Go (Bob Dylan)
10 Wichita Blues [Going to Louisiana] (Bob Dylan)
11 Going to New Orleans (Bob Dylan)
12 Milk Cow [Calf's] Blues (Bob Dylan)

I was surprised at how few color photos I could find of Dylan from before 1964 or even 1965. This photo I used appears to be from the same photo session as the photo I used for the earlier 1962 Dylan album I posted here. I removed the yellow couch he was sitting on to make the similarity less obvious.