Friday, August 31, 2018

David Bowie - Karma Man - Non-Album Tracks (1967)

Here's more of David Bowie's stray track material. This album covers 1967. It's a very curious time in Bowie's career. He'd just moved away from his rock and R&B material, but he had yet to hit his stride with his unique Bowie sound, which he would start to do in 1969. During this time, he went through a sort of music hall phase that was drastically out of step of what was considered cool in those years.

But, Bowie being Bowie, it was much more complicated than that. He was inspired from all sorts of sources, including the old-fashioned entertainer Anthony Newley, but also the songwriting of Ray Davies of the Kinks, as well as the music of the Velvet Underground. Furthermore, Bowie was a big science fiction fan, and that was starting to show up in his songs. The result was a truly unique mix.

Much of his output from this era appeared on his very first album, the 1967 album simply called "David Bowie." But, as you can see here, there was just as much material that didn't get on that album. A lot of this has never been officially released, probably because Bowie has been somewhat embarrassed about this phase of his career. Admittedly, it is hit or miss. For instance, people either love or hate "The Laughing Gnome." Personally, I think it's brilliant; you just have to appreciate it as a goofy novelty song.

But also, we can see the first examples of the fully developed Bowie style. For instance, I think songs like "Karma Man" and "Let Me Sleep Beside You" could have easily stood proudly as part of any of his next several albums.

I believe all the songs here are Bowie originals, except for "I'm Waiting for the Man," a Velvet Underground song.

This album is 34 minutes long.

01 The Laughing Gnome (David Bowie)
02 Everything Is You (David Bowie)
03 Social Girl (David Bowie)
04 Silver Treetop School for Boys (David Bowie)
05 Little Toy Soldier (David Bowie)
06 I'm Waiting for the Man (David Bowie)
07 Did You Ever Have a Dream (David Bowie)
08 C'est la Vie (David Bowie)
09 Karma Man (David Bowie)
10 Let Me Sleep Beside You (David Bowie)
11 When I Live My Dream [Alternate Version] (David Bowie)
12 Run Piper Run [Edit] (David Bowie)

I found a photo of Bowie in 1967, then removed the background and replaced it with a psychedelic-styled one to fit the kind of albums covers that were in vogue in that year.

Aretha Franklin - Love for Sale - Non-Album Tracks (1969-1970)

Here's the next in my series of stray tracks for Aretha Franklin's golden era. I explained the method to my madness in my last Franklin post: use the material from the "Rare and Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul" collection, but add in other singles, live tracks, and so on, while breaking the music up to shorter album lengths.

My first album, covering 1967 to 1968, was nearly all songs from the "Rare and Unreleased" collection. But for this album, covering 1969 to 1970, one can better see what I'm doing. Six of the songs here are from that collection. But another three are unreleased live songs where I removed the clapping. Plus, there's a hit only released as a single "The House that Jack Built" and a B-side that also was strangely released from "Rare and Unreleased," even though it gathers up some of the B-sides from this era ("Pledging My Love - The Clock").

I'm particularly proud of what I did with "Gentle on My Mind."  After some research, I was able to track down a copy of Franklin doing that song with Andy Williams on his TV show in 1969. Unfortunately, Williams started the song in his muzak-y style which I loathe. Then Franklin, her back-up singers, and band, completely took over the rest of the song, leaving Williams in the dust. So what I did was cut out the Williams part of the song entirely. Now it just sounds like a great Franklin song from start to finish. About the only evidence Williams is even there is when he says "Here we go!" near the start of the recording.

01 The Fool on the Hill (Aretha Franklin)
02 You're Taking Up Another Man's Place (Aretha Franklin)
03 You Keep Me Hangin' On (Aretha Franklin)
04 I'm Trying to Overcome (Aretha Franklin)
05 Funny Girl (Aretha Franklin)
06 Gentle on My Mind (Aretha Franklin with Andy Williams)
07 Love for Sale (Aretha Franklin)
08 Once in a Lifetime (Aretha Franklin)
09 Pledging My Love - The Clock (Aretha Franklin)
10 It's Not Unusual - See Saw (Aretha Franklin & Tom Jones)
11 The Party's Over (Aretha Franklin & Tom Jones)
12 My Way (Aretha Franklin)
13 My Cup Runneth Over (Aretha Franklin)

The cover art is based on a 1971 photo, with additional artwork added by Makeba Rainey.

Aretha Franklin - Sweet Bitter Love - Non-Album Tracks (1966-1968)

With Aretha Franklin's funeral taking place today, it's a good time to post more of her music in memory to her great career.

As I've mentioned before, it's generally acknowledged that the peak of her career was from 1967 to 1974. In 2007, an official album of her stray tracks from this time was released, called "Rare and Unreleased Recordings from the Golden Reign of the Queen of Soul." This is a very good album, but I found I didn't listen to it much. It dawned on me that the problem was it was two CDs of about 70 minutes of music each, and most of the songs were in a slow tempo. It was too much Aretha at once, and it dragged too much.

What I've done instead is broken up the music from that compilation into smaller chunks of about 40 minutes each - about the length of Franklin's albums at the time. I added in other songs that didn't make her official albums, including some great A-side hits and some songs that were only done live. These extra tracks are generally more lively, and I think the result is a much better listen.

01 My Kind of Town [Detroit Is] (Aretha Franklin)
02 Try a Little Tenderness (Aretha Franklin)
03 Sweet Bitter Love (Aretha Franklin)
04 It Was You (Aretha Franklin)
05 The Letter (Aretha Franklin)
06 So Soon (Aretha Franklin)
07 Mr. Big (Aretha Franklin)
08 Talk to Me, Talk to Me (Aretha Franklin)
09 The House that Jack Built (Aretha Franklin)
10 My Song (Aretha Franklin)
11 There's No Business like Show Business - Baby Come Back to Me (Aretha Franklin)

I made the cover art based on a photo that I'm guessing is from around 1967.

Bob Dylan - I'll Keep It with Mine - Non-Album Tracks (1964)

Here's yet another in a long line of Bob Dylan stray tracks albums. As it so happens, there's just enough material this time around to cover the year 1964.

I think Dylan must have slowed his songwriting considerably after his hyper-productive 1963, probably because he was changing styles from the political and outward looking to the personal and introspective. The album "The Times They Are A-Changin'" came out just two weeks into 1964, so effectively this album covers the time he was working on the album "Another Side of Bob Dylan," released in August 1964. He would hardly do any recording until January 1965, which would be the sessions for "Bringing It All Back Home," and another drastic musical change for him.

This album is fairly short - only 32 minutes (not counting the bonus track, which I'll get to shortly). "Another Side of Bob Dylan" is not as lauded as much as the albums that came before it or after it, and I think the shortness of this album is a sign that he didn't have as much good material to choose from. But still, any mid-Dylan material is pretty damn good.

Note that the songs "Dr. Strangelove Blues" and "Stoned on the Mountain" performed by Dylan and his folk music friend Eric Von Schmidt seem to have been composed on the spot. But still, they came up with a lot of great, amusing lines, and clearly they had a fun time.

The bonus track is a version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" with Ramblin' Jack Elliott on backing vocals. It was almost included on the "Another Side" album. I only added it as a bonus because it's done on Dylan's next album in a very similar manner. I'm glad Dylan rejected this version, because I think the song is better without Elliott's rough vocals.

01 Mama, You Been on My Mind (Bob Dylan)
02 Denise (Bob Dylan)
03 California [Acoustic Version] (Bob Dylan)
04 The House of the Rising Sun [Electric Overdubs Version] (Bob Dylan)
05 Black Crow Blues [Acoustic Guitar Version] (Bob Dylan)
06 I'll Keep It with Mine (Bob Dylan)
07 Dr. Strangelove Blues (Bob Dylan & Eric Von Schmidt)
08 Stoned on the Mountain (Bob Dylan & Eric Von Schmidt)
09 More and More (Bob Dylan & Eric Von Schmidt)
10 Guess I'm Doing Fine (Bob Dylan)

Mr. Tambourine Man [Early Version] (Bob Dylan with Ramblin' Jack Elliott)

The cover art was made by Peter of the Albums I Wish Existed blog.

Paul Weller - Slide Away - Non-Album Acoustic Tracks (1997-2001)

I just posted an album of Paul Weller's full band stray tracks from 1996 to 1998. This is essentially the companion album to that. It covers a longer time period, but it's all-acoustic material.

Weller has gone through different phases when he wanted to rock and other phases where he wanted to get mellow and acoustic. The late 1990s were one of his most rocking phases. This album starts in 1997, but I couldn't find any good acoustic versions from 1998 or 1999 at all. But by 2001, he went acoustic in a big way, going on tour with just himself, an acoustic guitar, and a piano, and putting out a live album of that tour, "Days of Speed." I figure any Weller fan big enough to want this already has "Days of Speed," so I didn't include any songs from that.

Typically, Weller's acoustic material falls into three categories: his solo material, his Jam and Style Council material, and cover songs. This has some of all three. As far as covers go, "Waiting on an Angel" sounds exactly like a Weller original to my ears, but it's actually a Ben Harper song. Weller also does a great duet with Pete Townshend on an old Who song ("So Sad about Us"), and a cover of an Oasis song ("Slide Away.") "Carnation" and "Here's One that Got Away" are Jam and Style Council songs, respectively.

01 As You Lean into the Light (Paul Weller)
02 Everything Has a Price to Pay [Acoustic 1997 Version] (Paul Weller)
03 Friday Street (Paul Weller)
04 Driving Nowhere [Acoustic with Drums] (Paul Weller)
05 Waiting on an Angel (Paul Weller)
06 So Sad about Us (Pete Townshend & Paul Weller)
07 Dust and Rocks (Paul Weller)
08 A Whale's Tale (Paul Weller)
09 Carnation (Paul Weller)
10 Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea (Paul Weller)
11 Here's One that Got Away (Paul Weller)
12 Frightened (Paul Weller)
13 Slide Away (Paul Weller)

I made the cover from a bootleg of 2001 Weller music.

Paul Weller - Brand New Start - Non-Album Tracks (1996-1998)

I've come to the conclusion recently that Paul Weller probably is the hardest working guy in music. Or at least he's close! I saw some interview videos where he admitted he has no hobbies because all he does is eat, sleep, and breathe music. He even broke up a perfectly happy marriage in the mid-1990s because he was afraid of being TOO happy, and thus not feeling creatively challenged enough. (That's what his hit song "The Changingman" is about.)

Anyway, one result of his work ethic is that I have a ton of stray tracks albums to post, covering his entire career. The only other musician I know of who probably is more prolific with material NOT on official albums is Robyn Hitchcock, so I'm posting a ton of his stuff too. I wouldn't bother with either of these guys, except their non-album material is usually just as good overall as their album material.

This Weller album, covering 1996 to 1998, is a particularly good one. It includes some nice originals, such as the hit "Brand New Start." Five of the 12 songs are covers, but I think they sound exactly like Paul Weller songs. Two of them - "The Circle" and "I'm Gone" come from such obscure source material, and sound so much like quality Weller originals, that you'd have to do some research to even find out Weller didn't write them.

In my opinion, this album is just as good (and slightly longer) than the official album that came out in this time period, 1997's "Heavy Soul."

01 The Circle (Paul Weller)
02 Will It Go Round in Circles (Paul Weller with Jools Holland)
03 Eye of the Storm [Instrumental] (Paul Weller)
04 Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City (Paul Weller)
05 I'm Gone (Paul Weller & Jools Holland)
06 Shoot the Dove (Paul Weller)
07 So You Want to Be a Dancer [Instrumental] (Paul Weller)
08 The Poacher (Paul Weller & Ocean Colour Scene)
09 Brand New Start (Paul Weller)
10 Right Underneath It (Paul Weller)
11 Science [Lynch Mob Remix] (Paul Weller)
12 Tales from the Riverbank [New Version] (Paul Weller)

For the cover art, I just used the cover of the "Brand New Start" single.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sheryl Crow - Keep On Growing - Non-Album Tracks (1995-1996)

It's funny - I think I prefer some of the Sheryl Crow stray tracks albums I've made to her official albums. That's probably because albums like this one have more variety, and a lot of cover songs.

Crow is a great singer, and is often a very good songwriter, but some of the songs she writes can fall into "adult contemporary" blandness. That's definitely not the case when she's covering the likes of the Rolling Stones, Steve Miller, Derek and the Dominos, or the Allman Brothers Band - and she does all of that and more here.

Her original songs are an interesting bunch too. The mid to late 1990s was Crow's commercial peak, I think in large part because she was musically peaking too.

This album has gone through some significant changes since I first posted it. In November 2021, I split it in two, creating the album "Rock Me Baby" because I found a bunch more songs from this time period. I put most of them on that album, but I also added "Midnight Rider," "All I Wanna Do (Beat Version)," and "La Ci Darem la Mano." Normally, I'm not that into alternate versions of songs, but I figure ""All I Wanna Do (Beat Version)" is different enough from the famous hit song version to merit inclusion.

"La Ci Darem la Mano" sticks out like a sore thumb. Crow dueted with Luciano Pavarotti for a song one would find in an opera. Personally, I think Crow did a very good job with her part (though I don't know opera enough to really judge). But since it's so different from everything else, I've stuck it at the end.

There's one bonus track, "100 Years," a duet with Blues Traveler. It sounds excellent even though it comes from a concert bootleg. The reason it's a bonus track is because it features a lot more of Blues Traveler than it does of Crow.

This album is 45 minutes long.

01 Keep On Growing (Sheryl Crow)
02 Get Off of My Cloud (Sheryl Crow)
03 Midnight Rider (Allman Brothers Band & Sheryl Crow)
04 I Feel Happy (Sheryl Crow)
05 Let It Bleed (Sheryl Crow)
06 The Joker (Sheryl Crow)
07 All I Wanna Do [Beat Version] (Sheryl Crow)
08 Free Man (Sheryl Crow)
09 Sad, Sad World (Sheryl Crow)
10 La Ci Darem la Mano (Luciano Pavarotti & Sheryl Crow)

100 Years (Blues Traveler & Sheryl Crow)

I made the cover from a 1996 concert photo.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Robyn Hitchcock - Fegmania - Acoustic Versions (1985)

This is a follow-up to my last post. Both cover 1985, the year Robyn Hitchcock released the album "Fegmania." The previous post was an album of stray tracks from that year. This album contains acoustic versions of as many songs from "Fegmania" I could find.

There are 12 songs on "Fegmania." It's a fairly rocking album, the first one Hitchcock did with the Egyptians, so not all of the songs lend themselves to acoustic versions. But I was able to find good acoustic versions for eight of them.

In addition, I found an acoustic version of the album track "Another Bubble," but I didn't think the sound quality is up to snuff with the rest of the songs. So I've only included it as a bonus track. Keep it if you wish, or don't.

The other seven songs here are acoustic versions of the songs on my 1985 stray tracks album I just posted, "Victorian Squid."

01 Egyptian Cream [Demo] (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 I'm Only You (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 My Wife and My Dead Wife (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 Goodnight I Say (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 The Man with the Lightbulb Head (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Insect Mother [Demo] (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Glass (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Heaven (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 The Bells of Rhymney (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Some Body (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 Dwarfbeat (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 Victorian Squid (Robyn Hitchcock)
13 Birdshead (Robyn Hitchcock)
14 I Got a Message for You (Robyn Hitchcock)

Another Bubble (Robyn Hitchcock)

For the cover art, I used the cover of the "Man with the Lightbulb Head" single. Clearly, it's a drawing done by Hitchcock. I've changed the text in the speech bubbles. Previously, the bubbles read: "You're too late!" and "I've come to turn you on!"

Robyn Hitchcock - Victorian Squid - Non-Album Tracks (1985)

My posting of Robyn Hitchcock's numerous stray track albums continues. As I've mentioned previously, for most of his official studio albums, I've been able to make two albums: one of acoustic versions of the songs on that album, and then another album of all the good stray tracks from that time. This is an example of the latter, covering 1985, the year Hitchcock released the "Fegmania" album.

"Fegmania" was the first album Hitchcock did with the Egyptians, the band he would stick with until 1992. (I'm not keeping track which songs are recorded with the Egyptians and which ones aren't, because, to be honest, I don't think it makes much difference. It's clearly Hitchcock plus a backing band whenever he's with a band.) Hitchcock did start playing many more concerts in 1985, but I couldn't find any instances of them doing really rare songs. So all the songs here have been officially released one way or another.

I call this album "Victorian Squid," because out of all of the songs on it, it's the one Hitchcock seems to like the best. Most of these songs haven't been played in concert at all, but he stills plays "Victorian Squid" on a regular basis.

01 The Bells of Rhymney (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 Some Body (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Dwarfbeat (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 The Pit of Souls [Parts I-IV] [Instrumental] (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 The Drowning Church (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Lady Obvious (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Victorian Squid (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Parachutes and Jellyfish (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Captain Dry (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Birdshead (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 I Got a Message for You (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 Point It at Gran (Robyn Hitchcock)

I'm very pleased at how this album cover turned out. Since I had decided to call the album "Victorian Squid," I Googled the term to see if anything interesting came up. Turns out someone named Travis Louie has made some fake portraits of people from the Victorian era but with some very strange twists. Such as a boy showing off his pet giant squid! All I did was add in a sepia tone and the text. Perfect. ;)

Bob Dylan - Lay Down Your Weary Tune - Non-Album Tracks (1963)

It's been a long time since I've posted any Bob Dylan, but my plan is to get to everything eventually.  :) My most recent Dylan posts have been of the earliest years of his career, gathering up his stray tracks from 1961 onward.

Dylan has been a very prolific songwriter in general, but I would guess he wrote more songs in 1963 than any other year. This album covers stray tracks from the latter half of 1963. But if one were to imagine an alternate reality where this album was released, it probably would have come out in 1964.

Note that Dylan released his acclaimed album "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" in 1963. This is the third album I've made of stray songs from 1963. And "The Times They Are A-Changin'" came out only two weeks into 1964, so that was all 1963 material too. Basically, that was five albums' worth of songs in one year!

These songs were recorded in the exact same months Dylan was recording "The Times They Are A-Changin'" - August to October 1963. So one could see this as the outtakes from those recording sessions. However, some of the songs actually weren't attempted as part of those sessions. For instance, a couple of them are demos recorded for Whitmark, and one was only done live in concert.

But whatever the source, it's clear to me that Dylan's songwriting was getting better and better. The percentage of cover songs on his albums was steadily going down. That trend continues here. "Moonshiner" is a cover, but I think it's one of his very best performances.

I only included the song "Ain't Gonna Grieve" as a bonus track. It was included on one of Dylan's official Bootleg Series albums (volume 9, covering the Whitmark demos). However, I found the sound quality to be below par compared to everything else on the album.

01 Paths of Victory (Bob Dylan)
02 Moonshiner (Bob Dylan)
03 Only a Hobo (Bob Dylan)
04 Seven Curses (Bob Dylan)
05 John Brown (Bob Dylan)
06 Gypsy Lou (Bob Dylan)
07 Troubled and I Don't Know Why [Live] (Joan Baez & Bob Dylan)
08 Lay Down Your Weary Tune (Bob Dylan)
09 Percy's Song (Bob Dylan)
10 Eternal Circle (Bob Dylan)
11 East Laredo Blues (Bob Dylan)
12 Bob Dylan's New Orleans Rag (Bob Dylan)

Ain't Gonna Grieve (Bob Dylan)

I made this cover based on a photo of Dylan, but I don't know where or when it's from. However, it looks to me like it's from 1963 or 1964, and there are so few of those in color that I'm using it.

David Bowie - I Dig Everything - Non-Album Tracks (1964-1966)

I'm a really big David Bowie fan. But I like some parts of his career much more than others. My favorite era of his is from about 1967 to 1973. (Perhaps not coincidentally, that's also roughly what I think have been the peak years of popular music in general. It seems to have been a special time, even though I'm too young to have experienced it first-hand.)

Anyway, Bowie's musical career had a slow start. From 1964 to 1966, he put out a few singles as "Davie Jones" or "Davy Jones," but they went nowhere. In 1967, his musical style changed drastically, but to not much success. He wouldn't "make it" until he had a hit with "Space Oddity" in 1969.

This album covers his 1964 to 1966 years, which was mostly music in rock or R&B styles. There's a decent official compilation called "Early On" covering this exact time period. It's okay, but it suffers from having to include every A- and B-side from that time period, when some of those are just not good enough to stand up to repeat listening, unless you're the most die-hard Bowie fan.

And it misses some other good songs from the era. For instance, Bowie wrote the song "Silly Boy Blue" all the way back in 1965 and made a demo about it then. Despite the title that makes it sound like a silly novelty song, it's actually about Buddhism, which put Bowie way ahead of the cultural zeitgeist curve. For instance, that was right when George Harrison began his interest in Indian spirituality, but nobody knew of his interest yet.

I've left off a bunch of songs from "Early On' and included six songs not on that. The album is organized chronologically. Some of the songs at the end already have Bowie getting into his next musical phase, moving away from R&B and into music hall and and theatrical styles.

If I were to recommend Bowie's albums to anyone, frankly, I would put music from this early time near dead last. A lot of it is pretty ordinary. However, if you're a big Bowie fan like I am, you want to know his whole career. I think this is a much better listen than "Early On."

By the way, with this album out of the way, I look forward to getting to much better Bowie stray tracks albums. He has a lot of really good stray songs, especially from 1967 to about 1975, many of them still officially unreleased.

01 Liza Jane (David Bowie)
02 Take My Tip (David Bowie)
03 That's a Promise (David Bowie)
04 I Want My Baby Back (David Bowie)
05 You've Got a Habit of Leaving (David Bowie)
06 Baby Loves that Way (David Bowie)
07 Silly Boy Blue [Demo] (David Bowie)
08 Can't Help Thinking about Me (David Bowie)
09 And I Say to Myself (David Bowie)
10 Good Morning Girl (David Bowie)
11 I Dig Everything (David Bowie)
12 I'm Not Losing Sleep (David Bowie)
13 Rubber Band [Single Version] (David Bowie)
14 The London Boys [Single Version] (David Bowie)
15 Love You 'Till Tuesday [Acoustic Demo] (David Bowie)
16 Over the Wall We Go (David Bowie)

I wanted a photo of a young Bowie for this album cover. I believe he's 13 years old! It's probably some school portrait from before his music career even began, but I figured it would be a kick for people to see him like this.

A year or more after first posting this album, I colorized the black and white photo. Note that Bowie is well known for having different colored eyes. But I looked it up, and I'm pretty sure this photo dates to shortly before the fight Bowie got in that resulted in one of the irises in his eyes turning brown.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Paul Weller - Reason to Believe - Non-Album Acoustic Tracks (1994-1995)

More Paul Weller! The last album I posted is of Weller's stray tracks from 1993 to 1995. This basically covers the same time period, but it's only all acoustic songs.

The songs on this album generally fall into three categories: acoustic versions of songs from the 1993 "Wild Wood" album, acoustic versions from the 1995 "Stanley Road" album, and six cover songs. There also are one or two songs from the other stray tracks albums from this time period.

If you put it all together, it's a fairly long album of 56 minutes. I would have liked to split it up into two albums, one covering the "Wild Wood" era and the other covering the "Stanley Road" album, but there just wasn't enough material for that. Both albums have some mellow songs that work well acoustically, but both also have rockers that Weller seems to have never played in acoustic format.

Anyway, I love good acoustic music, and this is Weller in his prime, so you should give it a listen.

01 Black Sheep Boy (Paul Weller)
02 Hung Up (Paul Weller)
03 Out of the Sinking (Paul Weller)
04 Birds (Paul Weller)
05 Foot of the Mountain (Paul Weller)
06 You Do Something to Me (Paul Weller)
07 The Loved (Paul Weller)
08 Country (Paul Weller)
09 All the Pictures on the Wall (Paul Weller)
10 It's a New Day, Baby (Paul Weller)
11 Out on the Weekend (Paul Weller)
12 A Year Late [Demo] (Paul Weller)
13 Broken Stones (Paul Weller)
14 I Shall Be Released (Paul Weller)
15 Corrina, Corrina (Paul Weller)
16 Reason to Believe (Paul Weller)
17 Time Passes [Demo] (Paul Weller)
18 Wings of Speed [Demo] (Paul Weller)

I made the cover from a still of Weller's "Wild Wood" video.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Paul Weller - Changes - Non-Album Tracks (1993-1995)

Yesterday, I posted "More Wood," an official album that gathered up stray tracks from Paul Weller's "Wild Wood" era, but is out of print now and was only ever released in Japan.

This album collects all the remaining full-band stray tracks from 1993 to 1995 that are not already on "More Wood." That covers both the "Wild Wood" and "Stanley Road" eras. I also have another album covering the same time period, but all acoustic songs.

"Wild Wood" and "Stanley Road" are probably Weller's best selling and most critically acclaimed solo albums. It's interesting to consider that he was so prolific with good songs then that there's enough material for one official stray tracks album and then two more!

Note that there is a called "Changes" on the deluxe edition of "Wild Wood." But it's definitely the same song as "Blink and You'll Miss It" on Weller's 2005 album "As Is Now.." So I call it "Blink and You'll Miss It (Changes)." I included it because the two versions are different and there are many years between them. I've also given the album the title "Changes," because I couldn't think up a better one.

Weller has always done good covers of other people's songs. Six of the songs here are covers.

01 Blink and You'll Miss It [Changes] [Demo] (Paul Weller)
02 I'm Only Dreaming (Paul Weller)
03 Ohio [Demo] (Paul Weller)
04 Oh Happy Day (Paul Weller)
05 Greetings (Paul Weller)
06 Sexy Sadie (Paul Weller)
07 I Shall Be Released (Paul Weller)
08 Come Together (Paul Weller & the Smokin' Mojo Filters)
09 A Year Late (Paul Weller)
10 Steam [Instrumental] (Paul Weller)
11 Everyone Must Have a Purpose (Paul Weller)
12 I'd Rather Go Blind (Paul Weller)
13 My Whole World Is Falling Down (Paul Weller)

I made the cover art from artwork related to the "Out of the Sinking" single.

Paul McCartney - Junior's Farm - Non-Album Tracks (1973-1975)

Here's the next in my series of stray tracks from Paul McCartney's long career. As with the other albums in the series, I've gathered all the good songs I could find from both officially released and bootleg sources that weren't on any of the official albums of the time. But McCartney is very prolific; this isn't absolutely everything; only the good stuff.

Note the curious case of the song "Wide Prairie." The original, unedited version was about 10 minutes long and has several distinct parts to it. McCartney later edited it down to highlight sections sung by his wife Linda, and put that on a posthumous album of Linda's music also called "Wide Prairie." I didn't like those parts. In some cases I can handle her limited singing abilities, but this wasn't one of those cases. So I edited the song down, but in a different way that more emphasizes Paul's contributions.

The one big hit here is "Junior's Farm," so that's what I made the title. There's another hit song that wasn't officially on an album, "Helen Wheels." It came out as a single before the release of the great "Band on the Run" album in 1973. It wasn't released on the British version of that album, but it was released on the US version. Then, before long, it was added to the British version too. So I assume that if you're a McCartney fan at all, you'll have "Band on the Run" with that song on it. Thus I didn't include it here.

01 Country Dreamer (Paul McCartney)
02 Wide Prairie [Edit] (Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney)
03 I Would Only Smile (Denny Laine with Paul McCartney)
04 Oriental Nightfish (Linda McCartney with Paul McCartney)
05 Junior’s Farm (Paul McCartney)
06 Sally G (Paul McCartney)
07 Zoo Gang [Instrumental] (Paul McCartney)
08 Let's Love (Paul McCartney)
09 Blackpool (Paul McCartney)
10 All of You (Paul McCartney)
11 Soily (Paul McCartney)
12 My Carnival (Paul McCartney)
13 Lunch Box - Odd Sox [Instrumental] (Paul McCartney)
14.4th of July (Paul McCartney)

For the cover I used the exact cover of the "Junior's Farm" single.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Crosby, Stills & Nash - Haven't We Lost Enough - Non-Album Tracks (1990-1992)

I've been remiss in continuing some of the stray tracks series that I've started. One of my most extensive series has been Crosby, Stills, Nash and/or Young. So far, I've made it from the start of their career until the late 1980s.

In 1990, CSN released the studio album "Live It Up." It was a commercial flop and a critical disaster. The cover art of hot dogs on the moon was widely mocked. Frankly, the criticism was deserved. It was a pretty bad album. One problem, which has dogged CSN/Y ever since the 1970s in general, was bad production. CSN tried to sound contemporary and even went to outside songwriters in a failed attempt to get a hit. I suspect there was a lot of misguided record company manipulation.

In my CSN/Y alternate universe, I imagine that CSN didn't put out an album in 1990. Instead, they waited until 1992 to give them more time to write some good songs. (Neil Young is out of the picture and won't do much with CSN until the late 1990s.)

CSN actually wrote some really good songs during this time. It's just that they usually either frittered them away on little-noticed solo albums, slathered them with over-production, or didn't release them at the time (and sometimes not even later). They've made these same mistakes for their entire career.

Probably my favorite song from this time period is "Haven't We Lost Enough." That's why I've used it as the album title. Surprisingly, it was released on "Live It Up" and it wasn't ruined by bad production. But because it was put on such a bad album, and never played in concert, it's been almost totally forgotten when it should be as famous as their most popular 1960s and 1970s classics. The song was only played live once by CSN, on a TV show. Just for variety's sake, I've used that version (though it's very similar to the album version).

Four other songs here also were on "Live It Up," and the versions I've used are the exact same ones from that album. Some of those have problematic production, but they're fundamentally good songs and I was unable to find any high quality alternate versions.

Next up will be my version of CSN's 1994 album "After the Storm," which is a much better album but still could use a lot of improvement.

01 Haven't We Lost Enough (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
02 Hero (David Crosby)
03 A Case of You (Crosby & Nash)
04 Isn't It So (Stephen Stills)
05 Yours and Mine (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
06 [Got to Keep] Open (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
07 On the Other Side of Town [Baby's Vaccination] (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
08 I Don't Get It (Stephen Stills)
09 Arrows (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
10 After the Dolphin (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
11 Heart's Gate (Stephen Stills)
12 Somehow She Knew (Crosby, Stills & Nash)

I made the cover using art from a CSN concert poster. I added the text at the bottom.

Robyn Hitchcock - Crystal Branches - Non-Album Tracks (1984)

Here's the next in my long series of stray tracks albums from Robyn Hitchcock.

In 1984, Hitchcock released the all acoustic album "I Often Dream of Trains." It gave his solo career a rebirth, after he lost direction with his previous album and didn't put any new music for two years.

Whenever I can in this series, I post two albums for each official Hitchcock album: a stray tracks album, and an album of acoustic versions of the songs from the official album. Since the official album is acoustic to begin with, the acoustic version is moot. But here's the stray tracks album.

Probably a lot of Hitchcock fans would consider many of these songs part of "I Often Dream of Trains." That's because most of them have been added as bonus tracks on various rereleases of the album. But in fact the original album was only 39 minutes long, and these stray tracks make up another 36 minutes. The first song, "Star of Hairs," is done with a full band, but the rest are acoustic, just like the official album.

In my opinion, "I Often Dream of Trains" is one of Hitchcock's very best albums, and it is critically acclaimed. This album is very nearly as good. When Hitchcock would play the "Trains" album live in concert in 2008 (and release it as the live album "I Often Dream of Trains in New York"), he would play many of these songs too.

By the way, the album title I chose, "Crystal Branches," was selected because that was a title Hitchcock considered for the "Trains" album. Those words are mentioned in the song "Winter Love," which actually didn't make it on the official album but is one of the stray tracks here, so that works out nicely.

01 Star of Hairs (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 Mellow Together (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Winter Love (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 The Bones in the Ground (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 My Favourite Buildings (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 I Used to Say I Love You (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Chant - Aether (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Not Even a Nurse (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Slow Chant - That's Fantastic Mother Church (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Traveller's Fare (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 Surgery (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 The Unpleasant Stain (Robyn Hitchcock)

To come up with cover art for this album, I had a vision of actual "crystal branches," so I Googled that term and found the above photo. The caption for the photo, which I cropped, is: "Background from crystal branches of pair snowflake in microscope."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Aretha Franklin - A Deeper Love - Selected Best Songs (1993-1999)

I previously posted a version of this album that dealt with the years 1986 to 2014. But in late 2021, the Aretha Franklin box set "Aretha" was released. I found a bunch of songs from the latter part of her career that I'd previously missed. So this album has narrowed in scope, and I made a new album that deals with the years 2002 to 2014.

In the 1990s, her good songs became rarer and rarer. She continued to chase musical trends like hip hop, New Jack, house, and so on. The results were not pretty. Plus, she just didn't put as much time and effort into her musical career as before (which naturally has been the pattern for most artists as they move into their senior years). For her entire career up until about 1982, she generally put out an album a year. But after that, it was usually three or more years between albums.

Funnily enough, the vast majority of the songs on this album have not been officially released. In fact, the only performance taken from one of her studio albums is "A Rose Is Still a Rose" from her 1998 album of the same title. Most of the rest are live performances. I'm generally not a fan of soul / R&B music from this time period (up to including today!), and a big reason for that is the production. For instance, the use of Autotune nearly always makes me cringe. Live versions often are better, because the practicalities of having a band play the songs can remove some of the production excesses.

A case in point in the song "A Deeper Love." I didn't like the song at all, even though it was a hit. It was Franklin's attempt at house music, and I really don't like house music. But I found a live version played on a TV show that sounds significantly different, and much better, in my opinion.

The only other officially released versions here are "Someday We'll All Be Free" from a movie soundtrack, and "Nessun Dorma" from the "Aretha" box set.

Sometimes when she played live or for TV shows during this time period, she avoided the bad production typical of the era. A case in point are the songs"Talk to Me" and "The Makings of You." She sang and played them solo on piano as part of a two-hour TV interview in 1994. In my opinion, it's very refreshing to hear her in this kind of stripped down format later in her career. She did "The Makings of You" with a full band for a 1994 Curtis Mayfield tribute album, also in 1994, but this version is much better, in my opinion.

This album is 50 minutes long.

01 Someday We'll All Be Free (Aretha Franklin)
02 Just to See Her (Aretha Franklin & Smokey Robinson)
03 Border Song [Holy Moses] (Elton John & Aretha Franklin)
04 Ol' Man River (Aretha Franklin)
05 S'Wonderful (Aretha Franklin)
06 A Deeper Love (Aretha Franklin)
07 Talk to Me (Aretha Franklin)
08 The Makings of You (Aretha Franklin)
09 How High the Moon (Aretha Franklin)
10 The Way We Were - The Best Is Yet to Come (Aretha Franklin)
11 Nessun Dorma (Aretha Franklin)
12 A Rose Is Still a Rose (Aretha Franklin with Lauryn Hill)
13 Lawdy Miss Clawdy - Dear Heart - Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte - Shotgun (Aretha Franklin with Erma Franklin)

The cover art is based on a photo from the latter part of her career, but I don't know the year.

Aretha Franklin - Freeway of Love - Selected Best Tracks (1985-1989)

I'm my opinion, from the late 1970s to the end of her career, Aretha Franklin's music is hit or miss. So I've created stray tracks albums that uses the best of anything she did in those years, be it from her studio albums or non-album tracks.

I had previously made a version of this album that dealt with the years 1980 to 1985. But I found more material I liked that radically transformed this album. It now deals with 1985 to 1989. Note how the time period is very different, so nearly all the songs are different.

Franklin's career recovered somewhat in the early 1980s after hitting a nadir in the peak disco years of the late 1980s. Probably the peak of this period of her career was her 1985 album "Who's Zooming Who?" which contained three big hits. Those are the first three songs here.

The next two songs come from her 1986 album "Aretha," including a number one hit duet with George Michael, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." The last song on this album, "He's the Boy," comes from her 1989 album "Through the Storm."

The rest of the songs are non-album tracks. Three of them are officially unreleased: "You Are So Beautiful," a duet with Billy Preston, "Shine," and "Please, Please, Please," a duet with James Brown.

This album is 48 minutes long.

If you had the old version of this album, be sure to also get "Hold On, I'm Coming," which contains what I consider the best songs she did from the early 1980s.

01 Freeway of Love (Aretha Franklin)
02 Who's Zoomin' Who (Aretha Franklin)
03 Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves (Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin)
04 Jimmy Lee (Aretha Franklin)
05 I Knew You Were Waiting [For Me] (Aretha Franklin & George Michael)
06 Jumpin' Jack Flash [Live] (Aretha Franklin)
07 You Are So Beautiful (Aretha Franklin & Billy Preston)
08 Shine (Aretha Franklin)
09 Please, Please, Please (James Brown & Aretha Franklin)
10 Oh Happy Day (Aretha Franklin & Mavis Staples)
11 He's the Boy (Aretha Franklin)

The cover art is based on a 1985 photo.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin - The Columbia Years, Volume 1 - Selected Best Tracks (1960-1963)

For most listeners, Franklin's career began in the year 1967. She signed to Atlantic Records, and she was immediately rewarded with some huge hits and critical acclaim, including the all-time classic song "Respect." But actually, her recording career began years earlier. She recorded for Columbia Records from 1960 to 1966. Unfortunately, they didn't know what to do with her. They knew she was a great talent, but they tried to push production and songs on her that didn't really fit her talents. They basically wanted her to be a mainstream Barbra Streisand type. Whereas Atlantic Records freed her to fully pursue soul music.

To this day, Franklin's pre-1967 material is mostly forgotten, even though Columbia Records has repackaged that material over and over in all sorts of different configurations. I didn't find any of their compilations satisfying, so I made one myself, which is here.

When I first posted this album in 2018, I listened to her Columbia material and picked out about 48 minutes of the songs I liked best. Then, in August 2021, a new Aretha Franklin box set called "Aretha" was released that covered her entire career. It included a few songs from her Columbia time period that I'd missed and that I had to admit were pretty good. That made me think that maybe I'd missed some others, so I went back to listened to her early stuff again. I did find more songs that I liked, enough to create two albums, which together add up to an hour and half of music.

As mentioned above, Columbia didn't give her the right material, though in the company's defense, apparently this was the musical direction she wanted to pursue at the time as well. That said, there are many songs that could easily fit on her late 1960s albums in terms of style and production. I tended to select those, while avoiding the many ballads with too much orchestration.

This album is 46 minutes long. Please don't forget to check out Volume 2. Here's the link for that:

01 Today I Sing the Blues (Aretha Franklin)
02 Maybe I'm a Fool (Aretha Franklin)
03 Won't Be Long (Aretha Franklin)
04 It Ain't Necessarily So (Aretha Franklin)
05 Are You Sure (Aretha Franklin)
06 Operation Heartbreak (Aretha Franklin)
07 Rough Lover (Aretha Franklin)
08 Blue Holiday (Aretha Franklin)
09 Hard Times [No One Knows Better than I] (Aretha Franklin)
10 Without the One You Love (Aretha Franklin)
11 How Deep Is the Ocean (Aretha Franklin)
12 I'm Sitting on Top of the World (Aretha Franklin)
13 Trouble in Mind (Aretha Franklin)
14 Ol' Man River (Aretha Franklin)
15 Skylark (Aretha Franklin)

After splitting this album in two, I decided to make new album covers for both volumes. It seems there are few or no good color photos of Franklin from 1960 to 1963. However, I found a nice black and white promo photo that apparently dates to 1961. I colorized it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Robyn Hitchcock - The Perfumed Corpse - Non-Album Tracks (1982-1983)

This is the other companion album for Robyn Hitchcock's "Groovy Decay" / "Gravy Deco" era.

That album was recorded in 1981, though it wasn't released until 1982. As I mentioned in my previous post, it suffered from production problems that's made it kind of the "black sheep" of all of his solo albums. But also, he seems to have hit a rough patch when it came to songwriting. One can see this by the fact that he usually had a plethora of songs to choose from with each album, usually enough for me to create an entire alternate album from the stray tracks. But in this case, there are only three known outtakes from the "Groovy Decay" recording sessions. (The first two tracks here come from that. The third, "Falling Leaves," I didn't deem good enough for inclusion.)

That should have left me with not nearly enough stray tracks to make an album. Hitchcock then went into a kind of semi-retirement for the next two years, performing virtually no concerts and releasing no new material. He has since said he flirted with giving up his musical career entirely at that point. However, he didn't actually stop recording  So the vast majority of this album actually dates from after "Groovy Decay," during these two supposed "lost years" before he put out the acclaimed "I Often Dream of Trains" in 1984 and restarted his solo career.

These lost years remain fairly musically mysterious since no bootlegs from his few concerts (a handful in the first half of 1982) survive, and no bootlegs of his studio material from the time have come to light. Thus, all of the remaining songs on this album come from his two rarities collections of the era, "You and Oblivion" and "Invisible Hitchcock." The liner notes for those albums don't say much, so I had to do some serious Googling to figure out which songs were recorded in which year.

I think one ends up with a pretty interesting album that Hitchcock could have easily released in 1983.

By the way, the title "The Perfumed Corpse" has nothing to do with any of the songs that I can see. But I used it because it was another working title for what became "Black Snake Diamond Role" (along with "Zinc Pear"). I used it here because I figured it was an actual album title that Hitchcock thought of using (that didn't seem to have any direct link to any of those songs either), so it would be better than me coming up with something from scratch.

01 It Was the Night (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 How Do You Work This Thing (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Listening to the Higsons (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 Stranded in the Future (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 Aether [Demo] (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Nothing (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Eaten by Her Own Dinner (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Dr. Sticky (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Keeping Still (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Mr. Deadly (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 Messages of Dark (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 Trash (Robyn Hitchcock)
13 Let There Be More Darkness (Robyn Hitchcock)
14 The Abandoned Brain (Robyn Hitchcock)

For the cover art, I used the cover for the 1984 single "My Wife and My Dead Wife." All I did was change the text at the bottom. It's a nice coincidence that Hitchcock has his eyes closed as if he's passed away and the title is "The Perfumed Corpse."

Monday, August 13, 2018

Robyn Hitchcock - Groovy Decay / Gravy Deco - Acoustic Versions (1982-1983)

A couple of days ago, I started posting my Robyn Hitchcock stray track material, in chronological order. For nearly every album he has officially released, I have two albums. One is of as many of the songs from the album I can find performed in an acoustic style. The other is of studio stray tracks from around the same time as the album. This is another example of the first type.

"Groovy Decay / Gravy Deco" is easily the most problematic of all Hitchcock solo albums. The fact that it has two different names (plus "Groovy Decoy" for another version) is an indication of the trouble. Basically, Hitchcock's first solo album "Black Snake Diamond Role" in 1981 sold very poorly. So for his next album in 1982, the record company pushed a producer on him who would try to make the album ape the most popular trends of the time. Hitchcock went along with that, but regretted it almost immediately. He put out a different version based on demo recordings in 1986, but  the demos were full band versions that didn't sound that different.

As a result of all this, the album has been like the sole "black sheep" of all of his solo albums. He didn't tour at all to support it, and he's very rarely played any songs from it. Thus, when it comes to finding acoustic versions of these songs, I had a hard time. I was only able to find four songs done in that style, which is by far the fewest I could find of any of his solo albums. But, on the plus songs, the acoustic versions are a revelation, since they completely cure the songs of the trendy production problems the originals and even the demo versions suffered.

Four songs would be way too few for an album. Luckily, I was able to find three more acoustic versions of songs that were done around the same time. (The other studio recorded songs from that era will be the subject of my next Hitchcock post.)

But even three more songs wasn't very much. So I added three more songs from the next phase of his career, the all-acoustic "I Often Dream of Trains." He's released a live album recorded in 2008 of nearly all the songs from that album, plus some outtakes, called "I Often Dream of Trains in New York." Since the original album is acoustic and the live album is acoustic, I figured it would be redundant to have yet another acoustic version of those songs. But I found three more songs from that era that were not on the live album but instead were performed acoustically in concert at other points in his career.

Yet even after adding those songs too, this album still is only 30 minutes long. I wish there was more of this time period done acoustically. But, like I said, this is the one album Hitchcock regrets and has generally ignored, so we're lucky to get different versions of even some of the songs.

By the way, the sound of "St. Petersburg" is a bit dodgy compared to the rest, but it's the best I could find.

01 Young People Scream (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 52 Stations (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 America (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 St. Petersburg (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 Listening to the Higsons (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Messages of Dark (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Trash (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Sometimes I Wish I Was a Pretty Girl (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Bones in the Ground (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Surgery (Robyn Hitchcock)

For the album cover, I used the cover to Hitchcock's 1982 single "Night Ride to Trinidad." I removed the song title from the top of the picture and added additional text below Hitchcock's name at the bottom. And no, I don't know what that is in front of his face.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Van Morrison - Caledonia Soul Music - Non-Album Tracks (1973)

It's time for more Van Morrison. I've been posting pretty much one album of stray tracks for each year in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and that continues with 1973.

Actually, Morrison could have released two more albums in 1973, because I've already posted an album he did of country standards recorded from 1971 to 1973, which can be found here:

As for this album, the highlight has to be song "Caledonia Soul Music." It's seventeen minutes long and mostly instrumental. I have no idea why on Earth it remains officially unreleased. You should get this album for that alone, but the rest of it is solid too. He does two duets with Jackie DeShannon that are especially nice.

This album is 43 minutes long.

01 No Way (Van Morrison)
02 I Paid the Price (Van Morrison)
03 Sweet Sixteen (Van Morrison & Jackie DeShannon)
04 The Wonder of You (Jackie DeShannon & Van Morrison)
05 You Done Me Wrong (Van Morrison)
06 Not Supposed to Break Down (Van Morrison)
07 Caledonia Soul Music (Van Morrison)

I still am unable to make new cover art. However, Peter of the "Albums I Wish Existed" blog downloaded this album and was inspired to make his own excellent cover art, which I've included here.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Paul McCartney - C Moon - Non-Album Tracks (1972-1973)

I got a request to post more Paul McCartney music. I don't want to post music from too many artists at once or things will get too confusing. (I still have lots of artists I haven't begun to post material from.) But I've already posted one McCartney stray tracks album, so I'll start gradually working through others.

McCartney is another one of those artists who has tons of great songs that never got on any of his proper studio albums. As a result, I've made a whole series of stray tracks albums, with each one typically covering a few years of his long solo career. 

This one covers 1972 to 1973. (More of 1973 is covered on the next one in the series.) During this time, McCartney released several singles with songs on them that he didn't put on his albums at the time, including classics like "C Moon," "Hi, Hi, Hi," and "Live and Let Die ." Additionally, there are some bonus tracks, unreleased songs from bootlegs, and the like.

Note that I don't bother with clarifying which songs are by "Paul McCartney," Paul and Linda McCartney," "Paul McCartney and Wings," or just "Wings." Let's face it: it's basically all just Paul McCartney. There are a few cases where his wife Linda or other Wings members (especially Denny Laine) wrote and/or sang good songs, so I've included those when they were good enough. There's two examples of that here, a Linda McCartney song called "Seaside Woman," plus a song done jointly by Paul and Denny ("I Lie Around").

Personally, I think this album is better than some of the albums he released at the time, such as "Wild Life" or "Red Rose Speedway."

01 Give Ireland Back to the Irish (Paul McCartney)
02 Mary Had a Little Lamb (Paul McCartney)
03 Hi, Hi, Hi (Paul McCartney)
04 C Moon (Paul McCartney)
05 Seaside Woman (Linda McCartney & Paul McCartney)
06 Best Friend [Live] (Paul McCartney)
07 The Mess (Paul McCartney)
08 Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney)
09 Mama's Little Girl (Paul McCartney)
10 Jazz Street [Instrumental] [Edit] (Paul McCartney)
11 I Lie Around (Paul McCartney & Denny Laine)

I found this picture without any words on it. But I also found a version that was used as the cover of the "Junior's Farm" single.

Robyn Hitchcock - Black Snake Diamond Role - Acoustic Versions (1981)

I just posted an album of Robyn Hitchcock's stray tracks from 1981. I mentioned in that post that I have (at least) 45 Hitchcock albums I've made. That's a heck of a lot of albums, considering that he hasn't even come close to releasing that many official albums.

So, how did I come up with that much material? The albums I've made generally fall into three categories. First are the albums of stray studio tracks, like the "Zinc Pear" album I just posted. As I said, I generally have one of those as a companion for each of his official studio albums. The second type are acoustic versions of songs he's released on official albums. And the third type are albums made up entirely of acoustic cover versions he's done, usually in concert.

As you can guess from the album title here, this is the second type of album. Sometimes, one can find acoustic demos of Hitchcock songs on bonus tracks or rarities collections. I've used those whenever I could. More often, I've found that he's played songs in solo acoustic style in concert, since he probably plays more solo acoustic concerts than band concerts over his entire career. I think it's interesting, and makes a good listen, to hear his songs done acoustically. It's rare if I can find all the songs on any given album done in an acoustic version (especially since there are usually a couple of songs on each of his albums that he's never played in concert, period). However, I can almost always find most of them. Then I can flesh the acoustic album a little bit by finding acoustic versions of stray tracks done from around the same time.

That's exactly what I've done here. I managed to find seven out of the 10 songs from "Black Snake Diamond Role" done acoustically. Most of them are concert recordings with the applause removed. I often had to use versions from many years later, due to the fact that the oldest acoustic concert recordings I know of (from bootlegs) date to 1985, four years after the album was released. I figure the date of when the song was performed is less important than the sound quality. I'm pretty happy with how the songs sound, even though most of the recordings aren't from soundboards, and there's some audience noise here and there.

I added in two songs at the end that are acoustic versions of 1981 stray tracks (basically, the songs I just posted on the "Zinc Pear" album).

The resulting album is short, only 33 minutes long, since he has only rarely played any of his 1981 songs in the many years since then. But I still think it makes for a good listen, and allows one to appreciate "Black Snake Diamond Role" in a new way.

01 The Man Who Invented Himself (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 Brenda's Iron Sledge (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 The Lizard (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 Acid Bird (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 I Watch the Cars (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 City of Shame (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Love (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 A Skull, a Suitcase and a Long Red Bottle of Wine (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Give Me a Spanner, Ralph (Robyn Hitchcock)

I made the cover art, using some black and white promotional art related to the album as a basis.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Robyn Hitchcock - Zinc Pear - Non-Album Tracks (1981)

I've already posted a couple of recent Robyn Hitchcock albums I've made, plus a bunch of stuff by the Soft Boys (the Hitchcock-led band from the late 1970s). Now it's time to start dealing with Hitchcock's career in a more systematic way.

And boy, is there a lot of material to deal with! Simply put, I think Hitchcock is a musical genius. But he doesn't get his due, because he's been content to pursue his own eccentric path for his entire career rather than trying for mainstream fame and big sales. He's been incredibly prolific all the while and he's still going strong today.

The only other songwriters I can think of who have been so consistent and prolific for so long are Bob Dylan and Neil Young. But Hitchcock's popularity is just a tiny fraction of those two giants, so I've had to dig deep to find and organize his more obscure material. I've got no less than 45 albums of his stray tracks that I've made, and that doesn't even count his many interesting concerts that I probably will want to post at some point in the future. (Unlike virtually any other artist except Phish, he's regularly played entire albums by other artists in concert, as well as sometimes entire albums of his own.)

By the time I'm done, I hope I'll open up at least some people's eyes to see that Hitchcock is a major artist who deserves to be compared to the likes of Dylan and Young. So let's begin...

Hitchcock's first solo album was 1981's "Black Snake Diamond Role." It was recorded a year after the classic Soft Boys album "Underwater Moonlight," and in fact the Soft Boys continued to play concerts off and on until 1982. As per my usual policy, I don't want to include any songs on official coherent albums like "Black Snake Diamond Role." But Hitchcock has a ton of stray songs, some of which got on official compilations such as "Invisible Hitchcock" or "You and Oblivion," but also many that remain unreleased. I consider all of those fair game. He has so many stray tracks that I've been able to make a companion album for nearly every single album he's released!

The first of these I call "Zinc Pear." I have no idea what the heck that means, but it was another title considered for "Black Snake Diamond Role," so I figure it's as good as any.

The songs on this album are a grab bag of weirdness. A couple are old Soft Boys songs redone by his new band ("Give Me a Spanner, Ralph" and "Dancing on God's Thumb"), one is an alternate version of a song on the "Black Snake Diamond Role" album ("I Watch the Cars No. 2"), and a couple would be redone for his next album ("Grooving on an Inner Plane" and "It Was the Night"). Some are really strange experiments (even by Hitchcock standards!), such as "Happy the Golden Prince," which is mostly a recited story. But, always, he keeps things creative and interesting.

By the way, I've included nearly all of his stray songs, but I did drop some due to quality control. I don't remember all the dropped titles, but for instance on this album I included "Blues in A" but not the very different "Blues in E."

All in all, this album has 51 minutes of music on it. Even if you drop a few songs because of overlap with other albums or because you just don't like them, that should still leave a full album's worth of top notch Hitchcock.

01 All I Wanna Do Is Fall in Love (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 A Skull, a Suitcase and a Long Red Bottle of Wine (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 It Was the Night (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 I Watch the Cars No. 2 (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 Blues in A (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Give Me a Spanner, Ralph (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 It's a Mystic Trip (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Grooving on a Inner Plane [Single Version] (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Dancing on God's Thumb (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Melting Arthur (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 You're So Repulsive (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 Happy the Golden Prince (Robyn Hitchcock)
13 Opiatrescence (Robyn Hitchcock)

For the cover art, I used the cover of the 1981 single "The Man Who Invented Himself." All I did was change the words in the speech bubble, which had been "The man who invented himself." Admittedly, the art makes sense with the older title, but nothing really fits with "Zinc Pear" anyway, and I think it's a cool drawing made by Hitchcock.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Clash - This Is Radio Clash - Non-Album Tracks (1981-1982)

My last two posts have been collecting all the good stray studio tracks from The Clash. This is the third and final such album.

This album covers the years 1981 and 1982. The Clash lingered on until 1985 without key member Mick Jones. I might have included some songs from that 1983 to 1985 line-up even though many people don't really consider that the true Clash. However, I've heard most of those stray songs and they're just not very good.

Only one album was released during this time, 1982's "Combat Rock." That album originally was going to be a much longer album, called "Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg." I've listened to a bootleg of that, and I feel the group make a good decision to shorten the songs. My usual policy is to not include songs on official albums unless they're significantly different. Some of the longer versions of songs that made it on "Combat Rock" could be called different, but I don't think they improve the songs, so I left all those off. If you're interested, get the "Fort Bragg" bootleg. A couple of completely unreleased songs, like songs 9 and 10 here, are also on that bootleg.

Also around this time, the Clash were quite enamored with dub and remix versions of their songs. Some of them were given different song titles. I didn't include any of those, regardless of song title, because, again, I didn't think those versions were very good.

You may note that I start and end this album with the classic Clash song "This Is Radio Clash." That's because they did two versions with almost entirely different lyrics. In this case, I DID consider both versions worthy of repeat listenings.

By the way, the song "Graffiti Rap" might sound like something other than a Clash song. But in fact, it is, and it was sometimes done by the Clash in concert at the time. The guest rapper Futura 2000 totally dominates the song. But note that he's also a key part of the song "Overpowered by Funk" on the "Combat Rock" album.

01 This Is Radio Clash (Clash)
02 Midnight to Stevens (Clash)
03 Graffiti Rap [Live] (Clash with Futura 2000)
04 House of the Ju Ju Queen [Demo] (Clash)
05 First Night Back in London (Clash)
06 Cool Confusion (Clash)
07 Long Time Jerk (Clash)
08 The Beautiful People Are Ugly Too (Clash)
09 Idle in Kangaroo Court [Kill Time] (Clash)
10 This Is Radio Clash [Alternate Lyrics Version] (Clash)

I got lucky with the cover art. I used the cover for the "This Is Radio Clash" single. Most versions don't include the words "The Clash" on it, but I found one rare version that does.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Clash - The Cost of Living - Non-Album Tracks (1979-1980)

I've been having some trouble with my laptop lately. I can still type okay, but it's becoming increasingly hard for me to use Photoshop. So I think until I buy a new laptop (hopefully in the next week or two), I'll post here without album covers (unless one can be used easily without changing much, such as this one).

As I said in my last post, there are enough Clash stray tracks for three albums. Here's the second of the three.

I'm calling this album "The Cost of Living" because the Clash put out an EP with that name in 1979. But, in fact, only the first four songs are from that. And one of those, "Capitol Radio Two," is a rerecording of the song "Capitol Radio" from the first stray tracks album I posted here (but it's different enough to merit inclusion, including having a slightly different name).

The rest of the songs come from a variety of different sources. Most are A- or B-sides, but there are also a few outtakes from the "London Calling" and "Sandinista!" albums.

01 I Fought the Law (Clash)
02 Groovy Times (Clash)
03 Gates of the West (Clash)
04 Capital Radio Two (Clash)
05 Armegideon Time (Clash)
06 Heart and Mind (Clash)
07 Bankrobber (Clash)
08 Stop the World (Clash)
09 King of the Road (Clash)
10 Blonde Rock and Roll (Clash with Ellen Foley)
11 Every Little Bit Hurts (Clash)

The cover is just the cover of "The Cost of Living" EP, except with the word "EP" removed from the title.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Clash - Clash City Rockers - Non-Album Tracks, 1976-1978

The Clash are one of my all-time favorite bands. They were only around a few years, so they didn't record that many songs, but practically everything they did was great, including most of their stray tracks.

They were prolific enough to come up with three albums' worth of stray studio material. This is the first of those three albums. I have the material for all three albums in rough chronological order.

This album starts with two songs from The 101ers in 1976. They were The Clash in all but name. One of the two 101ers songs here, "Keys to Your Heart," was performed live by The Clash from time to time at least until 1980. I wanted to use a Clash version, but unfortunately the sound quality wasn't very good on any of the versions I could find. This studio version is essentially the same, but sounds much better.

The rest of the songs are from 1977 and 1978. The first Clash album, simply titled "The Clash," is a bit confusing because the US and British versions are quite different. As I almost always do, I consider the British version the standard one, so there are a few songs here from the US version.

There are a lot of classic songs here. I think, had this been an album, it would have at least been rated higher than their second album, "Give 'Em Enough Rope."

01 Keys to Your Heart (101ers)
02 Letsagetabitarockin' (101ers)
03 1977 (Clash)
04 Capital Radio (Clash)
05 Listen (Clash)
06 Complete Control (Clash)
07 City of the Dead (Clash)
08 Clash City Rockers (Clash)
09 Jail Guitar Doors (Clash)
10 [White Man] In Hammersmith Palais (Clash)
11 The Prisoner (Clash)
12 1-2 Crush on You (Clash)
13 One Emotion (Clash)
14 Pressure Drop (Clash)
15 Time Is Tight (Clash)

There was an official stray tracks album released while the Clash were still a group called "Black Market Clash." I considered using that as the title for this one, but I thought that could be confusing, so I went with the title of one of the A-sides on it instead. But I used the "Black Market Clash" cover, except for changing the text.