Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Kinks - To the Bone (Studio) (1994-1996)

This post immediately follows a post of the other Kinks' "To the Bone" album. Check out that post for a detailed explanation about why I've done what I've done.

But the short version is that for both the British and US versions of the album (which are very different), there is a seemingly random mixture of live tracks from concerts and semi-acoustic tracks played in front of a small studio audience. The other post has all the live stuff grouped together. This one has all the (mostly) studio stuff.

Virtually everything on this album was recorded in one day in 1994. But, for the US version of the album, the Kinks tacked on two new songs, recorded in a studio in early 1996. These songs are excellent, especially "To the Bone," which is one of my favorite Kinks songs of all time (though that admittedly is a pretty long list since they're such a great band). So naturally I've stuck those two songs at the end here as well.

To be honest, the songs here aren't really that acoustic, generally speaking. They're done with the full band, including a drummer with a full drum kit. The main difference is that acoustic guitars are used instead of electric ones. Some of the songs are also rearranged in creative ways.

01 Apeman (Kinks)
02 Tired of Waiting for You (Kinks)
03 See My Friends (Kinks)
04 Death of a Clown (Kinks)
05 Muswell Hillbilly (Kinks)
06 Better Things (Kinks)
07 Don't Forget to Dance (Kinks)
08 Picture Book (Kinks)
09 The Village Green Preservation Society (Kinks)
10 Do You Remember Walter (Kinks)
11 Set Me Free (Kinks)
12 Dead End Street (Kinks)
13 A Gallon of Gas (Kinks)
14 Waterloo Sunset (Kinks)
15 Animal (Kinks)
16 To the Bone (Kinks)

The US and British versions of "To the Bone" have completely different covers. I used the British cover for the live album, so I'm using the US one here.

The Kinks - To the Bone (Live) (1993-1994)

The Kinks are great! At this point, I've posted 11 stray tracks albums by them, plus another four BBC albums, plus several more by Ray or Dave Davies. But I'm not done with them, not by a long shot!

Next on my list is fixing their 1990s (albums) "To the Bone." It's hard to even say what year it came out in, because a single album version was released in Britain in 1994 and a double album version was released in the US in 1996. They were based on the same set of performances. But even though the British version was half as long as the US one, it contained two songs not on the US version ("Waterloo Sunset" and "Autumn Almanac").

So partly, I wanted to gather all the tracks from both versions in one place. But more important is that "To the Bone" really is two albums in one, and I wanted to separate the two. Basically, in 1994, the Kinks recorded a bunch of songs in a semi-acoustic style in front of a very small studio audience. It was the Kinks' attempt to ride the popular wave of "Unplugged" albums in the early 1990s. But for whatever reason they decided to mix in these recordings with some professionally recorded concerts from 1993 and 1994. Then they mixed the live and (mostly) studio tracks in no apparent order on both versions of the "To the Bone" albums.

What I've done is to simply make an album out of all the true concert tracks, and then another album out of all the in-the-studio semi-acoustic tracks. I think that makes a heck of a lot more sense, from a listening point of view. So here's the first of two albums, the live one.

The Kinks only released four live albums, including this one. Their previous one, "Live: The Road," from 1987, wasn't that good. So this serves as the last Kinks live album. They were in much better form in 1993 and 1994 than in 1987.

The vast majority of this album comes from two concerts, one in late 1993 and one in early 1994. So I've clustered the tracks from each show together, with the 1993 one naturally coming first. There's one more song taken from another 1993 concert. I stuck that at the very end, since the song in question is "You Really Got Me," and that's a great show closer.

I also stuck in one extra unreleased song, an acoustic version of "Scattered" that comes from a Swedish TV show in 1994. I put it here because I think it's a really nice performance, with just Ray and Dave Davies, and I didn't have any other good place to put it. (I'm planning on posting another album of performances from the BBC and other TV or radio appearances from this era, but that already has a different version of the same song on it.)

In case you're curious, this makes for a 57 minute long album. I'll follow this with the studio "To the Bone" album, which is around the same length.

01 Do It Again [Acoustic] (Kinks)
02 Do It Again (Kinks)
03 Celluloid Heroes (Kinks)
04 I'm Not like Everyone Else (Kinks)
05 Days (Kinks)
06 Scattered [Acoustic] (Kinks)
07 All Day and All of the Night (Kinks)
08 Sunny Afternoon [Acoustic] (Kinks)
09 Dedicated Follower of Fashion [Acoustic] (Kinks)
10 Autumn Almanac [Acoustic] (Kinks)
11 Lola (Kinks)
12 Come Dancing (Kinks)
13 Till the End of the Day (Kinks)
14 Give the People What They Want (Kinks)
15 State of Confusion (Kinks)
16 You Really Got Me (Kinks)

The British and US versions of "To the Bone" have totally different album covers. So it made sense to me to use one cover for each of the two albums I've made with the rearranged song orders. Since the British version came out in 1994, and all the songs here are from 1994 or earlier, I've used the British one here without making any changes to it.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Van Morrison - Live Rarities, Volume 2: 1971-1973

If you've been following this blog, you'll probably have noticed that I've posted a ton of Van Morrison music, nearly all of it from the late 1960s and 1970s. First, I posted a series of stray tracks albums. He has a phenomenal amount of quality songs from that time period that never made it onto album at the time.

Then, I started posting some live material from him. My live albums from him are meant to complement each other, with almost no instances of the same songs played twice. I recently posted an album called "Live Rarities, 1970-1971," which gathers up all the interesting songs he played in concert that I didn't include elsewhere. This is the second such "Live Rarities" collection. I have three more to go, covering 1973 to 1977.

I have to admit the sound quality on this album isn't always stellar. These often are songs that he played very rarely in concert, sometimes only once. As a result, we're lucky to get any bootleg recordings of them at all. I did use some quality control, omitting songs where the sound quality wasn't good enough for my standards. But some of this comes from audience bootlegs, not pristine soundboards.

Hopefully, the uniqueness of the song choices makes up for the sound quality. All the songs here were very rarely performed, at least in the 1970s. For instance, one might expect that he'd played "Brand New Day" a lot, since it's a popular song from his classic 1970 album "Moondance." But according to, he's only played the song in concert twice in his long career, both in 1973.

1972 is kind of a lost year for Morrison in terms of concert recordings. He played a lot of concerts that year, but very few were bootlegged, and most of those sound awful. So there were some songs he only ever played in 1972  Luckily, I found once decent bootleg and was able to rescue a few of those songs.

This album is 47 minutes long.

01 I Found a Love (Van Morrison, Linda Tillery & Lydia Pense)
02 Rock Me Baby (Van Morrison, Linda Tillery & Lydia Pense)
03 I Will Be There (Van Morrison)
04 Old Old Woodstock (Van Morrison)
05 Little Girl - He Ain't Give You None (Van Morrison)
06 Flamingos Fly (Van Morrison)
07 Brand New Day (Van Morrison)
08 Hard Times [Instrumental] (Van Morrison)

The cover art is based on a concert poster from the Paramount Theatre in 1971. The odd color scheme is exactly the same as the original. However, I shifted up his name in order to squeeze it into a square shape. 

John Fogerty - John Fogerty's All-Stars, Chaplin Stage, Hollywood, CA, 5-31-1985

If you're a fan of John Fogerty, you need to hear this. Fogerty is the kind of guy who rarely plays any songs other than the ones on his albums. He might play the occasional cover song of a classic in concert, but that's about it. Except for this one concert in 1985, played in a studio in front of a small audience.

1985 was a very big year for Fogerty. Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up in 1972. Fogerty tried to have a solo career from 1973 to 1976, putting out two albums in that time (and one that never got released, which I've posted here). But his solo career never caught fire. Due to legal troubles with his record company, plus a lack of inspiration, he went into musical seclusion for nearly ten years, not playing in public or releasing any studio material in all that time. Then he released the "Centerfield" album in 1985, which was a big hit, selling over two million copies.

Given that success, it's not that big of a surprise that he managed to get an hour-long TV special promoting the new album later in 1985. But what's strange is that this special, which makes up this album, hardly promoted "Centerfield" at all. In it, he played a grand total of one song from the album, "Rock and Roll Girls." One! Instead, he played a variety of mostly obscure cover songs, most of which he's never played live before and never played since.

So this is practically a Fogerty covers album that hardly anyone knows about (nine covers plus the one song from the album), recorded at a time when he was at the peak of his musical powers, with his voice as good as it ever got.

There's only 29 minutes of music from the special, even though it was an hour-long show. That's because one has to deduct the time for commercials, plus the playing of the studio version of the song "Centerfield." On top of that, there are some lengthy talking sections between songs, but these were recorded elsewhere, generally outdoors, so I didn't consider including them.

However, the 29 minute length is rather short for an album, so I've added a couple of extra songs at the end. "Vanz Can't Dance" and "Knock on Wood" come from Fogerty's performance at 1985's Farm Aid, which was the very first Farm Aid benefit concert. Apparently, the only two concerts he did in 1985 were the TV special show plus Farm Aid.

At Farm Aid, he only played three songs. One of them, the hit "The Old Man Down the Road," was mostly played while the TV broadcast of the concert was on a commercial break. There is an audience recording of it, but the sound quality is poor, so I haven't included it. The sound of the other two songs is outstanding, at the same level as the 1985 TV special. And "Knock on Wood" is a real treat, because apparently this was the only time he's ever done the song in concert or on record.

The two extra songs make the album 37 minutes long, which sounds more like a full album to me.

01 Mary Don't You Weep (John Fogerty)
02 My Pretty Baby - Leave My Woman Alone (John Fogerty)
03 Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go (John Fogerty)
04 I Need Your Loving (John Fogerty)
05 I Confess (John Fogerty)
06 I'm a Man [Mannish Boy] (John Fogerty)
07 No Love in You (John Fogerty)
08 Rock and Roll Girls (John Fogerty)
09 My Toot Toot (John Fogerty)
10 Vanz Kant Danz (John Fogerty)
11 Knock On Wood (John Fogerty)

For the album cover, I took a couple of screenshots of Fogerty's 1985 TV special, which can be found on YouTube. One of them has Fogerty in the foreground with some other musicians behind him. The other is a baseball pennant with the name of the special written on it.

Robyn Hitchcock - Bee Man Ray - Non-Album Tracks (1997-1998)

I've posted a gazillion Robyn Hitchcock stray tracks albums already, and I have another gazillion to go. This is just a straight up full-band collection of non-album tracks (as opposed to a collection of all acoustic stuff, or live cover versions).

The years covered are 1997 and 1998. He released the studio album "Moss Elixir" in 1996 and "Jewels for Sophia" in 1999. This falls in between. The live album "Storefront Hitchcock" was released in 1998, which is the soundtrack to a film of the same name. One songs here - "Let's Go Thundering" - is also on "Storefront Hitchcock." (Pretty much all the other songs on that are from previous albums.) Another song here, "Gene Hackman," would be a bonus track on his next album, "Jewels for Sophia." But this is a different version, done without an audience.

Two of the songs here are covers: "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" by Bob Dylan, and "Cirrus Minor" by Pink Floyd. I believe all the rest are originals.

This album is a bit short, at 37 minutes. But I believe this shows he had enough material to put out another album between his 1996 and 1999 albums (especially since I'm sure he had all sorts of other songs lying around). I'm not sure why he didn't put an album out at that time, except maybe he didn't want to confuse audiences by having an album to compete with "Storefront Hitchcock."

01 It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 If We Hear Music (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Loop the Loop (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 Cirrus Minor (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 Where Do You Go When You Die (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Let's Go Thundering (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Gene Hackman (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Nothing but Time (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Broken Heart (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Fleshhead (Robyn Hitchcock)

For the album cover, I used a painting Hitchcock made to illustrate his song "Madonna of the Wasps." It depicts a wasp woman, not a bee man, but I figure it's close enough for horseshoes. ;) Maybe she's about to shoot a ray at the man to turn him into a bee.

Elliott Smith - Acoustic Versions, Volume 1: 1996-1998

I've posted six albums of Elliott Smith stray tracks. That's all I have in terms of original songs that didn't go on any of his studio albums of the time. But I have a lot of other material of his to post.

Such as this album. If you've been following this blog, you've probably noticed I have a special affinity for acoustic music. Smith's music was usually acoustic-based to begin with. But this album strips him down to the bone, usually just him and an acoustic guitar. This is the first of three albums I have like this. They're split according to chronological order.

Eleven of the 18 songs here were done in the studio. A few are recording session outtakes, but most are from in-person appearances at radio stations. The remaining seven songs were done in concert. But the recordings are so excellent that you can hardly tell the difference. Nearly all the songs here are unreleased, but of the seven done live, four of those have been officially released, and their sound is outstanding.

Thus, what you get is essentially Smith playing his best songs from his early years in a solo acoustic style, as if he was playing in your living room. All his best known songs from 1996 to 1998 are here. I was careful to keep digging until I found excellent versions of all the biggies. If there are some that are missing, they're probably on the next album in this series, as that has a few songs from his 1998 album "XO" on it.

01 Between the Bars (Elliott Smith)
02 Pretty Mary K [Other Version] (Elliott Smith)
03 Bottle Up and Explode [Piano Version] (Elliott Smith)
04 Antonio Carlos Jobim (Elliott Smith)
05 Say Yes (Elliott Smith)
06 The Morning After (Elliott Smith)
07 Division Day (Elliott Smith)
08 The Biggest Lie (Elliott Smith)
09 2;45 AM (Elliott Smith)
10 Alameda (Elliott Smith)
11 Pictures of Me (Elliott Smith)
12 Angeles (Elliott Smith)
13 Some Song (Elliott Smith)
14 Bled White (Elliott Smith)
15 Clementine (Elliott Smith)
16 Sweet Adeline (Elliott Smith)
17 Miss Misery [Piano Version] (Elliott Smith)
18 I Didn't Understand [Piano Version] (Elliott Smith)

The cover art comes from a concert poster. I'm not sure what year it's from, since I believe it's from an annual Portland event called the Rose Parade. I replaced some text between the legs with the album title.

The White Stripes - Walking with a Ghost - Non-Album Tracks (2004-2005)

A couple of days ago, I accidentally posted a White Stripes stray tracks album I'd posted already. Luckily, The_Lighthouse noticed this right away, and I deleted it. This is the album I'd meant to post instead.

The White Stripes pretty much have an album of stray tracks for each studio album they released. This is essentially the companion album to their 2005 album "Get Behind Me Satan." About half of the songs here are officially released, with four of those from A- or B-sides, and another from an EP. There also is a Jack White solo song ("City Lights"), and two more songs related to a Loretta Lynn album he was heavily involved with at the time ("Van Lear Rose" and "Portland, Oregon,") "Whispering Sea" is a Lynn song from around 1960.

The unreleased songs that make up up the other half of this album generally come from concert bootlegs. I think more than any time before or since, the White Stripes in 2005 played a wide variety of cover songs in concert. I listened to several dozen rare songs played by them then. Unfortunately, I had to eliminate most of them due to sound quality issues, since they often played a song just once or twice, and the odds were it would only get recorded on an average sounding audience bootleg. Also, many times they would only play a minute or so of a song instead of the full thing, so I eliminated those too.

Happily, I was still left with a handful of songs. Generally speaking, they were the ones the band played a dozen times or more, enough so there was at least one well recorded version. Most of these are old blues songs drastically transformed into the White Stripes style, like Bob Dylan's "Outlaw Blues," or Son House's "Grinnin' in Your Face" or Robert Johnson's "Stones in My Passway." "Small Faces" is a 1968 song by the very obscure garage rock band "Public Nuisance." "Jack on Fire" is a 1980s song by the Gun Club. "Jack the Ripper" is from 1963, by Screaming Lord Sutch.

There are many more songs I wish I could have included, but didn't due to the sound quality issues I mentioned above. But I picked what I consider two of the best of these and added them as bonus tracks. "I'm Sorry" is a Bo Diddley song and "You Belong to Me" was a big hit in 1952.

01 Outlaw Blues - Jack the Ripper (White Stripes)
02 Walking with a Ghost (White Stripes)
03 Shelter of Your Arms (White Stripes)
04 Top Special (White Stripes)
05 Whispering Sea (White Stripes)
06 Though I Hear You Calling, I Will Not Answer (White Stripes)
07 Grinnin' in Your Face (White Stripes)
08 Van Lear Rose (Jack White)
09 Stones in My Passway (White Stripes)
10 Jack on Fire (White Stripes)
11 Portland, Oregon (Loretta Lynn & Jack White)
12 Small Faces (White Stripes)
13 Folk Singer (White Stripes)
14 City Lights (White Stripes)

I'm Sorry (White Stripes)
You Belong to Me (White Stripes)

The cover is the cover to the "Walking with a Ghost" EP, with no changes whatsoever.

Joan Osborne - Under the Covers, Volume 1 (1991-1992)

Here's another musician I've never posted about before. I really like Joan Osborne, and I plan on posting a lot of her stuff.

Unfortunately, she's another one like Norah Jones or Maria McKee or Sheryl Crow, who are great singers but merely good songwriters. The problem with people like that is they generally fill their albums with original songs, when they shine better matching their great voices with great songs.

Luckily, Osborne hasn't entirely fallen into that trap, in that she's released entire albums of cover versions. But still, she's done lots of music that's never shown up on any of her albums, and I plan on focusing on that.

A few years ago, someone named George posted a bootleg compilation called "Under the Covers." It collected dozens of Osborne's cover versions from the early years of her career in one place. I liked that bootleg, and I'm naming this album in tribute to it. However, there were two problems with that compilation, in my opinion. First off, and the biggest one, was that the sound quality was a mixed bag, with most of the songs coming from audience bootlegs instead of soundboards. The second was a lack of sourcing for most of the songs, with no info on where or when the performance came from.

To fix these things, I made by own version, pretty much starting from scratch. Osborne spent a few years playing clubs before she hit the big time with her excellent album "Relish" and her hit single "One of Us." During those early club years, she played a wide variety of cover songs. Luckily, it turns out that her singing was so excellent that many soundboard recordings were made, despite the fact that she was a relative unknown at the time.

So I've managed to make three albums of her cover versions from the 1990s. This is the first one. My main issue was sound quality. With maybe only a couple of exceptions, I stuck to soundboard recordings for all three albums. The only covers I didn't include that sounded good enough were the few that she put on studio albums at the time, such as her covers of "Help Me" and "The Man in the Long Black Coat" off of "Relish."

She can really wail. She's like a throwback to another era, when there were lots of singers like Etta James and Aretha Franklin bursting with soul. She brings it here.

This album is an hour and two minutes long.

01 Use Me (Joan Osborne)
02 I Just Want to Make Love to You (Joan Osborne)
03 Damn Your Eyes (Joan Osborne)
04 Let's Stay Together (Joan Osborne)
05 Oh Darling (Joan Osborne)
06 I Shall Be Released (Joan Osborne)
07 Do Right Woman, Do Right Man (Joan Osborne)
08 When Something Is Wrong with My Baby (Joan Osborne & Warren Haynes)
09 Killing Floor (Joan Osborne)
10 Me and Bobby McGee (Joan Osborne)

The cover is based on a photo of Osborne singing at The Wetlands, a New York City club, in 1992.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Paul Weller - Open Road - Non-Album Tracks (2014-2015)

If you've been following my Paul Weller posts, you'll know I've often alternated between full-band albums and all-acoustic albums. This is definitely the full-band kind. It's especially lively. 

As is usually the case, it contains some cover versions, including "I Take What I Want" "Things Get Better," and "[I'm A] Roadrunner." I've also included a version of one of his songs by the Jam that he rarely performs, "Start."

Most of the rest of the songs relate to Weller's 2015 album "Saturns Pattern." There are five bonus tracks from various versions of the album, as well as three B-sides of singles from the album. There's also a separately released A- and B-side, the songs "Brand New Toy" and "Landslide" respectively. (And by the way, "Landslide" is an original, not a cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic.) One song, "Let Me In," is a demo of a Weller original that he gave to Olly Murs for an album called "Never Been Better." The Weller version came out on the "Will of the People" compilation in 2022.

As a result of all that, this album has an unusually high number of originals, compared to other stray tracks albums of his that I've posted.

Note that I also included another cover, "I've Never Found a Girl (Who Loves Me like You Do)," on the previous Weller album I posted. But that was an all-acoustic album, and that was the acoustic version of the song. This is the full-band version.

This album is 44 minutes long.

01 Start (Paul Weller)
02 Brand New Toy (Paul Weller)
03 I Take What I Want (Paul Weller)
04 Things Get Better (Paul Weller)
05 Landslide (Paul Weller)
06 Let Me In [Demo] (Paul Weller)
07 [I'm A] Roadrunner (Paul Weller)
08 Dusk Til Dawn (Paul Weller)
09 On Days like These (Paul Weller)
10 I Spy (Paul Weller)
11 Open Road (Paul Weller)
12 White Sky [Prof.Kybert vs. The Moons Remix] (Paul Weller)
13 I Work in the Clouds (Paul Weller)

For the cover art, I used what I think is a painting of Weller in concert in 2018. I just found it randomly on the Internet, so unfortunately I don't know who painted it or any other details.

Pink Floyd - BBC Sessions, Volume 1: 1967

I've posted two Pink Floyd albums already, but that's just the tip of the iceberg of all the stuff of theirs I plan on posting. However, before I post more of their stray tracks stuff, I want to post some of their BBC performances. For late 1960s and early 1970s Pink Floyd, their BBC recordings are essential, both in terms of the breath and quality of the songs performed, but also the excellent sound quality.

So here's Pink Floyd at the BBC in 1967, at a time when Syd Barrett was still a member of the group. Nearly all of these come from "The Early Years" box set. But there are a couple of things I did that are different from just making an album of all their 1967 BBC appearances.

For one thing, sadly, there are no BBC versions of their great hit "See Emily Play." In fact, no good live performances of this song by the band have been recorded at all. (They did play the song a time or two on TV, but they just mimed to the record.) However, there's one partial exception: the song was recorded well for a 1967 concert in Stockholm, Sweden, and that performance was included on "The Early Years." But unfortunately, the vocals were recorded so low that it's as if they don't exist. So consider this an instrumental version.

The original song "One in a Million" wasn't included on "The Early Years." Maybe it's a sound quality issue. The vocals are muffled and distant, making it nearly impossible to understand the words being sung. But the instrumental part sounds as good as lots of other things that made "The Early Years," and any Pink Floyd originals from 1967 should be treasured. The song is mostly an instrumental anyway, and one can treat the vocals as just another instrument.

The original instrumental "Tomorrow's World" is also on "The Early Years," but there's a big problem with it. It comes from a BBC science documentary "Tomorrow's World," and parts of the song have an announcer loudly talking over the music. So I made an edit just of the two sections without the talking and spliced them together. That makes it just over a minute long, but I considered it interesting enough for inclusion anyway.

The band did two songs for a BBC science documentary that were marred by a narrator talking over large portions of the songs. Thanks to the sound editing program X-Minus, I figured out a way to split the audio from the music. The song "Tomorrow's World" is a really nice instrumental in a longer version than before, since I could include a bit more where there had been the narration. "Green Onion" is a cover of the classic instrumental. I hadn't included it previously due to narration over the entire thing. It's not the greatest, but it does show Syd Barrett's guitar playing.

I also added "Reaction in G." I'd skipped it before because it's only 40 seconds long. (Clearly there should have been more, but the BBC only played that much, and the rest apparently has been lost.) Furthermore, the BBC DJs talked over most of that, so there wasn't much left. But now one can at least hear all of it clearly.

The total length of this album is 40 minutes, which is an ideal length for an album of the era.

01 Astronomy Domine (Pink Floyd)
02 One in a Million (Pink Floyd)
03 Matlida Mother (Pink Floyd)
04 The Gnome [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
05 The Scarecrow [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
06 Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
07 Reaction in G [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
08 Flaming [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
09 Tomorrow's World [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
10 Green Onions [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
11 Scream Thy Last Scream (Pink Floyd)
12 Vegetable Man (Pink Floyd)
13 Pow R. Toc H. (Pink Floyd)
14 Jugband Blues (Pink Floyd)

I normally detest using black and white photos for cover art if anything in color can be used instead. But in this case, I found an actual photo of Pink Floyd at the BBC in 1967. Specifically,  they're at BBC's Maida Vale Studios on October 9, 1967. I cropped the photo somewhat to focus in on the band members. From the larger photo, I gather they're listening to a playback of their BBC performance. Of course, I had to colorize the photo, because everything in psychedelic 1967 was in vivid color. ;)

The Pretenders - Cuban Slide - Non-Album Tracks (1978-1980)

There are a lot of musical artists I want to post about but haven't gotten around to yet. The Pretenders/Chrissie Hynde are a big one. I've been surprised at just how much good non-album material there is. This is the first of at least nine stray tracks albums I have from her and her band.

A lot of people think the Pretenders were at their best during the era of their first three albums, and I'm one of them. Arguably, the Pretenders were only a real band for their first two albums, because two of the four band members died between the recording of the second and third albums. It became Hynde plus backing musicians after that. Happily, all of the songs here are from when all four original members were still in the band.

This album is definitely a mixed bag. There are some great songs. For instance, "Cuban Slide" is one of my favorite Pretenders songs of all time, which is why I've named this album after it. There are a handful of other very nice originals. But there also are some slight instrumentals and unremarkable cover versions. But still, I consider anything from these early years to be pretty great.

The first song is a version of the famous 1960s Troggs hit "Wild Thing," except it's sung in French. It's credited to "Chrissie Hynde and the Strangeways." I don't know the full story behind this, but apparently the Strangeways weren't a real band, but a bunch of musicians who came together very briefly just to record this, right before the Pretenders were formed.

The next three songs are some demos recorded by Hynde with or without the other Pretenders. I actually have an entire album of demos from the band's early years to post. But I've put these three songs here instead because these are songs not done elsewhere, while the other demos are all versions of well-known Pretenders tunes. "Do I Love You" is a cover of a 1960s hit by the Ronettes, while the other two are originals that sound good enough to me to have fit on the first Pretenders album.

Most of the rest of the songs are originals also. One exception is "Sabre Dance," a 1960s hit that's a guitar-based instrumental, with Hynde strangely and occasionally singing some of the lyrics to "Stop Your Sobbing" on top of it. "Counterfeit" is a song by Chris Spedding that wasn't officially released by him until 1986.

Unfortunately, the sound quality on that one, plus "Tequila" (a Hynde original and not the 1960s instrumental hit) are rougher than all the rest. That's because they come from an audience bootleg. But still, I think they sound good enough for inclusion. However, the Pretenders' cover of "Girl Don't Come," a 1960s hit by Sandie Shaw, is even rougher. So I've only included that one as a bonus track.

01 Chose Sauvage [Wild Thing] (Chrissie Hynde & the Strangeways)
02 Do I Love You [Demo] (Chrissie Hynde & Steve Jones)
03 I Can't Control Myself [Demo] (Pretenders)
04 Suicide [Demo] (Chrissie Hynde)
05 Sabre Dance - Stop Your Sobbing [Live] (Pretenders)
06 I Need Somebody (Pretenders)
07 Swinging London [Instrumental] (Pretenders)
08 Nervous but Shy [Instrumental] (Pretenders)
09 Cuban Slide (Pretenders)
10 Porcelain (Pretenders)
11 Whatcha Gonna Do about It (Pretenders)
12 Counterfeit (Pretenders)
13 Tequila (Pretenders)

Girl Don't Come (Pretenders)

I based the cover art on the cover of the "Extended Play" EP, since "Cuban Slide" and a couple other songs here come from that.  But I changed the photo and most everything else, while keeping the general look. I called the band "Pretenders" instead of "The Pretenders" because that's what was written on the EP cover.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Move - I Can Hear the Grass Grow - Non-Album Tracks (1966-1967)

First off, a couple of people asked if I've stopped doing album covers. I haven't. It's just that I've been too busy to work on them lately. But I promise I'll get caught up on those by and by.

A while back, someone asked if I could post albums of the Move. So here we go. I've got a lot to post from them because they have a lot of great non-album tracks. Plus, they pretty much had a second career covering other people's songs for the BBC. So I have three albums of stray tracks to post, plus another four of BBC stuff. That's a lot, considering the band was only in existence for a few years and released five studio albums.

If you like the big British rock bands of the 1960s, like the Beatles, Kinks, Who, Rolling Stones, etc, and you haven't gotten into the Move, you're missing out. They're not as great as that top tier of bands I just mentioned, but they're definitely in the next tier. However, they aren't well known outside of Britain, probably because they only went on one short tour of the US and never had much commercial success there. In that respect, they're similar to the Small Faces, another great British band of the time that only had one hit in the US (which is one more than the Move did!).

Plus, if you like ELO (Electric Light Orchestra) at all, consider the Move to be the 1960s version of that band. Although there were some personnel changes, it's literally true that ELO was just the Move renamed, and of course Jeff Lynne was in both bands (though he hadn't joined yet for the music on this album).

The Move are rather unusual in my opinion in that it took them so long to come out with a debut album. They were formed in late 1965, and many of the songs on this album date from January 1966. They had their first hit in late 1966, "Night of Fear," which reached number two in Britain. That alone would have been enough for just about any band to quickly follow up with an album. They had two more top five hits in 1967, yet their first album, simply called "Move," didn't come out until March 1968. That was an eternity in those days.

It turned out they recorded enough music to have put out an album in 1967, one of that would have been just as good as the album they released in 1968, yet containing all different songs. That's the album here. It contains all their stray tracks from 1966 and 1967, including their hit singles "Night of Fear" and "I Can Hear the Grass Grow." (Their other big hit from 1967, "Flowers in the Rain," was included on their 1968 album.) A few of the songs are covers of soul hits, like "You're the One I Need," "Respectable." and "Too Many Fish in the Sea," but most are originals.

I've gone to the trouble of finding out when all of the songs were recorded, and I've ordered they mostly chronologically. One exception to that are the first two songs. The first song is an intro to the second one, and the second one, simply called "Move," is kind of a theme song for the band, so I figured it makes sense to kick off with that.

The last song is basically a bonus track. It's an acappella version of "Night of Fear." Normally, I don't like to include two versions of the same song on one album, but this one is too good to ignore.

01 Move Intro (Move)
02 Move (Move)
03 You're the One I Need (Move)
04 Winter Song (Move)
05 The Fugitive (Move)
06 Is It True (Move)
07 Too Many Fish in the Sea (Move)
08 Respectable (Move)
09 Don't Hang Up (Move)
10 I Can't Hear You No More (Move)
11 Night of Fear (Move)
12 Disturbance [Single Version] (Move)
13 Don't Throw Stones at Me (Move)
14 I Can Hear the Grass Grow (Move)
15 Wave the Flag and Stop the Train (Move)
16 Vote for Me (Move)
17 Night of Fear [Acappella Mix] (Move)

The cover was a breeze to make. It's the cover of one of the many covers of the "I Can Hear the Grass Grow" single. All I did was clean it up a little bit.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Beach Boys - Only with You - Non-Album Tracks (1976-1977)

Here's the next installment of my Beach Boys stray tracks.

However, with this album, I'm changing things up a little bit. I started in the late 1960s, and moved forward chronologically to the mid-1970s. All through those years, the official Beach Boys studio albums were solid and sometimes even great. But starting around this time, 1976, those albums become much more hit and miss. Unfortunately, as time goes on into the 1980s and beyond they become much more miss than hit. So, from this point on, these albums will cover everything the Beach Boys did, solo and as a band, and on album, singles, or other.

The only exception to that is if there are still any albums that are so good that I would recommend any Beach Boys fan should get the entire album. Luckily, there still are a couple of cases like that. One is in the time period covered by this album. I'm referring to "Pacific Ocean Blue," the first of two solo albums by Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson. Drummers are not usually known for either their singing or songwriting, but Dennis (who died in 1983) was great at both. In fact, I'd argue he was the second biggest creative force in the group being his genius brother Brian Wilson. Thus, I'm not including any songs here from "Pacific Ocean Blue," though a couple are bonus tracks from some versions of that album.

The first five songs on this album come from "15 Big Ones," the Beach Boys studio album released in 1976. As you can tell from the numbers, there are 15 songs on that album and I only like five, so  I don't think it's a very good album. Not only did critics and the public not like it very much, but even some of the Beach Boys themselves have knocked it. One problem was they couldn't decide if they wanted it to be an album of originals or of covers, and split the difference, with seven originals. Furthermore, the album was touted as the return of Brian Wilson, who produced the album after not producing any of the band's albums since 1966. But Brian was going through troubled times, having an idiosyncratic musical vision that was at odds with the rest of the band.

Basically, the album is a mess, but they rushed it out anyway, because they hadn't put out a new studio album since 1973, and demand was high, since they'd become the number one concert draw in the US (thanks to their backlog of hits).

Luckily, I think I was able to make a strong album by drawing on various solo projects and songs that weren't released at the time. In my opinion, this will be a common theme for the rest of the 1970s: the band was still recording a lot of good songs, it's just that a big chunk of them weren't ending up on their albums.

I want to make a particular note about the song "I Write the Songs." Chances are, you're familiar with this as a huge hit by Barry Manilow. But actually it was written by Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, and he released a version of it before Manilow's. The song is written from the point of view of Brian Wilson, since he's the one who "writes the songs that make the whole world sing."

One could imagine an alternate universe where the Beach Boys got the number of hit with this song, which would have been a much needed shot in the arm preventing them from turning into a oldies act. But Johnston left the band for a few years in the mid-1970s, and his version came out on an obscure solo album hardly anyone noticed (except for, apparently, Manilow).

01 Rock and Roll Music [Extra Verse Version] (Beach Boys)
02 Had to Phone Ya [Alternate Version] (Beach Boys)
03 That Same Song [Extended Version] (Beach Boys)
04 Everyone's in Love with You (Beach Boys)
05 Just Once in My Life (Beach Boys)
06 Sherry She Needs Me (Beach Boys)
07 Still I Dream of It [Demo] (Brian Wilson)
08 Sea Cruise (Beach Boys)
09 Tug of Love [Feel the Pull] (Dennis Wilson)
10 I Write the Songs (Bruce Johnston)
11 Morning Christmas (Beach Boys)
12 Only with You (Dennis Wilson)
13 Brand New Old Friends (Bruce Johnston)

The cover art here looks like a typical album cover photo, doesn't it? Actually, I looked for good photos of the band in 1976 or 1977, and the best one I could find featured them in an ad for car stereos. I removed some text up in the sky and replaced it with my own.

Brinsley Schwarz - Don't Lie to Me - Non-Album Tracks (1974-1975)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an album of stray tracks for Brinsley Schwarz. Here's a second such album. That band didn't have a very long career, so this finishes off all the stray tracks I have for them. The main singer and songwriter in the band was Nick Lowe, so finishing this off will allow me to move on to Lowe's solo career, as well as his career with Rockpile. But if you like Lowe and/or Rockpile, don't miss these Brinsley Schwarz albums. It's very, very similar.

About a third of the songs here come from BBC performances, another third are from concert bootlegs with the audience noise removed, and the remaining third are rare studio tracks, mostly A- and B-sides. Brinsley Schwarz's proper studio albums were mostly filled with original songs. But the vast majority of songs here are cover versions. Regarding the live songs, luckily, they come from sources with very good sound quality.

The 18 songs here total 54 minutes, not counting the bonus track.

The bonus track, a cover of the Rolling Stones classic "Brown Sugar," comes from the exact same concert as some of the other songs here. But it doesn't sound as good as the others, so it's only a bonus track. I think it's because the crowd was more boisterous through most of the song.

01 Don't Lie to Me (Brinsley Schwarz)
02 You Been Cheating (Brinsley Schwarz)
03 I'll Be Doggone (Brinsley Schwarz)
04 Save the Last Dance for Me (Brinsley Schwarz)
05 You Ain't Livin' Till You're Lovin' (Brinsley Schwarz)
06 Honky Tonk (Brinsley Schwarz)
07 You're So Fine (Brinsley Schwarz)
08 Hip City (Brinsley Schwarz)
09 Hey Bartender (Brinsley Schwarz)
10 I Ain't Never (Brinsley Schwarz)
11 Walking the Dog (Brinsley Schwarz)
12 I've Cried My Last Tear (Brinsley Schwarz)
13 Day Tripper (Brinsley Schwarz)
14 Slow Down (Brinsley Schwarz)
15 Snatch It Back and Hold It (Brinsley Schwarz)
16 Tell Me Why (Brinsley Schwarz)
17 I Should Have Known Better (Brinsley Schwarz)
18 Give Me Back My Love (Brinsley Schwarz)
19 There's a Cloud in My Heart (Brinsley Schwarz)

Brown Sugar (Brinsley Schwarz)

It's very hard to find good color photos of Brinsley Schwarz that aren't already used for official album covers or the like. I found this photo on the back of a bootleg. I have no idea when or where it's from. I wish I had a good photo of all five band members, but this was the best I could do.

When I updated this album in February 2021, I updated the cover photo too. It's the same photo as before, but I used some Photoshop tricks to hopefully sharpen the image a bit, and improve the overly red colors somewhat.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers - The Van Sessions, Part 2 (2012-2016)

Here's the second of my two Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers' "The Van Sessions" albums. Please see my write up for the first album for an explanation. But, in short, even if you've never heard of this band, you'll want to hear their cover versions of hit songs, all recorded while they were driving down the highway.

The first album were from the years 2011 and 2012, and all of the songs on that one were from the actual "Van Sessions." This deals with 2012 to 2016. The number of videos slowly went down until the band broke up. All of these recordings come from YouTube videos posted by the band. The "Van Sessions" were ordered, from around 1 to 30, though it seems they skipped some numbers and/or didn't number some of them. I included the numbers in the mp3 tags when I could find them, and all the songs are in chronological order.

For the second half of this album, many of the songs aren't actually from the "Van Sessions." But they were recorded in similar conditions (with one of them done on a bus instead of a van), and they've the exact same kind of cover versions of hit songs done in an acoustic style.

Note that I didn't include all the songs I could find that fit the format. As I mentioned in the previous post, sometimes the hiss on the recordings was more that I could take, and more than I could fix. But there were only a few of those, luckily. There were more cases where I just didn't feel their cover version was strong, either due to the song or the performance. These two albums are solid through and through, in my opinion.

One thing I really like about their covers is that they're willing to play the songs they love no matter how uncool they are. They do versions of songs by Madonna, Whitney Houston, Paula Abdul, Kenny Rogers, and the like, as well as the usual classic rock suspects. I may not like all of the original material, but their covers all sound good, and fun.

01 Hit Me with Your Best Shot (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
02 Days like This (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
03 Stuck in the Middle with You (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
04 Band on the Run (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
05 Take the Money and Run (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
06 Lido Shuffle (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
07 Danny's Song (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
08 I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
09 One Toke Over the Line (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
10 I Can Get Off on You (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
11 Bird Song (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
12 Mr. Saturday Night (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
13 Picture Book (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)

The cover art is a photo of the band getting ready to record another video inside their van.

Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers - The Van Sessions, Part 1 (2011-2012)

First off, I want to say that this post (and the next one) is 100% due to a post by Uncle Dan some months back at his alternate albums website "What-If." I'd never heard of Nicky Bluhm and the Gramblers until I saw an album of their stuff that he posted. He stated that he got hooked by watching their video of their cover of Hall and Oates' "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)." So I went to YouTube and watched the video, and I got hooked too.

I recommend you check out that video too. It has over four million views, and with good reason, because it's lots of fun. Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers were a band that unfortunately broke up in 2016. But while they were still around, they liked to record videos of themselves playing cover songs while driving down the highway in their van. Amazingly, Bluhm was both the lead singer and sometimes kazoo player while driving the van during the videos!

But it's not just a gimmick of playing songs while driving. They were a really good band, and Bluhm is a talented singer. There's something about her slightly rough voice and singing style that I think makes her special. Having to play in a moving vehicle forced them to play all acoustic, and I have particular love for acoustic music. Their cover of "I Can't Go for That" is a good place to start, because it's done so well. They seriously should have released that and had a big hit with it. But all their other songs are done really well too.

I started by downloading Uncle Dan's compilation album of their "Van Sessions" cover songs, which you can find here:

That's good stuff. But there were two things I wanted to change. The first is the loud hiss that can be heard on many of the songs. This is no fault of Uncle Dan's; it's due to how the videos were recorded in a van driving down the highway. For instance, one can hear the sound of passing cars creating extra loud hiss from time to time. But it was too much hiss for me.

So I experimented with using noise reduction in the musical editing program Audacity. Normally, I'm loathe to use noise reduction, because it's like a carpet bombing instead of a surgical strike, messing with the overall sound of the song. But if there ever was a valid time to use noise reduction, this is it. Hissing that was so loud it pretty much made songs unlistenable could be drastically reduced with only a minor cost to the rest of the sound of the song. There were some songs of theirs where I tried noise reduction, but it wasn't effective unless I did it at such a high level that it ruined the whole song. So I've left those songs out. Luckily, there were only a handful of those.

The second thing I wanted to change was the song list. There were some songs on Uncle Dan's album that I didn't like that much. But I checked out the band's YouTube videos, and I found other songs they did. I wound up with enough music for two albums about 50 minutes long each. Here's the first one. The second one will follow directly after this one.

01 Hey Baby (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
02 Ramblin' Man (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
03 You re No Good (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
04 Everyday (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
05 Material Girl (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
06 Don t Worry, Be Happy (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
07 Deal (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
08 Forever Your Girl (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
09 I'm Your Woman (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
10 Here Comes the Sun (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
11 Islands in the Stream (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
12 I Can t Go for That [No Can Do] (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
13 Easy (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)
14 Faith (Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers)

For the cover art, I created a screenshot from the video of the band singing "I Can't Go for That" in their van.

Los Lobos - Live Classic Rock Cover Versions (1994-2000)

Before I post any more albums of studio stray tracks by Los Lobos, I want to post this album. I made it because I noticed a big number of classic rock songs played live by the band in the 1990s. There were so many from 1994 to 2000 that I decided to put them all together on an album. And it's an extra long album compared to what I usually post, at an hour and five minutes.

One reason I like Los Lobos so much is because they take wildly disparate types of music, from Mexican folk to experimental art rock to classic rock, and blend them together to make their own style. This album shows clearly the classic rock artists that influenced them the most. Here is who the songs on this album are originally by, in order:

01 Tomorrow Never Knows - Beatles
02 Spanish Castle Magic - Jimi Hendrix
03 Bertha - Grateful Dead
04 Don't Keep Me Wondering - Allman Brothers
05 What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
06 Waiting in Vain - Bob Marley
07 One Way Out - Allman Brothers
08 Cinnamon Girl - Neil Young
09 Rattlesnake Shake - Dear Mr. Fantasy - Fleetwood Mac - Traffic
10 Down by the River - Neil Young
11 Natural Mystic - No More Trouble  - Bob Marley
12 Oye Como Va - Santana

Those are a lot of my favorite artists too. I'll probably post something by all of them by and by.

This is the only Los Lobos album I've made like this because although they've continued to play classic rock covers in concert since 2000, they're mostly this same bunch of songs. I haven't found nearly enough different cover songs after 2000 to make another album. (At least not yet.)

Note that I included Los Lobos doing a version of "Bertha" on a previous stray tracks album. But that was their studio version, and this is live. I also included them doing "What's Going On" on another previous stray tracks album. But that was also done in a studio (in front of a small audience). Plus, that was Los Lobos, while this is their closely related spin-off band Los Super Seven, with Sheryl Crow doing some of the singing, so I figured it was different enough to be interesting.

By the way, Los Lobos has freely allowed tapers at their concerts for many years, so that means there are a lot of high quality bootlegs of them. That in turn means the sound quality here is typically excellent for live recordings. Three of the songs here are officially released and the rest come from bootlegs, but you can't tell which is which from the sound quality.

01 Tomorrow Never Knows (Los Lobos)
02 Spanish Castle Magic (Los Lobos)
03 Bertha (Los Lobos)
04 Don't Keep Me Wondering (Los Lobos)
05 What's Going On (Los Super Seven & Sheryl Crow)
06 Waiting in Vain (Los Lobos)
07 One Way Out (Los Lobos)
08 Cinnamon Girl (Los Lobos)
09 Rattlesnake Shake - Dear Mr. Fantasy (Los Lobos)
10 Down by the River (Los Lobos)
11 Natural Mystic - No More Trouble (Los Lobos)
12 Oye Como Va (Los Lobos)

I'm really happy at how the cover art worked out. I found a concert poster of Los Lobos playing the Fillmore in San Francisco in 1998. It depicts a giant scorpion attacking San Francisco. All I did was crop it to fit the square space, then change the text on the green billboard.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Paul Weller - Ghosts - Non-Album Acoustic Tracks (2015-2018)

I've posted a ton of Paul Weller albums, but I'm finally getting to the end of the road as I reach close to the present day. This one covers just acoustic performances from 2015 to 2018. I've got one more album after this which deals with full band material from roughly the same time period.

Only one song here is officially released, "The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe." I was able to include it because it comes from the soundtrack to the movie "Jawbone" instead of one of his studio albums. Most of the rest of the songs are acoustic versions of songs from his albums of the time period. There are a couple of exceptions: "Have You Ever Had It Blue" is a version of one of his Style Council songs, "Ghosts" is a version of one of his Jam songs, and "I've Never Found a Girl (Who Loves Me like You Do)"is a cover of a 1960s hit from soul musician Eddie Floyd.

As I write this, Weller's most recent studio album is 2018's "True Meanings." That generally has an acoustic sound, but usually with other instruments added, especially strings. The last two songs here are songs from that album, but these are unreleased studio versions that are strictly acoustic. If you haven't heard that album, you should. It's one of his best in a long time.

01 Dusk Til Dawn (Paul Weller)
02 Going My Way (Paul Weller)
03 Ghosts (Paul Weller)
04 Have You Ever Had It Blue (Paul Weller)
05 I'm Where I Should Be (Paul Weller)
06 These City Streets (Paul Weller)
07 Aspects (Paul Weller with Robert Wyatt)
08 The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe (Paul Weller)
09 Long Long Road (Paul Weller)
10 I've Never Found a Girl [Who Loves Me like You Do] (Paul Weller)
11 Glide (Paul Weller)
12 Gravity (Paul Weller)

For the album cover, I used a photo of Weller in concert in 2018.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Robyn Hitchcock - Moss Elixir - Acoustic Versions (1996)

I still have a zillion Robyn Hitchcock albums to post, so here's the next one. It boggles my mind that I've posted 26 of his solo albums so far (not to mention his Soft Boys, and I've only made it about halfway through his solo career, while he continues to put out more new music every year! And those are all albums I've compiled, on top of the many studio albums he put out during that time period!

In 1996, Hitchcock released the mostly acoustic album "Moss Elixir." But while it generally had an acoustic sound, there were bass and drums and other instruments on nearly all of the songs. So this is the pure acoustic version, featuring just Hitchcock and his acoustic guitar.

As usual, I took the recordings from concert bootlegs, with the audience noise removed. Generally speaking, the sound quality is excellent. All the performances are unreleased, except for "I Am Not Me," which comes from the archival box set "Bad Case of History." But five of the other performances are studio demos that somehow leaked out, and a couple more come from in-person radio performances. Most or all of the three remaining songs come from soundboard bootlegs.

I recently posted my version of the album "Mossy Liquor," which essentially are the 1996 leftovers from the "Moss Elixir" sessions. For this album, I was able to find acoustic versions of all 12 songs on "Moss Elixir," plus two of the songs from "Mossy Liquor."

01 Sinister but She Was Happy (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 The Devil's Radio (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Heliotrope (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 Alright, Yeah (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 Filthy Bird (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 The Speed of Things (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Beautiful Queen (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Man with a Woman's Shadow (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 I Am Not Me (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 De Chirico Street (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 You and Oblivion [Solo Electric Version] (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 This Is How It Feels (Robyn Hitchcock)
13 Shuffling Over the Flagstones [Instrumental] (Robyn Hitchcock)
14 Each of Her Silver Wands (Robyn Hitchcock)
15 Trilobite (Robyn Hitchcock)

I had a hard time figuring out a good cover for this album. I couldn't find anything from 1996. However, there's an interesting cover for the 1995 single "I Something You." It has no words on it other than Hitchcock's name. So I moved his name over to make room for the album title.

Buckingham Nicks - Circles in Time - Non-Album Tracks (1975)

As long as I'm posting the Buckingham Nicks concert that I just posted, I want to post something that's very closely related. You as a listener might want to download this, or that, or both.

As I mentioned in my post about that concert, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were in the middle of recording their second Buckingham Nicks studio album, but that never got finished. Apparently, they got the phone call inviting them to join Fleetwood Mac, so that took precedence. Then it seems all the recordings for that second album got lost and/or destroyed, which means we'll never get to hear what that second album would have sounded like.

So instead, I've come up with this, my attempt to recreate that second album as closely as I can. The song list largely overlaps with the songs played in the Tuscaloosa concert I just posted. However, it turns out there was another concert recorded just one day earlier, on January 28, 1975, at the Alabama State Fairgrounds in Birmingham, Alabama. Probably the same person recorded both shows, as the sound quality is excellent for both. Only part of that concert has made it onto bootleg.

I've used performances from that concert whenever possible in order to reduce duplication. The result is that only four of the same performances are on this album and the full Tuscaloosa concert I posted. I also removed all audience noise and talking between songs. Since the sound quality is excellent, I think this sounds like studio recordings and not a concert.

I didn't include any songs from the 1973 Buckingham Nicks album, which eliminates tunes like "Crystal" (which would also appear on the 1975 "Fleetwood Mac" album), "Don't Let Me Down Again," "Frozen Love," and "Long Distance Winner." Three of the songs I have included would be done by Fleetwood Mac for their 1975 album ("Monday Morning," "Blue Letter," and "Rhiannon"), and one more would make it on their 1977 album "Rumours" ("I Don't Want to Know").

I think it's very interesting to hear Buckingham Nicks versions of those songs. This would-be album should have been a big seller just from the inclusion of all time classics like "Monday Morning" and "Rhiannon."

But I think what's most interesting are the inclusion of good songs that got lost and forgotten as the duo joined Fleetwood Mac. "Sorcerer" is one of the best Buckingham Nicks songs, in my opinion, and it's strange that it never got released in the 1970s. Nicks revived it decades later, and it was popular enough to make it onto one of her solo greatest hits albums. It also was recorded around 1973 as an unreleased acoustic demo which I included on the Buckingham Nicks album called the "Coffee Plant Demos." But two other songs here, "Farewell Failure" and "Heartbreaker (Circles in Time)" are also really good original songs that seem to have totally disappeared except for their appearance on the two Buckingham Nicks concert bootlegs from January 1975.

I added one song to the end of this album, "After the Glitter Fades," that is technically a Stevie Nicks recording instead of a Buckingham Nicks one. That's because the song was included on her first solo album, "Bella Donna," in 1971, but this unreleased demo recording dates from around 1975, if not earlier. Furthermore, according to interviews, Nicks says the song was written in 1974, or maybe 1973. So I think the odds are very good that it would have been included on a second Buckingham Nicks album.

If anyone knows the names of the two short guitar instrumentals here, please let me know so I can update the song list. I titled one of them "Little Guitar Thing" only because Buckingham said right before starting the song that he was going to "play a little guitar thing."

01 Monday Morning (Buckingham Nicks)
02 Farewell Failure (Buckingham Nicks)
03 Sorcerer (Buckingham Nicks)
04 You Won't Forget Me (Buckingham Nicks)
05 Blue Letter (Buckingham Nicks)
06 Rhiannon (Buckingham Nicks)
07 Guitar Instrumental (Buckingham Nicks)
08 Heartbreaker [Circles in Time] (Buckingham Nicks)
09 I Don't Want to Know (Buckingham Nicks)
10 Little Guitar Thing [Instrumental] (Buckingham Nicks)
11 After the Glitter Fades (Stevie Nicks)

The cover is a photo of Buckingham and Nicks on stage back when they were a duo, around 1974.

Buckingham Nicks - Morgan Auditorium, Tuscaloosa, AL, 1-29-1975

Since I just posted what Fleetwood Mac was up to in late 1974, I think it's fitting to also post what was happening with Buckingham Nicks just a couple of months later.

By the time this concert took place, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks had already joined Fleetwood Mac, but they had a few last concert obligations to fulfill. That was a lucky thing, because it was only their last few shows that got decently recorded. In fact, this show took place on January 29, 1975, and their last show as a duo was two days later, on January 31st.

If you want to know more about this concert, there's a really good newspaper article about it from 2018, surprisingly enough:

So I won't say much more, since that article says it so well. But I'll note that the sound quality is very good. Also, Buckingham Nicks' only album was released in 1973, and they planned to record a second one. But that was never finished, and most of those songs went on Fleetwood Mac's self-titled 1975 album, with one of them ("I Don't Want to Know") making it on 1977's "Rumours." Recording for that 1975 Fleetwood Mac album began just days after these last concerts. So this is a really interesting look at a pivotal moment in the musical careers for Buckingham and Nicks.

I'm very surprised that this concert recording doesn't get around more as a bootleg, because the performance is excellent and so is the sound quality. I suspect it's because it's under the name "Buckingham Nicks" instead of "Fleetwood Mac."

01 Lola [My Love] (Buckingham Nicks)
02 talk (Buckingham Nicks)
03 Monday Morning (Buckingham Nicks)
04 I Don't Want to Know (Buckingham Nicks)
05 talk (Buckingham Nicks)
06 Little Guitar Thing [Instrumental] (Buckingham Nicks)
07 Races Are Run (Buckingham Nicks)
08 Rhiannon (Buckingham Nicks)
09 Long Distance Winner (Buckingham Nicks)
10 Django - Sorcerer (Buckingham Nicks)
11 talk (Buckingham Nicks)
12 You Won't Forget Me (Buckingham Nicks)
13 Blue Letter (Buckingham Nicks)
14 Heartbreaker [Circles in Time] (Buckingham Nicks)
15 Don't Let Me Down Again (Buckingham Nicks)
16 talk (Buckingham Nicks)
17 Frozen Love (Buckingham Nicks)
18 Crystal (Buckingham Nicks)

The photo for the cover is of the band playing at the University of Alabama within days of the concert this music is from. It comes from a university yearbook, and I found it because it was reprinted in a news article. Since it was in black and white, I tinted it with some color to make it more interesting.

Fleetwood Mac - WLIR Tuesday Night Ultrasonic Concert Series, Ultrasonic Recording Studios, Hempstead, NY, 10-8-1974

I've wanted to post something from the 1972 to 1974 Bob Welch-led era of Fleetwood Mac, that mostly forgotten time between the end of the Peter Green-led blues years and the start of the Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham dominated pop rock years.

Unfortunately, there just isn't much to post. For instance, I can't do a stray tracks album since pretty much zero stray tracks have been made public. In fact, because Fleetwood Mac went way down in popularity at this time, even the number of good bootlegs is very small.

Luckily, there is this one concert as an exception. It comes right at the end of that era (a month or two before Welsh left and Nicks and Buckingham joined), and it's a really nice concert. Because it was recorded in a recording studio (though with an audience) it has excellent sound quality. I think it shows this version of the band is very underrated.

By the way, keep in mind that Christine McVie is in the band through this whole time period. She already was doing the pop rock thing that would explode in popularity in 1975 and after. I think some of her songs here would be huge hits if they would have been included on the "Rumours" album a few years later instead.

01 The Green Manalishi [With the Two Prong Crown] (Fleetwood Mac)
02 Spare Me a Little of Your Love (Fleetwood Mac)
03 Sentimental Lady (Fleetwood Mac)
04 Future Games (Fleetwood Mac)
05 Bermuda Triangle (Fleetwood Mac)
06 Why (Fleetwood Mac)
07 Angel (Fleetwood Mac)
08 Homeward Bound (Fleetwood Mac)
09 Rattlesnake Shake (Fleetwood Mac)
10 Hypnotized (Fleetwood Mac)
11 Black Magic Woman (Fleetwood Mac)
12 Mystery to Me (Fleetwood Mac)
13 Believe Me (Fleetwood Mac)
14 Oh Well, Part 1 (Fleetwood Mac)

For the album cover, I found some cover art from a popular bootleg of the show, using actual photos from the show. The front cover of this bootleg just had a photo of one of the band members (Bob Welch), so I used the back cover instead, and added the text from the front to the middle of it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Beatnix - It's Four You (1998)

I'm a huge fan of the Beatles. They're my favorite musical artist, by far. So I think it's a tragedy that there are a bunch of songs they wrote in the 1960s that they never properly recorded.

Luckily, there have been several different musical attempts to rectify this. The most famous is the 2003 album "Lost Songs of Lennon and McCartney." A group of musicians led by Graham Parker and Kate Pierson (of the B-52's) perform 17 of the songs that the Beatles gave to other artists.

I like that one, but my favorite album along those lines is this one, "It's Four You," by the Beatnix. They're an Australian band that's existed since 1980 and does nothing but Beatles covers. Apparently, they're still going strong as a Beatles tribute band. What I like about this album is that they try to do the songs as close to the Beatles style as they can manage. So it's a bit like discovering a lost Beatles album (the vast majority of it in their early style). It's long out of print and goes for big bucks on eBay, so I think it's okay to post it here.

Regarding the songs, John Lennon and Paul McCartney liked giving some of their songs to other artists for various reasons. Generally speaking, they wanted to help other struggling artists make it. For instance, McCartney was seriously romantically involved with a woman named Jane Asher for a few years, and her brother Peter Asher was part of the vocal duo Peter and Gordon. Plus, they were managed by Brian Epstein, who also managed the Beatles. So McCartney gave that duo the songs "A World Without Love," "Nobody I Know," "Woman," and "I Don't Want to See You Again." The first one was a number one hit, and the next two were top 20 hits. Other artists like Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas or Cilla Black or the Fourmost were also managed by Epstein, the same man who managed the Beatles, and they were given songs to help their careers too.

In a way, these songs were considered the Beatles' rejects, but that's not really the case. In my opinion, nearly all of them are really good songs, worthy of being on Beatles albums. Nearly all of them were hits, with the exceptions of "One and One Is Two," "I Don't Want to See You Again," "Tip of My Tongue," and "I'll Be on My Way." In fact, McCartney wondered if it was just the fact that the songs had "Lennon-McCartney" in the credits that made them hits, so he had the songwriting credit for "Woman" go to the pseudonym "Bernard Webb," and it was a hit anyway.

Out of the 19 Beatles songs on this album, a bunch of them actually were recorded by the Beatles at some point:
If You've Got Trouble
Hello Little Girl
Like Dreamers Do
Step Inside Love
I'll Be on My Way
Love of the Loved

In addition, either Lennon or McCartney made solo demos of these songs that have been officially released or widely bootlegged:
I'm in Love
One and One Is Two
Bad to Me

Furthermore, McCartney made demos of "It's for You" and "A World without Love," but only snippets of less than 30 seconds have been publicly released so far.

So that means 13 of the 19 Beatles songs here either were never done by the Beatles at all or were only done in a very different solo demo form. The odds are that hearing the Beatnix doing them in Beatles style is as close as we'll ever get to hearing the Beatles do these songs.

Note that there are at least another 20 songs the Beatles wrote between 1956 and 1962 that are even more obscure. Some of these include "I Lost My Little Girl," "You'll Be Mine," "In Spite of All the Danger," "Cayenne," "Cry for a Shadow," and "Thinking of Linking." There are still other songs the Beatles gave away or cowrote, such as "Come and Get It" (a big hit for Badfinger), "Catswalk," "Badge" (cowritten by George Harrision and done by Cream), "My Dark Hour" (cowritten by McCartney and done by the Steve Miller Band), and others. On top of that, there are still more songs written after 1962 but never released, such as "Carnival of Light," "Etcetera," "Watching Rainbows," and so on.

By the way, I've added one extra bonus song. As far as I know, the only album the Beatnix ever recorded was this one, but they have one other song that's been officially released. It's a version of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," but it's done in the style of the Beatles circa 1963! It's quite amusing. This was part of a 1992 project in Australia by a wide variety of musicians to record "Stairway to Heaven" in vastly different styles. An album was made of it called "The Money or the Gun: Stairways to Heaven," and this extra song comes from that. The whole album is amusing and entertaining, though extremely obscure.

01 I'm in Love (Beatnix)
02 Nobody I Know (Beatnix)
03 If You've Got Trouble (Beatnix)
04 It's for You (Beatnix)
05 Hello Little Girl (Beatnix)
06 Like Dreamers Do (Beatnix)
07 Step Inside Love (Beatnix)
08 Woman (Beatnix)
09 That Means a Lot (Beatnix)
10 I Don't Want to See You Again (Beatnix)
11 One and One Is Two (Beatnix)
12 Bad to Me (Beatnix)
13 Tip of My Tongue (Beatnix)
14 I'll Be on My Way (Beatnix)
15 A World without Love (Beatnix)
16 From a Window (Beatnix)
17 I'll Keep You Satisfied (Beatnix)
18 Love of the Loved (Beatnix)
19 Goodbye (Beatnix)
20 Stairway to Heaven (Beatnix)

This cover is the exact cover of the album.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

David Bowie - Under Pressure - Non-Album Tracks (1977-1982)

This album continues the Bowie stray tracks album series. But unlike in the early 1970s, when there was need for such an album every year or two, this album covers six years. Bowie put out some of the best albums of his career during that time, but there just don't seem to be as many non-album tracks as before, at least ones that have reached the public.

Furthermore, it's speculated that some of these many not fully date from this time period. What I mean is that "All Saints," "Some Are," "Abdulmajid," and "I Pray Ole" were all first released in the late 1990s as bonus tracks to late 1970s albums, and it's known that at least some overdubs were added at that time, but just how much is unclear. The very name of the song "Abdulmajid" is curious, since that the name of a woman Bowie was romantically involved with in the late 1990s (Iman, a.k.a. Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid), who he hadn't met yet in the 1970s. So it's similar to what the Rolling Stones did with some songs on their "Some Girls" and "Exile On Main St." deluxe versions, with some amount of long-after-the-fact tinkering. Anyway, they're good songs and at least the basics of them were recorded in the right time period, so I've included them.

I wasn't sure whether to include some or all of three other songs here: "The Man Who Sold the World," "Space Oddity," and "Panic in Detroit." The songs were originally done by Bowie in 1971, 1969, and 1973 respectively. For some reason, he revisited all three with new versions around 1979. I decided they're different enough, and enough time had passed from the original versions, to include them. Feel free to delete them from your versions of this album if you feel they aren't interesting enough.

For those who don't know, Bowie did two versions of the song "Cat People," one for the soundtrack to the movie of the same name, and one for his "Let's Dance" album in 1983. They're very different versions, mainly because the soundtrack version is done at a significantly slower pace, making it last over a minute longer.

I think this is going to be the last Bowie stray tracks album I'm going to make. I really like the "Let's Dance" album, but there are no stray tracks around it that I know of. Not only after that, in my opinion, the quality of his songwriting took a steep dive. For the rest of his career, I like the occasional song here and there instead of loving pretty much everything he did.

That said, I still have a lot of Bowie music to post. I have a whole series of albums based on his BBC performances, for instance (a lot more than what's been officially released). But that'll have to wait for another day.

01 Madman (David Bowie & Marc Bolan)
02 All Saints [Instrumental] (David Bowie)
03 Some Are (David Bowie)
04 Peace on Earth - Little Drummer Boy (David Bowie & Bing Crosby)
05 Abdulmajid [Instrumental] (David Bowie)
06 I Pray, Ole (David Bowie)
07 The Man Who Sold the World [Live] (David Bowie)
08 Space Oddity [1979 Version] (David Bowie)
09 Panic in Detroit [1979 Version] (David Bowie)
10 Crystal Japan [Instrumental] (David Bowie)
11 Alabama Song [Whisky Bar] (David Bowie)
12 Under Pressure (Queen & David Bowie)
13 Cat People [Putting Out Fire] [Soundtrack Version] (David Bowie)

I based the album cover on the cover of the "Under Pressure" single. That was all black, with the words of the artist and song title written in big white letters. Since the song was a collaboration between Queen and Bowie, I removed Queen from the text and recentered Bowie's name. Then I added a 1983 photo of Bowie on top, to fill up the vast black space.