Friday, May 31, 2019

The Pretenders - I Got You Babe - Non-Album Tracks (1981-1985)

I've already posted one album of stray tracks from the Pretenders. I have many more to come. This one covers 1981 to 1985.

In 1981, the Pretenders were a "real" band, meaning it wasn't just Chrissie Hynde and a bunch of people backing her up. But in mid-1982, bassist Pete Farndon was kicked out of the band and died of a drug overdose a short time thereafter, then lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott also died of a drug overdose. The Pretenders were never really a real band after that. The first four songs on this album come from before the two deaths.

However, despite these losses, the band's 1984 album "Learning to Crawl" was a huge hit and is arguably the band's best album ever (or maybe tied with the debut album). This album basically covers the "Learning to Crawl" era, so it's pretty good too. Four of the songs are bonus tracks from that album.

Two of the songs are still officially unreleased, a medley of "Wild Thing" and "Whatcha Gonna Do about it," and "Room Full of Mirrors." The sound of these two live songs are pretty good, though I don't think they come from soundboard bootlegs. Note that a version of the Jimi Hendrix song "Room Full of Mirrors" would appear on the next Pretenders album "Get Close." But that album has some typical 1980s production issues, so I prefer the live version here.

The last song, "I Got You Babe," deserves a special mention because it was a hit in 1985. It's a duet between Chrissie Hynde and UB40, and it's a cover of a 1960s hit by Sonny and Cher. I think it's also the first commercially significant Hynde solo song. But on all future Pretenders stray tracks albums, there will be plenty of those, sometimes more than actual Pretenders songs. But I'll be mixing the two together, because there's so little difference between the Pretenders and Hynde solo.

This album is rather short at 35 minutes. There are a couple more songs I want to add to it, but they're very rare and I haven't found them yet. (One is a cover of "Day Tripper" from a 1981 concert and the other is a version of "The Last Ride" from a 1984 concert, which I think is the same song that would show up on a 2008 Pretenders album. If you have either of these, please let me know.)

01 [Your Love Keeps Lifting Me] Higher and Higher [Live] (Pretenders)
02 In the Sticks [Instrumental] (Pretenders)
03 Tequila (Pretenders)
04 Wild Thing - Whatcha Gonna Do about It [Live] (Pretenders)
05 Fast or Slow [The Law's the Law] (Pretenders)
06 Money [That's What I Want] [Live] (Pretenders)
07 Ramblin' Rob [Demo] (Pretenders)
08 Room Full of Mirrors [Live] (Pretenders)
09 I Got You Babe (UB40 & Chrissie Hynde)

In searching for good album cover art, I came across a neat Pretenders concert T-shirt from 1984. I wanted to use that, but it was too blurry and low-res. However, I happened to find the exact black and white photo that was put on the shirt. So I've used that, and added "The Pretenders" in red, taking the letters directly from a photo of the T-shirt. Of course, I also had to add the album title.

Maria McKee - If Love Is a Red Dress - Non-Album Tracks (1994-1996)

It's been a long time since I've posted any Maria McKee music, but I definitely haven't forgotten her. So far, I've posted two albums of stray tracks and one album of acoustic versions. This is the next in the stray tracks series, covering 1994 to 1996. There will be a lot more to follow this, eventually.

I'm sure the most well known song on this album is the first one, "If Love Is a Red Dress," because it was featured in the movie "Pulp Fiction." Most of the remaining 11 songs are also officially released, with a bunch of them being B-sides. But four songs here are still unreleased. One is a studio outtake and the other three are from in-person radio station performances, so the sound of those are basically the same as studio recordings.

There's not much more to say except if you like McKee's music from the time period, you'll like this.

This album is 44 minutes long.

01 If Love Is a Red Dress [Hang Me in Rags] (Maria McKee)
02 Hold Me Up (Chris Lizotte & Maria McKee)
03 The Plague (Maria McKee)
04 Anathema (Maria McKee)
05 Her I Shred (Maria McKee)
06 I'm in Love with My Car (Maria McKee)
07 Magdelaine (Maria McKee)
08 Ribbons (Maria McKee)
09 Amnesia Blues (Maria McKee)
10 At Your Feet (Maria McKee)
11 One Hand, One Heart (Maria McKee)
12 If You Were Still Around (Maria McKee)

For the cover art, I used the cover of the "Breathe" single. I changed the text and colorized it from black and white to slightly red.

The Move - BBC Sessions, Volume 3, 1969

This is the third album I've posted of the Move's BBC performances. I really like how there happens to be one album's worth of music per calendar year.

As with the two previous albums, I think the really interesting thing here is the number and variety of cover songs. Five of the 13 BBC performances here are Move originals: "Something," "Beautiful Daughter," "Curly," "Hello Susie," and "Fields of People."

Here's a breakdown of who did the originals for the rest:

The Birthday - Idle Race
Goin' Out of My Head - Little Anthony and the Imperials
Evil Woman - Crow
The Sound of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel
Abraham, Martin and John - Dion
Open My Eyes - Nazz
Walk Right Back - Everly Brothers

Once again, it's notable that not only did they seem more interested in playing covers than their own songs, they sometimes played fairly recent hits by their competitors. For instance, "Evil Woman" was a hit by Crow when the Move played it at the BBC. I applaud their approach of playing whatever good songs they liked, even if that didn't help them sell their latest records.

I've added two bonus tracks of sorts at the end that actually aren't BBC performances at all, but I didn't have a better place to stick them. On the 1968 BBC collection, I included three songs recorded by Ace Kefford, who was bassist for the Move until he had to leave in mid-1968 due to mental issues. Those three songs were recorded in 1968 for a solo album that never got released at the time. Here are two more that he recorded in 1969 and also didn't get released until decades later. I think they would have made solid Move songs.

Two songs, a cover of "Good Times" by the Easybeats and a cover of "Rock and Roll Woman" by the Buffalo Springfield, come from a bootleg. Originally, I didn't think they were even worry of inclusion as bonus tracks. However, I did some editing, such as patching in a chorus from one part of the song to help with a chorus in a rougher sounding part of the song. Then I got my musical associate MZ to work on them. He managed to make them a little bit clearer. So at least now they're listenable, but still rough.

This album is 41 minutes long, not including the bonus tracks.

01 The Birthday (Move)
02 Beautiful Daughter (Move)
03 Goin' Out of My Head (Move)
04 Evil Woman (Move)
05 Curly (Move)
06 The Sound of Silence (Move)
07 Abraham, Martin and John (Move)
08 Open My Eyes (Move)
09 Hello Susie (Move)
10 Fields of People (Move)
11 Walk Right Back (Move)
12 Gravy Booby Jamm (Ace Kefford Stand)
13 This World's an Apple (Ace Kefford & Big Bertha)

Good Times [Edit] (Move)
Rock and Roll Woman [Edit] (Move)

For the cover art, I'm glad to say that I found an actual photo of the Move performing for the BBC in 1969. This comes from an appearance on the BBC TV show "Colour Me Pop."

Eric Clapton - Misty Roses - Non-Album Tracks (1975)

In 1974, Eric Clapton started his solo career for real, after a brief attempt in 1970. He played so many non-album songs that year, in the studio and on stage, that I had to make two albums to catch them all. By 1975, things settled down a bit. But there's still enough for a satisfying single album of stray tracks.

The first two songs here are the A- and B-side of a single, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." It didn't do very well (barely scraping into the bottom of the top 40 in Britain and not charting at all in the US), probably because Bob Dylan's version of his own song was very well known from just two years earlier. Three more songs here are studio outtakes that were later released on the "Crossroads" box set.

The other four songs are still officially unreleased. Two more of them are studio outtakes. The remaining two are from concert bootlegs.

Not surprisingly, most of the songs here are based in the blues. However, two of the studio outtakes are collaborations with reggae star Peter Tosh. That makes sense, considering Clapton had a number one hit with a reggae song ("I Shot the Sheriff") the year before. And one other song is a version of "Misty Roses," a folky song by Tim Hardin.

All in all, this is a solid collection of songs. It's not great, but I think it stands up fairly well with the studio album he released that year, "There's One in Every Crowd."

01 Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Eric Clapton)
02 Someone like You (Eric Clapton)
03 Milk Cow Blues - When You've Got a Good Friend (Eric Clapton)
04 I Found a Love (Eric Clapton)
05 What'cha Gonna Do (Eric Clapton with Peter Tosh)
06 As Years Go Passing By (Eric Clapton)
07 Burial (Eric Clapton with Peter Tosh)
08 Misty Roses (Eric Clapton)
09 It Hurts Me Too (Eric Clapton)

For the cover art, I've used a photo of Clapton playing in the studio in 1975. It's a bit blurry, but I think it's worth using because it's very rare to find any good photos of Clapton in the studio in the 1970s.

Dusty Springfield - OoooooWeeee!!! - Alternate Version (1965)

As I've explained in other posts recently, Dusty Springfield's discography is very confusing for the first couple of years of her solo career, due to the haphazard way her songs were released. In short, the American and British albums were generally totally different, and some songs were released in the US and not Britain, and vice versa.

I'm considering her British albums the ones to get. So, if you want all of her 1965 studio recordings, you need to do two things. One, get her British album "Ev'rything's Coming Up Dusty." I'm not posting that here because it's fine as it is. Two, get this collection of stray tracks. I'm calling it "OoooooWeeee!!!" because that was the title of an American album in 1965 that gathered up many of her stray tracks. But this goes beyond that, and adds the rest of her stray tracks from that year.

By chance, this album ends up being very similar to her "Ev'rything's Coming Up Dusty." Both are 36 minutes long, and have 13 songs each. Both have some hit songs mixed in with lesser known album tracks. I'd say both are very comparable in terms of musical quality.

01 Some of Your Lovin' (Dusty Springfield)
02 Needle in a Haystack (Dusty Springfield)
03 Here She Comes (Dusty Springfield)
04 Now that You're My Baby (Dusty Springfield)
05 If Wishes Could Be Kisses (Dusty Springfield)
06 I'll Love You for a While (Dusty Springfield)
07 I Wanna Make You Happy (Dusty Springfield)
08 Your Hurtin' Kind of Love (Dusty Springfield)
09 I Want Your Love Tonight (Dusty Springfield)
10 Go Ahead On (Dusty Springfield)
11 I Will Always Want You (Dusty Springfield)
12 In the Middle of Nowhere (Dusty Springfield)
13 Heartbeat (Dusty Springfield)

For the cover art, I used the cover to the US album "OoooooWeeee!!!" However, there was a problem in that all the song titles were listed on the cover, and the song list here is very different. Luckily, the song list was in an unimportant background area (below the word "Dusty" and behind her head), so I airbrushed the words away.

The Hollies - Live - Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden, 12-12-1966

The Hollies don't get much respect. True, they were embarrassingly square, but they consistently made great pop music for many years.

One aspect of them not getting respect is that their live performances are very poorly documented. They didn't release a live album of any kind until the mid-1975, by which time they were well past their peak. They do have some officially released live music from 1968, as part of a box set, which I turned into an album, here:

But it would be nice to have more than that, especially from something even earlier, when they were arguably at their commercial and creative peak around 1966 and 1967. There are virtually no Hollies bootlegs, at least not from the 1960s. But luckily, it turns out there are just enough high quality live recordings to make up an album, though it's a short one.

The bulk of this album comes from a concert the Hollies did at the Konserthuset in Stockholm, Sweden, in late 1966. I've recently posted a Traffic concert recorded at the Konserhuset, and noted a lot of bands have excellent sounding recordings from there during this time period. It turns out that's because shows there were regularly recorded for a Swedish radio show.

I could only find seven songs the Hollies did at that concert. Three of them have been officially released as bonus tracks, and the other four are from a bootleg. But the sound is nearly as good for all seven. In addition to playing their expected hits, they do covers of "You Don't Know like I Know" and "Reach Out, I'll Be There," which they never officially recorded.

To flesh out the album a little more, I found two more songs performed around the same time for a German TV show called "Beat Club," and two other songs played for a different German TV show, "Beat Beat Beat." As luck would have it, there are no repeats between any of the songs played in Sweden or on the two German shows. (And all of these performances are definitely live and not mimed.)

The album is only 31 minutes long, but this is a case of quality over quantity. All the songs here sound just as good as the lucky three that got chosen for official release as bonus tracks. The Hollies were as square as a cardboard box, but they were a very tight group when they played live, and the proof can be heard here.

UPDATE: On March 14, 2023, I updated the mp3 download file. A commenter sent me a version of the Stockholm that had one song that I'd missed, "What's Wrong with the Way I Live." It also had some banter between songs I didn't have. However, my version had slightly better sound quality. So I combined the best versions from both.

01 I Can't Let Go (Hollies)
02 You Don't Know like I Know (Hollies)
03 talk (Hollies)
04 The Times They Are A-Changin' (Hollies)
05 talk (Hollies)
06 What's Wrong with the Way I Live (Hollies)
07 talk (Hollies)
08 Reach Out, I'll Be There (Hollies)
09 Too Much Monkey Business (Hollies)
10 talk (Hollies)
11 Stop, Stop, Stop (Hollies)
12 Look through Any Window (Hollies)
13 Very Last Day (Hollies)
14 Bus Stop (Hollies)
15 On a Carousel (Hollies)

For the cover art, I found a photo of the Hollies playing at Wembley Studios in London in 1966, performing for some kind of TV show.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Richard Thompson - Live, Love, Larf & Loaf (with French, Frith, & Kaiser) - Alternate Version (1987)

The next in my series of Richard Thompson albums is a strange one. In 1987, he linked up with John French, Fred Frith, and Henry Kaiser to form "French Frith Kaiser Thompson," a collaboration dubbed "the world's most obscure supergroup." They put out two albums, this one ("Live, Love, Lard and Loaf") in 1987, and one in 1990 ("Invisible Means"). They played in a variety of styles, but the generally had an avant-garde and experimental approach. All four musicians contributed with their own songs and vocals, making this a truly collaborative band.

Now, I hate if this sounds harsh, but Richard Thompson is one of the greatest musicians of all time, and the other three are not. Furthermore, the music of the other three isn't my cup of tea. So when it comes to the band "French Frith Kaiser Thompson" I'm pretty much exclusively interested in the musical contributions of Thompson. Luckily, the album is rather long, and I found a couple more songs to add. Thus I was able to make an album just of the songs on "Live, Love, Lard and Loaf" that are written and/or song by Thompson.

Out of the 12 songs on the original version of "Live, Love, Lard and Loaf," four were written or co-written by Thompson, and also sung by him. He also sings on the medley "Bird in God's Garden - Lost and Found" even though he didn't write any of it. So that makes up 25 minutes of music. That's short for a typical album.

But luckily, I found two more songs to add, which were done live by French Frith Kaiser Thompson in 1987. One, "Madness of Love," is mostly sung by someone else in the band (though Thompson can be heard on some vocals, and guitar). However, I decided to include it because it's a very rare song written by Thompson that he only played live a few times in 1977 and never officially released. The other added song is a version of the Rolling Stones' hit "Play with Fire," sung by Thompson and turned into a ten-minute long guitar solo workout.

If you add it all up, you get a 42 minute long album that would have been a very solid Richard Thompson solo album if he'd decided to go that route. Although the band is fairly experimental, on the Thompson songs, it pretty much sounds exactly like other Thompson songs from the era. If you're a fan of everyone in French Frith Kaiser Thompson, then more power to you, and this album is not for you. But if you're like me and especially interested in Thompson's music, you should be just as interested in this version of the album as any of his other albums from the era.

By the way, I plan on posting a Thompson-focused version of the 1990 French Frith Kaiser Thompson album too.

01 Killerman Gold Posse (French, Frith, Kaiser & Thompson)
02 Drowned Dog Black Night (French, Frith, Kaiser & Thompson)
03 A Blind Step Away (French, Frith, Kaiser & Thompson)
04 Tir-Nan-Darag (French, Frith, Kaiser & Thompson)
05 Bird in God's Garden - Lost and Found (French, Frith, Kaiser & Thompson)
06 Madness of Love (French, Frith, Kaiser & Thompson)
07 Play with Fire (French, Frith, Kaiser & Thompson)

There appear to be two totally different versions of the cover art for the official album. I chose one of them and didn't make any changes.

Lucinda Williams - McCabe's Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, CA, August 9, 1991

So far, I've generally avoided posting entire concerts here. I've got a lot of good ones to post, but there are lots of other websites that do that, and I'm trying to prioritize getting out my many stray tracks collections first. But I was listening to this concert today, and decided to post it anyway.

This is a great concert for several reasons. One, it's acoustic, and I love acoustic music. Lucinda Williams plays an acoustic guitar, and is backed up only by someone else on a second guitar who does some backing vocals.

Two, it's a excellent sounding soundboard. The one problem with it is that Williams speaks very quietly when talking between songs. But I think this was just her shyness, not the recording, since she sounds just fine whenever singing. I've boosted the volume for all of her talking, but I could only do so much of that before it sounded too hissy, so they're still somewhat quiet.

Three, there are a great bunch of songs here. This concert happened in 1991, a year prior to the release of her classic "Sweet Old World" album. But it's as if it happened after that album was released, because she plays a majority of the songs from it. There also are lots of songs from her equally classic 1988 album "Lucinda Williams," plus a smattering of songs from even earlier in her career, and some covers (including ending the concert with songs done by the Rolling Stones, Nick Drake, and Bob Dylan).

Williams has only played acoustic concerts very rarely. So it's a treat to hear many songs from early in her career in acoustic format.

This album is an hour and 27 minutes long.

01 Crescent City (Lucinda Williams)
02 Big Red Sun Blues (Lucinda Williams)
03 Am I Too Blue (Lucinda Williams)
04 Prove My Love (Lucinda Williams)
05 Sidewalks of the City (Lucinda Williams)
06 Pineola (Lucinda Williams)
07 Side of the Road (Lucinda Williams)
08 talk (Lucinda Williams)
09 I Just Wanted to See You So Bad (Lucinda Williams)
10 Little Angel, Little Brother (Lucinda Williams)
11 Passionate Kisses (Lucinda Williams)
12 Sweet Old World (Lucinda Williams)
13 Six Blocks Away (Lucinda Williams)
14 Like a Rose (Lucinda Williams)
15 Something about What Happens When We Talk (Lucinda Williams)
16 Happy Woman Blues (Lucinda Williams)
17 Disgusted (Lucinda Williams)
18 Nothing in Rambling (Lucinda Williams)
19 talk (Lucinda Williams)
20 Hot Blood (Lucinda Williams)
21 Changed the Locks (Lucinda Williams)
22 talk (Lucinda Williams)
23 Stop Breaking Down (Lucinda Williams)
24 talk (Lucinda Williams)
25 Which Will (Lucinda Williams)
26 Positively 4th Street (Lucinda Williams)

For the cover art, I couldn't find any good photos of Williams in concert from 1991, so I've used one of her from 1992 instead.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Indigo Girls - Let Me Go Easy - Acoustic Versions (1998-2003)

I've said here previously that I enjoy the Indigo Girls' material in the 1980s and 1990s, but around the turn of the millennium I feel their songwriting hasn't maintained their previous high standards. I still believe that. That said, I think all the songs here are solid, or I wouldn't bother with them.

This is the fourth (and likely last) of my albums collecting acoustic versions of the best Indigo Girls songs. Of course, they had a acoustic song in general, but this strips them back to just their voices and acoustic guitars. As with the previous albums in this series, it uses unreleased recordings of in-person radio station appearances. That means the sound is pretty much studio quality.

In short, if you enjoyed the previous three albums in this series, you should enjoy this one too. I'm a pretty tough critic of latter-day Indigo Girls music, which means I only complied the songs I felt were really good, and not all the songs that fit the format.

Once again, thanks to the website, which collected all the performances used here and makes them easily available for anyone.

01 Gone Again (Indigo Girls)
02 Go (Indigo Girls)
03 Peace Tonight (Indigo Girls)
04 Cold Beer and Remote Control (Indigo Girls)
05 Ozilline (Indigo Girls)
06 Soon Be to Nothing (Indigo Girls)
07 Moment of Forgiveness (Indigo Girls)
08 Become You (Indigo Girls)
09 Our Deliverance (Indigo Girls)
10 Deconstruction (Indigo Girls)
11 Let Me Go Easy (Indigo Girls)

I really like the cover art I use here. I randomly stumbled across a photo of some stained glass, or at least what looks like stained glass, announcing a 2018 Indigo Girls concert. I removed some text and replaced it with my own text. I wish most album covers could look this classy.

Beck - Clap Hands - Non-Album Tracks (2005)

Beck had a very productive 2005. That year, he released the album "Guero" after not releasing any album since "Sea Change" in 2002. He also released an album of remixes of songs from that album, called "Guerolito." But he also had enough 2005 material to release an album of stray tracks too, which is exactly what this is.

In 2005, Beck began a habit of posting some of his songs he didn't intend to put on album at his website, Unfortunately, he only did this for a handful of songs in 2005 and 2006. But that makes up the first six songs of this album. Three of them are originals, while the other three are covers of Nick Drake songs. He later explained he wanted to learn Drake's songs to get inside them and learn what made them special, to help him with his own songwriting.

Personally, I think "Guero" is a strong album, but I'm not fond of "Guerolito." As a general rule, I don't think much of remixes - I almost always prefer the original version. That's how I feel with the "Guerolito" remixes too. But there's one exception, a remix of "Missing" that's interesting, and so different that it's given the name "Heaven Hammer." I also like the "Junior Senior" remix of the "Guero" song "Girl" that didn't make "Guerolito," so I've included that too.

The last three songs are "Guero" bonus tracks. Special note should be made of the song "Clap Hands." Personally, I think it's the best song he did in 2005, so it's a mystery to me that he only made it a bonus track. Beck seems to have liked the song a lot too, playing it in every show for the next two years, and even playing it on "Saturday Night Live." Sometimes, he played a "dinner table" version of the song that is best appreciated seen, not just heard. Basically, Beck sang the song while playing acoustic guitar, but the rest of his band sat at a dinner table and provided back-up by "playing" the dishes and silverware. Search for it on YouTube; it's a fun watch.

01 Untitled Song 2 (Beck)
02 Pink Moon (Beck)
03 Which Will (Beck)
04 Day for Night (Beck)
05 Sorrow (Beck)
06 Parasite (Beck)
07 Heaven Hammer [Missing] [Air Remix] (Beck)
08 Girl [Junior Senior Remix] (Beck)
09 Chain Reaction (Beck)
10 Send a Message to Her (Beck)
11 Clap Hands (Beck)

For the cover art, I used the cover of one version of Beck's 2005 "Hell Yes" single. I had to airbrush out a couple of things, then add in some text.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Dusty Springfield - Dusty - Alternate Version (1964)

Now that I've posted Dusty Springfield's 1964 album "A Girl Called Dusty," I want to post this, to kind of explain the method to my madness.

As I mentioned in my last post, Springfield's discography is confusing for her first couple of years, due to some songs being released only in the US and other songs being released only in Britain. In 1964, "A Girl Called Dusty" was the only album released in Britain, while the albums "Stay Awhile / I Only Want to Be with You" and "Dusty" were released in the US. "Stay Awhile / I Only Want to Be with You" draws heavily from "A Girl Called Dusty." But there's no British parallel to "Dusty." So this album is largely based on that, but with lots of additional songs added.

Basically, everything on this album comes from British A-sides, B-sides, and EP tracks. A bunch of them were put on the US version of "Dusty." Plus, there are two songs that were released on US albums, but never were released in Britain until when they were made bonus tracks decades later. At the time British record companies generally figured that if a song came out on a single or EP, it wasn't fair to have the consumer buy it again on album, whereas American record companies didn't care. Springfield was putting out so many songs on singles and EPs that there would be yet another American album gathering them up before she would release another British album.

In terms of musical content, this is solid stuff, because Springfield was generally saving her best material for her singles.

This album is 44 minutes long.

01 Stay Awhile (Dusty Springfield)
02 Something Special (Dusty Springfield)
03 All Cried Out (Dusty Springfield)
04 I Wish I'd Never Loved You (Dusty Springfield)
05 Can I Get a Witness (Dusty Springfield)
06 Summer Is Over (Dusty Springfield)
07 Don't Say It Baby (Dusty Springfield)
08 Guess Who (Dusty Springfield)
09 Live It Up (Dusty Springfield)
10 I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself (Dusty Springfield)
11 Every Day I Have to Cry (Dusty Springfield)
12 Standing in the Need of Love (Dusty Springfield)
13 He's Got Something (Dusty Springfield)
14 If It Hadn't Been for You (Dusty Springfield)
15 Losing You (Dusty Springfield)
16 O Holy Child (Dusty Springfield)

For the cover art, I wanted to use the cover of the "Dusty" album. But there was a problem, in that the photo of Springfield used on it was the exact same photo as the one on the cover of "A Girl Called Dusty," only cropped and sized differently. So instead, I found a different photo of her from 1964, then copied over the exact text and fonts and record company logos from the "Dusty" album.

Dusty Springfield - A Girl Called Dusty - Alternate Version (1964)

I've been posting Dusty Springfield albums in a seemingly random order, and that trend continues here. ;) My problem was that I wasn't sure how to organize the first couple of years of her career. But I've finally sorted that out, and I can post that stuff, starting with this, her first album.

Springfield's first few albums are a confusing mess to sort out, because not only where the American and British versions different, but there were songs only released in the US in the 1960s, and other songs only released in Britain in the 1960s. And later on, both American and British albums had unique bonus tracks added to them. Maybe the point was the get the consumer to buy albums from both countries, despite lots of overlap. I'm trying to fix that by treating the British albums seriously and using the US albums only as fodder for stray tracks.

I wasn't sure whether to post this particular album or not, because it doesn't actually differ that much from the British album "A Girl Called Dusty," which is included here in full. But I've added extra songs, and this time in her career is very confusing.

I've included "I Only Want to Be with You." That song was a number four hit in Britain and a top ten hit (or nearly so) in many other countries, including the US. Its success allowed her to have a prominent and successful solo career right from the get-go. I've also included its B-side, "Once upon a Time."

That's followed by all of the British" A Girl Called Dusty" album, in order.

The bonus tracks are my three favorite songs from the Springfields, the band Dusty Springfield was in before going solo. I could have added more, but the focus here is on her solo career, and I just wanted to include the bare minimum of Springfield songs to mark their place in her career. Plus, to be honest, I'm not that big of a fan of the Springfields ' music. I think Dusty was much better served singing solo than being part of a vocal harmony group.

This album is 37 minutes long, not including the bonus tracks.

01 I Only Want to Be with You (Dusty Springfield)
02 Once upon a Time (Dusty Springfield)
03 Mama Said (Dusty Springfield)
04 You Don't Own Me (Dusty Springfield)
05 Do Re Mi [Forget about the Do and Think about Me] (Dusty Springfield)
06 When the Lovelight Starts Shining through His Eyes (Dusty Springfield)
07 My Coloring Book (Dusty Springfield)
08 Mockingbird (Dusty Springfield)
09 Twenty-Four Hours from Tulsa (Dusty Springfield)
10 Nothing (Dusty Springfield)
11 Anyone Who Had a Heart (Dusty Springfield)
12 Will You Love Me Tomorrow (Dusty Springfield)
13 Wishin' and Hopin' (Dusty Springfield)
14 Don't You Know (Dusty Springfield)

Breakaway (Springfields)
Island of Dreams (Springfields)
Silver Threads and Golden Needles (Springfields)

The cover art is simply the cover of the "A Girl Called Dusty" album, unchanged.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Norah Jones - Sleepless Nights - Non-Album Tracks (2004-2005)

Once again, I'm impressed at how much better Norah Jones's stray tracks are compared to the songs on her official albums. The music is more spirited and varied. If you haven't this side to her career, what are you waiting for?

I've said it before and I'll probably say it again: I'm much more impressed with her sultry singing voice and general musical style than I am by her songwriting. On stray tracks albums like these, she excels by covering great songs. I haven't closely checked every song here, but all or nearly all of them are covers, and many are all-time classic songs.

There's not much else to say, except that the Foo Fighters collaboration sounds nothing like the Foo Fighters one hears on the radio. It's a cool song, but it has a bossa nova feel, of all things.

This album is 46 minutes long.

01 Sleepless Nights (Norah Jones)
02 Virginia Moon (Foo Fighters with Norah Jones)
03 She (Norah Jones)
04 Transport, Part 1 (Suphala with Norah Jones)
05 Any Other Day (Wyclef Jean & Norah Jones)
06 Dear John (Ryan Adams & Norah Jones)
07 We're All in This Thing Together (Norah Jones)
08 Home of the Blues (Norah Jones)
09 Guess Things Happen That Way (Kris Kristofferson & Norah Jones)
10 I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan & Norah Jones)
11 I Think It's Going to Rain Today (Norah Jones)
12 Tennessee Waltz (Bonnie Raitt & Norah Jones)

For the album cover, I found the cover I liked of an obscure live EP, apparently called "Norah Jones and the Handsome Band." It was something that was only released to radio stations in 2004, apparently. All I did was crop it, remove some text, and add the album title.

The Move - BBC Sessions, Volume 2, 1968

Here's more of the Move's many BBC sessions. Luckily, with the last album, I had just the right amount of music to make one album from all their 1967 BBC performances, and that's the case again with their 1968 ones.

Also like last time, what really surprises me here is the Move's willingness to perform then-recent hits by other bands. Many of their contemporary bands, such as Pink Floyd, wouldn't have been caught dead playing any cover versions at all, much less a bunch. But it seems the Move just enjoyed playing great songs and didn't get too hung up on where they came from. Four of the songs here are Move originals: "Fire Brigade," "Useless Information," "Wild Tiger Woman," and "Blackberry Way."

Here's where the others come from:
Weekend - Eddie Cochran
It'll Be Me -Jerry Lee Lewis
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher - Jackie Wilson
Piece of My Heart - Emma Franklin / Janis Joplin
Kentucky Woman - Neil Diamond
Long Black Veil - Lefty Frizzell / Band
Goin' Back - Byrds (and others)
California Girls - Beach Boys
The Christian Life - Louvin Brothers / Byrds
Something - Dave Morgan

The last three songs are kind of bonus tracks, in that they're not actually BBC performances. Ace Kefford was the Move's bass player from the beginning of the band's existence. However, it turned out he had bipolar disorder, which grew worse due to the use of drugs like LSD and the pressure of being a rock star. He left the band in mid-1968 after having a nervous breakdown. Then he tried to make a solo album, but he had further mental troubles, leaving the album unfinished. (What was completed was released in 2003.) I've included my three favorite songs from it, which I think are all written by him.

01 Fire Brigade (Move)
02 Weekend (Move)
03 It'll Be Me (Move)
04 Useless Information (Move)
05 [Your Love Keeps Lifting Me] Higher and Higher (Move)
06 Piece of My Heart (Move)
07 Kentucky Woman (Move)
08 Wild Tiger Woman (Move)
09 Long Black Veil (Move)
10 Goin' Back (Move)
11 Blackberry Way (Move)
12 California Girls (Move)
13 The Christian Life (Move)
14 Something (Move)
15 Step Out in the Night (Ace Kefford)
16 Trouble in the Air (Ace Kefford)
17 Daughter of the Sun (Ace Kefford)

The cover art uses a publicity photo of the Move from 1968, while Kefford was still in the band. (He's the blond in the front row.)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Traffic - Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden, 9-12-1967

I've already posted one Traffic album, a concert from 1970. But I plan on posting some more, including stray tracks collections and BBC performances. But first, here's a concert from 1967.

Traffic was together (with Dave Mason) from 1967 to 1968, then broke up for a year, before having a longer run, from 1970 to 1974 (without Dave Mason, except for a few concerts). There are lots of concert recordings from their second iteration, both official and bootleg, but almost none from their first iteration. Generally, the few bootlegs that exist from that time have poor sound. This concert from Stockholm, Sweden, is almost the only exception.

I'm not sure why, but I have a bunch of recordings in my music collection from the late 1960s recorded at the Konserthuset with unusually good sound quality for its time. Maybe there were a series of shows recorded for a Swedish TV or radio show? The only downside is that the concert is rather short, at about 41 minutes. But that probably was all they played that night, and the other Traffic setlists from 1967 are similarly short.

There's a popular bootleg of this show called "Traffic Jam." But I see no reason for that name, other than a play on words, so I'm skipping that.

01 Giving to You (Traffic)
02 Smiling Phases (Traffic)
03 Coloured Rain (Traffic)
04 Hole in My Shoe (Traffic)
05 Feelin' Good (Traffic)
06 Paper Sun (Traffic)
07 Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic)

It's very tough to find any good photos of Traffic in concert in 1967. I had to resort to using a photo from the cover of the official Traffic archival release "The Definitive Collection."

Bob Dylan - I Ain't Got No Home - Non-Album Tracks (1968-1969)

I must say, I'm fairly surprised I'm able to make this album of Bob Dylan's stray tracks in 1968 and 1969, because I didn't think he had enough non-album songs to make up a full album. But after some digging I came up with just enough for a short album, so here we go.

Dylan was an extremely prolific songwriter for most of the 1960s. But he later explained that songs used to come to him with ease, and then around 1968 they stopped coming, and he had to force himself to write more. You can see that lack of productivity by the fact that he pretty much didn't do anything in 1968. (The album "John Wesley Harding" was released at the very end of 1967.) His 1969 album, "Nashville Skyline," was only 27 minutes long.

So it's not surprising that most of the songs here are covers. The first three come from a very rare concert appearance he made in January 1968. His musical hero Woody Guthrie had died a few months earlier, and he played three of Guthrie's songs at a tribute concert.

The next song, "I'd Have You Anytime," is co-written and co-sung with George Harrison, in late 1968. A different version with just Harrison would go on Harrison's 1970 album "All Things Must Pass." Dylan and Harrison also wrote and played another song together at the same time, "Nowhere to Go," but the only publicly known recordings of them doing it sound horrible, so I didn't include that.

"Western Road," "Wanted Man," and "Running" are originals that didn't get released until archival albums decades later. "Wanted Man" was given to Johnny Cash at the time, and his version is fairly well known.

"(Now and Then There's) A Fool Such as I," "Living the Blues," and "Take Me as I Am (Or Let Me Go)" were released on the official albums "Self Portrait," released in 1970, and "Dylan," released in 1973. However, these particular songs were recorded in 1969. These two albums are some of the most criticized albums of his entire career. Personally, I think that criticism is justified, and there are only some good songs here and there on both of them. So I've taken the best and moved them to where they're more chronologically fitting. In 1969, Dylan's voice drastically changed. (I think of it as his "Lay, Lady, Lay" voice.) Then, in 1970, it changed again. So the few songs that made "Self Portrait" and "Dylan" that were recorded in 1969 belong with other songs he did from 1969.

"Good Old Mountain Dew" is a duet between Dylan and country legend Johnny Cash. Actually, they did a full album's worth of duets together, but only one duet, "Girl from the North Country," made it onto Dylan's "Nashville Skyline" album. I could have included more of their duets here, but frankly, a lot of them aren't that good. On many of them, they're just fumbling through songs, trying to find musical common ground. I picked what I considered the best and most realized performances. Weirdly, most of their duets have been officially released, but this one has not.

Finally, "Wild Mountain Thyme," comes from his 1969 concert at the Isle of Wight. I put a version of this song on an earlier Dylan stray tracks album, but that was him doing it in a duet with Joan Baez, and this is just Dylan alone. "Minstrel Boy" come from that concert too. It's a Dylan original, but note that a different version of it was also included on my "More Basement Tapes" collection from 1967.

01 I Ain't Got No Home (Bob Dylan & the Band)
02 Dear Mrs. Roosevelt (Bob Dylan & the Band)
03 Grand Coulee Dam (Bob Dylan & the Band)
04 I'd Have You Anytime (George Harrison & Bob Dylan)
05 Western Road (Bob Dylan)
06 Wanted Man (Bob Dylan)
07 Mountain Dew (Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash)
08 Running (Bob Dylan)
09 [Now and Then There's] A Fool Such as I (Bob Dylan)
10 Living the Blues (Bob Dylan)
11 Take Me as I Am [Or Let Me Go] (Bob Dylan)
12 Wild Mountain Thyme (Bob Dylan & the Band)
13 Minstrel Boy (Bob Dylan & the Band)

The cover art uses a photo of Dylan near his Woodstock home in 1968.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Midnight Oil - Species Deceases - Expanded Version (1984-1990)

This album follows a very similar pattern to the last Midnight Oil album I posted. With that one, the band released a four-song EP called "Bird Noises," and I expanded it to a full album. This time around, it's the 1985 EP called "Species Deceases." The four songs that make up that EP total 16 minutes. I'd added enough songs to turn it into a 42 minute-long album instead, while keeping the same name.

The "Species Deceases" EP was surprisingly successful for Midnight Oil. It went straight to the top of the singles chart in Australia and stayed their for six weeks. In fact, it was the only number one hit they ever had. All four songs got a lot of play on Australian radio, but probably the best known song is "Hercules." (By the way, that title refers to Hercules aircraft used by the US and British military, not the legendary Greek hero.)

So that's a strong start to make up an album, but really, all the songs here are excellent. The first song, "Sad Dark Eyes" is a studio outtake that surprisingly remains unreleased, even though the band put out a huge box set containing lots of rarities in 2017. "Blackfella-Whitefella" is a song by the Australian band Warumpi. This is a version jointly done by them and Midnight Oil while the two bands toured remote parts of the Australian outback in 1986.

Midnight Oil is known for almost never performing any covers, but "almost never" isn't the same as "never." Three more songs here are covers: "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding," "Know Your Product," and "Instant Karma."

This album covers the period of the band's greatest commercial success, including when the broke through in the US with "Beds Are Burning" and other great songs. I think they did so well because they were peaking creatively, and that extends to this collection of stray tracks.

01 Sad Dark Eyes (Midnight Oil)
02 Progress (Midnight Oil)
03 Hercules (Midnight Oil)
04 Blossom and Blood (Midnight Oil)
05 Pictures (Midnight Oil)
06 Blackfella-Whitefella (Midnight Oil & Warumpi)
07 [What's So Funny 'Bout] Peace, Love and Understanding (Midnight Oil)
08 You May Not Be Released (Midnight Oil)
09 Wreckery Road (Midnight Oil)
10 Love Life (Midnight Oil)
11 Know Your Product (Midnight Oil)
12 Instant Karma (Midnight Oil)

The cover art is simply the exact cover of the "Species Deceases" EP.

Sheryl Crow - Happy - Non-Album Tracks (1992-1993)

Let's talk about what's on the album. Maybe what's most surprising to me is what's NOT on it. In 1992, Crow had her very first solo album all ready to go. But her record company rejected it, and all the songs on it remain officially unreleased until this day. However, it has been bootlegged with fine sound quality. Unfortunately, I've listened to it and I can see why the record company rejected it, because it simply isn't very good. In fact, it's so lackluster that I'm amazed Crow managed to put out the excellent "Tuesday Night Music Club" hit album just one year later.

Even though this album ended up being rather short, I decided to only include a single song from her 1992 album, "All Kinds of People." However, another one of the songs from it, "Father's Son," shows up here in a live version. One problem with that album is the production, so the live version gets around that. It's telling to me that it seems to be the only song from that album that she's played in concert, and that she's never released the album or any of the songs from it. I'm guessing she realized that whole album was a misstep.

There's one other early song here, "Welcome to the Real Life," that weirdly seems to be an outtake from that 1992 album, yet is better than pretty much all the songs from the album. The rest of the songs date from her 1993 "Tuesday Night Music Club" era. Five songs are B-sides, and three of those are covers ("D'yer Mak'er," "I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday," and "All by Myself.") One other song is unreleased and from a concert, a cover of "Happy" by the Rolling Stones.

"Volvo Cowgirl 99" is kind of an alternate version of "The Na-Na Song," but it's so different that it sounds like a completely new song to me.

Crow's unreleased 1992 album has been widely bootlegged. Trust me, you're way better off with this instead of that.

01 Welcome to the Real Life (Sheryl Crow)
02 All Kinds of People (Sheryl Crow)
03 Happy (Sheryl Crow)
04 Father Sun (Sheryl Crow)
05 California (Sheryl Crow)
06 Mercy (Sheryl Crow)
07 Volvo Cowgirl 99 [Alternate Version of The Na-Na Song] (Sheryl Crow)
08 D'yer Mak'er (Sheryl Crow)
09 I'm Gonna Be a Wheel Someday (Sheryl Crow)
10 Reach Around Jerk (Sheryl Crow)
11 Burning (Sheryl Crow)
12 All by Myself (Sheryl Crow)

For the cover art, I used a publicity photo from 1993.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Robyn Hitchcock - Jewels for Sophia - Acoustic Versions (1999)

As always, I have more Robyn Hitchcock to post. I swear, I don't think I'm ever going to run out of albums of his to post here. He's incredibly prolific.

Hitchcock released the album "Jewels for Sophia" in 1999. It's one of my top five albums from him, for sure. This album has all-acoustic versions of the songs from that album. Happily, I was able to find acoustic versions for all of the songs from the album (with the partial exception of the bonus track "Mr. Tongs," which he has never played in concert). Since the album is so good, it goes without saying that the acoustic versions are good too.

The only possible issue would be sound quality. I'm glad to say that's very good as well. Nearly all of these are taken from soundboard bootlegs, and sound like they've been recorded in the studio. One exception is the song "Jewels for Sophia." The sound on that one is pretty good, but you can hear a little bit of audience chatter.

01 Mexican God (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 The Cheese Alarm (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Viva Sea-Tac (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 I Feel Beautiful (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 You've Got a Sweet Mouth on You, Baby (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 NASA Clapping (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Sally Was a Legend (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Antwoman (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Elizabeth Jade (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 No, I Don't Remember Guildford (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 Dark Princess (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 Jewels for Sophia (Robyn Hitchcock)

The album cover uses a painting done by Hitchcock. I don't know if it's been used by him on some album art already. If you've seen it elsewhere, please let me know and I'll replace it with something else. I also don't know what year it's from. To be honest, it has no connection to these songs whatsoever, but I like it and felt like using it here. ;)

Van Morrison - Live Rarities, Volume 4: 1974

Here's another in my series of Van Morrison's live rarities albums. As I've explained previously, I've posted lots of Morrison live albums in the late 1960s and 1970s, including entire concerts. I tried to select those in order to reduce the number of songs that overlapped from one album to another. But even after all that, there were some rare live performances that didn't show up on any of them, thus the need for this series.

All of these performances are officially unreleased. For whatever, reason, 1974 was one of the better years in terms of the quantity and quality of Morrison bootlegs. So, for the most parts, the songs here sound pretty good. But be warned that most of these are from audience bootlegs, not soundboards, and some of them sound a bit rough at times.

But I figure that's made up by the rarity of the performance. For instance, "Many Rivers to Cross" is one of the rougher recordings, with some talking of audience members heard here and there. But who would have ever expected Morrison to cover that song?! According to, he only played it twice in his entire career, both in 1974.

A few of the songs here are Morrison originals that he just almost never played in concert: "Bulbs," "Street Choir," "Cul de Sac," and "Joyous Sound." "Joyous Sound" is a song that he's played in concert from time to time. But this is an unusually early version, done in concert three years before it showed up on the "A Period of Transition" album in 1977.

01 Caldonia (Van Morrison)
02 I Like it like That - Kansas City (Van Morrison)
03 Night Time Is the Right Time (Van Morrison)
04 Bulbs (Van Morrison)
05 Street Choir (Van Morrison)
06 I've Got News for You (Van Morrison)
07 Many Rivers to Cross (Van Morrison)
08 Cul de Sac (Van Morrison)
09 Ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do (Van Morrison)
10 Joyous Sound (Van Morrison)

For the cover art, I used a photo of Morrison playing live in Amsterdam in 1974.

Pete Townshend - After the Fire - Non-Album Tracks (1983-1985)

This continues Townshend's stray tracks from where I left off last time. In 1982, he released his solo album "All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes," and in 1985, he released another solo album, "White City." This covers 1983 to 1985, the time leading up to the release of "White City." He was so prolific in this era that I've had to save most of his 1985 songs for the next album in this series.

Personally, I think "White City" is an excellent album, maybe even my favorite Townshend solo album, so it's not surprising that the other songs from this time period are also good. All but two of the songs here are originals. The two covers, "Harlem Shuffle" and "Barefootin'," come from one of the very few concerts he did in the 1980s. (He only did a handful of concerts, all in 1985 or 1986.)

Throughout Townshend's solo career, he's had a fondness for instrumentals. This album is a case in point, with four of the songs being such. One of them, "God Speaks of Marty Robbins," dates to 1984. In 2006, the Who would release a version of this song on their "Endless Wire" album. But that version has lyrics and this version does not, so I figured it was different enough to warrant inclusion, especially due to the 22 year gap between the two versions.

In my opinion, he made a few too many instrumentals that weren't that different from each other. So I've added the one I liked the least as a bonus track only.

01 Prelude, the Right to Write [Instrumental] (Pete Townshend)
02 All Lovers Are Deranged (Pete Townshend)
03 Maxims for Lunch (Pete Townshend)
04 Ask Yourself (Pete Townshend)
05 God Speaks of Marty Robbins [Instrumental Version] (Pete Townshend)
06 Why D'You Stand So Close to that Man Last Night (Pete Townshend)
07 The Shout (Pete Townshend)
08 Cat Snatch [Instrumental] (Pete Townshend)
09 Commonwealth Boys (Pete Townshend)
10 You'll Never Be Alone Again (Pete Townshend)
11 Elephants [Instrumental] (Pete Townshend)
12 Harlem Shuffle (Pete Townshend)
13 Barefootin' (Pete Townshend)
14 After the Fire (Pete Townshend)

Theme 019 [Instrumental] (Pete Townshend)

I made the cover art using a publicity photo from 1985.

Lucinda Williams - What You Don't Know - Non-Album Tracks (1989-1993)

Lucinda Williams was criticized for the slow pace of her releases in the 1980s and 1990s, putting out a new album about once every six or seven years. (She's picked up the pace since then.) But I've happily discovered she had lots of stray tracks. For instance, it turns out she had enough material between 1989 and 1993 to release another solid album of mostly original material.

The first five songs here have been released as bonus tracks on some editions of the 1989 album "Lucinda Williams." But they deserve more exposure than that. They all come from in studio radio appearances. I included one of them, "Sundays," on my previous stray tracks collection, "In My Girlish Days." But that version was a full-band performance, and this one is a significantly different acoustic one.

Six of the remaining eight songs are still officially unreleased. This is a shame, because they're all fine songs, and the sound quality is very good too. Three of them, "Motherless Children," "Stop Breaking Down," and "Tonight I Think I'm Going to Go Downtown," are covers, with the last one of those being a duet with David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. Most of these unreleased songs come from concert bootlegs, with the audience noise removed.

One of the remaining songs that has been officially released, "Pancakes," is also a song I put on the "In my Girlish Days" album. But this version and that one are drastically different, as suggested by the fact that this version is three and a half minutes shorter.

In short, in the late 1980s and 1990s, Williams was peaking with the most acclaimed albums of her career. If you like those albums, you should definitely like this one too.

01 Goin' Back Home (Lucinda Williams)
02 Dark Side of Life (Lucinda Williams)
03 Nothing in Rambling (Lucinda Williams)
04 Disgusted (Lucinda Williams)
05 Side of the Road (Lucinda Williams)
06 Factory Blues (Lucinda Williams)
07 Wild and Blue (Lucinda Williams)
08 Motherless Children (Lucinda Williams)
09 Burning Desire (Band of Blacky Ranchette & Lucinda Williams)
10 Drivin’ Down a Dead End Street [Early Version of He Never Got Enough Love] (Lucinda Williams)
11 What You Don’t Know (Lucinda Williams)
12 Stop Breaking Down (Lucinda Williams)
13 Deportees [Plane Wreck at Los Gatos] (David Rodriguez & Lucinda Williams)
14 Tonight I Think I'm Going to Go Downtown (David Byrne & Lucinda Williams)

Sundays (Lucinda Williams)

For the cover art, I used a photo of Williams in concert in 1992.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Midnight Oil - Bird Noises - Expanded Version (1978-1982)

Yep, I'm going to apply my usual "stray tracks" approach to Midnight Oil. I think they're a great band, and they aren't as appreciated as they should be these days. I used to think the band didn't have much in the way of worthy stray tracks, but it turns out I just wasn't looking hard enough. This is the first of four stray tracks albums I've put together. Plus I have some other stuff (live and/or acoustic) to post here eventually.

In 1980, Midnight Oil released an EP called "Bird Noises." This is that, plus much more. I'm not a fan of listening to just an EP, since it's too short to be a satisfying listening experience. The "Bird Noises" EP is only 15 minutes long. I've found some other songs from that same era to turn this into a 39-minute long album.

In 2017, Midnight Oil reunited after 15 years. To celebrate that, they put out two very extensive box sets full of rarities. Unfortunately, those didn't sweep up all their good rarities. Three of the songs here come from one of those box sets, but three more are still officially unreleased. Those three are studio outtakes that somehow have been bootlegged. Their sound quality is pretty good, though a notch below the rest here.

One of those three songs is "Bakerman." That's a song from the band's 1984 album "Red Sails in the Sunset." But a surprise twist is that the version on that album is an instrumental and the (officially unreleased) version here has vocals.

Note that for this album, and the other Midnight Oil stray tracks albums I've compiled, I didn't just include all the stray tracks I could find. There are many non-album songs that I don't think are that good, including some from the 2017 box sets. In my opinion, the songs here make up a solid album.

One last comment: Midnight Oil is known for almost never doing any cover songs, but I've actually found a bunch of covers for their stray tracks albums. This album has two. The first song "Take Me Down Easy" was originally done by Jo Jo Gunne, and the last song "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" was a 1960s hit by the Animals.

01 Take Me Down Easy (Midnight Oil)
02 No Time for Games (Midnight Oil)
03 Knife's Edge (Midnight Oil)
04 Wedding Cake Island [Instrumental] (Midnight Oil)
05 I'm the Cure (Midnight Oil)
06 Bakerman [Vocals Version] (Midnight Oil)
07 I Want to Live Here (Midnight Oil)
08 Parking Station Blues (Midnight Oil)
09 Ghost of the Roadhouse (Midnight Oil)
10 We Gotta Get Out of This Place (Midnight Oil)

For the cover art, I simply used the cover of the "Bird Noises" EP.

Justin Hayward & the Moody Blues - Acoustic (1986-1996)

I have to admit I'm not a very big Moody Blues fan. I think their well-known songs are great, and include some all-time classics, but I don't like them enough to have entire studio albums from them. I think the issue for me is their production. I generally prefer a more sparse and acoustic sound, whereas the Moody Blues goes in the opposite direction, slathering the Mellotron and strings on their music, making it sound more like muzak to my ears.

Since they do have a lot of great songs, I try to approach them from an unusual angle. For instance, I like their official BBC collection, because that has them at least somewhat more of a stripped down sound. But what I'd really like to hear from them is an "unplugged" album of some sort, but no such album exists. So I decided to make one myself.

I noticed from YouTube that when the Moody Blues played full concerts, they went for the "everything but the kitchen sink" approach, often even playing with full orchestras. But when they made short promotional appearances on TV shows and radio stations, they often played in a very different acoustic style. In fact, typically, it was only lead singer and songwriter Justin Hayward making these appearances with an acoustic guitar, though he was sometimes supported by band member John Lodge, also usually with just an acoustic guitar. Poking around YouTube, I was able to find a bunch of songs done in an acoustic style, all from 1986 to 1996.

I'm really happy how this album came out. It goes without saying that songs like "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon" are great. Most of this album is composed of Moody Blues songs from the 1960s and 1970s. They sound drastically different in acoustic format. They work really well because they're solid songs underneath all the lush production.

But what really surprised me is how good the songs from the 1980s and 1990s sound. I'd been dismissive of nearly all of that stuff, and I still am, in their officially released versions. The songs from those years suffered from the usual production trends of the time, such as drum machines and too much synth sound. When you strip all that way to just an acoustic guitar or two, the songs are even more dramatically transformed. Frankly, I think their latter songs hold their own with their older classics, and that's pretty high praise.

Another thing this album shows is what a fantastic vocalist Justin Hayward is. His voice has hardly changed at all over the decades. It definitely is in top form for these recordings.

By the way, I wasn't sure if I should credit this to Justin Hayward or the Moody Blues. In my opinion, this is nearly all Hayward. Some of the songs credited to the Moody Blues actually appear to be just him, or maybe him and one other person. There are only about three or four songs here that have more than him and one other Moody Blues band member. But still, it's not all him, and John Lodge does show up some. So I decided to credit it to both Hayward and the band as a whole.

The sound quality is generally good to excellent, since these all come from radio and TV shows, and those usually sound better than concert bootlegs. But one song, "Want to Be with You," had half of the first verse cut off. So I made a cut, having it start at the second verse. This way, it sounds like a complete song.

The length of this album is less than ideal for me. I prefer an album length of anywhere from 35 to 50 minutes. This album is 66 minutes long, which is long for a single album but still too short to make a double album out of it. Perhaps I'll eventually find more acoustic versions and I'll be able to split this into two albums If you know of anything that would fit, please let me know.

Oh, one more note. Only one song is repeated here, and that's "Nights in White Satin." I included two versions of it because it's an incredible song of course, but also because the two versions are significantly different from each other. One is just Hayward with his acoustic guitar. The other is one of the very few tracks here with four members of the Moody Blues playing - but still on acoustic instruments, and no drums.All the other songs are in chronological order, but if I did that with the two versions of "Nights in White Satin," they would almost be right next to each other. So instead I have the simple version start the album and the fuller version end it.

01 Nights in White Satin (Justin Hayward)
02 I Just Don't Care (Justin Hayward)
03 Want to Be with You (Justin Hayward & John Lodge)
04 Blue Guitar (Justin Hayward & John Lodge)
05 Question (Justin Hayward & John Lodge)
06 Your Wildest Dreams (Justin Hayward & John Lodge)
07 Lovely to See You (Moody Blues)
08 Tuesday Afternoon [Forever Afternoon] (Justin Hayward)
09 Say It with Love (Moody Blues)
10 Forever Autumn (Moody Blues)
11 Bless the Wings [That Bring You Back] (Moody Blues)
12 Never Blame the Rainbows for the Rain (Moody Blues)
13 Driftwood (Justin Hayward)
14 Voices in the Sky (Moody Blues)
15 The Actor (Moody Blues)
16 It's So Easy (Justin Hayward & Mal Pope)
17 Children of Paradise (Justin Hayward)
18 The Way of the World (Justin Hayward)
19 Troubadour (Justin Hayward)
20 Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues)

For the album cover, I took a screenshot of Justin Hayward playing an acoustic guitar from a 1990 DVD.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Crosby, Stills & Nash - Songs We Wish We'd Written - Non-Album Tracks (2009-2010)

This blog is coming close to having posted 500 albums. Out of all of those, this is the one that was the most difficult for me to make. And that's saying a lot, since I've often had to dig deep to find obscurities for many of the compilations I've made. I'm very relieved to finally be able to post this!

I've posted many (at least 17 so far) albums here that present a sort of alternate universe history of Crosby, Stills & Nash (with or without Young). It's one of things I'm most proud about regarding this blog, because CSN and/or Y made lots of great music together, and yet only a small percent of it made it to their albums at all, and a bunch of those albums were botched. But after posting the last CSN stray tracks album (for songs up to 2005), I had to pause in posting any more for many months, due to my difficulty in making this album.

Before explaining my difficulties, let me explain what this album is about, since CSN had even more difficulties with it. By 2009, it had been a very long time since there had been a new CSN or CSNY studio album. (The last one was CSNY's "Looking Forward" in 1999.) For their next studio album (with just CSN), they decided to do one that consisted of nothing but covers. They even had a name picked out for it: "Songs We Wish We'd Written." They hired Rick Rubin to produce it. That seemed like a great choice, because he's one of the most successful producers of all time, and he's had a particular reputation of making older artists popular again after their recent albums had been mostly forgotten.

Unfortunately, CSN are known for their big egos and  their inability to work well with others. Apparently, part way through recording the album, CSN had a big falling out with Rubin and the album plans collapsed. Here's Nash's explanation of what happened, from a 2012 news article

"After almost 50 years of making records, we think we know what we’re doing, so it’s very hard to tell Crosby, Stills and Nash what to do. You can suggest anything you want, but you can’t tell us what to do. First of all, [Rubin] pissed off David Crosby. David said we wanted to do Blackbird and another Beatles song. Rick said, ‘There will only be one Beatles song.’ Crosby said, ‘There will only be one Beatles song if we decide there will only be one Beatles song.’ You know, like, ‘Who the f*** are you to tell me?’ You can’t tell us what to do. Rick is a brilliant man - but we rubbed each other the wrong way."

Then, in 2014, still with no new CSN studio album in sight, Nash said work on the covers album had finally resumed and they were close to finishing it off. "We did seven songs and none of them excited us. Sony owns those seven songs that they have no right to release. We went back to the studio in Santa Monica and started over and we've got five we really like."

Aaaaannd... that seems to be the last anyone has heard about the CSN covers album. Late in 2015, CSN performed at the White House, and somewhere in that event there was an argument that caused Crosby to be estranged from the others. It's so bad that apparently even Crosby and Nash haven't directly spoken to each other since, despite the two of them being closer than most brothers for the previous 35 years. It sounds like the 2015 argument was just the final straw. So, in that context, it's understandable how they never got along well enough to finish off their covers album.

However, all hope is not lost! I haven't seen any evidence of them doing much in the way of unusual covers in concert from 2011 until their break-up in 2015. Plus, there have been no leaks of any studio recordings of the covers album. But all through 2009 and 2010, CSN played a varying handful of covers in pretty much all the concerts they did. It was my goal to find recordings of those covers and make an album out of them.

Unfortunately, it turns out there's a serious lack of good CSN bootlegs from that time period, and no officially released versions of those cover songs from then. In fact, I couldn't find a single soundboard bootleg, or even an excellent audience bootleg, from that time. Furthermore, for many of the covers they did, I couldn't find a single recording at all. As examples, they played Tom Paxton's folk classic "The Last Thing on My Mind" a bunch of times, as well as other songs more rarely, like "Peace of Mind" by Neil Young, "Lives in the Balance" by Jackson Browne, and even "Lady Stardust" by David Bowie (!). But I couldn't find recordings for any of those. And some of the songs I did find frankly had such poor sound that it was barely listenable to my ears.

So I waited and waited for many months, hoping that I'd stumble upon some better recordings while I was looking for other things by other artists. And I'm happy to say that I did eventually find a few things, enough for me to feel it's finally time to post this.

That said, this still is a frustratingly uneven album, due to sound quality issues. Probably THE key factor in any CSN performance is their vocal harmonies. If the sound quality is poor, you can't appreciate those vocals, and then the whole thing sounds like crap. The good news is, for about half of the songs here, I found excellent sound recordings that I'm happy with. But the bad news is, for the other half, I'm still unhappy. But I figure by now this is probably as good as I'm likely to get. If any of you have possible better sounding versions of any of these songs (and especially the songs I couldn't find) please let me know and I'll update this album.

I've divided the album into two parts. The first half are all their fully acoustic performances, just acoustic guitars and vocals. I've organized them by sound quality. The first few sound the best. By the last two acoustic ones ("Reason to Believe" and "You Can Close Your Eyes"), the sound quality is still decent, but noticeably worse than the ones that came earlier.

Then the last handful of songs, from "Bluebird" to the end, are all done in full-band versions. Unfortunately, the sound quality needs to be higher for the vocal harmonies to be heard well over all those other instruments. "Bluebird" sounds great, but there's a slow decline from there. I made the last two songs bonus tracks, since the sound quality of those are the worst.

I'm especially bummed not to have a better version of them performing "Uncle John's Band," since I love that song, and it suits them. I believe they actually helped the Grateful Dead to improve their harmonies for when the Dead recorded the original version of that song in 1970 (and the other harmony-rich songs the Dead did around then).

In a few cases, I had to stretch outside of the 2009 to 2010 time frame to get the versions I used here. One reason for that is because one thing I heard about the covers album was that they planned to record at least one song each from the bands they were in before joining CSN: the Byrds (for Crosby), Buffalo Springfield (for Stills), and the Hollies (for Nash). But CSN didn't play any Byrds songs in 2009 or 2010, or any years close to that, at least that I could tell. I had to stretch all the way back to 1996 to find CSN doing a version of the Byrds hit "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

Sadly, I couldn't find any examples of CSN playing a Hollies song in concert, so I had to skip that. (I'm not counting a solo acoustic version Nash did of "King Midas in Reverse" in 1970 as a bonus track for the CSNY live album "Four Way Street.") Technically, CSN did play the Hollies' hit "Bus Stop" a few times in 2015, but apparently that was just Nash singing it alone during his usual short solo portion of the show.

I had to make an even greater stretch in order to include a version of "Blackbird." Note that one of the Nash quotes above specifically mentioned that "Blackbird" was one of the two Beatles song they planned to have on the album. (The other one almost certainly is "Norwegian Wood," and I have that one included.) But according to, CSN hasn't played "Blackbird" in concert a single time since 1992. So I was forced to use a version from 1991. (Frankly, I'm surprised they were going to put that song on the covers album at all, since they'd put a version of it on their 1992 box set, but I digress.)

CSN did put out an official live album in 2012, simply called "CSN 2012." I used two songs from that, strictly due to sound quality issues.

Note that two of the songs here - "Long May You Run" and "Human Highway" are songs written by Neil Young. Furthermore, they're songs that are closely associated with CSNY, since there were failed attempts between 1974 and 1976 to record a CSNY album that could well have been named after either of those two songs. But of course for those versions the lead vocals were done by Young. I think these are sufficiently different to warrant inclusion. "Long May You Run" in particular was likely to make it onto the covers album, since CSN played it for every one of their 2010 concerts.

Anyway, I think this is a pretty good album (with a good length of 44 minutes, not counting the bonus tracks), if you can handle the occasional sound quality issues. If you do have a problem with that, just knock off the songs that are more problematic, and you still should have a good, though shorter, album. That said, this is merely a pale shadow of how good the studio version of the cover albums would have been. Even putting the recording quality issues aside, they could have nailed their performances, especially their harmonies, in the studio much better than what they did in concert.

Are the songs here the very same ones that they would have put on the official studio album? I doubt it. Probably, they did some others they didn't play in concert at the time. (Plus, there are surprisingly few Crosby lead vocals here, and I doubt that would be the case on album.) But I think it's safe to say the vast majority of the songs here would have been on the album. Most of these songs were played for most of all of their concerts in 2009, or 2010, or sometimes both.

One final note. For a long time, from about 2006 to 2012, it seems CSN wrote very few new songs, and even fewer really good new songs. So it makes sense they wanted to record a covers album during that time. But then, from about 2013 until their break-up in 2015, they actually came up with a lots of really nice new songs. There are so many that I've made two albums out of them. Now that I've finally gotten this monkey off my back, I'll be able to post those in the near future.

01 Blackbird (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
02 Ruby Tuesday (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
03 Human Highway (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
04 Girl from the North Country (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
05 Norwegian Wood [This Bird Has Flown] (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
06 Midnight Rider (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
07 Reason to Believe (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
08 You Can Close Your Eyes (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
09 Bluebird (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
10 Turn, Turn, Turn [To Everything There Is a Season] (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
11 Long May You Run (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
12 Rock and Roll Woman (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
13 Uncle John's Band (Crosby, Stills & Nash)

Behind Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
Rocky Mountain Way (Crosby, Stills & Nash)

For the album cover, I found an image of a CSN T-shirt the band was selling at their concerts from this era that prominently features their logo. After cropping the image, all I did was add the album title at the bottom.