Thursday, January 30, 2020

Johnny Cash - Frank Ervin Center, University of Texas, Austin, TX, 12-8-1994

I haven't posted a lot of Johnny Cash music here, because there are a zillion official albums. But, surprisingly, there are some gaps. One of the biggest, in my opinion, is that Cash's career was reborn in 1994 with the acclaimed "American Recordings" album, and all the albums for the rest of his life were strong. But there are no official live albums from that time period. Luckily, there are two excellent soundboard bootlegs from that time, one from 1994 and one from 1996. Here's the 1994 one.

The song selection is very good, in my opinion. Basically, he played a handful of songs from the all-acoustic "American Recordings" album. He played these an a couple more in solo acoustic format, mostly in the middle of the show. But a lot more of the show featured him playing the most famous songs from earlier in his career in a band format. It's about an hour and forty minutes long.

The sound quality is excellent, as good as you'd expect an official live album to be. But there was one problem. Since this came from a soundboard recording, it picked up what happened on stage perfectly well, but didn't record much crowd noise. It's strange to hear a song end to near silence. So after each song, I took what little crowd noise there was and carefully boosted it so the rise and fall in volume wouldn't be obvious. Sometimes, I had to take some crowd noise from the end of a different song and mix it in to make sure there was enough crowd response.

If you want just one Johnny Cash concert recording that's a good overview of his entire career, this is about as good as it gets. (He survived until 2003, but he only made a few guest appearances on stage after 1997.)

01 Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)
02 Get Rhythm (Johnny Cash)
03 Sunday Morning Coming Down (Johnny Cash)
04 [Ghost] Riders in the Sky (Johnny Cash)
05 talk (Johnny Cash)
06 A Cowboy's Prayer (Johnny Cash)
07 Oh, Bury Me Not (Johnny Cash)
08 Big River (Johnny Cash)
09 talk (Johnny Cash)
10 I Walk the Line (Johnny Cash)
11 I Still Miss Someone (Johnny Cash)
12 Man in Black (Johnny Cash)
13 Remember the Alamo (Johnny Cash)
14 Orange Blossom Special (Johnny Cash)
15 talk (Johnny Cash)
16 Death and Hell (Johnny Cash)
17 talk (Johnny Cash)
18 Delia's Gone (Johnny Cash)
19 Bird on the Wire (Johnny Cash)
20 talk (Johnny Cash)
21 The Beast in Me (Johnny Cash)
22 Tennessee Stud (Johnny Cash)
23 talk (Johnny Cash)
24 Down There by the Train (Johnny Cash)
25 Drive On (Johnny Cash)
26 talk (Johnny Cash)
27 Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)
28 talk (Johnny Cash)
29 Jackson (Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)
30 If I Were a Carpenter (Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)
31 talk (Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)
32 It Ain't Me, Babe (Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)
33 talk (Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)
34 Live Forever (Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)
35 talk (Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)
36 Will the Circle Be Unbroken (Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash & Rosie Carter)
37 The Next Time in Town (Johnny Cash)
38 Guess Things Happen that Way (Johnny Cash)
39 The Ballad of Ira Hayes (Johnny Cash)
40 Home of the Blues (Johnny Cash)
41 Long Black Veil (Johnny Cash)
42 A Boy Named Sue (Johnny Cash)
43 Peace in the Valley (Johnny Cash)

I couldn't find a photo of Cash at the concert in question. But I found one of him played the SXSW festival in Austin Texas earlier in the year. I used that, since at least it's the same town. I tried to imitate the style of his official albums from 1994 and after with the giant "CASH" text, and no first name, on the cover.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Neil Diamond - The Bitter End, New York City, 8-1967

I have to confess that I'm not much of a Neil Diamond fan. I think he's written a number of great songs, but I pretty much only have a double album greatest hits from him in my music collection. So I never expected that I would be posting an album of his on this blog. But today, I stumbled across something from him that's so rare and interesting that I'm pretty psyched to have it here.

Neil Diamond (that's the name he was born with, by the way) had his first successful single with "Solitary Man" in 1966. He followed that with a handful of additional hit singles in 1966 and 1967. But his musical style was square and out of fashion for the time, a throwback to the Brill Building sound that he'd been a part of. So music critics and audiences didn't quite know what to make of him, yet many of his songs were so good and catchy that he couldn't be ignored.

Into that scenario comes this concert recording. As far as I can tell, there are virtually no live recordings of him from before 1970, either official or bootleg. Yet I stumbled across this fascinating bootleg of him playing the Bitter End in New York City in August 1967, at a very early stage of his career. The sound quality isn't great. It's rougher than the vast majority of live recordings I post here. But I'm posting this anyway because I think it's a fascinating recording, and it sounds decent enough for me to enjoy listening to it.

This concert is interesting to me due to the song selection, as well as its historical rarity of being the only known concert recording from his early years. The recording is less than 30 minutes long, but almost every song he played is now considered a classic. He started with a cover of the Ike and Tina Turner classic "River Deep, Mountain High," which is interesting in and of itself. He didn't release a version of it on record until 1993. He also played "I'm a Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You." Both of those were big hits for the Monkees. Diamond put out his own version of "I'm a Believer" on album after the Monkees had their hit with it, but he never put out his own version of "A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You." So it's great to have that here, even though it's part of a medley and only about one minute long.

Aside from that, he played most of his best, classic songs, including "Solitary Man," "Cherry, Cherry," and "Kentucky Woman." He also did "The Boat that I Row," a song he wrote that was a big hit for Lulu in Britain. Because the recording is so short, I looked around to see what else I could add that would fit. All I could find was a performance of "Girl, You\ll Be a Woman Soon," which he played on TV two months later.

There were some problems with the recording. One is that there was virtually no space between the songs. Whatever between song banter existed hasn't been included, which is a shame. Also, typically, there was just a couple seconds of applause at the end of each song, and then there was a quick and drastic cut to the start of the next song, often cutting off a bit of the song's beginning. I tried to fix this as well as I could by patching in more audience applause from elsewhere in the recording, then fading that out, so the songs don't slam into each other. I also tried to repair the song beginnings that got cut off, by using intro riffs that got repeated later in the song. This worked in a couple of cases, but in others, there wasn't anything i could do.

Anyway, despite the somewhat rough sound quality, the short length, and the lack of talking between songs, I still think this is a very interesting recording. Personally, this is the kind of Neil Diamond I like best, before he turned into a slick and professional superstar with glammy production and presentation. It's kind of like the early Elvis (Presley) at Sun Records vs. late Elvis in Las Vegas comparison. Here, we have a young and hungry Neil Diamond back when he was still playing a tiny club. I wish we could hear the entire concert, with top notch sound quality.

By the way, around the month this concert happened, Diamond got in a big dispute with his producer Bert Berns. Berns was an excellent songwriter, so much so that I've included him in my "Covered" series of albums. But Berns also was a ruthless businessman. (Van Morrison would certainly attest to that, since he had big problems with Berns as well.) A couple of weeks after Diamond and Berns had a falling out in a recording studio, Diamond was playing a show at this very venue when a bomb went off. Nobody got hurt, but the club had to be cleared out, and there was damage. The police never found out who did it, but Diamond was convinced that Berns was behind it. Berns died later in 1967 of natural causes. Even so, Diamond was so spooked that he alerted the FBI, and carried a gun with him wherever he went for about another year, worried that Berns' Mob-connected associates were out to get him.

Now, I'm not sure if that bomb went off at this show or another one at the same venue. It's known that Diamond played the Bitter End at least twice in August, once on August 1oth and again on August 27th. So this recording could be from either show, or there could have been other shows there around that same time that weren't documented. But the odds are decent that that bomb went off at this very show, which makes it even more interesting, in my opinion!

01 River Deep, Mountain High (Neil Diamond)
02 Cherry, Cherry (Neil Diamond)
03 I'm a Believer (Neil Diamond)
04 A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You (Neil Diamond)
05 The Boat that I Row (Neil Diamond)
06 Solitary Man (Neil Diamond)
07 Shilo (Neil Diamond)
08 Thank the Lord for the Nightime (Neil Diamond)
09 Kentucky Woman (Neil Diamond)
10 Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon (Neil Diamond)

The cover art photo might look a little odd at first, and it's somewhat blurry. But I chose this because it depicts Diamond standing in front of the Bitter End around the time this concert took place. I cropped it so you can see that the sign he's standing next to says "The Bitter End" on it. The picture was originally black and white, but over a year after I first posted it, I colorized it.

Leonard Cohen - Live 1972

When it comes to early live Leonard Cohen with excellent sound quality, there isn't very much. I've posted one "must have," the BBC show from 1968. Another "must have" is the 1970 Isle of Wight concert. I'm not going to post that here because it's been released as an album, and there's nothing wrong with it. There's some more great live material from 1972. I'm combining all of that here, creating an album I simply call "Live 1972."

There are two major sources for this. One is the album "Live Songs," which was released in 1973. But there are a number of problems with that album, in my opinion. It's a collection of songs from a bunch of concerts in 1972, as well as two songs that date to 1970. Those 1970 songs ("Please Don't Pass Me By" and "Tonight Will Be Fine") don't belong. I've put them on a stray tracks album that I'll post here later. One of the 1972 songs ("Queen Victoria") is actually a studio recording that also doesn't belong. That also will go on a stray tracks album.

So that leaves just the live songs that actually date from 1972. Those are all nice performances, with excellent sound, so I've kept all of them. But I've reordered them (and everything else on this album) by the dates they were recorded. Also, they have a minor problem in that they either end with no clapping or only a couple of seconds before a quick fade out. For this blog, I've often removed the audience noise at the end of songs. But in this case, I've done the opposite. Using audience noise from songs later in this album, I've extended the audience response so it's more like five seconds instead of just one or two. It makes a big difference in terms of reminding you that these actually are live recordings.

I've also found one song of indeterminate origin, "Kevin Barry." This is an anti-war song written by someone else. Somehow, an excellent recording of this has appeared on YouTube. I don't know which concert it's from, but it's known that Cohen only played it six times in public in his entire career, all in April 1972, so it has to be from then.

That leaves the other major source for this album. There's only one known bootleg soundboard recording of Cohen from 1972. It comes from a controversial concert he did in Tel Aviv, Israel, on April 19, 1972. Only about forty minutes of the concert has emerged at soundboard quality, so I've used that. Due to a great stroke of luck, none of the songs from it are the same songs as the 1972 "Live Songs" ones, so the two sources compliment each other well.

Unfortunately, this recording starts about a minute and a half into "Famous Blue Raincoat." I've attempted to fix this by using another bootleg version from Stockholm, Sweden, on April 3, 1972. That version is from a TV show, and it sounds pretty good, except there's a lot of distortion when the bass comes in. You'll probably notice the difference when the soundboard version comes in midway through the first chorus. But I figure it's better to have it that way than half half the song missing or not include it at all.

I don't know how many songs were played prior to that one. (It's possible "Kevin Barry" actually comes from earlier in the show, which would make sense in terms of matching sound quality.) Anyway, the concert continued as normal for a while. One thing worth noting is that it contains a version of "Chelsea Hotel No. 1." Note that's "No. 1," not the much more famous "No. 2" version. This version has fairly different lyrics, and also a musically different chorus.

But there was a big problem with this concert that would lead to a big problem. For some strange reason, Cohen got booked to play a sports arena, the Ramat Gan Stadium, where lots of basketball games were played. The venue had just put in a new hardwood floor, and they didn't want a bunch of scruffy music fans to scuff it up by walking on it. Thus, the audience of six thousand was forced to sit around the central floor, as if watching a basketball game, and leave a large area in front of the stage totally empty. There were no real barriers, so to make enforce this, a large number of orange clad security forces were employed to keep the audience off the floor.

Cohen didn't like this at all. Because it was night, he couldn't see any of the audience except the security forces. Partway through the show, he ad-libbed a short song aimed at those security people, which has come to be known "Song to the Machines."

That went over well with the crowd. But apparently, all the while, more and more fans were coming down to the hardwood floor, and getting pushed back by the security forces, sometimes violently. Finally, things reached a breaking point, with a large number of people rushing the stage, overwhelming the security. You can hear this happening towards the end of this album. (Furthermore, if you watch the movie "Bird on a Wire," a documentary of Cohen's 1972 tour, you can see the footage of it happening at the start of the movie.) Cohen responded by singing the traditional protest song "We Shall Not Be Moved," which was very fitting, given the situation. However, when that song was over, there still was a stand-off, so he decided to end the concert early instead of possibly having more violence.

So that's a pretty weird concert that just happens to be recorded at soundboard quality! I suppose it, and many others from the tour were recorded for the "Bird on a Wire" documentary, but only that one has leaked out so far. Anyway, the bottom line is this makes for a nice concert album that's an hour and 15 minutes long. I recommend putting your copy of "Live Songs" aside and listen to this instead.

After this music from 1972, the next really excellent sounding live Cohen recording comes from 1976. I'll post that eventually. But between this, the 1968 BBC concert, and the Isle of Wight concert, you should have live versions of most of the really good songs from his first albums.

01 Minute Prologue (Leonard Cohen)
02 Passing Through (Leonard Cohen)
03 Seems So Long Ago, Nancy (Leonard Cohen)
04 Story of Isaac (Leonard Cohen)
05 You Know Who I Am (Leonard Cohen)
06 Bird on the Wire (Leonard Cohen)
07 Improvisation [Instrumental Version of You Know Who I Am] (Leonard Cohen)
08 talk (Leonard Cohen)
09 Kevin Barry (Leonard Cohen)
10 Famous Blue Raincoat [Edit] (Leonard Cohen)
11 Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen)
12 talk (Leonard Cohen)
13 Song to the Machines (Leonard Cohen)
14 talk (Leonard Cohen)
15 Sisters of Mercy (Leonard Cohen)
16 Chelsea Hotel No. 1 (Leonard Cohen)
17 Avalanche (Leonard Cohen)
18 talk (Leonard Cohen)
19 Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)
20 talk (Leonard Cohen)
21 We Shall Not Be Moved (Leonard Cohen)

The cover art comes from a Cohen concert in 1972, but I don't know which one.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Led Zeppelin - Koseinenkin Kaikan, Osaka, Japan, 9-29-1971

When I posted the last part of my five-album Led Zeppelin BBC series, that was a complete, but short concert from 1971. I hinted that there was an even better recorded concert of them from later in 1971. Here it is. This is considered one of the best Led Zeppelin bootleg concerts, if not the very best.

Bootlegs of this concert have been around a long time. But in 2018, a new soundboard version of the show emerged. Unfortunately, the soundboard isn't perfect, and it doesn't cover the whole show. So what fans have done is take the soundboard and audience versions and make a matrix version that combines the best of both. There are some parts where the sound declines noticeably, especially in the middle. I'm guessing that's where there's no soundboard portion. But still, as I've mentioned before, there actually aren't that many Zeppelin bootlegs that sound fantastic, so this is still one of the best even with some flaws.

In addition to sound quality, this concert also excels in terms of performance, song selection, and sheer length. Many fans believe that the band peaked as a live unit in 1971. After that,lead singer Robert Plant's voice was still great, but couldn't always reach the high notes, and guitarist Jimmy Page's drug problems started to take a toll. This concert happened not long before the classic album "Led Zeppelin IV" was released, and it includes four songs from that.

 But what's even better is that it includes the only good sounding live version of "Tangerine," and the only live performance, period, of "Friends." At this time, the band had a short acoustic set in the middle of their show. If you listen to the recording, you'll hear Plant complain that when that set came to an end, drummer John Bohnam was still nowhere to be seen. So they played "Tangerine" without him. When that ended, Bohnam finally showed up. But they played another acoustic song, "Friends," anyway, with Bohnam adding some light drumming.

In terms of length, the BBC concert from earlier in 1971 that I mentioned above is slightly over an hour and a half. This concert is slightly over three hours! So it's basically double in length.

If you're a Led Zeppelin fan, but not a super fan of their live shows, I think that the five BBC albums, the Fillmore West 1969 concert, and this one, are the best of their live material for their early years, and probably all the live material from those years that you need. If anyone feels there are other "must have" concert recordings from them, please let us know in the comments. Also, if anyone thinks they have a better recording of this show, especially for the sections that don't sound as good, please let me know so I can update this.

01 talk (Led Zeppelin)
02 Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin)
03 Heartbreaker (Led Zeppelin)
04 talk (Led Zeppelin)
05 Since I've Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin)
06 talk (Led Zeppelin)
07 Black Dog (Led Zeppelin)
08 talk (Led Zeppelin)
09 Dazed and Confused (Led Zeppelin)
10 talk (Led Zeppelin)
11 Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
12 talk (Led Zeppelin)
13 Celebration Day (Led Zeppelin)
14 talk (Led Zeppelin)
15 That's the Way (Led Zeppelin)
16 talk (Led Zeppelin)
17 Going to California (Led Zeppelin)
18 talk (Led Zeppelin)
19 Tangerine (Led Zeppelin)
20 talk (Led Zeppelin)
21 Friends (Led Zeppelin)
22 talk [Including 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' Snippet] (Led Zeppelin)
23 What Is and What Should Never Be (Led Zeppelin)
24 talk (Led Zeppelin)
25 Moby Dick [Instrumental] (Led Zeppelin)
26 talk (Led Zeppelin)
27 Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin)
28 talk (Led Zeppelin)
29 Communication Breakdown (Led Zeppelin)
30 Organ Solo [Instrumental] (Led Zeppelin)
31 Thank You (Led Zeppelin)
32 talk (Led Zeppelin)
33 Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin)

The cover art photo here actually comes from the very concert in question. It's one of only a couple to emerge from the show. It's rather blurry, but I like it anyway, due to the red / blue contrast, as well as the giant gong, which seems evocative of Japan, where the concert took place. Sadly, it seems Robert Plant is out of the frame.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Leonard Cohen - BBC Sessions, Volume 2: Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen, Paris Theatre, London, Britain, 3-20-1968

Leonard Cohen released his first album in 1967. For the first few years of his musical career, he played very few concerts, because he was self-conscious about his voice. He did some in the summer of 1967, but I don't think he did any at all in 1968 or 1969. So this 62-minute-long BBC performance is significant for being the first and only known full concert recording from his early years. What's amazing is that, because it was recorded for the BBC, its sound quality is excellent, the same as other BBC recordings from the era. The fact that this has never been officially released is criminal.

Cohen mostly played songs from his first album, 1967's "Songs of Leonard Cohen," but he also played four songs that would end up on his second or third albums. Plus, there's "There's No Reason Why You Should Remember Me," which is more of a singalong chorus than a full song. Also, "So Long, Marianne" has an extra verse. But another nice aspect of this recording is that he talked before most of the songs. I've put those speaking parts on separate tracks.

This concert was recorded on a single day in March 1968, in front of a small studio audience. But because it was so long (for the BBC for the era), it was broadcast in two parts, in August and September 1968. Both parts were called "Leonard Cohen Sings Leonard Cohen."

He did play some other songs for the BBC, both before and after this. But since this is one long performance I'm presenting it as such. I'll post that other BBC stuff on another album in the future.

UPDATE: On November 18, 2023, I changed the title of this album. I added the "BBC Sessions, Volume 2" part, because I have plans to add other BBC volumes, including a Volume 1.

01 You Know Who I Am (Leonard Cohen)
02 talk (Leonard Cohen)
03 Bird on the Wire (Leonard Cohen)
04 talk (Leonard Cohen)
05 The Stranger Song (Leonard Cohen)
06 talk (Leonard Cohen)
07 So Long, Marianne (Leonard Cohen)
08 talk (Leonard Cohen)
09 Master Song (Leonard Cohen)
10 talk (Leonard Cohen)
11 There's No Reason Why You Should Remember Me (Leonard Cohen)
12 talk (Leonard Cohen)
13 Sisters of Mercy (Leonard Cohen)
14 Teachers (Leonard Cohen)
15 talk (Leonard Cohen)
16 Dress Rehearsal Rag (Leonard Cohen)
17 Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)
18 talk (Leonard Cohen)
19 Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye (Leonard Cohen)
20 talk (Leonard Cohen)
21 Story of Isaac (Leonard Cohen)
22 talk (Leonard Cohen)
23 One of Us Cannot Be Wrong (Leonard Cohen)

As far as I know, there are no known photos of Cohen from this concert, since it was broadcast on the radio, not TV. But he played a couple of songs for a BBC TV show at the end of 1967 (and I'll post those later, as I mentioned above). Luckily, the TV footage of that has survived, so I've used a screenshot from that for the cover art.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Buffalo Springfield - Market Hall, Dallas, TX, 4-20-1968

Last week or thereabouts, I posted a Buffalo Springfield concert from 1967. (it's popularly known as the "Teen and Twenty Club" show, but as I explain in that post, I believe it actually took place at the "Salty Cellar.") In that post, I lamented the lack of much recorded live Buffalo Springfield in quality sound. But in addition to that concert, there's this one. That one was an audience bootleg recorded right on stage with a reel-to-reel, and this is an actual soundboard bootleg. These are two the concerts of theirs I feel have the sound quality that makes them worthy of repeated listens.

This concert, recorded at Market Hall in Dallas, Texas, in April 1968, is as good as most soundboard recordings from that era. The one snag though is that it's a rather short show, at only 29 minutes. That's a refection of the fact that Buffalo Springfield simply weren't that popular back in those years, despite having a few hit singles, so they almost always had to perform short opening sets for bigger acts. This is almost certainly their full set from that day.

Because it's so short, I've added in two extra songs at the front. These two were recorded about a month later, in Long Beach, California, on May 5, 1968. It turns out that Long Beach concert was the very last one the band ever did (unless you could reunions decades later). The Long Beach bootleg has fairly decent sound, but it gets worse in many places, plus, the set list is almost exactly the same as the Dallas show. I've included the two songs that were only played at Long Beach, "Good Time Boy" and "Mr. Soul." "Good Time Boy" has pretty good sound, about the same as the Dallas show, but "Mr. Soul" has some significant sound issues that plague most of the rest of the Long Beach recording.

For both the Long Beach and Dallas recordings, I put the between-song banter on their own tracks, and also cut out most of the aimless guitar tuning and noodling. I also boosted the talking, since that was really low in the mix. I especially like Neil Young's sardonic comment right before "Rock and Roll Woman": "One more hit record, and we won't have to nail our equipment together before we start."

Most of the songs are the same as the ones they played at the Salty Cellar in 1967. But they do play two different ones: "A Child's Claim to Fame" and "Uno Mundo." But there are lots of differences in the performances, especially on the solos. That's particularly true on "Bluebird," which stretches to 12 minutes this time.

Oh, and one very nice aspect to this recording is that Neil Young appears on all of it, whereas he's missing for all but three of the songs on the Salty Cellar recording. (See the blog post there for an explanation.)

By the way, there's another quality live recording of this band at the Hollywood Bowl in 1967. You can find it on YouTube. The problem with that one is that the microphone they were using emitted a high-pitched whine for the entire duration of the show. That makes it unlistenable for me. It seems to me that's a problem that could be fixed with audio software these days, but it's beyond my limited abilities. If anyone has the skills to tackle that, please let me know.

01 Good Time Boy (Buffalo Springfield)
02 talk (Buffalo Springfield)
03 Mr. Soul (Buffalo Springfield)
04 talk (Buffalo Springfield)
05 Rock and Roll Woman (Buffalo Springfield)
06 talk (Buffalo Springfield)
07 A Child's Claim to Fame (Buffalo Springfield)
08 talk (Buffalo Springfield)
09 Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing (Buffalo Springfield)
10 talk (Buffalo Springfield)
11 Uno Mundo (Buffalo Springfield)
12 For What It's Worth (Buffalo Springfield)
13 talk (Buffalo Springfield)
14 Bluebird (Buffalo Springfield)

The photo for the cover art comes from a concert in Salt Lake City in March 1968. The band name text and colors comes from a November 1967 concert poster. I added the black behind the lettering to raise it up.

Eric Clapton - Cryin' - Non-Album Tracks (1978-1979)

It's been a while since I've posted an Eric Clapton stray tracks album, so here's another one from him. This one deals with 1978 and 1979.

Clapton's solo career really began in 1974 (even though he put out a solo album in 1970). For the first couple of years, he did a great many songs that never appeared on his studio albums at the time. But as the 1970s went on, the number of such songs steadily went down. I'd been able to post at least one stray tracks album for each calendar year so far, but this one covers two years.

I'm guessing that lack of song variety was a result of his increasing drug and/or alcohol habits. That said, the songs he does here are still up to his usual standards. Three of the songs, "To Make Somebody Happy," "Cryin'," and "Water on the Ground," are Clapton originals, which is a bit surprising since he never was a prolific songwriter, and those didn't get released until decades later.

Most of the songs were released on either the "Blues" or "Crossroads 2" albums. Three were not. "Fool's Paradise" is one of those. All through the 1970s, at least, Clapton usually had at least one spot in his concert set lists where one of his female backing vocalists could sing lead. This is one such song. Normally, I haven't included them because Clapton usually wasn't very engaged, or even left the stage altogether. But on this one he sings prominent backing vocals himself, and also plays some nice lead guitar.

The other two unreleased songs are the last two, "Tipitina" and "Standing Around Crying." The latter is a duet with blues great Muddy Waters recorded in concert a few years before Waters died. Unfortunately, the sound quality for these two is a lot rougher than all the others on the album. I hope you'll put up with it though, especially for the historic collaboration between Clapton and Waters.

Clapton recorded two versions of the blues classic "Before You Accuse Me" in the late 1970s, an acoustic version and an electric version. I've only included the acoustic version here because the electric one is very similar to the version he did for his 1989 album "Journeyman."

01 Before You Accuse Me [Acoustic Version] (Eric Clapton)
02 Kind Hearted Woman (Eric Clapton)
03 Fool's Paradise (Eric Clapton & Marcy Levy)
04 Loving You Is Sweeter than Ever (Eric Clapton)
05 To Make Somebody Happy (Eric Clapton)
06 Cryin' (Eric Clapton)
07 Water on the Ground (Eric Clapton)
08 Tipitina (Eric Clapton)
09 Standing Around Crying (Eric Clapton & Muddy Waters)

The album cover uses a photo of Clapton from Japan in November 1979.

The Velvet Underground - Ride in the Sun - Non-Album Tracks (1969-1970)

Okay, here's the last of my four stray tracks albums for the Velvet Underground. Once again, if you're a fan of the band at all, I strongly encourage you to get all four.

This one is probably the most interesting of all for those just have their studio albums, including "VU" and "Another View," because the songs here come from a wide variety of sources. Most have been officially released, but two have not.

The songs on the first half of the album were recorded in late 1969. The first two were recorded in September and October, then the next four were all recorded at the Matrix Club in November. The first two of those, "Sweet Bonnie Brown" and "It's Just Too Much," are unreleased soundcheck versions from that club.

I made a drastic edit to "Follow the Leader," to say the least. I cut a 17-minute-long song down to just three minutes! The reason is because the 17-minute version is pretty much a jam with the only vocals being in the three minute section I kept. I would be perfectly fine with the jamming except that the sound quality is poor. But since it's an original song by the band, I figured I should keep at least the vocal section for it. By the way, when Lou Reed finally recorded a version of this song for one of his solo albums, in 1976, he only did a two-minute-long version.

The last seven songs here (not counting the bonus track) were recorded in 1970. Most of them were recorded in April 1970, but "Love Makes You Feel Ten Feet Fall" is from July. This takes us right to when Lou Reed left the band, as he played the last concert with them in August. The group did soldier on for a while without him, but I'm not interested in that version of the band.

Although this comes from a variety of sources, when you put it together, I think it makes for another very solid album. Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that most of the songs on it eventually came out in different versions on Lou Reed's solo albums. In fact, eight of the ten songs on his first solo album in 1972 (cleverly titled "Lou Reed") were originally recorded by the Velvet Underground, and still more dribbled out on his solo albums through the rest of the 1970s. (Note that he changed the title of "Love Makes You Feel Ten Feet Tall" to just "Love Makes You Feel.")

The bonus track "Wild Child" is another song that he later put on a solo album. Unfortunately, the version here is just an acoustic version that's less than a minute long, as he was teaching the song to the other band members in the last month he was with the band. It is known the band played the song in concert, but no bootleg of that is known to exist. This recording also has rough sound quality, so between that and the very short length, it only makes it as a bonus track.

01 We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together (Velvet Underground)
02 Lisa Says (Velvet Underground)
03 Sweet Bonnie Brown (Velvet Underground)
04 It's Just Too Much (Velvet Underground)
05 Over You (Velvet Underground)
06 Follow the Leader [Edit] (Velvet Underground)
07 Ride into the Sun (Velvet Underground)
08 Oh Gin (Velvet Underground)
09 Walk and Talk It (Velvet Underground)
10 Sad Song (Velvet Underground)
11 Love Makes You Feel Ten Feet Tall (Velvet Underground)
12 Satellite of Love (Velvet Underground)
13 I Love You (Velvet Underground)

Wild Child [Acoustic Rehearsal] (Velvet Underground)

Most of the album cover art comes from a Velvet Underground concert poster for a concert at the Hippodrome in San Diego in 1968. The art style is a bit out of fashion for 1970, but not that far off. I removed the central part of the poster (which named the supporting bands) and replaced it with a photo of the band from 1970, and check out the "groovy" clothes they're wearing. I resized the rectangular poster to make it squish into a square space, and I added a background color, plus the album title at the bottom.

The Velvet Underground - Found in All the Nicest Homes - Non-Album Tracks (1969)

So far, I've posted two stray tracks albums for the Velvet Underground. I have two more to go, and I'm going to post them now. If you like the band at all, I strongly suggest you get all four.

This album deals with songs the Velvet Underground recorded in 1969 that weren't released at the time. But they were so prolific that year, that in addition to the album they did release in March, cleverly titled "The Velvet Underground," the composed and recorded all the songs here, as well as half of the songs on the next stray tracks album.

Most of these songs were officially released in the 1980s on the albums "VU" and "Another View." But I'm not a fan of those albums because they're a hodge-podge chronologically (including some 1968 songs from the John Cale era), and there's no real logic as to what got on "VU" compared to "Another View." Instead, I've carefully organized all the songs here by the month they were recorded. I've also added one song, "I'm Sticking with You," that isn't on either of those official albums.

Pretty much all the songs here were recorded in May or June of 1969. The exceptions are "I'm Gonna Move Right In" and "One of These Days," which were recorded in September 1969. Plus, I'm not sure what month that year "Countess from Hong Kong" was recorded. I've put "I'm Sticking with You" at the end of the album even though that messes with the chronological order a bit, because it's a Maureen Tucker-sung song that's ideal to close the album, in the exact same way her vocals on "After Hours" closes the 1969 "Velvet Underground" album.

These are a strong bunch of songs, and every VU fan should have them. It's a real puzzler why they weren't released at the time. They had signed a two-record deal with a record company, and "The Velvet Underground" released in early 1969 was the first album for that deal. As the months passed, the record company soured on them due to low sales, and dropped them from the label. The bummer is that instead of simply recording these songs for their new record company, they gave up on all but two of them. Only "I'm Sticking with You" and "Ocean" were rerecorded in 1970 for possible included on the "Loaded" album, and neither of them made the final cut.

This album is 43 minutes long, not including the bonus track.

UPDATE: On May 24, 2023, I added the bonus track, "I'm Gonna Move Right In." This is a very obscure original. It was probably only played a handful of times in concert, and apparently was never recorded in the studio. This unreleased version, from a concert in Boston in January 1969, is the only half-decent sounding version of it. I cleaned it up a lot, boosting the lead vocals especially, but it still sounds rough.

01 Foggy Notion (Velvet Underground)
02 Andy's Chest (Velvet Underground)
03 Coney Island Steeplechase (Velvet Underground)
04 I Can't Stand It (Velvet Underground)
05 She's My Best Friend (Velvet Underground)
06 Ocean [Early Version] (Velvet Underground)
07 Ferryboat Bill (Velvet Underground)
08 I'm Gonna Move Right In (Velvet Underground)
09 One of These Days (Velvet Underground)
10 Countess from Hong Kong (Velvet Underground)
11 I'm Sticking with You (Velvet Underground)

I'm Gonna Move Right In (Velvet Underground)

The album title I've chosen needs some explanation, since it has nothing to do with any of the song titles or even the song lyrics in general. I was looking for something good for the cover art, and didn't find anything. Then I luckily stumbled across an ad the band's record company made to sell their records in Australia in 1970. It's basically exactly the cover as presented here. I did a little touching up and cropped out some text below the band name that described and promoted their albums. I don't know who came up with this artwork and if any band members were involved, but it seems perfect for an album cover. I'm also happy because I was struggling to come up with a good name for the album, and the artwork made that a no-brainer.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Neil Young - Winter Winds - Non-Album Tracks (1980-1981)

Generally speaking, the 1980s weren't good for Neil Young and his music. Only at the tail end of the decade did he seem to fully recover his musical mojo. I'm going to cover this period of music with some song collections. But I don't feel his albums from about 1980 to 1987 are strong enough to regularly listen to from start to finish. So I'm going to make some albums that use every good song I can get my hands on from that time, from album tracks to unreleased stuff.

This album deals with the years 1980 and 1981. Young was on top of the world all through the 1970s, including his 1979 album "Rust Never Sleeps," which was a hit both critically and commercially. Then came "Hawks and Doves" in 1980 and "Re-ac-tor" in 1981. They were big disappointments, and his sales plummeted.

I think two things happened. One, it wasn't widely known at the time since he didn't publicly talk about it then, but we have since learned that he had a son recently born with cerebral palsy, and taking care of his son's medical issues took up a great deal of his time and energy for a few years. Two, he probably was tired of playing the music business game after being all-in with it for more than a decade. This happens to musicians from time to time. For instance, Van Morrison pretty much halted his music career for all of 1976 and 1977. As a reflection of this, Young only played one full concert between 1978 and 1982, which was an unusually long break for him.

Just look at the photo of him that I've selected for the album cover. It comes from the one concert he did in those years, in October 1980. With his uncharacteristic beard and distant stare, he looks like a guy who was seen some serious shit.

"Hawks and Doves" and "Re-ac-tor" are not good albums.  One can tell he simply didn't put much effort in them. One clue for this is that "Hawks and Doves" is slightly less than 30 minutes long. Another clue is that he reached back to songs recorded years earlier to fill out both albums. (He had a record contract that required him to release at least one album of new material per year.) Unfortunately, he had all sorts of great songs in the can at the time, many of which still haven't officially come out, and he made some puzzling choices over which older songs to include. I'm not including them here because those older songs he did include, like "Captain Kennedy" and "The Old Homestead," belong with 1970s collections, in my opinion.

For many people, including me, the nadir is the 1981 song "T-Bone," which is nine minutes long and repeats one line, "Got mashed potato, ain't got no T-bone" over and over." A vocal minority consider the song as some kind of raw minimalist genius, but I strongly disagree. He was just padding his records out to fulfill his record contract. He would have done better to not release any new music at all if he didn't feel it, or he could have padded his records out with more great unreleased songs from the 1970s.

The good news is, his 1980 and 1981 music isn't all bad, and he actually did some very good songs during this time. It's just that only about half the songs from both "Hawks and Doves" and "Re-ac-tor" are up to his usual standards. So I've chosen my favorites from both. I've looked at social media posts about both albums, and there seems to be broad agreement about which songs are the strongest. I especially like three songs on "Re-act-or": "Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze," "Southern Pacific," and "Shots."

In addition to the songs from those two albums, I've included three songs that haven't been officially released at all. "Winter Winds," also known as "Turbine," is an original song that was only played once, at that lone 1980 concert he did. Unfortunately, the sound quality isn't that great, but we have to make do, since he only did it that one time and we're lucky to have any recording of it at all. I used an audio editing program to boost the vocals some, though one can only do so much. Hopefully, it sounds better than ever before. It's a real shame this wasn't included on "Hawks and Doves," Since its sole concert appearance happened before that album release and that album was so short, but that's Neil Young for you. He makes a lot of head scratching choices.

"I Wonder Why" is a very nice original from 1981. It's so good that it's frustrating he didn't release it at the time, considering some duds he puts on his albums then. I'm guessing it was written too late for "Hawks and Doves," and didn't fit with the rocking sound of "Re-ac-tor." It didn't fit the sonic themes of his next couple albums either, so it probably got forgotten after a while.

"Baby What You Want Me to Do" is a cover of the blues classic. It was recorded live in New York City in early 1981, when he showed up for a Mike Bloomfield tribute concert and played a couple of songs. Even though it's not his song, he sounds engaged with his singing and guitar playing.

The music here totals up to 46 minutes, which is a good length for an album. Instead of two weak albums, I think you end up with one that's pretty solid. The only down side is that the country "Hawks and Doves" songs sound pretty different from the rocking "Re-ac-tor" songs, which he recorded with Crazy Horse. But still, if you've shied away from his early 1980s stuff, give this a try.

By the way, I consider "Coastline" from "Hawks and Doves" to be a pretty decent song. But I didn't include it, because there's a version from 1983 that I like better, and that will show up later.

01 Union Man (Neil Young)
02 Comin' Apart at Every Nail (Neil Young)
03 Hawks and Doves (Neil Young)
04 Winter Winds [Turbine] (Neil Young)
05 I Wonder Why (Neil Young)
06 Opera Star (Neil Young)
07 Surfer Joe and Moe the Sleaze (Neil Young)
08 Southern Pacific (Neil Young)
09 Rapid Transit (Neil Young)
10 Shots (Neil Young)
11 Baby What You Want Me to Do (Neil Young)

For the album cover, I explained above about the photo I chose. I'm lucky that it's an interesting photo, because it's the only one I could find of him that definitely is from 1980 or 1981. For the text, I deliberately chose the same font, color, and lower case style as the text on "Re-act-or."

Sheryl Crow - Sweet Little Rock and Roller - Non-Album Tracks (1999-2001)

Here's the next in a long line of Sheryl Crow stray tracks albums.

In 1999, Crow put on a big concert with lots of famous guest stars, and released a live album of it called "Sheryl Crow and Friends Live from Central Park." Unfortunately, it wasn't very good. The performances seemed stilted and the concept came across as contrived. Luckily, it turns out there was a rehearsal the day before, and there's a soundboard of it that sounds as good as studio recordings. Four of the first five songs here come from that. Two of them, "Sweet Little Rock and Roller" and "Angel," didn't actually made the official album. The other one, "Highway 61 Revisited," definitely sounds better with this version. "White Room" is explained further below.

Most of the rest of this album are the usual cover songs from soundtracks and other various artists compilations. All but one of the rest are officially released. And that one, "Time Has Come Today," is from a TV show appearance and sounds as good as an official release.

I've said before that I generally prefer Crow's stray track albums to her regular studio albums. This is a good case in point for that.  With I think one exception, "Kiss that Girl," all the songs are covers, and the vast majority are classic songs. This isn't a creative masterpiece; it's just another bunch of songs that she sings and plays very well.

This album is 51 minutes long.

UPDATE: On November 11, 2021, I updated the mp3 download file. I added the song "White Room." This song is on her 1999 live album "Sheryl Crow and Friends Live from Central Park." But that version is mainly an Eric Clapton showcase, with him singing much of it and soloing all over it. By contrast, this version was recorded during the rehearsals for that concert, but Clapton wasn't there for this song, so Crow sang the whole thing.

01 White Room (Sheryl Crow)
02 Tombstone Blues (Sheryl Crow,  Natalie Maines, Chrissie Hynde & Sarah McLachlan)
03 Little Wing (Eric Clapton & Sheryl Crow with David Sanborn)
04 Sweet Little Rock and Roller [Edit] (Sheryl Crow & Keith Richards)
05 Angel (Sarah McLachlan & Sheryl Crow)
06 Run Rudolph Run (Sheryl Crow)
07 Time Has Come Today (Steve Earle & Sheryl Crow)
08 Honky Tonk Women (Sheryl Crow & Pat Benatar)
09 Kiss that Girl (Sheryl Crow)
10 Behind Blue Eyes (Sheryl Crow)
11 Who Will the Next Fool Be (Sheryl Crow)
12 Mother Nature's Son (Sheryl Crow)
13 Long Gone Lonesome Blues (Sheryl Crow)

For the cover art, I used a photo of Crow in 2001. I edited the background to make it less distracting.

Mary Chapin Carpenter - Dancing in the Dark - Non-Album Tracks (1996-1998)

I've gotten a pretty good reaction in comments from the previous Mary Chapin Carpenter stray tracks albums I've posted, so I'll post this next one sooner rather than later.

For everyone: if you haven't heard her version of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark," you should download this just to listen to that one song. Springsteen does it as a fast-paced mindless dance song, wheres Carpenter slows it way down and completely transforms it into a ballad. In the new form, you can easily pay attention to the lyrics, which turn out to be very different than they seemed at a casual glance. It's a brilliant cover. it's a real shame it only appeared as an obscure B-side.

The other songs are all solid too. Frankly, it frustrates me that these are all non-album tracks, because her career momentum sputtered when she didn't release a new album between 1996 and 1999, and even then her new album was a greatest hits of sorts. This shows she had the songs for another album by 1998, at least, and this is just what we know about. There probably is more in her private vaults.

Another frustration is that she didn't put out her cover of Van Morrison's "Real Real Gone" in any form whatsoever. This is a bootleg of a live version. It really cooks. I put "edit" in the title because she talks over the entire intro, but I managed to remove her words by piecing together the underlying music from various places that it repeats elsewhere in the song.

I'm guessing she didn't want to put out an album with something similar to this bunch of songs because most of them are covers. That's another shame, because I don't have any problem with covers if they're done well. There are some nice originals here though, such as her song "Dead Man Walking," which was done for the movie of the same name.

"Real Real Gone" is the only unreleased song here, so the sound quality maintains a high standard throughout.

01 Real Real Gone [Edit] (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
02 Dead Man Walking [A Dream like This] (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
03 Wishing (Mary Chapin Carpenter & Kevin Montgomery)
04 I'll Never Fall in Love Again (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
05 Somewhere Down Below the Mason-Dixon Line (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
06 Pretty Polly (Darol Anger & Mary Chapin Carpenter)
07 It's Only Love (Mary Chapin Carpenter & Randy Scruggs)
08 Oh Lonesome Me (Mary Chapin Carpenter with Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins)
09 Dancing in the Dark (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

The cover art photo comes from a 1996 concert.

Rosanne Cash - Land of Dreams - Non-Album Tracks (2012-2013)

In my opinion, Rosanne Cash can pretty much do no wrong. Anything she sings, I like. So here's another album of her stray tracks. This one just covers the years 2012 and 2013.

There's a fairly wide variety of songs here, but they're all tied together by Cash's voice. I think a few of the songs are originals. For instance, "Land of Dreams," a song she was commissioned to write and sing by the US government for a commercial to promote tourism to the US, believe it or not. But most of the songs are covers, including "Biloxi," my favorite Jesse Winchester song, and two songs made famous by Woody Guthrie ("I Ain't Got No Home" and "Pretty Boy Floyd").

All of the songs are officially released this time around, though they come from all sorts of different sources. One song, "Jim and George," which I think is another original, even comes from an extremely hard to find Internet-only download for a local charity. But the bottom line is that all the songs have great sound quality.

01 Lonesome River (Rosanne Cash)
02 Land of Dreams (Rosanne Cash with Los Lobos & Bebel Gilberto)
03 Look at Me (Rosanne Cash)
04 Biloxi (Rosanne Cash)
05 Sister to Sister (Rosanne Cash)
06 As Close as I Came to Being Right (Rhett Miller & Rosanne Cash)
07 Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Willie Nelson & Rosanne Cash)
08 You Don't Know Me (Rosanne Cash)
09 I Ain't Got No Home (Rosanne Cash)
10 Pretty Boy Floyd (Rosanne Cash)
11 Jim and George (Rosanne Cash)

For the cover art, I found a publicity photo of Cash from 2012. She was standing against a white wall, which I thought was boring, so I added a more interesting background.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Peter Case - Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach, CA, 11-11-1992

Here's something that's really obscure, but really good. I downloaded this ten years ago or more. I'm very glad that I did, because I Googled this the other day, and I couldn't find a single mention on the Internet of this concert even existing. I hope I can bring it back from the dead.

A couple of days ago, I posted an album by the Plimsouls. Peter Case was their lead singer and main songwriter. But while the Pimsouls were a rocking "power pop" or "new wave" band, it turns out that Case had a strong folkie streak inside him. In fact, he spent a good part of the 1970s as a wandering busker, playing mostly blues and traditional songs on the streets. When the Plimsouls broke up in 1984, he reverted into more of a singer songwriter mode.

This concert from 1992 finds him going even further, stripping down to just solo acoustic mode. It happened a few months before his 1993 album "Peter Case Sings Like Hell," which is sol acoustic performances of traditional folk and blues songs. It's my favorite solo album of his. You should definitely check it out. Although this is very much in the same vein, most of the songs are different. This generally looks back on his previous albums, and even includes a version of his Plimsouls hit "A Million Miles Away," but they sound transformed by the solo acoustic format.

As far as sound quality goes, this can't get any better. At one point in his between song banter, he mentioned that the concert was being recorded for a live album that probably would never come out. He was right about that, because no such album came out! But that indicates the recording was done by Case himself or his record company, and somehow slipped out as a bootleg.

I didn't have to make many sonic tweaks, but I did put his many comments between songs on separate tracks. Oh yeah, I also cut out some guitar tuning between songs. I also fixed the song titles for many of the songs from the original bootleg I got this from. Even the location needed fixing (It's "Solana Beach," not "Solano Beach.")

Unfortunately, I don't expect a lot of people will download this, because Case's solo career has been pretty low profile. So I'm going to use a Yandex link for the mp3 download, since those never expire. But if you do give this a listen, it shows you have very good taste in music. ;)

The concert is just short of an hour and a half long. About twenty minutes of that is the talking between songs.

01 talk (Peter Case)
02 Blind Luck (Peter Case)
03 talk (Peter Case)
04 The Lakes of Ponchatrain (Peter Case)
05 talk (Peter Case)
06 Walk in the Woods (Peter Case)
07 talk (Peter Case)
08 Never Comin' Home (Peter Case)
09 Walkin' Bum (Peter Case)
10 talk (Peter Case)
11 Space Monkey (Peter Case)
12 talk (Peter Case)
13 Power, Lust and Money (Peter Case)
14 talk (Peter Case)
15 Why (Peter Case)
16 talk (Peter Case)
17 A Little Wind [Could Blow Me Away] (Peter Case)
18 Vanishing Act (Peter Case)
19 talk (Peter Case)
20 I Dream about You (Peter Case)
21 talk (Peter Case)
22 A Million Miles Away (Peter Case)
23 Echo Wars (Peter Case)
24 talk (Peter Case)
25 Travelin' Light (Peter Case)
26 talk (Peter Case)
27 Rovin' Gambler (Peter Case)
28 talk (Peter Case)
29 Beyond the Blues (Peter Case)
30 Dreams We Hide (Peter Case)
31 talk (Peter Case)
32 Christmas Rag (Peter Case)
33 talk (Peter Case)
34 I Shook His Hand (Peter Case)

Sadly, Case's solo career has been so unappreciated that I couldn't find any good photo of him from 1992 or even near 1992. I had to use a photo from 1987 for the cover art. If you know of a good photo from around 1992, please let me know and I'll update the cover.

Pink Floyd - Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA, 4-29-1970

For a band like Pink Floyd that's known for the pristine sound on their albums, you'd think there would be lots of pristine recordings of their concerts. But that's surprisingly not the case. There are very few multitrack concert recordings from them (which usually sound the best), and not many more soundboard recordings, at least in terms of what has been made publicly available, officially or through bootlegs.

So this concert of Pink Floyd playing the Fillmore West in San Francisco in April 1970 needs to be treasured, due to be an excellent performance and excellent sound quality. Furthermore, none of it was used for the box set "The Early Years." That's probably because just one day earlier, the band played about an hour of music at the Fillmore when it was empty for a local PBS station, PBS. The video footage of that is included in the box set, and they probably didn't include this because the set list is very similar. But the KQED performance was slightly less than one hour, whereas this is over two hours.

By the way, I'm pretty sure the reason this sounds so good is because KQED recorded it as well. I just did a little Googling, and found that KQED brought a mobile recording unit to the Fillmore to record their show without an audience, for maximum sound clarity. They probably just kept the unit there and recorded the show with the audience too. This guess is strengthened by the fact that the KQED producers even went to a Pink Floyd concert the next week in Los Angeles and recorded that in hopes of getting more footage to use.

So there are definitely no complaints from me about the sound, except for one thing: the audience noise at the end of most songs. For whatever reason, it turned out that a lot of those were messed up. Some were simply cut off in the middle of the audience reaction. Others were extremely quiet. So I did some editing to make sure there's a proper audience response after each song (except when the band went straight into the next song). In some cases, I patched in clapping from the end of a different song, such as when the audience noise got abruptly cut off.

I made another major kind of edit as well, and that was to get rid of some of the "dead air" between songs. It turns out there was a lot of noodling and/or tuning between some songs. I probably cut about five minutes of that. But, as always, I was careful not to cut any of the actual speaking between songs. (By the way, I believe all the talking is done by Roger Waters.) I also sometimes adjusted the volume of the talking, as the speaker might be too close or too far from the microphone.

Anyway, the songs are great, and while there was some issues between the songs, I believe I've fixed all that, so it should sound great all the way through. If you want just one pre-"Dark Side of the Moon" concert from them, you should make it this one.

01 Granchester Meadows (Pink Floyd)
02 Astronomy Domine (Pink Floyd)
03 talk (Pink Floyd)
04 Cymbaline (Pink Floyd)
05 talk (Pink Floyd)
06 Atom Heart Mother (Pink Floyd)
07 Embryo (Pink Floyd)
08 talk (Pink Floyd)
09 Green Is the Colour (Pink Floyd)
10 Careful with that Axe, Eugene (Pink Floyd)
11 Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun (Pink Floyd)
12 talk (Pink Floyd)
13 A Saucerful of Secrets [Instrumental] (Pink Floyd)
14 talk (Pink Floyd)
15 Interstellar Overdrive [Instrumental] (Pink Floyd)

For the album cover art, I found a concert poster of the band playing at the Fillmore in late 1967. (Apparently, the concert got cancelled.) I liked the art, so I decided to use it. But I had to make a lot of changes and additions to the text, including changing "Fillmore" to "Fillmore West."

The Red Hot Chili Peppers - Save the Population - Non-Album Tracks (2003-2005)

Here's the next of my Red Hot Chili Peppers stray tracks collections. I think it's a particularly strong one.

The first song here, "Save the Population," was released on their "Greatest Hits" album in 2003, and was a minor hit. As I explained with my last post on this band, around 2002, they recorded enough material for a new album. However, all but four of the 16 songs from those recording sessions have remained unreleased and even unbootlegged. (The four are "Save the Population," "Fortune Faded," "Bicycle Song," and "Runaway." The first one is here, and the other three are on my previous stray tracks album for them.) One band member has said that he hopes this lost album will be released someday.

What's remarkable is that even if you take away all but the four released songs from that lost album, the band had enough material for two more albums in this time period! My last stray tracks album I posted for them mostly comes from 2002, and this one mostly comes from 2003 and 2004. The majority of the songs here are originals. I think the only ones that aren't are "Havana Affair," "I Just Want to Have Something to Do," "Black Cross," and "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)."

Also, the vast majority of songs here are live recordings. But one of those live tracks is from a B-side, and four others are from two different live albums. So there are only two songs that are officially unreleased. Both of them sound as good as the rest.

I made a rather severe edit for the song "Tuesday Night in Berlin." The original version is 14 minutes long. I cut that down to a "mere" nine minutes, because I thought the original had some meandering parts that went on too long.

The band played a large number of cover songs in these years. However, the vast majority of these would either just be guitarist John Frusciante playing solo and/or only doing a snippet of a minute or less. I didn't include any of those.  I did include the few instances when they played a cover song all the way through as a band.

I end this album with "Under the Bridge." Of course, that's one of their best known songs, from 1991. The reason I put that here is because this is a semi-acoustic version with great sound quality. It's different enough from their usual version that I figure it's worth hearing.

01 Save the Population (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
02 Tuesday Night in Berlin [Edit] (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
03 Bunker Hill (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
04 Havana Affair (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
05 I Just Want to Have Something to Do (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
06 Brandy [You're a Fine Girl] (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
07 Rolling Sly Stone (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
08 Leverage of Space (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
09 Black Cross (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
10 Mini-Epic [Kill For Your Country] (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
11 Under the Bridge [Acoustic Band Version] (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

For the album cover, I Googled the band's name and "Save the Population," and found that someone else, howdoyoudoaninternet, had made a cover for an imagined album of that title. It looks fine to me, and it saves me from having to make one, so that's what I have here. I brightened it up some.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Robyn Hitchcock - Nothing Makes Me Cry - Non-Album Tracks (2006-2009)

Robyn Hitchcock is so damn prolific. I feel like I've been posting his albums more frequently than any other artist, and yet I still have over 10 years to go to get to the present day with him. Here's another stray tracks collection, this time covering the years 2006 to 2009.

Hitchcock has had a habit of making up songs on the spot in concert, often in response to some words someone in the audience shouts out that he finds intriguing. Looking over his career, I've noticed that he mostly stopped doing that around this time. I think that has to do with the rise of cell phones, and people recording everything. It makes you think twice if you feel that everything is being recorded. Anyway, that means that more of the songs here are properly planned songs, so that makes this a more consistent listening experience than some previous stray tracks albums.

The sound quality is really good as well. Three of the songs are unreleased and come from concert bootlegs. But they sound good too. "Hungry for Love," a fun duet between Hitchcock and Nick Lowe of a 1963 hit by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, sounds a bit rougher than the rest, but it's not too bad. By the way, I think that song is the only cover here.

"Beyond Basingstoke" is kind of Hitchcock's "Revolution 9" - a weird sound collage. The original version ran over 12 minutes. I didn't like the beginning and ending parts of it, which I thought were fairly boring. So I've edited it down to six minutes.

One song did sound notably rougher than the rest, a medley of "Wild Goose" and "New York Gals." So I've demoted that down to only being a bonus track.

01 I Wish I Was Doing This (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 Damaged Limitation If Only (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Embryo Twirl (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 Underground Sun (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 Painkiller Song (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 I Declare that We Are Free (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Hungry for Love (Robyn Hitchcock & Nick Lowe)
08 America [New Version] (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Beyond Basingstoke [Edit] (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 I Just Wanna Be Loved (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 Nothing Makes Me Cry (Robyn Hitchcock)

Wild Goose - New York Gals (Robyn Hitchcock)

For the cover art, I found a concert poster from 2006. I removed some text at the bottom and replaced that with the album title. I also made some drastic edits to make the rectangular poster fit into a square shape. Also, the poster was just black on a plain white background, and that didn't seem right to me for Hitchcock, so I added a little color in the background. Okay, I added a lot of color. ;)

Various Artists - Covered: Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Volume 2: 1964-1977

I just posted Volume 1 of my Covered series collection of the best songs by the songwriter team Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. I'm wasting no time in posting the second and final volume.

I pretty much explained the basics of who Barry and Greenwich are in my first post, so please refer to that. (By the way, as I write this, Barry is still alive, while Greenwich died in 2009.) In short, this songwriting team had its heyday in 1963 and 1964, when they had dozens of hits. This volume catches the tail end of that.

Unfortunately, Barry and Greenwich were married in 1962, but they divorced in 1966. They continued to work together through the late 1960s, but more as producers instead of songwriters. The vast majority of the songs here come from after their split, and they find Barry and Greenwich either writing solo or with other songwriting partners.

As I mentioned in my notes for volume 1, the two of them were experts at a very poppy sound, and they were most successful when the "Girl Group" trend was big. Changing musical tastes made it harder for them to have success with this sound. They continued to have production success in the late 1960s with musicians still using that earlier poppy sound, such as Neil Diamond, the Monkees, and the Archies. But those acts didn't actually use many songs written by Barry and/or Greenwich, whith the notable exception of "Sugar, Sugar," which was one of the biggest hits of 1969. I've used a version by Wilson Pickett instead of the more familiar Archies version, because the Archies version is so sweet and poppy, as well as overplayed, that some people can't stand it.

In the 1970s, musical tastes continued to change, moving even further away from the kind of songs that Barry and Greenwich were so talented at writing. Thus it's not surprising that their chart success continued to peter out. Some of their later hits were actually written earlier. For instance, "Sunshine After the Rain" was a big hit for Elkie Brooks in 1977, but it first appeared on a Greenwich solo album in 1966 (one of only two solo album she did, by the way).

They did have some other successes that I didn't include her beyond the 1970s, mostly in the country music field. I didn't include any of those songs because I thought they weren't strong enough.

01 People Say (Dixie Cups)
02 Don't Ever Leave Me (Connie Francis)
03 Out in the Streets (Shangri-Las)
04 You Don't Know (Ellie Greenwich)
05 The Train from Kansas City (Shangri-Las)
06 River Deep, Mountain High (Ike & Tina Turner)
07 I'm Nobody's Baby Now (Reparata & the Delrons)
08 Friday Kind of Monday (Meantime)
09 How'd We Ever Get This Way (Andy Kim)
10 I Can Hear Music (Beach Boys)
11 Long Time Comin' (Bimbi Worrick)
12 Sugar Sugar (Wilson Pickett)
13 I'm in Love (Archies)
14 Montego Bay (Bobby Bloom)
15 Heavy Makes You Happy [Sha-Na-Boom-Boom] (Staple Singers)
16 I Honestly Love You (Olivia Newton-John)
17 Sunshine After the Rain (Elkie Brooks)

I continue to be frustrated finding good color photos of songwriters, especially songwriter teams, where I want to catch them together. I did find some color photos of Barry and Greenwich, post-2000, when they were accepting various awards. But they were showing their age by then, and that was far removed in time from 1977 and earlier.

The best I could do was find some photos of them at some undetermined earlier time period, and put the photos together. The Greenwich portion of the photo comes from 1988. I'm not sure when the Barry portion was taken, but he looks younger than he did in those awards appearances I mentioned earlier. So this cover art is kind of Frankensteined together. Don't look at it too closely! ;) Hopefully, it's pass until something better comes along. There must be some color photos of them together somewhere.

Various Artists - Covered: Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, Volume 1: 1960-1964

The Covered series continues, looking at the best songs from the best songwriters of all time who didn't record their own songs. This time, it's the songwriting team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. Clearly, they're one of the best and most famous songwriting teams. Rolling Stone magazine put out a list of the top 500 rock songs of all time, and there were six Barry and Greenwich songs on it, more than any other non-performers.

I don't want to recap the entire lives and careers of Barry and Greenwich. So here are some Wikipedia links if you want to learn more:

But in brief, Barry and Greenwich began songwriting separately in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They had a few minor successes. Then they married in late 1960s and began songwriting together, and they really took off. Their banner years were 1963 and 1964. In 1964 alone, they had 17 songs on the US singles charts. Unfortunately, their marriage began falling apart in 1965, and they got divorced in 1966. They continued to work together through the end of the 1960s, but more as producers than songwriters. (They were very successful producers as well.)

I found enough songs that I like to fill two albums of about 50 minutes of music each. This one documents the first half of their career. The first couple of songs were written by either Barry or Greenwich, and some of the other songs had additional co-writers (especially producer Phil Spector). But the vast majority of these are Barry-Greenwich songs.

As you can tell if you give this a listen, Barry and Greenwich specialized in a poppy "Girl Group" sound. In fact, they pretty much dominated the Girl Group genre as long as it lasted, and they worked with most of the major artists in that genre.

By the way, one girl group, the Raindrops, was really just Barry and Greenwich, with Greenwich doing the lead vocals. They had a couple of hits in 1963, and then put out an album to support them.  Since they were supposed to be a girl group, they had Greenwich's younger sister appear in promo photos with them. When they played the occasional concert, the sister sometimes showed up and sang into a dead microphone!

01 Tell Laura I Love Her (Ricky Valance)
02 Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Heart (Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans)
03 Be My Baby (Ronettes)
04 [Today I Met] The Boy I'm Gonna Marry (Darlene Love)
05 He's Got the Power (Exciters)
06 Hanky Panky (Tommy James & the Shondells)
07 Da Doo Ron Ron [When He Walked Me Home] (Crystals)
08 Christmas [Baby Please Come Home] (Darlene Love)
09 I Have a Boyfriend (Chiffons)
10 Look of Love (Lesley Gore)
11 Baby, I Love You (Ronettes)
12 The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget (Raindrops)
13 Then He Kissed Me (Crystals)
14 Leader of the Pack (Shangri-Las)
15 Another Boy like Mine (Raindrops)
16 Maybe I Know (Lesley Gore)
17 Do Wah Diddy Diddy (Manfred Mann)
18 Chapel of Love (Dixie Cups)
19 I Wanna Love Him So Bad (Jelly Beans)

Sigh. I get so frustrated trying to find any color photos of some of these songwriters. I found one low-res color photo of Jeff Barry in the 1960s, and that's it. So I've had to resort to using a black and white one, which I colorized. I believe it dates from around 1963.

Led Zeppelin - Fillmore West, San Francisco, CA, 4-27-1969

I recently posted a bunch of Led Zeppelin BBC albums. But I'm still going through a Zep kick, so here's some more.

As I've mentioned previously, the number of truly excellent sounding Led Zeppelin concert recordings is relatively small, in my opinion. It certainly is small in comparison to the huge interest and sheer number of bootlegs. There are a handful of recorded shows that tower above the rest, and this is one of them. Outside of the BBC stuff I posted, this has to be the best sounding concert of theirs from 1969, and their performance is pretty great as well.

The show is almost two hours long. It contains all the usual suspects you'd expect from a 1969 concert by them, such as "Communication Breakdown" and "Dazed and Confused." But it contains some interesting rare choices as well. It starts with probably the best sounding recording of the Yardbirds song "Train Kept A-Rollin'." It also has "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" and "The Lemon Song" (actually the blues song "Killing Floor"), which were on Zeppelin albums, but few excellent sounding live versions survive. "Sittin' and Thinkin'" is a Buddy Guy song that they literally played only this one time. (I've included it on one of the Zeppelin stray tracks albums I made.) Plus, there's "Pat's Delight" which is a drum solo showcase for John Bonham, similar to "Moby Dick."

But probably the crown jewel of this show, and one of the best things they ever did live in my opinion, is their cover of "As Long as I Have You." This was a minor hit by Garnett Mimms in 1964, but Led Zeppelin totally transformed it, and supersized it into a long medley. I've included an edited version of this very performance on one of my stray tracks albums, which is 10 minutes long. But this concert contains the full 18-minute-long medley, and it's worth hearing it that way.

01 The Train Kept A-Rollin' (Led Zeppelin)
02 I Can't Quit You Baby (Led Zeppelin)
03 talk (Led Zeppelin)
04 As Long as I Have You - Fresh Garbage - Bag's Groove - I'm a Man - No Money Down - As Long as I Have You (Led Zeppelin)
05 You Shook Me (Led Zeppelin)
06 How Many More Times - The Hunter - Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush - How Many More Times (Led Zeppelin)
07 Communication Breakdown (Led Zeppelin)
08 The Lemon Song [Killing Floor] (Led Zeppelin)
09 Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (Led Zeppelin)
10 talk (Led Zeppelin)
11 Sittin' and Thinkin' (Led Zeppelin)
12 Pat's Delight [Instrumental] (Led Zeppelin)
13 talk (Led Zeppelin)
11 Dazed and Confused (Led Zeppelin)

The album cover art is pretty weird at first glance. Why the avocado with eyes?! That's because this is a cropped version of the concert poster for the series of Fillmore West shows that this concert comes from. I made a few changes to get the rectangular poster art to fit into a square space. Most bootlegs use the same artwork, which is why one of the most popular ones is known as the "Dancing Avocado." Let's just say that rock concert posters were weird and interesting back then. ;)

The Plimsouls - Zero Hour - Expanded Version (1980)

In my last post, I expanded an EP by R.E.M. into a full album. I'm doing it again here, but this time with the 1980 EP "Zero Hour" by the Plimsouls.

Are you familiar with the Plimsouls? They're best known for their 1983 hit "A Million Miles Away." But they're much more than a one-hit wonder. Even though they only put out two full albums before breaking up in 1984, they're one of my favorite 1980s bands.What really makes them stand out is the songwriting and singing of Peter Case, who went on to have a long career as a singer-songwriter.

The Plimsouls' first release was the "Zero Hour" EP in 1980, followed by full albums in 1981 and 1983. Their 1981 album, cleverly called "The Plimsouls," has been available for many years under the title "The Plimsouls... Plus," with this EP plus some other songs added to it. But there's enough material to expand the EP to a full album, adding a bunch of songs to it that all predate their 1981 album.

To start with, I go way back, all the way to 1976, when Case was part of a band called the Nerves. They weren't around long, and only put out one EP. They're best known for the song "Hanging on the Telephone," which became a hit when Blondie covered it. But the Nerves were a band with three songwriters, and "Hanging on the Telephone" was written or sung by Case, so I'm not including it here. Instead, I've included "When You Find Out," the only song on that Nerves EP written and sung by Case. If you look further down the song list, you'll notice the Plimsouls did a version of this, but only as an instrumental. They're different enough versions for me to include both.

The next two songs are by the Breakaways. The Breakaways only existed for a short time. They were co-lead by Case and Paul Collins, the guy in the Nerves who wrote "Hanging on the Telephone." I've only included two songs written and sung by Case. They broke up before they could officially release any music, but some of their stuff eventually came out decades later.

The rest of the album contains just the Plimsouls. The fourth song is an original that was recorded live in 1979. The next five songs are from the "Zero Hour" EP. That's followed by seven more songs, mostly from 1980. I believe "Memory" and "One Way Ticket" are originals.

The Plimsouls weren't really a "new wave" band like so many others in the early 1980s, though they were lumped in with that movement. As you can see from their choice of covers here, they proudly based their music on the rock and soul of the 1950s and 1960s, but then added their own creativity to make it something different. They do covers by James Brown ("Night Train"), Otis Redding ("I Can't Turn You Loose"), Elvis Presley ("Kid Creole"), and a Larry Williams song that was also done by the Beatles ("Dizzy Miss Lizzy").

Three of these extra songs are officially unreleased. But they all come from excellent bootlegs, probably soundboards, so I don't think you'll notice any difference in sound quality.

Altogether, the songs on this album add up to 43 minutes. That's an ideal album length, in my opinion. But what really makes this a worthy album are the originals songs. Even with this, the band's first music, I think the originals go toe-to-toe with the famous covers they did. The whole thing simply rocks.

01 When You Find Out (Nerves)
02 Radio Station (Breakaways)
03 House on the Hill (Breakaways)
04 Thing of the Past (Plimsouls)
05 Great Big World (Plimsouls)
06 Zero Hour [Original Version] (Plimsouls)
07 Hypnotized (Plimsouls)
08 How Long Will It Take (Plimsouls)
09 I Can't Turn You Loose (Plimsouls)
10 Memory (Plimsouls)
11 Night Train (Plimsouls)
12 One Way Ticket (Plimsouls)
13 Kid Creole (Plimsouls)
14 Dizzy Miss Lizzie (Plimsouls)
15 Hush, Hush (Plimsouls)
16 When You Find Out [Instrumental Version] (Plimsouls)

For the cover art, I've used the cover to the "Zero Hour" EP. Except that cover looked exceedingly boring, because they entire thing was in shades of grey. I've spiced it up by tinting the whole thing blue, and then colorizing some of the text red.