Thursday, April 30, 2020

Norah Jones - Home Concerts 3, New York City, 4-29-2020 (Willie Nelson Tribute)

As the coronavirus lockdown goes on, Norah Jones has really been killing it. She keeps putting on interesting mini-home concerts once or twice a week. Just yesterday, she did an extra special concert that was her most interesting one yet, in my opinion. On the date of country legend Willie Nelson's 87th birthday, she did a special Willie-Nelson-themed show. All the songs were written by Nelson, with the exception of one song, "Remember Me," which is a song Nelson covered on one of his albums.

This is a fairly short show at 27 minutes. I could have waited until she did another mini-concert and then bundled this one with that one. But I think it's good to present this on its own due to its consistent Willie Nelson theme. The vast majority of the songs are songs Jones hasn't officially released. (I do have her doing "Crazy" and "Funny How Time Slips Away" on earlier stray tracks albums I've put together, with the latter being a duet version with Nelson.)

The sound quality here is just fine. One exception is that she tends to talk very quietly between songs. But I was able to easily fix that by raising the volume on all those talking bits.

Finally, viva Willie Nelson, who as I write this in 2020, is still going strong musically at 87 years old!

01 Funny How Time Slips Away (Norah Jones)
02 talk (Norah Jones)
03 I Gotta Get Drunk (Norah Jones)
04 talk (Norah Jones)
05 Permanently Lonely (Norah Jones)
06 talk (Norah Jones)
07 Remember Me (Norah Jones)
08 talk (Norah Jones)
09 Crazy (Norah Jones)
10 talk (Norah Jones)
11 Night Life (Norah Jones)
12 talk (Norah Jones)
13 Hands on the Wheel (Norah Jones)

For the cover art, I could have gone with a screenshot of Jones playing these songs. But she doesn't really look any different than she did for the covers in the last two home concert albums of hers I've put together. So instead, I thought it was fitting to use a photo of Jones and Nelson together. The photo is from a concert appearance they did together in 2003.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Neil Finn - Home Concerts 3, Los Angeles, CA, 4-5-2020 to 4-7-2020

Neil Finn of Crowded House (and lately, Fleetwood Mac) has been so prolific with his home concerts in recent weeks that I'm going to need to post more from him just to keep up. So here's the third album compiling his daily home concerts.

But before I go any further, I need to address the elephant in Neil Finn's room. Are you familiar with the New Zealand TV sitcom "Flight of the Conchords?" It's very funny; I highly recommend it. Anyway, the musical duo starring in that show have a bumbling, meek manager named Murray, played by Rhys Darby. I swear, Neil Finn sounds EXACTLY like Murray! I'm only including Finn's songs and not his talking between songs, so you probably can't tell, but trust me on this. I even lived in New Zealand for a year, so I know it's not just the general Kiwi accent. Anyway, I just had to get that off my chest. Every time I listen to his home concerts and hear him talking, I have to laugh because I think it's Murray talking.

As far as this album goes, it's more of the same good stuff. Here are the cover versions he does:

Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
There Is a Light that Never Goes Out - Smiths
Homeward Bound - Simon & Garfunkel
Will You Love Me Tomorrow - Carole King / Shirelles
Throw Your Arms Around Me - Hunters and Collectors
Changes - David Bowie

That's not including songs from Finn's earlier bands, such as "Four Seasons in One Day," a Crowded House hit.

01 As Sure as I Am (Neil Finn)
02 Time Immemorial (Neil Finn)
03 Golden Child (Neil Finn with Sharon Finn)
04 Sweet Baby James (Neil Finn)
05 Four Seasons in One Day (Neil Finn)
06 Spirit of the Stairs (Neil Finn)
07 There Is a Light that Never Goes Out (Neil Finn with Johnny Marr)
08 Whispers and Moans (Neil Finn)
09 Love Is Emotional (Neil Finn)
10 Homeward Bound (Neil Finn)
11 Will You Love Me Tomorrow (Neil Finn)
12 Throw Your Arms Around Me (Neil Finn)
13 Won’t Give In (Neil Finn)
14 Log Cabin Fever (Neil Finn)
15 Changes (Neil Finn)
16 She Goes On (Neil Finn)

For the album cover art, I decided it would be nice to have a close-up photo of Finn's head. I couldn't find any really good recent ones, so this one is from about five years ago. But he looks pretty much exactly the same now, except for whiter hair.

Etta James - Montreux Jazz Festival, Casino de Montreux, Montreux, Switerland, 7-9-1977

In recent days I've been posting mostly acoustic music, generally from 2020 home concerts. I thought it's time for something a little more lively. Also, it seems I never get to post enough soul music. So here's a bootleg of a great Etta James concert from 1977.

I'm a big Etta James fan. She had a long career that started in the 1950s and ended with her death in 2012. But, in my opinion, her music was most vital in the 1960s and 1970s. She also was an impressive live performer. However, there's very little recorded live music from her 60s and 70s heyday. There's a wonderful live album from 1963 called "Rocks the House." If you don't have it and you like her music, you should get it. But that's it in terms of official releases, even including archival releases. When it comes to bootlegs as well, there's next to no live recordings from that era.

Luckily, there's one notable exception. Starting in 1975, she began playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. She didn't do it every year, but when she did, her set usually got professionally recorded and played on the local radio. This concert dates to 1977, mostly. The last song, a cover of "Take It to the Limit" by the Eagles, is from the 1978 festival, and is the only song from that show that I could find. If the website is correct, this is her entire 1977 performance. Her 1978 appearance largely had the same setlist, with "Take It to the Limit" as an exception, so we're lucky that one song has somehow made it to bootleg when the rest of the concert hasn't.

The sound quality on all of this is fantastic, as good as you'd expect from an official live album. For the original version of this concert that I posted, there were issues with the applause at the end of the songs, plus a lack of banter between songs. But I have since updated it with a better source that fixed those things. So, no worries. ;)

I'm going to end my comments here with a plea for help. As good as this 1977 concert is, I'm even more interested in having and sharing her 1975 appearance at Montreux. I've been able to find five songs from it. A video of four of the songs is on YouTube. But, in fact, she played 11 songs that year, a much longer set than her 1977 one. The entire 1975 concert was released in 2015 on an album simply called "1975," as you can see here:

But only a 1,000 copies of that were sold, and it quickly went out of print. I can't find it or buy it anywhere. I think that should be made more widely available. So if anyone has it and is willing to share it, please let me know. 

This 1977 concert is 57 minutes long, including the one song from 1978. I suspect the 1975 Montreux show is the one and only excellent concert recording of a full concert (meaning well over an hour) that we're ever likely to be able to hear. It also would be great to have because the 1975 and 1977 set lists are very different, with only two songs played at both shows.

Note that if you're a Randy Newman fan, it's a special treat that she does two Randy Newman songs here, "You Can Leave Your Hat On" and "Sail Away." She knocks them out of the park.

UPDATE: On October 29, 2020, I was contacted by Dave Lowrey. He says he actually played bass during this concert! He shared a slightly better version of the concert. Most of it was exactly the same, including the same sound quality. But it had one song that had been missed, "I'd Rather Go Blind." It also had all the banter between songs, and the proper audience reactions after each song. That added 12 minutes to the length of the album. Furthermore, I was able to fix the location of one of the songs. ("Tell Mama" started the concert instead of ended it.) So thank you very much, Mr. Lowrey!

01 Tell Mama (Etta James)
02 talk (Etta James)
03 I'd Rather Go Blind (Etta James)
04 Groove Me (Etta James)
05 talk (Etta James)
06 At Last - Trust in Me (Etta James)
07 A Sunday Kind of Love (Etta James)
08 talk (Etta James)
09 You Can Leave Your Hat On (Etta James)
10 talk (Etta James)
11 Sail Away (Etta James)
12 Rock Me Baby (Etta James)
13 talk (Etta James)
14 Take It to the Limit (Etta James)

The photo comes from the actual concert in question, I'm happy to say.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Melissa Etheridge - Bruce Springsteen Tribute - Home Concert, Los Angeles, CA, 4-24-2020

You know who has been remarkably musically prolific during the coronavirus lockdown? Neil Finn on Crowded House. He's been putting on a mini-concert at home nearly every single day (and I've started posting albums compiled from those). But you know who has been even MORE prolific than him? Melissa Etheridge. She started a day or two earlier, and has been putting on a mini-concert every single day without fail. It really is remarkable. I wish more musicians would follow the leads of Finn and Etheridge and go wild recording and posting whatever they want.

As it so happens, I'm not that big of a Melissa Etheridge fan. I like some of her stuff, but I'm about at the "greatest hits" level. She's had a lot of very good hits, but her albums aren't consistent enough for my tastes. That said, she has an undeniably impressive voice. So when she covers classic songs, she really shines. I'm not going to post all or most of her many 2020 home concerts. That would be way too much. But I will post what I consider are some of the highlights.

One entire home concert has been a highlight, the one she did on April 24, 2020. While most of the rest of her home concerts have focused on her own songs, this one was devoted entirely to Bruce Springsteen songs. It turns out she's a huge Springsteen fan, and his music was a big influence on her career. So this is a recording that both Melissa Etheridge and Bruce Springsteen fans should enjoy.

For her home concerts, Etheridge has spent a large portion of them just talking, sometimes sharing long stories. This concert is no exception. She met Springsteen a bunch of time, and has sung duets with him on stage, so she has some interesting and relevant stories to tell. That said, sometimes she's gone off on less interesting tangents. So I've edited her comments to keep their length down to more reasonable levels. But even after my edits, sometimes she talks for two or three minutes between songs. If that's too long for you, you can just delete those tracks and reduce a 53-minute-long concert into a 37-minute-long one.

For the most part, these songs are just Etheridge on acoustic guitar or piano. But it turns out she can play many instruments and has a skill at looping. That means recording a sample of some music, such as a short snippet of a drum beat, and then repeating (or looping) it to provide the backing track for a song. For a couple of songs here, especially "She's the One" and "Born to Run," she does all the looping herself, live, adding multiple instruments. Building up the tracks is an impressive thing to watch on video, but I don't think it stands up to repeated listenings. So I edited out the couple of minutes it took for her to build up the instrumentation for each of those songs. If you're interested, watch the video of her doing it on YouTube.

Also note that one of the songs here, "Thunder Road," is kind of a ringer in that it's not from this concert at all. She played it a couple of weeks earlier during one of her other home concerts. It's a piano performance, and she did it on a day just for piano-based songs. Since that is a Springsteen song, I took that version, as well as her story that preceded it, and added it in to the concert. I put both of those just before her final comments, to make it seem as if they were part of the same show.

01 Darkness on the Edge of Town (Melissa Etheridge)
02 talk (Melissa Etheridge)
03 The River (Melissa Etheridge)
04 talk (Melissa Etheridge)
05 Pink Cadillac (Melissa Etheridge)
06 talk (Melissa Etheridge)
07 She's the One (Melissa Etheridge)
08 talk (Melissa Etheridge)
09 I'm on Fire Intro (Melissa Etheridge)
10 I'm on Fire (Melissa Etheridge)
11 talk (Melissa Etheridge)
12 Born to Run (Melissa Etheridge)
13 talk (Melissa Etheridge)
14 Thunder Road (Melissa Etheridge)
15 talk (Melissa Etheridge)

The cover art needs a special explanation. I could have simply used a screenshot from her YouTube video of this concert. But at one point she told a story about a duet she sang in concert in 1995 with Springsteen. To illustrate the story, she held up a photo of her and him singing together at the concert. So I took a screenshot of that photo. If you look closely, you can actually see her thumb holding it up in the bottom right corner, under some of the text (the "T" and "E" of the word "Tribute"). It's true the photo is rather low-res, but it's a good photo of the two of them that I couldn't find anywhere else on the Internet, and I thought it made for a fitting cover.

Robyn Htichcock - Tin Angel, Philadephia, PA, 3-26-1995, Late Show

I just posted Robyn Hitchcock's early show at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia, on March 26, 1995. This is the late show from the same night. Like the early show, this has never been made public anywhere before now. See my write-up from the early show for more details. But note that this is a fantastic sounding soundboard recording, as good as you could hope for.

One of my musical friends, Lil Panda, was involved in the recording of this. He told me that he only attended the early show. But the kind person running the soundboard let him keep his recording device plugged in for the late show, allowing him to pick it up later. That worked out as planned, except the tape ran out before the show ended. So, while the early show recording is 59 minutes long, this one is only 33 minutes long.

The last song, "Filthy Bird," got cut off halfway through. So I used the recording of that song from the "Storefront Hitchcock" live album, matched the pitch and tempo, and then patched in the last minute or so from that, so it sounds complete.

Although this is a relatively short recording, it's still worth listening to because of the varied set lists, as well as all the entertaining banter between songs. Only two songs, "Egyptian Cream" and "I Something You," were played in both the early and late shows.

01 Radio Storm [Driving Aloud] (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Madonna of the Wasps (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 Chinese Water Python [Instrumental] (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Glass Hotel (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 Statue with a Walkman (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Egyptian Cream (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 I Something You (Robyn Hitchcock)
13 Filthy Bird [Edit] (Robyn Hitchcock)

The cover art photo comes from an early 1996 concert. Although I didn't find any specific text to prove it, I believe it's from the same concert as the photo I used for the early show. He appears to be wearing the same clothes, and even the grainy nature of the photo is the same.

Robyn Htichcock - Tin Angel, Philadephia, PA, 3-26-1995, Early Show

I am very delighted to present this Robyn Hitchcock solo acoustic concert, because it's a pristine soundboard that I know for a fact has never been available anywhere before. 

I know that because I was involved with two other musical friends (Lil Panda and Daniel) to convert it from an old cassette to digital. Lil Panda had a hand in recording it all those years ago, but didn't have a means to concert it until a few days ago. So if you're a Hitchcock fan, you definitely should listen to this.

I've already posted the two Hitchcock shows from the night before, March 25, 1995, at the same venue. They're soundboard bootlegs too, thanks to the same taper. See the links here:

I'm posting the early and late shows from March 26, 1995 as well, with this one being the early show. Admittedly, the shows are somewhat similar. But luckily, Hitchcock plays different set lists each time. Plus, he has lots of entertaining banter between songs, and I understand he never repeats the same story twice.

What's especially remarkable is this early show contains an unreleased song, apparently called "I Stayed Too Long," though that's just a guess, that has never appeared anywhere else. There's a vast Hitchcock Internet database called The Asking Tree that has tracked the majority of his concert set lists through 2006, yet there's no evidence of this song ever being played at any other time. And it's not one of his many spontaneous improv songs; it appears to be a fully formed song.

As mentioned above, the sound on this is great, since the taper was allowed to plug in directly to the soundboard. But there was one problem: a quiet but steady hum. It sounds a bit like one holding a keyboard key down for the entire recording. I discovered that during the songs it's quiet enough to be completely drowned out by the music. But it was still noticeable during the talking between songs. So, for the talking tracks only, I used some noise reduction to greatly reduce the hum. Hopefully, you won't even notice it. Normally, I'm loathe to ever use noise reduction, but I think it's okay in this case since I never used it on any of the actual music.

Another problem was that the talking parts were considerably quieter than the songs. So I moved those to their own tracks and then boosted their volume. I consider that problem fixed now.

This early show is 59 minutes long. It starts without any sort of introduction or audience reaction, so it's possible there's more at the start that didn't get recorded. But if so, I think it's very little, considering that the early show from the night before was also 59 minutes long.

01 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 Queen of Eyes (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 52 Stations (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 I'm Only You (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 De Chirico Street (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Egyptian Cream (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 Chinese Bones (Robyn Hitchcock)
13 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
14 Queen Elvis (Robyn Hitchcock)
15 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
16 I Something You (Robyn Hitchcock)
17 One Long Pair of Eyes (Robyn Hitchcock)
18 I Stayed Too Long (Robyn Hitchcock)
19 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
20 The Yip Song (Robyn Hitchcock)
21 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
22 Never Stop Bleeding (Robyn Hitchcock)
23 Arms of Love (Robyn Hitchcock)
24 Only the Stones Remain (Robyn Hitchcock)

The cover art photo is from a concert in early 1996.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Norah Jones - Home Concerts 2, New York City, 4-11-2020 to 4-23-2020

Today seems to be the day for home concerts - this is the third one I've posted in one day! This is also the second one I've posted from Norah Jones. Note that when I posted her first one a couple of weeks ago, I didn't think to call that "Home Concerts 1." But posting the second one reminded me to go back and change the title, the artwork, and the mp3 tags. So you might want to re-download that, if you're a stickler for that sort of thing.

This second album is very much like her first one. She plays some songs on guitar, and some on piano. Most of her songs are originals from her albums, but she sometimes throws in unexpected choices, usually cover versions. This one starts with a John Prine song ("That’s the Way that the World Goes Round"), to mark his recent death from the coronavirus. She also does covers by Tom Waits ("Far From Home," which is on one of her albums), Hank Williams ("I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"), and Tom Petty ("Angel Dream"). She doesn't talk much between songs, so whenever talking she does has been included.

For the first album, she played four songs on their own days, plus two "mini-concerts" of four songs each. I compiled them all together to make it sound like one performance. This time, there are no single songs. Instead, she did three mini-concerts, playing four songs each time. I'm guessing that's the format she'll keep using moving forward. The three mini-concerts together make for a 47-minute-long album.

The sound quality is excellent. The only caveat is that sometimes her voice is a bit quieter when she plays the piano, probably because her face is further from the microphone.

01 That’s the Way that the World Goes Round (Norah Jones)
02 talk (Norah Jones)
03 Waiting (Norah Jones)
04 Travelin' On (Norah Jones)
05 talk (Norah Jones)
06 Painter Song (Norah Jones)
07 talk (Norah Jones)
08 Long Way Home (Norah Jones)
09 talk (Norah Jones)
10 How I Weep (Norah Jones)
11 talk (Norah Jones)
12 I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Norah Jones)
13 The Long Day Is Over (Norah Jones)
14 Wake Me Up (Norah Jones)
15 talk (Norah Jones)
16 Angel Dream (Norah Jones)
17 talk (Norah Jones)
18 It Was You (Norah Jones)
19 talk (Norah Jones)
20 Sunrise (Norah Jones)

The cover art is a screenshot from one of her mini-concert YouTube videos. If it doesn't look very different from the cover for the first album in this series, that's because she sits at the same spot in the same room each time. Her piano is just out of view.

Neil Finn - Home Concerts 2, Los Angeles, CA, 3-29-2020 to 4-4-2020

Here's another collection of Neil Finn home concerts. This is one of my favorites. I think it's an especially interesting one because a majority of the songs he plays are cover versions.

These are the cover versions he does this time:

Quicksand - David Bowie
After the Gold Rush - Neil Young
Love Song - Lesley Duncan / Elton John
Across the Universe - Beatles
Soul Love - David Bowie
Ashes to Ashes - David Bowie
Here Comes the Sun - Beatles

Note that he did no less than three David Bowie covers! So far, he's done a lot of nice Bowie covers, including one of "Heroes" that has been getting some traction on YouTube, with half a million views so far. I'll include that in a later album in this series. The version of "Ashes to Ashes" here is especially interesting, because it's not usually done in a solo acoustic format.

By the way, sometimes he's messed up playing these songs, since he's usually winging it. For instance, he messed up badly on Quicksand and stopped in the middle of the song. But I managed to edit out his main flub, so the pause is gone. But he also hits a few wrong chords here and there, or forgets a few words, or the like. I don't mind though, and you shouldn't either, because he's taking a lot of risks, and the result is a bunch of new music nearly every single day. As I mentioned in my last blog post on him, if he really messes up badly, he stops playing the song altogether and then almost always gives it another go on the next day, in which he gets it right. I'm not including the flubbed versions.

This concert is 49 minutes long. 

 01 She Will Have Her Way (Neil Finn)
02 Quicksand (Neil Finn)
03 After the Gold Rush (Neil Finn)
04 Love Song (Neil Finn)
05 Across the Universe (Neil Finn)
06 Message to My Girl (Neil Finn)
07 The Climber (Neil Finn)
08 Soul Love (Neil Finn)
09 Into the Sunset (Neil Finn)
10 Elephants (Neil Finn)
11 Last to Know (Neil Finn)
12 Ashes to Ashes (Neil Finn)
13 Here Comes the Sun (Neil Finn)

The cover art is a screenshot taken from one of the few YouTube videos he's made from his home concerts series. This one comes from his "Heroes" video.

Mary Chapin Carpenter - Home Concerts 1, Afton, VA, 3-18-2020 to 4-22-2020

For the near future, I'm going to prioritize posting coronavirus home concerts, since that's what's happening now. Richard Thompson recently did a second home concert. I would have liked to post that, but there was some sort of connection problem, so there were dozens of dropouts per song. It wasn't just with me, but with everyone, because it was something that happened on his end. So that recording exists on YouTube and elsewhere, but I find it unlistenable. I also would like to post recent home concerts by Robyn Hitchcock, Larkin Poe, and Neil Young. But those have been happening behind paywalls. Given how hard it is for musicians to make money from their music these days, I don't want to post those until well after any likely revenue stream from them has dried up - maybe in a year or two, if they don't make them free before that. (And again, if you know of any good ones that I might be missing, please let me know.)

But those are hardly the only home concerts happening. Here's one from Mary Chapin Carpenter. Actually, it's not a concert per se. But for the past month, she's been posting a new song performed in the kitchen of her house every few days. I've gathered them all up and I'm presenting them as if they were one continuous concert. This album is an hour long. Hopefully, she'll keep going. Once I have enough for another concert, I'll post that too.

Carpenter is very talkative in the videos she's been posting lately. In fact, there's often two or three minutes of talking before each song starts. I made the editorial decision to cut most of that out, because I don't think it stands up to repeated listening. One problem is that she repeats herself a lot. For instance, each video usually begins by welcoming back the listener to what she calls the "songs from home" series. Then she almost always describes the current whereabouts of her dog and cat. (Her dog often is with her in the video while her cat is usually taking a nap.) She also usually makes some encouraging comments about the virus, advising people to wash their hands and "stay mighty" and so forth. She frequently comments on the feedback she's received on her past videos and well as requests for new songs.

A lot of that would be interesting to hear once, but not multiple times. So, generally speaking, I've cut it all out except when she directly comments about the song she's about to play. That usually reduces her talking from two to three minutes before each song to an average of about half a minute. If you want to hear the full versions, just check out her videos on YouTube.

One tricky aspect of posting these home concerts is figuring out where they're being recorded. I did some Googling and found out that Carpenter's house is in Afton, Virginia, so I assume that's where this has taken place.

01 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
02 Edinburgh (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
03 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
04 Soul Companion (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
05 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
06 The Hard Way (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
07 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
08 This Is Love (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
09 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
10 Jubilee (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
11 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
12 The Blue Distance (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
13 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
14 Don't Need Much to Be Happy (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
15 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
16 Halley Came to Jackson (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
17 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
18 Far from Me (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
19 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
20 Chasing What's Already Gone (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
21 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
22 The Things that We Are Made Of (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
23 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
24 I Am a Town (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

The cover art photo is a screenshot taken from one of her videos. She looks like that in pretty much all of them, standing at the same spot in her kitchen and wearing a cap.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Neil Finn - Home Concerts 1, Los Angeles, CA, 3-18-2020 to 3-26-2020

Boy, has Neil Finn gone all in with the coronavirus home concert trend! If you don't know who he is already, Finn has been the main singer and songwriter for Split Enz and Crowded House, and has done a lot as a solo artist as well. Recently (as I write this in late 2020), he's joined Fleetwood Mac. Some artists have played a few songs or done a home concert or two since the worldwide virus lockdown began. But not Finn. Starting on March 18, 2020, he's played a home concert nearly every single day! As I write this, he's done 35 home concerts since then, with no sign of stopping or slowing down. So this is the first of many home concert albums I'll be posting from him, because it's very good stuff.

I should mention that I haven't really been that big of a Split Enz or Crowded House fan. I like a lot of their songs, but I'd put them in more of a "greatest hits" category. One big issue I had was with the production. It's not bad on any given song, but they tend to all sound too similar to each other. But I have to say that since I've been listening to Finn's home concerts, I've reassessed his career. Maybe it's just that he's been playing his songs in solo acoustic format for the home concerts. I love that format, and it removes the production issues I had. But hearing him this way made me realize what a very talented singer and songwriter he is. I hope you'll check this out even if you're like me and not a really big fan to begin with.

Since the virus outbreak began, Finn has been holed up in Los Angeles with his family. And I mention the family part because his sons Liam and Elroy are professional musicians and sometimes join in his home concerts. His wife Sharon occasionally joins in on background vocals as well, and she's definitely a capable singer. Most days, Finn has done the home concerts in solo acoustic format, with the occasional guest appearance by one of his sons or his wife. Some days, he and his sons make up a rock trio. I haven't included any of those recordings, because the full band sound (with a full drum kit) is very different from the acoustic recordings. If you want to hear those too, I recommend you check out his webpage of recordings:

Since he's begun, on a typical day, Finn records shows that are roughly an hour long. But a good chunk of that - maybe half - is him talking between songs. It's often interesting, but I haven't included any of the talking because I don't think it stands up to repeat listening. If you want to hear all that, check out the link above. He also often acts kind of like a DJ, ending the show with a selection of his favorite recordings by others. I haven't included any of that either.

Also, if he plays the same song twice on different days, I'm only including one version. He does that every now and then, especially for his best known songs like "Don't Dream It's Over" or "Something So Strong." Furthermore, given that he's recording so much music every day, a good portion of it is off the cuff. He tries out a song, and sometimes it works, but other times it falls flat. Occasionally, he might even give up on a song before it ends. In cases where I judge the song didn't work well, I'm not including it. Happily though, whenever he flubs a song, he usually comes back to it on a later date and gets it right.

If one boils his daily broadcasts down to just the unique, quality solo acoustic performances, one gets maybe 15 to 20 minutes of music per day, though that can vary a lot. So rather than post a bunch of mini-concerts, I'm packaging the daily concerts together until I have enough for an album that's between 45 minutes and an hour in length. This is the first one, but I already have five more ready to go, and he keeps coming out with more nearly every single damn day! What he's doing really is remarkable. I haven't heard of any other musicians being nearly this prolific with their home concerts. (If you know of someone, please let me know.)

Getting to the music. he typically performs a mix of his older Split Enz and Crowded House songs, his later solo career songs, and some cover versions. This particular album has fewer covers than usual. He does "Catch the Wind" by Donovan, "Moon River" by Henry Mancini, and "Julia" by the Beatles.

The sound quality of his home recordings is generally excellent. However, there is a partial exception with this album. Since it includes his first 2020 home concerts, I think he was still working out the kinks in terms of how to best record the music. For some of the songs, he went way into the red on the loudest sections, resulting in a very bad sound for those parts. Luckily, most of the songs here weren't afflicted with this problem at all. For most of them that were, he happened to play them again later, so I've included those versions on future albums in this series instead.

The only ones that really got hit with this problem were "Distant Sun" and "When You Come." So I've included those two as bonus tracks only. Given how he occasionally plays his most famous songs more than once, I'm hopeful he'll do those again, especially "Distant Sun," which is one of his best known songs. If he does, I'll remove these bonus tracks.

In conclusion, if you're already a fan of Finn's music, you should really enjoy this. But if you only know and like the big Split Enz and Crowded House hits, I still recommend you check this out. Hopefully, like me, you'll be seriously impressed with his talent.

01 Don't Dream It's Over (Neil Finn)
02 Better Be Home Soon (Neil Finn)
03 Rest of the Day Off (Neil Finn)
04 Catch the Wind (Neil Finn)
05 Moon River (Neil Finn)
06 Not the Girl You Think You Are (Neil Finn)
07 Missing Person (Neil Finn)
08 I Can’t Give You Anything but Love (Neil Finn)
09 Love This Life (Neil Finn)
10 Lost Island (Neil Finn)
11 Julia (Neil Finn)
12 Catherine Wheels (Neil Finn)
13 Either Side of the World [Edit] (Neil Finn)
14 Dizzy Heights (Neil Finn)
15 Try Whistling This (Neil Finn)
16 Italian Plastic (Neil Finn)
17 Anytime (Neil Finn)

Distant Sun (Neil Finn)
When You Come (Neil Finn)

The cover art photo seems to be Finn's favorite photo for his home concerts. He has it at the top of his webpage (which I linked to above), and on his Facebook account, and so forth. I don't know when or where it was taken, but I figure it makes sense to use it to start this series. The only problem I had was that it was black and white, and I generally dislike those. So I colorized it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

New Categories

I don't know if you use the labels on the sidebar that allow you to find all the albums by specific artists, year, music type, etc... But if you do, I added two new categories today.

One is "cover versions only." It seems posting albums entirely consisting of covers has become a specialty for this blog, for instance the two albums of covers by Texas that I posted a day or two ago. So I've tagged all the dozens of existing covers albums, allowing you to search for just those.

The second new category is "home concert 2020." That's for all the recent home concerts that have been taking place in response to people staying at home due to the coronavirus. So far there are only three of those, but I plan on posting more soon.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Second Anniversary

Today, April 21, 2020, is the two year anniversary of this blog. I've enjoyed doing this, and I plan to keep doing it for a long time to come. (Somehow, I totally missed the first anniversary.)

If you've been using this blog, I'd like some feedback from you. I've got three questions for you:

1. What do you think of the blog in general?

2. What music posted here specifically have you enjoyed the most?

3. What specific artists and/or types of music would you like to see more of?

Thanks in advance for the feedback. The more comments I get, the more enthusiastic I feel about posting music here.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Fleetwood Mac - Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, CA, 7-19-1971

I've posted a lot of early Fleetwood Mac albums: stray tracks collections, BBC collections, and entire concerts. But while there's tons of live material from the Peter Green years ending in 1970, and while I've posted a 1972 concert, I haven't posted a concert from 1971. Until this post, that is.

1971 is often unfairly overlooked in the history of Fleetwood Mac. Many people love the guitar work of Peter Green, so when he left the band in mid-1970, interest plummeted. You can see that in a dearth of bootleg material for the years after he left. But even without Green, the band was still firing on all cylinders. They still had guitarist Danny Kirwan, who should have gone on to be a famous "guitar hero" in his own right, except for the fact that he flamed out of the band, and then later out of music altogether. The band also picked up the very talented Bob Welch as another lead guitarist and songwriter. The band's 1971 album "Future Games" is top notch in my book.

So I wanted to post a 1971 Fleetwood Mac concert. In terms of sound quality, it turns out there really is only one option: the Swing Auditorium show in San Bernardino, California, in July 1971. It's the only excellent soundboard bootleg from that year. The downside is that it's short and incomplete, only about 45 minutes when the band usually played at least twice that long.

To fix this, I've added five more songs of the same sound quality to the beginning of the album. They come from the official album "Madison Blues." It's a little known album that's kind of a grab-bag of material from the year or so after Green left the band. It has a bunch of songs that were performed at an unknown venue on an unknown date some time in January 1971. I left out a couple of songs that were duplicates of songs played at the Swing Auditorium. The result is that the 45-minute-long concert effectively sounds like an hour and 12-minute-long concert.

Both the Swing Auditorium and mystery Madison Blues recordings are excellent soundboards. But in a way they're too good, in the sense that they did a great job of capturing what was played on stage, but captured very little of the audience noise. That meant that after each song, it seemed like they played to an indifferent audience that barely cheered or clapped. To fix this, I tried to boost the volume of the audience reactions as much as possible. I also found some extended sections of generic cheering after a couple of the songs, and added that in to the ends of other songs, to further boost the audience response. The end result is now the songs still sound great but there also is the expected amount of cheering when each one of them ends.

01 Crazy about You (Fleetwood Mac)
02 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
03 One Together (Fleetwood Mac)
04 I Can't Stop Loving Her (Fleetwood Mac)
05 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
06 Lonely without You (Fleetwood Mac)
07 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
08 Jewel-Eyed Judy (Fleetwood Mac)
09 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
10 Station Man (Fleetwood Mac)
11 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
12 Get like You Used to Be (Fleetwood Mac)
13 Dragonfly (Fleetwood Mac)
14 Purple Dancer (Fleetwood Mac)
15 I'd Rather Go Blind (Fleetwood Mac)
16 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
17 Tell Me All the Things You Do (Fleetwood Mac)
18 Jam [Instrumental] (Fleetwood Mac)

It surprisingly hard to find any photos of Fleetwood Mac playing in concert in 1971. I found one, which I think is from an appearance on the "Top of the Pops" TV show. It's not ideal in that it only shows three of the band members, and one of those (drummer Mick Fleetwood) is partially obscured. But it does show the two most important band members of that year, Christine McVie and Danny Kirwan.

Jimi Hendrix - Berkeley Community Theatre, Berkeley, CA, 5-30-1970, Late Show

A couple of weeks ago, I posted the early show for Jimi Hendrix's famous concert in Berkeley, California, in 1970. Both his early and late shows are considered among the very best of his concerts, both in terms of sound quality and performance. The entire evening was professionally recorded and even filmed. It ultimately was turned into the movie "Jimi Plays Berkeley."

I've hesitated posting the late show, due to the simple though weird fact that the late show has been officially released while the early show has not. One might understand this if the set lists were the same, but they're actually quite different. I feel compelled to post the late show too, for consistency's sake, especially for the matching cover art I made, as well as the way I've broken all the talking between songs into their own tracks. But I do hope and assume that if you're downloading this, you already own the official version.

I don't have much to say that I didn't say in my comments for the early show. The late show is somewhat shorter than the early one, at an hour and seven minutes compared to an hour and 25 minutes for the early show. One other thing worth mentioning is that the concerts took place during a very fraught time for the town of Berkeley. There were ongoing, large protests about the Vietnam War, which was happening all over the country. But on top of that, there was a protest about People's Park, a public park in Berkeley that was in danger of closing. In 1969, a large protest about the park was put down by police firing buckshot from shotguns, which resulted in one death. Hendrix was probably referring to that in his comments before the song "Machine Gun" where he referenced the war taking place in Berkeley.

01 talk (Jimi Hendrix)
02 Pass It On [Straight Ahead] (Jimi Hendrix)
03 Hey Baby [New Rising Sun] (Jimi Hendrix)
04 Lover Man (Jimi Hendrix)
05 Stone Free (Jimi Hendrix)
06 Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)
07 talk (Jimi Hendrix)
08 I Don't Live Today (Jimi Hendrix)
09 talk (Jimi Hendrix)
10 Machine Gun (Jimi Hendrix)
11 talk (Jimi Hendrix)
12 Foxy Lady (Jimi Hendrix)
13 talk (Jimi Hendrix)
14 The Star Spangled Banner [Instrumental] (Jimi Hendrix)
15 Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)
16 talk (Jimi Hendrix)
17 Voodoo Child [Slight Return] (Jimi Hendrix)

See my comments from the early show about how I made the cover art from a concert poster for the concert. I used a different photo of Hendrix for the center of it. I know the photo comes from the Berkeley concerts, but I don't know if it's from the early or late show.

The Move - Colour Me Pop, London, Britain, 12-28-1968

I just posted a live album from 1967 by the Move. But I prepared two of their live albums at once, so I'm posting the other one as well. This one is from 1968.

In the late 1960s, there were almost no opportunities for musical groups to perform more than a song or two on TV at any one time. An important exception to that was the BBC TV show "Colour Me Pop," which ran from 1968 to 1969. Each episode lasted half an hour and generally just featured one musical act. You can see a list of the more than 50 episodes here:

It would be a great audio and visual treasure trove of music, except for the fact that the vast majority of the recordings were erased and thus lost to history. One of the very few episodes to survive feature the Move. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube, in color, no less. Just search for "The Move" and "Colour Me Pop."

A curious aspect of the show is that there appears to have been no talking whatsoever. There was no host introducing the band, nor any comments between songs by band members. Instead, there was just a little bit of theme music at the start and end (which I've cut out), and then the band running through their songs without pause. I guess they wanted to maximize the number of songs they could play within the show's half-an-hour time frame. There also was no crowd, so no crowd noise at all.

I've added a couple of songs at the end: "Brontosaurus" and "When Alice Comes Back to the Farm." The "Colour Me Pop" songs total to only 32 minutes. So the extra songs help flesh the album out to a more typical 40 minute length. But also, I've used up pretty much all the good recordings of TV appearances on the four albums I made of their BBC appearances. But here are two songs that are different versions than those on the BBC albums. I've come across other versions of other songs, but the sound quality is generally poor. Whereas these two sound great. They both come from the German TV show "Beat Club" in 1970.

Just as musical associate MZ worked on improving the sound for the other Move concert I just posted, he did that for this one too. So this should sound slightly better than the YouTube version or other bootleg versions, because the sonic balance has been improved.

01 I Can Hear the Grass Grow (Move)
02 Beautiful Daughter (Move)
03 The Christian Life (Move)
04 Flowers in the Rain (Move)
05 The Last Thing on My Mind (Move)
06 Wild Tiger Woman (Move)
07 Goin' Back (Move)
08 Fire Brigade (Move)
09 Something (Move)
10 Blackberry Way (Move)
11 Brontosaurus (Move)
12 When Alice Comes Back to the Farm (Move)

For the cover art, I took screenshots from the actual "Colour Me Pop" video footage. The video begins with some sort of behind-the-scenes notations written in chalk about the show. I assume that wasn't shown. But I thought it looked cool, so I used parts of it. (I also wrote in the date and location myself in a similar style.) However, I left room for a screenshot of the band in the middle. It's a bit blurry and low-res, but photos of the band on stage in concert are rare, and this comes from the actual concert in question.

The Move - Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden, 12-15-1967

I consider the Move to be a pretty important and very talented 1960s group. Considering their importance, there's a surprising lack of live music available by them. The good news is that there are two nice official albums ("Something Else from the Move" and "Live at the Fillmore 1969"). But the bad news is there's very little else, even when it comes to bootlegs. But there are two good, though short, bootlegs, so I've decided to post both of them here. This is the first one.

Before I get to the main part of this album, I have a couple of bonus items at the start of the album, since that's what makes sense chronologically.

The first song, "Watch Your Step," is really interesting. Unfortunately, the recording starts mid-song and it fades out before the song ends. It actually comes from an undated 1966 concert in the Netherlands, and was shown on TV there. On the audio of this, the band sounds pretty wild, but the video of it needs to be seen to be believed - look it up on YouTube. In the few minutes of this song that we have, the Move smashes a TV on stage and sets part of the stage on fire! And this was hardly a one-off event. The Move of 1966 and 1967 was an extremely wild band in concert, miles away from what they would become as they morphed into ELO years later. In fact, they were so wild that they found it tough to do concerts at all, due to so many clubs and concert halls banning them.

The next three songs come from a German TV show in 1967 called "Beat Beat Beat." I'm including them because aside from the rest of this album and the stuff I'll put on another live album, this is just about the only other live recording that sounds good. There's one song played here that's also played later on this album: "I Can Hear the Grass Grow." Sorry 'bout that.

All the remaining songs, from the fourth one onwards, are from the Konserthuset in Stockholm, Sweden. I've posted several other concerts at this same venue from the late 1960s, for instance Traffic, Wilson Pickett, and the Hollies. It seems concerts were routinely recorded then to be played on the radio in Sweden, and many of those recordings have survived.

One nice aspect of the concert is there's at least a little bit of talking between each song. It also features a cover of "Why" by the Byrds that the band never played on record or at the BBC. (I used to have this and "Watch Your Step" on the band's 1967 BBC album, but I removed those since they belong here instead.)

Note that this is a fairly short album, at only 30 minutes long. Only 19 of those minutes are from the Stockholm concert. But it still makes for a nice listen, especially considering the lack of other live recordings by the band.

One final note. The sound quality is less than perfect. But I had my musical friend MZ work on balancing the sound, so this should sound a little bit better than any other version floating around as a bootleg. He said he didn't change the "Beat Beat Beat" songs, since nothing could be done to effectively improve them.

01 Watch Your Step (Move)
02 Walk upon the Water (Move)
03 I Can Hear the Grass Grow (Move)
04 Night of Fear (Move)
05 Somethin' Else (Move)
06 talk (Move)
07 Flowers in the Rain (Move)
08 talk (Move)
09 Why (Move)
10 talk (Move)
11 Hey Grandma (Move)
12 talk (Move)
13 So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star (Move)
14 talk (Move)
15 I Can Hear the Grass Grow (Move)

The cover art photo features the band playing on the "Top of the Pops" TV show in Britain in 1967.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Texas - Cover Versions, Volume 2 (1997-2008)

Yesterday, I posted the first of two albums of cover versions by the band Texas. Here's the second and final album. You should read the write-up to that other album for general information. But, in short, you don't have to be a fan of Texas's original material to enjoy these albums. As you can see, the band covers the same kind of music that is generally featured in this blog, and lead vocalist Sharleen Spiteri has an excellent voice.

Speaking of Spiteri, she went solo for a few years, roughly from 2008 to 2012. Then the band got back together and has stayed together ever since. So there's a big chunk of songs here that are credited to Spiteri instead of Texas. But it basically sounds the same. Note that Spiteri released a solo album in 2010, "The Movie Songbook," that entirely consists of cover versions. I've deliberately avoided including any songs from that album so as to not cut into album sales. But I did include a couple of songs from it if they were significantly different versions.

Here's a list of the original artists for each song:

01 You're All I Need to Get By - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
02 Parisian Pierrot - Noel Coward
03 Don't You Want Me - Human League
04 Surrender - Diana Ross
05 Take Me with U - Prince
06 Private Number - William Bell
07 Across the Universe - Beatles
08 Tainted Love - Gloria Jones / Soft Cell
09 Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley
10 What Do I Get - Buzzcocks
11 Misty - Erroll Garner
12 Alice - Tom Waits
13 All These Things that I've Done - Killers
14 I Heard It through the Grapevine - Gladys Knight & the Pips / Marvin Gaye

It terms of sound quality, everything here sounds very good. I've maintained extra high sound quality standards for these two albums. That means some songs got cut. (I'm particularly bummed I couldn't find a good enough version of "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley.) Eight of the 14 songs here are officially unreleased. But that doesn't matter due to the high quality control.

I'm at a total loss as to when and where the song "All These Things that I've Done" is from. I'm placing it around 2008, since it's a Sharleen Spiteri solo version, and that's when her solo career began. But I very well could be wrong. If anyone knows better, please let me know.

Here's the usual song list:

01 You're All I Need to Get By (Texas)
02 Parisian Pierrot (Texas)
03 Don't You Want Me [Edit] (Texas)
04 Surrender (Texas)
05 Take Me with U (Texas)
06 Private Number (Texas & William Bell)
07 Across the Universe (Texas)
08 Tainted Love (Texas)
09 Suspicious Minds (Texas)
10 What Do I Get [Edit] (Texas)
11 Misty (Sharleen Spiteri)
12 Alice (Sharleen Spiteri & Jane Birkin)
13 All These Things that I've Done (Sharleen Spiteri)
14 I Heard It through the Grapevine (Sharleen Spiteri & Jamie Lidell)

This album is 51 minutes long.

The cover photo is of Sharleen Spiteri in 2003. The photo is actually of her in an embrace with actor Ewan MacGregor, but I cropped him out of it. Once again, my apologies to the other band members for not featuring them on the cover.

Texas - Cover Versions, Volume 1 (1989-1993)

Full disclosure: I'm not that much of a fan of the band Texas. I like them about on the "greatest hits" level. That said, I think they're a talented band with an especially gifted singer, Sharleen Spiteri. Recently, I've been working with musical friend Lil Panda, and he turned me on to the idea of compiling a collection of cover versions by Texas. That's what I've made here, with his help. Whether your like Texas's originals or not, they play a great and ambitious bunch of classic songs for their covers, with Spiteri's vocals an obvious highlight. So if you enjoy the music of the blog in general, you should like this.

Here's a list of who did the original versions:

01 Dimples - John Lee Hooker
02 Living for the City - Stevie Wonder
03 It Hurts Me Too - Tampa Red / Elmore James
04 Sympathy for the Devil - Rolling Stones
05 Heart of Glass - Blondie
06 Tired of Being Alone - Al Green
07 I Can't Get Next to You - Temptations / Al Green
08 What Goes On - Velvet Underground
09 Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses
10 I've Got a Feeling - Beatles
11 Revolution - Beatles
12 One Love - Bob Marley

All but two of the songs here have been officially released: "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Heart of Glass." In terms of sound quality, they sound as good as the rest. Most of the songs are from B-sides or an album of BBC performances. The cover "Tired of Being Alone" was a big hit in 1992. I figure any Texas fan would know that version already. So instead I've included an acoustic version that comes from a B-side.
Here is the usual song list:

01 Dimples [Edit] (Texas)
02 Living for the City (Texas)
03 It Hurts Me Too (Texas)
04 Sympathy for the Devil (Texas)
05 Heart of Glass (Texas)
06 Tired of Being Alone [Acoustic Version] (Texas)
07 I Can't Get Next to You [Edit] (Texas)
08 What Goes On [Edit] (Texas)
09 Sweet Child O' Mine [Edit] (Texas)
10 I've Got a Feeling (Texas)
11 Revolution (Texas)
12 One Love (Texas) 

This album is 50 minutes long.

I know Texas is a full band, but my interest is mainly due to the vocals of Sharleen Spiteri, so she gets the cover billing here. The photo of her dates to 1998.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Crosby, Stills and Nash - Solo Demos, Volume 1: 1968

I've already posted about 20 Crosby, Stills, Nash and/or Young albums that form a kind of alternate history in which they released a lot more music together than they actually did. This is the start of a  series of three albums that's kind of an addendum to that. For the first few years CSN were together, they recorded a bunch of solo demos. When the demo songs were unique, I included them on one of those alternate history albums. But that still left a bunch of demos of well known songs. So I've gathered those up into their own albums.

By luck, there's enough material for one album dealing with 1968, another with 1969, and a third for both 1970 and 1971. This, obviously, is the 1968 one. What's interesting about that is that CSN hadn't joined together yet. All three of them were leaving or had left their original bands (the Byrds for Crosby, Buffalo Springfield for Stills, and the Hollies for Nash). While they searched for what to do next, they continued to write and record demos of new songs, which is what we have here.

This album is rather short, at 32 minutes. I could have made it longer by including songs from Stills' archival album "Just Roll Tape, April 26th, 1968." But if you're into this sort of music, you should have that album. It's really good. The three Stills songs here are different versions from different sources.

The album is dominated by Crosby, who wrote and sings five of the ten songs. But that's just luck in terms of what has become publicly available. Apparently, all three of them wrote lots of songs in 1968, some of which they would record until years later. But we only have a smattering of the demos. That's especially the case for Nash. Apparently, he wrote some songs in this time period that still haven't been released in any form.

Three of the performances are officially unreleased. But in terms of sound quality, I don't think you can tell which ones those are.

01 Deja Vu (David Crosby)
02 49 Bye-Byes (Stephen Stills)
03 Horses through a Rainstorm (Graham Nash)
04 Games (David Crosby)
05 Marrakesh Express (Graham Nash)
06 Guinnevere (David Crosby)
07 You Don't Have to Cry (Stephen Stills)
08 Long Time Gone (David Crosby)
09 49 Reasons [49 Bye-Byes] (Stephen Stills with David Crosby)
10 Wooden Ships (David Crosby)

The cover art photo is a publicity photo of CSN from 1969.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Pink Floyd - BBC Sessions, Volume 6: Wembley Empire Pool, London, Britain, 11-16-1974

Here's one of the all-time great Pink Floyd concerts. If you don't have this, you really need to get it. Technically, it's a BBC performance, but it's really just a full concert from 1974, over two hours in length, that happened to get recorded by the BBC, so it has outstanding sound quality.

All of the material here has been officially released. There's even a Wikipedia page for it:

But that Wikipedia page is strange, because no such album with that title actually exists. Instead, parts of it have been released on three different albums. One has to put them together to get the full concert, which is exactly what I did here.

For once, there are no sound quality issues at all. (And by the way, there appears to have been no talking between songs whatsoever.) So instead I'll comment on the material. I think the most interesting part are the first three songs. The first one, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond," would become a big part of Pink Floyd's next album, "Wish You Were Here," released a year later. The next two songs, "Raving and Drooling" and "You've Got to Be Crazy," were also supposed to go on that album. The three songs were all so long that when combined they made 51 minutes of music, more than enough for an album. But instead, the band shelved "Raving and Drooling" and "You've Got to Be Crazy," worked on them some more, including changing lots of the lyrics, and released them as "Sheep" and "Dogs" respectively for their 1977 album "Animals."

After those three songs, the entire "Dark Side of the Moon" was played in order. A 25-minute long encore of "Echoes" finished the concert.

Later, I'm planning on posting a 1977 concert, so one can hear live versions of the "Wish You Were Here" and "Animals" albums.

01 Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-9 (Pink Floyd)
02 Raving and Drooling [Early Version of Sheep] (Pink Floyd)
03 You've Got to Be Crazy [Early Version of Dogs] (Pink Floyd)
04 Speak to Me [Instrumental] (Pink Floyd)
05 Breathe (Pink Floyd)
06 On the Run [Instrumental] (Pink Floyd)
07 Time (Pink Floyd)
08 The Great Gig in the Sky (Pink Floyd)
09 Money (Pink Floyd)
10 Us and Them (Pink Floyd)
11 Any Colour You Like [Instrumental] (Pink Floyd)
12 Brain Damage (Pink Floyd)
13 Eclipse (Pink Floyd)
14 Echoes (Pink Floyd)

I could be wrong, but I think the cover art photo comes from the exact concert in question. At the very least, it comes from the same 1974 tour.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Cat Stevens - BBC Sessions, Volume 1: 1966-1967

I'm delighted to present this album, because it's something that's very hard to find. As you may know, Cat Stevens had a couple of years as a young star in a poppy style in the late 1960s before disappearing for about a year due to illness and then reinventing himself as a sensitive singer-songwriter. He had a lot of success in his poppy phase, including the songs "I Love My Dog," "Matthew and Son," and "The First Cut Is the Deepest," but it tends to be overlooked in favor of his even more popular later style.

I knew that Stevens performed for the BBC a lot in the 1960s, but I'd assumed most or all of that material had been lost. For instance, there's no videos of that on YouTube, nor can bootlegs of it be found. Until now, that is. Although he played on lots of BBC radio shows, it seems that just his performances from the show "Top of the Pops" have emerged in recent years. (Note that's not to be confused with a BBC TV show of the same name.) So it's pretty remarkable to have this material at all.

But what's even better is that the sound is fantastic. You'd be forgiven if you thought at first that these were simply the studio album versions, especially because they all have the same full production as those versions, often with horns and/or orchestra. But if you listen carefully you'll notice they're all completely different performances, both vocally and instrumentally. There's even a song here that has never been officially released in any form, as far as I can tell: "(You and Your) Shiny Golden Hair."

What's also nice is that even though we only get a sampling of all of his BBC performances, this is a great selection of his 1960s material, and includes his hits from that era. Actually, one of his best known songs from the time, "The First Cut Is the Deepest," wasn't included with the Top of the Pops material. But I found a live version from 1967. It's the one and only fully live version of any song I could find from that era. (There are a few videos of him lip-syncing, or singing new vocals to a backing track, but those aren't worthy of inclusion here.) Its sound quality is a bit rougher than the rest, but I included it since it's possibly the only chance to get a hint of what he sounded like on stage in those early years.

As for the rest of the songs, there was one significant sound problem, which is something that often bedevils me with BBC recordings. Namely, the annoying DJs who talk over the music. Ugh! That happened several times here, always to the starts of the songs. (I've marked those by adding "Edit" to the song titles.) However, I fixed them using the audio editing program X-Minus.

The songs total up to 44 minutes, which makes for a nice album length. This also serves as a de facto greatest hits for his 1960s material, which was made up of two studio albums plus a few singles. The source material lacked any detail about when the songs were recorded, but I did some deep Internet research and managed to figure it all out. But in some cases I may be using the dates the songs were recorded, and in others the dates they were broadcast. The information I found was sometimes vague about that.

UPDATE: On February 14, 2022, I updated the mp3 download file. No songs were added or removed. But because I made a later BBC sessions album by this one, I added "Volume 1" to the title. I changed the cover art to match. More importantly, I fixed the BBC DJ talking over the music problem better than I did originally, thanks to my discovery of programs like X-Minus.

01 I Love My Dog (Cat Stevens)
02 [You and Your] Shiny Golden Hair [Edit] (Cat Stevens)
03 The Tramp [Edit] (Cat Stevens)
04 Matthew and Son (Cat Stevens)
05 Granny [Edit] (Cat Stevens)
06 Portabello Road (Cat Stevens)
07 School Is Out (Cat Stevens)
08 I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun (Cat Stevens)
09 Hummingbird (Cat Stevens)
10 Lady [Edit] (Cat Stevens)
11 I Found a Love [Edit] (Cat Stevens)
12 The Laughing Apple (Cat Stevens)
13 A Bad Night (Cat Stevens)
14 Moonstone (Cat Stevens)
15 Kitty (Cat Stevens)
16 Blackness of the Night [Edit] (Cat Stevens)
17 I Love Them All [Edit] (Cat Stevens)
18 The First Cut Is the Deepest (Cat Stevens)

For the cover art, I used a photo that is said to be of Stevens "circa 1967."

Monday, April 13, 2020

The Red Hot Chili Peppers - Mercy Mercy - Non-Album Tracks (2006-2007)

In 2006, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released the album "Stadium Arcadium." Even though it's a double album, in my opinion it's solid all the way through and one of the best albums they ever did. Yet even with that double album, they still had lots of leftover songs, and they released many of them as B-sides in 2006 and into 2007. This album is mostly a collection of those B-sides.

Again, it's just my opinion, but I think even these B-sides are quite good. I have certain standards. I'm not going to include absolutely everything just to be completist. I only want the songs I'll actually enjoy listening to. But in this case, I've included all the B-sides because I like them all. (That's in sharp contrast to the B-sides to their next album, "I'm with You," which I feel aren't nearly as good.)

There are only two songs here that aren't B-sides. One is a surprisingly faithful version of the Beach Boys' classic hit "I Get Around." That performance actually comes from 2005, so I should have included it on the band's previous stray tracks collection. But I only discovered it recently, and I figure 2005 is close enough for horseshoes. ;)

The other non-B-side is also the only song that remains officially unreleased. It's an acoustic version of the Bee Gees hit "How Deep Is Your Love." In concert, guitarist John Frusciante often had a solo spot in which he played acoustic covers that were very different from the usual Red Hot Chili Peppers fare, such as versions of songs by Simon and Garfunkel or Cat Stevens. Generally speaking, I haven't included those, because I usually don't think they fit in well with the rest of the band's output. But in this case, I think an acoustic version of the Bee Gees song is interesting, different, and very well performed. It's mostly Frusciante, but if you listen carefully there are some drums and backing vocals.

Sadly, this is the last of my planned stray tracks albums for the band, unless more material emerges. For their next album, "I'm with You," they released an entire album's worth of outtakes as a collection of singles. Combined, the collection is known as "I'm Beside You." But, as I mentioned above, I simply don't think they're very good, so I'm not going to bother with those. Other than that, there's a surprising lack of stray tracks. For instance, their next album, "The Getaway," had four singles released, but none of them had any B-sides. And the band has had almost no songs on soundtracks, other various artist compilations, and the like.

By the way, the band did compose 20 to 30 new songs for "The Getaway" album, only to scrap them all and start anew when they picked a new producer to work with. So there probably are a ton of songs sitting in the vaults. But none of them have leaked to the public yet.

01 Million Miles of Water (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
02 Whatever We Want (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
03 Lately (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
04 I Get Around (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
05 A Certain Someone (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
06 Mercy Mercy (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
07 Lyon 6.6.06 [Instrumental] (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
08 Funny Face (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
09 I'll Be Your Domino (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
10 Permutation [Instrumental] (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
11 Joe (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
12 Save This Lady (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
13 How Deep Is Your Love (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

For the album cover, I used a photo of the band in concert in 2006.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

U2 - Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me - Non-Album Tracks (1995-1997)

U2 released the album "Zooropa" in 1993, and then "Pop" in 1997. In between was the experimental album with Brian Eno, technically under the "Passengers" name, called "Original Soundtracks 1." I've posted my alternate version of that album here. You'd think that was all they did between "Zooropa" and "Pop." But no, there's another entire album's worth of stray tracks. That's what I'm posting here. I think it holds up pretty well as an album of its own.

The key song, which I've made the title song, is the 1995 single "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me." It was a number 2 hit in Britain, and a number 1 hit in seven other countries. Most bands would have released an album around such a big hit, but the song was merely put on the "Batman Forever" soundtrack.

Instead of a new album, after the "Original Soundtracks 1" album, the band members pursued a variety of projects, including some minor solo work. For instance, band members Bono and the Edge wrote the song "GoldenEye" for Tina Turner to sing as the theme song to the latest James Bond movie. They never released a U2 version, but luckily they did an unreleased well developed demo that I've included here.

The rest of the songs have all been officially released. There are two more songs from movie soundtracks, and two songs from tribute albums. Four of the songs are B-sides to singles related to the "Pop" album. One of those, "Holy Joe," has also been a bonus track on some versions of that album.

All in all, in my opinion, the songs have a fairly consistent sound that's different from the experimental "Original Soundtracks 1" and is closely related to the sound of the controversial "Pop" album. That album has been seen as a disappointment. For my next U2 post, I'm going to share an alternate version of that that's somewhat better.

01 Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me (U2)
02 Hallelujah (Bono)
03 GoldenEye [Demo] (Bono & The Edge)
04 Theme from Mission Impossible [Instrumental] (Larry Mullen & Adam Clayton)
05 North and South of the River (U2)
06 Holy Joe [Garage Mix] (U2)
07 I'm Not Your Baby (Sinead O'Connor & U2)
08 Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad (U2)
09 Slow Dancing (Willie Nelson & U2)
10 Dreaming with Tears in My Eyes (Bono)

I didn't want to use the official cover of the "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" single, because it's mostly a picture of Batman, since it was associated with the "Batman Forever" movie. But luckily, there's a remix single with a totally different cover, so I used that. It's a typical compared to the usual moody U2 covers. But that's because the video of the song mixes clips from the movie with a cartoon version of U2. The cover art comes directly from that video. All I did was remove some small text at the bottom describing the remix details.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Pink Floyd - BBC Sessions, Volume 5: Sounds of the 70s, Paris Theatre, London, Britain, 9-30-1971

I recently posted an album of Pink Floyd performing for the BBC in 1970. This is basically the exact same deal, except 1971 instead of 1970. The format was the same: an hour-long concert in front of an audience, played live on the radio. Even the host was the same, famous BBC DJ John Peel. Like the other show, he did all the talking between songs. So if you liked that one, you're sure to like this one.

A couple of the songs played in that 1970 concert are played again here: "Fat Old Sun" and "Embryo." But there are only five songs played in all, because the emphasis is on instrumental jamming. This concert took place one month before their album "Meddle" was released. Two songs from that album are played, "One of These Days" and "Echoes." "Echoes" is the clear focus and highlight, lasting for nearly half an hour. "Blues" is an unnamed instrumental played as an encore that was never released on any Pink Floyd album.

As far as song quality goes, this comes from "The Early Years" box set, so the sound quality is as good as you could hope for. The main thing I did was break up the talking between songs into their own tracks, and boosting the volume on those.

01 talk (Pink Floyd)
02 Fat Old Sun (Pink Floyd)
03 talk (Pink Floyd)
04 One of These Days (Pink Floyd)
05 talk (Pink Floyd)
06 Embryo (Pink Floyd)
07 talk (Pink Floyd)
08 Echoes (Pink Floyd)
09 Blues [Instrumental] (Pink Floyd)

For the cover art photo, I went with a photo of the band in the studio in late 1971.

Norah Jones - Home Concerts 1, New York City, 3-19-2020 to 4-7-2020

I'm really enjoying these home concerts brought on by the recent "stay at home" policies about the coronavirus. Especially this one. If you're a fan of Norah Jones at all, you should get this. For one thing, I don't know of any instances of her ever doing an "unplugged" style concert, and that's essentially what this is (minus the audience). The other nice thing is that many of the songs are interesting choices that she's never performed before.

Actually, this isn't concert, it's a collection of different things. Since March 19, 2020, she's been occasionally playing individual songs and posting them on YouTube. I've included all four of those ("Patience," "It's Not Easy," "You and Me," and "I Am Missing You"). The first one is the hit by Guns n' Roses. Who would have ever imagined Norah freaking Jones covering a Guns n' Roses song?! True, it's probably the most Norah Jones-ish song they ever did, but still, I admire her willingness to find good songs from whatever the source. And "I Am Missing You" is a song written by her father, the world famous sitar player Ravi Shankar. She'd meant to perform it for a concert celebrating what would have been his 100th birthday. But since the concert was cancelled due to the virus, she played it at home instead.

The bulk of the album comes from two brief home concerts she did. One was on March 26th, and consisted of four songs. The other was on April 2nd, and also consisted of four songs. Between these two concerts, plus the four songs I mentioned above, this album actually has six recording dates. But in all sounds like one concert, in my opinion, because they were all performed solo by her, either on piano or guitar, in the same room of her house. Actually, I'll bet the two brief concerts were done on the same date but just posted separately because she wore the same outfit for both of them.

I definitely am not hoping that the virus lockdowns keep going for months. But if they do, I hope Jones will continue to post more material from her house every week. If she does, I'll gather that stuff up from time to time to post more albums like this one.

Finally, once more, if you find other good musicians who are performing home concerts like this, please let me know so I might post the concerts here. 

This album is 55 minutes long.

01 Patience (Norah Jones)
02 It's Not Easy (Norah Jones)
03 talk (Norah Jones)
04 Turn Me On (Norah Jones)
05 talk (Norah Jones)
06 Joey (Norah Jones)
07 talk (Norah Jones)
08 I'm Alive (Norah Jones)
09 talk (Norah Jones)
10 Humble Me (Norah Jones)
11 talk (Norah Jones)
12 You and Me (Norah Jones)
13 Come Away with Me (Norah Jones)
14 talk (Norah Jones)
15 Lucky (Norah Jones)
16 talk (Norah Jones)
17 I Remember Clifford [Instrumental] (Norah Jones)
18 talk (Norah Jones)
19 Lonestar (Norah Jones)
20 I Am Missing You (Norah Jones)

For the album cover, I took a screenshot of Jones at one of her home concerts. I believe it was the one on March 26, 2020. There was a wall decoration right behind her head that looked like some weird headgear, so I removed it in Photoshop.

Bill Withers - Beat Club, Bremen, Germany, 3-23-1972

Soul great Bill Withers died last week, on March 30, 2020. He was 81 years old. In honor of his passing, I wanted to post something from him. Unfortunately, like a lot of soul artists, there isn't that much material that hasn't already been released. But after some searching I found something I really like, and here it is.

Withers had a rather unusual career. When he started playing music professionally, he already was in his late 30s. Then he only stayed in the music industry for about a decade before effectively retiring. And even in that decade, he didn't tour that much more make many live TV or radio appearances. Luckily, he released an excellent double album of a 1972 concert called "Live at Carnegie Hall," so at least there's that.

My challenge was to come up with something that didn't just duplicate the live versions of the "Carnegie Hall" album. I think I found it with an appearance he made on the German TV show "Beat Club." It's from around the same time as "Carnegie Hall," but he played a couple of different songs. More importantly, the "Beat Club" performances were all done in a studio with no studio audience, so the overall feel is different. That also means the songs aren't bothered by audience noise.

The "Beat Club" performance is only about half an hour long. I've added some other things to that, essentially gathering up all the remaining live material I had from him. He did a performance for the BBC a few months after the "Beat Club" one that was very similar, except it was in front of an audience. I included the one unique song from that, "Grandma's Hands." Plus, I also added in some of his between song banter from the BBC in front of the "Beat Club" performances. It sounds a bit odd, but trust me, it works.

He did two unique songs for the US TV show "Soul!" in 1971, so I added those at the start. I also included "Better Days," which is from a 1971 movie soundtrack. It's the one officially released track here. It's also the only non-album track of his I could find. I added three more live songs at the end, two from 1974 and one all the way from 1982. That last performance was effectively the end of his musical career - he only performed songs in public a few times after that.

So this is a bit of a stretch to call this the "Beat Club" show, since seven of the songs are from other sources, but oh well. The important thing, in my opinion, is that it's a solid and consistent listen. Note that all of his big hits are included with the exception of "Lovely Day." I couldn't find any live versions of that one.

01 I'm Her Daddy (Bill Withers)
02 Grits Ain't Groceries [All Around the World] (Bill Withers)
03 Better Days (Bill Withers)
04 talk (Bill Withers)
05 Lonely Town, Lonely Street (Bill Withers)
06 Ain't No Sunshine (Bill Withers)
07 talk (Bill Withers)
08 Use Me (Bill Withers)
09 talk (Bill Withers)
10 Kissin' My Love (Bill Withers)
11 Lean On Me (Bill Withers)
12 Harlem - Cold Baloney (Bill Withers)
13 talk (Bill Withers)
14 Grandma's Hands (Bill Withers)
15 Hope She'll Be Happier (Bill Withers)
16 You (Bill Withers)
17 Just the Two of Us (Bill Withers & Grover Washington, Jr.)

For the cover art photo, I could have used a screenshot of the "Beat Club" performance, since a video of that exists on YouTube. But it was somewhat low resolution. So instead I've chosen a photo from a 1973 concert in France.