Saturday, May 30, 2020

Leonard Cohen - Out of the Land of Heaven - Non-Album Tracks (1965-1968)

This is the start of a series of stray tracks albums from Leonard Cohen. Now, usually when I post a stray tracks album from someone, it's all songs that don't appear on the official albums. But with Cohen, there aren't a lot of rarities. However, in his case, his quality control is so high that I think even his alternate versions are interesting, so this includes those as well.

I'm proud to say that I've included some serious rarities that probably aren't even known to most die-hard Cohen fans. Cohen's musical career began in 1967 with the release of his first album, "Songs of Leonhard Cohen." However, he actually had a career as a poet and novelist that started in the mid-1950s, with a number of popular books. There was a gradual shift with him doing some poem recitations, poem recitations with backing music, and then full-on songs. I found a few poem recitations set to music from 1965, as well as one from 1968. Plus, there are some straight-up poem recitations without music.

All of those were not only unreleased, they were very hard to find. Furthermore, they were in bad shape, often with so many pops and crackles (obviously from a well-played vinyl album) that it was a tough listen. But I turned to my musical associate MZ and asked for his help. He cleaned them up to a remarkable degree. There's still some crackling, but it's nothing compared to what it used to be.

Most of the rest of the songs here are bonus tracks from his first three albums. There are some unique songs, and also some early alternate versions of songs. (Note that "Dress Rehearsal Rag" is a bonus track from the 1971 album "Songs of Love and Hate," but it was actually recorded in 1968, so it fits within this time frame.)

In 1966, Cohen gave a public performance in New York City. It was mostly filled with poem recitations and excerpts from his books, but he finished it with "The Stranger Song." That may well be the first time Cohen sang one of his sings in front of an audience. At least, it's the first time one got recorded for posterity.

This album is short, at only 33 minutes.

Note that in 2023, I found out there was a copyright extension release that is extremely rare, and contains more studio outtakes from this time period, including previously unknown songs like "In the Middle of the Night" and "The Beach of Idios." If anyone has that, PLEASE share, so I can add to this album!

UPDATE: On November 23, 2023, I updated the mp3 download file.  I removed "The Stranger Song" and "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" because they're BBC performances and I'm putting them on a BBC album instead. I also removed the bonus track of Richie Havens performing "Priests," since I've found a Cohen version of that song and will put it on a different album soon. I added the poem "God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot," and upgraded a couple of bonus track poems to go on the regular album, "For E. J. P." and "You Have the Lovers."

01 Twelve O'Clock Chant (Leonard Cohen)
02 Out of the Land of Heaven [Poem for Marc Chagall] (Leonard Cohen)
03 Twelve O'Clock Chant [Reprise] (Leonard Cohen)
04 God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot [Poem] (Leonard Cohen)
05 Store Room (Leonard Cohen)
06 Blessed Is the Memory (Leonard Cohen)
07 You Have the Lovers [Poem] (Leonard Cohen)
08 The Stranger Song (Leonard Cohen)
09 For E. J. P. [Poem] (Leonard Cohen)
10 Gift (Leonard Cohen)
11 Bird on the Wire [Early Version] (Leonard Cohen)
12 You Know Who I Am [Early Version] (Leonard Cohen)
13 Dress Rehearsal Rag [Early Version] (Leonard Cohen)

In looking for a photo for the cover art, I found lots of photos of Cohen from his early years, but all of them were in black and white. Luckily, there's a color video of Cohen's appearance on the BBC with host Julie Felix, so I took a screenshot of him from that video.

Rosanne Cash - Live from Zone C - Living Room Concert, New York City, 11-2-2011

I've been posting lots of home concerts from lots of different musicians lately, with more to come. But one musician who I'm surprised has been missing so far is Rosanne Cash. She's done some songs here and there recorded from home during the coronavirus lockdown, but not enough for an album of music. Hopefully that'll change by and by. But in the meantime, here's something similar from her. She had the home concert thing down pat nine years in advance, back in 2011.

In that year, Cash's record company had released "The Essential Rosanne Cash," a double album compilation of her best songs from throughout her career. To help promote that, Cash performed a concert in the living room of her New York City apartment, with just her guitar plus her husband John Leventhal on another guitar. (Leventhal is also her longtime musical collaborator and frequent songwriting partner.) The concert was professionally recorded for both audio and video. However, the audio has never been released on record, and only the video for about eight of the songs came out on the Internet. This is the whole concert, which is a few minutes short of an hour long.

One thing that makes this concert special is that instead of playing her usual set list, she limited herself to playing the 13 most popular songs out of the 36 songs on "The Essential Rosanne Cash."  So she played a lot of songs that she hadn't played in years, or even in decades. And I'm especially a fan of the solo acoustic format, without the sound quality issues of having an audience. Weirdly, she'd never released a live album in her long career. But if I were to pick just one live concert to hear from her, I think it would be this one.

01 talk (Rosanne Cash)
02 Sea of Heartbreak (Rosanne Cash)
03 talk (Rosanne Cash)
04 September When It Comes (Rosanne Cash)
05 talk (Rosanne Cash)
06 Seven Year Ache (Rosanne Cash)
07 talk (Rosanne Cash)
08 500 Miles (Rosanne Cash)
09 talk (Rosanne Cash)
10 Never Be You (Rosanne Cash)
11 talk (Rosanne Cash)
12 The Good Intent (Rosanne Cash)
13 talk (Rosanne Cash)
14 Runaway Train (Rosanne Cash)
15 talk (Rosanne Cash)
16 Western Wall (Rosanne Cash)
17 The Way We Make a Broken Heart (Rosanne Cash)
18 talk (Rosanne Cash)
19 Blue Moon with Heartache (Rosanne Cash)
20 talk (Rosanne Cash)
21 Black Cadillac (Rosanne Cash)
22 talk (Rosanne Cash)
23 House on the Lake (Rosanne Cash)
24 talk (Rosanne Cash)
25 Sleeping in Paris (Rosanne Cash)
26 talk (Rosanne Cash)

The cover art photo is a photo from the exact concert in question.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Crosby, Stills and Nash - Solo Demos, Volume 3: 1970-1971

I've posted two albums of solo demos from Crosby, Stills and Nash already. This is the third and final one. Solo demos are what they are - each of the songs feature just Crosby, Stills or Nash. As with the earlier albums in this series, most of the songs are well known ones. But I think it's interesting to hear these stripped down, acoustic versions.

Seven out of the 11 songs have been officially released. Of the four unreleased ones, they're all studio recordings and sound just as good as the others. The album is a bit short at 35 minutes, but these are all the performances I could find that fit the format.

Most of the songs are the kinds of songs you'd expect. But there are two exceptions. Graham Nash does a solo version of "Everybody's Been Burned," a David Crosby song that he originally performed with the Byrds. And I've included a rare and unreleased Crosby original, "Under Anesthesia" (also known as "You Sit There"). It would have made sense for me to include it on one of my CSN/Y stray tracks albums, but I felt it wasn't quite good enough to make the grade.

Unfortunately, this series ends because there just aren't enough solo demos after 1971 to allow me to keep going. CSN wrote many of their classic songs in the 1969 to 1971 time frame, so there's a lot more interest with those. Thus, there have been more officially released versions and more bootlegs too.

UPDATE: On October 21, 2021, I updated the mp3 download file. I added two songs, "Bach Mode" and "Where Will I Be." I also upgraded "Dancer" and "The Wall Song" from unreleased to released versions. All of these songs come from the 50th anniversary edition of "If I Could Only Remember My Name."

01 Chicago (Graham Nash)
02 Where Will I Be (David Crosby)
03 4 + 20 (Stephen Stills)
04 Dancer (David Crosby)
05 Simple Man (Graham Nash)
06 Love the One You're With (Stephen Stills)
07 The Wall Song (David Crosby)
08 Man in the Mirror (Graham Nash)
09 Under Anesthesia [You Sit There] (David Crosby)
10 Everybody's Been Burned (Graham Nash)
11 Singin' Call (Stephen Stills)
12 Be Yourself (Graham Nash)
13 Bach Mode [Pre-Critical Mass] (David Crosby)

For the cover art photo, I found a 1970 photo of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, with their bassist and drummer included as well. But I cropped the photo so it only showed Crosby, Stills and Nash. Neil Young happened to be sitting while the others were standing, so it was pretty easy to crop him out of it.

Manfred Mann - The Five Faces of Manfred Mann (1964)

Normally, I don't want to post an officially released album without any changes. But I'm making an exception here because I'm posting everything good from Manfred Mann in the 1960s in hopes of getting people to reassess their musical career, and everything on this album is good.

In the early to mid-1960s, rock albums generally were a mess. They usually were a bunch of songs almost randomly thrown together by record companies with virtually no attempt at musical cohesion and often no input from the band. US versions were usually the worst, with shorter run times to rip off the consumer that much more. British versions were better, so when it comes to Manfred Mann, I'm considering their British albums only.

This is a British album, and it's unusually unified for something in 1964. Albums from that time were often seen as one or two hit songs plus a bunch of filler, but this one doesn't have any hit singles on it. And it's unusually cohesive, because the band was really into a rhythm and blues mode, so pretty much all of the songs fit that genre.

A lot of other bands are revered for playing this music around this time, such as the Rolling Stones, the Pretty Things, the Yardbirds, and so on, but Manfred Mann's similar efforts seem to be largely forgotten. I don't know why, because they did this type of music better than most of their British contemporaries. True, it would have been nice if they did more instrumental soloing, but their vocalist Paul Jones was one of the best British singers for this genre.

01 Smokestack Lightning (Manfred Mann)
02 Don't Ask Me What I Say (Manfred Mann)
03 Sack O' Woe (Manfred Mann)
04 What You Gonna Do (Manfred Mann)
05 Hoochie Coochie Man (Manfred Mann)
06 I'm Your Kingpin (Manfred Mann)
07 Down the Road Apiece (Manfred Mann)
08 I've Got My Mojo Working (Manfred Mann)
09 It's Gonna Work Out Fine (Manfred Mann)
10 Mr. Anello (Manfred Mann)
11 Untie Me (Manfred Mann)
12 Bring It to Jerome (Manfred Mann)
13 Without You (Manfred Mann)
14 You've Got to Take It (Manfred Mann)

The album cover is the official cover with no changes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Mary Chapin Carpenter - Home Concerts 2, Afton, VA, 4-26-2020 to 5-24-2020

A few weeks ago, I posted an album of songs Mary Chapin Carpenter recorded during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. I'm happy to say that she's continued to post new songs every few days, so I now have enough for another album. May she keep on posting more songs, even after the crisis is over.

I don't have much to say that I didn't say for the first album compiling her home videos. As with that album, she usually talks a lot before starting each song. But, as I did there, I've edited her comments down a lot to make this something much more likely to stand up to repeat listens. I've cut out her repetitive comments wishing people well during the pandemic, as well as her frequent comments about her pets. Instead, I've generally just kept the parts that are relevant to the songs she plays.

Pretty much all of the songs are her originals, from all parts of her career. If you like the first album of home concerts I've posted, you'll like this one too.

One minor note: since she's posted enough songs for me to create this album, I've gone back to the previous album and renamed it "Home Concerts 1," with this being "Home Concerts 2." I've also changed the cover art accordingly.

01 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
02 The Age of Miracles (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
03 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
04 Why Shouldn't We (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
05 Transcendental Reunion (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
06 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
07 Rhythm of the Blues (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
08 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
09 Something Tamed, Something Wild (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
10 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
11 Quittin' Time (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
12 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
13 John Doe No. 24 (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
14 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
15 This Shirt (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
16 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
17 I Take My Chances (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

The cover art is a screenshot from one of her videos. (I don't remember which one.) She lives with a dog, Angus, and a cat, White Kitty. At the start of each video, she typically reports on where her two pets are and what they're doing. So, given her emphasis on them, I figure it's only fitting to include a screenshot with them in it. This one only shows the dog Angus, since I don't think the two pets have made an appearance together yet. (That's not too surprising, since her cat seems to be napping 99% of the time.) Also, I widened the background on either side of her and her guitar in order to include enough vertically of the screenshot to show both her head and Angus's head.

X - My Father's Place, Roslyn, NY, 12-11-1983

I think X is a great band. Technically, I supose they're considered a punk band, but unlike most punk bands, I appreciate how they've had deep roots in older music forms, like folk and country. (This can best be seen in their alter ego band, the Knitters.) They put on a new album last month called "Alphabetland." It's their first album in 27 years. I haven't heard it yet, but it has all their original members on it, and it's been getting surprisingly good reviews. I figure that's a good excuse to post something by them.

In my opinion, the "golden age" of X was their first four albums, from 1980 to 1983. Let me quote from an review of one of their albums:

"X were undeniably not just one of the greatest punk bands, but one of the greatest live rock acts of all time. [But] they never issued a true live set featuring the stellar, original lineup with guitarist Billy Zoom."

Indeed. Zoom left the band (for the first time) in 1986. Their 1985 album was disappointing, where they tried for a different sound, so in my opinion the ideal time to have a live album from them would be 1983. Luckily, although no live album from that time has ever come out, there is an excellent bootleg of a concert that was played on the radio at the time, which is presented here.

That means it was professionally recorded to sound good for the radio. I didn't have to do much tweaking for this one. All I did was break was little talking there was between songs onto their own tracks, and lower the overall volume level, to put it in line with all the other albums I post on this blog.

There was one major snag with the recording in that the first song, "True Love, Part 1," fades in right as it was ending. I'm especially bummed since that's a really good song. It also suggests there could have been more of the concert that either didn't get on the radio or didn't get recorded by whoever captured the radio show. The concert is slightly less than an hour long, whereas they played well over an hour in other 1983 that are on bootleg, suggesting that a portion of the show is missing. At least we know the ending is correct, since the show finishes with a few parting comments.

I didn't want to start this off with just part of a song, so I found another bootleg from 1983 where "True Love" was played and I inserted that instead. While I was at it, I also included "Blue Spark" since that's one of my favorites of theirs, as well as a spoken introduction. I was tempted to include more, but I decided against it since the sound quality from the other show is less impressive.

If you want just one live X recording, I recommend this one, even though it's a bootleg. It beats all their official live albums, in my opinion. And it also kind of doubles as a "best of" for their early years, since they play most of their best known songs from that era.

This album is 58 minutes long.

01 talk (X)
02 Blue Spark (X)
03 True Love, Part 1 (X)
04 talk (X)
05 In This House that I Call Home (X)
06 talk (X)
07 Hungry Wolf (X)
08 talk (X)
09 The New World (X)
10 Universal Corner (X)
11 True Love, Part 2 (X)
12 Beyond and Back (X)
13 talk (X)
14 Los Angeles (X)
15 Make the Music Go Bang (X)
16 Some Other Time (X)
17 talk (X)
18 Hot House (X)
19 Soul Kitchen (X)
20 Breathless (X)
21 Johnny Hit and Run Paulene (X)
22 Motel Room in My Bed (X)
23 talk (X)
24 Poor Girl (X)
25 talk (X)
26 Devil Doll (X)

The cover art photo is of the band performing for "American Bandstand" in October 1983. I cropped it to focus on Exene Cervenka and John Doe. They're the band leaders and lead vocalists, and the other band members were mostly hidden in the darkness.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Fleetwood Mac - The Warehouse, New Orleans, LA, 1-31-1970

I just posted the Fleetwood Mac concert played at the Warehouse in New Orleans on January 30, 1970. While I'm at it, here's their concert from the next night at the same venue.

I had a long explanation to go with the January 30th concert. Most of what I said there also applies here, minus the colorful story from drummer Mick Fleetwood about driving a car from the backseat with his feet and so forth. I'll just focus on what's different with this one.

Both the January 30th and 31st concert recordings are soundboards done by the Grateful Dead's talented sound engineer Owsley Stanley. But for whatever reason, the 30th recording had an extreme stereo mix that required a lot of tweaking, while the 31th recording had a more normal, narrow stereo mix. Also, the vocals and instruments had a better balance. So while I had to do a lot of tinkering for the 30th show, I had to do very little here. One note is that the song "Tiger" is the only one in mono, because it comes from a different source. But in my opinion, it sounds just as good as the rest.

In terms of musical content, this show is a little bit longer, at an hour and two minutes, compared to 54 minutes for January 30th. And that's after I removed four songs: "Only You," "World in Harmony," "Stranger Blues,"  and "Twist and Shout." I removed those for several reasons. One, the first three are the only songs repeated from the 30th. I like listening to these two shows back to back, and I almost posted them as one big album instead of two shorter ones. I don't like repeats. "Twist and Shout" wasn't repeated, but there was something wrong with the vocals that bugged me and wasn't fixable. I can't explain it well, but it sounds as if his vocals were going "into the red," overwhelming the microphone, much of the time. So I removed it to keep the overall sound quality of the concert very high.

But also, three out of four of those are Jeremy Spencer-sung songs, and I have limited tolerance for his material anyway. With those songs removed, this concert becomes much more of a Peter Green showcase, whereas the 30th show is more dominated by Spencer's songs. Personally, I prefer this concert because of that Green emphasis. He really stretches out on the longer songs.

Speaking of Green stretching out, maybe the highlight of this show is the slow blues song "All Over Again." I've included this exact version on one of my stray tracks compilations, "The Green Manalishi," because it's the best recorded version available. So don't mind the minor duplication with that one.

Fleetwood Mac went on to record one more concert at the Warehouse the next day, February 1st. An excellent recording of that one exists as well. I've elected not to post that one here because the set list is almost exactly the same as this one, but I felt the performance here was better. Two different songs were played, but both of them were the typical Jeremy Spencer imitating Elmore James songs, which are my least favorite aspect of the band's music in the Peter Green era, by far. So I didn't even include those as bonus tracks. But if you want that concert, it's available at Wolfgang's Vault, and at various other Internet locations.

01 Sandy Mary (Fleetwood Mac)
02 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
03 All Over Again [I've Got a Mind to Give Up Living] (Fleetwood Mac)
04 I Can't Hold Out (Fleetwood Mac)
05 Oh Well, Part 1 (Fleetwood Mac)
06 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
07 Rattlesnake Shake - Searching for Madge (Fleetwood Mac)
08 Coming Your Way (Fleetwood Mac)
09 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
10 Tiger (Fleetwood Mac)

I had a rather detailed explanation on how I made the cover art for the January 30th show. I used the exact same art here, except I selected a different photo of Peter Green for the middle of it. And, of course, I changed the text slightly to show the different date. By the way, both photos of Green are from a TV appearance in late 1969, but I don't know what TV show it was. These concerts were about six weeks after that, so I think it's likely he still had that same bearded appearance.

Fleetwood Mac - The Warehouse, New Orleans, LA, 1-30-1970

Last week, I posted a Fleetwood Mac concert at the Carousel Ballroom in 1968. I thought that was the last posting of a full concert from the Peter Green era of the band that I was going to do. I'm keen to move on to posting more from the "Rumours" era of the band.

But then bk left a comment in the comments section, stating that the band's January 30, 1970 concert at the Warehouse in New Orleans was their most inspired of the Peter Green era. I'd heard that before, but I gave it another listen. I have to respectfully disagree, I don't think it's their best. In fact, I like the concert from a night later, also at the Warehouse, even better. But I was struck by the remarkable sound quality of that show and the next one, on January 31st. I also realized I could improve the sound even more with some sound editing. So I'm posting them here.

Furthermore, I want to post this as part of my continued beef against the abomination that is the 2019 officially released album "Before the Beginning." A big chunk of that consists of the Carousel Ballroom concert from 1968. The other main chunk comes from these Warehouse concerts in 1970. But, as I've mentioned before, fake crowd noise was slathered over the entire thing for no apparent reason, degrading the sound. The release also inexplicably claimed it was a mystery which concerts these recordings were from, even though bootlegs of the shows have widely circulated for decades.  Furthermore, it only included some of the Warehouse concerts when all of them are worth releasing. Even the title of the album, "Before the Beginning," is an insult, implying the entire Peter Green era of the band was just a warm-up before they really got going with the "Rumours" era line-up. Sadly, the fact that came out last year strongly implies that a correct official release of these shows isn't going to happen, at least not any time soon.

These concerts came at a historically interesting musical moment. Fleetwood Mac opened for the Grateful Dead on both nights, so their concerts are shorter than when they were the main act.  Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood later recounted what happened on the night of January 30th:

"That Dead song with the line 'busted down on Bourbon Street' ["Truckin'," from the "American Beauty" album], that was the night that Fleetwood Mac played with them at The Warehouse in New Orleans. [Grateful Dead sound engineer and LSD enthusiast Owsley Stanley] had spiked the water fountains [with LSD] and after our set, [our bassist] John McVie was out of it, and couldn't handle the fact that the Dead were going to get up and play! So he stood in the audience while the rest of us jammed with the Dead. The audience loved it - a massive freak-out."

"That was what caused Owsley eventually to go to jail. We were nearly there [where the arrest happened]. We were following their car back to the hotel, absolutely out of it on acid.  I drove the car from the back seat with my feet while somebody else worked the pedals from the side - nobody was in the driver's seat. We got lost, and by the time we arrived, they'd been busted."

So when you listen to this show, keep in mind that the band and most of the audience was tripping on LSD!

Anyway, getting to the sound quality issue, the Grateful Dead often recorded their concerts in those days, and Owsley was an excellent sound engineer for the era. Sometimes, the opening act got recorded using the same equipment, and this happens to be one of those times. But the recording for January 30th has unusually extreme stereo separation, with nearly all the vocals and guitar on one side, and mostly the drums and bass on the other side. The vocals also were rather low in the mix, especially Peter Green's. So this allowed me to improve the recording, by boosting the vocals. For some songs, I increased the volume of one entire channel relative to the other one. For other songs, I selectively boosted just the bits of the song where Green was singing, adjusting it line by line.

So that improved things considerably, I think. But I also got my musical associate MZ to help out again. As he did with the Carousel Ballroom recording, once I had made the adjustments to the stereo channels, MZ reduced the amount of stereo separation by about 30 percent, just as he did for the Carousel Ballroom show. That allows for a more normal listening experience, since extreme stereo separation has long been out of favor, after some experimentation with it in the late 1960s, when stereo first became widely popular.

I also did what I usually do to concert recordings, which is putting the between song banter on their own tracks and increasing the volume to make those parts easier to hear. I also got rid of some dead air and guitar tuning between songs. Someone named "M" did extensive work on these concerts already, fixing minor drop outs and other problems. This builds on that version, so hopefully it sounds better than ever before.

The concert is only 54 minutes long. That may be entirely due to the fact that they were only an opening act that night. But I also strongly suspect that the recording is incomplete. In this era, the band pretty much always closed with covers of lively and famous rock songs, like "Twist and Shout" or "Tiger." They did that the next two nights in the same run of Warehouse shows. But still, what is here is pretty great, and deserves a worthy, non-butchered official release.

01 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
02 Before the Beginning (Fleetwood Mac)
03 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
04 It Takes Time (Fleetwood Mac)
05 Like It This Way (Fleetwood Mac)
06 Only You (Fleetwood Mac)
07 Madison Blues (Fleetwood Mac)
08 Oh Baby (Fleetwood Mac)
09 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
10 Albatross [Instrumental] (Fleetwood Mac)
11 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
12 The Green Manalishi [With the Two-Prong Crown] (Fleetwood Mac)
13 World in Harmony [Instrumental] (Fleetwood Mac)
14 Stranger Blues (Fleetwood Mac)

I put some extra effort into making the album cover art. I couldn't find any photos from the Warehouse concerts, or even any good color photos of the band in concert in 1970, period. But I found a concert poster for the band playing at the Fillmore East in November 1969 that I liked a lot. I made some major edits to it in order to get it to fit into a square shape. I had to remove the central artwork, because it wouldn't fit into the square space, nice though it was. I put a photo of Peter Green from late 1969 in there instead. The band name up top was kept from the original poster. I added some text at the bottom using the same font and color.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Larkin Poe - Home Concert, Nashville, TN, 5-22-2020

One silver lining to the dark cloud of the coronavirus pandemic has been the many home concerts and other home recordings musicians have done while they've been stuck in lockdown at home. I've been hoping that Larkin Poe would get in on the fun, especially since they excel so well in the acoustic format. However, they've chosen to do some home concerts behind a paywall. I don't want to hinder their efforts to make a living as musicians, so I don't plan on posting those, at least not for a long, long time. If you're interested in watching their livestream concerts, you can do so here (and you can sign up retroactively, by the way):

They've been doing about one a week, each one with a different focus. A portion of the proceeds are going to United Way Nashville.

Anyway, although I don't intend to post any of that stuff, I'm glad to say that they've done some other home concert performances which they've freely posted on their Facebook page and elsewhere. So this is a collection of those. Note, by the way, that this does not include any of their "Tip O' the Hat" performances, which they continue to steadily do. I'll post another album of those when I have enough material.

This album starts with four cover songs. The first two were done as a special tribute to John Lee Hooker, and naturally are versions of his songs. The third one is a Reverend Gary Davis tribute, and is one of his songs. Then they did an Allman Brothers Band song, "Little Martha."

While all of those were recorded on separate occasions, the remainder of this album was recorded on May 22, 2020. Larkin Poe has a new album, "Self Made Man," coming out in June, so they did a home concert to help promote it. Two of the songs they played, "Holy Ghost Fire" and "Keep Diggin'," are from the upcoming album. The rest are originals, except for "Preachin' Blues" by the blues great Son House and "American Girl" by Tom Petty. (Technically, "American Girl" was from a different performance, but it was recorded on the same day, at the same location.)

I probably should mention that all the songs are acoustic performances, which isn't that surprising considering the two Larkin Poe sisters have been stuck in their house without the rest of their band. And it also goes without saying that it's great stuff. It's 41 minutes long. Let's hope they'll do more home concerts for the public domain, in which case I'll go back and rename this "Home Concert 1."

I've kept in their talking before each song. But I had to edit it down sometimes. For instance, because this is from several different dates, they introduced themselves several times, and I removed most of those intros.

01 talk (Larkin Poe)
02 Crawling King Snake (Larkin Poe)
03 talk (Larkin Poe)
04 Boom Boom (Larkin Poe)
05 talk (Larkin Poe)
06 Say No to the Devil (Larkin Poe)
07 talk (Larkin Poe)
08 Little Martha [Instrumental] (Larkin Poe)
09 talk (Larkin Poe)
10 Trouble in Mind (Larkin Poe)
11 talk (Larkin Poe)
12 Holy Ghost Fire (Larkin Poe)
13 talk (Larkin Poe)
14 Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues (Larkin Poe)
15 talk (Larkin Poe)
16 Preachin' Blues (Larkin Poe)
17 talk (Larkin Poe)
18 Keep Diggin' (Larkin Poe)
19 talk (Larkin Poe)
20 Blue Ridge Mountains (Larkin Poe)
21 talk (Larkin Poe)
22 American Girl (Larkin Poe)

The cover art is a screenshot from the May 22, 2020 concert. I randomly clicked to the middle of the show and I liked the paused image of them happy and smiling, so I used that.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Pretty Things - BBC Sessions, Volume 2: 1968-1970

On May 15, 2020, Phil May, the long-time lead vocalist of the Pretty Things, died at the age of 75 due to complications from a cycling accident. May he rest in peace. His death reminded me that I'd lost track of my posting of Pretty Things albums. I posted the first of three BBC albums in November 2019. Here's the second one. Hopefully, the third one will follow soon.

This continues my long-standing ambition to erase the vocals of Brian Matthew and the other BBC DJs from whenever they'd talked over the music. For this album, out of the ten songs, four of them needed edits to erase or patch over such vocals.

It's actually more like four out of seven songs that needed fixing, because only those seven are actual BBC performances. Six of them come from an official BBC compilation for the band. The seventh is from a various artists compilation consisting entirely of BBC performances. The remaining three songs - "Alexander," "Renaissance Fair," and "Talkin' about the Good Times" - all come from a concert in Amsterdam in 1969. Two of those have been officially released on a rarities album. The third sounds just as good. For all the live tracks, I've removed the vocals. If you didn't read this paragraph, you'd assume they were more BBC performances, because the sound quality is just as good.

The Pretty Things existed from 1963 all the way until 2018. During their many years together, they often had a Spinal Tap-ian existence where they had to suffer indignities of unpopularity, despite being very talented. Even in the late 1960s, which was one of their more popular eras, they had to resort to performing songs under an assumed name (The Electric Banana), only to find those songs often added to porn film soundtracks.

That said, this was a very strong time for them musically. Their 1968 album "S.F. Sorrow" was a definite highlight. Even though it was complicated psychedelic music, four of the songs here are from that album. The rest generally have that psychedelic vibe.

Note that I've only included songs here that I didn't put on my stray tracks albums. There are three songs - "Send You with Loving," "Spring," and "Marilyn" - in which their BBC performances are the only decent surviving recording, or maybe the only recording at all. So all three of those have gone on the 1969 stray tracks album "Eagle's Son."

01 Balloon Burning [Edit] (Pretty Things)
02 S.F. Sorrow Is Born (Pretty Things)
03 She Says Good Morning [Edit] (Pretty Things)
04 Alexander (Pretty Things)
05 Renaissance Fair (Pretty Things)
06 Talkin' about the Good Times (Pretty Things)
07 Old Man Going (Pretty Things)
08 Sickle Clowns [Edit] (Pretty Things)
09 She's a Lover (Pretty Things)
10 Cries from the Midnight Circus [Edit] (Pretty Things)

I wish there were lots of good color photos of the band on stage in the late 1960s. If there were, I'd use one here. But since I couldn't find one, I've used a publicity photo. At least I'm glad they're wearing outlandish outfits that show them at the height of their psychedelic phase.

David Bowie - BBC Sessions, Volume 6: 1974-1980

I'm probably guilty of false advertising by calling this the sixth collection of David Bowie's BBC performances. In fact, while all the other albums in this series had all or many of their songs from actual BBC performances, this one has a grand total of one ("Heroes"). The rest are from other radio and TV appearances. But I'm calling it a BBC album because it finishes off the 1970s for the series. For whatever reason, Bowie almost never appeared on the BBC much after 1973 for a long time.

When it comes to Bowie appearing on TV - and most or all of these performances are from TV shows - the trick is finding versions that aren't lip-synced. The prevalence of that unfortunate technique has risen and fallen over the years, but it's never entirely gone away. For a few of these, I believe he was singing to a backing track for at least some of the instruments. But in all cases, at least his lead vocals were done live.

Absolutely none of the performances here have been officially released. But the sound is very good, because they all come from quality recordings of TV shows.

Most of the songs are the hits you'd expect, although he performed live on TV so rarely for much of the 1970s that a lot of the hits don't appear here. However, there are a couple of unexpected choices. One, a cover medley of "Foot Stompin' - I Wish I Could Shimmy like My Sister Kate," wasn't released by him at time. It's clear why, since it obviously soon evolved into his original hit song "Fame."

It's also unexpected that he sang a duet with Cher on a lesser known song of his. They also did a duet of a long medley. I haven't included it because it's so painful and cheesy, in a 1970s variety show way. It started out with "Young Americans," but did snippets of many more songs, including "Do Do Run Run," "Day Tripper," "Blue Moon," "Young Blood," and more. Trust me, it's better to read about it than to actually hear it. But if you really want to, you can find it on YouTube.

This series comes to an end in 1980, because his radio and TV appearances seem to have dwindled down after that year. Even for 1983, which was his biggest year in terms of commercial success with the "Let's Dance" album and subsequent world tour, I couldn't find any good TV or radio appearances that weren't taken from his concert tour. However, he did resume performing for the BBC in the 1990s, so the series will pick up again then.

This album is 54 minutes long.

01 1984 (David Bowie)
02 Young Americans (David Bowie)
03 Foot Stompin' - I Wish I Could Shimmy like My Sister Kate (David Bowie)
04 Can You Hear Me (David Bowie & Cher)
05 Fame (David Bowie)
06 Heroes (David Bowie)
07 Rebel Rebel (David Bowie)
08 Stay (David Bowie)
09 Beauty and the Beast (David Bowie)
10 Alabama Song [Whisky Bar] (David Bowie)
11 TVC-15 (David Bowie)
12 The Man Who Sold the World (David Bowie)
13 Boys Keep Swinging (David Bowie)
14 Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie)

In 1979, Bowie appeared on "Saturday Night Live" wearing some exceedingly strange outfits. (He changed outfits after each song to maximize the strangeness.) The cover art photo here comes from that performance. Unfortunately, I can't really capture the event with a single photo. It's worth tracking down on YouTube and watching.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Al Green - The Midnight Special, NBC Studios, Burbank, CA, 9-10-1974

It's very strange to me how little of Al Green's live material has been released. He's had a career about as long as James Brown's. There are at least 32 official James Brown live albums. Whereas there is only one official Al Green live album, and that one is marred by the fact that it was recorded at the height of the disco era. So there's nothing from him in his 1970s prime. Yet he performed very exciting concerts, often going well beyond just slavishly reproducing the studio versions.

I've tried to fix this by posting a 1973 concert he did for a TV show. You can find that here:

And now, I'm posting this one. Although it's only from one year later, Green had so many hits during that time that the song list is very different, with only three songs featured on both.

The bulk of this album comes from an appearance he made on "The Midnight Special," a popular US musical TV show in the 1970s. But I've augmented that with some songs he did for "Soul Train," another such TV show. The first song comes from a 1974 "Soul Train" appearance, and the last three come from a 1975 appearance.

One problem with these types of shows is that they don't want to waste any time. So the DJ typically talks right up until the start of a song, and then resumes immediately after the song ends. That happened here in almost every case. So I had to do some tricky editing to extend the audience applause after each song, instead of having the song come to total silence a couple of seconds after the last note was played.

But unfortunately some of the editing for the TV shows went further and cut the song off even before it finished. That happened for "Let's Get Married" and "Love and Happiness." So in those cases, I found proper endings from other live versions and patched them in. They don't work perfectly, but I figured it was better than just having the songs suddenly fade out.

There was a much bigger problem for the song "Sweet Sixteen." For the recording I had, the middle part of the song had numerous drop-outs, leaving gaps of silence up to five seconds long. Luckily, I found a different performance of the song on "Soul Train" that same year. So I patched in a minute or two of that. Again, it wasn't a perfect edit, but it's far better than having the endure all the drop outs.

Between this concert and the other Al Green one I've posted, just about all of his big 1970s hits are included. A year or two after this, he began getting much more religious with his music. A few years after that, he left the music industry altogether for a while to be a preacher. He's generally done a mix of religious and secular music ever since. So if you're not into his religious material, these two 1970s concerts are the only live recordings I know with good sound quality.

And by the way, the sound quality here isn't excellent, but it gets the job done. Clearly, the bootleg I had was recorded from the TV, so expect 1970s TV reception sound quality.

Like the other Al Green concert I've posted, this one is a little short of one hour long. If you only include the actual "Midnight Special" songs, it's 35 minutes long.

01 Livin' for You (Al Green)
02 Sweet Sixteen [Edit] (Al Green)
03 Tired of Being Alone (Al Green)
04 Here I Am [Come and Take Me] (Al Green)
05 Let's Get Married [Edit] (Al Green)
06 Love and Happiness [Edit] (Al Green)
07 Let's Stay Together (Al Green)
08 I'm Still in Love with You (Al Green)
09 Sha-La-La [Make Me Happy] (Al Green)
10 L-O-V-E [Love] (Al Green)
11 Take Me to the River (Al Green)

At first, I thought this concert took place on October 4, 1974. But then I found a photo of him from September 10, 1974, said to be in Los Angeles (with Burbank a suburb of that), where he was wearing the exact same outfit. Furthermore, the background even appears to be the same. (You can find the whole show on YouTube.) So I figure the concert was recorded on September 10th and then broadcast later, as was the typical procedure in those days.

Richard & Linda Thompson - The Bottom Line, New York City, 5-18-1982, Late Show

A couple of days ago, I posted the early show of Richard and Linda Thompson playing the Bottom Line in New York City on May 18, 1982. This is the late show from the same night. If you liked the early show, you'll like this one too. And you should get both, if only because the song list is fairly different.

Most of what I want to say here has been said in my comments for the early show. But I'll sum up by saying that the concert highlight of Richard and Linda Thompson's career together has to be their final 1982 tour, and the Bottom Line shows have to be the highlight of that tour. If nothing else, the Bottom Line shows stand out due to the sound quality - these are pristine soundboards.

As with the early show, I did some audio tweaking here and there. Mostly, I boosted the volume of the talking between songs, and I also deleted some aimless guitar tuning and the like. Also, like the early show, the audience reaction after each song was abnormally quiet, since the soundboard didn't record much audience noise. So I tried to boost the volume of that for each song.

The song "Sloth" presented a more difficult problem. There was a gap with some missing music in it halfway through the song. I'm not sure how much was missing, but I'm guessing about 10 or 20 seconds. I couldn't patch this with a section from a different part of the song, or even from a different version, because the band was in the middle of an instrumental soloing section that was unique. So I just closed the gap and overlapped the two sections a little bit. Hopefully, you won't notice.

I've added three bonus tracks of sorts to the end of the concert. Between the early and late show, just about every song they played on the 1982 tour is included, but not every one. There are a few that aren't recorded or only recorded in poor to middling quality. I didn't include any of those. But I found three that were recorded with the same sort of high quality as the rest of this concert, so I did include those. I'm especially happy that I was able to include "Wall of Death," both because it's one of Richard Thompson's very best songs, in my opinion, and also because it was the only song from the 1982 album "Shoot Out the Lights" that wasn't already included in the early or late show.

01 Dargai [Instrumental] (Richard & Linda Thompson)
02 Man in Need (Richard & Linda Thompson)
03 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
04 I'm a Dreamer (Richard & Linda Thompson)
05 Hard Luck Stories (Richard & Linda Thompson)
06 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
07 Pavanne (Richard & Linda Thompson)
08 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
09 Lonely Hearts (Richard & Linda Thompson)
10 You're Going to Need Somebody (Richard & Linda Thompson)
11 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
12 Genesis Hall (Richard & Linda Thompson)
13 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
14 Sloth [Edit] (Richard & Linda Thompson)
15 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
16 Don't Renege on Our Love (Richard & Linda Thompson)
17 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
18 Just the Motion (Richard & Linda Thompson)
19 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
20 Borrowed Time (Richard & Linda Thompson)
21 High School Confidential [Edit] (Richard & Linda Thompson)
22 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
23 Night Comes In (Richard & Linda Thompson)
24 I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (Richard & Linda Thompson)
25 Wall of Death (Richard & Linda Thompson)

As I mentioned in my comments for the early show, normally I'm loathe to use black and white photos for the cover art, but in this case I found two (and only two) photos actually from the Bottom Line on the correct date, so I couldn't resist using them. I don't know if they're from the early or late shows. Some months after first posting this album, I colorized this one. Also, like the picture for the early show, I moved Linda and Richard closer together.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Various Artists - Can't Be Here Now - Mother's Day Special Home Concert, 5-10-2020

In late March 2020, singer songwriter Billy Bragg wrote a song about the difficulty of being separated from loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. He called it "Can't Be There Today," and posted it on YouTube. From that, he came up with the idea to have a special home concert on Mother's Day, May 10, 2020, to help people celebrate that day in these weird times. The concert is named "Can't Be Here Now" as a play on that song title.

A lot of the best singer songwriter types joined in, recording one or two songs from wherever they happened to be hunkered down, and then sending in their videos. So I think this is unique in my music collection in that this "concert" has no fixed single location. Some of the musicians spoke a little bit before or after their songs, and others didn't. Most of the songs have some connection to a mother's day or at least a mother theme, but a few do not. It's a pretty loose gathering of performances, with no fixed rules.

No less than seven of the artists are ones that I've posted albums of here at this blog: Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rosanne Cash, the Indigo Girls, Jorma Kaukonen, Joan Osborne, KT Tunstall, and Loudon Wainwright III. There are some other big names for this type of music as well, such as Bragg, Steve Earle, Rufus Wainwright, and Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields. I have to confess that I wasn't that familiar with the others, but hopefully if you listen to this you'll discover some new artists, just as I have.

Since this is a collection of home recorded videos, the audio quality is variable. I did my best to adjust the volume and improve the mix whenever I could. The result is pretty good overall. But there were a couple of significant problems I couldn't fix. Valerie June recorded her song in the great outdoors. That looked nice on video, but late in the song a big gust of wind came along and blew on the microphone for about thirty seconds, rendering that part of the song unlistenable. Luckily, it was just a repeat of the chorus, so I was able to salvage the song by editing that part out. Some of her talking had to be cut out due to more wind.

Also, the Indigo Girls played their best known song "Closer to Fine." But the vocals of the lead vocalist Emily Saliers was way down in the mix compared to the guitar and the other vocalist Amy Ray. I couldn't do anything to fix that, so it's a rather unusual version.

The concert is nearly two hours long. If you don't like some of the artists and/or songs, you can edit your version down to just the ones you do like, and you'll probably still have a fairly lengthy album.

Oh, and by the way, I just posted the fourth of Norah Jones's home concert albums a day ago. It turns out I missed including one song and got the name of another song wrong. So if you've downloaded that one, I recommend you do it again, now that I've fixed those things.

01 Can't Be There Today (Billy Bragg)
02 The Sunken Lands (Rosanne Cash)
03 talk (Fink)
04 My Love's Already There (Fink)
05 Buckets of Rain (Joan Osborne)
06 talk (Loudon Wainwright III)
07 White Winos (Loudon Wainwright III)
08 talk (Loudon Wainwright III)
09 Oedipus Rex (Loudon Wainwright III)
10 talk (Loudon Wainwright III)
11 talk (Todd Snider)
12 Enjoy Yourself (Todd Snider)
13 talk (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
14 Late for Your Life (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
15 talk (Richard Thompson with Zara Phillips)
16 A Heart Needs a Home (Richard Thompson with Zara Phillips)
17 talk (Richard Thompson with Zara Phillips)
18 talk (Andrew Bird)
19 What Shall I Feel My Love (Andrew Bird)
20 talk (KT Tunstall)
21 I Want You Back (KT Tunstall)
22 talk (KT Tunstall)
23 Black Horse and the Cherry Tree (KT Tunstall)
24 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
25 I Am the Light of This World (Jorma Kaukonen)
26 talk (Amy Helm)
27 Sing to Me (Amy Helm)
28 talk (Amy Helm)
29 Yakety Yak (Amy Helm)
30 talk (Mountain Goats)
31 Love Cuts the Strings (Mountain Goats)
32 talk (Mountain Goats)
33 talk (Steve Earle)
34 Devil's Right Hand (Steve Earle)
35 talk (Stella Donnelly)
36 Season's Greetings (Stella Donnelly)
37 Hammer (Shovels & Rope)
38 This Ride (Shovels & Rope)
39 talk (Joseph Arthur)
40 The Movies (Joseph Arthur)
41 The Day the Politicians Died (Stephin Merritt)
42 talk (Rufus Wainwright)
43 Peaceful Afternoon (Rufus Wainwright)
44 talk (Rufus Wainwright)
45 Tired of America (Rufus Wainwright)
46 talk (Rufus Wainwright)
47 talk (Valerie June)
48 Sadie [Edit] (Valerie June)
49 talk (Valerie June)
50 talk (Hamilton Leithauser)
51 The Garbage Men (Hamilton Leithauser)
52 talk (Indigo Girls)
53 Closer to Fine (Indigo Girls)
54 talk (Billy Bragg)
55 I Keep Faith (Billy Bragg)
56 talk (Billy Bragg)

The video of the entire concert is on YouTube, if you want to watch it as well as hear it. (Just search for key words in the title.) So I could have used screenshots from that. However, if I did that, I would have to favor some artists over others, since there's no way I could fit them all in without having them look tiny. So instead I used the playbill that was promote the show. I made some changes, including squishing the entire thing horizontally to make it fit into a square space. I also redid the names of the artists, since there were about four of them that joined in late and so didn't get mentioned. But there's all mentioned here.

Norah Jones - Home Concerts 4, New York City, 5-7-2020 to 5-21-2020

When it comes to home concerts during the coronavirus pandemic, Norah Jones is continuing to kill it. She records about one "mini-concert" each week, with the occasional song or two added in. This consists of three mini-concerts plus one stray song.

I don't have a lot to say about this. If you've enjoyed the three home concerts of hers I posted already, you'll enjoy this one too. I've noticed that sometimes she's talkative and sometimes she isn't. For the first two mini-concerts here, she hardly said anything between songs. But for the third one, she had some comments between each song. For each of her talking tracks between songs, I boosted the volume considerably because her voice can be a very quiet whisper.

Jones has a new album called "Pick Me Up Off the Floor," which is due to be released in June 2020.  But although she's doing some songs that are new for her, they don't line up with the song titles for her new album. For instance, she calls "Tryin' to Keep It Together" a new song, but it doesn't seem to be on her new album. (Apparently, it will be a bonus track for the album.) She also performs the standards "I'll Be Seeing You" and "The Nearness of You." Most of the other songs are from her previous albums.

This album is 44 minutes long.

Oh, I edited "December" because she started the song, made a mistake, and then tried again. I stitched together part of the false start to make a complete version.

01 Feelin' the Same Way (Norah Jones)
02 talk (Norah Jones)
03 Tryin' to Keep It Together (Norah Jones)
04 Begin Again (Norah Jones)
05 Chasing Pirates (Norah Jones)
06 Little Broken Hearts (Norah Jones)
07 The Nearness of You (Norah Jones)
08 I'll Be Seeing You (Norah Jones)
09 talk (Norah Jones)
10 Were You Watching (Norah Jones)
11 talk (Norah Jones)
12 Don't Know What It Means (Norah Jones)
13 talk (Norah Jones)
14 December [Edit] (Norah Jones)
15 Back to Manhattan (Norah Jones)

The cover art is a screenshot from one of the home concerts featured here. Once again, I had to erase the wall decoration just behind her head, because in my opinion it could be confused for something attached to her hair.

Bonepony - Stomp Revival (1995)

I try hard not to post any officially released album without making significant changes to it, because I don't want to be taking away what little royalties musicians are still getting. But every now and then I make exceptions, and this is one. It's my impression this album is out of print in most formats, so hopefully I'll be doing more good than harm by drawing attention to the band's work.

Chances are, you've never heard of Bonepony. They've never had a hit or much radio airplay. I'm not even sure if they're still in existence, since they haven't put out a new studio album since 2006. I heard about them due to word of mouth from friends who I think have great taste in music. They've put out several albums, but in my opinion, their 1995 debut "Stomp Revival" towers above the others. I consider this a "five-star" album, and I'm very sparing in giving any album that rating.

The band's music is hard to describe, because it doesn't easily find in any musical niche. They're a trio, and they don't even have a drummer. Instead, they've employed a "stomp shoe" - an amplifier built into a shoe - in order to create a stomping beat. Rather than describe them further, I'll quote from the review of this album:

"Scott Johnson, Bryan Ward, and Kenny Mims employ mandolins, fiddles, dobros, and dulcimers on their debut album, which would seem to suggest a traditional country or bluegrass sound. But they wield their instruments as aggressively as if they were electric guitars and howl their lyrics as though they were singing punk rock, so the result is a lively hybrid of old timey and new wave."

I think that describes them well. I like their style, but what really impresses me is the quality of the songwriting and the passion of the performances. In a more just musical world, songs like "Sugar on the Pill" and "Poor Boy Blues" would have been all over classic rock radio.

Anyway, if you generally like the type of music I post on this blog, please give this album a try. It's got the general rootsy, acoustic sound I enjoy and post a lot of, yet it's very lively. If I saw these guys in concert, I'd want to get up and dance. So it's a good album to put you in an upbeat mood. If you like this, hopefully you'll be inspired to check out other albums they've made. They also have a couple of live albums that are particularly good, since the band shines in a live setting.

01 Poor Boy Blues (Bonepony)
02 Where the Water's Deep (Bonepony)
03 Blue Blue Blue (Bonepony)
04 P.S.O.B. (Bonepony)
05 Right Time to Love (Bonepony)
06 Soap (Bonepony)
07 Seeds of Peace (Bonepony)
08 Bleeker Street (Bonepony)
09 Shrouded in Blue (Bonepony)
10 Travelin' Stew (Bonepony)
11 Rebecca (Bonepony)
12 Feast of Life (Bonepony)
13 Sugar on the Pill (Bonepony)

The album cover art is the exact officially released cover art, with no changes.

Richard & Linda Thompson - The Bottom Line, New York City, 5-18-1982, Early Show

I've been looking for an excellent Richard and Linda Thompson concert recording from 1982 for a long time, but I wasn't aware of worthy one. Until a few days ago, that is. Their 1982 tour is the most interesting one for me, because it was the last time they performed concerts together, which meant they could draw on songs from all their albums. Most importantly, it happened right after the release of "Shoot Out the Lights," which I consider one of the top 100 albums of all time, so of course the songs from that album were prominently featured.

The 1982 tour was full of personal drama, to say the least. In 1981, Linda was Richard's wife and was very pregnant with his child when they recorded the "Shoot Out the Lights" album. The release of the album was delayed a few months until she'd recovered from giving birth and was physically ready to tour. In the meanwhile, Richard performed a short tour in the US to help draw interest for a planned bigger tour with Linda. He fell in love with the woman who helped set up the tour, Nancy Covey, and broke his marriage vows. He would marry Nancy a couple of years later. But in the meantime, a May 1982 Richard and Linda Thompson tour of the US went ahead, despite the fact their marriage was dramatically falling apart. The tour has since been dubbed "The Tour from Hell," due to the extreme personal tensions off stage. But on stage, they generally carried on in a musically successful manner.

Some of the shows were professionally recorded with a plan to release a live album of it. But some technical problems with a few of the recorded shows meant the album never happened, even though some other shows were recorded just fine. Over the years, some live recordings have come out here and there. Most notably, a 2010 re-release of "Shoot Out the Lights" had a second disc of live performances from the tour. But the songs were selected from a number of different shows. No single concert from the tour has been released in full, or anything close to full.

On May 18, 1982, the Thompsons played an early and late show at the Bottom Line in New York City. Soundboard recordings of these shows have come out as bootlegs. It's highly likely these are among the professionally recorded shows meant for the planned live album. As a result, the sound quality is excellent.

However, there were a few issues with the recording. One problem with great soundboards is that they often record what's happening on stage very well but then record almost nothing of the audience. So when each song ends, it seems as if the band is playing to a tiny and/or uninterested crowd. That was the case here. So I carefully boosted the volume of the crowd reaction after every song.

Furthermore, for whatever reason, the volume of the between song banter and a few acoustic songs was way, way below the volume of the electric songs. Note the two ways in "way, way below," because there was an extremely unusual difference there, even compared to most soundboard recordings of this nature. But I was able to fix that by drastically increasing the volume of the quiet parts. That did result in some hiss sometimes. For the talking between songs, I employed some noise reduction to make that less obvious. But I didn't do that with the songs themselves.

There are a couple of other soundboard bootlegs from the 1982 "Tour from Hell." But in my opinion, the Bottom Line shows are the definitive ones, at least in terms of what has become public. A big reason for that is because both the early and late shows were recorded well, and between the two shows, just about every song the band knew how to play on the tour got played. I'm posting the early show here, but I'll post the late show soon as well.

By the way, I have "Edit" in the name of "Just the Motion" because there was about half a minute missing from the middle of the song. The song was also played in the late show, so I used the missing portion from that to patch it up. Luckily, the missing section wasn't in the middle of a solo, so it sounds fine now.

01 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
02 Back Street Slide (Richard & Linda Thompson)
03 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
04 Walking on a Wire (Richard & Linda Thompson)
05 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
06 Newfangled Floggin Reel - Kerry Reel [Instrumental] (Richard & Linda Thompson)
07 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
08 Honky Tonk Blues (Richard & Linda Thompson)
09 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
10 I'll Keep It with Mine (Richard & Linda Thompson)
11 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
12 You're Going to Need Somebody (Richard & Linda Thompson)
13 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
14 Dimming of the Day (Richard & Linda Thompson)
15 Withered and Died (Richard & Linda Thompson)
16 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
17 Man in Need (Richard & Linda Thompson)
18 Just the Motion [Edit] (Richard & Linda Thompson)
19 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
20 Don't Renege on Our Love (Richard & Linda Thompson)
21 Did She Jump or Was She Pushed (Richard & Linda Thompson)
22 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
23 Shoot Out The Lights (Richard & Linda Thompson)
24 For the Shame of Doing Wrong (Richard & Linda Thompson)
25 talk (Richard & Linda Thompson)
26 Down Where the Drunkards Roll (Richard & Linda Thompson)
27 Danny Boy (Richard & Linda Thompson)

If you've closely followed this blog, you may have noticed that I have a strong dislike of using black and white photos for the album cover art. While that's true in general, I make exceptions sometimes, such as this one. It's surprisingly hard to find any good photos of Richard and Linda Thompson at all. But it so happens I've found two photos of them from the very Bottom Line shows on May 18, 1982. The only downside is they're in black and white. Some months after first posting this album, I colorized this photo.

Also, in the original photo, Richard and Linda were standing about four or five feet apart. I used Photoshop to move them closer together, to make a better picture.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Manfred Mann - Do Wah Diddy Diddy - Non-Album Tracks (1963-1964)

A few weeks ago, I posted two albums of Manfred Mann's BBC performances. At that time, I promised or threatened to post a lot more from the band, depending on your point of view. ;) I say it's high time for a reassessment of Manfred Mann's 1960s music, so that's what I'm doing here. I plan on posting their 1960s studio material in a more logical and organized manner, starting here.

Manfred Mann, the band, went way back. They started out in London as the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers in 1962, before the Beatles-led British Invasion mania began. Weirdly, their producer insisted they rename themselves "Manfred Mann" after their keyboard player, even though he wasn't the central focus of the band. (Lead singer Paul Jones was.) As I mentioned in a previous post, the band members were talented jazz musicians who switched to blues and then rock and pop because that sort of music was much more popular and could pay the bills better. But that was sort of their secret ingredient, because while most "beat groups" were still learning how to play their instruments in 1963, Manfred Mann already sounded professional. But they rarely showed off with lots of soloing.

The songs here are arranged chronologically, at least as well as I could do based on limited information. About half of the songs here were only released much later, on archival collections. They put out two singles in 1963, and both were total flops. But their fortunes changed drastically with their first single of 1964. Based on their growing touring reputation, they were asked to write the theme song for the new British music variety show "Ready Steady Go." The song they wrote, "5-4-3-2-1," rose to number five in the British charts. A few months later, they did even better with a cover of "Do Wah Diddy Diddy." That was a massive hit around the world, including reaching number one in both the US and Britain.

From that point on, the band became known mainly for their singles, which generally were cover versions. But I hope this album shows that, even way back in 1963, the band was more than that. Even at this early stage, they already were writing some of their own songs, and already showing an interest in jazzy instrumentals. But the band would get a lot better as the 1960s progressed.

This album is fairly short by today's standards, at only 35 minutes long. I did that in keeping with the style of the era.

01 Let's Go (Manfred Mann)
02 I Don't Want to Know (Manfred Mann)
03 Chattering [Instrumental] (Manfred Mann)
04 Tell Me What Did I Say (Manfred Mann)
05 Why Should We Not [Instrumental] (Manfred Mann)
06 Brother Jack [Frere Jacques] [Instrumental] (Manfred Mann)
07 Cook-A-Hoop (Manfred Mann)
08 Now You're Needing Me (Manfred Mann)
09 Ain't That Love (Manfred Mann)
10 Sticks and Stones (Manfred Mann)
11 All Your Love (Manfred Mann)
12 5-4-3-2-1 (Manfred Mann)
13 Hubble Bubble [Toil and Trouble] (Manfred Mann)
14 Do Wah Diddy Diddy (Manfred Mann)
15 John Hardy (Manfred Mann)
16 Sha La La (Manfred Mann)

The album cover is one of the many covers of their "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" single. I made a few minor changes. The main one is that I stretched the album title sideways to overwrite the name of the B-side song. I also did some cleaning up here and there, and increased the contrast.

Jorma Kaukonen - Home Concerts 1, Fur Peace Ranch, Pomeroy, OH, 4-4-2020 to 4-11-2020

Some musician have been quiet in terms of public musical activity during the coronavirus lockdown, and others have been very active. Jorma Kaukonen has definitely been one of the active ones, putting on one lengthy home concert a week since the lockdown began. In case you don't know who he is, he was the lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane in the 1960s, then has been part of the blues-based duo Hot Tuna ever since then, along with bassist Jack Cassady, also formerly of Jefferson Airplane. Since the 1970s, he's put out a mix of solo albums and Hot Tuna. Frankly, they don't sound that different to me, because he's the sole songwriter and lead vocalist on both.

Ever since leaving Jefferson Airplane, Kaukonen's recordings have been heavily influenced by the blues, most especially the acoustic blues of the Reverend Gary Davis. Since that time, he's done a lot of covers of blues classics, especially Gary Davis songs. But he's also written many of his own songs. And although they're informed by the blues, they have a distinctive style of their own.

This is the first of several albums of his 2020 home concerts that I plan on posting here. But I have to admit I've done something you might consider unexpected, if you're familiar with his music. To be frank, I'm kind of burned out on his covers of blues classics, especially his covers of Gary Davis songs. I feel like I've heard him do songs like "Death Don't Have No Mercy," "Candy Man," and "True Religion" a million times. I much more interested in his original songs. So, for these albums, I've pretty much just selected his originals (with occasional exceptions).

I've made some other significant omissions. For his home concerts, he typically has his wife select questions that have been asked by fans, and then he answers them between songs. I cut all of that out, and lots of talking besides. If I didn't, it would be nearly as much talking as music, and it's not the kind that lends itself to repeated listenings. If you want to hear all that, check out the YouTube videos of the full concerts. I did keep some between song banter, but generally just the bits that relate to the songs being played.

Furthermore, for each of his concerts, he typically has some guest musicians who sing their own songs. They're usually Myron Hart and/or John Hurlbut, neither of whom I'd heard of before. I'm not really interested in their stuff, and I want to keep the focus on Kaukonen and his original songs, so I've cut all their songs out as well, even though Kaukonen joins them on guitar.

Because I've cut out a bunch of stuff, this comes from two concerts instead of just one. It's an hour and seven minutes long. I hope this helps people appreciate what a talented songwriter he is, as well as being well known for his guitar playing. I could be wrong, but I think the only songs here he didn't write are "Good Shepherd" (which he did with Jefferson Airplane) and "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime."

01 Heart Temporary (Jorma Kaukonen)
02 Been So Long (Jorma Kaukonen)
03 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
04 Barbeque King (Jorma Kaukonen)
05 Sea Child (Jorma Kaukonen)
06 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
07 In the Kingdom (Jorma Kaukonen)
08 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
09 Good Shepherd (Jorma Kaukonen)
10 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
11 Brother, Can You Spare a Dime (Jorma Kaukonen)
12 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
13 Water Song [Instrumental] (Jorma Kaukonen)
14 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
15 Ice Age (Jorma Kaukonen)
16 Living in the Moment [Instrumental] (Jorma Kaukonen)
17 Sleep Song (Jorma Kaukonen)
18 Genesis (Jorma Kaukonen)
19 What Are They Doing in Heaven Today (Jorma Kaukonen)
20 Embryonic Journey [Instrumental] (Jorma Kaukonen)

The cover art is a screenshot from the first concert featured here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Neil Finn - Home Concerts 6, Los Angeles, CA, 4-19-2020 to 4-21-2020

Here's the next in my series of home concert recordings by Neil Finn, formerly of Split Enz and Crowded House, and now a member of Fleetwood Mac. If you haven't given any of these a listen, you should. As I said before, I was only a mild fan of his earlier bands, but I've come to appreciate him as a major artist due to these recordings.

One again, this mostly consists of originals, with some covers added in. The covers are:

This Guy's in Love with You - Burt Bacharach / Herb Alpert
Wild World - Cat Stevens
Norwegian Wood - Beatles
I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
Irish Heartbeat - Van Morrison
To Love Somebody - Bee Gees

As usual, I'm not including his versions of songs he wrote and sang in his earlier bands as covers. But I suppose one might consider his version of a song like "Six Months in a Leaky Boat" a cover, since that Split Enz hit was actually written by his brother Tim Finn.

I had to make some edits on some songs. As with the rest of his home recordings, he's taking a winging it without a safety net approach, which means he makes mistakes sometimes. For instance, with the song "Edible Flowers," halfway through the song, he got a phone call from his Fleetwood Mac band mate Mick Fleetwood. So he stopped the song, took the call, and talked to him for a while (and kept the recording going). When the call ended, he resumed the song more or less where he'd stopped. I patched it up to make it one whole performance.

Or as another example, there are some tricky guitar riffs in the middle of the song "Nails in My Feet." He messed up the first two, then apologized while he kept playing, and finally got the third one right. I fixed his errors and removed the apology. The way I figure, it might be charming to hear the mistakes once or twice, but if I'm going to listen to this album lots of times, I don't want jarring mistakes.

By the way, I hope you especially appreciate the work I put into making this album, because I had to do it twice! I did it once, and then realize I'd had the wrong setting in my sound editing program, so all the songs had been recorded in mono. I had to download everything and do it all over from scratch to have it in stereo. Ugh!

01 This Guy's in Love with You (Neil Finn)
02 Lost Island (Neil Finn)
03 Wild World (Neil Finn) (Neil Finn)
04 Back to Life (Neil Finn & Liam Finn)
05 Won't Give In (Neil Finn & Liam Finn)
06 Norwegian Wood (Neil Finn)
07 Paradise [Edit] (Neil Finn)
08 Walking on the Spot (Neil Finn)
09 Poor Boy (Neil Finn)
10 Six Months in a Leaky Boat (Neil Finn)
11 Edible Flowers [Edit] (Neil Finn)
12 In the Lowlands (Neil Finn)
13 Anything Can Happen (Neil Finn)
14 Nails in My Feet (Neil Finn)
15 I Can See Clearly Now (Neil Finn)
16 Irish Heartbeat (Neil Finn)
17 To Love Somebody (Neil Finn)

The cover art is another screenshot from one of the few videos he's released on him playing songs during the coronavirus lockdown.

Fleetwood Mac - Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, CA, 6-9-1968

Here's a really killer album. If you're into the Peter Green era of Fleetwood Mac whatsoever, this is a must have! It's a great performance with jaw-droppingly great sound for an unreleased 1968 concert.

Technically, this has been released. Just last year, an album came out called "Before the Beginning." But as I complained in another blog post, it's one of the worst official releases from a major band in decades. The biggest problem is they added fake crowd noise all the way through every song! But there are so many other things wrong with it. For instance, although they included most of this concert, they claimed not to know the date or the location, and acted like they were newly recovered mystery recordings. Even the title of the album is offensive, with "Before the Beginning" implying that the entire Peter Green era was just a warm-up before the "real" "Rumours" band line-up became big stars in the 1970s.

So let's just pretend that abomination of an album doesn't exist. Needless to say, I'm not using the botched recording from that album. This is a much better version.

I'm not sure how or why this recording exists. It's so good that I presume it had to have been professionally recorded. But there are some flaws. At a few points, the recording started or stopped in the middle of a song. Some times, I was able to fix that. For instance, the first few seconds of the first song was missing, but I was able to patch that up. It could be there were more songs from before that that were lost though. The rest of the first set is intact, with "Lazy Poker Blues" announced as the last song of that set. The second set begins with special guest Paul Butterfield sitting in and playing harmonica. But only about one minutes of the first song with him, "Stop Messin' Round," exists, so I didn't include that.

Later, "Ready Teddy," probably the last song of the second set, gets cut off, so I didn't include that either. Then the last few songs are actually from probably two nights earlier at the same location. That appears to be the very end of the second set in that concert. Luckily, the "Ready Teddy" finale for that show is complete, and included here. This other night's recording begins with only about a minute of "I Need Your Love So Bad," so I didn't include that. It also has a full version of "I Believe My Time Ain't Long," but I didn't include that either, since there's a good full version of that earlier in the recording. Thus, when it comes to that other show, I've only included "Shake Your Moneymaker" and "Ready Teddy," plus some between song banter. But that little bit is very helpful, because it's the end of a concert, and the end to the other concert is cut off.

Anyway, I know that sounds confusing, but the bottom line is that after I've trimmed out some partial songs and one duplicate, what's left is a remarkable concert that's an hour and forty minutes long. It has to be the best live recording of the band in their first couple of years, officially released or not.

Now, I need to discuss the edits made to this recording, because I did some things to make this sound even better than the usual bootleg versions floating around the Internet. It so happens that the recording has an extreme stereo mix. For instance, nearly all of the vocals are in one channel and nearly all of the lead guitar is in the other channel. To my ears, the vocals were often too low and the guitar was too loud. So I carefully went through each song and raised or lowered the volume of the channels to get a better mix.

Then, once I was done with that, I sent the whole recording to my musical associate MZ. I asked him if he could reduce the extreme nature of the stereo separation, and he did. No music was lost, but he essentially moved the stereo mix towards the center by about 30 percent. That means most of the vocals are still on one side and most of the guitars are still on the other, but it's not quite as extreme as before. That makes for a better listening experience, in my opinion (and MZ's as well).

As a minor note, the eighth song here is normally just listed as "Instrumental," including on that terrible "Before the Beginning" album. But when I heard the song, I recognized the main riff as the one from "I Wish You Would," a blues song originally by Billy Boy Arnold. I knew it because it was covered by the Yardbirds. But it would be more accurate to say it's an instrumental jam loosely based on the "I Wish You Would" riff.

01 Madison Blues (Fleetwood Mac)
02 My Baby's Gone (Fleetwood Mac)
03 The Woman I Love [My Baby's Skinny] (Fleetwood Mac)
04 Worried Dream (Fleetwood Mac)
05 Dust My Broom (Fleetwood Mac)
06 Got to Move (Fleetwood Mac)
07 Trying So Hard to Forget (Fleetwood Mac)
08 I Wish You Would [Instrumental Version] (Fleetwood Mac)
09 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
10 Have You Ever Loved a Woman (Fleetwood Mac)
11 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
12 Lazy Poker Blues (Fleetwood Mac)
13 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
14 I Loved Another Woman (Fleetwood Mac with Paul Butterfield)
15 talk (Fleetwood Mac with Paul Butterfield)
16 I Believe My Time Ain't Long (Fleetwood Mac with Paul Butterfield)
17 The Sun Is Shining (Fleetwood Mac with Paul Butterfield)
18 talk (Fleetwood Mac with Paul Butterfield)
19 Long Tall Sally (Fleetwood Mac with Paul Butterfield)
20 Willie and the Hand Jive (Fleetwood Mac)
21 Tutti Frutti (Fleetwood Mac)
22 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
23 Shake Your Moneymaker (Fleetwood Mac)
24 talk (Fleetwood Mac)
25 Ready Teddy (Fleetwood Mac)

For the album cover, I wanted a photo of Fleetwood Mac in concert in 1968. It turns out there are very few good ones like that. After some digging, I did find a good one, from a concert in Copenhagen, Denmark, in November 1968. From left to right, it shows Jeremy Spencer, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Peter Green. But there were two problems with Green. For one, he was way off to the side, far from the other band members. So, using Photoshop, I moved him (and his shadow) back towards the others, so I could have a more concise photo. The second problem was that, due to the lighting, his body looked good, but his head was essentially missing, because it was hidden in the darkness. So I found another photo of Green in 1968 with his head at the correct angle, and pasted it in. Hopefully I've adjusted the lighting on his head enough so the addition blends in correctly.

EDIT: Since someone commented on it, I've added it a portion of the original photo, so you can see the "headless" Peter Green, as well as how far he actually was from the rest of the band.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Brandi Carlile - Cover Songs, Volume 6: 2019-2020

This is the sixth and final album in my series of Brandi Carlile's cover songs. If you've missed out on the earlier albums, it's not too late to join the party. ;) As I said with the earlier albums, you don't have to be a fan of her original material to enjoy her fantastic voice and excellent taste in cover versions.

This album follows the same patterns as the previous ones in this series. She mostly does a wide variety of classic songs, but there are a few obscurities included as well. This finishes with her version of "Hello in There" that he did on Stephen Colbert's late night talk show last month. As I explained in the first album in this series, seeing her do that on TV was how I got interested in doing this series.

In terms of sound quality, this is also similar to others in the series. Every single song is officially unreleased. The vast majority of them are from concert bootlegs. The sound on the first song, "She's Got You," is a bit iffy, but it gets better from there. I've included "I Will Always Love You" merely as a bonus track due to sound quality issues. But since it features a duet between Carlile and the song's author, Dolly Parton, who is also one of Carlile's musical heroes, I figured it merited at least bonus track status.

It's kind of cheating to include "Bring My Flowers Now," because Carlile had a hand in writing it. Apparently, it started as a song Tanya Tucker had been trying to finish for 30 years. Carlile produced Tucker's 2019 album "While I'm Livin'" and helped her finish it. But I'm including it here as a Tanya Tucker song, since Carlile hasn't officially recorded a version herself.

Here's a list of the original artists who wrote the songs and/or made them famous:

01 She’s Got You - Patsy Cline
02 Angel - Sarah McLaughlan
03 Calling All Angels - Jane Siberry
04 We Will Rock You - Queen
05 Over the Rainbow - Judy Garland
06 Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
07 Beware of Darkness - George Harrison
08 Little Green - Joni Mitchell
09 Everything Is Free - Gillian Welch
10 Total Eclipse of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler
11 Bring My Flowers Now - Tanya Tucker
12 Hello in There - John Prine

I Will Always Love You - Dolly Parton / Whitney Houston

Here's the usual song list:

01 She’s Got You (Brandi Carlile)
02 Angel (Brandi Carlile & Emmylou Harris)
03 Calling All Angels (Brandi Carlile with Tiffany Hanseroth)
04 We Will Rock You (Brandi Carlile)
05 Over the Rainbow (Brandi Carlile)
06 Wish You Were Here (Brandi Carlile with Mike McCready)
07 Beware of Darkness (Sheryl Crow & Brandi Carlile)
08 Little Green (Brandi Carlile)
09 Everything Is Free (Courtney Barnett & Brandi Carlile)
10 Total Eclipse of the Heart (Brandi Carlile)
11 Bring My Flowers Now (Brandi Carlile)
12 Hello in There (Brandi Carlile)

I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton & Brandi Carlile)

The cover art is a screenshot from a YouTube video of Carlile performing "Hello in There" on Stephen Colbert's TV show.