Thursday, December 31, 2020

Beck - Spiral Staircase - Non-Album Tracks (2010-2012)

It's been a long time since I last posted a stray tracks album from Beck. But I recently went through my entire Beck collection making audio fixes, so I hope to post a lot more of his stuff soon. Here's the next one in my long stray tracks series from him.

Beck is a prolific song writer. But, strangely, he didn't release any albums between 2008 and 2014, despite writing lots of songs in those years. This comes from the middle of those years. We don't know what lies in his private vaults, and there have been very little bootlegging of his studio material from this time period. So what we're left with are songs he did for various projects plus rarities played in concert. Many of the songs here are from movie soundtracks and various artists collections. Only one, "Ah Melody," is from a concert bootleg.

A few of the songs have been heavily edited, so they need some special explanation. The first two songs are rare cases of bootlegged studio material. Beck did a number of original songs for the "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" movie, but these two didn't get included in the movie or the soundtrack. Both of them were very short, only about a minute long. I repeated some sections to make them long enough to come across as proper songs. Now, they're about two minutes long each.

"Silk Pillow" is a song that was a collaboration between Beck and Childish Gambino (a.k.a. Donald Glover). I removed a big chunk of the song in the middle that was pretty much all a Childish Gambino rap. I simply didn't like it that much, so this is very much a personal preference thing. 

In a similar way, Beck's song "NYC 73 - 78" is over 20 freakin' minutes long. I found that to be way, way too long, since it's not filled with instrumental solos or anything like that, mostly just lots of repetition. So I drastically cut it down to less than five minutes, the length of a normal song.

The songs "Cities" and "Spiral Staircase" present a highly unusual case. Both these songs, plus one more, "Touch the People" were recorded by Beck for the video game "Sound Shapes." They've never been released in any audio format, but one can hear them through the video game. However, there's a twist: the songs are broken into various pieces, and in the game you can put them together in any way you like to create your own versions of these songs. There's no definitive right version. 

I simply didn't like the song "Touch the People," which is a generic instrumental, so I didn't include that one. I found a mix of "Cities" that someone else did that I liked a lot, so I used that. (It was a long time ago, so I've lost track of whose version it was.) For "Spiral Staircase" though, I didn't find any version that I thought really nailed it. I didn't have the video game, but I took two different versions of the song that I found on YouTube and used audio editing software to make a version that worked for me.

By the way, the songs "Stormbringer," "Ah Melody," "Michelangelo Antonioni," and "Corrina, Corrina" are cover versions. "Michelangelo Antonioni" is by Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso, and his version is in Portuguese. Beck's version is very different in that the lyrics are in English. But I don't know if it's a straight translation or Beck's own lyrics or what.

The three bonus tracks are merely bonus tracks due to sound quality issues. "Nefertiti" and "Teeny Weeny Bobbie" as well as "Ah Melody" are Serge Gainsbourg songs that Beck played at a tribute concert. All three come from the same source, but for some reason I found the sound quality of "Ah Melody" good enough for the album, but the other two only good enough for bonus track status. For these songs, Beck generally sung in French.

01 Disgusting Rainbow [Edit] (Beck)
02 Gasoline Eyes [Edit] (Beck)
03 Stormbringer (Beck)
04 Iron Horse (Beck)
05 Curfew (Beck)
06 Ah Melody (Beck)
07 Looking for a Sign (Beck)
08 Silk Pillow [Edit] (Beck & Childish Gambino)
09 Cities (Beck)
10 Spiral Staircase (Beck)
11 Michelangelo Antonioni (Beck)
12 Corrina, Corrina (Beck)
13 NYC 73 - 78 [Edit] (Beck)

Nefertiti (Beck)
Pocahontas (Beck with Neil Young)
Teenie Weenie Boppie (Beck)

Once again, I was helped by PJ of the "Albums I Wish Existed" blog to make the album cover. Beck often has artistic covers instead of a photo of himself, so I decided to go for a literal interpretation of the "Spiral Staircase" album title. The art is by Barbara Berney. PJ added the text.

Ray Davies - Glastonbury Festival, Worthy Farm, Pilton, Britain, 6-27-2010

In 2009, Ray Davies, the lead singer and main songwriter for the Kinks, released an album called "The Kinks Choral Collection." As you can guess from the title, he did Kinks songs with a full-sized choir. 

This concert is from a year after the release of that studio album, but he kept going with the choir concept. As you can see from the album cover, he played the massive Glastonbury Festival with a full-sized choir. (The cover only shows a part of the choir.)

One thing that's really great about this concert is the sound quality. I'm a big Kinks fan, and I've taken a close look at the Ray Davies solo concert bootlegs out there. Very few are soundboards or have soundboard level quality, but this one does, because it was professionally recorded and filmed for a webcast by the BBC.

The other thing that makes this stand out, of course, is the use of the choir. He only used a choir for that 2009 album and the subsequent tour. They do add something if you're looking for different takes on the usual big Kinks songs. 

This concert recording is 57 minutes long. I believe I'm missing two songs played near the start of the concert, "I Need You" and "I'm Not like Everybody Else." If you have those, please let me know so I can add them in.

01 Dedicated Follower of Fashion (Ray Davies)
02 talk (Ray Davies)
03 Till the End of the Day (Ray Davies)
04 After the Fall (Ray Davies)
05 talk (Ray Davies)
06 Sunny Afternoon (Ray Davies)
07 Instrumental (Ray Davies)
08 talk (Ray Davies)
09 You Really Got Me (Ray Davies)
10 talk (Ray Davies)
11 Shangri-La (Ray Davies)
12 talk (Ray Davies)
13 Victoria (Ray Davies)
14 talk (Ray Davies)
15 See My Friends (Ray Davies)
16 talk (Ray Davies)
17 Working Man's Cafe (Ray Davies)
18 talk (Ray Davies)
19 Johnny Thunder (Ray Davies)
20 talk (Ray Davies)
21 Lola (Ray Davies)
22 talk (Ray Davies)
23 Waterloo Sunset (Ray Davies)
24 Days (Ray Davies)
25 All Day and All of the Night (Ray Davies)

The cover art was made by PJ of his "Albums I Wish Existed" blog. I took a screenshot from a YouTube video of the exact concert in question, then PJ turned it into the cover.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Monkees - Pleasant Valley Monday - Live (1986-2020) (A MIKE SOLOF GUEST POST)

Here's something special for you. It's the first guest post for this blog. It was put together by a friend named Mike Solof, who has recently been helping me behind the scenes with this blog.

Mike has written a thorough explanation about what he did in a PDF file, which is included in the download file. I recommend you read that. If you want to know why the title is "Pleasant Valley Monday" instead of "Pleasant Valley Sunday," you'll have to read the PDF to find out.

But in summary, the Monkees weren't known for their live shows in the 1960s, due to loudly screaming fans and other sound and performance issues. They did much better during occasional reunion concerts from 1986 to 2020. But it was very rare for all four Monkees to get together and play a full set of songs. So Mike has put together a kind of ultimate dream concert that lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes and contains every song of theirs you'd want to hear. 

Mike has pulled out all the stops to perfect this concert. He's only used performances of the best sound quality, with many of them taken from official live albums that are exceedingly rare, only sold at concerts and now out of print. In compiling this, he was left with a bunch of songs that were interesting but of slightly lower sound quality. So he's compiled those into a separate bonus zip file that's 37 minutes long and a de facto extra live album.

Furthermore, he spent some time adding crowd noise at the end of each song when necessary, to help make it sound live one seamless concert recording. But sound editing programs always seem to leave little microgaps between songs, and he found that annoying. So he's also created a version with all the songs merged into one, in order to eliminate those little gaps and give you a "you are there" uninterrupted concert experience.

Thus, there are actually three zip downloads here. This is the first one, the main concert, with each song a separate track. Note that after each song title, you'll find listed in brackets which of the original four Monkees took part in that particular performance.

01 NBC 1966 Logo Intro (Monkees)
02 [Theme From] The Monkees (Monkees [Michael, Micky, Peter & Davy])
03 Last Train to Clarksville (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
04 A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
05 talk (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
06 Long Title [Do I Have to Do This All Over Again] (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
07 Mary, Mary (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
08 talk (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
09 For Pete’s Sake (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
10 Look Out [Here Comes Tomorrow] (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
11 Door into Summer (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
12 You Just May Be the One (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
13 The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
14 She (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
15 talk (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
16 Your Aunty Grizelda (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
17 Shades of Grey (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
18 St. Matthew (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
19 As We Go Along (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
20 talk (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
21 I Wanna Be Free (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
22 [I'll] Love You Forever (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
23 talk (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
24 Papa Gene's Blues (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
25 Randy Scouse Git (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
26 Nine Times Blue (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
27 I'll Spend My Life with You (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
28 Me and Magdalena (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
29 Daydream Believer (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
30 MGBGT (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
31 No Time (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
32 Valerie (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
33 She Hangs Out (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
34 Circle Sky (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
35 I'm a Believer (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
36 talk (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
37 It's Nice to Be with You (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
38 Girl (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
39 [Your Love Keeps Lifting Me] Higher and Higher (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
40 Different Drum (Monkees [Michael])
41 Porpoise Song [Theme from 'Head'] (Monkees [Micky Dolenz, Circe Link & Christian Nesmith])
42 Good Morning, Good Morning (Monkees [Micky Dolenz, Circe Link & Christian Nesmith])
43 Cuddly Toy (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
44 That Was Then, This Is Now (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
45 Sweet Young Thing (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
46 [I’m Not Your] Stepping Stone (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
47 Listen to the Band (Monkees [Michael & Micky])
48 The Grand Ennui (Monkees [Michael])
49 talk (Monkees [Michael, Micky & Peter])
50 Tapioca Tundra (Monkees [Michael, Micky & Peter])
51 Pleasant Valley Sunday (Monkees [Michael & Micky with Peter & Davy on video])
01 Intro to You Bring the Summer (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
02 You Bring the Summer (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
03 She Makes Me Laugh (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
04 Let's Dance On (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
05 Saturday's Child (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
06 Steam Engine (Monkees [Michael, Micky & Peter])
07 Good Clean Fun (Monkees [Mike & Micky])
08 Papa Gene's Blues (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
09 Take a Giant Step (Monkees [Peter & Micky])
10 Sometime in the Morning (Monkees [Micky])
11 Intro to Shades of Grey (Monkees [Michael, Micky & Peter with Davy on Video])
12 Shades of Grey (Monkees [Michael, Micky & Peter with Davy on Video])
13 Porpoise Song [Theme from 'Head'] (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
14 We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Jingle Bell Rock - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Happy Xmas [War Is Over] (Monkees [Micky & Peter])

For the second zip file, here is the exact same concert, except all the mp3s have been merged into one in order to eliminate the microgaps between songs:

Finally, here's the third zip file, which contains the bonus and rare songs that didn't make it into the main concert due to sound quality issues. Note that these songs don't sound bad; it's just that they're not up to the same very high standard as those included in the main concert.

01 Intro to You Bring the Summer (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
02 You Bring the Summer (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
03 She Makes Me Laugh (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
04 Let's Dance On (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
05 Saturday's Child (Monkees [Micky & Peter])
06 Steam Engine (Monkees [Michael, Micky & Peter])
07 Good Clean Fun (Monkees [Mike & Micky])
08 Papa Gene's Blues (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
09 Take a Giant Step (Monkees [Peter & Micky])
10 Sometime in the Morning (Monkees [Micky])
11 Intro to Shades of Grey (Monkees [Michael, Micky & Peter with Davy on Video])
12 Shades of Grey (Monkees [Michael, Micky & Peter with Davy on Video])
13 Porpoise Song [Theme from 'Head'] (Monkees [Micky, Peter & Davy])
14 We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Jingle Bell Rock - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - Happy Xmas [War Is Over] (Monkees [Micky & Peter])

Thanks again to Mike for this nice album. I assisted him here and there, but the vast majority of the effort was his. Plus, he came up with this unusual idea, and it's something I wouldn't have thought of or done without him.

Regarding the album cover, Mike selected the photo, which is a promo photo from 1996. I added the text.

Beck - Another Foot in the Grave - Non-Album Tracks (1994)

Before I talk about this album, check out my previous post about volume balance issues. In short, I was sloppy about volume balance from song to song with the albums I posted in the first year or so of this blog, and I'm belatedly trying to fix that. For starters, I just reuploaded all the Beck albums I've ever posted here to improve volume balance. So if you're a Beck fan, I suggest you redownload those.

I've been torn about posting this album, because there's so little for me to do. In 1994, Beck released the album "One Foot in the Grave." It was mostly acoustic, though it was assisted by a small band on some songs. In 2009, the album was released with bonus tracks - lots of bonus tracks. in fact, there were so many extra songs added, all recorded in 1994, that it doubled the album length, from 37 minutes to 73 minutes. 

So all I've done here is package all those bonus tracks into their own album, in the exact same order as on the official 2009 release. There seemed to be only one logical name to give this. Since the first album was "One Foot in the Grave," this has to be "Another Foot in the Grave." All those songs are of the same acoustic bent. In my opinion, 73 minutes of that is too much in one sitting. It's better to split this into two albums.

For some reason, it seems Beck didn't like these songs as much as those on the original "One Foot in the Grave." With a few exceptions, he's hardly ever played any of them live. But in my opinion, "Another Foot" is just as good as "One Foot, "or at least close to it. At the time, Beck was on a creative hot streak and was simply writing way more songs than he knew what to do with, so some got lost in the shuffle.

By the way, confusingly, the song "One Foot in the Grave" did not appear on the album "One Foot in the Grave." Instead, it was a track on another 1994 album he did, "Stereopathic Soul Manure." But that song was included also as one of the 2009 bonus tracks, so you'll find it here. 

Also, none of the songs here were released at the time, as far as I can tell, except for three: "It's All in Your Mind," "Feather in Your Cap," and "Whiskey Can Can." The first one was the A-side and the other two were the B-sides to an obscure single he released in 1995. He then did a different version of "It's All in Your Mind" for his 2002 album "Sea Change." A couple other songs here were also done by him in different versions of other releases, such as "Leave Me on the Moon" and "I Get Lonesome."

This album is 41 minutes long.

01 It's All in Your Mind (Beck)
02 Whiskey Can Can (Beck)
03 Last Night I Traded My Soul's Innermost (Beck)
04 Mattress (Beck)
05 Leave Me on the Moon (Beck)
06 Woe on Me (Beck)
07 Teenage Wastebasket [Electric Version] (Beck)
08 Your Love Is Weird (Beck)
09 Favorite Nerve (Beck)
10 Piss on the Door (Beck)
11 Close to God (Beck)
12 Sweet Satan (Beck)
13 Burning Boyfriend [Beck Will Die] (Beck)
14 Black Lake Morning [Instrumental] (Beck)
15 Feather in Your Cap (Beck)
16 One Foot in the Grave (Beck)
17 Teenage Wastebasket [Acoustic Version] (Beck)
18 I Get Lonesome [Alternate Version] (Beck)

The gatefold artwork for "One Foot in the Grave" has some photos of Beck's band members, as well as a second one of Beck. I selected that second photo as the cover. PJ of the "Albums I Wish Existed" blog did a really excellent job on the cover, in my opinion. He found the exact same font, font color, and font design, to make this look as good as I could have imagined it. Thanks again, PJ!

Volume Balance (and Beck)

I've never written about it before at this blog, but one issue with posting albums here that has been a constant bother for me is volume balance. What I mean is, some songs are mixed much louder than others, so when I put together an album from different sources, I need to do something about that to make them sound good together. 

Unfortunately, for the past few decades, there has been a growing "loudness war," where songs are mixed to be louder and louder, in order to get more attention on the radio and on iTunes playlists and such. This has led to a problem known as "brickwalling," where if you look at the sound profile of a song, it can look like one solid block, much like a brick wall. The result is that much of the subtlety in the music is lost, such as the contrast between the loud and quiet parts of the songs.

I hate brickwalling, and I've tried my best to combat it. To help with that, I've used a program called "mp3gain." If you run it on some songs, it attempts to detect songs that are too loud or too quiet and set them at a standard volume. But I've discovered over time that it's from perfect. In can crudely get the songs in the right ballpark, but to really get them right I have to check each sound profile and make further adjustments. It's as much an art as a science. For instance, what if you have one song that has a consistent volume all the way through, compared to another song that's mostly quiet but has a couple of very loud sections? The same maximum volume doesn't work well if you apply it the same to both.

The differences caused by the "loudness war" can be dramatic. A song that is brickwalled can be two or three times as loud as one that is not. So if you listen to my albums, and then some other albums, mine may be on the quiet side. But there would be a problem like that no matter what I do, because there's such inconsistency and variability in the loudness from album to album these days. I refuse to fall into the loudness war trap by making things extra loud, and have stuck to the recommended average volume suggested by mp3gain. I suggest you use a volume normalizer program like mp3gain to bring the brickwalled albums in your music collection down to more reasonable and consistent levels.

Posting albums on this blog has been a learning experience for me. When I started out over two years ago, I pretty much entirely relied on the program mp3gain for the volume adjustments. Now, when I listen to some of the albums I posted in the first year or so of this blog, sometimes I'm embarrassed by how inconsistent the volume levels can be from song to song. So in the last week or so, I've started trying to fix those albums posted in the first year. 

It's going to be a long and time consuming task, since I often have to look at the sound profile of every single song. If anyone knows of any tools to help with this other than mp3gain, please let me know! I've started out by redoing ALL of the albums by Beck that I've posted here. Most of those were posted in the first year, and most of them needed volume balance work. I just redid all the links today, so I invite you to redownload those, if you care about this volume balance issue. I believe I updated 13 of his albums.

If and when I update the links for other major artists because of volume balance, I'll let you know. Also, if anyone wants to help me fix the volume levels of the albums I've posted, I sure would appreciate it. Then I could concentrate all my focus here on posting more new music instead.

Sweetwater - Woodstock Festival, Max Yasgur's Farm, Bethel, NY, 8-15-1969

Last week, I posted a couple of performances from the famous 1969 Woodstock concert that otherwise are not widely available. I have a few more of those to post, and here's the next one.

Chances are you're never heard of Sweetwater. Here's their Wikipedia entry if you want to know more:

Sweetwater (band) - Wikipedia

Let me give you a quick summary. The band put out their debut album in 1968. They were led by female vocalist Nancy Nivens. Many people likened them to the Jefferson Airplane, with Nivens sounding a bit like Grace Slick. Wikipedia calls their style "psychedelic folk." 

Their appearance at Woodstock was their big break. They started to get some TV appearances, and it seemed like they were going to become a major band. But then, just a few months after Woodstock, Nivens was severely injured when a car that was hit by a drunk driver. She was in a coma for ten days and she almost died. Her vocal chords were damaged when she had a tracheotomy surgery to help save her life. Afterwards, she could still sing, but she lost much of her vocal range and things were never the same. She only sang a few songs on their next album. Without Nivens' vocals, the band struggled and broke up a couple of years later.

In my opinion, this tragic series of events explains why Sweetwater isn't better known. But they were a very good band, and luckily we have an excellent recording of them at their full power at Woodstock. So if you like the music of that era and want to try something new, given this a listen, or their debut album (which is simply called "Sweetwater").

Sweetwater was one of the first full band to play at Woodstock. (Richie Havens and a couple of folk musicians came before them.) As a result, although this is a soundboard recording, I think the recorders were still working some kinks out. I had to make some adjustments that I didn't have to make for other artists who appeared later in the festival. One thing is that the audience applause was very quiet. So I boosted that somewhat when I could.

This album is an hour and two minutes long.

01 talk (Sweetwater)
02 Motherless Child (Sweetwater)
03 talk (Sweetwater)
04 Look Out (Sweetwater)
05 talk (Sweetwater)
06 For Pete's Sake (Sweetwater)
07 talk (Sweetwater)
08 Day Song (Sweetwater)
09 talk (Sweetwater)
10 What's Wrong (Sweetwater)
11 talk (Sweetwater)
12 My Crystal Spider (Sweetwater)
13 Two Worlds (Sweetwater)
14 talk (Sweetwater)
15 Why Oh Why (Sweetwater)
16 Let the Sunshine In (Sweetwater)
17 Oh Happy Day (Sweetwater)
18 talk (Sweetwater)

The album cover is another one I made before my recent computer troubles. The photo is less than ideal, but I used it because it's from their Woodstock performance. If anyone has a better one, please let me know. Nancy Nivens is the one female shown.

Norah Jones - Lady Secret - Non-Album Tracks (2016-2017)

I've been so busy posting Norah Jones's 2020 home concert material that I've fallen behind posting her earlier material. So here's another one of her stray tracks albums. Hopefully by now I've posted so much of her music that I don't have to keep repeating myself that her non-album material is more varied and interesting, in my opinion, so you might like this even if you aren't a big fan of her well-known hits.

The song "Lady Secret" is a great example of why her stray tracks are more varied and interesting than her album material. I love her willingness to try just about anything. This is a comedic song done as part of a trio. The words are very funny, and the video is great too. (Search for it on YouTube.)

Another example of her variety here is that she does a solo acoustic guitar version of "It's Raining Tacos," a novelty song by Parry Gripp. I have no idea why she did that song, of all songs, but it probably had something to do with the fact that she had some young kids at the time. It's a good example of how she'll try all sorts of things if not on album, whereas she plays it safe with what she puts on her albums.

Four of the songs here are officially unreleased (not counting the bonus tracks). But I'm maintaining a high level of sound quality, so those four sound just fine. As for the two bonus tracks, "You Don't Know How It Feels" is fairly rough, but I wanted to include it as a bonus track since it's such a great Tom Petty song. "Hickory Wind" sounds better, but just barely missed the cut.

This album is 43 minutes long.

01 Time to Move On (Norah Jones with Kristen Wiig)
02 Move Along (Candles with Norah Jones)
03 You Are So Beautiful (Charles Lloyd & the Marvels with Norah Jones)
04 It's Raining Tacos (Norah Jones)
05 It's Not Christmas 'Till You Come Home (Norah Jones)
06 Unchained Melody (Norah Jones)
07 Bad Wind Blowing (Jack Grace & Norah Jones)
08 Lady Secret (Norah Jones, Sarah Oda & Tarriona Tank Ball)
09 Ripple (Norah Jones)
10 Love Has No Pride (Tedeschi Trucks Band & Norah Jones)
11 Black Hole Sun (Norah Jones)

Hickory Wind (Norah Jones & Cory Chisel)
You Don't Know How It Feels (Norah Jones with Kristen Wiig)

The cover art photo comes from the Petty Fest in Los Angeles in 2016. The first song and one of the bonus tracks were played at that concert. The photo was drenched in red light, and I thought that looked cool,so I used it without making any changes.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

John Denver - The Wise Owl Coffeehouse, Cincinnati, OH, 5-10-1969

This is the third and final of the 1969 solo acoustic concerts I'm posting. If you're going to listen to just one, you might want to check out this one, because at an hour and forty minutes it's the longest of the bunch by half an hour.

I'm already written what these are about in the blog posts for the two previous concerts in this series. I'm summarize very briefly here: these concerts stand out for their remarkable sound quality, since they're excellent soundboard bootlegs. All but three of the songs are covers.

I find this to be an interesting peek at someone who was just another little known folk singer at the time, but who would soon become a household name. When this concert took place he'd just signed the record contract for his first solo album. It wouldn't be until 1971 when he had his first hit with the number one hit "Take Me Home, Country Roads." However, one could already hear his exceptional talent and charisma in this concert. And although there are only three original songs here, one of them is "Leaving on a Jet Plane," which would be a number one hit for Peter, Paul and Mary later in 1969.

Even though this concert is an hour and forty minutes long, it's not the whole thing. As with the other two 1969 concert recordings, the person who recorded it has only made some of the songs available to the public. There are 24 songs here, but lists 12 more songs played that evening.

One interesting aspect of the concert is how much he was into the Beatles. Of course, it probably was hard to find someone who didn't enjoy the Beatles in 1969. But in addition to the three Beatles songs on this recording, he played four more: "Blackbird," "Hey Jude," "Here, There and Everywhere," and "Lady Madonna." I'm sure that was unusual for a folk singer in that era, or any era. Perhaps his love of the Beatles helps explain his own later success as a songwriter.

This is a list of the original artists for each song:

01 Ann - Billy Ed Wheeler / Kingston Trio
02 It's a Sin to Tell a Lie - Billy Mayhew
03 Today - New Christy Minstrels
04 The Wherefore and the Why - Gordon Lightfoot
05 Everybody's Talkin' - Fred Neil
06 The Bells of Rhymney - Pete Seeger
07 [You Dun Stomped] My Heart - Mason Williams
08 Catch Another Butterfly - Mike Williams
09 Rhymes and Reasons - John Denver
10 What's That I Hear - Phil Ochs
11 Leaving on a Jet Plane - John Denver
12 You Certainly Have Got a Pretty Fantastic Bod - Michael Peter Smith
13 When I'm 64 - Beatles
14 Civil War Trilogy- First Battalion - Yes I See - Two Brothers - Bob Gibson
15 Business Goes on as Usual - Chad Mitchell Trio
16 What a Friend We Have in Congress - Pete Seeger
17 Games People Play - Joe South
18 Eleanor Rigby - Beatles
19 But You Know I Love You - Mike Settle and Pierre Delanoe
20 Bookends - Simon & Garfunkel
21 Old Folks - Jacques Brel
22 Amsterdam - Jacques Brel
23 In My Life - Beatles
24 Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Life - John Denver

Here's the usual song list:

01 talk (John Denver)
02 Ann (John Denver)
03 It's a Sin to Tell a Lie (John Denver)
04 Today (John Denver)
05 talk (John Denver)
06 The Wherefore and the Why (John Denver)
07 Everybody's Talkin' (John Denver)
08 The Bells of Rhymney (John Denver)
09 [You Dun Stomped] My Heart (John Denver)
10 talk (John Denver)
11 Catch Another Butterfly (John Denver)
12 talk (John Denver)
13 Rhymes and Reasons (John Denver)
14 What's That I Hear (John Denver)
15 Leaving on a Jet Plane (John Denver)
16 You Certainly Have Got a Pretty Fantastic Bod (John Denver)
17 talk (John Denver)
18 When I'm 64 (John Denver)
19 talk (John Denver)
20 Civil War Trilogy- First Battalion - Yes I See - Two Brothers (John Denver)
21 Business Goes on as Usual (John Denver)
22 talk (John Denver)
23 What a Friend We Have in Congress (John Denver)
24 Games People Play (John Denver)
25 Eleanor Rigby (John Denver)
26 talk (John Denver)
27 But You Know I Love You (John Denver)
28 Bookends (John Denver)
29 talk (John Denver)
30 Old Folks (John Denver)
31 talk (John Denver)
32 Amsterdam (John Denver)
33 talk (John Denver)
34 In My Life (John Denver)
35 talk (John Denver)
36 Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Life (John Denver)
37 talk (John Denver)

PJ of the "Albums I Wish Existed" blog helped me with the album cover yet again. Like the other two in this series, there don't seem to be any good color photos of him in concert in 1969, so this one dates to 1970.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Beck - Angel Orensanz Centre, New York City, 10-22-2006

Beck has yet to release an official live album, which is a shame because he's a great live performer. His full band concerts are a fun party. But when it comes to live recordings, I prefer his acoustic concerts. I'm partial to acoustic music in general. But in his case, hearing his songs stripped down can be revelatory. For this concert, Beck had a handful of other musicians backing him, but they were there to add guitar solos and the like while keeping things in acoustic mode.

Unfortunately when it comes to Beck's concerts, there are very few soundboard or radio/webcast broadcast bootlegs. The few like that tend to be the full band style shows. This concert is an audience bootleg. But that's fine, because the sound quality is as good as many soundboards. Plus, he played for just over an hour and a half, with an interesting set list. Overall, I would put this in my top three best acoustic-mode concert recordings from him.

Most of the songs Beck played were originals. But he did a handful of covers: "Winter Is Blue" by Vashti Bunyan, "No Expectations" by the Rolling Stones, "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime" by the Korgis, "Stormbringer" by John Martyn, and "You're Running Wild" by Buddy Miller. I put three of those on one of my stray tracks albums, the one I called "Timebomb."

As I often do, I boosted the volume of his banter between songs, and made those talking bits separate tracks. Since this is an audience bootleg, I also had to lower the volume of the audience clapping sometimes. But other than that, I didn't have any problems.

01 Black Tambourine (Beck)
02 talk (Beck)
03 Scarecrow (Beck)
04 talk (Beck)
05 No Complaints (Beck)
06 talk (Beck)
07 Lost Cause (Beck)
08 talk (Beck)
09 End of the Day (Beck)
10 talk (Beck)
11 Movie Theme (Beck)
12 talk (Beck)
13 We Dance Alone (Beck)
14 Think I'm in Love (Beck)
15 talk (Beck)
16 Winter Is Blue (Beck)
17 Rowboat (Beck)
18 talk (Beck)
19 Guess I'm Doing Fine (Beck)
20 No Expectations (Beck)
21 talk (Beck)
22 Cellphone's Dead (Beck)
23 Strange Apparition (Beck)
24 talk (Beck)
25 Cold Brains (Beck)
26 talk (Beck)
27 Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime (Beck)
28 Sissyneck (Beck)
29 talk (Beck)
30 Where It's At (Beck)
31 talk (Beck)
32 Stormbringer (Beck)
33 talk (Beck)
34 The Golden Age (Beck)
35 Clap Hands - One Foot in the Grave - Emergency Exit (Beck)
36 talk (Beck)
37 You're Running Wild (Beck)
38 Girl (Beck)
39 Nausea (Beck)

Once again, my thanks goes to PJ of his "Albums I Wish Existed" blog, since he made the cover art. The picture used is somewhat low-res, but I could tolerate it because it's from the exact concert in question.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Steely Dan - Rainbow Theatre, London, Britain, 5-20-1974

In the 1970s, Steely Dan was known as a band that liked to perfect their songs in the studio. After just a couple years of success, they stopped touring altogether so they could focus entirely on their studio work. But they actually were a cracking live band for the limited time they played concerts. This concert took place during their last tour in the 1970s. 

I'm not an expert on the band, but I've looked around and it seems to me this is their best concert recording, mostly due to sound quality. If you want just one Steely Dan live album, I recommend this one. This even beats the one officially released live album of the time period, "La La Land." That was released in 2019. But they picked a show that had some mixing problems. The sound quality on this is arguably better, even though it's a bootleg, and this concert was 25 minutes longer (at an hour and 22 minutes).

Steely Dan are known as the duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. But at the time of this concert, they had a full crack band with the likes of Danny Dias, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Jim Hodder, Jeff Percaro, and Michael McDonald. (By the way, that's the same Michael McDonald who would become the star lead vocalist for the Doobie Brothers, but here he just assisted on keyboards and backing vocals without his distinctive gruff vocal sound.)

In terms of sound quality, this soundboard sounded so good that I didn't have to do much. But I did boost the volume of the banter between songs, and well as cutting out some of the dead air, such as tuning and noodling. There wasn't much to cut though.

By the way, the last song, "This All Too Mobile Home," was never attempted in the studio. It remains officially unreleased, except for the version on the above-mentioned "La La Land" live album.

01 talk (Steely Dan)
02 Bodhisattva (Steely Dan)
03 talk (Steely Dan)
04 The Boston Rag (Steely Dan)
05 talk (Steely Dan)
06 Do It Again (Steely Dan)
07 talk (Steely Dan)
08 Brooklyn [Owes the Charmer Under Me] (Steely Dan)
09 talk (Steely Dan)
10 King of the World (Steely Dan)
11 talk (Steely Dan)
12 Rikki, Don't Lose that Number (Steely Dan)
13 talk (Steely Dan)
14 Pretzel Logic (Steely Dan)
15 talk (Steely Dan)
16 My Old School (Steely Dan)
17 Dirty Work (Steely Dan)
18 Your Gold Teeth II [Instrumental] (Steely Dan)
19 Reelin' in the Years (Steely Dan)
20 talk (Steely Dan)
21 Show Biz Kids (Steely Dan)
22 talk (Steely Dan)
23 This All Too Mobile Home (Steely Dan)

PJ of his "Albums I Wish Existed" blog once again helped make the album cover. While the photo is a bit dark and murky, it comes from the exact concert in question. 

The Petersens - Christmas Songs - Home Concerts, Branson, MO, 2019-2020

As I write this, it's Christmas Eve, and here is a very Christmas-y album. It's a little late for the season, but hopefully still in time for the Christmas. 

I waited until this last minute to post this because this year and last year the Petersens have posted some Christmas songs in the weeks leading up to the holiday, and last year they actually posted a song on Christmas Day. if there are one or more late arrivals this year, I'll update this album accordingly.

I've posted a couple of albums by the Petersens already. They're a family band that does a wide variety of songs with an acoustic bluegrass feel. Normally, I wouldn't be into this type of music, but they've come out of nowhere to have songs with millions of hits on YouTube, and for good reason. They have a pleasing style, and you don't have to be a serious bluegrass fan to enjoy their music.

This is a very uncharacteristic album for me to post. These are Christmas songs, many with a overt Christian theme, done in a bluegrass style, yet I'm normally not into bluegrass, Christmas music, or Christian music. But, like I said, they have a pleasing style, and I definitely do enjoy the acoustic focus. If I'm going to put on a Christmas album, I'd rather be this "down home" kind than the usual and overproduced slick type with drums and strings.

Note that, this year, the Petersens have released a Christmas album called "Christmas with the Petersens." It has many of the same songs, but a few here aren't on that, and vice versa. So if you really like this, I suggest you pick that up. All the performances here are from the band's YouTube videos, which are different performances than the ones on their album.

By the way, I don't think the song "I Am the Man, Thomas" is a Christmas song, per se. But it is a song about Jesus, so I figured it was close enough for horseshoes. As I said above, normally I'm not into Christian themed music, but I liked that song enough to want to include it here.

01 What Child Is This (Petersens)
02 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Petersens)
03 Silent Night (Petersens)
04 I Am the Man, Thomas (Petersens)
05 Christmas Time's A-Comin' (Petersens)
06 God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Petersens)
07 Santa Train - Sleigh Ride (Petersens)
08 I'll Be Home for Christmas (Petersens)
09 Mele Kalikimaka (Petersens)
10 Joy to the World (Petersens)
11 I Heard the Bells (Petersens)
12 Go Tell It on the Mountain (Petersens)

For the cover art, once again I relied on the help of PJ of his "Albums I Wish Existed" blog while I continue to resolve my computer problems. I took a screenshot of the band in Christmas sweaters from one of their YouTube videos. Then I asked PJ to make a cover as Christmas-y as possible. He came through with exactly the sort of cover I was looking for, so a big thanks to PJ. :)

Note that while the four Petersen siblings are shown, a couple of the band members are not. Both the bass player and lead guitarist didn't play on this particular song, so they weren't included in the video. But I picked this image because it was the most overtly Christmas-y one I found.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

John Denver - The Nowhere Coffeehouse, Cincinnati, OH, 5-9-1969

A couple of days ago, I posted a 1969 John Denver concert, recorded at the Bandersnatch Coffeehouse near Cincinnati, Ohio. It's the first of three such concerts from him that I'm posting. All three are similar in that he plays solo acoustic, he mostly plays cover songs, and the recordings are soundboard bootlegs from the Cincinnati area that have awesome sound quality for their era. As I said with that previous post, this is for anyone who enjoys 1960s folk music and not just John Denver fans, since virtually none of his well-known songs are played here.

That's just as much the case for this concert. Only five of the 16 songs here are Denver originals. Of those, only one, "For Baby (For Bobbie)" is a well known song that appears on some of his "best of" albums. Read the write up for the previous concert for a full explanation about all three of these concerts and how they came to be recorded so well. But suffice to say that all three took place before he even released his first solo album, so he was a virtual musical unknown at the time.

Again, my write-up for the previous (Bandersnatch Coffeehouse) concert explains it in detail, but the songs here mostly come from a high quality bootleg, while further songs and banter come from a YouTube video that is also high quality though a bit lower due to YouTube sound quality limitations. I used an accurate set list from to put the banter and songs in their correct order as much as possible. 

It was a long concert, and the hour and one minute recording here is less than half of the total performance that night. But don't worry too much about the missing songs, because virtually all the ones that didn't get included here got included on one of the other two 1969 concert bootlegs. The person who released selected songs generally only released one performance of each song, though there are a few duplicates, but very few. For instance, I believe "Circus" is the only song to appear here and at the previously posted concert at the Bandersnatch.

Unfortunately, I surmise Denver talked between most every song, but some of that is missing too. However, most of the songs here do have banter before them. Tracks 8 and 9 are two talking tracks in a row, because one comes from one source (the YouTube one) and is commentary about the previous song, and the next is from a different source and is commentary about the next song. You can probably notice the difference in quality with the two of them juxtaposed like that.

The third concert in this series will be posted here soon. Although the two different sources have appeared here and there on the Internet, I believe this is the first time they've been combined together and put in the proper song order for each concert.

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

01 That's the Way It's Gonna Be - Phil Ochs
02 Deal with the Ladies - John Denver
03 Two Little Boys - Theodore Morse & Edward Madden / Rolf Harris
04 Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream - Ed McCurdy
05 Circus - John Denver
06 Mr. Bojangles - Jerry Jeff Walker / Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
07 Farewell Party - Bob Gibson
08 Both Sides Now - Joni Mitchell
09 My God, I Appreciate Your Bod - Michael Peter Smith
10 Yellow Cat - Steve Fromholz
11 California Dreamin' - Mamas & the Papas
12 Lady Madonna - Beatles
13 For Baby [For Bobbie] - John Denver
14 Daydream - John Denver
15 The Last Thing on My Mind - Tom Paxton
16 I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free - John Denver

Here's the usual song list:

01 talk (John Denver)
02 That's the Way It's Gonna Be (John Denver)
03 talk (John Denver)
04 Deal with the Ladies (John Denver)
05 talk (John Denver)
06 Two Little Boys (John Denver)
07 Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream (John Denver)
08 talk (John Denver)
09 talk (John Denver)
10 Circus (John Denver)
11 talk (John Denver)
12 Mr. Bojangles (John Denver)
13 Farewell Party (John Denver)
14 Both Sides Now (John Denver)
15 My God, I Appreciate Your Bod (John Denver)
16 talk (John Denver)
17 My God, I Appreciate Your Bod [Reprise] (John Denver) (John Denver)
18 talk (John Denver)
19 Yellow Cat (John Denver)
20 California Dreamin' (John Denver)
21 Lady Madonna (John Denver)
22 talk (John Denver)
23 For Baby [For Bobbie] (John Denver)
24 talk (John Denver)
25 Daydream (John Denver)
26 talk (John Denver)
27 The Last Thing on My Mind (John Denver)
28 talk (John Denver)
29 I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free (John Denver)

Once again, PJ from his "Albums I Wish Existed" blog was kind enough to make the album cover. Also like the previous John Denver concert posted here, no good photos from 1969 were found, so one presumably from 1970 was used instead.

Sly & the Family Stone - The Incredible and Unpredictable Sly and the Family Stone - Non-Album Tracks (1968-1970)

In May 1969, the Sly and the Family Stone album "Stand!" was released. In November 1971, that band released the album "There's a Riot Goin' On." Both albums are great, and are on Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the top 500 albums of all time. But that's two and a half years between albums. Today, a gap like that would be typical, or even slightly speedy. But in that era, that was an eternity. Most bands released an album a year. Heck, in 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival released three hit studio albums of mostly original material!

It turns out there were plans for an album in between. In the March 19, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, an article about band leader Sly Stone stated: "Now he's finishing up an album, the most optimistic of all, with Sly Stone having gauged his power around the country. He'll call it 'The Incredible and Unpredictable Sly and the Family Stone.' It's a line out of one of Epic's publicity releases last year." 

But the months passed, and no new album emerged. However, the band was still very popular. They released three hit singles in late 1969 that didn't appear on any album: "Hot Fun in the Summertime," "Everybody Is a Star," and "Thank You "Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin." But at the same time, Sly Stone was falling deeper and deeper into serious drug addiction, and was becoming increasingly erratic and unproductive.  For instance, he became notorious for showing up late to his band's concerts, if he showed up at all.

As a result of a lack of progress on a new album, the record company decided to put out a "Greatest Hits" album to give the fans something while everyone waited for a new album. It contained the three stand-alone hits, plus earlier hits, and was a huge seller. 

I've decided to try to put together a 1970 studio album instead. But even though the proposed album had a title, I don't think it ever got to the point of having a song list. There already has been a big Sly and the Family Stone box set, but only one relevant unreleased song appeared on it. So what I've done is taken pretty much every good song from the band I could find up through and including 1970 and gathered them into an album. It's not THE lost album spoken of in that Rolling Stone article, but it's full of quality songs and makes for a great listen just the same.

I started with the three hit songs mentioned above. Then I added in outtakes from the previous two albums which have since appeared as bonus tracks and/or on the box set, plus the song from the box set. All those songs make up most of the album. I also added "This Is Love" from the band's 1974 album "Small Talk." I could be wrong, but I understand the band was running low on new material at the time, as Sly Stone's drug problem got worse, so they used this track that was actually recorded in 1969 or 1970.

But on top of that, I've added in three songs that technically aren't Sly and the Family Stone songs at all. What was a band song is somewhat fluid. Although Sly Stone was the leader, it was a genuine band, and many songs had prominent lead vocals by other band members. I figured if a song was written or co-written by him, was produced by him, and was performed and sung by him and/or other members of the band, that was good enough for me. He actually spent some of his energies during that long gap between albums coming up with songs for his female vocalists, who were called "Little Sister." I've included the two songs they released that he wrote. I've also included one song by Abaco Dream, which wasn't a real band at the time, but instead was the name for a collaboration between soul singer Joe Hicks and Sly and the Family Stone.

If you add up all those songs, it makes 43 minutes of music, which is an ideal album length for the era. Even though many of the songs are album outtakes, I think most or all of them are as good as the songs from those albums. So this makes for a very good album, especially with the three classic singles included. If the record company was smart, they should have put together an album just like this.

Note that there's another music blog that has made an album with the same name and general idea. You can find that here:

Albums Forgotten Reconstructed 2.0: Sly & The Family Stone - "The Incredible and Unpredictable". (Unreleased 1970 album).

The song list is significantly different though, for both double album and single album versions. Some different outtakes were used, and live versions were used too. Many of the songs used date back to 1967. I limited my choices to just songs from 1968 to 1970.

01 Hot Fun in the Summertime (Sly & the Family Stone)
02 Pressure (Sly & the Family Stone)
03 Seven More Days (Sly & the Family Stone)
04 Only One Way Out of This Mess (Sly & the Family Stone)
05 What's That Got to Do with Me (Sly & the Family Stone)
06 Sorrow [Instrumental] (Sly & the Family Stone)
07 Everybody Is a Star (Sly & the Family Stone)
08 You're the One [Early Version] (Little Sister [Sly & the Family Stone])
09 Life and Death in G & A (Abaco Dream [Joe Hicks & Sly & the Family Stone])
10 Thank You [Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin] (Sly & the Family Stone)
11 Soul Clappin' II (Sly & the Family Stone)
12 This Is Love (Sly & the Family Stone)
13 Stanga (Little Sister)

Luckily, I made an album cover before my recent computer troubles. I took a promotional photo of the band from around 1969 and added a fish-eye lens effect to distort it. Then I added some psychedelic lettering which I also warped. Hopefully, the result mimics the "psychedelic soul" album covers of that era.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Rosanne Cash - Strawberry Music Festival, Camp Mather, Yosemite, CA, 8-31-1997

Musical associate Lil Panda recently posted this elsewhere on the Internet. I did some minor editing, mainly boosting the vocals for the banter between songs. But I didn't have to do much, because the sound quality is fantastic. 

This is a really great Rosanne Cash bootleg concert, partially because of the sound quality, but also because of the set list at an interesting time in her career. In 1996, Cash put out the album "10 Song Demo," which consisted of acoustic demos. She didn't tour much to support it in 1996, and in 1997, according to, she only played two concerts. In 1998, she started to record a new album, but that was halted when she developed a polyp on her vocal chords. She was unable to sing for nearly three years. She didn't come out with another album until "Rules of Travel" in 2003.

So this concert is a peek at what might have been, had she continued to record and perform into 1998. After her acoustic 1996 album, she was back to rocking for most of this concert, with some acoustic moments thrown in. She played "September When It Comes," an original song that would first appear on her 2003 album. Furthermore, she did a full-band version of "Western Wall," which also would appear on her 2003 album. 

She also played the nice original "Greg and George." Weirdly, she would never release this as such, except in 2013 she had an obscure Internet-only release for charity of the song "Jim and George," which is nearly identical in all respects except for the slightly changed title. (I put that on the stray tracks album "Land of Dreams.")

She also played some rare covers, such as "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye," "Wouldn't It Be Loverly," and a long, jammy version of the Beatles' "Things We Said Today." 

When she returned to playing concerts in 2003, her set list was significantly different. She said goodbye to many of her older songs and moved into more of a folky direction. So this concert caught her at a time of transformation.

This concert is an hour and 25 minutes long.

01 talk (Rosanne Cash)
02 I Want to Know (Rosanne Cash)
03 Runaway Train (Rosanne Cash)
04 What We Really Want (Rosanne Cash)
05 talk (Rosanne Cash)
06 I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me (Rosanne Cash)
07 talk (Rosanne Cash)
08 Western Wall (Rosanne Cash)
09 talk (Rosanne Cash)
10 Greg and George [Jim and George] (Rosanne Cash)
11 Green, Yellow and Red (Rosanne Cash)
12 talk (Rosanne Cash)
13 September When It Comes (Rosanne Cash)
14 talk (Rosanne Cash)
15 If I Were a Man (Rosanne Cash)
16 talk (Rosanne Cash)
17 Blue Moon with Heartache (Rosanne Cash)
18 talk (Rosanne Cash)
19 Things We Said Today (Rosanne Cash)
20 Bells and Roses (Rosanne Cash)
21 Tennessee Flat Top Box (Rosanne Cash)
22 talk (Rosanne Cash)
23 Seventh Avenue (Rosanne Cash)
24 talk (Rosanne Cash)
25 Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye (Rosanne Cash)
26 707 (Rosanne Cash)
27 Seven Year Ache (Rosanne Cash)
28 talk (Rosanne Cash)
29 Wouldn't It Be Loverly (Rosanne Cash)
30 The Wheel (Rosanne Cash)

Perhaps the reason that Cash played this concert in a year when she didn't go on tour was because of its unique and remarkable location, in the middle of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park! She commented on this several times during the concert. I couldn't find any photos of her at the concert, or even good photos of her on stage from around 1997 at all. So instead, I decided to show the concert stage for the cover art, since it is so unusual. This photo doesn't feature Cash, and I don't even know what year it's from. But it is the stage she played this concert on, and she mentioned it was a night concert, so I picked a photo of it at night. 

Once again, I was assisted by PJ of "Albums I Wish Existed," who turned the photo into an album cover. I asked him to highlight the tall trees as much as possible. He did, but the square shape of the album cover can't do the trees justice. They tower much higher off the top of the picture frame.

The Beach Boys - Paramount Theater, New York City, 11-26-1993

I love the Beach Boys, but as far as I'm concerned, nearly all their great stuff is from the 1960s and 70s. They haven't done much that's musically worthy after about 1980. But there are a few exceptions, and when it comes to a recording of an entire concert, this one from 1993 could actually be the best of their entire career.

There are a few reasons for that. I do prefer their live recordings from their peak years in the 60s and 70s, but all the best recordings I know of are either short or incomplete. (I plan on posting some collections of their best live stuff from those years.) This concert is usually long for the band, at just over two hours.

Critically, the sound quality is absolutely fantastic. It's a pristine soundboard, so pristine that one can barely hear the audience at all. I considered trying boosting the volume of the audience reactions to songs, but there simply wasn't enough to work with. I've decided instead to enjoy it as it is, as if it was an entire concert performed for a soundcheck. The sound is so incredible, it beats the pants even off most of their official live material!

Not only that, but it happens to have been recorded at a remarkably fortuitous time. In 1993, the band released their great "Good Vibrations" box set. To celebrate that release, they played only nine shows in which they dug deeper into their back catalog and played songs to celebrate the box set release. If you look at the set lists from other shows they did in 1993, they played more songs from their recent albums, which generally were terrible. This only has a single new song from their most recent album at the time, "Still in Paradise."

Even better, the early 1990s was the time when the "unplugged" trend was all the rage. Perhaps due to that trend, they did portions of the concert in a semi-acoustic format, which was a very rare thing for the band.

In terms of personnel, there were four surviving original Beach Boys in the concert: Carl Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston. (Brian Wilson technically was a band member, but for the vast majority of the band's existence he hasn't played with them on stage.) In my opinion, the presence of Carl Wilson is critical. He probably was the best singer in the band (which is saying a lot!), and sang lead vocals on some of their best songs, such as "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations." He died of cancer in 1998, but he still sounded a great as he ever did here.

By the way, two performances here have been officially released: "Caroline, No" and "You Still Believe in Me." I'm still including those, though, so you can hear the full concert just as it was. The only editing I did was I boosted the volume for some of the banter between songs, and I cut out some of the guitar tuning and other dead air.

01 California Girls (Beach Boys)
02 I Can Hear Music (Beach Boys)
03 Come Go with Me (Beach Boys)
04 talk (Beach Boys)
05 Rock and Roll Music (Beach Boys)
06 Do You Wanna Dance (Beach Boys)
07 talk (Beach Boys)
08 In My Room (Beach Boys)
09 Do It Again (Beach Boys)
10 talk (Beach Boys)
11 Catch a Wave (Beach Boys)
12 Hawaii (Beach Boys)
13 talk (Beach Boys)
14 Darlin' (Beach Boys)
15 talk (Beach Boys)
16 Be True to Your School (Beach Boys)
17 talk (Beach Boys)
18 Under the Boardwalk (Beach Boys)
19 talk (Beach Boys)
20 Little Deuce Coupe (Beach Boys)
21 409 (Beach Boys)
22 Shut Down (Beach Boys)
23 I Get Around (Beach Boys)
24 talk (Beach Boys)
25 California Dreamin' (Beach Boys)
26 Summer in Paradise (Beach Boys)
27 talk (Beach Boys)
28 Heroes and Villains (Beach Boys)
29 talk (Beach Boys)
30 Vega-Tables (Beach Boys)
31 Take a Load Off Your Feet (Beach Boys)
32 talk (Beach Boys)
33 Little Saint Nick (Beach Boys)
34 talk (Beach Boys)
35 Surfer Girl (Beach Boys)
36 Hushabye (Beach Boys)
37 talk (Beach Boys)
38 Add Some Music (Beach Boys)
39 talk (Beach Boys)
40 Their Hearts Were Full of Spring (Beach Boys)
41 All This Is That (Beach Boys)
42 Wonderful (Beach Boys)
43 talk (Beach Boys)
44 Disney Girls [1957] (Beach Boys)
45 Caroline, No (Beach Boys)
46 You Still Believe in Me (Beach Boys)
47 God Only Knows (Beach Boys)
48 Sloop John B (Beach Boys)
49 Wouldn't It Be Nice (Beach Boys)
50 Good Vibrations (Beach Boys)
51 Kokomo (Beach Boys)
52 Help Me, Rhonda (Beach Boys)
53 talk (Beach Boys)
54 Barbara Ann (Beach Boys)
55 Fun, Fun, Fun (Beach Boys)
56 Surfin' Safari (Beach Boys)

I had a heck of a hard time finding a good photo to use for the cover art. I couldn't find any good ones of the band from 1993. I ended up using the cover of a bootleg of this concert. I don't know where the photo they used comes from, but it looks to be from the early 1990s. PJ of his "Albums I Wish Existed" helped me by replacing the text at the bottom. Otherwise, it's exactly the same as the bootleg cover.

The Bangles - Kaaboo Festival, Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar, CA, 9-15-2019

There seems to be some kind of curse when it comes to live recordings from the Bangles. The band has never released an official live album, and when it comes to bootlegs, nearly all of them sound middling to bad. But the Bangles are known for their harmony vocals, and you need excellent sound to be able to fully appreciate that. 

Happily, I've finally found a Bangles bootleg with truly excellent sound. I've taken it from a high-quality video file (not YouTube), so I don't think it's ever circulated as audio files before.

When it comes to music by the Bangles, I like their earliest stuff the best. My favorite album from them is their first one (1984's "All Over the Place") and I like their EP from 1982 even better. This concert is from MUCH later, 2019. But in terms of the music, it's almost like it's from the early 1980s instead. For most of the 2010s, the Bangles were just a three-piece band. But in 2018, their original bassist, Annetta Zalinskas, who quit the band after that first EP, rejoined the band. Maybe because of that, their set list leaned heavily on their early stuff, with them playing four out of the five songs from that EP, and more from that first album. The latest song they played was "Eternal Flame" from 1989, which they probably felt obliged to play since it was a number one hit.

When it comes to sound quality, as I said above, this is truly excellent. That's because it was professionally recorded for a live Internet broadcast. There were no problems whatsoever. The audience is relatively low in the mix, but that enables one to hear the band that much more clearly.

The only downside is I wish the concert was longer. This is only 51 minutes long. But they were part of a big music festival with dozens of acts, so they had to cut their usual set short. Still, when considering sound quality, performance, and song selection, if I had to pick just one live recording of that band to play to someone, I would pick this one.

01 talk (Bangles)
02 A Hazy Shade of Winter (Bangles)
03 I Want You (Bangles)
04 talk (Bangles)
05 Manic Monday (Bangles)
06 talk (Bangles)
07 Mary Street (Bangles)
08 I'm in Line (Bangles)
09 The Real World (Bangles)
10 talk (Bangles)
11 Going Down to Liverpool (Bangles)
12 talk (Bangles)
13 September Gurls (Bangles)
14 He's Got a Secret (Bangles)
15 talk (Bangles)
16 If She Knew What She Wants (Bangles)
17 Dover Beach (Bangles)
18 In Your Room (Bangles)
19 Hero Takes a Fall (Bangles)
20 talk (Bangles)
21 Walk like an Egyptian (Bangles)
22 talk (Bangles)
23 Eternal Flame (Bangles)

The cover art is was made by PJ of his "Albums I Wish Existed" blog. For the band name, he used the exact lettering from the band's 1982 EP, which I find very fitting, since many of the songs come from that. The picture is a screenshot taken from the exact concert in question. It may not be the best photo, but I asked if he could use one of all four band members, and that was a tough ask, since they were standing far apart from each other.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

John Denver - The Bandersnatch Coffeehouse, Granville, OH, 3-15-1969

First off, I have to say I'm not that big of a John Denver fan - I generally like him at about a greatest hits level - and you don't have to be a big fan of his either to enjoy this concert. (Though of course you'll probably like it even more if you are.)

This is atypical of Denver's usual stuff for a few reasons. The first and most important is this concert dates from before his first official studio album, which was released later in 1969. So you get almost none of the songs on his typical "best of "albums, with the exception of "Rhymes and Reasons." 

Instead, what you get is basically a covers concert, with only four originals out of the 18 songs here. Denver started out as a folk singer in the early 1960s, and was a member of the Chad Mitchell Trio (a folkie group in the mold of the Kingston Trio or Peter, Paul and Mary) from 1965 to late 1968. This concert caught Denver during a pivotal change in his music career. His solo career was only a few months old. He'd written "Leaving on a Jet Plane" a few years earlier, and Peter, Paul and Mary would have a number one hit with it, but not until late 1969. He wouldn't have any hits of his own until "Take Me Home, Country Roads" was a number one hit in 1971. As a result, at the time of this concert, Denver was a virtual unknown outside of a limited folkie crowd, and he was playing in small clubs.

So, in my opinion, this is less of a typical John Denver concert and more of a snapshot of the folk music scene in 1969. Folk music was huge in the early 1960s, but that morphed into folk-rock around 1965,. True folk music plummeted in popularity in the late 1960s, with garage rock, psychedelia, country rock, and all sorts of other musical trends dominating instead. But the folkie types would have a big comeback in the early 1970s, with the rise of the singer-songwriter movement, led by the likes of James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and many more. Denver covered most of the big names as of 1969, like Tim Hardin, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Tom Paxton, and Leonard Cohen.

Another unique aspect of this concert is that it's just Denver and his acoustic guitar. After he hit it big with "Take Me Home, Country Roads" in 1971, he almost always played with a full band. It wouldn't be until the 1980s and after when he occasionally played in the solo acoustic format again. But by then, of course, the set list would be almost entirely different. Plus, he would never play as a relative unknown for such a small crowd again. This almost has a "John Denver playing on a front porch for a group of friends" feeling.

But what really makes this concert stick out for me is the fantastic sound. It's incredible to me that Denver was a minor musical figure at the time who didn't even have a record contract, and yet three of his 1969 concerts were recorded as pristine soundboard bootlegs. I plan on posting all three, because they're all excellent and they have very different set lists. You can learn more about how the recordings came to be, and the songs on it, here:

Apparently, members of a different folk group in the Cincinnati area recorded the concerts on a reel-to-reel, with Denver's permission, so they could learn to cover some of the songs he was performing.

Unfortunately for the listener, only selected songs from these three concerts have been made public. I found many of the songs as high quality FLAC files. But then I found a similar, but sometimes different, selection of songs from the concert on YouTube. appears to have an accurate set list of the concert, here:

John Denver Concert Setlist at Bandersnatch Coffee House, Granville on March 15, 1969 |

So I've used that to reconstruct as much of the concert as I could. As you can see from that list, only 18 out of the 38 songs played that night have been made publicly available. But that's not such a big loss, because the vast majority of the missed songs got played in the other two recorded concerts that I also plan on posting.

But there were some problems with this concert recording. While the sound quality is excellent, the audience applause was often quickly faded out. So I've tried my best to fix that. On some of the songs, there were slow fade-outs of the applause. I boosted the volume bit by bit, essentially undoing the fade out. In other cases, there wasn't much to work with, so I patched in applause from other songs in the concert that had complete audience reactions.

A more troublesome problem was that I'm guessing much of the talking between songs was also edited out. The high quality FLAC versions of the songs almost always had the banter cut out. Luckily, the slightly lower quality YouTube versions often did have the banter. Thus, often, I used the music from the FLAC files and the banter from the YouTube versions. Even so, Denver is a talkative guy, and I'd surmise that he said at least something before virtually every song. I'd guess that maybe half of those are missing. 

It seems Denver played long concerts in that era. Although we're missing more than half of the concert, what we have is still an hour and 11 minutes long. This sounds just like a full concert. There's enough surviving banter to get a good feeling for his personality and charisma.

Note that the final songs, "Sticky Summer Weather," might or might not have been from this concert. According to the above link, it is from this concert. But it's the one song that doesn't appear on the seemingly very accurate set list at, nor does it appear on the set list there for the two other recorded 1969 concerts. I stuck it as the last song because I otherwise would have had two tracks of banter in a row.

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

01 Blackbird - Beatles
02 Yesterday - Beatles
03 Rhymes and Reasons - John Denver
04 The New Frankie and Johnny Song - Bob Gibson
05 The Weight - Band
06 Reason to Believe - Tim Hardin
07 Marcie - Joni Mitchell
08 Upon a Monday Morning - Bernard Cribbins
09 Circus - John Denver
10 For Lovin' Me - Gordon Lightfoot
11 Cindy's Crying - Tom Paxton
12 San Francisco Bay Blues - Jesse Fuller
13 Abraham, Martin and John - Dion
14 [You Dun Stomped] My Heart - Mason Williams
15 Suzanne - Leonard Cohen
16 The Game Is Over - John Denver
17 Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio - Randy Sparks
18 Sticky Summer Weather - John Denver

Here's the usual song list:

01 talk (John Denver)
02 Blackbird (John Denver)
03 talk (John Denver)
04 Yesterday (John Denver)
05 talk (John Denver)
06 Rhymes and Reasons (John Denver)
07 The New Frankie and Johnny Song (John Denver)
08 The Weight (John Denver)
09 Reason to Believe (John Denver)
10 Marcie (John Denver)
11 Upon a Monday Morning (John Denver)
12 Circus (John Denver)
13 For Lovin' Me (John Denver)
14 Cindy's Crying (John Denver)
15 San Francisco Bay Blues (John Denver)
16 Abraham, Martin and John (John Denver)
17 talk (John Denver)
18 Pretend Country Radio Announcement (John Denver)
19 [You Dun Stomped] My Heart (John Denver with Erich Zwertschek & John Marlowe)
20 talk (John Denver)
21 Suzanne (John Denver)
22 talk (John Denver)
23 The Game Is Over (John Denver)
24 Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio (John Denver)
25 talk (John Denver)
26 Sticky Summer Weather (John Denver)
27 talk (John Denver)

I'm happy to say that PJ (a.k.a. Peter) from his great "Albums I Wish Existed" blog has volunteered to help make the album covers I can't make for the next couple of weeks, until I get a new computer. There don't seem to be many good photos of Denver from 1969, since he wasn't famous yet. So Peter made this one from a 1970 photo at an unknown location.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Neil Young - Homefires - Non-Album Tracks (1974)

For a long time, we only had an incomplete picture of the rare and unreleased Neil Young songs from the early to mid-1970s. Now, thanks to the release of his "Archives, Volume II" box set, we have a much more complete picture. Apparently, the only song from that time period that he recorded and remains unreleased is called "Barefoot Floors." 

 I had posted a couple of albums gathering up the stray tracks from this era, as well as a rough version of "Homegrown." I'll be replacing them with better albums. Once I have those posted, I'll delete them as obsolete. (Also, I won't be replacing "Homegrown" with anything, since that's a rare case of an "album that should exist" that now officially has been released.)

It turns out that Young had one album in mind in 1974 to be called "Homefires" and another from around that same time to be called "Homegrown." Don't be confused by the very similar titles, because they were totally different albums (though some of the same songs might have been considered for both). "Homegrown" is now a closed book, since that has been officially released. But "Homefires" remains an open mystery. Young has talked about officially releasing that some time in the future, but so far he hasn't done that. Unlike another album of his I recently posted, "Last Dance," nobody outside his inner circle knows which songs were considered for this album.

So I'm going to use this as a gathering of all his stray tracks from a certain time period, and then I'll call it "Homefires." It's not what he intended, I'm sure, but it'll have to do for now. Certainly, many of these songs would have appeared on the version he intended, since these were the ones he didn't release at the time. Furthermore, they're all really good songs. In my opinion, this album would get a five star rating, along with most of his other early to mid-1970s albums.

This time period, roughly 1974, was a very emotionally troubled time for Young, because his first marriage, to Carrie Snodgrass, was falling apart. One way he coped was by writing more songs than he knew what to do with. At the same time, he was part of a massive Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tour that summer. A few of these songs ("Traces," "Long May You Run," "Pushed It Over the End" and "Hawaiian Sunrise") were attempted by CSNY, either live or in the studio. 

I've put those on my "alternate CSNY universe" albums, where CSNY actually put out some albums together in the mid-1970s. But that won't stop me from including them here too. Generally speaking, they're very different in these versions. That's especially the case with "Pushed It Over the End." CSNY did a rocking, full-band version of it. But here, Young did it just with solo acoustic guitar.

The vast majority of the songs here were officially released in these versions for the first time on "Archives, Volume II." The exceptions are "Winterlong," which came out on his "Decade" compilation in 1977, plus "Long May You Run" and "Pushed It Over the End." The latter two performances come from his great solo concert appearance at the Bottom Line in May 1974. I've posted the whole thing, which you can get here:

It's officially unreleased now, but apparently Young has plans to release it in 2021 (though we'll see if those come through on time). 

Anyway, the only version I have of those two songs comes from an excellent sounding audience bootleg, but an audience bootleg just the same. That means the audience could be heard from time to time. A particularly annoying aspect was that some people in the audience thought "Long May You Run" was a jokey song (since Young sings about his car), and they laughed from time to time through it. I carefully edited the recording to get rid of the laughing and other noise as much as possible. I made a lot of improvements, but I couldn't completely get rid of all of it. I did the same with "Pushed It Over the End," but I had a lot less trouble there.

"Sweet Joni" was also from a concert recording. But that was a pristine soundboard, and it got released as part of "Archives, Volume II." So all I really had to do there was remove some crowd noise right at the start and end of the song. With that removed, you'd think it was recorded in the studio.

In terms of the song order, because we don't have any proposed song list for this album, I didn't have anything to go on. With a few exceptions, I decided to go with the song order as presented on "Archives, Volume II." All the songs here from that came from the same album, and they flow together well. The main alteration I did was to put "Greensleeves" at the very end. That's a cover of the well-known traditional song, and it just felt right to me to put it last.

Note that although this isn't the exact "Homefires" that Young intended, it holds together very well as an album, in my opinion. In part, that's because the vast majority of it is acoustic, or at least semi-acoustic, so it has a consistent sound. There are no long Crazy Horse guitar jams here. But also, it's almost a concept album, with nearly all the songs relating to his crumbling marriage with his wife. In fact, they were so personal and painful that that's probably the main reason they remained unreleased for decades (and that was the same case with the "Homegrown" songs). 

Even some songs that may not seem thematically related to that, such as "Pushed It Over the End," probably are. (That song deals with political matters, especially the Patty Hearst kidnapping, and personal matters simultaneously.) "One More Sign" actually is a song he originally did in the 1960s with Buffalo Springfield, but it's drastically overhauled with a slow acoustic arrangement, and fits in to the divorce theme. Admittedly, a couple songs don't fit the theme, with "Sweet Joni" especially standing out. But I didn't have a better album to put it on, since it didn't really fit with the previous stray tracks album, "Last Dance."

UPDATE: On January 16, 2021, when I was getting ready to post the next stray tracks album in this series ("Dume"), I realized it made sense to move one song, "Love-Art Blues," to this album. So that's what I did. 

Then, on February 1, 2021, I added the song "Barefoot Floors." This is another excellent Young original. It was inexplicably left off the "Archives, Volume II" box set, but it was streamed on his website in January 2021.

01 Winterlong (Neil Young)
02 Sweet Joni (Neil Young)
03 Traces (Neil Young)
04 Long May You Run [Edit] (Neil Young)
05 Pushed It Over the End [Edit] (Neil Young)
06 Homefires (Neil Young)
07 Hawaiian Sunrise (Neil Young)
08 L.A. Girls and Ocean Boys (Neil Young)
09 One More Sign (Neil Young)
10 Frozen Man (Neil Young)
11 Give Me Strength (Neil Young)
12 Love-Art Blues (Neil Young)
13 Barefoot Floors (Neil Young)
14 Greensleeves (Neil Young)

Phew! I've mentioned that I had some computer troubles lately. Luckily, I made this album cover just before those troubles. I'm really happy at how it turned out. I searched the Internet for "Neil Young" and "fire," and found this photo of him in front of a fire. I don't know where or when it's from, but it looks like it's from the 1970s.

Morgan James - Acoustic Cover Songs, Volume 6, 2019-2020

This is the sixth and last album in my series of Morgan James acoustic cover songs... kind of. What I mean by that is, she has performed an even greater number of acoustic cover songs in 2020, which she calls "Quarantunes," where she played 100 new (for her) cover songs in 100 days. This album contains all the acoustic covers she did in the last year or so that I could find and that are NOT included as part of her Quarantunes series. I'll be posting a separate series of albums for that. So, if you like this kind of thing from her, there's a lot more to come.

I've mentioned it before, but I'll mention it again: one thing I really enjoy about her acoustic covers is the breadth of her source material. That can be seen especially clearly for this particular album. She covers songs dating from the 1930s to the 2010s, doing everything from show tunes to country to soul, and more.

As usual, it's just Morgan James on lead vocals, with her husband Doug Wamble on acoustic guitar and sometimes backing vocals. Wamble has a bigger role singing on a few of these than usual, enough for me to credit the songs are duets. 

Also as usual, all the songs are officially unreleased, and come from YouTube. The only unusual thing to note this time, I think, is the performances of the last two songs. James is terrible at playing guitar, but on "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," she attempted to play guitar for the first time for any of her videos. Her minor flubs, or near flubs, made her and Wamble laugh a lot. For the last song, "We Belong," she attempted that as a request despite being totally unprepared for it. She and her husband managed to get through most of it, until they finally broke down laughing.

Here's a list of the artists that originally made these songs famous:

01 Just the Two of Us - Bill Withers & Grover Washington Jr.
02 Over the Rainbow - Judy Garland
03 You'll Be Back - Lin-Manuel Miranda
04 I Can't Stand the Rain - Ann Peebles
05 Lush Life - Billy Strayhorn
06 All I Have to Do Is Dream - Every Brothers
07 Tutti Frutti - Little Richard
08 Maps - Maroon 5
09 Kokomo - Beach Boys
10 Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & the Waves
11 Smooth Operator - Sade
12 On the Road Again - Willie Nelson
13 Vision of Love - Mariah Carey
14 These Boots are Made for Walkin' - Nancy Sinatra
15 We Belong - Pat Benatar

Here's the usual song list:

01 Just the Two of Us (Morgan James)
02 Over the Rainbow (Morgan James)
03 You'll Be Back (Morgan James)
04 I Can't Stand the Rain (Morgan James)
05 Lush Life (Morgan James)
06 All I Have to Do Is Dream (Morgan James)
07 Tutti Frutti (Morgan James)
08 Maps (Morgan James)
09 Kokomo (Morgan James & Doug Wamble)
10 Walking on Sunshine (Morgan James & Doug Wamble)
11 Smooth Operator (Morgan James & Doug Wamble)
12 On the Road Again (Morgan James)
13 Vision of Love (Morgan James)
14 These Boots are Made for Walkin' (Morgan James)
15 We Belong (Morgan James)

As I mentioned above, Peter from the "Albums I Wish Existed" blog made this cover art. He wanted to keep the same look going for the rest of the albums in this series. Unfortunately, he didn't know the font type for that, and I don't know either since I don't have a working version of Photoshop at the moment to check my files of the other covers in the series. So he copied and pasted the artist name from one of the other albums. Then he wrote the rest of the text in the same font.