Monday, March 29, 2021

Rod Stewart - Vagabond Heart - Alternate Version (1991)

Rod Stewart has had a checkered  musical history. He's sold over 250 millions albums worldwide, making him one of the most commercially successful musicians in history. As recently as 2012, he had an album that went double platinum in the US. 

But despite all that success, most serious rock fans think that he lost his musical mojo a long time ago. The common perception is that he did great with the Jeff Beck Group, the Faces, and his solo albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but as the 1970s went on, he sold out, becoming the poster boy for the excessive rock star lifestyle, with drugs, sex, and material goods overwhelming his love of the music. The disco hit "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" is scoffed at to show how drastically he'd changed. Since then, his reputation has only gotten worse, with a series of "Great American Songbook" albums in the 2000s that sold like hotcakes but were critically derided.

I generally agree with all that. Stewart's career since about 1976 has been a disappointment, even though he's put out many worthy hit songs. But I would add an important caveat. I think he had a mini-career revival in the early 1990s. This can best be seen by the critically successful "Unplugged" album he released in 1993. I've already posted a complete version of that here. But he also put out a couple of decent albums around that time. What I'd like to do here is present an alternate version of one of them that removes the weakest songs and replaces them with some better stray tracks. Had he actually released this version of the album, I think the reputation of his early 1990s material would be much improved.

In my opinion, a key problem with his music from the mid-1970s onwards was that he was a follower of musical trends that haven't aged well. First, he latched onto disco. Then, went new wave became the big thing in the early 1980s, he latched onto that, slathering his recordings with synthesizers and big drums and all the other 1980s overproduction techniques that are often derided today. Thankfully, in the early 1990s, that sound fell out of favor. It seems around that time Stewart returned to more of the classic rock sound that made him a superstar in the first place. Mind you, there still were poppy and cheesy elements that serious rockers wouldn't approve of, but it wasn't as heavy as with his 1980s recordings. I think he especially looked to the Motown sound of the 1960s for inspiration, which was a sound that was both soulful yet poppy and very popular. He even had a hit with a song called "The Motown Song!"

One other problem albums had in this time period, in my opinion, is something I call "CD bloat." In the late 1980s, the maximum length of a single album went from around 50 minutes to about 77 minutes, thanks to the widespread popularity of the new CD medium. Many artists that had had to edit themselves to get their albums down to 50 minutes of less went wild and put out albums cover to 77 minutes. "Vagabond Heart" is an example of this, clocking in at 58 minutes.

So what I've done is cut the 14 songs down to eight. Then I added three more back in, for a total of 11. This cuts the length of the album from 58 minutes to 44 minutes, and in this case, I think less is more. (Note that I consider the song "Downtown Train," a 1989 hit, as one of the original 14. Technically, it's a bonus track, but it's been available on most versions of the album.) 

The three added songs are: "Highgate Shuffle," "Sweet Soul Music," and "Somebody to Hold." The first two are live covers from 1991 that were released on an archival live album. The last one is a less common bonus track.

If you're only a casual Rod Stewart who gave up on his albums prior to the start of the 1990s, you should give this a try. No, it's not the second coming of his 1971 classic "Every Picture Tells a Story." Yes, it's still somewhat dated to its time. But it's a pretty darn good album in my opinion, much better than the bloated official version.

01 Rhythm of My Heart (Rod Stewart)
02 Rebel Heart (Rod Stewart)
03 Broken Arrow (Rod Stewart)
04 Highgate Shuffle (Rod Stewart)
05 It Takes Two (Rod Stewart & Tina Turner)
06 The Motown Song (Rod Stewart with the Temptations)
07 Sweet Soul Music (Rod Stewart)
08 Go Out Dancing (Rod Stewart)
09 Downtown Train (Rod Stewart)
10 Somebody to Hold (Rod Stewart)
11 Have I Told You Lately (Rod Stewart)

The album cover pictured above is very different from the official version. This comes from a DVD of his 1991 tour, also called "Vagabond Heart." So all I had to do was remove the word "Tour" from the bottom of the flying red heart.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Fleetwood Mac - The New Mac Plays the Old Mac (1975-1977)

Here's something a little different. Every now and then I've put together a thematic album, like an album of Heart playing Led Zeppelin songs, or Sheryl Crow playing Rolling Stones songs. This is similar, except it's the "new" Fleetwood Mac - meaning the band from 1975 onwards, playing songs of the "old" Fleetwood mac, meaning the band from its start in the late 1960s to the early 1970s. 

They're almost two different bands in terms of musical style and personnel. The "old" band was dominated by lead guitarist Peter Green and his love of the blues. The "new" band was dominated by three singer songwriters: Lindsay Buckingham, Stevie Nicks, and Christine McVie, and they found massive success with a pop rock style. The only consistency throughout was the drummer, Mick Fleetwood, and the bassist, John McVie. 

In 1977, the "new" band released "Rumours," which is one of the most successful albums of all time, selling over 40 million copies. From that point on, the band hardly ever played songs made famous by the "old" band, because they had more popular songs to play than they could fit into a concert. Thus, there really was only a short window of time, 1975 to 1977, when the new band played some of the old band's songs. I'm compiled all those songs together that I could find in worthy sound quality. About half of them come from the 1975 tour. The other half come from a bootleg of rehearsals for the 1977 tour.

This album mostly features Buckingham and McVie on lead vocals. As the only male lead vocalist in the 1975 to 1977 time period, it was natural for Buckingham to sing the songs previous sang by Peter Green or Bob Welch. McVie features because she joined the band around 1971 (after a graduation transition period), so she had some of her own "old band" songs to sing with the "new" band. I don't think Stevie Nicks sings lead anywhere here, but of course she frequently can be heard on backing vocals.

I think this is an interesting album because it's almost like a lost album of the famous "Rumours" line-up. Buckingham in particular had a key role in crafting that "Rumours" pop rock sound, and you can hear his influence in rearranging these songs to make them a mix of old and new styles.

This album is 45 minutes long. That doesn't include the two bonus tracks, which are bonus tracks because of poorer sound quality. Note the last song, "Mystery Train," is a cover of a song made famous by Elvis Presley.

01 Get like You Used to Be (Fleetwood Mac)
02 The Green Manalishi [With the Two Prong Crown] (Fleetwood Mac)
03 Station Man (Fleetwood Mac)
04 Spare Me a Little (Fleetwood Mac)
05 Why (Fleetwood Mac)
06 Hypnotized (Fleetwood Mac)
07 Believe Me (Fleetwood Mac)
08 Oh Well, Part 1 (Fleetwood Mac)
09 Tell Me All the Things You Do (Fleetwood Mac)
10 Mystery Train (Fleetwood Mac)

Jumping at Shadows (Fleetwood Mac)
Sunny Side of Heaven [Instrumental] (Fleetwood Mac)

For the album cover, I didn't want to have a picture of the "new" band and thus leave out the "old" band, and vice versa. So instead I went with some art. This picture comes from a Fleetwood Mac concert poster. I think it's from 1973. It was longer, but I had to cut the rectangular poster to fit into the square album cover format. The band name was there in the original art. I just added the text at the bottom.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Rod Stewart - Once in a Blue Moon - Alternate Version (1992)

As I commented recently when I posted an alternate version of Rod Stewart's 1991 album "Vagabond Heart," I feel Stewart had a minor career revival in the early 1990s. I'm not talking about sales, since his stayed strong for decades; I mean a critical revival. For a few years, he at least partially returned to his early 1970s classic rock and R&B roots.

The problem is this change wasn't well reflected on his studio albums at the time. "Vagabond Heart" had many good songs on it, but it was bloated with some weak songs, being nearly an hour long. "Once in a Blue Moon" is a much worse case, because it wasn't really released at the time. It only came out in 2010, despite being recorded in 1992!

The reason it wasn't released was because of his 1993 live album, "Unplugged... and Seated." His record company correctly figured this would be a huge seller. By the early 1990s, most established artists like Stewart waited a couple of years, at least, between studio album releases. The record company didn't want to put an album out and then have another album come out while singles were still being released from the first one. 

So instead, they did something strange with the songs recorded for "Once in a Blue Moon." They released an album in Britain and Germany only called "Lead Vocalist." It had just five of the songs recorded for "Once in a Blue Moon." It contained another seven songs which were some of his greatest hits from the late 1960s and 1970s. This was a terrible decision, in my opinion. It didn't have enough new songs to be seen as a new album, yet only seven older songs wasn't nearly enough for a decent greatest his collection. Not surprisingly, the album sold only a tiny fraction of "Vagabond Heart."

That's a shame, because it was a good album. Unlike most of his albums, it was basically a covers album, with only one original song. The songs were well chosen, with a mix of recent songs and older classics, including two by Bob Dylan. 

That said, I think the 2010 version of "Once in a Blue Moon' has some issues. There were a couple of songs on it that I didn't like. For instance, the cover of "Ruby Tuesday" rubbed me the wrong way. The Rolling Stones version is so iconic and perfect that it just doesn't sound right when Stewart sings it. So I left that off. I also prefer the "fast version" the Motown classic "First I Look at the Purse," which was only included as a bonus track. So I used that instead of the regular album version. Furthermore, an archival box set called "The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971 - 1988" was released in 2009. It contained different versions of many of the "Once in a Blue Moon" songs. I often prefer these versions, as they're earlier versions that don't suffer from overproduction. "Windy Town" is especially different, with this version basically being just Stewart's voice and a piano.

Another key change is that I replaced "Ruby Tuesday" with a 1992 version of "In a Broken Dream." That song was a hit for the band Python Lee Jackson in 1972, but with Stewart singing lead vocals. Stewart came up with what I consider to be a superior version in 1992, featuring some excellent guitar work from Pink Floyd lead guitarist David Gilmour. But unfortunately that version wasn't released at the time, and only came out on the 2009 box set.

I think if Rod Stewart released a "Vagabond Heart" in 1991 close to the version I posted recently, followed by "Once in a Blue Moon" in 1992, followed by "Unplugged... and Seated," he would have had an undisputed critical revival, as well as continued commercial success. It's too bad that didn't happen, but at least it can happen retroactively with these revised albums.

01 The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar (Rod Stewart)
02 Shotgun Wedding (Rod Stewart)
03 The Downtown Lights (Rod Stewart)
04 Let the Day Begin (Rod Stewart)
05 First I Look at the Purse [Fast Version] (Rod Stewart)
06 Tom Traubert's Blues [Single Version] (Rod Stewart)
07 In a Broken Dream [1992 Version] (Rod Stewart with David Gilmour)
08 This Wheel's on Fire (Rod Stewart)
09 I Wanna Stay Home (Rod Stewart)
10 Windy Town [Piano Version] (Rod Stewart)

The album cover here is similar to, but not the same as the 2010 official cover. I used the photo on the back, which was similar to the photo on the front. I kept the text exactly the same, in the same place.

J. J. Cale - The Early Years, 1958-1967

J. J. Cale had a long and successful career with his laidback singing and lead guitar style, from his first album in 1972 until his death in 2013. But did you know that he spent well over a decade in the music industry before he could put out his first album? That's what this album is about, Cale's little-known early years.

This album isn't for everyone. It took a long time for Cale to find his distinctive style. Some of his early stuff is fairly generic and forgettable. But there are some gems there too, including a version of his classic "After Midnight" that was released as a B-side in 1966. If you're a J. J. Cale fan, you may well find this interesting, but if you're not, this isn't the place to start.

Cale spent many early years mostly as a sideman prized for his lead guitar skills. But even so, he sang lead as far back as 1958 on some fairly obscure singles, and wrote a lot of songs too. I've created two versions of this album. The first one is 39 minutes long, and contains just the songs where Cale sang lead vocals, or instrumentals that prominently featured his guitar work. The second one is an hour and 12 minutes long (32 minutes longer than the other version). That one includes all the same songs, plus many more songs where he played lead guitar on other people's songs. A lot of those extra songs aren't that great, so the long version is more for the J. J. Cale die-hard fan.

Before I say any more, I should point out that this album is almost entirely the work of MZ, a musical friend of mine. You may recognize his name because he's helped with audio editing from time to time. A few days ago, he came to me with this idea, and a list of songs for it. I told him "go for it." I didn't do much except to come up with the idea of creating two versions. So here's a big, big thanks to MZ. 

Note the first batch of songs are credited to "Johnny Cale." He switched to "J. J." at some point in the mid-1960s. Apparently, a club owner made the suggestion, saying that there were too many other guitarists at the time named Johnny, such as Johnny Rivers, and J. J. would stand out more. I've put the "J. J. Cale" part in parentheses for consistency's sake. And rest assured that for band like the Starlighters and the Leathercoated Minds, Cale was a member. He bounced around a lot in the 1960s, joining and leaving bands while doing studio work. He often worked with keyboardist Leon Russell. You'll see Russell's name a few times in the credits for the full version (including when he went by "Leon Russell Bridges"). but there are quite a few additional songs where he and Russell worked on the same songs, but just didn't get their names on the records.

Thanks again to MZ for making this. He says he's going to follow this up with one or more albums of Cale rarities from the rest of his career, so look forward to that soon, knock on wood.

Here's the streamlined 39 minute version:

01 Shock Hop [Instrumental] (Johnny Cale [J. J. Cale])
02 Sneaky [Instrumental] (Johnny Cale [J. J. Cale])
03 Ain't That Lovin' You Baby (Johnny Cale [J. J. Cale])
04 She's My Desire (Johnny Cale [J. J. Cale])
05 Purple Onion [Instrumental] (Johnny Cale Quintette [J. J. Cale])
06 Troubles, Troubles, Troubles (Johnny Cale Quintette [J. J. Cale])
07 Creepin' [Instrumental] (Starlighters)
08 Hot Licks [Instrumental] (Starlighters)
09 It's a Go-Go Place (J. J. Cale)
10 Dick Tracy (J. J. Cale)
11 In Our Time (J. J. Cale)
12 Outside Looking In (J. J. Cale)
13 After Midnight (J. J. Cale)
14 Slow Motion (J. J. Cale)
15 Sunset and Clark [Instrumental] (Leathercoated Minds)
16 Non-Stop [Instrumental] (Leathercoated Minds)
17 Arriba [Instrumental] (Leathercoated Minds)
18 Pot Luck [Instrumental] (Leathercoated Minds)

And here's the longer 112 minute version, including songs where Cale prominently played lead guitar on other people's records:

01 Shock Hop [Instrumental] (Johnny Cale [J. J. Cale])
02 Sneaky [Instrumental] (Johnny Cale [J. J. Cale])
03 I Hate Myself (Al Sweatt with Johnnie Cale & the Valentines)
04 Let's Paint the Town Red (Al Sweatt with Johnnie Cale & the Valentines)
05 There's a Big Wheel (Jerry Adams & the Starlighters)
06 Old Black Joe (Jerry Adams & the Starlighters)
07 All Right (Leon Russell Bridges & the Starlighters)
08 Swanee River (Leon Russell Bridges & the Starlighters)
09 Ain't That Lovin' You Baby (Johnny Cale [J. J. Cale])
10 She's My Desire (Johnny Cale [J. J. Cale])
11 Purple Onion [Instrumental] (Johnny Cale Quintette [J. J. Cale])
12 Troubles, Troubles, Troubles (Johnny Cale Quintette [J. J. Cale])
13 Creepin' [Instrumental] (Starlighters)
14 Hot Licks [Instrumental] (Starlighters)
15 Black Cherry (Junior Markham & the Tulsa Review)
16 Gonna Send You to Georgia (Junior Markham & the Tulsa Review)
17 It's Alright with Me (Leon Russell)
18 Everybody's Talking 'bout the Young (Leon Russell)
19 It's a Go-Go Place (J. J. Cale)
20 Dick Tracy (J. J. Cale)
21 In Our Time (J. J. Cale)
22 Outside Looking In (J. J. Cale)
23 After Midnight (J. J. Cale)
24 Slow Motion (J. J. Cale)
25 The Green Hornet [Instrumental] (Super Dupers)
26 I'm Puttin' You On (Sunday Servants)
27 Who Do You Love (Sunday Servants)
28 Lazy Me (Jimmy Boyd)
29 Sunset and Clark [Instrumental] (Leathercoated Minds)
30 Non-Stop [Instrumental] (Leathercoated Minds)
31 Arriba [Instrumental] (Leathercoated Minds)
32 Pot Luck [Instrumental] (Leathercoated Minds)

It should come as no surprise that good photos of Cale before he became famous in the 1970s are few and far between. In fact, I couldn't find a single color photo of him from that time. The photo I used is black and white and I colorized it. I'm not sure when and where it was taken, but I would guess roughly 1966 to 1969. MZ found another photo of him in 1965 with a similar "poofy" haircut, though it was much more combed and slicked back.

The Hollies - BBC Sessions, Volume 4: 1971-1972

Here's the fourth and final album of the Hollies playing at the BBC.

There's a grand total of one song here that's been officially released: "Too Young to Be Married." That comes from the "Radio Fun" album. That came from a "Top of the Pops" BBC studio session. All of the unreleased tracks also come from "Top of the Pops" sessions, with one of them even from the same session as the released song.

These "Top of the Pops" recordings come from transcription discs sent to overseas radio stations at the time. For those discs that have survived, the sound quality is excellent. For instance, you can't tell the difference between the released song and the others.

My thanks goes to my musical associate Marley for providing me these recordings.

Surprisingly, even as late as 1971 and 1972, there was still a lot of BBC DJ talk over the music. I've noticed that the more poppy a band is, the more likely their songs get talked over. So I did the usual thing of using the X-Minus audio editing program to wipe out the talking and keep the underlying music. Eight out of the 12 songs here have "[Edit]" in their names due to this problem.

This album is 40 minutes long.

UPDATE: On December 8, 2022, I reuploaded the mp3 download file, due to drastically changing this album. Previously, this dealt with a time period from 1971 to 1976. But everything past 1972 wasn't actually from the BBC. Once I found a bunch of new actual BBC stuff, thanks to Marley, I narrowed the time period of this one. Then, most of that later material came from one particular televised concert in 1975, so I've made a separate post of that concert. I slightly changed the cover art, because of the different years mentioned.

01 Hey Willy [Edit] (Hollies)
02 Survival of the Fittest [Edit] (Hollies)
03 Too Young to Be Married (Hollies)
04 Hold On (Hollies)
05 Look What We've Got [Edit] (Hollies)
06 The Baby [Edit] (Hollies)
07 Oh Grannie [Edit] (Hollies)
08 What a Life I've Led [Edit] (Hollies)
09 Blue in the Morning (Hollies)
10 Magic Woman Touch [Edit] (Hollies)
11 Won't You Feel Good That Morning [Edit] (Hollies)
12 Slow Down (Hollies)

The cover art photo shows the band playing on the "Top on the Pops" TV show in 1974.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Boz Scaggs - The Roxy, Los Angeles, CA, 4-7-1976

Boz Scaggs has been a musician since the 1960s until today (as I write this in 2021). He's had critical success, but only a medium amount of commercial success for most of his career. But there's one big exception to that: his 1976 album "Silk Degrees" was a huge hit. It was a number one or two hit album in many countries around the world. It sold over five million copies and spawned four hit singles. This basically is a live version of that album, plus the best of his songs from his previous albums.

The main reason I'm posting this bootleg is because of the sound quality. If there wasn't an excellent soundboard from that 1976 tour, then I would pass on having live music from that time. Luckily, there actually are two soundboards. The best one is the main one I'm using here, from the Roxy in Los Angeles. But he had a fairly consistent set list on that tour, and that recording misses four songs. There's a run of three missing songs in the middle of the concert ("Angel Lady," "Running Blue," and "Georgia"), plus the encore, "'Cause You're Mine." The encore is especially interesting because the rest of the songs are all predictable choices of originals from Scaggs' albums, but the encore is a cover of a Vibrations song that Scaggs has never officially released in any form. 

Anyway, for these four missing songs, I used versions from the other soundboard bootleg from the tour, which comes from a concert in Central Park in New York City. I highly doubt you'll notice the difference between the two sources because they sound nearly the same.

By the way, in my opinion, the main reason Boz Scaggs had such success with "Silk Degrees" was because, for that one album only, he had a songwriting partnership with David Paich, the keyboardist in his band at the time. Together they wrote the hits from that album, including "Lowdown," "What Can I Say," and "Lido Shuffle." Paich seems to be the secret sauce for hit making success. After the album, he and most of the rest of Scaggs' backing band left to form their own group, Toto. Paich went on to write or co-write other big hits for Toto like "Hold the Line," "Rosanna," and "Africa."

This album is an hour and 12 minutes long.

01 Lowdown (Boz Scaggs)
02 You Make It So Hard [To Say No] (Boz Scaggs)
03 talk (Boz Scaggs)
04 What Can I Say (Boz Scaggs)
05 Might Have to Cry (Boz Scaggs)
06 talk (Boz Scaggs)
07 Jump Street (Boz Scaggs)
08 Angel Lady (Boz Scaggs)
09 talk (Boz Scaggs)
10 Running Blue (Boz Scaggs)
11 talk (Boz Scaggs)
12 Georgia (Boz Scaggs)
13 Slow Dancer (Boz Scaggs)
14 It's Over (Boz Scaggs)
15 talk (Boz Scaggs)
16 Lido Shuffle (Boz Scaggs)
17 Dinah Flo (Boz Scaggs)
18 talk (Boz Scaggs)
19 I Got Your Number (Boz Scaggs)
20 'Cause You're Mine (Boz Scaggs)

The cover art photo comes from a concert in New York City in November 1975.

Monday, March 22, 2021

The Hollies - BBC Sessions, Volume 3: 1969-1970

Here's the third out of four albums of the Hollies at the BBC.

In late 1968, Graham Nash left the Hollies to join Crosby, Stills and Nash. He was a key part of the band's songwriting and singing, and was the "hippest" member of the band when keeping up with the times was extremely important. The band continued having hits just fine without him, although they were increasingly seen as a pop band that was out of step with the increasingly serious and "heavy" music being made. 

During the time frame here, 1969 and 1970, the Hollies continued to perform for the BBC a lot, although that would soon peter out in the early 1970s. The first six songs come from a concert that was broadcast on the BBC in early 1969. I've only included the songs that don't appear elsewhere in this series. One of the songs, "Maybe I'll Settle Down," appears to be an original that never got officially released. 

In 1970, an Australian TV station recorded the Hollies in concert as they toured Australia and made a TV special out of the footage that was shown in 1971, called "Don't Get Sunburnt." Four of the songs here are from that: "Gasoline Alley Bred," "Let It Be," "Woodstock," and "Amazing Grace." The last three are covers that the band never officially released.

The remaining songs come from typical BBC sessions. I had to edit three of those due to the usual problem of BBC DJs talking over the music. I used the X-Minus audio editing program to wipe the talking while keeping the underlying music. One BBC song, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," is the only officially released performance from this entire album. But the sound quality is nevertheless high, because everything here is either from the BBC or that Australian TV special.

01 Carrie Anne (Hollies)
02 Quit Your Lowdown Ways (Hollies)
03 I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (Hollies)
04 Stop, Stop, Stop (Hollies)
05 The Mighty Quinn [Quinn the Eskimo] (Hollies)
06 Maybe I'll Settle Down (Hollies)
07 Sorry Suzanne (Hollies)
08 He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother (Hollies)
09 Lady Please [Edit] (Hollies)
10 Gasoline Alley Bred (Hollies)
11 Let It Be (Hollies)
12 Woodstock (Hollies)
13 Amazing Grace (Hollies)
14 Isn't It Nice [Edit] (Hollies)

The cover art photo was taken in January 1969.

The Moody Blues - Fly Me High - Non-Album Tracks (1967-1972)

I just posted a version of the Moody Blues album "Days of Future Passed" with the orchestral elements reduced and some other songs from the time period added in. While I made that, I had to consider what I wanted to do with the songs from that time that didn't fit. So I created this stray tracks album as kind of a byproduct. I figure I might as well post it at the same time.

Most fans of the Moody Blues would agree that their classic, peak period was from 1967 to 1972. That's exactly the time frame for this album. As far as I can tell, the band doesn't have many stray tracks. (Or if they do, they keep them locked up in their vaults.) PJ at the Albums I Wish Existed blog made a similar album with many of the same songs. But this has some differences, especially because I used four 1967 songs for my version of "Days of Future Passed," and thus they aren't included here.

All these songs are officially released, except for "Beautiful Dream." That one comes from a 1968 concert that was broadcast on French TV. I've already posted that entire album at this blog. The sound quality of that one is the same as the rest. I removed the audience noise to make it fit in with the studio tracks.

In my opinion, if you consider this album as a whole, it's just as good as most of the band's studio albums from 1967 to 1972. For instance, some of the songs here could have been hits, like "Fly Me High." And "A Simple Game" actually was a hit for the Four Tops, even though it was written by the Moody Blues. It barely made the charts in the US, but it reached the Top Five in Britain. 

This album is 42 minutes long.

01 Fly Me High (Moody Blues)
02 Leave This Man Alone (Moody Blues)
03 Please Think about It (Moody Blues)
04 Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (Moody Blues)
05 Beautiful Dream (Moody Blues)
06 King and Queen (Moody Blues)
07 Gimme a Little Somethin' (Moody Blues)
08 What Am I Doing Here (Moody Blues)
09 A Simple Game (Moody Blues)
10 Mike's Number One (Moody Blues)
11 The Dreamer (Moody Blues)
12 Island (Moody Blues)

The cover art is based on a concert poster. The poster is from a 2007 concert, which is way off chronologically, but I figure the artistic style is timeless. The poster is rectangular, so I had to crop it to get it to fit the square space of an album cover.  The band name is exactly how it was in the poster, but I changed the text at the bottom.

The Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed - Alternate Version (1967)

In 1967, the Moody Blues released the album "Days of Future Passed." It was a groundbreaking album in many respects. Previously, they had been a British R&B band, but that musical genre had fallen out of favor due to rapidly changing musical trends, especially the rise of psychedelic music that year. This album established a whole new sound for the band that they would stick with for the rest of their career. It also was one of the first rock concept albums, and an early form of "progressive rock."

That said, I've always felt the album is a mixed bag. It has some truly great parts to it, most especially the songs "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Nights in White Satin," which are all time classics. But in my opinion the album was saddled down by the fact that it was a collaboration between the Moody Blues and the London Festival Orchestra, a symphonic orchestra. This was pretty much hoisted on the band by their record company Decca, who wanted an album that mixed rock and classical music to best demonstrate the company's new stereo recording techniques. I've always felt the orchestral sections dragged the album down. I strongly suspect the band would have never had those sections except they had to go along with the record company's demands in order to get an album out.

It so happens that the band recorded some other songs at the same time that are quite good. Furthermore, the album had a concept about a day in the life of an ordinary man, and many of these other songs fit that concept. So I've attempted to make a version of this album that minimizes or eliminates the orchestral aspects whenever possible, and replaces them with the other songs that fit. In my opinion, this makes for a much stronger album overall. 

Let me get more specific about what I did. The names of the songs on the original album are somewhat tricky, and even differ on different editions, because sometimes more than one song is lumped together. Suffice to say that I've removed all of the purely orchestral songs. In their place, I've added "Cities," "Love and Beauty," "I Really Haven't Got the Time," and "Long Summer Days." The first three were released in 1967 and A- or B-sides, and the fourth one was an outtake. Additionally, in some cases I've used alternate versions or BBC versions where the orchestral elements were lessened or removed. 

In an attempt to cut the orchestral elements even further, I found a 5.1 mix of the album, which means it was mixed for surround sound and thus has five channels instead of the typical two stereo channels. I hoped I could find channels with just the orchestral parts on them and then remove them. Unfortunately, that didn't work out in most cases, because the orchestral parts were mixed in with the rest. This only worked for the last song, "Late Lament," which is actually a poem recitation over music.  Using the 5.1 mix, I created a special edit that lessens the strings swelling in the background, but doesn't eliminate them altogether.

So this isn't the ideal version I'd hoped to make. Hopefully someday a true multitrack mix of the album will emerge and allow me to reduce the orchestral element even further. The two best known songs, "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Nights in White Satin," aren't changed at all. Maybe that's for the best, since these are the versions that people are familiar with. But in any case, I think the major improvement here are the four added songs, and the removed songs, or parts or songs. It's rather amazing to me how well they fit into the conceptual theme of the album. I suspect the band wrote songs about that concept and had more than they were able to use. Since the album more forward chronologically through a typical day, it usually was fairly straightforward to figure out where the additional songs fit in.

There are three more songs from this time period that I wanted to add: "Fly Me High," "Leave This Man Alone," and "Please Think about It." Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to get them to fit into the theme. Instead, I've created a stray tracks album for the band that includes this time period, and I've put those songs there.

The official version of "Days of Future Passed" is 41 minutes long. After all the additions and subtractions I made, this version is 40 minutes long.  So it's essentially the same.

01 Dawn Is a Feeling [Alternate Version] (Moody Blues)
02 Cities (Moody Blues)
03 Another Morning (Moody Blues)
04 Love and Beauty (Moody Blues)
05 I Really Haven't Got the Time (Moody Blues)
06 Peak Hour (Moody Blues)
07 Tuesday Afternoon [Forever Afternoon] (Moody Blues)
08 [Evening] Time to Get Away (Moody Blues)
09 Long Summer Days (Moody Blues)
10 The Sun Set [Alternate Version] (Moody Blues)
11 Twilight Time [BBC Version] (Moody Blues)
12 Nights in White Satin (Moody Blues)
13 Late Lament [Edit] (Moody Blues)

At first glance, the album cover may seem the same as the officially released one. But there's a key difference: the art is turned 90 degrees. That's to show how the seemingly random psychedelic art style actually makes up a large human face.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Paul McCartney - Soundcheck Songs, Volume 1: April to May 1993

It's very rare to get good versions of songs played at soundchecks before concerts. Artists use that time to warm up and/or mess around, so it's rare for them to want to officially release any of that. And it's very rare for bootleggers to record soundchecks well, due to the fact that very few to no people are in the audience for them. But we're blessed with a large number of excellent recordings of Paul McCartney's soundchecks for his 1993 tour. 

That's because in 1995 he did a bunch of radio shows called "Oobu Joobu" where he played interesting rarities. It seems he recorded all of his soundchecks for his 1993 tour, and he played many songs from them for the radio show. I found so many interesting soundcheck songs that I've created four albums out of them, organized chronologically. Here's the first one. Everything here is officially unreleased, though most or all of them were played on that radio show.

According to, McCartney headlined over 100 concerts in 1993, more than in any other year. He tended to play the same hits at most of the shows, but he liked to sprinkle in unusual songs too, usually covers of songs he loved when he was growing up. These soundcheck versions are ideal, because they're not marred by audience noise or poor recordings. A few songs here were played most every night in the live shows, such as "Let Me Roll It," but others were played rarely, like "Mother Nature's Son," which was only done once that tour, or not at all, like "When the Wind She Blows Cool."

This album is 48 minutes long. The other albums in this series are around that same length.

01 Looking for Changes (Paul McCartney)
02 Mother Nature's Son (Paul McCartney)
03 Off the Ground (Paul McCartney)
04 Peace in the Neighbourhood (Paul McCartney)
05 Get Out of My Way (Paul McCartney)
06 Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying (Paul McCartney)
07 Every Night (Paul McCartney)
08 Let Me Roll It (Paul McCartney)
09 Mean Woman Blues (Paul McCartney)
10 When the Wind She Blows Cool (Paul McCartney)
11 Bring It to Jerome (Paul McCartney)
12 Be-Bop-A-Lula (Paul McCartney)

One of the places McCartney played on this tour was Minneapolis. I picked a photo of him in concert in that city because on of the soundcheck songs here, "Bring It On Home to Me," was recorded there.

The Hollies - BBC Sessions, Volume 2: 1966-1968

A few days ago, when I posted Volume 1 of the Hollies performing at the BBC, I mentioned that I only had three albums to share. I decided that didn't seem right, given how much I've found from similar 1960s groups, so I dug a little deeper and now have four. The first album is still the same. Here's Volume 2.

As I mentioned previously, there is an official BBC album for this band, called "Radio Fun." The vast majority of the songs here come from that. But four of them do not: "I've Been Wrong," "King Midas in Reverse," "Postcard," and "Pegasus." I don't know why those weren't included, because the versions here sound perfectly fine.

Also, similar to Volume 1, six of these songs suffered from the typical problem with these albums whereby BBC DJs talked over the starts and ends to some songs. But I fixed these using the X-Minus audio editing program, wiping the talking while keeping the underlying music.

The Hollies had a very important personnel change at the end of 1968, when Graham Nash left to group to join Crosby, Stills and Nash. I'm glad to say I managed to arrange things so the end of this album marks the end of the Nash-era BBC recordings. 

UPDATE: On November 27, 2021, I updated the mp3 download file. I added a song I'd previously missed, "Don't Even Think About Changing."

01 I Can't Let Go (Hollies)
02 To You My Love [Edit] (Hollies)
03 Little Bitty Pretty One (Hollies)
04 I Take What I Want (Hollies)
05 That's How Strong My Love Is (Hollies)
06 I've Been Wrong (Hollies)
07 Hard Hard Year [Edit] (Hollies)
08 Bus Stop (Hollies)
09 Shake (Hollies)
10 Don't Even Think About Changing [Edit] (Hollies)
11 King Midas in Reverse (Hollies)
12 Away, Away, Away (Hollies)
13 Charlie and Fred (Hollies)
14 The Games We Play [Edit] (Hollies)
15 Postcard (Hollies)
16 Jennifer Eccles (Hollies)
17 Step Inside (Hollies)
18 Wings (Hollies)
19 Pegasus [Edit] (Hollies)
20 Wishyouawish [Edit] (Hollies)

The album cover shows the band on the "Ready, Steady, Go" TV show in 1966.

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Small Faces - The Twenty Club, Mouscron, Belgium, 1-9-1966

Man, I'm so psyched to post this album! This is a Small Faces live album that has been so extremely rare it has been almost impossible to find, even as a bootleg. Yet the sound quality is fantastic! The Small Faces were considered one of the best live bands of the 1960s for those who were actually there and saw them. For instance, before Robert Plant became a superstar with Led Zeppelin, he was a Small Faces groupie for a time, going from town to town to catch all their concerts. He's called their live shows "spectacular." 

Yet it seemed as if nearly all traces of their concerts were lost. Five live songs from late 1968 were included on the 1969 album "The Autumn Stone," and then repeated on various archival albums. But that's been about it, if you don't count BBC sessions, which are more like studio sessions. So I consider this appearance of a soundboard quality full concert from the band emerging here in 2021 nothing short of miraculous!

Technically speaking, this concert has been available for purchase since 2017, but under such an obscure condition that it's been beyond reach for most people. In that year, a book about the band was published, called "Smalls: Tronche de Vie," written by Jean-Noel Coghe. Unfortunately, it's written entirely in French, and there's no English translation that I know of. The book came with two CDs. One is this concert. The other is the audio version of various interviews. I looked high and low, and couldn't find this concert at any of the usual bootleg websites. I didn't want to buy the book because I don't speak French, plus I could only find it for sale with Euros and I don't have those, plus I wouldn't be able to convert the CD to digital audio if I did. Happily, I mentioned my desire for it at my recently posted wish list, and my musical friend MZ was able to get it from someone else who had it.

I don't know the details of how or why this was recorded, or by whom. But judging from the sound quality, it has to be a soundboard. Furthermore, judging by the amount of audience noise when it can be heard after some songs, the band almost certainly played in front of a small audience in a club. That had to help with the recording quality too.

The audio is not perfect. The first three songs are a bit rougher than the bulk of it, and there's some trouble with a couple of songs towards the end as well, probably caused by tape damage. But that's in a relative sense. Even those songs sound much better than the five live tracks that were first released on "The Autumn Stone." Furthermore, I used my audio editing skills to fix most of the problems. There were some cases where the volume dropped out for a few seconds, or things got murky for a little bit. I fixed some of those by boosting the volume for the dropped out parts. In other cases, such as with some murky bits, I was able to fix those by patching in a few seconds from elsewhere in the song, if a repeated lyric or musical phrase made that possible. 

Then, after I did what I could, I passed the files back to MZ, who has a different set of audio editing skills. He applied EQ (equalization) on the whole thing to improve the sound in general. He also did more work on especially murky bits. (By the way, no noise reduction was used, since there wasn't any buzzing or humming problem.) The concert sounds noticeably better now, in my opinion, though there still are a few rough or murky spots. The songs where either MZ or I made some edits have "[Edit]" in their song titles.

That said, all in all, the sound is amazing for a concert recorded in 1966! You have to keep in mind how far back that is, since recording concert bootlegs didn't become a trend until a couple of years later. If you sort bootlegs by year, there are very, very few that date that far back, period. For instance, I just checked Dime a Dozen, one of the biggest bootleg sites, and there are less than 50 boots from 1966 there out of the nearly 40,000 boots they have currently available. Only about half of those are from rock artists, and most of those frankly sound like crap. I would argue this one sounds better than any 1966 concert bootleg from many of the bigger rock names of the time, like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or the Who. Furthermore, most such bands either don't have an official live album from around that time, or if they do, like the Kinks with their "Live at Kelvin Hall" album, they don't sound as good as this one. So maybe you can see why I consider it miraculous for a lesser known band like the Small Faces go from having no decent sounding concert recording at all to having one of the best, especially after so many decades have passed. 

As an additional pleasant surprise, the band played a bunch of cover songs that they never put on record, and never performed for the BBC either. Those are: "Ooh Pooh Pah Doo," "Baby Please Don't Go," "Parchman Farm," "In the Midnight Hour," "Chain Gang," "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," "Please, Please, Please," and "Strange." True, some of those are in medleys and thus aren't full versions. But still, that's way more than one would expect for a concert recording that's only 56 minutes long.

As the Small Faces grew more popular, they were increasingly pushed by their record company into concerts where they were one of the opening acts to even bigger artists. Typically, they would just play their hits in a single short set of 30 minutes or less. If they were lucky, they might get one extra song where they could play something they wanted, such as a cover, but that was it. This approach might have helped them sell more records, but the band members found it frustrating and it was one factor  that led to their break up in early 1969. Luckily, this concert comes from before that time, where they were the headliner, they only had one hit ("Whatcha Gonna Do about It") that they were obliged to play, and they could play whatever else they wanted to fill out their sets. That makes the survival of this recording even more of a lucky wonder.

If you listen to the concert, you can tell that the band played two sets. (You can hear the end of the first set towards the end of track 11 ("E Too D") when lead singer Steve Marriott sings some ad-libbed lyrics about having to leave and saying goodbye.) As a result, some songs were played twice, once in each set. Happily, there are only a few of these: "You Need Love" (a blues cover which the band called "You Need Loving" - and which Led Zeppelin would later turn into "Whole Lotta Love"), "Whatcha Gonna Do about It," "E Too D," and "Comin' Home Baby." Normally, I hate having two versions of the same song on one album, and I would remove one version. But in this case, I'm keeping all of it, since any live recording from this band is so precious. The only thing I cut was a little bit of aimless guitar tuning before two of the songs.

I don't know if the person who recorded this captured all of both sets or not. Perhaps we'll never know (unless the French book explains it). But I do suspect that some cuts were made between songs. I'm surmising this based on the fact that some songs have no audience response at all when they end, while others have fervent screaming that gets cut off after just a few seconds. It wasn't unusual back in those days for bootleggers to turn their tape recorders off between songs to help make sure they didn't run out of tape before the concert ended. But if that's the case here, at least we're lucky to get some banter before nearly every single song.

If you like the Small Faces at all, you need to give this a listen. To me, it's a crime that this hasn't been made widely available by a major record label. But hey, at least it exists, and now you can hear it too.

01 talk (Small Faces)
02 Ooh Pooh Pah Doo [Edit] (Small Faces)
03 talk (Small Faces)
04 You Need Love [You Need Loving] [Edit] (Small Faces)
05 talk (Small Faces)
06 Plum Nellie - Baby Please Don't Go - Parchman Farm - In the Midnight Hour - Chain Gang [Edit] (Small Faces)
07 talk (Small Faces)
08 Whatcha Gonna Do about It (Small Faces)
09 talk (Small Faces)
10 Comin' Home Baby [Instrumental] (Small Faces)
11 E Too D (Small Faces)
12 talk (Small Faces)
13 Come On Children (Small Faces)
14 talk (Small Faces)
15 Grow Your Own - Everything's Gonna Be Alright - Shake and Fingerpop (Small Faces)
16 talk (Small Faces)
17 Please, Please, Please (Small Faces)
18 talk (Small Faces)
19 Strange [Edit] (Small Faces)
20 talk (Small Faces)
21 You Need Love [You Need Loving] [Edit] (Small Faces)
22 talk (Small Faces)
23 Comin' Home Baby [Instrumental] (Small Faces)
24 E Too D - Whatcha Gonna Do about It (Small Faces)

For the cover art, not surprisingly, I couldn't find a photo of the exact concert in question. I did find one from a concert in June 1966, which at least is close in time. (I don't know where the photo was taken.) Unfortunately, it only shows two of the band members, but they were the two singers and songwriters, Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane. Marriott is the one who looks at first like he's wearing a white neck brace, but that's just part of his mostly green sweater.

The Steampacket (Rod Stewart, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & Long John Baldry) - Dear Lord Remember Me - Non-Album Tracks (1965-1966)

Have you ever heard of the Steampacket? If you have, then kudos to the depth of your musical knowledge, because few people still remember them. They were a British R&B band that existed for about a year, from 1965 to 1966. The band was made up of vocalists Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, and Brian Auger, supported on instruments by Vic Briggs, Ricky Fenson, and Micky Waller. At the time, the band members were relatively unknown, with Long John Baldry probably being the best known member. But after the band broke up, some of them would go on to much greater fame. Rod Stewart, in particular would become a superstar, but Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger would end up famous as well, especially in Britain, and Long John Baldry maintained a music career for decades. As a result, the band has been called "the world's first musical supergroup," but that's only true with 20/20 hindsight.

The Steampacket was unusual because it consisted of not one, not two, not three, but FOUR lead singers! It was less a band and more like a "musical revue." Some black R&B concert tours in the US at the time had this revue format where a band would back up an alternating series of lead singers in one concert, in order to keep things interesting for the audience. The Steampacket was an attempt to bring this format to Britain. Apparently it worked well in concert. The problem was that the four lead singers were signed to different labels, so it was a legal nightmare to get permission to record an album, or even a single. As a result, the band never did officially release any music while it still existed. Rod Stewart left first in frustration over this problem, in early 1966, followed by Long John Baldry a few months later. Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger stayed together, but by late 1966 they changed their name to "Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity." They had lots of success with that new name from 1967 to 1969.

Unfortunately, it was rare to record concerts in 1965 and 1966, and no such recordings of the band apparently have survived (other than video footage of one song where they were on stage for an encore with some other bands). After Rod Stewart became famous, some official recordings of the Steampacket did come out, usually deceptively presented with Stewart's name in big letters and the Steampacket name a small afterthought. Apparently, these were demos the band made in late 1965. They had plans to tour the US (though I don't think that actually happened), and the demos were made to show concert bookers there the band's talent. Many archival albums appeared from the 1970s onwards, generally consisting of the same bunch of songs repackaged in different ways, with different titles. The ones that happened to be the most widespread only had one or two songs sung by Stewart, and the rest were instrumentals dominated by organist Brian Auger, so they were only a pale shadow of what the band was capable of.

After digging around, I found some more recordings of the band that are much less well known. Most importantly, in 2019, a double album called "The Definitive Steampacket Recordings" came out, but it's only available through Brian Auger's website. It has lots of songs sung by Driscoll, Auger, and/or Baldry. But despite the title, it's not "definitive." It includes some songs that aren't by the Steampacket (but involve Auger from the same time period), and leaves off others that are. I found a whole other batch of songs that were all sung by Stewart. So I've combined those two sources, and mixed them together in order to prevent a long string of Stewart-sung songs. That said, he still sings the majority of the songs here, overall. So if you're a Stewart fan, you should definitely enjoy this. Note that many songs on that "Definitive" album are organ-based instrumentals by Auger. I'm not a fan of that style at all, so I left those off. All the songs here have vocals.

In my opinion, this is the first time one can make a strong case for the Steampacket as the musical revue it was meant to be and not just as a backing band for some early Rod Stewart performances. This is probably as close as we're going to get to the Steampacket studio album that should have been, but never was. 

The vast majority or maybe all of the songs here are covers, usually of American soul music. By the way, note that I've given the song "Baby Take Me" the subtitle "The Real Thing." That's because this song has the exact same melody and arrangement of "The Real Thing" - a song written by Ashford, Simpson and Armstead which was a minor hit for Tina Britt in 1965 - except this version has totally different lyrics and a different title.

Note that I don't think I've ever posted an album at this blog while knowing so little about its contents. All I know for sure is that these songs were recorded by the Steampacket in 1965 or 1966. Were they all part of that demo tape made for the planned US tour, or were there other recording sessions? I have no idea. I'm putting "1966" in the mp3 tags as a guess that this music would have been released in that year, but I could just have easily put "1965." If you have any more info about these songs and when and where they were recorded, please let me know. And if you know of songs I'd missed (other than Auger's instrumentals), please let me know that too.

I do know of some other songs the band recorded that I'm not including here, by the way. I'm referring to two BBC sessions the band did, one in 1965 and one in 1966. Most of the songs on those are different than the songs here. I plan on posting their BBC sessions eventually, despite the fact that it's less than 20 minutes of music. I'd like to save those from obscurity, since they remain unreleased.

This album is 44 minutes long. I've titled it "Dear Lord Remember Me" after one of the song titles, but also as a kind of commentary on how obscure the band is and how their music shouldn't be forgotten.

01 Bright Lights, Big City (Steampacket)
02 Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby (Steampacket)
03 Baby, Baby (Steampacket)
04 Baby Take Me [The Real Thing] (Steampacket)
05 Just Got Some (Steampacket)
06 Can I Get a Witness (Steampacket)
07 Dear Lord Remember Me (Steampacket)
08 Shake (Steampacket)
09 You're a Wonderful One (Steampacket)
10 Baby Don't You Do It [Don't Do It] (Steampacket)
11 In the Midnight Hour (Steampacket)
12 Don't You Tell Nobody (Steampacket)
13 Up Above My Head (Steampacket)
14 Mopper's Blues (Steampacket)
15 Keep Your Hands Off Her (Steampacket)

Given how forgotten this band is, it didn't surprise me to find that very few photos of the band exist, and all of those that do exist are black and white. I took the one I liked the best and colorized it. From left to right, that's Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, and Brian Auger.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Beatles - Live in Stockholm, October 1963

I've mentioned multiple times that the Beatles are my favorite band of all time. Yet I've only posted one Beatles album in the first couple of years of this blog. In part, that's because I still would like to organize things a bit more. And in part it's because there's such a huge mountain of Beatles bootlegs out there that I feel I can have more impact highlighting lesser known bands. But today, in response to a concert I posted of the Doors playing at Stockholm, Sweden, a commenter started discussing a concert the Beatles played in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1963. I realized I have that Beatles concert all ready to be posted, including having the cover art for it, so why not post it? Here it is.

It can be tough listening to any live recordings of the Beatles. Before they became popular, for instance when they played in Hamburg, Germany in the early 1960s, the few recordings that survive were made on primitive recording equipment and sound poor. After they became popular in 1963, they suddenly got so popular that their music is almost always drowned out by hordes of screaming fans. 

This is probably the best live Beatles recording that exists. In 2019, Rolling Stone Magazine published an article listing the ten best Beatles concert recordings, and this one was number one:

Beatles' 10 Best Concerts - Rolling Stone

The concert falls in a sweet spot in that the band was popular enough for them to be properly recorded (in this case, by Swedish National Radio). Yet this was their very first concert outside of Britain after they'd started to become stars, so they weren't so popular yet that their music was overwhelmed by all the screaming. This does have some screaming on it, but only briefly, at the ends of songs. It's especially notable that when the band members talk between songs, the audience is totally silent. I'll bet that if this concert had taken place only a month or two later, there would have been steady screaming through the whole thing.

Another lucky factor is that if you look at the album cover, which is a photo of the exact concert featured here, you can see the audience is very small. I don't know how small because I don't have a photo of the entire place, but I would guess less than a hundred people. I'm sure that helped greatly with the sound quality, and also helped keep the "Beatlemania" in check.

The one problem with this concert is that it's so short. The main concert here, held at the Karlaplansstudion on October 24, 1963, is just 19 minutes long. Only seven songs were played. It so happens that the Beatles gave another short concert in Stockholm one week later, for the Swedish TV show "Drop In." I've added that at the end. Unfortunately, that one is even shorter, at just 10 minutes. A mere four songs were played, and three of them were also played in the other concert. But this other concert has the exact same excellent sound quality, without the usual screaming. So I've decided to include all of it, despite the repetition of some songs. Note that five of the seven songs performed at the  Karlaplansstudion were included on the official album "Anthology 1," but none of the "Drop In" songs were.

The full length of this album with the two shows together is only 29 minutes. But, as Rolling Stone Magazine said, in terms of sound quality, this is probably the best live Beatles recording out there.

01 I Saw Her Standing There (Beatles)
02 talk (Beatles)
03 From Me to You (Beatles)
04 talk (Beatles)
05 Money [That's What I Want] (Beatles)
06 Roll Over Beethoven (Beatles)
07 talk (Beatles)
08 You Really Got a Hold on Me (Beatles)
09 talk (Beatles)
10 She Loves You (Beatles)
11 talk (Beatles)
12 Twist and Shout (Beatles)
13 She Loves You (Beatles)
14 talk (Beatles)
15 Twist and Shout (Beatles)
16 talk (Beatles)
17 I Saw Her Standing There (Beatles)
18 Long Tall Sally (Beatles)

Years ago, I made the cover art for this album. I found an excellent photo of one of two concerts in question (the second, "Drop In" one), and cropped it to focus on the Beatles. The only problem was the photo was in black and white. Today, in preparing to post this, I colorized it.

The Hollies - BBC Sessions, Volume 1: 1964-1965

Next up for BBC material is the Hollies. I don't know why, but it seems like the Hollies got unlucky when it comes to surviving BBC recordings. I found a list of at least 40 sessions the band did for the BBC. Since each session usually meant two or three songs played, that would be well over 100 songs. But it seems the majority of that either was lost or is sitting in a vault somewhere. Only one single album of their BBC material has been officially released, an album called "Radio Fun." That album is woefully inadequate, since I've been able to find three album's worth of material. Here's the first one.

For this album, most of the songs come from that "Radio Fun" album I mentioned. But four of the songs remain officially unreleased. Their sound quality is pretty much the same as the others though. There are some more recordings out there that survive but with really poor sound quality, so I'm not even including those as bonus tracks.

I did include one bonus track here though, "Yes I Will." I considered that one close to being worthy of inclusion, but it fell just short.

The usual problem with BBC recordings is how BBC DJs tended to frequently talk over the starts and ends of songs. For the officially released BBC versions, the songs were faded in and out to remove such talking. Those were the versions I used when I first posted this album. But when I updated it in November 2021, I was able to find unreleased versions that sound just as good, and had the DJ talking. Then I used the audio editing program X-Minus to wipe that talking while keeping the underlying music. The ones I edited like that have "[Edit]" in their titles.

Most of the songs here that have survived are different performances of songs the band put on record. But occasionally they did some exclusive material for the BBC. The only song here I'm sure they didn't put out on record is "Ride Your Pony," but there could be others. If anyone knows, please let me know and I'll update this text.

This album is 51 minutes long.

UPDATE: On November 27, 2021, I updated the mp3 download file. In addition to fixing the BBC DJ talking problem mentioned above, I added "Mickey's Monkey," which I'd somehow previously missed.  I also found a much better sounding version of "Yes I Will," so I was able to remove that as a bonus track and add it with the other songs. Finally, I found a different version of "You Must Believe Me," so I added that as a bonus track. It sounds as good as the others, but I just dislike having two versions of the same song on the same album.

01 Here I Go Again (Hollies)
02 Set Me Free [Edit] (Hollies)
03 Something's Got a Hold of Me (Hollies)
04 We're Through [Edit] (Hollies)
05 Nobody (Hollies)
06 She Said Yeah (Hollies)
07 Yes I Will (Hollies)
08 You Must Believe Me [Edit] (Hollies)
09 Mickey's Monkey [Edit] (Hollies)
10 I'm Alive (Hollies)
11 You Know He Did [Edit] (Hollies)
12 Stay (Hollies)
13 Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Hollies)
14 Look through Any Window (Hollies)
15 Put Yourself in My Place (Hollies)
16 Ride Your Pony (Hollies)
17 Too Many People (Hollies)
18 So Lonely [Edit] (Hollies)
19 If I Needed Someone (Hollies)
20 I've Got a Way of My Own (Hollies)
21 A Taste of Honey (Hollies)

You Must Believe Me (Hollies)

The promo photo used for the cover art is from 1964.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

John Denver - His Guitar and His Music: The Apollo Theatre, London, Britain, 10-26-1982

If you've been following this blog, you may have noticed I've been putting an emphasis on posting BBC material recently. This is a BBC performance too, though less obviously so than the radio session type of recording. As I've mentioned previously, I'm not a huge John Denver fan. Most of his songs don't cut the mustard for me, but he's written some true classics too. One issue I have with him is production. In my opinion, his music tended to be overproduced, especially with the use of strings, whereas I think he shines best in the solo acoustic format. So I went looking for the best solo acoustic concert he did, and came up with this bootleg. It contains pretty much all of his big hits, some nice covers, and some choice lesser known songs. If you're like me and enjoy the solo acoustic format, I suspect this is the best live recording of him out there.

Unfortunately, Denver didn't perform concerts in the solo acoustic format very much. As far as I could tell, he did shows in that format prior to hitting it big in 1971, probably because he didn't have the money to pay for a band. Then he tended to play with a band all the time, sometimes with an orchestra, except for some semi-acoustic concerts in the late 1990s. One exception I found to this is a series of solo acoustic shows he did in 1982. Unfortunately, none of them were recorded for a live album. 

But he did one of the shows in Britain which was recorded by the BBC and played as a TV special there with the name "His Guitar and His Music." I didn't find any audio bootlegs of this concert, just the video footage. So I converted the video to audio and broke it up into mp3 tracks. The sound quality is great, as it usually is with BBC recordings. This sounds just as good as you'd expect from an official live album, with no flaws.

Denver was a chatty performer. He liked to tell interesting and often humorous anecdotes between songs. This concert has plenty of that. The total length of the concert is an hour and 32 minutes. Twenty minutes of that consists of banter between songs.

01 Rocky Mountain High (John Denver)
02 Sunshine on My Shoulders (John Denver)
03 talk (John Denver)
04 Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio (John Denver)
05 talk (John Denver)
06 It's a Sin to Tell a Lie (John Denver)
07 talk (John Denver)
08 The Bells of Rhymney (John Denver)
09 talk (John Denver)
10 Durango Mountain Caballero (John Denver)
11 talk (John Denver)
12 The Thought of You (John Denver)
13 talk (John Denver)
14 Rhymes and Reasons (John Denver)
15 talk (John Denver)
16 The Eagle and the Hawk (John Denver)
17 Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver)
18 Grandma's Feather Bed (John Denver)
19 talk (John Denver)
20 Seasons of the Heart (John Denver)
21 talk (John Denver)
22 The Ambulance Down in the Valley (John Denver)
23 Jimmy Newman (John Denver)
24 The Peace Poem (John Denver)
25 Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream (John Denver)
26 talk (John Denver)
27 I Want to Live (John Denver)
28 talk (John Denver)
29 Heart to Heart (John Denver)
30 Annie's Song (John Denver)
31 Calypso (John Denver)
32 talk (John Denver)
33 Perhaps Love (John Denver)
34 talk (John Denver)
35 This Old Guitar (John Denver)

I could have used a screenshot from the video of this concert for the cover art. But the video wasn't that sharp. So instead I chose a photo of him in concert in Chicago in 1982.

The Doors - Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden, 9-20-1968

Although I've been doing this blog for over two years, there are some major artists I like that I haven't touched or have only barely touched yet (with the Beatles being a prime example). One important band I've avoided so far is the Doors. I plan on posting stray tracks albums and some other things from them at a different time, but for now here's a great concert they did.

Some musical artists have officially released almost no archival live material, and others have released tons. The Doors fall into the latter camp. There are about 20 officially released live albums, most of them full concerts. There's even a official compilation called "Boot Yer Butt" that scrapes the bottom of the barrel with selections from rough sounding audience bootlegs. So you'd think that all the best live material has been released already. But you'd be wrong. Strangely, some of the very best sounding live recordings haven't been touched.

This is the prime example. (Though there's at least one other I know of, a PBS show from 1969 that I'll probably post at a different time.) The Doors played two concerts in Stockholm on the same day in 1968. Complete versions of both shows have been bootlegged, in pristine soundboard quality. I believe this is because the shows were recorded for a Swedish radio show.  (I've posted some other concerts from this same show, by the likes of Traffic, the Move, Wilson Pickett, and the Hollies.) In terms of sound quality, these Stockholm shows are better than many of the officially released live Doors albums. The band's performance is very good as well. I have no idea why those other shows have been released and these have not. 

The early and late shows featured many of the same songs. I generally don't like posting the same songs on one album. So I've combined the two shows. I'm including the entire late show, plus the few songs from the early show that are different. There are four songs from the early show: "Love Street," "A Little Game," "The Hill Dwellers," and "The Unknown Soldier." (The second and third songs are sections of the larger opus "The Celebration of the Lizard.") Both shows started with "Five to One." So I put the "Five to One" from the late show first, then the four songs from the early show, then the rest of the late show. The result sounds like one continuous concert that last an hour and 23 minutes.

I made a few other edits. The concert starts with an MC introducing the Doors. After he yelled the Doors' name, there was total silence on the recording. I'm sure it wasn't that way in real life! The problem is that the early show recording is such a pristine soundboard that there's almost no audience noise whatsoever. So I grabbed some cheering from the late show and added that in as a cheer in response to the MC introduction. (I would have preferred to use the MC introduction from the late show with the crowd noise, but that didn't get bootlegged, it seems.) I also added in cheering at the ends of the early show songs when appropriate, again using cheering from late show songs. It would have sounded really weird to have those songs end with total silence.

There's almost no between song banter. I suspect that lead singer Jim Morrison did talk some, because he usually did, but that also didn't get bootlegged for whatever reason. (Perhaps the radio show only wanted to play the songs on the radio and not the banter.) One exception is right before the last song, "The End." In that case, there was too much talking, in my opinion. Morrison asked for some adjustments to the lighting, and there was a minute of back and forth about lighting issues. I found that boring, so I cut it way down. 

After my editing, what you get is the ideal version of this music, with every song played but no duplicates. Of course, if you want the full versions of both the early and late shows, one can easily find that on the Internet. In my opinion, this may well be the best Doors concert recording from 1968, if you take into account both performance and sound quality. (The vast majority of the official live albums are from 1969 and 1970.) That makes it even more baffling to me that this concert hasn't been officially released. Thank our lucky stars for bootlegs. :)

01 talk (Doors)
02 Five to One (Doors)
03 Love Street (Doors)
04 A Little Game (Doors)
05 The Hill Dwellers (Doors)
06 The Unknown Soldier (Doors)
07 Mack the Knife - Alabama Song [Whisky Bar] (Doors)
08 Back Door Man (Doors)
09 You're Lost Little Girl (Doors)
10 Love Me Two Times (Doors)
11 When the Music's Over (Doors)
12 Wild Child (Doors)
13 Money [That's What I Want] (Doors)
14 Wake Up (Doors)
15 Light My Fire (Doors)
16 talk (Doors)
17 The End (Doors)

I couldn't find any photos from this exact concert for the album cover. However, I did find one from the band playing in Copenhagen, Denmark, just two days earlier, so I used that one. The photo has an unusual perspective of looking down at the band from above. So when it came to adding some text, I tried to make it look as if the text was physically there in the room by matching the same perspective.

Monday, March 15, 2021

The Small Faces - BBC Sessions, Volume 2 (1968)

I just posted the first Small Faces BBC sessions album. While I'm at it, here's the second and last one.

For the first album, most of the songs were officially released on a BBC compilation for the band. But for this one, only three songs come from that. (By the way, two of those songs, "If I Were a Carpenter" and "Every Little Bit Hurts," were also put on my "1862" compilation album, because these BBC performances were the best versions of those songs available.)

The big difference is band's appearance on a TV show called "Colour Me Pop." This was a short-lived BBC show in 1968 where a popular band would get an entire show (of half an hour) to play unique versions of their songs for the TV cameras. Most of the footage on various bands on the show has been lost, and even most audio recordings of it have been lost, but luckily in the case of the Small Faces their footage survives. You can watch it on YouTube. The band's lead singer Steve Marriott shows so much energy and charisma that it's tiring just to watch him!

Anyway, the band had just put out their 1968 album "Odgen's Nut Gone Flake." Half of that album is a "rock opera" about a person named Happiness Stan, while the other half consists of conventional, unrelated songs. The rock opera half has spoken word sections between the songs narrated by a comic performer named Stanely Unwin who had a very strange semi-nonsensical way of speaking he called "Unwinese." For their "Colour Me Pop" show, the band decided to play their entire rock opera. They even got Unwin to do his talking bits for the camera. If you're not familiar with this, be warned that it can be very hard to understand what he's saying, but that's kind of the point.

You may have noticed that the previous volume deals with the years 1965 and 1966, and this volume deals with the year 1968. I find it rather odd that there were no BBC sessions from 1967, even though the band had three big hit singles in Britain that year: "Here Come the Nice," "Itchycoo Park," and "Tin Soldier." I also couldn't find any good recordings of them doing other TV or radio shows. My theory is that the band's psychedelic sound was hard to reproduce on stage, so they generally resorted to lip-synching when promoting their singles. Luckily, I did find a version of "Itchycoo Park" performed on a French TV show in 1968. Only the vocals were done live. That's understandable given the studio tricks on the recorded version, especially the phased drumming.

I've included four bonus tracks. "(If You Think You're) Groovy" is from that same French TV show, and again only the vocals were done live. The reason it's only a bonus track is because the lead singer was P. P. Arnold. She was a soul singer based in Britain. For a while, she was linked to the Small Faces, often singing backing vocals on their songs. This song was written by the Small Faces for her. On both the recorded version and this French TV show version, the band played all instruments and sang backing vocals. So I figure it's Small Faces related enough to merit inclusion at least as a bonus track, despite the fact that it's more of a P. P. Arnold performance.

The three remaining bonus tracks aren't from the BBC, or any other radio or TV show, for that matter. It's just that I think they're really cool and I don't have a better place to put them in my music collection, so I've stuck them here. All three are alternate versions of Small Faces songs that are done in a solo acoustic style. Two are mixes with everything but the vocals and acoustic guitar removed. The other one, "The Autumn Stone," is an alternate take. That take was just made public a few weeks prior to my posting of this album, as a free CD that came with an issue of Mojo Magazine. It's meant to be a teaser for an expanded version of "The Autumn Stone" album that's in the works.

This album is 34 minutes long, not including the bonus tracks. If you do include them, it's 45 minutes long.

01 Itchycoo Park [Live Vocals Only] (Small Faces)
02 If I Were a Carpenter [Edit] (Small Faces)
03 Lazy Sunday (Small Faces)
04 Every Little Bit Hurts [Edit] (Small Faces)
05 Song of a Baker (Small Faces)
06 talk (Small Faces)
07 Happiness Stan (Small Faces)
08 talk (Small Faces)
09 Rollin' Over (Small Faces)
10 talk (Small Faces)
11 The Hungry Intruder (Small Faces)
12 talk (Small Faces)
13 The Journey (Small Faces)
14 talk (Small Faces)
15 Mad John (Small Faces)
16 talk (Small Faces)
17 Happy Days Toy Town (Small Faces)
18 talk (Small Faces)
19 Happy Days Toy Town [Reprise] (Small Faces)

[If You Think You're] Groovy [Live Vocals Only] (P. P. Arnold & the Small Faces)
Red Balloon [Stripped Down Mix] (Small Faces)
Show Me the Way [Stripped Down Mix] (Small Faces)
The Autumn Stone [Jenny's Song] [Take 1] (Small Faces)

The cover art is a screenshot from the "Colour in Pop" TV show.

The Small Faces - BBC Sessions, Volume 1 (1965-1966)

I posted all the Small Faces stray tracks material I've got. Now I want to post a couple of BBC albums. Here's the first one.

The Small Faces are a band that does have an officially released BBC album, called "The BBC Sessions." It's a fine album, except for two things. As is usual for some albums, it includes songs where the BBC DJ talks over the intros to songs. But also, it missed a lot of material. For this album, I have very little to complain about. There's only one song that that album missed. But for the second BBC album, most of it is unreleased (and actual BBC material).

Re: the talking BBC DJs problem, as I usually do, I edited the talking out by using the X-Minus audio editing program to wipe out the talking and keep the underlying music. Only three out of the 13 songs here had that problem; those are marked with "[Edit]."

Since all but one song is officially released, the sound quality is excellent. That one exception is "You Really Got a Hold on Me." The sound quality is a bit rougher for that one, but still acceptable. Also, one song here, "Jump Back," is also on the stray tracks album "Grow Your Own," because the only recording the band did of it is from one of their BBC sessions.

This album is only 35 minutes long. It seems the band didn't perform for the BBC much, or at least not many of the recordings of their BBC sessions survived.

01 Whatcha Gonna Do about It (Small Faces)
02 Jump Back (Small Faces)
03 Baby Don't You Do It [Don't Do It] (Small Faces)
04 You Really Got a Hold on Me (Small Faces)
05 Shake [Edit] (Small Faces)
06 Sha-La-La-La-Lee (Small Faces)
07 You Need Love [You Need Loving] [Edit] (Small Faces)
08 Hey Girl (Small Faces)
09 E Too D (Small Faces)
10 One Night Stand (Small Faces)
11 You Better Believe It [Edit] (Small Faces)
12 Understanding (Small Faces)
13 All or Nothing (Small Faces)

The cover art photo comes from an appearance on the "Two of a Kind" TV show in 1967.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sam Phillips - These Boots Are Made for Walkin' - Non-Album Tracks (1992-1998)

I'm a really big fan of Sam Phillips, especially her poppy phase with the albums "The Indescribable Wow" (1998), "Cruel Inventions" (1992), and "Martinis and Bikinis" (1994). In particular, I consider "Martinis and Bikinis" a five-star album and a must have for anyone into Beatlesque pop. This album is a stray tracks collection that largely overlaps with that period. I suggest you get those three albums first, if you don't have them already. Then try this if you want more in that same vein.

I'm especially pleased to share the song "Fantasy Is Reality-Bells of Madness." I got this from my musical friend Lil Panda. It's an unreleased song cowritten by Phillips and the legendary Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. A version of the song came out on Rob Wasserman's 1998 album "Trios," performed by Wasserman, Brian Wilson, and Wilson's daughter Carrie. But this is a different version, sung mainly by Phillips with some very Beach Boys-eqsue backing by Brian Wilson.

This isn't one of my typical stray tracks albums, because a bunch of the songs come from one of Phillips' studio albums. After the three great albums I mentioned above, she put out the album "Omnipop (It's Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop)" in 1996. As you can tell from the album title alone, it's a strange, experimental album. I suspect she got bored of her poppy style and wanted to try something new. After that album, she would wait five years then release an album in a different and much more subdued style, 2001's "Fan Dance." She's kept to that style ever since. Anyway, I consider "Omnipop" to be very hit or miss. So I've put only the ones I like on this album.

The last two songs are from "Zero Zero Zero," a kind of best of from her poppy period, before saying goodbye to that and having her change of musical direction. 

I believe all the songs are originals except for "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" and "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." The latter is unreleased and sounds a little bit rougher than the rest, but only marginally so.

01 It's Not Too Late (Sam Phillips)
02 Fantasy Is Reality-Bells of Madness (Sam Phillips with Brian Wilson)
03 You Lost My Mind (Sam Phillips)
04 These Boots Are Made for Walkin' (Sam Phillips)
05 My Heart Belongs to Daddy (Sam Phillips)
06 Entertainmen (Sam Phillips)
07 Animals on Wheels (Sam Phillips)
08 Zero Zero Zero (Sam Phillips)
09 Power World (Sam Phillips)
10 Faster Pussycat to the Library (Sam Phillips)
11 Slapstick Heart (Sam Phillips)
12 Disappearing Act (Sam Phillips)
13 Holding On to the Earth [New Version] (Sam Phillips)

I'm not sure where I got the cover art photo from. But it appears to be from the right time period.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Animals - Radiohuset, Stockholm, Sweden, 1-18-1968

As I get older, the issue of sound quality becomes more important to me. Life's too short, and there's too much good music out there, to listen to a murky bootleg, unless there's something extraordinary about it. When it comes to the Animals in the 1960s, it's amazing to me that there's virtually no worthy sounding concert recording of them... except for this one, which sounds great. This comes pretty late in the day, in the last year of the band's existence, and it's fairly short, at 39 minutes. But the key thing is the sound quality is excellent, as good as an officially released live album from the 1960s, and the performance is spot on as well. So here you are.

(By the way, there is one soundboard concert bootleg of the band in Italy in 1967, but it's so badly mixed, with the voice way too loud compared to the rest, that it doesn't pass muster for me. And there's an official album of the band in concert from 1963, but most of that has them backing up blues legend Sonny Boy Williamson, so I don't count that one. There also is a great recording of them playing at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, but that's only four songs long, not enough for an album.)

In this last week, I posted four albums of the Animals playing at the BBC. There's a lot of overlap between the songs on that and the songs here. But with this, the band gets to stretch out more than they typically did at the BBC, and you get banter between songs.

01 talk (Animals)
02 I'm So Excited (Animals)
03 It's My Life Baby (Animals)
04 Tobacco Road (Animals)
05 talk (Animals)
06 Yes I Am Experienced (Animals)
07 talk (Animals)
08 San Franciscan Nights (Animals)
09 talk (Animals)
10 Monterey (Animals)
11 talk (Animals)
12 Paint It, Black (Animals)

It looks like the album cover photo was taken from a TV show appearance in 1967 or later, judging by the clothes and the decor, but I don't know the details.