Sunday, October 31, 2021

Pink Floyd - Live in Europe 1968

1968 was a transitional year for Pink Floyd. They'd had great success in 1967, but most of that was due to their lead singer and chief songwriter Syd Barrett, who flamed out and left the band near the end of the year. The other band members had to stand on their own, with guitarist David Gilmour taking Barrett's place.

In terms of live music, Pink Floyd put on almost 150 concerts in 1968, but there's not much in the way of quality live recordings, officially released or not. What I've done is gather together the few songs that were recorded with top notch sound quality and cobble together a live album for the year. By chance, all the songs here were recorded on the European continent, even though most of the shows the band did that year were in Britain or the US, so I've called this album "Live in Europe 1968."

The first three songs, which make up the bulk of the music, comes from the bootleg of a performance at an international rock festival in Rome, Italy, in May 1968. It seems some songs from different bands playing at this concert were broadcast in excellent sound quality on the radio at the time. There's a similarly excellent sounding recording of the Byrds from one day later that also was played on the radio. But unfortunately, only some of the songs were broadcast, and the others apparently have been lost. It's known the band played "Pow R. Toc H." and "Remember a Day" as well, probably more, but there are no known good recordings of them.

The sound quality for the unreleased "Keep Smiling People" is merely good, not great like the others here. But I figured it was worth including because it's an instrumental, so the relatively poor sound quality isn't as obvious without vocals. Also, although you can clearly hear it introduced as "Keep Smiling People," it would evolve into "Careful with that Axe, Eugene," so I figure this early, different version needs more attention. (Other early versions of the song gave it the name "Murderotic Woman.")

The songs are arranged in chronological order. The last two songs are the only ones officially released, but they only came out as DVD extras to "The Early Years 1965-1972" box set. There are a bunch of other "live" songs from 1968 on that box set, but it turns out they're generally lip-synced performances, and only included on the DVD for their visual value.

Now, I need to explain about the editing. The songs generally sound great here, with the exception of the vocals. For the songs with vocals, other than "Flaming," the instruments came through just fine, but the vocals were too low. So I used the sound editing programs Spleeter and X-Minus to boost the vocals where I could. That worked on parts of songs where there was enough vocals heard to get amplified. But for parts of "Astronomy Domine" and "Let There Be More Light," I could barely hear anything at all. So I used BBC versions of these songs, also from 1968, to help. I stripped the vocals from those versions and patched them into these versions where help was needed. It worked because the pitches were the same, and I tweaked the tempos to make them fit, sometimes having to make minor adjustments line by line.

However, I ran into unexpected problems with "Let There Be More Light." Typical versions, including the studio recording, have three verses, with different chorus lyrics following each one. But this version had four. I found out it wasn't simply a matter of repeating one. Instead, the lyrics were all jumbled up. The first verse and chorus was the same as the studio version, but beyond that, different verses were followed by different choruses without any apparent order. I'm guessing it probably was whatever they managed to remember right at that moment. So it took more work to figure out which lyrics went where, and then patching in the clearer version where it was needed. In the end, most of the vocals on this song are actually a mix of the boosted vocals from the same version as the instruments with more patched in vocals from the BBC version. I figured I could get away with that because there already were two vocalists singing at once, so things didn't have to match exactly.

It probably sounds weird with a written explanation, but try listening to it. I hope and assume it will sound perfectly fine, with much clearer vocals than the version you'll find on the box set DVD.

The irony is that there's a different version of "Let There Be More Light" with much better vocals on that DVD that I could have used instead, if I would have known in advance how much work this would take. That's from the same TV show performance as "Flaming" here. But that version is only four minutes long, and the version I chose is seven minutes long. I wanted the extra minutes of jamming. 

One more thing. The songs here generally lacked audience applause at the end. For instance, the three songs recorded in Rome had only maybe two seconds of clapping at the end before getting cut off. So, for songs like that, I pasted in the sound of cheering taken from other concerts to give the songs their natural live conclusions.

The bottom line is, there are lots of excellent live recordings of Pink Floyd from 1969 and later (the live half of the double album "Ummagumma" was recorded in May and June of 1969), but really no good live album from 1967 or 1968. This hopefully will set a new standard of sound quality for 1968. For 1967, I've taken the Stockholm concert included on "The Early Years" box set that has an excellent recording of the instrumentation but almost no vocals to be heard, and used the same technique I used here to add in the vocals from studio versions. I'll post that soon.

Also, I mentioned it in a different post, but I'll repeat it here: I just reuploaded all the Pink Floyd albums I've posted here so far. In a couple of cases I've changed the songs on it, most especially the "See Emily Play" stray tracks album. But I also fixed the volume balance between songs. It turns out those were wildly off, with some songs twice as loud as ones next to it. So if you're a big Pink Floyd fan, you might want to redownload those.

By the way, Pink Floyd played four songs for the French TV show "Bouton Rouge" in early 1968. I considered including them here, but since that was done in a studio with no audience present, I decided those weren't really live versions. They're more like the BBC versions, also done live but in a studio with no audience. So I added those to the album "BBC Sessions, Volume 2."

01 Astronomy Domine [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
02 Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
03 Interstellar Overdrive [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
04 talk (Pink Floyd)
05 Keep Smiling People [Early Version of Careful with That Axe, Eugene] (Pink Floyd)
06 Flaming (Pink Floyd)
07 talk (Pink Floyd)
08 Let There Be More Light [Edit] (Pink Floyd)

For the album cover, I used a screenshot taken of the TV performance of "Flaming," included here. It's not the greatest quality, but it is in color and it features all four members of the band. I had a really hard time finding any other concert photo from 1968 with all of them in it.

Pink Floyd - The Committee Soundtrack (1968)

Even if you're a die-hard Pink Floyd, chances are you've never heard of their songs from the 1968 movie "The Committee." Two of the songs made it onto "The Early Years 1965-1972" box set, but that's about it. There are several reasons for this. For one, apparently it's a pretty bad movie, with a length slightly under an hour, so few people have ever seen it. Secondly, all the Pink Floyd songs are mood setting incidental instrumentals, the kind one usually hears in movies, so it's far from their most interesting stuff. 

But worst of all is the fact that the only known versions of the songs come from the movie itself, complete with the actors talking all over the songs. Even the two songs included on the box set have some talking over them, though those were probably chosen because they don't have much compared to the others. 

Then, on top of all that, the Pink Floyd songs added together only make up about 15 minutes worth of music. Apparently, back in 1968, the band considered putting this music on record, but decided against it because they thought only 15 minutes would be a rip off for an album. (Plus, they probably realized it wasn't their best.)

So, long story short, this is for die-hard Pink Floyd fans only. But at least the worst problem of all the talking over the music can be eliminated, so one can actually properly enjoy the music for the first time. Early today, I posted a couple of Pink Floyd songs from 1967 where I was able to remove a BBC narrator talking over the music, due to two sound editing programs I use, Spleeter and X-Minus. I realized if I could do that for them, I could do the same thing here, so I did.

I'm glad to say the program worked quite well. Most of these songs had actors talking over them pretty much non-stop, from start to finish. I was able to remove all that, so you don't hear a word. There is some sound degradation here and there, but it's like night and day compared to trying to listen to the music with the talking on top. What's revealed is mainly a lot of noodling around on the organ by Rick Wright. David Gilmour had joined the band as lead guitarist shortly before this was recorded, but you don't hear any blistering solos from him. However, this does make for good mood setting background music.

Since The Committee songs only add up to 15 minutes, I'd added a version of "Interstellar Overdrive" to the end. This appeared in another 1968 movie, called "San Francisco." However, it actually was recorded in late 1966. As such, it's a pivotal recording by the band. It's probably the first thing they ever properly recorded with the name "Pink Floyd," the first showing they'd changed from a blues band to a psychedelic one. Since it's about 15 minutes long, it makes the whole album about 30 minutes long. That's still short, but at least it's plausible for an album. Because it's instrumental, I think it continues roughly the same mood set from the earlier songs.

By the way, I don't think any of "The Committee" songs have actual names. For the two songs on the box set, they were just called "Music from The Committee No. 1" and "Music from The Committee No.2." I've ignored those names, since they're confusing with the numbering of all the songs, in the order they appeared in the movie. (In this numbering system, "Music from The Committee No. 1" is "Part 2" and "Music from The Committee No.2" is "Part 8."

However, I wasn't happy with just "Part 1" and "Part 2" and so forth. I had a hard time keeping track. So I took it upon myself to give them all different subtitles, at least. For those, I generally used words from the first line or two of the actors' dialogue spoken over the music (now deleted, of course). Parts 1, 2 and 9 are exceptions. "Part 1" is simply "Part 9" played backwards. Both versions didn't have any talking over them. And "Part 2" also didn't have any talking over it, but it did have the sound of birds chirping near the front, as well as some laughing near the end (I removed the laughing). So I called it "Birds Chirping."

"Part 2" and "Part 8" are clearly the same music idea, what one probably would call the theme song for the movie. "Part 7" is said to be an early version of "Careful with that Axe, Eugene," though it doesn't sound that similar to me.

01 The Committee, Part 1 [Backwards] [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
02 The Committee, Part 2 [Birds Chirping] [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
03 The Committee, Part 3 [Sound like a Snob] [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
04 The Committee, Part 4 [In the Womb] [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
05 The Committee, Part 5 [Suffocating] [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
06 The Committee, Part 6 [Access to Knowledge] [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
07 The Committee, Part 7 [The Fakery] [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
08 The Committee, Part 8 [Do You Play Bridge] [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
09 The Committee, Part 9 [Not Backwards] [Instrumental] [Edit] (Pink Floyd)
10 Interstellar Overdrive [1966 Version] (Pink Floyd)

The cover is based on a poster for the movie. I cropped it from a rectangular shape and added "Pink Floyd" at the top. I believe this is from a later rerelease of the movie that makes it look much more interesting than it is. From what I understand, nearly all of the movie is just of people in a room talking about some pseudo-intellectual BS.

Pink Floyd - Tomorrow's World (Song Edit) (1967)

Early Pink Floyd has some recordings that are marred in significant ways. Some songs have vocals that can't be heard due to poor recording techniques. Others are marred by narration talking all over the music. Thanks to my recent discovery of the sound editing programs Spleeter and X-Minus, I'm working on fixing many of these problems.

The two songs here are a good example of what I mean. In 1967, some Pink Floyd instrumental music was used in the background of a BBC science documentary called "Tomorrow's World." One original instrumental doesn't have a known name, so I'm calling it "Tomorrow's World." The other is a cover of the classic soul instrumental "Green Onions." The problem with both of these is the BBC narrator talked all over the music. "Tomorrow's World" wasn't so bad, with the narrator just talking in a few places, but "Green Onions" was basically ruined, with talking over the vast majority of it.

To show you what I mean, I'm including a screenshot of "Green Onions" from the sound editing program Audacity. I took the screenshot after I split the vocals from the music using the X-Minus program. I don't think you need to know much about sound editing to understand the picture. The top half shows the two stereo channels of just the music. The lower half shows the two stereo channels of just the BBC narrator talking. As you can see, not only did the guy talk over all but a few short snippets of the song, but the music volume was turned way down so you could barely hear anything behind his voice!

Given all that, I think it's pretty remarkable what I was able to do, thanks to the X-Minus program in this case. It does a great job of separating the vocals from the music. (Better than Spleeter, in fact, at that task, though Spleeter does other things better too.) So once I had the vocals removed, then I had to carefully boost the volume of the quiet parts to match the loud parts. This took dozens of minor volume changes, for both songs, until I had the volume level more or less the same across the two songs.

The end result sounds much better on "Tomorrow's World," I think. For one thing, the amount of narration wasn't as bad on that song. But also, it's a really nice original instrumental. Whereas with "Green Onions," you can hear more of the sound degradation due the narration. But also, it's not that captivating of a cover version. For instance, you don't really get soloing. However, we don't have many recordings of Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett on lead guitar, so both songs are worth hearing for that alone.

If you want to hear these edits, I've updated the Pink Floyd "BBC Sessions, Volume 2" album and put these versions of that (since the documentary was for the BBC).

The link to that album is here:

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Neil Young - After the Gold Rush - Acoustic Version (1970)

In the past couple of weeks, I've posted acoustic versions of Neil Young's earliest solo albums. Here's the next in that series, tackling his classic 1970 album "After the Gold Rush."

To reiterate what I'm doing here, I've done my best to find solo acoustic versions of each song on the album, and I've repeated the exact song order of the album. (I've also added four songs at the end that weren't on the album, but date from roughly the same time period.) In most cases, I was able to find live versions done in the solo acoustic format. They're either from officially released live albums, or from pristine soundboard bootlegs. 

Either way, I've stripped the songs of audience noise, hopefully making them sound like studio tracks. For some of those, you'll see "[Edit]" in the titles. That's generally because there was a lot of cheering when the song began, and/or when the singing began. In such cases, I was able to find repetitions of the intro chords to get the cheering to go away. With "Southern Man," the first line or two was covered in audience response, but luckily that verse was repeated later in the song, so I was able to patch that in.

The trickier part comes with songs where there's no good live or studio acoustic versions. There are four such songs on this album: "Till the Morning Comes," "When You Dance I Can Really Love," "I Believe in You," and "Cripple Creek Ferry." For those, I had to resort to editing tricks I've learned using the programs Spleeter and X-Minus. X-Minus is particularly good at removing backing vocals, so that's what I used it for here. Spleeter is good at removing the bass and drums, so I used that here too. 

I had to do a lot of finesse work getting those four songs in a listenable state. For instance, I might boost the volume of a word or two that didn't come through loudly enough, due to the program taking the backing vocals away taking some of the lead vocals too. Or I'd patch a line that didn't come through well with that same line repeated elsewhere in the song where it came through better.

The most difficult song, by far, was "When You Dance I Can Really Love." This is a full-on electric song, in contrast to all the other songs on the album, and these programs can only do so much in transforming such songs. To make matters worse, there's heavy backing vocals on all the vocals of the song, which again doesn't match how the other songs on the album are done. X-Minus wasn't able to take all those backing vocals away. So I found a live version where Young did sing solo, and used that to patch in the vocals sometimes. Even then, the last line of each chorus didn't work well, so I kept the backing vocals there.

These albums are an experiment to see how viable making decent sounding all acoustic versions of albums can be. Also, I'm curious to see if people enjoy this sort of thing or not. I plan on making one more, 1972's "Harvest," since that's such a great (and mostly acoustic) album, but I'm not sure beyond that. So please let me know what you think, especially of the songs where I had to resort to some editing tricks.

The original album is 35 minutes long. This acoustic version of just the album songs is 31 minutes long. But since I added four songs at the end, the total is 42 minutes long.

01 Tell Me Why [Edit] (Neil Young)
02 After the Gold Rush (Neil Young)
03 Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young)
04 Southern Man [Edit] (Neil Young)
05 Till the Morning Comes [Edit] (Neil Young)
06 Oh Lonesome Me (Neil Young)
07 Don't Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young)
08 Birds (Neil Young)
09 When You Dance I Can Really Love [Edit] (Neil Young)
10 I Believe in You [Edit] (Neil Young)
11 Cripple Creek Ferry [Edit] (Neil Young)
12 It Might Have Been [Edit] (Neil Young)
13 Bad Fog of Loneliness (Neil Young)
14 Ohio [Edit] (Neil Young)
15 See the Sky about to Rain (Neil Young)

The official album cover uses a photo of Neil Young passing an old woman on a sidewalk in Greenwich Village in New York City in 1970. Young had the photo "solarized" for the cover, which was kind of an inversion, turning his face black. I've used the undoctored version. Also, Graham Nash was in the original photo, but got cropped out of it (since it wasn't his solo album, after all). I've cropped things to remove some of the space on the left of Young, but managed to keep Nash on the edge of the frame on the right side.

Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue - Night of the Hurricane: Madison Square Garden, New York City, 12-8-1975

In 1975 and 1976, Bob Dylan put on a concert tour called "the Rolling Thunder Revue." It's something he's never done before or since, because instead of putting on regular concerts with himself as the main musician and one or more opening musicians, this was more like a traveling road show. Yes, Dylan was the main star, but he shared the spotlight with other big stars too, as well as lesser knowns.

There have been two official releases related to the Rolling Thunder Revue: "The Bootleg Series, Volume 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975: The Rolling Thunder Revue," and "The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings." The first one contains selected songs from various concerts, and the second one contains no less than five complete Dylan sets from the tour, as well as rehearsals, and more. Yet all of these releases ignore the other musicians who played with Dylan (except for the duets he did with Joan Baez). I've always wanted to hear a complete show from this tour, with Dylan AND all the other musicians.

Here it is, in all three hours and 50 minutes of it! 

If you want to hear just one full Rolling Thunder Revue concert, this is the one, for several reasons. For starters, this concert had a special purpose, to help free professional boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter from prison. Dylan (and many others) felt Carter was unjustly imprisoned, so he wrote a song about it, "Hurricane," which would be included on his 1976 album "Desire." I don't want to go into the full story, but if you want to know more, I suggest watching the 1999 movie "The Hurricane" starring Denzel Washington. Although the concert was still part of the tour, it was given the special name "Night of the Hurricane." Many famous people attended it, and there was a lot of press about it, helped by the fact that it was held in New York City.

Given all that, it's a lucky break that there's a soundboard bootleg of this entire concert with fantastic sound quality. This sounds just as good as any of the officially released material from the tour. Also, it's from a sweet spot in the tour where the musicians had found their groove but hadn't grown bored or fatigued (as would happen with many of the 1976 shows on the tour). 

Furthermore, many of the musicians here played for all or most of the tour, like Roger McGuinn and Joan Baez. But this concert gets an extra lift with the special guests Joni Mitchell and Roberta Flack. Mitchell did play on some other shows during the tour, but this is as good as it gets in terms of sound quality for her set. And this was the only show with Roberta Flack. Also, Robbie Robertson from the Band played guitar on "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" and possibly a couple other Dylan songs.

Another special guest was boxing legend Muhammad Ali. During the show's intermission, Ali came out on stage and gave a speech about the point of the show, raising public awareness and pressure to release Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter from prison. During this speech, Ali spoke on the phone to Carter from his prison cell. Some other lesser knowns spoke as well, including some politicians. All in all, this segment took up half an hour. It's fine to listen to it once, but I don't think it stands up to repeat listenings. So I've brutally edited than half an hour down to just five minutes, focusing on Ali's phone call with Carter. 

A lot of the what is cut out is unnecessary fluff. For instance, Ali got sidetracked and spent a few minutes praising a politician friend of his, who he claimed was going to run for president. (I looked it up, and that person did run for many offices, but never won anything.) Later on it the concert, Dylan, with his great sarcastic wit, makes a reference to this by introducing another musician and commenting that person is NOT running for president.

At nearly four hours, this is probably the longest album I've posted on my blog so far.

01 Good Love Is Hard to Find (Bob Neuwirth)
02 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
03 Sleazy (Bob Neuwirth)
04 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
05 Hula Hoop (T-Bone Burnett)
06 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
07 Too Good to Be Wasted (Rob Stoner)
08 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
09 Laissez Faire (Steven Soles)
10 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
11 Life on Mars (Mick Ronson)
12 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
13 Alabama Dark (Ronee Blakley & Bob Neuwirth)
14 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
15 Need a New Sun Rising (Ronee Blakley)
16 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
17 Cindy [When I Get Home] (Bob Neuwirth)
18 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
19 Mercedes Benz (Bob Neuwirth)
20 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
21 Shadows and Light (Joni Mitchell)
22 Coyote (Joni Mitchell)
23 talk (Joni Mitchell)
24 Edith and the Kingpin (Joni Mitchell)
25 Don't Interrupt the Sorrow (Joni Mitchell)
26 talk (Muhammad Ali & Rubin "Hurricane" Carter)
27 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
28 [Ballad Of] Ramblin' Jack (Bob Neuwirth)
29 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
30 Muleskinner Blues (Ramblin' Jack Elliott)
31 Pretty Boy Floyd (Ramblin' Jack Elliott)
32 talk (Ramblin' Jack Elliott)
33 Salt Pork, West Virginia (Ramblin' Jack Elliott)
34 talk (Ramblin' Jack Elliott & Bob Neuwirth)
35 Rake and Ramblin' Boy (Ramblin' Jack Elliott)
36 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
37 When I Paint My Masterpiece (Bob Dylan with Bob Neuwirth)
38 It Ain't Me, Babe (Bob Dylan)
39 The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (Bob Dylan)
40 Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You (Bob Dylan)
41 talk (Bob Dylan)
42 It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Bob Dylan)
43 talk (Bob Dylan)
44 Romance in Durango (Bob Dylan)
45 talk (Bob Dylan)
46 Isis (Bob Dylan)
47 The Times They Are A-Changin' (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
48 talk (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
49 Dark as a Dungeon (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
50 Mama, You Been on My Mind (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
51 talk (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
52 Never Let Me Go (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
53 talk (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
54 I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
55 talk (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
56 I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan & Joan Baez)
57 talk (Joan Baez)
58 Diamonds and Rust (Joan Baez)
59 talk (Joan Baez)
60 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (Joan Baez)
61 Prison Trilogy [Billy Rose] (Joan Baez)
62 Joe Hill (Joan Baez)
63 Long Black Veil (Joan Baez)
64 talk (Joan Baez)
65 Please Come to Boston (Joan Baez)
66 talk (Joan Baez)
67 talk (Roberta Flack)
68 25th of Last December (Roberta Flack)
69 talk (Roberta Flack)
70 Why Don't You Move In with Me (Roberta Flack)
71 talk (Joan Baez)
72 Eight Miles High (Roger McGuinn)
73 Chestnut Mare (Roger McGuinn)
74 talk (Joan Baez)
75 The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Joan Baez with Roger McGuinn)
76 talk (Bob Neuwirth)
77 Love Minus Zero-No Limit (Bob Dylan)
78 Simple Twist of Fate (Bob Dylan)
79 talk (Bob Dylan)
80 Oh, Sister (Bob Dylan)
81 talk (Bob Dylan)
82 Hurricane (Bob Dylan)
83 One More Cup of Coffee [Valley Below] (Bob Dylan)
84 talk (Bob Dylan)
85 Sara (Bob Dylan)
86 talk (Bob Dylan)
87 Just like a Woman (Bob Dylan)
88 Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan with Roger McGuinn)
89 This Land Is Your Land (Bob Dylan & the Rolling Thunder Revue)

I believe the cover photo comes from the final bows after the last encore. Going from left to right, I believe that's Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Dylan and Baez sharing the center microphone, then Rob Stoner, Bob Neuwirth, Steven Soles, and Ronee Blakely. Thanks to loneill for help with identifying everyone.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Robyn Hitchcock - Outpost in the Burbs, Montclair, NJ, 10-8-2021

So what has Robyn Hitchcock been up to lately? As I write this is late October 2021, I can report that he's spent most of the past year and a half performing home concerts, due to the coronavirus pandemic. He's streamed these shows on the Internet, but only for paying viewers. I'd like to post some of those someday, but only after enough time has passed so that won't interfere with his revenue stream.

However, in the last month or two, he's switched to going on tour again. He has a policy where he's okay with the sharing of bootlegs from live shows (and allows an archive of them at, so that frees me up to post something new from him. This concert from earlier in the month is an audience recording, but it's a very good one. It essentially has the same high quality sound as a soundboard. So I figure it's worthy of being shared here.

I didn't do much to this, though I broke the talking parts into their own tracks and boosted their volume a bit, as I often do with concert recordings.

The set list isn't particularly unusual. He's written a bunch of new songs, enough for a new album soon, I'm sure. But unfortunately he only played one of them on this night, "Ghost in Sunlight." He seems to have been in a bit of a John Lennon mood, commenting on Lennon's voice, playing a song he said was inspired by Lennon's style, and then playing two Lennon covers during the encore.

This concert is an hour and 42 minutes long.

01 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
02 Tonight (Robyn Hitchcock)
03 Vibrating (Robyn Hitchcock)
04 I Pray When I'm Drunk (Robyn Hitchcock)
05 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
06 Chinese Bones (Robyn Hitchcock)
07 Luminous Rose (Robyn Hitchcock)
08 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
09 Sinister but She Was Happy (Robyn Hitchcock)
10 Sally Was a Legend (Robyn Hitchcock)
11 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
12 Adventure Rocket Ship (Robyn Hitchcock)
13 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
14 Ole Tarantula (Robyn Hitchcock)
15 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
16 Flavour of Night (Robyn Hitchcock)
17 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
18 Somewhere Apart (Robyn Hitchcock)
19 Ghost in Sunlight (Robyn Hitchcock)
20 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
21 I Saw Nick Drake (Robyn Hitchcock)
22 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
23 Victorian Squid (Robyn Hitchcock)
24 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
25 Saturday Groovers (Robyn Hitchcock)
26 Mad Shelley's Letterbox (Robyn Hitchcock)
27 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
28 I Often Dream of Trains (Robyn Hitchcock)
29 The Queen of Eyes (Robyn Hitchcock)
30 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
31 I Wanna Destroy You (Robyn Hitchcock)
32 Isolation (Robyn Hitchcock)
33 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
34 No. 9 Dream (Robyn Hitchcock)
35 talk (Robyn Hitchcock)
36 Madonna of the Wasps (Robyn Hitchcock)
37 Cynthia Mask (Robyn Hitchcock)

The cover art photo was taken at another concert this same month, October 2021.

Richard Thompson - Hots for the Smarts - Non-Album Acoustic Tracks (2003-2005)

It's been a while since I've posted a Richard Thompson stray tracks album. But yesterday someone asked me for the third volume of his "1000 Years of Popular Music" shows. I want to keep posting things in chronological order, so I need to get through a few albums before I get to that one. This next one contains only acoustic versions of songs.

My aim was to include unique songs that don't appear in similar versions somewhere else. Some of the songs here were done for his "1000 Years of Popular Music," such as the first two. But these were done in studio settings without any crowd noise, so the sound quality is markedly better. "Genesis Hall" and "Crazy Man Michael" were first done by Fairport Convention back in the 1960s. But again it's rare to have acoustic studio versions with top notch sound quality.

All but three of the performances here have been officially released. Four of those came from the "Life and Music Of" box set, and two more were on a BBC compilation. The three unreleased ones are from in-person radio station appearances, so the sound quality is excellent.

I did a little tweaking to "Dear Janet Jackson," so that's why it has "[Edit]" in the title. Although this version is from the box set, it's from a concert and the sound quality is a bit rough. I was able to use the Spleeter sound editing program to remove some of the crowd noise, including a brief clap along during the middle of the song.

I believe "Dear Janet Jackson" and "Hots for the Smarts" are both Thompson originals, and both are very funny. It would be interesting to put an album together of all his humorous songs, but I'm not sure if there's enough for an album.

This album is 38 minutes long.

01 Blackleg Miner (Richard Thompson)
02 Tempted (Richard Thompson)
03 Watch Me Go (Richard Thompson)
04 Genesis Hall (Richard Thompson)
05 Dear Janet Jackson [Edit] (Richard Thompson)
06 One Door Opens (Richard Thompson)
07 Crazy Man Michael (Richard Thompson)
08 Josef Locke (Richard Thompson)
09 Let It Blow (Richard Thompson)
10 Hots for the Smarts (Richard Thompson)

The cover art photo comes from a concert in Amsterdam in 2003.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Rising Sons - The Ash Grove, Los Angeles, CA, 5-9-1966

Yesterday, when I posted a Jorma Kaukonen concert from 1964, I commented that it's amazing how one can sometimes find some rare stuff on the Internet that one can barely believe even exists. That got me thinking about a couple of bootlegs I have featuring the Rising Sons. 

If you're not familiar with this band, they are most famous for having Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder as members before they got famous. Their style of electrified folk blues was ahead of its time in the short period they were together, from 1964 to 1966. They recorded a bunch of songs in the studio, but only one single was released while they stayed a band. However, an excellent archival release came out in 1992. 

None of the band's live performances have ever been officially released. However, I have two bootlegs, one from 1965 and the other from 1966. Both are from the Ash Grove, a folk club in Los Angeles. The Rising Sons were ahead of their time in that they had a mix of black and white band members. Apparently, this meant that many clubs were afraid to book them, so they didn't get the kind of exposure they needed to break through. But the Ash Grove liked them, and let them play there quite a lot. Thus, both of these bootlegs are from that club.

Unfortunately, these bootlegs both sound great and terrible at the same time. They're great in that they're pristine soundboards, which certainly is unusual for the time. But they're terrible in that only part of the band was properly recorded. The lead vocals (all by Taj Mahal) and some of the instruments come in clearly, but other instruments are barely heard at all. That's why I've never posted either bootleg here. However, today, it occurred to me that now I'm using the sound editing program Spleeter, I could drastically improve the mix. So that's what I did for this 1966 concert.

There's good news and bad news. The good news is that the mix is much improved. In particular, I was able to boost the guitar to make this sound very listenable. The bad news is that the harmonica playing in particular was so faint to begin with that I didn't have much to work with, and it's still very faint. One can tell the harmonica should be quite prominent, with some solos here and there, but it sounds like it's coming from two rooms away... or maybe two planets away!

Anyway, if you can tolerate that, I think the rest sounds great for a 1966 recording. Minus the harmonica problem, and maybe the bass being rather low, this could easily be worthy of an official release.  It's a bummer that there's only 30 minutes of music here, but that's 30 minutes more than you probably ever expected to hear of this band live (if you've been aware of them at all).

By the way, an interesting fact is that Taj Mahal mentioned between song that blues legends Lightnin' Hopkins and Son House were in the audience. That's almost certainly true. There are many more bootlegs from the Ash Grove in the 1960s (unfortunately the vast majority having the same mixing problems). There's one of Lightnin' Hopkins from this same date, and others on different dates of Son House. The Rising Sons must have been in awe playing in front of some of their musical heroes.

Anyway, if people like this, I can try to fix the 1965 Rising Sons bootleg I have too. That one will be harder, both because I think it has an even worse mix, plus it's over an hour long. I also have Taj Mahal solo bootlegs from 1966 and 1967 that were recorded at the Ash Grove and so have the exact same problems.

01 Hi-Heel Sneakers (Rising Sons)
02 talk (Rising Sons)
03 Who Do You Think You Is (Rising Sons)
04 talk (Rising Sons)
05 I Got My Mojo Working (Rising Sons)
06 talk (Rising Sons)
07 Walking Down the Line (Rising Sons)
08 talk (Rising Sons)
09 Walking the Dog (Rising Sons)
10 Little Red Rooster (Rising Sons)
11 talk (Rising Sons)
12 Statesboro Blues (Rising Sons)
13 Hambone (Rising Sons)

There are very, very few color photos of the Rising Sons. I couldn't find any of them in concert. I did find a nice one of them which I've used here. But there was a problem: it's a rectangular shot, with Ry Cooder way far from the from the rest of the band. So, using Photoshop, I moved him so he's sitting on his butt in front of the others. (Taj Mahal, with hat, is now standing directly above his head.) 

I also found a playbill advertising the Rising Sons playing at the Ash Grove, though for a different date. I used the exact font from that for the text. Finally, just for fun, I added the stereo and record company logos to make it look like a released album from the 1960s.

Jorma Kaukonen - Shelter Coffee House, San Jose, CA, 6-25-1964

Occasionally, I'm amazed that a bootleg of a concert from a certain era of an artist's career exists at all, then I'm doubly amazed that the sound quality is so good. The 1963 Jackie deShannon concert I've posted here is one example, and the 1967 Grass Roots concert I've posted here is another. This concert also falls into that category.

I mean, who would expect to find a Jorma Kaukonen concert bootleg from all way back to 1964?! I didn't even know what he was doing musically prior to joining Jefferson Airplane in 1965. It turns out he played acoustic blues in folk clubs for a few years, starting in 1962 or earlier. He doesn't seem to have been very popular at that time. I found a couple of playbills with his name on it from those pre-Jefferson Airplane years on a Hot Tuna website. His name was way down in importance, in small letters. (By the way, at that time he was going by the name Jerry Kaukonen.) 

Yet here we have a full concert recording from him, an apparent soundboard in excellent sound quality! I just happened to stumble across it a couple of days ago. I consider myself quite lucky, because it's an extremely obscure bootleg. I literally only found three or four Google search results, but one of them had a link to download the full show. Hopefully by posting this, I'll help to give it more prominence. I figure few Jorma/ Hot Tuna fans have ever even thought to search for bootlegs from before his Jefferson Airplane days.

What I find most interesting about this is how fully formed his musical vision was then. Many of these songs were later done by him as part of Hot Tuna or as a solo artist, often in very similar versions. You also get the future Jefferson Airplane song "Good Shepherd." He already had an obsession with the music of the Reverend Gary Davis, something that's continued for the rest of his career. Virtually all of the song are blues or gospel covers ("Mann's Fate" is an original), and a handful were written by Davis.

The bootleg I took this from is over half an hour longer. This comes from two sets, and I removed all the duplicates: "Hesitation Blues," "San Francisco Bay Blues," "Follow the Drinking Gourd," "Death Don't Have No Mercy," and two versions of "Candy Man." I also cut out most of the guitar tuning between songs, of which there was quite a lot.

Unlike many bootlegs from the 1960s where the tape recorder was turned off between songs to save tape, this appears to be the full show of two sets. The best evidence of that is all the guitar tuning (that I often removed). So although there isn't much banter between songs, I think it's safe to say that's because he simply didn't talk much instead of those bits getting lost. Whenever he did talk, his voice was rather quiet, so I boosted the volume on those parts to help you hear what he was saying.

This album is an hour and 16 minutes long. If you're a fan of his music, I highly recommend you get this. It's interesting to hear the early versions of songs he would often play later. But I think it's even more interesting that about half of these songs are ones he apparently permanently dropped from his repertoire once he joined Jefferson Airplane.

01 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
02 Come Back Baby (Jorma Kaukonen)
03 Move to Kansas City (Jorma Kaukonen)
04 Worry No More (Jorma Kaukonen)
05 Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning (Jorma Kaukonen)
06 Follow the Drinking Gourd (Jorma Kaukonen)
07 Keep On Truckin' (Jorma Kaukonen)
08 Always (Jorma Kaukonen)
09 Nine Pound Hammer (Jorma Kaukonen)
10 Search My Heart (Jorma Kaukonen)
11 Mann's Fate [Instrumental] (Jorma Kaukonen)
12 Good Shepherd (Jorma Kaukonen)
13 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
14 That'll Never Happen No More (Jorma Kaukonen)
15 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
16 Death Don't Have No Mercy (Jorma Kaukonen)
17 San Francisco Bay Blues (Jorma Kaukonen)
18 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
19 Lullaby [Instrumental] (Jorma Kaukonen)
20 Late in the Evening Blues (Jorma Kaukonen)
21 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
22 Hesitation Blues (Jorma Kaukonen)
23 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
24 True Religion (Jorma Kaukonen)
25 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
26 Candy Man (Jorma Kaukonen)
27 talk (Jorma Kaukonen)
28 Trouble in Mind (Jorma Kaukonen)

When I decided to make this an album I would post on my blog, I went looking for a photo of Kaukonen from 1964. I must say I thought the odds of actually finding one were between slim and none, but I felt I had to at least look. To my surprise, I actually found a photo of him playing in a club in 1964! The only snag was that it was in black and white, so I colorized it.

Between this music and the photo, I'm quite amazed at what one can find on the Internet these days. :)

Bob Dylan - Blood on the Tracks - Acoustic Version (1974)

Bob Dylan's 1975 album "Blood on the Tracks" is an undisputed classic., which aggregates music reviews, currently lists it at the 22nd best album of all time.

The songs on the released version are mostly done with a band. For instance, six out of the ten songs have drums on them, and eight of them has bass. But when Dylan first began recording the album in 1974, he planned to put out a version that was just his voice, acoustic guitar, and harmonica. My idea here is to make the best acoustic version I could, using those earlier takes, with the exact same song order as the released album version.

This was a very easy task to do, thanks to the six disc 2018 box set "The Bootleg Series, Volume 14: More Blood, More Tracks." Not only does that include every take I could want to use, there was a single disc version, as well as a slightly different "sampler" version that generally featured the best versions. So nearly every version I selected here came from the single disc version and/or the sampler version.

The one exception to that is the version of "Up to Me." That and "Call Letter Blues" are kind of bonus tracks added to the end, since they're the only two original songs recorded for the album but not released on it. ("Call Letter Blues" basically has the same melody as "Meet Me in the Morning," but has totally different lyrics.) The version of "Up to Me" had the sound of buttons on Dylan's jacket repeatedly banging against his guitar, which I find annoying. I used a take that has almost none of that. Frankly, I'm puzzled why they chose the button clacking version as one of the best, but whatever.

Dylan did record one more song during these sessions: the cover version "Spanish Is the Loving Tongue." I've revised the mid-1970s stray tracks album "Abandoned Love" a bit, and I've put that song there.

Although "Blood on the Tracks" was released in early 1975, it could have easily been released in late 1974, so that's why I have 1974 in the headline. These recording sessions were all done in September 1974.  

Note that these versions aren't simply acoustic versions of the ones on the final released album. Many of them have drastically different lyrics, and often the feel of the songs are different. For instance, the album version of "Idiot Wind" has a lot of anger on it, whereas this version is more contemplative. Both are excellent, but in different ways.

This album is 56 minutes long without the two extra songs at the end. In comparison, the released 1975 version is 52 minutes long. If you add those two extra songs, it's an hour and five minutes long.

01 Tangled Up in Blue (Bob Dylan)
02 Simple Twist of Fate (Bob Dylan)
03 You're a Big Girl Now (Bob Dylan)
04 Idiot Wind (Bob Dylan)
05 You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Bob Dylan)
06 Meet Me in the Morning (Bob Dylan)
07 Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts (Bob Dylan)
08 If You See Her, Say Hello (Bob Dylan)
09 Shelter from the Storm (Bob Dylan)
10 Buckets of Rain (Bob Dylan)
11 Up to Me (Bob Dylan)
12 Call Letter Blues (Bob Dylan)

The cover art uses a photo taken during the "Blood on the Tracks" recording sessions. I used the exact same font and style as the official album for the text.

The Who - I Like Nightmares - Non-Album Tracks (1980-1981)

Slowly but surely, I've been posting stray tracks albums for the Who. It's taken me a couple of years, but I'm finally getting near the end. This album is for the years 1980 and 1981. I have two more after this that goes all the way to the current day.

The music from this album roughly fits the time frame of the 1981 Who album "Face Dances." Many of the songs here are outtakes from that album, usually released as bonus tracks many years later. I've included two versions of "Dance It Away" because neither version made the album (though a different version did get included as a Pete Townshend B-side at the time), and one version has Roger Daltrey singing lead and the other one has Townshend singing lead. I've also included an alternate version of one of the album tracks, "Don't Let Go the Coat," because this version has Townshend singing lead whereas the album version is sung by Daltrey.

However, "Face Dances" wasn't the only album released during this time period. I didn't include any Townshend solo songs, because I have a whole separate series of stray tracks for Townshend's solo career. But I consider the solo works of Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle fair game here. To be blunt, I think Townshend's solo albums are usually solid all the way through, whereas with Daltrey and Entwistle it's usually more a case of finding a good song here and there.

In 1980, Daltrey released an album called "McVicar" that was tied to a movie of the same name that he acted in. This album is very unusual for a Daltrey solo album in that the full Who backed him on some of the songs. I included two of those, as well as one song from the album without the Who that I consider one of its best songs.

Entwistle released his solo album "Too Late the Hero" in 1981. I particularly like two of the songs from it, so I've included those.

And that's it. Everything here is officially released either as a "Face Dances" outtake, or is from the Daltrey or Entwistle solo albums. The Who did play a lot of concerts during these two years, but there weren't any particularly interesting rarities that weren't done in other years.

This album is 48 minutes long.

01 Don't Let Go the Coat [Pete Townshend Vocal Version] (Who)
02 My Time Is Gonna Come (Roger Daltrey)
03 Free Me (Roger Daltrey & the Who)
04 Without Your Love (Roger Daltrey & the Who)
05 Dance It Away [Pete Townshend Vocal Version] (Who)
06 I Like Nightmares (Who)
07 It's in Ya [It's in You] (Who)
08 Somebody Saved Me (Who)
09 Fallen Angel (John Entwistle)
10 Too Late the Hero (John Entwistle)
11 Dance It Away [Roger Daltrey Vocal Version] (Who)

For the album cover, I used a promotional photo from 1981.

Stephen Stills - Buffalo Springfield Era Acoustic Versions (1966-1968)

Recently, I posted an album of acoustic versions of Neil Young's songs from when he was a member of Buffalo Springfield (1966-1968). That was pretty easy to make, because acoustic versions of the vast majority of those songs exist, mostly thanks to his solo acoustic concerts. Then, yesterday, I posted an album of David Crosby's acoustic demos from 1968.

While I was putting these album together in recent days, I got to thinking: since those guys are two members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, what about Stephen Stills and Graham Nash? With Nash, I might give it a try someday, but I doubt I have enough solo acoustic material from him from this time, and converting Hollies songs into acoustic versions would be tough. However, I decided I could do something with Stills. The Buffalo Springfield box set has eight acoustic demos he did that could get me part of the way there.

But that was only part way. For the rest, including his most famous Buffalo Springfield songs, I tried the sound editing program Spleeter to remove the bass and drums. This at least gave me something to work with most of the rest of his songs. But there were a couple, "Leave" and "Uno Mundo" where nothing I did sounded good enough for inclusion. So those are left out, but I think I managed to include all the other Stills songs he did with Buffalo Springfield where he sang lead vocals.

These Spleeter edits are far from ideal. Although they removed most of the bass and drums, they often left in other elements, such as backing vocals, piano, keyboards, electric guitar, and the like. That means they may be stripped down some, but they're not solo acoustic versions. Still, I figure they're interesting enough to be worth a listen. 

I tried using the sound editing program X-Minus to strip out the backing vocals, but that rarely worked because the other vocals were so close to the lead vocals. In fact, on a number of songs, Stills essentially did a co-lead vocal with band member Richie Furay. But I did manage to at least lessen the backing vocals on a few songs, such as "Pay the Price" and "Rock and Roll Woman." Mike Solof helped me with X-Minus file conversion in some cases.

"For What It's Worth" is a little different, because that's the only song where I had access to the multitrack recording. That's because it's such a famous song that it got included in the computer game Rock Band, which breaks songs down to each instrument. So that one sounds especially good. But even with that one, I couldn't get rid of the backing vocals entirely.

To get the best possible sound, I enlisted the help of musical friend MZ. He improved the equalization of all the songs. The one song he and I had the most trouble with was "Pretty Girl Why." There is what MZ called a "strange, low breathing sound" going through the whole song. I found two original versions of this song, and both of them had it. I think it's just some weird musical effect that's meant to be there, and it sounds good in the full version, but if you strip away many of the other instruments, it sounds weird. I used some editing tricks to lessen it, but it's still there in spots. 

This album has some sonic issues here and there. But consider that Stills, unlike Neil Young, has abandoned most of these songs after he left Buffalo Springfield, so acoustic versions simply don't exist in any form for most of them. This, at least, is an approximation, and hopefully gives you a different way to appreciate his many quality songs he did during this time period.

This album is an hour and two minutes long.

01 For What It's Worth [Stripped Mix] (Buffalo Springfield)
02 Go and Say Goodbye [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)
03 Hot Dusty Roads [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)
04 Sit Down, I Think I Love You [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)
05 Pay the Price [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)
06 Come On [Demo] [Edit] (Stephen Stills)
07 Baby Don't Scold Me [Demo] (Stephen Stills & Richie Furay)
08 Hello, I've Returned [Demo] [Edit] (Stephen Stills)
09 Neighbor Don't You Worry [Demo] (Stephen Stills & Richie Furay)
10 We'll See [Demo] (Stephen Stills & Richie Furay)
11 Bluebird [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)
12 Rock and Roll Woman [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)
13 Everydays [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)
14 So You've Got a Lover [Demo] (Stephen Stills)
15 Hung Upside Down [Demo] (Stephen Stills)
16 My Angel [Demo] (Stephen Stills)
17 49 Reasons [49 Bye-Byes] [Demo] (Stephen Stills)
18 Four Days Gone [Demo] (Stephen Stills)
19 Pretty Girl Why [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)
20 Special Care [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)
21 Questions [Edit] (Buffalo Springfield)

For the album cover, I found a good photo of Stills that dates to 1967, in the middle of his time as part of Buffalo Springfield.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

David Crosby - Just Roll My Tape - Hollywood Recorders, Los Angeles, CA, 3-28-1968

In late 1967, David Crosby was kicked out of the Byrds. He didn't hook up with Graham Nash and Stephen Stills to form Crosby, Stills and Nash until about July 1968, resulting in their first album in 1969. In early 1968, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do next, but he was toying with the idea of recording a solo album. Although that never came to pass, he did take part in some solo recording sessions. 

The most intriguing of these sessions is one that took place on March 28, 1968. We only know a little bit about it due to the book "Crosby, Stills and Nash: The Biography," by Dave Zimmer. Here's a paragraph from the book that sums up pretty much all that is publicly known about this recording session:

"Over the next couple of hours, [Crosby] unveiled a batch of exciting new songs. Crosby's voice sounded warm and clear as he scatted around open-tuned chords throughout 'Song with No Words (Trees with No Leaves)' - which would be released more than two years later on his first solo LP. He played 'Games' and 'The Wall Song' (no words yet) - both later to be included on the first Crosby-Nash album. He added a certain Byrdsian twang to 'Laughing' - including simulated cymbal clashes with his voice. But perhaps the most startling piece of music he pulled out of his bag was a complicated series of chord and melody shifts that exploded into a rush of humming and guitar-flailing. This was a large chunk of what would ultimately become 'Wooden Ships.'"

I would have liked to put together this important recording in the history of Crosby's career. But although it sounds like the author Dave Zimmer got to hear it, only two of the songs from it have been publicly available on bootleg. That changed earlier this month (October 2021) when a deluxe edition of Crosby's first solo album "If I Could Only Remember My Name" was released. Four songs from Crosby's March 28, 1968 session were included as bonus tracks, and luckily they were different than the two available on bootleg ("Laughing" and "Wooden Ships"). So I decided I could try to put as much of this recording together as I could.

Only six songs from the actual March 28, 1968 session isn't a lot for an album. That only totals 17 minutes of music. But there are other acoustic demos he did prior to that point that have been made public: "Lady Friend" and "Everybody's Been Burned." I've put both of those on Crosby, Stills and Nash acoustic demo collections, but I think they fit here too. The recording of "Lady Friend" fades out early, so I edited it to give it a proper finish. 

There's a second version of "Laughing" that was recorded just three days later, on March 31, 1968. It's somewhat different from the first version, so I've included it as well. That version also was released on the deluxe version of "If I Could Only Remember My Name." It's highly likely that "Long Time Gone" and "Guinnevere" were recorded in that March 28th session as well, because demos of them recorded less than three months later (on June 13, 1968) have been released as part of the David Crosby box set "Voyage." This version of "Long Time Gone" had some other instruments added by Stephen Stills, but I edited the bass and drums out using the sound editing program Spleeter to make it fit in better with the other acoustic demos. And "Guinnevere" was played on an acoustic guitar plus a very prominent bass part, but I used Spleeter to lower the volume of the bass, again to help make it fit with the other songs.

Finally, we know from Zimmer's book that "The Wall Song" and "Song with No Words (Trees with No Leaves)" were recorded in that March 28th session, but no versions of those from that date has publicly emerged so far. But there are excellent acoustic demos of both songs included as more bonus tracks to the deluxe version of "If I Could Only Remember My Name." So I've included those at the end, even though they were recorded in 1970 and 1969 respectively (and Graham Nash sings backing vocals on "Song with No Words"). 

Chances are there are more songs that Crosby recorded on March 28th, maybe even a bunch more. But this is all we know for now. Put together, this makes for 42 minutes of quality acoustic songs. If he hadn't partnered up with Stills and Nash, he could have put out a solo album in 1968 that had the potential to be great.

As for the album title, I thought of the fact that there's a Stephen Stills archival album called "Just Roll Tape" that features him demoing some of his songs on acoustic guitar. Supposedly it was recorded in April 1968, but it's almost certain it was recorded around September 1968 instead. (In the months in between he got to know Judy Collins by producing one of her albums, fell in love with her, and was inspired to write "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," one of the songs on the album.) Anyway, regardless of the exact date, the idea of an album made up of a bunch of acoustic demos recorded in 1968 by a member of Crosby, Stills and Nash is extremely similar to this album. Thus, I wanted to call this "Just Roll Another Tape," until I realized this one actually took place before the Stills session (whether it was in April or September). So I called it "Just Roll My Tape" instead.

Hopefully someday an album of all the March 28, 1968 recording session will be officially released. Stills did well with releasing his "Just Roll Tape," so you'd think there would be a market for this too. But in the meantime, we'll have to make due with this.

01 Riff 1 (David Crosby)
02 Laughing (David Crosby)
03 Tamalpais High [At about 3] (David Crosby)
04 Kids and Dogs (David Crosby)
05 Games (David Crosby)
06 Wooden Ships (David Crosby)
07 Lady Friend [Edit] (David Crosby)
08 Everybody's Been Burned (David Crosby)
09 Laughing [Second Version] (David Crosby)
10 Long Time Gone [Edit] (David Crosby & Stephen Stills)
11 Guinnevere [Edit] (David Crosby)
12 The Wall Song (David Crosby)
13 Song with No Words [Tree with No Leaves] (David Crosby & Graham Nash)

The cover art photo comes from February 1968. It's part of a series of photos taken in the same time and place showing Crosby, Joni Mitchell, and Eric Clapton hanging out in a field and playing acoustic guitars. Man, it would be awesome if there was a recording of the three of them playing together then!

Monday, October 25, 2021

Aretha Franklin - Hold On, I'm Coming - Selected Best Tracks (1980-1982)

Earlier this year, the Aretha Franklin box set "Aretha" was released. It dealt with all parts of her musical career. I haven't been that big on the later part of her career, from the early 1980s until her death in 2018, and I'm still not. But the box set made me realize there was a lot of good music from her later career that I'd missed. So I used to have two stray tracks albums for the early 1980s to the end of her career. I'm revamped that, so I now have four albums for that time period. Two of them are new, and two are radically changed. Here's the first new one.

My main problem with later music from her is the bad production. This album deals with three years at the start of the 1980s, before the production really got bad, in my opinion. For this album, anything she did is fair game. I included "School Days" from her 1980 album "Aretha," "Hold On, I'm Coming" from her 1981 album "Love All the Hurt Away," and "Jump to It" and "It's Your Thing" from her 1982 album "Jump to It."

As you can see, that means a majority of the songs don't come from her studio albums. I think non-album tracks tended to not suffer from the usual production problems from that time period. Three of those songs are officially unreleased: a version of "Sweet Sixteen" with B. B. King, "God Bless the Child," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" with blues legend Big Mama Thornton. All three of those come from TV show appearances, so the sound quality is pretty good.

Two more songs come from the "Aretha" box set: "Amazing Grace" and a duet version of "I Say a Little Prayer" with Dionne Warwick. Finally, "Think" was a hit for her in 1968, but I prefer this version from the "Blues Brothers" movie soundtrack, because the original version only has one iteration of the chorus, and this version has two.

This album is 41 minutes long.

If you're interested in this time period of her career and you've download the early 1980s stray tracks album "Freeway of Love" already, I highly, highly recommend you get the updated version I'm posting at the same time I post this. That album has been radically transformed, with most of the songs different than before. Here's the link to the revised "Freeway of Love":

01 Think [1980 Version] (Blues Brothers with Aretha Franklin)
02 School Days (Aretha Franklin)
03 Sweet Sixteen (Aretha Franklin & B. B. King)
04 Amazing Grace (Aretha Franklin)
05 God Bless the Child (Aretha Franklin)
06 Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (Aretha Franklin & Big Mama Thornton)
07 I Say a Little Prayer (Dionne Warwick & Aretha Franklin)
08 Hold On, I'm Coming (Aretha Franklin)
09 Jump to It (Aretha Franklin)
10 It's Your Thing (Aretha Franklin)

The cover uses a promotional photo from 1980. 

Aretha Franklin - Rolling in the Deep - Selected Best Tracks (2002-2014)

In late 2021, the Aretha Franklin box set "Aretha" was released. It dealt with her entire career. Listening to it, I realized I'd missed some good songs from the latter part of her career. I found enough to turn the two stray tracks albums from the early 1980s until her death in 2018 to four stray tracks albums. This is the last one. (Due to declining health, she didn't sing much in her last four years.)

Generally speaking, I found her music from the 1980s on to be marred by bad production. So only four songs here are from her studio albums. There's two songs from her 2011 album "A Woman Falling Out of Love": "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and "Sweet Sixteen." And there's two songs from her 2014 album "Sings the Great Diva Classics": "No One" and "Rolling in the Deep."

Speaking of "Rolling in the Deep," of course that was a huge hit by Adele. Personally, I think Adele's version is fantastic. It's such an inherently great song that Franklin's version is pretty good too, even though hers isn't nearly as good as Adele's. However, there's a big problem with Franklin's version, in my opinion: near the end, she switches into some of the soul classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." That's a problem, because the sentiment of that song is the exact opposite of "Rolling in the Deep!" It might work musically, but it's a disaster lyrically. So I've created my own version here where I've tried my best to cut out the "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" part. The edits aren't that great due the way different parts of the song overlap, but I did what I could.

As for the other songs here, two more have been officially released. "At Last," a duet with Lou Rawls, comes from the "Aretha" box set. And "You've Got a Friend," a duet with Ronald Isley, comes from a Ronald Isley album.

Although the remaining songs are officially unreleased, they generally sound very good. Some of them come from TV show performances.

This album is 49 minutes long.

In making this album, I radically transformed a different stray tracks album that used to cover this time period, "A Deeper Love." So if you get this, I highly recommend you get the updated version of that one. The link is here:

01 At Last (Aretha Franklin & Lou Rawls)
02 Until You Come Back to Me [That's What I'm Gonna Do] [Live] (Stevie Wonder & Aretha Franklin)
03 I Adore You [And I Abhor You] [Edit] (Aretha Franklin)
04 Make Them Hear You (Aretha Franklin)
05 You've Got a Friend (Aretha Franklin & Ronald Isley)
06 My Country 'Tis of Thee (Aretha Franklin)
07 Sweet Sixteen (Aretha Franklin)
08 Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours (Aretha Franklin)
09 I Will Always Love You (Aretha Franklin)
10 [Your Love Keeps Lifting Me] Higher and Higher (Aretha Franklin)
11 No One (Aretha Franklin)
12 Rolling in the Deep [Edit] (Aretha Franklin)

Franklin's version of "Rolling in the Deep" had a limited release as a single. The cover art I used here is simply the single cover.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Bob Dylan - Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid - Alternate Version (1973)

The flood of Bob Dylan albums continues. We're starting to move a little deeper into the 1970s.

After the 1970 album "New Morning," Dylan wouldn't release another proper studio album until 1974's "Planet Waves." But in 1973, he had a prominent acting role in the movie "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid," and he released a soundtrack for it containing all original songs. This wasn't considered a proper Dylan album though, because a majority of the songs were instrumentals, and of course Dylan is most famous for his lyrics. It did contain the hit "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." But it seems most fans got the hit and ignored the rest of the album.

I've tried to spice up the album some by adding five more vocal tracks and removing one instrumental track. This changes the nature of the album to something closer to a typical Dylan album with lots of singing and lyrics, though it still has a large instrumental element. 

One of the added songs was not part of the movie project. In 1973, Dylan helped Doug Sahm with the album "Doug Sahm and Band." He mostly had a background role, playing guitar and harmonica on some songs. But the cover song "Blues Stay Away with Me" is a duet between Dylan and Sahm. Its musical vibe fits right in with the other songs on this soundtrack, and it's also from 1973, so I added it.

The other four songs with vocals are actually unreleased outtakes from the "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" recording sessions. This is surprising to me, because they're generally better than the songs that were included on the soundtrack. These songs are: "Rock Me Mama (Wagon Wheel)," "Sweet Amarillo," "Goodbye Holly," and "Tom Turkey."

The biggest surprise is "Rock Me Mama (Wagon Wheel)." This is a rough sketch of a song with Dylan just singing sounds instead of actual words during the verse parts, because he hadn't written the words. Apparently it was left off the soundtrack because he never finished it. However, it was finished off by the Old Crow Medicine Show, with Dylan getting half of the songwriting credit. It was released by that group in 2004, and has improbably gone on to sell millions and become a folk music standard. Apparently, it's the only Dylan original to hit number one on the US (country) charts. It's covered so much to the point of being overplayed that some country music clubs actually put up "No Wagon Wheel Zone" signs. No bad for a song where the original is still an unreleased outtake!

Note that a problem with Dylan's version of  "Rock Me Mama (Wagon Wheel)" is that he quietly sung through parts of it. But I used the sound editing program Spleeter to boost his vocals on those parts. The song also broke down in the middle and then resumed. I edited that too, creating one continuous version. 

Furthermore, the song "Sweet Amarillo" began in the middle of a vocal chorus. Clearly, someone didn't turn the recorder on in time, or the bootlegger didn't get a full version of it. So I patched in a section from later in the song to fill in the rest of the chorus.

The one instrumental I removed is "Cantina Theme (Workin' for the Law)." It's pretty much just the same chord changes over and over without soloing or much variation. So I felt the album is stronger without it.

This still isn't a lost masterpiece on the part with "Blood on the Tracks." But if you've overlooked this album due to its marginal reputation, you should give it a listen. Not only does it have a bunch of nice Dylan originals with his voice and lyrics, but even his instrumentals are pretty good, and the whole thing has a nice mellow vibe to it.

01 Main Title Theme [Billy] [Instrumental] (Bob Dylan)
02 Rock Me Mama [Wagon Wheel] [Edit] (Bob Dylan)
03 Billy 1 (Bob Dylan)
04 Bunkhouse Theme [Instrumental] (Bob Dylan)
05 Billy 4 (Bob Dylan)
06 Sweet Amarillo [Edit] (Bob Dylan)
07 River Theme [Instrumental] (Bob Dylan)
08 Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan)
09 Billy 7 (Bob Dylan)
10 Blues Stay Away from Me (Doug Sahm & Bob Dylan)
11 Turkey Chase [Instrumental] (Bob Dylan)
12 Goodbye Holly (Bob Dylan)
13 Tom Turkey (Bob Dylan)
14 Final Theme [Instrumental] (Bob Dylan)

The official album cover is basically just the album title in very large, black letters, on a white background. That seemed boring to me. So I used a still of Dylan from the movie as the main image. Then I added the text from the official cover, but in white instead of black.

A New Backing Vocals Editing Trick

If you've been following this blog, you've probably noticed I've been singing the praises of the sound editing program Spleeter. To refresh your memory, it splits any song into five tracks: bass, drums, vocals, piano, and other. That has allowed me to edit songs in ways never before possible (unless one has the multi-track version, which almost never happens).

Anyway, the other day I was talking with my musical associate Mike Solof. He can't use Spleeter, because although it's free and easy to use, it only works for PC computer and he has a Mac. Instead, he found a similar program called X-Minus:

It only splits a song into the vocals on one track and the instruments on another. But it does something else that Spleeter doesn't do, which is pretty remarkable, in my book: it can split the backing vocals from the lead vocals. I don't know how it does this - how can it tell which is which?! But I tried it out on one song, and it worked like a charm. So thanks for the tip, Mike!

The song I experimented on is "Mary Ann" by Bob Dylan, from the 1973 album "Dylan." I was considering including this song on my recent compilation album "A New Morning Portrait," but I didn't because I found the backing vocals too prominent and heavy-handed. So last night I tried to remove the backing vocals. Sure enough, they were all gone, even when they overlapped with Dylan's voice!

I have a zip file here with three versions of the song. One has the original version from the "Dylan" album, unchanged. Another has all the backing vocals removed, using X-Minus. The third is kind of a halfway point, where I used X-Minus to edit the backing vocals way down in the mix (and cutting out some backing vocal bits I didn't like altogether). I actually like that halfway version the best, and I'm adding it to the "A New Morning Portrait" album today.

Here's the zip so you can judge how the program works itself:

Anyway, the rest I'm explaining all this is to let you know of this promising new editing possibility. If you know of any songs where it would sound better with the backing vocals removed, or the main vocals removed but the backing vocals remain, etc... these are now things that may work. I'm not sure just how effective this program is, since I've only used it with one song, but I'm so impressed with what it did to that one song that I thought I'd share this news.

And on a somewhat related note, in putting together the CSNY 1969 live compilation I posted yesterday, I discovered another neat editing trick using Spleeter. Getting rid of hiss is a common problem with bootlegs. One can apply noise reduction to that, but it's a crude tool that effects everything, and usually degrades the sound of the music. That's still a problem with songs. But if there's a track that's just talking, I've discovered that if I run that through Spleeter, it usually puts all the talking on one channel and all the hiss on a different channel. So it's a cleaner and more effective way to get rid of hiss. (The reason it only works for talking tracks is because if it's a song, some of the music ends up on the same channel as the hiss.)

So if you know of a concert bootleg with lots of hiss through the talking, this could do wonders. If you know of any such recordings, let me know. Or you or other people could make these fixes yourselves, since these are easy programs to use. If you do improve some recordings, please let me know that too, and maybe I can share them through this blog.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - The 1969 Big Sur Folk Festival and More (1969)

Here's something I'm especially proud of making. In my opinion, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSNY) peaked early. They formed in 1969, and 1969 and 1970 were arguably their best years. However, when it comes to live material, there isn't that much that was recorded with great sound quality. 

I've already posted the CSNY set at Woodstock, which is a complete, great performance that sounds fantastic. But other than that, there's only parts of shows that have soundboard quality. I've collected all the best bits (not counting the Woodstock stuff) to make a kind of ultimate CSNY 1969 concert recording. It's two hours and 24 minutes long, and it's killer all the way through.

Virtually no live CSNY performances from 1969 are officially released, other than the Woodstock show (which can only be had as part of a massive box set), and a few songs here and there. I ended up only using a single such song, "I've Loved Her So Long," from Neil Young's "Archives, Volume 1." For the rest, I had to rely on bootlegs. Strangely, there are five CSNY boots from 1969 that are soundboards, but all of them are partial shows. 

The closest to a complete show comes from the Big Sur Folk Festival. At first glance it looks like a complete show, but this is an illusion, because CSNY actually played twice at that festival, on September 13th, and then again on September 14th, and the popular bootleg from this festival combines the two into one. Even then, it's incomplete. For instance, at one point, there's a spoken introduction to the song "I've Long Her So Long," but the song isn't there. To make matters worse, some parts of the shows sound great and seem to be from a soundboard, and others not so much, and seem to be from a high quality audience recording.

In addition to Big Sur, there are portions of three other soundboard bootlegs. There are six songs from Chicago on December 13th, six songs from Detroit on December 14th, and six songs from Houston on December 18th. Weird, huh? And they're all different songs, though some are incomplete. After those, the sound quality drops dramatically, to just average or poor sounding audience bootlegs.

So I used the Big Sur shows as the basis, and then added in as many songs as I could from the other soundboard concerts to create one big concert containing everything really worth hearing (not counting Woodstock), without ever using the same song multiple times. CSNY was pretty consistent in how they did their concerts, dividing their shows in a first acoustic set and then a second electric, full band set. And within those, there was a natural order. For instance, the acoustic set had them doing some songs together to start the show, then breaking off into individual mini-sets featuring just one member, then getting back them all together again for a song or two before ending the set. Because of this, I was able easily add in the extra songs where they more or less belonged.

Where things got more complicated is with the banter between songs. CSNY was very chatty in this time period. They talked before virtually every song, and sometimes talked for a few minutes. I wanted to replicate this aspect of their concerts too, because it showed their personality and camaraderie. Most of the time, the version of the songs I used had banter that went with the songs, so I used those. But in some cases the banter was missing, or it had sound quality issues. In many of those cases, I was able to find banter from some other show. For instance, the version of "Wooden Ships" here comes from one of the Big Sur shows. But banter before it had lots of hiss and crowd noise. I found different banter from the Chicago show where he explained the meaning of the song in depth, with much better sound quality, so I used that.

I put a lot of time and effort into making the best cohesive sounding concert with the limited raw material I had. Because I was mixing sources, I had to work to make sure the end of one track fit with the start of the next one. I did a lot of editing to make sure a song wouldn't end in the middle of audience applause or something like that. I also worked to improve the sound quality as much as possible. 

I discovered a new trick with Spleeter, which is that for banter tracks only, the vocals are usually put on one channel and the hiss on another channel. So I can just delete the hiss channel, and I can get rid of hiss better than any other noise reduction type tool. (It only works for banter tracks, because if there's music, the hiss ends up on the same channel as some of the music.) One thing I couldn't fix though is that some of the banter tracks have a lot of echo and/or reverb, and other such tracks don't. That can vary from time to time, so just try to ignore that.

I'm happy to say that I managed to find nearly all the important songs CSNY played in 1969. If one looks at the list of songs they played that year, and how many times they played them, there are only a few I missed that they played more than once: "49 Bye-Byes - America's Children," "Find the Cost of Freedom," "Broken Arrow," and "How Have You Been." I got really lucky! (One of the soundboard sources did have "49 Bye- Byes - America's Children," but half or more of it was missing, so I skipped it.)

The Big Sur shows were unusual in a couple of aspects. One oddity is that, during the CSNY set, they brought up Dave Mason, who recently left Traffic, and let him perform two of his songs. They even backed him up on the second one. I'm pretty sure that was the one and only time CSNY ever did that, at least in the 1969 and 1970 time frame. I chose to keep those songs in, since I like Mason and they're good songs.

Also, the Big Sur shows were filmed for a documentary movie and soundtrack, which was eventually released with the name "Celebration at Big Sur." In the movie, you can watch a scene in which CSNY gets heckled by an audience member. Stills left the stage to talk up close to the guy, and ended up getting in a tussle with him. The bootleg included all of this scene, which lasted several minutes. However, I cut the whole thing out. The main reason is that the audio quality of that second was particularly poor, and it mostly was just lots of crowd noise. But later on in the show, when Stills had his solo spot, right before the song "4+20," he spent about a minute talking about the heckler and his response. I left that in, because the sound quality was much better, and his commentary was interesting.

In 1969, CSNY varied the songs they played during their acoustic sets quite a lot, but they played pretty much the exact same songs in the same order during their electric sets. The result of that is the acoustic set is super sized with all the songs I gathered from here and there. Whereas I only added two extra songs to the electric set over what they played at Big Sur.

A few tracks have "[Edit]" in the title. The only actual song I edited is the Dave Mason song "Only You Know and I Know." There was a missing section near the end. It was during an instrumental section, so I managed to patch it using another part of the song where the same section was repeated. I also did a lot editing of the banter between songs. Sometimes I cut out portions that were boring, such as lots of guitar tuning or prolonged silences. Occasionally, I moved things around to have the flow from song to song make more sense. I added "[Edit]" to the ones where I made the biggest changes.

In addition to all the soundboard sourced songs I mentioned above, there are two songs where I used audience boots as the source. These are two songs that I simply thought were really cool, and I decided the sound quality was good enough for them to fit, even though they do sound slightly worse than the rest. Those two are "Mr. Soul" and "Go Back Home." They're interesting rarities. If is correct, CSNY only ever played them twice. (However, there's a better sounding version of "Mr. Soul" in the Woodstock concert.)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. The sound does vary from time to time. But considering the poor quality of most 1969 CSNY bootlegs, this is the cream of the crop, all in one plus (minus Woodstock, of course).

Finally, I was so pleased with the result I made here that I decided to do the same thing for CSNY's 1970 concerts. I've taken the best of the best recordings, mostly from the Fillmore East, to make one ultimate concert for that year too. Look for that to be posted soon.

01 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
02 Suite- Judy Blue Eyes (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
03 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
04 Blackbird (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
05 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
06 On the Way Home (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
07 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
08 Teach Your Children (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
09 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
10 Helplessly Hoping (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
11 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
12 Mr. Soul (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
13 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
14 Guinnevere (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
15 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
16 Triad (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
17 talk [Edit] (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
18 Lady of the Island (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
19 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
20 Our House (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
21 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
22 Country Girl (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
23 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
24 Birds (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
25 talk [Edit] (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
26 I've Loved Her So Long (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
27 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
28 Helpless (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
29 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
30 Black Queen (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
31 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
32 4+20 (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
33 Go Back Home (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
34 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
35 You Don't Have to Cry (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
36 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
37 World in Changes (Dave Mason & Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
38 talk (Dave Mason & Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
39 Only You Know and I Know [Edit] (Dave Mason & Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
40 Pre-Road Downs (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
41 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
42 So Begins the Task (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
43 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
44 Long Time Gone (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
45 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
46 Woodstock (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
47 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
48 Bluebird Revisited (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
49 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
50 Sea of Madness (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
51 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
52 Wooden Ships (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
53 talk (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
54 Down by the River (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

As I mentioned above, the Big Sur Folk Festival was the subject of a documentary movie. I could have used some still shots from that for the album cover. However, the film quality was rather low-res and blurry. Instead, I found a few excellent photos of CSNY in concert in San Diego in 1969. 

But the problem there was I couldn't find a single good photo showing all four of them. So I used one with Crosby, Stills and Young as the basis. Then I used another one of the San Diego photos to crop out Nash and stick him in the middle of the photo. So yeah, it's kind of a fake, but consider that Nash was right there wearing those clothes with that lighting, just out of frame. I probably combined two photos that were taken at the same spot only minutes apart.

In case you're curious, here are how the two raw pics look separately. I didn't use the bottom one, even though it has all four of them, because Stills' head is turned away from the camera, and Crosby's head is partially blocked.