Saturday, March 26, 2022

Tom Jones - This Is Tom Jones, Volume 4 (1969-1970)

Here's another album based on the TV show hosted by Tom Jones, "This Is Tom Jones." It's the fourth of six such albums.

As usual, there are lots of duets with big names. On this album, the duets are with: Little Richard, Glen Campbell, Janis Joplin, the Rascals, Dusty Springfield, and Joe Cocker. Probably the most notable was the duet with Joplin. She died so young, that I think this is the only major duet she did on TV.

There's not much else to say. As with the rest of the series, all the songs here are officially unreleased. All the shows are from the "This Is Tom Jones" show with the exception of "Proud Mary," which is from another TV show. But I slotted it in chronologically with the others. Also like the rest of the series, the sound quality is pretty good overall, but variable. Some of the songs come from a DVD source and sound great, while others come from YouTube videos, and are more of a mixed bag.

This album is 46 minutes long.

01 Don't Fight It (Tom Jones)
02 I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' (Tom Jones)
03 Jenny, Jenny - Rip It Up (Tom Jones & Little Richard)
04 Proud Mary (Tom Jones)
05 You Came a Long Way from St. Louis (Tom Jones & Glen Campbell)
06 Land of 1000 Dances (Tom Jones)
07 Raise Your Hand (Tom Jones & Janis Joplin)
08 In the Midnight Hour (Tom Jones & the Rascals)
09 Bony Maronie (Tom Jones)
10 I'm Gonna Make You Love Me (Tom Jones & Dusty Springfield)
11 Help Yourself (Tom Jones)
12 My Funny Valentine (Tom Jones)
13 Delta Lady (Tom Jones & Joe Cocker)
14 We Can Work It Out (Tom Jones)
15 She Loves Me (Tom Jones)

As with the covers of the other albums in this series, I thought it would be more interesting to show Jones during one of the duets instead of him alone. Since the duet with Joplin is the most celebrated one here, I used a photo from that.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Roy Orbison - BBC Sessions, Volume 1: 1965-1971

Next, it's Roy Orbison's turn to have some BBC sessions. This is the first of two volumes. The second one will be a short, single concert from the 1970s.

It may be a bit of a surprise that he has enough BBC sessions for that, since Roy Orbison was an American singer. But I don't think it's a coincidence that this volume dates from 1965 to 1971. Orbison had lots of hits in the early 1960s all over the world, peaking with "Oh, Pretty Woman" in 1964, which I've heard is one of the top ten most played songs on the radio of all time. But then his fortunes dropped considerably from 1965 in the US, where the British Invasion reigned supreme. From 1965 to 1969, he only had five Top 40 hits there, most towards the bottom of those charts. By contrast, in Britain he had 13 Top 40 hits in those same years, including a number three hit in 1966 with "Too Soon to Know." So it's not surprising that he capitalized on this by playing more in Britain.

There is one official BBC album for him, called "Live at the BBC." But it's rather scanty, dealing with the years from 1968 to 1988. Six of the songs here are from that, and the rest are unreleased. All of those six are from proper BBC studio sessions.

As for those unreleased songs, they come from a variety of sources, not all of them strictly the BBC. Songs five through eight are from a 1966 BBC session that the official album totally overlooked, even though the sound is perfectly good. The first four songs are also technically from the BBC, but a live appearance on a BBC TV show (that was actually filmed in the Netherlands) rather than a studio session. The remaining songs are from appearances on British or Australian TV shows. 

I've avoided including more than one performance of each song. There were only a couple of repeated songs from all these different sources with the exception of "It's Over," which he played on three more occasions. (The other repeats were "Oh, Pretty Woman" and "Twinkle Toes.")

This album is 55 minutes long.

01 Running Scared (Roy Orbison)
02 Goodnight (Roy Orbison)
03 Mean Woman Blues (Roy Orbison)
04 What'd I Say (Roy Orbison)
05 It Wasn't Very Long Ago [Edit] (Roy Orbison)
06 Twinkle Toes (Roy Orbison)
07 Breaking Up Is Breaking My Heart (Roy Orbison)
08 It's Over (Roy Orbison)
09 In Dreams (Roy Orbison)
10 Too Soon to Know (Roy Orbison)
11 Communication Breakdown (Roy Orbison)
12 Leah (Roy Orbison)
13 Oh, Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison)
14 Only the Lonely (Roy Orbison)
15 Crying (Roy Orbison)
16 Walk On (Roy Orbison)
17 Where Have All the Flowers Gone (Roy Orbison)
18 Scarlet Ribbons [For Her Hair] (Roy Orbison)
19 This Little Bird (Roy Orbison)
20 Dream Baby [How Long Must I Dream] (Roy Orbison)
21 Sweet Caroline (Roy Orbison)

The album cover features Orbison from a performance at the Palladium in London in 1966.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Tom Jones - This Is Tom Jones, Volume 3 (1969)

Here's another volume of Tom Jones singing on his TV show "This Is Tom Jones." For the previous two volumes, I suggested that the duets he did were a highlight. For this volume, that was kicked up a notch or two: ten out of 14 songs here are with other artists.

There are a lot of big names here: Bobby Darin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Wilson Pickett, the Moody Blues, "Mama" Cass Elliot, Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash, and Little Richard. (I must confess I'm not that familiar with Diahann Carroll, but she won Tony, Globe Globe and Emmy awards.) 

The one I want to draw attention to is Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY). How weird is it that those guys did a duet with Tom friggin' Jones?! Jones sang lead on David Crosby's "Long Time Gone." What's even more interesting is how good it is. You can find a YouTube video of the performance, which has over 2 million views as I write this (in March 2022). There are thousands of comments, and nearly all of them are full of praise. One I particularly liked said, "Am I crazy or is this one of the greatest live rock and roll performances of all time?" In :Shakey," a biography of Neil Young, Young's manager Elliott Roberts said CSNY was embarrassed about appearing with Jones, who was the epitome of cheesy at the time. Roberts said that Young ripped him about it for years afterwards. But if you watch the video, it looks obvious to me that CSNY were smiling widely and having a good time. Stills in particular seemed inspired by the competition and sang his vocal part an octave higher than he usually did.

Of course, Jones was the epitome of cheesy - as "show-biz" as it gets. But he also was a damn good singer. And look at the list of classic songs here, and the legends he sang with. There's lots of good music here.

This album is 45 minutes long.

01 You Keep Me Hangin' On - More Today than Yesterday (Tom Jones & Diahann Carroll)
02 Let It Be Me (Tom Jones)
03 Worried Man Blues - Aquarius-Let the Sunshine In (Tom Jones & Bobby Darin)
04 Fly Me to the Moon (Tom Jones)
05 Long Time Gone (Tom Jones & Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
06 Hi-Heeled Sneakers (Tom Jones)
07 Lodi (Tom Jones)
08 Barefootin' - In the Midnight Hour - Hey Jude (Tom Jones & Wilson Pickett)
09 It's a Hang Up Baby (Tom Jones with the Moody Blues)
10 When This Battle Is Over (Tom Jones & Cass Elliot)
11 Walk the Line (Tom Jones, Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash)
12 Working in the Coal Mine- Dark as a Dungeon - Sixteen Tons - John Henry (Tom Jones & Johnny Cash)
13 Rip It Up (Tom Jones & Little Richard)
14 Send Me Some Lovin' - Good Golly, Miss Molly (Tom Jones & Little Richard)

For the cover, I wanted to get a good picture of CSNY with Jones. Unfortunately, CSNY were scattered all over the stage, and it was rare to get more than a couple of them in the frame at any one time. So I went with one of Crosby staring at Jones.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Tom Jones - This Is Tom Jones, Volume 2 (1969)

Here's a quick recap: from 1969 to 1971, Tom Jones was the host of a British TV show called "This Is Tom Jones." He sang several songs each episode, and also had musical guests who sang songs, plus he typically sang duets with the guests. This means there's a musical treasure trove of performances, all of which remain unreleased on record (though some have been released on DVD). I've found enough for six albums, though there's many more performances I've been unable to find.

As with the other volumes in this series, it's the duets that I think makes this most interesting. For this album, he sang with Salena Jones, Fran Jeffries, Cher, Stevie Wonder, and Sammy Davis, Jr. On later volumes, the number of duets will be even larger.

In terms of sound quality, all the albums in this series are about the same. Some of this is sourced from DVD and the rest is from YouTube videos. The DVD material sounds better. But I didn't use any YouTube songs that sounded dodgy.

This album is 46 minutes long.

01 That Old Black Magic (Tom Jones & Salena Jones)
02 When I Fall in Love (Tom Jones)
03 Hello Young Lovers (Tom Jones)
04 Baby, You've Got What It Takes (Tom Jones & Fran Jeffries)
05 Shake (Tom Jones)
06 Turn On Your Love Light (Tom Jones)
07 Lucille (Tom Jones)
08 The Beat Goes On (Tom Jones & Cher)
09 A Place in the Sun - Uptight [Everything's Alright] - Nothing's Too Good for My Baby - It's Not Unusual (Tom Jones & Stevie Wonder)
10 Autumn Leaves (Tom Jones)
11 See Saw (Tom Jones)
12 What the World Needs Now (Tom Jones & Sammy Davis, Jr.)
13 You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You & I Got a Woman (Tom Jones & Sammy Davis, Jr.)
14 Love Me Tonight (Tom Jones)
15 I'll Never Fall in Love Again (Tom Jones)

As I mentioned with Volume 1, for the album covers in this series, I thought it would be more interesting to show Tom Jones singing duets instead of him alone. So here he is with Stevie Wonder, when they sang the four song medley included here.

Mary Hopkin - All the Diamonds - Non-Album Tracks (1972-1973)

Here's another stray tracks album from British singer Mary Hopkin.

Hopkin had a lot of commercial success from 1968 to 1971. Then she pretty much dropped off the radar. She married music producer Tony Visconti in 1971, and soon stopped releasing any new music or performing concerts. Instead, she focused on starting a family. Only the first four songs here were officially released at the time, as the A- and B-sides to singles in 1972. Both singles stiffed in Britain and the US, although "Summertime Summertime" was a number five hit in the Netherlands. (Weirdly, it was released under the band name "Hobby Horse," but I've labeled it with Hopkin's name to keep things simple.)

If that's the case, how on Earth do I have enough material for this album? It turns out that even though she didn't release most of it at the time, she continued to do a fair amount of recording. These songs have come out on a series of archival releases that Hopkin has put out herself, decades later. The notes on these albums don't say much, but I used clues like copyright dates and lists of the musicians on the songs to figure out what years they were recorded. I may be slightly off on some of them, but I think I'm in the right ballpark.

In 1972 and 1973, Jim Croce went from being an unknown to becoming a big star, only to die in a plane crash in 1973. Hopkin must have been a big fan, because she did no less than four covers of his songs here: "A Long Time Ago," "One Less Set of Footsteps," "and "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song." She also did songs by songwriters Bruce Cockburn ("All the Diamonds") and Emitt Rhodes ("Only Lovers Decide" and "Trust Once More").

In my opinion, Hopkin was recording a lot of good music. I suspect the main reason more of this wasn't released was that she was hit with a huge amount of fame at a young age, having possibly the biggest hit of the year in 1968 when she was only 18 years old, and she decided she didn't really want to be famous. So she mostly made music just for her own enjoyment in private.

This album is 45 minutes long.

01 Summertime Summertime (Mary Hopkin)
02 Sweet and Low (Mary Hopkin)
03 Mary Had a Baby (Mary Hopkin)
04 Cherry Free Carol (Mary Hopkin)
05 For All My Days (Mary Hopkin)
06 A Long Time Ago (Mary Hopkin)
07 What a Friend You Are (Mary Hopkin)
08 Life Begins Again (Mary Hopkin)
09 One Less Set of Footsteps (Mary Hopkin)
10 Only Lovers Decide (Mary Hopkin)
11 All the Diamonds (Mary Hopkin)
12 Next Time, This Time (Mary Hopkin)
13 Trust Once More (Mary Hopkin)
14 I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song (Mary Hopkin)

I looked for good photos of Hopkin from 1972 or 1973, but there weren't any. She still did some concerts in 1972, in fact there's a good official live album of her from that year ("Live at the Royal Festival Hall 1972," which I highly recommend if you're a fan), but I guess I was unlucky. So I used a photo that from slightly earlier, though I don't know the exact year.

Lou Reed - 1971 Acoustic Demos (1971)

I recently posted an acoustic version of Lou Reed's first solo album, the 1972 album simply titled "Lou Reed." That material came from a bunch of acoustic demos he did in 1971. There are enough demos for a second album of all the other songs he had written at that time. This is that album.

As I explained with my post about the "Lou Reed" acoustic album, in 2021, an album called "RCA Acoustic Demos" was released. However, it was only on sale for one day in Britain, in order to retain European copyrights to the performances. The sound quality from this source is excellent. I've used that source for the first 23 minutes here. That includes a version of "I Love You." I put a different demo of that on the "Lou Reed" acoustic album, since I found two good ones.

That leaves six more songs at the end. These all come from bootlegs of his acoustic demos, which have been publicly circulating for years. Unfortunately, the sound quality of these are okay, but not as good as what has recently come out via the "RCA Acoustic Demos." So I've edited all of them to try to improve their sound quality a bit. That's why they all have "[Edit]" in their titles. The main thing I did was increase the volume of the lead vocals relative to the music. That way, you can more clearly hear what he's singing.

The sound quality of those six songs is variable. Generally speaking, they start sounding fairly good and then the quality declines towards the end. So if high sound quality matters to you, you might want to bail out at some point. For me, these all sound good enough for repeat listenings.

In terms of musical content, Reed put out two albums in 1972, "Lou Reed" and "Transformer." All the "Lou Reed" songs are on the other album I recently posted (with the exception of the second version of "I Love You" here). So it's not surprising that there are a bunch of "Transformer" song here - six out of the eleven songs from that album. Note though that this version of "Walk on the Wild Side" is very different. I suspect this was an early version with placeholder lyrics, since the lyrics are so strange, and clearly inferior to the final version.

Reed was on fire as a songwriter, building up a stockpile of songs he would draw on for years to come. For instance, "Kill Your Sons" would go on a 1974 album, and "Follow the Leader" would go on a 1976 album. But he also looked backwards, in that "What Goes On" and "I'm Sticking with You" were Velvet Underground songs. "I'm Sticking with You" is particularly interesting, because the Velvet Underground version that was officially released had most of the lead vocals by the band's drummer Moe Tucker, whereas here you get to hear the song's author sing it. But perhaps most interesting of all is "So in Love" because this song has never been officially released in any form.

There are many more acoustic demos Reed recorded that are on bootleg and I haven't included here. That's because the "RCA Acoustic Demos" versions sound much better, and the performances are only slightly different. I included all the songs I could find that weren't on that release.

This album is 39 minutes long.

01 Perfect Day (Lou Reed)
02 I'm So Free (Lou Reed)
03 I'm Sticking with You (Lou Reed)
04 New York Telephone Conversation (Lou Reed)
05 I Love You (Lou Reed)
06 She's My Best Friend (Lou Reed)
07 Kill Your Sons (Lou Reed)
08 Hangin' 'Round (Lou Reed)
09 Goodnight Ladies [Edit] (Lou Reed)
10 So in Love [Edit] (Lou Reed)
11 Oh, Jim [Edit] (Lou Reed)
12 The Kids [Edit] (Lou Reed)
13 Walk on the Wild Side [Edit] (Lou Reed)
14 What Goes On - Follow the Leader [Edit] (Lou Reed)

For the album cover, I wanted a photo of Reed from the time period that fit with the acoustic demo nature of the album (as opposed to him being on stage with an electric guitar and glam make-up). I didn't find any really good color ones, but I found a black and white one I liked that comes from an interview he did in January 1972. Since I try to avoid black and white album covers, I colorized it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Lou Reed - Lou Reed - Acoustic Version (1971)

In 1972, Lou Reed started his post-Velvet Underground solo career with the album simply titled "Lou Reed." Personally, I think it's one of his best solo albums, because his songwriting was a peak. But it's also a flaw album, due to bad production. To give you some idea, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe from the progressive band Yes are prominently featured all over it. There's nothing wrong with the musical skills of those two guys, but it shows the producer was trying to turn the music into something that didn't fit.

Anyway, just a few days ago (as I write this in March 2022), I found out that in late 2021, an album of Reed's 1971 acoustic demos was officially released, called "RCA Acoustic Demos." You probably haven't heard of this, because it was only released for literally a day in Britain in order to retain the legal rights to the performances, due to the way European copyright law works. I love acoustic versions of songs, so it was a no-brainer for me to post that stuff here. However, it was a long album, over an hour, and I decided to break it in two. I noticed that every single song from the 1972 album "Lou Reed" was played on it, so I've made a version of that album using those acoustic versions. For all the other songs, I've made a second album, which I will be posting shortly.

Technically speaking, one song here is not from that source, "I Love You." I found two acoustic versions of that song. One is from the "RCA Acoustic Demos," and the other is the last song on the "Peel Slowly and See" Velvet Underground box set. Even though that is billed as a Velvet Underground performance, it really was just Reed and his guitar. So I've put that version here, and the other version will go on the other album I'll be posting.

Eight out of the ten songs here were originally done by the Velvet Underground. He essentially cleaned out most of the songs that band never got around to recording, allowing him to put out an album of mostly new tunes later in 1972, "Transformer." So if you think his Velvet Underground stuff is great, which it is, and "Transformer" is great, which it is, you can see why I think this is an excellent album too. But if you have an issue with the production, this allows you to hear it in a completely different way.

This album is 34 minutes long. The sound quality is excellent all the way through.

01 I Can't Stand It (Lou Reed)
02 Going Down (Lou Reed)
03 Walk and Talk It (Lou Reed)
04 Lisa Says (Lou Reed)
05 Berlin (Lou Reed)
06 I Love You (Lou Reed)
07 Wild Child (Lou Reed)
08 Love Makes You Feel [Ten Feet Tall] (Lou Reed)
09 Ride into the Sun (Lou Reed)
10 Ocean (Lou Reed)

For the album cover, I zoomed in on one section of the official cover and enlarged that. Then I added the same text at the top of his name.