Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Grateful Dead - Ramblin' Rose


American Beauty and Wake of The Flood are respectivelly the fifth and sixth Grateful Dead studio albums, but were recorded three years apart from each other, something unusual to the incredibly productive band. In the "inactive" years of 1971 and 1972 they put out two incredible live albums, "Skull & Roses" (originally to be titled Skull Fuck), and "Europe '72". The both have some songs that are unreleased in studio form, and considering the lenght and sheer awesomeness of the songs, they're more than enough for a quality Dead LP. The Dead didn't actually stay away from the studio, with both Garcia and Weir's solo albums actually being recorded by the band (but I'll probably compile them together into one entity in a next post). So, what I'm trying to do here is: put together a 1972 "new tunes" only album, with the best songs sourced from the Europe '72 and Skull Fuck tours. There aren't any covers included, seen that the album with originals only was already pretty long. And their latest other albums, such as the two albums released in 1970. The album wil have four songs a side, about the norm for them, and all inedit live tunes. Robert Hunter even talks about this album, which was to be called "Rambling Rose" and to be the last part of a trilogy, along with American Beauty and Workingman's Dead, with the same style throughout. So here's what I came up with:

Side A
  1. Bertha
  2. Ramble on Rose
  3. Mr. Charlie
  4. Tennessee Jed
Side B
  1. Jack Straw
  2. He's Gone
  3. Brown-Eyed Woman
  4. Wharf Rat
Kicking off Side A we have "Bertha", recorded at NY's Fillmore East in March 1971, followed by our semi-title track, "Ramble On Rose", this time recorded in the Lyceum Theatre, London. Up next is Pigpen's "Mr. Charlie", also recorded in the Lyceum Theatre, and we finish off the side with "Tennessee Jed", from the Olympia Theatre, Paris. Side B kicks off with "Jack Straw", from the Olympia as well, and is followed by "He's Gone", tracked in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. The last two numbers of the album are "Brown-Eyed Women", from the Tivolis Koncertsal, Copenhagen, and the epic "Wharf Rat", the second and last song on this album to come from the 1971 album. The album clocks at about 48 minutes, with even-sided 24 minute album sides, and quite a lot of fantastic tunes. But you may ask me: what about "Playin' In The Band" and "One More Saturday Night"? They were both recorded and released in the two live albums. But I decided to exclude them for two main reasons: they were re-recorded for Bob Weir's album Ace (and probably will be included in my 1972 studio album) and there simply wasn't any space left for them: too long for a single, too short for a double! But feel free to make the changes you wish to it, and I'll probably post album No.2 in a couple of days. A live album of new songs was unusual back in the day, but artists such as Neil Young (with "Rust Never Sleeps") did it some years later, so it wouldn't be that impossible. Any thoughts? Criticism, requests, anything at all is welcome. Be sure to make any change you want to the tracklist, and see you next post!

Link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/hqgdig8v03m3ypr/AAB38Yb7z5FkQ6aZqjSNXhqia?dl=0

Sources:
- The Grateful Dead
- Europe '72

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Jimi Hendrix & The Cry of Love - People, Hell and Angels


Jimi Hendrix's last album released while he was alive, Electric Ladyland, was released a full two years before his passing in 1968, making us wonder: what did he do in those two years? Did he stay at home sleeping and watching TV? We later discovered that he was actually working on a fourth studio album, tentatively named "First Rays of The New Rising Sun", "Strate Ahead", or "People, Hells and Angels". It was also going to be either a double or triple LP, and feature all the songs he had recorded/rehearesed with either the Band of Gypsys (w/Billy Cox and Buddy Miles) or the Cry of Love band (w/Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell). But tragedy striked when Hendrix died of asphyxia after breathing his own vomit, after arriving from a party. According to most involved in the album, it was really close to being completed, and the estimated release date would be that of early 1971. We even know some hand-written drafts of the album's tracklist, but none are really complete, and some even are confusing, with a song being listed two times, for example. A single album, titled "Cry of Love", was released posthumously in mid 1971, featuring only nine songs from the sessions and "My Friend", recorded during the 1968 sessions for Electric Ladyland. Other releases like that followed, none really trying to create what he originally intended. Until in 1997 Hendrix's estate finally attempted to reconstructing the album, with "First Rays of the New Rising Sun", commiting the same mistakes as it's precedents. A confusing tracklist, the inclusion of songs not from the original sessions, uneven sides, all that contributing to the thoughts all JH fans have every now and then: what if?
In my attempt, I try to create a triple album version of the sessions, including almost everything that was recorded by then, under the name "People, Hell and Angels". Doing so, I separated the three LPs by themes: People (Rock N' Roll and Pop), Hell (Blues and Funk) and Angels (Experimental and Others). Hendrix in total recorded some 35 songs during the sessions. Excluded are some too primitive, like "Sending My Love to Linda" and the bootled only "Heaven Has No Sorrow" (sometimes titled "Heaven Has No Tomorrow"), so that we have 30 tunes, 10 of each "theme". 2013's "People, Hell and Angels" has nothing to do with this, being just a compilation of previously released material and some "new" songs from the vaults. I also try to sequence it the most like his ideas, by for example starting the album with the song "Dolly Dagger", and using "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun) as one of the final tracks. I tried to stay as faithfull to the timeline as possible, not including earlier tunes or songs with later overdubs, such as the ones in the heresy-full "Crash Landing" album, from 1975. The BOG studio tunes are some that cause debate, if either they were part of the project or not. But I decided to include them for two basic reasons: the first being that during his final weeks he mixed them, along with other tunes, showing us he would probably use them, and the second beingthat due to the size of the album, we need the songs to "fill" the album, in a way. Some of the songs on Jimi's lists, such as "Locomotive", weren't even recorded, so it is pretty hard to know what would happen had he lived. But as he unfortunately didn't, we do the best we can with what we've got to imagine what would be. And here's what I envisioned:

Side A
  1. Dolly Dagger
  2. Night Bird Flying
  3. Room Full Of Mirrors
  4. Straight Ahead
  5. Angel
Side B
  1. Ezy Ryder
  2. Drifter's Escape
  3. Drifting
  4. Pali Gap
  5. Freedom
Side C
  1. Earth Blues
  2. Message to Love
  3. Beginnings
  4. Belly Button Window
  5. Hear My Train A-Comin'
Side D
  1. Steppin' Stone
  2. Bleeding Heart
  3. Power of Soul
  4. Lonely Avenue
  5. Izabella
Side E
  1. Lover Man
  2. Crash Landing
  3. Valleys of Neptune
  4. Bolero
  5. Midnight Lightning
Side F
  1. Cherokee Mist
  2. Astro Man
  3. Come Down Hard on Me
  4. Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)
  5. In From the Storm

Our first part of the album, "People", begins the same way as the Hendrix tracklist, with "Dolly Dagger", followed by "Night Bird Flying", and a song that began in early 1969, during the Experience's last sessions, "Room Full of Mirrors". Once the title track of the album, "Straight Ahead" follows, as well as "Angel", the twin song from "Little Wing", finishing Side A. Side B begins with "Ezy Ryder", followed by a Dylan cover, "Drifter's Escape", and yet another gentle ballad, "Drifting". The first instrumental, "Pali Gap", is to my ears like a segue between two songs, and fits pretty well where it stands. The first part of our trilogy ends with "Freedom", as well started during the last Experience sessions, letting us dwelve into the blues for part two. The sophomore part of the album, "Hell", begins appropriately enough with "Earth Blues", being somewhat a new version of 1968's "Somewhere", followed by BOG's "Message to Love", the instrumental "Begginings", and the slow lament of "Belly Button Window". One of my favourite of his, "Hear My Train A Comin'", was being played ever since 1967, and most certainly deserves a place as a side finisher. Another BOG song, "Steppin' Stone" was almost a single A-Side in late '69, but the single was pulled by Hendrix's request. A Elmore James cover, "Bleeding Heart" follows, as well as "Power of Soul" by the Band of Gypsys and the mostly instrumental "Lonely Avenue". Ending the second part of the album is the B-Side of the "Steppin' Stone" single, "Izabella", and we head of to where things get weird. 
The last third of the album, "Angels", begins with an earlier tune, written in 1968, "Lover Man". Followed by "Crash Landing", stripped from it's overdubs, as well as "Valleys of Neptune" and the epic instrumental "Bolero", keeping the idea of a instrumental by album. Ending the side is the quiet, guitar-and-vocals-only "Midnight Lightning", followed in the last side by "Cherokee Mist", and the novelty of "Astro Man", telling the first-person story of a superhero, followed by the three-minute throwaway of "Come Down Hard On Me". "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)" is most probably my favourite song in the whole album, and once the title track of it. Ending the whole affair in a rough and good manner is "In From the Storm", a great, intense song telling of escaping something bad. As most triple albums (there aren't many out there!), this is a sprawling, sometimes even megalomaniacal statement. There are, yes, some weak links in it, but the quality of most of the material makes it a fun, if not really long, listening experience. It would be more of an album for the hardcore fans, somewhat of a "Sandinista!" of the early 70's, and seen that I love Sandinista, I've found a home in this. Sides are about 20 minutes each, some of them run a little too longer, but not much. It's a shame that this material was never properly finished, because it is some of the best stuff he ever wrote. It's very tragic that he had to die, while creatively a new sun was rising for him.

Sources:
- The Cry of Love
- Rainbow Bridge
- War Heroes
- West Coast Seattle Boy

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Hollies - Listen to Us

By 1968, The Hollies, who were one of the best bands of the British Invasion, were in some bad times: their latest psychdelic, Nash-led albums had only been moderate successes, and the "King Midas in Reverse" single flopped. While Nash, the only member of the group that had ever tried LSD or other drugs, wanted to carry on with the psychdelism and experientation, the other group members wanted to continue with their teenybopper image, causing inumerous fights between members. After recording about 10 songs for singles and a possible follow up to "Butterfly", Nash finally had enough of the band and joined Stephen Stills and Graham Nash in CSN, taking with him two songs he had written for the Hollies (namely "Marrakesh Express" and "Lady of the Island"). The rest of the group, however, recruited rythmn guitarist and singer Terry Sylvester and soldiered on with a Dylan covers album. All that was released at the time from the sessions were two singles ("Jennifer Eccles" and "Listen to Me") and their respective b-sides. So, comes the doubt: what if they had finished the last album Graham Nash recorded with them?
From the material available to craft the album, we have three singles (the two mentioned above plus their earlier, late-'67 "King Midas In Reverse") and their b-sides, along with the two CSN songs, "...Express" and "Lady of the Island", and the outtakes released in the "Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years: The Complete Hollies April 1963 – October 1968" we have about enough to create an album: 14 songs, but one of them will be scrapped due to being absolutely horrible (yes, you guessed it, the horribly corny orchestral version of Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind"), while the other tunes, fortunately, are great. The album would be titled "Listen to Us", a bad pun with one of the singles, and the cover is a mockup of their "Hollies' Greatest" cover, released in the same year, made by me. So we have thirteen songs to sequence into a good farewell-album for Nash , so let's see what can be done with them:

Side A
  1. Open Your Eyes
  2. Do The Best You Can
  3. Relax
  4. Everything Is Sunshine
  5. Man With No Expression
  6. Like Every Time Before
  7. Wings
Side B
  1. King Midas In Reverse
  2. Jennifer Eccles
  3. Lady of the Island
  4. Tomorrow When It Comes
  5. Marrakesh Express
  6. Listen to Me

Side A starts with "Open Your Eyes", originally a b-side, it is a nice little tune, nice enough to start the album, followed by "Do The Best You Can", an outtake, and the short "Relax", originally unreleased as well. The fourth track on this side is "Everything Is Sunshine", originally the b-side to the King Midas single, and the great "Man With no Expression" follows, along with "Like Every Time Before". The side ends with the great midtempo song "Wings", originally unreleased. One of the best songs Graham Nash ever wrote, "King Midas In Reverse" is followed by the single "Jennifer Eccles", leading to a CSN tune, "Lady of the Island". Due to the fact that they did not record the song, we will have to use the CSN version, but even still it fits pretty well. "Tomorrow When It Comes", a nice psychdelic rocker comes next, being followed by the second and last CSN song, "Marrakesh Express". The Hollies went as far to recording a backing track for this one, but due to the lack of a lead vocal (I heard an attempt at sync with Nash's demo vocal and the instrumental, but it did not work well), we use the released Crosby, Stills & Nash version. Ending the album is the almost title-track, "Listen to Me". Originally a single, it is a more than apropriate ending to the LP.
Compared to their two previous albums, "Evolution" and "Butterfly", it stands as being equally good, with some highlighs like "Man With No Expression", the two CSN songs, and "King Midas...", and the fact that the terrible "Blowing In the Wind" wasn't included improves a lot on the album as well! Their singles would be the same as they were in our reality, which is pretty good. Clocking at about 35 minutes, it is a little short, but still, their previous albums had the same lenght, if not less, so we're fine. Nash's leaving was inevitable, at least to me. But now, at least he has a proper farewell, before he became a third (or a fourth, depending on the era) of one of the best groups in the world, and his original band became a pop group, with hits like "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". But during this era, all they wanted was that we would listen to them.

Link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bnl3f8v6v5l7o8h/AACwOC5M25Fknk0jRgbhfa3sa?dl=0

Sources:
- Clarke, Hicks & Nash Years: The Complete Hollies April 1963 – October 1968
- Hollies' Greatest
- Crosby, Stills & Nash

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Derek and the Dominos - Can't Sleep at Night

Derek and the Dominos entered Olympic Studios in May, 1971 to start recording their second album. Their first, the double "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs", recorded with the help of Duane Allman on lead guitar, is one of Clapton's greatest works, and considered one of the greatest double albums ever. But despite this huge success, friction at the band was at an all time high: almost the whole band was addicted to heroin, there were fights about the direction of the band (Jim Gordon, the drummer, started presenting his own material to the band, which didn't quite make Clapton happy), and general paranoia caused the tumultuous sessions to end two months after it began, without a "clear" batch of songs, and the album was scrapped. Clapton spent the two next years at home high on heroin, only to come back in 1974 with 461 Ocean Bulevard, in which Carl Radle played bass. Clapton made some few overdubs in early 1974 to some of the songs from the '71 sessions, such as a clarinet overdub in "Got to Get Better in a Little While", and some more overdubs on "High", indicating he had not given up on the material yet. Most of the session's highlights were either released in the "Layla" reissue, or the "Crossroads" box set, or even bootlegs for some, like most Jim Gordon tunes (hmmm, I wonder why?). So if we take all those tunes and put them together, there's more than enough songs to fulfill the hard task of following "Layla", considering both Jim Gordon and Eric Clapton tunes, not considering Bobby Whitlock's first solo album, mainly because it was recorded before the album sessions, and because it stands up as it's own. So, I came up with this:

Side A
  1. Got to Get Better on a Little While
  2. High
  3. It's Hard to Find a Friend
  4. Mean Old World
  5. Till I See You Again
Side B
  1. Evil
  2. One More Chance
  3. Gold Devil Road
Side A starts with probably the best song from the batch, "Got to Get Better on a Little While" that was even played live with Duane, and was a live staple for them in the late '70 - early '71 period, making it the obvious choice for a opener. Song no.2 in side A is "High", that despite some overdubs in '74, it's still fair game to include, being written and mostly tracked in the sessions, so here it is, a nice acoustic tune, followed by the first Jim Gordon-penned song, the mellow "It's Hard to Find a Friend" and a blues cover, "Mean Old World", originally by Walter Jacobs. The side closer is the last Jim Gordon number, "'Till I See You Again", a little mellow number that bares a lot of resemblances to the other JG tune. Side B opens with a song whose lyrics inspired the title of the album, "Evil", a nice bluesy number that sounds like a good side opener, at least to my ears. Followed by "One More Chance", full of some nice slide guitar work by Clapton and some solid bass playing by Radle. The album ends in dramatic fashion with "Gold Devil Road", sung by Rene Armando, a long song that starts as a gentle ballad with Armando's melancholic vocals, but it soon becomes a showcase of Clapton's guitar work, and we're totally fine with it! Probably the best song along with "...Little While" it's a more than fitting ending to an album that was doomed since it's beggining.
Not included are "Snake Lake Blues", to me a boring instrumental, and "Mean Old Frisco", that sounded too much like "One More Chance", but they maybe could appear as non-album b-sides. Following one of 1970's greatest albums is no easy task at all, but I think this album holds up to it pretty easily. It isn't as near as good as their previous one, but is still a good LP with it's highlights (and let's agree: a ok album is better than no album at all!), like "Devil Road"'s jamming. The album's lead single would probably be "...Little While", with the outtake "Mean Old Frisco" as it's b-side. Clocking at about 44 minutes with equal sides, it's interesting to see that even though the band wasfalling apart, great music was coming out of it. Carl Radle played bass with Clapton until '79, and died of kidney failure in june 80, due to alchohol and drugs. Clapton and Whitlock did not work together again until 2000, and Jim Gordon, undiagnosed schizophrenic, murdered his mother in a psychotic episode in '83, being in a mental institution till this day.

Sources:
- The Layla Sessions: 20th Anniversary Edition
- Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (Deluxe Edition)
- Crossroads (box set)
- The Last Sessions (bootleg)

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Nazz - Fungo Bat

The Nazz released their second album "Nazz Nazz", in April 1969, after travelling to England to record the album but not managing to due to the lack of work permits. Instead recording it in LA with James Lowe (former singer of The Electric Prunes) as engineer, originally to release a double album named Fungo Bat, compromising both their Who-like rock n' roll and their newest Laura Nyro-type ballads (whom Todd Rundgren was dating at the time). But the record company and the other three members of the band opposed to that idea, and with reason: why let a new band, that only released one album and has no considerable hit single release a sprawling and expensive double album? So it was decided, against Todd's wishes, that they'd separate the best songs in one album and release in that way, so, "Nazz Nazz" was born. But the release of a single album had a price, and that was Todd staying in the band. Fed up with the whole situation, he quit the band, releasing his first solo LP "Runt" and starting a successful career both as a musician and a producer. But SGC Records, his label at the moment, in a attempt to release some material in the wake of Todd's success, gathered around the rest of the songs not released in "Nazz Nazz", and put their keyboardist, Stewkey Antoni, to re-record Todd's vocals. It was then released as Nazz III (how creative!), and due to the fact that they were leftovers, and badly sequenced, made it not a very great album, nott at this great band's standards.
Both Nazz Nazz and Nazz III are lost opportunities, with the former being better than the latter, but still we wonder what if Fungo Bat had been released, and I think that the both together, resequenced would be the best possible way to hear this material, and is the way Rundgren intended it, anyway! It being released as so would also keep the group from breaking up so soon, releasing only three albums, keeping Todd around for some more time around, maybe being able to transform their Philly-area success in a bigger one in the whole country. So, what do we know would feature in the album? Firstly, the whole of Nazz Nazz, because they are from the original sessions, no later overdubs, and were considered the "best tunes", as well as the majority of Nazz III, but with Todd's vocals instead of Stewkey's. Some outtakes, namely "Sing A Song", "Love Everywhere", "Sydney's Lunchbox" and "Oxymoron", I deem either too embryonic or not good enough for the album, keeping just the original 24 songs, resequenced. I tried to keep most sides with equal 23 minute sides, and used the released sequence as a basis at times (such as beginning with "Forget All About It" and ending with "A Beautiful Song"), but apart from that, it mostly changed. And it goes like this:

Side A
  1. Forget All About It
  2. There's Only One Winner
  3. Magic Me
  4. Gonna Cry Today
  5. Meridian Leeward
  6. Under the Ice
Side B
  1. Some People
  2. Rain Rider
  3. Resolution
  4. Old Time Lovemaking
  5. Featherbedding Lover
  6. Take the Hand
  7. How Can You Call That Beautiful?
Side C
  1. Loosen Up
  2. Kicks
  3. It's Not That Easy
  4. Plenty of Lovin'
  5. Letters Don't Count
  6. Kiddie Boy
  7. Christopher Columbus
Side D
  1. Hang on Paul
  2. You Are My Windon
  3. Not Wrong Long
  4. A Beautiful Song

The album starts the same way Nazz Nazz does, with the great power-pop of "Forget All About It", followed by the pop ballad "There's Only One Winner". The rock n' roller "Magic Me" is followed by yet another ballad, "Gonna Cry Today", which is followed by the hilarious "Meridian Leeward, about a pig that became a man. "Under The Ice" finishes side A in a hard rocking fashion, starting with the airplane sounds of the latest tune's ending. Side B begins with "Some People", a nice tune, followed by the great "Rain Rider", and the gentle "Resolution", before leading way to Music Hall with "Old Time Lovemaking", returning to rock n' roll with "Featherbedding Lover". The short "Take the Hand", now with Todd on vocals, and "How Can You Call That Beautiful?" end disc no.1. The second disc in our double album begins with "Loosen Up", a short, but interesting instrumental intro, followed by "Kicks", the only cover in the album, and It's Not That Easy, with Todd's vocals once more, followed by Carson Van Osten's "Plenty of Lovin" and the sax-driven "Kiddie Boy", only to end with another Van Osten tune, "Christopher Columbus". The last side of the LP starts with the Yardbirds-sounding "Hang on Paul", followed by one of Todd's best tunes, "You Are My Window", a great ballad only released in Nazz III. The last couple of tunes are the organ-driven "Not Wrong Long", and Todd's magnum opus, the magnificent "A Beautiful Song". Maybe the greatest Nazz song ever, it is a more that fitting album closer to a schizophrenic ballad/rocker album, featuring a little of both.
Compared to the nice "Nazz Nazz" and the not-so-great "Nazz III", it is the better version, and what was intended by the group's driving force, after all. It is, as I mentioned, a kind of Schizophrenic album, always alternating ballads and heavy songs, adding some variety that the two releases were lacking, and that variety is a part of what makes it great. It is impressing how much it can be changed just by exchanging some versions of tracks and a simple re-sequence. I really hope one day Rundgren decides to re-release the Nazz discography and re-create the Fungo Bat album his own way, but right now, this is as close as we can get. As I said, all album sides clock at about 23 minutes, making the whole venture 92 minutes long, or each album with 46 minutes, the standard-practice on most double albums. It would be released around the same time as Nazz Nazz was released, and have "Sydney's Lunchbox" as a non-album b-side, possibly to a "Forget All About It" single. It would be, as their first album and Nazz Nazz were, well recieved by critics, and push the band to another level, not anymore being a Who-Yardbirds power-pop group only, showing off other more interesting sides of their musicallity. Any thoughts? Criticism, requests, anything at all is welcome. Be sure to make any change you want to the tracklist, and see you next post!

Link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2rpfzbfw0gqvnow/AACdh0f3m99X69U0uIQNqqYCa?dl=0

Sources:
- Nazz Nazz
- Nazz III
- Nazz Nazz/Nazz III: The Fungo Bat Sessions

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Paul McCartney & Wings - Water Wings

Paul McCartney & Wings planned on doing in 1977 what they had done in most of 1975 and 1976: tour all over the world, whilst recording some material here and there, just like they had done with the Wings At The Speed of Sound album. But those plans went down the toilet when Linda McCartney discovered she was pregnant in February, '77, canceling the tour and forcing the band to focus on the studio. By then, they already had tracked some songs at the Abbey Road Studios (with "London Town", "Deliver Your Children", and "Girl's School" being recorded), and decided to do something unusual: they would record while sailing in the Virgin Islands, aboard the Fair Carol yatch, and the next Wings album would be apropriately titled "Water Wings". As they stayed there, from May to June, they recorded about nine songs, which would all but one appear on the "London Town" album, but not all was well in the band: Jimmy McCulloch was frustrated with his low input on the group and the fact that they weren't a "rock band" anymore, and Joe English (the only American, along with Linda, in the group, ironically) was homesick and simply fed up with Paul's antics. Those frictions would cause both members to leave, reducing Wings into a three piece again, for the first time since Band on The Run. After arriving at London once again, the three left put the finishing touches into "Mull of Kintyre", and released it as a single, with "Girl's School" as a B-Side. It was simply the biggest selling single in the history of the UK by then, breaking the record that the very Beatles had set with "She Loves You".
One would think that the obvious thing to do would be release the Water Wings album soon after the single, with the two songs in it, to take advantage of it's success, right? Wrong. Paul, Linda & Denny spent the rest of the year overdubbing things, and recording new songs (such as "Name and Address" and the horrible "Cuff Link") to a already finalized project, and due to that, it changed completely, and not for good. Even it's title had to change: Water Wings became London Town. The finalized result was kind of a mess: the songs didn't fit well, and the single's A and B side were nowhere to be seen, and oh boy, they are missed. London Town is a lost opportunity at most, and in my humble opinion, Water Wings would be a great improvement compared to it's released counterpart. So let's try it out? Considering all recorded within the Abbey Road, Fair Carol and Aug.'77 sessions, we have 12 songs, about enough to fill up an album. Three tunes were recorded in Abbey Road (Deliver Your Children, Girl's School and London Town), one in August (Mull of Kintyre), and the rest in the Yatch. Most songs are great, with the notable exception of "Morse Moose and The Grey Goose", which I'd rather ignore completely on this reconstruction, because honestly, it sucks. So let's ignore it, shall we? With 11 good or regular tunes, I came up with this tracklist:

Side A
  1. I've Had Enough
  2. Café on the Left Bank
  3. Deliver Your Children
  4. London Town
  5. Famous Groupies
  6. Mull of Kintyre
Side B
  1. Girl's School
  2. With a Little Luck
  3. I'm Carrying
  4. Don't Let it Bring Down
  5. Waterspout

The album starts in a rocking fashion, with "I've Had Enough", originally occuping the spot of last tune in side A of London Town, it's a nice tune, and starts the LP well, followed by the synth-full "Café on The Left Bank", one of the highlights of the original album. Denny's "Deliver Your Children", the third tune in side A, is simply brilliant, a little folk-rock wonder, that along with songs like "Don't Let It Bring You Down" gives Water Wings it's flair of folk. Originally the title track, London Town here is track no.4, and is pretty similar to "Café..." in the sense of being shockfull of Synths. Probably the weakest tune on the album, "Famous Groupies" is still pretty funny, and as probably the rest of the album, is shadowed by the following track: Mull of Kintyre. One of Paul's greatest songs, it was placed on the end of the side because I consider it to bea great closing song. Side B starts with the B side (no pun intended) from the single, "Girl's School", third and last Abbey Road tune, adds a little bit more of rock n' roll to this album, something it's lacking. The second was-to-be single, "With a Little Luck" is a great pop tune, with some of i's highlights being the instrumental section in the middle, so I won't use the single edit. Song no.3 is I'm Carrying, a great acoustic tune (caught in one take), that features a little thingy called the Gizmo, that isn't really that necessary, and I wish it was guitar only. But a great song, anyway. The second to last tune is "Don't Let it Bring Down", another great song, with some touches of folk, as mentioned with "Deliver Your Children". We finish off the album with "Waterspout", originally an outtake of LT, it is a great little pop-rock song, a little bit of fun to finish the album.
Compared to it's released counterpart, it is the stronger one, mainly due the the inclusion of "Mull of..." and "Girl's School" (and the exclusion of "Morse Moose and..."!), adding some depth to a confusing and messy album. It is also the last album to feature their "classic", in my opinion, line-up, something ignored in LT's cover, only featuring the three left, something corrected here. It would be ranked higher in Paul's discography, I think. It is more concise (45 minutes, versus London Town's 53), and has better material, and would have been released in about October '77, soon after the "Mull of Kintyre" single, which compared to April '78 would sound fantastic. It would have yet another single, as well as the mentioned above, that is, "With a Little Luck". Both would chart the same way they did in real life: be smash hits. If London Town is expanded, like Venus and Mars and other albums that got deluxe editions, we may get a version of the album compiled by the man himself! And maybe we will get some stuff that would improve the album such as the rocking version of "Famous Groupies" and the guitar-only version of "I'm Carrying". The only curious thing is that Linda doesn't have a lead vocal in this album, something rare by the time, but she did record a song: "B Side to Seaside", it is the flipside of "Seaside Woman", recorded in 1972, and it only features Paul, playing all instruments, so it isn't a Wings tune per se. Clocking at about 45 minutes with even-timed sides, it would have a greater sound quality due to the LP only managing to record properly about 48 minutes, seen that the London Town album clocks at 53. Any thoughts? Criticism, requests, anything at all is welcome. Be sure to make any change you want to the tracklist, and see you next post!

Link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ylpd6lljhvp2cm3/AACyPEKcTBCYSGQ653Bn2bSqa?dl=0

Sources:
- London Town
- Mull of Kintyre/Girl's School (single)
- Cold Cuts (bootleg)

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Who - Empty Glass


Empty Glass, released in mid-1980, was Pete Townshend's first "real" solo album (the two that came before were a demo collection and a collaboration with The Small Faces' Ronnie Lane). Recorded from mid-1979 to early-1980, it was recieved very positivelly upon it's release by critics, and is still considered PT's greatest solo effort to date, spawning the hit single "Let My Love Open The Door". But in the following year, The Who, with the addition of Kenney Jones (ex-drummer from The Faces and Small Faces) and John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards, who had toured with them in 1979, recorded the album "Face Dances", which despite including the hit "You Better You Bet", was a critical failure, and comparisons to Empty Glass, it's twin album, were inevitable. The rest of the band was also dissatisfied with that, with Roger stating that he thought Townshend was "keeping the best tunes to himself", adding more to the evergrowing tensions on the group. The other members had solo projects as well, with John recording the bulk of his "Too Late the Hero" album during the time, and Roger both acting and singing on the McVicar movie and soundtrack, released in 1980. So, I ask the question: what if Townshend had released Empty Glass as a Who project? I envisioned it as a mix of his 1980 album and a couple of songs off John Entwistle's "Too Late The Hero", since the bulk of it was recorded at basically the same time as EG, excluding the McVicar tunes as they were mostly covers, and not that interesting anyway. And so I came up with this:

Side A
  1. Rough Boys
  2. I Am An Animal
  3. Dance It Away
  4. Empty Glass
  5. Too Late The Hero
Side B
  1. A Little Is Enough
  2. Cat's In The Cupboard
  3. Talk Dirty
  4. Let My Love Open The Door
  5. Gonna Get Ya

I tried to follow the original album's tracklist to the greatest extent possible, adding up the Entwistle songs in the holes left off by the excluded songs. We start off with "Rough Boys", with Kenney Jones on the drums, and even according to Townshend, Daltrey said that he would have liked to have recorded this tune as a Who tune, so that's more than enough for it's inclusion. Next is "I Am An Animal", which I consider to be too "fragile" for Daltrey's voice, and would be sung by Townshend as it is, a common practice on their albums. "Dance It Away", played in their 1979 tours after "Dancing In The Street", comes off next, being released as a B-Side by Pete in 1982. Next off is the title track, "Empty Glass", whose introduction is a perfect fit for Daltrey's voice, but with Townshend still singing the slow part of the song, a-la Baba O' Riley. The first Entwistle song on the album, "Too Late The Hero", would be included as the single-edit, since the full version would make the album side too long. But since it was released as a single, it's included in here. Kicking off side B is "A Little Is Enough", written about PT's marital problems. A strong, rocking song, such as some on side A, that doesn't actually match Townshend's voice (I still love it!), so it would benefit a lot from Roger's powerful vocals. Up next is "Cat's In The Cupboard", which was also played live by the group in their 1979 tour (I reccomend hearing the bootlegs from it), giving us more than enough reason to include it. The second and last John song, "Talk Dirty", was also a single, and a personal favourite of mine, so it is included here. John normally recieved about 1-2 songs an album (Who Are You and Face Dances are notable exceptions, with a third of each album written by him!), so this is what would normally appear. Up next, the original album's hit, "Let My Love Open The Door", is a gentle love song, that a couple of years ago recieved a cover version by Roger, which is also pretty good! Seen that he liked it enought to cover it, it guarantees it's spot here. The last song, the rocking "Gonna Get Ya", reminds me of "Cry If You Want", in a way, and would be a great, rocking song, to the style of their old 70's anthems, a great way to finish a overall good album. Any thoughs? I was considering putting a download link, but seen as this is mostly imaginative and theoretical, I don't think there would be much of a use. Any request or criticism is welcome, and I'm more than willing to attend/hear it!

Guns N' Roses - Garden City


 Guns N' Roses tried to record a follow-up to the Use Your Illusion albums from 1994 to 1996, but the inner fighting and disagreements about the direction of the band (Axl wanted the band to make songs more "like Nine Inch Nails" while the others just wanted to play some Hard Rock) prevented that from happening. So while they failed to produce anything release-worthy, the fighting only increased and led to the departure of all members, except Dizzy Reed and Axl, in late 96. Duff and Matt mentioned in interviews back in the day that the album would feature "about 10-12 tracks, without ballads", which gives us at least an idea of what could have been. Some demos that Slash recorded and showed to Axl, who didn't like them, became Slash's Snakepit's debut album, "It's Five O' Clock Somewhere", which was recorded with other three GN'R members (Dizzy, Matt & Gilby), what almost makes it a Guns N' Roses album itself! Duff's first album, Believe In Me, was recorded during the UYI tour in 1993, and featured many collaborations with other band members (The Spaghetti Incident's "New Rose" was recorded during the sessions). Gilby Clarke also released a solo album, and West Arkeen (the "honorary member" of the band) had a album released under the name "The Outpatience", and both featured GN'R members. So my mission is: select all the songs from those albums that feature input/playing from two or more members of the band, and put them together into a fifth studio album as they were planning to do. It won't feature any Izzy solo tunes, seen that he left the group in Sept. 1991, and Gilby would be a "official member" of the group. Let's see if it works out as an album by the world's most dangerous band, since they themselves weren't able to create one. Here's what I came up with:

Side A
  1. Neither Can I
  2. Anxious Disease
  3. Just Not There
  4. Soma City Ward
  5. 10 Years
Side B
  1. Believe Me
  2. Doin' Fine
  3. Man In The Meadow
  4. Tijuana Jail
  5. Beggars & Hangers On
We kick off things with Slash's "Neither Can I", a powerful tune that if you try you can almost hear Axl singing it. The song features the three GN'R/Snakepit members, and is one of the best tunes in the album, in my opinion. What follows is The Outpatience's "Anxious Disease", featuring both Slash on guitar and Axl on the backing vocals, and written and sung by West Arkeen, the "seventh gun". The first Duff song on the album, "Just Not There", features bandmember Slash, and follows strictly his "no ballads" rule. Another Slash tune, "Soma City Ward" features the songwriting and guitar of Izzy Stradlin, who despite having departured from the band still wrote with them, so it's fair game. Closing off our first LP side is the second Duff tune, "10 Years". Titled very closely to a UYI 2 tune also sung by him, it features Gilby Clarke on guitar and backing vocals. Kicking off the second side of our album is yet another Duff track, his albums title-track, "Believe In Me", featuring Slash on guitar and Matt on the drums, followed by Slash's "Doin' Fine", a personal favourite, featuring the three GN'R guys who also played with the Snakepit. The third song on side B is Man In The Meadow, with guitar work done by West Arkeen, as well as co-writing the tune. We all know West isn't a "real" member, but still, having co-written songs such as "Yesterdays" or "The Garden", he's as important to the band as the other six. A Gilby Clarke tune, "Tijuana Jail", comes next. Featuring backing vocals by Axl and guitar by Slash, I consider that since he was a member of the group, he would be allowed to collaborate on songs such as this. A song of his, "Monkey Chow", was included in the Slash album, so it's pretty possible. Closing off our album is the track "Beggars & Hangers On". Featuring co-writing with Duff, it's one of the most GN'R-like songs on the album, along with "Neither Can I", fitting to close off the album. Clocking at about 48 minutes, it fits perfectly into a LP, which was getting outdated by then, but I still use the format, anyway. To be released probably in early '95, it's a strong album, and I think it would be pretty well-recieved, with it's sound "not as overblown as UYI, and not as raw as Appetite". I also add two non-album b-sides, "Dime Store Rock" and "Dead Flowers", by Slash & Gilby, who are two nice tunes that didn't fit the album. The album is titled "Garden City", the supposed name of the album, as said by the time. A myth or hoax, probably, but I'll stick with it anyway, because it sounds good enough to be a name. And the only person dissatisfacted with the album would be Axl, who was trying his hardest to turn the band in the second-coming of NIN. Not trying to criticize him (NIN is one of my favourite bands), but this creative difference was one of the things that led to the band's demise, in the first place. Any thoughts? Be sure to criticise, or request, all you want!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

The Small Faces - 1862


The Small Faces released their landmark album, "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake", in early 1968, to massive critical and commercial acclaim, and the album is to this day considered one of the masterpieces of the summer of love, together with albums by the kinds of Traffic, the Beatles or Jefferson Airplane. But despite all that acclaim and success, not all was well between the members of the band: Steve Marriott, the lead guitarrist and singer, was very dissatisfied that the band could not play the "Happiness Stan" suite, from Ogden's side b live, and had tried to bring Peter Hampton, his future bandmate at Humble Pie, to "keep things fresh", failing to convince his bandmates the addition would be a good thing. Ronnie Lane was also tired of only singing a couple of tracks on the albums and wanted a larger input in the group. And finally, after a disastrous new-year's eve concert in 1968, Steve called it quits and left, forming Humble Pie with the afomentioned Frampton. The rest of the band, however, joined Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart, ex-Jeff Beck Group and ceased to be Small.
   But soon before Steve finally had enough of it all, they recorded a couple of tracks, including a Tim Hardin cover, for a fourth album, provisionally titled "1862". The songs, about nine, were released across a single ("The Universal" & "Donkey Rides..."), a b-side ("Wham Bam..."), and in the compilation The Autumn Stone, titled after one of the unreleased songs, along with some horrid live tracks, from which we'll keep distance! Also available are songs from the Faces' first album written by Lane, and Humble Pie's "As Safe as Yesterday Is" tunes written by Marriott, to fill the other 3/4 necessary tunes for an album. Not included are four songs rumoured to be part of the 1862 project, "Don't Burst My Bubble", "Picaninny", "Take My Time" and "War of the Worlds", the first three because they were recorded in February 1967, a whole two years befoure the album would even start taking shape, and "WOTW" because I consider it some instrumental filler, and there already are two instrumentals in consideration for the album!
   Toby Marriott, Steve's son, has claimed that the proposed tracklist was: The Autumn Stone, Red Balloon, Collibosher, Buttermilk Boy, Wrist Job, Wide Eyed Girl on The Wall, Donkey Rides... and War of The Worlds. But to me, that claim sounded pretty absurd, actually. An album with nine songs only, three of them instrumentals, and zero Plonk songs? There's no way that would have been released, from a commercial and artistic point of view. So, I decided to stick with their latest album's arrangement: 12 songs, and about two or three Ronnie songs (more than the one given to him on ONGF), fitting into two even-timed LP sides. Unfortunately, there is no one-side concept this time! Considering all the songs mentioned above, we have about 13 or 14 songs to rearrange into a good 40-minute LP. And here's what I came up with:

 Side A
  1. Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall
  2. Call it Something Nice
  3. Red Balloon
  4. Wrist Job (I'll Go Alone)
  5. Hello the Universal
  6. Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am
Side B
  1. Buttermilk Boy
  2. Evolution
  3. Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass
  4. Every Little Bit Hurts
  5. Growing Closer
  6. The Autumn Stone


   We kick things off with the fantastic "Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall", serving the same purpose as "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake", the song, on the album of the same name. It has some incredible horns, and is a great start to an album. Following it is the Lane composition "Call It Something Nice", which only has that title because the engineer asked it's title, to which Lane and Marriott responded "call it something nice!", and he apparently took it literally. It's a great folksy tune, that shows Ronnie was right in asking for more input. The third tune is the Tim Hardin cover "Red Balloon", which doesn't differ a lot from the original, appart from McLagan's great organ playing. After that is the first non-SF tune, "Wrist Job", retitled "I'll Go Alone" for American release. The reason it is included is that it started off as "The Pig Trotters", a 1862-era instrumental, to which Marriott added lyrics and released with HP, giving us a good reason to think that if he hadn't stormed out of the group it would be done the same way. The fifth tune, "Hello the Universal", most of you know simply as "The Universal", which was an error in the single's title, "Hello..." being the original name, so we stick with it. Another folk number, it was recorded mostly in Marriott's backyard, and we can hear his dog, Seamus (that's the dog) barking. Their last authorised single, it would also be a single here, the only thing changing would be it's b-side. Closing off our album side is "Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am", a great rocker that was the b-side to their "real" last single, "Afterglow". It has a version with different lyrics and title, but even though I like it best than the single one, we stick with the released version. A crashing rocker, it finishes side A with style, and is a classic Marriott vocal.
   Side B starts with the second of three Humble Pie tunes, "Buttermilk Boy", included here because of it's similarrity with other SF material from that era, and because it is a personal favourite of mine. Track No.2 is "Evolution", first released in Pete Townshend's "Who Came First" album/compilation, being an embryonary version of "Stone" from "First Step", and simply put, great. The second reason Plonk shouldn't have been that put aside. Following is "Donkey Rides, A Penny, A Glass", with lyrics that would confuse any American, and also a great tune, which I still don't get. Next up is "Every Little Bit Hurts", a fantastic piano-driven cover that reassures the Small Faces' roots on Rn'B, with Ian McLagan shining. The second-to-last track, we have Humble Pie's Growing Closer, that was actually written by Ian, who was in doubt between joining the Faces or the Pie (now THAT'S a tough decision). The reason in picking the tune is just that, and the fact that it sounds similar to other tunes from the era, and even sharing the flute player with the next track, which is "The Autumn Stone". One of my favourite SF tracks ever, it's fantastic from start to finish, and great enough to finish off their career, in my opinion.
   A giant mix of hard-edged rock n' roll and folk, passing by Rn'B and instrumental rock by the way, with the usual English humour in some tracks, 1862 would be a fantastic The Small Faces LP, ending a great, but unfortunately short, career in a magnificent  way. The album's singles would be The Universal (since it was in real life), and Wham Bam (because it's damn awesome), with their b-sides being respectivelly Collbosher (the ninth SF track, kept out because there already was an instrumental), and "If I Were A Carpenter", from the BBC sessions, recorded in June '68. With it clocking at about 42 minutes, common in that time's LPs, I consider that the album would have a similar, if not better, acclaim compared to Ogden's, with its afomentioned mixture of hard rock and folk, bringing up the best of both worlds in the Small Faces universe, Plonky and Steve. Only lacking the fantastic singles that were "Afterglow" and "Lazy Sunday", "Universal" and "Wham Bam" are still great songs, and can still live up to themselves as SF singles (After all, even Mad John was a single!). Any opinions? Criticism, requests (This blog will be dedicated exclusively to reconstructing albums such as this), anything at all is welcome. Be sure to make any change you want to the tracklist, and see you next post!

Link: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4izrk5lzcf9h4g7/AAAGq_aNrs5ROla5vYCCFCYCa?dl=0

Sources:
- The Autumn Stone (Small Faces)
- Singles A's & B's (Small Faces)
- As Safe As Yesterday Is (Humble Pie)
- The BBC Sessions (Small Faces)
- Who Came First (Pete Townshend)