A New R&B Holiday Classic – Kelly Finnigan – A Joyful Sound on Colemine Records – A Deeper Dive (into the snowbank)

As a fan of Christmas and holiday music, like many, I tend to stick with the classics. “White Christmas” from Bing Crosby, “Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer” by Gene Autry, “The Christmas Song” from Nat King Cole. That said, what is considered “classic” today at one time was a new holiday song. For example, “Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney, which by any account is a classic Christmas song came out in 1979. A Charlie Brown Christmas album by The Vince Guaraldi Trio originally came out in 1965. George Winston’s December came out in 1982.

My point is that new Christmas music comes out each year, and aside from very well-done covers of the classics (“Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” by Springsteen, Stevie Nicks’s version of “Silent Night”) attempts at new Christmas songs are generally tricky propositions. A good Christmas song is more than just holiday adjacent lyrics with some sleigh bells slapped on it for good measure, though scads of this seem to be the norm.

So, when Colemine Records, my favorite R&B label out of central Ohio announced that Kelly Finnigan was releasing a record of Christmas and Holiday songs, I was really interested to hear it. The legacy of Colemine Records stems from acts influenced by all of the big R&B labels: Motown, Stax/Volt, Atlantic, Philadelphia International, Philles, Chess, and the list goes on. Most of these labels put out Christmas records at some point (Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You and Altlantic Records Soul Christmas, being two legendary examples), so it stands to reason that Colemine would know what the bar would be for a great record.

Kelly Finnigan is a bit of a secret weapon for Colemine Records. The Bay Area musician, songwriter and producer is a recent addition to the amazing Monophonics on keys and vocals and whose 2020 album It’s Only Us is start to finish a brilliant record with a huge lush sound. His solo album The Tales People Tell from 2019 was a strong debut with Finnigan playing most of the instruments on the record, which took over two years to complete. I recently noticed that he’s a co-writer on one of my favorite Colemine singles “Next To You” by Gene Washington & The Ironsides.

You’d think that with a strong 2019 solo release and the new Monophonics record that would be enough new music, but he is closing 2020 out with a Christmas record– A Joyful Sound which came out on Tuesday digitally with the general vinyl and CD releases coming out on December 11th.

For this album, Finnigan wrote or co-wrote most of the songs. In a couple of cases, he retooled some R&B chestnuts to be Christmas songs.

He took the gospel song “Somebody Watching You” by Indianapolis group Sacred Four and made “Santa’s Watching You” maintaining the fantastic driving James Brown heel shuffling rhythm.

The other track is from a really obscure Detroit R&B record “To Be Young” recorded by The Magic Tones. The re-boot as “To Be Young At Christmas” is a tastefully polished track, and unless you knew the original track, you wouldn’t think this wasn’t a Christmas song from the start.

My favorite song on the album, though is the heart-wrenching “No Time To Be Sad” which was the first song I heard from the album and pushed me to pre-order it instantly. That french horn, FTW. Holy crap.

I got in on the pre-order, which was a red and white swirled vinyl and came with a slipmat matching the tartan pattern of the record as well as a CD. I got the wonderful news that these pre-orders have shipped! The regular releases will come out on 12/11 and include a regular black vinyl version as well as an indie record store Christmas tree green pressing.

With so many fantastic releases coming out of Colemine, it isn’t surprising that they’d have a strong holiday release like A Joyful Sound. This is an essential release for R&B fans and Christmas music fans alike.

(Upcoming Release) Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2 : 20th Anniversary Edition for Black Friday RSD – A Deeper Dive

Cover Art for the 20th Anniversary Reissue of Aimee Mann’s Bachelor No. 2

I’m a sucker for earnest songs about heartbreak. Clearly.

When I watched Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Magnolia, I was struck by the songs from Aimee Mann. Like many, I was familiar with her band, the MTV darlings Til Tuesday, but I hadn’t really kept up. Though, there wasn’t much to keep up with. The classic yarn of a band breakup followed by a couple of brilliant solo albums that her label didn’t know what to do with caused her to crash land in 1999 with no label and a record in the can that wouldn’t be released.

As the story goes, Paul Thomas Anderson was moved enough by the demos of this album to craft Magnolia around it and get some more songs from her. He connected to Mann through her husband Michael Penn who scored Anderson’s first two films. She got an Oscar nom for “Save Me” (a song that was written for the film).

I rewatched Magnolia recently. A horrific storm called a “derecho” blew 130+ MPH winds across Iowa, removing over 65% of the tree cover of Cedar Rapids and knocking power out for days and cell service and internet for weeks. Once power was restored, my wife and I still didn’t have internet and cell service was spotty, so we took to digging through our sadly-neglected collection of DVD’s and Blu-Rays for stuff to watch. We hadn’t seen it probably since I bought the DVD when it came out in 2000. The film’s three hours is not an easy watch, and twenty years later the heavy-handedness of the story arc and plot devices seems almost dated. Considering this was Anderson’s carte blanche film following the breakout success of Boogie Nights, it’s apparent he was pulling out all of his directorial tools for this. The soundtrack and score of the film end up being an essential part of the narrative with songs belonging to the characters, the culmination of which is when the film pauses for the characters to sing “Wise Up.”

This part of the film was a real lump-in-the-throat moment for me and how I became a fan of this soundtrack and Bachelor No. 2. I wrote an article back in 2008 proposing a mix people could make of the two CD’s to make a perfect version of the album.

Bachelor No. 2 was released in May 2000 on Mann’s own record label Super-Ego Records. It included “How Am I Different,” “Deathly,” and “You Do” from Magnolia. “Nothing Is Good Enough” appears on the soundtrack as an instrumental. Interestingly, “Wise Up” was originally intended for the film Jerry McGuire. A really great article breaking down the soundtrack by A/VClub by Alex McLevy makes the observation that in a literal sense the song says that the film “is not going to stop” until the characters wise up. Certainly the scene in the film where the characters sing “Wise Up” is a point of inflection.

According to the Wikipedia article on Bachelor No. 2, Mann secured a distribution deal after selling the album from her website and Soundscan data as of 2008 showed that 230,000 copies had been sold.

In 2006, Mobile Fidelity Soundlab corrected sin of this album not existing on vinyl by pressing a limited run of 200g half-speed mastered LP’s based on the original US CD (which means it doesn’t have “Save Me” on it in place of “Driving Sideways” as the UK version did). These days copies of this are running around $200 and I was keeping an eye out to see if any might show up for a deal.

Thankfully, Aimee Mann is reissuing Bachelor No. 2 for its 20th anniversary for Black Friday Record Store Day as a 2 LP expanded version taking the original album and adding the Magnolia songs at the end. (this approach makes sense since it is a reissue of Bachelor No 2 primarily, but I think my mix is more fun) as well as a re-recorded version of “Wise Up.” Looking at Amoeba’s website, it will be priced at a reasonable $34.98. This is being touted as an “RSD First” which means that it will be generally available after RSD, though it’s hard to tell if the 4000 copies they’re showing is the total of all of the pressings or just what is available for RSD.

It will be interesting to hear that new version of “Wise Up.” If I had to guess, it probably removes the drum machine. In the press release she mentions that she “used a lot of drum loops” and nowhere is it more apparent than on “Wise Up.” Though for me, that works great.

The Super Ego Records twitter account posted the packaging:

The packaging is really nice with what appears to be a version of the cover art that looks like someone practicing calligraphy over it. The green vinyl and labels are gorgeous.

Here is the track listing from The Vinyl District (which had it by sides).:

Side A

  1. How Am I Different
  2. Nothing Is Good Enough
  3. Red Vines
  4. Optimist

Side B

  1. Deathly
  2. Ghost World
  3. Calling It Quits
  4. Satellite

Side C

  1. Save Me
  2. Driving Sideways
  3. Just Like Anyone
  4. Susan
  5. It Takes All Kinds

Side D

  1. One
  2. Wise Up Re-record
  3. Momentum
  4. Build That Wall
  5. You Do

(Upcoming Release) New West Records Reissues Seminal Pylon Albums and Limited Pylon Box Out 11/6/2020 – A deeper dive

Pylon Box – Colored vinyl version limited to 500 out 11/6

On August 26th, New West Records announced that they will be reissuing the first two Pylon albums as well as an extensive box set with the two albums, an LP of extras and an LP called “Razz Tape” of a recording that pre-dates the albums along with a gorgeous 200-page hardbound book.

For the uninitiated, Pylon was a band from Athens, GA that started in the late 70’s by some art school students at the University of Georgia. For context in the larger history of Athens bands, they’re post-B-52’s and contemporaries of R.E.M. Their distinctively angular and beat-heavy sound would be described as post-punk and follows a path blazed by New York City bands like Talking Heads and Television.

The first phase of their career started in 1978 and after two albums on the now-defunct label DB Recs Gyrate and Chomp and enjoying some well-deserved exposure supporting bands like R.E.M. U2 and Mission of Burma on tours, they split up in late 1983.

Pylon would have just been a footnote in the history of the Athens music scene if it hadn’t been for the 1987 documentary “Athens, GA Inside/Out” which turned leagues of R.E.M. fans like myself on to the band. R.E.M. also recorded a cover of the Pylon song “Crazy” and released it as a b-side to “Driver 8” and it was the first track on Dead Letter Office, a collection of outtakes and b-sides. Peter Buck said in the liner notes, “I remember hearing their version on the radio the day that Chronic Town came out and being suddenly depressed by how much better it was than our record.”

The jittery energy of the live version of “Stop It!” with the militant growled vocals by Vanessa Hey was like nothing I’d ever heard before and even though it was the R.E.M. songs that drew me to the film and soundtrack, it was the Pylon track that ended up being my favorite part of that soundtrack. (Honestly, I always kind of felt like R.E.M. sort of phoned in their contribution with that Everly Brothers cover…)

Pylon reunited and in 1989 released a compilation called Hits which had notable tracks from the two albums as well as some tracks from singles. In 1990 they released another studio album Chain.on Sky Records. They went on tour with R.E.M. and then split up again in 1991. The band reunited for shows sporadically over the years that followed until they finally broke up for good after guitarist Randy Bewley passed away in 2009. Vanessa Briscoe Hay fronts a Pylon tribute band “Pylon Reenactment Society” along with members of other area bands and have even recorded a couple new songs.

In 2007 DFA Records, owned by Tim Goldsworthy of UNKLE and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem reissued Chomp and Gyrate on CD with bonus tracks . Titled Gyrate Plus and Chomp More, they went immediately out-of-print and the CD’s are now super-expensive in the secondary market. So, clearly there is demand for this catalog to be reissued again.

For Black Friday Record Store Day in 2019, New West Records sort of tipped their hand in the matter by reissuing Pylon’s debut single “Cool”/”Dub.” I reached out to the label about whether they were going to reissue the albums and at the time they confirmed it, but weren’t going to announce anything for a few months. Then COVID happened which messed up record manufacturing, so I’m guessing that’s why the announcement happened much later for the albums and the box set.

The box set comes in two versions, black vinyl and a limited-to-500 colored vinyl version. Four 140g LP’s include new remasters of Gyrate and Chomp, an LP of Extras which include singles, b-sides and other rarities, and Razz Tape, which is a recording of the band which pre-dates their 1979 debut single recorded in their practice space by Chris Razz. 47 tracks total with 18 of them unreleased.

Since they aren’t also reissuing the 1989 compilation Hits which also included some non-album tracks and there were extra tracks on the DFA releases, how do the tracks compare and what are we missing with the box set?

We’ve seen “Cool,” “Dub,” “Crazy” single mix and the “Danger!!” remix from the !! import EP on Hits and the DFA reissues as I indicate below. We have two completely new songs “Untitled” and “3×3” plus a couple of new mixes of “Danger III” and “Spiders.” Not to mention all of the new versions and tracks on the Chris Razz tape.

Notably missing are some tracks included on the DFA reissues. “Crazy (Original Version)” on the Chomp More reissue seems to also be referred to as the single version. “Yo-Yo (Pylon Mix)” or “Male version” (it has slowed-down versions of the vocals) and “Gyrate (Pylon Mix) are two versions that were recorded during the tracks that were recorded at Mitch Easter’s Drive-In, but the versions that were used on the album came from the sessions at Channel One. We’re also missing the 6-minute version of “Beep” that is called “Four Minutes.”

Interestingly, “Functionality” was listed on the Gyrate Plus reissue as a “Studio Demo.” But the liner notes say it was recorded in 1979 in their practice space in Athens, GA, so that is from the Razz tape.

Here are all the tracks for the boxset and the breakdown of where the Extras have been released before:

Gyrate LP

  1. Volume 04:13
  2. Feast On My Heart 03:35
  3. Precaution 02:48
  4. Weather Radio 02:16
  5. The Human Body 03:11
  6. Read A Book 02:02
  7. Driving School 03:53
  8. Gravity 02:37
  9. Danger 05:38
  10. Working Is No Problem 03:29
  11. Stop It 03:06

Chomp LP

  1. K 04:32
  2. Yo-Yo 04:14
  3. Beep 03:23
  4. Italian Movie Theme 02:01
  5. Crazy 03:13
  6. M-Train 03:48
  7. Buzz 02:58
  8. No Clocks 02:57
  9. Reptiles 03:56
  10. Spider 03:58
  11. Gyrate 04:06
  12. Altitude 03:19

Extras LP

  1. Untitled – New track
  2. Cool – from Cool/Dub debut single, also Gyrate Plus and Hits
  3. Dub – from Cool/Dub debut single, also Gyrate Plus and Hits
  4. Recent Title – from Hits
  5. Danger!! (Danger Remix) – from !! EP also Gyrate Plus
  6. Crazy (Single Mix) – from “Crazy” single and Hits and probably Chomp More.
  7. Reptiles (Channel One Version) – New version
  8. No Clocks (Channel One Version) – New version
  9. Spider (Alternative Mix) – New version
  10. 3 x 3 (Live) 02:19 – New track
  11. Danger III (Live) – New track

Razz Tape LP – all new tracks except “Functionality”

  1. The Human Body 03:08
  2. Modern Day Fashion Woman (Version 1)
  3. Read A Book (Instrumental)
  4. Working Is No Problem
  5. Precaution
  6. Cool
  7. Functionality – from Gyrate Plus
  8. Efficiency
  9. Information
  10. Dub
  11. Modern Day Fashion Woman (Version 2)
  12. Danger
  13. Feast On My Heart (Working Version)

Pre-order the box set from New West Records HERE or at their Bandcamp site (where you can stream some of the tracks).

(Upcoming Release) TWINS – Dream On – New single “So Far Gone”

TWINS : Oustanding in their Field

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Cedar Falls band TWINS released Square America, a manifesto of guitar riff-filled adolescent desire. It picked up from where 2014’s Tomboys on Parade left off– pulling pages from Rockpile, Cheap Trick and Big Star’s recipe books.

In those four years since the last album, TWINS sustained a lineup change and apparently a crash course in adulthood somewhere along the way. If you’ve seen TWINS or Joel Sires live in recent years you’ll have noticed the songs have switched focus. The songs still hang on the fantastic hooks the band is known for, but now with some introspection and willingness to let Joel Sires’s lyrics take precedent.

I was commenting to someone recently that the 2014-2016 shows seem like ancient history and even though the songs on their latest album Dream On (out June 5th) are new, Joel’s been playing them out for, I think, over three years. So, for some of us these songs are already like our favorite worn in shoes. Familiar and cozy.

In some regards, this approach of working the songs out live before hitting the studio is a similar process to one Springsteen, an obvious influence, was doing during the heyday of E-Street. The band played many songs live before the album came out and the fans came to anticipate the songs on the albums. We don’t see that a lot these days since the process for an album is typically in secret until BAM! The load is blown on release day and everyone is left to sort out if it was good or not while they collectively smoke a cigarette.

If you haven’t seen the band in action recently, the addition of Ben Rendall on keys and Toby Sires on lead guitar fills the sonic landscape of the band nicely.

It’s Time to Play B-Sides is honored to be able to debut the 2nd single from Dream On: “So Far Gone.” Joel Sires says this about the song:

It was one of the last songs I wrote for the record. I had been catching up on the news and whatever new crisis was unfolding at the time was particularly disturbing, even though I can’t tell you specifically what it was now, and had me worried about the current state of affairs and the future of our country. So I went downstairs and wrote this song in about five minutes without the intention of it being for the band or really for anything. Mostly just to make myself feel better. Nevertheless I played it for them and they took it in a whole different direction, sort of this swampy Stonesy groove you hear on the record was all their creation.

Be sure to pre-order Dream On from TWINS from their Bandcamp page (which includes vinyl!):

(Upcoming Release) Blue Note Records Releases Lost 1959 Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers Album on 4/24 : “Just Coolin'” : A Deeper Dive

Cover Art for Lost 1959 album Just Coolin’ out April 24th on Blue Note Records

We’re treated to yet another “lost” album from the jazz archives, this time from the extensive Blue Note Records archives. On April 24th Blue Note will be releasing an originally rejected release titled Just Coolin’ from a March 8, 1959 session recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Hackensack, NJ. This session was dropped due to the fact that four of the six tracks recorded overlapped with At The Jazz Corner of the World (not to be confused with the 1960 2 LP Meet Me At The Jazz Corner of the World with Wayne Shorter) album recorded by Alfred Lion at Birdland in NYC just over a month later on April 15th, 1959. Split over two volumes, the first was released in 1959, and the second in 1960.

Drummer Art Blakey’s legendary Jazz Messengers band had a lot of lineup changes during its 35 year run. The period from 1958-1964 is generally regarded as the most notable run for the band. Blakey pulled together a band of Philly natives: Lee Morgan (trumpet), Benny Golson (tenor sax), Bobby Timmons (piano), and Jymie Merritt (bass). This is the band that Blakey had on his Blue Note Records debut Moanin’ (Blue Note 4003), recorded in October of 1958 and released in January of 1959. Following the sessions for Moanin’, the band hit the road for an extensive tour of Europe producing the live albums 1958 – Jazz Olympia (on Fontana) and Art Blakey et les Jazz-Messengers au club St. Germain (on French RCA) among other later releases (mostly unofficial) that came out in the 1970’s to capitalize on Blakey’s departure from releasing albums as changing tastes in modern music turned away from his music.

By the time Blakey returned to the studio with Alfred Lion in March 1959, Benny Golson left the band for Art Farmer’s sextet, which included Bill Evans on keys (check out Modern Art for the results of that). Golson was replaced by Hank Mobley who had been a member of the first Jazz Messengers from 1954-1956. Mobley stayed with the Messengers during this third iteration of the band long enough to get this session and Jazz Corner of the World recorded before he was arrested in 1958 for possession of narcotics and spent the rest of the year in prison (only the first of stints he would do, unfortunately). Mobley was replaced by Wayne Shorter, who was hired after Lee Morgan ran into him at The Toronto Jazz Festival in July of 1959.

Ultimately, the replacement of Mobley with Wayne Shorter resulted in two of my favorite albums in the Jazz Messenger catalog: the 1961 release A Night In Tunisia, and the very-underappreciated (in my opinion) 1962 album Mosaic.

Mobley spent a brief stint in Miles Davis’s band as a replacement for the departed John Coltrane starting in 1961. But that pairing never really resulted in the partnership that Davis was missing with Coltrane. He appears on the studio album Someday My Prince Will Come (which somewhat awkwardly also features Coltrane) and two live albums : Friday and Saturday Nights Miles Davis In Person at the Blackhawk, San Francisco and Miles Davis at Carnegie Hall.

Just Coolin’ is an album that documents a brief interval in the changing lineups of The Jazz Messengers, but an important one nonetheless. Hank Mobley wrote three of the songs for the album, and they also appear on Jazz Corner of the World: “Hipsippy Blues,” “M&M,” and “Just Coolin’.” The early reviews suggest that the studio takes lack the energy and possibly the polish of the live versions, but the inclusion of two previously unheard songs pique the interest of fans and present a kind of “what if” scenario with Mobley had he been able to continue with the band.

The first track we get to hear is the previously unheard Bobby Timmons composition “Quick Trick.”

Here is the track listing for Just Coolin’ with YouTube links to the four versions from At The Jazz Corner of the World fso you can get an idea of what the other songs will sound like.

SIDE 1
Hipsippy Blues (Hank Mobley) Live version
Close Your Eyes (Bernice Petkere) Live version
Jimerick (unknown)
SIDE 2
Quick Trick (Bobby Timmons)
M&M (Hank Mobley) Live version
Just Coolin’ (Hank Mobley) Live version


(Upcoming Release) Hiss Golden Messenger Collects Pre-Merge Catalog and Rarities In ‘Devotion’ Box Set Out 11/2/2018

News of a new Hiss Golden Messenger release was nestled discretely in a new interview with frontman M.C. Taylor in The Atlantic today. The article mentioned that he’s also working on a new album, keeping up with the nearly-yearly release schedule he’s been maintaining. The article is a nice snapshot of where he is these days, balancing the demands of home life and working musician. The article provides a quick history of Taylor’s career, which is probably new information for many who are only familiar with his recent releases.

This blog started around the time of his previous band The Court & Spark’s last release Hearts in 2006. In fact, I think my review of it might have been the first or second review I did. Just over a year later the band called it quits and Taylor and Scott Hirsch started working on the nascent version of Hiss Golden Messenger. At the time I was exchanging messages on MySpace with Taylor and he sent me rough mixes for what would be the first studio release Country Hai East Cotton. The article in the Atlantic describes it as “[not] bad, just listless.” When I was still in regular communication with Taylor, I used to suggest that he resurrect those songs live, but it was clear he was drawing a line in the sand of his catalog. His 2010 release Bad Debt represented a reboot of his songwriting. He’s quoted in the article: “I had to figure out how to sing a song that I meant, that I could carry around every night for months or years. I didn’t have that when I was in my late teens. I sure as shit didn’t have it in my 20s,” he says. “When I made Bad Debt it felt like I wrote the book of my life. I had never had that feeling creating music before.”

So, this is where the new boxset from Merge Records Devotion: Songs About Rivers and Spirits and Children starts. Due out 11/2, it is a gorgeously appointed package with the three main Hiss Golden Messenger releases that were released on the Paradise of Bachelors label (Bad Debt (2010), Poor Moon (2011), and Haw (2013)) plus a collection of rarities called Virgo Fool. The three albums have been out of print for a while and are now remastered for this box set and will be offered also as regular releases in the Merge catalog with new similarly-themed cover art. Here is what Merge says about the box:

“Individually numbered in a one-time pressing of 2,200 of each format, the four-album set is housed in a beautiful cloth-wrapped slipcase with three-color foil detailing and includes an exclusive foldout poster. Each CD is packaged with liner notes and complete lyrics inside a mini-gatefold wallet with a debossed cover. Each LP, pressed on black vinyl, includes a two-sided insert with liner notes and full lyrics plus a download card, all inside a heavyweight jacket with a debossed cover.”

For the ardent HGM collectors among us, the chance to get the rarities on one LP is worth the price of admission– it is only available in physical format in the box sets. Here is the track list for Virgo Fool along with where the tracks came from:

1. Rock Holy – From the Merge Records 25th Anniversary 7-inch box set Or Thousands of Prizes
2. Black Country Woman – Led Zeppelin cover from the Mojo Magazine compilation Mojo Presents Physical Graffiti Redrawn
3. Joyce & Joel – previously unreleased, but “Joyce & Joel Martin” are credited as being the house where “Brother Do You Know the Road” was recorded.
4. Lion/Lamb – Not sure if this will be the same version, but this song was included on the Root Work, Live on WFMU LP.
5. Father Sky – From the 2012 compilation of outtakes called Lord, I Love The Rain.
6. Issa – Haw outtake included in the digital only Glad EP. We’re missing the other original song “Roll River Roll” from that collection.
7. Back to the River Again – previously unreleased
8. Tell Everyone – Ronnie Lane cover from Lord, I Love The Rain.
9. Karen’s Blues – from Lord, I Love The Rain
10. The Revenant – Michael Hurley cover from Lord, I Love The Rain
11. Hard Promises – previously unreleased

Not one to give it all away, we’re missing a few rarities that maybe we’ll see collected in the future:

“Shiloh Town” : a Tim Hardin cover that was included on a split 7″ with Moviola. RSD 2012 limited to 200.

“Fennario” : a Michael Chapman cover which was included in the tribute album Oh Michael, Look What You’ve Done: Friends Play Michael Chapman. Was also included in the Glad digital EP.

“Brown Eyed Women” from the Day of the Dead Grateful Dead tribute.

“Lion of Judah” : a cover of Clive’s Original Band song. Included on the Glad digital EP.

“The Beast and Dragon, Adored” : Spoon cover from the digital only Or Thousands of Prizes covers collection.

“My Cousin’s King” – Elephant Micah cover from the shared split 7″

“I Wish I Had Not Said That” (JJ Cale cover), “Still Life Blues” (Elephant Micah cover), “Smoke Rings” (David Wiffen cover) from the Three-Lobed Recordings split LP with Michael Chapman as part of their Parallelogram series of collaborative releases.

“Jesus Dub” : Dub version of “Jesus Shot Me In The Head” that was the b-side to the RSD 7″

“Passing Clouds”/”Passing Clouds Dub” – Hiss Golden Messenger meets Spacebomb benefit 7″

There might be other songs I’m forgetting. I like the other songs on the Lord, I Love The Rain, so those could show up on a future collection.

(Upcoming Release) David Sylvian’s Dead Bees On A Cake Gets *Another* Vinyl Reissue With Bonus 10/19/18

 

From Universal/Virgin Records:
“Following on from the phenomenal success of the RSD 2018 white vinyl edition of David Sylvian’s album from 1999, we now present the album on 180 gram black vinyl for the first time. Now expanded with the addition of four non-album tracks, “The Scent of Magnolia”, “Albuquerque (Dobro #6)”, “Cover Me With Flowers” and “Aparna and Nimisha ( Dobro #5)”. The artwork differs from the RSD edition and features a photograph by David’s ex-partner Ingrid, plus some rare photographs by Anton Corbijn.”

I’ll admit that I’ve been occasionally searching the internet to see if Universal would do a regular reissue of one of my favorite David Sylvian albums Dead Bees on A Cake since they did the UK/Australia/Canadian Record Store Day reissue, that I reported on HERE. In a Steve Hoffman forum discussion about the RSD release someone said that there was going to be a black vinyl version of it coming, so rather than bid on the eBay auctions which are running up over US$100, I just kept hopefully waiting. People were reporting bad pressings of the white vinyl version, too.

Yesterday a few places mentioned the release, including a post from Sylvian’s Facebook page:

Some people complained about the original artwork which was a picture of Sylvian and then-wife Ingrid Chavez. It’s a shot similar to the back cover on this release. I’m not sure why they are not using the original artwork.

Like the RSD pressing (which was limited to 1000) the expanded edition takes the release to 2 LP’s by adding four non-album tracks: “The Scent of Magnolia”, “Albuquerque ( Dobro #6 )”, “Cover Me With Flowers” and “Aparna and Nimisha ( Dobro #5 )”. All four of these tracks were included on the 2000 compilation Everything and Nothing.  “The Scent of Magnolia” was the single released with that compilation and is one of my favorite songs from this period and is really completes this album. The “Dobro” tracks feature guitar work from Bill Frisell.

There is also a PledgeMusic Page for it, so you can pre-order the release now for $28.50, but the shipping from the UK to the US is $12.00. When I used PledgeMusic to order the new Calexico, at least I could justify the postage due to the fact that I was getting the unique City Slang pressing (which was signed, too) that had a bonus 12″ with extra songs. This will be a big enough release that I should be able to wait for the always awesome ImportCDs.com to carry it, and if they put it on their eBay site, then the shipping is free.

(Upcoming Release) Tom Petty : An American Treasure Career-Spanning Box Set Out 9/28 : A Deeper Dive

The big news from the Tom Petty camp is the announcement of a new 60-track career retrospective called Tom Petty: An American Treasure. It comes in three physical formats, one is a 4 CD version that includes an 84-page hardcover book (available only through tompetty.com) there is also a 4 CD version without the hardcover book. Additionally, there is a 6-LP version of it that doesn’t include the hardcover book, which comes out on Black Friday Record Store Day on 11/23, coincidentally (though likely not– it is probably an “RSD First” release, which means it is a regular release, and not limited to RSD).

The box set has a mixture of album tracks, outtakes and alternative versions and live tracks. In some ways this box set is the sequel to the 1995 Playback box set which focused on studio songs, outtakes, unreleased and b-sides. This set mixes in some live tracks like the 2009 The Live Anthology did. An American Treasure is a fairly complimentary addition to those collections.

With the assistance of posts on Steve Hoffman Forums and Mudcrutch Farm Tom Petty forums, I started taking a look at what is on this box in greater detail. There is some disappointment from folks due to the 18 album tracks and the bit of overlap with the Playback boxset and tracks that were available on Highway Companion bonus downloads. That said, there is a treasure trove of new stuff here. The album tracks are kind of deeper tracks from albums that haven’t been focused on before. And– surprise– no “Free Fallin'”!

Here is a breakdown (so to speak) of the new tracks on here. This is the full track list, so I’ve included the album tracks, but didn’t provide any commentary on those. I also provide some thoughts about possible future archive releases.

CD 1

Surrender (Previously unreleased track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sessions—1976) – The first place we heard this song in any form was on 2000 release Anthology: Through the Years.  The version on this compilation was a new recording of the song created specifically for this release (and was the last studio recording of Howie Epstein before his death, according to Wikipedia). In 2009 we got a version on The Live Anthology as a live performance from June 11, 1983 from Irvine Meadows. In 2010 a studio version of this song was added to the Deluxe Edition reissue of Damn The Torpedoes. We don’t know yet whether the version here is the same version that was included on that reissue, since Damn The Torpedoes was, according to Wikipedia, recorded between 1978 and 1979.

Listen To Her Heart (Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA—November 11, 1977)
Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll (Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA—November 11, 1977)

These two tracks came from a radio broadcast on KWST FM 106 in Los Angeles. This recording has been floating around as a widely-traded bootleg.

When The Time Comes (Album track from You’re Gonna Get It!—May 2, 1978)
You’re Gonna Get It (Alternate version featuring strings from You’re Gonna Get It! sessions—1978) Unheard version from what I can tell.

Radio Promotion Spot (1977)

Rockin’ Around (With You) (Album track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers —November 9, 1976)

Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It) (Alternate version from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers—1976)

Breakdown (Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA—November 11, 1977) See above.

The Wild One, Forever (Album track from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers—November 9, 1976)

No Second Thoughts (Album track from You’re Gonna Get It!—May 2, 1978)

Here Comes My Girl (Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions—1979) Not on the Deluxe Edition of Damn The Torpedoes!

What Are You Doing In My Life (Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions—1979) Not on the Deluxe Edition of Damn The Torpedoes!

Louisiana Rain (Alternate version from Damn The Torpedoes sessions—1979) Not on the Deluxe Edition of Damn The Torpedoes!

Lost In Your Eyes (Previously unreleased single from Mudcrutch sessions—1974) On the 1995 Playback box set, we got a few Mudcrutch sessions tracks (“On The Street”, “Depot Street”, “Cry To Me”, “Don’t Do Me Like That”, “I Can’t Fight It”) but this is a new one. There is a bootleg that collects all of the Mudcrutch sessions from 1974 and 1975 which doesn’t include the Playback tracks, but does include this (other Mudcrutch songs that haven’t seen official release: “Another Lonely Night, “Don’t It Get Weird”, “You’re Driving me Crazy”, “She’s A Screamer”, “Parade of Loons”, “Makin’ Some Noise”, “You Don’t Care”, “Don’t Bring me Down”, “Save Me”, “Don’t Make It Any Easier”, “Long way From Home”, “Once Upon a Time Somewhere”, “Country Girls Run Dry”)

CD 2

Keep A Little Soul (Previously unreleased track from Long After Dark sessions—1982) The first single from this box set, and is the download you get for the pre-order.

Even The Losers (Live at Rochester Community War Memorial, Rochester, NY—1989) No songs from this show are on The Live Anthology, so this is an unheard track.

Keeping Me Alive (Previously unreleased track from Long After Dark sessions—1982) A version of this song is on Playback. Is this a different take?

Don’t Treat Me Like A Stranger (B-side to UK single of “I Won’t Back Down”—April, 1989) Not part of the b-sides on Playback.

The Apartment Song (Demo recording (with Stevie Nicks)—1984) From Playback.

Concert Intro (Live introduction by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Forum, Inglewood, CA—June 28, 1981)
King’s Road (Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA—June 28, 1981)
Clear The Aisles (Live concert announcement by Tom Petty, The Forum, Inglewood, CA—June 28, 1981)
A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me) (Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA—June 28, 1981)

In 1981 during the Hard Promises tour, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers played a three-night run at The Forum in Inglewood, CA: June 28-30th. Tracks from this run have appeared before. The two duet tracks with Stevie Nicks on the live album Pack Up The Plantation: Live (“Insider” and “Needles and Pins”) were from one of those nights (I haven’t found setlists for those shows yet). The Live Anthology has a bunch of songs from those nights:

“Ladies and Gentlemen…”, “Nightwatchman.” (June 30, 1981)
“A Thing About You” (June 28, 1981)
“Breakdown” (June 30, 1981)
“A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)” (June 29, 1981)
“The Waiting” (June 28, 1981)
“Good, Good Lovin'” (June 30, 1981)
“I Need To Know” (June 29, 1981)

In my opinion, at the risk of redundancy, they could do a Grateful Dead style boxset encompassing all three nights, since clearly they have very high quality recordings of those nights.

Straight Into Darkness (Alternate version from The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA—May 5, 1982) A version we haven’t heard.

You Can Still Change Your Mind (Album track from Hard Promises—May 5, 1981)

Rebels (Alternate version from Southern Accents sessions—1985) As someone on the Mudcrutch board observed,  the sessions for Southern Accents were “problematic” and Petty broke his hand punching a wall during them in frustration. Maybe this will be a very different version of “Rebels” due to all of the recording they did trying to get the album completed.

Deliver Me (Alternate version from Long After Dark sessions—1982) This is a new outtake we haven’t heard.

Alright For Now (Album track from Full Moon Fever—April 24, 1989)

The Damage You’ve Done (Alternate version from Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) sessions—1987) Another new version we’ve not heard.

The Best Of Everything (Alternate version from Southern Accents sessions—March 26, 1985) 

Walkin’ From The Fire (Previously unreleased track from Southern Accents sessions—March 1, 1984) New version.

King Of The Hill (Early take (with Roger McGuinn)—November 23, 1987) – Interesting inclusion. Petty co-wrote this with Roger McGuinn for his Back From Rio album.

CD 3

I Won’t Back Down (Live at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA—February 4, 1997) Tom Petty performed an epic 20-night sold out run from January 10th to February 7th, 1997 at The Fillmore in San Francisco. This was the 20th anniversary of the band.  We also have some songs on The Live Anthology from this run:

“Diddy Wah Diddy” (2/1/97)
“I Want You Back Again” (2/7/97)
“Friend of the Devil” (2/7/97)
“Jammin’ Me” (2/7/97)
“Goldfinger” (1/31/97)
“County Farm” (2/4/97)

Similarly to the run of shows at The Fillmore in 1981, we could get a boxset of these shows. That would be pretty amazing.

While we’re talking about it, they did another residency at The Fillmore in 1999, from March 7th to the 16th. The nights of the 15th and 16th created the High Grass Dogs : Live at The Fillmore film.

Gainesville (Previously unreleased track from Echo sessions—February 12, 1998) Too new to be included in Playback— but I’m looking forward to hearing other tracks from the under-appreciated album.

You And I Will Meet Again (Album track from Into The Great Wide Open—July 2, 1991)
Into The Great Wide Open (Live at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena—November 24, 1991) 

No 1991 tour songs at all on The Live Anthology.

Two Gunslingers (Live at The Beacon Theatre, New York, NY—May 25, 2013) This is the same version that was on the Highway Companions fanclub download Live 2013 and on the Kiss My Amps Vol. 2 Record Store Day vinyl release.

Lonesome Dave (Previously unreleased track from Wildflowers sessions—July 23, 1993)
To Find A Friend (Album track from Wildflowers—November 1, 1994)
Crawling Back To You (Album track from Wildflowers—November 1, 1994)
Wake Up Time (Previously unreleased track from early Wildflowers sessions—August 12, 1992)
Grew Up Fast (Album track from Songs and Music from “She’s the One”—August 6, 1996)

Oh boy. The hopeful amongst the Tom Petty faithful are now looking at 2019 as the 25th anniversary of Wildflowers to get the expanded version with “All The Rest.” So, now we have what is likely some of the tracks that would have been included in the promised expanded edition of Wildflowers here in this box set. I just hope Wildflowers: All The Rest comes out before I die.

I Don’t Belong (Previously unreleased track from Echo sessions—December 3, 1998) More cool unheard stuff from Echo.
Accused Of Love (Album track from Echo—April 13, 1999)
Lonesome Sundown (Album track from Echo—April 13, 1999)

Don’t Fade On Me (Previously unreleased track from Wildflowers—sessions—April 20, 1994) See above.

CD 4

You And Me (Clubhouse version—November 9, 2007) This is a song from The Last DJ. The Clubhouse is the Heartbreakers rehearsal and gear storage space. I’m sure there’s lots of interesting recordings from The Clubhouse we haven’t heard.

Have Love Will Travel (Album track from The Last DJ—October 8, 2002)
Money Becomes King (Album track from The Last DJ—October 8, 2002)

Bus To Tampa Bay (Previously unreleased track from Hypnotic Eye sessions—August 11, 2011) Oooh. Hypnotic Eye outtakes!!

Saving Grace (Live at Malibu Performing Arts Center, Malibu, CA—June 16, 2006) The 2006 tour was a strong one– it also generated the “Live From Gatorville” show and they played Bonnaroo.

Down South (Album track from Highway Companion—July 25, 2006)

Southern Accents (Live at Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL—September 21, 2006)
Insider Live (with Stevie Nicks at O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL—September 21, 2006)

“Live From Gatorville” or “One 30th Anniversary Concert from Gainesville, FL” which was a pay-per-view (I think) and then the bonus DVD included with the “Runnin’ Down A Dream” documentary. These songs are from this. We got a bunch of songs from this show on The Live Anthology: “I’m A Man”, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, “Southern Accents” (so this is repeated here)

Two Men Talking (Previously unreleased track from Hypnotic Eye sessions—November 16, 2012)
Fault Lines (Album track from Hypnotic Eye—July 29, 2014)
Sins Of My Youth (Early take from Hypnotic Eye sessions—November 12, 2012)

Cool to hear more from the Hypnotic Eye sessions.

Good Enough (Alternate version from Mojo sessions—2012)
Something Good Coming (Album track from Mojo—July 15, 2010)

I would have thought that there would be more alternate and outtakes from Mojo, since it seemed like they were jamming more. Nevertheless, it will be cool to hear something from those sessions.

Save Your Water (Album track from Mudcrutch 2—May 20, 2016)

Like A Diamond (Alternate version from The Last DJ sessions—2002) 

Hungry No More (Live at House of Blues, Boston, MA—June 15, 2016) This was previously released on the Highway Companion club download The Very Best Performances of the 2016 Mudcrutch Tour live Mudcrutch compilation.

An American Treasure seems like a really thought out tribute to Tom Petty, even though it’s kind of a mixed bag. The inclusion of album tracks and other tracks that have been released elsewhere makes it not exactly a perfect collection for die-hard fans of Petty. The album tracks it does have, don’t include any hits, so it’s not really for the casual fan either. For a Tom Petty completist like me, it’s one to add to the collection, even if it is kind of a compromise.


(Upcoming Release) Lost Coltrane Session from 1963 Will Be Released June 29th : A Deeper Dive

Impulse! Records is calling it “The Holy Grail of Jazz.”

On March 6, 1963, jazz sax legend John Coltrane brought his quartet with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums to Rudy Van Gelder’s studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ to record a session. The group was in the middle of a  two-week engagement at Birdland in New York City and getting ready to record the John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album on the 7th. Apparently, the band came into the studio on the 6th with the intention to record an album, as the sessions show they recorded multiple takes of some songs as they refined the tracks. These sessions are now packaged with the help of Coltrane’s son Ravi and will be released in a single album release of selected takes and a two album deluxe release with additional takes as Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album on June 29th.

For some unknown reason these sessions never produced an album. The press release from Impulse! says, “The other non-original composition on the album is “Vilia,” from Franz Lehár’s operetta “The Merry Widow”. The soprano version on the Deluxe Edition is the only track from this session to have been previously released.” The Deluxe Edition also gives us no less than four studio takes of “Impressions” which would make its first official catalog release in 1963 on Coltrane’s second album on Impulse! of the same title as a live version from The Village Vanguard in 1961. During these March 6th sessions “Impressions” was called “Untitled Original Composition” but in fact, these are newer arrangements of the “Impressions” takes from June 20th, 1962. From the 1962 sessions, Take 2 was released on the 2001 Impulse! CD The Very Best of John Coltrane. Strangely, the version on Amazon has a totally different track listing than the one that matches the catalog number on discogs and doesn’t list that take of “Impressions” on it. But, the cover art pictured does show it.

But, the very exciting songs on this release are the brand new original compositions which only have working titles: the descriptively titled “Slow Blues” and two tracks identified only by their matrix numbers, “Untitled Original 11383 (Take 1)” and “Untitled Original 11386 (Take 1).”

The press release from Impulse! said the original master tapes had been destroyed because “Van Gelder wasn’t one for clutter.” Sax legend in his own right and labelmate on Impulse!, Sonny Rollins, pens the liner notes for this release. His Official Facebook page gives a slightly different take on the fate of the tapes saying, “The master tape left in the studio was lost, and it’s likely it was destroyed in the early 70s when the label, Impulse!, was trying to reduce storage fees.”

The tape that was used for this release was a copy on 1/4″ tape that producer Bob Thiele gave to Coltrane to take home. The New York Times reports that the tapes were recently discovered by the family of John Coltrane’s first wife Juanita Naima Coltrane.

According to a poster on Urban75.net, these tapes were part of a collection of tapes the family tried to auction off in 2005, but was blocked by Verve/Universal because they contained recordings that were recorded for Impulse! and as such weren’t owned by Coltrane. Musicologist and jazz historian Barry Kernfield had been hired to catalog the tapes for the auction by the auction house Guernsey’s who was doing a MASSIVE jazz auction including historical artifacts. An article Kernfield posted to his website details the effort:

In September 2004 the New York City auction house Guernsey’s asked me to serve as a historical consultant, cataloguer, and writer in preparation for its first jazz auction, to be held February 20, 2005, at the new jazz venue at Lincoln Center. The auction embraced materials from the estates of John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Benny Goodman, Eric Dolphy, and Gerry Mulligan, as well as items from Louis Armstrong in the possession of his manager Oscar Cohen (who became president of Associated Booking Corporation following Joe Glaser’s death in 1969), and various images and a trumpet from a living musician, Clark Terry.

Early in December 2004, as Guernsey’s head Arlan Ettinger related it to me, Naima Coltrane’s daughter Saida* (also known as Antonia Andrews) and Saida’s brother Jamail Dennis were delivering paper items to the auction house: musical manuscripts in John Coltrane’s own hand; a letter from Bill Evans to John Coltrane just after Evans quit Miles Davis’s sextet; a postcard from Wayne Shorter, in Marseilles, to Mr. and Mrs. J. Coltrane (“Europe is a drag. I mean really. Just another gig and a place to practise and/or rehearse.”); Shorter’s hand-drawn portrait of Davis; and so forth. At this point, Jamail said to Arlan, “Oh, we have some tapes. Would you be interested in them?” “TAPES?!,” replied Arlan.

During the last three weeks of 2004 I had the unbelievable privilege of identifying and cataloguing the contents of digital copies of 35 reel-to-reel tapes, the contents of which proved to be mainly unreleased recordings by John Coltrane for Impulse! Records at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, from 1962 to 1964. I submitted my essay to Guernsey’s the evening of January 2, 2005. Coincidentally the following morning Guernsey’s phoned to report that attorneys for the Impulse! label had just threatened a lawsuit if the reels were not withdrawn from the auction. This was done, and accordingly the essay that appears below was withdrawn from the auction catalogue.

His following list of the archive includes the session from 1963 that makes up Both Directions At Once, but also other interesting outtakes that we hope will also see the light of day. He lists recordings including “perfect 10-inch stereo copies of the master tapes of all six takes (four complete and two fragments) of the presumed lost sextet version of the first movement of A Love Supreme.” The presumed lost full sessions that produced the aforementioned John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album (and without, apparently, the echo that was added to the original release), and lots of alternate takes of other Coltrane originals and rehearsals he taped at home. I’m guessing that the material for the 2015 “Super Deluxe Edition” of A Love Supreme came from this trove of tapes.

This release is for very good reason very exciting. The recordings capture Coltrane’s Quartet reaching the peak of their powers less than two years before his signature epic A Love Supreme. Looking over the details and listening to the track that is available now, it’s in my opinion a more complete release than the hodgepodge that the Impressions album was and while not as essential as his landmark releases, one that belongs in a collection, I think.

The deluxe vinyl version is really nice, with die cut jackets which expose the photos on the inner sleeves.

Here is a nice review from one of my favorite vinyl video blogs, Vinyl Rewind:

 

(Upcoming Release) David Sylvian’s Dead Bees On A Cake Gets UK RSD 2 LP White Vinyl Reissue With Bonus 4/21/18

 

This year’s Record Store Day list seems to have a lot more interesting releases than previous years– or at least more things I’d consider picking up. One release that is coming out for Record Store Day, but unfortunately not in the U.S. is the (at least for me) long-awaited reissue of David Sylvian‘s 1999 sequel to 1987’s Secrets of the Beehive (another favorite of mine). Dead Bees on a Cake was a return to solo for Sylvian after 12 years of collaborations with the likes of Robert Fripp in Sylvian/Fripp (which was kind of a successor to their collaboration on Return to Earth), two albums with Can’s Holger Czukay, and the abortive quasi-reunion of Sylvian’s first band Japan as Rain Tree Crow.

Dead Bees was recorded while Sylvian was living in Minneapolis with his then-wife Ingrid Chavez (who is pictured on the new reissue album artwork) and echoes the very personal and intimate songwriting that he had for Secrets. A beautiful and sprawling work, it collects pretty much every style of music he had dabbled in leading up to it and introduced some new Eastern spiritual themes not previously represented on his albums. In some ways this is the last album that would feature more conventional song writing from Sylvian. The releases that followed have been a lot more experimental in nature. While I enjoy those releases from him, Dead Bees On A Cake is the album I’ll always go back to because I identify with these songs more.

The UK RSD reissue of Dead Bees On A Cake has brand new cover art using photos from Anton Corbijn and designed by Chris Bigg of v23 fame. Bigg and Vaughan Oliver were the groundbreaking graphic design house for a lot of albums– primarily identified with 4AD records, but they also did the cover art for Secrets of the Beehive. Pressed in complimentary white, the reissue represents the first vinyl version of this album, and expands it to 2 LP’s by adding four non-album tracks: “The Scent of Magnolia”, “Albuquerque ( Dobro #6 )”, “Cover Me With Flowers” and “Aparna and Nimisha ( Dobro #5 )”. All four of these tracks were included on the 2000 compilation Everything and Nothing.  “The Scent of Magnolia” was the single released with that compilation and is one of my favorite songs from this period and is really completes this album. The “Dobro” tracks feature guitar work from Bill Frisell.

Here is what Sylvian said about the reissue on Facebook:

It’s a bummer that we’re not getting this release in the U.S., so I’ll just have to see if I can get one of these for a deal.