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:
Feast On My Heart 03:35
Weather Radio 02:16
The Human Body 03:11
Read A Book 02:02
Driving School 03:53
Working Is No Problem 03:29
Stop It 03:06
Italian Movie Theme 02:01
No Clocks 02:57
Untitled – New track
Cool – from Cool/Dub debut single, also Gyrate Plus and Hits
Dub – from Cool/Dub debut single, also Gyrate Plus and Hits
Recent Title – from Hits
Danger!! (Danger Remix) – from !! EP also Gyrate Plus
Crazy (Single Mix) – from “Crazy” single and Hits and probably Chomp More.
Reptiles (Channel One Version) – New version
No Clocks (Channel One Version) – New version
Spider (Alternative Mix) – New version
3 x 3 (Live) 02:19 – New track
Danger III (Live) – New track
Razz Tape LP – all new tracks except “Functionality”
The Human Body 03:08
Modern Day Fashion Woman (Version 1)
Read A Book (Instrumental)
Working Is No Problem
Functionality – from Gyrate Plus
Modern Day Fashion Woman (Version 2)
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).
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.
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 TheJazz Corner of the World fso you can get an idea of what the other songs will sound like.
UPDATE: The 2020 COVID pandemic resulted in the standard April Record Store Day being canceled in favor of three “Record Store Day Drops” August 29th, September 26th, and October 24th. All of these are Saturdays, incidentally. The original Record Store Day list has been split up over these three dates. It’s worth noting that Black Friday Record Store Day (Friday, November 27th) has not been changed, yet, and is kind of a 4th “Drop” I suppose, coming a month after the last Drop.
The Miles Davis Double Image: Rare Miles from the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions will be released on the 3rd drop on October 24th.
The 2020 Record Store Day List came out this week, and I’m pleased to report that Sony is continuing the trend of releasing compilations of Miles Davis outtakes that they started for the 2019 Black Friday RSD Early Minor release for the In A Silent Way sessions. This release titled Double Image: Rare Miles from the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions, takes the unreleased studio recordings from the 1998 Columbia boxset The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions.
Sony is stepping up their game with this release. It is a two LP gatefold with opaque red LP’s. Bull Moose Records (kind of the original home of RSD) shows their list price as being $25.97 (note: this price went up $1 since it was originally announced in March) which is a pretty fair price for such a nice presentation. According to the RSD site, there will be 6000 pressed worldwide.
Like many people, my first exposure to Miles Davis’s catalog started with his groundbreaking 1959 album Kind of Blue and by most accounts this is the album most people wanting to get into Davis or jazz in general should start with. Wanting to dig further into his catalog I went earlier in his career with his pre-modal style Prestige Records catalog, then moved into his early Columbia career with albums like Round About Midnight (1957), Sketches of Spain (1960) and Someday My Prince Will Come (1961). At the time I was aware of Bitches Brew, but it took a long time for me to really appreciate the album, initially seeming too cacophonous and lacking any discernible structure. For me it took listening to the Chicago jazz artists like The Chicago Underground Ensemble/Chicago Underground Trio and bands on Delmark Records who were related to post rock band Tortoise to really be able to appreciate Bitches Brew. Further, it was interviews with Tortoise bass player Doug McCombs about how Teo Macero’s tape editing work on Bitches Brew informed how his 2009 album with David Daniell Sycamore was created– improvisational recording sessions were edited into the resulting album that pushed me to take a closer look at the album.
The album as released was recorded over three days in August of 1969 (19th-21st) at Columbia’s Studio B in New York City. The band was the largest collection of musicians Davis had assembled to date. The core of the band was a partial carry over from the In A Silent Way sessions with Wayne Shorter on tenor saxophone, Dave Holland on bass, Chick Corea on electric piano, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Notably, this was the live touring band and had already been performing some of the key pieces from Brew including early versions of what became “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down”, “Sanctuary”, and “Spanish Key”. According to Paul Tingen (who wrote the essential book on this period “Miles Beyond : Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991”), this pre-work with a band before hitting the studio was rare (apparently not considering the fact that most of the 1950’s Prestige releases were based on in studio takes of what was his live show at the time). The five-piece was joined in the studio by Joe Zawinul (electric piano), John McLaughlin (electric guitar), Larry Young (electric piano), Lenny White (drums), Don Alias (congas), Juma Santos, and Bennie Maupin (bass clarinet).
After some meetings with the band at his house where they, according to the JazzTime article Tingen wrote, brought in their own compositions for Davis to choose from and he made sketches that they would work from in the studio during the three days booked. At these sessions (with Teo Macero producing and engineer Stan Tonkel), Davis acted more like a conductor than composer. The tapes typically ran the entire time and he used playbacks to further tailor the works.
Davis left the post production work to Teo Macero. Macero used extensive tape editing and effects like delay and echo on previous albums In A Silent Way and Circle in the Round to create new works from the raw recordings which many consider to be groundbreaking work in itself. Extensive tape edits were done to create the first two tracks on the album “Pharaoh’s Dance” (which has 19 edits) and “Bitches Brew” (which has 15). Davis had the final approval of the recordings, but according to Tingen never really gave Macero the full credit he deserved and Macero’s own opinion was that Davis didn’t really want to credit even the musicians. This is why In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew are credited as “Directions in Music By Miles Davis” as a kind of way to take full credit for the recordings.
The second LP in Bitches Brew had less studio manipulation than the first two sides. This was largely because these songs were more fleshed out due to live performances. “Spanish Key” and “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” had no edits. “Sanctuary” has one edit where Macero clips in a different take. “John McLaughlin” is an edit of a studio improvisation where Davis isn’t playing. According to Tingen, Davis gives some rough vague instructions during the session and they lumber along not knowing where to take the work until Davis says “John” and McLaughlin takes a guitar solo and then the band falls into lock step. Macero edited this down to McLaughin’s solo and following for the final recording.
The resulting album was somewhat baffling to the musicians who performed on it. Tingen quotes a famous story by Zawinul where he says he was standing in the offices of CBS and heard music over the speakers and asked a receptionist what it was when she replied that it was “that Bitches Brew thing.”
When you look at the jazzdisco.org entries for August 19-21, 1969 sessions and compare it to the track listing for Double Image, you’ll notice that the songs included were not recorded during the sessions that were used for Bitches Brew. So, what are these recordings?
Reissue producer of the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions Bob Belden told Tingen that they included the extra tracks that used a lot of the same musicians as Bitches Brew and also that these songs were additionally electric piano focused. As was typical of this later period Davis studio work, he had a lot of sessions recorded that were not intended for any particular album release, and CBS kept cranking out new albums that were ostensibly just compilations of unrelated songs– oftentimes songs many years apart. The 1979 compilation album Circle in the Round has tracks from 1955 through 1970. Exploitative? Maybe, but the renewed posthumous effort of getting Davis’s work released in a somewhat orderly fashion serves the purpose of making some sense of the progression made over his life in music.
Below is the track listing from Double Image: Rare Miles from the Complete Bitches Brew Sessions with my added notation of what the recording dates were.
LP 1 / Side A “1. Yaphet” (11/19/69) 2. “Corrado” (11/19/69) LP 1 / Side B “1. The Little Blue Frog (master)” (11/28/69) 2. “The Big Green Serpent” (11/28/69) 3. “Trevere” (11/28/69) 4. “The Little Blue Frog (alternate take)” (11/28/69)
LP 2 / Side A “1. Double Image (first version)”(1/28/70) 2. “Feio” (1/28/70) LP 2 / Side B “1. Recollection” (2/6/70) 2. “Take It Or Leave It” (2/6/70)
I’m going to predict that since we have had an LP from In A Silent Way’s complete sessions (which was box set #5 of the “complete” series) and now Bitches Brew (which was box set #3) that the next RSD release will be based on the 2003 box set for The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (box set #6). The Jack Johnson album only had two tracks on it and there were a lot of sessions not used, so it should be interesting to see what they’d include on a vinyl comp.
If that wasn’t enough, reissue label Get On Down is releasing a previously Japan-only album of Miles Davis in concert from 1964 with an early iteration of his “second great quintet.” It was released in the US on CD in 2005, but not on vinyl. Titled simplyMiles in Tokyo, the album originally came out in 1969 on Sony/CBS and this release copies that release down to the gorgeous black and white cover art and the OBI strip (which is slightly modified to show the Get On Down catalog number and logo). The original pressing was a gatefold, I’m hoping the replicated that as well, but I have no indication one way or another. (Chris from Bull Moose hasn’t done his rundown yet. I’ll update this if he mentions it).
Sam Rivers joined Miles Davis’s quartet in April of 1964 replacing George Coleman according to the Sam Rivers sessionography. This database quotes Davis as saying he wanted to hire Wayne Shorter but Art Blakey had him tied up in the Jazz Messengers, so he hired Rivers at Tony Williams’s suggestion and took him on tour. Rivers would stay with the quintet through July 15th, which is the day after the Miles in Tokyo recording took place. Rivers would be replaced evenually with Wayne Shorter in September, which would establish the “second great quintet” which would stay in place until 1968 and recorded the albums E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Sorcerer, Nefertiti, Miles in the Sky, and Filles de Kilimanjaro.
I think the reason for Rivers’s short stint in Davis’s band is two-fold. Clearly Rivers was Davis’s second choice, and also the general opinion is that Rivers’s style on the sax didn’t mesh well with Davis’s, and this is apparent according to critics on the Miles in Tokyo album. To me the recording is notable in its frenetic pacing of the songs. I think it picks up the energy from the Lincoln Center performance, which shares a lot of the same songs, including the sped up “So What.”
Here is the track listing for Miles in Tokyo:
A Side : “If I Were A Bell”, “My Funny Valentine” B Side : “So What”, “Walkin”, “All Of You”
Helpfully, there is a YouTube video of the complete album:
Anyone familiar with the Davis catalog are likely familiar with the fact that his later years releases didn’t often correspond to the idea of an album release. When you look at the sessionography information for Miles Davis, he seemed to hit the studio whenever it suited him (or maybe when he needed money) and recorded with little regard to the idea of an album release.
The proper In A Silent Way album is two tracks, both of which were recorded on the same day. The expanded group of Miles Davis on trumpet; Wayne Shorter on soprano sax; Joe Zawinul on organ; Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, electric piano; John McLaughlin on guitar; Dave Holland on bass and Tony Williams on drums hit CBS’s 30th Street Studio in Studio B on February 18th, 1969. The sessionography at jazzdisco.org shows that the group recorded three takes of “In A Silent Way/It’s About That Time” and two takes of “Shh/Peaceful.”
The band returned to the studio two days later on February 20th and tracked the over 26-minute “The Ghetto Walk” and “Early Minor.” According to Wikipedia’s entry on In A Silent Way, which quotes Victor Svorinich’s essay on In A Silent Way, “The Ghetto Walk” was originally considered for In A Silent Way, but was ultimately dropped in favor of “In a Silent Way/It’s About That Time.”
Those two tracks plus “Splashdown” which was tracked on November 25th, 1968 are what make up the RSD release. These tracks are notable as being the three songs on the Complete In A Silent Way box set that were previously unreleased prior. I prefer this over including multiple takes of “In A Silent Way/It’s About That Time” and “Shh/Peaceful.”
According to Svorinich’s essay, Joe Zawinul brought his composition “Shh/Peaceful” to the sessions, and it had a couple of working titles before it was settled, one was “On The Corner” which was the working title for the album at one point, and also “Mornin’ Fast Train From Memphis To Harlem” which was also a working title for the record. The Wikipedia article is a bit confused about this as it says that Davis composed “Shh/Peaceful” and Zawinul composed “In A Silent Way.” The facts of this are probably tied to how Teo Macero edited the sessions into the final recordings. This is further supported by the fact that Zawinul blamed Macero for editing the recordings and crediting Davis as the sole composer.
No matter what the details were about how the sessions were used, history has shown that In A Silent Way has become one of the most important albums in Davis’s career and is credited as the first complete foray into what would be his electric period and would pave the way for Bitches Brew.
I created a YouTube playlist of the three songs as they were included in the boxset so you can listen for yourself.
Titled Blue World, the album (out September 27th) is made up of recordings Coltrane’s classic quartet with Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner tracked on June 24, 1964 at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. These songs were tracked for Quebecois film producer Gilles Groulx to be used for his film Le chat dans le sac (“The Cat In The Bag”). The songs were mostly new recordings of songs from Coltrane’s catalog plus a new song “Blue World” (which, according to an article by NPR, was itself a variation of a previously-recorded song the pop standard “Out Of This World” by Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer). Revisiting previous works in the studio isn’t something Coltrane had done before, or from what I can tell, since. This gives us a unique way to view the development Coltrane and band were going through by comparing previous recordings to these reinterpretations.
The first thing I did when I heard about this release was to check my faithful jazz session database at jazzdisco.org and it was missing! This has since been remedied as the details of this release came to light. According to the interview with Barbara Ulrich (who played the lead also named Barbara in the film) for the liner notes (written by Jazz scholar Ashley Kahn) of the release quoted in the NPR.org article, Groulx was a fan of John Coltrane and it was through an acquaintance that he knew Jimmy Garrison which was likely the connection to Coltrane’s involvement in the film. Groulx attended the recording session on June 24th and was handed the 37-minute 1/4″ mono tape at the end of the session. Since it wasn’t an official release and these sessions weren’t part of an album recording, they didn’t make it to the database.
“Gilles had a list of the music he wanted and later he told me when he gave the list to Coltrane, Coltrane said, ‘Okay, I can do this — I can’t do that, it’s not mine. OK I get it, I know what you want.’ Then they just started jamming and recorded for several hours. Then Rudy gave Gilles the tape and that was it. When he got back he was absolutely ecstatic. He knew exactly where he was going to use the music in the film.”
Le chat dans le sac featured an original score by John Coltrane, an African American saxophonist whose music was often associated with Black Nationalism. The film’s jazz soundtrack was dans l’air du temps [current fashion]. It echoed Louis Malle’s Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (1958) and John Cassavetes’ Shadows (1959) which featured contributions by jazzmen Miles Davis and Charles Mingus. However, the music also serves to validate the language of decolonization which Claude deploys throughout the film. Groulx’s main protagonist reads Frantz Fanon’s Les damnés de la terre, Louis E. Lomax’s La révolte noire and Parti pris. Claude, a [Quebecois separationist revolutionary] , listens to jazz as he plans his revolt. …. Coltrane’s music legitimizes Claude’s quest for emancipation in ways that Barbara cannot.
The Cinema of the Quiet Revolution: Quebec‟s Second Wave of Fiction Films and the National Film Board of Canada, 1963-1967 p 60
The Rolling Stone article says that the tape eventually made it to the National Film Board of Canada and that was how Impulse! came to get it early last year. The National Film Board of Canada was the organization that underwrote Le chat dans le sac originally. There is a funny story in the Fillon paper I quoted above about how the NFB was only interested in producing television content at the time that Gilles Groulx was working with them. Groulx agreed to shooting a TV show, and apparently gave them the Canadian theme of “snow” for this project. Instead he took the funds and shot Le chat dans le sac.
Here are the tracks on the album along with my notation of which album the original version is on. It’s interesting, if not notable, that “Naima” from Giant Steps and the two songs from Jazz (“Village Blues”, “Like Sonny”) were all recorded originally during the same sessions in 1959 and 1960. In many ways Jazz can be looked at as the outtakes from the Giant Steps sessions.
TRACKS SIDE A 1 Naima (Take 1) (4:34) originally on Giant Steps (1959) 2 Village Blues (Take 2) (3:41) originally on Jazz (recorded 1959, released 1961) 3 Blue World (6:08) 4 Village Blues (Take 1) (3:51) Jazz (1961) SIDE B 1 Village Blues (Take 3) (3:45) Jazz (1961) 2 Like Sonny (2:43) originally on Jazz (1961) 3 Traneing In (7:42) originally on John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio (1958) 4 Naima (Take 2) (4:10) Giant Steps (1959)
Blue World has been mastered from its original mono analog tape by Kevin Reeves at Universal Music Mastering in New York. The new 180g vinyl edition’s lacquers were cut by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios.
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.
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.
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.
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”)
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.
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)
“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.
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.
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: