Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Teenage Fanclub - Secondary Education (2018)

Following on from the success of Teenage Fanclub's fifth album 'Grand Prix', 'Songs From Northern Britain' became their highest-charting release in the UK, reaching number three, and contained their biggest hit single to date in 'Ain't That Enough'. Their last two albums showed a distinct change in style by the band, eschewing larger pop culture trends like grunge and Brit-pop in favour of further honing their sparkling, guitar-based sound, a choice that only worked to endear them to their loyal cult fan base. For this album the band had once again conscripted producer David Bianco, who helped them expand their sound with a bevy of acoustic instruments, strings, and brass, resulting in songs like 'I Don't Want Control Of You', 'Take The Long Way Round', and 'Your Love Is The Place I Come From' feeling more personal, reflecting upon themes of nature, romantic fidelity, and the passing of time. In 2000 they left Creation Records and moved to Columbia, where they recorded 'Howdy!' at David Gilmour's Astoria studio, and at Rockfield Studios in Wales. Producing the album themselves, they embraced an even more ambitious mix of orchestral arrangements and varied instrumentation, and the record included a handful of songs that would become fan favourites, like 'Dumb Dumb Dumb', 'My Uptight Life', and 'I Need Direction'. It was also the first album recorded with keyboardist Finlay MacDonald (no relation to Francis), and the last with drummer Quinn, who left the band toward the end of recording and went on to front his own project, the Primary 5, being replaced by original drummer Francis Macdonald. 
The band stayed busy over the next few years, playing live and collaborating with spoken word artist Jad Fair on the album 'Words Of Wisdom and Hope', and they also assembled a retrospective anthology, which included three newly minted songs. It was three more years before they began work on their next album, eventually traveling to Chicago to record with post-rock icon John McEntire at his Soma recording studio. Released on the band's own imprint PeMa, 2005's 'Man-Made' marked a return to their earlier format as a quartet, and was characterized by discrete flourishes of keyboard, piano, and viola. Another five years passed before the self-produced 'Shadows' appeared in 2010, and it was the first to feature instrumental contributions by regular touring keyboardist/guitarist David McGowan as a full-time member. Around this time Blake relocated to Toronto, Canada, and while the band reunited for several live shows, it would be several years before they would begin work on another album. In 2016, they finally returned with their tenth studio album, 'Here', produced by the band in France and at McGinley's home in Glasgow, and it showcased a more ruminative, folk-inflected sound. It also landed them back at number one on Billboard's Heatseekers chart for the second time, 25 years after 'Bandwagonesque' first charted. 
Along with touring, the band was active off-stage, working at London's famed Abbey Road Studios on vinyl reissues of their five albums for Creation, but in 2018 Love amicably parted ways with the band after expressing his disinterest in flying to accommodate their tour schedule. Their eleventh studio album, and first without Love, arrived in March 2020, and 'Endless Arcade' found the group reflecting on themes of aging and heartache, primarily influenced by the break-up of Blake's marriage. In September 2023, they returned with the equally lyrical and introspective release, 'Nothing Lasts Forever', which was heralded by the '60s-style psych-rock-influenced single 'Foreign Land', and that brings up to date for these much-loved Scottish indie-rockers. Throughout the late 90's and up to the singles released from 'Howdy!' they continued to add up to four previously unheard songs to each of the b-sides of their singles, but when the time between albums started to stretch to up to five years, they filled the gap by contributing to compilation albums, split singles or collaborations with other artists, and when digital singles started being released in the mid-2010's then b-sides were no longer included. These final three albums in this series collect together all these additional tracks recorded by the band and given away to fans as b-sides, as well as the two stand-alone singles that they released in 2018. 

Track listing

Disc I - 1995-1997
01 Some People Try To Fuck With You (b-side of 'Mellow Doubt' 1995)  
02 Getting Real (b-side of 'Mellow Doubt' 1995)
03 Have You Ever Seen The Rain (b-side of 'Mellow Doubt' 1995)
04 Between Us (b-side of 'Mellow Doubt' 1995)
05 You're My Kind (b-side of 'Mellow Doubt' 1995)
06 Kickabout (b-side of 'Ain't That Enough' 1997)              
07 Broken (b-side of 'Ain't That Enough' 1997)
08 Femme Fatale (b-side of 'Ain't That Enough' 1997)
09 Jesus Christ (b-side of 'Ain't That Enough' 1997)
10 The Count (b-side of 'I Don't Want Control Of You' 1997)
11 Middle Of The Road (b-side of 'I Don't Want Control Of You' 1997)
12 He'd Be A Diamond (b-side of 'I Don't Want Control Of You' 1997)
13 Live My Life (b-side of 'I Don't Want Control Of You' 1997)
14 How Many More Years (b-side of 'Start Again' 1997)
15 Nothing To Be Done (b-side of 'Start Again' 1997)

Disc II - 1998-2003
01 Long Shot (single 1998)
02 Loops And Stings (b-side of 'Long Shot')
03 On This Good Night (b-side of 'I Need Direction' 2000)
04 I Lied (b-side of 'I Need Direction' 2000)
05 Here Comes Your Man (b-side of 'I Need Direction' 2000)
06 Christmas Eve (single 2000)
07 Thaw Me (b-side of 'Dumb Dumb Dumb' 2001)
08 One Thousand Lights (b-side of 'Dumb Dumb Dumb' 2001)
09 Tell Me What You See (from 'Why Don't We Do It In The Road?' Beatles' tribute album 2001)
10 Always In My Heart (single with Jad Fair 2002)
11 Let's Celebrate (b-side of 'Always In My Heart')
12 Same Place, Different Place (split single with Supreme Vagabond Craftsman / Bridget Storm 2003

Disc III - 2003-2018
01 The World'll Be OK (new song from '4,766 Seconds' compilation album 2003)
02 Empty Space 
(new song from '4,766 Seconds' compilation album 2003)
03 Did I Say 
(new song from '4,766 Seconds' compilation album 2003)
04 Association! (single 2004)
05 Fallen Leaf (b-side of 'Fallen Leaves' 2005)
06 Please Stay (b-side of 'It's All In The Mind' 2005)
07 Like A Monkey In A Zoo (single with Jad Fair 2006)
08 Happy Soul (b-side of 'Like A Monkey In A Zoo')
09 Secret Heart (b-side of 'Baby Lee' 2010)
10 Easy Come Easy Go (b-side of 'I'm In Love' 2017)
11 Country Song (single 2018)
12 Eyes Wide Open (b-side of 'Country Song')
13 Dark And Lonely (single 2018)

Thanks to Ken for the suggestion

Friday, November 24, 2023

Various Artists - The Hitmakers Sing Leon Russell (2008)

Claude Russell Bridges, aka Leon Russell, was born on 2 April 1942 in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began playing the piano at the age of four, with his musical career starting in 1956, when at the age of 14 he played in the nightclubs of Tulsa. In high school, he played piano in a band, the Accents, with David Gates, who would later achieve fame in the band Bread, and with the band The Starlighters, which included J. J. Cale, Leo Feathers, Chuck Blackwell, and Johnny Williams, which was instrumental in creating the style of music known as the Tulsa Sound. After settling in Los Angeles in 1958, he studied guitar with James Burton, and in the early years of his career he was known mostly as a session musician. In Los Angeles he played as a first-call studio player on many of the popular songs of the 1960's, including some by The Byrds, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Bobby Pickett, and Herb Alpert. He also played piano on many Phil Spector productions, including recordings by the Ronettes, the Crystals, and Darlene Love, as well as the 1963 'A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector' album. In the mid-1960's, he wrote or co-wrote songs, including two hits for Gary Lewis and the Playboys, with 'Everybody Loves A Clown' and 'She's Just My Style', and in 1967 he played with Glen Campbell, whose 1967 album 'Gentle On My Mind' credited him as "Russell Bridges" on piano. Russell released his first solo single, 'Everybody's Talking 'Bout the Young' for Dot Records in 1965, and by 1968 he'd joined up with Marc Benno to form The Asylum Choir, whose album 'Look Inside The Asylum Choir' was released by Smash Records in 1968. 
In 1969 Russell and Denny Cordell established Shelter Records, and at the same time he was a member of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, playing guitar and keyboards on their albums and as part of their touring band, and it was through this group that he met George Harrison, with  whom he would work over the next couple of years. Russell's first commercial success as a songwriter came when Joe Cocker recorded the song 'Delta Lady' for his 1969 album 'Joe Cocker!', while his 'Superstar' co-write was recorded by The Carpenters and other performers. During Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, Shelter Records released his 1970 solo album, 'Leon Russell', which included the first recording of 'A Song For You', which is one of his best-known songs. Also in 1970, Russell played piano on Dave Mason's album 'Alone Together', notably on the song 'Sad And Deep As You', and he had his first hit single with 'The Letter', credited to Joe Cocker with Leon Russell & the Shelter People. As well as his own versions of 'Delta Lady' and 'A Song For You', the 'Leon Russell' album included some other great songs, as evidenced by the fact that nearly all of them have been covered, mostly contemporaneously in 1970 and 1971. This album collects together some of the very best takes of these songs, and I try to limit the tracks to one per artist, so although Joe Cocker's version of 'Delta Lady' is probably more well known, he's already represented on here, so I've opted for the Gary Puckett version instead, and I think he does a pretty good job of it.  

Track listing

01 A Song For You (Donny Hathaway 1971)  
02 Dixie Lullaby (Clint Black with Bruce Hornsby 1999) 
03 I Put A Spell On You (Sam Bush 2000)
04 Shoot Out On The Plantation (Vicki Britton 1972)
05 Hummingbird (Duffy Power 1970) 
06 Delta Lady (Gary Puckett 1971)
07 Prince Of Peace (The Raiders 1971)
08 Give Peace A Chance (Joe Cocker 1970)
09 Hurtsome Body (The Fabulous Rhinestones 1973)
10 Pisces Apple Lady (Tucky Buzzard 1971)
11 Roll Away The Stone (Ashley Cleveland 2008)

A gift from PowerPopTom - Part 4

PowerPopTom has been busy again making CD covers for anyone who might want to burn some of these albums to CD. There are four new ones, so rather than adding them to to download folder they can copied directly from this page. 

Donna Douglas - Memory Lane (1964)

Firstly, Donna Douglas the singer is NOT Donna Douglas the actress, who starred as Elly Mae Clampett in 'The Beverley Hillbillies' TV show in the 1960's. Our Donna Douglas was born in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and started her recording career in the late 1950's. Her first single was 'The Shepherd', released in November 1958, and although it didn't chart, her record company Fontana saw enough potential in her to keep trying, and so she recorded a further three singles for them in 1959 and 1960. When she left Fontana, Piccadilly felt she had the right look and chirpy voice for the times and debuted her with 'Tammy, Tell Me True' in 1961, but the following year they gave her a big push, as her 1962 single 'The Message In A Bottle' was nominated as the UK entry for the "Song For Europe" contest (before it became The Eurovision Song Contest). It lost to Ronnie Carroll's 'Ring-a-Ding Girl' which, obviously, did not bring a winner home to Great Britain, and so we'll never know if 'The Message In A Bottle' might have had more success. Three more singles followed for Piccadilly, with 'Matelot' appearing in 1962, and both 'It's A Pity To Say Goodnight' and 'He's So Near' being released in 1963. A final single, 'Java Jones' turned up on Pye in 1964, and then that was the end of her singing career. Although her biggest claim to fame appears to be being mistaken for someone else, she did leave behind some fine recordings, particularly those from the early sixties, and so here is a nice selection of them, which should help to emphasise the difference between the singer and the actress.     

Track listing

01 The Shepherd (single 1958)
02 I'm Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (b-side of 'The Shepherd')
03 Come Back To Loch Lomond (single 1959)
04 First Anniversary (b-side of 'Come Back To Loch Lomond')
05 Six Boys And Seven Girls (single 1959)
06 Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall (b-side of 'Six Boys And Seven Girls')
07 Teddy (single 1960)
08 Call Me Darling (b-side of 'Teddy')
09 Tammy, Tell Me True (single 1961) 
10 Memory Lane (b-side of 'Tammy, Tell Me True')
11 The Message In A Bottle (single 1962)
12 If This Is Love (b-side of 'The Message In A Bottle')
13 Matelot (single 1962)
14 All The Other Girls (b-side of 'Matelot')
15 It's A Pity To Say Goodnight (single 1963)
16 Do I Know? (b-side of 'It's A Pity To Say Goodnight')
17 He's So Near (single 1963)
18 Blue Star (b-side of 'Java Jones' 1964)

Marbles - Marbles (1993)

Marbles is the solo recording project of The Apples in Stereo singer and chief songwriter Robert Schneider, and the project started in 1993 when he would record his various musical endeavours on cassette for various people he knew, although this was somewhat abandoned as The Apples In Stereo began to get attention from the public. He would later compile some of the songs, many of which featured backing vocals from Will Cullen Hart of The Olivia Tremor Control, and release them officially in 1997 as an album titled 'Pyramid Landing (And Other Favorites)', but not all of the songs from this early cassette ended up on that record, and so some are exclusive to this tape. Schneider appeared to have largely abandoned Marbles by 2000, only releasing sporadic singles, and contributing to a compilation, but this all changed in 2005 when spinART released an actual album by the band, titled 'Expo'. When Marbles do perform live they are one of the more disorienting of the Elephant 6 bands, and on the tour to promote 'Expo' Schneider appeared dressed in goggles and a sequin jacket, backed by cardboard cut-outs of Darth Vader and a robot, adorned with fake instruments, and a CD player supplying all but his lead vocals. In 2009 Schneider cut an album of children’s music under the name Robbert Bobbert, which was released in February on Little Monster Records, but this wasn't that unusual, as The Apples In Stereo had already recorded tracks for Cartoon Network TV staple 'The Power Puff Girls'. 'Robbert Bobbert & The Bubble Machine' included a comic book by cartoonist Todd Webb which served as a calling card for the lovable inventor/scientist, and the tunes were all test-marketed to Schneider's seven-year-old son Max, who gave them a thumbs-up. While you track that one down, here is Marbles' 1993 cassette tape, which was officially released by the Elephant Six Recording Company, although it's unknown how many copies were actually sold.  

Track listing

01 Laughing  
02 Kite  
03 Swimming  
04 Head  
05 Bottom Of The Sea  
06 Pyramid Landing  
07 Death My Bride  
08 Invisible  
09 Inverse Gazebo  
10 Play Fair

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Teenage Fanclub - Primary Education (1995)

Teenage Fanclub emerged from the Glasgow C86 scene, emerging from the ashes of The Boy Hairdressers, a band featuring Raymond McGinley, Norman Blake and Francis Macdonald. Following a brief period in which Blake was a member of BMX Bandits, the three former bandmates reunited and joined up with Gerard Love to form Teenage Fanclub. Initially lauded for the sonically dense, guitar-driven anthems that heralded them as unexpected stars of the alternative rock era, the perception of the band transformed over time, eventually earning the group a reputation as pop craftsmen famous for a distinctive brand of classicist '60s- and '70s-style power pop and folk-rock. The group was fortunate to have three talented singer/songwriters in Norman Blake, Gerard Love, and Raymond McGinley, and the band was albe to mix sludgy guitar riffs and memorably hooky choruses that drew inspiration from iconic guitar rock bands like Big Star, Badfinger, and the Byrds.  Their first album 'A Catholic Education', released in 1990 on Paperhouse, is not really typical of their later sound, with the possible exception of 'Everything Flows', as it was mostly written by Blake and McGinley, and record included several songs originally intended for The Boy Hairdressers. After recording his drum parts, Macdonald left the band to resume his university studies, but some of them were later re-recorded with Macdonald's replacement, Brendan O'Hare, because they weren't satisfied with the results of the original recording sessions,[5] and because they wanted to involve O'Hare in the album. 
They followed the album with the EP 'God Knows It's True' before being signed by Creation Records, and their first album for the label, 'The King', was a semi-improvised collection recorded in a single day. It was originally intended to be a very limited release, but it was not that well-received, garnering some critical reviews for its self-confessed shambolic guitar thrashes and cover of Madonna's 'Like a Virgin'. The band really broke through with 1991's 'Bandwagonesque', which was also released in America on the Geffen label, and which hit number one on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, spawning three Top 20 modern rock hits with 'Star Sign', 'What You Do to Me', and 'The Concept'. 'Bandwagonesque' was more deliberately constructed, the hooks became stronger, the guitar riffs were brought under control, and the harmony vocals took shape, and it topped Spin magazine's 1991 end-of-year poll for best album,[7] beating Nirvana's 'Nevermind,' their Creation stablemates My Bloody Valentine's album 'Loveless', and R.E.M.'s 'Out Of Time'. 'Bandwagonesque' was always going to be a hard act to follow, and so it was no surprise that their next album 'Thirteen', received mixed reviews on release, as it had perhaps too much to live up to. 
Brendan O'Hare left the band during this period because of musical differences, and he was replaced by ex-Soup Dragons drummer Paul Quinn, and his first recordings with the group on their fifth album 'Grand Prix' helped it become both a critical and commercial success in the UK, breaking the top ten for the first time. In the U.S., however, they failed to regain the ground that 'Thirteen' had lost them, and it didn't fare anywhere near as well there as it had done in the UK. With three song-writers in the band it's no surprise that they were able to add new songs to the b-sides of all their singles, and even release the odd non-album EP as well. In the first of two posts, here are all those b-sides, as well as a few compilation appearances, from the first six years of their existence, and just how prolific they were is proved by the fact that the third disc is made up almost solely of b-sides from the two singles extracted from 'Grand Prix' in 1995. And if, like me, you are thinking of rushing over to Youtube to hear their version of 'Between Clarke And Hilldale' at the right speed, then be warned that what you are hearing is exactly as the band recorded it, and as the record company decided to release it, resulting in the most hated and derided piece of work in their entire career.   

Track listing

Disc I - 1990-1992
01 Primary Education (b-side of 'Everything Flows' 1990)
02 Speeder b-side of 'Everything Flows' 1990)
03 Don't Cry No Tears b-side of 'Everything Flows' 1990)
04 The Ballad Of John And Yoko (single 1990)
05 God Knows It's True (single 1990)
06 So Far Gone (b-side of 'God Knows It's True')
07 Weedbreak (b-side of 'God Knows It's True')
08 Ghetto Blaster (b-side of 'God Knows It's True')
09 Long Hair (b-side of 'The Concept' 1991)        
10 I Saw The Light (recorded 1991, from the 'Scotland On Sunday EP 2005)
11 Kylie's Got A Crush On Us (from the free cassette with Select magazine 1992)
12 Free Again (single for 'International Pop Underground - Vol XXVI' 1992)
13 Bad Seeds (b-side of 'Free Again')
14 Mr Tambourine Man (from 'Ruby Trax - The NME's Roaring Forty' album 1992)
15 B-Side (aka 'Maharishi Dug The Scene') (b-side of 'What You Do To Me' 1992)
16 Life's A Gas (b-side of 'What You Do To Me' 1992)
17 Filler (b-side of 'What You Do To Me' 1992)

Disc II - 1993-1994
01 Mine Exclusively (single by Big Star with Teenage Fanclub 1993)
02 Patti Girl (b-side of 'Mine Exclusively' by Teenage Fanclub with Big Star)
03 Belt (from 'Volume Seven' compilation CD 1993)
04 Don's Gone Columbia (b-side of 'Radio' 1993)
05 Weird Horses (b-side of 'Radio' 1993)
06 Chords Of Fame (b-side of 'Radio' 1993)
07 Four Strong Winds (b-side of 'Hang On' 1993)
08 Genius Envy (b-side of 'Norman 3' 1993)
09 Older Guys (b-side of 'Norman 3' 1993)
10 Golden Glades (b-side of 'Norman 3' 1993)
11 Goody Goody Gum Drops (from the 'Thirteen EP' 1993
12 It's Hard To Fall In Love (from the 'Thirteen EP' 1993
13 Between Clarke And Hilldale (from the 'We're All Normal And We Want Our Freedom'
                                                                                       Arthur Lee & Love tribute album 1994)
14 Mad Dog 20/20 (from 'DGC Rarities' album 1994) 

Disc III - 1995
01 Burned (b-side of 'Sparky's Dream' 1995)     
02 For You (b-side of 'Sparky's Dream' 1995)
03 Headstand (b-side of 'Sparky's Dream' 1995)
04 Try And Stop Me (b-side of 'Sparky's Dream' 1995)
05 That's All I Need To Know (b-side of 'Sparky's Dream' 1995)
06 Who Loves The Sun (b-side of 'Sparky's Dream' 1995)
07 My Life (b-side of 'Neil Jung' 1995)                     
08 Every Step Is A Way Through (b-side of 'Neil Jung' 1995)
09 The Shadows (b-side of 'Neil Jung' 1995)
10 Traffic Jam (b-side of 'Neil Jung' 1995)
11 Hi-Fi (b-side of 'Neil Jung' 1995)
12 I Heard You Looking (b-side of 'Neil Jung' 1995)
13 Total Weirdness (from the 'Jabberjaw' benefit album 1995)    

Thanks to Ken for the suggestion

Friday, November 17, 2023

Various Artists - The Hitmakers Sing Elton John's 'Tumbleweed Connection' (2002)

As a result of the reasonable success of the 'Elton John' album, John recruited former Spencer Davis Group drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray, and flew to America for his first US concert at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on 25 August 1970. It was a such a success that the next day he received a telegram from Bill Graham, America’s most important promoter, offering him $5,000 to play at the Fillmore East in New York. Two months later, in October 1970, the concept album 'Tumbleweed Connection' was released, reaching number two in the UK and number five in the US. Co-writer Bernie Taupin has confirmed that despite people thinking that he was influenced in his lyrics by Americana and by seeing America first hand, the album had been written and recorded before they'd even been to the United States, and it was more influenced by The Band's album, 'Music From Big Pink', and Robbie Robertson's songs. Basic tracks for three of the album's titles, 'Come Down In Time', 'Country Comfort' and 'Burn Down The Mission', had been recorded at Trident during the sessions for the previous LP, 'Elton John', and Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson appeared for the first time together on this album as the rhythm section on 'Amoreena'. No singles were released from the record in the US, but 'Country Comfort'/'Love Song' (the latter a Lesley Duncan composition) was released as a single in Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. Once again, other artists clamoured to record these songs, and this time the big names included Al Kooper, Rod Stewart, Spooky Tooth and Sergio Mendes and Brasil '77, and new artists were still looking to 'Tumbleweed Connection' for inspiration in the 1980's and 2000's, with this album closing with a rousing version of 'Burn Down The Mission' by Toto from 2002. 

Track listing

01 Ballad Of A Well Known Gun (Kate Taylor 1971)
02 Come Down In Time (Al Kooper 1971)
03 Country Comfort (Rod Stewart 1970)
04 Son Of Your Father (Spooky Tooth 1969)
05 My Father's Gun (Miranda Lambert 2018)
06 Where To Now St. Peter (Sergio Mendes & Brasil '77 1976)
07 Amoreena (Panhandle 1972)
08 Talking Old Soldiers (Michael Callen 1988)
09 Burn Down The Mission (Toto 2002)

Girls Can't Catch - Unconditional (2010)

Girls Can't Catch were put together by their label, Polydor, who scouted for members to be in a new girl band. One founding member of the group, Phoebe Brown, was previously in a girl group called Hope, which rose to fame on The X Factor, making it into the live shows, but they were the seventh act to be eliminated. Jess Stickley was scouted from the Motorokr competition, in which she travelled to New York with a group of other finalists to record with huge names in the industry. The final member was Daizy Agnew of MTV's Urban Base, who was voted winner of the original Hugo Urban Rules in 2006, hosted by Trevor Nelson.  Agnew went on to write and release music with AudioFreaks and Dave Doyle, the musical directors behind the hit TV show 'The Big Reunion', and she wrote a top 5 dance hit 'Pennys Falling' with Silverland. In 2018, Agnew became a judge on the hit BBC one Saturday night entertainment show 'All Together Now', hosted by funny man Rob Beckett alongside Geri Halliwell and a panel of industry experts. The band's Soft Cell inspired debut single, 'Keep Your Head Up', was released in August 2009 and entered the UK Singles Chart at number 26, and they performed at the iTunes Festival, previewing their second single, 'Echo'. In November 2009, they were the opening act in the UK for the Jonas Brothers on the European leg of their sold-out world tour. The girls recorded their debut album in 2009 and 2010, and in March 2010, they headlined National Student Pride in Brighton, but before their album could be released it was reported in July 2010 that the band had been dropped by their record label. The following day, they announced on their website that they had disbanded. Their unreleased album was leaked at the time of the split, and it included 'Turn Me Up', a song co-written by Shaznay Lewis, and 'Alone', co-written by Pixie Lott, as well as covers of Sarah Connor's 'You're The Kinda Man' and Santigold's 'L.E.S. Artistes'. In June 2014, to mark the fifth anniversary of the 'Keep Your Head Up' video release, the girls reunited for a final interview with Adam Iqbal, in which they revealed that there were no plans for a Girls Can't Catch reunion and that it was very unlikely that there ever would be. That would seem to be the final word on their album ever seeing the light of day, and so if you are curious as to what this Girls Aloud-lite band could have produced then give it a listen here.

Track listing

01 Happy Alone
02 Echo
03 Turn Me Up
04 L.E.S. Artistes
05 Keep Your Head Up
06 Unconditional
07 Mind It
08 You're The Kinda Man
09 Alone
10 Discover Me
11 Live My Way
12 Another Day
13 Hearts & Flowers

Lorne Lesley - Someone Like You (1967)

Irene Spetti (aka Lorne Lesley) was born on 30 October 1938 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff in South Wales, and is an actress and singer, who featured in the 1962 film 'Marriage Bureau Aurora'. She also made appearances on the live Danish studio entertainment shows 'Sommer-weekend' in 1963/1964, and 'Vinterhaven' in 1963, made while she living in Copenhagen and making her name as a cabaret singer on the continent. Like other black female singers from the area, she hoped to follow in Shirley Bassey’s glittering footsteps, but she was keen to distance herself from the whole Tiger Bay mythology, so rather than adopting a 'sex kitten' persona she instead promoted her strong sense of humour, to such an extent that during the early part of her career she was promoted as a comedienne/singer. She started her recording career in 1958 with the 'My Yiddishe Mama' single on Ronnex Records, but this style wasn't really her forte, and her 1959 Parlophone record 'Some Of These Days' was a huge improvement, establishing the style that she'd keep for the rest of her career. Three more singles followed in the same year, one on the Polydor label, before returning to Ronnex Records for the cabaret-styled 'Bloodshot Eyes' in 1960. In an attempt to cash in on the rise of the Beatles, she joined up with Norwegian rockers The Beatniks for a rewrite of 'Ma He's Makin' Eyes At Me' as 'Ma, Let's Twist', before taking a break from the studio for a couple of years, returning in 1965 with a new label and new single in 'Where My Heart Has Never Wandered' on the Phillips label. She stayed with Phillips for a couple of years, releasing two more singles, before recording the Christmas single 'Little Snowflakes' on Parlophone in late 1966, which turned out to be her last record. She carried on with the live performances, and was an in-demand cabaret artist, as well as appearing on TV entertainment shows in the UK. It was at one of her appearances at a club in the late 60's that she met TV presenter and antiques dealer David Dickinson, although at the time he was working in the Manchester rag trade, and they married in 1968. They are still together and have two grown-up children. With the exception of that first, rather strident single, most of Lesley's records are fairly typical of the girl singers of the era, and this post collects together all the available records from her catalogue, showing her versatility with songs in a number of different styles. There was only a 37-second clip of 'So High, So Low' online, so with some careful editing I've managed to extend it to a one and half minute song (lucky that the lyrics were fairly repetitive), and I've rounded off the album with two TV performances which are still available to view on Youtube.   

Track listing

01 My Yiddishe Mama (single 1958)
02 Some Of These Days (single 1959)
03 So High So Low (single 1959)
04 I Don't Know (b-side of 'So High So Low')
05 Till The End Of Time (from Spanish EP 1960)
06 We're Gonna Dance (single 1960)
07 Bloodshot Eyes (b-side of 'We're Gonna Dance')
08 Ma, Let's Twist (single with The Beatniks 1962)
09 He's Got The Whole World In His Hands (b-side of 'We're Gonna Dance' re-issue 1964)
10 Someone Like You (b-side of 'Where My Heart Has Never Wandered')
11 Fire Down Below (b-side of 'Rainy Days Were Made For Lonely People')
12 Somebody's Gonna Be Sorry (single 1966)
13 Little Snowflakes (single 1966)
14 It's Alright With Me (TV appearance 1967)
15 Give Me A Man (TV appearance 1967)

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Thrice Mice - Prost! (1970)

Thrice Mice were a sextet from Hamburg, who got an earlier start than a lot of their contemporaries as the members had paid their dues in various local Hamburg based bands in the 1960's before congregating into the sextet of Wolfgang Buhre (tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, percussion), Karl-Heinz Blumenberg (vocals, alto saxophone, percussion, flute, guitar), Werner von Gosen (guitar), Wolfram Minnemann (organ, piano, guitar), Arno Bredehöft (drums) and Rainer von Gosen (bass). By the time the band went into the studio in 1970 to record their only self-titled album they were a tight-knit band that had already figured out how to craft their own sound and stand out amongst the early Krautrock initiates, with their unique mix of blues, jazz and classical music completed with a touch of 60's psychedelia. The album comprised just four lengthy tracks, with even the shortest, 'Fancy Desire', clocking in at eight minutes. On listening to the music you can hear that they were clearly inspired more by the British scene than the escapist trends of their contemporary German compatriots, and 'Vivaldi' was a huge hit for them, with the classical themes redirected into fuzzy wah-wah guitars and the rather soulful brass sounds. The band folded in 1972 after Rainer von Gosen departed, but both he and Blumenberg would collaborate together in Altona, who released two albums in 1974 and 1975. While Thrice Mice aren't your typical 70's Krautrock band, a la Tangerine Dream, Amon Duul or Can, they made one superb jazz-rock album which has remained a favourite of mine for many years, and so I was thrilled to find that when it was re-released in 2003, it included bonus tracks of previously unreleased material, and there was enough on there to make another stand-alone album of new music. Although 'Vivaldi's Revival' is basically a live take of 'Vivaldi' it's still worth hearing, and as with the other live recordings on here I've edited out the applause as much as I can. 'An Invitation' was the first thing they recorded, after they won a Battle Of The Bands contest in Hamburg in 1967, with the prize being to record a song for a four-track EP. Unconventional as ever, they chose to write an original piece for the project, and this collection also shows their love of UK bands of the period with an excellent cover of the 1970 Blodwyn Pig b-side 'Drive Me', so raise a glass and say "prost!" to Thrice Mice. 

Track listing

01 An Invitation
02 Trying
03 Pig II
04 New Life
05 Drive Me
06 Vivaldi's Revival
07 Dawn

Friday, November 10, 2023

Various Artists - The Hitmakers Sing Fred Neil (2020)

Fred Neil was born Frederick Ralph Morlock Jr. on 16 March 1936, and he started singing when he was in first grade, coached by his mother. Around 1947, when in sixth grade, he started playing guitar, and by the late 1950's he was one of the singer-songwriters who worked out of New York City's Brill Building, a center for music industry offices and professional songwriters. While composing at the Brill Building for other artists, he also recorded six mostly rockabilly-pop singles for different labels as a solo artist, and early rock and roll songs of his were recorded by such artists as Buddy Holly, with 'Come Back Baby' in 1958, and Roy Orbison, with 'Candy Man' in 1961. He later moved on to a more folk-influenced sound, and with his 12-string guitar and spectacularly deep baritone voice, he was considered the King of the MacDougal Street/Greenwich Village folksingers. Neil met Vince Martin in 1962, and they formed a singing partnership, with their first album 'Tear Down The Walls' being released in 1964, and during 1965 and 1966 Neil was joined on many live sets by the Seventh Sons, a trio led by Buzzy Linhart on guitar and vibes. In 1965 he released is second album 'Bleecker & MacDougal' on Elektra Records, and his eponymous release in 1967 was relaunched in 1969 as 'Everybody's Talkin'', following the huge success of Harry Nilsson's version of his song. It was 'Everybody's Talkin'' which brought him to the attention of the public and other musicians, and it wasn't long before they started to explore his back catalogue. 'Bleecker & McDougal' was plundered by bands and singers in 1969 and 1970, although groups such as The Animals and H.P. Lovecraft were ahead of the game and had already covered songs from the album when it was first released. Since then nearly every song on it has been covered, and so here are a choice selection of the many versions of Neil's songs which are out there, with two of his most famous ones added at the end to bulk up the record to a satisfactory 43 minutes. Something that I didn't know until researching this post was that Jefferson Airplane considered Neil a major influence, and he was a frequent visitor to their Haight-Ashbury house in San Francisco. Neil reminded Grace Slick of Winnie the Pooh, with her nickname for him being 'Poohneil', and their song 'The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil' was written for him. 

Track listing

01 Bleecker & MacDougal (H.P. Lovecraft 1967) 
02 Blues On The Ceiling (The Bintangs 1969) 
03 Sweet Mama (Charlie Brown 2020)
04 Little Bit Of Rain (Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys 1967)
05 Country Boy (Tim Krekel 2018) 
06 Other Side To This Life (The Animals 1966)
07 Mississippi Train (Roger Bartlett 2018)
08 Travelin' Shoes (Tea And Symphony 1969)
09 Yonder Comes The Blues (Michael Parks 1970)
10 Candy Man (Dale Hawkins 1969)
11 Handful Of Gimme (Vince Martin 2018) 
12 The Dolphins (It's A Beautiful Day 1970)
13 That's The Bag I'm In (Buzzy Linhart 1970)

Brooke Hogan - This Voice (2004)

Brooke Ellen Bollea was born on 5 May 1988, and is better known by her stage name Brooke Hogan, being the daughter of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan. She took an early interest in music, beginning work on her first studio album in 2002, and in an attempt to promote her music career, Hogan and her father appeared in a one-hour special on VH1. The special proved to be a ratings success, leading to her and her family starring in the reality television series 'Hogan Knows Best' from 2005 to 2007. She was signed to Trans Continental Records in 2002, and some music was produced with LFO member Rich Cronin's assistance, with the album's lead single, 'Everything To Me', getting a released in July 2004. The song appeared at number one on the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart in the United States, and number 97 on the Billboard Hot 100, and to promote the album, Hogan toured throughout 2004 and 2005, first with Hilary Duff on her Most Wanted Tour of the US, and then with the Backstreet Boys on their Up Close & Personal Tour. 'This Voice' was slated for a September 2004 release date, but for unknown reasons it was cancelled, although it did later leak onto the internet. Hogan did eventually release an album in 2006, with the recording of 'Undiscovered' being chronicled in 'Hogan Knows Best', with a then teenage Brooke struggling with her overprotective father while recording her debut record. 'This Voice' is a perfectly fine pop album of the period, and once again it's a mystery why it was cancelled, so give it a listen and see what you think.  

Track listing 

01 Everything To Me 
02 I Believe
03 Extraordinary Day 
04 Why 
05 The Only One 
06 Casualty
07 Never Let You Down 
08 Caught
09 Don't Stop This Now 
10 I Want You
11 Uh Oh (Lately)
12 You
13 Love You Both

Geneva - Echo Chamber (2000)

Geneva were formed in 1992 by vocalist Andrew Montgomery and guitarist Steven Dora, who recruited second guitarist Stuart Evans, bass player Keith Graham and finally drummer Craig Brown, under their original name of Sunfish. One of their demos found their way to Suede's record label, Nude, who signed the band in 1996, changing their name in the process, first to Garland, then later to Geneva. Their first single 'No One Speaks' was released the same year, and the band garnered enough press to headline NME's annual Bratbus tour of up and coming bands in early 1997, releasing their second single 'Into The Blue' to coincide with the tour. They fitted well with the current musical scene and were well promoted by the UK music press of the time, who saw them as a reaction to the fading Britpop scene, with many bands rejecting the laddish ideals of bands like Oasis. They wrote darker, more intelligent songs, in the vein of contemporaries such as Gene and Strangelove, while Montgomery's relatively high-pitched vocals were often compared to those of Suede's Brett Anderson. Their debut album, 'Further', appeared in June 1997, and it mixed power pop with darker brooding songs, and reached No. 20 in the UK Albums Chart, while all four singles from the album reached the UK Top 40. The second album, 'Weather Underground', was released in March 2000, after more than a year of wrangling with the band's record label, but following the release of 'If You Have To Go' as a single from the album, the band split up later that year. Geneva were ultimately consigned to the also-rans of the late 90's indie scene, releasing just two albums in their short career, but surprisingly including two more album's worth of songs on the b-sides of their singles, and here they all are as a reminder of this idiosyncratic and under-rated group. 

Track listing

Disc I - 1996-1997
01 What Your Shrink Says (b-side of 'No One Speaks' 1996)
02 Closer To The Stars (b-side of 'No One Speaks' 1996)
03 Keep The Light On (b-side of 'No One Speaks' 1996)
04 Driftwood (b-side of 'Tranquilizer' 1997)
05 Dead Giveaway (b-side of 'Tranquilizer' 1997)
06 Strung Out On You (b-side of 'Tranquilizer' 1997)
07 Michaelmas (b-side of 'Tranquilizer' 1997)
08 Compulsive Love Disorder (b-side of 'Tranquilizer' 1997)
09 Selfbelief (b-side of 'Best Regrets' 1997)
10 Feel The Joy (b-side of 'Best Regrets' 1997)
11 Raymond Chandler (b-side of 'Best Regrets' 1997)
12 Last Orders (b-side of 'Best Regrets' 1997)

Disc II - 1997-2000
01 At The Core (b-side of 'Into The Blue' 1997)
02 Riverwatching (b-side of 'Into The Blue' 1997)
03 Land's End (b-side of 'Into The Blue' 1997)
04 Echo Chamber (b-side of 'Dollars In The Heavens' 1999)
05 Faintest Tremor In The Weakest Heart (b-side of 'Dollars In The Heavens' 1999)
06 She's So Familiar (b-side of 'Dollars In The Heavens' 1999)
07 When You Close Your Eyes (b-side of 'Dollars In The Heavens' 1999)
08 Promised Land ('Weather Underground' out-take 1999)
09 Bring Down The Sun (b-side of 'If You Have To Go' 2000)
10 Vostok (b-side of 'If You Have To Go' 2000)
11 Mindreading (b-side of 'If You Have To Go' 2000)
12 Hale Bopp (Proto Mix) (previously unreleased)