Sunday, January 26, 2014

Radiohead - I Want None Of This

Radiohead is among my generation's greatest acts.  They are forward-thinking and intelligent musical composers and performers.  They have recorded eight albums thus far, all being well known.  In addition to these albums, they released an assortment of EPs, which contain many b-sides from their accompanying albums (How Am I Driving EP to Ok Computer, Com Lag EP to Hail To The Thief, etc).

This is essentially a personal hand-picking of my favorite b-sides that they have released over the years, focusing primarily on post-The Bends albums, though there is one track from around those sessions.  I Want None Of This is a rarer song from a tribute album, Help: A Day In The Life, and due to the nature of b-side compilations, was a befitting album title for the collection.

Radiohead - I Want None Of This

Side A:

1.  Paperbag Writer
(from Hail To The Thief era)
2.  Worrywort
(from Amnesiac/Kid A era)
3.  Down Is The New Up
(from In Rainbows era)
4.  Meeting In The Aisle
(from Ok Computer era)
5.  I Want None Of This
(from a compilation album in 2005)
6.  Polythene (parts 1 and 2)
(from Ok Computer era)

Side B:

7.  The Amazing Sound Of Orgy
(from Amnesiac/Kid A era)
8.  Talk Show Host
(from The Bends era, from Romeo + Juliet)
9.  Up The Ladder
(from In Rainbows era)
10.  Pearly*
(from Ok Computer era)
11.  Melatonin 
(from Ok Computer era)
12.  Rabbit In Your Headlights
(song by UNKLE featuring Thom Yorke 1998)

Recently, Capitol Records issued remastered 2-disc albums of all of Radiohead's original six albums.  Of these, I highly recommend both Amnesiac and Hail To The Thief, as the second disc of each set acts almost as a new album in itself.  (Official promotion isn't my thing usually, but the sets really kick mondo butt!)

None of the outtakes from this collection are from Pablo Honey, as it was by far the least Radiohead album (in fact, it being compared to Nirvana is a reason for the drastic sound change in later albums).

The opener is from Hail To The Thief, a sort of parody title of Paperback Writer by The Beatles (spiritually following Subterranean Homesick Alien in terms of track names).  It has a great opening chord that, like many of their albums, sucks you directly into Radiohead's universe.

Worrywort sounds like it belongs on Kid A.  Even though this is technically an Amnesiac b-side, it could have easily been a contender for Kid A, as the two albums were recorded during the same sessions.  The song seemed to fit as the second song, with its subdued electronic sound, with some beautiful vocals from Yorke.  It leads up to the first rocker off the collection.

Down Is The New Up is from the second disc of In Rainbows, be that an official second disc or a collection of b-sides.  Regardless, the second disc is hard to come by in the wild, and is only realistically obtainable via bit torrent.  It works on this side, as some of the strings feel reminiscent of Paperbag Writer, though they do grow with intensity.

Meeting In The Aisle, the first outtake from Ok Computer, is the only instrumental on the album.  It leads up to the titular track, which is an excellent piano ballad, though a bit standard.  It makes sense, as it was on a tribute album that marked the 40th anniversary of The Beatles Help!

Side A closes with Polythene, another track from Ok Computer, and the first time we hear electric guitar on this set, or at least the first time a song is driven by electric guitar.  A Thom Yorke emotional screamer that definitely reminds of their late-90s material.

Side B opens with one of the best outtakes from Kid A / Amnesiac.  I swear this song needs to be sampled into a hip hop song.  The beats are extraordinary, and again, the strings seem to be similar, perhaps an accidental "motif."

And then we get to listen to one of the catchiest bass lines Radiohead ever put to tape on Talk Show Host, which was part of the soundtrack from Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (so was Exit Music For A Film, but that was included on their following album Ok Computer).

After this we get another rocker, and one of my favorite b-sides from In Rainbows (which is the latest album included in this mix... King Of Limbs is such a different beast that none of the outtakes seemed to fit).  Reminds me of a much less intense version of Electioneering.

Pearly is almost heavy metal.  But it's also entirely a pop song.  Radiohead mashes genres pretty well, and this is another excellent example.  I simply love the cheesy bridge.  It's nice to hear such a progressive band just doing their version of a standard pop song: two verses, a catchy as hell bridge and then a rock your face off climax.

Melatonin brings the tone way down, being the shortest and most simple song on the entire set, but what it is leading up to is pretty epic.  In fact, I had no idea what to make the final song on this collection and was unable to finish it properly, until I stumbled on the excellent track from UNKLE's 1998 album Psyence Fiction.  Rabbit In Your Headlights, though entirely a collaboration, is probably the best Radiohead "b-side."  Try not to get sucked in the second you hear the first two chords.

A splendid way to end such a lovely celebration of how Radiohead really is one of those bands that just doesn't seem to record a bad song.  Hope you enjoyed my friends!

- blashco

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cloud Cult - The Shade Project

Cloud Cult is among my favorite bands of all time.  They recently released their 9th studio album, which would be their 10th, if Craig Minowa's first project (that was essentially solo) had fully come into fruition.

Not much information is given on The Shade Project, though we do have (according to wikipedia with zero references attached) a tracklist, year of release and knowledge that it is (probably forever) out of print.  The story I can assemble is that in the early- to mid-90s, Craig secluded himself in a studio inside his closet and, using found objects to mimic instruments he had no access to (a bucket instead of a drum, etc), recorded twenty tracks.

Half of these tracks have been released on the compilation Lost Songs From The Lost Years, which also included more recent b-sides.  I have taken these tracks, along with other very early Cloud Cult songs to fill in the gaps, creating the most comprehensive and complete version of The Shade Project available (at least until one of the incredibly rare originals shows up).

Cloud Cult - The Shade Project

Side A:

1.  You Never Really Were Alone*
2.  Electro Jerry Lewis
3.  So Much To Do Out There*
4.  I Can Hardly Believe It
5.  Rocketship*
6.  Fable Practice Space*
7.  Sage*
8.  Jaded Fable
9.  Alone On A Farm

Side B:

10.  Alone In A Closet*
11.  I'm Feeling So Friggin' Fine
12.  Counterpoint Practice Space
13.  Turn Out The Lights*
14.  Yin And Yang of Sex*
15.  In A Rock Band With A Cheap Guitar
16.  I'm Feeling So Fucking Fine
17.  Lies*
18.  Lightning Girl*

*Songs officially on The Shade Project

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pink Floyd - Sounds For Seeing (2xLP)

Upon initial inquiry, I felt it impossible to compile a "lost album" compilation for Pink Floyd, as most of their rarities spawn from their Beatles-sounding primitive years, and a collection of those wouldn't do Floyd justice.

Recently, I discovered 1971, an eleven-track attempt that felt pretty decent, persuading me to revisit this legendary band. Lo and behold, I was able to dig up quite a few gems, enough even to give y'all a double LP experience!

Pink Floyd -Sounds For Seeing

1.  The Beginning
(sessions from BBC - 1969)
2.  The Hard Way
(from unreleased Household Objects project - 1971)
3.  Biding My Time
(unreleased song - 1969)
4.  Crumbling Land
(song from the film Zabriskie Point - 1970)
5.  Love Scene, pt. 1
(song from the film Zabriskie Point - 1970)

Side B:

6.  Bob Dylan's Blues
(unreleased single - 1970)
7.  Moonhead
(broadcast for BBC - 1969)
8.  Embryo
(issued on a label sampler - 1968)
9.  Country Song
(song from the film Zabriskie Point - 1970)

Side C:

10.  The Journey
(live song - 1969)
11.  Heart Beat Pig Meat
(song from the film Zabriskie Point - 1970)
12.  Paintbox
(b-side to Apples and Oranges - 1967)
13.  Love Scene pt. 2
(song from the film Zabriskie Point - 1970)

Side D:

14.  The Travel Sequence
(outtake from Dark Side of the Moon - 1972)
15.  Beset By Creatures of the Deep
(recording for BBC - 1968)
16.  Corrosion In The Pink Room
(live unreleased track - early 1970's)
17.  Julia Dream
(b-side - 1968)
18.  Wine Glasses
(part of the Household Objects project - 1972)
19.  Point Me At The Sky
(recording for BBC - 1969)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bob Dylan - Positively 4th

In March 1965, Dylan released his fifth studio album, Bring It All Back Home. This was followed shortly by Highway 61 Revisited in August of the same year. Almost exactly a year after his first release in 65, a 2LP epic, Blonde on Blonde came out in the second quarter of 1966.

This year marks what many consider to be Dylan's most successful and productive career, and this "trilogy" of albums is almost always highly revered by Dylan fans, consisting of three of the best albums ever made.

Positively 4th, named after the hit single Positvely 4th Street sets to compile any leftover tracks from this beautiful year of musical composition.  As the title suggests, this is the theoretical fourth album that could have been released that year.  Note that a couple tracks overlap from Bob Dylan's Greatest Boot. 

Side A:

1.  You Don't Have To Do That
(outtake from the Bring it All Back Home sessions)
2.  Can You Please Call Out Your Window?
(single version)
3.  Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence
(outtake from Highway 61 sessions)
4.  I Don't Wanna Be Your Partner
(outtake from Highway 61 sessions)
5.  If You Gotta Go, Go Now (Or Else You Gotta Stay all Night)
(outtake from Blonde on Blonde sessions)
6.  Farwell Angelina
(outtake from the Bring it All Back Home sessions)

Side B:

7.  Jet Pilot
(outtake from Blonde on Blonde sessions)
8.  I Wanna Be Your Lover
(outtake from Blonde on Blonde sessions)
9.   I'll Keep It With Mine
(outtake from Blonde on Blonde sessions)
10.   Lunatic Princess Revisited
(outtake from Highway 61 sessions)
11.  Positively 4th Street
(single version)
12.  She's Your Lover Now
(outtake from Blonde on Blonde sessions)


Led Zeppelin - Swansong

Led Zeppelin is one of those bands that will never die, and most people understand exactly why that is.  Some of the best musicians to ever collaborate, and some of the greatest vocal work ever put to tape, Led Zeppelin have been called the best band of all time too many times to count.

Zeppelin doesn't really have much in terms of studio outtakes (at least ones that have leaked), as most of the stuff they wrote they released.  Probably 90% of their bootlegs are live renditions of known songs.  Since I'm all about unearthing new sounds and compositions, I didn't have too much to work with, honestly.  In fact, I never really thought I could even compile an "unreleased album" from them because I just couldn't find anything.

But alas, my stubbornness prevailed and I was able to unearth what I hope is every outtake that has made its way to the wonderful world of the internet. I simply knew there had to be more, that there needed to be more, and there was... and hell, one of the songs is called Swansong.  Perfect!

So I have organized the ultimate unreleased Led Zeppelin album for your enjoyment.  These tracks are sourced from Studio Sessions and Cabala, consisting of over 25 discs of rockin goodness!  You can find these on torrent sites, but again, it is quite a bit to dissect and absorb, so I have done this task for you!  There will be a second Zeppelin collection focusing on demos and early takes of well known songs.  For now, enjoy some new compositions from Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham.

Led Zeppelin - Swansong (53:58)

Side A:

1.  (Welcome To Swansong)
(untitled instrumental from their debut album's sessions - 1969)
2.  As Long As I Have You
(live, 1969)
3.  Fire
(rehearsal after a hiatus of not performing together - 1978)
4.  Strawberry Jam
(sound check at a concert - 1972)
5.  Sugar Mama
(early outtake - 1969)
6.  Sunshine Woman
(broadcast for BBC - 1969)
7.  Feel So Bad / That's Alright Mama
(recorded at Headley Grange Studio - 1970)
8.  Black Dog
(a quick acoustic instrumental - 1970)

Side B:

9.  The Girl That I Love She Got Long Wavy Black Hair
(recording for the BBC - 1969)
10.  Something Else
(recorded for the BBC - 1969)
11.  Take Me Home
(outtake for Physical Grafiti - 1975)
12.  Baby Come On Home
(outtake from their debut album - 1968)
13.  I Won't Be Her Man
(demo of unreleased song - 1973)
14.  Hey Hey What Can I Do
(take 1 and 2 - 1970)
15.  Swansong
(outtake from Physical Grafiti - 1974)
16.  (Farwell From Swansong)
(untitled instrumental from their early sessions - 1969)

After a building instrumental, our faces melt off immediately at the following track: As Long As I Have You.  This first song already makes this set well worth the price of admission (which is free, if I didn't mention that earlier), and can stand up along their classic rockers.  The majestic vocals really tear me apart, and I hope they do the same for you.

The latest song on the collection, Fire, is another live track

Paul McCartney - Demonstrations of Love

If there is one thing Paul McCartney does best, it's acoustic ditties with charming lyrics and melodic vibrations.  Through out his solo career (Wings included), he recorded probably hundreds of demos (short for demonstrations), many of which have found their ways to collector's hands and almost all of which deal with the beauty of love (it's all you need, anyway, right?).

So here are my favorite demos that Paul recorded.  None of these were studio recordings and though some of them include Linda McCartney (and their son), they are all rough and unpolished.  This is definitely a set you'd never see a legitimate record label release, as it is simply a collection of demos, and labels seem to think we need immense high fidelity whenever we pay for an experience.

Lucky for all of us, though, they're free!

Paul McCartney - Demonstrations of Love

Side A:

1.  Calico Skies
(demo recorded for his album Flaming Pie - 1995)
2.  1882
(piano demo recorded with his wife during his first solo album - 1970)
3.  Hey Diddle
(demo for an outtake from Wings' debut - 1971)
4.  Country Dreamer
(recorded for a TV special - 1973)f
5.  Suicide
(another TV special, One Hand Clapping - 1974)
6.  On The Wings Of A Nightingale
(a demo recorded and given to the Everly Brothers - 1984)
7.  Love Is Your Road, Love Is My Road
(part of the home recordings dubbed the piano tape - 1978)

Side B:

8.  Ebony and Ivory
(solo version demo of the single recorded with Stevie Wonder - 1980)
9.  Waterspout
(band demo from the London Town sessions - 1978)
10.  Let's Love
(demo given to Peggie Lee, becoming the titular track - 1974)
11.  I Am Your Singer
(recorded during at the same time as the Hey Diddle demo - 1971)
12.  Mull of Kintyre
(recorded in Cambletown at Higher Gate Farm - 1977)
13.  I Keep On Believing
(also known as I can't write another song - 1977)

Paul opens the collection in the mid-90s playing live in front of a crackling fire.  I am going to try to only use the term ditty like three times, but it is unfair because all of these songs are ditties.  And that is what Paul is best at!  Ditties!  Okay, that's three I hope there are no Freudian slips.  Calico Skies is an immensely beautiful songs, and is the first demonstration of love that Paul expresses.

1882 is quite possibly the most sought-after and loved bootleg from Paul McCartney and Wings.  There is an equally awesome live version, but let me tell you: this second demo was incredibly hard to find, so enjoy it.  I had to search for almost an entire hour to get it.  Usually the internet performs better than that.  I mean I pay for the internet, so thusly everything should be completely free and immediately available.

Recorded in a garden in Scotland, Hey Diddle, which is also a full-fledged outtake, is the first of these tracks to include the McCartney children in the background.  Eventually they start singing along in some relatively hardcore cuteness.  Wait, don't read anything I have to say about this song because IT IS ON FILM!

Country Dreamer is a b-side, and is occupied by Linda in its demo form.  Suicide dates back to the Get Back Sessions of The Beatles (you can hear Lennon singing along).  This is a more polished version that was actually prepared for an unreleased album, but has yet to truly see the light of day.  Paul's vocals shine on this track.

Written for The Everly Brothers, On The Wings of a Nightingale is another fabulous demonstration of love.  I have never heard the Everly Brothers version, but this one is pretty legitimate.  This leads to the final track, and also the roughest, Love is Your Road Love is My Road.  It's goofy and lovely and highly Paul.

Ebony And Ivory is simply beautiful, gorgeous, stunning and immensely seductive.  Enjoy this opening to side B!  Followed up by the demo for Waterspout, a song originally set for Cold Cuts, an ironically unreleased album compiling unreleased songs.

Given to Peggy Lee, Let's Love was recorded in the same sessions as Suicide, for One Hand Clapping.  I Am Your Singer is accompanied by Linda and their child, who sings along and must've been one of those beautiful parenting moments for the couple.

Mull Of Kintyre is one of the premiere Wings tracks out there, and a live favorite.  This is the second demo with vocals intact.  A very beautiful rendition and the song in general is rather rare as it was never issued on any official album.  This cuts to I Keep On Believing, quite possibly my favorite ditty from this entire collection.  Damn it!  I mean demo.  Enjoy, pals!

- blashco