Classic Rock Review

The home of old record and bootleg reviews…

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale (1998)


Review The first thing you notice about the record is the way it has been recorded. It is certainly not a slick, polished, radio-friendly production, and in a sense is perhaps an audiophile’s nightmare. Frequencies sometimes sound indistinct, and many of the vocal takes are recorded very dry, whilst the instrumentation is enhanced by merely room ambience, rather than excessive use of plug-ins, digital reverbs, compressors, EQs and the like.

In reality though, it is this dynamic and organic approach to cutting tracks that the record benefits from. Frequently the band swing from passages so quiet and gentle you fancy you can almost hear Plant breathing into his mic, to powerfully loose sections in which Page is often inspired to produce fretwork that is magnificently understated, beautifully executed and very moving. The rhythm section combine to subtly underpin the melodic passages and drive the harder sections with a dynamic aggression; they’ve never sounded better, and Page and Plant have never been more ably supported.

Throughout the recording Page makes subtle use of effects to enhance his guitar playing – a touch of tremolo here, a dash of tape echo there – and it sounds as though most his overdrive comes from careful use of his guitar’s volume control rather than pedals or rack effects; once again it’s this natural approach to playing that makes it rank amongst his best on record.

The songs themselves are amongst the finest that Page and Plant have written together. Plant’s lyrics are straightforward and resonate with an honesty that is refreshing and rewarding to listen to time and again. His more poetic side is beautifully balanced, for the most part not drifting into pastiche. The melodies are interesting, and often a song will traverse several moods with musical twists and turns along the way, never becoming formulaic. What they do require is time and effort – time to actually sit, listen and enjoy. There are one or two exceptions – Burning Up, House of Love and Sons of Freedom sound to me as though a few riff driven rockers were urgently needed and had they been consigned to the b-sides collection, I wouldn’t be complaining.

A reviewer below questions Albini’s involvement and suggests his presence is hardly felt. In so saying, he has completely missed the point of Steve Albini and good producers in general. Albini was not brought to the sessions to make Page and Plant sound like Nirvana, (for which we are all no doubt, very thankful), but what he has done is what every good producer strives to do – get the best out of the band and onto tape. If a record sounds like a producer has left their muddy footprints all over it, then it becomes the producer’s record, not the band’s. This is the sound of a band playing together in a room, and Albini has captured it well.

I understand why some people haven’t taken to it. It doesn’t have the immediacy of some of their earlier recorded output, nor the weight and urgency. It is understated and reflective, and that’s exactly what I love about it, and what many, it seems, hate about it. Well, that’s OK, I guess, each to their own! But, overall, in my opinion, this is an excellent record, expertly performed, beautifully recorded and well worth the money.

Review I avoided this one when it came out, wary of the possibility of an embaressing superstar-reunion-type situation. I bought it used, on a whim, not really expecting much. But I’m eating my words with a spoon. This is truly one of the finest albums I have ever heard. Each of the songs is strong, and together, they create a powerful collection, completely deserving of the Grammy won in 1999 (for “Most High”).

Jimmy Page’s performance is a terrific surprise. While no one can fault his godlike capability with his instrument, many of his post-Zep solo efforts have seemed a little cold and clinical. Here, he weaves a lush wall of sound that is not only a mindblowing ride up and down the fingerboard, but is also warm, passionate, yearning, experimental. Plant’s voice has retained its visceral beauty; this album expands his thematic and emotional ranges.

The songwriting is powerful: solid, mature lyrics paired with impeccable musical composition. It’s like Zeppelin all grown up — this is what the band *could* have achieved if not for John Bonham’s untimely passing. The only way it could have been improved (not that it needs improvement) would be if John Paul Jones had made an appearance. For anyone who hasn’t checked out JPJ’s solo work, especially the eponymous “Zooma”, you’re missing out.

If you enjoyed the “No Quarter” version of “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” and Plant’s latest, “Dreamland,” you will *love* this album.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Jimmy Page & Robert Plant Walking Into Clarksdale | | Leave a comment

Genesis Return To Roma (September 1982)


Palasport, Rome, Italy – September 7th, 1982

Disc 1: Dance On A Volcano, Behind The Lines, Follow You Follow Me, Dodo / Lurker, Abacab, Supper’s Ready, Misunderstanding, Man On The Corner

Disc 2: In The Cage / Cinema Show / Slipperman, Afterglow, Turn It On Again, drum duet / Los Endos, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway / Watcher Of The Skies, I Know What I Like

Genesis’ Three Sides Live Encore tour in 1982 served as a two month long reprise of the Abacab tour the previous year.

Beginning in Peoria, Illinois on August 1st, it took in dates in both North America and Europe before culminating in the famous “Six Of The Best” reunion with Peter Gabriel at Milton Keynes. They played two shows in Rome on September 6th and September 7th. Italy was one of the first places to become fanatical about the band but this represented their first appearance in the country in seven years on the Lamb tour.

Return To Roma contains the complete September 7th performance. This tape source was released previously on Apocalypse (GHOST 0101/0102) in similar quality. It is a good to very good and loud audience recording. There is distortion during the very loud passages and has a cuts after “Abacab” (eliminating Collins’ introduction to “Supper’s Ready”),

This is very good at capturing the atmosphere in the Palasport that night. The crowd is cheering and singing along and even get into football chants throughout the evening. It is one of the most enthusiastic crowds one will hear on an audience recording and this turns out to be a tremendously exciting concert. Normally Collins would speak in the native language and engage the audience to build enthusiasm but there is no need for that.

The show begins with the medley of “Dance On A Volcano,” ”Behind The Lines,” ”Follow You Follow Me.” Collins speaks to the audience in poor Italian explaining they will be playing a mixture of new songs, old songs, and really old songs. Two songs from the latest album, “Dodo/Lurker” and ”Abacab” follow.

“Supper’s Ready” was resurrected for the encore tour for the first time since the Wind & Wuthering days and these would be the epic’s final live performances. Everybody in the audience shouts “a flower!” at the appropriate time. “Misunderstanding” is followed by one of the all time greastest versions of “Man On A Corner.” The enthusiasm of the crowd and acoustics of the venue transform the thin drum machine into an industrial metronome and adds a new dimension to the song.

Collins introduces the band before “Turn It On Again” and in the finale of the set he drum duet sounds tremendous in the cacaphonous venue and the audience even begin to sing more football chants in the middle. The first encore is the bizarre melding of “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” (with everyone singing along!) with “Watcher Of The Skies.”

Highland released it in 1998 and is hard to find, but despite the limitations of the tape source this is a great title to track down.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Return To Roma | , | Leave a comment

The Firm The Smugglers (Austin, March 1985)


Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas – March 23rd, 1985

Disc 1: Closer, City Sirenes, Make Or Break, The Morning After, Together, Cadillac, Prelude, Money Can’t Buy, Radioactive, Live In Peace, Midnight Moonlight, You Lost That Loving Feeling

Disc 2: introduction, bass solo, The Chase, guitar solo, drum solo, I Just Want To Make Love To You, Full Circle, Someone To Love, Cut Loose, Boogie Mama, Everybody Needs Somebody

Smugglers on Tarantura features a brand-new soundboard recording from The Firm’s first US tour. Recorded weeks after their first album, this is an authentic recording from the March 23rd, 1985 show in Austin, Texas which has never circulated before. It is very clear and the mix between the instruments is very good, but the audience sounds very far away giving it a clinical feel. There are also three cuts in the tape: after “Live In Peace”, at 2:27 in “Full Circle”, and between the final number “Cut Loose” and the first encore “Boogie Mama”. Only the second cut results in any loss of music.

This joins a small list of commercially released titles covering the Firm. An early vinyl title was released called European Tour ’84 with the show on December 3rd, 1984 in Frankfurt. Boots on compact disc include The Firm with the December 8th, 1984 from Hammersmith Odeon, London show and You Never Close Your Eyes with the Costa Mesa, California show on March 16th, 1985 (a unique show where “Fortune Hunter”, a song that dates from the XYZ sessions but not released until 1986′s Mean Business, is given its debut) both on Midas Touch which were released in the early nineties.

Jimmy Page’s Firm (BM 029) is listed as a Los Angeles show but is really a tape from December 12th, 1984 at the Hammersmith Odeon. Double Closer on Blimp (010/11/12/13) is a four-disc set with soundboards from the LA Forum on March 14th, 1985 and Oakland Coliseum on March 15th, 1985 and is one of the most popular titles.

Somethin’ Else (misspelled Something’ Eles on the cover) on Rag Doll (RDM-942010A/B) contains the May 11th, 1985 Spectrum Philadelphia tape and Radioactive on Dakota has a soundboard tape from the May 22nd, 1985 in the Wembley Arena in London. Playhouse Theater (Luxor-006) is a 2cdr set which contains the May 20th, 1985 Edinburgh soundboard and most recently United Kingdome, a 4cdr set on the Perfect Stranger label surfaced with the May 22nd, 1985 and December 8th, 1984 London tapes.

The common assumption about The Firm, that they were long on potential but short on execution, is true. Rodgers belts out powerful vocals and Page plays interesting riffs on the guitar, but they seem undermined by the rhythm section who play the standard arena-rock beats translated for the eighties corporate rock consumer. The set list begins with the juxtaposition of the opening songs from The Firm, “Closer” and “Make Or Break” with the Jimmy Page solo tune “City Sirenes” from the Death Wish II soundtrack and the Paul Rodgers song The Morning After” from his 1983 solo LP Cut Loose.

The set list is compiled from The Firm LP except for “Satisfaction Guaranteed”, three songs from Page’s movie soundtrack, four songs from Cut Loose and the Mean Business song “Cadillac”. Before the third song “Make Or Break” Rodgers says, “How are we doing tonight? Nice to be in Austin, Texas” confirming the location of the tape. “Prelude” is introduced as “a classical piece by Chopin, I think was his name. Anybody ever hear of him?” and the instrumental is segued directly with the following song “Money Can’t Buy”.

“Radioactive” was the band’s only real big hit and is received warmly by what can be heard of by the audience. Rodgers begins the introduction to “Midnight Moonlight” by saying, “we got a number that is very special to us. We firsted it on the ARMS tour. And actually Ronnie Lane is here somewhere tonight. We’d like to say a big hello to him…” Page chimes in by saying, “I can tell you folks without him and the ARMS tour we wouldn’t even be here”. After a version reminiscent of the ARMS tour Rodgers says, “that was for you, Ronnie.”

The lengthy solo section of the show follows the band introduction with Franklin producing some melodies on the fretless bass leading into “The Chase”. Page plays a guitar solo that is very similar to the one he played at the 1979 Knebworth shows including using the violin bow before a four-minute drum solo. They play a very heavy version of “I Just Want To Make Love To You” and “Someone To Love”, which Rodgers introduces as a favorite. “Boogie Mama” is the first encore followed by a fun version of the Solomon Burke standard “Everybody Needs Someone To Love”.

Right when they arrive at the “you, you, you” Page has a malfunction and the band stop playing, leaving a minute of crowd noise between 3:15-4:15 until they pick it up again. The song runs for another two minutes and unfortunately fades out right when Page plays perhaps his most furious solo of the evening. The ending is the only disappointment on this tape. Smugglers is limited to one hundred numbered copies and is packaged in a thin cardboard sleeve and is another interesting release by the Tarantura label.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | The Firm The Smugglers | , | Leave a comment

Jimi Hendrix Live At The Fillmore East (1999)


I have said this before when covering any Hendrix reissues, the best thing that could have ever happened to Jimi’s work is that his family took care of it. The Hendrix family, in cooperation with MCA Records, have been reissuing a tremendous amount of the live concert recordings and entailing the history of Jimi and his two groups, “The Experience” and “Band Of Gypsys.”

While Jimi’s studio work remains as relevant today as the day it was recorded, it’s the live work that has been shedding new light upon the musical genius of the man and the people that played keyed roles in developing his stage presence and sound. This particular reworked package comes from the Universal Music Group archives.

Buddy Miles (drums) and Billy Cox (bass) were the two new members of the Hendrix camp that assisted Jimi in taking his music in new directions. Although he kept things exciting with the use of wah-wah pedals and other technical wizardry of the day, he utilized the experience of Cox and Miles to create a blend of rock, soul, and rhythm and blues that remains unrivaled to this day. This two CD set expands upon the original release. The tracks “Burning Desire” and “Izabella,” make their debut, as do alternate versions of “Power Of Soul” and “Machine Gun.”

“We Gotta Live Together,” with the lead vocals handled by Miles, who has a very powerful voice, are a welcome change to the Hendrix sound. This newly found freedom and diversity allowed Jimi’s guitar playing to push itself to new boundaries in several genres simultaneously. As it states in the revealing liner notes- “The audience didn’t know what to expect from us, but from the time we hit that first note, they were in awe.” Yes indeed, this was jaw dropping playing by the entire group. The sound is phenomenal, and it will transport you to those four historical nights with ease.

Hendrix was right on the cusp of something big in the development of his music and persona, it’s a shame that it had to end as quickly as it began.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Jimi Hendrix Live At The Fillmore East | | Leave a comment

Genesis The Demo Mix Down On Broadway


Disc One: The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway different mix 1, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway different mix 2, Fly On A Windshield/Broadway Melody Of 1974 rehearsal take 1, Fly On A Windshield/Broadway Melody Of 1974 rehearsal take 2, Cuckoo Cocoon different mix demo 1, Cuckoo Cocoon different mix demo 2, Cuckoo Cocoon different mix demo 3, Cuckoo Cocoon different mix demo 4, In The Cage different mix demo, In The Cage rehearsal instrumental take, The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging different mix demo#1, The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging incomplete different mix demo#2, The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging different mix demo#3, Back In N.Y.C. different mix demo#1, Back In N.Y.C. ending different mix demo#2, Back In N.Y.C. ending different mix demo#3, Back In N.Y.C. different mix demo#4, Counting Out Time incomplete different bass in demo, The Carpet Crawlers different mix demo#1, The Carpet Crawlers different mix demo#2

Disc 2: Lilywhite Lilith different mix demo, The Waiting Room sound effects only demo, The Waiting Room live at Shrine Auditorium Los Angeles January 24th, 1975, The Waiting Room different mix final demo, Anyway different mix demo, Anyway different final mix demo, Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist different final mix demo with Phil Collins, Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist rehearsal instrumental take 1, Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist rehearsal instrumental take 2, Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist rehearsal instrumental take 3, Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist rehearsal instrumental take 4, The Lamia different mix demo#1, The Lamia different mix demo#2, The Colony Of Slippermen rehearsal instrumental take#1, The Colony Of Slippermen rehearsal instrumental take#2, The Colony Of Slippermen rehearsal instrumental take#3, The Colony Of Slippermen ending rehearsal instrumental take#4, The Light Dies Down On Broadway different vocal rehearsal take, Riding The Scree different mix demo, In The Rapids incomplete different mix demo#1, In The Rapids incomplete different mix demo#2, In The Rapids different mix demo#1, In The Rapids different mix demo#2, In The Rapids rehearsal take, It rehearsal take 1, It rehearsal take 2

After reaching more success with the release of Foxtrot in 1972 and Selling England By The Pound in 1973, Genesis became even more ambitious by releasing The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, a 2LP concept album. Following in a line of The Who’s Tommy, Tales From Topographic Oceans by Yes and A Passion Play from Jethro Tull, Genesis’ contribution to this genre is one of the more bizarre yet fascinating creations. The demos for Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway are a strange collection of documents. These discs contain amateur recorded demos, different takes, and even a live track placed in proper sequential order of the final work. Before Highland released The Demo Mix On Broadway there were several other collections including The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Outtakes (OUTTAKES COMPANY-G092110), Silence Of The Lamb, In The Beginning, Vol. 1 (Extremely Rare — EXR 005), In The Beginning, Vol. 6 (remastered) (Extremely Rare — EXR 022), In The Beginning Vol 13 (EXR 029) and In The Glare Of A Light (Alternative Recording Company ARC 021-022). Highland gather together all of the relevant outtakes and assemble them into one convenient package in the best available sound quality.

Genesis worked on their opus from August to October 1974 in Headley Grange using the Island Studio mobile truck with final mixing at Island Studios in London. As Phil Collins explained, “We were living at Headley Grange – this house that Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and the Pretty Things had lived in. it was a bit of a shambles – in fact they’d ripped the shit out of it. We were all living together and writing together and it went very well to start with. Pete had said he wanted to do all the words so Mike and Tony had backed off and we were merrily churning out this music. Every time we sat down and played, something good came out.”

Peter Gabriel said: “Several ideas for the album were presented in order for the band to exercise a democratic vote. I knew mine was the strongest and I knew it would win – or, I knew that I could get it to win. The only other idea that was seriously considered was The Little Prince which Mike was in favour of – a kid’s story. I thought that was too twee. This was 1974; it was pre-punk but I still thought we needed to base the story around a contemporary figure rather than a fantasy creation. We were beginning to get into the era of the big, fat supergroups of the seventies and I thought, ‘I don’t want to go down with this Titanic.’

“Once the story idea had been accepted we had all these heavy arguments about writing the lyrics. My argument was that there aren’t many novels which are written by a committee. I said, ‘I think this is something that only I’m going to be able to get into, in terms of understanding the characters and the situations.’ I wrote indirectly about lots of my emotional experiences in The Lamb and so I didn’t want other people coloring it. In fat there are parts of it which are almost indecipherable and very difficult which I don’t think are very successful. In some ways it was quite a traditional concept album – it was a type of Pilgrim’s Progress but with this street character in leather jacket and jeans. Rael would have been called a punk at that time without all the post-’76 connotations. The Ramones hadn’t started then, although the New York Dolls had, but they were more glam-punk. The Lamb was looking towards West Side Story as a starting point.”

Gabriel’s reference to John Bunyan’s 1678 novel The Pilgrim’s Progress is significant in understanding the plot his work. All good drama centers on the struggle of the hero against challenging odds to emerge victorious over the adversary and growing spiritually in the process. But Gabriel’s work is unique because, while most heroes deal with enemies or internal struggles, he focuses upon the sexual awakening of the male protagonist Rael. The female’s sexual awakening has been covered in literature before by authors such as Thomas Hardy, Kate Chopin and Judy Blume, focusing on the male aspect is rare. This is supported by the consistent reference to the male genitalia with “Counting Out Time,” and “The Colony Of Slipperman” where the raven snatches it from the character and the end of the story is concerned with the quest to retrieve it in the rapids. Also important are the use of mythological figures Lilith and the Lamia, both of whom have strong sexual connotations. The conclusion of the story seems to suggest a reversal of the “free love” movement with a prudish use of the double entendre in the final song “It.”

The first two tracks are different mixes of the opening song “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.” Except for the little guitar introduction and the fade out, they are identical to the final version used on the LP. This is followed by two different takes of “Fly On A Windshield.” The first is a twelve minute amateur rehearsal tape of the band working through the rhythm under the heavy mellotron lines of Banks. Gabriel can be heard scatting the melody over the music. The second is another mix of the commercial version of the track with less echo on the vocals.

The four tracks of ”Cuckoo Cocoon” also come from the final mixing at Island Studios and differ very little from one another and from the final version. They emphasize the different instruments and experiment a bit with the echo, but the differences between them are minimal. It is the same story with the first “In The Cage.” The various instruments are louder compared to the final version. The second “In The Cage” is from an amateur cassette demo from Headley Grange which begins during the solo as the band runs through the song. The three takes of “The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging” all are variations of the commercial version. The second is a forty-four second fragment of the beginning only, and the differences are minuscule.

The four “Back In NYC” experiment with different mixes of the ending and its transition into “Hairless Heart.” The third and fourth are only forty second fragments, and in it the band try emphasizing different instruments such as the bass or the tambourine. “Counting Out Time” is merely a two minute fragment of the track with louder guitar in the mix. The first disc ends with two different mixes of “The Carpet Crawlers.” The differences are again subtle, but in the first Gabriel’s vocals sound a bit more buried in the mix while in the second Collins’ backing vocals are a bit higher. The second also has the song’s original, awkward ending.

The second disc begins with “Lilywhite Lilith” that is pretty much identical to the finished version. This is followed by a five minute track “The Waiting Room.” The first two minutes are concerned with the sound effects and Gabriel can be heard speaking in the control room speaking to someone many identify as Brian Eno. As Christopher Currie writes: “Eno himself has never specified his role, claiming only that he helped the group to adjust a few tracks. Frequently suggested possibilities as to the identity of these tracks include: vocal distortions on “The Grand Parade”, keyboard distortions on “Riding The Scree” and “In The Cage”, effects on “The Colony Of Slippermen”, etc. Tony Banks has recently claimed that Eno’s role was actually quite minimal, and that he didn’t really deserve an official credit. Nevertheless, this mystery, too, refuses to die.” This is followed by “The Waiting Room” from the KBFH Shrine tape and another mix of the song.

The first track for “Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist” is the final version with a bit less echo on the vocals. The next four come from an amateur recording of the band practicing the melody and the transition from the happy melodic guitar theme into change into a minor key. Gabriel doesn’t sing the lyrics but claps along at points. The two takes of “The Lamia” are the final version mixed with different levels of echo on the vocals. The four “The Colony Of Slippermen” is another amateur cassette rehersal recording running through the organ theme. It is the same with the minute long rehearsal of “The Light Dies Down On Broadway,” which features Gabriel improvising lyrics.

“Riding The Scree” is the commercial version with minor differences in the mix. Five different tracks of “In The Rapids” follow. The first four are fragments of different verses in the song and, with the pausing of the tape, sound like monitor mixes. The first is a different mix of the first verse “Moving down the water / John is drifting out of sight, / Its only at the turning point / That you find out how you fight / In the cold, feel the cold / all around / And the rush of crashing water /Surrounds me with its sound.”

The second track focuses upon the fourth verse: “I’m spiralled down the river bed, / My fire is burning low. / Catching hold of a rock that’s firm, / I’m waiting for John to be carried past. /We hold together, hold together and shoot the rapids fast.” The third track backs up a bit to “And the rush of crashing water / Surrounds me with its sound.”

The last three tracks on the disc, the final “In The Rapids” and the two takes of “It,” are amateur cassette rehearsal demos in very good to excellent quality. The arrangements don’t differ much from the final versions, but Gabriel improvises the lyrics during “It.” His voice cracks at times throughout as he tries to keep up with the furious pace of the song. It is perhaps the most interesting tape on this release, but it makes one wish his lyrics were more audible since whatever ever he is singing, he sings passionately. The Demo Mix Down On Broadway is packaged in a double slimline jewel case with an interesting variation of the cover art with Gabriel truly taking the role of Rael on the cover and Collins taking the place of John. Outtake material is valuable in tracing an artist’s development in general. Although there is nothing here truly revelatory, it does make one appreciate the work that went into the piece.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Genesis The Demo Mix Down On Broadway | , | Leave a comment

Jimi Hendrix Morning Symphony Ideas (2000)


“Morning Symphony Ideas” is a fantastical journey into the creative process and musical genius of James Marshall Hendrix.

This unbelievable collection of songs of previously unreleased songs and home demo’s gives you a bird’s eye view into Jimi’s intensity and complexities as an artist. These tracks never would have been released if he was alive. He demanded painstaking meticulous perfectionism with every song before it was ready to master for production. Just the same, this material is absolutely phenomenal, whether it’s a demo or unfinished track.

What are all the styles covered on this CD? Well, you name it and Hendrix did it. He basically could have picked up his guitar on any given day and decide to record a blues, jazz, or rock album without even thinking about it. The first song, “Keep On Groovin,'” is nearly 30 minutes long. I had to keep looking at my CD player to see if it had changed over to another track, amazingly it just kept going.

Jimi plays everything from rock, blues, jazz, and funk that would put George Clinton to shame. The kicker is that he accomplishes it all in one song. “Scorpio Woman” is another marathon fusion excursion with just as much musical diversity, clocking in at over 21 minutes. You also will hear some Latin Flamenco and island influences that are similar to reggae with a harder rock edge in “Jungle.”

Just when you thought you just heard the latest and greatest from the archives from this guitar legend they unearth another gem. If you think about the period of time he was around its mind boggling how much material he had committed to tape. It’s obvious that if he wasn’t playing live he was in the studio or at home recording something. The evolution of his music is breathtaking; I cannot even imagine how he would have evolved as an artist if he had lived. I am just beside myself as I delve further into this man’s legacy. This is jaw dropping six-string dexterity.

Another absolute must for any guitar aficionado or Hendrix fan.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Jimi Hendrix Morning Symphony Ideas | | Leave a comment

Genesis Something Inside Me (West Palm Beach, January 1975)


West Palm Beach Convention Hall, West Palm Beach, FL – January 10th, 1975

Disc 1(59:19): The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Fly On a Windshield, Broadway Melody Of 1974, Cuckoo Cocoon, In The Cage, The Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging, Story of Rael I, Back In N.Y.C., Hairless Heart, Counting Out Time, The Carpet Crawlers, The Chamber Of 32 Doors, Story of Rael II, Lilywhite Lilith, The Waiting Room

Disc 2 (47:32): Here Comes The Supernatural Anesthetist, The Lamia, Silent Sorrow In Empty Boats, The Colony Of Slippermen, Ravine, The Light Dies Down On Broadway, Riding The Scree, In The Rapids, It, The Musical Box

When Genesis resumed their US Lamb tour 1975 they started with two shows at the West Palm Beach Convention Hall in Florida on January 9th and January 10th. The second show exists on both a very good audience recording and a soundboard recording. It has been thought this soundboard, along with the soundboard for the following night in Lakeland Florida, belonged initially to Mike Rutherford before being circulated. Something Inside Me on Virtuoso presents the complete soundboard recording which was pressed before on Supper’s Ready With A Little Lost Lamb (Colosseum CD 97-C-25 A/B), which dates this tape as the January 11th Lakeland show, and The Lamb Descends On Waterbury (Oxygen OXY 089-090) which labels this as the Waterbury, Connecticut show and is supplemented with various Lamb outtakes from Headley Grange. The Lamb Lives (Backstage BKCD 033/034) uses this tape as a base with various other sources used to complete the show.

There are cuts in “The Waiting Room” and at the end which eliminates the story before “The Musical Box” and the opening verse. In general it is a clear and lively stereo recording, but there are times when there are slight unbalances between the instruments during the first half, such as Collins’ percussion in “Hairless Heart,” Hackett’s guitar in “Back In N.Y.C.” and Collins’ backing vocals in “Carpet Crawlers” are raised in the mix. After the first big cut the tape improves immensely and it can be considered to be one of the best Lamb soundboards in circulation.

The tape begins a few second after Banks begins the spine-tingling keyboard introduction and Gabriel’s intonation of “and the lamb, lies down, on Broadway….” The opening numbers in general are melodic, catchy, and draw the listener into the narrative. Gabriel’s flute is a bit buried in the mix during “Cuckoo Cocoon” and Collins’ percussion overshadows the melody. The band heat up for “In The Cage,” one of their best stage pieces which would pretty much be retained in the set list even to the present day. All of the Rael stories are comparatively short, being little more than Gabriel’s exposition of the narrative of the piece. He tells the story of Rael reading the book about the erogenous zones and how he is left cuddling the porcupine before they get into a dark and brooding version of “Back In N.Y.C.” followed by a majestic “Hairless Heart.”

After the middle part cacophony in “The Lamia” sounds beautiful. The entire Slipperman episode is marred by Gabriel’s costume which audibly interferes with the vocals. Several in the band complained about this very issue and their concerns are justified here. Hackett’s guitar again becomes prominent during “Ravine” and in the space of two minutes accomplishes much as he leads them into the melancholy “The Light Dies Down On Broadway.“ The sound of someone rewinding a tape is audible at the very end of the song. Banks’ synthesizer predominates on “Riding The Scree,” adding life to the strange bit of recitative. “In The Rapids” and “It” end the set.

In the encore Gabriel’s story is missing and what is left is Phil Collins saying, “we’re going to play an older song” before “The Musical Box.” Despite the cut the song is nine minutes long with very heavy jamming in the middle. Collins adds an uncharacteristic demon voice to Gabriel’s old man’ lament in the latter half of the song. Overall it is an extraordinary performance in great sound quality. Virtuoso have been releasing many of the Lamb soundboards of late in definitive editions and this comes close. They could have improved this release if they edited in the audience recording for the complete concert but they chose to retain the soundboard source only. Something Inside Me is packaged in a double slimline jewel case and with a collage of Lamb photos on the artwork, something they’ve been utilizing a great deal.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Genesis Something Inside Me | , | Leave a comment

Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)


We’ve been down this road before of critiquing double albums which would have worked better as a single album. See our recent review of Exile On Main Street by The Rolling Stones or stayed tuned for our look at The Beatles’ White Album later this year. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, the 1973 double-length album by Elton John may also fit this mold. The album starts extremely strong, with deeply produced and thoughtful compositions through the first side and a half, but then the bottom falls out with a barrage of trite filler before a slight recovery towards the end of side four. The album comes at the end of an incredibly prolific, four and a half year span for John and lyricist Bernie Taupin. In that span which began in mid-1969, the pair had composed and recorded a live album, a film soundtrack, and six studio albums before this double seventh album.

After a failed attempt to record in Jamaica, the album was recorded in a 18th century castle outside Paris, France called the Château d’Hérouville, where Elton John had recorded his previous two albums, Honky Château in 1972 and Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player earlier in 1973. Taupin reportedly wrote all the lyrics to the album’s 17 songs in two and a half weeks while John composed most of the music in three days while in Jamaica.

The album was produced by Gus Dudgeon, who was not initially expecting to produce a two-record collection. However, John and Taupin had composed 22 tracks for the album and ended up recording 18 of these (two of which were fused together for the opening medley). This diverse double album recapped many of the styles (for good and bad) which John explored through his first four years in the spotlight and even added a bit of prog rock with the epic opener “Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding)”. This eleven minute epic starts with a long, multi-part instrumental with doomy organs accented by synths performed by engineer David Hentschel, and of course plenty of piano, all meant to replicate the type of music John envisioned played at his own funeral. When the song proper finally kicks in, it is riff-driven and melodic with a backing vocal chorus and a very active guitar by Davey Johnstone.

The ballad “Candle In the Wind” was a recurring theme throughout Elton John’s career, with three separate versions released as singles and reaching the pop charts in 1974, 1988, and 1997. This original version has the most rock “decor” with a strongly distorted guitar above the piano melody and more great harmonies, fitting the epic theme of this album. It’s lyrics pay homage to Marilyn Monroe, with the actual phrase “candle in the wind” first used in tribute to Janis Joplin.

“Bennie and the Jets” is a choppy piano song with glam overtones about a fictional band (much like David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust). It would go on to become one of John’s most popular songs, but the artist was against releasing it as a single in the first place because original version in its first carnation was too “dry”. Some live effects were added by Dudgeon to give the song some atmosphere, which livened it up enough for John to capitulate.

The title song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” is the finest composition on the album. It was written by Taupin, playing homage to the first movie he even saw as a child, The Wizard of Oz, and facing the realities of life as he had now grown up. John performs a signature vocal part in an extraordinarily high register, which Dudgeon claims is totally natural and completely improvised by John in the studio. The slowly-building arrangement reaches a full orchestral climax that leaves the listener wanting for more.

Side two has a couple of more fine tunes, the piano folk “This Song Has No Title” with light flute and soaring vocal melodies, and the upbeat “Grey Seal”, with a driving bass by Dee Murray to complement John’s boogie piano, with a definite 70s pre-disco sound. Then the album reaches its first song to not feel cohesive nor epic, like a bad joke in a serious drama, called “Jamaica Jerk Off”, a dreadful mock-reggae. “I’ve Seen That Movie Too” finishes the side in an attempt at another mellow classic that doesn’t quite measure up to the brilliance of “Rocket Man” or “Tiny Dancer”.

The album’s third side is, by far, the most forgettable, “Sweet Painted Lady” is a “shock” song about a prostitute where Taupin uses explicit and cheap lyrics (“getting paid for being laid, I guess that’s the name of the game”) in a lame attempt to add some sleaze to the act. “The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909–34)” has a slight “The Night Chicago Died” or “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” quality, but is otherwise very forgettable. “Dirty Little Girl” is essentially “Bennie and the Jets” reformed in both music and melody to present a screed against a promiscuous woman. The only somewhat interesting song on the side is “All the Girls Love Alice”, about a young groupie with lesbian appeal, that musically returns to the higher quality.

The final side starts with “Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n’ Roll)”, a totally retro tune right down to the bad Sha-Na-Na-style harmonies, with the only really interesting element being John’s Farfisa organ lead during the bridge. A much more convincing rocker is “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, a straight-up hard rock song with drummer Nigel Olsson shining brightest along with the driving, riff-driven electric guitar of Johnstone. The song was a surprise hit single, reaching the top 10 in the UK and the top 20 in the US, despite being banned on many radio stations fearing that the title would incite violence.

The final three songs on the album gains back some of the credibility built up earlier. “Roy Rogers” is a lazy country waltz with guitar pedal effects meant to replicate a steel guitar. “Social Disease” is also country-tinged with barking dogs and inclusion of banjo and twangy guitars by Johnstone above the choppy piano of John. “Harmony” closes the record finely with acoustic guitar, thoughtful, melodic progressions, and (of course) fine vocal harmonies. The song was considered as a fourth single, but by then it was too close to Elton John’s eighth album, 1974′s Caribou.

In all, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was a very good album (filler and all) and was the climax of Elton John’s early, artistically lucrative, peak years. His output is terms of quality and quantity began to thin out through the late 1970s, but he would come back strong in the 1980s with another successful phase in his career.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road | | Leave a comment

Robert Plant The Principle Of Moments (1983)


The 1983 release of The Principle of Moments was the second solo album by Robert Plant, following the disbandment of Led Zeppelin in late 1980. The album follows close on the heels of Plant’s debut, Pictures At Eleven and employs the same musicians and production team. Recorded in Wales, the production was polished and clinical while maintaining enough rock edge to keep it original and interesting. Plant had declined to tour following his debut because he didn’t want to perform any Led Zeppelin songs live and didn’t yet have enough original solo material to justify a tour. With the release of this second album, Plant’s second life as a major recording artist took was fully spawned.

The Principle of Moments was the first release on Plant’s independent label Es Paranza Records, after the folding of Led Zeppelin’s label Swan Song, which was also the label from Plant’s debut. Swan Song ceased operations due to the failing health of Zeppelin manager Peter Grant. When Swan Song’s offices were cleared out in 1983, early demos from Iron Maiden, Heart and other popular bands were found.

The sound of The Principle of Moments fuses new wave rock with some elements of reggae and abstract motifs and is percussion heavy with sharp, high-pitched guitars, led by guitarist Robbie Blunt and drummer Phil Collins. While not as dynamic as in the heart of the Zeppelin years, Plant’s vocals are melodic and refined. The album’s title comes from the scientific Varignon’s Theorem, which states that the moment of any force is equal to the algebraic sum of the moments of the components of that force. With the experimental tracks on this album, Plant seems to be declaring his independence from the Zeppelin sound and celebrating his own “moment” in time.

Although not officially released as a single, the opener “Other Arms” reached number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. Musically, the song continues the style of Pictures at Eleven, melodic and heavy on the chorus backing vocals, a long way from the improvised arrangements of Zeppelin’s early days. “In the Mood” (which was officially released as a single) follows and marks the point where the album starts to distinguish itself. Built on bassist Paul Martinez’s very simple yet infectious bass line, with Blunt’s simple, strummed chords on top and a strong percussion presence by Collins in contrast to laid back music and vocals. Plant’s melody rhythm is almost like blue-eyed rap and this translated into a Top 40 single on the pop charts.

Keyboardist Jezz Woodroffe shines brightest on the ballad “Through with the Two Step”, where Plant’s melodic verse vocals drip with melancholy sweetness to the waltz of Woodroffe’s wafty keyboards and in contrast to Blunt’s excellent lead later in the song. “Horizontal Departure” is a very upbeat and entertaining, sex-infused rock song, like a new wave version of Zeppelin;s “Whole Lotta Love”. Again Collins has a very strong and dynamic performances on drums, contrasting against the very measured riffs of Blunt and Martinez.

The album’s biggest hit is the closer “Big Log”. Reflective and somber, this is a mature song in every respect, musically, lyrically and production-wise. It employs some of the better synth-era techniques – the rubber kick effect, snappy top beat – along with well refined guitars, a swell of long synths, and vocal choruses by session singers John David and Ray Martinez. But this song is a true showcase for Robbie Blunt, one of rock’s forgotten great guitarists, whose cleaver latin phrasing leaves the most indellible mark in this truly unique composition.

The Principle of Moments includes a trio of experimental songs. “Messin’ With the Mekon” starts with an almost Jimmy Page-like riff before giving way to a moderate Caribbean groove with measured beats, although the arrangement does seems hollow when trying too hard to fit odd pieces together. “Wreckless Love” contains a mixture of electronic and Middle Eastern textures and other highly experimental arrangement that only gels due to Plant’s strong melody. The song features Barriemore Barlow, formally of Jethro Tull, on drums, as does “Stranger Here…Then Oven There”. Another experimental song with some brilliant verse vocals, this song also suffers from too many superfluous effects and arrangements, which do little more than interrupt the reggae beat and flow of the song’s core.

With two Top 10 albums under his belt, Plant launched a successful tour in late 1983, taking the stage for the first time since Zeppelin’s Knebworth concerts in 1979. In the following years Plant would work with his former bandmates sporadically, starting with the short-lived oldies project The Honeydrippers, while continuing to build his solo career.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | Robert Plant The Principle Of Moments | | Leave a comment

John Lennon Anthology (1998)


CD I: 1) Working Class Hero; 2) God; 3) I Found Out; 4) Hold On; 5) Isolation; 6) Love; 7) Mother; 8) Remember; 9) Imagine (take 1); 10) “Fortunately”; 11) Baby Please Don’t Go; 12) Oh My Love; 13) Jealous Guy; 14) Maggie Mae; 15) How Do You Sleep; 16) God Save Oz; 17) Do The Oz; 18) I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier; 19) Give Peace A Chance; 20) Look At Me; 21) Long Lost John;

CD II: 1) New York City; 2) Attica State; 3) Imagine; 4) Bring On The Lucie; 5) Woman Is The Nigger Of The World; 6) Geraldo Rivera – One To One Concert; 7) Woman Is The Nigger Of The World (live); 8) It’s So Hard; 9) Come Together; 10) Happy Xmas; 11) Luck Of The Irish; 12) John Sinclair; 13) The David Frost Show; 14) Mind Games (I Promise); 15) Mind Games (Make Love Not War); 16) One Day At A Time; 17) I Know; 18) I’m The Greatest; 19) Goodnight Vienna; 20) Jerry Lewis Telethon; 21) “A Kiss Is Just A Kiss”; 22) Real Love; 23) You Are Here;

CD III: 1) What You Got; 2) Nobody Loves You When You’re Down And Out; 3) Whatever Gets You Through The Night (home); 4) Whatever Gets You Through The Night (studio); 5) Yesterday (parody); 6) Be Bop A Lula; 7) Rip It Up/Ready Teddy; 8) Scared; 9) Steel And Glass; 10) Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox); 11) Bless You; 12) Going Down On Love; 13) Move Over Ms L; 14) Ain’t She Sweet; 15) Slippin’ And Slidin’; 16) Peggy Sue; 17) Bring It On Home To Me/Send Me Some Lovin’; 18) Phil And John 1; 19) Phil And John 2; 20) Phil And John 3; 21) “When In Doubt, Fuck It”; 22) Be My Baby; 23) Stranger’s Room; 24) Old Dirt Road;

CD IV: 1) I’m Losing You; 2) Sean’s “Little Help”; 3) Serve Yourself; 4) My Life; 5) Nobody Told Me; 6) Life Begins At 40; 7) I Don’t Wanna Face It; 8) Woman; 9) Dear Yoko; 10) Watching The Wheels; 11) I’m Stepping Out; 12) Borrowed Time; 13) The Rishi Kesh Song; 14) Sean’s “Loud”; 15) Beautiful Boy; 16) Mr Hyde’s Gone (Don’t Be Afraid); 17) Only You; 18) Grow Old With Me; 19) Dear John; 20) The Great Wok; 21) Mucho Mungo; 22) Satire 1; 23) Satire 2; 24) Satire 3; 25) Sean’s “In The Sky”; 26) It’s Real.

Obviously, this 4-CD mammoth could not have been released anytime before the water had already been well tested with The Beatles’ Anthology, the last volume of which was released just two years before this box. This is a serious argument in favour of it merely serving as a way of procuring more cash for Mrs Ono Lennon; another argument is that bootleg recordings of most of this stuff had been circulating around the world for years, ever since Yoko gave the permission to air the “lost Lennon tapes” on the radio, and there was still no revenue!…

Okay, I’m gonna drop the pedestrian Yoko-bashing for a bit and get serious. Reading the liner notes leaves little doubt about how personal these “unfinished tapes” have always been to Yoko, not to mention subtly put her in a fair light for everybody (like, for instance, the story about how she was begging John to take part in Harrison’s Bangla Desh concert and he was categorically refusing). And in any case, the box itself is fairly substantial, although technically, I would certainly vote to include the first part of Menlove Ave. on here and delete that bastard record from the catalog.

As it is, the “new” material on the Anthology can basically be counted on the fingers of your two hands – out of the ninety-four tracks, only an absolute minority present any “melodic ideas” you haven’t heard previously. The rest are either preliminary demos, sometimes differing from the final versions of the songs but always hinting at the final results at the least; rough mixes and alternate takes, in most cases inferior to the originals; occasional live tracks from the 1972 period, which was pretty much the only period when John occasionally performed live; and bits and snippets of dialog, studio banter, and suchlike. In short, not too different from the Beatles’ Anthologies, only less interesting because it’s just John.

On the other hand – also more interesting because it’s just John. The four CDs, arranged more or less chronologically, do give you a pretty intimate picture of the man; and given that John Lennon is, after all, one of the most unique persons in XXth century music, it’s worth taking this “deeper” look at him. Wonsaponatime, reviewed above, doesn’t really give a full perspective; it is way too condensed and, in fact, does look a bit like Menlove Ave. Vol. 2 from a certain point of view. By the way, I’m not taking off my older review of that album – it may be rendered useless with the acquisition of the complete set, but the two things really do serve different purposes, want it or not.

Like I said, the four discs are arranged chronologically, each one corresponding to one of the four main periods in John’s solo career. The first one is subtitled “Ascot” (the name of the Lennons’ mansion where they lived in the early Seventies – the white Victorian one you’ve probably all seen in the immortal ‘Imagine’ video) and covers the years 1970 and 1971; predictably, the bulk of the material are alternate versions of tracks from POB and Imagine.

In addition to the observations I put down in the previous review, it’s fun to learn that ‘Hold On’ actually began life as a bouncy music-hallish pop-rocker before taking on the “ethereal” character of POB (and I say the final version is definitely less clumsy); that ‘Mother’ was originally recorded with an acoustic guitar and some guy on the electric guitar adding occasional flourishes; that ‘I Don’t Want To Be A Soldier’ can be found here without the echoey Spectorish production if that thing ever bothered you; and that ‘Remember’, with just a teensy chord change, can become a peppy music-hall send-up as well.

There’s also a fifty-second version of John strumming ‘Maggie Mae’ (which makes it longer than the Let It Be version, come to think of it), and the only Yoko-wail-enhanced track on the album (thank God!), a half-psychedelic, half-avantgarde jam called ‘Do The Oz’ (rather novel in comparison with the much more structured ‘God Save Oz’).

The second disc, ‘New York City’, plunges us straight into the turmoil of John’s political struggle in 1972. There’s a whole bunch of live performances here, including three tracks from the second Madison Garden Show (not that they sound much different from the previously released first one – except that at the end of one verse of ‘Woman Is The Nigger Of The World’, John forgets the lyrics and honestly admits, in the same fiery bombastic tone, ‘this one I can never remember but you get the message anyway! oh woman is the nigger of the world… etc.’), two from an acoustic-only performance at the Apollo (‘Attica State’ and ‘Imagine’; the latter sounds pathetically feeble when played on an acoustic guitar instead of a piano, don’t you think?), and two more from an Ann Arbor performance in 1971 (‘Luck Of The Irish’ and ‘John Sinclair’ – aarrgh, they could have at least done ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ instead).

In between and afterwards, there’s plenty of outtakes from the Mind Games sessions, including a particularly decent version of ‘One Day At A Time’ without the obnoxious falsetto. And hey, as a special treat, you get two songs John wrote for Ringo – ‘I’m The Greatest’ and ‘Goodnight Vienna’ – with John himself on vocals! Priceless.

Disc three is ‘The Lost Weekend’ – despair, paranoia, and booze. This one, I think, is the least interesting of the four, particularly because we get to hear those Walls And Bridges tunes again – for the third time since the album proper and the alternate takes on Menlove Ave. Gee, it’s been a long time since I last heard ‘Bless You’ or ‘Steel And Glass’. On the positive side, there’s more of those Rock’n’Roll sessions with the horns taken out, so you get to hear ‘Slippin’ And Slidin’ with the boogie piano mixed upfront and suchlike (as well as John’s take on Spector’s ‘Be My Baby’ – which he seems to be performing in a drunken haze, as far as I can tell). And the real gems here are actually those bits of crazy drunken banter with Phil Spector at the end – especially the third one. ‘What are they gonna do, go play jazz with Jethro Tull?’ ‘Elton John is my good buddy. – Yeah, he’s got the same name as you, only you put it in front and he puts it in the back’. ‘Elton’s gonna die young, I’ll be a ninety-year old guru…’. And so on.

Oh! At the end of the third disc, you get an outtake called ‘Stranger’s Room’ – which, after just a little while, can be understood as the “rough beginning” to ‘I’m Losing You’. Almost looks like John’s composing that one on the spot. It’s little surprises like these which really make the experience valuable.

Finally, the fourth CD, entitled ‘Dakota’, is John’s homemade 1979 recordings and outtakes and demos from the 1980 sessions. ‘Serve Yourself’ I already discussed before, but there’s more: the three ‘Satires’ at the end are hilarious parodies on Dylan, apparently recorded by John at the same time as ‘Serve Yourself’ when he was bitterly pissed off at the old guy for embracing religion. Maybe John does have a bit of a hard time when trying to imitate Dylan’s accent, but the lyrics are priceless – ‘mama take this make-up off of me, it’s bad enough on the beach, but it’s worse in the sea’ (remember Bobby was in his “glammy” period at the time?).

And ‘Satire 2’, apparently, is just John reciting a bunch of political news chronicle as if it were one of Bob’s “talking blues”, with an occasional ‘wow man, sounds like a ballad to me’ or ‘oh, this will get me in the village bar’ thrown in. Priceless again! Who needs the actual songs? Oh – oh – there’s also a venomous parody on good old George Harrison, in the form of ‘The Rishi Kesh Song’ (‘all you need to do is to say the little word, I know it sounds absurd but it’s true… the magic’s in the Mantra!’). You sure don’t fool around with Mr J.

Well. Anyway. The final verdict is – same impact as the Anthologies, but maybe just a little bit sharper because it’s just a little bit more intimate as an experience. It’s probably safe to assume that no other lost gems will ever be discovered in the Lennon archives, or, at least, there won’t be a lot of ’em, so historical importance is all we’ve got here. Do not blow your cash on this unless you really want this intimacy with John, but the box definitely has got its uses anyway.

May 18, 2013 Posted by | John Lennon Anthology | | Leave a comment