Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends (RS500 - #234)

June 6th, 2018... fifty years today since the death of Bobby Kennedy.

A lot of ink has been and will be spilled today regarding Kennedy's 1968 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, most of it related to the continuing "Kennedy Myth" that has haunted and teased this nation for over fifty years. RFK's run has now assumed almost legendary status - the star-crossed young warrior, going to battle against the entrenched hierarchy and the special interests; a man born to great privilege and yet a "man of the people" and champion of the poor and downtrodden; a shining light of passion and dedication, cut down just as he could all but visualize his goal. While a lot of that has some basis in fact, Bobby's decision to run that year and his prospects for winning his party's nomination, and ultimately the presidency, were a lot more complicated than that.

It shouldn't be forgotten that Robert Kennedy entered the 1968 presidential race late, on March 16th, four days after President Lyndon Johnson narrowly won the New Hampshire primary over upstart Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy (49% to 42%). The relationship between
Kennedy and Johnson wasn't just one of mutual contempt - they actively despised one another, and had since the early Fifties, when Johnson was a powerful senator and Bobby was little more than a low-level Senate staffer. When JFK assumed the presidency in 1961, with Johnson as his vice-president and his brother as Attorney General, that power dynamic had shifted to Bobby's advantage (the office of the VP having little if any real power), and the younger brother used it to humiliate and emasculate Johnson constantly - revenge for Johnson's treatment of him in the '50s. By late in JFK's first term, it was clear that Bobby, not Johnson, was the #2 man in the administration, and his power and influence would only grow after JFK's near-certain reelection in 1964 (which would have set up a remarkable "what-if" scenario in '68 - if Johnson had been retained as a VP running mate in '64, undoubtedly both he AND Bobby would have run to succeed JFK that year... which would have in all likelihood set off a intra-party war between the two candidates' factions even nastier and more bitter than what actually happened that year...).

The bullets fired at the presidential motorcade in Dallas on November 22nd, 1963 suddenly and immediately altered that power dynamic yet again, this time with the new president Johnson on top, and he didn't hesitate to use it to exact some vicious payback against a physically altered and emotionally distraught Bobby, reeling in the aftermath of his brother's death. Even with all of that, Kennedy stayed on as Attorney General in the Johnson administration for several more months, ostensibly to cement JFK's legacy in the legal realm. But his heart clearly wasn't into his job, or with continuing to work with LBJ. Sensing that he could do more good - and establish his own political base for the future - outside of the cabinet, Bobby resigned his office in mid-1964 to run for the Senate in New York, defeating the incumbent Republican Kenneth Keating that November. During his four years in the Senate, Kennedy enhanced his liberal bona fides, championing civil rights and marginalized members of the population (who he referred to as the "disaffected", the impoverished, and "the excluded"), and increasingly calling into question America's involvement in the Vietnam War. By early 1968, Bobby's popularity with certain groups (especially minorities) rivaled and even exceeded that of Johnson.

Kennedy was itching to make a presidential run against the hated Johnson in 1968, who he considered to be over his head as Chief Executive and unable to adequately deal with the serious issues (war, racial divisions, poverty, etc.) he faced during his first full term. However, despite urging from his advisors and from various corners of society, Bobby considered his prospects for a successful run against a sitting president exceedingly unrealistic - the last president denied his party's nomination for a second term was Chester A. Arthur in 1884. So he announced at a January 30th, 1968 press conference (coincidentally, the same day as the beginning of the Tet Offensive) that “under no foreseeable circumstances” would he run for president. And it seemed to most of the world that that was the final word regarding a possible "Kennedy '68" bid.

However, shortly after this declaration, Kennedy, his pollsters and advisors began to sense that something was going on in the American electorate - a hidden but surging groundswell of discontent with the current direction of the country.  Bobby and his team could see that in the preliminary February polling for the upcoming "first in the nation" New Hampshire primary,
where the underfunded anti-war candidate Senator McCarthy was quietly gaining strength and support over the incumbent. It was clear to Kennedy that a significant number of people were looking for an alternative to Johnson. Bobby read the tea leaves and trusted his well-honed political instincts... while the modern narrative is that Kennedy jumped into the race only after smelling blood after Johnson's close call in New Hampshire on March 12th, the truth of the matter was that he'd changed his mind regarding his decision to run significantly earlier, prior to the primary vote. He'd planned to make his announcement in early March, but was persuaded by other influential friends to either talk McCarthy into dropping out prior to the primary (which McCarthy had no intention of doing) or waiting until just afterwards, in order to avoid splitting the Democratic anti-war vote.

Either way, Bobby's declaration on March 16th, in the Caucus Room of the old Senate Office Building, was not met with overwhelming nationwide hosannas. He was denounced in some quarters as a political opportunist, taking advantage of the trail that McCarthy's months of hard work had blazed. Despite this, he was immediately regarded as the frontrunner and the president's most formidable electoral foe. Faced with two strong opponents now, Johnson famously bowed out of the race on March 31st, throwing his support and that of much of the Democratic establishment behind the candidacy of his Vice-
President, Hubert Humphrey. In this essentially three-way race between the major challengers Humphrey, McCarthy and Kennedy, only the latter two competed head-to-head in the state primaries. Of the four primaries with active competition between McCarthy and Kennedy, Kennedy won three, losing only in Oregon in an upset a week before the crucial California primary.

While the two liberal candidates were slugging it out in the states, Humphrey concentrated on acquiring nomination delegates from states that didn't hold primaries, places where party bosses still held sway and controlled delegate selection. Unlike nowadays, back then, most states DIDN'T hold primaries, and delegate slates were largely determined by big-city political machines. So, despite his relative success in the primaries, on the night of the California primary, Kennedy still had a grand total of only 393 pledged delegates to Humphrey's 561 (McCarthy had 238), with 1,312 votes needed to lock up the party's nomination. He hoped that with his primary successes, he could convince party leaders that he was the only Democrat who could defeat the nominal Republican candidate Richard Nixon and prevent them from pledging their delegations and allegiances (to Humphrey or anyone else) too early, at least not before the party convention that summer in Chicago. Kennedy wanted to create a "bandwagon" effect of the same manner and type that helped his brother gain the nomination in 1960.

With all of this, it's a tough call to say that RFK could have arrived in Chicago and garnered the remaining votes needed to win the nomination.  McCarthy's team was still furious at him for his late entry (two days before the California primary, two Kennedy staffers went to McCarthy state headquarters in Los Angeles to argue that the loser of the California primary withdraw and support the winner; said one McCarthy worker: “I’d vote for Nixon over that SOB [i.e., RFK].”), so those delegates weren't necessarily Kennedy's for the asking. Young antiwar voters, whom he needed to draw into in his coalition, remained steadfast in their loyalty to their champion Senator McCarthy.

More significant to his overall prospects, Kennedy faced opposition from three groups central to the nominating process and influential with state and big-city political bosses: Southern Democrats, many of whom bitterly resented his civil rights advocacy; much of organized labor leadership, who remembered his crackdowns on crooked Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa and other corrupt union officials; and—despite his upbringing and pedigree—titans of industry, who viewed with deep worry his steady drift to the left during his four years in the Senate. While Kennedy was hugely popular with minorities and the poor during his campaign, those groups would have almost no voice at the convention, and zero pull with the power brokers there.

So, looking at it in a cold, hard, objective manner, I seriously doubt that Bobby would have been able to get to 1,312. Of course, the events in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in the wee hours of June 5th, 1968, and RFK's subsequent death little more than a day later makes all of that a moot point.

I was still in preschool in 1968, so I have little to no memory of the earthshaking events of that year - war, assassinations, riots, flights to the moon. Therefore, Kennedy's death had no impact on me at the time.  It was only later that full force of the event hit home. In my opinion, the RFK assassination was the single most significant event of the late 1960s affecting American history - more than the Watts riots, more than the Martin Luther King assassination, more than the moon landing. It seems to me that with his passing and the missed opportunity of a Robert Kennedy presidency, America lost its last, best chance to reclaim the shining beacon of hope, justice, truth and right in the world that had begun slipping from our grasp in the '60s.

It's impossible to say with any certainty, but it is likely that under Kennedy, America's involvement in Vietnam would have ended much earlier - not with any sort of victory (as the Pentagon Papers later revealed, prior administrations had concluded years earlier that a military conflict there was essentially unwinnable), but possibly with better terms and a saving of thousands of American lives. With a government led by a leader liked and trusted by marginalized groups, implementation of civil rights laws probably would have been expedited. And among other things, Watergate and its aftermath, the public's mistrust of and disillusionment with government and political service, never would have happened.  With the prospect of a Kennedy administration, there was an anticipation and expectation of a more caring and compassionate government, responsive to the issues and needs of the many, especially those needing assistance - and spearheaded by a tough-minded, experienced professional.

As Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote in a recent op-ed in the Miami Herald:
It turned out the tough guy had an instinct for the underdog and a deep, moral indignation over the unfair treatment that trapped them in their hoods and hollers, barely subsisting in the shadows of plenty. He saw their humanity. This, I think, even more than his opposition to the war in Vietnam, was what drew people....

There was in that last ragged campaign of his, this sense of the possible, of the new, of fundamental, systemic change. There was this sense of a more compassionate America waiting just below the horizon. There was, in a word, hope. Or as Rep. John Lewis, then a campaign aide, consoled himself in the grim weeks after Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis: “At least we still have Bobby.”

Read more here:
The key word in that section above is "hope" - to many people, that's what Bobby Kennedy represented, and that's what was lost.

Looking back fifty years now at the events of that time, the thing that is most devastating and distressing about Robert Kennedy's death to me is that there wasn't any interim period needed for citizens to assess his legacy - people IMMEDIATELY knew what a profound loss they and the nation had suffered.

RFK's funeral was held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York on the morning of June 8th, 1968, then his body was transported by special train down to Washington, DC, where he was to be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Without provocation or urging, hundreds of thousands of people lined the entire length of the railroad tracks and packed the stations along the route, paying their respects to their lost champion as the train moved past. A sampling of the photos of the assembled crowds is haunting and devastating in depicting the grief and despair of a vast swath of the nation:


The Number One song in the U.S. the week of Kennedy's death was "Mrs. Robinson" by the pop duo Simon & Garfunkel. The song was originally included in the soundtrack to the hit Mike Nichols-directed film The Graduate, released in late 1967, and released again as part of the folk-rock duo's 1968 album Bookends. The song, one of several Simon & Garfunkel tunes included in the movie, was originally titled "Mrs. Roosevelt", but was revamped and retitled for the film to refer to one of the main characters, the adulterous Mrs. Robinson, played by Anne Bancroft. While popular in its own right, the film version of "Mrs. Robinson" was markedly different from the album version, released a couple of months later. It was this latter version that climbed the charts in the spring of 1968, peaking on June 1st and remaining at the top of the charts for most of that month.

The most famous and celebrated portion of the song refers to the former Yankee great Joe DiMaggio:
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you
Wu wu wu
What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson
Jolting Joe has left and gone away
Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey
In an interview years later, Simon discussed this lyric and explained that the line was meant as a sincere tribute to DiMaggio's unpretentious heroic stature, in a time when popular culture magnifies and distorts how we perceive our heroes. He further reflected:
"In those days of Presidential transgressions and apologies and prime-time interviews about private sexual matters, we grieve for Joe DiMaggio and mourn the loss of his grace and dignity, his fierce sense of privacy, his fidelity to the memory of his wife and the power of his slience.  ...I didn't mean the lines literally... I thought of him as an American hero and that genuine heroes were in short supply."
In the wake of the assassination, it was easy at the time to figuratively transfer the meaning and context of the words in that song to the nation's feelings regarding the loss of RFK.  Being that Bookends was consciously constructed to contain many of Paul Simon's major lyrical themes (including "youth, alienation, life, love, disillusionment, relationships, old age and [especially] mortality"), the album became almost the perfect accompaniment to and encapsulation of the nation's collective feelings during that terrible month.  I can't listen to the album nowadays without thinking of Bobby.

In memory of Bobby Kennedy, all that he was and all that he could have been, here's Simon & Garfunkel's Bookends, released by Columbia Records on April 3rd, 1968. Enjoy, reflect, and as always, let me know what you think.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Latest Poll Results: "What do you consider to be the greatest consecutive three-album run in rock history?"


Thanks a lot for all of the participation in the last poll, regarding the greatest rock three-album run... Here are the results of your voting:

Dark Side Of The Moon/Wish You Were Here/Animals (Pink Floyd)
  6 (10%) 
Rubber Soul/Revolver/Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)
  5 (9%) 
Let It Bleed/Sticky Fingers/Exile On Main Street (The Rolling Stones)
  5 (9%) 
Are You Experienced?/Axis: Bold As Love/Electric Ladyland (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
  4 (7%) 
The Velvet Underground & Nico/White Light:White Heat/The Velvet Underground (VU)
  4 (7%) 
More Songs About Buildings & Food/Fear Of Music/Remain In Light (Talking Heads)
  4 (7%) 
Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane (David Bowie)
  3 (5%) 
The Smiths/Meat Is Murder/The Queen Is Dead (The Smiths)
  3 (5%) 
Ramones/Leave Home/Rocket To Russia (The Ramones)
  3 (5%) 
Low/"Heroes"/Lodger (David Bowie)
  2 (3%)
My Aim Is True/This Year's Model/Armed Forces (Elvis Costello)
  2 (3%) 
Boy/October/War (U2)
  2 (3%) 
Bleach/Nevermind/In Utero (Nirvana)
  2 (3%) 
Come On Pilgrim/Surfer Rosa/Doolittle (The Pixies)
  2 (3%) 
The Slim Shady LP/The Marshall Mathers LP/The Eminem Show (Eminem)
  1 (1%) 
Slanted & Enchanted/Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain/Wowee Zowee (Pavement)
  1 (1%) 
Tommy/Who's Next/Quadrophenia (The Who)
  1 (1%) 
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere/After The Gold Rush/Harvest (Neil Young)
  1 (1%) 
The Bends/OK Computer/Kid A (Radiohead)
  1 (1%) 
EVOL/Sister/Daydream Nation (Sonic Youth)
  1 (1%) 
Q: Are We Not Men?.../Duty Now For The Future/Freedom Of Choice (Devo)
  1 (1%) 
IV/Houses Of The Holy/Physical Graffiti (Led Zeppelin)
  0 (0%)
Out Of Time/Automatic For The People/Monster (R.E.M.)
  0 (0%)
The Village Green Preservation Society/Arthur/Lola Versus Powerman... (The Kinks)
  0 (0%)
None Of The Above/Other
  1 (1%) 
Gotta say I was somewhat surprised to see Pink Floyd edging into the top spot; my preliminary assumption would be that The Beatles and The Rolling Stones set would battle it out for #1 and #2 (not to pick favorites, but I was pulling for the Stones). And it's good to see some love going to Talking Heads' Eno-produced trilogy and the first three Ramones albums - all have long been favorites of mine, so it's nice that others also acknowledge their greatness. David Bowie did pretty well overall as well all told, although his may be a case where he was too good - Bowie put out so much great music that I had to include two triple-runs of his on this list; voting on one or the other of them may have cancelled out consideration of the other set.

On the other (less heralded here) end: I thought that the Radiohead set would poll better than it ended up; I figure that the band's releases are sort of like bourbon or wine - since it's been only seventeen years since the release of Kid A, their oeuvre has yet to mature and mellow in the minds of rockophiles into something "classic" and truly enduring. Check back in a decade or so. And it was weird to see The Who get stiffed here - albums like Tommy and Who's Next are considered to be almost holy works in the rock world. I guess compared to these other classic sets by other artists, folks felt they came up a little short - I don't know.

Aaaaaannnnny-hoo...  In response to your votes, I salute the champions, Pink Floyd, with the following offerings for you:
  • Wish You Were Here: Experience Edition - the two-disc set containing both the original album and a disc full of previously unreleased live takes, demos and alternative song versions, released by EMI on November 4th, 2011; and
  • Dark Side Of The Moon (Early Mix, 1972) - the prerelease bootleg version of this classic album (featuring different instrumentation, lyrics and vocals) taken from the six-disc DSOTM Immersion box set, released by EMI on September 27th, 2011.  If you are a fan of the original album and haven't heard this version yet, prepare to have your mind blown...
Anyway, again, thanks for your input. Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think.

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

Wish You Were Here: Experience Edition - Send Email

Dark Side Of The Moon (Early Mix, 1972) - Send Email

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Fall - On The Wireless (Non-Peel Radio Sessions) (3-Disc Set)

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the infamous on-stage set-to between members of The Fall at Brownies in Lower Manhattan on the tail end of their American tour that year... the fight that led to the immediate and permanent departure of longtime band stalwarts Steve Hanley, Karl Burns and Tommy Crooks and forever changed the direction of the group. From YouTube, here's the video of the entire shambolic set, with band leader Mark E. Smith instigating the situation approximately 25 minutes into the hour-long gig - it quickly deteriorates from there:

The spring 1998 U.S. tour of The Fall started out on a bad note. For some reason or another, drummer Karl Burns and guitarist Tommy Crooks missed the transatlantic flight from Manchester to the States - a situation that, of course, drove Smith into a towering rage even before the plane got off the ground in England. The two showed up in New York later that day, but that didn't improve Smith's attitude.

Another major point of tension/contention centered around the itinerary - it was scheduled to be a week-long campaign and then some, beginning in New York and moving on to venues up and down the U.S. East Coast from Boston to Washington DC, with shows practically every night. But bizarrely, the group was only booked to stay in New York City hotels. Why?

Well, back during the 1993 American tour in support of the then-recently released The Infotainment Scan, when there was (then) plenty of label cash to throw around, The Fall were provided suites at the ultra-swank Gramercy Park Hotel for
a week. Smith took a particular liking to this style of living while on tour in the States, so much so that for The Fall's return visit to the States in 1994, he insisted upon staying there again, and made the hotel his central point of operations during their East Coast concerts. As a consequence, the band would play venues hundreds of miles away from the city, only to pack up their gear each night and be bused back to Manhattan... arriving back at the Gramercy Park often in the wee hours to stumble exhaustedly into their opulent beds for a couple of hours of sleep, before having to load up and be out on the highway again later in the day. Needless to say, this was not an ideal situation for anyone in the group (other than Smith, I suppose). Fortunately, there were only three or four East Coast dates on that tour, before The Fall headed to venues in the Midwest and West, so the band members sucked it up for that short period.

During this 1998 U.S. jaunt, Smith once again booked a room at the Gramercy Park for himself and his girlfriend, keyboardist Julia Nagle - an expense the group/label frankly could hardly afford at the time due to some serious tax issues they were facing back home [full disclosure - I've stayed at the Gramercy Park Hotel a couple of times myself in the past; believe me, cheap it ain't...]. The rest of the band was ensconced across town at the decidedly more downmarket Quality Hotel East Side (apparently, the concern with economy and on-tour penny-pinching during this period didn't apply to Smith personally...). As with the 1994 visit, The Fall's gigs (all in the Northeast U.S.) were arranged as before, with the group returning to New York each night to ensure that Mark got to spend as much time as possible wallowing in the hotel's grandeur. But there were twice as many East Coast shows on this tour than there were in 1994. It was inevitable that fatigue and bad feelings would begin to set in among band members.

And then, Smith queered the deal almost immediately upon arriving in America, before the first note at the first show was even played. Obviously still in a rage regarding Burns' and Crooks' tardiness, Smith proceeded to trash his hotel room practically the minute he walked into it - breaking lamps, telephones and furniture - and was thrown out of the Gramercy Park within an hour of arriving. The main "justification" for making those long back-and-forth bus trips to and from places like Boston and Philadelphia was thereby removed... but it was far too late to arrange for lodging closer to the tour stops, and the transportation contract couldn't be cancelled. Smith and Nagle were forced to stay at - and return each night to - the same ramshackle Manhattan Quality Inn with the rest of the band... a situation that did nothing to improve the attitudes of any of the involved parties.

The first couple of shows on the tour (at Coney Island High in New York, The Loop Lounge in Passaic, NJ and The Middle East in Cambridge, MA) reportedly went well, with no overt outbursts or out-of-the-ordinary aggression noted from Smith towards his bandmates (although it was noted in a couple of news outlets that Smith appeared to be sporting a black eye during the New York gigs - who knows if those reports was accurate, and if so, the source and circumstances behind that shiner). But as the tour went on, with weariness increasing and tempers shortening, things began to quickly deteriorate.

Apparently, the first overt conflict occurred during their gig at The Trocadero in Philadelphia on April 4th. From Steve Hanley's 2014 book The Big Midweek detailing his life as a member of The Fall:
"During the gig [specifically, during the band's rendition of "Jungle Rock"] [Mark] tries to push me aside so he can fuck with my amp. It is the first time he has laid a finger on it in years. He's lurching towards it, trying to grasp hold of the knobs like on those machines at the fair that never picks up a toy, no matter how much money you put in and no matter how much the child cries. I push him out of the way with the end of my bass and turn my back. ...I finish the song and walk off, to be joined shortly after by Tommy and Karl, leaving [Mark] with nothing else to do but sing "Everybody But Myself" all by himself."
The three commandeered the tour bus and returned immediately with most of the band equipment to New York, leaving Smith and Nagle in Philly to fend for themselves. To exacerbate an already bad situation, upon their return to Manhattan, the bus was broken into overnight and a large quantity of the group's instruments (including Nagle's cherished keyboards) were stolen. The band got through their next gig, a show on Sunday, April 5th at The Black Cat in DC, with borrowed equipment... but the tension and bad blood within and between the group members was palpable.

All of which led up to the Brownies debacle on Tuesday, April 7th. I won't go into further details regarding that gig; If you're a Fall fan, I'm sure you already know more than enough about it - if not, I refer you to the video above. The site Dangerous Minds has a superb summary of the circumstances behind the fight - check it out here. And of course, the "cherry on top" of that night, with the Fall kaput and the rest of the U.S. tour cancelled, was the after-gig arrest of Smith at the Quality Hotel in the small hours of that following morning, allegedly for assaulting Nagle back in their room... an ignominious end to a tumultuous period.

I've already provided my impressions and opinions on the immediate and long-term impact of the Brownies altercation on the future history of The Fall - no need to reiterate my thoughts here. This post is more concerned with heretofore unavailable/hard-to-find music from the pre-brawl period (mostly) that I happen to have in my possession.

The set provided here (another long unavailable offering from the defunct Symphony Of Ghosts website) appears to be a re-release of/upgrade to 2004's Unreleased Radio Sessions '81-'99 two-disc bootleg - another boot set that I acquired from God knows where (perhaps the old Young Moss Tongue site) many moons ago. Both compilations have almost the exact same contents, although the overall track list is different; here's the lineup, with sources listed (if known):
Disc 1:
01 Lay Of The Land (David Jansen Session Unknown Date)
02 God Box (David Jansen Session Unknown Date)
03 Oh Brother (David Jansen Session Unknown Date)
04 C.R.E.E.P. (David Jansen Session Unknown Date)
05 Stephen Song (Janice Long Session 1 Unknown Date)
06 No Bulbs (Janice Long Session 1 Unknown Date)
07 Draygo's Guilt (Janice Long Session 1 Unknown Date)
08 Slang King (Janice Long Session 1 Unknown Date)
09 Copped It (Saturday BBC Live 09-29-1984)
10 Elves (Saturday BBC Live 09-29-1984)
11 Fortress / Marquis Cha Cha (Saturday BBC Live 09-29-1984)
12 Interview (Saturday BBC Live 09-29-1984)

Disc 2:
01 Frenz (Janice Long Session 2 05-19-1987)
02 Get A Hotel (Janice Long Session 2 05-19-1987)
03 Ghost In My House (Janice Long Session 2 05-19-1987)
04 Haf Found Bormann (Janice Long Session 2 05-19-1987)
05 In These Times (Piccadilly Radio Session 02-25-1988)
06 Carry Bag Man (Piccadilly Radio Session 02-25-1988)
07 Cab It Up (Piccadilly Radio Session 02-25-1988)
08 Oswald Defense Lawyer (Piccadilly Radio Session 02-25-1988)
09 Glam Racket (Mark Goodier Session 05-17-1993)
10 War (Mark Goodier Session 05-17-1993)
11 15 Ways (Mark Goodier Session 05-17-1993)
12 A Past Gone Mad (Mark Goodier Session 05-17-1993)

Disc 3:
01 Fit & Working Again (Dutch Session 05-17-1981)
02 Fantastic Life (Dutch Session 05-17-1981)
03 New Face In Hell (Dutch Session 05-17-1981)
04 Shake Off (XFM Session 04-15-1999)
05 F'oldin Money (XFM Session 04-15-1999)
06 Jet Boy (XFM Session 04-15-1999)
07 Touch Sensitive (XFM Session 04-15-1999)
08 Antidotes (XFM Session 04-15-1999)
09 10 Houses Of Eve (XFM Session 04-15-1999)
10 Inevitable (XFM Session 04-15-1999)
11 This Perfect Day (XFM Session 04-15-1999)
This just goes to show that John Peel wasn't the be-all and end-all of Fall live sessions; the band did extensive and superb work with a number of radio hosts, both influential and obscure. This set collects the best of their work from that period.

So for your listening pleasure, here's The Fall's On The Wireless (Non-Peel Radio Sessions), a three-disc bootleg made available in the summer of 2005. Enjoy this offering, with the hope that it brightens this dark day in Fall history for you! And as always, let me know what you think.

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

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[10 Apr 2018 (p.m.) - Quick note: OK - repaired the previously posted files (at least most of them...) - these should be good to go now. If you have any issues with these tune files, let me know upon receipt - thanks.]

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Fall - Scherzo Schist

Well...  I promised in my previous posting that if I found it, I'd immediately post it here - so here you all are. Special thanks to blog friend Ji De for hooking me up - finally - with this long sought-after bootleg collection of ostensibly hard-to-find Fall tunes I first heard about on the Symphony Of Ghosts blog more than a decade ago.

Here's the track list and sources:
01  In The Park (Acklam Hall)
02  The Man Whose Head Expanded (live) [PBL video version]
03  Couldn't Get Ahead (live) [The version on the VHS8489 video]
04  US 80's-90's (live). (What's That Noise 7", also on Backdrop)
05  Kimble (Peel Session)
06  Why Are People Grudgeful? [more funky, more upbeat version. 12" mix?]
07  Noel's Chemical Effluence (The 27 Points)
08  Crying Marshall (Filthy Three mix from the F'Oldin' Money single #2)
09  Powder Keg (Version) (0161 compilation)
10  Spencer Must Die (Peel Session)
11  Beatle Bones [Peel Session '96, Beefheart cover]
12  Touch Sensitive (Peel Session version)
13  Inch [the main version from the Inch CD single]
14  Calendar (from Masquerade double EP)
15  Das Katerer (The Post Nearly Man version)
16  Two Librans (demo) (Voiceprint Ltd. giveaway CD promo)
17  Blindness/Blindman (Voiceprint Ltd giveaway CD promo)
18  Life Just Bounces (In the City) (same version as on A World Bewitched)
This set of "rarities" didn't turn out to be as 'rare' as I had hoped... For example, I'd previously provided "Calendar" in my Masquerade posting from a while back, along with "Das Katerer" in my The Post Nearly Man writeup, "Inch" in my posting of the same name and "Kimble" way back in 2011 with the Kimble EP here.  And a lot of these other songs are available on the
excellent The Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004 box set (which every self-respecting Fall fan should have already long had as part of their collection) and other more mainstream band releases (Backdrop, The 27 Points, etc.).  But there are enough true obscurities included here to make this disc worth acquiring... plus, it's nice to have everything all in one easy-to-access package.

So, this isn't an essential bootleg by any means... but overall, still worthwhile.

So for your consideration, here's The Fall's Scherzo Schist bootleg, compiled by that same secretive group of British fans that brought you King Of Moscow Road back in 2005.  Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think.

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Monday, March 5, 2018

The Fall - King Of Moscow Road

I ran this one down more than a decade ago in my search for any and all things Fall-related, from a now long-defunct music blog (Symphony Of Ghosts). Here's a description of this disc from the website, and the circumstances by which it was acquired:
"Fan bootleg sent out by unknown group of an eBay seller or 1 or 2 other fellows working together to spread some rare Fall joy to a few select fans - not known to be for sale..."
Here's the track lineup:
01 I'm Bobby (Excerpt - MES Solo)
02 Words Of Expectation (Live)
03 Rowche Rumble (Live)
04 In These TImes (Piccadilly Radio Session)
05 Oswald Defence Lawyer (Piccadilly Radio Session)
06 Cab Driver (Version Of City Dweller)
07 A Past Gone Mad / Passable
08 War (Goodier Session)
09 Don't Call Me Darling (source unknown)
10 'Ol Gang (Live Masquerade EP)
11 Christmastide (Levitate bonus CD)
12 My Ex-Classmates Kid (Rude All The Time version)
13 Janet VS Johnny (Fall Vs 2003 EP)
14 Mod Mock Goth (RNFLP-Narnack version)
15 Recovery Kit #2 (RNFLP-Narnack version)
16 Portugal (RNFLP & Sparta FC single hidden track)
17 Theme From Sparta FC (video edit version)
Some of these songs you may have seen provided elsewhere, on other Fall boots and releases (including some I've recently posted here)... while others are true band rarities. Take them as offered for what you will.
(One thing I'm still kicking myself over in regards to this disc: on the Symphony Of Ghosts site, the moderator mentioned that he received both this disc AND another fan-fabricated bootleg (Scherzo Schist) on the same day in the mail from an unknown provider in the UK. For some reason - either stupidity or oversight - I failed to download the music on the latter disc at the same time as King Of Moscow Road. Of course, the files for Scherzo Schist have long been unavailable off of this blog, and I've been searching for them ever since (ten-plus years now), with no luck whatsoever... Annoying.)
In any case...

Here, on what would have been Mark E. Smith's 61st birthday, I offer to you in his honor The Fall's King Of Moscow Road bootleg, compiled by mysterious and unknown British individuals in April 2005. Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think.

Happy Birthday, MES - you're not forgotten down here, 'cock'.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Various Artists - Not All That Terrifies Harms 7"

Another Barbara Manning-related post...

Late in 2016, I provided a requester, Jon Der, with a link to my World Of Pooh Land Of Thirst posting from a few years back, and in the process had a great back-and-forth dialogue with him about bands we were mutual fans of, including this one and The Fall (my all-time favorite band, as I've mentioned ad nauseum (and recently shown) here on this site). Jon clued me in to the news that an in-depth oral history of World Of Pooh had just been published in the then-latest issue of Jay Hinman's Dynamite Hemorrhage fanzine, a podcast/magazine devoted to underground alternative music; it was that article that sent him on a search that led him to my site.

Information on the great but obscure World Of Pooh is extremely hard to come by in this day and age, so of course I was champing at the bit to read the story. As the article was (then) not an online posting, but a print story only, Jon kindly scanned it for me from the magazine copy he had in his possession.

All in all, "World Of Pooh: The Oral History" is a superb and informative article. Band members (guitarist Brandan Kearney, bassist Barbara Manning and drummer Jay Paget) and other friends/scenesters from that time offer up their recollections and reminiscences of those heady, frenetic bygone days, the creation, rise and dissolution of an underground and generally unheralded-in-their-time rock band. The piece filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about the group.

I was especially interested in the section regarding the writing and recording of The Land Of Thirst, the band's sole LP release and one of my all-time favorites. When I did my write-up on this album all those years ago, I did so under the assumption (based on clues provided in the Trouser Press Record Guide review and other sources I'd found like this blog posting from almost a decade ago) this this disc was the brilliant but intense product of a vicious, painful breakup saga then unfolding between Kearney and Manning. To quote that post:
Apparently, [they] had been dating for a while, and by the time the record was being recorded, their relationship was on the rocks. They took out their relationship strains not directly on one another, but like most other couples with problems they addressed their angers and frustrations with one another indirectly, in their case through the songs (I understand they broke up soon after this record came out - which makes sense, since the band also ceased to exist around that time).
However, in the course of reading "The Oral History", I became aware that what I considered to be gospel and the "true Hollywood story" regarding WoP and their music wasn't quite accurate.

The first (and most important) point of correction is the most pertinent and far-reaching, in terms of my understanding this band - Manning and Kearney were never a couple, per se. Sure, they spent a lot of time together in their musical and social pursuits... but this didn't develop into any sort of romantic attachment. There was already more than enough madness swirling around in their lives while they were in the band. But that craziness had nothing to do with any sort of long-term "lover's spat", and more to do with the weird, tense and uncertain atmosphere inherent in being in an obscure band playing in San Francisco's indie/underground scene in the late '80s/early '90s.

That isn't to say, however, that the members of World Of Pooh didn't play up on this boy-boy-girl dynamic. The back cover of The Land Of Thirst infamously displayed an S&M/bondage-themed photo of three people that the band found in a porn shop on Polk Street in the city, with the implication being that the picture portrayed the actual band members and their relationship (it wasn't, and it didn't). Barbara Manning said:
"We chose the picture on the back on purpose - I think it might have been my idea, even... The idea [was] that we were selling ourselves as this threesome."
Brandan Kearney continued:
"We did have some misgivings about using the photo... but it looked enough like us that it was hard to say no... Besides, we were always using sexual imagery... I sometimes worried that we were confining Barbara, or that she'd feel like we were. The picture is ambivalent, which struck me as poignant at the time. It's not very well thought out, but you could say that about any decision we made back then."
In short, the group played at being weirdos and freaks, with Kearney and Manning upping the ante by semi-pretending to be more than just band mates... and people believed it. And oddly, after a while, the members of World Of Pooh began buying into that narrative as well. As Manning observed in the article:
"I feel like we were people with a weird relationship portraying people with a really weird relationship. Over time, the distinction vanished."
In the wake of the album release, and in the process of living up to this created narrative in the city's music atmosphere of the time, tensions began rising within the group. This led to bickering and conflicts between the members that eventually began being displayed in their live performances - many times exacerbated by prodigious booze consumption before and during their act. A friend of the group provided the following memory/assessment in the article:
"[Those] onstage disagreements of whatever were literally showstoppers. The big question was always: would they stop sniping at each other long enough to play another song let alone finish the set? Intraband relations seemed to be getting worse the more shows they played, but musically they kept getting better and better... For a while they were one of the best bands in the city. Talking to other fans at their shows, we had the feeling that they weren't going to be around much longer... The last time I saw them, it was their biggest show to date and by then they were outright arguing on stage in between songs... Despite how great the music was, the set felt like a fiasco and, by the time they left the stage, I had the distinct impression that it was going to be their last show."
This friend was almost correct regarding the timing of the band's demise - it was pretty much over for World Of Pooh by the end of 1989. However, circumstances intervened somewhat in early 1990.
Brandan Kearney: "People assume we broke up after our East Coast tour, but we'd essentially broken up before the tour... the strain Barbara and I were under was not sustainable... In the midst of this uncertainty, we accepted an offer to tour the East Coast for about a week... This gave us a reason to hold things together, but I think it also gave us the sense of an attainable endpoint..."
After (and despite) well-received shows in Boston and New York in March of 1990, World Of Pooh broke up immediately after the end of this tour.  There were a couple of posthumous EP releases (G.H.M. later in 1990; A Trip To Your Tonsils in 1991), but even those led to more trouble and conflict within the group.  The tracks on the latter EP were part of a set of eight or so that World of
Pooh had been developing for a planned full-scale album follow-up to The Land of Thirst (the EP included the only four tunes closest to completion, remixed and remastered by Kearney). During the final mixing of these EP tracks, Kearney added some sound effects that Manning, when she heard it/them, interpreted as negative coded messages directed at her personally... with the result being that the relationship between the two fully ruptured, and they didn't speak for many years. Fortunately, they eventually reconciled, even reuniting for a one-off show in late 2015.

Kearney pithily summed up the rise and fall of his band, and their overall dynamic:
". . . when you scrape away the dazzling veneer of also-ran indie-rocker glitz, you're really just talking about emotionally unstable people with very little impulse control and a dangerously high alcohol tolerance."
He also had this to say regarding their only album:
"The only thing that bothers me about the album's latter-day reputation is the myth and lore of Our Unhappy Relationship, which I sometimes worry is the only reason people are still listening to it. The fact is, Barbara and I were getting along just fine when we recorded The Land Of Thirst. People sometimes present it as some indie-pop version of Rumours or Shoot Out The Lights. I know we brought this on ourselves through public displays of madness and worse, but most of that stuff happened after the LP had been written and recorded. Love it or hate it, The Land Of Thirst was the product of a somewhat crazed but extremely close and supportive working relationship, and I dislike seeing it portrayed as an album by and about people who were at each other's throats. Terrible things happened, to our eternal discredit, but most of them happened later on."
So, from the horse's mouth itself, I hereby stand corrected.

The very end of the article listed World Of Pooh's entire discography, all of the music they released on Nuf Sed and all of their compilation appearances. I knew that some of the stuff listed there (like the band's rare early-career cassette-only releases No Little Taxis Shining Their Light and Dust) I'd never have any hope in hell of ever tracking down. But as for one-off compilation tunes, my WOP collection was fairly complete, except for one selection: a cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s “Dominance and Submission”, included on an obscure 7" EP in 1992. Being the obsessive completest that I am, I made it my mission to track down a copy of this record and song, and after an exhaustive search, found the vinyl for sale from an overseas source - couldn't buy it fast enough.

Enjoy the Not All That Terrifies Harms 7", a ridiculously hard-to-find joint release by Ajax and Nuf Said Records in 1992, scorched off of my vinyl copy, featuring some rare releases by San Francisco bands both legendary and obscure - including Thinking Fellers Union Local 282's "Trevor" (a track otherwise only available on a 1995 Japanese import compilation) and the only source for World Of Pooh's Blue Öyster Cult cover (which, of course, is excellent).

And as an added bonus, here's a link to the entire issue of Dynamite Hemorrhage #3, now online, containing "World Of Pooh: The Oral History" - a much cleaner version of my scanned copy from earlier last year.

Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think.

Please use the email link below to contact me, and I will reply with the download link(s) ASAP:

Not All That Terrifies Harms EP: Send Email

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Fall - TV Appearances 1978-2004

And for my final posting in my week of Fall-related releases in the wake of the death of Mark E. Smith, here's a fan-assembled compilation (in .mp4 format) of television appearances, videos and interviews by the band over more than a quarter-century. You could say that this amalgamation serves as the visual
companion to The Fall's Complete Peel Sessions 1978-2004 box set, released in 2005. There are some superb and iconic performances featured here, from the band's appearance on Tony Wilson's So It Goes program in the late 1970's to the "Cruiser's Creek" video. Get ready for over TWO HOURS of Fall goodness!

Enjoy and remember what we'll all be missing, now that Mr. Smith is no longer with us. And as always, let me know what you think.

R.I.P., Mark.

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