Friday, March 26, 2021

The Beatles - The Beatles EP Collection (Plus) (18 Discs)

 

In addition to the thousands of CDs I have in my possession, I also own a couple hundred extended plays (EPs).  Included in that group are some of the most important and celebrated EP releases by some great artists over the years: Flying Nun Records' legendary Dunedin Double EP; The Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch; The Clash's Cost Of Living; R.E.M.'s Chronic Town; U2's very first release, Three; An Ideal For Living by Joy Division; The Pixies' Come On Pilgrim - along with some personal favorites: Slates by The Fall; Pavement's Watery, Domestic; Mission Of Burma's Signals, Calls And Marches; The Raveonettes' Whip It On; Nirvana's Hormoaning; Stink by The Replacements; pretty much all of The Cocteau Twins and Stereolab's EPs... and many, many more, including some I've written about and posted here in the past, such as Ratcat's 'Tingles' EP, the S.F. Seals Baseball Trilogy and the vinyl B-52's remix EPs.

Based upon all of this relatively recent activity, you'll be forgiven if you thought (as I once did) that EPs were a fairly recent innovation to music sales. If so, than like me, you would be wrong. A combination of market factors and competition drove the development of extended play discs. What follows is an abbreviated history of record playing formats:

78 rpm records (discs made of shellac or vinyl. with a playing speed of 78 revolutions per minute) were generally the standard recording format from the beginning of the 20th century into the mid-1940s. These discs came in two sizes, 12" and 10", and due to its fast rotation speed and larger playing groove, contained a maximum sound duration of five and three minutes, respectively.

While since the early 1930s some companies had made half-hearted attempts to market longer playing records for home use (all of which failed for economic reasons, as the Great Depression was in full swing), it wasn't until 1941 that a recording concern (Columbia) made a concerted effort to extend the playing duration of discs. Although research was interrupted by World War II, in the summer of 1948 Columbia unveiled their new creation: a disc rotating at 33 revolutions per minute (less than half of that of a 78) with a finer groove, in two sizes identical to that of the reigning format: a 12" and 10". These new long players (otherwise known as LPs) had an original capacity of 22 minutes per side, a playback capacity that only increased with subsequent improvements in technology.

In response to this, RCA Victor released the 7" 45 rpm record in the spring of 1949, as a smaller, more durable and higher-fidelity replacement for the shellac 78s. To compete with the LP, boxed album sets of 45s were issued. But despite intense marketing efforts by RCA Victor, by the mid-50s, the 45 ultimately succeeded only in replacing the 78 as the preferred format for singles. While most of the unit volume in those days was in 45 rpm sales, in terms of dollar sales, LPs led singles by almost two-to-one.

Partly as another attempt to compete with Columbia's LP, RCA Victor introduced the first "Extended Play" 45s during 1952. Their narrower grooves, achieved by lowering the cutting levels and sound compression optionally, enabled them to hold up to 7 and a half minutes per side [Generally speaking, an EP is described as "a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single but less than a full album or LP" - a pretty vague description, all in all. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) officially defines an EP as containing three to five songs or under 30 minutes in length, which fits the original EP running time to a tee. While other recording organizations around the world have other varying descriptions of what an EP is in terms of track numbers and overall length, for the sake of time and argument, let's just use the RIAA's].

RCA issued more than two dozen Elvis Presley EPs during the decade after it signed him away from Sun Records, and they were fairly popular releases. But other than those Elvis discs, EPs were relatively uncommon and hard to find in the U.S. by the early 1960s, all but fading away here as the Album Era gained strength and popularity from the late Fifties onward.  In the UK, however, the EP format continued to be successful, with chart-topping releases throughout the decade from such artists as The Shadows and Cliff Richard.

But the undisputed kings of British EPs were, believe it or not, The Beatles. Their first EP, Twist And Shout, sold over two million copies, topped the UK EP charts for more than five months, and was on the charts for more than a year. This disc and the three #1 UK EPs that followed (The Beatles' Hits, The Beatles (No. 1) and All My Loving) all contained songs that had been included in previously released Beatles albums. It wasn't until the release of the Long Tall Sally EP in the summer of 1964 that some original content was included (although all of the songs on this disc would be released on albums before that summer was out).

All of the British Beatles EP were issued by EMI/Parlophone on the dates indicated below, and all except for the Magical Mystery Tour EP were released in mono format. In 1981, all fourteen of the UK releases were gathered into one box set, The Beatles EP Collection, along with a new disc, titled The Beatles, which compiled previously unavailable stereo mixes of four songs.   Here are some of the specifics on each disc in this set:

The Beatles' Hits EP (originally released September 6th, 1963)
  1. From Me To You
  2. Thank You Girl
  3. Please Please Me
  4. Love Me Do
 
Twist And Shout EP (originally released July 12th, 1963) 
  1. Twist And Shout
  2. A Taste Of Honey
  3. Do You Want To Know A Secret
  4. There's A Place
The Beatles (No. 1) EP (originally released November 1st, 1963)
  1. I Saw Her Standing There
  2. Misery
  3. Anna (Go To Him)
  4. Chains
All My Loving EP (originally released February 7th, 1964)
  1. All My Loving
  2. Ask Me Why
  3. Money
  4. P.S. I Love You

 

Long Tall Sally EP (originally released June 19th, 1964)
  1. Long Tall Sally
  2. I Call Your Name
  3. Slow Down
  4. Matchbox

 

Extracts From The Film A Hard Day's Night EP (originally released November 4th, 1964)
  1. I Should Have Known Better
  2. If I Fell
  3. Tell Me Why
  4. And I Love Her
Extracts From The Album A Hard Day's Night EP (originally released November 6th, 1964)
  1. Any Time At All
  2. I'll Cry Instead
  3. Things We Said Today
  4. When I Get Home
Beatles For Sale EP (originally released April 6th, 1965)
  1. No Reply
  2. I'm A Loser
  3. Rock And Roll Music
  4. Eight Days A Week

Beatles For Sale No. 2 EP (originally released June 4th, 1965)

  1. I'll Follow The Sun
  2. Baby's In Black
  3. Words Of Love
  4. I Don't Want To Spoil The Party
The Beatles' Million Sellers EP (originally released December 6th, 1965)
  1. She Loves You
  2. I Want To Hold Your Hand
  3. Can't Buy Me Love
  4. I Feel Fine
Yesterday EP (originally released March 4th, 1966)
  1. Yesterday
  2. Act Naturally
  3. You Like Me Too Much
  4. It's Only Love

 

Nowhere Man EP (originally released July 8th, 1966)
  1. Nowhere Man
  2. Drive My Car
  3. Michelle
  4. You Won't See Me

 

Magical Mystery Tour (Stereo Version) EP (originally released December 8th, 1967)
  1. Magical Mystery Tour
  2. Your Mother Should Know
  3. I Am The Walrus
  4. The Fool On The Hill
  5. Flying
  6. Blue Jay Way
Magical Mystery Tour (Mono Version) EP (originally released December 8th, 1967)
  1. Magical Mystery Tour
  2. Your Mother Should Know
  3. I Am The Walrus
  4. The Fool On The Hill
  5. Flying
  6. Blue Jay Way
The Beatles EP (originally released December 7th, 1981)
  1. The Inner Light
  2. Baby You're A Rich Man
  3. She's A Woman
  4. This Boy
 
[In my opinion, there should be one more Beatles disc that should have been released as 
an EP - Yellow Submarine, which contains only four new songs by the band, then pads the "album" out with songs from the film's orchestral soundtrack recorded and produced by George Martin.  Of all the Beatles albums, this one is truly viewed as a contractual obligation/crass money grab semi-effort by the band, as the four new songs were all but screaming for an EP release... But heck - we already broached this subject, didn't we?
]
 
In addition to the British EPs lcollected above, three Beatles EPs were released in America - the first being Souvenir Of Their Visit To America. EMI's US subsidiary Capitol Records consistently refused to put out any Beatles material in the States during 1963 and early 1964 - despite the success the band was having overseas, the label just didn't believe the Fabs could make it in America and had ZERO interest in them. So EMI worked out a licensing deal with small independent Vee-Jay Records for the American release of the group's 1963 singles and debut album Please Please Me (Vee-Jay was actually eager to acquire the license to another popular EMI recording at the time, "I Remember You" by Frank Ifield, and took on the Beatles material as a throw-in/favor to EMI). Vee-Jay had limited resources to promote the music properly, which initially led to poor sales of Beatles product over here.  Once the Beatles were signed in November 1963 to play on the popular and influential The Ed Sullivan Show, Capitol Records SUDDENLY saw the light and changed their minds, exercising their option to release Beatles music in the U.S.

However, as a condition of their earlier contract, Vee-Jay was permitted to market any Beatles material they had licensed for another year, through October 1964. Their subsequent mail order EP offering was a huge success, more than making up for those lackluster Beatles sales the year prior.

The other two U.S. EPs, Four By The Beatles and 4 By The Beatles (confusingly similar names, but different content), were both Capitol's belated attempt to hop on the Beatles gravy train. But due to coming out after Vee-Jay's more successful disc, better distribution of full Beatles albums in the States, and the relatively unpopularity of the EP format here, sales for these two discs were not what Capitol anticipated, and they were both quickly deleted from Capitol's catalogue by the end of 1965.

Here are the details on the U.S. EPs:
 
4 By The Beatles EP (originally released February 1st, 1965)
  1. Honey Don't
  2. I'm A Loser
  3. Mr. Moonlight
  4. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
Four By The Beatles EP (originally released May 11th, 1964)
  1. All My Loving
  2. Please Mr. Postman
  3. Roll Over Beethoven
  4. This Boy

Souvenir Of Their Visit To America EP (originally released March 23rd, 1964)

  1. Misery
  2. A Taste Of Honey
  3. Ask Me Why
  4. Anna (Go To Him)

After the Beatles' EP heyday ended in the late 1960s, extended plays wouldn't become popular again until the rise of punk in the mid-1970s, when bands found it to be a more cost-efficient way to bring their music to the public's attention. This trend continued through the New Wave and alternative eras. While the use and sales of the EP have declined in the digital age, they are still being made, and are still out there ready for listeners to expand their musical horizons with. I, for one, hope the EP format never dies out.

...and, at least in the case of The Beatles, it lives on here! For your listening enjoyment, here is the entire slate of Fab Four EP releases:

  • The Beatles EP Collection, containing fourteen EPs originally released between 1963 and 1967 in the UK, plus a bonus disc of never-before released stereo material.  This set was initially put out on vinyl by EMI/Parlophone on December 7th, 1981, and subsequently on compact disc on May 26th, 1992; and
  • The three U.S. EPs, originally released by Vee-Jay and Capitol Records, respectively, in 1964 and 1965.

Enjoy these brief but extended blasts of Sixties rock goodness... 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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Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Fall - Sussex Morning


A continuation of my annual commemoration of the death of band leader, group stalwart and all-around indie music genius Mark E. Smith, who died three years ago today, on January 24th, 2018.  I know I have said this every year since that fatal day, but Smith and his band are still sorely missed, by myself and thousands of other rabid Fall fans.

By now, I've pretty much given up on seeing any 'new' Fall product hit the shelves... As I've mentioned before, in the wake of the demise of a band with such a broad and discerning fan base, usually labels will make every effort to scour their vaults for unreleased or alternative versions of songs to gather into "expanded editions" of existing albums or collections of heretofore unheard music. I mean, heck, look at what's happened with David Bowie's catalog over the past five years - they're still finding and putting out quality sets, like the fine Conversation Piece early-career compilation in 2019. Somehow, that hasn't been the case with The Fall.  Perhaps it may be due to their convoluted recording history across a multitude of labels (although that didn't seem to deter other career-spanning Fall compilations released before Smith's death)... but I'm beginning to suspect more and more that there just isn't that much studio-recorded stuff out there to cull from.

The COVID-19 pandemic has, needless to say, limited the activities of the post-Fall bands. Imperial Wax spent most of the spring and summer of 2020 hunkered down, but during the fall began work on their second album, a follow-up to 2018's Gastwerk Saboteurs. And it appears this band is gearing up in anticipation for the 2021 concert/festival season, assuming that it comes to pass. So good luck to them with those endeavors.

Brix & The Extricated have been silent all year (mercifully so, in my opinion), with no shows or releases in 2020. However, just today Brix announced a couple of new projects for 2021, including a solo album (her first standalone release since fronting The Adult Net more than thirty years ago) and a book about The Fall. We'll see how all of that turns out.

Probably the most significant Fall-related news over the past year was the June 6th death (at the age of seventy-two) of former band manager and Smith girlfriend Kay Carroll. The hard-nosed Carroll ran the business end of The Fall from 1977 until falling out/breaking up with Smith in the midst of a U.S. tour in the spring of 1983 (Mark rebounded swiftly, hooking up with Brix in Chicago little more than a month later). Kay remained in the States and ended up settling in Portland, Oregon, where she worked in nursing for several years and went through a couple of husbands. It's generally understood that the Fall song "An Older Lover" was written by Mark about her (she was eleven years Smith's senior). The Guardian carried an obituary a couple of weeks after her passing; here it is.

Anyway, like I said earlier, I don't think we're going to see any new Fall studio remainders put out anytime soon, if ever. And I believe on more than one occasion I've clearly expressed my low opinion for the various Fall live sets and soundboard recordings that have been released over the years. Receiver Records, Cog Sinister and Castle Music have clogged/saturated the market with sketchy, poorly-captured band gigs from locales worldwide, so much so that I have made little to no effort to collect many of them, finding them not worth my while. However, I will occasionally stumble across a live set that breaks that half-assed mold, and actually brings something to the table. My offering today is one of these.

This disc was the initial offering from a blogsite/poster named Hanleyfender, a site that was active off and on between 2009 and 2013, and specialized in making available live versions of Fall shows.  This recording covers some of the poster's favorite live Fall songs from various locations during the 2006-2007 timeframe; here's some additional information regarding tracks and participants:

1. Intro (Over Over loop. L.A.) 23.05.2006
2. Senior Twilight Stock Replacer. Brighton. 31.03.2007
3. MES Birthday 50 Year Old Man. Bilston. 05.03.2007
4. Over Over. Aberdeen. 15.03.2007
5. Fall Sound. Brick Lane London. 12.03.2006
6. Theme From Sparta F.C. Malaga. Spain. 21.01.2007
7. Hungry Freaks, Daddy. Edinburgh. 13.03.2007
8. My Door Is Never. Reading. 28.03.2007
9. Coach and Horses. Brick Lane. London. 11.09.2006
10. Mountain Energie. Los Angeles. CA. 23.05.2006
11. Reformation. Brighton. 31.03.2007
12. Palais Interlude. Hammersmith Palais. London. 01.04.2007
13. Scenario. Brick Lane. London. 12.03.2006
14. Systematic Abuse. Brick Lane. London. 12.03.2006
15. White Lightning. Brighton. 31.03.2007
16. Blindness. Bournemouth. 10.09.2006
17. Outro (Loop 41. L.A). 23.05.2006

The Fall:
Tim Presley (Guitar). Bab Borbato (Musicmaster Bass). Orpheo McCord (Drums).
Dave Spurr (Bass. He’s not a Yank). Mark E. Smith (Vocals). Elani Smith (Keyboards)

Additional Hanleyfender notes:

"Generally considered by me to be the greatest Fall live compilation ever. 'Mountain Energie' also considered by me to be the greatest ever audience recording ever captured by The Fall."

This recording was originally made into a limited edition (50 copies) of CDs sent out to friends of The Consortium, the music blogging group Hanleyfender was affiliated with. But since then it's become a little more widespread - but not by much. It's still an awful hard Fall comp to track down.

So here it is for you all to peruse: The Fall's Sussex Morning, a fan-assembled compilation of live tracks prepared and released in 2009. This assemblage is offered up both in tribute to and in memory of the great Mark E. Smith, and to keep alive the music he and his band made for over forty years for at least a little while longer. Enjoy, remember, and as always, let me know what you think.

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Monday, January 4, 2021

2020 In Memorium - #4: Millie Small (Born 1947)

Millie Small (1947 - 2020)

One of twelve children born to a sugar plantation overseer in Clarendon, Jamaica, Millicent Dolly May ("Millie") Small's rise to fame began in 1960 when she was twelve years old, with her participation and subsequent victory in the popular and influential Vere Johns Opportunity Knocks Hour talent contest on RJR radio, broadcast nationwide in Jamaica (a show that also launched the careers of Alton Ellis, Desmond Dekker, Laurel Aitken and The Wailers, among many, many other music giants). After her victory, she began working with acclaimed producer Coxsone Dodd, who paired her first with Owen Gray, then with Roy Panton, for a series of well-received Jamaican R&B/"bluebeat" singles. Producer Chris Blackwell, seeing her local success, began envisioning bringing Millie's music to a wider audience, and after stepping in to become her manager and legal guardian, brought her to London in late 1963 for further training in speech and dance in anticipation of an international launch.

Millie's initial recording for Blackwell in England, "Don't You Know", did nothing over there. Searching for a potential hit, Blackwell recalled a record he purchased in the States in 1959, a minor hit in 1956 for an obscure singer, Barbie Gaye, called "My Boy Lollypop".  He changed both the spelling (from "Lollypop" to "Lollipop") and arrangement (from an R&B "shuffle" style to a similar shuffling but modified bluebeat variation called "ska"), and had Millie's version  released in England by March 1964 (not on Island Records, but on Fontana, due to the strain the record would have put on the former record company's resources).  The song was a smash hit, reaching #2 in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, topping the charts in Ireland and selling over six million copies worldwide.  Cconsidered the first commercially successful international ska song, Small's version of "My Boy Lollipop" helped to launch Island Records into mainstream popular music. To this day, it remains one of the best-selling reggae/ska hits of all time.

 

For a brief moment in time, Millie was the toast of the music world. achieving international fame at the tender age of sixteen.  She appeared frequently on British television during that time, both in musical performances (she was a guest performer on the May 1964 TV special Around The Beatles, and had her own Ready! Steady! Go! special, "Millie In Jamaica" in early 1965) and dramatic performances (she was featured in ITV's Play Of The Week "The Rise and Fall of Nellie Brown", airing during the 1964 holiday season).

In the immediate wake of "My Boy Lollipop", Millie Small followed up with a couple of smaller hits (her next release, "Sweet William", made the UK Top 30 and US Top 40). But her chart presence and attendant fame dwindled very quickly, with her last appearance in the British Top 50 occurring in late 1965, when her song "Bloodshot Eyes" reached #48. Her recording contracts with Island and Fontana ended in 1968. After a brief surge in her exposure in the late Sixties, coinciding with the emergence of reggae music, Small ended her recording career in 1971 and moved to Singapore for a couple of years. She returned to England in 1973, the same time a major compilation of her work was released, then all but fell off the map for several years.

In 1987, a British news service searching for her whereabouts for the past fifteen years discovered that Millie Small was destitute, living in a filthy hostel in London with her toddler daughter. A fund was established for her livelihood, and in that same year came the first of several awards and special recognition to her from the Jamaican government for her pioneering and groundbreaking music career. Millie continued to live in London until this past year, when she died of a stroke there on May 5th at the age of seventy-two.

"My Boy Lollipop" is a great song, a true classic. But to be frank, I seriously doubt that she could have sustained a long-term career... probably because a little bit of Millie Small goes a long way; her high-pitched vocals - described as sounding like "a dentist's drill" or "a chipmunk on helium" - were acceptable enough in small doses, but wearing on listeners over a full album.

But I'll let you determine that for yourself. In commemoration of her life, here's a definitive compilation of all of Millie Small's solo hits, My Boy Lollipop Plus 31 Others, released by Comb A Rama on October 20th, 2011. Have a listen and let me know your thoughts.

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Sunday, January 3, 2021

2020 In Memorium - #3: Toots Hibbert (Born 1942)


Frederick "Toots" Hibbert (1942 - 2020)

Back when I was working in the Washington, DC area in the mid/late 2000s, I used to spend a lot of time after work at a bar/coffeehouse called Tryst, in that city's Adams-Morgan neighborhood.  The big, comfortable, rustic old space it occupied was furnished with huge old mismatched tables, sofas and lounges all seemingly scrounged from a garage sale, and local art covered the unevenly painted walls.  Yeah, it was (ant still is) sort of a local
hipster's hangout, a place for people who thought they were cool/bohemian/arty to see and be seen in.  But it has a nice ambience, the staff was great, most of the customers were easy-going, and there was nice coffee and a decent bar/food menu available (one of my favorite drinks there was what they called a Dufrene, which was a pint of Guinness with a shot of espresso poured into it).  Plus, they had free wifi, so if you could find a seat at a table, you could basically sit there all evening, eating, drinking and browsing the Web.

Tryst would host various cultural events from time to time, including art openings, left-leaning political get-togethers and DJ nights - events that I usually tried to avoid, not that I was "anti-" any of that, but since the space required to set up these events would mean less available seating for potential customers, and I generally got there later than most. I hated having to stand around by the wall, strategically positioning myself to commandeer a seating as soon as a current occupant made the slightest indication that he or she was about to vacate.

Anyway, one night in the spring of 2006, they were having another DJ night at Tryst, but this time I had arrived there early enough to place myself at one of the coveted seats/tables. I was sitting there chilling out, with a Greek salad and a Dufrene in front of me, watching Fritz Lang's classic thriller M on my laptop and not really paying much attention to the record spinner, who seemed to be playing a lot of deep house and dub sides... when all of a sudden, one of the cuts he put on caught my attention - THIS one:


Although by that point in life, I was a pretty big ska and reggae fan, somehow I had no awareness of this tune the DJ played that night. I might have heard it before and it hadn't connected, perhaps... but no matter - it DEFINITELY connected that night. Before the song was half over, I rushed to the area in Tryst when the turntables were set up to learn the name of this great song and band.  It was "Funky Kingston", off of the album by the same name, by Toots & The Maytals.

Frederick Hibbert was born in 1942 in Jamaica, the youngest of seven children. His parents were both fundamentalist Seventh Day Adventists preachers, so Hibbert's earliest singing experiences were with church gospel choirs. However, before he turned twelve, both of his parents had died, leaving him an orphan raised by his older brother John, who lived in Kingston in the soon-to-be-famous Trenchtown neighborhood, birthplace and crucible of modern Jamaican music.

There in Trenchtown, with his childhood friends Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Matthias, Toots formed the first version of the Toots & The Maytals trio in 1961, when he was nineteen. The band's early ska/rocksteady songs, such as "Six And Seven Books Of Moses" and "Hallelujah", were rooted in Hibbert's religious upbringing. But the band quickly moved on from those themes and expanded their repertoire. By the mid-60s, Toots & The Maytals were one of the biggest bands in Jamaica, with producers clamoring to work with them and the group producing hit after hit, including "Bam Bam", "54-46 That's My Number" (inspired by Hibbert's 18-month stretch in prison for marijuana possession) and "Do The Reggay", the first song to refer to (and subsequently coin the term) "reggae", the then-new music genre that continues to this day.

 

Toots & The Maytals had released several albums in Jamaica during the 1960s, but by the early '70s they - and reggae music in general - were still relatively unknown in the rest of the world. That international perception began to change in 1972 with the release of the film The Harder They Come, an underground hit in the UK which featured two Maytals songs in the soundtrack. Attempting to strike while the iron was still hot, producer Chris Blackwell hustled the band into Dynamic Sounds Studio in Jamaica, and by the early spring of 1972 had released Funky Kingston, the group's first international album, in Britain and other Commonwealth countries. In 1975, a revised version of Funky Kingston was released in the States, retaining only three songs from the 1972 release and adding six from the Maytals' immediate follow-up album In The Dark, along with the single version of "Pressure Drop" from The Harder They Come soundtrack.

Here's the lineup on the original release:

  1. "Sit Right Down" — 4:44
  2. "Pomps And Pride" — 4:30
  3. "Louie Louie" — 5:46
  4. "I Can't Believe"
  5. "Redemption Song" — 3:26
  6. "Daddy's Home" — 5:05
  7. "Funky Kingston" — 4:54
  8. "It Was Written Down" — 3:04
And here is the track listing on the U.S. release:
  1. "Time Tough" — 4:23
  2. "In the Dark" — 2:48
  3. "Funky Kingston" — 4:54
  4. "Love is Gonna Let Me Down" — 3:15
  5. "Louie Louie"
  6. "Pomps and Pride" — 4:30
  7. "Got to Be There" — 3:06
  8. "Country Road" — 3:23
  9. "Pressure Drop" — 3:46
  10. "Sailin' On" — 3:35
Both versions were celebrated, and the album is credited with breaking reggae internationally. The US version is ranked at #380 in Rolling Stone's 2012 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and rightfully so.

The original Toots & The Maytals continued on as a unit until the early 1980s before breaking up, with Hibbert having a long subsequent career as a solo artist, collaborator with the likes of Willie Nelson, Gov't Mule, The Red Hot Chili Peppers (among many others), and reviving the Maytals from time to time with new members.  Toots performed right up to the end, with his final appearances in the spring and summer of 2020, just before he took ill.
 
Frederick "Toots" Hibbert died of complications from contracting the COVID-19 virus in a hospital in Mona, Jamaica on September 11th, at the age of seventy-seven.
 
In honor of his life, I present to you both versions of the seminal album Funky Kingston:
  • The original version, released on Dragon Records (a subsidiary of Chris Blackwell's Island Records) in April 1972; and
  • The U.S. version, released on Mango Records in mid-1975

Enjoy and pay tribute to one of the founding fathers of reggae! And as always, let me know what you think.

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  • Funky Kingston (Original 1972 Jamaica/UK Release): Send Email  
  • Funky Kingston (Revised 1975 US Release): Send Email

Saturday, January 2, 2021

2020 In Memoriam - #2: Eugene Wright (Born 1923)


Eugene Wright (1923 - 2020)

Longtime jazz double bassist Eugene Wright, "The Senator", the last surviving member of the legendary and classic Dave Brubeck Quartet lineup (consisting of Wright, pianist Brubeck, drummer Joe Morello and Paul Desmond on sax), died just last week, on 30 December at the age of 97.  Wright's steady, innovative play anchored the sound of that group for a decade, from 1958 to 1968, and he participated on nearly thirty albums with the Quartet, including the classic 1959 album Time Out (featuring the hit "Take Five"), the first jazz album to sell a million copies.  

As the only black member of the quartet, he was part of one of the few racially mixed jazz groups during the early years of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.  As such, Wright's presence led to showdowns between band leader Brubeck, a staunch opponent of segregation, and some concert promoters and college officials in the Southern U.S., incidents that Brubeck never backed down from, supporting his bandmate in every instance.

I've already posted something on the quartet many years ago, on the day Brubeck died, so I won't reiterate how great I think this combo was.  Instead, I'll just provide you all with yet another example of the level of jazz mastery this group was capable of, off of one of the quartet's less popularly celebrated but critically acclaimed late-period recordings, Time In.  A reviewer for Allmusic.com, Thom Jurek, described this release as "one of his most musically adventurous. ... of all the 'Time' recordings, this is the least commercial ... Though it is seldom celebrated as such, this is one of Brubeck's finest moments on Columbia."  If you enjoyed Time Out and Time Further Out, this album is going to be right up your alley as well.

So, here you are - The Dave Brubeck Quartet's Time In, put out on Columbia Records on June 14, 1966.  Chill out to this cool and interesting slice of '60s jazz, and as always... well, you know.

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Friday, January 1, 2021

2020 In Memorium - #1: Tony Lewis (Born 1957)


In addition to artists who passed on last year that I've already posted about, including David Roback, John Prine and Andy Gill, the following are a series of posts regarding other perhaps less heralded/recognized musicians who died in 2020 who will also be sorely missed.

Tony Lewis (1957 - 2020)

RIP to Tony Lewis, frontman and lead singer for the 1980s English power pop group The Outfield, who died unexpectedly in London on 20 October at the age of sixty-three. This group didn't have many hits during their lifetime, but the ones they did have were stone-cold classics, including this sublime 1985 gem and defining band tune "Your Love" off of their debut album from that year.  This song got played to death on FM radio back when I was in school, and rightfully so - just a great, great tune, eventually reaching #6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts.

The song dragged the album, Play Deep, into the US Top Ten as well, achieving triple-platinum status (The Outfield was an odd and rare example of a British band that made it big in the States, but had little success in their own home country). Subsequent albums by the band during the decade led to diminishing returns, and the original lineup of The Outfield broke up in 1992. Various iterations of the group continued touring and releasing albums intermittently over the next twenty years until band cofounder John Spinks died of cancer in 2014. After a short hiatus from music, Lewis continued his career as a solo artist, releasing a solo album (Out Of The Darkness) in 2018 and touring constantly until his own death last year.

To me, "Your Love" is one of the most recognizable and defining pop songs of the mid-80s; movie-makers who include this tune in their soundtrack immediately establish a time and setting for their films. It's the sound of beaches, and cars, and sun, and fun, and summer love... all rolled into a three-minute nugget. So it deservedly lives on long after its debut and heyday, and so does Mr. Lewis as well. Thanks for the music, Tony.

In honor of his life, I proudly present you with Play Deep, the debut album by Lewis' band The Outfield, released on Columbia Records on November 12th, 1985. Enjoy, remember, and as always, let me know what you think.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Various Artists - Halloween Nuggets: Monster Sixties A Go-Go (3 Discs)

 

I pulled together a lot of my Halloween-related stuff last year, fully intending to have a couple of major music dumps here onto the blog prior to last October 31st... but time just got away from me, and I never ended up posting any of that stuff.  I'm trying to make up for it this year, by actually getting up off my ass and getting some things posted well prior to the holiday for the edification and enjoyment of you all... and here's the first offering: the classic Halloween Nuggets set, three discs of spook-centric rock obscurities from the late Fifties and throughout the Sixties, mixed in with audio from classic horror/sci-fi film trailers of the era.  Here's the lineup:

Disc 1 
1. The Mystrys – Witch Girl (2:03)
2. Teddy Durant – The Beast of Sunset Strip (2:25)
3. The Ebbtides – Seance (2:03)
4. Bela La Goldensetin – Why Do I Love You (2:09)
5. The Phantom Five – Graveyard (2:37)
6. Murray Schafe & the Aristocrats – Tombstone No. 9 (3:02)
7. Jackie Morningstar – Rockin’ In the Graveyard (2:38)
8. Alan Smithee – Halloween Convention of Spooks (0:56)
9. Round Robin – I’m the Wolfman (2:37)
10. Griz Green – Jam At the Mortuary (2:54)
11. The Grim Reapers – Two Souls (2:54)
12. The Connoissurs – Count Macabre (2:19)
13. The Madmen – Haunted (2:00)
14. The Vettes – Devil’s Driver Theme (2:07)
15. Terry Gale – The Voodoo (2:26)
16. Glenda & Glen – Voodoo?Doll (1:50)
17. Daron Daemon & The Vampires – Ghost Guitars (2:25)
18. Jim Burgett – Jekyll and Hyde (2:26)
19. Anton Giulio Majano – Atom Age Vampire (1:18)
20. Mann Drake – Vampire’s Ball (2:31)
21. Bobby Bare – Vampira (2:18)
22. Johnny Anderson – Zoola Zooky (2:24)
23. Alan Smithee – Frankenstein & Dracula (1:14)
24. Peter & The Wolves – Mr. Frankenstein (2:55)
25. Frankie Stein and His Ghouls – Dr. Spook Twist (2:02)
26. George Waggner – The Wolfman (0:33)
27. Gary Warren – Werewolf (1:52)
28. The Frantics – Werewolf (2:02)
29. Chance Halliday – Bury Me Deep (2:26)
30. The Weirdos – E.S.P. Theme For Shock Theatre (3:01)
31. Kenny And The Fiends – The Raven (1:57)
32. the Executioners – The Guillotine (1:59)

Disc 2 
1. Invasion – The Invasion Is Coming (1:44)
2. Ed Wood – Plan 9 From Outer Space (0:58)
3. Boots Walker – They’re Here (2:14)
4. The Quests – Shadows In the Night (2:33)
5. Positively 13 O’Clock – Psychotic Reaction (2:01)
6. The Spellbinders – Castin’ My Spell (2:25)
7. Chance Halliday – Deep Sleep (1:42)
8. Vic Plati Quintet – The Chiller (2:37)
9. Teddy Durant – The Night Stalker (2:11)
10. The Graveyard Five – Marble Orchard (3:17)
11. Glenn & Christy with the Adventures – Wombat Twist (2:15)
12. Billy Ghoulston – Zombie Stomp (2:18)
13. Irvin Yeaworth – The Blob (1:16)
14. Johnny Fraser and the Regalaires – It (2:07)
15. Mr. Baseman & The Symbols – Do the Zombie (2:17)
16. The Shandells – Go Go Gorilla (2:53)
17. Ronnie Self – Go Go Cannibal (2:06)
18. Phil Tucker – Robot Monster (0:50)
19. The Shades – Strolling After Dark (2:07)
20. Jericho Jones – Black Magic (2:07)
21. Karl Freund – The Mummy (0:38)
22. Lee Ross – The Mummy’s Bracelet (2:13)
23. The Contrails – The Mummy Walk (Walking Death) (2:36)
24. Fred F. Sears – The Werewolf (0:11)
25. Carl Bonafede & The Gemtones – The Werewolf (2:08)
26. Johnny Eager – Howl (2:12)
27. Herbert L. Strock – I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1:32)
28. The Keytones – I Was a Teenage Monster (2:17)
29. Lord Luther with The King’s Men – (I was a) Teenage Creature (2:45)
30. Ted V. Mikels – The Astro Zombies (0:57)
31. Sonny Day and the Tony Ray Combo – Creature From Outer Space (2:29)
32. The Sabres – Spider Walk (2:28)
33. The Abstracts – Nightmare (3:07)

Disc 3
1. Ralph Nieson & The Chancellors – Scream (1:55)
2. Bernard Louis Kowalski – Night of the Blood Beast (0:48)
3. Billy & The Dukes – Roland (2:36)
4. Al Saxon – Evil Eye (2:31)
5. Kiriae Crucible – The Salem Witch Trial (2:52)
6. The 7th Court – One Eyed Witch (2:23)
7. Dave Gardner – Mad Witch (2:34)
8. Ervinna & The Stylers – Witch Queen of New Orleans (2:16)
9. Betty Lavett – Witchcraft In the Air (2:36)
10. The Circus – Burn Witch Burn (2:01)
11. Miss L. L.Louise Lewis – Monster’s Bride (1:48)
12. Glenn Ryle – Wolf Gal (2:17)
13. Gary Warren – Midnight Rain (2:33)
14. Jack Arnold – Creature From the Black Lagoon (0:40)
15. Evans Carroll & The Tempos – The Monster (2:08)
16. Billy Taylor And The Teardrops – Wombie Zombie (2:16)
17. Jan Davis – Watusi Zombi (1:59)
18. Terry Teene – Here Comes the Hearse (2:30)
19. Frankie Stein and His Ghouls – Knives and Lovers (2:19)
20. The Blue Knights – Madness (2:52)
21. The Elites – Jack the Ripper (2:09)
22. Larry & The Blue Notes – Night of the Phantom (2:13)
23. The Upperclassmen – Cha Cha With the Zombies (2:35)
24. Bela La Goldenstein – Old Boris (2:14)
25. Chris Kevin – Haunted House (2:03)
26. William Castle – The House on Haunted Hill trailer (0:32)
27. Kenny & the Fiends – The House on Haunted Hill (1:31)
28. Skip Manning – Devil Blues (2:31)
29. The Devotions – Devil’s Gotten Into My Baby (2:42)
30. The Twelfth Night – Grim Reaper (1:52)
31. James Duhon – Grave Yard Creep (2:33)
32. Original Trailer – Godzilla King of the Monsters (1:41)
33. Los Holy’s – Campo De Vampiros (3:12)
34. Richard Rome – Ghost a Go Go (2:12)

Sorry for the abbreviated writeup; just haven't been able to complete a longer form narrative that I was planning.  But no matter; you all are here for the music, not for my long-winded screeds!  

So here you are:  the Halloween Nuggets: Monster Sixties A Go-Go set, 98 tracks of frighteningly good and obscure rock 'n' roll, released on Rockbeat Records on July 18th, 2014.  Enjoy, and as always, let me know what you think.  And have a Happy Halloween!

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

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