Friday, August 27, 2021

The Beatles - Instant Karma! UPGRADE

The Beatles – Instant Karma!
(a soniclovenoize reimagining)
August 2021 UPGRADE

Side A:
1.    Instant Karma!  (We All Shine On)
2.    All Things Must Pass
3.    Every Night
4.    I Found Out
5.    Beware of Darkness
6.    Working Class Hero
7.    Momma Miss America

Side B:
8.    It Don’t Come Easy
9.    Isolation
10.   Junk
11.   My Sweet Lord
12.   Maybe I’m Amazed
13.   Love
14.   Hear Me Lord

Alright, you asked for it, you got it!  This is an UPGRADE of the first in a series of album re-imaginings that proposes “What if The Beatles didn’t break up?”  This first volume—Instant Karma!would have theoretically been released late 1970, and was intentionally raw and stripped down.  This upgrade notably uses the brand new All Things Must Pass 50th Anniversary remix as the source for George’s tracks, as well as the 50th Anniversary remixes of Plastic Ono Band for Lennon’s.  In doing so, John’s songs sound slightly more polished and George’s songs sound slightly less polished, somehow meeting Paul in the middle.  I have also thrown in a couple more surprises as well...   Maybe you can find them?  

To restate once again, the “rules” of these 70s Beatles albums are:
1)  One album is represented per year, culled from tracks each Beatle recorded that year; the only exception is All Things Must Pass is split over 1970 & 1971, and Living In The Material World is split over 1972 & 1973.   
2)  Generally speaking, to include five Lennon songs, five McCartney songs, three Harrison songs and one Ringo song; there might be some deviance to this rule depending on availability per year.
3)  The chosen songs must be Beatle-esque in nature; we will attempt to avoid the idiosyncratic musical tangents each Beatle pursued in the 70s and vie for the solo songs that would have been most likely recorded by The Beatles (i.e. not vetoed by the rest of the band).
4)  The songs must flow together and make a unified album that shares a specific tone. 


Note that a suspension of disbelief is required to fully enjoy these 70s Beatles albums, and I encourage listeners to imagine what each Beatles would have contributed to each other’s songs, had they actually made these albums together.  

My original album notes from 2012:

This reconstruction—or reimagining, as I’m calling it—asks the question that I think we’ve all asked at one point or another: What if The Beatles didn't break up?  This theoretical album attempts to cull the best of The Beatles solo material from 1970 alone to create what could have been the band’s follow-up to Abbey Road (or depending on how you look at it, Let It Be).  The songs were carefully chosen to create a unified and cohesive album that would best carry on ‘The Beatles torch’ while still retaining each of the members’ diverging interests.  The best and least brickwalled/clipping remasters were chosen for source material, volume levels adjusted for song-to-song balance and all songs are tightly book-ended to make a continuous two sides of music.  

The result—an album I call Instant Karma!—is a somber, introspective album, full of contradicting stripped-down John & Paul songs juxtaposed with the massively-produced George & Ringo songs.  Sonically, it lies somewhere between The White Album in its stark contrasts and Abbey Road with its epic majesty.  All of the songs are from different perspectives, yet hint at the same thing: a desire for understanding the essences of basic human nature and the quest for the soul itself.  If I may dare, the songs seem to create a particular narrative: the members of the band themselves engaging in their own dialog with themselves, repairing the bond between them that had slipped over the previous 4 years.

So sit back and imagine, if you will, an alternate timeline…  That sometime in 1970: The Beatles fired Allen Klein and somehow came upon an agreement of how to run Apple Records, allowing the band members to separate the music from the business, the chief destruction of the band being averted; with the success of “Here Comes The Sun” and “Something” and an amazing back-catalog of unused and new songs, George successfully campaigns for an equal share of his own songs to be featured alongside the Lennon/McCartney originals (with the compromise that Linda and Yoko are allowed in the Beatles' inner circle if need be); pleased with Phil Spector’s work remixing Let It Be, The Beatles opt to have him produce the bulk of their recordings throughout the 1970s (despite McCartney’s reluctance); John agrees but wants to elaborate on the stripped-down and live-band-sounding arrangements, as revisited in the Get Back sessions from the previous year, but at least for his own compositions written from his Primal Scream therapy sessions; Ringo was, as always, just happy to be there.

Instant Karma! is released to critical and commercial success in late 1970, re-establishing The Beatles as a dominant musical force in the 1970s.  Three hit singles were released from this album in 1970 and early 1971: “Instant Karma!” b/w the non-album B-side “That Would Be Something”, “Maybe I’m Amazed” b/w the non-album B-side “Apple Scruffs” and “My Sweet Lord” b/w the non-album B-side “Well Well Well”.  The success of Instant Karma! gave a new confidence to the band that was so close to breaking up, especially with a new producer, a stronger leading-role for their lead guitarist as a songwriter and the band's uncertainty of relevance in a new decade.  Regrouping in the summer of 1971 with a new set of songs and a new sense of unity, The Beatles attempt to record their second album of the 1970s.  Can you... imagine?

Sources used:

All Things Must Pass (2021 50th Anniversary remaster)
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (2021 50th Anniversary remaster)
McCartney (2011 remaster)
Photographs – The Best of Ringo Starr (2007)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included

Monday, July 5, 2021

Tom Petty - Wildflowers (Double Album)


 Tom Petty – Wildflowers
(soniclovenoize double album reconstruction)

Disc 1:
1.  You Don’t Know How It Feels
2.  You Wreck Me
3.  To Find a Friend
4.  California
5.  Don’t Fade On Me
6.  Honey Bee
7.  Wildflowers
8.  Leave Virginia Alone
9.  Only a Broken Heart
10.  Hard On Me
11.  Thirteen Days
12.  Cabin Down Below
13.  Hung Up and Overdue

Disc 2:
1.  A Higher Place
2.  House in the Woods
3.  Time to Move On
4.  Crawling Back To You
5.  Something Could Happen
6.  Climb That Hill
7.  It’s Good To Be King
8.  Lonesome Dave
9.  Confusion Wheel
10.  Hope You Never
11.  Wake Up Time
12.  Girl on LSD

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Ghosts On The Highway (1993 album reimagining)
1.  Mary Jane’s Last Dance
2.  You Saw Me Comin’
3.  Honey Bee
4.  Something Could Happen
5.  Thirteen Days
6.  Lonesome Dave
7.  Something in the Air
8.  House in the Woods
9.  Crawling Back To You
10.  Cabin Down Below
11.  Wake Up Time
12.  Come On Down To My House

Happy Fourth of July!  Even though that really doesn’t apply to my international followers, I thought I would regardless give everyone a true American treasure: my reconstruction of the double-album configuration of Tom Petty’s seminal 1994 album Wildflowers.  Originally conceived as a double-disc by Petty and producer Rick Rubin, the pair trimmed down the set into a single-disc, in order to keep the compact disc at a reasonable price for fans.  Songs from the remaining half of the album have trickled out on various releases throughout the last 25 years, notably on the She’s The One Soundtrack and the Wildflowers & All The Rest box set.  This reconstruction attempts to gather all 25 songs originally intended to make the cut onto it’s double-album configuration, organized in a logical and musically cohesive manner as it could have been originally released in 1994.  As a bonus, I have also included a reimagining of what a true Heartbreakers version of the album could have been, as it existed in 1993 before drummer Stan Lynch left the band.  

After nearly twenty years and an unfathomable slew of hits, Tom Petty was ready to move on to the next phase of his musical career.  A pair of albums produced by his buddy Jeff Lynne—Petty’s 1989 solo album Full Moon Fever and 1991’s Into The Great Wide Open with The Heartbreakers—produced a string of hits that ensured his longevity into the 1990s.  But his desire for a change mapped out a new road for the singer/songwriter, as Petty desired a more organic, live-sounding recording as compared to the sonically perfectionistic "Jeff Lynne sound."  Legendary Def Jam producer Rick Rubin was drafted to capture the rawness of the band, who immediately hit it off with Petty despite a nearly ten-year age difference and a completely different musical background.   Additionally, Petty wanted this new project to be his second solo album, desiring the freedom to work with different musicians and from the established sound of The Heartbreakers.  It would also be his first at Warner Brothers Records, a deal he had signed while still owing MCA two more records.   

After recording some pre-production demos with The Heartbreakers in August 1992 at guitarist Mike Campbell’s home studio, Petty, Rubin and Campbell gathered into Sound City studios that fall as a production team, beginning work on the new untitled project.  Moving on to a full band sound, the trio auditioned a number of session drummers, trying to find the percussionist with the correct ‘feel’.  The trio eventually settled on Steve Ferrone, formerly the drummer for Average White Band, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton and Duran Duran.  Throughout December 1992 and spread into Spring of 1993, a number of songs were recorded: “Time To Move On”, “It’s Good To be King”, “Leave Virginia Alone”, “House in the Woods”, “Only a Broken Heart”, “A Higher Place” and “Hard On Me”.  In June, the trio relocated to Ocean Way to record a few songs with Petty’s old pal, Ringo Starr: “Hard To Find a Friend”, “Hung Up and Overdue” and “Wildflowers” -- the later of which was adopted as the flagship song for the project, winning over "It's Time To Move On."  Everyone agreed the songs were of unusually high quality, many that seemed to address Petty’s failing marriage.  Petty specifically believed he was channeling something magic, and later admitted he could not replicate this later in his career.   

A kink in the chain suddenly emerged, as MCA still needed a final Heartbreakers album to complete their contract with the label.  Reaching out to abandoned drummer Stan Lynch, the quintet reassembled at Ocean Way in July 1993 to record a few songs to round off a Greatest Hits compilation, to round off the contract.  Not wanting to sacrifice any of his strong songs for the Wildflowers project, Petty wrote a new chorus for an unfinished Full Moon Fever outtake, thus creating one if his signature songs: “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”.  But this session was not simply a one-and-done scenario, as over two and a half hours of material was recorded with The Heartbreakers: Petty originals such as “Lonesome Dave” and “Something Could Happen”; improvisations like “105 Degrees” and “Come On Down To My House”; a number of takes of his newer Wildflowers songs like “Crawling Back To You”, “Cabin Down Below” and “Honey Bee”; and a large number of cover songs, such as: Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air”, JJ Cale’s “Thirteen Days”, Elvis Presley’s “Wooden Heart” and “Baby Let’s Play House” and the ubiquitous “Blue Moon of Kentucky”.  The productivity was bittersweet, as Lynch left the session without really saying goodbye, their musical differences taking the better of both.  Greatest Hits was eventually released in November 1993, with “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” reaching the Top 20 on the Billboard charts.  

Petty, Rubin and Campbell rejoined Ferrone at Sound City for more work on the Wildflowers project, as Petty seemed to have an endless parade of new compositions that rivaled his previous work.  The trio realized this was a rare intersection of both quantity and quality, so they pushed the project to be a tentative double album.  That fall and into Spring 1994, a second disc’s worth of top-tier material was recorded: “Climb That Hill”, “Honey Bee”, “Cabin Down Below”, “Crawling Back To You”, “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, “Girl on LSD”, “Don’t Fade On Me”, “Hope You Never”, “Confusion Wheel”, “Wake Up Time”, “You Wreck Me” and “California”.   By the summer of 1994, a total of twenty-five songs were compiled as a rough master for the final album and played for WB Records head Lenny Waronker; even though admitting the quality was high throughout the entire double-album, the material was almost too overwhelming and Waronker suggested to trim the album down to a single disc.  

While Petty and Rubin had their sights on the artistic statement of a career-defining double-album, Petty regardless acquiesced as he was personally concerned about the price of a 2CD album for the average fan.  After several months of reworking the 25-song tracklist, the pair had dropped ten songs to make a 15-track single disc. After over two years of production, Wildflowers was released in November 1994 to massive critical and commercial success, spawning a number of hits including “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, “You Wreck Me” and “It’s Good To Be King”.  Throughout Petty’s later career, he and the rest of The Heartbreakers maintained Wildflowers was their best work.  

But Petty never forgot the ten songs dropped from Wildflowers and following it’s release, planned to use them as the core of a follow-up album.  Simultaneously, director Edward Burns approached Petty to record the soundtrack to his film She’s The One.  The two projects somehow merged into one, and four of the Wildflowers outtakes were remixed or rerecorded (“Climb That Hill”, “California”, “Hope You Never” and “Hung Up and Overdue”) along with several new compositions and covers.  The resultant soundtrack album released in August 1996, seemed strangely hodge-podge—because it was!—and failed to live up to Wildflowers’ legacy.  Aside from She’s The One, other Wildflowers cast-offs emerged in the 90s: “Girl on LSD” was released as a b-side to “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and “Leave Virginia Alone” was given to Rod Stewart, who recorded a version for his 1995 album A Spanner In The Works.  But the remaining four unheard songs were a complete mystery to Tom Petty fans, and there was endless speculation of what the original 25-track Wildflowers sounded like... and if they’d ever be able to hear it! 

Luckily, Tom Petty wanted his fans to hear the remaining songs, albeit in a proper context.  While diving through his massive vaults in 2014, Petty rediscovered the Wildflowers outtakes, and prepared a follow-up disc meant as a supplement to the original album.  Petty was treading carefully between not wanting this new disc as simply a bonus disc of outtakes, and releasing it anachronistically as it’s own album.  Additionally, the collection, which he called Wildflowers II, was not simply the specific ten songs scrapped from the 25-track Wildflowers album; it was a wholly new configuration of Wildflowers outtakes (although it did contain seven of the original ten), it’s own entity.  Not knowing exactly how to present Wildflowers II to the public, Petty put the project on the back-burner to focus on touring to support his latest album, Hypnotic Eye.  Unfortunately, Petty was never able to see the Wildflowers II album released, as he passed away in October 2017.  

The dream did not die with Petty, though.  The posthumous 2018 box set An American Treasure featured the Wildflowers outtake “Lonesome Dave.”  Finally, Wildflowers II was released in 2020 as the second disc of Wildflowers & All The Rest, which also included a disc of Tom’s demos for the album and a fourth disc of even more outtakes, Finding Wildflowers.  The final, twenty-fifth of the original Wildflowers songs, “Thirteen Days”, was released on Angel Dream in 2021, a modern reimaginging of the She’s The One soundtrack.  With all twenty-five of the original songs meant to be on the double-album version of Wildflowers, we can now reassemble what Petty & Rubin originally intended in 1994...  Or can we?

While we know which particular twenty-five songs were to be on the Wildflowers double-album (thanks to surviving songlists), no one knows the actual track order as no records or notes were ever located.  Petty’s daughter Adria recalled listening to a long-lost gold CD-R of the rough master throughout her childhood, but could only specifically remember that “Girl on LSD” was tagged onto the end.   Because of this, we have no possible way to know how Petty, an artist who took extensive care in sequencing his albums, would have sequenced it.  Thus, this construction of the twenty-five songs will be my own invention, using my own musical instincts and choices.   

General methodology would to be find similar-sounding “sister songs” and evenly distribute them onto different discs (mid-tempo singles like “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and “It’s Good To Be King”; up-tempo singles like “You Wreck Me” and “A Higher Place”; hard rockers like “Honey Bee” and “Climb That Hill”; retro rockers like “Cabin Down Below” and “Lonesome Dave”; epics like “Hung Up and Overdue” and "Wake Up Time"; somber acoustic ballads like “Don’t Fade On Me” and “Confusion Wheel”, etc).  While I often sequenced contrasting songs next to each-other, I also put care into creating a rough narrative with the songs that follows the destruction of Petty’s marriage on Disc One and both the hopeful possibility of reconciliation and subsequent acceptance of it’s demise on Disc Two.  Interestingly enough, I chose the heretical move off the bat, moving “Wildflowers” to the middle of Disc One rather than as an opening track; I felt that “You Don’t Know How It Feels” functioned as a better opener, with Petty literally addressing the listener, through your sound system, that the following double-album is about love and loss.  Appropriately, Disc One ends with “Hung Up and Overdue” and Disc Two ends with “Wake Up Time”, followed by “Girl on LSD” after ten seconds of silence, as Petty had sequenced it.  

As a bonus, I have created a reimagined album I call Ghosts On The Highway, which presumes that The Heartbreakers recorded and released a full album of new material instead of the Greatest Hits album.  Using only the August 1992 and July 1993 sessions with Stan Lynch, it is effectively The Heartbreakers version of Wildflowers.  That disc opens obviously with “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, taken from The Best of Everything, followed by the haunting “You Saw Me Comin’” and the amazing Heartbreakers take of “Honey Bee” from Finding Wildflowers.  Even though there was some overlap from the reconstruction proper, this album didn’t seem to be complete without “Something Could Happen” from All The Rest, “Thirteen Days” from Angel Dream and “Lonesome Dave” from An American Treasure.  “Something in The Air” begins side B, remastered from Greatest Hits to match the rest of the songs.  “House in the Woods”, “Crawling Back To You”, “Cabin Down Below” and “Wake Up Time” all follow from Finding Wildflowers, with the album concluding with a blast of punk rock energy from “Come On Down To My House” from Nobody’s Children.  

Sources Used:
An American Treasure (2018)
Angel Dream (2021)
The Best of Everything (2019)
Finding Wildflowers (2021)
Greatest Hits (1993)
Nobody’s Children (2015)
Wildflowers & All The Rest (2020)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - It Comes To You in a Plain Brown Wrapper (UPGRADE)


Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band – 

It Comes To You In a Plain Brown Wrapper

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)


Disc 1 – Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
Side A:
1. Safe as Milk
2. Big Black Baby Shoes
3. Moody Liz
4. Trust Us

Side B:
5. On Tomorrow
6. Dirty Blue Gene
7. Beatle Bones n’ Smokin’ Stones
8. Gimme Dat Harp Boy
9. Kandy Korn

Disc 2 – The Twenty-Fifth Century Quakers
Side A:
1. Mirror Man
2. 25th Century Quakers

Side B:
3. Korn Ring Finger
4. Tarotplane

Happy May Day! To celebrate, here’s a long-overdue upgrade to one of my favorite albums that never were. This is a reconstruction of the unreleased 1968 double-album It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Originally scrapped with half of the material re-recorded and infamously “psychedelicized” for the album Strictly Personal with the other half released as 1972’s Mirror Man, this reconstruction attempts to cull all the originally intended material for the double album that was supposed to be their sophomore release, more successfully bridging the gap between 1967’s Safe As Milk and 1969’s Trout Mask Replica. This upgraded version attempts to follow drummer John “Drumbo” French’s recollections of what Captain Beefheart actually intended with the album, organizing the composed material on Disc One and the improvised material on Disc Two. I have created unique edits of the improvised material in order to fit on a theoretical vinyl record, and have edited the composed songs in Disc One as per French’s notes on how they should have ended. Additionally, I have synced the isolated vocal from the Strictly Personal version of “On Tomorrow” with the instrumental Plain Brown Wrapper version, creating a 'finished' recording.

After a prominent rise of notoriety upon the release of Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band’s psychedelic-blues debut Safe As Milk in 1967, the group stood at a crossroads of how to proceed: continue being a cutting edge cult act or expanding their horizons? After a disastrous warm-up performance for their scheduled 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, it seemed that breakthrough success would elude the riotous bunch. To make matters worse, Don Van Vliet’s band had been damaged by lineup changes due to members who had had enough of The Captain’s drug hallucinations, erratic behavior and alleged emotional abuse. Prodigal guitarist Ry Cooder vacated to be replaced briefly by Gerry McGee, who was in turn replaced by Jeff Cotton.

Despite the troubled waters, Vliet reunited with a Magic Band that consisted of Cotton, Alex St. Clair Snouffer, Jerry Handley and John French in the November of 1967 to record their follow-up to Safe As Milk at TTG Studios in Los Angels. The band had spent months writing and rehearsing new material, which they tackled in the studio: “Safe as Milk”, “Trust Us”, “On Tomorrow”, “Beatle Bones n’ Smokin’ Stones”, “Gimme Dat Harp Boy”, “Kandy Korn”, “Big Black Baby Shoes”, “Flower Pot”, “Dirty Blue Gene” and “Moody Liz”. The new material was more intricate and abstract as compared to the Blues-based Safe as Milk, yet often retaining a melodic sensibility for the possibility of mainstream airplay; “Trust Us” was specifically earmarked for the lead single for the new record.

But expectations were even higher than this impressive collection of songs, as Vliet intended their sophomore album to be a conceptual double-record: The first disc would contain the aforementioned “composed” works, and be credited to Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band; a second disc of improvisational jams would constitute the second disc, credited to their alter-egos the Twenty-Fifth Century Quakers, who were essentially “opening” for Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band. The album was to be called It Comes To You In A Plain Brown Wrapper, in reference to an ambiguous parcel containing either narcotics, drug paraphernalia or possibly pornography. The cover art was to feature exactly that as well, a plain brown wrapper marked ‘strictly personal’, with both records addressed from one band to the other. There was even a photo shoot with the band dressed as Quakers!

Producer Robert Krasnow ran tape as the Captain and His Magic Band soldered through a number of live improvisations-- “Taroplane”, “25th Century Quaker”, “Mirror Man” and “Korn Ring Finger” – which Drumbo French thought were disorganized due to Vliet being unable to conduct the unprepared band properly, as he was contained in a vocal booth. After tracking more than a double album’s worth of material in total, the sessions were paused for a European tour, leaving only six of the ten composed songs with vocals. The band never returned to the TTG Session recordings, forever leaving these tracks unfinished. No reason was ever given for the session’s halt, but it has been suggested that their label Buddha Records had pulled the plug out of disinterest. Interestingly enough, due to Buddha Records misfiling of the band’s contract, Captain Beefheart and company were free to sign to a different label by the Spring of 1968. The very next day, Krasnow and the band entered Sunset Sound Studios to rerecord a single-LP version of the album on Krasnow’s own Blue Thump label.

Recorded in April and May of 1968, Don & his crew recut the more ”commercial” tracks from the November 1967 sessions at a much more abbreviated length: “Safe as Milk”, “Trust Us”, “Mirror Man” (cut from the original 15 minutes down to 5!), “On Tomorrow”, “Beatle Bones ‘n; Smokin’ Stones, “Gimme Dat Harp Boy” and “Kandy Korn”, as well as a new improvisation called "Ah Feel Like Ahcid." In a move that angered Beefheart fans for ages, Krasnow allegedly took the liberty himself to overdub numerous faux-psychedelic effects onto the newly-recorded album, even completely burying the mixes under unlistenable phasing. The resulting released album—Strictly Personal—was a commercial disaster and The Captain disowned the album, claiming the effects were added without his permission. Some speculate that was untrue and Vliet had given his approval only to later turn on the album after its failure. Either way, this folly of questionable truth is just simply a part of the Captain Beefheart mythos-- as was everything else!

After the critical success of the seminal experimental and Frank Zappa-produced rock album Trout Mask Replica (not to mention its respectable follow-up Lick My Decals Off Baby), Buddha Records wished to capitalize on Captain Beefheart’s renewed cult status and artistic credibility. Going back to the original November 1967 Plain Brown Wrapper tapes, they compiled a single-disc of material, primarily focusing on the extended live improvisations. 1971’s Mirror Man included “Tarotplane”, “Kandy Korn”, “25th Century Quaker” and “Mirror Man” and showed the world (or at least the few who were listening) what Strictly Personal was supposed to sound like, to some extent. But wasn't without its own short comings: not only was it merely half of the original Plain Brown Wrapper album, but it featured anachronistic cover art, improper musician credits and Buddha falsely claimed the album was recorded in one night in 1965!

Beyond the Mirror Man LP, the TTG Sessions remained unheard, although “Big Black Baby Shoes” was rerecorded as “Ice Rose” for 1978’s Shiny Beast and “Dirty Blue Gene” was rerecorded for Doc At The Radar Station in 1980. Years passed before fans were able to piece together the actual Plain Brown Wrapper album, beginning with questionably-legal British import I May Be Hungry But I Ain’t Weird in 1992. Suffering from the same fate as other early Captain Beefheart CD reissues of poor mastering and use of inferior mastertapes, it wasn’t until 1999 when Buddha Records released The Mirror Man Sessions, essentially a properly-mastered Mirror Man with five outtakes from the Plain Brown Wrapper sessions included as bonus tracks; seven more TTG outtakes were included as bonus tracks on the 1999 remaster of Safe As Milk. Finally, Sundazed Records collected all the non-Mirror Man outtakes and one more additional track in their own vinyl-only 2008 reconstruction of It Comes To You in a Plain Brown Wrapper (which made no attempt to literally reconstruct the lost album).

While all the pieces are now available to recreate It Comes to You in a Plain Brown Wrapper, we still have the task to wrap it all up as one. While my previous reconstruction featured a mix of the composed and improvised selections evenly spread across the four theoretical LP sides, here we will follow what drummer John French has said he believed the album would have been structured, according to conversations he’d had with The Captain himself! This will include making my own unique edits of the four improvisational pieces (“Mirror Man”, “25th Century Quaker”, “Korn Ring Finger” and “Tarotplane”) so that they will fit on a 40-minute vinyl record. The remaining songs will be sequenced as French suggested (beginning with “Safe as Milk" and ending with “Kandy Korn”), using the songs’ officially-released versions as a template of when the tracks should end (as most of the TTG Sessions simply did not have proper endings), as well as French’s own comments about when songs should have ended. Finally, Side B will be structured to emulate the Side B of Strictly Personal, just for fun!

For the Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band disc, side A begins with Take 5 of “Safe as Milk”, a bonus track found on the 1999 Safe as Milk reissue, faded out just before the 4-minute mark; French had said he believed Vliet wanted to begin the album with “Safe as Milk”, to make a sort of continuity from the previous album. Following is “Big Black Baby Shoes” from the 1999 Safe as Milk reissue, edited to match the Shiny Beast rerecording. Next is “Moody Liz” from The Mirror Man Sessions, with the side closing with Take 9 of “Trust Us” from the Safe as Milk reissue, but faded out after the drum crescendo, as suggested by French. Side B attempts to replicate a non-psychedelicized Strictly Personal, as it opens with “On Tomorrow” but with the isolated vocals from the Strictly Personal recording synced to the TTG version from the Safe as Milk remaster. Next is “Dirty Blue Gene” again from the Safe as Milk reissue, followed by “Beatle Bones ‘n’ Smokin’ Stones”, “Gimme Dat Harp Boy” and “Kandy Korn”, all taken from The Mirror Man Sessions.

For the Twenty-Fifth Century Quaker disc, Side C begins with “Mirror Man” from The Mirror Man Sessions, edited down from 15:46 to an even 13:00. This is followed by “25th Century Quaker” also from The Mirror Man Sessions, edited down from 9:50 to 7:36. Side D opens with the hypnotic “Korn Ring Finger”, presented in it’s full 6:47 length as heard on the Safe as Milk remaster. The album closes with the epic “Tarotplane” from The Mirror Man Sessions, edited down from 19:08 to a reasonable 14:04.

Sources used:
The Mirror Man Sessions (1999 Buddha Records CD remaster)
Safe as Milk (1999 Buddha Records CD remaster)
Strictly Personal (1994 Liberty Records CD remaster)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included

Monday, March 8, 2021

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Human Highway (UPGRADE)

 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Human Highway
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)


Disc 1 – Human Highway (1974 configuration)

Side A:
1. See The Changes
2. Prison Song
3. Through My Sails
4. Homeward Through The Haze
5. New Mama
6. Myth of Sisyphus

Side B:
7. First Things First
8. Human Highway
9. And So It Goes
10. Pushed It Over The End
11. As I Come Of Age

Disc 2 – Human Highway (1976 configuration)

Side A:

1. Carry Me
2. Black Coral
3. Ocean Girl
4. Time After Time
5. Human Highway
6. To The Last Whale…

Side B:

7. Traces
8. Fieldworker
9. Midnight On The Bay
10. Taken At All
11. Long May You Run
12. Guardian Angel

Is this pandemic done yet?? To lead us down that highway, here is a long-overdue upgrade to one of my earliest reconstructions: the three-times aborted Human Highway album by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Abandoned after originally attempted in 1973, again in 1974 and finally in 1976 during the Stills-Young sessions for Long May You Run, this two-disc reconstruction presents what Human Highway could have sounded after the earlier 1973 and 1974 sessions (on disc one) and the later 1976 session (on disc two). Additionally, this reconstruction features isolated CSNY vocals synced up to the solo album versions, thus creating a full CSNY version of a given song. As always, the best sources were used and volume-adjusted for continuity.

1970 spelled the end of supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, who had been unofficially dubbed the American Beatles. Succumbing to the egos of four prominent singer-songwriters in their own right, the quartet disbanded to allow all four members time with their own (ultimately successful) projects. But the amazing four-part harmonies—and the legacy itself—of CSNY begged for a reunion, and that is exactly what was intended in 1973. Regrouping at Neil Young’s Broken Arrow ranch/studio in June, the quartet optimistically worked on new material. A handful of songs were recorded, including Neil Young’s “Human Highway”, Stephen Stills’ “See The Changes” and Graham Nash’s “Prison Song” & “And So It Goes.” The album was to be titled Human Highway after Young’s flagship contribution and Nash even organized a band photo-op as the intended album cover. Progress halted as the four members once again splintered apart, leaving Neil free to record an album’s worth of material in August and September with The Santa Monica Flyers—a eulogy to his fallen comrades Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry which was eventually released as Tonight’s The Night in 1975.

All hope was not lost, as CSNY reconvened in early October 1973 for a pair of shows at the Winterland Arena, where a number of Human Highway songs were debuted for a hungry audience: as well as “Human Highway”, “Prison Song” and “And So It Goes”, Stills’ added his “As I Come of Age” (an older song Stills was saving for CSNY) and Neil offered a pair of songs from his recent recording sessions, “New Mama” and “Roll Another Number (For The Road).” Regardless, a full-blown reunion failed to materialize and Nash recorded “Prison Song” and “And So It Goes” for his own solo album, Wild Tales. Although the songs ironically featured David Crosby on vocals and Young on piano, Wild Tales was released with unimpressive success in January 1974.

The end of 1973 saw Neil back in the studio again with The Santa Monica Flyers, recording even more new material (which would eventually surface on On The Beach), with further sessions in April. But the music industry's cries for a reunion must have drifted into their ears, as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young planned a summer/fall tour that showed the band in a harmonious and energetic shape. Again rehearsing at Young’s Broken Arrow ranch—almost a year after the project began—a handful of new songs were recorded, including Neil’s “Through My Sails.” The Human Highway was once again traveled, as the “Doom Tour” began in March 1974. The three-to-four hour concerts allowed the quartet to showcase a vast number of new songs that were theoretically in consideration for the in-progress Human Highway album: Crosby’s “Time After Time” and “Carry Me”; Stills’ “First Things First”, “Myth of Sisyphus”, “My Angel”, “As I Come Of Age” and “My Favorite Changes”; Nash’s “Fieldworker”, as well as “Prison Song” and “Another Sleep Song” (although they had already been released two months earlier, making it doubtful that they would still be in consideration for Human Highway); This being Neil Young’s most prolific period, Neil Young offered a long list of material: “Traces”, “Pushed It Over The End”, “Long May You Run”, “Hawaiian Sunrise”, “Love/Art Blues”, “Human Highway”, “Homefires”, “Star of Bethlehem”, “The Old Homestead” and “Pardon My Heart.” Additionally, they performed a number of the songs he had recently tracked with The Santa Monica Flyers, some destined to be released on On The Beach that July: “Revolution Blues”, “Ambulance Blues”, “Walk On”, “On The Beach”, “For The Turnstiles”, “Mellow My Mind” and “Roll Another Number (For The Road)”.

After a quick winter break, CSNY again assembled into the studio in December to finally complete the long-awaited Human Highway album. But after only recording a handful of tracks (including Crosby’s contribution “Homeward Through The Haze” and overdubbing group vocals onto the live Chicago Stadium "Doom Tour" recording of “Pushed It Over The End”), the quartet again fractured into chaos. Graham Nash refused to sing a note creating a minor over a major chord in Stephen Stills’ “Guardian Angel”; although it seemed a minuscule disagreement, it escalated into a heated argument, resulting in Stills literally destroying the mastertapes to Nash’s “Wind On The Water”! Neil had had enough of the bad vibes and inflated egos and simply stopped showing up. Once again, the Human Highway was closed.

The fate of this first batch of songs was obvious to each of the members: why save our best songs for CSNY, if we can’t even stay together to record and release them? First was Neil Young, who immediately began recording the Homegrown album over the new year—Young’s epitaph for his dying relationship with wife Carrie Snodgress. Instead of releasing it in 1975, he chose the rawer and more exciting Tonight’s The Night, leaving Homegrown in the vault for 45 years. Meanwhile, Stills assembled an album of songs recorded over the last several years, including a number of Human Highway castoffs (some even featuring Crosby & Nash’s vocals!), released as the album Stills in June and garnering commercial success. Not to be denied, Neil recorded his legendary Zuma album with a reformed Crazy Horse that summer and released that November, featuring the CSNY version of “Through My Sails.” But Stills and Young were not the only ones having fun: Crosby & Nash joined forces in the Spring of 1975 to record their second album as a duo, which also contained Human Highway songs sprinkled throughout. The resulting Wind On The Water was released in September to massive commercial success.

After a successful year for the individual members of CSNY, 1976 brought a new hope for the Human Highway project out of sheer fate. Attempting to repeat the success of Wind On The Water, Crosby & Nash returned to the studio in Los Angeles that February to record the follow-up. Simultaneously, Stills and Young had joined forces in Miami to record the Buffalo Springfield album that never was, as The Stills-Young band, intending to top it with a North American tour later in 1976. But that April, Young knocked on Nash’s door to play him mixes of the album he was working on with Stills; although Graham was completely blown away, Neil insisted that something was still missing. On a whim, Young invited Crosby & Nash to join Stills & Young in the studio to add their vocals to the songs recorded thus far. After Crosby & Nash arrived in the studio and swiftly added vocal layers to Stills’ “Black Coral” and Young’s “Ocean Girl”, “Midnight On The Bay” and “Long May You Run”, it became obvious to the quartet that they were inadvertently making a reborn version of Human Highway.

The next day, the rejuvenated band recorded Crosby & Nash’s “Taken At All” and a brand new version of the now-legendary title-track, “Human Highway.” Although it seemed everything was on track to finally completing the album, the group’s famed egos once again returned. After Crosby & Nash notified Stills & Young that they were scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles to finish their album, Stills was dismayed: not only was the album half-finished, but he had assumed the pair would join Stills & Young for their tour in June. Crosby & Nash stood firm and opted to return to Los Angeles to finish their album, instead of beginning rehearsals for the Stills-Young Band tour scheduled to begin in two months. Realizing that without the pair to promote it, this album could never truly be CSNY, and Stills retaliated by erasing the pair’s vocal tracks from the Stills-Young songs!

Both pairs eventually finished their respective albums; Crosby & Nash released Whistling Down The Wire in June and The Stills-Young Band released Long May You Run in September. In a strange turn of events, Neil Young abruptly left the tour after one month, only leaving a note for Stills telling him to “eat a peach.” Stills soldiered on alone for a few dates of the tour, before admitting defeat and canceling the remaining dates. Over numerous miles, the Human Highway was finally closed, with only a handful of original recordings surfacing, aside from solo versions of tracks earmarked for the project. Despite this, are we able to fix the pavement of Human Highway?

Since there is such a wide breadth of material to choose from—spread over four years and three recording sessions—this reconstruction will be presented as a two disc set: the first disc assumes that CSNY did finish Human Highway after their 1974 tour and attempts to present a finished album culled from tracks recorded in 1973 & 1974. Likewise, the second disc assumes CSNY was able to finish Human Highway during the Long May You Run sessions and attempts to present an alternate finished Human Highway album culled from tracks recorded in 1975 & 1976. This is convenient as the 1973-74 recordings have the typical dryer, early 70s sound, while the 1975-76 recordings have the typical slicker, late 70s sound (read: Yacht Rock).  A mix-match of the two groups creates a very jarring listen, but separating them into two distinct versions of Human Highway creates a more cohesive listening experience. Both discs are considered independent of each other, although there is very little overlap.

For my reconstruction, we will try to follow three rules:
1) Although we will be gathering recordings from a plethora of sources (most often solo recordings of the individual members) we will only use the songs that were actually ear-marked for Human Highway by either being recorded by CSNY during the sessions or performed on the 1974 Doom Tour.
2) We will try, whenever possible, to include as many members of CSNY on every song as possible. In some instances, we will used isolated vocals from other sources synced up with the common studio version to create a more complete CSNY recording.
3) We will attempt to follow the pattern established by the other CSN & CSNY albums by distributing equal representation for each songwriter, alternating so no songwriter has two songs in a row. This is mostly successful, except for the obvious lack of Crosby on the 1974 Human Highway and the abundance of Young on the 1976 Human Highway. And so it goes.

My reconstruction begins much like the previous albums CSN and Deja Vu: with an uptempo, acousticy, Stills-led song--”See The Changes”, taken from the CSN box set and features all four of the members. Also, like the two previous albums, the second song is a poppy, Nash-led song: “Prison Song”, also taken from the CSN box but with the isolated vocals from the live CSNY 1974 version synced up, thus creating a version with all four of the members singing. “Through My Sails” follows, taken from Zuma and featuring all four members. Next is “Homeward Through The Haze”, again from the CSN boxset, also featuring all four members. Following is Stills’ full-band recording of “New Mama” taken from Stills, but with the isolated vocals from theacoustic Tonight’s The Night version synced up, thus having Stills and Young singing together (as well as Ben Keith, Ralph Molina, George Whitsell, Donnie Darcus and Rick Roberts, all convincingly filling in for Crosby and Nash in my opinion). Side A closes with “Myth of Sisyphus” from Stills, which doesn’t feature Crosby, Nash or Young at all, but seems to fit on the album nonetheless; perhaps the backing vocals can be imagined as them?

Side B begins with the uptempo “First Things First”, taken from Stills but with the missing drum intro from Reply restored; although Neil is missed, this at least features CS&N. The 1973 version of “Human Highway” follows, taken from Archives Volume II and featuring all four members. Nash’s “And So It Goes” is what goes next, taken from Wild Tales and featuring Crosby and Young. The legendary “Pushed It Over The End” follows, taken from Archives Volume II and featuring all four members. The album closes with “As I Come of Age” from Stills, featuring CS&N.

As aforementioned, our second disc assumes Human Highway was instead finished in 1976 and includes elements of Long May You Run, Wind On The Water and Whistling Down The Wire. It opens with the majestic “Carry Me” from the CSN box, followed by the CSNY mix of “Black Coral” from Stills’ Carry On box set. Another CSNY mix follows, “Ocean Girl” from Archives Volume II. Next is “Time After Time” from Whistling Down The Wire, but with the isolated vocals from the live CSNY 1974 version synced up, thus creating a full-band version of the song. The serendipitous 1976 version of Human Highway” from Archives Volume II follows, with Side A closing with “To The Last Whale...” from the CSN box set, as the song was at least attempted in the December 1974 sessions.

Side B begins with “Traces” from Archives Volume II but with the isolated vocals from the CSNY 1974 live version synced up, creating a full-band version. Next is the cutting edge of “Fieldworker” from Wind On The Water, then the CSNY mix of “Midnight On The Bay” from Archives Volume II. The CSNY version of “Taken At All” from the CSN box set follows, crossfaded into the CSNY mix of “Long May You Run” from Decade. The album closes with the epic “Guardian Angel” from Long May You Run, as the song was at least attempted in the December 1974 sessions..

Special thanks to Mark Heggen for the artwork remastering!

Sources used:
Crosby & Nash – Whistling Down The Wire (2000 remaster)
Crosby & Nash – Wind On The Water (2000 remaster)
Crosby, Stills & Nash – CSN (1991 box set)
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Replay (original CD remaster)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – CSNY 1974 (2014 box set)
Graham Nash – Wild Tales (2005 remaster)
Neil Young – Archives Volume II (2021 box set)
Neil Young – Decade (original CD remaster)
Neil Young – Long May You Run (Original Release Series: Disc 8.5, 2017)
Neil Young – Tonight’s The Night (Original Release Series: Disc 7, 2017)
Neil Young – Zuma (Original Release Series: Disc 8, 2017)
Stephen Stills – Carry On (2013 box set)
Stephen Stills – Stills (2007 remaster)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Prince and The Revolution - Dream Factory (UPGRADE)

 Prince and The Revolution – Dream Factory

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)
January 2021 UPGRADE

Discs 1 & 2 – Dream Factory
Side A:
1.  Visions
2.  Dream Factory
3.  Train
4.  The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
5.  It

Side B:
6.  Strange Relationship
7.  Slow Love
8.  Starfish and Coffee
9.  Colors
10.  I Could Never take The Place of Your Man

Side C:
1.  Sign O’ The Times
2.  Crystal Ball
3.  A Place In Heaven

Side D:
4.  Last Heart
5.  Witness 4 The Prosecution
6.  Movie Star
7.  The Cross
8.  All My Dreams

Disc 3 – Camille
Side A:
1.  Rebirth of The Flesh
2.  Housequake
3.  Strange Relationship
4.  Feel U Up

Side B:
5.  Shockadelica
6.  Goodlove
7.  If I Was Your Girlfriend
8.  Rockhard in a Funky Place

Disc 4 – Dream Factory (April Configuration)
Side A:
1.  Visions
2.  Dream Factory
3.  Wonderful Day
4.  The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
5.  Big Tall Wall
6.  And That Says What?

Side B:
7.  Strange Relationship
8.  Teacher, Teacher
9.  Starfish and Coffee
10.  A Place In Heaven
11.  Sexual Suicide

Let’s start 2021 out right, with an upgrade to Prince and The Revolution’s unreleased final album, Dream Factory, which eventually evolved into Sign O’ The Times.  Originally conceived as a double album with a significant amount of creative input from the band (at least compared to previous Prince releases), the album was scrapped after Prince broke up The Revolution in 1986.  Prince then turned his attention to a solo concept album Camille, which was also scrapped and combined with the Dream Factory material to create the unreleased triple album Crystal Ball.  Warner Bros Records then asked Prince to whittle the 3LP down, and the result was the double album Sign o' The Times, which many consider to be Prince’s masterpiece.  This reconstruction attempts to present what Prince originally intended the Dream Factory album to sound like, volume-adjusted and using the best possible masters, mostly sourced from the recent Sign O’ The Times Deluxe Box, a significant soundquality upgrade from bootlegs.  I am also including two bonus discs: a reconstruction of Prince’s unreleased album Camille and a reconstruction of the early, single-disc master of Dream Factory.  

Prince was truly the reigning star of the 1980s. Armed with both worldwide smash hits, musical chops and the artistic credibility to back it up, Prince also had the vision and determination to prove himself a modern music legend… But let's not forget he also had the band to back it up. Even though Prince was a great songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist who had the ability to mastermind his own works and retain both commercial and critical success, his output throughout the 1980s grew to allow more collaboration from his backing band he formed in 1979. The lineup of The Revolution seemed to be in flux at times, but after the transcendent success of Purple Rain in 1984 and their subsequent albums Around The World in a Day and Parade, the classic core of the band coalesced as guitarist Wendy Melvoin, keyboardist Lisa Coleman, keyboardist Matt Fink, bassist Brown Mark and drummer Bobby Z. In working on the follow-up to Parade before it was even released, Prince invited members of The Revolution—although mostly Melvoin and Coleman—to contribute backing vocals, songwriting, instrumentation and even lead vocals to the material. Reworking older songs as a starting point—the 1982 recordings of “Teacher, Teacher”, “Strange Relationship” and “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”—as well as the project's title track in December 1985, most of the work occurred in Prince’s newly built home studio on Galpin Boulevard.  By late April 1986, Prince had created a rough cut of an album called Dream Factory that elevated both Wendy and Lisa as major players (although they later claimed they didn’t receive the credit they thought they deserved!). At this point in time, Dream Factory was a single-disc album that included: “Visions”, “Dream Factory”, “It’s a Wonderful Day”, “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”, “Big Tall Wall”, “And That Says What?” “Strange Relationship”, “Teacher, Teacher”, “Starfish and Coffee”, “A Place in Heaven” and “Sexual Suicide”.  [A reconstruction of this early configuration is presented as Disc 4]

Work on the album continued throughout the summer with Prince often tracking all the instruments himself, although he also continued to work with Windy and Lisa in the studio. A mountain of tracks began to collect and by June a double album had emerged.  Although songs such as “Big Tall Wall” and “And That Says What?” fell to the wayside, great and interesting new tracks such as “It”, “In A Large Room With No Light”, “Crystal Ball”, “Power Fantastic”, “Last Heart”, “Witness 4 The Prosecution”, “Movie Star” and “All My Dreams” were added to the running order as well as linking tracks “Colors” and “Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A”, the later based around “A Place In Heaven” played backwards and meant to introduce the title track.  Now a double-album, this sequence of Dream Factory went through further refinement over the month when more work was done to the songs. By July, Prince had dropped “Teacher, Teacher”, “In a Large Room With No Light”, “Sexual Suicide” and “Power Fantastic” and replaced them with newly completed tracks “Train”, “Slow Love”, “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”, “Sign o' The Times” and “The Cross”. A master was prepared on July 18th and Prince concentrated on the Hit n Run Tour, which would signal the closing of the Dream Factory.

For the summer’s Parade/Hit n Run Tour, The Revolution was expanded to include former members of The Time as well as The Family—jokingly dubbed The Counter-Revolution. This would include a full horn section, Melvoin’s twin sister Susannah (who was romantically involved with Prince) and a set of former-bodyguards-turned-dancers.  This created a strain in the relationship between Prince and his band members, who were questioning Prince’s artistic direction—why did the band nearly double in size? Why are on-stage dancers getting more attention than the musicians proper? Wendy was especially annoyed at the addition of her sister as an official member of the band and most of the core members of The Revolution attempted to quit, only for Prince to convince Wendy, Lisa and Mark to stay until at least the remainder of the tour in October.

As fate would have it, the growing animosity between Prince and his Revolution was at least reciprocated.  At the end of the tour, Prince called in Wendy and Lisa to Paisley Park and fired them; Bobby Z was replaced by Sheila E; allegedly out of loyalty to the rest of his band members, Mark quit.  With The Revolution over, the collaborative Dream Factory was shelved and Prince went back to his roots—being the sole maestro. Prince promptly began work on a concept album called Camille, in which a vocally-manipulated Prince would perform as the character Camille. Intending to fool the public, the album was never to be credited directly as Prince and the cover art was to be blank!  A master to Camille was prepared in October but that album too was scrapped and Prince rethought his strategy. [a reconstruction of the proposed Camille album is presented as Disc 3]

In a bold move, Prince combined the best of both the scrapped Dream Factory and Camille albums into one triple-album entitled Crystal Ball (not to be confused with the 1998 rarities boxset of the same name).  With The Revolution no longer existing, Prince generally mixed-out Wendy and Lisa’s contributions from the Dream Factory tracks destined for Crystal Ball: “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker”, “It”, “Starfish and Coffee”, “Slow Love”, “Crystal Ball”, “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”, "The Cross" and “Sign O' The Times”.

In a final turn of events that makes the Dream Factory mythos even more complex, this 3-LP Crystal Ball album was ultimately rejected by Warner Brothers Records, and in December Prince was tasked to pair the album down to at least a more marketable double album. After adding a more commercial single “U Got The Look”, the result was retitled Sign O’ the Times and released as a Prince solo album in 1987. Although not quite hitting the commercial peak that Purple Rain had three years earlier, Sign O’ The Times was universally critically acclaimed and recent revaluations fairly state it as his masterpiece. But to be fair, the album was the culmination of three other scrapped albums—Dream Factory, Camille and Crystal Ball—so it’s glory should come as no surprise. But to truly see how Sign o’ the Times was manufactured, we must first see what it’s like in the Dream Factory.

While there were three different masters of Dream Factory prepared throughout the summer of 1986, the main discs of my reconstruction will focus on its final iteration, using those specific mixes and track sequence.  I will primarily be using the exquisite masters found on the Sign O’ The Times Deluxe Edition, often editing the lengths of some tracks to match what was actually featured on Dream Factory.  If the mix of the song is generally very different (as the case for “Crystal Ball” and “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man”), then I’ve used the original mixes from the Work It bootleg, EQd to match the officially released final mixes.  Nearly all tracks are either hard-edited into eachother or crossfaded, making four continuous sides of music, as Prince intended.  Additionally, I have reconstructed the original, unreleased Camille album as a bonus, as well as the April single-disc configuration of Dream Factory, for historical purposes.  I chose not to include reconstructions of the June 2LP configuration of Dream Factory nor the unreleased Crystal Ball 3LP, due to excessive overlap between all of the masters.  

Side A begins with “Visions” taken from the Sign O’ The Times Deluxe Edition, but with the opening piano note taken from Wendy & Lisa’s Eroica, as it was exorcised from the SOTT Deluxe.  Next is “Nevaeh Ni Ecalp A”, taken from the Work It bootleg but EQd to match the mix on the SOTT Delux, hard edited into “Dream Factory” taken from the 1998 compilation Chrystal Ball, but faded out to match the version from Dream Factory.  Next follows “Train”, “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” and “It”, all taken from the SOTT Deluxe.  Side B begins with the original Wendy & Lisa mix of “Strange Relationship” from the SOTT Deluxe, but faded out to match the version from Dream Factory.  Next is “Slow Love”, “Starfish and Coffee” and “Colors” from the SOTT Deluxe, concluding with the original, unreleased mix of “I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man” from Work it, featuring an extra solo section that was otherwise edited out.  

Side C begins with “Sign O’ The Times”, edited to match the length of the version on Dream Factory, hard edited into the original Dream Factory mix of “Crystal Ball”, taken from the Work It bootleg.  The side concludes Lisa’s vocal version of “A Place in Heaven”, from the SOTT Deluxe.  “Last Heart” opens Side D, taken from Crystal Ball but with some slight reverb tail added to the ending horn passage, followed by “Witness 4 The Prosecution” from the SOTT Deluxe.   “Movie Star” is next, vying for the slightly-shorter mix from “Crystal Ball” rather than the commonly bootleged original mix for the sake of soundquality; while the intro has been edited, it is unfortunately missing four bars of bridge that Prince had cut out for the Crystal Ball compilation and we’ll have to live with those missing few seconds.  The album concludes with the double-punch of “The Cross” and “All My Dreams” from the SOTT Deluxe.  The final touch is Susannah Melvion’s actual sketch of the Dream Factory’s cover art, commissioned by Prince himself; here we see Susannah opening a door into the Dream Factory: Prince’s imagination.  

For a purely historical interest, I have included reconstructions of Camille and the single-disc April configuration of Dream Factory as Discs 3 and 4.  Camille begins with “Rebirth of the Flesh” from SOTT Deluxe, but I have re-edited it to match the version originally appearing on Camille.  “Housequake” and the final SOTT mix of “Strange Relationship” follow, with the side ending with “Feel U Up,” the rare 6-minute version found only on the Partyman single.  “Shockadelica” from SOTT  begins Side B, with “Goodlove” from the Bright Lights Big City soundtrack and “If I Was Your Girlfriend” from SOTT but with it’s intro edited out.  Concluding is “Rockhard in a Funky Place” from The Black Album.  

The April Dream Factory features the same edits as the July 2-disc reconstruct on discs 1 & 2, except: “Wonderful Day” is the Lisa & Wendy-heavy 12” mix taken from the SOTT Deluxe, but edited to match the version that would have been on Dream Factory;  “Big Tall Wall” and “And That Says What?” are taken from the SOTT Deluxe and hard edited together; “Teacher, Teacher”, also from the SOTT Deluxe; and “Sexual Suicide” from Crystal Ball.  

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included

Sources used:
Prince – The Black Album (1994)
Prince – Crystal Ball (1998)
Prince – Partman (3” CD single, 1989)
Prince – Sign O’ The Times (Deluxe Edition, 2020)
Prince – Work It – Volumes 2 & 3 (bootleg, 2008 GetBlue Records)
Various Artists – Bright Lights Big City (soundtrack 1998)
Wendy & Lisa – Eroica (1990 Collector’s Edition)

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Bob Dylan - Renaldo & Clara Soundtrack

Bob Dylan – Renaldo and Clara Soundtrack

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

Side A:

1. When I Paint My Masterpiece

2. Isis

3. A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall

4. It Ain’t Me Babe

5. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry

6. Romance in Durango

Side B:

7. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)

8. Sara

9. Never Let Me Go

10. Tangled Up In Blue

11. Just Like a Woman

12. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Happy Year’s Eve-- only 12 hours to go, depending on your time zone! Let’s end this garbage year with the third of a trilogy of famous live albums that never were, in remembrance of the recently deceased concept of live music. This is a reconstruction of the theoretical soundtrack to the unreleased 1978 Bob Dylan film Renaldo & Clara, which contained vignettes and live footage recorded on the first leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975. Sourced primarily from the Rolling Thunder Revue boxset, this reconstruction presents how a single-disc soundtrack to the film could have been presented, featuring solely the live performances of Dylan and his band. All songs have been volume adjusted for cohesiveness, presented in film order and structured as two continuous sides of a musical performance.

Following his 1970’s renaissance—jumpstarted by the critically acclaimed Blood on the Tracks album—Dylan longed for one of the things he never had: a stable backing band. Hanging out in 1975 at New York nightclub/coffeehouse/music venue The Other End, Dylan took note of Patti Smith’s backing band and desired to form one of his own for Blood On The Tracks’ follow-up. Working with playwright Jacques Levy (another patron of The Other End), Dylan had crafted an album’s worth of new material worthy to follow Blood on The Tracks, albeit less personal and decidedly more cinematic. Recruiting bassist Rob Stoner & drummer Howard Wyeth from The Other End and violinist Scarlet Rivera literally on a street corner, Dylan had the core of his band in place. With the addition of budding songstress Emmylou Harris on backing vocals and a series of session musicians to round out the ensemble, recording sessions for the Desire album commenced in July 1975. At first chaotic with too many musicians chiming into Dylan’s newer—and longer—songs, Stoner suggested stripping the band to the aforementioned core; by the end of the month, they had the majority of the album in the can.

But some Dylanologists suggest Desire was a means to an end, with the goal being touring again with a band of his own. That fall, the core of Dylan, Stoner, Wyeth and Rivera were enhanced by guitarists Mick Ronson, T Bone Burnett and Steven Soles, multi-instrumentalist David Mansfield and percussionist Luther Rix. Another The Other End recruit, Ronee Blakley, came aboard to fill Emmylou Harris’s position, who was not able to tour due to her own career and session work. After returning to the studio to record a less libelous version of “Hurricane," the ragtag group hit the road with a pair of Halloween shows at the War Memorial Auditorium in Plymouth, MA. But this was no ordinary rock concert; joining was a star-studded musical cast to create an old-time music revue, including Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Bob Neuwirth, Ramblin Jack Elliott and Joni Mitchell, each getting a slice of the spotlight before Dylan's headline. Even Allen Ginsburg tagged along to open the show with some poetry!

Another guest that tagged along was filmmaker Howard Alk. He was no stranger to filming Dylan on the road, having also been the cameraman behind Don’t Look Back and Eat The Document. This time there was (in theory) an actual script co-written by Dylan and director Sam Shepard, although live footage of the tour would eventually be juxtaposed in the film. But by “script”, we mean more of a conceptual outline, as Dylan and Shepard would more encourage the actors—band members entourage of the Rolling Thunder Revue—to improvise scenes while on tour.

What exactly were these scenes? Many of the tour members themselves did not know, but simply went along with Dylan because, well, he was Dylan! The ringleader himself was cast as the protagonist Renaldo and his soon-to-be ex-wife Sara Dylan, the sad eyed lady of the Lowlands herself, as Clara. Completing a love triangle was The Woman in White, played by Dylan’s former flame Joan Baez. It is generally assumed that the trio and the surrounding characters were somehow acting out the stories of the songs, or at least the underlying emotions of the songs. Additionally, the songs themselves seemed to create a vague narrative for the trio’s love triangle, based on the song order as presented in the final film. Throughout, Dylan wore whiteface makeup, and sometimes a mask; he insisted the meaning of it was in the lyrics of the songs.

If none of this makes any sense, there was at least one amazing constant: the live performances themselves. Dylan daringly stocked his set with Desire tracks, months before the album was even released. The performances were energetic, intense and intimate, ranging from the proto-punk “Isis” to the gentle “Oh Sister.” Likewise, Dylan and his backing band—dubbed Guam—also presented updated versions of Dylan staples such as “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” that made his The Band-backed Before The Flood seem like yacht rock. Furthermore, Dylan was mostly free from guitar duties due to the triple guitar attack of Ronson, Burnett and Soles. Urged on by Patti Smith, Dylan used his new-found bodily freedom to act out the lyrics, flailing his arms and motioning his hands as extensions of his lyrical prowess.

After a Fall and Winter of essentially one of the most powerful stage shows Dylan had presented, this first leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue ended at Madison Square Garden on December 8th, and the band earned a rest. Reconvening in April 1976 for a second leg of the tour, Guam had a slight face lift after the exit of Blakley and Rix, replaced by Donna Weiss and Gary Burke, respectively. Likewise, the setlist received a significant face lift as well, drawing more on amped-up and Desire-ified versions of Dylan’s back catalog. While well-intended, this second leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue was dynamic and it was obvious the concept—and band itself—was losing steam. The tour concluded in May, building to a live performance filmed and recorded for an NBC television special and released that September as the ragged live album Hard Rain, both of which were not well-received.

Doing as he would after his 1966 tour, Dylan retired to his home studio to personally edit the footage shot while on tour to try and make a film out of it himself. What Dylan came up with was Renaldo & Clara, a surreal four-hour film: part live concert, part documentary, part improvised drama... understood only by Dylan himself. With a limited release in January 1978, Renaldo & Clara received unanimous negative praise, resulting in the limited release to end after only two weeks. Later that year, Dylan offered a more concise two-hour edit of the film, exorcising much of the ambiguous dramatic vignettes and focusing on the stellar live performances. This did not save the film, as this edit, too, was critically panned and never saw an official release beyond a few broadcasts and theater showings. It seemed that Renaldo & Clara suffered a same fate as 1967’s Eat The Document: an amazing document of Dylan’s live accomplishments, confusingly edited as an experimental film, critically panned and stuffed in the vault, surviving only on bootleg reels and VHS tapes.

But that wasn’t quite the end of Renaldo & Clara; released in 2002 as The Bootleg Series Volume 5: Bob Dylan Live, The Rolling Thunder Revue, a number of the performances featured in Renaldo & Clara eventually saw the light of day. A much more enthralling document of the tour and righting the wrong of Hard Rain, fans ‘desired’ more footage from the first leg of the tour. In 2019, famed director Martin Scorsese reedited the original footage from 1975 into a completely new documentary, Rolling Thunder: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. Finally, fans were able to see remastered and crystal-clear performances from the legendary first leg of The Rolling Thunder Revue, thanks to Scorsese’s curation. But, in true Dylan form, not all in the documentary was what it appeared to be, as several interviewees and narrative events raised numerous eyebrows. To coincide with the film, Dylan released a 14-disc box set containing all six of the professionally-recorded shows on the 1975 tour, two discs of rehearsals and an additional disc of live rarities from the era. But what about the actual presumptive soundtrack to Renaldo & Clara? Can it be salvaged?

Using mostly the mixes found on the Rolling Thunder box set, we are able to easily create a Renaldo & Clara soundtrack. Since the contents of the actual film are an overwhelming mess and honestly a taxing listen, we will limit this soundtrack album to a single-disc of only the featured Dylan performances—essentially, the only reason anyone would want to watch Renaldo & Clara in the first place! We will also sequence the performances in the order in which they were featured in the film and crossfade the performances to create two continuous performances in each side of the record. The resulting album is essentially the very best of the best of Dylan’s live tours, what I believe would have been actually released in 1978 had the film not been canned. When paired with the rougher document of the 1976 leg of the tour, Hard Rain, you have a pretty great document of this era, as there is no song-overlap between the two albums.

Side A opens with the very first performance from the very first concert of the tour: “When I Paint My Masterpiece” from 10/25/75, taken from the bootleg Plymouth Rock, but EQd to match the sound of the version in Wolfgang’s Vault (presumably sourced from the superior master tape). Next is the fantastic “Isis” from 12/4/75; although featured on Masterpieces and recently on Side Tracks, I chose the new mix found on the Rolling Thunder box for coherency purposes. The electric stomp of “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” also from 12/4/75 and the exquisite “It Ain’t Me Babe” from 11/20/75 follows, with the 11/21/75 “It Takes a Lot To Laugh” afterwards. The side concludes with “Romance in Durango” from 12/4/75; note that although we are using the mix from the Rolling Thunder box, I have edited out the second-to-last verse in which Dylan made a vocal flub, as it was heard in the actual film and originally released on Masterpieces. Side B starts with “One More Cup of Coffee”, “Sara” and “Never Let Me Go”, all from 12/4/75. Dylan’s superbly intimate “Tangled Up in Blue” from 11/21/75 is next, with the album ending with a pair of tracks from 11/20/75, “Just Like a Woman” and “Knockin on Heaven’s Door.” 

Sources used:

Plymouth Rock (bootleg, 1997 Colosseum Records)

The Rolling Thunder Review: The 1975 Recordings (2019 Columbia Records)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Paul McCartney & Wings - One Hand Clapping

 Paul McCartney & Wings – One Hand Clapping
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

Side A:
1. One Hand Clapping
2. Jet
3. Let Me Roll It
4. Junior’s Farm
5. My Love

Side B:
6. Little Woman Love/C Moon
7. Maybe I’m Amazed
8. Band On The Run
9. Wild Life
10. Hi Hi Hi

Side C:
1. Live and Let Die
2. Soily
3. Go Now
4. Blue Moon of Kentucky
5. Bluebird

Side D:
6. Suicide
7. Let’s Love
8. Sitting At The Piano/All Of You
9. I’ll Give You A Ring
10. Baby Face
11. Blackbird
12. Country Dreamer
13. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five

My how time flies! Why is the pandemic not over yet!? Sorry for the delay, but it’s finally here-- the second of a trilogy of famous live albums that never were, in memory of the live music we can’t quite yet experience again. This is a reconstruction of the proposed 1974 live in-the-Abbey Road studio album One Hand Clapping by Paul McCartney & Wings. Originally meant as the studio rehearsals for a 1974 Wings Over Australia tour that never happened, the proceedings were filmed for a possible film release, akin to The Beatles’ Get Back project eight years earlier. Despite the high quality of live studio performances—especially of the then-unreleased “Soily”--McCartney shelved the entire project, as was the fate of a number of other self-financed Wings film projects throughout the 70s and 80s. This reconstruction attempts to replicate what a double-LP release in 1974 could have been like, using the best possible sources, including official releases and painstakingly-remastered bootleg recordings. All tracks have been sequenced in the actual recording order, spread across four sides of a vinyl record.

The arrival of Band on The Run signaled a few changes in Paul McCartney & Wings. Firstly, it was McCartney’s first post-Beatles “masterpiece album”, finally equaling the quality of a typical Beatles album. Miraculously, the album was a product of the trio of Paul, Linda McCartney and Denny Laine, as drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist Henry McCullough quit the band just before the start of the album’s recording sessions. This eventually led to the second major change for Wings: a new line-up. A month before Band On The Run’s December 1973 release, Wings broke in their new guitarist Jimmy McCulloch by recording some of Linda’s songs as Suzy and The Red Stripes, as well as a session for Paul’s brother Michael, as McGear, in February 1974.

Wings finally recruited drummer Geoff Britton and headed to Nashville in July to rehearse for a planned tour of Australia. While they were there, Wings also recorded the single “Junior’s Farm” (one of this author’s favorite Wings songs) as well as a handful of country-tinged tracks under the name The Country Hams. Rehearsals for the theoretical tour continued across the ocean in late August at McCartney’s old stomp: Abbey Road studios! But McCartney thought a little more of these activities than just simply rehearsals, as he employed boy-genius engineer Geoff Emerick to record the session, as well as David Litchfield to film and direct the sessions for a possible documentary film release.

The first day of rehearsals on August 26th produced full-band versions of “Jet”, “Let Me Roll It”, “Junior’s Farm”, “My Love”, “Little Woman Love”/”C Moon”, “Maybe I’m Amazed” and a short instrumental jam which would become the theme song for the project: “One Hand Clapping”. The second day of recording produced takes of “Band On The Run”, “Wild Life”, “Hi Hi Hi”, “Live and Let Die”, “Soily”, “Go Now”, “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and “Bluebird.” Day three of recording saw Paul performing a number of songs alone at the piano, which has posthumously been dubbed “The Cabaret Sequence.” Paul went though supposedly impromptu performances of “Suicide”, “Let’s Love”, “All of You,” “I’ll Give You a Ring” and a ‘proper’ take of “Baby Face.”

Day four saw the entire band returning to the studio to add overdubs to the live tracks recorded on the 26th and the 27th: “My Love”, “Live and Let Die”, “Band On The Run” “Bluebird” and “Jet”. August 30th, the fifth and final day of recording, was a unique staging meant as an interlude segment in the One Hand Clapping film: a solo acoustic performance by Paul in the backyard of Abbey Road studios! Although Paul again drifted through several impromptu takes of a number of classic 1950s rock songs, he did record fairly complete takes of Beatles classic “Blackbird”, the then-unreleased Wings b-side “Country Dreamer” and the as-yet unreleased “Blackpool.” Afterwards, Paul retreated back into Studio Two to track a tight solo piano version of “Eighteen Hundred and Eighty-Five”, which mysteriously morphs into the Band On The Run studio version in the actual unreleased One Hand Clapping film, as well as all known audio recordings.

And that was essentially the last anyone heard of One Hand Clapping, aside from archival releases and bootlegs of varying quality. While the film was completed later in 1975, it was never released; Paul had a tendency to finance vanity projects himself, comfortable with leaving them in the vault, such as the animated Bruce McMouse Show which did not see release until 46 years later! This line-up of Wings eventually returned to Abbey Road in November to start work on their next album, Venus and Mars, recording a handful of songs: “Rock Show”, “Love In Song”, “Letting Go” and “Medicine Jar.” Needing a change of scenery, Wings relocated to New Orleans in early 1975, where Britton exited the Wings due to personal disagreements with the bands’ guitarists. Joe English was hired as a session drummer to finish the album and was later asked to join Wings when the album was completed. Venus and Mars was released in May to critical and commercial success.

But what of the missing live-in-studio One Hand Clapping? Only “Baby Face” received overdubs during the Venus and Mars sessions—a New Orleans jazz band—presumably for possible b-side inclusion. While the film made it’s rounds on the bootleg circuit and eventually as a bonus on the 2010 Band On The Run box set, various tracks have trickled out on archival releases over the years, as well as it’s presumed entirety on various bootlegs. For this reconstruction, we will cull all of these sources and piece together as much as we are able to—including the live between-song banter, which is essential to the spirit of these recordings. All sources from bootlegs have been painstakingly remastered to match the fidelity of the pristine officially-released tracks, and all of the songs are presented mostly in the order of witch they were recorded, as per Chip Madinger and Mark Easter’s excellent Eight Arms To Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium. We will also use only the two most complete songs from Paul’s “Backyard Session”, as the goal here is to present a facsimile commercial double LP that could have been released in late 1974 in lieu of a Band On The Run tour.

Side A begins with the theme of the film and the title track, “One Hand Clapping”, taken from Yellow Cat’s fantastic One Hand Clapping bootleg, the best quality boot of the band-sessions. Following is “Jet” and “Let Me Roll It” from the 2010 Band On The Run box set, with the studio banter restored from the bootlegs. “Junior’s Farm” and “My Love” follow, both taken from the Yellow Cat bootleg. Side B fades in with the medley of “Little Woman Love” and “C Moon” from the Yellow Cat bootleg, followed by “Maybe I’m Amazed” from the 2011 box set for McCartney. Next is “Band On The Run”, again taken from the 2010 Band On The Run box, followed by a fraction of “Wild Life” and a roaring “Hi Hi Hi”, both from the Yellow Cat bootleg, to close out the first disc.

Disc two begins with “Live and Let Die”, taken from The In-Laws soundtrack. Next is the fantastic studio take of “Soily” that was never released, as well as Denny Laine’s “Go Now” and Paul’s go-to cover, “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, all taken from the Yellow Cat bootleg. We end the side with the final full-band recording of One Hand Clapping, “Bluebird” from the 2010 Band On The Run box. I chose to condense all of the Cabaret Sequence and Backyard Sessions together on Side D, starting with only the Cabaret material shown in the film. Using the bootleg MoMac’s Hidden Tracks Vol 7 as the source for the core, I patched in the proper demo of “Let’s Love” from 2014 Venus and Mars box set, which was presumably recorded during the One Hand Clapping sessions. Ending the sequence is “Baby Face”, again from the 2014 Venus and Mars box, featuring overdubs anachronistically recorded 1975 for this presumed 1974 release. Since nothing from The Backyard Sessions actually made the cut into the One Hand Clapping documentary, I will simply include the two most complete takes of “Blackbird” and “Country Dreamer”, with dialog edited to give the illusion that and random passerby had requested the songs. The album closes with “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” taken from the 2010 Band on the Run box; instead of segueing into the album version of the “Band On The Run” coda fade, I have used the early live version for continuity.

Special thanks to Mark Heggen for making the awesome cover artwork-- something that One Hand Clapping never had in any iteration!

Sources used:
Band On The Run (2010 Deluxe Edition)
The In-Laws (soundtrack, 2003)
One Hand Clapping (bootleg, Yellow Cat Records, 1994)
McCartney (2011 Deluxe Edition)
MoMac’s Hidden Tracks Vol 7 (bootleg, 2002)
Venus and Mars (2014 Deluxe Edition)

flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR Pro and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
* md5 files, track notes and artwork included