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

Friday, July 24, 2020

Nirvana - Donkeyshow

Nirvana – Donkeyshow
(soniclovenoize Verse Chorus Verse reconstruction)

Side A:
1.  Drain You
2.  Aneurysm
3.  Breed
4.  Serve The Servants
5.  Smells Like Teen Spirit
6.  Spank Thru
7.  Sliver
8.  Dive
9.  Lithium

Side B:
10.  Rape Me
11.  School
12.  Sappy
13.  Negative Creep
14.  Heart-Shaped Box
15.  Blew
16.  Scentless Apprentice
17.  Territorial Pissings

Hello there.  Hope you are staying safe!  Although quarantine restrictions are slowly being lifted, alas there won’t be any live music anytime soon.  So in remembrance of the magic that was a band making music right in front of you--just for you, the energy and passion, the direct connection between artist and audience--I am going to upload a trilogy of famous live albums that never were.  First is a reconstruction of the unreleased 1994 live Nirvana album Donkeyshow.  Originally the first disc of the double-live album Verse Chorus Verse, slated for a November 1994 release, the album was canceled and instead the second disc was released as its own album: MTV’s Unplugged.  Donkeyshow was later meant to be released on its own, but was instead reimagined as 1996’s From The Muddy Banks of The Wishkah.  This reconstruction attempts to present what Donkeyshow was supposed to sound like, mostly using the performances originally slated for inclusion on the album.  Only the best sources were used, EQd and volume adjusted for album cohesion. 

By 1994, Nirvana was the biggest rock band in the world.  Upon the suicide of frontman Kurt Cobain in April, that status was cemented, although this ensured no new recordings from the band.   With only a small discography of three studio albums and one rarities compilation, Nirvana had made a tremendous impact on music and culture with a limited time and body of music.  How can a record label continue the legends of rock greats?  Well, with a live album, of course!

By the summer of 1994, the Nirvana camp decided to prepare tapes for a double album of live material that covered their entire history, in hopes to upstage the rampant bootleggers and satisfy the hunger for new music from Nirvana’s grieving fans.  Titled Verse Chorus Verse--which was at one point an early title of In Utero--the first disc would contain a compilation of recordings from their standard electric show, ideally recreating an actual Nirvana concert.  The second disc was to feature the entirety of the band’s recent performance on MTV Unplugged.  In effect, Verse Chorus Verse was meant to demonstrate the versatility of the band and present their ‘light’ and ‘dark’ sides.  The double album was scheduled for a street date on Halloween and an official release on November 1st, 1994. 

Although a rough assemblage of Disc One was compiled with promo tapes manufactured in-house at DGC Records and artwork proofed, Chris Novoselic and Dave Grohl did not have the heart to continue the project, their wounds being too raw from the loss of their friend and bandmate.  Ultimately, Verse Chorus Verse was scrapped and the band instead chose to just simply release the second disc as MTV Unplugged.  It was a wise move; the album was considered a reverent eulogy for Cobain and a brilliant swan song for the band, winning a Grammy and hailed as one of the greatest live albums of all time.  Simultaneously released was the VHS Live! Tonight! Sold Out!, a finalized version of a concept Cobain originally conceived: a documentary of the band’s rise to fame intermingled with live clips.  The video sufficed as the only souvenir of an official "electric" Nirvana show. 

The remaining members of Nirvana never gave up on the concept of an "electric" live album  and made plans to release Verse Chorus Verse’s forgotten first disc as a standalone release called Donkeyshow (taken from Cobain’s often-said homophone of danke schoen).  But hindsight gave Grohl and Novoselic an opportunity to rethink the compilation itself, and Donkeyshow never saw the light of day.  Eventually Donkeyshow’s tracklist was slightly altered—using different live performances and completely remixing the others—and it was reborn as 1996’s From The Muddy Banks of The Wishkah.  The album debuted at number one on the charts and was the last word from Nirvana in the decade they reigned. 

Despite Wishkah’s success, the contents of the original Donkeyshow remained a great Nirvana mystery for some time, with fans wondering what it had originally sounded like when initially conceived.  Over a decade later, scans of the DGC in-house promo tape emerged, revealing the songlist although without performance dates.  Even though very few were privy to the audio, it was verified that only a handful of versions from Donkeyshow actually made it to Wishkah!  But with no leaked audio from the tape, the mystery only deepened as Nirvana obsessives wondered what actual performances were on the album.

It wasn’t until December 2019 that Robert Fisher, Nirvana’s longtime art director, posted his long-lost test proofs for the actual artwork for Verse Chorus Verse and Donkeyshow on his Instagram.  Revealing for the first time ever not only what Verse Chorus Verse would have actually looked like—which was a bit of an amalgam of the MTV Unplugged and Live! Tonight! Sold Out! artwork in a collaged gatefold packaging—but the liner notes that specifically stated which shows each of the songs originated from!  Surprisingly, many of the recordings stemmed from some of Nirvana’s most heavily bootlegged live shows: Pat O’Brien Pavilion, Del Mar, CA 12/28/91, distributed as a Westwood One promo CD; Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA 10/31/91, Nirvana’s legendary Halloween show which was one of their most popular bootlegs; Pier 48, Seattle, WA 12/13/93, recorded for and televised as MTV’s Live & Loud.   Five of the cuts were the same performances as heard on Wishkah (although in a different mix) and another five were sourced from otherwise completely unheard, uncirculated shows.  Two of the later--"Serve The Servants" from 1/7/94 and "Sappy" from 11/22/89--surfaced as low quality mp3s. 

Since complete rips of the full 60-minute Donkeyshow do not circulate, we will use Fisher’s liner notes to reconstruct a facsimile Donkeyshow from the best quality versions of the Paramount, O’Brien Pavilion and Pier 48 shows.  The mixes from the five Wishkah-overlapping recordings will not be used, as they are a bit muddy and Cobain’s guitar was mixed to mono; we will try to use the original Andy Wallace mixes from the early 90s, at least in the case for the Paramount and Pat O'Brien Pavilion shows.  Additionally, we will substitute different soundboard recordings for the five songs not available, using similar, same-era recordings.  We will also attempt to match the side lengths as stated on the promo cassette for accuracy and master this reconstruction at a similar volume as the original 1994 master of MTV Unplugged, as this would theoretically be paired with Donkeyshow, had it been released.  Finally, to make this Donkeyshow reconstruction a bit more authentic to an actual Nirvana concert, all mistakes were left as-is and we will include the crucial element of any Nirvana concert (that Wishkah unfortunately overlooked): Novoselic’s drunken stage banter! 

My reconstruction begins with a trio of songs taken from JWB’s excellent remaster of the O’Brien Pavilion bootleg, “Drain You”, “Aneurysm” and “Breed”.  Note that two channels of Cobain’s guitar is panned stereophonically, as opposed to the channels summed to mono and panned slightly right as on Wishkah.  On the actual Verse Chorus Verse/Donkeyshow, “Serve The Servants” from was taken from the Seattle Center Colosseum 1/7/94; since that show is not available to us, I substituted the version from Pier 48, just 23 days earlier, taken from the fourt disc of the In Utero 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe box set.  Next is “Smells Like Teen Spirit” again from Del Mar.  On the original Donkeyshow, “Spank Thru” was taken from The Astoria 12/3/89; since we do not have that show available to us, I used the version from Fahrenheit, MJC Espace Icare 12/1/89, two days earlier.  “Sliver” from Del Mar again, then “Dive”, substituted with 12/1/89.  “Lithium” from Del Mar, yet again.  They sure liked this show, didn’t they?

Side B—as heard on the promo tape versions—begins with the slower, early “Rape Me” from the Paramount Halloween show, taken from JWB's remaster of the bootlegged original Andy Wallace mix.  Next, “School” from the San Diego Sports Arena 12/29/93 is not available, so we substitute the classic Palaghiaccio 2/22/94 version, from just under two months later.  Likewise, the following “Sappy” from Geneva 11/29/89 is not available, so we will substitute it for the classic Vienna 11/22/89, one week earlier.  The ripping “Negative Creep” from Halloween at the Paramount is next, followed by the trilogy of “Heart Shaped-Box”, “Blew” and “Scentless Apprentice” from Live & Loud 12/13/93.  The album closes with “Territorial Pissings” from, of course, Del Mar. 

Sources used:
In Utero (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Box Set, 2013)
Live at Le Fahrenheit, Maison des Jeunes et de la Culture (Pierre Leroy transfer)
Live at Palaghiaccio, Rome (JWB Remaster)
Live at Paramount Theatre, Seattle (JWB Remaster)
Live at Pat O’Brien Paladium, Del Mar (JWB Remaster)
Live at U4, Vienna (JWB Remaster)