Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Who - Lifehouse (upgrade)

The Who – Lifehouse

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

September 2016 UPGRADE

Side A:
1.  Teenage Wasteland
2.  Time Is Passing
3.  Love Ain’t For Keeping
4.  Going Mobile
5.  Baby Don’t You Do it

Side B:
6.  Baba O’Riley
7.  Mary
8.  I Don’t Even Know Myself
9.  Greyhound Girl
10.  Bargain

Side C:
11.  Naked Eye
12.  Behind Blue Eyes
13.  Too Much of Anything
14.  Let’s See Action
15.  Getting In Tune

Side D:
16.  Pure and Easy
17.  Won’t Get Fooled Again
18.  This Song Is Over

This is a long-overdue upgrade to one of the very first reconstructions on my blog: the doomed rock opera Lifehouse by The Who, the next in a series of alternate Who albums.  Originally planned as a double concept album and the soundtrack to its accompanying film, Lifehouse was too technically complex and conceptually baffling to all except Pete Townshend.  After a nervous breakdown while making the album and the lack of support from manager and producer Kit Lambert, Lifehouse was scrapped and paired down to the single LP Who’s Next, which became one of The Who’s crown achievements, critically and commercially.  This reconstruction attempts to pull the best sources of all tracks associated with the Lifehouse project recorded by The Who and assemble them not only in a pleasing and cohesive track order, but to follow the storyline of the film. 

The upgrades to this September 2016 edition are:
  • Revised track order that follows the Lifehouse storyline more logically, as well as a more sonically-pleasing flow.  
  • “Relay” and “Join Together” are dropped from the tracklist, as there is no evidence they were originally meant to be in the Lifehouse project.
  • “Baby Don’t You Do It” and “Naked Eye” are added to the tracklist as there is evidence they were originally considered for the Lifehouse project in some fashion.  
  • The final Olympic takes of “Behind Blue Eyes” and “Pure and Easy” are used instead of the rougher Record Plant takes.  
  • A unique stereo mix of “Time is Passing” is featured, using the left channel of the track from Odds and Sods synced with the right channel from the Exciting The Who bootleg.
  • Most sources are taken from the Japanese 2010 and 2011 SHM CD remasters of Who’s Next and Odds and Sods respectively, the most pristine and dynamic masters available of both releases.  
  • “Let’s See Action” is sourced from the new The Who Hits 50, which features the full single version.  

Following the critically and commercially successful 1969 rock opera Tommy was no easy task for The Who.  At first the beginnings were modest with a self-produced EP recorded in May 1970 at Pete Townshend’s garage studio (dubbed Eel Pie)—possibly to mimic the stripped and fantastic Live at Leeds, released that month.  Featuring recent songs written while touring Tommy, The Who tracked “Postcard”, “Now I’m A Farmer”, “Water”, “Naked Eye” and “I Don’t Even Know Myself”.  This EP never saw the light of day for various reasons, including questions of marketability and inflated song length.  It's more likely that Townshend had instead concocted an epic idea worthy enough to follow-up Tommy—another rock opera that not only functioned as a soundtrack to a companion film, but would include an audience-participated live performance with the band itself.  That September, Townshend began recording elaborate demos for much of the album, tracking all the instruments himself.  Unlike Tommy, the material for this project—now called Lifehouse—would consist of approximately 20 stand-alone songs, without the need for musical interludes to propel the storyline; each song would be self-sufficient. 

The original storyline itself was simple, albeit Bradbury-esque.  The setting was in the not-too-distant future, in an ecologically-destroyed United Kingdom.  Most people live in the major cities and are electronically connected via special suits to The Grid, a Matrix-like virtual reality computer program that feeds, entertains and pacifies the populace, which is controlled by a villainous character named Jumbo.  Since it is not approved by The Grid, music is outlawed completely; despite this, a hacker musician named Bobby who lives outside the city amongst the hippy-gypsy farmer communes broadcasts a signal of classic rock (called Trad) into The Grid.  Some rebellious few congregate to the secret Lifehouse to experience the music Bobby broadcasts, which are somehow tailor-made for each individual person, the music representing their own life experience (and performed by, who else, but The Who!). 

The story begins with Ray and Sally, husband and wife turnip farmers, also living in a traveling commune outside of the city.  Their teenage daughter Mary intercepts the Lifehouse broadcasts and runs away from her family to seek the source of the pirate signal.  While Ray goes after her, Sally finds Bobby attempting to find The One Note, a musical note that represents all people and unites the universe.  After falling in love, the pair travel to London to find and play The One Note at The Lifehouse. By the end of the double album, Ray catches up to the couple, Jumbo’s troops storm the rock festival at The Lifehouse just as Bobby plays The One Note, and we find the rebel youth have simply vanished, transcended to another plane, along with any civilians attached to The Grid who had witnessed the event. 

The story seems to make sense to us, in the internet age.  But the rest of the band members failed to understand Townshend’s concept (specifically Roger Daltrey’s inability to conceptualize wireless communication), and likewise Towshend had difficulty articulating it.  To make matters more confusing, Townshend intended not only live performances of The Who to be intercut within the narrative in the film, but the performances themselves were to be metaphysical music that would be “tuned” to each individual audience member.  The final touch was that The Who, by the end of the performance, would become holograms.  These performances at The Young Vic Theatre beginning in January 1971 and carrying on sporadically until the spring seemed to be unpromoted and open to the general public—anyone curious enough to wander into the Young Vic and discover The Who playing new material!  Unfortunately, The Who were a band who wanted to make metaphysical music that represented the souls of the individual audience members, who themselves casually arrived just wanting to hear the bands’ hits.  The Young Vic performances were a failed experiment and in the end simply amounted to public rehearsals of the new Lifehouse material.  With Townshend disheartened that not only the audience “didn’t get it” but his band as well, The Who relocated to New York to record the new songs properly in the studio, giving Lifehouse one final chance. 

Initial album tracking began at the Record Plant in March 1971, produced by manager Kit Lambert as usual and featuring legendary keyboardist Al Kooper and guitarist Leslie West of Mountain.  At least six core Lifehouse songs were all worked on to completion or near to it: “Baby Don’t You Do It” (allegedly a studio warm-up), “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Love Ain’t For Keeping”, “Behind Blue Eyes”, “Pure and Easy” and “Getting in Tune”.  By this time the band’s relationship with Lambert had broken down completely.  Lambert was producer only in name, as he was preoccupied with a heroin addiction and was unable to even mix the session!  Townshend (himself by this point a chronic alcoholic) also had problems finding a common-ground with Lambert in regards to the Lifehouse narrative; Kit had helped Townshend flesh out the concept of Tommy two years before, but they were unable to agree upon a script for the Lifehouse film.  The situation reached its boiling point when Townsend overheard Lambert blasting him at their hotel room, including his recommendation that the band should abandon the project.  Townshend in effect spiraled into a nervous breakdown, later claiming to have attempted to jump out of the hotel window.  That was the deathblow to Lifehouse. 

Still needing to finish an album—be it Lifehouse or otherwise—producer Glyn Johns was brought in to mix the Record Plant sessions and to see if it was salvageable.  Johns thought the recordings were up to par but recommended restarting the project with him at the helm, as he could better capture the essence of The Who to tape.  Recording began at Mick Jagger’s mansion Stargroves in April, testing the waters with “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.  Impressed with the results, Johns and the band relocated to Olympic Studios in May to overdub it and to record at least another 15 songs.  At this point in time, Johns urged an already discouraged Townshend to shelve the Lifehouse concept indefinitely and release the best material as a singular, non-conceptual album.  The result was Who’s Next, regarded as not only one of The Who’s greatest albums, but one of the greatest in rock history. 

While Johns apparently made the correct call in whittling down Lifehouse to Who’s Next, Townshend never really gave up on the project.  He continued working on it, adding new songs to the project that regardless found their way onto other Who singles and albums (“Join Together” and “Relay” in 1972, “Slip Kid” in 1976, “Who Are You” in 1977, etc).  After a failed attempt to write a new Lifehouse screenplay in 1980, the themes and basic plot outline were recycled by Townshend for his 1993 solo album Psychoderelict.   Townshend eventually commissioned a Lifehouse radio play for the BBC in 1999 and released a multi-disc boxset of his original 1970 Lifehouse demos, the radio play and its soundtrack in 2000 as The Lifehouse Chronicles.   To top it off, Townshend performed a series of concerts of the Lifehouse material later that year, released as Pete Townshend Live: Sadler Wells 2000.

While Townshend clearly gave his final word on the project, is it possible to rebuild the original Lifehouse that The Who attempted to raise in 1971?  An exact tracklist was never published and Townshend has revealed only the basic plotline, lacking any specifics or subplot descriptions.  And while The Lifehouse Chronicles gives an excellent overview of the material, presented in a cohesive narrative framework, it is very much retro-active, including later 70s compositions not originally included in the 1971 project and based upon the largely rewritten and convoluted 1999 BBC radio play.  For my reconstruction we will attempt to only use the songs originally intended to be a part of the 1971 project, using exclusively The Who recordings with gaps filled-in by Townshend’s 1970 solo demos.  Our tracklist will follow what we know of the original storyline, as reflected in the song lyrics, with further insight from the performance order of Townshend’s Live: Sadler’s Wells 2000.  Structurally, the first disc will be set in the Scottish countryside and follow Mary’s journey to find Bobby, and Ray’s journey to find Mary.  The second disc will be set in The Grid of London and portray Bobby’s search for The One Note and his final confrontation with Jumbo’s army.  No live material is included, as I believe that intent was scrapped after the failure of The Young Vic experiments. 

Side A opens with “Baba M1” representing The One Note as an introduction, crossfaded into “Teenage Wasteland”, both Townshend’s demos taken from Lifehouse Chronicles.  Since there is an overlap between this and “Baba O’Riley”, the song is faded out before the redundant passages.  Here Ray introduces the listener to his world: living on the land in a caravan outside of The Grid.  Next, we introduce Bobby who is performing music in his own caravan with “Time Is Passing”.  Here a unique stereo mix of the song is created by syncing the left channel from Odds and Sods with the right channel from the bootleg Exciting The Who.  “Love Ain’t For Keeping” follows (using the Olympic take from Who’s Next with the extended Record Plant jam from Odds and Sods tagged onto the end), character development for Ray who sings this love song for his wife Sally.  The couple and their teenage daughter Mary travel the countryside in “Going Mobile” from Who’s Next, until Mary hears Bobby’s pirate broadcast of “Baby Don’t You Do It” from the Who’s Next 2010 remaster and decides to leave her parents in search of whomever is sending these magical signals.  Ray chases after her, which his perceived betrayal is also reflected in the song’s lyrics.

Side B opens with Bobby experimenting with The One Note in “Baba O’Riley” from Who’s Next.  Mary finds him and joins his caravan, on its way to London to host a rock concert at The Lifehouse, intending to free the populous from The Grid.  Bobby falls in love with Mary as heard in Townshend’s demo of “Mary” from Lifehouse Chronicles, but Mary is reluctant as heard in the Olympic version of “I Don’t Even Know Myself” from Odds and Sods.  Bobby tries to win Mary over in Townshend’s demo of “Greyhound Girl” from Lifehouse Chronicles, and disc one concludes with Ray vowing to retrieve his daughter no matter the cost—even venturing into the city to find her—in “Bargain” from Who’s Next.

Side C takes place in the future city of London, as we see the populace hooked up into The Grid, living a virtual reality life, an idyllic illusion meant to control them.  Here we use “Naked Eye” to create this setting and describe The Grid, using the Eel Pie recording from Odds and Sods; although this recording predates Lifehouse and hails from the scrapped 1970 EP, there is documentation that a version of “Naked Eye” was actually recorded during the 1971 Olympic sessions, thus indicating Townshend’s intent to use the song in Lifehouse.  Following, we are introduced to Jumbo, the controller of The Grid, who attempts to convince the listener he’s just misunderstood in “Behind Blue Eyes” from Who’s Next.  As Bobby and Mary infiltrate the city, they attempt to show people that their Grid lives are an illusion in the original mix of “Too Much of Anything” from Odds and Sods.  Both Bobby, Mary and Ray all arrive at The Lifehouse together and prepare for the rock concert in “Let’s See Action” from The Who Hits 50 and the show begins in “Getting in Tune” from Who’s Next, as Bobby hacks into the Grid and broadcasts The Lifehouse concert live to all linked into The Grid.

Side D opens with Bobby explaining what The One Note is and Mary urging him to use it to free everyone from Grid in the Olympic version of “Pure and Easy” from Odds and Sods.  Jumbo’s army storms the Lifehouse during “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from Who’s Next just as Bobby plays The One Note.  Right as the soldiers close in, all the protagonists and concert-goers vanish from their reality—as well as all the people on The Grid watching the show from their homes.  The closing credits presumably play over “This Song Is Over” from Who’s Next. The final touch being cover art created long ago by I Design Album Covers, we have one of the seminal Albums That Never Were, now better than ever. 

Sources used:
The Who - Who’s Next (2010 SHM remaster)
The Who - Odds & Sods (2011 SHM remaster)
The Who - Exciting The Who (bootleg, 1997 Midas Touch Records)
The Who – Hits 50! (2014 Geffen Records)
Pete Townshend - Lifehouse Chronicles (2001 Eel Pie Records)

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*md5, artwork and tracknotes included

Monday, July 4, 2016

Buffalo Springfield – Stampede

Buffalo Springfield – Stampede

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)

Side A:
1.  For What it’s Worth
2.  Mr. Soul
3.  We’ll See
4.  Pretty Girl Why
5.  Down To The Wire
6.  Everydays

Side B:
7.  Sell Out
8.  My Kind of Love
9.  No Sun Today
10.  Bluebird

Happy Fourth of July!  What better way to celebrate the birthday of Murica with a bunch of expat Canadians who sang about the unfair treatment of peaceful protesters by the uptight US government!  This is a reconstruction of the unreleased Buffalo Springfield album Stampede.  The brainchild of more their label than the actual band, Stampede was to be released in the summer of 1967 to capitalize on Buffalo Springfield’s hit “For What It’s Worth”.  Due to internal band conflict—namely ego battles and the departure of vocalist/guitarist Neil Young and bassist Bruce Palmer—the album never materialized and instead the fractured Buffalo Springfield Again was released at the end of the year.  This reconstruction attempts to recreate what Stampede could have been, particularly focusing on full-band recordings rather than the assemblage of nearly-solo tracks as heard on the eventual Again.  This reconstruction is presented in mono and all songs are volume adjusted and sequenced for a cohesive whole.  And of course, as much Neil as possible! 

After a bidding war over the young Los Angeles band with stars in their eyes, Buffalo Springfield recorded their self-titled debut album and released it at the conclusion of 1966.  Although a powerhouse in the local LA scene, the album and its lead single "Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing" made little impact.  It wasn’t until lead singer and guitarist Stephen Stills witnessed the Sunset Strip Riots in November, in which local law enforcement unfairly cracked down on the counterculture 'loiterers'.  Influenced by the emerging madness and civil unrest of the 1960s, Stills composed “For What It’s Worth”, a cautionary tale of a government policing its citizens who should otherwise have the freedom to peacefully assemble.   Recorded in December, the song was released in January 1967 and hit the Top Ten nationally, becoming a peace anthem as well as eventual history as one of the greatest rock songs of the 20th Century. 

While “For What It’s Worth” was the song that made Buffalo Springfield, it was also the song that destroyed them, as the young band was not ready to attain superstardom so quickly.  Neil Young had to briefly leave the group in January due to epileptic seizures, but returned in time for their first recording sessions of 1967 in New York.  After working on several new compositions for a second album tentatively titled Stampede (Still’s “We’ll See”, Young’s “Mr. Soul” and guitarist Richie Furay’s “My Kind of Love”), Palmer was arrested for marijuana possession and deported back to Canada.  Throughout the next six months, Palmer was temporarily replaced by a number of revolving bass players including: Ken Forssi of Love, Ken Koblum of The Squires, Miles Thomas of The Poor, Jim Fielder of Blood, Sweat & Tears and The Mothers of Invention... and not to mention Buffalo Springfield road manager Dickie Davis who famously mimed the bass parts on a television appearance! 

The band went in and out of several studios in February and March with Fielder on bass.  Although the label thought they were tracking Stampede, the bend felt they were just killing time until the turbulence subsided: Stills’ “Pretty Girl Why”, “No Sun Today” and “Everydays” and Young’s “Down To The Wire”.  In April, the band tracked “Bluebird” with session player Bobby West on bass, as well as more recording and mixing done to the January recording of “Mr. Soul” in attempt to compile a follow-up single to “For What It’s Worth”.  Meanwhile, Atlantic Records capitalized on the success of the top ten hit by re-issuing the band’s self-titled debut album, dropping “Baby Don’t Scold Me” for “For What It’s Worth”.  The move worked and the album shot up the charts, unlike its original configuration several months before.  The label then booked Buffalo Springfield to pose for an album cover photo shoot for the Stampede album they were pressured to be making throughout the turmoil.   While this picture itself became a classic—with Davis posing as the missing Palmer, face obscured—Stampede never did, as the album never was. 

Aside from the missing bassist and thus a lack of a solid foundation, a second variable was at play: Neil Young.  In-fighting had developed between Stills, Young and Furay, all vying to edge their compositions into the band, resulting in each member essentially producing the sessions for their own songs.  By June, Palmer was able to return to Buffalo Springfield but Young had already left, attempting a solo career free of the Buffalo Springfield.  Young was temporarily replaced by Doug Hastings of The Daily Flash and then briefly David Crosby of The Byrds.  More studio works was done to ‘kill time’ during the summer: Furay’s “A Child’s Claim To Fame” and Stills’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman” and “Hung Upside Down”.  Buffalo Springfield’s trajectory had only increased after playing Monterey Pop Festival and the band was surprised to find that Neil wanted to rejoin.  Unfortunately the damage was already done and by August the band realized they needed to deliver an album to Atlantic.

Oddly enough, the fractured and reassembled Buffalo Springfield scrapped most of the material recorded throughout the tumultuous year, and instead cobbled together an album mainly consisting of solo recordings.  Chosen was: the Palmer-less “Bluebird” and “Everydays”; the Young-less “A Child’s Claim To Fame”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman” and “Hung Upside Down”; Young offered his own recordings of “Expecting To Fly” and “Broken Arrow” originally meant for his short-lived solo album; Furay offered his own recordings of “Sad Memory” and “Good Time Boy” (the later which was sung by drummer Dewey Martin and session musicians filling out the rest of the instrumentation!).  Only “Mr. Soul” featured all of the classic Buffalo Springfield lineup.  Despite being full of fantastic material, Buffalo Springfield Again was incongruent and was hardly Buffalo Springfield as a band.  Are these faults something we can correct?

Many people have theorized and reconstructed what Stampede could have been, but due to the lack of any finalized tracklist—or even the confirmation that the band believed they were making an album in the first place—the results vary wildly.  Despite this, there are two chief methods to organize the album: it could have either been a collection of the songs Buffalo Springfield were working on in 1967 before Young quit, or it could have been a cash-cow album by the label using unreleased 1966 material as filler.  Here we will attempt the former, making an album that would chronologically follow their debut album and replace Again with a more unified “band-sound” with Neil, rather than a stopgap collection to stand alongside both Buffalo Springfield and Again.  Furthermore, we will make the assumption that the Stampede album would have touted “For What it’s Worth” and the debut Buffalo Springfield will remain as it was initially released in 1966 without it.  Finally, this reconstruction will be presented in mono, which is what the Buffalo Springfield preferred. 

Side A begins with “For What It’s Worth”, taken from the Buffalo Springfield boxset.  It’s followed by the rare single mix of “Mr. Soul” with a more upfront lead guitar and bass track, taken from a vinyl rip by Professor Stoned.  Next is “We’ll See” and “Pretty Girl Why” from the Buffalo Springfield box set, followed by Neil’s vocal version of “Down To The Wire” from his Archives Vol 1.  Side A concludes with the mysterious “Everydays” from the mono vinyl rip of Again by Professor Stoned.

Side B gently departs from my theme of not using the 1966 outtakes, using Neil’s fantastic “Sell Out”, taken from Archives Vol 1.  Recorded near the very end of the Buffalo Springfield sessions in September 1966, Neil plays all the instruments and the recording was meant as a publishing demo; regardless, it fits well in my Stampede (not to mention it being my favorite track on the album!).  Following is “My Kind of Love” and “No Sun Today” from the Buffalo Springfield box.  Ending the album is the rare 9-minute version of “Bluebird”, taken from a vinyl rip of the obscure 1973 Buffalo Springfield double LP, collapsed into mono to match the rest of the reconstruction. 

Sources used:
Buffalo Springfield (1973 Atco Records, noxid vinyl rip)
Buffalo Springfield (2001 Rhino Records 4CD box set)
Buffalo Springfield – Again (1967 Atco Records Prof Stoned mono vinyl rip)
Buffalo Springfield – Bluebird b/w Mr Soul (1967 Atco Records Prof Stoned mono vinyl rip)
Neil Young – Archives Volume 1 (2009 Reprise Records CD)

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* md5 files, track notes and artwork included

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Prince and The Revolution - Dream Factory

Prince and The Revolution – Dream Factory

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)


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.  Interlude

10.  I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man

Side C:

11.  Sign o’ The Times

12.  Crystal Ball

13.  A Place In Heaven

Side D:

14.  Last Heart

15.  Witness 4 The Prosecution

16.  Movie Star

17.  The Cross

18.  All My Dreams

In honor of the passing of Prince, this is a reconstruction of what would have been his final album with The Revolution, 1986’s 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—EQd to match a virgin vinyl rip of Sign o’ The Times—to  make the most natural-sounding album possible. 

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 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”. 

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 “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 “Wendy’s Interlude” 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.  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 into 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, my reconstruction will focus on its final iteration, using those specific mixes and track sequence; luckily all the tracks are available on both official and high-quality bootlegs.  In the name of creating the most natural-sounding reconstruction, I choose to use a pristine needledrop of an unplayed virgin vinyl copy of Sign o’ The Times (by thesnodger) for the songs also found on that release.  Furthermore, all of the tracks taken from bootlegs were EQd to match the mastering and EQ parameters of that unplayed copy of Sign o’ The Times.  The result is an attempt to preserve the sound originally intended by Prince in 1986 and to avoid the temptation for anachronistically maximizing specific frequencies (such as a certain, unnamed Dream Factory remaster with exaggerated bass frequencies). 

Side A begins with “Visions” taken from the collector's edition of Wendy & Lisa’s Eroica album, which hard edits into the unlisted “nevaeH ni ecalP A” taken from the Work It bootleg.  The original mix of “Dream Factory” appears here taken from the Work It bootleg but EQd to match the released version from the 1998 compilation Crystal Ball.  Following is the fantastic “Train” taken from the Work It bootleg but EQd to match the aforementioned vinyl Sign o’ The Times parameters.  Concluding the side are “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” and “It”, both taken from thesnodger’s needledrop of Sign o’ The Times since the Dream Factory mixes are identical to the official Sign mixes.  Side B begins with the superior original mix of “Strange Relationship” that features Wendy & Lisa’s overdubs that Prince exorcised for the Sign album, here taken from the Work It bootleg.  “Slow Love” and “Starfish and Coffee” follow, mixes identical as heard on Sign so again taken from the needledrop (but with “Starfish”’s alarm removed, as per what is heard on Dream Factory).  “Interlude” follows, taken from the Work It bootleg and Side B concludes with “I Could Never Replace Your Man” a longer mix than on Sign, taken from the Work It bootleg but EQd to match the shorter Sign version.

Side B opens with the single version of “Sign o’ the Times”, taken from The Hits/The B-Sides compilation.  The closing drumbeat is hard edited into the opening beat of the jaw-dropping “Crystal Ball”.  The Dream Factory version is unfortunately an early mix that lacked Clare Fisher’s extraordinary orchestration.  Regardless, this mix taken from the Work It bootleg, is EQd to match the final version from the Crystal Ball rarities compilation.  The side closes with the original mix of “A Place in Heaven” from the Work It bootleg featuring Lisa on lead vocals.  Side D opens with the original mix of “Last Heart” from the Work It bootleg, EQd to match the final mix on Crystal Ball.  The admittedly less-than-stellar “Witness 4 The Prosecution” and “Movie Star” follow, both taken from the Work It bootleg and re-EQd.  The album closes with the double-punch of the fantastic "The Cross" from Sign and the legendary unreleased track many claim could have been a hit—“All My Dreams”, here taken from the Dream Factory bootleg on Sabotage Records, but EQd to match my own reconstruction. 

Sources used:

Prince – Dream Factory (2003 bootleg CD, Sabotage Records)

Prince – The Hits/The B-Sides (original 1993 CD pressing)

Prince – Sign o’ The Times (1987 thesnodger vinyl rip)

Prince – Work It – Volumes 2 & 3 (2008 bootleg, GetBlue Records)

Wendy & Lisa – Erioca (1990 collector’s edition CD pressing)

flac --> wav --> SONAR and Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8

* md5 files, track notes and artwork included