Monday, September 30, 2019

The Beatles - The 1970s Beatles Albums (upgrade)

The Beatles – The 1970s Beatles Albums
(a soniclovenoize reimagining)

October 2019 UPGRADE

Disc 1 – Instant Karma! (1970)
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

Disc 2 – Imagine Clouds Dripping (1971) 
Side A:
 1.  Power To The People
 2.  What is Life
 3.  Dear Boy
 4.  Bangla Desh
 5.  Jealous Guy
 6.  The Back Seat of My Car
Side B:
 7.  Imagine
 8.  Another Day
 9.  Back off Bugaloo
10.  Oh My Love
11.  Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
12.  Isn’t It A Pity

Disc 3 – Living In The Material World (1972)
Side A:
 1.  Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)
 2.  Hi, Hi, Hi
 3.  John Sinclair
 4.  I’m The Greatest
 5.  Who Can See It
 6.  Woman Is The Nigger Of The World
Side B:
 7.  Live and Let Die
 8.  New York City
 9.  Living In The Material World
10.  Single Pigeon
11.  Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
12.  My Love

Disc 4 – Band On The Run (1973)
Side A:
 1.  Mind Games
 2.  Jet
 3.  One Day At A Time
 4.  Mrs. Vanderbilt
 5.  Photograph
 6.  Be Here Now
Side B:
 7.  Band On The Run
 8.  I Know (I Know)
 9.  Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long
10.  Out Of The Blue
11.  The Day The World Gets Round
12.  Let Me Roll It

Disc 5 – Good Night Vienna (1974)
Side A:
 1.  Venus and Mars/Rock Show
 2.  Whatever Gets You Thru The Night
 3.  Love In Song
 4.  So Sad
 5.  Steel and Glass
Side B:
 6.  Junior’s Farm
 7.  (It’s All Down To) Good Night Vienna
 8.  Dark Horse
 9.  #9 Dream
10.  You Gave Me The Answer
11.  Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down and Out)
12.  Venus and Mars (Reprise)

BONUS Disc 6 – Skywriting By Word Of Mouth (1980)
Side A:
 1.  (Just like) Starting Over
 2.  Take It Away
 3.  Dream Away
 4.  Ballroom Dancing
 5.  Watching The Wheels
 6.  Wanderlust
Side B:
 7.  Tug of War
 8.  Nobody Told Me
 9.  All Those Years Ago
10.  The Pound is Sinking
11.  I’m Losing You
12.  You Can’t Fight Lightning
13.  Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

Well hello there.  This is a long requested re-upload/upgrade, and I’ll finally make good on my promise to do it: The 1970s Beatles albums.  A series of reimaginings that ask “What if The Beatles didn’t break up in 1970?”, my collection, included here as one singular set, includes five proper 1970s Beatles albums: 1970’s Instant Karma, 1971’s Imagine Clouds Dripping, 1972’s Living In The Material World, 1973’s Band On The Run and 1974’s Good Night ViennaI am also offering my long-lost 1980 Beatles reunion album Skywriting By Word of Mouth as a sixth bonus disc of this set

Pretty much all sources have been upgraded, specifically from John’s Signature Box (which contains all original mixes), George’s Apple Years box set and Paul’s Archive Series releases.  Some slight tracklist alterations were made to fix errors or misjudgments I made seven years ago.  More importantly, all crossfades were recreated and, in my opinion, improved over the originals

Source used:
George Harrison – The Dark Horse Years 1976-1992 (2004)
George Harrison – The Apple Years 1968-75 (2014)
John Lennon – Sometime in New York City (2005 remix)
John Lennon – Signature Box (2010)
John Lennon – Imagine (2018 box set)
Paul McCartney – Band On The Run (2010 remaster)
Paul McCartney – McCartney (2011 remaster)
Paul McCartney – RAM (2012 remaster)
Paul McCartney – Venus and Mars (2014 remaster)
Paul McCartney – Tug of War (2015 remix)
Paul McCartney – Red Rose Speedway (2018 remaster)
Ringo Starr – Stop and Smell The Roses (1994 remaster)
Ringo Starr – 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

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The United States of America - Gifts and Creatures

The United States of America – Gifts and Creatures
(soniclovenoize “Second Album” reimagining)

Side A:
1.  Kalyani
2.   You Can’t Ever Come Down
3.  Tailor Man
4.  Nightmare Train
5.  Osamu’s Birthday
6.  Do You Follow Me

Side B:
7.  No Love
8.  The Sing-Along Song
9.  Perry Pier
10.  Invisible Man
11.  The Sub-Sylvian Litanies
12.  The Elephant At The Door
13.  The Sing-Along Song (Reprise)

Happy Fourth of July!  This is a reimaging of a possible second album from psychedelic-pop visionaries The United States of America.  Using a combination of solo recordings from band-leaders Joseph Byrd and Dorothy Moskowitz, as well as a few outtakes from the debut United States of America album, we will attempt to make what a theoretical sophomore 1969 album by the band would have sounded like.   All tracks have been volume adjusted from the best sources and crossfaded into two continuous LP sides of music. 

To put it simply, there was never a band like The United States of America, nor there ever will be again.  Formed by young ethnomusicologist and Fluxus art movement centerpiece Joseph Byrd and his former-partner Dorothy Moskowitz in 1967, the pair were somehow equally influenced by John Cage and The Beatles.  After composing a set of material with Byrd on keyboards and Moskowitz on vocals, the duo recruited the rest of the band from musicians whom they knew and performed with in the Los Angeles art, experimental and scholarly music scene: Gordon Marron was recruited to play an electrified violin through a ring modulator; African-drum student Craig Woodson was recruited to play a drumkit amplified by a number of contact mics; modern classical bassist Rand Forbes played fretless bass, often through a fuzz pedal.  The quintet was also joined by Marron’s friend Ed Bogas, who supplied additional keyboards.  Young art students who essentially wanted to create a rock band—despite being totally unfamiliar with the medium—were also highly tapped into revolutionary 1960s politics and the counter-culture, and sought to subvert the establishment by ironically dubbing the band The United States of America. 

After recording a demo in September 1967, success was found fairly quickly as The United States of America were signed to Columbia before they even performed their first show!  After touring with Richie Havens and The Troggs, the group began recording their self-titled debut that December with Moby Grape producer David Rubinson.  Cracks already began to form in the unit, as Rubinson allegedly attempted to elevate Moskowitz to being the star of the show; likewise, creative differences between Byrd and the union of Bogas, Marron and Rubinson put a strain on the recording sessions.  Regardless, the sextet and it's producer created an album unparalleled in its fusion of rock music, experimental electronics, counter culture social commentary and genre hopping from pop to Dixieland to sound collage.  Released in March 1968, the band followed its release with another tour with The Troggs and The Velvet Underground. 

Despite being on the cusp of fame, the band quickly disintegrated.   Unfortunate circumstances shadowed the tour, including audience hecklers, a random attack on Byrd by unhip locals and a literal backstage fistfight between Marron and Byrd.  Columbia records had a difficulty in marketing the musical (and literal) revolutionaries and the band wondered if they were “selling out to the man”.  Internal band dynamics began to reach a breaking point as each tried to vie power of the band from its originator, Byrd.  After an additional recording session in May 1968 for a follow-up single “You Can Never Come Down”, the band called it quits that summer, with Byrd walking away from the creature he created (or fired from the band, as he claimed!).  Not surprisingly, additional demo sessions with Moskowitz and a backing band of session musicians were recorded in late July still under the name of The United States of America, indicating Columbia’s desire to continue the moniker with Dorothy as the centerpiece.  These recording of two Moskowitz originals “Tailor Man” and “Perry Pier”, as well as a third penned by Kenneth Edwards of Linda Ronstadt’s band Stone Ponies, “Do You Follow Me”, were decidedly more commercial-sounding, featured a standard rock instrumentation rather than the guitar-less and cutting edge sound of The United States of America.  Regardless, nothing came of these recordings, which were shelved after the band’s break-up.

Meanwhile, the outcast Byrd struggled to find direction.  Salvation came when Columbia Records, recognizing him as a genius despite the failure to market and keep his band alive, offered him the chance to make a second album, this time a solo effort in which he (allegedly) had total creative control.  Like Moskowitz just recently prior, Byrd gathered several session musicians—dubbed The Field Hippies—and recorded a song cycle of hastily-written material under the working title Gifts and Creatures, using a new version of the unused United States of America single “You Can Never Come Down” as a centerpiece.  Although the sessions were difficult and Byrd had to utilize a series of female vocalists in obvious mimicry of his departed muse Moskowitz, the resulting album The American Metaphysical Circus was somewhat of a sequel to the sole Unites States of America album.  Again mixing experimental rock and pop with Dixieland and gospel, the album began with a suite of songs designed to replicate an LSD trip, followed by a suite of sharp-tonged songs dedicated to President Lyndon B Johnson and concluding with another suite parodying the decaying older generation and their early retirement farms.  Released in 1969, the album miraculously became a cult hit and remained in the Columbia Masterworks catalog for over 20 years, despite being too rock for the classical crowd and too arty for the pop crowd.  Both The United States of America and The American Metaphysical Circus became cult classics of the psychedelic 60s, remaining hidden gems of the era, waiting patiently to be discovered by music aficionados over the next 50 years. 

Even through the album title’s implication and the obvious continuity of band-leader Byrd, The American Metaphysical Circus wasn’t quite the sequel that these second-generation United States of America fans hoped for.  While having some musical similarities, The Field Hippies seemed to go on tangents that circled Byrd’s own fascination with traditional American music and his study in ethnomusicology.  And of course, the obvious lack of Dorothy Moskowitz strong yet cool voice, replaced by ragtag facsimiles Christie Thompson, Susan de Lange and Victoria Bond who simply could not hit the mark.  Is there somehow a way to reconstruct the album to make it more a proper encore to The United States of America?  

For my reimagining, we will use the core of The American Metaphysical Circus, but patch in the original United States of America recording of “You Can Never Come Down”, the three Moskowitz-lead United States of America recordings from 1968 and two outtakes from the self-titled 1967 sessions in order to make it a more appropriate follow-up that will almost solely feature lead vocals by either Dorothy or Joseph.  Sources are simply the 1996 One Way Records remaster of The American Metaphysical Circus and the 2004 Sundazed remaster of The United States of America, the later featuring a number of the required bonus tracks for this reimagining.  We will call the album Gifts and Creatures, the original, intended title of The American Metaphysical Circus, with cover art featuring imagery from The United States of America’s live shows in 1968. 

Side A begins with The Field Hippy’s “Kalyani”, but is hard edited into the USofA’s “You Can Never Come Down”, ideally establishing the intent of this reimagining.  Crossfading back into the outro of The Field Hippy’s version of the same song, we go directly into Moskowitz’s “Tailor Man”, followed by The Field Hippy’s “Nightmare Train”.  Next is The United States of America “Osamu’s Birthday”, an outtake from their debut album, with Moskowitz’s “Do You Follow Me” closing the side.

Side B begins with another outtake from the first USofA debut, “No Love”, going directly into The Field Hippie’s “The Sing-Along Song”.  Moskowitz’s “Perry Pier” follows and then edited into The Field Hippy’s “Invisible Man”.  Now, we could not have a United State of America album without a sound collage, right? If I may be so bold, what follows is my own creation from previously heard sound elements, ideally creating a reappropriation of several themes on the album into a new context, in which we will call “The Sub-Sylvian Litanies”.  We will use the most USofA-sounding selection from The Field Hippies as the epic track to conclude the album; hopefully there is a suspension of disbelief as we feature a lead vocal by Susan de Lange instead of our beloved Dorothy. 

What is the result of Gifts and Creatures?  While defiantly an interesting experiment of what could have been, two things become quite obvious.  Firstly, both Dorothy and Joseph seemed to depart from the experimental rock of their debut album, with Moskowitz leaning towards the female soft-rock singer-songwriter territory and Byrd towards ethnomusicological pursuits.   Strangely enough, those two sounds seems to match fairly well and make a cohesive album, despite it not really sounding like a true USofA album.  Which leads us to the second point: the truth is, the trinity of Marron’s modulated violin, Forbes’ fuzzy bass and Woodson’s electrified drums seemed to be the USofA’s secret weapon, and what stylistically set the band apart from their contemporaries.  Aside from the two songs that feature them, they are sorely missed from this reimagining of a sophomore album. 

Regardless, I hope you enjoy the album (that admittedly simply originated as a little experiment of my own), and make your Fourth of July an American metaphysical circus!

Sources used:
Joe Byrd & The Field Hippies - The American Metaphysical Circus (1996 One Way Records CD Remaster)
The Unites States of America - The United States of America (2004 Sundazed CD Remaster)
flac --> wav --> editing in SONAR, Audacity & Goldwave --> flac encoding via TLH lv8
*md5, artwork and tracknotes included

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Paul McCartney & Wings - Red Rose Speedway 2LP (upgrade)


Paul McCartney & Wings – Red Rose Speedway

(double-album reconstruction by soniclovenoize)

June 2019 UPGRADE

Side A:
1.  Big Barn Bed
2.  My Love
3.  When The Night
4.  Seaside Woman
5.  Get On The Right Thing

Side B:
6.  Best Friend (live)
7.  Tragedy
8.  I Would Only Smile
9.  One More Kiss
10.  Single Pigeon
11.  Little Lamb Dragonfly

Side C:
1.  I Lie Around
2.  Hi Hi Hi
3.  Loup (1st Indian on The Moon)
4.  1882 (live)
5.  The Mess (live)

Side D:
6.  Night Out
7.  Mama’s Little Girl
8.  Country Dreamer
9.  Hold Me Tight/Lazy Dynamite/Hands of Love/Power Cut

This is an upgrade to my reconstruction of a double-album version of Paul McCartney & Wings’ 1973 album, Red Rose Speedway.  Originally conceived as a musically versatile 2LP with contributions from other members of Wings outside of McCartney, the album was trimmed down to a more commercial single-disc configuration, which was eventually released to mixed acclaim.  Although an official release of McCartney’s final 2LP configuration appeared in 2018, the tracklist was incongruent and had a rather lackluster flow; this reconstruction uses those original 1973 mixes, but configured with my own tracklist from 2013 that presents the material in a more pleasing track order. 

Upgrades to this June 2019 edition are:
  • All sources taken from the Red Rose Speedway 2018 box set, using all original 1973 mixes.
  • “Big Barn Bed” and “My Love” are properly crossfaded, as originally intended. 
  • Addition of “Hi Hi Hi” to Side C tracklist.
  • Original, unique edit of the a capella outro to “Get On The Right Thing” onto the album versio
  • Original, unique shorter edit of “Loup” which is segued into and thus serves as an into to “1882”.

After a pair of solo albums--the second of which spawned some heavy hits--Paul McCartney was determined to form a new musical group he could front with his wife Linda and rediscover the excitement of his early Beatles days.  By 1971, he had recruited former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and session drummer Denny Seiwell, the later who had already performed on McCartney’s RAM from the previous year.  Wings was born, and their debut album Wild Life was hastily written and recorded that summer.  A disappointing and lightweight release, McCartney admitted it was the sound of a band in its infancy, as the band had not had the time to evolve and, frankly, improve beyond musical acquaintances just jamming.  The only way to do that was to play live… 

Early 1972 saw the addition Joe Cocker guitarist Henry McCullough to the lineup and the band embarked on a university tour of the UK in February.  Boldly, the quintet entered Olympic Studios with the legendary Glyn Johns in March to record the new batch of road-tested songs, which also included material penned by other members of Wings besides McCArtney: “Big Barn Bed”, “When The Night”, “The Mess”, “Single Pigeon”, the Thomas Wayne & The DeLons cover “Tragedy”, “Mama’s Little Girl”, the spacey instrumental “Loup (1st Indian On The Moon)”, Linda’s “Seaside Woman”, Denny Laine’s “I Would Only Smile”, “Thank You Darling” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb”.  Although an album’s worth of material was recorded, the quality was only marginally better than the previous year’s Wild Life, and much of the studio time was wasted with Wings still trying to find their musical grounding.  Fed up with what he perceived as just messing about rather than serious work, Glyn Johns quit the project at the end of the month.  Only the session’s final recording, “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, was released as a single in May, to a perplexed audience.  Is this a rock band or a children’s song?  It was barely anything in between. 

Following the aborted Olympic Sessions, Wings embarked on another European through July and August, appropriately dubbed Wings Over Europe.  While continuing to perform the new material tracked during the Olympic Sessions, Wings added even newer compositions to their repertoire, such as “1882”, “Best Friend”, “Soily”, Laine’s “Say You Don’t Mind” and McCullough’s “Henry’s Blues”.  After the conclusion of the tour, the group recorded the reggae-influenced track “C Moon” in September for a future single release.

Doubling down to not only make a proper album but to produce it themselves, Wings recruited engineers Alan Parsons and John Leckie to record a second batch of new Wings material, this time in the luxurious Abbey Road Studios.  The Wings Over America tour had whipped the band into shape, as the late-September/early-October Abbey Road sessions produced material more refined and colorful than either Wild Life or the Olympic Sessions:  the rave-up “Night Out”, country ballads “One More Kiss” and “Country Dreamer”, four songs that were later conjoined into a medley “Hold Me Tight/Lazy Dynamite/Hands of Love/Power Cut” and the rocker “Hi Hi Hi”, which was selected to pair with “C Moon” as a stand-alone single release in December.  Additionally, Wings went into McCartney’s vault to finish off three half-finished tracks from the Fall 1970 RAM Sessions: “Get On The Right Thing”, “Little Lamb Dragonfly” and “I Lie Around”.  Suddenly, the group had the basis of an album with promise. 

The end of October saw the band track another new song, this time with Paul’s old producer George Martin: “Live and Let Die”, intended for the subsequent James Bond film.  Much to Alan Parson’s disappointment, that song was never destined for this ongoing album project, now titled Red Rose Speedway.  But looking over the quantity of material recorded with Glyn Johns in March, Parsons in September and the refurbished RAM outtakes, it became obvious that this second Wings album could be a double-LP!  Returning to the studio in November for follow-up sessions, a subpar “1882” was tracked along with a lackluster instrumental called “Jazz Street”.  It was decided that mutitracked tapes of “1882” and “The Mess” from the August tour were better than their studio counterparts and received overdubs; likewise, a live “Best Friend” was also used, with added overdubs.  January 1973 saw the band track the final addition to the album, the ballad “My Live”, recorded live in the studio with an orchestra. All of the pieces were now in place. 

Assembling the vast amount of material into a cohesive double album was not an easy task.  Several test masters have been discovered throughout the years, showing McCartney's difficulty in arranging the material cohesively.  An acetate assembled December 13th, 1972 had the following configuration:
Side A – Big Barn Bed / When The Night / Single Pigeon / Tragedy / Mama’s Little Girl / Loup / I Would Only Smile
Side B – Country Dreamer / Night Out / One More Kiss / Jazz Street
Side C – I Lie Around / Little Lamb Dragonfly / Get On The Right Thing / 1882 / The Mess
Side D – My Love / Best Friend / Seaside Woman / Medley

That tracklist was shifted around a bit, and the final double-album configuration, dated January 30th, 1973, looked like:
Side A – Night Out / Get On The Right Thing / Country Dreamer / Big Barn Bed / My Love
Side B – Single Pigeon / When The Night / Seaside Woman / I Lie Around / The Mess
Side C – Best Friend / Loup / Medley
Side D – Mama’s Little Girl / I Would Only Smile / One More Kiss / Tragedy / Little Lamb Dragonfly

After a week of test listening, it was decided that a more concise (and thus more marketable) album was needed, and the material was paired down considerably.  A single-disc master was prepared on February 22nd, 1973, which included:
Side A – Big Barn Bed / My Love / Get On The Right Thing / Country Dreamer / Medley
Side B – Single Pigeon / One More Kiss / Night Out / Seaside Woman / Mama’s Little Girl / Tragedy / Little Lamb Dragonfly

After more tinkering, the final single-disc master was prepared March 26th, 1973:
Side A – Big Barn Bed / My Love / Get On The Right Thing / One More Kiss / Little Lamb Dragonfly
Side B – Single Pigeon / When The Night / Loup / Medley

Red Rose Speedway was released in April and although the critics were skeptical of the album’s lightweight whimsy, “My Love” became a number one single anyways.  Likewise, many fans claimed the album had potential but was missing something, although they couldn’t quite put their finger on it.  In hindsight, the nine tracks released only told half the story of Red Rose Speedway; the album is best heard in the session’s entirety, as its value is best understood as the sum of its parts.  While neither the released Red Rose Speedway nor the album's worth of outtakes are exceptional, when combined, it becomes an exceptional body of work.  While not a blockbuster, it shows a band with the audacity to defy critics with a double album no one really asked for; that, a massive underdog, is it's strength.  But how can we assemble this mess of three different sessions—four, counting the live tracks—into a sensible double LP? 

Analysis of the running order of both the December 13th and January 30th 2LP acetates show a clumsy construction, although they both contain a number of isolated ideas that we can adopt into our more cohesive Red Rose Speedway.  Firstly, we assign the notable rockers to begin each side of the double LP: “Big Barn Bed”, “Best Friend”, “I Lie Around” and “Night Out”.  Secondly, we assign the two mid-tempo rockers to end Sides A and C (”Get On The Right Thing” and “The Mess”) and the two epics to close Sides B and D (“Little Lamb Dragonfly” and The Medley).  Next, we disperse the songs led by the other members of Wings onto different sides of the album: Linda’s “Seaside Woman”, Laine’s “I Would Only Smile” and his vocal on “I Lie Around”.  Likewise, the two (mostly) instrumental tracks “Night Out” and “Loup” should be placed on separate sides as well.  Then we simply fill in the blanks, using some song pairs from both acetates that flow pleasantly, assembling four 20-minute LP sides.  

My Side A begins with what seems to be the keystone track of Red Rose Speedway, the country-funk rocker “Big Barn Bed”.  It is crossfaded (correctly, as opposed to the current remasters) into the hit single of the album “My Love”.  “When The Night” follows, flowing into “Seaside Woman”.  Closing the side is “Get On The Right Thing”, which features my own edit of the a capella ending from the rough mix, crossfaded from the standard album version, creating an interesting end to Side A.  Side B begins with “Best Friend”, followed by a grouping of the folkier tracks: “Tragedy”, “I Would Only Smile” hard edited into “One Last Kiss”, “Single Pigeon” and probably the best song of the set, “Little Lamb Dragonfly”.

Side C begins with the joyous “I Lie Around”, the only way to logically open the second disc, in my opinion.  One complaint Red Rose Speedway had earned is the lack of McCartney’s rock fare and its emphasis of lightweight pop and ballad.  To offset this, I’ve included “Hi Hi Hi” to give the second disc some punch; although not originally intended for Red Rose Speedway, it really does give it the mid-album jolt it needs.  To counter-balance this, I’ve edited nearly half of “Loup” down to merely a segue track into the fantastic live “1882”.  That song is crossfaded into “The Mess” to make a continuous live performance to close out the side, patching McCartney’s "The Mess" dialog from the 1996 remaster of Red Rose Speedway, which was mysteriously absent from the 2018 remaster.  Side D opens with “Night Out”, a fun, albeit pointless track.  Followed by the serene “Mama’s Little Girl” and jaunty “Country Dreamer”, the album closes with the only logical possibility:  The Medley.

Sources used:
Paul McCartney & Wings – Red Rose Speedway (1996 Steve Hoffman remaster)
Paul McCartney & Wings – Red Rose Speedway (2018 Delux Edition)

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