Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Beach Boys - Landlocked (and friends)

 The Beach Boys – Landlocked (and friends)
(soniclovenoize reconstructions)
November 2021 UPGRADE

Disc 1 – Landlocked
Side A:
1.  Loop de Loop
2.  Susie Cincinnati
3.  San Miguel
4.  HELP is On The Way
5.  Take a Load Off You Feet
6.  Carnival
7.  I Just Got My Pay

Side B:
8.  Good Time
9.  Big Sur
10.  Falling In Love
11.  When Girls Get Together
12.  Lookin’ For Tomorrow
13.  ‘Til I Die

Disc 2 – Add Some Music
Side A:
1.  Susie Cincinnati
2.  Good Time
3.  Our Sweet Love
4.  Tears in the Morning
5.  When Girls Get Together
6.  Slip On Through

Side B:
7.  Add Some Music To Your Day
8.  Take a Load Off Your Feet
9.  This Whole World
10.  I Just Got My Pay
11.  At My Window
12.  Lady (Fallin’ In Love)

Disc 3 – Reverberation
Side A:
1.  Cottonfields
2.  Loop de Loop
3.  All I Wanna Do
4.  Got To Know The Woman
5.  When Girls Get Together

Side B:
6.  Breakaway
7.  San Miguel
8.  Celebrate The News
9.  Deidre
10.  The Lord’s Prayer
11.  Forever

Disc 4 – Dennis Wilson – Hubba Hubba
Side A:
1.  All Of My Love
2.  Ecology
3.  Behold The Night
4.  Baby Baby
5.  Old Movie
6.  Hawaiian Dream

Side B:
7.  It’s a New Day
8.  I’ve Got a Friend
9.  Barbara
10.  Make It Good
11.  Before
12.  (Wouldn’t It Be Nice) To Live Again

Here is a massive update for you!  This is a reconstruction of The Beach Boys’ mythical unreleased 1970 album Landlocked, which was the precursor to their comeback album Surf’s Up.  Included are two bonus reconstructions that date from the same era—Add Some Music and Reverberation, both precursors to Sunflower—and Dennis Wilson’s unfinished 1971 solo album Hubba Hubba.  Most of the sources are taken from the new Feel Flows box set, so sound quality is superb.  

The Beach Boys were a band of true ups and downs.  From pioneering baroque-pop in the mid 1960s which coalesced into Pet Sounds and SMiLE, to pioneering lo-fi pop towards the end of the decade with Smiley Smile and Wild Honey, the band also saw their share of commercial waves.  By 1969, The Beach Boys were struggling to keep up with the times,  their de facto bandleader Brian Wilson succumbing to his own mental illness and self-imposed isolation.  After the relative failure of the 20/20 album and being released from their contract with Capitol Records, the group circled their wagons and doubled down to work together and record a comeback album worthy of their mid-60s output, to be released on their own label Brother Records.  

With all six band members contributing their own material to the new album project, The Beach Boys began recording in January 1969 with: Dennis Wilson’s “San Miguel”, “Got To Know The Woman”, “Celebrate The News” and “Forever”; Bruce Johnston’s “Deidre”; Brian Wilson and Al Jardine’s collaboration “Loop de Loop”; Brian and Mike Love’s “All I Wanna Do”; and Brian’s own “Breakaway”.  The later was chosen as a single release backed with “Celebrate The News”, released for the band’s own European tour in June.  Reconvening that summer, the band recorded Dennis’s “Slip On Through”, Brian’s “Soulful Old Man Sunshine” and Al’s requested Country re-arrangement of “Cottonfields”.  That fall and into January saw a sudden explosion of new recorded material after receiving interest from Warner Brothers/Reprise Records: Brian’s “Games Two Can Play”, “This Whole World” and “I Just Got My Pay”; Brian & Mike’s “Add Some Music To Your Day” and “When Girls Get Together”; Brian & Al’s “Our Sweet Love”, “At My Window”, “Susie Cincinnati”, “Good Time”, “Take a Load Off Your Feet” and “Back Home”; Bruce’s “Tears in the Morning”; Dennis’s “Lady”; and the group’s psychedelic take on “Over The Waves (Carnival).”

By February 1970, The Beach Boys had an unfathomable amount of new material,  consisting of the eight songs recorded before the European Tour and seventeen recorded afterwards!  Of those 25 tracks, 12 were selected for the new album—now titled Add Some Music—and a master was prepared on February 18th.  Unfortunately, Warner Brothers rejected the album, although they did elect to release the title track “Add Some Music To Your Day” b/w “Susie Cincinnati” as a single and suggested the band rethink the album itself.  Meanwhile, Capitol Records was still interested in a final release from The Beach Boys.  After a summer tour of Australia and a single release of their reworked and countrified version of “Cottonfields”, the band compiled a completely separate album called Reverberation (sometimes also known as The Fading Rock Group Revival), using ten of their recent 1969 recordings not used for Add Some Music (as well as new stereo mix of their 1963 recording of “The Lord’s Prayer”).  Capitol rejected the album for unknown reasons, instead choosing to release Live in London.  This was for the best.  

With urging by legendary record executive Larry Waronker, The Beach Boys reconvened in June to record “It’s About Time” and “Cool Cool Water”, the later which had been worked on during the SMiLE, Smiley Smile and Wild Honey sessions.  A completely new album was created by combining the two new songs, six songs from the rejected Add Some Music and four from the rejected Reverberation.  This new album—Sunflower—was released in August and although it was one of the strongest albums The Beach Boys had released since Pet Sounds, it flopped.  The band needed a facelift…

In August 1970, The Beach Boys hired Jack Rieley as their new manager, who set out to revamp and modernize the band’s image for the 1970s.  Hitting the studio, the band started recording new material for their second Brother Album release: Al’s “Lookin At Tomorrow”; Mike’s “Big Sur”; and Brian’s “HELP is On the Way” and “Til I Die”.   In September, Beach Boys’ house engineer Stephen Desper compiled a thirteen-track master with these four new songs and nine of the 1969 tracks not used on Sunflower, meant as a compilation of songs in consideration for the next album.  Unfortunately, Warner Brothers was again not thrilled with the compilation, and The Beach Boys once again went back to the drawing board.

Regrouping in the Spring of 1971, The Beach Boys recorded a new set of songs all the way up into the summer—tentatively called Landlocked—again pooling their collective resources: Dennis’ “4th of July” and “(Wouldn’t It Be Nice To) Live Again”; Mike & Al’s “Don’t Go Near The Water”; Mike’s “Student Demonstration Time”; Carl’s “Long Promised Road” and “Feel Flows”; Brian’s “A Day In The Life of a Tree”; Bruce’s “Disney Girls (1957)”.  Simultaneously, Dennis was recording his own material with Daryl Dragon of Captain & Tennille for a tentative solo album called Hubba Hubba (or, absurdly, Poops).  Finally, Rieley persuaded the group to finish Brian’s incomplete recording of the SMiLE track “Surf’s Up” to act as the centerpiece for the album.  A completely new master was prepared with the meat of the 1971 sessions, “Til I Die” and “Lookin At Tomorrow” from the 1970 sessions and curiously “Take a Load Off Your Feet” from the 1969 sessions.  Retitled Surf’s Up, the album was released in August to critical success, deemed as The Beach Boys’ 1970s comeback and reinvention album.  But as we’ve seen, this long promised road yielded a number of bumps.  Can we recover these lost precursors to Sunflower and Surf’s Up?

First thing’s first, the elephant in the room:  There was most likely no actual Landlocked.  Or more specifically, the unreleased album that is attributed to Landlocked is not actually LandlockedLandlocked was simply a working title for Surf’s Up.  The 13-song master attributed to the name was simply the compilation Desper assembled in September 1970, showcasing the four then-new songs and the nine Sunflower outtakes considered for the second Brother album.  Regardless, we will honor this mythos and simply reconstruct Desper’s compilation and call it Landlocked.   The reconstruction opens with the original 1969 mix of “Loop de Loop”, taken from Feel Flows.  The excellent modern remixes of “Susie Cincinnati”, “San Miguel” and “HELP is On The Way” from Feel Flows follows, then the album version of “Take a Load Off Your Feet” from the 2012 remaster of Surf’s Up (which I feel was better than the Feel Flows remaster).  “Carnival” from Feel Flows is next, but I have added the dizzying phasing that replicates a carnival ride, which was present on it’s bootlegged 1969 mix but not in this modern one.  New Feel Flows mixes of “I Just Got My Pay”, “Good Time” and “Big Sur” follow, along with the original 1969 mix of “Lady”.  The album concludes with a new Feel Flows mix of “When Girls Get Together”, “Lookin At Tomorrow” from the 2012 Surf’s Up, and Desper’s alternate 1970 mix of “Till I Die” from the Endless Harmony soundtrack.  The cover artwork is reconstructed from Jack Rieley’s own description of the unreleased Landlocked album cover, as well as unused promotional proofs.  

Full disclosure: I love this reconstruction of Landlocked, moreso than the actual Surf’s Up album!  This album doesn't take itself so seriously, and features an exuberant sound texture reminiscent of SMiLE.  Because of this fact, Landlocked is the heart of this reconstruction, and it’s related Beach Boys albums that never were (the ‘friends’) are assigned as bonus discs.  Disc Two reconstructs the February 18th, 1970 master of Add Some Music, with all Sunflower tracks taken from it’s (superior) 2012 remaster with the remainder from Feel Flows.  My cover art is based upon the actual unreleased cover art for Add Some Music (which was simply reused for Sunflower anyways).  

Disc Three reconstructs the June 19th, 1970 master of Reverberation, although I have made a few modifications to tie up it's loose ends: we will use the new stereo mix of “Cottonfields” from Feel Flows, as opposed to a duophonix mix; “Got To Know The Woman” is the standard stereo version from Sunflower as opposed to a mono mix; “When Girls Get Together” is the full remix from Feel Flows, rather than an instrumental version; “The Lord’s Prayer” is the proper stereo mix from Hawthorne, California, as opposed to a duophonic mix.  The rest of the songs are sourced from either the 2012 Sunflower or Feel Flows, except for the stereo remix of “Breakaway” from Made In California.  The cover art is my own creation.  

Disc Four is the real bonus here: my reconstruction of Dennis Wilson’s unfinished solo album Hubba Hubba (or Poops, if you will), recorded during the making of Surf’s Up.  Using the material from Feel Flows, as well as “Make It Good” from So Tough and “(Wouldn’t It Be Nice To) Live Again” from Made In California, I have assembled the material recorded during the 1971 sessions with Daryl Dragon (which thus excludes the 1970 single of “Sound of Free” and “Lady”) and organized them into two continuous suites of music for each side of the LP—which is what I believe Dennis and Daryl intended.  The result is half instrumental, but it gives you a clue as to what the pair were going for and what could have been.  The cover art is my own creation.

Sources Used: 

  • Feel Flows
  • Surf's Up (2012 remaster)
  • Sunflower (2012 remaster)
  • Hawthorne, California
  • Endless Harmony
  • Made In California
  • So Tough

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

Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Beatles - Imagine Clouds Dripping (UPGRADE)

The Beatles – Imagine Clouds Dripping

(a soniclovenoize re-imagining)

October 2021 UPGRADE



Side A:

1.  Back Off Boogaloo

2.  What is Life?

3.  Dear Boy

4.  Bangladesh

5.  Jealous Guy

6.  The Back Seat of My Car


Side B:

7.  Imagine

8.  Another Day

9.  Gimme Some Truth

10.  Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

11.  Oh My Love

12.  Isn’t It A Pity



Happy Halloween!  Here it is, my friends, an album that never was that is unrelated to Halloween!  This is an UPGRADE to the second re-imagined album in a series that posits “What if The Beatles never broke up?”  This collection would have theoretically been released near the end of 1971, and uses Lennon’s Imagine and McCartney’s RAM as it’s basis.  Additional tracks are pulled from Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and his “Bangladesh” single, and of course Ringo’s single “Back Off Boogaloo” as it was recorded in Fall 1971.  Notably, this upgrade uses the new All Things Must Pass remix, which sonically fits much closer to the other tracks.  The tracklist has been slightly revised as well, dropping “Power To The People” for “Gimme Some Truth”, which is admittedly more Beatles-esque and was actually familiar to The Beatles in 1969.  I have also replaced the Version II of “Isn’t It a Pity” with the more Beatle-esque Version I, edited to fit on the album. 


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


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

My original album notes from 2012, slightly revised:


This is the second in a series of albums that asks the question we’ve all asked at some time or another:  What if The Beatles never broke up?  This theoretical album attempts to cull the best of The Beatles solo material from 1971 (with some holdovers from All Things Must Pass) to create what could have been the band’s 1971 follow-up to my previous re-imagined Beatles album, Instant Karma!  This album is called Imagine Clouds Dripping, a surreal Yoko Ono quote that John had felt was particularly inspirational and sets the tone for a rather colorful album. 


The songs were chosen not only for quality but for what could continue to carry ‘the Beatles torch’.  While the solo members continued to stylistically diverge, there were always songs that could be described, in my opinion, as “Beatlesque” and we have the luxury of choosing those above the other more idiosyncratic numbers.  The best and least brickwalled/clipping remasters were chosen for source material, volume levels adjusted for song-to-song balance and all songs are tightly book-ended to make a continuous two sides of music.  Also, a completely unique edit of “Dear Boy” and “Bangladesh” is created when the two are hard-edited together, making them a medley. 


Musically, Imagine Clouds Dripping abandons the bare-bones arrangements on the previous re-imagining for the lush Phil Spector arrangements George had requested for his songs.  “What Is Life” and “Isn’t It A Pity” are all used on this album because they fit better with the RAM/Imagine contributions than with the Plastic Ono Band/McCartney contributions on the previous album.  Additionally, “Back Off Boogaloo” will be used as this album’s Ringo song, as it was recorded in September 1971, fitting in with RAM & Imagine’s timeline.  


So sit back, relax and imagine the following:  After the success of their first album of the 1970s, Instant Karma!, The Beatles regroup and focus diligently on a new album with some of their strongest songs since Abbey Road, often with grandiose arrangements from returning producer Phil Spector; Half-way through recording the album, George learns of the tragedy befallen in Bangla Desh and quickly writes a song in tribute that The Beatles record and release as a single; George organizes the Concert For Bangla Desh, at which The Beatles headline, marking their first live performance in two years; The positive experience of this concert gives The Beatles—particularly George and John—the courage to begin a limited-engagement European Tour in late 1971 in support of Imagine Clouds Dripping; The tour also features old friends Billy Preston on keyboards and Klaus Voormann who played bass when Paul was needed to play guitar or piano. 


The critics hail Imagine Clouds Dripping as one of the highest points of The Beatles career, comparing it to a second Sgt. Pepper.  There are a number of hit singles released throughout 1971, including “Imagine” with the non-LP B-side “Monkberry Moon Delight”, “Another Day” with the non-LP B-side “Crippled Inside” and “Jealous Guy” with the non-LP B-side “I Dig Love”.  And as aforementioned, “Bangla Desh” was released as a single to promote their concert, with the b-side “Smile Away.”  The success of The Beatles late 1971 European tour spurred them to plan an American tour in 1972, and a need for new material in the material world… 




George Harrison - All Things Must Pass (2021 50th Anniversary remaster)

John Lennon - Imagine (The Ultimate Collection, 2018 remaster) 

Paul McCartney – RAM (2012 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



Monday, September 27, 2021

Weezer - Songs From The Black Hole (upgrade)

Weezer – Songs From The Black Hole
(soniclovenoize reconstruction)


Act I, Scene 1:
1.  Blast Off!
2.  You Won’t Get With Me Tonight
3.  Maria’s Theme/Come To My Pod
4.  Tired of Sex

Act 1, Scene 2:
5.  Superfriend
6.  You Gave Your Love To Me Softly
7.  Waiting On You
8.  Tragic Girl

Act 2, Scene 1:
9.  She’s Had A Girl/Good News!/Now I Finally See
10.  Getchoo
11.  I Just Threw Out The Love of My Dreams

Act 2, Scene 2:
12.  No Other One
13.  Devotion
14.  What Is This I Find
15.  Why Bother?
16.  Longtime Sunshine

In honor of the 25th anniversary of Weezer’s influential sophomore album Pinkerton, this is a very long-overdue upgrade to my reconstruction of Songs From The Black Hole, the space rock opera which was the precursor to the album.  Originally meant as a literal opera which functioned as an allegory to Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo’s disenchantment from the band’s instant stardom, the album was scrapped and restructured into the seminal Pinkerton in 1996.  This updated reconstruction, using a combination of Weezer’s studio takes and Rivers’ demo tapes, more closely follows Cuomo’s actual script of the opera.  My own reconstruction of the final script is included here, pieced together from his notes included in The Pinkerton Diaries.  I have also created some cover and back artwork based on river’s sketches in his Diaries.  

With a slew of 1994 hits and lovable, quirky music videos including “Buddy Holly”, “Say It Ain’t So” and “The Sweater Song”, Weezer  seemed to fill the gap left by recently-departed Nirvana, merging Brian Wilson-esque songwriting with fuzzed-out grunge guitars.  The unlikely nerd rockers found themselves in the limelight after hashing it out in the LA club scene, with years of work and dedication paying off and their debut Blue Album becoming a 90s Alt-Rock classic.  But the band’s newfound fame seemed to be a burden for the anxious and introverted frontman Rivers Cuomo, overwhelmed with the reality of what he had always wished for.  

On a break from touring during around Thanksgiving 1994, Rivers charted out the bare bones of the band’s second release: a futuristic concept album about a rock band whose singer was dealing with the band’s popularity, as well as personal relationship issues with a “good girl” and a “bad girl”.  At first using a handful of already-written (and largely unrelated) newer Weezer songs (such as “Getchoo” and “Tired of Sex”), Rivers composed additional material to link the songs, including lyrics as dialog between characters: an actual rock opera.  After creating a rough draft of a script with no real ending, Rivers revised his concept that Christmas, turning the ‘band’ into a crew aboard the space ship Betsy II, on a mission to save the planet Nomis on the edge of a black hole.  At this time, Cuomo recorded demos of most of the rock opera, now titled Songs From The Black Hole.  

Throughout the first half of 1995, Rivers would continue to refine the Songs From The Black Hole concept, while rehearsing and recording segments of the cycle with his Weezer bandmates.  Since the entire lyric of the album were sung by different characters, it was decided that the different members of Weezer would sing for the various characters: Cuomo would sing for the protagonist, Jonas, the captain of the ship Betsy II; crewmate Wuan would be sung by guitarist Brian Bell; crewmate Dondo would be voiced by bassist Matt Sharp; roadie Karl Koch would voice a robot crew member M1, via a vocoder effect; “good girl” love interest Laurel would have been sung by Rachel Haden of the band that dog; “bad girl” love interest Maria would have been sung by Joan Wasser of the band Dambuilders; and Mike Stanton of the band Avant Gard would appear on the album as a pre-recorded message of a television host.  

While on tour in Germany that February, bassist Matt Sharp headed back to the United States due to a family emergency.  The remaining members recorded band demos of several SFTBH songs at a studio in Hamburg, notably the lead-off song “Blast Off!”.  By August, the band had formally entered Electric Lady Land Studios to track SFTBH, recording versions of “Blast Off!”, “Tired of Sex”, “You Gave Your Love To Me Softly”, “Waiting On You”, “Getchoo”, “I Just Threw Out The Love of My Dreams”, “No Other One”, “Devotion”, “Why Bother?” and “Longtime Sunshine”.  The recordings were much more raw and less polished than their debut Blue Album, as the band desired a “live in the studio” sound with minimal overdubs.  Anticipating a short break from the band due to Cuomo being enrolled into Harvard that September, Weezer booked a final recording session for Songs From The Black Hole in August at Fort Apache Studios in Boston.  Although left unfinished, they recorded new versions of “Tired of Sex”, “You Gave Your Love To Me Softly”, “Waiting On You”, “Getchoo”, “No Other One”, “Devotion” and “Why Bother?”. But a new event would shift the course of Songs From The Black Hole into self destruction and ultimately reinvention.  

While at Harvard that Fall, Cuomo began writing new songs that strayed greatly from the Songs From The Black Hole concept-- songs about his loneliness and isolation and a desire to return to simplicity and innocence.  Regrouping with the rest of the band in January 1996 at Sound City Studios, Weezer tracked two of these newer compositions “El Scorcho” and “Pink Triangle” (as well as newer versions of “Tired of Sex”, “Getchoo” and “No Other One”.  Basic tracks of “Superfriend” were finally attempted, but never completed, as seen in the 2004 Weezer DVD Video Capture Device).  Returning to Sound City on Rivers’ spring break, Weezer cut even newer compositions “Across The Sea”, “The Good Life”, “Falling For You” and “Butterfly.”  

By Summer break, the album was complete and now titled Pinkerton.  The Songs From The Black Hole concept was completely abandoned for that of SF Pinkerton from the opera Madame Butterfly, used as a metaphor for Cuomo’s own wanton access that lead to regret.  The tracklist was arranged to be (approximately) in the order in which they were written to illustrate Cuomo’s own emotional progress throughout the last two years.  The album was more immediate, personal and more musically raw in presentation than that of The Blue Album and was a turn-off for some (casual) fans.  Coupled with the simple fact that hype still had not died down from The Blue Album, Pinkerton was an often overlooked release in 1996.  In effect, Cuomo would be disenchanted from writing emotional, personal songs with a rawer production.  He would spend the next three years attempting to create a mathematical formula for the perfect pop song-- a concept that would actually see fruition on their third release, The Green Album, hailed as Weezer’s (first) great comeback.  

Meanwhile, Pinkerton was not exactly the failure that Cuomo saw it as.  Aside from actually hitting the Billboard Top 20 and spawning two hits, a new generation of fans embraced the unfiltered, personal lyrics and cut-throat production of the album and at the turn of the century, began playing a new, “emotional” version of punk rock; Pinkerton had become, intentionally or not, the godfather of the Emo movement.   

But for Weezer die-hard fans, the underlying allure of Pinkerton wasn't it’s influence, but it’s unheard precursor, Songs From The Black Hole.  After clamoring for it’s release for years, fans were treated to leaked demos of the project, often by Karl Koch himself, throughout the Napster years.  Pieces of SFTBH eventually found their way onto the first three volumes of the Alone series, compilations of Cuomo’s early demos, the third of which exclusively covered the SFTBH/Pinkerton era.  Finally, a Deluxe 20th Anniversary release of Pinkerton gave fans a handful of studio versions of the SFTBH project.  Is this enough to reconstruct a fairly accurate SFTBH?  

Not precisely.  The smoking gun was found in the 2011 book The Pinkerton Diaries, which included excerpts from three different drafts of Rivers’ original script for Songs From The Black Hole.  At first glance this would provide the best road map to reconstruct the rock opera, until we realize that the final draft was not only partially included, but some pages were out of order!  The first step in reconstructing SFTBH is to reconstruct Rivers’ script; from there, we will be able to make a more accurate audio version of SFTBH.  To do this, we will be taking the third script draft as a base, and using clues from the previous two drafts to fill in the blanks and correct the page order.  Through this process, we will observe that neither Rivers nor Weezer actually recorded few of the crucial songs for the album: “She’s a Liar”, “Touch Down!”, “Special Thanks” and “I Don’t Belong.”  Along with my standard audio, I am also including my own reconstruction of the SFTBH script, which will note the missing, unrecorded songs in red text. 

Act 1, Scene 1 of Songs From The Black Hole opens with “Blast Off!” from the Pinkerton Deluxe, with the piano intro from “Longtime Sunshine” used as an introduction; note my addition of M1’s count down using the vocoder setting on a MicroKORG, if I may be so bold.  The song sets the stage as five astronauts and a robot head to the planet Nomis, on the edge of a black hole.  The captain Jonas notices Maria, whom they knew in the Academy...  “Who You Callin’ Bitch” is not used in the third draft, so we are going directly into “You Won’t Get With Me Tonight”, the channels swapped to match the panning of “Blast Off!”.  Next is “Oh Jonas/Come To My Pod” from Alone II, in which Maria seduces Jonas; “Please Remember” is excluded, as it was dropped from the third draft of the script.  This follows directly into the early version of “Tired of Sex” from the Pinkerton Deluxe, in which Jonas regrets his decision to hook up with Maria; note that “Oh No This Is Not For Me”  is excluded as it was dropped from the third draft of the script, with Rivers noting “Come To My Pod” should flow into the feedback intro of “Tired of Sex.”  

Act 1, Scene 2 begins with Jonas confiding to Laurel about his dissatisfaction with his relationship with Maria on “Superfriend” from Alone.  They realize they both like each other and hook up themselves in “You Gave Your Love To Me Softly” from the Pinkerton Deluxe.  Maria comes to Jonas’s pod (room) to tell him she’s pregnant with his child, but instead hears him fooling around with Laurel!  The unrecorded “Oh Jonas (I Hear You)” acts as a link to “Waiting On You” from the Pinkerton Deluxe, sung by Maria.  The three then confront each other in the unrecorded “She’s a Liar”, which I presume is a reworking of “Please Remember.”  Choosing to leave Laurel for his fatherly duties with Maria, Jonas laments his situation in “Tragic Girl”, from the Pinkerton Deluxe; note it is likely that the actual SFTBH version of “Tragic Girl” would have had a fairly different set of lyrics, but here we will use the glorious studio version, still somewhat relevant.  

Act 1, Scene 2 features a time jump, where Jonas and Maria’s daughter is born to Jonas’s lamentation in “She’s Had a Girl” from Alone III.  Wuan and Dondo announce the ship has finally arrived to Nomis in “Dude, We’re Finally Landing” from Alone I, followed by Jonas’s epiphany that he does want Laurel in “Now I Finally See” from Alone III.  Of course Laurel rejects him in the early version of “Getchoo” from the Pinkerton Deluxe, although she immediately regrets her decision in “I Just Threw Out The Love of My Dreams”-- the only SFTBH song to actually feature Rachel Haden singing her character.

Act 2, Scene 2 sees Jonas resolving to be with Maria in “No Other One” from the Pinkerton Deluxe, followed by the unrecorded “Touch Down!”, clearly a musical reprise of “Blast Off!”  While Wuan, Dondo and M1 investigate the planet Nomis, Jonas finally pledges his love for Maria in “Devotion” from the Pinkerton Deluxe.  Unfortunately, he sees a used condom in her pod, as heard in “What Is This I Find” from Alone III!  Jonas is ultimately defeated by both Maria and Laurel and claims “Why Bother?” from the Pinkerton Deluxe.  Meanwhile on the planet surface, the crew find a prerecorded message on an unmanned satellite (which was supposed to be voiced by Mike Stanton) explaining that the crew’s entire mission was simply a reality-based TV show; this would have been featured in the unrecorded song “Special Thanks”, which Rivers described as a Sonic Youth-type of noise jam.  Mike explains that while there was no actual mission, there is an actual immediate danger as Nomis is about to be sucked into a black hole.  Luckily, there are five transports to carry the five human crew members to safety (sorry M1).  With the realization that with his new baby, they are one transport short and someone must stay behind, Jonas sacrifices his life for his daughter by giving his transport to her.  This is explained in the unrecorded “I Don’t Belong” and I have extrapolated the lyrics to this, based upon the melody of “Now I Finally See.”  As Jonas watches the crew escape, he awaits his eminent death by singularity.  Jonas then realizes that neither the love of Maria nor Laurel mattered, but only his love for his own daughter, and he sings “Longtime Sunshine” from the Pinkerton Deluxe as the planet is destroyed.  

Sources used:
Rivers Cuomo – Alone: The Home Demos of Rivers Cuomo (2007)
Rivers Cuomo – Alone II: The Home Demos of Rivers Cuomo (2008)
Rivers Cuomo – Alone III: The Pinkerton Years (2010)
Weezer – Pinkerton (deluxe edition, 2010)

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

Friday, August 27, 2021

The Beatles - Instant Karma! UPGRADE

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

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

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

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

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


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

My original album notes from 2012:

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

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

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

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

Sources used:

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

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

Monday, July 5, 2021

Tom Petty - Wildflowers (Double Album)


 Tom Petty – Wildflowers
(soniclovenoize double album reconstruction)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, May 1, 2021

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


Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band – 

It Comes To You In a Plain Brown Wrapper

(soniclovenoize reconstruction)


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

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

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

Side B:
3. Korn Ring Finger
4. Tarotplane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 8, 2021

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

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

10/12/21 FIX

Disc 1 – Human Highway (1974 configuration)

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

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

Disc 2 – Human Highway (1976 configuration)

Side A:

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

Side B:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special thanks to Mark Heggen for the artwork remastering!

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

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