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Ziggy Stardust Recovered (1972)

June 9th, 2022 8 comments

Ziggy

Next week, on June 16, it will be 50 years since the release of David Bowie’s landmark album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I recovered that album some years ago, and posted the story behind the cover to go with it. I’m reposting that story with that first Ziggy Stardust Recovered mix — but I have made a NEW Ziggy Stardust Re-recovered mix. So download them and mix-and-match to your preference.

There is a sweet irony in the cover picture of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: the alien superstar is photographed in a seedy sidestreet in London’s West End, not a glitzy glamour spot. Instead of shining brightly in a metallic science fiction wonderland, the monochrome photo is hand-coloured in the way of postcards from the turn of the last century.

The cover holds not the promise of the story we are coming to hear, but its denouement: Ziggy has come back down to earth as David Bowie. There’s trash, there’s rain, there’s a bin, there’s the sign of the furrier K. West, where the fiction of left-handed Ziggy and the fact of Bowie, holding his guitar right-handed, come together.

Or that’s how I choose to see it. The story of Ziggy Stardust is vague enough to let you project your own ideas upon it. In fact, by writing about the cover, by stripping away a veneer of its mystique, I may be depriving you, if you do not know the story of the cover, of your ability to freely project. Read on at your own peril.

What we will find is that the story of the cover is rather ordinary. The photo was taken on a cold January night in 1972 in Soho’s Heddon Street, then an insalubrious sidestreet, but today a fashionable pedestrian zone. The photographer was Brian Ward, who had studio in the street.

He took 17 photos that night, including the back cover shot of Ziggy/Bowie in the telephone booth. The front cover pic was taken at house number 23, under the big sign for K. West. Apparently Bowie turned up (with a posse of two girls), posed for a few minutes, and quickly disappeared into the rainy night, leaving Ward to develop his black-and-white photos. Did Bowie feel like Ziggy in “Five Years”? “It was cold and it rained and I felt like an actor.”

ziggy-bwThe winning shot was colourised, giving the jumpsuit a blue hue when it was, in fact, green. Have look at all 17 photos of the session at the Five Years site (from which I’ve borrowed one here).

As for the signs on the wall? They were for Paquerette Dresses (4th Floor), Ramar Dresses Ltd (3rd Floor), International Wool Secretariat, Cravats Ltd (main entrance), and T.H. Ferris (2nd Floor)

So, to mark the Ziggy anniversary, here are the two track-by-track mixes of Ziggy covers. Every track of the album is performed in sequence by various artists. On the first Ziggy Stardust Recovered mix, two tracks are by Bowie himself. One is from the famous Hammersmith Odeon concert at which he killed off Ziggy Stardust — obviously the final track, Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide — the other a new mix of the largely uncovered Star. In fact, there’s a third Bowie number: The Arnold Corns was a Bowie project on which he test-drove some Ziggy tracks a year before he gave birth to the alien superstar. They feature on both the Ziggy Stardust Recovered and Ziggy Stardust Re-Recovered mixes. One song on the album was a cover itself: It Ain’t Easy was a Ron Davies song. The cover of that on the Recovered mix also precedes the Ziggy LP.

Obviously, each mix will fit on a standard CD-R. I’ve not made home-ziggied covers, but the text above is included in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

ZIGGY STARDUST RE-RECOVERED
1. Old 97’s – Five Years (2010)
2. Cerys Matthews – Soul Love (2006)
3. The Chameleons – Moonage Daydream (2002)
4. Culture Club – Starman (1999)
5. Claudia Lennear – It Ain’t Easy (1973)
6. Midge Ure – Lady Stardust (2008)
7. Cuff The Duke – Star (2013)
8. The Arnold Corns – Hang On To Yourself (1971)
9. Def Leppard – Ziggy Stardust (1995)
10. Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Suffragette City (1986)
11. Black Box Recorder – Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide (2000)

ZIGGY STARDUST RECOVERED
1. The Polyphonic Spree – Five Years (2002)
2. Marti Jones – Soul Love (1986)
3. The Arnold Corns – Moonage Daydream (1971)
4. Leningrad Cowboys – Starman (2006)
5. Three Dog Night – It Ain’t Easy (1970)
6. Seu Jorge – Lady Stardust (2005)
7. David Bowie – Star (40th Anniversary Mix) (1972/2012)
8. Contraband – Hang On To Yourself (1991)
9. Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust (1982)
10. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Suffragette City (2012)
11. David Bowie – Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide (live) (1973)

GET IT! or HERE!

 

More great cover art
More great cover versions

Joni Mitchell’s Blue Recovered

June 30th, 2021 3 comments

 

 

I have a terrible confession to make: I find it difficult to listen to Joni Mitchell when she hits those high notes. I know the loss of mine: Mitchell obviously is a great interpreter of her lyrics, and because her lyrics are so personal, the obviously most authentic one. Moreover, few singers convey irony in the way Mitchell does. And yet, I struggle with her singing — whereas I tolerate the far less accomplished warblings of other singers; Dylan being an obvious example.

To me, Joni Mitchell (in her folk period, at least) is like broccoli: a lot of people love it, and it’s really good for you. But I’d rather eat string beans. I do like the look of broccoli though. And to swing the vegetable metaphor back to the artist, I love many of Mitchell’s songs. And I own several Mitchell albums.

It’s a tribulation that manifests itself this year in particular, as the world marks the 50th anniversary of Joni Mitchell’s Blue album. In previous months I marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark albums Tapestry and What’s Going On by recovering them. Blue is in their landmark league, and like the albums released by Carole King in February 1971 and Marvin Gaye in May that year, was so upon its release on 22 June 1971. It broke a mold: here was a high-profile album by an independent woman singing lyrics that were highly personal and at times brutally honest. And her experiences and that candidness with which she expressed the freedom she asserted in song — in her life and in her travels — gave a voice to women who could identify with or at least aspire to them.

 

 

Given all that, recovering Blue seems a task of necessity. Having done so has allowed me to appreciate the genius of the album without the distraction of my voice hang-up. The past 20 years have seen a great number of covers. Strangely, between the late 1970s and mid-’90s, there seemed to be a widespread reluctance to cover songs from Blue, even the much-covered River and A Case Of You. So on this mix, there is a gap between early/mid-1970s and the late-1990s.

The most surprising cover here is by Nazareth, whose version of This Flight Tonight is a proper reworking. Apparently its riff inspired the more famous one of Heart’s Barracuda. Conversely, the most faithful cover here is that by Goldie Hawn’s of Carey (the song which I’d pick as my favourite on Blue). Turns out, Goldie could sing.

The “best” cover here might be Prince doing A Case Of You (strange that I love a good falsetto, but not soprano). Or maybe Brandi Carlile, that dedicated and superb interpreter of Mitchell’s songs, singing Blue’s rawest song, Little Green, live on a webcast in July 2020. Her high notes I do like, just to prove the randomness of my Joni problem (Listen to Carlile’s amusing Joni story). And Dianne Reeves’ version of River is quite outstanding. I add Rosie Thomas’ lovely version as a bonus.

The Supremes version of Blue’s opener, All I Want, was arranged and produced by Jimmy Webb, who will feature prominently here in a couple of week’s time. That mix will include a song from the same album that featured the song here.

The star of Joni Mitchell is always the lyrics. So here are ten songs of those wonderful words recovered, with home-dulcimered covers. PW in comments.

1. The Supremes – All I Want (1972)
2. Mandy Lagan – My Old Man (2018) BUY
3. Brandi Carlile – Little Green (2020)
4. Goldie Hawn – Carey (1972)
5. Cat Power – Blue (2008)
6. Wilson Phillips – California (2004)
7. Nazareth – This Flight Tonight (1973)
8. Dianne Reeves – River (1999)
9. Prince – A Case Of You (2007)
10. Legião Urbana – The Last Time I Saw Richard (1999)

GET IT!

More Recovered albums:
Tapestry
What’s Going On
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Every Beatles album

More Cover Mixes:
Bob Dylan Songbooks
John Prine Songbook
Bill Withers Songbook
Bruce Springsteen Songbook
Steely Dan Songbook
Leonard Cohen Songbook
Elvis Presley Songbook
Chuck Berry Songbook
ABBA Songbook

And check out the Covered With Soul series

What’s Going On Recovered

May 25th, 2021 4 comments

 

On May 21, it was 50 years since the release of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On LP, an album that broke the mould.

It certainly broke Motown’s rules, which preferred its artists to be apolitical — social commentary was permissible if it brought in cash, as it did with Edwin Starr’s War or The Temptations’ Ball Of Confusion or Gaye’s own cover of Dion’s Abraham, Martin & John. But Marvin Gaye wasn’t proposing an album of politics you can dance or sing along to; quite the contrary. This was a meandering exercise in quiet reflection on social ills, from economic inequality to drug abuse to racism to war to the ecology. Even Gil Scott-Heron provided some light relief on his Pieces Of A Man, recorded the month before What’s Going On came out (like Gaye’s album, it also featured a track titled Save The Children).

Motown also wasn’t in a habit of issuing concept albums. What’s Going On is just that — it is a reflection on various social ills from the perspective of a Vietnam veteran, a proxy for Gaye’s own brother Frankie. Gaye’s Christian faith permeates the exercise, not only in the song God Is Love but in its hopeful tone that the mess we’re in now can be redeemed.

What’s Going On is a song cycle LP, with one song fading into another, almost like a jazz concept album. That wasn’t the clean-cut, vigorous Marvin with his beautiful smile; this was a troubled man in a depressive state, surrounded by toxic people, facing a hostile world. At one point, Gaye had contemplated suicide. He was talked off the proverbial ledge by Berry Gordy Sr — evidently a better father than the one Marvin had.Just as Gaye was becoming sensitised to the politics of social justices, so was Obie Benson of The Four Tops. After witnessing the brutal suppression of an anti-war demo at Berkeley, he and Motown songwriter Al Cleveland wrote what would become What’s Going On, the song. The other Four Tops were not interested in a protest song, but over a game of golf, Benson offered it to Gaye, who took the song and then added his own tweaks to it.

The final version of the song was a series of happy accidents, with its saxophone into and multi-layered voices. Motown wasn’t going to release it — too political, too jazzy — but executives Harry Balk and Barney Ales managed to swing a single release in January 1971. It turned out to become Motown’s fastest-selling single ever. Now Berry Gordy Jr was interested, and gave Gaye until the end of March to record whatever he wanted. That was unprecedented at Motown, and would encourage Stevie Wonder to demand full creative control when time came to renew his Motown contract a year later.

To his credit, Gordy backed the final result of What’s Going On, even if it delivered little obvious potential for hit singles, unlike Stevie Wonder’s album Where I’m Coming From, released in April 1971, on which personal and socially conscious material is leavened with traditional love-song tracks like If You Really Love Me or Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer. Happily for Gordy, What’s Going On yielded two more Top 10 hits, Mercy Mercy Me and Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler).

What’s Going On was a very different album from others on Motown in content, and it was different in its cover art. The cover was designed by Curtis McNair, who was responsible for hundreds of Motown covers, with photographs by Jim Hendin. The latter had presented several photos he had taken of Gaye in the singer’s Detroit backyard (note the kids’ swing on the back cover). It was a wet winter’s day. Sleet settled on Marvin’s hair, water on his coat, and Gaye is looking pensively into the distance, as if trying to make sense of all this madness. But there is a little smile trying to emerge: this man is sad but strangely hopeful. Physically, Gaye is no longer the pretty face of the 1960s, but the beard accentuates those beautiful dark eyes. He looks mature and sensual. See more Hendin photos here.

Recovering What’s Going On is not entirely easy, and it required the inclusion of a song that’s not on the LP, I Want You, since it is part of a two-song medley by Robert Palmer. The only version of Flying High I was happy to use was that by Dizzy Gillespie (or that by Everette Harp, who covered the whole album in 1997, but I need him to feature with God Is Love). But Gillespie’s instrumental comes with Save The Children. That track, however, must feature with its lyrics, so the great Marlena Shaw reprises that song, with lyrics. I think Marvin Gaye would approve.

There are two final contenders for the title track which I found difficult to choose between. But since the album ends with a reprise of What’s Going On, the “losing” contender can go there.

As ever, CD-R length, home-conceptualised covers. Text above in an illustrated PDF. PW in comments.

1. Donny Hathaway – What’s Goin’ On (live, 1971)
2. Keb’ Mo’ – What’s Happening Brother (2004)
3. Dizzy Gillespie – Flyin’ High (In The Friendly Sky)/Save The Children (1988)
4. Marlena Shaw – Save The Children (1972)
5. Everette Harp – God Is Love (1997)
6. Robert Palmer – Mercy Mercy Me/I Want You (1990)
7. Sons Of Slum – Right On (1971)
8. John Legend & The Roots – Wholy Holy (2010)
9. Gil Scott-Heron – Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler) (1981)
10. The Undisputed Truth – What’s Going On (1971)

GET IT! or HERE!

 

More Recovered albums:
Tapestry
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Every Beatles album

More Cover Mixes:
Bob Dylan Songbooks
John Prine Songbook
Bill Withers Songbook
Bruce Springsteen Songbook
Steely Dan Songbook
Leonard Cohen Songbook
Elvis Presley Songbook
Chuck Berry Songbook
ABBA Songbook

And check out the Covered With Soul series

Tapestry Recovered

February 9th, 2021 11 comments

February 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the great Tapestry album by Carole King, prompting the repost of this piece from 2012. It is one of the defining LPs of the early 1970s, and for me one of the go-to albums, perhaps the go-to album, if I do not know what else to play.

By the time Carole King released Tapestry she already was a veteran in the music business, having been a teenage songwriter for Aldon Music at 1650 Broadway (and the subject of Neil Sedaka’s hit Oh Carol; she responded with an answer record titled Oh Neil). She was 18 when she had her first #1 as a songwriter, with The Shirelles’ version of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow in 1961. In the ten years between that and the release of Tapestry she had a prolific songwriting career, but as a recording artist she had only a minor hit with It Might As Well Rain Till September. Her uneven 1970 debut album, Writer, was a commercial disappointment; it has many bright spots, but cannot nearly compare with the sublime perfection of Tapestry.

So when Tapestry became a critical triumph and a mammoth hit after its release in February 1971, topping the US album charts for 15 weeks, it was something of a surprise.

 

Jim McCrary in 1978

The cover photo was taken by Jim McCrary (who died in 2012) in the living room of her house at 8815 Appian Way in Laurel Canyon (McCrary’s website says it was at Wonderland Avenue; he also took the photo of the cover for Music, the location of which he identified as being on Appian Way). At first sight it is an unremarkable shot. A woman in her late 20s sits on a windowsill. The photo is in soft focus. And yet, the image is compelling. Viewing it feels like an intrusion into an intimate moment, a woman feeling at peace in her domain. Her bare feet suggest that we are not really invited into this domestic scene; if we came knocking at her door, she might put on footwear and her serene body language might change. And the cat would scram and hide.

The feline, who went by the name of Telemachus, was not there by accident, as it would appear. It may spoil the enjoyment of the cover a little to know that the tabby was a spontaneously employed prop. McCrary later recalled seeing Telemachus sleeping on his pillow across the room. Recalling a Kodak survey which revealed that after children, cats were the most popular photo subject, he asked King whether he could use the cat in a photo. “I saw a cat, and I wanted to get something good,” he remembered. Having ascertained that the cat was tame, he carried Telemachus on his pillow to the window ledge. He managed to take three photos before the cat, no doubt annoyed at having been awoken, had enough and made tracks. But McCrary had the perfect shot: the barefoot Carole with sunlight filtering upon her, holding a tapestry that she was busy creating, and her cat sitting in front of her, as if guarding the singer.

A remastered version of Tapestry was re-released in 2008 with a bonus CD featuring all but one of the tracks of the album in live versions, recorded between 1973 and 1976. It is highly recommended. The back-cover of it (pictured above) features another photo from the McCrary session.Here’s a mix of cover versions of the songs of Tapestry, with an appearance by Carole King from that bonus CD, in their original tracklisting order. Given my bias for soul covers, many of them are of that genre. Most were recorded soon after the release of Tapestry. One of the exceptions is the cover of Way Over Yonder by David Roe, a New Orleans street musician. Fans of The Originals will be interested in Kate Taylor’s version of Home Again, which was released shortly before Tapestry came out. Finally, the vocals on the Quincy Jones version of Smackwater Jack are by, unusually, Quincy himself.

TRACKLISTING
1. Carole King – I Feel The Earth Move (live) (1973)
2. Marlena Shaw – So Far Away (1972)
3. Mike James Kirkland – It’s Too Late (1972)
4. Kate Taylor – Home Again (1971)
5. Barbra Streisand – Beautiful (1971)
6. David Roe – Way Over Yonder (2004)
7. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – You’ve Got A Friend (1972)
8. Faith Hill – Where You Lead (1995)
9. Zulema – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (1972)
10. Quincy Jones – Smackwater Jack (1971)
11. Jackie & Roy – Tapestry (1972)
12. Laura Nyro & Labelle – (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Live) (1971)
BONUS: The Isley Brothers – It’s Too Late (1972)

GET IT! or HERE!

 

More Cover Mixes
Previous great covers
More CD-R Mixes

With The Beatles Recovered

December 8th, 2020 6 comments

 

Forty years ago tonight I decided to give the “Blue Album” of The Beatles, the 1967-70 compilation, a spin. Strawberry Fields Forever still skipped, and I still skipped Old Brown Shoe, a song I have never liked. I don’t recall what made me revisit The Beatles that night, but the LP was still on my turntable next morning.

That morning I had just awoken to the news on the radio alarm clock. I was in the motion of sitting up when the news reader announced that John Lennon had been murdered overnight. I sank back. How on earth do Beatles get assassinated? And John Lennon, my favourite who had just released his long-awaited comeback single? Unthinkable.

But I had to rouse myself to go to school. At the age of 14, you don’t have the option of exercising discretion in making grief over the murder of a celebrity the reason for your absence from the reception of an education. True to form, the assholes I went to school with “congratulated” me and the other Beatles fan in our class on the death of Lennon.

That other fan, let’s call him Tommy (it’s close enough), and I had never been friends. Now we bonded over the death of Lennon, and became very good friends, a friendship that lasted until I moved away two years later and we lost touch. Tommy, whom I have encountered again of Facebook, is still a dedicated Beatles fanatic, unconditionally loyal to the cherished memory of St Lennon. I never lost my love for The Beatles, though I’d be hardpressed to join Tommy in canonising John Lennon.

Lennon’s canonisation was inevitable, given his charisma, his musical genius, and the nature of his death. He was one of music’s martyrs, and hagiography allowed for no taint on his tale. I won’t go into the complexities of Lennon’s character, but I’ll say as much as that there was much to admire, and some things that were not. Like JFK, John Lennon had feet of clay.

Two months ago, on Lennon’ 80th birthday in October, I posted the Please, Please Me Recovered mix. Now, on the 40th anniversary of his murder, I offer the final Beatles Recovered collection, of With The Beatles, the group’s second album which was released in the UK on November 22, 1963. This brings to a close a six-year-long series of all Beatles albums in cover versions, in the song sequence of the original LPs (and posted on the 50th anniversary of their release).

It all started in 2014 with Beatles For Sale, which many regard as The Beatles’ weakest album. But it features so many superb tracks that it can’t be dismissed as easily as that. To my mind, With The Beatles is the group’s poorest album, but the one with the best cover (I wrote about the making of the cover some years ago).

Six of the 14 tracks were covers (those featured in this mix all came out after the Beatles versions). Of the own compositions, two of the first three tracks stand out — All My Loving and It Won’t Long — thereafter it’s hard to spot any classics, other, perhaps, than I Wanna Be Your Man, which The Beatles lent to the Rolling Stones for their first Top 20 hit. But, with one exception, those uncelebrated tracks aren’t bad. They just are not the level of genius as some of the songs that followed, and a coupler are improved in the cover versions here. The exception is Harrison’s Don’t Bother Me is a contender for worst Beatles song of all, in lyrics, musically, in production, and in George’s off-key singing. One night argue that Hold Me Tight is not very good either, but on this mix Count Basie turns it into great jazz tune.

I Wanna Be Your Man is represented in this collection by Suzi Quatro, in her 1973 glam rock pomp. Suzi didn’t bother to adapt the gender, though she sings the word “man” with a knowing wink. Well, Ringo sang The Shirelles’ Boys without changing gender, so why shouldn’t Quatro?

Two Beatles classics of songs didn’t find their way on to the album: I Want To Hold Your Hand, with the flip side being the gorgeous This Boy (in the UK and Europe). The former is represented on this mix by the Sparks, but I include another version as a bonus. It’s by Enoch Light and His Orchestra, who I like to think inspired for the name Electric Light Orchestra (who also feature here). This Boy closes the mix, and in Joe Bataan’s version, it is perhaps the highlight of this collection.

And with that, all Beatles albums have been recovered. Homebeatled covers and this whole text in illustrated PDF included. PW in comments.

1. Billy Cross – It Won’t Be Long (1986)
2. Louise Goffin – All I’ve Got To Do (1979)
3. Matt Monro – All My Loving (1965)
4. Gregory Phillips – Don’t Bother Me (1965)
5. Sonny Curtis – Little Child (1965)
6. Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston – Till There Was You (1965)
7. Carpenters – Please Mr Postman (1975)
8. Electric Light Orchestra – Roll Over Beethoven (1972)
9. Count Basie and His Orchestra – Hold Me Tight (1966)
10. William Bell – You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me (1977)
11. Suzi Quatro – I Wanna Be Your Man (1973)
12. Los Reno – Con el diablo en mi corazón (Devil In Her Heart) (1965)
13. Pretenders – Not A Second Time (1990)
14. Flying Lizards – Money (1979)
15. Sparks – I Want To Hold Your Hand (1976)
16. Joe Bataan – This Boy (1972)
Bonus Track:
Enoch Light and His Orchestra – I Want To Hold Your Hand (1964)

GET IT! or HERE!

On earlier versions, the Matt Munro track was corrupted. If your version has a long silence, try this one.

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: Please, Please Me
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

MORE BEATLES STUFF!

Categories: Albums Recovered, Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Beatles Recovered: Please Please Me

October 8th, 2020 8 comments

On 9 October, John Lennon would have turned 80. It’s a troubling math: the original rock & rollers are all octogenarians, or are inexorably heading that way (some, of course, already are nonagenarians). But then, almost all original punks are in their sixties now. And the punks would have been children when The Beatles first hit the scene in 1962/63.

After the initially stuttering success of first single, Love Me Do, the four lads from Liverpool suddenly exploded to become a phenomenon. Nobody had an idea about what incredible history would be launched when The Beatles — aged between 22 and 19 — entered the EMI studios in London’s Abbey Road in 1962 to record their first couple of sides, nor even when they returned on 11 February to record the rest of their debut album.

For the accomplished George Martin, it apparently was an act of penance to be assigned the job of producing these raw amateurs. It didn’t matter much that they didn’t have much material of their own; it was standard to record cover versions as fillers, and that first album was full of them: Anna, Chains, Boys, Baby It’s You, A Taste Of Honey, Twist And Shout (hear the originals of these at …..).

But they also had self-written songs which suggested that these boys McCartney and Lennon had something special. Love Me Do, Please Please Me, I Saw Her Standing There, Do You Want to Know A Secret, or PS I Love You are all excellent to very good songs. Even Ask Me Why, There’s A Place and Misery are not bad, though quite forgettable.

Most of the album was recorded, almost as a live set, on that single day on 11 February 1963. By then, Love Me Do had peaked at #17, and Please Please Me was climbing up the charts, were it would peak at #2. The album cover still suggested Love Me Do was the drawcard, but more or less coinciding with the LP’s release, From Me To You broke big, the first of 11 consecutive #1s.

So here we have Please Please Me recovered, with Carole King singing her composition Chains — which The Beatles covered from The Cookies — and Sonny Curtis giving Do You Want To Know A Secret a flamenco treatment. Towards the end it all becomes a bit novelty, with Mae West drawling her way through From Me To You in the Christmas spirit — you want to hear it, but not for the appreciation of excellence of vocal.

I’m adding the non-album single tracks of the Please Please Me era, particularly She Loves You. Here it is performed by 1980s English comedian Ted Chippington, whose stand-up relied on his delivery of jokes so bad that some idiots would heckle him — and these trapped dupes would be the subject of his jokes. Seeing Chippington in action was a delight. As is his She Loves You, which fuses the Peter Sellers of the past with the Richard Cheese of the future. (The teutonic Sellers version is included as a bonus track.)

As always, CD-R length, home-yeah-yeahed covers. PW in comments.

1. Jerry Garcia – I Saw Her Standing There (1982)
2. Flamin’ Groovies – Misery (1976)
3. The Tams – Anna (Go To Him) (1964)
4. Carole King – Chains (1980)
5. Lee Curtis & The All Stars – Boys (1965)
6. Les Lionceaux – Je suis fou (Ask Me Why) (1964)
7. Mary Wells – Please Please Me (1965)
8. Sandie Shaw – Love Me Do (1969)
9. Keely Smith – P.S. I Love You (1965)
10. Smith – Baby, It’s You (1969)
11. Sonny Curtis – Do You Want To Know A Secret (1964)
12. Sarah Vaughan – A Taste Of Honey (1965)
13. The Smithereens – There’s A Place (2008)
14. The Miracles – Twist And Shout (1963)
15. Mae West – With Love From Me To You (1966)
16. Ted Chippington – She Loves You (1986)
17. The Merseyboys – I’ll Get You (1964)

GET IT! or HERE!

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

Categories: Albums Recovered, Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Beatles Recovered: Let It Be

May 8th, 2020 8 comments

Fifty years ago on May 8, the final Beatles album was released, almost a month after Paul McCartney had announced that the band had split. If proof was needed that The Beatles had reached the end of the road, this uneven set seemed to provide it.

Of course, most of it was recorded before the masterful Abbey Road, so who can tell how much juice was still in that apple. Be that as it may, Let It Be was the swansong. The last bit of work was done in February 1970, with Paul and George doing some tinkering with I Me Mine, which had been recorded in January 1970, without John’s contribution.

Few fans will list Let It Be as their favourite Beatles album, and only a few tracks on it were widely covered. Naturally, the three stand-out McCartney were liberally covered: Get Back, The Long And Winding Road and the title track. Others found few takers: Dig A Pony, I Me Mine, One After 909, For You Blue…

Still, what we have here is a pretty decent compilation. Even the superfluous Dig It, from Laibach’s song-by-song copy of Let It Be, is, at least, interesting.

One of the artists featured here as a cover act actually played with The Beatles during that period. Billy Preston was even co-credited on Get Back, though that song is featured here in the cover by Motown songstress Chris Clark (released after the single was out and before the LP was released). On his 1970 LP Encouraging Words, Preston covered I’ve Got A Feeling (he also played, uncredited, on the Beatles version), as well as Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and the first recording of My Sweet Lord.

Harrison’s song For Your Blue is covered here by his son Dhani; and on David Bowie’s cover of Across The Universe, we have John Lennon playing guitar.

One track here isn’t even a cover, but precedes Let It Be by 13 years. The version of Maggie Mae — a traditional song from Liverpool which was the first non-Beatles composition the group recorded since Act Naturally on Help! — is by the The Vipers Skiffle Group, a very popular skiffle outfit in the 1950s that was at times produced by… George Martin. Their Maggie May was the b-side of the Top 10 hit The Cumberland Gap; it seems plausible that the young Beatles were familiar with this recording.

So this brings to an end this series of Beatles albums covered song-by-song, all posted on the 50th anniversary of each album. But I got into it only in 2014 with A Hard Days’ Night. I’m playing with the thought of recovering the first two albums.

1. R. Dean Taylor – Two Of Us (1970)
2. California Guitar Trio – Dig A Pony (2016)
3. David Bowie – Across The Universe (1975)
4. Beth Orton – I Me Mine (2010)
5. Laibach – Dig It (1988)
6. Bill Withers – Let It Be (1971)
7. The Vipers Skiffle Group – Maggie Mae (1957)
8. Billy Preston – I’ve Got A Feeling (1970)
9. Willie Nelson – One After 909 (1995)
10. Ray Charles – The Long And Winding Road (1971)
11. Dhani Harrison – For You Blue (2013)
12. Chris Clark – Get Back (1969)

GET IT!

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles

Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)
Beatles Reunited: ’77 (1977)
Beatles Reunited: Let It See (1980)

More Beatles stuff

Categories: Albums Recovered, Beatles Tags:

Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road

September 26th, 2019 11 comments

 

September 26 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road, the album which many regard as The Beatles’ true masterpiece. I count myself among those, even as I prefer to listen to Help. Abbey Road certainly was an audacious album, with its collection of half-finished songs on Side 2.

And what a collection of half-finished songs they are. Because none of them were singles or feature on compilations, they are The Beatles’ “hidden” treasures. The people who feature here obviously saw the genius that runs through the medley, and most covered these tracks as songs in their own, full right.

It is Side 2 that deserves genius status, from Here Comes The Sun — the side’s only fully-fledged song — to The End (we’ll disregard McCartney’s silly coda to the queen as the unnecessary gimmick of a royalist toady which it was). Side 1 is rather hit-and-miss. Of course, Something is a stone-cold classic, and Come Together is great, if you don’t get annoyed by it. But until the great slow-burning blues of I Want You, with its moog-created wind effect, there’s a trio of entirely dispensable songs.

Of those, Paul’s attempt at doing soul, Oh Darling, can be said to have some value, but the Yellow Submarine sequel Octopus’s Garden is a weak point on the album. Some suggest that Ringo’s song is still better than Paul’s murder ballad Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Here Paul again went into dancehall mode, as he did on Sgt Pepper’s with When I’m 64 and on the White Album with Honey Pie.

Not surprisingly, few artists have bothered to cover Maxwell’s Silver Hammer with great seriousness. The version here is in German by a Brazilian singer called Teddy Lee who seems to have been part of The Rotations, who had an early 1970s hit in Europe with Ra-Ta-Ta. His version is what the song deserves: not lacking in respect, but nothing that merits huge respect either.

On the other hand, the great a cappella band The Persuasions deliver an appealing version of Octopus’s Garden, and Oh Darling produced three strong contenders. In the event, I picked Roberta Flack’s slow-burning version over those by Joy Unlimited and The Persuasions (whose lead singer Jerry Lawson died shortly after I compiled this mix).

There are four bonus tracks of songs which The Beatles released on single during the Abbey Road timeframe. Of those, Get Back gets a gratuitous airing, since it will reappear (in a different version, obviously) on Let It Be Recovered.

As ever, CD-R mix, home-zebracrossed covers. PW in comments.

1. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Come Together (1975)
2. Isaac Hayes – Something (1970)
3. Teddy Lee – Maxwells Silberhammer (1969)
4. Roberta Flack – Oh! Darling (2012)
5. The Persuasions – Octopus’s Garden (2002)
6. George Benson – I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (1969)
7. Nina Simone – Here Comes The Sun (1971)
8. Gary McFarland – Because (1970)
9. Sarah Vaughan – You Never Give Me Your Money (1981)
10. The Bee Gees – Sun King (1976)
11. Cornershop – Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam (2009)
12. Los Lonely Boys – She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (2009)
13. Carmen McRae – Golden Slumber/Carry That Weight (1971)
14. London Sympathy Orchestra – The End (1987)
15. Tok Tok Tok – Her Majesty (2005)

Bonus Tracks
Jessi Colter – Get Back (1976)
Randy Crawford – Don’t Let Me Down (1976)
Teenage Fanclub – The Ballad Of John And Yoko (1995)
Leslie West – Old Brown Shoe (2004)

GET IT!

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: Please Please Me
Beatles Recovered: With The Beatles
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles

Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)
Beatles Reunited: ’77 (1977)
Beatles Reunited: Let It See (1980)

Categories: Albums Recovered, Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags:

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Recovered

May 16th, 2019 12 comments

As I have already done with albums by Bruce Springsteen, Carole King, David Bowie and many Beatles albums, here’s another track-by-track covers mix. Except there are some songs on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for which no covers seem to exist, so I have filled gaps with three live performances by Elton John himself, from his Hammersmith Odeon concert on 22 December 1973. One song had to be omitted altogether, for lack of any alternative versions.

In 1973 there was no indication that one day Elton John would become one of the leading Friends of Dorothy, but he unintentionally hinted at the yet-to-be-invented codeword with the metaphors in the title and on the cover of his double album.

The album’s title, also the name of the lead single, seems to be at odds the artwork on the cover. Both, song and cover, take their imagery from The Wizard Of Oz, in which the yellow brick road played as much a central role as any thoroughfare ever did in the movies. Where the song tells of disillusion at the end of that bright road, the cover promises the beginning of an escape from reality as Elton– spangly mauve platforms instead of ruby slippers – steps into a poster and on to a yellow brick road.

The poster is on a tatty wall, covering a previous poster (the font of which suggests that it might have advertised a music hall), with chimneys in the background telling of a drab existence, quite at odds with Elton’s flamboyant get-up.

The cover was drawn by the illustrator Ian Beck, who was 26 at the time. Beck has since illustrated magazines, greeting cards, packaging and a few children’s books. He has also written a few novels.

Beck came to LP cover design through John Kosh, whose credits included the Abbey Road cover. They shared a studio at 6 Garrick Street in London’s Covent Garden when Kosh arranged for Beck to do illustrations for an LP cover he was designing for Irish folk singer Jonathan Kelly, Wait Till They Change The Backdrop.

Elton John bought that album on strength of the cover, and wanted the same graphic for his new album. Beck told him that this was not possible but offered to create new artwork for the cover.

He was given tapes of the songs (which included future classics like Benny And The Jets, Saturday Night Is Alright For Fighting, Candle In The Wind and the title track), and typed lyrics sheets, and began working on a concept. His friend, fashion illustrator Leslie McKinley Howell, stood in as a model for Elton John in polaroids which Beck took (hence the long legs) in preparation for his watercolour, pastel, and coloured crayon pencils artwork. The piano on the front cover and the teddy bear at the back were placed there at the request of Elsie, as Beck only later realised Elton was known to his staff.

It was the last LP cover Ian Beck designed, though this had nothing to do with his experience of creating the iconic sleeve for one of the great double albums in a decade of many double albums.

The album is regarded by many as Elton John’s finest work. It is indeed filled with many great songs, too many to be released on single, and too many to find inclusion on retrospectives. Songs like Sweet Painted Lady (a song Paul McCartney might have written), I’ve Seen That Movie Too, This Song Has No Title, Roy Rogers and Harmony could have been hits (and Harmony was intended to be the album’s fourth single release); now they are remembered only by fans of the album.

1. Dream Theater – Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding (1995)
2. Sandy Denny – Candle In The Wind (1977)
3. Paul Young – Bennie And The Jets (2006)
4. Sara Bareilles – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (2013)
5. Elton John – This Song Has No Title (Live) (1973)
6. The Band Perry – Grey Seal (2014)
7. Judge Dread – Jamaica Jerk-off (1977)
8. Elton John – I’ve Seen That Movie Too (Live) (1973)
9. Bridget St. John – Sweet Painted Lady (1974)
10. Elton John – The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-1934) (Live) (1973)
11. Emeli Sand̩ РAll The Girls Love Alice (2014)
12. Imelda May – Your Sister Can’t Twist (But She Can Rock ‘n’ Roll) (2014)
13. The Who – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) (1991)
14. Kacey Musgraves – Roy Rogers (2018)
15. Jesse Malin – Harmony (2008)
Bonus: Diana Ross – Harmony (1976)
Hickoids – Bennie & The Jets (2011)

GET IT!

Previous great covers
More Covers Mixes
More Mixed CD-Rs


Beatles Recovered – Yellow Submarine

January 14th, 2019 12 comments

Coming just over six weeks after the release of the White Album, The Beatles released the soundtrack LP for the animated Yellow Submarine movie on 13 January 1969. Its release exactly fifty years ago yesterday was not massively popular, partly since Side 2 comprised only George Martin instrumentals, and in any case, it was always going to be overshadowed by the epoch-making double album.

The Beatles weren’t too keen either; they put together their contribution only because of a contractual obligation to United Artists, which was releasing the film.

Two of the six songs on Side 1 had been previously released on single (All You Need Is Love and the title track). George Harrison’s sarcastic Only A Northern Song was recorded during the Sgt Pepper’s sessions in February 1967, but rejected for that album.

All Together Now, which McCartney called “a throw-away track”, was recorded in May 1967 for the film project, as was John Lennon’s Hey Bulldog, recorded in February 1968. May 1967 also saw the recording of Harrison’s LSD-influenced It’s All Too Much.

A song that might have been included was Across The Universe, which was first recorded in February 1968, then appeared in its original version on a charity album in 1969, and then in a rearranged form on Let It Be in 1970.

A cover of Across The Universe, by folkie/poet Rod McKuen, is included in this collection of covers, as part of a putative Side 2, which might also have included single tracks and their b-sides that were released in 1968.

Ella Fitzgerald gives Hey Jude a whole new treatment (it was on the b-side of her cover of Sunshine Of Your Love by Cream), as does Richie Havens on his cover of Lady Madonna.

The most interesting interpretation here, however, is the jazzy slow-burn by Jimmy McGriff and Junior Parker of Harrison’s The Inner Light, which divests the song of its Indian sound.

Of the Side 1 stuff, it’s rather unexpected to have hirsute Tony Soprano-favourites Journey cover the formerly druggy It’s All Too Much, with a hard-rocking guitar solo.

But most surprising – other than a soul band deciding to cover the banal Yellow Submarine – is the fine version here of the otherwise pedestrian (and annoying) All Together Now by German soul band Joy Unlimited. The group was fronted by the late Joy Fleming, who had a mighty and soulful voice which the bland pretenders of the likes of Adele would kill for. And the band strips the Beatles song of its triteness and infuses it with a gospel vibe, supported by Fleming’s committed ad libbing.

I’ve posted Elvis Costello’s Live Aid version of All You Need Is Love before. Oddly, there aren’t many very good covers of that song.

One Beatles performance is included here. Not Guilty was one of several songs recorded during the White Album sessions that were rejected for inclusion. Those tracks were pretty bad; Not Guilty is the least bad of the lot.

1. The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – Yellow Submarine (1967)
2. Sun Dial – Only A Northern Song (1991)
3. Joy Unlimited – All Together Now (1970)
4. Bill Deal & The Rhondels – Hey Bulldog (1970)
5. Journey – It’s All Too Much (1976)
6. Elvis Costello – All You Need Is Love (1985)
7. Ella Fitzgerald – Hey Jude (1968)
8. Jimmy McGriff & Junior Parker – The Inner Light (1970)
9. Richie Havens – Lady Madonna (1968)
10. Rod McKuen – Nothing’s Gonna Change My World (Across The Universe) (1971)
11. The Beatles – Not Guilty (1968)
12. Sesame Street – Yellow Submarine (1976)

GET IT!
(Link updated. PW in comments)

 

More Beatles Recovered:
Beatles Recovered: A Hard Day’s Night
Beatles Recovered: Beatles For Sale
Beatles Recovered: Help!
Beatles Recovered: Rubber Soul
Beatles Recovered: Revolver
Beatles Recovered: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club  Band
Beatles Revovered: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatles Recovered: White Album
Beatles Recovered: Yellow Submarine
Beatles Recovered: Abbey Road
Beatles Revcovered: Let It Be

Wordless: Any Major Beatles Instrumentals
Covered With Soul Vol. 14 – Beatles Edition 1
Covered With Soul Vol. 15 – Beatles Edition 2

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1962-66

Any Major Beatles Covers: 1967-68
Any Major Beatles Covers: 1968-70
Any Bizarre Beatles

Beatles Reunited: Everest (1971)
Beatles Reunited: Live ’72 (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Smile Away (1972)
Beatles Reunited: Photographs (1974)
Beatles Reunited: ’77 (1977)
Beatles Reunited: Let It See (1980)

Categories: Albums Recovered, Beatles, Covers Mixes Tags: