Sunday, June 13, 2021

Duncan Browne - Wild Places (1978) plus Bonus Single

 (U.K 1967 - 1993)

In the 1970s, Duncan Browne formed the band Metro with Peter Godwin and released some records in the US on the Sire label. He released two solo albums: The Wild Places and Streets of Fire. The song "The Wild Places" was a hit single in the Netherlands. From the same period, "Criminal World", co-written by Browne with Peter Godwin, was recorded by David Bowie on his 1983 Let's Dance album.

The Wild Places was released in 1978 through Logo and Sire Records and features contributions from session musicians Tony Hymas, John Giblin and Simon Phillips. In contrast to his previous self-titled solo record in 1977, the sound of the album is fully electric and ranges from progressive rock to straightforward rock music and synthpop.

The Wild Places isn't much like his Immediate album Give Me, Take You -- indeed, it's more like a lost Roxy Music album, or perhaps a lost Bryan Ferry record. It's electric, and the music has a sense of drama as well as beautiful melodies that were even better realised, with lush contributions on the synthesizer and related keyboards by Tony Hymas and a fierce guitar sound courtesy of Browne himself, aided by the upfront presence of John Giblin and Simon Phillips on bass and drums, respectively. 

The music runs the gamut from edgy progressive rock to straight-ahead rock & roll (the latter highlighted by "The Crash"), though Browne was at the top of his game, as both a singer and
composer, working in an introspective, romantic vein, as on the catchy title cut and numbers like
"Roman Vecu" and "Kisarazu."

Rolling Stone Review:
Duncan Browne, ‘The Wild Places’ (07/12/79)

From the pushed-up sleeves of his jacket to the strings-and-keyboards lushness of his music, Englishman Duncan Browne is effete, banal, precious, contrived, and arty. If you’re in a receptive mood, though, he can also be quite seductive: The title song of this album is more than catchy: floating off the radio, sneaking up before it registers, it’s like a dream with interesting nightmare edges, and you can easily lose yourself in its wanderings. “The wild places” is a pretty good idea; you play along, focusing on the hard blips of a fretless bass, and see where Browne can take you.

Even the hilariously “Roman Vecu” (I ask you, what sort of title is that for a rock & roll song?) can get under your skin, if you happen to be feeling especially passive. The music is so lulling and remote you simply don’t hear lines like “But who knows which of us will be the last to remember/That you don’t live in Paris/You don’t live in Paris anymore?,” lines that are surely so far beyond parody as to exist in an alternate universe.

This is not to say that The Wild Places is a trite schlock-perverse masterpiece, as Browne’s first record, the more-than-ten-year-old Give Me Take You remains to this day. To call Browne’s Aubrey Beardsley variations on Donovan themes lightweight would have been to belabor the point, but somehow this earlier LP was insinuating, odd, spooky: John Smothers, who reviewed it in these page, called it “a beautiful corpse,” and he was right on the mark.

Browne might have won himself a more honourable place in pop history if he’d emulated Smothers’
metaphor, or anyway disappeared: The Wild Places doesn’t suggest such intense, decadent pointlessness. “Camino Real” is a rather long waste of time, “Samurai” and “Kisarazu” are unhearable (as opposed to unlistenable) and “The Crash,” so pretentiously titled, is merely bouncy when it wants to be wistful. There isn’t a really irritating moment on the album, but that’s mainly because Browne never dares to come on strong.

Still, Duncan Browne is one singer I never expected to hear from again, and somehow having his debut LP  'Give Me, Take You' sit on my shelves for a decade as hundreds of other LPs have come and gone seems justified every time I hear “The Wild Places.” [Review: Rolling Stone, July 12, 1979]

This post consists of FLACs taken from my LOGO Vinyl, purchased during my Uni days when New Romantic music was just starting to hit the streets and paved the way for the early 80's era typified by bands like Visage, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and Culture Club.  I think I bought the album from the Melbourne Uni Bookshop and probably heard the title track being played on the radio, as I also have the single.
I have included full album artwork (although my copy doesn't have the insert sleeve) and label scans.  As a bonus, I have chosen to include the single as both sides are edited versions making them unique.
When listening to"Wild Places" I tend to have a flood of wonderful memories from my University days and some of the wild times I had after hours.  But that's another story !

01 The Wild Places 6:00
02 Roman VĂ©cu 4:43
03 Camino Real (Parts 1, 2 & 3) 8:27
04 Samurai 4:31
05 Kisarazu 7:11
06 The Crash 3:54
07 Planet Earth 6:29
[Bonus Tracks]
08 Wild Places (Single Edit)  4:20
09 Camino Real [Parts 2 & 3] (Single Edit)  3:00

Band Members:
Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, 
Percussion – Duncan Browne
Backing Vocals – Duncan Browne, Ray Hendriksen
Bass – John Giblin
Drums, Percussion – Simon Phillips
Synthesizer – Tony Hymas
Keyboards – Duncan Browne (tracks: B2)
Piano – Simon Phillips (tracks: A3)

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Jeff St. John - Rare and Live: 1966 - 1985 (2016)

 (Australian 1965 - 1983, 1996 - 2018)

A chance meeting of four young men at the Sydney Musician's Club in 1965 marked the beginning of the professional singing career of 19-year-old Jeffrey Leo Newton, born in Newtown on April 22, 1946 and educated at Cleveland Street Boys High. He had been singing since the age of eight in talent quests staged by radio station 2GB. At 15 he had a role as a featured vocalist on the Nine Network's Opportunity Knocks and was seen often on television.

The product of that meeting at the Muso's Club was The Syndicate, later renamed The Wild Oats and eventually The Id – hailed then as the "finest soul/rhythm & blues outfit that Sydney had been blessed to contain". They opened at the city's first real discotheque, Rhubarbs, and cut their debut single Lindy Lou. There was little commercial success forthcoming for that and two subsequent singles and it was not until 1967, after they had accepted a three-month residency at North Sydney's Here Disco, that waves began to build. Word soon spread about this mind-blowing funky band and their freak-voiced singer who could scorch the paint off walls with his high notes. Every night the venue would be packed to the gunwales and each night the roaring, finely-controlled voice of Jeff St John would win more converts for life.

A fourth Id single, "Big Time Operator", exploded in February 1967, streaking to number seven nationally. They opened for the Roy Orbison/Walker Brothers/Yardbirds tour and undertook a riotous season at Melbourne's Thumpin' Tum. Riding high on his popularity, St John penned and sang an award-winning Sunaroid 67 radio commercial which, when issued on a promotional disc, proved to be almost as successful as a hit single.

After a second hit with "You Got Me Hummin", The Id splintered. St John continued on with a new band, Yama, a single called "Nothing Comes Easy", and a four-month bout in hospital which proved that title correct. Afflicted with congenital spina bifida since birth, he underwent a leg operation that proved a failure. Whereas he had been able to appear on stage with the use of calipers which gave him a reasonable amount of mobility, he was now consigned forever to what he saw as a dreaded wheelchair.

Down but certainly not out, he would come to use his wheelchair with a level of speed and aggressive determination that had many feel they were watching a basketball match at the Paralympics. An eventual offer of a few lowly paid gigs in Perth gave him the opportunity to return to the stage and build his confidence. He assembled a new band there in 1969.

Jeff St John's Copperwine was hailed as "a truly magical outfit", with an exhilarating mixture of fine musicianship, intense emotional vocals and a definite uncompromising direction. They soon trekked across the continent to become founding fathers, with Tully and Tamam Shud, of a flowering Sydney progressive concert scene.

These bands ruled the all-important 'head' circuit, including the pioneering and pivotal 1970 'Ourimbah Festival'. Alongside Melbourne heavyweights like Chain, Billy Thorpe & the Aztecs and Max Merritt & the Meteors, St John's crew picked up Ourimbah's 10,000 happy hippies, crumpled them with searing heartfelt vocals and hurled them, metaphorically, across the field. By the third encore he was clawing at the air with violent emotion, the intensity matched only by the mesmerised roar of the audience. It is said that all who left the farm had a piece of Jeff St John lodged in their guts.

Two months later the Joint Effort album was released, to strong sales. Chain's occasional vocalist Wendy Saddington came on board for a time, giving Copperwine a two-pronged vocal assault on stage that is still talked about. At the end of 1970 the band was riding high with the national hit "Teach Me How To Fly". For many of his devoted followers there was something symbolic about that particular song and their memories of the man.

Jeff St. John's Copperwine with Wendy Saddington
There was a second, lesser hit with "Hummingbird" and then, like the Id and Yama, the band, at least with St John out front, was no longer there. It is said there were bitter arguments about his songwriting aspirations.

Plainly, St John wanted things done his way and, throughout the Seventies that is basically how it unfolded. With his new Jeff St John Group he took second place to Sherbet in the 1972 National Battle of the Sounds, then entered the studios to cut his first solo single, "Yesterday's Music", coupled with his composition, "In The Window of Your Love".

He landed the support role on national tours by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Gary Glitter. Diddley was so enamoured by St John's vocal virtuosity that he invited him back on stage each night for high-flying duets. The prestigious A&M Records issued Yesterday's Music in the US market.

Jeff St. John and Bo Diddley
On the eve of a seven-month working visit to Britain, on December 27, 1973, St John bade a dynamic farewell to an exceptional year, one which had seen him collect an Outstanding Vocalist of the Year gong, with a concert at Sydney Opera House.  Recorded for the album 'Jeff St John Live', it included a song that seemed to sum up his view of life – Richard Clapton's "I Wanna Be A Survivor".

After his British stint, critic David N. Pepperell wrote: "It is obvious that St John's voice has improved, like a fine wine, with age. Its power seems limitless, its phrasing is precise and meaningful and its sweetness is like honey dripping from a hive." Unfortunately, such praise did not reach the ears of radio programmers, who all but ignored his 1975 self-penned singles "Mr James" and "Reach Out And Touch Me".

For a decade, St John had spoken hopefully of a solo album. After a couple of quiet years – during which he maintained a band called Red Cloud and again supported Bo Diddley — he returned to prominence with that very album. Signed to Warner Brothers, it was released on the Asylum label and gave him top 20 hits with A Fool In Love and Rock'n'Roll Man.

After the 'So Far, So Good' album he released some more singles — "Dock Of The Bay" in 1979 and "I'll Never Need Anyone More" in 1983. He had a tight, slick touring band but at the end of 1983 he retired from the road.

St John's disability had never made it easy for him to pursue a career as physical as live rock, though he rarely allowed it to conquer him. As a member of the spina bifida support group Mosaic, he was involved in educating people about disabilities, in association with Dr John Yeo the director of the Royal North Shore Hospital spinal unit.

Jeff St.John - 2000 Olympics Opening Ceremony 
"If we prevent one person from ending up in a wheelchair we've done our job" he told the Sydney Morning Herald. He sang the national anthem at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney.
"I love my country," he would say "and this allowed me to be crazy for more years than I can remember."

His challenges and his victory over them proved inspiring to many. In 1980 he was the subject of an episode of Peter Luck's TV documentary series The Australians, titled Jeff St John – Rock'n'Roll Man. During the Bi-Centenary celebrations of 1988 he participated in a video shoot at Uluru for Celebration Of A Nation. In 1985 he portrayed himself in two episodes of A Country Practice, and finished the show with a live rendition of "Sandman" (see below)

He settled in Perth in 1996, a city that had been key to many stages of his career. He pursued his interests, such as motor sports and vehicles, and thanks to an old friend that he reconnected with, 'Ace' Follington, he returned to performing on a local level, as Jeff St John & the Embers, commenting "I'd been divorced from singing for so long I'd lost sight of the fun involved!"

And so, a show evolved consisting of the classics from the 30' and 40's by writers/composers like Rogers & Hammerstein, George & Ira Gershwin, Errol Garner, and an interesting arrangement of Lennon & McCartneys' "You Can't Do That". The CD finishes off with De Sylva, Brown & Hendersons' "Birth of The Blues".  It worked, Jeff and the band started a 4 week season at Clancys in Fremantle, Perth, that turned into a 72 week season! Jeff blames Ace for bringing him out of retirement, but if he hadn't, Perth and Australia would have been without one of the best vocalists to ever come along.

There was the 2001 independent album 'Will The Real Jeff St John PLEASE Stand Up?', of Tin Pan Alley standards.  In 2015 his autobiography The Jeff St John Story: The Inside Outsider was published. 

Sadly, Jeff passed away on the 6th May, 2018 at the age of 71, as a result of a bacterial infection following surgery.   [Extracts from an article by Glenn A. Baker March 8, 2018 - Sydney Morning Herald and Jeff's Website]

This post consists of  MP3's (320kps) and was sourced from Deutros with thanks, along with artwork. This home-made compilation of live tracks stems from Jeff's early days when he played on Bandstand and extends to his cameo role on the Australian sitcom 'A Country Practice' from 1985.  
I have been slowly working my way through re-runs of this show and came across the 2 episodes that featured Jeff playing himself along with one of his 3-wheeler motorbikes.  It was this close encounter that prompted me to post this 'compilation gem' here. Although I was impressed with his acting skills, it was his final performance of America's hit "The Sandman" at the Wanden Valley RSL club that really caught my attention. What a star, and absolute star he was. I've included the video clip above for your entertainment and he really does a crash hot rendition.

Track Listing
01 Introduction On Bandstand
02 The Work Song
03 It's Gonna Work Out Fine
04 Stupidity
05 Humming Bird
06 Teach Me How To Fly
07 Peter Figure's Drum Solo
08 Days To Come
09  Teach Me How To Fly #2
10 The New Centurions (Poem)
11 Only A Woman Like You
12 I Can Hardly Wait For Summer
13 Introduction
14 Big Time Operator
15 Sandman

Monday, May 31, 2021

W.O.C.K On Vinyl - The Pelaco Bros: The Notorious Pelaco Bros Show (1977) + The Lost Demos E.P (1975)


Before things get too serious at Rock On Vinyl, I thought it might be fun to post a song at the end of each month, that could be considered to be either Weird, Obscure, Crazy or just plain Korny.

The Pelaco Brothers were the seminal Melbourne ban. On their demise in 1975 they spawned Melbourne's response to the punk revolution - the frantic Joe Camilleri and the romantic Stephen Cummings. They helped make Melbourne the capital of Australian rock in the late '70's.

The Pelaco Brothers formed in 1974 in Melbourne with Joe Camilleri (ex-King Bees, Lipp and the Double Dekker Brothers, Sharks) on saxophone and vocals, Stephen Cummings (ex-Ewe and the Merinos) on lead vocals, Peter Lillie on guitar and vocals, Johnny Topper on bass guitar, Karl Wolfe on drums and Chris Worrall on guitar. 

The group was actually formed by Johnny Topper and Peter Lillie. The pair had been indulging in performance art with a concept of The After Dinner Moose. Topper was keen to give up the theatre and start a magazine with a friend, Stephen Cummings. Instead he was persuaded by Lillie to buy musical instruments and start a band which eventually included saxophonist Joe Camilleri. The band sang about truck drivers, roadhouse ladies and endless highways, playing a mix of rockabilly, R&B and Western Swing that forged a new musical aesthetic for the local scene. 

The Pelco Bros - Stephen Cummings with his back turned
The group were named after the Pelaco Sign located in Richmond, Melbourne (see below) which advertised a local shirt manufacturer. According to Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, they played  "rockabilly, country swing and R&B that recalled American outfits like Commander Cody and His  Lost Planet Airmen and Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks. Yet, the band's delivery presented a fiercely  Australian outlook". Only existing for 18 months, they later included Ed Bates on guitar and Peter  Martin on slide guitar.

Their posthumous release was 'The Notorious Pelaco Brothers Show' a live six-track extended play (also seen as The Pelaco Bros) on the Ralph imprint in 1977. The Pelaco Brothers disbanded in late 1975, Camilleri went on to form a blues and rock music band, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons; meanwhile Cummings and Bates formed a new wave group, The Sports in 1976. 

In 1982, The  Pelaco Brothers music was used for a suburban horror film, 'This Woman Is Not a Car.'

So this month's  WOCK on Vinyl is far from being Weird or Crazy. It is however, a very rare E.P due to it's limited print run and so ticks the Obscure category.  In fact, the rips contained in this post (MP3 / 320kps) was only sourced recently and I am very grateful to TARAGO for providing them.  The artwork for the 'Notorious EP' was sourced from Mr Weird and Wacky with thanks.

To add icing on the cake, I have managed to source some of these tracks and others in FLAC format from some Aussie compilation CDs that I own and have included them in this package. 
The music contained within is fantastic and gives us a great insight into where Stephen Cummings and Joe Camilleri first developed their skills in the music industry, later to appear in the Sports and Jo Jo Zep respectively.  

To read a full account of the Pelaco Bros, select the review article below, which is also included with the post along with the artwork

Track List:
'The Notorious Pelaco Bros. Show EP' (1977)
01 - Truckdrivin’ Queen
02 - Conga Line
03 - Cat Clothes
04 - Milkcow Blues
05 - Eskimo In Paris
06 - Mellow Saxophone

'The Lost Demos' from The Pelaco Bros. (1975)
01 - French Pom Pom
02 - I Can’t Do That
03 - 3rd Degree
04 - Ten Pin King
05 - Mordialloc

Bonus FLAC tracks
01 - Conga Line
02 - Mechanics in a Relaxed Manner
03 - Rockabilly Heaven
04 - Truck Driving Queen
05 - Truckdrivin' Guru

Joe Camilleri (saxophone vocals), 
Stephen Cummings (vocals), 
Peter Lillie (guitar), 
Johnny Topper (bass), 
Karl Wolfe (drums) 
Chris Worrall (guitar),
Ed Bates (guitar) 
Peter Martin (slide guitar)

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Jethro Tull - Too Old To Rock N Roll: Too Old To Die (1976) plus Bonus Track

 ( UK 1967 - 2012, 2017 - Present)

Jethro Tull isn't his name, of course, but it might as well be. At the mere mention of this venerable British art-rock outfit, most people flash on the image of flute-wielding Tull front man Ian Anderson. The LP's 'This Was' and 'Stand Up', both from 1969, present the group as jazz-and folk-influenced progressives; Anderson's rasping, melodramatic style of play takes off from Rahsaan Roland Kirk's multi-reed explorations. Guitarist Martin Barre contributes heavy, hooky riffs to accompany Anderson's burgeoning songwriting voice on Stand Up. And then, Tull clicked with young American audiences.

Aqualung combines heaving melodies and moralistic liberal diatribes against church and state: You know the rest. Thanks to 20 years of radio rotation, heavy handed manifestos like "Aqualung" and "Wind Up" rank right up there with "Stairway to Heaven" on the over familiarity meter. Living in the Past, which ably documents Tull to this point, is recommended over the later compilations.

The immediate success of Aqualung spurred Anderson to indulge his artistic whims, resulting in two challenging, wildly experimental, and occasionally obtuse theatrical concept albums: 'Thick as a Brick' and 'Passion Play'. After that strategy backfired, Jethro Tull returned to traditional song structure on War Child and the acoustic-flavoured Minstrel in the Gallery.

Ian Anderson

Things were never quite the same again, though. After the excessively snide 1976 hit "Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young to Die!," Tull retreated into a sylvan glade of arty Elizabethan folk-rock. This latter-day approach is best captured on the lovely, smoke-flavoured Songs From the Wood and A. on which former members of Fairport Convention and Roxy Music add crucial support. 

Jethro Tull On Stage at Wolfgangs in 1976

After releasing a pair of electronic stinkers (Walk Into Light and Under Wraps) in the '80s, Anderson retired the Tull moniker for several years. The 1988 box-set retrospective (20 Years of Jethro Tull) is representative, but mighty tough for the average listener to wade through, Jethro Tull released the folkish Crest of a Knave in 1987; from then on, Anderson retreated into a prosaic formula that obliterated most of the pastoral passages and tricky time signatures in favour of shorter songs that rocked in surprisingly conventional ways. 

Ian Anderson and Martin Blarre

Anderson's darkly sarcastic sense of humour and the band's tight instrumental combustion has made Tull an exhilarating live experience to this day—long after its records ceased to hold much interest for anyone but hard-core fans. [extract from the New Rolling Stone Album Guide, 4th Edition, 2013]

Album Background
First, a bit of back story: after 1975's Minstrel in the Gallery, Jethro Tull had intended to not only record a new album but also put together a stage musical about an ageing rock star. Somewhere along the line, however, they walked away from the musical idea and instead utilised the material they'd written for it as the basis for their new album, Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die!

Like 'Benefit' before it, 'Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll' has never got the credit it's due.

A Rock Opera containing some of the band's most anthemic Rock songs (the title track being the most famous example) and some of its most poignant and delicate acoustic ballads ('From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser', 'Salamander', 'Bad-Eyed And Loveless'), 'Too Old' is one of the unsung gems of Jethro Tull's remarkable catalogue.
However, Ian Anderson should stick to music, because he most definitely is not a storyteller. This is the muddled story of one Ray Lomas, “the last of the old rockers,” whose long hair and tight jeans mark him as a person whom time has passed by. After a series of events remarkable only for their lack of humor and originality, we leave the “hero” as he is about to become a pop star in his own right.

We can take comfort, though, in knowing that Anderson’s technical prowess as a composer remains undiminished. The album abounds in breathtaking musical passages. The title cut, for one, is a textbook example of the use of dynamics and nuance in a rock song: instruments subtly creep in during the verses, with the slightest of musical nods to let us know they’re there. The music builds with a tension that heightens a desperate theme, then erupts in the chorus. “Quizz Kid” features, in addition to numerous startling changes in texture, several brief but pungent solos by guitarist Martin Barre, whose playing is exemplary throughout.

Album Review

Jethro Tull's Too Old to Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young to Die! remains one of the minor efforts in its catalogue. Though the group was never a critical favourite, this 1976 album was particularly dismissed, and it didn't find as much favour as usual from fans, either.

This LP remains the group's only release of the 1970's not to have at least gone gold in the U.S. In his liner notes to the reissue, bandleader Ian Anderson claims that the collection was intended to support a stage musical “based on a late-'50s motor cycle rocker and his living-in-the-past nostalgia for youthful years. Not me, guv, honest,” he added. “Why do people always think it has to be autobiographical?” Perhaps because the main character, Ray Lomas, bears a striking resemblance to Anderson in the cartoon strip included with the album and because the sentiments expressed in the songs revealed a curmudgeonly attitude familiar from past Jethro Tull efforts penned by Anderson.

The songs don't conform to the story line developed in the strip, nor do they tell a coherent story on their own, though they do have their own separate stories to tell. For example, “Crazed Institution,” in the strip, has something to do with Lomas' revulsion at a department store called “Horrids” (ie. Harrod's), but the song sounds like a put down of glam rockers who “live and die upon [their] cross of platinum.” The title track, which went on to become a classic rock and concert favourite, remains the most striking tune [extract from].

This post consists of FLACs ripped from my Nice Price Cassette Tape (purchased from the Bargin Bin at Brash Suttons back in the late 70's) and includes full artwork and label scans. Sadly, I've never come across the vinyl release but the hunt still continues as it is an important hole to fill in my Jethro Tull collection. This album was the followup album to their critically acclaimed 'Minstrel In The Gallery', and as such suffered from the impossible expectations this created. In fact, Rolling Stone only rated the album with 2 stars and consequently album sales were not strong. For me, this album was in its own right still a strong album and tracks like Quizz Kids and Too Young To..... were up there with their best.

01 - Quizz Kid
02 - Crazed Institution
03 - Salamander
04 - Taxi Grab
05 - From A Deadbeat To An Old Greaser
06 - Bad-Eyed And Loveless
07 - Big Dipper
08 - Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die
09 - Pied Piper
10 - The Chequered Flag (Dead Or Alive)
11 - Too Old To Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young To Die (Bonus Live)*

* Taken from Burstin Out

Jethro Tull were:
Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Flute, Harmonica, Electric Guitar [Occasional], Percussion [Occasional] – Ian Anderson
Bass, Vocals – John Glascock
Electric Guitar – Martin Barre
Drums, Percussion – Barriemore Barlow
Piano – John Evan

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

R.E.M - Unauthorised: Losing My Religion Vol.2 (1993) Bootleg

(U.S 1980 - 2011)

was an American rock band from Athens, Georgia, formed in 1980 by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. One of the first popular alternative rock bands, R.E.M. gained early attention due to Buck's ringing, arpeggiated guitar style and Stipe's unclear vocals. R.E.M. released its first single, "Radio Free Europe", in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone. The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band's first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the group released its critically acclaimed debut album, Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single "The One I Love". The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to espouse political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.

By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to experience broad mainstream success, R.E.M. was viewed by subsequent acts such as Nirvana and Pavement as a pioneer of the genre and released its two most commercially successful albums, Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992), which veered from the band's established sound. R.E.M.'s 1994 release, Monster, was a return to a more rock-oriented sound. The band began its first tour in six years to support the album; the tour was marred by medical emergencies suffered by three band members. In 1996, R.E.M. re-signed with Warner Bros. for a reported US $80 million, at the time the most expensive recording contract in history. 

The following year, Bill Berry left the band, while Buck, Mills, and Stipe continued the group as a trio. Through some changes in musical style, the band continued its career into the next decade with mixed critical and commercial success. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. R.E.M. disbanded in September 2011, announcing the split on its website.

Recording Details
This concert was recorded in Utrecht in the Netherlands on September 14, 1987 during their 'Work Tour', about two weeks after the Document studio album had been released (Support act: The Railway Children).
With eight songs off Document and five from Lifes Rich Pageant, this live recording gives us a very clear indication of how the REM sound was progressing in the late 80's.

By this stage, the band were very experienced and confident playing live but the venue is still relatively small (maximum capacity 5,000 people).

After years of being starved of official live recordings, R.E.M. have included live recording bonuses with other studio albums – a 1983 show with Murmur, a 1984 show with Reckoning and a 1989 show with Green.

So what are the essential years of REM's career?
Well I had ignored REM in their early days but the singles from Document had gained my attention and Green was the first of their albums that I bought. My bias therefore is for this middle period from 1987 to 1992 when they took on the world and won. [extract from]

The Muziekcentrum
The Venue
"Muziekcentrum Vredenburg, Utrecht"
Former music venue in Utrecht, The Netherlands with a capacity of 1700 and 300 people. It opened its' doors on January 26, 1979.
In the period 2007-2014, the venue was thoroughly rebuilt, only the original construction of the main hall was maintained, with the new venue being built around this.
Two temporary locations were used in this period. During this time the venue also merged with Tivoli, Utrecht and the new venue TivoliVredenburg opened in July, 2014.
Also sometimes listed on releases as The Music Centrum, Utrecht or Music Centre, Utrecht.

Inside the Muziekcentrum

This post consists of FLACS ripped from my fruity 'Banana Bootleg' and includes the distinct 'red artwork' typical of these Australian Unauthorised Bootlegs.  A Soundboard recording, it is rated as excellent and is the second half of the concert. Regrettably, I have yet to come across Vol.1 but when I do (and I will), I'll post it quick smart.  

I have taken the liberty of adding a live 'unplugged' rendition of "Losing My Religion" as a bonus track, giving the title of this bootleg more credibility.

This bootleg has also been released under the title of Red Rain (see cover right)

01  Oddfellows Local 151 (Firehouse) 5:26
02  Little America 2:49
03  It's The End Of The World As We Know It (& I Feel Fine) 4:03
04  Begin The Begin 4:30
05  Strange 2:59
06  Disturbance At The Heron House 3:25
07  Funtime / Harpers 7:21
08  Moral Kiosk 4:41
09  Life And How To Live It 4:36
10 Time After Time / Red Rain 3:05
11 So Central Rain (I'm Sorry) 5:31
12 Losing My Religion (Bonus MTV track)   4:38

Friday, May 14, 2021

Robin Trower - Bridges Of Sighs (1974) + Bonus Tracks

 (U.K 1973 - Present)

When Robin Trower left Procol Harum in 1971 to form a new band, the expectations were not high.

Although he had shown glimpses of promise on Procol Harum tracks like "Simple Sister" and "Whiskey Train" he was nonetheless playing inside a band dominated by eclectic lyrics and classically influenced keyboards.

When a short lived quartet called Jude failed to take off, Robin took almost a year's hiatus to form a power trio featuring Jude bassist and vocalist James Dewar and accomplished drummer Reg Isidore. The band's trademark sound was based on Trower's guitar and Dewar's smooth, dark and soulful vocals.

After signing a solo deal with Chrysalis in 1972, Trower released his first album, 'Twice Removed From Yesterday'. The album (released in 1973) was reasonably well-received, if dogged a bit by Hendrix comparisons. Robin never denied the influence, in fact, he explained exactly when and where he got his inspiration in one of the album's standout tracks, "Daydream". Even considering the respectable success of this first album and the band's incessant touring, few would have predicted that Trower's next album would still be regarded as one of the greatest rock guitar albums ever recorded.

Dewar, Trower and Isidore (1973)

Robin once called 'Bridges Of Sighs (1974) a "stack of my favourites", while proclaiming that the title track was the most enjoyable song to play live. The album has proved to be an enduring work of artistic creative depth, and has remained a classic for 25+years. Rarely has one album so beautifully showcased such a diverse, expansive rainbow of sounds created by a rock and blues-based three piece. Understated, sparse, subtle and alluring - yet still very bright - Bridges of Sighs is the best example of Robin Trower's magical muscianship.

Trower Band playing on the 'Old Grey Whistle - BBC' 1974

Upon its release, the album flew up the U.S charts, reaching #7 on Billboard's Top 200. It eventually reached multi-platinum status without a true radio single or any concession to commercialism. Guitar Player magazine, the authority and most respective magazine of the time, would bestow their prestigious Album Of The Year award on Robin Trower for his songwriting and musical genius. The album clearly represented an artist and his band at the height of their craft, totally connecting with the audience.

'Bridges of Sighs' also benefited from the huge popularity of FM rock radio, which was at the pinnacle of its influence in 1974. This fact was not lost on bands or record companies, and Robin's trio responded by playing a series of live broadcasts. The bonus live tracks included in this post come from one such performance recorded at the legendary Record Plant in Los Angeles on May 29, 1974 - barely a month after the album's release. The show was broadcast live that night on L.A's legendary rock powerhouse KMET.

Such performances served as added proof of the trio's mastery of their art, and helped the band make the leap from clubs to arenas. A hearty work ethic and touring schedule built a huge and honest following which in turn confirmed the suggestion that 'Bridges Of Sighs' was the best rock album of 1974. A by-product of this success was Robin Trower's tremendous influence on the next generation of guitar players, who forever enshrined him among his generation's six-string elite.

In a '70s-era interview, Robin summed up the roots of his success, phenomenal skill and soul in his own words: "The blues are the single most important thing that has happened in this century. The blues are raw, vital and beautiful and in the right hands the electric guitar can be the most wonderful instrument". How true. [Liner notes by Jon Sutherland]

Trower's First 4 LP's

This post consists of FLACs ripped from the CD (Expanded Edition) release of this album which features bonus live tracks recorded at the legendary Record Plant in Los Angeles on May 29, 1974. 

Full album artwork for both vinyl and CD are included along with label scans.  I have also included a rip of the single release of "Too Rolling Stoned" (see left), which is an edited version featuring the first 'fast' section of the song. However, it leaves one feeling somewhat short changed when its over and craving for the slower coda, which features one of Trower's most memorable riffs.  

I clearly remember the first time I heard this album, while hanging out at a mates place (he was a big fan of Procol Harum), and listened to the album on his stereo with the volume cranked up to 10. When "Day of the Eagle" came blasting out of his Bose speakers I was gobsmacked, and it just got better and better. The other thing I love about this album and 3 other Trower LPS (see above) are the covers.  All designed by by Funky Paul, they have a distinct look which draws you in and certainly helps to grab your attention while they sit in the record racks.

'Bridges of Sighs' is definitely in my Top Ten Albums and I never tier of sitting back and playing this LP from start to finish, and the hairs on my back still stand up while I do.

01  Day Of The Eagle 5:00
02  Bridge Of Sighs 5:01
03  In This Place 4:27
04  The Fool And Me 3:54
05  Too Rolling Stoned 7:31
06  About To Begin 3:44
07  Lady Love 3:17
08  Little Bit Of Sympathy 4:27
[Bonus Tracks]
09  Day Of The Eagle (Live) 3:49
10  Bridge Of Sighs (Live) 5:16
11  Too Rolling Stoned (Live) 6:27
12  Lady Love (Live) 3:13
13  Little Bit Of Sympathy (Live) 4:48
14  Too Rolling Stone (Single Edit) 2:48

Robin Trower Band:
Robin Trower - Guitar
James Dewar - Bass, Vocals
Reg Is
idore - Drums