Re-Flex – Vibrate Generate

10 05 2022

Vibrate Generate is the sequel to Cherry Pop’s previous double-CD re-issue of Re-Flex’s The Politics Of Dancing album, and is released via Cherry Red on 24 June 2022.

Vibrate Generate brings together rare and unreleased tracks from across the bands career, including two new versions of The Politics Of Dancing, songs from their subsequent albums Humanication and Jamming The Broadcast, and tracks that were written for the soundtrack for Superman IV.

Opening with the last track Re-Flex ever recorded, Vibrate Generate heads off in a more traditional rock arrangement than their more well-known 80s recordings, with a tiny lyrical steal from an early David Bowie classic popping up and catching you off-guard towards the end of the song.

An interesting, in the spirit of the 80s remix of The Politics Of Dancing opener Praying To The Beat works well. How Much Longer, featuring Sting on guest vocals towards the end of the song, is a clipped guitar driven remix, and should have been a hit when originally released in the late 80s.

Couldn’t Stand A Day was always one of my favourite tracks from The Politics of Dancing, mainly because of its delicious chorus.

Revolution Now and on disc two, Life’s Too Dangerous were recorded for the soundtrack of Superman IV. The late Andy Gill from Gang of Four added guitar, and former Fashion vocalist Dave “Dee” Harris contributed backing vocals to these two strong tracks.

The first of two versions of the most well-known Re-Flex song, The Politics of Dancing, closes the first disc on the Vibrate Generate compilation. The remix is sympathetic to the original, with the wonderful guitar textures still front and centre in the chorus.

Opening disc two is Human, a new song with subtle nods to late 80s Bowie in its vocal styling. The powerful layered production makes this my favourite “new” song on the compilation.

The Politics Of Dancing‘s Hurt is presented in remixed form, without straying too far from it’s original incarnation. Love At First Sight (Alternative Version) is less 80s, more late 70s New Wave and offers a different take on the Re-Flex sound.

The second version of The Politics Of Dancing is a club remix, stripped back to keyboards and drum machine, with less guitar in the chorus.

The final track on disc two is one of the last songs recorded by the original Re-Flex line-up, Angry Man. Late 80s sampler technology mix with addictive guitar lines on the album closer.

Vibrate Generate works well as a “best of” or as an introduction to the music of Re-Flex, and is a perfect time capsule of the guitar and synth pop of the mid to late Eighties. The compilation includes exclusive sleeve-notes and background information written by band member Paul Fishman in 2022.

Buy Re-Flex – Vibrate Generate on Amazon

Disc One

Vibrate Generate *
Praying To The Beat (Remix)
How Much Longer (Remix) *
Wrong Decision (Remix) *
Jamming The Broadcast (Remix) *
Hitline
Couldn’t Stand A Day
Cut It (Music Re-Action Mix)
When Did You Stop Loving Me (Remix) *
Revolution Now (Remix) *
Sending Out A Message *
The Politics Of Dancing (Remix)

Disc Two

Human *
Give It Up *
Jamming The Broadcast (Alternative Version – Remix) *
Forever And Ever *
Something About You
How Much Longer (12ʺ Dance Remix) *
Life’s Too Dangerous *
Hurt (Music Re-Action Mix)
Love At First Sight (Alternative Version) *
The Politics Of Dancing (Club Mix – Remix)
Over The Top (Remix) *
Angry Man (Remix) *

*Previously unreleased

Buy Re-Flex – Vibrate Generate on Amazon





Tim Bowness – Butterfly Mind track-by-track album review

17 04 2022

Tim Bowness releases his 7th solo album Butterfly Mind as a Ltd. 2CD Edition, Ltd Edition LP+CD and digital album via InsideOut on June 17 2022.

Butterfly Mind features the stellar rhythm section of Richard Jupp (in his first major session since leaving Elbow) and Nick Beggs alongside a spectacular generation and genre spanning guest list including Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Dave Formula (Magazine), Peter Hammill (Van Der Graaf Generator), Martha Goddard (The Hushtones), Gregory Spawton (Big Big Train), Mark Tranmer (The Montgolfier Brothers, GNAC), Saro Cosentino (Franco Battiato), Italian Jazz musician Nicola Alesini, US singer Devon Dunaway (Ganga), Stephen W Tayler (Kate Bush) and, marking his first studio work with Tim for nearly three decades, former no-man violinist Ben Coleman.

Produced by Tim Bowness and Brian Hulse, Butterfly Mind was mixed and mastered by Steven Wilson.

Say Your Goodbyes bookends the album, with part one featuring added vocals from Peter Hammill, ushering in the album with a sense of foreboding as the sparse electronics give way to a powerful, distorted industrial arrangement that harks back to the no-man of Bleed / Say Baby Say Goodbye. This is not the first time I spot the DNA of no-man running through strands of the album, which should come as no surprise as Butterfly Mind was mixed and mastered by Steven Wilson and features Ben Coleman on three of it’s tracks.

Always The Stranger arrives at pace, propelled by the powerful beats of former Elbow drummer Richard Jupp, who adds a real feeling of urgency throughout the album.

“Yes, even their laughter gets you
and even their smiles destroy you.”

The backing vocals from Martha Goddard and the Bowness / Brian Hulse (now a regular contributor to much of Tim’s work) synths glisten underneath the delightful evolving arrangement. Nick Beggs adds a deep, mature bass line to one of my favourite tracks on the album.

The frenetic pace of Always The Stranger makes you savour the downtempo delights of It’s Easier To Love even more.

“Maybe it’s your age,
but everything feels colder.”

A fine Bowness ballad, It’s Easier To Love features a warm, restrained string arrangement from Saro Cosentino and added accompanying vocals from US dance / electronic vocalist Devon Dunaway, adding a unique, welcome texture to the song. Heavily treated / delayed sax from Nicola Alesini adds a delicious topping to the mix of instrumentation, that naturally evolves and builds throughout the song.

The second appearance from Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson (who also appears on the opening track), has Anderson really leaving his mark on one of the album’s heaviest tracks, We Feel. Peter Hammill adds guitar along with Brian Hulse, and Nick Beggs delivers a powerful and very inventive bass-line, one of his finest performances on the album. Devon Dunaway drops a Bowie like backing vocal around the mid-way point.

Tim has pulled out the stops with the multiple and varied guest appearances on Butterfly Mind, with musicians offering measured contributions that paint textures not heard before on his solo albums, whilst wisely having a core, stable band of Bowness, Hulse, Beggs and Jupp supplying the album with its cohesive identity.

Lost Player is one of the simpler arrangements, with a reverb-drenched drum pattern and sci-fi soundtrack synth waves, which then surprisingly shifts gear at the two minute mark, giving a chameleon-like transformation of sequenced synths and wordless, reflective hums from Bowness. This abrupt change in tone and theme should not work so well, but it really does deliver one of the albums most emotional moments.

Only A Fool features wonderful Associates like piano lines from Dave Formula (Magazine), on this percussive heavy, pacey piece. The bassline from Mr Beggs is simply delicious, and is another track I return to often, when not listening to the album in order, as the artist intended of course!

“The numbers are frightening,
so much blood on our hands.
we don’t need reminding,
the punch never lands”

After The Stranger features Gregory Spawton (Big Big Train) on bass pedals, on this short continuation of the earlier Always The Stranger, with 90s trip-hop referencing percussion from Richard Jupp.

Photo by Mark Wood

Glitter Fades is a tale of passing time and fading influence. Take us back… The electronic beats blend so well with the deep, late 80s feel of the electronics, and the lead vocal lines from Bowness are perfectly supported by Martha Goddard to add a touch of lightness. Stephen W Tayler contributes clarinet, and I’m reminded at times of the late Eighties synth soundscapes of Richard Barbieri during this very accessible and addictive track.

“We were a golden generation,
the darlings of a cultured age”

Ben Coleman adds violin to the final three tracks, starting with About The Light That Hits The Forest Floor. A late addition to the album, its another personal favourite. Unlike anything else on the album, the arrangement is light, measured and more organic. Deep bass and brush drums add to the warm mood offered by the song. The last couple of minutes are pure magic, as electronics melt into Coleman’s trademark emotive violin lines.

“It was the fight that made you hope for more”

And then we have Dark Nevada Dream. The longest track on Butterfly Mind is also its best. Hints of no-man from the Flowermouth and Returning Jesus eras sit deep in the arrangement. Dave Formula adds pulsating Hammond organ lines, with another fine Devon Dunaway contribution to the chorus.

“Speaking less,
drinking more”

Dark Nevada Dream skips by in an instant, and on my first listen one of my favourite parts was the Bowness spoken section towards the end of the song. It’s not quite a Bowness rap, so don’t worry, but it fits perfectly with the arrangement of one of my favourite solo tracks from Tim.

The core quartet excel on this song, and the contributions from the guest musicians take Dark Nevada Dream to another level.

I am sure this will be most listeners favourite track, and when the inevitable Best of Bowness album is compiled in a few years, Dark Nevada Dream will surely feature.

Say Your Goodbyes, Pt. 2 closes the album in a similar vein to the start of the journey, with the startling difference being the violent end section from Ben Coleman, duelling and driving out the organ swells, and bursting out of your speakers / headphones with clarity and force.

If you have opted for the vinyl version of Butterfly Mind, I would also recommend seeking out the limited double CD version. Disc two of this set features alternative takes of tracks from the album. The highlights include a powerful and raw take on Lost Player. This is the original solo demo from Tim and the track that started the whole project off, as Lost Player was the first song Tim wrote after eight months of doing covers and Plenty re-recordings. I also love the stunning alternative version of About The Light That Hits The Forest Floor along with the track that was for a while due to take its place in the original running order, Clearing Houses.

Photo by Mark Wood

Clearing Houses contains one of Tim’s most moving lyrics, driven by a direct simplicity that makes it sit amongst the finest of recent Bowness stories. Its so true that the four walls that surround and protect us throughout key points in our lives hold so many memories, and are so much more than just bricks and mortar. When we move to a new home, we often reflect on the loves, losses and growth we have witnessed. Clearing houses can mean taking time to reflect on the ghosts that live on in the photos taken in the home we are leaving for the final time. Alongside another fine Ian Anderson contribution, Clearing Houses deserves to be heard and enjoyed as so much more than ‘just’ an album out-take.

Butterfly Mind is the most rewarding solo album from Tim to date. Although it has a rich consistency due to the four key musicians who feature throughout, the guests add spice to every song they touch. I sometimes worry that utilising such high profile guests can take away the focus, but none of the musicians or vocalists on Butterfly Mind overshadow the songs or the arrangements. They all add unique flavours and a different personality to the mix, always adding and never detracting from a career best album.

Butterfly Mind Tracklist

Say Your Goodbyes, Pt. 1
Always The Stranger
It’s Easier To Love
We Feel
Lost Player
Only A Fool
After The Stranger
Glitter Fades
About The Light That Hits The Forest Floor
Dark Nevada Dream
Say Your Goodbyes, Pt. 2





David K Jones – Days In Corners album review

3 04 2022

Days In Corners is the first solo album from David K Jones (bass player with Moonshot, Plenty and The Swan Chorus). Developed in collaboration with Brian Hulse (Plenty / Tim Bowness) and Peter Goddard from demos recorded over 20 years ago, its creation became a lockdown labour of love.

The album includes guest performances by Tim Bowness, Darren Dean, Henry Rogers (Mostly Autumn), Jenny Whittaker and John Wilkinson (Mama / Moonshot).

Album opener rescue me builds from an 80s infused pop base, with some lovely progressive synth solos and a frenetic percussion backing.

The pace slows down with crazy rain, one of the album’s strongest songs. Vocalist Peter Goddard brings some of the wistfulness of Peter Coyle (The Lotus Eaters) to this perfectly paced lament. The electronics and synths work well with the more acoustic backing of piano and drums.

don’t go features some sterling percussion from Mostly Autumn drummer Henry Rogers and the arrangement and vocal styling reminds me of Liverpool’s It’s Immaterial, with a touch of early Elbow thrown in for good measure. Some fine bass work from David K Jones on this track, one of the most openly progressive pieces on the album. I would love to hear more songs in this vein.

The mood lightens with the more optimistic footprints in the sand, featuring a strong, melodic and memorable chorus.

David K Jones has worked with Tim Bowness as a member of Plenty, and contributed bass to three tracks on Tim’s 2019 album Flowers At The Scene as well as appearing on the Moonshot / Bowness spinoff album in 2020, so it is no surprise to hear Tim featuring on the dark balladry of world keeps turning. Tim’s vocals work well alongside Peter Goddard.

as good as it gets is a surprising slice of modern Americana, with an addictive chorus. that summer dials in the electronica, with a stripped back arrangement of bubbling sequencers, piano, bass and drum machine. Peter Goddard gives a strong vocal performance on one of the album’s standout tracks, with lyrics that drift through the changing of the season.

last cigarette features Mama / Moonshot vocalist John Wilkinson alongside Peter Goddard, with lyrics dedicated to Jeff Buckley. The vocal arrangement is outstanding on last cigarette.

The final two tracks head off into more familiar Plenty territory, with spin featuring Moonshot guitarist Darren Dean. The final track no more lullabies is a synth driven, lightly percussive farewell.

Days In Corners is an impressive solo debut from David K Jones. Although the album features a series of guest performers, there is a strong feeling of continuity throughout, with the album held together by the trio of Jones, Hulse and vocalist Peter Goddard.

Listen to Days In Corners on Spotify

Buy Days In Corners on CD from Burning Shed

Tracklist

rescue me
crazy rain
don’t go
footprints in the sand
world keeps turning
as good as it gets
that summer
last cigarette
spin
no more lullabies





Billy Mackenzie – Satellite Life: Recordings (1995-1996) review

21 02 2022

Satellite Life: Recordings (1995-1996) is a 3 CD set from Billy Mackenzie, released by Cherry Red on 22 April 2022, re-assembling past recordings with plenty of previously unreleased songs.

Hailing from Dundee, Scotland, Billy Mackenzie formed The Associates with Alan Rankine and the band enjoyed huge critical acclaim, chart success and cult status but the pair parted company in 1983 and Billy continued to record, for a while as The Associates and also in collaboration with other musicians, as well as releasing music as a solo artist.

Around 1994, Billy met Steve Aungle. The pair sparked off each other, prompting a purple patch for making new music. Some recordings appeared on two posthumous albums, Beyond The Sun (1997) and Eurocentric (2001). A couple more surfaced on Auchtermatic (2004).

However, Steve had long felt that the recordings hadn’t been presented or sequenced appropriately and in conjunction with Cherry Red, he has curated this new triple-CD collection, which re-assembles past recordings with previously unreleased songs, including collaborations with Dennis Wheatley and Laurence Jay Cedar, who also contribute to the CD booklet notes.

Disc one in the three CD set is titled Winter Academy, and mainly features songs from Beyond The Sun and Eurocentric. This first disc is Billy at his most melancholic, with mainly down-tempo songs. It’s perfectly sequenced, with stripped back arrangements for the early songs such as the majestic Sing That Song Again, highlighting the pure magic of Billy’s vocals. Winter Academy is the Beyond The Sun mix, not the Transmission Impossible version. An ice-cold arrangement chills, with a diamond sharp vocal performance that sits so well with the strings.

Billy’s version of Wild Is The Wind is a great companion piece to David Bowie’s take on the song. They are both classic recordings, and although I’ve lived with Bowie’s version for much longer, the held note towards the end blows my mind every single time I hear Billy perform this standard.

“Like a leaf clings
To the tree
Oh my darling,
Cling to me”

Another cover is Sparks Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth, with just piano, violin and vocals. When The World Was Young features Steve Aungle on piano, and Billy on vocals. The sixties influenced layered backing vocals make the track sound so much richer, and it’s a highlight of this first disc.

Two previously unreleased songs sit in the middle of disc one. Tallahatchie Pass is a Mackenzie/Aungle composition, and is a 70s sounding arrangement. I wonder if this song is a reference to Billie Joe McAllister and the Tallahatchie Bridge referenced in Bobbie Gentry’s Ode to Billie Joe? Tallahatchie Pass is a fine song, and offers us a style not really heard from Billy before, as a tantalising hint of what might have been.

Also previously unreleased is the dark cover of Randy Newman’s Baltimore, recorded with Dennis Wheatley. This is my favourite of the “new” tracks on this disc. The beatless, discordant and reverb drenched strings and vocals deliver an absolute classic, that could have easily been included on one of Billy’s studio albums. The arrangement reminds me of the mood of Bomb The Bass’s Winter In July (minus the beats, of course). Heavenly!

“Oh, Baltimore
Ain’t it hard just to live, just to live”

I was not surprised to see Nocturne VII and Beyond The Sun appear on this compilation, and Return To Love dials in the electronica of the second disc, Consenting Holograms.

The tempo increases for disc two. Opening with Beyond The Sun‘s manic, Middle Eastern flavoured 3 Gypsies In A Restaurant and Eurocentric‘s Falling Out With The Future, the synths are bubbling and the beats are pumping. No torch songs here.

Put This Right was recorded and written with Laurence Jay Cedar, and features a Giorgio Moroder inspired synth-fest backing, and a fine vocal from Mr MacKenzie. The unreleased tracks are a revelation! A second Laurence Jay Cedar track follows, with Diamanda. A more experimental dance track than Put This Right, with acid synths and cold soundscapes providing the perfect backing to an insistently catchy song that burrows into your brain. Disc two is made to play loud!

Hornophobic always reminds me of the Rankine / Associates Sulk era, and has aged particularly well, remaining one of Billy’s best later period pieces.

“Just walk, walk through your TVs
No room for deep thought, or heat-seeking missiles”

Fear Is My Bride features a touching vocal and an addictive chorus. Sadly, I wonder about the source material for this song (and to some extent, the vocal on Eurocentric), as the audio quality falls a little below the standard of the other tracks, but for the chorus alone, Fear Is My Bride deserves its inclusion.

14th Century Nightlife works well with another of the unreleased tracks, another lyric-less piece, the jittery Consenting Holograms Have More Fun.

Following on from the cover of Eurythmics Here Comes The Rain Again comes Eurocentric, propelled by a four to the floor kick-drum and an interesting vocal arrangement. We can only wonder how all of these previously unreleased songs would have developed over time, had Billy still been with us.

Mysterious Lover is sadly very much of its time, so not one of my favourites from the Consenting Holograms disc. Return To Love 2 is a previously unheard version of the Eurocentric track, and is a much brighter, and at times, lighter take on the song.

Give Me Time (remix) is a 9 minute exploration of the Beyond The Sun track, that also appears in it’s original form on disc 3 of this collection. The arrangement stretches and is almost a dub mix at times, with echoed percussion and deep-cut basslines. The last three minutes of this remix are a dream, with the music built around a Mackenzie harmony. Drop those depth charges baby! The original is still the definitive take, but this remix is worth returning to, and sounds so beautiful in the magical early hours.

Disc Three: Liberty Lounge includes six previously unreleased recordings, and rounds the collection off with some of Mackenzie’s more pop orientated material. Tomorrow People is a timeless piece of twisted pop-music. Possibly inspired by the early 70s UK television show, this would have made a great single, and would still sound good on the radio today. Release it to the airwaves, Cherry Red!

The Mountains That You Climb, with its whistle intro and deep strings, has a nostalgic 1960s feel. Hearing Billy’s vocals accompanied by Rhodes piano sends shivers. This song would have been the centrepiece of any future Billy Mackenzie album, in an alternative reality. The way he hold’s the vocal line before the chorus, is a Mackenzie trademark, built to tug on the heart-strings. I love the production (by White Label), and it soon became one of my favourites on the collection.

The quality does not drop with the next unreleased song, McArthur’s Son, another White Label production, benefiting from a fuller band line-up. Sounding like an out-take from a classic mid 70s album, I would have loved to have heard further recordings with this more organic style, so unlike any other songs we have heard graced with those angelic pipes. A genuine lost Mackenzie classic.

Reminding me of Bowie’s Lodger, Eurocentric‘s Liberty Lounge did not initially connect with me until I heard it on this compilation, which shows how this reimagining / sympathetic sequencing has done wonders for the material. There are no major audio improvements that I am aware of with the previously released tracks, but so many of the songs work so much better in this new environment.

We go back to Beyond The Sun for the next four tracks, and they are all killer, no filler, especially the Roxy Music art-rock of Sour Jewel and the aching Theme From Shaft meets Massive Attack influenced At The Edge Of The World. This song really highlights the raw emotion of Billy’s vocals. The album’s title track is from the Transmission Impossible album, and is another one that only really hit hard on this compilation.

A new version of a Beyond The Sun track is the next previously unheard songs. 14 Mirrors 2 strips back the instrumentation, with Billy accompanied by Steve Aungle on piano, giving this take a new, timeless appeal. Auchtermatic‘s Velvet whet’s your palette for the final two previously unreleased tracks.

Your Own Fire is a collaboration with Stiv Lestar, and sadly suffers compared to the other songs, sounding like it might have been sourced from a cassette master. Nonetheless Your Own Fire has an interesting arrangement, almost sounding like Billy backed by a rough and ready garage band.

The album ends with Von Hamburg, a haunting Mackenzie/Aungle composed piano and strings finale that is a fitting conclusion to a collection put together with so much love and respect.

I must admit to feeling a little worried about this compilation prior to hearing it, and whilst the audio quality dips on three of the songs, I agree with the inclusion of all of the unreleased material, which offers hints of what was possibly still to come from Billy, and definitely enhances his reputation as one of our most gifted singer / songwriters. Everyone marvels at his voice but don’t always give credit for his writing. Also bear in mind the timescale of these recordings – with so much quality to be heard, and such a wide musical vocabulary, all in the space of just two years, making this collection all the more remarkable, and a pure joy to listen to.

Pre-order Billy MacKenzie – Satellite Life: Recordings (1995-1996) at Amazon

Pre-order Billy MacKenzie – Satellite Life: Recordings (1995-1996) at Burning Shed

Disc One: Winter Academy

  1. Sing That Song Again
  2. Winter Academy
  3. Wild Is The Wind
  4. Blue It Is
  5. The Soul That Sighs
  6. Mother Earth
  7. And This She Knows
  8. When The World Was Young
  9. Tallahatchie Pass *
  10. Baltimore *
  11. Nocturne VII
  12. Beyond The Sun
  13. Return To Love

Disc Two: Consenting Holograms

  1. 3 Gypsies In A Restaurant
  2. Falling Out With The Future
  3. Put This Right *
  4. Diamanda *
  5. Hornophobic
  6. 14th Century Nightlife
  7. Consenting Holograms Have More Fun *
  8. Fear Is My Bride *
  9. Here Comes The Rain Again
  10. Eurocentric *
  11. Mysterious Lover *
  12. Return To Love 2 *
  13. Give Me Time (remix) *

Disc Three: Liberty Lounge

  1. Tomorrow People *
  2. The Mountains That You Climb *
  3. McArthur’s Son *
  4. Liberty Lounge
  5. Sour Jewel
  6. 14 Mirrors
  7. Give Me Time
  8. At The Edge Of The World
  9. Satellite Life
  10. 14 Mirrors 2 *
  11. Velvet
  12. Your Own Fire *
  13. Von Hamburg *

    * previously unissued




Tim Bowness & Giancarlo Erra – Memories of Machines review

31 01 2022

An expanded and remixed 10th Anniversary version of Tim Bowness and Giancarlo Erra’s 2011 album Warm Winter (now issued as Memories Of Machines, the original project name) will be released on 25th February 2022 through Kscope.

Featuring contributions from Robert Fripp, Peter Hammill, Julianne Regan, Jim Matheos, Colin Edwin, Huxflux Nettermalm, Peter Chilvers, Aleksei Saks and members of Nosound and Tim Bowness’s live bands, the album contains 12 sweeping and majestic songs.

Available on cd/dvd-a/v – with hi-res stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes – and double vinyl, the reissue contains two 2020 recordings – an album outtake and a new version of the 2006 Nosound piece Someone Starts To Fade Away – created especially for this release.

This new expanded edition of the album features a 2021 remix from the original tapes by Giancarlo Erra, and results in a very different album, with a warmer, more natural sounding release. Much as I loved the original version, I prefer this take on the songs. The songs sound more widescreen, if that makes sense? Comparing the original to this new version, the vocals are more central and more prominent in the mix, and there is more warmth added to the instrumentation. New Memories Of Machines ushers in a new era / Erra (sorry for the pun) of this classic album.

“Stories
Come out of other stories
Lead to other stories
New memories of machines”

Before We Fall features backing vocals from All About Eve’s Julianne Regan, and it’s always a joy to hear Julianne, and is a timely reminder that we need more music from one of our finest vocalists. The 2021 mix offers a smoother and more joined up version of this wonderful song. The chorus soars on this version, that contains a powerful guitar driven wall of sound.

It’s not love when we meet up
It’s not love when we speak
It’s not love when I say I can’t feel”

Beautiful Songs You Should Know has a slightly altered arrangement, with synth strings underpinning the song from earlier in the track, and the acoustic guitar is lower and less percussive in the 2021 version. As with all the songs on this re-imagining, the production feels more sympathetic, and this is not a criticism of the original, its a different, more organic listening experience.

“I want to play you
All the beautiful songs you should know.”

Warm Winter is slightly longer in this incarnation, and after all these years, it still cuts deep, with one of Tim’s finest vocals. On first listen, it was slightly jarring having the drums stripped from the majority of the arrangement, but their absence gives the song a different, more unique pace. When they do appear (in a more treated form) at the song’s conclusion, it highlights Giancarlo’s powerful guitar lines, that are also more distorted and layered than before.

Lucky You Lucky Me is a revelation, with the chorus sounding like sparkling audio diamonds have been dropped into the mix by Mr Erra. Some of the synth backing has been removed from the second verse, and simplifying the arrangement makes the chorus hit even harder. The guitar solo is different on this take – with a psychedelic, bluesy double riff suiting the more earthy arrangement and mix.

Change Me Once Again has the drums sat further back in the mix, which lets the gorgeous guitars take centre stage. A fine vocal by Mr Bowness, underpinned by the layered vocals of Julianne Regan, make this one of the album’s most rewarding songs. The Gilmour-esque guitars help make this a key track.

The piano and electronics are dialled down in the new mix of Something In Our Lives, which makes the layered chorus richer. The atmospherics and brooding mood marks a shift in tone for the album from this point on.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – the music of Lost And Found In The Digital World has a real feel of Brilliant Trees era David Sylvian, with the aching synths and the haunting trumpet of Aleksei Saks adding a new flavour to the soundscapes. This new version is one of the most improved by Giancarlo’s new mix, especially with the solos at around the half-way mark. In the original, the trumpet and the lead solo are competing for space, whereas in the new mix, they complement each other perfectly.

“It’s time for letting go.”

Schoolyard Ghosts loses some of the intro section here, and the song that takes some of it’s cues from no-man’s Mixtaped is here as a definitive version of this well-travelled song. The end section has a flavour of the restrained power of David Bowie’s Blackstar.

“You and Jules down vodka shots
To hide the feelings that you’ve got.
You love her eyes, you love her mouth,
You love her put on Rock-chick pout.”

The final track of the album proper is here in an extended form. At The Centre Of It All is a behemoth of a composition, and at the time of release was my favourite track on the album back in 2011, and my opinion has simply solidified hearing this new version. The funereal pace is interrupted by jagged solos bursting out like spikes of pain to disturb you and make you feel the hurt in the lyrics.

In my original review, I said: Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin contributes double bass to the song, as Giancarlo’s restrained guitar bookends the deep synth lines, as the “Beautiful Songs You Should Know” sadly become “Just pointless lists at the centre of it all.”

One of the most emotional and hard-hitting pieces of music from the entire rich catalogue of songs from Bowness and Erra, At The Centre Of It All has never sounded better.

“All the things that were meant to be,
All the love you were meant to feel,
Became too hard to reveal.”

The album concludes with two bonus tracks. Recorded in 2020, Dreamless Days feels like a long-lost no-man track. A discordant, slowly evolving riff underpinned by bass and an accordion gives way to a Mono band / avant-rock sounding end section, as Tim’s vocal loops see the song out.

The final extra track is a 2020 recording of the Nosound / Bowness piece Someone Starts To Fade Away. The original version was the first Bowness / Erra recorded collaboration, from the 2008 album Lightdark. This new recording features a similar riff based backing as Dreamless Days, as the sharp kaleidoscopic pieces replace the piano of the original recording. I hear hints of Flat Earth era Thomas Dolby in some of the arrangements twists and turns. Someone Starts To Fade Away fits so well on this album, and I do hope that these 2020 sessions lead to a new album from Tim and Giancarlo.

I can see this Kscope re-imagining of Memories of Machines leading to the album being heard and treasured by a larger audience than the original. And if you already own this album, the new version is a massive upgrade on the already amazing original, so I would urge you to buy this definitive version too.

Memories Of Machines is available as a 2 disc (CD/DVD), 2LP and digital album.

Buy Memories of Machines from Burning Shed

Buy Memories Of Machines CD from Amazon
Buy Memories Of Machines vinyl from Amazon

Tracklisting

New Memories Of Machines [01:25]
Before We Fall [05:10]
Beautiful Songs You Should Know [05:37]
Warm Winter [06:00]
Lucky You Lucky Me [04:26]
Change Me Once Again [05:46]
Something In Our Lives [04:08]
Lost And Found In The Digital World [05:25]
Schoolyard Ghosts [04:53]
At The Centre Of It All [09:49]
Dreamless Days (outtake) [04:31]
Someone Starts To Fade Away (2020 TBGE) (04:51)





Wolfgang Flür – Magazine 1 album review

26 01 2022

Magazine 1 is a new electronic album from former Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flür, in partnership with Peter Duggal and featuring guest appearances from Midge Ure (Ultravox), Peter Hook (New Order) and Claudia Brücken (Propaganda), plus contributions from contemporary artists MAPS, Juan Atkins, Carl Cox, U96, Anushka and Ramón Amezcu (AKA Bostich).

The 9 song album is a celebration of techno-pop, and will appeal to fans of electronic music, as well as Kraftwerk fans.

Deep bass synths and classic 80s drum machines propel opener Magazine.

Read all about it!”

The album has a consistent lyrical theme running throughout, with a commentary on the dis-jointed times we live in, the information we are force-fed, all delivered from a humanist stance, although not always from the viewpoint of humans!

Zukunftsmusi, the first of three U96 collaborations, is a power-house of electronic “Music of the Future”, with a compelling mixture of ice-cold synth lines, topped with rich percussion patterns. A synth motif that reminds me of Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds as well as Close Encounters of the Third Kind breaks out of the mix around the half-way mark of Zukunftsmusik.

The second track featuring U96 is the anti-consumerism Best Buy, with a charmingly bonkers vocal performance and an up-tempo, naggingly addictive melody.

“Take-away, night and Day”

Das Beat features Midge Ure, with a warm tale of how music is universal (“beats in Moscow, beats in France”) and a few sounds that appear to lovingly reference Wolfgang’s former band. The chorus stays with you long after the song has finished, which is always enjoyable.

Birmingham features former New Order bassist Peter Hook and vocals from Ex-Propaganda singer Claudia Brücken, and is my favourite song on the album. I’ve loved Claudia’s work since A Secret Wish in 1985, and this is a perfect mix of the darkness of German electronic music, with a sprinkling of early New Order magic (that bass!). The contributions from Peter and Claudia are a potent and powerful blend, and it is worth buying the album for this track alone.

Night Drive draws from a more contemporary electronic palette, and the final U96 appearance (along with Carl Cox) is the charming tale of the life of a robot, Electric Sheep. There may be more to this robot than we initially think. Be afraid!

Detroit’s Juan Atkins joins Wolfgang on Billionaire (Symphony Of Might), a song of greed feeding environmental disaster (“The world needs more wealth, not more people”). Another strong chorus lets us know who has the power and control in this story. Isn’t that always the way?

Magazine 1 ends with the simple but powerful messaging of the anti-war Say No! The music perfectly underpins the lyrics, with slow build ups to the multiple anthemic choruses. This life-affirming song, with its nod to the music of the past along with a promise of a peaceful future, is an emotional climax from this powerful album.

“There’s only one thing to do, say no”

Wolfgang Flür – Magazine 1 is released via Cherry Red on 4 March 2022

Buy Magazine 1 on CD from Amazon

Buy Magazine 1 on vinyl from Amazon

  1. Magazine [ft. Ramón Amezcua]
  2. Zukunftsmusik [ft. U96]
  3. Best Buy [ft. U96]
  4. Das Beat [ft. Midge Ure]
  5. Birmingham [ft. Claudia Brücken & Peter Hook]
  6. Night Drive [ft. Anushka]
  7. Electric Sheep [ft. Carl Cox & U96]
  8. Billionaire (Symphony Of Might) [ft. Juan Atkins]
  9. Say No! (ft. MAPS)

Follow Wolfgang Flür on Facebook





Big Big Train – Welcome To The Planet track-by-track album review

13 01 2022

Big Big Train release their new album Welcome To The Planet on their own label, English Electric Recordings on 28 January 2022. The new album comes shortly after their 2020 release, Common Ground, and was completed before the untimely passing of their vocalist David Longdon in November 2021.

David is one of my favourite vocalists, and as each album from Big Big Train is released, it has been a joy to listen to the band progressing, exploring new lyrical themes and musical landscapes. David’s rich vocals, along with his powerful and intelligent songwriting, will be missed by all fans of the band.

Welcome To The Planet is the second album recorded during the pandemic, and with the new line-up of the band.

After teasing us with a series of stand-alone streaming releases, the album was confirmed late last year. Big Big Train founder Gregory Spawton explained the short gap between albums: “The experience of the pandemic has shown us that we need to make the best use of our time on Earth. With that in mind and with new band members on board giving us a fresh head of steam, we decided on a speedy return to the studio to write and record Welcome To The Planet.”

The album opens with Made From Sunshine, a duet between David Longdon and Clare Lindley, the band’s violinist. An uplifting, optimistic take on new life and new beginnings bringing joy. It will bring a smile to your face, and acts as a perfect tonic for these troubled times we find ourselves living through.

“It’s clear to see, we’re on cloud nine.”

The Connection Plan is a Nick D’Virgilio song about connecting with others despite our differences. Driven by an insistent violin and a bass-line that cuts through from Greg Spawton, lovely mellotron lines feature to warm the hearts of the traditional prog-heads!

The vocal arrangement of the chorus is a real highlight of The Connection Plan.

“Kill the spotlight, power and might”

Two Greg Spawton composed tracks take their place in the album’s well-sequenced running order. Lanterna was inspired by the 16th Century Lanterna di Genova (the Lighthouse of Genoa).

Lanterna has a beautiful, slow-paced but intricate introduction section that highlights the warm timbre of David Longdon’s voice, before the tempo picks up and the band kicks in.

The riffs intertwine and fight for your attention, with some of the guitar lines reminding me of the work of Alan Murphy on Kate Bush’s Experiment IV single.

Capitoline Venus is a pared back recording featuring David on vocals / keyboards and Greg on 12-string guitar. A short, sweet and direct love song.

“I have seen enough. And found home”

A Room With No Ceiling is the first of two instrumental tracks on Welcome To The Planet. Written by guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom, A Room With No Ceiling is a jazz-hued progressive piece that drips with delicious hammond organ and rhodes piano, topped off with accordion and military paced drums. The refrain at the end of this song is very moving.

Proper Jack Froster kicks off the second section of the album. The lyrics tell the tale of Greg Spawton’s early childhood in the Midland’s. The song is a nostalgic and personal track, with a powerful vocal interplay between David and Carly Bryant. Wurlitzer electric piano and sleigh bells feature on Proper Jack Froster, as it perfectly captures the spirit of a 70s winter snowscape.

“Flying down the hills
On a sledge with rusty rails
One last run then home”

The album’s second instrumental is the Nick D’Virgilio penned Bats In The Belfry. One of my favourite tracks on the album, the percussive heavy piece is the most powerful performance I have heard from D’Virgilio as a member of Big Big Train. The drum section after the mid-song breakdown is stunning, and makes you want to go back to the beginning of the track to hear it all over again. And again.

Oak And Stone is the longest song on Welcome To The Planet, weighing in at just over seven minutes, so no “epics” on this album, but this is not an issue as all the tracks are so strong and the album works so well as a complete body of work.

Oak And Stone looks back at a life lived. The warm, laid back drums from Nick and the strong vocal performance from David (with powerful harmony vocals from Nick and David) in the coda make this such an enjoyable track, that will probably be an early favourite for many fans.

“Time to put this thing to rest
Time to leave the empty stage”

The album closes with the title track, and the band have saved the best till last. Written by new keyboard player Carly Bryant, and featuring Carly and David on vocals, the amazing rich harmonies, along with the dystopian lyrics, deliver a haunting track that give me strong J. G. Ballard vibes.

The space in the arrangement, with the sparse lyrics, make this track stand-out in the Big Big Train catalogue, and is a perfect example of how new band members are always welcome to add their creativity and personality to the mix with this most collaborative of bands.

The biggest surprise with Welcome To The Planet is the wide variety of styles and moods that inhabit the album. Having the writing split amongst the band members – both established and new – gives Welcome To The Planet a sense of vibrancy and playfulness that makes it one of the best albums from the band.

Buy the album (vinyl, CD plus bundle packages) at Burning Shed
Buy the CD from Amazon
Buy the vinyl from Amazon

Part One
Made From Sunshine
The Connection Plan
Lanterna
Capitoline Venus
A Room With No Ceiling

Part Two
Proper Jack Froster
Bats In The Belfry
Oak And Stone
Welcome To The Planet





1979: Revolt Into Style: 76 Year Defining Tracks – 3 CD set review

30 12 2021

Cherry Red are continuing their review of the late 70s music scene, with the latest 3 CD set Revolt Into Style released on 21 January 2022 and concentrating on 1979, which just happens to be my favourite year in music.

The four hours of music contained in the 3 CD’s includes more obscure offerings sitting alongside some of the major new wave artists who were spewing out three minute classic singles that are on offer here, along with choice album cuts from The Stranglers, Madness, Tubeway Army, Ian Dury, Squeeze, XTC and more.

Disc One opens with the track that gives it’s name to the compilation. Former Be-Bop Deluxe front-man Bill Nelson, with the second single from his band Red Noise’s only studio album Sound-on-Sound. The single version of Magazine’s Rhythm Of Cruelty is included and is a perfect example of how there was a real pop sensibility seeping into the new wave and alternative music of 1979.

The Dr. Feelgood R&B / new wave of The Cannibals You Can’t is one of the less well-known songs on this compilation. The Only Ones are represented by the fine 7″ version of You Got To Pay, and another highlight on the first disc is a rarely heard gem by Scotland’s Fingerprintz, with the unbelievably catchy Night Nurse.

The Staircase (Mystery) is one of the finest early Siouxsie And The Banshees singles, and as a non-album track, is a welcome addition here. Replicas Me, I Disconnect From You by Tubeway Army signals the beginning of Gary Numan’s firm hold on the UK charts that would last for several years into the mid-80s, with Numan continuing to delight his audience right up to the present day.

The final X-Ray Spex single Highly Inflammable is a more synth infused pop song than their earlier four iconic single releases, and the first incarnation of the band split soon after this release in mid 1979. Victims Of The Riddle (Part 1) was the first single from Toyah and features on the wonderful Sheep Farming In Barnet deluxe edition that was released by Cherry Red in 2000.

Despite the mighty Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3 being released in 1979, Cherry Red have included an album track for this compilation, choosing Sink My Boats from Do It Yourself. The inclusion of this fine track will hopefully turn more people on to this excellent album.

Disc Two opens with Up The Junction, one of Squeeze’s finest singles (and one of the bands greatest lyrics). The quality continues with one of The Clash’s lesser known tracks, Groovy Times from The Cost Of Living EP.

The Skids Masquerade was produced by Bill Nelson, and remains one of the band’s strongest singles, of which there were many!

Former Deaf School guitarist and 80s production heavyweight Clive Langer with his band The Boxes contribute The Whole World, that also features future Siouxsie And The Banshees / The Creatures drummer Budgie on bass (and of course, drums). An early Zoo Records recording of Read It In Books from Echo And The Bunnymen is another highlight of the second disc, as is the Gang Of Four’s At Home He’s A Tourist.

The Jags Back Of My Hand was a top 20 hit and was all over the airwaves in 1979. Bouncing Babies (Zoo version) from The Teardrop Explodes still sounds great (as does the whole of the band’s catalogue). Adam and the Ants Whip In My Valise was the b side to the Zerox single, and was recorded by the pre-Kings of the Wild Frontier line-up of the band. The next version of Adam and the Ants from 1980 onwards were one of the 80s biggest and most influential bands.

Birmingham band Fashion offer a John Foxx / Ultravox sounding single Citinite. A later line-up of the band released one of my favourite 80s albums in 1982, with Fabrique. The Undertones were another great late 70s singles band and Here Comes The Summer was one of their most memorable early hits.

The Pretenders second single Kid is a piece of pure-pop perfection from the original, classic line-up of the band led by one of the best new wave vocalists and songwriters, Chrissie Hynde. When You’re Young by The Jam was a non-album single, but was included on a later re-issue of Setting Sons and on compilations such as About The Young Idea: The Very Best Of The Jam.

The Ruts Something That I Said was a top 20 hit for the band, and was re-recorded for their album The Crack. A rare mis-step on the compilation is the inclusion of The Stranglers Don’t Bring Harry, not one of the bands finest moments, and the fact that any track on their 1979 album The Raven (Duchess, the title track or Baroque Bordello) would have represented the bands output from this year so much better.

The final disc in the compilation opens with one of XTC’s greatest singles, and their first big hit, Making Plans For Nigel, with a drum sound that would be so prevalent over the early years of the next decade.

Manchester band Passage contribute the wonderful stop / start Taking My Time single and one of Kirk Brandon’s early bands The Pack are represented with the Rough Trade single Number 12.

The Human League’s Empire State Human has always been one of my favourite tracks from the band, along with their near perfect take on You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ from the same album as Empire State Human, Reproduction.

Work All Week by The Mekons has an intro similar to The Vapors Turning Japanese, whilst Public Image Ltd offer the single version of Memories, which, of course, is followed by punk pastiche band The Monks (featuring former Strawbs members Richard Hudson and John Ford) with Johnny B Rotten.

Chris Sievey (later known for the comic persona Frank Sidebottom) and his band The Freshies are represented by Children Of The World from the EP The Men from Banana Island Whos Stupid Ideas Never Caught On in the Western World as We Know It. Prisoners is the debut single from The Vapors and starts the journey for a band that are still releasing quality music today – check out their 2020 album Together that features a career highlight with Girl From The Factory.

Another rarely heard track is 7 Teen by The Regents, a top 20 hit late in 1979. The Boys (who also released Christmas songs as The Yobs!) supply the Chris Spedding (Motor Bikin’) meets Roxy Music influenced Kamikaze.

The Carpettes Easy Way Out was a Beggars Banquet single from late 1979, and still sounds powerful today. A raw, early Scritti Politti track Messthetics from the Work In Progress EP is rhythmically and musically challenging but does hint at the wonderful music that was to come in the next few years from Green Gartside’s band.

Spizzenergi’s classic Where’s Captain Kirk? is another highlights from this year. I’ve still got the 7″ single somewhere.

1979: Revolt Into Style is a great collection, and also does a good job of highlighting some of the less well-known alternative / new wave songs from 1979, whilst documenting the rapid move into the post-punk and electronic era of UK music.

Buy 1979: Revolt Into Style

Disc One

Bill Nelson’s Red Noise – Revolt Into Style
Eddie And The Hot Rods – Media Messiahs
Andy Arthurs – I Feel Flat
Magazine – Rhythm Of Cruelty (single version)
The Cannibals – You Can’t
John Cooper Clarke – ¡Gimmix! Play Loud
Dead Fingers Talk – The Boyfriend
The Only Ones – You Got To Pay
Glaxo Babies – Who Killed Bruce Lee?
Sham 69 – Questions And Answers (single version)
Fingerprintz – Night Nurse
Siouxsie And The Banshees – The Staircase (Mystery)
The Squares – Stop Being A Boy
The Fall – Rebellious Jukebox
Alternative TV – Graves Of Deluxe Green
Patrik Fitzgerald – All Sewn Up
Tubeway Army – Me, I Disconnect From You
The Outsiders – White Debt
The Members – Soho-A-Go-Go
Three Party Split – Dubious Parentage
X-Ray Spex – Highly Inflammable
Jonnie And The Lubes – I Got Rabies
Toyah – Victims Of The Riddle (Part 1)
Ian Dury And The Blockheads – Sink My Boats

Disc Two

Squeeze – Up The Junction
The Clash – Groovy Times
The Records – Girls That Don’t Exist
The Skids – Masquerade
Clive Langer And The Boxes – The Whole World
Echo And The Bunnymen – Read It In Books
The Faders – Library Book
Gang Of Four – At Home He’s A Tourist
Joy Division – Disorder
The Numbers – Alternative Suicide 11 The
The Jags – Back Of My Hand
The Teardrop Explodes – Bouncing Babies (Zoo version)
The Cravats – Burning Bridges
Adam And The Ants – Whip In My Valise
Fashion – Citinite
The Undertones – Here Comes The Summer
Cult Figures – Zip Nolan (extended mix)
Pretenders – Kid
The Quads – There Must Be Thousands
The Jam – When You’re Young
The Cheetahs – Radio-Active
The Ruts – Something That I Said
The Teenbeats – I Can’t Control Myself
The Stranglers – Don’t Bring Harry
The Barracudas – I Want My Woody Back

Disc Three

XTC – Making Plans For Nigel
The Revillos – Where’s The Boy For Me?
The Monochrome Set – The Monochrome Set (single version)
Passage – Taking My Time
Swell Maps – Real Shocks
The Zipps – Friends
Disco Zombies – Disco Zombies
The Pack – Number 12
The Human League – Empire State Human
The Wall – Kiss The Mirror
The Mekons – Work All Week
999 – Found Out Too Late
The Outcasts – Self Conscious Over You
Public Image Ltd – Memories (single version)
The Monks – Johnny B Rotten
The Freshies – Children Of The World
The Vapors – Prisoners
Madness – Bed And Breakfast Man
Secret Affair – Glory Boys
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Dance Stance (demo)
The Regents – 7 Teen
The Lurkers – New Guitar In Town
The Boys – Kamikaze
The Carpettes – Easy Way Out
Scritti Politti – Messthetics
Spizzenergi – Where’s Captain Kirk?
Notsensibles – I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher

Buy 1979: Revolt Into Style





News: David Bowie – TOY:BOX (previously unreleased Toy album Box-Set)

29 09 2021

TOY:BOX is a special edition of the unreleased David Bowie TOY album available as a 3CD boxset, and is due to be released on 7th January 2022. The sleeve artwork was designed by Bowie featuring a photo of him as a baby with a contemporary face. The package also contains a 16-page full-colour book featuring previously unseen photographs.

TOY was recorded following his Glastonbury 2000 performance. Bowie entered the studio with his band to record new interpretations of songs he had first recorded in the period 1964-1971.

Also included in TOY:BOX is a second CD of alternative mixes and versions including proposed B-Sides (versions of David’s debut single ‘Liza Jane’ and 1967’s ‘In The Heat Of The Morning’), later mixes by Tony Visconti and the ‘Tibet Version’ of ‘Silly Boy Blue’ recorded at The Looking Glass Studio time at the of the 2001 Tibet House show in New York featuring Philip Glass on piano and Moby on guitar.

The third CD features ‘Unplugged & Somewhat Slightly Electric’ mixes of thirteen TOY tracks.

Pre-order the Toy (Toy:Box) CD box-set

CD1

TOY

I Dig Everything
You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving
The London Boys
Karma Man
Conversation Piece
Shadow Man
Let Me Sleep Beside You
Hole In The Ground
Baby Loves That Way
Can’t Help Thinking About Me
Silly Boy Blue
Toy (Your Turn To Drive)

Produced by David Bowie & Mark Plati
Engineered by Pete Keppler
Mixed by Mark Plati Assisted by Hector Castillo, Steve Mazur, and Todd Parker
Recorded at Sear Sound, The Looking Glass & Alice’s Restaurant in New York City, Summer 2000

CD 2

TOY- Alternatives & Extras

Liza Jane
You’ve Got A Habit of Leaving (alternative mix) *
Baby Loves That Way (alternative mix) *
Can’t Help Thinking About Me (alternative mix)
I Dig Everything (alternative mix)
The London Boys (alternative version)
Silly Boy Blue (Tibet version)
Let Me Sleep Beside You (alternative mix) *
In The Heat Of The Morning
Conversation Piece (alternative mix) *
Hole In The Ground (alternative mix)
Shadow Man (alternative mix) *
Toy (Your Turn To Drive) (alternative mix) *

Produced by David Bowie & Mark Plati except ‘The London Boys’ additional production by Tony Visconti
‘Silly Boy Blue’ (Tibet version) Produced by David Bowie & Tony Visconti
Engineered by Pete Keppler at Sear Sound, assisted by Todd Parker
Engineered by Mark Plati at Alice’s Restaurant
Recorded at Sear Sound, The Looking Glass & Alice’s Restaurant in New York City, Summer 2000
Except ‘Silly Boy Blue’ (Tibet version) recorded at The Looking Glass, 2001
Mixed by Tony Visconti, assisted by Darren S. Moore at the Manhattan Center, early 2001
Except ‘Liza Jane’ & ‘In The Heat Of The Morning’ mixed by Mark Plati, assisted by Hector Castillo at The Looking Glass.
*Previously released

CD 3

TOY – Unplugged & Somewhat Slightly Electric

In The Heat Of The Morning (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
I Dig Everything (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
You’ve Got A Habit of Leaving (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
The London Boys (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
Karma Man (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
Conversation Piece (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
Shadow Man (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
Let Me Sleep Beside You (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
Hole In The Ground (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
Baby Loves That Way (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
Can’t Help Thinking About Me (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
Silly Boy Blue (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)
Toy (Your Turn To Drive) (Unplugged & somewhat slightly electric mix)

Produced by David Bowie & Mark Plati
Engineered by Pete Keppler
Mixed by Mark Plati, assisted by Hector Castillo, Steve Mazur & Todd Parker
Recorded at Sear Sound, The Looking Glass & Alice’s Restaurant in New York City, Summer 2000
All songs written by David Bowie except ‘Liza Jane’ written by Leslie Conn.

TOY MUSICIANS:

David Bowie: lead & backing vocals, Korg Triton
Sterling Campbell: drums, claps
Gail Ann Dorsey: bass, clarinet, backing vocals
Mike Garson: piano, organ, synth, Fender Rhodes
Emm Gryner: backing vocals, clarinet
Holly Palmer: backing vocals, percussion
Mark Plati: acoustic & electric guitars, bass, Mellotron, backing vocals
Earl Slick: acoustic & electric guitars

Augmented by the following musicians on certain recordings:

Tony Visconti: bass, string arrangements
Lisa Germano: violin, accordion, mandolin, recorder, backing vocals
Gerry Leonard: electric guitar
Cuong Vu: trumpet
Strings – The Scorchio Quartet
Moby – electric guitar
Philip Glass – piano

Pre-order the Toy (Toy:Box) CD box-set


Find out about the David Bowie – Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001) CD & Vinyl box-sets






Al Stewart – Time Passages reissue review

2 09 2021

Cherry Red Records are releasing a deluxe 4 disc boxed set of Al Stewart’s 1978 album, Time Passages. A 2-CD version (without the extra live disc / 5.1 DVD) is also available.

The album has been newly remastered from the original first generation master tapes by Alan Parsons, and features bonus tracks, including single versions, demos and live tracks.

Disc four is a high resolution 96 Khz / 24-Bit 5.1 Alan Parsons surround sound mix, from the original multi-track tapes and the comprehensive booklet includes an exclusive interview with Al Stewart.

I (slightly) prefer Time Passages to it’s predecessor, the still wonderful Year Of The Cat. It captures that late 70s pop / rock feel so well.

The title track features some fine guitar work from Tim Renwick and the drums on the album are provided by Stuart Elliott (Kate Bush / Paul McCartney), with an appearance from the legendary Jeff Porcaro on the second track, Valentina Way.

Time Passages was recorded in Los Angeles, and the sound of the city seeps through on many of the tracks. The Palace of Versailles is an exception to this – with a European feel befitting the subject matter. Almost Lucy is driven by a fabulous percussion arrangement and contains one of the album’s most affecting vocal performances.

The acoustic flavoured Timeless Skies could have sat comfortably on one of America’s earlier albums. The second single from the album, Song on the Radio, has a delicious chorus, accompanied by a very much of it’s time sax solo. End of the Day is a gentle, jazzy end to the album. Disc one is complete with the up-tempo bonus track, Tonton Macoute, one of those songs where once you’ve heard it, it sticks in you brain for hours.

Disc two collects together single mixes, demos and live tracks. The demos are decent quality. Life In A Bottle reminds me a little of John Lennon in it’s arrangement. It’s a shame that a studio version of this song was not included on the main album. The Palace of Versailles demo is largely intact, but obviously lacking the final technicolour magic that would be applied by Alan Parsons.

The Hollywood Sign (on St. Stephen’s Day) aka TimeLess Skies finishes off the demo cuts (that also include an early demo of Tonton Macoute)

The remainder of disc two and the whole of disc 3 is made up of a good quality recording of Stewart’s show in Chicago from late October 1978. Al Stewart being a storyteller pays dividends in a live setting, with lots of gentle between song chat and background info for some of the tracks. Time Passages, The Palace of Versailles, a 10 minute Year of the Cat and The Pink Panther Theme (as a way of introducing the band) are my favourite live cuts in this collection.

Disc 4 (not supplied for review) contains the new high resolution 96 Khz / 24-Bit 5.1 surround sound mix & original re-mastered stereo mix By Alan Parsons. This is the definitive version of a classic late seventies album, that still hits the spot if you love music from this era.

Buy Al Stewart Time Passages (3CD/1DVD Limited Edition Box Set)
Buy Al Stewart Time Passages (2CD Expanded Edition) – remastered album + single mixes, 4 demos & 6 live tracks








%d bloggers like this: