the jason shergold music collector site

Friday, 17 February 2017

Welcome


Hello there and welcome to the "Jason Shergold Music Collector Site".

This blog features articles about various bands and singers, and how to go (more or less) about collecting their records. In the main, the articles will be aimed at people trying to get a collection together from scratch, looking at shortcuts to doing so where they exist, but some articles will be a bit more specialised, with features of video releases, Japanese pressings, etc. As it's built using a Blogger template, it can - at times - look a bit DIY, just think of it as the internet version of "Sniffin' Glue".

As a UK based music fan, most of these articles will revolve around UK discographies, but not necessarily just for UK bands. Although, for some artists featured, their discographies will continue to grow, the post-iTunes scenario is that you can more or less guess what formats albums and singles will be released on nowadays, so these blogs in the main will help to fill in the gaps when multiple physical formats were all the rage.

The blog will be updated at least once every month - if you find that the homepage does not show the Tamla logo above, it will be that the site is being updated, and may not be available for viewing for an hour or two. The updates are expected to occur initially at the start of each month, any later blogs to be published that month will appear at random as the weeks progress. You will be able to click on older editions using the menu buttons in the top right.

The February 2017 edition is now online, with a look at the Cliff And The Shadows EP releases.

The blog is also home to my "novel within a website", 'How I Learned To Hate Record Collecting', looking at the workings of the UK record industry. Click on any month from 2014 to view one of the twelve parts that form the whole article. And also check out my online photo collection of tour t-shirts, the accurately titled "Rock & Roll T Shirts" by clicking here: rockandrolltshirts.smugmug.com.

Please note: If you ever notice "newer" pages listed top right, this will be the new issue "in progress" - if you click on it, the whole page will not load. When the new issue is ready, it will be mentioned on this page. You can click on previous years tabs to get previous articles. Once you have selected that year, you can click on a different month to look at different acts.

The acts featured appear in the months listed below:
Adam And The Ants - October 2013
All Saints - February 2014
Lily Allen - August 2010
Ash - April 2014
Atomic Kitten - June 2013
Badly Drawn Boy - November 2014
The Beatles - September 2011 / March 2015 / October 2016
The Beautiful South - December 2014
Victoria Beckham - March 2016
Beyoncé - May 2013
Biffy Clyro - June 2014
Blondie - January 2011 / September 2013
Blur - August 2011 / July 2012 / October 2013
David Bowie - September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / January 2011 / June 2012 / September 2014 / January 2016 / May 2016 / July 2016 / September 2016 / November 2016 / December 2016
Emma Bunton - March 2016
Kate Bush - July 2013
Buzzcocks - December 2011
Belinda Carlisle - October 2013
The Charlatans - February 2014
The Clash - May 2011
Elvis Costello - January 2013 / September 2013
Sheryl Crow - June 2013
The Cure - December 2011 / April 2016
Deep Purple - March 2010
Depeche Mode - May 2012
The Doors - December 2013
Bob Dylan - November 2013
Echobelly - February 2015
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - August 2011
Embrace - November 2013
The Flaming Lips - November 2011
Foo Fighters - May 2014
Peter Gabriel - August 2013
Genesis - April 2011 / January 2014
Girls Aloud - August 2010 / November 2013
Goldfrapp - August 2013
Green Day - June 2014
Geri Halliwell - March 2016
Deborah Harry - January 2011
Jimi Hendrix - September 2010
Inspiral Carpets - April 2012
The Jam - May 2013
Elton John - August 2012 / September 2012 / October 2012 / November 2012
Joy Division - March 2011
Kenickie - October 2010
The Kinks - November 2010 / April 2011 / May 2013
Led Zeppelin - November 2015
John Lennon - May 2013
Pixie Lott - February 2011
Madness - November 2011
Madonna - April 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / March 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / March 2012 / November 2012 / January 2013 / November 2013 / March 2014 / August 2015 / January 2016 / June 2016 / December 2016
Mansun - August 2011
Dannii Minogue - September 2011
The Moody Blues - October 2015
Morrissey - April 2014
Kate Nash - February 2011
New Order - October 2012
Nirvana - June 2011 / December 2012
Oasis - April 2013
Pet Shop Boys - May 2011 / June 2011
Pink Floyd - January 2011 / July 2011
P!nk - April 2012
Elvis Presley - March 2011 / October 2011 / November 2013 / December 2013 / January 2014
Prince - January 2015
Pulp - August 2011
Queen - December 2010 / September 2011
Lou Reed - September 2015
Cliff Richard & The Shadows - July 2011 / February 2017
Rolling Stones - July 2010 / October 2010 / March 2011
The Saturdays - April 2011
Siouxsie & The Banshees - March 2013 / July 2014
Slade - May 2012
Sleeper - December 2013
Smashing Pumpkins - June 2012
The Smiths - June 2010
Britney Spears - November 2010 / December 2010
Spice Girls - February 2016
Bruce Springsteen - February 2012
Status Quo - January 2012
Cat Stevens - February 2012
Rachel Stevens - July 2011
The Stranglers - February 2010 / December 2011 / May 2013 / September 2013 / December 2013 / July 2014 / October 2014 / May 2015 / December 2015
Suede - August 2011
Sugababes - August 2012
Super Furry Animals - September 2014
Supergrass - August 2014
TRex - December 2010
Theaudience - August 2011
Thin Lizzy - February 2013
The Thrills - June 2015
Tin Machine - December 2010
Tubeway Army - August 2016
U2 - March 2012 / December 2012
Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons - January 2017
The Velvet Underground - October 2010
The Walker Brothers - June 2011
Scott Walker - September 2010 / February 2013
Paul Weller - December 2014
The Who - May 2010 / August 2012 / July 2013
Kim Wilde - October 2013
Yes - July 2015
Neil Young - April 2015

Blogger can have a mind of it's own at times, so if you click on a year and get NO menu, click on the arrow next to the year, and you should get the list of months for that year to help you navigate a bit easier. To return to the homepage, you can click on the tab for the current year. Several blogs are in production, with articles on REM and U2 due over the next few months.

You can email me using the link above, and if you can add any information, you can add comments to the blog using the link at the bottom of the relevant page. Regards, Jason.

























































Frankie say NO to downloads!

Cliff & The Shadows: The EP's


My sister currently lives in a town called Rochford. It is home to a café called The Beehive, and behind the café, there is a huge shed full of second hand LP’s that they knock out for a pound each. Mostly greatest hits sets, but for anybody wanting to track down a best of on Tamla, or eager to find those Elvis albums on Camden, well, they probably have them.

In the café itself, they have in their window display a set of 7” singles. It turns out that somebody who runs the café is related to a local record dealer, and not only are all the albums part of his stock, but he also has more collectible items in the vaults. The window display has a selection of these items. When I first went in there, the singles were either ones I had, or were by artists I didn’t like. But at various points, the selection would change, and they started to stock Elvis and then Cliff EP’s.

The EP, in it’s original form, was a late 50s invention that had fallen out of favour within a decade. It was a curious format. Many EP’s simply cobbled together old hits, cost more than a normal 45, and offered the fan nothing new, which resulted in some EP’s by major artists selling in pitiful numbers, which resulted in them becoming hugely collectible. In some of my articles on this site, I have avoided the EP because I have thought they were either worthy of their own article, or I simply didn’t own enough of them. I had always been slightly put off the prospect of trying to track them down, even though I had long owned the Stones' studio ones, as I figured I was looking at a potentially expensive set of releases. But some of these Cliff ones, by all accounts, sold in big numbers, and thus can be picked up quite cheaply. The Cliff EP’s this shop has stocked have thus now entered the collection, despite the fact that none of the ones I have bought there so far have included anything rare.

As mentioned in my last Cliff blog in 2011, Cliff (with The Shads, sometimes) issued an alarming number of EP’s during the 1958-1968 period, and I highlighted only those which had included exclusive material at the time of their release. But now that I have started to almost stumble across some of the others by accident, I figured it was time to detail exactly what ALL of those EP’s consisted of. Be warned, anybody wanting the full set will have to work hard, as by my calculations, there were no less than 46 EP’s issued during this period, pretty much the same number of regular 45’s that Cliff issued during the same time frame. But they are quite fascinating, and things of beauty, as they were all issued in picture sleeves, as all UK EP’s were at the time.

Cliff’s EP’s can be broken down into, roughly, four categories. Those designed to include entirely new and exclusive material, those designed to promote recent long players, those that compiled recent hits, and a small number of scattergun releases which cobbled together sometimes new material (and sometimes not) with older selections from the back catalogue. In this blog, I shall look at each of these types of releases, with a full discography of the EP‘s listed at the end.

The Hit Singles Sets

Although a couple of hits sneaked onto a pair of early Cliff EP’s of otherwise exclusive material (more later), the first real attempt at pulling together a batch of hits onto one set was in 1960, with the release of the “Cliff’s Silver Discs” EP, so named as all four of the songs had sold in big enough numbers originally to be designated silver. All four songs on here were originally A-sides, “Please Don’t Tease”, “Fall In Love With You”, “Nine Times Out Of Ten” and “Travellin’ Light”.

1962’s “Hit Parade” went down the same path, placing “I Love You”, “Theme For A Dream”, “A Girl Like You” and “When The Girl In Your Arms” on the same disc. There was a slightly different approach for 1963’s “Cliff’s Hits”, which added both sides of the “It’ll Be Me” and “Do You Want To Dance” 45’s. The latter had been marketed as a AA-side with “I’m Looking Out The Window”, whereas the flip of “It’ll Be Me”, “Since I Lost You”, was officially a B-side - but this concept of hoovering up both sides of recent 45’s would become a standard approach on the subsequent hits EP’s.

“Cliff‘s Lucky Lips“ EP included both sides of that 45, and both sides of the “It’s All In The Game” single, although the two tracks from the “Lucky Lips“ single appeared on side 2, rather than side 1. 1966’s “Wind Me Up” included both sides of that 45 as well, along with the A and B-sides of the “The Time In Between” single, with the “Wind Me Up” tracks this time appearing on side 1.

A number of other Cliff 45’s were “recompiled” onto EP’s that went down a slightly different path. Both sides of the “Young Ones” single turned up on the “Hits From The Young Ones” EP, which was actually a 4 track sampler of the LP of the same name - it just so happened that both tracks from the 45 were included on the LP (although there is a single mix of “The Young Ones” that differs from the LP version - more at the end). Similarly, the “Hits From Summer Holiday” EP featured four tracks from the soundtrack album, all of which had also been issued on the recent “Summer Holiday” and “Bachelor Boy” singles (again, more about that one later).

1964’s “Don’t Talk To Him” included on side 1, both sides of the sublime “Don’t Talk To Him” 45, whilst side 2 exhumed three songs from the 1962 LP “32 Minutes And 17 Seconds With Cliff”, a slightly random decision, but possibly done to try and act as a semi-follow up to the earlier EP that that album had already spawned (more in the next section). The lead tracks on “Cliff’s Palladium Successes” were both sides of another former single, “I’m The Lonely One”, but this time the tracks on side 2 were brand new recordings. The “A Forever Kind Of Love” EP included two new songs on the A-side, one of which, “It’s Wonderful To Be Young”, was used as the theme tune for the US release of the “Young Ones” movie, whilst side 2 offered up both sides of the “Constantly” 45. “On The Beach”, originally released as a 45 from the “Wonderful Life” soundtrack album, was later issued as the lead track on the “Hits From Wonderful Life” EP, which despite the title, actually just included three album tracks for the rest of the EP and no actual hits at all.

Both sides of the “Twelfth Of Never” 45 turned up on side 2 of the “Why Don’t They Understand” EP, in 1965, whilst “I Could Easily Fall” was the final track on the “Hits From Aladdin” EP, having first been issued as a 45 in late 64. The “Angel” EP the same year featured, again, a bit randomly, a couple of songs from the “Cliff Richard” LP with two former 45’s on side 2, “On My Word” and “The Minute You’re Gone”. The final EP was “Congratulations”, which again showcased some previously available material, but there’s quite a bit of a story about that one, so we shall focus on it in greater detail later on.

The Album Collections

I am not quite sure why Columbia issued so many Cliff EP’s that were full of material from widely available albums. Were they designed to try and promote the album? Were they designed for people who couldn’t afford the LP, to at least give them a flavour of the record? Were they simply designed to cash in? Well, whatever the reason, a large number of these releases were created - even as late as 1967, the likes of the “Cinderella” album were still being subjected to having their material being extracted for such EP‘s.

Cliff’s debut album, a 16 track affair, saw the first 12 songs from it issued on a pair of EP’s, the second of which, titled “Cliff No. 2”, included the re-recorded version of “Move It” that had been taped for the (live) album. Meanwhile, all 16 songs from “Cliff Sings” were spread across four 4-track EP’s. The album was split equally between tracks on which The Shads backed Cliff, and those which Cliff recorded with the Norrie Paramor Strings, and the EP’s also went down this route, with the Shads recordings used on the first two EP’s. Perhaps the reason for this was that anybody who liked Cliff more when he rocked out could just buy those two EP’s instead.

For “Me And My Shadows”, no less than fifteen of the sixteen songs were spread across three 5-track EP’s. Again, the track listings mirrored the running order of the LP (so the first EP included the first 5 songs off the LP), meaning that, by default, the final track on the album failed to make it onto any EP release. The first nine songs from the 16-track “Listen To Cliff” album appeared across two EP’s, four on the first release and five on the second.

Whereas the EP’s had so far used both the same image and titles as the albums from which they were sourced, things changed when it came to lifting material from the “21 Today” album. The first EP, simply titled “Cliff Richard”, came in a unique picture sleeve, which included tracks 2-5 from the first side of the LP. A second EP, “Cliff Richard No.2”, issued after the aforementioned “Young Ones” EP, featured tracks 6-8 from side 1, and the opening track of side 2.

1963’s “Time For Cliff And The Shadows” featured five songs from the “32 Minutes” album - again, a different cover image to the LP, but this time, the five songs were seemingly selected at random. Then, after the release of the “Summer Holiday” EP, came the “More Hits From Summer Holiday” EP - again, actually just four album tracks from the LP, and no hits at all. In addition to the “Hits From Wonderful Life” EP mentioned before, there were two other EP’s that preceded this, “Wonderful Life” and “Wonderful Life No 2”, which between all three of them, contained no less than 12 songs from the 14-track album, a bit of a throwback to the intensity of the earlier EP’s. There were also 4-track EP’s from the “Aladdin” and “Cinderella” stage show albums, and the “When In Rome” and “Love Is Forever” studio efforts.

The “New Material” EP’s

We covered these really in the last blog, but it makes sense to just briefly touch on them again. The first two EP’s of (mostly) exclusive material were both film tie in releases, “Serious Charge” and “Expresso Bongo”. In my last blog, I mentioned that the version of “Living Doll” was a different version to the regular 45 mix, but it isn’t - there is a faster version of “Living Doll” used in the film, but it was not selected for inclusion on the EP. One track which does appear in ‘EP Form’ however is “A Voice In The Wilderness” from “Expresso Bongo”, which is a different take to the standard 45 version.

Possible alternate mixes aside, all of these tracks have reappeared thanks to the ’copyright’ issues which allow pre-1963 material to be licensed to anybody with a passing interest, and I mentioned the appearance of the songs on these EP’s last time on an album called “As Good As It Gets”. Apparently now deleted, you can still source them elsewhere - I recently picked up a charming ’early years’ job on the Intense Media label called “Milestones Of A Legend”, a budget priced 10-CD set which includes the first 7 Cliff albums and the first 2 Shadows ones. Each album comes housed in it’s own sleeve - no attempt has been made at reprinting the original covers though, instead you just get a track listing on the front - and each disc includes bonus tracks from the 58-62 period, and all of the tracks from these EP’s make an appearance in one form or another. “Mad About You” and “No Turning Back” from “Serious Charge” appear on the “Me And My Shadows” disc, along with “Voice In The Wilderness”, “Love” and “The Shrine On The Second Floor” from “Expresso Bongo“ - although the version of “Love“, strangely, is lifted directly from the film, and not the original EP. The extra tracks on the EP’s were Cliff-less Shadows recordings, and “Chincilla” (from “Serious Charge”) and “Bongo Blues” (from “Expresso Bongo”) are amongst the extra tracks on disc 8, which is an expanded version of The Shadows self titled debut LP.

The majority of the “new” material that appeared on subsequent EP’s, as mentioned last time, were mostly available across a pair of compilations that were issued years apart. In 1989, the specialist reissue label See For Miles issued the 20 track “EP Collection” on vinyl, tape and CD. Despite it’s title, it only offered up a selection of material from these EP’s - the album was actually subtitled “Ballads And Love Songs”, so this obviously prevented certain tracks from making the cut, aside from any issues over timing constraints that would also have affected the amount of material that could be included.

The “Rare EP Tracks 1961-1991” release by EMI appeared in 2008, as part of the “Cliff’s 50th Anniversary” celebrations. It did a pretty good job in filling in most of the gaps. The “1991” tag came from the fact that a later, post-Shads Cliff single had included some 60s era outtakes, with “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” and “The Holly And The Ivy” appearing on the 1991 ”Christmas” EP. The album also included some bonus tracks - these included five unreleased songs, along with the EP version of “It’s Wonderful To Be Young”. The track was available, in a different form, as a bonus track on the 2005 CD reissue of “The Young Ones”, and was thus included as a bonus track due to it being one of the few songs on the “EP Tracks” album to be an alternate version of a song that might already have been familiar to the listener.

The “When In France” EP material is a bit more obscure, as only a couple of songs appeared on the “EP Collection” and “Rare EP” albums, with the final track “C’Est Si Bon” not widely available on any collection. However, there is a box set called “On The Continent”, which collects pretty much every Cliff foreign language recording (including post-1968 stuff), and all four tracks can be found on this release. It'll cost you though. The EP was issued in the same sleeve in France under the banner of “Cliff Richard Sings In French”, and the two different versions of the EP were both released in other overseas territories. Indeed, a number of Cliff EP’s were issued overseas - my copy of “A Forever Kind Of Love” is a Danish release, housed in a UK printed sleeve (with same catalogue number) but the disc, with notable label differences, is pressed in Denmark.

Special mention this time around for the “Thunderbirds Are Go!” EP. Although marketed as a Cliff Richard And The Shadows EP, at least from a distance, closer inspection reveals that the two acts are actually credited separately on the front sleeve - reason being that Cliff sings the vocals on the lead track, whilst the remaining three songs are Shads instrumentals. It’s one of the more collectable Cliff EP’s, helped along by the fact that it is also sought after by Thunderbirds collectors. It is worth noting that the EP was one of several reissued by EMI in mainland Europe in the early 80’s, as part of a series known as the “Cliff Richard / The Shadows EP Collection”, which saw a number of Cliff (and Shadows only) EP’s reissued as 12” singles, housed in slightly altered packaging - each single featured a coloured border around the original artwork, which included within it text relating to which number in the series it was. “Thunderbirds” was number 15. The reissues seemed to emerge from different countries, I have releases from Belgium and Holland, and by being reissued on EMI rather than Columbia, meant some were pressed with the famous “red block lettering” labels, with others opting for the blander cream design. Some singles retained the side opening approach, others - such as the “Carol Singers” reissue - had a top opening design. This was in the days before barcodes so, catalogue number changes aside, the rear sleeves looked quite faithful to the originals. As for Cliff’s contribution to the “Thunderbirds” EP, it was later issued on the ’selective’ “Cliff At The Movies” set, but was also found on a 2007 expanded reissue of a magnificent latter period set called “Congratulations To Cliff” - which is where we are headed now.

Congratulations To Cliff

In 1968, Cliff was chosen to be the UK’s entrant into the Eurovision Song Contest. This was a genius choice - not only was Cliff a star in the UK, but he was a star across Europe as well, having recorded songs in a variety of languages for release in those territories. In the days before the contest got hampered with political voting, it meant that Cliff had a pretty good chance of winning. Six songs were given to Cliff as likely candidates, one of which shared it’s title with a track from the “Wonderful Life” album (“Do You Remember”), and the public were invited to vote for their favourite. “Congratulations” dutifully won, and was issued as a single to coincide with the contest, backed with one of the ‘losing’ tracks from the six-song selection, “High N Dry”.

“Congratulations” came second in the contest, losing by one vote. There was, many years later, claims that the contest had been rigged, and that the winning entry by Spain had been achieved after the Spanish general Francisco Franco had sent state officials out across Europe with the sole intent of bribing officials involved in the voting process. Fixed or not, “Congratulations” was a big hit worldwide, and in the summer of 68, an EP was released entitled “Cliff Sings 6 Songs For Europe”, which included studio recordings of all six of the tracks that had been considered as the UK entries. “Congratulations” kicked off side 1, and “High N Dry” kicked off side 2.

The success of “Congratulations” across Europe resulted in a number of albums being issued in certain territories which were designed to showcase the tracks from this EP. In Germany, there was the “Congratulations Und 13 Weitere Hits” LP, which spread the six tracks across a 14 track album, which was padded out with recent hit singles like “The Day I Met Marie” and material from the “La La La La La” EP. In France, Columbia issued the “Congratulations To Cliff” album, which featured the EP material on side 1, and on the flip, a selection of tracks that had either been non album singles (“All My Love”, “The Day I Met Marie”, “It’s All Over” and “I’ll Come Running”) or had appeared on the stage show LP for “Cinderella” (“Why Wasn’t I Born Rich” and “In The Country”).

There was no such release in the UK, and as far as I can make out, most of the tracks from the EP remained quite obscure. “Little Rag Doll” turned up on “The EP Collection” and, as it was also a B-side, “High N Dry” was included with other flipsides from the period on the expanded 1968 album “Established 1958” when it was reissued in 2007. “Congratulations”, as expected, made it on to various best of sets in the years that followed, whilst the rest of the EP was shoe-horned onto the CD reissue of the 1970 (but recorded earlier) live LP "Talk Of The Town", also in 2007.

But really, the 2007 expanded CD edition of “Congratulations To Cliff” is, to me, an essential release. Not only does it show that latter period Cliff (and The Shads) made some highly enjoyable pop (think “Austin Powers”-esque groovy swinging sixties) but it’s a fabulous collection of rarities, with the original 12 track release expanded into a 40+ song anthology. There are more standalone a-sides (“Visions”, “Marianne”, “Blue Turns To Grey”), b-sides (a monumental take on “Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon”, “What Would I Do For The Love Of A Girl”, “I Get The Feelin’”, “My Story Book”, “Mr Nice” and “Somebody Loses”) and a batch of rarities, such as the French language versions of “Congratulations”, “Questions” and “Two A Penny”, which had only previously been available on the French only “When In France” LP. There are some selections from latter period Cliff LP’s (such as like the highly entertaining “Don’t Stop Me Now” album) and selections from the soundtrack albums “Finders Keepers”, “Cinderella” and “Two A Penny”, plus the aforementioned “Shooting Star” from the “Thunderbirds” EP - along with four early period bonus track oddities, including an Italian b-side (“I Only Know That I Love You”) and a Philippines a-side (“I Only Live To Love You”). Copies are getting harder to find now, you’ll be lucky to pick one up for less than £20, but it is an awesome re-release.


Discography

Well, this should be self explanatory. This is the complete list of Cliff EP’s from 58 to 68. We are focusing here on the UK versions, and although most of the EP’s were just issued in mono, several were selected for release in stereo as well. How different the mixes are I am not sure, although it is worth pointing out that four of the eight stereo mixes made for the first two “Cliff Sings” EP’s were included on the 1997 “Rock & Roll Years” album, suggesting a certain amount of difference mix-wise to the original mono LP upon which these songs first surfaced. Also, if anybody reading this has a complete list of the EP’s that were reissued on 12” in Europe in 1980/81 as part of the aforementioned “EP Collection” series, please get in touch.

Serious Charge EP: Living Doll/No Turning Back/Mad About You/Chincilla (7”, Columbia SEG 7895)
Cliff No. 1 EP: Apron Strings/My Babe/Down The Line/I Got A Feeling/Jet Black/Baby I Don’t Care (7”, Columbia ESG 7754, Stereo)
Cliff No. 1 EP: Apron Strings/My Babe/Down The Line/I Got A Feeling/Jet Black/Baby I Don’t Care (7”, Columbia SEG 7903, Mono)
Cliff No. 2 EP: Donna/Move It/Ready Teddy/Too Much/Don’t Bug Me Baby/Driftin’ (7”, Columbia ESG 7769, Stereo)
Cliff No. 2 EP: Donna/Move It/Ready Teddy/Too Much/Don’t Bug Me Baby/Driftin’ (7”, Columbia SEG 7910, Mono)
Expresso Bongo EP: Love/A Voice In The Wilderness/The Shrine On The Second Floor/Bongo Blues (7”, Columbia ESG 7783, Stereo)
Expresso Bongo EP: Love/A Voice In The Wilderness/The Shrine On The Second Floor/Bongo Blues (7”, Columbia SEG 7971, Mono)
Cliff Sings No. 1 EP: Here Comes Summer/I Gotta Know/Blue Suede Shoes/The Snake And The Bookworm (7”, Columbia ESG 7788, Stereo)
Cliff Sings No. 1 EP: Here Comes Summer/I Gotta Know/Blue Suede Shoes/The Snake And The Bookworm (7”, Columbia SEG 7979, Mono)
Cliff Sings No. 2 EP: Twenty Flight Rock/Pointed Toe Shoes/Mean Woman Blues/I’m Walking (7”, Columbia ESG 7794, Stereo)
Cliff Sings No. 2 EP: Twenty Flight Rock/Pointed Toe Shoes/Mean Woman Blues/I’m Walking (7”, Columbia SEG 7987, Mono)
Cliff Sings No. 3 EP: I’ll String Along With You/Embraceable You/As Time Goes By/The Touch Of Your Lips (7”, Columbia SEG 8005)
Cliff Sings No. 4 EP: I Don’t Know Why/Little Things Mean A Lot/Somewhere Along The Way/That’s My Desire (7”, Columbia SEG 8021)
Cliff’s Silver Discs EP: Please Don’t Tease/Fall In Love With You/Nine Times Out Of Ten/Travellin’ Light (7”, Columbia SEG 8050)
Me And My Shadows No. 1 EP: I’m Gonna Get You/You And I/I Cannot Find A True Love/Evergreen Tree/She’s Gone (7”, Columbia SEG 8065)
Me And My Shadows No. 2 EP: Left Out Again/You’re Just The One To Do It/Lamp Of Love/Choppin’ N’ Changin’/We Have It Made (7”, Columbia SEG 8071)
Me And My Shadows No. 3 EP: Tell Me/Gee Whizz It’s You/I’m Willing To Learn/I Love You So/I Don’t Know (7”, Columbia SEG 8078)
Listen To Cliff No. 1 EP: What’d I Say/Blue Moon/True Love Will Come To You/Lover (7”, Columbia SEG 8105)
Dream EP: Dream/All I Do Is Dream Of You/I’ll See You In My Dreams/When I Grow Too Old To Dream (7”, Columbia ESG 7867, Stereo)
Dream EP: Dream/All I Do Is Dream Of You/I’ll See You In My Dreams/When I Grow Too Old To Dream (7”, Columbia SEG 8119, Mono)
Listen To Cliff No. 2 EP: Unchained Melody/Idle Gossip/First Lesson In Love/Almost Like Being In Love/Beat Out Dat Rhythm On A Drum (7”, Columbia ESG 7870, Stereo)
Listen To Cliff No. 2 EP: Unchained Melody/Idle Gossip/First Lesson In Love/Almost Like Being In Love/Beat Out Dat Rhythm On A Drum (7”, Columbia SEG 8126, Mono)
Cliff’s Hit Parade EP: I Love You/Theme For A Dream/A Girl Like You/When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart (7”, Columbia SEG 8133)
Cliff Richard EP: Forty Days/Catch Me/How Wonderful To Know/Tough Enough (7”, Columbia SEG 8151, all songs from “21 Today”)
Hits From The Young Ones EP: The Young Ones/Got A Funny Feeling/Lessons In Love/We Say Yeah (7”, Columbia SEG 8159)
Cliff Richard No. 2 EP: Fifty Tears For Every Kiss/The Night Is So Lonely/Poor Boy/Y’Arriva (7”, Columbia SEG 8168, all songs from “21 Today”)
Cliff’s Hits EP: It’ll Be Me/Since I Lost You/I’m Lookin’ Out The Window/Do You Want To Dance (7”, Columbia SEG 8203)
Time For Cliff And The Shadows EP: So I’ve Been Told/I’m Walkin’ The Blues/When My Dream Boat Comes Home/Blueberry Hill/You Don’t Know (7”, Columbia ESG 7887, all songs from “32 Minutes”, Stereo)
Time For Cliff And The Shadows EP: So I’ve Been Told/I’m Walkin’ The Blues/When My Dream Boat Comes Home/Blueberry Hill/You Don’t Know (7”, Columbia SEG 8228, all songs from “32 Minutes”, Mono)
Holiday Carnival EP: Carnival/Moonlight Bay/Some Of These Days/For You, For Me (7”, Columbia ESG 7892, Stereo)
Holiday Carnival EP: Carnival/Moonlight Bay/Some Of These Days/For You, For Me (7”, Columbia SEG 8246, Mono)
Hits From Summer Holiday EP: Summer Holiday/The Next Time/Dancing Shoes/Bachelor Boy (7”, Columbia ESG 7896, Stereo)
Hits From Summer Holiday EP: Summer Holiday/The Next Time/Dancing Shoes/Bachelor Boy (7”, Columbia SEG 8250, Mono)
More Hits From Summer Holiday EP: Seven Days To A Holiday/Stranger In Town/Really Waltzing/All At Once (7”, Columbia ESG 7898, Stereo)
More Hits From Summer Holiday EP: Seven Days To A Holiday/Stranger In Town/Really Waltzing/All At Once (7”, Columbia SEG 8263, Mono)
Cliff’s Lucky Lips EP: It’s All In The Game/Your Eyes Tell On You/Lucky Lips/I Wonder (7”, Columbia SEG 8269)
Love Songs EP: I’m In The Mood For Love/Secret Love/Love Letters/I Only Have Eyes For You (7”, Columbia SEG 8272)
When In France EP: La Mer/Boum/J’Attendrai/C’Est Si Bon (7”, Columbia SEG 8290)
Sings Don’t Talk To Him EP: Don’t Talk To Him/Say You’re Mine/Spanish Harlem/Who Are We To Say/Falling In Love With Love (7”, Columbia SEG 8299, last 3 songs from “32 Minutes”)
Cliff’s Palladium Successes EP: I’m The Lonely One/Watch What You Do With My Baby/Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps/Frenesi (English Version) (7”, Columbia SEG 8320)
Wonderful Life EP: Wonderful Life/Do You Remember/What’ve I Gotta Do/Walkin’ (7”, Columbia SEG 8338)
A Forever Kind Of Love EP: A Forever Kind Of Love/It’s Wonderful To Be Young/Constantly/True, True Lovin’ (7”, Columbia SEG 8347)
Wonderful Life No. 2 EP: A Matter Of Moments/A Girl In Every Port/A Little Imagination/In The Stars (7”, Columbia SEG 8354)
Hits From Wonderful Life EP: On The Beach/We Love A Movie/Home/All Kinds Of People (7”, Columbia SEG 8376)
Why Don’t They Understand? EP: Why Don’t They Understand?/Where The Four Winds Blow/The Twelfth Of Never/I’m Afraid To Go Home (7”, Columbia SEG 8384)
Hits From Aladdin And His Wonderful Lamp EP: Havin’ Fun/Evening Comes/Friends/I Could Easily Fall (In Love With You) (7”, Columbia SEG 8395)
Look Into My Eyes Maria EP: Look Into My Eyes Maria/Where Is Your Heart/Maria/If I Give My Heart To You (7”, Columbia SEG 8405)
Angel EP: Angel/I Only Came To Say Goodbye/On My Word/The Minute You‘re Gone (7“, Columbia SEG 8444, first two songs from “Cliff Richard”)
Take 4 EP: Boom Boom/My Heart Is An Open Book/Lies And Kisses/Sweet And Gentle (7”, Columbia SEG 8450)
Wind Me Up EP: Wind Me Up/The Night/The Time In Between/Look Before You Love (7”, Columbia SEG 8474)
Hits From When In Rome EP: Come Prima/Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu/Dicitencello Vuie/Arrivederci Roma (7”, Columbia SEG 8478)
Love Is Forever EP: My Colouring Book/Fly Me To The Moon/Someday/Everyone Needs Someone To Love (7”, Columbia SEG 8488)
La La La La La EP: La La La La La/Solitary Man/Things We Said Today/Never Knew What Love Could Do (7”, Columbia SEG 8517)
Thunderbirds Are Go EP: Shooting Star/Lady Penelope/Thunderbirds Theme/Zero X Theme (7”, Columbia SEG 8510)
Cinderella EP: Come Sunday/Peace And Quiet/She Needs Him More Than Me/Hey Doctor Man (7”, Columbia SEG 8527)
Carol Singers EP: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/In The Bleak Midwinter/Unto Us A Boy Is Born/ While Shepherds Watched/Little Town Of Bethlehem (7”, Columbia SEG 8533)
Congratulations - Cliff Sings 6 Songs For Europe EP: Congratulations/Wonderful World/Do You Remember/High ‘N’ Dry/The Sound Of The Candyman’s Trumpet/Little Rag Doll (7”, Columbia SEG 8540)

Footnote: this is as good a place as any to tidy up the story of the “alternative” versions of “The Young Ones” and “Bachelor Boy”, as both these tracks turned up on EP’s listed above. I am indebted to the excellent Cliff Richard Songs website for this gen.

“The Young Ones” was recorded for the soundtrack album of the same name, but for the 45 release, an orchestra was dubbed over the top. As the years went by, the single version seemed to grow in stature, being selected for various compilations including 1977’s “40 Golden Greats”, and when “The Young Ones” LP was reissued in expanded form on CD in 2005, the original album version was removed and replaced by the 7” version. The album version, now more commonly known as the “undubbed version”, is available on the “Hits From The Young Ones” EP - and bizarrely turned up as a bonus track on the expanded CD reissue!

As for “Bachelor Boy”, this was originally included on the “Summer Holiday” soundtrack in the same form as it had appeared on the single, with a stereo mix made specifically for the stereo version of the album. But a different mix was created for the US market, and was made by remixing an earlier take of the song. This used the same backing as the “UK” version, which is referred to as the “Take 10/11” version, named after the two takes that were used to create the final version. The “US” version, which then used the vocal from take 9 to dub over the top, was then known as the “Take 12” version after it had been through the remixing process.

When it came to issuing the “Hits From Summer Holiday” EP, the mono version used the standard “Take 10/11” but the stereo version opted for the “Take 12” version, as this was deemed to be more stereo friendly. Both versions have resurfaced over the years - and it is interesting to note that different versions of the “40 Golden Greats” release have included both. The 1977 original uses the “Take 12” version, as the entire album had been designed to be “modernised” by using re-processed-for-stereo mixes where stereo mixes weren’t available. In the case of “BB”, there was a genuine stereo mix in the form of the “Take 12” version, and so it got the nod. But for the 1989 CD reissue, re-processed stereo was seen as an evil invention, an invention that could never match true stereo, and so the album used the original mono mixes this time around - so the mono “Take 10/11” version of “BB” was used instead. I may revisit Cliff’s 45’s from this period in a future blog, as their availability on CD is a bit erratic.


Monday, 16 January 2017

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons


The world of the Four Seasons, to me at least, can be a quite daunting and confusing one at first. A band whose history can be traced back all the way to the early 50s, a band who were credited both with and without their leader, who also had a solo career at one point running side by side, and a band who issued a series of albums seemingly never released in the UK.

Indeed, there are those who believe that the band’s back catalogue has been treated quite poorly, resulting in many albums falling out of print. Indeed, go on to Amazon, and you may struggle to find a CD edition of many of their original studio records. But help is at hand. A couple of boxsets issued by Rhino in the UK a few years ago were designed to give a flavour of most of what both Valli solo, and the band, released from the 60s onwards. Buy them both, and you will end up with a very big chunk of the back catalogue. Collecting the singles can still be a lengthy process, but given that a lot of the band’s albums seemed to be designed to showcase a lot of the A-sides and/or B-sides, and then padding them out with some “new” material, then the boxsets even provide an introduction to the band’s 45s.

Frankie Valli, stylised as Frankie Valley, released his first single in the USA in 1953. It was the beginning of a long run of poor selling singles in Valli’s homeland, and by 1956, he had formed The Four Lovers, essentially an early incarnation of The Four Seasons. The band issued an album, “Joyride”, and a number of mostly under-performing 45’s in the US, and by 1958, had turned into a mainly touring band, with their studio work limited to session musician duties. However, the band did continue to issue a regular run of 45’s under other names, with Valli issuing singles under the name of “Frankie Tyler”, whilst the run of singles issued during 1960 appeared under a bewildering variety of pseudonyms, including Billy Dixon & The Topics and The Village Voices.

By the early 60s, a contract the band had signed was due to expire, and the group were rechristened as The Four Seasons, taking their name from a bowling alley where they had conducted a failed audition. Having gone through a variety of line up changes, the “classic” line up of the band was now in place, with Valli joined by Bob Gaudio, Nick Massi and Tommy DeVito. Bob Crewe collaborated with the group for some years as producer and co-writer, primarily working with Gaudio.

The first Four Seasons single was the US only 1961 release “Bermuda”/”Spanish Lace”, issued on Gone Records. By 1962, the band had signed to the Vee-Jay label in the USA (briefly home, of course, also to The Beatles) and Stateside in the UK. Their next single, issued on both sides of the Atlantic, was “Sherry” - and became a huge hit. The band’s doo wop sound was especially characterised by Valli’s impossibly high pitched falsetto voice.

“Sherry” was later included on the band’s debut album, the not inspiringly titled “Sherry & 11 Others”, issued in late 1962. Indeed, many of the band’s albums over the next five years would have titles that suggested they were nothing more than a collection of recent A-sides and B-sides, with some extra material used to pad the album out (such as the awkwardly titled “Dawn (Go Away) And 11 Other Great Songs”) or in some cases, suggested they were actually compilation albums, when they weren’t (“Working My Way Back To You & More Great New Hits” included several non-hits). By 1964, the band had left the Vee-Jay label (and, as a consequence, Stateside) and were signed to Philips on both sides of the Atlantic. Several UK 45’s would continue to eek out on the Stateside label for the rest of the year.

In 1965, the band started to create albums that had a bit more of a cohesive feel. A planned album of Bob Dylan covers eventually morphed into the “Sing Big Hits by Bacharach, David and Dylan” LP, which included their cover of “Don‘t Think Twice It‘s All Right“. For some strange technical/legal reason that I don‘t understand, logistics prevented it from being issued as a single by The Four Seasons, so the band - just like in the old days - adopted a pseudonym and released the single under the name of “The Wonder Who”, the first of three singles they released in this way. The last of these, “Lonesome Road”, actually included a B-side specifically credited to The Four Seasons, which probably gave the game away. It’s generally considered that the singles chosen to be issued under the “Wonder Who” banner were those whose sound was not necessarily very Four Seasons-esque.

By 1966, a decision was taken to try and market Valli as a solo artist, as well as continuing with his involvement in the band. Initially, Valli’s recordings were done during regular Four Seasons sessions - indeed, the full title of his first solo album issued the following year was “The Four Seasons Present Frankie Valli Solo”. Again, it followed the old path of cobbling together tracks that were issued as singles alongside newer material - of the twelve songs included on the UK edition, seven of them had previously surfaced on UK 45’s over the preceding 18 months. Despite the plan to have Valli’s solo career running alongside that of the band, the Four Seasons actually went rather quiet in this period. There were some singles, but there were no new albums by the band during the second half of 1967 nor any of 1968 at all. A second Valli solo effort, “Timeless” (again featuring heavy Four Seasons involvement), was released in mid 68.

When the band did reconvene in 1969, they did so with what is regarded by many as something of a lost classic, the concept album “The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette”, which promptly flopped. Nonetheless, it is a record that is now seen as a turning point in the band’s career, with it’s socially conscious lyrics, and “Pet Sounds”/psychedelic inspired music, with titles like “American Crucifixion Resurrection“ sounding unlike anything the band had done up to that point. Even the packaging was inspired, housed in a newspaper style sleeve, with the album title doubling up as the title of the paper. It’s follow up was the non-UK 1970 album “Half And Half”, so titled as one side consisted of Valli solo material, and the other consisted of Four Seasons material. A photo of the Four Seasons appeared on the front, with a photo of Valli alone on the rear. By 1971, the band were off the label, but Philips in the UK decided to reissue “Beggin’” and “Rag Doll” as singles the same year, whilst reissues of earlier Valli solo efforts “You‘re Ready Now“ and “The Proud One“ also resurfaced in 1970/71.

Valli’s solo career then went temporarily on hold, as the newly rechristened Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons signed briefly to Warner Bros, issuing a one off (ultra rare) single in the UK and New Zealand called “Whatever You Say”, long rumoured to have been withdrawn from sale and thus never making it past the promo stage. They then moved onto what probably seemed like an unlikely home - Motown. The band’s first 45 was issued on the Tamla imprint in the UK, but their next album and all subsequent singles were issued on Motown’s Mo West label, usually home to R&B artists from the West Coast of the States. The LP, issued in 1972, was the now highly lauded “Chameleon”, in which the band adopted a soulful vibe that suited their new home. By now, Valli was the only original member left, although Bob Gaudio still worked with the band in the studio. Mo West issued several singles in the UK to try and promote the album, but neither the LP (subjected to so-so reviews when first released) nor these singles troubled the charts.

The band did begin work on a potential follow up album - fans have been petitioning for the release of this material, as several albums worth of tracks were recorded - but in the end, the band left the label in 1974. One track that originated from the sessions was “bought” by Valli from the label, and issued as his next solo single. “My Eyes Adored You” was the first release on the new Private Stock label, and would later be included on Valli’s third solo album, “Close Up”. Motown meanwhile decided to try and cash in after the single was a major success in the US, and went back into the vaults to release “Inside You”, marketed as a Valli solo LP in late 75. A couple of tracks from “Chameleon” were included again, with “The Night” appearing in an alternate version, with a different vocal take during the first verse, along with outtakes and material previously only issued on 45 in the USA. “The Night“, never even issued as a single in the USA, had gained a following on the Northern Soul scene, and MoWest reissued the original single (albeit with a new catalogue number), which saw it dent the top 10. The single was even later repressed on the Tamla imprint in the early 80s, but retained it’s MoWest catalogue number. Despite there now being numerous copies of this single in existence, it’s Northern Soul connections have helped to keep it’s value higher than other Valli singles, and you will be hard pushed to find one for less than a tenner.

As for The Four Seasons, they re-emerged with a slightly altered lineup, with new member Gerry Polci taking the lion’s share of the vocals to ease the strain on Valli’s voice, as he was suffering from hearing loss at the time. Signed to Warner Bros (again), their 1975 album “Who Loves You” was an attempt to align the band with the new disco explosion - and worked. The album spawned no less than three hit singles - the title track, “December 1963 (Oh, What A Night)” and the incendiary “Silver Star”. For a while, Valli’s solo career and the revamped Four Seasons ran side by side, with Valli then getting a boost solo wise when he recorded the title track to the 1978 movie “Grease”, issued as a single and another big chart hit.

As the hits started to dry up thereafter, Valli’s solo career came to a (temporary) end following the release of 1980’s “Heaven Above Me”, whilst The Four Seasons took eight years to follow up 1977’s “Helicon”, when the (again) renamed Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons issued 1985’s “Streetfighter”, an album which was heavily rooted in that 80s sound, but as the only Four Seasons studio album from the decade, thus sounds unlike anything they ever did before or after, and as such, has a strange “one off” charm. The band essentially continued to exist mainly as a touring act, although there was a US only album in 1992, “Hope + Glory”, whilst Valli issued a solo album in 2007 of covers, “Romancing The 60s”. A Christmas album was issued at the end of 2016, credited to Valli as a solo artist, but with the pun-fuelled title of "Tis The Seasons".

In recent times, the Four Seasons have had something of a retro tinged renaissance. The “Jersey Boys” musical sparked interest, whilst most of the band’s latter period singles were mostly reissues or remixes of earlier hits, with “Beggin’” a big enough hit in the UK to entice The Saturdays to record it and issue it as a B-side in 2009. The band still exist, with yet another altered line up - none of the current members, other than Valli, were present on “Hope + Glory”. Valli and Gaudio are still connected business wise, having formed The Four Seasons Partnership just prior to the release of that first US 45 on Gone. I don’t fully understand the mechanics of this, but go online, and you will stumble across fan websites who seem to lay some of the blame of the handling of the back catalogue at the partnership itself, suggesting a reluctance by Valli and Gaudio to revisit their past.

Discography

OK. This is how it seems to have worked. The early Four Seasons albums seem to have been attempts to shoe horn recent A-sides and B-sides on to a long playing album, with the album then being padded out by new material, to encourage people to buy the record. Hence, the titles displaying the name of one of the hits that was included on the album, followed by the less than inspiring “...and 11 Others” or similar.

Vee Jay issued several compilation albums by the band in the US in 63 and 64, and “Folk Nanny” is listed on Discogs as being a compilation release, partly because it did include material that had resurfaced before - “Stay“ had been a US 45 in late 1963, and had previously appeared on the “Ain‘t That A Shame“ LP. But, despite being deemed a compilation album (it even got reissued in the US under the new title “Stay & Other Great Hits” later on), it does appear - with all the ’official’ studio albums - in the Rhino Box. As for “New Gold Hits”, it’s title suggests another proper best of album, but in fact, this too followed the path of the earlier LP’s, by including recent 45 material, padded out with brand new recordings.

In the mid 90s, Curb Records reissued a number of the band’s earlier albums on CD. They all featured the legend “Original Classic Hits” along the bottom of the front sleeve, despite the fact that several of the songs of course had never actually been released as singles. The albums formed part of a series, so “Big Girls Don’t Cry” had a ’Volume 2’ legend on the front, and “New Gold Hits” was ’Volume 7’ - and so on. Confusingly, “Who Loves You” became ’Volume 8’, despite the fact that this had been recorded as a genuine studio album, spawning hit singles as opposed to being used to cobble together old ones. So, if you try to work out what an official studio album is from the Curb reissues, then it will totally confuse matters.

The LP discography below is based on what has been included in the Rhino boxset. Where the album was originally released in the UK, I have listed it’s original catalogue number - where there was no UK release (to my knowledge), the original US LP is detailed instead. I have also included the Valli solo albums in here, as it makes sense to do so, and you will see that the Rhino box for the Valli albums has also been based on US releases - “Our Day Will Come“ was issued in the UK as “Fallen Angel“.

The Motown material, being owned by that label, has had a different history. In 2008, the label’s Hip-O-Select imprint issued the (US only) double CD set “The Motown Years”, which - unreleased stuff aside - gives you a complete overview of the band’s time on the label. The first CD is essentially an expanded version of “Chameleon”, and the second an expanded “Inside You”.

On CD1, extra tracks include both sides of the US only “How Come” and “Hickory” 45's, along with tracks that later made it onto the UK - but not US - edition of “Inside You”, “Walk On Don’t Look Back” (originally a UK and US stand alone 45) and an edited version of “Charisma”. CD2 is bolstered by both sides of the “You’ve Got Your Troubles” 45, and “The Scalawag Song”, issued as a promo only US 45.

The specialist reissue label Ace did do a series of 2-on-1 CD reissues in the early 90s, which from what I can gather, would have seen the selected albums making their CD debut, but these have long been deleted. Certainly, the way I started to get deeper into the band and Valli’s solo career was to start with the two boxsets and the Motown CD - after that, it becomes a bit easier to work out where to go next in terms of what you want to collect.

SELECTED RETROSPECTIVE CD RELEASES

The Classic Albums Box (18xCD, Rhino 81227 95959)
The Motown Years (2xCD, Hip-O-Select B0010777-02)
Selected Solo Works (8xCD, Rhino 81227 95940)

UK SINGLES

Sherry/I’ve Cried Before (7”, Stateside SS 122)
Big Girls Don’t Cry/Connie-O (7”, Stateside SS 145)
Walk Like A Man/Lucky Ladybug (7”, Stateside SS 169)
Ain’t That A Shame/Soon (7”, Stateside SS 194)
Candy Girl/Marlena (7”, Stateside SS 216)
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town/Christmas Tears (7”, Stateside SS 241)
Dawn (Go Away)/No Surfin’ Today (7”, Philips BF 1317)
The Four Seasons Sing EP (7”, Stateside SE 1011)
Peanuts/Silhouettes (7”, Stateside SS 262)
Ronnie/Born To Wander (7”, Philips BF 1334)
Alone/Long Lonely Nights (7”, Stateside SS 315)
Rag Doll/Silence Is Golden (7”, Philips BF 1347)
Save It For Me/Funny Face (7”, Philips BF 1364)
Since I Don’t Have You/Sincerely (7”, Stateside SS 343)
Big Man In Town/Little Angel (7”, Philips BF 1372)
Bye Bye Baby/Searching Wind (7”, Philips BF 1395)
Toy Soldier/Betrayed (7”, Philips BF 1411)
Girl Come Running/Cry Myself To Sleep (7”, Philips BF 1420)
Let’s Hang On/On Broadway Tonight (7”, Philips BF 1439)
Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright/Sassy (7”, Philips BF 1440)
You’re Gonna Hurt Yourself/Night Hawk (7”, Philips BF 1467)
Working My Way Back To You/Too Many Memories (7”, Philips BF 1474)
Opus 17/Beggars Parade (7”, Philips BF 1493)
On The Good Ship Lollipop/You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You (7”, Philips BF 1504)
I’ve Got You Under My Skin/Huggin’ My Pillow (7”, Philips BF 1511)
You’re Ready Now/Cry For Me (7”, Philips BF 1512, later reissued as BF 320 226)
The Proud One/Ivy (7”, Philips BF 1529, later reissued as 6051 011)
Tell It To The Rain/Show Girl (7”, Philips BF 1538)
Beggin’/Dody (7”, Philips BF 1556)
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You/The Trouble With Me (7, Philips BF 1580)
C’mon Marianne/Let’s Ride Again (7”, Philips BF 1584)
Lonesome Road/Around And Around (7”, Philips BF 1600)
I Made A Fool Of Myself/September Rain (7”, Philips BF 1603)
Watch The Flowers Grow/Raven (7”, Philips BF 1621)
Hits Of The Four Seasons EP (Cassette, Philips MCP 1000)
To Give (The Reason I Live)/Watch Where You Walk (7”, Philips BF 1634)
Will You Love Me Tomorrow/Silhouettes (7”, Philips BF 1651)
Saturday’s Father/Goodbye Girl (7”, Philips BF 1685)
Electric Stories/Pity (7”, Philips BF 1743)
Rag Doll/Working My Way Back To You (7”, Philips BF 1763, in picture sleeve)
The Girl I’ll Never Know/A Face Without A Name (7”, Philips BF 1795)
Beggin’/Walk Like A Man (7”, Philips 6051 012)
Rag Doll/Let’s Hang On/I’ve Got You Under My Skin (7”, Philips 6051 018)
Whatever You Say/Sleeping Man (7”, Warner Bros K 16107)
You’re A Song/Sun Country (7”, Tamla Motown TMG 819)
The Night/When The Morning Comes (7”, Mo West MW 3002, later reissued as MW 3024)
Walk On Don’t Look Back/Touch The Rainchild (7”, Mo West MW 3003)
My Eyes Adored You/Watch Where You Walk (7”, Private Stock PVT 1)
Touch The Rainchild/Poor Fool (7”, Mo West MW 3028)
Swearin’ To God/Why (7”, Private Stock PVT 21)
And I Will Love You/Sun Country (7”, Mo West MW 3030)
Who Loves You (Edit)/(Disco Version) (7”, Warner Bros K 16602)
Our Day Will Come/You Can Bet (I Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere) (7”, Private Stock PVT 42)
December 1963 (Edit)/Slip Away (7”, Warner Bros K 16688, later reissued in “Classic Hits Of The 70s“ picture sleeve)
Fallen Angel/Carrie (7”, Private Stock PVT 51)
Silver Star (7” Mix)/(LP Version) (7”, Warner Bros K 16742)
Life And Breath/Thank You (7”, Mo West MW 3034)
We’re All Alone/You To Me Are Everything (7”, Private Stock PVT 66)
We Can Work It Out/Harmony Perfect Harmony (7”, Warner Bros K 16845)
Swearin’ To God EP (7”, Private Stock PVT 78)
Easily/What Good Am I Without You (7”, Private Stock PVT 98)
Rhapsody/Helicon (7”, Warner Bros K 16932)
Second Thoughts/So She Says (7”, Private Stock PVT 111)
Down The Hall/I Believe In You (7”, Warner Bros K 16982)
I Need You/I’m Gonna Love You (7”, Private Stock PVT 124)
Grease +1 (7”, RSO 012)
Save Me Save Me/No Love At All (7”, Warner Bros K 17251)
Harmony Perfect Harmony EP (7”, Warner Bros K 17072, 1980 reissues list it as the “December 63“ EP)
Passion For Paris (An American In Paris) (Short Version)/(Long Version) (7”, MCA 572)
Passion For Paris (An American In Paris) (Short Version)/(Long Version) (12”, MCAT 572)
Where Did We Go Wrong/Doctor Dance (7”, MCA 624)
Soul (Edit)/If It Really Wasn’t Love (7”, MCA 645)
Soul (New Mix)/If It Really Wasn’t Love (12”, MCAT 645)
Heaven Must Have Sent You/Medley (7”, Warner Bros K 17764)
The Book Of Love/Deep Inside Your Love (7”, MCA 980)
Let’s Hang On/Rag Doll (7”, Prism Leisure FOUR 71)
Walk Like A Man/Sherry (7”, Prism Leisure FOUR 72)
Working My Way Back To You/I’ve Got You Under My Skin (7”, Prism Leisure FOUR 73)
You’re Ready Now/My Eyes Adored You (7” Prism Leisure FOUR 74)
Big Girls Don’t Cry (Original)/(Enhanced Original Mix) (7”, Curb ZB 42287)
Big Girls Don’t Cry (Club Mix)/(Original)/(Dirty Dancing Rap)/(Enhanced Original Mix) (12”, Curb ZT 42288)
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You/December 1963 (7”, Polygram VALLI 1)
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You/December 1963 (Cassette, Polygram VALMC 1)
Can’t Take Me Eyes Off You/December 1963/My Eyes Adored You (CD, Polygram VALCD 1)
Oh What A Night (Ben Liebrand Remix)/(Edit) (7”, Polygram VALLI 2)
Oh What A Night (Ben Liebrand Remix)/(Edit) (Cassette, Polygram VALMC 2)
Oh What A Night (Ben Liebrand Extended Remix)/(Instrumental)/(Ben Liebrand Remix) (12”, Polygram VALX 2)
Oh What A Night (Ben Liebrand Remix)/(Instrumental)/(Ben Liebrand Extended Remix) (CD, Polygram VALCD 2)
Grease (The Dream Mix) +1 (7”, Polydor PO 136)
Grease (12” Groove Version)/(7” Original Groove) +1 (12”, Polydor PZ 136)
Grease (The Dream Mix)/(12” Groove Version)/(7” Original Groove) +1 (CD, Polydor PZCD 136)
Beggin’ (Pilooski Re-Edit/Radio Edit)/(Original) (7”, 679 Records 679L146)
Beggin’ (Pilooski Re-Edit)/(Speaker Killer Remix)/Who Loves You (12”, 679 Records 679L146T)
Beggin’ (Pilooski Re-Edit/Radio Edit)/(Original) (CD, 679 Records 679L146CD)

ORIGINAL ALBUMS LATER FEATURED IN THE BOXSETS & “THE MOTOWN YEARS”

Sherry & 11 Others (LP, Stateside SL 10033)
Big Girls Don’t Cry And Twelve Others (US LP, Vee Jay VJLP 1056)
Ain’t That A Shame And 11 Others (LP, Stateside SL 10042)
Folk Nanny (US LP, Vee Jay VJLP 1082)
Born To Wander (LP, Philips BL 7611)
Dawn And 11 Other Great Songs (LP, Philips BL 7621)
Rag Doll (LP, Philips BL 7643)
Entertain You (LP, Philips BL 7663)
Sing Big Hits by Bacharach David & Dylan (LP, Philips BL 7687)
On Stage With (US LP, Vee Jay VJLP 1154)
Working My Way Back To You (LP, Philips BL 7699)
New Gold Hits (US LP, Philips PHS-600-243)
Solo (LP, Philips SBL 7814)
Timeless (LP, Philips SBL 7856)
Genuine Imitation Life Gazette (LP, Philips SBL 7880)
Half And Half (US LP, Philips PHS-600-341)
Chameleon (LP, Mo West MWSA 5501)
Closeup (LP, Private Stock PVLP 1001)
Inside You (LP, Mo West MWS 7007)
Our Day Will Come (US LP, Private Stock PS 2006)
Who Loves You (LP, Warner Bros K 56179)
Valli (LP, Private Stock PVLP 1014)
Helicon (LP, Warner Bros K 56350)
Lady Put The Light Out (LP, Private Stock PVLP 1029)
Is The Word (LP, Warner Bros K 56549)
Heaven Above Me (LP, MCA MCF081)
Streetfighter (LP, MCA MCF3316)
Hope & Glory (US CD, Curb D2-77546)

OTHER NOTABLE UK LP’s

Gold Vault Of Hits (LP, Philips BL 7687, 1965 compilation including “Let‘s Hang On“)
2nd Gold Vault Of Hits (LP, Philips BL 7751, 1966 compilation including “Walk Like A Man“)
Lookin’ Back (LP, Philips BL 7752, 1966 compilation including material from the US “Big Girls Don‘t Cry“ LP)
Seasoned Hits (LP, Fontana SFJL 952, 1967 compilation including “Beggin‘”)
Edizione d’Oro (2xLP, Philips DBL 003)
The Four Seasons Story (LP, Private Stock DAPS 1001)
Fallen Angel (LP, Private Stock PVLP 1005, 1976 UK release of “Our Day Will Come“ in new p/s with extra track, “Fallen Angel“)
Reunited Live (LP, Warner Bros K 66098)
Romancing The 60s (CD, Universal B0009908-02)
Two Classic Albums Plus The Four Lovers And Rare Singles (4xCD, Real Gone Music RGMCD 065, includes on disc 4 “The 4 Seasons Greetings Album”)
‘Tis The Seasons (CD, Rhino 81227 94312)


Saturday, 24 December 2016

2016


Listed below are the bands and singers featured for each month in 2016, including a look at both the career of the Spice Girls as a band and the solo work of several of their band members (above). The December 2016 blogs can be found due right, which feature Madonna Japanese EP releases and Bowie releases from 2014 until 2016. There are a number of Bowie blogs for this year, as a tribute to the single most important musician of all time.

The complete list for the year is shown below:
January 2016 - David Bowie / Madonna
February 2016 - Spice Girls
March 2016 - Victoria Beckham / Emma Bunton / Geri Halliwell
April 2016 - The Cure
May 2016 - David Bowie
June 2016 - Madonna
July 2016 - David Bowie
August 2016 - Tubeway Army
September 2016 - David Bowie
October 2016 - The Beatles
November 2016 - David Bowie
December 2016 - David Bowie / Madonna

To look at blogs from January to November, just click on the relevant month.























































































"Uncage the colours, unfurl the flag, luck just kissed you hello"

Bowie 2014-2016


And so, we come to my final Bowie blog of 2016.

Since “The Next Day”, both Bowie’s current label (Iso) and his former paymasters at EMI (now buried under the Parlophone imprint) have been tossing out material at such a rate, you have to wonder how much of this seems like cash in material. But by all accounts, a lot of the stuff that has come out in recent years had to get the nod by the man himself before it was issued/reissued, although this hasn’t stopped critics griping about the content of this material. This year’s new boxset, “Who Can I Be Now?” is a nice thing to own, but is mostly full of material most of us already have. It’s timing, surfacing at the same time as a gargantuan Pink Floyd boxset which included mostly material that nobody owned, officially, saw Bowie’s team come in for some stick.

But, it seems as though we are in the middle of some sort of revamping of the back catalogue, so we shall see what 2017 brings. Until then, here’s what’s been happening since my last Bowie blog on the “new stuff” back on 2014.

Blackstar and Lazarus

Routinely now being referred to by an actual black coloured star shape in the press, I don’t have such a symbol on my keyboard, so I shall refer to Bowie’s last studio album as “Blackstar”. You don’t need me to tell you about the fact that it was released only days before his passing in January, or the lyrical references and symbolism that pointed towards the issue of mortality. This album, unlike any Bowie album in years, has been subsequently analysed and obsessed over unlike any other.

An album heavily influenced by Bowie’s life long love of jazz, Blackstar later drew parallels in one magazine article with “Station To Station”, which had been recorded 40 years earlier. Both had a running time of about 40 minutes, both featured a relatively small number of songs, and both opened with a lengthy, multi part title track. “Blackstar” was a seven track LP, although only five of the songs were ‘new’, as two were re-recordings of material Bowie had first released in connection with the “Nothing Has Changed” best of (more later). Whilst it might have seemed that this was the sign of a man who simply didn’t have the energy to produce anything more, this was seemingly not the case, as those close to him have stated that not only were there outtakes from the sessions, but that Bowie had even started work on material for another new LP.

Let’s get the hyper expensive clear vinyl edition out of the way first. 5000 of these were pressed in a special die cut sleeve, which were sold with Bowie lithographs and available from his official site only. Worried that my postman might leave it in my recycling bin, and that it could end up with the binman a day later, I opted against this one - which, of course, now sells for a fortune - and opted for the black vinyl edition (Iso 88875 173871). These were nowhere near as limited, but soon sold out after his death, resulting in a second batch being made available. There seems, nowadays, to be a fascination with first and second Bowie pressings, a la The Beatles, and so you will find that the first pressings (with a 2015 copyright date) sell for more than the second pressings (2016 copyright date). To avoid being damaged, the vinyl itself is housed in a clear inner sleeve, and copies came with a lyric booklet. For the full monty, there should also be a card inside with the download code on, and the sticker on the front of the sleeve should be intact.

The CD edition was housed in a totally different sleeve (Iso 88875 173862), a white cover with a black coloured star shape filling up the front. The track listing is the same as the vinyl edition. Unlike the first and second editions of the vinyl, the CD version was not initially limited to a certain number of copies, and the versions on sale in your local record shop are essentially later repressings of the original release. There is no difference between a copy bought in January 2016 and one bought now - it’s only the vinyl edition that sold out, and required a second batch of altered pressings. It’s worth noting that copies of the CD were originally shrinkwrapped, and also came with a sticker on the front detailing the artist’s name and album title, but it’s possible that once second hand copies start to surface, the stickers may well have been discarded along with the shrinkwrap.

October saw the release of “Lazarus”, a cast recording of a Bowie written play that takes it’s title from one of the key tracks on “Blackstar”. Bowie obsessives will undoubtedly be fascinated by the album, given that it consists purely of Bowie songs, but the main interest for me has to simply be the three new Bowie tracks that appear on the set, sung by the man himself. Aside from some fancy vinyl releases aimed squarely at the bearded hipster crowd, the set was also issued as a 2-CD set (Iso 88985 374912), the second CD being a sort of EP style job, consisting of four Bowie recordings - “Lazarus” and the three new songs. Bowie also pops up on CD1, as a strange 30 second edit of “Sound And Vision” is included mid way through proceedings.

Nothing Has Changed and Legacy

With “The Next Day” having put Bowie firmly back into the public eye, Parlophone issued a new career spanning best of that was designed to celebrate Bowie’s 50 year long recording career in 2014. “Nothing Has Changed” was a very high profile release, being hyped up long before anybody even knew what it would look like, or exactly what it was.

When it appeared, it appeared in three distinct editions in the UK, each of which featured a different photo of Bowie looking in a mirror on it‘s cover, each photo taken from a different part of his career. The vinyl edition featured an early 70s image, the 2-CD set one came from the mid 70s, and the 3-CD one a far more recent contemporary image.

The 3-CD set (Parlophone 82564 6205769) was notable for featuring material from Bowie’s entire career, all the way back to 1964, the first time any Bowie set had featured such a wide ranging batch of material. This edition of the album was an essential buy, as it included various unreleased tracks and a barrage of single mixes. Highlights had to be the inclusion of several tracks from the abandoned “Toy” album, “Your Turn To Drive” and a re-recording of “Let Me Sleep Beside You”. Although Tin Machine material was absent, tracks from Bowie’s earlier bands were included, including tracks from the time he was the leader in The Lower Third.

The set ran backwards, starting with a new song recorded for the set, “Sue”, a gargantuan jazzy strut that sounds like the theme tune for a 70s cop show (which might explain the “Or In A Season Of Crime“ subtitle - or not), and closing with Bowie’s 1964 debut 45, the Davie Jones And The King Bees’ “Liza Jane”. This isn’t the first time a greatest hits set has run backwards (see the Genesis “Platinum Collection” release) and I can only think this was done to sort of build up to a climax of the big RCA era stuff at the end. But I am not sure it completely works, because once you’ve had “Life On Mars”, and then “Space Oddity”, it obviously keeps going back to that early stuff, stuff that sometimes even Bowie was a bit embarrassed by in later years.

The 2-CD set (Parlophone 82564 6205745) is probably a more sensible listening experience, running as it does in chronological order, starting with “Space Oddity”, and climaxing with “Sue”. Given that, in my opinion, Bowie was routinely at the peak of his powers in the 90s and 00s, this one works a lot better, as the ending quartet of “New Killer Star”, “Love Is Lost”, “Where Are We Now” and “Sue” pack a real punch. It is also noticeable for completely ignoring anything from 1987’s “Never Let Me Down”.

If it has any flaws, it is the sense that it maybe moves too quickly. Remember, we were getting career spanning double-CD Bowie best of sets as far back as 1993, so to try and use the same format for another one 21 years down the line, obviously means something somewhere is going to fail to make the cut this time. So there’s no “Diamond Dogs” or “Be My Wife” on this one. “Fashion”, bizarrely, appears in a newly edited mix, an attempt apparently to try and ’re-create’ the original 7” mix, but which fails abysmally, and sounds quite horrific. This mix also appeared on the 3-CD set.

The vinyl edition (Parlophone DBLP 6414) is a bit of an odd release, as by being restricted to two slabs of vinyl, it was always going to have to be very selective. It opts for an, at first, random looking track listing, but which seems to have some vague thought process behind it. So, side 1 runs backwards from “Let’s Dance” to “Life On Mars?”, side 2 opens with “Space Oddity” (Bowie, when he used to play this in the 70s, always dropped it in midway through the show) and is then followed by three tracks of glam before concluding with “Rebel Rebel” (which was also the closing halfway point on “Diamond Dogs”). Side 3 runs forwards from “Golden Years” to “Sue”, and side 4 cherry picks from the 80s, 90s and beyond.

It wasn’t designed as such, but “Nothing Has Changed” has ended up as an overview of Bowie’s entire career in a way, as “Sue” was later re-recorded for “Blackstar”, meaning the 3-CD version has both Bowie’s first single, and a track from his last album. “Sue” was issued as a 10” single to help promote the set, featuring both the radio edit and the album mix along with another new song (and another one later taped for “Blackstar”) called “’Tis A Pity She Was A Whore” (Parlophone 10 RDB 2014).

Bowie’s death did obviously make the record company think that a revised best of, taking in “Blackstar” material, would make sense and although it does have a feel of ’cash in’ about it, this year’s “Legacy” compilation makes a certain amount of sense. Issued on a single disc and also as a ’deluxe’ double CD set (Parlophone DB 69162), this is simply a revamped version of “Nothing Has Changed” - even the vinyl edition being planned for early 2017 replicates the ’random’ track listing of the 2014 LP.

It came in for some stick by online reviewers - including moaning about the packaging (although the booklet in which different Bowie album covers are spliced together to create alternative Bowie images is quite clever), and moaning about the track listing (“Dancing In The Street” is on here) but if you think of it a bit like the reissue Warners did of the first Madonna album, where it appeared two years after the original with a new title and new artwork, and was pitched specifically at new converts, then the existence of “Legacy” - and it’s choice of track listing - makes complete sense.

The main differences are that in order to cover “Blackstar”, a couple of newer songs from “NHC” have been removed, including “Sue”. Instead you get the ’never released in physical form’ radio edits of “Lazarus” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away”, the final song on “Blackstar” and the final song on “Legacy”. I quite like this idea, but again, you had the social media crowd banging on about “who cares about radio edits” - well, some of us do, and I was quite excited to add these to the collection.

More pointless though is the new mix of “Life On Mars” - in which the original version is turned into a more orchestral sounding affair by removing the drums and guitar parts. It does make it sound like a big, grand, sort of West End musical number by doing this, which I think was the idea, but there can be nobody who genuinely thinks this makes it better than the original. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

ChangesOneBowie

Now. There is a part of me that isn’t even sure if this reissue is worth mentioning. Bowie’s 1976 best of collection, which for some reason, was reissued in 2016. But, officially, the album had been deleted from the Bowie catalogue some time ago, so this was not really a repressing of an existing album, the way vinyl albums used to get repressed back in the 70s and 80s, but a full blown, heavily hyped reissue of one of Bowie’s earliest hits sets. The question is - why?

And the answer is - I have no idea. It could be part of a new campaign to put back into the shops what might be considered important parts of the back catalogue, to tie in with the issuing of Bowie’s boxsets. The reissue came roughly midway between the release of the “Five Years” boxset, covering the 69-73 years, and “Who Can I Be Now?”, which covered 74-76. Or it could simply be that the decision was taken to issue it for no other reason than it is 40 years old. Thing is, where do you draw the line?

Don’t get me wrong, “ChangesOneBowie” is a crucial part of the Bowie story. Originally issued by RCA, who by that point had the rights to everything from “Space Oddity” onwards, it was therefore a mostly career spanning LP at the time of it’s release, containing Bowie’s big singles and a few key album tracks, along with the release of “John I’m Only Dancing” on an album for the first time.

It continued to make sense after the release of “ChangesTwoBowie”, the 1981 follow-up which brought the story up to date by including the likes of “Ashes To Ashes”, but did make the odd decision to include older material that could have been on the first LP but wasn’t (“Aladdin Sane”) in preference to newer, seemingly essential songs (there was no “Heroes”). But given that Bowie jumped ship soon after to EMI America, between them, they give you a decent overview of Bowie’s musical journey from 1969 to 1980, later seen by many as the key years.

1990’s “ChangesBowie” was essentially the officially revamped version of the album(s) after they got deleted in the 80s. Issued as part of Bowie’s retro-tinged “Sound + Vision” campaign, it used the same image on it’s front as “ChangesOneBowie” had done, but this time formed part of a collage full of other Bowie images from the years. The album featured a sizeable chunk of material from the first album, opened with “Space Oddity”, and used the same ‘block’ lettering typography that the originals had done (following on from the use of that style on “Station To Station”) but the compilation was rejigged to include a wider variety of material from the later years, including tracks from the EMI America period. Last time I looked, you could still pick this compilation up online.

Now, given that “Nothing Has Changed” was obviously designed as a definitive, career spanning best of, you have to ask why Parlophone are doing this. It seems to be nothing more than a slightly pointless cash in release. It was issued on vinyl and CD, with some of the vinyl copies pressed on clear vinyl, but with no indication as to whether or not, if you bought a new shrinkwrapped copy, what colour the vinyl would be (done to keep with the spirit of the original version, where the first pressings famously included the wrong version of “John I’m Only Dancing” by accident).

So, apart from it being 40 years, is this release simply being pitched at the newcomers? The people whose interest got reignited after “Blackstar”? Just another attempt, for the LP versions at least, to keep up with the often enjoyable, but sometimes baffling, vinyl revolution? Not sure. I am sure though, if you are desperate for a “ChangesOneBowie”, you would be able to find an original version, or a late 70s/early 80s reissue for not too much, although being able to click a few buttons on Amazon is obviously a bit easier. But if every hits collection that has been deleted over the years starts to get reissued, it would seem to me like overkill. Wherever these sets have included something unique or interesting, the original approach was to simply put said track on a newer release (so it was that “John I’m Only Dancing” made it onto “ChangesBowie”). Still, if you fancy a copy, I feel obliged to mention the catalogue number of the vinyl editions (Parlophone COBLP 2016).

The 40th Anniversary Reissues Continued

We left off last time by mentioning the then forthcoming release of the 40th anniversary version of “Knock On Wood”, which was breaking the tradition of the previous picture disc reissues by including a different song on the flipside, as opposed to using an “alternate” version of the A-side. “Knock On Wood” was thus issued as a AA-side release with “Rock N Roll With Me”.

From this point onwards, each of these reissues were to be issued by Parlophone as AA’s, meaning that a number of songs would, theoretically at least, be issued as a single for the first time ever in Bowie’s career, even though the stickers on the front of the sleeves would only make a point of plugging the ‘official’ A-side.

So, the follow up to “Knock On Wood” was 2015’s “Young Americans” (Parlophone DBYA 40), which appeared here in it’s ’2007 Tony Visconti Single Edit’ version. On the flipside was the alternate ’With Strings’ version of “It’s Gonna Be Me”, previously only available on the 2007 expanded edition of “Young Americans”. Because the track is quite long, the B-side has to play at 33rpm, and this, coupled with the poorer sound quality you get on picture discs, means that the sound - to these ears - is fairly awful, once again putting question marks over the quality control aspect of some of these new vinyl releases. It’s all very well bleating on about the “warm sound” of vinyl, but you will only get that sound by pressing the thing properly in the first place. Rant over.

Following a couple of RSD releases (more later), the next one in the series was “Fame”, which appeared in it’s original 7” edit form. The AA-side was “Right”, which had also appeared on the flipside of the original UK 7”. However, the version this time around was an alternative mix. Confusion reigned at the time as to what was so alternative about it, but as I understand it, the decision was taken to remix a number of tracks from the “Young Americans” album in preparation for it’s 1991 reissue by EMI and Rykodisc. The remix of “Right” that was done saw it mastered at the wrong speed, and the version that thus appears on the picture disc is the 1991 remix, but mastered at the correct speed. You can play spot the difference when you play it (Parlophone DBFAME 40).

I have already mentioned the “Space Oddity”/”Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud” reissue in a blog earlier this year, but just to clarify, this is a strange reissue which commemorates the 1975 RCA Maxi-single release but which uses a track listing more in line with the 1969 Philips original - edited version of the A-side on side 1, acoustic version of “Freecloud” on side 2 (RCA used the standard album version of “Space Oddity“ when they put it out as a 45). Apparently, this picture disc uses a stereo mix of the edit of “Space Oddity” in preference to the mono original, but I’m not sure exactly how different it sounds. Similarly, there are two mixes in existence of “Freecloud”, one with a spoken word intro, and one without. The images are also more in line with the 1969 release than the 1975 one (Parlophone DBSO 40).

The last reissue from 2015 was “Golden Years” (Parlophone DBGOLD 40), which again used the original 7” edit on the A-side. This one was issued as a AA with “Station To Station”, which appeared in it’s single edit form, originally concocted for use on a French 7” in 1976, and later included on the “Single Edits” CD inside the Super Deluxe boxset reissue of the “Station To Station” album. Suffice to say, this was the first time the song had appeared as an A-side in the UK.

Now, this is where it gets a bit baffling. The first 2016 reissue should have been the first of two, if we follow the logic applied by EMI and Parlophone so far. “TVC 15” was originally issued as the follow up to “Golden Years” in April 1976, and thus it’s 40th anniversary coincided with Record Store Day (Parlophone DBTVC 40). So, the 40th anniversary reissue was done as an RSD release, complete with suitably stickered sleeve (and inflated price tag). On the A-side, you get the original edited version. On the AA-side, you get a Bowie track that had actually appeared as a single before, “Wild Is The Wind” (issued to plug “ChangesTwoBowie” in 1981). However, the version here seems to be a new edit of one of the Harry Maslin mixes done for the “STS” boxset in 2010, so completists will have to consider shelling out for a copy.

If the 40th anniversary logic is applied here, then summer 2016 should have seen the release of “Suffragette City”. RCA had issued confusing cash in singles before (see the 1974 release of “Rock N Roll Suicide”) but this one was slightly more acceptable, as it was included on “ChangesOneBowie” and RCA issued the song as an attempt to promote the LP. But as I type this, there has been no reissue for this one. Strange. Especially when you consider the 2016 reissue of the album it was used to plug.

As for the other RSD releases in the period, the picture disc one from 2015 was a reissue of “Changes”, which was never reissued as a 40th anniversary release, as EMI only started doing them from “Starman” onwards. It was issued as a AA with “Eight Line Poem”, appearing here in it’s ‘Gem Promo version’ mix (Parlophone DBRSD 2015). The history behind the latter is that Bowie’s manager in 1971, Tony Defries, was looking to find new record deals for two of his artists - Bowie and Dana Gillespie. So, he arranged for a 500-run set of vinyl albums, pressed by the Gem Record company, which were to be used as a showcase for the two acts. Seven Bowie songs appeared on side 1, and five Gillespie ones on side 2, including her version of “Andy Warhol”. This later became known as the BOWPROMO.

The Bowie tracks were mostly songs that did end up on “Hunky Dory”, albeit all in slightly different forms - “Eight Line Poem” resurfaced with a completely different vocal mix. Two songs didn’t make the cut, “Bombers” and “It Ain’t Easy”. By all accounts, the promo didn’t generate any interest at all, and Defries then produced an early copy of “Hunky Dory” on the Gem label which featured the finished album, which did attract the attention of RCA. Copies also came with a gatefold sleeve which featured a sepia toned version of the actual final “Hunky Dory” front cover, although I understand some copies over the years have surfaced without this sleeve. Suffice to say, the original BOWPROMO release and the Gem version of “Hunky Dory” are auction house collectors editions.

The other RSD release from 2015 was for Scary Monsters album track “Kingdom Come”. This was part of Rhino’s ’Side By Side’ series, where the same song would appear on either side of a 7”, performed by different artists on either side. So this release sees the Tom Verlaine original on one side, and the Bowie cover on the other (Rhino R7-547633). Copies were pressed on white vinyl, and the Bowie side came with a label designed to look like the black and white RCA labels that were in circulation in the early 1980s.

The Boxsets

Issued in late 2015, “Five Years” (Parlophone DBX 1) is the first of a series of boxsets designed to sort of reinvigorate the Bowie back catalogue - or at least, the years from “Space Oddity” onwards. Ever since the deletion of the 1990s Rykodisc reissues, the Bowie catalogue has suffered from a slightly haphazard reissue program. A bonus track free reissue of “Hunky Dory” in 1999 remained the standard version of that album for the following fifteen years, whilst “Ziggy” got reissued not once but (at least) three times.

Whilst the boxset may seem like yet another cash in release - and to some extent, it is - it had Bowie’s blessing, and exists as an attempt to tidy up the back catalogue. Trouble is, this is all going to take some time, and at the same time as “Five Years” was being released, it was possible to buy new Parlophone branded versions of the old 1999 EMI reissues of the latter period albums - the sign of a catalogue nowhere near being tidied up yet.

So what exactly is in this first box? Well, you get reissues of the run of studio albums from “Space Oddity” through to “Pin Ups”. For both the vinyl and CD versions, attempts at recreating the original label designs have been made, but with a stylised “Bowie” logo in place of the original Philips, Mercury or RCA logo. Suffice to say, the bonus tracks from the old Ryko issues are absent. This was a deliberate move, to return the records to their original “state” - each of the studio albums in the set were later issued individually, and thus are now the new standard versions of those LP’s.

You also get - and this is likely to be a regular feature in each box - a bonus alternate album. In this case, it’s a second version of “Ziggy”, using an alternate cover shot (and alternate rear sleeve) and playing the 2003 remix of the album, which had only previously appeared on an SACD version of the album at the time, and later on the DVD included as part of the 2012 LP reissue. Live albums taped during the period are also included, so you get “Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars - The Motion Picture Soundtrack” (the version here is a repress of the 2003 reissue), and “Live Santa Monica 72”, the authorised version of the earlier release on Mainman.

The big selling point really is the “Re:Call 1” disc of rarities. This gives a new home to some of the Ryko rarities, but is dealing only with material that had previously appeared on a commercial release at the time (along with the odd possibly-promo-only mix of early, highly obscure US singles, where question marks still remain as to the existence of stock copies). So, you get both sides of the UK “Space Oddity” single, all five rarities from the Mercury 45’s, “Ragazzo Solo”, both sides of the US “All The Madmen” 45, and the Arnold Corns 45.

The second disc deals with rarities from the RCA period, so you get mono single mixes, B-sides and overseas only edits. Repetition is allowed where the variant versions are noticeably different - so you do get both the original and “Sax” versions of “John I’m Only Dancing” - whilst tracks recorded in the period and only issued later on also make the cut, so you get the ’Spiders’ version of “Holy Holy” and “Velvet Goldmine”, taped in 71 but not issued until 74/75 respectively. What you don’t get are minor variations of existing tracks (so no US single versions of “Memory Of A Free Festival” or “Starman”) and, just to clarify one last time, none of the unreleased bonus tracks off the original Ryko reissues. Either Bowie had vetoed these things from ever appearing again, or there is a plan for a rarities boxset in the future.

Everything in the box, with the exception of the bonus “Ziggy” and “Re:Call” have now been made available individually, on both vinyl and CD. Generally, the CD editions were issued in 2015, and the vinyl ones in 2016. As somebody who struggles at times to keep up with this never ending recycling of people’s back catalogues, I would hope that these editions become the standard releases, and that any future reissues are simply repressings of these editions - if not, then the boxset will start to look like another record company exploitation job.

For clarification - the CD reissues from 2015 are in standard jewel cases, with the stylised Bowie logo once again used for the ‘label’ side of the CD. The vinyl reissues are effectively extracted from the boxset - however, these later copies were shrinkwrapped with a barcode attached to the back of the shrinkwrap for sales recording purposes, as the copies within the box were barcode free. Inserts that were included in the original boxset do seem to have survived for the repressings, as my “Aladdin Sane” comes with a reprint of the 1973 fan club application form that was included with the LP back when it was first released. On the form, you are asked to list the name of your school. Amusing, when you consider that this is the album where Bowie sings the line “falls wanking to the floor” on “Time” - I dread to think what was being shouted in the school playgrounds of the time. You will have missed the boat now, but anybody who ordered the box before it was released from Bowie's website, received a free "Pin Ups Radio Show" promo EP, although some CD editions were sold as individual items via Bowie's US website to get rid of the stock.

This year has seen the release of the second box, “Who Can I Be Now?” (Parlophone DBX 2), which runs from 1974 to 1976. So this one goes from “Diamond Dogs” to “Station To Station”, taking in “David Live” along the way. In comparison to the bonus “Ziggy” in the first box, this has two alternate albums in the form of the 2005 remix version of “David Live” (using a sleeve which is simply printed the opposite way) and the 2010 Harry Maslin mix of “Station To Station”, previously done for the super deluxe boxset (it comes in the 1991 colour sleeve version of the LP). You also get, for the first time, a sort of “new” album courtesy of “The Gouster”, an early version of “Young Americans”. The original concept was abandoned whilst Visconti was mixing the record, so the sleeve that is used simply seems to be a photo from the period, as opposed to it being any original proof sleeve.

The “Live Nassau Coliseum 76” album, previously only ever included in the deluxe versions of the 2010 reissue of “STS”, is also in here, along with an album of rarities, “Re:Call 2”. Bowie simply wasn’t as prolific as regards singles during this time, and mono mixes had ceased to be made, so this time around, it’s just a single disc. Again, a mix of UK, overseas and US single edits, the odd B-side (the live “Panic In Detroit”) and the 7” edit of “John I’m Only Dancing (Again)”. The full length version is on “The Gouster”, as is “Who Can I Be Now” and “It’s Gonna Be Me”, meaning that these one time Ryko bonus tracks are now officially part of the “standard” Bowie catalogue, I guess.

I have the CD version of this box, and so can confirm that the CD’s are designed like vinyl style pressings - gatefold sleeves, inner bags, and rear covers that show no barcodes. Tucked inside the “Station To Station” disc is a reprint of a mid 70s poster plugging the back catalogue, but I understand the vinyl box includes more inserts, including another fan club application form from the post-”David Live” period. Whilst the single disc “Re:Call” disc obviously seems a bit low key compared to the 2 disc one in the first box, especially when you consider that the last five songs are the contents of the “Single Edits” CD from the “Station To Station” deluxe box, it does at least do it’s job - and is worth listening to for the bizarre edits of “Diamond Dogs” (from Australia) and “Rock N Roll With Me” (from the USA), both of which just fade out halfway through proceedings. Yes I know, there is no “K-Tel” edit of “Diamond Dogs” in this set, but you can’t have everything.

You know, at the end of the day, it’s Bowie. And as pointless as this boxset may at times be, it has taken pride of place on my shelf. Let's not forget, the three studio records in this set are three of the best albums ever made. We shall have to wait and see what the next boxset produces, and how Parlophone are going to approach the missing rarities from the Ryko days - and whether or not they bother with the “Let’s Dance” to “Never Let Me Down” period.

And finally...

There have been some official but "unauthorised" releases in recent times due to ongoing quirky copyright laws. It's debatable as to whether or not you should attempt to bother with these, especially as there seems to have been a flood of these live albums, sometimes duplicating material from other such releases, but being Bowie, I couldn't resist getting what I think are probably the three most interesting.

There have been two releases on the Laser Media label - "Day In Day Out", as mentioned in my Bowie Live blog earlier this year (LM 160) and the untruthfully titled "Space Oddity FM Broadcast 1983", which is actually nineteen tracks lifted from bootlegs of rehearsals held in Dallas before the start of the "Serious Moonlight" tour (LM 700), none of which took place anywhere near a radio station.

Also worth a mention is the "Back In Anger" release on Sonic Boom (SON 0330), a double CD set documenting a show from the 1995 "Outside" tour, a flawed release, but currently the only 'official' full length document of what I consider to be one of Bowie's most important tours. Next year, my next Bowie blog should be a look at Bowie live albums from the post-Tin Machine years.