the jason shergold music collector site
Thursday, 24 July 2014
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 July 2014 edition is now online, with a look at late 00's Stranglers Comps and post-1981 Siouxsie & The Banshees.
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 (will eventually) form the whole article. 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
The Beatles - September 2011
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
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
Deep Purple - March 2010
Depeche Mode - May 2012
The Doors - December 2013
Bob Dylan - November 2013
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
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
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
Mansun - August 2011
Dannii Minogue - September 2011
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
Pulp - August 2011
Queen - December 2010 / September 2011
Cliff Richard & The Shadows - July 2011
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
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
Suede - August 2011
Sugababes - August 2012
TRex - December 2010
Theaudience - August 2011
Thin Lizzy - February 2013
Tin Machine - December 2010
U2 - March 2012 / December 2012
The Velvet Underground - October 2010
The Walker Brothers - June 2011
Scott Walker - September 2010 / February 2013
The Who - May 2010 / August 2012 / July 2013
Kim Wilde - October 2013
To return to the homepage, you can click on the tab for the current year. Several blogs are in production, with articles on Badly Drawn Boy, Super Furry Animals, The Stranglers, Prince, The Beautiful South and Supergrass 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!
The July 2014 blogs feature a look at The Stranglers, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and part 7 of my 'novel within a website', "How I Learned To Hate Record Collecting". To look at any of these blogs, click the relevant link to your right.
"Golly jeepers, where'd you get those peepers"
Sunday, 20 July 2014
Last year, I looked at the UK releases by Siouxsie And The Banshees that were covered by their first hits LP, 1981’s “Once Upon A Time”. Well, now it is time to finish the job, and look at both the releases covered by the 1992 follow up, and the handful of records that filtered out thereafter.
“Twice Upon A Time”, especially when viewed in conjunction with it’s successor, is a magnificent overview of a band in their prime - the sound of a punk rock band moving as far away as humanly possible from their origins. Look at what they were doing during this time, and you can clearly see just how far ahead they were advancing when compared to some of their contemporaries.
When first released, the CD pressing of “Twice Upon A Time” came in an oversized slipcase designed to hold the CD edition of “Once Upon A Time”, even though that one had been issued in the days of vinyl. The space for the first disc was taken up with a piece of cardboard, and each copy was numbered and included a free mini poster. Whilst I understand these original pressings are now worth a small fortune, the “regular” CD edition can still be tracked down, and together, these two collections work as a better overview of the band than 2002’s “high speed” compilation that was “The Best Of Siouxsie And The Banshees”, where an attempt was made to try and condense everything onto a single CD.
As before, the listings below show the latest CD pressing for each studio LP where they have been remastered, and in the case of the un-remastered latter albums, the original (and often never reissued in any form) release, whilst all notable and essential singles from the period are shown. Several rarities from this period have gone AWOL, others haven’t, and each section discusses exactly what went where after the event.
A Kiss In The Dreamhouse (Polydor 531 489-6, digipack pressing)
Regarded by many as the band’s defining masterpiece, 1982’s “A Kiss In The Dreamhouse” represents the final piece in the Banshees jigsaw - the album that was the end of the journey from the early gobbing punk rock years, to a band creating ethereal, dreamy, and often dazzling “goth indie”. The lush waltz of “Melt!”, the propulsive throb of “Painted Bird”, the string driven jerkyness of “Slowdive”, this is the sound of a band at the peak of their powers.
Earlier that year, the band had released the glorious roar of “Fireworks” as a stand alone 45, which despite sporting artwork similar to the 45’s that followed, was never included on the subsequent album, and only really found a home when it made it onto the “Twice Upon A Time” collection. The current expanded edition of “Dreamhouse” does include a version of the song, although it is the original 12” mix that makes the set. Having issued their last few singles on this format, the band were now beginning to release each single as a 12, often with an extended version of the a-side, and always with extra tracks on the flipside. Whilst the (regular) B-sides made it onto “Downside Up”, some of the 12” mixes from the 80s and 90s have disappeared into the ether. Followup 45, and lead single from the LP, “Slowdive”, was also the recipient of a 12” mix, and this too makes the expanded CD edition, along with a couple of previously unissued demos.
In theory, “Melt!” formed part of a double a-side single, but I have no real recollection of people ever mentioning the single in such a status, and indeed, said track “Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant” is absent from “Twice Upon A Time” - but is on “Downside Up”.
Fireworks/Coal Mind (7”, Polydor POSP 450)
Fireworks/Coal Mind (Gatefold 7”, Polydor POSPG 450, slightly different cover design)
Fireworks (12” Version)/Coal Mind/We Fall (12”, Polydor POSPX 450, unique p/s)
Slowdive/Cannibal Roses (7”, Polydor POSP 510)
Slowdive (12” Version)/Obsession II/Cannibal Roses (12”, Polydor POSPX 510, different p/s)
Melt!/Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant (7”, Polydor POSP 539)
Melt!/A Sleeping Rain/Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant (12”, Polydor POSPX 539, unique p/s)
Hyaena (Polydor 531 489-5, digipack pressing)
Although the band had already gone through a number of line up changes before 1982, the departure of John McGeoch marked the start of an almost regular “change of guitarist” situation within the band. Having temporarily been in the band before, and with his own band on semi-hiatus, The Cure’s Robert Smith rejoined in time for the band’s next single release, another stand alone job in the form of a cover of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”, which remains one of the band’s biggest hits. Later that year, a live album called “Nocturne” was released, culled from a pair of shows the band played in September/October at the Royal Albert Hall. Issued as both a regular LP and a VHS, I don’t think I have the latter, but I do remember seeing it on TV years ago, where the continuity problems of cobbling together the best bits of two gigs was obviously apparent, as Smith’s shirt changed with more or less each song!
“Nocturne” was also reissued a few years back as part of the remastering campaign (some years after the VHS edition resurfaced on DVD), where unlike the studio efforts, it came with no bonus tracks (Polydor 531 489-4). This is a shame, because there were a pair of massive rarities in the vaults - live recordings of “Headcut” and an - at the time - new, unreleased song called “Running Town”, from the RAH shows, only previously issued on a rare fan club only 7”. Only 2500 copies were pressed, and neither recording has appeared again since.
When I first heard it, I was disappointed with 1984’s “Hyaena”. I figured it was the Banshees’ own “mid 80s” mis-step, their “Dirty Work”, or their “Never Let Me Down”. But then, when I kept listening to it, it began to reveal it’s genius. Perhaps it is just so far from “Hong Kong Garden” that it threw me at first, but that’s what ultimately makes it so special - the echoey romp of “Dazzle”, the piano strut of “Swimming Horses”, the epic rumble of the closing “Blow The House Down”...this was pop music light years away from the three chord limitations of punk, and all the better for it.
As if to even further distance themselves from the safety pin brigade, 1984’s “The Thorn” EP was a four track single full of ORCHESTRAL reworkings of oldies from the past. Two of the songs from the EP, led by “Overground”, were also issued as a standard 7”. All four tracks from the EP made the “Downside Up” boxset, where they were included in isolation from the rest of the box, as a sort of CD EP pressing. This disc was not, sadly, included in a repro of the original EP sleeve, but was simply the last disc in the 4-disc set.
Both “Dear Prudence” and the 12” mix of “Dazzle” are on the current expanded version of “Hyaena”, along with a couple of demos. Rarely reported is the fact that the 12” edition of “Prudence” featured a slightly longer mix of the a-side, but it is the 7” mix that makes both “Twice Upon A Time” and “Hyaena”. All of the other b-sides from the period - except, of course, the live “Running Town” - are now on “Downside Up”.
Dear Prudence/Tattoo (7”, Wonderland SHE 4)
Dear Prudence/Tattoo (7” in fold out sleeve, Wonderland SHEG 4, green p/s)
Dear Prudence (12” Mix)/Tattoo/There’s A Planet In My Kitchen (12”, Wonderland SHEX 4, pink p/s)
Headcut (Live)/Running Town (7”, Wonderland FILE 1)
Swimming Horses/Let Go (7”, Wonderland SHE 6)
Swimming Horses/Let Go/The Humming Wires (12”, Wonderland SHEX 6)
Dazzle/I Promise (7”, Wonderland SHE 7)
Dazzle (7 Mins Plus Glamour Mix)/I Promise/Throw Them To The Lions (12”, Wonderland SHEX 7, slightly different p/s)
Overground (New Version)/Placebo Effect (New Version) (7”, Wonderland SHE 8)
The Thorn EP: Overground (New Version)/Voices (New Version)/Placebo Effect (New Version)/Red Over White (New Version) (12”, Wonderland SHEEP 8)
Tinderbox (Polydor 531 489-3, digipack pressing)
1986’s “Tinderbox” is an unusual part of the Banshees’ canon. When released in 1986, the decision was taken to release it in expanded form on CD, where all of the rarities from the two preceding singles that formed as pre-release promo for the album (b-sides and a 12” ’Eruption’ mix of 1985’s “Cities In Dust“) were tagged onto the end as bonus tracks. Very nice.
Of course, that edition of the CD has now been superseded, and with the relevant flipsides now on “Downside Up”, the current pressing of the record includes outtakes alongside the still-in-situ 12” version of “Cities”. One of these extras is an alternate take of the obscure late 1987 stand alone 45, “Song From The Edge Of The World”, a track that has spent most of it’s life out in the wilderness, as the band were not happy with the production of the track, and even fought - successfully - to keep it off of “Twice Upon A Time”.
By this point, Smith had left the band again, to reignite The Cure, and the guitarist here was John Carruthers, who had taken over from Smith just before the recording of “The Thorn” EP.
Cities In Dust/An Execution (7”, Wonderland SHE 9)
Cities In Dust/An Execution (Posterbag 7”, Wonderland SHEG 9)
Cities In Dust (Extended Eruption Mix)/An Execution/Quarterdrawing Of The Dog (12”, Wonderland SHEX 9)
Candyman/Lullaby (7”, Wonderland SHE 10)
Candyman/Lullaby/Umbrella (2x7”, Wonderland SHEDP 10, 2nd disc 1-sided and housed in individual numbered die cut sleeve)
Candyman/Lullaby/Umbrella (12”, Wonderland SHEX 10)
Through The Looking Glass (Wonderland 831 474-2)
I often forget this one exists - 1987’s covers album. It was previewed by a cover of “This Wheel’s On Fire”, chosen as Sioux loved the ‘original’ by Julie Driscoll - she was horrified when she later realised that it was actually a cover of an unreleased Bob Dylan track, as she was never a fan of His Bobness.
“The Passenger” was an Iggy Pop cover, and Pop later commented on how much he loved the “horn driven” treatment the band gave it. Both singles were issued on a number of formats, as increasingly, multiple gimmick driven pressings were starting to emerge for all Siouxsie 45’s.
Had the remasters campaign been finished, then this album would have been the next in line to get an expanded repressing, but at the time of writing, no such reissue is likely to be forthcoming. Severin was reported to be working on a career spanning boxset several years ago which would have included all of the albums, including this one, but no word as yet as to whether it is still going ahead. As for “Song From The Edge Of The World”, the “Columbus” mix was one of several remixes included on the second disc of the “limited edition” version of “The Best Of” set, but the original 7” mix is still only available on the original 7” and Cassette pressings. The 2002 "hits" set was selective in what 12” mixes it included, and neither of the extended mixes of the two singles from this LP were considered for inclusion, making the 12” formats of these 45s essential buys. Again, all of the b-sides from the period, including the rare “She Cracked”, made it onto “Downside Up”.
This Wheel’s On Fire/Shooting Sun (7”, Wonderland SHE 11)
This Wheel’s On Fire/Shooting Sun/Sleepwalking (On The High Wire)/She Cracked (2x7”, Wonderland SHEG 11)
This Wheel’s On Fire (Incendiary Mix)/Shooting Sun/Sleepwalking (On The High Wire) (12”, Wonderland SHEX 11, “thick border“ p/s)
The Passenger/She’s Cuckoo (7”, Wonderland SHE 12)
The Passenger/She’s Cuckoo (Poster Sleeve 7”, Wonderland SHEG 12)
The Passenger (Llllloco-motion Mix)/She’s Cuckoo/Something Blue (12”, Wonderland SHEX 12, different p/s)
Song From The Edge Of The World/The Whole Price Of Blood (7”, Wonderland SHE 13)
Song From The Edge Of The World/The Whole Price Of Blood (7” Picture Disc, Wonderland SHEP 13, housed in clear sleeve)
Song From The Edge Of The World/The Whole Price Of Blood/Mechanical Eyes/Song From The Edge Of The World (Columbus Mix) (Cassette, Wonderland SHEPC 13)
Song From The Edge Of The World (Columbus Mix)/The Whole Price Of Blood/Mechanical Eyes (12”, Wonderland SHEX 13, blue bordered p/s)
The Peel Sessions EP: Love In A Void (Peel 1977)/Mirage (Peel 1977)/Metal Postcard (Peel 1977)/Suburban Relapse (Peel 1977) (Cassette, Strange Fruit SFPSC 012)
The Peel Sessions EP: Love In A Void (Peel 1977)/Mirage (Peel 1977)/Metal Postcard (Peel 1977)/Suburban Relapse (Peel 1977) (12”, Strange Fruit SFPS 012)
The Peel Sessions EP: Love In A Void (Peel 1977)/Mirage (Peel 1977)/Metal Postcard (Peel 1977)/Suburban Relapse (Peel 1977) (CD, Strange Fruit SFPSCD 012, 1989 re-release)
Peepshow (Wonderland 837 240-2)
For those who don’t believe “Dreamhouse” to be their defining moment, then 1988’s “Peepshow” is often thought of as the other major contender. Continuing where “Tinderbox” left off, this album veers between rampant goth rock (“The Killing Jar”), baroque beauty (“The Last Beat Of My Heart”) and in lead single and opening track, “Peek A Boo“, a song seemingly within it’s own genre of ‘thirties hip hop” according to the Melody Maker. Which, of course, makes it all the more confusing as to why Polydor have refused to reissue it. I think it got some form of budget re-release by Spectrum in the late 90s, but there are no bonus tracks on that version at all.
For the first time in their career, the band began issuing CD and CD-Video singles. A quick look at the entries above will show that the band had by now started releasing singles on their own Wonderland imprint, with their own unique “SHE” catalogue numbers, but the CDV releases were theoretically euro-wide singles, and thus retained standard numeric numbers. The release also marked another change in line up, with Carruthers now out of the band and replaced by the double headed combo of Jon Klein on guitar, and future Therapy? band member Martin McCarrick on keyboards and cello, thus giving the band an almost “official” non-guitar based sound with which to play around in.
“The Killing Jar” was remixed for it’s single release, and appears on “Twice Upon A Time” in it’s 45 version. The 12” mix appears on the double disc “Best Of”. In an attempt to reel in the punters, the version of “Last Beat Of My Heart” which made the singles set was a previously unheard live recording from a then recent Lollapalooza performance. “Peek A Boo” was the subject of several remixes, although few were released commercially, however the “promo only” ‘Silver Dollar’ mix of the track later made the double disc “The Best Of” set. Again, the b-sides are on “Downside Up” with the exception of the alternate mix of “El Dia De Los Muertos”, still only available on the CD edition of “Last Beat”.
The eagle eyed amongst you will also notice some “Peel Sessions” EP’s in these listings - all of the tracks from these releases have been compiled on later radio sessions releases such as “At The BBC”.
Peek A Boo/False Face (7”, Wonderland SHE 14)
Peek A Boo/False Face (Gatefold 7”, Wonderland SHEG 14)
Peek A Boo/False Face/Catwalk/Peek A Boo (Big Spender Mix) (Cassette, Wonderland SHECS 14, numbered and in unique p/s)
Peek A Boo (Big Spender Mix)/Catwalk/False Face (12”, Wonderland SHEX 14)
Peek A Boo/False Face/Catwalk/Peek A Boo (Big Spender Mix) (CD, Wonderland SHECD 14)
Peek A Boo (Video)/False Face/Catwalk/Peek A Boo (Big Spender Mix) (CD Video, Wonderland 080 398 2)
The Killing Jar (Remix)/Something Wicked (This Way Comes) (7”, Wonderland SHE 15)
The Killing Jar (Remix)/Something Wicked (This Way Comes) (Clear Vinyl 7”, Wonderland SHEG 15)
The Killing Jar (Remix)/Something Wicked (This Way Comes) (7” Picture Disc, Wonderland SHEP 15, in clear sleeve)
The Killing Jar (Lepidopteristic Mix)/Something Wicked (This Way Comes)/Are You Still Dying Darling? (12”, Wonderland SHEX 15, bordered p/s)
The Killing Jar (Remix)/Something Wicked (This Way Comes)/Are You Still Dying Darling?/The Killing Jar (Lepidopteristic Mix) (CD, Wonderland SHECD 15)
The Last Beat Of My Heart/El Dia De Los Muertos (7”, Wonderland SHE 16)
The Last Beat Of My Heart/El Dia De Los Muertos (Numbered 7”, Wonderland SHEG 16 in “limited edition gilded sleeve“)
The Last Beat Of My Heart/El Dia De Los Muertos/Sunless (12”, Wonderland SHEX 16, bordered p/s)
The Last Beat Of My Heart/El Dia De Los Muertos/Sunless (Numbered Gatefold 12”, Wonderland SHEXG 16)
The Last Beat Of My Heart/El Dia De Los Muertos/Sunless/El Dia De Los Metros (Espiritu Mix) (CD, Wonderland SHECD 16, minor differences to 7“ sleeve)
The Peel Sessions - The Second Session EP: Hong Kong Garden (Peel 1978)/Overground (Peel 1978)/Carcass (Peel 1978)/Helter Skelter (Peel 1978) (Cassette, Strange Fruit SFPSC 066)
The Peel Sessions - The Second Session EP: Hong Kong Garden (Peel 1978)/Overground (Peel 1978)/Carcass (Peel 1978)/Helter Skelter (Peel 1978) (12“, Strange Fruit SFPS 066)
The Peel Sessions - The Second Session EP: Hong Kong Garden (Peel 1978)/Overground (Peel 1978)/Carcass (Peel 1978)/Helter Skelter (Peel 1978) (CD, Strange Fruit SFPSCD 066)
Superstition (Wonderland 847 731-2)
The gap between Banshees releases was starting to increase now, mainly as Siouxsie and Budgie had their own ‘side project’ band, The Creatures, to keep them busy. And so it was that three years passed before the release of 1991’s “Superstition”, which successfully dragged the band into the 1990s. Previewed by the Bollywood rhythm driven glory of lead 45 “Kiss Them For Me”, “Superstition” had a semi electronic feel to it, thanks to the production work of the New Order/PSB affiliated Stephen Hague. This helped to give it a contemporary feel, but Sioux was later quoted as being less than keen on the album, because of it’s ‘computerized’ vibe.
Both the album and it’s attendant singles were issued in sleeves showing a glammed up Siousxie, with the remainder of the band completely absent. This wasn’t anything entirely new, but it did seem to me as though the label were using Sioux as a focal point around which to help sell the album, in a similar way that Chrysalis used Debbie Harry to flog Blondie records.
Having issued many of the 80s singles in variant sleeve designs up until the “Peepshow” releases, the trend (un)continued here, as with the - sort of - exception of “Kiss Them For Me”, the same basic image was used on each format of each single, with some minor design alterations often the only thing that differed between selected pressings. With all of the flipsides on “Downside Up”, but with most of the remixes from the period absent from “The Best Of”, it’s generally the 12” and CD pressings only that are thus of major interest here music wise (the 7” version of “Kiss Them For Me” having made it onto “Twice Upon A Time”).
By now, the Banshees were part of the old guard - it was well over a decade since “Hong Kong Garden”, and whilst “Kiss” became a big hit single, follow up “Shadowtime” faired less well, the band now starting to struggle to get airplay, although I do recall seeing the promo vid on one of those now-defunct Saturday morning chart rundown shows on TV. The band’s profile however, was re-raised in 1992, when the group recorded the theme tune for the new Batman film, and their collaboration with Danny Elfman produced “Face To Face” - a sublime mix of Banshees goth-pop and Elfman string overload. Unlike some movie tie in singles, this 45 was released on the band’s own label, meaning “proper” brand new B-sides adorned the flip, rather than - say - a track by another band with a song from the movie. “Face To Face” is on both “Twice Upon A Time” and, in it’s 7 and 12 inch forms, “The Best Of”. Meanwhile, the US was given “Fear Of The Unknown”, from “Superstition”, as a single between “Shadowtime” and “Face”, and appears in remixed form on “Twice Upon A Time”.
Kiss Them For Me (7” Version)/Return (7”, Wonderland SHE 19)
Kiss Them For Me (7” Version)/Return (Cassette, Wonderland SHECS 19, slightly “cut down“ p/s)
Kiss Them For Me (12” Version)/Staring Back/Return (Gatefold 12“, Wonderland SHEX 19, “Snapper Mix“ reference on front cover)
Kiss Them For Me (Kathak Mix)/(Loveappella Mix)/(Ambient Mix) (Remix 12” in “zoomed in” p/s, Wonderland SHEXR 19)
Kiss Them For Me (7” Version)/(12” Version)/Staring Back/Return (CD, Wonderland SHECD 19)
Shadowtime/Spiral Twist (7”, Wonderland SHE 20)
Shadowtime/Spiral Twist (Cassette, Wonderland SHECS 20, slightly re-jigged sleeve design)
Shadowtime (Eclipse Mix)/Spiral Twist/Sea Of Light (12”, Wonderland SHEX 20, “Eclipse Mix“ reference on front cover)
Shadowtime (LP Mix)/(Eclipse Mix)/Spiral Twist/Sea Of Light (CD, Wonderland SHECD 20)
The Peel Sessions 1977-1978 EP: Hong Kong Garden (Peel 1978)/Mirage (Peel 1977)/Carcass (Peel 1978)/Love In A Void (Peel 1977) (Blue Vinyl 7”, Strange Fruit 677002)
The Peel Sessions 1977-1978 EP: Hong Kong Garden (Peel 1978)/Suburban Relapse (Peel 1977)/Carcass (Peel 1978)/Love In A Void (Peel 1977) (Shaped Picture Disc, Strange Fruit 671004)
The Peel Sessions 1977-1978 EP: Hong Kong Garden (Peel 1978)/Helter Skelter (Peel 1978)/Carcass (Peel 1978)/Mirage (Peel 1977) (White Vinyl 12”, Strange Fruit 670002, unique p/s)
Face To Face/I Could Be Again (7”, Wonderland SHE 21)
Face To Face/I Could Be Again (Cassette, Wonderland SHECS 21)
Face To Face (Catatonic Mix)/(7” Mix)/Hothead (12” Picture Disc, Wonderland SHEX 21)
Face To Face (7” Mix)/(Catatonic Mix)/I Could Be Again/Hothead (CD, Wonderland SHECD 21)
The Rapture (Wonderland 523 725-2)
And so we come to the band’s swansong album, released in early 1995. With the five man line up still in place, the final Banshees album was as strong as anything that had come before, excitedly described by MM as a “cornucopia of lush instrumentation”. It had been another long gap between LP’s, although the band had not been totally AWOL - they played Reading Festival in 1993, and I remember my friend and I heading off to the Clapham Grand to try and get tickets on the night for a warm up show they were playing there a day or two before. Trouble was, the tickets available on the day sold out before we got to the front of the queue, and the longer the night went on, the more the touts started asking for tickets, so we gave up. Following the album’s release, guitarist Jon Klein was replaced by Knox Chandler.
“O Baby”, one of the band’s most ‘pop’ moments, sounding almost like REM in parts, was issued as the preview single, and saw the band enter into the world of the double CD single approach for the first time. The amount of extra material that had to be generated was therefore not always going to be of the “normal” b-sides variety as later included on “Downside Up”, and remixes mostly made up the shortfall. This meant that several rarities from this period remain exclusive to the CD editions, as the 7” and Cassette single pressings omitted these rarities on space grounds. Those formats are therefore superfluous to anyone other than the completists, and as such, these pressings are not shown in the list below. “Downside Up” does however include the live recordings that made it onto the b-side of the “O Baby” single, even though you could argue these are not “real” b-sides either.
The one “authentic” b-side of the “O Baby” 45, “B Side Ourselves”, was shoehorned into the band’s early 1995 UK tour, where the popularity of the band - at least within their core fan base - resulted in multiple shows having to be arranged within the capital. The band added a third date in London, a month or so after the tour finished, at The Forum, where the setlist was revamped slightly. I remember, as people now mostly knew what to expect (I‘m sure I wasn’t the only one who was seeing them in London for the second time that year), witnessing a mass exodus to the bar as the opening notes of the 10-minute-long title track rang out across the venue, whilst the group reintroduced an oldie into the encore to shake the set up a bit, which was 1981’s “Spellbound” - even at this stage in their career, the Banshees were never the sort of band you could expect to “play the hits”, so this was a bit of a bonus.
“Stargazer” was issued as the next single, and technically, remains the band’s final 45. CD1 included two new b-sides, and was housed in a fancy “glittery” digipack sleeve, whilst CD2 offered multiple remixes. Again, 7” and Cassette singles with most of the bonus tracks missing also exist. CD2 included a “Mark Saunders” remix which later made it onto “The Best Of”, but the remaining remixes from the period are still only available on the original release.
The Forum date was the last time I saw the band, and marked their final headline show in the UK. In mid 1996, just as The Pistols announced their return, The Banshees announced their split. The usual reasons were given, but it did almost feel as though the return of the Pistols seemed to cause a sort of chemical reaction, as if the band felt that they must have been going for too long, now that former contemporaries were reforming. It had been 20 years since that 100 Club gig, and the Banshees saw that as a good time to call it a day.
O Baby/B-Side Ourselves/O Baby (Manhattan Mix) (CD1, Wonderland SHECD 22, red text)
O Baby/Swimming Horses (Live, KROQ Acoustic Christmas 21.12.1991)/All Tomorrow’s Parties (Live, KROQ Acoustic Christmas 21.12.1991) (CD2, Wonderland SHEDD 22, orange text)
Stargazer/Hang Me High/Black Sun (CD1, Wonderland SHECD 23, “glittery” p/s)
Stargazer (LP Mix)/(Mambo Sun Mix)/(Planet Queen Mix)/(Mark Saunders Mix) (CD2, Wonderland SHEDD 23)
What Happened Next
In 2002, the Banshees reformed with the “Chandler” era lineup for a short reunion tour. Dubbed “The Seven Year Itch” in reference to the time that had passed since their last shows, two of the shows in London were recorded for a DVD and CD (Wonderland SANCD 157). The track listing varied slightly between the two editions.
The tour coincided with the Polydor endorsed “The Best Of”, which included a new song in the form of “Dizzy”. On the 2002 tour, a special “gig only” CD single of “Dizzy” was made available (Wonderland DIZZY 1), which played an alternate version to that found on the best of, where it was dubbed the “Version 1” mix. The compilation was a slightly random, and obviously incomplete, view of the band’s career, which included - uncredited - an alternate version of “This Wheel’s On Fire”. The inclusion of “Song From The Edge Of The World” on the double disc version meant that every stand alone Banshees 45 had appeared on one of the three best of releases, albeit not always in their original 7” form.
In the summer of 2004, “The Best Of” reappeared as a three disc release - the original CD, the remix CD from the limited edition pressing, and a (again, random) trawl through the band’s videos on a DVD (Polydor 06024 9819 8087). The inclusion of “Stargazer”, on all three discs, did at least show the story had been brought up to date post-”Twice Upon A Time”. In the time that had passed since the original 2002 release, McGeoch had passed away and the reissue featured a dedication to his memory inside.
2009 saw the release of “At The BBC” (Polydor 531 576-1), a magnificent 3-CD trawl through the band’s BBC sessions and ‘recorded by the Beeb‘ concerts, along with a DVD of TV performances. It included everything the band taped for John Peel, plus more, and thus superseded those “Peel Sessions” EPs and the “Voices On The Air” release from 2006, a release devoted to everything the band taped for Peel in the 70s and 80s. The set, strangely, grinds to a halt in 1991, meaning that things like the band’s “taped by the BBC” show at the Newcastle Mayfair in 1995 are not included.
2014 has seen things turn full circle, with a double 7” release of “Hong Kong Garden”, housed in a sleeve not too dissimilar to the original release (Polydor SBAN 35). The two tracks from the original have been joined by alternate takes of said songs - the “Thorn” version of “Voices”, and an alternate mix of “HKG” from the “Marie Antoinette” soundtrack.
Given that this is a band that have ceased to exist for over a decade, I can understand if any of you youngsters reading this might not understand what all the fuss is about. If not, then have a quick listen to Savages - not so much influenced by the Banshees, more a stones throw away from being a tribute act.
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
From a record collecting point of view, the UK market had an air of “vanilla” about it come late 1995. The restriction on the number of singles formats, coupled with the rise of the Double-CD single set, had more or less destroyed freedom of choice, with format number three often a tokenistic Cassette release with nothing unusual on music wise - released even though Cassettes were dipping in popularity. Over in the LP charts, vinyl and tape were also being marginalised, as CD’s offered extra tracks unable to be found on those editions.
By the start of 1996, Blur had started to run out of B-sides for “The Great Escape” promo campaign. Having sourced BBC recorded material for the flipsides of “Country House” and “The Universal” the previous year, there were no other suitable avenues to venture down in the vaults. As so it was that “Stereotypes”, issued early that year, became the first Blur 45 to actually appear on 45 for well over a year, as opposed to being issued on two CD editions. Issued the day before Valentines Day, “Stereotypes” was housed in a uniquely mocking ’Valentines’ cover pressed on pink vinyl, an obvious reference to the “wife swapping is the future” line in the song. OK, so the b-sides were nothing more than some, but not all, of the ones off the CD edition, a problem that had also afflicted the MC pressing of “Country House”, but the fact that it was actually out on vinyl, was possibly a sign that something was happening. Yes, it had “gimmick” written all over it, but in an age where the Compact Disc was striding across the globe like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, it was nice to see.
Of course, over in “proper” indie land, the 7” had never really gone away. Labels like Fierce Panda and Fantastic Plastic had continued to release singles on the format, often issuing them on 45 and nothing else, but now it seemed as though the mainstream was catching on. By the end of 1996, bands like Fluffy had taken to not only issuing 7” singles on coloured vinyl, but were also including “vinyl only B-sides” on some of their releases (see the black and white sleeved version of “Nothing”, with it‘s cover of “I‘m A Boy“ on side 2).
As the millennium approached, more and more bands began moving towards the 7” in order to use it as a home for spare flipsides. It became increasingly commonplace to abandon the Tape format altogether, and to try and get bands in the studio to record extra tracks to spread out across a vinyl pressing and two CD versions where possible, or at least issue a “gimmicky“ vinyl release pitched at the collectors market. All of the Blur singles from their self titled 1997 effort appeared as coloured vinyl 7s, whilst Sleeper’s “Romeo Me” was the recipient of a 7” with a unique B-side, which meant that when you added up the CD flipsides, resulted in no less than SEVEN new songs being released for the first time (well, remixes and alternate takes, but you get the drift). By the time 1998 came around, the chart regulators placed restrictions on the number of songs allowed per format (down from four to three), and this made the 7” even more important, as issuing something on this format allowed for more new B-sides to be released per 45 than if you didn‘t issue it on 7“. For anybody who hadn’t gone down this route already, now was the time to do so. If you didn’t, you were restricting the outlets upon which to shoehorn your new material. And so it was that vinyl only B-sides and coloured vinyl singles began flooding out, with everyone from The Divine Comedy (“Postcard To Rosie” on the back of “Generation Sex”) to Catatonia (the yellow vinyl “Road Rage”) turning to the humble 7” to help them hitch their latest efforts into the charts. Even a post-”Different Class” Pulp ended up reissuing a number of mid 90s singles on vinyl either for the first time (“Something Changed“), or on coloured vinyl second time around, almost as if they were apologising for not doing it in the first place, as if they had not been “indie” enough when these singles were first released commercially. Vinyl had made something of a hip comeback.
Meanwhile, in the dance/pop crossover land where Madonna was, the consensus was that if the 7” could have a comeback, then so could the 12”. “Frozen” was issued on the format, Madonna’s first vinyl release in the UK since mid 1995, although there was admittedly nothing on that edition that wasn’t on the CD. But it was a start, and Madonna 12” singles became the norm - again - from that point on. Furthermore, even the humble Cassette began fighting back, with both Madonna and The Divine Comedy issuing Tape-only flipsides before the end of 98. It was becoming increasing commonplace for the collectors to have to hunt down all three formats of a single, either to nab all the new b-sides, or to get all the flipsides plus a coloured vinyl pressing, irrelevant of who it was and which genre it slotted into.
That wasn’t all. Not widely reported was the existence in the mid 90s of the “non chart eligible” 12”, which was usually issued as a fourth format the week after the third one. But by 1998, it was becoming more common with, again, Ms Ciccone leading the way. Sometimes these releases would be simple “for the fans” style releases, offering nothing rare (“Drowned World”) but at other times, the format was used to stick out material that had failed to get on the other formats because of the chart rules governing ‘number of songs‘. And it wasn’t only the 12” format that was used, as “Ray Of Light” appeared on two CD editions, with the second one the non chart eligible one (the 12” pressing had been released beforehand as a standard pressing, and did count towards the charts).
Soon enough, anybody with a dance/pop crossover trait was getting in on the act. Many non chart eligible 12” releases began appearing with at least one new “mix” in situ, turning them into an essential purchase for even the slightly-hardcore-but-not-quite fan - see the 1999 PSB release of “I Don’t Know What You Want”. Furthermore, as these releases were not eligible for the charts, then the usual rules concerning how long they were and how many songs they had did not apply, and some of these releases began appearing as totally over the top pressings, such as the follow up PSB release “New York City Boy”, which appeared as a 5 track double 12” in a gatefold sleeve! Of course, it came with a price tag to match.
Why were the labels doing this? Well, they obviously figured that the cost of producing singles that were not going to help their chart position would be outweighed by the profits they would make if they sold them all. Previously, if UK chart rules had prevented a “US only” remix from being released, well, that was the way it was - but now, this was a way around it. By the mid noughties, everyone from Beyonce to Goldfrapp, and Depeche Mode to - yes - Blur were getting in on it.
It wasn’t quite like this in the LP world. Eventually, the Cassette died out, whilst most vinyl pressings had an air of “retro-ness” to them - rarely would a vinyl album include something unique, and when one was pressed, it was usually on heavy vinyl, cost more than the CD, and seemed like a niche format, rather than one the record company were really encouraging you to buy - over in the singles charts, the marketing of the 12” single seemed more “in your face”, but vinyl albums now had a cult feel to them. It was sometimes difficult to know if they even existed, as smaller HMVs tended to hide them away so you couldn’t easily find them. Some vinyl pressings included extra tracks and/or unique mixes of selected songs (such as Pulp’s 1998 offering “This Is Hardcore”) but more often than not, there was some limited edition CD pressing or “tour edition” reissue knocking about, which included songs completely absent from the vinyl edition, which thus made it rather defunct. Every so often, an album would appear on coloured vinyl, or with a free 7” single inside (see another Catatonia release, “Equally Cursed And Blessed“), but really, the album world was being so dominated by the Compact Disc, that most vinyl albums from the period were often of interest to completists only. This explains why some of the pressings from this period are now worth huge amounts of money, as relatively few were pressed because demand had dropped so much.
Come 2000, and the singles market was overflowing with multiple formats, multiple B-sides, and multiple everything. Singles containing nothing but remixes of the a-side were again allowed to play for longer than one without, and when you thus bought one that had been multiformatted, it meant you ended up with about 80 minutes worth of mixes across two discs (see Dannii’s late 90s effort “Disrememberance” as one such example). Pop acts meanwhile decided to resurrect the Tape format for the singles market, with the likes of Atomic Kitten not just issuing Cassette pressings, but including MC-only B-sides and remixes on the format as well. By 2001, format number three could be either a 7”, 12”, Tape or even a DVD (more about that next month) - and virtually every time, there would be something on that format that wasn’t on the CD pressings. The usual trick on the 12” was to include at least one “non-CD” remix (see J Lo’s “I’m Real”) and when you then factored in the existence of a fourth non chart eligible release, well, you can see how much product was being tossed out. Madonna even issued the likes of “American Pie” on not one, nor two, but THREE non chart eligible releases, done by the label to try and maximise profits from somebody who they knew would “sell”.
Ultimately, this was going to cause problems. I remember one day coming out of HMV having purchased all of the required formats for singles released by people I liked for the week. It totalled something ridiculous like £70. I wasn’t even going to play some of these singles, whilst there was at least one 12” in the pile with it’s “vinyl only mix” that was thus only going to be on the turntable for about eight minutes. This was a lot of money to pay for songs that, in reality, were unlikely to improve my quality of life. The labels were basically making me spend money on things that had they not existed in the first place, I wouldn’t have missed. It did feel as though some sort of line had been crossed, that the “vanilla” scene of 1995 had been replaced by a completely over the top approach to the singles market, where not only was each format being pushed at the consumer, but was being done by offering something “unique” each time, making you feel guilty if you refused to buy it. As somebody who loved lots of bands and lots of singers, this meant the total outlay per week on new 45’s - and albums, new and old - had increased significantly. It was only my “ever increasing credit limit” on the credit card that actually allowed me to buy these things, at no point was “real cash” being used to cover these costs. Something had to give eventually, and we shall look at how the industry tried to fix this in a future article. In the next two blogs, we shall look at two of the new formats that came in post-1999 that helped confuse matters even more - one that eventually failed abysmally, and the one that took the album market to a higher state of unit shifting insanity.
Tuesday, 1 July 2014
As promised at the end of last year, here is part 4 of what I think will be a 5-part look at The Stranglers compilation albums. As ever, the usual rules apply - either a band endorsed release, something on an affiliated label, or something with the band logo intact, with a running time of no more than 3 CD’s in length and designed for release in the UK. The releases we have here take us from where we left off last time, somewhere around 2005, through to the end of 2009.
Other comps did surface on various labels during the same period, but either tick none of the above boxes, or were technically “overseas” releases (such as the EMI endorsed “10 Great Songs“), so they are exempt again. So many releases appear online nowadays that you never seem to see in the shops, and given that these albums are being made “in the EU” rather than in the UK, it makes it difficult to know what only appeared here as an import - so I have tried to make a judgement on what makes the list. I am not 100% certain that these releases appeared in the order I have put them in, but it should still be vaguely chronological.
The Very Best Of
(CD, Sony 82876 862092)
After “Norfolk Coast” brought the band back into the public eye again, it allowed for a whole new angle on the typical Stranglers comp. The band were back on EMI, the same label who owned the rights to the early period Hugh stuff, and with Sony and EMI now more or less all part of the same big record company, the powers that be obviously couldn’t resist a comp which covered the EMI and Epic years, along with the hit that had previewed “NC”, “Big Thing Coming”.
Now, as a fan of the Mark 2 years, it is difficult for me to look at this one with anything other than a sense of bewilderment. Yes, there would be licensing issues over the China material, but with any chancer being able to get hold of the Eagle stuff, then it wouldn’t have been too hard for Sony to have done the same. But, a combination of ‘trying to keep it within the limits of the label(s)’ and an acceptance that Mark 2 never really had any hits, means that what we have here is a comp that basically jumps at one point from 1990 to 2004. Couldn’t we at least have had “Lies And Deception” and “In Heaven She Walks”?
So this is a Mark 1 and Mark 3 compilation. Trouble is, the average punter wouldn’t be none the wiser, given that there is no mention - nor photo - of either Paul or Baz in the artwork. Bit crap if you ask me. JJ was apparently disinterested in this release, and only agreed to be interviewed about it if he could promote the nearly finished “Suite XVI” in any interviews. As such, a plug for said LP does appear within the booklet.
Apart from the obviously great tunes, the rest of the package feels a bit cheap. Dull title, bizarrely boring cover - if the logo had been printed normally, it would probably have at least worked in a sort of minimalist fashion - and, in all honesty, another best of that, Mark 3 inclusion aside, simply covers the same bases as before but just in a different order. 2002’s “Peaches” feels a bit more ‘classy’, whilst “The Hit Men” is a lot more expansive. Within a year or so, EMI had released another collection, a sort of “superseded best of“, and this one got deleted, so copies aren’t always easy to hunt down. Some edits are included, but not necessarily the ones listed in the CD booklet.
Tracklisting: No More Heroes/Something Better Change/Peaches/Golden Brown/Nice N Sleazy/Duchess/Grip/Nice In Nice/Hanging Around/Skin Deep/All Day And All Of The Night (7” Mix)/Strange Little Girl/European Female/No Mercy/Big In America/Let Me Down Easy/Midnight Summer Dream (Edit)/Walk On By (Edit)/Big Thing Coming/Always The Sun (Edit)/96 Tears (Edit)
10 Track Collectors Album
(CD, Bigtime no cat no)
This release is either the band indulging in a subversive manner, or was done without their knowledge. This 2006 newspaper freebie was given away with “The Mail On Sunday”, a notoriously right wing paper that politically, seems to be the polar opposite of everything The Stranglers stand for. Perhaps the band just wanted to get their music to an audience that didn’t really know about them, or maybe, given that this is a Roberts-era compilation released after he had left the band, it appeared without the group even knowing.
Either way, it’s an unusual release in that the sources used for the material are not the usual suspects - a lot of this is Mark 3 doing Mark 1, and so rather than the old trick used on most Roberts comps of lifting material from the Royal Albert Hall gig, the recordings here are from a varied mish mash of sources. A handful of songs potentially could have come from several different releases, I have tried to list where I think they came from. But even if I am wrong, all of the material here is previously released somewhere, so it shouldn’t matter too much.
The last 4 songs on the CD can only be played as a CD-Rom, and are of the “limited play” variety - a handful of freebies at the time were released like this, whereby a count would be made of how many times you played the songs, and once you’d reached your limit, that was that. I suppose this was designed to get you to buy the regular LP upon which these songs appeared, which in this instance, was the most recent studio effort “Norfolk Coast”.
Tracklisting: Golden Brown (“Laid Black” version)/Walk On By (“Laid Black” version)/European Female (“Laid Black” version)/Peaches (“On Stage On Screen“ version)/Something Better Change (“Euro Live“ version)/Big Thing Coming (“On Stage On Screen” version)/Strange Little Girl (“Laid Black” version)/5 Minutes (“Euro Live“ version)/Always The Sun (“On Stage On Screen” version)/No More Heroes (“On Stage On Screen” version)/Norfolk Coast/Long Black Veil/Lost Control/Mine All Mine
(CD, Elap 5048671 2)
Whilst you might have thought there had been enough “Eagle era” Mark 2 comps by 2007, somebody somewhere obviously thought otherwise, and this single disc job dutifully turned up. Suffice to say, it doesn’t really do anything that all the others hadn’t already done, but it does look quite nice - the logo, the same typeface as that used on “Friday The 13th”, it looks quite neat. But, of course, it doesn’t include anything that you probably don’t already own, and the slight randomness of the thing means it doesn’t really tick many boxes.
As such, when I bought mine, it was shrinkwrapped, and so it stayed shrinkwrapped. To clarify, it’s a mix of live tunes from “Friday”, both of the Mark 1 and Mark 2 vintage, and a few bits and pieces from “Written In Red” and “Coup De Grace”. I think it may actually be a German only release, with UK copies theoretically imported over from the EU, but it’s here anyway because I can‘t prove otherwise and I like the cover. The album itself shows a 2006 copyright, but net searches suggest an early 07 release.
Tracklisting: No More Heroes (Live)/Waltzinblack (Live)/Valley Of The Birds (Live)/Always The Sun (Live)/God Is Good/All Day And All Of The Night (Live)/Coup De Grace/Summer In The City/Wonderful Land/Golden Brown (Live)/Lies And Deception (Live)/The Light
(2xCD, Primo PRMCD 2004)
In my last compilation albums blog, I referred to 2003’s infamous “Gold” release. Well, it seems as though somebody pretty soon realised the bloody big mistake that had been made on that one, and decided to take the two discs and repackage them more “correctly”.
2007’s “Anthology” is thus the very same album, but in a new sleeve with new title. Calling a compilation that runs from 1995 to 1998 only “Anthology” is a bit of a misnomer, unless the inclusion of a live “Down In The Sewer” (by Mark 2) is used to claim that this therefore “covers” a period from 1977 onwards. No it doesn’t.
Trouble is...the front cover looks nice, and features a quite impressive image of four shadowy Meninblack. And therein lies the problem. This is either a reference to the original Mark 1 lineup, or the by-now new Mark 4 line up, but this is a 5-man Mark 2 job from start to finish. Black crosses all round again then. My copy is sealed, so no idea what it looks like inside, perhaps Hugh is lurking in there once more.
Tracklisting: Waltzinblack (Live)/Valley Of The Birds (Live)/Strange Little Girl (Live)/Summer In The City/Lies And Deception (Live)/Here/Tonight/Miss You (“WIR” Version)/Always The Sun (Live)/Known Only Unto God/Wonderful Land/Let Me Down Easy (Live)/Joy De Viva/All Day And All Of The Night (Live)/God Is Good/No Reason/5 Minutes (Live)/No More Heroes (Live)/In Heaven She Walks/The Light/Blue Sky/Golden Brown (Live)/Down In The Sewer (Live)/Jump Over My Shadow/Coup De Grace
The Story So Far
(2xCD, EMI 397 2972)
Now, I don’t own this one, it seemed to get deleted quite quickly to make way for the - unreleased - “Forty Two Forty”, so I can only tell you what it says on the tin. Another Mark 2-less EMI release, this one is arguably even more bizarre than “The Very Best Of” given that it covers the EMI years only, and thus makes an even bigger jump by leaping from 1982 to 2004. At least Baz makes it onto the cover this time.
A sort of alternate history, album tracks appear in place of some of the big hits, with a couple of live tunes from “Live X Cert” thrown in for good measure. I guess, if you were one of those who “rediscovered” the band in the noughties, then this one might be for you, but a compilation claiming to be “The Story So Far” that is missing both “Still Life” and “Too Precious” (amongst countless others) is a bit of a head-scratcher, IMO. Nice to see “Bear Cage” here though.
Tracklisting: Peaches/Grip/London Lady/Ugly/Dagenham Dave (Live)/I Feel Like A Wog/Bring On The Nubiles/Bitching/No More Heroes/English Towns/Peasant In The Big Shitty/Tank/Sweden/Nice N Sleazy/Mean To Me/Walk On By/Shut Up/In The Shadows/Nuclear Device/The Raven/Don’t Bring Harry/Duchess/5 Minutes (Live)/Bear Cage/Just Like Nothing On Earth/Thrown Away/Waiting For The Meninblack/Non Stop/Strange Little Girl/Tramp/La Folie/Golden Brown/Big Thing Coming/Norfolk Coast/Unbroken/Spectre Of Love
The Best Of
(CD, Eagle STRUP 1)
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I should include this one, given that it’s more of a mini album, but it seems to be a newspaper freebie (Daily Star Sunday) release in conjunction with Eagle, so it sort of meets the criteria.
The band logo also appears, although it seems to be an “artists interpretation” of it, as it looks a bit squashed. And despite the title, this is nothing more really than seven Mark 1 hits performed by Mark 2, from the RAH once more.
Why only seven songs? Well, at the time, a lot of these newspaper freebies were surfacing where the second half of the disc was taken up by material by what seemed to be an unsigned act, I guess the idea was you would listen to it and if you liked what you heard, then you would try and find out more about them. But I never did.
Tracklisting: Golden Brown (Live)/Strange Little Girl (Live)/Skin Deep (Live)/Always The Sun (Live)/No More Heroes (Live)/Duchess (Live)/All Day And All Of The Night (Live)
(CD, Camden 88697 556802)
A real oddity this one. As the title suggests, this compilation features material from the ten year period leading up to Cornwell’s departure, from 1981 to 1990. But given that this means you have a compilation covering all of the Epic years, and part of the EMI ones, what exactly is the reason behind this insanity?
One argument is that it represents the more “pop” period of the band, away from all the gobbing and snarling that accompanied the earlier releases. But it still seems a bit random. The opening two songs do admittedly come close to what follows - “Golden Brown” famously was never released in the US when first issued as a single in the UK, but was then shoehorned onto the American copy of 1983’s “Feline”, whilst “Strange Little Girl” was of course the EMI swansong 45. But still, the link between these two and the remainder of the album - Epic era hits and album tracks - seems mightily tenuous.
It looks nice, and some of the songs are making it onto a compilation album for the first time in their career, but whether or not you need this in your life is another question. It was released on the RCA budget label Camden, so copies shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg if you are interested.
Tracklisting: Golden Brown/Strange Little Girl/European Female/All Roads Lead To Rome/Skin Deep/No Mercy/Spain/North Winds/Always The Sun (Edit)/Nice In Nice/Was It You (Unreleased 7” Mix)/All Day And All Of The Night/96 Tears/You’ll Always Reap What You Sow/Never Say Goodbye/Never To Look Back
The UA Singles 1977-1982
(3xCD, EMI 50999 968843 2 4)
Here’s the thing. If we ignore boxsets, those of the “four CD’s or more variety”, then there had not been one Stranglers comp by 2008 that had managed to get all the EMI era B-sides into one place. 1988’s “Rarities” had stuck a few of them together, and 1997’s “The Collection” had come close to achieving it, but not quite. And so it was that this 2009 release had the honour of finally putting all of the Mark 1 EMI b-sides into one collection.
What we have here, in essence, is a repressing over three discs, of the two early-noughties singles boxsets that EMI had issued. Those two boxes had included, quite unusually, album freebies and overseas singles alongside the usual standard UK 45’s, and this set takes everything found on those boxes, and crams them into a triple CD bundle.
As such, there is actually TOO MUCH here. “Walk On By” appears in both it’s jukebox edit and full length form, because - of course - it was released as both a freebie and a commercial 45. In order to account for this curio, one of the discs in the boxset opted to include the radio mix instead of using the album mix as per the other disc, to avoid repetition. And thus, both mixes appear here.
You also get the radio edit of “La Folie” for, I think, two reasons. In some countries, the single was pressed using the UK catalogue number, but played the shorter mix. UK copies also listed the timing for the edit on the label, but played the album version. So, both versions appeared in the original boxset, and so, both appear here. Also here are the two foreign language 45’s, and the entirety of the “Don’t Bring Harry” EP, meaning you get a Cornwell solo tune and a live Burnel one thrown in as well. Also in are the 7” and 12” mixes of both sides of the “Bear Cage” single. Bonus. If you are new to the band, I would suggest trying to find the original boxes, but they’re probably worth a fortune now, so this is the best place to start with the early years. It took even longer to release an album with all the Epic flipsides in one place (only this year, in fact), and we shall look at that release in a future blog.
Tracklisting: Grip/London Lady/Peasant In The Big Shitty (Live)/Choosey Susie/Peaches/Go Buddy Go/Something Better Change/Straighten Out/No More Heroes/In The Shadows/5 Minutes/Rok It To The Moon/Nice N Sleazy/Shut Up/Walk On By/Mean To Me/Tits/Walk On By (Edit)/Old Codger/Tank/Duchess/Fools Rush Out/Nuclear Device/Yellowcake UF6/Don’t Bring Harry/Wired/Crabs (Live)/In The Shadows (Live)/Bear Cage (7” Mix)/(12” Mix)/Shah Shah A Go Go (LP Mix)/(12” Mix)/Sverige/N’Emmenes Pas Harry/Who Wants The World/The Meninblack (Waiting For ‘Em)/Thrown Away/Top Secret/Just Like Nothing On Earth/Maninwhite/Let Me Introduce You To The Family/Vietnamerica/Golden Brown/Love 30/La Folie (LP Mix)/(Edit)/Waltzinblack/Strange Little Girl/Cruel Garden
Saturday, 21 June 2014
The June 2014 blogs feature a look at Biffy Clyro, Green Day, and part 6 of my 'novel within a website', "How I Learned To Hate Record Collecting". To look at any of these blogs, click the relevant link to your right.
"I heard you crying loud, all the way across town"
Thursday, 12 June 2014
I’ll be honest. Once a band hits “megastar” status, I tend not to go and see them play anymore. Cash plays a factor, but the fact that a band you might have seen in the early days are now headlining some enormodrome, well, it just doesn’t seem like much fun to me. Biffy Clyro are, in the UK at least, superstars nowadays, but thankfully, I saw them a few times in their formative years in far more intimate surroundings than the arenas they play now.
I first saw them at the Highbury Garage in 2001, supporting The Llama Farmers. Biffy had just signed to the same label as the headliners, which partly explained why they were supporting, and like many support bands, had to put up with the indignity of the crowd talking all the way through their set. I had never heard of them, but as I watched, I found that I enjoyed their quiet/loud approach, even though they were nearly impossible to hear during the quiet bits thanks to the crowd chatter. My immediate thoughts were that they seemed like a “Scottish Nirvana”.
Their first single for Beggars, “27”, appeared soon after. Although it was their first for the label, it was not their first release. They had already issued a couple of now-impossible-to-find CD singles during the previous few years, one off releases for various independent labels. The group had formed in the mid 90s and come to the attention of these label owners as they toured around the country whilst still at college. “27” failed to chart, but a buzz began to build around the band soon after, and subsequent singles started to dent the top 200, before the release of their debut LP “Blackened Sky” in 2002. The band returned to the Garage, this time as triumphant headliners, but they were still obviously a cult band - I recall that one of the band members at one point was put in charge of the merchandising stall, and if you bought a T-shirt, you could get a free postcard signed at the same time!
The band’s second LP, “The Vertigo Of Bliss”, was issued in 2003, where the artwork approach changed. The band had a new logo, and the album and it’s attendant singles all appeared in “erotic” picture sleeves. Now, here’s something not mentioned on the net. Around about the same time, the group agreed to appear as one of the supports for a Limp Bizkit freebie gig in Finsbury Park, on 6th September 2003. Once done and dusted, the band then hopped onto the North Circular to make their way to Harrow Lodge Park in Hornchurch, Essex. There was a local “Battle Of The Bands” event, and somehow, somebody had asked Biffy to appear as guest headliners - and incredibly they had agreed. At about 10pm that night, the band took to the stage in front of what must have been no more than 50 people, and put on the best show I have ever seen them play. Despite the relatively non existent crowd, they really seemed to enjoy it, at one point revealing their regret at doing the Limp Bizkit show, by announcing “better to be here than in London”. They even came back to play an unscheduled encore. Even now, I still can’t believe I saw them play that show, especially as the last single, “Questions And Answers”, had dented the top 30. What were a hit single producing band doing playing at a local park? Their next 45 didn’t do quite so well, “Eradicate The Doubt”, was done as a limited edition, including a bizarre CD+DVD doublepack, which surely couldn’t have been eligible for the charts, which might explain how it seemed to only just get into the top 100, seemingly on 7“ and download sales only.
2004’s “Infinity Land” spawned more top 30 hits though, although the album itself, like it’s predecessors, failed to hit the top 40. Again, the artwork design was different for this one, another new logo, and completely different art direction from what had come before. Each single appeared on 7”, CD and DVD, with unique material on each format. It would turn out to be the last Biffy release on Beggars, and upon switching to 14th Floor Records, part of the much bigger Warner Brothers group, the band would suddenly find that the big budgets of a major label was instrumental in turning them into proper rock stars. Beggars would respond to this by issuing a number of “cash in” releases thereafter, with a singles collection and expanded vinyl repressings of those first three LP’s.
Given that the objective of this site is to list the records, and not so much describe the sound of the music - after all, if you are reading this, I assume you know what Biffy sound like - this is just as well here because Biffy have generally followed the same post-grunge path during the years on a major, so I am not sure what I could really say about this part of their career. I don’t mean this as a bad thing, indeed, second major label 45 “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” is probably their greatest song ever, if I was a real hipster I wouldn’t admit to that would I? Although much has been made of how the move to Warners saw the band polish up and remove their more “prog” tendencies, I am not so sure - this particularly tune opens with a monumental rock/classical extended instrumental intro, truly left field stuff but utterly thrilling. Far from confusing the general public, it was the band’s second top 20 hit on the trot, and the accompanying LP, “Puzzle”, issued in June 2007, went to number 2 in the charts. It, and the various singles, came in some distinctive looking Storm Thorgerson artwork - as have all subsequent albums and singles. There are some really good songs on these later albums, 2009’s “Only Revolutions” having been previewed by the rock monster that was “Mountains”, an album that featured the glorious punk rock thrash of “That Golden Rule”, the lighters-aloft ballad “Many Of Horror” and the catchy as hell pop punk of “Bubbles“.
Aside from the technically import only “Opposites Live From Glasgow” and the DVD/CD “Revolutions Live At Wembley”, the last Biffy album was 2013’s double album “Opposites”. Unlike a lot of double albums that are short enough to fit onto a single CD, this is a proper double album, two CD’s each with their own title. Initial copies were actually issued as a triple disc release, as they came with a free “making of the album” DVD. Double disc editions of “Puzzle” and “Only Revolutions” also exist.
Simply because they are probably the easiest to find, and are not missing too much in the way of extra music, I have listed the standard CD editions for the band’s seven studio/compilation albums so far. The three expanded reissues of the Beggars albums, if you can find them, are of some interest though. They were pressed in 2012, although some seem to have been repressed again in later years, and are available in various different coloured vinyl editions. The reissue of “Bliss” is the hardest to find for some reason. Basically, the original album has been expanded to double LP length, with the addition of B-sides from the period, but radio session material, live recordings and DVD only B-sides are missing, so they won’t fill in all the gaps for the newbies amongst you.
Blackened Sky (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 226)
The Vertigo Of Bliss (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 233)
Infinity Land (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 238)
Puzzle (CD, 14th Floor 2564 699 7633)
Singles (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 2047)
Only Revolutions (CD, 14th Floor 5186 561452)
Opposites (2xCD, 14th Floor 2564 645 2477)
When first released, virtually all Biffy 45’s appeared with an element of interest - rarely did a Biffy single appear that was “missing” something that you could get on another format. And of the one such single that did exist in this state, the “missing” material dates from the Beggars years, and so is now on the relevant expanded LP. So, I have simply listed every Biffy single on every format, because most of them are still of interest, depending on what you already own or have an interest in owning, etc, etc. As ever, buying the expanded albums will tick some of the boxes, but not all, so try before you buy as I always say. For ease of use, I have listed, where relevant, some of the tracks that later got a second lease of life with the Beggars cash in releases, as the affected singles will now have lost a bit of their USP.
Iname/All The Way Down Chapter 2/Travis Perkins (CD, Babi Yaga YAGA 001 CD)
Thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow EP: 57/Hope For An Angel/Justboy/Less The Product (CD, Electric Honey EHRCD 013)
27/Instructio4/Breatheher (7“, Beggars Banquet BBQ 352)
27/Instructio4/Breatheher (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 352 CD)
Justboy/Being Gabriel/Unsubtle (7“, Beggars Banquet BBQ 355)
Justboy/Being Gabriel/Unsubtle (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 355 CD)
57/Kill The Old Torture Their Young (BBC Radio 1 Steve Lamacq Session 24.9.2001) (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 358)
57/Hope For An Angel (BBC Radio 1 Steve Lamacq Session 24.9.2001)/Time As An Imploding Unit/Waiting For Green (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 358 CD)
Toys Toys Toys Choke Toys Toys Toys (Edit)/Joy Discovery Invention/All The Way Down Chapter 2 (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 361, a-side available on “Singles“)
Joy Discovery Invention/Toys Toys Toys Choke Toys Toys Toys/The Houses Of Roofs (SBN Session Version) (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 361 CD)
The Ideal Height/And With The Scissorkick Is Victorious (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 365)
The Ideal Height/And With The Scissorkick Is Victorious/Do You Remember What You Came For? (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 365 CD, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)
Questions And Answers/Muckquaikerjawbreaker/Ewen’s True Mental You (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 368, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)
Questions And Answers (Edit)/Good Practice Makes Permanent/Let’s Get Smiling (CD1, Beggars Banquet BBQ 368 CD, unique p/s, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)
Questions And Answers/Muckquaikerjawbreaker/I Hope You’re Done/Questions And Answers (Video) (CD2, Beggars Banquet BBQ 368 CD2, unique p/s, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)
Eradicate The Doubt (Live)/The Ideal Height (Live)/Justboy (Live) (Numbered 7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 374)
Eradicate The Doubt/Convex Concave (Live)/57 (Live)/Now The Action Is On Fire! (Live)/Eradicate The Doubt (Video)/Justboy (Video) (CD+DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 374 CD/DVD)
Glitter And Trauma (Edit)/There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session 24.2.2004) (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 377)
Glitter And Trauma (Edit)/Bonanzoid Deathgrip/Stars And Shites (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 377 CD, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “Infinity Land“)
Glitter And Trauma (Video)/Go Your Own Way (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session 24.2.2004)/Untitled Movie (Video) (DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 377 DVD, white bordered p/s)
My Recovery Injection/Diary Of Always (Acoustic) (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 379)
My Recovery Injection (Edit)/It’s Always The Quiet Ones/Corfu (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 379 CD, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “Infinity Land“)
My Recovery Injection (Video)/Making Of My Recovery Injection (Video) (DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 379 DVD, white bordered p/s)
Only One Word Comes To Mind (Edit)/Tradition Feed (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 384, b-side also released as hidden track on album)
Only One Word Comes To Mind (Edit)/Drown In A Natural Light/Gently (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 384 CD, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “Infinity Land“)
Only One Word Comes To Mind (Video)/Breatheher (Video) (DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 384 DVD, white bordered p/s)
Saturday Superhouse/I’m Behind You (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR19V1)
Saturday Superhouse/Miracle Of Survival (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR19V2)
Saturday Superhouse/Scared Of Lots Of Everything (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR19CD)
Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Edit)/Loneliness (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR21V1)
Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Edit)/Kittens Cakes And Cuddles (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR21V2)
Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Edit)/Relief Or Fight (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR21CD)
Folding Stars/Coward (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR24V1)
Folding Stars/A Headline (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR24V2)
Folding Stars/Asexual Meat Kitchen (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR24CD)
Machines (Remix)/Classical Machines (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR27V1)
Machines (Remix)/(Demo) (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR27V2)
Machines (Remix)/Hermaphrofight (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR27CD)
Who’s Got A Match?/But I’m Serious (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR29V1)
Who’s Got A Match?/Cracker (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR29V2)
Who’s Got A Match?/Umbrella (BBC Radio 1 Version) (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR29CD)
Mountains/Paperfriend (7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR32V1)
Mountains/Robbery (2nd 7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR32V2)
Mountains/Little Soldiers (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR32CD)
That Golden Rule/Eyelids (7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR38)
That Golden Rule/Time Jazz (Orange Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR38X)
That Golden Rule/Prey Hey (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR38CD)
The Captain/Once An Empire (7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR40)
The Captain/Party On (Red Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR40X)
The Captain/Help Me Be Captain (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR40CD)
Many Of Horror/Lonely Revolutions (Blue Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR41)
Many Of Horror/Creative Burns (Red Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR41X)
Many Of Horror/Toottoottoot (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR41CD)
Bubbles/Hiya (Blue Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR43)
Bubbles/Street Love (Green Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR43X)
Bubbles/Sad Sad Songs (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR43CD)
God And Satan (Single Mix)/10 Bodies (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR44)
God And Satan (Single Mix)/51 Trumpets (White Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR44X)
God And Satan (Single Mix)/Hawkwind (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR44CD)
Black Chandelier/Milky (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR48)
Modern Magic Formula (Live)/City Of Dreadful Night (Splattered Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR50)
Opposite/Feverish (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR51)
Victory Over The Sun/Break A Butterfly On A Wheel (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR52)