Thursday, 16 December 2010


Listed below are the bands and singers featured for each month in 2010. The December 2010 blogs can be found due right, and include articles on Queen, Tin Machine, T Rex and Britney Spears (above).

The complete list for the year is shown below:
February 2010 - The Stranglers
March 2010 - Deep Purple
April 2010 - Madonna
May 2010 - The Who
June 2010 - The Smiths
July 2010 - Madonna / The Rolling Stones
August 2010 - Girls Aloud / Madonna / Lily Allen
September 2010 - Jimi Hendrix / Madonna / David Bowie / Scott Walker
October 2010 - The Rolling Stones / David Bowie / The Velvet Underground / Kenickie
November 2010 - Britney Spears / The Kinks / David Bowie
December 2010 - Queen / Tin Machine / T Rex / Britney Spears

To look at blogs from February to November, click on the relevant month, then for the blog you wish to look at, click on the relevant link that will then appear.

"You're Toxic, I'm Slipping Under"

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Queen - The 21st Century Singles Box Sets

Over the last couple of years, Queen have been quietly issuing a series of Singles Box Sets, which between them, include “every major hit the band have had worldwide”. Or something like that. The box sets cover the period from 1973 to 1999, the date at which the last “official” pre-Queen & Paul Rodgers single was released. Each box includes 13 singles, and everything was a hit somewhere in the world, with the exception of disc 1 of box 1,”Keep Yourself Alive”, included purely because, being the band’s debut single, it is of historical importance. Several foreign releases are included, but not all - I assume the ones not included were simply not big enough “hits” to merit inclusion.

Go onto Amazon, and you will see a barrage of abuse aimed at EMI and the band over these box sets. Why? What is wrong with them? What do they include, or not include? Well, in this blog, I shall attempt to look at each box from a fresh perspective, seeing where each box achieves something good, and where (and how bad) the faults are.

Singles Collection 1
EMI 50999 243358

Covering all of the singles from 1973’s “Queen” through to 1978’s “Jazz”, this set actually includes 12 singles and an EP, the brilliantly titled “Queen’s First EP”. Strangely, the band never got round to doing a second one. All of these singles were issued in the UK, but there is very little in the way of rarities. Queen were never that prolific at doing non-album B-sides, and there is only one “true” B-side on this set, “See What A Fool I’ve Been” which appears on the flip of “Seven Seas Of Rhye”.

The band did opt to include, at times, tracks which in their original album form, cross-faded or segued into (or from) another song, so had to be edited for inclusion on 45. Thus, the versions of “Flick On The Wrist”, “Lily Of The Valley”, “Tenement Funster” and “White Queen” differed from their UK editions. “Fat Bottomed Girls” was edited for release as an A-side, whilst “I’m In Love With My Car” featured a completely different intro and outro from that which appeared on the “A Night At The Opera” LP, fascinating to hear the first time you listen to it.

Freddie Mercury or Freddie Laker?

Is it any good? Well, in terms of sleeve designs, only three of the releases in the box that appeared in a picture sleeve when originally released appear here in the same sleeve. Most of these singles were released at a time when UK labels thought releasing a single in a sleeve was sheer folly, so most of the singles this time around come in fancy overseas sleeves, which - if you like that sort of thing - make the box a worthy purchase. “Bohemian Rhapsody” appears in it’s limited edition industry only 1978 picture sleeve, used on a special Purple Vinyl pressing, but given that original copies of that version sell for a small fortune, this is your best way (and possibly only chance) to own this sleeve. Some might bemoan the decision not to include the “buxom blonde” sleeve that was used for the Bicycle Race/Fat Bottomed Girls Double A side, but what you do get here instead is a slightly surreal Hungarian sleeve with a drawing of a girl, with a bicycle riding across her…erm…fat bottom. As regards the box set musically, somebody did rant on Amazon about the version of “Tenement Funster” being “the wrong version”, but I am not sure what that means, as it sounds alright to me.

UK Singles reissued in UK sleeve: Somebody To Love, Queen’s First EP, Don’t Stop Me Now
UK Singles reissued in “New” sleeve: Keep Yourself Alive, Seven Seas Of Rhye, Killer Queen, Now I’m Here, Bohemian Rhapsody, You’re My Best Friend, Tie Your Mother Down, We Are The Champions, Spread Your Wings, Bicycle Race

Singles Collection 2
EMI 50999 654972

With 13 singles in each box, this means that in some instances, the singles in each set might start or end mid-way through the promo campaign for a particular LP. This one, therefore, runs from 1979’s “Live Killers” to part-way through the releases from 1984’s “The Works”. “The Works” saw Queen using their band name as part of the prefix of the catalogue number - the final disc in this set, “I Want To Break Free”, was originally QUEEN2.

This was the first box to include a foreign A-side - “Calling All Girls” was only released as a single in the USA, whilst only one single appeared in a “new” sleeve; “Love Of My Life”, from the “Live Killers” album, was only ever issued in a die cut sleeve when first released, but appears here in a full colour picture sleeve originating from Japan. Again, B-sides are a bit thin on the ground, but “A Human Body”, “Soul Brother” and “I Go Crazy” make an appearance here, whilst the versions of “Flash”, “Radio Ga Ga” and “I Want To Break Free” are slightly different to their original LP mixes. “Back Chat” was also remixed for single release, and makes a rare appearance on CD here.

Brian May or Bryan McFadden?

Well, this is where the controversy starts. The album before “The Works”, 1982’s “Hot Space”, was when Queen ‘went disco’. The final single from that LP, the aforementioned “Back Chat”, was released on 12”, with extended remixes of both the A-side and the B-side, the latter being another track off the album called “Staying Power”. Thereafter, Queen would issue just about every one of their singles on 12”, often with extra tracks or extended mixes of the A-sides. But for some reason, the powers that be at EMI decided that these box sets should be based around the original 7” versions, primarily because that was the format upon which the band made their debut. But by doing this, it’s a wasted opportunity. The 12” editions of “Radio Ga Ga” and “I Want To Break Free” also included tracks not on the 7” versions - and hence, fail to also make this box set. The whole point of a box set is surely to make available long lost rarities - after all, the amount of extra tracks that have appeared on other EMI Singles Box Set by other bands were designed so that not ONE B-side or remix was missing (see the Blondie and Duran Duran boxes). OK, if you have never bought a Queen single in your life, this is a good way to get the first ten singles in this set, but it ultimately set the flawed precedent for the boxes that followed.

UK Singles reissued in UK sleeve: Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Save Me, Play The Game, Another One Bites The Dust, Flash, Under Pressure, Body Language, Las Palabras De Amor, Back Chat, Radio Ga Ga, I Want To Break Free
UK Singles reissued in “New” sleeve: Love Of My Life
Foreign Singles in Box: Calling All Girls

Note: “I Want To Break Free” was originally issued on four different 7” singles, with a different band member on the cover. All four images were printed on the front of the 12”, and that is the actual sleeve used here.

Singles Collection 3
EMI 50999 684839

The lunacy of basing a singles box set around 7” pressings, when (nearly) every single contained within was also pressed on 12” is none more noticeable than here. The third box covered the remaining singles from “The Works”, and ran through to releases from 1989’s “The Miracle”.

The set included edited mixes of several songs - “Hammer To Fall”, “One Vision”, “Who Wants To Live Forever” and “I Want It All”, whilst there were also a pair of overseas singles in the form of “One Year Of Love”, and “Pain Is So Close To Pleasure”, the latter being remixed for 45 release, and thus seems to be making it’s CD debut here. There were B-sides too, in the form of “Blurred Vision”, “A Dozen Red Roses For My Darling”, “Forever”, “Hang On In There”, “Stealin’”, “Hijack My Heart” and “My Life Has Been Saved”, whilst “Thank God It’s Christmas” was a stand alone 45.

If picture sleeves are your thing, then this set is an essential buy - “Hammer To Fall” appeared in it’s “live” sleeve, a shot of the band on stage. When first released, the single was withdrawn almost immediately and placed instead in a basic red sleeve with the band name and title on the front with no photo at all. Quite why the “live” sleeve was withdrawn, I don’t know, but almost immediately, both the 7” and 12” versions started to sell for a ton. So, as long as you pay no more than £99 for this box, then you should be quids in.

John Deacon or John Major?

It depends. If you are not too fussed about rare picture sleeves, then it’s not a great purchase. Of the 13 singles on here, no less than ten of them were issued on 12” singles which included at least one rarity each that fails to appear in the box - even “Pain Is So Close To Pleasure“ came as a 12“ with an exclusive extended mix. Most of the edited mixes noted above are easily available on the multitude of Greatest Hits albums knocking about, so don’t go buying it for that reason.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The extended play versions of “I Want It All” and “Who Wants To Love Forever” simply added extra tracks that are easily available on normal studio records, whilst only the 7” edition of “It’s A Hard Life” came in a picture sleeve (the US variant is included in this set) - the 12” came in a black die cut sleeve instead. But £40 can be a lot to pay for three “collectible” singles, so I would err on the side of caution - especially when it might be possible to get all these records on 12” for only a few quid a go in the right second-hand shops.

UK Singles reissued in UK sleeve: Hammer To Fall, Thank God It’s Christmas, One Vision, Friends Will Be Friends, Who Wants To Live Forever, I Want It All, Breakthru, The Invisble Man, Scandal
UK Singles reissued in “New” sleeve: It’s A Hard Life, A Kind Of Magic
Foreign Singles in Box: Pain Is So Close To Pleasure, One Year Of Love

Singles Collection 4
EMI 50999 092152

The fourth and final CD Singles box set. And whilst - yes - everything in here was issued on 7” (not always on black vinyl, or in picture sleeves, mind you), everything here was also issued on CD. So, we have a CD Singles Box Set with reissues of not CD’s, but 7” singles. Sort of.

The set covers the period from 1989’s “The Miracle” right through to 1999’s “Greatest Hits 3”, with a remixed version of “Under Pressure” being released to coincide. Only singles issued with the “QUEEN” catalogue prefix are included, so the “Wyclef Jean” remix of “Another One Bites The Dust” from 1998 is therefore missing - and if you’ve never heard it, be thankful for small mercies. Other remix singles from after 1999 are missing (another “Another One Bites The Dust”, and the Queen Vs Vanguard “Flash” single) as they didn’t actually appear on Queen’s then label.

What is really odd about this set is that there seems to be a bit of “creative freedom” going on. The reissue of “The Show Must Go On” uses one of the B-sides from the 12”, an interview called “Queen Talks” because there was no accompanying 7” - there was a 2 track cassette single which included “Keep Yourself Alive”, but the decision to use the rarity here over an old album track is a good move. It’s a similar story with 1995’s “A Winter’s Tale”, which was issued on three “extended play” formats, and the final track from two of them appears here because it was a “new” song, “Rock In Rio Blues”, as opposed to the second track from these formats, “Thank God It’s Christmas”.

“Too Much Love Will Kill You” appeared as a 3 track 7” on pink vinyl, but neither of those B-sides are used here (“We Will Rock You“ and “We Are The Champions“, both also on box set one), and instead a totally different album track from “Made In Heaven”, “I Was Born To Love You”, is included instead. “Let Me Live”, originally backed with album tracks or session recordings from the “Queen At The Beeb” LP, appears here with a seemingly random pick of two songs from the “Live At Wembley” LP! Again, a 7” exists, a picture disc, but includes “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Bicycle Race” instead.

“You Don’t Fool Me” appears here in it’s DUTCH edition - a different sleeve to the original UK single, with an edited mix of the track that was previously unreleased in the UK. “No One But You” appears with both it’s original B-sides, but the track was actually released as a AA side with “Tie Your Mother Down”, which is absent from this pressing. And finally, “Under Pressure”. The original 7”, pressed as a picture disc, came backed with “Bohemian Rhapsody”. But as this track appears in this box set as a single in it’s own right (released in 1991 after Freddie’s death), this edition comes with two different versions of the song that originally appeared on one of the two CD Singles that were also issued at the same time!

In addition to all this madness, there are other B-sides in the form of a live version of “Stone Cold Crazy”, taken from the “Rare Live” VHS and “All God’s People”, whilst the single mix of “Heaven For Everyone” included here was a minute shorter than the original LP mix. The aforementioned “No One But You” was the only post Freddie/pre Paul Rodgers Queen track to be recorded, and at the time, appeared on a compilation called “Queen Rocks”.

Roger Taylor or Roger Whittaker?

This is a strange one. Most of the singles in this set were issued after Freddie had passed away, meaning that Queen could not just pop into the studio to tape some new B-sides. So, many of the extra tracks that padded out the formats were simply lifted from already existing Queen LP’s. Of the 13 singles in this box, only four of them had rarities on the original CD editions - “Innuendo”, “I’m Going Slightly Mad”, “Headlong” and “You Don’t Fool Me”. The CD version of “Innuendo” included an alternate mix of the A-side, new B-sides appeared on the extended play versions of “Mad” and “Headlong”, whilst the “Fool Me” CD offered up remixes absent from this set. So, this box set isn’t quite as bad as it seems. The slightly random choice of B-sides compared to what appeared on the original singles is a bit baffling, but if you don’t own any of these singles, it’s actually worth a purchase.

UK Singles reissued in UK sleeve: The Miracle, Innuendo, I’m Going Slightly Mad, Headlong, The Show Must Go On, Bohemian Rhapsody, Heaven For Everyone, A Winter’s Tale, Too Much Love Will Kill You, Let Me Live, No One But You, Under Pressue
UK Singles reissued in “New” sleeve: You Don’t Fool Me


Listed below are the essential, “missing”, singles from these box sets. I have not listed the remix singles that were excluded from these box sets, but have only listed 12” or CD Singles where rare mixes or B-sides that were included on the originals are absent from all of the box sets. If a single was issued on 12” and CD, the CD edition is listed.

Any single that appeared in a different sleeve, but with no rare material, is excluded, as a box set would not be able to cover such an item - coloured vinyl and picture disc pressings are also ignored, as all such releases have material otherwise available on black vinyl or compact disc pressings.


Back Chat (12” Mix)/Staying Power (12” Mix) (12”, EMI 12 EMI 5326)
Radio Ga Ga (Extended Mix)/(Instrumental)/I Go Crazy (12”, EMI 12 QUEEN 1)
I Want To Break Free (Extended Mix)/Machines (12”, EMI 12 QUEEN 2)
It’s A Hard Life/Is This The World We Created/It’s A Hard Life (Extended Mix) (12”, EMI 12 QUEEN 3)
Hammer To Fall (Headbangers Mix)/Tear It Up (12”, EMI 12 QUEEN 4)
Thank God It’s Christmas/Man On The Prowl (Extended)/Keep Passing The Open Windows (Extended) (12”, EMI 12 QUEEN 5)
One Vision (Extended Version)/Blurred Vision (12”, EMI 12 QUEEN 6)
A Kind Of Magic (Extended Version)/A Dozen Red Roses For My Darling (12”, EMI 12 QUEEN 7)
Friends Will Be Friends (Extended Version)/(7” Version)/Seven Seas Of Rhye (12”, EMI 12 QUEEN 8)
Breakthru (12” Version)/Stealin’/Breakthru (Single Version) (CD, EMI CDQUEEN 11)
The Invisble Man (12” Version)/Hijack My Heart/The Invisble Man (Single Version) (CD, EMI CDQUEEN 12)
Scandal (12” Version)/My Life Has Been Saved/Scandal (7” Version) (CD, EMI CDQUEEN 14)
Innuendo (Explosive Version)/Under Pressure/Bijou (CD, EMI CDQUEEN 16)
I’m Going Slightly Mad/The Hitman/Lost Opportunity (CD, EMI CDQUEEN 17)
Headlong/All God’s People/Mad The Swine (CD, EMI CDQUEEN 18)
You Don’t Fool Me (Album Version)/(Dancing Divaz Club Mix)/(Sexy Club Mix)/(Late Mix) (CD, EMI CDQUEEN 25)

The original “RAH” mix edition of “Under Pressure” had an enhanced CD-Rom section, which is absent from the version in “Singles Collection 4”. A Peel Session version of “We Will Rock You” was also issued as a freebie via “The Sun” newspaper a few years ago, and unsurprisingly, is also absent from the box sets.

In the US, the extended mixes "missing" from the box sets appear as bonuses on selected studio albums on CD. These are "Radio Ga Ga" and "I Want To Break Free" (The Works), "One Vision" (A Kind Of Magic) and "The Invisible Man" and "Scandal" (The Miracle).

In a future blog, I hope to look at Queen’s albums in greater depth - and explain why, for some reason, the US editions of virtually all of the others not mentioned here have more tracks than their UK counterparts. A bit strange, for a British band…

Further reading:
Queen Singles:
Queen Singles Discography:

Friday, 10 December 2010

Tin Machine

The truth is this - if you have bought just one David Bowie album (or even just a single) recorded after 1990, then you have Tin Machine to thank for that. Despite the fact that the world and his wife seem to regard Tin Machine with a level of disdain that saw the likes of Q deem them the worst band in the world during their original existence (yes, they were deemed more evil than Nazi bands like Skrewdriver, it seems), Tin Machine were an important cog in the David Bowie machine, so to speak. Before Tin Machine, Bowie was drifting aimlessly towards the mainstream - after Tin Machine, he released the astonishing “Black Tie White Noise” and never looked back thereafter.

To understand the formation of the band in the first place, you have to rewind to the 1987 “Glass Spider” solo tour - Bowie’s attempt to regain lost ground, but which pretty soon on, turned into a stadium tour which was close to being both overblown and bloated, yet equally weak-willed and not particularly ground breaking. Midway through the tour, Bowie was introduced to Reeves Gabrels, a guitarist who was married to somebody working behind the scenes on the tour, if I remember correctly. Bowie, somehow, sensed that Gabrels and he were kindred spirits, and sought advice from Gabrels as to what he thought of the last album, and the tour. Gabrels was honest enough to admit that he didn’t think Bowie was operating at the peak of his powers, which came as music to Bowie’s ears - amidst the universal acclaim from the record buying public (but not the critics), here was somebody who knew that, no matter how many records Bowie was selling, it couldn’t hide the flaws on “Never Let Me Down”.

Once the tour was over, Bowie and Gabrels went off to try and work on ideas that would take Bowie away from the mainstream sound he had stumbled into post-“Let’s Dance”. At first, the plans were to simply make a new Bowie solo record, albeit with Gabrels as a vital right hand man, and a re-recorded “rock” version of “Look Back In Anger” was committed to tape in 1988. But Bowie wanted to completely move away from his past. He was concerned that ’David Bowie - Solo Artist’ had become a weight around his neck - he later claimed he felt he had no choice but to include some of “the hits” on the “Glass Spider” tour, despite the fact that he was bored with playing them. So, if he were to simply form a new band, of which he would just be one of the band members, the anonymity would be used to help him break away from his mainstream sound.

And so, two musicians that Bowie had worked with before, Hunt Sales and Tony Sales, were invited into the fold. They, along with Bowie, had formed part of Iggy Pop’s backing band when he toured in 1977 (Bowie played keyboards, and did backing vocals), and a new unnamed four piece were born. Taking their cues from alternative US rock acts like Pixies and Sonic Youth, the songs that the band were writing were far more noisy, aggressive, and vicious than anything Bowie had done for years. The band name was taken from a song that was due to be included on the album (and indeed, did make the final cut), and their debut LP, also titled “Tin Machine”, was issued in May 1989.

The album was issued on EMI America - the label to which Bowie had signed in 1983, and it seems the album existed as part of the solo deal he signed, despite the fact that this album from what was now a “group” project. People’s opinion on the record was divided - whilst many saw the left-field move away from “Never Let Me Down” as a thrilling departure, others were not so sure. Some saw it as a backwards step - Bowie doing an album full of loud guitars, wasn’t this just a modern day “Ziggy” all over again, only with not as good songs? Nonetheless, the album charted quite highly, although long term sales were poor - something to be expected of a record that deliberately attempted to alienate the floating fans who had jumped on the “Let’s Dance” bandwagon.

The decision to stop being a solo artist was extended to the accompanying live shows - by being part of Tin Machine, as opposed to “David Bowie”, Bowie saw this as a perfectly acceptable excuse to play NONE of those old hits, and the band played a huge chunk of the album on stage, interspersed with selected covers to help pad out the set. Furthermore, as this was “Tin Machine” and not Bowie, the gig venues were much smaller than the stadiums Bowie had been playing recently - this was, in effect, a new band after all, and there was a feeling that club venues, not stadiums or arenas, were the sort of venues that the band should be playing. Of course, the Bowie factor meant that these shows sold out very quickly.

The album was issued on LP, Cassette and CD. The LP featured less tracks, with the songs “Run” and “Sacrifice Yourself” being omitted due to space constraints. Each format featured a different photo of the band on the cover, with each band member standing in a different place for each of the three pictures. In the run up to the album’s release, word was out that there was a “new David Bowie album” on the way, and despite the attempts at anonymity, Tin Machine never quite revealed themselves to be a proper band in the way Bowie had envisaged.

After the album had been released, “Under The God” was issued as a single, using a similar cover to that used for the album. “Sacrifice Yourself” appeared on the B-side, with an interview as a bonus track on the “extended play” formats, but the single stalled outside the top 40 - as would all the following singles from the LP. “Tin Machine”, the song, was then issued as the follow up single, as a AA-side with a live recording of “Maggie’s Farm”. Other live tracks appeared as bonuses on the 12” and CD versions, but only the live version of “Bus Stop”, issued on the CD only, has since resurfaced on a reissue, arguably making “Maggie’s Farm” one of the more obscure Bowie related A-sides. More live tracks from the same show, from Paris on June 25th 1989, appeared as B-sides on the CD issue of single three, “Prisoner Of Love”.

The following year, Bowie briefly returned to his day job, indulging in the “Sound And Vision” tour, where he played a greatest hits set - reportedly for the last time. But in 1991, Tin Machine were back in the studio, and made their return in August that year. Their return was met with disbelief by some (the aforementioned Q magazine) but joy by others - the band played a live mini-gig on Radio 1 for the Evening Session, hosted by Mark Goodier, a life long Bowie fan. This, famously, marked the first time Bowie had played any sort of BBC session since 1972.

The band were now signed to London Records, Bowie having apparently been kicked off EMI due to his refusal to record a “Let’s Dance 2”. The first single was “You Belong In Rock And Roll”, issued on a variety of formats, but it was the two CD editions that were of most interest. The “normal” one included a track that would only appear as a brief reprise on the forthcoming album, “Hammerhead”, whilst the second one came in an oversized circular tin, complete with a fold out photo-insert, and included a live version of “Shakin’ All Over”. “Tin Machine II” was released soon after, again with a mix of good and bad reviews, and found itself the subject of much controversy in the US, where the label refused to use the photo of the four nude male statues on the cover as per the UK, and an airbrushed “censored” version was used instead. The album was a bit more “mellow” than it’s predecessor, and although some claim the album included some of Bowie’s weakest ever material, there did seem to be a greater acceptance of the band second time around, helped in part by a slightly more accessible sound.

“Baby Universal” was issued as the follow up single - although the single was issued on three formats including a 7”, it was only the two “extended play” formats that contained exclusive material. The CD, again housed in a tin, but this time of a thinner variety, included an extended mix along with three of the five tracks taped for the Evening Session as B-sides, whilst the 12”, housed in a “normal” sleeve, included the two remaining BBC tracks, and came with a free art print of the censored US LP cover. The band, having dented the top 40 for the first time with “You Belong In Rock And Roll”, were thus invited onto Top Of The Pops to play the new single (the show had, by now, started to invite on acts it assumed would hit the top 40 with their next single), and as a result, it promptly got no higher than number 48!

The following year, the band issued a live album “Oy Vey Baby”, a play on words of the U2 LP “Achtung Baby”. Despite Bowie’s continued insistence that Tin Machine was a band, the record was issued with a sticker proclaiming “David Bowie At His Explosive Best”, an obvious attempt to try and sell the record to anybody still unaware about his involvement in the group. An accompanying VHS was also issued, reflecting the typical band set list at the time (the CD only had 8 songs), and included more covers previously unreleased by the band, including Neil Young’s “I’ve Been Waiting For You”, which Bowie would eventually tape, in studio form, on 2002’s “Heathen”.

Apart from a few random outtakes surfacing on a handful of Various Artists compilations over the next few years, Bowie decided to return to being a solo act, having obviously been energised enough by Tin Machine to get back into making vibrant and exciting music again as a solo artist. His 1992 comeback single, “Real Cool World”, was a massive leap forward from the “Never Let Me Down” album, and although the group promptly disintegrated, Gabrels would continue to act as Bowie’s right hand man throughout much of the rest of the decade - his contributions to the next Bowie solo LP “Black Tie White Noise” were minimal, but he was part of Bowie’s touring band from 1995 to 1999. Tentative plans for a “Tin Machine III”, according to Wikipedia, were shelved permanently.

Tin Machine material has briefly featured as part of Bowie’s solo career - “Baby Universal” was played during shows in 1996, whilst a re-recorded version of the “Tin Machine” track, “I Can’t Read”, surfaced as a German 45 in 1997. In 1995, Virgin reissued all four “Bowie” albums from the EMI America era with extra tracks, and the live version of “Bus Stop” from the “Maggie’s Farm” CD Single appeared as a bonus track on a reissued "Tin Machine". In 1999, EMI controversially reissued the album with this track missing, and with the album credited as a Bowie solo record. Quite what Bowie or the band thought of this, I have no idea. This edition, to this day, remains the version still on catalogue.

The London Records releases have all been deleted - and not reissued. As such, don’t be surprised to see CD copies of “Tin Machine II” doing the rounds for £20+ on the collectors market, which following the recent re-release of the 1967 “David Bowie” album, makes this now the most obscure of all of Bowie’s studio albums. This is a shame, as “Goodbye Mr Ed”, the song that “officially” closes the album, remains one of the high points of his career.

I have listed below all of the important Tin Machine releases in the UK. Anything not listed, but which does exist, will contain nothing exclusive, and also features less songs than other formats for the same release.


Tin Machine (1989, EMI America MTLS 1044, LP in “Bowie 2nd from right” p/s)
Tin Machine (1989, EMI America TCMTLS 1044, Cassette in “Bowie on right” p/s, extra tracks to vinyl edition)
Tin Machine (1989, EMI America CDP 7 91990 2, CD in “Bowie on left” p/s, extra tracks to vinyl edition)
Tin Machine (1995 reissue, Virgin CDVUS 99, CD with extra tracks from original CD/Cassette release, and “Bus Stop (Live)”)
Tin Machine (1999 reissue, EMI 7243 521 9100, CD with extra tracks from original CD/Cassette release, credited to “David Bowie”)
Tin Machine II (1991, London 828 272 2, CD)
Oy Vey Baby (1992, London 828 328 2, CD)


Under The God/Sacrifice Yourself (1989, EMI America MT 68, 7”, also available on Cassette)
Under The God/Sacrifice Yourself/The Interview (1989, EMI America CDMT 68, CD Single, “The Interview” I believe contains no music, also on 10” or 12”)
Tin Machine/Maggie’s Farm (Live)/I Can’t Read (Live) (1989, EMI America 12 MTP 73, 12” in fold out poster bag)
Tin Machine/Maggie’s Farm (Live)/I Can’t Read (Live)/Bus Stop (Live) (1989, EMI America CDMT 73, CD Single)
Prisoner Of Love (Edit)/Baby Can Dance (Live)/Crack City (Live)/Prisoner Of Love (1989, EMI America CDMT 76, CD Single)
You Belong In Rock And Roll (Edit)/Amlapura (Indonesian Version)/Stateside/Hammerhead (1991, London LONCD 305, CD Single 1)
You Belong In Rock And Roll (Extended Mix)/(LP Version)/Amlapura (Indonesian Version)/Shakin’ All Over (Live) (1991, London LOCDT 305, CD Single 2 in circular tin with fold out insert)
Baby Universal (7” Version)/Stateside (BBC Version)/If There Is Something (BBC Version)/Heaven’s In Here (BBC Version) (1991, London LOCDT 310, CD Single in circular tin, “Heaven’s In Here” edited down from original broadcast version)
Baby Universal (Extended)/A Big Hurt (BBC Version)/Baby Universal (BBC Version) (1991, London LONX 310, 12” with free art print)

Next month, we shall look at the start of Bowie’s startlingly brilliant post-Tin Machine years, on an album by album basis.

Further reading:
Fan site with illustrations of worldwide releases:

Sunday, 5 December 2010

T Rex

Like Jimi Hendrix, I can’t begin to tell you how many T Rex albums have been released since Marc Bolan’s death. There seems to be an endless supply of greatest hits sets, and there are numerous compilations cobbling together radio sessions, alternate takes, etc, etc. But the albums and singles released before Marc’s death provide a fairly simple - but lengthy - discography. Furthermore, virtually all of them are available on CD, meaning it’s possible to get hold of a sizeable chunk of T Rex records with a few well timed purchases. Here then, is the beginners guide to the wonderful world of T Rex.

The Early Albums

Before T Rex became T Rex, they were a hippy-ish acoustic duo called Tyrannosaurus Rex, consisting of Bolan on vocals and guitar, and Steve Took on bongos. They signed to Regal Zonophone and released three albums during 1968/69. Whilst working on the fourth album, “A Beard Of Stars”, Bolan and Took began to fall out, and Took was forced out of the band, to be replaced by Mickey Finn. The band's sound remained fairly unchanged, although Finn was not as natural a percussionist as Took.

The point at which T Rex “went electric” is generally considered to be the point at which they shortened their name - the time that they released their fifth album, also titled “T Rex” - although, like Dylan, earlier recordings were certainly “electric“, such as the 1969 single “King Of The Rumbling Spires”. The band were now signed to Fly Records, and a stand alone 45 issued at the same time, “Ride A White Swan”, signalled the real beginning of the band in terms of commercial success. The early albums had all sold quite well, helped along by the backing of Radio 1 DJ John Peel, but some of the singles fared less well - this would change quite significantly during the early part of the 70s.

In 2004, all five of these LP’s were reissued by A&M on CD. Each record came housed in a slipcase using a different photo to the original album cover, although the CD booklet did still use the original LP cover inside. Each CD came bolstered with numerous bonus tracks, with each album being pretty much doubled in length. The extra tracks were a mix of A-sides, B-sides, and outtakes and demos, and are the essential versions of those early records.

Electric Warrior

In 1971, T Rex “officially” expanded from a duo to a full band, and released a second album on Fly, “Electric Warrior”. If the “T Rex” album was the sound of a band gently edging towards the world of electric guitars, then “Electric Warrior” was the point at which they jumped straight in. This record, along with it’s follow up, “The Slider”, were two of the most important albums in the whole Glam Rock genre, and along with Bowie and Roxy Music records from the same era, helped to define it's sound.

The album contained two of the band’s most iconic singles, “Get It On” and “Jeepster”, and as impressive as those early albums were, this one was a monumental leap forward in terms of songwriting and sheer amplification. The band’s success didn’t please everyone - Peel, it seems, went off the band as their music got louder and their record sales increased. Bolan all of a sudden found himself the new pop star on the block - the album was a huge success, with “Get It On” even making waves in the US - Blondie took to covering it during their 1978 shows. Morrissey later covered the album’s highlight, “Cosmic Dancer”, on stage as well.

In 2001, thirty years after it was first released, “Electric Warrior” was reissued in expanded form on CD by A&M. This edition added eight “work in progress” tracks, and came housed in a slipcase, although unlike the A&M reissues of the early albums, the photo on the slipcase was the same as the regular LP. Unlike the reissues of the earlier LP's, the B-sides the band taped during this period were absent from the reissue.

“The Slider” through to “Dandy In The Underworld”

In 1972, T Rex signed to EMI, and began to release records on their own T Rex Wax Company label. These releases used quite possibly the most iconic label design in Rock And Roll history, a (usually) red image of Marc printed on a blue background, Marc bottom right.

The momentum started with “Electric Warrior” continued with the release of “The Slider” in 72, with “Metal Guru” and “Telegram Sam” becoming the soundtrack to a new generation of music loving teenagers. Over the next couple of years, T Rex were everywhere, but a critical slagging of 1973’s “Tanx” by some dissenters, was - in a roundabout way - the beginning of the end. A stand alone single later that year, “20th Century Boy”, remains one of the band’s most famous 45’s, but the records that followed failed to sell in huge numbers, whilst critics were undecided about the albums and singles alike.

1974’s “Zinc Alloy And The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow” was - strangely - credited to “Marc Bolan And T Rex”, not the last T Rex record to be so released. Future studio albums reverted to the T Rex moniker, as the band began to experiment with soul music. In 1977, the band released what would be their swansong - “Dandy In The Underworld”. It’s release coincided with the emergence of punk, and T Rex found themselves being cited as an influence by several punk acts. Although it wasn’t quite a punk record, “Dandy” was seen as a return to form, and the band even landed their own TV show - or at least Marc did, as it was simply called “Marc”. The band’s new found “punk” connections saw the likes of The Jam appear, plugging their latest wares, on what was essentially a Childrens TV show. The band also headed out on tour with The Damned in support, but it was all over too soon - Bolan dying in a car crash on 16th September 1977, a month after Elvis Presley had passed away.

The six albums released on an annual basis between 72 and 77 have been reissued numerous times over the years, and in the mid 1990s, it was the turn of the Edsel label to issue them all on CD. Soon after, companion albums for each of the six releases were issued by the same label, featuring “alternate” versions of each of the albums. Each album was presented, pretty much from start to finish, in demo and alternate take form, using the same artwork - but with “visual” alterations - as the original release, and with titles like “Rabbit Fighter - The Alternate Slider”. In 2002, Edsel reissued the six studio albums as double disc CD packs in digipack sleeves - stray A sides and B sides from the period were put at the end of disc 1, whilst the “alternate” album was included on disc 2. These remain the most interesting of all the reissues, although all of the albums have since been reissued - without some or all of the bonus tracks - on at least one more occasion on a different label, Code 90 Records.

There are several other releases of note from this period. In 2002 and 2003, Thunderwing released another pair of “alternate albums”, which consisted of further outtakes of “The Slider” and “Tanx”. These CD’s appeared as “The Slider Recordings” and “The Tanx Recordings”, released as mail order only. “The Slider Recordings” was credited to “Marc Bolan And T Rex”, and came with a free T-shirt featuring the album cover image.

Also of interest, is last October’s “Classics” 5-CD box set, including bonus track-less reissues of all of the albums from “Tanx” through to “Dandy”. The lack of bonus tracks is not a disaster, as all of those recordings are available on other singles or the aforementioned Edsel “Alternate” album releases, and given that this box was retailing in some places for under a tenner, is a perfect introduction to the less celebrated part of the band’s career.

The Early Singles

Although the pre-T Rex 45’s are not all entirely unknown songs, the band didn’t manage to do so well with their singles as they did with their albums in those early days. The band released five singles on Regal, all of which featured either an A-side or a B-side that was not on the band’s last/forthcoming LP. Quite unusually for UK releases at the time, was that most of the singles also came housed in picture sleeves.

“Debora”, one of only two of the 45’s that hit the top 40, was later included - in a new form - on their second LP, “Prophets, Seers & Sages” - titled “Deboraarobed”, it was a strange beast. Halfway through, the song suddenly went backwards…hence the new title. The follow up single, “One Inch Rock”, would later be re-recorded in a more “electric” style on the “T Rex” LP. The original a-side versions of these two 45’s now appear as bonus tracks on the 2004 reissues of the first and second LP’s, respectively.

The next singles, “Pewter Suitor” and the aforementioned “King Of The Rumbling Spires” were both stand alone 45’s, both now on the expanded edition of the band’s third LP, “Unicorn”. The b-side of the latter, “Do You Remember”, also appears on the same set. Single number 5, “By The Light Of A Magical Moon” (also known as “…The Magical Moon” is some circles), was lifted from the “Beard Of Stars” LP. It’s B-side, “Find A Little Wood” is - to me - a bit of a strange one. From what I can gather, it started life whilst Took was still in the band, but was abandoned once Finn joined, and I think that the “Take 1” mix of the track that appears on the expanded “Beard Of Stars” is the same mix that appeared on the 45. If anybody can shed further light about this single, please get in touch.

The Fly 45's

The four singles released on Fly during 1970 and 1971 remain four of the most famous T Rex songs of all time. The first of these, “Ride A White Swan”, came backed with “Is It Love” from the “T Rex” LP plus a previously unissued cover of “Summertime Blues”. It’s follow up, another non-album 45 called “Hot Love”, included two other new songs on the flip, “King Of The Mountain Cometh” and “Woodland Rock”. Whilst both “Ride A White Swan” and “Summertime Blues” are now on the expanded “T Rex” CD, the “Hot Love” b-sides seem to be absent from any current T-Rex CD. An alternate take of “Mountain Cometh” is on a 2002 4-CD box set, “20th Century Superstar”.

“Get It On”, the next single, came backed with “There Was A Time/Raw Ramp”, both of which are also on this box, whilst “Jeepster” was released as the final single by the band on Fly. In 2007, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Bolan’s death, the first three of these four singles were reissued on 7”. Where a single was previously issued in a picture sleeve, it came in the same sleeve - the exception was “Hot Love” which instead used a previously foreign sleeve.

Each release came as a numbered edition, but for some reason, there was no re-release for “Jeepster”. This could be that the B-side, “Life’s A Gas”, was also from “Electric Warrior”, meaning that of the four singles, this one was the least interesting as it offered no (originally) exclusive material, whilst the one picture sleeve version of the original single that I have seen also used the same cover as the “Electric Warrior” album. A reissue would probably have been deemed to have been pointless for these reasons. However, given that all of the band's following 45's were later reissued on CD (at least, those singles released during Marc's lifetime), it means it's the only T Rex single from the late 1970-early 1978 period that has been unavailable since it's original release.

The T Rex Wax Singles

As briefly touched on earlier, T Rex then formed their own “T Rex Wax Co” label. The majority of singles that the band released on this label were housed in custom designed T Rex company sleeves, iconic pieces of art, although the band’s last handful of singles came housed in normal picture sleeves. After the release of the “Telegram Sam” 45, with it’s T REX 101 catalogue, the remaining singles had a “MARC” catalogue prefix, and 18 singles were issued on the label - running from MARC 1 to MARC 19. Nineteen? Yes, as MARC 12, a planned Christmas single called “Christmas Bop” was cancelled, getting no further than the label printing stage.

The band recorded a sizeable chunk of stand alone A sides and B sides whilst on the label. Each of these tracks are available as bonus tracks on the relevant “expanded” Edsel CD reissues from 2002 - for the record, the stand alone A-sides were “Children Of The Revolution”, “Solid Gold Easy Action”, “20th Century Boy”, “The Groover”, “Truck On (Tyke)”, “London Boys” and “Celebrate Summer” - the last being T Rex’s final single. “Dandy In The Underworld” was also issued as a single in alternate form.

In 2002, a pair of CD Singles Box Sets were issued, featuring reissues of all nineteen of the T Rex Wax singles, along with a special pressing of “Christmas Bop”. Each box included a bonus single - box 1 included a single called “Blackjack”, originally issued back in the 70s by a group called Big Carrot, which was actually a T Rex record in all but name. Box 2 included a solo single by Marc and his then beau Gloria Jones (yes, the Gloria Jones who originally did “Tainted Love”) called “To Know Him Is To Love Him”. As this was not a T Rex 45, it originally appeared on the standard EMI label when issued in 1976, but both the A and B sides of this single now also appear as bonus tracks on the expanded “Dandy In The Underworld”. It’s also worth pointing out that the Bell label were responsible for releasing a 45 by Dib Cochran back in 1970, although how much involvement this has by T Rex, or indeed even Bolan himself, I am not too sure about. Jones also provided vocals on one of the B-sides of the "Dreamy Lady" 45, "Dock Of The Bay", the only T Rex record to feature lead vocals by somebody other than Marc.


Listed below are the most important T Rex releases. For the albums, I have listed details of the expanded editions released by A&M and Edsel between 2001 and 2004. For the singles, I have listed the original 7” pressings.

It is worth pointing out that this is only the tip of the iceberg. I have in my collection a picture sleeve copy of “Telegram Sam”, reissued using it’s original catalogue number some point after Marc’s death, whilst many T Rex discographies will list another album called “Light Of Love” - a US only T Rex album, which ultimately ended up featuring songs that were either already released, or would later be released, on UK T Rex albums. Some singles were re-released by former labels whilst Marc was still alive, with new catalogue numbers, B-sides, etc, but I have not listed these for clarity.

There are other posthumous reissues of some singles, with the B-sides changed around - “Metal Guru” was released on the Marc On Wax label during the 80s with a MARC 502 catalogue number, and with “Bolan’s Zip Gun” replacing “Lady”, and was also housed in a picture sleeve. “Bolan’s Zip Gun” was not on the LP of the same name, but was one of a mountain of tracks released after Marc’s death across a seemingly never ending procession of “rarities” albums. The amount of posthumous T Rex releases are far too numerous to mention here, although I would like to try and detail some (such as the various Greatest Hits collections doing the rounds) in a future blog.


My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair…But Now They’re Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows (A&M 982 250-9)
Prophets Seers And Sages The Angels Of The Ages (A&M 982 251-0)
Unicorn (A&M 982 251-1)
A Beard Of Stars (A&M 982 251-2)
T Rex (A&M 982 251-3)
Electric Warrior (A&M 493 113-2)
The Slider (Edsel MEDCD 715)
Tanx (Edsel MEDCD716)
Zinc Alloy And The Hidden Riders Of Tomorrow (Edsel MEDCD 717)
Bolan’s Zip Gun (Edsel MEDCD 718)
Futuristic Dragon (Edsel MEDCD 719)
Dandy In The Underworld (Edsel MEDCD 720)


Debora/Child Star (Regal Zonophone RZ 3008, initial copies in p/s)
One Inch Rock/Salamanda Palaganda (Regal Zonophone RZ 3011, initial copies in p/s)
Pewter Suitor/Warlord Of The Royal Crocodiles (Regal Zonophone RZ 3016)
King Of The Rumbling Spires/Do You Remember (Regal Zonophone RZ 3022, initial copies in p/s)
By The Light Of The Magical Moon/Find A Little Wood (Regal Zonophone RZ 3025)
Ride A White Swan/Is It Love/Summertime Blues (Fly BUG 1, p/s)
Hot Love/Woodland Rock/King Of The Mountain Cometh (Fly BUG 6)
Get It On/There Was A Time/Raw Ramp (Fly BUG 10, p/s)
Jeepster/Life’s A Gas (Fly BUG 16)
Telegram Sam/Cadilac/Baby Strange (T.Rex Wax Co T.REX 101)
Metal Guru/Thunderwing/Lady (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 1)
Children Of The Revolution/Jitterbug Love/Sunken Rags (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 2)
Solid Gold Easy Action/Born To Boogie (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 3)
20th Century Boy/Free Angel (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 4)
The Groover/Midnight (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 5)
Truck On (Tyke)/Sitting Here (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 6)
Teenage Dream/Satisfaction Pony (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 7)
Light Of Love/Explosive Mouth (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 8)
Zip Gun Boogie/Space Boss (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 9)
New York City/Chrome Sitar (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 10)
Dreamy Lady/Do You Wanna Dance/Dock Of The Bay (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 11)
London Boys/Solid Baby (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 13)
I Love To Boogie/Baby Boomerang (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 14)
Laser Love/Life’s An Elevator (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 15)
The Soul Of My Suit/All Alone (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 16)
Dandy In The Underworld (Single Version)/Groove A Little/Tame My Tiger (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 17, p/s)
Celebrate Summer/Ride My Wheels (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 18, p/s)
Crimson Moon/Jason B.Sad (T.Rex Wax Co MARC 19, Double A side, p/s)

Note: Between MARC 3 and MARC 4, the band issued a special Christmas flexi disc. It included a very short song known as “Xmas Riff”, which appears on the expanded edition of “Tanx”.

Further reading:
The Groover Fan Site:
Expanded Discgoraphy listing at "Progrography":

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Britney Spears - Part 2

Last month, we looked at Britney’s UK singles, and selected collectable albums from around the world. This month, we look at the format that you would have thought would have suited her down to the ground - VHS and DVD.

For some reason, unlike Girls Aloud, Britney’s “Video” releases are a bit hit and miss. Whilst the UK Pop Starlets have released all of their video clips across a series of DVD releases, and have issued live concert DVDs for all but one of their tours, Britney hasn’t quite managed all of this. Could it be that Britney is rumoured to rely a bit too much on backing tapes on stage, meaning a live DVD isn’t very live? Maybe. But at least two DVD’s have been released from concert performances, so maybe not. In this blog, we look at Britney on DVD - and see what was released and when.

The Videos

Britney’s first VHS release dates from 1999, entitled “Time Out With Britney Spears”. The set has since been re-released on DVD. It’s more of a “fan” collection, rather than a compilation tape, as it features all of Britney’s five singles released from that first LP - but not all of them in their original video clip format! Instead, you get bits and pieces of interview and behind the scenes footage, and live versions of “Born To Make You Happy” and “From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart”, but you do get the original clips of “Baby One More Time”, ”Sometimes” and “You Drive Me Crazy”. Quite why the videos for the other two songs are missing, I really don’t know.

When originally released, various freebies were given away with the VHS edition in different countries. Arguably the best version is that released in Japan, which included a free 3 track 3” CD Single, with the “Jazzy Jim Hip Hop” and “Pimp Juice” mixes of “Crazy” along with the “Sometimes” b-side “I’m So Curious”.

Next up is 2000’s “Live And More”, which as the title suggests is a mix of live material, and other odds and sods. The bulk of the live footage is from a Waikiki Beach gig in 2000, although there also a couple of songs from her “Saturday Night Live” TV appearance in the US the same year - along with the comedy sketches she appeared in on the same show. There are also three music videos, for the first three singles from her second LP, “Oops!…I Did It Again”. The tracks in question are “Oops”, “Lucky” and “Stronger”.

Soon after the release of her third LP, “Britney”, in 2001, a DVD using the same cover but with the title “Britney - The Videos” was released. Despite it’s title, it mostly consisted of live performances and more behind-the-scenes stuff, with only two actual video clips on the UK edition - “Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know” (single number 4 from the second LP), and “I’m A Slave 4 U”, the lead single from the “Britney” LP. US editions of the DVD also included the clip for “I’m Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman”, but the UK edition used a live take of this song instead of the promo video.

2002 saw the release of “Live From Las Vegas”, a live DVD from - yep - Las Vegas. Like the Waikiki Beach gig, this was originally filmed for a TV broadcast, but unlike that set of footage, this is a full length concert DVD. The videos for “Slave”, “I’m Not A Girl” and “Overprotected” appear as bonus tracks. The music video for “Boys” was included as a bonus feature on the “Goldmember” DVD, but the video for the other single from the “Britney” album, “I Love Rock N Roll”, remained commercially unreleased at this point.

As with “Britney”, her next album also provided the title for her next DVD - “In The Zone”. Again, the DVD was a mix of interview footage and TV gigs, along with the music videos for “Me Against The Music” and “Toxic”. A free 4 track CD single was included in the pack, although unlike the Japanese “Time Out” 3” CD, this one did not come in it’s own sleeve. UK and US editions featured different tracks - the UK one included two new songs called “I’ve Just Begun” and “Girls And Boys”, the latter an unquestionable Britney classic, which doesn’t really deserve to be slightly lost on a freebie release. As mentioned last month, a French Box Set includes this DVD (and it’s free single) packaged with the “In The Zone” album.

If you had to pick ONE definitive Britney DVD, then it’s her “Greatest Hits” collection from 2004. This one really does the business. It includes all of Britney’s video clips from “Baby” right through to “Everytime”, plus what was at the time her new single, “My Prerogative” and a video for the remix of “Overprotected” as well. Also included was footage filmed on the set of the shoot for “Outrageous” (the picture at the top of this blog is from said shoot), which was being planned for release as a single from “In The Zone”. However, Britney was injured during the shoot, and the music industry being what it is, the decision was taken to cancel the rest of the shoot, as her schedule could not cope with any "delay" in promotional duties, although the song was still issued as a single in some countries.

2005 saw the release of “Chaotic”- not really a music DVD, but a compilation of the five TV shows of the same name that were broadcast during the summer of that year starring Britney and her fiancee, then husband, Kevin Federline. The footage was shot during 2004, whilst Britney was touring, so there is quite a bit of music scattered throughout each episode. The real selling point is the free CD that comes with the DVD, with four new songs, plus a remix of one of these songs, “Someday”. Again, there are some moments of pure pop genius on this freebie, especially “Over To You Now”, which really should have found a home on a “proper” Britney LP. Also included on the DVD are the clips of “Someday” and “Do Somethin’”, the latter being the second single to be taken from the “Greatest Hits” LP.

The next proper Britney DVD was also mentioned last month - the double disc “Singles Collection” release from 2009. This edition came with a free 16 track DVD, which mostly duplicated clips from “Greatest Hits”, but did include some clips released after that set had been issued. There were six “new” clips in total - “Gimme More”, “Piece Of Me”, “Womanizer”, “Circus”, “If U Seek Amy” and “Radar”. The clips for “Break The Ice” and then current promo single “3” failed to make the cut, and to this date, remain officially unreleased on DVD.

Other Releases

Go into Poundland, time it right, and you will probably find one of those “Unauthorised and Uncensored” DVD’s about Brit - I certainly have one from 1999 on VHS called “The Britney Spears Story”, and there are probably hundreds of these things “containing no Britney music” in existence. There have been a pair of official “documentary” DVD’s released with Britney’s authorisation. The first of these, “Stages”, was only included as a freebie inside a US hardback book, so info is scant. The second, and the one which has been released in the UK, is 2008’s “On The Record”, filmed during the promo campaign leading up to the release of the “Circus” LP later that year.

Last month, I mentioned a split Britney/N Sync CD that was sold through US McDonalds chains - well, there’s a VHS as well. “Your #1 Video Requests And More” includes 2 clips by each act, plus a “making of” video. The Britney clips are for “Oops” and “Born To Make You Happy”, which was the first time it had been made officially available in the States when this VHS was released.

Also mentioned last month were selected "rare" editions of Britney albums and singles where video footage was included on free DVD's, or the CD-Rom section of the disc. It's also worth pointing out that several Britney promos appear as bonus features on the DVD release of "Crossroads", Britney's first (and to date, only) major motion picture.

What next? Well, 2011 should bring a new album, and if the latest shower of nonsense on the X Factor finals is anything to go by, we desperately need a proper pop star to come back to the scene to save us from the horror of One Direction and their ilk. Britney - your world needs you!

Further reading and viewing:

Friday, 19 November 2010

November 2010

Hitmakers galore this month - it's the first of a two part look at Pop Princess Britney Spears.

Also published this month is a look at Bowie in the 80s - his most commercially successful decade - and an intro to collecting The Kinks. To click on any of these articles, click on the relevant tab to your right.

"We Are The Desperate Dan Appreciation Society"

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Britney Spears - Part 1

If Madonna is the current Queen Of Pop, then Britney Spears is the undisputed Princess. Britney may not have gotten round to making an album quite as groundbreaking as “Like A Prayer”, but she has made some fantastic pop records - if you don’t love “Toxic”, then you don’t really love music per se.

You can ignore all the nonsense about “but she doesn’t write all her own songs” - Elvis only ever co-wrote a handful, and nobody has a go at him. At the end of the day, a good song is a good song - and the likes of “Gimme More”, “Womanizer”, “Everytime” and “Toxic” are as good as they get. This is the first of a two part blog looking at Britney’s career - primarily, we will be concerned with her UK releases, but mentions of important overseas releases will be included. Next month, we shall look at Britney on DVD, but this month, it’s a look at her albums and greatest hits collections, and the singles taken from each.

For each album, a scan of the standard UK CD edition is shown, along with details of each of the singles taken from it. Because Britney has always appealed to the collectors scene, every one of her albums listed below have also been issued somewhere in the world in a limited edition format, and for each LP, I have selected one such item (UK or otherwise) that I would suggest you try and track down first. I have also listed important single releases - any formats which include nothing of interest are not listed. In the odd instance where a single was issued on both CD and Cassette with identical track listings, this is noted where relevant.

...Baby One More Time (Jive 0522172)

UK Singles: ...Baby One More Time, Sometimes, Crazy, Born To Make You Happy

Britney’s debut appeared in early 1999, although the promo campaign for the record kicked off in the US late in 98. It had a very notable “sound”, created by Max Martin, quite heavy on synthesized keyboards, which was apparent on both the fast and the slow songs. Some critics have pointed out that this worked brilliantly on the up tempo numbers, but not so well on the ballads. The title track, regularly referred to accidentally as “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, after the line in the chorus, came with an iconic “Britney The Schoolgirl” video, and represented the Max Martin sound at it’s very best.

The album was issued in a bewildering number of editions worldwide - the basic UK edition featured 12 tracks, ending with a cover of “The Beat Goes On”, but most “collectors pressings” featured extra songs, either at the end of the CD, on a second disc - or both. The title track was the first single, and was issued on two CD’s, each with different track listings and artwork - the second CD was done in a limited run, and sold out quite quickly, making it one of the premier UK Britney rarities. If you are not too fussed about the artwork, you might be able to find both the B-sides of this edition more easily on the French CD Maxi Single, which includes them both along with the video on the CD-Rom section of the disc. “Born To Make You Happy” was issued on both CD and Cassette, with different tracks on each format - the first such single to do so. In some overseas countries, “From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart” was issued as a single (and a video was filmed) but all of the B-sides were taken from otherwise available 45s from across the globe.

Trying to pick just one of the numerous foreign pressings is difficult - although the album was issued in the same sleeve as the UK one (referred to as the “International” sleeve, as the US one was completely different), each were then usually housed in a slipcase with a different photo. The best one is probably the Hong Kong double disc edition, the outer slipcase using a picture of Britney lying on the grass, arms folded, smiling for the camera - it includes two extra tracks on disc 1, and also includes a 4-track edition of the “You Drive Me Crazy” single, which includes “Autumn Goodbye” as the final track.

Recommended Version: Jive ROD 9153-4


…Baby One More Time (LP Version)/(Sharp Platinum Vocal Remix)/(Davidson Ospina Club Mix) (CD1, Jive 0521692)
…Baby One More Time (LP Version)/(Instrumental)/Autumn Goodbye (CD2 in diff p/s with poster, Jive 052275)
Sometimes (Radio Edit)/(Soul Solution Mid Temp Mix)/I’m So Curious (CD, Jive 0523202 - some, if not all copies, play B-sides in wrong order)
(You Drive Me) Crazy (The Stop! Remix)/(Spacedust Dark Dub)/(Spacedust Club Mix)/(Video) (CD, Jive 0550582)
Born To Make You Happy (Radio Edit)/(Bonus Remix)/(You Drive Me) Crazy (Jazzy Jim’s Hip-Hop Mix) (CD, Jive 9250022)
Born To Make You Happy (Radio Edit)/(Bonus Remix)/…Baby One More Time (Answering Machine Message) (Cassette, Jive 9250024)

Oops!...I Did It Again (Jive 9220392)

UK Singles: Oops!...I Did It Again, Lucky, Stronger, Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know

The first signs of a slightly more “grown up” Britney were evident on album number two, although the Max Martin sound was still in evidence. There was the slightly mental “I found it at the bottom of the ocean” middle eight of the title track, issued as the first single, whilst “Stronger” saw a bit of a pop culture reference to her first single, with the line “my loneliness ain’t killing me no more”, more or less being lifted from "Baby".

The title track was heavily remixed overseas, with a US CD single offering up a good 30 odd minutes of mixes, and came housed in a slightly different sleeve - same photo, but given a bit of what looked like a ‘Photoshop’ make over. Most of these mixes have never been released in the UK. All four of the singles issued in the UK appeared on at least two “essential” formats, with different track listings. Soon after the album’s release, Britney undertook her first world tour, and in the UK, the album was reissued as a new “Special UK Edition” to coincide, which added the B-side of “Lucky”, “Heart”, and a new song, “You Got It All”. These appeared before the final track on the CD, rather than after it.

Again, there are more “rare” formats of this LP worldwide than you can shake a stick at, but if you have to own just one, make it the superb French double CD. This includes the original 13 track record, but comes in a thick card case with a free CD Single. The CD Single is unique - it includes just one audio track, “You Got It All”, plus the videos for “Oops”, “Lucky” and “…Broken Heart”. The photo is a zoomed in version of the normal album cover, and original copies featured both the CD, CD Single and the slipcase in sealed shrinkwrap.

Recommended Version: Jive 6385 9220808 7


Oops!…I Did It Again (LP Version)/Deep In My Heart/From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart (Ospina’s Millennium Funk Mix) (CD, Jive 9250542)
Oops!…I Did It Again (LP Version)/(Instrumental)/From The Bottom Of My Broken Heart (Ospina’s Millennium Funk Mix) (Cassette, Jive 9250544)
Lucky/Heart/Lucky (Jack D Elliot Radio Mix) (CD, Jive 9251022)
Lucky/Heart/Oops!…I Did It Again (Jack D Elliot Club Mix) (Cassette, Jive 9251024)
Stronger/Walk On By/Stronger (WIP Remix) (CD, Jive 9251502)
Stronger/Walk On By/Stronger (Instrumental) (Cassette, Jive 9251504)
Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know (Album Version)/(Hex Hector Radio Mix)/(Hex Hector Club Mix) (Cassette, Jive 9251984 - also issued on CD but with photo cropped at bottom of sleeve)
Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know/Oops!…I Did It Again (Rip rock ‘N’ Alex G. Oops! We Remixed Again! Radio Mix)/Stronger (MacQuale Mix Show Edit)/Don’t Let Me Be The Last To Know (Video) (Enhanced CD, Jive 9252032)

Britney (Jive 9222532)

UK Singles: I'm A Slave 4 U, Overprotected, I'm Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman, I Love Rock 'N' Roll, Boys

So, depending on whether you refer to her as “Britney Spears” or “Britney”, makes this third album a self-titled affair - just like Deep Purple’s third record, for those of you who like to know these things. Britney was now properly grown up - the Neptunes produced lead single, “I’m A Slave 4 U”, sounded nothing like anything she had taped before; all bump and grind breathless raunch, complete with an equally steamy video. Interestingly, even though Britney was now maturing, her label in the UK still went ahead with issuing all her singles on the now-dying Cassette format, a format that at the time was primarily aimed at younger music fans, who could not afford Compact Discs. Unlike earlier Cassettes, the track listings for releases from this album matched the accompanying CD format.

There was still a Max Martin sound on the likes of “Overprotected”, but songs such as “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman”, was an obvious sign of a girl/woman starting to move onwards in life. The track became the “unofficial” theme tune to Britney’s movie issued at the same time, “Crossroads”, although several Britney songs were featured in the film. One such song, a cover of “I Love Rock N Roll”, at first looked like it would not get a UK release, and import copies turned up in the shops, but a UK version was eventually issued, with the same cover but different coloured text on the front - and different bonus tracks.

The original UK edition of the album was a 14 track affair, which “officially” ended on track 12, with a song called “When I Found You”. Track 13 was a “bonus” track, “I Run Away”, which later surfaced on the B-side of “I’m Not A Girl”, whilst track 14 was “What It’s Like To Be Me”. Overseas editions varied both in terms of track listings and artwork - pick of the bunch is the Australian CD/DVD set, which comes in a white and red slipcase, replaces “I Run Away” with “Before The Goodbye”, and also adds remixes of the first three singles from the LP as bonus tracks. There is also a DVD/CD edition - same content, but in a bigger box, and with a “longer” version of this picture on the cover.

Recommended Version: Jive 9223872 PAL


I’m A Slave 4 U (LP Mix)/Intimidated/I’m A Slave 4 U (Instrumental) (Cassette, Jive 9252894, also issued on CD)
Overprotected (Album Mix)/(JS16 Remix)/I’m A Slave 4 U (Thunderpuss Mixshow Edit (The Remix)) (Cassette, Jive 9253074, also issued on CD)
I’m Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman (Album Version)/(Spanish Fly Remix Radio Edit)/I Run Away (Cassette, Jive 9253474, also issued on CD in slightly diff p/s)
I Love Rock N Roll (LP Version)/(Karaoke Version)/Overprotected (Darkchild Remix Edit)/I Love Rock N Roll (Video) (CD with free postcards, Jive 9254202)
Boys (Co-Ed Remix featuring Pharrell Williams)/(Instrumental)/(LP Mix) (CD, Jive 9253912 - 12” also available in unique p/s with LP Mix of “Boys” replaced by “I’m A Slave 4 U”)

In The Zone (Jive 82876 576442)

UK Singles: Me Against The Music, Toxic, Everytime

Don’t quote me, but “In The Zone” really marked the move away from “teen idol” to “pop star”. A lot of Britney’s earlier releases had been issued in exotic packages to try and give the younger fans a bit of VFM, but “In The Zone” was pretty much issued in the same sleeve everywhere, no more free stickers or posters for the pre-teens to stick all over their walls. The UK edition did have three extra tracks - the 12 basic tracks were followed by the “Rishi Rich’s Desi Kulcha Remix” of “Me Against The Music”, “The Answer” and “Don’t Hang Up”.

“Me Against The Music” was the lead single - the last Britney “45” to be released on Cassette in the UK. In the US, it was issued on various formats including a 12” which featured mixes unavailable in the UK. The track featured the Princess and Queen of Pop together, as Madonna sang a short section in the bridge, and featured in the video. But despite this, “MATM” is a bit of a long lost Britney single - the follow ups, “Toxic” and “Everytime” seemed to garner greater adoration, and became bigger hits. It’s easy to see why - “Toxic” was just pure pop perfection, complete with an ingenious video, featuring Britney as a sexy air hostess, whilst “Everytime” was little more than Britney and a piano, a beautiful record, complete with a controversial but spot on video of “Britney” supposedly attempting suicide as she battles with the madness of the paparazzi. In a momentus moment near the end, an autograph hunter shoves a magazine towards her as she is carried off, semi unconscious, on a stretcher. Pop culture at it's most perfect. “Everytime” was the point at which Britney started to show, on record, the down side to fame, just as Madonna poured her heart out on the “Like A Prayer” LP.

Soon after the album was released, a DVD also titled “In The Zone” was released, including promo videos and TV spots - and a free 4 track CD single (more info next month). In France, a box set housing the CD, DVD and CD Single was issued, and is probably the most interesting version of “ITZ” available - although “Don’t Hang Up” is absent from this edition.

Recommended Version: Jive 82876 620219


Me Against The Music (Video Mix)/(Rishi Rich’s Desi Kulcher Remix)/(Peter Rauhofer Radio Mix)/(The Mad Brit Mixshow) (Cassette, Jive 82876 576434 - also available on CD)
Toxic (Album Version)/(Lenny Bertoldo Mix Show Edit)/(Armand Van Helden Remix Edit)/(Felix Da Housecat’s Club Mix)/(Album Mix Instrumental) (CD1, Jive 82876 602092)
Toxic (Video)/In The Zone Special (Video)/Toxic (Lenny Bertoldo Mix Show Edit) (DVD, Jive 82876 603669, blue p/s)
Everytime (Album Version)/(Hi Bias Radio Remix)/(Above & Beyond’s Radio Mix)/(The Scumfrog Vocal Mix) (CD, Jive 82876 626202)
Everytime (Video)/Breathe On Me (TV Performance - Video) (DVD, Jive 82876 626209, slightly “zoomed in” p/s)

Greatest Hits: My Prerogative (Jive 82876 666162)

UK Singles: My Prerogative, Do Somethin'

On first glance, it might seem strange that Britney should issue a “best of” after only five years in the biz. After all, it took Madonna about seven years to do hers. But, a quick scan of the track listing, and you realised just how many hits Britney had had up to that point. As is now commonplace, there were some new songs on the set, although one of the “new” songs listed on the sleeve wasn’t actually new at all, as “I’ve Just Begun” was included on the free CD that came with the “In The Zone” DVD.

Both the other two new songs were then issued as singles. The song which gave the collection it’s name, a cover of Bobby Brown’s so-so “My Prerogative” came first, although Britney struggled to make it into a classic. The video, featuring Britney rolling around in bed in her underwear, was more exciting than the song itself, so it was no surprise that the label issued a DVD single featuring the video. The single was also issued on two CD’s with different bonus tracks - a common practice in the UK since the early 1990’s, but this was Britney’s first UK single to go down this path. Each of the three formats came in slightly different covers, although the photo used was the same on each.

The other new song, “Do Somethin’”, was more impressive, and was issued on two CD’s. The second one played just one audio track, but had both the video for the single and a “Video Megamix” on the enhanced section of the disc.

When first released, the UK edition also appeared as a double disc set, with a slab of remixes on CD2. Most of these mixes had not been issued in the UK before, whilst the “Megamix” included was a longer version than those issued on the “My Prerogative” and “Do Somethin’” singles. This double disc set is an essential purchase.

Recommended Version: Jive 82876 652602


My Prerogative/Megamix (CD1, Jive 82876 652572)
My Prerogative (LP Version)/(Instrumental)/(X Press 2 Vocal Mix)/(Armand Van Helden Remix)/(X Press 2 Dub) (CD2, pink p/s, Jive 82876 652582)
My Prerogative (Video)/(Album Version) (DVD, unique p/s, Jive 82876 661529)
Do Somethin’ (LP Version)/(DJ Monk Radio Edit) (CD1, Jive 82876 682132)
Do Somethin’ (LP Version)/(Video)/Megamix (Video) (CD2 in diff p/s, Jive 82876 681922)

Blackout (Jive 88697 190732)

UK Singles: Gimme More, Piece Of Me, Break The Ice

The period from 2004’s “Greatest Hits”, to 2007’s “Blackout” saw a few odds and ends being released (a remix album, and a DVD with a free CD of four new songs), but the period was more notable for Britney’s private life - marriage, babies, divorce, and of course, that head shaving incident. But all that paled into insignificance with the release of “Blackout”, the subject of excitable reviews which saw Britney push her music further into the left field.

There was some mumbling about the lead single, “Gimme More”. The video, which saw Britney playing a pole dancer, was deemed to be indiciative of ‘Britney’s fragile state’, according to the tabloids, but this was of course a load of nonsense. The single was a thrilling, minimalist, electro rumble, opened with the brilling “It’s Britney, Bitch” scowl. Follow up, “Piece Of Me”, was even better - a knowing two fingered salute to the press, which was pure pop at it’s most subversive, with the most brilliant chorus - “I’m Mrs Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, I’m Mrs ‘Oh My God, That Britney’s Shameless’, I'm Mrs Extra Extra This Just In, I’m Mrs She’s Too Big Now She’s Too Thin” - sheer brilliance.

Of the three “Blackout” singles, only one featured a new song on the B-side, with was the third and final release, “Break The Ice” - the previous singles featuring remixes of the A-side instead. This new song, “Everybody”, was one of four songs Britney taped for “Blackout” that failed to make the cut - in the UK at least. In Japan, all four were added on to the end of a limited edition version of the CD as bonus tracks, and it is this edition which is the most desirable to collectors.

Recommended Version: Jive BVCP 21572


Gimme More (LP Version)/(Kaskade Remix) (CD, Jive 88697 186762)
Piece Of Me (LP Version)/(Boz O Lo Remix) (CD, Jive 88697 221762)
Break The Ice/Everybody (CD, Jive 88697 290262)

Circus (Jive 88697 406982)

UK Singles: Womanizer, Circus, If U Seek Amy

Britney was seen by some parts of the media, by now, as a bit of a “faded” star and when it was revealed that she was going to release an album in 2008 with a similar title to one being issued by Take That, the tabloids went into overdrive. When Take That’s album was revealed to be selling quicker, it was seen as some sort of sign that Britney was past it. Not a jot of truth. Whilst the Take That album was a load of overblown, airbrushed, MOR tosh, Britney’s LP was a continuation of the exhilarating sound of “Blackout”, exemplified none more so than on lead single, “Womanizer” - as exciting a single as any she had made up to this point. In the US, the single hit the number one spot.

“Circus” rather unusually featured an “old” track, as the “Blackout” song “Radar” was re-recorded for inclusion on the LP. The title track was issued as single number two, with a remix of “Womanizer” on the B-side, although Britney blotted her copybook a bit on the promo campaign for the single, as her mimed performance of the song on “The X Factor” saw her receive a fair bit of criticism. The follow up single, the cheekily titled “If U Seek Amy” (say the title fast, you should be able to work out the joke), came backed with a remix of the previous single - yet again. “Radar” was then issued as a promo only single, having originally been planned to have been a commercially released single when it had appeared on “Blackout” a year previously. Promos of that version of the song also exist.

As well as being issued as a standard 14 track edition, “Circus” was also released at the time in the UK with two extra tracks (“Rock Me In” and “Phonography”), along with a free DVD. The colours used on the artwork of this edition differed very slightly, and it’s extra material make it one of the most desirable editions of the album released worldwide.

Recommended Version: Jive 88697 407752


Womanizer (LP Version)/(Instrumental) (CD, Jive 88697 409422)
Circus/Womanizer (Mike Rizzo Funk Generation Radio) (CD, Jive 88697 455282)
If U Seek Amy/Circus (Joe Bermudez Radio Remix) (CD, Jive 88697 487822)

The Singles Collection (Jive 88697 623422)

UK Singles: none

Another greatest hits? Even though there was a five year gap from Britney’s debut single to “Greatest Hits”, and another five year gap from that to this, Britney was nowhere near as productive in this second five-year period, which did make the idea of another best-of collection a bit strange. It was almost as if she had recorded another song, and not knowing what to do with it, decided to stick out a singles collection with it tagged on.

There was only one new song on this set, which despite it’s title, didn’t actually include all of Britney’s singles. “3”, a rather risqué number about the good/bad concept of a threesome, was another blistering piece of electro pop, but despite being issued as a single in some countries, it remained promo only in the UK. Unusually for a greatest hits set, the song appeared at the start of the CD, before the remainder of the record continued in normal chronological order.

“The Singles Collection” was issued in a variety of formats. In the US, it was released as a multiple CD Box Set, with each song coming in it’s own picture sleeve, using the same cover as the original single release. There were more "hits" on the boxset version, as every Britney single ever released (including tracks not on the UK CD) made an appearance. The only snag was that each CD only included one bonus track, so singles which had previously featured multiple B-sides appeared here with most of these missing. If you had never bought a Britney single in your life, the box set was a worthy purchase, but it did seem to offer less than it could have done (compare it to the gargantuan Girls Aloud Singles Box). It did include non-UK singles like “Outrageous”, “Radar”, and “3” - but it sold for a LOT of money. Finding a copy for less than £100 is not that easy.

A DVD featuring Britney’s videos was included in the box set, whilst in the UK, the limited edition version of the release came in a different coloured sleeve with the DVD as a freebie, although not all of the videos that could have been included were included. Whilst the DVD had been housed in it’s own picture sleeve in the box set, it was simply included sleeve-less in the UK double disc edition. Still, the OTT price structure of the boxset, in lieu of it’s lack of material, make it - in my view - less impressive than the double disc set, and that’s the edition that I would suggest you go for if you have all of Britney’s singles already.

Recommended Version: BMG 88697 62345 2

What else?

In addition to all of the above, there are a series of other interesting Britney items, some of which have only ever been available on import.

In 2000, Jive put their two star names at the time - Britney and N Sync - on a split 8 track CD titled “Your #1 Requests And More!”, which was sold exclusively through McDonalds. At the time, N Sync’s leader Justin Timberlake and Britney were the subject of much “are they or aren’t they dating” talk, giving the release a bit more intrigue than if it had just been Britney and another Jive Records act. The four Britney songs all originated from the “Oops” album, and although the title track was included on the set, it appeared in a remixed form.

At around about the same time, a series of Britney dolls were issued - and several of them came with free CD Singles. There was (more or less) a doll for each of the singles Britney had released from her first two records, with each doll coming in a different outfit with different accessories. The free CD included just the one song, the radio or album version of said single, and was housed in a plain white sleeve. Suffice to say, copies of the dolls sold intact with the CD as well are now worth a few quid. There was also a “play stage” - this was basically a big stage with a Britney doll in the centre, and if you pressed a button, it played a bit of an old Britney hit! Mental - suffice to say, I own this ridiculous item…

Also issued earlier in her career were a series of MCD’s - never heard of the format? Well it stood for (almost) “Musical Key Chain” and was exactly that - a key ring made of a big slab of plastic, which could either play a short burst of a Britney song, or the whole thing. Pressing different buttons played the edit or the full song. The MCD's originally came housed in some tough plastic packaging, packaged like a toy rather than a record. I am not sure how many different ones were issued, but I do know that at least one such MCD used a track that had never previously been issued as a single. Each MCD used a photo of Britney on the box, and where the song had previously been issued as a single, the original artwork from said single release was used for the pack.

2005 saw the release of the most forgotten of all of Britney’s releases - the “B In The Mix” remix album. A mixture of old and new mixes, the album rather strangely featured a new Britney song - albeit in remixed form, “And Then We Kiss”. The song has not appeared anywhere else since, and most certainly not in it’s un-remixed form, although I am sure the masters are locked away somewhere at BMG.

Next month, we shall look at Britney on Video and DVD - the format which she was born to exist on.

Further reading:
Britney's official site: