Saturday, 9 July 2011
There are two Cliff Richard’s - there’s the solo one, who has made some bizarre records involving brass bands, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, and hanging out with Stock Aitken And Waterman. And then there’s the Cliff Richard who was lead singer in Cliff Richard And The Shadows, whose place in UK popular music history is monumentally important, and who recorded some miraculous records in the decade they were together.
It is all too easy to dismiss Cliff as a singer who is astonishingly uncool, and certainly, much of what he recorded on his own after 1969 is fairly poor. But to dismiss the material he recorded between 58 and 68, most of it with The Shads, is a big mistake - “Move It”, “Please Don’t Tease”, “Nine Times Out Of Ten”, “Don’t Talk To Him”, “On The Beach” - stone cold classics every one. So, what should you be buying with Cliff’s name on?
The Original LP's
There are several reasons as to why the Cliff And The Shadows releases have been somewhat lost in the midsts of time. These are:
A) most of the albums they recorded were credited to Cliff only
B) The Shads were a band in their own right, and so you could say, they were merely backing Cliff as a bit of a side project
C) several albums from the 58-68 period featured no Shadows at all at various points during the proceedings
D) post 69, every Cliff best of has merged the “Shadows” era-material in with all the fluff that followed.
Although they both had individual careers, the Shadows (or The Drifters as they were then known) backed Cliff on his very first 45, “Move It”. Indeed, every 45 Cliff released up until the middle of 64 featured The Shads on the A-side, B-side, or both. “Don’t Forget To Catch Me”, released at the tail end of 1968, was the final single upon which The Shads backed Cliff, and although a new line up played some shows with Cliff in early 69, Cliff officially went solo at the start of that year. Which is where things went downhill.
Let’s look at the albums Cliff and The Shads made “together”. They released 13 “normal” albums, ending in 1968 with “Established 1958”. The 1959 debut, “Cliff”, was actually a live album - so “Move It” appeared but in totally different form to the original 45. Several tracks, strangely, featured The Shads doing a solo turn minus Cliff, so even though it’s called “Cliff”, he is on less songs than Hank Marvin! The first LP to actually be credited to both Cliff And The Shads was 1960’s “Me And My Shadows”, regarded as something of a rock and roll classic. 1966’s “Kinda Latin” featured no appearances by The Shads at all, and even though most of the others were Shadows-less at times, they are all good enough albums to listen to in their entirety.
Like a lot of popstars at the time, Cliff had a go at being a movie star, and ended up recording soundtrack albums to tie in with most of his celluloid efforts. “The Young Ones”, “Summer Holiday”, “Wonderful Life” and “Finders Keepers” all featured tracks that were Cliff-less, but tend to get thought of as Cliff And The Shadows albums, whilst 1968’s “Two A Penny” was effectively a Cliff solo effort. There were also soundtrack albums for the stage shows “Aladdin” and “Cinderella”.
There were two other releases before the end in 68 - 1967’s “Good News” was Cliff’s first gospel album, and was the sign of things to come, whilst 1968’s Shads-less “Cliff In Japan” was a live album, and a fun one at that - despite Hank and Co being absent, the album consisted of tracks originally taped with the group, even though this album saw Cliff being backed by an orchestra instead.
In terms of CD’s, these albums have all been reissued - but in various forms. In 2001/2002, a series of 2-on-1 CD’s were issued, housing pairs of albums on one disc (easy to do because of the relatively slight running times of the albums). Of the 13 “normal” albums, 10 were paired up on five CD releases - “Cliff”/”Cliff Sings” (EMI 534 6002), “Me And My Shadows”/”Listen To Cliff” (EMI 534 7002), “21 Today”/”32 Minutes & 17 Seconds” (EMI 534 7012), “Cliff Richard”/”Don’t Stop Me Now” (EMI 541 0842) and “When In Spain”/”Kinda Latin” (EMI 541 0862). “Love Is Forever” was paired with the religious release “Good News” (EMI 541 0852), whilst “When In Rome” failed to get a reissue. It had been included on an earlier 2-on-1 release, when it was issued on CD in 1992 with “Cliff Richard” (EMI 0777 780429 2). “Established 1958” was also neglected, but was reissued on CD with bonus tracks in 2007 (EMI 381 9682).
“Live In Japan” also appeared in expanded form on CD in 2007 (EMI 381 9622). Most of the soundtracks were also reissued in expanded form during the Noughties, with “Summer Holiday” surfacing in 2003 (EMI 543 9952), and “The Young Ones” (EMI 477 7232), “Wonderful Life” (EMI 477 7182) and “Finders Keepers” (EMI 477 7162) turning up in 2005. The other soundtrack releases remain more obscure - “Two A Penny” was paired with “Cliff In Japan” on CD in 1992 (EMI 0777 780441 2), “Cinderella” was paired with “Finders Keepers” (EMI 0777 780435 2) and “Aladdin” with “Wonderful Life” (EMI 0777 780426 2), but have not appeared on CD again since.
The Singles and Subsequent Compilations
Ignoring the EP’s for a moment, Cliff And The Shads released some 44 singles - some on 78 - between 58 and 68. Most of them consisted of exclusive material, such as the aforementioned “Move It”.
1963’s “Cliff’s Hit Album” (Columbia 33SX 1512) was the first best-of to include “Move It” along with other non-album tracks, but picked only “certain” hits, so the likes of “High Class Baby” and other stand alone singles were not included. 1965’s “More Hits” (Columbia 33SX 1737) followed a similar path, but curiously included a different mix of “Bachelor Boy”. 1969’s “Best Of Cliff” (Columbia SX 6343) featured material from no later than 68, and thus became the final “proper” Cliff And The Shadows LP, until the 1970’s reunion - despite it being released after Cliff‘s first post-Shads solo releases.
In terms of finding the hits on CD, you could do worse than get hold of “40 Golden Greats” (EMI CDS 792 4252), originally a double vinyl release from 1977. 31 of the 40 songs date from the 58-68 period (“Congratulations” is the final song from that period, “Move It” of course is the first), but it is still missing the likes of “High Class Baby”. The first Cliff CD release to include some of the old hits was actually 1981’s “Love Songs” (CDP 748 0492), which included “A Voice In The Wilderness”, “Visions” and “I Could Easily Fall” amongst others, along with a chunk of post-68 stuff.
If money is no object, then 2002’s “Singles Collection” (EMI 7243 537 5512) will do the job of including - more or less - one or both sides of each 45. It includes a lot of the A-sides and B-sides from the 58-68 period, but 25 non-album tracks are missing from this period, whilst all 4 b-sides from 1968 - “High N Dry”, “Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon”, “Mr Nice” and “What’s More I Don’t Need Her” - are also absent. However, several other Cliff collections mop up these missing songs.
Those last 4 b-sides listed above are on the expanded “Established 1958” CD, whilst the “Rare B-Sides 1963-1989” CD (EMI 216 5942) includes “Say You’re Mine”, “True True Loving”, “Just Another Guy”, “Just A Little Bit Too Late”, “Somebody Loses”, “I Get The Feeling”, “Our Story Book” and “Sweet Little Jesus Boy”. The “Rare EP Tracks 1961-1991” CD (EMI 216 5932) includes “I Wonder”, “Watch What You Do With My Baby”, “I’m Afraid To Go Home”, “The Night”, “Your Eyes Tell On You” and “Look Before You Love”. The title obviously indicated that they had appeared on Cliff EP’s, but all of them also turned up as regular B-sides of selected 45’s.
1987’s “Rock On With Cliff Richard” (Music For Pleasure MFP 6005) includes “My Feet Hit The Ground”, “Apron Strings”, a different mix of “Willie And The Hand Jive”, “D In Love” and “Mumbling Mosie”. The 1997 box set “The Rock & Roll Years” (EMI 7243 857 8812) includes “Steady With You”, “Don’t Be Mad At Me”, “Where Is My Heart”, “Now’s The Time To Fall In Love” (a different mix), “Since I Lost You” and “Thinking Of Our Love”.
It is possible to get most, but maybe not all, of these tracks on other compilations - a situation helped somewhat by a flood of best of’s that have surfaced this year already. I think this is because copyright laws mean that once a song has turned 50 years old, any old Tom Dick or Harry can license the material, so there is now a load of material from ‘The Early Years’ on the market, with some slightly random track listings which nonetheless, between them, include a slab of A and B sides. Amongst these are Pegasus’s “That’s My Desire” (Pegasus PEGCD 722), which includes the likes of “My Feet Hit The Ground”, “Willie And The Hand Jive” and the stand alone A-side “A Voice In The Wilderness”, and Delta’s triple-CD “Move It” (Delta 60366), which throws in the likes of “Don’t Be Mad At Me”, “D In Love” and “Where Is My Heart”.
Some of the more interesting best-of’s not mentioned so far include EMI’s “The Early Years” (EMI 216 5932), a 2008 CD with unreleased songs/versions, including an astonishing alternate take of “Dynamite“, plus a stack of A and B-sides, whilst the aforementioned “Rock & Roll Years” Boxset spawned a single disc ‘best of’, (EMI 859 3092) full of 50‘s hits like “Move It“ and “Please Don‘t Tease“ along with more unreleased material/stereo EP mixes in 1997. At the tail end of the 90’s, EMI issued a series of CD’s devoted to specific decades, and the “1960’s” release (EMI 497 1332) was of note as it included material only pre-1969, so no dubious “post-Shads” recordings made the set. This release also included some obscure B-side and EP material. You might also want to track down 2010’s “The Rock And Roll Years” (Delta Go2CD 7026), a double CD which includes six of the seven tracks that were included on the 1958 Various Artists set “Oh Boy”, therefore pre-dating Cliff’s debut LP.
Cliff And The Shads released so many EP’s before their demise, it’s ridiculous. But look a bit closer, and it’s not quite as exciting as it seems. Columbia made a habit of “repackaging” several LP’s across a number of EP’s, so you can - if you so wish - buy four EP’s instead of the “Cliff Sings” album, and still get all the songs. Indeed, huge chunks of the first four albums were later chucked onto no less than eleven EP’s.
The first ever EP was called “Serious Charge”. It was Cliff’s first film, but did not spawn a soundtrack album, only this four track EP. It’s notable for including the original version of “Living Doll”, a completely different version to the more famous single version. It was followed by two EP’s from the “Cliff” album, which were followed by the next EP of “new” material, “Expresso Bongo”, another movie tie in EP. There were then four EP’s from the “Cliff Sings” album, and then a greatest hits release called “Cliff’s Silver Discs”.
The final Cliff And The Shads EP was 1968’s “Congratulations” - although all six tracks on it were actually Shadows-less. For many years, a lot of the exclusive material that was spread across these releases remained lost on the original vinyl releases, but attempts have been made to put these rarities onto CD. However, even the releases that have been designed to include EP material have come up short, such as 1989’s “The EP Collection”, but (virtually) all of the tracks have made it onto CD across a mixture of subsequent releases. Again, the recent best of sets that have surfaced this year have made some material available, but we could really do with a box set of these EP’s to put the material together in one place, a la The Kinks EP Box Sets, especially as some of the CD's upon which this material exists have now been deleted.
The “essential “EP’s, are as follows:
Serious Charge (SEG 7895): Living Doll/No Turning Back/Mad About You/Chinchilla.
All tracks can be found on “As Good As It Gets” (Smith & Co SCCD 1193).
Expresso Bongo (SEG 7971): Love/A Voice In The Wilderness/The Shrine On The Second Floor/Bongo Blues.
Again, all tracks are on “As Good As It Gets”.
Dream (SEG 8119): Dream/All I Do Is Dream Of You/I’ll See You In My Dreams/When I Grow Too Old To Dream.
Tracks 2 and 4 are on “The EP Collection” (See For Miles SEECD 280), tracks 1 and 3 are on “Rare EP Tracks”.
Holiday Carnival (SEG 8246): Carnival/Moonlight Bay/Some Of These Days/For You For Me.
Tracks 1 and 2 are on “The EP Collection”, tracks 3 and 4 on “Rare EP Tracks”.
Love Songs (SEG 8272): I’m In The Mood For Love/Secret Love/Love Letters/I Only Have Eyes For You.
Track 1 is on “Rare EP Tracks”. The rest are on “The EP Collection”.
When In France (SEG 8290): La Mer/Boum/J’Attendrai/C’est Si Bon.
Tracks 1 and 2 are on “1960’s”, track 3 is on “The EP Collection”.
Cliff’s Palladium Successess (SEG 8320): I’m The Lonely One/Watch What You Do With My Baby/Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps/Frenesi.
Track 1 is on “20 Original Greats” (EMI CDP 792 4212), the rest on “Rare EP Tracks”
A Forever Kind Of Love (SEG 8347): A Forever Kind Of Love/It’s Wonderful To Be Young/Constantly/True True Loving.
Track 1 is on “The EP Collection”, an alternate version of track 2 is on the expanded “The Young Ones”. Track 3 is on “40 Golden Greats”, track 4 as mentioned earlier is on “Rare B Sides”.
Why Don’t They Understand (SEG 8384): Why Don’t They Understand/Where The Four Winds Blow/The Twelfth Of Never/I’m Afraid To Go Home.
Tracks 1 and 4 are on “Rare EP Tracks”. Track 2 is on “The EP Collection”, track 3 on “Love Songs”.
Look Into My Eyes Maria (SEG 8405): Look Into My Eyes Maria/Where Is Your Heart/Maria/If I Gave My Heart To You.
“Where Is Your Heart” is on “Rare EP Tracks.” The rest are on “The EP Collection”.
Take Four (SEG 8450): Boom Boom/My Heart Is An Open Book/Lies & Kisses/Sweet And Gentle.
Tracks 3 and 4 are on “Rare EP Tracks”. Tracks 1 and 2 are on “The EP Collection”.
Thunderbirds Are Go (SEG 8510): Shooting Star/Lady Penelope/Thunderbirds Theme/Zero X Theme.
Track 1 is on “Cliff Richard At The Movies” (EMI 7243 852 790), the rest being Shadows recordings are only really available CD-wise on the “Thunderbirds Are Go” soundtrack CD fom 1992 (EMI 0777 799996 2).
La La La La La (SEG 8517): La La La La La/Solitary Man/Things We Said Today/Never Knew What Love Could Do.
Tracks 1 and 4 are on “Rare EP Tracks”, the others on “The EP Collection”.
Carol Singers (SEG 8533): God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/In The Bleak Midwinter/Unto Us A Boy Is Born/While Shepherds Watched/Little Town Of Bethlehem.
All tracks turned up on the 1988 LP/Cassette “Carols” (Word WRD 3034).
Congratulations (SEG 8540): Congratulations/Wonderful World/Do You Remember/High N Dry/The Sound Of The Candy Man’s Trumpet/Little Rag Doll.
“Do You Remember” is on “Wonderful Life”, “Congratulations” on “40 Golden Greats”, the rest seem to be possibly vinyl only in the UK. A French double CD called “Congratulations To Cliff” includes all six songs (Magic 393 0630).
Although Cliff And The Shads have reformed 'on stage' on a number of occasions, they have only reunited twice on a permanent basis.
In 1978, they regrouped for a series of shows at The London Palladium, material from one show was then compiled onto a live album the following year, “Thank You Very Much”. Cliff, by this point, had had some big hits as a solo act, and the setlist saw the likes of “Miss You Nights” and “Devil Woman” slotted in alongside material from the Shads (“Apache”) and the whole group (“The Young Ones”, “Move It”, etc).
In 2009, they regrouped again for a final tour. This time, to coincide, they went into the studio to re-record some of the old hits for an album called “Reunited”, which also included three new songs never before taped by the band. The album was issued in a box set, which came with a free three track EP with three more re-recordings, and a jigsaw! Bizarre as it may seem, Cliff repeated this novelty with the “Bold As Brass” solo album he recorded once the reunion was over. One of the three new songs, “Singing The Blues”, was issued as a single, which included three more re-recordings across the two formats available.
The reunion shows were a glorious blast from the past - no messing around with solo stuff from the 70's this time around. The setlists were inspired - for every megahit (“Travelling Light“), there was a not-so megahit (“Visions“), whilst Hank & Co got to do a few Cliff-less turns, including the likes of “Savage” which I saw them play at the O2, where I thought it was jawdroppingly incredible. A live DVD from the tour was issued in 2010, and that was it. Cliff And The Shadows, heartbreakingly, were no more.
Aside from the important releases detailed above, the list below consists of the original vinyl/CD releases for each of the live/studio sets issued by Cliff & The Shadows. Many of the albums were issued in both mono or stereo, and are listed where appropriate, but I have only listed the basic catalogue number. It is worth pointing out that in the late 1990’s, a handful of the albums issued in mono appeared on CD in mono, with the CD padded out with bonus stereo mixes (even for albums not originally issued in stereo), but all of these releases have now been deleted. How different the mono and stereo mixes sound, I honestly don’t know.
Similarly, several of the singles are old enough to have been issued in the days of the 78, and these are marked up. Again, only the basic catalogue number (of the 45) is listed. Any post 68 releases that included both pre-68 and post-68 material (ie. there’s an early 1991 single included outtakes from 1967) are not listed, on the basis that this material has subsequently been made available on Cliff compilations (such as the “Rare EP” release).
Cliff (Mono LP, Columbia 33SX 1147)
Cliff Sings (Mono LP, Columbia 33SX 1192)
Me And My Shadows (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1261)
Listen To Cliff (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1320)
21 Today (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1368)
The Young Ones (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1384)
32 Minutes And 17 Seconds (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1431)
Summer Holiday (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1472)
When In Spain (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1541)
Wonderful Life (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1628)
Aladdin (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1676)
Cliff Richard (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1709)
When In Rome (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1762)
Love Is Forever (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia 33SX 1769)
Kinda Latin (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia SX 6039)
Finders Keepers (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia SX 6079)
Cinderella (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia SX 6103)
Don’t Stop Me Now (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia SX 6133)
Good News (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia SX 6167)
Cliff In Japan (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia SX 6244)
Two A Penny (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia SX 6262)
Established 1958 (Mono/Stereo LP, Columbia SX 6282)
Thank You Very Much (LP, EMI EMTV 15)
Live At The ABC (CD, in standard and “deluxe” editions, EMI 7243 537342 2)
Reunited (2xCD, EMI 687 8752, includes free “I’m The Lonely One” CD EP)
Move It/Schoolboy Crush (78 or 7”, Columbia DB 4178)
High Class Baby/My Feet Hit The Ground (78 or 7”, Columbia DB 4203)
Livin Lovin Doll/Steady With You (78 or 7”, Columbia DB 4249)
Mean Streak/Never Mind (78 or 7”, Columbia DB 4290)
Living Doll/Apron Strings (78 or 7”, Columbia DB 4306)
Travellin Light/Dynamite (78 or 7”, Columbia DB 4351)
A Voice In The Wilderness/Don’t Be Mad At Me (78 or 7”, Columbia DB 4398)
Fall In Love With You/Willie & The Hand Jive (7”, Columbia DB 4431)
Please Don’t Tease/Where Is My Heart (7”, Columbia DB 4479)
Nine Times Out Of Ten/Thinking Of Our Love (7”, Columbia DB 4506)
D In Love/I Love You (7”, Columbia DB 4547)
Theme For A Dream/Mumbling Mosie (7”, Columbia DB 4593)
A Girl Like You/Now’s The Time To Fall In Love (7”, Columbia DB 4667)
When The Girl In Your Arms/Got A Funny Feeling (7”, Columbia DB 4716)
The Young Ones/We Say Yeah (7”, Columbia DB 4761)
Do You Want To Dance/I’m Looking Out The Window (7”, Columbia DB 4828)
It’ll Be Me/Since I Lost You (7”, Columbia DB 4886)
The Next Time/Bachelor Boy (7”, Columbia DB 4950)
Dancing Shoes/Summer Holiday (7”, Columbia DB 4977)
Lucky Lips/I Wonder (7”, Columbia DB 7034)
It’s All In The Game/Your Eyes Tell On You (7”, Columbia DB 7089)
Don’t Talk To Him/Say You’re Mine (7”, Columbia DB 7150)
I’m The Lonely One/Watch What You Do With My Baby (7”, Columbia DB 7203)
Constantly/True True Lovin (7”, Columbia DB 7272)
On The Beach/A Matter Of Moments (7”, Columbia DB 7305)
The Twelfth Of Never/I’m Afraid To Go Home (7”, Columbia DB 7372)
I Could Easily Fall/I’m In Love With You (7”, Columbia DB 7420)
This Was My Special Day/I’m Feeling Oh So Lovely (7”, Columbia DB 7435)
The Minute You’re Gone/Just Another Guy (7”, Columbia DB 7496)
On My Word/Just A Little Bit Too Late (7”, Columbia DB 7596)
The Time In Between/Look Before You Love (7”, Columbia DB 7660)
Wind Me Up/The Night (7”, Columbia DB 7745)
Blue Turns To Grey/Somebody Loses (7”, Columbia DB 7866)
Visions/What Would I Do (7”, Columbia DB 7968)
Time Drags By/La La La Song (7”, Columbia DB 8017)
Finders Keepers/In The Country (7”, Columbia DB 8094)
It’s All Over/Why Wasn’t I Born Rich (7”, Columbia DB 8150)
I’ll Come Runnin/I Get The Feeling (7”, Columbia DB 8210)
The Day I Met Marie/Our Story Book (7”, Columbia DB 8245)
All My Love/Sweet Little Jesus Boy (7”, Columbia DB 8293)
Congratulations/High N Dry (7”, Columbia DB 8376)
I’ll Love You Forever Today/Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon (7”, Columbia DB 8437)
Marianne/Mr Nice (7”, Columbia DB 8476)
Don’t Forget To Catch Me/What’s More I Don’t Need Her (7”, Columbia DB 8503)
Singing The Blues/A Voice In The Wilderness (2009) (CD, EMI 687 8852)
Singing The Blues/Dancing Shoes (2009)/We Say Yeah (2009) (7”, EMI 687 8877)
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
It all started off so innocently. Madonna sauntering through a genteel song called “This Used To Be My Playground”, and all of a sudden, we had “Erotica” and the “Sex” book. Whilst it was undoubtedly quite exciting watching a pop star strip off for fun (or art, as she claimed), it gave Madonna a bit of a reputation as a disturbed nymphomaniac, although anything that upsets The Daily Mail had to be good. It tended to damage her career slightly, and even Madonna herself in recent years thinks the book in particular was a possible mistake.
“Erotica” may well be one of the weaker albums in her back catalogue, but it’s not as bad as it’s reputation suggests. The so-called “explicit” version was only explicit because it included a re-mix of a song already on the album with a couple of rappers muttering inanely over the top - not one of the “proper” songs had to be edited for the so called “clean” versions. Indeed, re-review this period of Madonna’s career, and you will realise just how “pop” most of the “Erotica” singles actually were. In this article, I shall detail Madonna’s UK singles from the period, again mentioning any notable “oddities” from around the globe that I own where appropriate. Singles from 94 and 95 will be covered next month.
This Used To Be My Playground
Recorded for, but not on the soundtrack album of, the film “A League Of Their Own”, in which Madonna put in a decent comic turn alongside Geena Davis and Tom Hanks, this famously was the first Madonna song to have a title greater than five words in length. It was a lush ballad, which trundled along at a snails pace, and was as far removed from “Rescue Me” or “Erotica” as it was possible to get.
The single was not to be included on the next LP, but instead turned up on a compilation called “Barcelona Gold” (Warner Bros 7599-26974-2), a various artists set consisting of songs that were due to be played at the 1992 Special Olympics. Rather curiously, the album version was shorter than the so-called “short” mix on the single! Madonna had also contributed another song to a various artists set at the same time, as a remix of 1989 B-side “Supernatural” surfaced on the “Red Hot And Dance” charity collection (Epic 471821 4).
Madonna had also “released” another single at more or less the same time, “Shine A Light”. This single actually dated from the pre-Warner Brothers days, when Madonna was trying to make it as a drummer, then singer, with bands like The Breakfast Club and Emmy, and was released without her official say so. It appeared on the Receiver label on CD (Receiver RRSCD 1007), backed with “Little Boy“ and “On The Ground“, although planned vinyl picture discs were withdrawn from sale. It wasn’t the first “early years” release, but all of the others had been dreadful dance records made with an Otto Von Wernherr, with minmal Madonna involvement, making “Shine A Light” the first important release from the pre-1982 days. Madonna’s “new wave” days are probably worth an article in their own right, so we won’t go into more details here.
Since the release of “Rescue Me”, UK chart rules prevented an artist from issuing any more than four formats, and so “Playground” appeared on what would you might call the four standard formats of the time - 7”, 12”, Cassette and CD. The 12” and CD included an instrumental, which was longer than the “long” version which appeared as the B-side on all formats. The “short” mix later appeared as one of the US “Backtrax” CD Singles (Sire 9 15987-2) with “Hanky Panky”.
This Used To Be My Playground (Short Version)/(Long Version) (7”, Sire W 0122)
This Used To Be My Playground (Short Version)/(Long Version) (Cassette, Sire W 0122 C)
This Used To Be My Playground (Short Version)/(Instrumental)/(Long Version) (12”, Sire W 0122 T)
This Used To Be My Playground (Short Version)/(Instrumental)/(Long Version) (CD, Sire W 0122 CD)
The first single from the LP of the same name, the UK release of “Erotica” is both dull and exciting - depending on which formats you are looking at. The single was remixed to within an inch of it’s life over in the US, but the UK release was of little interest, as the remixes - I think - were completed too late for the UK market. So, all you got was a radio edit and an instrumental - and if you bought an extended play format, you got the album mix as a “bonus”. Ho hum.
The single was due to be issued as a 12” Picture Disc, and therefore, would have become Madonna’s first UK single to not be released as a black vinyl 12” - the single was already being issued on three other formats. The picture disc used the famous “toe-sucking” picture that was to be used on the rear of the album. However, there had recently been a toe-suck scandal involving a member of the Royal Family in the UK, and the release was pulled, as it was felt the image on the front of a single would have been a bit too controversial. Most copies were destroyed, but some survived and are now worth a fortune. Counterfeit copies exist, indeed if you see one being offered with a so-called “backing card”, it’s a bootleg - no backing inserts were produced, and the inserts offered with the counterfeit are actually just a proof of the picture disc image, which were produced in large numbers, and turned up at record fairs soon after for a tenner each. There is no track listing on the back, as far as I am aware, which also gives the game away, as all other Madonna picture discs with backing cards had the track details printed on the back.
One quote about how many survived was 138, but as the catalogue number of the picture disc was W0138TP, this seems astonishingly unlikely. Warners decided to press up a black vinyl 12” as the “official” fourth format, and it was pressed after the other formats had been produced, so ended up being released two weeks after the other formats - and thus coincided with the release of the album. All copies came with a free poster, and once they had sold out, that was it - had further copies been pressed minus poster, they would have been counted as a fifth format - and thus exempt from the chart. As such, the TW catalogue suffix, used to denote a 12” with poster by Warner Brothers, was printed not only on the sticker on the front but also on the rear sleeve and the labels of the 12” itself - the first Madonna single to do so. It also means that any copies without the poster are, therefore, worthless.
Some remixes of “Erotica” would turn up as B-sides of the “Bad Girl” single in 93, but at the time, the only other mix of the track to appear in the UK was the version with different lyrics known as “Erotic”, which was included on the one track UK promo CD that was tucked inside the “Sex” book (Maverick PRO CD 5648). An edited version of “Erotic” surfaced on a US promo CD (Maverick PRO CD 5665), whilst the US Promo 12” double pack offered up no less than eleven remixes (Maverick PRO A 5860), came in a unique picture sleeve, and included several mixes that did not get a commercial release at the time in the States.
Erotica (Radio Edit)/(Instrumental) (7”, Maverick W 0138)
Erotica (Radio Edit)/(Instrumental) (Cassette, Maverick W 0138 C)
Erotica (Radio Edit)/(LP Version)/(Instrumental) (CD, Maverick W 0138 CD)
Erotica (LP Version)/ (Instrumental)/(Radio Edit) (12” with free poster, Maverick W 0138 TW)
Erotica (LP Version)/ (Instrumental)/(Radio Edit) (Withdrawn 12" Picture Disc, Maverick W 0138 TP)
Deeper And Deeper
Despite being housed in yet another atrocious picture sleeve, “Deeper And Deeper” is a monumental pop record. None of the more “suggestive” songs would be issued as singles, so - the controversy about “Body Of Evidence” notwithstanding - the rehabilitation of Madonna, after the “Sex” book had caused the moral majority to want her hung drawn and quartered, began here.
Chart rules now allowed a UK single to include additional remixes on a single, as long as the playing time was kept to under 40 minutes, and the mixes were all of the A-side. No more than six mixes could be used, but that still gave the record company something to play with, and after the pointlessness of the “Erotica” UK 45, “Deeper And Deeper” came laden with remixes. The 7” and Cassette editions included an Instrumental mix, exclusive in the UK to those two formats, whilst the CD played the radio edit, and five mixes. The 12” Picture disc (pressed at 33rpm, not 45) showed on the front a stunning Madonna image from 1991, and replaced the edit with an additional remix. This meant that, despite the CD being the format of choice as regards album releases, it would have been possible to get hold of all seven mixes of the track released in the UK by buying the 7” and 12” copies only - vinyl, obviously, was not dead just yet.
The track was actually remixed multiple times for overseas releases. The US Promo 12” double pack (Maverick PRO A 5928) offered up the likes of the “Momo’s Fantasy” remix, whilst the accompanying US Promo CD (Maverick PRO CD 5896) included edited mixes of remixes from the double pack. In 1993, a Japanese CD EP was released that included six mixes (but not the six on the picture disc) along with mixes of “Erotica” and “Bad Girl” (Maverick WPCP 5244).
Deeper And Deeper (Album Edit)/(Instrumental) (7”, Maverick W 0146)
Deeper And Deeper (Album Edit)/(Instrumental) (Cassette, Maverick W 0146 C)
Deeper And Deeper (Album Edit)/(Shep’s Deep Makeover Mix)/(David’s Klub Mix)/(Shep’s Classic 12”)/(Shep’s Fierce Deeper Dub)/(Shep’s Deep Beats) (CD, Maverick W 0146 CD)
Deeper And Deeper (Shep‘s Classic 12“)/(Shep’s Deep Makeover Mix)/(Shep‘s Deep Beats)/(David’s Klub Mix)/(David’s Deeper Dub)/(Shep’s Deeper Dub) (12“ Picture Disc, Maverick W 0146 TP)
1993, and the “New” Madonna continued to try and be known for her music, not for her flashing of the flesh. She performed this song on “Saturday Night Live” - just her and her band, performing live, none of the stadium gimmicks she usually did on tour. The original version of the front cover of this single was actually a topless photo, so she hadn’t quite turned into Mary Whitehouse just yet.
The UK release of “Bad Girl” was used to showcase some of the ‘missing’ “Erotica” remixes, although for some reason, no attempt was made to put different mixes on different formats - so the remix on the B-side of the 7” was available on the 12” as well. The 12” and CD also featured identical track listings, meaning just three remixes made their debut in the UK here. Oh well, it was better than nothing, and it does at least make this single one of the more interesting of Madonna’s UK 45s.
In the US, the Maxi Single formats featured new B-sides, in the form of remixes of another album track, “Fever”, with the US 12” featuring an extended mix of “Bad Girl” along with the “Oscar G Dope Mix” of “Fever”, amongst others (Maverick 9 40793 0). The US CD included the “Hot Sweat 12-inch” mix of “Fever” (Maverick 9 40793 2), whilst in Germany, remixes of “Deeper And Deeper” formed the flipside, with the “Shep Deepstrumental” mix of said track appearing on both the 12” (Maverick 9362 40810 0) and the CD (Maverick 9362 40810 2). To try and counteract the appearance of the “Fever” remixes, Maverick in the UK scheduled “Fever” to be released in it’s own right as a single exactly one month after the release of “Bad Girl”.
Bad Girl (Edit)/Erotica (William Orbit Dub) (7”, Maverick W 0154)
Bad Girl (Edit)/Erotica (William Orbit Dub) (Cassette, Maverick W 0154 C)
Bad Girl (Edit)/Erotica (William Orbit 12“)/(William Orbit Dub)/(Madonna’s In My Jeep Mix) (CD, Maverick W 0154 CD)
Bad Girl/Erotica (William Orbit 12“)/(William Orbit Dub)/(Madonna’s In My Jeep Mix) (12“ with free poster, Maverick W 0154 TW)
Madonna’s Hi-NRG version of the song popularised by Peggy Lee, the UK release of the single made available many of the mixes issued on the US “Bad Girl” maxi’s, but not all of them. The decision to issue the 7” as a picture disc meant no black vinyl 7” was pressed - the first Madonna 45 to not appear in such a style, and an indicator of things to come. The picture disc was numbered, and came with a backing insert, and featured the “album edit“ on the A-side, and the “Radio Edit Remix” on the flip - the Cassette edition featured the same tracklisting.
As per “Deeper And Deeper”, the CD single included the album edit with five new mixes, the 12” replaced the album edit with the “Oscar G’s Dope Dub” mix. In France, the cassette edition mirrored the UK one but came inside a “longbox”, making it rather difficult to store (Maverick 5439 18534 4), but this paled in comparison to the US 12” Promo Double Pack, pressed on Red Vinyl in the “Bad Girl” sleeve (Maverick PRO A 6074), and home to numerous “commercially unavailable” remixes, such as the “Back To The Dub 2” mix. Last time I looked, this little beauty was worth £125, but that might have changed in recent times.
Fever (Album Edit)/(Radio Edit) (Numbered 7” Picture Disc, Maverick W 0168)
Fever (Album Edit)/(Radio Edit) (Cassette, Maverick W 0168 C)
Fever (Album Edit)/(Hot Sweat 12”)/(Extended 12”)/(Shep’s Remedy Dub)/(Murk Boys Miami Mix)/(Murk Miami Deep South Mix) (CD, Maverick W 0168 CD)
Fever (Hot Sweat 12”)/(Extended 12”)/(Shep’s Remedy Dub)/(Murk Boys Miami Mix)/(Murk Miami Deep South Mix)/(Oscar G’s Dope Dub) (12“, Maverick W 0168 T)
Final 45 in the UK to plug “Erotica”, “Rain” was released just as Madonna announced her “Girlie Show” tour dates for the fall of 1993. At the time, “Open Your Heart” had been used for a car ad in the UK, and thus became the B-side. “Waiting”, of the album, was the B-side in the US.
All formats featured a remixed version of the A-side, whilst the 12” and CD included what was to all intents and purposes a new song, “Up Down Suite”. The track was actually a remix of a song called “Goodbye To Innocence”, which had been tossed away on a US only compilation called “Just Say Roe”, the remix on the single was over ten minutes in length.
The 12” was only pressed up as a picture disc - no black vinyl copies were made. For some reason, it was 1-sided, with all three tracks appearing on the same side, so the disc had to play at 33rpm. This - to date - is the only UK Madonna 12" picture disc to be issued in such a style. In the US, “Rain” was issued in a different cover, with the US Maxi CD including a remix of “Waiting” that was not released in the UK (Maverick 9 40899 2). In France, the longbox cassette version had the ‘Edit Two’ mix of “Fever” as the b-side instead (Maverick 5439 18419 4), another mega rarity.
Rain (Remix Edit)/Open Your Heart (7”, Maverick W 0190)
Rain (Remix Edit)/Open Your Heart (Cassette, Maverick W 0190 C)
Rain (Remix Edit)/Open Your Heart/Up Down Suite (Dub) (CD, Maverick W 0190 CD)
Rain (Remix Edit)/Up Down Suite (Dub)/Open Your Heart (12” Picture Disc, Maverick W 0190 TP)
Monday, 4 July 2011
With rumours of a Girls Aloud comeback pencilled in for 2012, now’s as good a time as any to remind ourselves of one of the other leading lights of the “Future Pop” sound from the mid noughties. Rachel Stevens had served an apprenticeship as part of the rather cheesy S Club 7, and when the band split, the majority of them sunk into obscurity. Stevens remained one of only two of the group to stay in the world of pop, and although it has been nearly six years since her last LP, there are rumours that a third album is on the way. Certainly, go onto her website and amidst articles about restaurants and beauty tips, the two albums she released are mentioned quite proudly. And rightly so, because there were some major gems on both those records.
I have listed below, in release date order, the seven singles and two albums Stevens released between 2003 and 2005. Most releases were just available on one format, CD, but details of additional versions (and photos) are shown as well. Numerous promo releases also exist in different covers, but are not covered here.
Sweet Dreams My LA-Ex
(CD Single, Polydor 981 1875, some copies with poster [981 1874])
Stevens’ debut single, originally written for but passed on by Britney Spears, it was a fairly decent start to her solo career. Whilst the S Club singles had always been rather flimsy, this one was a great piece of “adult” pop, with a good vocal and a crunchy beat.
Despite the fact that multi-formatting of singles was always a surefire way of “fixing” yourself a good chart position, “Sweet Dreams” was only issued on one basic format, although limited edition copies of the single were released with a free poster, and came in a thick jewel case. But the track listing was the same on both editions. The single came backed with “Little Secret”, taken from the then forthcoming album, so the only real rarity was the “BMR Peaktime Mix” of “Sweet Dreams”, the third track on the CD. Last time I looked, the Wikipedia page for this single rather confusingly listed a third "European" edition, which featured a similar tracklisting, but it was never sold in the UK so quite why it's mentioned, I am really not too sure.
(CD, Polydor 986 5702)
The first album, issued late in September 2003. It’s title was borrowed from David Bowie’s 1971 LP, “Hunky Dory”, and was the recipient of some rather so-so reviews, the general consensus being that there was too much filler on the record. Whatever the faults, you can’t deny it came in a superb picture sleeve.
“Sweet Dreams” both opened and closed the record, with a bonus Bimbo Jones mix of the track appearing at the end. As was often the case with 'pure pop' acts, Stevens had little involvement in the writing process, with various guest writers and producers helping to put the album together. It went into the top 10, and by now, Stevens was starting to garner interest from the lads mags, who would never have admitted liking S Club (although they did do an FHM shoot), and would soon find herself stripping off for the cameras as often as she released a single! She has even done an FHM shoot between the release of the last album and the date of this very blog, and still seems to feature in their "100 Sexiest" list every year, despite effectively being AWOL from the pop scene.
(CD Single, Polydor 981 4984)
The title track of the album, issued as single number 2 later the same year. The single took elements, both musically and lyrically, from Bowie’s “Andy Warhol” - also to be found on his “Hunky Dory” LP. The version used for the single was a different mix to that which had appeared on the LP.
For the second time, the B-side was lifted from the album (“I Got The Money”), but VFM was provided with a “Vertigo Vocal Mix” of the a-side, along with the video on the CD-Rom section of the disc. Numerous other mixes turned up on promo only releases, none of which have ever been commercially released.
(CD Single, Polydor 986 7433)
An absolute belter of a single, very Goldfrapp, and the best thing Stevens has ever recorded. It was produced by the at-the-time hip producer Richard X, who had earlier worked with Liberty X on their ‘mash up’ hit, “Being Nobody”. “Some Girls” was a standard production, but sounded like it had been teleported in from outer space, and remains a work of genius to this very day.
The song was a new recording, not on “Funky Dory”, recorded specifically for the Sport Relief charity. However, quite what a song about pop stars doing unspeakable things to record execs in order to further their career has to do with the 100 metres, I have no idea. Stevens later claimed she had no idea that lyrics like “the champagne always makes it taste better” had any sexual references. The video featured sport stars in the clip, rather than any sex scenes, BTW.
“Some Girls” was the first Stevens single to include a proper B-side, “Spin That Bottle”, along with the video and the “Sharp Boys Hot Fridge Vocal” mix of the A-side.
Funky Dory: Reissue
(CD, Polydor 986 7503)
An expanded reissue of the original LP, specifically to include “Some Girls” in the track listing. The reissue used a rather plain cover when compared to the original, and indeed, the entire CD booklet came with new photos second time around. Just as the original had opened and closed with the same song, so did this reissue, as the original version and a remix of “Some Girls” were used to bookend the record.
There were other differences second time around. The original version of “Funky Dory” was replaced by the single version, whilst a new mix of “Breathe In Breathe Out” replaced the original. The remix of “Sweet Dreams” from the original was removed, but a second new song, a cover of the Andrea True Connection disco single “More More More” was included instead.
More More More
(CD1, Polydor 986 8324, CD2, Polydor 986 8325)
I never cared to much for the original, but Stevens gives a faithful, and quite fun, rendition of this old hit. Not the first female pop act to cover it (Bananarama got there first), it became the first Stevens single to be issued on two different CD singles, with alternate covers and varying track listings. Each future single thereafter would all be issued in at least two different versions.
The version on the single was a different mix to the LP version. CD1 came backed with another new song, “Shoulda Thought Of That”, CD2 included a different mix of the “Funky Dory” album track, “Fools”, recorded for the soundtrack of “The Princess Diaries 2”. Also included was the video and the “Sharp Boys Sky’s The Limit" remix.
Negotiate With Love
(CD1, Polydor 987 0783, CD2, Polydor 987 0784)
2005, and the first of three singles to be released in the run up to Stevens’ second album, the critically lauded “Come And Get It”. After the electro rush of “Some Girls”, and the camp romp of “More More More”, this was a bit more refined - Stevens phrasing was described by Stylus Magazine in a review of the album as being “marvellous”, and this must have been one of the songs they were referring to - imagine a posh librarian having a crack at a singing a Girls Aloud tune.
The first CD includes the “Europa XL Vocal Mix Edit” version of “Some Girls”, whilst the second was something of a bumper release - a b-side, “Queen”, the “Love To Inifinity Edit” of the a-side, and an enhanced CD-Rom section with two versions of the video, a ringtone and a game - subsequent singles offered similar goodies on their respective enhanced sections as well.
(CD1, Polydor 987 2236, CD2 Polydor 987 2237)
Two CD Singles again, two different sleeves. “So Good” was a bit more upbeat than it’s predecessor, with something of a “hands in the air” rave-style chorus. Once more, there was a non album B-side, “Never Go Back” on this release, which appeared on CD1. Both CD’s include an edited version of the a-side.
The first CD added the “Aurora Vocal Mix” of the a-side, along with another bumper enhanced section. CD2 includes the “Milky Vocal Mix” of “Breathe In Breathe Out”. The decision with this and other singles to only include one b-side on one of the CD’s was part of a chart regulatory directive, to try and boost single sales - the second CD could only have one extra track, but the price would therefore be kept to under £2. It never really worked, as certain indie labels were already issuing 3 track singles at £2 before this rule was introduced, and there was a feeling people were actually getting LESS value for money than before. As such, we ended up with the depressing download culture we have today, as record labels more or less abandoned the physical single as the noughties progressed due to declining sales.
I Said Never Again But Here We Are
(CD1, Polydor 987 4239, CD2, Polydor 987 4240, 12”, Polydor 987 4407)
My lords, what a single. If Rachel never records again, what a stormer of a 45 to leave the music world on. “I Said Never Again” was a monumental pop record, loud and brash, the sort of record Westlife could never make even if you threatened to take their stools away.
Although there had been promo releases on vinyl for earlier Rachel singles, this one was the first (and, probably the last) Stevens single to be released on 12”. The 12” used the same sleeve as CD1. CD1 includes “Waiting Game” on the b-side, whilst the 12” includes the “Jewels And Stone Extended Mix” and the “Instrumental” version of the a-side.
CD2, in it’s unique sleeve, included a “brand new album track”, as billed on the cover, which made it sound more exciting than it seemed - in English, it was just a track of the forthcoming LP, “Dumb Dumb”. The “Bimbo Jones Extended Mix” of the A-side completed the disc, along with the now obligatory enhanced section.
Come And Get It
(CD+DVD, Polydor 9874712)
And so to what - at present - is Rachel’s last stand. Her 2nd album, issued at the tail end of 2005, was the subject of excited reviews, but for some reason, there was a certain level of disinterest in her career by the mainstream media by this point. This possibly explains why Polydor issued three singles BEFORE it’s release, in an attempt to try and hype the album up.
Other tricks to try and “sell” the record to the public were carried out. “Some Girls” was included on the LP, despite having already been included on the reissued “Funky Dory”, and the free DVD with all of Rachel’s videos to date was heavily plugged, with a sticker on the front exclaiming that the DVD included “Sweet Dreams”, to try and lure the floating voters in. The aforementioned "Dumb Dumb" was one of two "UK Bonus Tracks" tagged on at the end, another trick by the record labels to stop UK record buyers from buying cheaper import copies on websites like CD Wow - these import copies did not include the bonus tracks.
It obviously wasn’t planned at the time, but given that Stevens has released no more music since the albums' release, it means the DVD is actually a complete visual document of her solo singles - very nice. And although there are stories of Stevens entering the studio again in 2010, the problem is we are now halfway through 2011, so these stories are off the mark, or she is doing a “Scott Walker”. So, until either Stevens or Girls Aloud do actually return, we only really have The Saturdays flying the British Future Pop flag. It would be nice if Rachel and a few others could rejoin them again.
Sunday, 3 July 2011
Earlier this year, I did an article looking at The Floyd on 45, and suggested that 2001’s best-of set “Echoes” was really the last word on the band. Famous last words. Later this year, the band are issuing another collection, “A Foot In The Door”. There is something remarkably cheeky about a band who have recorded NO NEW MATERIAL since their last best-of, issuing another one.
In addition to this, the band are re-releasing their 14 studio albums (including the half live/half studio “Ummagumma”) once more. The strange thing is, that with the exception of their three most famous albums (not necessarily their three best), none are being issued with extra tracks. These bog standard reissues are being referred to as “Discovery” editions, presumably on the basis that they are being pitched at newcomers, but there is still something strange about albums you can pick up on Amazon for a fiver being repackaged in the Ten Quid price range. I think it has something to do with them being made available on iTunes for the first time, so they have to be reissued, blah blah blah.
Whilst the hardcore will undoubtedly be interested in the CD Box Set that is being issued with all 14 releases in, it may simply be cheaper to buy any of the multitude of existing pressings that can often be picked up quite easily. In this article, I shall look at the Floyd’s albums - including the live releases that are not being reissued this time around - and for each release, will detail one or two formats from my own personal collection.
The band’s debut album - with the Barrett/Waters/Wright/Mason lineup - was issued in 1967. “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” is a psychedelic masterpiece, recorded at the same time as The Beatles’ “Sgt Pepper”. Paul and Co reportedly came by the studio on at least one occasion to see what the band were up to, and then apparently “borrowed” certain ideas for their own record. Many psych fans will tell you that as good as “Sgt Pepper” is, “Piper” is much better. It’s not quite perfect - it goes a bit “hey nonny no” on side 2 with “The Gnome” and “Scarecrow”, but the space rock roar of “Astronomy Domine”, the freak out madness of “Interstellar Overdrive” and the sheer speaker-shattering noise of “Take Up Thy Stethoscope And Walk” are mindblowing. The album was issued in both mono and stereo, the latter featuring a noticeably different mixes of “Overdrive” and "Stethoscope", but the mono edition fell out of print.
The stereo one was reissued again and again, including a release on EMI’s budget label Fame in the early 80’s (LP, Fame FA 3065), but it took until 1997 for the mono mix to debut on CD. This edition came in a strange green box, with an out-of-focus reprint of the original cover inside a circle on the back of the box. No doubt this all means something “artistic”, but it’s lost on me. This edition (CD, EMI CDEMD 111) also included a lyric booklet and a set of Pink Floyd prints - which strangely covered the whole career of the band, not just the 1967 period - so you get the picture of the naked women with Floyd album covers on their backs that was used to plug the reissues campaign that took place in the mid 1990’s. The album was issued again in 2007 as a triple CD, with disc 1 in mono, disc 2 in stereo, and a third disc of period A and B sides, plus a couple of previously unissued alternate takes. This edition came in another fancy package, this time with the original front cover surrounded by a thick red border.
The band began work on their second album later the same year, but Barrett’s drug use was affecting his everyday abilities. Gigs became shambolic, as Barrett would sometimes be so out of it, he would just stand on stage and stare, failing to either sing or play guitar. The recording sessions for the album suffered from the same problem. Dave Gilmour was brought in as backup, able to sing and play if Barrett stopped dead, and he also helped out on the second album. Eventually, Barrett was forced out the band - the group simply failed to collect him from his house for a gig they had booked, and Gilmour became his replacement. 1968’s “A Saucerful Of Secrets” thus included Gilmour on some songs, Barrett on others, and both men on “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”. Again, it was available in both mono and stereo, but the mono edition soon went out of print. Original stereo copies are worth a fortune, but Columbia reissued the album during the 70’s, and later editions are noticeable by their different colour label (yellow, not black) and the fact that they come in an unlaminated, non-flipback sleeve (LP, Columbia SCX 6258). Later, once the band had started to release material on the Harvest label, the first two albums were reissued as a double vinyl LP called “A Nice Pair” (2xLP, Harvest SHDW 403), presumably to try and separate the Barrett era Floyd from the more proggy Floyd that followed.
A month after “Secrets” hit the stores, a “new” Floyd recording surfaced on the soundtrack LP “Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London”. A re-recorded version of “Interstellar Overdrive” was included on the record, but only 3 minutes of what was actually a 17 minute long re-take was included. Two short sections from the re-take were also included on side 2 of the record. In 1990, a CD reissue of the album included the full 17 minute version, plus another previously unheard track, “Nick’s Boogie”. These recordings later appeared on what you might call “proper” Pink Floyd releases - they were used as the soundtrack on the VHS release “London 66-67”, whilst both songs appeared on a mini album released on CD a couple of years ago titled “London 66/67” (Pucka SMACD 924 X), both of which included the two Floyd tracks and nothing else.
The Gilmour Years
With Barrett now fully out of the lineup, the new four man Floyd set off on a series of slightly odd releases. First up was the 1969 soundtrack album to the film “More”. Now, I have never seen the film, so I can’t say whether or not the track listing runs in the same order in which the songs appear in the movie, but it’s an unbalanced listen. Most of the second half of the record is instrumental, which gives it a bit of a disjointed and uneven listen - as the album drags on, it really does sound like a soundtrack album and not a Floyd album. It would have made more sense if the majestic “Cymbaline” could have closed proceedings, instead of being dumped somewhere on side 1. Despite it’s slightly ho-hum feel, several of the songs made it into the Floyd’s live set at the time. Various reissues have referred to it as “More” or “Music From The Film More” - the 1995 reissue on CD (CD, EMI CDEMD 1084) actually has “Music From” on the spine, but “Soundtrack From The Film More” on the back cover.
Not much better was “Ummagumma”, issued later the same year (2xLP, Harvest SHDW 1/2). A double vinyl release, the first half was recorded live, but the second half saw each band member given half a side of vinyl to indulge - and indulge they did. Nick Mason did what was basically a long drum solo, Wright came up with some tuneless nonsense called “Sysyphus”. Waters came off best, providing the band with their best ever song title (“Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict”) and a proper song, a work of beauty called “Grantchester Meadows”. Incredibly, part of Mason’s song, “The Grand Vizier’s Garden Party”, also made it into the Floyd live set soon after.
The CD edition of the album came out in 1994 (CD, EMI CDEMD 1074). It was significantly different from the vinyl release. First up, each half of the record came in it’s own case, thereby making the “Live” and “Studio” parts separate albums. The back cover of the vinyl became the front of the second CD. No longer did you not have to feel guilty about only listening to the live half. The two cases were then housed in a green box set, with a poster of the album cover tucked in the middle. The original album cover featured, top left, a mirror within which was printed the same “cover” but with each band member in a different place. Then, inside that image, top left, was a mirror which featured the cover with each member in a different place, etc, etc, thus creating a recursion effect. Four “images” were shown inside the mirror on the vinyl original, the final image was a picture of the “Secrets” album cover. For the CD, the box had a rectangle cut away to reveal only the “mirror” part of the sleeve, and the recursion effect was infinite, rather than being just five images in depth. Musically, “Sysyphus” was longer on CD than vinyl - not sure if the gaps between the four parts were extended, if it was mastered at a slower pace, or if there is simply an additional piece of music included, but I have timed both formats and - yes - the vinyl mix is 30 seconds shorter. Thankfully.
It was back to the soundtracks at the start of 1970, as the Floyd contributed three new songs to the “Zabriskie Point” LP - although “Come In Number 51” was a re-recording of an old B-side, “Careful With That Axe Eugene”. For the next quarter of a century, these songs remained amongst the rarest of all the Floyd tunes, but a much hyped 1997 CD reissue (2xCD, EMI Premier Soundtracks 823 3642) made them available again - a release which even included four previously unreleased Floyd recordings as bonus tracks.
Floyd’s slightly shabby albums continued with 1970’s “Atom Heart Mother”. I will admit, I’ve always had a soft spot for this one, but each band member has slagged it off at various times over the years. The first side of the record featured a 23 minute long instrumental often referred to as the “Atom Heart Mother Suite”. It features the band with the Abbey Road Session Pops Orchestra and The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, with the result that at times, the band get drowned out by the extra players!
It’s all a bit more pop on side 2, with some truly majestic work on “Summer 68” and “Fat Old Sun”, whilst the record ends with the genius of “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast”, a 3-part 13 minute jam interspersed with recordings of the band’s roadie talking about - and preparing - breakfast. On the original cassette release (Cassette, Harvest TC-SHVL 781), the track “If” was included on both sides of the record, to ensure that each side of the tape was the same length. The reason for this was so that at the end of the album, if you wanted to play the LP again, you could just turn the tape over, rather than having to fast forward to the end of side 2 first. “AHM”, like a lot of Floyd albums, featured neither the band name nor title on the cover, but US copies did include both on the front, a situation repeated on the late 80’s US CD edition (CD, Capitol CDP 7 46381 2).
It was with 1971’s “Meddle” that the post-Barrett line up finally created their first classic album. The prog elements that had been toyed with on the three previous album efforts were finally polished into something more cohesive, and gave their band their best album since “Piper”. The propulsive rumble of “One Of These Days”, the beautiful Neil Young-esque “Fearless”, the epic shape shifting of “Echoes”, this was an album to cherish. UK copies once more featured no band name or title on the front, but US versions, including late 80’s CD editions (CD, Capitol CDP 7 46034 2) did.
It’s follow up was a bit more patchy, as the band returned to the world of the soundtrack. This time, it was for a film called “The Valley” but the band decided to title the album “Obscured By Clouds”. It’s a decent effort, but there are no 20-minute wig out tracks here, everything is about four or five minutes in length, and the result of this is that you have an album that at times sounds underwhelming. Just as songs start to get going, they fade out. It does sound - again - more like a soundtrack than a Pink Floyd album, but it’s not a disaster - it’s just that if each song had lasted twice as long, and it had been a double album, then the opportunity for a bit more expression could have come through. Again, US editions including the 1980’s CD version (CD, Capitol CDP 7 46385 2) add the band name and title to the cover, unlike the UK originals.
And so we finally come to the biggie - “Dark Side Of The Moon”. Arguably the band’s most famous album, certainly their biggest selling, it surfaced in 1973 despite having been more or less completed the previous year. It’s the first of three reissues this year which will come in 2-disc “Experience” and multi-disc “Immersion” editions. It was the first Floyd album to be issued as a concept album, primarily dealing with the themes of madness and lunacy. It was effectively ten short numbers merged into two long sections, meaning that there was little scope for extended jams or instrumental workouts, unlike on “Piper” and “Meddle”, but a couple of the songs were short instrumental pieces, which helped to give the album some depth. The album’s selling point, apart from it’s single recurring theme, was the use of tape effects and synthesisers, giving the album - to a first time listener - a bit of a space age feel.
The original album came in a famous “prism” cover, and sat on the charts on both sides of the Atlantic for years. It has since been reissued several times. It was included, at the end of the 80’s, in a US only 4-CD set called “Pink Floyd Gift Box” (4xCD, Capitol G2-91340) with reissues of “AHM”, “Meddle” and “Clouds”, and then appeared in 1993 in a new prism cover to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary - with the prism ‘coloured in’. There was a 2003 edition, pressed on a hybrid CD/SACD format (which never quite took off), with - I am told - a new mix on the SACD layer, and came in a bit of a horrible sleeve (CD, EMI 582 1362), with the prism image overlayed over what I can only describe as what looks like a scene from a Lord Of The Rings film. “DSOTM” is a good album, although over familiarity has deadened it’s effect a bit over the years, but the lack of extended instrumental freakouts does sometimes make it feel like it’s an album of potential hit singles, rather than a truly progressive album (“Money”, let’s be honest, is a bit clunky at times). It is still deserving though of it’s forthcoming box set treatment.
The band took to playing the album in it’s entirety on the tour that followed, something they would do for each future album until the start of the 1980’s. The touring aspect took up quite a bit of the band’s time, meaning that the gap between new albums started to increase. It was not until 1975 that the band’s next studio album would surface. If you are too cool to admit liking “DSOTM”, then the Floyd record to name check is “Wish You Were Here”. It saw a return to longer pieces, with plenty of direction changes mid-song and instrumental pieces - primarily on the epic “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, which was split into two halves, used to bookend the album. There was not really a single theme for the record this time around, but both the title track and “Shine On” made references to the mental state of former singer Syd Barrett. During the recording sessions, Barrett famously turned up unannounced, but looked so unlike his former self, that nobody recognised him, and each band member had just assumed somebody had invited one of their friends along. Barrett was clearly out of it, and was bald and overweight, and his appearance was so upsetting that several people in the studio were later reported to have broken down in tears upon seeing him.
Although “Shine On” made the most explicit references to Barrett, the title track had several pointers, including a lyrical steal from a Barrett solo song. The first line, where Gilmour croaks into life with the line “So, so you think you can tell, heaven from hell” after a gorgeous acoustic opening, remains one of the most heartbreaking things you will ever hear on record. With it’s sad lyrical references, keyboard driven soundscapes, and plenty of tape effects, “WYWH” is an astonishing listen, and is regarded by some - myself included - as the band’s defining masterpiece.
The album was originally released in an iconic cover, a picture of two men shaking hands, with flames emitting from one of the men, shot in a Warner Brothers studio in LA. However, the album was then packaged in a black cover, with a Pink Floyd “elements logo” in the centre, thus making the official cover “hidden“. When the album was issued on CD in 80’s, the black logo image was used for the cover (CD, Harvest CDP 7 46035 2) but the 1994 reissue reverted to the “flaming man” sleeve. The forthcoming reissue sees the 1-disc edition in the “flaming man” sleeve, the 2-disc in the “logo” sleeve, and the box set in a new sleeve. If you want a cheap “logo” sleeve copy on CD, be warned that some discs have become the subject of ‘bronzing’ and are no longer playable.
The band’s next album was 1977’s “Animals”, a record possibly more well known for it’s cover (an inflatable pig “flying” over Battersea Power Station) than it’s musical content. It’s theme dealt with class - based on the concept in “Animal Farm” that different elements of society were sometimes referred to as dogs or sheep. Each song on the album featured an animal name in the title (“Pigs On The Wing 1”, “Dogs” and indeed “Sheep”), and again consisted mostly of songs ten-fifteen minutes in length. Possibly sensing the approach of punk, the album had a more guitar based feel than “WYWH”, and often felt a lot more punchier and aggressive. It was reissued on CD in the 1980’s (CD, Harvest CDP 7 46128 2).
The band, by now, were superstars pretty much everywhere, and headed off into the enormodromes for the forthcoming “In The Flesh” tour. Famously, Waters lost it during the final show of the tour, when he became irritated by the “boorish behaviour” of some fans in the front row, and promptly spat in the face of one fan who was advancing towards the stage. Whilst he obviously regretted the incident, Waters later explained how it was the feeling of alienation he had experienced during the tour that had caused him to snap, and talked about how he would happily tour again but would love it if there was a wall between him and the crowd. This concept would provide the inspiration for the next album.
The End Of The Waters Years
“The Wall” was a double album dealing with the theme of isolation, with Waters writing most of the material. It was the band’s first studio album to be released as a double, but like “DSOTM”, many of the songs were relatively short, so once more, the opportunity for extended instrumental jams or songs changing direction halfway, were more or less absent. “The Wall” became one of the band’s biggest albums, helped along with a hit single in the form of “Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)”, and is the third of the planned deluxe reissues, this one due next year. I have always found the album to be somewhat flawed - at times, it seems a bit too “pop”, over-produced even, as if the band felt that post-Punk, they should no longer do 20 minute wig outs. Of course there are moments of genius, but it’s simply not as good as “Meddle” and nowhere near as good as “Piper”.
When the record was first released, it came in a simple sleeve featuring nothing more than a white brick wall drawing, but the 1985 double-CD release (2xCD, EMI CDS 46036 2), added both the band name and album title to the front. The album had originally been planned to be close to 90 minutes in length, but concerns over putting such a long album onto a pair of slabs of vinyl, resulted in two songs being pulled from the album. When the band played the album in it’s entirety during shows in 1980 and 81, the two missing songs “What Shall We Do Now” and “The Last Few Bricks”, were introduced into the set. A live album compiled from performances from this tour was issued in 2000, titled “Is There Anybody Out There”, and of course included these songs, which thus made their official debut on a Pink Floyd record. This release was issued as both a standard double CD set, and a special edition version housed in a hardback slipcase (2xCD, EMI 523 5622), with the two CD’s tucked inside a fancy colour booklet. The forthcoming deluxe reissue of “The Wall” will include this album as part of the pack.
The performances of “The Wall” onstage, famously, saw a cardboard wall built up on stage as the band played, and that by the time they approached the final quarter, most of the stage was covered in bricks with the band barely visible as they were hidden behind it - Waters had achieved his dream of being isolated from the audience. During the second from last song, “The Trial”, the wall was then knocked down and the band were back in full view again. Because of the length of the album, there was no time for an encore, and thus no “old” material was played at all during the tour. As the band took to the stage for the first show in Los Angeles on 7th February 1980, Waters had already fallen out with Rick Wright, and had forced him to resign from the band before the tour started. He played on every show on the tour, but purely as a salaried musician, and after the final show at Earls Court on 17th June 1981, Wright officially left the band.
“The Wall”, despite my reservations, became a big part of the band’s career - so much so, that a movie was made. A soundtrack album was planned, due to consist of new songs and reworked “Wall” material. In 1982, “When The Tigers Broke Free” was issued as a single, but would turn out to be as far as the soundtrack album would get. Instead, the breakout of the Falklands War offended Waters so much, he decided to rework some of the planned material into a new album, the anti-war “The Final Cut”. This didn’t go down too well with Gilmour, who was neither sure about the Floyd “going political”, nor about the offcuts from the original “Wall” writing sessions featuring heavily in the new record. “The Final Cut”, thus, is often thought of as being a Waters solo record in all but name, with Waters writing everything on the album, and Gilmour only getting to sing lead on one song, “Not Now John”. The album went to number 1, but critics - like Gilmour - were unsure. Again, it has it’s moments, and I have returned to the album many times over the years, but it still sounds like a poor man’s “The Wall” at times. It was given a bit of a low key CD reissue in 2004 (CD, Harvest 576 7342), with “Tigers” added as a bonus track, having been left off the original 1983 release.
1987 And Beyond
There was no tour to support “The Final Cut“, perhaps Waters saw no need to put himself through the stress of the 77 tour again, and soon after, announced he was quitting the band. By doing so, he assumed Pink Floyd would be no more, but both Gilmour and Mason wanted to record again, and saw no reason why they shouldn’t use the Pink Floyd name. Waters claimed that he owned the rights, having formed the band with Syd Barrett, but there was a big question mark over this, and Gilmour and Mason went into the studio in 86 to work on what would become the 13th studio album, “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”, released the following year (CD, EMI CDEMD 1003). The legal issues over the ownership of the name were resolved at the end of 87, but it created bad blood between Waters and the rest of the group, bad blood that would remain for the best part of twenty years.
More legal issues meant that although Rick Wright was on the record, he was only credited as a session musician, and would only rejoin the band officially when the band hit the road. The album was a sleeker affair than anything the band had done previously, there was even a hit single on there in the form of “On The Turning Away”, but there did seem to be an attempt to return more towards the “soundscape” feel of those early 70’s records. Waters thought the album was rubbish, unsurprisingly, whilst many critics were not much more welcoming in their opinions.
The trio of Gilmour, Mason and Wright toured during 87 and 88, and a live album from a series of shows in August 1988 was issued as “Delicate Sound Of Thunder”. The album was released on double vinyl (2xLP, EMI EQ 5009), cassette and CD, with a live version of “Us And Them” making the latter two formats only. A live video culled from the same shows appeared at the same time, but in a different cover, with a slightly altered track listing. Some songs on the audio release were absent from the video (and vice versa), but where a song appeared on both, the performance on each format was from the same gig. “Us And Them” appeared on the video, for anybody who had missed it on the vinyl release.
The first studio material the “new” line up recorded was for a video called “La Carrera Panamericana”, a video of the automobile race of the same name, in which both Gilmour and Mason competed, with new Floyd material on the soundtrack - no actual soundtrack album was issued, though. The first studio album to include Wright was 1994’s “The Division Bell” (CD, EMI CDEMD 1055), an album which again recalled the sleekness of “Reason”, but seemed to be just that bit more “prog” - the average length of each song was six minutes in length (“Reason” was only five), whilst the album closer, the epic and beautiful “High Hopes”, was as good as anything the band had ever recorded - but the album still received a similar slagging a la “Reason”.
Although they had not initially intended to tour, the band did so on the basis that they would try to do something a little bit different. The band decided to open the shows with the first song from the first LP, “Astronomy Domine”, the first time they had played it for decades, and by the summer of 94, decided to alter the set from night to night, by making the decision to perform “Dark Side Of The Moon” in it’s entirety for the first time since 75 on selected nights. If the band opened with “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” instead of “Astronomy Domine”, it meant “Dark Side” would later be played in full.
The UK leg of the tour consisted of a residency at Earls Court in October. Some shows featured “Dark Side”, some didn’t. Every time a show sold out, another one was added, and in the end, fifteen shows were planned, nine of which saw “Dark Side” played in full. The first show, on October 12th, opened with “Shine On” suggesting a “Dark Side” performance was forthcoming, but during the opening number, seating at the back of the venue collapsed, and the show was abandoned, being rescheduled for the 17th - which saw the band open with “Domine”, and thus failing to play “Dark Side”. I witnessed a “Domine” show on the 26th, and the final gig took place on the 29th, with “Dark Side” getting an outing. It would turn out to be the final gig, until the Live 8 show with Waters back on board in 2005.
The Earls Court show from the 20th was filmed for TV, and was later released on VHS as “Pulse”. An accompanying live album of the same name was also issued, although this featured material from other shows on the tour, and included not only “Dark Side” in full, but also “Astronomy Domine” - making the album release longer than the actual gigs it was representing. The CD edition came in a much hyped box, with a flashing LED light, but when the light ran out of power, you was left with a box with a faulty light on the side. It was the cassette edition (2xCassette, EMI TCEMD 1078) that was actually the biggie. Not only did it include a live version of “One Of These Days” that was absent from the CD, but the running time resulted in there being a 22 minute gap at the end. This was resolved by including a track called “Soundscape” at the end, an instrumental the band had taped that was used as the show opener. Unavailable on any other format, it remains - to date - the final Floyd studio recording to be released.
And that’s it. There have been reissues, compilations, and other bits and pieces (including an official release of the Live 8 gig) but the death of Syd in 2006, and Rick in 2008, are indications of a band for whom reunion options are diminishing. All three remaining members recently shared a stage together during one of Waters’ solo shows, but it’s been termed as a one off. However, I look forward to the band’s next best of in 2021, and to be fair, they are so good, they deserve to milk this back catalogue.
Anybody who recorded “Echoes” are a bunch of geniuses in my book.