Sunday, 17 April 2011
Friday, 15 April 2011
Like many other of their 60’s counterparts, The Kinks recorded quite a number of “new” songs for their single releases. Some of these singles, amongst the most brilliant and iconic recorded by anybody, never found a home on an original Kinks LP, and only made it on an album when the band began issuing Greatest Hits sets. In recent years, the band’s album back catalogue has been reissued, with many versions bolstered by extra tracks. Virtually everything the band issued on 45 - A side or B side - got hoovered up onto these re-releases, but there were odd exceptions.
Furthermore, so famous were some of these songs, that after the band left Pye at the start of the Seventies, many of them were later reissued by a variety of labels. It means that, if you can track down all the B-sides on CD, you then have - for certain singles - a choice of which version to buy. In this blog, I shall detail some of the places where the non-album material was later released, and shall also look at which songs were later reissued (or in the odd instance, which B-sides were issued) as singles post 1971. The band’s pre-1970 EP’s are excluded from the list, as getting them is quite easy (just buy “The EP Collection” boxset), but are mentioned where appropriate.
Long Tall Sally/I Took My Baby Home (Pye 7N 15611)
You Still Want Me/You Do Something To Me (Pye 7N 15636)
Once The Kinks had got a few hits under their belt, there started a steady stream of greatest hits collections. Many of them included “You Really Got Me” as the earliest recording, which would lead the uneducated to believe it had been their debut 45. It was not. This pair of singles marked the start of the band’s recording career, and both were spectacular flops. “I Took My Baby Home” later appeared on the band’s 1964 debut LP, “Kinks”, whilst the other three recordings remained exclusive to these singles in the UK for some years, until the “Yesteryear” EP from 1978 (Pye AMEP 1001) put all four songs onto a single disc.
A foreign EP, later made available in the UK in the “EP Collection 2” boxset, included the three rarities, and after 1997’s “The Singles Collection” became pretty much the first best-of to include “Sally” and “You Still Want Me”, all three of these tracks made it onto the expanded 1998 reissue of the debut album.
You Really Got Me/It’s Alright (Pye 7N 15673)
The band’s breakthrough moment, with one of the most famous guitar riffs of all time. “You Really Got Me” was lifted from “Kinks” and came backed with a new B-side, which later made it onto the expanded version of the album. Being such an iconic song, it’s no surprise that “You Really Got Me” has surfaced again on various “reissue” singles.
The first such re-release was 1971’s “Mini Monster” (Pye PMM100), a 4 track maxi single which came in a specially designed die cut sleeve. It included “YRGM”, “Set Me Free”, “Wonderboy” and “Long Tall Shorty”. In 1979, the track was reissued again as a more standard 7“ (Pye FBS1) and again in 1980 by a different label (RK RK1027). The most essential of all the releases was the 1983 release on the PRT label (PRT KD1) - this reissue came on a variety of different formats, and all included a bizarre medley of “YRGM” and “All Day And All Of The Night”, which remains unique to this single. The song was reissued again on the Old Gold label in 1984 on 7”, (Old Gold OG 9408), and then on 3” CD in 1988 (Old Gold OG 6102).
To celebrate it’s 40th anniversary, the single was reissued with the original B-side on 7” in 2004, housed in a Pye sleeve with a Pye label, but released by Sanctuary (Sanctuary SANSI 317). A CD single was also released, in a new picture sleeve with “Misty Water” as a second bonus track (Sanctuary SAND317).
All Day And All Of The Night/I Gotta Move (Pye 7N 15714)
Following the release of “Kinks”, the band released this stand alone 45, consisting of a pair of new songs. The a-side became another iconic Kinks moment, complete with another famous guitar riff, and both this and “You Really Got Me” became concert favourites right up until the end of the band’s career. Both sides of these two singles were later compiled on a UK EP, “Kinksize Hits”, presumably in an attempt to lure in people who liked the songs, but for some reason hadn’t bought them when they were first released. It is one of the UK EP‘s reissued inside the “EP Collection“ boxset. “All Day” and “I Gotta Move” were later added to the expanded “Kinks” reissue.
Although “All Day” turned up as a b-side on several “reissue” singles, it rarely appeared again as an A-side in it’s own right. It did appear as the lead track of a 1984 7” picture disc (PRT KINKP20) but that was about it.
Tired Of Waiting For You/Come On Now (Pye 7N 15759)
Slightly unusually for the band, but not for the last time, the Kinks next single release combined a pair of album tracks, as both of these songs were to be found on the band’s second LP, “Kinda Kinks”, released in 1965. “Tired Of Waiting For You” was reissued in 1983 (Pye FBS 15).
Ev’rybody’s Gonna Be Happy/Who’ll Be The Next In Line (Pye 7N 15813)
Set Me Free/I Need You (Pye 7N 15854)
See Me Friends/Never Met A Girl Like You Before (Pye 7N 15854)
The polar opposite of the “Tired Of Waiting” release, the Kinks followed it up with three singles that all consisted entirely of new material. All six of these songs were then added to an expanded CD edition of “Kinda Kinks” in 1998. “Set Me Free” and “See My Friends” were also included on a Swedish EP, “Drop In”, which later got a UK release in the “EP Collection 2” CD boxset.
Till The End Of The Day/Where Have All The Good Times Gone (Pye 7N 15981)
Another 45 using a pair of album tracks, both these songs came from the band’s superb third LP, “The Kink Kontroversy”. These two tracks opened a French EP of the same name released soon after, and this was later issued on CD in the UK on the “EP Collection 2” box. “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” later got an A-side billing when it was issued as a 45 in 1973 (Pye 7N 45313).
Dedicated Follower Of Fashion/Sittin’ On My Sofa (Pye 7N 17064)
Another stand alone 45, “DFOF” offered up a pair of new recordings. A later EP, “Dedicated Kinks”, included the A-side along with “Ev‘rybody‘s Gonna Be Happy“, “Set Me Free“ and “See My Friends“, and is available on CD courtesy of the “EP Collecion“ box. Both tracks from the original 45 appeared as bonuses on the 1998 reissue of “The Kink Kontroversy”.
“Dedicated Follower Of Fashion” was also the lead track on an EP of the same name in France, a UK reissue of which is in the “EP Collection 2” box. There have been four other reissues - in 1979 (Pye 7N 46102), 1981 (Old Gold OG 9140), 1986 (PRT 7P355) and 1988 (PRT PYS7).
Sunny Afternoon/I’m Not Like Everybody Else (Pye 7N 17125)
Another a-side battling it out in the “best Kinks song of all time” debate, “Sunny Afternoon” was lifted from the band’s 1966 “Face To Face” album, the latest in a stream of fairly faultless LP releases that would continue throughout the rest of the decade. The flipside, one of the band’s best, was a new recording not on the album, although it would later appear as an extra track on the 1998 reissue of “Face To Face”. “The EP Collection” boxset included a reissue of the “Kinks In Sweden” EP, upon which both tracks also appeared. “The EP Collection 2” boxset included another EP upon which these two songs appeared, called “En Un Tarde De Sol”.
The single was reissued in 1975 with “Sittin’ On My Sofa” on the b-side (Pye 7N 45482) and again in 1986 (Old Gold OG 9577). Another reissue, also with “Sofa” on the flip, appeared in the 80’s in a “Pineapple” picture sleeve (PRT PYS2).
Dead End Street/Big Black Smoke (Pye 7N 17222)
Another 45 consisting of a pair of non album tracks. Both were later added to the expanded “Face To Face”. Once again, the “EP Collection” boxset included a “Dead End Street” EP, which also included “Big Black Smoke“. Both tracks also appeared on the Spanish “Callejon Sin Salda” EP, which got it’s first UK release on the “EP Collection 2” CD box set.
Waterloo Sunset/Act Nice And Gentle (Pye 7N 17321)
If you are of the view that “You Really Got Me” is not the most famous Kinks song, then this one is probably your choice instead. Lifted from the sublime “Something Else By The Kinks” LP, it’s B-side was yet another non-album recording. “Waterloo Sunset” was later the lead track on “The Kinks” EP from 1980 (Pye FBEP 104).
The song was re-recorded in 1994 for the “To The Bone” album, and it was this version that was then issued as a CD Single (Konk KNKCD 2). The CD included three bonus tracks, the majority of which have never resurfaced since, so it is this version of “Sunset” that is of more interest than the original, as “Act Nice And Gentle” was later added as a bonus to the 1998 reissue of “Something Else”.
A French EP with the track as the lead song was later reissued on CD as part of the 1998 “EP Collection” boxset, which included “Act Nice And Gentle” plus two other extra tracks. In 2007, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original single, this EP was released in it’s own right as a UK single, and was housed in the same picture sleeve (Castle CMWEP 1525).
Death Of A Clown/Love Me Til The Sun Shines (Pye 7N 17356)
In my last Kinks blog, I mentioned briefly the problematic start to Dave Davies’ solo career. “Death Of A Clown” was really a Kinks record, as all of the band played on the song - Ray included. One can only assume it was listed as a Dave Davies record as it was the first A-side the band released with Dave on lead, but certainly not the first Kinks tune overall.
The single was a huge success, which led to a second Dave Davies 45 early the following year (1968‘s “Susannah‘s Still Alive“), but plans to compile these songs and other material he had recorded onto a solo album stalled again and again, and it would not be until 1980 that Dave would actually get to release a solo album.
To add to the confusion, both sides of this masterpiece of a single were included on the latest Kinks album, “Something Else”, where they were simply listed as Kinks recordings. The “Dave Davies Hits” EP, issued sometime later, coupled this 45 with both sides of the “Susannah’s Still Alive” 7", and is in the “EP Collection” box.
The Mexican “Los Kinks Vol 9” EP included both this and the following Kinks 45, “Autumn Almanac”, on the second side of the disc, and a CD reissue of this is in the “EP Collection 2” boxset. There was also a reissue of “Death Of A Clown”/”Susannah’s Still Alive” in 1981 (Old Gold OG 9128).
Autumn Almanac/Mister Pleasant (Pye 7N 17400)
Susannah’s Still Alive/Funny Face (Pye 7N 17429)
Wonderboy/Polly (Pye 7N 17468)
Three more stand alone 45’s on the trot, with “Polly” and “Mr Pleasant” also being ‘new’ recordings. “Mr Pleasant” had in fact been taped a lot earlier, and had even been issued as an A-side single pressed in the UK but exported abroad, which explains why it was later added as a bonus track to the reissue of 1966‘s “Face To Face”, rather than the follow up “Something Else”. “Funny Face” was on “Something Else”, and formed one half of the second Dave Davies solo 45. “Almanac”, “Susannah”, “Wonderboy” and “Polly” are all on the 1998 reissue of “Something Else”.
Days/She’s Got Everything (Pye 7N 17573)
Although it later gained a deal of prominence via a Kirsty MacCall cover version, “Days” was actually a sizeable hit for The Kinks at the time of it’s original release. The same could not be said of the album the band released alongside it, the astonishing “The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society”, which was a flop upon release.
Work on “Village Green” was a bit of a drawn out affair, with much umm-ing and arr-ing over the track listing. In the end, a 12 track album was completed, including “Days”, and the masters sent off for pressing. But almost immediately, Ray changed his mind, and attempted to recall the tapes. It was too late, as copies were already in the shops in selected overseas territories. Ray successfully arranged for the album to be withdrawn, and unsold copies were sent back to Pye, whilst the remaining handful that remained in the hands of collectors became worth quite a few quid.
Ray had wanted “Village Green” to be a double, but Pye vetoed this on financial grounds, so a new 15 track edition was created. “Days” was taken off the new version, as was “Mr Songbird”, and five other tracks included instead - “Last Of The Steam Powered Trains”, “Big Sky”, “Sitting By The Riverisde”, “Animal Farm” and “All Of My Friends Were There”.
When “Village Green” was reissued in 1998, the decision was taken to give the fans VFM, by including a mono version of the 15 track album, and a stereo version of the 12 track album. The mono single version of “Days” was tagged onto the end as a bonus, but there wasn’t much space for anything else, so “She’s Got Everything” was left off - partly also because it was actually an old outtake, and pre-dated the entire “Village Green” recording sessions. It has found a home on the 2008 box set “Picture Book”. “The EP Collection 2” box includes a Mexican EP called “Los Kinks Vol 10”, of which “Days” is the lead track.
In 1997, “Days” was reissued as a four track CD EP, after being used in a Yellow Pages TV ad (When! WENX 1016). Both Yellow Pages and “Days” were (more or less) thirty years old by this point, which helped make the link less tenuous. For the CD, the original B-side was dropped in favour of three old hits, “You Really Got Me”, “Dead End Street” and “Lola”.
Lincoln County/There Is No Life Without Love (Pye 7N 17514)
Hold My Hand/Creeping Jean (Pye 7N 17678)
Plastic Man/King Kong (Pye 7N 17724)
Drivin’/Mindless Child Of Motherhood (Pye 7N 17776)
More exclusive material here. “Lincoln County” and “Hold My Hand” were the third and fourth Dave Davies singles, but flopped badly, and remain amongst the most obscure of all of The Kinks 60’s singles. US releases for both were never scheduled. Both sides of the “Lincoln County” 45 are on the expanded “Something Else”. Both sides of the “Hold My Hand” 45 turned up on a Dave Davies compilation album, “Anthology”, in 1998, which was split equally between "Dave solo" and "Dave With The Kinks" material.
“Plastic Man” and “King Kong” were new non-album recordings, whilst “Drivin’” was included on 1969’s “Arthur”, an album that has been much re-evaluated in recent years, and is now about to be the subject of a “deluxe” reissue. The single version, in mono, was a different mix to the stereo album version though. Both the mono mix, and “Mindless Child”, were included on the 1998 expanded version of “Arthur”, as were both sides of the “Plastic Man” single.
Shangri-La/This Man He Weeps Tonight (Pye 7N 17812)
Victoria/Mr Churchill Says (Pye 7N 17865)
Two singles from “Arthur”, both the same on 45 as on LP. “This Man” was a new B-side, but “Mr Churchill” was on the second side of the “Arthur” album. “Victoria” was never reissued, although a live version appeared on “The Kinks Live” EP from 1980 (Arista ARIST 360). “This Man” is also on the 1998 edition of “Arthur”.
Lola/Berkeley Mews (Pye 7N 17961)
Yet another hugely famous Kinks 45, “Lola” concerned itself with a man who fell for a transvestite and therefore, became quite a subversive hit record. Overfamiliarity has deadened it's effect over the years, but in the context of the album it appeared on, it still sounds intelligently brilliant. The original version made a reference to the drink “Coca Cola”, but for the single release, Ray had to re-record this part to avoid non-commercial stations like Radio 1 getting into potential “plugging of products” trouble. Little did he know then, that years later, the re-recorded line “Cherry Cola” would become the name of another drink itself!
The original “Coca Cola” version of “Lola” appeared on the cumbersomely titled “Lola Versus Powerman And The Moneyground Part One”, another album ripe for re-evaluation, and the 1998 reissue included the “Cherry Cola” mix as a bonus track. “Berkeley Mews”, dating from several years earlier, was thus not included on this reissue, but has since made it onto the 2004 triple-CD edition of “Village Green”, and the “Picture Book” box.
“Lola” was reissued on an EP called “Big Deal” in 1977 with “Sunny Afternoon”, “Waterloo Sunset” and “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion” (Pye BD 105), and on Old Gold in 1986 (Old Gold OG 9579). A live version of the track made the “State Of Confusion” EP the same decade (Arista ARIST 560).
Apeman/Rats (Pye 7N 45016)
Two tracks from “Lola”, the former was famous for it’s “does Ray swear or not?” line, “the air pollution is a-fogging up my eyes.” Re-recorded versions exist with the line sung 'more clearly'. It was the band’s last really big hit for some years, as they would sign to RCA a year or so later, and would suddenly start to struggle to hit the charts.
God’s Children/The Way Love Used To Be/Moments/Dreams (Pye 7N 8001)
The final “proper” Kinks single, before the reissues, this was a 4-track maxi single. Unlike the band’s 60’s EP’s, it was neither a collection of old hits, or totally new and exclusive songs, but was used to plug the band’s ninth studio LP, the “Percy” soundtrack. All four songs came from the album.
Three variants exist - a two track edition was pressed in the UK for overseas export, whilst the UK edition came in a “Percy” style picture sleeve. An Irish edition, housed in a Pye company sleeve, listed the instrumental mix of “Lola” from the same LP as track 4, but all copies played the same songs as the UK edition.
Sunday, 10 April 2011
Ask any NME reader what they think of Genesis, and you will almost certainly get a negative response. And yet, back in the Seventies, Genesis were the epitome of cool. Their brand of progressive rock was met with much adoration by the music press, and it was only when Punk happened, that the NME & Co pretended they had never liked them in the first place. But given that the likes of Flaming Lips and Radiohead have stolen ideas left, right, and centre from a lot of the bands from that movement, then let this blog here be the start of the rebranding of Genesis as musical innovators.
From Genesis To Revelation
Genesis were famously discovered by the now-shamed pop producer Jonathan King in 1967. The first line up of the band consisted of vocalist Peter Gabriel, Keyboardist Tony Banks, bassist and sometime guitarist Mike Rutherford, and lead guitarist Anthony Phillips. King helped to draft in Chris Stewart as drummer, the start of a Spinal Tap-esque succession of men on the sticks. After their debut single “The Silent Sun” was issued in 1968, Stewart was replaced by John Silver and it was this line up that completed most of the material on their debut LP.
Issued in 1969, “From Genesis To Revelation” was somewhat different to the Genesis sound that would develop in the Seventies. It had a whimsical, pastoral feel, with many of the songs being short enough to potentially be released as singles - something 70’s era Genesis steered clear of a lot of the time. There were enough “prog” moments to allow anybody who discovered the album later on to find something to love on the album, but the band later semi-disowned it, claiming it wasn’t truly representative of what they were trying to achieve as a band.
The legend is, that when the album was released, it sold so poorly because of it’s sleeve design. It was housed in a black cover, with the Decca label top right, and the album title top left. It was not immediately obvious that Genesis was the name of the band, so record stores looked at the title and assumed it was a religious LP, and placed it in the “Religious Albums” section of the shop, rather than “Popular”. Whether or not this can be 100% attributed to it’s commercial failure, is somewhat open to question. Neither “The Silent Sun” nor it’s two follow up singles (the stand alone “A Winter’s Tale”, and “When The Sour Turns To Sweet”) sold well, and indeed it’s easier to find promo copies of these singles rather than stock copies, an unusual situation nowadays but a regular occurrence with “flop” singles in the 60’s and early 70’s.
Despite it’s relatively obscure nature upon release, the album is now easily available. The rights to release the album have leapt from label to label, and following Decca’s own 1974 reissue where it was titled “In The Beginning”, the album has been regularly reissued. Most editions added the stray A and B sides from the period as bonus tracks, and whilst some more or less kept the original title (Music Club’s “From Genesis To Revelation…The First Album” in 1993), others simply didn’t bother (Disky’s “Rock & Pop Legends” two years later). Disky had another go in 1996, where they reverted to the original title and even tried having a go at replicating the original sleeve (a black cover, with the band name and album title printed in gold, but in the middle. The typography used for the album title, however, was actually identical to the original). This edition also added a pair of previously unheard demos, “Image Blown Out” and “She’s So Beautiful”, and these two songs plus a mountain of other outtakes from the period later found a home on 1998’s “Archive” boxset. More on that later.
In 2005, the album was reissued in it’s original cover as a 2 CD set, with some of those outtakes filling up CD2. The reissue was overseen by Edsel, and as such, an “EDSEL” logo appears top right, instead of the Decca one.
With their third drummer now in place (John Mayhew), Genesis signed to Charisma and released their first “proper” album in 1970, “Trespass”. It was an astonishing leap forward, benefiting at times from the heavier sound of the guitars and organ. It wasn’t quite perfect, but the seeds of classic-era Genesis were sown. The most notable change was in the songs themselves - only six numbers were included (less than half than on “FGTR”), with most of the songs averaging a good seven or eight minutes in length, and many of them sounding like two or three songs glued together, rather than being a simple “verse chorus verse” style 4 minute pop song.
The band were slowly starting to gain a following, which may explain why Charisma decided to release “The Knife” from the LP as a single. Trouble was, it was nine minutes long, so it was split in half - with the first half appearing on the A-side, and the rest on the flip. Suffice to say, there was little interest shown by their fan base, whose love of the band was due to them being “prog” rather than sounding like chart material, so few people wanted to buy half a song that was already on an album. It flopped in spectacular style. The single did not get a release until 1971, by which time Mayhew and Phillips had left, to be replaced by Phil Collins and Steve Hackett. Early copies of the single came in a picture sleeve which showed the new line up, but several copies were also issued in a bog standard white die cut sleeve, and even these are worth a small fortune, such was the small number pressed.
It was this line up where the band started to find their feet, and 1971’s “Nursery Cryme” finally hit the spot. It was a record brimming with confidence - songs changing direction halfway through, quiet one minute, loud and brash the next, there was an inventiveness on here that puts a lot of today’s so-called “alternative bands” to shame. Charisma were convinced that Genesis’ increasing popularity would eventually get them into the charts, and a stand alone single taped during the album sessions, “Happy The Man”, was released as their next 45. It flopped. “Nursery Cryme” became a bit of a sleeper hit - it only charted inside the top 40 when it was re-promoted in 1974, but has sold steadily over the years. It was the follow-up, 1972’s “Foxtrot”, that finally saw Genesis “arrive” - an interesting time for this to happen, given that almost the entire second side was taken up by the 23 minute long “Supper’s Ready”. Far from scaring people off, the band’s increasingly left-field musical leanings were winning them more and more fans.
By now, the band were also starting to get attention due to Gabriel’s perchant for wearing outlandish costumes onstage, and introducing songs with lengthy, rambling and indecipherable stories. Look no further than 1973’s “Genesis Live”, with Gabriel on the cover in a strange looking helmet/mask, whilst on the rear cover, was a bizarre story concerning a woman stripping off on an undergound train until she actually disintegrates.
Genesis finally did achieve a proper “hit” on the singles chart in 1974, when “I Know What I Like” (issued the year before) got into the top 30. It was the most accessible (and, to be honest, weakest) moment on their fifth studio LP, “Selling England By The Pound”, which continued the critical and commercial suucess of “Foxtrot”. The B-side, “Twilight Alehouse”, had originally been released as a flexi disc, and despite being nearly eight minutes long, was included in it’s entirety on the single.
It would be the next LP that would be Genesis’ finest hour - and also Gabriel’s last record with the band. “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” was a tour-de-force, a double album concept record telling the story of street-punk Rael, and his quest to “save” his brother John. Although it’s full explanation has never been revealed, it seems to be concerned with Schizophrenia. The album was actually created in two halves - Gabriel pretty much came up with the entire concept and the lyrics, but because of family problems, he was absent for many of the recording sessions, with the rest of the band taping backing tracks without him. This “split” was later described to have been of some concern to both parties, but was not the real catalyst for Gabriel’s departure.
The original LP came in a gatefold sleeve, with specially photographed shots of “Rael” (played by a friend of the band called Omar) displayed throughout. It was almost as if they were stills from a real movie. On the inside of the gatefold, Gabriel’s own story of Rael’s journey was printed in it’s entirety, ending on the final word “it” - also the title of the last song on the record, where the word (or at least the letters “it”) appeared in every line of the song. Of course, the story was not exactly the same length as the space available to print it (it was a bit too short), so after listing the credits, the opening lines of the story were printed again to fill up the remaining space.
Depending on how you looked at it, “The Lamb” was either one long song, or 23 short ones, so whilst there was little scope for time changes, or separate sections within one song, overall, the record was a stunning piece of work, from the punk-roar of “In The Cage” and the melodic build up of “Carpet Crawlers”, to the heartbreaking beauty of “In The Rapids” and freak-out terror of “The Waiting Room”, this was a record to admire. “The Lamb” is rarely talked about today whenever magazines do their “100 Greatest Albums” lists, but it has always deserved to be somewhere near the top, and for some reason - therefore - remains a great lost classic.
The band decided to tour the album by playing it in it’s entirety, in order from start to finish, and the first such show was on 20th November 1974. Gabriel’s costumes were even more bizarre than ever, which caused other band members concern, as they were worried that people were taking more interest in Gabriel than the music itself. The situation was made worse by the fact that some outfits were so outrageous, Gabriel was struggling to actually hold or reach the microphone, most notably during “The Colony Of Slipperman”, as he could barely move properly whilst wearing them.
Early on in the tour, Gabriel announced to the rest of the band that he was going to leave once the tour wrapped up in May 1975. His family life was a priority, and he stated he could no longer go on tour and leave his family behind for such long periods of time. None of the remaining members had such commitments as wives or children, so the decision was made for Genesis to carry on. Gabriel’s departure was not officially announced until August 1975, via a typically rambling press statement that actually made no real mention of his private life, but instead talked incomprehensibly about music, the industry and art. The split was entirely amicable, and Gabriel and Collins would later collaborate on Gabriel’s solo work in the early 1980’s.
And Then There Were Four
The band began preliminary work on the next LP, whilst also auditioning for new singers. Material for what would become the “A Trick Of The Tail” LP was taped with Collins singing vocals - he had provided backup ever since joining, and had also sung lead on “More Fool Me”, from “Selling England”. As the quest for a new singer dragged on and on, work on the LP was at such an advanced stage, that the group considered using Collins as temporary vocalist for the album, but with the auditions being used to find his replacement for the following tour. In the end, it was felt that Collins was in fact the perfect replacement for Gabriel, and so the decision was taken to carry on as a four piece, with Collins recording drum parts and vocals separately if need be in the studio, and a session musician being drafted in to play drums on stage. Bill Bruford became that session drummer on their next tour in 1976.
“A Trick Of The Tail” was a slight departure for the band - the melodic beauty of the band was still there, but the 20-minute long songs seemed to be over, as there were eight songs on the record, none of which were longer than eight minutes. This was, more or less, a sign of future-Genesis.
At the end of the year, Genesis released “Wind & Wuthering”, a slightly more prog-sounding record, with plenty of instrumental flourishes and cross fading between songs. The likes of “One For The Vine”, just under ten minutes in length, returned to the old style of featuring different “parts” making up a single song. The band headed out on tour again, this time with a “new” stage drummer, Chester Thompson, who would remain the band’s unofficial drummer for the rest of their (Collins’ helmed) career.
A double live album culled from both the 76 and 77 tours, “Seconds Out”, was issued late in 1977. The band logo used on the front was the same as that from “The Lamb” LP, but the band were beginning to move away from that era of their career. Even though “Supper’s Ready” filled up side 3 (it simply couldn’t fit onto “Live”, meaning it was making it’s live debut on record here), the version of “The Musical Box” at the end of side 2 consisted only of the final section, rather than the entire song. The album was also issued on Cassette, but as “individual” albums - so sides 1 and 2 were issued as “Seconds Out - Part 1”, and sides 3 and 4 as “Part 2”. The covers on each were identical.
The release of the album, somewhat coincidentally, occurred at the same time that Hackett announced his departure from the band. Again, the decision was taken not to replace him, but for Rutherford to simply record more guitar parts in the studio, and for extra musicians to join them on any forthcoming live commitments.
Genesis Go Pop
With the band now consisting of just a trio, the title of the next album said it all - “And Then There Were Three”. The band maintained the sonic vibe and “Genesis Sound” of the earlier records, but were now condensing them into shorter, snappier, tunes. “Burning Rope” weighed in at seven minutes in length, but this was an album full of hit singles in waiting. And lo and behold, that’s what happened, when both “Follow You Follow Me” and “Many Too Many” became huge chart hits. Interestingly, when the band toured the US in support of their new “poppier” record, Gabriel joined them onstage for an encore in New York - new meets old, you could say.
The “proggier” elements of the band were still evident on 1980’s “Duke”, but such moments were relatively few and far between. The opener, “Behind The Lines”, was a two-parter consisting of an instrumental opening, and then a vocal led second half, which then segued straight into “Duchess”, later issued as a 45. The follow up LP, “Abacab”, competed the journey from prog heroes to pop stars - yes, there were plenty of strange keyboard noises still coming from Banks’ side of the group, but the songs were generally a lot more straight forward, and older fans started to feel sidelined. Newer fans were not necessarily aware of the band’s history, and thus saw no problem with the punchier, shorter songs, and this may explain why the group began to play less and less Gabriel era tracks on stage - and when they did, they often only did excerpts from them one after the other so they could dispense with four or five in the space of 15 minutes.
Despite not releasing a studio LP in 1982, it was one of the more interesting years in the band’s career. The band released an EP consisting of three new songs, “3x3”, led by the punchy “Paperlate” - which sounded a bit too much like a Phil Collins solo song for comfort. Later the same year, saw the release of another live double LP, “Three Sides Live”. The strange title was due to the fact that in certain territories outside of the UK, side 4 consisted of the EP and several earlier B-sides, on the basis that these recordings were not widely available in North America, Europe, etc. On the UK release, side 4 consisted of three “blasts from the past”, with performances of material from the Gabriel/Hackett era back catalogue, taped between 1976 and 1980. For some reason, there remains much confusion as to where the band’s take on “The Fountain Of Salmacis” dates from, with a big question mark over both where and when it was recorded. “Three Sides Live” was also issued on VHS, making it an even stranger title for such a format. It bore no resemblance to the LP, as it was culled entirely from a pair of 1981 New York gigs - the LP featured material from 1980/81 from both the US and the UK.
The moment every (older) fan had been waiting for occurred on 2nd October, when Gabriel rejoined the trio for a one off show at the Milton Keynes Bowl. The show was done primarily to raise funds for Gabriel’s WOMAD organisation, who were facing severe financial difficulties. The only concession to the fact that the show wasn’t taking place in 1975 was the decision by the quartet to cover Gabriel’s big solo hit “Solsbury Hill”, as well as performing 1980’s “Turn It On Again”. Hackett joined the band for the two-song encore, but once it was over, it was over. Again.
In 1983, the band released a self titled album, trailed by the intriguing “Mama” single. It was a slightly left field move, a basic repetitive drum pattern with various keyboard and guitar parts coming in and out as the track progressed, creating a slow build up to a big finish. The original demo, later released officially on the “Archive 2” boxset, went on for ages, and only seemed to stop because it sounded as though the drum machine had broken down!
“Genesis” more or less carried on where “Abacab” had left off - for every quirky pop moment like “Illegal Alien”, there was a beautiful soundscape like “It’s Gonna Get Better”, or a prog moment like the “Home By The Sea”/”Second Home By The Sea” medley. Another tour produced another live video, “The Mama Tour” in 1984.
By now, Genesis were megastars. Their next album, 1986’s “Invisible Touch” continued to delight the new fans and horrify the old ones, with it’s trademark “80’s” sound. The singles released from the album were all big hits (unlike their attempts in the Gabriel days) and the accompanying tour saw them playing to some 70000 fans at Wembley Stadium, a show later issued on video. The album also spawned a “greatest hits” VHS, “Visible Touch”, which featured all of the promos from the LP (including the memorable Spitting Image video for “Land Of Confusion”), plus some ’behind the scenes’ footage. The “prog” element was still just about there - “Domino”, effectively two songs in one, weighed in at over ten minutes in length.
By now, with all three members of the band having solo/alternative bands with varying degrees of success, it meant that the time taken to regroup between albums was starting to get longer. It was not until 1991 that Genesis returned, with their first double-studio LP since “The Lamb”, called “We Can’t Dance”. It seemed, at times, to be a conscious effort to return to the “old style” Genesis, with plenty of lengthy numbers - even the first single, “No Son Of Mine”, was over six minutes in length. There were still some light hearted pop moments, but the album included not one but two tracks that were over ten minutes long, something “Invisible Touch” didn’t quite manage. The band headed out on tour in the enormodromes again, and a live video, “The Way We Walk”, from a show at Earls Court, was issued in 1993. Over the course of the promo campaign, the band took to including live recordings from selected shows as B-sides for the singles. A box was issued with one of the singles which was designed to hold all the singles from this period that had included live material on at least one of the B-sides.
At the tail end of 1992, more or less as the band played the Earls Court show, they released the first of two live albums documenting the tour. “The Way We Walk - The Shorts” consisted of mostly singles, although the “shorts” tag was at times a bit inaccurate, given that “No Son Of Mine” was on here. A live version of “Invisible Touch” was taken from the album and released as a limited edition single, with the CD version including a pair of tracks from the 'Invisible Touch Live' video. Early the following year, a follow up album, “The Longs” was released which, as the title suggested, concentrated on some of the proggier moments of the band’s career. Most of the songs were still post-Gabriel, although the album opened with the 20 minute long “Old Medley”, which was really five shorter songs stuck together, so that was cheating a bit. “Tell Me Why”, from “We Can’t Dance”, was then issued as a single - each of the two CD editions included a live version of “Dreaming While You Sleep”, which was not on either of the live albums, although it was on the VHS.
Not only was it now taking the band longer to make an album, but it seemed to be taking them just as long to make press statements. Some three years after “Tell Me Why”, Collins announced that he was leaving the band. Banks and Rutherford decided to continue, and recruited ex-Stiltskin singer Ray Wilson to take over on vocals, whilst two different drummers were to be used in the studio. Wilson was a huge fan, and after recording an album called “Calling All Stations” in 1997, the group turned up on VH1 having a crack at the likes of “Suppers Ready”, the track having disappeared from Genesis set lists after Hackett had left. The consensus was that Wilson and the band in general, were now really trying to take the band away from their poppier sound, and back towards the left field.
To be honest, I am not too sure about this part of the band’s career. The first single, “Congo”, didn’t quite sound like Genesis at all - either with Gabriel or Collins - and it seems other people agreed, as the album was a bit of a flop. The accompanying tour started, but didn’t finish, as US dates were scrapped and the group disbanded. Wilson later stated that he was unhappy with how the band was killed off, with him having no say in the matter - it was obvious he would have liked to have stayed in the group for the long haul, as he has continued to play Genesis songs in his solo shows.
The “Archive” Releases
And so, during 1998, Genesis ceased to be. Later the same year, the first of two “Archive” box sets were released, which attempted to make rare material available. The first box covered the Gabriel years, a 4-CD set. The first two discs featured the only “officially” recorded show from ‘The Lamb’ tour, and featured a performance of the album in full from a Los Angeles gig in January 1975. Unfortunately, somebody didn’t realise you couldn’t get the whole album on a C90 cassette (sides 3 and 4 have a running time of about 50 minutes…) and the tape ran out during the final song. This was an excuse for Gabriel to go back into the studio to record a new vocal, which was to be used over the original studio version. Whilst this may sound strange, it really works.
Disc 4 featured outtakes and BBC recordings from the “From Genesis To Revelation” period, whilst disc 3 threw in the band’s sole stand alone A-side (“Happy The Man”) and sole B-side (“Twilight Alehouse”) from the Charisma years. There were also five tracks from a show at The Rainbow in 73 (including the first officially available Gabriel-sung live version of “Suppers Ready”), a BBC version of “Stagnation” and the single version of “Watcher Of The Skies”, a track which was issued as a 45 in some countries, but not the UK.
Gabriel, along with Hackett, went back into the studio in 1999 with Collins, Banks and Rutherford to re-record “The Carpet Crawlers”, for inclusion on a Greatest Hits album, “Turn It On Again”. Although it was planned to be released as a single, the UK release was cancelled and it was only issued as a single in Germany.
In 2000, a second box set, “Archive #2 : 1976-1992” was released, covering the post-Gabriel years. Because the band released a sizeable number of singles during this period, this 3-CD set concentrated mostly on compiling B-sides and Remixes, rather than filling up the box with “new” material.
CD3 included the three 12” mixes made for singles from the “Invisible Touch” LP (“Land Of Confusion”, “Tonight Tonight Tonight” and the title track), whilst one of the two “extended” mixes made of “I Can’t Dance” made CD1 (“The Sex Mix”, simply retitled here as “12” Mix”). The rest of these two CD’s were mostly made up of B-sides, but certain tracks that could have been included were missing - “Match Of The Day” from the “Spot The Pigeon” EP, and “Me & Virgil” from the “3x3” EP, for example. Other tracks were edited for the box set (“It’s Yourself” and “Submarine”), whilst the live version of “The Lady Lies”, originally on a free flexi disc, was remixed for the box.
CD2 consisted entirely of live material. Most of it was unreleased, although the ‘Earls Court’ version of “Dreaming While You Sleep” appeared as track 2, whilst a live version of “Your Own Special Way”, previously a B-side, appeared as track 7. Most of the tracks were songs that had not been issued in live form before, and the disc made for quite an interesting listen.
The Reunion and The Reissues
In 2004, Genesis released the 3 disc “Platinum Collection” set. It was unusually designed to run in reverse-chronological order, the theory behind this (according to Gabriel era obsessives) was so that the good stuff came at the end. Disc 1 concluded with the title track of the Wilson-era “Calling All Stations”, a sign that the band were still quite proud of this period of their career. Most of the songs across the 3 discs were remixed, whilst the 7” edit of “Tonight Tonight Tonight” was included over the album version. “The Knife” closed CD3.
Soon after, talk of a Gabriel era Genesis reunion took place. Hackett was also due to get involved, and plans were being drawn up to play “The Lamb” in full. Gabriel, however, couldn’t find the time to do it, so declined. Hackett was available, but by reforming the 76/77 version of the band, it would have meant they would have been restricted to material from “A Trick Of The Tail” and “Wind And Wuthering” material only, or they would have had to play Gabriel era material as well despite the fact Gabriel would not be on stage with them. So, instead, the decision was taken in 2006 to reform the Collins/Banks/Rutherford era of the band. This meant that the setlists for the tour that followed the following year were not that different from the “We Can’t Dance” shows, although the band did opt to close their shows with “The Carpet Crawlers”. The band would later issue a DVD from a show in Rome, and a double-CD featuring a similar track listing, but sourced from multiple shows, entitled “Live Over Europe”.
With the reunion underway, the band set about reissuing their post-Decca studio back catalogue in newly remixed form. Each album would be issued as a CD+DVD set, with the DVD including video material and the album in Surround Sound. Each of the albums were also included in a series of box sets, which would cover a certain time period - the first box set, “1976-1982” appeared in April 2007. The box included a booklet which had an “Extra Tracks” CD and DVD, the CD collecting stray rarities from the period. “1983-1998”, notable for featuring “Calling All Stations”, appeared later the same year.
In 2008, the “Mail On Sunday” issued a free CD, simply titled “Genesis”, which was more or less a plug for the new live album and the ongoing re-issue campaign. Half of the CD came from “Live Over Europe”, there was a remixed “Follow You Follow Me” from the recent “And Then There Were Three” reissue, and the radio edits of “Mama” and “Abacab”. The album featured a rarity, as a remixed “Cinema Show” was also included, but unlike the version released later in the year on the re-released “Selling England” CD, this version faded out early, and did not segue into the next track on the album, “Aisle Of Plenty”.
In 2008, the band’s next boxset “1970-1975” was released, covering the Charisma Gabriel-led years. Again, each album came with a bonus DVD, meaning “The Lamb” was now a triple. Because the band, as mentioned earlier, didn’t release many singles and thus did not create many rarities, this box set included four previously unreleased tracks on the “Extra Tracks” CD. It was followed in 2009 by a live box set, “1973-2007 Live” which - unlike the others - consisted of albums that were not reissued individually at the time. “Three Sides Live” did not include a DVD, nor did “The Way We Walk”. The latter combined the “Shorts” and “Longs” albums, but merged the track listings, so that the album now ran more or less in the order that the songs were played onstage. The “2007” part of the title referred to the fact that it was originally planned for “Live Over Europe” to be included in the box, but after fans apparently complained about the concept of a relatively recent album being reissued, the decision was taken to instead provide a slot in the boxset which fans could use to store their own copy.
The “Genesis Live” CD included bonus tracks from the “Lamb” material on the “Archive” boxset, a bit pointless really, whilst there was also a bonus CD+DVD album called “Live At The Rainbow”. This took the five tracks from this gig that appeared on “Archive”, and added four previously unissued ones to create a 90 minute long set, meaning that two tracks were left off the CD so that the material could squeeze onto one disc. A final box set, “The Movie Box”, issued later in 2009, included DVD reissues of the “Three Sides Live”, “Mama Tour”, “Invisible Touch Live” and “The Way We Walk” videos, plus a bonus “VH1 Behind The Music” documentary, never before officially released on DVD. There was also a slot to house the “When In Rome” DVD.
GENESIS ALBUMS DISCOGRAPHY - ORIGINAL GABRIEL/COLLINS ERA PRESSINGS 1969-2007
From Genesis To Revelation (LP, Decca SKL4990, Mono edition also available [LK4990])
Trespass (LP, Charisma CAS1020)
Nursery Cryme (LP, Charisma CAS1052)
Foxtrot (LP, Charisma CAS1058)
Genesis Live (LP, Charisma CLASS1)
Selling England By The Pound (LP, Charisma CAS1074)
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (2xLP, Charisma CGS 101, initial copies included competition insert)
A Trick Of The Tail (LP, Charisma CDS4001)
Wind & Wuthering (LP, Charisma CDS4005)
Seconds Out (2xLP, Charisma GE2001)
And Then There Were Three (LP, Charisma CDS4010)
Duke (LP, Charisma CBR101)
Abacab (LP, Charisma CBR102, four different coloured sleeve designs)
Three Sides Live (2xLP, Charisma GE2002)
Genesis (LP, Virgin GENLP1)
Invisible Touch (LP, Virgin GENLP2)
We Can’t Dance (2xLP, Virgin GENLP3)
The Way We Walk: The Shorts (CD, Virgin GENCD4)
The Way We Walk: The Longs (CD, Virgin GENCD5)
Live Over Europe (2xCD, Virgin GENCD10)
Genesis (CD, Virgin UPGEN001, “The Mail On Sunday“ freebie)
Note: several other box sets, in addition to those mentioned above, have been issued over the years. The Charisma Gabriel albums were issued across a pair of Vinyl Box Sets many years ago, but are now worth a small fortune. “Selling England” and “The Lamb” appeared in a CD boxset in the early 90’s, each with pictures used on the discs. This release is notable for the fact that the original ‘Genesis’ logo on “The Lamb” is not used on this pressing, but the band name is printed on the front in a totally different typeface. “The Shorts” and “The Longs” were later reissued in a box together, catalogue number GENDCD 7.
A pair of French box sets from 1995 couple “Duke” and “Invisible Touch”, and “Genesis” and “Abacab”. The latter lists the “Genesis” album as “Mama” on the back of the box, whilst all copies of “Abacab” come in the fourth variant of the sleeve, coloured blue and grey.
GENESIS SINGLES DISCOGRAPHY - IMPORTANT RELEASES 1968-1993
The Silent Sun (Single Mix)/That’s Me (7”, Decca F12735)
A Winter’s Tale/One Eyed Hound (7”, Decca F12775)
Where The Sour Turns To Sweet/In Hiding (7”, Decca F12949)
The Knife (Part 1)/(Part 2) (7”, Charisma CB152, initial copies in p/s)
Happy The Man/Seven Stones (7”, Charisma CB181, initial copies in p/s)
Twilight Alehouse (Flexidisc, Charisma no catalogue number)
I Know What I Like/Twilight Alehouse (7”, Charisma CB224)
Counting Out Time/Riding The Scree (7” Version) (7”, Charisma CB238)
The Carpet Crawlers/The Waiting Room (Live) (7”, Charisma CB251)
A Trick Of The Tail/Ripples (7”, Charisma CB277)
Your Own Special Way/It’s Yourself (7”, Charisma CB300)
Spot The Pigeon EP: Match Of The Day/Pigeons/Inside And Out (7”, Charisma GEN001. This and all subsequent Genesis “hard vinyl” singles came housed in picture bags)
Follow You Follow Me/Ballad Of Big (7”, Charisma CB309, later reissued in new sleeve with different B-side on the “Old Gold“ label)
Many Too Many/The Day The Light Went Out/Vancouver (7”, Charisma CB315)
Turn It On Again/Behind The Lines Part 2 (7”, Charisma CB356)
Duchess/Open Door (7”, Charisma CB363)
Misunderstanding/Evidence Of Autumn (7”, Charisma CB369)
Abacab (Edit)/Another Record (7”, Charisma CB388)
Keep It Dark/Naminanu (7”, Charisma CB391, also on 12“ with “Abacab“ as extra B-side)
Man On The Corner/Submarine (7”, Charisma CB393)
3x3 EP: Paperlate/You Might Recall/Me & Virgil (7”, Charisma GEN1)
The Lady Lies (Live London Lyceum Ballroom, May 7th 1980) (Green Flexidisc, Lyntone LYN11806)
Firth Of Fifth (Live) (Flexidisc, Genesis Information G1-01, Fan Club release in picture sleeve)
Mama (Edit)/It’s Gonna Get Better (Edit) (7”, Virgin MAMA1)
Mama (Extended)/It’s Gonna Get Better (12“, Virgin MAMA 1-12, later reissued in 1988 on CD)
That’s All/Taking It All Too Hard/Firth Of Fifth (Live New York The Savoy 1981) (12”, Virgin TATA 1-12, B-side from different gig to Fan Club Flexi release listed above, other formats with this track missing exist)
Illegal Alien/Turn It On Again (Live, Edited Version) (7”, Virgin AL1, also available as shaped picture disc)
Illegal Alien/Turn It On Again (Live) (12”, Virgin AL1-12)
Invisible Touch (12” Mix)/Invisible Touch/The Last Domino (12”, Virgin GENS1-12, also on Clear Vinyl 7” without 12” Version)
In Too Deep (Edit)/Do The Neurotic (Edit) (7”, Virgin GENS 2)
In Too Deep/Do The Neurotic (12”, Virgin GENS2-12, also on 12” picture disc)
Land Of Confusion (Extended Version)/(LP Version)/Feeding The Fire (12”, Virgin GENS 3-12, CD adds “Do The Neurotic“, 7“ plays “Land Of Confusion“/“Feeding The Fire“ only)
Tonight Tonight Tonight (Edit)/In The Glow Of The Night/Tonight Tonight Tonight (12” Mix) (12”, Virgin GENS 4-12, some editions and CD version also add “Paperlate”, 7“ editions include first 2 tracks only)
Throwing It All Away (Live Los Angeles Forum 1986)/I’d Rather Be You/Invisible Touch (Live Los Angeles Forum 1986) (12”, Virgin GENS 512, also on Cassette)
No Son Of Mine/Living Forever/Invisible Touch (Live) (CD, Virgin GENSD6, some come in digipack sleeve with alternate cat no.)
I Can’t Dance/On The Shoreline/I Can’t Dance (Sex Mix) (CD1, Virgin GENSD7, also on 12“)
I Can’t Dance/On The Shoreline/In Too Deep (Live)/That’s All (Live) (CD2, Virgin GENDG7)
Hold On My Heart/Way Of The World/Home By The Sea (Live) (CD1, Virgin GENSD8)
Hold On My Heart/Way Of The World/Your Own Special Way (Live) (CD2, Virgin GENDG8)
Jesus He Knows Me (Single Mix)/Hearts On Fire/I Can’t Dance (The Other Mix) (CD1, Virgin GENDG9)
Jesus He Knows Me (Single Mix)/Hearts On Fire/Land Of Confusion (Rehearsal Version) (CD2, Virgin GENDX9)
Invisible Touch (New Live Version)/Abacab (Live At Wembley 87/Edited) (7”, Virgin GENS10)
Invisible Touch (New Live Version)/Abacab (Live At Wembley 87)/The Brazilian (Live At Wembley 87) (CD, Virgin GENDX10)
Tell Me Why/Dreaming While You Sleep (Live At Earls Court 92)/Turn It On Again (Live At Earls Court 92) (CD1, Virgin GENDG11)
Tell Me Why/Dreaming While You Sleep (Live At Earls Court 92)/Tonight Tonight Tonight (Live At Wembley 92) (CD2, Virgin GENDX11)
a) The Wembley 87 tracks and Earls Court 92 tracks are from a pair of concert videos, although the audio version of “Tonight Tonight Tonight” is slightly different to that on DVD. Any formats not listed are excluded because they contained nothing of interest (other than to completists) at the time of release.
b) The version of “Happy The Man” that is on “Archive” is slightly different to the original vinyl version.
c) “Archive 2” includes the 12” mixes of “Invisible Touch”, “Land Of Confusion”, “Tonight Tonight Tonight” and the “Sex Mix” of “I Can’t Dance”. The EP tracks and b-sides on the boxset (not including those slightly altered from the original release) are “Pigeons”, “Inside And Out”, “The Day The Light Went Out”, “Vancouver”, “Open Door”, “Evidence Of Autumn”, “Naminanu”, “Paperlate”, “You Might Recall”, the unedited version of “Do The Neurotic”, “Feeding The Fire”, “I’d Rather Be You”, “On The Shoreline” and “Hearts On Fire”. I understand that the missing songs, which then surfaced on the later box sets, were all remixed for these releases. The likes of “Riding The Scree (7” version), “The Knife (Part 1)” and “The Last Domino” have never resurfaced anywhere, because they are edited versions of album tracks.
Friday, 1 April 2011
With the return of Girls Aloud being put back on a regular basis, what with Cheryl wanting to make it big in America, it’s at times like these that we need to look for a new girlband to obsess over. And, as former tour partners of GA, The Saturdays are leading the pack. OK, so they haven’t quite done a “Love Machine” or a “Biology” yet, but there are some pop gems tucked away on each of their albums. And with a number of FHM shoots under their belt, it’s not just the teenage girl crowd who have discovered their charms.
Signed to the same label as Girls Aloud, the group emerged in 2008, debuting with their Yazoo-sampling “If This Is Love”, a fine piece of electro-pop. But it was with the follow up, “Up”, that they really started to show what they were capable of. With it’s incessant punchy keyboard rhythm, and a video in which the girls jumped around with each group member wearing differently coloured blindingly bright tights (so you could tell who was who), they started to emerge from the Girls Aloud shadow. If the debut single was just another good song by a five piece girl band, “Up” was the point at which Frankie, Mollie, Una, Rochelle and Vanessa started to become famous, not just as the latest pop sensations, but as five individual pin-up girls - it was the law that you had to pick your favourite (Frankie, it seems, is everybody’s favourite Saturday).
“Chasing Lights”, the group’s first LP, was released in October 2008. It got good reviews all round, and covered most ’pop’ bases - some upbeat moments here, a ballad or two there. “Issues”, a mid-tempo, harmony-filled slowie, was the next single release, surfacing in “single form” at the start of 2009. With the band still relatively new on the scene, they invited fans who bought the single to send the sleeve to the record label, where upon each band member individually signed the cover and sent it back. I think they are a bit too big to do that sort of thing now…
The band then got the nod to do the official 2009 Comic Relief single, and decided to give Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough” a bit of a rave-style makeover. For the video, the girls got dressed up in some rather revealing outfits, and paraded around on screen in stockings and suspenders for most of the video. There are few better sights in music than Frankie Sandford hitching up her skirt and flashing her derriere at the camera at the end of the video, although whether or not this sort of thing should be going on in what was a charity single, I wouldn’t like to say! “Chasing Lights” was later reissued with the song added as a bonus track - unlike the original edition of the album which came in a DVD-style “curved corners” case, the reissued version of the album came in a standard “square” sleeve.
The band soon after were heading off on their first proper “live” tour, the “Work” tour. The tour took it’s name from a song off “Chasing Lights”, which was then issued in remixed form as their next single. Unlike other pop acts, all of the band’s singles had been issued not just as digital releases, but on CD, with all five of them coming with non-album B-sides - a tradition they have continued to this day.
No sooner had the tour come to an end, than news of the band’s next album was being announced. Work on the “Wordshaker” had begun whilst they were on tour, and it’s release came less than a year after “Chasing Lights”. The lead single, an edited mix of “Forever Is Over”, was fairly indicative of the album’s sound - loud, banging, roaring pop, the sort of song Klaxons might have made if they were a bunch of girls. The album is a bit of an under-rated gem, with the up-tempo songs being brash and in-your-face, wonderfully noisy and brilliantly catchy. A slightly edited mix of “Ego” was the next single, and although it had an official release date of the first week in January 2010, a handful of copies were actually put on sale in some HMV stores immediately after Boxing Day 2009.
With “Wordshaker” barely six months old, the group prepared yet again to issue more new music. They had, “in the vaults”, songs which they didn’t want to disappear, and decided to issue a mini album showcasing this material in the second half of 2010. “Headlines” was an 8 track CD, with a running time just short of half an hour. It consisted of five new tunes, the single mixes of “Forever Is Over” and “Ego”, and a remix of “Wordshaker” album track “One Shot”. The band came in for a bit of stick over the release, with some claiming that had they just released the five new songs on an EP, they could have kept the price down. To counter such claims, selected copies of the album came shrink-wrapped with a huge fold out poster. The only problem was, once you removed the shrinkwrap, the package effectively “fell apart”, as the poster was housed behind the CD casing.
The first of the five new songs to be issued as a single was the ballad “Missing You”, which benefited from some blaring Ibiza-compilation-CD style keyboard noises. The original band logo, ditched for a new one for the “Wordshaker” releases, made it’s reappearance on this single. The band performed the song at T4’s “On The Beach” TV show in July, before “Headlines” was issued in August.
A second track from the album, “Higher”, was the next single release. This was a different mix to the album version, and the singles mix also contained a superfluous rap from R&B nobody Flo Rida. Thankfully, even this pointless addition could not ruin what was a genius pop moment, arguably the best song the band have ever recorded. “Headlines” was later reissued and expanded to album length, by including the Flo Rida version of “Higher” and three more songs from “Wordshaker” as bonus tracks. There is no obvious sign - on first viewing - as to whether a copy of "Headlines" you might see in a shop is the 8 track or 12 track version, until you look at the back of the CD.
2011, and the band are about to head out on the fesitval circuit - usually an indicator that they have been accepted by most as proper pop stars, apart from the indie snobs on the NME message boards. Whilst the likes of Girls Can’t Catch have come and gone, and the jury remains out on the likes of Parade, it seems The Saturdays are our only hope of keeping the Girlband Pop sound alive. Frankie and Co, we salute you!
Chasing Lights (CD, Fascination 1785979, later reissued with “Just Can’t Get Enough” as bonus track)
Wordshaker (CD, Fascination 2719617, initial copies from HMV in slipcase with extra bonus remix)
Headlines! (CD, Fascination 2754182, first issued as a mini album with 4 less tracks)
If This Is Love/What Am I Gonna Do? (CD, Fascination 1771961)
Up (Radio Edit)/Crashing Down (CD, Fascination 1785660)
Issues (Radio Mix)/Beggin’ (CD, Fascination 1794029)
Just Can’t Get Enough (Radio Mix)/Golden Rules (CD, Fascination 1799707)
Work (Radio Mix)/Unofficial (CD, Fascination 2707835)
Forever Is Over (Radio Edit)/I Can’t Wait (CD, Fascination 2720426)
Ego (Single Mix)/Flashback (CD, Fascination 2727784)
Missing You/Ready To Rise (CD, Fascination 2743367)
Higher (Featuring Flo Rida)/Had It With Today (CD, Fascination 2753171)
Official site: http://www.thesaturdays.co.uk/