Friday, 13 December 2013


Listed below are the bands and singers featured for each month in 2013. The December 2013 blogs can be found due right, and include articles on Elvis Presley, The Doors, Sleeper and The Stranglers (including material from the Mark 2 years, as seen above).

The complete list for the year is shown below:
January 2013 - Elvis Costello / Madonna
February 2013 - Thin Lizzy / Scott Walker
March 2013 - Siouxsie And The Banshees
April 2013 - Oasis
May 2013 - Beyonce / The Jam / John Lennon / The Kinks / The Stranglers
June 2013 - Atomic Kitten / Sheryl Crow
July 2013 - Kate Bush / The Who
August 2013 - Goldfrapp / Peter Gabriel
September 2013 - Elvis Costello / Blondie / The Stranglers
October 2013 - Adam And The Ants / Blur / Kim Wilde / Belinda Carlisle
November 2013 - Girls Aloud / Embrace / Madonna / Elvis Presley / Bob Dylan
December 2013 - The Stranglers / Sleeper / Elvis Presley / The Doors

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

"This Is The End"

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The Stranglers: CD Singles 1988-2013

I realised recently that 25 years had passed since The Stranglers released their first CD Single. And I also realised that, if we ignore those oddball “possibly released without the band’s knowledge” singles from 1989, I have all of the band’s singles on that format (and I do at least have the oddball releases on 12”). Now, you might say, “big deal”, but when you consider the fact that 2012’s “Mercury Rising” was done as a 500-only run, well, it means there are only up to 499 other people who can also cite this claim to fame. The truth is, in this iTunes dominated world, actually owning these releases (even if they are scratched, or have “bronzed”, or have CD-rot and won’t play) is something to be celebrated. They may often have come in simplistic, “will this do” card sleeves, but look at them now, and they seem like major historical documents.

Although this website is in the middle of a look at the band’s compilation albums (part 4 along sometime next year I think), I thought it would be interesting to zero in on the CD Singles the band have released - there has been new material since my last “normal” Stranglers article in 2010 so it‘s worth bringing the story up to date. Given that many of the cash in comps tend to ignore the Mark 2, 3 and 4 years, it means that a lot of the B-sides that have surfaced in this period have never reappeared since, so I thought it would be worth examining them in greater detail. Plus, they are celebrating their 40th anniversary in 2014, and I love them so much, I just wanted to write another article about them.

So here we go. The article is split into sections - each detailing the CD Single releases from each “major” studio or live album or thereabouts, and in the case of the Mark 1 stuff, details of where the flipsides resurfaced again.

1988: All Live And All Of The Night

Towards the end of 1987, the band decided to release a live album documenting their basic setlist from the time. The 1986 “Dreamtime” album had been promoted by a lengthy tour, and having headlined Wembley Arena in November 86 as part of a British tour, they returned to the UK the following March, still playing a setlist based mostly around the same material (with the usual exceptions from night to night). So, unlike 1979’s “Live (X Cert)”, which had a track listing which gave no real indication as to a typical set from the time, given that it was sourced from gigs throughout 77 and 78, this time, the album would mostly be sourced from shows the band had played in 1987, and would thus operate as a better “tour document” than it’s predecessor. Odd one out was - I think - “European Female”, which although a regular on the “Dreamtour”, was to be included on the album courtesy of a French 1985 show instead.

One of the band’s three shows at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in March 87 were taped for a radio broadcast, and this was to be used for much of the source material. In August 87, the band were due to appear at the Reading Festival - a festival going through a Metal-Headed identity crisis, and despite Hugh claiming onstage during their 1983 show there that whoever had booked them “must have a sense of humour”, four years later, they were due to return. Hugh couldn’t resist another quip midway through their 1987 set (“we’d like to follow up that heavy metal classic with another heavy metal classic of ours” - I think “Golden Brown” was one of those “classics“ from memory), and this show was also being taped by the BBC. This would prove to be the other gig to be sourced for the album.

The band had planned to finish the show with a cover of The Kinks’ “All Day And All Of The Night” (their one time on stage cover, “Walk On By“, had long been (temporarily) ditched from the setlists by this point), and the performance of said song would thus be included on the forthcoming live album. But the band flunked their lines, and stumbled rather shambolically through it without success. The Beeb later broadcast much of the gig, including said cover, so whilst it exists in bootleg form, the band decided they would need to record it again. Although it was performed again on stage at their next show two days later in France, there were seemingly no tape recorders (officially) in situ at that one, so the band later went into the studio to record the song outside of the live environment.

Despite the fact that a typical setlist at the time was somewhere around the 80-90 minute mark, it was to be a single slab of vinyl that would be used to document the tour. Cost grounds, I guess. There were to be twelve live recordings, appearing roughly in the order in which they got played on stage. Although at least one 1987 show opened with “Grip”, it was “No More Heroes” that usually kicked things off on the “Dreamtour” and this song was therefore used to open the album. The studio recording of “All Day And All Of The Night” was then bolted onto the end after “London Lady”, the regular setlist closer from the time.

“All Day And All Of The Night” was to be released as a single to help promote the album. The basic catalogue number, VICE 1, was a reference to a prostitute named Monica Coghlan, who had been involved in a sex scandal with Conservative MP Jeffrey Archer in 87, and the single was to be issued in a sleeve with her photo on the front - the title of the song, you see, could be viewed with an element of sexual connotations (note also, the use of a “personalised“ catalogue number - which had been started with the “Dreamtime“ releases, “Shakin‘ Like A Leaf“ for example had been SHEIK 1). It was to be designed like a “red top” tabloid newspaper, but after proof copies had been made, Epic had cold feet, and fearful of potential legal problems, the sleeve was withdrawn. Instead, a new “brothel” image was to be used, and even then, most copies of the single had to have the artwork “toned down” to avoid offence (the image on the shaped vinyl picture disc was unblemished, I do believe - I've never really checked my copies). Copies of the Coghlan sleeve were later sold through the band’s fan club.

Issued on a multitude of formats which helped it hit the top 10 in January 1988, the CD edition of the single included an extended remix of the a-side, by JJ Burnel, called the “Jeff Remix”. The b-side, “Viva Vlad!”, was the latest in a line of Russian music inspired flipsides the band had recorded about a fictitious character called Vladimir during the 1980s. Indeed, at the time of writing, it has turned out to be the last one, although a mail order only album called “Vladimir And The Pearl” was released in 1999 by Burnel and Dave Greenfield. The CD was padded out with live recordings, from the Reading gig, of “Who Wants The World” and “Strange Little Girl”. The latter was included on the album, but the former would only get a proper home when it was one of a number of bonus tracks added to the (patchy) 2001 reissue of the album, remaining exclusive to the 12“ and CD editions of the single until then. “Viva Vlad!” would later appear on the expanded edition of “10”, and the “Jeff” version of “ADAAOTN” would appear on 1992’s “All Twelve Inches”.

In some overseas territories, the live material was used as the subject for single material, with the live version of “Strange Little Girl” being issued as a single in Holland, but nothing unusual appeared on the flipside of this release.


All Day And All Of The Night (Jeff Remix)/Viva Vlad!/Who Wants The World (Live)/Strange Little Girl (Live) (CD, Epic CDVICE 1, some copies pressed overseas were sold in the UK with a “numeric” catalogue number)

1989: The One Off Releases

Following the release of the live album, the band toured during the summer of 1988. Whether or not this tour could be seen as a form of promo for the record is unclear, given that the setlists were quite eclectic, often consisting of material that wasn’t only not on the album, but was of major rarity status - “Peasant in The Big Shitty” was restored to the set for the first time in over a decade, whilst the 1981 b-side “Vietnamerica” was played at several shows for the first - and the last - time.

Work on the band’s tenth studio album began thereafter, with a potential Autumn 1989 date pencilled in. But in the end, the whole process was “mis-timed”, and planned shows for the end of that year were cancelled as the band needed to carry on working on the record. It meant that the band’s now famous 4-date UK tour (one show only in each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) would be the only shows the band would play that year in Great Britain, although there were a couple of shows in the Republic Of Ireland as well.

As such, the only “new” releases that appeared in 1989 were of the retro variety. The band’s former labels, Liberty and United Artists, now came under the umbrella of EMI, who put out a collection called “Singles (The UA Years)”, which featured, “London Lady” excepted, every A or AA side the band had put out on the label(s) prior to their signing to Epic. To help plug the record, EMI released a remixed version of the band’s debut single, “Grip”, to coincide. The CD single included two versions of the a side, the standard “Grip 89” remix and a longer remix dubbed the “Grippin’ Stuff 12” Mix“. Whilst the former mix has appeared on a few comps since, including 1996’s “The Hit Men”, the 12” mix remains exclusive to the 12” and CD copies of this single release.

The release was padded out with 1981’s “Waltzinblack”, the second time it had appeared as a b-side (lifted from the “MenInBlack” album, it had backed 1982’s “La Folie”) - it was included here because it had recently been used as the theme tune to a Keith Floyd TV Cookery show - and the more obscure “Tomorrow Was The Hereafter”. Often referred to as the first song the band ever recorded (but possibly not quite), it was at one point a contender to be the band’s debut 45, but instead, got left on the shelf until it was issued as a single via the Stranglers Information Service in 1980. One wonders if, having finally made it to 7” stage by this point, that it was being included on this single not just due to it’s rarity status, but due to the fact that it could be seen as a “companion” release alongside the EMI singles set.

The other single that year was the “Nighttracks” EP, often referred to as the “Radio 1 Sessions“ single. Back in 1982, the band had recorded a four track session for the BBC’s “Evening Show” on Radio 1. Rather than use the session to plug their new album, the band instead played songs mostly from their past, all of which were floating around their live set at the time. So what you got was really an edited highlights version of the band’s stage show. Only “The Man They Love To Hate” was played from their then recent album (“La Folie”), the remaining numbers were the “Nuclear Device”/”Genetix” medley, and “Down In The Sewer”. The CD, housed in a totally different sleeve to it’s accompanying 12” edition, included all four songs from the session.

The tracks got a second lease of life in 1995, when the group’s then label, Castle Communications, released “The Sessions” on their Essential Records imprint. This 12 tracker included all of the sessions the band recorded for the Beeb during the Mark 1 years - there was only three of them - and the four songs from the “Nighttracks” release were included alongside two John Peel sessions from 1977, material previously only available in bootleg form. This release has long been deleted, and is getting increasingly difficult to track down.


Grip 89 (Grippin’ Stuff Mix)/(Single Remix)/Waltzinblack/Tomorrow Was The Hereafter (CD, EMI CDEM 84)
The Radio 1 Sessions EP: The Man They Love To Hate (BBC Version)/Nuclear Device (BBC Version)/Genetix (BBC Version)/Down In The Sewer (BBC Version) (CD, Strange Fruit SNFTCD 20)

1990: 10

During the 4-date UK tour of 1989, a couple of new songs were played onstage, both of which would appear on the band’s forthcoming tenth studio album, eventually called “10”. The tracks concerned were “Where I Live” and “Someone Like You”, the latter of which featured a radically different chorus to the eventually released version. Although the demos taped for the record suggested an album not too dissimilar to “Dreamtime” (the horn section were scheduled to still be in place), Cornwell had hopes of the album finally breaking them in America. The Stranglers had toured there ever since the early days, but had never quite got beyond their “cult band” status - “The Raven” and “La Folie” were never even released there at first, until both got the delayed “reissue” treatment in 1985.

As such, the album was produced deliberately to give it a “big” sound - booming drums, blaring trumpets - which it was felt would go down well on US radio. Members of the band later came to regret the decision to release the album in this way, although Cornwell claimed he was proud of it, later stating that he felt the band could not top it, and cited that as one of his reasons for leaving. Another reason was that after a planned US tour fell through, he was upset, and thus decided the band had run it’s course.

I actually love this album, even though it is not cool to do so. Although I had been aware of the group during my youth (the copy of the “No More Heroes” 7” in the Shergold house seems to have been bought for me when I was five, as my mum scribbled my name on it in indelible ink), “10” was the first Stranglers studio album I bought myself. I have always thought that it was a better pop album than “Aural Sculpture”, which seemed at times to be slightly wonky in terms of how it sounded (“Punch And Judy” just doesn’t quite seem to be perfectly in time to these ears, as if they used a drum machine which seemed a beat out of synch) whilst “Dreamtime” seemed a bit too polished, a bit too “eighties”. But I always loved the roar of “10”, even if it did split opinion within an already divided band.

Strangely, for a band who had rarely played covers, the decision was taken to follow up their cover of “ADAAOTN” with another cover, and their take on ? And The Mysterians “96 Tears” was issued as their next 45. Two variant editions of the CD were made - one pressed as a picture CD, which was housed in a jewel case minus front cover artwork, so you could see the imagery on the disc itself, and a “normal” version housed in a card sleeve. Although the CD single was supposed to play the extended “Tearaway” remix of the A-side, as found on the 12” version of the single, and listed on the sleeve, all copies played the 7” edit of the song instead. Two new B-sides were also included, “Poisonality” and the much loved Burnel sung “Instead Of This”, later a regular opening feature of the acoustic shows the band started to play during the noughties.

Although “96 Tears” gave the band another top 10 hit, it also marked the end of the group as big hit single makers. “Punk Funk” follow up “Sweet Smell Of Success” was something of a flop, stumbling way outside the top 40. The CD edition of the single played the 7” edit of the a-side, and new b-sides “Motorbike” and “Something”. According to the excellent Stranglers Worldwide Discography side, only 4000 copies were pressed of the CD, a rather slim number if you ask me, given that some “limited edition” singles released in the eighties had been pressed in numbers of at least 10,000 each. Dance remixes of the a-side were made for a limited edition 12” version, with at least one of those mixes failing to ever appear on CD anywhere in the world, let alone the UK. All four of the b-sides from this period now appear on the expanded “10”, whilst the 7” mixes of the singles can be found on (at least) “The Hit Men”.

Plans for a follow up single, “Man Of The Earth”, were abandoned, seemingly when the US tour dates fell through. I am not exactly sure when it was planned to be released, but the promo campaign for the album thus ground to a halt. Images showing the planned artwork exist, but this may just be proof artwork for the single, as opposed to withdrawn 7” or CD copies, as no details of the planned B-sides have ever come to light.


96 Tears (7” Mix)/Instead Of This/Poisonality (CD, Epic TEARS C1, picture disc copies in sleeveless case also pressed [TEARS P1])
Sweet Smell Of Success (7” Mix)/Motorbike/Something (CD, Epic TEARS C2)

1990-1991: Greatest Hits

In his autobiography, Cornwell says he made the decision to leave the band on the day of the final gig by the Mark 1 lineup. Although there seems to be some conflict behind all the various reasons that later got cited (if “10” was their best album, and the US tour had gone ahead as planned, would he still have left?), Cornwell’s mind was made up before they took to the stage at Alexandra Palace in London on 11th August 1990.

The show was something of a one off, the band having finished the official tour for the “10” album with a show at Brixton Academy on 21st March. The Ally Pally show was a gig celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Town And Country Club, a 1934 built venue in Kentish Town but one which had been renamed in the mid 80s. The show was filmed for a TV broadcast, but little did anyone, apart from Cornwell, know that it was to be Mark 1’s final stand.

The setlist had changed slightly from the earlier “96 Tours” shows - “Toiler On The Sea” was now the gig opener, but elsewhere, much of the material remained. Eyewitnesses suggest the band were seemingly on auto pilot, one would guess that in Cornwell’s case, it may well have been that he was distracted by the announcement he was about to make. I do actually quite like the video of this show myself though!

There was no indication to the rest of the band that he had wanted to leave, even though there had been some distance between him and the rest of the group, increasingly, during the latter part of the eighties. There had even been some discussions about recording the eleventh studio album. But the following day, Cornwell phoned each of the band members to announce his resignation - Black seemingly just replied “OK” and put the phone down, but Burnel was affected more - despite the two having had a famous backstage punchup during 1985, thus helping to cause the rift within the group, Burnel had always looked up to Cornwell as something of a father figure, and the phonecall was a lengthy and tearful affair. A live album and VHS called “Saturday Night Sunday Morning” was issued in 1993, documenting (parts of) the Ally Pally gig, it’s titled stolen from an old film but also representing the day of the show (a Saturday) and the day of Cornwell’s departure (the Sunday). I have said it before, but a “Stranglers On Video” feature is still in the planning stage for this site.

Cornwell’s departure seemed to give Epic an excuse to put out a compilation album covering the Mark 1 years, and even though a single vinyl LP was never going to fully do justice to the group, the TV advertised “Greatest Hits 1977-1990” was a huge seller, putting the band back into the public eye in a big way. Two singles were released in connection with the album, one with the band’s say-so, one seemingly issued without their consent.

First up was “Always The Sun”. Credited, upon it’s initial release in 1986, as breaking the band in Europe, it was never quite the mega hit people thought it was in the UK. Epic decided a revamped version of the song could do well as a single, and so a newly created “Sunny Side Up” remix was made, based around the original 7” edit, but with additional guitar work by John Ellis, a friend of the band who had joined the touring line up of the group for the 1990 shows. There were in fact two CD single editions. The first, the standard release, featured this remix along with a 1986 era outtake (“Burnham Beeches”, now on the expanded “Dreamtime“) and a live recording of “Straighten Out”, taped at Guildford Civic Hall on 19th March 1990, and now on the expanded “All Live And All Of The Night”.

The second CD, dubbed the “Live At Alexandra Palace” EP, did just that - four tracks, including of course “Always The Sun”, taped at the “final” show. All four songs have reappeared since - “Nuclear Device” and “Punch And Judy” are on the expanded “All Live” release, whilst the performances of “Always The Sun” and “All Day And All Of The Night” later made the audio edition of “Saturday Night Sunday Morning”. All four songs from the EP made the VHS edition of that album. Despite the multi formatting of “Always The Sun” second time around (the 12” featured a unique longer remix of the a-side), the single charted at more or less the same position as the 1986 original, in the lower region of the top 30.

In the spring of 1991, Epic decided to reissue the band’s biggest hit - cheekily reissuing the (originally released by EMI) “Golden Brown” single. The CD edition added a “10” era outtake, “You” (although the famous “Aural Fantasy” bootleg includes it, which is otherwise full of demos from the mid 80s, so perhaps it‘s older) and the 12” mix of “Skin Deep”. Also included was a unique live recording of “Peaches” from Bradford on 2nd March 1990 - as mentioned in my previous articles, all subsequent Epic era reissues/compilations which include a live version of “Peaches” play a different version from seemingly a different tour, meaning the Bradford version is unavailable anywhere else other than on this single. Given that, again, only 4000 copies exist of this single, this must make it one of the rarest officially released Mark 1 recordings.

As an aside, “Golden Brown” was later issued as a CD single with “No More Heroes” on the specialist reissue label Old Gold, in a generic Old Gold sleeve, which is probably of interest to completists but nobody else.


Always The Sun (Sunny Side Up Mix)/Burnham Beeches/Straighten Out (Live, Guildford Civic Hall 19.3.1990) (CD1, Epic 656430 3)
Live At Alexandra Palace EP: Always The Sun (Live, London 11.8.1990)/Nuclear Device (Live, London 11.8.1990)/All Day And All Of The Night (Live, London 11.8.1990)/Punch And Judy (Live, London 11.8.1990) (CD2, Epic 656430 5, unique p/s)
Golden Brown/You/Peaches (Live, Bradford St George’s Hall 2.3.1990)/Skin Deep (12” Mix) (CD, Epic 656761 2)

1992: In The Night

One theory behind Cornwell’s departure, if we take the “band had nowhere else to go” scenario, was that by leaving the band, he figured the remaining members would throw in the towel. But nobody else in the band wanted it to be the end. And so, after some discussion, the remaining trio decided to continue. The band had a ready made replacement guitarist, as John Ellis was simply elevated from second guitarist to lead (and only) guitarist but as regards the singer, that was more difficult. Ellis either couldn’t, or didn’t want to, sing, whilst Burnel didn’t really view himself as a proper singer - I am guessing that he knew the band, at some point, would have to play the likes of “Peaches” or “Golden Brown” or “No More Heroes”, and he probably figured he just didn’t have the right voice for them.

By late 1990, the band continued to exist as a functioning unit - I understand vocal-less demos were being taped by the new look band, and there was even a live appearance by a very brief seven piece version of the group when the band, minus Cornwell but with Ellis and the existing 3 piece brass section, appeared on youth culture/music show “The Word”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the band simply played something that Burnel had originally sang on, 1977’s “Something Better Change”, as opposed to trying anything else.

It was fairly obvious that a new singer was required, and it was Paul Roberts who was invited into the fold. A fan of the band, he was famously noted for being an “unknown” singer, the band preferring to head down this route rather hiring ’a name’, and various sources seem to either suggest he approached them, or “their people” approached “his people”. Either way, he was in, and the Mark 2 lineup made their debut in February 1991, with the first UK gig taking place at the Windsor Old Trout on the 25th.

Although there were reports of at least one audience versus band fracas during the UK tour that followed, a large number of fans stuck by the band as this huge change took place, and you will hear some supporters of the group talking about how Roberts revitalised the group. Now shorn of the brass section, and with some interesting choices with the back catalogue when it came to putting together the typical setlists of the time, the idea of having Roberts as front man changed the dynamic of the group. He started to adopt an Iggy Pop style persona on stage, and the rest of the band seemed to be energised by the actions of their new front man. Whilst some later claimed The Stranglers never worked with a frontman, reports at the time suggested the five piece version of the band worked brilliantly, and was an improvement over the sometimes workmanlike performances the band had reportedly trotted out during the “96 Tours” shows.

Work on the new album continued in earnest during the latter part of the year, and in March 1992, the band held their first ever fan convention in Peterborough, which included a 40 minute “new material” set, later issued on an SIS Fanclub Video (another subject worthy of an article in it’s own right). As I understand it, the album was pretty much done and dusted by this point, and yet there seemed to be some inactivity by their new label, China, with the album not finally scheduled for release until September 1992. The title, “Stranglers in The Night”, was another play on words (Sinatra‘s “Strangers In The Night“). Although the album did quite well, continuing the run of top 40 albums, the singles released failed to dent the top 40 - the first time a Stranglers album had spawned nothing but “flop” singles since “The MenInBlack”. Indeed, it seems not even the band knew what the label were up to - during a show in December 1993, Roberts introduced “So Uncool” as a “brand new old song”, as “In The Night” had recently been released in overseas territories with bonus tracks including this song, and he was thus seemingly unaware that had it appeared on the “Sugar Bullets” single a year previously!

“Heaven Or Hell” was released as the first single, and appeared on two CD editions. The first one, housed in an elaborate overzealously designed digipack sleeve (to enable the disc from the second edition to be tucked inside), featured a new studio B-side “Coffee Shop” (dating demo-wise, at least, I believe, from the immediate period after Cornwell’s departure) and a live version - by Mark 2 - of “Hanging Around”, taped on the 1991 UK tour. CD2 featured an edited mix of the a-side, another b-side (“Vicious Circles”) and another live track, this time “Brainbox” from the same tour.

“Sugar Bullets”, allegedly, was rush released after Radio 1 DJ Simon Bates claimed it was a hit in waiting, and the CD Single release included the radio edit of the A-side and the aforementioned “So Uncool”. The “In The Night” album was reissued a few years back, with all of these studio B-sides tagged on as bonuses, with the album itself housed in a white cover, as opposed to the original dark grey hue.

However, the live B-sides have never resurfaced since. Other formats of “Heaven Or Hell” included another new studio b-side, “Disappear”, which has also never appeared on CD in the UK (although it has in some overseas countries) and has failed to resurface anywhere again since. Over 21 years have passed since this album came out, and whilst the Mark 2 lineup would later be dismissed by many, and thus seemingly denting the overall desirability of this material, it’s still quite strange to think that whilst you can’t move for the re-emergence every few years of the EMI era B-sides, these “newer” ones are a lot harder to track down.


Heaven Or Hell/Coffee Shop/Hanging Around (Live, 1991) (CD1, Psycho/China WOKCD 2025)
Heaven Or Hell (Edit)/Vicious Circles/Brainbox (Live, 1991) (CD2, Psycho/China WOKCDR 2025)
Sugar Bullets (Edit)/So Uncool/Sugar Bullets (CD, Psycho/China PSYCD 002)

1993-1995: About Time

Now. I saw The Stranglers a lot during the nineties, and rarely did I ever think that I was witnessing a band in any sort of rut. “In the Night” sounded to me very much like the same brand of adult pop Mark 1 had quite successfully attempted on the likes of “Aural Sculpture”, and I can still recall the “Jet Black” chants that rang through the air as “The Raven” started up during the Town & Country gig in September 1992. The singer may have changed, but there still seemed to be an obsessive adoration for the group, and with many claiming “In The Night” to have buried the overblown ghost of “10”, the future seemed bright.

But whenever I read internet articles about the Mark 2 years now, it all seems to conjure up scenes of doom and gloom. Stories of band members failing to turn up for studio sessions, Burnel temporarily quitting the band, new boys Ellis and Roberts wishing to shoehorn large chunks of new material into the set, partly to try and earn some royalties from songs they were actually involved in, Roberts’ eventual departure greeted like the (ahem) Second Coming, the period is viewed now as a lengthy set of “wilderness years”.

Was it quite that bad? Well, there are certainly some interesting events that may or may not mean something. Another UK tour in Feb 93 saw performances of songs that would never make it onto a “proper” Stranglers album, “Mumble Jumble” and “Mr Big”. Never before had the band played something onstage that would then get ditched - was this a sign of material being deemed not good enough? The December 93 tour saw outings for “This God Is Mine”, another song that went AWOL although Roberts’ (at the time) side project, Soulsec, ended up releasing a version of it instead.

New material continued to get tried out onstage in 1994. I saw the band supporting The Kinks at Wembley Arena on March 26th, where “Cool Danny” was played. Soon after, I seem to recall somebody shouted out “play the hits”, and eventually, the likes of “All Day And All Of The Night” were duly rolled out. By the time the band hit the festival circuit in 1994, a sizeable chunk of new songs were being played alongside the oldies, and most of these songs were ones that would successfully make it onto the next studio effort, 1995’s “About Time”. There was still time for a November tour before the new record was ready to be released, dubbed the “Bodysearch” tour (the band had played a recent show in a prison, hence the name, and I think one of the support acts consisted of ex-cons), and at least four new songs were hauled out during each of the shows.

The overall problems with China Records led to the band looking for a new deal, and signed to Castle, with the band lined up to have their material released on a new imprint they were launching, When! Records. “About Time” was issued in May 1995, with the band conducting a series of instore mini gigs to help promote the album, some of which were followed by a record signing, and some of which weren’t. I was always confused by this, because initial copies of the LP and CD editions came with a free signed print each - I bought it on Cassette so can’t answer this question myself, so were the signed prints just prints with a “printed” signature? If not, then why would you want your album signed, authentically, twice??

Anyway, the main issue to note here was that, for the first time in their lives, no single was released PRIOR to the issue of the LP - even though this was pretty much standard industry procedure. It was almost as if the band had been dumped into a has-beens pile by their new label, and just figured the hardcore fan base would get it into the charts, and that no amount of pre-release hype could result in anything different. A promo video was filmed for spiky album opener “Golden Boy”, but there was no single for it. “About Time” did still go top 40, and is regarded by many as Mark 2’s greatest (two thirds of an) hour, but you can’t help but think, what did the old boys in the band think about this promo approach by the label? Nine years on from having their major label bosses fill up their Wembley Arena rider with alcohol, they had almost gone backwards, a sort of indie band on a label unsure how to get them back into the big time.

A single was eventually released from the album afterwards, when the waltz like “Lies And Deception” turned up as a 45. It was issued on two CD editions, the first of which included new b-sides in the form of “Swim” and “Cool Danny”. The image on the front was of Roberts hung on a cross, taken from the “Golden Boy” video, with the band logo printed on the cross, and the image housed inside a black border. The second CD was done as a numbered limited edition, and was issued in a big box, which included the CD inside it’s own slim line jewel case, with enough space for the CD1 edition to be tucked in alongside. There was also a poster, which seemed to feature the front men lineup of Burnel, Roberts and Ellis, but with Dave and Jet more or less hidden from view! The slim line case had a “negative” version of the image used on CD1, inside a white border (the image above is of the slightly different 12" pressing). New b-sides in the form of “Kiss The World Goodbye” and “Bed Of Nails” were included. Quite how many were made I’m unsure, the numbering system is of the 4-digit variety, so I can’t imagine any more than 9000 copies were pressed, if that many. Not one of the four tracks that appeared across the CD’s have appeared anywhere since in the UK, so I would argue the two tracks from the numbered CD2 edition must stand up as premier Mark 2 rarities.


Lies And Deception/Swim/Cool Danny (CD1, When! WENX 1007)
Lies And Deception/Kiss The World Goodbye/Bed Of Nails (Numbered CD2, When! WENX 1008, unique p/s + poster)

1995-1997: Written In Red

Even though the “ho hum” marketing of the band suggested a group on it's last legs, live, they were still a major attraction. A June tour in 1995 was a virtual sellout, whilst the consensus is that a second UK tour the following December saw the band firmly at the top of their game, the “phoned-in” style performance of the “Ally Pally” show now a distant memory.

Much of 1996 was spent seemingly out of view - aside from a third fan convention in London in September (the second had taken place in September 93), it was mainly shows overseas, where new material was again being tried out.

In January 1997, “Written In Red” was issued by When!. It became the first Stranglers album to fail to hit the top 50, and although you will find dissenters of it’s predecessors, it does seem to be the major point at which the Burnel/Ellis tensions really seemed to impact on the music. Generally, what you will hear about this record, is that Burnel’s bass isn’t growling enough, Dave’s keyboards aren’t swirling enough, and that this is the most “pop” album the band ever made. But I listened to it again recently, and I really enjoyed it. Even that slightly oddball go at “Summer In The City” is quite entertaining. Mark 2’s “Dreamtime” maybe. But there did seem to be something going on behind the scenes - Ellis, in particular, was determined to move the band forwards, and was prepared to do so by writing songs that didn’t necessarily tick all the “trademark sounds” boxes. Burnel, possibly worn out by the record company situations, simply took a back seat and let him and Roberts take major control of the band. One theory is, had neither of them bothered, then The Stranglers may well have ceased to exist during the 1990s.

I once stumbled across an online interview with Burnel from late 97, where he was asked about why he was no longer singing either onstage, or on record (early Mark 2 gigs saw him retain the mic for “London Lady”). He mentioned something about simply not wanting to sing anymore. But I think I also saw a comment, from the Mark 1 days, that if he generally came up with a song entirely on his own, he would get to sing it. So maybe, if you add two and two together, then alter the answer a bit, then factor in another quote I think which mentioned “writers block”, then maybe Burnel’s seemingly reduced involvement in “Written In Red” was a combination of all of the above.

A week after the album had been released, promoted again by more in-store shows, the majestic “In Heaven She Walks” was issued as a single by the label. As before, it generally fell on deaf ears. Two CD editions were released. CD1 was issued in a mostly black sleeve, and is notable for not featuring the band’s famous logo on the cover (see also “5 Minutes”, “Walk On By”, etc for more examples). The album had gone down a similar path, with the logo used as part of the overall artwork, rather than being used as part of the main cover (it was near the spine of the CD edition, but not on the CD inlay which formed the album’s front image). Anyhow, CD1 included a live version of “Golden Brown” from a Kentish Town Forum show (the former T&C) on 16th December 1995 (I was there) along with an extended mix of the a-side - the band surely being one of the last to still be doing 80’s style extended mixes (as opposed to what everyone else was doing, which was heavily revamped dance reworkings). CD2 used a still from the video on the cover, and featured more live tracks from the same show, namely “Grip” (Mark 2 do Mark 1’s debut) and “Something Better Change” (Mark 2 with Roberts on vocals, do a Mark 1 tune that was sung by Burnel).

It is worth pointing out that numerous shows on that December 95 tour were recorded, and a fan club album called “Access All Areas” was issued in 1996, which featured the typical setlist from the tour, sourced from multiple shows. There were no recordings from the Forum gig, and aside from another version of “Grip” taped in Nottingham, the remaining songs did not “double up” with the b-sides from the single (space constraints really). It should not be confused with the 1998 “Exclusive Fan Club CD”, which although sharing a similar catalogue number, was actually a 15 song set from the 1997 “Written In Red” tour.


In Heaven She Walks/Golden Brown (Live London The Forum 16.12.1995)/In Heaven She Walks (Extended Version) (CD1, When! WENX 1018)
In Heaven She Walks/Grip (Live London The Forum 16.12.1995)/Something Better Change (Live London The Forum 16.12.1995) (CD2, When! WENX 1020, diff p/s)

1997-2004: Coup De Grace and Mark 3

There was no immediate tour for “Written In Red”, but the band instead played a one off show at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday June 13th 1997. Backed by a string section, the show was filmed for TV, and was billed as an anniversary show, marking the date that the band had signed to United Artists at the start of their career, some 21 years previous. The band, meanwhile, moved from When! to Eagle, and a VHS release of the show appeared as “Friday The 13th”, featuring all but one of the songs the band played that night (“Ice Queen”, despite being shown on the TV broadcast, was missing). An even more edited CD release appeared concurrently, and you can now get a CD+DVD doublepack if you so wish.

I guess, as with anything, perception can play a part whenever you are looking at something in particular, and for me, The Stranglers did seem to become even more of a cult band in the years that followed. I started to see the band less frequently, although this may simply be because the band themselves weren’t playing as much - the “Written In Red” tour, conducted in the fall, included no dates in London (which was where I was living at the time, so the RAH gig was the only one for the year), and the band thereafter began to settle into playing the UK on an annual basis and no more. The days when I had seen them play four times a year (93 and 95) now over.

1998’s “Coup De Grace” really seems to divide people. Issued seemingly without warning by Eagle, it charted somewhere around the number 171 position, a quite shocking chart position for a band once so immensely popular. People moaned about the muddy production and the general quality of the songs. I saw the band play the (seated) Brentwood Centre in the fall, and it all felt a bit “unexciting”. Perhaps it was just the set up of the venue. But I do seem to recall hearing them play a song off the new album called “Tonight”, and it seemed dangerously MOR.

I didn’t buy the album when it first came out. Every so often, I will deliberately let an album go, with a view to getting it more cheaply sometime later. I eventually saw a cheap copy of “Coup De Grace” on sale somewhere. Eagle hadn’t even bothered to release anything from the LP as a single by this point. It felt unloved. It looked like the artwork had been created as some form of Powerpoint presentation, the songs titles on the back in a fancy (but tacky) font. I played the album - and fell in love with it.

It’s regarded as the album where Burnel suddenly woke up, and concerned with Ellis’s ongoing takeover of the band, decided to wrestle control back. The band had always been a democracy - the decision to credit all band members with song writing duties on all their records, even if somebody hadn’t contributed anything to said song is an example - but Burnel figured he had to take charge. He ended up not only writing a sizeable chunk of material for the album, but made the decision - just like the old days - to sing them as well. OK, so the worst song on here was actually one of his (“Known Only Unto God”), but he helped to create a fascinating, and quite varied, LP.

It’s a strange one though. Only four numbers from the LP made it onto the setlists of that 1998 tour, suggesting a lack of confidence in the new songs, but some of these tunes were glorious - the keyboard overload of the title track, the mad techno bounce of “God Is Good” - and a tape of the Hanley Royal show that is doing the rounds from the time sounds quite thrilling to these ears. Roberts later admitted some dissatisfaction with the album, because he had had less input than on previous albums, but to me, it’s Mark 2’s very own “MenInBlack” - arguably patchy, occasionally inspired, and the calm before the storm. After “MenInBlack”, we got “La Folie” and “Golden Brown”. What came after “Coup De Grace”? The remarkable “Norfolk Coast”.

After an EMI era hits album, “Hits And Heroes”, was promoted by a 1999 tour in which little from the actual album was played on stage, Ellis left the band in early 2000 to be replaced by Baz Warne, specifically head hunted by the band who were determined to recruit somebody who they thought would fit into the band - one of his former bands, Smalltown Heroes, had supported The Stranglers on tour twice, and he had become friends with Roberts. Warne’s first duties were to play festival shows in the summer of 2000, but new material of a sort appeared in 2001, with the release of “5 Live 01” (seemingly mostly a Mark 2 gig from 1995 at Shepherds Bush, but with Ellis’s guitar parts overdubbed by Warne) and the mail order only acoustic outing “Laid Black”.

The band showcased new material at their fourth fan convention, at Pontins in Minehead, in September 2001 (following on from the performances of “Big Thing Coming” and “Norfolk Coast” on a Burnel solo tour conducted during 2000), when the likes of “Dutch Moon” and “I’ve Been Wild” were featured amongst the varied sets the band played over the weekend (both acoustic and electric). The electric set seemed to be an excuse to try out a “new” cover version, when the band had a stab at The Stones’ “Out Of Time”. This period of the band seems to be shrouded in secrecy, and although at the time of writing, a bootleg from this show is the only release upon which I have the band’s version of the song, I really don’t know if it was played again before or after, as the internet doesn’t seem to have much detail about the early part of the Mark 3 years at all.

New material was tried out during gigs in 2003, with the likes of “Mine All Mine” and “Tuckers Grave” now getting outings, and at the end of the year, the band decided to try and show people they were still alive by accepting a support slot on a UB40 arena tour. By now, the new album, “Norfolk Coast”, was completed. The band had recorded the album without any label support, and just as “In The Night” had been released on their own Psycho label with marketing help from China, the band were prepared to put it out themselves if need be - they had formed a company called Coursegood, who dealt mainly with merchandising, but several other mail order only albums had been issued as part of the new set up (the “official bootleg” releases, “Rattus Britanicus” and “Forgotten Heroes”, along with “Live At The Apollo”, all seemed, in theory, to be Coursegood associated releases. Again, another part of the band‘s past worthy of a more in depth look in the future).

However, the album was hawked around the labels to see if anybody would help with the distribution of the record, and it was EMI who got hugely excited when they heard it and promptly re-signed the band. It may not have got the group back into the top 40 (indeed, “About Time” still remains their last studio album to dent the top 40), but it was the subject of ecstatic reviews, many citing it as their best since “Aural Sculpture”, released some 20 years previous.

Two singles were issued to help promote the LP. “Big Thing Coming”, the band’s first top 40 hit since the Mark 1 days, was issued on two different CD editions, both using the same “Norfolk Coast” band image, but in different coloured sleeves. CD1 included a live version of “Tucker’s Grave” and an enhanced CD Rom section which did not, strangely, include the video for “Big Thing”. Story goes, after the video was completed, the band figured the sections in which they featured had been filmed “too darkly” and the video was unofficially disowned. As such, the CD Rom played the Electronic Press Kit footage for the album, and the video was left to rot, before appearing on the likes of YouTube. Even the recent “Never To Look Back” mail order DVD collection of promo clips doesn’t feature it (although a live version is included instead). CD2 featured a re-recorded version of “Peaches”, dubbed “Peaches 2004” - although it was actually taped back in 2002, and even turned up on a promo CD that year, where it was dubbed “Peaches 2002”! A video was also filmed, and can also be found on “Never To Look Back”.

Follow up 45 “Long Black Veil” didn’t do quite so well, and was issued on only one CD edition. This includes the radio edit mix of the a-side, “Waltzinblack” (yet again!) and a new Burnel sung b-side called “Life’s Too Short”. Aside from those mentioned, none of the b-sides from these singles have appeared again since.


Big Thing Coming/I Don’t Agree/Tucker’s Grave (Live)/Big Thing Coming EPK (Video) (CD1, EMI 548 0690)
Big Thing Coming/Peaches 2004 (CD2, EMI 548 0692, diff colour p/s)
Long Black Veil (Radio Edit)/Life’s Too Short/Waltzinblack/Long Black Veil (CD, EMI 548 9062)

2005-2006: Suite XVI

“Norfolk Coast” seemed to revitalise the band. In the tour that followed, setlists were split more or less 50/50 between songs from the new album and the oldies - even at the festival shows. A mail order live album from the tour, “Coast By Coast”, duly followed. But there was trouble at mill. Roberts would later be quoted as saying he was disappointed that in order for the band to move forward (critically and commercially), it was achieved by making an album which unashamedly referenced the band’s past. Like Ellis, Roberts had always been interested in creating songs that added to the back catalogue, as opposed to ones that seemed like a homage to the past. Nonetheless, the band continued to tour, but at some point, there was a split emerging between Roberts and the rest of the band.

Warne recently mentioned in an interview that at some point, Roberts began turning up late for rehearsals, which suggested a man unhappy with his role in the band. As work began on the band’s sixteenth studio effort, Roberts continued to contribute songs for the album, only for all of them to be rejected as “not good enough”. The situation was worsened when Burnel and Warne began working as a pair without him, which Roberts, as front man, felt undermined his position in the band.

With “Suite XVI” more or less complete, but with little song writing involvement from Roberts, the band sensed that he was feeling ostracised. Even though the artwork was finalised (a forthcoming EMI best of scheduled for a summer 2006 release was to feature a plug for the new LP), the band held a meeting where Roberts was asked if he wanted to leave. He admitted that he no longer felt part of the band, and the group parted ways with their singer who by this point, famously, had been in the band for as long as his predecessor.

With Warne having sung with his previous bands (and at the 2001 convention), Roberts’ vocal parts were re-recorded by either Burnel or Warne, dependent on whose voice suited the music better. Roberts was to be credited in the sleevenotes for the album, whilst history would show his involvement in other ways when a DVD was released from a late 2005 show, in which “Suite XVI” material had featured.

Warne, by default, was now the new front man, and just as the new compilation hit the shops, the new 4-piece line up debuted at a gig in Weston Super Mare on June 3rd 2006. The original plan had been to open the show with the Burnel sung “The Raven”, with the expectation that Roberts’ arrival would then be anticipated by the crowd for the second song. But then Warne would sing the second song, and the “Mark 4” lineup would be revealed onstage. But internet rumours got out, and by the time the band took to the stage at Weston, Roberts’ departure had become common knowledge.

The return to a 4 man line up was seen by many as a return to the “Stranglers of old”, with Warne able - at times - to do a snarling, Cornwell-esque, vocal on occasions. Many fans seemed happy that Roberts’ departure had removed the “front man” stylings of the Mark 2 and 3 lineups, but I do wonder if this is, at times, a rewriting of history - there are plenty of gig reviews from the so-called wilderness years knocking about which suggest that the shows these lineups of the band played, were routinely described as performances of “another classic gig”. Nonetheless, listening to some of the tapes of the Mark 4 shows that followed, does suggest the sound of a band firing on all cylinders, even if the days of bad banter by Cornwell and then Roberts had by now been replaced by little interaction with the crowd instead. Warne would occasionally manage a bad joke or two when inspired enough to do so.

“Suite XVI” was the subject of sometimes slightly overexcited reviews, almost as if the move back to the classic 4-man lineup had to be marked with “return to form” statements. For some, I guess, it was seen as being one step nearer to making it easier to get Cornwell back in the band. There are some good songs on this LP, but I still can’t quite give a thumbs up to the shabby Johnny Cash ’tribute’, “I Hate You”, despite it becoming a live fan favourite. But lead 45 “Spectre Of Love” revealed that the band had lost none of their melodic spark, and even though Warne’s elevation to “lead singer” was seen by many as a glorious return to the olden days, he himself admitted he had actually been sorry to see Roberts leave, and on occasions, his approach vocally to some of the older material seemed to be based on Roberts’ earlier interpretations, rather than making any attempt to sound like Cornwell (see the live renditions of “Strange Little Girl” or “Golden Brown”). In my opinion though, the next Mark 4 album, "Giants", was a superior beast.

Although “Unbroken” reached the promo stage, it was only “Spectre Of Love” which was released as a single, and nothing more. Just one CD edition was issued, backed with a live version of “Instead Of This”, lifted from the “On Stage On Screen” DVD. Given that the 7” edition of the single opted also for another song from the DVD, this meant that “Suite XVI” became the first Stranglers album, along with the single-less “Coup De Grace”, to spawn no “proper” b-sides. Both tracks were added as bonuses to the Japanese edition of the LP, but this seemed a bit academic really.


Spectre Of Love/Instead Of This (Live London Shepherds Bush Empire 2.12.2005) (CD, EMI 375 0342)

2006-2013: Giants

The band toured the UK in the fall of 2006, Europe in the spring of 2007, before returning for a handful of UK gigs in the summer of 2007, a mix of festival shows and related warm up gigs. In the fall of 2007, the band played a series of gigs where they replicated the set lists of shows played some 30 years before in London, Glasgow and Manchester. Where possible, the band returned to the same venue, and the show at London’s Roundhouse was filmed for a DVD release. The band’s equipment famously packed up midway through the gig, and when the equipment was fixed, the band decided - for continuity reasons - to start the show from scratch! “Rattus At The Roundhouse” was released at the end of the year, before later getting a full commercial release in a new sleeve.

More UK one offs and festival shows were conducted in 2008, before a fall tour of the UK was scheduled to coincide with a planned compilation by Sony called “Forty Two Forty”, a reference I think to the number of singles the band had released (although I can only make it 41 up to this point, and quite a few of these didn’t dent the top 40 at all). The album got no further than the promo stage, before the release was cancelled by the record label. The tour continued through Europe during the start of 2009, these shows seemingly having already been booked before the cancellation of the shows (the stage design of these gigs was based around the artwork for the album, which was a bit embarrassing).

EMI Gold managed to get a best of together in 2010, when the excellent “Decades Apart” appeared, the first proper career spanning release the band had ever put out (material from all sixteen albums, plus some non-album singles and two new songs). The band did come in for some stick by featuring the current line up on the cover, given that most of the material actually came from the Mark 1 days. Another UK tour was conducted to coincide, with the band’s first ever appearance at Glastonbury occurring later that summer. A mail order only live DVD from the Hammersmith show was later released as “Live At The Apollo”.

By now, the band were starting to do a regular “February/March” UK tour, and they returned again in 2011 with the “Black And Blue” tour. It was 33 years since the release of the much loved “Black And White” album, and I seem to recall that there was some discussion about the possibility of playing the show in full, or perhaps I imagined that. But the tour name did suggest the album was in the forefront of the band’s thoughts, and several songs from the LP did make it into the setlist. The tour was followed by a European acoustic tour, something that the band were starting to do on an increasing basis. Another mail order acoustic album had been released by this time, “The Meninblack In Brugge”, which also received a proper full blown release in 2012, repackaged and retitled as “Acoustic in Brugge”.

During the fall of 2011, with a new album now very close to release, the band held their fifth fan convention in London in November. Aside from an acoustic set, the band also played two electric sets, one where they did (almost) play the whole of “Black And White” in full (“Enough Time”, a struggle to get right in Mark 1 days, was still traumatic and so wasn’t attempted), before finishing with a few “related” songs from the period, such as “Mean To Me” and “5 Minutes”. The other setlist was more of an oldies and “new material” set.

The shows the band played that weekend were filmed, and a mail order only package called “The Weekend In Black” was scheduled for release early in 2012. It was to be issued as a triple disc set - consisting of a DVD featuring the “Acoustic” and “Black And White” sets, with a CD also featuring the “Black And White” set. Disc 3 was to be a copy of the band’s new album, “Giants”.

The original plan was for the set to be released before “Giants” was due to receive it’s full scale commercial release, but due to various technical issues, the set got delayed - so delayed in fact, that copies were not due to be shipped out until the actual proper release of the album. As an apology, everybody who ordered the set received a free promo copy of “Giants”, which was housed in a “censored” sleeve.

I am not quite sure when it happened, but the band were now no longer on EMI. Instead, the release had the “Coursegood” legend all over it, but seemed to have been distributed by an indie label, Absolute. Aside from the standard CD in the “uncensored” cover, there was a 2-CD edition released with the “Acoustic” set from the “Weekend In Black” release included in audio form only on a bonus CD.

The aforementioned “Mercury Rising” CD Single was issued later on in 2012. It included the radio edit and instrumental mixes of the a-side, along with live recordings of the a-side and “Sometimes” from the 2012 tour conducted in support of the LP (which included UK dates in the spring once more). The live tracks were lifted from the, at the time, untitled “new live album”. This album was eventually released in early 2013 as “Feel It Live”, and the band toured the UK - again - to promote it. The album was initially released as a mail order only release, and featured most of the songs that had made up the typical 2012 setlist. “Walk On By”, taped on the tour but unable to be included on the CD due to space constraints, was later offered as a free download from the band’s website for a short period of time. “Feel It” was later given a full release, although the artwork used seemed to involve photographing the sleeve of the mail order release, and was thus severely lacking in quality. A European release was conducted, housed in a superior “rat” picture sleeve, whilst “Giants” was later issued in 2013 in the US by Fontana North, with initial copies coming with the “Feel It” album as a free bonus disc.

The 2014 tour seems to be nothing more than an excuse to celebrate the formation of the earliest incarnation of the band way back in 1974, and it remains to be seen what happens thereafter, as Jet Black’s sometimes ailing health problems have been cited as a possible reason to throw in the towel. He is still appearing (even if only in part) on many of the tour dates the band play, although rarely for shows outside the UK anymore. The critical acclaim lauded on “Giants” does seem to have helped maintain the interest in the band, with many of the opinion that the problems associated with the latter-day Mark 1 gigs and subsequent “wilderness” years, have been well and truly put behind them.


Mercury Rising (Edit)/Sometimes (Live 2012)/Mercury Rising (Live 2012)/(Instrumental) (CD, Coursegood CG 006)

Sunday, 8 December 2013


When Britpop began to fall from grace in the late 90s, it came in for a bit of a kicking from the very same people who had championed it only a matter of years before. It was dismissed as a retro sounding, non-forward thinking style of music, “meat and potatoes” indie. Bands either fell off the radar and split up, fell out with each other and split up, and those that survived did so either by being too big to split up initially (Oasis) or reinvented themselves as Pavement obsessed anti-pop guitar manglers (Blur).

But you have to remember, that most of these bands - the good ones at least - had quite good reference points, and were merely emulating their idols. Bowie, The Kinks, The Beatles, the good thing about Britpop was that bands who would otherwise have stayed marginalised broke through into the mainstream. Shows like “Top Of The Pops”, that had started the decade by still featuring the likes of 2 Unlimited, were now more or less being forced into having guitar bands make an appearance, as slowly but surely, the latest wave of indie-poppers began denting the top 40.

Leading the charge, at least as regards the smaller bands of the time, were Sleeper, led by the rent-a-quote indie pin up queen Louise Wener, and her band of anonymous “Sleeperblokes”. They made some quite decent tunes, and for a while, were huge popstars. Wener had formed the band at Manchester Uni, where, inspired by pop acts like Madonna, she figured a female fronted band who weren’t scowling at the top of their lungs, like Hole or L7, might have a chance at the big time. They actually found themselves emerging at the time alongside a whole host of other female fronted bands with a similar approach (see also Salad, Tiny Monroe and Echobelly), and then crashed and burned relatively quickly, although Wener later reinvented herself as a writer, and still makes it into the public eye now and again.

Like most single twenty something indie boys, I was quite obsessed with Wener at the time. She was born in Gants Hill, a bus ride or two away from where I used to live, so she became something of an East London local hero when Sleeper became big news in 1995. I recall going to see them play at some TOTP organised “indie mini festival” at Wembley Arena in 1996, and they were the only band playing who I liked. They had to go to America that night, so asked to open the show because they had to race off to the airport, even though they were deserving of a much higher place on the bill. They came on at about half six, played for 40 odd minutes, and that was it. I left straight away, and remember passing queues of latecomers still waiting to get into the venue, obviously only interested in the sub-Weller dadrock nonsense of Ocean Colour Scene that was due along later that night.

Sleeper emerged in 1993, being signed to RCA offshoot Indolent, an “indie” label being bankrolled by a major. They released their first single, the “Alice” EP, that year, although it was more of a maxi single really, consisting of only three songs, and was the first of several releases that would include, as their lead track, a very early preview of material due to make their debut LP several years later. The relevant track on this EP was the opening “Alive In Vain”. Some copies were exported to North America, where the band were billed as “Sleeper UK” and stickers featuring their US name were placed over their UK moniker. Like many of their early releases, it was issued on both 7” and CD with identical track listings.

Single number 2, “Swallow”, dented the top 100, and featured an alternate version of a song later to be re-recorded for the LP, “Twisted”, as one of the bonus tracks. Catchy-as-hell follow up single “Delicious” appeared in May 1994, which alongside the usual 3 track 7” and CD editions, was also issued on 12” with a bonus track, “Tatty”. This song later got a second lease of life when it appeared on the “For Immediate Use” freebie cassette, given away with a copy of the now defunct music mag Raw.

By now, the band were starting to attract attention - I seem to recall Wener was already starting to fascinate the press with her outspoken quotes and sometimes deliberately provocative behaviour, done really to try and promote the band, even if she didn’t necessarily agree with the actual things she was saying. I also think that “Delicious” b-side “Lady Love Your Countryside” was titled so that the final word could be used to terrify TV execs if the band played it live on a television show, but I could be wrong. With the band’s profile starting to rise, they managed to get "Supermarket Sweep" star Dale Winton to appear in the video for their next single, “Inbetweener”, the band’s first really big hit, and one of the more famous records from the era.

“Smart” was issued in March 95, garnering positive reviews, a decent chart position, with sizeable units shifted. The vinyl edition of the album included a repressing of the original “Alice” 7”, as these were starting to fetch big money on the collectors market. Thanks to the inclusion of material from the earlier singles, much of the album would have been already quite well known to a lot of people when it came out (albeit sometimes in re-recorded form), and even so-called new album track “Bedhead” had appeared before, in live form at the end of 1994, when it appeared on the “Bucket And Spade” mail order/gig freebie 7”.

A re-recorded track from the LP, “Vegas” (featuring Graham Coxon on saxophone), appeared a few weeks later, a quite brilliant piece of indie (power) pop. Showing where their influences were coming from, the B-side was a cover of The Pretenders’ “Hymn To Her”. 7” copies were pressed on blue vinyl, whilst the CD edition added additional bonus tracks. The band later supported REM that summer at one of their two gigs at Milton Keynes Bowl, where Michael Stipe famously sang “Happy Birthday” to Louise mid way through their set. Having spent some 18 months to get from their debut EP to their debut LP, the band were now seemingly on a roll, and brand new material appeared in September, when “What Do I Do Now” turned up as the band’s latest 45. The multi formatting really started in earnest here, with a second CD single featuring live B-sides in a unique sleeve being offered to fans. It became their biggest hit so far.

Several months passed before the band’s second album was ready for release, and the LP was previewed by the “Sale Of The Century” single in April 1996. 7” and Cassette copies included the band’s cover of Blondie’s “Atomic”, originally taped for the “Trainspotting” soundtrack album, and although the band came in for some stick for their (slightly rough) cover, well, let’s face it, even Led Zeppelin couldn’t have improved on the original.

“The It Girl” followed “Smart” into the UK album chart top 10, and was regarded to be an improvement over it’s predecessor, Wener being praised for her strong song writing skills - her lyrics at times were deliberately in-yer-face, whilst the pop influences were noticeable via the hooks and melodies that the songs contained. It was guitar music, but less 'Sonic Youth' and more 'Squeeze' in it's approach. “Nice Guy Eddie” followed “Sale Of The Century” into the top 10, and the likes of Elvis Costello came forward as a fan, inviting them to record a cover of one of his songs for the b-side of a single, whilst also covering one of their songs at a later date. Some formats of “Nice Guy Eddie” featured a comedy cover of “Inbetweener” by Radio 1 DJ’s Mark And Lard, under the title of “Ugly Bleeder”.

“Statuesque” appeared as the next single in late 1996, with the 7” edition coming in a fancy gatefold sleeve, and the aforementioned Costello cover appearing on one of the two CD singles that were released. It should have heralded the next phase of the band, but it was really the turning point, the highpoint before the problems set in. After the US tour (supporting Costello), there was a UK tour in December where the band played a celebratory homecoming (for Louise) show at the Ilford Island, but there was trouble on the horizon. The band were more or less forced into recording a new album almost immediately to keep up with the momentum they had obtained, but the thing was, that the group were starting to burn out.

In late 97, the band released their third album, “Pleased To Meet You”, trailed by the glorious horn driven romp that was “She’s A Good Girl”. By this point, bass player Diid Osman had quit, soon to be replaced by Dan Kauffmann, joining original members Jon Stewart and Andy Maclure. The album was issued in two different sleeves, with the LP version featuring a front cover image of Louise from when she was at school, done I think to show how even a geeky Essex girl could become a popstar. Promo copies came in a third variant sleeve, with all three band members (no Kauffmann - he wasn’t quite in the band just yet) proudly on show - the standard Cassette and CD editions featured a current image of Wener, alone, on the front cover.

And then it all started to unravel. The album had also dented the top 10, but a forthcoming tour was postponed, unofficially I believe, due to poor ticket sales, and was rescheduled for the following spring - enough time to try and shift more tickets I guess. But “She’s A Good Girl” had failed to go top 20, and the band were convinced that the label would withdraw their support. A follow up single, “Romeo Me”, fared even worse, stalling at number 39 despite being multi formatted across two CD editions and an oversized 7” single, which had a unique B-side pressed on clear vinyl, free postcards and a “Marilyn Monroe” cover not used on any of the other formats. Originally, three more singles had been planned by the label, but when the third of these, “Rollercoaster”, got cancelled, it showed that the end was nigh.

Wener mentioned in The Guardian some years later that when they filmed the video for “She’s A Good Girl”, it was on the same day that Princess Diana died, and the band felt that the tide had turned. By the start of 1998, Robbie Williams was turning into a superstar, and with Blur having already started copying the bands they previously claimed to have hated, Wener felt the Britpop bubble was about to burst. I recall seeing the band play what felt, to me, like an underwhelming show at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend, far from being a sellout, despite the extra time bought from the postponement being a potential opportunity for increased ticket sales. The final gig was at London’s Brixton Academy, which the band did feel was a celebratory affair, so maybe I just didn’t fully enjoy the Southend one, or maybe the crowd were a bit boring, I can’t quite remember. It just felt less euphoric than all the other times I had seen them, the Ilford gig had felt like a big party. Sleeper announced their split soon after, a rather low key ending for a band that had, just three years earlier, been critically acclaimed press darlings.


Given the vogue now for reissuing pretty much anything, no matter how niche the reissue might be, Sleeper have had a few releases in recent years that have revamped the back catalogue, suggesting there is still some interest in the band. Aside from a “Greatest Hits” album (one which included a b-side, so that obviously wasn’t a hit), the band’s first two albums have been reissued in expanded form by Cherry Red, collating most of the rarities from the relevant period, but not all (single versions seemingly absent).

The list below features more or less everything the band released on 45 in the UK, plus details of the three LP’s. The early period singles, as you can see, were sometimes issued on “pointless” formats but are listed on the basis that any missing tracks from these formats are now on the Cherry Red releases. Anything that is missing, is missing for a reason.


Smart (CD, Indolent SLEEP CD 007)
The It Girl (CD, Indolent SLEEP CD 012)
Pleased To Meet You (LP, unique p/s + poster, Indolent SLEEP 016)
Pleased To Meet You (CD, Indolent SLEEP 016 CD)


Alice EP: Alice In Vain/Ha Ha You’re Dead/Big Nurse (7”, Indolent SLEEP 001)
Alice EP: Alice In Vain/Ha Ha You’re Dead/Big Nurse (CD, Indolent SLEEP 001 CD)

Swallow/Twisted/One Girl Dreaming (7“, Indolent SLEEP 002)
Swallow/Twisted/One Girl Dreaming (CD, Indolent SLEEP 002 CD)

Delicious/Lady Love Your Countryside/Bedside Manners (7”, Indolent SLEEP 003)
Delicious/Lady Love Your Countryside/Bedside Manners/Tatty (12“, Indolent SLEEP 003 T)
Delicious/Lady Love Your Countryside/Bedside Manners (CD, Indolent SLEEP 003 CD)

Bucket And Spade EP: Bedhead (Live)/Alice In Vain (Live)/Swallow (Live) (Numbered Mail Order 7” in die cut sleeve, Indolent SLEEP 004, first 500 pressed on green vinyl)

Inbetweener/Little Annie (7”, Indolent SLEEP 006)
Inbetweener/Little Annie (Cassette in “Cereal Box” p/s, Indolent SLEEP 006 MC, with free stickers)
Inbetweener/Little Annie/Disco Duncan/Bank (12“, Indolent SLEEP 006 T)
Inbetweener/Little Annie/Disco Duncan (CD, Indolent SLEEP 006 CD)

Vegas (New Version)/Hymn To Her (Numbered Blue Vinyl 7”, Indolent SLEEP 008, 5000 only)
Vegas (New Version)/Hymn To Her (Cassette, Indolent SLEEP 008 MC)
Vegas (New Version)/Hymn To Her/It’s Wrong Of You To Breed/Close (12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Indolent SLEEP 008 T)
Vegas (New Version)/Hymn To Her/It’s Wrong Of You To Breed/Close (CD, Indolent SLEEP 008 CD)

What Do I Do Now?/Paint Me/Room At The Top (Numbered 7” in unique p/s, Indolent SLEEP 010, 2000 only)
What Do I Do Now?/Paint Me (Cassette, Indolent SLEEP 009 MC)
What Do I Do Now?/Paint Me/Room At The Top (CD1, Indolent SLEEP 009 CD1)
What Do I Do Now?/Disco Duncan (Live Cardiff University 3.3.1995)/Vegas (Live London Astoria 9.3.1995)/Amuse (Live Cardiff University 3.3.1995) (CD2 in unique p/s, Indolent SLEEP 009 CD2)

Sale Of The Century/Atomic (Numbered Green Vinyl 7”, Indolent SLEEP 011, 10000 only)
Sale Of The Century/Atomic (Cassette, Indolent SLEEP 011 MC)
Sale Of The Century/Package Holiday/Oh Well (CD, Indolent SLEEP 011 CD)

Nice Guy Eddie/Inbetweener (Live London Shepherds Bush Empire 13.10.1995)/Ugly Bleeder (7” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, Indolent SLEEP 013)
Nice Guy Eddie/Inbetweener (Live London Shepherds Bush Empire 13.10.1995)/Ugly Bleeder (Cassette in “living room” p/s, Indolent SLEEP 013 MC)
Nice Guy Eddie/Pokerface/Blazer Sleeves (CD, Indolent SLEEP 013 CD)

Statuesque/She’s A Sweetheart (Numbered 7” in “board game” p/s with poster, Indolent SLEEP 014, 10000 only)
Statuesque/She’s A Sweetheart/Spies (CD1, Indolent SLEEP 014 CD1)
Statuesque (LP Version)/(The Boxed Off Mix)/The Other End Of The Telescope/Atomic (Wubble U Mix) (CD2, different p/s, SLEEP 014 CD2)

She’s A Good Girl/Come On Come On/I’m A Man (CD, Indolent SLEEP 015 CD)

Romeo Me/Cunt London (Numbered Clear Vinyl 7”, “Monroe” p/s with 3 postcards, Indolent SLEEP 17, supposedly 3000 only but some copies numbered as high as 3500)
Romeo Me/This Is The Sound Of Someone Else/What Do I Get?/Nice Guy Eddie (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Version 11.5.1996) (CD1, Indolent SLEEP 17 CD1)
Romeo Me/When Will You Smile?/What Do I Do Now? (BBC Radio 1 Evening Session Version 20.11.1995)/Motorway Man (Artic Mix) (CD2, Indolent SLEEP 17 CD2)


Inbetweener/Little Annie/Disco Duncan/Bank (Promo 12“ in die cut sleeve, Indolent DOLE 004)
Inbetweener (Live The White Room 11.3.1995) (Cassette, from “The White Room Album”)
Disco Duncan (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Version 25.10.1994) (CD, Melody Maker MM/BBC CD 97-99, from “Hold On”)
Tatty (Cassette, from “Raw - For Immediate Use”)
Nice Guy Eddie/Pokerface/Blazer Sleeves (Promo CD Single, Indolent DOLE 039, unique “titles” p/s)
Sale Of The Century (Live Leeds Town & Country Club 9.4.1996) (CD, Harmless CTYCD 96, from “Radio One Sound City Leeds 1996”)
Statuesque (Promo Acetate CDR, Indolent no cat. No., unique p/s)
She’s A Good Girl (Promo CD Single, Indolent DOLE 074, unique p/s)
Pleased To Meet You (Promo CD Album, Indolent DOLE 076, unique p/s)

Monday, 2 December 2013

Elvis Presley: UK 45’s 1956-1977

I know I keep mentioning it, but there is no getting away from the fact that the 1996 “Original Elvis Presley Collection” boxset simply didn’t manage to include everything the man had recorded and released during his lifetime, even though the sheer size of the thing would make you think it should have done. Hyped very much as a career overview from start to finish, it’s still a good effort, and was, for me, a great way of getting into the expansive back catalogue.

Aside from the movie soundtrack albums, and the budget label releases, there were not too many other albums issued during that period that included rarities that didn’t make the box. But quite a few greatest hits albums did get the nod, and between them, cobbled together a large number of A-sides (and a lot of B-sides) from the period that would have otherwise also gone AWOL.

Elvis released a huge chunk of 45’s in the UK, and I thought it would make sense to detail the ones released up until 1977. In recent years, there have been some box sets and reissue campaigns which have made a few of them available again (and some, it seems, for the first time ever in the UK), so we shall concentrate on these releases for the main body of this blog. To clarify, posthumous releases are in the main not dealt with here, nor are Elvis’s original UK EP’s - these are complex subjects worthy of being looked at in greater isolated detail.

The Sun 45’s

Every fool knows that Elvis started his recording career at the famous Sun Records. But what’s never been that clear - to me anyway - is quite what got released when, and where. Although Elvis recorded well over an album’s worth of material for the label, initially, only ten recordings got released, spread out across five singles released in the US only during 1954 and 1955. The debut single, “That’s All Right”, eventually got a belated UK release when it appeared as a CD single in 2004 (RCA 82876 61921 2) housed in a sleeve designed to look like an original Sun single. An alternate take of the a-side was added as a bonus track.

When Elvis signed to HMV and then RCA, the Sun material was included as part of the deal, and material from the period started to appear on UK singles and albums. One of the later Sun singles appeared as a UK single in 1958 when “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone” surfaced on HMV as POP 428. Eight of the Sun tracks later appeared on the RCA albums “For LP Fans Only” and “A Date With Elvis”, and whilst certain editions of the latter also included “I Forgot To Remember To Forget”, the German edition of the album did not - meaning it is missing from the 96 boxset, as the CD included in there is based on the German tracklisting.

All ten songs - and other material from the period - made it onto 1976’s “The Sun Sessions”, but if you fancy getting repressings of all five Sun singles, you might be interested in the recent “Sun Singles Collection”. It exists partly because the 50 year copyright limit is up on this material, and the dubious looking Real Gone Music label have taken it upon themselves to repress the five singles on different coloured shades of vinyl, and put them in one big box. The original Sun labels have been kept for the release, so it all looks quite nice. Different versions of the box have the singles pressed in different colours (there seem to be editions in black, yellow, blue, red and pink), whilst disc 5 suggests the A-side is “Mystery Train” (sometimes viewed as the b-side), which had also been issued as a UK single by HMV in 1957 as POP 295. The Sun period resulted in several outtakes being shoved into the vaults, and more recent 'Elvis At Sun' releases have included all of the ten originals bolstered by these various alternate takes and unreleased songs.

The 18 Number Ones

In 2005, marking what would have been Elvis’s 70th birthday, RCA decided to reissue all of the eighteen Elvis singles that had topped the UK chart. This included any posthumous releases, so the remixed “A Little Less Conversation” got the nod - a flop in 1968, but Elvis‘s first UK chart topper for over 25 years when reissued in 2002. Each single was to be reissued on both 10” vinyl (a throwback to the size of the old 78rpm gramophone records, the format upon which a number of early Elvis singles were also issued on), housed in retro style RCA company sleeves, and also on CD in full picture covers. Elvis singles had usually been issued in the USA in picture sleeves, and these were to be used for the CD repressings in the UK. A few of these singles had been reissued before back in 1977 on 7”, also using the US covers, so this wasn’t the first time some of these singles were appearing in these sleeves.

The singles were released on a weekly basis, but if my memory serves me correctly, the usual online retailers offered them for sale en masse before the first one was even released, and some singles seemed to sell out before copies had the chance to reach the shops. All of them charted highly second time around, and even though some singles seemed impossible to hunt down at the time, you do seem to be able to track down some of the CD editions on the likes of Amazon even now, so I’m not sure where they were hiding all this time. All of the singles were numbered, but I recently tracked down a “One Night” CD which was not numbered - just a blank white space there instead of where the number should be on the back - so either additional copies were pressed at some point, or unnumbered copies were issued initially as promos.

The first reissue, “All Shook Up”, was housed in a box designed to hold all of the other 17 releases. This, along with all of the other releases, included the original B-side plus a “related” bonus track. Whilst quite a few of the reissues went down the rarities route by including an alternate take of the A or B side (although all had previously been released across a variety of earlier rarities albums), “All Shook Up” added “Heartbreak Hotel” as it’s bonus, on the basis it was Elvis’s debut UK single, and was thus of historical importance. Original copies of the box were shrinkwrapped, with the single already inside the box.

The CD editions actually featured the disc slipped into a mock RCA sleeve inside the outer packaging, thus killing two birds with one stone. Because the CD’s were replicating the original artwork, details of what the bonus track was was only listed on a sticker on the front, and as part of the inner sleeve.

The odd one out was, of course, “A Little Less Conversation”. Even though the (earlier) reissue had been issued on vinyl, no copies were ever released in die cut sleeves, so the 10” was housed in a special custom designed die cut sleeve, with the original grey and white “football” artwork replicated on the sleeve. The original 3 track CD from 2002 had featured short and long remixes, along with the original 1968 mix (RCA 74321 943572), the 2005 reissues omitted the original mix, and was thus shorter, rather than longer, than the original release.

Elvis The King

In 2007, marking the 30th anniversary of his death, 18 more singles were reissued under the “Elvis The King” banner. It was a similar approach as before - reissues on 10” and CD, many from the latter part of Elvis’s career, most of which were thus housed in the green and orange 60’s/70’s era RCA sleeves they were originally released in. For the "Number 1's" campaign, most of the singles were from the earlier part of Elvis's career, so were usually in the earlier red and white RCA Victor bags. Bonus tracks again padded out the releases, and this time, all were reissues of singles issued before 1977.

The choice of singles seemed slightly random. There were some big hitters here - “Always On My Mind”, “Suspicious Minds”, “In The Ghetto” and so on - but I still think the ones chosen were simply picked because of their status, and that they were not based on chart positions or record sales. They did all originally chart inside the top 20, but then again, so did most Elvis singles. Again, single number 1, “Heartbreak Hotel”, was housed in a box designed to hold all the remaining singles.

Slightly confusing matters along the way, was the release midway through the campaign by HMV - through HMV stores only I do recall - of “My Baby Left Me”, also on 10” and CD. Issued as an A-side back in the 50’s in selected foreign territories - but not in the US or the UK - this edition included the bonus tracks “One Sided Love Affair” and “Don’t Be Cruel”, the latter recorded live. The CD came in a full picture sleeve, and both the 10” and the CD were numbered, the latter including the video of the “Don’t Be Cruel” performance (HMV MHC 4004 51001). The video footage is also available on an Elvis DVD, so if you manage to find a sealed copy and want to keep it in mint condition, then you have an excuse not to open it!

It is also worth pointing out that the reissue campaign was also marked by another Elvis “best of”, when “Elvis The King” was released on CD to coincide. Whilst the typography from this set matched the logos being used on the reissued singles, the album itself was more of a full on greatest hits set, and as well as including some of the songs that were being reissued as part of the "King" campaign, it also included other hits in order to pad the set out.


Even during the late 50’s, some Elvis singles started to be reissued by RCA, often coupling two old “hits” on one disc. There was another run of these in the early 70’s, although these releases were generally issued as 3 or 4 track maxi-singles. A reasonable chunk of oldies were reissued on the Old Gold label in 1987, sometimes with the original B-side, sometimes with another hit on the flipside.

Whilst the reissues covered in this article from 2004 onwards were genuine revamps, with the original release coming with it’s original B-side and relevant picture sleeve, a number of singles had turned up as totally differently designed CD Singles from the 80s onwards. The famous laughing version of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” had appeared on a CD reissue of “Always On My Mind” in 1997 (RCA 74321 485422, another variant edition exists with an alternate A-side and different sleeve), long before appearing again as part of the 2005 campaign, having also already appeared as an a-side in it’s own right firstly in 1980 on 7” (RCA 196) and then again in 1991 on various formats, including a 4 track CD edition (RCA PD 49178).

“If I Can Dream” appeared in the early noughties as the lead track on the “America The Beautiful” EP (RCA 74321 90402 2). “Stuck On You”, issued in 1988, seems to have been the first single to get reissued on CD (RCA PD 49596), backed with the original B-side “Fame And Fortune“ plus two other tracks, whilst a live “Suspicious Minds” CD Single from 2002 (RCA 74321 855822), available in both numbered and un-numbered form, featured a mix shorter than that from the album it was promoting. There was a 1992 reissue for “Don’t Be Cruel”, which included an at the time unreleased version of “I Need Your Love Tonight”, issued on both 7” and CD (RCA 74321 11061 2).

There also exist some slightly oddball releases that couple together various hits on a single CD. A newspaper freebie from 2001, as a promo for the “50 Greatest Hits” release, included “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Return To Sender”, “Love Letters” and “I Just Can’t Help Believin‘” (RCA BMGSM62). There is also a 1998 Danish promo CD, an eight track EP (or mini album?), simply called “Elvis” (RCA 980 20412), which includes “Hound Dog”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, “All Shook Up”, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”, “Return To Sender” and “That’s All Right”. There were also a number of posthumous releases where an old song was being issued as a single in the UK for the first time (the remixed “Rubberneckin‘”, the late 1977 release of “My Way”, from the “Elvis In Concert” LP), I may try and detail these properly on a future blog.


The usual notes. This is the entire UK singles discography for 45’s released between 1956 and Elvis’s passing in 1977. Reissues are not detailed individually, I refer you to the excellent site if you want more detail on the reissues of older material that surfaced again when Elvis was still alive (and beyond). I have listed, for each single, the album from which the a-side was taken, or details of a later compilation where the track was included. Any single listed as being “from“ an album is defo in the box, any listed as “available on“ may not be, it depends on the album. Stuff from the 60s that were from Elvis movies were also housed in the 1992 “Double Features” compilations, and these, as you know, are in the 1996 boxset. Of course, many of these singles eventually appeared on multiple albums, so for the latter, I have just gone for the most obvious or interesting. For the singles reissued in 2005 and 2007, details are noted of the bonus track that was tagged onto the end of said reissue.


Heartbreak Hotel/I Was The One (1956, HMV 7M 385, 2007 reissue adds “Heartbreak Hotel (Alt. Take 6)”, from “Elvis' Golden Records”)
Blue Suede Shoes/Tutti Frutti (1956, HMV 7M 405, 2007 reissue adds “Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Alt. Take 1)”, from “Elvis Presley”)
I Want You I Need You I Love You/My Baby Left Me (1956, HMV 7M 424, from “Elvis' Golden Records”)
Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel (1956, HMV POP 249, 2007 reissue adds “Any Way You Want Me (Master)”, from “Elvis' Golden Records”)
Blue Moon/I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine (1956, HMV POP 272, from “Elvis Presley”)
Love Me Tender/Any Way You Want Me (1956, HMV 253, from “Elvis' Golden Records”)
Mystery Train/Love Me (1957, HMV POP 295, from “For LP Fans Only”)
Rip It Up/Baby Let’s Play House (1957, HMV POP 305, from “Elvis”)
Too Much/Playin’ For Keeps (1957, HMV POP 330, from “Elvis' Golden Records”)
All Shook Up/That’s When Your Heartaches Begin (1957, HMV POP 359, 2005 reissue adds “Heartbreak Hotel”, from “Elvis' Golden Records”)
Teddy Bear/Loving You (1957, RCA 1013, 2007 reissue adds “Loving You (Farm Version, Alt. Take 6)”, from “Loving You”)
Paralyzed/When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again (1957, HMV POP 378, from “Elvis”)
Party/Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do (1957, RCA 1020, 2007 reissue adds “Got A Lot O’ Livin’ To Do (Movie Master, Take 17)”, from “Loving You”)
Tryin’ To Get To You/Lawdy Miss Clawdy (1957, HMV POP 408, from “Elvis Presley”)
Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)/Santa Claus Is Back In Town (1957, RCA 1025, from “Elvis’ Christmas Album”)
I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone/How Do You Think I Feel (1958, HMV POP 428, from “For LP Fans Only”)
Jailhouse Rock/Treat Me Nice (1958, RCA 1028, 2005 reissue adds “Treat Me Nice (Movie Version)”, from “Elvis' Golden Records”)
Don’t/I Beg Of You (1958, RCA 1043, 2007 reissue adds “I Beg Of You (Alt. Take 5)”, from “Elvis' Gold Records Volume 2”)
Wear My Ring Around Your Neck/Don’cha Think It’s Time (1958, RCA 1058, 2007 reissue adds “Don’cha Think It’s Time (Alt. Take 48)”, from “Elvis' Gold Records Volume 2”)
Hard Headed Woman/Don’t Ask Me Why (1958, RCA 1070, 2007 reissue adds “Steadfast Loyal And True (Undubbed Master)”, from “King Creole”)
King Creole/Dixieland Rock (1958, RCA 1081, 2007 reissue adds “King Creole (Alt. Take 18)”, from “King Creole”)
One Night/I Got Stung (1959, RCA 1100, 2005 reissue adds “One Night Of Sin”, from “Elvis' Gold Records Volume 2”)
A Fool Such As I/I Need Your Love Tonight (1959, RCA 1113, 2005 reissue adds “A Fool Such As I (Alternate Version)”, from “Elvis' Gold Records Volume 2”)
A Big Hunk O’ Love/My Wish Came True (1959, RCA 1136, 2007 reissue adds “A Big Hunk O’ Love (Alt. Take 1), ”from “Elvis' Gold Records Volume 2”)
Stuck On You/Fame And Fortune (1960, RCA 1187, from “Elvis' Golden Records Volume 3”)
A Mess Of Blues/The Girl Of My Best Friend (1960, RCA 1194, from “Elvis' Gold Records 4”)
It’s Now Or Never/Make Me Know It (1960, RCA 1207, 2005 reissue adds “A Mess Of Blues”, from “Elvis' Golden Records Volume 3”)
Are You Lonesome Tonight?/I Gotta Know (1961, RCA 1216, 2005 reissue adds “Are You Lonesome Tonight? (The Laughing Version)”, from “Elvis' Golden Records Volume 3”)
Wooden Heart/Tonight Is So Right For Love (1961, RCA 1226, 2005 reissue adds “Puppet On A String”, from “GI Blues”)
Surrender/Lonely Man (1961, RCA 1227, 2005 reissue adds “Lonely Man (Solo)”, from “Elvis' Golden Records Volume 3”)
Wild In The Country/I Feel So Bad (1961, RCA 1244, available on “Wild In The Country [“FTD” Soundtrack edition]”)
(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame/Little Sister (1961, RCA 1258, 2005 reissue adds “(Marie‘s The Name) His Latest Flame (Alternate Version)”, from “Elvis' Golden Records Volume 3”)
Rock-A-Hula Baby/Can’t Help Falling In Love (1962, RCA 1270, 2005 reissue adds “Can‘t Help Falling In Love (Movie Version)”, from “Blue Hawaii”)
Good Luck Charm/Anything That’s Part Of You (1962, RCA 1280, 2005 reissue adds “Good Luck Charm (Alternate Version)”, from “Elvis' Golden Records Volume 3”)
She’s Not You/Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello (1962, RCA 1303, 2005 reissue adds “She‘s Not You (Alternate Version)”, from “Elvis' Golden Records Volume 3”)
Return To Sender/Where Do You Come From (1962, RCA 1320, 2005 reissue adds “Girls Girls Girls”, available on “Girls Girls Girls”)
One Broken Heart For Sale/They Remind Me Too Much Of You (1963, RCA 1337, available on “It Happened At The World‘s Fair”)
Devil In Disguise/Please Don’t Drag That String Around (1963, RCA 1355, 2005 reissue adds “Devil In Disguise (Alternate Version)”, from “Elvis' Gold Records 4”)
Bossa Nova Baby/Witchcraft (1963, RCA 1374, available on “Fun In Acapulco”)
Kiss Me Quick/Something Blue (1963, RCA 1375, from “Pot Luck”)
Viva Las Vegas/What’d I Say (1964, RCA 1390, 2007 reissue adds “Viva Las Vegas (Alt. Takes 1&2)”, available on “Viva Las Vegas”)
Kissin’ Cousins/It Hurts Me (1964, RCA 1404, available on “Kissin’ Cousins”)
Such A Night/Never Ending (1964, RCA 1411, from “Elvis Is Back!”)
Ain’t That Loving You Baby/Ask Me (1964, RCA 1422, from “Elvis' Gold Records 4”)
Blue Christmas/White Christmas (1964, RCA 1430, from “Elvis’ Christmas Album”)
Do The Clam/You’ll Be Gone (1965, RCA 1443, available on “Girl Happy”)
Crying In The Chapel/I Believe In The Man In The Sky (1965, RCA 1455, 2005 reissue adds “Milky White Way”, from “How Great Thou Art”)
Tell Me Why/Puppet On A String (1965, RCA 1489, available on “Elvis 75”)
Blue River/Do Not Disturb (1966, RCA 1504, available on “From Nashville To Memphis”)
Frankie And Johnny/Please Don’t Stop Loving Me (1966, RCA 1509, available on “Frankie And Johnny”)
Love Letters/Come What May (1966, RCA 1526, from “Elvis' Gold Records 4”)
All That I Am/Spinout (1966, RCA 1545, available on “Spinout”)
If Every Day Was Like Christmas/How Would You Like To Be (1966, RCA 1557, from “The Wonderful World Of Christmas”)
Indescribably Blue/Fools Fall In Love (1967, RCA 1565, from “Elvis' Gold Records 4”)
The Love Machine/You Gotta Stop (1967, RCA 1593, available on “Easy Come Easy Go [“FTD” Soundtrack edition]”)
Long Legged Girl (With The Short Dress On)/That’s Someone You Never Forget (1967, RCA 1616, available on “Double Trouble”)
There’s Always Me/Judy (1967, RCA 1628, from “Something For Everybody”)
Big Boss Man/You Don’t Know Me (1967, RCA 1642, available on “Clambake”)
Guitar Man/Hi Heel Sneakers (1967, RCA 1663, available on “Clambake”)
US Male/Stay Away (1968, RCA 1688, available on “Elvis' Gold Records 5”)
Your Time Hasn’t Come Yet Baby/Let Yourself Go (1968, RCA 1714, available on “Speedway”)
You’ll Never Walk Alone/We Call On Him (1968, RCA 1747, from “His Hand In Mine”)
A Little Less Conversation/Almost In Love (1968, RCA 1768, available on “Almost In Love”)
If I Can Dream/Memories (1969, RCA 1795, 2007 reissue adds “If I Can Dream (Alt. Take 1)”, from “NBC-TV Special”)
In The Ghetto/Any Day Now (1969, RCA 1831, 2007 reissue adds “In The Ghetto (Alt. Take 3)”, from “From Elvis In Memphis”)
Clean Up Your Own Backyard/The Fair’s Moving On (1969, RCA 1869, available on “Almost In Love”)
Suspicious Minds/You’ll Think Of Me (1969, RCA 1900, 2007 reissue adds “Suspicious Minds (Alt. Take 7)”, available on “Elvis' Gold Records 5”)
Don’t Cry Daddy/Rubberneckin’ (1970, RCA 1916, available on “Elvis 75”)
Kentucky Rain/My Little Friend (1970, RCA 1949, available on “Elvis' Gold Records 5”)
The Wonder Of You/Mama Liked The Roses (1970, RCA 1974, 2005 reissue adds “Let It Be Me”, from “On Stage”)
I’ve Lost You/The Next Step Is Love (1970, RCA 1999, available on “Elvis 75”)
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me/Patch It Up (1971, RCA 2046, 2007 reissue adds “Patch It Up (Alt Take 9)”, from “That’s The Way It Is”)
There Goes My Everything/I Really Don’t Want To Know (1971, RCA 2060, from “Elvis Country”)
Rags To Riches/Where Did They Go Lord (1971, RCA 2084, available on “Elvis 75”)
I’m Leavin’/Heart Of Rome (1971, RCA 2125, available on “Walk A Mile In My Shoes”)
I Just Can’t Help Believin’/How The Web Was Woven (1971, RCA 2158, from “That’s The Way It Is”)
Until It’s Time For You To Go/We Can Make The Morning (1972, RCA 2188, from “Elvis Now”)
An American Trilogy/The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (1972, RCA 2229, 2007 reissue adds “An American Trilogy (Aloha Version)”, available on “Elvis 75“)
Burning Love/It’s A Matter Of Time (1972, RCA 2267, 2007 reissue adds “Burning Love (Alt. Take)”, available on “Elvis' Gold Records 5”)
Always On My Mind/Separate Ways (1972, RCA 2304, 2007 reissue adds “Always On My Mind (Alt. Take 2)”, available on “Elvis 75”)
Polk Salad Annie/CC Rider (1973, RCA 2359, from “As Recorded At Madison Square Garden”)
Fool/Steamroller Blues (1973, RCA 2393, from “Fool”)
Raised On Rock/For Ol’ Times Sake (1973, RCA 2435, from “Raised On Rock”)
Take Good Care Of Her/I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (1974, RCA APBO 0196, from “Good Times”)
If You Talk In Your Sleep/Help Me (1974, RCA APBO 0280, from “Promised Land”)
My Boy/Loving Arms (1974, RCA 2458, from “Good Times”)
Promised Land/It’s Midnight And I Miss You (1975, RCA PB 10074, from “Promised Land”)
Trouble/Mr Songman (1975, RCA 2562, from “Today”)
Green Green Grass Of Home/Thinking About You (1975, RCA 2635, from “Today”)
Hurt/For The Heart (1976, RCA 2674, from “From Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, Tennessee”)
The Girl Of My Best Friend/A Mess Of Blues (1976, RCA 2729, from “Elvis Is Back!”)
Suspicion/It’s A Long Lonely Highway (1976, RCA 2768, from “Pot Luck”)
Moody Blue/She Thinks I Still Care (1977, RCA PB 0857, from “Moody Blue”)
Way Down/Pledging My Love (1977, RCA PB 0998, 2005 reissue adds “Way Down (Alternate Version)”, from “Moody Blue”)

Note: The b-sides that seem to have been left off most major albums run from the period covering “Never Ending“ up to “Separate Ways“. As discussed last month, several of these can be found on the CD reissues of the Camden Budget albums, whilst “From Nashville To Memphis” includes a lot of the 1960s recordings, and “Walk A Mile In My Shoes“ covers the 70s quite brilliantly. “We Call On Him“ was also a flipside that resurfaced a few years ago on “Elvis Gospel“, one of a number of “themed“ compilations issued for the benefit of the new generation. Next month, I shall look at some of the Elvis comps in my collection which pretty much include all of the above (and more).