Saturday, 21 June 2014

June 2014

The June 2014 blogs feature a look at Biffy Clyro, Green Day, and part 6 of my 'novel within a website', "How I Learned To Hate Record Collecting". To look at any of these blogs, click the relevant link to your right.

"I heard you crying loud, all the way across town"

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Biffy Clyro

I’ll be honest. Once a band hits “megastar” status, I tend not to go and see them play anymore. Cash plays a factor, but the fact that a band you might have seen in the early days are now headlining some enormodrome, well, it just doesn’t seem like much fun to me. Biffy Clyro are, in the UK at least, superstars nowadays, but thankfully, I saw them a few times in their formative years in far more intimate surroundings than the arenas they play now.

I first saw them at the Highbury Garage in 2001, supporting The Llama Farmers. Biffy had just signed to the same label as the headliners, which partly explained why they were supporting, and like many support bands, had to put up with the indignity of the crowd talking all the way through their set. I had never heard of them, but as I watched, I found that I enjoyed their quiet/loud approach, even though they were nearly impossible to hear during the quiet bits thanks to the crowd chatter. My immediate thoughts were that they seemed like a “Scottish Nirvana”.

Their first single for Beggars, “27”, appeared soon after. Although it was their first for the label, it was not their first release. They had already issued a couple of now-impossible-to-find CD singles during the previous few years, one off releases for various independent labels. The group had formed in the mid 90s and come to the attention of these label owners as they toured around the country whilst still at college. “27” failed to chart, but a buzz began to build around the band soon after, and subsequent singles started to dent the top 200, before the release of their debut LP “Blackened Sky” in 2002. The band returned to the Garage, this time as triumphant headliners, but they were still obviously a cult band - I recall that one of the band members at one point was put in charge of the merchandising stall, and if you bought a T-shirt, you could get a free postcard signed at the same time!

The band’s second LP, “The Vertigo Of Bliss”, was issued in 2003, where the artwork approach changed. The band had a new logo, and the album and it’s attendant singles all appeared in “erotic” picture sleeves. Now, here’s something not mentioned on the net. Around about the same time, the group agreed to appear as one of the supports for a Limp Bizkit freebie gig in Finsbury Park, on 6th September 2003. Once done and dusted, the band then hopped onto the North Circular to make their way to Harrow Lodge Park in Hornchurch, Essex. There was a local “Battle Of The Bands” event, and somehow, somebody had asked Biffy to appear as guest headliners - and incredibly they had agreed. At about 10pm that night, the band took to the stage in front of what must have been no more than 50 people, and put on the best show I have ever seen them play. Despite the relatively non existent crowd, they really seemed to enjoy it, at one point revealing their regret at doing the Limp Bizkit show, by announcing “better to be here than in London”. They even came back to play an unscheduled encore. Even now, I still can’t believe I saw them play that show, especially as the last single, “Questions And Answers”, had dented the top 30. What were a hit single producing band doing playing at a local park? Their next 45 didn’t do quite so well, “Eradicate The Doubt”, was done as a limited edition, including a bizarre CD+DVD doublepack, which surely couldn’t have been eligible for the charts, which might explain how it seemed to only just get into the top 100, seemingly on 7“ and download sales only.

2004’s “Infinity Land” spawned more top 30 hits though, although the album itself, like it’s predecessors, failed to hit the top 40. Again, the artwork design was different for this one, another new logo, and completely different art direction from what had come before. Each single appeared on 7”, CD and DVD, with unique material on each format. It would turn out to be the last Biffy release on Beggars, and upon switching to 14th Floor Records, part of the much bigger Warner Brothers group, the band would suddenly find that the big budgets of a major label was instrumental in turning them into proper rock stars. Beggars would respond to this by issuing a number of “cash in” releases thereafter, with a singles collection and expanded vinyl repressings of those first three LP’s.

Given that the objective of this site is to list the records, and not so much describe the sound of the music - after all, if you are reading this, I assume you know what Biffy sound like - this is just as well here because Biffy have generally followed the same post-grunge path during the years on a major, so I am not sure what I could really say about this part of their career. I don’t mean this as a bad thing, indeed, second major label 45 “Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies” is probably their greatest song ever, if I was a real hipster I wouldn’t admit to that would I? Although much has been made of how the move to Warners saw the band polish up and remove their more “prog” tendencies, I am not so sure - this particularly tune opens with a monumental rock/classical extended instrumental intro, truly left field stuff but utterly thrilling. Far from confusing the general public, it was the band’s second top 20 hit on the trot, and the accompanying LP, “Puzzle”, issued in June 2007, went to number 2 in the charts. It, and the various singles, came in some distinctive looking Storm Thorgerson artwork - as have all subsequent albums and singles. There are some really good songs on these later albums, 2009’s “Only Revolutions” having been previewed by the rock monster that was “Mountains”, an album that featured the glorious punk rock thrash of “That Golden Rule”, the lighters-aloft ballad “Many Of Horror” and the catchy as hell pop punk of “Bubbles“.

Aside from the technically import only “Opposites Live From Glasgow” and the DVD/CD “Revolutions Live At Wembley”, the last Biffy album was 2013’s double album “Opposites”. Unlike a lot of double albums that are short enough to fit onto a single CD, this is a proper double album, two CD’s each with their own title. Initial copies were actually issued as a triple disc release, as they came with a free “making of the album” DVD. Double disc editions of “Puzzle” and “Only Revolutions” also exist.



Simply because they are probably the easiest to find, and are not missing too much in the way of extra music, I have listed the standard CD editions for the band’s seven studio/compilation albums so far. The three expanded reissues of the Beggars albums, if you can find them, are of some interest though. They were pressed in 2012, although some seem to have been repressed again in later years, and are available in various different coloured vinyl editions. The reissue of “Bliss” is the hardest to find for some reason. Basically, the original album has been expanded to double LP length, with the addition of B-sides from the period, but radio session material, live recordings and DVD only B-sides are missing, so they won’t fill in all the gaps for the newbies amongst you.

Blackened Sky (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 226)
The Vertigo Of Bliss (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 233)
Infinity Land (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 238)
Puzzle (CD, 14th Floor 2564 699 7633)
Singles (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQCD 2047)
Only Revolutions (CD, 14th Floor 5186 561452)
Opposites (2xCD, 14th Floor 2564 645 2477)


When first released, virtually all Biffy 45’s appeared with an element of interest - rarely did a Biffy single appear that was “missing” something that you could get on another format. And of the one such single that did exist in this state, the “missing” material dates from the Beggars years, and so is now on the relevant expanded LP. So, I have simply listed every Biffy single on every format, because most of them are still of interest, depending on what you already own or have an interest in owning, etc, etc. As ever, buying the expanded albums will tick some of the boxes, but not all, so try before you buy as I always say. For ease of use, I have listed, where relevant, some of the tracks that later got a second lease of life with the Beggars cash in releases, as the affected singles will now have lost a bit of their USP.

Iname/All The Way Down Chapter 2/Travis Perkins (CD, Babi Yaga YAGA 001 CD)

Thekidswhopoptodaywillrocktomorrow EP: 57/Hope For An Angel/Justboy/Less The Product (CD, Electric Honey EHRCD 013)

27/Instructio4/Breatheher (7“, Beggars Banquet BBQ 352)
27/Instructio4/Breatheher (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 352 CD)

Justboy/Being Gabriel/Unsubtle (7“, Beggars Banquet BBQ 355)
Justboy/Being Gabriel/Unsubtle (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 355 CD)

57/Kill The Old Torture Their Young (BBC Radio 1 Steve Lamacq Session 24.9.2001) (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 358)
57/Hope For An Angel (BBC Radio 1 Steve Lamacq Session 24.9.2001)/Time As An Imploding Unit/Waiting For Green (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 358 CD)

Toys Toys Toys Choke Toys Toys Toys (Edit)/Joy Discovery Invention/All The Way Down Chapter 2 (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 361, a-side available on “Singles“)
Joy Discovery Invention/Toys Toys Toys Choke Toys Toys Toys/The Houses Of Roofs (SBN Session Version) (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 361 CD)

The Ideal Height/And With The Scissorkick Is Victorious (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 365)
The Ideal Height/And With The Scissorkick Is Victorious/Do You Remember What You Came For? (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 365 CD, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)

Questions And Answers/Muckquaikerjawbreaker/Ewen’s True Mental You (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 368, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)
Questions And Answers (Edit)/Good Practice Makes Permanent/Let’s Get Smiling (CD1, Beggars Banquet BBQ 368 CD, unique p/s, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)
Questions And Answers/Muckquaikerjawbreaker/I Hope You’re Done/Questions And Answers (Video) (CD2, Beggars Banquet BBQ 368 CD2, unique p/s, b-sides now on expanded “The Vertigo Of Bliss“)

Eradicate The Doubt (Live)/The Ideal Height (Live)/Justboy (Live) (Numbered 7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 374)
Eradicate The Doubt/Convex Concave (Live)/57 (Live)/Now The Action Is On Fire! (Live)/Eradicate The Doubt (Video)/Justboy (Video) (CD+DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 374 CD/DVD)

Glitter And Trauma (Edit)/There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session 24.2.2004) (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 377)
Glitter And Trauma (Edit)/Bonanzoid Deathgrip/Stars And Shites (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 377 CD, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “Infinity Land“)
Glitter And Trauma (Video)/Go Your Own Way (BBC Radio 1 John Peel Session 24.2.2004)/Untitled Movie (Video) (DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 377 DVD, white bordered p/s)

My Recovery Injection/Diary Of Always (Acoustic) (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 379)
My Recovery Injection (Edit)/It’s Always The Quiet Ones/Corfu (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 379 CD, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “Infinity Land“)
My Recovery Injection (Video)/Making Of My Recovery Injection (Video) (DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 379 DVD, white bordered p/s)

Only One Word Comes To Mind (Edit)/Tradition Feed (7”, Beggars Banquet BBQ 384, b-side also released as hidden track on album)
Only One Word Comes To Mind (Edit)/Drown In A Natural Light/Gently (CD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 384 CD, a-side available on “Singles“, b-sides now on expanded “Infinity Land“)
Only One Word Comes To Mind (Video)/Breatheher (Video) (DVD, Beggars Banquet BBQ 384 DVD, white bordered p/s)

Saturday Superhouse/I’m Behind You (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR19V1)
Saturday Superhouse/Miracle Of Survival (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR19V2)
Saturday Superhouse/Scared Of Lots Of Everything (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR19CD)

Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Edit)/Loneliness (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR21V1)
Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Edit)/Kittens Cakes And Cuddles (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR21V2)
Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Edit)/Relief Or Fight (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR21CD)

Folding Stars/Coward (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR24V1)
Folding Stars/A Headline (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR24V2)
Folding Stars/Asexual Meat Kitchen (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR24CD)

Machines (Remix)/Classical Machines (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR27V1)
Machines (Remix)/(Demo) (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR27V2)
Machines (Remix)/Hermaphrofight (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR27CD)

Who’s Got A Match?/But I’m Serious (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR29V1)
Who’s Got A Match?/Cracker (2nd 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR29V2)
Who’s Got A Match?/Umbrella (BBC Radio 1 Version) (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR29CD)

Mountains/Paperfriend (7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR32V1)
Mountains/Robbery (2nd 7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR32V2)
Mountains/Little Soldiers (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR32CD)

That Golden Rule/Eyelids (7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR38)
That Golden Rule/Time Jazz (Orange Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR38X)
That Golden Rule/Prey Hey (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR38CD)

The Captain/Once An Empire (7” Picture Disc, 14th Floor 14FLR40)
The Captain/Party On (Red Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR40X)
The Captain/Help Me Be Captain (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR40CD)

Many Of Horror/Lonely Revolutions (Blue Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR41)
Many Of Horror/Creative Burns (Red Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR41X)
Many Of Horror/Toottoottoot (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR41CD)

Bubbles/Hiya (Blue Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR43)
Bubbles/Street Love (Green Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR43X)
Bubbles/Sad Sad Songs (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR43CD)

God And Satan (Single Mix)/10 Bodies (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR44)
God And Satan (Single Mix)/51 Trumpets (White Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR44X)
God And Satan (Single Mix)/Hawkwind (CD, 14th Floor 14FLR44CD)

Black Chandelier/Milky (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR48)

Modern Magic Formula (Live)/City Of Dreadful Night (Splattered Vinyl 7”, 14th Floor 14FLR50)

Opposite/Feverish (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR51)

Victory Over The Sun/Break A Butterfly On A Wheel (7”, 14th Floor 14FLR52)

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Green Day

Back in the days when music channels used to play music videos, irrelevant of what time of day it was, I seem to recall stumbling across a performance by a “new” band called Green Day at about half past four on a midweek afternoon. I have a feeling that at the time, 1994, MTV Europe used to have some sort of feature where they would play a clip by a new band, filmed at a recent gig. I could be wrong. But I remember seeing this black and white clip of this three piece punk band careering through a song called “Welcome To Paradise”. I was quite fascinated by it. A matter of months later, and you couldn’t move for the number of times MTV would rotate the promo video for “Basket Case” by the same band, a glorious marriage of Sex Pistols energy and Buzzcocks pop suss. As usual, it took me a while before I actually got round to buying any Green Day records, but my claim to fame is that once I had bought “Dookie”, it was early enough in their career to predate the move into the arenas and stadiums that later success brought. Yep, I saw them play the Astoria in 1997, before they knocked it down, when I think the tickets cost about £10. I saw them do the Brixton Academy in 1995, entrance fee about the same - when they played there again in 2013, my brother apparently paid an arm and a leg to get in, because it was now the sort of sized venue that they would only play as part of a “secret gig” set up. See, being old has it’s advantages.

Green Day had already gone through one line up change and issued several records before I saw that MTV clip. The band’s initial releases were generally limited to North America, and the group were more or less unknown outside of the States. Their debut LP, “39 Smooth”, appeared in 1990 on Lookout Records, and was later reissued in expanded form as “1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours”, the title referring to the fact that the bonus material included songs from the early period EP’s “1000 Hours” and “Slappy”. This was the only album to feature the original line up of Billie Joe Armstrong, bass player Mike Dirnt and drummer John Kiffmeyer. “1039” also featured “I Want To Be Alone”, originally released on a compilation album called “The Big One”.

With the classic line up now in place, Tre Cool coming in to replace Kiffmeyer, 1992 saw the release of “Kerplunk”, another US only release, but one that eventually sold in big units. Cassette and CD copies of the album came bolstered with four bonus tracks lifted from the “Sweet Children” EP, the title itself taken from the band’s original name. This album marked the first appearance of “Welcome To Paradise”, later becoming one of the band’s more famous songs after being included again on their major label debut, “Dookie”, and issued as a single in 1994.

The buzz surrounding “Kerplunk” had led to interest outside of the US, and it was Warner Brothers offshoot Reprise that picked the band up for future international releases. The band’s two Lookout albums remained in print on the label for some time, and were only technically available in the UK on import, although both “1039“ and “Kerplunk” were given a UK/Europe release by Epitaph in 1997.

The band’s third album, but debut UK LP release, was thus “Dookie”, seen as one of the leading exponents of the US led pop-punk scene of the 1990’s, a scene which also saw international breakthroughs for The Offspring, Rancid and Blink 182. It is a magnificent beast of a record, possibly still their best, a perfect marriage of energetic riffing and melodic nous. Some of the lyrics may be a bit childish, but they were young, and the album itself was simply a record of what it was like to be a youngster. The riffs may have been from 1977 but the songs were from the perspective of a 1990s teenager.

It took a while for the album to really break in the UK - the first two singles released were both flops, and as such, “Basket Case” and “Longview” only became proper hits second time around, when they were repressed in new sleeves, with new b-sides, and a new catalogue number. The version of “Welcome To Paradise” was a re-recording, even though I can’t really tell the difference, but the album’s highlight was probably “When I Come Around”, a sort of slow mo version of punk, where the sheer catchiness of the album hits it’s brilliant best. By the summer of 94, the band played a now famous show at the mudfest that was Woodstock 2, and by the year end, “Dookie” was continuing to shift units as Green Day began to turn into one of the biggest bands in the world. The band’s “old” fans disowned them, accusing them of selling out, but hey, wouldn’t you cash a cheque if Warners offered you one?

It was always going to be difficult to top a record as glorious as “Dookie”, but at this point, Green Day were not really into reinventing the wheel, and so for the most part, 1995’s “Insomniac” follows similar ground, and as such, is quite enjoyable. “Stuck With Me” is probably the highlight, a fun piece of short and sharp brat-punk, but the first sign of things to come is on the medley “Brain Stew” and “Jaded”, the former being a strange punk strut, the guitars only coming in now and then to fill the empty spaces that inhabit the song, it sounds like Black Sabbath covering Kraftwerk. The two songs were later issued as a double A side, with the NME (or maybe the Melody Maker, I can't fully remember) claiming that the band’s next single was going to be called “Brain’s Too Jaded”. It was, possibly, the first AA single release where the two a-sides segued from one to another since the “Sgt Pepper”/”With A Little Help From My Friends” 45 by the Beatles in 1978, but I could be wrong. Promo copies were issued with just “Brain Stew” on, which faded out early. One of the CD singles were pressed as a brain shaped disc, and one of the b-sides was a song called “Good Riddance” - at the time, just another b-side, but later to be instrumental in the rebranding of Green Day as a stadium filling, lighters aloft, rock and roll band.

1997’s “Nimrod” carried on where “Insomniac” left off, although the inclusion of no less than 18 songs on this one, suggested a desire to go somewhere they hadn’t been before. My favourite is “Redundant”, more power pop than pop punk, but it was a re-recorded “Good Riddance”, now called “Time Of Your Life”, that brought Green Day to a completely new audience. Nothing more than Billie Joe on acoustic, and a string section behind, it was the most un-Green Day-like tune they had ever recorded, and it became one of their biggest hits. Although the summer 98 festival circuits still saw the group playing mid afternoon slots at the likes of V98 (where they trashed the stage before Armstrong’s solo performance of “Time Of Your Life” concluded proceedings), it would not be too long before the bigger venues, and more prestigious festival slots, would soon be theirs for the taking.

There was a minor hiccup on 2000’s “Warning”, a quite enjoyable record but one which confused the purists when the title track was revealed to have an acoustic guitar instead of an electric throughout, and is/was described on Wikipedia as incorporating “pop and folk influences”. CD editions added a live version of oldie “86” as a bonus track, whilst vinyl copies omitted this freebie but were pressed on green vinyl. Lead 45 “Minority” was a cross between old school Green Day and The Pogues (think of the Irish music bar scenes in “The Wire”) whilst my fav was “Waiting”, another gloriously catchy piece of misery-punk, and issued in the UK on three formats each with exclusive material. In the US, it appeared as a pink vinyl 7” on the Adeline label some weeks earlier, with a new song, “Maria”, on the flipside. “Maria” was one of two new songs that opened 2001’s best-of set, “International Superhits”, an otherwise chronological run through of the Reprise years. Mostly based around the singles, one or two “non hits” were included, such as compilation contribution “JAR” and non UK singles like “Macy’s Day Parade”. An accompanying video collection, “International Supervideos”, was issued on DVD at the same time.

Another water treading release followed in 2002, in the form of (selected) b-sides album “Shenanigans”, which included an ‘incentive purchase’ new song in the form of “Ha Ha You’re Dead”. But then, when the band’s next studio effort appeared in 2004, it simply took them to the next level yet again. First “Dookie”, then “Time Of Your Life”, and now “American Idiot”. The band’s own “punk opera”, this concept album opened with the firebrand roar of the title track, a sort of return-to-their-roots style piece of rifferama, presumably to blow away the cobwebs of “Warning”, but thereafter, it was a genre redefining barrage of near prog style epicness, unlike anything they had ever tried before - be it the rhythmic stomp of “Are We The Waiting”, the multi sectioned nine minute pomp of “Jesus Of Suburbia” or the lighters aloft power-punk of “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”. Multiple singles were issued, all smash hits, and the band were not only back, but were bigger than ever. A live CD/DVD called “Bullet In A Bible” was issued in 2005, documenting the band’s stadium headlining show at the “hole in the ground” that is the Milton Keynes Bowl that summer. “American Idiot” was later reissued to included a DVD featuring a couple of promo clips and some “making of” featurettes. Brandon Flowers later criticised the band’s anti-US stance on the record, but all they were doing was detailing the problems in post-9/11 America, just as Madonna had done on 2003’s “American Life”.

It would be some time before studio album number eight, although there was a stop gap release in 2008, when the band, under the banner of Foxboro Hot Tubs, released “Stop Drop And Roll”, another sort of ’back to basics’ record. Although the band have been rumoured to have recorded under other aliases, the Hot Tubs is the only “officially” recognised side project, and in the UK, the album was distributed by Reprise. You would be well advised to read up on the net about “The Network”, the more mysterious other side project.

2009 saw what was more or less a companion release to “American Idiot”, with the release of another concept record in the form of “21st Century Breakdown”. This one didn’t seem to have quite the same impact as it’s predecessor, but it is no less ambitious - the album consists of three acts, another 18 song effort, and features some of the band’s best material, such as “East Jesus Nowhere”. Whilst critics had praised “Idiot”, “TCB” didn’t garner as impressive write ups. It’s release coincided with the stage production of “American Idiot”, which was based mostly around the album of the same name, with a few other songs including some from “TCB” thrown into the mix. Quite what those people who had claimed them to be “sell outs” back in 1994 thought by now, god knows. But frankly, who cares. A cast album was issued in 2010, featuring the band backing the cast members throughout, along with a new Green Day song at the end, “When It’s Time“, with Armstrong on lead vocals.

Another live CD/DVD, 2011’s “Awesome As F***”, was issued thereafter, documenting the “21st Century Breakdown” shows. Aside from a nod to their punk rock past, by including live performances of early period tunes like “Going To Pasalacqua” and “Who Wrote Holden Caulfield”, the album also featured a live performance of a ’new’ song, “Cigarettes And Valentines”. The song was originally one of an entire albums worth of material written and recorded in 2003, only for the master tapes to go missing. Deciding that the material wasn’t fully up to scratch anyway, the following “American Idiot” sessions consisted of entirely new material, and the “lost” album was officially buried.

The band’s most recent material was spread across three albums, issued in close succession in 2012, as “Uno”, “Dos” and “Tre”, each featuring a cover with one of the band members on the front - guess which one Tre Cool appears on. Thing is, by this point, the group had officially expanded to a four piece with the addition full time of touring guitarist Jason White, but never fear - a documentary called “Cuatro” also exists, which seems to acknowledge this, and indeed, his face can be seen on the front of the DVD edition - along with the rest of the group.

Just prior to the release of “Uno”, Reprise issued an 8-CD Boxset called “The Studio Albums 1990-2009”, which featured re-releases of everything from “1039” to “TCB” - but no “Stop Drop And Roll”. The release was partly possible because there had been a falling out between the band and Lookout in 2005 over royalty payments, and Green Day had stopped the label from issuing their records. In 2007, the two Lookout albums were reissued by Reprise in conjunction with Epitaph, and the box therefore featured reissues of these records in card sleeves. In most instances, the CD’s themselves were repressings of the original disc, even down to the point where the disc featured the original catalogue number, but the two Epitaph releases were slightly revamped for the boxset. “Kerplunk” appeared in it’s 16 track form, whilst the DVD from the “American Idiot” reissue was, as you’d expect, nowhere to be found.

Whilst there are those who now look at the stadium filling version of the band, with their increased ticket prices, and wonder exactly what is so “punk” about them, well, “punk” can mean whatever you want it to mean. And I think the idea of a band coming out of a niche scene, hitting pay dirt with their first major label LP, doing a rock opera, and then turning it into a stage production, whilst hanging out with U2, is quite punk in it’s own right. There are some real gems hidden away in the back catalogue, and whilst, like the Foos, it is difficult to work out exactly HOW Green Day became enormodrome megastars, sooner them than, say, Dappy or Tom Odell.


OK. Let’s assume you don’t want to buy the 2009 albums boxset. Although that’s the easiest place to start. Most Green Day albums appeared on coloured vinyl and CD at some point, but given that some albums of course were never officially released in the UK, some of those colour vinyl pressings are from overseas. So, for each album, I have listed the original pressing if it was released somewhere in the world on coloured vinyl, and then any later reissues - usually the standard CD, sometimes not. Where an album has only been released in just one interesting format, I have just listed that edition. Note: coloured vinyl pressings exist of “Awesome”, but they are lacking the DVD, so it’s a bit pointless.

For the singles, I bought quite a few Green Day singles on coloured vinyl and picture disc when they first came out, so I paid very little for them. So I have listed the UK singles, including both coloured vinyl editions and each CD edition, plus any other odds and sods formats that are of interest. Sometimes, it might be that the combination of two formats per single are required to tick all the boxes, check out if you want to find out more about what is listed here - and what isn’t. The coloured vinyls have probably rocketed in value now though, so you might not find them easy to hunt down. Aside from the aforementioned US 7” of “Waiting”, can I also recommend to you the Japanese 1998 CD “Singles Box“, which includes reissues of the four “Dookie” singles and the three “Insomniac” ones. They are based around the original pressings, and where a second CD was issued, it gets omitted, but if you can find one, it’s a glorious thing to own, especially as it includes the original “Longview” and “Basket Case” pressings, rather than the easier to find second releases. Good luck!


39/Smooth (Green Vinyl US LP, Lookout LK#22)
39/Smooth (White Vinyl LP + 2x7”, Epitaph 6866-1, reissue, includes repressing of the “1000 Hours” and “Slappy” EP’s)
1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours (US CD, Lookout LK#22)

Kerplunk (US CD, Lookout LK#46)
Kerplunk (US LP +7”, Reprise 1-517784, reissue, includes repressing of the “Sweet Children” EP)

Dookie (Green Vinyl LP, Reprise 9362-45813-1, numbered)
Dookie (CD, Reprise 9362-45529-2)

Insomniac (CD, Reprise 9362-46046-2)
Insomniac (US Blue Vinyl LP, Reprise 46046-1, reissue)

Nimrod (CD, Reprise 9362-46794-2)

Warning (Green Vinyl LP, Reprise 9362-47613-1)
Warning (CD, Reprise 9362-47613-2, includes “86 (Live In Prague)”, originally on b-side of “Minority”)

International Superhits (2 x Purple Vinyl LP, Reprise 9362-48145-1)
International Superhits (CD, Reprise 9362-48145-2)

Shenanigans (Blue Vinyl LP, Reprise 9362-48208-1)
Shenanigans (CD, Reprise 9362-48208-2, copies originally shrinkwrapped)

American Idiot (CD+DVD, Reprise 9362-49391-2)

Bullet In A Bible (CD+DVD, Reprise 9362-49466-2)

Stop Drop And Roll (CD, Jingle Town 9362-49864-7)

21st Century Breakdown (CD, Reprise 9362-498021, some copies in “deluxe” book style packaging)

Awesome As F*** (CD+DVD, Reprise 9362-496109)

Uno (US Pink Vinyl LP, Reprise 531973-1)
Uno (CD, Reprise 9362-49487-1)

Dos (US Blue Vinyl LP, Reprise 531976-1)
Dos (CD, Reprise 9362-49486-8)

Tre (US Yellow Vinyl LP, Reprise 531978-1)
Tre (CD, Reprise 9362-49486-4)


Longview/Going To Pasalacqua (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/FOD (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Christie Road (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD, Reprise W0247 CD)

Basket Case/Tired Of Waiting For You (Green Vinyl 7”, Reprise W0257, numbered)
Basket Case/On The Wagon/Tired Of Waiting For You/409 In Your Coffeemaker (Unmixed) (CD1, Reprise W0257 CD, green casing, numbered)
Basket Case/On The Wagon/Tired Of Waiting For You/409 In Your Coffeemaker (Unmixed) (CD2, Reprise W0257 CD2, standard casing)

Welcome To Paradise/Chump (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (Cassette, Reprise W0269 C)
Welcome To Paradise/Chump (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Emenius Sleepus (Green Vinyl 12“, Reprise W0269 T, in clear sleeve)
Welcome To Paradise/Chump (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Emenius Sleepus (CD1, Reprise W0269 CD)
Welcome To Paradise/Chump (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Emenius Sleepus (CD2, Reprise W0269 CDX, green casing, numbered, promo copies in stickered sleeve exist housed in standard casing and with blank space for number but with no number printed)

Basket Case/2000 Light Years Away (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (Green Vinyl 7“, Reprise W0279)
Basket Case/Longview (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Burnout (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/2000 Light Years Away (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD1, Reprise W0279 CD)
Basket Case/Longview (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/Burnout (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/2000 Light Years Away (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD2, Reprise W0279 CDX, in green digipack sleeve)

Longview/Welcome To Paradise (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/One Of My Lies (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD1, Reprise W0287 CD)
Longview/Welcome To Paradise (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994)/One Of My Lies (Live, St Petersburg Jannus Landing 11.3.1994) (CD2, Reprise W0287 CDX, digipack sleeve)

When I Come Around/She (Live, Chicago Aragon Ballroom 18.11.1994) (7“ Picture Disc, Reprise W0294 X, numbered, in clear sleeve with insert)
When I Come Around/Coming Clean (Live, Chicago Aragon Ballroom 18.11.1994)/She (Live, Chicago Aragon Ballroom 18.11.1994) (CD, Reprise W0294 CD)

Geek Stink Breath/I Want To Be On TV (Red Vinyl 7”, Reprise W0320 X)
Geek Stink Breath/I Want To Be On TV/Don’t Want To Fall In Love (CD, Reprise W0320 CD, b-sides later included on “Shenanigans“)

Stuck With Me/When I Come Around (Live, Stockholm Erhus Vejby Risskov Hall 4.9.1995)/Jaded (Live, Stockholm Erhus Vejby Risskov Hall 4.9.1995) (CD1, Reprise W0327 CD1)
Stuck With Me/Dominated Love Slave (Live, Stockholm Erhus Vejby Risskov Hall 4.9.1995)/Chump (Live, Stockholm Erhus Vejby Risskov Hall 4.9.1995) (CD2, Reprise W0327 CD2, different p/s)

Brain Stew/Jaded/Good Riddance (Cassette, Reprise W0339 C)
Brain Stew/Jaded/Do Da Da/Good Riddance/Brain Stew (Clean Radio Edit) (CD1, Reprise W0339 CD)
Brain Stew/Jaded/Do Da Da/Good Riddance/Brain Stew (Clean Radio Edit) (CD2, Reprise W0339 CDX, brain shaped disc in clear sleeve)

Hitchin’ A Ride/Sick (Cassette, W0424 C)
Hitchin’ A Ride/Sick/Espionage (CD, Reprise W0424 CD, b-sides later included on “Shenanigans“)

Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance)/Desensitized/Rotting (CD1, Reprise W0430 CD1, cassette copies omit “Rotting“, both b-sides later on “Shenanigans“)
Time Of Your Life (Good Riddance)/Suffocate/You Lied (CD2, Reprise W0430 CD2, different p/s)

Redundant (Richard Dodd Medium Wide Mix)/The Grouch (Live, Philadelphia Electric Factory 14.11.1997)/Paper Lanterns (Live, Philadelphia Electric Factory 14.11.1997) (CD1, Reprise W0430 CD1)
Redundant (Richard Dodd Medium Wide Mix)/Reject All American (Live, Philadelphia Electric Factory 14.11.1997)/She (Live, Philadelphia Electric Factory 14.11.1997) (CD2, Reprise W0430 CD2, green p/s)

Minority (Radio Version)/Brat (Live, Tokyo Marumi Arena 27.1.1996) (Cassette, Reprise W532 C)
Minority (Radio Version)/Brat (Live, Tokyo Marumi Arena 27.1.1996)/86 (Live, Prague Sporthalle 26.3.1996) (CD, Reprise W532 CD)

Warning/Suffocate (Green Vinyl 7”, Reprise W548)
Warning/Scumbag/I Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely (Live, MTV’s Influences 2000) (CD1, Reprise W548 CD1)
Warning/Outsider/Suffocate (CD2, Reprise W548 CD2, orange p/s)

Waiting/She (Live, Tokyo 18.3.2001)/FOD (Live, Tokyo 18.3.2001) (CD1, Reprise W570 CD)
Waiting/Macy’s Day Parade (Live, Sendai 16.3.2001)/Basket Case (Live, Sendai 16.3.2001)/Waiting (Video) (CD2, Reprise W570 CDX, orange p/s)
Waiting (Audio)/(Video)/4 x Video Snippets (DVD, Reprise W570 DVD, orange p/s)

American Idiot/Too Much Too Soon (7” Picture Disc, Reprise W652, also on CD1 [W652 CD1])
American Idiot/Shoplifter/Governator (CD2, Reprise W652 CD2, different p/s)

Boulevard Of Broken Dreams/Letterbomb (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (7“ Picture Disc, Reprise W659, red p/s)
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams/Letterbomb (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (CD1, Reprise W659 CD1)
Boulevard Of Broken Dreams/American Idiot (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004)/She’s A Rebel (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (CD2, Reprise W659 CD2, red p/s)

Holiday/Minority (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (7” Picture Disc, Reprise W664, in clear sleeve)
Holiday/Minority (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (CD1, Reprise W664 CD1)
Holiday (LP Mix)/(Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004)/Boulevard Of Broken Dreams (Live, New York Irving Plaza 21.9.2004) (CD2, Reprise W664 CD2, different p/s)

Wake Me Up When September Ends/Give Me Novocaine (Live, Culver City Sony Studios 15.2.2005) (7” Picture Disc, Reprise W674, in clear sleeve)
Wake Me Up When September Ends/Give Me Novocaine (Live, Culver City Sony Studios 15.2.2005) (CD1, Reprise W674 CD1)
Wake Me Up When September Ends/Homecoming (Live, Culver City Sony Studios 15.2.2005)/Hitchin’ A Ride (CD2, Reprise W674 CD2, unique p/s)

Jesus Of Suburbia (CD, Reprise W691 CD)
Jesus Of Suburbia/St Jimmy (Live, Culver City Studios 15.2.2005) (Yellow Vinyl 10”, Reprise W691 TE, in clear sleeve)
Jesus Of Suburbia (Video)/(Live, New York Irvin Plaza 21.9.2004)/Bullet In A Bible Trailer (DVD, Reprise W691 DVD, unique p/s)

The Saints Are Coming (Original)/(Live in New Orleans) (7”, Mercury 171 3138, numbered)
The Saints Are Coming (Original)/(Live in New Orleans) (CD, Mercury 171 3137)

Mother Mary/She’s A Saint Not A Celebrity (7”, Jingle Town W800, numbered)

Know Your Enemy (CD, Reprise W816 CD)

21 Guns/Favorite Son (Clear Vinyl 7”, Reprise W817, in clear sleeve)
21 Guns/Favorite Son (CD, Reprise W817 CD)

Note: another other CD singles not shown here that you might be aware of, are actually European only releases, and thus slightly outside the remit of this article. A number of b-sides have thus surfaced outside of the UK.

Friday, 6 June 2014

How I Learned To Hate Record Collecting: Part 6 - The “Tour Edition”

In the summer of 1995, I went to see Sheryl Crow play the Hammersmith Odeon, or whatever it was possibly called that year. In the run up to the gig, word filtered through that she would also be doing an acoustic in store show at the HMV on Oxford Street in the afternoon before the Hammersmith show. So, I headed into London early to attend said freebie.

Once I was there, it was announced that Crow would also be signing copies of her debut LP, the accompanying tour being the final set of shows she was playing to help plug this now two-year-old record. At the time, I was still in my “I hate CD’s” phase, and so opted to simply buy the cheapest available format of the record to get it signed - the Cassette pressing, even though this was the very same format I owned it on already.

Had I thought ‘outside the box’, then I would have bought instead the 2-CD “Tour Edition” reissue of the record that was also in the racks that day. The Tour Edition reissue was the latest record company “fad” designed to boost sales, and thus profits, and in a long winded and roundabout way, the concept is still very much in place - in one form or another - today. It changed forever, the concept of the “album”, how it started, and how it finished. What we were now getting was expanded versions of albums that now seemed to end with some random song on a second CD. All the thought and care that had gone into making an album ‘flow’ properly, was basically discarded by the record companies en masse.

This was how it worked. Somebody would release a new album. You would buy it. Said artiste would announce a tour due to commence in five months time. You would buy a ticket, and then would listen to the album in order to learn the new songs, some of which were obviously due to feature at said gig. Then, about a month before the show was due to take place, the album would be reissued as a double disc tour edition. Basically, this version of the album would feature the original regular album on disc 1, but would come with a free “bonus CD”, usually consisting of previously unreleased live material - to tie in with the whole “concert” concept. You, as somebody who wanted to own everything said artiste released, was thus forced to re-buy an album you already owned.

Sounds like a bit of a con? Well, yes, it was really. But the labels were laughing. For the person who already owned this LP, they were basically paying twice the amount to simply own two different versions of the same thing. For the more casual fan, the idea of a limited edition release with extra songs was often the nudge needed to get these people to shell out the cash. In one fell swoop, sales of the record would increase twofold.

Crow’s album (“Tuesday Night Music Club”, for those of you who have been living under a rock for 21 years), was probably not the first such reissue, but it’s one of the earliest I can remember. Whilst the concept of reissuing old albums with extra archive tracks was by now well established (see that Costello campaign from the early 90s), repressing something that was barely six months old was a relatively new phenomenon. After all, with one or two exceptions, it was still possible to buy a new album on tape, and not miss out in any way in terms of “music” (see Bowie‘s 1995 effort “Outside“ for example). But soon, the tour edition concept would catch on - and in a big way. In the years that followed, it became increasingly difficult to find a new release by a major artist that was NOT being reissued as soon as it started to fall out of the charts.

The trouble with these double disc things was, the VFM aspect was - again - sorely lacking. There were, as I understand it, strict chart rules governing these releases. Basically, if it had too many songs on disc 2, I do believe it would be treated as an “expanded” pressing, and would not count as additional sales towards the standard versions, thus meaning the chart position would not be boosted - it could still chart if it sold enough units, but would chart as a separate release from the “standard” copy. And so, the running time on disc 2 was often rather scant, the length of an EP or if you were lucky, a mini album. Meaning that if you were buying the record for a second time, you might find yourself being asked to fork out £13.99 for 15 minutes of music. A bit dodgy, if you ask me. But still they kept coming.

Occasionally, an attempt would be made to try and make you feel like you weren’t being completely cheated, such as housing the reissue in a new sleeve. Sometimes, this would be done by using a completely new cover photo (such as the 1997 reissue of Crow’s 1996 self titled second record), sometimes, the artwork would be rejigged so the front cover image would be sort-of-new. Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” reissue came in a ‘new’ cover, simply by taking the original fold out booklet, but then placing the folds in different places, so that the original cover image ended up somewhere inside, and a photo previously buried in the middle of the artwork became the cover photo. Cheeky, but kinda clever.

Some bands, however, seemed so embarrassed/horrified by their label bosses that they decided to offer the “new” material as a separate release. When Garbage’s second album was given a 2-CD reissue, the four track live EP that was being given away was also made available as a mail order only single via the band’s website - it’s probably worth more than the actual album nowadays, but at the time, the cost of the EP on it’s own was only a fraction of the double disc pressing. Thing was, very few bands went down this route at all.

Every so often, the tour reissue was a bit pointless, as material that had been released elsewhere was used to pad the revamp out. When Blur’s self titled 1997 effort appeared again in the summer, it came with a second disc of live material, which whilst mostly unreleased in the UK, had in fact all appeared on a Euro only CD EP called “Blur Live”. When Madonna’s 2000 effort “Music” turned up again in 2001, the second disc came with various remixes and alternate versions of songs from the record, all of which had been spread out across releases from around the globe. But for anybody who didn’t already have this stuff, well I guess it was like manna from heaven.

Where bands weren’t reissuing tour edition versions of recent records, they were instead issuing, on the day of release, “limited” editions of their newest long player. This seemed to be done as a response to the rise of illegal downloading, an attempt to shoehorn something exclusive onto the record that the bootleggers wouldn’t have had access to. Sometimes, these releases just saw the album housed in some fancy packaging (Pet Shop Boys’ “Nightlife”), sometimes there would be an exclusive CD-Rom part to the disc (Blur again, this time with 1999’s “13”). But more common, was the decision to include a bonus EP a la the tour edition concept. Now, the idea of issuing an album in expanded form on day 1 was not new - as far back as 1977 saw the debut albums by The Pistols and The Stranglers coming with free 7” singles tucked inside - but it was now becoming increasingly commonplace. Even live albums by artists who were no longer with us were somehow being subjected to “a free EP of new material” on the day of release (see Jeff Buckley’s “Mystery White Boy”).

Again, if the second disc was too long, the sales would be split between “standard” and “limited” editions - which explains how REM’s 2003 Warner Brothers “Best Of” charted twice in the first week of release. And so, in order to help push the sales of the so called “limited” edition in the direction of the standard one, the running order was often keep short and sweet, thus increasing the possibility of a number 1 album.

Another approach was to release the second disc not as a CD, but as a DVD - easy to do as they were the same size. But again, the running time of the DVD had to be under a certain length to avoid this version of the album being counted as a “limited” pressing, and so, many of these releases were “watch once and never again” style releases, a promo video for the lead single, an interview with the band, and, well, not much else. Historically interesting if you can be bothered to ever dig them out again, but I never really am. The labels would tell you that this sort of stuff was being done “for the fans”, but I can’t help but think my life would not be much worse had the initial pressing of QOTSA’s “Lullabies To Paralyze” been on one disc only.

And that album brings up another bizarre concept. Something that really kicked in in the mid 00’s. The “Special Edition”. Now, these releases were restricted, mostly, to releases by Universal Records artists, but given that so many labels had been swallowed up by other labels by this point, it meant every other artist was thus subjected to it. Here’s the thing - the rise of the internet saw cash savvy web geeks discover websites like CD Wow, who would routinely make available albums more cheaply via the power of the net, thanks due to dubious tax laws. In the UK, Universal were grumbling about how they were losing out on hard earned cash this way, as people simply paid £8 for a record that was gathering dust in Zavvi for £12. And so, they started to add a couple of extra tracks to the UK editions of the albums, that you wouldn’t get on your imported copy from CD Wow, and they would call them “Special Editions”. They weren’t that special - basically, two songs that in a previous life would have turned up as B-sides. But a lot of records had them - “What Will The Neighbours Say” by Girls Aloud, Semisonic’s “All About Chemistry”, The Oo’s “Endless Wire”...I doubt Universal were on the breadline by this point, but they were determined not to lose out financially.

The concept of “slightly tarting up” your new album was then re-employed across the industry during the late noughties by making new albums available as “Deluxe Versions”. This was a real con. Basically, an album would appear as, say, a 12 track “normal” version, and a 16 track “deluxe” one. The normal one cost less of course. But guess what people? All of the tracks on the “deluxe” one quite happily fitted onto one disc, suggesting that the two different versions would surely have cost EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT to press in the pressing plant, and yet you were being asked to pay more for the one which dragged on for a bit longer. Unbelievable. But again, loads of people did this (see Bowie’s “The Next Day”, or the second Marina And The Diamonds effort). Occasionally, an artist would release an album on day one as an expanded “deluxe” version (Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die”), and would then reissue it again several months later in an even more expanded form as a “tour” edition (Lana Del Rey’s “Born To Die”, and yep, Bowie‘s “The Next Day“). In an attempt to obscure the ludicrousness of this, some revamps began appearing as retitled efforts to try and confuse punters into thinking they were buying a brand new record, rather than an old one with seven new songs shoved onto the end (Ellie Goulding’s “Lights”, which became “Bright Lights”, or Pixie Lott’s “Turn It Up” and “Turn It Up Louder”). The first time this happened, it seemed cute. Fourth or fifth time round though, and it starts to grate.

It got to the point where I became increasingly irritated about having to rebuy something I already owned, and so I stopped buying “new” albums altogether, deciding to wait for the almost certain “tour” edition. But then, so many “new” albums started also appearing as “limited” day one releases, that I simply ran out of money. Nowadays, my incentive for buying an album on it’s day of release simply seems to be based on if I can be bothered or not. Within a decade, the record industry had worn me down. Buying records was no longer fun, but a chore - a chore that cost large amounts of money when you decided to take the plunge. The money needed just to keep up with all the new material being tossed away on this repressing, and that first pressing, got too much. I accepted defeat, and gave up. It does mean there are some albums that appeared ten years ago that I have still not got round to finally buying, and if I do, it will only be if it turns up on Amazon - with bonus disc or not - for less than a fiver. Isn’t record collecting supposed to be enjoyable? So why did the record companies make you feel like you had to jump through hoops to keep up? Why did they have to make it all so hard and painfully miserable?

Maybe I just like too MUCH music - if I only liked Bowie, I’d only have to buy an album once every two years. Perhaps that’s what it is. But why should I be punished for loving so many different singers, and so many different bands? I guess I should be asking Warners, EMI and everyone else that question. I began to feel that I was being punished for loving both The Ramones and The Supremes. And believe it or not kids, if there wasn’t already enough “product” in the shops as the millennium approached, it was about to get even worse.