Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Welcome


Hello there and welcome to "The Sun Machine Is Coming Down", the website formerly known as "The Jason Shergold Music Collector Site" or "TWFKATJSMCS" for short. Prince fans should get that reference.

This blog features articles about a genre-stretching variety of bands and singers, covering Punk to Prog, Pop to Art Rock and beyond, and how to go (more or less) about collecting their records. In the main, the articles will be aimed at people trying to get a collection together from scratch or how to fill in gaps in your collection easily, looking at shortcuts to doing so where they exist. Some articles will be a bit more specialised, with features of video releases, Japanese pressings, etc., whilst others will be a straight run through of the albums and the singles, where career spanning boxsets for that artist just don't exist - or are too expensive. As it's built using a Blogger template, it can - at times - look a bit DIY, just think of it as the internet version of "Sniffin' Glue".

As a UK based collector, most of these articles will generally revolve around UK discographies, but not necessarily just for UK bands. Although for some artists featured, their discographies will continue to grow, the post-iTunes scenario is that you can more or less guess what formats albums and singles will be released on nowadays, so these blogs in the main will help to fill in the holes when multiple physical formats were all the rage.

The blog will be updated at least once every month, usually with an update expected to occur during the middle of each month...any later blogs to be published that month will appear at random as the weeks progress. You will be able to click on older editions using the menu buttons in the top right.

The July 2017 edition is now online, with a look at Transvision Vamp.

The blog is also home to my "novel within a website", 'How I Learned To Hate Record Collecting', looking at the workings of the UK record industry, and how despite record collecting being a hobby that can bankrupt you, remains too hard to give it up. Click on any month from 2014 to view one of the twelve parts that form the whole article. And also check out my online photo collection of tour t-shirts, the accurately titled "Rock & Roll T Shirts" by clicking here: rockandrolltshirts.smugmug.com.

Please note: If you ever notice "newer" pages listed top right, this will be the new issue "in progress" - if you click on it, the whole page will not load. When the new issue is ready, it will be mentioned on this page. You can click on previous years tabs to get previous articles. Once you have selected that year, you can click on a different month to look at different acts.

The acts featured appear in the months listed below:
Adam And The Ants - October 2013
All Saints - February 2014
Lily Allen - August 2010
Altered Images - May/June 2017
Ash - April 2014
Atomic Kitten - June 2013
Badly Drawn Boy - November 2014
The Beatles - September 2011 / March 2015 / October 2016
The Beautiful South - December 2014
Victoria Beckham - March 2016
Beyoncé - May 2013
Biffy Clyro - June 2014
Blondie - January 2011 / September 2013
Blur - August 2011 / July 2012 / October 2013
David Bowie - September 2010 / October 2010 / November 2010 / January 2011 / June 2012 / September 2014 / January 2016 / May 2016 / July 2016 / September 2016 / November 2016 / December 2016
Emma Bunton - March 2016
Kate Bush - July 2013
Buzzcocks - December 2011
Belinda Carlisle - October 2013
The Charlatans - February 2014
The Clash - May 2011
Elvis Costello - January 2013 / September 2013
Sheryl Crow - June 2013
The Cure - December 2011 / April 2016
Deep Purple - March 2010
Depeche Mode - May 2012
The Doors - December 2013
Bob Dylan - November 2013
Echobelly - February 2015
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - August 2011
Embrace - November 2013
The Flaming Lips - November 2011
Foo Fighters - May 2014
Peter Gabriel - August 2013
Genesis - April 2011 / January 2014
Girls Aloud - August 2010 / November 2013
Goldfrapp - August 2013
Green Day - June 2014
Geri Halliwell - March 2016
Deborah Harry - January 2011
Jimi Hendrix - September 2010
Inspiral Carpets - April 2012
The Jam - May 2013
Elton John - August 2012 / September 2012 / October 2012 / November 2012
Joy Division - March 2011
Kenickie - October 2010
The Kinks - November 2010 / April 2011 / May 2013
Led Zeppelin - November 2015
John Lennon - May 2013
Pixie Lott - February 2011
Madness - November 2011
Madonna - April 2010 / July 2010 / August 2010 / September 2010 / March 2011 / June 2011 / July 2011 / August 2011 / September 2011 / October 2011 / November 2011 / March 2012 / November 2012 / January 2013 / November 2013 / March 2014 / August 2015 / January 2016 / June 2016 / December 2016
Mansun - August 2011
Dannii Minogue - September 2011
The Moody Blues - October 2015
Morrissey - April 2014
Kate Nash - February 2011
New Order - October 2012
Nirvana - June 2011 / December 2012
Oasis - April 2013
Pet Shop Boys - May 2011 / June 2011
Pink Floyd - January 2011 / July 2011
P!nk - April 2012
Elvis Presley - March 2011 / October 2011 / November 2013 / December 2013 / January 2014
Prince - January 2015
Pulp - August 2011
Queen - December 2010 / September 2011
R.E.M. - April 2017
Lou Reed - September 2015
Cliff Richard & The Shadows - July 2011 / February 2017
Rolling Stones - July 2010 / October 2010 / March 2011
The Saturdays - April 2011
Siouxsie & The Banshees - March 2013 / July 2014
Slade - May 2012
Sleeper - December 2013
Smashing Pumpkins - June 2012
The Smiths - June 2010
Britney Spears - November 2010 / December 2010
Spice Girls - February 2016
Bruce Springsteen - February 2012
Status Quo - January 2012
Cat Stevens - February 2012
Rachel Stevens - July 2011
The Stranglers - February 2010 / December 2011 / May 2013 / September 2013 / December 2013 / July 2014 / October 2014 / May 2015 / December 2015
Suede - August 2011
Sugababes - August 2012
Super Furry Animals - September 2014
Supergrass - August 2014
TRex - December 2010
Theaudience - August 2011
Thin Lizzy - February 2013
The Thrills - June 2015
Tin Machine - December 2010
Transvision Vamp - July 2017
Tubeway Army - August 2016
U2 - March 2012 / December 2012 / March 2017
Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons - January 2017
The Velvet Underground - October 2010
The Walker Brothers - June 2011
Scott Walker - September 2010 / February 2013
Paul Weller - December 2014
The Who - May 2010 / August 2012 / July 2013
Kim Wilde - October 2013
Yes - July 2015
Neil Young - April 2015

Blogger can have a mind of it's own at times, so if you click on a year and get NO menu, click on the arrow next to the year, and you should get the list of months for that year to help you navigate a bit easier. To return to the homepage, you can click on the tab for the current year. Several blogs are in production, with an article on Madonna due next month. My Windows 10 glitch continues, so there may be some shorter blogs published thereafter - all were lined up for uploading at some point, it's just they were planned to appear further into the future.

You can email me at jason45104@gmail.com, and if you can add any information, you can add comments to the blog using the link at the bottom of the relevant page. Regards, Jason.

























































Frankie say NO to downloads! Frankie say NO to streaming!

Transvision Vamp


Their star shined brightly, but briefly, at the end of the 80s - but that doesn’t mean Transvision Vamp should be dismissed out of hand, just because they imploded barely five years after their formation. Led by blond bombshell Wendy James, and merging a mainstream pop sound with a punky backbone, Transvision Vamp emerged at the same time that several other female fronted bands started to make waves, such as The Primitives and The Darling Buds. Whilst it is probably pushing it to call this scenario a “scene“, especially as The Primitives always sounded more indie, these groups did seem determined to restore some order to the charts, which by the mid 80s, had been battered and bruised by the gated drum sound and the mostly horrific (Bananarama excepted) exploits of Stock Aitken And Waterman.

Transvision Vamp covered all bases. Once they started to get some hits under their belt, James found herself being lined up for interviews with pop rags like “Smash Hits”, and became something of a mainstream commodity - even though the band themselves didn’t really have anything in common with the likes of Jason or Kylie who were featuring in the same magazines at the same time. Part of this was obviously down to James’s ultra glamorous look, from day 1 she was a pop star in waiting - albeit one who wanted to be in a guitar band, who toured relentlessly, and as such, became a sort of UK equivalent of Blondie. Listening to these songs today, it shows you just how dull some of our so-called pop stars nowadays actually are. The band looked the part, and there were some great songs in their cannon. Maybe there was a little bit too much of style over substance, but seriously, if you don’t like “Baby I Don’t Care”, you probably don’t like breathing either.

In this blog, I will list each of the band’s UK releases, with selected images and notable items per release. The two albums the band issued in the UK were reissued in 2013, and cobbled together all known A-side edits, B-sides, and remixes from the relevant period, meaning that all of the band’s singles from 1987 through to the end of 1990 now contain nothing rare - so that means anything goes for the releases from “Revolution Baby” through to “Born To Be Sold” in terms of what to buy. As such, every format for the first nine singles are shown, and details of the two LP’s are also included.

Revolution Baby


Formed in 1986, Transvision Vamp were initially presented as a duo of James and Nick Christian Sayer, and bagged a deal with a major label from the off - unlike The Primitives - by signing to MCA. Their debut single, “Revolution Baby”, featured the pair dressed up like cartoon characters, James looking like a big haired punk-rock version of Barbarella, complete with sci-fi looking ray gun. The pair were photographed against a garish background - the sleeve was designed by none other than Sex Pistols artist Jamie Reid. The 12” release added an extra track, and featured the same images of the pair, but switched round, so that James now appeared on the right hand side of the sleeve. It would be the first of ten specific single releases, all of which would come complete with personalised catalogue numbers - this one was TVV1.

Revolution Baby/Vid Kid Vamp (7”, MCA TVV 1)
Revolution Baby/No It U Lover/Vid Kid Vamp (12”, MCA TVVT 1, different p/s)

Tell That Girl To Shut Up


For the follow up release, the band were now presented as a four piece, consisting of James, Sayer, the brilliantly named Tex Axile (probably not his real name) and future Bush bass player Dave Parsons. Their energetic cover of Holly And The Italians‘ “Tell That Girl To Shut Up”, whose bolshie-esque demeanor seemed to be a perfect fit for James’ rebellious image, used another garish sleeve, in a sort of 3-D design (but without 3-D glasses). Extended mixes were created for the 12” and CD Single editions, with the (forthcoming) album mix tagged onto the CD edition simply to boost the playing time (this format was pressed as a then rarely produced format, the picture CD). In keeping with the previous single, all formats also included a non-LP B-side, the wonderfully titled “God Save The Royalties” (which was actually another track off the LP, “Psychosonic Cindy”, played backwards) whilst a limited number of 7” editions came housed in a fold out poster bag sleeve. These were also denoted by a different catalogue number on the sleeve, and even though a lot of mentions on the net of Vamp singles issued in this way suggest the regular vinyl edition was tucked into the poster one, I have seen 7” singles with the catalogue number for these limited editions actually printed on the labels themselves (even though the matrix numbers look to be the same as the standard releases). Try before you buy. This world of remixes, flipsides, and quirky collectors formats would become a common approach for every single that followed.

Tell That Girl To Shut Up/God Save The Royalties (7”, MCA TVV 2)
Tell That Girl To Shut Up/God Save The Royalties (Posterbag 7”, MCA TVVPR 2)
Tell That Girl To Shut Up (Extended Mix)/(Knuckle Duster Mix)/God Save The Royalties (12”, MCA TVVT 2)
Tell That Girl To Shut Up (Extended Mix)/God Save The Royalties/Tell That Girl To Shut Up (Album Mix)/(Knuckle Duster Mix) (CD, MCA DTVV 2)

I Want Your Love


The riotous brilliance of “I Want Your Love” was next up, seen by many as the band‘s real breakthrough moment. Housed in a sleeve which featured James more prominently on the cover than her band mates - a trick repeated on several other releases later on - this was the first of the band’s singles to be issued as a 3-track ‘maxi single’ on 7”, an approach that would be repeated on every future release as well. The band logo featured on the previous two releases was changed to a far more simplistic design, and would be used on the remainder of releases associated with the debut album.

Alongside the obligatory 12” mix of the A-side for use on the 12” and CD editions, one of the B-sides, “Evolution Evie”, was included in either ‘acoustic’ or ‘electric’ form, dependent on which format you went for. As if to further show that James was being used as a form of eye-candy-esque promotion for the group, initial copies of the 12” were housed in a fold out poster sleeve, the reverse of which featured a photo of James alone without her bandmates. As the singer, she was always going to get increased attention, but it seems the record company knew they could use her photogenic features as a way of drumming up interest in the band, just as Chrysalis often did with Blondie. The CD Single release here was done as a 3” release, albeit housed in a 5“ slim line jewel case, which sort of defeated the object.

I Want Your Love/Sweet Thing/Evolution Evie (Acoustic Version) (7”, MCA TVV 3)
I Want Your Love (I Don’t Want Your Money Mix)/Sweet Thing/Evolution Evie (Electric Version) (12”, MCA TVVT 3)
I Want Your Love (I Don’t Want Your Money Mix)/Sweet Thing/Evolution Evie (Electric Version) (Posterbag 12“, MCA TVVTR 3)
I Want Your Love (I Don’t Want Your Money Mix)/Sweet Thing/Evolution Evie (Electric Version)/Tell That Girl To Shut Up (3” CD, MCA DTVV 3)

Revolution Baby (Re-Release)


With the band now expanded to a five piece by the addition of drummer Pol Burton, the band’s debut single was re-released, complete with new catalogue number, and a far more stylish sleeve second time around. The limited edition version of the (3 track) 7” came with a free poster featuring photos of the band - the photo of James was also used for the 12” picture disc release, which unlike most picture discs from the period, came in a printed PVC sleeve with the band name and title on the front, and a barcode sticker on the back. The CD edition, meanwhile, included one of the B-sides from the original release, “Vid Kid Vamp”, in remixed form. There is also some suggestion that the A-side itself was a different mix from the first release, but I don’t have an original release to compare it with at this present time. If it was different, it seems odd that the expanded version of the debut LP issued in 2013 doesn’t include it, given that the primary objective of that reissue was to gather up all the rarities from the period.

Revolution Baby/Honey Honey/Long Lonely Weekend (7”, MCA TVV 4)
Revolution Baby/Honey Honey/Long Lonely Weekend (7” with poster, MCA TVVPR 4)
Revolution Baby (Electra Glide Mix)/Honey Honey/Long Lonely Weekend (12”, MCA TVVT 4)
Revolution Baby (Electra Glide Mix)/Honey Honey/Long Lonely Weekend (12” Picture Disc, MCA TVVTP 4)
Revolution Baby (Electra Glide Mix)/Honey Honey/Vid Kid Vamp (Remix)/Long Lonely Weekend (3” CD, MCA DTVV4)

Pop Art


“Pop Art”, the band’s first LP, was issued at the tail end of 1988. Several of the song titles gave an indication of the band’s interest in celebrity and pop culture (“Hanging Out With Halo Jones”, “Andy Warhol’s Dead”), whilst others had wonderfully irreverent names (“Trash City”, “Sex Kick”, the aforementioned “Psychosonic Cindy”). It went top 5 in the UK, and established the band as proper pop stars, and James as a sex symbol in the mould of Madonna. Picture disc copies used an alternate variant of the cover photo, obviously in an attempt to boost sales.

The 2013 reissue was part of Universal’s “Re-Presents” series, which saw various expanded editions of albums now under their wing being released for a number of artists. You won’t find much of a mention about this in the packaging, it will just look like a standard expanded reissue, although there is a reference to it in the revised catalogue number.

The expanded “Pop Art” is the only of the two reissues to include previously unavailable material, as CD1 is boosted with the 4 tracks the band recorded in session for the BBC Radio 1 Andy Kershaw show. I could be wrong, but a quick Google suggests this was the only Beeb session they did, and I guess Universal figured this was the best way to put this material out on the market - had they done three or four, there would have been enough for a separate album. All of the single mixes, B-sides and 12” mixes from the period fill up disc 2.

Pop Art (LP, MCA MCF 3421)
Pop Art (Cassette, MCA MCFC 3421)
Pop Art (CD, MCA MCLD 19224)
Pop Art (12” Picture Disc in clear sleeve, MCA MCFP 3421)
Pop Art (2xCD, Universal UMCREP 2021)

Sister Moon


The last single to be released from the first LP, “Sister Moon” appeared in both 7” and 12” mix form. James appeared on the single cover alone - and the picture disc release, whilst opting for a totally different picture, also used an image that just featured the lead singer on the front. Although later Vamp singles often referred to the a-side appearing in 7” form, every single after this one used the album mix as the “single version”.

In a slight break of tradition, the 12”/CD bonus tracks included an alternate version of a track from the album (“Sex Kick”) whilst a select number of the gatefold edition came with a free “Wendy James Personality Poster”. Anybody who had never heard of the band before this could have been forgiven for assuming that James was a solo artist who went under the Transvision Vamp pseudonym.

Sister Moon (7” Mix)/Oh Yeah/Walk On By (7”, MCA TVV 5)
Sister Moon (7” Mix)/Oh Yeah/Walk On By (7” Picture Disc, MCA TVVP 5)
Sister Moon (Groove On)/Walk On By/Sex Kick (Ciao Portobello)/Oh Yeah (12”, MCA TVVT 5)
Sister Moon (Groove On)/Walk On By/Sex Kick (Ciao Portobello)/Oh Yeah (12” in gatefold p/s, MCA TVVTG 5, some with poster)
Sister Moon (7“ Mix)/Oh Yeah/Walk On By/Sex Kick (Ciao Portobello) (CD, MCA DTVV 5)

Baby I Don’t Care


Lead single from the 1989 “Velveteen” long player, and arguably the high point of the band’s career. A soaring, bratty and brilliant piece of punky-pop, the band’s pop culture fascination was on full display here, as the cover showed the (now 4-piece) band in front of a huge photograph of Elvis Presley.

The gatefold 7” featured a glamorous shot of Wendy inside, the gatefold 12” used a more pop-art image, with the same photos of Elvis and Wendy, reprinted in a bold and bright colour montage a la Warhol, spread across the entire inside of the sleeve (giving you 10 Wendy/Elvis images in total). A demo of “Sex Kick” was on the 12” and CD editions, which despite originating from the earliest sessions for the debut album, appeared on the expanded “Velveteen” instead in 2013.

The track was later covered by another blond bombshell, Jennifer Ellison, whilst the promo video saw James appear in a selection of mostly skimpy stage outfits, further enhancing her sex kitten image. The “Abigail’s Party” mix, which took it’s name from a 1977 stage play, was one of three 12” mixes later included on the 2002 “best of” release on Spectrum, also titled “Baby I Don’t Care”, where it was joined by mixes of “Tell That Girl” and “Revolution Baby”.

Baby I Don’t Care/Time For Change/Strings Of My Heart (7”, MCA TVV 6)
Baby I Don’t Care/Time For Change/Strings Of My Heart (7” in gatefold p/s, MCA TVVG 6)
Baby I Don’t Care (Abigail’s Party Mix)/Sex Kick (Demo Version)/Time For Change/Strings Of My Heart (12”, MCA TVVT 6)
Baby I Don’t Care (Abigail’s Party Mix)/Sex Kick (Demo Version)/Time For Change/Strings Of My Heart (12” in gatefold p/s, MCA TVVTG 6)
Baby I Don’t Care/Saturn 5 (Demo Version)/Time For Change/Strings Of My Heart (CD, MCA DTVVT 6)

The Only One


Housed in a similar style to “Baby”, complete with the new stylised, but simple, band logo (which was changed from an upper case font to a lower case one for the next two singles), “The Only One” this time saw the pop culture moment provided by Marilyn Monroe. There wasn’t much in the way of fancy formats for some reason, but you can always try and buy the different pressings of the 7”, which included issues with both paper labels, and silver injection plastic “labels”.

The Only One/The Mystery Song/Love Me (7”, MCA TVV 7)
The Only One (Extended Version)/The Mystery Song/Love Me (12”, MCA TVVT 7)
The Only One/The Mystery Song/Love Me/The Only One (Extended Mix) (CD, MCA DTVVT 7)

Landslide Of Love


The Vamp’s “Motown” moment, this 45 went back to the multi formatting frenzy of earlier releases, with a 7” picture disc being issued which, yet again, featured Wendy alone on it’s frontage - although this time, the entire band were featured in the image on the B-side. There was also a cassette edition, featuring a slightly elongated version of the image found on the standard 7” release, which also omitted both the band name and the A-side title, to avoid cluttering up the front cover.

The 12” and CD editions featured an extra track unavailable on the 7” formats, “W11 Blues”, in which James recites a Dylan-esque rambling monologue about a night out in West London over an electronic drum pattern. Limited edition versions of the 12” were housed in a gatefold sleeve, complete with another sultry image of Miss James contained within. The 12” pressings included an extended mix of the A-side, whilst the CD - at the time - rather pointlessly replaced this with the album version. Like “The Only One”, it was listed as a “7” Version”, but as far as I can make out, it’s the same as the LP mix.

Landslide Of Love/Hardtime/He’s The Only One For Me (7”, MCA TVV 8)
Landslide Of Love/Hardtime/He’s The Only One For Me (7” Picture Disc, MCA TVVP 8)
Landslide Of Love/Hardtime/He’s The Only One For Me (Cassette, MCA TVVC 8)
Landslide Of Love (Extended)/W11 Blues/Hardtime/He’s The Only One For Me (12”, MCA TVVT 8)
Landslide Of Love (Extended)/W11 Blues/Hardtime/He’s The Only One For Me (12” in gatefold p/s, MCA TVVTG 8)
Landslide Of Love/W11 Blues/Hardtime/He’s The Only One For Me (CD, MCA DTVVT 8)

Velveteen


Notable for it’s ten minute long closing title track, “Velveteen” arrived in the fall of 1989. It maintained the band’s hybrid mix of pop and punk attitude, but wasn’t afraid to dabble in other styles - the sultry swing of “Bad Valentine” (later issued as a fan club only single) and the aforementioned glamour of “Landslide Of Love”. As per “Pop Art”, a picture disc edition was released but this time around came inside a standard sleeve, albeit with a unique cover image, which simply featured the album title and band name against a textured background.

Both “Pop Art” and “Velveteen” spawned Video EP releases, which featured the relevant video clips on each release - the “Velveteen” release came in a sleeve not too dissimilar to the picture disc edition. Both were released after the promo campaigns for the LP’s were at an end, and thus featured all the videos from each album (unlike Bowie’s “The Next Day” DVD, as an example).

The 2013 double disc reissue of the album was probably not of great interest to any completists who already had the record and multiple formats of the singles, as all of the bonuses on this - all present on CD2 only - had been released before. It’s an obvious starting point for any newbies, but it would have been nice if some unreleased material had appeared - the band’s fourth single from the LP came backed with live tracks, suggesting a complete gig performance is sitting in the MCA vaults. There are some minor artwork differences to the original release - there is a thin coloured border around the outside of the front picture sleeve - and some nice pictures inside. At the risk of sounding like a dirty old man, you can never have too many photos of Wendy James in your collection.

Velveteen (LP, MCA MCG 6050)
Velveteen (Cassette, MCA MCGC 6050)
Velveteen (CD, MCA DMCG 6050)
Velveteen (12” Picture Disc in unique sleeve, MCA MCGP 6050)
Velveteen (2xCD, Universal UMCREP 2020)

Born To Be Sold


Final 45 from the “Velveteen” album, “Born To Be Sold” may have had a vicious sounding title, but musically, had an air of languid restraint about it. The same could not be said about some of the B-sides - “Kiss Me” seemed to consist of little more than James howling down the microphone in that croaky but vampy voice, whilst the live recording of “Last Time” was indeed a noisy bash at The Stones’ classic.

The limited edition 7” came with a free band logo badge (complete with “Levis” legend down the side), which was glued to a 7”x7” piece of card, which reprinted the single cover (plus “free badge” blurb) which was designed to lie inside a shrink wrapped bag, in front of what was more or less, a standard edition of the single (ie. Open a sealed copy, take away the front piece of card with it’s badge, and you’d be left with a normal 45). Only difference was that the catalogue number was changed, and this particular variant appears on both the rear of the single and the labels themselves.

The limited edition 12” came with an eye watering poster insert - it’s more of a fold out mini-mag, with the band history and tour dates on one side, and a band portrait on the other. Not widely publicised on the net is the fact that in order to stop the poster from falling out the side of the sleeve, copies also came with a wraparound paper sash style thing, which went across the record and thus had to be removed in order to extract the vinyl or the poster.

Born To Be Sold/Down On You (Live)/Last Time (Live) (7”, MCA TVV 9)
Born To Be Sold/Down On You (Live)/Last Time (Live) (7” with free badge and insert, MCA TVVB 9)
Born To Be Sold/Down On You (Live)/Last Time (Live) (Cassette, MCA TVVC 9)
Born To Be Sold/Kiss Me/Down On You (Live)/Last Time (Live) (12”, MCA TVVT 9)
Born To Be Sold/Kiss Me/Down On You (Live)/Last Time (Live) (12” with poster and wraparound “obi“ style banner, MCA TVVTB 9)
Born To Be Sold/Down On You (Live)/Last Time (Live)/Kiss Me (CD, MCA DTVVT 9)

(I Just Wanna) B With U


1991 heralded a slightly new, “softer”, Transvision Vamp. The punky racket of the older material was toned down, and the band seemed to adopt a slightly more funky, Madchester-esque sound, although this softening of their sound would later cause MCA to kick up a fuss about their new direction. And yet, listening to this material now, it seems astonishing that the record company were seemingly unhappy with the way the band were going - not only was the change in direction not really that radical, but the inventiveness of these new songs, including the B-sides from this period, suggested the band could have had a long future in front of them.

“(I Just Wanna) B With U” was the first single from the “Little Magnets Versus The Bubble Of Babble” long-player. In keeping with the earlier releases, the 7” and Tape formats appeared as 3-track releases, with the 12” replacing the LP mix of the A-side with a 12” version. On the cover of the single was a collage of band images, and you could have been forgiven for thinking that James was trying to dispense with her sex kitten image - several of the photos saw her wearing a rather un-glam beanie hat. However, the limited, numbered, gatefold 12” (housed in a unique, rather plain, sleeve) opened up to show a centrefold image of James in full on sultry siren mode. A free poster, which featured a blow up image of the standard single sleeve, was also tucked inside, and there was even an extra, exclusive B-side.

Suffice to say, the remixes and flipsides from this period are rarer than the earlier ones, thanks to the lack of an expanded reissue of the “Babble” album. The gatefold 12” will give you all the essential items, the remaining formats all use the standard picture sleeve as their front cover, so will be of interest to completists.

(I Just Wanna) B With U/Swamp Thang/Straight Thru Your Head (7”, MCA TVV 10)
(I Just Wanna) B With U/Swamp Thang/Straight Thru Your Head (Cassette, MCA TVVC 10)
(I Just Wanna) B With U (The Nightripper Mix)/Swamp Thang/Straight Thru Your Head (12”, MCA TVVT 10)
(I Just Wanna) B With U (The Nightripper Mix)/Swamp Thang/Straight Thru Your Head/Punky Says (12” in unique gatefold p/s, MCA TVVT 10, with poster)
(I Just Wanna) B With U (LP Version)/(The Nightripper Mix)/Swamp Thang/Straight Thru Your Head (CD, MCA DTVVT 10)

If Looks Could Kill


There seem to be conflicting reports about the end of the band. After the final single, “If Looks Could Kill”, performed only reasonably well in the charts, MCA reportedly lost interest in the band, and saw no reason to release their third album. However, a quick look around the net shows a series of releases on the usual formats, many of which seem to show what look like UK (or, at least, European wide) catalogue numbers. And that’s before we mention James’ admission that the band were worn out through constant recording, promotion and gigging, and that they simply threw in the towel, rather than consider taking a break. Whatever the reason for the finale, and whatever the status of the album’s UK availability, “Babble” marked the end of the group.

With another brace of quite superb B-sides, “If Looks Could Kill” was a decent swansong. Most formats featured a sleeve which mirrored the montage layout of the previous 45, only this time with James featured alone, on which she adopted an anti-pin up girl look by brandishing a fake moustache. The limited edition 12” used a different sleeve which saw her wearing a huge sombrero.

The CD Single was a thing of beauty. It was housed in an ingenious circular sleeve, which opened out as you twisted it open, and featured - once more - James alone on the cover, this time looking like a Bardot-esque movie star. The 12” mix of the A-side, available on both the standard and limited 12 inches, was replaced by the LP version, whilst the live B-side on this edition was also different to that on the 12” editions.

By 1992, both The Primitives and Transvision Vamp were no more. Grunge was happening in the world of indie rock, but more worryingly, the pop scene was spawning the insipid Take That, and the likes of Wendy James were being replaced by MOR types like Amy Grant and Boyz II Men. Thankfully, Madonna was still keeping the blond bombshell popstar genre alive, and the forthcoming Britpop scene was rumbling into view thanks to the ongoing existence of many of the Madchester bands. James is still making solo records, but who do we have now as the UK’s face of female pop? The AOR slop of Adele and the bland nothingness of Jess Glynne. Do yourself a favour, and hunt “Pop Art” and “Velveteen” down and you will realise the 80s wasn’t all about Living In A Box and Paul Young. Transvision Vamp, 25 plus years on, I salute you.

If Looks Could Kill/My Friend The Tom Cat/Puppy Dogs Tails (7”, MCA TVV 11)
If Looks Could Kill/My Friend The Tom Cat/Puppy Dogs Tails (Cassette, MCA TVVC 11)
If Looks Could Kill (Voodoo Hipster Mix)/My Friend The Tom Cat/Puppy Dogs Tails/I Want Your Love (Live) (12”, MCA TVVT 11)
If Looks Could Kill (Voodoo Hipster Mix)/My Friend The Tom Cat/Puppy Dogs Tails/I Want Your Love (Live) (12” in envelope sleeve, “Sombrero” p/s, MCA TVV 11)
If Looks Could Kill/My Friend The Tom Cat/Puppy Dogs Tails/Tell That Girl To Shut Up (Live) (Limited CD in circular sleeve, unique p/s, MCA DTVVT 11)

SELECTED OTHER RELEASES

Pop Art - The Video Singles (1988, VHS, MCA CFV 04902)
The Velveteen Singles (1989, VHS, MCA MCV 9002)
Bad Valentine/A Message... (1990, 7”, MCA BV1, fan club only single)
The Complete 12”ers Collection Vol.1 (1990, Japanese CD, MCA WMC5-75, includes all “Pop Art” era 12” mixes and all B-sides except “No It U Lover”, acoustic version of “Evolution Evie” and only one version of “Vid Kid Vamp”)
Little Magnets Versus The Bubble Of Babble (1991, CD, MCA MCD 10331)
If Looks Could Kill (1991, VHS, MCA MCAV 10347, includes videos for “If Looks Could Kill” and “(I Just Wanna) B With U”, plus 3 oldies)
Mixes (1992, Japanese CD, MCA MVCM-142, includes non-UK mixes of “(I Just Wanna) B With You” and “Twangy Wig Out”)
Kiss Their Sons (1998, 2xCD, MCA MCLD 19376)
Kiss Their Sons - The Video Collection (1998, VHS, MCA MCV 60054)
Baby I Don’t Care (2002, CD, Spectrum 544 981-2, includes 12” mixes of “Revolution Baby”, “Baby I Don’t Care” and the ‘Knuckle Duster’ mix of “Tell That Girl To Shut Up”)


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Altered Images


One of my treasured possessions is a signed photo of Clare Grogan. In the days before Twitter and selfies, the thing to do was to write to a celebrity requesting an autographed picture. In the late 90s, Grogan was a TV presenter on VH1, so I popped my request off to the MTV Studios in Camden, which VH1 shared with their older (but more youth oriented) sister, and she dutifully replied to my letter, sending me a signed photo with the message “I’ve got my eye on you”. Twenty years on, it still makes my heart flutter when I look at it.

Before VH1, Grogan had been the lead singer in Altered Images, a post-punk group who became Top Of The Pops regulars after they had made their music a bit more “pop”. They were a band whose time came and went as quickly as it takes most groups nowadays just to record an LP, but they left behind some glorious records. Recent months have seen their three Long Players reissued as fancy LP + 7” sets, and are in the process of being reissued again as double LP sets, seemingly for no other reason than to acknowledge the ongoing retro obsession with vinyl. However, since the early Noughties, Grogan has fronted a reformed Altered Images, albeit with a fluctuating lineup and the original band members no longer in situ. This does sort of make sense, given that their label, Epic, began to portray the band as if it were a Grogan solo project towards the end, with most of the band’s later releases featuring artwork which ignored the rest of the band. Anyway, this all provides me with an excuse to look at the band’s back catalogue.

Formed in 1980, the group’s early sound was a lot more spiky than their later, more streamlined, pop hits. A demo tape sent to Siouxsie And The Banshees landed them a support slot on their next tour, helped quite possibly due to Grogan’s distinctive voice which had a Siouxsie-esque wail, whilst the band’s choppy post-punk sound echoed the sound of recent Banshees releases. It’s no surprise that Steve Severin was involved in the production duties on their debut LP.

The band were picked up by major label Epic, who issued their debut single, “Dead Pop Stars”, in early 1981. A cassette version, at the time still a rarely used format but issued to acknowledge that tapes were starting to gain a following with Walkman owners, added a track which would be re-recorded for the band’s forthcoming LP, entitled “Leave Me Alone”. A follow up 45, “A Day’s Wait”, which like it’s predecessor failed to do much chart wise, was the first release from the LP. It was later reworked into a B-side, “How About That Then (I’ve Missed My Train)”, which appeared on the flipside of “See Those Eyes”.

The band’s artwork at the time used surrealist pop art, and a distinctive arty logo, and all these elements were in place as the band dented the upper reaches of the charts that summer with the catchy new wave bounce that was “Happy Birthday”. All of the band’s releases up to and including “See Those Eyes” (the lead off single from LP number 2) maintained this look, although the band’s debut LP, also titled “Happy Birthday”, opted to feature an image of the band on it’s cover rather than some abstract artwork for the first time, complete with a hand drawn “gift wrap” design over the image. “Happy Birthday” was the band’s first single to be released on 12”, with a 12” mix of the A-side replacing the album mix that adorned the 7”, and also featuring an extra non-album B-side in the form of a cover of T.Rex’s “Jeepster”.

The next single, the magnificent “I Could Be Happy”, where Grogan’s voice clearly showed the band’s Scottish heritage (“I’ll go to Skye on my holideeys”), featured an image in which the band appeared in front of another pop art style image. A variant version of this sleeve was later used when the single appeared alongside three other chart smashes on the “Greatest Original Hits EP” release in early 1983. This was the first release from the band’s second LP, “Pinky Blue”, with the track being edited down for inclusion on the 7”, whilst the LP played the longer version as found on the 12”. However, the album mix has become known as the “Dance Mix” for this very reason, so the easiest way of knowing what version of the track you are playing is to simply look at the playing time (the “edit” comes in at three and a half minutes). The b-side was a re-recorded version of a track from the debut LP, “Insects”, whilst the 12” added “Disco Pop Stars”, a reworked version of the band’s debut single.

The aforementioned “See Those Eyes” was up next, which included a remix of the A-side on the 12”. No effort was made to even acknowledge this version on the sleeve or the labels, so it often just gets referred to as the “Long Version”. The title track of the album came next, which abandoned the pop-art sleekness of the earlier releases, and came in a rather garish pink and blue (obviously) sleeve. To differentiate the 7” from the LP, which looked identical, the single sleeve came in a pink cover with blue lettering, the album, a blue cover with pink lettering. The 45 was backed by a track from the album called “Think That It Might”, and even though it was listed as being a dance remix, by all accounts, it seems to be the same as the album version. The 12”, housed in a unique sleeve in which the band photo from the 7” was totally omitted, included extended mixes of both sides of the single.

By the time we got to 1983’s “Bite”, the band - having already undergone one line up change after the release of their second single - rejigged the line up again, and were now a four piece, after Grogan’s future husband Steve Lironi came in to replace drummer Michael Anderson and second guitarist Jim McKinven. The album, which completed the band’s transition from post-punkers to glamorous, synthpop chart stars, featured Grogan alone on the cover in an “Audrey Hepburn” style image. Indeed, most of the singles from the album appeared in sleeves in which the remainder of the band were nowhere to be seen, although there was a photo of the rest of the group on the inner artwork of the “Bite” LP and the poster bag edition of the “Love To Stay” 45.

Whilst the LP does sometimes get dismissed for being too pop, “Bite” remains a major part of the Images cannon. It spawned no less than four singles, more than any previous AI album. The lead single, “Don’t Talk To Me About Love”, was the last of the band’s singles to appear in a ’surrealist’ sleeve, as the rest of the 45s lifted from the album used portrait images of Grogan on their covers. “Don’t Talk...” was edited down for release as a 7”, and the 12” - housed in a different sleeve - used an extended mix instead. Rather curiously, subsequent compilation albums which have included the so-called “12” Mix” all seem to actually include a shorter ’extended version’, with about a minute and a half stripped off the running time. There was also a 7” picture disc, using a still from the video as it’s front image, which again, concentrated mainly on the band’s glamorous singer. All formats featured a non album B-side in the form of “Last Goodbye”.

Follow up 45, “Bring Me Closer”, was also issued on 7”, 12” and picture disc formats. This time around, there were both 7” and 12” picture discs, with the 7” opting for a different photo of Grogan from that found on the cover of the black vinyl edition, whilst the 12” used the same image. The 12” versions played an extended mix of the A-side, whilst all four formats included another new non album flip in the form of “Surprise Me”. “Love To Stay”, issued next, included an “extended version” of the A-side on the 12” edition, although this was actually the LP mix - another instance of the “Dance Mix” of a track being placed onto a studio album in preference to the 7” mix. There were no picture discs this time around, but some copies of the 7”, as mentioned earlier, were housed in a poster bag sleeve. Album track “Another Lost Look” appeared as the B-side, although this was a version recorded “live”. It sounded very much like the standard album mix to these ears last time I heard it, but I really need to go back and have another listen, as the forthcoming expanded version of "Bite" is making a point of including it on it's bonus disc - so my hearing must be really bad.

The band bowed out with “Change Of Heart”, which included the same image of Grogan on it’s front as the one featured on the “Bring Me Closer” 7” picture disc. By now, the band had run out of B-sides, and the single simply used a variety of older tracks as flipsides on the 7” and 12” formats. The single appeared in a slightly different mix to the album version. As for “Bite” itself, Cassette versions of the album took advantage of the longer playing time the format offered, by including the 12” versions of “Don’t Talk...” and “Bring Me Closer”, their corresponding B-sides, and an exclusive track “I Don’t Want To Know”.

The band then simply went their separate ways. Grogan tried to launch herself as a solo artist later in the 80s, but after a sole solo single, and an unreleased album, ended up moving back towards acting and TV presenting. In 1984, Epic released the “Collected Images” best of set, which in it’s LP form, included the album/12” mix of “I Could Be Happy”, and the 12” mix of “Bring Me Closer”. The edited versions of “Don’t Talk...” and “Love To Stay” were included in preference over the (original) album versions. There was also a cassette release which, like “Bite”, opted to include extra tracks on side 2. The entire second half of the tape was devoted to the band’s dance mixes, and thus included all of the band’s seven 12 inch A-side revamps from “Happy Birthday“ to “Love To Stay“ (no appearance for the B-side 12“ mix of “Think That It Might“ though). And just to stress/clarify, the 12” mixes included on the studio sets as “album” versions are on here. I only own this LP on vinyl, so I have no idea if this means the same versions of “I Could Be Happy” and “Bring Me Closer” thus appear on each side. Feel free to confirm by adding a comment below, or emailing me.

Despite the fact that “Collected Images” did a fairly decent job of covering the band’s relatively short career, there have been numerous more best of sets since. Those issued in the CD age have taken the opportunity to include extra material to take advantage of the format, such as 1996’s “Reflected Images”, housed in a sleeve using the same photo of Clare as found on “Bite”. Bookended by the “Intro” and “Outro” versions of “Happy Birthday”, the set also includes several 12” mixes towards the end, namely “Happy Birthday”, “Love To Stay” and “Bring Me Closer”, alongside the ‘shortened’ 12” mix of “Don’t Talk To Me About Love”.

In 2004, specialist reissue label Edsel released the band’s three studio albums in expanded CD form. To acknowledge this, all of the albums were retitled to end with the suffix “Plus”, so “Bite” became “Bite...Plus”. Each of the reissues included the relevant rarities from the period, with one or two exceptions. “Happy Birthday” included all the rarities from the first three singles with the exception of the Cassette version of “Leave Me Alone“ - the sleeve notes incorrectly referred to the version on the album as having been released initially on the “Dead Pop Stars” single, hence it‘s accidental absence.

“Pinky Blue...Plus” also made a mistake, by including the LP version of “Insects” as one of the bonus tracks, instead of the re-recorded B-side version. All of the related edits were included, as were the 12” mixes of each of the LP’s three singles. The other B-sides from the period were included, along with “Happy New Year / Real Toys”, which had been a new recording originally tossed away on a free flexidisc given away with “Flexipop” magazine in late 1981 - this particular edition also featured the band on the cover.

“Bite...Plus” is probably the most intriguing of the reissues. The decision was taken to replace the album versions of three tracks, and include alternate mixes instead. So “Love To Stay” appeared in it’s 7” edit form, with the original Album mix/Dance mix added as one of the bonus tracks. “Don’t Talk” was the 7” edit, seeing the 5 minute long album version disappear into thin air - the unedited 12” mix was also missing from the bonus tracks, as the 'shortened 12” Mix' was included instead. “Change Of Heart” appeared in it’s 7” remix form. The remainder of the bonuses consisted of the period B-sides, “I Don’t Want To Know” from the original Cassette pressing, and the 12” mix of “Bring Me Closer”.

As for the flurry of activity in late 2016 and 2017. The Vinyl 180 label reissued the band’s three albums on vinyl, each coming with a free bonus 7” from the period, pressed on coloured vinyl and housed in a clear PVC sleeve. The reissue of “Happy Birthday” came with what was essentially a repress of the band’s first 45, with “Dead Pop Stars” on the a-side, and “Sentimental” on the flip. “Pinky Blue” went down a similar path, with an “I Could Be Happy”/”Insects” 7” on blue vinyl, which music-wise replicated the original 7” by playing the edited mix of side 1, and the re-recorded version of side 2. “Bite” attempted to rectify the issue over using single mixes over LP versions on the “...Plus” reissue, by featuring the original LP running order this time around. The freebie, a white vinyl 7”, didn’t replicate any earlier releases, but featured the edited mixes of “Don’t Talk To Me About Love” and “Love To Stay”, presumably to acknowledge that these versions had been in the main running order of “Bite...Plus”. Or maybe, as the only two songs from the album to be heavily edited for 7” release, it made sense to pick them over anything else.

Anybody who has read any of my other blogs on here will know I don’t care much for Record Store Day, but it does make sense here to mention the second reissue Vinyl 180 did of “Happy Birthday” this year. This was a double LP version, with the rarities that were unable to make it onto the LP + 7” version, being stacked up on the second slab of vinyl. This edition of the LP does include the original version of “Leave Me Alone” on side 4, whilst the two rarities from the “Happy New Year” flexi were included as well. “Dead Pop Stars” and “Sentimental” are absent from this edition. Discogs was offering copies for £25 the day after the event, but given that you could go round buying the original LP and singles for less, it again puts a question mark over what this event is trying to achieve, and whether or not it has turned into a cash grabbing exercise with superfluous releases, whilst not really benefiting the indie stores.

Of interest, is that a similar themed reissue of “Pinky Blue” has been issued recently - as a bog standard, non RSD release, meaning you have more chance of getting one without breaking the bank (still a bit pricey though). The second disc for this one includes the 12” mixes of “See Those Eyes”, “Pinky Blue” and “Think That It Might”, the B-sides “Disco Pop Stars” and “How About That Then”, plus a genuine rarity in the form of the US version of “See Those Eyes”, which I think has made it’s debut UK appearance by appearing on this release. There is also a double vinyl reissue of “Bite” planned for release next month, and may see the appearance of the full 12” mix of “Don’t Talk...” for the first time in decades. It's certainly listed in the tracklisting I have seen, it's just whether or not it has that extra 90 seconds to it...

Altered Images reformed in 2002, to appear on the 80’s tinged “Here And Now” tour. As the well known face of the band, Grogan probably knew she could get away with filling the rest of the lineup with, well, anybody - and thus it was that the new look, all-girl, Altered Images went down the same route as The Fall, by having the lead singer as the complete focal point. In recent years, perhaps due to legal issues, the band have continued to appear on the gigging circuit as “Clare Grogan’s Altered Images”. It’s a bit tacky, but then again, I never liked the “Marc Bolan And T.Rex” legend either.

Discography

Well, given that it is possible to get everything the band released in the UK via a variety of combinations, I just figured I might as well list pretty much everything. To keep it slightly under control, I have listed - for the LP’s - the original vinyl and tape editions, alongside each of the expanded versions that have appeared in the Noughties and 2010s. All of the (UK) singles are listed, along with all of the UK compilations.

ALBUMS

Happy Birthday (LP, Epic EPC 84893)
Happy Birthday (Cassette, Epic EPC 40-84893)
Happy Birthday...Plus (CD, Edsel DIAB 8048)
Happy Birthday (LP + Red Vinyl 7”, Vinyl 180 VIN180 LP109)
Happy Birthday (2 x LP, Vinyl 180 VIN180 LP110, Record Store Day release)

Pinky Blue (LP, Epic EPC 85665)
Pinky Blue (Cassette, Epic EPC 40-85665)
Pinky Blue...Plus (CD, Edsel DIAB 8049)
Pinky Blue (LP + Blue Vinyl 7”, Vinyl 180 VIN180 LP115)
Pinky Blue (2 x LP, Vinyl 180 VIN180 LP116)

Bite (LP, Epic EPC 25413)
Bite (Cassette, Epic EPC 40-25413)
Bite...Plus (CD, Edsel DIAB 8050)
Bite (LP + White Vinyl 7”, Vinyl 180 VIN180 LP117)
Bite (2 x LP, Vinyl 180 VIN180 LP118)


SINGLES

Dead Pop Stars/Sentimental (7”, Epic EPC A1023, yellow p/s)
Dead Pop Stars/Sentimental/Leave Me Alone (First Version) (Cassette, Epic EPC40-A1023)

A Day’s Wait/Who Cares? (7”, Epic EPC A1167)

Happy Birthday/So We Go Whispering (7”, Epic EPC A1522)
Happy Birthday (Dance Mix)/So We Go Whispering/Jeepster (12”, Epic EPC A13-1522, initial copies with free “Iron-On“ transfer)

I Could Be Happy (Edit)/Insects (New Version) (7”, Epic EPC A1834)
I Could Be Happy (Edit)/Insects (New Version) (7” Picture Disc, Epic EPC A11-1834)
I Could Be Happy/Insects (New Version)/Disco Pop Stars (12”, Epic EPA A13-1834)

Happy New Year/Real Toys (New Version)/Leave Me Alone (First Version) (7” Flexidisc, Flexipop 14, red, blue or orange discs produced, given free with “Flexipop” Issue 14, with band on cover)

See Those Eyes/How About That Then (7”, Epic EPC A2198)
See Those Eyes (Long Version)/(Album Version)/How About That Then (12”, Epic EPC A13-2198)

Pinky Blue/Think That It Might (Dance Mix) (7”, Epic EPC A2426, some pressed in pink, blue or “pinky blue“ vinyl, some in PVC sleeves instead of picture sleeves)
Pinky Blue (Dance Mix)/Jump Jump - Think That It Might (Segued Dance Mix) (12”, Epic EPC A13-2426, unique p/s)

Greatest Original Hits EP: Happy Birthday/I Could Be Happy (Edit)/Dead Pop Stars/A Day’s Wait (7”, Epic EPC A2617)

Don’t Talk To Me About Love (Edit)/Last Goodbye (7”, Epic EPC A3083)
Don’t Talk To Me About Love (Edit)/Last Goodbye (7” Picture Disc, Epic WA3083)
Don’t Talk To Me About Love (Unedited Extended Version)/Last Goodbye (12”, Epic A13-3083)

Bring Me Closer/Surprise Me (7”, Epic A3398)
Bring Me Closer/Surprise Me (7” Picture Disc, Epic WA 3398)
Bring Me Closer (Extended Version)/Surprise Me (12”, Epic TA 3398)
Bring Me Closer (Extended Version)/Surprise Me (12” Picture Disc, Epic WTA 3398)

Love To Stay (Edit)/Another Lost Look (Live Version) (7”, Epic A3582, some in poster sleeve)
Love To Stay/Another Lost Look (Live Version) (12”, Epic TA 3582)

Change Of Heart (7” Mix)/Another Lost Look (7”, Epic A3735)
Change Of Heart (7” Mix)/Another Lost Look/Happy Birthday/I Could Be Happy (Edit) (12”, Epic TA3735)

Happy Birthday/I Could Be Happy (Edit) (7”, Old Gold OG 9663, die cut sleeve)


UK COMPILATIONS

Collected Images (LP, Epic EPC 25973)
Collected Images (Cassette, Epic EPC 40-25973, expanded edition)
The Best Of Altered Images (CD, Connoisseur Collection VSOP CD 177, 1992 release with “Leave Me Alone”)
Reflected Images (CD, Epic 484339 2, 1996 release with ’short’ 12” mix of “Don’t Talk To Me About Love” and all 7“ edits)
Destiny: The Hits (CD, Epic 510465 2, 2003 release that revamps “Reflected Images“, but with most 12“ mixes missing)
Happy Birthday: The Best Of Altered Images (2 x CD, Music Club Deluxe MCDLX 046, 2007 release, 36 track selection including B-sides “Sentimental”, “Disco Pop Stars” and “Surprise Me”, plus the entire “Pinky Blue“ LP)
The Collection (CD, Sony 88697 738522, CD, 2010 release, includes original LP mix of “Don’t Talk To Me About Love”)


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

R.E.M.


It’s taken me a while to get round to doing an REM (or R.E.M.) article, mainly because up until about a year ago, there were too many gaps in my collection. But after a back injury last year laid me low for about 6 weeks, all the money I would have spent at the shops during my work lunch breaks, was directed instead towards bagging some of the missing Warner Brothers period singles, whilst the release of an IRS Years singles box fell into my lap early this year. That more or less plugged those gaps.

They always say “you should write about what you know”, and with the basic collection just missing the odd item here and there (although my hit list includes a number of “treat yourself” optional extras), now is the time to finally mark the brilliance of a band who threw in the towel some 6 years ago. A band whose jingle jangle indie rock revitalised the American college-rock scene, influenced Nirvana, and whose international breakthrough occurred just as they were indulging in instrument swapping in the studio, and refusing to go on tour again. They didn’t fully reinvent the wheel - the raucous 2003 single “Bad Day” sounded quite contemporary at the time, but it’s origins dated back over 15 years previous - yet the fact is, there are some absolute gems in this back catalogue. From the well known (“Radio Free Europe”, “The One I Love”, “Nightswimming” and “Imitation Of Life”), through to the slightly less populist (“These Days”, “Country Feedback”, “Why Not Smile” and “Horse To Water”). Perhaps the band were always on a slow, downward slide after Bill Berry walked out, but the likes of latter period albums like “Accelerate” definitely had their moments - you don’t need me to tell you how REM on autopilot were still better than Kajagoogoo or Bastille even when they tried their hardest.

So, two months after the Brit Awards gave Adele a gong for simply being quite popular by peddling inoffensive MOR, let’s celebrate a band who in order to win their Brit Awards, actually had to make good records, which were often inventive and left-field, or had to make simply utterly monumental music to win the battle for Best International Band (three times). “Rolling In The Deep” versus “Crush With Eyeliner”? No contest. Anyway - let’s begin.

The IRS Years

REM released their debut single in 1981 in the USA on the Hib-Tone label, the aforementioned “Radio Free Europe”. Very much a one off release, the group then began work on an EP, with the intention of it being released on a label owned by their then manager. However, the group had caught the eye of IRS Records, who dutifully signed the band and issued this EP, the 5 track “Chronic Town”, in 1982. The deal did not include the UK at the time, and whilst the EP did surface in some overseas territories, there was no UK release for it.

“Radio Free Europe” was then issued (again) as the band’s next single, having been re-recorded at the request of the label. It got a more widespread release, and became the band’s first UK 45, housed in the same picture cover as the US edition (but different to the original Hib-Tone pressing). The original Hib-Tone B-side, “Sitting Still”, was included on “Murmur“, the band‘s debut album, in a slightly remixed form, whilst the flipside for the new single release on IRS was a slightly shambling cover of the Velvet Underground’s “There She Goes Again”. The Hib-Tone recordings have resurfaced in various places since, including the 2-disc edition of the “And I Feel Fine” compilation from 2006. In the UK, the follow up release was a 12” only issue of “Talk About The Passion”, which included a couple of tracks from the “Chronic Town” EP as it’s B-sides.

The band would release five albums on the label before 1988, all of which more or less followed the jingle-jangle sound of “Murmur”. The band’s third LP, “Fables Of The Reconstruction”, was also known in some quarters as “Reconstruction Of The Fables”, after various pressings of the album made reference to the latter title as well as the former.

IRS tried their hardest to try and get REM into the singles charts, but with little success. Various quirky tricks were tried, which included issuing singles with different B-sides on different formats (“So. Central Rain”), double pack 7” sets (“Wendell Gee”) and singles issued in different covers dependent on which format you picked (“Fall On Me”). But not one of them made the top 40, although the band’s album sales were marginally better.

By the time the band had released “Document” in 1987, they were starting to get a lot of attention in America, and there was a buzz surrounding the band elsewhere as well. After a UK only single, “Finest Worksong” made number 50 in 1988, IRS decided to re-release an earlier 45, “The One I Love”. The same basic sleeve design was retained, but it was given a new catalogue number, and the original “rare” B-sides were replaced by former REM, erm, ‘hits’. It still didn’t really set the charts alight - charting lower than “Finest Worksong“ did.

By this point, the band were of the opinion that, as a relatively small label, IRS couldn’t quite get them to the next level. And so, an agreement was made for the band to leave the label for pastures new, and Warner Brothers came knocking. The band and label collaborated on a best-of release called “Eponymous”, which was mostly a selection of singles, with a few rarities scattered into the mix, including an alternate version of “Gardening At Night” from the “Chronic Town” EP and a soundtrack contribution, “Romance”. It was, in some respects, a companion release to the earlier “Dead Letter Office”, a B-sides collection that had been released in early 87, just before the release of “Document”.

When REM turned into superstars in 1991, IRS couldn’t resist telling the public that they had been there first. A slightly pointless release, “The Best Of REM”, was issued, which just seemed to cobble together a load of album mixes (even where said track had also been issued as a single in “single mix” form), although reviews were quite favourable. To coincide with the album, IRS reissued both “The One I Love” and “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” as singles to try and capitalize on the band’s new found success, and this time around, managed to get both singles into the top 40. As with the second release of “The One I Love”, the basic artwork was the same as the 80s originals. Both singles were issued as double-CD Single sets, featuring “rare material”, thus echoing the 2-CD releases that Warners were putting out at the same time for 45’s from the “Out Of Time” album (more later). But the IRS releases were restricted to simply selecting older B-sides, and whilst some of this stuff would have been new to some fans at the time, it has all been recycled since. One of the CD editions of “End Of The World” was withdrawn after the Hib-Tone version of “Radio Free Europe” was included, and seemed to cause some licensing problems.

In 1993, the five studio albums from this period were reissued by EMI (who by now were distributing IRS product) in expanded form. These releases, which were notable visually due to the front cover design referring to them under the “IRS Years Vintage” banner, did a very useful job in hoovering up B-sides that “Dead Letter Office” had missed. Purchasing all five of these, and “DLO”, will give you every UK B-side (bar two) that IRS put out. The missing tracks were the live versions of “9-9” and “Gardening At Night”, which had appeared on the UK 12” release of “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”. There were, actually, live performances of both these songs on the expanded “Murmur”, but were lifted from a completely different show, which may have been an accident as the sleeve suggested both tracks were previously released - these versions, in the UK at least, were not. The final track on the reissue of “Murmur“, a live version of “Catapult”, had only previously appeared on the US 7” version of the “Rockville” single, which itself was also housed in a totally different sleeve to the UK edition.

“Dead Letter Office” was also given an expanded reissue, to include not only the five tracks from the “Chronic Town” EP, but also some previously unreleased bonus tracks. One of these, “All The Right Friends”, was recorded by the band during both the IRS and Warners years, but both times failed to make it onto a studio album - it‘s appearance on “DLO“ was it‘s debut appearance. The “Warners” version of the track got released on the soundtrack album to “Vanilla Sky” in 2003, and later on “In Time”, a Warners years best of (again, more later). It is worth pointing out that these IRS reissues were never technically released in the UK, but were pressed in different European countries and then exported to the UK. EMI would usually list a UK catalogue number for an album that was designed for the UK market on the back of their CD’s, but none of mine have a UK catalogue number at all. However, they did seem to be exported in big numbers, and were usually available for sale at non-import prices.

In 1994, IRS issued the charming, but slightly “cash in”-esque “Singles Collected”. This 20-tracker neatly showcased the band’s UK single releases, and their accompanying flipsides (sort of). The edited mixes of “Radio Free Europe”, “Can’t Get There From Here” and “Rockville” made their CD debut. Artistic license was used when it came to the B-sides. Whilst the B-side of the UK 7” was usually included, the decision was taken not to use the flip of “Rockville” (“Wolves Lower” had originally been issued on “Chronic Town”, and appeared on the “Rockville“ 7“ in order to make it‘s UK debut) and so the aforementioned live version of “Catapult” was included instead. This would be the last IRS release, as the label had folded by 1997.

2006’s “And I Feel Fine” was notable really for featuring previously unreleased material from the era on disc 2, disc 1 was just another trundle through the singles and pick of the album tracks. IRS was briefly resurrected in the 2010’s, and in 2014, they released the quite wonderful “7IN 83-88”, a US only 12 x 7” boxset including repressings of all ten UK REM singles (although housed in US sleeves where such a single appeared Stateside in such an altered state), and the US only “Driver 8”. In the UK, IRS had issued “Wendell Gee” instead as a 45 (so the B-side “Crazy” appears on each), and the version in the box is a press of the original double pack, so you also get the bonus “Ages Of You” disc as well. Each release is very faithful to the original, with the original IRS catalogue number on the labels (with only two UK only releases here, the majority of cat numbers are US ones) whilst the US singles, having been released originally as jukebox style 45’s with the centre missing, appear here in the same jukebox-ready form. The UK only releases appear as solid centre pressings, as per the originals. Whilst the REM singles from this period aren’t quite as valuable as you might have thought a load of flop singles from a superstar band would have been, buying them all individually is going to take you past the £100 mark, whereas this boxset cost me as little as £40. With most of the “12” only” flipsides already available on “DLO” and the “Vintage Years” reissues, then really, this is a great way of getting the IRS singles into the collection.

The Warners Years

REM didn’t quite turn into megastars after their move to a bigger label. 1988’s “Green” certainly raised the band’s profile but “Stand” failed to enter the UK Top 40 both times it was released as a single. “Orange Crush” did make the top 30, the first REM 45 to do so. In the US, Warners took a different approach, issuing three (different) tracks as singles. In 1989, repressings on 7” of these three (“Stand”, “Get Up” and “Pop Song 89”) along with the UK only release that was “Orange Crush”, were issued in the “SingleActionGreen” boxset. The UK reissue of “Stand”, issued a few months before the boxset, used a new sleeve, a new catalogue number and new B-sides, but the boxset used the original cover, as per the US edition. “Green” was the first in a long line of releases on Warners that were to be issued in limited edition packaging in the USA, albeit with standard track listings.

It was 1991’s “Out Of Time” that catapulted the band into the big time. In a way, it was perverse that this was the release that broke them into the mainstream. Heavy use of the mandolin, drummer Bill Berry playing instruments other than the drums on several songs, a point blank refusal to tour - but with radio stations getting behind the band, and MTV sticking “Losing My Religion” on their play list, the group’s profile was being raised just as their music was heading in a slightly different direction.

In what almost felt like a “this is what you could have had” moment, each of the singles from the LP were issued as limited edition CD Singles, with live recordings as the extra tracks. These editions were easily noticeable by the black and white chequered borders that were used on the front covers. All four of these releases were later included in a European and Japanese boxset called, simply, “REM Singles Collection”.

At the start of the promo campaign for the album, the chart regulations in the UK allowed for the release of four standard formats (7”, MC, CD and 12”) along with a fifth “limited edition” release. The four standard releases followed the usual approach - new B-side on the 7” and Tape, with an extra flipside on the 12” and CD. The limited edition CD’s used the standard Warners “CDX” catalogue suffix to denote a special edition. Midway through the campaign, changes to the number of eligible formats was dropped to four, meaning that “Near Wild Heaven” and “Radio Song” appeared as limited edition CD’s, but not “standard” ones. The CD singles still used the “CDX” catalogue, but we now had some vinyl only flipsides appearing in the form of a remix of “Shiny Happy People” and an acoustic version of “Half A World Away”. Like the IRS albums, both “Green” and “Out Of Time” have been issued in deluxe form to mark their 25th anniversaries - but, along with the IRS deluxes, tend to concentrate on live material and demos, with the B-sides from the period ignored completely.

For the release of “Automatic For The People”, the band’s second jingle jangle classic on the trot, Warners decided to try and do a ‘Michael Jackson’ - by issuing no less than SIX singles from the LP. The first two, “Drive” and “Man On The Moon” were issued as double CD sets, with the second CD’s dubbed “Collectors Edition” releases, which saw the artwork of the regular single reduced in size, with a ‘wooden effect’ border used for each release. “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” was also issued as two CD singles, both in similarly designed sleeves, both of which were dubbed “Collectors Editions”, with a number 1 or 2 on the front dependent on which CD it was. “Everybody Hurts” was also issued as a pair of Collectors Edition CD’s, with a specific mention that each disc was part of a 2-disc set. By now, it did seem as though the outtakes were drying up, as the B-side of the “Orange Crush” 12”, a cover of Syd Barrett’s “Dark Globe”, turned up on CD2.

For the sublime “Nightswimming”, a different approach was taken. Live recordings from a 1991 gig were used as B-sides, with a live version of “Losing My Religion” appearing on the 7” and Cassette editions. This particular flipside would turn out to be a non-CD item in the UK, as the accompanying CD Single release opted for three totally different tracks from the same gig. The 12” picture disc release, the band’s first in the UK, replicated the CD track listing.

The final release, “Find The River”, saw the barrel being well and truly scraped. There were no double CD approaches this time, indeed, there was not even a fourth format release, and the only release of interest was the CD Single, which offered up the band’s performance of “Everybody Hurts” from the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards, along with an utterly pointless instrumental version of “Orange Crush”. The single failed to dent the UK Top 40, which was as good a sign as any that Warners had milked the album just a bit too much.

REM returned to the gigging circuit to support 1994’s gloriously feedback-heavy “Monster”, a daring but exhilarating left turn, as if the band figured they needed to pick up where Nirvana had left off. By not touring the two previous records, REM had therefore missed what could have been the ‘Arena Years’, and in the summer of 95, were playing the hole in the ground that was Milton Keynes Bowl (twice), with a who’s who of Britpop acts appearing as support acts (Blur, Sleeper and Radiohead).

Again, Warners opted for a interesting and intense promo campaign when it came to the 45’s. Five singles were released, with the 7” and Cassette editions of each featuring an instrumental version of the A-side as the flip (they were listed, on the first few releases, as the “K Versions” - K standing for Karaoke, of course).

For the third and fourth releases, to try and drum up interest, the 7” releases were pressed on coloured vinyl with free gifts (the incendiary “Crush with Eyeliner” was housed inside an REM Calendar sleeve, the beautiful “Strange Currencies” included a free badge), whilst the final release, “Tongue”, was pressed on black vinyl but housed in a numbered sleeve.

The first four singles were also issued on CD, with exclusive live tracks from a Greenpeace benefit show the band had played in their hometown, Athens, in November 1992 as bonuses, instead of the “K” versions. The exception to the rule was “Tongue”, which included live recordings instead from the band’s appearance on the “Saturday Night Live” US TV show.

“Tongue” is also worth a special mention, as regards it’s Cassette release. The tape was pressed as an extra length tape, most of which was blank, and fans were encouraged to put the live recordings from the “Monster” singles onto the blank section of the tape - the inlay could even be refolded to show a ’bootleg’ style cover with the legend “REM 92” on the cover. Ace. An essential item, but just hope, if you get one, that nobody has accidentally taped over the two pre-recorded tracks instead...

Striking whilst the iron was still hot, the band recorded a big chunk of their next album, 1996‘s “New Adventures In Hi Fi” at soundchecks and gigs on the tour, whilst many of the B-sides that would appear on singles taken from the LP were also sourced using the same approach. After the multi formatting madness of the previous few years, things were scaled back a bit this time around, with the Cassette Single releases just offering up a track off the accompanying (4 track) CD release, whilst the “Limited Edition” versions released were simply the same as the standard CD releases but in thick jewel cases.

In some respects, “New Adventures” marked the turning point of the band from unit shifting, critical darlings, into a less loved and less popular band of indie-rockers. It’s release coincided with the signing of a new headlining grabbing $80m deal to re-sign to Warners - only for drummer Bill Berry to leave the band the following year. The new three piece version of the band (augmented on stage and in the studio by a selection of session musicians) struggled to ever release another album that excited the music press, although 2001’s “Reveal” did have it’s stand out moments, and 2008’s “Accelerate” - designed to blow away the cobwebs of the rather genteel 2005 release “Around The Sun” - was seen very much as a return to form. There were not really many mis-steps during this period, but REM did become kind of dependable, as opposed to releasing anything that was too avant garde or out of the ordinary.

1998’s “Up” saw the band issue each of the singles in the UK as standard CD releases, but also as limited edition 3” CD’s in Japanese-style “snap pack” sleeves. In keeping with the shorter running time these offered, each of these releases appeared with just the one (exclusive) B-side, although the format could actually contain much more music than this.

The first two releases from the LP, “Daysleeper” and “Lotus”, featured flipsides on the 3” releases that were taped “live in the studio”, before the next two releases featured material taped at TV shows and on Radio during a promotional jaunt around the UK. The band played “TFI Friday” where Mike and Peter happily signed autographs outside the studio, but Michael politely declined to sign anything, as he was going through a sort of “anti fame” period at the time. Still, I never met Bill Berry either, so only getting half the band’s scribbles on my copy of “Up” isn’t the end of the world.

“At My Most Beautiful” included as B-sides, on both CD releases, material from the band’s appearance on “Later”. The 5“ CD had a radio remix of the A-side as the lead track, whilst the 3” used a live version taped for John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show. Peel, at times, would seem to show little interest in alternative acts who perhaps were not alternative enough (he never “got“ Patti Smith, for example), but after starting to get a liking for Blur after they “went grunge“ in 1997, REM were the latest band to suddenly gain interest from the man years after they could (or should) had done a session for him. More live tracks from “Later” were used as B-sides on the final single from the LP, “Suspicion” (which flopped spectacularly), whilst the A-side version on the 3” was taped at the Ealing Studios in West London two days after this TV gig.

The summer of 1999 saw REM tour the UK, ‘downsizing’ from the stadiums of the “Monster” tour to the smaller likes of Earls Court, along with a headlining slot at the Glastonbury Festival. Recordings from the gig made it onto the B-side of the group’s next single, “The Great Beyond”, which was one of several REM (and REM related) songs that appeared on the soundtrack album of the “Man On The Moon” movie.

For “Reveal”, Warners began to stop issuing each of the singles as part of a pattern. There were DVD Single releases for the first two 45’s from the LP, but not the last. It was followed in 2003 by “In Time”, designed to commemorate the band’s fifteen year long (at that point) Warners career. It was issued as both a standard and a limited edition release - the limited release featured more tracks on the second disc than chart regulations allowed, and thus had it’s sales counted as a separate release, resulting in the album entering the top 40 at both number 1 (for the standard edition) and 36 (for the double disc version). The double disc version, which was housed in a nicely packaged slipcase design, featured a slightly ramshackle selection of odds and sods on CD2 - for every B-side that made the set, dozens more didn’t. There were also a few previously unreleased live tracks to entice the completists, whilst both the 1-CD and 2-CD editions included the aforementioned “Warners” version of “All The Right Friends”. Another track that dated from the IRS years, as mentioned earlier, “Bad Day”, was also included and issued as a single to help promote the album. It was re-recorded especially for the album, but the original unreleased version from the mid 80s would turn up on the second disc of the “And I Feel Fine” compilation three years later.

As REM began to fall into the “heritage acts” category, slowly being eased off the radio play lists, Warners continued to be less adventurous with the singles. Another new song from “In Time”, “Animal” was issued as a CD Single - and nothing else. 2004’s much maligned “Around The Sun” did however spawn no less than 4 singles, each issued as double CD sets, albeit with alternate versions of already available REM tracks as flipsides. Three of the four singles were issued as 7” singles, either as picture discs or coloured vinyl. In a polar opposite of the way these singles used to be packaged, the picture disc for “Leaving New York” came in a full picture sleeve, and the red vinyl release of “Wanderlust” was housed in a stickered, but otherwise clear, PVC sleeve. It had been more usual, in earlier years for most acts, to package these things the other way round.

By the time we got to the single releases for the fiery “Accelerate”, the impending death of the physical single saw a series of slightly half hearted releases. “Supernatural Superserious” appeared as a 2 track CD release, and a three track release - one of the bonus tracks was the same as the one on the 2 tracker, which was a bit pointless, whilst both these tracks also appeared in DVD-Audio form on the free DVD included with first issues of the “Accelerate“ CD. “Hollow Man” was to be issued on two CD’s with, again, CD2 featuring an extra track, but was cancelled for reasons unknown - so despite the un-cancelled CD Single being issued with a catalogue number bearing the legend “CD1“, CD2 never surfaced. “Man Sized Wreath” only turned up as a 7” single. Again, a 3 track release adding an extra track was made - as a digital download only.

There were no physical releases from “Collapse Into Now”, an album which seemed to continue with what at the time seemed like a renaissance for the band. “Uberlin” was the first track to be plugged as a promo in the UK, whilst other tracks were selected for other countries, and a 2011 Record Store Day release called “REM Three” included three 7” singles inside, each featuring a physical reproduction of the three lead singles - alongside “Uberlin“, there was a 7“ led by “Mine Smell Like Honey“ (the first ‘single‘ in the USA) and another with “Oh My Heart“ on the a-side, which was the lead single in Germany, actually achieving a physical CD single release at the time there as well. But as we all know, Record Store Day releases don't count.

“Collapse Into Now” was not the rebirth we might have hoped for. By the end of 2011, the band had decided to call it a day, deciding to bow out before they started to hate each other or make terrible records. Less charitable types claimed the end had come 15 years too late, but just look at what we have now without REM - the increasingly awful Ed Sheeran, who last night "headlined" what was the worst edition of "Later" ever broadcast, by performing two of the worst singles I have ever heard in my life, the funk-pop horror of The 1975, who at The Brits this year reminded me of the dreadful Living In A Box, and the atrocity that is Rag And Bone Man - a so-called "authentic" soul singer, whose songs seem to have been written by a computer labelled 'To be used to create big selling, bearded-Gary Barlow style R&B abominations, which actually scream "Total MOR Dreck" but will be marketed as "Happening Leftfield Songwriter" so the likes of the Metro and Radio 2 will fall for the hype'. Charles Bradley he ain't. This lot makes REM’s drunken abomination of a cover version of “King Of The Road” sound like something off “The White Album” (apologies if you like any of those, but as long as you also have a copy of "Daydream Nation", you are forgiven). They departed with a full career spanning best of, “Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage” - and unfortunately left us with a big gap in the jingle jangle section of indie rock. Thank god Teenage Fanclub are still going. RIP REM.

Discography

In an attempt to cover most bases, I have split the discography into chunks. The IRS releases are shown as both a list of the original studio albums, details of the “Vintage Years” reissue, and finally the double-disc “Deluxe Edition” reissues that have appeared as part of the ongoing “25th Anniversary” reissues of all of the band’s LP’s. There is only really one definitive version of each of the band’s IRS-era comps, so the recommended CD pressings of each are listed thereafter.

For the IRS 45’s, I have listed everything, as the majority would be of interest if you have “DLO” and the expanded albums, because few of these flipsides are now un-rare. Apart from getting “Rockville” on 12”, buying anything else on any format will do the job. Whilst researching this article, I also listed, for my own benefit, the rather pointless 7” and Cassette single releases from the Warners years between 1991 and 1995, so have left them in here. The releases from 96 onwards are what I would consider the only releases of interest to the eager (but not hardcore) fan. Not mentioned here are the legally dubious "A Retrospective" boxsets, in which unsold US jukebox 45's were gathered up into a series of barcode-free boxes issued by an anonymous label, but somehow made it into HMV in the late 90s. I will probably cover these in a future blog, as the one I own is quite fascinating.

For the Warners years LP‘s, I have listed the original UK CD releases, and where they exist (so far), any 25th anniversary editions. I have also listed the 2005 “double disc” reissues, which featured the relevant LP in surround sound on a DVD, along with a few other extras, and the odd “limited edition” release where I either have it, or would be happy to accept it as a free gift from anybody reading this.

UK IRS ALBUMS

Murmur (LP, IRS SP 70604)
Murmur (CD, EMI/IRS 0777 7 13158 2, with 4 bonus tracks including “There She Goes Again“)
Murmur (2xCD, Capitol/IRS 509996 46079 24, with bonus live disc from Toronto 1983)

Reckoning (LP, IRS IRSA 7045)
Reckoning (CD, EMI/IRS 0777 7 13159 2, with 5 bonus tracks including “Tighten Up”, originally issued on a flexi disc)
Reckoning (2xCD, Capitol/IRS 509996 46082 28, with bonus live disc from Chicago 1984)

Fables Of The Reconstruction (LP, IRS MIRF 1003)
Fables Of The Reconstruction (CD, EMI/IRS 0777 7 13160 2, with 5 bonus tracks including “Driver 8 (Live)” from the “Wendell Gee” 12”)
Fables Of The Reconstruction (2xCD, Capitol/IRS 509996 46071 22, with bonus disc of demos)

Lifes Rich Pageant (LP, IRS MIRG 1014)
Lifes Rich Pageant (CD, EMI/IRS 0777 7 13201 2, with 6 bonus tracks including previously unissued material)
Lifes Rich Pageant (2xCD, Capitol/IRS 509990 82447 27, with bonus disc of demos)

Document (LP, IRS MIRG 1025)
Document (CD, EMI/IRS 0777 7 13200 2, with 6 bonus tracks including “Finest Worksong” mixes)
Document (2xCD, Capitol/IRS 509999 72006 28, with bonus live disc from Utrecht 1987)

UK "IRS" COMPILATION CD’s

Dead Letter Office (CD, EMI/IRS, 0777 7 13199 2, 1993 reissue with 7 bonus tracks)
Eponymous (CD, IRS DMIRG 1038)
The Best Of REM (CD, IRS DMIRH 1)
Singles Collected (CD, EMI/IRS 7243 8 29642 2)
And I Feel Fine (2xCD, Capitol 09463 69942 2, Limited Edition version with 21 track bonus disc)

SELECTED WARNERS LP’s/CD’S

Green (CD, Warner Bros 925 795-2, original 1988 release)
Green (CD+DVD, Warner Bros 8122 73948 2, 2005 reissue with videos and documentary)
Green (2xCD, Warner Bros 8122 79657 9, 2013 reissue, with free “Live In Greensboro 1989” disc, and various inserts)

Out Of Time (LP+7”, Warner Bros WX 404 / PRO 610, possibly Euro Only release, 1991)
Out Of Time (CD, Warner Bros 7599 26496 2, original 1991 release)
Out Of Time (US CD, Warner Bros 9 26527, limited edition release in fold out scrapbook-style sleeve, with postcards and insert)
Out Of Time (CD+DVD, Warner Bros 8122 73951 2, 2005 reissue with documentary)
Out Of Time (2xCD, Concord Bicycle Music CRE 00231, with second disc of demos and poster, different front cover design, 2016 reissue)
Out Of Time (3xCD+Blu Ray, Concord Bicycle Music CRE 00232, hardback book design with second disc of demos, and third disc of live material, plus Blu Ray content including videos, 2016 reissue)

Automatic For The People (CD, Warner Bros 9362 45055 2, original 1991 release)
Automatic For The People (US CD, Warner Bros 9 45122, limited edition release in wooden box with 16 postcards)
Automatic For The People (CD+DVD, Warner Bros 8122 78175 2, 2005 reissue with documentary)

Monster (CD, Warner Bros 9362 45740 2, original 1994 release)
Monster (Limited Edition CD, Warner Bros 9362 45763 2, 52 page hardback book edition also released with alternate catalogue number in US)
Monster (CD+DVD, Warner Bros 8122 73939 2, 2005 reissue with documentary)

New Adventures In Hi-Fi (CD, Warner Bros 9362 46436 2, original 1996 release)
New Adventures In Hi-Fi (US CD, Warner Bros 9 46321 2, in hardback book sleeve)
New Adventures In Hi-Fi (CD+DVD, Warner Bros 8122 73950 2, 2005 reissue with documentary)

Up (CD, Warner Bros 9362 47112 2, original 1998 release)
Up (US CD, Warner Bros 9 47151 2, boxset with book, poster and photos)
Up (CD+DVD, Warner Bros 8122 73952 2, 2005 reissue with “Ealing Studios” performance)

Reveal (CD, Warner Bros 9362 47946 2, original 2001 release)
Reveal (US CD, Warner Bros 9 48078 2, with 40-page booklet)
Reveal (CD+DVD, Warner Bros 8122 76539 2, 2005 reissue with documentary and “I’ll Take The Rain” promo)

In Time: The Best Of REM 1988-2003 (CD, Warner Bros 9362 48381 2)
In Time: The Best Of REM 1988-2003 (2xCD, Warner Bros 9362 48602 2, “Deluxe“ edition in slipcase with booklet, with rarities and B-sides on CD2)

Around The Sun (CD, Warner Bros 9362 48911 2, original 2004 release)
Around The Sun (US CD, Warner Bros 9 48906 2, boxset with 14 poster inserts)
Around The Sun (CD+DVD, Warner Bros 9362 49315 2, 2005 reissue with promos, live videos and documentary)

Accelerate (CD, Warner Bros 9362 49874 1)
Accelerate (CD+DVD, Warner Bros 9362 49877 2, limited edition version in DVD sleeve style packaging, with documentary and DVD-Audio bonus tracks “Airliner” and “Red Head Walking”)

Live At The Olympia In Dublin 39 Songs (2xCD, Warner Bros 9362 49733 0)
Live At The Olympia In Dublin 39 Songs (2xCD+DVD, Warner Bros 9362 49748 1, DVD includes documentary)

Collapse Into Now (CD, Warner Bros 9362 49627 1)

Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage (2xCD, Warner Bros 9362 49534 5)

Unplugged 1991-2001 (2xCD, Rhino 8122 79595 7)

Note: I have excluded DVD releases which included free “live” CD’s, such as “REM Live” from 2007, as these would better be suited to a specific look at video releases, that I would like to do, once I have filled in those other gaps in my collection. And yes, that means the “Unplugged” release shown above, despite being a co-production with MTV, is indeed audio only. Baffling.

COMPLETE UK SINGLES 1983-1995

Radio Free Europe/There She Goes Again (7”, IRS PFP 1017)

Talk About The Passion/Shaking Through/Carnival Of Sorts (Box Cars)/1,000,000 (12”, IRS PFSX 1026)

So. Central Rain/King Of The Road (7”, IRS IRS 105)
So. Central Rain/Voice Of Harold/Pale Blue Eyes (12”, IRS IRSX 105)

(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville/Wolves (7”, IRS IRS 107)
(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville/Wolves/9-9 (Live)/Gardening At Night (Live) (12”, IRS IRS 107, purple p/s)

Can’t Get There From Here/Bandwagon (7”, IRS IRM 102)
Can’t Get There From Here/Bandwagon/Burning Hell (12”, IRS IRMT 102)

Wendell Gee/Crazy (7”, IRS IRM 105)
Wendell Gee/Crazy/Ages Of You/Burning Down (2x7”, IRS IRMD 105, green p/s)
Wendell Gee/Crazy/Driver 8 (Live Seattle 27.6.1984) (12”, IRS IRT 105)

Fall On Me/Rotary Ten (7”, IRS IRM 121)
Fall On Me/Rotary Ten/Toys In The Attic (12”, IRS IRMT 121, unique p/s)

Superman/White Tornado (7”, IRS IRM 128)
Superman/White Tornado/Femme Fatale (12”, IRS IRMT 128)

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)/This One Goes Out (Live) (7”, IRS IRM 145)
It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)/This One Goes Out (Live)/Maps And Legends (Live) (12”, IRS IRMT 145, different p/s)

The One I Love/Last Date (7”, IRS IRM 146)
The One I Love/Last Date/Disturbance At The Heron House (Live) (12”, IRS IRMT 146, different p/s)
The One I Love/Last Date/Disturbance At The Heron House (Live) (CD, IRS DIRM 146)

Finest Worksong/Time After Time Etc. (Live Vara Radio, Utrecht 14.9.1987) (7”, IRS IRM 161)
Finest Worksong (Lengthy Club Mix)/(Other Mix)/Time After Time Etc. (Live Vara Radio, Utrecht 14.9.1987) (12”, IRS IRMT 161, different p/s)
Finest Worksong/Time After Time Etc. (Live Vara Radio, Utrecht 14.9.1987)/It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) (Numbered CD, IRS DIRM 161, unique “oversized” p/s)

The One I Love/Fall On Me (7”, IRS IRM 173)
The One I Love/Fall On Me/So. Central Rain (12”, IRS IRMT 173)
The One I Love/Fall On Me/So. Central Rain (CD, IRS DIRM 173)

Stand/Memphis Train Blues (7”, Warner Bros W 7577, some copies labelled as “Special Edition“ [W 7577 X] in recycled sleeve)
Stand/Memphis Train Blues (Cassette, Warner Bros W 7577 C)
Stand/Memphis Train Blues/Eleventh Untitled Song (12“, Warner Bros W 7577 T)
Stand/Memphis Train Blues/Eleventh Untitled Song (3“ CD1, Warner Bros W 7577 CD)
Stand/Memphis Train Blues/Eleventh Untitled Song (3“ CD2 in leaf p/s, Warner Bros W 7577 CD)

Orange Crush/Ghost Riders (7”, Warner Bros W 2960, some copies labelled as “Special Edition“ [W 2960 X] in recycled sleeve)
Orange Crush/Ghost Riders (Boxset 7”, Warner Bros W 2960, diff p/s with poster)
Orange Crush/Ghost Riders/Dark Globe (12”, Warner Bros W 2960 T)
Orange Crush/Ghost Riders/Dark Globe (3” CD, Warner Bros W 2960 T, white border p/s)

Stand/Pop Song 89 (Acoustic Version) (7”, Warner Bros W 2833)
Stand/Pop Song 89 (Acoustic Version) (Stencil sleeved 7”, Warner Bros W 2833 W)
Stand/Pop Song 89 (Acoustic Version)/Skin Tight (Live) (12”, Warner Bros W 2833 T)
Stand/Pop Song 89 (Acoustic Version)/Skin Tight (Live) (3” CD1, Warner Bros W 2833 CD)
Stand/Pop Song 89 (Acoustic Version)/Skin Tight (Live) (3” CD2 in unique fold out sleeve, Warner Bros W 2833 CD)

Losing My Religion/Rotary Eleven (7”, Warner Bros W 0015)
Losing My Religion/Rotary Eleven (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0015 C)
Losing My Religion/Rotary Eleven/After Hours (Live) (12”, Warner Bros W 0015 T)
Losing My Religion/Rotary Eleven/After Hours (Live) (CD1, Warner Bros W 0015 CD)
Losing My Religion/Stand (Live)/Turn You Inside Out (Live)/World Leader Pretend (Live) (CD2, Warner Bros W 0015 CDX, in black and white bordered p/s)

Shiny Happy People/Forty Second Song (7”, Warner Bros W 0027)
Shiny Happy People/Forty Second Song (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0027 C)
Shiny Happy People/Forty Second Song/Losing My Religion (Live Acoustic Version) (12”, Warner Bros W 0027 T)
Shiny Happy People/Forty Second Song/Losing My Religion (Live Acoustic Version) (CD1, Warner Bros W 0027 CD)
Shiny Happy People/I Remember California (Live)/Get Up (Live)/Pop Song 89 (Live) (CD2, Warner Bros W 0027 CDX, in black and white bordered p/s)

Near Wild Heaven/Pop Song 89 (Live London The Borderline 15.3.1991) (7”, Warner Bros W 0055)
Near Wild Heaven/Pop Song 89 (Live London The Borderline 15.3.1991) (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0055 C)
Near Wild Heaven/Pop Song 89 (Live London The Borderline 15.3.1991)/Half A World Away (Live Acoustic Version) (12”, Warner Bros W 0055 T)
Near Wild Heaven/Tom’s Diner (Live London The Borderline 15.3.1991)/Low (Live London The Borderline 15.3.1991)/Endgame (Live London The Borderline 15.3.1991) (CD, Warner Bros W 0055 CDX, in black and white bordered p/s)

The One I Love/Crazy (7”, IRS IRM 178)
The One I Love/Crazy (Cassette, IRS IRMC 178)
The One I Love/This One Goes Out (Live)/Maps And Legends (Live) (CD1, IRS DIRMT 178, black p/s)
The One I Love/Driver 8 (Live)/Disturbance At The Heron House (Live) (CD2, IRS DIRMX 178, white p/s)

Radio Song/Love Is All Around (7”, Warner Bros W 0072)
Radio Song/Love Is All Around (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0072 C)
Radio Song/Love Is All Around/Shiny Happy People (Music Mix) (12”, Warner Bros W 0072 T)
Radio Song/You Are The Everything (Live from “Tourfilm“)/Orange Crush (Live)/Belong (Live) (CD, Warner Bros W 0072 CDX, in black and white bordered p/s)

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)/Radio Free Europe (7”, IRS IRM 180)
It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)/Radio Free Europe (Cassette, IRS IRMC 180)
It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)/Radio Free Europe (Hib Tone 7” Mix)/Last Date/White Tornado (CD1, IRS DIRMX 180, green p/s)
It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)/Radio Free Europe/Time After Time Etc. (Live Vara Radio, Utrecht 14.9.1987) (CD2, IRS DIRMT 180, blue p/s)

Drive/World Leader Pretend (7”, Warner Bros W 0136)
Drive/World Leader Pretend (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0136 C)
Drive/World Leader Pretend/First We Take Manhattan (12”, Warner Bros W 0136 T)
Drive/World Leader Pretend/First We Take Manhattan (CD1, Warner Bros W 0136 CD)
Drive/It’s A Free World Baby/Winged Mammal Theme/First We Take Manhattan (CD2, Warner Bros W 0136 CDX, bordered p/s)

Man On The Moon (Edit)/Turn You Inside Out (7”, Warner Bros W 0143)
Man On The Moon (Edit)/Turn You Inside Out (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0143 C)
Man On The Moon (Edit)/Turn You Inside Out/Arms Of Love (CD1, Warner Bros W 0143 CD)
Man On The Moon/Fruity Organ/New Orleans Instrumental #2 (CD2, Warner Bros W 0143 CDX, bordered p/s)

The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite/Get Up (7”, Warner Bros W 0152)
The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite/Get Up (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0152 C)
The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite/The Lion Sleeps Tonight/Fretless (CD1, Warner Bros W 0152 CD1)
The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite/Organ Song/Star Me Kitten (Demo) (CD2, Warner Bros W 0152 CD2, slightly different p/s)

Everybody Hurts (Edit)/Pop Song 89 (7”, Warner Bros W 0169)
Everybody Hurts (Edit)/Pop Song 89 (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0169 C)
Everybody Hurts (Edit)/New Orleans Instrumental No.1 (Long Version)/Mandolin Strum (CD1, Warner Bros W 0169 CD1)
Everybody Hurts (Edit)/Chance (Dub)/Dark Globe (CD2, Warner Bros W 0169 CD2)

Nightswimming/Losing My Religion (Live Charleston Capital Plaza Theatre 28.4.1991) (7”, Warner Bros W 0184)
Nightswimming/Losing My Religion (Live Charleston Capital Plaza Theatre 28.4.1991) (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0184 C)
Nightswimming/World Leader Pretend (Live Charleston Capital Plaza Theatre 28.4.1991)/Belong (Live Charleston Capital Plaza Theatre 28.4.1991)/Low (Live Charleston Capital Plaza Theatre 28.4.1991) (12“ Picture Disc, Warner Bros W 0184 TP, in die cut sleeve)
Nightswimming/World Leader Pretend (Live Charleston Capital Plaza Theatre 28.4.1991)/Belong (Live Charleston Capital Plaza Theatre 28.4.1991)/Low (Live Charleston Capital Plaza Theatre 28.4.1991) (CD, Warner Bros W 0184 CD)

Find The River/Everybody Hurts (Live 1993 MTV Awards) (7”, Warner Bros W 0211)
Find The River/Everybody Hurts (Live 1993 MTV Awards) (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0211 C)
Find The River/Everybody Hurts (Live 1993 MTV Awards)/Orange Crush (Instrumental) (CD, Warner Bros W 0211 CD)

What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? (Radio Version)/(K Version) (7”, Warner Bros W 0265)
What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? (Radio Version)/(K Version) (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0265 C)
What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? (Radio Version)/Monty Got A Raw Deal (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992)/Everybody Hurts (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992)/Man On The Moon (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992) (CD, Warner Bros W 0265 CD)

Bang And Blame (Album Version)/(K Version) (7”, Warner Bros W 0275)
Bang And Blame (Album Version)/(K Version) (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0275 C)
Bang And Blame/Losing My Religion (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992)/Country Feedback (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992)/Begin The Begin (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992) (CD, Warner Bros W 0275 CD)

Crush With Eyeliner (LP Mix)/(Instrumental) (Orange Vinyl 7”, Warner Bros W 0281 X, in fold out calendar style sleeve, vinyl inside white inner bag)
Crush With Eyeliner (LP Mix)/(Instrumental) (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0281 C)
Crush With Eyeliner/Fall On Me (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992)/Me In Honey (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992)/Finest Worksong (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992) (CD, Warner Bros W 0281 CD)

Strange Currencies (Album Version)/(Instrumental) (Green Vinyl 7”, Warner Bros W 0290 X, with badge)
Strange Currencies (Album Version)/(Instrumental) (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0290 C)
Strange Currencies/Drive (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992)/Funtime (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992)/Radio Free Europe (Live Athens GA 19.11.1992) (CD, Warner Bros W 0290 CD)

Tongue (LP Mix)/(Instrumental) (Numbered 7”, Warner Bros W 0308 X)
Tongue (LP Mix)/(Instrumental) (Cassette, Warner Bros W 0308 C)
Tongue/What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? (SNL 12.11.1994)/Bang And Blame (SNL 12.11.1994)/I Don’t Sleep, I Dream (SNL 12.11.1994) (CD, Warner Bros W 0308 CD)

IMPORTANT UK SINGLES 1996-2011

E-Bow The Letter/Tricycle (Live, St Louis Soundcheck 22.9.1995)/Departure (Live, Rome Soundcheck 22.2.1995)/Wall Of Death (CD, Warner Bros W 0369 CD, limited edition copies in thicker jewel casing [W 0369 CDX])

Bittersweet Me (Memphis Soundcheck)/Undertow (Live in Atlanta)/Wichita Lineman (Live in Houston)/New Test Leper (Acoustic, Seattle Studio) (CD, Warner Bros W 0377 CD, limited edition copies in thicker jewel casing [W 0377 CDX])

Electrolite/The Wake Up Bomb (Live in Atlanta)/Binky The Doormat (Live in Atlanta)/King Of Comedy (808 State Remix) (CD, Warner Bros W 0383 CD, limited edition copies in thicker jewel casing [W 0383 CDX])

Daysleeper (Edit)/Emphysema/Why Not Smile (Oxford American Version) (CD, Warner Bros W 0455 CD)
Daysleeper (Edit)/Sad Professor (Live In The Studio) (3” CD in Japanese style longbox, Warner Bros W 0455 CDX)

Lotus/Surfing The Ganges/Lotus (Weird Mix) (CD, Warner Bros W 466 CD)
Lotus/Suspicion (Live In The Studio) (3” CD in Japanese style longbox, Warner Bros W 466 CDX)

At My Most Beautiful (Radio Remix)/Passenger (Later With Jools Holland 27.10.1998)/Country Feedback (Later With Jools Holland 27.10.1998) (CD, Warner Bros W 477 CD)
At My Most Beautiful (Radio 1 Live Version 25.10.1998)/So. Central Rain (Later With Jools Holland 27.10.1998) (3” CD in Japanese style longbox, Warner Bros W 477 CDX)

Suspicion/Electrolite (Later With Jools Holland 27.10.1998)/Man On The Moon (Later With Jools Holland 27.10.1998) (CD, Warner Bros W 488 CD)
Suspicion (Live at Ealing Studios 29.10.1998)/Perfect Circle (Later With Jools Holland 27.10.1998) (3” CD in Japanese style longbox, Warner Bros W 488 CDX)

The Great Beyond (Radio Edit)/Man On The Moon (Live Glastonbury Festival 25.6.1999) (Cassette, Warner Bros W 516 C)
The Great Beyond (Radio Edit)/Everybody Hurts (Live Glastonbury Festival 25.6.1999)/The One I Love (Live Glastonbury Festival 25.6.1999) (CD, Warner Bros W 516 CD)

Imitation Of Life/The Lifting (Original Version)/Beat A Drum (Dalkey Demo) (CD, Warner Bros W 559 CD)
Imitation Of Life (Video)/2JN/The Lifting (Original Version) (DVD, Warner Bros W 559 DVD, unique p/s)

All The Way To Reno (You’re Gonna Be A Star)/Yellow River/Imitation Of Life (Live, London Trafalgar Square 29.4.2001)/(Live, London Trafalgar Square 29.4.2001 - Video) (CD, Warner Bros W 568 CDX)
All The Way To Reno (You’re Gonna Be A Star) (Video)/Yellow River/165 Hillcrest (DVD, Warner Bros W 568 DVD, unique p/s)

I’ll Take The Rain/32 Chord Song/I’ve Been High (Live Channel V “By Demand" 31.5.2001 - Video) (CD1, Warner Bros W 573 CDX)
I’ll Take The Rain/I’ve Been High (Live Channel V “By Demand" 31.5.2001)/She Just Wants To Be (Live New York Museum Of Television And Radio 18.5.2001) (CD2, Warner Bros W 573 CD, unique p/s)

Bad Day/Favourite Writer (7”, Warner Bros W 624)
Bad Day/Favourite Writer/Bad Day (Video) (CD1, Warner Bros W 624 CD1)
Bad Day/Out In The Country/Adagio (CD2, Warner Bros W 624 CD2, unique p/s)

Animal (New Mix)/Pretty Persuasion (Live New York Clinton Studios 7.10.2003)/Losing My Religion (Live Wiesbaden 2003 - Video) (CD, Warner Bros W 633 CD)

Leaving New York/(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (Live Oslo NRK PI Radio 25.10.2003) (CD1, Warner Bros W 654 CD1, unique p/s)
Leaving New York/You Are The Everything (Live Take)/These Days (Live Toronto 30.9.2003) (CD2, Warner Bros W 654 CD2)
Leaving New York/(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (Live Oslo NRK PI Radio 25.10.2003) (7“ Picture Disc, Warner Bros W 654)

Aftermath/High Speed Train (Live) (CD1, Warner Bros W 658 CD1)
Aftermath/So Fast, So Numb (Live Take)/All The Right Friends (Live Take) (CD2, Warner Bros W 658 CD2, different p/s)

Electron Blue/What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? (Live Atlanta 23.10.2004) (Blue Vinyl 7”, Warner Bros W 665)
Electron Blue/What’s The Frequency, Kenneth? (Live Atlanta 23.10.2004) (CD1, Warner Bros W 665 CD1)
Electron Blue/Sweetness Follows (Live Cincinnati 27.10.2004)/Leaving New York (Live Helsinki 29.1.2005 - Video) (CD2, Warner Bros W 665 CD2)

Wanderlust/The Outsiders (feat. Q-Tip) (Red Vinyl 7”, Warner Bros W 676)
Wanderlust/Low (Alternate Version) (CD1, Warner Bros W 676 CD1)
Wanderlust/The Outsiders (feat. Q-Tip)/Bad Day (Live Zaragoza 28.5.2005 - Video) (CD2, Warner Bros W 676 CD2, unique p/s)

Supernatural Superserious/Airliner (CD1, Warner Bros W 798 CD)
Supernatural Superserious/Airliner/Red Head Walking (CD2, Warner Bros W 798 CDX)

Hollow Man/Horse To Water (Vancouver) (CD, Warner Bros W 804 CD1)

Man Sized Wreath/Living Well Jesus Dog (Clear Vinyl 7”, Warner Bros W 807)