The Strokes' 'Is This It' turns 20

Though Is This It? is often rightfully praised as a garage rock masterpiece, perhaps the best song The Strokes have written is on their often-overlooked but also excellent sophomore album “Room on Fire“. Beginning with the palm-muted tremolo picking of Albert Hammond Jr., “What Ever Happened?” couldn’t have been on the debut; it showed precision and complexity not previously present, without muddying the band’s sound at all. Five unassuming men from New York City called The Strokes were able to hit with the impact that they did, a potent mixture of timing and talent, style and substance. Guitar music always seemed to be on the verge of dying, as claimed by music critics, but here came a little lo-fi garage rock group to salvage it. The quintet Julian Casablancas, Albert Hammond Jr., Nick Valensi, Nikolai Fraiture, and Fabrizio Moretti – became unexpected style icons: with their double denim looks, tight leather jackets, unkempt hair, and general scruffiness, they were hip but relatable.

Casablancas was a magnetic but withdrawn frontman too, exuding charisma without even trying. He mumbled lyrics, he snarled lines with languorous insouciance, coolness personified. 

And what The Strokes sang about was equally relatable. Most of the songs on “Is This It” are simple tales of late night debauchery, of being young and alive in the big city. Drugs and alcohol, sex and partying; it was simplistic song writing but it hit the right notes. Everything about The Strokes’s music was aspirational, provoking yearning on the listener’s part to be living the life of Casablancas and co. 

It was both instantly recognizable as The Strokes and something totally different. When Julian Casablancas exclaims “I want to be forgotten,” the fact of the matter is had “Room on Fire” been a stinker, it might have been easy to dismiss the band and the debut’s place in history. “What Ever Happened?” ensured that they would not be forgotten and cemented the band’s career.

Throughout the 2000s, New York quintet The Strokes were considered the kings of post-punk revival. Drawing from artists like The Doors, Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam, Bob Marley, and most notably, The Velvet Underground, their charming indie/garage rock raucousness was virtually everywhere for several years. Of course, it all started when they inspired their own set of peers and protégées — including LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, and Kings of Leon — while skyrocketing into critical and commercial favour with 2001’s debut LP, “Is This It”, which  is among “The Top 100 Albums of the Decade” .

Valensi and Hammond Jr. were frightening prospects on guitar, duelling with ferocious abandon. Moretti provided an unceasingly solid – and quintessentially garage base on drums that drove tracks forward. Fraiture’s deceptively melodic bass lines complemented Casablancas’s nonchalant drawl. Is This It was purposefully produced to capture the spirit of the band’s live performances and the record sounds raw without losing any semblance of quality.

Although 2003’s Room on Fire and 2005’s First Impressions of Earth weren’t as widely celebrated by the press — due mainly to a perceived lack of newness and a penchant for safe song writing they were generally welcomed by fans. Plus, they did equally well on the UK Albums Chart as that first effort . Thus, it came as quite a surprise when the band announced that they were going on a hiatus following the 2006 tour for First Impressions of Earth. For the next three years or so, they worked on solo projects and other things, waiting until around March 2009 to officially announce that they were writing new material for their fourth album.

None of their following five albums have come close to matching the quality of their debut but this says more about the quality of that record more than anything. The Strokes didn’t save guitar music with “Is This It”  they just reminded us how good rock could be.

Unsurprisingly, then, expectations were particularly elevated for The Strokes’ return, as they sought to retain their beloved qualities while also pushing their sound further than ever. Indeed, “Angles” released exactly two years later, on March 18th, 2011, via RCA Records — did precisely that, striking a very likable and commendable balance between familiar techniques and surprising experimentation. Although the finished collection was applauded for its reinvigorating cohesion and adventurous asides, the process of getting there was anything but easy, resulting in a textbook example of creators greatly yet beneficially suffering for their art.

The Strokes

george harrison all things must pass

George Harrison’s landmark solo album, “All Things Must Pass”, recorded and released in the wake of The Beatles’ April 1970 dissolution, is receiving a suite of 50th anniversary releases that fulfills Harrison’s long time desire. The original, the first-ever triple studio album, was produced by Harrison and Phil Spector and released in November 1970. The original collection, featuring such classic songs as “My Sweet Lord,” “Isn’t It a Pity,” “What is Life” and “Awaiting on You All” among its 23 tracks, was an epic, ambitious expression of Harrison’s song writing, powerful spirituality and a celebration of both his inimitable individuality and unique camaraderie with his fellow musicians.

The new editions, announced June 10th, 2021, offer a wealth of previously unreleased material in a variety of formats that include an aptly named Uber Deluxe Edition. (Listen to several of them below including “Cosmic Empire,” released on July 9th.) The new collections arrive August 6th, via Capitol/UMe. It becomes the latest release from The Beatles collectively and individually to receive such a grand treatment.

Harrison brought together a stunning roster of friends and fellow musicians to record “All Things Must Pass”, including Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann and Billy Preston, along with Eric Clapton and his new American bandmates, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, and Jim Gordon (soon to be known collectively as Derek and the Dominos). Badfinger’s Pete Ham, Tom Evans, Joey Molland and Mike Gibbons contributed additional acoustics and percussion. Spector’s desire for multiple pianos, layers of acoustic guitars and more drums saw the addition of Peter Frampton and Jerry Shirley from Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth’s Gary Wright, Plastic Ono Band veteran and future Yes drummer Alan White, Traffic’s Dave Mason, Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker and the in-demand horn section of Bobby Keys and Jim Price. Pete Drake, legendary Nashville session musician, provided pedal steel guitar on several tracks. Arrangements for strings and horns came from long time collaborator John Barham.

All Things Must Pass was an overdue artistic release for Harrison as a songwriter and musician. It overflows with a voluminous range of ideas, musical styles and influences, spanning rock ’n’ roll, country, gospel, blues, pop, folk, R&B, Indian classical music and devotional songs. Despite the album being wildly successful and Harrison’s affection for it, he would write in the liner notes for the 30th anniversary remaster, released in 2001, “I still like the songs on the album and believe they can continue to outlive the style in which they were recorded,” adding, however, “it was difficult to resist re-mixing every track. All these years later I would like to liberate some of the songs from the big production that seemed appropriate at the time.”

It wasn’t his first solo album—he’d already released the synth experiment Electronic Sound and the Wonderwall soundtrack. But this is where he found his voice and took it to an epic scale. Even in the tossed-off jams or folkie dirges, you can hear his fierce determination not to get trapped in the past. In May 1970, when he first cut demos for the album, it was still an open question whether the Beatles were over, and George was the one taking the high road. “I think there may be what you’d term a little bitchiness,” George said diplomatically in an April 1970 radio interview. “It’s just being bitchy to each other. Childish. Childish.”

He had good reason to feel confident. The world was still in shock from “Abbey Road“, the Beatles’s biggest album yet, where he stole the show with “Something” and “Here Comes The Sun.” As John admitted in NME, “George has got songs he’s been trying to get on our records since 1920. He’s got to make an album.” 

The first day of demos was George at Abbey Road, backed by two trusted old friends—Ringo on drums and Klaus Voorman on bass. They banged out 30 songs that day; the next day he did 15 more solo acoustic demos for producer Phil Spector. The demos are full of major songs, many of which would have fit perfectly on the album. “Nowhere to Go,” cowritten with his friend Bob Dylan in 1968, lays out his disenchantment with the rock-star hustle.  “I get tired of being Beatle Jeff / Talking to the deaf,” he complains, in his poetic sneer. “I get tired of being Beatle Ted / Talking to the dead / Every time some bobby’s getting blown.”

There’s a wonderfully snide outtake of “Isn’t It A Pity” where he sings, “Isn’t it so shitty / Isn’t it a pain / How we do so many takes / And now we’re doing it again.” There’s also an early take on “Beware of Darkness” where he sings “Beware of ABKCO,” a dig at the Beatles’ new management, perhaps already showing a degree of disenchantment with Allen Klein.

Decades in the making and lovingly crafted by the Harrison family, All Things Must Pass has now been completely remixed from the original tapes. Executive produced by Dhani Harrison, product produced by David Zonshine and mixed by triple GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon), the new mix transforms the album by sonically upgrading it–making it sound brighter, fuller and better than ever before.

Super Deluxe Edition

The 5-CD + 1-Blu-ray Super Deluxe Edition

The boxed set, presented on 8 LP’s (180g) or 5 Cd’s adding 1 Blu Ray audio disc, explores the 1970 album sessions through 47 (42 previously unreleased) demos and outtakes. The Blu-ray allows fans to experience the main album in high-res stereo, enveloping 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos mixes. The collection contains a beautiful 60-page scrapbook curated by Olivia Harrison, with unseen imagery and memorabilia from the era, handwritten lyrics, diary entries, studio notes, tape box images, a comprehensive track-by-track and more. It also includes a replica of the original album poster.

Uber Deluxe Edition

The Uber Deluxe Edition

Available via GeorgeHarrison.com, this very limited boxed set includes the album on 8 LPs (180g), 5 CDs + 1 Blu-ray audio disc housed in an artisan designed wooden crate (approx. 12.4” X 12.4” X 17.5”). The collection explores the 1970 album sessions through 47 (42 previously unreleased) demos and outtakes, offering an inside look into the creative process. The Blu-ray allows fans to experience the main album in high-res stereo, enveloping 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos mixes.

The crate contains two books, an elaborate and expanded 96-page scrapbook curated by Olivia Harrison, with unseen imagery and memorabilia from the era, handwritten lyrics, diary entries, studio notes, tape box images, a comprehensive track-by-track and more; while a second 44-page book chronicling the making of All Things Must Pass through extensive archival interviews with notes is also contained therein. The elegantly designed book pays homage to Harrison’s love of gardening and nature. The book also contains a wooden bookmark made from a felled oak tree (Quercus Robur) in George’s Friar Park. This truly unique box will also contain 1/6 scale replica figurines of Harrison and the gnomes featured on the iconic album cover, a limited-edition illustration by musician and artist Klaus Voormann, as well as a copy of Paramahansa Yogananda’s “Light from the Great Ones” and Rudraksha beads, contained in individual custom-made boxes.

All Things Must Pass” will also be released in multiple physical and digital configurations, including as a 5-LP or 3-CD Deluxe Edition that pairs the main album with the sessions outtakes and jams. The main album will be available on its own as 2 Cd’s, 3 LP’s or limited edition 3-LP coloured vinyl.

In the June 10th announcement, Dhani Harrison said, “Since the 50th anniversary stereo mix release of the title track to my father’s legendary All Things Must Pass album in [November] 2020, my dear pal Paul Hicks and I have continued to dig through mountains of tapes to restore and present the rest of this newly remixed and expanded edition of the album you now see and hear before you. Bringing greater sonic clarity to this record was always one of my father’s wishes and it was something we were working on together right up until he passed in 2001. Now, 20 years later, with the help of new technology and the extensive work of Paul Hicks we have realized this wish and present to you this very special 50th Anniversary release of perhaps his greatest work of art. Every wish will be fulfilled.”

The All Things Must Pass sessions began just six weeks after the April 1970 announcement of The Beatles’ break-up. Two days were spent recording 30 demos in Studio Three at EMI Studios, Abbey Road in St. John’s Wood, London. The first day, May 26, saw Harrison record 15 songs backed by Ringo Starr and Harrison’s longtime friend, bassist Klaus Voormann, beginning with “All Things Must Pass.” The next day, May 27th, Harrison played an additional 15 songs for co-producer Phil Spector. The All Things Must Pass Uber and Super Deluxe Editions collect all 30 of these demo recordings, including 26 tracks never before officially released and several songs that didn’t make the album, like “Cosmic Empire,” “Going Down to Golders Green,” “Dehra Dun,” “Sour Milk Sea,” “Beautiful Girl,” “Nowhere to Go,” and “Mother Divine.”

But the overall vibe of the music is sheer excitement. The demos include stripped down versions of “What Is Life (even better than the final album  version) and “All Things Must Pass,” with just George and his acoustic guitar. He digs into country blues with “Woman Don’t You Cry For Me.” The original album has never sounded better, with classics like “My Sweet Lord,” “Wah-Wah,” and his benevolently affectionate love song to the Beatles’ girl fans, “Apple Scruffs.” Here’s an exclusive tour of the 10 most revelatory moments on “All Things Must Pass: 50th Anniversary Edition“.

“Isn’t It A Pity (Take 27)”

This stately hymn was written back in 1966, but it became the centerpiece of All Things Must Pass, and arguably his greatest solo moment ever. This outtake is more tranquil and serene than the more grand versions on the album. 

“Sour Milk Sea”

A great spiritual rocker that he demoed for the White Album—it really should have made the cut instead of “Piggies.” Harrison never released the song himself, choosing to donate it to his old pal Jackie Lomax, who turned it into a U.K. hit. This version is the closest we’ve got to a definitive Harrison version, just him and his acoustic guitar, with a bluesy edge. 

“Nowhere To Go”

A song writing collaboration with Bob Dylan, dating back to 1968. You can hear his seething anger as he rails against the strictures of celebrity life, with echoes of his 1969 drug bust when he sings, “I get tired of policemen on the prowl / Picking in my bowel / Every time somebody’s getting high.”

“Om Hare Om (Kopala Krishna)”

This guitar meditation not only should have made the original album—it would have been one of the highlights. Harrison writes his own Indian hymn, chanting the names of the Lord, but his acoustic guitar has a deeply Celtic drone. Not far at all from what bands like the Velvet Underground or Fairport Convention were trying at the time.

“Cosmic Empire”

Another acoustic demo that would made a top-tier song on the album. It’s that’s a surprisingly upbeat spiritual ditty, with Harrison singing, “I’m waiting in the queue to go the cosmic empire / I want a front-row pew at the cosmic empire.

Five decades after it was recorded, “Cosmic Empire” now sees the light of day and features Harrison performing the song on acoustic guitar on the second day of recording.

“Get Back”

“Take it, Jojo!” George yells in this surprisingly joyful bash at a song from his former band, full of affection for both the song and the lads. During the solo, he calls out to long time aide-de-camp Mal Evans with a request: “Mal, get a mop and another glass of orange juice!”

“I Don’t Want To Do It” 

George opened the original album with a Dylan song, “I’d Have You Any Time,” and also covered “If Not For You.” This would have been the album’s third Dylan tune, a song full of regret (“I don’t want to do it / I don’t want to say goodbye”) that might have hit too close to home in the disintegration of the Beatles. George revisited the song years later to finally give it an official release—on the soundtrack for the 1985 teen-trash comedy Porky’s Revenge. The Eighties, man. 

“Beautiful Girl”

A disarmingly romantic folk tune, with a touch of Smokey Robinson in the melody and the intricate touch of his own songs from Rubber Soul. It’s still a work in progress, which is probably why he salted it away for his 1976 solo album Thirty Three and a Third—it took his wife Olivia to inspire him to finish it. (The album had another great Robinson tribute, “Pure Smokey.”)

“Dehra Dhun”

“Many roads can take you there, many different ways,” George sings in this light-hearted spiritual chant. “One direction takes you years / Another takes you days.” It was inspired by India—Dhera Dhun is near the Maharishi’s base in Rishikesh—as George likens pilgrims to “beggars in a gold mine.”

“Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine”

One of the most comic moments in the whole box: George steps out with this jaunty version of an old standard from the 1920s. The song must have hit home for him at the time, given the Beatles’ split. (It also haunted John, who quoted it in his “Lennon Remembers” interview in Rolling Stone, and Paul, who played it in the Anthology.) You can hear his affection for people and things that went before. But there’s no sadness in it. He’s a new man, ready to face the future, making the most confident music of his life.

Harrison had been stockpiling material for nearly half a decade, with a number of songs – including “Isn’t It A Pity” and the title track – rehearsed with, but not recorded by, The Beatles. Further songs evinced Harrison’s growing frustration over those preceding years, including “Wah-Wah,” “Beware of Darkness” and “Run of the Mill,” the latter named by both George and Olivia Harrison as one of their all-time favourites.

Written by Harrison while producing Billy Preston’s 1969 Apple Records solo debut but saved for his own album a year later, the glorious “What Is Life” highlights the artist at his most exultant.

An anthem weaving a chant of the Hare Krishna mantra and “hallelujah,” “My Sweet Lord” proved a worldwide smash upon its November 1970 single release, making history as the first solo single by a former Beatle to reach #1 in the U.K. or the U.S.

Harrison’s close friendship with Bob Dylan begat two songs: the album-opening “I’d Have You Anytime” was co-written with Dylan, while the classic “If Not For You” was at the time an unreleased Dylan composition. The Super Deluxe Edition includes previously unreleased demo recordings of both songs as well as “Nowhere to Go” and “I Don’t Want to Do It,” another original Dylan song later recorded by Harrison for a 1985 soundtrack but remains unrecorded by Dylan himself.

The original release of All Things Must Pass collected 18 songs over two LPs alongside a third LP – dubbed “Apple Jam” – showcasing four improvised instrumentals including a pair recorded as part of Derek and the Dominos’ first ever official recording session in June 1970. In addition, the “Apple Jam” disc includes “It’s Johnny’s Birthday,” sung to the tune of Cliff Richard’s 1968 hit “Congratulations” and recorded as a gift from Harrison to mark John Lennon’s 30th birthday.

The All Things Must Pass session tapes created in 1970 include over t25 hours of music on 49 1” eight-track tapes, four 2” 16-track tapes, and 44 ¼” stereo tapes. Richard Radford, Archivist for the George Harrison Estate, oversaw the preservation of the tape collection, with the original analogue multi-track and stereo tapes transferred to 192 KHz/24bit digital preservation copies.

The original album was met by unanimous critical acclaim and spectacular commercial success, spending seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart and eight weeks atop the U.K.’s official albums chart (though chart records until 2006 mistakenly stated that it had peaked at #4). Currently certified 6x Platinum by the RIAA, All Things Must Pass later received a 1972 GRAMMY® Award nomination for Album of the Year, while “My Sweet Lord” earned a GRAMMY® nod for Record of the Year.

george harrison all the thing must pass
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Musical superstar Kelsy Karter, who was born in New Zealand, previously lived in L.A. and has now found home in the UK, has followed up from her angsty yet soulful “Missing Person” album release, with a special covers EP.

Created during the pandemic Live From Nowhere, out now, was recorded with The Struts‘ guitarist Adam Slack and features covers from Green DayYungbludMiley CyrusBillie EilishLiam Gallagher and Elton John, showing Karter’s broad appreciation for great music. Each cover is truly stunning and if you’ve listened to Karter’s back catalogue you’ll soon be thinking the same as us – is there anything she can’t do? (and we’re not just referring to her talented skills in directing her own music videos!).

On “Live From Nowhere”, Kelsy brings a fresh perspective and her signature mesmerizing vocals to some of her favourite songs, including “All You’re Dreaming Of” by Liam Gallagher, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John, “My Future” by Billie Eilish, “Mars” by Yungblud, and “Angels Like You” by Miley Cyrus.

Her live performance of “My Future” that she turned the song “into a grittier guitar-heavy track that slows things down a bit with smokey, soulful vocals.” The idea to do an EP of covers came to Kelsy during the pandemic. “I moved to England in November, and the massive change put me through a pretty dark couple of months. I rarely just sit down and listen to music, so I did, and these are a few songs that helped me through the silence.”

Live From Nowhere is Kelsy’s latest project since the release of her debut album, “Missing Person”, last fall. Rolling Stone wrote that the album is “a fun ride that explores both the struggle and joy of being a woman in what’s long been viewed as a man’s world; it also touches on the heartbreak-induced degeneracy that can precede finding new love and self-acceptance.” Already back in the studio, Kelsy is gearing up to release more new music later this year.

Kelsy Karter’sLive from Nowhere” EP out now

STEVIE NICKS – ” The Albums “

Posted: July 31, 2021 in MUSIC
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Stevie Nicks first came to prominence when she teamed with Lindsey Buckingham, with whom she recorded the 1973 Buckingham Nicks album, which in turn led directly to the duo joining the ranks of Fleetwood Mac. Nicks kicked off her solo career with the release of 1981’s “Bella Donna” an album remembered as much for its collaborations – including “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” credited to Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and “Leather and Lace,” a duet with Don Henley – but the swirling songstress quickly proved that she could produce memorable music all by herself. A double Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Stevie Nicks’ career is littered with moments of artistic virtuosity and commercial reward. A supreme songwriter and a naturally gifted vocalist, Nicks found fame as an integral part of Fleetwood Mac’s resurgence. Having joined the band in 1975, as many of its members began fleeing the swinging scene for pastures new, Nicks was not initially considered for a role in the band and was only truly given an audition thanks to Lindsey Buckingham’s insistence.

 She is known for her distinctive voice, mystical stage persona and poetic, symbolic lyrics.  “When we’d do an album, they’d hear fifteen of my songs and invariably pick the two that were my least favourite,” she complained. “Some of my favourite songs wouldn’t get used.” The chance for the singer’s break out came in 1981, following some of the band’s most tumultuous years, when Nicks decided to release her first solo record: “Bella Donna“.

Of course, for an artist who had spent her entire career working alongside at least one other musician, the thought of going it completely alone was a distressing one. Nicks may well be incredibly talented but she has never been emboldened by her own confidence. A noted sufferer of stage fright, Nicks would rely on two men for help putting out her solo album, Jimmy Iovine and Tom Petty.

‘Street Angel’ (1994)

Nothing was going right for Stevie Nicks, personally (she was trying to kick an addiction of painkillers) or professionally (this album stalled at No. 45, and produced no hit singles). Street Angel was actually troubled from the start, as Nicks battled with original producer Glyn Johns. She ultimately decided to do a stint in rehab, which got her life back on track, then attempted – but ultimately failed – to get Street Angel back on track with second producer Thom Panunzio

After years of addiction, weight gain and exhaustion, Nicks fully detoxed in 1993 and ended her ties to Klonopin. The next year she released Street Angel, another solo album. As her health improved and she regained energy, Stevie returned to the studio to record new songs for multiple soundtracks.

“Blue Denim” Although it served as the lead-off track for Nicks’ first solo album since her departure from Fleetwood Mac, “Blue Denim” – a co-write with Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers – failed to secure the first-single nod. After “Maybe Love Will Change Your Mind” peaked at a relatively unimpressive No. 42, “Blue Denim” got its shot at glory, but despite its insistent guitar riff and radio-friendly hook, it failed to chart in any capacity, making it somewhat of a rarity among Nicks’ songs released as singles.

‘Trouble in Shangri-La’ (Stevie Nicks, 2001)

Nicks had spent years trying to come to terms with the “Street Angel” debacle when two things broke the creative logjam: some important words of encouragement from old friend and musical collaborator Tom Petty, and a surprise Fleetwood Mac reunion. Nicks wrote some of the transitional “Trouble in Shangri-La” while out on tour with her old bandmates, then completed the album with choice new originals and some music from the underrated Buckingham/Nicks era.

Nicks had begun writing actively for ‘Trouble in Shangri-La’ in 1994 and 1995 as she came out of her Klonopin dependency, According to her, friend and former musical partner Tom Petty was responsible for convincing her to write music again when he rebuffed her request that he write a song with her. She resumed recording songs for the Trouble in Shangri-La album with Sheryl Crow, who produced and performed on several tracks.

It didn’t add up to her best work, but Nicks finally got back on track.

“Planets of the Universe” Originally composed during the period when Fleetwood Mac were working on “Rumours” (a demo of the song can be found on the expanded version of the album), Nicks wrote “Planets of the Universe” about her disintegrating relationship with Buckingham. Revisiting the song in 2001, Nicks excised one of the more bitter verses and, with the help of producer John Shanks and remixer Tracy Young, took the track to the top of Billboard’s Hot Dance Music / Club Play chart.

‘The Other Side of the Mirror’ (Stevie Nicks, 1989)

Following the tour for The Wild Heart, Nicks commenced work on her third solo album. Originally titled Mirror Mirror, Nicks recorded songs for the album during 1984. However, Nicks was unhappy with the album, and opted to record a new batch of songs in 1985. “Rock A Little” as it was retitled, was released November 18th, 1985, to commercial success, supported by three successful singles. Nicks toured for Rock a Little until October 1986,

Nicks exited the ’80s on another commercial high note. It’s interesting because “The Other Side of the Mirror” often rejects her typically twirly, mystical persona. Instead, Nicks – who was on the cusp of a debilitating battle with the prescribed tranquilizer Klonopin – has never sounded more haunted. (“Ghosts,” for instance, focuses on mistakes from the “past that you live in” and a “future you are frightened of.”) Not all of it works, beginning with the synthy production and definitely including a reggae version of Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone.” Still, The Other Side of the Mirror became Nicks fourth consecutive platinum-selling album of the decade on the strength of the Top 20 hit “Rooms on Fire.”

The first single from 1989’s “The Other Side Of The Mirror” Nicks revealed in the Timespace liner notes that ‘Rooms on Fire’ was inspired by her short-lived romantic dalliance with producer/musician Rupert Hine, who helmed the album. Although the song topped Billboard’s Album Rock Tracks chart and made it to No. 16 on both the Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary Singles chart, Nicks dropped the song from her live sets in the ’90s and – based on the set lists available online, anyway – does not appear to have revisited it in a live setting since.

‘Rock a Little’ (Stevie Nicks, 1985)

She actually does rock a little. But the principal focus on this third solo album was solidifying Nicks’ spot as a pop star in her own right. It worked. The lead single “Talk to Me” went to No. 4, and “I Can’t Wait” reached No. 16. The album also produced “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?,” which became a regular concert encore, and key deep cuts like the zippy “I Can’t Wait” and beautifully wistful “Some Become Strangers.” Nicks voice, however, seemed to deepen all at once and that made some of her tics at the microphone more obvious. The studio gloss was starting to pile up too, as a gang of producers began trying every ’80s-era trick in the book.

“Talk to Me” The first single from “Rock A Little”, “Talk to Me” was a composition by Chas Sanford, co-writer of the John Waite classic “Missing You” and later Chicago’s “What Kind of Man Would I Be?” Although Nicks struggled to nail the vocals to producer Jimmy Iovine’s satisfaction, she eventually pulled them off successfully, thanks to the encouragement of Jim Keltner, who offered to stick around and provide moral support while she recorded the song. (Yes, this story comes from the Timespace liner notes, too. They provide a wealth of background about your favourite Nicks songs.)

According to the 1991 best-of collection Timespace, “I Can’t Wait” was recorded in a single take, with Nicks writing in her liner notes. “Some vocals are magic and simply not able to beat,” Her recollections of the song’s video, however, are decidedly less positive: in I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, by Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks, a chagrined Nicks admits, “I look at that video, I look at my eyes, and I say to myself, ‘Could you have laid off the pot, the coke, and the tequila for three days, so you could have looked a little better’?”

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‘In Your Dreams’ (Stevie Nicks, 2011)

Dave Stewart helped Stevie Nicks find herself again. They wrote, with ink on a page – and they recorded at her house, in the manner of her best moments with Fleetwood Mac. In Your Dreams ended up turning on the rediscovery of an unfinished 1980 song called “Secret Love” that appeared on the internet before it ever got properly recorded. Nicks became determined not to just rekindle the feeling of her best days, but to bring that feeling — and that sound — into a new space for a new generation. The result is her most adventurous album. The success of her “Secret Love” reclamation project also led Nicks to dig still deeper into the vault.

’24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault’ (Stevie Nicks, 2014)

Filched copies of poorly recorded sessions work initially inspired 24 Karat Gold, which found Nicks — as the title suggests returning to officially unreleased songs for inspiration. She was born anew. “Twisted,” which had taken a suitably circuitous route, was one of several tracks that finally found their true voice. Then there were moments like “Lady.” A starkly emotional piano-driven ballad known to her deepest fans as the demo “Knockin’ on Doors,” it made clear that Nicks had hidden for too long behind effects — be they electronic, sartorial or otherwise. Stripped of artifice, Nicks connected on an elemental level that she simply couldn’t while swaddled in synths or shawls.

‘The Wild Heart’ (Stevie Nicks, 1983)

Nicks released her second solo album, “The Wild Heart” on June 10th, 1983. The album went double platinum, reached number five on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and featured three hit singles. It also introduced songwriter and performer Sandy Stewart as co-writer and vocalist.

Nicks’ double-platinum second solo album featured an appropriately named song: “Nothing Ever Changes.” She played to her strengths on “The Wild Heart” – and, in keeping with her status as one of the ’80s’ biggest stars, sold millions. If there’s a complaint to be made, it’s that so many of the songs were determinedly radio-ready, without the quirky mannerisms that often surrounded her work with Fleetwood Mac. In keeping, “Stand Back” this project’s biggest hit and biggest risk felt like a bolt out of the blue. The song was so inventive that it made everything else – even the underrated “If Anyone Falls,” a moody synth-driven cut that explores the emotions surrounding an unrequited love sound a little pedestrian.

“Nightbird” The last of the three singles from “The Wild Heart” may not have managed to crack the Top 20, stalling at the No. 33 position, but Nicks has nonetheless described the song one of three tracks on the album which she co-wrote with her friend Sandy Stewart as her favourite track on the album. In addition, “Nightbird” is also directly responsible for inspiring the name of the self-described “Premiere Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks Tribute,” but try not to hold that against the song.

“Standback” is arguably her most recognizable solo single, a status aided immeasurably by its regular inclusion in Fleetwood Mac’s sets as well as remaining a staple of her own shows, Nicks premiered “Stand Back” during her performance at the US Festival in 1983, prefacing it with a giddy (yet sadly unfulfilled) vow to hand-deliver copies of the yet-to-be-released The Wild Heart to everyone in the audience, “sort of like Girl Scout Cookies.” Even without Nicks making good on her promise, however, both the single and the album made it to No. 5 on their respective Billboard charts.

“If Anyone Falls” Another Nicks / Sandy Stewart co-write, the second single from The Wild Heart was a song of unrequited love, with Nicks observing how, no matter how good or bad a relationship goes, the feelings continue to exist “somewhere in the twilight dreamtime / somewhere in the back of your mind.” Although it didn’t match the success of its predecessor (“Stand Back”), “If Anyone Falls” still pulled a highly respectable No. 14 placement on Billboard’s Hot 100.

‘Bella Donna’ (Stevie Nicks, 1981)

With nearly two dozen collaborators, you had to wonder if Stevie Nicks would get lost on the four-times-platinum “Bella Donna“. Instead, she acts as a sort of witchy-woman conductor for her songs, leading a strikingly talented crew through their paces on a tour-de-force solo debut. She wrote or co-wrote all but one of the tracks, save for the No. 3 Tom Petty collaboration “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” during a period of remarkable productivity. Then Petty’s producer Jimmy Iovine gave Nicks a spacious, rootsy space to flourish. “Leather and Lace,” a duet with Don Henley, went to No. 6, before her career-defining “Edge of Seventeen” finished at No. 11. The result wasn’t just the best solo debut of any member of her band; it was one of the best first albums of the ’80s.

Bella Donna introduced Nicks’ permanent back-up singers, Sharon Celani and Lori Perry (now Nicks), who have contributed vocals to all of Nicks’ solo albums since.

Given that it was Nicks’ designated entry in our list of the classic rock songs, “Edge of Seventeen,” the third single from Bella Donna (but the first to be credited solely to her alone), was always destined to land atop the list of the greatest Stevie Nicks songs, but it’s a placement that’s hard to argue: any song that can survive being covered by Lindsay Lohan and having Waddy Wachtel’s famous guitar riff sampled by Destiny’s Child (“Bootylicious”) yet still come out with its reputation unscathed has more than earned its placement in the top spot.

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The fourth and final single to be released from Nicks’ 1981 solo debut, the country-tinged is “After the Glitter Fades” listed in the album credits with a copyright date of 1975, but Nicks has indicated on several occasions that it was actually written a few years earlier, placing its composition date in the 1972-73 range. As such, she and Lindsey Buckingham hadn’t yet joined the ranks of Fleetwood Mac, making the lyrics about how “what I seem to touch these days / Has turned to gold” decidedly prophetic.

“This song was written about my boyfriend’s mother who was involved with a man in Chile during the coup that happened there in 1973,” she explained. “The man she loved was banished to France. Banished – or imprisoned, that was the choice. The love story never really ended, but she never saw him again. I was so touched by this story of lost love that I wrote ‘Bella Donna.’”

Nicks revealed that the moment she finished the song was the moment she knew she had the basis for her first solo record, which she believed in “from the bottom of my heart.” The story of her boyfriend’s mother changed the way she looked at love, a concept she would explore later throughout her first album. “It defined how I would feel about love forever,” she said of “Bella Donna.” “It broke my heart and gave me the strength to fight for it.”

The album is so important to Nicks’ career. Yes, vocally the album perhaps catches some of Nicks’ finest performances. From a song writing point of view, it’s equally hard not to see Nicks in the prime of her life for penmanship. But it was the expression behind the songs that really made this album worthwhile. It was the feeling of pent up tension exposed to vibrant and gratifying freedom and allowed the artist beneath to truly be seen perhaps for the first time. Nicks would release seven studio albums on her own while still being able to work as a pivotal member of Fleetwood Mac.

Standback 1981-2017 

Music from all eight of Nicks’ studio albums are included in the set, from Top 10 hits like “Stand Back” and “Talk To Me” to “The Dealer” from her latest, 2014’s “24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault”. Those solo tracks are joined by Nicks’ memorable collaborations with other artists, including “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “Leather And Lace” with Don Henley, “You’re Not The One” with Sheryl Crow, and “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” with Lana Del Rey.  “Stand Back” also explores her career on stage with outstanding live recordings, including performances from her 1981 Bella Donna tour (“Dreams” and “Rhiannon”), and her 2009 live album The Soundstage Sessions (“Sara” and a cover of Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash Into Me.”) Rounding out the collection are several of her contributions to film soundtracks, like “Blue Lamp” from Heavy Metal and “If You Ever Did Believe” from Practical Magic.

“Stand Back: 1981-2017” was the fourth compilation from Stevie Nicks. What sets this set apart from the previous releases is it expands the years covered obviously, but also includes several songs that have never appeared on a Stevie album previously.

The first disc contains 17 of Stevie’s singles from each of her seven studio albums. Yes, there are a few missing, her new tracks from her 1991 compilation “TimeSpace” and more glaringly 1989’s “Whole Lotta Trouble”. But aside from that all of the big hits are here.

Disc two features 18 tracks, each one a collaboration of some type, be it a duet or a prominent backing vocalist. This is the gem disc of the set in my opinion. More than half of the tracks on disc two have never appeared on a Stevie compilation before, and seven of those tracks have never appeared on a Stevie album period. In the case of “Golden” with Lady Antebellum the track has only appeared as a digital single and “You’re Not The One” with Sheryl Crow was a b-side to Sheryl’s 2002 track “Soak Up The Sun”. Other tracks such as “Borrowed” with LeAnn Rimes, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” with Chris Isaac and “Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems” with Lana Del Rey appeared on the respective artists albums. Stevie has contributed to many other artists albums since 1976 and a complete compilation could be made just of those tracks.

The third disc is something of a time machine featuring various Live tracks from throughout the years. The highlight of these tracks is the Tom Petty collaboration “Needles & Pins” from his 1985 “Pack Up The Plantation Live” album, although the song dates back to 1981. The disc closes out with a handful of Stevie’s soundtrack contributions. The final track being “Your Hand I Will Never Let It Go” from the 2017 film “Book Of Henry”. This is one of the songs that most casual fans and even some die hards may be unaware of. Each of Stevie’s compilation albums offer something different for fans. “TimeSpace” from 1991 was her first comp and featured remixed versions of her previous hits and three newly recorded tracks. 1998’s “Enchanted” gave us the hits, collaborations and unreleased tracks. It also is the only set to include a “Buckingham Nicks” track. 2007’s “Crystal Visions” brought lost of hits up to date as well as previously unreleased live tracks. And now “Stand Back 1981-2017” covers much of the same ground, but also includes tracks unique to this set.
The set has been released to commemorate Stevie’s solo induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. This set proves that she is much more than just a member of Fleetwood Mac.

But with touring on hold, she’s bored and depressed, this pandemic has hit her so hard. Two projects were due out she says, offered a vestige of normalcy: “24 Karat Gold: The Concert,” a cinematic version of her 2017 solo show, and a politically minded new single, “Show Them the Way,” which will be accompanied by a Cameron Crowe-directed music video.

The show emphasizes Nicks’ solo career MTV standards like “Stop Draggin My Heart Around”, “Stand Back” and “Edge Of Seventeen”. Performing music from her “dark, gothic trunk of lost songs,” she tells the audience, makes her feel like she’s a 20-year-old embarking on a new career. “This is not the same Stevie Nicks show you’ve seen a million times,” she explains, “because I am different.”

“This is the show where you get to meet this girl, finally,” says guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who served as the tour’s musical director and has known Nicks since 1970. “She can relax and work her own rhythm. It’s a joy to see her get into her own songs instead of fighting to get her due in a band where there are three really strong songwriters.”

On the road, Wachtel says, Nicks travels via private plane because she has declared herself too old for tour buses. She loves lavish hotel rooms with pianos, a perk Wachtel thinks she’s earned: “She doesn’t have a husband. She doesn’t have a boyfriend. She wants a good room to be able to play her music as loud as she wants.”

She’s also decided that she wants to make another solo album and plans to spend the rest of quarantine turning the poetry from her journals into lyrics.

 The Albums

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How prolific of a songwriter was Stevie Nicks in the ’70s and early ’80s? Not only did she pen multiple Fleetwood Mac hits – “Rhiannon,” “Dreams,” “Sara” and “Gypsy,” to name a few – but she also found time to write and record a hit solo album, 1981’s “Bella Donna”.

Stevie Nicks’ first two solo albums  “Bella Donna” and “The Wild Heart” reissued via Rhino Records. Each deluxe release will feature not only the original LP but rarities and bonus tracks, like the previously unreleased demo of her solo debut’s title track, streaming below. Stripped of its backing vocals as well as the raucous live band and synthesizers featured on the original album version, Nicks’ demo is a tender, intimate take on the song. She sings softly above just the piano track, nearly whispering “Bella donna, my soul” and barely reaching the full-throated belt she unleashes on the 1981 recording.

The Legendary Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks joined producer Jimmy Iovine to begin recording her solo debut, “Bella Donna”, following the release of the Mac’s TUSK and its subsequent tour. Nicks’ 1981 collection was quickly certified platinum thanks to singles like “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), “Leather And Lace” (with Don Henley) and “Edge Of Seventeen.” Rhino’s triple-disc deluxe edition of the collection uncovers unreleased versions of the latter two classics as well as soundtrack rarities and a concert from 1981 that features performances of songs from the album along with several Fleetwood Mac favourites.

Ahead of Best Of “24 Karat Gold” solo tour, singer-songwriter talks set lists, “sex, rock & roll and drugs” songs, and more
Later this month and just before releasing the reissues, Nicks will embark on a solo tour with opening act the Pretenders. Nicks‘ tour is in support of her 2014 album 24K Gold, a collection of songs she had cut from her prior solo releases for various reasons. “These are the glory songs,” she told of her reason to follow a multi-year world tour with Fleetwood Mac with the solo dates. “These are the sex, rock & roll and drugs songs that I’m actually not really writing right now, and these are the songs I could never write again.”

The cover of “Bella Donna,” Stevie Nicks’s first solo album, shows the artist looking slender and wide-eyed, wearing a white gown, a gold bracelet, and a pair of ruched, knee-high platform boots. One arm is bent at an improbable angle; a sizable cockatoo sits on her hand. Behind her, next to a small crystal ball, is a tambourine threaded with three long-stemmed white roses. Nicks did not invent this storefront-psychic aesthetic—it is indebted, in varying degrees, to Hans Christian Andersen’s Thumbelina, de Troyes’s Guinevere, and Cher—but, beginning in the mid-nineteen-seventies, she came to embody it. The image was girlish and delicate, yet inscrutable, as if Nicks were suggesting that the world might not know everything she’s capable of.

While Nicks’s sartorial choices have been widely mimicked, it’s rare to hear echoes of her magnanimity in modern pop songs, which are frequently defensive and embattled, preaching self-sufficiency at any cost.  “Bella Donna,” from 1981, and Nicks’s second solo album, “The Wild Heart,” from 1983, are being reissued. Nicks was thirty-three when “Bella Donna” was released. Though its cover might not suggest an excess of reason, in its songs she is a sagacious and measured presence. Her acknowledgment of the heart’s capriciousness is gentle, if not grandmotherly. There’s surely no kinder summation of love’s petulance than the chorus of “Think About It,” a jangling folk song about taking a breath before hurling yourself off a metaphorical cliff. “And the heart says, ‘Danger!’ Nicks sings. She pauses briefly. “And the heart says, ‘Whatever.’ ” For anyone busy self-flagellating over an error in judgment, this can feel like a rope ladder thrown from above—an invitation to scramble up and out of despair. It is generous and knowing, and offers a clear-eyed conclusion: some things can’t be helped.

What does it mean to be Stevie Nicks? To understand loss and longing as being merely the cost of doing business? To acknowledge the bottomless nature of certain aches, yet to know, in some instinctive way, that you’ll keep going? Nicks evokes Byron, in spirit and in certitude: “The heart will break, but broken live on.”

Nicks was born in 1948, in Phoenix. Her paternal grandfather, A. J. Nicks, Sr., was a struggling country musician, and he taught Nicks how to sing when she was four years old. She was given an acoustic guitar for her sixteenth birthday, and immediately wrote a song called “I’ve Loved and I’ve Lost and I’m Sad but Not Blue.” The title is a surprisingly succinct encapsulation of Nicks’s lyrical alchemy: a combination of acceptance (I am hurting) and perspective (I will not hurt forever).

In 1966, when Nicks was in her senior year of high school and living in Atherton, California—her father, an executive at a meatpacking company, had been relocated there—she met the guitarist Lindsey Buckingham at a party. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor—bearded, curly-haired, and strumming the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’.” Uninvited, she joined him in harmony. (“How brazen!” she later said.) Buckingham asked Nicks to join his band, Fritz. By 1971, the two were romantically involved. They eventually took off for Los Angeles, where they tried to make it as a duo, called Buckingham Nicks, releasing one album, in 1973, to very little acclaim. Not long afterward, Buckingham was asked to join Fleetwood Mac, a British blues band featuring the singer and keyboard player Christine McVie, the bassist John McVie, and the drummer Mick Fleetwood; the group was being rebooted as an American soft-rock act. Buckingham insisted that Nicks be invited, too. She ended up writing two of the band’s biggest early hits, “Landslide” and “Rhiannon.”

Extraordinary success often leads to spiritual dissolution, and Fleetwood Mac had its share of psychic turmoil. In 1975, Fleetwood divorced his wife, the model Jenny Boyd, after she had an affair with one of his former bandmates. Nicks and Buckingham broke up the following year. Around the same time, John and Christine McVie’s marriage collapsed. There was an ungodly amount of brandy and cocaine on hand to help nullify the despair. Still, in 1977, Fleetwood Mac now five wild-eyed, newly single people—released “Rumours,” a collection of yearning songs about love and devotion. The record spent thirty-one weeks at the top of the charts, and is one of the best-selling albums in American history.

Nicks’s debt is to Laurel Canyon, and to the sentimental, silky-voiced artists who emerged from L.A. in the late sixties and early seventies. Some of those acts—James Taylor, the Eagles—are now considered, fairly or not, irrelevant to the Zeitgeist: too mellow, too affluent, too sexless, too white. Candles and incense and macramé plant hangers; wistful thoughts about weather. Nicks’s lyrics often worry over domestic or earthly concerns—gardens, mountains, flowers, the seasons—and how they might affect the whims of her heart. “It makes no difference at all / ’Cause I wear boots all summer long,” she sings in “Nightbird.” When compared with the dissonant and provocative music coming out of downtown New York, the California sound could seem limp. But the scene in Laurel Canyon was tumultuous. Many of its artists—including, at various times, Nicks—were wrecked by drug addiction. Nicks’s voice, a strange, quivering contralto, gives her songs unexpected weight.

“Bella Donna” was produced by Jimmy Iovine, a Brooklyn-born audio engineer who worked on Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and produced the Patti Smith Group’s “Easter” and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Damn the Torpedoes.” Iovine spent time in California, but his sensibility was tougher and more plainly that of the East Coast. He later became a co-founder of Interscope Records, where he helped to establish the career of the rapper Tupac Shakur, and, for a period, he oversaw the hip-hop label Death Row Records.

“Bella Donna” reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart, and produced four hit singles: “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” a duet with Petty; “Leather and Lace,” with Don Henley; “Edge of Seventeen”; and “After the Glitter Fades.” The last, a country song about the travails of stardom—Nicks wrote it just after she and Buckingham moved to Los Angeles, long before she had a record deal, showing either hubris or prescience—contains organ, pedal steel, and reassurances. “The dream keeps coming even when you forget to feel,” she sings.

Nicks, like most artists, culls inspiration from disparate sources. She is prone to saying things like “ ‘Edge of Seventeen’ was about Tom Petty and his wife, Jane, my uncle dying, and the assassination of John Lennon.” But her personal life—a tangle of love affairs, often with her collaborators—informs her work in explicit ways. “Heartbreak of the moment isn’t endless,” she sings, in “Think About It.” This might seem like a billowy platitude, but if you are someone who does not think that every flubbed decision is fodder for personal growth, it is comforting to hear someone assert that nearly all mistakes can be neutralized, if not conquered. If “Bella Donna” contains a single directive, it’s to love freely, love fully, and hang on. The songs Stevie Nicks left off her debut solo LP “Bella Donna”, You can hear why “Blue Lamp” didn’t end up on “Bella Donna” The song has a darker, rock-oriented vibe that’s quite different from the rest of the album. However, it’s one of Nicks’ finest solo songs, based on a “dark blue Tiffany lamp” from her mom that “symbolized to me the light that shines through the night,” as she told The Source in 1981.

“When Fleetwood Mac  we found them or they found us or whatever you know – it was a definite light at the end of the tunnel for both Lindsey Buckingham and I.” However, Nicks also saw the song represent new beginnings in her solo career. “It was very important that it found a place for itself,”.”I love that song. It was really the beginning of Bella Donna, because it was the first thing I’d ever recorded with other musicians, and it was the first time I’d ever recorded by standing in a room singing at the same time that five guys were playing. Fleetwood Mac doesn’t record that way. They record from a more technical standpoint.”
It seemed inevitable Nicks would have had a song on the “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” soundtrack – after all, her manager, Irving Azoff, co-produced the movie. However, “Sleeping Angel” was certainly no tossed-off leftover; in fact, it’s one of Nicks’ most gorgeous and emotional songs from the era.

Driven by elegiac piano from E.Streeter Roy Bittan and lush backing vocals from Lori Perry and Sharon Celani, Nicks defines the respect she needs in and from a relationship: “I need you because you let me breathe / Well, you’ve taken me away / But never take me lightly / Or I could never stay.”

Incredibly enough, Nicks never actually recorded “Gold and Braid” in the studio, although she played it live on early ’80s solo tours. In concert, it’s a barn-burning rocker that serves as a perfect contrast to Bella Donna’s folkier songs and hints at what it might have sounded like had Nicks followed through on her desire to join Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Nicks’ original demo for “24 Karat Gold” is piano-heavy and meditative, with almost stream-of-conscious vocals. The version that surfaced later on “24 Karat Gold” maintains the bones of her demo, the piano especially, but turns into a compact cautionary tale about ill-fated fame and love.

“‘Belle Fleur’ was about not being able to have a relationship because you were a rock ‘n’ roll star,” she said in 2015. Fittingly, one demo for the song is just piano and voice, featuring Nicks and her backing singers – a sisterhood of support that’s always been a through-line in Nicks’ work. “The [lyric] ‘When you come to the door of the long black car’ ,that’s the limousine that’s coming to take you away. Then your boyfriend is standing on the porch waving at you, like, ‘When are you going to be back?’ And you’re like, ‘I don’t know, maybe three months?’ But then we would add shows to a tour, and I could end up not being back for six months. It was difficult for the men in my life. I lived that song so many times.”

See the source imageIn 1981, Iovine flew with Nicks to the Château d’Hérouville, in northern France, where Fleetwood Mac was recording its next album, “Mirage.” Iovine left almost immediately, to escape the interpersonal conflicts that roiled the band. Iovine and Nicks’s relationship foundered. The following fall, while Fleetwood Mac was on tour, Nicks’s childhood friend Robin Anderson died, of leukemia, at the age of thirty-three. “What was left over was just a big, horrible, empty world,” Nicks has said. Days before her death, Anderson had prematurely given birth to a son. Nicks, operating under the savage logic of grief, married her friend’s widower, Kim Anderson, thinking that she would help raise the child. They divorced three months later.

By 1983, Nicks was ready to make another record. Her relationship with Iovine was strained, but Nicks asked him to produce the record anyway. “The Wild Heart” is inspired in part by the unravelling of that relationship, and in part by her mourning for Anderson. Nicks frequently cites as a guiding influence for the recording sessions the 1939 film adaptation of Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights,” which depicts an undying, almost fiendish love. Mostly, the songs are about bucking against the circumstances that separate us from the people we need.

The artist Justin Vernon, of the band Bon Iver, uses a brief sample of “Wild Heart” (a track from “The Wild Heart”) on the group’s new album, “22, A Million.” Nicks’s voice is sped up, pitch-altered, and barely discernible as human—just a high, grousing “wah-wah,” deployed intermittently. Vernon pinched it from a popular YouTube video of Nicks, in which she sits on a stool having her makeup done, wearing a white dress with spaghetti straps. She begins to sing. Soon, someone is messing with a piano; one of her backup singers joins in with a harmony. The makeup artist gamely tries to continue with her work, before giving up. While the studio recording of “Wild Heart” is saturated, almost wet, this version is all air, all joy.

What affects me most about the video is how profoundly Nicks appears to love singing. Her voice has an undulating, galloping quality. It is as if, once it’s started up, there’s no slowing down, no stopping; the car is careering down a mountain, with no brakes. You can see on her face how good it feels just to let go.

“Stand Back,” the first single from “The Wild Heart,” was inspired by Prince’s “Little Red Corvette,” which Nicks heard on the radio while driving with Kim Anderson to San Ysidro Ranch, in Santa Barbara, for their honeymoon. (Prince played keyboards on the track, though he’s not credited in the album’s liner notes.) The song was produced in accordance with the style of the era, with lots of synthesizer and rubbery, overdubbed percussion. The lyrics describe a deliberate seduction followed by an acute betrayal. “First he took my heart, then he ran,” Nicks sings. The chorus is appropriately punchy: “Stand back, stand back,” she warns. Nicks is capable of going fully feral before a microphone, perhaps most famously at the end of “Silver Springs,” a song intended for “Rumours” and one of several that she wrote about Buckingham. (It ends with Nicks hollering, “Was I just a fool?”) On “Stand Back,” she erupts briefly, on the middle verses, but for the rest of the song she is more characteristically sanguine. “It’s all right, it’s all right,” she concedes. “I did not hear from you, it’s all right.”

Nicks has gone on to make six more solo albums, and three more with Fleetwood Mac. Following her divorce from Kim Anderson, she never married again, or had any children, though a rich maternal instinct runs through all her songs. This, more than anything else, may be the reason that Nicks’s work has endured.

TORRES – ” Thirstier “

Posted: July 31, 2021 in MUSIC
TORRES Thirstier

Thirstier is Mackenzie Scott’s second Torres album for Merge Records, following last years’s “Silver Tongue”. She co-produced the album with Rob Ellis and Peter Miles, recording Thirstier last fall at Middle Farm Studios in the United Kingdom. Zach Schonfeld wrote, “Thirstier” is exuberant and unguarded—the kind of music you make when you’re no longer testing out a new skin and instead revelling in the fervent joy that it brings you.”

Amid the seriousness of her 2017 album Three Futures—it was primarily about reckoning with religious trauma, after all—TORRES’ Mackenzie Scott predicts, in the glow of disjointed synth-pop, “There must be a greener stretch ahead.” And after what feels like a lifetime, it sounds like the Georgia-born, Brooklyn-based artist is finally basking on those green lawns she sketched out nearly four messy years ago. The music of TORRES has never been desolate, but there’s a clear change in tone on Scott’s fifth record under the moniker. Scott’s music has shifted from experimental rock to progressive pop and back again, and her career has been exciting to witness, but there was always the sense she was capable of something more energized, more her. In her latest release, Thirstier, we finally have the complete picture, and it’s as lively a rock album as you’ll hear this year. 

Thirstier revolts against the gray drag of time, a searing and life-affirming eruption of an album that wonders what could happen if we found a way to make our fantasies inexhaustible.

Thirstier marks a turn towards a bigger, more bombastic sound for Torres. The anxious hush that fell over much of Scott’s previous music gets turned inside-out in songs tailored for post-plague celebration. Guitar-driven walls of sound surge and dissipate like surf in high winds, carrying Scott’s commanding voice to the fore, as displayed in the album’s first two singles “Hug From A Dinosaur” and “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head”

Today, she presents its title track, a thesis statement for the album as a whole that highlights its strive towards abundance. Scott sings of love that never knows scarcity: “The more of you I drink / The thirstier I get.” Following a stretch of melancholy guitar, thunderous percussion crashes in along with Scott’s voice:  “Keep me in your fantasies / Even though you live with me.” It’s an urgent and intense encapsulation of desire. 

“Each TORRES album has been a stylistic evolution, this may just be her boldest yet.” —FLOOD

“These songs ride the contact high of a love so consuming that it shifts your worldview and makes you write songs loaded with screamable choruses and conventional hooks” —Pitchfork

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Ten years after its release, Wye Oak’s “Civilian” remains a raw, sinewy punch of a record—bleak and intense and lonely and self-assured all at once. It marked both the ascension and death of Wye Oak, or at least a version of it. Now, a decade later, “Civilian + Cut All the Wires: 2009–2011” delves back into that pivotal record and adds a lost album of 12 unreleased tracks and demos to Civilian’s universe.

The album unravels with the sort of self-questioning and uncertainty that come with youth, and its specific confidence in unflinchingly probing all of those emotions. When Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner released Civilian, it marked both the ascension and death of Wye Oak, or at least a version of it. Now, a decade later, “Civilian + Cut All The Wires: 2009-2011” delves back into that pivotal record and adds a lost album of unreleased tracks and demos to Civilian’s universe. 

Today, Wye Oak share “Electricity,” a massive track from Cut All the Wires and the song that lends the 10th anniversary release its title: “There’s nothing about you that I don’t adore / Show me these rooms and I’ll show you the way to the door / Walk me through / I’ll cut all the wires and spend my life with you.”

Sonic paradoxes abound: The mellow “Sinking Ship” is preceded by the wall-of-sound grunginess that roars through “Half a Double Man.” A pared-down acoustic Daytrotter live session of “Two Small Deaths” dovetails into the jangling “Holy Holy” demo. The closing lyrics over the frenetic, screeching feedback of “Electricity” lend the anniversary release its title: “There’s nothing about you that I don’t adore / Show me these rooms and I’ll show you the way to the door / Walk me through / I’ll cut all the wires and spend my life with you.”

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary earlier this year, Stereogum described Civilian as “an album of hellos and goodbyes at the same time, introducing us to everything Wye Oak could be, before setting the stage for the other Wye Oaks we’d soon get to know, and the all the others we’ve still yet to meet.”

“Civilian” turning ten this year, we’re so excited to share “Civilian + Cut All The Wires: 2009-2011”, a deluxe reissue including a second disc made up of songs written during the Civilian era, demos, and live sessions. The first single, “Electricity,” is out everywhere today.

Civilian was beloved upon release, complete with late-night TV appearances, sold-out concerts, and glowing reviews; The acclaim came inevitable burnout, thanks in part to Wye Oak’s workhorse mentality, the 200+ shows they performed on the back of the album’s release, and a persistently misogynistic narrative about Wasner’s guitar skills. But rather than recoil, the band decided to rethink: Civilian set the duo on a decade-long course of innovation. On “Shriek”, the follow-up to “Civilian“, they completely did away with guitars. And now, in 2021, Wye Oak seem to have fully ditched the album format. 2020’s “No Horizon”, their EP collaboration with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Wasner and Stack are fully committed to reinventing their sound over and over again. Devoting nearly 2,000 words to its 10th anniversary earlier this year. 

Deluxe 10th anniversary reissue includes original album plus bonus LP “Cut All the Wires: 2009–2011

The Civilian + Cut All the Wires: 2009–2011 double-LP is pressed on deluxe green swirl Peak Vinyl housed in a gatefold jacket that features each album’s cover when flipped.

After making a triumphant return courtesy of his concert at London’s Rainbow Theatre, an event organized by Pete Townshend and featuring any number of famous friends, Clapton’s confidence was restored and he returned to Miami’s Criteria Studios to begin work on a record that would stand as another milestone in Clapton’s career. “461 Ocean Boulevard” is the second studio solo album by the English musician. The album was released in late July 1974 for RSO Records, shortly after the record company released the hit single “I Shot The Sheriff” in early July the same year. The album topped various international charts and sold more than two million copies.

Eric Clapton was getting his life back together after a crippling heroin addiction, and his second solo album throws in a bunch of different styles to keep him occupied. It’s not all about guitar fireworks, either. There were blues covers, some heartfelt originals and a version of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” that went to No. 1. Eric Clapton had already undergone several transitions in his ever-evolving career by the time his album “461 Ocean Boulevard” was released in late July 1974. Having gained fame as a member of the Yardbirds and, later, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

Perhaps the best way to describe guitar legend Eric Clapton’s in July 1974, as he prepared to unveil his watershed solo LP, “461 Ocean Boulevard”, was as a “wanted man.”

After laying low for the better part of three years while struggling with substance abuse, Clapton was sought after by his fellow musicians, by the countless fans of his prior exploits (the Yardbirds, Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Blind Faith and Cream plus the short lived period Derek and the Dominoes and by the savvy music industry suits, who knew they were dealing with a golden goose – sure to fill their coffers regardless of what music he put his name to. The impetus for the album was born from the guitarist’s fascination with the blues recordings that had inspired him early on. During his recovery, he found himself renewing his familiarity with those older records and listening to more recent offerings as well. So too, a demo tape given him by Dominos bassist Carl Radle shared songs Radle had written with drummer Jamie Oldaker. As a result, the two musicians became the core of Clapton’s new outfit, which also came to include guitarist George Terry and singer Yvonne Elliman. The album took its title from the house where Clapton and company ensconced, located at “461 Ocean Boulevard” in Golden Beach, Florida,

461 Ocean Boulevard was bookended by an urgently paced re-working of the traditional “Motherless Children” and the renewed vigour of “Mainline Florida.” In between, however, the ensuing laid-back fare ranged from the hymn-like “Give Me Strength” to the easy-grooving “Willie and the Hand Jive” to a slippery slide across Elmore James’ “I Can’t Hold Out” and an acoustic “Please Be with Me.”

Sprinkled among these were three key tracks in “Get Ready” (a cowrite and duet with Yvonne Elliman); Clapton’s own, earnestly hopeful “Let it Grow” (an emotional reflection of his recent rebirth from the shadows of heroin addiction); and, most striking of all, a relatively straight cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” that went to No. 1, pulling the rest of the album right along with it.

Other covers are of similar significance. “Willie and the Hand Jive” tapped into the familiarity factor, a slow-rolling mesh of blues and funk written by singer and composer Johnny Otis. Elmore James’ “I Can’t Hold Out” and Robert Johnson’s “Steady Rollin’ Man” found Clapton going back to the basics of blues.

Throughout the sessions, Clapton was aided and abetted by bassist Carl Radle (late of the Dominos), drummer Jamie Oldaker, keyboardist Dick Sims, guitarist George Terry – and, perhaps most crucial of all, Tom Dowd. Most importantly, 461 Ocean Boulevardis the album that found Clapton renewing his confidence and shoring up his strengths as a bandleader who was no longer in need of simply sharing his efforts with others. In that regard, “461 Ocean Boulevard” can be considered a destination that seemed to serve him best. The album finishes with George Terry’s “Mainline Florida”, which “breaks away from the established tone of the record” and features Clapton’s using talk box during his outgoing solo.

The dean of record producers, he’d worked with Clapton since his Dominos and Cream days, and contributed much to shoring up his shaky confidence.

Together, these players helped Eric Clapton fulfill most of the tall expectations harboured by his previous groups alluded to earlier, once his incomparable talents and this inspired song set were finally captured in the grooves of 461 Ocean Boulevard.

The Lathums: How Beautiful Life Can Be: Signed Deluxe Vinyl, Signed Deluxe Cassette & Deluxe CD

Rising indie stars The Lathums have announced their debut album “How Beautiful Life Can Be”, arriving 24th September on Island Records. They’ve broken the news with a re-recording of fan-favourite ‘The Great Escape’.

The news and the single celebrate how far the band have come, with a music video full of live footage and behind the scenes clips from over the years. The upbeat, infectiously optimistic sound of ‘The Great Escape’ shows exactly why they’ve become firm favourites in the UK music scene.

How Beautiful Life Can Be” will feature some re-recordings of previous singles, along with some brand new cuts. You can pre-order the album and meet the band tomorrow (31st July) at Wigan Market at their Lathum’s Emporium stall.

While the outside world increasingly closes in on The Lathums’ close-knit bubble of offbeat humour, free-flowing jangle-indie and lyrics of unrestrained optimism, Britain’s most-tipped new guitar band finally announce their debut album, How Beautiful Life Can Be. Recorded at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool in the company of producers James Skelly and Chris Taylor, the band’s fuse was only lit a few summers ago by Tim Burgess, but supercharged by fans that found them slogging their gear into North England’s pubs and small venues. The Lathums’ story may just turn out to be the perfect not-all-nice-guys-finish-last tale.

“Shades of the Arctic Monkeys and The Smiths” – THE TIMES

“The sort of jangling indie that’s at its most irresistible live – think The Smiths” – OBSERVER

“Worthy of your attention” – THE GUARDIAN

The TUBS – ” Names ” EP

Posted: July 30, 2021 in MUSIC

The Tubs were formed in 2019 by Owen Williams and George Nicholls, formerly of much-loved Welsh pop band Joanna Gruesome. The two hunkered down in rural North Wales to expand on the fuzzy, hook-laden sounds they propagated in their former outfit, this time incorporating elements of post-punk, traditional British folk, and guitar jangle seasoned by nonchalant Cleaners From Venus-influenced pop hooks & contemporary antipodean indie bands (Twerps/Goon Sax, et al). They hit the ground running, releasing the “I Don’t Know How It Works” 7-inch on Prefect Records in February 2020 and playing gigs with UK colleagues like Porridge Radio, Ex-Void and Marcel Wave, as well as support for Flasher & Public Practice. After a few line-up shuffles, they recruited Max Warren (bass), Steve Stonholdt (guitar) and Matthew Green (drums) to solidify the current line-up. Trouble In Mind is honoured to be co-releasing their newest effort worldwide, the “Names” 7-inch EP – our first 7-inch release in four years (that’s how good it is!) – alongside Prefect Records in the UK.

From note one, the “Names” EP is all business; “Illusion”s punchy riffs (suitable for stargazing or naval-gazing) gallop forward, with Williams pontificating on his reflected reality vs. the illusion of self; a two-minute earworm on gender confusion. “The Name Song” is next, with its persistent jangle, laundry list of Williams’ favourite Seventies names & instantly memorable chorus of “I don’t care about anyone” coyly delivered with a sardonic wink and nod. “Two Person Love”s fuzzy lead line opens side two, (an ode to “erotomania”) barreling forward like a Fairport deep cut on ephedrine. A woozy cover of Felt’s “Crystal Ball” ends the EP, a faithful love-letter to an obvious influence, draped in a gauzy flange. Wrapped in an eye-catching sleeve design by Total Control’s James Vinciguerra, the “Names” EP practically screams “essential”. Look for more music coming soon on Trouble In Mind from The Tubs as the band heads into the studio to record their debut album. 

Released July 30th, 2021

Owen Williams- vocals
George Nicholls- guitar
Max Warren- bass
Matthew Green- drums
Steve Stonholdt- guitar