Posts Tagged ‘Abbey Road Studios’

Ronnie Lane: Anymore For Anymore

To commemorate what would have been Ronnie Lane’s 75th birthday (April 1st 1946), UMC has announced the reissue of Lane’s seminal 1974 debut solo album, “Anymore For Anymore“, on May 7th. The album will be available on vinyl for the first time in more than 30 years.

Anymore For Anymore has been newly mastered at Abbey Road Studios, pressed on 180gm vinyl and is housed in a sleeve reproducing the original distinctive artwork. A new inner sleeve features rare photos and the lyrics to Ronnie’s original songs and the package includes a reproduction of the original album promo poster along with a download code.

Many fans know Ronnie Lane for his celebrated songwriter with both his previous bands the Small Faces and The Faces. He’s the genius behind such iconic songs such as “Ooh La La,” “Itchycoo Park,” “All Or Nothing,” “Tin Soldier,” “Annie” and “Debris.” However, after tiring of the rock and roll world that had come to engulf and consume both bands, Lane decided to go solo, leaving behind London’s East End and taking his family and musician friends with him for a new life in the country.

Originally released in July 1974 and recorded at his newly acquired ‘Fishpool’ farm in Wales, “Anymore For Anymore” saw Ronnie’s music embrace country, folk, bluegrass, music hall, soul and rhythm & blues to spellbinding effect. The album reached No.48 on the UK album chart, while single “The Poacher” peaked at No.36. Despite the modest chart position, the album has grown in stature since release.

Widely considered his best solo outing, and championed by the likes of Pete Townshend, Noel & Liam Gallagher, Paul Weller, and Jimmy Page, it’s an album now established as a “must-have” for any serious music lover, recognized as one of the great artistic records of the 1970s.

Anymore For Anymore” is out on May 7th.

Craft Recordings continue their salute to the enduring musical legacy of Creedence Clearwater Revival with the official release of half speed mastered editions of the band’s two final albums: 1970’s Pendulum and 1972’s Mardi Gras.

Continuing the 50th anniversary celebration of America’s all-time greatest rock ‘n’ roll band, with the release of 180-gram, half-speed mastered editions of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s final two studio albums; 1970’s Pendulum and 1972’s Mardi Gras. Both LPs were mastered at Abbey Road Studios and come housed in beautifully crafted jackets replicating the albums’ original packaging.

Pendulum marked CCR’s second release of 1970—following Cosmo’s Factory—and was the group’s sole record to feature all original material. The album found the guitar-heavy group expanding their sonic palate—experimenting with new sounds (including the use of saxophones, vocal choirs, and keyboards) and even venturing into psychedelia. Pendulum spawned two global Top Ten hits: “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Hey Tonight.”

CCR’s seventh and final studio album, Mardi Gras, followed the departure of founding member and rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty. Highlights off the album include a cover of the rockabilly classic “Hello Mary Lou,” as well as the John Fogerty-penned rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker.” The poignant “Someday Never Comes,” meanwhile, marked the group’s final single.

Roughly half a century later, fans can enjoy a new vibrancy when they revisit these albums, thanks to the exacting process of half-speed mastering. Working from high-res transfers from the original analogue tapes, the half-speed mastering technique allows more time to cut a micro-precise groove, resulting in more accuracy with frequency extremes and dynamic contrasts. The result on the turntables is an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch.

Both titles are available now via Craft Recordings. 

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50th anniversary pressing of the penultimate studio album from America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band; first released in 1970 at the peak of Creedence’s prolific career. Includes the hits “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” “Hey Tonight” and more. The album was mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, benefiting from an exacting process that allows for an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch. This 180-gram vinyl comes housed in a tip-on jacket replicating the original pressing packaging. During 1969 and 1970, CCR was dismissed by hipsters as a bubblegum pop band and the sniping had grown intolerable, at least to John Fogerty, who designed “Pendulum” as a rebuke to critics.

He spent time polishing the production, bringing in keyboards, horns, even a vocal choir. His songs became self-consciously serious and tighter, working with the aesthetic of the rock underground Pendulum was constructed as a proper album, contrasting dramatically with CCR’s previous records, all throwbacks to joyous early rock records where covers sat nicely next to hits and overlooked gems tucked away at the end of the second side. To some fans of classic CCR, this approach may feel a little odd since only “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and maybe its B-side “Hey Tonight” sound undeniably like prime Creedence. But, given time, the album is a real grower, revealing many overlooked Fogerty gems. Yes, it isn’t transcendent like the albums they made from Bayou Country through Cosmo’s Factory, but most bands never even come close to that kind of hot streak. Instead, Pendulum finds a first-class songwriter and craftsman pushing himself and his band to try new sounds, styles, and textures. His ambition results in a stumble — “Rude Awakening 2” portentously teeters on the verge of prog-rock, something CCR just can’t pull off — but the rest of the record is excellent, with such great numbers as the bluesy groove “Pagan Baby” the soulful vamp “Chameleon” the moody “It’s Just a Thought,” and the raver “Molina” Most bands would kill for this to be their best stuff, and the fact that it’s tucked away on an album that even some fans forget illustrates what a tremendous band Creedence Clearwater Revival was.

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Mardi Gras

50th anniversary pressing of the final studio album from America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band; first released in 1972. Highlights include a cover of “Hello Mary Lou,” as well as the Fogerty-penned rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker”a Top Ten hit in the US, Australia, Canada, and across Europe. The poignant “Someday Never Comes,” marked the group’s final single. Mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios, benefiting from an exacting process that allows for an exceptional level of sonic clarity and punch. This 180-gram vinyl comes housed in an embossed jacket replicating the original packaging. Pared down to a trio, Creedence Clearwater Revival had to find a new way of doing business, since already their sound had changed, so they split creative duties evenly. It wasn’t just that each member wrote songs  they produced them, too.

Doug Clifford and Stu Cook claim John Fogerty needed time to creatively recharge, while Fogerty says he simply bowed to the duo’s relentless pressure for equal time. Both arguments make sense, but either way, the end result was the same: “Mardi Gras” was a mess. Not a disaster, which it was dismissed as upon its release, since there are a couple of bright moments. Typically, Fogerty is reliable, with the solid rocker “Sweet Hitch-Hiker” the country ramble “Lookin’ for a Reason” a good cover of Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou,” and the pretty good ballad “Someday Never Comes” These don’t match the brilliance of previous CCR records, but they sparkle next to Clifford and Cook’s efforts.

That implies that their contributions are terrible, which they’re usually not they’re just pedestrian. Only “Sail Away” is difficult to listen to, due to Cook’s flat, overemphasized vocals, but he makes up for it with the solid rocker “Door to Door” and the Fogerty soundalike “Take It Like a Friend.” Clifford fares a little better since his voice is warmer and he wisely channels it into amiable country-rock, yet these are pretty average songs by two guys beginning to find their own song writing voice. If Clifford and Cook had started their own band (which they did after this album) it would be easier to be charitable, but when held up against Creedence’s other work, Mardi Gras withers. It’s an unpretty end to a great band.

Pendulum was the follow-up to the band’s chart-topping Cosmo’s Factory, and peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200. The accompanying Mardi Gras is CCR’s swan song, with it being the only album the band made without rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, who left the group in 1971

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Pink Floyd‘s eighth album, more or less, was a symbolic break from their past — the moment where their long, drawn-out prog tendencies gave way to tighter, shorter and more focused “song”-oriented tracks. And they marked the occasion with their best concept album, a ‘2001’-like mind-expanding look at the fragility of life, time and sanity through the lens of their own experiences. They’d go on to explore some of ‘Moon”s themes — music-business greed, Syd Barrett‘s mental breakdown on later records.released four concept albums during the 1970s; The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals(1977), and The Wall (1979). The most notable of these is “The Dark Side of the Moon”, which achieved a level of commercial success far beyond that of any other progressive rock album before or since.

Roger Waters, who was the dominant – though not yet dominating – force in the band when they recorded Dark Side Of The Moon, has his own theory. “The music’s quite compelling but I think there’s something more. Maybe it’s the simplicity of the ideas that appeal to a generation going though puberty and trying to make sense of it all. There’s certainly something in Roger’s theory, particularly if you accept (as most women do) that most men never get much further than puberty. And like porn, men can go back to Dark Side Of The Moon over and over again. Released in March 1973, over a year after the band had previewed most of the tracks at London’s Rainbow Theatre, Dark Side Of The Moon caught the prevailing feeling perfectly.  For a while Pink Floyd called their planned album Eclipse, but when Medicine Head’s album failed to make any impact they reverted to Plan A. The recording was long – they spent six months in the studio in between tours of Europe, America and Japan – but it wasn’t laborious. David Gilmour reckons that playing the songs live beforehand made a big difference. “You couldn’t do that now of course. You’d be bootlegged out of existence. But when we went into the studio we all knew the material. The playing was very good. It had a natural feel.”

Pink Floyd’s 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon has become legendary for a lot of reasons, including the 741 weeks it spent on the album chart, the iconic cover art and the urban-legend connection to The Wizard of Oz. But this track-by-track approach to the LP centres on the music – the sounds, creation and concept behind one of the most successful, popular and celebrated albums in rock history. Over four decades have passed since Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon was released, and it remains far and away the most successful concept album ever made. Its 45 million claimed sales dwarf all other contenders as well as later Pink Floyd albums including Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall– which many fans might argue are better concept albums. But the rest of the world does not agree.

It was also headphone heaven. You could lie back and hear the heartbeat gradually getting louder, mingled with a disembodied Scottish voice saying ‘I’ve been mad for fucking years’ and a maniacal laugh before being blotted out by a helicopter noise whirring from one ear to another. That in turn collides with a screaming female voice before subsiding into the slow, deliberate beat and soothing guitars of Breathe. Just as you’ve relaxed into the song, however, it suddenly shifts gears and you are being carried long by a rapid hi-hat rhythm and electronic riff while atmospherics, voices, footsteps, airplanes and bits of feedback fly by on either side of your head. It all ends in a dull explosion and more running footsteps. As it dies away there’s the reassuring tick of a clock which just has time to lull you again before a cacophony of alarm clocks shatters your senses and leads into the heavy ponderous guitar chimes of Time. 

You are now eight minutes into the album, and there’s another 35 to go. The sonic experience of the album is as vivid now as it was then.

“Speak to Me”

The line on Dark Side isn’t just that it’s a masterpiece, but that it’s a masterpiece because the album displays Pink Floyd at the apex of the members’ collaboration. After former frontman Syd Barrett left the psychedelic rockers rudderless, they gradually found a collective focus by 1972, with bassist Roger Waters handling the concepts (and lyrics), guitarist David Gilmour and Rick Wright contributing musical ideas and vocals and drummer Nick Mason maintaining a steady beat while messing with brain-tickling sound effects.

Each of Floyd’s four members received writing credits on Dark Side, although Mason was listed as the sole composer of album opener “Speak to Me.” It was a decision that proved controversial in the later, more acrimonious days of the band .

Devoid of lyrics, the one-plus-minute track isn’t much of a song. Conceived in the later stages of the album’s recording sessions at London’s Abbey Road Studios, “Speak to Me” was created as a starting point for this grand, contemplative LP.

“It’s kind of a classical overture, a standard device used for hundreds of years,” Waters said in 2003, “put some elements of the work together at the beginning, as a taster.”

“Speak to Me” might have been classical in concept, but it was more experimental in execution, with layers of fragmented sonic references to Dark Side’s forthcoming songs. You can hear ticking clocks (“Time”), a cash register (“Money”), crazy laughter (“Brain Damage”) and a woman’s scream (“The Great Gig in the Sky”), all interwoven with the sound of a pulsing heartbeat – created by futzing with the recording of a kick drum. The same pulse is heard at the album’s end, suggesting a continuous cycle.

When Pink Floyd debuted Dark Side’s suite of songs at live concerts (more than a year before the album’s release), the heartbeat sound stood alone as a long introduction that would transition from a venue filled with loud crowd talk to the band’s first proper tune, “Breathe.” For the recorded version, the so-called overture became shorter, but denser – not just featuring elements of other songs, but also snippets of spoken word.

Waters had the idea of recording interviews with people who worked with the band or at Abbey Road Studios, and seeing if the answers might dovetail with some of the weighty lyrical themes of Dark Side. The questions would begin easy (“What’s your favorite colour?”) and progress to more difficult subject matter (such as violence or mental instability). The voices on “Speak to Me” belong to the band’s road manager Chris Adamson admitting, “I’ve been mad for fucking years … ,” and Abbey Road doorman Gerry O’Driscoll saying, “I’ve always been mad … ”

In fact, the track’s title came as a result of these interviews. Every time he tested the sound levels to record each interview, audio engineer Alan Parsons would say, “Speak to me” into the talk-back microphone. The phrase stuck. Although Parsons named the piece, Floyd’s drummer was credited for the sonic wizardry on the Dark Side sleeve.

“It was an assembly that I did with existing music,” Mason said, years later. “You could say there’s no original material there, or you could say it’s an entirely original assembly. Yet Waters, Gilmour and Wright disagreed with Mason’s memory, instead suggesting that the writing credit was a gift between bandmates – a token of publishing generosity from Pink Floyd’s bassist to the band’s drummer. After Waters split with the band in the ’80s, he didn’t only stop speaking to his former mates, he didn’t want Mason to get any creative recognition for “Speak to Me.”

“I went through many years when I really regretted having given away half the writing credits, particularly ‘Speak to Me’,” Waters said. “I gave it to [Mason]. Nobody else had anything to do with it at all.”


Because the whooshing backwards chord segues from “Speak to Me” right into “Breathe,” the two compositions were most often combined into one track on digital era re-releases. But these are separate pieces, treated as such on the original vinyl release (on which “Breathe” was listed as “Breathe in the Air”). While “Speak” began the album, “Breathe” set the tone for Dark Side.

The first true song on the LP had its roots in a tune, also titled “Breathe,” that Waters had written for a documentary called The Body. Although the two songs don’t have much in common, their lyricist did reuse the title and the opening line for Dark Side. It was a suitable beginning for an album about the universal elements (and impediments) of existence. The first line appears to mark the first breath of life: “Breathe, breathe in the air … ”

“I think we all thought – and Roger definitely thought – that a lot of the lyrics we had been using were a little too indirect,” Gilmour said. “There was definitely a feeling that the words were going to be very clear and specific. That was a leap forward. Things would mean what they meant. That was a distinct step away from what we had done before.”

Waters would later sort of cringe at the naked simplicity of some of his Dark Side lyrics, particularly “Breathe,” which follows its first line with “Don’t be afraid to care.” But if the naivete of those words rankled the musician in hindsight, their universality may have helped so many listeners connect deeply with this music. In a matter of a few lines, “Breathe” describes birth, offers parental advice (with a pointed caveat) then helplessly sinks into the infinite loop of the rat race – or is it the rabbit race?

“The lyrics … are an exhortation directed mainly at myself, but also at anybody else who cares to listen,” Waters told Mojo. “It’s about trying to be true to one’s path.”

Waters wrote the words, but Gilmour’s voice contained the delicate power to deliver them – double-tracking his vocal takes to strengthen his breathy cries. His guitar work might be “Breathe’s” defining characteristic – a combination of Stratocaster and lap steel that plants itself in blues structure while zooming to the outer reaches of the universe. The spacey approach was a refined version of what Floyd had done with “Echoes” on 1971’s Meddle.

Wright, who shared musical credit with Waters and Gilmour on the song, added textures of keyboard, namely twinkles of Fender Rhodes electric piano and erupting swells of Hammond organ. He also brought in a hint of jazz, via his choice of a minor chord on the way from G to E, right before the verse begins.

“I came from jazz basically … that’s my favourite, that’s my inspiration,” Wright said on the Classic Albums documentary series about “The Dark Side of the Moon”. “The interesting thing about this song … that is totally down to a chord I had heard on, actually, Miles Davis’ album Kind of Blue. … That chord, I just loved.”

“Breathe” would also contribute to Dark Side being looked at as an album-length work. Just as there were sonic and lyrical references to other songs in the LP’s first and last tracks, “Breathe” made a second appearance as a reprise following “Time” with a slightly different musical approach, a weary word about work and a sneer in the direction of organized religion.

The repeating musical theme “was a bit avant-garde,” according to Mason. “And it was a bloody good device not to have to write anything else.”

“On the Run”

Before “On the Run” existed as one of Dark Side’s most experimental tracks existed as a less exceptional guitar-driven jam. When Pink Floyd performed the Dark Side song cycle before they recorded it, the band played something called “The Travel Sequence,” after “Breathe” and before “Time.” It was a kind of interlude to connect two of the major songs.

As Waters was coming up with the lyrical ideas for what would become Pink Floyd’s most famous album, he thought of a list of the things that he thought prevented humanity from progressing. Some of these became the focus (and even the titles) of songs: money, time, morality, violence, etc. One of the more personal themes on Waters’ list was travel, because as a constantly gigging band, the members of Pink Floyd were often on the road, in the air or “On the Run,” so to speak. Recording technology was evolving rapidly around the band. They used the new VCS3 – the latest synthesiser on the market, albeit still quite primitive – to generate the helicopter noises and Rick Wright used it inventively on On The Run. Half-way through making the album they switched to the new Dolby sound reduction system to give the music greater clarity and separation. But the real masterstroke came late on when Roger decided to link the tracks with bits of speech.

“It’s about fear of flying, which we all developed at some time,” Waters said in 2003. Wright had a slightly different take: “I was exhausted by the treadmill, the grind of traveling. For me, it expressed that rather than the fear of crashing in an aircraft.”

Perhaps because it was so personal, Waters didn’t compose lyrics about this particular fear, and the song remained an instrumental. When the Floyd members entered Abbey Road Studios to begin recording Dark Side, “The Travel Sequence” turned into something more bizarre, futuristic, frightening and alien. As that stage jam became “On the Run,” the track found its backbone in a synthesizer, the EMS Synthi AKS.

“I put an eight-note sequence into the Synthi and sped it up,” Gilmour recalled. “Roger thought it wasn’t quite right. He put in another, quite like mine. I hate to say, it was marginally better.”

If the constantly oscillating, ever-repeating sci-fi sound of the Synthi AKS didn’t fully represent what Wright called “the grind of traveling,” extra effects hammered the idea home. Along with heavily manipulated guitar and organ, folded into the track were an airport announcement (“Have your baggage and passport ready …“), other synthesized noises (which sounded like a vehicle swooping past) and a little more everyman philosophy (“Live for today, gone tomorrow. That’s me,” as said by Floyd road manager Roger “The Hat” Manifold).

Engineer Parsons has claimed it was his idea to add the sound of a man’s running footsteps and gasps of heavy breathing. “Often I’d carry on experimenting after they had gone,” he recalled. “The footsteps were done by Peter James, the assistant engineer, running around Studio 2, breathing heavily and panting. They loved it when they heard it the next day.”

Going out with a, quite literal, bang, “On the Run” ends with the sound of a plane crash – leaving little interpretation to how a traveling band felt about their concert schedule. The track’s finale became even more dramatic when performed on the tour to promote Dark Side, as Pink Floyd arranged for a huge model airplane to “fly” across arenas and “crash” in a rigged explosion. The stagecraft, although intense, seemed to lighten the band’s dark thoughts on the subject of air travel.

“We’ve had all sorts of things over the years, so I don’t think it put any of us off,” Gilmour remembered about the special effect. “It was jolly entertaining.”


Like many tracks on our list of the Top 10 Pink Floyd Songs, ‘Time’ works better as part of a bigger album concept than as a standalone cut. But it’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon”s linchpin and features the album’s best performances, especially Nick Mason’s drum solo near the beginning of the song and David Gilmour’s ripping guitar solo in the middle.

Everyone in Pink Floyd gets their shot at the spotlight in “Time.” Mason does his drum solo on the rototoms in the big build-up, Wright came up with some of the epic chord changes and offers his gentle lead vocal (for the last time on record until the ’90s) on the bridges, Gilmour’s snarling singing on the verses is only outdone by his blistering guitar solo and Waters (as throughout Dark Side) came up with the idea and wrote all the lyrics.

“Time” is the only song on the album on which all four members receive a writing credit – making it the zenith of collaboration on what the Floyd guys have always claimed was their most cohesive LP as co-workers. And it’s only appropriate that each gets his moment on a track that focuses on living in the moment.

Waters has said the words for “Time” came from a eureka moment he experienced as he approached the age of 30 and Floyd were putting together Dark Side. He had spent his adolescence and young adulthood waiting for life to begin, only to discover that he was already living it. The notion is reflected in the lyric, “And then one day you find 10 years have got behind you / No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”

“I suddenly thought at 29, ‘Hang on, it’s happening’,” Waters told Mojo. “It has been right from the beginning, and there isn’t suddenly a line when the training stops and life starts. … To be here now, this is it. Make the most of it.”

When the band began to record “Time” in the studio and audio engineer Parsons learned of the song’s title, he offered his own contribution. Not long before Floyd started sessions for Dark Side, Parsons had gone to a watchmaker’s shop to record a range of clocks going off. He planned to use the sounds on a release that would demonstrate the capabilities of quadraphonic sound. Instead, the tolling clocks became a memorable part of “Time,” presaging the song’s slow climb.

“We were doing the song ‘Time,’ and he said, ‘Listen, I just did all these things, I did all these clocks’,” Gilmour remembered in 1984, “and so we wheeled out his tape and listened to it and said, ‘Great! Stick it on!’ And that, actually, is Alan Parsons’s idea.”

The engineer wasn’t the only outsider to make a key contribution to “Time.” Dark Side’s most dynamic track featured vocal backing by four female singers – Doris Troy, Leslie Duncan, Liza Strike and Barry St. John. Recordings of the women’s voices were fed through a pioneering pitch-shifting device invented at Abbey Road Studios. The Frequency Translator wasn’t employed as suggested; instead Floyd members and Parsons manipulated the vocals to bring a greater “swishing” sweep to the soulful “oohs” and “aahs.”

Everything about “Time” was big: its cacophony of clocks, its sonic range from hushed tick-tocking to full-throated rock exuberance, its notions about the hourglass of life, its seven-minute length. It also might be Dark Side’s hardest-rocking moment with Waters’ bass digging deep into the song’s funky gait and Gilmour burning through everything with his blazing arrow of a guitar solo coated in space echo.

“Some punch, some rock guitar,” is how the guitarist described the approach in 2011. “You know, once you’ve had that guitar up so loud on the stage, where you can lean back and volume will stop you from falling backward, that’s a hard drug to kick.” In “Time’s closing moments, Pink Floyd break the fourth wall. Wright’s lamenting vocals deliver Waters’s lyrics: “The time is gone, the song is over / Thought I’d something more to say … ” The album’s lyricist isn’t just using the song to write about the human perception of time, he’s using the creative process as a metaphor for life and how the clock will inevitably run out on everyone.

“Maybe we all suffer from the feeling of lost opportunities, or you could have done better, or done more,” Waters told us. “Maybe it’s comforting to hear that feeling expressed in a piece of work that’s been as successful as this one. People often think, ‘If only … I could write the hit song, or have the success, everything would be okay.’ It’s very nice, but it doesn’t solve any of the problems you might feel about yourself.”

Then, via a dissonant chord, “Time” transitions to a one-verse reprise of “Breathe” (same melody, but new words). The reprise – all but exhaled by Gilmour – gets a lot done in a mere eight lines. It reiterates the “stop and smell the roses” idea of “Breathe” proper, connects to the chimes of “Time” (“the tolling of the iron bell”) and introduces some old-time religion (“hear the softly spoken magic spells”). All of it just in time for Dark Side to move on to mortality

“The Great Gig in the Sky”

Because of her singing on “The Great Gig in the Sky,” Clare Torry’s name is inextricably linked to Pink Floyd. And she wasn’t even a fan of the band.

The idea to bring in a singer to “wail” on the track happened late in the recording sessions for Dark Side (mid-January 1973, only about a month-and-a-half before the album’s release). When Pink Floyd had performed the Dark Side material live in 1972, before recording it, this spot in the song cycle had been taken by something termed “The Mortality Sequence.” The theme was religion and death, exemplified by Wright playing an organ with taped snippets of recorded prayers and Christian commentary playing over the live performance.

When the band got into Abbey Road Studios, Wright refined the piece and crafted something more delicate, playing piano as the tune’s lead instrument. Gilmour contributed pedal steel, Waters played bass and Mason handled the drums. Everyone seemed to love the instrumental (Waters later praised it as “really beautiful” and one of “the best things that Rick did”), yet some of the members felt it needed something more.

The idea of keeping the prayers and Bible verses from the live edition was quickly dispatched and the band moved on to trying to use recordings of astronauts communicating in space (which didn’t gel) as well as subjects from Waters’ interview idea (two of whom ended up on the completed track). But the quotes from Abbey Road doorman Gerry O’Driscoll – “And I am not frightened of dying … ” – and Patricia “Puddie” Watts, wife of road manager Peter Watts – “I never said I was frightened of dying” – weren’t quite enough to capture the emotion of a song about death.

No one remembers whose idea it was but eventually the guys in Floyd decided that a female singer might do the trick. Engineer Parsons suggested a young singer-songwriter named Clare Torry, because he had been impressed by the power of her voice on a cover of the Doors’ “Light My Fire.” The 25-year-old singer initially was reluctant to take part. Torry wasn’t into progressive rock and had tickets to a Chuck Berry concert on the Saturday night proposed for the session, but she eventually agreed when the date was set for a Sunday.

“I think one has to give Clare credit — she was just told to go in and ‘do your thing,’ so effectively she wrote what she did,” Parsons said in 1998. “She wailed over a nice chord sequence. There was no melodic guidance at all apart from ‘a bit more wailly here’ or ‘more sombre there.’ The vocal was done in one session – three hours – no time at all, then a couple of tracks were compiled for the final version.”

The members of Pink Floyd had been at a loss at how to direct someone to sing a completely wordless part for a song that was serious yet carried the playful title of “The Great Gig in the Sky.” Although they came away impressed with Torry’s hair-raising, even terrifying, vocal takes, the guys’ stone-faced manner belied their approval. “The only thing I could think of was to make myself sound like an instrument, a guitar or whatever, and not to think like a vocalist,” Torry recalled. “I did three or four takes very quickly, it was left totally up to me, and they said, ‘Thank you very much.’ In fact, other than Dave Gilmour, I had the impression they were infinitely bored with the whole thing, and when I left I remember thinking to myself, ‘That will never see the light of day’.”

Torry didn’t know she had become part of Pink Floyd’s hit album – and, eventually, one of the most beloved LPs of all time – until she spotted Dark Side in a record shop one day and saw that she was credited on the sleeve. Although Wright was listed as the song’s sole writer, that changed after a retired Torry sued the band and EMI in 2004, resulting in a settlement that gave the singer-songwriting credit on subsequent reissues of the album.

“I get so excited when I hear Clare singing,” Wright said in 2003. “For me, it’s not necessarily death. I hear terror and fear and huge emotion, in the middle bit especially, and the way the voice blends with the band.”


Once the band started to receive some attention, the concept of fame and its trappings became an obsession for Waters . Ironically, ‘Money’ — an anti-greed rant — became the group’s first hit single and set ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ on its path to one of the bestselling albums ever made. Its massive popularity only added to Waters’ list of complaints.

It’s one of the most famous intros in music and one of the most famous riffs on a centrepiece to one of the most famous albums with one of the most famous covers of all time. But before ‘Money’ was the track your dad used as an example of “real music” when he came into your room while you were listening to Deadmau5, it was just a crude demo that Roger Waters had toyed around with.

What’s rather remarkable though is not only the way the rather short demo expanded into a six-minute epic, but the way the themes of the song and most of the lyrics were already in Waters’ head.

Pink Floyd hadn’t had a hit single since 1967. That was back when they were a psychedelic outfit led by Syd Barrett. By the mid-’70s, the singles chart just wasn’t the kinetic playground for progressive rock bands. Groups of Floyd’s ilk gravitated toward longer artistic statements: albums with big concepts, extended tracks and lots of room for listeners’ minds to wander. This wasn’t Top 40 stuff.

Yet, suddenly in 1973, it was. A couple months after the release of Dark Side, Pink Floyd put out an edited-down version of “Money” as a single in the U.S. and it soared to No. 13 on the chart, helping to take the British band from an underground act to a popular sensation in North America. Sure the song was catchy  with its distinctive, rubber-band bass line and blistering solo breaks – yet it was still a surprise that a song written in the decidedly un-pop time signature of 7/4, with a sound effects loop, an unsung chorus and a subversive attitude toward capitalism would become a Top 20 single on American radio.

As with all of the Dark Side material, Waters was responsible for those sarcastic lyrics, which were written to a strange rhythm as the bassist was considering the elements that could prove dangerous to a thriving society.  As a rock musician who was working to be rich and famous, but also had notions of socialism, Waters decided to go the “funny and clever” route. In addition to the off-kilter time signature, Waters came up with the idea of creating a sound effects loop that would insert into the track the literal sounds of money (coins, bags of cash, registers, etc.). Drummer Mason helped Waters begin collecting this rhythmic loop in the song’s home demo stage.

“I had drilled holes in old pennies and then threaded them on to strings,” Mason explained in his autobiography Inside Out. “They gave one sound on the loop of seven. Roger had recorded coins swirling around in the mixing bowl [his then-wife] Judy used for her pottery. Each sound was measured out on the tape with a ruler before being cut to the same length and then carefully spliced together.” The final version of the seven jangling, ripping, clinking and ringing sounds was used by Dark Side engineer Parsons as a click-track, to which the members of Pink Floyd played when recording “Money” at Abbey Road Studios. Because Parsons slowly faded out the effects in the band’s headphones, the song begins to move faster after the guys were untethered from their weird metronome.

Wright and Gilmour initially weren’t thrilled with the Waters composition. The keyboardist later claimed it was the one song that didn’t fit with the rest of Dark Side and also disagreed with the political nature of the lyrics at the time (after all, he was the one who agreed for “The Great Gig in the Sky” to be used in a commercial for headache medicine). Gilmour was, at first, unsure about singing and playing to the awkward 7/4 time. Although he came around to the idea, he made sure that “Money” switched to a more standard 4/4 time for his series of guitar solos.

He didn’t merely dash off the solos, which include some of the heaviest rock on the entire album and, essentially, take the place of the choruses in a typical song structure. Gilmour treated each iteration differently, changing the guitar he played (a Fender Stratocaster on the first two solos, a customized Lewis guitar capable of achieving higher notes on the last one). He also planned the contrast of a “wet” sound – reverb and delay effects on the first solo – with a “dry” approach in the middle, then returning to a fuller aesthetic for the final, more chaotic turn. Much of his driving approach on guitar was a tribute to the Memphis sound.

“I was a big Booker T. fan,” Gilmour later revealed, in reference to Stax Records house band, Booker T. and the M.G.’s. “I had the Green Onions album when I was a teenager. … It was something I thought we could incorporate into our sound without anyone spotting where the influence had come from. And to me, it worked. Nice white English architecture students getting funky is a bit of an odd thought.” Another R&B element was added with the addition of Dick Parry’s blurting and squealing saxophone. The story goes that Gilmour told his former bandmate to play like the saxophonist in a cartoon ad that ran before movies in Britain.

“I played with him. He was a jazz player. You’d be in two or three different groups at a time sometimes. My group in Cambridge very rarely had a gig on a Sunday night, and Dick had a regular spot in a ballroom on a Sunday night. We got this jazz trio thing going on,” Gilmour said in 2003. “Pink Floyd … really didn’t know how to get hold of a sax player or anything. We wanted to try a sax on ‘Money’ and ‘Us and Them,’ so we got Dick in.”

In addition to Parry’s sax work, Pink Floyd filtered in more of spoken-word snippets, of the same variety that had appeared on other tracks. A run of a variety of voices (including Wings member Henry McCullough) close out the song, not responding to financial questions, but matters of conflict, perhaps as a preview of Dark Side’s next track.

Looking back decades later, the irony was not lost on the band regarding “Money” being, in many ways, responsible for the vast material success of Pink Floyd. It was practically a prophecy, given the lyric that Waters wrote and Gilmour sang “Money, it’s a hit.” .“We were by no means rich at that time. ‘Money’ is the single that helped to really break us in America,” Gilmour said. “It was the track that made us guilty of what it propounds, funnily enough.”

“Us and Them”

The oldest song in Dark Side, “Us and Them” dates from four years before the album’s release, when Pink Floyd had been commissioned by film director Michelangelo Antonioni to create soundtrack music for Zabriskie Point. Wright, the band’s keyboardist, had written this subdued, melancholy piece to work as a contrast to a scene that depicted a campus riot. As such, it had the working title of “The Violence Sequence.”

“It has quite a simple chord sequence, except for the rather strange third chord, influenced by jazz,” Wright told Uncut, referencing the D minor chord with a major seventh. “It was an augmented chord, hardly ever used in pop music then.” It proved unusual for pop music and, as it turned out, a bit too unusual for Antonioni as well. While the Italian director loved Floyd material such as “Careful With That Axe, Eugene,” he wasn’t thrilled with Wright’s slow, piano tune. Waters recalled the filmmaker’s reaction: “It’s beautiful, but is it too sad, you know? It makes me think of church.” Antonioni chose not to use “The Violence Sequence” for his movie.

A few years later, Pink Floyd were starting to assemble material for what would become Dark Side and Wright was still kicking around this chord progression in his brain. The song ended up underscoring a different sort of conflict: warfare, prejudice and inequality as depicted in lyrics written by Waters. The bandmates worked on the song, now called “Us and Them” together, adding a new musical section and words that paid heed to the forces that prevent human beings from connecting.

“We needed a middle-eight. I came up with the chords for that,” Wright said. “It’s very flowing and sweet if you look at the verse, then there’s the contrast, this big, harder chorus. With the lyrics about the war and the general sitting back – it worked so well. Wright and Waters were so pleased with “Us and Them,” which Pink Floyd performed while on tour before making Dark Side, that the deceptively serene song became the first one recorded for the album when the band entered Abbey Road Studios in June 1972.  Gilmour sings the lead part, his voice processed with an echo effect to enhance the dichotomy of certain lines (i.e. “Us … us … us … us … us … us … us … and them … them … them … them … them … them … them …”).

Wright’s vocals come in to harmonize in the crescendo of the choruses, as do the voices of Doris Troy, Leslie Duncan, Liza Strike and Barry St. John, who sing backup on other tracks (“Time,” “Brain Damage” and “Eclipse”).

“All our vocals are perfectly balanced – for instance, on ‘Us and Them’,” Gilmour noticed. “I did I don’t know how many harmony vocals, then the girls on top. It’s really great, really uplifting. You can move one element a fraction and the whole thing falls to pieces.”

As with “Money” it was Pink Floyd’s guitarist who brought in old pal Dick Parry to play saxophone on the track. The jazzman delivers two solos, each breathy and moody, in stark contrast to the honking assignment on his other Dark Side appearance. Just before his second solo on “Us and Them” listeners hear yet another of the album’s spoken-word snippets, with roadie Roger “The Hat” Manifold holding forth on the theme of violence (“So if you give ’em a quick short, sharp, shock, they won’t do it again”).

Wright and Waters, the song’s co-writers who would so often find themselves at odds in the post-Dark Side era, would eventually look back fondly on “Us and Them.” Even in the years in which they were not talking to one another, they each considered their collaboration a highlight, if not the all-out centerpiece, of Pink Floyd’s most legendary album.

“It’s a great example of the music and the lyrics combining to create emotion,” Wright said in 2003. A few years earlier, Waters had offered, “The whole idea, the political idea of humanism and whether it could or should have any effect on any of us, that’s what the record is about really – conflict, our failure to connect with one another.”

“Any Colour You Like”

Isolation, paranoia and mental breakdown are the unrelenting themes of the last three tracks,Any Colour You Like, Brain Damage and Eclipse. Roger would pursue these themes with a vengeance on later Pink Floyd albums, driven by his hatred of authoritarian leaders and their bureaucratic henchmen, and his rage at the death of his father right at the end of World War II.

When the Dark Side collection of songs existed as merely a concert set – before Pink Floyd went into the studio to record the album – the material included two instrumental jams that both served as connective tissue for the entire cycle. There was one jam in between “Breathe” and “Time” (which was radically altered for the album to become “On the Run”) and there was another between “Us and Them” and “Brain Damage.” Because Floyd had deep-sixed the first jam, the members were content with keeping the second one for the LP, although it still got the full studio treatment. Segueing from “Us and Them,” the instrumental is led by a heavily addled EMS VCS 3 synthesizer played by Wright, which eventually yields the floor to Gilmour’s guitar playing, including a harmonized solo. Wright also contributes organ and another synth, while Waters plays bass and Mason is on drums.

The funky instrumental has been occasionally referred to as the second reprise of “Breathe” because it has the same rhythm (albeit more up-tempo) and boasts a similar chord sequence to that song (although stepped down from E minor to D minor). So even if “Any Colour You Like” doesn’t have an obvious impact on the overall themes of Dark Side, it does play into a repeated musical element of the LP.

“It’s not a vital part of the narrative,” Gilmour said in 2003, “but there are moments when it’s nice to get off the leash and just play.” Yet Waters, who is the only Floyd member not credited with writing the song, has claimed that “Any Colour You Like” does contain an underlying message to match some of the other impediments to progress explored in the lyrics and music of Dark Side.

Although it has been suggested that the title is an in-joke, referencing Floyd roadie Chris Adamson’s catchphrase, Waters told author Phil Rose that the phrase originated with his memory of salesmen hawking cheap items out of a van. “If they had sets of china, and they were all the same colour, they would say, ‘You can ’ave ’em, 10 bob to you, love. Any colour you like, they’re all blue’,” Waters recalled in Which One’s Pink? “And that was just part of that patter. So, metaphorically, ‘Any Colour You Like’ is interesting, in that sense, because it denotes offering a choice where there is none.”

“Brain Damage”

The Dark Side of the Moon’s penultimate track is more or less the theme song of Pink Floyd’s most popular album. More than any other cut on the record, ‘Brain Damage’ surveys the mental scars left on both the band and Syd Barrett after their former bandmate’s mental illness forced his departure (first from the group and eventually from reality). This centerpiece segues into the closing ‘Eclipse,’ so feel free to tag it on.

This track gave the entire album its title. When Waters was first working on it, around the time that 1971’s Meddle was being recorded, “The Dark Side of the Moon” was the name given to the song. Before it arrived at its final name, “Brain Damage,” it had the working title “The Lunatic Song” – named as such for the lyrics’ frequent use of the term.

The song’s first line is “The lunatic is on the grass,” a general reference to “keep off the grass” signs and a specific memory of a beautiful lawn in Waters’ hometown of Cambridge on which he desperately wanted to run around. The songwriter would later remark that the real lunatics are the ones trying to prevent people from lazing on a nice patch of grass.

But the larger inspiration for Waters’ acoustic-based tune was his former bandmate, and Pink Floyd’s first frontman, Syd Barrett. His relationship with, and proximity to, someone with destabilizing mental illness would greatly impact Waters’ work in Pink Floyd, including parts of Wish You Were Here and The Wall. In “Brain Damage,” the lyric “And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes” is a nod to concerts in which Barrett would be performing a completely different song to the one that the band had agreed to play.

“It was a huge shock to me to see the ravages of schizophrenia at those close quarters,” Waters said in 2003. “There’s no way to deal with it. Certainly there wasn’t with Syd.

So “Brain Damage” was, in part, Waters’ way of dealing with this. It wasn’t just references to Barrett, grass and lobotomies, but a display of empathy for the folks on the fringes – “defending the notion of being different,” as the songwriter put it on the Classic Albums documentary. The song’s lyrical hook, after all, is “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon,” as if to say that there isn’t that much different between Barrett and Waters. “It’s also to suggest that there’s a camaraderie involved in the idea of people who are prepared to walk the dark places alone,” Waters said. “You’re not alone! A number of us are prepared to open ourselves up to all those possibilities.”

At the time Pink Floyd were making Dark Side, Waters was still self-conscious about his singing voice, especially in contrast the expressiveness of Gilmour’s vocals. But it was the guitarist who convinced Waters to sing on “Brain Damage,” possibly because of how personal the lyrics were.

Besides, it’s not like the recording did a disservice to the apprehensive singer. Waters stands alone on the quieter verses, but is joined by Gilmour and the backing contingent of Doris Troy, Leslie Duncan, Liza Strike and Barry St. John on the operatic choruses, which blast out of the simple, folky tune.

Gilmour’s sighing space guitar, Wright’s bum-rushing Hammond organ and Mason’s thunderous drums make “Brain Damage” suitable for Dark Side’s widescreen canvas, while clips of road manager Peter Watts laughing like a maniac maintain the conceptual connections.

“It’s very simple, and also it has the mini-Moog,” said Wright, who wasn’t thrilled, originally, with the recording. “It’s got a hotel orchestra kind of sound. I love the chorus, and the girls blended in so beautifully.” “Brain Damage” also blended in so well with Dark Side’s final track, “Eclipse,” that the pair are usually performed in concert or played on the radio in tandem, causing many fans to consider them one piece – even though they were written as separate songs.

See the source image


Pink Floyd were already in the process of a 1972 road-test of the material that would turn into Dark Side when lyricist and bassist Waters realized the suite of songs was missing something. Sure, the band had big, dramatic think-pieces such as “Time” and “Money” and “Us and Them,” but not a song that tied all of the themes together.

“I suggested it all needed an ending,” Waters told Uncut. “I wrote ‘Eclipse’ and brought it into a gig in Colston Hall in Bristol [the eighth of the tour on which the Dark Side songs were being played], on a piece of lined paper with the lyrics written out.”

But it wasn’t titled “Eclipse” at the time; it was called “End.” That’s because Pink Floyd were considering calling the entire piece Eclipse, scared off of the original Dark Side of the Moon moniker because another British band, Medicine Head, was releasing an LP with that title. That album proved unsuccessful, Pink Floyd reverted to their plan and “Eclipse” became the name of the record’s final track.

Lyrically, the conclusion does what Waters set out to achieve, forging bonds between many of the other songs on Dark Side. In the first line, Waters practically repeats a lyric from “Breathe” (“All that you touch / And all that you see”), while other phrases in this litany of themes bring to mind “Money” (“And all that you buy, beg, borrow or steal”), “Time” (“And all that is now / And all that is gone / And all that’s to come”) and “Us and Them” (“And all that you fight / And everyone you slight”).

If Waters met his goal as a lyricist, it would require the entire band to take this short, repetitive song into (interstellar) overdrive. Shooting straight out of “Brain Damage,” a giant wave of Wright’s Hammond heralds this musical and thematic climax, punctuated by Mason’s drums and surrounded by Gilmour’s twinkling guitars.

“I remember working hard on making it build and adding harmonies that join in as you go through the song,” Gilmour about recording the song. “Because there’s nothing to it – there’s no chorus, there’s no middle eight, there’s just a straight list. So, every four lines we’ll do something different.”

A big part of that build was the addition of the same female vocalists – Doris Troy, Leslie Duncan, Liza Strike and Barry St. John – who had appeared elsewhere on Dark Side. It provided consistency, in terms of the album, and emotion, in terms of the song. Where they did a lot of ooh-ing and ahh-ing on other tracks, the women are less restrained on “Eclipse.” Troy, in particular, goes all-out with her wailing, providing a tie to Clare Torry’s turn on “The Great Gig in the Sky” while also underscoring the universality Waters was trying to get across in this conclusion. One of the lyrics she echoes in her soulful howl is “Everyone you meet.” Meanwhile, nearly every line that Waters sings contains the word “all,” “everyone” or “everything.”

The song, and album, culminates in the final lines: “And everything under the sun is in tune / But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.” It isn’t merely a reference to the album’s title or the lyric in “Brain Damage,” but a crystallization of everything Waters intended Dark Side to be about.

“It isn’t very positive, but it’s very true,” he admitted in 2003. “Saying that there’s the potential to express the positive side of everything, but that all the stuff that we have talked about on the rest of the record has the potential to get in the way, and it’s up to us to make a change. We all get to choose to some extent … ”

Then the organ fades into the darkness and listeners hear one last interview snippet, a final thought from Abbey Road Studios doorman Gerry O’Driscoll, “There is no dark side of the moon, really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.” And Dark Side retreats to Mason’s drumbeat pulse, the same steady sound of life heard at the album’s start.

Album cover designers Hipgnosis, who’d worked with the band since 1968’s Saucerful Of Secrets, were coming up with various ideas. Storm Thorgerson remembers they had seven or eight but the one the band picked was sparked off by Rick Wright, “who wanted something simple, clinical and precise”.

Hipgnosis deliberately missed out one colour of the spectrum as the light passed through the prism – purple – as they didn’t think it would show up against the black background. The gatefold sleeve was designed so that the light rays on the inner sleeve joined up precisely with the outer sleeve. But nowhere on the front cover, back cover or the spine did it say “Pink Floyd” or “Dark Side Of The Moon” And even on the inner sleeve the only reference you could find was “Produced by Pink Floyd” in the credits.

The title didn’t appear until you got to the record label, unless you happened to scan the lyrics on the inner sleeve and came across the last line of Brain Damage, ‘I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon’. Stuck inside the record sleeve were two posters: a grainy, green-filtered picture of the pyramids and one featuring the band, with an attempt to make the Pink Floyd name as difficult to read as possible.

thanks to ultimateclassicrock

Pink Floyd in 1973

Derek and The Dominos‘ 1970 album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” is being reissued for its 50th Anniversary as a deluxe 4LP vinyl set and across two CDs.

The original album has been half-speed mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios and, being a double, is pressed on two LPs. Two further records of bonus material (not half-speed mastered) make up this 4LP deluxe box set.

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was celebrated back in 2011 with a deluxe, cross-format box set that featured the remastered original album (on CD, vinyl and in a 5.1 surround mix on DVD), 1973’s In Concert, and a disc of 13 bonus tracks, including new mixes of outtakes from the supergroup’s unfinished second album and a live set from The Johnny Cash Show. This new box strips things back somewhat, offering the half-speed mastered album and the 13 bonus cuts across four LPs along with the 12″ x 12″ book from the 40th anniversary set and a certificate of authenticity.  (The 2CD 40th anniversary edition will also go back into print as well, ostensibly for the 50th anniversary.) Alongside this is a further 2LPs of bonus material some of which has previously been unreleased on vinyl. All the bonus material across all of LP3 & LP4 is mastered normally (so is not half-speed mastered).

Layla was the end result of four members of Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett’s touring group – guitarist Eric Clapton (already well-known for work with Blind Faith, The Beatles and many more), singer Bobby Whitlock, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon – coming together for a brief but fruitful series of sessions. (Their earliest session produced the briefly issued single “Tell the Truth,” produced by Phil Spector and featuring guitar work from Dave Mason and George Harrison.) The Layla sessions also featured scintillating guitar contributions from Duane Allman. Despite the album’s pedigree, the album never performed to expectations, and tragedy followed the group: Allman was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971, Radle died in 1980 after years of drug abuse, and Gordon remains institutionalized after killing his mother during a schizophrenic episode in 1983.

But gradually, Layla‘s title track took hold as one of Clapton’s crowning achievements: written about his insatiable infatuation with Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd (who indeed had a decade-long marriage with the guitarist after divorcing the Beatle), “Layla” became a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1972; in 1990, its Gordon-led piano outro scored a pivotal scene in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas – and three years later, a striking acoustic performance for MTV’s Unplugged won a Grammy Award.

“That thing was like lightning in a bottle,” begins Bobby Whitlock talking about his short-lived band time with Eric Clapton, Derek and the Dominos. “We did one club tour, we did one photo session, then we did a tour of a bit larger venues. Then we did one studio album in Miami. We did one American tour. Then we did one failed attempt at a second album.” And all within about a year’s time in 1970.

So in this case, the oft-overused flash of lightning description is right on the money. And Whitlock was a key part of the kinetic energy behind what’s considered a genuine landmark in not just Clapton’s career but the entire classic rock genre: the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, co-writing six of the double album’s 10 original songs, and bringing his soul-soaked Deep South keyboard skills to the musical mix, taking the vocal lead on two tracks and doubling/trading off with Clapton throughout the rest of the album.

Now, five decades later, he is the keeper of the Dominos legacy. And the dedicated survivor of a star-crossed band if there ever was one. After the band’s short flash as a working act, he descended into some three years of heroin adduction and seclusion. Duane Allman, who played on most of Layla, was killed in a motorcycle crash on October 29th, 1971. Bassist Carl Radle recorded and played with Clapton later in the ’70s and died of a kidney infection, exacerbated by his alcohol and drug abuse, in 1980. Drummer Jim Gordon as well continued to engage in substance abuse, damaging his career with behavioural issues. In 1983, he murdered his mother, claiming a voice in his head had told him to do so. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and has remained incarcerated ever since.

Whitlock stresses “We were better than anybody.” One of the key elements that made them what he feels were the Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band for that all-too-brief time was Whitlock’s deep Southern musical soul. Growing up a preacher’s kid in a family poor as a church mouse, he was weaned on spiritual music (and did some cotton picking in his youth). Coming of age in Memphis, Whitlock was steeped in R&B in the city where white rock ‘n’ roll was born at Sun Studio.

Although Whitlock, only 22 years old at the time, helped Clapton all but define anguished unrequited love in the most profound rock ‘n’ roll terms and tunes on songs like “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad,” “Tell the Truth” and “I Looked Away,” his own ultimate love story is something quite different, and a rather delightful one at that. Though his post-Domino years were not without their struggles, today he’s blissfully married and in musical partnership with singer, bassist, guitarist, sax player, songwriter, recording engineer and producer CoCo Carmel.

Whitlock, Clapton, Radle and Gordon became part of the core crew on the sessions for Harrison’s post-Beatles debut, All Things Must PassWhen Harrison had business elsewhere for a few days, he told the four to use the studio time with producer Phil Spector to cut some tracks, which yielded the debut Dominos 45, “Tell the Truth” b/w “Roll It Over.”

Whitlock says of Clapton, “He wanted to be Derek not Eric. He wasn’t ready to step into his role of as a solo artist at that time.” The four musicians did a show at London’s Lyceum Theatre, and then set off on a tour of small English venues as Derek & the Dominos where the admission was £1, and Clapton’s name was forbidden to be used in any advertising. In late August of ’70, the Dominos arrived at Criteria Studios in Miami to record with producer Tom Dowd. He took them to see the Allman Brothers Band, Clapton and Duane Allman bonded, and the latter joined the Layla sessions to help create some of the most incendiary dual guitar rock ever recorded. The album was suffused with Clapton’s passionate longing for his best friend Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd – interestingly, while in England Whitlock dated her sister Paula – and even though it was only a middling hit on its release, over time its stature grew to become considered a rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece.

The vinyl box comes with a 12×12″ book of sleeve notes taken from the 40th-anniversary edition. A 2CD edition will also be made available which is effectively identical to the double-CD edition issued in 2011.

The big 40th anniversary box set (which was 4CD+DVD+2LP) featured a surround sound mix on the DVD. Since that is now very hard to get hold of, it’s disappointing that the DVD hasn’t been included as with the two CDs to make a triple disc package.

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs will be reissued on 13th November 2020.


Paul McCartney / Flaming Pie 5CD+2DVD deluxe edition / Archive Collection reissue

Paul McCartney is set to give his 1997’s album “Flaming Pie” the full-scale reissue treatment. Arriving on July 31st, the Deluxe Edition consists of seven discs. Five CDs contain the remastered original album, demos, home recordings, studio outtakes, B-sides, highlights from 1995’s Oobu Joobu radio series and an audio tour of his home. Two DVDs consist of the In the World Tonight documentary, music videos, an interview by David Frost and several electronic press kits.

The box also includes a 128-page book featuring previously unpublished photos by Linda McCartney, other artwork, an essay by Chris Heath, new interviews with the people involved in the making of the album, track-by-track information, recipes, handwritten lyrics and more.

A Collector’s Edition, limited to 3,000 copies, adds four vinyl discs – the original double LP plus one record of home recordings on a hand-stamped vinyl sleeve and another featuring “The Ballad of Skeletons,” McCartney’s collaboration with Allen Ginsberg. There’s also a portfolio featuring six silk-screened prints by Linda. It’s all housed in a cloth-wrapped, two-piece box.

This is the 13th release in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection, personally supervised by McCartney and remastered at Abbey Road Studios. Originally released in 1997, the critically acclaimed and universally beloved solo album was produced by Paul, Jeff Lynne, and George Martin, featuring a supporting cast of family and friends including Ringo Starr, Steve Miller, Linda McCartney, and son James. [Expanded double-CD edition features 21 bonus tracks. The triple 180gm vinyl LP edition features the remastered album cut at half-speed, packaged in a gatefold sleeve with exclusive artwork & booklet, plus one LP of unreleased home recordings in hand-stamped white label sleeve, “No, not another souvenir,” Paul pleads in the outro to the tenth track of Flaming Pie.  In the case of its deluxe box set edition, however, he might want to rethink that stance.  Each successive box in McCartney’s long-running Archive Collection seems more luxurious than the last, and this truly – even overwhelmingly – lavish collection is no exception.

The album is also being re-released with 21 extra tracks on two CDs, as a double-LP and as a three-LP set with the home-recordings disc found in the Collector’s Edition. You can get full info on all formats and pre-order at McCartney’s online shop. All pre-orders come with a re-creation of the “Young Boy” maxi-single, which contains the home-recorded version of the song “Looking for You” and excerpts of “Oobu Joobu Part 1.”

For Flaming Pie, McCartney brought in Jeff Lynne, with whom he had recently worked on the Beatles’ Anthology project, and George Martin to co-produce the record with him. It would up being his highest-charting LP since 1982’s Tug of War, debuting at No. 2. All digital pre-orders for the Archive Collection release of Flaming Pie will include YOUNG BOY. Also available as a stand-alone for digital download & streaming, the EP recreates the 1997 “Young Boy” maxi single and features the remastered Flaming Pie single “Young Boy,” a home-recorded version of the song, the original B-side “Looking For You,” and excerpts of “Oobu Joobu Part 1,” also from the original single. The two music videos for the track have been restored and will also be published on the same day.

Two additional EPs will be available with “The World Tonight” arriving on June 26th and “Beautiful Night” on July 17th. Paul remarking at the time“(The Beatles Anthology) reminded me of The Beatles’ standards and the standards that we reached with the songs. So in a way it was a refresher course that set the framework for this album.” Produced by Paul, Jeff Lynne and George Martin and featuring a supporting cast of family and friends including Ringo Starr, Steve Miller, Linda McCartney and son James, Flaming Pie is equal parts a masterclass in songcraft and a sustained burst of joyful spontaneity. With highlights ranging from the uplifting and inspirational opener “The Song We Were Singing” to the raucous title track (named for a quote from an early John Lennon interview on the origin of The Beatles’ name: “It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, ‘from this day on you are Beatles with an A.’” to the pensive “Calico Skies,” and featuring singles “Young Boy,” “The World Tonight” and “Beautiful Night,” Flaming Pie would represent yet another pinnacle in Paul’s solo catalogue: Released to rapturous reviews, the album would be Paul’s most commercially successful release of the ‘90s, achieving his highest chart positions since the ‘80s and would receive gold certifications in the US, UK, Japan and more.

Paul will reissue ‘Flaming Pie’ on 31st July 2020 as the thirteenth installment of his GRAMMY Award-winning Archive Collection.

Originally released May 5th, 1997, Flaming Pie ended a four-year gap between McCartney studio albums. Recorded largely in the wake of Paul’s involvement in the curation and release of The Beatles Anthology series, Flaming Pie was shaped and inspired by that experience. The album would become Paul’s most commercially successful release of the ‘90s.

At no time in his career has Macca truly run from his past; how could he, even if he wished to do so?  But on Flaming Pie, he took hold of that past – and all of its attendant ghosts – in a striking embrace.  The centerpiece of the deluxe edition is a hardcover 128-page book; at its heart is a lengthy and heavily-annotated, no-stone-unturned essay by Chris Heath.  (It’s ideal reading accompaniment while listening to the album, and should take the average reader about as long.)  It’s not long before Heath mentions McCartney’s old band from Liverpool: the second line of the second paragraph in fact.  That’s as it should be; their spirit and sound are evoked often throughout the vibrant Flaming PieRingo Starr plays and sings on the sweeping “Beautiful Night,” and his recognizable presence sends shivers up the spine.  He also co-wrote the raucous “Really Love You,” the first song to bear a McCartney/Starkey credit.  George Martin co-produced the lilting “Calico Skies” and reassuring “Great Day” and orchestrated both “Beautiful Night” and the reflective “Somedays.”  (“I laugh to think how young we were,” McCartney sighs over a delicate melody and guitar-and-strings accompaniment.)  Paul worked on Flaming Pieconcurrently with The Beatles Anthology (the three audio volumes of which were released in 1995 and 1996), and brought Jeff Lynne from that project to his new album.

The 4LP/5CD/2DVD Collector’s Edition — remastered at Abbey Road Studios and strictly limited to 3,000 numbered copies issued in a numbered cloth wrapped two-piece collector’s box — will feature everything in the Deluxe Edition plus a marbled art print portfolio of six silkscreened Linda McCartney art prints, exclusive vinyl versions of the remastered album cut at half speed across 2LPs in an exclusive gatefold sleeve, an LP of home recordings in a hand-stamped white label sleeve, and “The Ballad of the Skeletons” – Paul’s 1996 collaboration with Allen Ginsberg, also featuring Philip Glass and Lenny Kaye – released for the first time on vinyl and cut at 45 RPM with vinyl etching and poster.

Flaming Pie is also available on 180g black vinyl 2LP, 3LP, CD, Deluxe formats, as well as digitally on streaming platforms. Paul will reissue ‘Flaming Pie’ on 31st July 2020 as the thirteenth installment of his GRAMMY Award-winning Archive Collection.