Posts Tagged ‘The Rolling Stones’

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After being forced to postpone their ‘No Filter’ North American tour due to Mick Jagger’s heart surgery, the Rolling Stones kicked off their 2019 summer trek last night (June 21st) with a performance at Soldier Field in Chicago. 

They band had to shake off some understandable early-show rust and sound issues. Jagger even admitted that first nights are always “a little wobbly,” then proved it by forgetting to introduce longtime keyboardist Chuck Leavell, but he otherwise showed no signs that he was about to turn 75 in a month and had heart surgery two months ago. He was his usual energetic self, strutting across the stage, including the long walkway down the center and two shorter ones on the sides, throughout the entire show. The closest he came to acknowledging his health issues was saying that they loved Chicago so much that they decided to open here instead of Miami.

But the band found their groove after a stripped down mid-show set at the end of the center walkway, similar to the mini-stage on the Bridges to Babylon tour, and they finished with strong takes on “Midnight Rambler,” “Start Me Up,” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”

The set design was surprisingly stripped back. The elaborate concepts of the past ( the Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle and Voodoo Lounge sets) were replaced by four tall, rectangular video screens, with the outer ones angled to give those on the sides a better view. The only other adornment was a clear canopy over the stage, presumably in case of the rain that was expected, but never got beyond a drizzle before they took the stage. It was almost, to use a word rarely applied to the Stones, elegant. ‘Street Fighting Man’ was the first anthem for the Rolling Stones first show of the No Filter 2019 tour in Chicago.

The Rolling Stones had originally scheduled touring around the April release of their latest “Honk” compilation album. The band was forced to postpone the previously announced dates while Jagger dealt with health issues. The frontman required “minimally invasive” heart surgery, with tour plans left on hold while he recovered. At the time, Jagger expressed frustration that his medical matters had interfered with touring, saying he was “so sorry to all our fans in America & Canada with tickets. I really hate letting you down like this. I’m devastated for having to postpone the tour but I will be working very hard to be back on the road as soon as I can.”

Then, of course, there’s the discussion of new music. The Stones have not released an album of new material since 2005 (2016’s Blue & Lonesome which was a covers album). Jagger previously said he had “lots of stuff” for a new release, with Keith Richards even suggesting that a new Stones LP could come out in 2019. What affect Jagger’s medical issues have had on the creative process is anyone’s guess, but fans remain hopeful that a new album will see the light of day soon.

While the Stones may not be thinking about retiring, their sponsor believes fans should be. The Alliance for Lifetime Income, a non-profit aimed at helping people financially plan for their retirement, is the sole sponsor of the ‘No Filter’ North American tour.

In May, Jagger posted a video of himself dancing in front of a studio mirror, building fan excitement that the frontman was once again performance-ready. Indeed, just a day later the band announced their rescheduled ‘No Filter’ dates. The trek will keep the band busy through the end of August.

The Rolling Stones setlist: Chicago, 21st June 2019

Street Fighting Man (from Beggars Banquet, 1968)
Let’s Spend The Night Together (from Between the Buttons, 1967)
Tumbling Dice (from Exile on Main Street, 1972)
Sad Sad Sad (from Steel Wheels, 1989)
Ride ‘Em On Down (from Blue and Lonesome, 2016)
You Got Me Rocking (from Voodoo Lounge, 1994)
Angie (from Goats Head Soup, 1973)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want (from Let It Bleed, 1969)
Sympathy for the Devil (from Beggars Banquet, 1968)
Honky Tonk Women (single, 1969)
You Got The Silver (from Let It Bleed, 1969)
Before They Make Me Run (from Some Girls, 1978)
Miss You (from Some Girls, 1978)
Paint It Black (from Aftermath, 1966)
Midnight Rambler (from Let It Bleed, 1969)
Jumpin’ Jack Flash (single, 1968)
Brown Sugar (from Sticky Fingers, 1971)

Gimme Shelter (from Let It Bleed, 1969)
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (from Out of our Heads, 1965)

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For over two decades, “The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus” was a lost film, unfinished and unseen, more rumor than pop culture memory. In theory, it captured a lot of what anyone might desire in a rock ‘n’ roll movie from London circa 1968: the Stones, the Who, John Lennon, Eric Clapton and more.

On a sound stage designed like the inside of a circus big top, each of the musicians performed at the height of their powers while mingling with trapeze artists, fire-eaters and other semi-dazzling acts from a traveling circus. “The clowns and the Rolling Stones got along very well,” recalls the film’s director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, 78.

Yet the film’s planned television premiere was delayed indefinitely for one reason: The Stones thought the Who’s performance was better.

It took 28 years, but the Stones came around in time for Lindsay-Hogg to finish the legendary rock film for a 1996 premiere at the New York Film Festival and release on home video. “You had these little explosions of greatness in the room,” says Lindsay-Hogg of the two-day shoot, “and the Rolling Stones recognized that.”

Now, in time for the North American leg of the Stones’ ongoing No Filter Tour, “Circus” has been remastered for a limited U.S. theatrical run during the first week of April. Last week, Lindsay-Hogg, who now lives in Los Angeles, attended a private screening in Hollywood of the film, recast in vivid Dolby Vision color and Dolby Atmos sound.

“I was thrilled by it anew, which I hadn’t been for a long time,” says Lindsay-Hogg, whose career began in England as director on the ’60s music show “Ready Steady Go!,” where the camerawork could be as frenzied as the acts onstage.

He also directed music videos for the Stones, Beatles and the Who, and made the intimate Beatles documentary “Let It Be.” In the pipeline is a long-awaited restoration of the 1970 Beatles film, which will follow an entirely new film being assembled from the same 55 hours of footage by New Zealand director Peter Jackson. Attending the “Circus” screening was Brett Morgen, director of 2015’s acclaimed “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” and his own Stones documentary, 2012’s “Crossfire Hurricane.” In an onstage Q&A with Lindsay-Hogg following the film, Morgen celebrated the filmmaker’s essential work with these epochal musical figures.

“The man defined the image that so many of us have of the Stones and the Beatles,” Morgen said in an interview with The Times. “He created a new language. You look at the ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ video and what he did is as innovative as what Busby Berkeley did to the musical.”

In “Circus,” the Stones performed several songs from the just-completed “Beggar’s Banquet,” the first of four consecutive album milestones that defined the band’s greatest work. There was also Lennon leading a supergroup he called the Dirty Mac, with Eric Clapton on guitar, Keith Richards on bass, and drummer Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience performing a new Beatles song, “Yer Blues.” Yoko Ono then joined for an improvisational jam. Other performers included Marianne Faithfull, Taj Mahal and Jethro Tull. The Who’s playful reading of the mini-rock opera “A Quick One While He’s Away” was close to perfect. Jagger had personally invited all of them.

“In those days, rock ‘n’ roll bands would arrive late. You’d schedule something for 1 and they’d arrive at 4,” recalls Lindsay-Hogg. “But on this particular day, because they all respected each other, everybody was on time.”

A London sound stage was rented and Lindsay-Hogg hired the best camera operators from “Ready Steady Go!” The production also used experimental cameras from France, which shot both 16mm film and provided a video feed to the control room. Aside from having to change film canisters every 10 minutes, the new cameras frequently stopped working. “When one of the cameras had broken down for the 11th time that day, we had a little break,” the director recalls. The musicians would then retreat to their dressing rooms. “I went backstage to see how everybody was, and they were all sitting in a room – John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton – playing blues on guitar and harmonica. Keith Moon was playing spoons on a table.”

The Stones didn’t get onstage to perform until 2 a.m. It was the final live appearance of guitarist Brian Jones, dazed and fading from drug abuse, but still able to re-create his heartbreaking slide guitar lines on “No Expectations.”

Within months of filming, Jones left the band and drowned soon after. Jagger went to Australia to star in “Ned Kelly.” Lindsay-Hogg traveled to California to work on a film. The momentum of the era pushed its participants forward, but somehow left “Circus” behind until the footage was rediscovered in the ’90s.

Lindsay-Hogg continued working with the Stones through the early 1980s, directing several music videos, from “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)” to “Waiting on a Friend.” He turned his attention to feature films, TV specials and directing theater, though he remains friendly with the Stones. “We knew each other when we were kids,” he says now. “It wasn’t my nature to hang ’round if I didn’t have to. In a funny way, I think they respected that. I was happy to just be working with them.”

“Bridges To Bremen” is a full-length show performed by the Rolling Stones on the fifth and final leg of the Bridges To Babylon Tour. Filmed at the German city’s Weserstadion on September 2nd, 1998, the band had by then completed four legs in the stadiums and arenas of North America (twice), Asia and South America before finally landing in Europe early that summer. Ever the innovators, Bridges To Babylon was a tour of firsts – the first time the band went on the road with a permanent B-stage, and also the first time where fans could vote on the band’s website for a track they wanted to hear at the show – “Memory Motel” in the case of the Bremen fans. This concert film has been meticulously restored from the original masters, and the audio remixed and remastered from the live multitrack recordings. Four tracks from their Soldier Field performances in Chicago are included as bonus features. Eagle Vision’s SD Blu-ray range presents upscaled standard definition original material with uncompressed stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound for the best possible quality.

1998 concert film • Remixed audio • Restored visuals • Surround sound • 2CD+Blu-ray, 3LP vinyl + more formats

In terms of audio and picture quality, it sounds promising, since Eagle Vision state that the film has been “meticulously restored from the original masters” while the audio has been remixed and remastered from the live multitrack recordings. Remember, even though this is offered on blu-ray, this isn’t full HD but ‘upscaled standard definition’. In terms of sound, we get uncompressed stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound.

Bridges to Bremen will be released on 21st June 2019.

The Rolling Stones will release a new best-of compilation LP, Honk, on April 19th via Polydor/Interscope. The career-spanning project is available as a single-CD and 2-LP edition featuring 20 songs, along with a deluxe 3-CD/4-LP set with 46 cuts.

Both versions boast eight top 10 singles (“Brown Sugar,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Angie,” “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” “Fool to Cry,” “Miss You,” “Emotional Rescue” and “Start Me Up”), along with classic album cuts (1971’s “Bitch,” 1973’s “Dancing With Mr. D”) and material from the band’s most recent studio record, 2016’s Blue & Lonesome. The deluxe package includes a full disc of 10 live tracks recorded during the band’s recent stadium tours — several guests appear, including Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl (on “Bitch”), Ed Sheeran (“Beast of Burden”), Brad Paisley (“Dead Flowers”) and Florence and the Machine’s Florence Welch (“Wild Horses”).

The Florence Welch-featured “Wild Horses,” which also appears on the single-CD version, is available with pre-orders of the album. They will also release two digital editions of the compilation in North America: the deluxe set at all streaming and download services, and the 20-track set at download services only.

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The Rolling Stones release a special, limited edition of “She’ s A Rainbow” (Live) at U Arena, Paris 25/10/17.

She’s a Rainbow is a song by the Rolling Stones and was featured on their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request. It has been called “the prettiest and most uncharacteristic song that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote for the Stones, although somewhat ambiguous in it’s intention.

The original song includes rich lyricism, vibrant piano by Nicky Hopkins and Brian Jones‘ use of the Mellotron. John Paul Jones, later of Led Zeppelin, arranged the strings of this song during his session days.

Backing vocals were provided by the entire band except for Charlie Watts. Notably, all of the vocals sound like soft background singing with the music overshadowing them to the point of the lyrics being difficult to hear. The lyrics in the chorus share the phrase “she comes in colours” with the song of that title by Love, released in December 1966.

The song begins with the piano playing an ascending scale, which returns throughout the song as a recurring motif. This motif is developed by the celesta and strings in the middle 8. Humorous and ambiguous devices are used, such as when the strings play out-of-tune and off-key towards the end of the song,

In 1986, relations between Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were at an all-time low. The Rolling Stones were on hold while Jagger toured as a solo act behind his 1987 album Primitive Cool, and the two traded endless insults in the press.

So Keith Richards decided to do something he’d always held off on: form his own solo band. The X-Pensive Winos featured an eclectic crew including Waddy Wachtel (Warren Zevon, the Everly Brothers), drummer Steve Jordan (who played with Richards in the Chuck Berry tribute concert film Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll),  bassist-drummer Charley Drayton and keyboardist Ivan Neville.

Recording outside Quebec, the chemistry was clear when they laid down the swaggering opener “Take it So Hard.” “I went back to the house going, ‘we’ve conquered Everest already?’ Wachtel said later. In his autobiography Life, Richards agreed. “There’s no way you can stand in front of the Winos without getting off. It’s a surefire high. It was so hot you could hardly believe it.”

The result was Talk is Cheap, an endearingly ragged classic considered by many fans the best Rolling Stones-related release of the last three decades. From the stomping open-G anthem “Take it So Hard” to the Memphis soul ballad “Make No Mistake,” it captures Richards nailing everything he’s good at – hear the throwback Sun-style in the rocker “I Could Have Stood You Up.”

To celebrate its 30th anniversary on March 29th, the album will finally be reissued as a huge box set that includes the album on CD and vinyl, six unreleased tracks from the sessions and an 80-page book featuring a new interview with Richards. There an even more extravagant “super deluxe” box set that comes in a case that replaces Richards’ guitar case made by the Fender Custom Shop.

“This album holds up,“ Richards said. “I’ve been listening to it and not through the mists of nostalgia either because it doesn’t affect me that way. This is more than the sum of its parts. I really admire it. We were having fun and you can hear it.”

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Mobile recording studios have a longer history than you might think. As early as the 1920s, record companies in both the U.K. and the U.S. were experimenting with location recording, albeit with incredibly primitive equipment. This was the pre-magnetic tape era, after all.

In the U.K., the pioneer was EMI, closely followed by its chief rival, Decca. The purpose, for the most part, was to record live concerts of classical music, and while the equipment changed out of recognition during the following 30 years or so, that purpose remained: to capture live performances.

By the time rock music arrived around the mid ’60s, a new generation of mobile studios appeared that would capture some of the most important recordings of the era. And curiously, most of them were not recordings of live gigs. That was because the mobile studio soon became used as much for the freedom it offered artists to record in domestic locations as for capturing their stage performances.

Digital technology has helped bring about the demise of the mobile truck since the turn of the millennium. Now, artists can of course record on devices as small as an iPad (to name but one famous example, Damon Albarn recorded the Gorillaz album The Fall in just that way). Even if you don’t want to be quite as stripped-down as Albarn, a laptop armed with plugins and a small digital mixer can offer almost as much as a fully fledged mobile studio at far less cost.

However, before the mobile trucks rumbled off into the distance, the freedom they provided in that short period produced some remarkable recordings. Here are six of them.

The Who, Live at Leeds (1970)

This album, still regarded by many critics as the finest live rock LP ever, was originally designed to be Live at Hull and Leeds. It was recorded by the Pye Records mobile on eight-track analogue tape machines installed beneath the auditorium in a cloakroom. At this stage, mobile trucks were used simply to carry recording equipment to a gig. That equipment then had to be removed, assembled, and used in whatever space could be found.

With nothing more than split cables from the vocal, speaker, and drum microphones, the two recordings were plagued with technical problems. Some of the bass track from Hull was lost, and the Leeds concert suffered from crackles, which have caused controversy ever since. Years later, when the crackles were erased using digital wizardry, some fans objected that they removed the authenticity of the recordings.

Originally released as a single six-track vinyl LP, Live At Leeds has since appeared in many incarnations, some with and some without the infamous crackles. The Hull gig recorded the night before (February 13th) has been released, too, with John Entwistle’s missing bass parts replaced with carefully synced recordings from Leeds. There are those who claim that Live At Hull 1970 is even better than the raw and powerful Live At Leeds. They can both be heard on the 40th Anniversary collectors’ edition.

Led Zeppelin, IV (1971)

You could toss a coin over whether Led Zeppelin’s III or IV was the more significant album, but it doesn’t really matter for our purposes—both made very extensive use of the Rolling Stones Mobile (RSM) and were released before two other other landmark RSM recordings, the Stones’ Exile On Main St. and Deep Purple’s Machine Head.

A former 18th-century poorhouse, Headley Grange in Hampshire was the chosen venue, as it had been for much of Zeppelin III. The majestic sound of John Bonham’s drums—sampled a thousand times and still used today—was created in wood-paneled Headley Grange with a pair of distant Neumann condenser mics. It has probably never been equalled.

The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main St. (1972)

Just as The Who’s Live At Leeds is regarded by some as their finest hour, so the Stones’ Exile On Main St. stands as a testament to the band at its peak—even if a wobbly one at times.

In 1970, Mick Jagger bought Stargroves, a country house in Hampshire. The band’s pianist and tour manager, Ian Stewart, suggested that in order to make full use of it, they needed their own mobile studio. This saw the birth of the most famous truck of them all, the Rolling Stones Mobile. It is one of the few things you can use the word legendary about without risk of exaggeration.

Unlike earlier trucks, the Stones Mobile had a control room inside the vehicle, so it really could go anywhere and do almost anything. The band used it to record most of the Sticky Fingers album, and a year later, beset with taxation problems, they decamped to the Villa Nellcôte in the South of France, with the RSM following.

The sessions that followed have become the stuff of rock legend and lore. Beside the technical problems imposed by an unsuitable recording environment—a cramped, damp basement—and compounded by an erratic power supply, the band’s “personal issues” should have made the resulting album a shambles. Indeed, engineer Andy Johns described them as “the worst band in the world” for much of the time. But somehow, in true Stones fashion, what emerged from the chaos was one of rock’s most memorable and charismatic albums. It just reeks of authenticity thanks, at least in part, to the location and the way in which most of it was recorded.

Deep Purple, Machine Head 1972

If Exile On Main St. really put the Stones Mobile on the map, it was Deep Purple who immortalized it in “Smoke On The Water.” The song recalls the night in 1971 when the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland burned down following a gig by Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention.

The plan had been to record the next Deep Purple album in the Casino, but the fire put paid to that. A couple of other venues in the town were hastily found for the recording sessions, which produced, among others, “Smoke On The Water,” the lyrics of which refer to the RSM as “the Rolling truck Stones thing.”

The Who, Quadrophenia 1973

On the face of it, this seems an unlikely album to have emerged from a mobile studio, and in fact it was made at an unlikely location, too. Ronnie Lane’s Mobile (known as the LMS) was parked in Battersea, south-west London for much of the recording of Quadrophenia, in an urban jungle outside a still uncompleted Ramport Studios, which The Who were in the process of building.

Ronnie Lane, the ex-Faces bass player, had chosen an American Airstream trailer for his mobile studio, and Bad Company, Led Zeppelin (notably on Physical Graffiti), Rick Wakeman, and Eric Clapton were just some of the musicians who would make excellent use of it. Of all the British golden-era mobiles, Lane’s was one of the most successful.

Radiohead, OK Computer 1997

There were many impressive albums recorded using mobile studios between The Who’s Live At Leeds in 1970 and Radiohead’s OK Computer in 1997, and there were more mobiles than we have space to include here, among them Jethro Tull’s Maison Rouge, Virgin’s Manor Mobile, and Mickie Most’s RAK.

By the late ’90s, however, the era of the truck was coming to an end—and OK Computer provides fitting mood music. Relatively inexpensive and highly portable digital equipment and computers meant that the need for a large studio on wheels was passing.

In fact, OK Computer wasn’t recorded using a truck at all, but it epitomizes why mobile trucks had been so popular: location recording enabled a band to work at their own pace, in their own way, in an environment completely unlike an essentially sterile fixed-site studio.

For this album, which Rolling Stone described as “the last masterpiece of the alt-rock movement,” Radiohead were given a reputed £100,000 by their record company. Their producer Nigel Goodrich used it to buy recording equipment for use in St Catherine’s Court, a spectacular manor house near Bath in Somerset, owned at the time by actress Jane Seymour. In the same way that the natural acoustics of Headley Grange helped Led Zeppelin achieve astonishing looseness, vitality, and depth, so St Catherine’s Court added its brooding presence to a haunted, dark, and troubled album.

One thing binds together the albums featured here: none of them could have been made in a traditional fixed-location recording studio. In the case of recordings of gigs, it’s obvious why that should be. But a common quality shared by the albums featured here is the live ambience of an environment that wasn’t carefully designed to sound neutral. In the age of Pro Tools sameness, that is definitely something to be cherished.

There is another angle, too. Musicians often complain that “clocking in” to record every day is too much like going to work, especially in a traditional city-center studio. In a residential location, they can not only experiment with different sounds but also socialize and make music in a freer and more creative way. You may not be able to quantify that.

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The big records releases from Kurt Vile, John Grant, St Vincent and at last The Lucid Dream plus loads of fantastic reissues from Mute and Dark Entries (that Eric Random is amazing) and the next David Bowie box set. Among new artists with records you should be listening too goes to Anna St. Louis, I have to say that I hadn’t heard her before but when I saw the press release compare her to Loretta Lynn, Townes Van Zandt and John Fahey I had to give it a spin. It is sooooooo good. Easily eyeing up a top spot in our albums of the year list. Its one of those records that everyone asks who it is when you hear a song, each track gets better as it goes along until when the album finishes you have just got to stick it straight back on.
I love records that are a surprise and I think you will love it too.

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St. Vincent – Masseducation

A year on (to the week) from the release of the critically acclaimed Masseduction album, St. Vincent releases re-imagined piano versions of the album. Performed with Thomas Bartlett over two days in a studio in Midtown Manhattan, August 2017.

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Kurt Vile – Bottle It In

Kurt Vile is back with his first record in three years, the eclectic and electrifying Bottle It In, which he recorded at various studios around America over two very busy years, during sessions that usually punctuated the ends of long tours or family road trips.

Every song, whether it’s a concise and catchy pop composition or a sprawling guitar epic, becomes a journey unto itself, taking unexpected detours, circuitous melodic avenues, or open-highway solos. If Vile has become something of a rock guitar god—a mantle he would dismiss out of humility but also out of a desire to keep getting better, to continue absorbing new music, new sounds, new ideas—it’s due to his precise, witty playing style, which turns every riff and rhythm into points on a map and takes the scenic route from one to the next.

Using past albums as points of departure, Bottle It In heads off in new directions, pushing at the edges of the map into unexplored territory: Here be monster jams. These songs show an artist who is still evolving and growing: a songwriter who, like his hero John Prine, can make you laugh and break your heart, often in the same line, as well as a vocalist who essentially rewrites those songs whenever he sings them in his wise, laconic jive-talkin’ drawl. He revels in the minutiae of the music— not simply incorporating new instruments but emphasizing how they interact with his guitar and voice, how the glockenspiel evokes cirrocumulus clouds on Hysteria, how Kim Gordon’s “acoustic guitar distortion” (her term) engulfs everything at the end of Mutinies, how the banjo curls around his guitar lines and backing vocals from Lucius to lend a high-lonesome aura to Come Again.

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John Grant  –  Love Is Magic

With his fourth solo album, Love Is Magic, Grant has continued evolving, creating his most electronic record yet.

In collaboration with Benge (Ben Edwards), analogue synth expert / collector and a member of electronic trio Wrangler, Grant’s collaborators earlier this year under the collective name of Creep Show on the album Mr Dynamite. Anyone familiar with Grant’s story will recognise his battles – with addiction and health, with trusting love and relationships. From this turbulence he’s forged another riveting collection of often brutal diatribes and confessionals, where humour, fear, anxiety and anger overlap as Grant, with trademark candour, figuratively exposes the machinations of his saturated brain. It’s epitomised by the album’s brilliant opener Metamorphosis, almost as if his warring psyches are facing up to one another, as impervious synth-pop and brain-on-fire imagery (“Tiki bar, rat soufflé, Buik regal, Marvin Gaye”) melts into dream-ballad introspection (“Questions left unanswered, spiritual extortion”) and back to synth-backed mania. The magic of love pervades in two gorgeous, magisterial ballads toward the end of the album,Is He Strange and The Common Snipe – referring to the wader bird that makes a unique ‘bleating’ sound by rubbing its tailfeathers together.

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David Bowie  –  Loving the Alien (1983 – 1988)

The box contains newly remastered versions of David’s most commercially successful period Let’s Dance, Tonight, Never Let Me Down (Original and 2018 Versions), the live album Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87)’, the previously unreleasedSerious Moonlight live album, a collection of original remixes entitled Dance and the non-album / alternate version / b-sides and soundtrack music compilation Re:Call 4. The highlight of this latest box is the brand new production of the 1987 album Never Let Me Down by Bowie producer / engineer Mario McNulty with new instrumentation by Bowie collaborators Reeves Gabrels (guitar), David Torn (guitar), Sterling Campbell (drums), Tim Lefebvre (bass) as well as string quartet with arrangements by Nico Muhly and a guest cameo by Laurie Anderson on Shining Star (Makin’ My Love). The seeds of this new reimagining of the albums were first sown in 2008 when David asked Mario McNulty to remix the track Time Will Crawl and record new drums by longtime Bowie drummer, Sterling Campbell along with strings. The track was issued on the iSelect compilation to much acclaim, and in the notes, for that record, David remarked ‘Oh, to redo the rest of that album’. The new re-workings have revealed Never Let Me Down as a very strong collection of songs with a dark thematic thread running through them. Fans listening to Never Let Me Down (2018)would be forgiven for thinking that they were listening to a brand new ‘lost’ Bowie record. Also in each box is the never before released Serious Moonlight live album recorded in Montreal in 1983. Originally mixed at the time by Bob Clearmountain, the double album captures Bowie on what at that time was his most successful tour. The artwork features shots taken by photographer Denis O’Regan. Exclusive to each box is Re:Call 4 and Dance. The former a new compilation featuring remastered contemporary single versions, non-album singles, album edits, b-sides and songs featured on soundtracks such as Labyrinth, Absolute Beginners and When The Wind Blows. Dance features 12 contemporaneous remixes some of which are appearing on CD and vinyl for the first time and is named after an unreleased Bowie remix album that was originally slated for release in November 1985. The box set’s accompanying 128 page book features rarely seen and previously unpublished photos by photographers including Denis O’Regan, Greg Gorman, Herb Ritts and many others as well as historical press reviews and technical notes about the albums from producers / engineers Nile Rodgers, Hugh Padgham, Mario McNulty and Justin Shirley-Smith.

11CD – The CD box set includes faithfully reproduced mini-vinyl versions of the original albums, and the CDs are gold coloured rather than the usual silver. Includes 128 Page hardback book. Let’s Dance (remastered) (1CD) Serious Moonlight (Live ’83) (previously unreleased) (2CD) Tonight (remastered) (1CD) Never Let Me Down (remastered) (1CD) Never Let Me Down 2018(previously unreleased) (1CD)* Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87) (2CD) Dance (1CD)* Re:Call 4(non-album singles, edits, single versions, b-sides and soundtrack music) (remastered) (2CD)*

* Exclusive to Loving The Alien (1983-1988)

15LP – LP Box Set includes a 88 Page hardback book. Let’s Dance (remastered) (1LP) Serious Moonlight (Live ’83) (previously unreleased) (2LP)* Tonight(remastered) (1LP) Never Let Me Down (remastered) (1LP) Never Let Me Down (2018) (previously unreleased) (2LP – side 4 is etched)* Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87) (previously unreleased on vinyl) (3LP)* Dance(2LP)* Re:Call 4 (non-album singles, edits, single versions, b-sides and soundtrack music) (remastered) (3LP)*

* Exclusive to Loving The Alien (1983-1988) LP box.

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Primal Scream  –  Give Out But Don’t Give Up – The Original Memphis Recordings

In 1993 Primal Scream went to Memphis to make an album with Tom Dowd and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, that album never saw the light of day, until now. Following the recent discovery of these tracks in a box lurking in Andrew Innes’ basement, Primal Scream release the original studio recordings from Memphis of the tracks that eventually became their 1994 album Give Out But Don’t Give Up. Teaming up with legendary producer Tom Dowd and the Muscle Shoals rhythm section of David Hood (bass) and Roger Hawkins (drums) at Ardent Studios in Memphis, the resulting recordings from those classic sessions showcase the more country soul, rock’n’roll side to a band who continue to surprise. It’s Primal Scream as you’ve never heard them before. Dowd’s deft production, coupled with the merging of this sublime rhythm section and one of the UK’s best ever bands, led to the creation of nine glorious tracks that run the gamut between blues, gospel and brilliant songwriting, available for the first time.

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Elvis Costello and The Imposters  –  Look Now

Costello returns with his first new collection of songs since his Wise Up Ghost collaboration with The Roots in 2013. It features The Imposters (bassist Davey Faragher along with original Attractions members, drummer Pete Thomas and keyboardist Steve Nieve). The album was co produced by Costello with Latin Grammys winner Sebastian Krys. Two standout tracks are Under Lime and Unwanted Number. The former is a spry, heavily textured pop rocker with Beatles-esque harmonies and horn arrangements on which Costello sings, “It’s a long way down from that high horse you’re on.” The latter is more low-key and boasts a soul groove and lush backup vocals, which allows Costello to belt lyrics about enduring a sour relationship. “I knew if we could make an album with the scope of Imperial Bedroom and some of the beauty and emotion of Painted From Memory, we would really have something,” Costello said in a statement, referring to the 1982 album he recently revisited on the road and his collaboration with songwriter Burt Bacharach. Bacharach co-wrote a few songs on Look Now, and sat in on piano with the Imposters on two of them, Don’t Look Now and Photographs Can Lie. Costello wrote another Look Now song, Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter, with Carole King.

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Arc Iris – Icon of Ego

Arc Iris releases Icon Of Ego, its third groundbreaking album, as a trio that packs the heft of a far bigger band with fully realized sonic and visual intensity. On this latest album, vocalist / guitarist Jocie Adams, keyboardist / sample artist Zach Tenorio-Miller and drummer Ray Belli have crafted a vividly expressionistic new album that reflects both the group’s protean talents as well as its journey of survival. After its self-named 2014 debut on the nti- label, Arc Iris achieved critical acclaim, along with tours with St. Vincent and Jeff Tweedy and festivals like Bonnaroo followed. Within two years, the band self-released Moon Saloon in the US while Bella Union released the album in Europe. Tours supporting Kimbra, Gene Ween, and a complete re-imagination of Joni
Mitchell’s Blue performed at Washington’s Kennedy Center followed, which added to a growing, international fan base that has remained dedicated throughout.Icon of Ego finds a stronger, more experienced band. Recording at Providence’s Columbus Theater, home to silent movies and vaudeville during the ’20s, the band has evolved into a concentrated pop-prog explosion, mixing styles with disparate elements that captivate and surprise. With heavy synthesizer work by Tenorio and Adams, and seemingly impossible transitions executed effortlessly by Belli, the songs here carry a thick, analog electronic sound that harks back to the ’70s. Presiding over these are Adams’ powerful vocals that house the energy under pop forms.

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The Lucid Dream – Actualisation

The Lucid Dream return with the release of their 4th album, Actualisation. Driven by fans raising £10,000 to help replace all equipment robbed after a Paris show in early 2017, a new album became the instant focus in the summer of 2017 for a rejuvenated The Lucid Dream. Actualisation is soaked in the influence of acid house, amalgamated with dub and kosmische. The album was penned over the summer of 2017 by Mark Emmerson (vocals/guitar/synths), using only the classic Roland 303/808 synths, bass and vocals as tools for writing. Inspiration for the writing was formed via continuous listening to the Chicago to UK acid house works of 1986-1992, the focus predominantly on the groove. Several months on from those writing sessions and The Lucid Dream have completed their 4th album in 5 years. A record made for the dancefloor. Recorded at Whitewood Studios, Liverpool, with Rob Whiteley, the album is produced alongside long-time collaborator Ross Halden (Ghost Town Studios, Leeds), with mastering via Dean Honer (All Seeing I/I Monster/The Moonlandingz). The confrontational techno-punk of Alone In Fear opens the album, a 9-minute attack fuelled by the frustration and anger spawned by Brexit, government and a realisation of what 2018 Britain currently is. Recent single SX1000 (the first work from the album, unveiled via 12′ vinyl in April this year) is the band’s first move into pure acid house. The acid house fusion runs throughout the record, represented furthermore by Ardency, a track already praised by live critics when aired live for the first time earlier this year as ‘even on first hearing, would’ve raised the roof of The Hacienda’. The 2-part opus of Zenith follows, commencing with a space-dub / house instrumental groove before building into a track that will go for your head as much as your hips. Only Breakdown harks back to sounds of old for the band, a little reminder of the skull-crushing impact they can make when stripped to the bare bones. No Sunlight Dub closes the album, a dark-dub that invites the classic acid-house tool (Roland 808) into the dub. The track makes a stop-off into drum ‘n’ bass / jungle along the way before rounding up in a manner suited to Lee Perry, King Tubby, Augustus Pablo and other Jamaican greats.

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Anna St Louis  –  If Only There Was a River

If Only There Was A River is the first full-length studio album from Anna St. Louis. The songwriter, who originally hails from Kansas City, began writing songs after moving to Los Angeles five years ago and has previously released a cassette of recordings on Woodsist / Mare Records, appropriately titled First Songs. On her proper debut, St. Louis spreads her wings and expands on the promise hinted at on First Songs. To achieve that end, she enlisted Kyle Thomas (King Tuff) and Kevin Morby to produce the album, which was engineered by Thomas in his home in Mount Washington, LA. The collection of eleven songs also features Justin Sullivan (Night Shop) on drums and multi-instrumentalist Oliver Hill (Pavo Pavo). While hints of influences like Loretta Lynn, John Fahey and Townes Van Zandt peek out of the corners of the songs, this album is not a nostalgic affair. Rather it marks the emergence of an artist fully coming into their own.

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The KVB  –  Only Now Forever

The KVB release their sixth album, entitled Only Now Forever via Invada Records. Whilst holding evident inspiration from previous times, the sound this London-founded duo present is progressive and distinctly new in every sense. Idyllic at times; gritty in others, each bar is as enchanting as the last, leaving you in a melancholic trance. Offering poignant lyricism that explores modern anxieties that plague many, the duo manage to imbue feelings of empowerment, fighting such struggles with a deceivingly sanguine sound. This seamless juxtaposition is perhaps their best trait. Will appeal to fans of Depeche Mode, The Soft Moon, New Order, Nine Inch Nails and My Bloody Valentine.

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The KVB  –  Of Desire

The fifth album from UK darkwave duo The KVB is released on Invada Records. Of Desire is Kat Day and Nicholas Wood’s second release on Portishead member Geoff Barrow’s Bristol-based label. It follows a string of releases for operations like Downwards, Minimal Wave sublabel Cititrax and Ukraine’s ~taqueOT, most of which explored a moody shoegaze aesthetic. The recording of In Deep saw the The KVB raid Portishead and BEAK> man Geoff Barrow’s synth collection, as well as roping in Sonic Boom to master it. Their most fully formed record and considered in terms of dynamics, arrangements and instrumentation, taking in influences such as Death In Vegas, Scott Walker and Roxy Music, The KVB have managed to create something that is at once familiar and yet inventive and original.

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Cocteau Twins – Treasure Hiding: The Fontana Years

There was perhaps a sense, after a while, that the world was taking The Cocteau Twins for granted. Late Eighties reviews had routinely described them as The Voice of God, yet 4AD, concerned that we’d get tired of appreciating the rarefied genius which shimmered in front of our noses, would keep reminding us that they were truly special. The irony was that The Cocteaus were themselves evolving, morphing, reconstituting and taking on new shapes. This wasn’t widely registered at the time. It can be now, as The Fontana Years demonstrates a musical marvel which still makes your ears feel like they’re sucking citrus fruits after years of licking ashtrays, while the rings of Saturn crash-land in your front room. This 4-CD set brings together the two albums the band recorded for Fontana along with B-Sides, EP’s, Radio One sessions and the odd rarity. The set was mastered at Abbey Road from the original tapes and approved by Robin Guthrie. Housed in a study box designed by James Issacs – the booklet contains photos a discography from the era as well as a sleeve note by noted author Chris Roberts.

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Beta Band  –  The Three Eps (20th Anniversary Remaster)

Arguably one of the most acclaimed and loved bands of the past 20 years, by both fans and their musical peers alike, The Beta Band formed in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1996. Innovative and singular, their unique musical and aesthetic approach to everything they did set them far apart from their musical contemporaries. Together for a relatively short period of time, the three albums and three EPs they released between 1996 and 2004 would nonetheless help define them as one of the most exciting and cherished bands of their generation. After acquiring the Beta Band’s catalogue last year, Because Music reissue their releases, with a double vinyl edition featuring the EPs Champion Versions, The Patty Patty Soundand Los Amigos Del Beta Bandidos with remastered tracks and coloured vinyls, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1998 compilation.

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Tokyo Police Club  – TPC

If the universe had tilted the tiniest bit, there would be no TPC – the not-quite self-titled fourth (and best) Tokyo Police Club album. By 2016, singer-bassist and chief songwriter Dave Monks had settled into life in New York City; he made a solo record and did some co-writing. Drummer Greg Alsop was living and working in L.A. Keyboard player Graham Wright and guitarist Josh Hook remained in the band’s native Canada. Tokyo Police Club created songs via e-mail, thinking they had enough natural chemistry and experience to make that setup work. But eventually, the lack of friction meant there was less musical spark, and it dawned on everybody that the end was near. There was resignation, not anger, when Wright, Alsop, and Hook told Monks they were done with the band. After putting aside the idea of splitting up and back-burnering their commercial expectations, there was just one thing left to do: go to church. Specifically a church in rural Ontario, where the foursome could recapture the energy of their early years by playing in a room together. Songs that Monks had written were abandoned when they didn’t feel right for this new energy, and TPC started to take shape, built on camaraderie and esprit de corps.

Monks’ friends could once again help shape his songs into TPC songs, and the batch that ended up on the record aren’t quite like anything they’d done before. Album opener New Blues signals that Tokyo Police Club doesn’t need a racing tempo to introduce themselves; Pigs takes a sneering look at record-business politics; Simple Dude is unabashedly horny. Not giving a fuck—or, more accurately, only giving a fuck about those things closest to your heart—paid off. It’s the channeling of energy, which flows into every song on TPC, that makes the record their best. They’re through being cool, through doubting themselves, and through wasting time on ancillary things. TPC is self-titled, almost, because it’s Tokyo Police Club circa 2018—scarred but smarter, fully re-energized.

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Peter Holsapple vs Alex Chilton – The Death Of Rock

Newly discovered recordings of early solo Peter Holsapple and Like Flies On Sherbert–era Alex Chilton. Liner notes by Peter Holsapple and author / filmmaker, Robert Gordon. Previously unseen photos from the collections of Peter Holsapple and Pat Rainer. It’s 1978 at Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis, TN. Peter Holsapple had rolled into town chasing the essence of Big Star. He hooked up with musician / engineer / friend-of-Big-Star, Richard Rosebrough after approaching, and being turned down by, Chris Bell who Holsapple had hoped might be interested in producing him. Together Richard and Peter started laying down tracks during the off hours at the studio. Chilton meanwhile, was knee deep in the making ofLike Flies On Sherbert, also being tracked at Phillips. He told Peter, “I heard some of that stuff you’re working on with Richard . . . and it really sucks.” Alex promised to come by and show Peter “how it’s done.” The results? Alex’s tracks definitely line up with the chaos found on Flies, while several of Peter’s songs found homes on The dB’s albums (Bad Reputationand We Were Happy There) and on an album by The Troggs (The Death Of Rock retooled as I’m In Control), so not a loss at all. What we have in these newly discovered tapes, is a fascinating pivot point with both artists moving past each other headed in distinctly different directions. Chilton moved toward punk/psychobilly as he began playing with Tav Falco’s Panther Burns and produced The Cramps debut, Songs The Lord Taught Us, within a few months of these recordings. Holsapple was off to New York to audition for The dB’s and enter the world of “sweet pop.” Liner notes by Peter Holsapple tell the story of these recordings firsthand and author / filmmaker / Memphian, Robert Gordon, helps pull the time and place into focus. Previously unseen photos included in the package are drawn from the collections of Peter Holsapple and Pat Rainer. Produced by Cheryl Pawelski with mastering by Mike Graves at Osiris Studio and Jeff Powell at Take Out Vinyl / Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis, who brings it all right back to where it started.

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John Hiatt  –  The Eclipse Sessions

The Eclipse Sessions, John Hiatt’s newest album, offers up his strongest set of songs in years. Long celebrated as a skilled storyteller and keen observer of life’s twists and turns, Hiatt can get at the heart of a knotty emotion or a moment in time with just a sharp, incisive lyric or witty turn of phrase. The 11 tracks presented in The Eclipse Sessions, from the breezy opener Cry To Meto the stark Nothing In My Heart, the lost-love lamentation Aces Up Your Sleeve to the rollicking Poor Imitation Of God, demonstrate that the singer-songwriter, now 66, is only getting better with age, his guitar playing more rugged and rootsy, his words wiser and more wry. Hiatt goes all in with The Eclipse Sessions. There’s a grit to these songs – a craggy, perfectly-imperfect quality that colours every aspect of the performances, right down to Hiatt’s vocals, which are quite possibly his most raw and expressive to date. “They ain’t pretty, that’s for sure,” he says about the creaks and cracks that punctuate his phrases in songs like Poor Imitation Of God and One Stiff Breeze. “But I don’t mind a bit. All the catches and the glitches and the gruffness, that sounds right to me. That sounds like who I am.” The Eclipse Sessions is the sound of an artist not only living in but also capturing the moment.

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Spacemen 3 – Forged Prescriptions

Forged Prescriptions is a double album by Spacemen 3, containing alternative takes and demo versions of songs from their album The Perfect Prescription, plus some previously unreleased tracks. In his liner notes

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Jeff Buckley –  Live In Pilton UK, June 24, 1995

Recorded in Pilton, Somerset, England at the legendary Glastonbury Festival – running nearly 50 years now, since 1970 – on June 24, 1995, this is one of Jeff Buckley’s most famous live recordings. Raw, heavy, heartfelt, and deeply emotional, the set is comprised almost entirely of Buckley originals, mostly off of 1994’s Grace as well as one unreleased track and an unexpected cover of the MC5. Required live listening for any fan of this great 90s artist gone way too soon, who left only a small but nearly perfect legacy of recorded music.

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The Rolling Stones – The BBC Sessions 1963-1965

Amazing early live BBC recordings from The Rolling Stones, even including recordings made before the release of their first record. Essential stuff for any fan of the greatest rock and roll group of all-time, including a ton of their great early R&B and blues cover versions! Including early Stones classic covers like Memphis, TN, It’s All Over Now, and Hi-Heel Sneakers, this is a party on wax. Nothing beats early Stones with Mick and Keith wailing and the band as amped up as they ever were! Classic.

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Small Faces – The BBC Sessions 1965-1966

Collecting some of their earliest BBC sessions onto one disc this is Steve Marriott and his Small Faces at their absolute rocking R&B rave up best. Featuring classic originals like Watcha Gonna Do About It, E Too D, and Understanding, as well as killer covers of Motown and Otis Redding, this set is guaranteed to get you go-go’ing on the dancefloor. The greatest UK blue eyed R&B group of all-time at their live best.

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The Kinks – The BBC Sessions 1964-1967

Spanning tracks from the classic 1964 self-titled debut to their 1967 masterpiece Something Else by the Kinks, this collection features nearly two dozen Kinks klassics, recorded live on the BBC. With stunning sound quality and a near perfect group of songs, hear the Davies Bros and Co. at their live, raw best. From the psych-pop brilliance of David Watts to the foot-pounding R&B of All Day And All Of The Night this collection runs the full spectrum of The Kinks’ sound. Essential live cuts from one of the top British Invasion and psychedelic era groups!

This Weeks Releases —-
Anna St. Louis – If Only There Was A River – Woodist
Daniel Brandt – Channels – Erased Tapes (Indie Exclusive)
John Grant – Love Is Magic – Bella Union (Deluxe)
Kurt Vile – Bottle It In – Matador (Indie Exclusive)
Yves Tumor – Safe In The Hands Of Love – Warp
Factory Floor – A Soundtrack For A Film – Heart Of Data (Indie Exclusive)
A Certain Ratio – The Graveyard & The Ballroom – Muts (Indie Exclusive)
Silicon Teens – Music For Parties – Mute
William Basinski & Lawrence English – Selva Oscura – Temporary Residence (Indie Exclusive)
Goatman – Rhythms – Rocket Recordings (Indie Exclusive)
Groundhogs – Blues Obituary – Fire Records (Indie Exclusive)
The Fall – I Am Kurious Orange – Beggars Banquet
Eric Random – A Boy Alone – Dark Entries
Talking Drums – Courage – Dark Entries
Cyrnai – To Subtle Drive – Dark Entries
Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe – Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe – A Recordings
Holger Czukay – Rome Remains Rome – Gronland
Holger Czukay – Der Osten Ist Rot – Gronland
Haley – Pleasureland – Memphis Industries (Indie Exclusive)
Exek – A Casual Assembly – Superior Viaduct

 

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In 1983, the 12” single was not a new thing for The Rolling Stones as they thought enough of the format as far back as 1976 by issuing the promo-only “Hot Stuff”/“Crazy Mama.” Another followed in 1978 in the wake of “Some Girls” with a ‘Special Disco Version’ of “Miss You” suitably lengthened and groove-widened for high steppin’ use. Then in 1980, an extended remix of “Dance (Pt. 1)” took the track and elongated it over two sides as “If I Was A Dancer (Dance Pt.2)”/“Dance (Instrumental Version).” However, all this was trumped by what came next: the dub remix of “Undercover Of The Night”/“Feel On Baby” and the 3-track “Too Much Blood” EP. These were shattering proto-electro clash anomalies replete with stuttering sampling and additional deconstructions that sought to chop up and carve the tracks into a place where few if any of the handful of contemporaries of The Stones’ dared to venture forth — let alone any other Rock bands, period. Even relative newcomers didn’t take things this far: content to leave many of their ‘dub’ or ‘all night version’ B-sides as just slightly longer instrumental versions of their A-sides with little or no modifications. What The Stones did was more iconoclastic than Blondie’s extended mix of “Rapture,” The Clash’s “Radio Clash” EP or even any PIL 12” simply because it WAS The Rolling Stones AND they had far more to lose by embracing pioneering elements that dislocated their sound into the extremities of dance floor sound techniques.

Ever since the eighties, these two Rolling Stones EPs never registered a single positive response from any Stones fan I’d play them for until the needle lifted up. My claim that these two singles were psychedelic because they were so different from what one had come to expect from The Stones were met only with groans and rolled eyes of bored fans that, even during that first full year of the MTV eighties, rejected ‘em outright as merely ‘disco.’ Disco? I ain’t got time for that now! They even poo-poo’ed the accompanying album’s sticker-splattered sleeve, figgering the triangular patch under the crotch of the cover’s otherwise nude model wasn’t gonna be the promised show time and decried it as a last ditch effort for credibility with such a workaday, sub-Warhol device. I’d finally ask ‘Yeah, but you still wanna know what’s underneath, right?’ and then refuse to reveal what was. (Actually, I couldn’t remember except that it was none of the woman’s anatomy, but that wasn’t the issue. I looked while others kept theirs hermetically sealed; Either in the secret hope it would wind up accruing a value greater than or equal to an unpeeled copy of the first VU album, out of boredom or both.)

With MTV already a full blown cultural epidemic, The Stones finally hiked their once-lagging video acumen into high gear with two uncompromising videos for “Undercover Of The Night” and “Too Much Blood.” No longer miming in a rented studio, hiding behind thermograms or hangin’ ‘round the Lower East Side, a quantum leap was made by hiring director Julien Temple which resulted in casting the band in parallel plot developments that yielded something far more inventive that what usually aired on MTV at the time (comprised for the most part by post-apocalyptic dance routines, South Sea island reveries, haunted house scenarios, cheap ‘it-was-only-a-dream’ plot resolutions, amateurish film noir or some other shopworn motif with practically every lyric conspicuously mimed.) Set in nighttime Central American locations, the videos were immediately engaging with violent and humourous twists at every turn while sound effects constantly erupted over the music as an interior channel surfing world continued throughout. In “Undercover Of The Night,” Mick took on the main character roles (natch) and Keith was typecast as an assassin (double natch) while Bill, Charlie and Ronnie fleshed out the background behind their instruments or as masked abductors. The follow up video for “Too Much Blood” was no less disturbing in its depiction of a woman splitting an otherwise quiet evening between being terrorised by blood seeping out from every appliance she touched and intently watching The Stones throw threatening shapes on her (soon bleeding and consequently defenestrated) TV set.

Like the videos, the songs reeked with an unsettling air of oppressive darkness. Even in their un-remixed state, “Undercover Of The Night,” “Feel On Baby” and “Too Much Blood” stuck out from the rest of the “Undercover” album like a sore tongue and were The Stones’ most errantly experimental moves on one album since “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” (Weirdly, the labels on both albums read ‘Front Side’ and ‘Back Side’ stedda plain old ‘Side 1’ and ‘Side 2’.) But despite the fact “Undercover” weren’t experimental all the way through with much of it echoing familiar shades of “Some Girls”/“Emotional Rescue”/“Tattoo You”-styled buffers, the gruesome threesome listed above was an entirely new sound for The Rolling Stones. Burnished with a futuristic gleam by the wonderknobs of long-term Stones co-producer Chris Kimsey, abrupt sampling and FX-upon-everything stabbed throughout while as if in electronic ode to the percussion-inclined nature of their previous work with Jimmy Miller, acoustic and synthesized drums were punched in and out all over the place.

This handiwork carried over with severe application onto two EPs and made those twelve inchers resound with vibrations twelve foot wide, twelve foot deep and twelve foot high. “Undercover Of The Night” featured even more distracting sampled blasts and rattling firecracker snare rolls than on album as they constantly permeated a jagged and slinky funk. The B-side was an authentic dub of “Feel On Baby” that dispensed with the lead vocals altogether in a room full of percussive mirrors with its rebounding bass line the only constant. Then a subsequent 12” saw two separate versions of “Too Much Blood” handled (and mishandled) by a team of outside engineers that made it forget who it was for most of the time as they buffeted it with beats, samples and a whole arsenal of remix materiel while myriad edits revived chunks of sound as punctuation over staccato rhythms with sudden, tightly echoed electronic drums and clap tracking galore. Yet for all the time these proto-techno effects conspired to twist up, rip apart and send flying into oblivion anything that permitted its ejected splinters to be recognisable as ‘The Stones,’ they couldn’t. Because those Volkswagens of Rock’n’Roll were too tough (as they themselves taunted on another song off “Undercover” spared the vicissitudes of remixing) and their base elements were altogether too distinctive and too dirty to destroy or render anonymous.

“Undercover Of the Night”/“Feel On Baby”
Slapping a fake ‘Extended Cheeky Mix’ sticker and Stones tongue over the bare ass on the cover? Nice.

The wide-grooved Euro 12” vinyl of “Undercover Of The Night (Dub Version)” held far clearer audio presentation than its unmixed album counterpart with the original elements reassembled, reshuffled, interrupted and strung out for far longer. The opening machine-gunning electronic snare roll rattles over a red carpet of groove that rolls out fringed with echoed drumming and that ubiquitous dive-bombing guitar blast paired with e-drums that only roughly sounds like ((((“DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-A-A-A-A-OOOUUUWWWGGHH…”)))) but feels like a detonation going off between your ears instead. In the breakdown, four of these samples roar out of nowhere to propel you backwards like the guy on the sofa in the Maxell commercial. Timpani can be heard rumbling innocently in the background during the pressure dropped fade/slight return still intact from the album’s structure only it runs longer, and…Hey, where are the vocals? Oh, there they are: on Jagger’s streecawner “doo-doo, doo, doo, doo-doo”-ing a wordless cockcrowing to bolster the groove. An additional outro instrumental of audible organ, jagged guitar riffs and pounding timpani ensuing right before its conclusion is signalled with a final accent of ((((“DA-DA-DA-DA-DA-A-A-A-A-OOOUUUWWWGGHH…”)))) that impacts into a wall of sickeningly slow echo slapback.

“Feel On Baby” was the isolated reggae move on “Undercover” album. With a groove and inflection displaying a far greater degree of intuition of said Jamaican idiom than “Cherry Oh Baby,” it comes as little surprise that the rhythm section here is none other than drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare. In its filleted form as “Feel On Baby (Instrumental Dub),” the track was stripped back to expose a sinewy lead bass line backlit with African percussion and shorn of all vocalising save the amplified background vocal/gruff repetition of the title by Keith. In a huge and becalmed surrounding, click-clacking contributions from Senegalese percussionaires Moustapha Cisse and Brahms Coundoul alongside Sade sideman Martin Ditcham organically play off Shakespeare’s slow and deliberate bass. Over time, this acoustic and electronic percussion’s electro-dub netting gradually shifts from a weightless hang to a heavy shroud over its jungled rhythm enclosure. Keith’s rhythm guitar drops out, drops in yet always retains its underlined, drop shadowing echo. An organ passage swells overhead far more prominently and longer than on the LP edition, while additional blasts of the same rapid-fire machine gunning e-drums from “Undercover of The Night” reappear to ping-pong from speaker to speaker. Jagger blares out see-sawing harmonica while Richards’ cross-hatching rhythm is gradually displaced by another thicket of e-drum explosions until a single thunderous down stroke from Keef dissipates all except the nighttime cricket percussion that soon settle up and retreat one by one back into the darkened bush.

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“Too Much Blood”
A bloodied and traumatised Jagger pushes his horrified mug forward while Keith stalks in the background with his hollow-bodied axe raised like an avenging angel of death moments before administering a final sacrificial strike.

The “Too Much Blood” EP was a huge production number. Involving an auxiliary of players and arrangers appearing alongside Mick (lead vocals, electric guitars), Keith (guitars) and Stones guitar technician Jim Barber (guitar) it would appear to be Robbie Shakespeare once more on bass with either Sly Dunbar, Charlie Watts or both on drums. The reoccurring brass blasts were blown by Chops, a session horn section whose core members Dave Watson and Darryl Dixon appeared on Parliament’s “Funkentelechy vs. The Placebo Syndrome” and “Trombipulation” LPs as well as albums by P-Funk offshoots Quazar and Mutiny. More recently, their distinctive brass placements had appeared on releases by The Sugarhill Gang and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5. These guys had brass in the pocket, and no less so on “Too Much Blood” with a memorably sharp accenting in the chorus. Also from the ranks of nascent NYC rap culture was former DJ / producer / arranger / programmer / remixer Arthur Baker: a cut-and-paste studio in human form best known at the time for hijacking Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express” into a Bronx-bound subway for Afrika Bambaataa’s sensational single, “Planet Rock.” Assisting Baker were engineers Chris and Tom Lord-Alge, the two-man edit crew of The Latin Rascals alongside trays of electronic scalpels and chainsaws.

The surgery was a success only the patient looked, sounded and danced nothing like he did pre-op. The hotwired remix of “Too Much Blood (Long Dance Version)” was the result of stripping an already spartan track down to its rhythm section, constant hi-hat pulse, three-way guitar crosstalk and horn theme then rethreading it all through a pounding beat with multiple percussive overlays and processing it all through a blender set at Burroughsian cut up. The prime victim of this procedure were Jagger’s vocals, used and re-used alongside a whole additional set of his piquant bon mots, coarse ad-libs and derisive critiques of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. At 12:33 minutes, this version of “Too Much Blood” is too much of everything: a carnival of beats, edits and samples dart in at angles like a nighttime fire fight accompanied by flares constantly popping off overhead. Holographic percussion lays down a near-“Sympathy For The Devil” introduction over Jagger’s opening vocal gambit of “Oh… Oh no…” and oh no is right for stentorian thumping and push-button staggering bursts in all around the 2-ply beats already edging into the original and pushing it off to one side. Its ceaseless production line rhythm stops for nothing even as timbales galore gallop in and out and it’s only when the once familiar horn theme gets super-stuttered, cut away and echoed in the first of many instances of push-button abuse does the beat lurch to any degree — but winds up snapping back to attention every time, anyway. Additional synth lines dart in and out to sew the rhythm up even tighter as edits are jammed in out of nowhere: A synth bass appears to fun/c/k up the proceedings, push button sampling gets stuck on a split-second passage and a squalling public saxophone solos like it never did on the album version. Finally, a clearing is made for Jim Barber to unload chiming guitar riffs that gradually nudge into a solo while Jagger riffs on the sort of thing to be found late night on the Bois de Boulogne:

“Dance with a one-legged woman:
Fifty francs!
Good night…
Sister!”

Suddenly, the plug is pulled and it all grinds down to an echoed halt: But for only several seconds, as the trauma is revived with Jagger intoning into a nighttime jungle clearing before an assembled tribe at the foot of a towering voodoo idol: “Mean-mean-mean-mean-while…back in the jungle…Whoa huh HAHAAHAHAHAHAA…!” Hahahahaha: he got it off David Johansen (who got some off him in the first place, anyway) who in turn picked up a case of it offa The Cadets back in ’55 in a cultural Möbius strip winding back on itself forever — neatly underlined by the percussion track currently zipping by backwards into hyperspace. It parts for the hardfloor stampeding to recommence in air-locked propulsion while the push-button freak-outs make Jagger’s vocals stutter wildly as if he’s traipsing over that red coal carpet of yore. Pounding drums, drums and more drums beat, encircling the rapid rhythmic sampling of Jagger’s cries and yelps. Another edit and flitting synth clusters dance and dart off-beat until a Caribbean percussion squad parachutes into this Junkanoo delirium. The horn theme is punched back in as additional stuff is cut away, inserted and added at a dizzying pace over a swarm of multi-sampled, pitch-controlled vocal samples. Someone pulls the plug a second time, causing fragments of music combined with bits of Jaggered vox e-detritus sampled at several beats per nanosecond to blur, hit the wall and bottom out into dead silence.

The eight minute “Too Much Blood (Dub Version)” see the original vocals scrapped and replaced by newly-recorded adlibs, jibs and jabs from Jagger. In a distant room, the bass line booms over e-drums and beats that crack with digital precision. More Jagger vocal samples whizz by the doubled-up in strength drum beats like flaming shards as his ghostly “Wooo, wooo, wooo…” scans the horizon like searchlights. More primal screams get sampled until a repeated “V-v-v-very v-v-v-very-very fuckin’ funny, Michael!” gets stuck and doesn’t let go. It cuts in over and over until the increasing echo turns it into a veritable conversation with itself and sprays over a wide trajectory. Hugh synth bass solo funks up against sax shrieks as further overlays of repeated vocals and phrases echo at variable speed. Now a long forgotten dream, the horn theme passes by. In pieces. Timbales return and all the while, the hollowed out bass line continues from its position in the furthest studio corridor. Apropos of nothing, Jagger pipes in:

“Werewolf keeps turning into this bleedin’, fuckin’ falcon. What’s it all about, y’know? I mean, give me a fucking break…They can’t fuck because she’s a falcon and he’s a bleedin’ fuckin’ hawk! Well, I mean: they can’t get it on obviously, anyway…er…Y’know: it’s a bit involved…”

So is this remix. It’s a rush hour of edits, beats, echo and percussion until flitting keyboards renter to dance hither, thither and yon to signal the track’s slow corrosion. Jagger’s done roasting “Thriller” and has reverted to wordlessly gitchy-gitchy-ga-ga all over the place in a reverb-treated dub tank. He lets loose two final screams before a tsunami of echo swipes everything mercilessly into silence.

Thus ends the final remixed doppelgänger that hitched a ride to the heart of darkness and almost didn’t return. Then again, maybe they didn’t. The smell of sex…the smell of suicide…All those (dream) things The Stones just couldn’t keep inside…Along with fleshing out a half an hour’s worth of extreme alternative editions of an already reinvented sound hung out on the furthest extremities.

While for some it’s all too easy to dismiss The Stones outright and consign their successes within their huge body of work to that neat and multi-generational/critically-approved ‘65-‘72 era of achievements, anybody who knows and feels what Rock’n’Roll is knows it ain’t that easy — Especially with a group with such a varied catalog of high-calibre low-riders as The Stones. And outside of their keepin’ on keepin’ on for as long as they have, these two remix 12”s mark what may be the Stones’ last truly great experiment. Or at very least: solid evidence of an undying resilience that time has yet to prove to be surpassed by any group.

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Hey, hey – You Got Me Rocking now! The Rolling Stones have just announced details of an archive concert film release – Voodoo Lounge Uncut. Filmed on November 25th 1994 at Miami’s Joe Robbie stadium, this restored, remixed and remastered film contains ten previously unreleased performances and features guest appearances from Sheryl Crow, Robert Cray and Bo Diddley.

On November 16th 2018 Sparks Will Fly, as Voodoo Lounge Uncut will be released on various audio/visual formats, including an exclusive red vinyl triple album and a brand new Voodoo Lounge Uncut t-shirt, only available at rollingstones.com.

This new version also includes five bonus performances on all visual formats, that were not performed in Miami but filmed at an earlier show at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey, making this the definitive record of the Rolling Stones on the road, in the mid-nineties.

The Rolling Stones – Voodoo Lounge Uncut is available to order now