Monday, August 14, 2017
Almost a year after posting my alternate version of this album, Capitol released the oft-talked-about 2017 stereo remix of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And boy has it sure been a controversial release! While critical reception has overall been positive for this new remix, fans are stuck in never-ending debates over the quality of the remix. Does it improve over the original stereo mix? Was this remix even necessary? Was it just a cash-grab? Has anyone here checked the Steve Hoffman music forum? Even today, they're still yelling at each other about this damn remix. So what do I think about this new remix? Eh, it definitely has its moments, that's for sure. I applaud Giles Martin for making the songs more-closely resemble their mono counterparts ("She's Leaving Home" and "Lovely Rita" being the two standout examples). But at other times, these mixes can be quite a little loud at times. It's like the Beatles themselves have set up a large amplifier two inches away from my face and are cutting the tracks right in front of me. And while that certainly would be a dream come true in theory, it just makes for a little bit of a challenge to listen to at points. So, this post today will see my personal reconstruction of my alternate version of Sgt. Pepper's, using what I believe are the best-sounding stereo mixes for each track. For this, I will sourcing tracks from three albums: the 2009 stereo remaster, the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack album from 1999, and the latest 2017 stereo remix. So, how does it sound? Let's find out!
The first track, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help from My Friends", is sourced from the 2017 remix. Previously, the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack mix was definitely the superior mix, but with this new mix, the instruments are evenly spread across the center, left, and right fields. Plus, the bass guitar sound nice and "thumpy"! Next up, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is sourced from the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack. My biggest issue with the 2017 remix is that the iconic organ heard in the intro is mixed quite...oddly. The organ is mixed into the left side of the sound field, except for every third note in the riff, which quickly jumps to the center field. Very odd choice made by Giles, it's quite jarring to listen to in my opinion. Here, the superior Yellow Submarine Soundtrack mix is used, but slowed down by about 2% in order to more closely match the original mono mix. "Penny Lane" is heard here in its 2015 mix, released as part of the 1+ compilation. So yeah, I lied, four sources are actually used here! As with my first post, the infamous "lost trumpet riff" is mixed into the track in its appropriate spot. I originally had this track in-between "Fixing a Hole" and "She's Leaving Home", but I've discovered that putting it after "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" flows much more nicely than before. The next two tracks, "Gettin' Better" and "Fixing a Hole", are both sourced from the 2017 remix. Nothing too off about about them. Maybe the backing vocals in "Gettin' Better" could be a little quieter, but it's not that big of a deal. The harpsichord in "Fixing a Hole" in the 2017 remix sounds great, definitely an improvement by Giles here. The 2017 mix of "She's Leaving Home" is featured next. Probably the best remix of the 2017 re-release IMO. And then comes the most controversial track of the 2017 remix, John Lennon's "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite". Here, the 2017 stereo mix is used, but de-amplified by approximately two decibels. It's a pretty good remix, and captures the "musical acrobat" aspect of the track quite well, it's just too damn loud! Hopefully I've made it quiet enough to prevent hearing loss for you listeners out there ;)
The first tracks of Side B, "Within You Without You", is once again heard here in my unique stereo mix using the stem tracks. These stem tracks were used for The Beatles Rock Band video game in 2009, and were subsequently extracted from the disc are leaked online. Thank God for that! Take note of the reverse echo effect on George's vocal during the chorus, it's quite nice, isn't it? The 2017 mixes of both "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "Lovely Rita" come next. Both are done quite nicely, certainly improvements over their predecessors. "Good Morning Good Morning" is heard here in its 2017 stereo remix. In some ways though, I still sometimes prefer my stereo remix over this one though, especially the added flange to the guitar licks heard in the final verse. I tried to mix them into the 2017 remix, but it just wasn't coming out right. So, I guess the 2017 mix will have to do! I decided to re-pitch the opening rooster crow to its mono speed, I guess it was something that Giles just decided not to bother with! The 2015 1+ stereo mix of "Strawberry Fields Forever" (my favorite Beatles song ever) follows. It's a pretty good mix, though a feel like the mellotron sounds a little low quality. Perhaps it was intentionally done to invoke a sense of nostalgia? I dunno. The 2017 stereo mix of Take 7 of "Strawberry Fields Forever" sounds fantastic though, it's great to finally have my favorite version of my favorite Beatles song in stereo! The penultimate track of the album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)", is featured here in a brand new stereo mix made by myself. This new mix is made to resemble the 2017 mix as closely as possible. Why not just use the 2017 mix then? Because that remix still crossfades directly into "A Day in the Life". I want to keep the two tracks separate from each other in this alternate version, so, my new mix was the answer. Let me know how it sounds, I literally just put it together in the middle of writing of this. The final track, "A Day in the Life", is a combined version of the 2017 mix and the 2006 Love remix (okay, I lied AGAIN - six sources). Like I said earlier, the beginning of "A Day in the Life" is mixed together with the final note/audience SFX of the reprise. So, I used the beginning chords of the Love mix, swapped the stereo channels, and adjusted it from there, so that it matched the 2017 mix as closely as possible. In addition, I decided to use my mix of the final, 40-second long note. There's a cool-sounding electric keyboard overdub heard here that isn't quite as audible on the 2017 mix, so I just simply swapped the two. And then I switch back to the 2017 mix for the infamous "Inner Groove" section, featuring a high-pitched noise, followed by the avant-garde noise collage (are they saying "never could see any other way"?).
Overall though, remixing an album like Sgt. Pepper's, an earning the reception it did, is certainly no easy feat. So I definitely commend Giles Martin for following in his fathers' footsteps. But I guess nothing will ever truly satisfy the fans when it comes to something like stereo remixes. There'll never be a "definitive" mix of Sgt. Pepper's that every single fan will love with an undying passion. But I'd never expect there to be anyways. Enjoy, and look out for more coming soon!
1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help from My Friends (Lennon & McCartney)
2. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (Lennon & McCartney)
3. Penny Lane (Lennon & McCartney)
4. Gettin' Better (Lennon & McCartney)
5. Fixing a Hole(Lennon & McCartney)
6. She's Leaving Home (Lennon & McCartney)
7. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! (Lennon & McCartney)
1. Within You, Without You (George Harrison)
2. When I'm Sixty-Four (Lennon & McCartney)
3. Lovely Rita (Lennon & McCartney)
4. Good Morning Good Morning (Lennon & McCartney)
5. Strawberry Fields Forever (Lennon & McCartney)
6. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (Lennon & McCartney)
7. A Day in the Life (Lennon & McCartney)
Sgt. Peppers (Reprise)/A Day in the Life:
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
On June 30th, the Beach Boys released their fantastic compilation 1967 - Sunshine Tomorrow, featuring the first-ever stereo remix of the Wild Honey album. Also included were various outtakes and unheard tracks, including the long-fabled songs "Honey Get Home" and "Game of Love". While I have recently gone back to make slight updates to the majority of my posts here, I decided two new posts had to be made for both Wild Honey and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, thanks to their recent stereo remixes. Here, the focus is solely on Wild Honey, though Sgt. Pepper will be coming right after. My updated version of Lei'd in Hawaii will also follow shortly after as well.
After the release of Smiley Smile and the cancellation of the Lei'd in Hawaii live album, the Beach Boys had to figure out where to head to next, musically speaking. The resulting album was Wild Honey, a lo-fi mix of R&B, psychedelic pop, and rock & roll. The album spawned the hits "Wild Honey" and "Darlin'", the latter gaining a recent surge of popularity after it's usage in the television show The Big Bang Theory. The album was released on December 18th, 1967, eventually reaching a fair #24 spot on the US charts, certainly better than Smiley Smile, but a far cry from the group's golden years of chart domination. The album was however a success in the UK, reaching as high as #7. Unfortunately, recent unfairly negative reviews of the group by highly-revered music critics left the group practically deserted by the US public. The group had yet to see the worst yet however. It's really unfortunate actually, because the music on this album is actually really good! It might be way too short for a conventional album, but it's just a really fun, high energy album that helped cool the group down after the whole SMiLE incident. But like with all of my other alternate albums, I gotta ask myself: What can I do to make this great album even greater?
First off, we gotta look at all the tracks/outtakes and decide what and what not to use on the remix. "Mama Says", while fun and catchy, feels pretty irrelevant to the rest of the music of the album, so I'm chucking it. With the release of Sunshine Tomorrow, we now have the following outtakes to work with: "Lonely Days", "Cool Cool Water", "Time to Get Alone", "Can't Wait Too Long" (Early Version), "Hide Go Seek", "Honey Get Home", "With a Little Help from My Friends", "The Letter", "Game of Love", "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring", and "Surf's Up" (1967 Version). Of these tracks, I consider "Can't Wait Too Long" (Early Version), "Lonely Days", "Hide Go Seek", and "Honey Get Home" to be just too unfinished for serious consideration for inclusion. "Cool Cool Water" and "Time to Get Alone" are fantastic tracks, but are already included in completed form on my alternate versions of 20/20 and Sunflower. "Surf's Up" (1967 Version) is merely Brian tooling around with the track, and wouldn't fit with the relaxed, R&B theme of Wild Honey at all. "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Game of Love", and "Their Hearts Were Full of Spring" were intended for the Lei'd in Hawaii project, and so will appear there instead. The same goes for "The Letter", but since two separate versions were recorded during this time, I'll make an exception here! Anyways, let's check it out!
Side A kicks off with the hard-hitting title track "Wild Honey". The track is heard here in it's latest 2017 stereo remix, easily trumping the earlier 2012 mix found off of Made in California. Following that is the fantastic "Aren't You Glad", heard here in its first-ever stereo remix. And WOW, does it sound fantastic! Hearing tracks like "Aren't You Glad" in this new light is certainly like hearing the Beach Boys for the first time again. The group's cover of "I Was Made to Love Her" follows next, heard here in it's 2017 stereo remix. My own edit of this track tacks on the extended coda, found off of the alternate mono version of the track. It's unfortunate that this section isn't available in stereo, but hey - if it's the best we got, it's the best we got! The beautiful "Country Air" comes next, heard here in the fantastic stereo remix found on the 2012 Made in California box set. Personally, I find this remix superior to the latest 2017 mix. This latest mix features the infamous "buzzing" sound, of which was digitally removed from the track for its 2012 mix. In addition, the backing vocals are more widely panned in the 2012 mix. Definitely one of my favorite songs on the album, the rooster sounds made using a mellotron was a pretty unique idea for 1967. The R&B flavored "A Thing or Two" comes after, of course heard here in its 2017 stereo remix. Not the most famous track on the album, but I think it's really fun actually, the melodies and lead vocal parts by Brian really make the song for me. Carl's gruff vocals are also pretty cool-sounding, of which would later be used again for the group's 1972 cut "You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone". Side A then closes out with the fantastic "Darlin'", a song enjoying a recent surge in popularity. This unique mix was made possible thanks to the inclusion of the stereo instrumental backing track on the compilation album. I extended the track after the bridge section, adding an instrumental passing-by of the verse, before leading into a final chorus. The song also ends on a final sustained note, as opposed to the abruptly-quick fade-out. Quite a unique listen I'd say, let me know what you think! A fantastic end to the first side.
Side B begins with the flat-out amazing "Can't Wait Too Long", a SMiLE-esque track that was similarly abandoned by Brian after June of 1968. The version of the song recorded during the Wild Honey sessions was included on the Sunshine Tomorrow collection, but I saw it as too simplistic for inclusion, even by Wild Honey's standards! Here, the second, much more experimental version from the Friends-era is used in its place. I remixed the song using the 1993 stereo mix as a basis. The structure wasn't changed at all from this source, I think the way the track is put together here is a very concise and even listening experience. A Cappella vocal overdubs (sourced from Made in California) were laid down on top of the beautiful intro to give the track a richer, fuller sound. I also "un-faded" the track at the very end, as the last segment I added myself, that being the fade segment. I'm upset that the fade segment wasn't included on the original 1993 remix, it's a very unique and cool-sounding piece of music. I find it really interesting that the group (sans Brian) revisited the track in 1980 to lay down new additional overdubs. It's cool to know that they really liked the song and were considering on finishing and releasing it at another point. Similar to how the group planned on recording "Do You Like Worms" during the sessions for 1979's LA (Light Album). Following that is Brian's amazingly-humorous and entertaining "I'd Love Just Once to See You", presented here in the new 2017 stereo mix. This is one of my personal favorites by Brian, the lyrics are totally him, and the melody is so fun to play and sing along to. One of the highlights of the album in my opinion. It's also my favorite Beach Boys song to sing to my girlfriend! ;) Up next is the group's fantastic cover of the Box Tops' hit "The Letter", originally rehearsed and played for during the Lei'd in Hawaii performances. The song was originally going to be featured on the album, but was removed once all plans for Lei'd in Hawaii came to an end (the group was apparently still considering releasing the album after the release of Wild Honey). I guess that explains why the first side only has five songs, my best bet is that "The Letter" would've appeared somewhere on Side A. The mix heard here is the remastered stereo mix heard on Made in California, oddly found on the "Live" section of the compilation. It doesn't sound live to me at all, live in the studio maybe, but not in front of an audience. After that is "Here Comes the Night", featured here (of course) in its 2017 stereo remix. For me, the new stereo mix of "Here Comes the Night" was probably the biggest musical revelation for me for this album. What was once a pretty cool R&B track has been opened up to me in a way I never thought possible. Suffice to say, this is now my favorite track off of the Wild Honey album. The rock number "How She Boogalooed It" is next, and although the lyrics leave a lot to be desired, the track is pretty damn fun for what it is. Definitely my least favorite song on the album though (aside from the cut "Mama Says"), it just feels a little too "safe" for me. The worst song on Wild Honey is still better than a lot of other Beach Boys songs though, so I guess that says a lot about the quality of the album! The track is also heard here in the 2017 stereo remix. But here comes a pretty glaring issue. For the original recording sessions for the track, the organ solo heard during the second half of the track was recorded directly on top of the mixed-down mono track. Because of that, the stem track for this organ overdub isn't obtainable by any means (aside from digital extraction). Faced with this issue during the mixing of the new stereo mix, Alan Boyd and Mark Linett decided to present the first half of the track in true stereo, while the second half is entirely in mono. I can understand though why they would've been hesitant to digitally extract the organ overdub, as it can sound pretty robotic at times. However, a proper solution would have been to use this "half stereo/half mono" remix for the stereo mix of Wild Honey, while offering an alternate, complete stereo mix of the track, without the organ overdub present. If they did that, then I could have been able to carefully synch the stereo and mono tracks together, and BAM - full stereo mix. But I guess it just wasn't meant to be! So here, I use the 2017 stereo mix for the first half, before switching to a duophonic stereo mix for the second half. This duophonic mix comes from Memory Man's great, yet-now obsolete stereo mix of Wild Honey. Overall, I guess we won't ever have a "definitive" stereo mix of "How She Boogalooed It", but like I said earlier: If it's the best we got, it's the best we got! The album closes out with the beautiful, yet slightly eerie "Let the Wind Blow", another fantastic piece written by Brian for the album. The lovely-sounding stereo remix found on the Hawthorne, CA compilation is used here. Like with "Country Air", the new 2017 mix sounds a bit too dry for my taste. Overall, this is a great, complex way to end out an album.
Wild Honey should've been the Beach Boys' comeback album after their bad luck of 1967. The album should've have made up for the shelving of SMiLE, the Monterey Pop Festival cancellation, the disappointing commercial performance of "Heroes and Villains" and Smiley Smile, the declining popularity of the group, the harsh Rolling Stone Reviews, the shelving of the Lei'd in Hawaii album, etc, etc. The list goes on and on! Sure, a #24 placement on the charts is definitely better than Smiley Smile's #41, but it definitely had the potential to reach a higher placement, given the high quality material found on the album. Fans had always been dreaming of a true stereo mix of this fantastic album, and thanks to the collaborative efforts of Alan and Mark, we've finally gotten what we've been asking so long for. Here's to a potential 1968 collection in the future! But for now, sit back, relax, and take a taste of that sweet wild honey...
1. Wild Honey (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
2. Aren't You Glad (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
3. I Was Made to Love Her (Henry Cosby/Sylvia Moy/Lula May Hardaway/Stevie Wonder)
4. Country Air (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
5. A Thing or Two (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
6. Darlin' (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
1. Can't Wait Too Long (Brian Wilson)
2. I'd Love Just Once to See You (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
3. The Letter (Wayne Carson Thompson)
4. Here Comes the Night (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
5. How She Boogalooed It (Mike Love/Bruce Johnston/Al Jardine/Carl Wilson)
6. Let the Wind Blow (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Recording sessions for what would become the Beach Boys' 16th studio album, Sunflower, began on January 9th, with the Dennis compositions "Forever" and "San Miguel". Sessions would span all the way up until February 2nd, 1970, after which an album was finally assembled. This album, entitled Add Some Music, was assembled on February 18th, and was sent to Reprise for approval. However, Reprise rejected the album, citing the weak song selection, as well as the failure of the "Add Some Music to Your Day Single". Frustrated, the group went back into the studio in June to record the tracks "It's About Time" and "Cool Cool Water". Around the same time, their last album for Capitol, titled Reverberation, was also rejected. Taking tracks from both Reverberation and Add Some Music, the group were finally able to put together an album worth Reprise's approval. As we all know, Sunflower was released on August 31st and completely flopped, stalling at #151 in the US. Oh well! Today, I'd like to focus on their first draft of Sunflower. While rejected by Reprise, I personally find the Add Some Music to be quite an enjoyable listening experience IMO. Here, I present the original Add Some Music album in its entirety, using the high-quality sources available. So, let's get on with it!
Side A kicks off with Al Jardine's rocker "Susie Cincinnati". In keeping as close as possible to the original album, I used the 1970 single mix found on 15 Big Ones, as opposed to the latest 2012 remix found on Made in California. Following is the original mix of "Good Time", written by Brian and Al. This mix lacks a few vocal overdubs found on the final mix (released on Love You), which is unfortunate, because everything about this mix I like better than the later mix. I especially love the upfront backing vocals, what a great vocal arrangement by Brian! "Our Sweet Love" follows, in its original, unaltered mix found on Sunflower. I've since made an alternate mix featuring some backing vocal overdubs by Brian (cut from the final mix), but I'm trying to remain as true to the original draft of the album as possible. The original version of "Tears in the Morning" comes next, featuring sparse backing vocals and slightly different lyrics. This mix comes from the bootleg album Rarities Vol. 2, but is unfortunately riddled with pesky compression. If you want to hear a better-sounding mix of this track, check out engineer Stephen Desper's website (http://swdstudyvideos.com). One of his videos features the original Add Some Music and Landlocked acetates in great quality. To respect Desper's wishes, I am not going to rip any audio from these videos, and you shouldn't either! But I digress! The original mix of "When Girls Get Together" follows. One of my all-time favorite Sunflower-era tracks! The album closes out with Dennis' fantastic "Slip on Through". Like with "Our Sweet Love", the original Sunflower mix is used here.
Side B opens with the fantastic title track, "Add Some Music to Your Day". Originally, when I posted my version of this first draft on youtube, I used the alternate version of the track, featuring much different lyrics to the final track. However, this isn't true to the original draft of the album, and so, the final Sunflower mix is used here. Al's catchy "Take a Load off Your Feet, Pete" comes up next. This mix differs from the version found on the Surf's Up album, running about 1.5% slower than the final mix. The track also features the short segment entitled "Carnival"; a wordless, dizzying cover of the traditional track "Over the Waves". Fading in shortly after "Take a Load Off Your Feet, Pete" ends, the track takes listeners on a psychedelic carnival ride, only to lower them back to reality a mere minute later. Of course, I've mentioned all of this before on my alternate Add Some Music album, but it's still pretty cool to bring up. The original Sunflower mix of Brian's fantastic "This Whole World" comes next, followed up by the underrated outtake "I Just Got My Pay". Speaking of underrated, Al and Brian's amazing cut "At My Window" follows. It always upsets me when I see people refer to this track as one of the worst (or "least-best", depending on how you look at it) cuts off of the Sunflower album. Pure bullshit IMO. But again, I digress! The album closes out with Dennis' heartbreakingly beautiful "Fallin' in Love", featured here in its original 1970 stereo mix. In some ways, I find this mix superior to the latest 2009 mix found off of Summer Love Songs. However, the shorter length of the original mix leaves a lot to be desired. Overall though, quite a fantastic end to the album.
Overall, while I really do enjoy the original Add Some Music, I'm thankful the album came out as Sunflower as everyone knows it as. Despite a stronger song selection though, I don't think anything was gonna stop this album from flopping in the US. The original draft wouldn't have prevented that one bit! Anyways, enjoy, and look out for more coming soon. Next, I'll be posting the aforementioned Reverberation album, here given its alternate title (first referred to as such by Bruce): The Fading Rock Group Revival. Enjoy, and look out for the next post in the coming weeks!
1. Susie Cincinnati (Al Jardine)
2. Good Time (Brian Wilson/Al Jardine)
3. Out Sweet Love (Brian Wilson)
4. Tears in the Morning (Bruce Johnston)
5. When Girls Get Together (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
6. Slip on Through (Dennis Wilson)
1. Add Some Music to Your Day (Brian Wilson/Mike Love/Joe Knott)
2. Take a Load Off Your Feet, Pete (Al Jardine/Brian Wilson/Gary Winfrey/trad. Arr The Beach Boys)
3. This Whole World (Brian Wilson)
4. I Just Got My Pay (Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
5. At My Window (Brian Wilson/Al Jardine)
6. Fallin' in Love (Dennis Wilson)
PS - You can now follow me on Instagram @ thejiggy22 if you want to keep up with me on social media!
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Jim Morrison, world-famous frontman of the Doors, was found dead in a hotel bathtub in Paris on July 3rd, 1971. Although no autopsy was performed, the cause of death was listed as heart failure. The remaining members of the group, Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore, continued as a trio for two more albums, before finally disbanding in 1973. Five years later, the group reunited to record An American Prayer. The album featured some of Jim's final recordings, spoken word poems intended for a Doors album after his eventual return from Paris. The three remaining members recorded new backing tracks over the poems, also including an earlier live performance of "Roadhouse Blues". The album, released on November 17th, 1978, charted at #54. Here, we're taking a look at what this album could have sounded like, had it been released in 1971-72. Alongside edited versions of the 1978 album, I've also decided to include choice cuts from the 1971 album Other Voices, featuring the three members after Morrison's death. A big challenge in putting this album together was sequencing all the pieces together, as well as incorporating the Other Voices tracks in a suitable way. In addition, the original version of An American Prayer featured a few live cuts and musical sections from previous tracks, including "Roadhouse Blues" and "Peace Frog". As I'm trying to create a suitable followup to the original Doors canon, these tracks have been cut accordingly. Overall, listening back to the final product, I think it came out pretty good! Not surprisingly, this album contains explicit language not suitable for young kids. Though I'm sure you could say that about a lot of other Doors songs! Just a fair warning though. Anyways, let's get on with it!
A quick word before though, I feel as though special notice should be made on the custom album cover I made for this alternate album. The artist of this piece, T.E. Beitenbach, was asked by Jim in January of 1971 to design the alum cover for the next Doors album. Beitenbach came up with this beautiful triptych, depicting a cave, a futuristic, surreal-looking city, and a lone road (harkening back to Jim's childhood memory of witnessing dead Indians scattered across the road after an accident). However, this artwork was of course abandoned once the album was canned in wake of Jim's death. For the 1978 release of An American Prayer, a new album cover was commissioned, solely depicting a bearded Morrison in a typically boring layout. What I dislike most about this cover is that it only depicts Morrison, despite obvious involvement from the other three members. With this new cover, no focus is put on the group, instead being on the message of the music itself. Taking the artwork, I put it against a black background with the name of the group and the album surrounding it. It came out pretty damn good IMO!
Side A opens with the suspenseful "The Poet's Dream". On the original album, this track is labelled as two separate pieces, entitled "The Movie" and "Curses, Invocations". I like how Jim speaks from the perspective of different people all at once, there's something very eerie about it I'd say. "Her cunt gripped him like a warm, friendly hand". Nice one, Jim. Following is the 1971 cut from Other Voices, "Down on the Farm". In selecting these post-Morrison tracks, I tried to choose songs that I felt like I could have heard Jim singing himself. "Down on the Farm" is no exception to this rule, especially when it comes to the fantastic chorus. Coming next is an almost seven-minute track entitled "To Come of Age". The original version of this track features the sections "To Come of Age", "Black Polished Chrome", "Latino Chrome", "Angels and Sailors", and "Stoned Immaculate". My version of this track features a significantly different sequencing, completely removing the "Stoned Immaculate" section, as it features the previously-recorded track "Roadhouse Blues". The "To Come of Age" is also trimmed by about twenty seconds, as it opens with the previously-recorded middle section from "The Unknown Solider". As Jim speaks, "We could plan a murder, or start a religion", the next track, "Hang on to Your Life", abruptly begins with its booming drum beat and groovy bass line. When originally assembling this album together, I considered completely removing the middle section and replacing it the spoken word segment entitled "Dawn's Highway", but the final product didn't sound too cohesive to keep. So, I just stuck with the original, unedited track. A really damn cool end to the first side!
Side B opens with the Other Voices track, "In the Eye of the Sun", featuring Ray Manzarek doing his best Jim Morrison impression. And he actually does a really good job with the vocal, it sounds a lot like Jim if you open your mind to it! Following is the mournful, melancholic track "Lament". This track is made up of the segments "The World on Fire" and "Lament". I cut a small piece of "The World on Fire" out, in which featured overdubbed spoken dialogue featuring an unknown woman. Listening back to it, I can't even understand what they were saying, oh well! My favorite track on the album, entitled "The Ghost Song", comes next. I decided to use the unaltered single version of this track, as opposed to the shorter album mix. Just a much more cohesive version IMO. Such a funky, catchy track, probably the best thing to come out of this project. After that comes the title track, "An American Prayer". My edit of this track features the segments "An American Prayer", "Hour for Magic", "Freedom Exists", and "A Feast of Friends". I cut out the majority of the "An American Prayer" segment though, as it's mostly comprised of the second half of "The Ghost Song". The last segment of this track features a re-recording of the group's attempt at Albinoni's Adagio in G minor, first recorded in 1968 during the sessions for Waiting for the Sun. However, since the original track wasn't ever released on a previous album, I'll let this one slide for now! Closing out the album is the melancholic "Bird of Prey". This track is made up of the segments "Babylon Fading" and "Bird of Prey". These two segments weren't ever a part of the original An American Prayer album, included only on the 1995 remaster. For being the "last" Doors album before Morrison's death, the ending sure is pretty tough to listen to, especially when Jim mournfully sings: "Bird of prey, flying high, in the summer sky. Bird of prey, flying high, gently pass on by. Bird of prey, flying high, am I going to die? Bird of prey, flying high, take me on your flight". I don't think he was scared.
Overall, while it may be a little jarring to include the Other Voices tracks alongside Jim's spoken word tracks (as no other member had sung a lead during the Morrison era), it sure was pretty damn cool to put something like this together. I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I did making it! This'll probably be the only Door's album I'll post on here BTW, as there's just nothing really else I can think of to focus on. If anyone's looking for a "definitive" version of the scrapped Celebration of the Lizard album, check out soniclovenoize's version, because that's the version I always listen to! I'll probably start putting up some more assorted Beach Boys material up after this, as well as some Kinks material as well. Anyways, enjoy, and look out for more coming soon!
1. The Poet's Dream
2. Down on the Farm
3. To Come of Age
4. Hang on to Your Life
1. In the Eye of the Sun
3. The Ghost Song
4. An American Prayer
5. Bird of Prey
Friday, July 7, 2017
In 1976, prolific songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart reunited with former Monkees Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones. Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork were also invited to join, but they both declined (Peter would later join the group on stage for their July 4th concert in Disneyland). The four desired to reform the Monkees for a brand new album, but were legally prohibited from using the group name. And so, the new group decided on the exceedingly long name of "Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart". Pretty creative, huh? The group's self-titled debut album was released in early 1976. I searched for quite awhile, but I wasn't able to find an exact date of its release. Just goes to show how popular it is! I really dislike the name of the album, so let's just say that through some implausible, legal loophole, the four were able to secure the rights for the Monkees name. Here I present the original Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart album, repackaged as The Monkees' Right Now. I took the original album cover for this album, cleaned it up, and replaced the original text with its new, more appropriate title. Being a relatively rare album, I don't expect a lot of people here to be familiar with this collection of music! Before beginning, I feel like it'd be appropriate to mention that the CD release of this album was ripped from vinyl, as the original master tracks couldn't be located. As a result, there are a few small "hiccups" heard a few times throughout the album, most noticeably during the tracks "Right Now" and "You and I". Nothing that I can really do about that though, so I guess it's just something we're gonna have to deal with. Anyways, let's get into it, shall we?
Side A opens with the lovely progressive ballad "Right Now", sung by Davy. By this point, Davy, then 30, was much more older and mature than he was in the mid-60s, and I believe you can hear it in his new album. After that comes the sappy "I Love You (And I'm Glad That I Said I)". Sung by Bobby Hart. Definitely my least favorite cut off the album, it kind of reminds me of "The Day We Fall in Love" from the original More of the Monkees album, with its lush instrumental backing track and dynamic sound to it. Listen for yourself and see what you think of it. Then comes my favorite track off this album, "You and I". This track would actually later be re-recorded by the Monkees in 1996 for their second reunion album Justus. I certainly like both versions, and they're so different from each other (production wise), that I guess it'd be unfair to compare them to each other. But fuck, I'm gonna anyways! Here, Micky sings lead, while Davy sings lead in the re-recording. Both deliver extraordinary vocal performances, but Micky's definitely outshines Davy's attempt. Micky's extreme vocal range was always one of his biggest strengths when it came to singing! Anyways, instead of getting carried away with this, I'm just gonna close by saying that this is a classic recording by the group. The group's cover of "Teenager in Love" follows after. It's definitely a really great track, but I can't help but feel like the overdubbed plucked guitar is just a little bit out of tune, which can get a little distracting once you notice it. After that, the amazing "Sail on Sailor" comes next. Here, the track was simply retitled to "Sail On", as I'm too used to "Sail on, Sailor" by the Beach Boys. In this track, I believe all four group members sing their own verses, I can't ever really tell Boyce and Hart vocals apart from each other! Side A closes with "It Always Hurts the Most in the Morning", another great, progressive pop track. I especially love the a cappella interlude near the end, what a great touch by the group!
Side B opens with the heavy rock track "Moonfire", featuring fuzzy electric guitar riffs, intricate group backing vocals, and a heavy lead vocal from Micky. One of the great highlights from this album. Another fantastic track follows next, entitled "You Didn't Feel That Way Last Night (Don't You Remember)". Here, the title was shortened just to "You Didn't Feel That Way Last Night", the full title is just too much of a mouthful! Probably my second-favorite track off the album, the electric synthesizers add a great touch to the song. Next comes a very strange track, "Along Came Jones". Harkening back to the early, comedic days of the Monkees' career, this cover of The Coaster's 1959 hit features dissonant diminished chords, spoken words segments, and an instrumental interlude inspired by the infamous Benny Hill theme. Certainly an experience to listen to IMO! Coming right after it is a more rock-oriented track, similar in tone to the two previous tracks of the second side. Probably the weakest Dolenz lead vocal on the album. Nothing's particularly wrong with it, it just sounds kind of off in a way. Sounds like he had a cold while recording the lead vocal or something. The rest of the track is great though, especially the electric guitar solo. Following is another great one, "I Remember the Feeling". I believe the group was trying to market this track as a single, and often performed it during their live concerts. I believe it was actually released as a single, but it obviously went nowhere. I'd say that it definitely deserved chart action though! Not the biggest fan of Davy's sections though, but I guess it's not that big of a deal. A pretty good track overall. The album closes out with another hard-rocker entitled "Sweat Heart Attack". It's funny, typing up that previous sentence just now, I mistakingly referred to the track as "Sheer Heart Attack". Nope, that's Queen, not the Monkees! Overall, a great end to the album I'd say. There's this one riff in the end guitar solo that sounds extremely similar to a riff heard in Heart's "Magic Man", check it out and see if you can hear it!
Right Now, while missing two primary members of the group, remains a pretty damn good collection of music in my opinion. The group certainly found a good sound for themselves with this album. It makes me wonder just what followup albums could have possibly sounded like! Unfortunately, it was to never be. After a live album from Japan was scrapped in late 1976, the group quietly dissolved, and that was that. It would take the Monkees another eleven years to reform for an actual reunion. 1987's Pool It! was pretty much a musical disaster. The '80s and the Monkees do NOT go well together! I haven't even been able to listen to the entire thing. 1996's Justus was just marginally better. 2016's Good Times!, however, was a fantastic reunion album and a perfect closer to the Monkees story. I have no changes to make to any of those albums, which brings the Monkees series to a close here! Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback, as well as the patience with the slower upload schedule this past year or so. Not sure what I'll be posting on here next, probably just some scattered alternate albums and mixes from The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and other groups such as the Doors and the Kinks. I guess I'll just keep it a surprise until then! Enjoy, and look out for more very soon!
1. Right Now (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
2. I Love You (And I'm Glad That I Said It) (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
3. You And I (Micky Dolenz/Davy Jones)
4. Teenager in Love (Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman)
5. Sail On (Doug Trevor)
6. It Always Hurts the Most in the Morning (Tommy Boyce/Micky Dolenz)
1. Moonfire (William E. Martin)
2. You Didn't Feel That Way Last Night (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
3. Along Came Jones (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller)
4. Savin' My Love for You (Micky Dolenz/Davy Jones)
5. I Remember the Feeling (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
6. Sweet Heart Attack (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart)
Saturday, July 1, 2017
With Michael having left after the release of 1969's The Monkees Present, that left Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones as the only members of the group. Released in June of 1970, Changes, the ninth studio album from the Monkees, failed to chart in the US. After this abysmal commercial performance, Davy announced he would be leaving the Monkees, effectively bringing the group to an end. Oh well. Despite the group having been reduced to a mere shadow of it former glory, Changes actually features a few hidden gems that are often overlooked by listeners. I always assumed that the further reduction of the group from a trio to a duo helped undermine the album's success, so let's try to fix that! Let's say that Mike decided against leaving the group in 1969, and remained a member for the recording and release of Changes. What would that have been like? Whelp, carry on to find out!
For my alternate version of Changes, I had to make room to include at least three songs by Mike. I also wanted to remove all of the tracks recorded way back in 1967. Those tracks were just way out of touch by this point! From the original album, the tracks "Acapulco Sun", "99 Pounds", "Do You Feel it Too?", "All Alone in the Dark", and "I Never Thought it Peculiar" have been scrapped. "99 Pounds" is gone since it was previously given a home on Another One from the Monkees, while the other four have been removed because they just aren't good at all. I originally featured the 1968 outtake "Changes" as the Side B opener, since well, that's where the album gets its name from. However, after repeated listens to the track, I decided that it's just a bad-sounding song. Anyways, let's continue!
Side A kicks off with the bluesy "Oh My My". Surprisingly, despite the weak commercial performance of Changes, the group would often perform this track during their reunion in the mid-90s. I don't blame them, it's a pretty strong track IMO! Following is one of my favorite tracks off the album, "Ticket on a Ferry Ride". Definitely the most psychedelic track here, which is probably why I like it so much! Micky's vocal is also pretty damn good, that always helps. "You're So Good to Me" comes next, which of course bears no relation to the Beach Boys song of the same name! One of the "funkier" tracks featured here, Davy's vocal is pretty strong. Like I always say, I've always preferred Davy when he isn't performing his usual soft ballads. I especially love the middle section, the backing vocals are pretty complex for a group like the Monkees! Another fantastic track, "It's Got to Be Love" comes next. This is probably one of my favorite Micky leads off of Changes, just a fantastic job all around. Unfortunately, for the 1994 remaster of Changes, it sounds like this track was a needle drop recording, resulting in lower quality compared to the other tracks. I tried my best to clean it up, let me know what you think! But yeah, despite some audio issues, a fantastic track overall. Then comes Mike's first track off the album, "If I Ever Get to Saginaw". I've never been that much of a country music fan myself, but there's something about Mike's songs such as "If I Ever Get to Saginaw" that I just absolutely adore. Maybe its the use of minor chords, or the melancholic overtones, I have no idea what it is, but Mike really gets to me somehow. I guess that's why he's my favorite member of the group! Side A closes with the blues track "Lady Jane". This track never actually appeared on the original Changes album. Instead, this track was released as a single in early 1971, credited to "Micky and Davy" I believe. I like how Davy and Micky trade off lead vocals throughout the track. Usually, it's just Micky or Davy singing throughout the track without any backup. Anyways, a great end to the first side!
Side B starts off with the beautiful "Tell Me Love", featuring a tender, lovely lead vocal from Micky. Another one of my favorites off this album. Following is Mike's fantastic rocker entitled "Little Red Rider". Such a funky track, I especially love the blazing guitar solo towards the end of the song. The track as it appears on the Missing Links Volume Three continues on until the session musicians decided to stop playing. I decided to properly mix the track so that it fades out before, it sounds a lot more professional this way IMO! If I had to say, this is definitely my favorite track off this alternate album. "Do it in the Name of Love" follows next. This was the A-Side to the "Do it in the Name of Love/Lady Jane" single released in April of 1971. Not surprisingly, the single went absolutely nowhere on the charts. Better luck next time! Incoming is another super-funky track by the name of "I Love You Better". I absolutely love the backing vocals on this song, it makes a great track even better! Mike's "Good Clean Fun" comes next. This track, backed by Micky's "Mommy and Daddy" was originally released as a single on September 6th, 1969, unfortunately stalling at a low #82 on the US billboard charts. Both tracks would later appear on The Monkees Present LP. I love the sinister ending line to the track, "I told you I'd come back, here I am". Later, Mike confirmed that this line was indeed meant to intend that the narrator of this track was waiting to harm his girlfriend. How sadistic of you, Mike! The album closes out with Micky's fantastic "Midnight Train", featuring his sister Coco on backing vocals. A perfect end to not just the album, but the group as whole, signified by the final line, "That's all she wrote, better be moving on". I guess that sounds about right!
Overall, the original version of Changes is honestly kinda depressing to listen to in my opinion. This once great group was now reduced to just two members, desperately trying to find one last bite of commercial success after their days of fame had come to an end. With my alternate version of this album, they may still sound desperate for critical and commercial success, but hey, at least they're not as lonely this time! I've got one more alternate Monkees album waiting to be let out of its cage, so hold on, we're almost through! I'm starting to get back into the swing of things with my music stuff, mostly because I've hit a roadblock with my game modding, and I'm too lazy to try and figure it out, so here I am now! Expect blog posts to come out fairly more often for the foreseeable future. I hope you enjoy, and look out for much more coming soon!
1. Oh My My (Jeff Barry/Andy Kim)
2. Ticket on a Ferry Ride (Jeff Barry/Bobby Bloom)
3. You're So Good to Me (Jeff Barry/Bobby Bloom)
4. It's Got to Be Love (Neil Goldberg)
5. If I Ever Get to Saginaw Again (Michael Nesmith)
6. Lady Jane (Bobby Bloom/Neil Goldberg)
1. Tell Me Love (Jeff Barry)
2. Little Red Rider (Michael Nesmith)
3. Do it in the Name of Love (Bobby Bloom/Neil Goldberg)
4. I Love You Better (Jeff Barry/Andy Kim)
5. Good Clean Fun (Michael Nesmith)
6. Midnight Train (Micky Dolenz)
Saturday, June 24, 2017
33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, the televised followup to the groups' 1968 film Head, premiered on April 14th, 1969 to low critical and commercial reception. And yeah, aside from a few pretty cool sequences (Peter's dream, the group's performance of "Wind Up Man", etc), the film is pretty bleh. While Head was filmed in a surreal manner in order to push a point that the group was trying to make, 33 1/3 was surreal just for the sake of being surreal. Whatever message the Monkees were trying to prove with 33 1/3 was lost with the confusing sequencing and poor script. Aside from that, some of the music featured in the special was actually pretty cool. For years, Monkees fans have been pushing for the release of a soundtrack to the special, all to no success. The most being offered having been stereo backing tracks to some of the songs. However, official stereo mixes of the songs remain unreleased. And so, we just have to work with the next best thing. Here, I present my own version of the 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee soundtrack album, featuring tracks synched up to their stereo backing tracks wherever possible.
Side A kicks off with Micky's dream sequence, featuring a bluesy reinterpretation of the group's 1967 hit "I'm a Believer", here given the simple retitling of "I'm a Believer Blues". The backing track to this was never released on any release, so the best we can do here is offer the track in duophonic stereo. Following that is Peter's fantastic "(I Prithee) Do Not Ask for Love", featuring the original mono version synched up with the stereo backing track. Big thank you to soniclovenoize for the awesome remix! In order to offer a unique version of this track, I decided to use the stereo backing track in order to give the song a fade-out ending. I never liked how the original track ended so abruptly! Then comes Mike's "Naked Persimmon". Unfortunately, while a stereo backing track for this song is included on the deluxe edition of Instant Replay, it's actually a different take than the one used for the final track. So here, I'm only able to offer this track in duophonic stereo. Following is Davy's "Goldie Locks Sometimes". Like with "Do Not Ask for Love", the stereo backing track is synched up with the original mono track. However, the stereo instrumental track does not feature the intro to the track, so that's just presented in mono before the stereo track kicks in. There may be some slight synching errors in parts of the track, but its hardly noticeable unless you really try to listen for it. Coming up next is my favorite track off of the album, "Wind Up Man". Likewise with the movie Head, here, the Monkees sing their distaste of the fraudulent music industry, comparing themselves to Wind Up toys used exclusively for entertainment purposes. Like the previous track, "Wind Up Man" is almost perfectly synched up with its stereo back track. Closing out Side A is the track "Darwin". The first part of this track is about thirty or so seconds long, featuring a perfect synch between the original track and its backing track. The second part of the track is a complex instrumental piece entitled "Only the Fittest Shall Survive", performed by Paul Arnold & The Moon Express. The original track goes on for about four and a half minutes, so I decided to trim it down to about two minutes to keep it from dragging. Probably my best remix on this album!
Side B starts with the group's cover of Neil Sedaka's "I Go Ape", featuring a humorous, yet powerful lead from Micky. The original track was synched up with the stereo backing track, as is the norm with the majority of the tracks on this album. The stereo backing track cuts off early for some reason, so the last ten or so seconds are presented in mono. Next up is the 11-minute long medley simply entitled "Rock and Roll Medley". A rather simplistic title, but certainly less of a mouthful than titling it "At the Hop/I'm Ready/Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On/Tutti Frutti/Shake a Tail Feather/Blue Monday/Little Darlin'/Long Tall Sally/Down the Line/Them Bones"! A track certainly too long to be included on a traditional "18-minute per side" LP, but there wasn't much else I could work with here! Following is the short, yet lovely Davy track entitled "String for My Kite". The final track/stereo backing track remix, this came out really good IMO, let me know what you think! After that comes Peter's amazing cover of the classical track "Solfegietto", followed by the penultimate track, Mike's "Listen to the Band". In the original film, this track develops into a crazed, avant-garde instrumental, which unlike other avant-garde tracks offered by groups such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys, this one is pretty bad. So instead, the track simply fades out right before things get a little out of control! The album closes out with the short, yet creepy cover of "California Here it Comes". I previously featured this track as the closer of my alternate Head album, but I obviously wasn't gonna leave it out here!
In closing, despite the multiple obviously flaws with 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, the music featured certainly is one of the main attractions of the special. I originally wasn't gonna feature this soundtrack album here, but then I remembered how even some of the most hardcore Monkee fans seem to pass this era of the group by. So I just decided to give it some attention that most people don't appear to give it. Hopefully, we'll get an official soundtrack for the special someday, maybe in 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the special. Doubtful, but I certainly wouldn't mind it! I hope you enjoy, and look out for more coming soon!
1. I'm a Believer Blues (Neil Diamond)
2. (I Prithee) Do Not Ask for Love (Michael Martin Murphey)
3. Naked Persimmon (Michael Nesmith)
4. Goldie Locks Sometimes (Bill Dorsey)
5. Wind Up Man (Bill Dorsey)
6. Darwin (Bill Dorsey/Paul Arnold)
1. I Go Ape (Neil Sedaka)
2. Rock & Roll Medley
I: At the Hop (Artie Singer/John Medora/David White)
II: I'm Ready (Antoine Domino, Jr)
III: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On (Dave Williams)
IV: Tutti Frutti (Richard Penniman/Dorothy LaBostrie)
V: Shake a Tail Feather (Otha Hayes/Verlie Rice/Andre Williams)
VI: Blue Monday (Dave Bartholomew)
VII: Little Darlin' (Maurice Williams)
XIII: Long Tall Sally (Richard Penniman/Robert Blackwell/Enotris Johnson)
XIV: Down the Line (Ray Orbison)
XV: Them Bones (James Weldon Johnson)
3. String for My Kite (Bill Dorsey)
4. Solfegietto (Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach)
5. Listen to the Band (Michael Nesmith)
6. California Here it Comes (Buddy DeSylva, Al Jolson, Joseph Meyer)