More Album Cover Outtakes

David Bowie – Tonight (1984)

Bowie’s ‘tash album? Or Bowie’s trash album? Here are three Polaroid photographs that were taken by English designer Mick Haggerty for Bowie’s Tonight album in 1984, at the Carlyle Hotel NYC following the exhausting Serious Moonlight tour. 

While the Gilbert & George influence is obvious, Bowie had some ideas on how he wanted the sleeve to turn out:

When David Bowie called about doing “Tonight”, he was interested in making a very heroic and exotic image. He mentioned The “Green Lady” by Tretchikoff and talked about The Knights Templar. I shot a few reference Polaroids of him in his room at The Carlyle Hotel, from which I did the cover portrait drawing and then, dragging a large format camera around New York, assembled a library of images including flowers, time lapse exposures of traffic, and smeared paint. After about a month of work, I emerged from my studio with a single 8″ x 10″ color transparency.

All I had done in fact was invent an analog version of Adobe Photoshop, producing an image which now might take me an hour, but back then it was much more laborious and hit and miss, but much more exciting. In this portfolio, using the same method, I also made the “Gamma 1” cover along with the piece which gives me the most pleasure – a cover for a special single release in Japan for Yellow Magic Orchestra “Solid State Survivor”. – Mick Haggerty

Haggerty also designed images and sleeves for many artists including the Police, Simple Minds, and Keith Richards.  To see more of Mick Haggerty’s work, visit his website at

Meanwhile a suitably ‘tashed-up Bowie cuddles Tina, has a bash on the bongos, a quick chat to Hugh Padgham, and it’s back to sitting around in style while other people make the album.


The song ‘Tonight’ has a special poignancy tonight. Watch for the stage invader.  RIP Tina.

Posted in Album Covers, David Bowie, Images | 6 Comments

Didn’t Know It Was A Cover | David Bowie’s Boys Keep Swinging

Bowie’s brilliant ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ was built on an identical chord sequence as ‘Fantastic Voyage’, a point noticed by very few people when the two were paired as a single in 1979.


Over time it has become common knowledge that the first single from Lodger (1979), and its B-side, used the same chords. However now with the wonders of modern technology, we can clearly hear that they are exactly the same song, both musically and structurally.

Listen to the dramatic vocals of ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ set to the seductive grandeur of ‘Fantastic Voyage’. The musical elements of the album’s brooding opener, induced by dual pianos and three mandolins, are in contrast to Bowie’s edgy, weirdly blank vocal take and gender-bending lyrics, with background singers. It could be a completely different song.

Its counterpart, ‘Fantastic Voyage’ similarly has a majestic vocal paired with the ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ backing track.

Bowie’s band had famously swapped instruments to record the number creating something of a wild swagger. Carlos Alomar appeared in the unfamiliar role of drummer, and Dennis Davis did his best with the bass, helped out by some overdubs from Tony Visconti on the more difficult parts, while Adrian Belew created sonic textures on his Stratocaster.

It’s all very clever. Can someone send me the link to the Marvin Gaye estate’s lawyers?

Further Reading:

♥   Didn’t Know It Was A Cover | David Bowie’s Red Sails

♥   Didn’t Know It Was a Cover | Steve Miller Band’s Jet Airliner

♥   Didn’t Know It Was a Cover | Kiss’ King of the Night Time World

♥   Didn’t Know It Was A Cover | Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding

♥   Didn’t Know It Was A Cover | The Flying Burrito Brothers’ Wild Horses

♥   Didn’t Know It Was A Cover | David Gilmour’s There’s No Way Out Of Here

Posted in David Bowie, Didn't Know It Was a Cover | 16 Comments

Stephen Malkmus – Groove Denied

Pavement mainman Stephen Malkmus’ 8th solo album was a radical new direction for the alt-rock hero, owing as much to DIY German synth-pop as late-70s high-tech experimentalism. Released after a sojourn in Berlin having jettisoned his backing-band the Jicks, Malkmus blends post-punk rhythms with his usual wry lyrics on the 10-track electronic outlier Groove Denied (2019), the latest album to get The Press’ song-ranking treatment.


Created in his Portland home basement with a stack of synths and drum machines, the album’s title was inspired by his long-time record label Matador’s initial rejection of the material in 2017. The story goes that President and founder Chris Lombardi, seemingly indifferent to the record’s charms, personally flew to the artist’s home to deliver the bad news. Lombardi remembers Malkmus answering the door.

“Am I dropped?”

Malkmus started writing Groove Denied while he was living in Berlin in the early 2010s and wanted to make a different kind of record. He bought some production gear and microphones and set up for recording, immediately hitting on a sound that was different and inspiring for the artist. He was avoiding his customary way of going about things, jolting himself out of a routine, he commented at the time, “It’s fun to mess with things that you’re not supposed to.”

The material could’ve easily been retooled into Jicks jams, however as the songs materialised, he decided to keep the primitive DIY beginnings, and not refine them by bringing them to a band.


Driven by spontaneity and a nod to the pioneering Krautrock experimentalism of Kraftwerk and Can, the wilfully irreverent Groove Denied takes cues from the primitive, proto-industrial synthwave of Reproduction-era Human League, instead of the gnarled guitars of The Fall, resulting in the musical maestro creating a new atmospheric sound all his own.

Think McCartney II rather than Metal Machine Music

Overseeing production and engineering duties himself, Malkmus is also responsible for all instrumentation, including: guitar, bass, organ, drums, drum machines, Roland 2080 and Memorymoog. A true solitary effort.

That’s not to say this is an entirely kitchen-sink affair. The press release hype shouted, Stephen Malkmus is working with ProTools and Ableton and drum pads”, and the first half of the record certainly delivers on that approach, but the further the album goes the more normal service resumes.

The second side very quickly starts to sound like prime Malkmus – the synths enriching his signature fuzz-coated songcraft, instead of the other way around


The record was held off until after the next project, the “safer” more classic sounding companion piece Sparkle Hard (2018), an album that featured some of the most endearing and incisive writing of Malkmus’ career. A preferred choice to re-introduce the ex-Pavement leader into the marketplace after a four-year hiatus according to Matador Records.

“They didn’t want to put it out,” said Malkmus at the time. “Or they thought it was dumb to put it out first because it was a head-scratcher.” It was eventually released in March 2019.

Released deep into an impressive solo career, it found Malkmus pushing the perceived boundaries of his music, ultimately producing a captivating opus. Head scratcher or not, Groove Denied was an experiment that didn’t overwhelm the artist’s singular charms.


Groove Denied in action

Tracks Ranked:

10. Viktor Borgia

Archly delivered meta-lyrics over a minimalist disco groove, the first single had a cool clip to accompany it’s primitive, arpeggio loops and Kraftwerk-ian tone clusters. There’s not a guitar in sight yet magical moments abound, such as an odd semi-discordant ascending melody refrain. An avalanche of synths join in towards the end.

9. A Bit Wilder

This is about as experimental is it gets here. The esoteric ‘A Bit Wilder’, Track 2 on Groove Denied, has a Gary Numan-esque loping bass over a perfectly fine drum pattern, and stream-of-conscious lyrics, until it suddenly switches mid-song into a bizarre corkscrew loop.

8. Boss Viscerate

An acoustic shuffle and a minimal drum beat accompany some jaywalking word play, “I barely tried to understand your grace, the way you occupy prosaic space…Blood wars and victims cheat, they say they love you when they talk so sweet to you, get off your high horse, let me on.” A dusty folk number, Steve’s signature finger-slides all over the acoustic bass, precise but laid-back, evoking Brighten the Corners-era Pavement.

7. Forget Your Place

A slow-motion, ambient techno loop and treated vocals recalling early Beta Band at their wooziest, the quasi-electric palette of ‘Forget Your Place’ swirls by in a drowsy drone of hidden melodies, bubbling synths, and random sounds – a genuinely experimental Side 1 closer.

5. Love the Door

Vintage Malkmus with a lighter touch, think ‘No Tan Lines’ – a controlled groove with a relaxed yet clever melody.

6. Come Get Me

This excellent two-minute wonder could well be a flab-free demo version of any given Jicks rocker. Yet a simple affecting groove flows from mellow acoustic picking, it chugs along as Malkmus delivers a vocal with a compelling mix of agility and apathy. Everything works on this track, even the anti-muso guitar solo.

4. Rushing the Acid Frat

A guitar-based one-man-band rocker with a Velvets rumble, ‘Rushing…’ kicks off Side 2 and finds Steve introducing twang and wah-wah into the track, with pretty wild results.

3. Grown Nothing

The album closer is a lovely lounge-influenced wanderer, a gentle arm-wrestle between heart-on-sleeve romance and tongue-in-cheek irony, with every syllable is a careful fit to the music. “You were the fizz”. A very special number: Optimistic, nostalgic and melodic, the guitars shimmer and fade as the album comes to an exquisite close.

2. Belziger Faceplant

Track 1 off the album is definitely the weirdest. The four-and-a-half minute instrumental ‘Belziger Faceplant’ starts out arrhythmically minimal and scratchy, more concerned with texture than melody, then jabbing synth bleats spar with clashing beats via a sputtering drum-machine pattern perfectly complimenting the song’s rupture and discombobulation. Towards the end it breaks down into a pile-on-space-synth solo. An epic and a huge favourite.

1. Ocean of Revenge

A mid-tempo masterclass sets aside the flirtation with drum machines resulting in an unashamedly lovely semi-acoustic ballad with great live drumming and guitars, and a double-tracked vocal. Boasting an effortlessly serpentine melody of the first water, it’s a song that can that stand alongside Steve Malkmus’ finest work.

Buy Groove Denied from Matador Records.


Further Reading:

♥     #17: Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Mirror Traffic (2011)

♥     Pavement – Top 50 Songs

♥     Pavement | Sydney & Melbourne 2023

♥     Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted Album Cover (1992)

Posted in Pavement, Rank the Songs, Stephen Malkmus | 7 Comments

The Lemon Twigs – Everything Harmony

New York’s The Lemon Twigs release their long awaited fourth full-length studio album, Everything Harmony (2023).


On Everything Harmony the prodigiously talented brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario offer 13 original songs showcasing an emotional depth and musical sophistication far beyond their years. The follow up to 2020’s excellent Songs for the General Public, the band continue to devour musical influences from their diverse and eclectic influences, once again effortlessly arriving at a cohesive and dynamic sound all their own.

Everything Harmony is a unified song cycle born of shared blood and common purpose. With two musical heads being better than one, there’s no shortage of ideas to draw on. Their only impediments are time and the challenge of keeping up with their own prolific musical inspiration.


Released as the album teaser track, their first single in two years, Corner of My Eye channels an Art Garfunkel-like vocal melody over a moody, vibraphone-tinged backing track suggesting the chamber pop of Brian Wilson. The next track to feature a teaser video is Any Time of Day, and the immaculate In My Head.

The new album was mostly written and recorded between 2020 and 2021, when tracking for the album began at a rehearsal studio in Manhattan. Following the release of their third album in 2020, record label chaos ensued after a three-album run with 4AD, the brothers parted ways and joined Captured Tracks, a Brooklyn-based independent label, and now we finally have the release of this long awaited new LP record. The Lemon Twigs are officially back, and The Press cannot be happier.


  1. When Winter Comes Around
  2. In My Head
  3. Corner Of My Eye
  4. Any Time Of Day
  5. What You Were Doing
  6. I Don’t Belong To Me
  7. Every Day Is The Worst Day Of My Life
  8. What Happens To A Heart
  9. Still It’s Not Enough
  10. Born To Be Lonely
  11. Ghost Run Free
  12. Everything Harmony
  13. New To Me

Release date: 5 May 2023

All songs written by Brian and Michael D’Addario
Produced by The Lemon Twigs

Recorded at The Music Building, Midtown Manhattan
January – September 2021

Hyde Street Studios, San Francisco CA
September – October 2021

Mixed at The Lemon Twigs’ Studio, NYC
April 2022

Buy The Lemon Twigs’ Everything Harmony at Bandcamp.

Further Reading:

♥     The Lemon Twigs – Bowery Ballroom, NYC (2021)

♥     The Lemon Twigs – Songs for the General Public (2020)

♥     The Lemon Twigs – Foolin’ Around/Tailor Made (2018)

♥     The Lemon Twigs Official

Posted in Bandcamp, Lemon Twigs, The | 6 Comments

More Album Cover Outtakes

The album cover image for Lou Reed’s New York was based conceptually on a 1932 photograph by Brassai called “La bande du grand Albert” of a Parisian gang standing in an alley.

The cover for Lou Reed’s iconic New York (1989) album was a collaborative design by Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz, with the original concept conceived by Lou and his then wife Sylvia Reed.

Long time collaborator Waring Abbott shot Lou in different clothes, stances and styles, superimposed the figures together, and composed the image to look like a real street gang consisting of five Lou’s on the same street scene. The Castellar font treatment is commanding, while the New York title lettering blends into the brick wall background with the rest of the graffiti. The photo is a blue monochrome apart from the shoes/boots which are black, but the colours do seem to vary across different pressings/issues of the album.

The concept was based on an old famous photo of a Parisian street gang by Austro-Hungarian photographer Brassaï, “La bande du grand Albert”. Brassaï found poetry in the derelict and was best known for photographing candid night-time scenes in the Montparnasse district of Paris, an area populated with artists, streetwalkers, petty criminals, and prostitutes. Brassaï was dubbed “the eye of Paris” and made an name for himself by capturing both the seedier sides of the French capital and its high society. With this image, Brassaï immortalises the Parisian bad boys of the early 1930s and exaggerates a menacing sense of darkness by printing the bottom of the image black, extending the picture beyond the edge of the negative.

The images were taken of Lou posing for the portraits in Franklin Place, Lower Manhattan by Waring Abbott in 1988. The street today still has an assortment of graffiti covering the same brick wall, the same recognisable pavement grilles, and, ironically a ‘No Standing Anytime‘ sign.

In the 16th Episode of Indie Cafe, award-winning album designers Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz, and recording artist/producer Patrick Bamburak, welcome Sylvia Reed, to discuss her album and stage design work with Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground.  

Sylvia Reed, the second wife and manager of Lou, was his constant companion and partner for eighteen years of music and artistic collaboration during what may be the most prolific period of his life and career. Sylvia collaborated on album covers such as The Blue Mask, Growing Up in Public, Legendary Hearts, New Sensations, Mistrial and Songs for Drella

Sylvia Reed also collaborated with Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz on designs for Reed’s Magic and Loss, and The Velvet Undergound Redux Live MCMXCIII albums and promotional material, which are discussed as part of this wide-ranging, and informative interview.  

NB: Thanks to emi72 from the Steve Hoffman Music Forum for the information and inspiration, and special thanks to Sylvia Reed for personally providing me information on the New York cover design, and the above video.

Further Reading:

♥    Lou Reed’s New Sensations (1984) – More Album Cover Outtakes

♥   Lou Reed – Top 50 Solo Songs

♥   Average Guy – Lou in the 80s

♥   #15: Lou Reed – The Bells (1979)

♥    Photos by Waring Abbott

♥   Double Albums: UnDoubled – Rock ‘n Roll Animal & Lou Reed Live

Posted in Album Covers, Images, Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, The | 9 Comments

John Lennon – #9 Dream

This slice of sublime pop from John Lennon’s Walls and Bridges album features background vocals from May Pang, John and Yoko’s Chinese-American personal assistant who became his lover in 1974.


It could be assumed that it was Yoko Ono who provided the whispered vocal on ‘#9 Dream’. After all it was Yoko who put together a video for the song in 2005, and included footage of her lip-syncing to May’s vocal overdubs, adding to the confusion. It was however Lennon’s 22-year old companion May Pang who added the sultry “John” overdubs at the Record Plant East in New York City in August 1974.

Inception: Coinciding with his split from Yoko, May Pang went from assistant to lover of the ex-Beatle during his ‘lost weekend’ phase in America in the mid-70s. During this time, Lennon had recorded with Mick Jagger, Elton John, David Bowie, and Harry Nilsson, and had amassed some compositions during the aborted Rock and Roll sessions, an oldies project overseen by crazed producer Phil Spector.

What followed was one of Lennon’s most satisfying solo projects, WALLS AND BRIDGES (1974) ★★★★.  Released on Apple Records, it included a lot of strong material, particularly the melodically diverse career highlight, and second single, ‘#9 Dream’.

American recording engineer Jimmy Iovine was involved in the session. The core musicians included Jim Keltner on drums, Klaus Voormann on bass guitar, Jesse Ed Davis on guitar, Arthur Jenkins on percussion, Nicky Hopkins on electric piano, with John’s Martin acoustic guitar way up in the mix.

Lennon liked the string arrangement he wrote for Harry Nilsson’s rendition of “Many Rivers to Cross“, originally by Jimmy Cliff, from the album Pussy Cats (1974) so much that he decided to incorporate it into the song he had famously said, ‘came to me in a dream.’

Recording: The Record Plant East was one of the most state-of-the-art recording studios in New York at that point, and Lennon’s vocal overdubs were done with an old stage microphone they had found. Iovine said that “it was an old beat up one … so it was dull in a way, but John’s voice was so bright, that it sounded incredible on it. It turned out to be great vocal sound on ‘#9 Dream’.

For the overdub session, May was called with the message that “John needs you.” She walked into a blacked-out studio with a spot lit mic and headset, not unlike the atmosphere when Phil Spector used to record Ronnie’s vocal takes. Then Lennon said: I want you to whisper ‘John’ in a sexy voice, as he played the backing track.

It was his idea to have her sing it, and she did. Later in the song her voice was tracked backwards. May also sings background vocals on the song’s refrain, Ah! Bowakawa, pousse pousse, lulling the listener into a dream.

Aftermath: During their whirlwind, 18-month relationship, May Pang helped to reunite Lennon with his long-estranged son Julian, introduced him to beef jerky, and reconnected the former Beatle to his love for rock & roll. The album included the US No.1 hit single, ‘Whatever Gets You Through the Night’, commercially reinvigorating one of the greatest figures in music.

The smooth and richly textured ‘#9 Dream’ was released as the single in January 1975, charting at number 23 in the UK, and aptly peaking at number 9 on the US charts. The album went to number 1 in the US.

Lennon would separate from May Pang and famously reunite with Yoko shortly after his last ever live appearance at Madison Square Garden with Elton John in 1975, but she was more just a passing fling. Lennon also wrote the very good album track, ‘Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox)’, for her, featuring Elton on harmony vocal.

The forthcoming movie The Lost Weekend: A Love Story exploring the 18-month romantic relationship between Lennon and Pang, is out in US cinemas on 13 April with a UK date to be announced, while an exhibit of May’s photos has already hit the road across the US. Here’s where to track the latest on May’s photo exhibit and the film:

Further Listening:

♥    258: May the First – The Lost Weekend with May Pang – Something About the Beatles Podcast.

Posted in Beatles, The, John Lennon | 14 Comments

Pavement | Sydney & Melbourne 2023

American indie-rockers Pavement performed in Sydney and Melbourne for the first time in 12 years as part of the Australian leg of their heroic sold-out 2022/23 world straddling tour.


One of the most original, sincere and distinctive bands of the 1990s, Pavement began life in Stockton, California, in 1989 with childhood friends Steven Malkmus (vocals, guitar) and Scott Kannberg (guitar, vocals), aka ‘Spiral Stairs’, founding the band, before adding primitive drummer and one-man circus, Gary Young, a weird middle-aged stoner who ran the studio.

Together they created three early EP’s that may have had precarious lo-fi recording techniques, yet their jagged melodies and lyrical flair was instantly present. They would go on to create a well-deserved major buzz on the underground scene with the release of their now-canonised debut album, SLANTED AND ENCHANTED (1992) ★★★★★, topping the indie charts throughout Europe.

Lurching down clever avenues of songcraft, then shrieking up noisy cul-de-sac’s, the album was an original piece of work. What followed was the formation of a complete band. Percussionist Bob Nastanovich, and later bassist Mark Ibold, bolstered their thin sound, and after the release of the excellent EP Watery, Domestic, and early recordings comp WESTING (BY MUSKET AND SEXTANT) (1993) ★★★★½, they replaced Gary Young with classic rock drummer Steve West, going on to record the strikingly resplendent CROOKED RAIN, CROOKED RAIN (1994) ★★★★★.

The album and hit single ‘Cut Your Hair’ launched the critical darlings onto mainstream live TV, earning rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. The materialising kingpins of slacker sophistication on the alt-rock scene of the early ’90s, embarked on sell-out dates across the US, Europe, Australia, and the Far East, ready to take on the world, and they were an exciting festival attraction to boot. 


Just when they were dressed for success, it never really came with the release of their third album, the huge, unwieldy, 18-track masterpiece WOWEE ZOWEE (1995) ★★★★★. A less immediate collection, it confused the general record-buying public, yet possessed a musical breadth and depth that rewarded with repeated listens. The result of an intense three week recording session in Memphis, cutting nearly 30 songs, the album captured the languid, almost careless feel of their chaotic live performances, while featuring more breathtaking diversity than ever before with unique stop-start experimentalism and magical tunes.

Never allowing themselves to be pigeon-holed, Pavement would again change gears with the mature and sumptuous BRIGHTEN THE CORNERS (1997) ★★★★★, a profoundly satisfying and flawless record showing their warmer and softer side, it was another intriguing step in the band’s evolution, effortlessly embracing prog-leanings alongside starry-eyed pop.

The band would close out the decade with their final album TERROR TWILIGHT (1999) ★★★★, a Nigel Godrich produced work, expanding on the groundwork, and relaxed jangles laid down on their previous LP. The band then broke up amid musical differences and an exhausting touring schedule, only for the melodically gifted Malkmus, and Kannberg, to embark on prolific solo careers.   

Pavo Set

Pavement would then reform in 2010, and again in 2022, to evoke their timeless glow for appreciative audiences throughout the globe with ever-changing set lists covering their crucial 1990s output. Which brings us to March 2023, Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, where Pavement ultimately delivered two of the great rock shows in recent memory.

2 March 2023, Enmore Theatre, Sydney.

When the band hit the stage the energy was palpable. Over the years their live song selections were always brilliantly erratic, and tonight was no different. They opened with a gentle Wowee Zowee album cut, before launching into a plethora of some of their finest material.

With the addition of keyboardist Rebecca Cole, the classic Pavement line up was in tact, and despite this being their second reformation some 24 years after their original break up, they are still the lopsided, clattering, crooning beast they always were. The set list careered between classic album tracks, obscure b-sides, back catalogue rarities, and popular “hits”.

The majority of the songs were sung by main songwriter Steve Malkmus in his characteristically laconic, conversational style that allows for undercurrents of discomfort, limitation and self-sabotage, but his performance tonight was far from emotionless. He was wringing every emotional depth he could out of the songs, and his heroic guitar solos wandered in and out of the classic tunes laid down by the band.

Spiral’s guitar treatments were on point, especially on ‘Spit On a Stranger’, and the set list included several gems written and sung by the co-founding guitarist, his key contributions always created a fine balance on Pavement records and EPs. Hype-man Bob Nastanovich piled on extra percussion and additional vocals, and between song banter, while Steve West steadily kept time. Bassist Mark Ibold stood centre stage as always, smiling and stepping along to the beat. It was an explosive performance, and the final encore medley of ‘Cut You Hair’ and ‘Fillmore Jive’ closed the show in spectacular fashion.

Set List

Motion Suggests
Gold Soundz
Kennel District
Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse)
Silence Kid
Transport Is Arranged
Father to a Sister of Thought
Shady Lane
Serpentine Pad
Harness Your Hopes
Spit on a Stranger
Type Slowly
Trigger Cut
Debris Slide
The Hexx
Painted Soldiers
Range Life

In the Mouth a Desert
Summer Babe
Cut Your Hair
Fillmore Jive


3 March 2023, Palais Theatre, Melbourne.

The Melbourne show was completely different to the night before. For starters the venue was seated, as Malkmus sauntered onto a spot-lit stage, guitar in hand, with only the drummer accompanying him for the languorous Slanted and Enchanted closer, ‘Our Singer’. It soon found the audience on their feet. Slowly, Stop Making Sense-style, each band member appeared individually to rapturous applause, a bit like a family reunion.

The mood of the entire show was slow and steady. Malkmus at times half a beat behind the rest of the band, pulling the already unhurried tempos down to a crawl on the twin epics ‘Type Slowly’ and ‘Stop Breathin’. But when they needed to explode, explode they did. Rockers such as ‘Embassy Row’, ‘Two States’, ‘Unfair’ and ‘Stereo’ tore the roof off the place, and between songs Bob was handing out ping pong balls to the audience and chatting to the band.

Towards the end of the performance, before a set-closing nine minute cover of Jim Pepper’s ‘Witchi Tai To’, Malkmus introduced each band member at length, with humorous and heartfelt aplomb. Even Gary Young was acknowledged as the important member he was. It felt like something of a final farewell from this legendary group, and a fitting end to a genuinely great couple of evenings.

Set List

Our Singer


Black Out

Kennel District

Father to a Sister of Thought

Shady Lane


Gold Soundz



Embassy Row

Zurich Is Stained

Two States

Major Leagues


Range Life

Stop Breathin’

Harness Your Hopes

Starlings of the Slipstream

Type Slowly

Summer Babe



Spit on a Stranger

Painted Soldiers


Cut Your Hair

Witchi Tai To

Further Reading:

♥    Pavement | Top 50 Songs

♥    Pavement | Slanted and Enchanted (1992)

♥    Silver Jews | Drinking Coke in the Kitchen with a Dog

♥    Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks | Mirror Traffic (2011)

Live 2023 band photos by L. Stack & P. Brown.

Pavement poster by Liam Stewart.

Posted in Gigs, Pavement, Purple Mountains, Silver Jews, Stephen Malkmus | 9 Comments

David Bowie – The 1980 Floor Show

It’s been 50 years since the first season of The Midnight Special and now they are back via their official YouTube channel with a series of extraordinary and officially unreleased David Bowie performances from 1973.


The Midnight Special was an American late-night musical variety series originally broadcast on NBC during the 1970s and early 1980s, created and produced by Burt Sugarman.

Recorded live in October and broadcast into the USA on 16 November 1973 at London’s Marquee Club, 90 Wardour Street in Soho, this newly restored footage and audio of Bowie during his highly theatrical Pin Ups-era performance of The 1980 Floor Show, has recently been uploaded onto the Midnight Special channel.


Some of the outfits are way over the top, and the performance is Bowie’s last gasp of glam rock before letting the band go and moving on to Diamond Dogs and the plastic soul of Young Americans. The performance was never broadcast in the UK.

At present there are seven songs online, expect a couple more to follow:

Sorrow / Space Oddity / I Can’t Explain / Time / The Jean Genie / I Got You Babe (with Marianne Faithfull on guest vocal) / 1984-You Didn’t Hear it From Me

Joining Bowie on stage includes a scintillating Mick Ronson (electric guitar, backing vocals), soon to be ex-Spider From Mars bassist Trevor Bolder, Mike Garson (keyboards), Aynsley Dunbar on drums, and on background vocals The Astronettes: Ava Cherry, Jason Guess, Geoffrey MacCormack (aka Warren Peace).

Posted in David Bowie, European Rock Pilgrimage, Gigs, Mainman, Mick Ronson, Never Heard It Before...Until Now!, Performance of the Day | 16 Comments

More Album Cover Outtakes

The front cover to the Minutemen’s enduring masterpiece, the 45-track Double Nickels on the Dime, featured a photo of Mike Watt driving his Volkswagen beetle southbound on highway 10, aka “The Dime”, to his home in San Pedro, CA.


Emerging from the greater-LA post-punk scene in the early-80s, the Minutemen were not your average loud/fast trio. The band’s kind of rock was studied yet swinging, precise but full of fun, and incorporated a tuneful mix of jazz and hardcore, played with a rough angularity with a depth to their sound and arrangements. Bassist Watt, singer/guitarist D. Boon, and drummer George Hurley’s music lurched from drunken-grooves to agit-funk and back again, best displayed on their now-canonised classic, Double Nickels on the Dime (1984).

The album cover was taken by buddy of the band, Dirk Vandenberg, as Watt drove under the sign to San Pedro. A response to Sammy Hagar’s hit single ‘I Can’t Drive 55’, the photo finds Watt bang on the national speed limit at the time, “double nickels” (55 mph), driving through downtown Los Angeles. The LA Grand Hotel Downtown can be seen on the left.

It took three tries down highway 10, colloquially known as “The Dime”, before the Minutemen were happy with the result. The photographer later commented: “There were three elements that Mike Watt wanted in the photo: a natural kind of glint in his eyes reflected in the rear-view mirror, the speedometer pinned exactly at 55mph, and, of course, the San Pedro sign guiding us home”.

Out from Pedro, from state to state, meet Mike Watt and D. Boon

The cover concept overlapped somewhat with the German electronic band Kraftwerk’s Autobahn (1974) sleeve. The Minutemen even used snippets of car engine sounds at the head of each side. Watt said in 2020 that “this was not a fuckin accident: I asked my buddy Dirk Vandenberg to somehow capture this and he fuckin did”, sneakily bridging the two iconic images. And not even charging us a bridge toll!

NB: Thanks to emi72 from the Steve Hoffman Music Forum for the information and inspiration.

Posted in Album Covers, Minutemen | 8 Comments

The Rolling Stones | Montsalvat, 1973

Montsalvat Castle, an artist’s commune in Melbourne’s east, has been the location for countless film shoots, parties and special events, including a visit from The Rolling Stones 50 years ago to the day.


In February 1973, The Rolling Stones returned to Australia for the first time since 1966, and were arguably at the peak of their career – the tour saw them mainly performing material from their two most recent albums Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main St.

Widely covered in the media, the band held an afternoon press conference at the Montsalvat Arts Village in Eltham, the day before their sold-out Melbourne concert at the Kooyong Tennis Stadium. ABC-TV’s rock show GTK, searching for a suitable venue to film an interview with the world’s hottest rock stars, scheduled a gathering within the exquisite surrounds of Montsalvat which provided the appropriate stylistic vibe for the Stones.


Prior to the tour there were fears that it might not go ahead, due to previous drug convictions incurred by various members of the group. On 4 January 1973 Australia’s Immigration Ministry announced that Mick Jagger would not be allowed into their country due to his prior drugs convictions. However shortly thereafter the Immigration Minister Al Grassby approved the band’s visas, enabling the tour to go ahead. This is briefly touched on in the video (link above).

At the press conference, the Stones were also peppered with such questions such as “Keith, with respect, you look a bit like the Wreck of the Hesperus with the kind of gear you’re wearing … why do you like to dress the way you do?” Keith Richards countered by asking the strait-laced interviewer why he dressed the way he did, and added the observation that Australia’s attitude to visiting bands had given it the reputation of “the most inhospitable country to visit”.

After a banquet with open bar in the Great Hall, band members scattered individually around a picturesque reflecting pool, Gothic-style buildings and hand-carved gargoyles, entertaining a well-lubricated press corps.

There were a few drug-related incidents during the Australian tour, one of which reportedly resulted in a crew member being sent out of the country, but considering that Keith was then at the height of his heroin addiction, the tour was remarkably trouble-free.

Keith Richards, Monsalvat 1973 (Photo Rennie Ellis) was taken outside the Great Hall at Montsalvat. The photo of me looking a right berk in the same location was taken on 26 Feb 2023. A complete fluke. It took me about one minute to find that location today. 

Untitled 2

At Montsalvat that day, the informalities helped young Australian rock writer Jenny Brown, invite the Stones to her 21st birthday in North Balwyn. But that’s another story.

Another was in Melbourne, Australia. She had a baby. Sweet, shy, unassuming, she was on the scuppers; the old man had left her with the kid. She could get me pure cocaine, pharmaceutical. And she kept coming to the hotel to deliver, so I went, hey, why don’t I just move in? Living in the suburbs of Melbourne for a week with a mother and child was kind of weird. Within four or five days I was like a right Australian old man. Sheila, where’s my fucking breakfast? Here’s your breakfast, darling. It was like I’d been there forever. And it felt great, man. I can do this, just a little semidetached. I’d take care of the baby; she went to work. I was husband for the week. Changed the baby’s diapers. There’s somebody in a suburb in Melbourne who doesn’t even know I wiped his ass.– KEITH RICHARDS, Life

Further Reading:

   The Rolling Stones | Emotional Rescue Outtakes & Demos

   The Rolling Stones | Drift Away

   The Rolling Stones | Still Life (1982)

   The Rolling Stones | Top 5 Modern-Era Tracks

   More Album Cover Outtakes | Tattoo You (1981)

Posted in European Rock Pilgrimage, On This Day, Rolling Stones, The | 26 Comments

David Gilmour’s Best Songs

As the primary architect of Pink Floyd’s sweeping signature sound, Dave Gilmour’s ever-distinctive vocal and guitar style is often mesmeric. The Press compiles 13 of his finest moments.


We all know the story: When most bands would call it a day, David Gilmour replaced original Pink Floyd visionary and bandleader Syd Barrett as guitarist and lead vocalist, appearing on the band’s second album SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS (1968) ★★★. Then found his own voice and style around proper follow up studio album MEDDLE (1971) ★★★★★, before carrying on throughout the 1970s and early-80s with the classic Pink Floyd line-up, to become one of the biggest bands on the planet.

During this time, Gilmour released two very good solo albums, firstly DAVID GILMOUR (1978) ★★★★, and the Bob Ezrin-produced ABOUT FACE (1984) ★★★. However a second crisis loomed with the departure of bassist, lyricist and genius conceptualist Roger Waters in 1986 followed by his attempted dissolution of the band, proceeding bitter legal action, and slanging matches in the press which continues to this very day.

This was all to no avail. Waters had forgotten that, just like Barrett before him, he might’ve been the leader of the band internally but to the public he was a distant faceless figure on record and on stage, half-hidden behind dry ice, lights, and an inflatable pig. Waters created the brilliant concepts and wrote the lyrics, but it was Gilmour who was behind a lot of their greatest music and that classic guitar-based sound.

The re-energised band continued on under Gilmour’s steady direction, along with Roxy guitarist Phil Manzanera, with drummer Nick Mason and newly rehabilitated keyboardist Rick Wright, contributing to release a new Pink Floyd studio album, the majestic A MOMENTARY LAPSE OF REASON (1987) ★★★★★, to mixed reviews.

An extensive sold-out tour followed along with the release of the mega-selling live document THE DELICATE SOUND OF THUNDER (1989) ★★★, before the band regrouped for another album in 1994, THE DIVISION BELL ★★★. Here the Gilmour-led Floyd sounded infinitely more ‘classic-Floyd’ than any late-era Roger-led Floyd albums, and featured increasingly significant musical contributions from Wright and Mason among the many session musicians.


Following the untimely passing of Wright in 2008, Gilmour dedicated the band’s final instalment THE ENDLESS RIVER (2014) ★★, to the late keyboard player and followed that up with his fourth solo album RATTLE THAT LOCK (2015) ★★★, continuing to work with some of the most respected names in British rock.

While avoiding the timeless material of the classic Floyd albums of the ’70s and ’80s, these cuts touch on some of the finest moments of Gilmour’s early, and late career tracks with the band, and underrated solo work, highlighting the beauty and bedazzlement of his spacious moods and incisive Stratocaster guitar sound.

  1. There’s No Way Out of HereDavid Gilmour (1978)
  2. FearlessMeddle (1971)
  3. Wot’s …Uh the DealObscured by Clouds (1972)
  4. MihalisDavid Gilmour (1978)
  5. MurderAbout Face (1984)
  6. MaroonedThe Division Bell (1994)
  7. Childhood’s EndObscured by Clouds (1972)
  8. This HeavenOn An Island (2006)
  9. Louder Than WordsThe Endless River (2014)
  10. Fat Old SunAtom Heart Mother (1970)
  11. And Then…Rattle That Lock (2015)
  12. Pillow of Winds – Meddle (1971)
  13. SorrowA Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)

Further Reading:

♥   Didn’t Know It Was A Cover | David Gilmour’s ‘There’s No Way Out Of Here’

♥   Pink Floyd | A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)

♥   Pink Floyd | Madison Square Garden, 1977

♥   Pink Floyd | Animals Remix (2022)

♥   Roger Waters | Melbourne Concert (2018)

Posted in David Gilmour, Mixtapes, Pink Floyd | 13 Comments

Top 5 Songs – Joan Armatrading

Underrated British singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading can point to a fine body of recorded work over a 50-year career. Her material typically melds the rhythmic intensity of Afro-American blues with jazz, soul, and rock, elevated by sophisticated lyrics and melodies. A born entertainer with a huge amount of natural talent, she has secured a niche in the rock music scene. Join The Press as we count down the artist’s Top 5 Songs.


Joan Armatrading grew up in the industrial city of Birmingham in the 1960s listening to whatever pop music was being played on the radio in a period where the transition from old style pop to the new rock style was affecting a generation of young Britons. Her interest in music grew and she began teaching herself piano, and later guitar where she developed her own percussive style, playing locally, even successfully auditioning for the UK touring company of the hippy-rock musical Hair.

But by 1970 Joan had slowly built up a following with her powerful singing with feeling and emotion, not to mention her excellent guitar chops, before moving to London with a recording contract and making her way as a writer and performer.

Her debut album, the bittersweet Whatever’s for Us, released in 1972 on A&M, was something of a collaborative affair with lyricist Pam Nestor, another West Indian immigrant, who contributed heavily to all but two songs. Produced by Gus Dudgeon and recorded at the Château d’Hérouville in France with several members of Elton John’s band, the collaborative album was not a commercial success, however many observers detected something very promising in the recording artist.


By 1975 Joan was going it alone, and accumulating a loyal fanbase. She took a hiatus due to a restrictive management contract, and disillusioned by the process of navigating male egos in the studio, eventually releasing the excellent Back to the Night (1975), before her next album, the immaculate Joan Armatrading (1976), drew even more accolades on both sides of the Atlantic – critics at the time considering it one of the best albums of the 1970s – and drawing her first commercial success.

It was the first in a series of albums produced by Glyn Johns, displaying her lyrical ability in dealing with personal relationships and probing the human condition, while also making you smile, all in a tasteful and well-recorded way.

At the dawn of the 1980s, Armatrading had moved with the times and folded in synthesizer and horns into her recorded repertoire, starting with Me Myself I (1980), and the Steve Lillywhite-produced, Walk Under Ladders (1981).

The musicians backing her on these albums were of the first water, including: Chris Spedding, half of the E-Street Band, Andy Partridge, Sly & Robbie, Thomas Dolby, Ray Cooper, and Tony Levin.

In support of the albums, she embarked on well-received tours of the US, Europe, and several countries in the Far East, and by 1983 had released a couple of her most successful hit albums, The Key, featuring Adrian Belew and Stewart Copeland (among others), and the compilation album Track Record nicely summarising her early work.

For all that is great about these early albums in the first half of her career, it was also there in her later work where the artist would continue to write and record at regular intervals and perform around the world to rapturous audiences.

The 72-year old Joan Armatrading was the first black female singer-songwriter to come to prominence in the UK, and remains one of the finest of her generation, as this selection of Top 5 Songs suggests.

Joan ArmatradingTop 5 Songs

5. Me Myself I

Joyous single and title track from her 1980 album, the song features jazz bassist Marcus Miller but found her moving towards a more rockier sound. This song was one her most successful singles, reaching number 21 on the UK Singles Chart.

4. Drop the Pilot

The first single to released from The Key, the infectious ‘Drop the Pilot’ was a major hit in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, even reaching number 33 on the US Singles Chart. It’s punchy rock arrangement, unconventional structure, and sophisticated synth sound found Armatrading musically reinventing herself, turning towards new wave, while always remaining herself.

3. Show Some Emotion

‘Show Some Emotion’, of the 1977 album of the same name, sees Joan refining her musical identity, finding the confidence to give a tender song like this room to breathe. Glyn Johns manages to find a balance between her natural energy and the melancholy present in the lyric.

2. Rosie

This fine number came off a 1979 EP called How Cruel, and was included on her first compilation album, Track Record. A minor hit in the UK, a more rootsy feel came to light on this reggae-tinged classic.

1. Love and Affection

The definitive Joan Armatrading folk-rock song, the breathtakingly vulnerable ‘Love and Affection’ off her 1976 self titled album, was where the 25-year old musician found her footing, the single becoming her first UK Top Ten hit. It remains one of her most famous and intense songs. The nuanced acoustic guitar work and vocal performance is as good as anything in the genre.

Posted in Joan Armatrading, Producers, Top 5 Songs | 5 Comments

McCartney – Paperback Classics: Vol VI

Two of the all-time best Paul McCartney paperback classics and two songs that just happen to be among the artist’s most timeless recordings either for quality or unrealised hit-potential. The Press unearths these historically interesting tracks for your listening pleasure.


McCartney – Paperback Classics: Vol VI mp3

Ode to a Koala Bear – Recorded on 8 December 1980, this was the last track Paul McCartney recorded while John Lennon was still alive, evoking a poignancy to such a joyous song. Produced by George Martin and engineered by Geoff Emerick, the track glides along with a doo-wopping grin, driven by 50s-styled triplets on the piano and a melodic lead guitar line. It was the original b-side to the chart-topping ‘Say Say Say’ single in 1983 and then remastered and placed on the Deluxe Edition of the Pipes of Peace album in 2015. Much better than its hokey title implies.

Loveliest Thing – A love song written and recorded by McCartney in 1986 while promoting Press to Play, produced by Phil Ramone and performed by Billy Joel’s band in the studio, it was eventually released in 1989 as the B-Side to the ‘Figure Of Eight’ CD single, and pops up on the Super Deluxe edition of Flowers in the Dirt in 2017. A hidden gem, and one of Paul’s absolute best love songs.

Further Listening:

♥    McCartney – Paperback Classics: Vol V

♥    McCartney – Paperback Classics: Vol IV

♥    McCartney – Paperback Classics: Vol III

♥    McCartney – Paperback Classics: Vol II

♥    McCartney – Paperback Classics: Vol I

Posted in Albums That Never Were, Downloads, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Producers | 5 Comments

More Album Cover Outtakes

Artist Charles Burns’ cover for Iggy Pop’s 1990 LP Brick By Brick included references to many of the album’s songs, such as a joint-smoking Kate Pierson, and even Roy Orbison!  


Iggy Pop’s solo career had become something of a hit and miss affair since the release of 1979’s excellent New Values, but in 1990 he returned with his ninth solo album, the Don Was-produced Brick by Brick, clean and sober, and determined to prove himself one of the hardest working professionals in rock and roll.

With Iggy playing more left-handed guitar than ever, it was an album of solid rockers and upbeat ballads, albeit perhaps a fraction too long (14 tracks), and included a long list of musicians including veteran session musos Charley Drayton (bass) and Kenny Aronoff (drums), John Hiatt, and a couple of guest hard rockers in Slash and Duff McKagan. It was also his first album not to feature a portrait of the ageless rocker on the cover sleeve.


Upon being given the job by Iggy’s then record label Virgin, the acclaimed American cartoonist and illustrator Charles Burns was sent a cassette of the album with Iggy’s handwritten song titles, as well as Brick By Brick scrawled on the spine. Burns’ listened to it and got to work. The result was a colourful illustration based on many of the song’s lyrics, with a decaying east coast city the underlying feel.


There’s a blue chap with funny eyes in a packed, claustrophobic street (Main Street Eyes), a glimpse of a starry sky at night (Starry Night), and a few direct references such as “She’s got a joint, she’s got a cute walk” (from ‘Pussy Power’); “The world will sing like a happy bug” (from ‘I Won’t Crap Out’), and “Like a cartoon cat I roam” (from ‘Neon Forest’).

Burns was given a tight deadline, so he had to come up with something fast without any mock-ups or sketches. The finished black and white ink drawing was presented to Iggy in his apartment down on Avenue D in New York. Burns recalls:

He had the album playing on his stereo, and I remember him telling me, “I’m worried about my mom hearing this. There’s a lot of swear words.”

Above, Iggy Pop in his new apartment Tompkins Square East – Don Was, producing his recent album, had asked me to run over to Pop’s house in the same neighborhood I lived & try taking photo for cover– not used, but I liked this clean uplifted finger. Lower East Side Manhattan April 14, 1990. – Allen Ginsberg (photo: Allen Ginsberg courtesy Stanford University Libraries / Allen Ginsberg Estate).

The woman smoking a joint is based loosely on Kate Pierson from the B-52’s, who joined Iggy on the hit single ‘Candy‘. Iggy was inspired to write this classic after reminiscing about his teenage girlfriend, Betsy, and realising that the complexity of their relationship could only be captured as a duet. “I thought, ‘Let’s be fair. Let the girl have her say,'” he said in an interview at the time. “I wanted a girl who would sing with a small-town voice, and Kate has a little twang in her voice that sounds slightly rural and naïve.” 

The contrast between Iggy’s rich baritone and Pierson’s sassy retro cool is poignant, and works well. It was released as the album’s second single in September of 1990 and became the rock icon’s biggest mainstream hit of his career, hitting the US Top 40, and Top 10 in Australia.

N.B: Virgin Records did insist on editing the guy in the centre of the album cover holding the baby wearing a skull mask. In the original version he has black hair and they thought it looked too much like labelmate Roy Orbison who had died recently, and considered it too disrespectful. The edited image became the cover of the 7″ single for ‘Candy’.


Iggy Pop by Charles Burns

Further Reading:

♥    Charles Burns at Loud Alien Noize

Posted in Album Covers, Iggy Pop, Images | 2 Comments

David Crosby – If I Could Only Remember My Name

David Crosby’s debut solo album If I Could Only Remember My Name, was recorded during a traumatic time for the musician. Following the death of his girlfriend Christine Hinton in a car accident, the musician hunkered down in San Francisco with numerous key collaborations from Laurel Canyon and West Coast scene, such as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and members of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, and created something of a musical love-in. Croz’s sublime vocals and languorous approach gives the album a blissful, ethereal, and freak-folk charm, with a dark heart. He would not issue another solo album until 18 years later.


If I Could Only Remember My Name (1971) found a new audience towards the end of the musician’s life, but the story starts with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Almost as soon as they had released their first hugely successful self titled album, the Californian three-part-harmony, and later with the inclusion of Neil Young on the timeless but much darker follow up Déjà Vu (1970), the individual members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were already working on solo projects.

Piqued into action by their incredibly talented colleague’s release of the stunning Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969), and After the Goldrush (1970), Stephen Stills, buzzing with ideas, was the first of the original trio to release his first proper solo (self-titled) album in late-1970. These are all straight ahead, rock singer-songwriter albums. Crosby’s self-produced If I Could Only Remember My Name is a wonderful counterpoint, and so different. It’s jazzy, meandering; a unique and experimental collection of dreamy Californian ambience, featuring angelic chorale-vocal experiments, cosmic storytelling, and effortless rock guitar noodling over transcendental melodies.

Very few albums have as good an acoustic guitar sound as this album, and Crosby’s voice is wild, sleepy and soothing throughout, and while scratchy and at times strained, is always note-perfect. Recorded concurrently with the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty in 1970 at San Francisco’s Wally Heider Studios, the album features a key contribution from exceptional Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, adding his gorgeous pedal steel and electric guitars all over Crosby’s album. He also helped arrange and produce the material for his buddy, adding a resonating warmth and musical joy throughout.


Garcia, Crosby, Young

The album opens with the mantra song ‘Music is Love’, summarising the collective vibe of the album: a bunch of friends in the studio, there for each other, making the music they love. It’s a beautiful sentiment, basically a jam, originally recorded as a warm up number. It ushers in the sound of the album and features accompanying vocals by Nash and Neil.

The shaggy eight-minute ‘Cowboy Movie’ is a groovy folk-rock allegory about Rita Coolidge, but doesn’t really fit the feel of the album, a white-boy blues that drags, unlike the warm embrace of the next track ‘Tamalpais High (At About 3)’, which finds our hero multi-vox folk-scatting over a jazzy arrangement and Garcia’s mesmerising electric guitar outro. The album really starts here.

Side one closes with the Byrds-ian ‘Laughing’ the centrepiece of the album, and If I Could Only Remember My Name‘s most complete track, it features the luminous Joni Mitchell on vocals, some slide from Garcia, and a singularly incredible multi-layered guitar sound.

The brooding ‘What Are Their Names’ opens side two with a slow build finally hitting something of a vocal pinnacle towards the end, although it sounds longer than it’s four minutes and for what it really is; a nice mood-setter. The delicate beauty of ‘Traction in the Rain’ is a stunner. It’s not just the autoharp, but Crosby, while no Neil Young on guitar, loves his crazy guitar tunings and he’s essentially made up his own here; try not to get lost in this song. The next track ‘Song with No Words (Tree with No Leaves)’ is very pretty, but could sit on a CSN album, has no lyrics (spoiler alert), but has exquisite harmonising between Crosby and Nash.

The album closes with two sublime moments. The first is the traditional moment ‘Orleans’, sung in French acapella-style and multi-layered, a lovely arrangement, essentially listing Parisian cathedrals. Crosby’s voice providing a sweeping and swooning effect like an ocean, then halfway through some beautiful guitar joins in. The last song on the album, the moving ‘I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here’, is short but is the essence of the whole album. Crosby is all about vocal stacking, and clearly an incredibly instinctive harmony singer, he improvises a wordless ‘spirit-in-the-room’ musical wake for his late girlfriend; a ghostly and chillingly powerful album closer.


  1. Music is Love
  2. Cowboy Movie
  3. Tamalpais High (At About 3)
  4. Laughing
  5. What Are Their Names
  6. Traction in the Rain
  7. Song With No Words (Tree With No Leaves)
  8. Orleans
  9. I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here

Further Listening:

  1. Neil Young – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969)
  2. Neil Young – After the Goldrush (1970)
  3. Graham Nash – Songs for Beginners (1971)
  4. Stephen Stills – Manassas (1972)
Posted in David Crosby, Neil Young, On This Day | 14 Comments

Iggy Pop / David Bowie Collaborations in 16 Tracks

Iggy Pop and David Bowie were strong musical partners throughout the ’70s and ’80s, and this 16-track compilation provides an insight into the depth and breadth of their collaborations and friendship.


“Some bands do Stones. Some bands do Chuck Berry. I cover Iggy Pop.” – David Bowie

Bowie was significantly inspired and influenced by The Stooges’ ground-breaking late-60s/early-70s records, even going on to produce their 1973 landmark album Raw Power when they shared the same management company Mainmain.

Bowie famously stuck by Iggy at his lowest ebb in the mid-70s, The Thin White Duke inviting him along on his White Light Tour of 1976, before securing a three-record deal with RCA Records. The first was the avant-rock landmark The Idiot, recorded in France, followed by Lust for Life, written, recorded, and mixed at Hansa Studios in Berlin, where the artists were living at the time. Bowie then accompanied Iggy on his triumphant US tour in 1977, playing keyboards alongside the Sales brothers rhythm section and guitarist Ricky Gardiner. The third and final album was the live TV Eye (1978) which features recordings from some of these concerts namely, Cleveland, Chicago, and Kansas City.


“The friendship was basically that this guy salvaged me from certain professional and maybe personal annihilation – simple as that.”- Iggy Pop

Together they served each other as perfect foils. Working together allowed Bowie to get darker in his songwriting, musicianship and production than he would in his solo work, and Iggy able to focus his self-destructive instincts into a mature and refined artistry. Their work together resonates up to this day, and would go on to influence music and artists on both sides of the Atlantic.

David Bowie & Iggy Pop16 Collaborations


1. Sister Midnight – (Bowie, Pop, Alomar) Recorded in Château d’Hérouville, France, in July 1976. Opening track off Iggy’s 1977 solo debut comeback album The Idiot. Earlier, Bowie had included this song on his 1976 tour set list.

2. What in the World – (Bowie) Underrated track off Bowie’s Low album released January 1977, features Iggy prominently on backing vocals.

3. Tonight – (Bowie, Pop) This is the album track on Iggy’s second solo album (Lust for Life) and later covered by Bowie with Tina Turner on backing vocals, before serving as the title track to 1984’s Hugh Padgham produced Tonight for reasons that aren’t clear.


4. Little Miss Emperor – (Bowie, Pop) The first of three co-writes, these tracks lifted from Iggy’s very good Bowie-produced Blah Blah Blah (1986) album.

5. Isolation – (Bowie, Pop) Recorded late April-May 1986, Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland, Blah Blah Blah was Iggy’s most commercially successful album at the time. A highlight.

6. Shades – (Bowie, Pop) Notably includes Kevin Armstrong (Absolute Beginners, Tin Machine, Live Aid) on guitar and co-songwriter, and axe contributions by ex-Pistol Steve Jones.

7. Tiny Girls – (Bowie, Pop) Includes some lovely baroque sax from Bowie throughout, this track off The Idiot conjures up a smoky, late-night Berlin club.

8. Neighborhood Threat – (Bowie, Pop, Gardiner) A track off Iggy’s Lust for Life and another one covered by Bowie and drenched in melodrama, bombast and quite a lot of cheese for Tonight which featured five out of nine tracks with an Iggy Pop credit.

9. Play it Safe – (Bowie, Pop) This track taken from Iggy’s underrated Soldier (1980) LP. Jim Kerr from Simple Minds remembers: “In 1979 Simple Minds went to Rockfield studios in the Welsh countryside to record our second album. It’s probably our most Bowie influenced work. We were in the small studio just teenagers and we were like; Who’s in the big studio? It turned out it was Iggy Pop recording Soldier. One night Iggy comes through our door, talk about worse for wear! Bowie’s with him, holding a can of Heineken, and he goes ‘Skin Up!’ We hung out for a bit and then they disappeared. Twenty minutes later we get a call from the engineer in Studio A, “David would like you all to come round for a football crowd type chorus”. So we pile round pretty drunk, girlfriends and all. Bowie’s taking charge and he’s still got a Heineken and a fag, and we’re all around the mike for this track called Play it Safe. I remember Bowie saying very diplomatically “OK, sounds good. Now, can everyone who doesn’t sing professionally, step away from the mike”. That left me, aged 19, sandwiched between Bowie and Iggy Pop. Not one person had a fucking camera!

10. Bang Bang – (Pop, Kral) This is the non-hit single from Iggy’s flawed Party (1981) album. The track was produced by Tommy Boyce (The Monkees) and Bowie covered it to close out his Never Let Me Down (1987) album. Also recorded at Mountain Studios, Montreux, Bowie performed it regularly on his Glass Spider tour.

11. Tumble and Twirl – (Bowie, Pop) Carlos Alomar stars on this track off Tonight, a fresh 50-50 co-write in 1984 referencing their recent island travels in Bali and Java together in 1983, conjuring up some sharp jungle imagery on this exuberant, horn-driven rave up. Released as the B-side to Bowie’s flop 7″ single Tonight.


12. Dancing with the Big Boys – (Bowie, Pop, Alomar) Iggy and Dave having fun at the mic in Le Studio Morin-Heights, Quebec, Canada, where Tonight was recorded. Closing track off Tonight includes some fantastic non-sequiturs only Iggy could dream up: “where there’s trouble there’s poetry”, “your family is a football team“, and “this dot marks your location”.

13. Don’t Look Down – (Pop, Williamson) This is Bowie’s cover of a superb Iggy/James Williamson original from Iggy’s essential New Values (1979) LP, this cover ended up on Tonight. Bowie approaches this in reggae fashion and was the incidental music for the Julian Temple-directed mini-film Jazzin’ for Blue Jean.


14. China Girl – (Bowie, Pop) Iggy’s towering original version off The Idiot, Bowie covered this sumptuously on his mega-hit album Let’s Dance (1983).

15. Lust for Life – (Bowie, Pop) Title track to Iggy’s 1977 album (featuring the Sales brothers, later in Bowie 80s-cleansing rock project Tin Machine). With its punchy Phil Spector style sixties back beat, Lust for Life is now considered the signature Iggy Pop song, and for good reason.

16. Red Money – (Bowie, Pop) Tying things up nicely, this closing track from Bowie’s otherworldly Lodger (1979) album, reworking the compilation opener Sister Midnight, and essentially the closing chapter of the Bowie-Pop Berlin-era recordings.


Posted in Albums That Never Were, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Downloads, European Rock Pilgrimage, Iggy Pop, Images, Mainman, Mixtapes, Producers, Steve Jones | 22 Comments

Bowie – Deep Cuts Pt.3

Continuing the Bowie Deep Cuts series, Part 3 reveals alternative mixes, unearthed demos, live versions, and album tracks, finding the artist stretching out, yielding some interesting results.


David Bowie – Deep Cuts Pt.3 mp3


1. Right On Mother – Recorded in late-1970, a curious vaudevillian spirit is displayed on this jaunty non-album demo, which saw official light of day on the Hunky Dory-era box set Divine Symmetry (2022), a 4-CD collection surveying the year leading up to that album’s release.

2. Soul Love – This song was only played a few times on the US leg of the Ziggy tour, and this version was recorded in February 1973 at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. Despite the recording being of poor bootleg quality, with an ultra-slow arrangement and off-key Ken Fordham sax solo, Bowie’s soaring vocal (and Ronno’s background vocals) saves the day on this deep cut.

3. Word on a Wing – This Station to Station track is the live version from the New York Nassau Coliseum concert in March 1976. The tour featured the Davis, Alomar, Murray (DAM) trio, and one-off accompaniments by ex-Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye and Canadian guitarist Stacey Heydon.

4. Bring Me the Disco King – Originally the exquisite closing number on Reality (2003), this version was released as the “Lohner Mix” by Nine Inch Nails guitarist Danny Lohner, and featured on the soundtrack to Underworld.


5. Loving the Alien – Opener to Tonight (1984), this sumptuous full-length, fully-remastered version can be found on the Loving the Alien (1983-1987) (2018) box set.

6. Heathen (The Rays) – This ghostly Scott Walker-inspired acoustic arrangement of the yet-to-be-released title track from the February 2002 Tibet House Benefit Concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall, features Gerry Leonard on acoustic guitar, a string octet, and Adam Yauch on bass.

7. Weeping Wall – This instrumental synthesizer piece was composed by Bowie and is lifted off Low (1977). Evoking the misery of the Berlin Wall, it is the only track on that album that features Bowie entirely solo.

8. Somebody Up There Likes Me – Taken from The Gouster (an early version of the Young Americans album) and released within the box set Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976) in 2016. This is a slightly stripped-down affair when compared to the official version; no strings, just guitars, piano, heavy sax, Andy Newmark’s drums, and wonderful vocals.

9. Wild is the Wind – The opener for the commanding three-hour Glastonbury performance on 16 June 2000 was this Station to Station classic, which had not been played live since 1983. After a decade of experimentalism in the 90s, he had finally given the crowd what they wanted.


10. How Lucky You Are (aka Miss Peculiar) – Another demo track taken from last year’s Divine Symmetry, this waltz-time number was recorded around the same time as track 1 on this compilation. The ‘two steps behind’ part is reminiscent of Earthling’sSeven Years in Tibet’.

11. Seven Years in Tibet – Featuring some tasteful Reeves Gabrels guitar work, this live version was recorded at Radio City Music Hall in New York on 15th October 1997, and released on limited edition album (1999).

12. King of the City – A previously unknown and undocumented song, potentially for inclusion on an early manifestation of Hunky Dory, it was also unearthed on the Divine Symmetry box set. Bowie reused some of ‘King of the City’ for one of his greatest ever compositions, ‘Ashes to Ashes’, some 10 years later.

13. The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell – The 2021 remaster of the single edit of the standout track on Hours… (1999), crops out the bridge repeat, and is chosen from the box set Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001) (2021).

14. Absolute Beginners – Recorded in June 1985 at Abbey Road Studios, this is the full eight-minute ‘master’ version from the soundtrack LP, and one of Bowie’s last ever mainstream hits. Overseen by the production team of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (Costello, Madness, Dexy’s), the recording features guitarist Kevin Armstrong (Iggy Pop, Tin Machine), and Attractions pianist Steve Nieve.

15. Blackout – Taken from Live in Berlin 1978 (2022), this is a decent bootleg recording of a great song and era; a full-voiced Bowie fronting his awesome seven-piece touring band. Despite the show being recorded on May 16, 1978, following the “Heroes” album release in October 1977, ‘Blackout’ is one of only three tunes from that iconic album appearing on this brief, eight-song, live document.

16. Fill Your Heart – A Biff Rose cover and the opening number from the Friars Club, Aylesbury, on 25 September 1971 – a live set fully documented on Divine Symmetry – it was the first time the singer had performed live with Mick Ronson, Woody Woodmansey and Trevor Bolder (the Spiders From Mars), although this version features only Bowie and Ronson on their acoustics. The song was ultimately recorded featuring Rick Wakeman on a Bechstein grand, and suitably opened side two of Hunky Dory.


17. The Secret Life of Arabia – The final song on “Heroes” and something of a ‘trailer’ for the forthcoming Lodger (1979) LP, features a killer Carlos Alomar disco guitar riff, and an infectious George Murray bass workout.

18. The London Boys – Not the version off Toy (2021), rather the original recording from 1966 that was issued by Deram as the B-side to ‘Rubber Band’. This fine dark cabaret is built around the bass, organ and drums, and concludes with a soaring cockney vocal and brass-band finale. The mini-classic was to be found on Bowie’s first ever compilation, The World of David Bowie (1970).

19. Mother Grey – This Kinks-esque demo, unearthed on Spying Through a Keyhole as part of the expansive Conversation Piece (2019) box set, dates back to 1968 when our hero was prepping songs for a second Deram album that never eventuated.

20 – The Bewlay Brothers – The colossal Hunky Dory closer gets the ‘2021 alternative mix’ treatment on Divine Symmetry from original producer Ken Scott. Hardly different, Bowie’s vocals are not double-tracked on the chorus, and there appears to be plenty of subtle, yet completely unnecessary delay on the vocal at times.

Lester Bangs: “I saw Bowie the other night.”

Lou Reed: “Lucky you. I think it’s very sad.”

Lester Bangs: “He ripped off all your riffs, obviously.”

Lou Reed: “Everybody steals riffs. You steal yours. David wrote some really great songs.”

Lester Bangs: “Aw c’mon. Anybody can write great songs! Sam the Sham wrote great songs! Did David write anything better than ‘Wooly Bully’?

Lou Reed: “You ever listen to ‘The Bewlay Brothers’ shithead?”

Creem, March 1975.

Posted in Adrian Belew, Albums That Never Were, Andy Newmark, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Downloads, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, Images, Kinks, The, Lou Reed, Mainman, Mick Ronson, Mixtapes, Neu!, Rick Wakeman, Robert Fripp, Scott Walker | 10 Comments

More Album Cover Outtakes

This untreated Polaroid of John’s piercing gaze has recently surfaced, believed to have been taken by Andy Warhol.

John Lennon – Imagine (1971)

The photograph for the Imagine album cover was taken by Yoko Ono using a Polaroid camera. It was previously believed that the front cover photo was taken by Andy Warhol who Lennon invited to do a photo shoot of him at his Tittenhurst Park home in Berkshire in 1971 for his second solo album. He did take some photos of John (see below), however Lennon preferred Yoko’s Polaroid snap for the cover. I think I can see why.

John: My album front and back is taken by Yoko as a Polaroid. It’s a new one called a Polaroid close-up. It’s fantastic. She took a photo of me, and then we had this painting off a guy called Geoff Hendricks who only paints sky. And I was standing in front of it, in the hotel room and she superimposed the picture of it on me after, so I was in the cloud with my head. And then I lay down on the window sill to get a lying down picture for the back side, which she wanted with the cloud above my head. And I’m sort of ‘imagining’.

Similarly, Yoko Ono’s Fly (1971) album cover was taken by John also using a Polaroid but through a glass vase. The cover adorned with the same lettering as Imagine, Yoko’s very good Fly LP, featured lots of Lennon participation, and input from guest musicians such as Ringo Starr and Eric Clapton. Recorded around the same time, and both released in September 1971, it is something of a sister album to Imagine, similar to what they did with the couple’s respective Plastic Ono Band LPs a year earlier. 

As for Imagine, it is half candy-floss half vitriol, despite album’s dreamy packaging with clouds, Yoko’s quote, and the postcard of John holding a pig, a well known mock up of Paul’s Ram (earlier in ’71) album cover photograph. It’s the album that includes the vicious McCartney take-down ‘How Do You Sleep?’. Imagine is a mixture of vicious-ness and loveliness, with tracks such as the title track sitting alongside the venomous numbers like Beatles leftover ‘Gimme Some Truth’ or ‘I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama, I Don’t Wanna Die’. That said, it contains some of the best solo work of his career, and could easily have been split into two distinct sides:

Side One (Sugar)

  1. Imagine
  2. Jealous Guy
  3. Oh My Love
  4. How?
  5. Oh Yoko

Side Two (Bile)

  1. Crippled Inside
  2. Gimme Some Truth
  3. I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama, I Don’t Wanna Die
  4. It’s So Hard
  5. How Do You Sleep?

Well worth checking out is another superb conversation between Robert Rodriguez and Ray Connelly on the best Beatles podcast: Something About the Beatles. The most current Episode 249: Ray Connolly’s Lennon, features a riveting conversation celebrating John’s life and discussing a wide array of topics with someone who knew John well.

Further Reading:

♥    ImagineJohn and Yoko making the Imagine album cover artwork.

Posted in Album Covers, Albums That Never Were, Beatles, The, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, On This Day, Paul McCartney, Podcasts | 9 Comments

#13: The Clash – Sandinista! (1980)

Here at The Press we take a look at expansive double albums (in this case ‘triple’) and trim it back to a single, filler-free listening experience, negating the need to reach for the skip button or needle repositioning. In some cases these albums can potentially benefit from a little tightening up. The Clash’s rasta-punk rule book ripper Sandinista! is the next album in our Double Albums: UnDoubled series.

the_clash-sandinista UNDOUBLED

Preface: Sandinista! is a wonderful listen, and it works best as a great 2½ radio show.

With each album over their relatively short-lived career, The Clash expanded their horizons and developed musically and lyrically. However the four-piece pulled off something exceptional in 1979 with an extraordinary career-best double album that broke their punk shackles: London Calling. Critics and fans adore it to this day, and for good reason, and it was on this landmark album where the band’s love of reggae, ska and R&B showed through. Chart success accompanied the album on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, the certified masterpiece London Calling, proved to be a difficult album to follow.

In December 1980 they issued the ‘anything goes’ follow-up Sandinista!, and it found The Clash expanding their repertoire even further. This 36-track triple album certainly did that – and then some. Was it arrogance? Was it an over-abundance of creativity? Was it a misunderstanding of their record contract? Famously, it sold for not much more than a single disc, and in the end unfortunately did not reduce their obligations to Columbia by three albums, rather sending them towards financial ruin and gloomy inter-band relationships.

The sheer volume and variety of styles spread across this daring and sprawling album is mind-boggling, and in retrospect, a little confusing. From children’s choirs, straight ahead rock, reggae, dub reggae, world music and jazz, to dance beats, gospel, rockabilly rave-ups, calypso, rap, hip-hop; the album even touches on some country & western elements.


Case in point: Side five includes a sound collage played backwards and dubbed, and side six is where it really goes off the rails. It includes five dub versions of songs we’ve already sat through, and another, a reworked track from their debut LP (kids singing ‘Career Opportunities’). Unsurprisingly a real producer was not present on the sessions (Sandinista! is produced by The Clash), and the album was received with mixed reviews upon release.

Standard Line: There is a good single-album length LP lurking in the murk and indulgence of Sandinista! A cliché, sure, but in this case, a truism – it may also be edited down to an reasonable double album. Keepers include the funky opener (‘The Magnificent Seven’), and its ultra-funky doppelganger ‘Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice)’, the blistering Eddy Grant (via The Equals) cover ‘Police on My Back’, a couple of traditional Clash classics penned by secret-weapon guitarist Mick Jones (‘Somebody Got Murdered’, ‘Up in Heaven’), proved the band still had one foot in its punk roots.

There’s also some all time great moments on a more politically oriented side two, from the super catchy ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’, to several stoner Joe Strummer grooves such as ‘One More Time’ and the cool dub version, and shining like beacon is the jubilant politically charged, mini title-track anthem, ‘Washington Bullets’.


Significant omissions include the bizarre Topper Headon-sung ‘Ivan Meets GI Joe’, and the quite good ‘Lose This Skin’ sung by Tymon Dogg (The Mescaleros). Gone too are multiple heavy dub, echo-y, Jamaican-style remixes of songs found elsewhere on the album like ‘Version Pardner’ and ‘Shepherd’s Delight’, a lulling, slowed-down take on Police & Thieves. Elsewhere, the ill-advised likes of ‘Look Here’, ‘Midnight Log’ and ‘Junkie Slip’ have been removed for this UnTripled folly.

With the utmost respect to this all-time legendary band and what they were trying to do, nobody seemed to care if the overdubs made sense or if the mixes were coherent, let alone engaging in any form of self-editing. It even sounds like no one was insisting that a song be fully completed even before the tape was rolling. The band wanted to do it all, and damn it if they didn’t try.

Sandinista!, UnTripled, compiles two sides of six tracks each (the original album has six songs on each side), a cohesive 49-minute single LP and the extravaganza may now make sense, and importantly, perhaps a little more digestible. Try it, take it in the spirit of the UnDoubled series, but play the real album too. Who knows, it may have even been their second-best album.

Side One:

  1. The Magnificent Seven
  2. Police On My Back
  3. Somebody Got Murdered
  4. Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice)
  5. Junco Partner
  6. Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)

Side Two:

  1. Kingston Advice
  2. The Call Up
  3. Washington Bullets
  4. Hitsville UK
  5. Charlie Don’t Surf
  6. One More Time/One More Time (dub)

NB: A big honourable mention to these two great songs that were unlucky to miss the cut: ‘Something About England’ and ‘The Leader’.


Further Reading:

SANDANISTA! – THE CLASH (1980) – Bob Egan’s incredible Pop Spots: ALBUM COVER LOCATION – Camley Street (under the railroad tracks from St. Pancras Station), London. Photo by Pennie Smith (London Calling) recreation by Bob Egan.


Posted in Album Covers, Albums That Never Were, Clash, The, Double Albums: Un-Doubled, European Rock Pilgrimage, Images, Mick Jones, Mixtapes, On This Day | Tagged | 39 Comments

Dr. Feelgood – Stupidity (1976)

With the recent passing of Wilko Johnson, best known as guitarist and songwriter for UK rock group Dr. Feelgood, The Press takes a look at one of their finest albums: the chart-topping live document, Stupidity.


Wilko Johnson, who recently passed away at the age of 75, was the explosive guitarist and songwriter for the original line-up of Dr. Feelgood, a rhythm and blues band that emerged from the London pub rock scene in 1974. The band’s menacing energy and back-to-basics “no fashion” approach were as influential as any at the inception of punk, and were a major inspiration to numerous rock luminaries including John Lydon, Joe Strummer, Richard Hell, and Paul Weller.

While their first two albums, DOWN BY THE JETTY (1975) ★★★★★, and MALPRACTICE (1975) ★★★★½, sold respectably, it was their third album, the live STUPIDITY (1976) ★★★★★, that captured the band in their finest essence while consolidating their popularity, reaching #1 on the UK charts and announcing Dr. Feelgood as top-drawer practitioners of the live circuit.

Hailing from Canvey Island, near Southend, the original core of the band consisted of legendary lead vocalist and blistering harmonica player Lee Brilleaux, bassist John B. Sparks, drummer John Martin aka ‘The Big Figure’, and our hero on guitar and occasional lead vocals. He famously prowled the stage when he played, and on Stupidity, you can almost hear him zipping forward and back with his so-called ‘duck-walk’, his right hand chopping across the strings of his signature black telecaster in his own distinctive finger-picking, rhythm/lead guitar style. In a live setting, the dynamic friction of Lee Brilleaux’s tough vocals and the terse choppiness of Wilko Johnson’s guitar lines, was palpable.


Stupidity succeeds by perfectly capturing the stripped down, sweaty anarchy of Dr. Feelgood’s live shows in front of boozed-up audiences demanding their rock ‘n roll be loud, fast, and delivered with commitment. The unvarnished performances encapsulate what this great band were capable of distilling on stage, and the memorable short-sharp, Wilko-penned, rock songs are considerably more exciting than their studio-recorded counterparts. They also breath new life into a good dose of blues standards, including Bo Diddley’s I’m a Man, and Rufus Thomas’ Walking the Dog, and the album is swathed in powerhouse guitar, economic solos, and gruff kick-arse vocals. Unlike several live albums of the era, it is unadorned with any polished overdubs or editing.

“Stupidity was the culmination of the revolution against the stack heel and platform shoes brigade, and everything that went with that. We said bollocks to all that, this is how a live band really goes to work.” – Lee Brilleaux

On the vinyl record, side one was recorded at Sheffield City Hall 23rd May 1975, and side two recorded at Southend Kursaal 8th November 1975. Only 20,000 copies of the first edition were released, making it a highly sought after album by collectors. A CD version was released in 1991 entitled Stupidity Dr. Feelgood – Live – 1976-1990, where nine additional songs were added that had been recorded in the period after Wilko left the band in 1977 following disagreements over the tracks to be included on their fourth good album, SNEAKIN’ SUSPICION (1977) ★★★★.


A wild man, off stage and on, funny, eloquent and charismatic, post-Feelgoods Wilko Johnson would go on to join Ian Dury and the Blockheads, form the The Wilko Johnson Band, release a plethora of solo material, act in Game of Thrones, dodge terminal cancer (he was given 10 months to live in 2013), work with Roger Daltrey on a farewell album, and perform informal unannounced sets at his local pub, the Railway Hotel in Southend. A British great and a true original whose approach to the guitar was influential, precise, manic, intense and driven – he stood out in a sea of 70’s guitarists, and never lost his individualism.

Dr. FeelgoodStupidity (1976) mp3


side one

  1. Talking About You
  2. 20 Yards Behind
  3. Stupidity
  4. All Through the City
  5. I’m a Man
  6. Walking the Dog
  7. She Does It Right

side two

  1. Going Back Home
  2. I Don’t Mind
  3. Back in the Night
  4. I’m a Hog for You Baby
  5. Checking Up on My Baby
  6. Roxette


Posted in Clash, The, Dr. Feelgood, Ian Hunter, Mick Jones, Mott the Hoople, Nick Lowe, Ramones, Richard Hell, Sex Pistols, Who, The | 3 Comments

Japan – Tin Drum (1981)

Released on this day in 1981, Japan’s fifth and final studio album Tin Drum found the band embracing a new synth-heavy style, but sounded like nothing else at the time. 


When English new wave band Japan released TIN DRUM (1981) ★★★★½, they finally became the band they always wanted to be: an art-rock band with searing musicality. With this album, Japan’s sound had by now become rooted in synthesizer and it is their most Eastern-influenced release. It is also arguably the band’s best album, and is considered one of the more important albums from the early-80s British New Romantic era. In retrospect it is a definitive statement on pop music meets modern electronica, with an exotic inspiration coming from Asia or, more precisely, China. 

Tin Drum is an intricate collage of arty soundscapes and exotic instrumentation. There are no trashy glam flourishes like their obscure debut ADOLESCENT SEX (1978) ★★★, and is free of the at times awkward Bryan Ferry posturing on GENTLEMEN TAKE POLAROIDS (1980) ★★★★, this is an album with its own voice, with not a sound out of place.

With communist China as a loose concept, the album is crammed with icy electronics, polyrhythmic percussion and traditional oriental instruments, reinforcing the Red Army concept, and on album highlight ‘Canton’, conjuring images of rural peasants struggling to survive amidst the new order. And then there’s David Sylvian’s graceful vocals, and his brother, Steve Jansen, birth surname Batt, with his tightly structured drumming style. Sylvian found his voice here, his words flowing over the top of synth washes on lovely songs like ‘Visions Of China’, drawing you into Japan’s strange, fractured sound.

td j

Their most beautiful song, ‘Ghosts’, a UK top 5 hit, is here too. Unlike the other songs on Tin Drum, this haunting track is a deeply introspective, ethereal, and finds Sylvian reflecting on past loves. Achingly atmospheric, ‘Ghosts’ became one of the band’s biggest, and only, hits. Elsewhere, another big standout is ‘Still Life in Mobile Homes’, a strange keyboard and drum-led song that features late-great bassist Mick Karn at his most inventive and melodic, adding icy funk to the spectacular drum and bass-driven track. The album cover finds a perfectly coiffed David Sylvian eating rice from a bowl in a bare room while a peeling poster of Mao looks on.


With personality conflicts leading to rising tensions within the band, and just as they were beginning to achieve major commercial success both in the UK and internationally, Japan split up. Tin Drum was to be the band’s final studio album until the very good reunion project in 1991 Rain Tree Crow, and following a tour they would disband. If you hear one Japan album, the unique and striking Tin Drum should be it.

JapanTin Drum (1981)


  1. The Art of Parties
  2. Talking Drum
  3. Ghosts
  4. Canton
  5. Still Life in Mobile Homes
  6. Visions of China
  7. Sons of Pioneers
  8. Cantonese Boy


Posted in Japan, On This Day, Top 10 British Synth-Pop Albums | 8 Comments

The Beatles | 1967

“Nobody else in the group digs When I’m Sixty Four.”


Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Mick Jagger & Maggie McGivern (who was having an affair with McCartney at the time) at Paul’s home in Cavendish Ave, St. John’s Wood, London, 1967.

Posted in Beatles, The, European Rock Pilgrimage, George Harrison, Images, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, The | 10 Comments

High Fidelity – The Best of Elvis Costello in the ’80s

This 20 track collection covers the albums, artistic phases, evolutions, and bouts of fancy from Elvis Costello in the 1980s – arguably the bespectacled one’s most artistically rewarding decade.

Elvis Costello in 1983

Emerging from Britain’s new wave scene in the late-70s era, Elvis Costello and his blistering three-piece band The Attractions, comprising of bassist Bruce Thomas, Steve Nieve (keys), and Pete Thomas (drums), were ready to join the vanguard for an ’80s takeover. Musically, Costello was up for the challenge.

He immediately consolidated his creative integrity with the warm soul-rock of the Nick Lowe-produced classic, GET HAPPY!! (1980) ★★★★★. With this sprawling 20-track mini-epic, and the almost as great hotchpotch curio TRUST (1981) ★★★★½, Costello cut back on the vitriolic wordplay and break-neck tempos found on his earlier records, rather creating directly emotional songs with a heart, enunciating hook after hook, while encouraging a wider array of musical tricks and treats from his brilliant trio.

Eager to move on musically, Costello then spread his artistic wings with an album recorded in Nashville covering his favourite vintage country numbers, including the minor hit ‘Good Year for the Roses’. The result was ALMOST BLUE (1981) ★★★, his first album not to be produced by long time collaborator Nick Lowe. Overseen by big name country record producer, arranger, and songwriter Billy Sherrill, we can now look back on Costello’s career arc and pinpoint this moment when he took his first real artistic sidestep, akin to the shock of The Juliette Letters some 12 years later, or his many collaborations with artists such as Burt Bacharach or Allen Toussaint. Almost Blue paved the way for our hero to indulge his obsession and quenchless thirst for indomitable explorations into a wide range of musical styles.

Costello then reverted to his pop roots and created his very own “Sgt Pepper” masterpiece, the emotionally lyrical creation IMPERIAL BEDROOM (1982) ★★★★, a challenging collection of moody, evocative songs with intricate arrangements and instrumentation (‘Man Out of Time’, ‘Beyond Belief’), complex melody (‘The Long Honeymoon’, ‘Human Hands’) and broad canvassed jazz and lounge inflections (‘Town Crier’, ‘Tears Before Bedtime’). It was a continuation of the artist’s high level of output and is impeccably produced by Beatles engineer and studio boffin Geoff Emerick. With this record, Elvis had grown up, and it was his most sonically ambitious undertaking yet.


Then Elvis went all pop in the mid-’80s with the release of the brassy PUNCH THE CLOCK (1983) ★★★½, featuring his biggest US hit to date, the souled-up Mersey beat of ‘Everyday I Write the Book’, and the universally derided GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD (1984) ★★★. Both presided over by the production team of Alan Winstanley and Clive Langer (Madness, Dexy’s Midnight Runners), these albums are somewhat divisive among critics and fans alike, and sound very much “of their time”, plastered with a radio-friendly pop sheen, however the songwriting is up to par and the commercial production is sumptuous, professional, and highly polished.

More detours would ensue with Costello’s first proper solo outing, KING OF AMERICA (1986) ★★★★★. Credited as The Costello Show, the resulting album was as consistently rewarding and cohesive as any in his canon, and the first to be co-produced by guitarist and songwriter T-Bone Burnett. Having temporarily dropped the Attractions, the album features an impressive list of session pros including Jim Keltner, Mitchell Froom, Ron Tutt, Doors bassist Jerry Scheff, and James Burton from Elvis Presley’s T.C.B. band, who provide an American-roots tinged accompaniment to an exquisitely crafted set. The Attractions even perform on one track, the career highlight ‘Suit of Lights’.

The Attractions would reunite for the bristly BLOOD & CHOCOLATE (1986) ★★★★½, his second album for the year, which maintained the quality, and saw Nick Lowe back in the producer’s chair. The artist would adopt the moniker Napoleon Dynamite for his 11th release, and the album contains a collection of lacerating rockers (‘Uncomplicated’, ‘Tokyo Storm Warning’), cinematic noir (‘I Want You’, ‘Battered Old Bird’), disillusioned ballads (‘Poor Napoleon’, ‘Home Is Anywhere You Hang Your Head’), and pop gold (‘Blue Chair’, ‘I Hope You’re Happy Now’), proving Costello could switch back with self-assurance while anchoring the music to Nieve’s Hammond organ, and his own ragged, rough-edged guitar sound, the signature of his best work.

The band reformation was short lived as he would release another solo album before the decade was out, the eclectic SPIKE (1989) ★★★★. Having switched labels from F-Beat to corporate giant Warner Bros, the sprawling melting pot of densely rich compositions found a garrulous Costello taking in Irish folk (‘Any King’s Shilling’), angry politicising (‘Tramp the Dirt Down’), big band arrangements (‘Stalin Malone’), and New Orleans gospel (‘Deep Dark Truthful Mirror’). He had also recently collaborated with Paul McCartney on the ex-Beatle’s Flowers in the Dirt (1989), and Elvis included some leftover pop vignettes from that project, such as the hit single ‘Veronica’, and ‘Pads Paws and Claws’.


After a stellar showing throughout the 1980s, Costello would move in several different directions, sometimes all at once, and re-tune his compass multiple times in the ensuing decades as he sustained his monstrous appetite for musical genres. This 20-track high fidelity compilation, highlights the mighty repertoire from a brilliant artist in his most rewarding decade.

Elvis Costello | High Fidelity: Elvis Costello in the 80s mp3

costello in the 80s

  1. High Fidelity – Get Happy!! (1980)
  2. Coal-Train Robberies – Spike (1989)
  3. I Hope You’re Happy Now – Blood & Chocolate (1986)
  4. Shipbuilding – Punch the Clock (1983)
  5. New Lace Sleeves – Trust (1981)
  6. Blue Chair – Blood & Chocolate (1986)
  7. New Amsterdam – Get Happy!! (1980)
  8. Brilliant Mistake – King of America (1986)
  9. I’m Your Toy (Hot Burrito #1) – Almost Blue (1981)
  10. American Without Tears – King of America (1986)
  11. Pidgin English – Imperial Bedroom (1982)
  12. Love Field – Goodbye Cruel World (1984)
  13. Everyday I Write the Book – Punch the Clock (1983)
  14. Jack of All Parades – King of America (1986)
  15. Suit of Lights – King of America (1986)
  16. Strict Time – Trust (1981)
  17. Pills and Soap – Punch the Clock (1983)
  18. The Only Flame in Town – Goodbye Cruel World (1984)
  19. Watch Your Step – Trust (1981)
  20. The Loved Ones – Imperial Bedroom (1982)

Running time: 72.03 mins

Further Reading:

♥    More Album Cover Outtakes

♥    Didn’t Know It Was A Cover | Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding

♥    Top 10 Remarkable Songs Off 10 Unremarkable Albums

♥    Elvis Costello


Posted in Beatles, The, Chet Baker, Doors, The, Downloads, Elvis Costello, Images, Mixtapes, Nick Lowe, Paul McCartney | 12 Comments

Sound & Vision | Bowie’s Album Covers Ranked

From the 1967 self-titled debut to his final masterpiece Blackstar, The Press puts their spin on the album artwork of every David Bowie album, including some honourable (and dishonourable) mentions.


Bowie’s albums were never just about the music. They concurrently explored new ways of looking at things, experimental and brave, while showcasing the dramatic look and personas he projected throughout his entire career, the covers often defining and enhancing the music and concepts of those very albums; elevating the sleeve design to the status of high art.

When combining all of Bowie’s official and non-official albums over the course of six decades, it’s an expansive body of work to draw on from this quintessential artist who was always different and ever-surprising. All of the studio albums, selected live outings and other Bowie miscellany are included in this Bowie sleeve art list, and all based purely on the aesthetics of the album cover.


These records deserve a special mention as being visually impressive: the handsome, Warhol-inspired Sound & Vision (1990) Rykodisc box set was beautifully designed by Roger Gorman and features various Bowie guises incorporated into a futuristic overlay; so too the scraggly bearded character depicted on the cover of the excellent Baal (1981) is dark and menacing in tone, suitable for the character he plays in the BBC drama.

The Space Oddity-era image gracing his first ever compilation The World of David Bowie (1970), has a backlit, wild-eyed image of a young Bowie overlaid with the tracklisting. Bowie revisits his The Man Who Sold the World/Hunky Dory-era look on the cover of his triumphant live return to Glastonbury 2000 (2018), while the quirky New Zealand chart-topper Chameleon (1979), has its charms and a timeline of sorts on the back. 


Less effective are these album sleeves, with special shout out to the truly hideous cut and paste job on the atrocious revision of Changes (1990), more designed for compact disc, however the worst ever Bowie cover is the spooky child-man mashup of Toy (2021), unapproachable, defying explanation. Controversial artist Jonathan Barnbrook’s adequate Best of Bowie (2002), their first collaboration, is a cliched photomontage of various Bowie guises, and the 1991 re-release of Station to Station flirted with the full-sized colour artwork initially rejected by Bowie for the sky looking too artificial. The cropped photo and the monochrome visuals of the original 1976 cover has since been reinstated over the coloured impostor.

Parlophone’s covers are mostly pedestrian (eg: Welcome to the Blackout and I’m Only Dancing), and the live double album of the ’74 Los Angeles gig, Cracked Actor (2017), is no different. It pairs a bad photo with a pasted-in transparent rehash of the Diamond Dogs logo seemingly straight from beginners guide to Paint. Elsewhere the long-forgotten Bowie Rare (1982), and the cartoon design for Images 1966-67 (1973) by Neon Park known for his artwork for Frank Zappa’s Weasels Ripped My Flesh, are very much of their time.


So far five posthumous box sets (except for 2015’s Five Years) have been released by the David Bowie organisation, and these extensive Parlophone “era” packages are expertly compiled career overviews. However the artwork is mostly direct minimalism adequately representing each era yet displaying little artistic flair deserving of the great man. An off-centre, semi-rare snap accompanying skew-whiff Frutiger lettering does not a great cover make, although the magnificent Brilliant Adventure (2021), featuring Bowie’s own striking artwork and Egon Schiele influence, proves powerful.


32.  The brightly coloured, vibrant design for Reality (2003), was created by Johnathan Barnbrook who packaged the album covers for Bowie’s last four LPs. On this occasion, in collaboration with graphic artist Rex Ray, Barnbrook depicts Bowie as an anime-style character reflecting movement, the idea that reality had become an abstract concept. Regrettably, given the competition, Reality takes the prize for the worst Bowie studio album cover of all.


31 – 28.  Bowie chastised David Live (1974) upon it’s release claiming he’d never listened to it, even describing it as the final death of Ziggy: “My God, it looks like I’ve just stepped out of the grave. That’s actually how I felt. That record should’ve been called ‘David Bowie is Alive and Well and Living Only in Theory’.” Considering how scary and emaciated Bowie looked at the time, the David Live cover certainly encapsulates exactly that. 

The Mick Haggerty designed Let’s Dance (1983), is much more inviting. It boasts a funky ‘bow-tie’ font and had a newly tanned, gloved Bowie presented to his newfound everyman audience. That was the intention for Black Tie White Noise (1993) too, focusing on an extreme Nick Knight close-crop portrait of the star’s face, a bit like a magazine cover, although it could’ve been so much better, while Tin Machine II (1991), found Bowie having an appendage-related run in with the US censors, requiring its manly genitalia to be airbrushed out by British designer and co-creator Edward Bell.

27.  For the double live album Stage (1978), producer Tony Visconti meticulously recorded and presented the songs in chronological order, thankfully the correct performance order was reinstated when the album was re-released in 2005. A great live album, tour, and ensemble, including the core rhythm section of guitarist Carlos Alomar, bassist George Murray and drummer Dennis Davis, and augmented by guitarist Adrian Belew and ex-Utopia keyboardist Roger Powell, the album unfortunately suffers from pedestrian and unimaginative packaging, only using the one photo throughout. The cover shot of Bowie in front of a large cage of tube lights is duplicated on the rear, and those hoping for an incredible world tour montage of our hero at his peak, were sadly disappointed when the inner gatefold reproduced the same photo yet again, but bigger. 

26.  The debut album David Bowie (1967), featured a fresh-faced mod-Bowie head-shot inside a thin blue border, the singer wearing a tailored high-collared jacket looking like he’s posing for his school yearbook photo. The overall effect and cool lettering, not to mention being released on the same day as Sgt Peppers, did not help sales, and the image and album is time-stamped in the mid-60s.


25.  The provocative original Mercury UK sleeve for the hard rocking The Man Who Sold the World (1971), had the former mod now looking like a world-weary Hollywood starlet reclining on a chaise lounge wearing a dress. More effective when released worldwide by RCA in the wake of Ziggy-mania in 1972, was the black and white ‘Ziggy kick’ album cover, with the preposterous essay on the back.

Originally titled Metrobolist, the random US version designed by Mike Weller was a cartoon of John Wayne with an erased speech bubble that originally said “roll up your sleeves, take a look at your arms” (removed for its drug reference), standing in front of the Cane Hill asylum where Bowie’s schizophrenic half-brother Terry had been committed. 

24.  This album was originally released as his second self-titled album in 1969, and featured an image of Bowie’s disembodied head slapped over Hungarian-French pioneer and leader of the Op Art movement Victor Varasely’s space-age, blue bubble artwork. The RCA edition re-titled Space Oddity (1972), using a great Mick Rock photo from Haddon Hall in Beckenham, complete with spacey typehouse font and Bowie’s own alien image, worked just as well.

23.  Busy and comical, the album cover to Never Let Me Down (1987) complemented the pop-rock calamity contained therein. The cover is a checklist of lyrical moments on the album and the circus-style backdrop would be the central on-stage theme for the supporting Glass Spider tour. “There’s a vaudevillian thing about the cover” Bowie said at the time, and multiple 7″ singles deployed various outtakes from the same photo shoot. Pleasingly, the 2018 Never Let Me Down remix from the Loving the Alien box set had a brand new stripped back image and production to match.

22 – 20.  The “cell” portrait is now the official cover for The Buddha of Suburbia (1993), originally released displaying a montage of characters from the TV series of the same name. This stark update uses a simple dreamlike Outside-era photo by Frank Okenfels. For the cover of Outside (1995), Bowie own self-portrait in charcoal suitably accompanies the murky art rock contained in the grooves of the record.

Lodger (1979), inspired by Egon Schiele’s self-portraits, is a bizarre postcard gatefold featuring a full-length Brian Duffy photo of Bowie as accident victim, contorted with a broken nose and bandaged hand, balanced on a steel frame. Also something of a homage to Roman Polanski’s psychological thriller The Tenant, a professional hi-res image was passed over at the last minute for a Polaroid of deliberately low resolution. 

19 – 16.  The commanding minimalism adorning the cover of Bowie’s final masterpiece Blackstar (2016), was designed by regular collaborator Jonathan Barnbrook and features a giant black star with fragmented stars spelling out BOWIE beneath. It is one of the few Bowie albums not to feature an image of the singer, and brings a sort of finality and a darkness representative of the music contained within. Barnbrook’s Heathen (2002), incorporates upside-down Priori typeface, used for the first time for commercial purposes, over a satanic image of Bowie with digitally enhanced eyes. “The design of the album plays on the anti-religious meaning of Heathen”, said the designer.

The lenticular graphics on the cover of Hours… (1999), was designed by Rex Ray with photography by Tim Bret Day and Frank Ockenfels. It filters a vivid blue 3D wash over two images of Bowie: one, a modern day long-haired David holding a broken, older version of his past self, a nod to Michelangelo’s La Pietá perhaps, and the ethereal sleeve for his experimental Earthling (1997), matches the electronic textures dominating the music. It finds Bowie decked out in Alexander McQueen’s tattered Union Jack long coat overlooking Earth’s grand beauty, chiming in perfectly with a UK enthralled in all things Britpop at the time. David was not shot in the UK however, it was New York where photographer Ockenfels took the photo, and designer Dave De Angelis was responsible for placing Bowie in front of the English evergreens.

15.  Bowie requested Barnbrook design the cover art for his comeback album The Next Day (2013), so he took the cover of his 1977 masterwork “Heroes”, and placed a whopping great white square over the top of it, obscuring the photograph, on top of which is the album title underneath the older LP’s stricken-through name. Bowie was back! Virtually unseen for almost 8 years, January 8, 2013 was the earth-shattering announcement: new single, video and album… still hard to believe now.

Harder to believe was the album packaging. Daring and irreverent, the cover is a lesson in conceptual provocation and minimalism and for an artist who had spent so many years reinventing his image, here he helped us to reinvent our expectations of what album covers could be. The concept and album itself confirmed Bowie as the enigmatic artistic juggernaut he was, and with such bold packaging he seemed to be challenging everyone and everything, including himself.


14.  One of the first ever covers to feature Bowie posing with his band (he didn’t even do this with the Spiders), the sleeve for Tin Machine (1989) was designed by Roger Gorman (Sound + Vision) and was released with alternative arrangements of Hunt and Tony Sales, Reeves Gabrels and Bowie for the cassette, CD and vinyl (below) editions. The photographer was Masayoshi Sukita (“Heroes”), and the stark image used for Tin Machine’s debut reflected the new era in Bowie’s musical evolution.


13 – 11.  The sleeve design for Bowie’s pop detour Tonight (1984), was created by Mick Haggerty who had previously worked on Let’s Dance. Bowie’s brief to Haggerty was for a very heroic and exotic image, referencing the Green Lady by Tretchikoff. Tonight certainly owes a clear debt to British artists Gilbert and George (specifically Faith Curse), as it depicted a blue-tinted Bowie before a stained-glass effect oil painting, with roses and lilies amid the bold brush strokes. Tonight’s bold palette artwork is striking even if the album was widely regarded as a stopover album. 

The Young Americans (1975) sleeve was based on Toni Basil’s image on the cover of a Sept ’74 edition of After Dark magazine. David saw the cover photo and said ‘that’s what I want for my next album cover’, duly inspiring him to commission the photographer Eric Stephen Jacobs to shoot and airbrush the glamorous wedge-cut image. The cigarette smoke was drawn in, and a black photo-album border adds to the sublime effect.

For Hunky Dory (1971), illustrator Terry Pastor was asked to do the artwork for the album. Pastor colourised a black and white Brian Ward photo of Bowie in a Marlene Dietrich pose. He used an airbrush and transparent inks and finished it of with retro-font title lettering Letraset (a rub-down transfer lettering that was widely used in the 70’s). Bowie was so pleased with the results, the following year he commissioned Terry to design and colour the iconic Ziggy Stardust album cover using the same technique. Terry reddened the musician’s lips, painted his long hair yellow, and added some eye-shadow.

10.   The glammed-up 60s covers album Pin Ups (1973), featured a masked Bowie with ‘it-girl’ supermodel Twiggy, photographed by her then-manager Justin de Villeneuve, with makeup by the brilliant Pierre La Roche. Taken during the Pin Ups sessions, intended for a fashion magazine cover, Bowie liked the photo so much he decided he’d rather use it for his own album.

“When I showed Bowie the test Polaroids, he asked if he could use it for the Pin Ups record sleeve. I said: ‘I don’t think so, since this is for Vogue. How many albums do you think you will sell?’ ‘A million,’ he replied. ‘This is your next album cover!’ I said. When I got back to London and told Vogue, they never spoke to me again.” – Justin de Villeneuve


9.   David Bowie’s legendary farewell concert of 3 July 1973, in which he famously broke up the Spiders From Mars on stage at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, was released a decade later as the soundtrack to DA Pennebaker’s concert film Ziggy Stardust The Motion Picture (1983).

The deathly image gracing the cover was designed by Alexander Da’Lama with photography by Nick Sangiamo, and while it appears to be conceived on a budget of approximately two pence, it still seems under-appreciated both as a double live album of Bowie in his glam rock pomp, and as a classic Bowie album sleeve. It features a visually stunning deconstruction gatefold of Ziggy burning to cinders.

8 – 7.  The stark minimalism of Station to Station (1976), uses a Steve Schapiro photo taken on the set of Nicolas Roeg’s sci-fi drama The Man Who Fell to Earth, of Bowie as lead character Thomas Jerome Newton stepping into an alien environment. Bowie took the persona with him. The Thin White Duke was an icy, severe character dressed in a white shirt, black trousers and a waistcoat, appearing to look more “normal” than some of his other alter-egos, red hair slicked back, with a menacingly distant air about him; he used German Expressionist film and art to inspire his look and subsequent white light stage shows. The cover’s heavy white border clashes with the red lettering that squeezes all the words onto one line with no separation between title and artist, and all in uppercase.

The same stylish layout was replicated for the Changes One (1976) compilation, which uses a glamorous photograph by famous American photographer Tom Kelley, who snapped Hollywood celebrities in the 1940s and 1950s including Marilyn Monroe. This Greatest Hits package cemented Bowie’s stardom, hitting top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic, but he would soon decamp to Berlin to reinvent himself as an experimental, electronic art-rocker.


6.   The superb collage for Bowie’s rock-opus Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980), was rendered in combination with a Brian Duffy photograph of Bowie in the Pierrot costume, designed by Natasha Korniloff, and a painting by British artist Edward Bell. At the photo shoot Bowie initially posed as the perfect Pierrot, although throughout the session he dismantled his look until he was reduced to a dishevelled, smeared, smoking clown.

Much like the Lodger shoot the year before, Bowie had employed Duffy as the photographer in collaboration with a graphic artist. The back of the sleeve references his three previous albums, and Aladdin Sane’s legs (another Duffy photo), summing up the decade nicely. Bowie would wear this outfit in the ground-breaking Ashes to Ashes video, and the influential New Romantic guise drew from his earliest costume experience when he starred in Lindsay Kemp’s Pierrot In Turquoise in the late-60s. A number of photos from the shoot were also featured on three different covers for the Ashes to Ashes 7″ single, the image becoming the dominant visual representation of his Scary Monsters phase.


5.  One of the more famous images in pop culture is the “Heroes” (1977) album cover. Shot by Japanese photographer Masayoshi Sukita, and inspired by the painting Roquairol by German painter Erich Heckel, the stark black and white image strikes a similar pose to that of Iggy Pop’s The Idiot of the same year, also influenced by Heckel. Complete with its distancing ironic quotation marks, “Heroes” was Bowie at his artistic zenith. With the cocaine paranoia of Los Angeles receding, he had perfected the icy gaze and still had an air of menace about him, before turning all smiley and tanned in the 80s. The “Heroes” cover was famously revisited for the 2013 comeback album The Next Day.


4.  The iconic artwork to the breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972), helped contribute to the Ziggy-mystique with its tinted 50s sci-fi comic look that captures the defiant, jump-suit-dressed, extra-terrestrial rockstar Ziggy having just fallen to Earth. The street is the dark and empty Heddon Street in Soho, Central London, that Bowie and photographer Brian Ward visited one cold and rainy night in January 1972.

Influencing a generation of pretty things, Terry Pastor colour-tinted the black and white photograph of Bowie wearing a green jumpsuit, later featured in a performance on BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test, and was hand coloured to appear blue on the sleeve. This instant masterpiece shows Ziggy, guitar in hand, with one knee raised up and resting on a box, the cold, dark and damp street symbolising the bleakness of the apocalyptic concept behind Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and projecting the atmosphere of William Burroughs’ Wild Boys. 


3.  Like the previous album Station to Station, a Steve Schapiro still from The Man Who Fell to Earth was used for the cover of Low (1977). With its low-profile visual pun and Bowie’s orange hair fading into the gloriously futuristic burnt-orange background, Low was the first instalment of Bowie’s celebrated Berlin trilogy and has rightly been hailed as one of the greatest albums, and covers, of all time.

His songwriting on Low tended to deal with difficult issues. Many of the songs, where there was singing, concern lethargy, depression, estrangement, or self-destructive behaviour, mostly delivered in an atypical monotone vocal. As hauntingly futuristic as the music itself, the cover perfectly blends many aspects of photography, design and the integration of colours between the text, the back drop, and Bowie himself.


2.   The mercurial image of a shirtless Bowie adorning the cover of Aladdin Sane (1973), complete with a blue and red lightning bolt painted across his ethereally white face, has become one of the most recognisable and ubiquitous images in rock today. The result of a collaboration between make-up artist Pierre Laroche and photographer Brian Duffy, Bowie’s flame haired character Aladdin Sane, described as “Ziggy goes to America”, is airbrushed to the point where you’re not sure if it’s a painting or a photograph.

A teardrop loosely positioned on his clavicle adds to the drama; eyes closed and mouth slightly agape, he projects flamboyance and charming intrigue. The enduring glam-rock image has now become something of a cultural icon and can be found on fridge magnets, caps, calendars, t-shirts, lamps, sneakers, and beer mats, but the visual impact of this creative masterpiece is undeniable, and has become the defining look of Bowie’s long career. 


1.   Bow-wowie. It’s superstar David painted half dog! screamed the headlines in 1974. Belgian painter, illustrator and comic artist, Guy Peellaert had achieved a degree of fame in 1973 after publishing a best selling book called Rock Dreams, fantasising on unearthly and surreal images of contemporary star idols, in a combination of photomontage and painting. Among its fans were a plethora of celebrities, including Mick Jagger, who commissioned Peellaert to work exclusively on The Rolling Stones’ 1974 album It’s Only Rock and Roll, a fact he mistakenly mentioned to Bowie. You snooze you lose. Peellaert’s art for the Orwellian masterpiece Diamond Dogs (1974), came out in April, six months before the Stones album. You wouldn’t wear a new pair of shoes around David, so said Jagger.


…it’s an artist from Belgium called Guy Peellaert, who did a book called ‘Rock Dreams’ that I nicked. Well, I didn’t nick the book, but I saw the book at Mick Jagger’s house and I nicked the idea of doing a cover.”David Bowie 1974.


Peellaert’s tableau featured a flame-haired, half-man/half-dog Bowie, portrayed as a sphinx-like creature with emaciated features and a hard-to-miss canine penis. Even his hands and fingers have the appearance of paws, whilst behind this monstrous figure are two female, human-canine grotesques based on Alzoria Lewis and Johanna Dickens who were billed as The World’s Strangest Family in a variety show in Coney Island, New York from 1930s – 1950s.

Bowie wanted to be photographed in the style of French dancer Josephine Baker based on a photograph of her in 1926 where she appeared lying on the ground and posing like a wild animal. The painting gave the album a startling visual impact, which had been such a feature in Bowie’s recent work, and one that stood out on record shelves. Best described as pop surrealism, the cover conveys a glam-tinged, post-apocalyptic mutant freak show, with just a hint of mayhem. 


The original gatefold sleeve showed the hybrid creature’s full genitalia which ran afoul of U.S. censors in 1974, who required the artwork to be airbrushed out, but surviving original versions have become sought-after collectables. Accompanying this image was the inner gatefold featuring a dreamlike montage of a cityscape perceived through a haze of deep burnt yellow, accompanied with the lyrics to the album’s opening track, ‘Future Legend’. 


INTRO Picture by Claude Verheyen. Amsterdam 15 October 1977.

Posted in Album Covers, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Iggy Pop, Images, Kinks, The, Mick Rock, Mick Ronson, Mott the Hoople, Robert Fripp, T.Rex | 24 Comments

John Lennon | September 1962

It’s all in the eyes. This rarely seen photograph of John Lennon on the precipice of superstardom was taken around the back of Paul McCartney’s childhood home in Liverpool 60 years ago to the day.


We’ve seen a few shots like this before but this photo is of notable interest for being taken 60 years ago today of John around the back of Paul’s home at 20 Forthlin Road, Allerton. Paul’s brother Mike McCartney was the photographer and George and Paul were there too, enjoying a nice cup of tea.


20 Forthlin Road rear view.


Further listening:

♥    Something About the Beatles – 243: Double Fantasy Revisited part one

♥    Something About the Beatles – 244: Double Fantasy Revisited part two

Posted in Beatles, The, George Harrison, Images, John Lennon, On This Day, Paul McCartney, Podcasts | 10 Comments

David Bowie | Thank you for the cigs!!

This charming two-page note written by a 30-year old David Bowie to his friend and confidant Tony McGrogan in September ’77 with his shopping list of records, shows he was keeping his finger on the pulse of rock.


Bowie made it his business to be fully informed about the current music scene, and in this handwritten note on graph paper to Artistic Relations and RCA employee Tony McGrogan on 22 September 1977, he displays some playful penmanship as he lists some interesting and hot new releases he wanted picked up for him:

Dear Tony,

I would be grateful if you could get one of your R.C.A “Go-fors” to get me these following records from, I guess, a PINK Penk Ponk – Pan … (oh, yes! PUNK) record shop. (Before I leave for swizzleland tonight).

Instantly humanising the guy, the letter was written from Tony’s house in Coulsdon, Surrey where Bowie had stayed for three days to attend the funeral of Marc Bolan, who had tragically been killed in a car accident on 16 September 1977. Bolan’s funeral took place on 20 September. It was a crazy time for our hero. To get an idea of where Bowie was at:

July – August: recorded “Heroes” album at Hansa in Berlin and commenced mixing at Mountain Studios, Montreux, Switzerland (to be released in October 1977).

7 September: appeared on Marc Bolan’s TV Show Marc, which was to be Bolan’s last public appearance before his death nine days later. Broadcast on 28 September.

9 September: Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life released on RCA records, co-produced by Bowie.

11 September: recorded Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas television appearance singing Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy with the American crooner.

20 September: Bowie flew from Switzerland to attend Bolan’s funeral service at Golders Green in London.

23 September: “Heroes” 7″ single released on RCA.

After the service Bowie had Tony Mascia and Tony McGrogan drive him past his childhood home at 40 Stansfield Road, Brixton, then on to Haddon Hall in Southend Road, Beckenham, before adjourning further south to Surry to avoid any media intrusion. The following day he was due to fly back to swizzleland (?) but as outlined in this letter, he needed a wake up call, and this 30 year old man does not know what time banks close:

If this is not poss: then get me up at 12: and we’ll get them ourselves. also what time do banks close as I want to cash some trav: cheques.

love B

It’s an interesting list of LPs and singles, as well requesting The Entire [Stiff] Catalogue (singles & albums) inc Elvis Costello. A lot of these albums were released in 1977 and are mostly punk/new wave records, a genre Bowie would fully explore over his next two albums. He also specifies two Not Punk (V. Important) albums, and spells “definitely” incorrectly, before signing off.

Among others, Bowie’s into the now canonised The Stranglers LP No More Heroes, The Clash’s ‘Complete Control’ single, The Damned’s Damned Damned Damned debut, an early Talking Heads single off their 77 album, and John Foxx-era Ultravox, who had only one album out at the time, and let’s not forget The Snivelling Shits ‘Terminal Stupid’ single!

Elsewhere we have Jean Michel Jarre’s seminal Oxygene, Mink DeVille, Van Der Graaf Generator and Bob Marley. Bowie also asks about Tony Wilson’s predominantly punk focused ITV programme “So It Goes” which had just interviewed Iggy Pop the week before Bowie wrote this note.

P.S. thank you for the cigs!!

P.P.S. Definately get me up at 11:30. I have lost my passport. (oh! christ!)

Click image to enlarge

NB: The man had exquisite taste. I wonder which ones he found. And the fact that he had written this note on the eve his greatest ever song hitting the shops is rather impressive, however the 7″ would reach only #24 in the UK singles charts for reasons that aren’t clear.


Posted in Album Covers, Clash, The, David Bowie, On This Day, T.Rex, Talking Heads | 13 Comments

Lou Reed | I’m So Free – The 1971 RCA Demos

Fifty years on from his self-titled solo debut album, and nine years since his untimely death, Lou Reed is still nabbing headlines with a collection of rare demos released over the holidays and just as quickly withdrawn in an apparent copyright dump.


The 17-track album of Lou Reed demos was uploaded by RCA/Sony Music to iTunes in Europe on 23 December 2021, titled I’m So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos. The collection was swiftly removed just a couple of days later and the reason for the album’s very brief release appears to be an apparent copyright dump done in order to extend RCA/Sony Music’s ownership of Reed’s recordings.

Captured on the eve of becoming a 70s rock star, Lou can be heard flexing his considerable songwriting muscle and reinventing his musical career after leaving the Velvet Underground, one of the greatest and most influential bands in rock history.

In 1970, Lou found himself a penniless, strung-out wreck nursing a career on the wane. He famously took a break from the music biz to work in his father’s tax accounting firm as a typist in Long Island. A year later, RCA signed him to a solo contract and sent him to London to record his debut solo LP, accompanied by top-flight session musicians including guitarist Steve Howe, and Rick Wakeman who were both about to join Yes.

I’m So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos contains low-key demo versions of songs that appeared on that album (released in 1972 as Lou Reed) and his breakthrough follow-up – the Bowie-produced Transformer (1972). Two of the tracks, ‘Kill Your Sons’ and ‘She’s My Best Friend’ eventually appeared on Sally Can’t Dance (1974) and Coney Island Baby (1976) respectively, and the collection includes songs that may have appeared in demo form doing the rounds for several years, but most now seeing the light of day for the first time.

Lou Reed – I’m So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos mp3

I'm So Free_ The 1971 RCA Demos


1. Perfect Day (Demo – Takes 1 & 2). An audibly nervous Lou commences with, “Ok“, then starts a quietly ascending acoustic guitar line “Just a summer’s day/drink sangria in the park” before a bum note brings things to an abrupt halt: “Fuck. Sorry about that. I’ll leave out the tricky guitar bits I think. Ok?“. It’s a beautiful version of a song that fully flourished on Transformer with only some minor lyric changes.

2. I’m So Free (Demo). Another track that ended up on Transformer and a favourite. This solo acoustic version is spot on to the recorded version we know and love, minus the Bowie backing vocals and driving Ronson electric guitar.

3. Wild Child (Demo). A lyrical mix of the prosaic and the poetic with a constantly shifting cast of street characters, the kind who would become increasingly familiar over the course of Reed’s subsequent releases. This great song off the solo debut was rightly included on his first compilation album in 1977, the impeccable Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed.

4. I’m Sticking with You (Demo – Take 2). A song the Velvet Underground performed and recorded, and sung by drummer Maureen Tucker.

5. Lisa Says (Demo). Lou has settled into this recording session beautifully. In good voice and still playing an acoustic guitar for the whole session thus far. Another late-era Velvets ballad that Lou revisited for his solo debut.

6. Going Down (Demo – Take 2). A great underrated classic off Lou Reed, performed beautifully here with Lou in great form on the vocal.

7. I Love You (Demo). This Loaded-era song sounds like it is still in early-draft form: “Smiling faces they can’t be forgotten“, as it sounds clunky lyrically and misses the groove of the lovely full band version (off Lou Reed) which rightly wound up on Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed. At the end Lou cues a fade-out “Ok Richard.

8. New York Telephone Conversation (Demo). A Transformer joke song, but a clever and amusing one. Does not differ wildly from the Bowie-produced version.

9. She’s My Best Friend (Demo). A song that was originally recorded by the Velvet Underground in 1969, it ended up on Lou’s Coney Island Baby in 1975. It’s one of the standouts on that album. Lou in great voice again here, sounding very comfortable with the piece.

10. Kill Your Sons (Demo). A brutal anti-war song in its early stages: “Kill your sons before they reclaim the land“. This early awkward version was rewritten about his childhood electro-shock therapy and re-recorded from a position of dark drug-addled rock stardom in the early 70s, appearing on the hit album Sally Can’t Dance in 1974.

11. Berlin (Demo). A faithful acoustic version but doesn’t come close to what he achieved on his solo debut. This would appear on a later Reed album too, providing the title track to his 1973 cult-classic song suite.

12. Ocean (Demo – Takes 1 & 2). Another song that was performed by the Velvets, and later crucially by Michael Plater, and was the big closing number on Lou’s solo debut. You can hear Lou feeling around for the essence of this great song.

13. Ride Into the Sun (Demo – Take 2). Recorded by the Velvets in 1969 when Lou gave Doug Yule singing duties, extinguishing the dark beauty of one of his most underrated songs. This low key demo is superior.

14. Hangin’ Around (Demo – Take 2). A slight ditty compared to the ultra-cool, rocking version from Transformer.

15. Love Makes You Feel (Demo – Take 2). A decent song off Lou Reed. Performed beautifully here with Lou again in great form on the vocals.

16. I Can’t Stand It (Demo). Another Loaded outtake, I Can’t Stand It was the opening song and a single off Lou Reed, and given the acoustic treatment here.

17. Walk It And Talk It (Demo). Similar to the Velvets’ 1970 demo, this single wound up edgy and rocking on Lou’s debut. For whatever reason, the record failed to connect. It staggered its way to the 189 spot on the Billboard album chart in 1972, and neither of the singles (“I Can’t Stand It,” “Walk and Talk It”) earned a foothold on either side of the Atlantic. With Transformer later in the year that Lou became a star with his “fluke” hit single Walk on the Wild Side


Further Reading:

♥     Lou Reed – Top 50 Solo Songs

♥     #14: Lou Reed – Rock n Roll Animal (1974) / Live (1975)

♥    Average Guy – Lou in the 80s

♥    #15: Lou Reed – The Bells (1979)

♥    Lou Reed – Street Hassle

Posted in Albums That Never Were, David Bowie, Downloads, Images, Lou Reed, Mick Ronson, Robert Quine, Velvet Underground, The | 36 Comments

More Album Cover Outtakes

The retro-yet-modern album cover for Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ Get Happy!! LP was designed based on a photo of Elvis lying on a street grill.


The packaging for Elvis Costello’s Get Happy!! (1980) sleeve was designed by brilliant graphic artist Barney Bubbles, who had worked with Costello at Stiff and Radar previously, designing the iconic covers for My Aim is True and This Years Model. Barney did not receive a credit in line with his insistence on anonymity. The photo was taken on the group’s first US tour by Keith Morris, one of Britain’s great rock photographers, in 1979.

The cover of this galloping classic was designed to look like an old-school record from the classic soul period, complete with vinyl ring wear marks and mod imagery suggesting a 50s/60s vintage, knowingly filtered through a New Wave lens complete with decorative oblong shapes and fluorescent colours.

Declan MacManus was given the sobriquet Elvis Costello by Stiff Records’ supremo Jake Riviera in 1976 but Bubbles’ visual contribution to the early part of Costello’s career helped to calcify his spiky persona. So too is Bubbles’ visual stamp all over the early Costello catalogue, from the scuff marks pre-printed on Get Happy!!, the graphic tour de force that is Armed Forces, to referencing the visual stylings of Blue Note designer Reid Miles for Almost Blue.


Elvis Costello and The Attractions . PHOTO: ESTATE OF KEITH MORRIS/REDFERNS

Further Reading:

♥  Didn’t Know It Was A Cover – Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding 

♥  High Fidelity – Costello in the 80s

Posted in Album Covers, Elvis Costello, Images | 8 Comments

Cliff Richard and Steve Jones – Don’t Talk to Him

Steve Jones accompanied the ageless Sir Cliff Richard on one of his best songs, Don’t Talk to Him.


This interview and acoustic jam session was from a long-lost broadcast of Jonesy’s Jukebox on indie 103.1 in 2007 when Sir Cliff Richard was interviewed by our hero Steve Jones after meeting in a coffee shop.

The unlikely pair have a friendly chat about Cliff’s career and life, before performing the magnificent melody of Don’t Talk to Him, with Jonesy on guitar and providing background vocals. It was one of the few hits Cliff had a hand in writing back in 1963, and the US radio performance includes guitar by esteemed actor Naveen Andrews. The musicians also perform the British artist’s terrific first single Move It at 29.31, and later, have a stab at The Young Ones.

Jonesy has called this one of his favorite Jukebox shows ever, and I can see why!

Don’t Talk to Him commences at 14:52.


Posted in Cliff Richard, Performance of the Day, Podcasts, Sex Pistols, Steve Jones | 8 Comments

More Album Cover Outtakes

These slightly strange unused portraits of David Bowie were taken by photographer Nick Knight in December 1992, originally intended for the cover of his comeback solo album Black Tie White Noise.


The album cover concept for Bowie’s 1993 dance-rock oddity Black Tie White Noise focused on a simple portrait of the star’s face mirrored down the middle. The front cover is the two right hand sides and the back the two left sides of Bowie’s face. The result are slightly disturbing images that leaves the viewer feeling that something is in a most peculiar way. One, the dead-hard older brother, the other a space alien from Mars.


The concept was inspired by Bowie’s distinct eyes, which had different sized pupils the result of a teenage punch to the eye. The above image is the shot used for the mirror effect.

In the end, a different image by Knight, which features the close crop of the singer’s face, slightly tilted, was selected. It was the era when CD’s were all the rage, and due to the size of a compact disc case, it was eventually decided that the consumer needed as much eye contact as possible, comparable to a magazine cover, resulting in one of Bowie’s most pedestrian album sleeves.


Further viewing:

♥   Nick Knight – Bowie Shoot Footage

Posted in Album Covers, David Bowie | 5 Comments

David Bowie, 1981

On the face of it, 1981 was the quietest year of Bowie’s career so far. Having spent the last ten years redefining the rock landscape, there was no new album nor was there another world tour in support of the critically and commercially successful Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album of the previous year. For Bowie, 41 years ago, things were seemingly coming to an end, but things were also opening up.


Bowie had, through the latter half of 1980, taken to the stage in the guise of John Merrick the Elephant Man, famously performing to New York’s packed Booth Theatre and three empty front row seats on the night of John Lennon’s murder, before completing the triumphant Broadway run on 3 January 1981 to wide critical acclaim. It’s hard to speculate what impact the tragic loss of a friend had on Bowie and his outlook for the coming year, but clearly time was needed to re-evaluate.

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It was around this time a certain rancour began to permeate his relationship with RCA. It’s true he had becoming increasingly disenchanted with the record label, and his contract was entering its final months, so too was his non-relationship with his management company Mainman, and head honcho Tony Defries, which had soured horribly by the mid-70s. 

Bowie had decided to wait it out. His marriage to Angie had formally ended in divorce, and rather than enduring a creative hangover after the mesmerising 1970s, Bowie was now free to make his next artistic move and explore other avenues of creativity this year; work with Tony Visconti again, record at Hansa in Berlin, divert his attention by acting in a play, record soundtrack work and a noteworthy (yet unlikely) number one hit single collaboration. The interstitial space of 1981 turns out to be one of revaluation before launching into what everyone knows as his most commercially successful popstar phase: 1983’s Let’s Dance and mega-successful Serious Moonlight tour.


The year started with the release of the first and one of the best David Bowie books related to the analysis of the music; Bowie: An Illustrated Record by Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray. Published in January 1981, the NME writers thoughtfully examine every aspect of Bowie’s provocative and enlightening music over his recording career up until 1980. The writing is engaging and the information is accurate. A critical study of his recorded work, the book includes stunning colour and black and white photos throughout, as well as excellent reproductions of album and single sleeves. It also drills down into collaborative work with the likes of Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Mott the Hoople, Mick Ronson and Dana Gillespie, as well as referencing rare and collectable items like Bowie Now, and a guide to priceless bootlegs such as The Thin White Duke. Bowie even looked over the manuscript back in the day and corrected assorted factual inaccuracies that cropped up along the way. Not to imply his participation was authorised or endorsed in any way, the opinions expressed are all that of the authors. While countless books have since well and truly updated the Bowie discography (best of all is Nicholas Pegg’s The Complete David Bowie), this illustrated record remains an excellent reference point and a personal treasure.


Bowie starred as himself in a German film about the teenage heroin addicted Bowie fan Christiane F. (Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo), miming to the Stage version of Station to Station and generally looking extremely cool and otherworldly. Due to his Elephant Man performance commitments, the concert scene was filmed in 1980 in a New York club made to look like a Berlin nightclub. The accompanying soundtrack album featured a top-drawer selection of Bowie songs from the mid-late 70s and was released in April 1981 on RCA. 

He had left New York earlier in the year and settled back into Mountain Studios in Montreux Switzerland, when in July he got together with legendary producer Giorgio Moroder to record the theme song for the Paul Schrader-directed horror movie Cat People. The track, co-written with Moroder, was a minor hit in the UK and US and turned out to be one of the finest Bowie moments of the decade. This wonderful career-high performance by our hero begins with a ambient build up and a baritone croon: “See these eyes of green…”, a near Velvet Underground Venus in Furs steal, “I could stare for a thousand years”, before warming into a refrain, “And I’ve been Putting Out Fire…”, then launching into the exhilarating octave-straddling, “WITH GASOLIIIINE!!!” as the track blasts in.

It worked well as the opener for the Moroder-composed original soundtrack album and was resurrected to extraordinary effect for a key scene in Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 WWII epic Inglorious Bastards. As good as this is, the recording would become a casualty of Bowie’s drive to continually push forward as it was almost immediately eclipsed by the fine but lesser re-recorded version featuring a then-unknown Stevie Ray Vaughan for Let’s Dance. This superb Moroder detour did however open the door for his next collaboration, this time with Queen on the iconic Under Pressure. Also recorded in July 1981, and again at Mountain Studios, the track became a worldwide sensation upon release in October, reaching No.1 on the UK charts, and Bowie’s best showing in the US since Golden Years.

As chance would have it, Queen were spending much of their time writing and recording the underrated Hot Space (1982) album, and one night while sitting on the eastern end of Lake Geneva hanging with Bowie, they adjourned back to the small studio together. A welcome distraction for a band who were encountering their very own musical differences at the time, the musicians picked up their instruments and Bowie provided backup vocals to an album track called Cool Cat before jamming out a few Cream covers with the band. “We had fun kicking around a few fragments of songs we all knew,” Brian May remembered. “But then we decided it would be great to create something new on the spur of the moment.

Originally titled ‘People On Streets’, Bowie took the creative lead, eventually suggesting they go into the vocal booth to sing how they feel the melody should proceed. “Bowie also insisted that he and Freddie Mercury shouldn’t hear what the other had sung, swapping verses blind, which helped give the song its cut-and-paste feel”.

The track was essentially recorded as a demo, with Bowie and Mercury taking it back to the Power Station Studios in New York for overdubs and mixing a few weeks later. The Bowie guest vocal on the rather indiscriminate disco number Cool Cat did not end up being used on the album, in fact his parts were officially removed at Bowie’s behest. While Under Pressure would go on to be a staple of Queen’s setlists (it ended up as the closing track on Hot Space), Bowie did not perform it live until the 1992 memorial concert for Mercury (the dreaded Lord’s Prayer gig), as a duet with Annie Lennox and the surviving members of Queen. 

The misconception is Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) was the end of the Tony Visconti era and Lodger was the end of the Berlin trilogy (actually mostly recorded at the aforementioned Montreux), but rarely receiving a mention is what he did next: Bertolt Brecht’s Baal. Having already covered Brecht’s Alabama Song on the 1978 world tour, then recording it as the B-side the reworked Space Oddity single of 1979, Bowie was offered and immediately accepted the lead role playing the anti-hero Baal in an unusual BBC TV play.

Something of a passion project for Bowie, filming commenced in August in London and the accompanying soundtrack, financed by Bowie, consisted of five tracks from the production all recorded at Berlin’s Hansa Ton Studios in September applying the same recording techniques as “Heroes”, and using a proper 15-piece German pit band of old guys. The result is ornate and lush; the lovely standout Remembering Marie A is an exquisite moment on the EP. Baal was a bold project for the artist, however it is well worth a revisit featuring some of the finest singing of Bowie’s career and was the last studio collaboration for many years with producer Tony Visconti. 


The year finished with the release of the random compilation album ChangesTwoBowie, in November, something of a companion piece to the faultless ChangesOneBowie from 1976. Bowie was reportedly displeased with the release of this off-kilter mixtape assembled by RCA without his involvement, but there’s nothing wrong with the material contained within. In fact it includes some of his best ever 70s moments, and every single song is a classic (except, of course, John I’m Only Dancing (Again)) although the whole project seems a rather cynical exercise in squeezing a bit more cash out of a huge fanbase at a time when the artist’s stocks were high and was on the move to EMI. He did, however, agree to film a video for Station to Station’s masterful closing track Wild is the Wind which was released as a single by RCA in November to promote this sorta-hits compilation. The video is a good one with an impressive 50s jazz style monochrome video directed by David Mallet (Ashes to Ashes and many many more with DB), and the single was a hit in the UK. Mallet also made a similar one for Baal’s The Drowned Girl and both performances feature Bowie and friends, including Tony Visconti apparently on upright bass and his long-time assistant Coco Schwab on acoustic guitar.

Bowie1981 mp3



  1. Station to Station (live) – Christiane F. (Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo): Original Soundtrack
  2. Cat People (Putting Out Fire) – Cat People: Original Soundtrack
  3. Cool Cat (Bowie vocal) – Hot Space – Queen
  4. Under Pressure – Hot Space – Queen
  5. Baal’s Hymn (Der Choral vom großen Baal) – Baal EP
  6. Remembering Marie A. (Erinnerung an die Marie A.) – Baal EP
  7. Wild is the Wind – Changestwobowie

Posted in David Bowie, Downloads, European Rock Pilgrimage, Mainman, Mixtapes, On This Day, Queen, Top 10 British Synth-Pop Albums | 24 Comments

Top 5 Songs – The Sales Brothers

Born into show business, hired guns Tony and his brother Hunt Sales were the rhythm section and driving force behind some key moments in rock history. ht2

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, bassist Tony and drummer Hunt’s father was well known comedian Soupy Sales who had a long running American comedy show in the 50s and 60s. Soupy, a jazz aficionado with show biz connections, gave the brothers access to many jazz greats. Tony studied the bass from a young age with Carole Kaye, who was the bass player on River Deep Mountain High, and Hunt took his inspiration on the drums from Shelly Manne and Buddy Rich, going on to develop a style all of his own. Even at this young age Hunt attacked the drums and excelled as a singer. Tony and Hunt might have had a career singing if they never took up the bass and drums as they were notable for their distinctive background-vocal abilities, and by their teens had started a band called Tony & the Tigers.

The brothers appeared on the popular rock music series Hullabaloo, and after one of their appearances they met Jimi Hendrix who invited them to watch him record rock history at Electric Ladyland Studios in New York City. After a minor radio hit in the Detroit area and a couple of TV appearances, the brothers switched gear, eventually teaming up with Todd Rundgren, adding their loping, languid beats to some of the his best early-70s work, including his debut album Runt (1970), and follow-up masterpiece The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (1971). The brothers had an almost psychic ability to anticipate the groove, like they were of one mind, working simultaneously and pushing the music forward. 


After a long stint with Rundgren, the Sales brothers joined forces with Iggy Pop providing the crucial rhythm section to the immaculate Bowie-produced Berlin-era record Lust for Life (1977). The brothers then joined Pop on his subsequent supporting tour, recording the Bowie-enhanced live album of the period, TV Eye (1978). Crucially, the Sales brothers formed a key collaboration in 1989, as half of Tin Machine, adding an edge and spontaneity that had been missing from Bowie’s music for quite some time.

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The Sales brothers were hell-raisers and loose cannons with a nihilistic attitude and lifestyle to match. They provided their raw musical instinct and bombastic rock ‘n roll to a plethora of musical greats over the decades including Dr John, Etta James, Harry Dean Stanton, and Tony with Steve Jones and Michael Des Barres in the band Chequered Past.

They even recorded an R&B album together called Hired Guns in 1979 as The Sales Brothers that should have made them both big name stars if Tony hadn’t hit a tree with his car in delaying its release until 2008. Sadly, the Sales brothers’ soul-revue ambitions were derailed, leaving the album a minor footnote in rock history.

These Top 5 Songs serve as a tip-of-the-iceberg introduction to these dedicated and hard working American musicians.


The Sales BrothersTop 5 Songs 

5. Iggy Pop & James Williamson – Lucky Monkeys

Before Lust for Life, the Sales brothers played on a couple of tracks on Iggy’s and ex-Stooge James Williamson’s underrated Kill City, recorded in the aftermath of the Stooges Raw Power sessions, and eventually released in 1977 on Bomp! This is one pulsating ‘Stonesy’ classic.

4. Todd Rundgren – Parole

In 1970, the brothers joined Todd Rundgren’s band, proceeding to tour and record with Rundgren over the next several years, including on the hit single We Gotta Get You a Woman. Both Hunt and Tony play on the cracking rocker Parole, off The Ballad of Todd Rundgren, the album where Todd sends up the singer-songwriting genre while effortlessly affirming his ability as a balladeer of the first water. 

3. Iggy Pop – The Passenger

Lust for Life’s most endearing track was written alternately in the first and third person, as it watches a man riding on a train, seeing a city slip past his window. He is not of the city, just in it, gliding through the city’s “ripped backsides”, staying “under glass”, and seeing “the bright and hollow sky”. Written by guitarist Ricky Gardiner, the track consists of four guitar chords, briskly strummed and punctuated by rests, but never moving from a single progression. Hunt’s drums and Tony’s serpentine bass line holds it all together. There’s no chorus, save for a wordless repeat of the verse melody, as the Sales brothers chime in on backing vocals.

2. Tin Machine – Under the God

Thunderous machine-gun drums and savage riffing sums up Tin Machine’s badass first single, Under the God, perhaps the heaviest and best number this short-lived project ever recorded. Hunt’s drumming is so aggressive it would have been impossible to play it any other way, and he provides a background tenor vocal accompanying Bowie’s own voice and blending very well together. Recorded pre-grunge, Tin Machine was way ahead of its time musically and conceptually. Yet, the audiences wanted Bowie’s hits, and were not prepared for the sonic onslaught and creative bombardment that was Tin Machine’s trademark.

1. Iggy Pop – Lust for Life

This instantly recognisable rock classic that gets better with each listen embraces a high level of sleaze and menace, but also has a celebratory and happy feel overall. Musically the track is confident R&B and is the sound of Iggy Pop’s artistic reinvention, with Hunt Sales on iconic drums and backing vocals…who knew?


Further Listening:

♥   Todd Rundgren – Broke Down and Busted (1970)

♥   Todd Rundgren – Slut (1972)

♥   Tin Machine – Pretty Thing (1989)

♥   Tin Machine – Baby Universal (1991)

♥   The Sales Brothers – Shiftin’ Soul (2008)


Posted in David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Jimi Hendrix, Sex Pistols, Steve Jones, Stooges, The, Todd Rundgren, Top 5 Songs | 15 Comments

More Album Cover Outtakes

The photograph on the cover of The Kinks’ country-rock masterpiece Muswell Hillbillies was shot at the Archway Tavern in London, a couple of miles away from Muswell Hill in North London where band leader Ray Davies and guitarist Dave Davies grew up.


Lyrically, Muswell Hillbillies is an album steeped in London imagery set to ironically upbeat American country and blues, however is anything but a tender tribute to the north London suburb that Ray and Dave Davies called home. A traditionalist who distrusts big government, Ray’s sophisticated prose is filled with references to people and places he knew growing up, circling themes of poverty and working-class life, and telling the tale of how the beautiful red-brick Edwardian avenues were becoming more and more gentrified with the destruction and subdivision of old neighbourhoods. 

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They have come to stand for some of the most enduring and heart-clutching pop of all time, and the band’s ninth studio album is no different. The Kinks smile their way through the despair and allow influences from pre-war American popular music to infiltrate their famously English sound. As they lived their lives in Muswell Hill, these Londoners’ dreams kept drifting to America. The music is warm, inviting, and happy and jaunty throughout, and is coloured with an old-time Dixieland horn section (not many bands were doing that in 1971), rockabilly, blues and tin pan alley evoking the trad jazz era. 

“Got no privacy, got no liberty, ‘Cause the twentieth century people took it all away from me”

The song cycle is about a community of people in a particular place, all trying to keep a grip on their lives in the shadow of the era’s enormous faceless institutions. Tracks such as galloping opener 20th Century Man is about a man in the last house in the street to be demolished who tapes explosives to his body, so that if they come to knock the house down, he’ll blow the place up, including himself. He is a disillusioned anti-hero, alienated by every current trend and unhappy about the erosion of his civil liberties. So too the mad, semi-psychotic imagery of Here Come The People In Grey is all about social upheaval, while Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues sums up what someone feels like when they’re not in control of their own life anymore. Elsewhere, the ominous undercurrents of Uncle Son is about people who never had a voice, never had a politician willing to speak for them, who are finding themselves slipping through the cracks of society.


The front cover picture of Ray, Dave and the band in all their bell-bottom wearing, long hair and bearded 1970s glory, standing at the bar of an old-fashioned English pub, having a pint, surrounded by ‘regulars’ old and young, was taken in The Archway Tavern, about 2 miles away from Muswell Hill. There’s some besuited businessmen in the background, an old man in the foreground, and a casually dressed man staring disdainfully to his right sporting a moustache and an red pullover. When compared to how it looks today, to say the interior has been gentrified beyond recognition is an understatement. 

muswellhillbillies_insert1 (1)


The back inset picture, showing the band below a signpost giving direction to Muswell Hill, was taken on the small traffic island at the intersection of Castle Yard and Southwood Lane in Highgate, which remains largely unchanged. 


The inner gatefold of the album showed the band in Muswell Hill by an iron fence surrounding a leftover wartime bomb site. Sadly, these are long-vanished Victorian streets, and this is what now stands at the corner of Lulot Street (now Lulot Gardens) and Retcar Street in Highgate. These streets were demolished to make way for modern flats in the 1970s.

“They’re putting us in identical little boxes. No character, just uniformity…” 



♥   Nick Littlewood Facebook

♥   Nigel Ward Facebook

♥   The Kinks – Top 50 Songs

Posted in Album Covers, European Rock Pilgrimage, Images, Kinks, The | 10 Comments

T.Rex | The Slider

Released on this day 50 years ago, the timeless photograph of Marc Bolan on the cover of The Slider was credited to have been taken by Ringo Starr. But was it?


The iconic photograph of Marc Bolan with his “corkscrew hair” on the cover of T.Rex’s strutting classic The Slider (1972), was credited to Ringo Starr in the album’s liner notes. Ringo was directing the Bolan/T.Rex rockumentary Born to Boogie at the time but record producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie among many others) has stated that it was he, not Ringo, who took the cover image of a top-hatted Bolan on John Lennon’s estate in Ascot one misty day. Tony says:

 “I certainly did! We’d had long breaks while shooting Born To Boogie while Ringo set up different scenes, so Marc gave me his Nikon F camera and we walked out into the woods and I shot three rolls of film. So back in London I’m at Marc’s flat and I see the contact sheets and say: “Oh, those are all the ones I took.” He had a funny look on his face, and goes: “Oh, right. Well, initial the sheets and if I ever use them, I’ll give you a credit.

“Of course, three months later he conveniently forgot and credited the shot to Ringo. I mean, this is my recollection of how things went down. If Ringo wants to challenge me on it, he’s welcome.”

album-t-rex-the-slider 2

“Marc was always an opportunist and would name-drop whenever he could. I don’t want to denigrate him as the great rock star that he was, but this is one one of the times that he tried to rewrite history. He used to be really bitchy about me getting credited too much. I think the top hat was an allusion he always made to being a magician. Marc told me that he lived in Paris for six months when he was a male model with a French wizard.”


Earlier in their career as a folk-rock duo Tyrannosaurus Rex, Visconti supposedly got fed up with writing the name out in full on studio charts and tapes and began to abbreviate it to T.Rex; when Bolan first noticed it, he was angry, but later claimed the idea was his!

Recorded in March and released in July of 1972, the near-perfect The Slider is 50 years old today and still sounds as fresh and crunchy as ever. With lip-smacking aplomb, the album was the zenith of the band’s brief career, containing some of the band’s best and most well known songs via Bolan’s Gibson Les Paul, such as Metal Guru and Telegram Sam both UK chart-toppers, and the heavy guitar rock of Buick Mackane.

The Slider hit number 4 on the UK charts and number 17 in the US, but marked the end of Marc Bolan’s reign as a pop superstar. The band would never achieve these artist and commercial heights again.

It should be noted that one of Bolan’s best ever songs, Thunderwing, was left off the album. It was the B-side to Metal Guru and T.Rex were renowned for their B-sides. This Slider-era classic is one of their finest moments ever put tape.

Posted in Album Covers, David Bowie, Images, Mainman, On This Day, T.Rex | 14 Comments

The Human League | Reproduction

The image on the cover of The Human League’s debut album Reproduction, anticipates their definitive line-up.

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Before the mainstream success of ‘Don’t You Want Me’, one of the most enduringly popular songs of the 80s, and before the twin sultry tones of vocalists Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall, British synth-pop group The Human League began life as a male-dominated, experimental electronic four-piece.

Formed in Sheffield, England in 1977 by Ian Craig Marsh (synthesizer) and Martyn Ware (synthesizer) as Dead Daughters, the duo quickly enlisted film technician Adrian Wright and finally Phil Oakey (vocals/synthesizer) to become The Human League.


With the release of their undoubtedly impressive debut album Reproduction (1979) on Virgin Records, The Human League quickly gained a considerable cult following in England, including the likes of David Bowie, via visually impressive live performances and strong original material.

Early pioneers of the UK electronic scene, Reproduction was considered both avant-garde (Empire State Human), cutting edge (Blind Youth), and a natural progression of the detached, icy, windswept and austere work of Kraftwerk from earlier in the decade (The World Before Last). The dystopian material has threads of melody that weave their way over robotic synth beats, with tunes delivered either via Phil Oakey’s vocals, at times still finding his voice, or through simple synth motifs.

Coincidentally, the Reproduction album cover anticipates the band we now know and love – one guy and two girls, even though they were a blokey four-piece at the time.


“We said we wanted an image of a glass dance floor in a discotheque which people were dancing on and beneath this, a lit room full of babies. It was meant to look like a still from a film – like some kind of dystopian vision of the future – but it just looks like they’re treading on babies. We were quite upset but at that time, it was too late to change it.” – Martyn Ware

Strangely, the inner sleeve more than echoes General Zod and chums in their flying mirror thingies in Christopher Reeve’s Superman II (1980) for reasons that aren’t clear.

Reproduction was produced by Colin Thurston who had just completed co-engineering work on Bowie’s “Heroes” and Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life (both 1977), as well as production work on Magazine’s excellent second album Secondhand Daylight (1979). Thurston would go on to produce some major 80s albums such as Duran Duran’s debut and their follow up, Rio, in part defining the sound of the 80s.

With drums made entirely with the Roland System-100 synthesizer, Reproduction has a brilliant Side One, and a Side Two that consists of two long medleys, including a weird cover of the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling which manages to be truly heartfelt and warm through the icy glitter of its instrumentation.

The band quickly delivered the very good follow up Travelogue (1980), however the experimental line-up soon split in half, both moving in a more self-consciously poppy direction – one half Oakey/Wright’s The Human League, the other Ware/Marsh as Heaven 17.

This left Oakey without a band or players, and with Wright promoted to synth, he recruited teenagers Catherall and Sulley (both vocals) in a last ditch attempt to continue the band. With the addition of Ian Burden (synthesizer/bass) and Jo Callis (guitar/synthesizer) the definitive line-up was complete. Their next album, Dare (1981), ushered in global success for the new look Human League, proving to be one of the most successful and best-loved British pop albums of all time.

Although Reproduction was met with limited commercial success upon its original release in 1979, it fared better after the group became commercially successful, and has since been hailed as a milestone in the development of popular electronic music. For those who like the experimental wing of New Wave music, such as Magazine and Kraftwerk, should lend an ear to The Human League’s underrated debut.

The Human LeagueReproduction mp3


Side One

  1. Almost Medieval – 4:43
  2. Circus of Death – 3:55
  3. The Path of Least Resistance – 3:33
  4. Blind Youth – 3:25
  5. The Word Before Last – 4:04
  6. Empire State Human – 3:17

Side Two

  1. Morale…You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling  – 9:39
  2. Austerity/Girl One (Medley) – 6:44
  3. Zero as a Limit – 4:13

Further Listening:

  Buy The Human League – Reproduction

 Top 10 British Synth-Pop Albums

♥  More Album Cover Outtakes

  Producer: Hugh Padgham in the 80s

Posted in Album Covers, Downloads, Human League, The, Images, Producers, Top 10 British Synth-Pop Albums | 12 Comments

Mick Jones | I Turned Out a Punk

The guitarist and founding member of one of the most important and influential bands of the rock era recently turned 67. To celebrate, The Press compiles Mick Jones’ best songs with The Clash.


The late Joe Strummer may have been the heart and soul of The Clash, but lead guitarist, co-singer and co-songwriter Mick Jones always tempered Strummer’s rough edges, in turn softening and broadening the band’s sound and appeal.

A teen-tearaway who used to sneak into Mott the Hoople shows, Jones assembled The Clash in 1976, recruiting bassist Paul Simonon, a passionate reggae fan, and Strummer, the magnetic frontman of local London pub rock band the 101ers, originally playing seedy London punk clubs before eventually adding excellent drummer Topper Headon. When the opening chords of their debut single “White Riot” in March 1977 announced a dangerous new London band was on the scene, the classic line-up was complete.


The British group, via their first album THE CLASH (1977) ★★★★★, took the anger and frustration of the country’s working class youth of the 1970s and gave it universal meaning, striking a chord that echoed in the minds of young people around the world. The music was angry and message-laden rock, played fast and furiously with a treble-heavy mix that has aged very well, and their appeal is now broader than ever.

With albums like the strong sophomore effort GIVE ‘EM ENOUGH ROPE (1978) ★★★★, and more so with their rightly exalted creative apex LONDON CALLING (1979) ★★★★★, The Clash possessed a rare songwriting tension between Strummer and Jones, and a relentless driving energy in the studio and on stage, not to mention their formidable songwriting partnership, and contrasting vocal styles as highlighted on duets like Rudy Can’t Fail.

Strummer was the lead singer and main lyricist in The Clash, but Jones’ musical and songwriting contributions can’t be denied. With an immaculate ear for melody and strong hooks, and a penchant for blistering rock ‘n roll, the guitarist’s input was exceptional time after time across five albums and countless singles, compilations, and EP’s, and with Joe, created the perfect balance within this legendary group. And he has some great hats.

Throw in punchy guitar bursts, an electrifying stage presence, strong musicianship, lyrics that never took the easy path to getting their point across, as highlighted on the outrageous triple sprawl of SANDINISTA (1980) ★★★★½, an insatiable appetite for multiple stylings including reggae, dub-punk, rap or pop (Charlie Don’t Surf), and what you get is a band that deserves to be in the upper echelon of the best of the era.

Before their next album appeared, the weird rock jungle collection that is COMBAT ROCK (1982) ★★★★, Headon abruptly departed the group, replaced by original drummer Terry Chimes, and while the album would become the band’s biggest seller, particularly in the USA, it was on the accompanying headline tour where cracks were beginning to show. 


They had achieved the status of a world-renowned rock phenomena both critically and commercially, but uneasy feelings, internal tensions and flagging enthusiasm would eventually send Mick Jones packing less than a year later.

Our hero’s departure from The Clash had a corrosive effect on the band’s creativity to say the least, which soon became evident on 1985’s roundly derided CUT THE CRAP ★, before Strummer would disband The Clash for good. 

While their career was short lived, they were always respected by the hardcore scenesters and equally by the dabblers, earning the slogan “The only band that matters”, but they famously railed against classic-rock hero worship, in turn redesigning rock history in their own impeccable image. 


Mick came up smiling, assembling a new group called Big Audio Dynamite (BAD) with Don Letts, whose debut album went on to become a best-seller in 1986. Arguably the member who stayed the busiest after the breakup, Mick went on to form new bands and become a much sought-after producer (eg: The Libertines) who has collaborated with Simonon on the Gorillaz’ 2010 release, Plastic Beach, and more recently with Flaming Lips and The Avalanches. 


The Clash – I Turned Out a Punk: The Best of Mick Jones

Somebody Got Murdered One of the best tracks off Sandinista! Sung and written by Mick although Joe Strummer wrote the words and does the spoken word section: Joe Strummer: “We got a phone call from Jack Nitzsche and he said ‘We need a heavy rock number for this movie with Al Pacino’ so I said OK. I went home and there was this guy in a pool of blood out by the car parking kiosk. That night I wrote the lyric. I gave it to Mick and he wrote the tune. We recorded it and Jack Nitzsche never called back.”

Stay Free – One of Mick’s best, and a live favourite, Stay Free was recorded in 1978 in London’s Basing Street studios (aka Sarm West Studios) for the Give ‘Em Enough Rope album. 

Lost in the Supermarket On this highlight from the timeless London Calling album, Joe wrote the lyrics and it includes personal references to his own life growing up in a suburban middle-class family. Mick wrote the music and sings lead. Rarely played live.

I’m Not Down – An underrated catchy classic buried on side 4 of London Calling, this one was written and sung my Mick.

Atom Tan – A lovely little call and response number filled with apocalyptic humour, this is one of the many stylistic variations on Combat Rock. Co-sung/written by Joe and Mick. 

Should I Stay Or Should I Go – Mick’s timeless classic from Combat Rock, this great rockin’ song was released in 1982 as a double A-side single alongside the magnificent Straight to Hell and re-released in 1991 topping the UK singles chart.

The Card Cheat – Recorded late in the London Calling sessions, Mick double-tracked just about everything, creating a Phil Spector-style ‘wall of sound’, a ‘Be My Baby’ beat, and a blistering horn section. The song was never performed live.  

1-2 Crush On You B-side to 1978 single Tommy Gun, written by Mick and the first song Joe attempted to play with his new musical allies during the very first Clash rehearsals. Of greater interest for displaying what the Clash might have sounded like had they not discovered politics.

Train in Vain – The final song on, and the last to be recorded for, London Calling. Originally not listed on the LC sleeve, it was the third and final single from the album, and the first Clash song to reach the United States Top 30. 

Jail Guitar Doors – B-side to the band’s fourth single Clash City Rockers, and  both songs were included on the US release of their self-titled album in 1979. The song takes cues from the New York Dolls’ as well as David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel.

Up in Heaven (Not Only Here) – Anchored by a soaring Mick Jones guitar hook, this great track is off Sandinista! with angry, despairing lyrics written by Joe Strummer. 

Police on My Back – This cover is an intense burst of energy with superb drum work from Topper Headon. Originally written by Eddy Grant and performed by The Equals in 1967, this powerful rocker opens with Mick’s guitar duplicating the sound of a siren and off the occasionally brilliant Sandinista! 

Gates of the West – This obscurity came off the excellent The Cost of Living EP released in 1979, something of a transition release before the landmark London Calling LP, lyrically about their first encounter with the USA.

I should be jumpin’ shoutin’ that I made it all this way
From Camden Town station to Fortieth and Eighth
Not many make it this far and many say we’re great
But just like them we walk on an’ we can’t escape our fate



Posted in Clash, The, Downloads, Mick Jones, Mixtapes, On This Day | 16 Comments

Steve Hackett | Genesis Revisited

Innovative guitarist Steve Hackett and his band of supremely accomplished musicians brings to life the majestic music of mid-70s Genesis at Melbourne’s Palais Theatre.


Genesis only ever made it to Australia once, in 1986 – years after guitarist Steve Hackett and singer Peter Gabriel had left the band. So Steve is making it up to fans by once again bringing a whole lot of Genesis magic to Australian shores with an imperious performance of two genre-defining classics in their entirety: 1977’s double live album Seconds Out – the final Genesis record upon which Hackett appeared – and the impeccable Selling England By the Pound (1973) LP. For many Genesis fans, these albums represent the very best the band had to offer.

Last night’s gig at Melbourne’s iconic Palais Theatre, Hackett and his and top-notch 5-piece band treated the audience to some of Genesis’ most memorable moments. They stayed faithful to the original arrangements while fleshing them out with additional instrumentation. From nuanced sensitivity to dramatic progressive rock, this was all about creative musicianship, while immersing us in English eccentricity and intricate songcraft, Hackett and his band effortlessly delivered delicate prose, wondrous melodies, and of course, the soaring lead guitar of our hero always at the centre of their universe.

Playing a 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop for the majority of the show, Hackett’s consummate playing is awe inspiring and never flashy, full of texture and atmosphere ahead of showiness or extended soloing.

The show was divided into two parts. The first half of the performance was Second’s Out, which was a special choice as it highlights material lifted from several classic albums in the Genesis canon up to 1977 – perhaps that’s why Steve chose it.

A hugely successful double album at the time, it was recorded on their concert tour in support of 1976’s very good Wind & Wuthering album, and featured Hackett on guitar alongside Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Phil Collins, who had taken on the role of lead vocalist following the departure of Peter Gabriel. The tour also marked Steve’s final recordings with the band as he left to pursue an expansive solo career.

Opening with a series of Genesis classics from Squonk, The Carpet Crawlers and an exquisite version of Afterglow, it was on the beloved The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Foxtrot’s 23-minute magnum opus Supper’s Ready where vocalist Nad Sylvan really shined, bringing the material’s subtle tones and deep emotions to life, with a voice full of character, not far removed from Peter Gabriel’s, without trying to draw unnecessary attention or take away from Hackett’s incendiary guitar work.

The second half featured the entire Selling England By the Pound album in order, opening with Dancing with The Moonlit Knight through an extended take on I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe), both of which were superb renditions, the latter featuring Steve stretching out on guitar, as well as a remarkable sax solo from multi-instrumentalist Rob Townsend.


Simply magnificent versions of landmarks Firth of Fifth and Cinema Show followed, both songs pivotal in Hackett’s significant Genesis contribution, and found Roger King replicating Tony Banks’ keyboard virtuosity, and sound, to brilliant effect. A thunderous Craig Blundell drum solo was included in the Dance on a Volcano encore which segued into one of the greatest musical pieces used to end a concert … Los Endos, before the band lined up to receive extended and rapturous applause. Tonight some of the best ever Genesis material was performed respectfully, but also not slavishly, and it was a wonderful thing to witness this essential music so alive again.

Posted in Genesis, Gigs, Phil Collins, Steve Hackett | 17 Comments

You Must Get Them All | Steve Pringle

Now Reading: Comprehensively immortalised in print by author Steve Pringle, You Must Get Them All is the first book to cover the entire catalogue of Britain’s post-punk colossus The Fall.


The Fall produced a huge volume of high-quality work between 1978 and 2017 and, whether you can digest it all or not, the band’s enormous influence on the music scene, nor their integrity or refusal to compromise, can not be denied.

You Must Get Them All | The Fall On Record covers it all – from every single LP and track by track analysis in a considered and informative approach, through the legendary Manchester band’s multiple line-up changes, outtakes, setbacks, reinventions, compilations, EPs, singles, live albums, multiple Peel Sessions, almost 20 pages of Who’s Who in The Fall, and of course the one constant: the slashing intensity that was their mercurial frontman, Mark E Smith. Fittingly, ex-drummer Paul Hanley contributed the foreword.


Originally the content was available via Steve Pringle’s excellent blog You Must Get Them All, however as Steve pointed out recently on the Oh! Brother podcast, the content has been massively updated and now expanded into print.

Perfect for obsessives of The Fall (like myself) and even those who dabble, this 600+ page tome also works as an excellent reference guide, and equally so a quick flick for fans and collectors alike.

The book is available now from Route Publishing who I must say have been extremely responsive in helping me with my panicked enquiries regarding it’s safe arrival on my doorstep in Melbourne, Australia.

Steve Pringle can be found via The Fall In Fives blog, through Twitter and on the excellent thefallinfives radio show.

Further Reading:

♥   The Fall – It’s On Forever

♥   More Album Cover Outtakes – This Nation’s Saving Grace

   The Fall – I Wake Up In The City

♥   The Big Midweek | Life Inside The Fall

♥   The Fall – Top 50 Songs

Posted in Fall, The, Now Reading | 4 Comments

Didn’t Know It Was A Cover | David Gilmour’s There’s No Way Out Of Here

While enjoying some much-needed respite from the claustrophobic Pink Floyd machine, David Gilmour summed up his fraught situation with one of his best solo efforts and the great ‘missing’ Floyd song: ‘There’s No Way Out of Here’ – but it was a cover!


It’s no secret there were a lot of tensions within Pink Floyd during the making of Animals (1977), and while the band had completed a successful yet gruelling tour of North America, Gilmour and increasingly dominant bassist Roger Waters, were becoming restless within the group restrictions. In fact Gilmour was already turning out a solo album.

The guitarist had a yearning to get together with a bunch of guys in a room, play some tunes, “knock ’em down”, and put out a record. So, he teamed up with former colleagues Rick Wills and Willie Wilson, with whom he played in Joker’s Wild back home in Cambridge before he joined Pink Floyd (later to be part of the “surrogate band” during Floyd’s The Wall dates), and recorded his first solo album at Super Bear Studios in France; the bluesy, rocky outing, David Gilmour (Columbia, 1978).