Best of 2012 - Songs, EPs and LPs not to be forgotten

Here's a compilation of songs and no-songs (call them tracks) that made my year (wrapped in a self-made cover sleeve with pictures by Claudia Böhm). With various styles, less sludgy doom than previous years I must admit. Maybe I'm getting old and soft (jelly some would say). This is the reason I splitted this compilation in 2, in order to be more easy to listen to it. Of course Brian Wilson, Kim Fowley and Dr John are old glories and no more at their creative peak, but the fact is they have made each some of the songs I loved the most this year. And for a new generation you got Emily Wells and JFG, 2 of the greatest composers of the last years so far. Doom Tree is a complete hip hop coup-de-coeur (long time I did not have in this genre) and Grass Is Green my noisy coup-de-foudre, one of the greatest album I listened to this year and this song is marvellous (but I could have picked 2 or 3 others in this masterpiece). The tracks are 5 of the most devastating (for Black Skies, Rabbits and Witchstone) or powerful (for Rotting Hills and Sonance) of the year. You can find all these bands on Forgotten Songs (until July, when mf shelved my account) or Dim Damn Doom. Below, the list of my 10 fave albums of the year. Some of course have songs in the compilation but not all. Yes I know you may think I give too much credit to the young Emily Wells. But her album totally blowed me away and was the soundtrack of several important moments during my year. Her music talks to me the way the Unthanks' one talked to me last year. Grass Is Green,  Rabbits, Bezoar, Uzala, Huata, Single Mothers and Black Skies have given to this year its "lettres de noblesse", and they were not many to create something new and exciting. When I look at the other Best of lists from other blogs, I sometimes wonder if really they are in search of some evolution in music. But nevermind, maybe I'm too old, too weird, old and stupid. Hope the 13th year of the XXIst century will offer some greatness too. Enjoy it here.

My best albums of the year (preference order, from 1 to 10)

Emily Wells - Mama

Grass Is Green - Ronson

Black Skies - On The Wings Of Time

Rabbits - Bites Rites

Dr John - Locked Down

Single Mothers - Indian Pussy

Doom Tree - No Kings

Bezoar - Wyt Deth

Uzala - Uzala

Huata - Atavist of Mann


Str... - Live In London (2001-04)

This live set is totally acoustic and has been recorded during the last decade, it's the only thing I can write with assurance since for the rest it's a complete mystery. Released by Carinco, a label who doesn't care to wrap his releases in ugly cover sleeves and to not provide any information to the "cochon de payant" (French expression that means "pig customer" i.e. treating the customer as a pig). See what they did with Melanie's back catalogue and tell me whether it's not what we all despise from a "label". So, I decided to post it here with a better cover sleeve (with amusing pictures ddkated to feet fetichists, from a photographer called Fraser James, see his deviantArt gallery here). What I think is that this concert was recorded between 2001 and 2004 with Brian Willoughby on guitar and before Chas Cronk rejoined the band since there's no bass sound and the setlist is more adequate with the ones they played at their acoustic sets in their beginnings (I mean the beginnings of their new acoustic career). So, I decided to credit Willoughby instead of Cronk but nothing's sure. Whatever, the setlist is a pure dream, without any weak track. If, like me, you love Baroque and Roll and Painted Sky albums, you'll find here another reason to reach paradise cos' these versions are wonderfully delicate (and melancholic), without the mandatory happy songs that they sometimes feel the need to intercede in their repertoire. So here it is, my Xmas gift. Hope we got some day more info about this live concert.


Mott The Hoople - Live At Fairfield Halls (1970)

This repost to announce that I reup-ed all the Live Mott The Hoople of the blogs, all had disappeared when my mf account was shelved. A visitor asked me for reup this one yesterday, so I did it for all, surely many who had missed them will be happy to get them on FS. More to come.

Another Mott The Hoople "album that could have been". Actually, failing to find in studio the intensity and excitation of their live sets, they imagined releasing a live album. This opportunity was provided by their opening shows for Free, who were recording their concerts for a future live LP. Fairfield Halls will actually provide some tracks of the official Free Live album. Unfortunately, the Mott set triggered such an excitation than part of the audience climbed on stage and produced some technical problems that were considered annoying enough to withdraw this Live album project. Not very clear where are the problems actually when you listen to this top quality recorded set. But the fact is that the songs would remain in the void until the Mott Box Set ("Ohio" being on it) and then the CD issue by Angel Air. Would this live LP changed the destiny of the band if released in December 1970? Not sure actually cause honestly, it' s often a little too much sound chaos and tracks are rather too long to maintain interest when listened to on records. And the slow ballads (specially "When My Mind's Gone", so wonderful in studio) are a little out of place in this playlist. However, this is a fascinating testimony of a dead-born album and this provides the pleasure to imagine listening to an album that only failed to exist. Enjoy it here. PS. I took the cover sleeves from the Wildlife's inner one (surely shot during this tour).


St... - Lay Down / Backside 7" (1972)

This repost cos' I reup-ed several Strawbs singles on rs today (those who wear only on mf since you know my mf account was removed). I'll post more Strawbs rare of unusual stuff later. But I'm cautious since I have been asked to remove files from this band sometimes in the past. Below what I wrote in the initial post about this single

With this one, released in October 1972, Strawbs at last entered the charts (and reached n°12 in UK). Not that this song was really representative of the band's music but during the year 1972 it's clear Dave Cousins wanted to be in the glam-wave and alsmost succeeded, at least commercially. This is these times that we live here through these singles. The forgotten song is not "Lay Down" of course but the B-side, called appropriately "Backside", and said to be played by a band called Ciggy Barlust and The Whales From Venus, a parody of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, but a great song, without anything to do with the rock 'n roll approach the band seemed to favour. It could have been on Grave New World and would have replaced for the better several songs on the uneven Bursting At The Seams LP released some months later. Too bad the lyrics were nothing else than irony based on wordplay with Bowie's gimmicks. The song deserved a better text. However, an unmissable addition to this series. Enjoy it here.

Backside. The boy stood on the burning stage, his back against the mast He did not dare to turn around till Davy Bowie passed The stardust painted round his eyes was really fading fast. Oh but I think I'm going to come again. Oh but I think I'm going to come again. The spiders from Uranus were climbing up the walls With such a space (?) the oddity, his fey libido calls But the people in the front row can only see his smalls. Oh but I think I'm going to come again. Oh but I think I'm going to come again.


Alice Cooper - Elected (1972)

Hi to my  dear American visitors (you are the majority here), and a little gift for your election day (we had ours in France last May and it was a fucking joke too, absolutely nonsense). Eternal fool's game isn't it? Where are the Alice Cooper of our times? Nowhere. Where are parody, sarcasm, derision in today's rock? Nowhere. Some pitiful web jokes, nothing venimous and anarchist as were Alice and his boys or later on Jello Biafra or the Sex Pistols. Shit times. Get me back to the seventies (moreover I was young and it's not a small reason to get back there). Nothing to download. You got all the song don't you? And sure WB would ask for my blog to be shut immediately. That's how things are going in our 1984-like (and not liked) era.

  I'm your top prime cut of meat, I'm your choice, I wanna be elected, I'm your yankee doodle dandy in a gold Rolls Royce, I wanna be elected, Kids want a saviour, don't need a fake, I wanna be elected, We're all gonna rock to the rules that I make, I wanna be elected, elected, elected. I never lied to you, I've always been cool, I wanna be elected, I gotta get the vote, and I told you 'bout school, I wanna be elected, elected, elected, Hallelujah, I wanna be selected, Everyone in the United States of America. We're gonna win this one, take the country by storm, We're gonna be elected, You and me together, young and strong, We're gonna be elected, elected, elected, Respected, selected, call collected, I wanna be elected, elected. "And if I am elected I promise the formation of a new party A third party, the Wild Party! I know we have problems, We got problems right here in Central City, We have problems on the North, South, East and West, New York City, Saint Louis, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Everybody has problems, And personally, I don't care."


Procol Harum - Nothing But The Truth 7" (1974)

No particular reason to repost, only the pleasure to have this single in bloglight again. The bridge is one of the most stunning thing I heard in my life and I heard a lot. So it's good to go back to the basics. I juste posted a large size cover sleeve, although it was not the UK one I didn't find in any good quality.

This is one of the best singles in the history of rock 'n' roll, posted here cause backed with a song not included in the current album of the moment Exotic Birds & Fruits. Considered by the whole musical press as the single that would reinstall the band at the top of the creampie, it was taken as single of the week by John Peel, not inclined to have taste for the band, and seemed a killer with its unstoppable Motown beat, with Chris Thomas producing what announced his production for Never Mind The Bollocks (the perfect choice for Sex Pistols I must say) 3 years later. Unfortunately, it was a failure and "Nothing But The Truth" didn't even chart. However, the song stands proudly the test of time and this is one of my fave one from the band, and with "Simple Sister" my fave rock one. The B-side was intended to feature in Exotic Birds and Fruits but was removed for "New Lamps", and maybe even in Grand Hotel since a drawing in the style of the inside booklet had been done for it, but you can read all this by someone more scholar than me here. This is also a rocky one and this single was a message than the Classicorchestral period of the band was over after 2 years focused on this style. The ghost of the Paramounts was back in them and it was a thrilling return. Again, you can learn a lot of things on this song if you're interested in reading this bunch of erudition here. For the 2 songs of this single (I show 2 different sleeves, above is the UK one, below maybe Italian one) click here.

Nothing But The Truth. It seems as clear as yesterday We saw it in a dream but dream became insanity an awful gaping scream So sad to see such emptiness So sad to see such tears And heaped up leaves of bitterness turned mouldy down the years Nothing but the truth. Common words in use Hard to find excuse Harder than the truth Like Icarus we flew too high We flew too near the sun They caught us in that awful glare Our hapless throats were strung But just before the final stroke They took us victims of the rope And cast us far beyond the deep To lie in never ending sleep It seems as clear as yesterday They cast us in the deep We lie in darkest night for good Never ending sleep A never ending bitter gloom Whose darkness seldom clears A God forsaken emptiness Which fills our hearts with tears


Melanie - Oh Boy / Brand New Key 7" (1978)

Between 1978 and 1982, Melanie tried to reach some kind of success using covers of others' songs. There were "Knock On Wood", there will be "Detroit or Buffalo" and here was the classic Buddy Holly "Oh Boy". Honestly, I never found she succeeded in covering rocky songs when she triumphs in making hers ballads or sad songs. Here it's a rocker, and even if she sings it really well and with guts, behind, the band is too mainstream to make it a total success. But the interest of this single is the B-side. At least the US single (elsewhere it will be backed with one song from Phonogenic, "Running after Love"). A re-worked version of her biggest hit "Brand New Key". First you must know that in 1972, she initially wanted to record the song as a sort of Louisiana cajun one and was greatly disappointed to realize that Peter Schekeryk had done of it a much poppy song. So, here, it's not a version to fit in the 1978-mood (or sound, not a good period for sound actually) but the version she had initially in head. And it's true that it's totally different. Much better in a way, but the song has became such a classic, that it's difficult not to love the version that was a hit. It's interesting to post this lost treasure when Melanie re-worked it recently with her son in the (I fear utopist) hope that when this song will be used for ads (recently for HP) or in movies, she will win at least some money from it, since she has apparently no right on the hit version. So here I add another brand new piece to this puzzle. Sorry for the sound quality. It's a rip from my vinyl and the one I found is rather noisy and scratchy. I did my best to improve things but couldn't do miracles. Totally unbelievable not any of the hundreds of Melanie compilations included any one of these songs. The web allows to share them with Melanie's amateurs. Enjoy it here. There was no picture sleeve for this US single so I did one.


Melanie - Bo Bo's Party 7" (1969)

You know, it's not often I'm proud to be French (the last time it was in 1789, but I was not born), but with this single, the first Melanie released on the Buddah label (a division of MGM) after parting company with Columbia, it's the case. Why? Because issued as a B-side in the US (with "I'm Back In Town" on A-side), "Bo Bo's Party" was issued on the A-side in France and it became a hit, the first for Melanie, so that her first real international concert was at the Paris' Olympia. OK, it was a disaster cos'  she was planned before a French singer (Gilbert Becaud) and honestly the audience of this stomping pianist was not at all adapted to Melanie's intimate songs played alone of acoustic guitar (they even tried to make her play with the band but she refused). But the fact is we were the first (actually I was too young to be in it) to make of Melanie a front artist. And it was justice since "Bo Bo's Party" is a great song, one of Melanie's Top 20 for me. And the lyrics are far from the supposed "little folky hippie girl" everyone think she was. Strangely, the other side was not "I'm Back In Town", a song that has a true Thirties French Café Concert flavour, but Dylan's "Mr Tambourine Man" cover, putting her a little bit more in the folk category. I never liked this song but if there's a version I like of it, it's this one. Delicate and modest, I can even appreciate the song. So, for my birthday (yes today I make a giant step toward the grave in changing my age year) I offer me this post, the only party I'll do tonight. Hope you'll find it a delicious birthday earcake too. Enjoy it here.


Melanie - Garden In The City / Why Didn't My Mother Tell Me 7" (1968)

Here is the second attempt of Columbia to make Melanie one of the stars of the 1968 folk sky. A failed attempt but it's true that the songs do not help to give a great musical credit to the young Melanie. Orchestrations are rather high-sweetened and melodies more nursery than adult-center influenced. Only the B-side (even it again it's a 2 A-side single) gives a different light on her writing with lyrics in which adolescent fears and even anguish are palpable. As a gift (once again through my generous donator called Albgardis, she must be thanked again) I added a much longer version (and apparently earlier than the Columbia single one) of "Why Didn't My Mother Tell Me". Sound quality is not perfect but the version much better and the emotion much stronger. If only they put this one on the single, sure people would have perceived Melanie differently. But her time would come. Meanwhile enjoy this rather rare tryptic here. Sorry for the cover sleeve, I don't have the single so I did the same than for the previous one in order to have a larger image. Below a picture of Melanie in 1968.


Xasthur - Portal of Sorrow LP (2010)

A repost. Because this is surely one of the albums I've listened to the most often over the last 2 years. And that I've listened to it last week and thought that, with time passing by, I'm quite sure I consider this is one of the best LP of this first decade (and a bit more) of XXIst century (at least, it's in my Top 10). So, since Scott Conner said there would be no more Xasthur LP, and since bands are often quick forgotten when they stop their activity, I thought it was necessary to repost it. The vocal presence of Marissa Nadler all along the LP contributes to its success. Although many Xasthur's lovers considered that Conner had lost the touch with the 2 previous albums, I on the opposite consider he was reaching a peak and that it's a shame he quitted. So, if you never tried, believe me and get it here. It's truly a music that explores the deepest of despair but makes it so beautiful we even don't regret to feel it. Below what I wrote in the initial post.

Xasthur, the one-man band of Scott Conner (so-called Malefic) has been buried by his creator and this album is its testimony. As I said for Daughters LP here, this Portal of Sorrow will be for me one of the few albums that will mark this year and without any hesitation, will stand the test of time. Much better produced than the previous one (you can dl here), easier to listen (just a bit), it is the more faraminous relevant soundtrack of our deleterious times. Nothing is less than exceptionally good here. You enter in such an album as you slip in a bath of muddy water. With a sensual disgust from which you get out with regret. It seems this album sold quite well (1500 were pressed all's gone) and Scott Conner is not sure to do a new press of it (see it here). It would be a shame. He says he will go somewhere totally different musically. But this guy is so good I'm sure we will find to enjoy in his next project. Meanwhile enjoy this last but not least gem here.

Below some tracks. Some of my favorites but there's not a weak moment on this album.


Melanie - My Beautiful People / God's Only Daughter 7" (1967)

Back to the basics: Melanie. And the basics of the basics: her first single under her name (the previous one was under the collective name of Mommy). Don't imagine you got this song on so much compilations you wonder why I waste time posting it. You don't. All versions of this song were the one recorded more than one year later and released as A-side of a single (Buddah 135) in September 1969. Much heavier orchestration than in this one. So here it is at last. On the other side (actually this single was without A and B-sides but had 2 A-sides with different covers), I included no less than 3 versions of "God's Only Daughter". Two are studio versions, different for sure, but I'm in the incapacity to know which one was on this single (that I don't own and didn't find any trace on the net). They are not very different, and I can't make my mind to whether was on the single. The most intriguing is that each seems to provide from the Please Love Me compilation LP released in 1973 and I do not know why there would be 2 different versions of this song in the same LP. Even the great Rober Ian Smith site here doesn't tell anything about these two versions. Or maybe it's the speed of the recording which gives this impression but I don't believe. So they are both in the file. The 3rd version is a live version by Melanie recorded at Greenwich Village in 1968. Enjoy this first Melanie shot (not yesterday I must admit) here. This post wouldn't have been possible without the help of Albgardis. She is deeply thanked.


Robyn Hitchcock - The Man Who Invented Himself / Dancing On God's Thumb 7" (1981)

Here we go again. And for this post-hollyshitday (I've been close to finish my life in strange conditions but I've survived so don't talk about it) I come back with a single I wanted to post for a long time now and that I am able to post today only cos' I received the CD source to put the B-side on. Actually, this is the first solo single from Robyn Hitchcock, released in April 1981, some months after he disbanded the Soft Boys, although members of this band all play on this single and his first solo LP (Black Snake Diamond Role that I expect to post one day the complete version of 20 songs). There's one mystery about "The Man Who Invented Himself". And the mystery is the following one: on the original vinyl single and LP, there was some horns on the song, but strangely, this horny version was replaced on all CD versions (3 reissued of Black Snake Diamond Role and several compilations) where this was a non-horns version that featured. What is the Fuck? Some say the master was lost but who cares? We want the real version of the original records, we are not kids anymore, we want the real thing. And since this version was released on the Chronolology compilation last year it's dubious that this damned master was lost. So now it's possible to post this single without doing an uncertain ripp of the vinyl single (that I bought the day it was issued). And the horns versions is much better than the one you can find everywhere. And it's strange that the B-side was not on the album since there were weaker songs on it. Enjoy it here and more joy to come.


Forgotten Songs take some holiday

Forgotten Songs won't have new posts over the next 15 days (except if I'm in situation to add one but I don't think I will). I take some time off this "dirty old town, I have to leave the city cos it really brought me down" (lyrics of the Ray Davies "Holiday" song you can hear and watch below). I think I'll be back except if a great big bear eats me (poor creature, not the best sustenance for such a wonderful animal) cos' I'm going in the Pyrénées (yes dear US visitors, the one mountain cyclists climb so quickly that it's not a surprise they are caught stuffed with more chemistry than Keith Richards' blood has ever seen in his whole life). But you don't care and you're right. I fucking don't exist for you, I'm only the blogging postman and it's perfect this way cos' I'm not really much more it's true.


Holiday, Oh what a lovely day today, I'm oh so glad they sent me away, To have a little holiday today, holiday. Holiday, And I'm just standing on the end of a pier, Hoping and dreaming you were here, To share my little holiday. Lookin' in the sky for a gap in the clouds, Sometimes I think that sun ain't never coming out, But I'd rather be here than in that dirty old town, I had to leave the city cos it really brought me down. Oh holiday, oh what a lovely day today, I think I'll get down on my little ol' knees and pray, thank you Lord, Thank heaven for this holiday today, holiday. I'm leaving insecurity behind me, The environmental pressures got me down, I don't need no sedatives to pull me round, I don't need no sleeping pills to help me sleep sound. Oh holiday, Oh what a lovely day today, I think I'll get down on my little ol' knees and pray, That's what I'll do, Thank heaven for this holiday. Lying on the beach with my back burned rare, The salt gets in my blisters and the sand gets in my hair, And the sea's an open sewer, But I really couldn't care, I'm breathing through my mouth so I don't have to sniff the air. Oh holiday, Oh what a lovely day today, I'm so glad they sent me away, To have a little holiday.


Family - Scene Through The Eye Of A Lens / Gypsy Woman (1967)

I update this post to inform vistors who left me messages that I reupload the Family singles that I did it tonight so they can have again the complete A and B-sides of the band's singles. And this one is surely the rarest of all.

Today, the first post of a series about the Family singles discography. After Kim Fowley found their name and recorded some demos for them (unfortunately unissued to this day), Family took their future in their hands and recorded for Liberty this single released in September 1967. Clearly in the psychedelic post-"Strawberry Fields Forever" style, rather under the influence of Traffic (the band had released their 2 first singles), the A-side shows that the band is far from being a naive and mellow one as too many were in this movement, and the inner violence can be felt under the psychedelic arabesques (really dated when listening to them now). The B-side is also Traffic-influenced, but more by the soul side of Steve Winwood. A rather difficult to find couple of songs, only released on the 1999 See For Miles collector limited edition of Music In The Dolls House/Entertainment re-issue. So 2 forgotten songs for sure. Enjoy them here. Since the single had not cover sleeve, I did one based upon the lyrics, at least considering what I can understand to them. Below is a picture of the band who recorded this single. Note it's Harry Overnall on drums (only time he would be on a Family recording). Note also that it's a much better quality version of "Scene...." than the ones you can find on the web (don't thank me, I'm only doing my (unpaid) job.


Robyn Hitchcock & Heavy Friends - Play Abbey Road (Live) (2009)

After Sgt Peppers, Robyn Hitchcock played Abbey Road (the album) once again for MSF (doctors without frontiers) in the Three Kings Pub on the 1st November 2009 (there was a set the previous night). With him you funnd Graham Coxon (yes the ex-Blur man) on guitar and Mark Bedford (yes the Madness man) on bass. The rehearsals had surely not been very long cos' the playing (and most embarrassingly the singing) is sometimes rough and approximate but after all the pleasure is to hear Robyn Hitchcock pay hommage to this page of musical English history (and mine too since this I listened to this LP more than any other else in my life). And the bonus tracks sung after Abbey Road are finally the best, notably "Old Brown Shoe" (and not "show" as wrongly written on the cover sleeve). The sound capture is not professional of course but of good enough quality to be heard with pleasure (pleasure is the word tonight). Thanks to http://halsprogressiverockblog.blogspot.fr to have posted it 2 years ago. I did a cover sleeve for it cos' of course this has never been on any solid form ever. Enjoy it here or there.


Robyn Hitchcock - The Goodnight Oslo fake 7" (2011)

Since "Goodnight Oslo" is one of the best song of the first decade of this century and one of the true masterpiece of Robyn Hitchcock (who composed some others but this one is certainly not the least and I hope not the last), since this song is somewhat a contempory version of "Underwater Moonlight", since it did not get the success it would have deserved, since he released a version sung in Norwegian in his last album (and musically different), since I can't stop to listen to this song on and on for the last 2 days don't ask me why I don't know it myself, and since, at last, Norway is celebrating the awful massacre of the Utoya island, I thought it was a good idea to create this fake 7" so that this song had the spot on it once again. The text is rather obscure but who cares, the song is breathtaking and haunting as few others. Enjoy it here and buy the 2010 album of the same name (one of his best) and also Tromsø, Kaptein released last year. PS. The accoustic Norwegian version in the video below is not the one on this fake 7" and on the album.


Kimberley Rew - My Baby Does Her Hairdo Long / Fishing 7" (1981)

For his second single, Kimberley Rew, now out of the Soft Boys, gathered a dream team for all those (I was) who were in the current pop trip: 3 quarters of the db's and Mitch Easter (Mr Let's Active). Strangely the songs are not so sparkling that we could have hoped but it's a fine couple and they are now rather cult, embodying all that was so naive, innocent and celestial in this first years of the eighties (things would soon turn sour). Strangely, he won't try a solo career but would form The Waves (soon to be Katrina & the Waves) with his old drummer mate Alex Cooper, but that's another story. Now, enjoy this second offer here.


Kimberley Rew - Stomping All Over The World / Nothing's Going To Change In Your Life / Fighting Someone's War 7" (1980)

I'm beginning a Robyn Hitchcock period but strangely, my first post is for another Soft Boy, Kimberley Rew, the second guitarist, and for his first solo single, recorded and released during his Soft Boys days, in which he seems the perfect English version of the great Mitch Easter (Let's Active). On this single, we find this candy and jumping pop song I was so fond of at the times and that I can still appreciate, particularily when I'm down, a sort of antidote to my despair. But this single worths mainly for the fantastic "Fighting Someone's War" on the B-side. Another affair, much darker and rather emotional. Produced by Pat Collier and recorded at Alaska, it has everything Soft Boys lovers appreciate in this era of their heroes. Enjoy this 3-song gem here.