7/22/17

Buzzcocks - Sick City Sometimes (2003)




















Six months after the first track driven from their eponymous album ("Jerk", previous post), the band released another EP with what I consider as one of their best song ever, "Sick City Sometimes", composed and sung by Steve Diggle and that would have been a massive hit if it had been released by one of the adulated band of the times (don't remember who were). But it was not. Too bad. On the B-side, there's a non-album track but unfortunately, it's not from the session of the current album but from 1995 (maybe the All Set sessions). And the song (from Shelley) is rather weak and dispendable. The last song is the unavoidable live track, this time recorded in 1999 (don't ask me why) but I've no more info about it (maybe I should have a look to the biography but I'm too lazy tonight). Since the song is "Paradise", it's interesting. But stop the babble now and catch this EP here.


7/21/17

Buzzcocks - Jerk EP (2003)

Strangely, there will be an almost 10 year gap between the Libertine Angel and the Jerk EP although 2 full album would be released (the great All Set in 1996 and the more deceiving Modern in 1999). Some singles and EPs were actually released, but only live tracks, promo singles or uneven semi-official ones. But with the abrasive self-titled album released in 2003, the band would issue again EPs with non-album tracks (demos or live songs). The first was "Jerk", the opening song from the LP. The line-up was the same than 10 years before but the energy and aggressivity were more the ones of the 1980-81 era than the ones they had shown after their reformation. The song had everything necessary to find its way in the charts (a flavour of "Everybody's Happy", even with the drumming bridge) but times were surely not ready to make this sort of fast and furious love song a hit. What's interesting is that the EP allows us to hear a non-album song, Diggle's "Don't Come Back", not a great one but as often with the man, the song is pleasant to hear and provides this energy spark that is sometimes cruelly missing elsewhere. The choice of the live song is rather strange, "Oh Shit" being an old punk tune that wouldn't help the band to put its past away. Recorded (badly) at Toulouse in 2000 and final song of the concert, I would like to know what was the reason of this choice but I surely will never have the answer. So here's this new Buzzcocks load. Another one tomorrow.


7/6/17

Buzzcocks - Libertine Angel EP (1994)





















In their series of postreformation EPs this one, released in April 1994, is quite special since it is not linked to any album, maybe because the band believed in the chart potential of "Libertine Angel". I'm not sure they were right and facts showed that they were wrong. Not that the song is weak but it was a little too much complicated to gain attention of a large audience. They even shot a video for it (see below, sorry for 24 seconds of countdown, those who uploaded the clip could have cut it) like they had done for "Do It", don't forget it was the MTV era (not for long actually) and every band had to make a visual support for their singles (although most of them were poor and not pleasant to look at now). On the B-side of the EP, there were 2 new songs, the raw, rough and rude Diggle's "Roll It Over" and a curious instrumental based on a sort of movie soundtrack (real or fake I don't know). Sound like a musical support for a scene of action in a blockbuster. Interesting although not essential. Catch all this here.

7/3/17

Buzzcocks - Do It EP (1993)




















In August 1993, 4 months after the Trade Test Transmissions LP was released (but failed to chart), another single was issued with "Do It" as A-side. Note that the version is not the album one, and has been remixed in a way that we honestly can say today that it was very bad (this phasing on the voice is horripilous). Surely it fitted better with the current sound (we're in the post Madchester year) but not at all with Buzzcocks. Fortunately, the song is backed on the EP version with 2 non-album tracks, strangely recorded live (and never issued, to my knowledge) in a studio version. Tony Barber says, in the inner sheets of the Trade Test Transmissions 2004 re-issue, that they were recorded during a sound check at the Amsterdam Paradiso, but it's dubious since their 1993 concert at the Paradiso was in October 1993, 3 months after the EP was released. Thus, the mystery is complete. If this EP is precious, it's for the Steve Diggle song, "Trash Away", showing the roughest side of the band, not far from Clash or Stiff Little Fingers, with a vicious and oblique riff, a sinister vocal tone and violently depressive and angry lyrics. Since it was not on Youtube, I decided to create a clip with famous Lewis Hines' pictures of children at work in the first half of XXth century in the US. The sound is not perfect but it gives the song a sort of enhanced authenticity. A real forgotten gem. Listening to Buzzcocks these late weeks convinces me that Steve Diggle is not far to be Shelley's pair in quality of composition. So do... oops catch it here. Above and just below are the sleeves of the vinyl EP and below of the CD EP.





7/2/17

Buzzcocks - Innocent EP (1993)



















Sorry for the delay but I was getting married so I think it's an excuse you will accept. So back to the post-reformation Buzzcocks EP series. Tonight, it's the second one, more successful than the first, issued 2 years later, and much better too. The EP featured 2 Pete Shelley tracks of their to-be-released first post-reformation LP (the excellent Trade Test Transmission) and a non-album Steve Diggle one ("Inside") which is the main interest of this post if you have the LP in its original version (since Castel re-released it with the non-album single tracks on it in 2004). Released in May 1993, one month prior to the LP was issued, the single would have deserved to chart high but failed to (as almost all the singles and EPs the band would release after they reunited). But here is a good opportunity to put these 3 great forgotten songs under the blogspot light. Catch it here. More to come (very soon this time).


6/20/17

Buzzcocks - Alive Tonight EP (1991)




















This is the first post of a series about all the singles or EPs Buzzcocks have released after they reformed in 1989. Don't imagine their comeback was a path paved with roses. Actually there were more thorns than petals. In 1989, everybody was expecting a major failure but their live sets seemed to deny this black prediction. However time was passing and no new material was recorded, leading most to the idea the band would become one of these pathetic bands that capitalize on their past and do not bring anything new, sort of nostalgia formation (after all they had a song entitled "Nostalgia"). In November 1990 and February 1991, they recorded demos for a putative album that would  never be, with a certain Paul Roberts producing. But the band was unhappy with the production and listening to this EP (issued in April 1991), the first thing they released after reformation and featuring 4 songs from these sessions, we can only agree with them. Sure the influence of the madchester scene deeply influenced the band that is hardly the one that everybody remembered. Everything here is flabby and energy lacking. Note that on drums there was Mike Joyce, ex-Smiths and no more John Maher, Steve Garvy being still on bass. The drumming is actually much more Smithian than Buzzcocksian. The songs "Alive Tonight" and "Last To Know" would be re-recorded later in a much more satisfying version and included in the Trade Test Transmission LP 2 years later. This first EP would go completely unnoticed and it's a good thing since it's not impossible that the band would have chosen to stick to this "modern" (and now dated) sound if it has found its public. Catch it here.





6/18/17

Sparks - Live at the Bottom Line, New York City (1976)





















It is said that this concert has been released on a bootleg but I was unable to localize it. So I compiled the 5 songs I found. Three are from a Sparks live semi-official LP called Live 1976-82 and were remastered, the reason the sound is quite good (tracks 3-5) and the first 2 (I took the setlist order) were caught from a Youtube source but I improved a bit the sound quality with MP3doc. All in all, it's an half-an-hour affair that is rather interesting if not essential due to the way the band was evoluting, let's say in a mainstream US rock band (although I know many that prefer this version of the band to the previous and next, but it's not my case). Recorded one month after the Capitol theatre show (see post here), it was played in front of Capitol executives, not the best conditions for a band to give everything he has. Note that on bass it is Sal Maida and not Dave Swanson as initially written, so I erased the name with a dotted line. Not very professionnal but free. If I find sources of the other tracks, I will reconstruct this live testimony (I think the image I used for the front cover sleeve is from one of the 2 Bottom Line shows but I'n not sure). Actually, Ron was not playing organ but a grand piano. Catch it here.


6/11/17

Buzzcocks - The Love Bites Tour Live at the Apollo, Manchester (1978)





















Another live Buzzcocks album (one year before the one featuring on the previous post, sorry for this stupid order due to technical reasons), with a great sound since it was recorded by United Artists and mixed by Martin Rushent, maybe for a purportedly live album (actually I've no information about it). Note that the band was not tamed like they were supposed to be compared to their more violent punk pairs since after "I Don't Mind", Pete Shelley encourages the audience to get up on the chairs saying they break very easily. This concert, recorded on the 27 October 1978 at the Apollo theatre of Manchester (their home town) stood one month after the release of their Love Bites LP and some days after their "Ever Fallen In Love" which would be their major hit but, strangely, this career peak was not a good period for Pete Shelley who showed more and more signs of extreme physical exhaustion and mental tiredness. Strangely, although we were closer to the punk era than one year later, the playing is less savage and intense, and sometimes even a little bit apathetic (on "Autonomy" for example) and approximative on some songs (like on "Moving Away The Pulsebeat"). The pace is often slower that the one the band will adopt on their later shows. But it's true the band would become harder and rougher with years finishing as a dark and rugous band in 1981. But all Buzzcocks fans found in this concert the live testimony they dreamt of since it was played with the juvenile energy of the beginnings but with a lot of the repertoire with that the band is assimilated. This concert was released in 2002, either in Italy under the name of Beating Hearts or in UK under the name of Noise Annoys (same tracks, same order, same quality). This is the cover sleeve of Bleeding Hearts I chose for the illustration. Sorry for the definition, but I do not possess the CD or LP version, only the MP3. No sound illustration found on Youtube but no problem, those who are curious will catch it here.





6/9/17

Buzzcocks - The Tension Tour Live at the Rainbow (1979)




















Initiated just after the release of the bleak but stunning and innovative A Different Kind Of Tension, the Tension tour is remembered to be chaotic and uneven but the first concert at the Rainbow on the 9th November 1979, done between their two consecutive US tours (a complete nonsense that could only drown them a little deeper in the dope trap) and caught by Joan McNulty (see previous post), to be "superb" (the word is from Tony McGartland, the biographer of the band and author of "The Complete History" that is re-released with a freshly completed edition this month). It's true the set is hyper-energetic and that most songs are played in their punkiest versions. Sometimes the band is a little bit out of the road, taking speed for precipitation, and that Pete Shelly forgets some lyrics (on "I Believe") but all in all, it could have been a great Live 4th LP like it was the tradition in the sixties and the seventies, but no more with punk. I won't talk about each song but it's great to hear the ADKOT songs played by the band that had just created them. However, far from being "the new album played live", the new songs only represent 5 from the 17 and this tended to show that the band was not so confident in the potential of these new songs. On a more discographic plan, note that this concert was released in 2 main versions. The first in 2001 under the title of Small Songs With Big Hearts in 2001 and the second under the title of Live Tension in 2002, but the latter with a song missing ("I Don't Know What To Do With My Life") so beware. I included both cover sleeves in the file. Catch it here. You can listen to the concert on the Youtube link below.




























5/27/17

Buzzcocks - Lest We Forget Live in America (1979-80)



















Another live compilation from Buzzcocks. Captured by Joan McNulty, the publisher of their official fan magazine Harmony in My Head (and supposed then-girlfriend of Pete Shelley) on cassette during their 1979 and 1980 US tours, the track selection was chosen by her and released 8 years later only on cassette again, on the ROIR label. If the setlist is wonderful (with many tracks from A Different Kind Of Tension, their then last album), if the sound is correct, the track order is totally senseless, mixing years (1979 and 1980) and concerts (mainly New Jersey, Chicago and New York). There is even a song recorded in Birmingham (the UK one) which is absurd. The worst is that, although she was a fan, she didn't respect the usual setlist order that the band is notorious for (with "Fast Cars" at the beginning and "Breakdown" and "Time's Up" at the end. Weird. However, I decided not to change this order and to post the album as it was on the cassette. The sound is not the one you can expect from an official live but it allows to savour this collection with pleasure since some songs are really played with an incredible energy and concision. The band was never better than during this period even with so many depressions and drugs circulating in Pete Shelley body. More to come. Catch it here. PS. I improved a little bit the cover sleeve of the CD version of this cassette.


5/24/17

Sparks - Big Beat Live at Capitol Theatre (1976)





















1975 will see the second Sparks mutation (after the "Island English period"), maybe one of their most deleterious and unexplainable one (but there'll be unfortunately some more in the future). Weird, in 1976 (an awfully bad year for rock music, it was urgent that punk washed that away), to adopt a half-hard rock format for such a band. Surely at the general climax has led Ron Mael to take this path (looking back at the Billboard US top 100, I don't really see such a trend in the charts but maybe I miss the point) but it was truly a cul-de-sac and a false step for the band that wasted in one year all its newly acquired credibility. I must confess that I didn't follow them at the times, and considered they were lost for the cause. It would take quite a time before I get back to them (first with Whomp That Sucker in 1981 and their synth-pop 1981-84 period but much more enthusiastically with Lil' Beethoven in 2002). So, here we are at the now mythic Capitol Theatre of Passaic in the New Jersey, with the Mael bros and a brand new band who... how to say that without being too rude... does not really match the sparkling glam playing of the previous line-up. Weird as the US backing bands of US artists that had made it in England during the 73-75 period were weak compared to their English pairs (think of John Cale for example but also Ian Hunter). Anyway, it's an interesting testimony. It was filmed and you got the video below. For this post, I tried to improve the sound quality and think I succeeded, at least substantially, so this post is a more interesting that it is supposed to be, this concert being easily available, even on a live compilation album (Sparks Live 1976-82) but with a less satisfying sound. I also created a cover sleeve with an unused picture of the Richard Avedon session, that provided the official cover sleeve of Big Beat. Catch it here. More Sparks live to come.


5/19/17

Sparks - B. Sides and a A fake LP (1974-76)

I've always wished that the non-album songs that featured on the B. sides of Sparks singles during their Island years would be gathered on a mini-Lp to be listened to independantly of the associated album. So I did it myself. I'm aware that there are some differences between these songs (not leftovers of second quality but fantastic tuned and arranged tracks). For example, the strong and thick Muff Winwood production of the four formers is rather different from the more sophisticated but weaker Tony Visconti production of "Profile" and still more from the ugly production of the Holmes and Lesser on the two last songs, the latter belonging more to the next period (the Columbia one, although in the UK they were still on Island) than to the great Island one. No matter, I think it's good to have these underrated forgotten songs all together gathered. So catch them here. More Sparks to come.





5/15/17

Subway Sect - Ambition / Different Story 7" (1978)



Weird I'd never re-up this one since the first post in 2009 (almost 8 years, it's crazy). It's one of the best single of the punk era and have never been altered by time. So here it is again. Thanks to Paul for requesting it. I should post more Vic Godard in the near future. 

In 1978, Vic Godard was considered by many, and in particular the musical press, as one of the punks who would become a star, or at least, would do a long and fruitfull career. We were all wrong and it is a great waste. I don't really know what happened in Vic's brain in 1979 and 1980, but he decided to dramatically changed his mind about his musical direction, and if his first album was quite an achievement (but not as much as a Subway Sect album building a sound on this single would have been), his later lounge style did please me at the time but retrospectively, seems a commercial suicide. But maybe it could have worked, I don't know. When it was released, I remember thinking he was trying to become commercial and not that he was trying to kill himself artistically. However, he failed. But back in 1978. With "Ambition", he signed one of the greatest songs of the punk wave. Somewhere between Buzzcocks and the Only Ones, with echoes of Television and Marc Bolan, it is all punk needed to become. Using strange little organ sounds and not the usual punk drumming, avoiding any "new wave" tendency such as XTC or Wire were driving what was first a brutal and simplistic music, Vic Godard and his Subway Sect was really doing something important for the future of the movement. Spectacularily, this song did not lose any of its emotional potential and has travelled through the years quite well. If you are one of those thinking that punk was a bad flash in a loosy pan, give it a try. "Different Story", the B-side (with the text on the cover) is also excellent.


Here's the lyrics of "Ambition"

You can take it or leave it as far as we're concerned. Because we're not concerned with you. What you want is buried in the present tense. Blind alleyways allay the jewels". I am a dried-up seed can't be restored. I hope no-one notices the sleep on me. I've been walking along down this shallow slope. Looking for nothing particularly. Am I guided or is this life for free. Because nothing ever seems to happen to me. And I won't be tempted by vile evils. Because vile evils are vile evils...



5/10/17

Buzzcocks - Live in Hamburg (1981)

Back to my Buzzcocks fixation with this incredibly great concert recorded in Hamburg on the 23rd January 1981, i.e. only few weeks before the band gave up (at least Pete Shelley was the main responsible for that but United Artists was no more supporting so they hadn't enough money to go on). Great because the band has here more energy and skill that he has ever had, even in its punk days. They play fast (all the versions are played faster than in studio and even than in previous live versions) and furious (aggressivity is at its summum). They are no more the poppy side of punk and didn't take the new wave path as so many of their pairs (unfortunately Pete Shelley would take it some months later). They are dark, rough and powerfully melancholic. And above all, the audience is great, very responsive and enthusiastic. Not the kind of ones they met in the US or in the UK anymore. But Germany was always a land of welcome for musicians and bands after their peak of success and is more faithful than most of their original countries (Nikki Sudden and Kevin Coyne among others found refugees there). But back to Buzzcocks. The setlist mainly consists of their main hits but they play 4 songs of their splendid three part-singles (Diggle's "Why She's A Girl From The Chainstore" and "Airwaves Dream" and Shelley's "Strange Thing" and "What Do You Know?") released during the previous autumn (and recently up on FS). Surely their failure precluded them to perform all of them during concerts (I would have loved to hear "Are Everything" and the genius "Running Free" too). And there is a live (and stunning) version of "I Believe" which is not so frequent. This concert was filmed and provided a live DVD (see the Youtube capture below) that I used to make the cover sleeve, but it's great to be able to listen to it without the image too. Surely one of the best live testimony of the band and one of the greatest live capture ever. The sound quality is quite correct. I didn't separate the songs since this kind of thing must be listened in its continuity. Catch this gem here.



5/9/17

Paul McCartney - My Love / The Mess 7" (1973)


Recently asked for a re-up of this single, I do it, 7 years after the initial post. A great single, either for side 1, one of his hits that made him reconsidered again by those who despised him since the Beatles separation, than for side 2, showing the raw and rough side of Macca, too rare for me but it's good when he does it. Note that this song did not benefit of any official studio release but only a live one (such as "Soily" a little bit later). Strange these rocker songs failed to satisfy Macca for inclusion on his studio albums. He should have done, this would have strengthened a little bit his records. Catch it here. Below, the official clip for "My Love" and another great version of "The Mess" played on a TV show in 1973.

Paul McCartney often used the B-sides of his singles (or Wings singles but is it different?) to try things and it resulted in the best (see here) or the worst (quite often unfortunately). Here is one example of the former with "The Mess", a song recorded live that shows that PMC can put intensity and loudness in his rock (remember "I'm Down" or "Helter Skelter"). The A-side was a hit worldwide and is a nice love song but I'm not anymore sensible to it whereas others Macca love songs still move me a lot. Can't explain why.









5/7/17

Sparks - Live at Record Plant (1974)




















This is a recording made by the band  in September 1974, during their US tour, between the release of their widely acclaimed and successful Kimono My House album (issued in May 1974, #4 in UK but only #101 in the US)) and its follow-up Propaganda in November 1974 (only 5 months later, a tour-de-force) which would be a little bit less successful in UK but fared better in the US. This is the reason why there are 2 songs form their next-to-come LP in the set ("Something For The Girl With Everything" and "B.C."). Otherwise, you find the 2 hits "Amateur Hour" and "This Town...", the latter in an extended version (not far from 6 min). The 4 other songs are from Kimono My House. This intimate concert (only some claps at the end of each song) would be broadcasted on KMET-FM's some days later. The sound quality is very good and this live-in-studio can be listened to as if it was an official release (which is not). What's interesting is to realize that the music that Sparks played on Kimono My House was not due to some highly sophisticated studio manipulations, but that the band was able to play it live as it was, showing the natural dimension of this surprising and singular music, that aged so well. Since the Mael's brothers are on the way to publish their 23rd album next September, it's a good opportunity to jump in their old material, and primary in some less-known testimonies such as the previous posts and this one. Catch it here. Note that I used the cover sleeve of one CD LP of this recording.