Monday, November 28, 2011

12 Inches of Love: INXS Edition (Part 2)

More than two years ago, I posted a couple of my favorite extended versions of INXS songs with the promise that it wouldn't be the last time the band visited the blog. Other than a mention of the excellent 'Rocking the Royals' release this past spring, I more or less lied... until today. Here are a few 'Kick'-era extended mixes. As I have mentioned before, I love INXS, but 'Kick,' for me, is their last great LP. The Mendolsohn mix can be found on the second disc of the out-of-print deluxe edition of the album, and the Ben Liebrand version shows up on the UK 12" single of "Mystify," the fifth and final single from the album. The mix of "Devil Inside" appears on a few versions of the "Mystify" single, including the same UK 12" I just mentioned, as well as the UK and German CD singles. I have enough INXS remixes for a part three. So, look for that at some point. Let's take a trip to 1987, shall we?

INXS - Devil Inside (Extended Mix) (mp3)
INXS - Need You Tonight (Ben Liebrand Mix) (mp3)
INXS - Need You Tonight (Mendelsohn Extended Mix) (mp3)

Cover Me Impressed: 'Half a Boy, Half a Man'

Back in 2001, the folks at Telarc paid homage to Nick Lowe with the cleverly named tribute album 'Labour of Love.' I bought this record because, one, I love Lowe and, two, some of my favorite artists, including Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw, chose inspired and obscure songs I was really curious to hear. The best of the lot, however, came from an unlikely source. An old rockabilly singer named Sleepy LaBeef (pictured) was joined by C.J. Chenier, an accordion player and son of the "King of Zydeco" Clifton Chenier, for a raucous zydeco rendition of "Half a Boy and Half a Man." This is one of Lowe's top tunes and can be found on the 1984 album 'Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit.' Sadly, this one is out of print. Hopefully, Lowe's latest label, Yep Roc, will rectify the situation.

Nick Lowe - Half a Boy and Half a Man (mp3)
Sleepy LaBeef and C.J. Chenier - Half a Boy and Half a Man (mp3)

More Cover Me Impressed:
"Money Changes Everything"/"The Right Stuff"
"I Put a Spell on You"
"Johnny, Are You Queer?"
"Almost Saturday Night"
"Too Many Teardrops"
"Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"
"They Don't Know"
"Everybody's Talkin'"
"What Goes On"
"There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
Halloween Edition
"Porpoise Song"
"Prairie Rose"
"Come On Eileen"
"Walking On Thin Ice"
Jason Falkner Edition
"True Love Will Find You In The End"
"This Will Be Our Year"
"You're My Favorite Waste of Time"
"The End Of The World"
"(Don't Go Back To)Rockville"
"God Only Knows"
"And Your Bird Can Sing"
"So Sad About Us"
"Walking The Cow"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Free Music From the Folks at Merge

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Merge Records kicks ass. Download their free Winter Music Sampler now! This time around, get new songs from She & Him, Lambchop, the Rosebuds and more. Here is the tracklist. These songs have been slowly trickling onto the Web, but here is your chance to get them all at once. All hail, Merge!

1. Hospitality: "Betty Wang"
2. Richard Buckner" "Traitor"
3. Lambchop – "Gone Tomorrow"
4. Crooked Fingers: "Bad Blood"
5. Superchunk: "Driveway to Driveway”
6. The Mountain Goats: "Estate Sale Sign"
7. Eleanor Friedberger: "My Mistakes"
8. Imperial Teen: "Runaway"
9. Archers of Loaf: "Harnessed In Slums"
10. Wild Flag: "Romance"
11. Stephin Merritt: "Rot in the Sun"
12. The Rosebuds: "Go Ahead"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Air Announces New Album

We have to wait until Feb. 7, but new Air is on the way. 'La Voyage Dans La Lune' (or 'A Trip To The Moon') is the first new album from the French duo since 'Love 2' in 2009. That LP didn't exactly blow me away. So, I'm hoping for a little rebound. As usual, there will be female guest vocals. Au Revoir Simone and Victoria Legrand from Beach House will make appearances.

Dec. 6 Update: NME is streaming the song done with Legrand.

Nicolas Godin, one half of Air, is using terms like "organic," "handmade" and "knocked together" to describe the new work. Sounds like we may be in for something different. With the exception of "Playground Love," my favorite Air songs have come from the mellow 'Talkie Walkie' and 'Pocket Symphony' albums, and the standouts, for me, are the ones with female leads. Here are a couple of examples, as well as the tracklist for the upcoming release. I can't wait for this one.

'Le Voyage Dans La Lune' Tracklist
1. Astronomic Club
2. Seven Stars (Victoria Legrand vocals)
3. Retour Sur Terre
4. Parade
5. Moon Fever
6. Sonic Armada
7. Who Am I Know? (Au Revoir Simone guest)
8. Décollage
9. Cosmic Trip
10. Homme Lune
11. Lava

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rememeber Record Store on Black Friday

Next Friday, obviously, is the biggest brick-and-mortar retail sales day of the year, and the folks at Record Store Day have decided to try and get you on the door with a Black Friday promotion of their own. Although not on par with the blowout Record Store Day holiday that occurs every spring, independent record store across the land will have many great exclusives available -- from Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Wilco and the Rolling Stones, to name a few -- but I thought I would share my top three must-have purchases I plan to pick up between leftover turkey sandwiches.

1. Nick Lowe & His Band
"Go 'Way Hound Dog" b/w "(I've Changed My) Wild Mind"
Side one of the 7" and 10" single is a live take taken from his appearance at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. Yep Roc gives us a brief sample of both songs below.

2. Brendan Benson
'Upstairs at United, Vol. 1'
The vinyl-only 12" EP (at 45RPM) has four covers recorded live on August 16th, 2011, direct to quarter-inch tape upstairs in the historic United Record Pressing party room. It comes in a custom jacket, stickered and enclosed in polybag. Here are the tracks:
Side A
1. Candidate (David Bowie)
2. Strangers (Kinks)
Side B
1. Beyond Belief (Elvis Costello)
2. Love Story (Randy Newman)

3. Crowded House
'Intriguer Live: Start To Finish'
This is a two- CD/one-DVD set chronicling the band's last tour, in support of their sixth studio album, 'Intriguer.' I was fortunate enough to see their Seattle-area stop and can vouch that they sounded great. The 50-minute DVD is a roundup of the best songs (as chosen by Neil Finn) from their first performance stop, Aukland, New Zealand on April 8, 2010. The CDs are of the final show from Denver on Sept. 9 of the same year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Details on Spectacular Spinning Box Set

Back in September, I mentioned an impending live album from Elvis Costello but, at the time, there weren't too many specifics available. We know everything now, including how much you'll need to borrow from your local loan officer. I'm only half joking. The super-deluxe edition of 'The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!!' will set you back a cool $268.22, if you get it via Amazon, and, although it is a sharp box set, I think I'll wait for the single- or double-disc (CD/DVD) releases of the May 11 and May 12, 2011 shows from the Wiltern in Los Angeles that are promised in 2012. Still, I know there are a few die-hards out there willing to go bankrupt for this rare release. So, here's the specifics.

Nov. 21 Update: Even Costello himself finds the price ridiclous!

First, the music: There is a CD, DVD and a cool piece of 10" vinyl. The vinyl has four songs on it that won't be found on future releases of this live show. There are only going to be 1,500 copies of this autographed set available, and each box will be individually numbered. Inside, you'll find a 40-page hardcover book, a 20" x 30" poster and limited-edition postcard. The box itself has a smaller version of the spinning wheel used on tour to pick that night's setlist. Speaking of lists, here is the track-by-track breakdown. 'The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!!' will be out Dec. 6 (not Nov. 21, as previously published).

Elvis Costelloand the Imposters
'The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!!'

1. I Hope You're Happy Now
2. Heart of the City (Nick Lowe)
3. Mystery Dance
4. Radio Radio
5. Everyday I Write The Book
6. God Give Me Strength
7. Watching The Detectives
8. Tear Off Your Own Head (It's A Doll Revolution) (featuring Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles)
9. Out Of Time (The Rolling Stones)
10. I Want You
11. Stella Hurt
12. All Grown Up
13. Lipstick Vogue
14. “Man Out of Time
15. National Ransom
16. (What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

1. I Hope You're Happy Now
2. Heart Of The City (Nick Lowe)
3. Mystery Dance
4. Radio Radio
5. Clubland
6. God Give Me Strength
7. Tear Off Your Own Head (It's A Doll Revolution) (featuring Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles)
8. Out Of Time (The Rolling Stones)
9. I Want You
10. Everyday I Write The Book
11. Stella Hurt
12. A Slow Drag With Josephine
13. Jimmie Standing In The Rain
14. Alison
15. Earthbound
16. (Whats So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love And Understanding
Bonus Tracks
17. Uncomplicated
18. Watching The Detectives
19. Monkey To Man

Side A:
1. Pump it Up (6/8)
2. Busted (Harlan Howard)
Side B:
1. Brilliant Mistake
2. Strict Time

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Big Country: New DVD, Deluxe Edition Update

Well, now we know if there will be any previously unreleased material on the deluxe edition of Big Country's 'The Crossing,' out Jan. 30, and the news is good. There are 10 songs on the second disc that most of us die-hard fans don't own. You can already preorder it on the UK version of Amazon.

Disc 1: The Original Album
1. In A Big Country (Original Album - Universal Master)
2. Inwards
3. Chance
4. 1000 Stars
5. The Storm
6. Harvest Home
7. Lost Patrol
8. Close Action
9. Fields Of Fire
10. Porrohman
11. Balcony (B-side to Harvest Home)
12. Flag Of Nation(Swimming) (B-side to Harvest Home)
13. Angle Park (B-side to Fields Of Fire)
14. All Of Us (B-side to In A Big Country)
15. Heart And Soul (B-side to In A Big Country)
16. The Crossing (B-side to Chance)
17. Tracks of My Tears (Live) (B-side to Chance)

Disc 2: Demos
1. Angle Park (Stuart/Bruce 4 Track Demos 1981*)
2. Harvest Home (Stuart/Bruce 4 Track Demos 1981*)
3. We Could Laugh (Stuart/Bruce 4 Track Demos 1981*)
4. In A Big Country (Demo) (Rarities IV)
5. The Storm (Demo) (Rarities IV)
6. Big City (Demo) (Rarities IV)
7. Fields of Fire (Riverside BBC TV*)
8. Lost Patrol (Demo) (Phonogram Studios*)
9. Inwards (Demo) (Phonogram Studios*)
10. Thousand Stars (Chris Thomas*)
11. Close Action (Chris Thomas*)
12. Lost Patrol (Chris Thomas*)
13. Inwards (Chris Thomas*)
14. Fields of Fire (Demo) (Rarities IV)
15. Ring Out (Demo) (Rarities IV)
16. Thousand Stars (Demo) (Rarities IV)
17. Chance (Demo) (Rarities IV)

* previously unreleased

I'm not going to write about the awesome tour the band is doing to support this reissue. I have already done that. You should know, however, if you aren't one of the lucky ones to have seen Big Country since Mike Peters took over for the deceased Stuart Adamson, you can now buy a DVD/CD box set of the band's April 21, 2011 show in Edinburgh called 'Dreams Stay With You.' Here's "In a Big Country" from that concert. Did I mention I'm loving all of this Big Country news?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Macca Teams Up With MacManus: Part II

I posted most of the best stuff from 'The McCartney/MacManus Collaboration' yesterday, but there are a couple of other songs on the bootleg that may interest you. On March 23, 1995, Paul McCartney hosted a benefit at the Royal College of Music. This show would mark the first time McCartney would perform live with Elvis Costello. They performed "Mistress and Maid," one of the demos they worked on together several years earlier, as well as "One After 909," a song you may know from some other band McCartney was in back in the '60s. You can find this rare performance below.

I'm also including another demo of the Costello/McCartney-penned tune "Veronica." This version sounds a little more finished than the one I posted yesterday. Through the years, Costello has performed many of the McCartney/MacManus songs live, but one that I have not heard him do much is "You Want Her Too." If you enjoyed the demo of this song yesterday, I think you'll like this rare solo take from the stage.

Finally, here is about a minute of Costello cracking up during a rehearsal of "My Brave Face." I wish he could have held it together, as I love the speed and tightness he had going on this one. I seem to recall seeing this footage on a making of 'Flowers in the Dirt" video. On the tape, McCartney was talking about what a great team these two were... one that reminded him of another musician he used to work with back in the day. With this boot, the evidence is clear. McCartney and MacManus made a dynamic duo. I hope they work together again.

Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello
'The McCartney/MacManus Collaboration'

9. Veronica (mp3)
10. One After 909 (live) (mp3)
11. Mistress and Maid (live) (mp3)
13. You Want Her Too (live) (mp3)
15. My Brave Face (mp3)

Monday, November 7, 2011

500th Post: Macca Teams Up With MacManus

I know. I know. Five hundred blog posts. Big deal. Well, it is to me. Maybe it will be to you when you see what I'm posting to celebrate this small achievement. Back in the day, my favorite record store was this little hole in the wall in New York called Midnight Records. When I lived in Washington, D.C., in the '90s, I used to make trips up there for hard-to-find Brian Wilson bootlegs, and this store always had them. The brick-and-mortar version of this place has long since closed, but they still have a thriving online business. I digress. Today and tomorrow I'm sharing my favorite bootleg I ever found there.

In the fall of 1987, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello were meeting at McCartney's office in Soho to write and record demos together. The goal was to assemble songs for McCartney's upcoming album, 'Flowers in the Dirt.' By most accounts, they recorded nine or 10 songs there, as well as writing or finishing (at least on paper) several more. During the next nine years, the results of this collaboration (and others) would show up on their records, including McCartney's 'Flowers in the Dirt' and 'Off the Ground,' as well as Costello's 'Spike,' 'Mighty Like a Rose' and 'All This Useless Beauty.' Some of these songs, such as "My Brave Face," "Veronica," "So Like Candy" and "Shallow Grave" were, in my opinion, huge successes. Other songs weren't as likable when transitioned from demo to finished product. Usually, this was because of slick overproduction, particularly the ones that appeared on McCartney's albums.

Truth be told, I'll take these demos over the official studio versions any day. I love the intimacy and simplicity of it all. It's like having the Everly Brothers in your living room. I hope you enjoy them, too. I'll have a few more nuggets from this one tomorrow. Like the 500 home-run mark in baseball, 500 blog posts doesn't mean as much as it used to, but I'm still proud, and I promise you I never took the juice.

Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello
'The McCartney/MacManus Collaboration'

1. The Lovers That Never Were (mp3)
2. Twenty-Five Fingers (mp3)
3. Tommy's Coming Home (mp3)
4. So Like Candy (mp3)
5. You Want Her Too (mp3)
6. Playboy to a Man (mp3)
7. Don't Be Careless Love (mp3)
8. My Brave Face (mp3)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cover Me Impressed: 'Money Changes Everything'/'The Right Stuff'

Here's another cover that, in some camps, doesn't really qualify. "Money Changes Everything" began as a Johnny Marr-penned instrumental that appeared as a B-side on the Smiths' 1986 single "Bigmouth Strikes Again." A year later, Marr and Bryan Ferry "finished" the song for Ferry's album, 'Bête Noire.' That included lyrics, a new name ("The Right Stuff") and enough production touches to make Jeff Lynne blush. Perhaps the Smiths should have kept this one for themselves. The Ferry version managed to crack the UK's Top 40 and, in my opinion, is among his best post-Roxy Music singles. Enjoy the pops and cracks of these two songs straight from their vinyl rips.

The Smiths - Money Changes Everything (mp3)
Bryan Ferry - The Right Stuff (mp3)

More Cover Me Impressed:
"I Put a Spell on You"
"Johnny, Are You Queer?"
"Almost Saturday Night"
"Too Many Teardrops"
"Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me"
"They Don't Know"
"Everybody's Talkin'"
"What Goes On"
"There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
Halloween Edition
"Porpoise Song"
"Prairie Rose"
"Come On Eileen"
"Walking On Thin Ice"
Jason Falkner Edition
"True Love Will Find You In The End"
"This Will Be Our Year"
"You're My Favorite Waste of Time"
"The End Of The World"
"(Don't Go Back To)Rockville"
"God Only Knows"
"And Your Bird Can Sing"
"So Sad About Us"
"Walking The Cow"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Reissue Is Real: Classic From Louvin Brothers

If you're a fan of the country harmonies of Charlie and Ira, Tuesday is a big day. Their iconic 1959 album 'Satan Is Real' receives the remaster treatment, along with an unusual second disc called 'Handpicked Songs 1955-62.' Artists and fans of the Louvins, such as Beck, Emmylou Harris, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, each picked a favorite song that comprises the 14-track bonus compilation. Also included on this set is an interview with Charlie. In case you didn't hear, he died in January, outliving Ira by 46 years. Now, obviously, I think the music is great, but, as you can see, this might be the greatest cover ever. The duo designed this themselves, building the 16-foot Satan from plywood. The location was an old rock quarry, and the fires were burning tires. Preorder now. Here's a Carter Family-penned tune that can be found on 'Satan Is Real.'

The Louvin Brothers - The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea (mp3)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Zooey's Changing Relationship Status

Every male indie hipster on the planet just gasped. Zooey Deschanel is back on the market. Another rock-and-roll marriage appears to be, well, on the rocks. Now that I think about it, perhaps not every indie hipster cares. I have been noticing a little Zooey backlash lately.

I don't know if this is because of the not-so-indie move of starring on broadcast television or Pitchfork's pan of the new She & Him Christmas album or what, but the recent criticism I least understand is that she sucked as the singer of the "National Anthem" at Game 4 of the World Series. A quick search commonly finds words like "dreadful" and "boring" to describe Deschanel's rendition. What? She sounded great and sang it with the correct delivery. If you watch a lot of sports, you know this song gets butchered all of the time. She didn't try to turn it into an R&B hit, and Deschanel actually got the lyrics correct. Amazing. Criticize if you must, but don't start here. Now, how about laying off the newest and most eligible bachelorette? OK, fellas, better go straighten those skinny ties and work on your witty banter.