9/29/16

Soft Boys - Give It To The Soft Boys 7" (1977)



As requested by a visitor some weeks ago, this is the first re-up of the early Soft Boys singles. The delay cos' I was in String Driven Thing and Strawbs. Quite a change of musical universe. I'll try to up some new Soft Boys material in the future. When my Robyn Hitchcock period will be back again, which is not the case presently. Anyway, here the first one. A one with a cover sleeve (a real one, not a did-it-myself) that wouldn't be tolerated on fb or Instagram. Or even on deezer or itunes I suppose. What a shame. And even on Youtube, as the video below shows: they put a sticking plaster or the tit. Ridiculous. These bigots deserve our despise. If they feel to wank anytime they see tits, they'll have problems when their wife or daughter will have to feed her baby. Go to hell.

This is the first of several posts about 7" or EPs, released under the name of the Soft Boys or Robyn Hitchcock, and only reissued on various compilations or as bonus tracks of CD versions of albums. It appears that I discovered the Soft Boys with this first 3 songs 7" in the summer of 1977, and never stopped to buy their stuff uuntil they disbanded in 1979 so I can provide all the original covers. For the quality, the best is to take the CD versions of course and not rip my vinyls. I immediately loved the voice, melodies and musical style of this band, quite different from the usual punk one that was my fave in this particular year that was 1977, and mainly based on the musical heritage of Syd Barrett, the Byrds and Groundhogs. The cocktail was OK for me (even if I've honestly never liked much the Byrds). This first single is much more punch(k)y than the further ones, and what is striking is the incredible technical skill of the musicians, in a time that this was not the priority in rock (the other band playing with such an aptitude would be the Only Ones and I'll post soon their first single too). Furthermore, the texts were marked by surrealism and had nothing in common with the usual political antisocial or sentimental ones of that era (which is an anagram of ear). The sleeve reminded strongly of the first Supertramp album (or the second Flash one) and although I really find women chests the most wonderful landscape to admire, I don't feel these various attempts to put them on a front of a record were a good idea. Among the 3 songs, my fave is "The Face Of Death" that I put as the streaming one below, with a rather rude text for someone young as was at the time Robyn Hitchcock. Don't forget to buy his last solo LP, Goodnight Oslo, one of the best records of the year.



The Face of Death. The face of death is my best friend He lurks behind my favourite vent And though we meet we never speak I've got a feeling he's unique He looks so crushed but he's alright He eat his food He sleeps at night His leather jacket's quite like mine I'm we two would get on fine But some someday I'll make him mine I'll wear your face I'll come to tea My place or yours And then you'll see It's like walking through a mirror He tried to hard It never came to anything They burn his name They threw him out Cause he was wrong And left him trapped inside this song




9/25/16

String Driven Thing - Live in Bern (1973)






















Third and I think last live set offering from the classic 70's line-up of this great underrated scottish band. Note that the sound quality is weak this time, and I couldn't improve it at the level I expected but I'm not a sound ingineer it's clear. Sad since this testimony shows the band in an incredibly good form, the set is powerful and aggressive and would have deserved a fine sound quality. It was released on the OZit CD issue of their first album for Charisma and honestly they didn't try very hard to improve the sound since I could do better with my simple amateur softwares. I do not have the exact date of the concert but some fans may know if they have the STD tour schedule of the band. What I can say it's that it's prior to the release of The Machine That Cried LP since Chris Adams announces the album under the name of Heartfeeder. They may have changed the name inbetween. For the cover sleeve I again used a picture of the Mexico's Dolls Island, and it makes the 3 a very homogenous pack. If I ever find another trace of a live recording of this era, sure I'll post it here. Meanwhile, listen to this incredibly strong flok-rock band. All Comus, Simon Finn, Strawbs fans should love it. Catch it here. Below a video of "Circus" caught on TV.



9/18/16

String Driven Thing - Live at the Manchester Free Trade Hall (1973)



















A second SDT live testimony of this great but short-live band. Here they are guests on the Foxtrot's Genesis tour and without drummer so it's quite different of the previous post. Moreover songs are only from their first album on Charisma (the Genesis label of course), a rather weaker album than The Machine That Cried that was  partially played on later shows of the year. But, you'll see (more precisely hear) that they could put the fire on stage, even in front of an audience waiting with impatience their progressive shit (I say that but in 1972 I was a Genesis fan so I was one of them, except that in France we had not STD with them). This live set was released with an awfully ugly cover sleeve some years ago under the title Live on the Foxtrot Tour 4 years ago. I changed the cover for a DIM (did-it-myself) one based once again upon the famous and weird Mexico's Island of the Dolls, since I think is a fine illustration to go with the music that played the band. There's still one live set to come soon. Meanwhile, catch this one here.







9/16/16

T. Rex - T. REXpanded (1972-77)




















Thirty nine years ago today, Marc Bolan died in a car crash, an opportunity for posting this interesting compilation of various songs (several being major Hits, some being misses) in their master version, and more interesting in their full length version, wih sometimes a false start but, more exciting, how it sounded after this damned fade on the single. It's the case for "20th Century Boy", one of my fave Bolan song, here in 6'20" long version (see below a video done for it, not by me), a thrilling experience for me who always increased desperately the sound during the fade to hear the stunning Bolan shout. Not that all the long intrumental impro is genius, but it's a moving sensation to discover that this song was really played by humans when it had become a sort of desincarnated classic. Most of the present versions are better than the edited ones on the single or the album. It's particularily the case for minor Hits such as "The Groover", "Truck On" or more obscure songs such as "Hang Ups" which is here really fantastic. Some are not saved ("Dreamy Lady") and some neither better, neither weaker. All in all it's a wonderful collection I think. Catch it for free here. PS. I'm quite proud of my cover sleeve, with an incredible picture that I forgot where I found it. I've coloured it in the trad. T. Rex blue and red visual code and it's really nice I think.


9/14/16

Strawbs - Live at the Capitol Theatre, Passaic (1976)
















Another live set by Strawbs (the ninth), and this one never posted on FS. It was recorded at the Capitol Theatre (New Jersey) in December 1976 for the Deep Cuts tour. The concert is good, except that the 2 new members on keyboards (Kirby and Mealing) are not so appropriate to Strawbs gothic-prog atmosphere than was the great John Hawken. Moreover, the songs from Deep Cuts lacked the power of the classic Strawbs songs. But all in all, if you like the band, you'll be glad to have this one in your collection. The concert is here in a one piece, I didn't have the patience and the courage to cut each song separaterely. So it's more than 2 hours long but actually there's only 1:22 of music, the rest is radio presentation (it was broadcasted on WNEW sometime in 1977), Cousins talk to the crowd, crowd shouts, and even a drum solo, something most of the time we can all avoid without any frustration. This is what I would have liked to delete but I was too lazy to do it. I also decided not to improve the sound that is rather good for a boot. This concert is available here and there on the web (and in some pay-sites I rather disapprove, against few but too much money since they didn't pay for that and moreover stole the cover sleeves some of us, free bloggers, we have done for the albums). Catch it here it's free. The fake cover sleeve was also made with a Alison Scarpulla picture. Much better than the visuals the band had between 1975 and 1978.


9/11/16

Strawbs - The Deadlines Dublin Sessions fake EP (1977)




















Before another live set (never posted before on FS) here a re-up of the Dublin sessions where 3 songs were recorded for the Deadlines album but unfortunately remixed and badly re-arranged. Not cream of the cream in Strawbs career but anyway 3 nice additions to any collection of their work, and any new version of Deadly Nightshade is crucial to listen to. Catch it here.

I think many Strawbs fans would agree that Deadlines was really badly produced, full of Jeffrey Lesser bad habits, mixed with awful sound options of the late seventies. Except for the last 2 tracks, it was often ruined by production. So it was a real pleasure to have 3 tracks from the Dublin sessions not featuring the Utopia studios sound and only the original mixes, much more in the traditional band vein. Although "No Return" is (for me) a very weak song and "Joey And Me" not a seminal one, it's good to hear them without the ugly sound decoration of the final product. And there's "Deadly Nightshade", one of the highlight of Cousins and Strawbs career. These were on the reissue of Deadlines. I encourage to buy it but if you can't afford, here are 3 tracks under a fake EP with do-it-myself cover sleeve (from a young guy called Ruberman Rodriguez, his deviantArt page here).




9/7/16

String Driven Thing - Live in London (1973)




















This was a great band and this a really really great live set. Only 26 min but each one is a complete jubilation. The sound is not perfect but it's a minor problem when the music is so good. If you don't know String Driven Thing, this was the band led by Chris and Pauline Adams with Grahame Smith, future Van Der Graaf on violin. Their short-life with this line-up is a shame (from 1972 to 74) and it's not clear why the Adams decided to leave the family (sorry I couldn't avoid to do it). The music that played the band was a strong folk rock(rockier than folky) with a pregnant violin. The intensity was always there (listen to the fantastic "Night Club")  and I often feel they were the ancestors of bands such as the Waterboys and the Go-Betweens. But some may think I'm wrong. I've bought some more that I will post on this blog. If you love Comus or Fuchsia you must hear this one, it's a gem. I'm quite happy with my did-it-myself cover sleeve. Sure I will (unfortunately) find it on some sites where you'll have to pay to get what I offer here for free. Shitty bastards. Note that I left the songs all linked. No way you would be allowed not to listen all in a row. No samples to provide but trust me you won't be disapointed.


9/4/16

Strawbs - In Concert at the Paris Theatre London (1971)




















This is the 8th re-up, and I got some bew live shows to up. This one is older, featuring Rick Wakeman. Not my fave period of the band but each Strawbs amateur has his/her own so I'm sure some of you will love it. Catch it here. Details below are, as usual, from the first post (5 years ago, when we were quite younger).

This concert is known to be the last with Rick Wakeman on keyboard, before he joined Yes, replacing Tony Kaye. Not a bad thing he left I must say, since he's often totally out of subject with his progressive-epic approach of keyboards, more Keith Emerson than Matthew Fisher. Recorded one year after the Queen Elizabeth Hall concert that gave the Antiques and Curios album, it shows how the band grew confident, often not for the best, some versions being quite weak. Others are great such as "The Shepherd's Song". But it's clear that the band was going away from his folk roots, and it's no surprise Tony Hooper was living his last months with the band. All in all, an unavoidable addition to any Strawbs collection. I did a cover sleeve with a flyer for a show played some months later.






9/3/16

Strawbs - Live at the Paris Theatre (1973)



The 7th live recording from Strawbs. All details below. The cover sleeve still made with an Alison Scarpulla picture. Suits so well with the climax of this band. Catch it here. Some more to come. PS. I just discovered some sites steal my live albums (with my do-it-myself cover sleeves) and sell them (???). WTF ??? See for example Ivave here or mclub there. Not sure to feel flattered. More angry that they make money with my work when I offer it for free. Greedy bastards are everywhere. Don't buy them things you can find on this blog. Ask me to re-up. It will be free. 

I try to post again a Strawbs record. Try cos' my last posts of this band were removed after a request by "don't know who" under the DMCA banner. Here is the first of concert series released on this blog. The sound is exceptionally good since it is taken from a radio take. This is the band in it's first period line-up, that means with Hudson and Ford (but also with Dave Lambert), caught 4 months after the release of their Bursting at the Seams successful LP. But the band had only weeks to live before splitting. It's an interesting testimony of the songs as they were played with this formation, to be compared with their interpretation with the next one. Personally, I find that the concert is weakened by the Hudson and Ford songs, such a different climax than the intense and oppressive Cousins ones. It would have been a benediction if Cousins had been more tyrannic like a, for example, Ian Anderson or Peter Hammill. Nevermind, this is a prime choice to taste.





9/2/16

Strawbs - Live at the Ultra Sonic Studio (1974)



The 6th re-up of a live Strawbs set. I didn't remember to have posted so much. Great blog indeed... no I'm joking. However this is the blog I would like to find if I was just a web surfer. This is one of the best live recording of the band so I encourage anybody to catch it here.

I should have posted this one before the Golder's Green Hippodrome concert since it was played 2 months before. I must say this is one the best live sets I've ever heard from the band. This was played in a radio studio in New York, and it can be considered as a public presentation of their new album, Hero and Heroine (yes dear Strawbs lovers, once it was a new album presented by the band when now it's an eternal classic). And honestly, it's much better than the versions they gave at the GGH in April. The band is tighter and the keyboards are more subtile and like they were played on the album. Even the Bursting at the Seams songs are better than at the GGH. Never the band will be better than on this show, and the sound of the recording is superb. Not to be missed. And more to come if I'm not stopped in my Strawbs hommage on this blog.



9/1/16

Strawbs - Live at the Golder's Green Hippodrome (1974)



Fourth re-up of a live set by this band, one of the few (with Procol Harum and Groundhogs) that I collect the live recordings with interest since their interprations and their setlist can be so challenging and so diverse. More details about this one below (the band had just mutated from its folk-rock line-up to its prog-rock one). Catch it here.

Let's have another try of a Str... album. After the Paris Theatre concert, a live set at the Golder's Green Hippodrome (same than Procol Harum) one year later but with a totally new line-up since from the previous band only Dave Cousins and Lambert are still in the band. After the split, they imagined to enrole the rhythmic section of Ten Years After (a strange choice) but finally recruited the keyboards of Renaissance, John Hawken with 2 other members (Chas Cronk and Rod Coombes, the latter from Stealer's Whell), forming maybe the line-up most popularily associated with the name of the band. When comparing the songs played with the 2 line-ups, it's clear that the band is very different, much more compact and progressive than the previous one. But finally, old songs are better with the previous line-up (in particular, the keyboards are sometimes too much synthetiser and progressives when they were still traditional and folk previously) and the band excels mainly on new songs. I think to put other concerts of this great band soon. Hope not to have them withdrawn. Sorry for the mistake on the fake cover sleeve (from a picture taken by Alison Scarpulla). Too complicated to correct it.





8/31/16

Strawbs - Live at the Calderone (1975)



With another cover sleeve conceived with a picture by Alison Scarpulla, another concert from the classic Strabs line-up except that the precious John Hawken was no more in the album neither on this tour. But as I said in the first post (see below) this is a very good set and deserved to be possessed by any amateur of the band. Catch it here.

We find here the band at the turn of its career, leaving his progressive folk-doom for a more mainstream rock style, having just released an LP called No Madness (the back of the self-made cover sleeve), the first without keyboards (John Hawken had leaved before the studio sessions of the LP) and a rather weak one. Surprisingly, this live set seems totally under the Ghosts LP influence and not so much of their last one (only 3 songs from it). And it's really stunning to hear live "The Life Auction". Maybe the fact that Ghosts was quite a success in the USA led the band to play a large part of the setlist with it on his US tour. The sound is quite good but not enough to justify the release of this concert as an official LP sent full price (with a different cover sleeve so out of subject that I decided to do another one with once again an Alison Scarpulla picture). Enjoy this new testimony of the band's genius on stage.