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Monday, 24 December 2018

New Music 2018: Peace Now - The Alarm (December 2018)

Peace Now - The Alarm
from the album 'Equals'
 Video Released 24th December 2018

The Alarm 2018 Line Up are:
Jules Jones Peters, Mike Peters, James Stevenson and Steve "Smiley" Barnard
(Picture by Andy Labrow)

Check out previous article on the 'Equals' album:

Sunday, 23 December 2018

My Favourite Song of 2018: A Little Hope - Pennywise

A Little Hope - Pennywise
from the Album 'Never Gonna Die'
Released 20th April 2018
Epitaph Records

A Little Hope
written by Pennywise
There's so much wrong in the world today
Just read the news on your front page
You'll see and get blown away
You got bankers, thieves and presidents
They're stealing cash from residents, again
It's so insane

Just animals reaching for a fight
But preaching god is on their side
It's them, that never had a chance
The dreams we meant for no excuse
We all believe now, what's the use?
The youth, all don't understand
This shit is getting out of hand

Can I get a little hope?
Can I get a little love?
Can I get some compassion
Something I can be sure of
So you got a lot of pain?
Can I get a little trust?
Cause we all want freedom
Now is that too much?
Now is that too much?

Just walk out your front door today
You'll find something for you to hate
You'll see, it won't go away
Religion, greed and government
You can pick on any one of them to blame
It's so insane
Then look up to the sky above
and say haven't we had enough
Do you, do you wanna proof
Then raise your hands up to the sky
Now truth has got you wondering why
This way, why won't it change?
Someone has gotta hear you say

Can I get a little hope?
Can I get a little love?
Can I get some compassion
Something I can be sure of
So you got a lot of pain?
Can I get a little trust?
Cause we all want freedom
Now is that too much?
Now is that too much?

Just what it is, you know we'll never understand
This shit is getting out of hand

Can I get a little hope?
Can I get a little trust?
Can I get some compassion
Something I can be sure of
Can I get a little hope?
Can I get a little love?
Can I get some compassion
Something I can be sure of
So you got a lot of pain?
Can I get a little trust?
Cause we all want freedom
Now is that too much?
Now is that too much?
Now is that too much?
Now is that too much?
Now is that too much?

In 2018 the band Pennywise were celebrating their 30th year together. First spoken of 2016 and confirmed in March 2018, their latest album 'Never Gonna Die' contains some truly outstanding songs. One which stood out for me right from the first listen to the album was 'A Little Hope'. It's probably safe to say that this is one of the most played songs of the year in my house.

The return of vocalist Jim Lindberg to the studio along with the band was most welcome indeed (he had last appeared on the Pennywise album 'Reason To Believe' back in 2008 before departing in August 2009). Zoli TΓ©glΓ‘s, frontman for OC hardcore/punk band Ignite had taken his place officially as the frontman in February 2010. After injuring his back during a show in 2012 he left the band and had contacted Lindberg with the possibility of a return and that's exactly what happened and just in time to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the band. Recording for 'Never Gonna Die' had begun in 2016 and finally completed in 2017.

The song 'A Little Hope' is one of those 'state of the nation' type songs with a longing for change. After seeing what has unfolded in America the past couple of years you can totally understand why they, and many others are calling out for changes! I like the fact that for a band that have been around for 30 years they still feel they have something to say and throughout the album they deliver their verdict on what is wrong and what is needed to bring about change.

You might assume that their pleadings for hope, love, compassion, someone to trust, and freedom might only be something that is specific to their situation but it isn't. Here in the UK we have had to endure similar situations with politicians etc not doing what they ought to be doing but rather stomping even harder upon the downtrodden of society and creating a climate of fear.

The clarion call of many is found in the words:

"Can I get a little hope?
Can I get a little love?
Can I get some compassion
Something I can be sure of
So you got a lot of pain?
Can I get a little trust?
Cause we all want freedom
Now is that too much?"

Listen To The Whole Album Here:
Never Gonna Die - Pennywise
Epitaph Records
Released 20th April 2018

Back in April here on this blog I spotlighted the release of the twelfth Pennywise album 'Never Gonna Die'. Eight months on it's still an album that I have gone back to a number of times to listen to from start to finish.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

My Favourite Album of 2018: An American Treasure - Tom Petty

An American Treasure - Tom Petty
Reprise Records
 Compiled by: Mike Campbell, Adria Petty, Dana Petty, Benmont Tench, and Ryan Ulyate
Released 28th September 2018
US Chart #9
UK Chart #38

1-1 Surrender (from Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers Sessions 1976)
1-2 Listen To Her Heart (Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA 1977-11-11)
1-3 Anything That's Rock 'N' Roll (Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA 1977-11-11)
1-4 When The Time Comes (from You're Gonna Get It! 1978-05-02)
1-5 You're Gonna Get It (Alternate Version feat. strings from You're Gonna Get It! Sessions 1978)
1-6 Radio Promotion Spot 1977
1-7 Rockin' Around (With You) (from Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers 1976-11-09)
1-8 Fooled Again (I Don't Like It) (Alternate Version from Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers 1976)
1-9 Breakdown (Live at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA November 11, 1977)
1-10 The Wild One, Forever (from Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers 1976-11-09)
1-11 No Second Thoughts (from You're Gonna Get It! 1978-05-02)
1-12 Here Comes My Girl (Alternate Version from Damn The Torpedoes Sessions 1979)
1-13 What Are You Doing In My Life (Alternate Version from Damn The Torpedoes Sessions 1979)
1-14 Louisiana Rain (Alternate Version from Damn The Torpedoes Sessions 1979)
1-15 Lost In Your Eyes (Unreleased Single from Mudcrutch Sessions 1974)
2-1 Keep A Little Soul (from Long After Dark Sessions 1982)   
2-2 Even The Losers (Live at Rochester Community War Memorial, Rochester, NY 1989)
2-3 Keeping Me Alive (from Long After Dark Sessions 1982)
2-4 Don't Treat Me Like A Stranger (UK B-side single of 'I Won't Back Down' April, 1989)
2-5 The Apartment Song (Demo Recording with Stevie Nicks 1984)
2-6 Concert Intro (Live Introduction by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, The Forum, Inglewood, CA 1981-06-28)
2-7 King's Road (Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA 1981-06-28)
2-8 Clear The Aisles (Live Concert Announcement by Tom Petty, The Forum, Inglewood, CA 1981-06-28)
2-9 A Woman In Love (It's Not Me) (Live at The Forum, Inglewood, CA 1981-06-28)
2-10 Straight Into Darkness (Alternate Version from The Record Plant, Hollywood, CA 1982-05-05)
2-11 You Can Still Change Your Mind (from Hard Promises 1981-05-05)
2-12 Rebels (Alternate Version from Southern Accents Sessions 1985)   
2-13 Deliver Me (Alternate Version from Long After Dark Sessions 1982)
2-14 Alright For Now (Album track from Full Moon Fever 1989-04-24)
2-15 The Damage You've Done (Alternate Version from Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) Sessions 1987)
2-16 The Best Of Everything (Alternate Version from Southern Accents Sessions 1985-03-26)   
2-17 Walkin' From The Fire (from Southern Accents Sessions 1984-03-01)   
2-18 King Of The Hill (Early Take with Roger McGuinn 1987-11-23)
3-1 I Won't Back Down (Live at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA 1997-02-04)   
3-2 Gainesville (from Echo Sessions 1998-02-12)   
3-3 You And I Will Meet Again (from Into The Great Wide Open 1991-07-02)   
3-4 Into The Great Wide Open (Live at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena, 1991-11-24)   
3-5 Two Gunslingers (Live at The Beacon Theatre, New York, NY 2013-05-25)   
3-6 Lonesome Dave (from Wildflowers Sessions 1993-07-23)   
3-7 To Find A Friend (from Wildflowers 1994-11-01)   
3-8 Crawling Back To You (from Wildflowers 1994-11-01)   
3-9 Wake Up Time (from Early Wildflowers Sessions 1992-08-12)   
3-10 Grew Up Fast (from Songs And Music From 'She's The One' 1996-08-06)   
3-11 I Don't Belong (from Echo Sessions 1998-12-03)   
3-12 Accused Of Love (from Echo 1999-04-13)   
3-13 Lonesome Sundown (from Echo 1999-04-13)   
3-14 Don't Fade On Me (from Wildflowers Sessions 1994-04-20)   
4-1 You And Me (Clubhouse Version 2007-11-09)
4-2 Have Love Will Travel (from The Last DJ 2002-10-08)
4-3 Money Becomes King (from The Last DJ 2002-10-08)
4-4 Bus To Tampa Bay (from Hypnotic Eye Sessions 2011-08-11)
4-5 Saving Grace (Live at Malibu Performing Arts Center, Malibu, CA 2006-06-16)
4-6 Down South (from Highway Companion 2006-07-25)
4-7 Southern Accents (Live at Stephen C. O'Connell Center, Gainesville, FL 2006-09-21)
4-8 Insider (Live with Stevie Nicks at O'Connell Center, Gainesville, FL 2006-09-21)
4-9 Two Men Talking (from Hypnotic Eye Sessions 2012-11-06)
4-10 Fault Lines (from Hypnotic Eye 2014-07-29)
4-11 Sins Of My Youth (Early Take from Hypnotic Eye Sessions 2012-11-12)
4-12 Good Enough (Alternate Version from Mojo Sessions 2012)
4-13 Something Good Coming (from Mojo 2010-07-15)
4-14 Save Your Water (from Mudcrutch 2 2016-05-20)
4-15 Like A Diamond (Alternate Version from The Last DJ Sessions 2002)
4-16 Hungry No More (Live at House Of Blues, Boston, MA 2016-06-15)

Tom Petty
20th October 1950 - 2nd October 2017

Almost a year after the passing of Tom Petty this marvellous collection of Studio, Outtakes, Alternate Versions and Live Recordings, including music from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Tom Petty Solo and Mudcrutch spanning 1974 through to 2016 was released.
In 1974 Mudcrutch had released one single three years before (Up in Mississippi in 1971 and decided to make their move from Gainesville, Florida to Los Angeles, California in the hope of making it. Failing to secure a spot on a major label they found someone who had some belief in them and signed with the Independent label Shelter Records which was owned by Leon Russell. They released Depot Street as a single in 1975 but it failed to chart. On this Boxset there's an unreleased single Lost In Your Eyes recorded in a 1974 session (the final track on Disc 1). 
In late 1975 Shelter decided to break the band up and retain only Tom Petty under contract.   Several months later, Petty regrouped with former Mudcrutch members Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench to form The Heartbreakers along with fellow Gainesville natives Stan Lynch (drums) and Ron Blair (bass).
 Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Tom Petty was probably not considered as "An American Treasure" back at the start as he and The Heartbreakers gained more attention in the UK when their debut album was released in November 1976. In the States it only peaked in the chart at #55 (and that was in 1978!) whilst in the UK it reached #24.
The Four CD Boxset covers the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s dedicating a disc to each era. The three live tracks from the Capitol Studios in 1977 (Listen To Her Heart, Anything That's Rock and Roll and Breakdown) are pretty cool. I recently picked up a copy of the whole show and it was great hearing them sounding so fresh back then. The rest of the tracks on Disc 1 cover the first three albums (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers - 1976; You're Gonna Get It! - 1978; and Damn The Torpedoes - 1979). I love how the album opens with Surrender (an outtake from the Debut album).
On Disc 2 we enter the 80's and here we find some excellent stuff: Keep A Little Soul, an outtake from the Long After Dark Sessions is wonderful (Keeping Me Alive is another outtake from the same album). The only other outtake is Walkin' From The Fire which was recorded during sessions for Southern Accents.
Disc 3 contains some great stuff from Petty's Solo outing Wildflowers: a couple of Alternate versions and an Outtake in Lonesome Dave. Gainesville and I Don't Belong are Outtakes from the Echo Sessions.
Disc 4 contains Bus To Tampa Bay and Two Men Talking both Outtakes from Hypnotic Eye and there's alternate versions of tracks from The Last DJ, Hypnotic Eye and Mojo
What I really loved about this collection was that it would have been almost too easy to just bring together all the hit singles etc but they really went the extra mile to bring Outtakes, Alternate Versions, Live tracks and maybe lesser known album tracks by digging around into Tom Petty's archives. I guess if you wanted the hits then you are best looking elsewhere. This is really an album for the fans who are appreciative of some of the hidden gems that were maybe just gathering dust.
I'm glad to annouce this one as My Favourite Album of 2018

The Music of E Street

A little something thrown together spotlighting the various members of The E Street Band and others who have played and sung with them over the years. Oh and at the end there's a few featuring Bruce as well!

Hope you enjoy The Playlist.

The Music of E Street
Sax in the City - Clarence Clemons
Charlene - Garry Tallent
Wipeout! - Max Weinberg's Jukebox
Matter of Time - David Sancious and Tone (also features Ernest Boom Carter on Drums)
Riders in the Night - Roy Bittan
A Doorman's Life - Danny Federici
Soulfire! (Live) - Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul
I Came to Dance - Nils Lofgren
As Long as I Can Be Wityh You - Patti Scialfa
Wild Ones - Soozie Tyrell
Sick Broke and Broken - Jake Clemons
Way To Know - Downtown Mystic (featuring Garry Tallent and Max Weinberg)
Amazing Grace - Eddie Manion
Zydeco Boogie - The Gotham Playboys
The Ballad of Jesse James - Vini Lopez
Tetris Title Theme (Solo Accordion Cover) - Charlie Girordano
Smile - Cindi Mizelle
Little Bit Curt Ramm (with Dan Moretti and Bill Cunliffe)
Shine - Curtis King Jnr
Rocky Ground - Michelle Moore (with the Alliance Singers)
The Road I Must Travel - The Nightwatchman (Tom Morello)
Long Walk Home - Bruce Springsteen
Tenth Avenue Freezeout - Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
The E Street Shuffle - Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Favourite Albums of 2018: Joe Strummer 001 - Joe Strummer (September)

Joe Strummer 001 - Joe Strummer
Ignition Records
Produced by Robert Gordon McHarg III
Released 28th September 2018
UK Charts #11
UK Independent Albums #5
Scottish Chart #11
US Independent Albums (Billboard) #27

Tracklisting Information

1. Letsagetabitarockin' (2005 Remastered Version) - The 101ers - 00:02:08 (2005 remastered version originally released on Elgin Avenue Breakdown)
2. Keys To Your Heart (Version 2) [2005 Remastered Version] - The 101ers - 00:03:08 (2005 remastered version originally released on Elgin Avenue Breakdown)
3. Love Kills - Joe Strummer - 00:03:59 (Originally released on the soundtrack to the 1986 film Sid and Nancy)
4. Tennessee Rain - Joe Strummer - 00:02:55 (Originally released on the soundtrack to the 1987 film Walker)
5. Trash City - Joe Strummer & The Latino Rockabilly War - 00:04:11 (Originally released on the soundtrack to the 1988 film Permanent Record)
6. 15th Brigade - Joe Strummer - 00:02:40
7. Ride Your Donkey - Joe Strummer - 00:02:21 (Originally released the 1989 album Earthquake Weather)
8. Burning Lights - Joe Strummer &
The Astro-Physicians - 00:02:43 (Originally featured in the 1990 film I Hired a Contract Killer)
9. Afro-Cuban Be-Bop -
Joe Strummer & The Astro-Physicians - 00:02:53
10. Sandpaper Blues - Radar - 00:04:44
11. Generations - Electric Dog House - 00:05:30 (Originally released on the 1997 compilation album Generations 1: A Punk Look at Human Rights)
12. It’s A Rockin' World - Joe Strummer - 00:02:25 (Originally released on the 1998 album Chef Aid: The South Park Album)
13. Yalla Yalla - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - 00:06:57 (Originally released on the 1999 album Rock Art and the X-Ray Style)
14. X-Ray Style - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - 00:04:34 (Originally released on the 1999 album Rock Art and the X-Ray Style)
15. Johnny Appleseed - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - 00:04:02 (Originally released on the 2001 album Global a Go-Go)
16. Minstrel Boy - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - 00:05:42 (Originally released on the 2001 soundtrack for the film Black Hawk Down)
17. Redemption Song - Johnny Cash & Joe Strummer - 00:03:24 (Originally released on Cash's 2003 box set Unearthed)
18. Over The Border - Jimmy Cliff & Joe Strummer - 00:03:51 (Originally released on Cliff's 2004 album Black Magic)
19. Coma Girl - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - 00:03:48 (Originally released on the 2003 album Streetcore)
20. Silver & Gold / Before I Grow Too Old - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - 00:02:39 (Originally released on the 2003 album Streetcore)

1. Letsagetabitarockin' (Strummer Demo) - Joe Strummer - 00:01:49 (Unreleased demo)
2. Czechoslovak Song / Where Is England - Strummer, Simonon & Howard - 00:03:49 (Unreleased version of "This is England")
3. Pouring Rain (1984) - Strummer, Simonon & Howard - 00:03:29 (Unreleased)
4. Blues On The River - Joe Strummer - 00:04:37 (Unreleased)
5. Crying On 23rd - The Soothsayers - 00:02:52 (Unreleased)
6. 2 Bullets - Pearl Harbour - 00:03:11 (Unreleased)
7. When Pigs Fly - Joe Strummer - 00:04:06 (Song from the 1993 unreleased soundtrack for the film When Pigs Fly)
8. Pouring Rain (1993) - Joe Strummer - 00:04:06 (Song from the 1993 unreleased soundtrack for the film When Pigs Fly)
9. Rose Of Erin - Joe Strummer - 00:04:12 (Song from the 1993 unreleased soundtrack for the film When Pigs Fly)
10. The Cool Impossible - Joe Strummer - 00:04:32 (Unreleased, one of the final songs Strummer recorded)
11. London Is Burning - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - 00:03:14 (Unreleased, one of the final songs Strummer recorded, alternate version of "Burnin' Streets" from the 2003 album Streetcore)
12. U.S. North - Joe Strummer & Mick Jones - 00:10:32 (Unreleased song intended for the movie Candy Mountain, there is also a live Big Audio Dynamite version floating around that is just over 7 minutes long)

On The Limited Edition Vinyl Deluxe Box Set there is also included:
12" Vinyl Single:
A1. U.S. North - Joe Strummer & Mick Jones - 00:10:32

7" Vinyl Single:
A1. This Is England - Strummer, Simonon & Howard - 00:03:04 (Unreleased demo)
B1. Before We Go Forward - Strummer, Simonon & Howard - 00:02:49 (Unreleased demo)

A1. Full Moon (Basement Demo)* - Joe Strummer - 00:03:02 (Unreleased demo)

*This track is not included on the playlist above as I couldn't find it on You Tube.

The 32 song album was released on 28 September 2018 by Ignition Records and features 12 previously unreleased songs, as well as known favourites from his recordings with The 101ers, The Mescaleros and his extensive soundtrack work along with alternate versions of previously released songs. 

I'm not always big on Anthologies, Compilations, Best of, Greatest Hits albums etc but every now and again one comes along that's really worth getting a little excited about (there is another one actually on my list that I'm yet to post about so there were at least two that took my fancy this year!).

I liked from the offset that this collection didn't involve a lot of stuff related to his days with The Clash because that has been seen, done, bought the t-shirt etc! Not that they are entirely absent because they sort of appear in the form of The Clash Mark II, whom most people would actually like to forget about because of that one album that barely gets a mention when discussing the history of The Clash, you know what one I mean!

It was great that they kicked off the album with The 101ers but I must admit that the version of 'Keys To Your Heart' that was chosen sounded quite twee and although it's been on a stack of compilations before, I wish they had used the 7" Single Version.

Also good was the move to show how Strummer's musical output was very diverse after The Clash with Soundtrack work as well as putting together another couple of bands that he could front and unleash the message that was on his heart and mind. For some strange reason it had totally escaped me that The Astro-Physicians were actually The Pogues! His backing band for the song 'It's A Rockin' World' included Flea (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Tom Morello, DJ Bonebrake (original drummer for the band X) and Benmont Tench (from The Heartbreakers) - now if that's not a bizzare gathering then I don't know what is!

One of my favourite things regarding Strummer Post-Clash was that his vocals actually begun to sound so much better and clearer even. His work with The Mescaleros is some of the most adventerous stuff he's ever done I think (and I cautiously say this especially thinking of some of the brilliant stuff he did with The Clash). There's a real collision of sounds incorporating everything from Rockabilly, Rock 'n' Roll, Reggae, Folk, World Music and so much more and there's some top tunes amid that great catalogue.

As we are drawing close to the 16th anniversary of his death (22nd December) I post this in a spirit of remembrance and joyfulness that he has left behind such a great legacy of music for us to enjoy.

"Raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer. I think he might have been our only decent teacher." - Constructive Summer - The Hold Steady.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Revisiting London Calling - The Clash (December 1979)

London Calling - The Clash
Produced by Guy Stevens
 UK Chart #9
US Chart #27 

The Clash
    Joe Strummer – lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, piano
    Mick Jones – lead guitar, piano, harmonica, backing and lead vocals
    Paul Simonon – bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "The Guns of Brixton"
    Topper Headon – drums, percussion

Additional performers
    Mickey Gallagher – organ
    The Irish Horns – brass

Side One
A1 London Calling   
A2 Brand New Cadillac   
A3 Jimmy Jazz   
A4 Hateful   
A5 Rudie Can't Fail

Side Two
B1 Spanish Bombs   
B2 The Right Profile   
B3 Lost In The Supermarket   
B4 Clampdown   
B5 The Guns Of Brixton

Side Three
C1 Wrong 'Em Boyo   
C2 Death Or Glory   
C3 Koka Kola   
C4 The Card Cheat

Side Four
D1 Lover's Rock   
D2 Four Horsemen   
D3 I'm Not Down   
D4 Revolution Rock   
D5 Train In Vain (Hidden Track)


Singles On London Calling
UK and other related releases
A1: London Calling
A2: Armagideon Time
 Armagideon Time (Version)
B-Side 1: Justice Tonight
B-Side 2: Kick It Over   

  Released 7th December 1979
UK Chart #11
Australian Chart #28 

 A-Side: Train In Vain 
B-Side 1: Clash City Rockers 
B-Side 2: White Man In Hammersmith Palais
Epic Records 
New Zealand
Released 1979

B-Side 1: Bankrobber 
B-Side 2: Rocker's Galore...UK Tour
Released April 1980

A-Side: Clampdown
B-Side: The Guns of Brixton
Released July 1980

B-Side 1: Bankrobber 
B-Side 2: Rocker's Galore...UK Tour
Released 1980
Rudie side played at 45 RPM  and Bankrobber side played at 33 ⅓ RPM.

I believe it was this version that was being imported a lot into the UK because folks wanted the song Bankrobber and CBS in the UK were refusing to release it but finally gave in and August 1980 Bankrobber was released as a single.

*Train in Vain was also released with Bankrobber / Rocker's Galore...UK Tour as the B-Side in the Netherlands (See Below)

A-Side: Train In Vain   
B-Side 1: Bankrobber   
B-Side 2: Rockers Galore..... UK Tour
Released 1980

Both sides played at 33 ⅓ RPM
This was also released in Germany, Spain, France.

  A-Side: Train In Vain (Stand By Me)
B-Side: London Calling
US 1980
US Chart #23

A-Side: London Calling
B-Side: Brand New Cadillac
Released 29th July 1991

 A-Side: Train In Vain
B-Side: The Right Profile
Released 14th October 1991

 Train In Vain never got a proper UK release until 1991 and was issued as a single in support of the best of package released as The Singles - released November 1991 (it was called a re-release but as it hadn't been released in the UK before as a single so it should not have had that status attatched to it).


Thirty nine years ago today The Clash released their third studio album, London Calling.

Many in the music world thought that bands like The Clash wouldn't still be around in 1979 as Punk was but a passing fad. The Pistols were gone, after having split in America not long after the start of 1978; The Damned had split after two albums in 1977 and then reappeared on the scene releasing the Love Song single in April 1979 and then a magnificent third album in Machine Gun Etiquette a month prior to the release of London Calling.

London Calling is a departure of sorts for The Clash as they sought to escape the world they had inhabited with their previous sloganeering (along with the rest of Punk) and that usual ramshackle sound of blistering guitars etc. On this 18 track Double Album (19 if you include the unmentioned Train in Vain stuck on at the end of Side 4) they were embracing new sounds and sharing them with us as they took us on their journey with them. It incorporates a range of styles, including punk, reggae, rockabilly, ska, New Orleans R&B, pop, lounge jazz, and rock - clearly something many fans of The Clash were not expecting.

A week prior to the release came the single London Calling. It was very exciting. Ian Birch writing for the Melody Maker wrote, "Musically, the single shows a marked advance: an irresitibly rolling gait, finely underplayed performances and sweet harmonies on the title words which effectively work as a chorus line. The lyrics are still apocalyptic clarion calls, but now Joe sings them with a natural assurance and clarity that make them more forceful.

B-Side 'Armagideon Time', an old reggae song, continues the general theme and feel - "A lot of people won't get no supper tonight/A lot of people won't get no justice tonight", it begins. What's really impressive, however, is the way The Clash have finally come to grips with the roots/rock/reggae traditions and properly incorporated them into their own approach. The (albeit well-intentioned) apeing days are over.

Can't wait to hear the album..." 
Charles Shaar Murray in his review of the album for NME (15th December 1979) would speak about the new sound: "Clashrock as of now has a freshness, variety, vitality and range that they've never shown before. 'London Calling' is also - no small point, this - the first Clash record (with the possible exception 'Cost of Living') that actually sounds right. Guy Stevens has produced The Clash the way they should have been produced right from the start: the tinny wall-of-sound of the first album now sounds quaint and one-dimensional by comparison and the AOR, easy listening HM sound imposed on 'Give 'Em Enough Rope' by the appalling Sandy Pearlman is now exposed as an even more gargantuan error of taste and judgement than it seemed at the time." He would also say that, "Parts of it sound totally unlike anything recorded before, yet is the most quintessentially Clashlike Clash record thus far...The Clash have matched everybody else's bets and chucked their cards on the table; in Springsteen's words, they have shown a hand even The Police couldn't beat, and they deserve to clean up."

CSM would go on, "The album opens with the single: a straight line drawn between the apocalypse of Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs' and the testament to personal courage and integrity of Springsteen's 'Darkness at the Edge of Town'. A call for solidarity and trust in the face of impending disaster, 'London Calling' is a tuning fork that strikes the keynote for the album, a tone apparent even in the most light-hearted moments of what is to follow." He finishes up his review with these words and it's not often you find yourself in agreement with a critic but here I give a hearty slap on the back to Charles Shaar Murray because he summed it up so brilliantly, "The Clash have been criticised for becoming a straight-ahead rock 'n' roll band, which is specious in the extreme. The Clash love rock 'n' roll, which is why they play it, but they want to live up to its promises, which is why they play like they do. With groups like The Clash on the case, rock 'n' roll ain't in the cultural dumper: 'London Calling' makes up for all the bad rock 'n' roll played in the last decade...I've been listening to 'London Calling' for nearly two weeks now: it's been my most played album all that time and will no doubt fulfil this function for some time to come. The Clash are entitled to feel very very proud of what they've done here".

Some reviewers were not as positive as CSM had been and expressed reservations. DJ and critic Charlie Gillett believed some of the songs sounded like poor imitations of Bob Dylan backed by a horn section! Garry Bushell was more critical in his review for Sounds, giving the record two out of five stars while claiming The Clash had "retrogressed" to Rolling Stones-style "outlaw imagery" and "tired old rock clichΓ©s". But then again Bushell was leaning in those days towards a lot of that "Oi music" so you couldn't take him too seriously!
Guy Stevens produced the album and there were concerns from CBS because he was known to be a little eratic due to drug and drink issues. He actually lived in Forest Hill and my friends and I often chatted with him when he came down to the local record shop to flog some second hand LPs to get some easy booze money. He was quite a nice guy to talk to and always was happy to share a few war stories of days gone by.

The album stands out as probably the finest one they have ever recorded and it's amazing to think that when they entered the studio to lay down some demos they didn't really have any songs at all and yet out of the turmoil of a period of writers block for Strummer came some excellent songs. Of the 19 songs only three were covers, fourteen were written by Strummer/Jones, Paul Simonon got the writing credit for 'The Guns of Brixton' and the whole band are credited with 'The Card Cheat'. The hidden track, 'Train in Vain' had initially been recorded to be given away on a Flexi Disc with the NME but when that fell through it was included on the album though not mentioned on the cover or the records  themselves until later issues of the album.

It's worth a play today I reckon. Ah, it brings back some memories of teenage life in South East London!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Bruce Springsteen 2018 in the Archives

On Sunday 16th December we will see the release on Netflix of 'Springsteen on Broadway' and two days prior to that on the 14th  will be the release date on Columbia Records of the Soundtrack to the highly successful 236 performance show that also won a Tony Award.

While Bruce has been wowing audiences down at the Walter Kerr Theatre those of us who have been unable to get tickets or be able to afford to fly to New York have been able to get our monthly "fix" of his music via the Archive Releases.

Bruce Springsteen has released a live show each month from the Archives via his website (where you can pick up a lot more shows including the whole tour from The River, High Hopes and much more) for the past few years now. It's been great to get shows for which many years we have had not so great quality bootlegs of and to hear them get mixed by Bob Clearmountain and presented freshly to our ears.

I have listed all the 2018 releases below and there's a link to 30 mins of highlights from each show under each cover.

Bruce Springsteen
Human Touch/Lucky Town Tour

Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
 24th June 1993 
Released 5th January

There is always divided opinion when it comes to the Human Touch/Lucky Town Tour because of course there was no E Street Band backing Springsteen!

Only The Professor Roy Bittan is present and some disrespectfully just call the band "The Other Band" as if they don't matter at all. I always feel that's quite harsh because all the guys and girls who made up the band were/are very talented musicians in their own right and the fact that Bruce respected them enough that he chose them to back him up should at least give us cause to show some respect back to them.

First show back in the U.S.A since returning from European leg of The Human Touch/Lucky Town Tour and it's a Concert To Fight Hunger to benefit World Hunger Year, The Food & Hunger Hotline and The Community Food Bank Of New Jersey. A night of many guests: Joe Ely plays guitar and sings on "I Ain't Got No Home", "Settle For Love" and "Blowin' Down This Road". Patti Scialfa plays guitar and sings on "Brilliant Disguise", "Human Touch", "Blowin' Down This Road", and "Having A Party". Steven Van Zandt plays guitar and sings on "Glory Days", "It's Been A Long Time", "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", "Born To Run", "Having A Party", and "It's All Right". The Miami Horns guest on "It's Been A Long Time", "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", "Having A Party", "Jersey Girl", and "It's All Right". Clarence Clemons plays saxophone on "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", and "Born To Run". Southside Johnny sings on "It's Been A Long Time", "Having A Party", "It's All Right". Soozie Tyrell plays violin on "Blowin' Down This Road". Max Weinberg drums on "Jersey Girl". First ever Springsteen performances in the U.S. of "Satan's Jeweled Crown", "Settle For Love", and "Blowin' Down This Road".

I really like this one and probably say it's third on the list of favourite Archive Releases for 2018.

Bruce Springsteen
Devils and Dust Tour

Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI 
3rd August 2005
Released 2nd February

The 2005 Devils and Dust Tour were solo shows, without the collective safety net of the E Street Band, found Springsteen at his most spontaneous and fearless, not merely adding unusual songs to set lists, but often performing them in a one-of-a-kind manner. In fact, over the course of the tour’s 72 shows, Bruce assayed a whopping 139 different songs, 42 of which were played but once or twice. One could say the tour’s unspoken motto was: I do not play these songs often. I have not played them on this instrument. I may not play them this way again.

As a fan I was not always so taken with a lot of the reinterpretations of the familiar songs but I have to applaud the man for being brave enough to spend a whole tour doing just that whilst also performing songs from the Devils and Dust album. This was not my favourite release of the year from the Archives.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Born In The U.S.A. Tour

Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ
20th August 1984
Released 2nd March

The final night of a ten night stand at Brendan Byrne Arena and a compliment to the previous Archive release, the opening night from the 5th August 1984 (one of the first batch of Archive shows to be released back in 2015).

Steven Van Zandt returns as do The Miami Horns and this particular show is regarded as one of the best of the BITUSA Tour. There's an absolute beauty of a cover as Bruce and Steve sing 'Drift Away'.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Magic Tour

TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA
19th November 2007
Released 6th April

Eight songs from the Magic album are featured in the set in Boston on the last show of 2007 and what would be the final full gig for long standing E Street member Danny Federici. It had been announced that The Phantom would not be staying with the band as they embarked on the European leg of The Magic Tour as he was staying behind to receive treatment for melanoma. The following March in Indianapolis Danny would make a final appearence with the E Street Band and sadly passed away 17th April 2008. Whilst Indianapolis was a goodbye to The Phantom, this Boston show is a celebration of the man, Danny Federici. Well worth hearing. 

This would be second on the list of my favourites from the Archive Releases in 2018.

Bruce Springsteen
Benefit Concert
St. Rose of Lima Gymnasium, Freehold, NJ
8th November 1996
Released 4th May 

A show in a gymnasium with the audience made up of residents who lived in Freehold, family and friends and of course Priests and Nuns who had served at the School down through the years. This was the school that Bruce attended as a youngster! Some homecoming!

The show is made up of songs that he had recently been performing as part of The Tom Joad Tour with a few additions, including a debut for a song called Freehold. A moment of hilarity was when Springsteen asks Can you sing about cunnilingus while standing inside your Catholic school? I talked to Father McCarron,” Bruce assures. “He said, ‘I’m not sure.’ “I took that as a yes….The Pope says, ‘I can’t, but you go right ahead

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Working On A Dream Tour

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
9th November 2009
Released 1st June

Having released the whole of The River Tour 2016 it was a bit surprising that they released this one from the Archives but who's gonna argue with what essentially was the first performance of The River album in sequence at the Garden.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Darkness At The Edge of Town Tour (slight detour!)
The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA
7th July 1978
Released 6th July

On the day Springsteen was playing at the The Forum in Los Angeles (5th July 1978) at his first headlining arena show an annoucement was made that he would be playing for under 500 people on the Friday at The Roxy and tickets would go on sale on the Thursday at noon. Some who left The Forum headed straight to the line that was forming outside the club to hopefully try and grab a ticket. More than half the folks who did so would be disappointed because the estimates of over a 1,000 people were waiting overnight for the Box Office to open!

This show at The Roxy would be Springsteen's first club gig in awhile and the good news was that it was going to be broadcast on the Radio (the first of five shows on Darkness Tour to be beamed out across the airwaves). It kicks off with Rave On (my all-time favourite song) and there are debuts for future album tracks Point Blank and Independence Day.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
The River Tour 1981

Wembley Arena, London, England
5th June 1981
Released 3rd August

Six shows were played at Wembley Arena on the original River Tour and these were rescheduled dates after the Bruce took some time off due to exhaustion.This is the final night of the stand. Includes the debut of 'JolΓ© Blon'.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Reunion Tour

United Center Chicago, IL
30th September 1999
Released 7th September

The Reunion Tour, the moment that every Springsteen fan worldwide had been longing for. This is the final night of three in Chicago and the last show of the first leg of the U.S. Tour. I love this one because it opens with one of my favourites 'Take 'Em As They Come'.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
The Rising Tour

Olympiastadion, Helsinki, Finland
16th June 2003
Released 4th October

One of the first shows from The Rising Tour to be released under the Archive banner and it's a wee beauty as well. A twenty five song setlist that draws a large number of songs from The Rising album as well as some songs from Born in the U.S.A., and some beautiful playing from the likes of Nils Lofgren and Soozie Tyrell.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Wrecking Ball Tour

First Direct Arena, Leeds, England
24th July 2013
Released 9th November

This surely has to be one of his best UK shows ever I reckon (You can watch a video of the whole performance here). Kicking off with a blistering version of Roulette there are so many highlights that follow: Local Hero with the E Street Horns adding weight to the song, ThundercrackSecret Garden, Bad Moon Rising and Gotta Get That Feeling (an outtake from the Darkness at the Edge of Town sessions).

Of all the releases from the Archives this one is my particular favourite of the year.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Born To Run Tour

The Roxy, West Hollywood, CA
18th October 1975
Released 7th December

Between 16th to the 19th October Bruce Springsteen and the E Street settled in for six shows over the course of that four days in Hollywood. I think these were his first ever headlining shows in Los Angeles.

What we have here is Night 3 and the early show. Playing to a crowd of folk who maybe had never seen him before it's amazing to hear how he draws them into the songs and leaves them shouting for more come the end. It's quality stuff and you can hear in this set alone just how he was able to go on to far great things and play much bigger places.

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