Saturday, June 27, 2009

time of outtakes: R.E.M. 1990 demos

Apologies, if you're not into it, for the heavy R.E.M. content of late on the PoIT. Try as I might, R.E.M. is one of those bands your humble blogger keeps coming back to, being one of the touchstones of his music history/collection.

Hope everyone enjoyed the 1983 Larry's Hideaway set - it was a great choice for the live set to complement the album itself for the Murmur Deluxe Edition, regardless of how it was presented on the release.

Moving 7 years forward, 1990 saw the band regrouping from an exhausting year's worth of global touring, in support of 1988's Green LP (their Warner Bros. debut). Having planned an extensive rest period following the tour's end in November 1989, instead January 1990 found the three musicians regrouping in their Athens, GA rehearsal space and starting the songwriting cycle up afresh. As Peter Buck said, "it's what we do".

Heartily sick of their traditional instruments after 10 years of almost exclusively playing them night after night, the three musicians decided to try out those instruments they'd be staring at over the top of their own, night after night. So instead of Peter Buck sticking exclusively to guitars, Bill Berry drums, and Mike Mills bass, they'd often end up in odd permutations such as Berry on bass, Mills on organ and Buck on drums. And vice versa. As time wore on, they'd often migrate back to their traditional roles, but in the end, when Mills played bass on the resulting recording sessions for the LP, he would more often than not be playing bass lines originated by Berry (or Buck).

Now and then, the band would enter John Keane's studio in Athens to demo the tracks they'd been working on, with singer Michael Stipe taking this opportunity to try out his planned vocals, or just wordlessly wail along to give a melody idea while he wrote the lyrics. Usually these recordings just stayed demos, but now and then, they'd come up with a recording so good it'd end up on the resulting LP, nearly untouched ("Country Feedback"). Other times, they'd keep the backing tracks as recorded for the demo, and finish it up later in the "real" studio when recording the rest of the LP ("Endgame").

R.E.M. often had a problem with keeping their demos under wraps. Demos for every record between 1981 and 1990, barring 1985's demo session with Joe Boyd prior to recording Fables of the Reconstruction, have leaked out of their clutches. No different is this set of demos, essaying songs written for the 1991 LP Out Of Time.

These songs have been available in various permutations over the years, all unofficially. Some sources are better sound quality than others, and some sources more complete than others. The best source, quality-wise, happens to be a bootleg CD entitled Time of Outtakes, from which I've drawn the majority of the material presented here.

However, rather than just rip the CD, I've decided to reassemble the tracks in the order the resulting LP used, which makes it much more of an interesting listen. You hear mostly (musically) fully-realized tracks, with either Stipe's guide vocals on top, in varying states of completion ("Losing My Religion" is nearly complete, for example, while "Me In Honey" is just wordless wailing to the melody line). Other tracks such as "Texarkana" are unique to this release - in this case, "Texarkana" features Stipe's original lyrics and singing, while the LP version famously is all Mike Mills and entirely different lyrics.

Additionally, there were another eight or so tracks not released on the resulting LP, which I've sequenced to follow the album tracklisting. We have the second, electric version of "Radio Song" which more resembles the final album version than the first-demoed acoustic variant, and we have tracks such as "Forty Second Song" which did end up seeing release - this very recording of it - as B-sides, et cetera. In actuality, "Forty Second Song" presented here is actually taken from the "Shiny Happy People" CD single, hence its quality being crystalline - as opposed to the nearly-crystalline quality of the rest of the tracks.

So enjoy!

- - - - -

Out Of Time demo recordings / outtakes
John Keane Studios, Athens, GA 1990

01 Radio Song (soft)
02 Losing My Religion
03 Low
04 Near Wild Heaven
05 Endgame
06 Shiny Happy People
07 Belong
08 Half A World Away
09 Texarkana
10 Country Feedback
11 Me In Honey

- - - end LP tracklisting - - -

12 Forty Second Song
13 Radio Song (hard)
14 Fretless (instrumental)
15 It's A Free World, Baby
16 Here I Am Again (Kerouac No. 4)
17 Night Swim
18 Speed Metal
19 Sugar Cane

Of these recordings, three were released officially:
-- "Country Feedback" on the album, with only a single word re-recorded, as far as I can tell
-- "Low" in 2005 as a B-side to "Wanderlust", however the quality is much worse than this!
-- "Forty Second Song" as a B-side to "Shiny Happy People" in 1991

The following tracks saw re-recorded versions released:
-- "Fretless" with lyrics partially drawn from "Here I Am Again", on 1991's Until The End Of The World soundtrack
-- "It's A Free World, Baby" on 1993's Coneheads soundtrack
-- "Here I Am Again" as an instrumental, recorded by Mike Mills in a Minneapolis basilica, retitled "Organ Song" and released as a B-side to "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite" in 1993
-- "Sugar Cane" as an instrumental, retitled "Mandolin Strum", released as a B-side to "Everybody Hurts" in 1993

grab 'em below, two RAR files you need to download:
Part I
Part II

Sunday, June 21, 2009

R.E.M. 9 July 1983 Larry's Hideaway - lossless

Nothing "new" this week as people are still enjoying the recent New Order / Joy Division materials and I don't want to overload the teeming millions with legendary, quality stuff (not to say I have anything further of the sort)...

But as promised, here's the complete, remastered R.E.M. 9 July 1983 gig originally discussed here on this very same blog (but as mp3), as lossless FLAC this time.

Are you listening, R.E.M./Athens LLC (and Capitol/EMI)? You can swap out CD2 from the Murmur reissue with this and make everyone happy!

And pigs will fly.


9 July 1983
Larry's Hideaway
Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Reassembled and Remastered from two sources:
1) Rising bootleg silver CD
2) 2nd CD in Murmur Deluxe Edition

Includes songs not broadcast on Toronto radio, and not included on the Murmurs reissue!

01 Wolves, Lower
02 Moral Kiosk
03 Laughing
04 Pilgrimage
05 Moon River
06 There She Goes Again
07 Seven Chinese Brothers
08 Talk About The Passion
09 Sitting Still
10 Harborcoat
11 Catapult
12 Pretty Persuasion
13 Gardening At Night
14 9-9
15 Just A Touch
16 West Of The Fields
17 Radio Free Europe
18 We Walk
19 1,000,000
20 Carnival Of Sorts (Boxcars)

Tracks 1/2/5/12 were not included on the "official" version.

Grab all 5 parts - it's a must!

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

And Track 17 by itself - if you get a message that Track 17 in the above RAR files is corrupt, download this. Should verify just fine with the .md5 signature included in the RAR files....

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Joy Division 28 Sept 1979 The Factory, Hulme (soundboard)

Not much to say. Featured today is a previously-unknown (partial) recording of Joy Division's 28 Sept. 1979 gig at the Factory, Hulme, recorded from the mixing desk and presented in lossless FLAC for your pleasure.

This is the legendary gig where Hooky thumped an audience member with his bass and stormed off the stage - unfortunately, this moment is not captured on this recording.

This gig features the original set of lyrics Ian Curtis wrote for "Colony" and as a whole, is stellar sounding. Note that for whatever reason the mixing itself changes from wide stereo to mostly mono (but with effects spread across the stereo soundstage) about halfway through the tape, perhaps the mixing desk guy was having problems with the mix? Who knows but it isn't really noticeable except in headphones, and even then doesn't detract from the gig whatsoever.

Presented warts and all (several slight dropouts here and there, likely due to tape age and/or poor quality tape used in 1979 in the mixing desk), enjoy!

01 - Twenty Four Hours (detail, soundcheck)
02 - Atmosphere (fades in)
03 - Wilderness
04 - Shadowplay
05 - Insight
06 - Colony
07 - Twenty Four Hours (fades out, incomplete)

Please note that track 1, the soundcheck track, is not a mixing desk recording, but the gig itself is. Don't let Track 1 fool you....

Part I / Part II
(gotta grab both parts!)

"Colony", lyrics from here (as best I can make out):
Afraid to walk, afraid to look behind
Afraid to talk, afraid I'll fall in line
Hope to find some friends to maybe lead astray
Maybe make some plans to achieve the one with day (?)

Can you hear me, can you spare the time?
No apologies for all these thoughts were mine
My brother taught I had to take the blame
Now I'm sitting here to make my great escape

I can't see why all these complications
I can't see why all these dislocations
No family life just makes me feel uneasy
Lying here inside this colony

In this colony
In this colony
In this colony
In this colony

May god and his wisdom take you by the hand
God and his wisdom made you understand

May god and his wisdom take you by the hand
God and his wisdom made you understand

God and his wisdom took you by the hand
Your god and his wisdom made you understand

Your god and his wisdom took you by the hand
Your god and his wisdom made you understand

In this colony
In this colony
In this colony
In this colony

Sunday, June 7, 2009

unplugged: New Order's Bernard Sumner

In 2007 legendary bassist Peter Hook announced he was leaving New Order, leaving singer/guitarist Bernard Sumner and drummer Steve Morris in the lurch. No reason ever was given.

After some hemming-and-hawing over the New Order name, word escaped that Sumner and Morris had a new project called Bad Lieutenant and would be writing/releasing new music under that name. People said "ummm, OK".

In March 2009 Sky Arts in the UK featured Bernard Sumner on their recurring series "Songbook" that blends MTV/VH1's "Storytellers" and "Unplugged" series into a narrative interview with several acoustic performances interspersed.

Bernard, backed by guitarists Phil Cunningham and Jake Evans, performed 4 tracks "unplugged" - just acoustic guitars and Bernard's legendary voice.

That's not that impressive in and of itself - the thought of New Order tracks unplugged just doesn't really jibe, if you know what I mean - but it turns out Bernard turned in one of his most inspired performances ever.

Not only that, but it was the first public airing of a Bad Lieutenant track, which I'll get to shortly.

What was played? Well, you've come to the right place!

1) "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Joy Division, 1979)
High-bitrate, high-quality mp3

Three acoustic guitars, no "whooping" from Bernard. Perhaps the best non-Joy Division performance of this song, ever. Really really good performance, perfectly suited for Bernard in this interpretation.

High-quality YouTube footage

- - -

2) "Bizarre Love Triangle" (New Order, 1986)
High-bitrate, high-quality mp3

Oddly I'd never imagined this song in an acoustic setting, but it works, and it's fantastic. Of course I'm discounting Frente!'s version but I don't really count that....

High-quality YouTube footage

- - -

3) "Getting Away With It" (Electronic, 1989)
High-bitrate, high-quality mp3

The debut Electronic single (the side project that Bernard started with Johnny Marr in the late 1980s), never before heard in an acoustic setting. Again, a stellar performance, and it really gets to the root of the melody. And when Jake comes in with a fairly spot-on Johnny Marr imitation in the solo, it's really something else.... I would have to say this is the best version of this song I've EVER heard, no question.

High-quality YouTube footage

- - -

4) "Sink Or Swim" (Bad Lieutenant, 2009)
High-bitrate, high-quality mp3

The first public airing of this brand-new Bad Lieutenant track, this is REALLY good. Interestingly, the main guitar motif suggests a possible Peter Hook bassline, which makes this even more poignant. Stellar, stellar stuff, and a fantastic teaser for any further upcoming efforts....

High-quality YouTube footage

- - -

On YouTube you can also find the interview segments, but I'll leave that for you guys to get. I just wanted to feature the music... ;)