Friday, November 8, 2019

KISS - Larger Than Life

[I finally cleared some space in my Mega account. I have a small handful of projects to post and one special project in the works but that won't be ready for some time yet. I'll try to space the new posts out in hopes the new one will be ready by then but I can't promise.]

In late 1977 KISS released their second live album, KISS Alive II, only 2 years and three studio albums after their previous live album Alive!. Because of the close release dates between the live albums they decided that the second album should only contain songs from the last three albums which led to not having enough songs for a full two vinyl disc set. To fix this they recorded five new songs and put those on side four making the album a three sides live one studio.

What if instead of the live album they just put out a new album. This is my answer to that question.

Side One
01 All American Man
02 Rockin' In The USA
03 Larger Than Life
04 Rocket Ride
05 Goodbye

Side Two
01 Burning Up With Fever
02 Wiped Out
03 Tossin' And Turnin'
04 Living In Sin
05 Wouldn't You Like Me To Know

Reality Notes

1977 saw KISS transform from the lean, hungry and mean underdog band from New York into the superstar household names often referred to as SuperKISS. After Alive II they released a best of package, the solo albums and two more studio albums before SuperKISS was brought down and humbled. During this time they relesed a disco single and the average age of their concert attendees went from 18-20 down to 12-16.

For this comp I took the studio songs from Alive II and fleshed them out with the leftovers from the solo albums. I did drop one song, a cover of The Dave Clark Five's Anyway You Want It. I replaced that with another cover, Tossin' and Turnin' which was a part of their setlist in 1979, from Peter's solo album to give him a vocal. KISS have done covers before but never more than one per album. It's for this reason I did not use New York Groove from Ace's solo album. We do have two Ace songs.

I tried to pick the most KISS sounding songs from what was left from the solo albums after my 1978 construction. What's left is truly scraping the bottom of the barrel. The final result is quite enjoyable and sits in nice between Love Gun and Radioactive.

For the cover I reconstructed the Alive II album cover with the new title.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

New Blog

I started another blog. Something simple enough that I could knock out a few posts on a whim. Basically each post is a list of songs that I most identify with a band or artist in Fifteen Songs or Less. Feel free to play along.

This blog is not dead. I have a few projects done that I want to post but my Mega account is almost full. I use it for this blog and my Beatles blog and as a transfer point of reference mixes for bands I work with. So, because I'm too cheap to spend a little cash and upgrade to a paid account, I have to open another free account and transfer some files. And because I'm a lazy bastard that just started a new job with no computer access I'm not sure when I'll get around to that.

[My uncle painted the picture]

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Pearhead Bootleg Sampler

So last night my band played at Milwaukee's Summerfest. We don't play out too often so I attempted to record the show with a Zoom H4n recorder and was going to post that here if it turned out OK but something failed and all I have is the first minute of soundcheck. We did film it so hopefully that turned out.

We didn't have any physical CDs to sell so we threw together a sampler CDR to give away. Here is a rip of that CDR. It contains four songs each from our two albums and four songs from our upcoming album. We used those cool CDRs that look like a vinyl LP and slipped them into plain black CD sleeves and just handed them out to who ever wanted one.

From the album Barefoot on a Gravel Road
01 Remember Love
02 Red White and Blue
03 Getto Song
04 Feather In Her Hat

From the album Mainstreet Barbershop
05 Temptation
06 Willow
07 Going Nowhere
08 Buddha Dog [slow version]

From the upcoming album TooKens
09 Fishin' Boat
10 Illusions
11 Same Ol' Song
12 More More More

The title TooKens is a play on the fact that our two principle songwriters are named Ken. You can listen to all of our music at our ReverbNation page. We also did a covers album under the name Mighty Man which was fun.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Status Report

As you may have noticed I haven't been vary active lately. Time has been limited and ideas have been few. I do have a couple projects in the works but I'm taking my time with them. At my peak I always seemed to have a few projects done and on deck. It has been interesting to watch the weekly Top 5 list change from day to day and readership seems to be steady so thanks to all of you still stopping by.

In an effort to keep things alive around here I'll be adding another feature. I will be going through each post and add a section called Hindsight. Starting with my first post and working my way up to the present, both here and on my Beatles blog, I'll give a short review on how I feel the project has stood up, how it might be different if I made the construction today and if the project has made its way onto my iPod.

It is rare that I would redo a project so don't expect actual updates but if something is easy to fix I'll include the how and why. For the most part I am happy with at least 90% of the work I have posted. Any changes are most likely related to song choices and track order.

Since my 160gb iPod died I have been using my old 30gb which means space is a bit more tight so a comp has to be special to make it on there. To maximize my walking around music I make my own "best of" comps of 5 to 20 songs for artists that I am either not familiar with their whole catalog or those that have huge discographies but only a handful of songs I find appealing. Others I have my favorite albums with a best of the rest comp. There are a few groups that I have all studio albums on there but to reduce redundant songs I leave the live albums off.

A reader recently contacted me about my ELP concept that I introduced in my last posts and asked if they could run with the idea for their own projects. I was fine with it and gave them the OK and I am looking forward to seeing what they do with it. But it got me thinking about double albums and the ELP format in general. I've discussed my feelings about double albums many times here so I won't repeat myself but I am not as militant about it as I seem to be. Many double albums will fit on a single CD thus they will fit in the ELP format. A single CD is easier to deal with than two. My vision is any album between 50 and 70 minutes I would consider an ELP. I'll discuss any construction here that may apply in my Hindsight feature.

So stay tuned, There is more to come. In the meantime, keep checking in and be sure to visit my friends on the blogroll on the right. We all have different tastes and methods so I know you can find some great stuff from them. I know I have. Share the love. Play hard but play safe.

The cover art for this post is the cover for my band's upcoming release. We are an indy-indy basement band that records in my home project studio on the weekends so work goes slow but the new album is getting closer to being done. When it's finished we will release it on ReverbNation and on our website and hopefully on Spotify. We give our music away for free so download all you want. We all have decent day jobs so no need to complicate things. I'll post it here as well.

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Beatles - The BEATLES I

So, dig this. In 1966 they introduced a new music format called "Laser Read Music Delivery System" or LRMDS for short. The music industry in general was hesitant to try a new format but the classical and jazz industries quickly embraced the medium for its clean sound, its ability to hold longer playback times and the elimination of the need to turn the disc over halfway through. But not before renaming the format to the Extended Long Player or ELP for short. [Many years later, uninformed journalists often would misquote a certain popular Prog band claimimg this as the origin of their band's name. Silly journalists.]

The pop market was slow to catch on to the format due to its higher cost for the consumer. But as 60s consciousness expanded and pop groups became pop artists the format's appeal grew. Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde was tailor made and specifically targeted to the ELP. Frank Zappa exploited the format to its limits on a regular basis.

The first Beatles product released on the format was when Capitol decided to expand EMI's Magical Mystery Tour double EP soundtrack to fit on the ELP adding all the non-LP singles and B-sides not yet released in any long playing format.

But in 1968 The Beatles themselves decided to see how far they could push the format and released not one but two separate but simultaneously recorded ELPs. Averaging 70 minutes each the record companies were worried that the buying public would feel overwhelmed by such an abundance of music from one artist all in one go. But of course Beatles fans couldn't get enough of it.

The contents of each album was a wide cross section of the band's influences stripped of the psychedelia of the past year we got everything from soft folk songs to rousing sing-a-longs to weird abstract soundscapes and straight up rockers, most likely an after effect from their recent meditation retreat in India. Two abbreviated LPs were also released for those on a tighter budget.

Eventually debates and discussions arose over which collection was the better one or whether or not two sets were even necessary. Some fans even went so far as to compile their own single ELP versions.  Imagine that.

01 Back in the USSR
02 Dear Prudence
03 Glass Onion
04 Sour Milk Sea
05 Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
06 Wild Honey Pie
07 The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
08 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
09 Happiness Is a Warm Gun
10 Los Paranoias
11 Martha My Dear
12 I'm So Tired
13 Blackbird
14 Revolution
15 Piggies
16 Hey Bulldog
17 Rocky Raccoon
18 What's The New Mary Jane
19 Circles
20 Don't Pass Me By
21 Why Don't We Do It In The Road
22 I Will
23 Julia

Reality Notes

I go into a little more detail in the post for part two below. I used the 2009 stereo remaster as my base and for the most part kept the songs in their original order and slipped the new songs where I felt they fit in. The sources for the additional material mostly comes from the 2018 deluxe package unless otherwise noted. I also followed George Martin's plan of not having more than two songs in a row by a single writer, George's songs are spread out evenly between the two discs and all of the "animal" songs are on one disc.

Songs and edits of note are as follows:

Sour Milk Sea: This outfake comes from the 22 disc bootleg series The Lost Album. This is one of the better versions of this outfake that syncs George's Esher demo with the backing track from the Jackie Lomax version that George produced and features Paul on bass and Ringo on drums as well as Eric Clapton on guitar.

Los Paranoias: This is my edit of the impromptu jam between Paul, John and Ringo recorded during the I Will session. This is a new edit and is different from the edit I did on my Paul solo album version.

Revolution is the single version (Hey Jude appears on the second disc).

Hey Bulldog: This was recorded before the trip to India along with Across The Universe during the Lady Madonna sessions so could be considered outside the timeline but the Beatles didn't like to leave things in the can and in spite of it being slated for use in the upcoming animated film they also used it here.

What's The New Mary Jane is the Anthology mix.

Circles is the Esher demo.

Don't Pass Me By: I prefaced this song with the A Beginning orchestral piece as originally intended. I transitioned from one to the next by having the piano intro of the song start to appear while the orchestra is winding down creating a nice natural join of the two parts.

Why Don't We Do It In The Road: I prefaced this song with an additional verse from the previous take to extend the song a little bit more. This is a recreation of the edit I did to the song on my solo album version.

Where ever appropriate I created transitions between the songs to match the flow between songs on the original release.

The Beatles - The BEATLES II

Released on the same day as its sister ELP, The BEATLES II was another full collection of songs covering the same range of styles as its companion album.

While containing fewer songs, this disc is actually longer than the first disc. Two tracks here are almost epic in length. Hey Jude is 7:12  and Revolution 19 clocks in at 10:32!

While initially the more popular of the two albums, most fans would eventually purchase both sets to even out the sales. Future editions would package the two discs together along with bonus discs of out takes and demos.

01 Helter Skelter
02 Yer Blues
03 Mother Nautre's Son
04 Not Guilty
05 Junk
06 Sexy Sadie
07 While My Guitar Gently Weeps II
08 Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
09 Birthday
10 Hey Jude
11 Long, Long, Long
12 Heather
13 Honey Pie
14 Child Of Nature
15 Across the Universe
16 Savoy Truffle
17 Cry Baby Cry
18 Can You Take Me Back?
19 Revolution 19
20 Good Night

Reality Notes

A big shout out and infinite thanks go to SonicLoveNoise for his amazing sync up of the full version of Revolution 1 and Revolution 9 to create his Revolution 19, without which this comp would not have come out as good. The syncing of the two songs transformed the track from an abstract soundscape to a long freak out jam. He created this mashup for his recent April 1 post of a crazy single WA disc. Please go there and check his blog out. He has some wonderful constructions and his attention to detail is impressive.

This project is my attempt to expand the White Album by including everything of note possible in as a polished and complete form as I could. As with many of my constructions I did more than just compile the tracks. I did many edits and transitions to create a flow to match the original album and dropped no tracks other than the merging of Rev 1 and Rev 9 (thanks again Sonic).

At the heart of this comp is the White Album we all know and love and debate and argue about and bond over. I kept the original tracks for the most part in their original order slipping in new songs where appropriate. I did extend a few songs but refrained from using any alternate versions such as the earlier version of Ob-La-Di which I think is just as good. The idea was to expand the album rather than change it up completely. Think of it as an extended movie director's cut with all the deleted scenes put back in.

Songs and edits of note are as follows:

Not Guilty: Take 102 from the 2018 remix bonus disc.

Junk: This is an edit I did for my Paul '68 solo album. I took the instrumental version from the McCartney album and slipped the vocal version inside it to extend the song to over three minutes. Even though this was recorded in 1970, the primitive way Paul recorded the tracks at home helps it fit in with the '68 tracks.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps II: This is the Love version of George's demo with George Martin's orchestral score. The first of two repeated titles across both albums but both alternates are so different they can coexist. This is one of the elements passed down from the Use Your Illusion timeline as those albums each contained a different version of Don't Cry.

Hey Jude: The single version. Maybe having the full version on a record they would have edited the single version down some.

Heather: From a tape of Paul and Donovan trading songs. While not from the WA sessions themselves, it is contemporary so why not include it? We have the room. I did do some cleaning and editing to polish it up a bit.

Child Of Nature: This is my enhanced Esher Demo. Normally when I do these I have all of the songs in front of me in a sequencer. The program I use is flexible enough to do some simple but creative editing but this song and Goodnight were worked on individually before being brought into the project as a whole. The editing I was doing wasn't anything complicated but became frustrating when in the context of the full project. I added more birds from Across The Universe which follows the song and flew in some crashing waves from my sound effects library for the intro. This song was later reworked by John for the Imagine album as Jealous Guy. A better song for sure but this is still an interesting listen.

Across the Universe: I used the Wildlife version from Past Masters but transitioned the song out of the previous song by having the bird sounds before they take off appear during the fade out of Child of Nature.

Can You Take Me Back?: I took a bigger chunk from the full take one to justify its own track listing.

Revolution 19: Sonic's masterpiece. This was the catalyst for this comp (the story came later). I was perfectly happy to enjoy the 2018 deluxe White Album and everybody else's constructions until I heard this. By syncing up Revolution 9 with Revolution 1, we were able to eliminate a redundancy that allowed us to include the single version on disc one and improve the overall flow of both discs. Without this we would have to make a choice on which Revolution to eliminate (most likely keeping the single version as a single only and moving Rev 1 to disc one) even if No. 9 sounds little like the song it was built upon.

Good Night: I added on the guitar version with harmonies before seguing into the finished orchestral version extending the song to over three and a half minutes.

This is now my preferred way to listen to The White Album. Even though we have more music, by separating the tracks into two groups makes for a more manageable listen to me. I liken it to having a double scoop ice cream cone taken away from me but given back two full bowls. And thanks to the 2018 remixes of the Esher demos which, while still rough, improved them enough that I felt no qualms including the ones I did. In fact I feel they fit in nicely in this format.

I modeled the covers on the original of course but now we have a white album and a black album.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Beatles - Rubber Soul - 1965

This post pushes the "What if" motif of this blog to it's limits. Even more, I suspect that it will raise an eyebrow or two of those that are familiar with my opinion of double albums but this story was too good to let it pass me by (no pun intended Ringo).

In 1965 The Beatles came off the road to work on new material and begin filming their next, still untitled movie. During the long days of filming the boys spent their downtime "having a laugh" and writing more songs. By the time they finished filming they had more than enough songs for an album with seven songs to be used in the movie and by the time they finished recording they had more than 20 more songs to deal with. Combined with the songs from the movie they had over 30 songs!

George Martin's plan was to let United Artists have the soundtrack songs and release another album, one or two EPs and some singles over time but the boys had other plans. Using their newfound clout as England's biggest hit-makers they managed to convince EMI/Parlophone to release everything as a double album!

In spite of its size, this comp will fit on a single CD.

Side One
1 I've Just Seen A Face
2 Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
3 Think For Yourself
4 The Word
5 It's Only Love
6 Girl
7 In My Life
8 I'm Looking Through You

Side Two
1 Nowhere Man
2 You're Going To Lose That Girl
3 You Like Me Too Much
4 Michelle
5 If You've Got Trouble
6 You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
7 Drive My Car

Side Three
1 Day Tripper
2 What Goes On
3 Wait
4 Run For Your Life
5 If I Needed Someone
6 Another Girl
7 The Night Before
8 We Can Work It Out

Side Four
1 Dizzy Miss Lizzy
2 You Won't See Me
3 That Means a Lot
4 Act Naturally
5 Tell Me What You See
6 I Need You
7 Yesterday

Reality Notes

I have heard George Harrison say that Rubber Soul and Revolver are sister albums. Personally, I have always connected Rubber Soul with the Help! album. The two albums have a similar feel and production. Especially as someone who grew up with the US version of Rubber Soul, hands down my favorite Beatles album and the only one which I prefer the US version over the UK version. If they had replaced Michelle (my least favorite Beatles song) with something else it would have been perfect.

My one big complaint is the length. The US albums always clock in at around 30 minutes. Because of this I started to expand the album by reinstating the songs Capitol removed and adding more songs from the Help! album. It was while listening to my latest version that this story started to emerge.

I used the 2009 mono remasters as my baseline. Previous versions used the stereo mixes but due to the odd mixing of putting vocals on one side and instruments on the other, I would always switch the playback to mono, especially if I was working nearer to one speaker than the other in my listening room.

I did use the US stereo version of I'm Looking Through You to have the false start but folded the song down to mono to fit in with the rest. When the original CDs were released I never even noticed that the false start was not there. My brain filled it in for me every time. I also included the two outtakes from the Help! sessions, If You Got Trouble and That Means A Lot and included an unlisted snippet of 12 Bar Original for good measure.

Side one is my condensed version of the US Rubber Soul. This is the core of the album to me and the sequence that evokes the greatest amount of nostalgia when listening. From there I sequenced each side for maximum flow and impact as well as making sure that each side would flow into the next on CD.

I kept Help!/I'm Down and Ticket To Ride/Yes It Is aside for non-LP singles. We Can Work It Out/Dizzy Miss Lizzy are still released as a single on the same day as the double LP. The Yesterday and Nowhere Man EPs are still released as planned to give the buyers a choice.

This post is more than a simple "what if" scenario. The idea here is to take a timeline and lay it on top of another timeline to see how one affects the other. The two timelines do not have to be from the same person or band. In essence, I take one or two elements from the overlay and apply it to the current events.

I have another project like this one where I lay the timeline of the recording of G'N'R's Use Your Illusion over the events of the White Album. This project takes the events from the time The Beatles went to Rishi Kesh through the completion of the White Album and layers them on top of the events from the filming of Help! to the completion of Rubber Soul. The elements from '68 that are shadowed in '65 are the downtime of Rishi Kesh and the glut of songs that led to a double album.