Wednesday, 14 July 2010

a-ha reissue first two albums in blaze of glory

Having told the world that after 25 years they were going to go gentle into that good night, a-ha are chucking out a few gems to us just to remind us exactly who they were before they hang up their instruments for good.

First out the gate is expanded reissues of their first two albums 1984's Hunting High and Low and 1986's Scoundrel Days.

While I always viewed Scoundrel Days with indifference (although I loved singles "Manhattan Skyline" and "I've Been Losing You"), I was always a massive fan of Hunting High and Low. I really enjoyed a lot of the material on there, especially the forgotten single - "Train of Thought"  - and some of the other album cuts like "The Blue Sky" and "Dream Myself Alive". It was competently produced and well written pop sung in very accent free English.

The reissue of Hunting takes the album's original 10 tracks and bolts on 31 bonus tracks. This spans the musical gamut of remixes, b-sides, demos, early versions, the works. While there's 5 versions of breakout hit "Take on Me" from original pre-album release to the 1982 demo when it was called "Lesson One", there's also an album's worth of unreleased material.

I have to say, a few of these bonus tracks really start to wear at the sheen of the original album. As with most demo material, the curtain is pulled back a bit on the magic of the final released product as you hear wrong chords, incomplete lyrics and other "not for public consumption" out bursts that really make a demo a demo.

Most of the material on the second disc is pretty forgettable and listening to it make me actually question what it was about the original album that I liked in the first place. Probably not the reaction you want as a band OR a record label putting this stuff out.

However, the remixes for the singles as well as the novelty of the original version of "Take On Me" are always worth a listen as is the demo for "The Blue Sky" (and not just because it's one of my favourite songs on the album).

The band have booked into Royal Albert Hall in October to play the album in its entirety as part of their farewell tour. Here's hoping for everyone's bums' sake they stick to the original album and not the 41 tracks that comprise this release... there may need to be a few intermissions otherwise.

Here's the track listing in full:

1. “Take On Me”
2. “Train Of Thought”
3. “Hunting High And Low”
4. “The Blue Sky”
5. “Living A Boy’s Adventure Tale”
6. “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.”
7. “And You Tell Me”
8. “Love Is Reason”
9. “I Dream Myself Alive”
10. “Here I Stand And Face The Rain”

Bonus Tracks
11. “Take On Me” (Original 7” Version 1984)
12. “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.” (Extended Mix)
13. “Train Of Thought” (U.S. Mix)
14. “Hunting High And Low” (Extended Remix)

1. “Take On Me” (Demo)
2. “Train Of Thought” (Demo)*
3. “Hunting High And Low (Demo)*
4. “The Blue Sky” (Demo)
5. “Living A Boy’s Adventure Tale” (Early Version)*
6. “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.” (Demo)*
7. “And You Tell Me” (Demo)
8. “Love Is Reason” (Demo)*
9. “I Dream Myself Alive” (Demo)*
10. “Here I Stand And Face The Rain” (Demo)*
11. “Stop And Make Your Mind Up”
12. “Driftwood”
13. “Dot The I”*
14. “The Love Goodbye”
15. “Nothing To It”*
16. “Go To Sleep”
17. “Monday Mourning”
18. “All The Planes That Come In On The Quiet” *
19. “Never Never”
20. “What’s That You’re Doing To Yourself”*
21. “You Have Grown Thoughtful Again”*
22. “Lesson One” (Autumn 1982 “Take On Me” Demo)*
23. “Presenting Lily Mars”

Here's the Scoundrel Days track listing:
1.  “Scoundrel Days”
2. “The Swing Of Things”
3. “I’ve Been Losing You”
4. “October”
5. “Manhattan Skyline”
6. “Cry Wolf”
7. “We’re Looking For The Whales”
8. “The Weight Of The Wind”
9. “Maybe, Maybe”
10. “Soft Rains Of April”

Bonus Tracks
11. “I’ve Been Losing You” (Extended Version)
12. “Cry Wolf” (Extended Version)
13. “Manhattan Skyline” (Extended Version)

1. “Scoundrel Days” (Demo)*
2. “The Swing Of Things” (Demo #3)*
3. “I’ve Been Losing You” (Octocon Studio Demo)*
4. “October” (Demo)*
5. “Manhattan Skyline” (Demo)*
6. “Cry Wolf” (Demo)*
7. “We’re Looking For The Whales” (Demo)*
8. “The Weight Of The Wind” (Demo)*
9. “Maybe, Maybe” (Demo)*
10. “Soft Rains Of April” (Guitar Version)*
11. “Scoundrel Days” (Octocon Studio Demo)*
12. “This Alone Is Love” (Original Version)
13. “Days On End” (Demo)
14. “Train of Thought” (Live In Croydon)*
15. “I’ve Been Losing You” (Live In Croydon)*
16. “The Blue Sky” (Live In Croydon)*
17. “Looking for The Whales” (Live In Croydon)
18. “Cry Wolf” (Live In Croydon)*

Tracks marked with * are previously unreleased.

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Morrissey reissues on the way - Bona Drag up first

Cover of "Bona Drag"Cover of Bona Drag
We've known for a while that most of the EMI owned Morrissey back catalogue was to get the reissue treatment. However, firm news has finally been revealed about the 20th anniversary reissue of the a-side/b-side mop up album, Bona Drag.

Hitting shops 27th September, the album will be remastered AND feature 6 previously unreleased tracks:
1. "Happy Lovers At Last United" (Outtake from "Everyday is Like Sunday" sessions)
2. "Lifeguard On Duty" (Outtake from Viva Hate sessions)
3. "Please Help The Cause Against Loneliness" (demo) (Outtake from Viva Hate)
4. "Oh Phoney" (Outtake from Bona Drag sessions)
5. "The Bed Took Fire" (early version of "At Amber")
6. "Let The Right One Slip In" (alternate long mix)

To appease fans as well, apparently the sleeve is finally going to be corrected. Taken as a still from the "November Spawned a Monster" video, Morrissey wore a black top in the video, but it was changed to red for the sleeve. The booklet is also to feature exclusive new photos. No word yet on what else the liner notes might hold.

The full track listing of the reissue is as follows:

1. Piccadilly Palare
2. Interesting Drug
3. November Spawned A Monster
4. Will Never Marry
5. Such A Little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference
6. The Last Of The Famous International Playboys
7. Ouija Board, Ouija Board
8. Hairdresser On Fire
9. Everyday Is Like Sunday
10. He Knows I'd Love To See Him
11. Yes, I Am Blind
12. Lucky Lisp
13. Suedehead
14. Disappointed
15. Happy Lovers At Last United (Previously unreleased)
16. Lifeguard On Duty (Previously unreleased)
17. Please Help The Cause Against Loneliness (Previously unreleased)
18. Oh Phoney (Previously unreleased)
19. The Bed Took Fire (Previously unreleased)
20. Let The Right One Slip In (Alternate long mix, previously unreleased)

 To commemorate the reissue, EMI is resurrecting ANOTHER dead record label just for Morrissey. Fans will remember when he originally signed to the label in 1988 his debut album Viva Hate was issued on the resurrected HMV label. This time round, the label getting the Morrissey kiss of life is Minor Major Records, famed for their 1969 #1 record "Je t'aime... moi non plus" by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg.

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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

It was 25 years ago today - Live Aid

Live Aid at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, 1985Image via Wikipedia
what started out as the reaction by a fading rocker to a news report on famine in Africa culminated 25 years ago today with the greatest music event the world has ever seen - Live Aid.

Showcasing almost every major band in the western hemisphere, the concert was so large it had to take place in two venues in two timezones - RFK stadium in Philadelphia, PA and Wembley Stadium in London.

While the main thrust of Live Aid was to help the famine stricken in Ethiopia, a side benefit of the day was the turning of ordinary bands into superstars... which was bound to happen with a global audience in the HUNDREDS of millions.

Who can forget Freddie Mercury's amazing call and response during Queen's set or the career making U2 set where they actually ran out of time and couldn't play their current single "Pride" (but who can forget that rendition of "Bad"?). Then there was Phil Collins playing at both venues, thanks to Concorde, or the performance by Duran Duran creating a historic howler on the #1 single of the day "A View to a Kill".

It's hard to be cynical about an event that did so much for so many. Most egos were left at the door and it made for one of the most entertaining days of music ever. In some ways, Live8 tried to replicate the magic for the 20th anniversary.

Live Aid was not only a concert with a roster of chart toppers, it was an event of its era and of its day, the greed is good generation giving something back with no strings attached.  That's something you can't replicate - not in 2005 and not in 2015. Just ask those who didn't buy Band Aid II or Band Aid 20.
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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Men at Work ordered to pay 5% royalties on "Down Under"

Having been found guilty this past winter of plagiarism for one of their biggest hits "Down Under", it has been announced this week that Men at Work are to pay a mere 5% of song royalties accrued since 2002, as well as on future earnings.

The track, an unofficial Aussie national anthem, tells the story of a backpacker travelling the world and includes a number of iconic Aussie images - including the narrator being offered a Vegemite sandwich.

Featured throughout the song is a flute riff that has now been proved to be ripped off from the Aussie folk song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree."

The 5% awarded is a fraction of the 60% royalty claim Larrikin Music, owners of the copyright to "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree" were seeking.

Lead man at work Scottish-born Colin Hay, who co-wrote the song with fellow bandmate Ron Strykert, has maintained that any reference to the Aussie folk song was "inadvertent, naive, unconscious".

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Yazoo to reconnect with live album

For a band that only released two albums and a handful of singles during their very, very brief existence, Yazoo seem to continue to mine their catalogue to come up with new and interesting releases.

This week it was announced that the duo's short "Reconnected" tour in 2008 (which was to promote the 4 disc boxset "In Your Room") is being prepped for a CD release on the 27th September.

The set is scheduled to be released by Mute Records as a 2-CD set, a limited edition 2-CD set with 32 page hardcover book and digital download.

The tracklisting is as follows:

  1. Nobody's Diary (04:53)
  2. Bad Connection (04:02)
  3. Mr Blue (04:03)
  4. Good Times (03:32)
  5. Tuesday (03:04)
  6. Ode To Boy (04:18)
  7. Goodbye '70s (02:53)
  8. Too Pieces (03:35)
  9. In My Room (03:31)
  10. Anyone (03:32)
  11. Walk Away From Love (03:10)
  1. State Farm (04:02)
  2. Sweet Thing (03:55)
  3. Winter Kills (04:22)
  4. Midnight (04:34)
  5. Unmarked (03:31)
  6. Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I) (03:34)
  7. Don't Go (05:56)
  8. Only You (03:06)
  9. Situation (06:23)

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Front Line Assembly chart success

Front Line Assembly @ AllhusetImage by pellesten via Flickr
As a fan of Canadian industrial band Front Line Assembly, I resigned myself to being in the minority. Unlike breakout acts of the genre like Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, FLA (as fans call them) never reached the heady heights of mass market success.

Indeed, they've had more success over the years with their side project Delerium, especially a track they did with Sarah McLachlan called "Silence" which seemed to ignite both acts' careers in the UK back in the early 2000s.

Having said that, it was with surprise, bewilderment and joy that I discovered Front Line Assembly not only have a new single out, but that it's charted in the US. Not one of the usual "scraped in at #198 on the Hot 200" that people mutter under their breath.

Oh no, ladies and gentlemen, the new single "Shifting Through The Lens" has reached the heady heights of #13 on the influential Billboard singles chart.

As lead Assembler Bill Lieb told website Side-Line, "We are really happy about the buzz and all the good feedback. This is the first time in many years that we have a release on the Billboard charts."

My hat is off the Bill Lieb and co. So much so that I spent a chunk of today revisiting my favourite FLA album, "Caustic Grip".
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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Spotify for Android finally updated

Android robot logo.Image via Wikipedia
After what seems like an eon since the iPhone release of the latest Spotify client, news comes today that the app for Android phones has finally been updated.

This latest release, version 0.4.04 is HUGE! It includes all the social aspects of the revamped desktop client as well as the biggie request that's been clogging the internet since the mobile apps were released - Last.FM scrobbling enabled.

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