Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Speak. I know you have a civil tongue in your head because I sewed it back myself."

There's a terrific little place on the web called "The Albums That Never Were," where the creators painstakingly reconstruct albums that almost saw the light of the day but were either canned or finally released in other shapes and forms. You will find such gems as The Clash's "Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg," the Mick Jones-conceived double that eventually became the single LP "Combat Rock," and "Who's For Tennis," 1968 shelved record by The Who that had been scheduled for release between "The Who Sell Out" and "Tommy."

Some time back, I had envisioned a brilliant Bob Dylan record that contained the best tracks from what I feel are three unbelievably overrated records, "Time Out Of Mind," "Love & Theft" and "Modern Times." This time around, I was having some impossible fun another way.

I had listened to Todd Rundgren's 1975 ode to bloat, "Initiation." This was a 60 minute affair that actually came with a disclaimor which basically said, there is too much music on this LP so it will sound like shit. But Side One is damn good. In fact, it is one of my favorite Side Ones. Side Two on the other hand, is a 34 minute treatise on cosmic fire, titled "A Treatise On Cosmic Fire." Oops.

In a mood, I also listened to another favorite side, Side Two of Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother." Though one doesn't usually think of these two artists as the same, I was amazed at how perfect these two sides sounded together and thought, "What a great album!"

If you've got nothing pressing, and before you fall into the rat hole that is "The Albums That Never Were," care to play this game?

What are your favorites sides that seem to be sabotaged by the other side? And if you're feeling really frisky, are there two that would work as one fantasy record, like Pink Todd?


William Repsher said...

The first album I ever bought was Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John ... not a bad place to start. But I've always disagreed with those claiming it was his best. (Captain Fantastic sounded like him and Taupin focusing themselves into one great album, although I won't quibble with the Tumbleweed Connection folks.)

Side one is his best album side (Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Candle in the Wind and Bennie & the Jets). After that ... there is so much filler on the remainder. Some legitimately great songs (title track, Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting, even hidden gems like Sweet Painted Lady). I think you could have made one hell of a single album, his best, and ditched utter tripe like Jamaica Jerk-off (possibly his worst song, and that includes the 80s and Disney-related projects). A lot of it sort of halfway there Elton John that fans love to mention as their favorites, but when was the last time you played "I've Seen That Movie Too"?

If you look at his album release schedule back then, it was insane. Two albums a year AND major world tours rolled one into the other. Just an unbelievable pace ... and his albums have a lot of filler as a result, even the good ones. Don't get me started on Blue Moves! And don't believe anyone claiming it needs to be re-evaluated.

Sal Nunziato said...

" Don't get me started on Blue Moves! And don't believe anyone claiming it needs to be re-evaluated."

Not even me?

William Repsher said...

Blue Moves has way too much mediocrity. Granted, tracks like "Tonight," "Idol" and "Cage the Songbird" don't get anywhere near the respect they deserve ... but "Theme from a Non-Existent TV Series" and "Boogie Pilgrim"? As with GBYBR, you have some very high and low points, but reality is most of the songs are middling, not his best, not his worst. And I'm not in the "One Horse Town is his great lost track" camp!

That's an interesting website. I liked the Wilco choice and not sure why "Shaking Sugar (Alone, Alone, Alone)" didn't make it onto the multi-disc Wilco's rarities set last year. They restructured Yankee Hotel Foxtrot to move away from being more Jay Bennett's Summerteeth-style baby; it was clear the band was trying to be serious minded in general. I remember in the documentary Jeff saying to Jay, "We're trying to get away from that 'two-guitar' thing" during rehearsals and Jay giving him a perplexed WTF look ... only for the band to eventually have three guitarists after he left!

These guys should have a field day with Springsteen albums, particularly Born in the USA!

Anonymous said...

Hello please remain seated,

The first thought I had in response to your post was Black and Blue by, well, you know who. Although I'm stretching the outlines of your challenge, just imagine an album that jettisoned Melody and Hey Negrita, but included Slave and Worried About You. Both were recorded in those sessions and inexplicably shelved in favor of those two, at best, B-sides and Rarities type tracks.

And while we're at it, re-sequence the tracks. No way Hot Stuff should lead off the album.


And one more thing....I agree with William Repsher re: Yellow Brick Road.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Two half albums come immediately to mind, both Beatle related. "Live Peace In Toronto", half music and half "Bagism". I've had the album for decades and never heard side 2 except to drop the needle randomly to see what was there. Then there is the original release of "Yellow Submarine". One side by The Beatles and the other orchestrations by George Martin.

"Honky Chateau" was the first album I bought that wasn't The Beatles. I bought "Harvest" a few weeks later, and liked it a lot more. I never really got into Elton.

mauijim said...

My Frankenstein monster has always been 1975s Breakaway from Art and Paul's side one of Still Crazy... adding Gone at last from side 2.They were a 2 headed monster anyway.
Both lps share a song and came out at same time in 75. Arts sticky sweet soft side is balanced by Paul's 50 Ways. It still works in the cd age as I lose interest/time on back half after Gone.

William Repsher said...

I tooled through the rest of that guy's website, and it's pretty interesting. Of course, ludicrous that he tried to piece together all those goofball Van Morrison piss-takes from sessions around his first album. In theory that album has existed for a long time, and in much longer form, as a second disc to the Bang Sessions. And it's terrible, no matter how long or short it is!

Never saw the point with imagining what Beatles albums would have sounded like in the early 70s had they stayed together. The whole point of them going solo was to do their own thing, and Plastic Ono Band is as incongruous to the other members of the Beatles as Band on the Run or Ram is. Every time you try to arrange the tracks accordingly, it sounds off. Now, if we could get very early piano/guitar demos of all the tracks from that time period, that might be another story ...

Dave said...

I don't love any song on side one of "Abbey Road," but it would be tough to live without side two.

Dave F

Sal Nunziato said...

Not more than 30 minutes ago, I had a very brief discussion with someone calling The Beatles overrated. I had to remove myself from the conversation for health reasons. And now someone not loving any song on Side One of Abbey Road. I can understand "Maxwells Silver Hammer" and "Octopus Garden," and maybe...maybe "I Want You" for its length and repetition. But "Something" and "Oh Darling?" No love?

Noam Sane said...

Ugh, I was sitting with the gal whose band I play for between sets last weekend, and she started in with the Ringo-was-a-lousy-drummer stuff. I've gone through this so many times, I just got up and walked away. I can't do it any more. If you don't get it, fine. Your problem.

Beyond that, I got nothing, but thanks for the link, Sal - fun site and i'll be digging through it for a while.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Dissing Ringo is a mistake.

Chris Collins said...

I disagree with you on the Dylan albums. I love all 3.

I can't believe I am going to say this but I love side 2 of "Hotel California". I never, ever want to hear the title track or "Life in the Fast Lane" ever again but I love "Victim of Love", "Pretty Maids All In a Row", "Try and Love Again" and "The Last Resort".

And I obsessed with my own version of "Human Town", which was my cassette version of the best versions of "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town" (ok, mostly "Lucky Town") for a long time.

Peter Ames Carlin said...

"Come Together"? Hello?

Plus also MauiJim to my ears the 2nd side of "Still Crazy..." is every bit as strong as the first. "Some Folks' Lives Roll Easy"? One of my faves on the whole album. "Silent Eyes" is elusive, but extremely moving when it gets under your skin. My skin. One's skin. Whatever. Okay, 'You're Kind" seems like a B+, maybe, and there's something about the slide guitar on "Have a Good Time" that doesn't quite appeal to me but still.

also: props for digging "Night Game," which a lot of people diss without seeming to understand the crucial metaphor around which the lyrics are built, and etc.

"Silent Eyes," tho. Dig it.

dogbreath said...

As both these albums wrestled for play on my 1970 turntable, it was side one of "Atom Heart Mother" followed by the first side of Sabbath's "Paranoid", the gargantuan, doom-laden riff of "War Pigs" following sweetly on the heels of the fade out of AHM's eponymous, orchestral & uplifting meisterwerk. But as I also love the second sides of these discs I herewith disqualify myself from even attempting to further answer your tantalising question. Oh well (parts 1 & 2).

mauijim said...

And I obsessed with my own version of "Human Town", which was my cassette version of the best versions of "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town" (ok, mostly "Lucky Town") for a long time.

Chris, can you tell us the songs and sequence that make up your Human Town tape?
think thats a great idea for a playlist

tinpot said...

I remembered side 1 of both Roxy Music's 'Siren' and Bowie's 'Let's Dance' as being infinitely superior to their 2nd sides. After checking, it's not quite that neatly divided, but they are definitely both half-good records that would make a hell of a funky LP if their best tracks were combined.
Can't come up with a name as good as 'Pink Todd' tho.

Chris Collins said...

Mauijim, I think it went like this (I subbed 2 versions from the 11.17.90 Christic Institute benefit that Bruce played. To this day the version of "Real World" Bruce debuted that night is one of my top 10 Sprinsteen performances ever.

Human Touch
Local Hero
Lucky Town
Soul Driver
57 Channels (Christic Institute version)
Better Days
Leap of Faith
Living Proof
Real World "Christic Institute version)
My Beautiful Reward

I could be wrong. But I still think that would have been a hell of an album.

Sal Nunziato said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Chris, re: Christic version of Real World. (Am I the only one on the planet who loves "Man's Job?")

A walk in the woods said...

Holy crap, this blog looks great - thanks for the tip, Sal!

Bruce Kelly said...

Interesting to stop by here and see the discussion in earlier comments on Elton John's "Blue Moves" because just recently for separate reasons I was thinking of posting something about it on my Facebook page.

Blue Moves was one of the first albums that I bought and besides being by a big star I was quite pleased that I could get two LPs for less than the double the price of a single LP. This was an early lesson in a faulty purchasing theory. More does not equal better (as virtually every CD of 60-70 minutes proves in comparison to an LP of 45 minutes).

The music itself surprised me by how downbeat most of it was, although maybe I should have been tipped off by "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word," and for a young rocker that was not good.

Years pass and my late wife and I find ourselves in lower Alps hiking village on a day with light rain and lots of moss and mist. By this time we were pretty tired being a week or so into our trip. It turns out this town was a big hostel site for Euro youths who apparently wanted to hike and just relax so the nightlife as we found it consisted of low key, fairly rundown, unpretentious bars with just a little food. One of these smoke filled places was projecting grainy surf movies on the walls while playing on the speakers was -- "Blue Moves".

In that setting, at that time, for us, it could not have sounded better. And for years afterwards we could listen to it and remember.

The other day, a little over two years after she died, on a fall day where summer had clearly ended and a light rain was falling I thought of playing the album. Some of that feeling was still there, although of course sadder.

And there is too much filler!