Here's some of what I've been listening to of late or at least that part of it that is relevant to this site. The notes are just sketches for my own use based on my first impression on a first listening rather than anything more analytical, like a 'note to self'. I always write something to remind me of what I first thought and to reconsider when listening a second time, so not meant to be anything more than a diary note really. Odd I have written relatively little about the Steppenwolf set (which is excellent) compared to the Beau Brummels. That happens sometimes as well. :grimacing:
David Bowie – Toy:Box Set 3 x CD.
Utterly sublime. Bowie’s 60s pre ‘Space Oddity’ songs
done in a 000’s update. Beautiful and tasteful, these songs sound like they were written yesterday not 40 years previously. It’s a three disc version. Disc 1 is the actual Toy album as included in the Brilliant Adventure box, wonderful modern versions of his Decca, Polydor etc. songs. Disc 2 is the same album but with remixed and approached versions. Some have long codas or introductions or emphasise different instruments. Plus there’s one or two songs that do not feature on the original album (‘In The Heat Of The Morning’ for instance). Disc 3 is a largely acoustic with some accompanying instrumentation version of Disc 2. It’s a lovely set anyway right through.
Halcyon Days ~ 60s Mod, R&B, Brit Soul & Freakbeat Nuggets (3CD).
Wonderful full-length compilation box set that effortlessly sites the familiar with the obscure. Disc 1 is all club soul and r’n’b Mod dancers, largely blue-eyed I think. Disc 2 is the freakbeatier end of the Mod era; Gibson Maestro fuzz and sustain pedals and Marshall stacks starting to replace Vox the Beatles super and Selmer amps etc. Disc 3 is a sort of random mix of end of the decade progressions of the other two discs but with random mid 60s sides in between. Good selection though and plenty of obscure stuff. Sadly, only one femme sung tune on the whole box,
Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride: Dunhill / ABC Years 1967-1971, 8CD Box Set.
This is an excellent set. Steppenwolf were an excellent hard rock / blues rock band They all played well and there’s some good riffs and catchy tunes throughout. Only track skippers were the final track (6) on The Early Years (live at the Martrix Ballroom in ’67) which is a barely audible live (stoned?) version of Hoyt Axton’s ‘The Pusher’ and track 4 on their final album which is a bit sentimental and countryish. Other than this, it is a box full of joy. ‘Born To Be Wild’ is just the tip of the iceburg. Dip into any of these albums and come up smiling.
The Beau Brummels: The Complete Recordings 1964-1970: 8 Disc Box Set. (2021).
A great box, each disc is jammed full of songs, mainly originals. Way too much for one or even two sittings. On first listening, the 1965 material and the bonus tracks on the other discs along with the great singles disc at the end are the real substance of the box’s contents. Beau Brummels ’66 and Triangle are its weaknesses.
Disc 1 Introducing The Beau Brummels (1965) This includes a range of both originals and cover versions, pretty safe for the time but a good listen and great sound. It has as many bonus tracks as the actual album, all great.
Disc 2 Volume Two (1965) This is the sweet spot for me a whole 80 minute disc of prime 1965 folk pop/rock a la The Byrds. Loads of bonus tracks, this is just a sublime collection in its own right.
Disc 3 Beau Brummels ’66 (1966) The actual album is stilted and mostly covers that sound perfunctory, like they had to do it to keep their contract. The bonus material on the other hand is well worth hearing and far far better than the album.
Disc 4 Triangle (1967) Possibly because I was coming off the high of their better 1965 material, this didn’t register. Again, a lot of covers and the originals are nothing special. I think also because it sounds like Sal Salantino and a bunch of session musicians rather than a band. Sal’s voice is solo, not lovely harmonising from the others. Plus it sounds to proud of the actual music which instrumentally is very subdued. Again, the wealth of bonus material is infinitely better than the released album even if they are more acoustic demos.
Disc 5 Bradley’s Barn (1968) This is their critically acclaimed best album though it sold squat at the time. It’s not bad, heading in a country rock / rootsy direction but with good songs. Again, I still prefer the bonus tracks even if they are largely solo Sal home acoustic demos
Disc 6 The Autumn Demo Session (16th April 1965) This is good and easily listenable. It’s the band running through numbers in their earliest stages that would end up as singles, album tracks etc. There’s an endearing vulnerability in some of them whilst others are again acoustic numbers. But really, I could happily have this on whilst reading and thoroughly enjoy it on its own terms.
Disc 7 Sal & Ron These are all acoustic demos and like the Autumn Demo Session is very pleasant to listen to (32 songs!). Disc 8 Singles As & Bs. An excellent 28 tracker full of chiming, harmonising folk rock-pop with a few later and solo Sal Salatino country swamp-pop numbers to finish with. Lovely clean sound from remastered tapes, a real nice ride.
Gene Clark (USA) – Collected. 3 x CD foldout pack.
In a word – ‘class’. That’s what this set has throughout. Gene Clark wrote great songs. So often you think they’re gonna be hokey country ballads and they are nothing of the sort. Clark had a consistently morose, restless, unresolved edge to his songs that probably reflected his own state of being. Subllime to end, all three of these long-play (77m each) discs are beautiful confections.
Once Upon a Time In The West Midlands: The Bostin' Sounds Of Brumrock 1966-1974
3 x cd. Great cross section of the obvious and the obscure. Goes from post-beat pop through to progressive, rock and prog pop.
Box Of Pin-Ups: The British Sounds Of 1965 3 x CD box set.
90 songs over three long play CDs! Although many are familiar from previous compilations such as Decca’s The R&B Scene and The Beat Scene sets for instance (on Disc 1 especially), it is still great to have this many in one place. The artwork is great on the box and booklet and individual sleeves, all glossy black and white. Very Billy Liar or The Knack and How To Get It . Only one female single (Vashti Bunyan’s ‘Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind’) which is rather a shame but all good honest guitar driven mod, r’n’b.
Think I’m Going Weird: Original British Psych Scene 1966-68, 5 x CD.
A very fine set in general. By keeping the time line tight 1966-68 rather than going all the way to 1970, the set does present a focussed soundscape. Only one or two niggles, like why include the Artwoods as St Valentine’s Day Massacre doing ‘Buddy Can You Spare A Dime’ but omit both sides of The Accent’s spot on 1967 Decca single? (It’s not licensing). What you do get here especially on discs 4 and 5, are a lot of home demos, live and local recording studio tracks in rather muddied sound but precious for their survival for bands like 117, Jade Hexagram or Louise. Anyway, a great set and all five discs are full length. There’s some rare band photos as well. Also, at last I now know who Fresh Windows were! Important – I listened to this whole set with compacted ear wax so limited dynamic hearing range on 8-9/11/21. I need to listen again once ears are clear of wax.
Morgen – Morgen 3 x CD box set Now-Again Records.
The best and the most sounding quality this obscure late 60s US album will ever have. It is in great sound. Disc 1 has the album (39m) whilst disc 2 (54m) has demos of it with one or two other tunes, all good and in great sound. Disc 3 has instrumental versions of the album tracks and one or two others. All excellent. The album has lots of psych guitar and sounds good as instrumentals. Nice tri-fold tray-free digipak as well.
Cool reviews, Paul. I was wondering about the Beau Brummels, so that was good to read. 😀👍
Great reviews. Compacted Ear Wax-top band name Paul.
Yes indeed! I had to have both ears flushed out (several times), I must have had a good few decades worth of compaction in them! Now I can hear properly again thankfully.
Bit surprised at the low esteeem for Triangle Paul, for me that is their best. I think it is a mini masterpiece and a work of art. I consider it the American Odyssey and Oracle. I like Bradley's Barn too, but gets a bit too straight country for me at times.
Yes, I may improve my opinion on a second listening of Triangle. Sometimes I find it better to listen to selected discs for a second time from a box set in isolation just to get a better idea of it on its own terms. Coming to Triangle after listening to several great BB discs of self-written material I found it rather stilted in comparison. If I just lift it from the box and play it in isolation I might think more of it. Bradley's Barn I felt was a better indicator of a progression from the lightly country inflected folk rock / pop numbers of their previous years and made more sense in a way.
listening to hens teeth vol 3 dirty fat bulldog on the wheel