The Kinks – Top 50 Songs

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You may have missed them along the way, they always seemed second fiddle to the likes of the Beatles and the Stones, or during the wave of like-sounding garage whimsy of 90s pop – Blur et al. The Kinks early singles, and the run of albums from 1966’s Face to Face through Something Else and Village Green Preservation Society to 1969’s Arthur, or the Decline And Fall of the British Empire, is spectacular as any, establishing Ray Davies as one of the strongest songwriters in Britain and keenest observers of British society, cementing the band’s influence and legacy.

And their catalogue is as intriguing as any in the rock landscape. From their jagged full length debut in 1964, through unimpeachable catchy hits, buzzing distillations of sneering vocals and strutting riffs, blown-out distortion, fuzz boxes, to perfect English pop and misguided conceptual fluff, through to new wave reinvigoration records all without UK chart success; owing considerable charm less to originality than to pure guts and pop vigour.

Witness the Davies brothers continually changing and writing new material to create a varied but distinctive place in rock history in this 50 track count down. The challenge is adequately representing each phase while balancing considerations of what’s worthwhile. So this is not an authoritative overview of the Kinks, about 500 compilations have already covered that, rather a closer look at 50 Kinks Klassics from their vast catalogue.

50 Kinks Klassics Volume 1
50 Kinks Klassics Volume 2

50. Arthur
An aborted TV special, the theme was a crumbling self-image of Britain, with the shadow of war ever present. This was the closing track on an early Kinks concept album, the marvellous Arthur, or the Decline And Fall of the British Empire (1969).

49. A Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasy
A slow character study finds the band effectively summing up modern alienation on this charming late-70s highlight off Misfits (1978), a strong late-70s Kinks album.

48. Here Comes Yet Another Day
Great opening track off the half-studio half-live double album Everybody’s in Show-Biz (1972). It found moderate success in the US however another album that sunk without a trace in the UK.

47. Everybody’s a Star (Starmaker)
Lifted off dreary concept album Soap Opera (1975). This opening track however finds Ray Davies nailing early ’70s glam Bowie, complete with a Dave Davies sharkfin, buzz guitar.

46. Heart of Gold
A jangly pop gem, reminiscent of the Pretenders, the only track here representing 1983 album State of Confusion, edging out minor US hits Come Dancing and Don’t Forget to Dance.

45. Yo-Yo
A beautifully penned Ray Davies number from the new wave era, this one taken from Give the People What They Want (1981). Another Pretenders-esque track, possibly a commentary on his romance with Chrissie Hynde.

44. Moments
A lost classic off the soundtrack album Percy (1971) about a penis transplant and the final flowering of their pastoral period.

43. King Kong
B-side to the Plastic Man single in 1969 peaking at #31 in the UK. Ray Davies does a great Marc Bolan impersonation inventing the glam rock sound at the same time. Ended up as a bonus track on Arthur.

42. Muswell Hillbilly
Closing title track to 1971’s occasionally brilliant acoustic outing Muswell Hillbillies.

41. Out of the Wardrobe
A light mid-tempo major key number telling the story of a transvestite in a similar vein as Lola. Another track taken from the solid Misfits.

40. Catch Me Now I’m Falling
The only track here off their American commercial breakthrough album Low Budget (1979). Despite Dave Davies liberal use of a famous Stones riff inviting comparisons with Jumpin’ Jack Flash, it’s tremendous fun.

39. When a Solution Comes
One of the few excellent songs salvageable from the mess of the conceptually forgettable Preservation Act 2 (1974).

38. The Hard Way
Another mediocre concept album Schoolboys in Disgrace (1975), this is an entertaining, accomplished little proto-punk rocker that resembles I Can’t Explain, with Ray sounding like Lou Reed.

37. The Village Green Preservation Society
Title track of their now landmark 1968 album which did not trouble the charts on either side of the Atlantic. It was as far away from everything that was happening at the time as you could get. English quirkiness abounds on this musical museum and all time Kinks gem.

36. Living on a Thin Line
Written by Dave Davies, this dark mid-tempo rocker popped up to great effect over the closing credits to the Sopranos on several occasions, a lovely track and sole representative off the underrated Word of Mouth (1984).

35. Holiday
A whimsical, throwaway cabaret ditty on an album (Muswell Hillbillies) of country rock stylings, sarcastically delivered by Ray.

34. I’m Not Like Everybody Else
B-side to 1966 #1 UK single Sunny Afternoon sung by Dave Davies. Has stood the test of time and a perennial live favourite for decades.

33. Destroyer
This track find the Kinks cannibalising earlier hits such as You Really Got Me and All Day And All of the Night, bashing it out with a punkish energy off the hard rocking Give the People What They Want.

32. Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Another in the long line of classic Kinks singles and something of a musical expansion within a British music hall tradition, released in 1966 and peaking at #2 in the UK.

31. God’s Children
Opening track off Percy, a neglected jewel and one of the more affecting songs in the Ray Davies catalogue.

30. Apeman
One of the Kinks last UK hits, Apeman was the second single taken from the underrated 1970 LP Lola Versus the Powerman and the Moneygoround.

29. Better Things
A fine song in the British new wave style and an effortlessly melodic message of hope and optimism. Last and best track off Give the People What They Want.

28. A Well Respected Man
Originally released on the band’s most important EP Kwyet Kinks in 1965 and as a successful single in the US, a stylistic change away from R’n’B with Ray providing a class-conscience character study with shades of music hall that would go on to dominate his writing and the Kinks output throughout the late ’60s and early ’70s.

27. Life Goes On
A darkly cynical and closing track off the return to form album Sleepwalker in 1977, featuring some wonderful guitar work from Dave.

26. Dandy
A song taken from classic Kinks album Face to Face (1966) written by Ray balancing disgust and admiration (possibly) about his brother’s wild lifestyle as a ladies’ man, whose womanising has become a sad obsession.

25. Lavender Hill 
A whimsical song not included on The Village Green Preservation Society album, eventually appearing on The Great Lost Kinks Album in 1973.

24. Strangers
The gorgeous and passionate Strangers is simply one of Dave Davies finest achievements, track 2 on Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.

23. Sitting in My Hotel
A captivating ballad and an off the cuff moment of genius from Ray, elegantly commenting on the perils of stardom. This song can be found on the studio side of Everybody’s in Show-Biz.

22. I Need You
Another mid-’60s Kinks gem. A single in 1965 (B-side to Set Me Free), I Need You almost beats You Really Got Me and All Day And All of the Night at their own game. An early hard rocking classic.

21. Juke Box Music
Non-charting single from Sleepwalker, should’ve gone to #1.  The rollicking Juke Box Music is bouncy, rocking and lots of fun. They had not sounded like this in a decade of musical meandering.

20. Picture Book
Track 2 from The Village Green Preservation Society. A song that infuses anti-nostalgia with a picturesque English countryside and large doses of charm and humour.

19. Celluloid Heroes
A certified masterpiece and one of the Kinks finest RCA moments, Celluloid Heroes was inspired by Ray’s sojourn in LA while strolling down the Hollywood Blvd. Another song taken from the flawed Everybody’s in Show-Biz.

18. Stop Your Sobbing
Appearing on their first LP Kinks (1964) this accomplished track displays, at this early stage, what a great writer Ray Davies was. It would later find favour via the Pretenders’ version in 1979.

17. Berkeley Mews
A non-album track and B-side to hugely successful UK single Lola in 1970, and originally recorded during the Village Green sessions in 1968. Session pianist Nicky Hopkins appears here.

16. Sweet Lady Genevieve
The only track here off the very patchy Preservation Act 1 (1973). Released as a single during the Kinks commercial slump, it sunk without a trace.

15. See My Friends
A hit single and a work of true genius with its droning eastern guitar sounds and evocative lyrics. A step in a different direction for the Kinks in 1965 and still sounds fresh.

14. Sunny Afternoon
Has all of the ingredients for an all time Kinks classic: deep melodic sound, acoustic guitars, gorgeous harmonies, music hall piano and Pete Quaife’s descending bassline. It’s also concurrently a lazy yawn of resignation and an impeccable portrait of urban life in technicolor nostalgia. This track can be found on the essential Face to Face.

13. Where Have All the Good Times Gone
In the midst of a breakdown, Ray Davies finds his true voice with this all-time classic song lifted from The Kink Kontroversy (1965), and near to the ultimate peak of UK pop music, melting the essence of electric Dylan via every previous Kinks hit.

12. Death of a Clown
Another Dave Davies masterpiece and an enormously successful (solo) single. Capturing the essence of the Kinks in the mid-late ’60s and the mad Carnaby Street days on a Saturday afternoon in swinging London. Appears on one of the Kinks best albums Something Else (1967).

11. Dead End Street 
Released as a non-album single in 1966, amazing considering it’s a song good enough to be the thematic centrepiece of an album, it eventually appeared as bonus track on Face to Face and has more than stood the test of time.

10. 20th Century Man
The galloping opening number off Muswell Hillbillies, 20th Century Man is a classic storming Kinks moment. Drummer Mick Avory firing the band who deliver with an abundance of real energy and purpose.

9. Days 
A 1968 hit single recorded during the Village Green sessions but inexplicably left off that album. It’s a great song, the melody/lyric, particularly on the bridge section: I wish today could be tomorrow/The night is dark/It just brings sorrow, let it wait, it’ll bring a tear to your eye.

8. Victoria 
Arthur was a return to guitar driven rock, none more so than rousing opener Victoria which appears to celebrate the queen’s name while delivering a seething indictment of everything her reign upheld. Notably covered by The Fall.

7. Set Me Free
A non-album single released in 1965 and a hit in both UK and the US is a classic and another step in a different direction for the Kinks. The song eventually appeared on the deluxe edition of the band’s second album Kinda Kinks (1965).

6. Tired of Waiting for You
The follow up single to You Really Got Me and All Day And All of the Night sees the Kinks staking their claim as a band more flexible than the Stones and more vulnerable than the Beatles with an equally nagging and addictive riff but placed within a quiet and reflective mood. The song appeared on Kinda Kinks.

5. All Day And All of the Night
Hastily written, rehearsed and recorded after the huge success of You Really Got Me, it’s equally great with the snarling guitar and soaring chorus articulating youthful lust and angst. One of the greatest singles of the ’60s.

4. Lola
A huge hit in 1970 in both the UK and US where it gave the Kinks a crucial platform, it’s a gem in the Kinks entire catalogue. Perfectly constructed, both melodically and lyrically, the enigmatic Lola gave the Kinks a second career.

3. Till The End of the Day
Cut from the same aggressive cloth as earlier singles, and similarly successful, also a complete rewrite of You Really Got Me, either way another timeless classic Kinks single released when they were were still very much a singles band – although it appears on the album The Kink Kontroversy. Has been covered by the likes of Alex Chilton, Shonen Knife, Ty Segall and Ace Frehley.

2. You Really Got Me
A key moment in rock history. Such primal energy, it still sounds like it has touched down from another planet. The distorted guitar tone is perfect, the key shifts propulsive like no other, and a sound that would become the epitome of hard rock inspiring the likes of Jimmy Page through Eddie Van Halen. Lifted from their first LP Kinks.

1. Waterloo Sunset
A moving and nostalgic character study of two lovers meeting at Waterloo Station every Friday night, the melancholic writer staring out the window watching busy London life pass by grey and unhappy. ‘Terry and Julie’ however find each other, and time exclusively for themselves, while the city bustles on around them. Complex in arrangement yet simple in execution (it took only 10 hours to record) it was a huge hit in the UK for the band, and is simply one of the greatest songs ever written. Can be found as the closing number on the very fine Something Else.

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Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt (1989)

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Here at Pierce’s Press I reconstruct an album, with benefit of time, steering it toward what the artist may have originally intended. Why not!  

Flowers in the Dirt was a repudiation of the Macca we love/hate: no imperialist odes to salamanders, loads of silly love songs, arena rockers, and a few excellent Elvis Costello collaborations, including the spectacular My Brave Face, one of the best should-have-been-a-hits of the last 20 years. The album certainly had an interesting inception, and what was released way back in 1989 is a far cry from the original concept of the album.

The 1980s had not been kind to Paul. He had received a critical savaging for the ill-advised folly of Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984), even the follow-up album Press to Play (1986) failed to garner a hit – a rare circumstance for the ex-Beatle and hit making machine of the 70s. In 1987 it was recommended to Paul he dig out his Hofner bass, team up with Costello and compose eyeball to eyeball, just like he did with Lennon in the early days. Those sessions, at McCartney’s rustic Hog Hill Mill Studio in East Sussex, England, were intended to yield enough songs to constitute a full collaborative record. And they did.

fitd-recon.jpgThe partnership, however, was not to endure. Sessions with Costello, while producing some very good songs, didn’t go as expected and Paul quickly sought out other options, bringing in a bevy of producers (Mitchell Froom, David Foster, Steve Lipson, and Trevor Horn) to help cast as wide of a net as possible with these songs and more. He dropped the idea of a collaborative album and spent a year and a half perfecting tracks, using only a small handful of the Costello numbers and adding in a whole host of new materiel. McCartney always excelled in familial love, so new tracks We Got Married (featuring Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour on guitar) and Put It There work well, but the deliberate proto-digital gloss flattens the album somewhat, and some sub-par material was added (eg: the horrible Rough Ride) which softens the edges of the Costello collaborations and diminishes the power of what could have been.

What we have here is a reconstructed version of the album, including most of the Costello work (which would show up on multiple albums by McCartney and Costello from 1987 until 1993) excellent demos and early versions, plus the pick of the new materiel used to fill out the album.

  1. My Brave Face – early McCartney/Costello demo.
  2. You Want Her Too – terrific Paul 1988 demo featuring Costello on guest vocal. Superior to the final Flowers version.
  3. Twenty Nine Fingers – early 50s-type rocker McCartney/Costello demo.
  4. Mistress and Maid – McCartney/Costello demo. This very good song would end up on Paul’s 1993 album Off the Ground.
  5. Veronica – Costello demo for Spike (1987) hit single.
  6. So Like Candy – superb McCartney demo for a song that wound up on Costello’s Mighty Like a Rose (1991).
  7. The Lovers That Never Were – raw demo of Paul and Elvis. Another song ending up on Off the Ground.
  8. That Day is Done – early Paul demo of a song that made it onto Flowers in the Dirt.
  9. Playboy to a Man – left off the album, finally made it on Mighty Like a Rose.
  10. Back on My Feet – Costello co-write, originally released as a B-side on McCartney’s 1987 single Once Upon a Long Ago.
  11. Distractions – post-Costello McCartney demo.
  12. This One – post-Costello McCartney demo.
  13. We Got Married – post-Costello McCartney demo.
  14. Put it There – post-Costello McCartney demo.
  15. Figure of Eight – live version off scintillating Tripping the Live Fantastic (1990) which documents the Flowers in the Dirt supporting tour.

Albums That Never Were: Flowers in the Dirt

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The Todd Rundgren Odyssey (1970-1981)

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The tracks on this two-disc compilation are taken from the multi-instrumentalist, seminal years: 1970-1981. Diverse and eclectic, this is a companion piece to Ballads, although still something of an introductory odyssey, recommended for anyone looking to begin exploring the delights of Todd Rundgren.

DISC 1

  1. Broke Down and Busted (Runt)
  2. Believe in Me (Runt)
  3. Long Flowing Robe (Ballad)
  4. Bleeding (Ballad)
  5. Wailing Wall (Ballad)
  6. The Range War (Ballad)
  7. A Long Time, A Long Way to Go (Ballad)
  8. Be Nice to Me (Ballad)
  9. Parole (Ballad)
  10. I Saw the Light (Something/Anything)
  11. It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference (Something/Anything)
  12. Black Maria (Something/Anything)
  13. Couldn’t I Just Tell You (Something/Anything)
  14. Hello It’s Me (Something/Anything)
  15. Zen Archer (Wizard)
  16. Does Anybody Love You (Wizard)
  17. Sometimes I Don’t Know What to Feel (Wizard)
  18. Just One Victory (Wizard)

DISC 2

  1. A Dream Goes on Forever (Todd)
  2. The Last Ride (Todd)
  3. No. 1 Lowest Common Denominator (Todd)
  4. Useless Begging (Todd)
  5. Sidewalk Cafe (Todd)
  6. Izzat Love? (Todd)
  7. Heavy Metal Kids (Todd)
  8. Black and White (Faithful)
  9. Love of the Common Man (Faithful)
  10. Cliche (Faithful)
  11. The Verb to Love (Faithful)
  12. Love is the Answer (Oops! Wrong Plant)
  13. Love in Action (Oops! Wrong Plant)
  14. All the Children Sing (Hermit)
  15. Can We Still Be Friends (Hermit)
  16. Too Far Gone (Hermit)
  17. I Just Want to Touch You (Deface the Music)
  18. Healer (Healing)

Runt (1970)

disc 1 cover

Todd’s first solo album post-Nazz. Strong rock and roll record. A Bearsville vanity project for whom he was working as a young hot producer/engineer at the time (eg: The Band’s Stage Fright). This albums also features Tony and Hunt Sales and The Band’s Rick Danko and Levon Helm.

Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (1971)

disc 2 cover

Todd’s second solo album is up there with the likes of Hunky Dory as far as piano-based singer-songwriter albums go. A masterpiece of a record. Ridiculously underrated these days, it contains beautiful dense ballads, a few hard rockers and superlative songwriting and musicianship everywhere. In short a stunner. Musicians include Jerry Scheff (The Doors) on bass.

Something/Anything (1972)

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Expansive and adventurous, this double album is essential to any record collection. Todd plays everything on 3 sides, and includes an in-studio live session on side 4. In Todd’s words: ‘a bouquet of ear-catching melodies’, this album finds our hero moving away from the ballad approach, becoming more diverse and experimental.

A Wizard A True Star (1973)

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A glorious and eclectic mess: sonic collages, soul medleys and effortless pop songsmithery. This cartoony dream of an album sounds bewildering and bonkers at first, however rewards heartily with repeated listens. Shedding his pop star image at the time, Wizard defies genre classification. Time has been kind to this record, and is now considered his masterwork.

Todd (1974)

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A personal favourite. Another double album, Todd has some career-high peaks but also some really far out weird stuff too. Touching on progressive rock, long spacey instrumentals, and even a Gilbert and Sullivan tune. Side 3 of Todd is one of the greatest sides of music of all time.

Around this time he forms prog rock band Utopia, who are yet to do much for me aside from some individual tracks (see below). That’s for another compilation one day. Also solo album Initiation (1975) fails to set my world on fire. Avoid.

Faithful (1976)

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Side A exact replicas of well known songs (Todd covers Strawberry Fields, Good Vibrations, Rain among others). It is rather mind boggling and very very clever from this gifted musician, arranger and producer. Side B is some of the best and most essential Todd materiel ever.

Oops! Wrong Planet (1977)

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Utopia LP, a good underrated album. A little more conventional than previous releases.

Hermit of Mink Hollow (1978)

disc 11 cover

Something of a comeback solo album for Todd after Utopia ran itself into the ground. Again Todd resumes playing everything on this album. A stylistically complex and forward thinking album. A very consistent listen, signs of experimenting with synthesizers (remember them?) which he would, for better or for worse, explore fully later. It is also in my opinion the last really essential studio LP Todd released, until…..

The double live album Back to the Bars (1978) is absolutely essential. There is nothing here from this absolute riot of a record, more recommended once you are familiar with this compilation and/or albums, then you can sing along with every single awesome song. A great live 70s record.

Deface the Music – 1980

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A fun Utopia record. All tracks executed in early-60s Beatles style. Very cool idea and ultimately perfected.

Healing (1981)

disc 12 cover

Todd plays everything here, his ‘gospel’ album and unlike anything else in his catalogue. Once again find our hero fearlessly exploring new terrain. We only dip our toe in here with the title track.

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Iggy 1969

Iggy recording the first self-titled Stooges album. That’s producer John Cale in the control booth.

160127-11 smart copy copy (2)

 

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#1: George Harrison – All Things Must Pass (1970)

Hi. Here at Pierce’s Press I take a look at bloated, self-indulgent, expansive double albums and gleefully trim it back to a single, dreck-free, no filler, concise, listenable record without having to reach for the skip button or needle re-positioning.

I think it may benefit some over-stuffed double albums from a little tightening up. It’s certainly the case for the final in the UnDoubled series, #1: George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, receiving the UnDoubled treatment.

ATMPu

All Things Must Pass UnDoubled

Side One:
  1. I’d Have You Anytime
  2. My Sweet Lord
  3. Behind That Locked Door
  4. Let it Down
  5. Awaiting on You All
  6. Isn’t it a Pity
 Side Two:
  1. Beware of Darkness
  2. What is Life
  3. Apple Scruffs
  4. Run of the Mill
  5. Wah-Wah
  6. All Things Must Pass

#1 in our UnDoubled series: All Things Must Pass. The triple album landmark from ex-Beatle George Harrison. Forced to stockpile songs as part of the Beatles, it was only a matter of time before George made a significant impact, and that he did with his first proper solo outing. Essentially a project with friends including Eric Clapton (most of Derek and the Dominoes are here), Billy Preston, Ringo Starr, Bobby Keys, Peter Frampton and of all people Phil Collins, the album emphasised the full flow of his spirituality and introspection long-present on his work as a Beatle. A three album package however was perhaps more than the album merited (late album bluesy jams like Jeep and Pepperoni while fun, are far from essential), certainly two discs would’ve been fine. So in the spirit the UnDoubled series was intended, here at Pierce’s Press we’ve had a ball in trimming it back to one magnificently faultless single LP. Enjoy!

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Teenage Fanclub: The Best 2000-2017

Teenage Fanclub’s history is now part of rock folk-law: Nirvana label-mates (Geffen), huge critical acclaim in the USA, missed out on mainstream success, made some of the best records of the era (1991’s Bandwagonesque, 1995’s Grand Prix, 1997’s Songs from Northern Britain). Since the release of Howdy! in 2000, the years have passed and the band’s output has slowed, however Teenage Fanclub’s music has evolved like a long and stable love affair evident with the release of their 10th album Here, propelled by intimacy, comfort, and masterful songwriting.

TF

  1. The Darkest Part of the Night – Here (2016)
  2. Dumb Dumb Dumb – Howdy! (2000)
  3. Cells – Man-Made (2005)
  4. Accidental Life – Howdy! (2000)
  5. It’s All in My Mind – Man-Made (2005)
  6. Shock and Awe – Shadows (2010)
  7. Baby Lee – Shadows (2010)
  8. I Need Direction – Howdy! (2000)
  9. I’m in Love – Here (2016)
  10. If I Never See You Again – Howdy! (2000)
  11. Dark Clouds – Shadows (2010)
  12. Thin Air – Here (2016)
  13. Slow Fade Pictures – Man-Made (2005)
  14. Falling Leaves – Man-Made (2005)
  15. When I Still Have Thee – Shadows (2010)

Running Time: 49:09

Teenage Fanclub: The Best 2000-2017

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#2: Bruce Springsteen – The River (1980)

Hi. Here at Pierce’s Press I take a look at bloated, self-indulgent, expansive double albums and gleefully trim it back to a single, dreck-free, no filler, concise, listenable record without having to reach for the skip button or needle re-positioning.

I think it may benefit some over-stuffed double albums from a little tightening up. It’s certainly the case for UnDoubled #2: Bruce Springsteen’s The River, now receiving the UnDoubled treatment.

The Rivber

Side One:
  1. The Ties That Bind
  2. Two Hearts
  3. Independance Day
  4. Hungry Heart
  5. Out In The Street
Side Two:
  1. The River
  2. Point Blank
  3. Cadillac Ranch
  4. The Price You Pay
  5. Wreck On The Highway

Originally submitted to Columbia Records as a single 10 song disc: The Ties That Bind. It got expanded to a whopping 20 after The Boss decided he wanted the album to have more depth and variety. The River, Springsteen’s New Wave album, ended up a heartland rock smorgasbord buffet, with everything from cinematic set-pieces, humorous bar rockers and moving ballads on the menu. The River gushes forth with the fury of a burst dam, delivering torrents of despair, inspiration, heartbreak, and joy. This is all somewhat overwhelming. Clocking in at 83 minutes and spread over 20 tracks, it’s a lot to take, even from the emerging rock ‘n’ roll icon at the peak of his songwriting powers. The River may have been more consistent as this single-disc album as originally envisioned, and such powerful numbers as Independence Day and Wreck on the Highway heralding the beginning of his forays into the harrowing acoustic balladry he’d explore with his 1982 follow-up, Nebraska.

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Zappa: The Central Instrumentalizer Vol II

Zappa: The Central Instrumentalizer Vol II

The uncatergorizable Frank Zappa. Astute, paradigm-shifting virtuosity at its uncompromisingly brilliant (and ballsy) best. This hand-picked Vol II selection highlights Zappa’s astonishing yet accessible instrumental work from his mindbogglingly expansive career.

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1. I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth – Zappa in New York (1978)

2. Duke of Prunes – Orchestral Favorites (1979)

3. Son of Mr Green Genes – Hot Rats (1969)

4. Flambay – Sleep Dirt (1979)

5. Eat That Question – The Grand Wazoo (1972)

6. The Orange County Lumber Truck – Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970)

7. Theme From The 3rd Movement Of Sinister Footwear – You Are What You Is (1981)

8. St. Etienne – Jazz From Hell (1986)

9. Sleep Dirt – Sleep Dirt (1979)

10. D.C. Boogie – Imaginary Diseases (2007)

11. Rubber Shirt – Sheik Yerbouti (1979)

12. Jim & Tammy’s Upper Room – Guitar (1988)

13. RDNZL – Studio Tan (1978)

14. Marque-Son’s Chicken – Them Or Us (1984)

15. Ancient Armaments – Halloween (1978)

16. Bowling on Charen – Trans-Fusion (2006)

17. Echidna’s Arf (Of You) – Roxy & Elsewhere (1974)

18. Big Swifty – Waka-Jawaka (1972)

19. Envelopes – Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch (1982)

20. Montreal – Imaginary Diseases (2007)

Running Time: 1:54:33

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Zappa: The Central Instrumentalizer Vol I

zappa
1.  Filthy Habits – Sleep Dirt (1979)
2.  Twenty Small Cigars – Chunga’s Revenge (1970)
3.  Pink Napkins – Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar (1981)
4.  We Are Not Alone – The Man From Utopia (1983)
5.  Zoot Allures – Zoot Allures (1976)
6.  Treacherous Cretins – Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar (1981)
7.  Apostrophe’ – Apostrophe’ (1974)
8.  Rat Tomago – Sheik Yabouti (1979)
9.  Black Napkins – Zoot Allures (1976)
10. Watermelon in Easter Hay – Joe’s Garage (1979)
11.  Rejyptian Strut – Sleep Dirt (1979)
12.  Sofa No.1 – One Size Fits All (1975)
13.  What’s New in Baltimore – FZ Meets the Mothers of Prevention (1985)
14.  Tink Walks Amok – The Man From Utopia (1983)
15.  G-spot Tornado – Jazz From Hell (1986)
16.  Blessed Relief – The Grand Wazoo (1972)
17.  Peaches En Regalia – Hot Rats (1969)
18.  Aybe Sea – Burnt Weeny Sandwich (1970)
19.  Imaginary Diseases – Imaginary Diseases (2007)
20.  Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – Guitar (1988)
Running time: 1:39:07
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#3: Frank Zappa – Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar (1981)

Hi. Here at Pierce’s Press I take a look at bloated, self-indulgent, expansive double albums and gleefully trim it back to a single, dreck-free, no filler, concise, listenable record without having to reach for the skip button or needle re-positioning.

I think it may benefit some over-stuffed double albums from a little tightening up. It’s certainly the case for UnDoubled #3: Frank Zappa’s Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar series, a project consisting of Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar, Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar Some More and Return of the Son of Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar, now receiving the UnDoubled mistreatment.

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Shut Up UnDoubled

Side One:

  1.  Five-Five-Five (2:35)
  2.  Treacherous Cretins (5:35)
  3.  Heavy Duty Judy (4:42)
  4.  Soup ‘N Old Clothes (7:49)

Side Two:

  1.  The Deathless Horsie (6:20)
  2.  Pink Napkins (4:35)
  3.  Pinocchio’s Furniture (2:05)
  4.  Stucco Homes (9:08)

These mostly live instrumental passages and Zappa’s beautifully lyrical guitar soloing were used as links between tracks at concerts, these recorded between 1977 and 1980, eventually released in the all-encompassing triple album Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar in 1981. Trimming a 20-track set down to a manageable eight numbers was no easy task, especially when the entire album is of an extraordinarily high standard. This was a hugely important venture into guitar-jazz conceptualization for the artist, this abridged version captures the creme de la creme: soft touches (Pink Napkins), sublime melodic phrasing (The Deathless Horsie) and intense guitar assaults (Five-Five-Five) from one of the great guitarists in rock history.

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