Paul McCartney – Flowers in the Dirt (1989)


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)


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.


  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)


  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)

disc 3 & 4 cover

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)

disc 5 cover

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)

disc 6 cover

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)

disc 8 cover

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)


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


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.


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.


  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.


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

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.


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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#4: Fleetwood Mac – Tusk (1979)

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 #4: Fleetwood Mac’s expansive Tusk, now receiving the UnDoubled mistreatment.

Fleetwood_Mac_-_Tusk 2.jpg

Tusk UnDoubled

Side One:

  1.  Tusk (3:37)
  2.  Think About Me (2:44)
  3.   Sara (6:30)
  4.   I Know I’m Not Wrong (3:00)
  5. Brown Eyes (4:27)

Side Two:

  1.   That’s Enough for Me (1:50)
  2.   Angel (4:53)
  3.   Save Me a Place (2:42)
  4.   Over and Over (4:34)
  5.   That’s All for Everyone (3:03)
  6.   Beautiful Child (5:21)

Tusk. While not as concise as the magical Fleetwood Mac (1975) and Rumours (1977) albums, nor as commercially successful, there are treasures buried deep within. At a time the band was splintering under big egos, internal relationship struggles and exhaustion (check out the footage of artistic linchpin Lindsey Buckingham creating bathroom home recordings), Fleetwood Mac admirably did not follow a formula to create a Rumours 2 at the behest of their record company Warner Bros. If they had, the album may have ended up something like this UnDoubled creation. Punchy Buckingham opener, even spread of Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks songs, rockers, ballads of equal proportion. Instead we were given a 20 track kitchen sink double album  possibly a case of too much is more than enough. Particularly Buckingham, he is all over this, in a good way. Writing half of the album and arranging most of it, a lot of his coked up Buddy Holly (That’s Enough for Me) via Brian Wilson (That’s All for Everyone) compositions would’ve slotted in nicely on eccentric solo album Law and Order (1981).

Interesting fact: former Mac guitarist Peter Green plays on the superb Brown Eyes, uncredited.

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