You may have heard that the Pixies are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Surfer Rosa with a big box set.
Three CD and Three LP editions out on September 28th, 2018 with new artwork reimagined by original designer Vaughan Oliver and the bonus disc, Live From The Fallout Shelter – one of the earliest recordings of the band, a radio concert that first aired in late 1986 on WJUL-FM in Lowell, MA.
It’s cool that they’re digging up a rare old concert for this, but what a missed opportunity to reissue these classics with the respect they deserve by gathering up all the music they recorded during this era.
It’s easy to imagine what could’ve been.
We all know that Come On Pilgrim was originally recorded as a demo tape to try to get a record deal. It worked, of course, because 4AD heard it and signed the band. 4AD selected 8 of the 17 songs from the demo and released them as Come On Pilgrim, clocking in at a generous twenty minutes and thirty seconds of music.
Most of the remaining nine songs were subsequently re-recorded and released on later albums and singles. Songs like “Broken Face” and “Here Comes Your Man.” All of those nine original demo versions were eventually released by spinART Records in 2002. They’re awesome.
And there’s no reason they shouldn’t be included in a special deluxe anniversary edition. Especially since the 17 songs altogether add up to under 39 minutes.
As I am someone who has long enjoyed the music of the Kinks and the Doors, you might think that I would be over the proverbial moon with the recent announcements—one iffier than the other—that (1) the Kinks are reuniting and (2) there is a 50th anniversary version of Waiting for the Sun coming out this September.
As for the first, Sir Ray Davies (must give the man his propers) told the BBC that he was getting the band back together to record an album, having been inspired by The Rolling Stones’ recent spate of European concerts. The Kinks were formed in ’64, managed to get banned from touring in the U.S. for four years starting in ’65, and disbanded in ’96. The last bona-fide Kinks album, To the Bone, was released in ’94. In addition to Sir Ray, the band included his brother Dave, Mick Avory, and Pete Quaife. Quaife died in 2010. So the reunion would be of a trio, not a quartet.
As for the second, the Doors formed in 1965, and consisted of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger. Their first album, The Doors, appeared in 1967. Waiting for the Sun was the third album, appearing in 1968. L.A. Woman was their last proper album, as it was released in April 1971 and Jim Morrison died in July of that year.
So while there is certainty that the Doors album will appear, whether the Kinks record or not is something that remains to be heard.
And I hope that they don’t.
Realize that the band hasn’t existed since 1996. That’s 22 years ago. The band itself existed for 32 years, which is a long run by any measure and the body of work that it produced includes some of the best songs of the late 20th century.
Either/Or was the first Elliott Smith album I bought. Like a lot of people outside the Pacific Northwest my first exposure to Elliott Smith was the movie Good Will Hunting. Or maybe a pal put something on a mixtape. I can’t remember why but at the time I was opposed to buying soundtracks, so I picked up Either/Or essentially as a way to get my favorite song from the film: “Say Yes.”
I immediately became obsessed. Songs like “Ballad of Big Nothing” and “Rose Parade” had a melodic sensibility that appealed to the Beatles fanatic in me and the dark, clever lyrics were right up my Tom Waits-loving, low-life alley. The recording sounded like it was made by people who reeked of stale cigarette smoke and beer sweat. This was the 90s and bars couldn’t be divey enough for people like us. The dirtier and cheaper, the better. Elliott Smith sounded like a guy we might see in the corner booth at Teazer’s, sipping something in a rocks glass and nodding along and smirking when a not-too-terrible song got played on the jukebox. This is what I projected onto him anyway from listening to the album and looking at the cover photo.
We didn’t have wikipedia in those days so I had to gather clues by scouring the liner notes: “recorded at joanna’s house, my house, the shop, undercover inc., heatmiser house, and laundry rules.” The label was Kill Rock Stars, the home of Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. This was all we had to go on, to make up narratives of our own.
Years later, I’d finally get a chance to see him in concert, but the show was a disaster and he was a mess. A year and a half later, he was dead.
Since then, there have been a number of posthumous releases. First there was From a Basement on the Hill, a collection of the stuff he was working on before he died. In 2007 there was New Moon, a compilation of 24 outtakes mostly recorded between 1994 and 1997. I interviewed archivist Larry Crane back then about putting together that release. A couple years later I interviewed Crane again about what he found in the archives since New Moon. He said there probably wasn’t enough unreleased stuff to release another album, but “There are a lot of interesting alternate and live versions of songs though. I could see doing ‘bonus disc’ versions of the proper albums as a possibility.”
Concord Music Group’s reissue campaign of the Paul McCartney catalog continues on May 28 with 1976’s triple live album, Wings Over America. This will be the fifth release in this series following Band On The Run (2010), McCartney and McCartney II (both 2011), and Ram (2012). All of those have featured excellent remastering and presentation. Bonus tracks have been a little skimpy, but the focus of these reissues seems to be presenting the official recordings with the best sound quality.
Wings Over America is a great 70s live album, but I’m most excited about the DVD/Bluray release of the concert film, “Rockshow.” When we were in high school, GLONO co-founder Derek Phillips and I rented this movie from Crazy Larry’s and watched it in his parents’ basement shortly before watching 80s sex comedy “Hard Bodies” (“HEY DORK EAT ME”). I haven’t seen either movie since then.
Full press release below…
Wings - 'Wings Over The World' Extract
Take Flight Again in 2013… With Wings over America
· Re-release of Paul McCartney & Wings’ groundbreaking 1976 live album Wings over America containing bonus material out May 28th on Hear Music/Concord Music Group
· DVD release of the live concert film ‘Rockshow’ documenting the band’s epic Wings over the World tour across America (June 11th)
· Theatrical release of ‘Rockshow’ and an exclusive VIP premiere screening – featuring an introduction by Paul – at BAFTA (May 15th)
This Spring will see another chapter unfold in the life of Wings, the band formed by Paul McCartney after the break-up of The Beatles – and one of the most successful bands the UK has ever produced.
Wings over America
First, the historic live album, which documented the band’s triumphant 1976 tour across North America, will be reissued in a range of formats. Fans and hardcore devotees alike will be especially thrilled with the stunning four-book, four-disc (3CD, 1DVD) Deluxe Edition Box Set. The box set’s superior audio and video include the two-disc Wings over America album remastered at Abbey Road, a bonus audio disc recorded live at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, a bonus DVD containing the rarely seen 75-minute television special Wings over the World and the photo gallery montage entitled ‘Photographer’s Pass’. Moreover, the Deluxe Edition Box Set contains four exquisitely rendered art books packaged with an incredible array of exclusive memorabilia, souvenirs, mementos, keepsakes and never-before-seen photos and art work from this historic tour. The spectacular 110-page commemorative tour book beautifully recounts the behind-the-scenes drama through dozens of live performances and backstage photos along with new interviews and liner notes from eminent music journalist David Fricke. The Wings over America leatherette-bound ‘Tour Itinerary’ contains extravagant memorabilia including printed 8X10 glossy band photos, a backstage guest pass, facsimiles of the invitation to the infamous end-of-tour party at the Harold Lloyd Estate in Beverly Hills along with Wings over America concert tickets, original album art work, tour posters, set lists, lyrics, press materials and much more. ‘Look’, the box set’s warm and intimate book of Linda McCartney photography features Paul and the band in their everyday life as they made their way across the country in the spring of ’76. Lastly, the set contains ‘The Ocean View’ an extraordinary hardbound compendium of drawings and sketches by artist Humphrey Ocean that captures the band on tour in relaxed and revealing ways. A striking artistic achievement in and of itself, the audacious Wings over America Deluxe Edition Box Set is a must have for any McCartney enthusiast.
Rockshow DVD Release
And for the first time a DVD will be released by Eagle Rock of the live concert film Rockshow which was shot in 1975 and 1976 when Paul McCartney & Wings undertook the epic Wings over the World tour--the largest-scale tour they would ever undertake as a band. Packed with all the classic Wings hits – plus some of Paul’s solo and Beatles classics – the film is released on both DVD and Blu-ray formats. Although filmed on this tour at the enormous Kingdome in Seattle, Rockshow, originally an edited version of the concert, was not premiered until November 1980 in New York and April 1981 in London. It was originally released on Betamax (later on laserdisc) but it’s only now that the complete full-length concert is being made available fully restored from the original 35mm film and with restored & remastered sound, including a 5.1 mix for the first time.
Rockshow Theatrical Release
And then third, but by no means least, Eagle Rock has partnered with distributors Specticast who are releasing the film theatrically worldwide for a ‘one night only’ event’ on May 15th (see here for more details: http://rockshowonscreen.com/) – meaning the film will be shown in more than 500 theaters across the world! The theatrical release features an exclusive introduction with Paul McCartney, but there will also be an exclusive VIP premiere screening of Rockshow, with Paul in attendance and introducing the film, at BAFTA on 15 May 2013.
For Wings Across America Paul brought with him one the most sophisticated and dazzling rock shows of the mid-Seventies (a time when nobody worried about extravagance or expense) and the band would eventually perform to more than 600,000 people at 31 shows in the US and Canada, ending with three mind-bending nights at The Forum in Los Angeles. It’s no exaggeration to say that the demand that greeted Paul McCartney & Wings (Linda McCartney, Joe English, Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch) in the spring of 1976 as they embarked on what would become their one and only North American tour was overwhelming. Having released four consecutive chart busting albums including Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound – not to mention 1973’s Academy Award-winning James Bond theme “Live and Let Die” – Paul’s solo career was in full flight… and having not performed in the States for 10 years either solo or with The Beatles, excitement had reached fever pitch.
Now Paul gives fans the chance to be able to immerse themselves in a concert that is destined to live forever.
Cynics will note that there is virtually no difference performance-wise between the mono recordings of his first eight records for Columbia, so why bother? They will then point to the success of the Beatles’ mono box as the financial motivation for Sony (Columbia’s owner) to pull a similar move, a clear attempt at getting Dylanophiles to dig deep in their wallets once again.
But what cynics also need to acknowledge is that these eight records are absolutely essential and probably half of them changed the course of rock music. So if you’re going to exploit a legendary artist like Dylan with some fancy, overpriced packaging, at least you’re doing it with material that’s pretty hard to fuck up.
In looking at it from that perspective, if someone who is just beginning their studies of Rock Music 101 were to approach the Dylan catalog for the first time, they may as well fork over the dough all at once for the format presented here.
Just a couple weeks ago, we learned that Paul McCartney would be releasing his remastered Band on the Run album as a High Resolution (24bit 96kHz) download, and now George Harrison’s estate is doing the same thing with All Things Must Pass for its 40th anniversary on November 26. No word on whether you’ll be able to get versions with and without peak limiting like you can with Band on the Run, but the fact that hi-res audio is becoming de rigueur from the Apple/Abbey Road team is surely a good sign.
In addition to the digital download, All Things Must Pass will be also released on 180-gram vinyl in its original three-LP configuration, remastered at Abbey Road Studios from the original analog master tapes.
This is exciting news for audiophiles. While the general earbudder might not give a shit about audio quality or dynamic range, people who really enjoy listening—and listening hard!—to music are going to be surprised by the following note from Abbey Road’s Allan Rouse regarding Paul McCartney’s remastered reissue of Band on the Run.
As is common with releases using Topspin’s tools, customers have a number of options, including CD only, deluxe CD package, vinyl, MP3 download, etc. This time, you can also purchase a High Resolution (24bit 96kHz) download for $19.99. The really cool thing about this is you get both limited and unlimited versions of the audio. For non-audiophiles, “limited” audio is a little louder, while the “unlimited” version will “sound quieter, but retain the dynamic range of the original master recording.” The fact that they’re giving people both may signal a real turning point in the Loudness Wars. Let’s hope so anyway…
We’re only getting one version of “You Gave Your Love to Me Softly,” and we’re not getting the radio remix of “Pink Triangle” or the Pixies cover, “Velouria.” Known Songs from the Black Hole songs “Blast Off!” and “Superfriend” are also left out, but there are a couple of songs we hadn’t heard of a year ago: “Getting Up And Leaving” and “Tragic Girl.”
Paul McCartney and Wings‘ 1973 classic album Band on the Run is getting the deluxe remastered resissue treatment and will be released November 2 on Concord. You’ll be able to pick it up in a variety of formats including standard single CD, special edition (2 CD/1 DVD), deluxe edition (3 CD/1 DVD), and vinyl edition (with MP3 download). The remastering was done by the same team at Abbey Road that remastered the Beatles catalog.
For many music fans who were born after the Baby Boom, myself included, the introduction to the Beatles came through two double-album collections, The Beatles 1962-1966 and The Beatles 1967-1970, the Red and Blue albums. Containing a total of 54 selections approved by the former Beatles in 1973, these compilations dug deeper into the catalog than oldies radio or many of our parents ever acknowledged. I can remember taping the vinyl from the library and playing “I Am The Walrus” repeatedly. It felt like I was entering into a magic world, years before I would ingest any illicit substances. Down the rabbit hole, as it were, into the world of obsession and fandom.
I’m pretty sure that kids these days no longer consume music the same way I did, but hopefully curious kids wondering where to start with the Beatles will get ahold of these songs somehow, and dig in. EMI will reissue both collections on October 19, using the 2009 remasters. The liner notes have been expanded, but there won’t be any bonus tracks.