Cover Versions, Hard-to-find

‘Just Dropped In…’ quadruple-whammy

‘I Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)‘ was Kenny Rogers‘ second single with his group The First Edition. It made the US Billboard Top 10 in 1968 and rode the crest of the psychedelic wave that was sweeping the music world at the time – “I tripped over a cloud and fell 8 miles high, tore my mind on the jagged sky.” Like, wow, man. The intro has backwards guitars, the solo is played by Glen Campbell (is there anything he didn’t play on in the 60s?) and the drums were played by Mickey Jones, well known to Dylan afficianados as the drummer who couldnae hack it on Dylan’s 1966 world tour with the Hawks.

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Nice trousers.

So. Great pedigree. And a great song. About as far removed from ‘Islands In The Stream’, ‘The Gambler’ or ‘Coward Of The County’ as you could possibly hope for. Indeed, Jimi Hendrix called ‘Just Dropped In…his favourite song ever. I wish Jimi had done a version. You just know it it would’ve sounded brilliant. I bet Jerry lee Lewis‘ version sounds the business as well. Too bad he canned it as soon as he recorded it. Or did he? No amount of poking about cyberspace has unearthed it for me, but maybe you’ve got a version knocking about somewhere. Over to you…

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No funny comment here.

In the meantime, here’s 3 covers. All different, all fantastic. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings recorded their version as a tribute to the sounds of late 60s Stax and Motown. It sounds like Lynn Collins or one of those James Brown Funky People women singers he often produced. You can see the video for it (don’t think it’s official but it’s great) over on YouTube where the grainy, fuzzy footage is supposed to look like an old VHS taped copy of Soul Train. I thought Sharon Jones had come up with a really great idea for an original cover until I found out that Bettye Lavette had covered the self same track in 1968. I bet Bettye’s sounds just like it (I’m off to seek it out) but I do like Sharon Jones’ attempt. This version has only been released on dead-hard-to-get 7″ (try eBay), but I’ve got one. And now you do too.

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They were young, they ran free, they grew old gracefulleee…

Supergrass put their version on the b-side of the double a sided ‘Alright/Time’ single. So lots of people will own this, but many people may not even have played it, given that anyone who bought ‘Alright’ played it on repeat for the whole summer of 1995 and then never wanted to hear it again. Which is a shame, cos ‘Time‘ is a cracker’, and ‘Condition‘ (as their version is called) sounds just like a Supergrass track from the ‘I Should Coco’ era. Which it is, funnily enough. Here it is.

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Scuffed, battered and full of character. Just like his face.

I’ve left possibly the best version till last. Like Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson is considered a country singer, but his version of ‘…Condition…‘ is not really country per-se. It’s laid back, soulful and has an intro that is absolutely ripe for sampling. If Sharon Jones’ cover is the Saturday night version then Willie Nelson’s is the Sunday morning hangover cure. You can find it on his ‘Rainbow Connection’ album from 2001. Or get it here.

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Hard-to-find, Studio master tapes

Sgt Pepper’s Lovely Hot Cross Bun

New Links Updated January 2009!!!

Happy Easter, one and all. This post is something of a milestone, seen as it’s my 100th post. Cue trumpets, fanfares and perhaps a gold watch from my employers. Since late last year I was anticipating this post and had decided on something incredible that I would make available for download. But that’ll have to wait for another day. It was all ready to go as well, until some like-minded geeks over on the Teenage Fanclub message boards pointed me in the direction of THE BEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE INTERNET.

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It’s only four of The Beatlesstudio master tapes! I’ll say that again. It’s. Only. Four. Of. The. Beatles’. Studio. Master. Tapes. The individual 4 or so tracks that make up ‘Sgt Peppers…’, ‘She’s Leaving Home’, ‘A Day In The Life’ and ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’. Yer actual masters! In digital form! Crystal clear! It’s like Paul McCartney is singing right in front of you! Jeeez, the ‘Sgt Peppers’ backing tracks are amaaaaaazing! Here’s a quick burst of George’s stinging guitar and some Salvation Army horns. Like it? Now download the lot! (*see below) Get yourself audacity, load the tracks into it individually and get ready to do a ‘2 Many DJs’-style mash-up and impress your friends. Or, you could set up your computer, load up the tracks and pretend you’re George Martin on one of those Classic Album documentaries, pontificating over the use of the string section in ‘She’s Leaving Home’. “This is a wonderful part (slide the faders) – Paul had the idea for a string quartet – just listen out for the harp…(plink plink)…rather lovely, don’t you agree?” It’s The Beatles! Just the way you like them!

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Martin and Lennon ponder how they’ll sound after you’ve had a go at the controls

How are these available? Surely the record companies could be making some money by releasing these in some sort of commercial form? That’s what I was thinking/fearing. This post may be removed quicker than Paul’s moustache, so you better act fast. The story goes that since studio tape is a wee bit fragile after time, some record companies are digitizing many of their master tapes to preserve them as best as possible. But some enterprising body has sneaked a few mixes out and leaked them onto the internet. If you look hard enough there are loads more – Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’ (a certain future post), some Eagles stuff, Nirvana, Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (yes, really!) Seek and ye shall find. It’s a wonderful world out there, it really is. This is musical porn, man. Musical porn.

‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ Studio Master Tapes
‘A Day In The Life’ Studio Master Tapes
‘She’s Leaving Home’ Studio Master Tapes
‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ Studio Master Tapes

Happy remixing!

Any links to other stuff of a similar nature gratefully accepted. Of course.
Oh, and if you’re a latecomer to these fine pages, nice to see you. More Beatles elsewhere on Plain Or Pan – take time to poke about!

Dylanish, entire show, Hard-to-find

Are these French ones? No, they’re healthy cigarettes!

In 1962, a 20 year old Bob Dylan recorded an hour long show for Cynthia Gooding‘s ‘Folksinger’s Choice’ radio programme. History seems to be a bit fuzzy regarding the actual date of recording, or even if the show was actually broadcast at all. My bootleg says 11th March 1962, so that’s what I’m sticking with. You may know differently. What is absolutely astonishing about this show is that it exists at all, and in such brilliant quality. I don’t know what methods were used to extract the show from the radio to someones tape recorder. Maybe the recording is taken straight from the radio station’s own tapes (which is more than likely), but if you’re in any way shape or form a fan of Bob Dylan, you need this bootleg in your collection, it’s simple as that.

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What you get is young pre-Columbia Bob playing a mixture of original and traditional material. In it’s own right, that’d be good enough. What makes this recording even better is the between-song chat between Cynthia and Dylan. They’d met each other in 1959, when Dylan sang to Gooding at a party after one of her concerts. She recognised his talent and was impressed enough to go and see him perform his own shows at places like Folk City in New York. Throughout the radio show, she is clearly in awe of him. In fact, I’d say she fancies the pants off him, and Dylan knows it. His tall stories regarding where and how he grew up are in full flow – “I’d just come from South Dakota……I’d come there from Sioux Falls“,  “I was a clean-up boy, I used to be on the main line, on the ferris wheel, do just fun rides. I used to do all kinds of stuff like that…..I skipped a bunch of things, and I didn’t go to school a bunch of years and I skipped this and I skipped that.” Dylan talks about his influences, how he writes songs, and when cornered has to admit that, maybe, some of these songs, well, he only wrote the first couple of verses himself and the rest of the song is, I don’t know, something I heard before.

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Bob, with healthy cigarette

Fantastic stuff, every wee bit of it. The full tracklisting on the back of the disc is below, but really, download and burn as gapless for that full radio show experience. The link for the whole show (plus artwork) in one complete .rar file is here. As a tempter, here’s one of the between-song chats and a version of ‘Smokestack Lightning’.

Lonesome Whistle Blues
Fixin’ To Die
Smokestack Lightning
Hard Travelin’
Death Of Emmett Till
Standing On The Highway
Roll On John
Stealin’
Long Time Man Feel Bad
Baby Please Don’t Go
Hard Times In New York

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“D’ya like that?…………..I sure do!”

Hard-to-find

Dead 60s dead.

I read a couple of days ago that the Dead 60s had decided to call it a day. No massive falling out over royalties, musical differences, girlfriends in the studio, any of that stuff. As their website says, “We just felt like the band had run its course, time for us all to branch out & try other things.” No big deal. The world hasn’t stopped. No one’s life is over, but the Dead 60s brand of Liverpudlian indie ska is no more.

Most folks preferred The Ordinary Boys anyway (!) But I had a bit of a soft spot for the Dead 60s. I thought they were a Scouse Specials. In hindsight they’re not really, but so what? A few years ago my pal Quinny & I hosted a radio show for student radio. It was called ‘Under The Influence’ and it was fantastically brilliant. You may have heard it now and again?

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In reality, just as very few people heard the Dead 60s, very few people heard our show. But if you had, you’d have heard us play ‘Riot Radio’ the band’s first single. I went on a download frenzy after hearing this track and discovered the Dead 60s dubtastic version of The White Stripes ‘7 Nation Army’. I think it may have been recorded for an XFM session, I’m not too sure. It’s spacey, echoey and features great spaghetti western guitars. It’s nothing like the garage rock of the original. Lee Perry Mavers!  I like it. You will too! Here it is.

Another couple of Seven Nation Army covers for you:

1. The Dynamics (Lovers rock/dub version, nice melodica solo. Fans of the Dead 60s?)

2. The Flaming Lips (Surely you’ve heard this by now? Fuzz bass, car sirens, vocals through a food blender, it’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine. Yes, the Flaming Lips can do no wrong.)

3. Bonus track. Here’s one of those mash-ups that I keep saying I don’t like. Public Enemy Vs The White Stripes, ‘Bring The 7 Nation Army’. Bass! How low can you go?

Hard-to-find

Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice With No Wee Bits You Don’t Like Floating In It

The Vinyl Villain is an excellent blog. Over the past year or so I have compiled a couple of CDs worth of hard-to-get music that has been made available on the site and I am a regular visitor throughout the week. Possibly in the wake of BBC4’s ‘Caledonia Dreaming’ rockumentary and it’s attendant Edwyn Collins documentary (or possibly not), The Vinyl Villain has come up with a very laudable scheme. He will make you a personal, 60 minute compilation of almost ANY Orange Juice material that has ever been available. All the rare b-sides, flexi disc stuff, Peel sessions, etc etc that you could shake a Roger McGuinn fringe at. Or the ‘You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever’ album if you still don’t have it. It’s your choice.

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The bulk of your money (£6 – surely a bargain) goes to Quarriers, a very worthwhile cause. See the blog for full details and the complete list of available tracks. Make your own Orange Juice LP! What could be more fun and more worthwhile? Go! Now! Keep The Vinyl Villain’s CD burner working overtime. I’m off to peruse the list and see what gems he has waiting for me.

Orange Juice – L.O.V.E. Love

Al Green – L.O.V.E. Love

It doesn’t get much better than that

Dylanish

The Blues Is Still The Blues

The new (April) issue of Mojo is giving away one of the best free CDs I think I’ve ever got from a magazine. Usually I tend to play these things once at best (sometimes they remain in their shrinkwrap forever) but ‘The New Dictionary Of Blues And Soul’ is a belter. It’s so good it made me want to write about it. It’s been on constant rotation this weekend and has made the job of cleaning the wooden floor in preparation for a visit from my mother-in-law all the more bearable. The compilation features only new artists playing blues and soul, just as authentically as any of the old masters you already know and love. When I hear the term ‘New Blues and Soul’ I think of keech like James Morrison or Adele, but these artists have the chops, the soul and the clout to show they mean it, maaaaaan.

I’m posting one track from the CD and another 2 that didn’t feature on it, but on another day would be equally at home on such a compilation with Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings (essentially Amy Winehouse’s band on the ‘Back To Black’ album), Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed & the True Loves, Edgar ‘Jones’ Jones and Seasick Steve, amongst a dozen or so non-household names. Saying that, Seasick Steve is playing the Albert Hall. THE Albert Hall, not the shitty wee place in Stirling, so who I am to suggest who is and who isn’t a household name?

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Pete Molinari is on the Mojo CD doing ‘I Don’t Like The Man I Am’. This is taken from his forthcoming ‘A Virtual Landslide’ album, which on the strength of this track, I will be buying. Molinari has all the right credentials. His album was produced at Toe Rag Studios by Liam Watson, he did his shift in New York’s  Greenwich Village at the Cafe Wha? and The Gaslight and he has a soul voice that wannabees like Paulo Nuttini would swap their 1970s Rod Stewart collections for. ‘I Don’t Like The Man I Am’ sounds a bit ‘Time Out Of Mind’-era Dylan and would fit neatly beside tracks like ‘Tryin’ To Get To Heaven’.

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T-Model Ford records for Fat Possum records, the home of raw and unpolished blues. He was born in Mississppi, of course. He thinks he’s 75 but isn’t sure. He’s been in the jail for murder amongst other offences. If his music wasn’t so powerful, he’d be a walkin, talkin’ cliche of the blues. ‘Nobody Gets Me Down’ is on his forthcoming ‘Pee-Wee Get My Gun’ album.

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RL Burnside also records on Fat Possum. In 1997 he recorded his debut album for Fat Possum. He was 71 and sounds it. Like T-Model Ford, he’s lived a full-on life. He’s been a sharecropper, a migrant worker and seen his father, brother and uncle all murdered within a month of each other. He sings the blues with unquestionable authenticity. He played music for much of his life, but it wasn’t until the 1990s when Jon Spencer (of the Blues Explosion) started name dropping him (and later recorded with him) that he got any incling of recognition. This track, ‘Shake ‘Em On Down’ is from his 1997 album ‘A Ass Pocket Of Whiskey’. Robert Lee is currently rockin the good Lord up above. (ie, he’s deid.) Amen.