Sorry Ladies and Gents, I’ve been in a music blog funk as of late but i’ve got some great tunes lined up for you so sit back, relax, and enjoy. This week features some great lost versions of Beatle songs, some great live performances from the likes of The Allman Brothers Band, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, as well as the lost soul of O.V. Wright, the smooth Philadelphia sound of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the eclectic sound collaging of Barton Fink, the crooning of Lou Rawls, Paul McCartney teamed up with Elvis Costello, as well as some great numbers from Lyle Lovett, The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Beck, and Radiohead. If you dig it, support the artists. The full mixtape after the jump
1. A Day In the Life- The Beatles
Believed by many to be the penultimate Beatles recording, A Day in The Life is best heard (as most of The Beatles songs are) in mono, Stereo at the time was a new technology, and the masters were often just weaker re-tapes of The Beatles mono mixes, I tracked down this version from Purple Chick, a collective that has been remastering Beatles albums for a while now and A Day in the Life turns into nothing short of a headphone masterpiece. The instrumentals are top notch and exemplary of the Beatles musicianship style; each playing its own part. Paul’s piano and John’s guitar interplay are otherworldly, Ringo’s drum fills are unparalleled and the studio craftsmanship is impeccable.
2. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed- The Allman Brothers Band
There has perhaps never been better live guitar interplay before or since, captured from The Allman Brothers Live At the Fillmore East one of the quintessential live rock albums, this over 13 minute long masterpiece goes from a slow burn into a frenetic melody that showcased The Allman Brothers perfection as a live band, while Grateful Dead live pieces similar in length could suffer from overly meandering solos, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed plays out like a jazz standard, perfectly orchestrated and never dull (Duane Allman himself said his solo was inspired by Giant Steps era Coltrane). This album would send the Allman Brothers into stardom, and out Duane Allman as a virtuoso guitarist.
3. The E Street Shuffle/ Having A Party- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Taken from the great live album Live at the Hammersmith Odeon ’75, this performance of The E Street Shuffle, a frenetic block party workout in its studio form, is a much more intriguing read, and the bands skill with dynamics is showcased to perfection, the slide guitar a perfect accompaniment and you can feel the whole bands enthusiasm, the addition of working in Sam Cooke’s Having A Party makes it only that much better.
4. The Love I Lost- Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
Much like Backstabbers by the O’Jays, this song is exemplary of The Philly Soul sound, a rhythmic smoothly produced studio sound with pulsing bass-lines and warmly recorded strings and guitars. The Love I Lost features a dynamic vocal performance by the recently deceased Teddy Pendergrass, and that guitar in the beginning sounds like a lick right out of George Harrison’s guitar book, just a great moving tune.
5. A Nickel And A Nail- O.V. Wright
Simply the greatest soul singer you’ve never heard of, equal parts Al Green charisma, Sam Cooke warmth and Otis Redding passion, equally deserving of the fame Al Green earned, and both worked with Willie Mitchell, producer of Hi Records and famed for his warm punchy soul sound. Definitely an artist worth looking more into
6. My Brave Face- Paul McCartney
At the time Flowers in the Dirt was released Paul McCartney was struggling to make it back as a relevant rocker, his past few albums had been flops and his band Wings had never recovered from the immense pressure of being in Paul McCartney’s Beatle shadow. However after meeting Elvis Costello, McCartney would try to regain the magic he had as a composer with Lennon to great effect. Much like Lennon, Costello was a sarcastic and cynical lyricist, which provided a perfect antithesis to McCartney’s upbeat and happy melodies, My Brave Face features a best of both worlds, a great McCartney bass line and melody, and although McCartney handles all the vocals, Costello’s contribution in the bridge can be felt perfectly, the result was a great pop song, and one of Paul McCartney’s best solo efforts.
7. Veronica- Elvis Costello
In return for his collaboration on My Brave Face, McCartney lent his songwriting abilities to this wistful narrative about a woman with Alzheimer’s. The chorus and lyrics have McCartney’s hand-print all over them, an updated Elanor Rigby delivered with Costello’s cynicism and McCartney’s optimism.
8. Figure of Eight- Paul McCartney
Also off of the Flowers in the Dirt album, this is one of the catchiest melodic guitar riffs McCartney ever came up with, and the arrangement suits his passionate vocal delivery perfectly.
9. In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down- Lou Rawls
The question is who has a better natural vocal between Bill Withers and Lou Rawls. Rawls certainly makes the case here, blessed with a four octave range (thats 32 notes for those of you counting out there) and aptly handles the line between passionate gospel and smooth crooner. Listening to this song, from the great Lou Rawls Live! album just gives you a feeling of cool, no doubt helped by the great dynamic instrumental play and the walking upright bass. I dare you to deny Lyle Lovett wasn’t influenced by Rawls, if not this specific song.
10. Fever- Barton Fink
Another great song from Barton Fink, an eclectic mashup of different sounds, some sampled, some recorded live, and in total a great groove.
11. I Was Thinking…- Guantlet Hair
Culled from the great music blog We All Want Someone to Shout For this song is equally parts body shaker and summery lo fi and an intriguing song at that.
12. Paperback Writer- The Beatles
Another one from Purple Chick, I had been hearing for years that the stereo (and subsequent CD versions) of Paperback Writer didn’t capture the pumping energy of the original mono recording, well fear no more, the bass here is at full power and the guitars have an unbridled grittiness that the stereo version never captured.
13. L.A. County- Lyle Lovett
From his Pontiac album, this is one of the sweetest songs ever written about stalking a lost love.
14. When You Took Your Love From Me- O.V. Wright
A great slow soul barn burner from this underrated performer
15. Tumbling Dice- The Rolling Stones
Exile on Main Street is one of rock’s finest albums famously mired in faded acoustics and dynamics, so it was with my fingers crossed that I anticipated this remaster, seeing as often they’re made too clean and clear and take away from the feel of the original recording. I’m happy to say it came off excellently, the famously faded and dirty sound still present, while the vocals are now able to be heard more clearly than ever.
16. One for My Baby ( And One More For The Road)- Frank Sinatra
One of Ol’ Blue Eyes finest performances, and some great piano work to boot, he’s not just singing about the place, he inhabits it.
17. I’ve Got The World on the String- Frank Sinatra
Long before Jay-Z claimed he had swagger, Frank Sinatra defined it. His vocals are on this are unbeatable, especially when he twirls his voice, acting out the words “string wrapped around my finger” the horns are punchy, and you can tell he’s on top of the world.
18. One Way Out- The Allman Brothers Band
Again captured from their finest live document, The Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East. This blues number is played to perfection, and they way its delivered by Gregg Allman makes you think they wrote it, great rhythm section and guitar interplay and one of my favorite guitar intros of all time.
19. The Golden Age- Beck
From arguably his greatest LP Sea Changes, Golden Age is a sonic masterpiece with a style that would eerily foreshadow Radiohead’s OK Computer
20. A Punchup At A Wedding- Radiohead
I’m not usually a Radiohead fan but this song off of Hail to the Thief is a studio masterpiece with bass elements of The Beatles’s “Come Together” and CSNY’s “Cathedral”, a great driving acoustic piano but the rest is all Thom Yorke’s own.
21. I’ve Been To Memphis- Lyle Lovett
The first Lyle song I fell in love with, a great piano intro and a rollicking rhythm section, with some great lyrics to boot.