davidbowie

For several years now, Chris O’Leary’s Pushing Ahead of the Dame blog has been one of the Greatest Things On The Internet, with O’Leary guiding readers through the endless twists and turns of David Bowie’s fascinating career, song by song. Last month, Zero Books published Rebel Rebel, the first volume of this gargantuan project, covering 1964-1976, and featuring revised/expanded/improved entries. Needless to say it’s an essential addition to your bookshelf.

As a teaser, we asked O’Leary to round up some of the best and most interesting Bowie oddities yet to be officially released. Here’s what he came up with. . .
__________________________________________________________________________________

The “unreleased” David Bowie is a thin field, comparatively speaking. For one thing, there are no circulating recordings (audio or visual) of Bowie performing in the 1960s, barring a clip of him lip-syncing “Space Oddity” on a German TV show in 1969. The rest of his ‘60s television appearances were wiped or possibly misfiled (there’s a long-standing rumor that various Dutch and German TV appearances exist and will resurface one day). Although he and his bands regularly played venues like the Marquee Club in London, there are no tapes of these performances, at least circulating. And there are only a relative handful of demos, alternate mixes and outtakes from Bowie’s various albums.

Why? Well, part of it’s because Bowie was a commercial nonentity for much of the ’60s, so if you were an enterprising bootlegger with a reel of tape, you’d probably record the Stones or the Small Faces or Pink Floyd, not the opening act, “Davy Jones and the Lower Third.” And Bowie’s kept a firm grip on his recordings, especially those cut after 1976. He owns most of his masters and session tapes (allegedly), so there’s been nothing remotely equivalent to the “Unsurpassed Masters” series of Beatles studio outtakes or the ever-expanding Dylan outtake archive.

This situation shows no sign of changing. While in the 1990s, Bowie let Ryko include some outtakes on their CD issues of his back catalog (a list here), he’s shown little interest of late in repackaging his old records with “new” demos and alternate takes.

That said, there are still a lot of things to look for:

The Bowie/Hutchinson tape: Recorded in spring 1969, this demo tape was cut by Bowie and his then-partner John Hutchinson, who were looking for a deal with the likes of Atlantic and Philips/Mercury, the latter of whom signed Bowie as a solo artist. A few songs from the tape have been issued as CD extras—demos of “Space Oddity” and “An Occasional Dream”—but most of the tape’s still unreleased. Notable for “Lover to the Dawn,” the ancestor of Bowie’s “Cygnet Committee,” a wonderfully fragile-sounding demo of “Letter to Hermione” and covers of Lesley Duncan’s “Love Song” and Roger Bunn’s “Life Is a Circus.” Originally issued as the 1980s bootleg The Beckenham Oddity, a heap of subsequent versions exist.

The Complete BBC Sessions: Bowie at the Beeb did a fine job of compiling the most essential of Bowie’s recordings for the BBC, cut between 1967-1972, but a number of songs from these sessions remain unreleased.

Bowie: Songwriter: This is the largest trove of unofficial Bowie out there—the songs he recorded, mainly at his publisher’s office ca. 1967-1972, that his manager and publisher distributed as prospective covers. These range from songs for Bowie’s proposed 1968 album on Deram (which he never recorded) like “April’s Tooth of Gold,” “Silver Treetop School For Boys” and “Social Kind of Girl,” to demos of songs like “Changes”.

There are some wonderful oddities intended for other singers, like the “cabaret” vamp “Miss Peculiar” (rejected by Tom Jones), “Right on Mother” (recorded, with little success, by Peter Noone) and my favorite, “Rupert the Riley,” an ode to Bowie’s vintage cars and sung by Mickey King, a minor figure in the Bowie circle at the time.

ork-records-complete-singles-1If there’s a thick wad of cash burning a hole in your pocket come National Record Store Day this year, you could certainly do a lot worse than scooping up this collection of lovingly reproduced 7-inches via the always reliable Numero Group. Ork Records, briefly, was one of the original indie labels, curated by NYC tastemaker Terry Ork. Leading off with epochal debuts from Television and Richard Hell & The Voidoids, the label was on the front lines of the mid-70s CBGB scene.

We may know it as “punk” these days, but the music on this collection is wide ranging, eclectic and adventurous: the rules had yet to be written. So you’ve got the spindly stabs of Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel” bumping up against Chris Stamey’s power pop masterpiece “Summer Sun.” You’ve got Alex Chilton’s ragged-but-right Singer Not The Song EP sharing space with Cheetah Chrome’s nihilistic rants. Of special interest is the previously unreleased Feelies single, with two amped up tunes that would become Crazy Rhythms classics, “Fa Ce La,” and “Forces At Work.”

As might be expected with lavish collectors’ items of this kind, the Ork singles come with a hefty price tag. The good lord willing, there will be a more affordable version of this essential collection released in the near future… words / t wilcox

Richard Hell :: Blank Generation

mel

Saturday. Thick smoke billowing from the pig cooker ’cause Mel Brown’s got a free form groove on low and slow. Cold drinks in the ice chest. More folks coming over soon. John Lee Hooker’s Endless Boogie up next. Alright. words / j steele

Mel Brown :: Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitlins

deballot

Here is a comprehensive list of everything that is known about these two songs: They were recorded by A.M. Deballot in Benin. That’s it. Googling his name produces seven results. Doesn’t matter. The offset, shuffling rhythms are perfectly embellished by an organ that could’ve been lifted from This Year’s Model. The sun is shining, it’s a Friday, and this music exists. words / m garner

A.M. Deballot :: A Wudu
A.M. Deballot :: Bella

aquarium drunkard show

Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 383: Jean Michel Bernard – Generique Stephane ++ Alain Goraguer – La Femme ++ Carsten Meinert Kvartet – One For Alice ++ Mad A – Aouh Aouh ++ Dr. John – I Walk On Guilded Splinters ++ Sweet Breeze – Good Thing ++ Los Holy’s – Psicodelico Desconocido (Cissy Strut) ++ Bo Diddley – Another Sugar Daddy ++ Al Green – All Because ++ Thee Image – Outasite ++ Adanowsky – Me Siento Solo ++ Gabor Szabo – Caravan ++ Blossom Dearie – That’s Just The Way I Want To Be ++ Jennifer – I Am Waiting ++ Michel Colombier – Canon ++ Kim Jung Mi – Haenim ++ Marcos Valle – Dez Leis ++ Panda Bear – Slow Motion ++ Elvis Presley – Blue Moon ++ Julee Cruise – Floating ++ Linda Perhaps – Paper Mountain Man ++ Amen Dunes – Spirits Are Parted ++ David Crosby – I’d Swear There Was Somebody Here ++ John Martyn – Solid Air ++ Oliver – Off On A Trek ++ Jim Woehrle & Michael Yonkers – Monkey’s Tail ++ Manassas – So Begins The Task ++ The Who – Fortune Teller ++ Billy Nicholls – Girl From New York  ++ The Kinks – Supersonic Rocket Ship ++ Tommy James – Midnight Train ++ Ty Segall – Bees ++ Bernard Chabert – Il Part En Californie (He Moved To California) ++ Rolling Stones – Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind ++ Neil Young – The Old Laughing Lady

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
__________________________________________________________________________________

Walkabout-1971_-Jenny-Agutter-Refuge-Radio

To hold a Jenny Agutter film festival would be an inspired idea. In the late-’60s, throughout the ’70s and early ’80s, the UK actress had a golden run featuring in some of the era’s most intriguing films. From the early, quintessentially British ones like 1969’s I Start Counting and The Railway Children through Nic Roeg’s 1971 existential outback adventure Walkabout, the sci-fi cult hit Logan’s Run, Monte Hellman’s underestimated western China 9, Liberty 37 and, of course, John Landis’ 1981 horror-comedy – An American Werewolf in London.

And, lest we forget, the John Sturges WWII potboiler The Eagle Has Landed, the Dunkirk-inspired The Snow Goose (for which Agutter won an Emmy), and her BAFTA Award-winning turn in Equus. It seems everyone has fallen in love with Jenny Agutter at least once, and the beauty is that the soundtracks to Agutter’s films are just as fascinating as her on-screen achievements.

Basil Kirchin :: I Start Counting (I Start Counting, 1970)

Agutter stars as a 14-year-old in this coming-of-age kitchen sink thriller. She harbours feelings for her older step-brother but fears he’s responsible for a spate of sex-murders. Basil Kirchin’s I Start Counting, performed by Lindsey Moore, soundtracks the opening credits. Dusty Springfield also did a brilliant version.

John Barry :: Walkabout Main Title (Walkabout, 1971)

Midnight Cowboy proved John Barry wasn’t just the Swingin’ London James Bond guy. Walkabout, a hallucinatory jaunt through the Australian outback and the mind, again required something more contemplative and meditative than 007. Agutter’s nude swimming scenes were inspired by the paintings of Sidney Nolan.

Pino Donaggio :: Tema di Clayton [Part One] (China 9 Liberty 37, 1978)

It wouldn’t be a surprise if director Monte Hellman flat-out asked composer Pino Donaggio to give him a cosmic cross between Ennio Morricone and Midnight Cowboy. Harmonica and finger-picked guitar takes up with Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’ and Morricone’s Il Clan Dei Siciliani left off. If you like your westerns slow, full of Warren Oates and appreciate the idea of a Sam Peckinpah-as-pulp-writer cameo, China 9 Liberty 37 is a joy.

Jerry Goldsmith :: The Dome-The City-Nursery (Logan’s Run, 1976)

Welcome to the 23rd Century, a domed post-apocalyptic world where, to preserve harmony and discourage over-population, no one passes the age of 30. Agutter plays the rebellious Jessica 6, who along with Michael York’s Logan 5, escapes to a mythical place known as Sanctuary. Jerry Goldsmith, a Hollywood veteran who’d soundtracked The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Chinatown and Patton, lets his futuristic electronica freak-flag fly. Logan’s Run is a forerunner to the rash of recent teen-focused dystopian epics like The Hunger Games franchise, The Maze and Justin Timberlake’s In Time. A Hollywood re-make is, of course, in development.

The Marcels :: Blue Moon (An American Werewolf in London, 1981)

Beware the full moon, stay on the road and keep clear of the moors. While the film didn’t feature Warren Zevon’s seemingly tailor-made “Werewolves of London”, it did gather songs preoccupied with the moon including Van Morrison’s “Moondance” (transformed by Agutter’s shower scene), CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising and several versions of “Blue Moon by Bobby Vinton, Sam Cooke and the Marcels buoyant romp [Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom ba ba bom ba ba bom ba ba dang a dang dang/Ba ba ding a dong ding Blue moon moon blue moon dip di dip di dip]. The rest of the score was done by Elmer Bernstein. words /c hollow

28Claxton1960.jpg~original

As a kid I had a postcard of a saxophone player standing outside New York’s Birdland. It was taken by William Claxton and I found out recently that it’s a still from the John Cassavetes 1959 film, Shadows. The subject is the raccoon-eyed actor Ben Carruthers (who later played screen-busting character parts in The Dirty Dozen and Riot with Gene Hackman). It’s the same Ben Carruthers who was friends with Bob Dylan, introduced Bob to Nico in Paris, which in turn inspired “I’ll Keep It With Mine”.

In mid-’60s London, Carruthers decided to record a 45 and used a poem lifted from the liner notes of Another Side Of. The single was called “Jack O’ Diamonds” backed with a jazzy blurt called “Right Behind You”. Shel Talmy producing, Jimmy Page and Nicky Hopkins playing. They play like Them, Carruthers sings like Richard Hell. It was released then quickly withdrawn because of the illegitimate nature of the Dylan-Carruthers co-write. It was later covered by Fairport Convention on their debut album, but they dropped the fabulous handclap part. words / c hollow

Ben Carruthers & The Deep :: Jack O’ Diamonds

Moon_Duo

Moon Duo are something of a 21st century Suicide – a synth swelled duo occupying a dreamscape drive down a dark highway. It’s a very specific kind of atmosphere and mood and on Shadow of the Sun, their third long player for the Sacred Bones label, it is perhaps best encapsulated by the slow and spacey “In a Cloud.” Synth washes over the tape in undulating waves as members Ripley Johnson and Sanae Yamada chant in floating, hazy harmony. Flowing ragged guitar gleams like a spectacular, DeLillo-esque sunset – orange, pink and brilliant.

It brings to mind one of the band’s finer early moments – their atmospheric rendition of the Rolling Stones “Winter.” A rendering adrift in the negative space, it is weightless, out of focus and sublime. words / c depasquale

Moon Duo :: Winter

soft After a spell of uncertainty following the release of Soft Cat’s promising debut LP in 2010, it was unclear whether principle songwriter Neil Sanzgiri would continue the project at all. Slowly returning to his craft while immersing himself in the Baltimore music community, he began to compile the material and players for it’s follow-up, Lost No Labor, a captivating collection of baroque-pop serving as a glowing introduction to Sanzgiri’s knack for building patient, pastoral orchestrations rich with hope. Despite managing a constant rotation of collaborators, each Soft Cat release and performance saw Sanzgiri shedding nervous energy, simultaneously becoming an unwavering songwriter capable of weathering any misfortune set to blow his way. This grit would become of note, as mere days after the release a fire would ravage the artist-run gallery space where Sanzgiri along with other Soft Cat members lived.

Rather than succumbing to the events, Soft Cat emerged galvanized capturing the spirit of grief and loss into the deeply moving, spiritual album that is All Energy Will Rise. On his first proper studio effort recorded with producer Craig Bowen, these songs are nothing if not brave. “Somebody,” a truly heart-wrenching number relies on a fairly simply arrangement allowing Sanzgiri’s lyricism to shine. Delivering a far more mature vocal delivery than on previous efforts. Recorded inside of a historic cathedral in downtown Baltimore, the natural room captures the richness of each player, allowing the arrangements to flourish with purpose rather than remain trapped inside a bedroom studio. On “Diana”, possibly the most fully realized Soft Cat track to date, new sounds are planted. A large collaboration spanning six months and four different states, the track culminates in a moment of unbridled jazz-folk that grooves hard, bringing to mind the work of contemporary Ryley Walker. “A Disturbance on the Surface of A Body of Water”, welcomes the first appearance of a primarily distorted-guitar, a risk that works surprisingly well in contrast to the plucked, nylon-string Sanzgiri tends to favor. Though most of these songs speak to the tribulations of everyday existence, this is Soft Cat’s magnum opus. words / j silverstein

Soft Cat :: Diana