Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What was that English band that released a bunch of stuff last week??

Well, today's the day for the children by the millions (okay, thousands) have been waiting for.

Regarding the live disc, I've read some comments elsewhere by a few who are disappointed that the entire recordings weren't presented in their original order. What I can tell you is that a total of 36 songs were recorded. Four songs were performed three times each. Eight songs were performed twice. Eight songs were performed once. So with the twenty songs on the disc, you're getting the best take of the twelve songs performed more than once and not missing out on any one song. The running order seems to have remained fairly close to the order in which they were originally performed, accounting for the combined performances of course.

Having heard the unedited tapes while doing research for the book, I can tell you that there is a lot of dead space between some songs – often longer than a minute – while the band tunes up, changes instruments etc.. I'm sure you've heard or read by various people associated with Big Star over the years that they didn't have any following to speak of in Memphis. Here you can actually hear it. They finish a song and there's almost NO reaction. Maybe one person randomly applauding. Mostly just conversation and the clinking of glasses and ice. Chilling. Wouldn't we have all loved to have been there and made things different?

I'll be back as soon as my copy arrives – might even be today...

3 comments:

ad said...

I'll weigh in. I went on my coffee break at 9:15 this morning when I knew my local record shoppe would be open and bought my copy of KEEP AN EYE ON THE SKY. I've been listening to it at work and have only listened to Discs 1,2 & 4 (yes, I listened to the live stuff first) and I'm pretty blown away. Happy.

The live stuff is great -- it all sounds very pristine, the drumming is terrific and the guitar playing is amazingly facile. Listening to "Try Again" I was amazed at Chilton' recreation of the Chris Bell-cum-George Harrison slide licks -- very tasty. (I have only peeked at the liner notes, but the author comments on this exact passage also). The vocals get a little buried on the quieter songs, but this is an amazing document.
The studio stuff sounds incredible. INCREDIBLE! I know you were concerned Bruce (and so was I) that there would be alternate mixes replacing the original ones, but for the most part, the differences are subtle and the sound is so improved on these discs, even the original mixes sound fresh (some of the RADIO CITY songs that don't boast the alternative mix tag sound vastly different to me, but it could just be me). Something else that struck me, is how collaborative the second side of #1 RECORD seems to have been -- I always thought of it as Chris Bell's side of the record, even though Alex has several of my favorite songs. The snippets and demos definitely seem to indicate that Chris helped write at least the music to "Watch The Sunrise" and he definitely informs the tone of the original side 2.
Anyway, I'm just gabbing and will have to listen to this plenty more to get a handle on it, but so far, I'm more than pleased with where that $52 just went.

ad said...

ALSO! Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but . . .

In your book, Bruce, you mention (and I've heard it mentioned before -- possibly also by you) that, although, the master tape was lost, a copy still exists of the Famous Lost Demo (with "O My Soul" etc.). Am I misunderstanding, or is a copy of that out there floating around . . . if so, when will get to hear it? It is the stuff of legend.

Bruce Eaton said...

Thanks ad...I think you're right on the money about Alex's guitar playing on the live disc. He covers so much ground without hardly, if ever resorting to stock riffs. He never gets any due as a guitar player but when you listen to him throughout Radio City, his parts are so fresh and creative – and always serve the song. I think the live disc on the box set is another prime example of how good he is.

On the Famous Lost Demo, there's a reference tape of it that was in the possession of Andy Hummell. Some of that that has seen the light of day on the Ardent comp. and the box set (Got Kind of Lost and Back of A Car). But it doesn't exist in full-blown form as far as anyone knows.

Sometimes I have hard time keeping all these outtakes / alternate takes / mixes / demos straight amongst all the comps. etc....