Back Tracks: Josh Ritter Rarities Mix

In tribute to the release of his 6th album today, here’s a little mix I put together celebrating some of Josh Ritter’s best back tracks:

Josh Ritter
Overnite

1. Good Man (live)
2. Blame It On the Tetons
3. Spot In My Heart
4. Peter Killed the Dragon
5. Kathleen (live)
6. In the Dark (demo)
7. Naked as a Window
8. Girl In the War (live)
9. You Don’t Make It Easy Babe (live)
10. Bandits (live)
11. Golden Age of Radio (live)
12. Harbortown
13. Wolves (live)
14. Overnite
15. Monster Ballads (early version)
16. Daddy’s Little Pumpkin (live)
17. Labelship Down
18. Peter Killed the Dragon (live)
19. Wildfires
20. Snow Is Gone (live)
21. Girl In the War (live)

What are your favorite “lost” Ritter tracks?

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5 Things: “Wonderwall” by Oasis

5 Things I Love About “Wonderwall” by Oasis…

1. Liam’s non-dynamic vocal – he sounds like a bratty three year old in a grown man’s body, but it wouldn’t sound right otherwise. Even complete knuckleheads are born to do something great.
2. The cello…in my mind, it makes this the definitive recording of the song, even above the Ryan Adams version, but it manages to lurk in the background rather than stealing center stage from Noel’s genius acoustic patterns.
3. Somewhere in Europe, there is a college dropout with an acoustic guitar covering this song in a touristy, open air setting.
4. The utterly ubiquitous and gloriously ambiguous refrain: “And all the roads we have to walk are winding/And all the lights that lead us there are blinding.” It’s always true, but somehow, it manages to defy cliche…
5. It’s a masterpiece of impressionist pop songwriting. Fifteen years on, and it’s still anybody’s guess what a “wonderwall” is, yet we all sing it like we know.

5 Things: “Hearts of Stone” by Bruce Springsteen

5 Things I Love About Bruce Springsteen’s “Hearts of Stone”…

1. Steve Van Zant’s nasty backing vocals.
2. The saxophone – God bless you, Big Man.
3. The Boss’ delivery – totally over-the-moon, even for Springsteen.
4. The tempo – so slow the song just oozes heart and soul from every crack.
5. “I can’t talk now I’m not alone/So put your ear close to the phone/This is the last dance/Our last chance…”

What do you like about “Hearts of Stone”?

Track Review: “Bucket of Chicken” by Sunny Day Real Estate

Sunny Day Real Estate
“Bucket of Chicken” (aka “The Crow”)
from LP2 [Remaster]
Once a mythical lost track for the Sunny Day cult, “The Crow” saw release as “Bucket of Chicken” back in 1998, the b-side to the 7″ single for “How It Feels to Be Something On.” Recorded around the same time as most of the tracks from LP2, it ups the pathos the Seattle four were known for with a minor-key vengeance while constructing one mighty phalanx of post-hardcore musical aggression. Featuring the sludgiest down tempo in the band’s catalog, the track’s overdriven guitars and punishing drums evoke a depth of regret that was uncommon even for Sunny Day. The closest track in the band’s catalog is probably “48”, but the unpolished production of “The Crow” takes the band’s sound to the next level. It’s also great to hear Dan Hoerner get his turn at vocals on the chorus; he actually steals the show from Enigk on this one. Overall, Sunny Day nailed it here. Far more than a mere lost oddity, “The Crow” is a career highlight on the scale of “Talk Show Host.” If there’s a recording future for Sunny Day Real Estate, I want it to sound like this.

3423518248_d23162cb41Sunny Day Real Estate
Bucket of Chicken” (aka “The Crow”)
from LP2 [Remaster]

Once a mythical lost track for the Sunny Day cult, “The Crow” saw release as “Bucket of Chicken” back in 1998, the b-side to the 7″ single for “How It Feels to Be Something On.” Recorded around the same time as most of the tracks from LP2, it ups the pathos the Seattle four were known for with a minor-key vengeance while constructing one mighty phalanx of post-hardcore musical aggression. Featuring the sludgiest down tempo in the band’s catalog, the track’s overdriven guitars and punishing drums evoke a depth of regret that was uncommon even for Sunny Day. The closest track in the band’s catalog is probably “48”, but the unpolished production of “The Crow” takes the band’s sound to the next level. It’s also great to hear Dan Hoerner get his turn at vocals on the chorus; he actually steals the show from Enigk on this one. Overall, Sunny Day nailed it here. Far more than a mere lost oddity, “The Crow” is a career highlight on the scale of “Talk Show Host.” If there’s a recording future for Sunny Day Real Estate, I want it to sound like this.

The Unseen Power of Pavement (Pavement Reuniting?)

You can never really be sure in these uncertain postmodern times, but it sounds like we’re close to a mathematical proof that Pavement will in fact re-unite in the next year. See here and here for more.
As a tribute, here’s a mix I concocted recently from the Matador reissues of the band’s greatest rarities and b-sides from their heyday. Did I leave anything off?
The Unseen Power of Pavement
1. Give It a Day
2. Painted Soldiers
3. Frontwards
4. All My Friends
5. Drunks with Guns
6. Beautiful as a Butterfly
7. Sue Me Jack
8. Sensitive Euro Man
9. Harness your hopes
10. Gangsters & Pranksters
11. Secret Knowledge of the Backroads (Peel Session 1)
12. The Sutcliffe Catering Song
13. Circa 1762 (Peel Session 1)
14. Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse)
15. Strings of Nashville
16. Mussle Rock (Is A Horse In Transition)
17. Lions (Linden)
18. Texas Never Whispers
19. I Love Perth
20. Greenlander
21. No tan lines
22. Kris Kraft
23. Roll with the wind
24. Unseen Power of the Picket Fence
25. Nothing Ever Happens

pavement18caYou can never really be sure in these uncertain postmodern times, but it sounds like we’re close to a mathematical proof that Pavement will in fact re-unite in the next year. See here and here for more.

As a tribute, here’s a mix I concocted recently from the Matador reissues of the band’s greatest rarities and b-sides from their heyday. Did I leave anything off?

SECRET KNOWLEDGE OF PAVEMENT

1. Give It a Day
2. Painted Soldiers
3. Frontwards
4. All My Friends
5. Drunks with Guns
6. Beautiful as a Butterfly
7. Sue Me Jack
8. Sensitive Euro Man
9. Harness your hopes
10. Gangsters & Pranksters
11. Secret Knowledge of the Backroads (Peel Session 1)
12. The Sutcliffe Catering Song
13. Circa 1762 (Peel Session 1)
14. Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse)
15. Strings of Nashville
16. Mussle Rock (Is A Horse In Transition)
17. Lions (Linden)
18. Texas Never Whispers
19. I Love Perth
20. Greenlander
21. No tan lines
22. Kris Kraft
23. Roll with the wind
24. Unseen Power of the Picket Fence
25. Nothing Ever Happens

Tracks of the Decade: “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” by Counting Crows

Counting Crows, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” from THIS DESERT LIFE: Arriving early in the decade, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” was the centerpiece of Counting Crows’ last great record, THIS DESERT LIFE. An epic, cinematic masterpiece that captures all of Adam Duritz’s coffee-shop-romantic angst in bite size, “Lullaby” encapsulates the star-crossed dreams of America in the 1990’s, one last optimistic fix before the sobering events of 9/11. Accompanied by an absolutely fabulous music video (see below), the song blends “City of New Orleans” and Dylan’s “Memphis Blues”, with blindingly grandiose lyrics (“If dreams are like movies/Then memories are films about ghosts”), decadent production, and incendiary performances to boot. It may not be their most popular hit, but it’s got my vote as their best song. A huge claim, given the artistic wealth of their first two records, but you judge for yourself.
PS First one to callout the pre-fame cameo at 5:05’s the winner!

Mrs._Potter's_LullabyCounting Crows
“Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby”
from THIS DESERT LIFE

Arriving early in the decade, “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” was the centerpiece of Counting Crows’ last great album, THIS DESERT LIFE. An epic, cinematic masterpiece that captures all of Adam Duritz’s coffee-shop-romantic angst in bite size, “Lullaby” finds a muse in the star-crossed dreams of America in the 1990’s, one last optimistic fix before the sobering events of 9/11. Accompanied by an absolutely fabulous music video, the song marries “City of New Orleans” and Dylan’s “Memphis Blues”, with blindingly grandiose lyrics (“If dreams are like movies/Then memories are films about ghosts”), decadent production, and incendiary performances to boot. It may not be their most popular hit, but it’s got my vote as their best song. A huge claim, given the artistic wealth of their first two records, but you judge for yourself.

PS First one to callout the pre-fame cameo at 5:05’s the winner!

Radiohead: Top 12 Non-Album Tracks 3-1

3. “Cuttooth” from the KNIVES OUT singles: Bearing one of the most strangely enticing song titles in the band’s catalog, this one comes straight from the depths of the KID A sessions. It’s a piece of shimmering, propulsive Krautrock that shows Radiohead pretty much mastering the genre overnight. While it’s all for the best that they moved on, and although “Cuttooth” bears the sunny glow that reasonably excluded it from KID A or AMNESIAC, it’s nevertheless one of the coolest things the band has ever recorded. With “Cuttooth”, Radiohead joined the ranks of artists like Springsteen and Pavement, where the myth of lost tracks began to rival the myth of the albums.
2. “Pearly*” from the PARANOID ANDROID singles: Although ultimately it doesn’t feel right at this point to question the band’s judgment on the tracklisting for OK COMPUTER, it still makes me scratch my head that this one was left off that album in favor of “Electioneering.” Featuring similar subject matter and a similar sonic trajectory, “Pearly*” is far more exotic and otherworldly, once again featuring some marvelous instrumentation from both the guitar and the drum sections. “Pearly*” is the “Maquiladora” of OK COMPUTER. Seriously, couldn’t they have made room for just one more?
1. “Talk Show Host (Nellee Hooper mix)” from the ROMEO AND JULIET soundtrack: Some might argue with the fact that I chose a cinematic cut-up of “Talk Show Host” as the band’s number one non-album track, but Nellee Hooper’s remix just gets it right. Go back and listen to the version from the STREET SPIRIT single and see for yourself. The bass and drums are just a little too aggressive, a little too direct. But Hooper expertly brings trip-hop subtleties to bear on the song’s bare bones, exposing the emotional heart of the song, and fleshing out a cinematic and musical masterpiece in the process. Don’t settle for the original in this case; Hooper’s remix is the real deal.

Radiohead_knivesout3. “Cuttooth” from the KNIVES OUT singles: Bearing one of the most strangely enticing song titles in the band’s catalog, this one comes straight from the depths of the KID A sessions. It’s a piece of shimmering, propulsive Krautrock that shows Radiohead pretty much mastering the genre overnight. While it’s all for the best that they moved on, and although “Cuttooth” bears the sunny glow that reasonably excluded it from KID A or AMNESIAC, it’s nevertheless one of the coolest things the band has ever recorded. With “Cuttooth”, Radiohead joined the ranks of artists like Springsteen and Pavement, where the myth of lost tracks began to rival the myth of the albums.

Paranoid_Android_CD12. “Pearly*” from the PARANOID ANDROID singles: Although ultimately it doesn’t feel right at this point to question the band’s judgment on the tracklisting for OK COMPUTER, it still makes me scratch my head that this one was left off that album in favor of “Electioneering.” Featuring similar subject matter and a similar sonic trajectory, “Pearly*” is far more exotic and otherworldly, once again featuring some marvelous instrumentation from both the guitar and the drum sections. “Pearly*” is the “Maquiladora” of OK COMPUTER. Seriously, couldn’t they have made room for just one more?

Romeo_+_Juliet_Soundtrack_Vol._11. “Talk Show Host (Nellee Hooper mix)” from the ROMEO AND JULIET soundtrack: Some might argue with the fact that I chose a cinematic cut-up of “Talk Show Host” as the band’s number one non-album track, but Nellee Hooper’s remix just gets it right. Go back and listen to the version from the STREET SPIRIT single and see for yourself. The bass and drums are just a little too aggressive, a little too direct. But Hooper expertly brings trip-hop subtleties to bear on the song’s bare bones, exposing the emotional heart of the song, and fleshing out a cinematic and musical masterpiece in the process. Don’t settle for the original in this case; Hooper’s remix is the real deal.

Radiohead: Top 12 Non-Album Tracks 6-4

6. “Four Minute Warning” from IN RAINBOWS CD2: I think this track may have been the one Ed referred to as “Bombers” during the KID A sessions. Can’t be sure, but nevertheless, it’s one of the best songs the band has recorded period. It might have closed out IN RAINBOWS just as easily as “Videotape”, the white-noise fade-in evoking a cinematic landscape of bravenewworld devastation. Coming from the same subconscious goldmine that gave us “Pyramid Song”, the lyrics and music working together to evoke a similar slow-motion waking dream. Proof positive that Radiohead needs to record an album of piano-based ballads.
5. “Maquiladora” from HIGH AND DRY SINGLES:  Taking second place only to “Just” as the most in-your-face brit rock track in the band’s repertoire, “Maquiladora” is another b-side that “might have been a hit” for the band during THE BENDS era. With Jonny G.’s incendiary lead and the explosive refrain “Oh – BAY – BAH – BURN!!!!!”, this is the sort of track that the band should still be rolling out as an encore every once in a while. Also priceless – the clean cut breakdown (aka the pretty part) between the episodes of thundering heaviness. Simply brilliant all around.
4. “A Reminder” from PARANOID ANDROID SINGLES: Once considered as the lead-off single for OK COMPUTER, this one didn’t make it onto the album proper, but still stands as one of the strongest examples of the band’s aesthetic at that time. Slowly building around a locomotive drive, it’s an obtuse little love song, evocative of a train trek across the sub-continent of Europe in the prime of one’s youth (this is helped by the actual sounds of a Czech rail station opening the song). Like Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNRISE, the song’s narrative revolves around two people, the speaker and the addressee. Highly personal and minimally detailed, it nevertheless expresses a deep romanticism that the band hasn’t quite achieved since.

Radiohead_Nude6. “Four Minute Warning” from the NUDE singles: I think this track may have been the one Ed referred to as “Bombers” during the KID A sessions. Can’t be sure, but nevertheless, it’s one of the best songs the band has recorded period. It might have closed out IN RAINBOWS just as easily as “Videotape”, the white-noise fade-in evoking a cinematic landscape of bravenewworld devastation. Coming from the same subconscious goldmine that gave us “Pyramid Song”, the lyrics and music work together to evoke a similar slow-motion waking dream. Proof positive that Radiohead needs to record an album of piano-based ballads.

High_and_Dry_Planet_Telex_CD15. “Maquiladora” from the HIGH AND DRY singles:  Taking second place only to “Just” as the most in-your-face brit rock track in the band’s repertoire, “Maquiladora” is another b-side that “might have been a hit” for the band during THE BENDS era. With Jonny G.’s incendiary lead and the explosive refrain “Oh – BAY – BAH – BURN!!!!!”, this is the sort of track that the band should still be rolling out as an encore every once in a while. Also priceless – the clean cut breakdown (aka the pretty part) between the episodes of thundering heaviness. Simply brilliant all around.

Paranoid_Android_CD14. “A Reminder” from the PARANOID ANDROID singles: Once considered as the lead-off single for OK COMPUTER, this one didn’t make it onto the album proper, but still stands as one of the strongest examples of the band’s aesthetic at that time. Slowly building around a locomotive drive, it’s an obtuse little love song, evocative of a train trek across the sub-continent of Europe in the prime of one’s youth (this is helped by the actual sounds of a Czech rail station opening the song). Vaguely recalling Richard Linklater’s film BEFORE SUNRISE, the song’s narrative revolves around the hopes and fears of two young people intimately connected for a moment in time. Highly personal and minimally detailed, it nevertheless expresses a deep romanticism that the band hasn’t quite achieved since.

Radiohead: Top 12 Non-Album Tracks, 9-7

9. “Lull” from KARMA POLICE SINGLES: You could argue that some of Radiohead’s best b-sides might have replaced tracks on some of their albums. “Lull” isn’t really like that. Recorded during the OK COMPUTER-era, its closest kin is the far superior “Let Down.” No, the charm of “Lull” lies precisely in its qualities as a throw-away. Unlike other b-sides of the era, it features appregio guitar progressions rather than Jonny’s inflammatory work and a wonderfully upbeat melody. “Lull” is all musical efficiency, as if written by Radiohead for a songwriting workshop. So there you go – the “Lull” referred to is a case of writer’s block. If only every band’s creative lull sounded this good.
8. “Kinetic” from PYRAMID SONG SINGLES: Mentioned early and often in Ed O’Brien’s journals during the KID A sessions, the glacial pace of “Kinetic” speaks volumes on Radiohead’s new approach to making music. How many bands would name a song “Kinetic” and leave it in first gear? What’s really great about this track though is how it reveals the creative process that led to the first great album of the new millenium. No guitars. No backbeats. Just go to your dark place, kids. All in all, an aural feast.
7. “How Can You Be Sure?” from FAKE PLASTIC TREES SINGLES: HCYBS must have been a strong contender for inclusion on THE BENDS. It features one of the grandest pop melodies in the band’s catalog, and comes close to the acoustic glory of “Fake Plastic Trees” and “(nice dream).” The ?female? vocals that accompany Thom are a rather nice touch, the sort of thing the band might explore again if they ever do find their happy place. File this one under “might have been a hit.”

KarmaPolice9. “Lull” from KARMA POLICE SINGLES: You could argue that some of Radiohead’s best b-sides might have replaced tracks on some of their albums. “Lull” isn’t really like that. Recorded during the OK COMPUTER-era, its closest kin is the far superior “Let Down.” No, the charm of “Lull” lies precisely in its qualities as a throw-away. Unlike other b-sides of the era, it features appregio guitar progressions rather than Jonny’s inflammatory work and a wonderfully upbeat melody. “Lull” is all musical efficiency, as if written by Radiohead for a songwriting workshop. So there you go – the “Lull” referred to is a case of writer’s block. If only every band’s creative lull sounded this good.

Radiohead_pyramidsong8. “Kinetic” from PYRAMID SONG SINGLES: Mentioned early and often in Ed O’Brien’s journals during the KID A sessions, the glacial pace of “Kinetic” speaks volumes on Radiohead’s new approach to making music. How many bands would name a song “Kinetic” and leave it in first gear? What’s really great about this track though is how it reveals the creative process that led to the first great album of the new millenium. No guitars. No backbeats. Just go to your dark place, kids. All in all, an aural feast.

Fakeplastictrees1

7. “How Can You Be Sure?” from FAKE PLASTIC TREES SINGLES: HCYBS must have been a strong contender for inclusion on THE BENDS. It features one of the grandest pop melodies in the band’s catalog, and comes close to the acoustic glory of “Fake Plastic Trees” and “(nice dream).” The ?female? vocals that accompany Thom are a rather nice touch, the sort of thing the band might explore again if they ever do find their happy place. File this one under “might have been a hit.”

Radiohead: Pablo Honey Collector’s Edition Disc 2 (2009)

Radiohead
Pablo Honey Collector’s Edition Disc 2; 2009
Capitol Records
My Rating: 51/100
Disc 2 of the PABLO HONEY Collector’s Edition contains all of the requisite
b-sides that a fan would expect. Conspicuously absent from a completist’s
perspective though are the band’s earliest demos, particularly the ON A
FRIDAY demo and the MANIC HEDGEHOG demo. Still, it’s fun to hear the band’s
earliest tracks, particularly cornballers like “Pop Is Dead.” Just makes you
scratch your head even more that this is Radiohead. Highlights are “Stupid
Car”, the punked up version of “Thinking About You”, “Million Dollar
Question,” the gorgeous US version of “Stop Whispering” (sounds like
something from the Cranberries’ debut), and the live version of “Nothing
Touches Me.” I probably wouldn’t bother buying this reissue, but the 4’s and
the 5’s are worth buying the mp3’s for fans.
Completion: 6/10
Compilation: 8/10
TRACKS:
1. Prove Yourself [demo] (3/5)
2. Stupid Car [demo] (4/5)
3. You [demo] (3/5)
4. Thinking About You [demo] (4/5)
5. Inside My Head (4/5)
6. Million Dollar Question (4/5)
7. Yes I Am (4/5)
8. Blow Out [remix] (3/5)
9. Inside My Head [live] (3.5/5)
10. Creep [acoustic] (3.5/5)
11. Vegetable [live] (3.5/5)
12. Killer Cars [acoustic – live] (3/5)
13. Faithless the Wonder Boy (3/5)
14. Coke Babies (4/5)
15. Pop Is Dead (3/5)
16. Banana Co [acoustic] (4/5)
17. Ripcord [live] (3/5)
18. Stop Whispering [US version] (5/5)
19. Prove Yourself [BBC Radio 1 Evening Session] (3/5)
20. Creep [BBC Radio 1 Evening session] (4/5)
21. I Can’t [BBC Radio 1 Evening session] (3/5)
22. Nothing Touches Me [BBC Radio 1 Evening session] (5/5)

Radiohead.pablohoney.albumartRadiohead
Pablo Honey Collector’s Edition Disc 2; 2009
Capitol Records

My Rating: 51/100

Disc 2 of the PABLO HONEY Collector’s Edition contains all of the requisite b-sides that a fan would expect. Conspicuously absent from a completist’s perspective though are the band’s earliest demos, particularly the ON A FRIDAY demo and the MANIC HEDGEHOG demo. Still, it’s fun to hear the band’s earliest tracks, particularly cornballers like “Pop Is Dead.” Just makes you scratch your head even more that this is Radiohead. Highlights are “Stupid Car”, the punked up version of “Thinking About You”, “Million Dollar Question,” the gorgeous US version of “Stop Whispering” (sounds like something from the Cranberries’ debut), and the live version of “Nothing Touches Me.” I probably wouldn’t bother buying this reissue, but the 4’s and the 5’s are worth buying the mp3’s for fans.

Completion: 6/10
Compilation: 8/10

Tracks:

1. Prove Yourself [demo] (3/5)
2. Stupid Car [demo] (4/5)
3. You [demo] (3/5)
4. Thinking About You [demo] (4/5)
5. Inside My Head (4/5)
6. Million Dollar Question (4/5)
7. Yes I Am (4/5)
8. Blow Out [remix] (3/5)
9. Inside My Head [live] (3.5/5)
10. Creep [acoustic] (3.5/5)
11. Vegetable [live] (3.5/5)
12. Killer Cars [acoustic – live] (3/5)
13. Faithless the Wonder Boy (3/5)
14. Coke Babies (4/5)
15. Pop Is Dead (3/5)
16. Banana Co [acoustic] (4/5)
17. Ripcord [live] (3/5)
18. Stop Whispering [US version] (5/5)
19. Prove Yourself [BBC Radio 1 Evening Session] (3/5)
20. Creep [BBC Radio 1 Evening session] (4/5)
21. I Can’t [BBC Radio 1 Evening session] (3/5)
22. Nothing Touches Me [BBC Radio 1 Evening session] (5/5)