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News of the return of The Stone Roses caused me to dig out my copy of their second album. It's an album I never really took to, and generally has been much maligned. Listening to it over the last couple of days has made me appreciate it much more than ever before. OK, it doesn't reach the heady heights of their debut LP, but not many albums do.
There is some really strong material here - the sublime single "Ten Storey Love Song", "Love Spreads", "Breaking Into Heaven" and "Begging You". I can live without the rockist Americana on "Driving South" and Ian Brown's flat vocals on "Good Times".
Some of this material is quite heavy, as it's very much guitarist John Squire's album. And strangely, a lot of it sounds more at home in 2011 than it did in the mid-'90s.
I think this album might have been more successful with a little judicious editing as some of the songs are overlong. Maybe one or two of the weaker songs (such as "Straight To The Man") should have been dropped. I rather like the jokey bonus track which is known as "The Foz" or "Cacophony" but I do feel including it on this album was probably a mistake. I think a lot of fans were overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of material. Including the bonus track, there are over 70 minutes of music here.
Don't buy this in preference to their debut eponymous album. But if you have that already, and maybe one of the Silvertone compilations with their early singles on, then this album is worth getting too.
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
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Lou Reed's 1974 release "Rock n Roll Animal" is one of the very best live albums ever. Lou's band at the time featured Prakash John on bass, Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter on guitars, Ray Colcord on keyboards and Pentti Glan on drums. The very best band he has ever had in his solo career. Lou of course is a mean guitarist himself and in Hunter/Wagner he found two outstanding players, allowing him to concentrate on singing and fronting the show. They went on to play for Alice Cooper and their intro to the album, leading into the killer riff of "Sweet Jane" is justifiably celebrated. RCA has issued an expanded version of the album. The original LP featured "Intro/Sweet Jane", "Heroin", "White Light / White Heat", "Lady Day" and "Rock'n'Roll". The expanded edition adds "How Do You Think It Feels" and "Caroline Says I".
What is sometimes forgotten, is that RCA issued a second LP from the same NY Academy of Music concert a few months later. This was called "Lou Reed Live" and features "Vicious", "Satellite Of Love", "Walk On The Wild Side", "I'm Waiting For The Man", "Oh Jim" and "Sad Song". This second release is available on CD, but is a lot harder to find. Partly this is because it is only available stateside and the album is bizarrely renamed as "Extended Versions"!
Not everyone like the "heavy metal" treatment meted out to the VU classics. I am one of those who loves it. To be fair, there is a lot more light and dark than that genre would suggest, with a funky break in "Rock'n'Roll" epitomising this. The show must have been amazing to see, and now we can reconstruct the whole thing using the two CDs here. The running order is a little jumbled, but the correct order can be found online.
The packaging of the expanded "Rock n Roll Animal" is fantastic, with detailed notes in the booklet. The packaging for "Extended Versions" is total rubbish. To make things worse, the former typically retails for a fraction of the latter. I have put my copies of the CDs in one full depth double CD box, reuniting the two halves of the concert. Why on earth RCA/BMG haven't done a proper job with the two CDs of material is hard to understand in this age of collectors editions.
STOP PRESS In another bizarre move "Rock n Roll Animal" has just been re-issued in one of those "Original Album Classics" 5CD boxes. This is the third 5CD box of Lou Reed albums in the series. You would have thought it would have been in a box with "Lou Reed Live" (aka "Extended Versions"). But no, it is in a box with "The Bells", "Rock'n'Roll Heart", "Growing Up In Public" and "Street Hassle". Another missed opportunity...