THE BYRDS – On A Wing: A Compendium Of Historical Performances: Volume 1 (Sound Stage SS8CDBOX48)

On A WingThe Sound Stage label are back with an absolute monster from the vaults, this time in the form of an 8 disc (yes 8 f*uking disc) box set, dedicated to the folk-rock pioneers, The Byrds. Made up of 109 tracks, there is a lot to get through in very little time (and cyber space) so I’ll pick out some of my own highlights and you can decide for yourself what I’ve missed.

Kicking off in 1968, in the wake of the band’s reshuffle, the historically “typical” sound of the Byrds is captured here. For example, renditions of folkie standards like ‘Old Blue’ and the JFK-themed arrangement of ‘He Was A Friend of Mine’ are among the company of the Dylan and Guthrie covers, so often associated with the Byrds. In among these, seep the country elements also associated with the group; of particular note are ‘Nashville West’ and Gram Parsons’ lament, ‘Hickory Wind’.

Parsons features a good deal and particularly on Disc 2, which transports us from November 1968 to June of 1969 and to the Palomino Club, in North Hollywood, where Clarence White joins forces with Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. At times, the sound really isn’t great, but the excitement of the moment comes across and at times it is hard trying not to get caught up in the concert, even if just as a listener…some near 50 years later.

‘The Train Song’ is an upbeat, energetic and that spur of the moment vibe still spills out through the speakers and jumps from one feeling to another; to that of the wild ‘Dream Baby’ or the laid bare and lonesome ‘She Once Lived Here’ or ‘Black Limousine’…yet the atmosphere reuses to die. Disc 3 continues the same performance and while the inconsistencies in the sound remain the main source of complaint, numbers like ‘Sweet Mental Revenge’, ‘Another Place, Another Time’ and an otherwise brilliant version of Merle Haggard’s ‘Hungry Eyes’ remain among the high points.

The halfway stage of this set takes us to some more intimate gigs, beginning with David Crosby, at the Matrix (December ’70) on Disc 4. On this occasion, he’s joined by members of The Grateful Dead to perform a mixture of freshly penned solo material (‘Cowboy Movie’ and ‘Laughing’ for example) and some interesting takes on standards like ‘Deep Elm Blues’. It is slow, more spacious and guides us in perfectly to Disc 5; a Roger McGuinn set from 1974, after the Byrds had finally parted. This one in particular, is a real treat. Alone on stage, McGuinn stands equipped with a guitar and harmonica, running down his Byrd-loyal set of 60s pop hits, traditional numbers and of course, the odd bit of Dylan. From his own work, ‘Bag Full Of Money’ is particularly good.

Disc 6 is probably the rockiest of all the collection, emanating from Amarillo, Texas and featuring McGuinn, Gene Clark and Chris Hilman, alongside a crew of session players. The familiar formula of Byrds big hitters and contemporary efforts is used here, and ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ turns up, surprisingly, for the first time. Of equal note on this disc, are the messy, audience participation-led version of ‘You Ain’t Going Nowhere’ and ‘Stopping Traffic’.

The final discs take us to Gene Clark and The Fyrebirds, circa 1985. ‘Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies; and ‘Tried So Hard’ stand out on Disc7, while Disc 8 builds slowly, through the likes of ‘Here Without You’, ‘She Don’t Care About Time’ and ‘See Your Face’, into the slightly heavier country-rock tinged ‘Dixie Flower’ and ‘One Hundred Years From Now’ and bidding a fitting adieu on Byrds-shaped classics ‘So You Wanna Be A Rock ’n’ Roll Star’ and ‘Eight Miles High’.

Byrds On A Wing…is something of a journey, but a delightful one. Spanning the 8 hour mark, there is a lot to take in. Naturally, there are a few tracks which repeat from time to time, but they’re not unwelcome and even at that, each of them are done with such a different style and approach, they feel completely different to their predecessors.

Christopher James Sheridan

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‘I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better’ – live on TV:

Joshua Caole’s Debut Album Moon Palace is now released…

Moon Palace is the first full album from Joshua Caole. Released on Bullo Pill Recordings, much of the material accumulated during the long hours spent constantly touring across 2011 with a large part of the songs penned on long drives or after late nights. The recording itself finally took place in Cardiff in January 2012 with producer Llion Robertson (Gentle Good, Eugene Francis Jr), with whom Joshua previously worked with on Joshua 2010 EP Slow Hearts. To release the album, Joshua went on a full UK tour supporting Christiaan Webb throughout April which took him to his favourite cities to play in.

Caole’s music evokes the American songwriting greats like Gram Parsons yet simultaneously tiptoes along the lines of alt rock, post punk and folkier climbs. What binds these disparate influences together and makes Caole’s music distinctive is his rough-with-the-smooth combination of coarse, velvet vocals with clean, beautiful ringwheeling guitar parts. Combining the commanding songwriting of Elliot Smith with the vocal fragility of Bright Eyes; tales of misspent nights and love not quite won makes Moon Palace an impressive, impassioned collection of songs.

So far the album has been received fantastically and Joshua has been championed on BBC Radio Wales by Adam Walton and Bethan Elfyn, with regular airplay on BBC Wales and BBC 6 Music secured for Moon Palace as Tom Robinson is also a fan. He has also won a slot to play on the BBC introducing stage at Wychwood festival next weekend.

With freshly pressed copies of Moon Palace under his arm, this summer sees Joshua Caole hitting the road hard touring, a summer of festival appearances and a trip over the English Channel.

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Counting Crows Announce New Album ‘Underwater Sunshine’ (COOKCD561) To Be Released April 9th

Multi-platinum American rock band, Counting Crows have announced they will be releasing their first new album in over 4 years on 9th April 2012.

Underwater Sunshine (or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation) is a collection of songs, both familiar and obscure, interpreted by one of the most soulful and recognizable bands of the past two decades.

Underwater Sunshine is a testament of a band geek-obsessed with music. “There’s a million great songs written every day that you discover, and wish your friends could appreciate as much as you do,” says singer/songwriter Adam Duritz. “These songs come from bands young and old, stretching from the early 60s to last year. They’re all great and will hopefully be heard by a few more people now.”

Produced by Counting Crows and Shawn Dealey, Underwater Sunshine features tracks written by artists such as Big Star, Gram Parsons, Tender Mercies, Fairport Convention, Kasey Anderson and The Faces. Each rendition offers an entire spectrum of human emotion, delivered with the conviction and intense honesty the band is known for.

As their first independent release, it was the right time for the Crows to make this album. “If you wonder why we didn’t just write our own record, it’s simply because we wanted to do THIS one,” says Duritz, We now have the creative freedom to release albums like this and offer our fans more music than ever.”

Underwater Sunshine track listing:

  1. Untitled (Love Song) by Romany Rye
  2. Start Again by Teenage Fanclub
  3. Hospital by Coby Brown
  4. Mercy by Tender Mercies
  5. Meet On The Ledge by Fairport Convention
  6. Like Teenage Gravity by Kasey Anderson & The Honkies
  7. Amie by Pure Prairie League
  8. Coming Around by Travis
  9. Ooh La La by The Faces
  10. All My Failures by Dawes
  11. Return of the Grevious Angel by Gram Parsons
  12. Four White Stallions by Tender Mercies
  13. Jumping Jesus by Sordid Humor
  14. You Ain’t Going Nowhere by Bob Dylan
  15. The Ballad of El Goodo by Big Star

Counting Crows hail from the San Francisco Bay area and consist of Adam Duritz (vocals), David Bryson (guitar), Charles Gillingham (keyboards), Dan Vickrey (guitar), Jim Bogios (drums), David Immergluck (guitar) and touring bassist Millard Powers. With over 20 million albums sold worldwide, including 5 Top 20 studio albums in the UK (3 of them charting in the Top 10) and all 5 hitting Top 5 on the Billboard 200, as well as eight Top 5 Singles in the US, Counting Crows success dates back to their 1993 debut release August And Everything After and the hit single “Mr Jones” (UK 28 & US top 5).  The band’s most recent accomplishments include a US #1 hit with the song “Accidentally In Love,” which was featured on the Shrek 2 soundtrack, as well as nominations in 2005 for a Grammy Award, a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award for the track.  In 2004 the band released their first ever “Best Of” set Films About Ghosts which featured songs from every phase of the Counting Crow’s recording career and in 2006 a live record was released,  *New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall 2003, while the band ventured out on a summer tour. Their most recent album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings (UK album chart 12) was released to critical and popular acclaim in March 2008.

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