Wednesday, November 13, 2013

boxing bowie

hi there

i don't for one moment believe there is such a thing as a rare or impossible to replace compact disc. they are, at heart, easily constructed plasticy-type things. the originals of the recordings for the most part sit on digital storage facilities, and it is the work of a moment to either press more from an existing copy of the disc or from the digitally stored masters. vinyl is a different matter, of course, with it being near-impossible to recreate the original pressings, with you having at best one shot at remastering and repressing from the original tapes.

that said, compact discs are a convenient and pretty decent way to listen to music - the decency of them increasing considerably when compared to these mp3 things. as the time has dawned to box up those which were in the display cabinet, i figured a few pictures of some of the more unusual or hard to obtain discs might be of interest to a few friends, perhaps even passing casual readers.

as the title suggests, the most significant percentage of discs there are done by that David Bowie chap. a rough guess would be 20% of the things in the display cabinet bear his name. i have quite a few more tucked, or rather boxed, away, i got to a point where i couldn't be bothered reshuffling the cabinet every time David decided to release or re-release something.

if for some reason you are not at all keen on Bowie (you weirdo) there are a few other things here, but let's start off with a set that blogger has kindly opted to rotate the picture of.

in This Is Spinal Tap, Marti Di Bergi asked Nigel Tufnel why they didn't just make 10 louder and then have 10 as the loudest when confronted with the speakers that go up to 11. after a moment of silence, Nigel Tufnel states "these go up to 11". one could be forgiven for asking a similar question of artists and record labels in regards of releases like the above. why is it exactly that they stick out an "extra disc" version for a limited time, instead of just releasing all of it as a general thing? all that happens is the 2nd hand market value is pushed up for these limited editions, which equals exactly zero extra cash for the artist or the label. ho hum.

as for the discs themselves, superb really. the standard 2 CD of Bowie At The Beeb covers a lively, mostly pre-Ziggy era set of music with some true gems. the bonus disc of him live at the BBC in, of all years, 2000 has some rarely performed songs like the excellent (This Is Not) America on it, as well as a stunning version of Let's Dance. worth hunting around for.

since we are on or around the 2000s, prior to the epic surprise of The Next Day being released this year, it looked likely that Bowie's last two albums would be Heathen and Reality, released about 10 years ago. either would have been excellent "cheers, and thanks for listening" farewell albums, really. but it is splendid that he decided to do a bit more.

Heathen features a number of class tracks, a number of them of course being recorded for, or here featured as reworked versions from the infamous Toy album. in that regard, the bonus disc with this version features a re-recording of Conversation Piece, a Bowie song which to my knowledge was only available on the EMI / Ryko reissue of Space Oddity in the early 90s. yes i do, if you are asking.

Reality marked an end of a rich creative spell which came close to rivalling the pace of his 70s output, if not to the ears of some matching the high quality. the significant thing, i think was that Bowie was loving music a lot, and was clearly having fun being out playing his stuff, new and old. what a bloody shame serious ill health stopped him.

pictured above, and indeed sideways below, are the two editions i have of Reality - the one that's white is the standard one, with the silver one featuring a bonus tack in the form of a cover of Waterloo Sunset, as well as a DVD of David and his chums performing the whole of the album.

the other disc is the DVD single of New Killer Star. i am sure to someone somewhere DVD singles seemed like an ace idea, but they really never took off. i think i have three - this one, a U2 one and Ian Brown's Whispers. oh no hang on, the Manics released a couple too. this Bowie DVD single is well worth having, i must confess, because it features his interpretation of that classic pop anthem Love Missile F1-11, made famous by Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Bowie's vocals are nothing short of spectacular on this cover - it's hard to know if he sounds the way he does because he's going balls-out with the lyrics or if he is trying to stop himself p!ssing with laughter as he does it.

and since i mentioned the Manics, a quick look at the Manic Street Preachers, and two possible oddities in my collection. possibly nothing strange about this, but if i shove some pictures up then my wise Manic friends will be able to advise.

here's two different looking copies of The Holy Bible that i have, as in standard issue CDs apparently and not the amazing 3 disc set.

i think i bought the second, picture disc copy in a sale somewhere because, well, because i am me. it's an astonishing album, and it was really cheap in a sale. i could not bear to leave it there.

other than the discs and the text on the spine, and the slightest of variations on the serial or catalogue number, i cannot work out much different between them.

well, if there's anything of significance of consequence about these two slightly different versions i have no doubt that one of my Manics mates will tell me. i very much doubt that it is the case of one of them being the legendary 'Canadian version' of the album, but you never know.

back to Bowie, then, and on to two of his least popular releases, but oddly two releases that are i believe difficult to track down. if i say least popular Bowie you know i mean Tin Machine. there's a lengthy post i did in defence of this band somewhere on the blog, i love them.

these are two difficult discs to get, it seems. they are out there, but command quite a hefty price. as far as i am aware they are not even available to buy on that iTwat thing, but i could be mistaken. to the best of my knowledge it's down to the record label that released these as to why you can't get them anymore, but i suppose it could be down to "lack of demand" too, which is unfair.

in respect of Tin Machine II, it's a cracking album, with a more accessible sound than the debut. legend has it that it was the, for want of a better term, "softer" sound of this record that the Sales brothers, Hunt and Tony, quit the project and brought about the demise of the band. if Bowie had released this under his own name, i am certain the critics would have gone wild, crying "return to form" and all the other, usual nonsense. it's just too easy for professional, paid music writers to bash Tin Machine.

the live album, Oy Vey, Baby, was apparently named as such as a response by Bowie to Bono about calling a U2 album Achtung Baby. the more specific details are not something i am aware of, except the live video (and i do have the VHS somewhere) of the same name was filmed in Germany. as with all live recordings this is a bit hit and miss - annoyingly, the version of If There Is Something here is taken from a gig where it seems they only switched on David's microphone halfway through the first line of the song.

Bowie every now and then promises, or threatens if you like, to unleash a Tin Machine retrospective on the world. i hope he does, and one will imagine he would and will as and when the ownership of the songs are either his entire or mostly his to do as he pleases with.

speaking of song ownership, yes Frankie fans, here you go.

this was bought basically because i saw it in a shop and it had Frankie written on it. as far as i can work out it was a German release and features possibly the original 7" version, certainly the 7" b-side, the 1993 remix and the celebrated video of the song.

there's a huge level of frustration for Frankie fans buying the stream of releases that have emerged since the band called it a day in 1987. on the one hand we love the music and want it in the collection, on the other we know that the band get next to nothing in respect of royalties from sales. for more on that i suggest you read the superb Nasher Says Relax book, as well as A Bone In My Flute. one really hopes that one day the band actually owns the amazing music they created.

i have roughly no clue at all as to how many of these were made, so i am not sure if having number 296 of a limited edition release is impressive or not.

many thanks once again to blogger for deciding to rotate the above picture. if memory serves, that is Paul Rutherford's nipple ring you can see being pinched there.

it is of course very nice indeed to have a copy of the fantastic Relax video in a nice, easy to play on most things digital format. it's probably best that i do not go into the finer details of the video here, in case it upsets someone.

so let's move on to, then, an entirely random picture of a CD with a very specific confectionary sat on it. well, why would i put it in the CD?

moving right along then, because if you don't get the above it is not for me to tell you anything, and on to one of the first CD box sets to hit the market, and unless i am mistaken the first ever Bowie box set to hit the shelves.

actually i suspect Springsteen Live 75 - 85 was one of the first CD box sets to get a release, but you get my point i think. no, i don't, but i do have it on vinyl.

the box that this box set came in is now tucked away with my vinyl collection, since it's more or less the same size as those records. this is the first variant of the Sound+Vision box set, released i believe only in the US, and possibly in Canada too. super handy, then, that my Dad happened to be in the States when this was released. thanks again, Dad.

this version features 3 full CDs, going up to 1980, and then a strange disc contating 3 live tracks plus a "CD Video" of the Ashes To Ashes video, something that i have only ever played on a laserdisc machine. the later releases of this set were a full 4 CD thing, covering most of the 80s too. yes i have that as well, but it is not as pretty, what with the discs coming in plastic folders.

in both cases of the release of this set, it is frankly highly generous to the fans, containing an absolute mountain of rare and previously unreleased stuff, none of which got repeated on the EMI / Ryko reissues of the albums in the 90s. you didn't "double dip" if you got this set and the reissues, then. which is what i did.

here's a look at the back of the discs, then - if you click on the picture it might make it a bit bigger and you can see what's on the set!

that will do for Bowie, i believe. onwards, then, to The Stone Roses, and no less than three copies of their somewhat less celebrated album.

Second Coming is by no means as brilliant as their debut, but for the most part its good. if you want to make excuses for the band, the idea that it took "five years to make" is a sheer myth - court cases and legal action meant that they were prohibited from even entering a studio, let alone making any music, for the majority of time between the two albums.

as for the three copies above, one is the standard copy of the album, one is the standard copy of the album in a numbered slip case from Australia, and one is a 2 CD set that came with the Crimson Tonight 4 track live EP. yep, all three copies of the album feature Track 90, known to most fans as The Foz.

if you don't have this album it seems you can get it quite cheap these days, worth getting for the excellent songs on it and indeed the impressive booklet.

ah, now i went and said for the most part you can easily replace CDs. to finish off, then, one of those cases of a CD that i could not ever replace, now that i think.

if Frankie Goes To Hollywood splitting was a major blow in life, that Paul Rutherford and then Holly Johnson came out with solo stuff within a year or two of the split at least made life better. this is Holly's ace debut solo album, and as you can see it's a signed copy!

in different ways, all the members of Frankie are fantastic with us mere humble fans. well, one or two of them don't really like discussing Frankie all day every day. but if you are lucky enough to cross the path of a Frankie, for the most part you will find they treat you with as much respect as you treat them. not all of the band might get along or speak to each other anymore, but they at least seem united in the idea that they are as greatful to the fans for making them megastars as we are greatful to them for giving us the soundtrack to our youth.

i got this signed by Holly kindly saying he would if i posted him the CD booklet when i got the album. this i did, and was well amazed with what came back!

a nice message and a Holly doodle work of art!

righty-ho, i had better get back to doing what this title says it does on the box, as it were.

hope some of these have been at least slightly interesting!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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