Sunday, March 27, 2011

the Jesus Lizard 1991/1992 Peel Sessions BBC master!

This is why I love the internets.

Some years back the slow, steady BBC Peel Session catalog release schedule came to an end. I don't know why; while most obvious sessions have been released either via the band themselves or via Strange Fruit, the ultimate roundup leaves a huge chunk of the BBC archives untouched.

The Jesus Lizard - a band very close to your humble blogger indeed - recorded two sessions for the late John Peel, in 1991 and 1992. Neither of these saw official release anywhere, not even as bonus tracks on the recent deluxe remasters on Touch and Go. Copies taped from the broadcast(s) did circulate among fans, but until today (err, last night) I'd never heard anything better than N-th generation cassette dubs with all the muffledness and noise that entails.

So imagine my curiosity when I came across what was purported to be a pre-FM set of tJL Peel Sessions. The few times I've heard non-official pre-FM Peel Session tracks - by any band - are because the band themselves had a copy. So I obtained the fileset, got even more intrigued when reading the info file that came with it, and, well, listened. And I was blown away.

This material is exactly as purported, and in fact the original description was too modest: not only are these pre-FM, they are pre-ANYTHING. What I mean by this is that this can only have come from BBC masters, via someone high-up with the Beeb or tJL themselves (or Touch and Go). This fully appears, audibly and visibly (in Audition) to be an actual copy of the masters.

Was this in line for release at one point? Did pre-production copies get generated? Is this a mastering candidate for release? Until the party responsible comes out and clarifies, we will never know. But barring no other information available, I will just guess that at some point this was in line for release and what we have here is a digital dub of the master. Further clarification from the source indicates these did indeed originate from someone with high-level access to the raw BBC masters, at the BBC itself, so there you go.

Thanks to i86time and the original uploader via dimeadozen for this!

Needless to say, all technobabble aside, the material is blisteringly good, brilliant even. It's the Jesus Lizard goddamnit!

Our version is slightly modified from the Dime seed: levels were adjusted, tops/tails done, and better track splits made. Not a huge improvement over the Dime seed, but 1) you don't have to register to download from here, and 2) I like mine better ;)


Peel Sessions 1991-1992
BBC master source

original notes below:

Jesus Lizard Peel Sessions
Lineage: Pre-FM source > gold cd-r > wav > cd-r (my copy) > wav > flac

01 Wheelchair Epidemic
02 Bloody Mary
03 Seasick
04 Monkey Trick

Recorded: 24-02-91
Broadcast: 17-03-91
Producer: Dale Griffin
Engineers: Julia Carney & Mike Robinson
Studio - Maida Vale 3

05 Gladiator
06 Whirl
07 Puss
08 Boilermaker

Recorded: 27-09-92
Broadcast: 29-10-92
Producer: Nick Gomm
Engineers: R. Jordan & N. Gomm
Studio - Maida Vale 3

Mac McNeilly (Drums)
David Wm. Sims (Bass)
Duane Denison (Guitar)
David Yow (Vocals)

You'll run the risk of conceiving a bastard (lossless FLAC)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

R.E.M. Collapse Into Now - thoughts

So I was all set to post my thoughts on this record - after all, today is release day in the USA.

Having lived with this for a week or so, though, my initial impressions have given way to something else: boredom.

I want to like this record. I want to LOVE it. I want my R.E.M. back, even given that they're only 3/4 of their former self. I thought Accelerate was a promising reawakening of the band's spirit (though it hasn't held up as much as I'd have liked it to three years down the road) and I had high hopes for this record.

The problem with Collapse Into Now, though, is deep. The thing is, I neither like nor dislike it. In fact it's so "meh" that I have a hard time putting my thoughts into words. It's too safe. It's too revisionist. It's too little, and it's too much. Is it possible that the worst thing to say about this record is how inoffensive it is?

There are moments on here that are indeed transcendent: "Oh My Heart", "It Happened Today" and "Blue" come to mind as really good songs and well executed on this record. But will any of them have real lasting power? When discussing R.E.M. on the porch of the old folks home in 2030 will any of these songs come into play?

I used to actively despise "Mine Smell Like Honey" when it was first made available a month or so ago. Now, rather than complete dislike, it's just "there". Mainly what I don't like about it is Stipe - not that the lyrics are retarded (they are), but just that he adds nothing of value to the song. In fact that can be said about most of these songs here: Michael Stipe, formerly an amazing vocalist (nevermind the actual lyrical content of Stipe in years past), is reduced to simply a disposable component. Which is about the worst thing you can say about him. Barring the three tracks mentioned above, and occasional moments on a few other songs, I'd frankly prefer instrumentals.

I know it's a fool's errand to expect another Reckoning / Fables / even Automatic For The People. But what's missing from this record that was a commonality to all previous fantastic R.E.M. records? Bill Berry. He was the emotional heart of the band, the one with the strongest "no bullshit" meter. Would Berry have tolerated recent R.E.M. records? I don't know. For all I know they would have been the same, more or less, even with Berry. But I certainly can't blame former manager Jefferson Holt's sudden forced dismissal immediately prior to the release of 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi for the stunning decline in R.E.M.'s songwriting since, unless he was even more valuable to the band than anyone could imagine.

So there you have it. Frankly while I continue to listen to this boring record, my heart is more set on the upcoming Feelies LP because with them, you know what to expect and anything more is a bonus.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

R.E.M. Collapse Into Now

So now that the new record has leaked, and also streaming on NPR, anybody care to hear my thoughts?