Led Zeppelin – If It Keeps On Raining (Rough Mix) (2015)

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Hear an unreleased version of When the Levee Breaks

If It Keeps On Raining (When The Levee Breaks – Rough Mix) shows the way Zeppelin built their music into the towers of song we know.

And so we reach the last in our series of track premieres from the Led Zeppelin reissue series. Last on the list is one of the extra tracks from the reissue of Coda, the posthumous odds-and-ends album the group issued in 1982, after John Bonham had died.

If It Keeps On Raining is a rough mix of When the Levee Breaks from Led Zeppelin IV, and presents the track in a markedly stripped down form: John Paul Jones’s bassline is right to the fore, while the army of guitars from the finished version is pared down to the basics. It doesn’t have the grandeur of the finished version, but you can’t help but suspect that scores of early 70s bands would have killed even to be able to manage this. [Source]

The Pop Group – Thief of Fire (1980)

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“Every song on We Are Time up to and triumphantly including the title track was a delicious shock to the nervous system…Nobody turned tricks like The Pop Group” WIRE

‘Thief of Fire’ is taken from ‘We Are Time’, a collection named after one of their most infamous onslaughts and originally released on vinyl in 1980, remastered from original tapes and reissued by Freaks R Us in 2014.

Of the early studio and live recordings that comprise ‘We Are Time’, frontman Mark Stewart says “The Pop Group was mutating so fast right from the start that it was crucial to document those first experiments with this compilation. ‘We Are Time’ is really ‘the’ teenage Pop Group album. It’s full of defiance and the material demonstrates the band’s staunch independence and our really early DIY ethic before the studio became another instrument.”

Guitarist Gareth Sager explains that the band was “trying in an inexplicably naive manner to combine Patti Smith’s Rimbaud ramblings, James Brown, the Stooges, Roxy Music, T. Rex and classical aleatoric music. You can hear the results of this on tracks ‘Genius Or Lunatic’, ‘Colour Blind’, ‘Trap’, ‘Sense Of Purpose’, ‘Kiss The Book’ and ‘We Are Time.” He goes on to say “soon after this the band were bringing in other influences, Ornette Coleman, King Tubby, Funkadelic, Debussy, Jacques Brel, Fela Kuti, Steve Reich and then you get ‘Thief Of Fire’.”

This searing live version comes from a characteristically incendiary set recorded at the Electric Ballroom, London in 1979.

Darkstar – Pin Secure (2015)

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Foam Island, the third studio LP from Darkstar, is a beautiful contemporary electronic pop album, dealing with powerful themes of ambition and hope against the odds in the 21st century.

Following collaborations with the likes of Actress, Wild Beasts and Zomby, and taking cues from peers such as Jon Hopkins and Four Tet, it is an ambitious record, buzzing with the energy and excitement of all the possibilities inherent in electronic music in 2015. Yet it is also one which has been shaped by the prevailing social and political climate at this point in time. The band say: “it’s a culmination of everything we’ve written up to this point, the club and electronic side but also trying to tell a story”.

With Foam Island Darkstar have created an album which could only have been made in 2015; an album with a voice that encourages a generation to stand up and be counted. [Source]


Procol Harum – A Souvenir Of London (1973)

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Grand Hotel is the sixth studio album by Procol Harum. Released in 1973, it signalled a change of direction for the band. Guitarist Dave Ball who had joined the band for their live album the previous year left shortly after the photo shoot for the proposed album’s cover to be replaced by Mick Grabham. Grabham’s head was superimposed on the front and back cover of the album on Ball’s body. Although the band had gone through significant personnel changes in previous years, the band would enter its most stable phase with this line up. The album reached No. 21 on the Billboard album charts. Although on the surface “Grand Hotel” appears to be a concept album according to lyricist Keith Reid the “concept” doesn’t extend beyond the title tune. The single “A Souvenir of London” was banned by the BBC for its reference to venereal disease in the lyrics of the song. Reid claimed that the song was really inspired (regardless of how it turned out and was interpreted) by a visit to a souvenir shop near George Martin’s Air Studios. “Almost every album has had at least one comic song…and this one was a bit tongue in cheek” Reid stated as part of an interview for the 2009 CD reissue.

Cat Stevens – Longer Boats (1971)

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STAR: My favorite song on Tea For the Tillerman is Longer Boats. It’s a curious song. Would you explain what it means by, “Longer boats are coming to win us—hold on to the shore, or they’ll be taking the key from the door…?”

CAT: One thing, Americans try to make too much of my songs. They’re lust songs. I don’t know why I write them. But they try and find all kinds of hidden meanings in my songs. Longer Boats is actually about flying saucers. One night I was lying back in bed and I saw this flying saucer shoot across the sky and stop over me. And it sucked me up into it. When it put me down, I shot up in bed. I knew it wasn’t a dream, It didn’t feel like a dream, It was real, I know it was real. [Source]