Leaps n Bands #106: The Pirates – Skull Wars (1977) [4/12]

Side 1, track 4 – Johnny B Goode’s good

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #103 through #114 – running through to 14 August – features the 1977 mostly live album from The Pirates – Skull Wars

When The Pirates reformed in 1977 they played at the ‘Front Row Festival’, a three-week event at the Hope and Anchor, Islington, in late November and early December 1977. This resulted in the band’s inclusion, alongside Wilko Johnson, the Only Ones, the Saints, the Stranglers, X-Ray Spex, and XTC, on a hit double album of recordings from the festival.

The Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival compilation LP (released in March 1978) reached number 28 in the UK Albums Chart. ‘Skull Wars’ – partially recorded at the festival – was pre-released just after Christmas 1977 and offically on 1 January 1978.

The front cover artwork isn’t meant to be totally dissimilar to “Star Wars'” Darth Vader as a note on the rear cover jokingly claims that this was “The record they didn’t dare make into a movie”.

Here’s track 4 from side 1 – Johnny B Goode’s good – a Mick Green/Johnny Spence penned homage to Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B Goode’ (see Leaps n Bands #106 on 29 July). The video starts with a clip of Mick Green introducing a bit about the bands’s reformation. The live ‘Johnny B Goode’s good’ was filmed at 1978’s Reading Rock.

Leaps n Bands #74: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (1972) [6/6]

Side 4, track 2 – Stop Breaking Down

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #69 through #74 – concluding today – featured a selection of tracks from the 1972 album by The Rolling Stones “Exile on Main Street”.

Here to conclude things is track 2 from side 4 – ‘Stop Breaking down’

Leaps n Bands #73: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (1972) [5/6]

Side 4, track 1 – All down the line

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #69 through #74 – taking us to 26 May – features a selection of tracks from the 1972 album by The Rolling Stones “Exile on Main Street”.

For Exile on Main St., Mick Jagger wanted an album cover that reflected the band as “runaway outlaws using the blues as its weapon against the world”, showcasing “feeling of joyful isolation, grinning in the face of a scary and unknown future”. As the band finished the album in Los Angeles, they approached designer John Van Hamersveld and his photographer partner Norman Seeff, and also invited documentary photographer Robert Frank. The same day Seeff photographed the Stones at their Bel Air mansion, Frank took Jagger for photographs at Los Angeles’ Main Street. The location was the 500 block near the Leonide Hotel.

At the time there was a pawnshop, a shoeshine business and a pornographic theatre (The Galway Theatre) at the location. Still, Van Hamersveld and Jagger chose the cover image from an already existing Frank photograph, an outtake from his seminal 1958 book The Americans. Named “Tattoo Parlor” but possibly taken from Hubert’s Dime museum in New York City, the image is a collage of circus performers and freaks, such as “Three Ball Charlie”, a 1930s sideshow performer from Humboldt, Nebraska who holds three balls (a tennis ball, a golf ball, and a “5” billiard ball) in his mouth; Joe “The Human Corkscrew” Allen, pictured in a postcard-style advertisement, a contortionist with the ability to wiggle and twist through a 13.5-inch (34 cm) hoop; and Hezekiah Trambles, “The Congo Jungle Freak”, a man who dressed as an African savage, in a picture taken by the recently deceased Diane Arbus.

The Seeff pictures were repurposed as 12 perforated postcards inside the sleeve, while Frank’s Main Street photographs were used in the gatefold and back cover collage made by Van Hamersveld, which features other pictures Frank took of the band and their crew—including their assistant Chris O’Dell, a former acquaintance of Van Hamersveld who brought him to the Stones—and other The Americans outtakes.

Leaps n Bands #72: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (1972) [4/6]

Side 3, track 2 – Turd on the run

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #69 through #74 – taking us to 26 May – features a selection of tracks from the 1972 album by The Rolling Stones “Exile on Main Street”.

AllMusic called Exile on Main St. “a sprawling, weary double album”, describing it as “a series of dark, dense jams” that encompass rock and roll, blues, country, and gospel styles. Even though the album is often described as being Richards’ finest moment, as Exile is often thought to reflect his vision for a raw, rootsy rock sound, Jagger was already expressing his boredom with rock and roll in several interviews at the time of the album’s release. With Richards’ effectiveness seriously undermined by his dependence on heroin, the group’s subsequent 1970s releases—directed largely by Jagger—would experiment to varying degrees with other musical genres, moving away from the roots-based sound of Exile on Main St.Music biographer John Perry wrote that the Rolling Stones had developed a style of hard rock for the album that was “entirely modern yet rooted in 1950s rock & roll and 1930s-1940s swing”.

According to Robert Christgau, Exile on Main St. expanded on the hedonistic themes the band had explored on previous albums such as Sticky Fingers: “It piled all the old themes—sex as power, sex as love, sex as pleasure, distance, craziness, release—on top of an obsession with time that was more than appropriate in men pushing 30 who were still committed to what was once considered youth music.”

Here’s track 2 from side 3 – ‘Turd on the run’

Leaps n Bands #71: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (1972) [3/6]

Side 2, track 3 – Sweet Black Angel

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #69 through #74 – taking us to 26 May – features a selection of tracks from the 1972 album by The Rolling Stones “Exile on Main Street”.

The recording was completed with overdub sessions at Los Angeles’s Sunset Sound and included additional musicians such as pianist Nicky Hopkins, saxophonist Bobby Keys, drummer Jimmy Miller and horn player Jim Price. The resulting music was rooted in blues, rock and roll, swing, country and gospel, while the lyrics explored themes of hedonism, sex and time.

The album was originally met with mixed reviews before a positive critical reassessment during the 1970s. It has since been viewed by critics as the Rolling Stones’ best work and has been ranked highly on various lists of the greatest albums. The album contains frequently performed concert staples and was a top-10-charting album in a dozen countries, reaching number one in six, including the UK, US, and Canada. It spawned the hit songs “Happy”, a rare song that featured Keith Richards on vocals, country music ballad “Sweet Virginia”, and world-wide top-ten hit “Tumbling Dice”.

A remastered and expanded version of the album was released in Europe on 17 May 2010 and in the United States the next day, featuring a bonus disc with 10 new tracks. Unusual for a re-release, it also charted highly at the time of its release, reaching number one in the UK and number two in the US on the album charts.

Leaps n Bands #70: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (1972) [2/6]

Side 1, track 2 – Rip this joint

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #69 through #74 – taking us to 26 May – features a selection of tracks from the 1972 album by The Rolling Stones “Exile on Main Street”.

Many tracks were recorded in 1969 and 1970 at Olympic Studios and Jagger’s Stargroves country house in England during sessions for Sticky Fingers and in the summer of 1971 at a rented villa named Nellcôte in the south of France. Guitarist Keith Richards had rented the villa to live in while the band lived abroad as tax exiles.

The Stones were already practiced with recording outside of a major studio, as much of the principal recording of their prior album, Sticky Fingers, had been done at Stargroves, lead singer Mick Jagger’s country home in Hampshire, using a mobile recording studio. The same mobile studio was moved to Nellcôte and set up in the basement of the villa. Keith Richards lived upstairs in the main house, and frequent house guests, often other musician friends of the band, would wander down to the recording studio to jam with the band and lay down tracks. Daily recording sessions went on for hours into the night, with personnel varying greatly from day to day depending on who was present. Without the confines of a formal studio space, the sessions were fairly loose and unorganized, which shows in the eclectic tableau of songs styles and the sloppy, loose feel of the album.

Here’s track 2 from side 1 – ‘Rip this joint’

Leaps n Bands #69: The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (1972) [1/6]

Side 1, track 1 – Rocks Off

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #69 through #74 – taking us to 26 May – features a selection of tracks from the 1972 album by The Rolling Stones “Exile on Main Street”.

First released as a double album on 12 May 1972, it was the band’s tenth studio album released in the United Kingdom. Here’s the opening track – ‘Rocks off’

Leaps n Bands #62: David Bowie – Aladdin Sane (1973) [9/10]

Side 2, track 4 – The Jean Genie

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #54 through #63 features David Bowie’s 1973 album ‘Aladdin Sane’.

The lead single for the album (in November 1972) was “The Jean Genie”. Co-produced by Ken Scott, Bowie recorded it with his backing band the Spiders from Mars − comprising Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey. According to Bowie, it was “a smorgasbord of imagined Americana”, with a protagonist inspired by Iggy Pop, and the title being an allusion to author Jean Genet. One of Bowie’s most famous tracks, it was promoted with a film clip featuring Andy Warhol associate Cyrinda Foxe and peaked at No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart.

Leaps n Bands #61: David Bowie – Aladdin Sane (1973) [8/10]

Side 2, track 3 – Let’s spend the night together

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #54 through #63 features David Bowie’s 1973 album ‘Aladdin Sane’.

“Let’s Spend the Night Together” was written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and originally released by the Rolling Stones as a double A-sided single together with “Ruby Tuesday” in January 1967. It also appeared as the opening track on the American version of their album Between the Buttons.

Bowie covered it for Aladdin Sane and added his own lyrics to the closing lines.

Leaps n Bands #60: David Bowie – Aladdin Sane (1973) [7/10]

Side 2, track 2 – The Prettiest Star

Throughout 2020, Jemtunes is re-visiting on a track by track basis some the records that have spoken loudest over the years.

‘Leaps n Bands’ #54 through #63 features David Bowie’s 1973 album ‘Aladdin Sane’.

In January 1970, Bowie re-recorded an old Deram track, “London Bye Ta-Ta”, intended as a follow-up single to “Space Oddity”. However, the same sessions spawned a new composition named “The Prettiest Star”, which Bowie had written for Angela Barnett, reputedly playing it down the telephone as part of his proposal to her. It’s in Greek “hassapiko” dance style, as a tribute to Angie’s Cypriot ethnic origin. He also chose it as his next single, to the displeasure of manager Kenneth Pitt, who favoured “London Bye Ta-

The track featured Marc Bolan on guitar, with whom Bowie would spend the next few years as a rival for the crown of the king of glam rock. Producer Tony Visconti, who brought the two aspiring pop stars together in the studio, recalled that the session went well until the end when Bolan’s wife June remarked to Bowie, “Marc is too good for you, to be playing on this record”

Despite receiving good notices, the single reportedly sold fewer than 800 copies, a major disappointment on the back of the success of “Space Oddity”.

A more glam-influenced version was recorded in December 1972 and January 1973 for Aladdin Sane, with Mick Ronson recreating Bolan’s original guitar part almost note-for-note.