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ALBUM
THE PRETTY RECKLESS

OTHER WORLDS 

Sony Music International Japan

You’ll look at the track list and recognise most of the titles on it. That’s because it’s filled with covers, remixes and acoustic versions, including some from their last outing, 2021’s Death By Rock And Roll. It may sound a bit of an odd thing to do but let’s let Taylor Momsen explain the reasoning behind it before we dive into the music. 

 

    “For a long time, we’ve been trying to figure out an  alternative way of releasing music, including songs we love that didn’t make our records, covers, and alternate versions. We found a way to do this coherently and consistently with Other Worlds.”

 

That they have. The opening track, a remix of Got So High from the above-mentioned previous album is actually far better and conveys more emotion due to it being stripped back. Likewise, 25, from the same album, without the powerful John Barry-esque backing is a powerhouse. Taylor’s singing is obviously more prominent with just a piano backing on this particular version and it will have you upping her rating on your personal ‘Best Female Vocalist’ list. Acoustic versions of Death By Rock And Roll and Harley Darling only go to prove what such great songwriters as Paul McCartney, Nick Lowe and Christopher Cross have said; ‘If it works on an acoustic guitar or a piano, it’s good song.’

 

Speaking of Nick Lowe, they cover one of his songs which was a big hit for Elvis Costello and was also covered by Curtis Stigers; you may know it from the Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner film, The Bodyguard. The Pretty Reckless do a gorgeously simple version of it as they do Bowie’s Quicksand from his Hunky Dorey album which, incidentally, they have Mike Garson, one of Bowie’s piano players, playing on. (N.B. Rick Wakeman played the piano on the Bowie version). As it happens, there seems to be a lot of respect for The Pretty Reckless given the guest musicians who have willingly given their time to play on this record. Soundgarden and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron is on Halfway There and Chris Connell collaborator, Alain Johannes, makes an appearance. I shall leave you to discover the others.  

 

Essentially, there are no new songs on here but what there is, is a different way of presenting the band. It’s a clever idea and paves the way for them to play an acoustic set during their future live performances. Moreover, they can keep putting albums out like this, offering different takes on their own material and covers which would make the shows unpredictable and showcase all of their talents as individuals as well as collectively. What they have shown is that they can take a wide variety of songs from different genres and generations and give them a Pretty Reckless touch, not just covering them but re-working them to suit their own style and sound. As for re-working their own songs, they are just as adept at that as well and are having fun doing all this. Expect Vol. 2 sometime.

 

Track List

Got So High (Remix)

Loud Love

The Keeper

Quicksand

25 (Acoustic)

Only Love Can Save Me Now (Acoustic)

Death by Rock and Roll (Acoustic)

Halfway There

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding

Harley Darling (Acoustic)

Got So High

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ALBUM
JOE MEEK

THE TEA CHEST TAPES 

Cherry Red Records

Vol 1 The Telstar Story

Vol 2 The Heinz Sessions (Vol 1)

 

In the 1960s, Britain ruled the world of Pop with producers, George Martin, famed for his work with The Beatles of course, Mickie Most, who recorded The Animals and Herman’s Hermits and American born but famed for his UK work, Shel Tamy, who produced The Who, The Kinks. There were others but there were none as important or independent as Joe Meek. Joe had the first US No. 1 by a British band, Telstar by The Tornadoes which he wrote, recorded and mixed. He used session musicians Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page to name but two who went onto worldwide fame, pioneered recording techniques with limiters and echo, created all his own sound effects and did everything from his own home studio at 304 Holloway Rd, London. His life was tragic in many ways, his death especially but there is no doubt he was a recording genius. When he died, he left behind 1,865 reels of unreleased recordings in 74 tea chests, many containing such future stars as Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Tom Jones. These became known as The Tea Chest Tapes, 99% of which have remained unheard since the 1960s. Joe Meek fans like myself have dreamed of the day they would be released and so when Cherry Red announced that they had secured a deal to release them, we shed a lonely tear and just hoped Cherry Red, who have an excellent reputation for vintage releases, would do a decent job on them. In fact, they have excelled.

 

First, the format. The releases are pressed on 10” high quality vinyl, with a background story by Rob Bradford, the editor of the Joe Meek Society magazine Thunderbolt. These are printed on a stiff gatefold sleeve which houses the record, the artwork refers to the artist, tape reels and boxes and there are individual track notes adding further to Rob’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Mr Meek. As for the music, the reproduction is nothing short of magical. Magnetic tapes fade, stretch and deteriorate over time so a massive credit must go to Alan Wilson and Martin Nicholls who have been tasked with the job of restoring them; the clarity is astonishing.

 

Given the amount of material available, it would be naïve to think that Cherry Red would release all of it so they have opted to put tracks together to tell a story so to speak of a song or an artist. Vol 1 is about that first US No. 1 mentioned above and through eight tracks, we get to hear various elements that morphed and evolved the final release which, incidentally, is not included. Quite right too, it’s not needed and can be heard on a hundred different compilations and is all over the internet. Also included are a couple of alternate releases and rarities which give us a glimpse into the way Joe operated. Vol 2 is about Heinz who was one of Joe’s favourite musician’s although it must be said, not for his musical ability. Heinz had a UK Top 5 hit with Just Like Eddie but then struggled to make the Top 30. Again, there are no official releases but a series of demos and takes that show how Joe worked. For all you Deep Purple fans, there is some very obvious Blackmore guitar work on some of the tracks which alone makes essential listening for this record. 

 

Music and his studio were pretty much the only thing in Joe’s life. He recorded at will, was addicted to amphetamine pills, suffered from paranoia and was gay in a time when being gay was illegal. Some said he had a split personality, what we now call Dissociative Identity Disorder. Towards the end of his life, he became obsessed with the occult and spiritualism. Joe committed suicide on February 3rd 1967 after accidentally shooting his landlady. It was the 8th anniversary of his hero, Buddy Holly’s death. No one knows for sure if it was planned or coincidence but what we do know is that he left behind an incredible amount of unreleased great music of which, these two releases are just the start. Keep ‘em coming Cherry Red.