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Cherry Red

In the half a century since Rick released his first solo album, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, he has released about one hundred others, and that of course doesn’t include all of his output with Yes and Strawbs along with his various collaborations and contributions – let’s not try and count the gigs, TV appearances, etc. Live at the London Palladium is his eighth live album and quite frankly, his best.


Over the years, songs and music compositions change. They morph, get rearranged to keep them fresh or they are adapted to suit the line-up of a band for financial or practical reasons. This is especially true with Rick who has performed his classical works with orchestras and choirs but also the same pieces with just a drummer and bass player.  There is also the added factor of the way technology has affected gigs. The development of the keyboard in the digital age opened up a whole new world for Prog Rock pioneers so that they may add textures and colours to those arrangements with the stripped back band. On this album, Rick has taken all of these elements, gone back to the original arrangements and delivered an album that showcases just how brilliant he was and still is.


The original recordings are (with a bit of tweaking) reproduced in all their glory and in many cases improved. The entire ensemble – which includes the English Chamber Choir – are at the top of their game and as Rick mentions in the liner notes, that they where all unaware that the shows were being recorded. This is evident in that the usual edginess often heard on live recordings is absent, allowing everyone to just enjoy the evenings. Of particular note is singer, Haley Sanderson, who takes Rick’s melodies to a different level, especially on Merlin where she is sublime.


There has been a lot of work gone into these shows to do justice to Rick’s three most popular works but add in a set of Yes material and it starts to take on monstrous proportions. Everyone has done their homework and the seventeen minutes version of Starship Trooper gives everyone the opportunity to shine and prove their worth in the band; Rick outdoes himself here with a few new solos for the piece as he didn’t play on the original recording.


The pièce de résistance of the set is Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It is the full version which Rick recorded in 2012 after discovering a conductor’s score of his original composition in the bottom of a box. Played by everybody with great reverence,

there could be no better way to end a live album other than to perform his masterpiece in its entirety.

Track List

Disc 1 - The Six Wives of Henry VIII
1 Catherine of Aragon
2 Anne Boleyn
3 Jane Seymour
4 Anne of Cleves
5 Catherine Howard
6 Catherine Parr

Disc 2 - The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table
1 King Arthur
2 Lady of the Lake
3 Guinevere
4 Lancelot And the Black Knight
5 The Best Knight
6 Sir Galahad
7 Excalibur
8 The Last Battle
9 (ENCORE) The King of Merlins
10 (ENCORE) Merlin the Magician

Disc 3 - Yes
1 Roundabout
2 The YES Suite (part A – The Meeting)
3 The YES Suite (part B – Wonderous Stories)
4 The YES Suite (part C – Southside of the Sky)
5 And You And I
6 Starship Trooper / Wurm

Disc 4 - Journey to the Centre of the Earth
1 The Preface
2 The Journey Overture
3 Journeys Dawn
4 Crystals / The Gothic Cathedral / A Quest for Water
5 The Hansbach / Fervent Prayer
6 The Recollection / Lost And Found
7 Echoes / 4 Miles
8 The Reunion
9 A New Vista
10 A World within a World
11 The Raft
12 The Battle
13 Cumulous Clouds
14 The Storm
15 The Cemetery
16 Quaternary Man
17 Mastodons
18 The Forest
19 Ages of Man
20 The Tunnel
21 Hall of the Mountain King / Mount Etna

Lene Toy Box.jpg

THE STIFF YEARS 1978 - 1983


Cherry Red

There has been confusion amongst Lene’s fans over her Stiff catalogue for decades. Re-releases, remixes and alternate versions have surfaced with a wealth of incorrect information or quite often, no information at all. Here, finally, we have the definitive set of all her recordings in those years and a marvellous set of liner notes which includes passages from Lene herself. The rest are by Scott Davies and Michael Robson, Scott also handled all the remastering.


Disc 1 – Stateless (Original Mix)

This has been a favourite album of mine since the week it was released; my well-worn, red vinyl copy of it is autographed, framed and hangs on a wall. It is occasionally taken down for an airing as I have had disappointments galore on trying to find a release of the original UK mix on CD, the master tapes don’t seem to have survived. If that is so and this is re-mastered from a mint vinyl copy, Scott Davies deserves an award.


1 Lucky Number
2 Sleeping Beauty
3 Home
4 Too Tender (To Touch)
5 Say When
6 Tonight
7 Writing On The Wall
8 Telepathy
9 Momentary Breakdown
10 1 in a 1,000,000
11 I Think We’re Alone Now


Bonus Tracks

Hearing Lene sing I Think We’re Alone Now in Japanese is worth the price of this disc on its own. Three versions of Lucky Number including the Canadian 12” mix (A.K.A. Slavic Dance Version), rarities, B-sides and two interview snippets – she has a charming voice when she talks. The two versions of Be Stiff are the studio version and live version taken from Stiff Records’ ODD 2 release where the bands participating in the Be Stiff tour in 1978, all recorded their own version of Devo’s song of the same name. Nobody seems to know why this happened.


12 Lucky Number (Early Version)
13 I Think We’re Alone Now (Japanese Version)
14 Monkey Talk (Early Version)
15 Be Stiff
16 Be Stiff (The Entire Ensemble Recorded Live At Leeds University)
17 Lene Lovich Speaks 1
18 Lucky Number (Instrumental Version)
19 One Lonely Heart
20 Big Bird
21 Lene Lovich Speaks 2
22 Lucky Number (Slavic Dance Version)


Disc 2 – Stateless (UK/USA Remix)

The US remix is not only remixed but also has some overdubs and some parts re-recorded. Lucky Number, Say When, Tonight, Writing On The Wall, Telepathy and Momentary Breakdown are all significantly different, her signature song also being sped up slightly. Add in that the running order is different and it makes a very interesting comparison to the original mix I suspect that anyone’s preference, like mine, will be the one they grew up with.


1 Home
2 Sleeping Beauty
3 Lucky Number
4 Too Tender (To Touch)
5 Say When
6 Writing On The Wall
7 Telepathy
8 Momentary Breakdown
9 I Think We’re Alone Now
10 One in a 1,000,000
11 Tonight


Bonus Tracks

More B-side tracks start the disc but the really fascinating stuff here are the two live tapes. Recorded just six weeks apart, the first show sees the songs performed at the album tempos whilst the songs from Boston are at breakneck speed. On both tapes, the technology of the day negates recreating a lot of the sounds on the records so the songs are stripped back arrangements but the band are tight and Lene’s voice is superb, often bettering her studio performances.


12 Trixi
13 The Fly
14 The Fall
Live At The Lyceum, London 03.02.80:
15 Monkey Talk
16 The Night
17 Too Tender (To Touch)
18 You Can’t Kill Me
Live At Paradise Theater, Boston 15.03.80:
19 Angels
20 Lucky Number
21 Home


Disc 3 – Flex

Lene’s second album does not have the consistency of her first (99.9% of bands’ second albums never do) but it has all the right ingredients for an excellent follow-up. Her vocal range was extraordinary on the first album but the opening thirty seconds of Flex take it to a whole new level that continues throughout the album. Her cover of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons’ The Night is inspired, removing the upbeat Northern Soul tempo of the original and putting deep pathos into her singing. It’s haunting, passionate and loaded with pity, bringing out the true meaning of the lyrics.


1 Bird Song
2 What Will I Do Without You
3 Angels
4 The Night
5 You Can’t Kill Me
6 Egghead
7 Wonderful One
8 Monkey Talk
9 Joan
10 The Freeze


Bonus Tracks

The first four tracks speak for themselves; New Toy was a single in the UK backed with Cats Away. However, there was also a US Mini-album called New Toy which included New Toy, Cats Away, Never Never Land, Details, Savages and Special Star, the last two of these from the mini-album are bonus tracks on Disc 4. Adding to Disc 3, the Cats Away on the UK single is a different mix to the one on the US mini-album, hence it is included twice here. The extended version of New Toy is from an Australian 12” single which also contained the four live tracks from the Lyceum on Disc 2.


11 The Night (US Remix)
12 What Will I Do Without You (Single Version)
13 Bird Song (Edit)
14 Details (Original Version)
15 New Toy
16 Cats Away
17 New Toy (Extended Version)
18 Cats Away*
19 Details*
20 Never Never Land*


Disc 4 – No Man’s Land

The first lady of Stiff’s third and last album for the label was released in November 1982. It is less quirky and more synth driven as was the style of music emerging at that time and it’s certainly more mainstream – commercial if you like – with a techno sound and metronomic drumming. Lene holds back on her range for most of the songs as well although she does cut loose at the end of Rocky Road before the instrumental coda. Many of her fans say No Man’s Land is the best of the three.


1 It’s You, Only You (Mein Schmerz)
2 Blue Hotel
3 Faces
4 Walking Low
5 Special Star
6 Sister Video
7 Maria
8 Savages
9 Rocky Road


Bonus Tracks

After the aforementioned two tracks from the New Toy Mini-album, we have remixes, 12” mixes, extended mixes, dance mixes, etc…the music business loved them around the time of the release of this album so it’s no surprise to learn that there are some for the lead track on the album. Two other tracks deserve their place here, the first being Blue which was the B-side of It’s You, Only You (Mein Schmerz) and sounds more like the first album in style; It bears no relation to Blue Hotel. The other track, O Seasons O Castles, only came out as an Australian B-side to Maria.


10 Savages*
11 Special Star*
12 Blue Hotel (Single Version)
13 It’s You, Only You (Mein Schmerz) (Remixed Extended Version)
14 Blue
15 It’s You, Only You (Mein Schmerz) (Instrumental Version)
16 It’s You, Only You (Mein Schmerz) (US Extended Dance Mix)
17 Blue Hotel (US Dance Mix)
18 O Seasons O Castles


When Lene smashed the charts with Lucky Number in 1978, she seemed to come out of nowhere, unlike the other Stiff artists at the time, Nick Lowe, Mickey Jupp, Jona Lewie, etc who had been in the UK pub scene for several years. Then, just as quickly, in 1983, she vanished into thin air. She has since recorded other great songs but her body of work with Stiff will be her legacy and here it is, collected once and for all in a box for you to savour. A classy lady in a class of her own, truly unique.  

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