Features

Saturday Deluxe / 30 March 2019

Fantastic week here at SDE HQ, the highlight of which was undoubtedly Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory popping in to sign 450 SDE Heaven 17 interview booklets.

It’s very satisfying to see the spark of an idea from only a few weeks ago turn into a finished product that ends up being endorsed and supported by the artist. Martyn and Glenn are lovely people too, so I’ve learnt a lot about them and the band since we did the filmed interviews back in February.

All the pre-orders for the booklets have been shipped and we are sending out new orders daily. Not too many left now, so if you are interested remember you can only get these via the SDE shop.

The Play to Win box sets were released yesterday and there is a coloured vinyl edition of their 1996 album Bigger Than America due on Record Store Day next month.


Introducing… Pristine Babe!

I know this site is primarily about reissues and box sets but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost all interest in ‘new’ artists. With that in mind I have to tell you about a new band I saw in Camden on Thursday night. I was with a mate primarily to see a band called Sophie and the Giants who are quite good, but rather derivative of Florence + the Machine. However it was the support act that caught my eye (or ear). They were Pristine Babe, an Italian duo, based in London, who performed some great numbers with superb early ’80s disco/pop production. Think Bobby ‘O’, that Colonel Abrams synth bass, early Pet Shop Boys and the like. I think they’ve only released two songs on Spotify, but one is this seductive charmer called Moonlight. To me it sounds like some kind of ‘lost’ classic from 35 years ago.

Singer Penelope was great fun, dancing wildly and joking with the audience. EVEN BETTER than ‘Moonlight’ was the song they ended the set with, which I think must be called ‘Destiny’. I filmed about half of it and you can watch the video of it (below) which I uploaded to twitter on Friday.


Sting / My Songs new album

Sting – My Thoughts…

I’ve been following the feedback on Sting‘s new album My Songs and thought I’d offer my own thoughts on this forthcoming album.

While I’d almost certainly prefer new music or a reissue of early classics like The Dream of the Blue Turtles or Nothing Like The Sun, I have to say that a project like My Songs is still quite interesting to me. It’s much better than just trotting out another greatest hits –  which he could easily have done.

Although nowhere near as prolific, Sting in the last 20 years or so has been a bit like Elvis Costello, simply undertaking projects that have interested him, without being overly concerned with commerciality. So the 2013 musical theatre production The Last Ship was clearly very personal to him, but of only of limited interest to his massive fanbase, while the Lute-heavy Songs From The Labyrinth (2006) was never going to deliver mainstream appeal. Other albums such as Symphonicities (2010) or If on a Winters Night (2009)– were interesting, but of course didn’t deliver new Sting songs.

If that kind of activity has bugged you, then Sting has certainly turned things around recently. He’s been really productive with two new albums in the last three years. It’s a bit much to expect another brand new studio album so quickly. Yes, we can argue about the merits of the new material, but I thought 57th & 9th was solid without being outstanding but really enjoyed the album with Shaggy.

I’d love many of my favourite artists to do what Sting is doing here – re-record the old hits – so I for one am looking forward to hearing My Songs. It’s going to be a fun listen, determining what in the mix is new and what isn’t. Sting has written so many great songs and recorded many great albums, that it’s unrealistic to expect him to be matching the giddy heights of the late ’70s and 1980s, as he approaches his 68th birthday.

The one legitimate grumble is the lack of reissues. 2011’s 25 Years was the most boring and predictable retrospective EVER – Sting, his management and Universal Music appeared to put a lot of work into NOT including anything rare or interesting – and everyone in the whole world, except Sting, seems to agree that a Dream Of The Blue Turtles reissue is a GOOD IDEA.

My Songs will be released on 24 May. Read more about it here.

28 responses to Saturday Deluxe / 30 March 2019

  1. Rickjapan says:

    My Heaven 17 Play To Win set is arriving tomorrow, and I’m already disappointed after hearing about the mistakes. This shouldn’t happen, period, not to this extent. Sigh. At least it’s being addressed, see here:

    https://www.demonmusicgroup.co.uk/heaven-17-cd-issues/

    Fingers crossed that it gets sorted

  2. DON COOPER says:

    Pristine Babe have been listening and viewing a lot of Scarlet Fantastic,methinks…

  3. Greg says:

    Oh, that Pristine Babe track is GLORIOUS. Scratches just the right itch for me, kind of like the first time I heard The Mother We Share.

  4. Cornelius says:

    Rolling Stones ‘Some Girls’ super deluxe box set, is priced by Amazon UK at £64.94. It was £109 a few months ago.

  5. Asoka says:

    You’ll never get Bob Dylan! So there!

  6. DJ Turnip says:

    I loved the Demolition Man remixes from the film, in fact, all Sting’s remix choices have been excellent on his solo material. They were all credible with Club D.J’s, and the “If you love somebody” and “If I ever lose my faith” house mixes are still classics. Which all makes the thought of more expanded versions of his albums even more attractive.

  7. Chris says:

    Why do record companies never ‘proof listen’ to CD compilations these days – what are Edsel going to do about the mistakes on Play To Win

  8. Steven says:

    I always enjoy inventive reworkings of songs I like, and so I’m looking forward to Sting’s new album. I’m glad also to see there are others who feel the same. He wrote them throughout his creative life – it must have been an enjoyable experience to return to them once more, closely exploring them as an older man looking back.

  9. Kauwgompie says:

    I think the Sting thing boils down to one thing. To like this you have to be a giant Sting fan. I like Sting but don’t love him. So this isn’t for me. If Duran Duran would do the same, I may buy it. Or Depeche Mode.
    Pristine Babe is GREAT!!

  10. N Halls says:

    Sorry to go off topic, but did anyone get the Simple Minds Rejuvention from Amazon.

    Just a warning, mine came damaged. The CDs were all out, but luckily they were OK, but the book holding the CDs, corners very badly damaged and scuffed on the outside.

    I was sent in a box within a box. The box on the outside was way too large

    Maybe I was unlucky. I have rang Amazon and they offered 30% off price back or I could sent it back.

  11. Bob McCartney says:

    I like all of Sting’s “Commerical” releases, some more than others. I’ve been following the Police and Sting, as well as U2 since I was a pup. I’m always happy to see an artist put out new material, whether it is a super deluxe edition or stretching their boundaries.
    I’m also a little surprised by the negativity they generate.
    I think their overall body of work lends them the benefit of the doubt.
    That being said, I’m addicted to the reply section of SDE!
    Great Job, Paul!

  12. James says:

    Great tip re: Pristine Babe. Loved the 2 YouTube tracks. Penelope could wuite possibly be my next crush!

  13. CJ Feeney says:

    I loved the two Joni Mitchell songs on “Both Sides Now”- her orchestral Jazz album, but the band and her deeper voice made them completely different to the originals. I also really liked the “Directors Cut” album by KB, though the differences were more subtle.

    However, the “Close Up” series by Suzanne Vega is my favourite example of an artist re-recording. not every song is better, but hearing a new performance in a different context/tracklist makes her whole catalogue sound fresh.

    Incidentally, did you get permission to share the “Pristine Babe” video clip – there’s a new law a-comin down the line, you know.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Do you mean the clip that I filmed? What’s this law then?

      • stevieb says:

        The new EU copyright law that was passed this week perhaps? Don’t know much about it myself but could that be what CJ was referring to?

        • Paul Taylor says:

          I’m sure it’s more to do with the likes of GIFs that play part of an artist’s music. Something to do with mechanical copyright and royalties. Not sure if it applies to stuff like filming something on your own equipment

        • -SG- says:

          More EU law, gawd, those eurocrats are annoying. As far as I have seen, Generally it is more of a problem if you film someone like Adele because said person and handlers want complete control of image etc and they don’t need the exposure and there are people paid to control the flow of image; if the artist is unknown, generally speaking any positive exposure is welcome. Any unknown band too precious about exposure before a handfull of people have heard of them will likely stay unknown. Cheers Paul for sharing, having an ear to the floor is something that makes reading your articles fun.

      • CJ Feeney says:

        The artist will have copyright for their musical performance and publishing rights for the song. They can deny permission (though I’m sure they will be pleased with the publicity and unlikely to withhold permission when asked).
        The new law says GIFs and memes are unlikely to be affected as parody is allowable, along with quoting and/or providing short extracts for illustration or the purpose of review.

        • Paul Sinclair says:

          Haven’t artists been able to deny permission on YouTube for ages? I filmed a song at a Roger Hodgson gig a few years back and the ultra-aggressive management team got me some kind of ‘strike’ on my account which limited my ability to do certain things (like upload a custom thumbnail). I wouldn’t have minded but I met Roger after the show and chatted and told him about SDE and he seemed reasonably interested!

          • Julian H says:

            Wow Paul, we have something in common there. I got a strike for uploading a cover version of a Supertramp song. Incidentally, it was not the first ‘Tramp song I’d covered, and it wasn’t even one of his (but “Bloody Well Right” by Rick Davies). Only then I realized that this rubbish affected lots of users, some of which lost their channels. Needless to say that this, coupled with the fanbots who creep onto the Steve Hoffman forums every time a Supertramp thread is opened and advertise Roger’s solo concerts, and edit every setlist on setlist.fm to add “written and composed by Roger Hodgson” to every freaking song, turned me off Hodgson quite a bit. This is a guy who sings about love and peace but shows no such towards well-meaning fans, and instead comes across as seriously overzealous/over-protective! I mean, I can understand him being overshadowed by the name of his former band, but surely making new music would do his profile better?!

            What makes it even worse is representatives of his claiming it’s not his doing but that of his record company…

    • Stephen K. says:

      Now I can ‘second’ what a great job Suzanne Vega did with her “Close Up” series. Between the different discs in the series, you can cobble together a reasonable new version of her 99.9F° album. There would still be 1-3 tracks missing (I don’t remember which), but it is mostly represented. Vega also needs a singles compilation that isn’t missing tracks, but in terms of discussing re-works, she’s one of the ones to try to beat. She’s set the standard.

  14. Stephen K. says:

    That Pristine Babe song sounds great.

  15. Stephen K. says:

    There are bands who lift a single from an album and rework it, or even release a single and then re-release it because they’ve recorded a new version they like better (and usually this works out beautifully), but these re-workings are usually done close to the time of the album’s original release. Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode and New Order do a good job of releasing new re-works much further down the line, because these re-works are essentially remixes as opposed to just re-recordings. But most bands who come back years later to revisit a song, even if they are doing something fundamentally different (like taking a rock/pop song and re-recording it with an orchestra) end up with something pretty close to the original. And despite my interest, I almost never spend much time listening to it. When I do, it’s mainly out of curiosity. But then I decide it doesn’t have much relevancy, and I stop listening. Even Erasure aren’t immune… the new single versions they did of Sometimes and Oh L’amour and A Little Respect just aren’t different enough (though in the first 2 cases, they were accompanied by remixes). Their World Beyond classical-ish album didn’t grab me. And yet, their orchestra re-works on the Two Ring Circus were fantastic. So… there’s a way to do this right and a way to do this wrong.

    I think the Police songs will benefit the most from this album. But, context is everything. I wouldn’t mind a WHOLE album of every song from Dream of the Blue Turtles re-worked, because it can stand apart as its own work. But doing 4 songs from there and putting them on the 25 box set, where they really don’t belong (in a collection of his previous work) just produces an eye-roll. The idea of Kate Bush re-recording The Sensual World isn’t bad, in fact the 4 songs re-worked for Director’s Cut are great, but what am I supposed to do with just 4 songs and not the album?

    And although the idea of a re-works album might be more interesting than another greatest hits collection, I’m still waiting for a Sting singles collection. Field of Dreams failed to include all of his UK singles recorded ‘up to that point in time’, and by the time 25 was released, the task was more difficult, though with a 3-disc version, it’s a shame that Sting still couldn’t make a singles collection out of it, because it was certainly possible.

  16. Darren says:

    Paul – I think that’s a balanced view of the Sting release. I’ve been a fan and collector for over 30 years and the amount of stuff that has been released from the vaults (for both Sting solo and The Police) is shockingly poor.

    The remixed DOTBT reissue was talked about a while ago, but all we’ve seen is the handful of tracks on 25 Years. I would love to be the curator for a deluxe reissue with so much material available for bonus tracks.

    With regards the “My Songs” release, it would seem that there are a bunch of songs that will be effectively studio recordings of live renditions. Sting has always tinkered with the material in a live setting, so I’m looking forward to those. Demolition Man sounds good to me (anyone remember the terrible bunch of remixes when he released the song to promote the film of the same name? See, it could be worse!). Brand New Day as a track has never done much for me and the new version does change my mind.

    It would have been all too easy for the record company to throw out another collection of the same old studio tracks. At least we get something different, even if it ends up being a mixed bag.

  17. Neil says:

    Just out of curiosity Paul i would assume you received a copy of that Heaven 17 box set and i was wondering if you had noticed those mistakes that have been mentioned.

  18. James Lee says:

    I agree Paul this is worth looking forward to. If it is anything as good as Paul Simon’s recent reworking of his back catalogue I’ll be happy.

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