32 ARCADE FIRE
Recorded 2000-1, Boston
Before they were an orchestral eight-piece, Arcade Fire were an indie duo, dreamed up by New Hampshire boarding-school classmates Win Butler and Josh Deu, augmented at various points by multi-instrumentalist Brendan Reed (who sings on a couple of tracks here) and Tim Kyle. Recorded just as the band were relocating to Canada, these 2001 demos are startling . They sound so mature: far from the adolescent hysteria of their official demo, tracks like “In The Attic” (complete with mandolin and woodwind), and the wry “Accidents” could be outtakes from REM circa Automatic For The People, and anticipate the relaxed rock the band would adopt for 2010’s The Suburbs. “Winter For A Year” already hints at the Narnian atmosphere of their “Neighborhood” song sequence, but the really auspicious number here is “The Great Arcade Fire”, which not only gave the band their name, but, with its evocation of surreal childhood traumas (“The Christmas tree’s on fire!”) goes some way towards the death-defying intensity of Funeral.
Sound quality: Good
See also: A Very Arcade Christmas
31 RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON
Recorded September/October 1980, Chipping Norton Studios
The Thompsons were without a record contract in 1980, when Gerry Rafferty offered to finance an album for them with his “Baker Street” producer Hugh Murphy. The sessions yielded 10 tracks – and Richard rejected them all. Eighteen months later, though, he and Linda re-recorded six of the 10 songs with producer Joe Boyd as Shoot Out The Lights. Rafferty’s Folly, then, offers an alternative version of what became the couple’s final album. It’s more polished, with more instrumentation – keyboards, Moogs, accordion, simulated strings – compared to the stark Shoot Out The Lights. Other surprises include “Wall Of Death” and “Don’t Renege On Our Love” with Linda on vocals, as well as a beautiful version of Sandy Denny’s “I’m A Dreamer” (later included on Linda’s 1986 comp, Dreams Fly Away). Both Thompsons have since relaxed their attitude to the Rafferty sessions – Linda has admitted she prefers some of her vocals here. But it wasn’t bundled in with last year’s deluxe edition of Shoot Out…, and for now, it exists only in boot form, including this and Before Joe Could Pull The Trigger, which throws in demos from ’80-’82.
Sound quality: Excellent
See also: One Brave Henry, live folk club gigs from 1973