The Doors – Strange Days (1967)

FrontCover1Strange Days is the second studio album by American rock band the Doors, released on September 25, 1967 by Elektra Records. The album was a commercial success, reaching number 3 on the US Billboard 200, and eventually earning RIAA platinum certification. The album contains the Top 30 hit singles “People Are Strange” and “Love Me Two Times”.

Strange Days was recorded during tour breaks between May and August 1967 at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood (the same studio as their first LP). In contrast to the 1966 sessions, producer Paul A. Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick employed a cutting-edge 8-track recording machine. The protracted sessions allowed the band to experiment in the studio and further augment their otherworldly sound with unusual instrumentation and sonic manipulation. According to Botnick, this approach was inspired by the band obtaining an advance copy of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album and “absolutely flipping out” at what they heard. Botnick said that, following the Beatles’ example, the Doors were determined to pursue “new techniques of recording. No holds barred.”

Developed with the assistance of Paul Beaver, the title track constitutes one of the earliest uses of a Moog synthesizer in rock. On the Morrison poem “Horse Latitudes”, AdBotnick took the white noise of a tape recorder and varied the speed by hand-winding it (resulting in a sound akin to wind) as the four band members played a variety of instruments in unusual ways. Further varispeed was then employed to create different timbres and effects. The band also explored musique concrète techniques on the album.

Session musician Douglass Lubahn played bass during the recording of the album.[3]
Composition

Several of the songs on Strange Days had been written around the same time as the ones that appeared on The Doors. Two (“My Eyes Have Seen You” and “Moonlight Drive”) had been demoed in 1965 at Trans World Pacific Studios before Krieger joined the group; indeed, the latter had been conceived by Morrison prior to his fateful reunion with Manzarek in the summer of 1965.[4] Although the song was attempted twice during the sessions for the band’s debut, both versions were deemed unsatisfactory. A conventional blues arrangement, “Moonlight Drive”‘s defining features were its slightly off-beat rhythm and Krieger’s bottleneck guitar, which create an eerie sound.

The LP’s first single, “People Are Strange”, was composed in early 1967 after Krieger, drummer John Densmore, and a depressed Morrison had walked to the top of Laurel Canyon.[6] Densmore recalled the song’s writing process in his book Riders on the Storm. Densmore and Krieger, who had then been roommates, were visited by a dejected Morrison, who was acting “deeply depressed.” At the suggestion of Densmore, they took a walk along Laurel Canyon. Morrison returned from the walk “euphoric” with the early lyrics of “People Are Strange”.

DoorsLive1966The Doors, live at the Fog, London, 1966

Although Morrison was the Doors’ primary lyricist, Robby Krieger wrote several of the group’s hit singles, with his first composition being “Light My Fire”. According to band members, his bluesy “Love Me Two Times” was about a soldier/sailor on his last day with his girlfriend before shipping out, ostensibly to war. Manzarek described the song as “Robby’s great blues/rock classic about lust and lost, or multiple orgasms, I’m not sure which.” In 1997, Krieger stated to Guitar World’s Alan Paul that the musical idea for “Love Me Two Times” came from a lick from a Danny Kalb album. Manzarek played the final version of this song on a harpsichord, not a clavichord. Manzarek described the instrument as “a most elegant instrument that one does not normally associate with rock and roll.” It was edited to a 2:37 length and released as the second single (after “People Are Strange”) from that album, and reached No. 25 on the charts in the US. “Love Me Two Times” was considered to be somewhat risqué for radio airplay, being banned in New Haven for being “too controversial,” much to the dismay of the band.

The album concludes with the 11 minute-long epic, “When the Music’s Over”.

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The album cover of Strange Days, photographed by Joel Brodsky, depicts a group of street performers in New York. The location of the photograph is at Sniffen Court, a residential alley next to East 36th Street between Lexington and Third Avenue in Manhattan. The availability of such performers pictured was low, so Brodsky’s assistant stood in as a juggler while a random cab driver was paid $5 to pose playing the trumpet. Twin dwarfs were hired, with one appearing on the front cover and one appearing on the back cover, which is the other half of the same photo on the front cover. However, a group shot of the band does appear on a poster in the background of both covers, bearing captions of the band and album name. (The same photograph previously appeared on the back cover of the band’s debut album.) Because of the subtlety of the artist and album title, most record stores put stickers across the cover to help customers identify it more clearly.

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Strange Days was released on September 25, 1967 by Elektra Records. Although the album was quite successful, reaching No. 3 in the United States during a sixty-three-week chart stay in November 1967, its impact was attenuated by the enduring success of the band’s debut album, which remained in the Top Ten over ten months after its release during a 122-week stay. According to producer Paul Rothchild, “We all thought it was the best album. Significantly, it was also the one with the weakest sales. We were confident it was going to be bigger than anything The Beatles had done. But there was no single. The record died on us.”

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Personnel:
John Densmore (drums)
Robby Krieger (guitar)
Ray Manzarek (keyboards, harpsichord background vocals on 07.)
Jim Morrison (vocals, percussion, synthesizer on 07.)
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Douglas Lubahn (bass)
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background vocals on 07.:
Paul A. Rothchild –Bruce Botnick

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Tracklist:
01. Strange Days 3.09
02. You’re Lost Little Girl 3.03
03. Love Me Two Times 3.170
04. Unhappy Girl 2.00
05. Horse Latitudes 1.35
06. Moonlight Drive 3.04
07. People Are Strange 2.12
08. My Eyes Have Seen You 2.30
09. I Can’t See Your Face In My Mind 3.27
10. When The Music’s Over 10.59

All songs written – Jim Morrison – Ray Manzarek – Robby Krieger – John Densmore

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Willie Nelson – It Always Will Be (2004)

WillieNelsonFrontCover1It Always Will Be is the fifty-second studio album by country singer Willie Nelson. It includes a cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider”, recorded here as a duet with Toby Keith. This cover was released, but did not chart. (by wikipedia)

On his millionth album (or does it just feel that way?), Willie Nelson teams with a new band — except for Family Band harmonicat Mickey Raphael — and duets with some major leaguers. Most of the time, It Always Will Be feels like a Willie album of old. Recorded for the Lost Highway label and produced by James Stroud in Nash Vegas, it’s an inspired collection of fine songs for the most part, and Nelson is in fine voice with the edges beginning to show just a tiny bit. He wrote the title cut, one of the strongest here. Lyrically, it’s tender without being overly sentimental, sweet without being saccharine, and delivered with his trademark elegance and grace. The cover of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan’s “Picture in a Frame,” though faithful, puts Nelson’s stamp firmly on it. With Raphael’s harmonica, Willie’s acoustic, and a skeletal band featuring an understated pedal steel, Nelson’s dignity in the delivery is deeply moving. When he’s this on fire, the only place he usually blows it is in duets — at least on his own records. There are duets here. “Be That As It May,” with daughter Paula and written by her, is just a gorgeous country song. The pair’s voices contrast beautifully and the tune itself is tight and hooky in a Texas country music way.

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“Dreams Come True,” with Norah Jones, is a pretty swing tune that is forgettable but far from offensive, and Lucinda Williams is the star on her own “Overtime.” Willie and Lucinda were made to sing together; the melancholy of the tune lends itself well to her whiskey contralto and his easy baritone. The tune sweetly drifts and lilts with swaying guitars, an accordion, and whispering brushwork. Toby Keith makes an appearance singing background vocals on his “Tired,” but Nelson makes the song his own. Nelson’s “Texas” is a wonderful mariachi blues song that gives way to bittersweet Southwestern honky tonk balladry and showcases his excellent guitar work. The set closes with the album’s only dog, a big-beat over-produced dancy punch-up of Gregg Allman’s classic “Midnight Rider.” It sucks bad. Why this song made the cut is a mystery, but it’s a typical thing for Nelson, to add something that just doesn’t fit. Thankfully, it’s the album’s final song and can be skipped. Be that as it may, It Always Will Be is the best outing for Nelson since Teatro. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Eddie Bayers (drums)
Dan Dugmore (pedal steel-guitar)
Chris Dunn (horn)
Scotty Emerick (guitar)
Shannon Forrest (drums)
Paul Franklin (pedal steel-guitar)
Kenny Greenberg (guitar)
Wes Hightower (vocals)
Jim Horn (horn)
Clayton Ivey (keyboards)
Amy James (vocals)
Sam Levine (horn)
Liana Manis (vocals)
Brent Mason (guitar)
Steve Nathan (keyboards)
Willie Nelson (guitar, vocals)
Steve Patrick (horn)
Mickey Raphael (harmonica)
Michael Rhodes (bass)
Matt Rollings (keyboards)
Biff Watson (guitar)
Glenn Worf (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. It Always Will Be (Nelson) 4.12
02. Picture In A Frame (Waits/Brennan) 3.39
03. The Way You See Me (Adams/Day) 4.21
04. Be That As It May (Nelson) (Duet with Paula Nelson) 3.29
05. You Were It (Nelson) 4.28
06. Big Booty (Throckmorton) 3.03
07. I Didn’t Come Here (And I Ain’t Leavin’) (Emerick/Smotherman) 3.10
08. My Broken Heart Belongs To You (Anderson/Nelson) 2.26
09. Dreams Come True (Hopkins) (Duet with Norah Jones) 4.35
10. Over Time (Williams) (Duet with Lucinda Williams) 3.45
11. Tired (Cannon/Keith) 4.19
12. Love’s The One And Only Thing (Emerick/Loggins) 3.35
13. Texas (Nelson) 3.56
14. Midnight Rider (Allman/Payne) (Duet with Toby Keith) 3.00

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The Kinks – Live At The Fillmore West (1969)

KinksFrontCover1This gem is one of the few available shows from this time period, probably the most productive of their career (coming on the heels of arguably their best albums, Village Green Preservation Society and Arthur, both of which were complete failures in the U.S.). This show was one of their first in the States after the ban barring them from appearing in the U.S. was lifted (after almost 4 years!). The exact reason for the ban by the American Federation of Musicians was never made quite clear (even to this day), but Ray and the boys did not perform in the U.S from 1966 through most of 1969. Anyway, here in their appearance at the the Fillmore West, the band was in fine form, and they delivered a very eclectic set that scattered some of their hits (‘Tired of Waiting’, ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘Till the End of the Day’, ‘Well-Respected Man’) with numerous relatively obscure album tracks (‘Your Looking Fine’, ‘Big Sky’, ‘Mr. Churchill Says’, ‘Brainwashed’, etc), that were virtually unknown in the U.S., and were not often performed in concert in subsequent years. So enjoy this unique taste of ’60’s-era Kinks. (bbchron.blogspot.com)

Quality is so-so but I still love this recording. The Kinks are playing raw garage rock. If you imagine a less polished “Live At Kelvin Hall” minus the screaming you get the idea! The track listing (see below) is superb. By the early 70’s the Kinks went a bit too MOR/cabaret for me at times. This is their last period of being a proper rock band live until they reinvented themselves in the late 70s. An important show to track down for Kinks fans. (by bigbullyweedave)

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Personnel:
Mick Avory (drums)
John Dalton (bass)
Dave Davies (guitar, vocals)
Ray Davies (vocals, guitar, harmonica)

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Tracklist:
01. Till The End Of The Day (R.Davies) 1.53
02. Mindless Child Of Motherhood (D.Davies) 3.25
03. Last Of The Steam Powered Trains (R.Davies) 6.24
04. You’re Looking Fine (R.Davies) 6.50
05. Mr. Churchill Says (R.Davies) 4.22
06. Big Sky (R.Davies) 3.11
07. You Really Got Me/All Day And All Of The Night (R.Davies) 3.41
08. Love Me Till The Sun Shines (D.Davies) 5.40
09. Brainwashed (R.Davies) 1.10
10. Medley 1 / 9.34
10.1. Milk Cow Blues (Estes)
10.2. See My Friend (R.Davies)
10.3. Tired Of Waiting For You (R.Davies)
10.4. Brainwashed (R.Davies)
11. Louie Louie (Berry) 3.58
12. Victoria (R.Davies) 3.11
13. Medley 2 / 3.04
13.1. Well Respected Man (R.Davies)
13.2. Death Of A Clown (D.Davies)
13.3. Dandy (R.Davies)

TheKinks1969The Kinks, live in 1969

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Kathy Mattea – Love Travels (1997)

FrontCover1.jpgKathleen Alice Mattea (born June 21, 1959) is an American country music and bluegrass singer. Active since 1984 as a recording artist, she has charted more than thirty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including four that reached No. 1: “Goin’ Gone”, “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses”, “Come from the Heart”, and “Burnin’ Old Memories”, plus twelve more that charted within the top ten. She has released fourteen studio albums, two Christmas albums, and one greatest hits album. Most of her material was recorded for Universal Music Group Nashville’s Mercury Records Nashville division between 1984 and 2000, with later albums being issued on Narada Productions, her own Captain Potato label, and Sugar Hill Records. Among her albums, she has received five gold certifications and one platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). She has collaborated with Dolly Parton, Michael McDonald, Tim O’Brien, and her husband, Jon Vezner. Mattea is also a two-time Grammy Award winner: in 1990 for “Where’ve You Been”, and in 1993 for her Christmas album Good News. Her style is defined by traditional country, bluegrass, folk, and Celtic music influences.

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Love Travels is the ninth studio album released by American country music singer Kathy Mattea. It was released in 1997 (see 1997 in country music) on Mercury Records, the label to which she had been signed since 1984. Three singles were released from it: “455 Rocket”, “I’m on Your Side”, and “Love Travels”. “455 Rocket” was the highest charting, reaching a peak of #21 on the Billboard country charts, while “Love Travels” was her final Top 40 country entry at #39. Suzy Bogguss sang background vocals on “Further and Further Away.” (by wikipedia)

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Mattea is a tasteful, thoughtful singer who uses country music as a means to an end. Her music is not so much rooted in the country tradition as it is a by-product of it. Mattea’s roots are more James Taylor than George Jones, and while steel guitars and 2/4 rhythms abound, LOVE TRAVELS is more an album of stylized Nashville folk-pop than neo-country.

To flesh out her introspective vision, Mattea reaches beyond the usual stable of Nashville songwriters to include songs by some honest-to-god singer-songwriter types. Gillian Welch contributes “Patiently Waiting” and “455 Rocket,” and they show Welch to be capable of writing outside her own trad-country performance style. Jim Lauderdale’s “I’m On Your Side,” an unsentimental oath of loyalty, is one of the album’s highlights. Janis Ian’s moody, minor-key “All Roads To The River” lends a dark side to LOVE TRAVELS. The clean but homey production of Mattea and Ben Wisch creates an atmosphere through which the subtle beauty of the songs can clearly be seen.

Recorded at Woodland Studios, Nashville, Tennessee

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Personnel:
Chris Carmichael (violin)
Lionel Cartwright (piano, background vocals)
Bill Cooley (guitar)
Jerry Douglas (dobro)
Stuart Duncan (mandolin)
Paul Franklin (pedal steel-guitar)
Bob Halligan, Jr. (guitar, piano)
James “Hutch” Hutchinson (bass)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Abe Laboriel, Jr, (drums, percussion)
Jim Lauderdale (guitar)
Steve Lauer (accordion, harmonium)
Tim Lauer (synthesizer)
Hunter Lee (whistle, bagpipes)
Duke Levine (guitar)
Kathy Mattea (vocals)
Edgar Meyer (bass)
Don Potter (guitar)
Matt Rollings (keyboards)
Kirby Shelstad (percussion)
Steve Sturm (pedal steel-guitar)
Ben Wisch (synthesizer, background vocals)
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background vocals:
Jonatha Brooke – Michael McDonald – Kim Richey

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Tracklist:
01. Love Travels (B.Halligan Jr./L.Halligan) 5.31
02. Sending Me Angels (Miller/Williams) 4.16
03. Patiently Waiting (Welch) 5.05
04. If That’s What You Call Love (Cartwright) 4.30
05. Further And Further Away (Wheeler) 4.32
06. 455 Rocket (Rawlings/Welch) 4.09
07. I’m On Your Side (Lauderdale) 3.10
08. The Bridge (Jim Pittman/Kimmel) 3.26
09. All Roads To The River (Ian/Vezner) 3.17
10. The End Of The Line (Fleming/Cawley/Kennedy) 4.29
11. Beautiful Fool (Henry) 4.52

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Still alive & well:

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Stan Getz – Tribute To Zoot Sims (1985)

FrontCover1.jpgOver the last seven years the Chicago Jazz Festival clearly has become the best-programmed, most consistently exciting jazz event in the country – one that attracts Chicagoans of all races, ages and income levels and knits them together into a big swinging family.

What may not be so obvious, though, is what the Fest does for the image of the city of Chicago.

On any given night, a good percentage of the audience consists of visitors from all across the country, most of whom have come here especially for the Fest. And this year there also was a large foreign contingent, including fans from China, Japan, France, Austria, Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Finland. To modify an old saying: Build a better jazz fest and the world will beat a path to your door.

Sunday`s concert, which concluded this year’s Fest, was attended by a crowd estimated at 62,000 – an estimate that, as on most nights, seemed rather conservative by the standards used in previous years. Be that as it may, there could be no quarrel about the quality of most of the music.

Choosing highlights is difficult, but the final tribute of this year’s tribute-rich Fest would have to be one, a salute to the late Zoot Sims that featured four of his distinguished partners, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Jimmy Giuffre and Herbie Steward.

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Of course, this group amounts to half of the sax section that recorded ”Four Brothers” with Woody Herman, plus Giuffre, the piece’s composer-arranger. So a performance of ”Four Brothers” was both obligatory and handsomely done, as was Getz’s famous Herman feature, ”Early Autumn.”

Before that, Getz had been typically dazzling, while Mulligan, the closest friend of Sims on the bill, had made that bond clear in his playing. The only regret was that the all-star lineup left too little space to Giuffre and Steward. (Larry Kart, Chicago Tribune; September 2, 1985)

What a line-up !

Recorded live at the Jazz Festival Chicago, Chicago, IL; August 31, 1985
Very good FM broadcast.

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Personnel:
Kenny Barron (piano)
Al Foster (drums)
Stan Getz (saxophone)
Jimmy Giuffre (saxophone)
George Mraz (bass)
Gerry Mulligan (saxophone)
Herbie Steward – tenor saxophone

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Tracklist:
01. Introduction / Let Me Count The Ways 13:20
02. If You Cared For Me Like I Cared For You Then You Wouldn’t Cared All (Feldmman) 5.13
03. Falling In Love (Rogers) 14.32
04. Blues For Zoot (Mulligan) 6.17
05. Georgia On My Mind (Carmichael) 4.23
06. Satin Doll (Ellington/Strayhorn) 5.03
07. The Red Door (Sims) 6.14
08. Zoot (Giuffre) 5.48
09. Four Brothers (Giuffre) 5.16
10. Early Autumn (Burns) 3.50

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Wendy O. Williams – Kommander Of Kaos (1986)

FrontCover1Wendy Orlean Williams (28 May 1949 – 6 April 1998) was an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Born in Webster, New York, she came to prominence as the lead singer of the punk rock band Plasmatics. Her onstage theatrics included partial nudity, exploding equipment, firing a shotgun, and chainsawing guitars. Dubbed the “Queen of Shock Rock” and the “Metal Priestess”, Williams was considered the most controversial and radical female singer of her time. Performing her own stunts in videos, she often sported a mohawk hairstyle. In 1985, during the height of her popularity as a solo artist, she was nominated for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

Leaving home at 16, Williams hitchhiked to Colorado, earning money by crocheting string bikinis. She travelled to Florida and Europe landing various jobs such as lifeguard, stripper, macrobiotic cook, and server at Dunkin’ Donuts. After arriving in New York City in 1976, she began performing in live sex shows, and in 1979 appeared in the porno WendyOWilliams01Candy Goes to Hollywood. That year manager Rod Swenson recruited her to the Plasmatics and the two became romantically involved. The band quickly became known on the local underground scene, performing at clubs such as CBGB.

Three albums with Plasmatics later, Williams embarked on a solo career and released her debut album, WOW, in 1984. Albums Kommander of Kaos (1986) and Deffest! and Baddest! (1988) followed, before her retirement from the music industry. Williams made her non-adult screen debut in Tom DeSimone’s film Reform School Girls (1986), for which she recorded the title song. She also appeared in the 1989 comedy Pucker Up and Bark Like a Dog, television series The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, and MacGyver. On 6 April 1998, Williams committed suicide near her home in Storrs, Connecticut by gunshot; she had attempted to kill herself twice in the years leading up to her death, allegedly she had also been struggling with deep depression.

Kommander of Kaos is the second solo studio album released by Wendy O. Williams after her group, the Plasmatics, went on hiatus. The album was recorded in 1984 but not released until 1986. A live version of the Gene Simmons-penned “Ain’t None of Your Business” appears on this album (the song previously appeared on her debut album).

The album has been re-released by several independent labels in recent years (such as WendyOWilliams02Plasmatics Media and Powerage). (by wikipedia)

Although best known as the death-defying leader of the Plasmatics, Wendy O. Williams issued several albums on her own during the 1980s. And while her earlier band was a certified punk outfit, by this stage of her career, Williams was zeroing in on the heavy metal audience — Gene Simmons had produced an earlier album, while the singer was spotted hosting a heavy metal video show on the USA cable channel. So by the time of 1986’s Kommander of Kaos, Williams was knee-deep in metal. Once more, Simmons’ name makes an appearance on a Williams record (not as a producer this time, but as a songwriter — “Ain’t None of Your Business”), while Williams covers Motörhead’s “Jailbait,” and the main riff of the album’s opening “Hey Hey (Live to Rock)” is quite reminiscent of Mötley Crüe’s “Live Wire.” While Kommander of Kaos was probably just as good as just about anything else that theatrical-minded metallists were putting out that year (W.A.S.P., Lizzy Borden, etc.), Williams was much more convincing as a Mohawk-ed punker. (by Greg Prato)

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Personnel:
Wes Beech (guitar)
Michael Ray (guitar, background vocals)
Greg Smith (bass, background vocals)
T.C. Tolliver (drums)
Wendy O. Williams (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Hoy Hey (Live To Rock) (Ray/Swenson) 3.47
02. Pedal To The Metal (Ray/Smith/Swenson) 3.29
03. Goin’ Wild (Ray/Swenson) 4.13
04. Ain’t None Of Your Business (live) (Simmons/Carr/Vincent) 5.36
05. Party (Beech/Swenson) 3.38
06. Jailbait (Kilmister/Taylor/Clarke) 3.25
07. Bad Girl (Bunyard/Beech/Swenson) 3.36
08. Fight For The Right (Ray/Swenson) 3.11
09. (Work That Muscle) F*ck That Booty (Ray/Swenson) 3.31

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Wendy Orlean Williams (28 May 1949 – 6 April 1998)

Cause of death‎: ‎Suicide by gunshot

Her suicide note regarding her decision:

I don’t believe that people should take their own lives without deep and thoughtful reflection over a considerable period of time. I do believe strongly, however, that the right to do so is one of the most fundamental rights that anyone in a free society should have. For me, much of the world makes no sense, but my feelings about what I am doing ring loud and clear to an inner ear and a place where there is no self, only calm.