Witchfinder General – Death Penalty (1982)

FrontCover1.jpgWitchfinder General was a heavy metal band from Stourbridge, England. They were part of the new wave of British heavy metal scene and have been cited as a major influence on the doom metal genre. They were named after the 1968 British horror film Witchfinder General.

Witchfinder General formed in 1979 by Zeeb Parkes & Phil Cope in Stourbridge, England, as part of the new wave of British heavy metal movement during the early 1980s. They were strongly influenced by Black Sabbath, and are widely recognised today as one of the pioneers of the doom metal style. The band’s importance became acknowledged mostly after they disbanded.

The band (minus vocalist & writer Zeeb Parkes) reformed in November 2006, with new vocalist Gary Martin. In 2007 the band released Buried Amongst the Ruins, a compilation CD featuring the “Burning a Sinner” single, the Soviet Invasion EP, and four live tracks including a live version of the unreleased track “Phantasmagorical”. Whilst stating they would not perform live again, the band released their third full-length album, entitled Resurrected, in 2008.

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Death Penalty is the debut studio album by British heavy metal band Witchfinder General. It was released in 1982 on Heavy Metal Records. The album received some criticism for the cover photograph, which featured topless model Joanne Latham. The photograph had been taken in the yard of St Mary the Blessed Virgin Church in Enville, Staffordshire, without the permission of the local Reverend. The album was originally released on LP and picture disc and was later reissued on CD. Pictured on the cover is Phil Cope, Zeeb Parkes, Graham Ditchfield and a member otheir road crew. While Peter Hinton is credited with producing this recording, the writers Phil Cope and Zeeb Parkes always felt the credit should have gone to the engineer Robin George. (by wikipedia)

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Unlike many of their New Wave of British Heavy Metal peers who injected their music with a certain punk attitude, Witchfinder General drank strictly from the Black Sabbath fountain. Their 1982 debut, Death Penalty, is a celebration of all things Sabbath — from the plodding rhythms of “Burning a Sinner” and “R.I.P.” to the early-Sabs intro of “No Stayer,” and even the band’s rocking “Paranoid” knock-off, “Free Country.” Singer Zeeb Parkes’ range is rather limited, but that never stopped Ozzy Osbourne, and his mostly satanic lyrics are especially amusing on the cryptic-sounding opener “Invisible Hate,” which eventually resorts to shouts of “more beer.” Despite similarly silly lyrics, the song that bears the band’s name is definitely the album’s highlight, thanks to its engagingly ferocious main riff. (by Eduardo Rivadavia)

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HeavPersonnel:
Phil Cope (guitar, bass (bass credited as Woolfy Trope)
Graham Ditchfield (drums)
Zeeb Parkes (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Invisible Hate 6.06
02. Free Country 3.11
03. Death Penalty 5.35
04. No Stayer 4.26
05. Witchfinder General 3.52
06. Burning A Sinner 3.29
07. R.I.P. 4.04

All songs written by Zeeb Parkes and Phil Cope

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A backcover like this is not really necessary !

Aretha Franklin – The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging (1962)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin is the third studio album by American singer Aretha Franklin, Released on August 13, 1962 by Columbia Records. It was her first album to achieve any commercial success, reaching #69 on the Billboard pop album charts. Unlike its predecessor, however, it did not have a hit single. The album was recorded at Columbia Recording Studios, 799 Seventh Avenue, New York.

“Aretha is a natural. No matter what she sings – new songs like Without the One You Love (which she herself wrote) and Don’t Cry, Baby or time-tested standards like Try a Little Tenderness and I Apologize – she is completely free, uninhibited and thrilling”, Billy James, said.

“…Every step of the way, Aretha has grown. She has developed strength, assurance and style. She can be tender and moving, and she can swing. But there are none of the phony “hup’s”, “hey’s” and “ho’s” that are used liberally by performers anxious to tell the world that they are swingers. Instead, Aretha uses something else: talent. In a word, is a natural.” (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Aretha Franklin (vocals)
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01. Don’t Cry, Baby (Bernie/Johnson/Unger) 3.24
02. Try A Little Tenderness (Campbell/Connelly/Woods) 3.17
03. I Apologize (Hoffman/Goodhart/Nelson) 2.54
04. Without The One You Love (Franklin) 2.49
05. Look For The Silver Lining (Kern/DeSylva) 3.05
06. I’m Sitting On Top Of The World (Henderson/Lewis/Young) 2.43
07. Just For A Thrill (Armstrong/Raye) 2.33
08. God Bless The Child (Holiday/Herzog, Jr.) 3.04
09. I’m Wandering (B.Gordy/Carlo) 3.27
10. How Deep Is The Ocean (Berlin) 2.49
11. I Don’t Know You Anymore (Geld/Udell) 2.50
12. Lover Come Back To Me (Romberg/Hammerstein II) 2.36

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Shirley Collins & The Albion Country Band – No Roses (1971)

LPFrontCover1No Roses is an album by Shirley Collins and the Albion Country Band. It was recorded at Sound Techniques, and Air Studios in London, in the summer of 1971. It was produced by Sandy Roberton and Ashley Hutchings (Shirley Collins’ husband at the time). It was released in October 1971 on the Pegasus label.

It is very unusual to have 27 musicians and singers on an album of traditional folk songs. It happened because people simply dropped in during recording sessions and were asked to join in. “The Murder of Maria Marten”, a lengthy song about the Red Barn Murder, is broken into segments, with parts of British folk rock alternating with more traditional parts featuring Shirley Collins’ voice and a hurdy-gurdy drone. Shirley Collins had used a similar technique on “One Night As I Lay on My Bed” on “Adieu to Old England”.

Some songs, for instance Poor Murdered Woman and Murder of Maria Marten, feature large parts of the Fairport Convention line-up of late 1969 (Liege and Lief). In fact, Fairport Convention member Ashley Hutchings appears on all, Simon Nicol and Richard Thompson on eight, and Dave Mattacks on three of the nine songs on this album.

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Claudy Banks includes a composed duo performance by Alan Cave on bassoon and British free jazz saxophonist Lol Coxhill – his only performance ever in the context of British folk music. Hal-An-Tow features members of the two acclaimed folk vocal groups The Watersons (Lal and Mike Waterson) and The Young Tradition (Royston Wood). Both drummer Roger Powell and pianist Ian Whiteman previously played together in the band Mighty Baby.

The album title No Roses are the last words of the first verse of the folk song The False Bride (I went down to the forest to gather fine flowers, but the forest won’t yield me no roses.), which Shirley Collins sang on her EP Heroes in Love in 1963. (by wikipedia)

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The labels from the Mooncrest edition

Shirley Collins’ collaboration with the Albion Country Band for No Roses is considered a major event in the history of British folk and British folk-rock. For it was the first time that Collins, roundly acknowledged as one of the best British traditional folk singers, sang with electric accompaniment, and indeed one of the first times that a British traditional folk musician had “gone electric” in the wake of Dave Swarbrick joining Fairport Convention and Martin Carthy joining Steeleye Span. The album itself doesn’t sound too radical, however. At times it sounds something like Fairport Convention with Shirley Collins on lead vocals, which is unsurprising given the presence of Ashley Hutchings on all cuts but one, and Richard Thompson and Simon Nicol on most of the selections (Dave Mattacks plays drums on a few tracks for good measure). The nine songs are almost wholly traditional tunes with Collins’ arrangements, with perhaps a jauntier and folkier mood than that heard in early-’70s Fairport, though not much. It’s more impressive for Collins’ always tasteful smoky vocals than for the imagination of the material, which consolidates the sound of the more traditional wing of early-’70s British folk-rock. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
Shirley Collins (vocals)
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Francis Baines (hurdy gurdy)
Dave Bland (concertin, hammer dulcimer)
Ashley Hutchings (bass)
Tim Renwick (guitar)
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Gregg Butler (brass)
Alan Cave (bassoon)
Dolly Collins (piano)
Lol Coxhill (saxophone)
Trevor Crozier (jew´s harp)
Barry Dransfield (fiddle)
Tony Hall (melodeon)
Nic Jones (vocals, fiddle)
John Kirkpatrick (accordion)
Alan Lumsden (bugle)
Dave Mattacks (drums, percussion)
Steve Migden (french horn)
Simon Nicol (guitar, bass, background vocals)
Roger Powell (drums)
Colin Ross (bagpipes)
Richard Thompson (guitar, background vocals)
Ian Whiteman (piano)
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background vocals:
Lal Waterson – Mike Waterson – Royston Wood – Maddy Prior – Barry Dransfield – Royston Wood

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Tracklist:
01. Claudy Banks (B. Copper/R. Copper) 4.37
02. The Little Gypsy Girl (Traditional) 2.16
03. Banks Of The Bann (Traditional) 3.39
04. Murder Of Maria Marten (Traditional) 7.24
05. Van Dieman’s Land (Traditional) 4.59
06. Just As The Tide Was A ‘Flowing (Traditional) 2.13
07. The White Hare (Traditional) 2.43
08. Hal-An-Tow (Traditional) 2.53
09. Poor Murdered Woman (Traditional) 4.26

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Mushi & Lakansyel – Koté Ou (1983)

SAMSUNGOnce upon a time, a musician named Gerald Merceron was Haiti’s most important music critic. Merceron had been a jazz critic for US and French publications, and had moved back to Haiti with a deep understanding. At his side, youngsters came to the their own, including a young man named Mushi Widmaier. Mushi played on Merceron’s little known avant-guard albums (and others) before launching the group Zekle on his own, and then a second, Mushi & Lakansyel. Zekle made history as popular music, Mushi & Lakansyel as art music.

Granit Records has reissued Mushi & Lakansyel’s one album “Kote Ou,” or “Where Are You,” first released in 1983. It’s an album of songs constructed as jazzlike enclaves of beauty and depth in a Haiti of violent politics, strife, of “dilere” (a woman left her husband / to live in a beautiful house / it’s where she got sick / god take her, o) as a classic rara sons titles itself to mean misery. Thus the names of the albums songs, like “Port Salut” or “Kalalou”: things that are phenomenal about Haiti. They, coupled with the name of the album, make it an intensely philosophical album, a proposition of truth.

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Lakansyel? I have no real idea, though I can say that lakansyel or rainbow is very important in Haitian Vodou. For one, the serpent and the rainbow are father and mother to this world. Secondly, the Boumba deities, the ones that Dessalines served, according to houngan Andre Basquiat, from the Congo, are rainbow deities, for serving Eskalye Boumba brings you to heaven.

“Kote Ou” is a brilliant album, one of the best that Haiti has to offer. It tells of Haitian beauty, blatantly. It asks of us to sit and feel, to make a wish. (by Adolf Alzuphar)

Mushi & Lakansyel recorded Koté Ou? in Haiti in 1983, marshalling the finest Hatian musicians for a set of unusual jazz and creole fusion. The music is smooth, cool, and distantly sad, and well worthy of rediscovery.

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Personnel:
Joe Charles (bass)
D.T. Richard (guitar)
Joël Widmaier (drums, percussion, vocals)
Mushi Widmaier (piano, synthesizer)
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Raoul Denis Jr. (synthesizer on 01.,02. + 04., cello on 02.)
Oswald Durand Jr. (flute on 07.)
Jacques Fatier (trumpet, saxophone on 04. + 06.)
Arius Joseph (perussion on 04.)
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Lyrics: Ralph Boncy

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Tracklist:
01. Port Salut (M.Widmaier) 7.15
02. Sab Lan Mé (M.Widmaier) 5.07
03. Distances (M.Widmaier) 8.19
04. Kalalou (M.Widmaier) 9.33
05. Tout S’En Va (M.Widmaier) 3.06
06. Saut Mathurine (Sylvain) 5.14
07. Koté Ou? (M.Widmaier) 5.03

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ZZ Top – Fandango (1975)

FrontCover1.jpgFandango! is the fourth album by the American blues rock band ZZ Top, released in 1975. Half the tracks are selections from live shows, the rest are new songs from the studio. A remastered and expanded edition of this album was released on February 28, 2006.

Fandango, from which the album gets its name, is a type of dance similar to flamenco.
Background

In the late 1980s a digitally remixed version of the recording was released on CD and the original 1975 mix version was discontinued. The remix version created controversy among fans because it significantly changed the sound of the instruments, especially drums. The remix version was used on all early CD copies and was the only version available for over 20 years. A remastered and expanded edition of the album was released on February 28, 2006, containing three bonus live tracks. The 2006 edition is the first CD version to use Terry Manning’s original 1975 mix. The album was re-released in 2009 on 180 gram vinyl using the original master tapes. It appears exactly the same except that it had a 180 gram vinyl LP sticker, by Back to Vinyl records.
Singles

The only single released from the album was “Tush”. The single peaked at #20 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it the band’s first top 40 single.

Tracks 1-3 (side A of the original LP) were recorded live at The Warehouse in New Orleans on April 12 1974, “captured as it came down-hot, spontaneous and presented to you honestly, without the assistance of studio gimmicks”. Tracks 4-9 (side B) were new studio recordings. (by wikipedia)

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Blessed with their first full-fledged hit album, ZZ Top followed it up with Fandango!, a record split between a side of live tracks and a side of new studio cuts. In a way, this might have made sense, since they were a kick-ass live band, and they do sound good here, but it’s hard not to see this as a bit of a wasted opportunity in retrospect. Why? Because the studio side is a worthy successor to the all-fine Tres Hombres, driven by “Tush” and “Heard It on the X,” two of their greatest songs that build on that album by consolidating their sound and amplifying their humor. If they had sustained this energy and quality throughout a full studio album, it would have been their greatest, but instead the mood is broken by the live cuts. Now, these are really good live cuts — and “Backdoor Medley” and “Jailhouse Rock” were fine interpretations, making familiar songs sound utterly comfortable in their signature sound — and Fandango! remains one of their better albums, but it’s hard not to think that it could have been even better. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Frank Beard (drums, percussion)
Billy Gibbons – guitar, vocals)
Dusty Hill (bass, keyboards, background vocals, vocals on 02., “Balinese”, and “Tush”, co-lead vocals on “Backdoor Medley” and “Heard It on the X”

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Tracklist:

Side one (live):
01. Thunderbird (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.10
02. Jailhouse Rock (Leiber/Stoller) 1.56
03. Backdoor Medley (9.25):
03.01. Backdoor Love Affair (Gibbons/Ham) 1.10
03.02. Mellow Down Easy (Dixon) 3.39
03.04. Backdoor Love Affair No. 2 (Gibbons) 2.05
03.04. Long Distance Boogie (Hooker) 2.32

Side two (in the studio):
04. Nasty Dogs And Funky Kings (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.45
05. Blue Jean Blues (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 4.45
06. Balinese (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.38
07. Mexican Blackbird (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 3.05
08. Heard It On The X (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.23
09. Tush (Gibbons/Hill/Beard) 2.16

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Doc Holliday – 25 Absolutely Live (2008)

FrontCover1Doc Holliday, named of course after legendary Wild West character, hails from Macon, Georgia and released couple classic southern rock albums in early 80’s. Although they never got the recognition they deserved in Unites States, Doc Holliday was a hugely successful in Europe. Early days of this southern rocks hidden gem can be traced to beginning of 70’s, when the band leader Bruce Brookshire formed a band called Roundhouse which would later transform into Doc Holliday. Although southern rock losing its momentum in early 80’s, with little help from Molly Hatchet management, they got signed by A&M records. With legendary line-up of Brookshire and Rick Skelton on guitars, John Samuelson on bass, Eddie Stone on keyboards and Herman Nixon on drums they released self titled debut album on early 1981 and managed to break into top #30 chats. Through relentless touring with groups like The Outlaws and The Charlie Daniels Band, Doc Holliday gained new fans and later that same year they put out Doc Holliday Rides Again which turned out to be even more successful album. Disaster strike in 1983, when Doc Holliday decided to record their third album, 80’s pop oriented Modern Medicine in Germany. It wasn’t the kind of medicine southern rock fans were looking for, it sold poorly and band broke up soon after that. After three year hiatus, Doc Holliday got their act together and released Danger Zone, more traditional approach to southern rock genre. Over the years they have released several albums for small European record labels, which are difficult to find from the States, but well worth hunting down for. Doc Holliday remains popular touring act in old continent, especially in Germany.

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Almost 20 years after the milestone that is “Song for the Outlaw Live” Doc Holliday came up with an impressive document of their versatility on stage. No edits, changes or overdubs were made by producer Tom Hallek, to make “25 – absolutely live” sound exactly that. (by zinhof)

20 years after releasing their first live album the gods of Southern Rock return with an honest album featuring their best songs and a few cover song including Fire On The Mountain” (Marshall Tucker Band), “Run For Your Life” (Beatles) and “Born To Be Wild” (Steppenwolf)

A hell of a show … long live Southern Rock !

Recorded “Absolutely live” in hot nights in Germany during July 2006.

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Personnel:
Bruce Brookshire (vocals, guitar)
Daniel Bud Ford (bass)
Danny Lastinger (drums)
John Turner Samuelson (guitar, vocals)
Eddie Stone (keyboards, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Ain’t No Fool (Brookshire) 6.02
02. Never Another Night (Brookshire/Samuelson) 4.10
03. Fire On The Mountain (McCorkle) 4.49
04. A Good Woman’s Hard To Find (Brookshire/Stone) 4.27
05. Southern Man (Brookshire) 4.35
06. Run For Your Life (Lennon/McCartney) 3.49
07. It Suits Me Too (Brookshire) 3.47
08. Highway Call (Brookshire) 7.40
09. Redneck Rock & Roll Band (Brookshire) 4.22′
10. I’m A Rocker (Berry) 4.44
11. Lonesome Guitar (Brookshire) 9.58
12, Born To Be Wild (Bonfire) 4.25

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Richard Ashcroft – Human Conditions (2002)

FrontCover1Human Conditions is the second album by English singer-songwriter, Richard Ashcroft. It was released on Hut Records in 2002.

Human Conditions received mixed reviews. Review aggregating website Metacritic reports a normalised score of 61% based on 15 reviews. Entertainment Weekly awarded the album an “A”. Some of the negative reviews, included Nick Southall of Stylus, who remarked that “Ashcroft obviously sees himself as some kind of incisive commentator with a greater depth of understanding of the human condition than those around him. This record reveals with alarming clarity that he is actually a poor songwriter, dire lyricist, and arrogant buffoon all at the same time.” Andrew Lynch of entertainment.ie gave the album two stars out of five, calling it “in the final analysis, quite unbelievably boring.” Rowan Shaeffer of Counterculture gave it three stars out of five and praised aspects of the album, though still feeling that “for the most part Richard Ashcroft seems be going through the motions; and while he’s produced a good album, it’s an ultimately unfulfilling listen.”

In 2003, when asked about the naysayers to the album, Ashcroft responded: “If I had put on fifteen stone and Kate had left me and I’d almost [overdosed] on smack, then this record would have been received very well”. In a 2006 interview with The Sun, Ashcroft said of the criticism: “I wouldn’t say I was massively affected. I didn’t feel the paranoia I felt when The Verve broke up.” (by wikipedia)

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Richard Ashcroft is a deeply inquisitive man, probably too much for his own good. His regimen of frequently questioning God and overanalyzing the theories of love naturally work for him, so the design of Human Conditions isn’t any different from what he’s done before. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. Human Conditions is, in a literal sense, Ashcroft’s sonic bible of beautifully crafted melodies and lyrical mysticism. The warm, honeyed tones of a hushing brass section and string arrangements set the mood on album-opener “Check the Meaning.” A battle of search and fight is realized almost immediately. God is female and Ashcroft’s lyrical character struggles with trust. Sweeping acoustic guitars drive the lilting paranoia of “Buy It in Bottles” and “God in the Numbers,” but the bluesy feel of “Bright Lights” is much more gritty. Ashcroft might be a bit preoccupied with finding a good life, but who isn’t? He’s playful in presentation and actually pretty sweet when it comes to delivering a pop hook. “Nature Is the Law,” which features harmonies from Beach Boy Brian Wilson, is a testament of that. Whereas Alone With Everybody was lush in emotion but musically over-produced, Human Conditions stays within the boundaries. It’s a decent second album and longtime Verve enthusiasts should leave it at that. (by MacKenzie Wilson)

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Personnel:
Richard Ashcroft (vocals, guitar, percussion, bass, Piano, keyboards)
Martyn Campbell (bass)
Matt Clifford (wurlitzer)
Jim Hunt (flute, saxophone)
Chuck Leavell (keyboards)
Kate Radley (keyboards)
Richard Robson (programming)
Peter Salisbury (drums)
Steve Sidelnyk (drum programming)
Talvin Singh (percussion)
Craig Wagstaff (percussion)
Brian Wilson (background vocals)
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The London Session Orchestra conducted by Will Malone
London Community Gospel Choir conducted by Brian Wilson

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Tracklist:
01. Check The Meaning 8.04
02. Buy It In Bottles 4.39
03. Bright Lights 5.15
04. Paradise 5.37
05. God In The Numbers 6.58
06. Science Of Silence 4.15
07. Man On A Mission 5.29
08. Running Away 4.16
09. Lord I’ve Been Trying 5.23
10. Nature Is The Law 4.55

All songs written by Richard Ashcroft

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