[From The Cutting Room Floor]: Eric Andersen, The Smiths and Bob Marley & The Wailers.

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Often, seeking out new music can feel like a treasure hunt (or sweeping a minefield, depending on how you look at it). And every now and then you will come across those completely unexpected diamonds-in-the-rough that appear in the form of B-sides, outtakes or bootlegged live cuts. Those happy moments where you stumble across something that stops you in your tracks and think ‘Why is this only a B-side?’. This feature is about digging out those deeper cuts that deserve more attention than mere relegation.

‘Close The Door Lightly When You Go’ – Eric Andersen
If the mark of an artist is the company they keep then Eric Andersen can be ranked up there with the best of them, having rubbed shoulders with Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Joan Baez, The Band, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Andy Warhol and William Burroughs to name but a few. While Andersen has not shared as much of the limelight as his Greenwich Village folk scene contemporaries, his vivid songwriting about love in all its expressions has influenced and been covered by countless artists in the singer-songwriter tradition and in 2003 he was awarded the Premio Tenco for outstanding songwriting, an award previously won by Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave (again, the company you keep). While later versions of ‘Close The Door Lightly When You Go’ have gathered a more upbeat pace, none of them have the same raw sense of self-loathing and loneliness as the original found on Andersen’s second album ‘Bout Changes ‘n’ Things. A documentary taking in Andersen’s ongoing fifty-plus year journey as an artist entitled The Songpoet is slated for release later this year.

‘Back To The Old House’ – The Smiths
Morrissey is set to release his tenth solo album World Peace Is None Of Your Business in July (announced by way of a tongue-in-cheek music video), and while he tends to divide opinion like Moses parts large bodies of water you’d be hard-pressed to deny the emotional weight he lends to this stripped down version of ‘Back To The Old House’ lifted from a John Peel session in 1983. Nostalgia drips from Johnny Marr’s honeyed arpeggios, complementing the forlorn quality in Morrissey’s tenor and the palpable ambivalence conveyed through understated images in lines such as “When you cycled by, here began all my dreams, the saddest thing I’ve ever seen”.

‘High Tide Or Low Tide’ – Bob Marley And The Wailers
Replete with sultry rhythms from the Barrett brothers and beautiful harmonies from Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, ‘High Tide Or Low Tide’ makes perfect listening for the nights drawing longer. It was recorded during the sessions for The Wailers’ Island debut, Catch A Fire, which would begin Bob Marley’s meteoric rise to become the Third World’s first superstar, but didn’t make the final tracklist. However, positioned alongside the social commentary of ‘Concrete Jungle’ and ‘Stop That Train’, this soulful ditty of solidarity and friendship shows the scope of Marley’s songwriting even at this early stage and it is this sense of peace and love he would infuse much of his music with throughout his career.

What are your favourite B-sides and rarities? Let me know in the comments below.

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[Sneak Peek]: Johnny Marr – ‘The Right Thing Right’

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‘Johnny’s in the basement mixing up the medicine…’

Tomorrow morning Johnny Marr’s long anticipated solo album, ‘The Messenger’, will land. Halle-bloody-lujah for that. Like Jack White’s solo release last year, the anticipation and hype surrounding the album has been huge. Not that there has been any real lack of Marr material since the break-up of that band. Whether adding some of his magic to various outfits such as Modest Mouse or Billy Bragg (credited as Duane Tremolo), lending a hand to soundtracks or fronting The Healers, Marr’s output over his career has been so prolific and varied that he puts much younger and more popular musicians to shame.

I’m a sucker for ‘Side One, Track One’ moments which set the tone for the album, and as the first track on Marr’s debut solo album, ‘The Right Thing Right’ is definitely a statement of intent. Marr’s in-yer-face guitar and the anthemic call-and-repeat chorus self-referentially gestures towards Britpop, a genre which he had a massive influence on. Meanwhile, there is the unmistakable beat and groove of Motown records that acted as the bonding impetus for the Marr/Morrisey songwriting partnership in the first place. Marr’s vocals, and the track in general, drips with Northern-English attitude and reinstates Marr’s reputation for soundtracking the North. Moving away from the Alt. Rock riffage, other tracks on The Messenger will apparently feature more of Marr’s psychedelic influences which I am definitely looking forward to. Even as recently as ‘The Last Ride‘, Marr’s flair for trippy guitar histrionics remains as exciting as ‘How Soon Is Now’ or ‘The Queen Is Dead’.

Like The Smiths’s music, you’ll either love it or hate it (Oh, the obvious Marr-mite pun!). However, if ‘The Right Thing Right’ is any indication, Marr’s decision to make his solo debut thirty years into his musical career is motivated out of inspiration rather than pandering to demand and The Messenger is set to be a barnstormer.

The Messenger will be released tomorrow and Johnny Marr will embark on a UK tour in March 2013.