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Porcupine Tree - Recordings CD (album) cover


Porcupine Tree

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4 stars B Side music has always presented an opportunity for some bands to try soemething more experimental and this is certainly true of PORCUPINE TREE. Recordings draws mostly on B-sides from both albums "Lightbulb Sun" and "Stupid Dream" with a couple of amazing new tracks tossed in. IMHO the 1st new track on this album ("Buying New Soul" makes the whole purchase worth while even if you own all the treasured singles. This CD comes as a Limited Edition numbered copied package with minimal literature. Recordings also contains the full 14 Min version of "Even Less" and the full version of "Cure For Optimism". My favourite PT single is a track called "In Formaldehyde" and this also is included. The whole CD is nothing short of amazing and PT fans will simply need to own it. Excellent music for your mind.
Report this review (#9648)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars You don't get the feeling that its left-over material at all on this album. Though not as strong as a regular album, still a very good listen. Buying New Soul and Disappear alone makes this a must-listen. And the full-lenght version of Even Less rocks.
Report this review (#9649)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Recordings" is to good an album to be limited. It's a shame really. This is certainly one of the absolute best Porcupine Tree albums. So many great songs, like Disappear and Even Less. I actually praise myself lucky for owning the album. This will be a collectors item if it remains at 20,000 pressings.
Report this review (#9650)
Posted Friday, April 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars B-Sides collections in any form always fill me with dread. B-Sides alone are usually good, but bundled together they often sound out of place and untidy. Porcupine Tree have tried their best to make this into an 'album' of sorts, and it has many good features. 'Buying New Soul' builds into a subtle 10+ minute masterpiece, Dissapear is a gem that would have graced any of their recent albums, and the 13+ minute version of Even Less sounds a bit strange at first (compared to the original) but actually works very well. The rest of the songs are good, without being spectacular. Effort has clearly been made to structure the song order to make it seem like an album, but compared to Stupid Dream & Lightbulb Sun (the albums that the b-sides were taken from) it doesn't quite maintain the high standard. That said, there is plenty of quality here and a wide range of stylistic experimentation that will keep the fans happy and may interest a few neutrals. Porcupine Tree are a band of undoubted skill and pedigree, and the quality of their b-sides only goes to further justify that claim.
Report this review (#9651)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Just a minute - this is the out-takes and unwanted stuff? Then why on earth is it better than the source?

You'll see from my reviews elsewhere that I was not too impressed with Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun, so PT go and release a collection of out-takes and I was sceptical... but I've been listening to PT for some time now, and I think I know how it works - they hide the best bits for the serious fans. Its that or Lightbulb Sun and Recordings got the labels mixed up.

This album - and it is a coherent album despite its origins - is simply awesome. As has been said before, it's worth getting just to hear Buying New Soul. But to have the 13 minute version of Even Less - which blows the Stupid Dream version into the weeds - makes it a must have. Everything else is fantastic, and even the last track, the mellow Oceans Have No Memory, is perfectly placed to allow you to come down gradually from the climax of Even Less.

Confidence restored - PT are still the greatest curent group out there!

Report this review (#9652)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree is a very prolific outfit. The B-sides collected here, are all outstanding material and hold up to anything on the regular albums. Not only that, but the songs all work well together, making the album as cohesive as any PT album. They could have released this as a regular album and nobody would have been the wiser. Highly recommended!
Report this review (#9654)
Posted Wednesday, July 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars (MY FAVORITE TRACK ON THIS ALBUM.) Track 01 - BUYING NEW SOUL. I immediately owe much homage for the establishment of this record because very rarely do I devote myself to the first song over any of the other tracks; however, for this particular scrap, the opening track blows the other eight plainly out of the water. Not only did the acoustic guitar prelude and keyboard sequences get me, but Wilson's opening lyrics, "Dried up, a guitar upon my knee," filled me with such a strong concept for water and the sound of waves crashing against serrated rocks, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Sure, I'm ultimately biased, but my strong adoration for this group notwithstanding, even you, as both the reader and the listener, can't argue that this song doesn't have a substantial design. It's just, there isn't any embellishment whatsoever: it's just a straightforward, true piece of music Steven Wilson wrote to convey the poignant viewpoint of the sea, or from what I read into it. This is in no way fact, only a poor man's opinion on such a song. The gravity in his voice, the insipid brogue, enthralled me. I suppose, though, the chorus would have to be the best: its rising strike, the rhythm sliding off each other with each progressing word, oh, man, I could hardly comprehend how the band could decide this song was worth the first slot, because it usually is settled to put the most appealing piece up first, which "Buying New Soul" isn't, not in the least; it's appealing, yes, but not to everyone. Only the significant few can really appreciate it for what it is, the rest merely brush it off as enthusiastic incoherence from the songwriter who has no idea what he (or she) is even writing. I'd expect something like the full version of Even Less to be put first, mainly because the original was first on Porcupine Tree's Stupid Dream release, back in '98.

Regardless, I'm pleased they put this one first.

Track 02 - ACCESS DENIED. A friend of mine and I have time after time agreed this track must've been influenced by a song from The Beatles, our reasoning made palpable. Although it's no "Russia on Ice," "Intermediate Jesus," or "Hatesong," this song has rudiments only Porcupine Tree could assemble, and you can tell right off they had fun recording this song.

Track 03 - CURE FOR OPTIMISM. Every album needs a seemingly ominous song nobody understands but the gentlemen who shaped it, a piece that when listened to in utter darkness, worlds of diverse interpretations rush to the head, causing a vertical beam brightly burst and disintegrate into the memory lapse, one's mind, leaving a calm serenity vastly liquefying a dead scalp until the sun melts away a sigh. . . . this track is awesome.

Track 04 - UNTITLED. Although complex and relatively salient, it would take me hours to dissect this song, and I truly don't have that much time. Therefore, I enjoyed this song more than "Ambulance Chasing," but not as much as "Oceans Have no Memory," which so far, is my favorite Porcupine Tree instrumental piece of music - it's just too bloody short.

Track 05 - DISAPPEAR. This is one of many Porcupine Tree semi-ballads that make you think, as well enjoy the musical consequence of such, whilst not really understanding the core within our fragile and tedious psyche. (Instead of proper analysis, I'm filling these furuncles with a sense of poetic instinct and perception - it's all I can collect for now.)

Track 06 - AMBULANCE CHASING. This one, I think, has the best drumming throughout the album, and for such I have to give thanks to Chris Maitland. If truth be told, it kind of reminded me of one of Tool's songs, like "Reflection," probably; in fact, until Maitland embraced his cymbals, and the keyboards really went metrical, this entire song reminded me of something I'd hear from Tool.

Track 07 - IN FORMALDEHYDE. Not only does this title say all I need to perceive what kind of track this is going to be, but Wilson's child-like choral disposition presented this song as both sweet and quaint.

Track 08 - EVEN LESS (EXTENDED VERSION). This extended version is loads better than the original, not only because it's longer but because its lengthy parts really provide an extra scent not sensed before.

Track 09 - OCEANS HAVE NO MEMORY. Although too short, this is my favorite instrumental song by this group. I could go into detail of why, but that takes the time I do not have to spare at the moment, so either take my advice and really give this recording a chance, or don't; it's really up to you.

(And you may be asking yourself why I bother writing short reviews rather than wait for when I can really delve into an album and conjure up a full-viewed review, and that's a really good question. But if I really need to provide you with something long, dull, and no doubt full of wordy excrement, then I don't see the point in writing one at all. Sure, I enjoy writing lengthened reviews, but my shorts ones are sufficient for both kinds of readers: the short attention span reader, and the dedicated loyalist who is willing to read rambling paragraphs about music hardly comprehensive to the common man, at least without the same sarcastic wit few seem to carry. . . get it?)

Report this review (#37687)
Posted Saturday, June 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yes I'm giving it 5 stars and there b-side song thats got to make alot of bands feel like crap. Recoredings was a great idea and I hope they come out with another one, this album is all the song on all the singles from the stupid dream album and lightbulb sun. Every song is great. MY FAVORITE SONGS: -Buying new soul is my favorite song on this album, Richared really bilds the song up and I think colin plays a double bass. chris has a drumming freak out tords the end of the song. stevens words are amazing, the songs about selling your soul for fame, it's really outstanding.-access deined is a very beatley track that proubly didn't make it on lightbulb sun because of ''how was your life today'' I like this side of tree very much. -cure for optimism really grow on me at first I wasn't sure. The piano sells the song and of course the words you have to have stevens words.-untitled very talinted song it was recorted on the spot, my favorite part of this song is stevens guitar solo.-even less the long vorsion of even less that is why better then the one they put on stupid dream, ''the more music the better'' this virsion has a heavy jam out with great drumming, theres more words incluting a f-bomb by steven. this abum won't let you down but good luck finding it, I payed 50 dollars for it on ebay... it was wirth every pennie.
Report this review (#45870)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2005 | Review Permalink

Q:how can the best song of a band be a B-side filler? A:if it's written by Mr. Wilson...

'Buying New Soul' is the most beautiful song of the album by far...but i wouldn't give it 5 stars just for that...all songs are great...

sadly, this is Maitland's last recording with the band...we'll miss you, pal..

the irony is that right after Lightbulb Sun was released, PT released three (Voyage 34, Metanoia, Recordings) side LPs, all better, IMHO than Lightbulb Sun..

Report this review (#85723)
Posted Friday, August 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I was lucky enough to have just gotten into Porcupine Tree when this album came out. Lucky because of it's low print run. Lucky because I feel it's the last album by the guys to contain superior prog/space rock. Two long songs almost bookcase this album of highmark B-sides. "Buying New Soul" with the Tree's patented soft to hard spaciness and "Even Less" which starts off with a child's laughter then Wilson's razor-sharp guitar kicks off the tune. Both songs are very well sung and make the album a must-have, especially for fans. A few songs drag it down a tad, "Access Denied" with it's Beatle-like sound and "Cure For Optimism" with it's ambient laidbackness. Things pick up with "Ambulance Chasing" which returns the spaciness instrumentally and "In Formaldehyde" with a bit of psych rock vocals and Wilson's dreamy guitar. All songs are enormously catchy with absolutely crystal clear sound. I would rank this album as high as the albums surrounding it. Very well done indeed!
Report this review (#91676)
Posted Sunday, September 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I echo the sentiments of most of the people here...This is B-side album??? I actually prefer this to Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun, it's that good...The track sequence seems to be set up like a regular album...I am a bigger fan of their earlier work [though the newer stuff is great in it's own way], the instrumental tracks and instrumental passages harken back to some of the best 'ambient' stuff S. Wilson has ever written...An essential addition to all Porcupine Tree fan's collections, as well as others on the fringe of fandom [if you can find it]...
Report this review (#95659)
Posted Wednesday, October 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars RECORDINGS is a remarkable album! This album came about from songs that supposedly weren't good enough to fit on STUPID DREAM or LIGHTBULB SUN. Maybe that's why there was only a limited run of 20,000 copies of this album, because it were "just B-sides". RIGHT!

Fact is that this album is so good that other bands could only dream about making it. How did they pull this off?! Some people say that if you had bought all their singles and EP's in this era you wouldn't need to bother buying RECORDINGS, since you would already have all the tracks, but I disagree.

The track listing of this album is remarkable and to me the album as a whole is even that good that I would definitely take it with me to a deserted island if I could only bring 10 albums with me. And if I could only bring 1 this would probably be it! To me this is my favourite PORCUPINE TREE album, maybe even my all time favourite album.

Highlights of this album: BUYING NEW SOUL, this song is about selling your soul to the devil (maybe that's how Steven Wilson and band got up with such an excellent album?) and buying new soul at the start of every year. AMBULANCE CHASING and the full length version of EVEN LESS. Especially the drum part after 7 minutes or so (at the point where the short version ends) is astonishing.

Once again: this is my favourite PT album! Hence: 5 stars well deserved!

Report this review (#99852)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | Review Permalink

This is a collection of 'out-takes' and re-worked songs from LIGHTBULB SUN and STUPID DREAM. The tracks also known as B-sides are usually rare, alternative versions or even regular ones originally supposed to be part of the album but didn't make it for many different reasons and doesn't necessarily mean that they are inferior or unwanted songs, actually sometimes happens that we find better versions on these releases than on the original source, and IMO, this is one of those cases.

No meaning that I don't like the tracks on SD and LS, as a matter of fact I love both, but I think as many reviewers that "Buying New Soul" is as good as or even better than some songs on the mentioned albums, and we've seen it become a real classic when PT is on stage. Also I like more the longer version of "Even Less" included here than the 7 minute one on STUPID DREAM.

And what to say about the other songs on the CD, I can't find one that I don't like but I would highlight "Cure For Optimism" a great mellow acoustic track that could perfectly fit in SIGNIFY. "Untitled" is an excellent instrumental space track in the typical PT sound, atmospheric and hypnotic, and "Ambulance Chasing" with a great job by Maitland and Edwin on the rhythm and the stunning guitar of Mr. Wilson all over the place.

This is an essential album to have in your collection and specially if you are a PT follower (if you can find it because is a limited edition), and if you are unfamiliar to the band, this compilation can give you an excellent general outlook of the band. Good luck.

5 full stars.

Viva el Prog!

Report this review (#133211)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
4 stars Porcupine Tree - Recordings

Can you believe this? These are 'mere' b-sides?! I always knew Porcupine Tree was a b-sides production facility, but this compilation is of the same high qualitative standard as their critically acclaimed "Lightbulb Sun" and "Stupid Dream" albums!!

Most of the songs included here have not been re-released in any sort of way since 2001 and many people, including myself, are hoping that this currently out of print release will be re-issued as a sort of bonus disc to the re-issue of its currently also out of print companion piece "Lightbulb Sun".

With the exception of the lengthened version of the "Stupid Dream" song Even less, the songs included here are all new creations. These songs are heavily rooted in psychedelic music with the aspect more on creating a dreamy atmosphere with these songs, than desperately trying to rock out; a side of the band that we've grown to see more often as the years went (Not trying to sound to negative about the heavier side of the band, I just happen to like their more ambient side as much as their metal side).

If you are a listener of (Porcupine Tree's) music who, like I, likes his music rather dreamlike, with a certain amount of improvisation and a solid composition, than you'll find this album highly satisfactionary!

Report this review (#133384)
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Finally I got it!!! I have to say that I'm always been attracted by PT, but only in the last 2-3 years I finally get complete familiarity with the complete PT discography, and only lately I was able to find this compilation. Let me say that I find it really fantastic!!!

We start this long and comfortable voyage with the outstanding beauty of "Buying New Soul", which IMO reflects and contains a lot of the elements that PT's music has dimostrated from begin to this moment. We can find spacey keyboards, sweet and warm acoustic guitars and the classic and well-known Wilson's voice.

"Access Denied", at the begin remind me a little of "Piano Lessons", and it's a catchy and funny song intro. From there to the end the alternative two way, funny and introspective sides of the song, enrich this little treasure.

"Cure For Optimism" it's definitive another great psychedelic song in the vein PT has always loved to make.

The cello sound at the beginning of "Untitled", it's IMO one of the most intense moment in the PT discography. The rest of the song is simply a mastepiece. Maitland drumming it's really fantastic and it's very involving. At last the Wilson's soloing make you rest without breath. And you slowly begin again to breath with the last superbe notes.

"Disappear" it's a good acoustic song, that was a prelude to what we could listen to the album "IN ABSENTIA" with the fantastic "Trains".

The tribal atmosphere you encounter with "Ambulance Chasing" it's something you can't expect but you're very pleased to. After this second great drumming moment by Mr. Maitland, the song turn into a more deep and profound ambient in which you can't have nothing else to do than enjoy the emotions that Mr. Wilson gentle offers to you with his guitar. You risk to enter in a deep spiral drag by the powerful Mr. Edwin!!!

After the great song we've just listen, "In Formaldehyde" risk to make us remain in front of it. This song it's a really good song, even if can't really have any possibilities with the powerfull emotions we had with the previous songs.

I always loved the song "Even Less", from the first moment I listen to "Stupid Dream" and in this new and longer version I possibly love it more and more.

The last track "Oceans Have No Memory" is a sweet and melancholy song that give a good end to a really exciting album.

At the end, this album it's IMO a real masterpiece in the PT discography. We cannot consider this like a collection of B-side, but a real greta PORCUPINE TREE album. An essential for PT fan and a great addition to any collection of good music!!!

Report this review (#133599)
Posted Saturday, August 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I wished all the left-overs or b-sides would sound like these ! Because this is what this compilation is all about. Not a compil of their best songs; just a collection of some forgotten songs from their last two album sessions.

There is one outstanding track feature in here. The long opening number "Buying New Soul". One of the great "PT" songs IMO. How comes that this one never got more exposure is quite difficult to determine. By far the highlight of this album. Beautiful melody, tranquil song for most of it but a fantastic guitar solo (but short) also illuminates it.

I also like the smooth mood of "Cure For Optimism". Actually, one would have thought of a more dynamic approach with such a title. But it is kind of depressing. Acoustic and soft guitar backed up with beautiful keys which is fine but the whole is rather depressive than optimistic I would say...Strange title (or was it on purpose) ?

It is a pity that the band did not come up with a title for "Untitled" because this song should have deserved it (anyway it holds a title since it is called "Untitled"...). This is an extremely quiet song (some sort of "Moonloop") in the first half; and it catches up a bit to offer some beautiful musical moment. Another nice voyage. Ambient, peaceful and so relaxing.

"Ambulance Chasing" is brought to life after two minutes. Finally ! A great classic "PT" song with crying guitar, heavier rhythm and very catchy meldody. Another one of my fave.

"Even Less" should have been titled "Even More" since it has doubled in lenght in comparison with the studio version. A bit too much extended to be honest.

There will of course also be true "B-sides" standards songs like the childisch and old fashioned "Access Denied".Really sounds as the early days "Floyd" (but also more on their "B-side" releases if you see what I mean). "Disappear" is to be ranked into this category as welll. Even if its crescendo structure should appeal me, it does not overwhelm me. Just average. Like the melancholic "In Formaldehyde" which is only saved by a wonderful guitar solo at the end of the song. Very emotional. The contrary of "Oceans Have No Memory" which closes the album in a rather dull way.

This album shows "PT" smooth part, not their harder one. But I admit that I like it. I do not consider this as a masterpiece but as a good album. Three stars. On par with the official released material.

Report this review (#141083)
Posted Saturday, September 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Out-takes never sounded so good.

Honestly, nearly all of the content here is good enough to be considered "album worthy" in its own right-- with the epic "Buying a New Soul" (sometimes even performed live) stealing the show. Similar in tone and style to "Even Less", it must have been a difficult decision which song to keep for the final album; it has a haunting tone and tremendous guitar work.

All of the songs fit nicely into the "Even Less"/"Lightbulb Sun" era of the band, in regards to their style and mood, with very melancholy lyrics and vocal deliveries from Wilson. The instrumental songs stand-out as the most enjoyable for me though, and give us sounds missing from the studio albums.

Tracking this one down might take some work, but I highly recommend doing so; it won't disappoint.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#149484)
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Simply gorgeous offering from PORCUPINE TREE. Not classified as a 'proper' album as the material it contains is made up of B-sides, discards and extended versions. Nevertheless, it contains some of the best music PORCUPINE TREE have made.

Part of the reason for such high acclaim for this album is its relative progginess. Many of the tracks were written and recorded during the 'Lightbulb Sun' sessions but didn't make it on to that album due to their length or their atmospherics. Shame, that. 'Lightbulb Sun' would have been an immeasurably better album with the addition of three or four of these tracks and the culling of five or so of those included. Of the two records, I prefer this.

'Buying New Soul' is quite possibly the best thing PORCUPINE TREE have ever done. The gentle keyboard intro/outro brackets a spectacular ballad, featuring typical PT vocal harmonies, thoughtful lyrics and a stellar instrumental section. This is slow and spacey, a true hybrid of the band's first and second incarnations. The music has room to develop, to breathe. It may not sell as many units, but it's ultimately very satisfying. The evidence suggests that in this period WILSON writes better music outside his self-imposed album restrictions.

'Access Denied' starts off like a chirpy British pop tune but develops into something stronger and more wistful. It's another of the tracks that would have done well on 'Lightbulb Sun'. 'Cure For Optimism' returns to the space rock sound, pleasant enough without being outstanding. 'Untitled' furthers the sound, with it's 'No Quarter'-like beginning gradually morphing into an extended instrumental guitar/synth workout of almost the quality of 'Up The Downstair' or 'The Sky Moves Sideways'. It is followed by the poignant 'Disappear', a simple ballad with beautiful, pathos-soaked lyrics, another worthy inclusion on 'Lightbulb Sun'. 'Ambulance Chasing' thunders in with two minutes of heavy percussion a precursor to a spangly guitar and another instrumental build. Yet another splendid track. 'In Formaldehyde' is on a par with some of the 'Lightbulb Sun' tracks that could stand to be replaced, but is excellent for all that.

Then there's the extended version of 'Even Less', a hold-over from 'Stupid Dream'. This is an improvement on an already specacular track, though at 14 minutes there will be some who feel it overdone. I love the shape of it: the first six minutes as previously recorded, then a quieter middle section building to a reprise. 'Oceans Have No Memory' is a dispensable 'Albatross' clone.

There are a number of five-star tracks here, but it's not quite a five-star album. These tracks would have been even more enjoyable in their proper context: as part of an 'official' album release. Now that would have garnered five stars, no doubt. Just as well we can put our own playlists together.

Report this review (#152971)
Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Rejects which are better than many bands best!

"Recordings" cannot simply be dismissed as one of those collections which gathers together outtakes, and alternative versions of tracks, which were intended to be left behind in the studio. This is a carefully crafted collection of new songs, single B sides, and an extended version of an old favourite. The songs date from the period when the band recorded two of their most popular albums, "Stupid dream" and "Lightbulb sun".

The album opens with a real gem. "Buying new soul" is a previously unreleased 10+ minute epic. Initially, the track has a slightly understated feel, being acoustically based with a harmonic chorus. As the piece develops, we are taken through a delightful sequence ranging from the delicate to the chaotic.

"Access denied" was presented in demo form during the "Lightbulb sun" sessions, but was not taken forward for that album. The version here is the finished article, recorded in late 2000. The track opens with a Beatles like piano and distorted vocal, the track having a jaunty, Stackridge type feel. It is not really typical Porcupine Tree at all.

The next five tracks have all appeared as singles B sides. Together they demonstrate that it really is necessary to acquire virtually everything Porcupine Tree release in order to be sure of not missing anything. Of these tracks, "In formaldehyde" is probably the most striking, being a relatively soft number with superb guitar work. "Untitled" is a dreamy improvisation which has more in common with the band's early days. It could easily have made a good instrumental core to a longer track. Steve's guitar work in the latter half of the track has hints of Steve Hackett's on "Firth of fifth". "Ambulance chasing" shows a slightly more jazz orientated side to the band, accentuated by the appearance of guest saxophonist Theo Travis.

All this leads up to a truly awesome 14 minute version of "Even less". The first part of this opened the "Stupid dream" album, ending after around 6 minutes. If the track seemed complete then, the latter section (which had previously appeared in its own right as a the B side of a single) gives the track a stunning extra dimension.

The album closes with "Oceans have no memory", another track which was not taken beyond demo stage for the "Stupid dream" album, but which has now been brought to fruition. The track is a thinly veiled take on Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross".

In all, a collection which most other bands would be proud to release as a bona-fide album. "Buying new soul" and the full length "Even less" are essential for anyone who appreciates the music of this fine band.

Report this review (#155392)
Posted Friday, December 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Porcupine Tree - Recordings 4 stars

I wish there was a thing called c-sides 

A beautiful set of songs that were not taken into consideration for being part of 'Stupid Dream' or 'Lightbulb Sun', these B-side tracks are better then what most bands can do in their 'best of.' collections. Some of the obvious main highlights is the opening track 'Buying New Soul' that could be considered the best song Porcupine Tree has ever made. The other would be the full blow-out version of 'Even Less'. All of the songs except for maybe the track called 'untitled' can hit the listener in a variety of ways, they all seem to make it home to me eventually, making me come to like them. Most of the songs besides the 3 aforementioned ones are pretty short in composition, mostly laid back acoustic tracks. Others to note would be the nice psychedelic track that turned into a hard rock groove that is 'Ambulance Chasing' and the near post-rockish ambient piece, 'Oceans Have No Memory'.

This is excellent for a compilation of b-side tracks.

Report this review (#165453)
Posted Monday, March 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars First of all thankyou Martijn (evenless) for allowing me to finally listen to this album. I've been lusting after this one for so long. Consider that "Lightbulb Sun" and "Stupid Dream" both have over 200 ratings on this site while this record which many consider even better than those two has only 58 ratings.This badly needs to be re-issued Mr. Wilson. Six of the tracks on this album were recorded during either the "Lightbulb Sun" or "Stupid Dream" sessions but didn't make the cut. "Even Less" made the cut on "Stupid Dream" but this 14 minute version of it did not, just the first half. "Buying A New Soul" and "Access Denied" aren't from either sesion but are new tracks. I agree with Bonnek who suggested to me that "Recordings" has that space vibe from their earlier albums that "Stupid Dream" and "Lightbulb Sun" have little of. And that's what makes this so good. If your a fan of "Signify", "Up The Downstair" or "The Sky Moves Sideways" to a lesser extent, then this will appeal to you.

I first heard "Buying A New Soul" when I purchased a special edition of "Lightbulb Sun" years ago which came with a second disc but with only three tracks on it, one of which was this gem. This is one of the best PT tracks i've ever heard. The lyrics, atmosphere and especially the chorus are all so impressive. It turns chaotic after 4 1/2 minutes with some great drumming from Chris Maitland. Hey there's even some cello early on in this version. "I still wave at the dots on the shore, and I still beat my head against the wall, I still rage and wage my little war, i'm ashamed and easy to ignore". "Acess Denied" is the only track that bugs me somewhat because of that BEATLES flavour. It's contrasted though with a better laid back soundscape throughout. "Cure For Optimism" is a great title. This is from the "Lightbulb Sun" sessions and appeared on the "Shesmovedon" single. It's somewhat haunting early with lots of atmosphere. Strummed guitar before 2 minutes as the mood changes. Keyboards then vocals join in. This is so moving for me. Love the mellotron. It ends as it began. Amazing tune. "Untitled" was from the "Lightbulb Sun" sessions as well and is in fact an early instrumental version of "Buying A New Soul". Much more atmosphere here and of course no chorus. Quite spacey, and it would have fit well on "Up The Downstair". Incredible sounding tune.

"Disappear" is also from the "Lightbulb Sun" recordings. A mellow tune for the most part with strummed guitar and vocals standing out. I really like Barbieri's spacey keybaord work. It kicks in before 3 minutes before settling again. "Ambulance Chasing" is from the "Stupid Dream" sessions. Heavy drums to start then chunky bass and synths. It settles before 2 1/2 minutes to a better sound. Some organ as well. Guitar around 4 1/2 minutes. "In Formaldehyde" is from the "Lightbulb Sun" recordings and a fantstic tune, one of my favourites. I kept thinking of "I Drive The Hearse" from "The Incident". Lyrics like "When you get out of here you get to keep the car, and I get a plastic vase". Beautiful guitar intro as reserved vocals join in. A gorgeous sound. Great lyrics too. An emotional guitar solo after 3 1/2 minutes. A moving track. "Even Less" is the extended version here. It sort of drifts off after 6 minutes. Some killer guitar 9 minutes in goes on and on. Back to the original song around 11 minutes. "Oceans Have No Memory" is from the "Stupid Dream" sessions and reminds me of FLOYD. It's laid back and dreamy.

I want t give this 5 stars but am going to stay with 4.5 stars for now. I do like it better than "Lightbulb Sun" and "Stupid Dream" though.

Report this review (#263735)
Posted Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is an utter enigma, a clear-cut winner from Mr. Wilson yet completely overshadowed by the more famous pre and post studio albums. One of those 'unfinished raw recordings" from the musty vaults, featuring a bevy of unsliced, undiced and unpolished tapes that, upon closer inspection, had more prog in it than the "real" discs. That is something peculiar to Wilson, is that his live albums are deadly jewels of burning sapphire (Warszawa, Coma Divine), his other tables scraps (the challengingly spacey Metanoia) and his No-Man work, are truly exceptional. The previously unreleased but found on the later DVD , "Buying New Soul" is a voluptuous excursion into the psychedelically sublime, as intense as the great masters. a savage introductory pleasure . "Access Denied" sounds like avant Brit-Pop, a quirky juxtaposition of oblique melodies and deranged contrasts that emit an eerie sense of foreboding , very "out there' , hence not making the "Lightbulb Sun" final tally. Things get even more bizarroid with "Cure for Optimism", a narcotic dose of synthesized paranoia that broods nevertheless menacingly within the wind chime effects. The echoing resonation of the e-piano are shimmering as Steve sadly croons some still burning agony, floating mercilessly into a pool of morose despair. Unthinkingly majestic, this numbing caress is beyond mere words. A perfect pairing with the A side masterstroke "Shesmovedon". The extended "Untitled" is a gentle space rock jam fest where Barbieri is at his most Tim Blake, deliberately wispy and translucent synths and everything improvised live in a Welsh studio. The Ummagumma style fiasco is extremely hypnotic and gives leeway to the players to let their minds and their hands fly. Wilson has stated that his guitar style is really a perfect combination of Fripp and Gilmour, and here you can hear why! The bluesy leads are David, the textures and tones are pure Robert. A true solo for the ages, long, hard and deep, just how some ladies should like it. I recently made the claim that Space/Psychedelia is the best soundtrack for lovemaking and here is more proof. No wham-bam thank you ma'am 3 minute Ramones spurts for us proggers! "Disappear" is a short, lyric oriented ballad, dripping in misery and another tragic soul has gone to the heavens. "Ambulance Chasing" is another whopping surprise that never made the album grade ("Stupid Dream", here), a powerful charge into the mind that weaves in heavy piston percussion, deep organ swells and a few blasts of mellotron, like an early Peter Gabriel track (Edwin doing his Tony Levin schtick!), laying down a sulfurous groove on which the spacy guitar floats, wah-wah pedal hitting the polymer hard , unleashing a sizzling solo that rages on and on , a delirious sax volley from the amazing Theo Travis all combine to complement the compliments. Thrilling progressive of the highest caliber; and it only gets better from here on in. "In Formaldehyde" is another classic PT, with the once mentioned lyric about "the car and the vase" , a flowery excretion on a gloomy affair that soured unwillingly (those are the worse ones). A full blown, orchestra-abated, nearly 14 minute version of the magical PT anthem "Even Less" is alone worth the full purchase price. It's simply demented, just like when it's performed live, what a bloody thrill! I have three versions of this piece on my PC (the Stupid Dream studio, the Warszawa live and now this monster). Need I say more, a perfect song with perfect lyrics, everything just "parfait" , an outright classic. It also showcases Chris Maitland's considerable drumming skills . "Oceans Have No Memory" is another brief ditty that closes this coffer of unprocessed marvels that didn't pass first inspection. Steve was wise to release (for the fans) , this as its as good as anything in the entire catalogue. 4.5 cobwebs
Report this review (#272652)
Posted Wednesday, March 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars It's simply unfair how talented some people are. Recordings is a collection of B-sides and tracks discarded from the previous two albums Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun, yet it makes for an album that is a lot better then the bulk of regular studio albums out there.

The reason is that the material wasn't discarded for being inferior but simply because it didn't seem to fit in with the song oriented material of Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun. To a certain extent that is true, the songs here are decisively more atmospheric and progressive, but others would have blended in quite well and might even have improved both of the preceding albums.

Buying New Soul is the most beautiful song Wilson has ever penned. It's so delicate, emotional and sensitive. This song has everything: the confident songwriting of recent albums, the spacey feel of the early work and a striking emotional punch. It's arranged very subtly, with mainly melancholic keyboards, a jazzy contrabass and acoustic guitars. The rousing crescendo with wild percussion and electric guitars halfway in is gorgeous, as is the dreamy keyboard theme that opens and concludes the piece. 5 stars

After such a blast, Access Denied is a let-down. It's a short poppy tune similar to Three Chords That Made A Million and it sounds rather trite at first, but it takes a few unexpected twists that made me keep returning to it, and ultimately appreciating it as well. 3 stars

Cure For Optimism rivals Buying New Soul at melancholic beauty. It's similar to other spacey acoustic PT tracks such as Phantoms, Small Fish and Wake As Gun. And it owns all of them. 5 stars

Untitled is an extended improvisation somewhat similar to Moonloop and Intermediate Jesus. Colin Edwin's contrabass, Maitland's drumming, Barbieri's layers of atmosphere and Wilson's solo all work together seamlessly. How I regret that Porcupine Tree has let go of this type of creative freedom and improvisations in the music they've created since. No matter how much I like the heavy PT, it will never connect with me as much as the old stuff. I think this track could be described as post-rock, and it's easily amongst the best I've heard in that area. 5 stars

Disappear is a song that had been nagging Wilson since 96. Somehow he never found a way to create a version that fit on any of the albums. A 6.30 minute version of it used to be available from the PT website as a free download, the version here is abbreviated successfully, it flows wonderfully, and it would have fitted perfectly on Lightbulb Sun. 4 stars

Ambulance Chasing is another ambient rock instrumental, with tribal percussion and wide Floydian guitar chords. Another piece of guitar heaven for me. 5 stars

In Formaldehyde is a quiet and catchy ballad that could have been included on both of the preceding records. It's less poppy then the ballads that featured on Lightbulb Sun, which makes me prefer it to those. 4 stars

Even Less, extended with two instrumental parts of about 3 minutes each, and an extra verse and one repetition of the chorus. Not a minute too long and it has my preference over the original. 5 stars

Oceans is a short exit piece that reminds me slightly of Talk Talk latter day guitar broodings. A fitting ending that makes this release flow like a real album. 4 stars.

This is the best 'non-regular' PT release and every bit as essential to me as their earlier masterpieces. Highly recommended for fans of their earlier space-rock.

Report this review (#288056)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Recordings' - Porcupine Tree (8/10)

Leave it to Porcupine Tree to come out with a mere B-Sides compilation, which turns out to be a fantastic work in it's own right, and better than most official albums from lesser bands. All written and recorded during the sessions of 'Stupid Dream' and 'Lightbulb Sun,' these songs must not have been able to fit into the flow of those albums for some reason, because there is no lack of quality in these tracks. A couple of these 'forgotten' tracks even rank up there as being some of the band's brightest moments. While 'Recordings' may indeed be a B-Sides compilation, it can easily be considered a studio album all it's own, and one of the band's strongest at that.

All things considered, 'Recordings' has a pretty good sense of flow to it. Each song seems appropriately placed in the album, although theres definately no questioning the fact that this is a collection of songs, rather than an all-encompassing piece of music. For those more familiar with Porcupine Tree's heavier sound as of late, the majority of these tracks can either be identified as fitting into the band's slower, acoustic material, or the more drawn-out, ethereal instrumentation. Most often however, the tracks are a combination of those two types, to varying degrees, although there are a couple of more upbeat numbers to keep things from getting too mellow.

In terms of the actual songs here, the personal highlight for me might be the opener; 'Buying New Soul.' Beginning with an instantly memorable introduction filled with a string section and an interesting keys sound, things fade out to make way for a charming guitar strum. Before too long, the subtle vocal work of Steven Wilson comes in. All in all, it is a generally slower piece, but very dynamic in it's lifts and plummets. While there is very little going on that could be considered 'technical' in a musical sense, the musicianship heard here is stunning, better even than alot of other work the band has done. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite Porcupine Tree tracks, and I have no idea why it was left off of a mainstream album.

The rest of the album is not completely up to par with the opener, unfortunately. The second track 'Access Denied' for example, comes off as being a bit annoying, sounding like a typical late-career Beatles song. While it has musical merit as a pop song, it feels very out of place after such an emotionally involving epic. The third track 'Cure For Optimism' -as one might guess from the song's title- brings things back to a state of melancholy, where things generally stay until the second epic of the album; an extended version of the 'Stupid Dream' song 'Even Less.' Clocking in at sixteen minutes, there is obviously alot more going on here musically than the 'edited' version, and as a result, it is a much more pleasing listen.

Almost always, I would say that a compilation of apocrypha would simply be a fan's treasure; something to be disregarded by anyone that does not already view the band highly. With 'Recordings' however, I have to make an exception. Simply too good to be left as a limited item, 'Recordings' ranks up there with some of Porcupine Tree's best studio albums, and has some marvelous consistency, disregarding a few bumps which can prove to derail the cohesion in places. As it stands however, 'Recordings' is involving as any other album by this group, and should be treated as such.

Report this review (#299205)
Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars B-Sides? Really?

I hate compilation albums. I loathe them with a fiery passion. I also am not usually a fan of b-sides. But when I saw Porcupine Tree's Recordings on the shelf at my local CD store, I felt inclined to take it. The price was good. So I popped it into my stereo, and prepared to be disappointed... Boy was I surprised.

The album begins with "Buying A New Soul." How on earth the band was possessed not to include this on a normal album is beyond me. This song is absolutely gorgeous, has ambient and beautiful keyboard work, interesting lyrics, and a memorable chorus. The next track is "Access Denied," not the kind of song you'd expect from the Tree. A happy, poppy piano song which actually isn't that bad. "Cure for Optimism" is a pretty laid back and slow paced song, but once the lyrics come in it's pretty nice. Still, weaker than the other songs. "Untitled" starts pretty similarily to "Buying New Soul," and most of the song is a lengthy solo. Another weaker song, but not too bad.

Next we have "Disappear," which is a highlight of the album. It's short, but contains beautiful melodies and vocal harmonies. Next is probably the best instrumental the band has ever written aside from "Burning Sky" from Up the Downstair. This song is "Ambulance Chasing." It begins with two minutes of tense drumming build up, then explodes into the great bassline and a lengthy guitar solo. The song pretty much stays around there the whole way, but it's great. And things only get better with "In Formaldehyde." This song is absolutely beautiful. The clean riff is depressing and beautiful, the brief dulcimer solo is stunning, as is the guitar solo. The vocals are also a highlight.

We then have an extended version of "Even Less," which the record company would not allow to be put on Stupid Dream because of controversial lyrics in the second half. The extended version features a great instrumental section, some more vocals, and a beautiful flute outro. We then have "Oceans Have No Memory," which really serves as nothing more than a closer to the disc.

In my opinion, this disc actually greatly exceeds Lightbulb Sun, and is slightly better than Stupid Dream. Why? Well, all of the songs here are lyrically strong, lyrics being a great flaw on Lightbulb Sun. Also, there are no annoying disposable tracks which I found to be a huge problem in Lightbulb Sun, and a smaller one in Stupid Dream. You could argue that "Oceans Have No Memory" is disposable, but I think it works as a closer. In this album, the PT sound also seems to be more present than in the other two albums.

Song ratings: Buying New Soul: 10/10 Access Denied: 8/10 Cure For Optimism: 7/5/10 Untitled: 7/10 Disappear: 9/10 Ambulance Chasing: 9/10 In Formaldehyde: 10/10 Even Less (extended): 9.5/10 Oceans Have No Memory: N/A

My rating: 4 stars. I reckon this will be the highest I'll ever rate a B-Side compilation. It really disappoints me that the band though that these songs didn't belong on an album, because I feel Stupid Dream and especially Lightbulb Sun could've benefited from these tracks.

Report this review (#308173)
Posted Wednesday, November 3, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A loose ends collection worth owning

Coming from someone rarely impressed by loose ends collections, Wilson exceeds expectations with this one. PT's "Recordings" assembles material recorded in the Stupid Dream/Lightbulb Sun era, rejected not because they are weak but because Wilson felt they didn't quite fit the make-up of the finished albums. This album serves as a great companion piece to the two proper albums, almost like a sibling, but Recordings is allowed to be a bit looser and free spirited than the other two were. "Buying New Soul" and the long version of "Even Less" comprise 25 minutes of pure top-grade PT, nothing secondary about them. "Access Denied" brings you back to the psych-pop of the first album but with better production. The middle of the album is impressively substantive with a much spacier and more distant eeriness that recalls their mid 90s word, lots of heavy jamming (Ambulance Chasing) balanced with slow, stoned vibed softer sections with acoustic guitars, piano, and Wilson's hazy voice. There's some great stuff in these five middle tracks that just ooze mood, melancholy, distance. He lets them go and really stretch out moreso than the structured songs with choruses, the results are still vital and emotional, while long they do not sound bloated or overdone. The album closes with the ethereal post-rock guitar of "Oceans Have No Memory", a sonic daydream that ends too soon. I really enjoy this stuff more than some of the later monster releases like Deadwing and In Absentia.

Housed in a booklet styled digipak, the 2010 reissue features good sound and nice photos but lacks the insightful commentary SW has written for other releases. This is a very good release which provides a missing link from Signify to Lightbulb Sun, and should be a must-have for fans of that particular period. 3.75 stars to be exact.

Report this review (#480193)
Posted Sunday, July 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Recordings" is a compilation album by UK progressive rock act Porcupine Tree. The album was released in May 2001 by Kscope/Snapper Music. "Recordings" mainly consists of B-sides from the albums "Stupid Dream (1999)" and "Lightbulb Sun (2000)". The only track that hasn´t been released in some form is "Access Denied", which was demoed during "Lightbulb Sun" writing sessions, but is exclusive to this release.

The material on "Recordings" are of the usual high quality that Porcupine Tree are known for. The musicianship is excellent, the sound production is warm, organic and professional and the songwriting is inspired and has emotional impact. When that is said, I do think that some of the tracks on "Recordings" are obviously B-side material. Tracks like "Access Denied" (oh´s not technically a B-side, but still) and the two instrumentals "Untitled" and "Ambulance Chasing" probably wouldn´t have made it unto neither "Stupid Dream" nor "Lightbulb Sun". On the other hand tracks like "In FOrmaldehyde", the extended 14 minutes long version of "Even Less" and especially the album opener "Buying New Soul" are high quality material. The latter features one hell of a catchy chorus with some beautiful harmony vocals.

The 61:52 minutes of music on "Recordings" make a nice addition to Porcupine Tree´s discography and even though I think some of the material wouldn´t have made it unto the regular studio albums, it doesn´t mean that those tracks aren´t greatly enjoyable. The band´s Beatlesque psychadelic pop meets Pink Floyd´s sedated progressive rock is as enjoyable as ever and if you enjoy the more laid back and sedated part of the band´s most pop/rock oriented material from around the turn of the millenium "Recordings" is more than a worthy purchase. A 3.5 - 4 star rating is deserved.

Report this review (#525964)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I tend to think of Recordings as the oft-overlooked third album of Porcupine Tree's "crossover prog trilogy" - the first two instalments, of course, being Stupid Dream and Lightbulb Sun, which this album compiles B-sides and unreleased tracks from. All three albums include attempts to merge Porcupine Tree's spacey soundscapes with the Radiohead end of indie rock, as demonstrated on here with tracks such as Access Denied, but Recordings has a greater emphasis on extended spacey, proggy soundscapes than the other two - including a great extended version of Even Less and the absolutely superb Buying New Soul. Even though it's an odds and sods collection, I honestly think it's the best album from this phase of Porcupine Tree.
Report this review (#643498)
Posted Thursday, March 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Steven Wilson goes through phases. It's one of the things that makes him arguably the most interesting figure in modern prog. He rarely repeats himself. Right now (2012), he is exiting a metal phase and entering into a more experimental phase with Grace For Drowning.

Stupid Dream, Lightbulb Sun and Recordings have always been dubbed the 'crossover phase'. Wilson said himself that he would have preferred to release SD and LS as one double album, but didn't think of it at the time. And Recordings are the out-takes from those two. And easily the best of the three.

The 10 minute "Buying New Soul" is better than any song on both albums, and I'm actually glad they put it here, giving people reason to buy this. Because this is more than a compilation.

Of the 5 real songs on the album, there is not one dud. Even the often ridiculed "Access Denied" is a nice little pop rock song that would have fit well on the later Blackfield records.

"In Formaldehyde" and "Cure For Optimism" are both excellent songs, with the former being one of the saddest ballads wilson has pulled off. And the upbeat "Disappear" gives a nice contrast to it.

The rest of the album is filled with instrumentals, some with truly fantastic moments, and an extended version of "Even Less" from Stupid Dream. While the extended instrumental section does distract from the essence of the song, it's great to hear what the band really intended with that one.

More than a 'b-sides compilation', this is a fantastic record, and a must for anyone who even likes PT a bit.


Report this review (#703453)
Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I think this might be one of the best releases the Tree has made. I started listening to them during their grunge period, which for the most part remained my favorite period, although I enjoyed the atmospheric period, past Sunday of Life, while I find tolerable and Voyage 34, which is mainly trip-trance stuff, and less enjoyable.

But recently, I've almost got Stars Die and Sky on a loop. I've really started to get into the gently winding, evolving tones that Wilson seemed to love during the time. And Maitland's drums, especially the brush work on the excellent Stars Die.

That atmosphere is what this album offers. atmosphere, soundscapes, accompanied by some jangly acoustic guitar. It's kind of fitting that in a release filled with shelved pieces, a track named Untitled.

I think the feat that the Wilson achieves here is he's made a compilation album that's worth something.

Report this review (#1828443)
Posted Saturday, December 2, 2017 | Review Permalink

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