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Sun Zoom Spark "Out-Takes" CD breakdown  
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Joined: 2005-11-12
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Post 2017-01-16 00:00   [Quote] 
As you know, the fourth CD of the "Sun Zoom Spark" box-set that was released in 2014 contains 14 previously unreleased outtakes from "The Spotlight Kid" and the "Clear Spot" sessions. Now, since we have two large collections of outtakes from these sessions on the tracker, you may assume that this material was previously all available on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes" or "Clear Spot Backing Tracks & Alternate Mixes". However, by comparing them, I realized this is not always the case.

First of all, whether you like the mastering or not, the sound quality of the "Sun Zoom Spark" official release is a lot better than even the best sounding track on the tracker seeds: this is unsurprising, since they come from the original master tapes. Second, of course, they all run at the correct speed, while not everything on the two seeds on the tracker does. Some of the same versions are also different mixes but I haven't worked out yet if the mono versions on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes" are mere fold-downs.

So, this is what I found out:

July 1971 - "The Spotlight Kid" Sessions

1. Alice in Blunderland (alternate version) - Actually an alternate mix, not an alternate version. Same as on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes".
2. Harry Irene - Different take than the one on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes". Includes studio banter at the beginning.
3. I Can't Do This Unless I Can Do This/Seam Crooked Sam - Same take as the "Version 2" (track 1-02) on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes". The Jazzfan seed contains an extended intro and outro and could be a different mix, albeit a subtle one.
4. Pompadour Swamp/Suction Prints - Tricky. I still haven't decided if this is a complete take of the song created by editing the two "Pompadour" tracks found on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes" or if it's another part of the same sessions. Definitely a different mix, in any case.

25 August 1971 - "The Spotlight Kid" Sessions

5. The Witch Doctor Life (Instrumental Take) - Same as on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes". However, that version faded out after approximately 3:50, while the one on the boxset is the complete take with even some bit of studio banter at the beginning!
6. Two Rips In A Haystack/Kiss Me My Love - Same version as on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes". Different intro: the "Sun Zoom Spark" version starts with Don mumbling "yeah, go ahead, I'll do something", while the one on the tracker seed has Drumbo yelling "And!", although the Captain's comment at the end of the track is the same. The "outtakes" version is mono, the official release stereo.
7. Best Batch Yet (Track - Version 1) - Seems to be the same version as on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes", "Version 2" (track 3-17). However, the one on the Jazzfan seed contains studio banter missing here. It's also definitely a different mix.
8. Your Love Brought Me To Life (Instrumental) - Same version as on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes", but the official release version contains studio banter at the beginning and edits out a part where the take breaks down and the band has to stop and restart. Also, there it's in mono and here it's in stereo.
9. Dirty Blue Gene (Alternate Version 1) - Different take than the one on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes".

July-September 1972 - "Clear Spot" Sessions

10. Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man (Early Mix) (10 September 1972) - This track wasn't previously available anywhere. It's 10 seconds longer than the album version but I haven't noticed where the extra 10 seconds come from.
11. Kiss Where I Kain't (13 July 1972) - Shorter edit but same version and very likely same mix as "Frying Pan" on "Clear Spot Backing Tracks & Alternate Mixes".
12. Circumstances (Alternate Version 2) (10 September 1972) - Same as on "Clear Spot Backing Tracks & Alternate Mixes".
13. Little Scratch (August 1972) - Same version as on "Clear Spot Backing Tracks & Alternate Mixes", which is a different take than the fully produced one that appeared on the compilation "The Dust Blows Forward and The Dust Blows Back" in 1999. However, this is a different mix and the jazzfan seed contains also another different alternate mix of the ending section tacked at the end of the track.
14. Dirty Blue Gene (Alternate Version 3) (August 1972) - Same as on "The Spotlight Kid Outtakes" (even though it doesn't belong there), except for a count-in that has been edited out. The instrumental backing track on "Clear Spot Backing Tracks & Alternate Mixes" is an alternate take.

In short, the fourth CD of the boxset is essential even to the hardcore Beefheart fanatics because it includes material that wasn't previously unavailable and presents everything in superior sound quality. The research on the booklet makes clear that Henry Kaiser's original claim that all of "The Spotlight Kid" outtakes come from one single session is inaccurate. Although unlikely, I hope more of these will be officially released on the future: even though we have a lot of this material, we still miss some tracks: John French on his book "Through the Eyes of Magic" also mentions the existence of a 1972 complete studio version of "Candle Mambo", for example! It's also a pity that "Funeral Hill", of which at least three complete takes exist, and the excellent "Suzy Murder Wrist" were left off this collection.

All of the excellent studio outtakes seeds that Jazzfan generously shared here in these years will probably need to be revisited at some pont (new research that has come to light, speed correction needed, sound quality that can be improved by eliminating the flaws).


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Post 2017-01-16 20:37   [Quote] 
Thanks for this, Galeans. It did seem to me to be a disconcertingly random selection of tracks for the SZS out takes disc (interesting and good sounding though they are), to the extent that I wondered if that indicated at least one follow up release to make for a more coherent (eventual) collection. No such luck so far. We can only hope. Probably sensible not to hold our breaths, though.
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Post 2017-01-16 22:51   [Quote] 
Great, thanks for putting this stuff "in motion" here. Wink
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Post 2017-02-12 02:33   [Quote] 
Yes, ditto, many thanks, Galeans, for all your footwork on that!
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Post 2017-04-27 13:12   [Quote] 
Yes, thanks for the breakdown, Galeans!

However, I think Best Batch Yet and Your Love Brought Me to Life are actually different takes compared to the ones on the box (which makes the Out-takes disc even more valuable).

On the other hand, all versions of Little Scratch seem to be different mixes of the same basic track (not counting the instrumental version of course, which was recorded a year earlier). I believe the Dust Blows Forward mix is at the correct speed, the Sun Zoom Spark mix runs 1.7% too slow, while the mix on the The Spotlight Kid Outtakes [track 1-17] runs 2.8% too fast.

The mix of Nowadays a Woman's Gotta Hit a Man on Clear Spot is indeed edited. The parts between 1:31-1:37 and 1:57-2:05 heard during the early mix are edited out of the final master. Interestingly, Don's last line (‘None of my women have tears in their eyes, you can ask them about me, I swear’) is apparently overdubbed at a later date, as it's missing from the early mix.
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Post 2017-04-27 13:29   [Quote] 
Thanks for the comments, JPH! Smile

I remember being pretty sure about "Your Love Brought me to Life" but I will definitely listen and compare again! Both late 72 versions of "Little Scratch" could well share the same basic track, now that I think of it. Thanks for spotting the edits on "Nowadays..."!

I'll re-listen everything you pointed out and post my comments!


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