- Commercial Zone 'Demos'
(Plus other outtakes…)
1. The Slab
2. Untitled Instrumental 1
3. Untitled Instrumental 2
4. Bad Night
5. Untitled Instrumental 3
6. Untitled Instrumental 4
7. Bad Night
8. Untitled Instrumental 5
9. Untitled Instrumental 6
10. Untitled Instrumental 6 (version #2)
12. Flowers of Romance (single version)
13. Flowers of Romance (inst version)
57:40 minutes (approx)
(8) Good Quality Studio Mixes (apparently) 2nd / 3rd generation, but highly compressed (96k).
Tape Gradings Explained here
Track by track review by Karsten
(with additional notes in italics from Scott M)
© 2006 Fodderstompf.com / F&F Publishing
Despite being taken from different sources, overall the sound quality is very good. A little over compressed and flat, with the obligatory tape hiss, however, still impressive for the age of the recordings.
In early 2006 reports surfaced of a collection of completely unreleased PiL studio and live tracks, which had appeared on the bootleg MP3 download site Dimeadozen.org. (Note: This was the same site that the rare Manchester, Kings Hall, Belle Vue 1979 live set had also first appeared).
The only information available about the material were some brief (and largely incomplete) notes published on the Dimeadozen site. The information stated that the recordings had been dubbed from cassettes, taken from a set of three 10" reel-to-reel tapes; which had originally been acquired via PiL's American record label, circa 1983.
The first reel (not reviewed here) apparently featured a soundboard recording from PiL's show at Newcastle, City Hall, 1983. However – more interestingly – the second reel allegedly featured unreleased 'Commercial Zone' demos from Park South Studios in New York, 1982. While the third reel featured an unknown tour rehearsal, or soundcheck, circa 1983.
We didn't doubt the existence or authenticity of the live material, but to say we were sceptical about the 'CZ' tracks was an understatement. We fully expected the material to simply be normal 'Commercial Zone' tracks incorrectly reviewed as "unreleased", or tracks that had been tampered with to make them appear different. Well, (shock horror) it turns out they are unreleased 'Commercial Zone' outtakes – but better still – there was also some other unreleased PiL studio material thrown in. Namely a different version of '1981' (and highly likely) the mythical unreleased 'Vampire' from the 'Flowers of Romance' sessions.
The rumours from the bootleggers at the Dimeadozen site were that the 'Commercial Zone' tracks were from the abandoned 'Order of Death' soundtrack. This does seem a possibility. But only a small possibility. We still don't know for sure, hopefully this review will shed more light on the material…
Slab (4:47) (original 'fuller' version)
Finally the complete Park South Studios version with vocals and drums. When Keith Levene put together his 'Commercial Zone' album he decided to use only his own contributions to this track, i.e. acoustic guitar and keyboards, without doubt to keep the song more "pure" and to the basics. But if you listened closely, in the background, you could still hear Martin Atkins' drum track over Keith's headphones. So it is clear from the start that the version included here is not just a demo; but the original fuller version; with the other instruments left out. Keith also did a little bit of editing for 'Commercial Zone', removing the first 6 seconds and a section from the middle (2.47 - 3.52 min.), this explains why his mix was shorter than the full version here.
[Scott M: Unlike the released 'CZ' version this track features vocals by John Lydon. Not so much full lyrics, more atmosphere such as breathing, plus various spoken phrases like: "Waiting. Silent". This would tie in with the soundtrack theory.]
Instrumental 1 (4:01)
Keith plays a little bit of the acoustic guitar part of 'Instrumental 4' at the beginning, then Martin counts in with his sticks and the band launch right into an unknown instrumental PiL track, complete with Keith's trademark electric guitar.
[Scott M: This is one of the picks of the bunch. A pumping, springy rhythm track, with proper PiL guitar. Pity it's an instrumental. There is a very brief section at the end that sounds almost 'Radio 4' like, but unfortunately quickly fades out.]
Instrumental 2 (3:12)
Not a proper song, just a lengthy drum and piano piece. Don't know what to make of it, this was either the start of a basic track for a new unknown song, or an overdub track for another unknown song. The third possibility is that they only messed around in the studio before recording something else, but the piece is a little too long and too focused for that. At the end the playing stops and Martin lays down some drums for 10 seconds that sound like 'Bad Night'.
[Scott M: The use of piano on this track opens up the possibility that Ken Lockie did contribute during his short stay with PiL in New York. However, the simple and repetitive piano is really nothing more than scales, and most PiL members would have been able to play the part.]
Night (5:08) (original long version, with overdubs)
This is a different mix of the long version of 'Bad Night' that Keith released on the first white sleeve edition of 'Commercial Zone'. Again, Keith removed the first 6 seconds (the drum intro is originally a few beats longer) and faded the track out after four minutes (4:00 - 4:07). However, here we have a full-length version with several overdubs added. There's not only an additional electric guitar, but also two additional John Lydon vocal overdubs which are played over and mixed into the basic vocal track. This clearly doesn't work out and the song is overladen with a confused mishmash of singing, leaving Keith's 'Commercial Zone' mix the better one.
Instrumental 3 (5:11)
Similar to 'Instrumental 2' this is not a proper song, but either a basic track or an overdub piece. A simple bass drum rhythm with one-note bass guitar throughout, with somebody playing saxophone over it. Now, either this is the only known contribution of Ken Lockie (check his saxophone skills on his 'The Impossible' solo album) who was present at Park South Studios, or perhaps this piece is from the 'This Is What You Want…' recording sessions at Maison Rouge Studios in London? Some interesting slowed down vocals are featured throughout the track.
[Scott M: Sounds very un-PiL like to be honest. With the short, sharp sax bursts and weird slowed down vocals, it sounds more like something Brian Brian might have did. However, Pete Jones had not (quite) joined PiL at this point, so who knows… As Karsten says, it does seem a possibility that Ken Lockie contributes sax, but everyone round the band has always denied Lockie contributing anything to PiL.]
Instrumental 4 (3:29)
Keith plays a short acoustic guitar theme on his own, over and over again. It's certainly an overdub track, either intended for 'Instrumental 1' or as an additional or alternative guitar motif for 'The Slab'. Or something else?
Night (4:21) (alternate version)
A completely different version, not another mix or edit of the 'CZ' track. John Lydon sings a different set of lyrics, the majority of them later became 'This is Not a Love Song' (yes, even THAT line appears here). Keith's bass part does not make much sense to be honest, it seems he just runs his fingers at random up and down the fret.
Instrumental 5 (4:14)
Like 'Instrumental 2' and 'Instrumental 3' just a rough idea or an overdub track, consisting of a rhythm provided by Atkins by hitting a tambourine with a drum stick (to my ears), and a simple piano motif. At 3:54 a voice from the control room orders the piano player "Alright, can you take it back?" and a moment later "Alright, again?", which indicates this is not necessarily just an improvised piece.
Instrumental 6 (5:19)
Again Atkins provides a basic rhythm by hitting a tambourine with his drum stick (to my ears at least) and Keith Levene plays a simple synthesizer motif. The playing stops at 4:30 and the theme is played again for half a minute with full drums.
[Scott M: The simple pulsing synth on this track gives it a very John Carpenter feel. Again, very soundtrack-y.]
Instrumental 6 (4:24) (version #2)
Another version of 'Instrumental 6', with Keith now providing two electric guitar overdubs and a synthesizer that sounds reminiscent of 'Metal Box'. This one is more like a full track in its own right, but still far from complete.
[Scott M: Along with track 2, probably the strongest of the bunch, and nearly a complete track. Re-using the Carpenter-esque synths from the previous track, it also adds a gritty, scratchy Levene guitar, almost similar to the sound and style he later used on 'Killer in the Crowd'.]
(3:28) (bass version)
Now to something completely different: this is a different mix/edit of the 'This Is What You Want' version, and therefore has nothing to do with the previous ten tracks. John Lydon's vocals are identical to the album mix. Martin Atkins adds 'Under the House'-like percussion towards the end of the track, which makes it more dramatic than the album mix. A quite basic bass line is also present, probably NOT by Lou Bernardi.
[Scott M: Originally, I thought this could possibly be the unreleased version of '1981' recorded during the 'Flowers Of Romance' sessions (which Martin Atkins mentioned in his Fodderstompf interview). However, it sounds too close to the released 'This is What…' version to be the case?]
of Romance (single version)
Just the normal, released, single version, no difference.
of Romance (instrumental)
Just the normal, released, instrumental version, no difference.
Indeed, the 'Flowers Of Romance' outtake from Townhouse Studios, late October 1980. It consists of a Martin Atkins drum track, noise of gulping down Perrier mineral water (extremely slowed down, so it sounds like dinosaurs), and despite of a short piece of computer voice that goes "suck, suck, sucking" (at least to my ears) this track remains largely instrumental.
[Scott M: This track actually appears as track 6 on the same disc as the 1983 tour rehearsals / soundcheck, however, we've reviewed it here as part of the demos. I think there is a strong possibility it is indeed 'Vampire', however, Martin Atkins stated in his Fodderstompf interview that the track featured (unfinished) John Lydon vocals.]
These studio tracks are from at least three different sources:
1. Park South
Studios in New York, spring and summer 1982: A collection of 10
tracks from the 'Commercial Zone' sessions, consisting of two
different mixes ('The Slab' & 'Bad Night'),
one alternative work-in-progress version ('Bad Night')
and seven instrumental pieces that are either unfinished or basic tracks
or just overdub recordings.
2. Townhouse Studios in London, late October 1980: A previously unheard 'Flowers Of Romance' outtake ('Vampire').
3. Maison Rouge Studios in London, early 1984: A different mix of a 'This Is What You Want' album track ('1981').
So the only explanation of the emergence of all these tracks at the same time can only be a Martin Atkins tape leak, as he is the only person who was a PiL member/associate during the time span from 1980 up to 1984. The sudden emergence of 1983 soundboard live recordings only add to this conclusion. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Personally I don't think they recorded stuff especially for the movie soundtrack, they were just trying to record the new album. With the remote possibility of perhaps contributing to the soundtrack, but I think nothing was really discussed with the film company...
notes in italics by Scott M)
(With thanks to: Tim McAllister, Tim Bucknall, Glyn, & Adrian Ellis)
[Scott M: Unlike Karsten I do think there is a possibility some 'CZ' material was originally intended for the 'Order of Death' soundtrack. As I've mentioned in my notes, some of it is very soundtrack-y. However, I do think it is more likely the tracks were just work-in-progress outtakes and demos sent over to the record company at the time, and this is where the leak originated.
Wherever the material came from, it seems certain that at some point it came from someone close to the band, or record company. It does seem strange that recordings like this are beginning to appear. PiL have always guarded their outtakes very carefully, hardly any studio material has ever leaked before.
While it's great to hear any unreleased PiL material – don't build it up too much before you track it down – it really is for the proper hardcore fans only. There are no done and dusted completed songs. In all honesty, they are more like bits and pieces of tracks and jam sessions. Defintely work-in-progress. Quite why 'Vampire' turned up in the middle of the soundcheck disc is yet another mystery, but a real unexpected treat.