Compilation albums from your favourite artists – do you like them, do you find them a waste of time? In many cases, where the proliferation of them becomes so vast that you can barely tell one from another (and I’m thinking, for example, of Gary Numan here, or Tears For Fears – damn it, Japan’s Hansa Records era has been well and truly milked over the years too with countless budget label compilations), you lose all track. For this post though, I’m going to look at a handful of David Sylvian compilation releases – and this really is the opposite end of the spectrum from the previous example. These are clearly very carefully curated and bring a lot to the table in what they offer by way of tracks not found elsewhere. ‘Everything and Nothing’ in particular I would consider to be a vital piece of the catalogue that has so much going for it.
‘Everything and Nothing’ (3CD digipak limited edition)
From 1982 onwards, David Sylvian’s solo and collaborative releases were released by Virgin Records and it seems only fair to say that he enjoyed a supportive relationship with the label. But by the year 2000, the deal was reaching its end and as Sylvian himself has acknowledged in interviews, he had his final chance to peruse the Virgin archives of his material from 1980 onwards – the results of that would inform the two compilations ‘Everything and Nothing’ (principally vocal material solo and in collaboration) and ‘Camphor’ (primarily instrumental material, again solo and in collaboration). Neither of these could by any means fit the ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation album template.
‘Everything and Nothing’ was available as a three disc limited edition initially and a standard two disc edition.
What is/was unique to this compilation?
In short, lots! Sylvian took advantage of this opportunity to rescue some tracks which been intended for the previous year’s ‘Dead Bees On A Cake’ album (and from earlier sessions too) but which had been left off due to being unfinished. If that gives off a hint of ‘leftovers’ of a second rate nature, let me just say that in ‘The Scent Of Magnolia’ and ‘Cover Me With Flowers’ we had top-drawer Sylvian material on offer – not to be missed. Elsewhere, several cuts were newly remixed from their original releases.
Previously unreleased tracks from the ‘Dead Bees On A Cake’ sessions:
- The Scent Of Magnolia †
- Albuquerque (Dobro #6) †
- Cover Me With Flowers †
- Aparna And Nimisha (Dobro #5) †
- The Scent Of Magnolia (Edit)*
- The Scent Of Magnolia (Portobello Mix)*
† These tracks have subsequently been made available on the remastered and expanded version of ‘Dead Bees On A Cake’ released for Record Store Day in 2018.
Previously unreleased track originally recorded during the ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’ sessions and completed in 2000:
Previously unreleased track recorded in 1991 and completed in 2000:
- Thoroughly Lost To Logic
At the time of posting, I thought that ‘Thoroughly Lost to Logic’ was a previously unreleased piece – but thanks to Tim – please see the comments section below – it turns out that this was a vocal snippet that Mr. Sylvian contributed to the late Ryuichi Sakamoto album, ‘Discord’ from 1999, as used in the track ‘4th Movement, Salvation’.
Previously unreleased track recorded during the Robert Fripp & David Sylvian ‘The First Day’ sessions:
- The Blinding Light Of Heaven
Previously unreleased versions remixed in 2000:
- Ghosts [Japan] ‡
- Some Kind Of Fool [Japan]?
Buoy [Mick Karn featuring David Sylvian]This remix actually dates from 1987, included on the ‘Let The Happiness In’ single – though it segues with the previous track, so there is no clean start on this compilation. (Thanks to Shelf for clarifying.)
- Bamboo Houses [Ryuichi Sakamoto & David Sylvian]
- Brilliant Trees*
* Exclusive only to the limited edition three disc version.
‡ Later released on the 2012 ‘A Victim Of Stars’ compilation.
? Later released on the 2022 mini LP CD re-issue of ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ in Japan only.
The remaining tracks comprised familiar versions from previous releases and some tracks gathered up from non-Sylvian releases such as the two tracks from the album ‘Marco Polo’ by Nicola Alesini and Pier Luigi Andreoni and originally released on the Materiali Sonori label in 1995.
As well as the music, this was also an opportunity for the sleeve design, supervised by David Sylvian and Yuka Fuji, to showcase in particuar the photography of Shinya Fujiwara, already familiar from the Rain Tree Crow project onwards.
Tracklist: All tracks are by David Sylvian other than those with the band/collaborators in square brackets.
- The Scent Of Magnolia (5’37”)
- Heartbeat (Tainai Kaiki II) (5’17”) [Ryuichi Sakamoto & David Sylvian]
- Blackwater (4’23”) [Rain Tree Crow]
- Albuquerque (Dobro #6) (1’22”)
- Ride (8’00”)
- The Golden Way (6’01”) [Alesini & Andreoni Featuring David Sylvian]
- Ghosts [Version 2000] (3’48”) [Japan]
- Pop Song (4’47”)
- Every Colour You Are (6’17”) [Rain Tree Crow]
- Wanderlust (6’47”)
- God’s Monkey (5’02”) [David Sylvian & Robert Fripp]
- Let The Happiness In (5’36”)
- I Surrender (9’29”)
- Thoroughly Lost To Logic (1’17”)
- Jean The Birdman (4’12”) [David Sylvian & Robert Fripp]
- Cover Me With Flowers (6’33”)
- The Boy With The Gun (5’15”)
- Riverman (4’57”)
- Aparna And Nimisha (Dobro #5) (0’57”]
- Midnight Sun (4’03”)
- Orpheus (4’49”)
- Some Kind Of Fool (7’31”) [Japan]
- Cries And Whispers (2’34”) [Rain Tree Crow]
- Godman (3’58”)
- Laughter And Forgetting (2’34”)
- Buoy [Version 2000] (5’15”) [Mick Karn featuring David Sylvian]
- Weathered Wall (5:44″)
- Bamboo Houses [Version 2000] (5’21”) [Ryuichi Sakamoto & David Sylvian]
- Come Morning (3’57”) [Alesini & Andreoni Featuring David Sylvian]
- The Scent Of Magnolia (Edit) (5’04”)
- The Blinding Light Of Heaven (4’42”) [David Sylvian & Robert Fripp]
- The Scent Of Magnolia (Portobello Mix) (5’42”)
- Brilliant Trees [Version 2000] (8’32”)
Disc 3 was only available with the initial limited edition version.
The remixed tracks were quite a surprise – not least of course ‘Some Kind Of Fool’, the great unreleased Japan track that was originally intended for inclusion on ‘Gentlemen Take Polaroids’ but left off and replaced with ‘Burning Bridges’ instead, but not before some of the record sleeves had already been printed and included it in the tracklisting. Will we ever hear the original Japan version in its original 1980 mix? Not as yet…
The remixed ‘Ghosts’ has since seen a release on the later ‘A Victim Of Stars’ compilation too – it was also made available at the time of ‘Everything and Nothing’ on the ‘Everything And Nothing’ Radio Edit UK two track promo CD single which was looked at a while back on VersionCrazy.
‘Camphor’ (2CD digipak limited edition)
As noted above, this was the second of the compilations that was a product of Sylvian’s trawl through the Virgin archives and this time focussing on instrumental works and again, a few exclusive new versions/remixes made available. Unfortunately, this compilation was compromised by some sloppiness with digital transfers that resulted in some tracks playing back at the wrong speed compared to the original releases. Once again, a limited edition with a bonus disc was available initially, the more common edition comprising just the one disc.
What is/was unique to this compilation?
- Wave (Version) – a very different version in comparison to the original 1986 version from ‘Gone To Earth’, rendering the originally vocal track an instrumental.
- Mother And Child [Remixed by Jan Bang + Erik Honoré] – another significantly remixed version, again rendering the originally vocal track from ‘Secrets Of The Beehive’ an instrumental.
- Upon This Earth – a remixed version of the track, though it is not obvious on the packaging as it doesn’t say (Version) in the way that ‘Wave’ does – but there is a note to say that the tracks listed on the insert with * next to them are remixes by David Sylvian himself.
- Plight (The Spiralling Of Winter Ghosts) Detail – a very short extract from the longer form piece.
- Plight (The Spiralling Of Winter Ghosts) – not noted on the packaging, but this is an edit – 16’35” duration as compared to the original 18’30” version. It has subsequently been included also on the 2018 Grönland issue ‘Plight & Premonition / Flux & Mutability’.
- Mutability (A New Beginning Is In The Offing) Detail – again, another very short extract from the longer form piece.
Unique to this compilation, but for the wrong reasons…
- Answered Prayers
- The Healing Place
Both of these play back too fast when compared to the originals, due to being digitally transferred at the wrong rate.
- All Of My Mother’s Names (6’06”)
- Red Earth (As Summertime Ends) (3’34”) [Rain Tree Crow]
- Answered Prayers (2’45”)*
- The Song Which Gives The Key To Perfection (5’52”) †
- New Moon At Red Deer Wallow (5’14”)
- Praise (Pratah Smarami) (3’55”)
- Wave (Version) (3’58”)
- Mother And Child [Remixed by Jan Bang + Erik Honoré] (4’03”)
- Plight (The Spiralling Of Winter Ghosts) Detail (2’30”) [David Sylvian / Holger Czukay]
- Upon This Earth (Version) (4’14”)
- Big Wheels In Shanty Town (6’56”) [Rain Tree Crow]
- The Healing Place (4’52”)
- Camphor (3’10”) †
- A Brief Conversation Ending In Divorce (3’27”)
† Originally from the ‘Everything And Nothing Tour 01’ CD/tour programme set.
Disc 2 (Bonus Disc)
- Plight (The Spiralling Of Winter Ghosts) [Edit] (16’35”) [David Sylvian / Holger Czukay]
- Mutability (A New Beginning Is In The Offing) Detail (5’31”) [David Sylvian / Holger Czukay]
- Premonition (Giant Empty Iron Vessel) (16’34”) [David Sylvian / Holger Czukay]
More to come in Part 2…