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Tones On Tail – Burning Skies/OK, This Is The Pops versions

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Burning Skies [12″ Version] (6’20”)

Burning Skies [7″ Edit] (4’13”)

Burning Skies [Gothic Rock compilation Edit] (5’15”)

Burning Skies [‘Something!’ promo CD ‘Single Edit’] (4’34”)

OK, This Is The Pops (7″ / 12″ version)

OK, This Is The Pops (fade-in start)

OK, This Is The Pops (‘phased’ version)

NB: All timings are approximate and intended as a guide for differentiation only

Tones On Tail - Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 7 inch single front cover

^ Tones On Tail – Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 7 inch single front cover

I never imagined there was going to be quite so much version craziness when I sat down to listen to these original vinyl releases and compare them against what has subsequently emerged across various compilations LPs and CDs. First off, it was a surprise to realise that the 7″ edit of ‘Burning Skies’ had never appeared on CD at any point – and in the end, no less than four different variants of ‘Burning Skies’ came to light when I dug the vinyl out for a spin. Similarly, ‘OK, This Is The Pops’ as was released on vinyl back in 1983 (the versions on 7″ and 12″ are the same) hasn’t quite made it to CD unscathed either. I would love to know how these things come to be – can there be so many different tape boxes at Beggars Arkive that it is so easy to confuse? Or are these accidents that happen during remastering?

Tones On Tail - Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 7 inch single rear cover

^ Tones On Tail – Burning Skies / OK, This is The Pops 7 inch single rear cover

Burning Skies

So, first off, the original 7″ and 12′ editions of ‘Burning Skies’/’OK, This Is The Pops’. I bought these when they came out so had always been well aware of the differences in the singles, the shorter 7″ mix and extended 12″ mix of ‘Burning Skies’. (‘OK, This Is The Pops’ is the same version on both 7″ and 12″, not that that has spared it on subsequent compilations…)

Tones On Tail - Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 7 inch single side 1 label design

^ Tones On Tail – Burning Skies / OK, This is The Pops 7 inch single side 1 label design

The 7″ mix of ‘Burning Skies’ as released back in 1983 doesn’t appear to have ever made it to CD. The version of the track that has been released on the following compilation LPs/CDs/cassettes is basically the original 12″ version (though the mastering varies slightly across releases, which is a subject I won’t go into here);

Tones On Tail - Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 7 inch single side 2 label design

^ Tones On Tail – Burning Skies / OK, This is The Pops 7 inch single side 2 label design

Back to the hunt for the 7″ edit on CD. Back in 1998, the ‘Everything!’ compilation CD came out – but, as is so often the way, ‘Everything!’ wasn’t quite ‘everything’ after all! While the CD included ‘Burning Skies’, it was the long, 12″ version, no 7″ edit to be found anywhere. However, alongside this compilation there was also a US promo CD called ‘Something!’ [Beggars Banquet ‎TOT 1 CD, 1998] and amongst its three tracks which had NOT appeared on ‘Everything!’ was ‘Burning Skies’ (Single Edit). At last!

But, surprise, this turns out to be a totally different edit altogether, which I have a theory about – see further down…

Tones On Tail - Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 12 inch single front cover

^ Tones On Tail – Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 12 inch single front cover

So, scouring discogs.com I realised that there is another version of ‘Burning Skies’ labelled as ‘Edit’ that has been released, this time on the first of the ‘Gothic Rock’ compilations [Jungle Records ‎– FREUD CD38] back in 1992. It clocks in at about the 5 minute 15 mark though, so unless the timing noted it wrongly then that couldn’t be the 7” mix, could it? And indeed that is the case, so it is a unique edit to this compilation. After a fashion, anyway – it is basically like the 7″ version but instead of fading out by the 4’13” mark it carries on another minute longer. But it is definitely fashioned after the 7″ edit and is not a shorter fadeout of the 12″ version. The giveaway on this is in the middle section of the track during the break with the “You’ll get blue eyes if you stand too close to him…” lyric. (More on all this further down the page…)

So, that’s the story about ‘Burning Skies’. Does all this matter, some may say? Depends on how fussy you are when it comes to different mixes and edits. Stop reading now if this is all too much, it gets much worse!

Tones On Tail - Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 12 inch single rear cover

^ Tones On Tail – Burning Skies / OK, This is The Pops 12 inch single rear cover

OK, This Is The Pops

Moving on to ‘OK, This Is The Pops’ – this is a lot easier, though no less perplexing…

The original mix that appeared on 7” and 12” were identical. The version of the track that later appeared on the following compilations is near identical – except that the start of the track fades in rather than start clean with the bass guitar notes at full volume;

  • ‘Night Time’
  • ’Tones On Tail’ (1990 US compilation)

I have no idea why that should be, but it really spoils the start of the track if you are familiar with the original.

Tones On Tail - Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 7 inch single side 1 label design

^ Tones On Tail – Burning Skies / OK, This is The Pops 12 inch single side 1 label design

By the time we get to later compilations a new ‘phased’ mix is in use. I call it this because if you are listening through headphones in particular the differences are obvious;

  • the original mix: bass dead-centre, double-tracked guitars panned mid-left and mid-right and fixed throughout the track
  • the ‘phased’ mix – everything is swirling back and forth from side to side like it’s all been put through a phaser pedal

The ‘phased’ mix comes to light first on the ‘Everything!’ compilation in 1998 and has also been used on the ‘Weird Pop’ compilation subsequently.

Tones On Tail - Burning Skies / OK This is The Pops 7 inch single side 2 label design

^ Tones On Tail – Burning Skies / OK, This is The Pops 12 inch single side 2 label design

Differences in the versions

Since the Burning Skies [12″ Version] (6’20”) seems to have become the de facto standard edition across the main Tones On Tail compilation releases, I’ll note the differences in comparison to that in these very rough notes on how to spot the differences easily. At the outset, it is worth noting that all versions of the track are near identical for the first two minutes or so, the differences all happen from the portion of the track after the second verse.

Burning Skies [7″ Edit] (4’13”)

Following the end of the second verse, there are two bars of instrumental with Daniel Ash’s e-bow guitar – it then goes to the middle break and this is the easiest difference to spot, since the initial instrumental portion of this break edits things down – the 12″ stays on each note for four bars, but the 7″ mix only stays for two. It then progresses on to the vocal “You’ll get blue eyes if you stand too close to him…” section – on the 7″ this only repeats twice in total, whereas the 12″ version repeats three times. After this break, there is a short instrumental e-bow soloing break for two bars (this is common across all versions) and then it repeats the first vocal verse (“And the air was alive with piercing sound and burning skies”) but fades out completely by the end of the third line of this verse, so you don’t get to hear the repeat of the line.

Burning Skies [Gothic Rock compilation Edit] (5’15”)

This is the same as per the notes for the 7″ mix above, except on that repeat of the last vocal verse – it is complete, so the “She shook his head like so much meat…” line is intact and continues on, it is then followed by the instrumental outro as per the 12″ mix except it then fades out much earlier than that version (by the end of the third bar of the soloing guitar + e-bow, whereas the 12″ mix carries on a further three bars or so and audibly ‘falls apart’ with instruments dropping out, if you listen closely enough on the headphones!)

Burning Skies [‘Something!’ promo CD ‘Single Edit’] (4’34”)

So, my theory is that a few new versions were created in 1998 at the time of the ‘Everything!’ compilation – this ‘Burning Skies’ [Single Edit], the ‘phased version’ of ‘OK, This Is The Pop’ and (maybe) the ‘Extended’ version of ‘Twist’*. All have some degree of re-mixing/editing going on.

This version is the same as the other ‘Burning Skies’ mixes up until the end of the second verse (“You try to break out but something’s just locked the door”) at which point someone hits the pause button with a dub echo effect on and silence prevails until the “You’ll get blue eyes if you stand too close to him…” section comes roaring back in on the vocal – completely missing out the instrumental build altogether. There is then a full repeat of the first vocal verse before a short instrumental fadeout of the first two soloing guitar bars (so, before the e-bow soloing rejoins).

* In passing, it is worth noting: the ‘Weird Pop’ compilation states it contains the Extended version of ‘Twist’ – it does on the digital version but the actual vinyl LP just includes the original version from the B side of ‘Christian Says’. The ‘Weird Pop’ compilation does note some provenance of ‘Twist’, referencing the date of the original master tape (15th September 1984) and noting that the version originally released was edited.

Gothic Rock compilation CD front cover

^ Gothic Rock compilation CD front cover

Gothic Rock compilation CD rear cover

^ Gothic Rock compilation CD rear cover

When You’re Smiling trivia

While we’re on the subject of the original single releases, amongst the ‘instrumentation’ on ‘When You’re Smiling’ is a plundering of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop ‘Out Of This World – Atmospheric Sounds And Effects From The BBC Radiophonic Workshop’ [BBC Records And Tapes ‎– REC 225] LP. I am so familiar with that LP as it was a discovery by my good friend Lieutenant 030 from our central library’s record lending department of the time and would provide many hours of enjoyment. Amongst some of those I identified are;

  • Throughout: ‘Three Terror Bangs’ (Glynis Jones)
  • from 2’30” approx: ‘Watery Depths’ (John Baker)
  • from 3’40” approx: ‘Spring Tide’ (Glynis Jones)
  • from 4’20” approx: ‘Spectres In The Wind’ (David Cain)
Tones On Tail 'Something!' US Promo CD front cover

^ Tones On Tail ‘Something!’ US Promo CD front cover

Tones On Tail 'Something!' US Promo CD rear case design

^ Tones On Tail ‘Something!’ US Promo CD rear case design

Tones On Tail 'Something!' US Promo CD insert middle spread

^ Tones On Tail ‘Something!’ US Promo CD insert middle spread

Tones On Tail 'Something!' US Promo CD label design

^ Tones On Tail ‘Something!’ US Promo CD label design

Tones On Tail 'Something!' US Promo CD insert rear design

^ Tones On Tail ‘Something!’ US Promo CD insert rear design

And finally…

The front cover image of the original single… not as original as I thought it was… turns out to be a still of mime artist Lindsay Kemp! I don’t know where from though – any takers on identifying that?