Peace of the Past

One of our little obsessions around here involves the differences between album versions and single versions of hit songs. Records such as “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night, Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise,” and the Edgar Winter Group’s “Free Ride” differ drastically from one format to the other. The “Joy” 45 is a different mix and a different edit of the master, but “Two Tickets” and “Free Ride” go further than that. I suspect that the vocal on “Two Tickets” and the guitar solo on the “Free Ride” 45 are different performances from those heard on the album versions.

There are a couple of other interesting examples. On Foreigner’s “Long Long Way From Home,” the single begins with a repeated guitar riff, but the album version begins with a sort of fanfare before the riff starts. (You can hear it on this live version from 1979.) The single is (as singles often are) a hotter mix than the album version. In addition, the vocal harmonies are different on the 45, and one lyric line is changed. Just before the sax solo, on the album version, Lou Gramm sings, “I’m coming home.” On the single, he sings “I’m a long way from home.” Another classic-rock staple, Boston’s “Peace of Mind,” was also changed for 45 release. The single is edited to 3 1/2 minutes from five, and in a couple of spots, the vocals are subtly altered—different harmonies, different inflections. To my ears, both “Long Long Way From Home” and “Peace of Mind” are improved by the changes.

Often these single versions—chopped and channeled and remixed as they are—become lost artifacts. Radio stations are usually not very precise about finding them to play, and record labels release them haphazardly, if at all. However, the single version of “Long Long Way From Home” is an exception. It seems to be proliferating at the expense of the album version—if you buy a Foreigner compilation these days, the 45 is what you’ll get. On the other hand, until I found it in the wild recently, I hadn’t heard the “Peace of Mind” edit since the 1970s. Nobody plays it anymore, and it’s never been released as part of any Boston reissue or compilation that I know of.

Here’s another oddity about the “Peace of Mind” single. When it was released late in 1977, the B-side was “Foreplay,” which we’re used to hearing now with the song that follows it on Boston’s debut album, “Long Time.” Looking back, “Foreplay” is a particularly weird choice for a B-side, given the availability of other, stronger songs on the album. “Smokin'” had been the B-side of “More Than a Feeling,” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” was the B-side of “Long Time.” So why not “Hitch a Ride”? Or “Rock and Roll Band”? It’s doubtful to me that either song was being held back as a future A-side candidate; in 1977 it was rare to go more than three singles deep on an album. But I suppose the thought process that ended with “Foreplay” as the B-side of “Peace of Mind” is lost to history now.

“Peace of Mind” (single version)/Boston (buy Boston here)

16 responses

  1. Very interesting on the Boston single. I don’t recall ever hearing it before, but I think I was on the FM side of things when that was released.

    I’ve got to find the Eddie Money and Edgar Winter 45s to compare now! Hello Ebay!

  2. I talked to Ronnie Montrose once about the competely different versions of the songs and he told me it was recorded twice, once for the lp and once for the 45. The 45 version was sped up at the factory, too.
    The “Two Tickets to Paradise” 45 was a great discoverey too when I did top 40.

  3. Thanks for the file, sir. I’ll compare and contrast later in the week (I’m quality-controlling this morning’s Bottom Feeders downloads at the moment, you can relate).

    I’ll have to hear the “Foreplay” edit someday…I’ve heard “Long Time” without its companion, but never vice versa. Given Tom Scholz’s legendary anal-retentive rep, it’s a sure bet these single versions will remain unavailable on his watch.

  4. I noticed that the single edits of some of Chicago’s early material were paritcularly chopped compared to the album version (Beginnings comes to mind). It wasn’t a single but I noticed on Chicago’s Prima Donna the edit used on Chicago 17 and the edit used on the Two of a Kind soundtrack are different. There are some added horn fills on the latter that weren’t on the former.

    There are also the “what if” albums out there… REO Speedwagon had just about finished recording Ridin’ the Storm Out in 1973 when Kevin Cronin had a falling out with the band and left. So the band went back in the studio and re-recorded the whole album with Michael Murphy on vocals. Other than Son of a Poor Man being released as a bonus track on one of their compilations, the Kevin Cronin version of the album has never seen the light of day. In 1984 Toto had recorded most of their Isolation album when Bobby Kimball was fired for his drug usage. The band re-entered the studio with Fergie Frederiksen and re-recorded some of the songs and replaced others completely with new songs sung with their new vocalist. Some of the Kimball material made it onto a 1997 rarities compilation but for the most part the Kimball version of that album remains unheard.

  5. Another song that is vastly different between LP and 45 version is David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel.” Having been born in 1972, it seems that I’m largely familiar with the version heard on “Diamond Dogs” as that’s the one heard on FM radio and included on compilation CDs. But the 45 version was a different mix: the LP version starts with the familiar guitar riff…the 45 begins with the words “Hot tramp, I love you so.” In addition, there are phasing sounds used in the guitar lick that (IMO) distract from the song.

    I write a weekly 1970s review blog (click my name above, it’s linked there). The week this song came up, I learned about the 45 version. I’d never known there was a difference.

    1. I’ve never heard that edit of “Rebel Rebel”. And I’m glad. You gotta build up to that line. Bowie’s notorious for bad single edits. A few that come to mind: “Space Oddity” (the “Can you hear me, Major Tom?” chant crossfades into the breakdown at the end), “Heroes” (the first two verses are cut out), “Ashes to Ashes” and “Let’s Dance” (both trim the instrumental breaks and a good deal of the meat as a result).

  6. Fleetwood Mac released a bunch of single-only mixes back in the 70s….Over My Head, Say You Love Me and Rhiannon come to mind. Those single versions included in as bonus tracks on the deluxe edition CD reissue of their 1975 album.

    1. I think I wrote about the Fleetwood Mac singles at some point–the single versions of “Over My Head” and “Rhiannon” are superb.

  7. FWIW, Just found Two Tickets To Paradise single version on Amazon:

    http://www.amazon.com/Two-Tickets-Paradise-Single-Version/dp/B001D7L6N4

  8. Here are some more interesting edits and alternate versions:
    “Radar Love” by Golden Earring is 6:11 on the album and the 45 rpm single is 2:53. However, I’ve come across an alternate “long” single version that is 5:01.
    “All Right Now” by Free is 5:29 on the album and ends cold. The single is 3:45 and ends with a fade. I’ve heard stations play a different single version that is 4:14 and includes more of the guitar solo and ends cold.
    Then, there’s Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do” which is 14:15 on the album and the single is 7:19. There is an alternate single version that includes more of Frampton’s guitar solo toward the end. I have no idea of the length of this single, but I knda like it better than the original single.

  9. I enjoyed hearing the single version of “Mama Told Me Not to Come” on Casey’s show a couple of months ago. I KNEW the version I was familiar with didn’t slow down gradually at the end, yet classic rock stations have been playing only that version for years.

    I also have an Armed Forces radio show with “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” with two distinct edits not heard on the familiar version. All told these cuts probably reduce the playing time by three seconds or less. Go figure.

    1. The original edit of “Take It Easy” by the Eagles is like that. The bit near the end (the “ooh-ooh-ooh”‘s) was cut by a couple of rounds of ooh’s, cutting it from 3:34 to 3:21. Can’t imagine why they bothered.

  10. “Spinning Wheel” by BS&T is one I remember well. The single added a loud guitar solo during the instrumental passage, while the album version was just the other instruments. And the single faded before the calliope-type sounds, whereas the album version has several of those sounds and fades amid voices cheering. KHJ in Southern California actually played the album version, which is about the only time I can think of that it did that; in virtually every other case, KHJ would play the single version of a song, and sometimes it would even play versions even shorter than the single. The aforementioned “All Right Now” is one example. So was “Are You Ready” by PG&E.

  11. CBS Records was a union shop, and that’s why so many singles under the Columbia umbrella were remixed, edited, drastically altered… you name it. Even the mono sides of the stereo / mono DJ 45s were not simply fold-downs of the stereo mixes, as per union rules. All of that tinkering sure made for some interesting variations.

    Take Boston’s “Don’t Look Back” promo single, for instance. The commercial 45 ran 6:01, same as the LP version. But the DJ 45 ran a more radio-friendly 4:06, with the ending made by repeating an instrumental section twice, then fading. A little awkward sounding, perhaps, but not nearly as much as the A&M DJ 45 of Supertramp’s “Bloody Well Right,” where the final one-third of the record featured the same 12-second “Ha, ha, you’re bloody well right..” segment repeated *five* times.

    @Shark: The 5:01 “Radar Love” is actually the commercial single length, not an alternate. The short / long DJ 45 ran 2:53 and 5:01.

    @jb: It was all about the benchmarks. Some of the key major market stations drew their length limit lines at 3:00 or 3:30. Hence, the 3:21 edit of “Take It Easy” removed one potential timing objection in getting key adds. Not a big deal for us, but hugely important to Asylum in breaking their new act’s first single to radio. I’d say the ploy worked, if only much too well.

    It’ll be interesting to see how radio and the emerging media respond to today’s ever-shrinking attention spans. Perhaps some of those long-forgotten single versions will once again emerge from the vaults.

  12. I, for one, always knew there were differences in songs. Different mixes/lengths etc. But, where to find the differences and on what CD’s, if on a CD. One of the sweetest websites that I stumbled upon back in 2007 was Pat Downey’s Top 40 Music On CD site. If you subscribe to his database, you’ll find what CD’s contain the 45 versions, 45 lengths, 45 mixes. And, some 45 versions have never been released on CD. That’s when it’s time to invest in a turntable, quality cartridge and sound card and start dubbing vinyl.

  13. […] Here’s a real oddball, from the B-side of “Peace of Mind.” “Foreplay” is best known as the instrumental introduction to “Long Time” […]

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