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Hard to Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding
Hard to Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding
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5.0 out of 5 stars "...These Arms Of Mine..." - Hard To Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding (2012 Ace CD Compilation/Remasters), June 28, 2015
In the cleverly compiled and musically uplifting "Black America Sings..." series of CD compilations – so far Ace Records of the UK have done Bob Dylan ("How Many Roads"), The Beatles ("Come Together") and Sam Cooke ("Bring It On Home") – all with applause from the sceptics and the already converted. So it was always going to be the turn of the mighty Otis "Dock Of The Bay" Redding at some point in time – and 2012's "Hard To Handle" doesn’t disappoint. It even manages to pull off a bit of a coup by throwing a superb Previously Unreleased Take by the great man himself. Here are the dreams to remember...

UK released October 2012 – "Hard To Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding" on Ace CDCHD 1352 (Barcode 029667052627) is a 25-track CD compilation of Various Artists and pans out as follows (71:06 minutes):

1. These Arms Of Mine – ALBERT WASHINGTON & THE KINGS (1968 USA 7” single on Fraternity 1002, A - and March 1968 UK 7” single on President PT 182, A)
2. Sister Pitiful – JUDY CLAY (1969 USA 7” single on Atlantic 2669, A)
3. I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) – WILLIAM BELL (1967 USA LP "The Soul Of A Man" on Stax S 719)
4. Baby Cakes – MAXINE BROWN (1967 Wand recording first appeared on the 1985 UK LP "Like Never Before" (by Maxine Brown) on Kent 047)
5. Think About It – KING FLOYD (1973 USA 7” single on Chimneyville 446, A)
6. Shout Bamalama – MICKEY MURRAY (1967 USA 7” single on SSS International 715, A)
7. Security – IRMA THOMAS (Unissued 1968 Chess Recording finally released in July 1990 on the CD compilation "Something Good: The Muscle Shoals Sessions" on Chess CHD-93004)
8. I’ve Got Dreams To Remember – PERCY SLEDGE (on the "Blue Night" CD album from 1995 on Sky Ranch/Virgin France 7243 8398712 2)
9. Give Away None Of Your Love – BUDDY MILES (1971 USA 7” single on Mercury 73261, A and in the UK on Mercury 6052 127)
10. I’m Missing You – MITTY COLLIER (1969 Previously Unissued Chess Recording – First Release Here – 2012)
11. I Can’t Turn You Loose – JAMES CARR (1968 unfinished Goldwax Recording finally released on the 1977 Japan-Only LP "Freedom Train" on Vivid Sound VG 3006)
12. Chained And Bound – BETTYE SWANN (1969 USA LP "Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me?" on Capitol ST 270)
13. Just One More Day – CLARENCE CARTER (1975 USA LP "Loneliness & Temptation" on ABC Records ABCD 896)
14. Wholesome Love – ARTHUR CONLEY (1967 USA LP "Shake, Rattle & Roll" on Atco SD 33-215)
15. Hawg For You – TINA BRITT (1969 USA 7” single on Minit 32082, A – and – on the 1969 LP "Blue All The Way" on Minit LP 24023)
16. Loving By The Pound (Take 2) – OTIS REDDING (Previously Unissued Volt Recording, 2012)
17. Hard To Handle – PATTI DREW (1968 USA 7” single on Capitol 2339, A)
18. A Year, A Month And A day – ARTHUR CONLEY (Previously Unreleased 1968 Atco Recording, 2012)
19. Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) – LOU RAWLS (1968 USA LP "The Way It Was The Wait It Is" on Capitol ST-215)
20. Monkey On My Back – JACKIE HAIRSTON (1967 USA 7” single on Atco 6464, A)
21. Keep Pushing me – JAMES & BOBBY PURIFY (1966 Bell Recording first issued on the 2009 CD compilation "Shake A Tail Feather! The Best Of" on Sundazed SC 11096)
22. Good To Me – DONALD HEIGHT (1967 USA 7” single on Shout 223, A)
23. Respect – ARETHA FRANKLIN (1967 USA 7” single on Atlantic 2403, A)
24. (Sittin’ On The) Dock Of The Bay – THE STAPLE SINGERS (1969 USA 7” single on Stax 0031, A)
25. I Got The Will – ETTA JAMES (on the 1988 LP/CD "Seven Year Itch" issued in the UK on Island ILPS/CID 9923)
NOTES: Tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 11, 18, 20, 21 and 22 are MONO
Tracks 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12 to 17, 19 and 23 to 25 are STEREO

The beautifully-annotated 20-page booklet peppers the typically brilliant TONY ROUNCE paragraphs with publicity photos of Mickey Murray, Albert Washington, Irma Thomas, Bettye Swann, James Carr, Clarence Carter, Maxine Brown (on the cover of Blues & Soul Magazine in December 1967), Lou Rawls at Fame Studios in 1971, James & Bobby Purify, The Staple Singers, Arthur Conley and Rick Hall at the Fame Studios in the Autumn of 1966 - and so on. There is even a rare 7" picture sleeve of Buddy Miles and his "Give Away None Of Your Love" 45 from 1971 that I’m sure was promo-only (I’ve never seen it before). The audio is particularly strong. Long-standing mastertape engineer NICK ROBBINS has done the Remasters at Sound Mastering in London – and despite the differing sources – each song packs a punch - especially the cuts in Stereo which sound vital and full of that (largely Sixties) energy.

Otis’s style of guttural-blast one second and aching-ballad the next - virtually set up a template for Male 60ts Soul and most of these interpretations follow those styles (some slowing down the pace on fast songs or vice versa). While Aretha's "Respect" and The Staples Singers doing "Dock Of The Bay" are probably too overly familiar for most Soul fans - stuff like Tina Britt's fantastic chugger "Hawg For You" screams out to be rediscovered. There's clever choices too using 'later' recordings from the 70’s, 80s and 90s – Clarence Carter's unexpectedly touching version of "Just One More Day" from a 1975 ABC Records LP most people have long forgotten (and clearly shouldn’t have) as well as "I Got The Will" powered through by Etta James in 1988 (on Island Records) and most pleasing of all - a 90's Percy Sledge tackling "I've Got Dreams To Remember" - a rendition that oozes heart and not just well-produced style.

Amongst the 60ts stuff are names that will make most Soul aficionado hearts flutter a little faster – the great James Carr, Maxine Brown and Bettye Swann. Winners include a superb-sounding torch ballad by Mitty Collier on "I'm Missing You" (previously unreleased too) and a 1966 Bell Records recording of "Keep Pushing Me" by James And Bobby Purify (great 60ts guitar Funk). While I’ve already mentioned the driving groove of "Hawg For You" by Tina Britt – the Black Crowes come to mind when I hear Patti Drew's blistering funk of "Hard To Handle" (which the Crowes covered almost verbatim on their 1991 debut to such great effect). But one of the prizes on here for Redding collectors will surely be Take 2 of "Loving You By The Pound" which is new and exclusive to this set. As Otis never sang a song the same way twice – his slight vocal variations are fascinating. Although his vocal is storming – it still feels not up to his usual powerhouse performance and was probably why another Take was chosen as the master. Still – it’s a real find.

Another winner from Ace and a compilation I keep returning too. I suspect both Otis Redding and Soul Music fans will feel the same...

DVD ~ Yes
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5.0 out of 5 stars "...One To Seek And See In Every Light..." - Relayer: Definitive Edition CD+DVD-A by YES (2014 Panegyric/Steve Wilson Remaster), June 28, 2015
This review is from: Relayer (DVD)
After the incredible tape transfer and audio restoration work STEVE WILSON of PORCUPINE TREE did on the early catalogue remasters of KING CRIMSON and JETHRO TULL – the other big Proggy Monster was always going to be YES. I've heaped praise on Wilson's fabulous work on their 3rd breakthrough album from 1971 "The Yes Album" – but for many the beast was always going to be the dense and problematic "Relayer" from 1974 (for many their last truly great record). And as I deliriously stated before - man has our Stevie stepped up to the Topographic plate. This November 2014 CD and DVD-A Reissue (there’s also a CD and BLU RAY variant on Panegyric GYRBD50096 –Barcode 633367900623) is awesome stuff and worthy of the praise so far heaped on it. No harm then in a little more – because this is one 'Sound Chaser' you need in your 'Gates Of Delirium'…

UK released November 2014 – "Relayer: Definitive Edition CD + DVD-A" on Panegyric GYRSP50096 (Barcode 633367900524) breaks down as follows:

Disc 1, Definitive Edition CD, 2014 Stereo Mixes, 48:13 minutes:
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser [Side 2]
3. To Be Over
Tracks 1 to 3 are the vinyl LP "Relayer" – released December 1974 in the UK on Atlantic K 50096 and Atlantic SD 18122 in the USA

4. Soon (Single Edit) – issued as the A-side of a 7" single in the USA on Atlantic 45-3242 in January 1975. It runs to 4:14 minutes and is an excerpt of a slow passage towards the end of "The Gates Of Delirium" on Side 1. The edited "Sound Chaser" was its B-side.
5. Sound Chaser (Single Edit)
Note: Booklet mistakenly credits these as Tracks 7 and 8 when they’re 4 and 5. The two single edits appear to be the 2002 Rhino remasters (unaltered).

Disc 2 is the Definitive Edition DVD-A. It’s a NTSC Region 0 Hybrid DVD-A compatible with all DVD Players and DVD-ROM Drives. From the visual/audio menu on your television or computer - it allows you to choose from 4 menus:
1. 2014 STEREO MIX:
96 kHz Sample Rate/24 Bit Depth - MLP Lossless 2.0 Stereo Mix of the album

48 and 96 kHz Sample Rates/24 Bit Depth – LPCM 2.0 Original Stereo Mix (Flat Transfer of the album)

3. 2014 5.1 SURROUND MIX:
96 kHz Sample Rate/24 Bit Depth - DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Mix of the album

1. The Gates Of Delirium (Studio Run-Through)
2. Sound Chaser (Studio Run-Through)
3. To Be Over (Studio Run-Through)

A gatefold digipak with two see-through trays is housed within an outer card wrap/slipcase giving the reissue the same 'boxed' look as the two other Reissues in this Steve Wilson Remaster Series - "The Yes Album" and "Close To The Edge". It looks and feels classy - although I’d say that the spine on future issues should state more clearly which 'Definitive Edition' it is – CD and DVD or CD and BLU RAY?

CD to the left tray, DVD-A to the right and the 20-page booklet loose between them – each disc pictures the albums original ROGER DEAN label artwork - while the album’s inner gatefold is beneath the see-through tray for the CD with the Donald Lehmkuhl poem under the DVD-A tray to the left. The well-stocked 20-page booklet offers photos of rare 7” picture sleeves from France, Spain and US promo labels dotted through the text - as well as a lot of colour photos from the 1976 American "Relayer" Tour with the Crab Nebula set design by Martyn Dean. There are clusters of concert tickets, local posters for gigs (with Gryphon as the support act) and a Village Voice trade advert thanking Madison Square Gardens for a successful show. Lyrics are reproduced and there are detailed paragraphs on the 'audio sources' that explain how the new 2014 Stereo Mixes were made (some of the Battle sound effects in "The Gates Of Delirium" are missing from the master tapes) and the 5.1 Surround Mixes. As with "The Yes Album" and "Close To The Edge" – noted Prog Music lover and Writer SID SMITH gives us superb liner notes on the creation of the album. The artwork for the original vinyl album alone was a thing of beauty (gatefold sleeve and inner) - and cleverly both the booklet and the onscreen display for the DVD-A use a Roger Dean painting that wasn’t used on the original inner gatefold – a sort of squatting Relayer 'Fly' that bears a passing resemblance to the Fly creature that used to adorn the Motown Chartbuster LP covers of the early Seventies. Apart from that sloppy typo-error in the booklet re the track numbers on the CD - it’s all exemplary stuff…

Because of its density (particularly the near 20-minute opus "The Gates Of Delirium" on Side 1) – Yes's 8th studio album "Relayer" has always had a so-so reputation on original 1974 vinyl copies. The Rhino CD remaster of 2002 had a fair stab at it – but again many felt that it was still muddied in places. Wilson has no doubt been aware of these 40-year complaints and his 2014 Remix/Remaster can only be described as an awakening (if I might get so profound on a Tuesday) – a de-cluttering that will thrill fans of this brilliant Progressive Rock LP to the very core. I’m amazed at the clarity on offer here –in fact some portions of "Sound Chaser" and "To Be Over" are so clean that it’s almost disconcerting - not supressed nor trebled for effect – just treated with care and attention to transfer detail.

With the Jon Anderson (Vocals), Steve Howe (Guitars), Patrick Moraz (Keyboards), Chris Squire (Bass) and Alan White (Drums) line-up at the helm – there was a concerted effort by YES to get back to the glory of "Close To The Edge" after the slightly indulgent four long sides of 1973's "Tales From Topographic Oceans". Relistening to "The Gates Of Delirium" now (minus its Battle Sequence bits from some studio effects library LP) is a blast (can't say I missed the bits). If I was to identify one aspect that hammers home how good the 2014 version is – once again it’s the rhythm section of Squire and White. The drumming that rattles from speaker to speaker is amazingly clear - as are the perfectly playing bass parts – and this is even in the wild centre-passages where Howe and Moraz are letting rip on the Guitars and Keyboards. When that huge drum/keyboards break occurs at 12:53 – ushering in the musical repeat that finishes off the piece (just before the soothing "Soon" passage) – it’s power is utterly amazing (not to mention the playing).

The glory continues on Side 2. When Jon Anderson’s vocals first come in on the surprisingly lovely "To Be Over" – the wallop of them comes as something of a shock. And again you notice the clarity of the rhythm section – Chris Squire’s Bass and Alan White’s Drumming. Then there’s Howe’s wonderful Pedal Steel followed by Rock bursts on his axe that he never lets get out of control (this is Yes at their mad Proggy best). The big synth and moog tones flesh out the centre-passage as all the voices chant "...child like..." – Moraz getting his moment towards the end (clarity is amazing). And as all those guitars and synths erupt in that fabulous melodic last passage (joined slowly by complimentary voices) – I’m blubbing freshly minted Progster tears - newly moved.

I nipped round to my mate's house for a 5.1 Surround moment and 'Mother of God' was heard to be uttered on quite a few occasions – the dreamy soundscape that precedes "Soon" is gorgeous and full of space. The drumming that precedes the Guitar Break on “Sound Chaser” where Howe gets funky is whacking the speakers like it wants to start a fight. But I must admit I found the Flat Transfer just that – flat.

So there you have it. A genuine triumph. I can imagine that nowadays there’s probably a queue of Prog band’s sat outside Steve Wilson’s front porch clutching bags of master tapes – hoping to catch his eye as he exits for a latte and a croissant. And on the strength of this strangely groovy reissue – I can totally understand why…

Central Heating: Expanded Edition
Central Heating: Expanded Edition
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Mind Blowing Decisions..." - Central Heating - Expanded Version (2015 Big Break Records CD Remasters), June 16, 2015
Rod Temperton's HEATWAVE produced this winning 2nd LP in 1977 on Epic in the USA and (belatedly released 1978) on GTO Records in the UK. Despite its rather naff-looking cover – it spawned three huge hits – “Mind Blowing Decisions", "The Groove Line" and underground ballad "The Star Of The Story" (covered by George Benson on his 1980 "Give Me The Night" album).

UK released June 2015 – “Central Heating: Expanded Edition” by HEATWAVE on the UK’s Big Break Records CDBBRX 0316 (Barcode 5013929061637) heats up as follows (60:38 minutes):

1. Put The Word Out
2. Send Out For Sunshine
3. Central Heating
4. Happiness Togetherness
5. The Groove Line
6. Mind Blowing Decisions
7. The Star Of A Story
8. Party Poops
9. Leavin’ For A Dream
Tracks 1 to 9 are the LP “Central Heating” originally released July 1977 in the USA on Epic JC 35260 and April 1978 in the UK on GTO Records GTOLP 027

10. Wack That Axe
11. The Groove Line (12” Disco Version)
12. Mind Blowing Decisions (12” Disco Version)

Bonus Tracks - "Wack The Axe" is an outtake from the "Central Heating" LP sessions that finally turned up as a non album track B-side to "Jitterbuggin'" on the GTO 12" single of 1981 - the other two are American 12" Disco Versions of the funky "The Groove Line" and the wonderful Johnny Wilder gem "Mind Blowing Decisions".

The CD is beautifully remastered by NICK ROBBINS at London's Sound Mastering (a hugely proficient Remaster Engineer who does a lot of work for Ace Records of the UK). The 12-page booklet has detailed and informative liner notes by CHRISTIAN JOHN WIKANE - a NYC-based writer and lover of Soul Music. The usual classy presentation from BBR...

DJs have long lusted after the US 12" single of "Mind Blowing Decisions" on Epic 28-50597 (released August 1978) because it extends the album cut from 4:19 minutes to a tasty 7:32 minutes giving you a wicked sort of Reggae Groove in the runout passage before it returns to the slinky tune and smooth vocals... The funk marathon of "The Groove Line" is equally brilliant in its extended form.

Fans of Rod Temperton (famously wrote large chunks of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" LP) should note that he penned "Put the Word Out", "Send Out For Sunshine", "Central Heating", "The Groove Line", "The Star of The Story", "Party Poops" and "Leavin' For A Dream" while Johnny Wilder wrote the two singles "Happiness Together" and "Mind Blowing Decisions".

The entire album isn't genius - but the great Audio, tasty presentation and those Soul Funk nuggets make it a must buy for fans...

PS: I’ve also reviewed these Big Break Records releases on CD – all quality remasters:
1. Hot Property – HEATWAVE (1979)
2. Candles - HEATWAVE (1980)
3. Turnin’ On – HIGH INERGY (1977)
4. Harvest For The World - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1976)
5. Go For Your Guns - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1977)
6. I Hope We Get To Love On Time – MARILYN McCOO & BILLY DAVIS (1976)
7. I Miss You - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1972) [known as "Harold Melvin The Blue Notes" in the UK]
8. Black & Blue - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1973)
9. Love Is The Message - MFSB (1973)
10. All The Faces Of... - BUDDY MILES (1974)
11. I Can See Clearly Now - JOHNNY NASH (1972)
12. In Philadelphia - O'JAYS (1969)
14. Back Stabbers - O'JAYS (1972)
14. Ship Ahoy - O'JAYS (1973)
15. Ebony Woman - BILLY PAUL (1970 and 1973)
16. 360 Degrees Of Billy Paul - BILLY PAUL (1972)
17. War Of The Gods - BILLY PAUL (1973)
18. Love For What It Is – ANITA POINTER (of The Pointer Sisters) (1987)
19. Smoked Sugar - SMOKED SUGAR (1975)
20. Involved – EDWIN STARR (1971)
21. Switch – SWITCH (1978)
22. Just As I Am - BILL WITHERS (1971) [debut LP on Sussex/A&M Records]

Summernights: Expanded Edition
Summernights: Expanded Edition
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "...Dancing In The Streets..." - Summernights by SILVER CONVENTION (2015 Big Break Records Expanded Version CD Remaster), June 16, 2015
Formed in Germany in 1974 just before the Disco explosion took Europe, the USA and the World by storm in 1976 and 1977 - the three ladies of SILVER CONVENTION were essentially a front vocal group for the songwriting of Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze - sort of Europe's answer to Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers.

Lead by New Yorker vocalist Rhonda Heath (Penny McLean and Roman Wulf were the other two) - the musical mix of American Bass-Driven Funk with Euro Strings taking centre-stage over the backbeat gave Silver Convention their hugely commercial radio-friendly sound.

The "Summernights" album (called "Golden Girls" in the USA and Australia) was originally released May 1977 on Jupiter Records 280966-OT (Tracks 1 to 9 on the CD). This June 2015 British CD Remaster on Big Break Records CDBBR 0284 (Barcode 5013929058439) features a new NICK ROBBINS Remaster done in London's Sound Mastering that's amazingly clear and full of life and pluck. There are also two BONUS TRACKS - "Telegram (Single Version)" which cuts down from the album track from 5:33 to 3:00 minutes - and "Ain't It Like A Hollywood Movie (12" Disco Version)" which extends the LP cut from 5:08 to 7:41 minutes.

You get the usual classy-looking 12-page booklet from BBR - this time with photos of the ladies in their Disco refinery, rare European 7" single picture sleeves and detailed/informed liner notes by THOMAS DEL POZO - a writer and researcher based in Toronto (who thanks Rhonda Heath for her recollections). The Expanded CD runs to 50:54 minutes.

The full album cut of "Hotshot" (issued as an edited 7" single) boogies along for six minutes and is just the kind of groovy Funk-with-Strings High Energy number those disc-spinning jocks love. You wouldn't quite say it was CHIC - more a Three Degrees by way of Philly variant. In fact stuff like "Wolfchild" would have been on an MFSB album just without the vocals. "Telegram" is very cheesy Abba Eurovision fodder (the song represented Germany in 1977 and finished in 8th place) - better is the Disco vibe to "Ain't It Like A Hollywood Movie".

"Summernights" is not all brilliant by any stretch of the imagination - but fans of High Energy and Euro Disco with Strings will love the quality Audio and decent presentation...
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Kicking Back
Kicking Back
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4.0 out of 5 stars "...Trippin' In..." - Kicking Back by JOE HOUSTON (2015 Ace/Beat Goes Public CD Remaster), June 16, 2015
This review is from: Kicking Back (Audio CD)
Texas Saxophonist JOE HOUSTON was 51 in 1978 when he recorded the long-forgotten and overlooked "Kicking Back" LP for Big Town Records - a Los Angeles based label run by Jules Bihari of Fifties Modern Records fame. In fact Houston's younger talents formed a band in the late Forties for none other than Atlantic Records legend Big Joe Turner (Turner's first recordings for Freedom). But those glory days were long behind Houston when he came to record this mixture of old Rhythm 'n' Blues married with Saxophone Funk and Blues Guitar.

In some ways Big Town Records felt like the graveyard for old guys trying to get a new break in the post Disco world - so their LPs got ignored at the time and deleted quickly. Decades later DJs in the USA and UK began to plunder these late Seventies recordings for anything that contained Deep Funk Grooves - and on certain cuts like the two-part title track - they found what they were looking for. And that's where this CD reissue comes boppin' in. Here are Tenor Trippin' details...

UK released May 2015 (June 2015 in the USA) - Ace/Beat Goes Public CDBGPM 292 (Barcode 029667529228) is a straightforward CD reissue (mid-price) of the 1978 LP "Kicking Back" by Joe Houston on Big Town Records BT 1004 - produced by Jules Bihari and Joe Houston. All songs are Houston/Bihari originals with Bihari credited under the pseudonym Jules Taub. The 8-page liner notes are by noted writer and genre-expert DEAN RUDLAND - a name that's been on a huge number of quality CD Reissues. The CD has been superbly remastered from first generation master tapes by NICK ROBBINS at Sound Mastering in London and plays out as follows (34:36 minutes):

1. Hawaiian Disco
2. T-Bone Disco
3. Mr. Big "H"
4. Baby What You Want Me To Do
5. Trippin' In [Side 2]
6. Why Don't You Rock Me
7. Kicking Back Part 1
8. Kicking Back Part 2

JOE HOUSTON - Tenor & Soprano saxophone
LARRY JOHNSON - Guitar & Bass
TED BUTLER - Guitar & Bass
BO RHAMBO - Alto & Tenor Saxophone
FREDDY CLARK - Baritone & Tenor Saxophone

The Audio is amazing - full of punch and vigour - very well done and DJs will love it. The album opens badly with two very dated tunes sounding like cod Rock 'n' Roll - both with the word "Disco" in them (the pair are best left alone I'm afraid). Track 3 on Side 1 however is different. Had the album opened with "Mr. Big "H"" you might have felt you'd stumbled on a forgotten monster that somehow slipped out of the James Brown school of Funk without anyone noticing. A wicked driving bass and flicky guitar rhythm section back up Houston as he gives it some JBs Saxophone stabs and jabs - blasting away for five minutes duration with a superb BB King type guitar solo half way through (a bit of a winner frankly - man would this be cool on a 12" single). We go straight into old time Rhythm `n' Blues with the vocals of "Baby What You Want Me To Do" where Houston sounds like 1978 Chuck Berry.

Side 2 opens with another potential discovery - the near six-minute instrumental "Trippin' In" - a chugging Bluesy piece peppered with funky Houston soloing. The three-minute "Why Don't You Rock Me" is more of the same - grooving R&B with tasty fills and a classy George Benson-type guitar solo. The album finishes with the two parts of the title track - and immediately it goes for the dancefloor jugular by upping the tempo into a frantic pace. Both parts of "Kicking Back" feature a funky wah-wah guitar against a driving drum backing that's overlaid by wild Houston soloing - Mr. H going at it like James Brown is going to fine him any minute for missing a beat. Both parts are irresistible DJ bate and you can so hear why these tracks on the album have been sought after...

So there you have it - it's not all Funky Nirvana by any means - but the good stuff is worth seeking out/owning. And in this great Audio quality - Joe Houston's "Kicking Back" is yet another clever choice by those fingers-on-the-pulse bods in England's Ace Records...

Pied Piper - Follow Your Soul
Pied Piper - Follow Your Soul
Price: $20.59
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5.0 out of 5 stars "...More Than A Memory..." - Pied Piper: Follow Your Soul (2015 Ace/Kent-Soul CD Remasters), June 16, 2015
A companion volume to 2013's Various Artists CD compilation "Pied Piper Presents A New Concept In Detroit Soul" on Kent-Soul CDKEND 389 - Ace's second-instalment is 2015's "Pied Piper: Follow Your Soul" which serves up 24 more slices of quality 60ts Soul originally on Giant, Karate, RCA Victor and Kapp Records - 10 of which are Previously Unreleased. A typically classy affair from England's Ace Records (on their Kent-Soul label imprint) - let's get to the two-timing hip-shaking voodoo-woman details right away (baby)...

UK released May 2015 (June 2015 in the USA) - "Pied Piper: Follow Your Soul" is a CD compilation on Ace/Kent Soul CDKEND 429 (Barcode 029667242929) and plays out as follows (59:22 minutes):

1. Voo Doo Madamoiselle - SEPTEMBER JONES (Pied Piper 003, 2014)
2. He'll Be Leaving You - NANCY WILCOX (Previously Unreleased Until 2015, Recorded 21 July 1966)
3. You Only Live Twice (Alternate) - LORRAINE CHANDLER (Previously Unreleased Until 2015)
4. Could It Be You - SHARON SCOTT (1966 USA 7" Single on RCA Victor 47-8907, A)
5. Ooh It Hurts Me (Alternate) - THE CAVALIERS (Previously Unreleased Until 2015, Recorded 23 February 1967)
6. I Need Your Love - THE DYNAMICS (1967 USA 7" Single on RCA Victor 47-9084, A)
7. Watch Yourself - TONY HESTER (1966 USA 7" single on Giant G-707, A)
8. Love Will Find A Way - HARRY GATES (Previously Unreleased Until 2015)
9. They Say I'm Afraid (Of Losing You) - FREDDY BUTLER (from the 1967 LP "With A Dab Of Soul" on Kapp Records KL-1519)
10. Lost Without You - LORRAINE CHANDLER (Previously Unreleased Until 2015, Recorded 15 December 1966)
11. Wait A Minute - THE HESITATIONS (on the 1967 Mono LP "Soul Superman" on Kapp Records KL-1525)
12. Love Sick - THE PIED PIPER PLAYERS (Previously Unreleased Until 2015, Recorded 22 July 1966)
13. No More Love - SEPTEMBER JONES (1967 USA 7" Single on Kapp Records K-802, A)
14. Set My Heart At Ease - MIKKI FARROW (1966 USA 7" Single on Karate 524, B-side to "Could It Be")
15. More Than A Memory - NANCY WILCOX Previously Unreleased Until 2015, Recorded 21 July 1966)
16. Without Someone To Tell Me - THE CAVALIERS (Previously Unreleased Until 2015, Recorded 18 July 1966)
17. It's Right Now - THE METROS (1969 USA 7" single on Sepia 3, A, credited to Joe Buckman)
18. Love Is Not A Game - SAM E SOLO (1965 USA 7" single on Ruby 5075, A)
19. What Can I Do - LORRAINE CHANDLER (1966 USA 7" Single on Giant G-703, A)
20. You Better Know Why - SEPTEMBER JONES (Kent 6T 30, 2014)
21. You Don't Know Me Do You - THE METROS (Previously Unreleased Until 2015, Recorded 23 February 1967)
22. Hold To My Baby - THE PIED PIPER PLAYERS (Previously Unreleased Until 2015, Recorded 18 July 1968)
23. That's What Love Is - HESITATIONS (on the 1967 Mono LP "Soul Superman" on Kapp Records KL-1525)
24. Give Me Lots Of Lovin' - FREDDY BUTLER (from the 1967 LP "With A Dab Of Soul" on Kapp Records KL-1519)

Compiled by genre-expert and Soul Music aficionado ADY CROASDELL - the 16-page booklet features his typically indepth and affection musings on these deep Soul Sides which have remained for so many years covered in mystery (with thanks to Matt Baker, Robb Klein, Andy Rix and Dave Welding). The liner notes have dug deep too - local newspapers of the time have been scoured and tiny adverts for live shows have been found for Freddie Butler at Little Sam's Grand Bar and The Cavaliers at Mr. Kelley's Ballroom. Other pages show Acetates on United, White Label Demos of American 45's on RCA Victor and a repro of Detroit's WJLB Radio 'Flaming 30 Survey' with honourable mentions of The Metros. There are ultra-rare black and white publicity photos of Sharon Scott, Nancy Wilcox, The Dynamics, Mikki Farrow and a cool colour snap of The Hesitations. The inside inlay pictures a label repro of Mikki Farrow's "Set My Heart At Ease" on Karate Records.

The remastering has been handled by long-time Ace associate and Engineer NICK ROBBINS and the Audio is fantastic right across the Mono board (all but Track 12 are in Mono - 12 is Stereo).

Pied Piper Productions was formed by musician and songwriter Jack Ashford along with businessman Shelley Haims and Promoter Gerard Purcell - all three of them having connections with session musicians at Motown and licensing contacts with the major labels. Their own imprint Giant Records managed a few releases - but most are now ludicrously rare and expensive on original vinyl. The compilation opens on a winner - "Voo Doo Madamoiselle" by September Jones where a woman all dressed in black with hypnotizing eyes and a cadillac are after her man (don't you hate them sorts). The Nancy Wilcox unreleased track "He'll Be Leaving You" is good but the Alternate of Lorraine Chandler's Bond cover "You Only Live Twice" is cheesy rather than tasty. But all that small potatoes gets slaughtered by an absolute Northern Soul monster - "Could It Be You" by the gorgeous Sharon Scott (from Harrisburg in Pennsylvania). You can literally see the dancefloors of Northern England exploding into joy ten seconds into this fabulous slice of Sixties Soul. Thinking it can't get any better - it only bloody does with no less than a double-whammy of Northern Soul floorfillers "Ooh it Hurts Me" (Alternate) and "I Need Your Love" from The Cavaliers and The Dynamics.

Another gorgeous groover with superb backing vocals is "Wait A Minute" by The Hesitations - a hidden gem on their uber-desirable "Soul Superman" album from 1967 on Kapp Records (the Mono cut is used here). Hesitations Frontman Freddy Butler puts in a blinder on "They Say I'm Afraid (Of Losing You)" - a sweet mid-tempo stroller written in part by three of the Funk Brothers (Joe Hunter, Bob Babbit and Eddie Willis). Speaking of gorgeous Soul - September Jones puts in a beautifully delicate performance on the lovely "No More Love" - the kind of 45 bound to elicit frenzied bidding on eBay (should a copy turn up). Lyrics from Sam E Solo's "Love Is Not A Game" title this review while Lorraine Chandler's "What Can I Do" is just glorious Northern Soul - pure and simple. Another wicked dancer is "Without Someone To Tell Me" by The Cavaliers featuring an irrepressible beat backed up with fuzz guitar. "It's Right Now" by The Metros is probably the closest to Motown and the whole glorious compilation ends on Freddy Butler's "Give Me Lots Of Lovin'" - the perfect slice of talcum-powdered 2:22 minutes.

Ace's label Kent-Soul has built up a ludicrously high reputation over the years amongst Soul lovers and rabid collectors - but once again they've dumfounded us all by going one rung higher on a ladder that seems to have no ceiling. Follow Your Soul indeed. An absolute belter of a compilation - congrats to all involved...

Charley Pride  -  Songs Of PrideCharlie That Is/The Sensational Charley Pride/In Person/Just Plain Charley
Charley Pride - Songs Of PrideCharlie That Is/The Sensational Charley Pride/In Person/Just Plain Charley
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Songs Of Pride...Charley That Is/In Person/The Sensational/Just Plain Charley by CHARLEY PRIDE (2015 Beat Goes On 2CD Remasters), June 16, 2015
Between 1966 and 1989 crooner Charley Pride clocked up a staggering 67 hits (including 23 number ones) on the American charts. But what’s really mind-blowing is that he was a Black Man from Mississippi doing straight-up White Man’s Country who once played Baseball for the Memphis Red Sox. Pride is possessed of a great voice – warm, expressive and full of effortless emotion – and even if the material he picked sometimes veered towards the maudlin and the middle-of-the-road – he could imbibe a song with a sort of Soulfulness that was rare.

This superb-sounding May 2015 2CD set from England’s Beat Goes On Records on BGOCD 1181 (Barcode 5017261211811) offers up 4 RCA Victor Country albums from the late Sixties and early Seventies onto 2CDs – newly remastered by ANDREW THOMPSON in the UK. Here are the heartache details...

Disc 1 (64:29 minutes):
1. Someday You Will
2. She Made Me Go
3. The Right To Do Wrong
4. The Easy Part’s Over
5. The Day You Stopped Loving Me
6. I Could Have Saved You The Time
7. One Of These Days [Side 2]
8. All The Time
9. My Heart Is A House
10. Let Me Help You Work It Out
11. Both of Us Love You
12. The Top Of The World
Tracks 1 to 12 are the LP “Songs Of Pride...Charley That Is” – released 1968 in the USA on RCA Victor LSP-4041

13. Intro By Bo Powell
14. The Last Thing On My Mind
15. Just Between You And Me
16. I Know One
17. Dialogue
18. Lovesick Blues
19. The Image Of Me
20. Kaw-Liga
21. Shutters And Boards [Side 2]
22. Six Days On The Road
23. Streets Of Baltimore
24. Got Leavin’ On Her Mind
25. Crystal Chandeliers
26. Cotton Fields
Tracks 13 to 26 are the Live Album “In Person” – released 1969 in the USA on RCA Victor LSP-4094

Disc 2 (61:20 minutes):
1. Louisiana Man
2. She Still Got A Hold On You
3. Let The Chips Fall
4. Come On Home And Sing The Blues To Daddy
5. Never More Than I
6. Let Me Live Again
7. Take Care Of The Little Things [Side 2]
8. Even After Everything She’s Done
9. (It’s Just A Matter Of) Making Up My Mind
10. It’s The Little Things
11. Billy Bayou
12. We Had All The Good Things Going
Tracks 1 to 12 are album “The Sensational Charley Pride” released 1969 in the USA on RCA Victor LSP-4153

13. Me And Bobby McGee
14. A Good Chance Of Tear-Fall Tonight
15. One Time
16. (I’m So) Afraid Of Losing You Again
17. A Brand New Bed Of Roses
18. That’s Why I Love You So Much
19. If You Only Taken The Time [Side 2]
20. Gone, Gone, Gone
21. Happy Street
22. I’m A Lonesome Fugitive
23. It’s All Right
Tracks 13 to 23 are the album “Just Plain Charley” released 1970 on RCA Victor LSP-4290

There’s a classy card wrap on the outside and the chunky 20-page booklet features typically indepth and warm liner notes from noted Musicologist JOHN TOBLER. You get full album annotation (including original liner notes), black and white photos of Charley live, in the studio at the microphone, side profile publicity shots and even a letter from Dallas Frazer (1973) on the rear page congratulating Charley on his musical achievements. But the big news for fans is remasters by long-time Engineer ANDREW THOMPSON at Sound Performance in London from licensed Sony mastertapes. The original top-quality Production values of CHET ATKINS, FELTON JARVIS and JACK CLEMENT who did the songs at RCA’s Nashville Studios is in full evidence – this is beautifully recorded stuff and the remaster brings out that presence. Even the ‘live’ albums which I’d expected to be thinny sounding is in fact amazing – full of air and breath and the warmth of his voice with the crowd loving it. Quality all the way on the presentation front...

Each song is steeped in that Nashville Country template – a pedal steel starts proceedings – the shuffle kicks in and then the lyrics begin to weep and moan about gals who break hearts, homes and horses – and none of it is the men’s fault (except for their endless womanising, gambling and drinking – they’re perfect examples of husbandhood). Highlights include the permission-to-legally-mess-around song “The Right To Do Wrong” and the piano-based ballad “Let Me Help You Work It Out” where Charley is offering his shoulder to some lady (what a guy). As I said earlier you’d think the ‘live’ set would be pure contract filler – but it’s beautifully recorded and features little duplication with the “Songs Of Pride...” album. On his lovely cover of Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing On My Mind” his voice is effortless and the band’s superb steel player greeted with whoops. Disc 2 continues with “Louisiana Man” and a contemporary take on the Kris Kristofferson/Fred Foster classic “Me And Bobby McGee” while Bob Luman did “Come On Home And Sing The Blues To Daddy”. “(I’m So) Afraid Of Losing You Again” was a chart topper for him in 1970.

Fans will need to own this 2CD set – great audio and quality presentation – Beat Goes On of the UK does it again...

PS: for some reason the track lists provided by Amazon are completely wrong. See my track lists provided above...

Grand Funk
Grand Funk
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4.0 out of 5 stars "...Inside Looking Out..." - Grand Funk by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD (2002 Capitol Expanded CD Remaster), June 16, 2015
This review is from: Grand Funk (Audio CD)
With their debut "On Time" released only months earlier in August 1969 (a slow burner that eventually charted in October and rose to Number 27) - their second platter simply called "Grand Funk" followed only months later at the tail end of December 1969 - days away from the beginning of the new decade. Capitol Records saw their investment in Michigan's finest deliver a Number 11 placing on the Rock LP charts - and hearing its heavier than lead-piping tunes in 2015 (a mere 45 years after the event) - it's easy to hear why "Grand Funk" with its garish 'red' cover was both lauded and derided in equal measure (much like the band itself really in certain quarters). But I'd argue if you want gutsy Hard Rockling American Rock `n' Roll - then there's a lot to love about GRAND FUNK RAILROAD. And featuring two rather excellent Bonus Tracks with sympathetic 24-bit Digital Remastering - this still-as-cheap-as-chips CD remaster is a fantastic way into this most American of Boogie bands. Here are the hard-hitting details...

Released November 2002 - the CD Reissue/Remaster "Grand Funk" on Capitol 5393812 (Barcode 724353938123) breaks down as follows (59:46 minutes):

1. Got This Feeling On The Move
2. Please Don't Worry
3. High Falootin' Woman
4. Mr. Limousine Driver
5. In Need [Side 2]
6. Winter And My Soul
7. Paranoid
8. Inside Looking Out
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 2nd album "Grand Funk" - released January 1970 in the USA on Capitol SW 406 and February 1970 in the UK on Capitol E-ST 307

BONUS TRACKS (both Previously Unreleased):
9. Nothing is The Same (Demo)
10. Mr. Limousine Driver (Extended Version)
Track 9 (along with most of the album) was recorded on 20 October 1969 and is an early attempt at a song that would eventually surface on their 3rd LP "Closer To Home" in June of 1970. This early-take features a different arrangement and Don Brewer on vocals in the middle section.
Track 10 is a 2002 Remix with Alternate Guitar and an Extended Ending

The 12-page booklet is a rather visually pleasing affair - a centre-page spread of Ticket Stubs, Fillmore East Posters and Hand Flyers, uber rare Japanese 7" Single Picture Sleeves and even Studio Track Sheets. Beneath the see-through plastic tray is a picture of their 2nd-only British 45 for "Inside Looking Out" in its Capitol Records label bag. It was belatedly released in good old Blighty in January 1971 on Capitol CL 15668 with "Paranoid" as its B-side (I believe it played at 33 1/3 because of its lengthy playing time). The informative, witty and affectionate liner notes are by STEVE ROESER feature interviews with the band's main men MARK FARNER (who wrote all the songs) and DON BREWER.

MARK FARNER - Guitar, Piano, Harmonica & Vocals
DON BREWER - Drums And Vocals

The CD remaster on all of their early albums was always going to be tricky - notoriously recorded with no sense of audiophile - but every sense of 'how it feels'. This is down 'n' dirty American Rock with hiss levels that takes no prisoners. EVREN GOKNAR has 24-bit remastered from original tapes and while the hiss is still there - he's given more muscle to the overall sound. These tracks come at you with renewed power - not dampened down - but allowed to breath. The all-over-the-place vocals are there - as are the guitar/drum combos - and keyboard interludes - but with more punch. It's well done.

It opens with the "baby let the good times roll" of "Got This Thing On The Move" - a funky groover with a huge Bass Line and fuzzed-up guitar. Things slink into Free territory with "Please Don't Worry" with Brewer's cymbals and drum kit way up in the mix. Capitol put out the double-boogie-commercial "High Falootin' Woman" as the flip of the equally catchy "Mr. Limousine Driver" on Capitol 2691 in November 1969 - weeks before the album's late December release (it scraped the Top 100 at Number 97). The audio on both tracks is wickedly good even if the solo guitar separation on "Mr. Limousine Driver" is pretty harsh.

The near 8-minute "In Need" has always been a fave of mine sounding not unlike the Faces circa "Long Player" (dig that natty little Harmonica/Bass battle half way through followed by great grunge guitar). The Funksters get a bit Bluesy on "Winter And My Soul" - even if the vocals let the vocal down somewhat. Another near 8-minute chugger comes in the shape of "Paranoid" where our boys notice "men outside...come to take you away..." (and with the amount of drugs they were doing - that was probably true). It ends on the 10-minute monster "Inside Looking Out" which features the best vocal on the album.

The Bonus Material may seem lean at only two cuts - but they're both worth owning. "Nothing is The Same" is an early version of a track that would eventually surface on album No. 2 "Close To Home" in June 1970. Audio and structure-wise it feels pretty much the same as the album material - guitars harshly in the left while the drums and vocals linger on the right and centre. The extended "Mr. Limousine Driver" adds on another minute at 5:29 duration and sounds incredible - much cleaner and just as driving with that great guitar boogie in the left channel. That same guitar goes into wild soloing towards the run out...

So there you have it. "Grand Funk" won't be everyone's cup of Darjeeling for damn sure but that's the nature of 'awkward' bands I always feel (Marmite really - love it or hate it). Derided by critics and beloved by fans in equal measure - Grand Funk Railroad were huge back in the day and on the evidence of this cool little reissue - it's easy to hear why...

California Nights
California Nights
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Treat Me Like A Lady..." - California Nights with Bonus Tracks by LESLEY GORE (2015 Ace CD Remasters), June 16, 2015
This review is from: California Nights (Audio CD)
What you get here is Lesley Gore's much-acclaimed upbeat pop album "California Nights" from 1967 (a 10-track LP in Stereo) - along with a generous 15 bonus tracks. Amongst the fifteen are 10 cuts from the 12-track 1965 LP "All About Love" that preceded "California Nights" - two cuts from the November 1965 LP "My Town, My Guy & Me" - and finally 3 unreleased rarities from the 1995 Bear Family 5CD Box Set "It's My Party". There's a lot of smooching and crooning to get through - so once more unto the party dresses...

UK released May 2015 (June 2015 in the USA) - "California Nights with Bonus Tracks" by LESLEY GORE on Ace CDCHD 1439 (Barcode 029667071826) pans out as follows (59:58 minutes):

1. California Nights
2. Treat Me Like A Lady
3. Bad
4. I'm Going Out (The Same Way I Came In)
5. Maybe Now
6. Love Goes on Forever [Side 2]
7. Off And Running
8. Lilacs And Violets
9. The Bubble Broke
10. Cry Like A Baby
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "California Nights" - released May 1967 in the USA on Mercury Records MG 21120 (Mono) and Mercury SR 61120 (Stereo) - the Stereo Mix is used

11. My Town, My Guy And Me
12. Let Me Dream
Tracks 11 and 12 from the November 1965 USA LP "My Town, My Guy & Me" on Mercury Records MG 21042 (Mono) and Mercury SR 61042 (Stereo) - the Stereo Mixes are used

13. Start The Party Again
14. I Won't Love You Anymore (Sorry)
15. I Just Can't Get Enough Of You
16. To Know Him Is To Love Him
17. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
18. Only Last Night
19. With Any Other Girl
20. I Can Tell
21. We Know We're In Love
Tracks 13 to 21 and 23 are 10 cuts from the 12-track album "All About Love" - released 1965 in the USA on Mercury MG 21066 (Mono) and Mercury SR 61066 (Stereo) - the Stereo Mixes are used. The two missing songs are "Young Love" and "Too Young" (from Side 1)

22. Yeh, Yeh, Yeh (That Boy Of Mine) (1965 recording that first turned up in 1995 on the 5CD Leslie Gore Box Set "It's My Party" on Bear Family BCD 15742)
23. That's What I'll Do (as per 13 to 21)
24. Happiness is Just Around The Corner (as per 22)
25. Hold Me Tight (as per 22)

Ace is renowned as a reissue label of some 40 years repute for decent booklets - but you have to say that the 16-page fan-fest presented here is exceptional (even by their high standards). Every page is beautifully done - those US and British 45s on Mercury Records, the rare American picture sleeves for "My Town, My Guy And Me" and "I Won't Love You Anymore (Sorry)", pictures of Lesley in the studio with her songwriting brother Michael and Producer Bob Crewe (Quincy Jones handled tracks 7, 8 and 10), Billboard trade adverts from 1966, publicity snaps in colour and black and white - there's even an advert for her performance of "California Nights" with Cat Woman on the Batman Show on the 19 January 1967 on ABC-TV (nice). MALCOLM BAUMGART gives an overview of her career and a very tasty track-by-track breakdown of what's what. It's properly gorgeous and informative. NICK ROBBINS - long-standing Remaster Engineer for Ace and countless others - does the honours on the tapes and the audio is amazing - wads of lovely Stereo - strings and girly vocals clobbering your ears in a sort of uncluttered non Phil Spector way.

The album was preceded by two cracking 45s - the very Monkees-esque "Treat Me Like A Lady" b/w "Maybe Now" in September 1966 on Mercury 72611 - a chart winner if ever there was one. It was followed in January 1967 by "California Nights" b/w "I'm Going Out (The Same Way I Came In)" on Mercury 72649. It seems odd now that the truly lovely "Treat Me Like A Lady" failed to dent the Top 50 - at least the title track climbed to 16 in March 1967 - a good prep for the LP that followed shortly after. Along with "Treat Me Like A Lady" Bob Crewe provided co-writes on "Bad", "I'm Going Out (The Same Way I Came In)", "Love Goes On Forever" and "The Bubble Broke". Carole Bayer gave Lesley Gore "Off And Running" while another brilliant songwriting lady Valerie Simpson stumped up "Cry Like A Baby" with her partner Nicky Ashford. The style is very much girl-group melodrama - but with an American slant on Dusty Springfield's street savvy. Lesley showed swooning skill herself by penning the pretty "Maybe Now" with her brother Michael ("painfully he left his mark on me...").

I have to admit that by the time you've waded through the "California Nights" album another fifteen breezy string-laden productions about guys, parties and other girls with ideas on your man - can all be a bit much. However her version of Spector's "To Know Him Is To Love Him" and the Carole King/Gerry Goffin Shirelles hit "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" both stand out as does the unreleased Van McCoy tune "Happiness is Just Around The Corner" (one of three from the massive Bear Family Box Set of 1995).

Ace have also issued "Magic Colors: The Lost Album" (Ace CDCHD 1307) and "Girl Talk" (Ace CDCHD 1383) for Gore fans to slaver over - and this beautifully presented audio winner is a proud addition...

A Salty Dog
A Salty Dog
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4.0 out of 5 stars "...All This...And More..." - A Salty Dog: 40th Anniversary Edition by PROCOL HARUM (2009 Salvo Expanded CD Remaster), June 16, 2015
This review is from: A Salty Dog (Audio CD)
With a name loosely based around a Burmese Blue Cat - Procol Harum and their droning melodrama has always been something of an acquired taste - beloved and derided in equal measure. But there's no doubting that there's properly great tunes on their 3rd album for EMI's Regal Zonophone Records. "A Salty Dog" saw the three songwriters in the band all step up with the moody goodies - singer Gary Brooker, keyboard player Matthew Fisher and ace-axeman Robin Trower. There are also six worthy bonuses on this 40th Anniversary Celebration CD chosen by Gary Brooker (mostly the LP-line-up band in fine form on an American Tour in April 1969). Here are the squint-eyed seafaring details...

UK released May 2009 - "A Salty Dog: 40th Anniversary Edition" on Salvo SALVOCD 020 (Barcode 698458812025) breaks down as follows (67:52 minutes):

1. A Salty Dog
2. The Milk Of Human Kindness
3. Too Much Between Us
4. The Devil Came From Kansas
5. Boredom
6. Juicy John Pink [Side 2]
7. Wreck Of The Hesperus
8. All This And More
9. Crucifiction Lane
10. Pilgrim's Progress
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 3nd album "A Salty Dog" - released June 1969 in the UK on Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1009 (Stereo) and in the USA on A&M Records SP-4179. It peaked on the UK charts at 27 and 32 in America.

11. Lone Gone Geek - non-album track, B-side to "A Salty Dog" released May 1969 in the UK as a 7" single on Regal Zonophone RZ 3019
12. Goin' Down Slow (Live In The USA, April 1969)
13. Juicy John Pink (Live In The USA, April 1969)
14. Crucifiction Lane (Live In The USA, April 1969)
15. Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)/Also Sprach Zarathustra (Live In The USA, April 1969)
16. The Milk Of Human Kindness (Take 1; Raw Track)

GARY BROOKER - Lead Vocals, Piano, Celeste Three Stringed Guitar, Harmonica Recorder and Woods
MATTHEW FISHER - Organ, Vocals, Marimba, Acoustic Guitar, Piano Recorder and Rhythm Guitar
ROBIN TROWER - Lead Guitar, Vocal, Acoustic Guitar and Sleigh Tambourine
BARRIE WILSON - Drums, Conga Drums and Tabla
KEITH REID - Lyrics on all 10 tracks

Along with Lyricist Keith Reid - Gary Brooker provided "A Salty Dog", "The Milk Of Human Kindness", "The Devil Came From Kansas" and "All This And More" - while Robin Trower penned "Too Much Between Us" and "Juicy John Pink" with Matthew Fisher writing the remaining three - "Boredom" (a co-write with Brooker), "Wreck Of The Hesperus" and the album finisher "Pilgrim's Progress". The fold-out three-way oversized card sleeve has tasty black and white photos of band members (taken by Peter Sanders) and a reproduced letter by Alan White of Northumberland to the Melody Maker newspaper of 26 July 1969 bemoaning the lack of public interest in "A Salty Dog" and urging said punters to "...go out and buy it!"

The 20-page booklet is a sophisticated affair - liner notes by HENRY SCOTT-IRVINE that go into each track - there's trade adverts from various musical newspapers, a Regal Zonophone British label bag that actually advertises the December 1968 "Shine On Brightly" LP (along with the Move's latest), superb pictures of the 7" single for "A Salty Dog" from Germany, Spain, France, Holland and Japan, posters for their concerts at Bill Graham's Fillmore East in San Francisco (gorgeous artwork) and even a photo of the road sign for Crucifix Lane in London's SE 1 on which the song is based (deliberately misspelt as Crucifiction). There are recent recollections on certain songs by band members Robin Trower and Matthew Fisher along with the original LP Engineer Ken Scott. It's all very tastefully done actually (a bit of care taken)...

The CD itself sports the FLY label on which it was reissued in 1972 as part of a Twofer LP deal because I think that's who now own the licensing rights - while the Transfers and Remasters have been carried out by ROB KEYLOCH (at Church Walk Studios) and NICK ROBBINS (at Sound Mastering in London). Track 16 was transferred and mixed by NICK WATSON in 1998. Beautifully produced by Matthew Fisher and Ken Scott in the first place - the 2009 remaster is warm and very clear. Even when Trower's guitar gets a bit wild in places (and grungy for that matter) - the stereo imaging isn't too harsh - still reflecting the original Production values. Those big vocals and church-sombre organs sound suitably 'Procol Harum' - there's minimal hiss and where there is - it's not going to detract...

It opens with the Classical-meets-Rock fusion of "A Salty Dog" and immediately the arrangements and melody feel epic - a single you feel should have done better. I've always felt though that the albums two masterpieces come from Trower and Fisher. Trower gives us the unexpectedly lovely acoustic vibes of "Too Much Between Us" - I can't help thinking it should have been single number two off the album with Fisher's equally pretty "Pilgrim's Progress" on the flip (Fisher does the vocal rather than Brooker). A&M Records put out "The Devil Came from Kansas" b/w "Boredom" in the USA on a 45 (A&M 1111) in July of 1969 - but it failed to chart. The British 45 of "A Salty Dog" b/w "Lone Gone Geek" on Regal Zonophone RZ 3019 managed a respectable placing of 44 in the UK - especially given how awkward the track was to pigeonhole in a Pop context. The sleigh bells of "Boredom" make the tune sound like Quintessence or Dr. Strangely Strange or some such hippy happiness. Side 2's grungy guitar vs. harmonica opener "Juicy John Pink" puts an end to that pronto - sounding like its recorded in a garage to get that gritty sound. The best Audio on the disc goes to "All This And More" where the piano, guitar and Brooker's vocals all sound with new clarity.

The Bonus Track B-side "Long Gone Geek" is a fabulous addition to any CD - the Procol Harum going all Small Faces with Reid nicking Bob Dylan lyrics. There then begins a similarly heavy set of live cuts from April 1969 with the band giving it what for to some of the album's heavier cuts (Trower lovers will lap this up).

I bought this Salvo CD when it was first reissued in 2009 but since its deletion it's acquired a nasty top-end price tag. If you can get it at a reasonable cost - seek it out and enjoy...

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