Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.
Reviews Written by
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London)
"…A Song To The Moon…" – Fuchsia by FUCHSIA (2015 Esoteric Recordings CD Remaster)
, February 10, 2016
Released on the then obscure Pegasus Records label in England in November 1971 – Fuchsia's lone Acid-Folk Prog-Rock LP had gorgeous artwork courtesy of Anne Marie Anderson, dense and impressive layers and trippy Acoustic based music that felt genuinely magical at times - but typically - garnished bugger all sales on its initial release.
The band were to tour the complex largely acoustic-based arrangements in December of that year but the tour never materialised – and with only a shared advert in the Melody Maker alongside the likes of UK rockers Nazareth and British folkies Shirley Collins and the Fairport Convention offshoot The Albion Band – "Fuchsia" received no other promotion - and so like much on the B&C Records label imprint - Pegasus PEG 8 sank without a trace. Cue a decade later and Prog aficionados go all ‘Mellow Candle’ on its rarity ass and start forking out serious money on the very hard-to-find vinyl LP (listed at £250 but often sells for much more). So Mark Powell's Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red) seems determined to rescue this lovely obscurity from the grips of bootleggers and give the album the release and remaster it deserves. And indeed they have. Here are the scented and flowery details…
UK released 27 November 2015 (December 2015 in the USA) – "Fuchsia" by FUCHSIA on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2518 (Barcode 5013929461840) is a straightforward CD transfer of the November 1971 LP on Pegasus Records PEG 8 and plays out as follows (40:56 minutes):
1. Gone With The Mouse
2. A Tiny Book
3. Another Nail
4. Shoes And Ships [Side 2]
5. The Nothing Song
6. Me And My Kite
7. Just Anyone
Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5 and 7 written by Tony Durant – Track 3 written by Tony Durant and Robert Chudley – Track 6 written by Robert Chudley
TONY DURANT – Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar and Lead Vocals
MADELINE BLAND – Cello, Piano, Harmonium and Backing Vocals
JANET ROGERS – Violin and Backing Vocals
VANESSA HALL-SMITH – Violin and Backing Vocals
MICHAEL DAY – Bass
MICHAEL GREGORY – Drums and Percussion
The 16-page booklet featured reminiscences by principal songwriter Tony Durant on the formation of the band, the making of the album and the disappointing aftermath of no sales and no tours – as well as lyrics and a photo of the six-piece ensemble - three of whom were ladies and their violins. The famed Decca/Deram Producer DAVID HITCHCOCK did the original Producer honours at the console - giving the whole album a real polished feel (his work from the period 1968 to 1975 includes Caravan, Camel, East Of Eden, Genesis, The Pink Fairies, Curved Air and not surprisingly Mellow Candle). PASCHAL BYRNE – a name that’s graced oodles of these classy reissues – has handled the exclusively licensed Remaster – and the audio on songs like "Shoes And Ships" and "Just Anyone" can only be described as wonderful – clean, warm and expressive. This is a beautiful sounding CD reissue...
The opening cut "Gone With A Mouse" feels like the more Acoustic and ambitious sections of 1971's "Foxtrot" by Genesis (which David Hitchcock produced) – the remaster allowing the complicated breaks and changes to spread across the speakers with real power and impressive finesse. Durant's obsession with all things plucked-Acoustic comes shining through the violins and clashing cymbals on the delicately lovely "A Tiny Book". The seven-minute "Another Nail" has the three ladies opening with suitably 'scratching' sounds on their ELO-type strings before Michael Day and Michael Gregory gets all Horslips Bass and Drums on the trippy violin song (shades of East Of Eden's "Mercator Projected" and "Snafu").
Time to get really impressed. There are parts in the gorgeous six-minutes-plus of "Shoes And Ships" that feel like Nick Drake at his Spanish Acoustic Guitar best – mixed in with Durant's Duncan Browne sounding Lead Vocals – all topped off with the sheer prettiness of the string arrangements featured on Fotheringay's self-titled 1970 debut LP and Mellow Candle's magnificent 1973 "Swaddling Songs" album (very impressive stuff). "The Nothing Song" is a bit too Prog for me and the harmonium hippy "Me And My Kite" is lovely too – ending on the winner that is "Just Anyone".
Tony Durant later spent time with Punchin' Judy who managed one self-titled album on Transatlantic Records in 1973 – joined the reggae band Greyhound for a while before immigrating to Australia where he became a successful jingles writer. A full 35-years after the initial non-event Durant returned in 2013 with the CD "Fuchsia 2: From Psychedelia To A Distant Place" and even toured with a Folk-Prog band from Sweden called "Me And My Kites" named in tribute after the track on the album.
You wouldn't say "Fuchsia" is the balls-out champ-like Mellow Candle 1973 opus "Swaddling Songs" that regularly sells for £3000 and more (and is actually worth the money) – but there is so much to love on this forgotten 1971 album gem - they're really is. And typically - Esoteric Recordings have done the record, the band and their legacy right proud. Dig in music lovers and mucho enjoy…
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"...Bell Bottom Blues..." – Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs by DEREK and THE DOMINOES (2011 ‘Deluxe Edition’ 2CD Remasters)
, February 10, 2016
I had the 2004 single-disc SACD reissue of "Layla..." and was duly blown away by it (truly awesome audio – even if it does reflect the crudity of the original recordings). So why does anyone need a newly done 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' of this most iconic of double-albums? The answer is that the New 2010 Remaster on Disc 1 absolutely rocks - while the near sixty minutes of non-album single sides, live Johnny Cash Show material and aborted 2nd album outtakes on Disc 2 offer up solid thrills throughout and not just filler (most of it new to CD). In fact CD2 may be the very best 'Bonus Disc' to a Rock DE version that I've ever heard. Got me on my knees...Layla...here are the details...
UK released 21 March 2011 (26 April 2011 in the USA) – "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs" by DEREK and THE DOMINOES (featuring Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, George Harrison, Dave Mason, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins) on Universal/Polydor B0015353-02 (Barcode 600753314296) is a 2CD Expanded 40th Anniversary 'Deluxe Edition' and plays out as follows:
Disc 1 (77:16 minutes):
1. I Looked Away [Bobby Whitlock and Eric Clapton song]
2. Bell Bottom Blues [Eric Clapton song]
3. Keep On Growing [Bobby Whitlock and Eric Clapton song]
4. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out [Jimmie Cox song, Bessie Smith cover]
5. I Am Yours [Eric Clapton song, Lyrics Adapted From A Nizami Poem]– Side 2
6. Anyday [Bobby Whitlock and Eric Clapton song]
7. Key To The Highway [Big Bill Broonzy cover]
8. Tell The Truth [Bobby Whitlock and Eric Clapton song] – Side 3
9. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? [Bobby Whitlock and Eric Clapton song]
10. Have You Ever Loved A Woman? [Billy Myles cover]
11. Little Wing [Jimi Hendrix cover] – Side 4
12. It's Too Late [Chuck Willis cover]
13. Layla [Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon song]
14. Thorn Tree In The Garden [Bobby Whitlock song]
Tracks 1 to 14 are the double-album "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs" – released November 1970 in the USA on Atco SD 2-704 and December 1970 in the UK on Polydor 2625 005 (it peaked at No. 16 on the US charts – didn’t chart UK).
Disc 2 – BONUS DISC (58:32 minutes):
1. Mean Old World [Little Walter cover, Album Outtake]
2. Roll It Over [Eric Clapton and Bobby Whitlock song, Non-Album 7" B-side]
3. Tell The Truth [Eric Clapton and Bobby Whitlock song, Non-Album 7" A-side]
(Tracks 2 and 3 originally recorded in June 1970 at Abbey Road for the George Harrison "All Things Must Pass" sessions - both Produced by Phil Spector – September 1970 UK 7” single on Polydor 2058 087 - withdrawn)
4. It's Too Late - Live [Chuck Willis cover]
5. Got To Get Better In A Little While - Live [Eric Clapton song]
6. Matchbox - Live [Carl Perkins cover]
7. Blues Power - Live Encore [Eric Clapton & Leon Russell song]
Tracks 4 to 7 are Derek & The Dominoes 'live' on The Johnny Cash Show, taped 5 November 1970 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. JOHNNY CASH and CARL PERKINS join the band for "Matchbox" only
8. Snake Lake Blues [Eric Clapton and Bobby Whitlock song]
9. Evil [Willie Dixon song, Howlin' Wolf cover]
10. Mean Old Frisco [Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup cover]
11. One More Chance [Eric Clapton song]
12. Got To Get Better In A Little While Jam [Eric Clapton song, instrumental]
13. Got To Get Better In A Little While [Eric Clapton song, new 2010 vocal by Bobby Whitlock]
Tracks 8 to 13 are the April/May 1971 sessions at the Olympic Studios in London for the aborted 2nd LP (engineering by Andy Johns). The band was Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle and Jim Gordon. Bobby Whitlock's vocals on Track 6 were recorded September 2010 in Austen, Texas especially for this release. All tracks remixed by the original engineer ANDY JOHNS in September 2010.
DEREK and THE DOMINOES were:
ERIC CLAPTON – Guitars, Lead Vocals
BOBBY WHITLOCK – Keyboards and Vocals
DUANE ALLMAN – Guitars (All Tracks except 1 to 3)
CARL RADLE – Bass and Percussion
JIM GORDON – Drums and Percussion
ALBHY GALUTEN – Guest Piano on "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out"
Despite how pretty these gatefold card digipaks can be – you have to say that the 12-page booklet is a surprisingly skimpy affair for a supposed 'DE' of an album as highly regarded as "Layla". The double-page photo spread (the inner gatefold of the original vinyl album) is reproduced on both flaps and the inner pages of the booklet with the other pages given over to track-by-track credits - and I'm afraid little else. There isn't any liner notes – no discussions of the supergroup's mercurial talent or its tortured discography – damn shame really. Having said that we are left with the sound and content on Disc 2 which will do very nicely indeed.
The September 2010 Remaster done at Universal Studios went back to the original British Master Tapes and long-time Audio Engineer ELLEN FITTON has done a stunning job. Motown fans will know of her staggering work with the Hip-O Select label out of the USA – all 14 of the massive ‘Complete Motown Single' Sets – 75 Volumes of CDs with 1847 tracks – so this experienced lady knows her way around an original tape box or two. The Audio is fabulous – really bringing out the layers.
While ERIC CLAPTON and DUANE ALLMAN always grabs the lion's share of attention (Allman is on 11 of the 14 tracks) – a quick glance at the writer credits above and you'll see that BOBBY WHITLOCK deserved just as many plaudits. Famously ignored in England (post Cream) and making only 16 in the US LP charts – Atco even had to issue 'Derek Is Eric' stickers to inform supposedly clueless punters as to the true identity of the 'head domino' on the sprawling 2LP set. In fact I've always thought that "Layla..." feels more like the studio double-album The Allman Brothers never made rather than a vehicle for Clapton's songs of love, passion and longing.
It opens with the mid-tempo but fairly nondescript "I Looked Away" - Clapton and Whitlock sharing the vocals with Whitlock's second-half-of-the-song croaking coming off the worst. Better is the more melodious "Bell Bottom Blues" – Clapton doubling up those guitars so well and that chorus sounding not unlike something released by Badfinger on The Beatles' Apple label. But the proper axe-wielding comes with the six and half minute ruckus of "Keep On Growing" where Clapton spends much of the song endlessly racing up and down the frets of several guitars – it's impressively dense, rocking and even a tad flashy. Time for some Blues to end Side 1 – the band call on a Jimmie Cox song made famous in 1929 by Bessie Smith on a Columbia 78" - "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out". It's the first time the distinctive slide of Duane Allman shows – and along with Whitlock's organ – they anchor every tune thereafter with great flits and licks - feeling like the second guitarist Clapton has always needed by his side.
The acoustic ditty "I Am Yours" has come in for some stick over the years but I'd argue its pretty (if not a little overly hissy here). "Anyday" is surely one of the great moments on the album – six and half minutes of Allman and Clapton on fire. Things lighten up considerably with the barroom boogie of Big Bill Broonzy's "Key To The Highway" – the band flexing their playing muscles for 9:38 minutes and enjoying it. Side 3 opens on another Clapton/Whitlock winner and future concert fave – the re-recorded "Tell The Truth". The album version of this guitar boogie weighs in at 6:30 minutes and is more measured than the frantic shorter original Phil Spector produced for the "All Things Must Pass" sessions (the 3:23 minute original recorded in June 1970 was slotted in for a supposed UK 7" single release in September 1970 but that was hastily withdrawn (that version is on Disc 2). "Tell..." is followed by the manic pace of "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?" - but it's resolutely trounced by the side finisher – "Have You Ever Loved A Woman". Recorded 2 September 1970 with Duane Allman taking on the 2nd solo – it's a blistering piece of Rock Blues from the pen of Billy Myles (made famous by Freddie King in 1961 on King Records). Clapton sings the "...so much you tremble in pain..." lyrics with such passion that you can literally feel it translate to his fingers – fabulous stuff and next to the title track – surely one of the album's true highlights.
But Side 4 opens with yet another sweetie – a Soulful ramshackle take on Jimi Hendrix's beautiful ballad "Little Wing". We get an "...ok hit it..." silly inclusion of the Chuck Willis hit on Atlantic Records "It's Too Late" which definitely feels like a throwaway. The title track however is another matter. The intense and forbidden love that dominates the lyrics of "Layla" may have come from the translation of the 12th Century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi whose book speaks of the same. The duelling guitars of Allman and Clapton have become the stuff of legend in this seven-minute Rock Opus – and even to this day "Layla" sounds amazing – especially that wonderful keyboard break half way through. Following the album's release November 1970 in the USA but just prior to its issue in the UK (December 1970) – Polydor and Atco pulled what should have been their ace in the hole 45 – "Layla" b/w "Bell Bottom Blues". But alarmingly it garnished little attention on either side of the pond – genuinely odd nowadays considering what a classic the A-side was and is - and how ingrained into our musical psyche "Layla" as a song truly is. Just outside the Top 50 on initial release in the USA (51) – it would take until June 1972 for the song to get real chart action on reissue (Atco 6809) when it peaked at No. 10. A solo Eric Clapton Acoustic 'unplugged' version went even higher to No. 2 in October 1997 when he radically reworked the song to spectacular effect. The 1970 double album ends of another song that's been slagged off down through the years as sappy and even trite "Thorn Tree In The Garden" – a Bobby Whitlock original sung with his slightly annoying croak. I've always liked it and think the song as pretty an acoustic tune as you're ever likely to hear.
DISC 2 (Bonus Tracks):
It opens with a fantastic find – three members of the band doing a slide acoustic take on Little Walter's "Mean Old World". Clapton and Allman share bluesy guitar licks while Jim Gordon plays Drums (Eric sings Lead) – and it sounds utterly amazing. Two obvious Derek & The Dominoes exclusions from the 1990 '20th Anniversary' Edition 3CD set and not on the 2004 SACD reissue either were the stand alone single "Tell The Truth" b/w "Roll It Over" which I mentioned earlier. Polydor UK tried the original version of "Tell The Truth" (Track 3 on Disc 2) as a 7" single in September 1970 (Polydor 2058 087) with the non-album Clapton/Whitlock original "Roll It Over" (Track 2 on Disc 2) on the flipside – but then withdrew it at the band's insistence. Both tracks were originally recorded at Abbey Road in June 1970 for George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" sessions. Both sides are produced by PHIL SPECTOR with the A-side "Tell The Truth" being a much shorter 3:23 minute version of the re-recorded 6:30 minute take that would eventually appear on the "Layla" double album. It's also frantically faster (I love it actually). But even "Tell..." is as nothing to the totally brilliant flipside "Roll It Over". Unlike the A – the B-side included the stellar talents of GEORGE HARRISON of The Beatles and DAVE MASON of Traffic both on Vocals and Guitar. Clapton takes lead vocals while Carl Radle plays Bass with Jim Gordon on Drums. What a winner this is...and collectable on so many fronts...
The live stuff on the Johnny Cash Show features an introduction by the mighty Johnny when he name-checks all four band-members (sans Duane Allman). The audio is far better than I thought it would be and Eric's playing very fluid especially on the stunning second track "Got To Get Better In A Little While" – a non Layla side that sees Clapton funking-out on Guitar much to the clapping audience's enthusiasm (screams for more). They return with Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash to do a cover of Perkin's boppin' classic "Matchbox". After an introduction and a vocal appreciation from Cash and Clapton – they launch into a joyous take of the song The Beatles loved and recorded. "...I'm an old poor boy and I'm a long way from home..." Cash and Perkins sing as Clapton lays into the most tasteful solo (its fabulous stuff). Then Eric agrees to do another song (huge applause) and pulls out the EC/Leon Russell original "Blues Power" where he and the band give the crowd six and half minutes of what they want.
As if these goodies aren't enough to put the release into five-star status – we get even more brilliance – 6 outtakes from the aborted 2nd LP recorded in London April/May 1971. "Snake Lake Blues" is an instrumental that you can't help feel was probably waiting for lyrics that never came. But whatever way you look it – Clapton's playing on "Snake..." is fantastic and the remastered audio just kicking (clear, warm and full). The same applies to a wickedly good version of Willie Dixon's "Evil" which he'd return to on his solo LPs. Fans will double take at the identikit Dobro sound on "Mean Old Frisco" – practically a doppelganger for the sound of the version that would turn up a full seven years later on Clapton's "Slowhand" LP. The same stunning audio (remixed by Andy Johns) applies to the superb acoustic boogie of "One More Chance" and the two ramshackle but wildly exciting versions of that Johnny Cash show stopper – "Got To Get Better In A Little While". The first is a Funky Jam instrumental at just under four minutes (utterly brilliant) while the full 6:05 minutes version has Bobby Whitlock's vocal mixed into it in September 2010 – a seamless job done too – wow!
For the insatiable there's even a Super Deluxe Edition version of this "Layla" reissue that gathers up the double live set that followed the album (sans Duane Allman), Surround Mixes, Single Sides and an awful lot of other stuff.
But if you want the short sharp shock – then this double-dose 2011 DELUXE EDITION of "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs" is a superlative reminder of why people painted Derek's name on walls once upon a time...
"...Really Want To See You..." – All Things Must Pass by GEORGE HARRISON (2014 Apple 2CD Reissue – Gavin Lurssen Remasters)
, February 10, 2016
When I bought the 2DVD set of 2002's "Concert For George" – the nearest a mere mortal like me was going to get to that stunning celebration of George Harrison's life and music/film legacy – I bawled my eyes out like a big girl's blouse. I can remember the whole sensory experience of music, emotion and video 'getting to me' on a level I found both profound and ultimately uplifting. I'd simply forgotten how good his songwriting was and I (like others) needed some reminding. Re-visiting his mammoth 3LP debut solo work "All Things Must Pass" on this definitive 2CD Apple Remaster has been the same. Wonder and awe...all over again. Here are the Apple Scruffs...
UK and USA released 22 September 2014 – "All Things Must Pass" by GEORGE HARRISON on Apple/George Harrison Estate 0602537914005 (Barcode is the same) is a 3LP Set onto 2CDs with Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows:
Disc 1 (59:37 minutes):
1. I'd Have You Anytime
2. My Sweet Lord
4. Isn't It A Pity (Version 1)
5. What Is Life [Side 2]
6. If Not For You
7. Behind That Locked Door
8. Let It Down
9. Run Of The Mill
Tracks 1 to 9 make up Side 1 & 2 of the 3LP Box Set "All Things Must Pass" – released 27 November 1970 in the USA (30 November 1970 in the UK) both on Apple STCH 639
10. I Live For You [1970 Outtake]
11. Beware Of The Darkness (27 May 1970 Demo Version, Outtake]
12. Let It Down [Early Version, Remixed in 2000]
13. What Is Life [Backing Track]
14. My Sweet Lord (2000)
Tracks 10 to 15 first appeared as Bonus Tracks on the January 2001 "All Things Must Pass" 2CD Reissue – sanctioned by George Harrison. His son Dhani Harrison and UK singer Sam Brown added vocals to the 2000 Version of "My Sweet Lord" along with percussion from Ray Cooper. Dhani’s keyboards and vocals also bolstered up the remixed outtake "I Live For You".
Disc 2 (65:38 minutes):
1. Beware Of Darkness [Side 3]
2. Apple Scruffs
3. Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)
4. Awaiting On You All
5. All Things Must Pass
6. I Dig Love [Side 4]
7. Art Of Dying
8. Isn't It A Pity (Version 2)
9. Hear Me Lord
10. It's Johnny’s Birthday
11. Plug Me In
12. I Remember Jeep
13. Thanks For The Pepperoni
14. Out Of The Blue
Tracks 1 to 14 are Sides 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the 3LP set "All Things Must Pass". NOTE: On original issues of the vinyl album the 11-minute "Out Of The Blue", the 50-second "It's Johnny's Birthday" and the 3:15 minutes of "Plug Me In" made up Side 5 - while "I Remember Jeep" (extended from 6:59 minutes to 8:05 on CD) and "Thanks For The Pepperoni" (5:26 minutes) made up Side 6. For both the January 2001 and September 2014 CD reissues – the tracks have been rejiggered as above. All songs on "All Things Must Pass" are Harrison originals except "I'd Have You Anytime" which is a co-write with Bob Dylan and "If Not For You" which is a Bob Dylan cover version.
Lead Vocals (All Tracks) – GEORGE HARRISON
Guitars - GEORGE HARRISON, DAVE MASON (of Traffic), ERIC CLAPTON (Derek & The Dominoes)
Pedal Steel Guitar - PETE DRAKE
Rhythm Guitars and Percussion – BADFINGER (featuring Pete Ham and Tom Evans)
Keyboards - BILLY PRESTON, BOBBY WHITLOCK (Derek & The Dominoes), GARY BROOKER (Procol Harum) and GARY WRIGHT (Spooky Tooth)
Saxophone and Trumpet – BOBBY KEYS and JIM PRICE
Bass – CARL RADLE (Derek & The Dominoes) and KLAUS VOORMAN
Drums – ALAN WHITE (Yes), JIM GORDON (Delaney & Bonnie, Derek & The Dominoes) and RINGO STARR (The Beatles)
Congas – PHIL COLLINS on "Art Of Dying" (uncredited)
Backing Vocals – GEORGE O'HARA-SMITH SINGERS
The first thing you notice about the latest 2014 version is that the 'colourised' artwork of the January 2001 Mini Box Set has gone (as has the box) – we're now back to the more sombre original black and white artwork. I can't say I think the 3-way foldout hard card cover is an improvement on the 'colour' box of 2001 (which I rather liked) – but at least we get the fold-out lyric poster reproduced (with the colour shot of a bearded Harrison on the other side) and the three different colour inner sleeves for each album now get spread over two CD inners and the inside artwork. Harrison's own liner notes for the 2001 version return (reappraising the album from a 30-year distance - highlighting the large number of musicians involved) – but you have to go the bottom of the poster to get the real 'new' info...the AUDIO.
PAUL HICKS, GAVIN LURSSEN and REUBEN COHEN are the team of three who have handled the new '2014 Remaster' – done at Lurssen Mastering in California. His in-house team have won 3 Grammies and I've raved about Lurssen's work before on more than one occasion – see reviews for "Barnstorm" by Joe Walsh on Hip-O Select, "Gold" by The Crusaders on Universal, Stephen Bishop's "Careless" and "Bish" both on Hip-O Select and Terry Callier's "Occasional Rain" on Universal 'Originals'. His modern-day mastering work includes top name artists like John Mellencamp, Tom Waits, Roseanna Cash and even actor Jeff Bridges. Just to take a like-to-like comparison – the gorgeous Pedal Steel guitar work of Pete Drake on the 2014 Remaster of "Behind That Locked Door" is so much clearer and that rhythm section positively brimming with bass warmth and gentle snare shuffles. And when Phil Spector's typically OTT Production threatens to swamp everything on "Let It Down" with a Wall of Noise – they've somehow managed to make the overall soundstage clearer yet still keep it properly muscular. And the truly wonderful Version 1 of "Isn't It A Pity" sounds just glorious, as do the huge acoustic guitars and piano on "Run Of The Mill". After the 'all things louder than everything else' remaster of 2001 – this new 2014 version is a welcome controlled tone down - absolutely gorgeous stuff.
If I'm truthful I've never really thought much of the Dylan collaboration song "I'd Have You Anytime" which always felt to me like a poor man's version of the genuinely lovely "If Not For You". But what you can't fault is the audio wallop of both it and "My Sweet Lord" – the only solo Beatles single to hit the Number 1 spot on the UK charts twice – the original Apple 7" on R 5884 in January 1971 and on reissue in January 2002 after his awful and tragic passing in late November 2001. The huge electric guitars and layered vocals of the manic "Wah-Wah" attack your speakers like its "Helter Skelter Part 2" – while the already mentioned "Isn't It A Pity" is surely his greatest solo song (check out the Eric Clapton and Billy Preston live version in HD on YouTube).
The Bonus Tracks (tagged on once again at the end of Disc 1) are shockingly good and I'd argue better than some of the indulgent fluff on the original release. Dhani Harrison's subtle but beautiful vocal and keyboard contributions to "I Live For You" make the outtake sound like a lost gem and will thrill fans. The "Beware Of Darkness" demo is an acoustic ditty and strips the finished track of its bombast. Having been used to the doomy studio swagger of the final version for so long – this wonderfully barebones "Beware Of Darkness" is unplugged - stark - his Liverpool nasal/vocal phrasing filling the speakers as the strings rattle. And that jab at Klein's Abkco – what a hoot. But best of all is "...this is called "Let It Down"..." – a truly beautiful early version of the second last song on Side 2. Frankly this is way better than the finished version for me – the feel and melody is fabulous – containing a prettiness that got strangled on the LP version. The 'Backing Track' of "What Is Life" is a busy Spector affair chugging along as the guitars and brass jab. The sitar-introduced '2000' version of "My Sweet Lord" is a strange beast – liable to be viewed as lovely by some and a 'should have left it alone' travesty by others. I like it and Dhani Harrison, Sam Brown and Ray Cooper all add something to the mix this time around.
Disc 2 opens with a huge "Beware Of Darkness" – the guitars and strings swirling into one collective sound. "...Beware of mire..." Harrison sings and you know he means every word of it. The washboard shuffle of "Apple Scruffs" has that harmonica warbling with renewed clarity and the "...perpetual mirth..." of the strange-odd "Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp..." has those acoustic guitars peeping up above the piano and pedal steel. Once again Spector smothered "Awaiting On You All" with so many instruments and voices that it's hard to work out where the song is at times. But then we're hit with his melancholic masterpiece title track "All Things Must Pass" – a song so lovely in melody that surely it would have had a shot a second No. 1 (the USA issued "What is Life" b/w "Apple Scruffs" on Apple 1828 in February 1971 and that achieved a No. 10 placing). It's still got that slightly excessive hiss present as it opens – but the warmth of the song takes over and the remaster is genuinely subtle with the instrumentation (so touching). That drum roll opening on "I Dig Love" has real clout now, as does the keyboard funk that anchors the song throughout. The guitars crash in on "Art Of Dying" (sounds like Clapton) as it races along with that Rubber Soul vocal Spector gives Harrison's lead. The double-LP proper ends on a real musical high – "Hear Me Lord". Sounding at times almost like the Faces circa "Long Player" - big guitars vie with big vocals and even bigger ideas – his personal struggle with faith filling the song with sincerity as that huge organ note lingers in the background while someone fills the whole six minutes with sweetly soulful piano fills. The remaster is a lot less bombastic than the really loud 2001 version too...and very much the better for it.
The placing of the "Johnny's Birthday" ramshackle 50-second snippet first (Phil Coulter's "Congratulations" sung under another guise) in the "Apple Jam" LP portion makes more than sense – it works. We then get four guitar battles – all instrumentals. First up is "Plug Me In" which has the feel of a Derek & The Dominoes "Layla" outtake – all soloing and no vocals – searching for a riff and not quite finding it. The 8:08 minutes of "I Remember Jeep" was fun at the time and that soulful piano interlude towards the end still makes it a cool listen. The Johnny B. Goode grunge boogie of "Thanks For The Pepperoni" is yet another guitar strut that feels like you're eavesdropping on a particularly rocky Blind Faith session. But my poison in the bunch has always been the 11:14 minutes of "Out Of The Blue" (Bobby Keys on Sax) that feels like the Faces with too many beers and one too many amps in the studio. I’m always reminded of The Rolling Stones guitar juggernaut "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" from 1971's "Sticky Fingers". I suspect like so many fans – I haven't played this stoner jam for decades...and I'd actually forgotten just how good it is...
George Harrison would return with the more tempered "Living In A Material World" single LP in 1973 and score another No. 1 with "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)" – but many remember him for ATMP. Post Beatles - he splurged - the public loved it then and have held it in affection ever since. And on re-hearing this wonderful remaster of "All Things Must Pass" – is it any wonder.
The quiet and contemplative Beatle passed too damn quickly (aged only 58 in 2001) – I can still feel the shock and hurt of it. Re-listening to this sprawling solo 'White Album' of 1970 has only made me want to re-visit the rest of his recorded legacy – and that's got to be the best Remaster compliment of them all...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"...Two Slightly Distorted Guitars..." – Tubular Bells by MIKE OLDFIELD (2009 Universal/Mercury 2CD/1DVD Deluxe Edition Remaster
, February 10, 2016
In the first half of 1973 - two chart-annihilating vinyl albums signalled a huge move away from 7" single-driven Rock to something longer and stronger – Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side Of The Moon" which landed on our doorsteps 1 March 1973 – and Mike Oldfield's Virgin Records debut LP "Tubular Bells" which hit Blighty racks in its gorgeous and highly distinctive 'Bells and Sea' sleeve on 25 May 1973. Both albums have had longevity beyond the wildest dreams of either artist and with the hindsight of more than 40 years – remain iconic and still amaze.
Having said that - fans have had their fair-share of CD reissues for Mike Oldfield's densely overdubbed, side long instrumental musical soundscapes (the HDCD version in 2000 was one) – but this 2009 'Deluxe Edition' which offers Audio and Video finally does that tape consuming beasty a solid. Here are the Sailor's Hornpipes...
UK and USA released 8 June 2009 – "Tubular Bells: Deluxe Edition" by MIKE OLDFIELD on Universal/Mercury 270 354-1 (Barcode 0602527035413) is a 2CD/1DVD Reissue and plays out as follows:
Disc 1 – "The 2009 Stereo Mixes by Mike Oldfield" (56:02 minutes):
1. Tubular Bells (Part One)
2. Tubular Bells (Part Two)
3. Mike Oldfield's Single (A-side of a UK 7" single released June 1974 on Virgin VS 101. The original B-side "Froggy Went A Courtin'" (despised by Oldfield) is not on this reissue.
4. Sailor's Hornpipe (Original Version with Viv Stanshall) – Recorded in The Manor Studios in Oxfordshire in Spring 1973 – first appeared as part of "Collaborations" – the 4th LP in the 4LP "Boxed" Set UK issued October 1976 on Virgin VBOX 1.
Disc 2 – "The Original 1973 Stereo Album Mix" (48:48 minutes):
1. Tubular Bells (Part One)
2. Tubular Bells (Part Two)
Tracks 1 and 2 and Side 1 and the LP "Tubular Bells" – released 25 May 1973 in the UK and USA on Virgin V 2001
Disc 3 – DVD (All Regions) – 2009 5.1 Surround Sound Mixes by Mike Oldfield
1. Tubular Bells (Part One)
2. Tubular Bells (Part Two)
3. Mike Oldfield's Single
4. Sailor's Hornpipe (Original Version with Viv Stanshall)
1. Tubular Bells (Part One)
First broadcast as part of the series "2nd House" on BBC 2 – 1st December 1973
The glossy gatefold digipak has been well thought out – each flap with interesting memorabilia – the pregnant lady advert from the Zigzag newspaper advertising the birth of new 'Virgin Releases' – master tape boxes from CBS and BASF and a very well endowed 24-page booklet on the history of the album and its aftermath by Tape Engineer and Music Historian MARK POWELL. You get pictures of The Manor Studio in Oxfordshire – Oldfield with Kevin Ayers & The Whole World (circa 1970/1971), snaps of Producer Tom Newman and a camera-shy Richard Branson along with the ever present mixing desk and Oldfield surround as always by six million instruments.
MARK POWELL, MIKE OLDFIELD and PASCHAL BYRNE are the team of three that has handling the tapes with care because the Audio is gorgeous – clear and warm and full of presence. But I would say that after hearing the 2009 Stereo Version – the original 1973 version does seem a tad flat and more hissy – but the DVD 5.1 version that I've heard on a mate's sound system is simply awesome (far better that the Quadrophonic LP experience in 1974). The "Mike Oldfield Single" (issued in a "Tubular Bells Theme" picture sleeve in the UK June 1974) is based on the Celtic Tympani section on Side 2 with Oldfield having added Oboe and other instruments. And of course the use of the opening piano refrain in the horror movie of the moment "The Exorcist" gave the album considerable exposure and made that piece of music synonymous with the LP for decades to come.
When the first portion of Side One settles into that Acoustic Guitar around 4:07 only to crescendo a few seconds later – the effect is incredible. And those doubled-up high string guitars at 11:30 minutes leap out of the speakers only to be followed by the HUGE rock guitar piece. It all leads towards the layer-after-layer-of-instruments preceded by Viv Stanshall of The Bonzo Dog Do Dah Band acting as 'Master Of Ceremonies' as he introduces each instrument in that wonderfully posh and eclectic voice of his – magic. Fans will love those warbling guitars at 8:02 on Side 2 – the girly vocals mixing with the notes to beautiful effect – even if that Pilt Down Man voice still sounds decidedly creepy. And you gotta love Vivian Stanshall clearly drunk as a skunk on the original version of "Sailor's Hornpipe" as he discusses a painting in the Manor at some ungodly hour in the morning - deliberately slurring his words by the time he gets to the end (God bless him).
I wasn't expected the DVD to be so engaging. Never mind the 5.1 Surround Mix that really leaves the Quad LP from the 'Boxed' set in 1976 in the dust – the performance of the December 1973 concert is an absolute blast (if not a little ramshackle in places). A group of seven musicians are seated in dimly lit silhouette as the piano refrain starts (with a huge Showcase logo behind them). But then as they zoom in and the lights go on – we see Oldfield seated with his Bass Guitar and stripy shirt looking decidedly uncomfortable (grin and bear it baby). Unfortunately there are no credits at the end so you can't tell who the other six musicians are – but with guitars in their hands and other instruments – Side 1 becomes this strange entirely different entity 'live' - where their guitar flicks and piano flourishes differ wildly in some cases from his. A chorus of ladies join them for the acoustic fade out. They even try some ropey water footage in the centre of it as the bells shimmer. The image does get a tad blurry in places in that Seventies kind of way – but for fans this extra is an absolute treat.
"Hergest Ridge" would follow in 1974 and the wonderful "Ommadawn" in 1975 and thereafter a career that seems to have endlessly rehashed his 1973 magnum opus for every anniversary since. A great Deluxe Edition and a milestone in Rock Music's history...
"...Cosmic Dancer..." – Electric Warrior by T.REX [featuring Marc Bolan] (2012 Universal/A&M/Fly 'Expanded' CD Remaster)
, February 10, 2016
Losing my lovingly kept vinyl copy of the Rex's iconic "Electric Warrior" with the 'sticker' on the front cover (inner and poster inside too) a few years back has remained one of my big LP regrets over the years (needs must at the time and it had to be done). The British album on Fly Records sold loads (sleeve by Hipgnosis) - but for some reasons copies of an original with the sticker still intact (on the front sleeve) are far rarer than most fans know.
A similar tale of selling-woe with CD reissues... I bought the January 2012 Tony Visconti/Paschal Byrne 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' and lived with it for a while (great audio, same as this issue) – but I found the extras lacking (sold it) and I've plumed instead for this single disc version with four 'Bonus Tracks' that I actually want. A case of less is more I think (and its under four quid). Time to 'Get It On' and indeed 'Bang A Gong' for the original Jeepsters - T.REX...
UK released 17 April 2012 (May 2012 in the USA) – "Electric Warrior" by T.REX on Universal/A&M/Fly 533 780-1 (Barcode 600753378014) is an 'Expanded Edition' single CD Remaster and plays out as follows (55:58 minutes):
1. Mambo Sun
2. Cosmic Dancer
5. Lean Woman Blues
6. Get It On [Side 2]
7. Planet Queen
9. The Motivator
10. Life's A Gas
11. Rip Off
Tracks 1 to 11 are the 2nd album "Electric Warrior" by T. REX (formerly known as Tyrannosaurus Rex for the four previous LPs) – released 24 September 1971 in the UK on Fly Records HIFLY 6 and in the USA on Reprise RS 6466. It peaked at No. 1 in the UK and No. 32 in the USA.
T. REX was:
MARC BOLAN – Vocals and Guitars
MICKEY FINN – Vocals and Percussion
IAN McDONALD – Saxophones
BURT COLLINS - Flugel Horn
STEVE CURRIE – Bass
WILL LEGEND – Drums
HOWARD & MARK VOLMAN – Backing Vocals
RICK WAKEMAN – Piano on "Get It On" (uncredited)
STRING SECTION – Uncredited
12. There Was A Time/Raw Ramp (B-side of "Get It On" – UK 7" single released 2 July 1971 on Fly Records BUG 10. Although listed as a two-part B-side – it has in fact three distinct musical sections in the song with the uncredited Part 3 sometimes known as "Electric Boogie" because of the lyrics. "Get It On" peaked at No. 1 in the UK charts and was billed as "Bang A Gong" in the USA on Reprise 1032 when it was released December 1971
13. Hot Love (Non-Album A-side – UK 7" single released 19 February 1971 on Fly Records BUG 6) – peaked at No. 1 on the UK singles charts
14. Woodland Rock (1 of 2 Non-Album B-sides to "Hot Love" – UK 7" single released 19 February 1971 on Fly Records BUG 6) – peaked at No. 1 on the UK singles charts
15. The King Of The Mountain Cometh (2 of 2 Non-Album B-sides to "Hot Love" – UK 7" single released 19 February 1971 on Fly Records BUG 6) – peaked at No. 1 on the UK singles charts
Reproduced beneath the see-through tray is that gorgeous Fly Records label with the script track lists for Side 1 and 2 - while the CD itself has the Marc Bolan/Mickey Finn photo that adorned the other side of the LP label (nice touches). The generously outfitted 24-page booklet is a fan's dream – beautifully and smartly laid out. You get updated (new research especially for this 2012 issue) and in-depth liner notes from noted Bolan expert MARK PAYTRESS – as well Melody Maker, NME, Sounds and Beat Instrumental front page repros, snaps of Bolan in the studio, on stage with T.Rex and relaxing (the poster shot). There is the rare sheet music for "Hot Love" and a picture of Bolan by a bus with his girlfriend as well as the beautiful George Underwood pencil drawings that were the inner bag (Bolan on one side, Mickey Finn on the other) – they adorn either side of the centre pages.
Original Producer TONY VISCONTI has remastered the album for this issue while the hugely experienced Audio Engineers PASCHAL BYRNE and BEN WISEMAN handled the Bonus Tracks. All of it sounds renewed and incredibly alive. There are hissy passages for sure but no tampering with the original sound has taken place to my ears - it's just breathing better now. A job sensitively done...
Right from the opening guitar chug of "Mambo Sun" – the vocals, the strings and backing singers and those cool swinging guitars – all of it sleeks out of your speakers with the swagger of a man on the up. There is a lot of hiss as "Cosmic Dancer" opens with the Acoustic and Strings – but there's no denying the loveliness of the song. The whack off "Jeepster" is shocking – that foot-stomping guitar boogie still gets me too (another effortless No. 1 single dashed off in his sleep). That lone guitar rip at the beginning of "Monolith" threatens to punch a hole in your speaker cones on this ballsy remaster – the lurching slugger beat somehow now even more epic than I remember it ("...shallow are the actions of the children of the men...oh yeah!") Side 1 ends with "Lean Woman Blues" – a one two and buckle my shoe set of Bolan Blues where he bemoans his lady's 'lean love' while those guitars riff and groan ("...you're the love of my life...then you gorge me with a knife...")
What can you say about "Get It On" - a winner to this day. I was a kid in Dublin 1971 and we'd gone with the scouts to Todd Vale Camp Site near Liverpool in England for a summer outing. On the site someone had a portable singles deck and the rare picture sleeve of "Get It On". Sun shining down – campfires nearby cooking dinner - bopping to that infectious beat - man we must played that sucker nine times in a row (the memory still sends chills up my arms). And here it is again with that fabulous Visconti production only better – bang a gong baby! Many peoples other fave is the slinky Acoustic Rock of "Planet Queen" – a great Bolan groove. Burt Collins provides the Flugel Horn for the pretty "Girl" – a song where Marc sounds most like Bowie - who would of course release "Hunky Dory" in December of that great year (1971). More cool Bolan riffage with the "...love the way you walk..." groove of "The Motivator" – while both 'Life's A Gas" and the angry live-in-the-studio "Rip Off" have healthy amounts of hiss for sure but still sound like they've been given a right old dust off - unleashed even.
What I also love about this reissue is that the Bonus Tracks provide you with four truly great non-album single sides – “Woodland Rock” and "The King of The Woodland Cometh" like some Tyrannosaurus Rex boogie outtakes, the so sexy sway of "Hot Love" and that amazing 3-part B-side to "Get It On". I’ve even isolated "Electric Boogie" as a track by itself (begins at 3:23 minutes) – what a blast.
Marc Bolan would go on to "The Slider" and "Tanx" albums and so much more until his sad loss in London in 1977 – but "Electric Warrior" is the one in the hearts of his original fans. As Bolan sang in the irrepressible "Jeepster" - "...I'll call you a jaguar if I may be so bold..." Amen to that you slinky mother...
"...Nobody's Fool..." – Crime Of The Century by SUPERTRAMP (2014 Universal/A&M 2CD DELUXE EDITION – Ray Staff Remasters)
, February 5, 2016
Last time I played Supertramp's 1974 breakthrough album "Crime Of The Century" it was the Greg Calbi Remaster of 2002 – and along with his stunning transfer of "Breakfast In America" in 2010 – I thought I'd heard all I needed to hear.
But the big draw in 2014 for Tramp fans will be a double-dip - Remaster Engineer of the moment RAY STAFF - and a decent-sounding concert of near eighty-minutes from that most productive of times for this most British of bands.
Staff handled the 2013 Remaster of Bowie's 1973 LP "Aladdin Sane" and the stunning 2015 "Five Years: 1969 to 1973" 12CD Box Set – both to huge critical acclaim – bringing life and new warmth to a catalogue that's been done to death over the years. In fact Staff's name (like Steve Wilson of Porcupine Tree) has become synonymous with less flash and more subtlety - dig out those nuances and let them breath. And for this 40th Anniversary 2CD DELUXE EDITION of Supertramp’s 1974 audiophile masterpiece "Crime Of The Century" – that’s pretty much what you get. Let’s get behind the bars of this wickedly good reissue...
UK and US released December 2014 – "Crime Of The Century: Deluxe Edition" by SUPERTRAMP on Universal/A&M Records 0600753307885 (Barcode is the same) is a 2CD Remaster and plays out as follows:
Disc 1 (44:20 minutes):
1. School [Lead Vocals Roger Hodgson and Richard Davies]
2. Bloody Well Right [Lead Vocals Richard Davies]
3. Hide In Your Shell [Lead Vocals Roger Hodgson]
4. Asylum [Lead Vocals Richard Davies]
5. Dreamer [Lead Vocals Roger Hodgson] - Side 2
6. Rudy [Lead Vocals Richard Davies and Roger Hodgson]
7. If Everyone Was Listening [Lead Vocals Roger Hodgson]
8. Crime Of The Century [Lead Vocals Richard Davies]
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 3rd album "Crime Of The Century" – released September 1974 in the UK on A&M Records AMLS 68258 and in the USA on A&M SP 3647. Roger Hodgson and Richard Davies wrote all the songs with Strings arranged by Richard Hewson. KEN SCOTT and JOHN JANSEN engineered the album – Produced by KEN SCOTT with SUPERTRAMP. It peaked at No. 4 and No. 38 on the UK and US album charts.
Disc 2 – "Live At The Hammersmith Odeon, March 9th 1975" (73:58 minutes):
2. Bloody Well Right
3. Hide In Your Shell
5. Sister Moonshine
6. Just A Normal Day
7. Another Man's Woman
9. A – You're Adorable
12. If Everyone Was Listening
13. Crime Of The Century
ROGER HODGSON – Vocals, Guitars, Pianos
RICHARD DAVIES – Vocals, Keyboards, Harmonics
JOHN ANTHONY HELLIWELL – Saxophones, Clarinets, Vocals
DOUGIE THOMSON – Bass
BOB C. BENBERG – Drums, Percussion
The glossy gatefold digipak folds out to reveal those familiar snaps of our boys standing naked with their top-hat and tails in hand – staring upwards at the stars in the sky. It’s also nice to see that the lyric insert that came with originals of the LP is fully reproduced in the booklet – including its 'who sings lead on what track' colour-coded typeface. The 24-page booklet also has genuinely enlightening liner notes from PHIL ALEXANDER (Editor in Chief with The MOJO Magazine) along with period photos of the band, promo items relating to the LP, a rare tour program with Procol Harum and even a January 1974 internal letter from Gil Friersen cautiously optimistic that with the new material – A&M Records might even have a new Led Zeppelin or ELP on their hands.
The new 2014 RAY STAFF/WYNE DAVIES Remaster was done at Air Studios - while the near-audiophile sounding live gig from 1975 was mixed from original tapes by the album's original producer KEN SCOTT. The results are far more measured – almost underwhelming at first. There’s a subtlety to the rhythm section – the bass and drums not as bombastic – yet when the keyboards do kick in – you feel it – very tasteful. Let's get to the music...
Famously taking six months to record in three different studios – and after two failed attempts at capturing the public's affection with "Supertramp" and "Indelibly Stamped" in 1970 and 1971 – it seems all were on board to deliver a third album that would astound and finally realise the band's obvious potential. And they did. UK released in September 1974 - momentum saw the LP finally peak at No. 4 in November with the 7" single "Dreamer" making it to No. 13 the following month (AMS 7152 featured "Bloody Well Right" on the flip-side). Released in February 1975 - the American 45 of "Dreamer" (their first hit Stateside) was even given a picture sleeve (the album cover) - peaking at No. 35 in May of that year on the Pop Charts. The album made No. 38 Stateside in December 1974 but continued to sell steadily into early 1975 due to the single's exposure and positive press...
Even as "School" fades in with that lonesome harmonica wail – you can hear the clarity and when it finally punches in proper after the "...he's coming along..." lyric – the wallop is fantastic. The bass and bottom end is warm and defined – and those brilliant flourishes – the guitar solo before the huge piano break at 3:16 minutes – masterful stuff and hugely accomplished. After the shared vocals on "School" - Richard Davies takes the lead vocal solo on the caustic and terribly school-British "Bloody Well Right". Fun for sure but I suspect many fans will bypass that for one of the LP's true nuggets "Hide In Your Shell" – 6:47 minutes of pure Supertramp. "...Don't let the tears linger on the inside now..." - the hurting singer pleads – trying to hide doubt and pain from a world that doesn't seem to understand the nature of either. More ambitious mini-opera comes with "Asylum" – those piano notes so beautifully clear. But for me it's always been "Rudy" on Side 2 that puts the album into superstar class. The musical changes – the clever instrumental arrangements – the melodramatic duelling voices half way in – and that sly train announcement from Paddington Station that mentions Redding, Didcot and Swindon – the last two being Richard and Roger's home towns at the time. And of course the wicked piano hook in the final track "Crime Of The Century" – accomplished and undeniable...
The March 1975 live gig features 1974's "Crime Of The Century" in its entirety and a smattering of new tracks from what would have been their 4th album to be released in November of that year - "Crisis? What Crisis?" Despite the near audiophile clarity (they set out to be this way) – I have to admit that I find much of the gig strangely lifeless. The work-in-progress version of "Sister Moonshine" hadn’t as yet featured all those big 12-string guitars at its centre – so it's good rather than being great. The live version however of "Rudy" is mightily impressive as is "Just A Normal Day" and the crowd are loving the whole of Crime's Side 2 finishing the concert is exact chronological order. I’ve been replaying this in the last few days and it's growing on me...
"Crisis? What Crisis" in 1975 and "Even In The Quietest Moments" in 1977 would cement Supertramp’s grown-up adult Rock rep during the harsh Punk years – only to have the last laugh in 1979 with their mega crossover album "Breakfast In America" - which indeed conquered that continent big time where so many bands before them had tried and failed to do so.
But it all started here...and this 2014 DE of Supertramp’s "Crime Of The Century" (less than eight quid in 2016) is where you should start too...
"…No Eggsplanation…" – Whatevershebringswesing by KEVIN AYERS (2003 EMI/Harvest 'Expanded' CD Remaster)
, February 5, 2016
I’ve still no idea what the nonsensical title means and frankly who gives a rat’s ass. Part genius - part hard work – Kevin Ayers has had a solo career to envy and his third solo album “Whatevershebringswesing” from 1971 was the beginning of an astonishing run of albums that ran into the later Seventies with Island Records. As brilliant and as prolific as his fellow Harvest Records label mate Roy Harper – he’s also as eclectic and infuriating as say Robert Wyatt or even Ivor Cutler. But would we have our heroes any other way… Here are those funny smelling cigarettes…
Released June 2003 - "Whatevershebringswesing" by KEVIN AYERS on EMI 07243-582778-2-1 (Barcode 724358277821) is an 'Expanded' CD Remaster and plays out as follows (51:26 minutes):
1. There Is Loving/Among Us/There Is Loving
3. Oh My
4. Song From The Bottom Of A Well
5. Whatevershebringswesing [Side 2]
6. Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes
7. Champagne Cowboy Blues
Tracks 1 to 8 are his 3rd album "Whatevershebringswesing" by KEVIN AYERS released January 1972 in the UK on Harvest Records SHVL 800 in a textured gatefold sleeve
9. Stars - the non-album B-side to "Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes" - a UK 7" single released 27 August 1971 on Harvest HAR 5042
10. Don't Sing No More Sad Songs
11. Fake Mexican Tourist Blues – 9 and 10 recorded 1972 - finally released on the UK compilation LP "Odd Ditties" released February 1976 on Harvest Heritage SHSM 2005
12. Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes - an Early Mix/9 July 1971 - Previously Unreleased
The 16-page booklet has superb liner notes by fan and musicologist MARK POWELL - a name many will know well from his stellar work on the Esoteric Label and the Underground/Prog 3CD Box Sets covering the Polydor, Vertigo, Deram and Decca labels for Universal. But the big news is a fabulous remaster by the album's original engineer PETER MEW. It was done at Abbey Road in February 2003 from original tapes and the audio quality is amazing.
When the opening 3-part string-laden "There Is Loving/Among Us/There Is Loving" exits your speakers - your hit with a sonic clarity that is wonderful and the real beauty of David Bedford's wonderfully lush string arrangements. Ayers made special mention of it on the album's inner gatefold. Both "Margaret" and "Oh My" come on as dainty old English ditties after the complex opener - but are lovely in their melodies - evocative of a vaudeville England long since past. I've always hated the dark and suffocating noisescapes of the Side 1 closer "Song From The Bottom Of A Well" - a song that does exactly what it says on the tin. It can stay down there...
Side 2 opens with the title song - the curiously titled "Whatevershebringswesing" which after the drubbing of 'well' comes as a blessed relief - bolstered so subtly by girly 'oohs' and a fantastically complimentary twin vocal half way through from ROBERT WYATT. Everyone's favourite spliff song follows - the wonderful and funny "Stranger In Blue Suede Shoes" - a song with lyrics that make me laugh to this day. MIKE OLDFIELD and his distinctive guitar style add much to "Champagne Cowboy Blues" while babbling water gurgles throughout the melodious finisher "Lullaby" - a gorgeous little ditty and a great way to finish the album. The four extras are worthy of the moniker 'bonus' - especially the 'early mix' of "Stranger" which is fascinating to hear.
Like his first LP for Island Records in 1974 - the brilliant and druggy dark "The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories" - "Whatevershebringswesing" is the very definition of a 'cult' album. You either love it or dismiss it as one of 'those' Seventies records. I've always thought it genius - a bit like the man himself - and this superb EMI remaster does that defiantly English oddity a solid. Thank you very much...
PS: see also my reviews for "Joy Of A Toy" (1969), "Bananamour" (1973), "The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories" (1974), "Sweet Deceiver" (1975) and "Yes We Have No Mananas" (1976)
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
"...Under My Nose..." – The Other Side Of The Trax: Stax-Volt 45rpm Rarities 1964-1968 (2016 Ace/Kent Soul CD Remasters)
, February 5, 2016
Having reviewed all three of the mammoth Stax Singles box sets (9CDs for Volume 1, 9CDs for Volume 2 and 10CDs for Volume 3) and all 9 of the "Stax Remasters" individual album reissues – you could say I’m a fan. And when I read this CD would contain 24 non-album B-sides (all making their digital debut) - my chapped lips were getting moist at the mere sight of "The Other Side Of The Trax..." on the release schedules for January 2016. So before this review gets any more lewd or lippy – let's get to those B-sides that haven't seen the digital light of day for nearly fifty years...
UK released Friday, 29 January 2016 (February 2016 in the USA) – "The Other Side Of The Trax: Stax-Volt 45rpm Rarities 1964-1968" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace/Kent Soul CDTOP 442 (Barcode 029667244220) is a 24-track CD compilation of American 45 B-sides on Stax and Volt Records and plays out as follows (61:32 minutes):
1. Changes – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (February 1966, B-side of "I Had A Dream" on Stax 186)
2. Separation – CARLA THOMAS (December 1967, B-side of "Pick Up The Pieces" on Stax 239)
3. This Kind Of Woman – IVORY JOE HUNTER (August 1964, B-side of "Can't Explain How It Happened" on Stax 155)
4. Sho' Gonna Mess Him Up – RUFUS THOMAS (June 1965, B-side of "Willy Nilly" on Stax 173)
5. You Belong To Her – BARBARA and THE BROWNS (March 1964, B-side to "Big Party" on Stax 150)
6. Don't Stop Now – WILLIAM BELL (July 1965, B-side of "Crying All By Myself" on Stax 174)
7. Beach Bash – THE MAR-KEYS (August 1964, B-side of "Bush Bash" on Stax 156)
8. My Pride Won't Let Me Be – EDDIE PURRELL (April 1967, B-side of "The Spoiler" on Volt 145)
9. I Need Somebody – JOHNNY DAYE (November 1967, B-side of "What'll I Do For Satisfaction?" on Stax 238)
10. Uh-Oh (I'm In Love Again) – EDDIE JEFFERSON (February 1964, B-side of "I Don't Want You Anymore" on Stax 147)
11. Watchdog – DOROTHY WILLIAMS (June 1964, B-side of "Closer To My Baby" on Volt 118)
12. You'll Never Know How Much I Love You – OSCAR MACK (May 1964, B-side of "Dream Girl" on Stax 152)
13. Please Be Honest With Me – BARBARA and THE BROWNS (September 1964, B-side of "Spunky" on Stax 158)
14. Ain't Got No Girl – WILLIAM BELL (November 1967, B-side of "Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday" on Stax 237)
15. A Boy Named Tom – CARLA THOMAS (July 1964, B-side to "I've Got No Time To Lose" on Atlantic 2238)
16. Sweet Thing – GORGEOUS GEORGE (February 1965, B-side to "Biggest Fool In Town" on Stax 165)
17. Hey Now – EDDIE FLOYD (June 1967, B-side to "Love Is A Doggone Good Thing" on Stax 223)
18. The Big Dipper – SIR ISAAC & THE DO-DADS (November 1965, B-side to "Blue Groove" on Volt 129)
19. We're Tight – RUFUS and CARLA THOMAS (August 1965, B-side to "When You Move You Lose" on Stax 176)
20. I Gotta Have My Baby's Love – SIR MACK RICE (June 1967, B-side of "Love Sickness" on Stax 220)
21. Under My Nose – EDDIE FLOYD (September 1967, B-side to "On A Saturday Night" on Stax 233)
22. Bashful Guitar – JOHNNY JENKINS (October 1964, B-side to "Spunky" on Volt 122)
23. Here I Am – LINDA LYNDELL (March 1968, B-side to "Bring Your Love Back To Me" on Volt 161)
24. Strange Things (Happenin' In My Heart) – JOHNNIE TAYLOR (November 1967, B-side to "Someone's Sleeping In My Bed" on Stax 235)
NOTES: all tracks in MONO except track 1 - which is STEREO
The 16-page booklet has new liner notes from Soul Expert and genre compiler TONY ROUNCE with the text peppered by black and white Stax publicity stills of Johnnie Taylor, Carla Thomas, Eddie Purrell, Rufus Thomas and Eddie Floyd (and others) as well as repos of rare labels like "You Belong To Her" by Barbara and The Browns on Stax S-150 – a B-side you rarely ever clap eyes on. Rounce talks of the Soul label's policy of making the flip just as sexy as the A in a time when 7" singles dominated the jukeboxes and airwaves and albums were still something of an afterthought. It's a typically informative and affectionate rear. DUNCAN COWELL – a long-time Audio Engineer for Ace Records and Sony’s Blue Horizon has handled the transfers and produced stunning sound. 23 are in Mono with the opener in STEREO – yet all feel alive and kicking...another great job done...
It opens on a dancefloor stormer – Johnnie Taylor assuring his woman that his 'changes' shouldn't worry her – what a decent chap. Carla Thomas gives Northern Soul boys something to savour in her excellent "Separation" from 1967 – a great brassy groover. New Orleans R&B creeps into the rhythms of Ivory Joe Hunter's unusual "This Kind Of Woman" where he wants a woman who loves for him to be around home (good luck with the search Ivory). "...Find me a pistol and a nickel baseball bat..." - Rufus Thomas advises the man whose stolen his baby to cough up in the witty "Sho' Gonna Mess Him Up" or the graveyard (and not the saloon) will be his next port of call. The sweet voice of Barbara Brown sings of a man with a child who wants her – but she reminds him of where his rightful place should be in the mid-tempo "You Belong To Her". I've never heard The Mar-Keys instrumental B-side "Beach Bash" – the imaginatively-titled flip to "Bush Bash" on the A – and it's a winner. Piano rolling keys align with Sax jabs and a driving backbeat – some dancefloor somewhere is gonna dig it. The Eddie Purrell flipside is good but I find his vocals strangely off – better is the fabulous groove of "I Need Somebody" by Johnny Daye – now here's a flipside dancers will indeed flip for – and first time on CD too.
Although his croaky vocals don't fit the belting Otis Redding style of the time – Eddie Jefferson has sweetness to his phrasing and along with that seaside organ running through "Uh-Oh (I'm In Love Again)" gives the song a wonderful feel – like your discovering something magic. Genius choice goes to "Watchdog" by Dorothy Williams where her Big Mama Thornton meets Etta James growl anchors a fantastic dancer (what a find). Oscar Mack's 1964 offering "You'll Never Know How Much I Love You" will please Northern Soul lovers with its frantic pace and slightly off-kilter home-made vocals. Probably the best track on here is another Barbara Brown entry – "Please Be Honest With Me" – a wicked 'darling please' pleader with a funky guitar refrain supporting her fantastic 'soul on fire' vocal delivery throughout.
William Bell once again gets Brass-driving Funky with his groover "Ain't Got No Girl" which even sports strange flute flourishes towards the end that work (could have been an 'A' this). Not sure if I like Carla Thomas' 'sugar plum' lyrics in the sappy "A Boy Named Tom" – better is the testifying "Sweet Thing" by Gorgeous George – a properly good dancer anchored by his moaning gargles-gravel-for-breakfast voice. Another absolute genius choice by Tony Rounce goes to the wickedly infectious "Hey Now" by Eddie Floyd – a guitar-and-piano bopper that trundles along like Big Joe Turner finding his Atlantic mojo again and suddenly deciding to give Soul a go. When I reviewed Volume 1 of the 3 mammoth Stax/Volt Singles Box Sets ("The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968 was reissued in January 2016 at mid-price and contains the A's of every track on here) – I raved about discoveries like "Blue Groove" by Sir Isaac & The Do-Dads. Well it turns out that the flipside "The Big Dipper" is equally up to the task – a great instrumental groover. But then I stumble on my fave-rave here – another Eddie Floyd B-side I've been after for years – "Under My Nose" – the flipside to "On A Saturday Night" from 1967. What a winner...
I've always loved the idea of non-album B-sides – flipping a 45 rpm - a concept that in 2016 must seen odd to younger listeners used to a digital world and download delivery system. But this CD compilation only confirms for me the magic of 45s – how there always seems to be something great to discover on them (dippin' in - like double-albums).
I must admit though that it took a second and third listen to fully appreciate the musical wallop of what's on here – but now I'm chewing it up. And as Tony Rounce quite rightly says – Stax had a policy of making sure that 'the backing song was as good as the top side' – and this fabulous CD Reissue of Stax Rarities sure nails that idea to the wall...digital or otherwise...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"...Soul Brother..." – Life, Love And Faith/Southern Nights/Motion by ALLEN TOUSSAINT (2015 Beat Goes On 2CD Remasters)
, February 5, 2016
In November 2009 me and 'she who must be paid on Fridays' went to see The Blind Boys Of Alabama do a one-off gig at the Barbican Theatre in London. We took our cheap-as-politicians £10 seats and out came a lone 'Southern gentleman' who sat down at his beautiful Steinway piano and smiled at the shuffling crowd. Most were there to hear The Blind Boys do 'The Wire' theme song (their wickedly good cover of Tom Waits' "Down In The Hole") – but some were more excited about this support act – ALLEN TOUSSAINT. He began in on his staggering repertoire that goes back to his days with Fats Domino in the Fifties and then as a writer with Minit Records from 1960 onwards.
After several recognisable classics (hits from Clarence Frogman Henry, Ernie K Doe and the lovely "With You In Mind" which Art Neville made a feature in 1991 on his "Warm Your Heart" album) – he smiled and said "...here's another song you might know..." A slow buzz began going around the hall - this New Orleans tunesmith guy is a bit special and goes 'way back'. And he was special. I couldn't believe my luck. Ten quid for this double dose of genius! Toussaint was typically brilliant – chatty, humble, steeped in decades of musical history. It was magical really. The Blind Boys and him even signed CDs after the gig in the foyer (old school class). Allen Toussaint sadly passed in November 2015 – one of the great 'backroom boys' of Soul & New Orleans R&B. And that’s where this fab Beat Goes On twofer comes in. Here be the gentlemanly details...
UK released Friday, 27 November 2015 (December 2015 in the USA) – "Life, Love And Faith/Southern Nights/Motion" by ALLEN TOUSSAINT on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1211 (Barcode 5017261212115) offers 3LPs onto 2CDs and plays out as follows:
Disc 1 (74:22 minutes):
1. Victims Of The Darkness
2. Am I Expecting Too Much?
3. My Baby Is The Real Thing
4. Goin' Down
5. She Once Belonged To Me
6. Out Of The City (Into Country Life)
7. Soul Sister – Side 2
8. Fingers And Toes
9. I've Got To Convince Myself
10. On My Way Down
11. Gone Too Far
Tracks 1 to 12 are his 2nd album "Life, Love And Faith" – released July 1972 in the USA on Reprise Records MS 2060 and in the UK on Reprise K 44202.
13. Last Train
14. World Wide World Wide
15. Back In Baby's Arms
16. Country John
17. Basic Lady
18. Southern Nights
19. You Will Not Lose
20. What Do You Want The Girl To Do?
21. What The Party's Over
22. Cruel Way To Go Down
Tracks 13 to 22 are his 3rd album "Southern Nights" – released May 1975 in the USA on Reprise MS 2186 and in the UK on Reprise K 54021
Disc 2 (39:46 minutes):
1. Night People
2. Just A Kiss Away
3. With You In Mind
4. Lover Of Love
5. To Be With You
6. Motion – Side 2
7. Viva La Money
8. Declaration Of Love
10. The Optimism Blues
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 4th album "Motion" – released July 1978 in the USA on Reprise BSK 3142 and in the UK on Reprise K 56473.
As befits a maverick of his stature – the 24-page booklet is properly chunky and Mojo’s principal Jazz/Soul writer CHARLES WARING is enjoying himself recounting Toussaint's many (largely unheralded) achievements. There are album credits for all three LPs, discussions of his long history in the American Music business and it even reproduces the Lee Hildebrand liner notes for his 1972 Reprise Records debut album "Life, Love And Faith" on Pages 3 to 5. ANDREW THOMPSON has carried out the new 2015 Remasters/Transfers and they sing like a Dixie Band stepping lively behind a casket on a sunny afternoon. These CDs sound fabulous...and on many of the groovy passages in songs like "Out Of The City (Into Country Life)" or the busy changes in the album cut of "Country John" (which has a flanged "Southern Nights" refrain) – all pack a really great sonic punch.
A bit of history first. Although not covered by this BGO compilation - Toussaint’s debut album "Toussaint" from 1970 on Scepter Records got him accolades as a songwriter of repute. That knack for penning a melody/groove also got his songs covered by a huge array of musical luminaries with Soul tingling in their Souls. British vocalist Frankie Miller gave a whole album over to his songs in "High Life" from 1974 on Chrysalis. Robert Palmer did "Night People" on his "Double Fun" LP in 1974 – Bonnie Raitt covered "What Do You Want The Girl To Do?" on her "Home Plate" album in 1975, one of the outtakes that turned up on the 2CD Rhino reissue of Little Feat's magnificent live album "Waiting For Columbus" was Toussaint's "On My Way Down" - and as recent as 2000 Mavis Staples did "Last Train" on her gorgeous "You Are Not Alone" album with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. The strutting Guitar-Funk-Fest that is "Goin' Down" has turned on no less than three hip WEA compilations for Rare Groove track – "Right On! Volume 3" (2001), "Funk Drops 2" (2002) and the wickedly good "What It Is!" 4CD Rhino box set from 2006 (see my detailed review).
As is witnessed by the credits on the rear of the 1972 vinyl LP – "Life, Love And Faith" featured a huge ensemble of musicians – members of his family and most especially members of the New Orleans Funk band The Meters (George Porter, Jr., Joseph Modeliste and Leo Nocentelli). Toussaint sang, played keyboards, acoustic guitar, harmonica and wrote/arranged all the songs. Reprise tried the slinky 'bad boots' Side 2 opener "Soul Sister" b/w "She Once Belonged To Me" as a 7” single in September 1975 on both sides of the pond (Reprise REP 1109, USA – Reprise K 14200, UK) – but it didn't make too much of an impact (good but not memorable enough for either pallet). They made the big mistake of not choosing the relentless funk of "Goin' Down" as the lead off single (now a darling of Rare Groove CD compilations), but alas. Apparently "Am I Expecting Too Much" made promo-stage on 7" in the States (Reprise REP 1132) but despite the fantastic funk in the tune – it didn't take either.
His 3rd album 1975's "Southern Nights" is probably his most popular. The productions values certainly shot through the roof – "Last Train" feeling a little the Average White Band with a different vocalist - while the mid-tempo Sax strut of "Worldwide" has more than a shade of The Meters. "Back In My Baby's Arms" is properly lovely – a sweet lilt that soothes - Arthur Neville on Organ with Deborah Paul, Joan Harmon and Sharon Neborn tearing up the backing vocals with some Soulful harmonising. The title track has always been a barnstormer whenever he did it live – a very pretty melody – and I'd swear John Lennon nicked that treated vocal sound for "Beautiful Boy" on his "Double Fantasy" album in 1980.
A West Coast stellar cast came together for 1978's "Motion" album – Larry Carlton on Guitar, Richard Tee on Piano, Chuck Rainey & Pops Popwell (of The Crusaders) on Bass, Jeff Porcaro on Drum with Bonnie Raitt, Rosemary Butler and Chess Records legend Etta James leant backing vocals to five songs (Tracks 1, 3, 6, 7 and 8). The brilliant New Orleans Funk of "Night People" opens the album on a stormer. The piano-funky "Country John" was edited for 7" single release in the USA on Reprise RPS 1334 with the chipper "When The Party's Over" on the flipside – but despite two strong sides – it failed to chart. A gorgeous album nugget is the six-minute title track "Motion" – a sweetheart of a song that swings along so sweetly and sounding just superb here (an impressive trio of ladies Etta James, Bonnie Raitt and Rosemary Butler bring up the "I love you" harmonies). And how gorgeous is "With You In Mind" - the kind of melody/lyric that sends the chills up the arms...
So if Toussaint was 'so good' you say - why wasn't he huge? Like Bill Withers or Al Green - Toussaint could pen the tunes and get those grooves but unlike them - he arguably hadn't the greatest of voices (good rather than being memorable). Perhaps that's why he always seemed on the fringes...other people/top voices making his great songs shine...
Whatever way you look at it - this is a fantastic release. In fact I also bought the Raven 2CD set "Toussaint: The Real Thing 1970-1975" from August 2015 that lines up the first three albums – so it includes "Toussaint" from 1970 as well as "Life, Love And Faith" and "Southern Nights" (Raven RVCD-386 – Barcode 9398800038622). It has a 12-page booklet and gorgeous audio too care of Remaster Engineer Warren Barnett as well as two Bonus Tracks on Disc 1 (outtakes that originally turned up on 2007’s Gusto CD Reissue for the "Toussaint" album).
Whichever 2CD reissue you buy - you're quid's in – wonderful music and presentation in both instances. The great man deserved to be remembered this well and both Beat Goes On of the UK and Raven of Australia have done so...and with real style...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"...That Old Time Feeling..." – This Is.../The Dynamic...And More by CLARENCE CARTER (2016 Ace/Kent Soul CD Remasters)
, February 5, 2016
Alabama's CLARENCE CARTER has had his Atlantic Records catalogue reissued a number of times before in both the UK and the USA by good labels like Rhino, Sequel and Collectables. I've even got Japanese Atlantic versions from two years back with great sound and a reasonable price. So why buy yet again?
Because this January 2016 CD reissue is by 'Ace Records of the UK' (using their Kent Soul label imprint) and 'best ever audio' hardly even scrapes the surface. This CD reissue sounds truly amazing – presented in crystal clear glorious STEREO. As if that's not enough enticement this new version also offers up something quite rare – five Previously Unreleased album outakes tagged on at the end that are actually worth shelling out for. Ho! Ho! Ho! as the visually-impaired Montgomery Soul singer would say-chuckle. Let's get to the 'looking for a fox' details...
UK released Friday, 29 January 2016 – "This Is Clarence Carter/The Dynamic Clarence Carter...And More" by CLARENCE CARTER on Ace/Kent Soul CDKEND 444 (Barcode 029667244428) offers 2LPs onto 1CD plus Five Previously Unreleased Outtakes and plays out as follows (76:41 minutes):
1. Do What You Gotta Do
2. Looking For A Fox
3. Slippin' Around
4. I'm Qualified
5. I Can't See Myself
6. Wind It Up
7. Part Time Love [Side 2]
8. Thread The Needle
9. Slip Away
10. Funky Fever
11. She's Ain’t Gonna Do Right
12. Set Me Free
Tracks 1 to 12 are his debut album "This Is Clarence Carter" in Stereo – released December 1968 in the USA on Atlantic SD 8192 and in the UK on Atlantic 588 152
13. I'd Rather Go Blind
14. Think About It
15. The Road Of Love
16. You've Been A Long Time Coming
17. Light My Fire
18. That Old Time Feeling
19. Steal Away [Side 2]
20. Let Me Comfort You
21. Look What I Got
22. Too Weak To Fight
23. Harper Valley PTA
24. Weekend Love
Tracks 13 to 24 are his 2nd album "The Dynamic Clarence Carter" in Stereo – released March 1969 in the USA on Atlantic SD 8199 and in the UK on Atlantic 588 172
BONUS TRACKS Recorded 1966-1967:
25. I'm Happy-Go-Lucky (Mono)
26. She Ain't Gonna Do Right (Mono)
27. Take Me, Use Me (Stereo)
28. There Won't Be Another Sunset (Mono)
29. I'll Be Over After A While (Mono)
The 16-page booklet features full plates of the American artwork front and rear for both LPs – but cleverly Ace have reproduced the 'Original Notes' on the rear of each LP in clear print so fans can actually read the text. There's new liner notes from Soul Expert DEAN RUDLAND that goes into wonderful track-by-track knowledge. The two other Ace CDs they've done for Clarence Carter have been for his Fame Records 7" singles – the vast majority of which were in MONO – so these album in glorious true STEREO are something to behold. The reissue label's long-standing Audio Engineer DUNCAN COWELL handled the transfers and Remasters – and wow is all I can say. I've adored "Looking For A Fox" as one of those sneakily great 60ts Soul groovers that slaughter all in its path when you're out on the dancefloor. The album STEREO cut of "Looking For A Fox" presents subtle differences in that it loses the background singers that were on the Mono single cut – but the upside is that the Audio punch is unbelievable and the thrill factor just as good. This is a fantastic sounding CD and Carter fans will absolutely have to ditch all previous versions...
The debut album had been two years in the making for the blind singer – gathering songs and finally getting into Rick Hall's Fame Studios. His debut opens with the rather schlocky Johnny Rivers and Jimmy Webb vehicle "Do What You Gotta Do" – but by the time you get to his fabulous ballad "I Can't See Myself (Crying About You)" and the funky keyboard groove of "Wind It Up" – you're being hit with a lethal combo – great tunes transferred with rolicking audio. Side 2 opens with the chugging Soul of Clay Hammond's "Part Time Love" – the Fame Gang Session Players laying down a blinder on Guitar, Piano and Horns (wow city). Rudland rightly points out that there's a cymbal on "Thread The Needle" that seems to have been overdubbed onto the Stereo mix – the thing is that this sucker sounds so clear - it threatens to punch a hole in your speaker stack. Clarence's utterly gorgeous "Slip Away" is full and clean - and many people's fave raver "Funky Fever" is surely going to make you shimmy your shammy and not give a monkeys what the neighbours think...
His 2nd album only cemented the building reputation of the debut – it opens with a truly stunning transfer of "I'd Rather Go Blind" – a cover of an Etta James classic on Chess. Don Covay & Otis Redding's "Think About It" sounds fantastic too – but Duane Allman fans will freak out for "The Road To Love" – their hero plays a wild guitar solo half way through (flanged left to right and away) and its never sounded this clear to me (and I've had this track at least five times before on varying compilations). Two great sounding tracks follow – Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's "You've Been A Long Time Coming" and The Doors classic "Light My Fire" – but despite the quality transfer neither ignites and in fact feel slightly uncomfortable against the rest of the real Soul Music on the album. Things return to kick ass with the wonderful slink-funk of "That Old Time Feeling" – a co-write between Carter and Rick Hall. His lovely cover of the Jimmy Hughes chart winner "Steal Away" comes at you with such clarity as to make you double take. But my itchy fingers immediately flick to my double Side 2 craves – "Too Weak To Fight" and the fabulous guitar-funk of "Weekend Love" - both dancing like Abbot Costello with ants in his pants. Even his cover of Jeannie C Riley's "Harper Valley PTA" rocks – a cautionary tale where we're reliably informed by the nice principals of said educational establishment that "...Mrs. Johnson...you're wearing your dresses too high..." (oh dear).
I had though the Previously Unreleased would be throw away (four in Mono and one in Stereo) – but thankfully they're not. After all that Stereo bliss – the Mono "I'm Happy-Go-Lucky" comes as an audio shock but a minute in and I'm hooked – a great groove that shows his undeniable knack for picking a 'feeling' and nailing it. Both it and "There Won't Be Another Sunset" are from the same 1967 session and Rudland is right to describe them as 'rather wonderful'. Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn's "She Ain't Gonna Do Right" is a demo and despite its 'frail' audio still sounds great - while the Stereo "Take Me, Use Me" features some lady vocalists to great effect (uncredited unfortunately). His own "I'll Be Over After A While" ends the music fest on an upbeat note...
I've loved Ace's commitment to Soul and R&B across the four long decades they been in the Reissue game. But for me - a long time reviewer and passionate lover of both genres – this CD is something of an Audio milestone. Fantastic music accompanied by truly awesome transfers of it. I know its only the end of January but for little old fart me this is already a shoe in for 2016 'Soul CD Reissue Of The Year'...
PS: I also highly recommend "The Fame Singles Volume 1: 1966-70" by Clarence Carter that Ace put out in 2012 – it has 24 Mono Tracks in blistering sound quality and features many non-album cuts too. See my review...