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Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London)
"...Mister Kiss Kiss...Bang Bang..." – Thunderball O.S.T. by JOHN BARRY (2003 EMI/Capitol CD – Doug Schwartz Remasters)
, June 26, 2016
When the entire James Bond musical catalogue turned up on remastered CD in 2003 - many fans got excited under their immaculately groomed tuxedos - quietly pawing their wallets in Soundtrack glee. I was one of those nerds and was/still am - giddily proud of it. I immediately ran out and purchased 1964's "Goldfinger", 1967's "You Only Live Twice" and 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever" - all so brilliantly scored by the mighty JOHN BARRY.
With those under my belt - I started hoovering up the rest of these brilliant discs - and 1965's "Thunderball" was the next obvious purchase. Also laden with a heap of primo previously unreleased material made available for the first time here (most of it better than what was released) - it's all remastered to perfection by DOUG SCHWARTZ at Mulholland Music from original tapes (79 minutes playing time). Bit of a no brainer really. Here are the jet packs...
UK released March 2003 (February 2003 in the USA) - "Thunderball (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)" on EMI Capitol 00724358058925 (Barcode 724358058925) breaks down as follows (79:06 minutes):
1. Thunderball – Main Title (Vocal Tom Jones)
2. Chateau Flight
3. The Spa
4. Switching The Body
5. The Bomb
6. Café Martinique
7. Thunderball [Side 2]
8. Death of Fiona
9. Bond Below Disco Volante
10. Search For Vulcan
12. Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album "Thunderball: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" - released December 1965 in the UK on United Artists ULP 1110 (Mono) and United Artists SULP 1171 (Stereo) and in the USA on United Artists UAL 4132 (Mono) and United Artists UAS 5132(Stereo). The Stereo mix is used throughout.
PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED BONUS TRACKS:
13. Gunbarrel/Traction Table/Gassing The Plane/Car Chase
14. Bond Meets Domino/Shark Tank/Lights Out For Paula/For King And Country
15. Street Chase
16. Finding The Plane/Underwater Ballet/Bond With Spectre Frogmen/Letter To The Rescue/Bond Joins Underwater Battle
17. Underwater Mayhem/Death Of Largo/End Titles
18. Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Mono)
The 10-page booklet has affectionate, witty and informative liner notes from JEFF BOND (no relation) with Page 5 being a double foldout sporting an array of colour stills from the movie. We get former Miss France – the beautiful Claudia Auger in varying swimsuits (what a nice surprise for James), Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi as Fiona and Martine Beswick as Paula (oddly enough also in a bikini) with the eye-patched Adolfo Celi as the evil Spectre head-honcho lording it over a bevvy of lovelies and hungry sharks on board his super yacht – the Disco Volante.
But the big news here is the SOUND. Like all the other 007 remasters in this full-on series – the AUDIO on this CD is utterly glorious. When the Tom Jones theme comes blasting in on that huge clump of brass instruments and thumping kettledrums – your speakers may want to run for cover. Don’t get me wrong. The music isn’t amped up or trebled for effect – its just 'there' – clear and powerful and dripping with that John Barry 60ts magic. "So he strikes! Like Thunderball!" roars the Welsh boyo with a set of lungs designed to level housing blocks. But from that you get Barry's beautifully atmosphere "Chateau Flight" – all those plucked strings where you can just see the creeping double-agents and the fisticuffs that will ensue.
“Café Martinique” is silky and smooth land immaculate like Sean Connery’s Saville Row tailoring – shimmying along on its beautifully orchestrated string arrangements. The almost boppy “Death Of Fiona” makes you think of the scene at the restaurant when he deposits a dead body in a chair. Better is the fab four-minutes of “Bond Below Disco Volante” – slinky strings building to that moment of danger. And the Audio is awesome...
As if the Soundtrack itself isn't the Georgie Best - you're hit with a wad of Previously Unreleased material from the original film that's been in the can for 40 years too long. The four-part "Gunbarrel etc" lasts just over four minutes and includes that cool 007 refrain bookended by brass and frantic strings as Bond scraps his way out death’s clutches. The second extra "Bond Meets Domino etc." is twice as long at 8:18 minutes and will thrill aficionados with its interwoven Bahamas-rhythms - quickly followed by all that under-watery strong music as James goes snooping round someone’s shellfish. Real 007 freaks will love the fact that "Street Chase" contains what many consider to be Barry's most magnificent moment - often simply called '007' - it's incorporated into the song to great effect. The near 10-minutes "Finding The Plane etc" is the same - gorgeous music that will make you swoon and sway and drag out that fully restored BLU RAY and sit there in your tuxedo and martini (yeah baby).
You remember when Bond was fun, fruity and full of fab gadgets you wanted to stab the school-bully with - well then 1965’s "Thunderball" on CD is your jet-propelled poison. Barry would go on to his two masterpieces - 1967's "You Only Live Twice" and 1969's "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" - and I can't be rational about either.
“Thunderball” is a fabulous CD Remaster and presently priced at less than five post-Brexit bent pound coins. You go James...
"…Let Me In Your Life..." - Live At Carnegie Hall by BILL WITHERS (Inside 'The Complete Sussex And Columbia Albums' 9CD Box Set)
, June 25, 2016
Columbia have many world-class box sets in their "Complete Album Series" – but you'd have to say that this BILL WITHERS winner is just a little bit more special than most. And with a thoroughly deserved Grammy win under the belt - it's time to review the great Soul Man's legacy - especially his brilliant but overlooked live double from 1973 – the fabulous "Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall".
You can buy the CD for "Carnegie Hall" in two ways - a 1997 stand-alone Remaster on Columbia/Legacy 488987 2 (use Barcode 5099748898722 to locate it) – a disc that gives you the full 14-track double-album onto 1CD (it was originally recorded 6 October 1972 at the famous venue in New York).
But I'd argue that Withers is too damn good to penny-pinch - so I'd advise to splash the cash and get the album within "The Complete Sussex And Columbia Albums" 9CD Box Set released November 2012 to much acclaim. Sony Music/Legacy 88697894672 (Barcode 886978946720) is a truly stunning 9-album set with a 40-page colour booklet that can often be procured for under a twenty-spot. Not only do you get the mighty "Carnegie Hall" double but you nail "Just As I Am" – his debut from 1971 – the wonderful "Still Bill" follow up LP from 1972 – 1974's unfairly forgotten "+ 'Justments" and so much more - "Making Music" (October 1975), "Naked & Warm" (October 1976), "Menagerie" (October 1977), "'Bout Love" (March 1979) and finally "Watching You Watching Me" (May 1985). But for this review we’ll concentrate on Disc 3 of 9 - "Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall" (77:09 minutes):
1. Use Me (Live)
2. Friend Of Mine (Live)
3. Ain’t No Sunshine (Live)
4. Grandma’s Hands (Live)
5. World Keeps Going Around (Live) - [Side 2]
6. Let Me In Your Life (Live)
7. Better Off Dead (Live)
8. For My Friend (Live)
9. I Can't Write Left Handed (Live) - [Side 3]
10. Lean On Me (Live)
11. Lonely Town Lonely Street (Live)
12. Hope She’ll Be Happier (Live)
13. Let Us Love (Live) – [Side 4]
14. Harlem/Cold Baloney (Live)
Tracks 1 to 13 are the live double album "Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall" – released April 1973 on Sussex SXBS 7025-2 in the USA and A&M/Sussex AMLD 3001 in the UK.
The attention to detail in the Box set is pleasing - the first 4 discs sport the Sussex label as per the original vinyl albums while the following five have the red Columbia labels. "Still Bill" has its 'opening doors' front sleeve while the double "Live At Carnegie Hall" also has its original gatefold reproduced. Each card sleeve is now bordered in white but it looks and feels classy (even if the print is tiny). The chunky 40-page booklet doesn’t scrimp on detail either - track-by-track annotation with photos of the albums, rare music press adverts, liner notes by Michael Eric Dyson and even a letter from the great man himself at the beginning about his long musical journey.
But the big news for fans is the stunning new remastered sound carried out by a trio of engineers - MARK WILDER for 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 with 1, 2 and 7 handled by JOSEPH M. PALMACCIO and 3 (Carnegie Hall) done by TOM RUFF. Original analogue master tapes have been used in all transfers and what a sweetie they've produced - the sound quality is truly glorious throughout. Beautiful feel - space around the instruments - clarity - warm bass - not to over-trebled - it’s a top notch job done and makes you re-hear all those wonderful songs anew.
Like 1972's "Donny Hathaway Live" LP (a single album on Atlantic Records) - 1973's "Bill Withers Live At Carnegie Hall..." vinyl double has garnished a legendary reputation amongst Soul aficionados. Intimate with his audience despite the venue size - a band cooking - songs that sway and groove. Five of its mainly mellow fourteen are exclusive - the impassioned love songs "Friend Of Mine" and "Let Us Love", the acoustic old-man weariness of "World Keeps Going Around", the aching anti-war song "I Can't Write Left-Handed" and "Cold Baloney" which is worked into a 14 minute encore with "Harlem". "Carnegie Hall" is a whole heap of magic and you can literally feel the audience filing it into their memory banks. When he launches into some of the debut album's finest moments - "Ain't No Sunshine" or the lesser-heard funk of "Better Off Dead" - you can literally feel the crowd loving it - grooving - whopping - whistling.
There's Funk on here too - "Lonely Town, Lonely Street" from the 1972 "Still Bill" LP is neck-jerking excellence. That's immediately followed by the exact opposite - "Hope She'll Be Happier With Him". It's a love song - tender and open like a wound - Withers sings "...maybe the lateness of the hour...makes me seem bluer than I am..." The cello builds, as he belts out those hurting lyrics "...over the darkness I have no power...hope she'll be happier with him..." His other huge hit "Lean On Me" elicits a whole-house handclap - a gorgeous Soul moment. This is a song that has huge resonance and one that often moves me to tears. I’m sure a few were shed as this was played that October night back in 1972 New York.
Somehow like equal giants Bobby Womack, Minnie Riperton and Donny Hathaway - Bill Withers has always been the underdog of Soul - never spoken about in the same awe-struck tones that are routinely given to Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. In my book he’s always been right up there with the best of them - a world class Soul Brother - and this ludicrously good CD Remaster is a way in for us mere mortals to that musical greatness...
"...I loved that old lady..." - he says to the audience as he introduces "Grandma's Hands" on "Live At Carnegie Hall". Well - we feel the same about you mate. Beautiful and then some...
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"...Gonna Have A Little Party..." – Good 'N' Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story by EGGS OVER EASY (2016 Yep Rock 2CD Remasters)
, June 25, 2016
No less than the influential Mojo Magazine has declared that 'British Pub Rock' is the fault of three long-haired American Country-Rock lads - Marin County's EGGS OVER EASY. And Yep Records of the USA are determined to get you to acknowledge this fact (and maybe buy) – producing this beautifully handled but musically patchy 2CD reissue for these forgotten and largely unacknowledged trend makers. But in order to get a fuller lay of the musical landscape – we need to get some serious detail out of the way first...
EGGS OVER EASY were:
Oakland’s JACK O'HARA (Guitar, Bass and Lead Vocals)
Philadelphia's AUSTIN de LONE (Keyboards, Guitars and Lead Vocals)
Greenwich Village’s BRIEN HOPKINS (Guitar, Bass, Keyboards and Lead Vocals).
These unlikely heroes came to Blighty in November 1970 at the behest of Hendrix's Producer and Manager Chas Chandler - and through incessant gigs, support slots and some recording sessions at Olympic Studios (a haunt loved of both Hendrix and The Stones) - influenced a huge array of notable types including Elvis Costello and especially Nick Lowe's Brinsley Schwarz (who of course influenced loads more later on). Those unreleased sessions that were to form their 1971 debut album are now released on Disc 2 in tact for the first time.
Broke and without a label due to contractual crap and management decisions and still ensconced in the capitol city - they began gigging in London's 'Tally Ho' Jazz Club to buy - well Egg and Chips. And slowly from an audience of 8 to packing in hundreds - their rep began to grow. Soon they were meeting and playing for back-to-basic soon-to-be outfits like Brinsley Schwarz, Ducks Deluxe and Bees Make Honey and hanging out with influential people like the beloved and sympathetic British DJ John Peel. Which brings us to this reissue...
UK released Friday 24 June 2016 - "Good 'N' Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story" by EGGS OVER EASY on Yep Roc/Universal YEP-2402/B0022373-02 (Barcode 634457240223) is a 2CD Set of Remasters offering two albums, one 45 and a Previously Unreleased set of 1971 recordings on Disc 2. It plays out as follows:
Disc 1 (79:39 minutes):
1. Party Party
3. Henry Morgan
4. The Factory
5. Face Down In The Meadow
6. Home To You
7. Song is Born Of Riff And Tongue
8. Don't Let Nobody
9. Runnin' Down To Memphis
10. Pistol On A Shelf
11. Night Flight
Tracks 1 to 11 are their debut album "Good 'N' Cheap" - released September 1972 in the USA on A&M Records SP 4366 (no UK LP release until July 1986 on a reissue label - Edsel ED 199). Produced by LINK WRAY.
12. I'm Gonna Put A Bar In The Back Of My Car (& Drive Myself To Drink)
13. Horny Old Lady
Tracks 12 and 13 are a USA-Only 7" single released 1976 on Buffalo Records BR-0001
15. Scene Of The Crime
16. Forget About It
18. Lizard Love
19. You Lied
21. She Loves Me
23. Mover's Lament
24. Noonie Nookie No
Tracks 14 to 24 are their second and last studio album "Fear Of Frying" - released 1981 in the USA on Squish Records NSFA-001
Disc 2 - London '71 (40:29 minutes)
1. Goin' to Canada
2. I Can Call You
3. Right On Roger
4. Country Waltz
5. Give Me What's Mine
6. Across From Me
7. Waiting For My Ship
9. Give And Take
10. Funky But Clean
11. I'm Still The Same
12. 111 Avenue C
The 24-page booklet features in-depth liner notes by GENE SCULATTI and contributions from surviving band members O’Hara and De Lone (Brien Hopkins passed in 2007) alongside A&M publicity photos, live shots, trade reviews and the usual reissue credits. The Audio is top class. PAUL STUBBLEBINE and FRED KERVORKIAN (of Kervorkian Mastering) did the Digital Transfers and Mastering and after years of dubious reissues - this is surely the best the Audio is ever going to be. Disc 2 admittedly has some hiss on the quieter passages - but never anything too much that would detract. The six-flap card-digipak has see-through trays with more photos while the flap has an array of press clippings. It's very tastefully done and feels substantial.
For their fondly remembered debut produced by Mister Guitar Rumble himself LINK WRAY (he plays ‘Kitchen Knife Lap Guitar’ too) - musically think The Band meets The Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Because Eggs Over Easy featured three distinctive voices - the songs alternate lead singers - so you get a light tone one moment - and a deeper the next. Despite the booklet's claim to undiscovered genius like Soul troubadour Rodriguez or Garage Band The Sonics (see my reviews) - the music is a very mixed bag. It works and doesn't work. When they're good - there's magic there - but when they're ordinary - you can hear why the public ignored it. "Song Of Riff And Tongue" is ruined by weedy vocals whereas the 'man shot in the head' horror of "Face Down In The Meadow" is given incredible power by its simple strumming melody and Hopkins' expressive voice. And as he sings "...just a few friends knew his name..." you can 'so' hear where Brinsley Schwarz and Help Yourself got some of their sound from (or were seriously influenced by this). "Home To You" is lovely and "Henry Morgan" could be straight off The Band's "Music From Big Pink" - his voice even sounding like Levon Helm in places. The kick-your-detractors-in-the-nuts song "Don't Let Nobody" is mild Funk Rock - the 'airplane' "Runnin' Down To Memphis" is pleasant enough too. "Pistol On The Shelf" has a sweet melody feeling like a really good Gene Clark number. It ends on the rocking "Night Flight" which has Punk in its veins - shades of Ducks Deluxe and even the New York Dolls years before the event.
You can hear the Nick Lowe wit in a song title like "I'm Gonna Put A Bar In The Back Of My Car (& Drive Myself To Drink)" - a lone American 45 in 1976 on Buffalo Records - a good time piano-rolling romp. But its 'come to my bedside' "Horny Old Lady" B-side thinks its hip but is probably best forgotten.
The 1981 second-album "Fear Of Frying" suffers from two influences within the band. It doesn't know what it wants to be – ‘New Wave’ one moment or ‘Country Rock’ the next. It opens with "Fire" - an updated more Funky version of the debut LP sound. Again it's good and awful - a victim of the time and naff productions. "Forget About It" sounds like it’s trying too hard to be angry and radical and all ‘New Wave’ - but the Country Rock of "Louise" works - great vocals and a very pretty melody. We’re back to sub Motels territory with "Lizard Love" - while the Saxophone Bluesy-Rock of "You Lied" feels like the kind of song Gary US Bonds would sing when it was given to him by fan and friend - Bruce Springsteen. "She Loves Me" is good too but "Action" just ends up sounding hammy.
Versions of the ‘Previously Unreleased’ tracks on Disc 2 turned up as Bonus cut on the February 2006 Hux Records CD Remaster of the debut album. Here we get the full session – even more paired back than the released LP. Excellent melodies like "Goin' To Canada", the lonesome and plaintive weariness of "January" and The Band sounding "Across From Me" rescue the bad taste that second LP left in the mouth. They rock out on "Funky But Clean" - a wickedly hooky little mother with some fuzzed-up guitar and 'I'm Funky' vocals. It ends on the Jazzy piano of "111 Avenue C" - a tune about a 'sweet thing' that lives on...
Despite the booklet’s hyped claims of genius - the audio evidence presented here hardly suggests that. But for Country-Rock and early Pub Rock aficionados there's also a 'whole lot to love' - especially that overlooked debut album "Good 'N' Cheap" and Disc 2's genuinely great discoveries.
Fans will absolutely have to own it and well done to all at Yep Roc for doing the band's legacy such a solid...
|Offered by Fulfillment Express US|
"...Beautifully Sad..." - Berlin by LOU REED (1998 RCA Records/BMG CD Remaster)
, June 22, 2016
Few albums polarise people (and fans) more than the terminally bleak yet brutally truthful "Berlin". It took me years to like it - and even now in 2016 - there are parts of Side 1 I can't bear to listen to.
But when I play "The Kids", "The Bed" and especially "Sad Song" from Side 2 all in a row - I also think it may be one of 'the' great unsung-masterpieces of the Seventies.
Some thought at the time that "Berlin" was uniformly cold and distant as all around Lou Reed seemed to be descending into a self-afflicted drug-addiction Hell. The infamous Rolling Stone review called it 'offensive' and wished it didn't exist somehow - while another more positive reappraisal likened its more grandiose moments to the inventiveness of "Sgt. Peppers". It also seemed like the Louster was trying to tear down the Glam Rock image and popularity of his huge "Transformer" album from 1972 with the monster "Walk On The Wild Side" hit single thrilling everybody (including David Bowie fans).
But "Berlin" was very different. Not a concept LP – not quirky happy-wappy crossover Pop either - just uber-realistic – aimless lives ending in casually bleak ways. It was probably just too much and too realistic for its 1973 audience - what with Cocaine and Heroin destroying everything around them and rendering certain areas of many US cities no-go zones (the same applied to cities in Europe too). "Berlin" only reached No. 98 in the US Pop & Rock LP charts - but faired much better in Blighty managing an impressive No. 7. Either way - I'd argue that the album's best moments are 'beautifully sad' and truly amazing. Lou Reed's "Berlin" sounds like no other record of the period. Which brings us to this exceptionally well remastered CD of it. Here are the doom 'n' gloom details...
UK released March 1998 (reissued in May 2003) – "Berlin" by LOU REED on RCA 07863 67489 2 (Barcode 078636748924) is a straightforward Remaster of the 10-track 1973 LP and plays out as follows (49:34 minutes):
2. Lady Day
3. Men Of Good Fortune
4. Caroline Says I
5. How Do You Think It Feels
6. Oh Jim [Side 2]
7. Caroline Says II
8. The Kids
9. The Bed
10. Sad Song
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 3rd Solo album "Berlin" – released October 1973 in the USA on RCA Records APL1-0207 and in the UK on RCA Victor RS 1002. Produced by BOB EZRIN – it peaked at No. 98 in the US LP charts and No. 7 in the UK.
The CD Reissue supervised by PAUL WILLIAMS - the famously elaborate 'booklet' that accompanied original vinyl copies has been reproduced in the elaborate 12-leaf foldout inlay. You get those heavy-hitting lyrics, album and reissue credits and a critique of the record and its cultural impact by MICHAEL HILL. It his overview he claims (and rightly to) that the album reveals the 'real' Lou Reed - an invested yet aloof outsider commenting on a lifestyle and people he knew all too well. But the big news is the Audio Restoration done by BILL LACEY and MIKE HARTRY that is gorgeous. You can really hear Jack Bruce's Bass contributions on "Caroline Says I" and Steve Hunter's guitar on "How Do You Think It Feels" as well as Michael and Randy Brecker on the Horns.
As if a precursor to the doom-to-come - "Berlin" opens with a grotesque 'Happy Birthday To You' racket from some drunken bar that slowly segues into a lone piano and Lou whispering in echoed vocals about a five-foot ten-inches-tall lady in Berlin. He sings of 'paradise' but it feels like he's channelling the saddest Tom Waits observation. RCA USA tried "Lady Day" as the B-side to "How Do You Think It Feels" on 45 in October 1973 (RCA 0172) - bit no one noticed either side. Steve Winwood (of Traffic and Blind Faith) guests to on Organ and Harmonium to great effect ably helped by Procol Harum's B.J. Wilson on Drums. But that caustic number is as nothing to the poisonous "Men Of Good Fortune" - a song that plays of 'men of good fortune' against 'men of poor beginnings' with neither coming off particularly well. The first of the "Caroline Says" songs hits you next where she 'can't help but be mean' and wants our Lou to be more ‘manly’. The Side ends on "How Do You Think It Feels" - a straightforward question about the effects of speed pills. But my fave is the threesome of songs that end the record - "The Kids", "The Bed" and the amazing "Sad Song".
A junkie-mum is having her children taken away from her in "The Kids" where Lou probably did his 'best guy in the world' ratings no favours with lines like "...in the alleys and bars she couldn't be beat...the miserable rotten slut couldn't turn anyone away..." If that sounds cold and brutal – it is – but the soft acoustic strumming that accompanies the seven and half minutes of the song make it feel crushingly sad and real and truthful and somehow not nearly as mean and detached as it sounds. The same softly approach comes with "The Bed" – a song about a woman who took her life in the bed where the singer’s children were conceived (nice). It ends on the truly beautiful and fully orchestrated "Sad Song" - a full on seven-minute masterpiece that amazes me even now.
I suppose only a curmudgeon like Lou Reed could have made "Berlin" - poised to take the world by its 'wild side' - but instead he depresses the crap out of all and sundry. Will we ever see the like of his opinionated genius ever again...
"...Love Must’ve Made You On A Sunday..." - Foreigner by CAT STEVENS (2000 Universal CD Remaster)
, June 22, 2016
In truth - by the summer of 1973 - Cat Stevens was probably losing his audience. Released in July of that strange year for Rock music - "Foreigner” managed a No. 3 placing in the UK and US charts despite some critical reviews about its move away from simple three-minute songs. And 1974's occasionally musical mishmash "Buddah And The Chocolate Box" didn't help matters either. With a get-some-money-in-quick "Greatest Hits" in July 1975 - from thereon in - 1977"s "Izitso" saw him drop even further down the LP charts (No. 18) and 1979's "Back To Earth" didn't bother the UK Top 100 at all.
In fact for some fans his classic run of albums on the mighty Island Records ends with September 1972's "Catch Bull At Four". But I'd argue that the overlooked and now forgotten "Foreigner" LP is a bit of an unsung masterpiece - especially that fabulous 8-part "Foreigner Suite" occupying the whole of Side 1. And this little beauty of a CD Remaster from way back in the summer of 2000 only hammers that home. Here are the cat-like details...
UK released August 2000 - "Foreigner" by CAT STEVENS on Universal/Island IMCD 272 (Barcode 731454688727) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 5-track 1973 LP and plays out as follows (36:07 minutes):
1. Foreigner Suite [Side 1]
2. The Hurt [Side 2]
3. How Many Times
5. 100 I Dream
Tracks 1 to 5 are his 7th studio album "Foreigner" - released July 1973 in the UK on Island ILPS 9240 and in the USA on A&M Records SP-4391. Produced by CAT STEVENS (all songs by CS also) - it peaked at No.3 on both the US and UK LP charts.
CAT STEVENS – Piano, Electric Piano, Pianos III, Organ, ARP Synth, R.M.I. Electric Piano, Acoustic & Synthesized Guitars, Clavinet, Bass and all Lead Vocals
PHIL UPCHURCH – Guitar
PAUL MARTINEZ – Bass
HERBIE FLOWERS - Bass (only on "How Many Times")
BERNARD PURDIE – Drums (All Tracks except for GERRY CONWAY on Parts 2 and 4 of "Foreigner Suite")
JEAN ROUSSEL - Brass and String Arrangements (Electric Piano on Parts 6 and 8 of "Foreigner Suite")
PATTI AUSTIN, BARBARA MASSEY and TASHA THOMAS – Backing Vocals on Tracks 1, 2 and 4
The 12-page booklet reproduces the lyrics that were on the hard card insert that came with original vinyl LPs (front cover on the first page, back cover on the last) and that black and white painting he did of a Polar Bear. But some UK copies came with a 'Postcard' and of course that beautiful embossed sleeve that was so hard to keep clean - you don't get either. BILL LEVENSON supervised the reissue while TED JENSEN did the Remaster from original two-track analogue master tapes at Sterling Sound in New York. This CD sounds gorgeous - all the instruments clear, strong and present in your speakers. If anything - it seems to have brought the musicianship out more. A top job done...
"...There are no words...I can use...because the meaning still leaves for you to choose..." opens the 18:21 minutes of the 8-part "Foreigner Suite". Beautifully musical - the moods dip and sway - fast to slow - the production so damn good. You can hear Bernard Purdie's expert drumming, Phil Upchurch flicking those guitar strings - but most of all you can hear Cat giving it passion when he sings and the sheer range of instruments he plays. I've always loved this track - and yet at nearly nineteen minutes - it doesn't feel laboured or overstaying its welcome. The final part play-out when he sings "...The moment you fell inside my dreams...I realised all I had not seen..." is joyful and dare we say it - cool.
Preceding the album - Island Records UK tried the Side 2 opener "The Hurt" as a 45 on Island WIP 6163 in July 1973 with "Silent Sunlight" from the "Catch Bull At Four" album as its B-side. It's a great Cat Stevens melody lifted hugely by the 'oohs' and 'aahs' of the three Soulful ladies on backing vocals - Patti Austin, Barbara Massey and Tasha Thomas (Jean Roussel's String and Brass contributions help too). His always close to the surface pain and longing come screaming through the aching "How Many Times" - one of the LP's forgotten gems. Herbie Flowers plays a sweet bass but Cat’s own gentle tinkles on the piano also entrance. "Later" is a wicked foot-tapper that could also have been a lead off 7" single if not for its slightly saucy nature - Phil Upchurch, the girls and those Jean Roussel string arrangements (this one done in conjunction with Cat) all adding hugely to the overall sonic impact. "100 I Dream" has somehow always felt like the weakest song on the LP - but actually on re-hearing it in 2016 - I'm digging it a whole lot more - even if it isn't the greatest tune on the CS roster.
Reviewers always want to focus on 1970's breakthrough album "Tea For The Tillerman" followed by the glorious "Teaser And The Fire Cat" in 1971 - but Cat Stevens is one of those artists where I want to own everything because I know there'll be good stuff on them somewhere. And "Foreigner" contains a lot of that 'good stuff' (it’s online for peanuts too).
"...Heaven must have programmed you..." - Cat Stevens sings on "Foreigner Suite". Indeed she did...
"...Good Times..." - Running Jumping Standing Still by "SPIDER" JOHN KOERNER and WILLIE MURPHY (1993 Red House CD Remaster)
, June 22, 2016
"...Do you feel like an outcast...well the Red Palace is the name of the place...good times don't go to waste..." - John Koerner sings on the barrelhouse opener "Red Palace" where his six-piece ensemble of late 60ts Folk outcasts feel like The Band have hit a bar and hijacked the upright piano in the corner - drunk and fearless...
Taking its album-name from the Richard Lester Goons Film of 1960 (Directed by Lester and Peter Sellers) - Folky and Bluesman "Spider" John Koerner got together with Blues keyboardist Willie Murphy to make an album of all sorts. It's hard to describe this LP - part Folk-Rock, part Americana - it could easily be The Band album between 1968's "Music From Big Pink" and 1969's "The Band".
"Running Jumping Standing Still" is pictured and critiqued on Page 50 of the truly gorgeous hardback book that accompanies the November 2006 "Forever Changing: The Golden Age Of Elektra Records 1963-1973" 5CD Deluxe Edition Box Set - given a sort of 'overlooked' pride of place. And this gorgeous-sounding Red House Records '25th Anniversary Edition' Expanded CD Reissue and Remaster brings it to audio life like never before. Here are the mixed-up details...
USA released February 1993 - "Running Jumping Standing Still" by "SPIDER" JOHN KOERNER and WILLIE MURPHY on Red House Records RHR CD 63 (Barcode 033651006329) is a '25th Anniversary Edition' Expanded CD Reissue and Remaster and plays out as follows (49:43 minutes):
1. Red Palace
2. I Ain't Blue
3. Bill & Annie
4. Old Brown Dog
5. Running, Jumping, Standing Still
6. Sidestep [Side 2]
7. Magazine Lady
8. Friends And Lovers
9. Sometimes I Can't Help Myself
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Running Jumping Standing Still" - released June 1969 in the USA on Elektra Records EKS 74041 and in the UK on Elektra EKL 4041 (Mono) and Elektra EKS 74041 (Stereo) – reissued in the UK in 1971 on Elektra Records K 42026. Produced by FRAZIER MOHAWK and recorded at Elektra's Paxton Lodge on the Feather River, Keddie, California - all songs are by John Koerner and Willie Murphy. The STEREO MIX was used for this CD.
BONUS TRACK (Previously Unreleased Outtake From The LP Session):
11. Some Sweet Nancy
JOHN KOERNER - Guitar and Vocals
WILLIE MURPHY - Piano, Electric Bass and Vocals
KEN JENKINS - Trombone, Tenor Saxophone, Cello and Acoustic Bass
TOD ANDERSON - Horns
JOHN WILCE - Banjo and Mandolin
SANDY KONIKOFF - Drums
The gatefold slip of paper that is the inlay has brief but informative liner notes by ERIC PELTONIEMI about the 'might have been' album and its gestation, reissue credits and so forth - it even offers a potted Koerner/Murphy discography - but no photos and a distinct lack of wow.
The same cannot be said of the fantastic remaster from original tapes carried out by ROGER SIEBEL. This Red House Records CD sounds amazing - a tiny bit hissy in places for sure but never dampened down or pro-tooled out of existence. There's warmth to these recordings that bring in my mind of the organic sound Link Wray achieved on his "Link Wray" and "Mordecai Jones" albums in the early 70ts on Polydor (see review for "3-Track Shack").
"Spider" John Koerner and his eclectic voice/guitar tunings went way back with Elektra Records to 1963 and the legendary "Blues, Rags & Hollers" LP (followed in 1964 with "More Blues, Rags & Hollers"). Both records were Rag Mama Rag albums Koerner did with the duo of Tony "Snaker" Glover" and Dave "Liitle Sun" Ray. Those LPs shook up the Folk-Blues scene at the time and are hard to find (Rhino remastered both in 2004 onto 1CD when they began reissuing Elektra Records Folk artists in earnest). Koerner also had three songs featured on the equally legendary and wonderful "The Blues Project" LP on Elektra in 1964 - see my review of that inside February 2015 "The GREENWICH VILLAGE Folk Scene" 5CD Box Set in Rhino's "Original Album Series". Minneapolis kid Willie Murphy was a Keyboard and Bassist who would later go on to produce Bonnie Raitt's debut LP and ply his trade as Willie And The Bees following his departure from Koerner after their lone collaboration flopped.
Riding the shirt tales of November 1968’s "Music From Big Pink" - the Folk/Blues/Jazz/Vaudeville mash-up that is "Running Jumping Standing Still" LP hit the shops in June 1969 in the USA in a blizzard of Elektra publicity - but no one took any notice. Since its commercial failure on release – it’s gained a sort of hallowed reputation amongst Americana collectors as the illegitimate but deserving child of The Band’s musical legacy.
Actually “Running Jumping Standing Still” is a difficult record to describe. Never is this more apparent on the near eight-minute "Old Brown Dog" which is a Band amble on piano and acoustic guitar that despite its length doesn't overstay itself. And just when you think you've got a measure of its Americana folksiness - it launches into piano soloing that feels like Herbie Hancock let loose on a Steinway with a few brandies - and he don't care. It's quite brilliant really. "It Ain't Blue" has beautiful musicality in its 'lonesome' moan while "Running Jumping Standing Still" is fast and furious - like The Doors gone hillbilly. "Sidestep" is a Rock song at its guitar core while the excellent "Magazine Lady" even has slightly Psych brass sections that sound like Mungo Jerry popped a few mushrooms and turned on a microphone (it was picked as the track to represent the album on the "Forever Changing" 5CD Box Set). "Friends And Lovers" is a pretty piano ballad where they sound like Emitt Rhodes on Probe Records. "Goodnight" ends the record with Koerner 'putting to bed my tired head'. The Previously Unreleased song "Some Sweet Nancy" was meant for the record apparently but left off due to vinyl's limitations - it's excellent and similar to "Sometimes I Can't Help Myself".
A mad record - a great album - a cocktail of so many styles – "Running Jumping Standing Still" by "SPIDER" JOHN KOERNER and WILLIE MURPHY is all of these disparate things and worse. I dig it man. This is one orphaned son of The Band that deserves your cuddles...
"...I Keep Coming Back For Me..." - His California Album by BOBBY 'BLUE' BLAND (1991 MCA Records CD Remaster)
, June 22, 2016
I've been meaning to review this fantastic Soul album probably for the guts of 20 years or more.
Tennessee's Robert Calvin 'Bobby "Blue" Bland' put out his first long-player "Two Steps from The Blues" in January 1961 on Duke Records. It was a 12-track ragbag of Duke 7" singles - some titles stretching back as far as March 1957. Universal have honoured that sterling beginning as part of a fabulous CD Series they released Stateside in February 2001 called "Blues Classics - Remastered & Revisited" - 11 titles - and Bland's debut "Two Steps From The Blues" has pride of place amongst them (see separate reviews for all 11 titles).
From there on in - the rasping singer moved ever further away from his Blues and R&B roots and embraced Soul Music for the rest of his career. Which brings us to the two albums he made with Dunhill Records in the USA - kicking off his Seventies output. First up was October 1973's "His California Album", following by another absolute masterpiece - "Dreamer" in August 1974. He would go on to make three more albums for ABC - "Get On Down With Bobby Bland" in September 1975, "Reflections In Blue" in May 1977 and "Come Fly With Me" in June 1978 - eventually signing to MCA Records in 1979 for "I Feel Good, I Feel Fine".
But for many fans - the duo of LPs he made in California with Dunhill in '73 and '74 remain something of a Soul Holy Grail. Which brings us around to this great sounding but naffly presented American CD reissue from way back in August of 1991 (reissued several times since with no upgrades, May 1998 and October 2004). It offers little by way of info but man it sounds fab. Here are the details...
Originally USA released 13 August 1991 - "His California Album" by BOBBY BLUE BLAND on MCA Records MCA 10349 (Barcode 008811034924) is a straightforward transfer of the 1973 US Soul album and plays out as follows (38:08 minutes):
1. This Time I'm Gone For Good
2. Up And Down World
3. It's Not The Spotlight
4. (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right
5. Goin' Down Slow
6. The Right Place At The Right Time [Side 2]
7. Help Me Through The Day
8. Where My Baby Went
9. Friday The 13th Child
10. I've Got To Use My Imagination
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "His California Album" - released October 1973 in the USA on ABC/Dunhill Records DSX-50163 and may 1974 in the UK on Probe SPB 1088. Produced by STEVE BARRI - it peaked at No. 3 in the US R&B LP charts and No. 136 on the US Pop charts (didn't chart in the UK).
BOBBY 'BLUE' BLAND – Vocals
BEN BENAY, DAVID COHEN, LARRY CARLTON, DEAN PARKS and MEL BROWN – Guitars
MICHAEL OMARTIAN – Piano and Organ
CHUCK FINDLEY, DICK HYDE, ERNIE WAYS, JACK KELSEY, Jr. and PAUL HUBINON – Horns
MAX BENNETT and WILDON FELDER (of The Crusaders) – Bass
ED GREENE – Drums
GINGER BLAKE, JULIA TILLMAN and MAXINE WILLARD – Backing Vocals
SID SHARP – Concert Master for Strings
There is a gatefold slip of paper for an inlay with some very basic liner notes from ANDY McKAIE – a name associated with oodles of quality R&B and Soul reissues. Apart from telling you there may be some tape hiss inherent in the transfer process (a generic disclaimer on all those early MCA CDs) – there’s no mastering credits. Yet the album sounds amazing – beautifully rich. I would add however that in my ever-forward quest for better sound on this brilliant album – I bought and reviewed the "Greatest Hits Volume Two: The ABC-Dunhill/MCA Recordings" CD from 1998 for Bobby Bland precisely because it has a couple of the "California" LP tracks in remastered form on it done by the great ERICK LABSON. They sound awesome - but again - I reiterate - despite any lack of credits - the audio on this cheap-as-chips 1991 CD is really excellent...
You know you're in the presence of something special the moment the slow slinky Soul opener "This Time I'm Gone For Good" hits the speakers. Featuring his now trademark rasp (oh Lord!) - the Don Robey/Oscar Peter penned song was issued as a lead-off 45 for the album in November 1973 on ABC/Dunhill D-4369 with Side 2's "Where Baby Went" as its flip-side. While the Pop charts ignored it - the US R&B charts loved the song and rewarded it with a No. 5 position - his highest placing since "These Hands (Small But Mighty)" on Duke Records in 1965. To say they were a bit slow to follow-up is an understatement - Bland would have to wait until March of 1974 for the equally excellent "Goin' Down Slow" to be the next single off the LP - coupled with "Up And Down World" on ABC/Dunhill D-4379 which even then managed a respectable R&B chart placing of No. 17.
So many great songs – the 'V. Morrison' writer's credited alongside Mr. Don 'Dubious' Robey for "Up and Down World" is Vernon Morrison and not Belfast's Van - although the pair admired each other and would work together later in their careers. The fantastic and frankly beautiful "It's Not The Spotlight" written by Gerry Goffin with Barry Goldberg would be picked up on by Rod Stewart (smart boy) for his "Atlantic Crossing" LP in 1975 and by so many afterwards (love Beth Orton's version on her 1996 CD single for "She Calls Your Name"). Written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Randy Jackson - the marital infidelity song "(If Loving is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right" is great Bobby Bland Soul. Luther Ingram had done a stone classic version of it in 1972 on Ko Ko Records. Rod Stewart would cover the torch song with the Faces and on his "Foot Loose & Fancy Free" album in 1977 (David Ruffin would have a go too in 1973 and Millie Jackson in 1974). Side 1 ends with the cool "Goin' Down Slow" - a tune that finally allows the musicians to spread out - Michael Omartian giving it some Piano and Organ throughout.
After the near perfection of Side 1 - Side 2 unfortunately has one or two 'not so good' tunes. The 'boppy' Soul of "The Right Place At The Right Time" is attributed to Don Robey but its chipper flicking-guitar and uptempo Brass feel ever so slightly forced - like they're looking for a hit single and not finding one. Things return to genius with his cover of Leon Russell's "Help Me Through The Day" - a gorgeous slow-paced Soulful rendering. Freddie King would also cut a Blues-Soulful rendering of it for his "Woman Across The River" album on Shelter Records in the same year (1973). "...I'm driving a broken-down car...cost me my every last cent...show me a man in a Cadillac...and I'll show you where my baby went..." poor Bobby moans in "Where My Baby Went" to an upbeat brassy backdrop. The bizarrely named "Friday The 13th Child" is a David Clayton-Thomas ballad and it turned up on the Blood, Sweat & Tears vocalist's 1972 "Tequila Sunrise" album on Columbia Records. The album ends on Goffin/King's "I've Got To Use My Imagination" - a return to the Side 1 form. The brass, the voice, the groove - brilliant...
The UK wouldn't see "His California Album" until May 1974 on Probe Records SPB 1088 (the last in the Probe SPB series) - only months before the October 1974 ABC Records released of "Dreamer" on ABC ABCL 5053. They didn't even try a 45 in the UK so it's no wonder the album sank without a trace. Sure the entire album isn't genius but the goodies far outweigh the ordinary any day of the week - and he would follow it with the brilliant "Dreamer" album in 1974.
"...If I ever feel the light again...shining down on me...I don't have to tell you...how welcome it will be..." - Bobby Bland sings during the moving, Soulful and profound "It's Not The Spotlight".
Welcome this beauty into your life - in whatever CD form you can find "His California Album" in...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"...Show Us Your Lettuce..." - Looking On by THE MOVE (2016 Esoteric Recordings 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' Remasters)
, June 18, 2016
As someone who's worked a lifetime in record shops - I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually seen a decent-condition Vinyl copy of The Move's third album "Looking On" from either side of the pond. Its like Procol Harum's "Home" (also from 1970) - sank without a trace on release despite its Hard Rock credentials.
Released as the first LP on Fly Records - famously the home of T. Rex, John Kongos and all those 'Twofer' double-albums for Regal Zonophone artists like Procol Harum, Tyrannosaurus Rex and even John Williams - "Looking On" disappeared after its December 1970 release date and has been all but lost to the mists of time ever since. It was belatedly released on Capitol Records in the USA in the spring of 1971 but did bugger all business their either.
Moving forward and away from the "Blackberry Way" Pop-Rock of the April 1968 debut "The Move" and more in keeping with the Rock progression of the "Shazam" album in February of 1970 - the "Looking On" LP was grittier – a far heavier affair - and essentially a new direction for the band. "Looking On" was a deliberate musical-segue into Hard Rock with some Prog leanings - and I'd argue the LP is a bit of a lost gem.
Which brings us to this superb new reissue. Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red of the UK) have whomped MOVE fans with 2016 reissues of "The Move" and "Shazam" in single and multiple-disc 'Deluxe Edition' issues (see separate reviews and list below). Now we get their 3rd platter "Looking On" in a superbly presented 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' boasting a cache of Previously Unreleased BBC Sessions from the band line up that featured Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne, Rick Price and Bev Bevan (later with ELO). Here are the details...
UK released Friday, 27 May 2016 (3 June 2016 in the USA) - "Looking On" by THE MOVE on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22547 (Barcode 5013929464742) is a 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' with a 2016 Remaster and plays outs as follows:
Disc 1 (47:48 minutes)
1. Looking on
2. Turkish Tram Conductor Blues
4. When Alice Came Back To The Farm
5. Open Up Said The World At The Door [Side 2]
7. Feel Too Good
Tracks 1 to 7 are their 3rd studio album "Looking On" - released December 1970 in the UK on Fly Records FLY 1 and April 1971 in the USA on Capitol Records ST 658. Produced by ROY WOOD and JEFF LYNNE - it didn't chart in either country.
8. Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice - non-album B-side of "Brontosaurus" released March 1970 in the UK on Regal Zonophone RZ 3026 and in the USA on Deram 1197
Disc 2 (47:06 minutes):
"Looking On" - Outtakes And Rarities
1. The Duke Of Ellington's Lettuce
2. Looking on (Part One - Take 3/Part 2 - Take 12)
3. Brontosaurus (Mono US Radio Promo Edit -
4. Turkish Tram Conductor Blues (Take 5 - Rough Mix)
BBC Sessions - March to July 1970 (All PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
5. She's A Woman
6. Bev Bevan Interview
8. Falling Forever
9. Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice (Tracks 5 to 9 recorded 23 March 1970)
10. Looking On
11. When Alice Comes Back To The Farm
12. She's A Woman (Tracks 10 to 12 recorded 28 July 1970)
ROY WOOD - Oboe, Sitar, Slide Guitar, Cello, Guitar, Bass and All Saxophones
JEFF LYNNE - Guitar, Piano, Vocals Percussion and Drums on "Feel Too Good"
RICK PRICE - Bass
BEV BEVAN - Drums and Percussion
DORIS TROY and P.P. ARNOLD - Backing Vocals on "Feel Too Good"
Each of Esoteric's reissues has come in single disc issues (plain jewel case) or - this - card digipak 'Deluxe Editions'. Here you get a chunky four-flap gatefold card sleeve with a 20-page colour booklet in the right pouch with a foldout two-sided poster in the left pouch and two picture CDs. The double-sided foldout POSTER is fab - a collage of black-and-white press clippings on one side with a full-page colour advert for the album on the opposite. Each flap has MOVE memorabilia (there's even photos beneath the see-through CD trays) and the 20-page booklet has in-depth liner notes from noted writer MARK PAYTRESS (author of many books from the period) with thanks to ROB CAIGER. There are trade adverts, reviews of the album and singles and photos of the hairy men themselves.
But the big news is a 2016 '24-Bit Digital Remaster' from original analogue tapes by the experienced Audio Engineer BEN WISEMAN done at Broadlake Studios in Hertfordshire (Tape Transfers done by ROB KEYLOCH at Church Walk Studios in London). The sound on here is HUGE and not without being overly bombastic for the sake of it. I think the word I'm looking for is 'muscle' - this CD sounds powerful - and as many tracks like "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" rock out - the benefit is very much 'in your face' and for all the right reasons.
The album's hard-rocking credentials are set in motion with Roy Wood's "Looking On" - a great combo of Move-melody bolstered up some serious riffage - Wood's vocals teasing along with the guitar. The audio on this sucker is huge and I'd say its improved over my 2008 Salvo edition. One of my fave raves on the "Looking On" album is the take-no-prisoners Hard Rock of "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues". Written by Bev Bevan - it’s THE MOVE gone all riffage-mad - the spirit of Leslie West's MOUNTAIN inhabiting both Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne as they hammer down on those heavy guitars. But that's trumped. You can literally feel The Electric Light Orchestra emerging from Jeff Lynne’s "What?" track - gorgeous string arrangements and that strange ELO melody thing that Lynne gets whenever he's at the helm of a song. I love “What?” - both the vocals and guitars treated so that they warble slightly for effect - it's brilliant stuff. Roy Wood ends Side 1 with the slide guitar and ELO cello of a rocker - "When Alice Comes Back To The Farm" - his playing on here is just brilliant and worthy of Juicy Lucy's Glenn Ross-Campbell ("Who Do You Love?"). Fly Records UK tried a 45 in September 1970 featuring Wood's "When Alice Comes Back To The Farm" with Lynne's fab "What?" on the B-side (Fly Records BUG 2) - but no one took interest in this superb double.
Side 2 begins with near eight-minute opus that is Jeff Lynne's "Open Up Said The World At The Door" - an inventive Prog Rock piece that sees Roy Wood use Sitar, Obie and just about any other instrument lying around the studio. The vocal layers are so forthcoming ELO and it even manages some impressive boogie-woogie piano stretches throughout its ambitious duration. Regal Zonophone UK had tried Roy Wood's heavy heavy "Brontosaurus" as a UK 45 as far back as March 1970 (Regal Zonophone RZ 3026) and despite its slightly odd nature was rewarded with a No. 7 chart position. It's non-album B-side "Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice" turns up as a Bonus Track on Disc 1 - and for me was always better than the A-side (sounds awesome too). The album proper ends with Roy Wood's "Feel Too Good" - almost ten minutes of THE MOVE getting Funky-Piano-Rock with a bank of different guitars and the Remaster punching out Rick Price's Bass lines and Bev Bevan's fantastic drumming. Both Apple's Doris Troy and Immediate's P.P. Arnold are credited as providing girly backing vocals but it's hard to hear them with all that's going on. In fact by the time it gets to the "Feel Too Good" vocals and the silly 'show us your lettuce' old geezer talk - the song has probably overstayed its welcome if I'm truthful - but man does the Remaster make it 'rawk'...
For fans Disc 2 represents something worth getting excited about - a bunch of Previously Unreleased BBC Sessions sat alongside three of the rarities that turned up on the December 2008 ‘Salvo’ CD reissue of "Looking On". I just love the Beach Boys Acapella Vocals of "The Duke Of Edinburgh's Lettuce" - the silly Gardener portion of "Feel Too Good" - it only lasts for 1:29 minutes complete with studio dialogue lead in but it's just such great fun. Takes 3 and 12 of "Looking On" were issued as two separate outtakes on the 2008 Salvo CD reissue - here they've been segued into one nine-minute plus version. It sounds great too - much more guitar soloing while the piano tries to get a look in. I've never seen the 'Mono US Radio Promo Edit' of "Brontosaurus" on CD but it's worth having for collectors. Far better is the hard-rocking "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" - a very cool alternate. "...Here on Top Of The Pops we move back onto the Progressive Rock bit with THE MOVE..." the announcer gets very excited about the new addition to band - ex Idle Race singer Jeff Lynne - as he lays into a great cover of The Beatles "She's A Woman".
The audio is good rather than being great it has to be said - but the power of the band is there for all to hear. We get a short interview with Bev Bevan talking about Carl Wayne's departure and Jeff Lynne's introduction and the new 'heavy' direction of the band. "Falling Forever" comes off so well - very cool vocals and a sort of Byrds feel to the melody. The March 1970 session ends with the B-side "Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice" - a fantastically good re-working of the song but unfortunately with that 'buried back in the mix' sound to the whole recording. The July 1970 session has roughly the same sound and features a three-minute cut of the 'heavy' "Looking On" while the slide of "Alice" is great - Wood tearing it up and clearly listening to too much Juicy Lucy. If anything the BBC stuff only goes to show what an exciting proposition The Move was at that time - alive with new material and an exciting new direction...(the second interview talks of ELO's genesis)...
THE MOVE would manage one more album - 1971's excellent and witty "Message From The Country" which EMI/Harvest Remastered into an Expanded Edition in 2005 (see separate review). They would of course then morph into THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA or E.L.O. as they're now more commonly known and The Travelling Wilburys for Jeff Lynne with some of his lifelong musical heroes.
But I'd urge you to go back - way back - back to the days of "Brontosaurus" and his best buddy "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" - back to a time when 39 schillings and eleven old pence could procure you this tasty platter. THE MOVE had a B-side called "Lightnin' Never Strikes Twice". With this superb reissue I think it has...
PS: UK released 29 April 2016 – THE MOVE CD Editions by Esoteric Recordings are:
1. The Move - 1CD 'Standard Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2537 (Barcode 5013929463745)
The Move - 3CD 'Deluxe Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 32536 (Barcode 5013929463646)
2. Something Else From The Move (June 1968 EP Expanded) - 1CD 'Standard Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2546 (Barcode 5013929464643)
3. Shazam - 1CD 'Standard Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2539 (Barcode 5013929463943)
Shazam - 3CD 'Deluxe Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22538 (Barcode 5013929463844)
4. Looking in - 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22547 (Barcode 5013929464742)
"…All These Blues..." - East-West by THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND (In 2010's 'Original Album Series' 5CD Mini Box Set)
, June 17, 2016
Quite possibly one of the best Blues-Rock CD Mini Box Sets I have in my fine household (can’t tell the wife how many there are lest I suffer serious physical injury – after the mental torture that is) – Paul Butterfield’s Blues Band is a very definite jewel in the erratic crown of WEA's "Original Album Series" reissue series. And it stocks the mighty "East-West" album too.
When the 5-disc sets began to appear in 2009 – 'some' of the first vanguard of 40 or so titles featured remasters (many unfortunately didn’t). This beauty is one that did – and from the second the opening track "Born In Chicago" on their incendiary debut LP hits your speakers – it rocks like a madman on Blues Boogie acid and doesn’t let up. And that’s only compounded by their equally wicked 1966 second-platter – the wonderful "East-West" LP on Elektra Records – supplied to us here in fabarooney Stereo. Here are the harmonica wails, guitar licks and chooglin’ white boys doing the blues…
UK released March 2010 - "Original Album Series" by THE PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND on Elektra/Rhino 08122 79834 0 (Barcode 081227983406) is a 5CD Mini Box Set. "East-West" is Disc 2 and plays out as follows (44:47 minutes):
1. Walkin’ Blues
2. Get Out Of My Life, Woman
3. I Got A Mind To Give Up Everything
4. All These Blues
5. Work Song
6. Mary, Mary
7. Two Trains Running
8. Never Say No
Tracks 1 to 9 are the album "East-West" - released September 1966 in the USA on Elektra EKL 315 (Mono) and Elektra EKS 7315 (Stereo) and December 1966 in the UK with the same catalogue numbers. The STEREO mix is used for this CD. Produced by BARRY FRIEDMAN - the album peaked at No. 65 on the US LP charts.
The five single card sleeves reflect the 'original' front and rear US LP artwork (the gatefolds are unfortunately not reproduced). Also each front sleeve is now 'bordered' with a colour and the label on the CD then reflects that colour code - Green for Disc 1, Light Blue for 2, Orange for 3, Dark Blue for 4 and Brown for 5. It would have been more appropriate to have the original label colour configurations - maybe even the Elektra inner bags (like they did on the Doors albums in the Complete Studio Recordings box set), but alas... The track list is to the left on the CD label with band members with recording credits listed on the right (as there's no booklet nor site to download details from - as there is on the Sony issues - this is some compensation to the lack of readable details). It has to be said that the outer card box is lightweight and therefore disappointingly flimsy (unlike the glossy hard-card Sony issues). Having said that the card sleeves still look cool once out of the box and it's nice to see the original artwork used. As you can see from the timings - there are no bonus tracks.
The music is incredibly bluesy and ballsy –truly stunning Paul Rothchild Sixties Production values coming at you on every disc. The instrumental “Thank You Mr. Poobah” for instance will probably have your speakers for breakfast. The opening guitars on “Walkin’ Blues” are the same – back in the mix – but still powerful. Don’t get me wrong – these CDs aren’t amped up for effect – they’re just beautifully handled – and it’s sonically obvious that the original master tapes are in tip-top condition. And throughout the records - you get Butterfield’s deep and muscular harmonica slaying all in its path.
"East-West" opens with a cover of Robert Johnson's "Walkin' Blues" - the mix deep, dark and Bluesy. I love the sound this band made - reverential but never po-faced - loose enough to make a noise recognisable as all their own. They then give it some chugging Funk-Blues with a take on Allen Toussaint's "Get Out Of My Life, Woman" - the piano and drums nicely to the fore. But then I go to mush because 'even' outdoing Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac (and I bow in humility to that holy outfit) - Butterfield's "I Got A Mind To Give Up Living" is probably my absolute all-time 60ts Blues Rock craves. The band had both Elvin Bishop and Mike Bloomfield as its guitarists - but it's on "I Got A Mind To Give Up Living" that Butterfield suddenly seems like some white boy genius on the axe. His Bluesy soloing throughout is the stuff of hair-raising legend. Driving-Harmonica action comes roaring in on the fantastic chugger "All These Blues" where our Paul urges his listeners to don their 'travelling shoes' if they can't sleep at night because she ain't treating you right (naughty woman). The remaster on this track too is fabulous - full of presence and powerful. Side 1 ends on the seven-minute instrumental cover of Nat Adderley's "Work Song" - Bloomfield letting rip on the axe and playing so fast at times that he feels like he's going to trip over his finger positions - while Butterfield just about manages to sneak in a Harp solo over all that riffage (superb remastered sound again).
Side 2 opens with Rock-Blues - a weirdly brill take on Mike Nesmith's Monkees Pop Classic "Mary, Mary" that completely grunge's up the original but still retains that slightly nasty streak that runs through the 'leaving you' lyrics. We get another boogie tune in their take on "Two Trains Coming" - the twin guitar set on fire throughout while Mark Naftalin's organ underpins the whole riotous thing. We slow right down to the wonderful Blues of "Never Say No" where a funeral-paced high-hat is accompanied by a pained organ note and guitar licks - while poor Mister Butterfield pleads "...baby please stop being mean to me..." (I'm not sure she's listening mate). And it finishes on the lengthy but brilliant title track "East-West". Co-written by keyboardist Mark Naftalin and Nick Gravenites (who would later join Janis Joplin's Big Brother & The Holding Co.) - it's a 13-minute wig out on Guitar and Harmonica that even to this day is mindblowingly good - ending a cracking album on a real high.
For me Paul Butterfield's "East-West" LP is even better than the great self-titled debut album of December 1965 (Disc 1 in this wicked 5CD Box Set) and has always felt to me like an 'overlooked' masterpiece of the Blues-Rock genre.
Complete with its dinky little card sleeve repro – just get with the beat brother, crank up that stereo and annoy the neighbours right away...Amen to that!
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"...It Was Alright..." - Loaded by THE VELVET UNDERGROUND (2015 Atlantic/Rhino 'Single CD' Expanded Edition Remaster)
, June 17, 2016
*** This Review Is For The 2015 Single-CD Remastered Version ***
Lou Reed described the Velvets as essentially being a small New York 'Rock 'n' Roll' band - a natty little Pop Group awash with three-minute ditties – peelable bananas and tunes aplenty - swimming ever upwards in the black heroin-addled veins of their streetwise hearts.
I dare say those subjected to their 60ts sonic assaults (especially live) might have taken umbrage with the Louster's 'rounded off' description of The Velvet Underground as a 'Rock 'n' Roll' band - but I think I know what he was getting at. For their 3rd platter - "Loaded" - it's as if the band was trying to get back to 'songs' instead of frenzied workouts with lights and feedback – trying to form a cohesive work that would leave that old 'shock and awe' stuff firmly behind them. Only "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" goes to 7:29 minutes - and excepting "New Age" and the 'Full Length' versions of "Sweet Jane" and "Rock & Roll" - the rest keep it hovering around three minutes. And it's a wickedly good record for such disciplines. For me 1970's "Loaded" has always been a more mature album - Lou Reed's songwriting moving on - getting better - his obvious Solo career beckoning.
The last time I bought "Loaded" on CD it was the February 1997 Rhino 2CD set called 'Fully Loaded' with Bill Inglot Remasters. That beauty came in a sliding card slipcase and an 'Alternate Version' of the entire album on Disc 2 along with a further 13 Outtakes across both discs.
This 2015 single-CD reissue of "Loaded" keeps the 10-track album, four of those 1997 Bonus Tracks and adds on a new 2015 Remaster from KEVIN REEVES – a vastly experienced Audio Engineer who has done huge numbers of reissues for the Universal umbrella of labels. This CD sounds better and warmer than my previous issue – fabulous clarity on key album tracks like "Cool It Down" and "Who Loves the Sun". Here are the finite details...
UK and USA released Friday 30 October 2015 - "Loaded" by THE VELVET UNDERGROUND on Atlantic/Rhino 081227952426 (Barcode 081227952426) offers the 10-track 1970 LP with four Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (55:30 minutes):
1. Who Loves The Sun
2. Sweet Jane (Full-Length Version - 4:06 minutes)
3. Rock & Roll (Full-Length Version - 4:43 minutes)
4. Cool It Down
5. New Age
6. Head Held High [Side 2]
7. Lonesome Cowboy Bill
8. I Found A Reason
9. Train Round The Bend
10. Oh! Sweet Nuthin'
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 3rd studio album "Loaded" - released November 1970 in the USA on Cotillion SD 9034 and April 1971 in the UK on Atlantic 2400 111. Produced by GEOFFREY HASLAM, SHEL KAGAN and THE VELET UNDERGROUND – the album didn’t chart in either country.
11. I'm Sticking With You
13. I Love You
14. Ride Into The Sun
NOTES: "I'm Sticking With You" mixed by Kevin Reeves in June 2015, "Ocean", "I Love You" and "Ride Into The Sun" mixed by BILL INGLOT in March/April 1994
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND was:
LOU REED - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Piano and Harmonica
STERLING MORRISON - Lead and Rhythm Guitar
DOUG YOUL - Vocals, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Organ, Piano, Bass and Drums
MAUREEN "Mo" TUCKER - Drums (Vocals on the Bonus Track "I'm Sticking with You")
TOMMY CASTANARO - Drums on "Cool It Down" and Head Held High"
BILL YULE - Drums On "Lonesome Cowboy Bill", "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" and "Ocean"
ADRIAN BARBER - Drums on "Who Loves The Sun"
ADRIAN BARBER and /or BILL YULE - Drums on "Train Round The Bend"
The 12-page booklet features pictures of Atlantic Tape Boxes and Production Sheets, a Rolling Stone magazine review from the 24 December 1970 issue, reissue and remaster credits - but no new liner notes. The booklet looks nice but the total absence of any informative liner notes sort of leaves the reissue and the listener stranded - some history of what happened would have added so much. But what you do get is the new KEVIN REEVES Remaster (with Production Assistance from BILL INGLOT who did the 1997 version) and it Rocks. There is wonderful clarity on offer here...
Given the lack of initial public reaction to the LP - it's hardly surprising that Cotillion belatedly tried a US 45 in March 1971 using the sexily hooky opening track "Who Loves The Sun" with the full seven-minute glory of "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" on the flipside (Cotillion 45-44107). But it aroused little interest. Atlantic in the UK tried too in April 1971 with "Who Loves The Sun" plopping "Sweet Jane" onto the B-side (Atlantic 2091 008) - but again with no chart joy (this English 7" single is a very hard-to-find vinyl item in Blighty nowadays). For some reason I always think of the brilliant "Sweet Jane" and "Rock & Roll" as a pair - a double-whammy of Lou Reed and VU tunes brimming with street smarts, tales of Jeannie and her radio overseen by an admiring Lou - happy that he's in a 'Rock & Roll Band'. Reed would open his fantastic "Rock & Roll Animal" live set with "Sweet Jane" - Hunter and Ronson tearing it on the guitars. And I love that "hey protest kids" lyric. What a great set of tunes these are.
For me "Cool It Down" has always been one of the album's hidden nuggets - an ubercool double vocal where Lou sings that he's "...looking for Miss Linda Lee..." and her naughty wares. The languid "New Age" hankers back to the dead-inside drugs feel of their debut album. The remaster makes you feel those "...you're over the hill right now and you're looking for love..." lyrics and that strangely beautiful melody - his voice that shouldn't work but does. Side 2 opens with the grunge anger of "Head Up High" and is followed by "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" where The Velvet Underground kind of go Rockabilly in their own unique 'yo-de-lay-de-ho' way. There is noticeable hiss at the beginning of the almost Beach Boys "I Found A Reason" - but it settles down when the band go into those multi-layered vocal coos. It's the kind of "life's lonely highways" song that seems so simple at first but over time seeps into your heart. Treated guitar ushers in "Train Round The Bend" where Lou is sick of trees in the country and wants to get back to the city. The remaster lifts this poisonous little groove right up - sexy and full. The album bows out with "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" - a song that feels epic only twenty seconds into it. Lou sings of Jimmy Brown who "...ain't got nuthin' at all..." - empathising with broken men and women who walk with their heads down - weight of the world on their shoulders...
The nursery ditty sounding "I'm Sticking With You" sees Maureen "Mo" Tucker take lead vocals - duetting with Lou in the centre passages. Genius move on the part of this reissue is to keep the superlative “Ocean” as one of the Bonus Tracks – originally mixed by Rhino’s Audio Engineers Bill Inglot and John Strother. Reed breaks down into giggles on the quirky "I Love You" while "Ride Into The Sun" feels huge with that floating church organ and those treated vocals. Very cool stuff indeed - a little like the band really.
"...You could just go out and dance to the Rock 'n' Roll station..." - Lou Reed sang 46 years ago. I still feel that affection too and especially towards this forgotten peach of an album...