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A Masterfully Produced Overview of a Truly Amazing Band,
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This review is from: Influence (Audio CD)
This new two disc set celebrating the Art of Noise, truly gets it right. The packaging is magnificent (and if you grew up in the era when these tracks were originally released - packaging is part of the art.) There are extensive liner notes by Ian Peel, that masterfully walk you through the journey of the treasures contained on these two discs. The digital remastering on the tracks is without fault. These tracks truly sound better than the day they were released, a feast for the ears. You can tell that the people involved with this release had a true love for the Art of Noise, for and for the ZTT label.
The first disc walks you through the bands hits and highlights. This disc recaptures both the sheer brilliance that was there in the early days and leads you through the often frustrating decline during their China Records years. The China era is when they broke into the American mainstream by releasing what most of the American public saw as novelty records. There are quite a few high points during the China Era though. "Peter Gunn," with Duane Eddy on Guitar, is still a brilliant and fitting move. I have a soft spot for "Paranomia," featuring Max Headroom, though quite interestingly, this compilation features the "Paranoid Mix"of the track which omits most of the Max Headroom chatter. This makes for a fun romp that works much better within this compilation than the original would have. Now, even the biggest of fans have to admit that the cover version of Prince's "Kiss" with Tom Jones on vocals and the theme to the comedy "Dragnet" were certainly low points in the band's output. But both of these tracks are here, and stick out like sore thumbs. The juxtaposition of "Kiss" with the gorgeous track "Finale" that follows it, is truly a reminder of how frustrating it was to be a fan sometimes. To try to explain the brilliance of this band to people that only knew of them from their most commercial moments was certainly futile. You either got it, or you didn't. I am still happy to have been in on the joke.
The second disc is an added bonus. Bits and bobs, unreleased tracks, live bits, studio chatter. It's an extra kiss on the cheek for the fans, albeit an incomplete one. Let's remember though, to even approach the mountain of unreleased remixes, b-sides, and outtakes that was recorded by the group during their entire career would require a box set of monumental proportions. For those willing to climb such a mountain and take a long look into their ZTT years, And What Have You Done With My Body, God? is an essential (albeit long) listen.
Ultimately, this is a masterfully produced overview of a truly amazing band. Say what you will about their missteps, but the sheer amount of brilliance showcased in just the first few tracks of this compilation make a compelling argument for the band's brilliance. An essential, and yes, influential listen.
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Initial post: Apr 20, 2014 4:52:07 AM PDT
John C says:
I don't think 'Kiss' and Dragnet' were "low points" in their output. These playful songs were opportunities to reach a wider audience and spurred those unfamiliar with their work to explore the rest of their music. Every musician or group wants a hit on the radio or create a movie theme song and AON was no different from the rest.
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