Friday, 16 September 2016

"Physical Graffiti: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition' by LED ZEPPELIN (2015 Atlantic/Swan Song 3CD Reissue – Jimmy Page Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…I Like Your Custard Pie…"

Zeppelin fans have been licking their lips for this one - and almost 40 years to the day (the original double-album was released 24 February 1975) - here it is on Monday 23 February 2015 - clambering up the ascending ledges of my stereo with the big balls of a well-hung King Kong primate sporting a naughty look in his brownstone-sized die-cut eyes (and that's just Side 1). This "40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" is not without its problems though in my opinion (packaging and questionable extras) - but it is still a thing of double-album beauty - it really is. Here are the forty years gone...

Worldwide released 23 February 2015 - "Physical Graffiti: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" by LED ZEPPELIN on Atlantic/Swan Song 8122795794 (Barcode 081227957940) is a 3CD reissue set in Card Repro Art Packaging and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (Sides 1 and 2 of the original 2LP set) - 39:25 minutes:
1. Custard Pie
2. The Rover
3. In My Time Of Dying
4. Houses Of The Holy [Side 2]
5. Trampled Under Foot
6. Kashmir

Disc 2 (Sides 3 and 4 of the original 2LP set) - 43:34 minutes:
1. In The Light
2. Bron-Yr-Aur
3. Down By The Seaside
4. Ten Years Gone
5. Night Flight [Side 4]
6. The Wanton Song
7. Boogie With Stu
8. Black Country Woman
9. Sick Again
"Physical Graffiti" was released 24 February 1975 in the UK on Swan Song SSK 89400 and Swan Song SS 2-200 in the USA. It went to Number 1 in both countries and shipped over 8 million copies in the USA alone.

Disc 3 COMPANION AUDIO - 41:32 minutes:
1. Brandy & Coke (Trampled Under Foot) (Initial Rough Mix)
2. Sick Again (Early Version)
3. In My Time Of Dying (Initial Rough Mix)
4. Houses Of The Holy (Rough Mix With Overdubs)
5.  Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light) (Early Version/In Transit)
6. Boogie With Stu (Sunset Sound Mix)
7. Driving Through Kashmir (Kashmir) (Rough Orchestra Mix)

The CD Repro packaging was always going to be a problem on this reissue and in my opinion they've gotten it only half right (at least it's an improvement on those awful Euro repros we had back in the Nineties with their piddly slips of paper on the inside). Let's be blunt about this - arguably "Physical Graffiti" had the most gorgeous LP packaging ever devised for a rock LP and the visceral impact of that for those of us who bought it in 1975 cannot be understated. That's why I find this latest offering so naff in comparison. Aligned with the other reissues - we get an awful blackened rear sleeve where someone has simply blocked out the artwork with blurred images and laughably called it alternate artwork. It's ruined the look of the rear - and the same crap has been done for CD3 on the inside. I also have to stick that peel-off track-list that was on the shrinkwrap onto the back of the cover and it just doesn't look right. The 16-page booklet of black and white and colour photos is over as soon as it starts with barely two pages of credits at the end - no appraisal, no liner notes and no history (you have to fork out huge money for the Super Deluxe Edition to get that). It does feel chunkier with the 3CDs inside and the booklet (I reversed the inner to get the white windows on the rear) but you can't help think that a reissue label of repute like Ace, Edsel, Beat Goes On, Repertoire or Esoteric would have gone to town on this prestigious release and finally given fans something they could really get their teeth into.

And what is this disclaimer bull that Page is putting in the booklets referring to the Companion Audio as being "new material recorded at the time" when its bleeding obvious that these are simply backing tracks with new guitar bits mixed in. Disc 3 has only two genuine outtakes - the short instrumental 1973 version of "Sick Again" and the February 1974 early version of "In The Light" which was originally called "Everybody Makes It Through". The others sound almost identical to me with very slight guitar changes - "In My Time Of Dying" being the worst offender where you have to wait almost the whole song to realise that the first guitar solo bit is the only change - and it's a lesser version. You can't help feel that much of Disc 3 is an elaborate con. There's also been complaints about the quality of the Download/Auto-Rip not being Hi-Res and the vinyl variant containing the same compromised artwork. But let's get to the remaster that is at least better than what went before...

The moment "Custard Pie" hits your speakers - the power of the band wallops you over the noggin - and the new Jimmy Page remaster helps. There's more clarity in the guitar and the whole thing swings better than it did before. "The Rover" has hiss in it that seems more accentuated but it also seems more muscular (what a powerhouse of a song). But then we get the big mother fuyer. "In My Time Of Dying" is a 1928 Blind Willie Johnson Spiritual called "Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed" on Columbia 14276-D (78") - but Zeppelin massively rearranged it - enough for the boys to naughtily claim it as their own (plundering the Blues and not for the first time either). There's even a few seconds of dialogue at the end - "That's The One!" Bonham exclaims knowing he's blasted that sucker as far as it can go. It's a truly awesome piece of Rock and when that guitar solo first kicks in - the drums, the guitar and the bass - at that moment the whole band were undeniably the best in the world. Side 2 opens with "Houses Of The Holy" and again that very subtle remaster difference is evident - and with the drums so forward and loud in the mix - I swear I can hear the squeaking of Bonham's pedals more than I did before (nice). John Paul Jones gets to make his presence known on the funky keyboard backdrop he gives "Trampled Under Foot" (especially in his wicked solo) - but what I can hear more is the overdubbed guitar parts and Plant's ballsy vocals. Bonzo's moment finishes Side 2 "Kashmir" and honestly it sounds much like the "Mothership" remaster to me - huge of course - but I can't honestly say it's any better.

I've always loved the Eastern vibe to "In The Light", the wafting treated acoustic guitars of "Bron-Yr-Aur" and the happy-go-lucky almost childish feel to "Down By The Seaside" - all of which sound much improved. But I'm thrilled to say that the best track on the album seems to have been improved the most - the stunning "Ten Years Gone" which ended Side 3. It's clean, present and powerful - that gorgeous guitar strumming and bass combined sounding so good. And when it goes into that huge riff - wow is the only appropriate response (surely this is Zeppelin at their very best). Can't say I hear a huge improvement in "The Wanton Song" but I'd swear it was produced that way - sounding ever so slightly muffled or contained so that the last passage sounds clearer - doesn't look like that can changed no much you remaster it. "Boogie With Stu" and "Black Country Woman" now sound huge and such fun...

So there you have it - like "Blonde On Blonde", "The Beatles", "Second Winter", "Exile On Main St.", "Manassas" and "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" - "Physical Graffiti" is one of those vinyl double albums that retains its cool, mystery and magic. And despite some personal misgivings about presentation on this 3CD 40th Anniversary Reissue - isn't it the business to see it back at Number 1 where it belongs...

PS: see also reviews for the 2CD Deluxe Edition versions of "I", "II", "III", "IV", "Houses Of The Holy" and the 3-Disc version of  "Mothership: The Very Best Of" 

"Houses Of The Holy: Deluxe Edition" by LED ZEPPELIN (2014 Atlantic/Swan Song 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' Jimmy Page Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Many Dreams Come True…" 

Robert Plant once ruminated that Led Zeppelin waited 5 months before releasing their 5th album “Houses Of The Holy” because they wanted to get the album artwork right. And when he saw the 1990s CD reissue in its 5” puniness minus that “HOTH” title bandana that came with 1973 originals – he wondered was it worth the wait? Well the album is back in a brand new 2014 reissue and with its title wraparound restored – properly remastered this time and sporting some rather cool 'extras' too. Here are the crunges, quarter oceans and songs that remain (roughly) the same…

Released October 2014 - this review if for "Houses Of The Holy” by LED ZEPPELIN - the 2CD DELUXE EDITION on Atlantic 8122795827 (Barcode 081227958275) which breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (ORIGINAL ALBUM – 40:59 minutes):
1. The Song Remains The Same
2. The Rain Song
3. Over The Hills And Far Away
4. The Crunge
5. Dancing Days [Side 2]
6. D’yer Mak’er
7. No Quarter
8. The Ocean
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 5th album "Houses Of The Holy" – released 23 March 1973 in the USA on Atlantic SD 7255 and in the UK on Atlantic K 50014

Disc 2 (COMPANION AUDIO Unreleased Studio Outtakes – 36:13 minutes):
1. The Song Remains The same (Guitar Overdub Reference Mix)
2. The Rain Song (Mix Minus Piano)
3. Over The Hills And Far Away (Guitar Mix Backing Track – No Vocal)
4. The Crunge (Rough Mix – Keys Up)
5. Dancing Days (Rough Mix With Vocal)
6. No Quarter (Rough Mix With JPJ Keyboard Overdubs – No Vocal)
7. The Ocean (Working Mix)

For a supposed DELUXE EDITION the 16-page booklet is adequate at best - colour live shots, the inner sleeve reproduced in the centre pages and a few basic reissue credits on the last few pages. For such an iconic band and prestigious catalogue - you think Atlantic could have pushed the boat out a bit more. It's noticeable also that the track list stick-on sheet that was pasted on to the rear sleeves of I, II and III is now on the outside of the shrinkwrap for you to place wherever you want. It's also irritating because you can barely read the writing on it. But to the really good news...

Like “Led Zeppelin IV” (that also came out Monday 27 October 2014) the much-lauded JIMMY PAGE remaster is properly excellent and a definite improvement on what we had before. Right from the first few seconds of “The Song Remains The Same” the guitars rattle your speakers with renewed power and British machismo. But then I get to what I’ve been after for years (and surely many fan’s favourite track on the record) – “The Rain Song” in gorgeous remastered form. It is hissy for sure in certain places but the acoustic guitars and JPJ’s Mellotron are more to the fore (and in a good way). The Plant vocals and Page Guitars sing now on “Over The Hills And Far Away” while I still laugh at the final “Where’s the confounded bridge?” gag at the end of the rhythmically awkward “The Crunge” (a song that stills sounds to me like its chancing its arm). The Side 2 openers “Dancing Days” and the silly “D’yer Mak’er” both pack a huge wallop (especially Bonham’s drums) while “No Quarter” is hissy for sure during that warbling Mellotron intro and onwards but you forgive it because it’s a Zeppelin I love (as I suspect many do). It ends on “The Ocean” with its witty intro – another rocker that sounds like it’s on the way to somewhere but never really getting there. Then you’re hit with a real surprise – a storming Disc 2…

After the slightly irritating extras on “IV”(the so-called 'works in progress') – these outtakes are actually quite brilliant. While you’d be hard pressed to hear the differences in either “Dancing Days” of “The Crunge” - some of your favourite songs are stripped of their vocals and allow the listener to concentrate on the great chucky rhythms and clever guitar parts. The two that leap out are “Over The Hills And Far Away” and an astonishing almost Prog version of “No Quarter” with John Paul Jones giving it some fabulous keyboard flourishes and arrangements. The “Minus Piano” Mix of “The Rain Song” sounds lovely too with its gorgeous acoustic guitar playing and JPJ’s Mellotron underpinning the song like a well thought out string arrangement. I'm kind of shocked at how good Disc 2 is actually.

Somehow as the years have passed “Houses Of The Holy” has been seen as the runt of the Led Zeppelin LP litter  – and I’m genuinely glad to say that this reissue makes a strong case for major assessment. Why I almost forgive them that pervy sleeve and the photo of them on the inner gatefold of this 2CD set standing by their LED ZEPPELIN jet with their chests bared for the ladies. Thems was the dancing days indeed boys. Roll on the mighty “Physical Graffiti” next year…yummy.

PS: be careful removing the title bandana – it’s snug and will rip easily…

PPS: see also reviews for the 2CD Deluxe Edition versions of "I", "II", "III", "Physical Graffiti" (3-Discs) and the 3-Disc version of  "Mothership: The Very Best Of" 

"Led Zeppelin IV: Deluxe Edition" by LED ZEPPELIN (2014 Atlantic/Swan Song 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' - Jimmy Page Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Gonna Make You Sweat…Gonna Make You Groove…"

I remember walking up to Dolphin Discs in Talbot Street in Dublin in November 1971 and seeing the long-awaited album sleeve to Led Zeppelin's new album be given pride of place in their window display. Even at the tender age of thirteen and twelve - my sister Frances and I were devoted Zeppelites - so I drew closer to ogle. Someone in the shop had made a white cardboard star, drawn "LED ZEP IV! IT'S HERE!!" in the album's inner sleeve calligraphy and stuck the card star on the top right of the untitled matt sleeve. People were stopping to gawk - what's the big deal? But I remember thinking only one thing. Cheeky buggers - the Zeps are now so big they haven't even put a bleeding title on it! How very...well...Rock and Roll!

Fast-forward to 2014 and another reissue and yet another (far better) remaster. Here are the levees breaking, hops on misty mountains and the May Queen bustling in your hedgerow...

Released October 2014 - "Led Zeppelin IV: Deluxe Edition” by LED ZEPPELIN on Atlantic/Swan Song 812279446 (Barcode 081227964467) is a 2CD Remaster and breaks down as follows:

Disc (ORIGINAL ALBUM - 42:38 minutes):
1. Black Dog
2. Rock And Roll
3. The Battle Of Evermore
4. Stairway To Heaven
5. Misty Mountain Hop
6. Four Sticks
7. Going To California
8. When The Levee Breaks
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 4th LP “Led Zeppelin IV” – released 8 November 1971 in the USA on Atlantic SD 7208 and Atlantic 2401012 in the UK. Officially their 4th album was ‘untitled’ but of course is often referred to as "Led Zeppelin IV", "Four Symbols" or "Runes" or "ZoSo" (after the four symbols that appear at the top of the Atlantic Records label - Zodiac letters for each member of the band).

Disc 2 (COMPANION AUDIO Unreleased Studio Outtakes - 40:35 minutes):
1. Black Dog (Basic Track With Guitar Overdubs)
2. Rock And Roll (Alternate Mix)
3. The Battle Of Evermore (Mandolin/Guitar Mix From Headley Grange)
4. Stairway To Heaven (Sunset Sound Mix)
5. Misty Mountain Hop (Alternate Mix)
6. Four Sticks (Alternate Mix)
7. Going To California (Mandolin/Guitar Mix)
8. When The Levee Breaks (Alternate U.K. Mix)

For a supposed DELUXE EDITION the 16-page booklet is adequate at best - colour live shots, the inner sleeve reproduced in the centre pages and a few basic reissue credits on the last few pages. All the original LP artwork is there – the second hand painting Plant bought in Berkshire and stuck to the wall of a derelict building to get the cover shot – the four symbols of the Zodiac for the boys along with Sandy Denny’s on the inner sleeve – the lyrics to “Stairway To Heaven” that we used to all pour over. But for such an iconic band and prestigious catalogue - you think Atlantic could have pushed the boat out a bit more. It's noticeable also that the track list stick-on sheet that was pasted on to the rear sleeves of I, II and III is now on the outside of the shrinkwrap for you to place wherever you want. It's also irritating because you can barely read the writing on it. But to the really good news...

The much-lauded JIMMY PAGE remaster is excellent and a definite improvement on what we had before - especially on the beautiful acoustic tracks "The Battle Of Evermore" and "Going To California". But it's when we hit "Black Dog", "Rock And Roll" and especially the monster "When The Levee Breaks" that the real sonic punch kicks in. The harmonica on "Levee" threatens to run amuck in your living room while that acoustic break in "Four Sticks" after the guitar intro is absolutely huge. It has to be said that there's noticeable hiss on some of the quieter parts in "Stairway" but not enough to be intrusive or detract. The same applies to the John Paul Jones keys in "Misty Mountain Hop" and Bonzo's drums just so powerful. But for me the sonic jewel on here is the mandolin/guitar battles and vocals in the stunning "Battle Of Evermore" with SANDY DENNY guesting so sweetly.

The liner notes for the 'Companion Audio' give it some waffle about 'new material' recorded for the 'works in progress' - it's deliberately ambiguous because you can't feel that a lot of these 'outtakes' were done in the studio with Pro Tools in the last few years and bear little resemblance to 1971. Having said all of that - they are irritatingly brilliant! You'd be hard pressed to spot the differences in either the Basic Track of "Black Dog" or the Alternate Mix of "Rock And Roll" but the Headley Grange version of "The Battle Of Evermore" is fabulous stuff - guitar bits coming at you've never heard before. Having become so accustomed to the finished take of the album's goliath "Stairway To Heaven" - the Sunset Sound Mix feels oddly unsatisfying - even though that beautiful electric guitar break remains virtually intact (and still has the power to thrill). But I'm taken aback yet again by the sheer Zep power of "When The Levee Breaks" where there's more echoing on the guitars and harmonica to a point where it feels like its going to get out of hand (but it doesn't). And that little guitar flourish at the end is Production genius. Wow!

So what we have is a five-star album given five-star sound and four-star presentation (don't get me started on the rip-off Uber Deluxe Edition). I can remember the excitement their albums used to engender on arrival - and this morning - tingles returned - and that's good enough for me (name or no name)...

PS: see also reviews for the 2CD Deluxe Edition versions of "I", "II", "III", "Houses Of The Holy", "Physical Graffiti" (3-Discs) and the 3-Disc version of  "Mothership: The Very Best Of" 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

"Survival" by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD [feat Mark Farner] (2002 Capitol 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry

"…I Can't Get Along With Society…"

With three studio efforts - “On Time” and “Grand Funk” in 1969, “Closer To Home” and the double “Live Album” (both in 1970) under their Capitol Records belt – GRAND FUNK RAILROAD finally delivered what most feel was their best 'studio' album ever – “Survival” (credited simply as GRAND FUNK). It comes complete with the band literally looking like society outcasts and not-to-be-messed-with Neanderthals on the front cover. And with 5 cracking bonus tracks actually worthy of inclusion – this cheap-as-chips CD remaster is a fantastic way into this most American of Rock bands. Here are the cave men details…

Released November 2002 – "Survival" by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD on Capitol 5417252 (Barcode 724354172526) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster and breaks down as follows (73:14 minutes):

1. Country Road
2. All You’ve Got Is Money
3. Comfort Me
4. Feelin' Alright
5. I Want Freedom [Side 2]
6. I Can Feel Him In The Morning
7. Gimme Shelter
Tracks 1 to 7 are their 5th album “Survival” – released April 1971 in the USA on Capitol SW 764 and June 1971 in the UK on Capitol E-SW 764
BONUS TRACKS (all Previously Unreleased):
8. I Can’t Get Along With Society (2002 Remix)
9. Jam (Footstompin’ Music)
10. Country Road (Unedited Original Version)
11. All You’ve Got Is Money (Unedited Original Version)
12. Feelin’ Alright (Unedited Original Version)

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

“All You’ve Got Is Money” sounds like Ten Years After unleashed and wild. Once again it’s rough and raw production is the song’s making – this is gritty unapologetic American Rock and is very much the better for it. The remaster lifts up the great duet vocals between Mark Farner and Don Brewer on the near seven-minute ”Comfort” (even if it is hissy) – an unusually ‘soft and melodic’ song in many ways for GFR and one of Side One’s highlights. We hit the album’s first single – their cover of Traffic’s “Feelin’ Alright” (Capitol Records 3095 in April 1971 – reached No. 54). Written by Dave Mason – its staggering Soulful-Rock crossover potential was spotted almost instantly and covered by a slew of huge artists in a very short period of time – Joe Cocker, David Ruffin, Lulu, Rare Earth, Three Dog Night, The Chairmen Of The Board and even Jazzers Hubert Laws and Wade Marcus all had a go. Grand Funk start the song out slow but build into that fantastic groove with Don Brewer’s drums shining throughout.

The near two-minutes of in-studio pissing about at the beginning of the Side 2 opener “I Want Freedom” sounded cool back in the day but irritates now. Better is when the actual song kicks in with Farner’s keyboards to the fore and that cross-speaker drum thing at the end sounding just great. “If you’re bad…you’ll die when you die…” echoes after children explain God and what it means to be ‘good’ at the beginning of “I Can Feel Him In The Morning”. It’s a fabulously over-the-top track but next to their wild finisher – one of my favourites. Speaking of which – their fuzzy-up manic guitar version of the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” is Grand Funk Railroad” in full sway – boogieing like mad men – to hell with the critics – damn the musical torpedoes.

But what puts this CD into special is the quality of the Bonus Material. “I’ll tell you mister you’d better watch your mouth or you’ll get busted by the police…” Farner sings on the Alternate Mix of the censorship song “I Can’t get Along With Society” which features a more prevalent upfront guitar. “Jam (Footstompin’ Music)” is an early version (they re-recorded it for the “E Pluribus Funk” album in late 1971) and it’s a five-minute fast boogie with a driving Bass line. But the real prizes for fans are three-in-a-row newly reassembled 2002 mixes. First up is “Country Road” which restores the 2nd verse, middle eight and a Guitar solo edited out of the released version (now runs to 7:38 minutes). “All You’ve Got Is Money restores a Guitar solo, harmonica parts and several extra verses pushing the tune to nearly eight and half minutes. The “Feelin’ Alright” extended versions restores the third verse and features an Alternate Vocal on the first verse (it now stretches to just under six minutes).

Derided by critics and beloved by fans in equal measure – Grand Funk Railroad were huge back in the day – and on the evidence of this cool reissue – it’s easy to hear why…

"Grand Funk" by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD [featuring Mark Farner] (2002 Capitol 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Inside Looking Out…"

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

Released November 2002 – "Grand Funk" by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD on Capitol 5393812 (Barcode 724353938123) is an ‘Expanded Edition’ and plays out as follows (59:46 minutes):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So there you have it. "Grand Funk" won’t be everyone’s cup of Darjeeling for damn sure but that’s the nature of 'awkward' bands. Derided by critics and beloved by fans in equal measure – Grand Funk Railroad were huge back in the day – and on the evidence of this cool little reissue – it’s easy to hear why…

Sunday, 28 August 2016

"Machine Gun Etiquette" by THE DAMNED (2007 Ace/Chiswick 'Hip Pocket' CD Remaster in Card Repro Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Just For You...Here's A Love Song..."

Two albums in ("Damned Damned Damned" in February 1977 and "Music For Pleasure" in November 1977) - and with enough personnel chopping and changing and displaying of frazzled dangly bits to embarrass a British Royal Family orgy - THE DAMNED dropped LP number three in November 1979 on the little but mighty independent Chiswick Records (a UK-only release).

But not many seemed to notice let alone be thrilled by its sheer bleached bravura - peaking at a modest No. 31 in the UK and not charting at all Stateside (an import there) when The Clash were tearing up all and sundry on the 2nd British Invasion - championed by a getting clued-up musical press.

Still snotty and insubordinate and preceded by two storming great 7" singles in "Love Song" and "Smash It Up" - "Machine Gun Etiquette" should have done better in New Wave Britain - never mind a worried and dubious America who barely saw any imports. But the album was and is a tad overlooked - a forgotten gob in the mouth of a grateful nation. Time to rectify the public's myopia and sorry lack of good taste. Here are the noisy bullets...

UK released October 2007 - "Machine Gun Etiquette" by THE DAMNED on Ace Records/Chiswick CDHP 027 (Barcode 029667028523) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 11-track LP and is part of Ace's 'Hip Pocket' Series of CD Reissues sporting 6" Card Repro Artwork (including the album's original inner sleeve) and plays out as follows (36:50 minutes):

1. Love Song
2. Machine Gun Etiquette
3. I Just Can't Be Happy Today
4. Melody Lee
5. Anti-Pope
6. These Hands
7. Plan 9 Channel [Side 2]
8. Noise, Noise, Noise
9. Looking At You
10. Liar
11. Smash It Up Part 1
12. Smash It Up (Part 2)
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 3rd studio album "Machine Gun Etiquette" - released 2 November 1979 in the UK only on Chiswick Records CWK 3009. Produced by ROGER ARMSTRONG and THE DAMNED - the LP peaked at No. 31 on the UK album charts.

DAVE VANIAN [David Lett] - Vocals
CAPTAIN SENSIBLE [Raymond Burns] - Guitar
ALGY WARD [Alasdair Ward] - Bass
RAT SCABIES [Christopher Millar] - Drums

The 'Hip Pocket' card repro artwork reproduces the original British LP sleeve as was with its 'cartoon' inner sleeve (the CD has all the writing credits). The Remaster was carried out by ADAM SKEAPING at Sound Mastering and like the LP itself - ROCKS like a monster.

"Ladies and Gentleman. How do!" After the dialogue and snarling jeers from the boys - the sheer sonic assault of "Love Song" (2:21 minutes) is followed by the equally short and quarrelsome album title track "Machine Gun Etiquette" where the band sounds not unlike a boozed-up Motorhead wanting to have words in your shelllike. After the pasting the "Music For Pleasure" album received - the sheer power of the reformed band on the two openers literally screams 'we're back!'. And just when you were getting used to another nosebleed - you then get something more sophisticated but just as good - the Stranglers-tight "I Just Can't Be Happy Now" which Chiswick smartly released as a 7" single in the UK on Chiswick CHIS 120 and were rewarded with a No. 46 chart placing. "Melody Lee" is another brilliant album track as is the rhythm-rattling shakedown of "Anti-Pope" Side 1 ends with "These Hands" - a swirling laughing fairground organ song about 'turning blue' - complete with its high-heels on the pavement ending.

Side 2 opens with the riffing and strangely melodic "Plan 9 Channel 7" which at 5:09 minutes feels like Prog Rock after what went before. Chiswick put out "Noise, Noise, Noise" as the B-side to "Love Song" as far back as April 1979 on Chiswick CHIS 112 on red vinyl - a great stomper with echoed vocals about 'noises for heroes' and massive guitar from Sensible. You'd have to argue that their cover of MC5's "Looking At You" (from their 1970 "Back In The USA" LP) is one of those cover versions that rivals and at times exceeds the original and that guitar-playing throughout its 5:08 minutes is absolutely astonishing. The LP then sucker punches the listener with two fantastic Punk groovers - the 'never tell the truth' of "Liar" and the two parts of "Smash It Up". Chiswick used the faster part of "Smash It Up" as an A-side on another red vinyl 45 just before the album arrived - Chiswick CHIS 116 in October 1979 - and were rewarded with a No. 35 chart placing. A great ending to a great album.

I should mention that other issue. The November 2004 '25th Anniversary Edition' Enhanced CD Reissue and Remaster of "Machine Gun Etiquette" on Ace/Chiswick CDWIKD 250 has 9 bonus tracks - the six non-album 7" single B-sides, three new Previously Unreleased Audio Versions of key album tracks and a Previously Unseen Video of "Plan 9, Channel 7" (use Barcode 029667425025 in Amazon's search bar if you want that issue). And of course with those extra goodies - it therefore offers better value for money (still available relatively cheaply too). But I'm a sucker for that repro artwork and the album presented 'as is'. It's true this 'Hip Pocket' CD would have been stronger with killer B-sides like "Burglar" from "Smash It Up" and their rattling cover of The Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" tucked away on the flip-side of "I Just Can't Be Happy Today" - itself one of their strongest efforts. But you pays your money...and...

Besides you gotta love any band with people named 'Captain Sensible' and Rat Scabies'. You know Prince Phillip would approve...

Titles in Ace Records Mid-Price 'Hip Pocket' CD Series of Card Repro Reissues are:

1. DONALD AUSTIN – Crazy Legs (Ace/Westbound CDHP 016, Dec 2006)
2. THE BISHOPS – Cross Cuts (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 256, June 2005)
3. HADDA BROOKS – Femme Fatale (Ace CDCHM 1129, Nov 2006)
4. THE CHAMPS – Go, Champs, Go! (Ace CDCHM 1126, Sep 2006)
5. THE DAMNED – Machine Gun Etiquette (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 027, July 2007)
6. THE ESCALATORS [ex Meteors] – Moving Staircases (Ace CDHP 017, Dec 2006)
7. THE EVERLY BROTHERS – The Everly Brothers (Ace CDCHM 1127, Sep 2006)
8. FUNKADELIC – Maggot Brain (Ace/Westbound CDHP 030, Aug 2007)
9. CHUCK HIGGINS – Pachucko Hop (Ace CDHP 024, April 2007)
10. B. B. KING – The Jungle (Ace/Kent CDHP 031, Nov 2007)
11. JOHNNY MOPED – Cycledelic (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 029, Oct 2007)
12. JACKIE LEE – The Duck (Ace/Kent CDHP 032, Dec 2010)
13. LONNIE MACK – The Wham Of That Memphis Man! (Ace CDCHM 1134, Nov 2006)
14. MOTORHEAD – Motorhead [1977 Debut LP] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 021, Oct 2007)
15. THE OLYMPICS – Something Old, Something New (Ace/Kent CDHP 018, Dec 2006)
16. THE RADIO STARS – Songs For Swinging Lovers (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 5, June 2006)
17. THE SONICS – Here Are The Sonics! (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 022, Feb 2007)
18. THE SONICS – The Sonics Boom (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 023, April 2007)
19. ROOSEVELT SYKES [aka 'The Honeydripper'] – Sings The Blues (Ace CDCHM 1132, Nov 2006)
20. VARIOUS – For Dancers Only [Kent's 1st Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 019, Feb 2007)
21. VARIOUS – For Dancers Also [Kent's 2nd Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 020, April 2007)
22. VARIOUS – Hollywood Rock 'n' Roll [80ts Rockabilly compilation] (Ace CDHP 026, July 2007)
23. VARIOUS – Fool's Gold [70ts Punk compilation] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 028, August 2007)
24. LINK WRAY – Early Recordings (Ace/Chiswick CDCHM 6, June 2006
25. THE ZOMBIES – Odyssey And Oracle (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 025, June 2007)

Saturday, 27 August 2016

"Suite For Susan Moore And Damion - We Are - One, One, All In One/Bird On A Wire" by TIM HARDIN (1999/2009 Beat Goes On 2LPs onto 1CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Will We Ever Run Free Of Those Worldly Wantings?"

This is a moving and at times frustrating release for an artist who engendered both emotions - Oregon's TIM HARDIN.

It's also a tale of two cities - an experimental navel-gazing heart-on-your-emotional-sleeve concept album from 1969 that some have praised as a second "Astral Weeks" while others have labelled "Suite For Susan Moore..." as utter knob and self-indulgent drivel - sat alongside a far more accessible and commercial album from 1971 called "Bird On A Wire" (after a Leonard Cohen cover version) - itself a sort of Soulful singer-songwriter return to form. I'm down with both opinions. Whatever you say about Tim Hardin - he and his music was never anything less than interesting. Here are the satisfied minds...

UK released November 1999 (reissued October 2009) - "Suite For Susan Moore And Damion - We Are - One, One, All In One/Bird On A Wire" by TIM HARDIN on Beat Goes On BGOCD 470 (Barcode 5017251204707) offers 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD and plays out as follows (78:53 minutes):

Implication I: [Side 1]
1. First Love Song
2. Everything Good Become More True
Implication II:
3. Question Of Birth
4. Once-Touched By Flame
5. Last Sweet Moments
Implication III: [Side 2]
6. Magician
7. Loneliness She Knows
End Of Implication:
8. The Country I'm Living In
9. One, One, The Perfect Sum
10. Susan
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 5th album "Suite For Susan Moore And Damion - We Are - One, One, All In One" - released April 1969 in the USA on Columbia CS 9787 (Stereo) and May 1969 in the UK on CBS Records S 63571 (Stereo).

11. Bird On The Wire [Side 1]
12. Moonshine
13. Southern Butterfly
14. A Satisfied Mind
15. Soft Summer Breeze
16. Hoboin' [Side 2]
17. Georgia On My Mind
18. Andre Johray
19. If I Knew
20. Love Hymn
Tracks 11 to 20 are his 6th album "Bird On A Wire" - released June 1971 in the USA on Columbia C 30551 and August 1971 in the UK on CBS Records S 64335

The 8-page booklet features a short but very informative essay on the mad troubadour by COLIN IRWIN as well as the inner artwork to "Suite" and the huge session-musician list for "Bird". That 'crazy man' photo of Hardin and an Eagle that graced the rear of "Suite" is used as the inlay beneath the see-through CD tray and the statuesque picture of Susan Moore graces the last page. It doesn't say who remastered what or where - but the sound is gorgeous - especially for the notoriously quiet passages of "Suite". A track like the acoustic Folk of “The Country I’m Living In” and the simple plinking of an electric piano on “Everything Good Become More True” have tiny amounts of natural hiss - but are never too intrusive or overbearing. A nice job done...

The silly title gives you an indication - a stream of consciousness - contemplation on the 'implications' of relationships - or that Tim loves Susan so much he might just have to marry the broad. I have a love/hate relationship with this album - at times the spoken tracks like "Question Of Birth", "Loneliness She Knows" and "Susan" with lyrics like "...we cannot choose to come or not to come..." or "...if understood the meaning has no meaning..." don't offer explanations on life or love - but instead give you a stream of what feels like therapy psychobabble that doesn't stand up to any real scrutiny. But then there are moments too like the straight-up passion of "First Love Song", "Last Sweet Memory" and "Once-Touched By Flame" where this album dips into the realms of magical - simple and moving. It's an album of both hues...

1971's more polished and accomplished "Bird On A Wire" LP opens with the first of four cover versions sat alongside six new Tim Hardin originals. The 28 session players make it seem like a roll call for a Soul or Jazz Fusion album - included names like Joe Zawinul and Miroslav Vitous of Weather Report, Bassists Tony Levin and “Pops” Popwell of The Crusaders, Guitar virtuosos like Ralph Towner alongside Keyboard people like Warren Bernhardt and Paul Hornsby. But the music is more Rock with a Soulful tinge as evidenced the moment you play his almost Gospel take on Leonard Cohen's "Bird On The Wire" (originally on his 1969 LP "Songs From A Room"). His voice is more noticeably ragged - like a man on his last legs - his drug dependency showing. "Moonshiner" is a Traditional but again his voice and the sweet keyboards make it feel like a broken down Tim Hardin song. "Southern Butterfly" is oddly hissy (the first of his original songs) but lifted out of the ordinary by beautiful string and horn arrangements from Ed Freeman. Written by noted Fiddle player Joe Hayes and his pal Jack Rhodes - "A Satisfied Mind" features the Pedal Steel Guitar of Bill Keith and The Canby Singers giving it some choir-like backing vocals.  We get Funky with "Soft Summer Breeze" - a very cool groove which acted as the flipside to the album's only American 45 on Columbia 45426 in August 1971 (the LP's title track was on the A - it didn't chart). 

Side 2 opens with the almost Crusaders/Meters funky groove of "Hoboin'" where Tim tells us that he 'took a freight train to be my only friend' and 'I took it everywhere...' We return to covers with Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia On My Mind" - the famous song Jazzed up by Joe Zawinul's classy keyboard touches - what a sweet vibe this version is. "Andrey Johray" starts out with "Suite For Susan Moore..." dialogue about good and evil and lost highway children whove become famous - it's a 'know thyself' parable from Tim - a supercool gentle song that hankers back to that 1969 experiment. "...Will we ever run free of those worldly wantings..." he pleads - when deep at the heart of the song is a plea to himself and his friend to do something about their respective self-destructive addictions. Things mellow down with the lovely "If I Knew" - a song I play a lot - gorgeous tune. "Love Hymn' ends a classy but overlooked album on a 'so beautiful' up-note. Nice...

While I would never cite "Suite For Susan Moore..." as some undiscovered masterpiece the great unwashed need alongside their eggs and chips - there are times when I find it magical like a Fred Neil album or a Roy Harper LP. And just sometimes when I'm grooving to the simply Folk Rock beauty of say "Last Sweet Moments" as those vibes ping and that Harmonica soothes - this is the kind of album you 'need' to hear every now and then - an enchanting record that could never get made in 2016 (more's the pity).

Trippy, heartfelt, honest, soulful and as mad as a Psychotherapist at a Donald Trump drug-tasting convention - this pairing of Tim Hardin's 1969 and 1971 albums offers us music lovers two overlooked pieces - both brilliant in their own flawed and haggard ways. A sort of stormy sadness...recommended...

Friday, 26 August 2016

"Setting Sons: Deluxe Edition 2CD Version" by THE JAM (2014 Universal/Polydor 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...No Match For Their Untamed Wit..."

How do you follow something as beloved as 1978's "All Mod Cons"? You do it with 1979's "Setting Sons" that along with The Clash's "London Calling" probably represent Britain's Punk and New Wave period at its snotty full-throated working-class best. And as a nice boy from a nice part of Dublin - I'm down with that Mister Smithers-Jones (The Jam were huge in Ireland)...

Unfortunately like others who bought and loved the glorious embossed original vinyl LP (Polydor POLD 5028) back in the heady end-of-a-decade days of November 1979 - this December 2014 Universal/Polydor 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' feels like a hamburger instead of a steak. I think a lot of it has to do with the presentation of these newer 'Deluxe Editions' that are minus the plastic slipcases that came with the older variants (gave them a bit of class and the easy-to-crumple digipak within some much-needed protection). But like the "Some Girls" Deluxe Edition from The Rolling Stones which completely wrecked fabulous original artwork (with an equally crappy and costly Uber DE edition to fleece fans) – this one screws up the artwork too and the flimsy exposed card digipak  doesn't do this 4th 'DE' for The Jam any favours either.

Having said all that and whinged like a big girl's blouse - there's good here too. The new 2014 remasters are superb, Pat Gilbert's new liner notes explain the LP's impact really well and the pictured fan memorabilia is impressively in-depth. And on the bonus front you forget just how good those stand-alone 45s were (both sides) and The Jam live is a quite awesome thing to behold (even it this BBC stuff as been released before). Time for some embossed details of our own methinks – let's get to the missing bulldogs and added deckchairs...

UK released December 2014 - "Setting Sons: Deluxe Edition 2CD Version" by THE JAM on Universal/Polydor 0602537946952 (Barcode 602537946952) is a 2-Disc Reissue/Remaster and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (58:00 minutes):
1. Girl On The Phone
2. Thick As Thieves
3. Private Hell
4. Little Boy Soldiers
5. Wasteland
6. Burning Sky
7. Smithers-Jones
8. Saturday's Kids
9. The Eton Rifles
10. Heat Wave
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 4th studio album "Setting Sons" - released November 1979 in the UK on Polydor POLD 5028 and in the USA on Polydor SD 6249 - Produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven - it peaked at No. 4 on the UK LP charts (didn't chart in the USA).

BONUS TRACKS - The Singles & B-Sides:
11. Strange Town
12. The Butterfly Collector
Tracks 11 and 12 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 6th UK 7" single released 9 March 1979 on Polydor POSP 34 (peaked at No. 15)
13. When You're Young
14. Smithers-Jones (Single Version)
Tracks 13 and 14 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 7th UK 7" single released 7 August 1979 on Polydor POSP 69 (peaked at No. 17)
15. The Eton Rifles (Single Version)
16. See-Saw
Tracks 15 and 16 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 8th UK 7" single released 26 October 1979 on Polydor POSP 83 (peaked at No. 3)
17. Going Underground
18. Dreams Of Children
Tracks 17 and 18 are the non-album A&B-sides of their 9th UK 7" single released 14 March 1980 on Polydor POSP 113 (peaked at No. 1)

Disc 2 - Live At The Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London, December 1979 (59:08 minutes):
1. Girl On The Phone
2. To Be Someone
3. It's Too Bad
4. Burning Sky
5. Away With The Numbers
6. Smithers-Jones
7. The Modern World
8. Mr. Clean
9. The Butterfly Collector
10. Private Hell
11. Thick As Thieves
12. When You're Young
13. Strange Town
14. The Eton Rifles
15. Down At The Tube Station At Midnight
16. Saturday's Kids
17. All Mod Cons
18. David Watts

THE JAM was:
PAUL WELLER - Lead Vocals, Guitar and Principal Songwriter
BRUCE FOXTON - Bass (wrote "Smithers-Jones", all others by Weller)

MICK TALBOT - Future Style Council partner for Paul Weller is credited as "Merton Mick" and plays Piano on “Heat Wave”
RUDI - Saxophone on “Heat Wave”

The 24-page booklet tries hard to impress - a centre 2-page spread of concert tickets from the Oakland Auditorium in San Francisco in late April 1979 to the unbridled luxury of the Bridlington Spa in November of that Jam-momentous year. There are trade adverts, NME repros, WORDS magazine covers and other depicted memorabilia alongside some live photos. But every one of the flaps is covered in blurred concert photos that have been colour-tinted and look awful and the Red and Blue CDs themselves with a 'Bulldog' face don't impress much nor resemble the LP - and the Bulldog/Deckchair is missing from the back sleeve. The Inner sleeve that came with original British LPs is bizarrely AWOL and it doesn't seem to occur to anyone to provide basic catalogue numbers for anything like I've done above (and don't get me started on the cost of the desirable but extortionate Uber Deluxe Edition). Still - Pat Gilbert's new liner notes give insights into the sheer pressure Weller was under to top "All Mod Cons" and cement their huge and growing popularity and he gets behind the sheer Britishness of the band and the LP's music - how these angry young working-class men were angry at everything - especially the heartless Establishment of the day - and thereby put a single as physically violent as "The Eton Rifles" up to No. 3. And it does sound better...

I've had the "Direction" box set from 1997 and to my ears there's an improvement with these new KEIRON McGARRY Remasters - and those Bonus Single Sides tagged onto Disc 1 pretty much make it essential in any man's books. I don't have the BBC Sessions stuff so the Live Concert on Disc 2 is new to me. I like it - especially lesser-heard tracks like "The Butterfly Collector" and a storming rant through "Mr. Clean" (from "All Mod Cons"). But you'd have to say immediately - what is there here that would tempt a true fan who has purchased all of this before (docked a star for that)?

There's amazing punch in both "Girl On The Phone" and the stunning "Thick As Thieves" - both walloping your speakers as Paul Weller spits out "...says she knows everything about me..." and "...times are so tough...but not as tough as they are now..." (lets not mention the size of Paul's appendage as he does on the "Girl On The Phone" track). The sheer sonic wallop of "Private Hell" is thrilling - as thrashing as I remember it - and the words just as harrowing and locked into the reality of city living in an unemployed England town - singing about an unrecognisable junkie girl lost in their "Private Hell". When the in-yo-face "Eton Rifles" climbed to No 3 on the back of a Top Of The Pops appearance - the album arrived a fortnight later and didn't disappoint with tracks like the unemployed boys and girls holding hands in "Wasteland" and the equally disarming "Little Boy Soldiers" where Weller rages about picking up a gun to shoot a stranger for Queen and Country because you're a "...blessed son of the British Empire..."

Side 2 opens with a "...taxman shouting because he wants his dough..." in the attacking "Burning Sky" that's followed by Foxton's lone contribution and genuine moment of glory - "Smithers-Jones". The single version we're so used to hearing dropped the strings of the album mix - upped the Bass and plucked guitar notes - but I'm a fan of both versions. "Saturday's Kids" drinks lots of beer and work (if they can) down at Woolworths and Tesco's - dreaming of the Mod weekend and the dancehall (and probably seeing The Jam). I've always thought that their storming cover of the Martha and The Vandellas Motown hit "Heat Wave" is the most fantastic version and somehow bookends an angry LP with a moment of upbeat hope (Rudi on Saxophone).

The Bonus Singles throw Disc 1 into superstar territory. I'm fond of "Strange Town" but I'm always drawn to its brilliant flipside "The Butterfly Collector". I can vividly remember playing this side of the Polydor 45 much more than the A. Both the Single Version of "Smithers-Jones" and the Single Edit of "The Eton Rifles" are friggin' genius - but again your heart goes out to the fab B-side "See Saw" which Weller gave to the Glasgow Mod Band THE JOLT who put it onto Side 2 of their 4-Track "Maybe Tonight" EP on Polydor 2229 215 in June 1979 (a huge collectable piece ever since). As if that's not enough - Disc 1 ends on the undeniable brilliance of "Going Underground" backed with the equally cool "The Dreams Of Children". Both rightly took the No. 1 spot in March 1980 - the first of four number ones for this most British of bands.

True fans will probably feel peeved as their computer's access the Gracenote Name database only to be told that Disc 2 of this supposedly new 2014 Deluxe Edition is called 'At The BBC - At The Rainbow' - Disc 3 of the June 2002 3CD set "The Jam At The BBC" - in other words material that's already been released.  Well at least its newly remastered making killer tracks like "To Be Someone" feel 'huge' and less muddied than before. People who invested money in 'that film' get a ribbing in the acidic "Mr. Clean" - the crowd secretly loving it when Weller says I'll 'nice' up your life. The gig is not audiophile for sure but it captures the raw power of the band in front of a devoted crowd and has you nodding at the quality of song after song.

I suppose there are two ways of looking at this 2014 DE - for fans it's a pain and apart from the improved Audio - something of a pointless exercise. But I'd say get past the naff packaging and concentrate on the music - The Jam in all their working-man's glory. Weller would go onto The Style Council and Solo glory and has pretty much remained at the top of his musical game every since - each release still awaited with an excitement this band engendered almost 40 years ago.

"...Saturday kids play one-armed bandits...they never win...but that's not the point is it..." - Paul Weller sang on "Saturday's Kids" way back in 1979. It seems that in 2016 - not a lot has changed when it comes to reissues for fans. We're still at the grubby hands of fruit machine vendors...

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