Thursday, 27 April 2017

"Trip In The Country" by AREA CODE 615 (December 2014 Prog Temple CD Reissue and Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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"...Stone Fox Chase..."


In their short but lively 2-album career - the Nashville sessionmen supergroup AREA CODE 615 briefly dented the US LP charts with their debut album "Area Code 615" in October 1969 – a four week stay that peaked at a lowly No. 191. But their second record "Trip In The Country" from August 1970 tanked entirely. And on re-hearing its rather odd mishmash of styles in 2017 - its lack of success then is not entirely unsurprising now especially from a cold-as-day reappraisal distance of 47 years. 

Most of us in the U of the K only really know this obscure American band through one song - their stunning "Stone Fox Chase" Swamp Rock instrumental that became the very cool theme music to BBC 2's "The Old Grey Whistle Test". First aired in September 1971 and running right through to 1988 with various presenters (Bob Harris, Anne Nightingale, Mark Ellen, Andy Kershaw, David Hepworth) – every kid out there of my ancient stature (over 50) will know that that British music program (primarily formed around Rock and its diverse genre buddies) probably informed more of our album buying choices than cool DJs like John Peel, Alan Freeman, Kid Jensen and even Thursday’s 'Top of the Pops' chart-program combined. The "Whistle Test" was huge – and every week – there was Area Code 615 – luring us impressionable young types into the soul-sucking depravity of Rock 'n' Roll with some animated guy kicking stars in the galactic nadge (graphics for the opening credits) to the sound of "Stone Fox Chase".

The British release of their second LP "Trip To The Country" didn't arrive in Blighty until April 1971 - so like "Top Of The Pops" using the equally cool cover version of Led Zeppelin’s "Whole Lotta Love" by Alex Korner's C.C.S. for their theme in 1970 - Whispering Bob Harris and his crew (the first presenter) spotted a goody and promptly hooked a nation. In fact I can remember around 1973 or 1974 when Bob was inundated with requests as to know who did the theme music - and before beginning the program had to explain what it was and who had recorded it.

Which brings us to this curious little CD reissue and remaster that has good and bad points. Here are the foxy details...

European released 1 December 2014 (reissued 6 January 2015 and 29 February 2016) - "Trip In The Country" by AREA CODE 615 on Prog Temple PTCD8036 (Barcode 4753314803619) is a straightforward CD transfer and remaster of the original 11-track 1970 LP and plays out as follows (33:20 minutes):  

1. Scotland [Side 1]
2. Always The Same
3. Stone Fox Chase
4. Russian Red
5. Judy
6. Gray Suit Men
7. Katy Hill [Side 2]
8. Sligo
9. Sausalito
10. Welephant Walk
11. Devil Weed And Me
Tracks 1 to 11 are their second and last studio album "Trip To The Country" - released August 1970 in the USA on Polydor 24-4025 and April 1971 in the UK on Polydor 2425 023. Produced by AREA CODE 615 - it didn't chart in either country. Note: the back inlay lists only 10 songs when there are in fact 11 - "Gray Suit Men" (the last track on Side 1) is the song mistakenly not listed.

AREA CODE 615 was:
WAYNE MOSS - Guitar
CHARLIE McCOY - Guitar, Harmonica and Recorder
MAC GAYDEN - Guitar (Lead Vocals on "Gray Suit Men", slight vocals on "Katy Hill")
WELDON MYRICK - Steel Guitar
BUDDY SPICHER - Fiddle, Cello and Viola
BOBBY THOMPSON - Banjo
DAVID BRIGGS - Keyboards
NORBERT PUTNAM - Bass and Cello
KENNETH BUTTREY - Drums and Percussion

It doesn’t say who did the liner notes in the gatefold slip of paper that acts as an insert – that’s not to say they aren’t informative – they are. There’s a picture CD (front cover art) and the rear sleeve of the album is reproduced beneath the see-through CD tray. Although it says 'digitally remastered' on the rear inlay packaging – it doesn’t say from where or what or by whom. Having said that the audio is amazing. This is the second Prog Temple CD reissue I’ve bought. They’ve also done Scullion's “Balance And Control” - an album released October 1980 on WEA Ireland and Produced by the mighty and sadly-missed John Martyn. Scullion featured Sonny Condell of the Irish Folk duo TIR na n'OG who'd had three well-revered albums on Britain's Chrysalis Records in the early Seventies. The sound on that 2016 Prog Temple CD is also superlative (will review soon) - so I've absolutely no complaints here despite PT's slightly haphazard annotation.

Apart from "Gray Suit Men" which features a mad vocal from Mac Gayden and one line sung in "Katy Hill" - the album is entirely instrumental. And while most are Country-Funky Swamp Rock-ish like say the Harmonica driven "Stone Fox Chase" or the banjo-led "Russian Red" - you also get slightly unnerving Easy Listening pieces like "Judy" that sounds like it should be on a K-Tel LP for evening romance moods. And therein lies the problem with AREA CODE 615 - identity. If this is an acid-trip in the country as the title suggests - you'll be hard-pressed to find it amidst these swamp-meets-cinema set of songs.

"Trip In The Country" opens up with the decidedly funky "Scotland" where Harmonicas, Fiddles and Guitars engage in a mighty hoedown that feels both fun and cheesy at one and the same time. "Always The Same" then suddenly comes on like some smooth Soundtrack interlude where pedal steel guitar introduces Steve McQueen to another hacienda town that needs a hired gun. It's confusing to say the least and musically not that great. Things of course change with 'that' song - the wonderful "Stone Fox Chase" - sounding utterly brill here and I'm loving that strange middle-eight that slows down - the bit they edited out on the credits of TOGWT - the final passage in the song you never get to hear. A mad fiddle solo introduces "Gray Suit Men" followed by heavy-guitar and a 'count their money' set of lyrics from a clearly exasperated Mac Gayden.

Side 2 opens with pure Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Country - the banjo of "Katy Hill" where Gayden lets rip with one lyric. Far better is "Sligo" which doesn't at all sound like a county in the West of Ireland but a bayou swamp dance with Harmonica, fantastic fuzzed guitars and a deeply funky bass line. At 2:25 minutes - the unlikely sounding "Sligo" is one of the only other songs on the album to compare with "Stone Fox Chase" - wishing the whole record sounded like this. After the high of "Sligo" - we get the schlock of "Sausalito" - an instrumental once again laden with strings and Harmonica - like some interlude as Robert Redford wades through snow in Jeremiah Johnson admiring the pine trees. "Welephant Walk" picks up the pace and offers another moment of hoe-down fun while "Devil Weed And Me" is the only other song that comes close to the guitar-wig out of "Sligo" - another instrumental mixing nice moments with rocking ones.

In 1974 - Polydor UK lumped their two albums together "Area Code 615/Trip In The Country" as one twofer double-album on Polydor 2683 040. Wayne Moss, Mac Gayden and Kenny Buttrey would split in 1971 to form the Southern Rock outfit BAREFOOT JERRY - another fondly remembered band that issued a wad of albums that never charted. After one LP with them - Gayden would again jump ship and form SKYBOAT. The others would session on large amounts of albums for artists as diverse as Steve Miller, Johnny Cash, The Beau Brummels, Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel, Nancy Sinatra and even Elvis Presley. Both Gayden and Buttrey are also remembered for having penned the massive hit "Everlasting Love" - a Soul dancer for Robert Knight in the States and a British No. 1 in 1968 for the pop act Love Affair. West Virginia's Charlie McCoy would of course have his own band and Country hits.

"Trip In The Country" is anything but a masterpiece - a three-star album given five-star sound. Yet there are moments of genius too that I just had to own and I suspect others will feel the same. 

Fans should dig in especially given the fab audio - but I’d suggest that the Country-Funk curious nab an iTunes listen first...

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

"The Brunswick Anthology" by BARBARA ACKLIN (September 2002 Brunswick 2CD Compilation - Ivan Joseph Goldberg Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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"…Here Is A Heart…"


Some Soul singers have a palatable sweetness to their delivery – at ease with either rapture or heartache and always capable of delivering a song performance that regularly renders even the most diehard fan weak at the knees. They make you smile. They move you pure and simple. Oakland’s Barbara Jean Acklin is one of those.

Her heyday at Brunswick Records between 1968 and 1973 has been reissued extensively in both Europe and Japan - albeit on now deleted and expensive CDs – but if you want a comprehensive one-stop that isn’t going to break the bank but still deliver on quality Remastered Audio – then 2002's "The Brunswick Anthology" has all the right curves. Here are the womanly details...

UK released September 2002 – "The Brunswick Anthology" by BARBARA ACKLIN on Brunswick BICD1002 (Barcode 5060029810221) is a 36-track 2CD set of Remasters and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (49:01 minutes):
1. Fool, Fool, Fool (Look In The Mirror) (1967 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55319, A)
2. I've Got You Baby (1967 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55355, A)
3. What The World Needs Now (Is Love Sweet Love) (from her 1968 US LP "Love Makes A Woman" on Brunswick BL 754137)
4. Come And See Me Baby (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55379, B-side to "Love Makes A Woman")
5. Love Makes A Woman (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55379, A)
6. Your Sweet Loving (1967 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55319, B-side of "Fool, Fool, Fool (Look In The Mirror)")
7. Yes I See Love (I Missed) (from her 1968 US LP "Love Makes A Woman" on Brunswick BL 754137)
8. Be By My Side (1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55399, B-side to "Am I The Same Girl")
9. Just Ain't No Love (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55388, A)
10. Am I The Same Girl (1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55399, A)
11. Here Is A Heart (from her 1969 US LP "Seven Days Of Night" on Brunswick BL 754148)
12. Mr. Sunshine (Where Is My Shadow) (from her 1969 US LP "Seven Days Of Night" on Brunswick BL 754148)
13. Seven Days Of Night (1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 755412, B-side of "A Raggedy Ride")
14. Love Had To Come To Stay (from her 1969 US LP "Seven Days Of Night" on Brunswick BL 754148)
15. You’ve Been In Love Too Long (from the 1970 US LP "Someone Else's Arms" on Brunswick BL 754156)
16. Show Me The Way To Go (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55366, A, credited to GENE CHANDLER and BABARA ACKLIN)
17. Love Won't Start (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55366, B-side to "Show Me The Way To Go", credited to GENE CHANDLER and BABARA ACKLIN)
18. From The Teacher To The Preacher (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55387, A, credited to GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN)

Disc 2 (56:47 minutes):
1. Someone Else's Arms (1970 USA 7" single on Brunswick 755433, A)
2. After You (1969 USA 7” single on Brunswick 755421, A)
3. What's It Gonna Be (from her US LP "Someone Else's Arms" on Brunswick BL 754156)
4. More Today Than Yesterday (from her US LP "Someone Else's Arms" on Brunswick BL 754156)
5. Spinning Wheel (from her US LP "Someone Else's Arms" on Brunswick BL 754156)
6. I Did It (1970 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55440, A)
7. Make The Man Love You (1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick B 55447, B-side of "I Can't Do My Thing")
8. I Can't Do My Thing (1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick B 55447, A)
9. I'm Living With A Memory (1970 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55440, B-side to "I Did It")
10. Lady, Lady, Lady (1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55465, A)
11. I Call It Trouble (1972 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55486, A)
12. I'll Bake Me A Man (from the 1972 US LP "I Call It Trouble" on Brunswick BL 754187)
13. Portrait Of A Broken Heart (from the 1972 US LP "I Call It Trouble" on Brunswick BL 754187)
14. Stop, Look And Listen (1971 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55465, B-side of "Lady, Lady, Lady")
15. It's A Groovy Idea (from the 1972 US LP "I Call It Trouble" on Brunswick BL 754187)
16. Anywhere But Nowhere (1968 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55387, B-side to "From The Teacher To The Preacher", credited to GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN)
17. Will I Find Love (1969 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55405, B-side of "Little Green Apples", credited to GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN)
18. Little Green Apples (1969 USA 7" single on Brunswick 55405, A, credited to GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN)

The functional 8-page liner notes (no name provided) give a scant few pages to Barbara’s history (born 1944 in Chicago, passed away 1998, she was married to Eugene Record of The Chi-Lites for some years) and basic track lists that can't even be bothered to offer you catalogue numbers (I've found them out myself for this review). 

But the Audio more than makes up for the lack of decent annotation. Although it doesn't say who did the transfers and remasters – if this double is based on the 2002 single-CD set "20 Greatest Hits" also on Brunswick – I'm certain the superb remastered sound comes courtesy of IVAN JOSEPH GOLDBERG who used original master tapes. Add to this the fact that Brunswick had the awesome talents of 5-time Grammy Winner BRUCE SWEDIEN as their Engineer – and classics like "Just Ain't No Love", "Love Makes A Woman" or "Am I The Same Girl" (a lyric version of "Soulful Strut" by Young-Holt Unlimited) – clobber you with truly fantastic audio quality. That backing rhythm of drums and piano punctuated by great brass fills – slinky keys – what a blast.

Across the two CDs you get all of the 7 hit entries she had on the American Billboard R&B charts – "Show Me The Way To Go" with Gene Chandler (No. 30 in March 1968), "Love Makes A Woman" (No. 3 in July 1968), "From The Teacher To The Preacher" with Gene Chandler (No. 16 in November 1968), "Just Ain't No Love" (No. 23 in December 1968), "Am I The Same Girl" (No. 33 in March 1969), "After You" (No. 30 in November 1969) and "I Did It" (No. 28 in October 1970). But the real joy for collectors here is those rare non-album B-sides running alongside choice LP cuts – the kind of stuff that rarely makes your usual compilation fodder. I'm digging ace flipsides like "Come And See Me", "Be By My Side" and "Make The Man Love You" that compliment cool album cuts like "What's It Gonna Be", the sophisticated "More Than Yesterday" from her 3rd Brunswick album "Somebody Else's Arms" and her wicked cover of the Blood, Sweat & Tears classic "Spinning Wheel" (written by Lead Singer David Clayton-Thomas).

It's also a blast to have both the famous A-side "Love Makes A Woman" nestle with its less famous B-side "Come And See Me Baby" on the same compilation – what a winning pair. Another joyous single that deserves more attention on the Northern Soul circuit is "After You" – a finger-clicking slice of pure 60ts Soul heaven. The groovy piano and organ backing that bedrocks "Just Ain't No Love" is typical of her material with Brunswick – upbeat, dancefloor friendly and irresistible. Downsides - the booklet is poor really when with a bit of effort it could have done her musical legacy the honours it deserves and Disc 1 could easily have included rare 7" singles like "A Raggedy Ride" or even a few choice album cuts from the 2nd LP "Seven Days Of Night" - but alas...

There is a single-disc 20-track variant available Stateside that I’ve also reviewed called (unimaginatively) "20 Greatest Hits". It came out February 2002 on Brunswick BRC 33011-2 (Barcode 646953301124 will locate the right issue) in the USA, runs to 59:04 minutes, has a functional 6-page inlay but more importantly enjoys that same great remastered-sound. In fact "20 Greatest Hits" is available online for less than four quid in places and would suffice if the double feels like too much of an outlay. But in truth - even as a casual buyer - I'd try to spend the few extra spondulicks – you’ll be 'so' glad you did.

It doesn’t take Mensa genius to work out that Brunswick Records housed some truly gorgeous Soul in its classy roster of artists (Jackie Wilson, Erma Franklin, Gene Chandler, Tyrone Davis and of course The Chi-Lites). And you would have to say that Barbara Acklin’s stay between 1967 and 1973 epitomises that with style.

"...Oh yes it's love...that makes a woman..." Succumb to the call people…

"20 Greatest Hits" by BARBARA ACKLIN (2002 Brunswick CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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"…Love Makes A Woman…"


"20 Greatest Hits" is probably not going to win an 'Original Title Of The Year' award at a Various Artists Prize-Winning convention any time soon – but this is one of those boring looking 'hits' sets that so works on the two fronts that matter – top track choices and great audio. The fire was burning indeed. Here are the womanly details…

US released February 2002 – "20 Greatest Hits" by BARBARA ACKLIN on Brunswick BRC 33011-2 (Barcode 646953301124) breaks down as follows (59:04 minutes):

1. Love Makes A Woman (1968 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55379, A)
2. Just Ain’t No Love (1968 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55388, A)
3. Am I The Same Girl (1969 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55399, A)
4. Fool, Fool, Fool (Look In The Mirror) (1967 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55319, A)
5. Portrait Of A Broken Heart (from the 1972 US LP “I Call It Trouble” on Brunswick BL 754187)
6. You’ve Been In Love Too Long (from the 1970 US LP “Someone Else’s Arms” on Brunswick BL 754156)
7. I Did It (1970 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55440, A)
8. After You (1969 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55421, A)
9. Stop, Look And Listen (1971 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55465, B)
10. Lady, Lady, Lady (1971 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55465, A)
11. Make The Man Love You (from the 1971 US LP “I Did It” on Brunswick BL 754166)
12. I Call It Trouble (1972 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55486, A)
13. Be By My Side (1969 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55399, B)
14. Yes I See Love (from her 1968 LP “Love Makes A Woman” on Brunswick BL 754137)
15. To Sir With Love (from her 1968 LP “Love Makes A Woman” on Brunswick BL 754137)
16. Someone Else’s Arms (1970 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55433, B-side of “Is It Me”)
17. It’s A Groovy Idea (from the 1972 US LP “I Call It Trouble” on Brunswick BL 754187)
18. From The Teacher To The Preacher (1968 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55387, A, credited to GENE CHANDLER and BARBARA ACKLIN)
19. I’ll Bake Me A Man (from the 1972 US LP “I Call It Trouble” on Brunswick BL 754187)
20. Show Me The Way To Go (1968 USA 7” single on Brunswick 55366, A, credited to GENE CHANDLER and BABARA ACKLIN)

The 6-page foldout liner notes by JIM DAWSON give an excellent and affectionate overview of her productive stay at Brunswick Records - but it’s the superb remastered sound done by IVAN JOSEPH GOLDBERG (from original tapes) that clobbers you. Brunswick had the awesome talents of 5-time Grammy Winner BRUCE SWEDIEN as their Engineer and when you rehear classics like “Just Ain’t No Love” or “Am I The Same Girl” (a lyric version of “Soulful Strut” by Young-Holt Unlimited) – the audio quality here is truly fantastic. That backing rhythm of drums and piano punctuated by great brass fills – slinky keys – what a blast.

Even though it includes all of the 7 chart entries she made on the American Billboard R&B charts - for a single-CD compilation you could argue that it’s playing time (like its title) lacks any real imagination. But the track choices are very clever and as you play through it – hugely satisfying as an overall listen. You get classy singles like “Love Makes A Woman” and the two hits she had with Gene Chandler – “From The Teacher To The Preacher” and “Show Me The Way To Go”, really ace flipsides like “Come And See Me” and “Be By My Side” running alongside cool album cuts like “To Sir With Love” (exclusive to this set, not on the 2CD “The Brunswick Anthology”).

It doesn’t take Mensa genius to work out that Brunswick Records housed some truly gorgeous Soul in its classy roster of artists (Jackie Wilson, Erma Franklin, Gene Chandler, Tyrone Davis and of course The Chi-Lites) - and you have to say that Barbara Acklin’s stay between 1967 and 1973 epitomises that with style.

A fab CD reissue – and unlike "The Brunswick Anthology" and "The Complete" which are now deleted and have acquired hefty price tags – this brill little set is still readily available for a reasonable price and wanting to bring love into your home. Succumb to its call…

"The Warner Brothers Year: Hits, Remixes & Rarities" by ASHFORD & SIMPSON (February 2008 Rhino 2CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...


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"…Have You Ever Tried It…"


In truth - songwriting giants (Nicolas) ASHFORD and (Valerie) SIMPSON probably need - no deserve - a 3 or 4CD box set to document their extraordinary contributions to Soul, Funk and Disco - especially in that halcyon decade of the Seventies.

But in lieu of that – this superbly remastered 2008 2CD set on Rhino will have to do. Here are the details for those elusive but tasty Promo-Onlys…

US released February 2008 – "The Warner Brothers Year: Hits, Remixes & Rarities" by ASHFORD & SIMPSON on Rhino R2 347964 (Barcode 081227995065) is a 2CD set of Remasters and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (75:42 minutes):
1. Over And Over (12" Disco Mix) (May 1977 USA Promo-Only 12" single on Warner Brothers PRO 648)
2. Everybody's Got To Give It Up (from the 1974 US LP "I Wanna Be Selfish" on Warner Brothers BS 2789)
3. On More Try (12" Disco Mix) (January 1976 USA Promo-Only 12" single on Warner Brothers PRO 676)
4. Have You Ever Tried It (from the 1973 US LP "Gimme Something Real" on Warner Brothers BS 2739)
5. Tried, Tested And Found True (12" Disco Mix) (May 1977 USA Promo-Only 12" single on Warner Brothers PRO 648)
6. Send It (from the September 1977 USA LP "Send It" on Warner Brothers BS 3088)
7. Top Of The Stairs (from the September 1977 USA LP "Send It" on Warner Brothers BS 3088)
8. Don't Cost You Nothing (12" Disco Mix) (December 1977 USA Promo-only 12" single on Warner Brothers PRO 706)
9. It Seems To Hang On (12" Disco Mix) (July 1978 USA Promo-Only 12" single on Warner Brothers PRO 748)
10. Found A Cure (12" Disco Mix) (June 1979 USA Promo-only 12" single on Warner Brothers DWBS 8874)
11. Nobody Knows (12" Disco Mix) (October 1979 USA Promo-Only 12" single on Warner Brothers PRO-A-837)
12. Love Don't Make It Right (12" Disco Mix) (June 1980 USA Promo-Only 12" single on Warner Brothers PRO-A-884)
13. Stay Free (from the August 1979 US LP "Stay Free" on Warner Brothers 3357)
14. Bourgie Bourgie (from the September 1977 USA LP "Send It" on Warner Brothers BS 3088)

Disc 2 (All Remixes Done in 2008, 77:04 minutes):
1. Found A Cure (A Tom Moulton Mix, 10:34 minutes)
2. It Seems To Hang On (Tommy Musto Re-Touch, 8:28 minutes)
3. One More Try (Dimitri Re-Edit, 7:59 minutes)
4. Bourgie Bourgie (Joe Claussell's Classic Remix, 11:20 minutes)
5. Over And Over (Simphouse/M&M Mix, 9:01 minutes)
6. Stay Free (Dim’s The Missing Mix, 7:49 minutes)
7. Love Don't Make It Right (Joey Negro Mix)
8. Tried, Tested And Found True (Simphouse/M&M Soulful Mix, 7:38 minutes)
9. Stay Free (Dim's Club Mix, 7:44 minutes)

The 16-page booklet (inside a 3-way foldout hard card sleeve) has liners notes by DAVID NATHAN, a Producer’s Note about the 12" singles from JOHNNY "D" DeMARIO and PAUL SIMPSON, with further reminiscences in the final few pages from Ashford & Simpson themselves. 

RICK EESIG did the remasters in New York and the audio quality is fantastic – crowd-pleasers like "Have You Ever Tried It" sounding so fresh and alive. As you can also see from the track list on Disc 1 – lots of those elusive American Promo-only 12" Mixes make their debut on CD here. Take the piano-boogie of "Tried, Tested And Found True" – the Disco Mix runs to 5:28 minutes – and not say a pointless 9 or ten minutes. It has string and brass breaks throughout and a huge rhythm section that threatens at times to overtake the whole song – and yet the remaster allows the lot to shine.

The punch off the fabulous and technically brilliant instrumental "Bourgie Bourgie" is the same – it’s six minutes of sweetness feeling lush and sexy and properly funky in a way that only Seventies Soul seemed to be. Even by 1979 and “Stay Free” – they still seemed relevant and the title-track has a gorgeous Anthony Jackson bass line (listening to Chic a lot I dare say). Eric Gale's funky guitar flicks on "Found A Cure" (another winner from the "Stay Free" album) are very clear too as is that great string/brass backing. More hooky melodies kick in with the monster “Love Don’t Make It Right” – a tune that used to slay the dancers whenever I DJ'd it back in the nightclub day. And I love that effortless funk they got on "It Seems To Hang On" (easy to see why Rhino also issued this as a 4 x 12" single set – DJs wanting those grooves so bad).

Of the remixes I went straight for the huge eleven minutes of "Bourgie Bourgie" and although it mostly works – it kind of overstays its welcome a tad no matter how much I love it (a clever update from Claussell nonetheless). The same applies to "Over And Over" – the mix dominating instead of the melody – drum machine sounds etc. Joey Negro's take on "Love Don't Make It Right" ups the pace and features a faster funky backing track - but again you can't help feel that the original got it just right. The most successful one here for me is Dimitri's re-working of "One More Try" – still funky with Elliott Randall and Eric Gale's guitar work peaking through all the time to great effect (Elliott Randall did the stunning guitar work on Steely Dan's "Reeling In The Years" back in 1972). 

As I said earlier - someone needs to get a proper Box Set together for ASHFORD and SIMPSON – more tracks from 1980's "A Musical Affair" – the Side 4 studio stuff from the 1981's "Performance" double live and more. 

But in the meantime there is this to savour – even if it has started to accumulate a rather nasty price tag since deletion. Despite the fact that you probably won’t play much of Disc 2 – Disc 1 is worth every funky remixed cent. Recommended...