Thursday, 23 March 2017

"Clouds In My Coffee - 1965 to 1995" by CARLY SIMON [feat Mick Jagger, James Taylor and Robbie Robertson] (1995 Arista 3CD Book Set - Ted Jensen Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of..."

Anyone whose bought or dipped their toes into the murky waters of the WEA/Rhino "Original Album Series" will know that these 5CD card slipcase Mini Box Sets offer an infuriating enticement – they’re cheap and musically plentiful for sure – but only some are Remasters – most not – and none of the dinky little buggers state it either way on the packaging (the EMI related ones do at least feature Remasters and they tell you so when you put them in your PC or Mac).

I mention all this because the Carly Simon "Original Album Series" set for her Elektra Years material 'isn't'. In fact for decades - her lengthy catalogue had conspicuously remained minus decent audio transfers. That is until this 56-Track Retrospective appeared in late 1995 from the company she was then signed to – Arista Records.

In the liner notes to "Clouds In My Coffee" (the Box Set takes it title from lyrics in her most famous song "You're So Vain") – Ace Engineer and all-round Audio Hero TED JENSEN (has done a huge swath of the Atlantic catalogue) makes a big deal about the fact that if the box set were to take place at all - he'd want the absolute best sources. And on the aural evidence presented to us here - the knob-twiddling Tedster got what he wanted. The transfers on this three-decade long retrospective are truly fabulous – and the Previously Unreleased/Rare Stuff actually worth owning.

Let’s get to the music. Here are the not-so-vain details...

US released 7 November 1995 (16 March 1996 in the UK) - "Clouds In My Coffee - 1965 to 1995" by CARLY SIMON on Arista 07822-18798-2 (Barcode 078221879828) is a 3CD 56-Track Long Book Set Of Remasters and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 - "The Hits" - 75:07 minutes:
1. Let The River Run (from "Working Girl" Soundtrack, 1988 on Arista)
2. You Belong To Me (from "Boys In The Trees", 1978 on Elektra, a co-write with Michael McDonald, James Taylor on Backing Vocals with David Sanborn on Alto Saxophone)
3. Nobody Does It Better (from "The Spy Who Loved Me", 1977 James Bond Soundtrack on United Artists, Carole Bayer Seger and Marvin Hamlisch song)
4. Coming Round Again (from "Coming Round Again", 1986 on Arista)
5. Jesse (from "Come Upstairs", 1981 on Warner Brothers)
6. The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of (from "Coming Round Again", 1986 on Arista)
7. You're So Vain (from "No Secrets", 1972 on Elektra - uncredited Backing Vocals by Mike Jagger of The Rolling Stones)
8. Touched By The Sun (from "Letters Never Sent", 1994 on Arista)
9. Haven't Got Time For The Pain (from "Hotcakes", 1974 on Elektra - feat James Taylor and Jimmy Ryan on Acoustic Guitars)
10. Better Not Tell Her (from "Have You Seen Me Lately?" - 1990 on Arista)
11. Legend In Your Own Time (from "Anticipation", 1971 on Elektra - feat Jimmy Ryan from the 60s Group The Critters on Guitar)
12. Mockingbird (from "Hotcakes", 1974 on Elektra - duet vocals with James Taylor - feat Robbie Robertson of The Band on Guitar, Dr. John on Organ with a Michael Brecker Saxophone Solo)
13. That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be (from "Carly Simon", 1971 on Elektra - Jeff Baxter on Guitar)
14. All I Want Is You (from "Coming Around Again", 1986 on Arista)
15. The Right Thing To Do (from "No Secrets", 1972 on Elektra)
16. Like A River (from "Letters Never Sent", 1994 on Arista)
17. Anticipation (from "Anticipation", 1971 on Elektra)
18. Give Me All Night (from "Coming Around Again", 1986 on Arista)

Disc 2 - "Miscellaneous & Unreleased" - 75:02 minutes:
1. Angel From Montgomery (Previously Unreleased 1972 Elektra Recording - a John Prine cover version)
2. Raining (Previously Unreleased 1990 and 1993 Recording - a Carly Simon song)
3. I'm All It Takes To Make You Happy (Previously Unreleased 1972 Elektra Recording - a Carly Simon song)
4. Easy On The Eyes (from the Soundtrack "This Is My Life", 1992 on Qwest, a co-write with Andy Goldmark)
5. Turn Of The Tide (from the Marlo Thomas and Various Artists LP "Free To Be...A Family", 1988 on A&M, a co-write with Jacob Brackman)
6. Libby (from "Another Passenger", 1976 on Elektra - features Glenn Frey of The Eagles on Guitar and Bill Payne of Little Feat on Keyboards)
7. Have You Seen Me Lately? (From "Have You Seen Me Lately?" - 1990 on Arista)
8. My New Boyfriend (from "Spoiled Girl", 1985 on Epic - features her sister Lucy Simon and Ron Taylor (Bleeding Gums in The Simpsons) on Backing Vocals)
9. Voulez-Vous Danser (from "Carly Simon's Romulus Hunt - A Family Opera", 1993 on Angel Records - a duet with Luretta Bybee)
10. The Night Before Christmas (from the "This Is My Life" Soundtrack, 1992 on Qwest)
11. Halfway 'Round The World (from "Letters Never Sent", 1994 on Arista)
12. Life Is Eternal (from "Have You Seen Me Lately?" - 1990 on Arista - a duet with Will Lee)
13. We Have No Secrets (from "No Secrets", 1972 on Elektra - features Lead Guitar by Jimmy Ryan from 60s group The Critters)
14. Why (from the Soundtrack "Soup For One", 1982 on Mirage - 4:06 minute album version)
15. Take Me Out To The Ballgame (from the 1992 Documentary "Baseball - A Film by Ken Burns", 1994 on Elektra Nonesuch)
16. Back The Way (from the "This Is My Life" Soundtrack, 1992 on Qwest)
17. Itsy Bitsy Spider (from "Coming Round Again", 1986 on Arista)
18. Play With Me (Previously Unreleased 1968 Recording - a Carly Simon song - Produced by John McClure)
19. My Luv Is Like A Red, Red Rose (from The Simon Sisters LP "The Simon Sisters Sing The Lobster Quadrille And Other Songs For Children",
1969 on Columbia - a Traditional Song cover version)

Disc 3 - "Cry Yourself To Sleep" - 73:01 minutes:
1. It Happens Everyday (from "Hello, Big Man", 1983 on Warner Brothers)
2. Boys In The Trees (from "Boys In The Trees", 1978 on Elektra - with James Taylor on Backing Vocals)
3. Julie Through The Glass (from "Anticipation", 1971 on Elektra - features Lead Guitar and Bass by Jimmy Ryan from 60s group The Critters)
4. Orpheus (from "Hello, Big Man", 1983 on Warner Brothers)
5. Never Been Gone (from "Spy", 1979 on Elektra - with Lucy Simon on Backing Vocals)
6. Happy Birthday (from "Have You Seen Me Lately?" - 1990 on Arista)
7. Devoted To You (from "Boys In The Trees", 1978 on Elektra - Duet Vocal with James Taylor)
8. Davy (from "Letters Never Sent", 1994 on Arista - Duet with Andreas Vollenweider)
9. Do The Walls Come Down (from "Coming Round Again", 1986 on Arista)
10. Danny Boy (from "My Romance", 1990 on Arista)
11. Dink's Blues (from The Simon Sisters LP "Cuddlebug (The Happiness Blanket)" - 1966 Stereo LP on Kapp Records)
12. We're So Close (from "Spy", 1979 on Elektra - with David Sanborn on Alto Saxophone)
13. Someone Waits For You (from the Soundtrack "Swing Shift", 1984 on Warner Brothers)
14. Born To Break My Heart (from "Letters Never Sent", 1994 on Arista)
15. Time After Time (from "My Romance", 1990 on Arista)
16. What Shall We Do With The Child? (From "Torch", 1981 on Warner Brothers - Jay Berliner on Guitars)
17. I've Got A Crush On You (from the Various Artists cover versions compilation "The Glory Of Gershwin", 1994 on Mercury)
18. Something Wonderful (from "My Romance", 1990 on Arista)
19. You're The Love Of My Life (from the "This Is My Life" Soundtrack, 1992 on Qwest)
20. I Get Along Without You Very Well (from "Torch", 1981 on Warner Brothers - Lee Ritenour on Guitars)
21. By Myself/I See Your Face Before Me (from "My Romance", 1990 on Arista)

The 48-page attached booklet is a seriously classy affair with loads of photos from her family archives with (not surprisingly) quite a few are (how shall we put it) liable to light a "Torch" of their own in her many admirers. The snap of Mum and Daughter on Page 8 is truly beautiful - outtakes from the "Anticipation" sessions and live shots. Special mention should also go to Bob Gothard's front cover and David Simon for Carly as a beaming young girl - a wonderfully alive snap that adorns the booklet's cover and acts as a picture Disc on CD1. After a long list of thank you moments and dedications from CS - there's "A Life Without Limits" essay by Steve Morse of The Boston Globe - followed by "Reflections From A Window On AOL" by Jim Armstrong and the usual reissue credits.

But the big news is the Audio - a seven-month archive trawl (with help from all the other labels) has been given 24-bit digital remasters by TED JENSEN at Sterling Sound. Now while the 80s and 90s stuff was always well produced anyway - the Elektra album cuts from the 70s are an absolute revelation. At last you can hear Jagger on those "You're So Vain" backing vocals - a clear as a bell Bass intro too - the band of sessionmen heavyweights on stuff like "You Belong To Me" and that gorgeous piano-intro to "The Right Thing To Do" followed later in the song by Carly harmonising with Lisa Strike and Vikki Brown - all of it is lovely and sweetly transferred. That same quality applies throughout - except maybe on the 1968 "Play With Me" recording which sounds very much like an acoustic demo done to impress say Tom Rush or Fred Neil. Other than that - the audio quality is remarkably good across the board. 

Disc 1 is the crowd pleaser and it’s easy to hear why four of the eighteen are from 1986's "Coming Round Again" - the huge synth opening of "All I Want is You" threatening to dislodge cabinet doors adjacent to your stereo. The sequencing is clever too - although I can't abide "Jesse" or the overdone Neil Diamond melodrama of "Touched By The Sun". A downside (if you could call it that) is that a lot of all three discs focus on 80s and 90s tracks - so you get that same plinking keyboard sound generic to the periods throughout and it can grate badly. What I wasn't expecting was the five Previously Unreleased tracks on Disc 1 to be so good - "Angel From Montgomery" is a Mom and Dad killing each other marital mayhem song from the pen of John Prine - a properly recorded outtake from the "No Secrets" sessions in 1972. But even better (and surely the real prize on here for fans) is the gorgeous "Rain" from 1990 - another outtake remixed and finished in 1995. It's as good as any of the released stuff. "I'm All It Takes To Make You Happy" is another from the "No Secrets" period. It comes with fey crowd noise, bottles clanking and a live feel around the music - but instead of helping a good song - it sort of does for it - still it's a find.

On the other Discs the Previously Unreleased "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" from the Ken Burns Documentary on Baseball provides a reason as to why Carly is adored - her fabulous voice. Its first half is pure Acapella - just her singing - the second sees her joined by Piano. The overall effect is wow. But I'm also drawn to the beautiful Robert Burns poem put to music on "My Luv Is Like A Red, Red Rose" - a tune that reeks of the romance she herself exudes when she sings (the Irish air "Danny Boy" is the same). The Elektra period "We Have No Secrets", "Legend In Your Own Time" and "Dedicated To You" provides you with tantalising glimpses into how good her first five albums could sound.

Itself already over 20-years old – the 3CD Book Set "Clouds In My Coffee" by Carly Simon has (like good sound in her catalogue) become a necessity if you want her music sounding ship-shape and tip-top (and Stateside it's cheap too). 

Fans will have to own it (if they don't already) and the uninitiated should seek out its aural glories wherever they can...
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"Original Album Series" by AMERICA (June 2012 Warner Brothers/Rhino 5CD Mini Box Set with Singular Sleeve Card Repro Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...




This Review Along With 500 Others Is Available In My
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
CLASSIC 1970s ROCK On CD - Exception Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 
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"...Ventura Highway In The Sunshine..."

I never did quite get why America and their Seventies albums are so derided in some quarters – they made a beautiful racket when they hit that CSNY Harmony Vocals sweet spot. Sure the later stuff could be a tad schmaltzy on occasion – but this dinky little treasure trove offers seekers of Soft Rock an awful lot of good over bad. And "Holiday" from 1974 and "Hearts" from 1975 had the steer-ship of fifth Beatle George Martin at the Producer controls – both huge records - Top 5 albums in their native USA.

There are a lot of miles to cover so once more my nameless horses unto the Ventura Highway...

UK released 11 June 2012 - "Original Album Series" by AMERICA on Warner Brothers/Rhino 8122797457 (Barcode 081227974572) is a 5CD Mini Box Set with Five Single Card Repro Sleeves. Some Remasters - Some Not – it plays out as follows:

Disc 1 "America" (46:43 minutes):
1. Riverside
2. Sandman
3. Three Roses
4. Children
5. A Horse With No Name
6. Here
7. I Need You [Side 2]
8. Rainy Day
9. Never Found The Time
10. Clarice
11. Donkey Jaw
12. Pigeon Song
Tracks 1 to 4, 6 and 7 to 12 are their debut 11-track album "America" - released December 1971 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2576 and December 1971 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46093. When the song "A Horse With No Name" (originally a stand alone 7" single) became a US hit in early 1972 (eventually went to No. 1 as did the album) - "America" the LP was repressed using the same American catalogue but with that track slotted in on Side 1 between "Children" and "Here" making it a 12-track LP. It is this version that is represented here (the UK 11-track LP and even later represses never featured "A Horse With No Name"). Produced by AMERICA, IAN SAMWELL and JEFF DEXTER - it peaked at No. 1 on the US LP charts and No. 14 in the UK.

Disc 2 "Homecoming" (33:20 minutes):
1. Ventura Highway
2. To Each His Own
3. Don't Cross The River
4. Moon Song
5. Only In Your Heart
6. Till The Sun Comes Up Again [Side 2]
7. Cornwall Blank
8. Head & Heart
9. California Revisited
10. Saturn Nights
Tracks 1 to 10 are their second studio album "Homecoming" - released November 1972 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2655 and December 1972 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46180. Produced by AMERICA - it peaked at No. 9 in the USA and No. 21 in the UK.

Disc 3 "Hat Trick" (41:35 minutes):
1. Muskrat Love
2. Wind Wave
3. She's Gonna Let You Down
4. Rainbow Song
5. Submarine Ladies
6. It's Life
7. Hat Trick [Side 2]
8. Molten Love
9. Green Monkey
10. Willow Tree Lullaby
11. Goodbye
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 3rd studio album "Hat Trick" - released November 1973 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2728 and November 1973 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56016. Produced by AMERICA - It peaked at No. 28 in the USA and No. 41 in the UK.

Disc 4 "Holiday" (32:56 minutes):
1. Miniature
2. Tin Man
3. Another Try
4. Lonely People
5. Glad To See You
6. Mad Dog
7. Hollywood [Side 2]
8. Baby It's Up To You
9. You
10. Old Man Took
11. What Does It Matter
12. In The Country
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 4th studio album "Holiday" - released July 1974 in the USA on Warner Brothers W 2808 and July 1974 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56045. Produced by GEORGE MARTIN - it peaked at No. 3 in the USA (didn't chart in the UK)

Disc 5 "Hearts" (36:17 minutes):
1. Daisy Jane
2. Half A Man
3. Midnight
4. Bell Tree
5. Old Virginia
6. People In The Valley
7. Company [Side 2]
8. Woman Tonight
9. The Story Of A Teenager
10. Sister Golden Hair
11. Tomorrow
12. Seasons
Tracks 1 to 12 are their fifth studio album "Hearts" - released April 1975 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2852 and April 1975 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56115. Produced by GEORGE MARTIN - it peaked at No. 4 in the USA (didn't chart in the UK).

AMERICA was:
DEWEY BUNNELL - Lead Vocals and Guitars
GERRY BECKLEY - Guitars and Vocals
DAN PEEK - Bass, Acoustic Guitars and Vocals 

The elaborate tri-gatefold that came with "Homecoming" and the inners and inserts that came with "Hat Trick" and the others are all AWOL in the single sleeve card sleeves and apart from track lists on the generic coloured CDs - there is bugger all by way of info with these multiple packs. But that’s how all these "Original Album Series" sets are – cheap and cheerful. And as luck with have it – Warners have used the second pressing of "America" from 1972 so it includes the huge No. 1 hit "A Horse With No Name".

The Audio is a mixed bag of superlative vs. extremely good. Take "I Need You" on "America" or "To Each His Own" on "Homecoming" - I've had Remasters of these and the audio here is pretty much the same - very clear - beautiful really. However I have Remasters from the "The Definitive Collection" of "Muskrat Love" and the lovely "Sister Golden Hair” and it has to be said that the Remasters are way better than what's on offer here. If I were to break it down - I'd say the first two CDs sound exceptional while the final three are merely very good. But don't let that put you off – you're essentially getting an awful lot of quality here for a very small outlay – roughly of course two quid per album. To the music...

SIngles:
Excepting the non-album track "Everyone I Meet Is from California" (the B-side to "A Horse With No Name" on both sides of the pond) - this 5CD set gives you the A&B-sides of a whopping thirteen American singles - eight of which did the business in the Rock Charts. First up is the song that broke them - "A Horse With No Name" from January 1972 - that was followed in April 1972 with the ballad "I Need You" featuring the equally musical "Riverside" on the flipside – a No. 9 hit. "Ventura Highway" b/w "Saturn Nights" came in September 1972 and went one further to No. 8 (the A-side is surely one of their finest moments) - while "Don't Cross The River" b/w "To Each His own" reached a miserly No. 35 in February 1973.

The third album "Hat Trick" should have been a triumph but it produced a series of 4 x 7" single misses - beginning in March 1973 with "Only In Your Heart" b/w "Moon Song" - the first 45 to not chart. Given the hooky and commercial nature of "Muskrat Love" (paired with "Cornwall Blank" from the second album "Homecoming" on the B-side) - it's odd that the melody didn't light up the top ten in June 1973. Strike three came in November 1973 with "Rainbow Song" b/w "Willow Tree Lullaby" - another non-charter. Last was "Green Monkey" in March 1974 b/w "She's Gonna Let You Down" - but it marked loser number four.

But they were all quickly forgotten for July 1974's "Tin Man" from the new "Holiday" LP. With the album cut "In The Country" on the flipside - the annoyingly simple yet wildly catchy "Tin Man" was perfect American Radio fodder and gave them a rightful No. 4 chart hit. "Lonely People" b/w "Mad Dog" was released November 1974 and with time made No. 5 in early 1975. Their second Number One came with the much-loved "Sister Golden Hair" b/w "Midnight" - a huge hit in April 1975. "Daisy Jane" b/w "Tomorrow" from June 1975 went to No. 20 - but "Woman Tonight" b/w "Bell Tree" from October 1975 failed to ignite.

But where this 5CD set comes into it’s own is with those album tracks you 'never' hear. The debut alone has loads - the 'stop and see what I'm on about' song "Three Roses" - a wickedly infectious acoustic melody that still sounds amazingly fresh 46 years after the event. The strummed "Here" – the piano love song "I Need You" and the gorgeous "Never Found The Time" (very Mercury Years Rod Stewart in its own way) – will all probably elicit tears amidst men of a certain age. And that acoustic guitar build-up intro to "Donkey Jaw" sounds beautiful - and if it had the moniker Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on the LP label instead of America – would have been declared a ‘quit ravishing the land’ masterpiece by every journo for miles around.

Amongst the other four albums is the impossibly pretty familiar faces of "To Each His Own", the David Crosby vibes of "Moon Song" and the sheer soul-warming peacefulness of their John Martyn cover of "Head And Heart" on "Homecoming" (it was on Martyn's masterpiece "Solid Air" in February of 1973). They would even re-write "Everyone I Meet Is From California" as "California Revisited" although I prefer the simpler original (that song is available as a Remaster on "The Definitive Collection" 2CD set). The hankering "Wind Wave" from "Hat Trick" could easily have been a single (love those harmony vocals) and "Submarine Ladies" feels so Neil Young lonesome with that treated Harmonica. 

"It's Life" has one of the most ethereal and beautiful synth/guitar openings to any of their songs - while I've always liked the gorgeous string-instrumental "Miniature" that opens the "Holiday" album - very "Cinny's Waltz" on Tom Waits' 1977 Asylum album "Foreign Affair". And that strange guitar in the 'drinks on me' song "Hollywood" gives you a surprisingly sinister element – like hurt is lurking in that Californian clarion call to all naïve youngsters. And the so damned depressed "Sister Golden Hair" still strikes a chord - how many weddings has this been played at...

Alligator lizards in the air – hit by purple rain – thanks a lot son... With lyrics like this - America the Band was never cool or hip. And for sure even die-hard fans would have to admit that as the albums went on an uneasy easy-listening schmaltz started to creep in amidst those immaculate Production values and sweet Harmony Vocals.

But like Bread and the Eagles - they made music that reached out to millions of people - and on the evidence presented here - it's obvious why. Pick up this 5-disc "Original Album Series" reissue and discover why you still need Ventura Highway in the sunshine...

"America" (1971 and 1972 Debut LP) by AMERICA - Inside "Original Album Series" (2012 Warner Brothers/Rhino 5CD Mini Box Set of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...






This Review Along With 240 Others Is Available In My
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THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT 1971... - Exceptional CD Remasters  
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Their 1971 Debut Album "America" on Warner Brothers BS 2576
(Reissued in 1972 with "A Horse With No Name" Added) 

"...Living On The Riverside..." 

I never did quite get why America and their Seventies albums are so derided in some quarters – they made a beautiful racket when they hit that CSNY Harmony Vocals sweet spot.

Sure the later stuff could be a tad schmaltzy on occasion – but this dinky little treasure trove offers seekers of Soft Rock an awful lot of good over bad. And "Holiday" from 1974 and "Hearts" from 1975 had the steer-ship of fifth Beatle George Martin at the Producer controls – both huge records - Top 5 albums in their native USA.

However for today – we’re going to concentrate on their rather stunning and now wildly overlooked debut – "America" – launched on an unsuspecting world at the tail end of 1971. Some are calling it a forgotten gem – quiet possibly the follow up to "Deja Vu" Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young never made. Anyway - time to name those horses and flush out that Sandman...

UK released 11 June 2012 - "Original Album Series" by AMERICA on Warner Brothers/Rhino 8122797457 (Barcode 081227974572) is a 5CD Mini Box Set with Five Single Card Repro Sleeves – it plays out as follows:

Disc 1 "America" (46:43 minutes):
1. Riverside
2. Sandman
3. Three Roses
4. Children
5. A Horse With No Name
6. Here
7. I Need You [Side 2]
8. Rainy Day
9. Never Found The Time
10. Clarice
11. Donkey Jaw
12. Pigeon Song
Tracks 1 to 4, 6 and 7 to 12 are their debut 11-track album "America" - released December 1971 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2576 and December 1971 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46093. When the song "A Horse With No Name" (originally a stand alone 7" single) became a US hit in early 1972 (eventually went to No. 1 as did the album) - "America" the LP was repressed using the same American catalogue but with that track slotted in on Side 1 between "Children" and "Here" making it a 12-track LP. It is this version that is represented here (the UK 11-track LP and even later represses never featured "A Horse With No Name"). Produced by AMERICA, IAN SAMWELL and JEFF DEXTER - it peaked at No. 1 on the US LP charts and No. 14 in the UK.

Disc 2 "Homecoming" (33:20 minutes):
1. Ventura Highway
2. To Each His Own
3. Don't Cross The River
4. Moon Song
5. Only In Your Heart
6. Till The Sun Comes Up Again [Side 2]
7. Cornwall Blank
8. Head & Heart
9. California Revisited
10. Saturn Nights
Tracks 1 to 10 are their second studio album "Homecoming" - released November 1972 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2655 and December 1972 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46180. Produced by AMERICA - it peaked at No. 9 in the USA and No. 21 in the UK.

Disc 3 "Hat Trick" (41:35 minutes):
1. Muskrat Love
2. Wind Wave
3. She's Gonna Let You Down
4. Rainbow Song
5. Submarine Ladies
6. It's Life
7. Hat Trick [Side 2]
8. Molten Love
9. Green Monkey
10. Willow Tree Lullaby
11. Goodbye
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 3rd studio album "Hat Trick" - released November 1973 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2728 and November 1973 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56016. Produced by AMERICA - It peaked at No. 28 in the USA and No. 41 in the UK.

Disc 4 "Holiday" (32:56 minutes):
1. Miniature
2. Tin Man
3. Another Try
4. Lonely People
5. Glad To See You
6. Mad Dog
7. Hollywood [Side 2]
8. Baby It's Up To You
9. You
10. Old Man Took
11. What Does It Matter
12. In The Country
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 4th studio album "Holiday" - released July 1974 in the USA on Warner Brothers W 2808 and July 1974 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56045. Produced by GEORGE MARTIN - it peaked at No. 3 in the USA (didn't chart in the UK)

Disc 5 "Hearts" (36:17 minutes):
1. Daisy Jane
2. Half A Man
3. Midnight
4. Bell Tree
5. Old Virginia
6. People In The Valley
7. Company [Side 2]
8. Woman Tonight
9. The Story Of A Teenager
10. Sister Golden Hair
11. Tomorrow
12. Seasons
Tracks 1 to 12 are their fifth studio album "Hearts" - released April 1975 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2852 and April 1975 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56115. Produced by GEORGE MARTIN - it peaked at No. 4 in the USA (didn't chart in the UK).

AMERICA was:
DEWEY BUNNELL - Lead Vocals and Guitars
GERRY BECKLEY - Guitars and Vocals
DAN PEEK - Bass, Acoustic Guitars and Vocals 

The elaborate tri-gatefold that came with "Homecoming" and the inners and inserts that came with "Hat Trick" and the others are all AWOL in the single sleeve card sleeves and apart from track lists on the generic coloured CDs - there is bugger all by way of info with these multiple packs. As you can see from the front and rear album cover photos provided for "America" – the credits are barely legible and at this price that’s to be expected.

But the Audio is superb throughout – really great. Take "To Each His Own" on "Homecoming" or "Muskrat Love" on "Hat Trick" or "I Need You" on here - I've had Remasters of these and the audio here is pretty much the same - very clear - beautiful really. Now let’s talk about the debut in full...

It seems funny now to think that the British got the drop on America. The whole of their 11-track self-titled debut album "America" was recorded at Trident Studios in London with Dewey Bunnell's "A Horse With No Name" recorded later at Morgan Studios (in North London). Perhaps suspecting that its incessant hook was a chart winner – Warners decided to issue it as a stand-alone single prior to the album. So 21 November 1971 saw the UK 7" Demo for "A Horse With No Name" appear on Warner Brothers K 16128 as a 3-track EP - the non-album "Everyone I Meet Is From California" being A2 and the album's "Sandman" on the flipside. There is even a very rare Promo-Only picture sleeve for this issue interestingly with the tracks on the wrong order on the P/S.

The album appeared post Christmas December 1971 in both the USA and UK minus "A Horse With No Name". But when American DJs got hold of Warner Brothers WB 7555 in February 1972 (the release date for the US 45) they began playing that 'Neil Young' song listeners were asking for (Bunnell's nasal whine was similar to NY's voice). "A Horse With No Name" quickly began to build massive momentum - so much so that it eventually made the No. 1 spot (the LP did the same). Warner Brothers USA repressed the "America" LP with the same catalogue number as a 12-track reissue with the hit single slotted into Side 1 between "Children" and "Here". In fact the song had such legs that they pressed up a third variant of the vinyl LP which actually says 'Includes The Hit Single "A Horse With No Name"' in boxed print on the front cover lest you didn’t twig what goodies lay within. As a by the way – with Neil Young’s "Harvest" tearing up the US LP charts from the moment it was released in February 1972 – many American buyers thought America’s single was a song by him. It went as far apparently as one clever DJ dubbing the debut America album as "A Horse With No Neil" (he haw).

Speaking of bum notes - it's a bit of a shame that the jaunty and quite brilliant non-album B-side "Everyone I Meet is from California" isn't on Disc 1 as a further bonus. But what you do get is the similarly structured "Riverside" - as lovely a song as has ever opened an LP and a huge fan fave (Warners UK put it on the flipside of "I Need You" in August 1972 – Warner Brothers K 16178). I've always cringed at the drone of "Sandman" if I’m completely honest (and those nonsense lyrics). I'd rather be listening to the 'stop and see what I'm on about' song "Three Roses" - a wickedly infectious acoustic melody that still sounds amazingly fresh 46 years after the event.

The strummed "Here" – the piano love song "I Need You" and the gorgeous "Never Found The Time" (very Mercury Years Rod Stewart in its own way) – will all probably elicit tears amidst men of a certain age. And that acoustic guitar build-up intro to "Donkey Jaw" sounds beautiful and if it had the moniker Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young before it instead of America – would be declared a ‘quit ravishing the land’ masterpiece by every journo for miles.

"America" is a wonderful debut album – tunes – playing – top quality Production values – a pigeon named Fred - it was all there and still is... 
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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

"Santana III: Legacy Edition - Enhanced OPENDISC Version" (2008 Columbia/Legacy 2CD Reissue with 2006 Vic Anesini Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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"...The Moment Is Calling..."

When Santana's third album was first released September 1971 on vinyl LP in the USA (Columbia KC 30595) it was simply entitled "Santana" – confusing as the 1969 debut (not surprisingly) had exactly the same title. The initial October 1971 British pressings of "III" adopted a more practical approach by calling it "Santana 3" on both the label and a gold sticker affixed to the other gatefold sleeve of CBS Records S 69015 (later British stickers would refer to it as "Santana (The Third Album)” but return to the US credit on the label of just "Santana"). But of course over the years it has become known as "Santana III" for Reissue purposes – especially on CD.

Following on from the hugely popular "Abraxas" in 1970 (their first No.1 album) – fans bought it in droves but reviews and feelings were mixed. And while I don't know about "III" being their 'difficult' third album musically (it became their second No.1 in the USA - difficult or not) - what is confusing is the myriad number of CD reissues surrounding it and I'd like to try to address that before reviewing the music. Here goes...

The first real CD Remaster for "Santana III" came in April 1998 as a single-disc 'Expanded Edition' on Columbia 489544 2 (Barcode 5099748954428 - UK Issue) – a 12-Track Super-Bit Remaster that included Three Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks (41:09 minutes). The extras turned out to be 'Live' Recordings taped 4 July 1971 at San Francisco's Fillmore West (owned by the legendary Bill Graham) - "Batuka", "Jungle Strut" and "Gumbo". That disc is still available on Amazon Reference B00K0OLWXU. [Note: there is a limited edition reissue variant of this CD on Columbia 489544 9 (Barcode 5099748954497) released October 2000 with the same tracks and 'digipak' repro artwork - Amazon Reference is B00004SD4U]

Version 2 arrived April 2006 in UK and Europe and was the 35th Anniversary 2CD 'Legacy Edition' Reissue on Columbia/Legacy 82796902702 (Barcode 827969027028). This first variant came in the then customary outer plastic slipcase with a gatefold foldout digipak contained within and expanded booklets - but was deleted quickly and is now quite hard to find in that presentation - Amazon Reference B000E6EJCK).

But to confuses issues yet further - September 2008 (and again in April 2014) saw the same 2CD 'Legacy Edition' reissued as an 'Enhanced OPENDISC' version on Columbia/Legacy 88697352462 (Barcode 886973524626) - Amazon Reference B00K0OLWXU. Both the 2006 and 2008 'Legacy Edition' variants carry the same physical music - but the 2008 'Opendisc' Reissue is in a double-cd jewel case and has a vastly truncated 8-page booklet. However it offers 'exclusive material' via your Computer and the Web that is not on the original 2006 issue. It is this version I will review (podcasts, radio shows, full liner notes and photos). Here are the details...

UK released 19 September 2008 - "Santana III: Legacy Edition - Enhanced OPENDISC Version" by SANTANA on Columbia/Legacy 88697352462 (Barcode 886973524626) is a 2CD Reissue (2006 Remaster) with Exclusive Content accessed via Computer/Web and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (66:43 minutes):
1. Batuka [Side 1]
2. No One To Depend On
3. Taboo
4. Toussaint L'Overture
5. Everybody's Everything [Side 2]
6. Guarjira
7. Jungle Strut
8. Everything's Coming Our Way
9. Par Los Rumberos
Tracks 1 to 9 are their third studio album "Santana" aka "Santana III" - released September 1971 in the USA on Columbia KC 30595 and October 1971 in the UK on CBS Records S 69015. Produced by SANTANA BAND - it peaked at No. 1 in the USA and No. 6 in the UK.

BONUS TRACKS:
10. Gumbo
11. Folsom Street One
12. Banbeye
13. No One To Depend On (Single Version) - January 1972 USA 7" Single 'Edit' of 3:13 minutes - A-side on Columbia 4-45552. Released 30 March 1972 as UK 7" single A-side (also an edit) on CBS Records S CBS 7842 (the album track "Taboo" was its B-side in both countries)
Tracks 10, 11 and 12 are Previously Unreleased 'Studio' Versions. A Previously Unreleased 'live' version of "Gumbo" appeared on the April 1998 CD Remaster - that track has been moved over to Disc 2 so that the 2nd CD is a cohesive 'full concert' of the 4 July 1971 date at The Fillmore West in San Francisco.

Disc 2 (57:51 minutes):
1. Batuka
2. No One to Depend On
3. Toussaint L'Overture
4. Taboo
5. Jungle Strut
6. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen
7. Incident At Neshabur
8. In A Silent Way
9. Savor
10. Para Los Rumberos
11. Gumbo
All Tracks recorded 4 July 1971 at The Fillmore West in San Francisco. Tracks 1, 5, and 11 were the Bonus trio of Tracks on the 1998 CD Remaster - Track 7 and 8 first appeared on the July 1972 3LP Box Set "Fillmore - The Last Days" on Fillmore Records Z3X-31390 - reissued February 1991 as a 2CD set in the USA on Columbia Z2K 31390 - Tracks 2, 3, 4, 6 and 9 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED.

First up is the ludicrous 'Opendisc' set up – only available to those who use PCs and Microsoft Windows (I use a Mac so its useless to me). You supposedly enter Disc 1 into your computer and it asks you join-up to a website - but mates of mine who have PCs have said it fails - most likely because the site is no longer active. Apparently the last updated element on their website was 2012 - so I'm essentially left with a 2CD set that calls itself a 'Legacy Issue' but has none of the full annotation the original had because its all supposed to be accessible online. The only upside is that this variant is cheap – less than seven quid in some places – whilst the deleted 2006 original with its distinctive 'Legacy Edition' plastic slipcase is pushing near thirty. All that reissue shenanigans aside - let's get to the music...

Audio Engineer VIC ANESINI has mastered the Legacy Edition - and his is a name I actively seek out when it comes to quality transfers. His skills can be found on a lot of much-praised Columbia releases – Elvis Presley, Carole King, Simon & Garfunkel, Mountain, Nilsson, Paul Simon, The Isley Brothers, Mott The Hoople, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Jayhawks and Santana (to name but a few). The Audio sound stage here is wonderful – full of huge presence - the massive rhythm sections in Santana threatening to invade your living room and set up summer camp there. A sweet job done...

III opens with "Batuka" - a stunning fusion instrumental with Carlos letting rip. Percussionists Michael Carabello and Coke Escobedo came up with the winner "No One To Depend On". Recorded 16 June 1971 - the full album version runs to 5:31 minutes with Gregg Rolie on Lead Vox with Rico Reyes providing those back-up chorus vocals. But I actually prefer the more economical 7" single edit - a smart inclusion on Disc 1 as a Bonus Track. Keyboardist/Vocalist Gregg Rolie and Percussionist Jose Areas contributed my other fave-rave on the album - the brilliant Santana slink of "Taboo" - the remaster giving sexy life to those swirling guitars and that Tabla rhythm - the closest the album gets to the brilliance of "Abraxas". In fact when I think about the full 5:34 minute album version of "Taboo" on the B-side of edited "No One To Depend On" – that’s one helluva 45. The six-minute Side 1 finisher "Toussaint L'Overture" is a band effort - Michael Shrieve and Carlos amidst the six-name credits. It's a Latin-Rock Funk-Fusion wig out - pulsing and racing with life and rhythms and that feeling that somehow this music is still new and fresh. 

Party-time arrives with the brassy "Everybody's Everything" - the Tower of Power horn section aided by a stunning Neal Schon guitar solo (a 17-year old with dreams of Journey only a couple of years later). Apparently its an adaptation of a song called "Karate Boogaloo" by The Emperors on Brunswick 55333 in 1967 - hence the triple credit to Carlos Santana, Tirone Moss and Milton D Brown. September 1971 saw the US 7" single for "Everybody's Everything" issued on Columbia 4-45472 with "Guarjira" on the flipside - it peaked at No. 12 on the US singles charts. I must admit I find "Jungle Strut" (a Gene Ammons song) and especially the weedy vocals on "Everything's Coming our Way" the least interesting stuff on the album - but the Tito Puente cover "Para Los Rumberos" brings it all back to their Latin roots with breakneck percussion.

For me what makes this whole release worth it is the Bonus Material - especially that live concert now all lumped together onto Disc 2. Back to Disc 1 for a moment. I frankly think the 'studio' version of "Gumbo" rocks like a mother - a four-minute guitar fest from Carlos Santana and Neal Schon. But the seven-minute "Fulsom Street - One" instrumental outtake is the stuff of Funky Latin legend. Recorded January 1971 (early in the sessions) - man is this band cooking - bopping and swaying - that sexy rhythm now given flute flourishes and extended piano/guitar solos. As a guy who loves his Soul with a Funky Rock tip - I'm absolutely eating this sucker up. Then we get hit with 10:21 minutes of "Banbeye" recorded a month later in February 1971. Again a sexy rhythm is set up with percussion and piano and chanting voices - but its nearly seven minutes before Carlos comes sailing in - testing the waters with distant guitar notes. As the Tabla pounds and the drums whack all around your speakers - it's a rhythm romance for ten minutes and an outtake for sure - but such a pleasing one after all these years.

The live show features a slick full album two-track combo version of "Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen" followed shortly afterwards by a song you don't hear too many people cover - Joe Zawinul's "In A Silent Way" from his 1971 Atlantic records debut LP. It’s a seven-minute piece with beautiful 'feel' playing from Carlos - sensual to start with - then sexy funky thereafter and finally arriving back at vibes and shimmering guitar notes. What a sweet find. Abraxas fans will also love the relatively short 5:28 minutes of "Incident At Neshabur" as opposed to the sidelong live effort on 1973's "Lotus". And on it goes with a barnstorming "Savor" where you can feel the rafters shaking and the Fillmore crowd grooving....

The 2CD 'Legacy Edition' of "Santana III" is a triumph musically - but you'd have to dock it a star for this 'doesn't really work' Opendisc version that short changes punters on the annotation and non-accessible online-content fronts.

But man oh man - the music - that Santana boy and his band could play...