Monday, 24 October 2016

"Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon" by STATUS QUO (2003 Sanctuary/Castle Music 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Junior's Wailing..."

Across many decades of record collecting and buying/selling rarities for Reckless Records in London - I can count on one-hand the number of times I've seen a British original of Quo's "Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon" August 1970 LP with it's 'S/Quo' black and white poster inside. I suspect like the poster in The Who's "A Quick One" - the number is under 1000 - possibly even only 500. But it's a measure of how comprehensive and well thought out this superb 2003 CD reissue from England's Sanctuary Records is - that said rarity is pictured in all its hairy-rocker glory on Side 2 of the foldout inlay - along with a huge array of other relevant memorabilia much of which is seriously hard to find.

As all Quo fans know - "Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon" was the band's 'real' beginning. Gone were the garish coats and frilly shirts and the 60ts Psychedelic warbling about Matchstick men and what not - and in came the start of their head's down no-nonsense Rock Boogie that Status Quo became so famous for (and have been continuing into 2016). Along with England's Slade and The Rolling Stones - they can claim to be a band for over 50 years. In fact I'd argue that the "Ma Kelly's..." album is actually more diverse and shows a group maturing rapidly and not just finding their twelve-bar feet - a flowering that would explode on "Dog Of Two Head" in 1971 (their final LP for Pye) and enter British hearts on "Piledriver" in late 1972 (their first LP for Vertigo). Here are the egg and chips...

UK released February 2003 - "Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon" by STATUS QUO on Sanctuary/Castle Music CMQCD 754 (Barcode 5050159175420) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with ten Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows (71:58 minutes):

1. Spinning Wheel Blues
2. Daughter
3. Everything
4. Shy Fly
5. (April) Spring, Summer And Wednesdays
6. Junior's Wailing [Side 2]
7. Lakky Lady
8. Need Your Love
9. Lazy Poker Blues
10. Is It Really Me/Gotta Go Home
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 3rd studio album "Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon" - released August 1970 in the UK on Pye Records NSPL 18344. The American copy on Janus Records JLS-3018 wasn't released until March 1971 so dropped the last track on Side 2 "Is It Really Me/Gotta Go Home" and replaced it with the single "In My Chair" as Track 1 on Side 2 (followed by 6, 7, 8 and 9 above). The front sleeve was the same but the 'table/menu' photo on the back of the British LP was replaced with a black and white photo of the band as a four-piece (minus Roy Lynes who is shown on the 'S/Quo' poster in UK copies - he officially resigned the band).

11. Is It Really Me/Gotta Go Home (Early Rough Mix)
12. Daughter (Early Working Mix)
13. Down The Dustpipe - 6 March 1970 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17987 (B-side was "Face Without A Soul" from the 1969 "Spare Parts" LP)
14. In My Chair - 23 October 1970 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17998 - A-side
15. Gerdundula - 23 October 1970 UK 7" single on Pye 7N 17998 - B-side to "in My Chair" - features the 'Original Version' which is different to the cut on the 1971 "Dog Of Two Head" LP
16. Down The Dustpipe (BBC Session)
17. Junior's Wailing (BBC Session)
18. Spinning Wheel Blues (BBC Session)
19. Need Your Love (BBC Session)
20. In My Chair (1979 Pye Promo Flexidisc)

FRANCIS ROSSI - Guitar and Lead Vocals
ALAN LANCASTER - Guitar and Lead Vocals
RICK PARFITT - Bass and Lead Vocals

The outer card-wrap/slipcase gives this reissue a classy feel and the 8-squares-per-side foldout inlay is a feast of fan memorabilia that is in itself bolstered up by superlative and seriously detailed liner notes from DAVE OXLEY. Chief moved on the reissue was JOHN REED who has been behind so many great reissues and is a compiler fans trust and admire. SEAN MAGEE at Masterpiece did the Remasters and there's a special thanks to LIAM MOORE at the BBC for the Sessions.

There's a repro of the 'wolf in sheep's clothing' advert for the UK single of "In My Chair" with the brill "Gerdundula" on the B-side (Pye 7N 17998) - it depicts the ludicrously hard-to-find British picture sleeve for "In My Chair" which they wittily refer to as 'a pretty bag' (I've never seen one in 45 years and sure its £45 price tag in the RC 2018 Price Guide is a tad low).

Even though the bopping "Shy Fly" was considered as a 45 - the album actually produced no singles. But the then non-album 45's for "Down The Dustpipe" and "In My Chair" in March and October of 1970 changed everything for the band - getting them radio play and crucial sales. Written by Australian songsmith Carl Groszmann - apparently the initial demo Quo heard for "Down The Dustpipe" was none other than an uncredited MAN - the Welsh Rock Band. Initially ignored by Radio - Quo toured and pushed the catchy "Dustpipe". Two months later it debuted in May 1970 and eventually crept up to a healthy No. 12 on the British charts. And although the non-album follow-up "In My Chair" only made it to No. 21 (hit the charts in November of 1970) - it signalled 'their sound' - a fabulous slow Boogie Rocker with the boppy and unpronounceable "Gerdundula" on the B-side. Their inclusion as 'Bonus Tracks' on this CD ups the listening ante in a big way (Tracks 11 and 12 are Previously Unreleased).

Album tracks like "Spinning Wheel Blues", "Lakky Lady" and "(April) Spring, Summer And Wednesdays" would be used by Pye to sell a "Best Of" in May 1973 after the band had broken huge with their debut Vertigo album "Piledriver" in December 1972 (afforded the luxury of an eye-catching gatefold sleeve) and the single "Paper Plane" which busted the UK Top Ten in January 1973 by landing at No. 8.

British proto-metal band Steamhammer provided the cover version of "Junior's Wailing" and Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac the slow burner cover of "Lazy Poker Blues" - but the rest are band originals. The other great unsung hero of the band in the early years was songwriter and occasional Harmonica player BOB YOUNG who co-wrote "Spinning Wheel Blues",  "Shy Fly", "(April) Spring, Summer And Wednesdays" and "Need Your Love" with Rossi while Lancaster trumped up two in the shape of "Daughter" and "Is It Really Me/Gotta Go Home". Parfitt co-wrote "Everything" and "Lakky Lady" with Rossi.

An often overlooked part of the mighty Quo's career and yet an album held in real affection by true fans. A wolf in sheep's clothing indeed and the beginning of a classic LP run with those 'From The Makers Of' logos on the back on each album sleeve. Ah them was the days...

Sunday, 23 October 2016

"Geordie Boy: The Anthology" by ALAN PRICE (2002 Sanctuary/Castle Music 2CD Reissue - SIMON MURPHY Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Just For You..." 

This 46-song comprehensive overhaul of ex Animals front man ALAN PRICE brings together a huge swath of his largely forgotten catalogue stretching from early 45s on Decca in August 1965 (as Alan Price Set) - through his singer-songwriter Seventies output on CBS, Warner Brothers, Polydor and Jet Records to finally rest at the CD "A Gigster's Life For Me" on Indigo Records in 1995.

And since its original release in late 2002 (reissued in 2008) – the jam-packed "Geordie Boy: The Anthology" has been deleted and become very pricey ever since. Ex Record Collector writer and musicologist Peter Doggett (who wrote the liner notes) thinks that Price’s output is just as important as his more famous Newcastle compatriot Eric Burdon and his solo stuff - I'm not sure if the aural evidence here confirms that but there's plenty to uphold his enthusiasm. Here are the details for Fatfield's finest (Fatfield, Co Durham that is)...

UK released October 2002 (reissued February 2008) - "Geordie Boy: The Anthology" by ALAN PRICE on Sanctuary/Castle Music CMEDD 384 (Barcode 5050159138425) is a 46-track 2CD Remastered compilation that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (78:45 minutes):
1. Any Day Now (My Wild, Beautiful Bird) - August 1965 UK 7" single on Decca F 12217, A (as Alan Price Set)
2. I Put A Spell On You - March 1966 UK 7" single on Decca F 12367, A (as Alan Price Set)
3. Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo - July 1966 DUTCH 7" single in a Picture Sleeve on Decca F 12442, A (as Alan Price Set)
4. Take Me Home - July 1966 DUTCH 7" single in a Picture Sleeve on Decca F 12442, B (as Alan Price Set, written by AP)
5. Getting Mighty Crowded - on his 1966 UK Debut LP "The Price To Pay" on Decca LK 4839 (Mono only)
6. Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear - February 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12570, A
7. Tickle Me - February 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12570, AA (double A-side)
8. The House That Jack Built - July 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12641, A
9. So Long Dad - on his 1966 UK Debut LP "The Price To Pay" on Decca LK 4839 (Mono only)
10. To Ramona - on his 1966 UK Debut LP "The Price To Pay" on Decca LK 4839 (Mono only)
11. Shame - November 1967 UK 7" single on Decca F 12691, A
12. Don't Stop The Carnival - January 1968 UK 7" single on Decca 12731, A
13. Love Story - July 1968 UK 7" single on Decca 12808, A
14. The Trimdon Grange Explosion - June 1969 UK 7" single on Deram DM 263, A
15. Sunshine And Rain (The Name Of the Game) - May 1970 UK 7" single on Decca F 13017, A
16. Rosetta - March 1971 UK 7" single on CBS Records S 7108, A - and on the 1971 UK LP "Fame & Price Together" on CBS Records S 64392 [with Georgie Fame]
17. Yellow Man - on the 1971 UK LP "Fame & Price Together" on CBS Records S 64392 [with Georgie Fame]
18. That's How Strong My Love Is - on the 1971 UK LP "Fame & Price Together" on CBS Records S 64392 [with Georgie Fame]
19. O Lucky Man! - September 1973 UK 7" single on Warner Brothers K 16266, A - and on the 1973 UK LP "O! Lucky Man! on Warner Brothers K 46227
20. Poor People - November 1973 UK 7" single on Warner Brothers K 16293, A - and on the 1973 UK LP "O! Lucky Man! on Warner Brothers K 46227
21. Jarrow Song - March 1974 UK 7" single on Warner Brothers K 16372, A - and on the June 1974 UK LP "Between Today And Yesterday" on Warner Brothers K 56032
22. Between Today And Yesterday - on the June 1974 UK LP "Between Today And Yesterday" on Warner Brothers K 56032
23. In Times Like These - August 1974 UK 7" single on Warner Brothers K 16452, A - and on the 1974 UK LP "Between Today And Yesterday" on Warner Brothers K 56032
24. Papers - June 1975 UK 7" single on Polydor 2058 613, A - and on the April 1975 UK LP "Metropolitan Man" on Polydor 2442 133
25. The Drinker's Curse - on the April 1975 UK LP "Metropolitan Man" on Polydor 2442 133

Disc 2 (78:25 minutes):
1. Changes - on the December 1975 UK LP "Performing Price" on Polydor 2683 062
2. Goodnight Irene - January 1976 UK 7" single on Polydor 2058 682, A
3. Kiss The Night - October 1976 UK 7" single on Polydor 2058 806, A
4. Glass Mountain - on the October 1976 UK LP "Shouts Across The Street" on Polydor 2383 410
5. I Know When I've Had Enough - on the October 1976 UK LP "Shouts Across The Street" on Polydor 2383 410
6. Shouts Across The Street - on the October 1976 UK LP "Shouts Across The Street" on Polydor 2383 410
7. I've Been Hurt - November 1977 UK 7" single On Jet Records UP 36315, A - and on the January 1977 UK LP "Alan Price" on Jet/United Artists UAS 30133
8. Just For You - April 1978 UK 7" single on Jet Records UP 36358, A - and on the January 1977 UK LP "Alan Price" on Jet/United Artists UAS 30133
9. I'm A Gambler - on the January 1977 UK LP "Alan Price" on Jet/United Artists UAS 30133
10. England, My England - May 1979 UK 7" single on Jet Records JET 143, A - and on the 1978 UK LP "England, My England" on Jet Records DLP 207
11. Baby Of Mine - February 1979 UK 7" single on Jet Records JET 135, A - and on the 1978 UK LP "England, My England" on Jet Records DLP 207
12. Those Tender Lips - on the 1978 UK LP "England, My England" on Jet Records DLP 207
13. The House Of The Rising Sun - April 1980 UK 7" single on Jet Records JET 177, A - and on the 1980 UK LP "Rising Sun" on Jet Records JET LP 227
14. I'm Coming Back - on the 1980 UK LP "Rising Sun" on Jet Records JET LP 227
15. Perfect Lady - on the 1980 UK LP "Rising Sun" on Jet Records JET LP 227
16. Over And Over - on the 1980 UK LP "A Rock 'n' Roll Night At The Royal Court Theatre" on Key Records KEY 1
17. Don't Slam That Door - on the 1986 UK LP "Travellin' Man" on Trojan Records APB 101
18. 50 Pence - on the 1986 UK LP "Travellin' Man" on Trojan Records APB 101
19. People Are Talking - on the 1986 UK LP "Travellin' Man" on Trojan Records APB 101
20. Boom Boom - on the 1995 UK CD album "A Gigster's Life For Me" on Indigo IGOCD 2048
21. Some Change - on the 1995 UK CD album "A Gigster's Life For Me" on Indigo IGOCD 2048

At the time of release I remember thinking how good the Sanctuary compiled CD sets were - and if you want proof of that - the 8-square-per-side foldout insert is a minor work of presentation art. Quite apart from Peter Doggett's superb liner-notes assessment of Price's up-and-down career (someone Doggett feels has been unfairly overlooked) - each and every square on both sides of the foldout page is festooned with pictured memorabilia from the varying periods of his long career - 7" single labels from Decca and Deram - 60ts and 70ts press clippings, reviews and trade adverts and of course all those album sleeves. There are even foreign picture sleeves of "Rosetta" (with his pal Georgie Fame), snaps with Brenda Lee, Lulu and Brian Poole as well as a repro of the rare "A Price On His Head" Decca LP from 1967 that you never see. Compiled by ROGER DOPSON for Castle Music and 'Sound Restored' by SIMON MURPHY at SRT Studios in St. Ives - the whole set reeks of class and has wickedly good audio too (given the myriad sources). Let's get the music...

The opening 7" single is awful pap and to add insult to injury - the audio sounds like some poor Reggae 45 recorded in a bucket. Things improve immeasurably with the very-Animals cover of the Screaming Jay Hawkins classic "I Put A Spell On You" - Price digging into great material as that lone organ whines in the background. I can't be certain but I'd swear the chipper Dutch single "Hi Lili, Hi Lo" and its non-album Alan Price penned flipside "Take Me Home" are both in Stereo (the flip could easily be a Mod dancer). Next up Price has a go at Betty Evertt's "Getting Mighty Crowded" - a wickedly good talcum-powder dancer on Vee Jay Records 628 from late 1964 penned by a young Van McCoy (one of the jewels on here no doubt). Randy Newman's witty "Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear" has always been grit for the cool covers mill - and Price does a great job at capturing its vaudeville charms (a No. 4 chart hit in 1964). Even better is "Tickle Me" - another Newman track on this 1967 Double-A (is that Page on guitar?) and he returns to the American songsmith for "So Long Dad" on the debut LP. The lyrics and melody to his "The House That Jack Built" show why Price was so drawn to Newman songs - they share the same wit and cleverness with a melody and set of words (another No. 4 chart hit).

With "To Ramona" Price's inner singer-songwriter is truly awakened - as I'm sure Bob Dylan songs did for so many. With just him and the piano - it's a sweet and well-chosen performance. His own bopper "Shame" is a stab at chart action while he's probably copying Nilsson a little too much in his piano and vocal phrasing for Randy Newman's acidic "Love Story" - or is it the other way around. "The Trimdon Grange Explosion" represented a new start with the weird and wonderful Deram label - the song laden with banks of brass, strings and organ all competing for your ears (the Remaster sounds great). We reach a genuine hit with "Rosetta" in the early Seventies - a successful pairing on single and LP with his pal Georgie Fame. The pair go after Randy Newman again with Newman's typically clever take on just how ripped-off Indian culture was and still is in "Yellow Man". A change to Warner Brothers brought on a renaissance - especially in his LPs. "O Lucky Man!" sounds great while "Poor People" again reflects his likely-lad upbringing - thoughts on the plights of the hard-pressed 'working man' who has to smile while he's 'making it'. An unlikely hit - "Jarrow Song" put his tale of Geordie McIntyre into the charts - the 4:36 minute edit peaking at an impressive No. 6 in May 1974 (in fact I remember Pans People doing a dance routine to the historical song on Top Of The Pops). A sophistication crept into his work on the beautifully orchestrated "Between Today And Yesterday" where Price sounded like really good Gilbert O'Sullivan on Mam.

Disc 2 opens with the lovely self-penned "Change" recorded live for the "Performing Price" LP that bookended a good year for AP – 1975. He sounds almost gaunt on the Leadbelly classic "Goodnight Irene" and "Glass Mountain" has both wicked keyboard moments and production values. His own "Shouts Across The Street" is so Randy Newman as to be embarrassing but its also a cool little 'trick-or-treat' song with smart lyrics. The utterly delightful "Just For You" saw him back in the British charts for a brief brush with a No. 46 placing (I recall Jet Records put it on a heart-shaped picture disc - yikes). "I'm A Gambler" is a guitar-bopper where our hero keeps on taking too many chances - a gentleman of fortune laying it on the line a little too much. "England, My England" and "Baby Of Mine" show his fast vs. ballad combo to great effect (and lovely production too). Of the later material I'm partial to the old-time barroom slobber of "Don't Slam The Door" while his cover of Hooker's "Boom Boom' returns to his first love - American Rhythm 'n' Blues.

"Geordie Boy..." is not all genius by any stretch of the imagination but the compilers are right to be proud of their 'anthology' which seems to have changed artwork during its run too both front and rear (see my photos of the original below). Huge playing times on both CDs - great annotation and audio - fans needs to own this... 

Friday, 21 October 2016

"Fleetwood Mac" by FLEETWOOD MAC (2004 Reprise 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Seasons Of My Life..."

LP titles like "Kiln House", "Heroes Are Hard To Find" and "Bare Trees" aren’t exactly household names - unlike the mega-group Fleetwood Mac.

With Peter Green's departure in 1969 for a solo career from the early Bluesy incarnation of the British Super Group – 1970 to 1974 proved a lean time for the Mac. But when American songwriters/lovers Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined forces with Brits Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood – magic was in the air. Their 1975 self-titled album "Fleetwood Mac" introduced a smoother more radio-friendly sound and a new beginning and by 1977's "Rumours" would make them one of the biggest bands on the planet. Here are the landslides...

UK released March 2004 – "Fleetwood Mac" by FLEETWOOD MAC on Reprise 8122-73881-2 (Barcode 081227388126) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster that comes with Five Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (62:25 minutes):

1. Monday Morning
2. Warm Ways
3. Blue Letter
4. Rhiannon
5. Over My Head
6. Crystal
7. Say You Love Me [Side 2]
8. Landslide
9. World Turning
10. Sugar Daddy
11. I'm So Afraid
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Fleetwood Mac" – released August 1975 in the UK on Reprise K 54043 and in the USA on Reprise MS 2281. Produced by Fleetwood Mac and KEITH OLSEN.

12. Jam No. 2
13. Say You Love Me (Single Version)
14. Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win) (Single Version)
15. Over My Head (Single Version)
16. Blue Letter (Single Version)

Recorded across three months at Sound City Studios in California – Producer Keith Olsen had no fears about material with three songwriters in the band – Christine McVie, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. In fact it was Olsen who was a principal mover for the mega-band when he played Mick Fleetwood a track from the "Buckingham-Nicks" debut album on Polydor in 1973 to demonstrate the studios great sound quality. Mick Fleetwood immediately heard that Lindsey guitar and then Stevie's haunting vocal phrasing and knew these guys were the 'fresh blood' his band needed.

The chunky 20-page booklet is a pleasingly fact-filled affair with loads of period photos of the new five-piece line-up (black and white and colour shots including outtakes from the cover shoot with the two men larking about in the doorway), the lyrics in the same type-face as the LP insert and a new set of liner notes by PARKE PUTERBAUGH and a beautiful Remaster from long-time tape engineers for Rhino and WEA - BILL INGLOT and DAN HERSCH. 

Reprise Records chose the gorgeous sexy groove of Christine McVie's "Over My Head" as their lead off 45 in September 1975 with Lindsey's "I'm So Afraid" on the B-side. It was a smart move – the remixed Reprise RPS-1339 (different to the album cut) hit Top 20 in the USA and suddenly old and new American fans were listening to Fleetwood Mac again (Lindsey's trademark guitar harmonics bolstering the song's impact). But it Stevie's mesmerising "Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)" that really caught the public's ear – giving the band their first decent hit in February 1976 by making No. 11 on the Pop Charts (Christine McVie’s chipper "Sugar Daddy" was the flipside) and a song that stamped their new 'sound'.

The album was huge in the USA hitting the coveted No. 1 spot – but it would take until November 1976 for the LP to seize any real chart action in their own Blighty where it crawled up to No. 23 almost a year after its release. And that only happened after Reprise hammered the UK market with an unprecedented four new Mac singles – waking the public up to the quality of the new record - "Warm Ways" in October 1975 (Reprise K 14403), "Over My Head" in February 1976 (Reprise K 14413), "Rhiannon" in April 1976 (Reprise K 14430) and "Say You Love Me" in September 1976 (Reprise K 14447). It was the last "Say You Love Me" that finally cracked the UK charts - albeit a modest 7" hit at No. 44. 

Re-listening to it now and apart from the more famous singles - you’re taken by the album cuts too – the great Buckingham/Nicks duet vocals of "Crystal" – the opening bopper "Monday Morning" – the Acoustic Blues chug of the fantastic "World Turning" (similar to "Big Love") and best of all – the heart-breaking ballad "Landslide" – quite possibly Stevie Nicks' best song and surely one of her most beautiful melodies (why wasn't this chosen as a 45?).

"...Mirror in the sky...what is love...can the child within my heart rise above..." – Stevie sang longingly on the beautiful "Landslide". In 1977 that voice and journey would take the world by storm. Start your journey here...

PS: there's also an April 2012 180-Grams Remastered VINYL LP on Reprise 530137-1 (Barcode 093624952305)

"Three Man Army [aka "Mahesha"]/Three Man Army Two" by THREE MAN ARMY (2016 Beat Goes On 2LPs on 1CD - Andrew Thompson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Space Is The Place..."

Sandwiched between late 60ts GUN on CBS Records, the early 70ts solo years of PARRISH and GURVITZ on Regal Zonophone and finally 1974's BAKER GURVITZ ARMY with GINGER BAKER on Vertigo is the completely overlooked interim group THREE MAN ARMY featuring the musical link between them all – the dynamic brother-duo of ADRIAN and PAUL CURTIS (or GURVITZ as they became known).

Three Man Army's rather good little debut album "A Third Of A Lifetime" from 1971 on B&C's short-lived offshoot label Pegasus Records has built up a serious rep amongst collectors – and was released in real style by England's Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red) in July 2016 (see separate review).

Lovers of Classic Seventies Rock (especially hard-rocking bands like Montrose and Grand Funk Railroad) will be glad to see their following two platters on Reprise Records on CD again – the American issued "Three Man Army" [aka "Mahesha"] from 1973 and "Three Man Army Two" from 1974 - even if they aren't as immediate as the debut. Let's get to those big chunky chords...

UK released September 2016 (October 2016 in the USA) - "Three Man Army/Three Man Army Two” by THREE MAN ARMY on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1256 (Barcode 5017261212566) features 2 full albums Remastered onto 1CD with an added Bonus Track and plays out as follows (76:18 minutes):

1. My Yiddishe Mama
2. Hold On
3. Come On Down To Earth
4. Take Me Down From The Mountain
5. Woman
6. Mahesha [Side 2]
7. Take A Look At The Light
8. Can't Leave The Summer - Part I & II
9. The Trip
Tracks 1 to 9 are their second studio album "Three Man Army" - released October 1973 in the USA on Reprise MS 2150 (No UK Issue). It was issued in Germany in 1974 on Polydor 2310 241 as "Mahesha" with different artwork and has been reissued under that title on LP and CD since then.

10. Polecat Woman
11. Today
12. Flying
13. Space Is The Place
14. Irving [Side 2]
15. I Can't Make The Blind See
16. Burning Angel
17. In My Eyes
Tracks 10 to 17 are their third studio album "Three Man Army Two" - released June 1974 in the USA on Reprise MS 2182 and in the UK on Reprise K 54015.

18. Schoolgirl Queen - non-album track and the B-side to "Polecat Woman" in certain European territories (Portugal, Warner Brothers N-S-63-59). The 1973 UK 7" single of "Polecat Woman" on Reprise K 14292 had "Take Me Down From The Mountain" from the 1973 "Three Man Army" LP as its B-side.

PAUL GURVITZ - Bass Guitar and Vocals - TONY NEWMAN - Drums and Good Vibes - ADRIAN GURVITZ - Lead Guitar, Organ and Vocals

The card slipcase adds a touch of class to the reissue (as it does to all BGO releases) - the 12-page booklet features new liner notes from noted writer NEIL DANIELS who gamely tries to defend what some have described as sub Led Zeppelin Hard Rock while ANDREW THOMPSON has remastered both albums into High Def from real tapes and they sound huge and very powerful. Obvious comparisons like the no-prisoners hard rocking Rock 'n' Roll of Grand Funk Railroad and Montrose jump to mind - even early Blue Oyster Cult and Kansas.

Even if he has Jewish roots - the guitar instrumental cover of "My Yiddishe Mama" fades in and goes out again without any real impact. But things improve big time with the hard-rocking "Hold On" and the Kansas melodic "Come On Down To Earth" where Gurvitz lets rip on a hundred guitars like he's Ted Nugent on acid (the Remaster is huge). "Take Me Down From The Mountain" provides a rare moment of Three Dog Night Funk-Rock with a clever piano chug while "Woman" sounds like TMA are trying to channel their inner FREE and just about pulling it off. Side 2's "Mahehsa" has a lot going on in it - but again feels tired and even plodding despite its best efforts. At least "Take A Look At The Light" features great guitar work and a half-decent 'bickering' set of lyrics and verse melody. "Can't Leave The Summer - Part I & II" have nice melodic touches too amidst the huge riffage...

"Polecat Woman" reeks of Led Zeppelin circa "Houses Of The Holy" - a sort of cross between "Immigrant Song" and "Over The HIlls And Far Away" - all rapid guitars and slightly distant production. I can hear why someone thought it a 7" single even with that Bonzo copycat drum solo. The power ballad "Space Is The Place" even features strings in its 'ripe' six minutes - coming on like an over-zealous ELO. "I Can't Make The Blind See" is afflicted with the same syrup strings - and even though it has one of the prettiest bluesy melodies on the album - it's ruined by the overdone production. "In My Eyes" has a clever riff even when the wall of band voices threaten to swamp everything.

Neither album is great and despite the playing and the occasional moments of Hard Rock brilliance - these will be an 'acquired taste'. But fans should not hesitate - the presentation and audio is first rate...

Thursday, 13 October 2016

"In My Life/Wildflowers/Whales & Nightingales" by JUDY COLLINS (2016 Beat Goes On Reissue - 3LPs onto 2CDs - Andrew Thompson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...There Are Places I Remember...With Lovers And Friends..."

I'm not quite sure what's going on with the presentation of this gorgeous 2CD reissue out of the UK (August 2016 on Beat Goes On) – but it seems to have disappeared down the numerical rabbit hole that is the Amazon sales system.

If I type in the Barcode for BGOCD 1243 into their search bar (5017261212436) – it should bring me immediately to this new August 2016 reissue (3LPs Remastered in High Definition onto 2CDs from original tapes) – but instead I’m taken to the original American issue of "In My Life" as a stand-alone Rhino CD in the late 1990s? And that applies to both Amazon UK and USA sites? I've dropped them a note to sort this out – because as it stands – you can't actually find this beautiful Beat Goes On set on either side of the pond - which does both this superb reissue label and the gorgeous music presented here a massive disservice. Anyway – here are the wild flowers and the sublime nightingales...

UK and US released August 2016 – "In My Life/Wildflowers/Whales & Nightingales" by JUDY COLLINS on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1243 (Barcode 5017261212436) offers 3LPs from 1966, 1968 and 1970 on Elektra Records Remastered in High Definition onto 2CDs from original tapes and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (48:16 minutes):
1. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
2. Hard Lovin' Loser
3. Pirate Jenny
4. Suzanne
5. La Colombe - The Dove
6. Marat/Sade (Homage To Marat: Marat We're Poor, People's Reaction, Poor Old Marat) - Side 2
7. I Think It's Going To Rain Today
8. Sunny Goodge Street
9. Liverpool Lullaby
10. Dress Rehearsal Rag
11. In My Life
Tracks 1 to 11 are her sixth album (fifth studio) "In My Life" - released December 1966 in the USA on Elektra Records EKL-320 (Mono) and Elektra EKS-7320 (Stereo) - the Stereo mix is used. Arranged by JOSHUA RIFKIN and Produced by MARK ABRAHAMSON - it peaked at No. 46 on the US LP charts.

Disc 2 (78:17 minutes):
1. Michael From Mountains
2. Since You Asked
3. Sisters Of Mercy
4. Priests
5. A Ballata Of Francesco Landini (Lasso! Di Donna)
6. Both Sides Now - Side 2
7. La Chanson Des Vieux Amants (The Song Of Old Lovers)
8. Sky Fell
9. Albatross
10. Hey, That's No Way To Say Goodbye
Tracks 1 to 10 are her seventh album "Wildflowers" - released January 1968 in the USA on Elektra EKL-4001 (Mono) and Elektra EKS-74001 (Stereo) - the Stereo Mix is used. Arranged by JOSHUA RIFKIN and Produced by MARK ABRAHAMSON - it peaked at No. 5 on the US LP charts.

11. Song For David
12. Sons Of
13. The Patriot Game
14. Prothalamium
15. Oh, Had I A Golden Thread
16. Gene's Song
17. Farewell To Tarwathie
18. Time Passes Slowly
19. Marieke
20. Nightingale I
21. Nightingale II
22. Simple Gifts
23. Amazing Grace
Tracks 11 to 23 are her 9th album "Whales & Nightingales" - released November 1970 in the USA on Elektra EKS-75010 and January 1971 in the UK on Elektra K 42059. Arranged by JOHN HAENY and Produced by MARK ABRAHAMSON - it peaked at No. 17 on the US LP charts and No. 37 in the UK (her first chart LP in Britain).

The card slipcase adds a classy feel to all BGO releases and the 16-page booklet features superbly detailed JOHN O’REGAN liner notes rapping affectionate about the three platters in question and her near 50-album career (the text is peppered with black and white period photos as well as album and reissue credits). Regan is right to highlight "In My Life" as a kind of Folk-Rock watershed album in late 1966. In fact when I listen to Bryan Ferry’s cover of "Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues" on his superb 2007 covers project "Dylanesque" – it’s Judy’s slowed down cover version he draws from rather than the Bobster’s original. But the big news here is new 2016 Remasters by ANDREW THOMPSON from original tapes that sound glorious to say the least - those Elektra tapes in seriously good shape. This is a beautiful sounding reissue and BGO is clearly aware of it pronouncing it 'Mastered In High Definition - Audiophile Recording From The Original Masters'. Indeed...

Beautifully Arranged by Joshua Rifkin and Produced by Mark Abrahamson – Judy's sixth album "In My Life" saw Colorado's finest finally leave behind the pure unadorned Folk of her earlier releases on Elektra Records and fully embrace one of the most pleasing of all Sixties sounds – Folk Rock. The eleven cover versions offered here stretch across a gamut of genres and reveal smart choices on the part of a beautiful and clued-in soul – Richard Farina's ho-daddy-haircut-spoonful-of-fun clavinet-manic "Hard Lovin' Loser", Donovan's violent hash smokers in the London hippy-chic "Sunny Goodge Street", Dylan's witty and acidic "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" stripped down to Flute and Voice, Randy Newman's achingly sad "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today" and a double-whammy from the King of Cheer – both Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" and "Dress Rehearsal Rag" made prettier by acoustic guitars, Judy’s soaring voice and heroes in the seaweed (her album helped launch his career). Alongside these contemporary American and British singer-songwriters sit the European 'Gauloises' cool of the ship-girls in Berholt Brecht's "Pirate Jenny", Jacques Brel's "La Colombe – The Dove" and a homage to the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat by the Marquis de Sade from the adapted German screenplay of 1963 (1966 string-up-the-aristocrats music by Richard Peaslee).

You can also chuck into that stew the Traditional sea-shanty mucky kid of "Liverpool Lullaby" – but a genuine standout has to be the titular Folk-Soul of The Beatles "In My Life". Of all the millions of Fab covers tapping their staggering catalogue – this is surely one of the most affecting – simple and beautiful and making you reminisce about those 'lovers and friends' lyrics. This is a whole album of eclectic period choices sided by songs of warmth and broken humanity that somehow all gel as one coherent whole. In fact as Hippy-Folk as the album is in places - "In My Life" still stands up and you can’t help but feel is an overlooked gem that shouldn't be. And BGO's Andrew Thompson has transferred these wonderful adaptations with skill and warmth...

Disc 2 gives us two whole albums onto 1 CD - the follow-up LP from January 1968 "Wildflowers" (her sixth release) and a jump to January 1971 for her 9th vinyl outing "Whales & Nightingales". 1971's "Whales & Nightingales" contains the global smash "Amazing Grace" – an exquisitely delicate rendition of the hymn and peace anthem – a song that finally charted Judy Collins everywhere else in the world other than just her native USA.

"Wildflowers" opens with one of a Joni Mitchell double - "Michael From Mountains" which would turn up on her 1968 debut and the Side 2 opener "Both Sides Now" which Joni would eventually air on 1969's "Clouds". Both are so damn good and you can literally feel the songwriting magic emanate from their pores. Gasbag Leonard Cohen once again proves to be the perfect foil for Judy's voice and style - both "Sisters Of Mercy" and "Priests" swirling with plucked harps, tubas and carefully chosen double-bass notes (beautifully clear Remasters on these). I can live without the French baroque of "Lasso! Di Donna" but I welcome the commercial harpsichord pop of "Both Sides Now" - a No. 8 placing on 7" single in the USA in October 1968 (Elektra 45639). We return to cello melancholy with Brel's "La Chanson Des Vieux Amants" and two of her own - the heavily orchestrated "Sky Fell" and "Albatross" - both very Joni-delicate. It ends on yet another Leonard Cohen bedroom tale of lost 'love in the morning' - Judy smartly hooking into his uncanny ability to pen melodies that linger in your heart and brain.

"Whales & Nightingales" follows the same form - opening with the acoustic 'waiting by the stony gate' pleading of Joan Baez's "Song For David" that is followed by the piano waltz Jacques Brel's 'child of no complaint' "Sons Of". Brother of the well-known Irish playwright Brendan Behan - his brother Dominic penned "The Patriot Game" - a warning song to young Irishmen considering a career in the ranks of the Republicans. Avant Garde writers Aaron Kramer and Michael Sahl penned the weird-sounding "Prothalamium" where people prepare for the relentless spring by sweeping out the shadows of seasons past (all the mute birds shall sing). Folky Pete Seeger provides the album's first genuinely lovely moment - a simple piano cover of his "Oh, Had A Golden Thread" where Judy sings in earnest and admiration of the bravery of women giving birth – their children of the earth - saving us from ourselves.

Arranged and Conducted by Gene Murrow - "Gene's Song" is a Traditional played as a short instrumental on what sounds like a harmonium. This in turn segues into humped-back whale cries as Judy sings Acapella on another Traditional "Farewell To Tarwathie" - her voice floating above recordings of lapping waves and their lonesome sonar cries. Sounds a tad hippy-dip I know - but its amazingly affecting. In fact both her politics and environmental concerns are given air on this album with tracks like this and Behan's ode to Irish pain in "The Patriot Game". Bob Dylan gave her "Time Passes Slowly" - a lovely ballad that got lost on Dylan's "New Morning" album in 1970. Her own 'I' and 'II' versions of "Nightingales" are piano ballads about God not answering prayers - while the Panpipe "Simple Gifts" is a variant of 'The Lord Of The Dance' air. But the album is dominated by her ethereal rendition of the hymn "Amazing Grace" - her voice soaring in a cathedral echo - the choir joining her as they both bring the ache to a crescendo. I remember the song's impact at the time - people would cry – almost like she’d touched upon a real social longing in those years of chaos and upheaval - and somehow given it a name. I suspect all great conduit songs are like this...

Always a class act but never given the credit she's due - Stephen Stills would pen "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" for her on the 1969 "Crosby, Stills & Nash" debut masterpiece on Atlantic Records. Based on the varied and moving music presented here - Stevie's reaction to Judy Collins doesn't surprise me a jot...

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

"Free" by FREE feat Paul Rodgers, Paul Kossoff, Andy Fraser and Simon Kirke (September 2016 Island Remasters 1CD Reissue – Andy Pearce/Matt Wortham Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"... Songs Of Yesterday..."

In only a matter of months platter number 2 for FREE improved on the rough edges of March 1969’s "Ton Of Sobs" debut in almost every way (they were getting there fast). But it's another decade - so we get another version with yet another sound – and despite some niggling presentation flaws - like all the other titles in this new round – what a barnstormer this 2016 reissue is.

FREE fans will know that the October 2001 and February 2002 CD reissue campaign of all seven of their albums (six studio and one live) came with great Peter Mew remasters, decent bonus tracks and expanded booklets to match - and were mid-price at the time (there has been a Japanese SHM-CD variant since in mini-LP repro artwork).

But here we are in September 2016 with another CD reissue campaign of all seven albums accompanied by an eighth - the "The Free Story" compilation (a 2LP set onto 1CD). Unfortunately these new 2016 single-disc versions strip away those brilliant bonuses entirely and unwisely substitute the hugely informative liner notes of the 2001 and 2002 issues for booklets with only band photos. Essentially for Free's self-titled second album "Free" we're back to a straightforward transfer of the 9-track 1969 LP as is. But is another purchase necessary? I'd argue its 'essential'.

Despite the neutering of bonuses and the information-less booklet – this new 2016 reissue offers us one genuinely worthy consolation prize – a new 2016 ANDY PEARCE and an uncredited MATT WORTHAM Remaster that breathes wonderful naturalistic vitality back into the album. On buying and reviewing the underrated "Highway", "Free At Last" and "Heartbreaker" CDs in this 2016 reissue cluster and loving their audio – I splashed out on more and the results are equally magical. Also with most of the eight being offered on Amazon at less than five pounds including P&P – you can of course argue that the price is right - and with their generic 'Island Remasters' see-through side panelling on the jewel case – they look good too. Here are the songs of yesterday...

UK released Friday, 9 September 2016 - "Free" by FREE on Universal/Island Remasters 473 187-1 (Barcode 602547318718) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 9-track 1969 UK LP and plays out as follows (35:36 minutes):

1. I'll Be Creepin'
2. Songs Of Yesterday
3. Lying In The Sunshine
4. Trouble On Double Time
5. Mouthful Of Grass
6. Woman [Side 2]
7. Free Me
8. Broad Daylight
9. Mourning Sad Morning
Tracks 1 to 9 are their second studio album "Free" - released October 1969 in the UK on Island Records ILPS 9104 and November 1969 in the USA on A&M Records SP-4204. Produced by CHRIS BLACKWELL - it peaked at No. 22 on the UK LP charts (didn't chart in the USA).

The ten missing bonus tracks on the October 2001 Island Remasters IMCD 282 (Barcode 731458622529) version are: "Broad Daylight (Single Version)", "The Worm (Single Version)", "I'll Be Creepin' (Single Version)", "Sugar For Mr. Morrison (Single Version)", "Broad Daylight (BBC Session)", "Songs Of Yesterday (BBC Session)", "Mouthful Of Grass (Solo Version)", "Woman (Alternate Version)", "Trouble On Double Time (Alternate Version)" and "Mourning Sad Morning (Alternate Version". As you can see from this list of ten missing extras (including those tasty non-album B-sides "The Worm" and "Sugar For Mr. Morrison" - your loss is considerable – most of these bonus tracks adding huge punch to the overall vibe of the 2001 reissue (the Paul Kossoff and Paul Rodgers photo spines on the jewel cases are gone too).

The new booklet is 12-pages and shows a Trident Studios Tape Box photo of 'Songs Of Yesterday' and 'Free Me' on Page 2 (dated 11 June 1969) as well as the black and whites of the band - Fraser and Kirke at the piano and organ, Rodgers singing into a mike, Koss sat down with his guitar- alongside the 'naked girl on the beach with cube photos of the band' shot that adorned the inner gatefold sleeve of the original Island/A&M Records LP. The ‘legs akimbo lady’ front cover is Page 1 and the rear sleeve with track titles and recording details moved to the rear inlay of the CD. As with the new booklet for the "Tons Of Sobs" reissue - you're also struck by how our heroes looked so much older than their young ages belied (Bassist Andy Fraser had only just turned 16 while axeman Paul Kossoff was on the cusp of 18 when they recorded the album). Beneath the see-through CD tray are pictures of the seven reissued albums with the eighth being "The Free Story" double-album compilation from 1974 (for catalogue numbers see notes below) and the CD label repro's the UK Pink 'I' Label design of Island Records in late 1969 (there are no liner notes giving history, details etc.).

But a fabulous new master from ANDY PEARCE and an uncredited MATT WORTHAM – who did such great work on Donovan, Pentangle, Frankie Miller, Thin Lizzy, Wishbone Ash, the 2012 Rory Gallagher CD remasters of his Polydor and Chrysalis catalogue - and most recently the 2016 Budgie 3CD Box Set for their MCA LPs and the new 2016 'Deluxe Editions' of the Emerson, Lake & Palmer Island Records catalogue (see reviews for them all) - resoundingly compensates for all of that distasteful compromise.

I've had the October 2001 single-disc Remaster and the 2008 Japanese SHM-CD reissues for years now – both of which rock – but this new September 2016 single-disc version is an entirely different aural beast. There's suddenly staggering naturality and presence to the whole LP (just like the other albums in this series). Pearce and Wortham let things breathe (it's a trademark of their work) and the results are powerful to say the least. Their version is muscular and meaty. This is not loudness for loudness sake – not shrill so to speak – just in your face – huge power and presence - like an original tape should be. On to the music...

Reputedly to be called "Desolation Angels" - the band settled for the simpler self titled moniker and were rewarded with a very healthy chart position of No. 22 in the UK (Bad Co. would use the name "Desolation Angels" in 1978 on their Swan Song LP). Rodgers and Fraser had become the principal songwriters and the improvement in their talents over the patchy debut is immense (they co-penned every song except "Trouble On Double Time" which was a band composition). "I'll Be Creepin'" opens proceedings with a swagger that's undeniably Free - that wicked swing they got - Fraser's Bass and Kirke's Drums anchoring Rodgers and Kossoff as they promise "...I'll hold you in my arms..." The Free Box Set of 2002 took its name from "Songs Of Yesterday" - another winner. But the album takes flight for me with the sheer musicality of "Lying in The Sunshine". Most rock bands can pull out a great riff - but can they get you with an undeniably great ballad - Zeppelin had it - and so did Free. The Acoustic guitar is so clear as is that Kirke shuffle on the drums. When Island put out "The Stealer" as a UK 45 in November 1970 to promote the "Highway" LP - they slapped the smoocher "Lying In The Sunshine" on the B-side. But then Side 1 launches into the stratosphere - the stunning boogie of "Trouble On Double Time" and the 'Albatross' inspired instrumental "Mouthful Of Grass" (used in May of the following year as the B-side to the edit of "All Right Now"). I love this double-whammy - Rock and Soul sat comfortably alongside each other - and the remaster here is glorious on both.

Side 2 returns to the business of tight-trousered Rock with "Woman" - a superb guitar hook that's immediately joined by the band sounding tight and looking for a scrap with your sub-woofers. "Free Me" is almost doomy Sabbath Blues - but what gets me is the Audio which is so clear and powerful as Rodgers sings of " without you...there's no tomorrow..." Island tried a version of "Broad Daylight" as Free's debut UK 45 (Island WIP 6054) but it sank without a trace despite sporting a non-album B-side in "The Worm" (one of the bonus tracks on the 2001 CD reissue). It lacked the killer punch and catchiness of "Woman" or even "Trouble On Double Time". The album ends on another slow misery chant - Rodgers singing "...think of me sometimes my love..." as a chorus of voices echo his pain (I think its Sue Armstrong who provides the female voice and I don't know whose playing the flute). I love this album and I've felt "Free" the measure of its more famous follow-up "Fire And Water".

Across the seven new 2016 reissues we probably loose thirty to thirty-five genuinely cool bonus tracks of old and all that enlightening info in the booklets too - so buying their catalogue yet again may become a chore for some fans (that Guy Stevens Blues jam is fabulous). But they’re cheap at a fiver and we do gain fabulous new audio - and for many that's probably going to be the deciding factor.

"Free" was a monster step forward for the band from the promise so evident on the "Tons Of Sobs" debut released only months earlier in 1969. They would of course go on to become proper Rock Stars with album number three in June 1970 - "Fire And Water" with the all-conquering "All Right Now" amidst its many pleasures.

If you've any love for the band - you need this new version. And yet how good is it to hear FREE and this 1969 vinyl rarity sound so awesome again after all these decades...

PS: FREE titles in the 9 Sept 2016 Island Remasters CD Reissue Series are:
1. Tons Of Sobs (March 1969 debut UK LP) - Island Remasters 473 181-5 (Barcode 602547318152)
2. Free (October 1969 UK LP) - Island Remasters 473 187-1 (Barcode 602547318718)
3. Fire And Water (June 1970 UK LP) - Island Remasters 473 187-4 (Barcode 602547318749)
4. Highway (December 1970 UK LP) - Island Remasters 473 181-9 (Barcode 602547318190)
5. Free Live! (June 1971 UK LP) - Island Remasters 473 187-6 (Barcode 602547318763)
6. Free At Last (June 1972 UK LP) - Island Remasters 473 183-9 (Barcode 602547318398)
7. Heartbreaker (January 1973 UK Final Studio LP) - Island Remasters 473 182-6 (Barcode 602547318268)
8. The Free Story (March 1974 UK 2LP Compilation) - Island Remasters 472 262-9 (Barcode 602547326294)

There is also a VINYL Box Set "FREE - The Vinyl Collection" on Universal/Island 473 187-9 released 9 September 2016 with seven LPs (Barcode 0602547318794)

PPS: Amazon have typically lumped the 2001 and 2016 issues into the same review and it would appear - the same product entry – even though they've two distinct barcodes and prices. Even if you use the correct Barcode 602547318718 for the 2016 single-disc reissue it will bring you to the 2001 reissue that Amazon lists 'with' bonus tracks. So if you're specifically after the 2016 reissue with its different remaster (or the 2001 release) - ask the supplier you're buying from what version it is they're selling. If you’re just buying the Amazon Store issue for £4.99 – it will always be the 2016 9-Track remaster you receive minus any bonuses...

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