Saturday, 13 February 2016

"Odyssey & Oracle" by THE ZOMBIES (1998 Ace/Big Beat Mono & Stereo Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Time Of The Season..."

Talk about iconic. The word 'masterpiece' gets bandied about a lot in this malarkey we call reviewing – but in the case of this 1968 UK period piece which only charted belatedly in the USA on the back of a hit single – the smiles of affection at the mere sight of Terry Quick's wonderful Psych sleeve for "Odyssey & Oracle" by The Zombies is truly warranted. Like Love's "Forever Changes or Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" (see reviews) – "Odyssey & Oracle" seems to throw up new discoveries every time you return to its pretty layers. It’s time for those seasons...

UK released April 1998 – "Odyssey & Oracle" by THE ZOMBIES on Ace/Big Beat CDWIKM 181 (Barcode 029667418126) is an 'Expanded Edition' offering both the MONO and STEREO versions of the 1968 LP on CD along with 3 alternate versions and rarities from the period. It plays out as follows (79:56 minutes):

1. Care Of Cell 44
2. A Rose For Emily
3. Maybe After He's Gone
4. Beechwood Park
5. Brief Candles
6. Hung Up On A Dream
7. Changes [Side 2]
8. I Want Her She Wants Me
9. This Will Be Our Year
10. Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914)
11. Friends Of Mine
12. Time Of The Season
Tracks 1 to 12 are the STEREO version of the album "Odyssey & Oracle" – released April 1968 in the UK on CBS Records S BPG 63280 and November 1968 in the USA on Date Records TES 4013. The album was reissued February 1969 in the USA after "Time Of The Season" became a huge hit and rose to No. 3 on the Pop charts. The new cover art mentions the song name on the sleeve (as opposed to the 1968 version that didn’t) and charted March 1969 – peaking at No. 95. The LP didn’t chart in the UK despite favourable reviews. ROD ARGENT wrote Tracks 1, 2, 6, 8, and 12 – CHRIS WHITE wrote Tracks 3, 4, 7, 9, 10 and 11.
(Note: Track 9, "This Will Be Our Year" is only available in Mono).

Tracks 13 to 24 are as above but in MONO – CBS Records BPG 63280 (UK only).

BONUS TRACKS (All Stereo and Previously Unreleased):
25. A Rose For Emily (Alternate Version 2)
26. Time Of The Season (Alternate Mix)
27. Prison Song aka Care Of Cell 44 (Backing Track)

CBS Records in the UK and COLUMBIA and DATE Records in the USA released several 7" singles around the album. Using the Mono mixes - fans can sequence almost all of them as follows (23 = Track Number):
1. Friends Of Mine (23) b/w Beechwood Park (16)
UK, CBS Records 2960 – released 23 October 1967
USA – Not issued

2. Care Of Cell 44 (13) b/w Maybe After He's Gone (15)
UK, CBS Records 3087 – released 24 November 1967
USA, Columbia Records 4-44363 – released 21 November 1967
Note: UK and USA 7" singles are edits on the A-side – 3:17 to 3:56 minutes

3. Butcher's Tale (Western Front 1914) (22) b/w This Will Be Our Year (21)
USA, Date 2-1612 (Promos in Titled Sleeve, Released June 1968)

4. Time Of The Season (24) b/w I’ll Call You Mine (not on this CD) 
UK, CBS Records 3380 (Orange Label), April 1968 – reissued September 1973 with same B-side on Epic S EPC 3380 (Yellow Label)
Time Of The Season (24) b/w Friends Of Mine (23)
USA, Date 2-1628, 1968 – reissued January 1969

The chunky 20-page booklet has perceptive, witty and informative liner notes by noted music historian and major mod fan ALEC PALAO – while the text is peppered with Trade Adverts (Disc and Music Echo), Label Repros (Columbia) and rare Foreign Picture Sleeves as well as the Lyrics (in the last pages). NICK ROBBINS – a long-standing Sound Engineer for Ace and many Reissue labels – has handled the transfers and Remasters and done a bang-up job. Some people prefer the ‘purity’ of the Mono mix – but for me the Stereo is thrilling stuff – all those rhythms and instruments swirling about the place with a real sense of clarity.

The moment "Care Of Cell 44" hits your speakers – you’re struck by a variety of emotions – the great Stereo Audio, the clarity of the instruments and those layered vocals – and of course the uniqueness of Colin Blunstone's voice. In fact with the loveliness of "A Rose For Emily" – the album begins to feel like a British answer to "Pet Sounds" by way of "Sgt. Peppers" – it's more than impressive. But it's the sheer musicality of "Maybe After He's Gone" that blows it out the water for me – a stunner and sounding great here. We get more than a bit Beatles "I Am The Walrus" in terms of the soundscape for the trippy "Beechwood Park" and the pretty piano-led "Brief Candles" by Chris White feels like LOVE at their finest (Rod Argent taking the vocals on the 1st Verse). Side 1 ends with the Mellotron soundscape of "Hung Up On A Dream" – all three alternating the vocals with Blunstone on Lead.

Side 2 opens with the vocally ambitious "Changes" – another ode to strawberry girls walking about in 'buttoned-down clothes' of many colours. Rod Argent sings "I Want Her She Wants Me" – a very cool clavinet-lead pop ditty with a relentlessly upbeat post summer of love vibe. "This Will Be Our Year" was the B-side of "Butcher's Tale" in some territories – the kind of piano melody that sounds so smart now and those " took a long time to come..." lyrics tragic in the face of the band's split having just produced a brilliant LP. Chris White talks of the preacher sleeping at night while my arms won't stop shaking in the soldier's post-war song "Butcher's Tale" – the use of that fairground-sounding organ a genius move. It ends on the double-whammy of "Friends Of Mine" and the brilliant "Time Of The Season" – a song that even now sounds so ridiculously ahead of its time.

A wonderful album and thoroughly deserved of its legendary status – even the Previously Unreleased Backing Track to 'thingy' Take 1' as the engineer calls the song at the beginning of "Care Of Cell 44" sounds musically magical in its raw form. "Odyssey & Oracle" by The Zombies is a 60ts epic and this superb Ace/Big Beat CD reissue does its ongoing musical legacy justice...

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is COOL 1960s MUSIC - an E-Book with over 200 entries and 2000 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

Friday, 12 February 2016

"Quadrophenia" by THE WHO (2011 Universal/Polydor 2CD 'Deluxe Edition' Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Move With The Fashion Or Be An Outcast..."

There's something about double albums. For a starter - simple 2LP logistics demands a least a gatefold sleeve - and if the band has any clout and their record label has half a sales brain – an elaborate chunky booklet can go in there too rammed to the gills with the Godlike deliberations of their hairy-bottomed creators (maybe even a poster boys and other sexy emporia). Besides if a group produces two whole LPs worth of music it suggests the juices are flowing and creativity is at a peak - "The White Album", "Trout Mask Replica", "Tommy", "Exile On Main Street", "Stephen Stills Manassas", "Tales From Topographic Oceans" and "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" to name but a few). And so it was with The Who's second double-album – the much anticipated 'kids are alright' Mod opus "Quadrophenia". To this day my 1973 Track Records original is an object I regularly pet with alarming middle-aged fetishness. Which brings us to this natty 2012 'Deluxe Edition' 2CD Reissue...

UK and USA released November 2011 – "Quadrophenia: Deluxe Edition" by THE WHO on Universal/Polydor 2780503 (Barcode 0602527805030) is a 2CD set with Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (55:48 minutes):
1. I Am The Sea
2. The Real Me
3. Quadrophenia
4. Cut My Hair
5. The Punk And The Godfather
6. I'm One [Side 2]
7. The Dirty Jobs
8. Helpless Dancer
9. Is It In My Head
10. I've Had Enough
11. 5:15 [Side 3]
12. Sea And Sand
13. Drowned

Disc 2 (78:17 minutes):
1. Bell Boy
2. Doctor Jimmy
3. The Rock
4. Love Reign O'er Me
Tracks 1 to 13 and Tracks 1 to 4 are the 4-sides of double-album "Quadrophenia" – released November 1973 on Track Records 2657 013 and in the USA on Track/MCA Records MCA2-10004. It peaked at No. 2 in both the UK and USA. CHRIS STAINTON (of The Grease Band) plays piano on "Dirty Jobs", "5:15" and "Drowned" - all other instrumentation by the Band - Roger Daltrey (Vocals), Pete Townshend (Guitar and Keyboards), John Entwistle (Bass) and Keith Moon (Drums and Percussion).

5. The Real Me (Demo) – recorded October 1972
6. Cut My Hair (Demo) – recorded June 1972
7. Punk (Demo) – recorded November 1972
8. Dirty Jobs (Demo) – recorded July 1972
9. Is It In My Head (Demo) – recorded April 1972
10. Anymore (Demo) – recorded November 1971
11. I've Had Enough (Demo)- recorded December 1972
12. Is It Me? (Demo) – recorded March 1973
13. Doctor Jimmy (Demo) – recorded July 1972
14. Love Reign O'er Me (Demo) – recorded May 1972

A smart move is to have two booklets – the one in the left flap of the gatefold card digipak has the original 22-page booklet that was attached to the centre of the 1973 double-album. All of Ethan Russell's beautifully expressive black and white 'Mod' photography is there – but true fans will notice immediately that some of the photos are sloppily clipped on the right – The Who at The Hammersmith Odeon double-page spread has the neon details clipped out over to the right – but worse is the mods around the stage pages before it where the guy on the far right is gone entirely. The lyrics to Side 1 and 2 that followed the terraced houses and came at the end of the original vinyl booklet have been moved to CD booklet two when it might have been better to keep them as the original was. And while the 2CD digipak and its 5" booklets could never have the sheer 12" x 12" impact of the original vinyl issue – it's still nicely done - and hell even the pictures of the mods in the cafĂ© by the pinball machines seems slightly more defined for some reason. The black and white photos of the Who on the inner flap are period and the photo of the main story character 'Jimmy' on his beloved Vespa motorbike is drop-dead gorgeous. There’s handwritten lyrics, a photo of Pete in the Studio, snaps of master tape boxes beneath the see-through plastic trays. It’s all very tasteful and tactile...

The second booklet contains Pete Townshend's deliberations on the making of the record and its subsequent impact across the decades (1996 Remix CD, DVD release of the film with a Mono soundtrack) and now finally the tapes prepped once again to offset the original limitations of the 1973 vinyl original (especially Daltrey's great vocals). Very cool is the song-by-song notes by PT on the 'Demos' presented for the first time on Disc 2 and Bonus Tracks. They stretch from March 1970 for "Drowned" (done while recording the Thunderclap Newman debut LP) to March 1973 for "Is It Me?" which chronicles the Mods 'Ace Face' and 'Jimmy'.

JON ASTLEY has handled the Remaster at Close To The Edge with the involvement of Pete Townshend. Pete plays all instruments on the Demos and each has been cleaned to almost audiophile quality by a team at Woody Studios in Richmond, London. I have to say that the sonic results for the album are simply a little less bombastic than the 1996 remix of old - and that's a good thing. Overall - the punch and clarity is still up there - if not nearly as spectacular as I had hoped. Biggest improvements I'd say are in the rhythm sections - Bass and Drums - absolutely sweet as...

As the waves crash on the Brighton shore in the opening "I Am The Sea" – the Audio fills your speakers with fabulous clarity – Daltrey's vocal jabs on key lyrics acting as a sort of lead-in overture. But the remaster really takes off with "The Real Me" – Townshend's thrashing guitar to the right – Entwistle's heavy bass strings sounding like he's playing lead guitar - all of it complimented by that fantastic brass section. You're also struck by the power and clarity that surrounds Moon's amazing drumming – rattling and crashing through your speakers all of a sudden on the instrumental "Quadrophenia". And that silver-toned establishment radio announcer (John Curle) on "Cut My Hair" reporting with detachment about 'two leather clad rockers' being chased into a hotel by a gang of 1000 'yuths'.

Side 2's "The Dirty Jobs" and "Helpless Dancer" are the amongst the most politically charged songs on the record – a man who drives a local bus taking miners to work (if the pits are open). And when the stunning "Love Reign O'er Me" prelude turns up at about 1:20 in the six-minute "I've Had Enough" – it still feels extraordinarily moving and even beautiful. The catchy brass/guitar of "5:15" was a genius choice as a single and how could you not love growling-Daltrey sung lyrics like "...out of my brain on the train..." and "...gravely outrageous in my high heel shoes..." And that wonderful opening guitar melody on "Sea And Sand" is so The Who – rocking one moment – soothing the next. The piano/guitar boogie opening of "Drowned" has to be one of many fave tunes on the album – "set me free" Daltrey screams with such passion.

Townshend ornery sense of humour comes shining through on the witty and acidic "Bell Boy" – Daltrey doing his best loony Bob voice as he moans "...always running up someone's bleeding hill...” The eight and half minutes of Doctor Jimmy still test my patience a tad – but I love the end two pieces – the instrumentally adventurous "The Rock" and the sublime melody and hope contained in "Love Reign O'er Me". Mooney's drumming comes roaring through "The Rock" as those riffs build and build and that wicked "Who's Next" keyboard work unfolds (stunning remaster). The forlorn piano notes and falling rain play in the wonderful "Love Reign O'er" – a song that turns up in movies whenever a filmmaker wants to move the audience. Genius...

I have to admit that some of the 'Demos' left me cold – they're interesting for sure but feel like something I'll play once and leave there. The audio on them is awesome it has to be said. For instance his guitar and piano on "Cut My Hair" are incredible and the remaster practically makes the thing kick down your speaker stacks. For me loveliest is the "Love Reign O’er Me" demo because it hasn't got the interfering waves/rain soundtrack in the background – so you just get that gorgeous piano playing – then the song kicks in. It's here that you realise what happens when PT hands the song to the other three – Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon – they add the band magic it needs...

Niggles – the non-album song "Water" – B-side to the UK issue of "5:15" on Track 2094 115 in November 1973 could easily have been fitted onto Disc 1 (kept back for the Single Boxes no doubt) and the American 3:11 minute edit of "Love Reign O'er Me" (A-side in the USA on Track/MCA-40152) is AWOL too. Might have also been nice to feature some of those fantastic foreign picture sleeves for singles around the album on a Deluxe Edition - "Love Reign O'er Me" from Holland or "5:15" from France to name but a few. But apart from those minor gripes – I'm a happy Mod bunny.

More sprawling than the simple balls-to-the-wall brilliance of 1971's "Who's Next" but just as ambitious as 1969's Rock Opera "Tommy" – The Who's "Quadrophenia" is one of those albums you can't really be rational about. Across 4 sides there's filler on there for sure and at times all those 'waves crashing on the shore' interludes/inclusions do your head in – but would we have PT's double masterpiece any other way. I'm off to pet my original again with white gloves and consider buying a Parka at the age of 57. 

And the sight of that crashed Vespa leaning to in the water on the rear cover still gives me the willies...

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 250 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

"Heat Treatment" by GRAHAM PARKER and THE RUMOUR (2001 Mercury 'Expanded' CD Reissue Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...The Flame Is Burning..."

Graham Parker's blistering and caustic debut album "Howlin Wind" caused a stir in music newspapers of the time (April 1976, Vertigo Records). Peopled by increasingly disillusioned lovers of music bored with singles-driven chart-dreck and bombastic side long Prog Rock - "Howlin Wind" was lean and mean and full of hummable tunes – albeit with emotional razor blades in their hooks. The choppy edge of HW even predated the advent of gobby Punk and New Wave by a few months (stylistically too). But despite two decent 7" singles released in support of the critically acclaimed British album – the public seemed not to notice or even care...

Time to try again double quick. So in only October of that musically volatile year (six months after the debut) – Vertigo popped out blinder number two – "Heat Treatment". It featured more tales of boozy anguish in hotel rooms with frisky chambermaids and a search the world over (well mostly in Dagenham) for that special lady. Just as good as the first platter (but perhaps not as immediate) – this superb 2001 CD Remaster seems determined to get us to finally sit up and take notice. And I for one am listening. Here are the Heat Treatments...

UK released July 2001 – "Heat Treatment" by GRAHAM PARKER and THE RUMOUR on Mercury 548 682-2 (Barcode 0731454868228) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with two Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (41:41 minutes):

1. Heat Treatment
2. That's What They All Say
3. Turned Up Too Late
4. Black Honey
5. Hotel Chambermaid
6. Pourin' It All Out [Side 2]
7. Back Door Love
8. Something You're Going Through
9. Help Me Shake It
10. Fool's Gold
Tracks 1 to 10 are his second LP "Heat Treatment" – released October 1976 in the UK on Vertigo 6360 137 and in the USA on Mercury SRM-1 1095

11. Hold Back The Night
12. (Let Me Get) Sweet On You
Tracks 11 and 12 make up Side 1 of a 4-track Extended Play - "The Pink Parker – Hold Back The Night" EP released March 1977 in the UK on Vertigo PARK 001 (A1 and A2). The other two tracks on the B-side were "White Honey" and "Soul Shoes" - both of which were on the preceding "Howlin Wind" album. "Hold Back The Night" is a cover of a TRAMMPS US Soul hit originally on Buddah Records in February 1976 – the other songs are Graham Parker originals with both "Hold Back The Night" and "(Let Me Get) Sweet On You" being exclusive to the EP.

GRAHAM PARKER – Lead Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars
BRINSLEY SCHWARZ – Guitar and Backing Vocals
BOB ANDREWS – Keyboards and Backing Vocals
MARTIN BELMONT – Guitar and Backing Vocals
STEPHEN GOULDING – Drums and Backing Vocals

JOHN EARLE – Saxophones
DANNY ELLIS – Trombone
ALBY DONNELLY – Saxophones

The '25th Anniversary Reissues' sticker on the CD jewel case promises 'Bonus Tracks, New Sleeve Notes & Expanded Artwork'. Once you open the decidedly skimpy three-way foldout inlay – you know that Universal has gone all ASDA budget range on our Graham. There are new paragraphs from the great man alongside some history of the album by NIGEL WILLIAMSON and two single sides as you can see above (they picture "The Pink Parker" EP back and front too). It's good but hardly great – and surely there were outtakes to be had after all these years? But all that budget-priced gripe goes out the boozer window when you hear the muscle and clarity of the Remaster by GARY MOORE...

Like its predecessor "Howlin Wind” there are tracks on "Heat Treatment" that have been in need of a bit of 'oomph' – the bopping title song "Heat Treatment" for starters, the sideways-swipe love song "Hotel Chambermaid" and the magnificent mini-epic longing of "Black Honey" with its superb guitar solo – all  jump to mind. But after a run-through of the whole album -  you’d have to say that the Audio improvement is 'all over'.

The brass and guitar punch of "Heat Treatment" is immediate now – "...the flame is burning..." lyrics rattling your speakers with a punk-in-a-bedsit attitude. His best Elvis Costello sneer pops up for the 'you're a fool' observation that is "That's What They All Say" - sounding really fantastic too. The keyboards, guitars and subtle backing vocals of "Turned Up Too Late" sound incredible – so clear. I've always thought the hurting "Black Honey" one of the album's hidden gems. Just when you were ready to dismiss GP as a bit of a smartarse - he pulls out a song like this that genuinely 'gets to you'. He saunters dangerously close to sentimentality (for him) in "Pourin' It All Out" where he threatens to let go of his emotions and vocal chords - but doesn't. "Back Door" is another song of longing – "..dodged all the turnpikes..." he waxes lyrical about his baby - telling us that she tunes up his Bass and Treble whenever he meets her (nice). "Something You're Going Through" feels like Joe Jackson only two years earlier – that jagged rhythm sounding so "Look Sharp!" Parker then tells us that he's been frettin' and sweatin' and we worry that it's more girl problems in "Help Me Shake It" – while "Fool's Gold" confirms that his search is both ongoing and intensely frustrating (a great song on which to end the album).

In his typically self-deprecating liner notes - Graham Parker reckons that aside from 'a few clunkers' – his 2nd platter "Heat Treatment" deserves reappraisal. Besides - he also reckons things picked up big time on vinyl outing No. 3 - "Stick To Me" in 1977.

The angry Petrol Pump Attendant turned Rock Star is right yet again...on both counts...

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 245 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

"Fully Qualified Survivor" by MICHAEL CHAPMAN (2011 Light In The Attic CD Reissue Of His 1970 LP on Harvest) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Like Jewels In Your Hand…"

Seventies Rock aficionados will no doubt have read gushing reviews telling them to invest their hard-earned in long lost classics - and having been burned a few times before - would view another such review with a certain amount of scepticism. But this is a Light In The Attic Records release - and after 60 peerless reissues of obscurities that truly deserve reappraisal – LITA have done it again. Beautiful presentation, extraordinary sound quality and songs that beggar the question – how the hell did this little gem get lost in the first place? 

MICHAEL CHAPMAN hails from Leeds in England and was 28 when he recorded his second LP "Fully Qualified Survivor" for EMI’s progressive label imprint Harvest. His debut album "Rainmaker" issued in July 1969 was only Harvest’s 5th LP at that time and signalled the arrival of a major Guitar Player and Rock singer-songwriter. 

1. Aviator
2. Naked Ladies And Electric Ragtime 
3. Stranger In The Room
4. Postcards Of Scarborough 
5. Fishbeard Sunset
6. Soulful Lady [Side 2]
7. Rabbit Hills
8. March Rain 
9. Kodak Ghosts 
10. Andru’s Easy Rider
11. Trinkets & Rings

"Fully Qualified Survivor" was released March 1970 on Harvest SHVL 764 in the UK and Capitol/Harvest SW-816 in the USA – and even though it actually charted in the UK at 45 - it’s a rare record on vinyl and UK originals can command upwards of £100. 

This February 2011 CD reissue on Light In The Records LITA 060 (Barcode 0826853006026) is a straightforward transfer of that 1970 album remastered from the 1st generation EMI tapes by NICK ROBBINS at Sound Mastering in London (46:32 minutes). The sound quality is fabulous - clear, warm and full of presence - and fully realises the original quality production values of GUS DUDGEON (of David Bowie and Elton John fame). 

The original gatefold artwork has been retained but upgraded to a lovely silver effect on the card digipak (they’ve also issued it on a beautiful Vinyl Version using the same silver effect artwork – a future collectable). The booklet is an impressive 32-pages long with liner notes by MICK HOUGHTON that feature new interviews with Chapman in 2010. Photos and archive material provided by the artist himself feature black and white snaps of him and the other musicians in the studio, on tour, reproductions of press releases and reviews and so on.

It opens with the epic "Aviator" – a nine and half-minute long acoustic song that has touches of Tim Buckley and Nick Drake in its languid pace. The cello is by Paul Buckmaster and the Violin by Johnny Van Derek. But – and this is a matter of taste – you’re met with his nasally drone of a voice which you will either embrace or loath. It all sounds a bit effected now, but if you give it time, there’s rewards later. Chapman was also a very accomplished guitar player (Bert Jansch, Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn jump to mind) and there follows the first of the album’s three acoustic-instrumentals "Naked Ladies & Electric Ragtime". With his foot tapping in the background, it’s a very pretty ditty and it also emphasises the superlative NICK ROBBINS remaster. The sheer musicality of "Postcards From Scarborough" is shocking – and the strings added by Dudgeon are lovely. "Fishbeard Sunset" is the second instrumental and is a 40-second introduction to a great song - "Soulful Lady". It also heralds a major playing talent – MICK RONSON on Guitar. He crops up again on "Kodak Ghosts" and his contributions are so exciting – rocking like a madman – loose and inspired ("The Man Who Sold The World", "Ziggy" and "Hunky Dory" with Bowie lay ahead). 

Side 2 is far better than Side 1 in my book – giving a run of truly superb tunes. "Rabbit Hills" is my favourite on here – a beautifully realised acoustic song with warm words and a haunting melody that still sounds sweet four decades on (lyrics above). "March Rain" with its Cello, Strings and Acoustic guitar arrangement could be Nick Drake circa "Bryter Layter" – so impressive. Mick Ronson adds lovely electric guitar licks to the treated Chapman acoustic guitars on the mid-tempo "Kodak Ghosts". The fantastically bluesy "Andru's Easy Rider" starts out with him on Piano but then goes into this huge John Fahey 12-string slide-guitar blues-boogie that you wish would overstay its mere two-minute duration. It segues into a funky Tabla and Guitar album finisher called "Trinkets & Rings" which features his trademark nonchalant vocals and electric guitar licks in the background. It’s impressive stuff, it really is…

To sum up - like his fellow Harvest Label mate Roy Harper (and nearest musical comparison), Chapman remains a bit of an unknown even in deep rock circles (Keef Hartley, Bryn Haworth, Mick Greenwood, Judee Sill, Karen Dalton and Fred Neil are others).  But you have to say that this is a smart reissue on the part of Light In The Attic Records in a long line of them (Lou Bond, Kris Kristofferson and Rodriguez come to mind - see reviews) and I’m glad I took a chance on it. I’ve subsequently bought the 2006 remaster of his "Millstone Grit" album from 1973 on Deram and it’s a cracker too. 

In 2015 at the age of 74 - it probably seems slightly odd to Michael Chapman now to be the subject of adoration and rediscovery for Folk/Rock he penned 45-years ago – but better late than never. A top job done boys and a major reissue for 2011…

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 245 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

"Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd" by LYNYRD SKYNYRD (2001 MCA ‘Expanded’ CD – Doug Schwarz Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

“...20 Years Of Rot Gut Whiskey...”

"...Look out glitter kids, a real Rock 'n' Roll band just showed up..." - raved the on-the-money reviewer in America's hip music magazine "Record World" in the late summer of 1973. Southern Rock was up and running (again) – Atlanta style.

Funnily enough - and despite its supposed kick-ass reputation (mostly through the epic Side 2 finisher "Free Bird") – I've always thought of Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album as a more mellow, sexy swagger of a record than an out-and-out rocker – a slightly inebriated good old boy with a bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and a Delta 78" in the other - deeply enamoured with both. And like the utterly brilliant "Second Helping" LP that followed in April 1974 – both have stood the test of old father time rather well my son. Here are the Mississippi Kids...

US released November 2001 (December 2001 in the UK) – "Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd" by LYNYRD SKYNYRD on MCA 088 112 727-2 (Barcode 008811272722) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster and plays out as follows (76:03 minutes):

1. I Ain't The One
2. Tuesday's Gone
3. Gimme Three Steps
4. Simple Man
5. Things Goin' On [Side 2]
6. Mississippi Kid
7. Poison Whiskey
8. Free Bird
Tracks 1 to 8 are their debut album "Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd" – released 13 August 1973 in the USA on MCA/Sounds Of The South MCA-363 and January 1974 in the UK on MCA Records MCG 3502. AL KOOPER produced the album and it peaked at 27 on the US LP charts (didn't chart in the UK).

9. Mr. Banker (Demo) – non-album B-side of the US 7" single "Gimme Three Steps" released 5 November 1973 on MCA Records MCA-40158
10. Down South Junkin' (Demo) - non-album B-side of the US 7" single "Free Bird" released 4 November 1974 on MCA Records MCA-40328
11. Tuesday's Gone (Demo)
12. Gimme Three Steps (Demo)
13. Free Bird (Demo)
Tracks 9 and 10 first appeared on the 1991 MCA 3CD Box Set "The Definitive Lynyrd Skynyrd Collection"
Tracks 11, 12 and 13 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED

GARY ROSSINGTON – Lead Guitar (Tracks 2, 3, 5 and 7) and Rhythm Guitars on all others
ALLEN COLLINS – Lead Guitar (Tracks 1 and 8) and Rhythm Guitar on all others
ED KING – Lead Guitar on "Mississippi Kid" and Bass on all tracks except "Mississippi Kid" and "Tuesday's Gone". 
Note: LEON WILKINSON composed many of the Bass Parts for the album but left the group before recording (Ed King plays all the Bass parts as noted above). But then Wilkinson re-joined the group as Bass Player and King changed to Third Guitar player for their next LP "Second Helping" album
BILLY POWELL – Keyboards
LEON WILKINSON – Bass (see Note above)

ROOSEVELT GOOK – Bass, Mellotron and Backup Harmony on "Tuesday's Gone", Organ on "Simple Man", Mandolin and Bass Drum on "Mississippi Kid", Organ on "Poison Whiskey" and "Free Bird"
STEVE KATZ – Harmonica on "Mississippi Kid"
ROBERT NIX – Drums on "Tuesday's Gone"
BOBBY HALL – Percussion on "Gimme Three Steps" and "Things Goin' On"

The 12-page booklet has new liner notes by RON O'BRIEN that includes a potted history of the band, quotes from an Al Kooper interview (the album's Producer) and the sequence of how their 'Sounds Of The South' debut LP came about (recording began 27 March 1973) as well as black and white photos of the boys peppering the text. But the big news is the fantastic Audio. DOUG SCHWARZ has used the original Stereo Master Tapes and this album sounds just great – full of presence and the right kind of swagger. The Remaster isn't overly trebled for the sake of it – just punchy and clear - the rhythm section sweet and warm too...

Skynyrd's debut is counted in (1, 2, 3) to the huge guitars of the jabbing "I Ain't The One" – Ronnie clearly having some woman trouble (her rich Daddy doesn't believe his protestations of relationship innocence). The genuinely touching "Tuesday's Gone" is a Southern Rock Ballad and I can remember being hooked by this one track alone (kind of got me into the band). The acoustic guitars and those drums are huge – whacking your speakers with a clarity that is shocking. The catchy guitar boogie of "Gimme Three Steps" was an obvious single – MCA launched it in November 1973 after the album had been brewing using the non-album "Mr. Banker" on the flipside. "Gimme..." sounds fab as Ronnie preens "Excuse Me!" before a guitar lets fly. The brooding 'mama done told me' tale of "Simple Man" would start a trend in the writing of Van Zant and Rossington – songs about family, loyalty and how a body should "...take your time...don't live too fast..." - advice they sang about but ignored all too often. It ends Side 1 with a wallop.

Side 2 opens with another fave of mine – the guitar pinging Boogie of "Things Goin' On" where the boys lament that there's "...too much money being spent on the moon..." when ordinary folks are struggling down in the ghetto. Roosevelt Gook puts in a blinder on his mandolin anchoring "Mississippi Kid" with a Bluesy Down Home feel while Ed King does his Slide thing. Another familiar theme (pills and booze) rears its ugly little head in the superb rocker "Poison Whiskey" where doctor looks at the poor man and shakes his head because he's seen this body and soul rot too many times before (lyrics from it title this review). And it ends on the penultimate Skynyrd number that MCA actually wanted the band to edit down to three minutes twenty-nine before they even recorded it (luckily the group stuck to its creative guns). "Free Bird" is of course almost a clichĂ© now for longhaired hippy Rock – but it still amazes – and the remaster has brought out those army of guitars like never before. Fly high indeed. Die-hard fans will know that "Free Bird" was edited down to 4:41 minutes for 7" single release in the USA and the rare Promo version has a Mono Mix on one side (Stereo on the other). Unfortunately both are AWOL from this release and to my knowledge remain so on the digital front. That said – what puts this 'Expanded Edition' into the solid 5-star category is the superb five bonus tracks that reek of the true Skynyrd – sloppy, moody and simplistically brilliant.

The run of five studio-quality 'demos' feel like a cool alternative debut album - just as good as the 8-track original. Fave-raves include the broke and busted musician's plea in "Mr. Banker" where a penniless Ronnie is willing to trade his Gibson Firebird for foreclosure (yeah right). Both "Tuesday's Gone" and "Gimme Three Steps" are similar to the finished polish of the album versions – just a little rougher around the edges and I think funkier for it. The rowdy Demo of "Free Bird" stretches the album's 9:03 to 11:09 minutes and when that pace-change guitar break kicks in – it starts to rock – but then they seem to lose a guitar that clearly made the finished LP version so work. Despite its fame - it's probably the least successful 'demo' on here...

A packet of Skull 'n' Crossbones Cigarettes adorns the back cover of their debut album – 'Lynyrd Skynyrd Smokes' it says on the side of the snot-nosed box. Well they sure got that right...

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 245 entries and 2100 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

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