Wednesday, 30 November 2016

"Original Album Series" by AL STEWART (January 2014 Parlophone/Warners 5CD Mini Box Set of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...A Small Fruit Song..."

As a clearly befuddled and out-of-his-depths Emperor Joseph II (played by Jeffrey Jones) tries to reply to Mozart in Milos Forman's "Amadeus" when asked if he liked Wolfgang's new symphony – the Emperor quickly babbles - "...There's too many notes! Yes that's it! Too many notes!" Mozart tries in vein to advise the clearly ignorant European deity that his masterful musical composition has absolute no superfluous notes of any kind (you twat) – but Mozart's pleas for an enlightened audience fall on deaf ears and some seriously caked-on rouge.

Al Stewart is the same. His high-pitched almost effeminate voice and particularly wordy songs (like a college professor who can't stop himself giving you a history lesson - too many syllables Al) has the same effect. He's a Bovril artist - not everyone likes the Glaswegian Folky but if you do you're thinking our Alistair may very well be a misunderstood genius and then some. But what about the icky Bovril you say. I for one am down with both opinions when it comes to Al Stewart (he's good and bad). I find the first two LPs period-fey and at times unbearably hard to take - but the gorgeous Nick Drake vibe of "Zero She Flies" from 1970 has always seemed like a forgotten gem to me - and the last two LPs on RCA are simply quality work from a classy and accomplished songwriter. Here are the Small Fruit Songs...

UK released January 2014 - "Original Album Series" by AL STEWART on Parlophone/Warners 2564636168 (Barcode 825646361687) is a 5CD Mini Box Set of Remasters (four are) that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 "Bedsitter Images" (41:40 minutes):
1. Bedsitter Images
2. Swiss Cottage Manoeuvres
3. The Carmichaels
4. Scandinavian Girl
5. Pretty Golden Hair
6. Denise At 16
7. Samuel, Oh How You've Changed! [Side 2]
8. Cleave To Me
9. A Long Way Down From Stephanie
10. Ivich
11. Beleeka Doodle Day
Tracks 1 to 11 are his debut LP "Bedsitter Images" (cover has the LP title as "Bed Sitter Images" but the label and song is "Bedsitter Images") - released October 1967 in the UK on CBS Records BPG 63087 (Mono) and CBS Records S BPG 63087 (Stereo) - the STEREO version is used for this CD Remaster which was done in 2007. His debut was also reissued in June 1970 in the UK on CBS Records S 64023 with different artwork under the title "The First Album" - the card sleeve here uses the original 1967 artwork (there was no US issue).

Disc 2 "Love Chronicles" (43:09 minutes):
1. In Brooklyn
2. Old Compton Street Blues
3. The Ballad Of Mary Foster
4. Life And Life Only
5. You Should Have Listened To Al [Side 2]
6. Love Chronicles
Tracks 1 to 6 are his second studio album "Love Chronicles" - released January 1969 in the UK on CBS Records S 63460 (Stereo) and June 1970 in the USA on Epic BN 26564. The original British LP was a gatefold sleeve with a profile photo of Al in a fur coat on the front sleeve with a photo of him and his girlfriend wrapped in blanket sat on grass on the rear. The US LP in 1970 on Epic Records dropped the gatefold to a single-sleeve and reversed the cover art (him and the girl on the front and not on the rear). The card sleeve here uses the UK artwork and the 2007 CD Remaster is used.

Disc 3 "Zero She Flies" (37:16 minutes):
1. My Enemies Have Sweet Voices
2. A Small Fruit Song
3. Gethsemane, Again
4. Burbling
5. Electric Los Angeles Sunset
6. Manuscript [Side 2]
7. Black Hill
8. Anna
9. Room Of Boots
10. Zero She Flies
Tracks 1 to 10 are his third studio album "Zero She Flies" - released March 1970 in the UK on CBS Records S 63848 (Stereo) - No US Issue. 2007 CD Remaster used.

Disc 4 "Year Of The Cat" (39:14 minutes):
1. Lord Grenville
2. On The Border
3. Midas Shadow
4. Sand In Your Shoes
5. If It Doesn't Come Naturally, Leave It
6. Flying Sorcery [Side 2]
7. Broadway Hotel
8. One Stage Before
9. Year Of The Cat
Tracks 1 to 9 are his seventh studio album "Year Of The Cat" - released October 1976 in the UK on RCA Records RS 1082 and in the USA on Janus Records JXS 7022. Peaked at No. 38 in the UK and No. 5 in the USA.

Disc 5 "Time Passages" (44:38 minutes):
1. Time Passages
2. Valentina Way
3. Life In dark Water
4. A Man For All Seasons
5. Almost Lucy [Side 2]
6. Palace Of Versailles
7. Timeless Skies
8. Song On The Radio
9. End Of The Day
Tracks 1 to 9 are his eight studio album "Time Passages" - released September 1978 in the UK on RCA PL 25173 and in the USA on Arista AB-4190 - peaked at No. 39 in the UK and No. 10 in the USA.

By now most know the gig with these 'Original Album Series' Mini Box Sets - five CD albums in single card sleeves with front and rear cover repro artwork that looks nice but is impossible to read. There's no booklet and the only real info is the track lists on the CD labels. The original gatefold sleeves of "Love Chronicles", "Zero She Flies", "Year Of The Cat" and the inner sleeve of "Time Passages" are all AWOL. The repro sleeves are best described as adequate at best and you do need to be careful of the easily crushed flimsy card slipcase that scuffs easily too.

But there's good news where it matters - on the Audio front. Other reviewers have noted that the first three albums presented here - his 1967 debut "Bedsitter Images" - its follow-up "Love Chronicles" from 1969 - and the wonderful 1970 effort "Zero She Flies" are all 2007 Remasters - so the Audio is toppermost of the poppermost. His huge 1976 chart breakthrough LP "Year Of The Cat" is a 2001 Remaster - but no-one seems to know when 1978's equally melodious "Time Passages" was mastered (or remastered for that matter). As all three of the 2007 versions are deleted and costing a pretty penny ever since and the other two not easy to nail down either - this 5CD Mini Box Set with repro art card sleeves for all 5 LPs represents good value for money and a reasonable way to explore a singer well worth checking out.

The first album is a victim of dates – despite great lyrics about 'panelled patterns on the door' the title track for "Bedsitter Images" is given strings and heavy-handed drums to make it bop – the results are ham-fisted. The same applies to "Pretty Golden Hair" – a forced happy-wappy vibe trying to make the song CBS chart material - while a clavinet gives "A Long Way Down From Stephanie" a sort of Simon & Garfunkel feel but not in a good way. His second studio outing pulls back on the musical clutter but goes nuts with the words. "The Ballad Of Mary Foster" is 8:02 and almost all of Side 2 is taken up with the 18:04 minutes of "Love Chronicles" - but at least that feyness that blighted the first LP is gone. Christine gets kissed at ten - joints come in in his late teens - and "Love Chronicles" does well to retain your interest for such a time. But my fave on here is the simple, sad and 'don't get things for nothing' weariness of  "Old Compton Street Blues" where an impressionistic girl smiles - sadly slipping off her dress for the sailor or the clerk in one of London's most notorious haunts. The "Love Chronicles" LP was a huge leap forward but I think his next was even better.

"...I was playing brag in Bedlam and the doctor would not deal..." he sings on the brilliant "My Enemies Have Sweet Voices" - a funky little opener for the fab "Zero She Flies" LP from 1970. For the beginning of the decade Al Stewart seemed to have discovered his inner Funky South Kensington Donovan as the Harmonica and Georgie Fame organ Funk-Folk their way throughout the astute lyrics of "My Enemies Have Sweet Voices". As the bent-notes of a high-string acoustic chug along to an Old Grey Whistle Test Theme harmonica - Stewart sings "...I was blindside to the gutter...and Merlin happened by...asking me why do you lie down there bleeding...I answered him magician as a matter of fact...I was jumping to conclusions and one of them jumped back..." The audio on opener and the lovely follow on "A Small Fruit Song" are utterly stunning - clean and full - as the strings rattle around your speakers. In fact CBS used "A Small Fruit Song" as one of the tracks on the famous 1970 2LP label sampler "Fill Your Head With Rock" - it's acoustic simplicity as pretty as any song they had over on Nick Drake's and Cat Stevens' Island Records. An affectionate rumination on the soppiness and humanity of Jesus ("Gethsemane, Again") is followed by a gorgeous acoustic instrumental called "Burbling" which sounds like its playful-water title. "...Waiting for the ambulance and the cops to come..." come the world-weary lyrics to "Electric Los Angeles Sunset" chronicling the end of the hippy-dream as Cadillacs move snakelike through the haze of smoke from once hip cafes.

His storytelling brilliance can often floor you - take the words to the Eleanor Rigby elegant "Manuscript" as he recalls an old lady remembering - "...And my grandmother sits on the beach in the days before the war...a young girl writing her diary...while time seems to pause...watching the waves as they come one by one to die on the shore...kissing the feet of England..." More acoustic dexterity comes in the shape of "Black Hill" which quickly turns into a mandolin ballad with a few short lines and then it's gone. Beautiful and sad are words to describe "Anna" - a lady listening for the echo of his foot on the stair - the sound of a man who only took flesh from her bones and left little else. It ends on a duo of accomplished acoustic songs - like Leo Kottke with words - "Room Of Boots" and "Zero She Flies" - small wonder the album made No. 40 on the UK LP charts (he wouldn't taste chart success until 1976).

We then skip three albums on CBS ("Orange" in 1972, "Past, Present & Future" in 1973 and "Modern Times" in 1975) to when he signed to RCA Victor and saw his biggest chart success and the album/song he's most remembered for - 1976's "Year Of The Cat". It opens with the slow but majestic "Lord Grenville" with its 'voices on the wind' - followed by the equally sweeping piano-frantic "On The Border" with those acoustic-guitar flourishes sounding so sweet. The electric keyboard shimmer of "Midas Shadow" sounds sweet too as does the almost seaside vibe to "Sand In Your Shoes" where Al sings goodbye to his lady of the island. Side 1 ends with "It Doesn’t Come Naturally, Leave It" where some lady bends his back and many other things too. The Audio for "Flying Sorcery" is pleasingly full as he sings of a lady on the tarmac waiting for another shot at wind-in-her-hair. And then we get the big one – the full album cut of "Year Of The Cat" at 6:48 minutes with its extended piano intro – as sophisticated now as it was then.

The follow-up album "Time Passages" yielded more class in the almost Pink Floyd guitar swirl of "Like In Dark Water" and that catchy title track. It's true that tracks like "A Man For All Seasons" and that other saxophone hit "Song On The Radio" could do with an Audio brush up - but the sound here is still more than acceptable. The combo of Acoustic Guitars and Strings on "End Of The Day" is impressive too.

Sure the Sixties Hippy-Dip first two albums are hard to swallow nowadays - but the other three are worth the price of admission alone - especially the brilliant and unfairly forgotten "Zero She Flies" from 1970 - one for Nick Drake lovers out there.

"...You're on my mind...like a song on the radio..." Bovril or no - Al Stewart is a melody taste worth acquiring. Get this songsmith in your home...

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

"Just For Love" by QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE [feat Dino Valenti, John Cipollina and Nicky Hopkins] (December 1992 Beat Goes On CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...It's Alright With Me..."

Recorded in and around the beautiful at-one-with-nature Opaelua Lodge in Hawaii in May and June of 1970 - Quicksilver Messenger Service's 4th album certainly looked the part with its tasty Capitol Records gatefold cover and colour collage of the boys on the inner gatefold giving in some live aloha homage to the Goddess Pele.

I’ve always thought "Just For Love" to be bloody genius - but with the album’s space-filling meandering instrumentals that seemed to be in search of a song amidst the drugs and grass skirts – and those ever-so-slightly irritating echoed vocals by someone clearly just about holding it together - not everyone was so 'peaced out' when it was released. I've always thought "Just For Love" a product of the times – something that must be taken on face value (the Sixties still hanging on in a haze of mind altering substances). But me - I adore that sloppy feel - like QMS has suddenly morphed into a melodic Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young having way too much fun in the studio and not caring about the placing of the microphones (juts play and feel it boys). Here is the world's most reasonable non-druggy review...

UK released December 1992 (reissued many times since including the latest December 2008) - "Just For Love" by QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE on Beat Goes On BGOCD 141 (Barcode 5017261201416) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 9-track 1970 US LP and plays out as follows (39:31 minutes):

1. Wolf Run (Part 1)
2. Just For Love (Part 1)
3. Cobra
4. The Hat
5. Freeway Flyer [Side 2]
6. Gone Again
7. Fresh Air
8. Just For Love (Part 2)
9. Wolf Run (Part 2)
Tracks 1 to 9 are their fourth album "Just For Love" - released August 1970 in the USA on Capitol SMAS-498 and November 1970 in the UK on Capitol EA-ST 498. Produced by JOHN SELBY - it peaked at No. 27 in the USA (didn't chart UK)

For "Just For Love" QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE was:
DINO VALENTI - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Congas and Flute
GARY DUNCAN - Lead Electric and Acoustic Guitars and Maracas
JOHN CIPOLLINA - Lead Electric and Slide Guitar
DAVID FREIBERG - Bass Guitar, Guitar and Vocals
GREGORY ELMORE - Drums and Percussion
NICKY HOPKINS (Guest) - Piano

The 8-page inlay doesn't feature liners notes (bummer that) but it does reproduce that beautifully laid out Capitol Records gatefold cover art of 1970. The colour-collage is spread across the centre-pages whilst the 'world's most magical brat' and 'world's most rhythmic mystic' annotation is reproduced on the other pages (Dan Healy is the 'wired wizard' Engineer etc). Truth be told – BGO could do with upgrading the presentation of this reissue – I for one think the music deserves such a treat (big booklet, card slipcase etc).

It doesn't say which engineer Remastered the album at Sound Engineering Technology in Cambridge in 1992 (sounds like Duncan Cowell?) – but they did a stomping good job. Always a sloppy recording and perhaps not to everyone's taste – it's this very element that I love most about "Just For Love" and that's been kept in tact sweetly by this tasty transfer.

The re-introduction of the volatile Valenti into the ranks along with the guitar magic of Cipollina (would later form Copperhead) trading off against Gary Duncan while England's Nicky Hopkins adds the whole sound stage a classiness on his old piano - added up to a powerhouse unit.

A Flute and Tabla open Part 1 of the short instrumental "Wolf Run" – a sort of precursor to the who-gives-a-monkeys stuff to come. Then Part 1 of the title track "Just For Love" features Valenti who seems to wander up to and away from the microphone as he warbles on about being "touched softly" and being "free as the wind" (yeah baby). Huge drums introduce the wickedly good slightly country-ish "Cobra" which sounds like Gram Parsons is about to rock out – guitars flicking as a funky piano anchors proceedings. The ten-minute Side1 finisher "The Hat" is the kind of Stephen Stills-Band-Van Morrison acoustic-guitar sloppy work out that I adore. It's loose and feels improvised for sure and of course it overstays its welcome in places - but actually I quite like that and the band's chemistry is incredible as Gary Duncan proves his 'world's most funky saint' moniker in the liner notes while Valenti moans the vocals and Nicky Hopkins earns his stunning piano-playing sessionman reputation.

"...Let's try one more..." comes the count in for the band on the rollicking Side 2 opener "Freeway Flyer" where QMS sound like a drugged out Band letting rip on lyrics like 'dangerous stranger' rhyming with 'Psychedelic stranger'. Freiberg and Elmore keep the Bass and Drums rhythm section tight yet loose as Cipollina wigs out of Electric Guitar (I'm reminded of that in-house-jam feel guitarists Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer got to their "Kiln House" LP for Fleetwood Mac also in 1970). That's followed by the lovely and very Hawaiian-peaceful seven minutes of "Gone Again" - the strummed guitar - the echoed vocals - the distant piano plinking as he sings "...my mind gets lonely...my crazy heart starts to gambling..." - I've always thought this one of this inexplicably gorgeous blissed out songs that feels right on a Sunday morning coming down ("...letting go feels so groovy now..."). There’s an almost Beach Boys quality to the band’s harmony vocal work on the ‘have another hit’ of "Fresh Air" – and dig the stunning piano work from Nicky Hopkins and Valenti’s impassioned ‘take me home with you’ vocals. It ends on two short snippets – Valenti singing of masquerades and the end of charades in the wildly echoed Part 2 of "Just For Love" while Part 2 of "Wolf Run" sounds cool and all hippyish if not a little pointless.

There are many (and will be many) who think much of "Just For Love" is a band faffing about and producing genius amidst the knob with perhaps too much emphasis on the whimsy. But I for one dig it the most.

"...Whatever you're doing...it's alright with me..." - Dino Valenti sings as the mighty ten-minutes of "The Hat" starts to fade out. Amen to that man...

Saturday, 26 November 2016

"Crying Song/Afro-Classic/The Rite Of Spring" by HUBERT LAWS (August 2014 Beat Goes On Reissue - 3LPs onto 2CD - Andrew Thompson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"…Love Is Blue…" 

In their on-going trawl through the Charles Taylor Inc catalogue of primo Jazz albums from the late Sixties and into the late Seventies (CTI Records) - Beat Goes On of the UK (BGO) gives us 3 albums by Jazz Flutist HUBERT LAWS onto 2CDs.

Released 25 August 2014 – "Crying Song/Afro-Classic/The Rite Of Spring" by HUBERT LAWS on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1149 (Barcode 5017261211491) offers 3LPs Remastered onto 2CDs and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (71:32 minutes):
1. La Jean
2. Love Is Blue/Sing A Rainbow
3. Crying Song (from the motion picture “More”)
4. Listen To The Band
5. I’ve Gotta Get A Message To You
6. Feelin' Alright
7. Cymbaline
8. How Long Will It Be?
9. Let It Be
Tracks 1 to 9 are the album “Crying Song” – released 1969 in the USA on CTI Records CTI 1002

10. Fire And Rain
11. Allegro From Concerto No. 3 In D
12. Theme From Love Story
13. Passacaglia In C Minor
14. Flute Sonata In F
Tracks 10 to 14 are the album “Afro-Classic” – released 1970 in the USA on CTI Records CTI 6006

Disc 2 (30:53 minutes):
1. Pavane
2. The Rite Of Spring
3. Syrinx
4. Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (First Movement)
5. Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (Second Movement)
Tracks 1 to 5 are the album “The Rite Of Spring” – released 1972 in the USA on CTI Records CTI 6012

The chunky 20-page booklet has superb liner notes by noted musical expert CHARLES WARING with reminiscences from the great player himself - while the 2014 ANDREW THOMPSON remasters are typically lovely – the rhythm and vibes so complimentary – allowing Laws to solo over them without drowning them out. It also comes with a card slipcase.

Even with the best will in the world – it’s hard to get excited about someone doing a Flute interpretation of “Sing A Rainbow”- (Track 2 on “Crying Song”) - awful stuff that would embarrass elevator music. But then you’re suddenly hit with two unexpected hypnotic gems – his covers of Pink Floyd’s “Crying Song” and “Cymabaline” – both from their 1969 Soundtrack “More”. They’re trippy and very cool. Funk dudes on a Jazz tip will dig the hip version of a hip tune – “Feelin’ Alright” - Dave Mason’s Traffic hit – a song that’s been covered to buggery ever since because it’s just so damn good.

1970’s “Afro-Classic” opens with a great organ-flute Jazz interpretation of James Taylor’s “Fire And Rain” clocking in at just eight minutes with Dave Friedman giving it some fuzz-pedal vibes. The rest of the album’s mainly orchestral takes of Bach and Mozart seem wildly out of place after the tuned-in and turned-on opener.

Debussy, Bach and Stravinsky dominate 1972’s “The Rite Of Spring” this time upping the acoustic guitars in tandem with the vibes and flute. Both “Pavane” and the title track feature fusion centre passages while the second half of the album is taken up by orchestral versions the “Brandenburg Concerto No.3”.

Beautifully presented and sounding wonderful – it’s an acquired taste for sure – but if you’re a fan – then this BGO remaster is another quality buy…

Friday, 25 November 2016

"Time And A Word" by YES (2003 Elektra/Rhino 'Expanded Edition' CD -Dan Hersch and Bill Inglot Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Life Will Be Even Bolder..."

Produced by TONY COLTON (a close friend of Jon Anderson and the lead singer with Heads, Hand & Feet - another Atlantic Records act on the up) - Yes' second platter "Time And A Word" from July 1970 saw our British Prog Heroes take on an 'orchestra' to mixed results - good and bad. 

Personally I've always thought their first two albums wildly underrated and under appreciated (most fans want to begin their catalogue with 1971's brilliant "The Yes Album" and i can understand that) - but I'd argue that the four 'Bonus Tracks' on this 2003 Elektra/Rhino CD Remaster of "Time And A Word" lift proceedings into the realms of essential purchase for fan and newcomer alike. Here are the timely details...

UK released February 2003 (reissued April 2013) - "Time And A Word" by YES on Elektra/Rhino 8122-73787-2 (Barcode 081227378721) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Four Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows (60:15 minutes):

1. No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed
2. Then 
3. Everydays 
4. Sweet Dreams 
5. The Prophet [Side 2]
6. Clear days 
7. Astral Traveller 
8. Time And A Word 
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 2nd studio album "Time And A Word" - released June 1970 in the UK on Atlantic Records 2400 006 (reissued December 1971 on Atlantic K 40085) and November 1970 in the USA on Atlantic SD 8273. The US issue had different artwork to the UK original - the first page of the booklet uses the UK artwork (naked lady in black and white) whilst the last page of the booklet uses the US cover (a colour photo of the 5-piece band). 

BONUS TRACKS: 
9. Dear Father - UK-only 7" single on Atlantic 2091 004 released 15 June 1970 - B-side to "Sweet Dreams" (album track No. 3)
10. No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (Original Mix) 
11. Sweet Dreams (Original Mix) 
Tracks 9 to 11 also first appeared on an early German pressing of the "Time And A Word LP" in April 1970
12. The Prophet - UK-only 7" single on Atlantic 584 323 released 27 March 1970 - B-side to "Time And A Word" (album track No. 8)

For "Time And A Word" YES was:
JON ANDERSON - Leads Vocals
PETER BANKS - Lead Guitars 
TONY KAYE - Keyboards 
CHRIS SQUIRE - Bass
BILL BRUFORD - Drums

The first remaster of this album in November 1994 simply presented fans with the 8-track album and as it was a US based reissue - it used the American colour artwork. This new 2004 stab at it goes back to the British artwork and design of Laurence Sackman (the US variant is on the last page of the booklet) and adds on four tasty Bonus tracks Previously Unissued in the USA. The 16-page booklet detailed and informative liner notes from MIKE TIANO and the text is peppered with colour/black and white period photos of the band. The rare lyric insert that came with original vinyl issues is also reproduced - there's a photo f the band beneath the see-through CD tray and the only tiny glitch that I can see is that Rhino used the December 1971 reissue artwork for Atlantic K 40085 on Page 2 (the rear of the UK sleeve) with the WEA credit when it should have been Atlantic 2400 006 - the 1970 original when WEA didn't exist. Other than that the booklet is very tastefully done - Rhino's quality shining through. But the big news here is a new DAN HERSCH and BILL INGLOT CD Remaster at Digiprep from original master tapes and they've done a sterling job - full, alive and coming at you with real presence. 

The album opens with a Richie Havens cover version lifted from his second album on Verve Forecast "Somethin' Else" called "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed". YES take the 1968 Folk-Soul song and its inherent funky beat and add their Prog Classical slant and actually it works. Driven by Squire's huge Bass notes and Kaye's frantic Organ - it could actually be a Yes song - in fact you can hear "Yours In No Disgrace" in its structures. But it's "Then" and the fabulous "Everydays" that brings the LP to life - brilliant rhythms as Jon sings "...love is the only answer..." and that gorgeous languid Blues-feel to "Everydays". I know you could argue that "Then" in particular could have done without the strings - but the combo of strings and Kaye's slinky organ notes on "Everydays" along with that cool cymbals and guitar Prog break actually make the song. 

Atlantic figured the ever-so-slightly commercial feel to "Sweet Dreams" would make a great 45 - so they give it pride of place as an A-side in mid June 1970 with the none-album "Dear Father" on the flipside - but despite the strength of both sides - it sank without a trace presently clocking in at £45 in the latest 2018 RC Price Guide. But that's as naught to the rarity of the album's first single - the non-album mix of "The Prophet" b/w the album’s version of the title track "Time And A Word". No one seems to know how many stocks copies of Atlantic 584 323 were released in March 1970 in their native Britain - but it wasn't a lot and has subsequently become a notorious YES collectable clocking in at £175.00 - if you can actually find a copy. Both of those rare non-album 45 versions are included here as Bonus Tracks and welcome additions they are too. 

The album version of "The Prophet" opens Side 2 (different to the single mix) and at 6:40 minutes gives you the full Jon Anderson/Chris Squire penned gamut of Yes sounds. Again I think the when the strings come in - it adds rather than detracts (others would disagree). The remaster has great power when the band finally kicks in - that Peter Banks guitar passage particularly clear as Jon starts to sing "...a tale of yesterday..." Lead vocalist and founder member Jon Anderson penned "Clear Days" - a song that goes all "Eleanor Rigby" on the string additions to the point where it's difficult to hear any other instrument. But along with the piano - it feels epic and clever. The near six-minute "Astral Traveller" is more like "The Yes Album" Yes people love - Anderson warbling about "...wandering where lights go..." and leaving out the body load (know what you mean man). The opening acoustic guitars of “Time And A Word” are beautifully clear and I’d forgotten how good parts of the song is - similar musical themes that turned up on parts of "Tales From Topographic Oceans". 

The 1969 debut is better for sure and the next LP in 1971 "The Yes Album" is a masterpiece - a band finally arriving and unleashing their potential. "...And the word is love..." - Jon Anderson sings on "Time And A Word" - "...and it's right for me..." I feel the same way about this forgotten part of their mighty catalogue.

PS: This 2003 Remaster variant of "Time And A Word" including the Bonus Tracks also turns up inside "The Studio Albums 1969-1987" Box Set which is amazing value for money and includes repro artwork but not the booklet...

"In The Wake Of Poseidon: 40th Anniversary Series" by KING CRIMSON (2010 Panegyric CD and DVD-Audio Reissue - Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Cadence And Cascade...Sliding Mystified..."

Always in the shadow of its illustrious and shockingly original predecessor "In The Court Of The Crimson King" (their debut from October 1969) - KING CRIMSON's second platter "In The Wake Of Poseidon" arrived mid May 1970 in Blighty on Island ILPS 9127 to howls of genius and bollocks in equal measure.

The last Remaster stab at this album came in 1999 for a 30th Anniversary Edition (Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp did the honours) - but this '40th Anniversary Series' Edition has had the magic and nimble fingers of STEVE WILSON around it's smiling throat - and once again the Porcupine Tree boy wonder has brought forth nuances that I for one hadn't heard before (the DVD-A includes the 1999 Remaster and Flat Transfer versions too). Here are the Cadences and Cascades...

UK released October 2010 - "In The Wake Of Poseidon: 40th Anniversary Series" by KING CRIMSON on Panegyric KCSP2 (Barcode 633367400222) is a CD and DVD-Audio Reissue and New Remaster that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 - CD (51:53 minutes):
Original Album - 2010 Mix
1. Peace-A Beginning
2. Pictures Of A City (Including 42nd At Treadmill)
3. Cadence And Cascade
4. In The Wake Of Poseidon (Including Libra's Theme)
5. Peace-A Theme
6. Cat Food
7. The Devil's Triangle (Part 1) Merday Morn
8. The Devil's Triangle (Part 2) Hand Of Sceiron
9. The Devil's Triangle (Part 3) Garden Of Worm
10. Peace-An End
Tracks 1 to 10 are their second studio album "In The Wake Of Poseidon" - released May 1970 in the UK on Island ILPS 9127 and September 1970 in the USA on Atlantic SD 8266. Produced by ROBERT FRIPP and PETE SINFIELD - the LP peaked at No. 4 and No. 31 on the UK and US album charts.

BONUS TRACKS:
11. Groon (2010 Mix)
12. Peace: An End (Alternate Mix)
13. Cadence & Cascade (Greg Lake Guide Vocal)

Disc 2 - DVD-AUDIO, NTSC, Region 0 (Code Exempt):
MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround
Original Album
1. Peace-A Beginning
2. Pictures Of A City (Including 42nd At Treadmill)
3. Cadence And Cascade
4. In The Wake Of Poseidon (Including Libra's Theme)
5. Peace-A Theme
6. Cat Food
7. The Devil's Triangle (Part 1) Merday Morn
8. The Devil's Triangle (Part 2) Hand Of Sceiron
9. The Devil's Triangle (Part 3) Garden Of Worm
10. Peace-An End

11. Groon
Tracks 1 to 11 Mixed and Produced from the original multi-track tapes by STEVEN WILSON - except Tracks 7, 8 and 9 which were up-mixed to 5.1 from the original stereo master by SIMON HEYWORTH at Super Audio Mastering (Executive Producer Robert Fripp)

MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96)
PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)
2010 New Stereo Mix
As Per 1 to 11. Produced and Mixed by STEVEN WILSON and ROBERT FRIPP except Tracks 7 to 9 which are Pete Sinfield Produced original album mixes

Original 1970 Stereo Mix – 30th Anniversary Edition
Tracks 1 to 10 as above
30th Anniversary Edition Remastered by SIMON HEYWORTH and ROBERT FRIPP

DVD-Audio BONUS TRACKS:
1. Cat Food (Single Version) – March 1970 UK 7” on Island WIP 6080
2. Groon (Single Version) – Non-album B-side to Cat Food

Cadence And Cascade Versions:
3. Cadence & Cascade (Unedited Master)
4. Cadence & Cascade (Greg Lake Guide Vocal)
5. Cadence & Cascade (Instrumental Take from Wessex Studios)

Groon Versions:
6. Groon (Take 1)
7. Groon (Take 5)
8. Groon (Take 15)

9. The Devil's Triangle (Rehearsal Version from Wessex Studios)
10. Peace: An End (Alternate Mix)
Tracks 1, 2, 4 and 5 Produced by Robert Fripp and Pete Sinfield
Tracks 3, 6 to 8 and 10 Produced by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp

KING CRIMSON was:
GREG LAKE – Vocals
ROBERT FRIPP – Guitars, Effects and Mellotron
KEITH TIPPET – Piano
PETER GILES - Bass
MICHAEL GILES – Drums

Guests:
MEL COLLINS (of Circus) – Saxophone and Flute
GORDON HASKELL – Vocals on "Cadence And Cascade" only
PETE SINFIELD – Words, Sleeve Design and Paintings

Like the other issues in this series – the outer card slipcase and 2-disc foldout digipak contained within are aesthetically nice in a limited sort of way – but the loose 16-page booklet leaves much to be desired despite a short and informative set of liner notes by noted writer and music nut – SID SMITH. Not surprisingly you get the "Cat Food" picture sleeve to Island WIP 6080 pictured as well as the rare New Zealand pressing of the album on none other than a Vertigo 'Spiral' label – but alongside some black and whites of the boys in the studio and a Disc/Music Echo advert for the LP – there's not a lot else. The print is tiny and when you consider just how stunning the Jethro Tull Book Reissues are (I think there's six now including a recently reviewed "Stand Up: Elevated Edition" which may well be Reissue of the Year 2016 in my books) – the presentation on all of these Crimson so called 'Definitive' editions is staggeringly ordinary by comparison.

Housed in a suitably obscure yet almost childlike gatefold sleeve with no obvious title in sight - Pete Sinfield's painted artwork followed on in visual style from the "Court Of The Crimson King" debut – only this time sporting a stippled effect on the gatefold (knowledgeable collector types will know what I mean). That artwork is fully represented here – albeit in a reduced form that lessens its impact considerably.

I can't honestly remember what the 1999 booklet looked like (I sold it years back) but I can't see much improvement except that this new one has endless lists of the same tracks in the booklet filling up a lot of space. And what's all that MLP Lossless Data on the rear cover that few seem to understand or even care about (doesn't even list the bonus tracks on the DVD-A which is what fans would want). Sure many of the tracks on the DVD-Audio are new and therefore Previously Unreleased – manna for fans of this most revered of KC line-ups – but in truth – it all feels a bit of a let down on the visuals. The CDs themselves are picture discs and a nice touch is the Pete Sinfield gatefold reproduced underneath the see-through CD trays – even if is impossible to read in such a small size. The booklet also reproduces the lyrics and some photos of Fripp and Lake at the BBC before old Greg buggered off to Emerson, Lake & Palmer. I'm afraid the Panegyric YES CD reissues resemble these in the looks department - could have done better boys...

The Audio is however thankfully another matter. As Lake's vocals come floating in for the short opener "Peace-A Beginning" and stop being echoed – the instruments are so clear. But of course the huge seven-minute Prog Rock of "Pictures Of A City" follows that – a Brass and Guitars King Crimson tune that is actually hooky (if we might be as bold as to say such a thing). Things mellow with the incredibly pretty "Cadence & Cascade" - an Acoustic ballad from the pen of Robert Fripp and lyricist Pete Sinfield. I'm loving that delicate piano and the double-vocals when he sings "...sad paper courtesan..." followed by a flourish on the Flute from super-sessionman Mel Collins. The speaker-bursting Mellotron opening of the title track "In The Wake Of Poseidon" was in yer face for the 1999 Remaster - here it's the same but a little more controlled. When Lake comes in - the Acoustic Guitar and those drums are assaulting yer speakers as he waxes on about a "...world on the scales..."

The beautiful "Peace-A Theme" passage only lasts just over a minute but it sounds awesome here. "Cat Food" is another audio winner - supermarket ladies grooning to the muzak. The near inaudible 30-second lead in to the three-part "Devil's Triangle" used to cause all many of problems on original 'Pink I' label original of the British LP (clicks and pops ahoy) - Part 1 quietly building in Bolero fashion with the Mellotron and marching drum pattern. But then after nearly seven and half indulgent minutes it all goes King Crimson with the 'Hand Of Sceiron' Part 2 that quickly morphs into the difficult 'Garden Of Worm' section. Greg Lake's lone vocals at the outset to "Peace-An End" are amazingly clean and I'd often thought that second voice over the acoustic guitar was a 'girl' but it’s just him doubling up!

I've listened to the 5.1 Surround Mix (on a friend's set up) and I can only describe it as 'powerful' with a capitol 'P'. I'm reminded of hearing those 'Quad' albums back in the Seventies - instruments coming out of speakers that you'd swear you've never heard before. As with all of these reissues - I can understand the completist reason for the Flat Transfer of the album but it’s just that - flat - and after the Wilson version - hard to go back to. And why weren't the Unreleased Versions put on the CD - there was room?

To sum up - I'm genuinely surprised at how much I like "In The Wake Of Poseidon" in my later years (I recall it didn't float my boat at the time) - but this gorgeous Audio makeover by Wilson and Fripp has made me rethink that. And despite my reservations about presentation - isn't that the best compliment you can pay a reissue...

Thursday, 24 November 2016

"Nicely Out Of Tune" by LINDISFARNE (2004 EMI/Virgin/Charisma 'Expanded Edition' CD - Kathy Bryan Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Alan In The River With Flowers..."

"...It's all right Lady Eleanor..." Well on the evidence presented here - indeed it is. 

Newcastle's Lindisfarne made a wonderful Folk-Rock sound - similar in many ways to Matthews Southern Comfort, Brinsley Schwarz, Fotheringay and even at times John Martyn.

Re-listening to their November 1970 debut album "Nicely Out Of Tune" in November 2016 (46 years after the event) and you're struck by the accomplished songwriting - the warmth of the melodies - and especially the lovely audio on this 2004 CD Remaster (done at Abbey Road). In fact I'm thinking it's a bit of a lost and forgotten classic. And I love the way this Virgin/Charisma CD reissue has used the 'Pink Scroll Label' variant of 'The Famous Charisma Label' on the CD aping the appearance of the rare November 1970 original British LP (Charisma CAS 1025). Here are the Roads To Kingdom Come...

UK released May 2004 - "Nicely Out Of Tune" by LINDISFARNE on EMI/Virgin/Charisma CASCDR 1025 (Barcode 724357990226) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Two Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (52:53 minutes):

1. Lady Eleanor
2. Road To Kingdom Come
3. Winter Song
4. Turn A Deaf Ear
5. Clear White Light (Part 2)
6. We Can Swing Together [Side 2]
7. Alan In The River With Flowers
8. Down
9. The Things I Should Have Said
10. Jackhammer Blues
11. Scarecrow Song
Tracks 1 to 11 are their debut studio album "Nicely Out of Tune" - released November 1970 in the UK on Charisma Records CAS 1025 (Pink Scroll Label variant) - Produced by JOHN ANTHONY. It was reissued January 1972 on the Charisma 'Mad Hatter' Label variant with the same catalogue number - this version rose to No. 8 on the UK LP charts (no USA issue in either case).

BONUS TRACKS:
12. Knackers Yard Blues - non-album B-side to "Clear White Light - Part 2" - UK 7" single released September 1970 on Charisma CB 137
13. Nothing But The Marvellous Is Beautiful - non-album B-side to "Lady Eleanor" - UK 7" single released January 1971 on Charisma CB 153

LINDISFARNE was:
ALAN HULL - Lead Vocals, Acoustic and 12-String Guitar, Piano, Electric Piano and Organ
ROD CLEMENTS - Electric Bass, Organ, Piano, Violin, Guitar and Vocals
RAY JACKSON - Vocals, Mandolin and Harmonica
SIMON COWE - Lead Acoustic, 12-String Guitars, Mandolin, Banjo and Vocals
RAY LAIDLAW - Drums and Percussion

The gatefold slip of paper gives only the basic album details with two black and white photos in the centre spread of our heroes giving it some live welly at some festival somewhere. While the inlay is lo-fi and cheap - the KATHY BRYAN Remaster carried out at Abbey Road is nothing of the sort. This album sounds gorgeous - alive and full of warmth and melody - a superb transfer. Let's get to the music...

Charisma tried "Clear White Light – Part 2" as the band’s debut 45 in September 1970. Charisma CB 137 came with the non-album "Knackers Yard Blues" on the flipside (the first of two bonus tracks presented here) – but it sank without notice. In January 1971 the famous types at Charisma tried again but this time with "Lady Eleanor" backed with another non-LP B-side "Nothing But The Marvellous is Beautiful" (the second bonus track) – but again it initially received no joy. But when Lindisfarne’s second album - October 1971's "Fog On The Tyne" unexpectedly went all the way to No. 1 in the UK on the strength of the "Meet Me On The Corner" 7” single (Charisma CB 173, February 1972) – Charisma resurrected "Lady Eleanor" in May 1972 and were promptly rewarded by a UK No. 3 placing on the Pop charts. What is surprising now is that Joe Public didn’t seem to notice (or perhaps hear) the first time around?

Its writer ALAN HULL also penned six other songs on the 11-cut LP - "Winter Song", "Clear White Light – Part 2", "We Can Swing Together" (another of the album’s anthems), "Alan In The River With Flowers", "Down", "Scarecrow Song" and the B-side "Nothing But The Marvellous Is Beautiful". The other creative force in the band was ROD CLEMENTS who penned the truly lovely "Road To Kingdom Come" – a song so good THE BAND might give it a begrudging nod. On the LP Roderick also contributed "The Things I Should Have Said" and the first non-album B-side – the jaunty "Knackers Yard Blues". The other two LP cuts are cover versions – Rab Noakes for "Turn A Deaf Ear" – a song Noakes wouldn’t release himself until his fourth LP "Never Too Late" on Warner Brothers K 56114 in April 1975 – and Woody Guthrie’s Traditional "Jackhammer Blues".

Highlights are many but the simplicity and beauty of "Winter Song" gets me every time while the speaker-to-speaker panning of "Alan In The River With Flowers" also makes great use of their unique harmonising. I could probably live without the jugband-whomp of Woody's "Jackhammer Blues" – better is the Rod Clements ballad "The Things I Should Have Said" where he meets a new lady but each is waiting for the silence to be broken as the sparks in the campfire start to fade. "We Can Swing Together" has become something of an anthem for the band – Jackson's growl and Harmonica making the 'roll your own' lyrics feel like a shanty that sailors sing when they're drunk and pining for home. And that Bass/Mandolin break at the end of "Lady Eleanor" is middle-eight genius.

"Nicely Out Of Tune" has always been in the shadow of its more famous follow-up – 1971's "Fog On The Tyne" – a Number One album back when such things mattered and took serious sales to achieve. But I'm thinking its time to call both albums sweethearts ("Dingly Dell" too for that matter).

"...Didn’t think there could be more..." – Lindisfarne sang on the hypnotic and ethereal "Lady Eleanor" Turns out there is...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

"A Beard Of Stars" by TYRANNOSAURUS REX [feat Marc Bolan, Mickey Finn and Steve Took] (2004 Universal/A&M/Straight Ahead Productions Ltd. 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue - Gary Moore Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Woodland Bop..." 

The final TYRANNOSAURUS REX LP "A Beard Of Stars" was released March 1970 and achieved an impressive No. 13 placing on the British LP charts. But it marked an end a new beginning. The four-album hippy-dip Folk-Rock duo of Marc Bolan and Steve Took would be soon trounced and forgotten for Bolanmania when Marc and Mickey Finn (who'd come on board September 1969 for "Beard" after Took was dropped) went into the Glam Rock monster that would become T. REX. 

The wind cheetahs, dragon's ears and mighty dawn dart warbling of "A Beard Of Stars" must have seemed eons away and so far ago when the seriously hooky Pop-Rock of "Ride A White Swan" was released only months later in October 1970 on Fly Records BUG 1 – a No. 2 smash for the newly anointed T. REX. moniker. Soon pretty painter and bongo-wielding MICKEY FINN and the equally photogenic always-cultish MARC BOLAN would be making male and female hearts pulse a tad faster up and down the land and for the next few years to come. 

This fourth and last Tyrannosaurus Rex album on England’s Regal Zonophone Records is where that superb transition to 'Electric Warrior' truly began and you’d have to say that this generous and superb-sounding Gary Moore CD Remaster has done that forgotten LP a solid. Here are the starry details...

UK released October 2004 (reissued August 2011) - "A Beard Of Stars" by TYRANNOSAURUS REX on Universal/A&M/Straight Ahead Productions Ltd. 982 251-2 (Barcode 602498225127) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with 16 Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (75:47 minutes): 

1. Prelude 
2. A Daye Laye 
3. Woodland Bop 
4. Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart 
5. Pavilions Of Sun 
6. Organ Blues 
7. By The Light of The Magical Moon
8. Wind Cheetah 
9. A Beard Of Stars [Side 2] 
10. Great Horse 
11. Dragon's Ear 
12.  Lofty Skies
13. Dove
14. Elemental Child 
Tracks 1 to 14 are their fourth and final studio album "A Beard Of Stars" - released March 1970 in the UK on Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1013. The 1st US version was released June 1970 on Blue Thumb BTS 18 as the same 14-track LP - but in December 1970 - it was re-issued again on Blue Thumb BTS 18 - but this time came with a bonus single - the British hit "Ride A White Swan" b/w "Is It Love" (Blue Thumb SP-6115). The American 'Bonus' 45 was credited to Tyrannosaurus Rex and had only two tracks - the British 45 was credited to T. REX and had a second B-side - a cover version of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues". 

BONUS TRACKS: 
15. III Starred Man (Take 1)
16. Demon Queen (Take 1)
17. Once Upon The Seas Of Abyssinia (Take 1)
18. Blessed Wild Apple Girl (Take 1)
19. Find A Little Wood (Take 1)
20. A Daye Laye (Take 1)
21. Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart (Take 2)
22. Organ Blues (Take 2)
23. Wind Cheetah (Take 4)
24. A Beard Of Stars (Take 1) 
25. Great Horse (Take 1) 
26. Dragons Ear (Take 1 & Take 2)
27. Dove (Take 5)
28. Elemental Child Parts 1 & 2 (Take 1)
29. By The Light Of The Magical Moon (Take 3)
30. Prelude (Take 1)

MARC BOLAN - Lead Vocals, Guitar, Organ and Bass
MICKEY FINN - Backing Vocals, Moroccan Clay Drums, Tabla, Bass and Finger Cymbals

The rare lyric insert that came with Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1013 is reproduced on Page 4 of the 16-page booklet along with loads of black and white photos of the photogenic duo and memorabilia including the Melody Maker advert where Bolan went looking for 'a gentle young guy who can play percussion'. Renowned Bolan and T. Rex expert MARK PAYTRESS has provided the superb liner notes explaining how some of the outtakes are Steve Took songs Bolan chopped once Mickey Finn came on board. But the big news here is a stunning GARY MOORE Remaster - an Audio Engineer I've name-checked many times for his huge amounts of work across a large number of Universal's labels. Primarily Acoustic - the strings rattle - the bongos bong and Bolan's expressive and unique voice floats over proceedings like an elf on helium gas. 

With only Bolan's face on the front cover of the original LP (Mickey Finn's handsome visage graces the rear) - you might think "A Beard Of Stars" is a 'solo' album and with all tunes written by Bolan - at times it feels like that - his voice and presence dominating everything. Highlights include "Woodland Bop"  which he would use as one of the B-sides to "Hot Love" in February 1971 whilst the trio of "Woodland Bop", "Fist Heart Mighty Dawn Dart" and the uber-rare Tyrannosaurus Rex UK 7" single "By The Light Of The Magical Moon" would all turn up on the June 1971 compilation LP "Bolan Boogie" - a UK No.1. 

Backwards guitars fill out the short but sweet "A Day Laye" while he urges you to 'come into my garden lady love' on "Pavilions Of Sun" (did that wicked electric guitar break). "Organ Blues" tells us there's 'gold in the mountains and people living in the sea' (know what you mean mate) while you can so hear why Regal Zonophone thought "By The Light Of The Magical Moon" would be a good single for the LP (the acoustic and electric guitar licks are wonderfully clear). "Wind Cheetah" is probably the most hippy tune on here - a sort of Incredible String Band whine on an organ with layered voices. "Great Horse" sees his lyrical muse go wild as a 'strange beastie from the legend lair' seems to be master with his 'skull powdered cord'. I love the wild and grungy electric guitar finisher "Elemental Child" - a hooky little rocker that pointed the way to "T. Rex" in December 1970 and "Electric Warrior" in September 1971. I wish there was more of this on the album. Amidst the Bonus Tracks are the Steve Took Psychedelic contributions of "Once Upon The Sea Of Abyssinia" and "Find A Little Wood". 

"A Beard Of Stars" is probably the most accomplished and 'together' of the Tyrannosaurus Rex foursome of LPs - and this excellent 2004 CD Remaster of it makes that long forgotten music from 1970 ripe for rediscovery in my books.

Rock on you Wizard in the Lofty Skies - we the Children of Rarn salute you...

Amazon AUDIO Books - Great Prices

Amazon Best Deals...