Tuesday, 26 July 2016

"The Complete Columbia Albums Collection" by THE BYRDS (2011 Sony/Legacy 15CD Mini Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"…My Back Pages…"

Talk about a monster. 13 albums across 15 CDs (2 are Deluxe Edition doubles), more unreleased tracks than you can shake a wobbly stick at – a chunky 40-page booklet that literally gives track-by-track annotation - dinky facsimile 5” card sleeves – blindingly good remastered sound - and all of it for under twenty five quid!

Even the first 10 CDs reflect the “360 STEREO Sound” red Columbia labels that came with original American LPs - while the last three are the plain red variant – nice attention to detail. And apart from the very downward slope of the early Seventies sets - the music is pretty much sublime throughout. So here are the musical highs and lows of these American feathery troubadours…

Released November 2011 – "The Complete Columbia Albums Collection" by THE BYRDS on Sony/Columbia/Legacy 88697873802 (Barcode is the same) is a 15CD Box Set with a 40-Page Booklet and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 “Mr. Tambourine Man” in a single sleeve (45:40 minutes):
1. Mr. Tambourine Man
2. I Feel A Whole Lot Better
3. Spanish Harlem Incident
4. You Won’t Have To Cry
5. Here Without You
6. The Bells Of Rhymney
7. All I Really Want To Do [Side 2]
8. I Knew I’d Want You
9. It’s No Use
10. Don’t Doubt Yourself, Babe
11. Chimes Of Freedom
12. We’ll Meet Again
Tracks 1 to 12 are the debut LP “Mr. Tambourine Man” – released June 1965 in the USA on Columbia CL 2372 (Mono) and CS 9172 (Stereo) and August 1965 in the UK on CBS Records BPG 62571 (Mono) and CBS S BPG 62571 (Stereo). The Stereo Mix is Used and Stereo Album Artwork for the repro 5” sleeve. This is the same for all discs listed below…
BONUS TRACKS (1996 CD):
13. She Has A Way (Previously Unissued Version with Alternate Vocal Track/Take 2)
14. I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better Way (Previously Unissued Version with Alternate Lead Guitar Overdub)
15. It’s No Use (Previously Unissued Version with Alternate Lead Guitar Overdub)
16. You Won’t Have To Cry Way (Previously Unissued Version with Alternate Vocal Track/Take 2)
17. All I Really Want To Do – Mono 7” Single Version (A-side of USA 45 on Columbia 4-43332)
18. You And Me Way (Previously Unissued Instrumental Backing Track/Take 13)

Disc 2 “Turn! Turn! Turn!” in a single sleeve (49:12 minutes):
1. Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season
2. It Won’t Be Wrong
3. Set You Free This Time
4. Lay Down Your Weary Tune
5. He Was A Friend Of Mine
6. The World Turns All Around Her [Side 2]
7. Satisfied Mind
8. If You’re Gone
9. The Times They Are A-Changin’
10. Wait And See
11. Oh! Susannah
Tracks 1 to 11 are the LP “Turn! Turn! Turn!” – released December 1965 in the USA on Columbia CL 2454 (Mono) and CS 9254 (Stereo) and March 1966 in the UK on CBS Records BPG 62652 (Mono) and S BPG 62652 (Stereo). Stereo Mix used
BONUS TRACKS (1996 CD):
12. The Day Walk (Never Before) – Previously released on 1990 4CD Box Set “The Byrds”
13. She Don’t Care About Time – Mono 7” Single Version (Non-Album B-side to “Turn! Turn! Turn!” USA 45 on Columbia 4-43424)
14. The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Previously Unreleased Version 1/Take 1
15. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue - Previously Unreleased Version 1/Take 1
16. She Don’t Care About Time - Previously Unreleased Version 1/Take 2
17. The World Turns All Around Her - Previously Unissued Alternate Mix/”Bongo Version” 1
18. Stranger In A Strange Land - Previously Unreleased Instrumental Backing Track/Take 10

Disc 3 “Fifth Dimension” in a single sleeve (62:21 minutes):
1. 5D (Fifth Dimension)
2. Wild Mountain Thyme
3. Mr. Spaceman
4. I See You
5. What’s Happening?!?!
6. I Come And Stand At Every Door
7. Eight Miles High [Side 2]
8. Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go)
9. Captain Soul
10. John Riley
11. 2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song)
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album “Fifth Dimension” – released August 1966 in the USA on Columbia CL 2549 (Mono) and CS 9349 (Stereo) and September 1966 in the UK on CBS Records BPG 62783 (Mono) and S BPG 62783 (Stereo). Stereo Mix used.
BONUS TRACKS (1996 CD):
12. Why – Mono 7” Single Version (Non-Album B-side to “Eight Miles High” – a US 45 on Columbia 4-43578)
13. I Know My Rider (I Know You Rider) - Previously released on 1990 4CD Box Set “The Byrds”
14. Psychodrama City - Previously released on 1990 4CD Box Set “The Byrds”
15. Eight Miles High - Previously released on the 1987 American compilation “Never Before” on Murray Hill Records
16. Why – as per 15
17. John Riley – Instrumental Version 1

Disc 4 “Younger Than Yesterday” in a single repro sleeve (47:35 minutes):
1. So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
2. Have You Seen Her Face
3. C.T.A. – 102
4. Renaissance Fair
5. Time Between
6. Everybody’s Been Burned
7. Thoughts And Words [Side 2]
8. Mind Gardens
9. My Back Pages
10. The Girl With No Name
11. Why
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album “Younger Than Yesterday” – released March 1967 in the USA on Columbia CL 2642 (Mono) and CS 9442 (Stereo) and April 1967 in the UK on CBS Records BPG 62988 (Mono) and S BPG 62988 (Stereo). Stereo Mix used.
BONUS TRACKS (1996 CD):
12. It Happens Each Day – David Crosby song Previously released on 1990 4CD Box Set “The Byrds”
13. Don’t Make Waves – Mono 7” Single Version (Non-Album B-side to “Have You Seen Her Face” – a US 45 on Columbia 4-44157. Also non-album B-side to the UK 45 of “Lady Friend” on CBS 2924 in September 1967)
14. My Back Pages – Previously Unreleased Alternate Version
15. Mind Gardens – David Crosby song – Previously Unreleased Alternate Version
16. Lady Friend – Mono 7” Single Version (A-side of a US 45 on Columbia 4-44230)
17. Old John Robertson – non-album B-side of 16

Disc 5 “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” in a single repro sleeve (58:27 minutes):
1. Artificial Energy
2. Goin’ Back
3. Natural Harmony
4. Draft Morning
5. Wasn’t Born To Follow
6. Get To You
7. Change Is Now [Side 2]
8. Old John Robertson
9. Tribal Gathering
10. Dolphin’s Smile
11. Space Odyssey
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” – released January 1968 in the USA on Columbia CL 2775 (Mono) and CS 9575 (Stereo) and April 1968 in the UK on CBS Records BPG 63169 (mono) and S BPG 63169 (Stereo). Stereo Mix used.
BONUS TRACKS (1997 CD):
12. Mood Raga - Previously released on the 1987 American compilation “Never Before” on Murray Hill Records
13. Bound To Fall – Previously Unissued Instrumental
14. Triad - David Crosby song Previously released on 1990 4CD Box Set “The Byrds”
15. Goin’ Back – Previously Unissued Version 1
16. Draft Morning – Previously Unissued Version with an Alternate End
17. Universal Mind Decoder (Early Demo Version of “Change Is Now”) – Previously Unreleased Instrumental Version

Disc 6 “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” in a gatefold sleeve – Disc 1 (55:05 minutes):
1. You Ain’t Going Nowhere
2. I Am A Pilgrim
3. The Christian Life
4. You Don’t Miss Your Water
5. You’re Still On My Mind
6. Pretty Boy Floyd
7. Hickory Wind [Side 2]
8. One Hundred Years From Now
9. Blue Canadian Rockies
10. Life In Prison
11. Nothing Was Delivered
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” – released August 1968 in the USA on Columbia CS 9670 (Stereo) and September 1968 in the UK on CBS Records S BPG 63353 (Stereo)
ADDITIONAL MASTER TAKES from the 2003 Legacy 2CD DELUXE EDITION:
12. All I Have Are Memories – Previously Unreleased
13. Reputation - Previously released on 1990 4CD Box Set “The Byrds”
14. Pretty Polly – as per 13
15. Lazy Days – as per 13
16. The Christian Life – Master Take with Gram Parsons Vocals - as per 13
17. You Don’t Miss Your Water - Master Take with Gram Parsons Vocals - as per 13
18. One Hundred Years From Now - Master Take with Gram Parsons Vocals - as per 13
19. Radio Spot for “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” Album

Disc 7 “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” – Disc 2 (61:20 minutes):
THE INTERNATIONAL SUBMARINE BAND
1. Sum Up Broke – 7” Single Mono Mix
2. One Day Week – 7” Single Mono Mix (1 and 2 are the A&B-sides of a International Submarine Band US 45 on Columbia 4-43935)
3. Truck Drivin’ Man – 7” Single Mono Mix – A-side of a US 45 on Ascot AS-2218
4. Blue Eyes
5. Luxury Liner
6. Strong Boy – 4, 5 and 6 from the US 1968 LP “Safe At Home” on LHI Records S-12,001
WORKNG DEMOS, OUTTAKES & REHEARSAL VERSIONS – PREVIOUSLY UNISSUED
7. Lazy Days (Alternate Version)
8. Pretty Polly (Alternate Version)
9. Hickory Wind (Alternate “Nashville” Version/Take 8)
10. The Christian Life (Rehearsal Version/Take 7)
11. The Christian Life (Rehearsal Version/Take 8)
12. Life In Prison (Rehearsal Version Takes 1 & 2 with Gram Parsons Vocal)
13. Life In Prison (Rehearsal Version Takes 3 & 4 with Gram Parsons Vocal)
14. One Hundred Years From Now (Rehearsal Version Takes 12 & 13 with Gram Parsons Vocal)
15. One Hundred Years From Now (Rehearsal Version Takes 14 & 15 with Gram Parsons Vocal)
16. You’re Still On My Mind (Rehearsal Version Takes 13 with Gram Parsons Vocal)
17. You’re Still On My Mind (Rehearsal Version Takes 48 with Gram Parsons Vocal)
18. All I Have Are Memories (Alternate Instrumental Take 17)
19. All I Have Are Memories (Alternate Instrumental Take 21)
20. Blue Canadian Rockies (Rehearsal Version Take 14)

Disc 8 “Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde” in a single sleeve (51:59 minutes):
1. This Wheel’s On Fire
2. Old Blue
3. Your Gentle Way Of Loving Me
4. Child Of The Universe
5. Nashville West
6. Drug Store Truck Drivin’ Man [Side 2]
7. King Apathy III
8. Candy
9. Bad Night At The Whiskey
10. Medley: My Back Pages/B.J. Blues/Baby, What You Want Me To Do
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album “Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde” – released March 1969 in the USA on Columbia CS 9755 (Stereo) and April 1969 in the UK on CBS Records S 63545 (Stereo)
BONUS TRACKS (1997 CD):
11. Stanley’s Song - Previously released on 1990 4CD Box Set “The Byrds”
12. Lay, Lady, Lay – as per 11
13. This Wheel’s On Fire – Previously Unissued Version 1
14. Medley: My Back Pages/B.J. Blues/Baby, What You Want Me To Do – Previously Unissued Alternate Version Take 1
15. Nashville West - Previously Unissued Alternate/Nashville Version

Disc 9 “Ballad Of Easy Rider” in a single sleeve (56:51 minutes):
1. Ballad Of Easy Rider
2. Fido
3. Oil In My Lamp
4. Tulsa
5. Jack Tarr The Sailor
6. Jesus Is Just Alright [Side 2]
7. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
8. There Must Be Someone (I Can Turn To)
9. Gunga Din
10. Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)
11. Armstrong, Aldrin And Collins
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album “Ballad Of Easy Rider” – released December 1969 in the USA on Columbia CS 9942 (Stereo) and January 1970 in the UK on CBS Records S 63795 (Stereo)
BONUS TRACKS (1997 CD):
12. Way Beyond The Sun - Previously released on 1990 4CD Box Set “The Byrds”
13. Mae Jean Goes To Hollywood – as per 12
14. Oil In My Lamp – as per 12
15. Tulsa County – Previously Unissued Alternate Version
16. Fiddler A Dram (Moog Experiment) – Previously Unissued
17. Ballad Of Easy Rider – Previously Unissued Long Version
18. Build It Up – Previously Unissued Instrumental

Disc 10 “(Untitled/Unissued)” in Gatefold Sleeve (Disc 1 – 71:24 minutes):
1. Lover Of The Bayou [Side 1 Live]
2. Positively 4th Street
3. Nashville West
4. So You Want To Be A Rock ‘N’ Roll Star
5. Mr. Tambourine Man
6. Mr. Spaceman
7. Eight Miles High [Side 2 Live]
8. Chestnut Mare [Side 3 Studio]
9. Truck Stop Girl
10. All The Things
11. Yesterday’s Train
12. Hungry Planet
13. Just A Season [Side 4 Studio]
14. Take A Whiff On Me
15. You All Look Alike
16. Welcome Back Home
Tracks 1 to 16 are the DOUBLE ALBUM “(Untitled)” – released October 1970 in the USA on Columbia G 30127 and November 1970 in the UK on CBS Records S 66253. Sides 1 & 2 of the double-album are ‘live’ – Sides 3 & 4 are studio tracks. The Bonus CD is a mixture of both as noted below…

Disc 11 “Unissued” (Disc 2 – 49:24 minutes):
1. All The Things (Alternate Version)
2. Yesterday’s Train (Alternate Version)
3. Lover Of The Bayou (Studio Recording)
4. Kathleen’s Song (Alternate Version)
5. White’s Lightning, Pt. 2 (Studio Recording)
6. Willin’ (Studio Recording of the Lowell George song)
7. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Live Recording from Felt Forum, 1 March 1970)
8. Old Blue (Live Recording as per 7)
9. It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) (Live Recording as per 7)
10. Ballad Of Easy Rider (Live Recording as per 7)
11. My Back Pages (Live Recording as per 7)
12. Take A Whiff On Me (Live Recording from Fillmore East, 23 September 1970)
13. Jesus Is Just Alright (Live Recording as per 12)
14. This Wheel’s On Fire (Live Recording as per 7)

Disc 12 “Byrdmaniax” in a Gatefold Sleeve (46:51 minutes):
1. Glory, Glory
2. Pale Blue
3. I Trust
4. Tunnel Of Love
5. Citizen Kane
6. I Wanna Grow Up To Be A Politician [Side 2]
7. Absolute Happiness
8. Green Apple Quick Step
9. My Destiny
10. Kathleen’s Song
11. Jamaica Say You Will
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album “Byrdmaniax” – released July 1971 in the USA on Columbia KC 30640 and August 1971 in the UK on CBS Records S 64389
BONUS TRACKS (2000 CD):
12. Just Like A Woman – Previously Unreleased Bob Dylan cover
13. Pale Blue – Previously Unreleased Alternate Version
14. Think I’m Gonna Feel Better – Previously Unreleased Gene Clark song

Disc 13 “Farther Along” in a Single Repro Sleeve (46:02 minutes):
1. Tiffany Queen
2. Get Down Your Line
3. Farther Along
4. B.B. Class Road
5. Bugler
6. American Great National Pastime [Side 2]
7. Antique Sandy
8. Precious Kate
9. So Fine
10. Lazy Waters
11. Bristol Steam Convention Blues
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album “Farther Along” – released December 1971 in the USA on Columbia KC 31050 and January 1972 in the UK on CBS Records S 64676
BONUS TRACKS (2000 CD):
12. Lost My Drivin’ Wheel – Previously Unreleased
13. Born To Rock And Roll – Previously Unreleased Roger McGuinn song
14. Bag Full Of Money - Previously Unreleased Roger McGuinn song

Like the SIMON & GARFUNKEL and ELVIS PRESLEY catalogues – THE BYRDS have had the magic touch of remaster/remix engineer VIC ANESINI. I’ve sung his praises many times before (Hall & Oates, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jayhawks to name but a few) – and yet again – the STEREO quality on these recordings is gorgeous. When you get to the fabulous “Younger Than Yesterday” album with nuggets like “Goin’ Back” and “Draft Morning” – the sonic power of the remaster combined with the beauty of the tunes is a pretty overwhelming thing. To hear their beautiful version of Dylan’s “My Back Pages” sound this good is a joy.

And while there are tracks like “Glory, Glory” and “Pale Blue” on “Byrdmaniax” – I’d prefer “Just A Season” from the underrated “Untitled” double and “Get Down Your Line” from the patchy “Farther Along”. Also check out the David Crosby outtake “It Happens Each Day” from late 1966 which first appeared on the 1990 4CD retrospective “The Byrds” – unbelievably good. The Gram Parsons outtakes on “Sweetheart Of The Rodeo” are amazing too. And of course throughout the duration is the guiding hand and voices of GENE CLARK and ROGER McGUINN – pumping out singles like “I Feel A Whole Lot Better”, “Eight Miles High” and “it Won’t Be Wrong”.

"...I opened my heart to the whole universe…and found it was loving…" - Roger McGuinn sings on "5D (Fifth Dimension)". 

Open your soft machine to this groovy BYRDS box set and I’m sure you’ll be feeling the love decades from now…

"The Notorious Byrd Brothers" by THE BYRDS (1997 Columbia/Legacy 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...I Think I'm Goin' Back..."

Gorgeous - forgotten classic - overlooked - ignored like a 'remain' flyer in a British mud-puddle - the Byrds' fifth platter is the kind of album that gives the 60ts a good name. But which version of it do you buy?

In the unnervingly hot summer of July 2016 you can nail this criminally forgotten nugget in two ways – the standalone March 1997 CD reissue on Columbia/Legacy – or as Disc 5 inside the gorgeous and still reasonably priced 13CD Box set from November 2011 – "The Complete Columbia Albums Collection". To locate the standalone CD on Amazon use Barcode 5099748675125 in the Search Line and Barcode 88697873802 for the Box set (see separate review). Frankly frank - you’re quids in either way. I’ll deal with the standalone issue for this review...

UK released March 1997 – "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" by THE BYRDS on Columbia/Legacy 486751 2 (Barcode 5099748675125) is an ‘Expanded Edition’ CD Remaster of the 11-track 1968 album with seven Bonus Tracks (one hidden) and plays out as follows (58:28 minutes):

1. Artificial Energy
2. Goin’ Back
3. Natural Harmony
4. Draft Morning
5. Wasn’t Born To Follow
6. Get To You
7. Change Is Now [Side 2]
8. Old John Robertson
9. Tribal Gathering
10. Dolphin’s Smile
11. Space Odyssey
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” – released 3 January 1968 in the USA on Columbia CL 2775 (Mono) and Columbia CS 9575 (Stereo) and April 1968 in the UK on CBS Records BPG 63169 (Mono) and CBS Records S BPG 63169 (Stereo). The STEREO MIX is used. Produced by GARY USHER and Engineered by ROY HALEE and DON THOMPSON - it peaked at No. 47 on the US LP charts and No. 12 in the UK.

BONUS TRACKS (All Stereo):
12. Mood Raga - Previously released on the 1987 American compilation "Never Before" on Murray Hill Records
13. Bound To Fall – Previously Unissued Instrumental
14. Triad - David Crosby song previously released on 1990 4CD Box Set “The Byrds”
15. Goin’ Back – Previously Unissued Version 1
16. Draft Morning – Previously Unissued Version with an Alternate End
17. Universal Mind Decoder (Early Demo Version of “Change Is Now”) – Previously Unreleased Instrumental Version)

THE BYRDS were:
ROGER McGUINN
CHRIS HILLMAN
DAVID CROSBY
MICHAEL CLARKE

The 12-page booklet is a pleasingly in-depth affair with properly knowledgeable liner notes from noted BYRDS authority JOHNNY ROGAN who authored "Timeless Flight: The Definitive Biography Of The Byrds". Amidst the black and white photos of the foursome looking all mean and moody (when the recordings started there was four - months later – Clarke left and Crosby was fired leaving only the core duo of McGuinn and Hillman) are publicity photos, a concert poster with The Doors and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band as well as repros of a few US Columbia 45s. These are sat alongside track-by-track examinations by Rogan on how such a varied and at times 'beautiful' album could have been be produced amidst the personal and musical toss 'n' tumble that surrounded the band (these notes are reproduced in the 40-page booklet inside the 'Complete' Box set - so you won't loose out on that count).

But the big news is the Audio – a remaster by BOB IRWIN and VIC ANESINI. Using the Stereo Masters (for all tracks) -these top engineers did the transfers and mixing at Sony’s Studios in New York and VIC ANESINI in particular is a name I've sung the praises of before. He’s handled very prestigious SONY catalogue – Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carole King, Janis Joplin, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Nilsson, Paul Simon, Mountain, Lou Reed, Roy Orbison, Santana, Mott The Hoople and The Jayhawks to name but a few. Clean – full of presence and warmth – this thing is a joy to listen too – and when songs like "Goin' Back", "Draft Morning" and "Tribal Gathering" kick in - there's unlikely to be a dry Byrds eye in the house...

"Notorious" opens with "Artificial Energy" - a warning song about overdoing 'speed' - and I'm not talking about going fast on a Penny Farthing. It's slightly camp brass gives it a far more upbeat vibe and at 2:18 minutes is short and breathy. But that cool opener is trounced into absolute chemical submission by something so sublime that mere adjectives fail me - their truly breathtaking cover of Goffin and King's "Goin' Back". A hit penned by the mighty songwriting duo of Gerry and Carole for Dusty Springfield - The Byrds take this beautiful melody and literally make it soar - a pun I hate to use when it comes to this band of all bands - but in the case of this rendition - aptly fits. "Goin' Back" is beautiful stuff with sessionman Jim Gordon providing the drum roll at the end of the tune. Next up is Paul Beaver's Moog and Red Rhodes' Steel Guitar on Chris Hillman's equally musical "Natural Harmony" - another song with slightly drugged-up lyrics like "...head thrown back...arms open wide..." (reminds me of driving in my soft-top Porsche in Walthamstow in December).

Again another segue into a masterwork - the stunning "Draft Morning" which Rogan quiet rightly describes as 'one of the greatest and most bitter moments in the Byrds song catalogue'. Originally penned by David Crosby before he was unceremoniously chucked out of the band - both Hillman and McGuinn added more and therefore take the threesome songwriting credit (apparently its The Firesign Theatre who supply the gunshots in this anti-Vietnam winner). Another gem penned by Goffin and King - "Wasn't Born To Follow" turned up a year later as "I Wasn't Born To Follow" in January 1969 on the lone Carole King/Danny Kortchmar project LP "Now That Everything's Been Said" by THE CITY. It's also famous for its inclusion in the cult movie "Easy Rider" (The City version show sits prettiness - se separate review).

Other classics include "Get To You" where Roger McGuinn waxes lyrical about the mellowness of the English after a trip to Blighty and "Tribal Gathering" where David Crosby sings affectionately about hippies in San Francisco's Golden gate Park in January 1967 where the ensemble 'human be in' was taking all manner of trips (and not necessarily one needing a passport). I also love the clearly grumpy Crosby on 'Version 1' of "Goin' Back" in the Bonus Tracks with what sounds like a Mike Oldfield type Glockenspiel in the mix not present in the released version...and "Triad" is fantastic stuff.

The Byrds left behind a sizeable back catalogue where ridiculously shiny jewels like "Notorious" can get 'overlooked'. Remove that inner bummer and began your 'space odyssey' here. And remember kids – take a tip from a speckled Byrd and stay away from that 'Artificial Energy' speeding stuff (Red Bull, Snickers Bars and the like)...

"Santana: The Woodstock Experience" by SANTANA (2009 Columbia/Legacy 2CD with Vic Anesini Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...




"…Go Out And Make It Better…"

Sometimes you forget how good an album is. Always trumped by the artistic and commercial leap forward "Abraxas" their 2nd LP made in 1970 - Santana's self-titled debut is that astonishing thing - a great record that also introduces an entirely different kind of music - Latin Rock. And this clever tie-in with the iconic "Woodstock Festival" in 1969 gives me a good excuse to indulge yet again...

Released July 2009 - "Santana: The Woodstock Experience" by SANTANA on Columbia/Legacy 88697 48242 2 (Barcode 886974824220) is a 2CD set that lumps together the band's September 1969 debut album "Santana" (37:10 minutes) with a new disc - "Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Saturday, August 16, 1969". Both are in 5" oversized card repro sleeves - each with a different sepia-feel inner bag containing recorded details and reissue credits. There is also a gorgeous two-sided foldout poster with Santana live at the 1969 event on one side and a colour crowd shot on the other. It's all housed in an equally pretty card slipcase (see PS below for a list of all releases in this excellent commemorative series).

Disc 1 (37:10 minutes):
1. Waiting
2. Evil Ways
3. Shades Of Time
4. Savor
5. Jingo
6. Persuasion
7. Treat
8. You Just Don’t Care
9. Soul Sacrifice
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut album “Santana” – released August 1969 in the USA on Columbia CS 9781 and November 1969 in the UK on CBS Records S 63015. The CD uses a VIC ANESINI remaster (he also mastered Disc 2 from 8-track tapes).

Disc 2 – "Recorded Live At The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Saturday, August 16, 1969" (45:39 minutes):
1. Waiting
2. Evil Ways
3. You Just Don't Care
4. Savor
5. Jingo
6. Persuasion
7. Soul Sacrifice
8. Fried Neck Bones And Some Home Fries

The sexy and wild opening rhythms of "Waiting" sounds like music from another world - even now - while Carlos Santana's hair-raising guitar prowess soars over everything. It's followed by the hooky "Evil Ways" with Gregg Rolie giving it some vocal prowess. "Shades Of Time" and "Savor" allow Percussionists Jose Areas and Mike Carabello let rip while I've always thought "Treat" with its languid piano beginnings - guitar speed-up in the centre - back to Rolie's cool keyboard vibes to finish - is a masterpiece. The Funk-Rock of "You Just Don't Care" is great (love that guitar break at the end) while the LP finisher "Soul Sacrifice" has rightly been on countless "Best Of" CD anthologies across the decades.

Given its age and the circumstances in which it was recorded - the previously unreleased 'live set' from 16 August 1969 is fantastically good - way past crappy bootlegs of old. A month 'before' their debut album will hit the record shops and with ace fresh material in the bag - the band is on fire (even if the crowd seem stunned or tired). "Waiting", "Evil" and a screaming version of "Soul Sacrifice" - it's all so good. You also get to savour a song that is rarely if ever heard - "Fried Neck Bones And Some Home Fries" - very cool indeed. The whole thing is superb and Anesini has done a masterful job in the transfers.

You could obviously say that Sony has spotted yet another way to crassly milk a cultural event - but this release doesn't feel like that to me. It's beautifully done and a set of hip-shakers you need in your muddy living room real soon...

PS: the 5 titles in this series are:
1. Jefferson Airplane - uses the "Volunteers" album and has an 8-track live album recorded 17/8/69
2. Janis Joplin - uses the "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!" album and has a 10-track live album recorded 17/8/69
3. Santana - uses the "Santana" debut album and has an 8-track live album recorded Saturday 16/8/69
4. Sly & The Family Stone - uses the "Stand" album and has a 9-track live disc recorded 17/8/69

5. Johnny Winter - uses the "Johnny Winter" album and has an 8-track live disc recorded 17/8/69

"Caravanserai" by SANTANA (2003 Columbia/Legacy CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





"...Just In Time To See The Sun..."

The Latin-Rock of SANTANA took the world by storm back in the day - aided and abetted by a soaring appearance at the legendary Woodstock festival mere weeks before their debut appeared in September 1969 on Columbia Records in the USA and CBS Records in good old Blighty (see my review for "Santana: The Woodstock Experience"). September 1970's magisterial "Abraxas" soared to No. 1 in September 1970 and "Santana III" hit the top stop too in October of 1971.

But after patience stretching wig-outs with John McLaughlin and Buddy Miles in-between proper Santana studio albums - somehow the 'fizz' had gone off their sales by the time this deeply gorgeous and swirling Jazz Fusion LP arrived in October 1972. Even its eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing gatefold cover of far-away deserts and sun-drenched landscapes failed to get the public into a buying tizzy and it managed a more humble No. 8 on the US charts (No. 6 in the UK) compared to the genre-busting heights of its two predecessors.

But over the decades it's become a stone flower 'classic'. The trippy and largely instrumental "Caravanserai" has always been a fan's album – a less commercial affair than before and a sign of Carlos not wanting to rest of his laurels and stretch out musically – even if it meant fracturing his hugely successful band and the formula that won them those gold-discs. In fact I'd argue that in a long and amazing career that still clocks up huge sales to this day (2016) – their fourth studio set is something of an 'overlooked' nugget. And more importantly Bob Irwin and Vic Anesini's stunning remaster of it for Columbia has only made me slaver all over "Caravanserai" yet again. Here are the waves within (man)...

UK released October 2003 - "Caravanserai" by SANTANA on Columbia/Legacy 511128 2 (Barcode 5099751112822) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 1972 album and plays out as follows (51:33 minutes):

1. Eternal Caravan Of Reincarnation
2. Waves Within
3. Look Up (To See What's Coming Down)
4. Just In Time To See The Sun
5. Song Of The Wind
6. All The Love In The Universe
7. Future Primitive [Side 2]
8. Stone Flower
9. La Fuente Del Ritmo
10. Every Step Of The Way
Tracks 1 to 10 are their fourth studio album "Caravanserai" - released October 1972 in the USA on Columbia KC 31610 and November 1972 in the UK on CBS Records S 65299. Produced by CARLOS SANTANA and MICHAEL SHRIEVE - it peaked at No. 8 in the USA and No. 6 in the UK LP charts.

The 10-leaf foldout inlay has excellent liner notes from HAL MILLER with quotes from original Producer Michael Shrieve – the 'Metaphysical Meditations' quotation that was on the inner gatefold of original vinyl LPs as well as track-by-track musician credits and a half decent colour representation of that gorgeous artwork. Even the Columbia CD matches the original LP label and there’s a picture of that distant camel train beneath the see-through CD tray.

But the big news is a new BOB IRWIN and VIC ANESINI CD Remaster. These guys did the transfers at Sony’s Studios in New York and ANESINI in particular is a name I've sung the praises of before. He’s handled very prestigious SONY catalogue – Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carole King, Janis Joplin, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Nilsson, Paul Simon, Mountain, Lou Reed, Roy Orbison, Santana, Mott The Hoople and The Jayhawks to name but a few. Clean – full of presence and warmth – this thing is a joy to listen too – and after years of clicking through quite passages of tinkling cymbals and rattling congas on my trusty old vinyl original – the audio here is a welcome revelation...

"Caravanserai" opens with a crickets-chirping fade in – Percussion provided by James Mango Lewis and Carlos Santana as Hadley Caliman does those strangulated but Sahara-atmospheric Saxophone notes – Neal Schon (later with Journey) handling the Guitar. Then suddenly we get Tom Rutley on Acoustic Bass and Wendy Haas giving it some echoing electric Piano and we’re off into a different set of Santana waters. That segues into "Waves Within" where Carlos takes over the Lead Guitar and we become immediately aware of another integral hero of the band - Gregg Rolie's presence on Organ anchoring the whole soaring fusion piece. Things Funk Up big time with "Look Up (To See What's Coming Down)" - like Carlos has discovered his inner Sly Stone - a fantastic groove with the whole band cooking. Introducing unconvincing vocals into "Just In Time To See The Sun" kind of ruins an otherwise great groove - but all that is that is flattened by what has to be an all-time fave-crave for Santana fans - the magical "Song Of The Wind". Rolie's organ fades in six-minutes of sublime guitar work by the duo of Santana and Schon with stunning rhythm section support coming off James Lewis and Mike Shrieve. Even now it makes me weepy and reminds me of why I love Santana so much - that 'sound' he gets when he plays and really lets go. Side 1 ends with the Carlos Santana/Neil Schon penned "All The Love Of The Universe" where they and Mingo Lewis share vocals on probably the most 'boppy' number on the album (not the best in my opinion).

Side 2 opens with the spacey "Future Primitive" - floating keyboard notes are soon joined by a frantic Bongo and Conga combination from Jose "Chepito" Areas and James Mingo Lewis - whacking those percussion instruments like they're playing live at a festival and the crowd are cheering them on. Latin superstar Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote "Stone Flower" - the most overtly Latin song on the LP and a fabulous groove of guitars and keyboards. James Mango Lewis penned another fave of mine - the frenzied Salsa and Latin rhythms of "La Fuente Del Ritmo" - all musicians mixing perfectly with Carlos and Neal on dual guitars as James Mingo Lewis keeps it anchored with Acoustic Piano while Tom Coster solos on the Electric Piano - bit of a showstopper this. It ends with "Every Step Of The Way" - eight and half minutes of the Santana Band building up and then letting rip on everything - Guitars, Keyboards, Flute and Percussion. It's sexy and slightly dangerous rhythms are a perfect way to finish the LP...and along with "Song Of The Wind" is another instrumental highlight on an album that contains many...

In some respects it's kind of impossible to categorize "Caravanserai" - but isn't that cool – I loved it then for that and I love it still.

In the eternal caravan of repackaging (if you'll forgive the pun) - I'm quite certain we'll get yet another format in the future - another way to squeeze even more nuances out of this tasty desert-dish. But in the meantime - Legacy's superb CD Remaster of "Caravanserai" is available online for peanuts - cheaper than a camel train nosebag and highly unlikely to spit on you when things get a little hot under the collar as you air-guitar around your living room with a tennis racquet.

Enter here for the 'bosom of infinite joy' people...and as my wife well knows... I’m up for the 'bosom of infinite' anything...

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