Wednesday, 20 August 2008

"C.C.S." by C.C.S. [feat Alexis Korner] (2000 Repertoire 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster in Artwork-Repro Digipak) - A Review by Mark Barry...




"…Spin Your Threads…Spider Of Forgetfulness…"

C.C.S. (short for COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS SOCIETY) made 3 studio albums and 7 singles for Mickie Most's RAK Records in the early Seventies, before the band finally split up in late 1973.

This fantastically clear-sounding Repertoire CD is the first of those three - their self-titled debut album remastered and supplemented with four relevant bonus tracks. The Digipak on this 'Expanded Edition' Reissue/Remaster CD mimics the album's original laminate gatefold artwork (a nice touch) and has an 8-page booklet with a CHRIS WELCH essay on the LP and the band's history. Here's a 'whole lotta love'...

Released April 2000 (reissued June 2002) - "C.C.S." by C.C.S on Repertoire REP 4851 (Barcode 4009910485125) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster in a Card Digipak and plays out as follows (54:34 minutes):

1. Boom Boom
2. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
3. Waiting Song
4. Looking For Fun
5. Whole Lotta Love
6. Living In The Past [Side 2]
7. Sunrise
8. Dos Cantos
9. Wade In The Water
Tracks 1 to 9 are the debut album "C.C.S." by C.C.S. - originally released October 1970 on Rak Records SRAK 6751 in the UK and issued later as "Whole Lotta Love" in the USA on Rak 30559 in April 1971

BONUS TRACKS (Non-Album Singles):
10. Walking
11. Salome
Tracks 10 and 11 UK issued February 1971 on RAK Records RAK 109 as a stand-alone 7" single. "Walking" is a DONOVAN cover version while "Salome" is a John Cameron and Alexis Korner original.
12. Tap Turns On The Water
13. Save The World
Tracks 12 and 13 UK issued August 1971 on RAK Records RAK 119 as a stand-alone 7" single. Both songs are Korner/Cameron originals.

The huge ensemble group was the brain-child of British Blues Boom Godfather ALEXIS KORNER who along with Danish singer PETER THORUP and British arranger JOHN CAMERON pulled together the cream of brass/flute-playing session-men of the time and went after the BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS market for funked-up rock. Mickie Most's timing couldn't have been better. Deciding right from the start to include cover versions ala B, S & T, they did a fantastic brassed-up take on Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" that not only complimented the original, but also defined that "CCS" sound. So when the new BBC pop program "Top Of The Pops" needed a cool new theme song, they took this winner, dropped the flute intro and the vocal middle and end - and a theme song legend was born.

Even now, I can remember vividly as a budding teenager watching Top Of The Pops on a Thursday night (for what seemed literally like years) and when that theme came on, a rush went through your veins! I dare say that experience was repeated all across the land and it's probably one of the reasons why CCS is held in such affection to this day. "Whole Lotta Love" came before "Walking" as their 1st 7" single issued in October 1970 on RAK 104 with their cover of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" on the B-side (both tracks are on the debut LP).

But the best bit is the SOUND. Repertoire re-issues are always good in my book, but this licensed-from-EMI remaster is exceptional. I'd expected wads of hiss, but the transfers are very clean - and given the amount of brass coming at you, muscular to a point where you have to sometimes reach for the volume control! Plus what also impresses is that there are a lot of quiet patches in between all the musical bluster in the songs and they sound lovely too - a really great job done.

Musically the album itself has been a treasure trove to me - the structure of the songs being complicated and therefore bear repeated listening and discovery. While I'm not overly mad about Thorup's vocals to be truthful, the gravel voice-over wonder that was Alexis Korner's larynx will always send a chill up my spine. A sadly, sadly missed man and God bless him wherever he may be. Their stabs at covers of Jethro Tull's "Living In The Past", The Stones' "Satisfaction" and John Lee Hooker's magical stop-start "Boom Boom" all impress - as does the swagger of the Traditional "Wade In The Water". Originals like "Waiting Song" "Lookin' For Fun" and "Sunrise" are superb too. But I've always loved "Dos Cantos" - an 8-minutes passage of pure C.C.S. melodrama and fun (lyrics from it title this review) - Korner's lyrics and menacing voice rattling around the speakers like some uncle you both love and don't trust!

When C.C.S folded, both Korner and Thorup teamed up with King Crimson's BOZ BURRELL and IAN WALLACE to form SNAPE who issued some albums in Europe. But my heart is with the fab C.C.S. on RAK Records. I’m biased of course because I've loved their albums since I was knee-high and I can say with certainty that this re-issue and its great remaster is superlative and highly recommended to those who love their Seventies Rock with a bit of balls and a sense of humour…

PS:
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For those who want more, their second album from 1972 also called "C.C.S." on the original vinyl (CCS II for CD purposes) is also available in this series - as is their 3rd and last album from 1973, "The Best Band In The Land". I've bought the other two also - and remastered with bonus tracks - they're the business too. I've also extensively reviewed Esoteric Recordings "Tap Turns On The Water: The C.C.S. Story" 2CD Anthology from 2013 which has equally stupendous audio quality...

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