Saturday, 26 December 2009

"Original Album Classics" by ARGENT [feat Rod Argent] (2009 Epic/Legacy 5CD Mini Box Set Of Remasters/Card Repro Sleeves) - A Review by Mark Barry...



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"…A Man Who's Lost…He's Alone…He Bears The Cost…" 

Hardly the most beautiful of objects to behold – five skinny singular Repro Album Sleeves slotted into an outer hard card box with zero info other than track lists. Still – it does at least bring together Rod Argent’s best music from the Seventies in one usable lump (and it sounds pretty damn good too). Unfortunately this particular Box Set in Sony's ongoing series of 5/3CD album reissue sets has been deleted many years now and subsequently acquired a bit of a price tag. So here are the details, tragedies and the heads held up…

Released March 2009 - "Original Album Classics" by ARGENT is a 5CD Mini Box Set on Epic/Legacy 88697445472 and breaks down as follows...

Disc 1 is "Argent" (40:39 minutes):
1. Like Honey
2. Liar
3 Be Free
4. Schoolgirl
5. Dance In The Smoke
5. Lonely Hard Road [Side 2]
6. The Feeling Is Inside
7. Freefall
8. Stepping Stones
9. Bring You Joy
Tracks 1 to 10 are their debut album issued in 1970 in the UK on CBS S 63781 and in the USA on Epic BN 26525

Disc 2 is "Ring Of Hands" (42:52 minutes):
1. Celebration
2. Sweet Mary
3. Cast Your Spell Uranus
4. Lothiorien
5. Chained [Side 2]
6. Rejoice
7. Pleasure
8. Sleep Won’t Help Me
9. Where Are We Going Wrong
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 2nd album issued in 1971 in the UK on Epic S 64190 and on Epic KE 30128

Disc 3 is "All Together Now" (41:42 minutes)"
1. Hold Your Head Up (Album Version)
2. Keep On Rollin’
3. Tragedy (Album Version)
4. I Am The Dance Of Ages
5. Be My Lover, Be My Friend [Side 2]
6. He’s A Dynamo
7. Pure Love: (i) Fantasia (ii) Prelude (iii) Pure Love (iv) Finale
Tracks 1 to 7 are their 3rd album issued in April 1972 in the UK on Epic S EPC 64962 and in the USA on Epic KE 31556

Disc 4 is "In Deep" (45:24 minutes):
1. God Gave Rock And Roll To You
2. It’s Only Money (Part 1)
3. It’s Only Money (Part 2)
4. Losing Hold
5. Be Glad [Side 2]
6. Christmas For The Free
7. Candles On The River
8. Rosie
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 4th album issued in 1973 in the UK on Epic S EPC 65475 and in the USA on Epic KE 32195

Disc 5 is "Nexus" (42:10 minutes):
1. The Coming Of Kohoutek
2. Once Around The Sun
3. Infinite Wanderer
4. Love
5. Music From The Spheres
6. Thunder And Lightning [Side 2]
7. Keeper Of The Flame
8. Man For All Reasons
9. Gonna Meet My Maker
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 5th album issued in 1974 in the UK on Epic S EPC 65924 and in the USA on Epic KE 32573

Each card repro is a single sleeve - the UK gatefold artwork for "Argent", "Ring Of Hands" and "All Together Now" (including its 4-page insert) is NOT reproduced on these issues; while the "Nexus" title uses the 'US' artwork, which is different to the UK issue. However, Sony/Legacy has the full details and booklets for each title downloadable from www.musicmadesimple.info

As you can see from the song numbers listed above, none of the CDs contain extra tracks - in particular the 7" single edits of "Hold Your Head Up" and "God Gave Rock And Roll To You" or the unique US mixes of their first 2 singles "Liar" and "Rejoice". You have to buy those separately and they're all available on a USA 2008 18-track Epic CD compilation called "Greatest - The Singles Collection" (it's also available via an iTunes download).

It doesn't say who's remastered what or where, but the sound is good overall - superb in some places ("All Together Now") - but unfortunately only mediocre in others. For instance, "In Deep" and "Nexus" got lumped together as 2 albums on one CD a few years ago which received bad reviews - in particular to do with its mastering (some even suggesting that vinyl was used). That's not the case on these versions of those two albums - tracks like "Losing You" from "In Deep" and "Once Around The Sun" and "Man For All Reasons" from "Nexus" (lyrics above) all have quite patches in them - but there's no clicking or popping here. What there is a certain kind of top-end muddiness - I think it's inherent to the way they were recorded. I'm afraid I've found a lot of Legacy issues like this (not all of course) - they're good - but hardly great.

And in that Seventies progressive kind of a way, some of the music is of course horribly dated too, but other portions of it (especially the excellent first 2 albums) is truly superb 70's rock well worth re-discovering.

Overall - a fairly good way of acquiring now quite pricey albums on original vinyl - and a revelatory jaunt down a not-so-familiar rock path... 

PS: Other artists in the “ORIGINAL ALBUM CLASSICS” Series are [FIVE DISC SETS]…
1.    The Allman Brothers Band
2.    Jeff Beck
3.    George Benson
4.    Big Audio Dynamite
5.    Blood, Sweat & Tears
6.    Blue Oyster Cult
7.    Pierre Boulez
8.    The Brecker Brothers
9.    The Byrds
10. Johnny Cash
11. Cheap Trick
12. Stanley Clarke
13. Cypress Hill
14. Miles Davis
15. Duke Ellington
16. Earth, Wind & Fire
17. Agnetha Faltskog [Frida of Abba]
18. Rory Gallagher
19. Hall & Oates
20. The Isley Brothers [see REVIEW]
21. The Jacksons
22. Jefferson Airplane
23. Jefferson Starship
24. Judas Priest
25. Kansas
26. Carole King
27. Kris Kristofferson
28. Mario Lanza
29. The Mahavishnu Orchestra
30. Henri Mancini
31. John McLaughlin
32. Thelonious Monk
33. Mott The Hoople
34. Willie Nelson
35. Harry Nilsson
36. Ted Nugent
37. Dolly Parton
38. Poco
39. Prefab Sprout
40. Elvis Presley
41. The Psychedelic Furs
42. Lou Reed
43. Lou Reed Vol.2
44. Sonny Rollins
45. Santana Box 1
46. Santana Box 2
47. Joe Satriani
48. Nina Simone
49. Lonnie Liston Smith
50. Patti Smith
51. Smokie
52. The Stranglers
53. Steve Vai
54. Various - Carols For Christmas
55. Various – The Joys Of Christmas
56. Weather Report
57. John Williams

PPS: 2010 sees the introduction of THREE DISC SETS in the Series from…
1.    Jennifer Brown
2.    Agnetha Faltskog [Frida of Abba]
3.    Fleetwood Mac
4.    Journey
5.    Scorpions
6.    Simon & Garfunkel
7.    The Walker Brothers

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