Wednesday, 9 March 2011

"It Ain’t Gonna Be That Way – The Complete Smash Sessions" by CHARLIE RICH. A Review Of The 2011 Ace Records CD Compilation.

"…Who Is The Coolest Guy…"

Mercury Records of the USA released a CD compilation by Charlie Rich called “The Complete Smash Sessions” in 1992 – I’ve had it a while now to have the music. This new 28 February 2011 reissue CD by Ace Records of the UK is that 29-song US title with a slightly re-jiggered track list. But the real reason for fan-joy here is that Rich’s truly great musical content has finally gotten the superior remastered sound its always deserved (and a nicely expanded booklet too).

Let’s get to the details first because there’s a lot - Ace CDCHD 1298 (69:34 minutes) will allow you to sequence his 2 Sixties albums on Smash Records as follows:

“The Many New Sides Of Charlie Rich”, 1965 USA LP on Smash MGS-27070 [Mono] and SRS-67070 [Stereo]

Side 1:
1. Mohair Sam [9]
2. I Can't Go On [7]
3. Dance Of Love [8]
4. A Field Of Yellow Daisies [15]
5. I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water [20]
6. Everything I Do Is Wrong [11]
Side 2:
1. She's A Yum Yum [24]
2. It Ain't Gonna Be That Way [1]
3. Just A Little Bit Of You [4]
4. Moonshine Minnie [26]
5. Down And Out [21]
6. Lonely Weekends [A Smash Re-Recording Of His 1960 Hit on Phillips] [28]

“The Best Years”, 1966 USA LP on Smash MGS-27078 [Mono] and SRS-67078 [Stereo]

Side 1:
1. No Home [6]
2. So Long [16]
3. The Best Years [14]
4. Party Girl [2]
5. You Can Have Her [19]
6. Have I Stayed Away Too Long [12]
Side 2:
1. Hawg Jaw [27]
2. Something Just Came Over Me [5]
3. Double Dog Dare Me [25]
4. Just A Little Bit Of Time [17]
5. Blowin' Town [18]
6. Tear's A Go-Go [13]

The remaining 5 tracks are made up of the following:
“Man About Town” [10], “Let The Party Roll On” [22] and “Santa Claus’ Daughter” [29] were all previously unreleased outtakes which first appeared on the American 1992 compilation mentioned above - while “That’s My Way” [3] and “When My Baby Comes Home” [23] are the non-album A & B-sides of a 1966 USA 7” single on Smash 2060.

As you can see from the above LPs, they were issued in ‘both’ Mono and Stereo – this CD uses only the STEREO mixes on ALL tracks except 3 on the 2nd LP – “Party Girl”, “Just A Little Bit Of Time” and “Hawg Jaw” – these are Mono mixes.

The original US booklet was a barely illustrated skimpy 8-pages in black and white – here we get 16-pages with both album sleeves featured in full colour plates, pictured US 7” singles (stock and demo), trade newspaper reviews and black & white publicity and family photos. It’s very nicely done and features knowledgeable and affectionate liner notes by renowned British writer and music lover DEAN RUDLAND.

The remastered sound is by NICK ROBBINS at Sound Mastering in London and the difference is HUGE. Think Sixties Presley meets Roy Orbison on Monument - catchy tunes with top production values.
Best sound ever is on the fantastically hip “Mohair Sam” (lyrics above), the lovely ballad “A Field Of Yellow Daisies” (written by his wife Margaret Ann) and the jaunty piano of “She’s A Yum Yum” is so clear now too. The low down and gritty “I Washed My Hands In Muddy Waters” is the kind of Bluesy Sixties song I adore - can’t get enough of it.

Then we get what I consider to be a genuine Sixties masterpiece – “It Ain’t Gonna Be That Way”. I play this sucker to death – and it sounds just awesome here. The Monkees-pop-vibe of “Just A Little Bit Of You” has fantastic audio too – even if he does ape Roy Orbison’s growl on the chorus. “Down And Out” is as ludicrously catchy as a Sixties’ tune gets – just great - while “Something Just Came Over Me” is near-perfect pop.

And as if this isn’t riches' enough, the 3 outtakes are all uptempo crackers – a cover of Joe South’s “Let The Party Roll”, a cover of William Young’s “Man About Town” and a happy bopper from his wife Margaret Ann – “Santa Claus’ Daughter”. The B-side of “That’s My Way” is the rare but brilliant “When My Baby Comes” and it will be gracing a cool 60ts comp of mine as soon as possible.

Niggles – the 3 mono mixes are a puzzle – I say this because the original 1992 US CD doesn't even hightlight them as such (at least the Ace title does) - but where are the 'Stereo' versions of these 3 tracks? But these are minor irritations on a CD that has genuinely put a smile on my weary mug.

To sum up – this is a brilliant and timely reissue. Charlie Rich had the voice, he wrote most of the songs and he even looked the part – yet it would take the Seventies and his Silver Fox Country ballads period before he finally got the credit he so obviously deserved. Charlie Rich (like Eden Kane and Terry Reid) is the kind of artist who needs rediscovery – and this CD is a superb starting block.

A fabulous job-done by Ace (yet again) and already one of my reissues of 2011.

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