Thursday, 21 August 2014

"Kiln House" by FLEETWOOD MAC (2013 Japan-Only SHM-CD Reissue and Remaster in Mini LP Repro Artwork) - A Review by Mark Barry...








"...I’ll Tell You All The Things I Do..." 

There's been a version of "Kiln House" floating around on US and German CD reissue since the late Eighties (the UK CD wasn't released until February 1993). But apart from a couple of tracks on "The Chain" box set from 1992 - it's never been given the full remaster treatment it deserves - until now.

"Kiln House" by FLEETWOOD MAC was issued in Japan-only on Warner Brothers/Reprise WPCR-14580 (Barcode: 4943674121175) on the 4 September 2013. Running to 34:32 minutes - it's a SHM-CD (Super High Materials) and is presented in MINI LP REPRO ARTWORK - a hard-card repro sleeve of the original US gatefold LP (with Christine McVie's lovely hand-painted artwork). The album was originally released on Reprise Records RS 6408 in mid September 1970 in the USA and early October 1970 in the UK on Reprise Records RSLP 9004.

Very disappointing - and I suspect a major slip-up on the part of the usually scrupulous Japanese - is that it's missing the gatefold 'Penguin' mini-insert that came with original UK copies (it pictures the band in various funny poses). I have one and it's now a hugely collectable item when it comes to purchasing original vinyl of this album. The LP was re-issued in the UK in mid 1971 when Kinney Music kicked in on Reprise K 44165 but without the insert - so only original copies carried it. It's a small thing - but worth mentioning. What the Japanese have done is to produce the "Distinguished Company' inner advert bag that accompanied so many albums on Reprise and Warners at the time - advertising Mail-Order 2LPs sets called "Loss Leaders". The CD itself also reproduces the original Tan Riverboat Label design - nice attention to detail. The 12-page booklet has liner notes in Japanese and does reproduce the lyrics for the first time but nothing else. No pictures, no real details. The plastic wrap on the outside has the SHM-CD sticker on it and holds the OBI strip around the side of the repro sleeve.

SHM-CD does not need a special player - it's simply a better kind of CD formatted by Universal and JVC in Japan in 2008 (in fact they're now being superseded by Platinum SHM CD which is taking audiophiles by storm). It means that the disc picks up more nuances of the transfer and owning about 10 of them - even if the master is old or the same - the sound quality is invariably better. It's in the details - the bass, the drums, the little things you didn't hear before or were buried in the mix. There is warmth in this SHM-CD disc that is closest to that of the original vinyl.

1. This Is The Rock
2. Station Man
3. Blood On The Floor
4. Hi Ho Silver
5. Jewel Eyed Judy
6. Buddy’s Song [Side 2]
7. Earl Gray
8. One Together
9. Tell Me All The Things You Do
10. Mission Bell

From the moment it opens with the cod Rock 'n' Roll vibe of "This Is The Rock" you know you're in the presence of a remaster. The hiss level is definitely up but not to a point where it would detract - if anything the bass and drums are so much better for it. Then there's the fantastic "Station Man" (issued as a 7" single in the USA at the time) and its near six minutes in length feels like eight - but in a good way. The dueling guitars are so much more powerful now and the remaster is far better than the one that's on "The Chain" box set.

It's also at this point that you notice that there are two forces competing on the album. With Peter Green departed since "Then Play On" the year before - guitarists Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer took centre stage. Spencer was on his total retro Rock 'n' Roll tip so you get the almost bizarre Fifties feel of "Blood On The Floor" and he went as far as crediting "Buddy's Song" to Ella Holley - Buddy Holly's mother. Offsetting this is Danny Kirwan rocking like a mother and for me this is where the real Fleetwood Mac of the time is - on stunners like their jumping cover of Fats Waller's "Hi Ho Silver", the beautiful "Jewel Eyed Judy" and my all-time favourite - "Tell Me All The Things You Do" - the kind of nugget Paul Weller needs to cover pronto. I've put "Tell Me..." on so many 70's Fest compilations and every time I play it - it brings a customer to the counter (lyrics from it title this review). Kirwan's fabulous instrumental "Earl Gray" is a rival for "Albatross" for me - it turned up as an acoustic outtake called "Farewell" on the superb 3CD set  "Men Of The World - The Early Years" issued by Sanctuary in the UK in 2005. "One Together" is pleasant enough while the album finisher is an ok cover of "Mission Bell" (written by Jesse Hodges and William Michael and recorded by PJ Proby in 1965) sounding again not unlike bad Buddy Holly.

The album is a mixed bag for sure and ushered in a five-album wilderness years for the band until their Buckingham/Nicks rejuvenation in 1975 - but that hasn't stopped me from loving the rocking side of "Kiln House" to bits for 4 decades and more. It doesn't state who remastered what on either the CD or the packaging but the sound is great and for me worth the extra price these discs cost.

There was indeed something about 1970, 1971 and 1972 that seemed to produce so much greatness in Rock - and this little forgotten nugget deserves its place in that pantheon.

"Jewel Eyed Judy...please come home..." Well it has...

The albums in this 4 September 2013 Japanese-only FLEETWOOD MAC SHM-CD reissue series are:

1. "Kiln House" (1970) - Warner Brothers WPCR-14580
2. "Future Games" (1971) - Warner Brothers WPCR-14581
3. "Bare Trees" (1972) - Warner Brothers WPCR-14582
4. "Penguin" (1973) - Warner Brothers WPCR-14583
5. "Mystery To Me" (1974) - Warner Brothers WPCR-14584
6. "Heroes Are Hard To Find" (1974) - Warner Brothers WPCR-14585

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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