I ripped the shrink-wrap off this sucker with the glee of a piranha that hasn't eaten for three weeks as a baby elephant unwisely decides to take a nice bath in the 'river'. I've loved Terry Reid's third album and Atlantic Records debut with a passion for near 45 years - so the idea that a whole sixty-minute CD's worth of outtakes and unheard songs from these sessions existed was always going to test my pacemaker to the limit.
Details first - Future Days Recordings are part of 'Light In The Attic Records' group (with a Rhino association on this release) - a hugely respected American reissue label that has brought the world fabulous reissues of forgotten meisterworks by people like Michael Chapman, Betty Davis, Big Jim Sullivan, Bobby Whitlock, Karen Dalton, Kris Kristofferson and their big baby - Rodriguez (see my reviews for most of these artists and the Rodriguez film "Searching For Sugar Man"). Produced for release by experts PAT THOMAS and MARK BLOCK (they've also provided the superlative song-by-song liner notes) - the material has been licensed from Rhino and the analogue original tapes Researched by BILL INGLOT and MIKE JOHNSON, Multi-Track Mixing by BRIAN KEHEW with the final Remaster carried out by JOHN BALDWIN at John Baldwin Mastering.
USA and UK released Friday, 20 May 2016 - "The Other Side Of The River" by TERRY REID on Future Days Recordings/Rhino Custom Products FDR 629 (Barcode 826853062923) is a 11-track CD compilation offering six never-before-heard outtakes and five Alternate Versions of songs from the "River" sessions recorded in 1973 in two countries. EDDIE OFFORD (associated with Yes, ELP and Taste) recorded and produced the initial sessions in London (Advision and Olympic Studios) followed by TOM DOWD in Miami and Los Angeles (famously produced huge swathes of the Atlantic Records catalogue including Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin). All are Previously Unreleased and play out as follows (61:03 minutes):
1. Let's Go Down - Previously Unreleased Song
Features Bassist LEE MILES from the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, Drummer ALAN WHITE of YES and Guitarist DAVID LINDLEY (ex Kaleidoscope)
2. Avenue (F Boogie) - Previously Unreleased Alternate Take
London recording taken by Tom Dowd in the USA and overdubbed with the Ike & Tina Turner singers THE IKETTES
3. Things To Try – Previously Unreleased Alternate Take
Features Terry on Acoustic and David Lindley on Electric Guitar
4. Country Brazilian Funk - Previously Unreleased Song
Features Lee Miles, Terry Reid on Vocals and Gilberto Gil's 'The Brazilians' play Percussion
5. River - Previously Unreleased Alternate Take
Features Lee Miles, Terry Reid on Vocals and Latin Percussionist Willie Bobo
6. Listen With Eyes - Previously Unreleased Song
Features Lee Miles on Bass, Terry Reid on Acoustic and Willie Bobo on Percussion
7. Anyway - Previously Unreleased Alternate Take
Features Alan White of Yes on Piano - no Vocals
8. Celtic Melody - Previously Unreleased Song
Acoustic Instrumental recorded in London
9. Funny - Previously Unreleased Alternate Take
Features David Lindley on Pedal Steel Guitar and is one-minute longer than the version that turned up in 2006
10. Late Night Idea - Previously Unreleased Song
Recorded in Hollywood by Tom Dowd - Terry Reid on Steinway piano alone
11. Sabyla - Previously Unreleased Song
Features Lee Miles on Piano and Terry Reid on Lead Guitar
The gatefold card sleeve comes with a fab 16-page booklet featuring PAT THOMAS and MATT BLOCK liner notes. Entitled 'Many Rivers To Cross' – the prelude essay gives a potted history on Terry's career and hassles with Mickey Most's two-album lock down at the beginning of his career. But the details excel in the song by-song breakdowns (I've filled out the entries above from these). There are four photos of Advision and Olympic Sound Studios tape boxes and a snap on the front cover of Terry looking like a vagrant needing a good wash, a haircut and a real job. Odd though that the centre gatefold is blank - no photos guys?
The AUDIO is fantastic – the whole thing feeling like a well-recorded yet ramshackle Rolling Stones session – people feeling for a song – for a vibe – trying things out. It isn't all genius for damn sure but for lovers of the album "The Other Side Of The River" is going to be a thrill ride they will need in their life. And there's also a tangible sense of pride and excitement from the FDR compilers as well as Terry's amazed and bemused involvement with something that happened over 40 years ago (his comments feature a lot in the notes).
"Let's Go Down" was apparently a spontaneous jam and is probably the most exciting Rock track on the CD – a fabulous kicker of a song with amazing Production values and the band making every instrument wail and howl (Violin, Guitar and Brass). At 6:48 minutes – it's a very cool opening. Just as good is the Alternate of "Avenue" which features The Ikettes to stunning effect - making you wonder why they weren't included on the finished album version. But for me the goose bumps race up the arms on "Things To Try" - a more chilled version with amazing Production values as the acoustic guitars and drums assault your speakers (that gutteral vocal clear and powerful). "Country Brazilian Funk" is just odd - a six-hundred mile-an-hour guitar driven piece of drum battering that must have been fun to record but feels out of place with the mellow of the original album. Far better is the spoken count-in 'one-two...you know what to do...' to an Alternate "River" - a gorgeous ambler with beautifully clear Bass and Acoustic and a sexy vocal from Reid (feels like Santana on a chill with a great singer at the mike). The unissued "Listen With Eyes" again has that Jose Feliciano Latin acoustic guitar feel - a laid-back ballad with Willie Bobo guesting - very, very nice.
Some wonderful geezer studio chatter precedes the acoustic strum of "Anyway" and with Alan White's lovely barrelhouse piano complimenting the background - it already feels like a classic Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance beauty that you know you're going to love forever. He hums half way through (instead of lyrics) and it’s a crying shame there isn't a take with finished words (gorgeous stuff and 5:41 minutes long). "Celtic Melody" is only 1:35 minutes and consist mainly of hissy stops and starts on the Acoustic - but it shows his creative process - just playing and as his comments in the liner notes confirm - just 'making s*** up' as he went along. Back to the real deal with a fabulous Alternate "Funny" that runs to a whopping 8:06 minutes - apparently a minute longer than the mix that turned up on the 2006 CD compilation. He lets rip with that amazing voice as the acoustic and soft guitars keep it very mellow in-between. "Late Night Idea" is an accident - a work in progress never completed. Recording at Wally Heider's studio in Hollywood - Terry came upon a Steinway Grand piano and with Dowd letting the tapes roll - he sat down and played this intimate amble. It ends on "Sabyla" – an aimless meandering piano and guitar instrumental that the liner notes contend could have been a 70ts TV show theme (with a lot of a polish boys maybe).
So there you have it – "The Other Side Of The River" by Terry Reid is not all brill by any stretch - but man those good bits have me knobbling at the knees. And at my age I'm glad to be knobbling at anything...