Thursday, 6 October 2016

"Aladdin Sane: 40th Anniversary Edition" by DAVID BOWIE (2013 EMI CD - Ray Staff, Kevin Reeve and Jo Blair Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...He Screams And He Bawls…"

Bowie fans have had their fair share of reissue rehashes - 'Anniversary' markers on Seventies Classics that crassly milk an endless reservoir of affection. Yawns and sighs can only have greeted the announcement of yet another. But that is until you actually 'hear' this astonishing 2013 audio overhaul.

Hot on the heels of a 20th and 30th Anniversary CD remaster of Bowie's "Aladdin Sane" (both with bonus tracks) - here comes a straightforward transfer of the 1973 LP in April 2013 as a '40th Anniversary' reissue (41:47 minutes). This time it's been done in conjunction with David Bowie.com and remaster engineer RAY STAFF - assisted by Kevin Reeve and Jo Blair who co-ordinated the project for EMI. Kevin Reeve is a name familiar to me - his credentials have popped up many times when I'm trawling for quality remasters. Reeve has in fact done large swathes of much-praised reissues for Universal (see my Tag for their "Originals" series). But the aural hero this time is one RAY STAFF - who needs to be put on DB's staff retainer-list right away. What a job he's done. His name was always Buddy and here are the painted-face details...

1. Watch That Man
2. Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-19??)
3. Drive-In Saturday
4. Panic In Detroit
5. Cracked Actor
6. Time
7. The Prettiest Star
8. Let’s Spend The Night Together
9. The Jean Genie
10. Lady grinning Soul

Released on CD April 2013 - "Aladdin Sane: 40th Anniversary Edition" by DAVID BOWIE is on EMI DBAS 40 (Barcode 5099993447423) and reproduces the April 1973 UK/USA vinyl LP packaging of RCA Records RS 1001. The 5" gatefold repro card cover even goes as far as the inner lyric sleeve - and a very nice touch indeed is a tiny facsimile of the rare I Love You David Fan-Club Invite that came with original copies of the LP (a 55p postal order and fandom was yours). Even the CD label reflects the original yellow RCA Records label. It's tastefully done. But the real fireworks comes with the stunning remaster...

The second you play the opening song "Watch That Man" - this sonic overhaul makes mincemeat of those that went before. But it's not until you hear the fabulous piano playing of MIKE GARSON on "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)" that your jaw drops. As others have commented - it feels like he's in the room - it's a true audio revelation. Bowie then gets vaudeville funky with Twig The Wonder Kid on "Drive In Saturday" while the wonderful MICK RONSON gives us some Glam Rock swagger guitar on "Panic In Detroit" (T.J. Bolder's Bass is so clear too).

The lyrics of "Time" still have the power to shock - as does the superb melody of the "Lie Lie Lie" sing-a-long chorus. Once again Ronson's guitar leaps out at you on "The Prettiest Star". And I cannot get enough of Bowie's fantastic remake of The Rolling Stones "Let's Spend The Night Together" - a rollicking guitar fest - and just what the album needed at that point on Side 2 ("...our love comes from above..."). Thinking it can't get any better - it does - "The Jean Genie" is still a huge fan favourite to this day. It ends on more piano clarity on "Lady Grinning Soul".

In the same way that STEVE WILSON has revitalised the JETHRO TULL and YES catalogues - I'm pretty certain Bowie fans want this nice RAY STAFF geezer set loose on those other nuggets. Let's hope we don't have to wait another bloody decade to see his catalogue finally be given the respect it so obviously deserves...

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