Tuesday, 15 November 2016

"Old Socks, New Shoes...New Socks, Old Shoes" by THE JAZZ CRUSADERS (2008 Universal 'Originals' Digipak CD Reissue - Kevin Reeves Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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"…Way Back Home…"

Nearly ten years after their formation in 1961 - Jazz Funk maestros THE CRUSADERS were still holding on to the word 'JAZZ' in their band title when they went seriously funky for their new decade debut LP on Chisa Records - the quirkily titled "Old Socks, New Shoes...New Socks, Old Shoes" (Chisa CS 804, July 1970).

Both "Old Socks, New Shoes…" and their rare 2nd album follow-up "Pass The Plate" (Chisa Records CS 807, May 1971) are available as part of Universal's 'Originals' Series of CD Reissues. And that's where this cheap but oh-so-cheerful Reissue/Remaster comes partying in. 

As already noted "Old Socks, New Shoes..." is part of Universal’s 'Originals' Reissue Series of CDs - Soul, Funk, Fusion, Latin and Jazz albums culled from Universal's huge array of labels stretching back to the Fifties. Each comes in a foldout card digipak that apes the original LP artwork and all are pitched at mid price. Many titles are first-time-on-CD and all are remastered from original source tapes by Top Universal engineers - names that audio collectors will know like Kevin Reeves, Gary Moore, Suha Gur, Gavin Lurssen, Ellen Fitton and Erick Labson. Here are the varying shoes sizes…

UK released July 2008 (April 2008 in the USA) - "Old Socks, New Shoes...New Socks, Old Shoes" by THE JAZZ CRUSADERS on Universal/Verve/Chisa 0602517654365 (Barcode 602517654365) is a straightforward 10-track transfer of the album (42:16 minutes).

1. Thank You
2. Funny Shuffle
3. Why Do You Laugh At Me?
4. Jackson!
5. Rainy Night in Georgia
6. Golden Slumbers [Side 2]
7. Jazz!
8. Time Has No Ending
9. Hard Times
10. Way Back Home
Tracks 1 to 4 and 8 written by Wayne Henderson, Track 5 is a Tony Joe White cover version, Track 6 is a Beatles cover version, Track 7 written by Joe Sample, Track 9 is a Paul Mitchell cover version and Track 10 written by Wilton Felder.

Produced by STEWART LEVINE - "Old Socks, New Shoes...New Socks, Old Shoes" was released July 1970 in the USA on Chisa Records CS 804 and October 1971 in the UK on Rare Earth Records SRE 3001(it was the first LP released on the Rare Earth Records label in the UK).

THE JAZZ CRUSADERS was:
JOE SAMPLE - Keyboards
WILTON FELDER - Saxophones
WAYNE HENDERSON - Trombones
NESBERT "STIX" HOOPER - Drums & Percussion
Guests:
ARTHUR ADAMS – Guitar
FREDDIE ROBINSON – Guitar

Originally produced by STEWART LEVINE to great effect - this 2008 CD reissue is a straightforward copy of that album (gatefold sleeve and all). Experienced and long-standing Engineer KEVIN REEVES has carried out the Remaster at Universal Mastering Studios and the sound quality is fabulous - funky, clear and muscular - just what's needed. The tri-gatefold card digipak (with an 'Originals' logo on the left) reproduces the original foldout artwork of the vinyl LP (the boys laughing at a table) - but there's nothing by way of liner notes or history, which is a damn shame (the same for most of these 'Originals' reissues I'm afraid – no booklets at this price).

Side 1 opens strongly with four in a row from Trombone genius Wayne Henderson - "Thank You" as Funky as anything the JB's could drum up - a stunning groove Chisa should have used as a lead-off 45. Instead they went for the combo of "Way Back Home" b/w "Jackson!" on Chisa C 8010 in September 1970 but it sank without a trace despite the strength of both sides. No other sevens came off the LP – but despite that – the public was digging the band’s new cooler direction and rewarded the LP with a No. 12 position on the US R&B charts with an overall stay of an impressive 31 weeks.

The opening drums and bass combo of "Funny Shuffle" is incredibly clear and punchy - a fab little Jazz Funk bopper that would liven up any hipster's Saturday Night party. The Tony Joe White and Beatles melodies of "Rainy Night in Georgia" and Abbey Road's "Golden Slumbers" are pretty and you can understand why any serious musician would be drawn to them like a moth to a warm flame - but oddly The Crusaders versions are borderline cheesy for me and a mistake I think. Joe sample's "Jazz!" is the wildest track on here - even sporting a mini drum solo - but again - it's kind of indulgent. Wayne Henderson's gorgeous ballad "Time Has No Ending" is a highlight here while the Paul Mitchell "Hard Times" cover jaunts along nicely too. Far better though is the superb closer - Wilton Felder's "Way Back Home" - a brothers-are-struttin' down the street cool groove that slinks along like Mister Cool in his wide-brimmed hat thinking he owns the joint (and he probably does).

"Old Socks, New Shoes..." is typical of so many of The Crusaders Seventies LPs - funky Jazz-Soul with a wee bit of fusion thrown in and to this day the music is still cool, wonderfully slick and just so damn listenable. It's not all genius - but those ill-advised covers aside - this is a cracking but long-forgotten Jazz-Funk album I urge you to check out.

The Crusaders man - I never tire of them...

PS: I've also reviewed the following Crusaders CD reissues...
1. Pass The Plate (1971 LP)
2. Free As The Wind (1977 LP)
3. Images (1978 LP)
4. Street Life (1979 LP, Japanese SHM-CD)
5. Gold (2CD Anthology with superb Gavin Lurssen Remasters)
6. Rainbow Seeker by JOE SAMPLE (Solo LP on Japanese SHM-CD)

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