Monday, 30 November 2020

"Original Album Classics" by PATTI SMITH GROUP – Featuring Five Albums on Arista Records - "Horses" (1975), "Radio Ethiopia" (1976), "Easter" (1978), "Wave" (1979) and "Dream Of Life" (1988) – featuring Producers and Arrangers John Cale, Jimmy Iovine, Todd Rundgren, Tom Verlaine, Scott Litt and Fred Smith with Musicians Lenny Kaye, Richard Sohl, Ivan Kral, Bruce Brody, Jay Dee Daugherty, Fred Smith and more (October 2008 UK Sony/Arista/Legacy 5CD Hard Card Capacity Wallet with Mini LP Artwork Card Sleeves – Each Album With 1996 Bob Irwin Remasters and Bonuses) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...A Sea Of Possibilities..."

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There are a wad of 5CD capacity wallets (that's what they're technically calling them nowadays) in Sony's 'Original Album Classics" series of mini box sets - and quite a few 3CD variants as well. But some just stick out better than most - Johnny Winter, Shuggie Otis, Sly & The Family Stone, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac in the 3CD issues, etc. 

And so it is with the mighty Patti Smith. Armed with 1996 Remasters by Bob Irwin and Bonuses on all five CDs - you have to say that this 2008 Legacy reissue with its dinky mini LP artwork card sleeves and tasty purchase price has it nailed to the urinated river on every front. Let's get at the details 'cause there's a wave of them...

UK released 13 October 2008 - "Original Album Classics" by PATTI SMITH on Sony/Arista/Legacy 88697313832 (Barcode 886973138328) offers Five Remastered CDs (each with Bonuses) in a Hard Card Capacity Wallet with Five Mini LP Repro Artwork Card Sleeves and plays out as follows:

CD1 "Horses" (46:42 minutes):
1. Gloria (i) In Excelsis Deo (ii) Gloria (Version) [Side 1]
2. Redondo Beach 
3. Birdland 
4. Free Money 
5. Kimberly [Side 2]
6. Break It Up 
7. Land (i) Horses (ii) Land Of A Thousand Dances (iii) La Mer(de)
8. Elegie 
Tracks 1 to 8 are her debut album "Horses" - released December 1975 in the USA on Arista AL 4066 and December 1975 in the UK on Arista ARTY 122. Produced by JOHN CALE - it peaked at No. 46 on the US albums charts (didn't chart UK)

9. My Generation - non-album B-side of the March 1976 US 45-single "Gloria" on Arista AS 0171 - cover version of The Who classic - first appeared digitally on the 1996 CD reissue of "Horses" as a lone bonus track 

CD2 "Radio Ethiopia" (48:40 minutes):
1. Ask The Angels [Side 1]
2. Ain't It Strange
3. Poppies 
4. Pissing In A River 
5. Pumping (My Heart) [Side 2]
6. Distant Fingers 
7. Radio Ethiopia
8. Abyssinia 
Tracks 1 to 8 are her second studio album "Radio Ethiopia" - released October 1976 in the USA on Arista AL 4097 and October 1976 in the UK on Arista SPARTY 1001. Produced by JACK DOUGLAS and credited to PATTI SMITH GROUP - it peaked at No. 122 in the USA (didn't chart UK)

9. Chiklets - Previously Unreleased track from the 1976 sessions, first appeared digitally on the 1996 CD reissue

CD3 "Easter" (46:59 minutes):
1.  Till Victory [Side 1]
2. Space Monkey 
3. Because The Night 
4. Ghost Dance 
5. Babelogue 
6. Rock N Roll Nigger 
7. Privilege (Set Me Free) [Side 2]
8. We Three 
9. 25th Floor 
10. High On Rebellion 
11. Easter 
Tracks 1 to 11 are her third studio album "Easter" - released March 1978 in the USA on Arista AB 4171 and March 1978 in the UK on Arista SPART 1043. Produced by JIMMY IOVINE and credited to PATTI SMITH GROUP - it peaked at No. 20 in the US album charts and No. 16 in the UK. The album also had exclusive song material from Tom Verlaine of Television (a co-write on "Space Monkey") and Bruce Springsteen ("Because The Night")

12. Godspeed - non-album B-side to the March 1978 US 45-single "Because The Night" on Arista AS 0318 - first appearance digitally as a lone Bonus Track on the 1996 CD reissue of "Easter"

CD4 "Wave" (43:25 minutes):
1. Frederick [Side 1]
2. Dancing Barefoot 
3. So You Want To Be (A Rock 'n' Roll Star) 
4. Hymn 
5. Revenge 
6. Citizen Ship [Side 2]
7. Seven Ways Of Going 
8. Broken Flag 
9. Wave 
Tracks 1 to 9 are the fourth studio album "Wave" - released May 1979 in the USA on Arista AB 4221 and May 1979 in the UK on Arista SPART 1086. Produced by TODD RUNDGREN and credited to PATTI SMITH GROUP - it peaked at No. 18 in the US and No. 44 on the album charts

10. Fire Of Unknown Origin 
11. 54321/Wave - Tracks 10 and 11 are the non-album B-sides of the September 1979 US 45 "So You Want To Be (A Rock 'n' Roll Star)" on Arista AS 0453 - first appeared digitally as two Bonus Tracks on the 1996 CD reissue of "Wave" - "54321/Wave" recorded live in New York, 23 May 1979

CD "Dream Of Life" (51:45 minutes):
1. People Have The Power
2. Up There Down There 
3. Paths That Cross 
4. Dream Of Life 
5. Where Duty Calls 
6. Going Under 
7. Looking For You (I Was)
8. The Jackson Song 
Tracks 1 to 8 are their fifth studio album "Dream Of Life" - released July 1988 in the USA on Arista AL 8453 and July 1988 in the UK on Arista 209 172 (Vinyl Versions) and on CD too. Produced by FRED SMITH and JIMMY IOVINE – it peaked at No. 65 in the USA and No. 70 in the UK on the album charts. Note: original versions of the album had the track order as follows: Tracks 1, 6, 2, and 3 as Side 1 with Side 2 as Tracks  4, 5, 6 and 7. This CD is based on the June 1996 CD Remaster that altered that running order. 

9. As The Night Goes By - previously unreleased track from the sessions 
10. Wild Leaves - non-album B-side to the May 1988 US 45-single "People Have The Power" on Arista AS1-9689 - both tracks first appeared digitally as Bonuses on the 1996 reissue of "Dream Of Life"

The hard card slipcase or capacity wallet (as they like to call it now) houses the five Mini LP Repro Sleeves with the album info available online at Legacy Recordings website for 'Original Album Classics' - they are nice to look at, tactile and with those 1996 Remasters and Bonuses - very cool indeed. The audio is superb – so damn good - all thoughts of those first waves of dullard 80ts CDs banished. It is a shame there isn't a separate slip-in booklet to accompany these five-disc overhauls, but you can't deny that for the price, there is an awful lot of goodness on offer here for really not a lot of wonga. To the poet and her band of merry men...

It is surely the height of period cool to open your debut album with lyrics like "...Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine..." – you go lady of words and music. Patti re-writes the Van Morrison-written THEM classic "Gloria" into a musical pyre – building, building as it hurtles to the finish line with the hymn "In Excelsis Deo" thrown in for good measure. Her sort of Clash-type Reggae Rock kicks in with "Redondo Beach" – looking for her beau down by an ocean of smudge-faced teen suicides. "Gloria" was good for sure, a sure-fire 45-single winner. But for me her special kind of genius began to really show with the ethereally beautiful "Birdland" – a half-spoken and half-sung tale of lost boys left alone by cruel daddies – Lenny Kaye's fantastic guitar so subtly aiding the heavy storytelling (same applies to the piano ache in "Elegie" that finishes Side 2). 

And then, just when you think you've nailed the LP's Punk, New Wave and Art Rock credentials – she moves you with The Velvet Underground-doomy "Free Money" – hot in jet planes as it thrashes its way out your speakers with such anger and life (love those doubled vocals). And on it goes towards a nine-minute three-part collage of Gloria-type speed called "Land" – a racer that includes Chris Kenner's Atlantic Records 60ts soul dancer "Land Of A Thousand Dances" amidst the mantra of Horses, Horses, Horses – Johnny doing the Watusi in a pretty little place in a sea of possibilities - how utterly brill. 

After a balls-to-the-wall breakout like "Easter" – it was going to be hard to follow up, but she did it with the spit and sawdust kick-ass power of "Radio Ethiopia". Hot sometimes as you "Ask The Angels" (great guitar) and don't look at me in this broken state of "Ain't It Strange". I guess "Poppies" is the closest she's come a 'commercial' sound singing about longing and addiction to all manner of debilitating things while the notorious "Pissing In A River" just reeks of pain and loss of love. And don't you just tingle at the sheer rocking abandon in "Pumping" - the soloing axes screeching as she wails about connection and her heart pumping - wow! I would admit that the grunge 10-minutes of the title track is still hard for me to take all in one go, but I was surprised and even taken aback by the "Wild Horses" Rolling Stones acoustic-beauty of the bonus track "Chiklets" - a middleweight boxer getting eulogized. I would probably go as far as saying that the "Radio Ethiopia" album has weathered even better than its more famous and illustrious horsey predecessor – and the Remaster has upped its menace four-fold to where it should always have been. 

In 1978, Bruce Springsteen was all grown-up by the time he released the hard-as-nails "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" LP and it seemed his knack of giving away great songs to other artists was hitting something of a zenith (Southside Johnny, Graham Parker and later Gary U.S. Bonds, Donna Summer and Dave Edmunds). But he kept his best for Patti. I was a Bruce-o-nut in 1978 (continued from 1974 in fact) so the fact that the wicked "Easter" album also contained the equally rampant "Because The Night" by The Boss was all right in the dark-night by me. Other winners included the chug muscle of "Space Monkey" with that old-fashioned organ whining – rusty Polaroids and guitars. And there is peace to your brother in the Indian-chant of "Ghost Dance". She is joined by Jackson Pollock, Jimi Hendrix and Jesus in the infamous "Rock n Roll Ni**er" - while Brit tunesmiths Mark London (Manager to Stones The Crows and Maggie Bell) and Michael Leander provided her with the very Blondie-rocking "Privilege (She Me Free)" – a reason to live – make me lie down in green pastures. And while I never could dig the jagged mayhem of "High On Rebellion" – once again the Remaster saves the day with the superb six-minutes of "Godspeed" – a Bonus Track B-side about static and adrenalin.

"Wave" has always been seen as the let’s go for commercial album and therefore poo-pooed for it, but I liked the Rundgren-esque keyboard fills on "Frederick" and the very Velvets feel to "Dancing Barefoot" – a fantastic song in my not-so-humble opinion – some strange music that draws me in. She sings of sweet payback as she skewers a former flame in "Revenge" (love that huge guitar solo, so Hall & Oates "Along The Red Ledge" that I believe Rundgren also produced) and Patti gives even more lambasting to the message in the Byrds industry-acidic "So You Want To Be (A Rock 'n' Roll Star)". Sounding like a drunken sailor, I love the ramshackle feel to the B-side "5-4-3-2-1" – another Bonus that likes up to the moniker. She even finds a tranquil Galilee of sorts in "Seven Ways Of Going" albeit one steeped in a sort of East meets the West rock mysticism (a sleeper on a very underrated album in my opinion). 

After a decade away, she returned to much ballyhoo with 1988's "Dream Of Life" - only eight tracks - but many with that fire of old (even if the reviews were mixed). It opens strongly where "Power Have The Power" sounds like a rocked-up Buffy St. Marie as does "Up There Down There" - a great Rock shuffler with her trademark vocal style letting rip once again. But both are soundly trumped by the sheer loveliness of "The Jackson Song" while "Going Under" feels more hurt than it wants to admit. Of the Bonuses the acoustic-light "As The Night Goes By" feels the lesser to the falling of "Wild Leaves" to the ground. 

For sure you could argue that "Wave" and "Dream Of Life" are not as spectacular as the first three, but for me Patti Smith is like John Martyn or Bruce or Joni - gotta have the lot because I know there will be magic in there somewhere. Babelogue on and on - you lovely slightly loony poetess...

"Crisis? What Crisis?" by SUPERTRAMP – Fourth Album from November 1975 on A&M Records – featuring Roger Hodgson, Richard Davies, John Helliwell, Dougie Thomson and Bob Benberg with String Arrangements by Richard Hewson (June 2002 UK A&M Records – Part of 'The Supertramp Remasters' CD Reissue Series – Greg Calbi and Jay Messina Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Sister Moonshine..."

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Following an all-eight-tracks-are-good winner album like September 1974's "Crime Of The Century" was always going to be a tall order and I remember the disappointment Supertramp unleashed in November 1975 with "Crisis? What Crisis?"

Having said that, there are those who would claim it's unfairly poo-pooed in favour of its more famous predecessor and the hooky genius of what was yet to come - 1979's "Breakfast In America". I don't honestly know about that. 

Re-listening to CWC now in late 2020, tracks like "Sister Moonshine", "Lady" and "Ain't Nobody But Me" are still crack-a-lacking Rock-Pop for sure, but the rest of it feels underwhelming, half-hearted and even dismissible. There was no fat on COTC, but despite the wit of its famously cynical front cover artwork, Crisis did indeed feel like a band stating how it was for them in the actual name on the LP. To the large yellow parasols and stripy deck-chairs...

UK released 11 June 2002 - "Crisis? What Crisis?" by SUPERTRAMP on A&M Records 493 347-2 (Barcode 606949334727) Is Part Of The Supertramp Remasters CD Reissue Series and plays out as follows (47:24 minutes):

1. Easy Does It [Side 1]
2. Sister Moonshine 
3. Ain't Nobody But Me 
4. A Soapbox Opera 
5. Another Man's Woman 
6. Lady [Side 2]
7. Poor Boy 
8. Just A Normal Day 
9. The Meaning 
10. Two Of Us 
Tracks 1 to 10 are their fourth studio album "Crisis? What Crisis?" - released November 1975 in the UK on A&M Records AMLH 68347 and November 1975 in the USA on A&M Records SP-4560. Produced by KEN SCOTT and SUPERTRAMP - it peaked at No. 20 in the UK and No. 44 in the US Albums charts. 

The 8-page booklet is a functional affair reproducing the lyrics that came with the original vinyl LP's inner sleeve - and they are printed against a yellow backdrop (like the 1975 original). There are no other liner notes except for reissue credits on Page 7. Roger Hodgson (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards), Richard Davies (Vocals and Keyboards), John Helliwell (Vocals and Wind Instruments), Dougie Thomas (Bass) and Bob Benberg (Drums) was the band line-up with Orchestral Arrangements done by Richard Hewson. 

For names synonymous with audio impeccability (especially Greg Calbi who has Paul Simon and Paul McCartney as clients) - I'd also have to admit that the audio transfer here is at times a tad less spectacular than a logo like 'The Supertramp Remasters' would automatically promise. For sure the huge twelve-string chiming acoustics on "Sister Moonshine" swirl around your living room with intent, but stuff like "The Meaning" or the all washed-up Sister Washington in "A Soapbox Opera" feel weirdly muted - like they were (dare I speak sacrilege here) - hurriedly or badly produced in the first place?

A good album in places then for me - but never a great one – even though I return to its tunes often.  

"...When I was a small boy, I could see the magic in a day..." Roger Hodgson sang on the optimistic "Sister Moonshine" over 45 years ago. Well, parts of "Crisis? What Crisis?" makes me feel that way - I just wish all of it did...

Saturday, 28 November 2020

"Illegal, Immoral And Fattening/Moving Targets" by FLO & EDDIE [Mark Volman as Flo and Howard Kaylan as Eddie, Both Ex The Turtles] – Comedy Albums from August 1975 (USA-only) on Columbia and October 1976 (USA) (November 1976 UK) on Columbia and CBS Records - featuring Phil Reed, Ian Underwood, Aynsley Dunbar, Danny Kootch Kortchmar, Andy Cahan, Erik Scott, Craig Krampf with guests Donny Dacus and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (June 2020 UK Beat Goes On Reissue – 2LPs onto 1CD – Andrew Thompson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Pop Star Massage Unit..."

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Ex Turtles songsters and general madcap fun-boys-two Mark Volman (as Flo) and Howard Kaylan (as Eddie) see their sought after live set "Illegal, Immoral And Fattening" from 1975 teamed up with their follow-up studio outing "Moving Targets" from 1976 on this excellent and timely BGO CD reissue. 

"Moving Targets" gets a first time issue on CD here whilst their elusive 1973 debut album "Flo & Eddie" on Reprise Records still remains AWOL on digital even now in late 2020 (maybe this release will prompt movement on that). 

Track spotters will notice that their wickedly entitled August 1975 platter (fattening?) has a bizarre version of T. Rex's 1971 monster British hit "Get It On" covered under its US title as "Bang A Gong (Get It On)" and the Turtles megahit "Elenor" gets returned to on the "Moving Targets" album – all of it with a few tongues stuck firmly in a few cheeks. And in these Covid-19 days of permanent bad news, a wee bit of a laugh and a tune is a welcome injection indeed. To the bad and mad boys of American comedy and parody...

UK released Friday, 1 June 2020 - "Illegal, Immoral And Fattening/Moving Targets" by FLO & EDDIE on Beat Goes on BGOCD1418 (Barcode 5017261214188) offers 2LPs from 1975 and 1976 Remastered onto 1CD and plays out as follows (73:18 minutes):

1. Illegal, Immoral And Fattening [Side 1]
2. Rebecca 
3. Kama Sutra Time /Bang A Gong (Get It On)
4. The Sanzini Brothers Return (with The Tibetan Memory Trick)
5. Livin' In The Jungle
6. Cheap [Side 2]
7. The Kung Fu Killer 
8. Eddie, Are You Kidding? 
9. The Pop Star Massage Unit (Live Medley)
10. Let Me Make Love To You 
11. There's No Business Like Show Business
Tracks 1 to 11 are their second album "Illegal, Immoral And Fattening" - released August 1975 in the USA on Columbia PC 33554 (no UK release). Produced by JOE WISSERT - it was recorded 'live' at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood, USA except "Let Me Make Love To You" which was recorded at the Cherokee Studios. 

Band for the live set was Mark Volman (Flo) on Vocals and Guitar, Howard Kaylan (Eddie) on Lead Vocals, Phil Reed on Lead Guitar, Andy Cahan on Keyboards, Erik Scot on Bass and Craig Krampf on Drums. The studio band for "Let Me Make Love To You" was Danny 'Kootch' Kortchmar on Guitar, Ian Underwood on Keyboards, Leland Sklar on Bass and Aynsley Dunbar on Drums

12. Mama, Open Up [Side 1]
13. The Love You Gave Away 
14. Hot
15. Best Friends (Theme From The Unsold T.V. Pilot) 
16. Best Possible Me
17. Keep It Warm [Side 2]
18. Guns 
19. Elenor 
20. Sway When You Walk 
21. Moving Targets 
Tracks 12 to 21 are their third album "Moving Targets" - released October 1976 in the USA on Columbia PC 34262 and November 1976 in the UK on CBS Records S 81509. Produced by RON NEVISON, SKIP TAYLOR, MARK VOLMAN and HOWARD KAYLAN - it didn't chart in either country. 

Band was Mark Volman (Flo) on Vocals and Guitar, Howard Kaylan (Eddie) on Lead Vocals, Phil Reed on Lead Guitar, Andy Cahan on Keyboards, Erik Scot on Bass and Craig Krampf on Drums. Guests included Donnie Dacus on "Hot" (Slide Guitar), Jeff "Skunk" Baxter of Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers also on "Hot" (Slide Guitar), Graeme "Shirley" Strachan did Chorus Vocals on "Guns" and Ian Underwood played Saxophone on "Moving Targets".

The card slipcase lends these BGO reissues a touch of class and the chunky 20-page booklet features all artwork, lyrics, musician credits and insightful new liner notes from one of Mojo Magazine's regular contributors - CHARLES WARING. Their notoriously lurid stage shows that produced the likes of "Illegal, Immoral And Fattening" are discussed and giggled with and Waring points out that this kind of punchy irreverent satire (especially in music) whilst common in the Seventies with like contemporaries Cheech & Chong, Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart - is something of a dying breed in these ludicrously over-policed PC-times. 

By the time Flo & Eddie had gotten to the "Moving Targets" album (released in the autumn of 1976 and ignored like the two albums that preceded it), a certain world-weariness too had crept into their writing - "Mama, Open Up" pining for the days when it was just a laugh. Audio is courtesy of long-time Audio Engineer ANDREW THOMPSON and their great. It's been decades since I listened to this stuff and I absolutely don't remember it sounding or looking 'this good'. To the breach my naked bedfellows... 

The "Illegal..." album contains naughtiness and grooves aplenty - hilarity at tangled Sanskrit moves in "Kama Sutra Time", the barely hidden Blaxploitation Sly & The Family Stone funk of "Livin' In The Jungle" whilst the almost a proper song "Rebecca" was backed with the album's title track and issued as a song-45 in December 1975 but Columbia 3-10246 didn't make it. Anyone with a Bruce Lee or Carl Douglas fixation had his or her cages rattled by "The Kung Fu Killer" - an almighty razz on the martial arts craze sweeping the world at that time. 

The laughter seemed to have temporarily at least evaporated by the time they made "Moving Targets" - " started out so simple and got so far out of hand, making showbiz out of what was fun..." they sang on the autobiographical "Mama, Open Up". Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers stalwart Jeff "Skunk" Baxter provides Slide Guitar on "Hot" and fans count "Keep It Warm" has always been something of a mantra for them and fans - a song about the demands on artists to write that 'hit' but they are drawn (like their listeners) to parody of the money men instead. And as if to stick it in the eye of the oppressor, Flo & Eddie did a sort of "Happy Together" Turtles variant on "Elenor" - a direct jab at the White Whale label that had contained their previous life and chartings. 

For sure this is an acquired taste - and bad taste in my book is actually something that made us bellyache back in the day precisely because it was sticking it to the man. A smart reissue from those astute men over at England's BGO...

Friday, 27 November 2020

"Loleatta/Cry To Me" by LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY – US Albums from September 1973 and July 1975 on GRC/Aware Records featuring the Songs of Sam Dees, Floyd Smith, Chuck Jackson, Marvin Yancy, Johnny Moore & more (October 2020 UK Ace/Kent Soul Compilation – 2LPs onto 1CD with Four Bonus Tracks from 1971 and 1973 – Duncan Cowell Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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70ts Soul, RnB and Funk
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"...Be True To Me..."

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You have to love Ace Records - Pandemic all around and still they damn the torpedoes and release a CD like this - asking us addicted inebriated flabby goggle-eyed Netflix types to down the TV remote and 'listen to this, sucker'. 

Chicago-born Soul Singer Loleatta Holloway is featured here by two rare US albums both issued on the General Recording Corporation label (GRC) imprint 'Aware Records' in the autumn of 1973 and the summer of 1975.  

The first sold little and the second despite a minor hit single suffered the fate of the parent record company going into a fraud nosedive just after the vinyl LP hit the shops – leaving the artists and sales of their work in the outside privy. So with both having always been a hard-to-find proposition for UK lovers of Chicago Soul and the Hotlanta Sound – this is a tasty CD reissue indeed. And as you can see from the track list provided below, Kent Soul have also upped the generous playing time to an almost full 80-minutes by tagging on four other cuts as Bonuses - three from Kent CD compilations of old and the other, a rare American 7" single side.

This is pleading lady's soul (chats before the soaring voice sails in) where their men have done them wrong or some bee-ach is trying to steal their man over by the gossips in the grocery store or they realise that Mama was right when she said girl, when it comes to lurve, don't be a part-time lover OR a full-time fool. To the tearful details...

UK released Friday, 30 October 2020 - "Loleatta/Cry To Me" by LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY on Ace/Kent Soul CDKEND 493 (Barcode 029667100229) offers 2LPs Remastered onto 1CD with Four Bonus Tracks and plays out as follows (79:46 minutes):

1. The Man I Love [Side 1]
2. We Did It
3. Our Love
4. Can I Change My Mind 
5. Part Time Lover, Full Time Full 
6. So Can I [Side 2]
7. Only A Fool 
8. Love Woke Me Up 
9. Mother Of Shame 
10. Remember Me 
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Loleatta" - released September 1973 in the USA on GRC/Aware Records AA 2003 - Arranged and Produced by FLOYD SMITH. 

11. Cry To Me [Side 1]
12. I Know Where You're Coming From 
13. The Show Must Go On 
14. The World Don't Owe You Nothing 
15. Just Be True To Me
16. Something About The Way I Feel [Side 2]
17. I'll Be Gone 
18. I Can't Help Myself
19. Casanova 
20. H.E.L.P. M.E. M.Y. L.O.R.D. 
Tracks 11 to 20 are the album "Cry To Me" - released July 1975 in the USA on GRC/Aware AA 2008 - Produced and Arranged by FLOYD SMITH  

21. Merrily 
22. What Are You Gonna Do About Tomorrow
Tracks 21 and 22 previously unissued 1973 Aware Records recordings first released March 1996 on the UK CD compilation "The Hotlanta Soul Of Loleatta Holloway" on Ace/Kent Soul CDKEND 135

23. For Sentimental Reasons (US February 1971 45-single, Apache 2004, A-side)

24. This Man's Arms (previously unissued 1971 Aware Records recording first released November 2011 on the UK CD compilation "Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 3" on Ace/Kent Soul CDKEND 364

The 16-page booklet provides fantastic liner notes from KEVIN L GOINS (written August 2020 in New York) that has contacted people around the recordings - both Loleatta and her husband/producer Floyd Smith now sadly passed away. The two LPs are pictured, artwork, labels, promo photos and cashbox entries and some very cool photos of the swish Loleatta and her fab ball of hair. 

Audio transfers are courtesy of Ace's long-standing engineer - DUNCAN COWELL and they are gorgeous. Right from the cover of the Gershwin classic "The Man I Love" that opens platter No. 1 through until the outtake bonus tracks - it all reeks of classy Chicago and Hotlanta sexy Soul - some even featuring heavy-on-the-strings arrangements like "Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)" that were more about getting the song right rather than keeping an eye on the budget. To the music...

The driving force behind both albums was the combo of husband Floyd Smith and the song writing contributions of such friends and luminaries as Sam Dees, Chuck Jackson, Marvin Yancy, Johnny Moore and many more. Dees provided "So Can I" for the first album and a huge five more for the second - the single "Cry To Me" (January 1975 on Aware AW-047 with his "So Can I" from the first LP on the flip), "I Know Where You're Coming From", "The Show Must Go On", "The World Don't Owe You Nothing" (a co-write with Frederick Knight of "I've Been Lonely So Long" fame), "The Show Must Go On" and another single "H.E.L.P. M.E. L.O.R.D." that actually hit the streets a full year prior to the second LP in May 1974 on Aware AW-039 with "The World Don't Owe You Nothing" on the B-side. 

She also picked some sexy cover versions - Curtis Mayfield's "Just Be True To Me", Ashford & Simpson's "Love Woke Me Up" (a Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell duet for Motown in 1968), "Remember Me" from the pens of Van McCoy and Clyde Otis as well as the classic Tyrone Davis Dakar song "Can I Change My Mind". William Johnson co-authored "Only A Fool" while Loleatta offered up a lone composition on the two LPs in the shape of the lovely "I'll Be Gone". And on it goes to three of hers in the Bonuses (Tracks 21, 22 and 24) – rejected at the time of issue in favour of other more established writers.

This is a lovely CD – as infectious as her smile and as colourful as that flowery dress she's wearing on Page 3 of the booklet with liner notes that ooze their affection for her and her legacy. Another winner in a long line of them for reissue-champs Kent Soul. Recommended...

"Original Album Collection" by LAUREL AITKEN [featuring GIRLIE] – Including The Albums "Ska With Laurel" (1966), "Laurel Aitken Says Fire" (1967), "Scandal In A Brixton Market" (1969), "The High Priest Of Reggae" (1970) and more (September 2014 UK Pressure Drop 5CD Clamshell Box Set With Mini LP Card Repro Artwork Sleeves and Booklet – Alan Wilson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Rude Boy With Groovy Beats…"

Having worked in secondhand record shops for the guts of 20 years - and been in and out of them for the formative 2 decades of vinyl debauchery that preceded those - I can safely say that I've never seen 'any' of these uber-rare British Reggae/Ska albums - ever! Listed in 2014 price guides at somewhere between £200 and £150 for each album - good luck trying to find one! Well along comes Pressure Drop of the UK (part of Cherry Red Records) rectifying that unnecessary hole in our Skaless lives with this cool little box set which is frankly guaranteed to put some fire in your wire. Here are the rude boy rhythms, stretching braces and naughty lyrics...

UK released September 2014 - "Original Album Collection" by LAUREL AITKEN on Pressure Drop PDROPBOX25 (Barcode 5013929682504) is a 5CD Clamshell Mini Box Set with Five Mini LP Repro Card Artwork Sleeves - 4 original albums and a new 25-track CD compilation put together by Reggae expert and fan LAURENCE CANE-HONEYSET. 

His is a name familiar to me - he did the superlative 2CD Deluxe Editions of "Tighten Up" Volumes 1 and 2 (see my reviews) and the groundbreaking paperback books - "Young Gifted & Black: The Story Of Trojan Records" and "Tighten Up: The History Of Reggae In The UK" (see separate reviews also). This is a guy who knows what's what when it comes to this genre (at times so shrouded in discography mystery)...

As you can imagine Sixties Reggae and Ska was recorded in Uncle Albert's laundry room with a bucket and a broom - so the sound fluctuates wildly depending on the sources. But having said that - ALAN WILSON has done a wonderful job with the mastering. The 4 albums in particular sound amazingly fresh and clean .You can of course here cackle here and there - but frankly that's what I love about this joyous and funny music - it's from the streets and all the more fab for it. Here's a breakdown of what's on the discs...

CD1 is "Ska With Laurel" - first released on a UK 12-track LP in 1966 on Rio Records LR 1 (30:12 minutes)
1. Street Of Glory
2. Lonesome Traveller
3. Madame Sorosie
4. We Shall Overcome
5. Call The Doctor
6. Freedom
7. Hallelujah Train [Side 2]
8. Looking For My Baby 
9. Woman Is Sweeter Than Man
10. It’s Coming Down
11. Take Off My Pyjamas
12. Leave My Woman Alone

CD2 is "Laurel Aitken Says Fire" - first released on a UK 12-track LP in 1967 on Doctor Bird Records DLM (B) 5012 (31:46 minutes)
1. Fire
2. Worried Over Me
3. Halfway To Paradise
4. Coconut
5. Quando Quando
6. If You Need Me 
7. La La La [Side 2]
8. Rice And Peas
9. Stand By Me
10. Sunnyside
11. Mr. Lee
12. Gonna Get Married

CD3 is "Scandal In A Brixton Market" - first released on a UK 12-track LP in 1969 on Pama Economy ECO-8 – credited to GIRLIE and LAUREL AITKEN (43:02 minutes)
1. Scandal In A Brixton Market
2. Madame Straggae
3. Stupid Married Man
4. Tammering
5. Have Mercy
6. Night Cricket
7. Run Powell Run [Side 2]
8. Teddy Bear 
9. Mr. Soul
10. Woke Up This Morning
11. Babylon
12. Stop The War In Vietnam

CD4 is "The High Priest Of Reggae" - first released on a UK 12-track LP in 1970 on Pama Special PSP1012 (34:17 minutes)
1. Jesse James
2. Mr Popcorn
3. I Got To Have Your Love
4. John B
5. Shoo Bee Shoo Bee
6. Hailes Selaise
7. Landlords & Tenants [Side 2]
8. Save The Last Dance
9. Walk Right Back
10. Don’t Be Cruel
11. Woppi King 
12. Suffering Still

CD5 - Exclusive 25-Song CD Compilation - "Skinhead Train: 1960's Singles & Rarities" with all tracks by LAUREL AITKEN except where noted (73:45 minutes):
1. Boogie In My Bones - 1960, Starlite ST45 011, A-side
2. Drinkin' Whisky - with The Caribs, 1960, Starlite 014, B-side to "Honey Girl"
3. Mary Lee  - with The Blue Beats, 1960, Melodisc M 1570, A-side)
4. Bartender - 1961, Blue Beat BB 40, A-side
5. Brother David - 1962, Blue Beat 84, A-side
6. Lucille - with The Blue Beats, 1962, Blue Beat 109, A-side
7. Adam & Eve - 1963, Rio R 11, A-side
8. I Shall Remove - 1963, island WI 092, A-side
9. Lion Of Judah - 1964, Black Swan WI 401, A-side
10. Don't Stay Out Late - 1964, Columbia DB 7280, B-side of "Be Mine"
11. Clementine - 1966, Blue Beat 340, A-side
12. Propaganda - 1966, Ska Beat JB 236, A-side
13. Green Banana - 1966, Ska Beat JB 239, A-side
14. Rock Steady - 1967, Columbia Blue Beat DB 102, A-side
15. Blowin' In The Wind - B-side of 14, Bob Dylan cover
16. I'm Still In Love With You Girl - 1967, Columbia Blue Beat DB 106, A-side
17. Reggae Prayer - 1969, Doctor Bird DB 1196, A-side
18. The Rise And Fall (Of Laurel) - 1969, Doctor Bird DB 1197, A-side
19. Heile Heile (The Lion) - 1969, Doctor Bird DB 1202, A-side
20. Donkey Man - 1969, Unity UN 506, B-side of "The Avengers" by TOMMY McCOOK
21. Reggae '69 - 1969, Nu Beat NB 025, B-side of "Suffering Still"
22. Big Fight In Hell - 1969, Nu Beat NB 033, B-side of "Lawd Doctor" by Laurel Aitken & Girlie
23. Skinhead Train - 1969, Nu Beat NB 047, A-side
24. Apollo 12 (Skinhead Invasion) - 1969 White Label Only

The infectious brass rhythm that permeates "Street Of Glory" and "Lonesome Traveller" pretty much define Ska while he upped the piano involvement for his brilliant and very funny/fruity second LP "Says Fire". Laurel tells of his ardour being 'vexed' and "bwoy me hav fire in me wire..." (what a hoot!). "Worried Over Me" is fantastic - sounds great too. Even his cover of Billy Fury's "Halfway To Paradise" raises a smile. And as you can see from my track listing provided for Disc 5 (these details are not in the booklet) - there's lots of catalogue numbers collectors' want badly. The only let down (if you could call it that) is the 8-page inlay - which feels way too slight. But at least it has a central display of rare UK 45s with labels like Rio, Black Swan, Doctor Bird, Blue Beat, Ska Beat, Nu Beat, Pama and Island - it's the kind of photo that will make lovers of Reggae and Ska drool.

Fans will notice though that the hand of collectors has been involved in putting this together. For instance in the spring of 1969, Nu Beat (a subsidiary of Pama) issued the fabulous Girlie and Laurel Aitken non-album single "Lawd Doctor" on Nu Beat NB 033 – it’s equally rare non-LP B-side "Big Fight In Hell Stadium" turns up as a bonus on Disc 4 – as do a slew of other 45s seeing the digital light of day. "Scandal In A Brixton Market" indeed...

Such an enjoyable release - makes me big and fat - and I don't mind dat...

INDEX - Entries and Artist Posts in Alphabetical Order