Sunday, 28 September 2008

"Blue Magic" by BLUE MAGIC. A Rare US-Only 1974 Atco LP Reissued On CD Remaster in 2007.

This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:

Produced by NORMAN HARRIS of Philadelphia Intl fame (pictured above) and with their songs pumped up by the MFSB Orchestra...


Released in early 1974 on Atlantic's label imprint ATCO, Blue Magic's first album was dominated by the huge US Number 1 soft soul hit "Sideshow". This October 2007 12-track reissue finally makes that self-titled debut album available on remastered CD (and for the first time in the UK).

Here's the breakdown (56:51 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 9 are the LP "Blue Magic" released on Atlantic SD 7038 in January 1974
Track 10 is "Guess Who", the non-album B-side to the 1st 7" single off the album
Track 11 is "Where Have You Been", the non-album B-side to the 2nd single off the album
Track 12 is a Tom Moulton Remix of "Look Me Up" issued on a 1976 Atlantic Records compilation called "Disco-Trek", Atlantic SD 18185

The album yielded four singles in the USA:
"Spell" b/w "Guess Who" on Atco 6910, March 1973
"Look Me Up" b/w "What's Come Over Me" on Atco 6930, September 1973
"Stop To Start" b/w "Where Have You Been" on Atco 6949, January 1974
"Sideshow" b/w "Just Don't Want To Be Lonely" on Atco 6961, April 1974

The remaster has been done by Rhino's long-time tape-expect BILL INGLOT and a typically SUPERB JOB delivered - very clear despite the often overbearingly lush string arrangements. There are very detailed liner notes by noted soul writer and contributor CHARLES WARING that include interviews with the band - and the label even reflects the original yellow ATCO label and multi-coloured logo - all nice touches.

A cross between The Stylistics and The Chi-Lites "Blue Magic" were soft soul and not to everybody's taste. And while this might seem like the kind of music your sister would buy, both disco and soft soul have seen a resurgence of affection among soul lovers in the last few years - usually because if you dig deep enough second time round, there's great tunes in there somewhere. This seems to have been the case with Blue Magic. Although they charted 3 singles prior, they were forever tied down to their huge "Sideshow" hit, which sort of sidelined better tracks on the album like the Ted Mills penned "Spell" and the sweet seven minutes plus of "Just Don't Want To Be Lonely".

Disco fans will enjoy the bonus remix of "Look Me Up", while the two B-sides are excellent and rare - sort of Philly on Atlantic.

Another top job done by RHINO - and a cleverly chosen title for reissue.

PS: This release is part of Rhino's "CLASSIC SOUL ALBUM - REMASTERED & EXPANDED" Series.
Most titles are first time onto CD and are rare soul albums from the Warner/Atlantic/Cotillion/Elektra vaults.
Some other titles are:

1. Ace Spectrum - "Inner Spectrum" (see REVIEW)
2. Donny Hathaway - "Come Back Charleston Blue O.S.T." (see REVIEW)
3. Leroy Hutson - "Paradise"
4. Ronn Matlock - "Love City" (see REVIEW)
5.Gwen McCrae - "Gwen McCrae"
6. Gwen McCrae - "On My Way"
7. Prince Phillip Mitchell - "Top Of The Line"
8. Prince Philip Mitchell - "Make It Good"
9. The Voices Of East Harlem [feat Donny Hathaway] -"Right On Be Free" (see REVIEW)

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