Thursday, 18 September 2008

"C.C.S. II" by C.C.S. [feat Alexis Korner, 2nd LP from 1972] (2000 Repertoire 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster in Artwork-Repro Digipak) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Don't Give Me No Jive Talk Brother…"

CCS or C.C.S. (short for COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS SOCIETY) made 3 studio albums and 7 singles for Mickie Most's RAK Records in the UK in the early Seventies, before the band finally split up in late 1973.  This fantastically clear-sounding Repertoire CD from 2000 is the second of those three albums - supplemented with two rare and desirable B-sides as bonus tracks.

The CD digipak mimics the album's original single sleeve artwork front and rear (the 1st album - the red covered one - was a gatefold) and has an 8-page booklet with a CHRIS WELCH essay on the LP and the band's history. The original British pressing of their second album actually calls the LP simply "C.C.S." like the debut - but Repertoire have called it 'II' to avoid confusion with the first album from 1970 (also reviewed).

Released April 2000 (reissued June 2002) - "C.C.S. II" by C.C.S on Repertoire REP 4852 (Barcode 4009910485224) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster that plays out as follows (51:34 minutes):

1. Brother
2. Black Dog
3. I Want You Back
4. Running Out Of Sky (Sky Diver)
5. Whole Lotta Rock And Roll
(a) School Day (b) Lucille (c) Long Tall Sally (d) Whole Lotta Love
6. Chaos/Can’t We Ever get It Back [Side 2]
7. This Is My Life
8. Misunderstood
9. Maggie's Song
10. City
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 2nd album - which as well as their 1970 debut - was simply called "CCS" on the original vinyl LP. Here it's called CCS II for CD purposes. It was originally released in April 1972 on Rak Records SRAK 503 and on the strength of the March 1972 UK 7" single "Brother" - the album charted at 23 - the only one of their three LPs to break the Top 50. Great sleeve too.

Tracks 11 and 12 are the bonus tracks:
11 is "Mister What You Can't Have" which is the non-album B-side to "Brother" on RAK 126 (it's a John Cameron original - great fun track)
12 is "Sixteen Tons" which is the non-album A-side of RAK 141 issued in 1972. Its B-side is the Peter Thorup original "This Is My Life" - it's Track 7 on the album. However, the single version is shorter and different. It has Thorup vocals only, while the album version includes both Thorup and Korner. If you want the single mix (unfortunately not included here), it's on the superb EMI CD "A's B's & Rarities" which also sports 2 previously unreleased CCS tracks not on any of these Repertoire issues. Well worth seeking out that. Back to the A though. I've always thought CCS's version of "Sixteen Tons" to be one of 'the' great lost Seventies gems - and for soul boys looking for a funky rock track to fill out that cool 70's CD-R, this is the place to look. It's a cover version of the Tennessee Ernie Ford 1950's classic which was followed quickly by a PLATTERS version - this fabulous take on the famous 'shoveling coal' song borrows a bit from both and it's a song that whenever we play it in the shop, has customers coming to the counter asking "who's this, who's this?"

The huge ensemble group CCS was the brain-child of British Blues Boom Godfather ALEXIS KORNER who along with Danish singer PETER THORUP and British arranger JOHN CAMERON pulled together the cream of brass/flute-playing session-men of the time and went after the BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS market for funked-up rock. Deciding right from the start to include cover versions ala B, S & T, they did a fantastic brassed-up take on Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" that not only complimented the original, but also defined that "CCS" sound. So when the new BBC pop program "Top Of The Pops" needed a cool new theme song, they took this winner from their 1970 debut album, dropped the flute intro and the vocal middle and end - and a theme song legend was born. That mixture of cover-versions given the CCS treatment alongside JOHN CAMERON and ALEXIS KORNER originals continued on this LP. "Black Dog" is another Zeppelin cover from IV, "I Want You Back" was made famous by The Congregation and The Jackson 5 - while the "Whole Lotta Rock 'n' Roll" track is a 5-part medley of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and a reprise of Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love".

But the best bit is the SOUND. Repertoire re-issues are always good in my book, but this licensed-from-EMI remaster is exceptional. I'd expected wads of hiss, but the transfers are very clean - and given the amount of brass coming at you, muscular to a point where you have to sometimes reach for the volume control! A really great job done for a criminally forgotten album (lyrics from “Brother - the opening track on Side 1 of the LP - provide the title of this review).

When C.C.S. folded, both Korner and Thorup teamed up with King Crimson's BOZ BURRELL and IAN WALLACE to form SNAPE who issued some albums in Europe that were good too. But my heart is with the fab C.C.S. Highly recommended to those who love their Seventies with a bit of balls and a sense of humour.

For those who want more, their 1st album from 1970 (also called "CCS" on vinyl - "CCS Vol.1" for CD purposes) is also available in this series - as is their 3rd and last album from 1973, "The Best Band In The Land". I've bought the other two also - and remastered with bonus tracks - they're the business too. I've also extensively reviewed Esoteric Recordings "Tap Turns On The Water: The C.C.S. Story" 2CD Anthology from 2013 which has equally stupendous audio quality...

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