Thursday, 29 January 2009

“1000 Volts Of Holt” by JOHN HOLT. A 26 January 2009 2CD DELUXE EDITION Reissue Of The 1973 UK Classic LP On Trojan Records.

“Take The Ribbon From Your Hair…Shake It Loose…And Let It Fall…”

If you already own the 2002 46-track “Expanded Version” of this iconic UK reggae album - then you’ll want to know if this January 2009 2CD DELUXE EDITION with its meagre 39 tracks is worth buying – yet again! And yes and no is the typically infuriating answer…

There’s a lot on here, do let’s break it down first…

Disc 1 is entitled 1000 VOLTS…PLUS! (67:31 minutes):
1. Never, Never, Never [Shirley Bassey cover]
2. Morning of My Life [Bee Gees cover]
3. Stoned Out Of My Mind [Chi-Lites cover]
4. Baby I’m-A-Want You [Bread cover]
5. Help Me Make It Through The Night [Kris Kristofferson cover]
6. Mr. Bojangles [Jerry Jeff Walker/Nitty Gritty Dirt Band cover]
7. I’d Love You To Want Me [Lobo cover] (End Of Side 1)
8. Killing Me Softly With Her Song [Roberta Flack cover]
9. You Baby [Ronettes cover]
10. Too Much Love [Bread cover]
11. Girl From Ipanema [Astrid Gilberto cover]
12. Which Way You Going Baby [Susan & Terry Jacks of The Poppy Family cover] (End of Side 2)
Tracks 1 to 12 are the November 1973 UK LP “1000 Volts Of Holt” on Trojan Records TRLS 75 (it finally charted in early 1975)

13. Morning Of My Life
14. Stoned Out Of My Mind
15. Baby I’m-A-Want You
16. Help Me Make It Through The Night
17. Mr. Bojangles
18. Too Much Love
19. Girl From Ipanema
20. Which Way You Going Baby
Tracks 13 to 20 are Bonus Tracks (Jamaican Mixes). Only 2 of the Jamaican Mixes are previously unreleased - “Morning of My Life” and “Too Much Love”. The version of “Too Much Love” on the 2002 set is an extended mix at 4:21 minutes while this DELUXE EDITION cut is an edit at 2:40 minutes. Although the other 6 tracks were on the 2002 set, it should be noted that like the album, they’re all in VASTLY IMPROVED SOUND on this DELUXE EDITION.

(60:30 minutes)
1. I Don’t Want To Be Lonely
2. It’s Just Because
3. My Eyes
4. Love And Affection (aka Sweet Vibrations)
5. Here Today (Gone Tomorrow)
6. If I Could Hear Her (aka Blue Dawn)
7. I Could Dance All Night
8. Maybe Some Day
9. I Played The Fool [writer unknown]
10. Got My Head On Straight
11. Come Dance With Me
12. Good Morning Sun
13. Room Full Of Tears
14. Only You
15. Lonely Times
16. Sweet Malinda
17. Love So Right [Mac Davis cover]
18. Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me [Mac Davis cover]
19. Just The Way You Are [Billy Joel cover]
All songs on Disc 2 are written by John Holt - except where noted.
Tracks 16 and 19 are from 1979 - while 17 and 18 are from 1980.
The other 15 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED (most from an aborted album in 1975).

The 20-page booklet has photos, singles pictured, trade adverts and a detailed track-by-track breakdown of the album by LAURENCE CANE-HONEYSETT (he co-wrote the superb book “Young, Gifted & Black; The Story Of Trojan Records” - see separate review).
The 4-way digipak is the same as the “Tighten Up” DELUXE EDITION of 2008, the flaps have photos from the period, the see-through trays that hold the CDs have the album details underneath - and the orange and white coloured CD labels mimic the original UK 1973 Trojan vinyl LP. All of it very nicely laid out.

Remastered by TIM DEBNEY at Fluid Mastering, the sound quality is really fantastic and a vast improvement on the now dull-sounding 2002 issue – I’d say the tracks are now twice as loud – and not loud for the sake of it - but clear – the bass and percussion in particular, so sweet now. The improvement of sound thankfully also extends to tracks 13 to 20 (the Bonus Jamaican Mixes), which are so much more ‘reggae’ than the released soft soul versions – more edgy and genuinely excellent bonus tracks. Considering how rough most Reggae can sound - a really great job done has been done here.

While you could say that Disc 1 is a triumph (especially soundwise), I’m not so sure about the rather weedy poppy tracks on Disc 2 – they’re the sorts of lightweight pop-soul-reggae tunes that many fans and purists hate. The sound quality is excellent though. Highlights for me include “Too Much Love”, “My Love” and “It’s Just Because”. Lyrics from the huge international hit "Help Me Make It Through The Night" are the title of this review.

I saw this in a certain Megastore on Oxford Street the week of release for two coins above a twenty spot, which is a ridiculous rip off. If you can lay your hands on it at a good price - between £12 and £14 - then I’d say the DELUXE EDITION is a good buy.

Four out of five stars then.

PS: see also reviews for the DELUXE EDITIONS of the Various Artists compilation “Tighten Up” and Symarip's “Skinhead Moonstomp” (pictured below).

PPS: Dear compiler boffins at Universal - now please do "Tighten Up Vol.2" and 3 and 4 and 5 and...

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