Wednesday, 8 April 2009

"The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories" by KEVIN AYERS (2009 EMI/Harvest 'Expanded' CD – Peter Mew Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…How Will You See Me Later When You Can't See Me Now…"

I remember buying this album in the summer of 1974 in Dublin. I liked the laminate embossed sleeve - I liked Island Records as a label and I liked the price - two quid. But when I got it home and played the album - I just didn't get it. I didn't know what to make of the disparate song styles - nor did I like the really heavy drug-addiction references that permeated so many of the tracks - especially the 4-part suite on Side 2. But of course across time and several plays - I grew to love it - and even though I traded other albums in second hand shops to feed my music addiction - I never parted with my two quid deal. Here are the needle-fuelled details...

UK released March 2009 - "The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories" by KEVIN AYERS on EMI/Harvest 268 2952 (Barcode 5099926829524) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster that plays out as follows (65:50 minutes):

1. Day By Day [Side 1]
2. See You Later
3. Didn't Feel Lonely Till I Thought Of You
4. Everybody's Sometimes And Some People's All The Times Blues
5. It Begins With A Blessing / Once I Awakened / But It Ends With A Curse
6. Ballbearing Blues
7. The Confessions Of Dr. Dream Part One: Irreversible Neural Damage [Side 2]
8. The Confessions Of Dr. Dream Part Two: Invitation
9. The Confessions Of Dr. Dream Part Three: The One Chance Dance
10. The Confessions Of Dr. Dream Part Four: Doctor Dream Theme
11. Two Goes Into Four
Tracks 1 to 11 make up the album "The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories" by KEVIN AYERS released in the UK on Island ILPS 9263 in May 1974

12. Another Whimsical Song
13. Lady Rachel
14. Stop This Train
15. Didn't Feel Lonely Till I Thought Of You
Tracks 12 to 15 are live - recorded 9 July 1974 at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios for  "The John Peel Show" - 12 and 13 are solo acoustic renditions, 14 and 15 are with his band

16. The Up Song - non-album UK 7" single A-side released May 1974 on Island WIP 6194
17. After The Show
18. Thank You Very Much - 17 and 18 are the non-album A&B-sides of a UK 7" single released June 1974 on Island WIP 6201

KEVIN AYERS - Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars
SAM MITCHELL - Electric Guitar
MARK WARNER - Acoustic & Electric Guitars
RUPERT HINE - Clavinet, Organ, ARP Synthesizer, Electric Piano & Percussion on 3
SIMON JEFFES - Brass Arrangement

RAY COOPER [of Elton John's Band] - Percussion on 2 and 9
SEAN MILLIGAN - Backing Vocals on 2
OLLIE HALSALL [of Patto] - Guitar Solo on 3 and Guitar on 14 and 15
MIKE OLDFIELD - Guitar Solo on 4
CAL BATCHELOR - Guitar on 4
HENRY CRALLAN - Piano on 4
STEVE NYE - Organ on 5 and Electric Piano on 8 and 9
MIKE MORAN - Piano on 5
LOL COXHILL - Saxophone on 5
THE HULLOO CHOIR - Backing Vocals on 5
NICO - Vocals on 7
JOHN GUSTAFSON - Bass on 8 - TREVOR JONES - Bass on 9
MIKE RATLEDGE - Organ on 10

The 8-page booklet is packed with details and has an album overview by noted writer and compiler MARK POWELL. But the sound is the big news. The original vinyl LP had quiet parts and it was always difficult to get a vinyl copy that wasn't scratched by the coarse white inner card/lyrics sleeve. These quiet parts on preceding CDs were hissy and less than useful. But on this stunning 2009 REMASTER it finally sounds like the business - clean and clear and with just the muscle it's always needed.

The remaster has been done by PETER MEW at Abbey Road and in order to put this into a sound-quality context - check out his extraordinary work on the 2CD Collector's Editions of "Down By The Jetty" by DR. FEELGOOD and "This Was" by JETHRO TULL. He also added sonic uplifts to "Duncan Browne" by DUNCAN BROWNE (his 1973 album on RAK Records with "Journey" on it) and the fabulous 2CD Deluxe Edition of FREE's "Fire And Water" (reviewed them all). He's a sound engineer whose name I look out for - even Ayers himself has praised his tape skill - having allowed Mew to handle all of his back catalogue remasters exclusively.

Mike Oldfield's tasty guitar work makes the mellow and languid "Everybody's Sometimes..." - while Nico's vocals empower the druggy "Irreversible Neural Damage..." with a genuinely sinister feel. But by far the best addition is the blistering guitar pyrotechnics of Patto's OLLIE HALSALL ("Didn't Feel Lonely...") who also turns up on two of the four Peel Sessions bonus tracks. They were recorded 7 July 1974 at the BBC's Maida Vale studios. The 24-second "Another Whimsical Song" is a cute ditty, but "Lady Rachel" is beautiful - it's a solo acoustic take of a track off 1969's "Joy Of A Toy" and it sound so good - could have been recorded yesterday. After them follows two band efforts, another "Joy Of A Toy" track and a fab rockin' version of "Didn't Feel Lonely..." where Halsall reproduces that fantastic guitar work again. They are 2009 remasters even though they turned up on 2005's "BBC Sessions" 2CD set - done again for better sound probably. The last 3 are non-album single sides - rare on vinyl and make a welcome addition here on CD. The acoustic strum and deep-throated vocals of "Thank You Very Much" is rarely heard and deserves to be.

The four-part "Confessions Of Dr. Dream" is a bit of a masterpiece frankly - opening with an acoustic drubbing that sounds like trance before there was such a thing - slipping into the upbeat (almost pop) "Invitation". But then you get the coolest break ever - the mid-song change in "The One Chance Dance" - fantastic swirling sound - and so damn cool. It blows me away to this day.

So there you have it - a strange and wonderful album (almost Avant Garde in places) bolstered up with genuinely superb extras you'll play again rather than audition once as a curio.

"...It begins with a blessing...but ends with a curse..." - our Kevin warns us. But sounding fantastic at last - this is one aural shot I want mainlined to my well-addled neural regions any day of the week...

PS: see also my reviews for his other EMI/Harvest 'expanded' CD remasters - "Joy Of A Toy" (1969), "Whatevershebringswesing" (1972), "Bananamour" (1973), "The Confessions Of Dr. Dream And Other Stories" (1974) and "Sweet Deceiver" (1975)

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is CLASSIC 1970s ROCK - an E-Book with over 260 entries and 2450 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

PS: see also my reviews for his other EMI/Harvest 'expanded' CD remasters - "Joy Of A Toy" (1969), "Shooting At The Moon" (1970), "Whatevershebringswesing" (1972), "Bananamour" (1973), "Sweet Deceiver" (1975) and "Yes We Have No Mananas, So Get Your Mananas Today"

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