Saturday, 28 November 2009

“Jordan: The Comeback” by PREFAB SPROUT, A Review of their 1990 Album Now Released as a Japan-Only 2009 CD Remaster on Sony Music/Epic.

"…Long Ago…One Glorious Night…We Let The Stars Go…”

"Jordan: The Comeback" was first issued September 1990 on Kitchenware Records in the UK and on Epic Records in the USA. With its whopping 19 tracks clocking in at nearly five minutes over one hour, Prefab Sprout’s 4th (and some say most accomplished) album was a bit of a monster to take in. But, to many ears, it was also an audiophile let down. Barely listenable on LP or cassette because of the extended playing time, the CD also seemed to have no muscle in it either – although noted producer Thomas Dolby was at the helm.

Fast forward to nearly 20 years later and at last the entire album receives the sonic upgrade it’s always deserved – and Paddy McAloon’s astonishing songwriting finally gets to shine – even it is on a limited edition import...

This 21 October 2009 Japan-only CD is on Epic EICP 1278 (Sony Music Japan) and is part of 6 albums reissued there – all in remastered form (64:12 minutes). It’s one of those mini LP replica sleeves in an Obi and sealable outer plastic, which also reproduces the original inner sleeve. The inner sleeve’s nice to look at, but of course because of its 5-inch size, virtually illegible – hence the need for the separate lyric booklet.

CD sites in Japan have claimed that each has 2009 remastering, and although I can’t actually find this in writing anywhere on the disc or packaging (that I can understand), when I A/B the sound with my old disc, it is obvious that things have improved hugely because the difference couldn’t be more marked – and almost all of it - for the better.

To my ears certain tracks are at least twice what they were - and not in a garish way where the treble is simply amplified ever upwards – the remastering is subtler than that. I’m hearing stuff everywhere. The synth and vocal intro to “Machine Gun Ibiza” is so clear now and at about 36 seconds when the drums finally kick in – you can ‘really’ feel it. The swirling vocals and keyboards of “We Let The Stars Go” is gorgeous too (lyrics above) while the acoustic guitar and echoed vocals of “Mercy” is so clean and clear now that it’s made the song even more ethereal and beautiful.

Again Paddy McAloon’s spoken vocal intro on “Jordan: The Comeback” is so clear too and when the band kicks in at 48 seconds, the muscle is there – sweet, clean and full. The sort of Charleston shuffle of the rhythm section on “The Wedding March” is also better as is the astonishing clarity on “Jesse James Symphony”. Disappointingly, I found one of my favourites tracks “One Of The Broken” to be a bit underwhelming – it’s good – but I was hoping for more. And tracks that I didn’t give much time to before now seem suddenly brilliant – “Moon Dog” and “The Ice Maiden” jump to mind – both kicking in – in all the right ways.

Another repeat pleasure is revisiting the brilliance of those great lyrics – here are two gems that I’ve always thought of as genius…

From “One Of The Broken“
“Hi! This is God here
Talking to me used to be a simple affair –
Moses only has to see a burning bush
And he’d pull up a chair…”


From “Moon Dog”
“The world was different then
In bed asleep by ten –
And Daddies shook their fists
At hidden Communists…”

By the time the huge guitars and drums of “Scarlet Nights” arrive and rattle your speaker cones, you’re convinced.

It is of course a shame that the unreleased tracks off the singles “Looking For Atlantis” and “We Let The Stars Go” are not on here, but this release doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a straightforward transfer of the album.

With no sign of British or US remastered versions on the horizon, fans of this superb British band and their brilliant album will need to own this.

Recommended wholeheartedly.

PS: the other albums reissued in this Japanese Limited Edition series are:
1. “Swoon” (1983) on Epic EICP 1276 (21 October 2009 release)
2. “Steve McQueen” (1985) on Epic EICP 1244 (26 August 2009 release)
3. “From Langley Park To Memphis” (1988) on Epic EICP 1245 (26 August 2009 release)
4. “Protest Songs” (1985 Recordings Released in 1989) on Epic EICP 1277 (21 October 2009 release)
5. “Andromeda Heights” (1997) on Epic EICP 1279 (21 October 2009 release)

PPS: see also my review for “From Langley Park To Memphis” from the same series

PPS: thanks to TIM SQUIER of Revival Records for a lend of the 2 CDs

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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