Thursday, 31 December 2009

“The Virgin Book Of TOP 40 CHARTS” – A Review. A Good Reference Source & A Great Trip Down Memory Lane...

A huge number of artists in this book are part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" 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:


When I got this long and brill 1053-page paperback (with an introduction by DAVID McALEER), I hardly knew where to start...the detail is gargantuan.

It contains every Top 40 UK Singles chart beginning at 10 March 1960 and ending at 3 January 2009 (US customers should note this is ONLY UK charts).

“The Virgin Book Of TOP 40 CHARTS” breaks down like this…
To the far left is the chart position (1, 2, 3 etc), then to the right of that is a column that gives you 'last week's chart position' - which allows you to trace back when the record first showed up on the charts. The title of the song is in BLOCK CAPITOLS while the artist is standard print so you can differentiate quickly and easily which is which. It then gives you the label (Capitol, HMV, RAK, Bell, Polydor etc), but unfortunately not the catalogue number (you need the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles for that). It is updated to 2009 - which the Guinness one isn't.

Another real ace is a track-by-track index in the rear; say you want to check on "Give Me The Night" by GEORGE BENSON - it tells you look at the week ending 2/8/80 which is when it first charted - you know exactly where to locate it - very handy. The final column to the far right gives you the number of weeks it’s been on chart (3, 7 etc).

Browsing through the years if of course half the fun. You notice stuff. There were an awful lot of Number 1’s that were truly awful – and seemed to stay there for an eternity. It’s also interesting to notice that despite having actually lived when "Ride A White Swan" by T.REX first hit the charts in October 1970 - there are titles in that week and the subsequent weeks that I don't remember at all (and some you'd rather forget).

I then figured I'd try to set up some of these Top Forty lists in iTunes on my computer. I chose a week from 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973 - and I found to my astonishment that even with 46,000 songs at my disposal (don't ask!), I only had about half in each list. Many are elusive on CD still.

Downsides - there's no pictures at all to break the monotony - and all those dry lists have little to accompany them by way of text on the changing face of music and the charts - like the Guinness books do (there are a few pages at the beginning on Chart statistics). But it’s still a fantastic reference source. And long overdue too.

I got my copy for just under seven on-line - despite its official twenty-pound price tag.

A great blast from the past - and highly recommended.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

"Original Album Classics" by ARGENT [feat Rod Argent] (2009 Epic/Legacy 5CD Mini Box Set Of Remasters/Card Repro Sleeves) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This Review Along With 500 Others Is Available In My
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
CLASSIC 1970s ROCK On CD - Exception Remasters  
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs 
(No Cut and Paste Crap)

"…A Man Who's Lost…He's Alone…He Bears The Cost…" 

Hardly the most beautiful of objects to behold – five skinny singular Repro Album Sleeves slotted into an outer hard card box with zero info other than track lists. Still – it does at least bring together Rod Argent’s best music from the Seventies in one usable lump (and it sounds pretty damn good too). Unfortunately this particular Box Set in Sony's ongoing series of 5/3CD album reissue sets has been deleted many years now and subsequently acquired a bit of a price tag. So here are the details, tragedies and the heads held up…

Released March 2009 - "Original Album Classics" by ARGENT is a 5CD Mini Box Set on Epic/Legacy 88697445472 and breaks down as follows...

Disc 1 is "Argent" (40:39 minutes):
1. Like Honey
2. Liar
3 Be Free
4. Schoolgirl
5. Dance In The Smoke
5. Lonely Hard Road [Side 2]
6. The Feeling Is Inside
7. Freefall
8. Stepping Stones
9. Bring You Joy
Tracks 1 to 10 are their debut album issued in 1970 in the UK on CBS S 63781 and in the USA on Epic BN 26525

Disc 2 is "Ring Of Hands" (42:52 minutes):
1. Celebration
2. Sweet Mary
3. Cast Your Spell Uranus
4. Lothiorien
5. Chained [Side 2]
6. Rejoice
7. Pleasure
8. Sleep Won’t Help Me
9. Where Are We Going Wrong
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 2nd album issued in 1971 in the UK on Epic S 64190 and on Epic KE 30128

Disc 3 is "All Together Now" (41:42 minutes)"
1. Hold Your Head Up (Album Version)
2. Keep On Rollin’
3. Tragedy (Album Version)
4. I Am The Dance Of Ages
5. Be My Lover, Be My Friend [Side 2]
6. He’s A Dynamo
7. Pure Love: (i) Fantasia (ii) Prelude (iii) Pure Love (iv) Finale
Tracks 1 to 7 are their 3rd album issued in April 1972 in the UK on Epic S EPC 64962 and in the USA on Epic KE 31556

Disc 4 is "In Deep" (45:24 minutes):
1. God Gave Rock And Roll To You
2. It’s Only Money (Part 1)
3. It’s Only Money (Part 2)
4. Losing Hold
5. Be Glad [Side 2]
6. Christmas For The Free
7. Candles On The River
8. Rosie
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 4th album issued in 1973 in the UK on Epic S EPC 65475 and in the USA on Epic KE 32195

Disc 5 is "Nexus" (42:10 minutes):
1. The Coming Of Kohoutek
2. Once Around The Sun
3. Infinite Wanderer
4. Love
5. Music From The Spheres
6. Thunder And Lightning [Side 2]
7. Keeper Of The Flame
8. Man For All Reasons
9. Gonna Meet My Maker
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 5th album issued in 1974 in the UK on Epic S EPC 65924 and in the USA on Epic KE 32573

Each card repro is a single sleeve - the UK gatefold artwork for "Argent", "Ring Of Hands" and "All Together Now" (including its 4-page insert) is NOT reproduced on these issues; while the "Nexus" title uses the 'US' artwork, which is different to the UK issue. However, Sony/Legacy has the full details and booklets for each title downloadable from

As you can see from the song numbers listed above, none of the CDs contain extra tracks - in particular the 7" single edits of "Hold Your Head Up" and "God Gave Rock And Roll To You" or the unique US mixes of their first 2 singles "Liar" and "Rejoice". You have to buy those separately and they're all available on a USA 2008 18-track Epic CD compilation called "Greatest - The Singles Collection" (it's also available via an iTunes download).

It doesn't say who's remastered what or where, but the sound is good overall - superb in some places ("All Together Now") - but unfortunately only mediocre in others. For instance, "In Deep" and "Nexus" got lumped together as 2 albums on one CD a few years ago which received bad reviews - in particular to do with its mastering (some even suggesting that vinyl was used). That's not the case on these versions of those two albums - tracks like "Losing You" from "In Deep" and "Once Around The Sun" and "Man For All Reasons" from "Nexus" (lyrics above) all have quite patches in them - but there's no clicking or popping here. What there is a certain kind of top-end muddiness - I think it's inherent to the way they were recorded. I'm afraid I've found a lot of Legacy issues like this (not all of course) - they're good - but hardly great.

And in that Seventies progressive kind of a way, some of the music is of course horribly dated too, but other portions of it (especially the excellent first 2 albums) is truly superb 70's rock well worth re-discovering.

Overall - a fairly good way of acquiring now quite pricey albums on original vinyl - and a revelatory jaunt down a not-so-familiar rock path... 

PS: Other artists in the “ORIGINAL ALBUM CLASSICS” Series are [FIVE DISC SETS]…
1.    The Allman Brothers Band
2.    Jeff Beck
3.    George Benson
4.    Big Audio Dynamite
5.    Blood, Sweat & Tears
6.    Blue Oyster Cult
7.    Pierre Boulez
8.    The Brecker Brothers
9.    The Byrds
10. Johnny Cash
11. Cheap Trick
12. Stanley Clarke
13. Cypress Hill
14. Miles Davis
15. Duke Ellington
16. Earth, Wind & Fire
17. Agnetha Faltskog [Frida of Abba]
18. Rory Gallagher
19. Hall & Oates
20. The Isley Brothers [see REVIEW]
21. The Jacksons
22. Jefferson Airplane
23. Jefferson Starship
24. Judas Priest
25. Kansas
26. Carole King
27. Kris Kristofferson
28. Mario Lanza
29. The Mahavishnu Orchestra
30. Henri Mancini
31. John McLaughlin
32. Thelonious Monk
33. Mott The Hoople
34. Willie Nelson
35. Harry Nilsson
36. Ted Nugent
37. Dolly Parton
38. Poco
39. Prefab Sprout
40. Elvis Presley
41. The Psychedelic Furs
42. Lou Reed
43. Lou Reed Vol.2
44. Sonny Rollins
45. Santana Box 1
46. Santana Box 2
47. Joe Satriani
48. Nina Simone
49. Lonnie Liston Smith
50. Patti Smith
51. Smokie
52. The Stranglers
53. Steve Vai
54. Various - Carols For Christmas
55. Various – The Joys Of Christmas
56. Weather Report
57. John Williams

PPS: 2010 sees the introduction of THREE DISC SETS in the Series from…
1.    Jennifer Brown
2.    Agnetha Faltskog [Frida of Abba]
3.    Fleetwood Mac
4.    Journey
5.    Scorpions
6.    Simon & Garfunkel
7.    The Walker Brothers

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

“My Feeling For The Blues” by FREDDIE KING. A Review of his US-Only 1970 Album on Cotillion Records Reissued By Repertoire on CD in 1991.

"…One Day We Have Ham And Bacon…And The Next Day…Ain’t Nothin’ Shakin’…"

The mid to late Sixties was a strange and difficult time for many Blues men – most were without contracts, forgotten and under-appreciated - then the Blues boom happened (particularly in the UK) and many had their careers kick-started again. Freddie King was no exception.

His last album had been for Federal in 1964, but with a new lease of life on the mighty Atlantic label, he produced two much revered LPs in rapid succession. The first was “Freddie King Is A Blues Master” released in 1969 on SD 9004 and then this peach - “My Feeling For The Blues” on Cotillion SD 9016 released in early 1970.

This 1991 Repertoire CD (REP 4170-WZ) is a straightforward transfer of that second 11-track album (36:03 minutes).

Ace saxophonist KING CURTIS produced the record - with all arrangements by Atlantic’s newest soul protégé DONNY HATHAWAY (except “Woke Up This Morning” which was Arranged by King Curtis).

The musicians for the sessions were:
Lead Guitar & Vocals – FREDDIE KING
Rhythm Guitar – CORNELL DUPREE
Tenor Saxophones – GEORGE COLEMAN and FRANK WESS
Tenor & Baritone Saxophones – TREVOR LAWRENCE and WILLE BRIDGES
“What’d I Say” features Bass Marimba and Sax Solo by KING CURTIS
“You Don’t Have To Go” and “The Things I Used To Do” feature Harmonica by HUGH McCRACKEN

The 3-way foldout inlay has a brief but informative history of King’s career by BERND MATHEJA that is sided on Page 3 by a selected Discography. Although licensed from East West, it doesn’t advise who remastered what – but the sound quality is great nonetheless – clean, muscular and so enjoyable. Repertoire as a label has always had a good reputation when it comes to transfers.

Side 1 opens with the down and dirty “Yonder Wall” which not surprisingly for the date it was recorded name-checks men coming home from the Vietnam War. It’s followed by a cracking Freddie King instrumental called “The Stumble” – the kind of cool boppin’ blues tune that turns up on those hip compilations you read about. “I Wonder Why” and “Stormy Monday” (BB King and Jimmy Witherspoon covers) get the brassy treatment like “Yonder Wall” to great effect, while Side 1 ends with a wonderful take on Willie Mabon’s “I Don’t Know” with the bass really forward and funky in the mix.

Side 2 opens with a version of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” that builds like the Atlantic original did, which is followed by one of my favourites, a fabulous soulful take on Jimmy Witherspoon’s standard “Ain’t Nobody’s Business What We Do” (lyrics above). It’s followed by a superb harmonica driven shuffle, a cover of Jimmy Reed’s “You Don’t Have To Go” which features Freddie giving it some funky blues – such a cool number. The pace is then expertly changed to another “…my baby is gone…” song, a cover of B.B. King’s “Woke Up This Morning” with punchy brass fills (you can hear Hathaway’s soulfulness in a lot of the arrangements).

This album has been reissued subsequently in 2008 by another company but apparently the sound isn’t the greatest; the only other stop is the July 2009 Bear Family Box Set called “Taking Care Of Business” that covers everything from 1956 through to 1973 across 7 CDs and a Hardback Book - a Christmas treat I feel certain I’m going to allow myself.

Born in 1934, Freddie King suffered a heart attack at a concert in December 1976 and passed away two days later. Name-checked by hosts of luminaries like Eric Clapton and Peter Green, on hearing this totally forgotten peach of an album, it’s easy to see why this bluesman is remembered with such affection.

A nice CD and worth seeking out - next stop the bank-manager and Bear Family’s stupendous box set…

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

"CADILLAC WALK - The Mink DeVille Collection" by MINK De VILLE [featuring Willy DeVille] (2001 EMI CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This review is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" 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:


"…She’s My Inspiration Dressed In Red…She’s Spinning All My Friends Heads…"

This unassuming and slightly forgotten September 2001 CD compilation is a superb little number - and for two of the best reasons - track choices and sound.

"Cadillac Walk - The Mink DeVille Collection" by MINK DeVILLE on EMI/Capitol 5350162 (Barcode 724353501624) gives us 22 songs taken from Willy DeVille's first three albums for Capitol Records credited as the band MINK DeVILLE - all of which feature truly fantastic 24-Bit Remastering by EVREN GOKNAR. There have been reissues of this stuff before but never sounding this breaks down as follows (70:22 minutes):

1. Spanish Stroll
2. Mixed Up Shook Up Girl
3. She’s So Tough
4. Cadillac Walk
5. Gunslinger
6. Venus Of Avenue D
7. Little Girl
Tracks 1 to 7 are from their debut album "Mink DeVille" [aka "Cabretta"] issued in the US in June 1977 on Capitol ST-11631 and June 1977 in the UK on Capitol E-ST 11631 (7 of its 10 songs are here - produced by JACK NITZSCHE)

8. ‘A' Train Lady
9. Guardian Angel
10. Confidence To Kill
11. Soul Twist
12. Desperate Days
13. I Broke That Promise
14. Just Your Friends
Tracks 8 to 15 are from their second album "Return To Magenta" issued April 1978 in the USA on Capitol ST-11780 and July 1978 in the UK on Capitol E-ST 11780 (7 of its 10 songs are here - also produced by JACK NITZSCHE)

16. This Must Be The Night
17. Savoir Faire
18. Mazurka
19. Turn You Every Way But Loose
20. Bad Boy
21. Just To Walk That Little Girl Home
22. That World Outside
Tracks 16 to 22 are from their third album "Le Chat Bleu" issued in the UK in March 1980 on Capitol E-ST 25390 and in the USA in September 1980 on Capitol ST-11955. Their 3rd album was co-produced by DeVille with legendary saxophonist STEVE DOUGLAS.
NOTE: Both albums in the UK album and USA sported 10 cuts - but the US version had a different track run to the UK variant on Side 2 only. The US version replaced the UK “Mazurka” track with "Turn You Every Way But Loose" – both of these songs are on this compilation (Tracks 18 and 19). This CD therefore offers 7 remastered tracks out of a total of 11 across the UK and US variants.

The 8-page booklet has detailed and very affectionate liner notes by BEN EDMONDS while the inlay beneath the see-through CD tray pictures single and album sleeves from all over the world - a nice touch. While the wonderful "Spanish Stroll" is a great opener, it's not until you reach "The Immortals" singing their doo-wop back up vocals on "Mixed Up Shook Up Girl" that you really start to hear how good the sound quality is - this is a beautifully remastered disc. The cover of John "Moon" Martin's "Cadillac Walk" is punchy as hell too, while the big slide intro for "Venus Of Avenue D" sounds so muscular - a cool street hustle beat that is so Lou Reed it's brilliant (lyrics above).

His 3rd album benefited enormously from a like-minded soul when DeVille co-wrote many of its songs with the legendary DOC POMUS - "Just To Walk That Little Girl Home" and the almost Spector feel to "You Just Keep Me Holding On" are lovely (Steve Douglas who worked with Spector in the Sixties probably made sure of that huge sound).  Another little gem is "Bad Boy" - a typically cool cover; it was a hit for a Rhythm 'n' Blues Vocal Group called THE JIVE BOMBERS in 1957 on Savoy; it was subsequently used on the soundtrack to the 1983 movie "Breathless". 

Niggles - it's a damn shame that Cabretta's Side 2 opener "Can't Do Without It" which also features The Immortals isn't on here - and another gem "Steady Drivin' Man" from "Return To Magenta" is missing too, but it's good for UK buyers to have "Turn You Every Way But Loose" which was exclusive to the original US LP (see above). Ok - so eight tracks across the 3 albums are missing and when you check the seventy minute playing time, a couple more could have been thrown in easily - but dirt cheap online - "Cadillac Walk" is still stunning value for (peanuts) money.

DeVille then signed to Atlantic and produced two more albums "Coup De Grace" (1981) and "Where Angels Fear To Tread" (1983). Thereafter releases were sporadic but often brilliant - "Miracle" in 1988 with MARK KNOPFLER jumps to mind - it's long been a unspoken masterpiece in my mind and a hi-fi wet dream - while "Loup Garou" from 1996 saw him return to his more romantic troubadour persona but with honesty about his fatal drug-taking - I play both to this day and love them to bits (see review for "Miracle").

Aged only 56 - Willy De Ville sadly died of Pancreatic Cancer in August 2009 - another one of my heroes from the vinyl-days gone. I only have to hear "Hey Johnny! They lookin' for you man..." in "Spanish Stroll" and I'm beaming. This superb CD is a great way to remember him by… 




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I GOT THE NEWS - 1975 to 1979 Exceptional CD Remasters


MY BROKEN HEART (75 Days In The NHS) - Poem of Poems

1969 - WHOLE LOTTA LOVE - Your All-Genres Guide To Exceptional CD Remasters and Reissues...



TUMBLING DICE - 1972 - Exceptional CD Remasters

ELOQUENT PROFANITY - 1973 - Exceptional CD Remasters







INDEX - Entries and Artist Posts in Alphabetical Order