Sunday, 12 June 2011

“The Music Of…” by LABI SIFFRE (September 2001 EMI Gold CD Compilation featuring almost all of two EMI LPs from 1975 "Remember My Song" and "Happy?") - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Remove My Heart...It Don't Do Me No Good..."
The gatefold slip of paper that is the inlay on this rather naff-looking CD compilation for some of Labi Siffre’s more obscure 70ts output gives you no information whatsoever on what's what (its total playing time is 78:25 minutes). So here are the gory details...

UK issued in 17 September 2001 - "The Music Of Labi Siffre" by LABI SIFFRE on EMI Gold 535 5752 (Barcode 724353557522) is a single CD compilation that gathers together the guts of two rare and largely forgotten Siffre albums - both from 1975 on EMI Records. With only one song missing from the first LP (available elsewhere) - you can sequence them both from this CD as follows...

"Remember My Song" - his 5th studio album, released March 1975 in the UK on EMI Records EMC 3065
Side 1:
I Got The... (Track 1)
Another Year (Track 2)
Old Time Song (Track 3)
The Vulture (Track 4)

Side 2:
Dreamer (Track 5)
Sadie And The Devil (Track 6)
Turn On Your Love (Track 7)
Remember My Song (Track 8)

"Happy?" - his 6th studio album, released November 1975 in the UK on EMI Records EMC 3098
Side 1:
Love-A-Love-A-Love-A-Love-A (Track 9)
You Hurt Me (Track 10)
Doctor Doctor (Track 11)
Second Time Around (Track 12)
Would You Dance? (Track 13)

Side 2:
Supaluvva (Track 14)
Staride To Nowhere (Track 15)
You've Done Something To My Heart (Track 16)
Sally Came To Stay (Track 17)
La-De-Da-De-Da (Lost Without Your Love) (Track 18)

As you see from the list above - the song "Down" from the "Remember My Song" LP is missing from this 18-track compilation. That album (along with earlier LPs on Pye Records) were reissued as CD remasters in 2006 also by EMI - so if you want that song, 3 extra bonus tracks and far better sound - look to the 2006 issue. The "Happy?" album (in its entirety) is only available here.

Both records are very mid Seventies singer-songwriter material, but with a slightly more soulful tint on some tracks. Two huge club hits are "I Got The..." which contains the now famous funky bass-break half way through it as sampled by EMINEM on his "My Name Is" hit - while "The Vulture" has been club played for years now. In fact the original vinyl album of "Remember My Song" used to once command a £150 price tag because it had those 2 songs on it and were unavailable on CD prior to 2001.

Other tracks on "Happy?" are worth having too - the soulful-funky "Second Time Around" and the almost Steely Dan keyboard slink of "Doctor Doctor" (lyrics above). The lovely acoustic "Staride To Nowhere" was even issued as a 45 in the UK and "Sally Came To Stay" has the prettiest of melodies. Siffre would retire from music until 1987's extraordinarily powerful anti-racism song "(Something Inside) So Strong" on China Records.

It's not all genius of course, but it's dirt cheap, loaded with gems in between the cracks and has very acceptable sound.

From here, I'd advise to go to his first four albums on Pye Records - "Labi Siffre" (1970), "The Singer And The Song" (1971), "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" (1972) and "For The Children" (1973) - I've reviewed them all separately and they're uniformly excellent (with truly superlative remastered sound and bonus tracks).

Siffre has a loyal and dedicated fan following - and there are moments on this unassuming compilation when you can 'so' hear why...

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