Thursday, 15 September 2011

"Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" by THE DRAMATICS. A Review Of Their 1972 Soul Album Now Remastered And Expanded Onto A 2011 "Stax Remasters" CD.

This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" 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:


"…I'm For Real…Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get…"

What this 2011 CD doesn’t advertise too well is that it contains 'two' Stax albums and not just one – and then for good measure - throws in two more bonus tracks as well (and it’s pitched at mid-price too). Here are the details…

Released Monday 12 September 2011 in the UK (reissued 12 Oct 2011), Concord Music Group, Inc 0888072331761 breaks down as follows (59:03 minutes):

Tracks 1 to 8 are their debut album "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" – released January 1972 in the USA on Volt Records VOS-6018 and April 1972 in the UK on Stax Records 2362 025

Tracks 9 to 16 are their 2nd album "A Dramatic Experience" – released October 1973 in the USA on Volt Records VOS-6019 and April 1974 in the UK on Stax Records STX 1021

Tracks 17 and 18 are "Stand Up Clap Your Hands" and "Hum A Song (From Your Heart)" – two previously unreleased tracks which first appeared on the 1991 CD reissue of "A Dramatic Sensation"

The new 12-page booklet has very knowledgeable and affectionate liner notes by ROB BOWMAN (author of “Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story Of Stax Records”). You also get the original artwork on the front and rear of the booklet, musician and session details, a collage of 2 photos on the inlay beneath the see-through tray and the disc itself pictures the original LP sleeve (front and rear). But it’s a shame the booklet doesn’t go any further – there’s no new photos, no memorabilia – not even a picture of the title track – their most famous and beloved tune. Surely a promo 45 could have been procured? It makes the inlay feel workmanlike at best – even a little dull – when it should have spread its wings a little. But the big news is the SOUND…

I bought and recently reviewed two other titles in this new "Stax Remasters" series - "Be Altitude: Respect Yourself" by The Staples Singers and “McLemore Avenue” by Booker T. & The M.G.’s and duly raved about the fabulous sound quality on both – especially after years of lacklustre reissues in jewel cases and repro digipaks.
Well this is the same. 24-bit remastered from the first generation tapes at JOE TARANTINO Mastering in Berkeley, California – the audio quality is fantastic – which of course makes you reassess every song – and here it gives incredible clarity to these hugely underrated and largely forgotten Soul albums.

Highlights include "In The Rain" which has a melodrama formula that 'so' works. The song intro is a thunderstorm - rainfall then fills the speakers - only to succumb to a heavily echoed guitar which actually sounds like a man crying. With William "Wee Gee" Howard's pleading vocals and Dennis Coffey on that treated guitar, the public and radio loved it - sending "In The Rain" all the way to the No.1 spot on the US R'n'B charts. The sound quality of the horn player on "Gimme Some (Good Soul Music)" is startling too – so clear – and the tune is reminiscent of The Temptations at their upbeat best.
Even the two bonus tracks don’t disgrace themselves - especially the "…get it together…" message funk of "Stand Up Clap Your Hands".
The title track "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get" too has been gracing CD compilations for decades – a stone Soul classic (lyrics above).

To sum up – this is as superlative value-for-money reissue with top-notch Seventies Soul and sound quality that trumps everything that’s gone before.

The book of 'Guinness World Records 2012' is launched today (15 Sep 2011) and in it they celebrate Aevin Dugas from New Orleans - who at 4ft 4in. - officially has the world’s biggest Afro Hairdo.

Well - like Aevin - this CD is both impossibly cool and worthy of written celebration. Recommended.

PS: titles in the "STAX REMASTERS" series are:
1. McLemore Avenue - BOOKER T. & THE M.G.'S (1970) [May 2011]
2. Woman To Woman - SHIRLEY BROWN (1975) [September 2011]
3. Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get – THE DRAMATICS (1972) [September 2011]
4. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself - THE STAPLE SINGERS (1972) [May 2011]
5. Tailored In Silk - JOHNNIE TAYLOR (1973) [May 2011]
6. Do The Funky Chicken – RUFUS THOMAS (1970) [September 2011]

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