Tuesday, 29 November 2011

"I Miss You” by HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (2010 Big Break Records (BBR) 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Four Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"…Yesterday I Had The Blues…"

Released October 2010 in the UK - this CD reissue of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ 1972 classic debut album “I Miss You” on Philadelphia International is a peach - properly fabulous Seventies Soul - and its bolstered up with 4 excellent bonus cuts too.

Here are the sensual details for "I Miss You" by HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES on Big Break Records CDBBR 0018 (Barcode 5013929031821) - an 'Expanded Edition' CD that plays out as follows (51:49 minutes):

1. I Miss You [Full Album Version]
2. Ebony Woman
3. Yesterday I Had The Blues
4. If You Don’t Know Me By Now [Side 2]
5. Be For Real
6. Let Me Into Your World
7. Let It Be You
Tracks 1 to 7 are the album "I Miss You" released September 1972 in the USA on Philadelphia International KZ 31648 and February 1973 in the UK on CBS Records S 65350 as "Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes" (with the same track list). It was reissued again in 1974 as “Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes” on Philadelphia International S PIR 65934 in the UK.

8. I Miss You (Part 1) (7" Single Edit Version)
9. Yesterday I Had The Blues (7" Single Edit Version)
10. Be For Real (7" Single Edit Version)
11. If You Don't Know Me By Now (Live In San Francisco, 1973) - this version (featuring Teddy Pendergrass) first appeared on the 2004 Legacy reissue of the album as a previously unreleased bonus track

At the time of release the album produced 3 singles in the USA and 2 in the UK with an album track edit of "Be For Real" later used as a B-side in 1975. There were also reissues of the two big hits "If You Don't Know Me By Now" and "I Miss You (Part 1)" in 1974 and 1975 on both sides of the pond. This reissue will allow fans to sequence on CD all of these 7" single tracks for the first time:

1. I Miss You (Part 1) b/w (Part 2)
(May 1972, Philadelphia International ZS7 3516)
2. If You Don't Know Me By Now b/w Let Me Into Your World
(September 1972, Philadelphia International ZS7 3520
 - also issued on Epic 8453 with a Picture Sleeve)
3. Yesterday I Had The Blues b/w Ebony Woman
(March 1973, Philadelphia International KS7 3525)
4. Hope That We Can Be Together Soon b/w Be For Real
(October 1975, Philadelphia International ZS8 3569)
5. If You Don't Know Me By Now b/w I Miss You (Part 1)
(1975 Reissue on Philadelphia International ZS8 3752)

1. If You Don't Know Me By Now b/w Le Me Into Your World
(January 1973, CBS Records CBS S 8496)
2. I Miss You (Part One) b/w (Part Two)
(April 1973, CBS Records S CBS 8291)
3. If You Don't Know Me By Now b/w Let Me Into Your World
(1974 reissue on Philadelphia International S PIR 2210)

Some history on the original LP is needed. The title of this release and its artwork will seem unusual even to the most ardent of soul fans - that's because this BBR CD reissue cleverly uses the original US album artwork for the first time. The story goes like this - released in August 1972 as "I Miss You" with the smiley faces cover presented here - the breakthrough single "If You Don't Know Me By Now" finally charted big in October of that year and was essentially the beginning of success for Gamble and Huff's heavily subsidized Philadelphia International label. The torch ballad's classy soulful feel caught the public's attention and affections immediately - eventually rising to Number 1 on the US R'n'B charts (it reached No 9 in the UK Pop charts in January 1973 also). On the back of this success both nationally and internationally - and to present a more sophisticated front - the album's name was changed to simply "Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes". The reissue however (released November 1972 using the same US catalogue number) came in a new sleeve - the far-better and now familiar 'blue' photo artwork where the boys stand in classier suits and stare out at us in a more sombre and soulful way. The 'blue' sleeve artwork (which the British issue only ever used) is featured on the inside flap of the booklet. It's a nice touch...spot-checking the original....

The 12-page booklet has an informative and detailed essay on the album and the beginning of the Philadelphia International label by STUART WEST. In between text is pictures of US 45's, band photos and full discography info. It's very well done and the jewel case is one of those new rounded-corner affairs - very tasty. But the really great news is the SOUND...

As with other BBR releases - this remaster uses the 'original tapes' and has been carried out by WAYNE A. DICKSON at the BBR Studios. The results are wonderful. I've had the 2004 Legacy issue to have the music - but this transfer is 'so' much better. There is slight hiss on the opener "I Miss You" but it's absolutely negligible because once into the lengthy ballad - the AUDIO IS GORGEOUS. And of course the virtually uncredited presence of TEDDY PENDERGRASS on Lead Vocals lifts the Gamble & Huff songs and lush production values into the stratosphere (six of the 7 songs are penned by them). His monologue on "Be For Real" about social inequality and inner city divides - feels very Marvin Gaye circa "What's Going On" - but with that Philly string sound thrown in.

In fact it should be mentioned that two of the 3 songs on Side 1 - the big smoochers "I Miss You" and "Yesterday I Had The Blues" (lyrics above) - are 'Full Album Versions' which stretch out to 8:39 and 7:33 minutes respectively. For me, they've always overstayed their welcome a bit too much - so it's a blast to get their 7" single edits for the first time as bonus tracks. They are so lovely - and without the overkill of the LP versions. 

So there you have it - another winner in an impressive cannon of reissues for Big Break Records. Fans of the band and the Philly Sound will need to own this. And from here you go straight to the albums "Black And Blue" (1973) and "Wake Up Everybody" (1975) - two more gems from that extraordinarily creative team and time period (see reviews).

To sum up - I'm glad to say that the dedication in the liner notes by BBR staff to their Soul heroes - Harold Melvin and Teddy Pendergrass - is genuine - and Big Break have honoured their musical legacy with this superb sounding CD…

PS: Other Big Break Records (BBR) CD Remasters I’ve reviewed:
1. Is It Still Good To Ya – ASHFORD and SIMPSON (1978)
2. Stay Free – ASHFORD and SIMPSON (1979)
3. Central Heating – HEATWAVE (1977)
4. Hot Property - HEATWAVE (1979)
5. Candles - HEATWAVE (1980)
6. Turnin' On - HIGH INERGY (1977)
7. Harvest For The World - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1976)
8. Go For Your Guns - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1977)
9. In The Heart – KOOL & THE GANG (1983)
10. I Hope We Get To Love On Time - MARILYN McCOO & BILLY DAVIS (1976)
11.  I Miss You - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1972) [known as "Harold Melvin The Blue Notes" in the UK]
12. Black & Blue - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1973)
13. Love Is The Message - MFSB (1973)
14. Universal Love – MFSB (1975)
15. All The Faces Of... - BUDDY MILES (1974)
16. For The First Time – STEPHANIE MILLS (1975)
17. I Can See Clearly Now - JOHNNY NASH (1972)
18. In Philadelphia - O'JAYS (1969)
19. Back Stabbers - O'JAYS (1972)
20. Ship Ahoy - O'JAYS (1973)
21. Down To Love Town – THE ORIGINALS (1977)
22. Ebony Woman - BILLY PAUL (1970 and 1973)
23. 360 Degrees Of Billy Paul - BILLY PAUL (1972)
24. War Of The Gods - BILLY PAUL (1973)
25. Platinum Hook – PLATINUM HOOK (1978)
26. Love For What It Is - ANITA POINTER (of The Pointer Sisters) (1987)
27. Live: Stompin’ At The Savoy – RUFUS and CHAKA KHAN (1983)
28. Summernights – SILVER CONVENTION (1977)
29. Smoked Sugar - SMOKED SUGAR (1975)
30. Spinners – SPINNERS (1973)
31. Soul Master – EDWIN STARR (1968)
32. Involved - EDWIN STARR (1971)
33. Switch - SWITCH (1978)
34. Watercolors – THE WATERS (1980)
35. Just As I Am - BILL WITHERS (1971)
36. Heartbeats – YARBROUGH & PEOPLES (1983)

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