Monday, 30 April 2012

Ghost Protocol On BLU RAY. Mission Impossible 4 Reviewed.

                                 
“…This Review Will Abseil Up Its Own Arse In Five Seconds…Sizzle…Sizzle…”

Bought this today - just finished watching it - and already have a bad feeling that I should have saved my money and waited for the rental.

"MI:4" has all the usual hair-brained stunts - a convoluted plotline about some Russian loony Hell bent on setting off nuclear Armageddon (aren't they always) - leggy molls with silencer guns, cleavage and perfect teeth (in that order) - very fast and very garish cars - even faster sandstorms - a blown-up wing of the Kremlin - a flash Hotel in Mumbai - Sawyer from "Lost" having an all-too-brief lifespan in Budapest (really should have used more of Josh Holloway) - the Cruiser crawling around the outside of the tallest building in the world (in Delhi) with magnetic gloves that only half work - etc etc...

Jeremy Renner and Paula Patton do their stony-faced best as new members of the IMF team - but neither ever gets properly comfortable in all that wall-abseiling, gadget operating, sub-Bond silliness. But Simon Pegg is a revelation. His deadpan and very, very funny contribution to "Ghost Protocol" is just what's needed a lot of the time (man did they get lucky casting him) - and some would say he practically ‘makes’ the movie.

But I have to say that I found "MI:4" strangely lacklustre. Admittedly the false-screen visual in the vaults of the Kremlin is so clever - and the Hotel stunt is stupendous - but you've already seen the guts of it in trailers that typically give away too much. Cruise as Ethan Hunt still looks good if not a little too old to be doing this juvenile dreck - and that stench of making money for Scientology by doing ever more ludicrous stunts - hangs over everything. Perhaps we've just seen this sort of 'popcorn fun' one too many times - in fact to a point where it isn't 'fun' anymore.

Amazingly too (for a brand new release in 2012) - I found the BLU RAY picture quality to be decidedly weak in definition - and at times felt like an ok-only DVD. It's also defaulted to 2.35:1 aspect so you've got bars top and bottom of the screen - which I can't stand. You can of course extend it - but that compromises the quality and subtitles.

"Ghost Protocol" is fun in places - it is - but it feels formulaic to the extreme and like they're all doing a job rather than having fun in the job. Perhaps enough is enough for the ‘disavow all knowledge’ team - because on the strength of “Ghost Protocol” - there's very definitely a whiff of diminishing returns in the "Mission Impossible" franchise.

Resist that theme song folks - I'd advise a rental on this one rather than a purchase...

Sunday, 29 April 2012

“The Blues Brothers – Augmented Reality Edition BLU RAY”. A Review Of The 2012 Reissue In Universal Studios “100th Anniversary” Series.


“…We’re On A Mission From God…”

Part of Universal Studios “100th Anniversary” celebrations - there are 15 UK-released titles in this 2012 BLU RAY and DVD series – and “The Blues Brothers” is one of them – an “Augmented Reality” issue.

So what is “Augmented Reality”? It’s a 3D mini-show that’s built into the front sleeve of each release. You download the free “Universal 100 App” to your Smartphone or Tablet (iPhone 3GS or above, iPad 2, Android and other high-end devices) – you open the download and hold your phone/tablet over the front sleeve. It loads up on your phone and begins playing a 3D display which lasts for about 20 seconds - in this case - both suited boys dancing on the cover. The "Jurassic Park" release has a Velocoraptor attack a T.Rex while it roars - pretty silly and over before it starts...

As you can imagine this is essentially a ‘gimmick’ primarily only available to iPhones users and the novelty wears off pretty quickly. Worse - some marketing bright spark has also stuck a lengthy “Lifetime Of Memories” Universal sticker right across the back of each release advertising holidays and prizes you can win – except that it completely covers that part of the back-cover whcih tells you what BONUSES on the disc. In other words you cannot tell what’s actually on the disc! It’s a simple mistake - but a staggeringly stupid one – and I’d argue sabotages sales of otherwise excellent titles. For instance this “Blues Brothers” issue has BOTH the Theatrical Release and the Extended Version – a superbly restored print - and comprehensive extras - but the packaging doesn’t tell you that because its busy selling you competitions and 3D gimmick packaging that few will see let alone want.

Better is the ‘price’ – this is the first time Universal has reissued BLU RAY retailing at less than ten pounds (these singular discs are eight quid in most places - the DVDs two for a tenner).

PRINT QUALITY:
Despite some grain and bad picture quality as the credits role – when you get to the following sequence where Jake (John Belushi) is being paroled from Chicago’s Joliet Prison – suddenly both the picture and sound kick in to extraordinary effect – really clean - and it pretty much stays that way for most of the movie. And while the print is beautiful in many places - I can’t emphasize enough how good the remastered soundtrack is. When the Henri Mancini Peter Gunn guitar riff is coming at you as the boys go into the Plymouth Hotel by the overhead rail tracks or when the Blues Brothers theme plays as they wreck the shopping mall in their ‘cop car’ – it’s just brill – full of power and clarity.

EXTRAS:
The Extras for “The Blues Brothers” are the same as the Special Edition: “Stories Behind The Making Of The Blues Brothers” runs to a pleasing star-filled 55-minutes and is broken down into 14 parts. Second up is a 14-minute “Transposing The Music” featurette that has interviews with Howard Shore (who gave them the name) and keyboardist Paul Schaffer (now with The Jay Leno Show) - and finally a tribute to John Belushi called “Remembering John” that features his wife Judy and film-star brother James Belushi. It’s properly comprehensive stuff and none are padded out with excessive duplication.

THE FILM ITSELF:
I had to double take when I looked at the date on “The Blues Brothers” – 1980? Is it really thirty-two years ago – Jeez Louise! I remember seeing it at the cinema with my mates and being absolutely blown away – audacious, funny, hip, property destruction on an industrial scale, car chases to make your nose bleed, the cool black outfits and shades, the cartwheel flips, the running dance routine, Aykroyd and Belushi gelling so beautifully - and better than anything – the totally killer music that seemed to fill every scene with life and joy.

“The Blues Brothers” literally set off a global phenomenon – the resurgence of Blues and Soul - and is beloved for it to this day. And like “The Big Lebowski” or “Withnail And I” - you know you’re in the presence of a cult classic when dialogue-quotes from it pepper the net... Kathleen Freeman as the fearsome nun Sister Mary Stigmata nicknamed The Penguin - whacking the boys with a wooden ruler every time they curse “…You come back here with foul mouths and bad attitudes!”, the lady at the house when the boys enquire after former members of their band “Are you from the Police? No Mam…we’re musicians…” John Belushi in the high-class Chez Paul restaurant asking a snob customer to sell his wife and daughter to him for sex “How much for the little one? I want to buy your women!” When they get into the Bluesmobile (BDR 529) and have to head to Chicago with all manner of State Forces giving chase – “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ll got a full tank of gas, half a packet of cigarettes and we’re wearing sunglasses – hit it!” And of course - best of all - the quote that titles this review… and their mantra throughout the film for getting the band back together to pay off $5000 worth of debt and thereby save a Convent for Orphan Boys ”We’re on a mission from God…”

Written with aplomb and affection by DAN AYKROYD and Director JOHN LANDIS – and played out by Akyroyd and the greatly-missed-madcap JOHN BELUSHI (who had an incredible singing voice as the “King Bee” extra shows) scene after scene is filled with their love of the Blues in all its forms. The 78” of Louis Jordan’s “Let The Good Times Roll” in their tiny Plymouth Hotel room - the picture of Big Joe Turner on the wall – all great touches.  

You also forget about the incredible number of cameos – Frank Oz of The Muppets as the Parole Officer in Joliet Prison reading out the contents of Jake’s worldly possessions (“one unused prophylactic – one soiled…”), Carey Fisher of “Star Wars” fame with a rocket launcher intent on killing Jake for running out on her three years earlier, Twiggy as a Chic Lady, Pee Wee Herman’s Paul Reubens as a waiter in Mr. Fabulous’ restaurant, Henry Gibson from “Saturday Night Live” as a hysterically funny neo-Nazi (the American Socialist White People’s Party), Mr. T from the A-Team in the crowd and you even get Steven Spielberg as a clerk with a sandwich in his mouth in the Cook County Assessor’s Office at the end of the movie.

But the film belongs to the music and the superstars of that music – Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, James Brown, John Lee Hooker and Cab Calloway - many of who had their fading careers revived by the public’s rekindled love affair with Blues, R’n’B and Soul. There’s Cab Calloway as Curtis the Janitor in the convent counselling the Jake and Elwood on what to do next (“You get wise! You get to church!”), James Brown as the all-singing all-dancing revivalist preacher Reverend Cleophus (“Have you seen the light!”), Aretha Franklin as the mouthy owner of the ‘Soul Food Cafe’ in Chicago’s Maxwell Street (“There’s two honkies out there dressed like Hasidic diamond merchants!”), Ray Charles as the blind proprietor of a pawn shop who shoots two bullet holes in the wall as a street urchin tries to steal a guitar (‘breaks my heart to see those kids go bad”), John Lee Hooker singing “Boom Boom” and shouting “How! How!” in the street-market and then getting into a row about who wrote it. as if that isn't enouh - the backing band Murph and The Magic Tones turns out to be Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Willie Hall, Murphy Dunne and Tom Malone – the guts of Booker T and The MG’s who played on so many historical Stax cuts. There’s harmonica legends Walter “Shakey” Horton and Pinetop Perkins, guitarist Joe Walsh as a prisoner, soul legend Chaka Khan in the Choir, singer-songwriter Stephen Bishop as a chatty State Trooper…and on it goes.

In the end – a movie like “The Blues Brothers” defies description. But like a secondhand record shop that you stumble on – you’re so glad it’s there after all these years – still surviving – still bringing pleasure – still doing the business…

Gimmick packaging or not – dive in on this BLU RAY – (pun intended) you’ll be ‘soul’ glad you did.

BLU RAY Specifications:
VIDEO: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
AUDIO: English DTS 5.1
SUBTITLES: English SDH, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish

SPECIAL FEATURES:
1, Both Theatrical (186 minutes) and Extended (220 minutes) versions of the Film
2. Stories Behind The Making Of The Blues Brothers (14 parts, 55 minutes)
3. Transposing The Music (14 minutes)
4. Remembering John (9 minutes)


ADDITIONAL INFO - UNIVERSAL STUDIOS "100th Anniversary" Series - 

In April 2012 – the American movie giant Universal Studios celebrated a centenary of filmmaking – and since January 2012 have been re-releasing huge swaths of their back catalogue in the States in specialist “100th Anniversary” packaging. The American list is now pushing 60+ tittles and increasing all the time – most being 2-Disc sets containing a Blu Ray, DVD and means to download a Digital Copy. 13 of those releases have even been given full-on $300,000 restoration makeovers and put in beautifully presented limited edition ‘book packs’ – see my reviews for “To Kill A Mockingbird” (1961) and “All Quiet On The Western Front” (1930). But here in the UK (excepting some of those ‘book packs’) - the celebrations have been virtually non-existent. Until now…

Monday 23 April 2012 finally sees Universal Studios get in on the act and UK- release what they’re calling “Augmented Reality” Editions of some of their most popular titles. The 15 issued to date are:

BLU RAY and DVD
  1. Apollo 13
  2. Back To The Future
  3. The Blues Brothers
  4. The Bourne Ultimatum
  5. Despicable Me
  6. Gladiator
  7. Jurassic Park
  8. King Kong ()
  9. Mamma Mia! The Movie
  10. The Mummy
  11. Nanny McPhee
  12. Paul
  13. Shaun Of The Dead

DVD-only:
  1. The Birds (1963, Hitchcock)
  2. Dracula (1931, English Language Version)

[NOTE: disappointingly NEITHER of the above DVDs is the ‘restored’ version of the film despite being in 100th Anniversary packaging. The restored prints will appear in the US Blu Ray/DVD ‘book packs’ that are due later in the year. “Dracula” will also include the Spanish language version on that issue]

The American releases are:

BLU RAY:
Abbott and Costello – see “Buck Privates”
  1. All Quite On The Western Front. 14 Feb 2012. USA two-disc set with Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy. Digitally remastered and fully restored print of the 1930 Black & White masterpiece. Special 40-page book pack... (SEE REVIEW)
  2. American Graffiti. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set, Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  3. American Pie. 5 June 2012. Two-disc set Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  4. Apollo 13. 30 April 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  5. Babe. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  6. A Beautiful Mind. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  7. The Big Lebowski. 5 June 2012. Two-disc set Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  8. Billy Elliott. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  9. The Birds. Release date to be advised - restored and remastered and packaged as per "All Quiet On The Western Front"
  10. The Blues Brothers. 6 March 2012. USA two-disc set with Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  11. The Bourne Identity. 10 January 2012. Two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  12. The Bourne Supremacy. 10 January 2012. Two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  13. The Bourne Ultimatum. 10 January 2012. Two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  14. The Breakfast Club. 10 Jan 2012. USA two-disc set with Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  15. The Bride Of Frankenstein. To be advised... (For DVD version see “Classic Monster Spotlight Collection” 3DVD Box Set)
  16. Brokeback Mountain. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  17. (Abbott And Costello in) Buck Privates. 17 April 2012. USA two-disc set. 1941 movie digitally remastered and fully restored. Book pack.
Creature From The Black Lagoon (DVD-only at present – see “Classic Monster Spotlight Collection” 3DVD Box Set in the list that follows this)
  1. Casino. 5 June 2012. USA two-disc set with Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  2. The Deer Hunter. 6 March 2012. USA two-disc set with Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  3. Despicable Me. 6 March 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  4. Do The Right Thing. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD & Digital Copy.
  5. Dracula. 1931 Black & White. To be advised… (For DVD version see “Classic Monster Spotlight Collection” 3DVD Box Set)
  6. 8 Mile. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD & Digital.
  7. Erin Brockovich. 5 June 2012. Blu Ray, DVD & Digital Copy.
  8. E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial. To be advised...
  9. The Fast And The Furious. 5 June 2012. Two-disc set Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  10. Fast Times At Ridgemont High. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  11. Field Of Dreams. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  12. The 40-Year-Old Virgin. 10 January 2012. Two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  13. Frankenstein. To be advised... (For DVD version see “Classic Monster Spotlight Collection” 3DVD Box Set)
  14. Harvey. Release Date To be advised. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  15. Inglorious Basterds. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  16. Jaws. August 2012. 2-disc set – Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy. Card Wrap and Book pack… (two variants)
  17. King Kong (Peter Jackson version). To be advised. Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  18. Meet The Parents. 6 March 2012. Two-disc set - Blu Ray and DVD (No Digital Copy).
  19. Mamma Mia! The Movie. 10 January 2012. Two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  20. The Mummy. 5 June 2012. Two-disc set Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  21. National Lampoon’s Animal House. 5 June 2012. Two-disc set Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  22. The Nutty Professor. 6 March 2012. Two-disc set Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  23. Out Of Africa. 6 March 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy. Digitally remastered and fully restored. Book pack
  24. Parenthood. 6 March 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  25. Pillow Talk. 1 May 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy. Fully Restored and Digitally Remastered. Book pack.
  26. Ray. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  27. Schindler’s List. To be advised…
  28. Seabiscuit. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray & DVD (No Digital Copy).
  29. Sixteen Candles. 5 June 2012. USA two-disc set – Blu Ray, DVD & Digital Copy
  30. Smokey And The Bandit. 5 June 2012. Blu Ray, DVD & Digital Copy.
  31. Spartacus. 5 June 2012. Blu Ray, DVD & Digital Copy.
  32. The Sting. 5 June 2012. Blu Ray & DVD 2-disc set. Fully restored and Book Pack like “To Kill A Mockingbird”...
  33. To Kill A Mockingbird. 31 Jan 2012. Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy. Fully Restored and Digitally Remastered. See also UK release. (SEE REVIEW)
  34. United 93. 5 June 2012. Two-disc set Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy.
  35. Waterworld. 10 January 2012. USA two-disc set - Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy - Theatrical and Extended cut (40 more minutes). 

DVD:
  1. Action Adventure Spotlight Collection [The Bourne Identity, The Fast And The Furious, The Mummy]. 6 March 2012. 3DVD Box Set.
  2. American Graffiti. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  3. American Pie. 5 June 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  4. Apollo 13. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy
  5. A Beautiful Mind – Russell Crowe and Ed Harris. 6 March 2012. DVD.
  6. Best Picture Winners Spotlight Collection [Out Of Africa, A Beautiful Mind, All Quiet On The Western Front, Going My Way]. 6 March 2012. 4DVD Box Set.
  7. The Big Lebowski. 5 June 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  8. Billy Elliott – Jamie Bell. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  9. The Blues Brothers. 6 March 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  10. The Bourne Identity. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  11. The Bourne Supremacy. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  12. The Bourne Ultimatum. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  13. The Breakfast Club. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  14. Brokeback Mountain. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  15. Car Wash – Richard Prior. 6 March 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  16. Casino. 5 June 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  17. Charade. 6 March 2012. USA 2-disc set. 1963 movie
  18. Classic Monsters Spotlight Collection [Dracula, Frankenstein, The Bride Of Frankenstein and Creature From The Black Lagoon]. 6 March 2012. 4DVD Box Set. Note: The “Spanish Language” version of Dracula is also included on the “Dracula” DVD - effectively making this a 5-film box set although it doesn’t actually state it as such).
  19. Coal Miner’s Daughter. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  20. Comedy Greats Spotlight Collection [National Lampoon's Animal House, The Blues Brothers, The Jerk, Car Wash]. 6 March 2012. 4DVD Box Set.
  21. The Deer Hunter – Robert DeNiro. 6 March 2012. DVD.
  22. Despicable Me. 6 March 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  23. Destry Rides Again – James Stewart and Mischa Auer. 6 March 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  24. Do The Right Thing. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  25. Duck Soup. 6 March 2012. Marx Brothers. DVD & Digital copy.
  26. Earthquake. 1974 film with Charlton Heston. 5 June 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  27. The Egg And I. 6 March 2012 DVD. Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert 1947 film.
  28. 8 Mile. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  29. 80’s Comedies Spotlight Collection [The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Fast Times At Ridgemont High]. 6 March 2012. 3DVD Box Set.
  30. Fast Times At Ridgemont High – Sean Penn. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  31. The 40-Year Old Virgin. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  32. Frances The Talking Mule. 6 March 2012. DVD.
  33. Harvey. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  34. High Plains Drifter. 5 June 2012. DVD and Digital Copy. (See also Westerns Spotlight Box Set…)
  35. Hollywood Legends Spotlight Collection [Harvey, Spartacus, Touch Of Evil]. 6 March 2012. 3DVD Box Set.
  36. Inglorious Basterds. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  37. Imitation Of Life – Two Movie Special Edition. 10 January 2012. Features both the 1934 version with Claudette Colbert and the 1959 remake starring Lana Turner. 2DVD set and Digital Copy.
  38. Inspirational Favorites Spotlight Collection. [Apollo 13, Field Of Dreams, Seabiscuit]. 6 March 2012. 3DVD Box Set.
  39. The Jerk – Steve Martin. 6 March 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  40. Jesus Christ Superstar – Ted Neeley. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  41. King Kong (Peter Jackson version). 5 June 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  42. The Last Temptation Of Christ. 6 March 2012. DVD.
  43. Mamma Mia! The Movie. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  44. Meet The Parents. 6 March 2012. DVD.
  45. Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life. 6 March 2012. DVD & Digital Copy
  46. The Mummy. 5 June 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  47. Musicals Spotlight Collection [Mamma Mia! The Movie, Jesus Christ Superstar, Flower Drum Song]. 6 March 2012. 3DVD Box Set.
  48. My Man Godfrey. 6 March 2012 DVD. William Powell and Carole Lombard 1936 Black and White.
  49. National Lampoon’s Animal House. 5 June 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  50. The Nutty Professor – Eddie Murphy remake. 6 March 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  51. Parenthood – Steve Martin. 6 March 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  52. Ray – Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington. 10 January 2012. DVD and Digital Copy.
  53. Schindler's List. 10 January 2012. USA DVD and Digital Copy.
  54. Screen Couples Spotlight Collection [Charade, Double Indemnity, Pillow Talk, My Little Chicadee]. 4DVD Box Set.
  55. Seabiscuit – Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper. 10 January 2012. DVD.
  56. Sullivan's Travels – Joel McCrae. 6 March 2012. DVD.
  57. Three Smart Girls – Deanna Durbin. 6 March 2012. DVD
  58. Touch Of Evil – Orson Wells. 10 January 2012. DVD & Digital Copy
  59. Westerns Spotlight Collection [High Plains Drifter, Destry Rides Again, Winchester ‘73]. 6 March 2012. 3DVD Box Set.
  60. Winchester ’73. 5 June 2012. DVD and Digital Copy. (See also Westerns Spotlight Box Set…)


Thursday, 26 April 2012

“Soul Men/I Thank You…Plus” by SAM and DAVE. A Review Of Their 3rd and 4th LPs on Stax and Atlantic Records - Now Reissued By Edsel Of The UK On CD In 2012.



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:


                       http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00LQKMC6I


"…Good God Almighty!"

I’ve already reviewed the 1st disc reissued for Sam Moore and Dave Prater in this Edsel series - “Hold On, I’m Coming/Double Dynamite” - which covers their first and second albums on Stax in 1966 (and some singles around those releases). This 2nd reissue gives us their 3rd and 4th albums on Stax and Atlantic and is just as stunning in every way – sound, presentation and (despite it being a 2CD set) value-for-money price. Here are the finite details…

UK released 26 March 2012 (10 April 2012 USA) - Edsel EDSD 2131 breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (35:14 minutes): 
Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Soul Men" – released October 1967 in the USA on Stax Records ST-725 [Mono] and STS-725 [Stereo]. The STEREO mix is used.
Tracks 13 and 12 are “Soothe Me (Recorded Live In London, England)” and "I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down” – see Singles List below

Disc 2 (53:48 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album “I Thank You” – released November 1968 on Atlantic Records SD-8205 [Stereo]
Track 13 is “This Is Your World” – non-album - see Singles List below
Tracks 14 and 15 are “Can’t You Find Another Way (Of Doing It)” and “Still Is The Night” – non-album - see Singles List below
Tracks 16 and 17 are “Soul Sister, Brown Sugar” and “Come On In” – non-album - see Singles List below
Tracks 18 and 19 are “Born Again” and “Get It” – non-album - see Singles List below

This 22-track 2CD set will also allow fans to sequence the following US Stax and Atlantic 7” singles surrounding the two albums [13/1 = Track 13/Disc1 etc]:
1. Soothe Me (Recorded Live In London, England) [13/1] b/w I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down [12/1] – Stax 45-218 (June 1967) [see NOTE]
2. Soul Man [1/1] b/w May I Baby [2/1] – Stax 45-231 (September 1967)
3. I Thank You [1/2] b/w Wrap It Up [4/2] – Stax 45-242 (February 1968)
4. You Don’t Know What You Mean To Me [6/2] b/w This Is Your World [13/2] – Atlantic 45-2517 (May 1968)
5. Can’t You Find Another Way (Of Doing It) [14/2] b/w Still Is The Night [15/2] – Atlantic 45-2540 (August 1968)
6. Everybody Got To Believe In Somebody [2/2] b/w If I Didn’t Have A Girl Like You [5/2] – Atlantic45-2568 (October 1968)
7. Soul Sister, Brown Sugar [16/2] b/w Come On In [17/2] – Atlantic 45-2590 (December 1968)
8. Born Again [18/2] b/w Get It [19/2] – Atlantic 45-2608 (March 1969)
[Note: the ‘studio’ version of “Soothe Me” rather than the ‘live’ cut was used as a UK 7” single on Stax 601004 in March 1967 with “Sweet Pains” as its B-side – both tracks are on the “Double Dynamite” album – available on the 1st CD by Edsel mentioned above]

PHIL KINRADE at Alchemy Studios in London has done the mastering and it's a fantastic job – muscular and pounding out of your speakers like those old 45's used to do. Being 60's Soul and recorded with indecent haste in less than audiophile conditions - there's hiss on occasion and some muddiness to the bass every now and then – but mostly this remaster sounds 'so' clear to me – the brass, drum whacks and guitar - much better than the early Nineties Rhino discs I've had for years now. And as a sucker for those 45's and their double-shots of brilliance – I also love the fact that this release allows me to line up those songs for play – and in top sound quality too.

The 20-page full-colour booklet featuring a 4000-word essay by noted Soul expect and aficionado TONY ROUNCE is superlative. Rounce has had a long-time association with both Edsel and Ace Records of the UK and their Philadelphia and Chess CD reissues - and his work here is typically indepth, knowledgeable and enthusiastic in a way that only British Soul nuts can be. Pages 12 and 16 have gorgeous full colour plates of each album sleeve and the rest of the text is peppered with insert photos of the Florida (Sam) and Georgia (Dave) boys in various live shows. There's a track-by-track Discography at the rear and it even reproduces the original liner notes that graced the back of each American LP sleeve. Rounce’s liner notes also extend to their later years (aged 76, Sam Moore is still with us and singing). In other words Edsel could have taken the easy way out and put in foldout 3-page filler that would have sufficed – but they haven’t – and they're to be praised for this.

To the music – the album “Soul Men” is considered by most to be their best album and it’s easy to hear why. Fast or slow – the song quality is tops. Lesser-heard album tracks like ”Hold It Baby” and “I’m With You” are brilliant (lyrics above) – equal to any of the single releases. The torch ballads “May I Baby” and “I’ve Seen What Loneliness Can Do” are belters too. I have to say that I find the ‘live’ version of Sam Cooke’s “Soothe Me” ok – I much prefer the album cut on the “Double Dynamite” LP. But I can so see why Elvis Costello covered the superb non-album B-side “I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down” – another slowy with Soul power. The title track is of course their most famous song - it hit the number 1 spot in many countries around the world and was quite rightly inducted into the US ‘Grammy Hall Of Fame’ in 1999.  

“I Thank You” opens with the band sounding ‘so’ tight on the title track. But it’s the inexplicable non-charting of “Everybody Got To Believe In Somebody” that impresses even more. Penned by the inimitable duo of ISAAC HAYES and DAVID PORTER – it should have been a smash, but alas the 45 waned at the same time their career did. Other highlights include the piano/guitar ballad of “If I Didn’t Have A Girl Like You” and the building intensity of the holy-roller cover “That Lucky Old Sun” finishes the album is style. The singles are fab too – I especially like the quality B-sides “This Is Your World” and “Come On In”. Scottish Soul Rockers DEACON BLUE did a lively B-side cover of the superb “Born Again” on their “Real Gone Kid” CD single in 1988. Like I say – it’s an embarrassment of riches.   

To sum up - presented well, sounding spiffing and cheaper than a soiled paper napkin in Buckingham Palace – this is a huge amount of top Sixties Stax Soul for peanuts money.

So good – and thoroughly recommended.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

"Hold On, I’m Coming/Double Dynamite" by SAM and DAVE. A Review Of Their 1st and 2nd LPs on Stax Records - Now Reissued On CD By Edsel Of The UK In 2012.



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:


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"…I'm A Bad Go-Getter…And I Want You…"

Sam Moore and Dave Prater fans see the duo's rare 1st and 2nd LPs for the mighty Stax Records reissued again – and for those Superstars of 60t's Soul - it's been done in real style. Here are the finite details…

UK released 26 March 2012, Edsel EDSS 1035 breaks down as follows (73:33 minutes): Tracks 1 to 12 are the album "Hold On, I'm Coming" – released April 1966 in the USA on Stax Records ST-708 [Mono] and STS-708 [Stereo]. The STEREO mix is used except on “You Don’t Know Like I Know” which is the MONO single mix (Track 11).

Tracks 14 and 13 are "Goodnight Baby" and "A Place Nobody Can Find" – the A&B-side of a non-album US 45 on Stax S-168 – released March 1965

Track 15 is "Sweet Home" – the non-album 7" single B-side to "I Take What I Want" (Track 3) which was released in the USA on Stax S-175 in June 1965

Tracks 16 to 27 are the album "Double Dynamite" – released January 1967 in the USA on Stax ST-712 [Mono] and STS-712 [Stereo] – the STEREO mix is used.

This 27-track CD will also allow fans to sequence the following Stax 7” singles surrounding the two albums:
1. Goodnight Baby [14] b/w A Place Nobody Can Find [13] – Stax S-168 (March 1965)
2. I Take What I Want [2] b/w Sweet Home [15] – Stax S-175 (June 1965)
3. You Don’t Know Like I Know [11] b/w Blame Me (Don't Blame My Heart) [12] – Stax S-180 (November 1965)
4. Hold On: I'm A Comin' [1] b/w I Got Everything I Need [5] – Stax S-189 (March 1966)
5. Said I Wasn't Going To Tell [17] b/w If You Got The Lovin' (I Got The Time) [2] – Stax S-198 (September 1966)
6. You Got Me Hummin' [16] b/w Sleep Good Tonight [24] – Stax S-204 (November 1966)
7. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby [19] b/w Small Portion Of Your Love [see Note] – Stax S-210 (February 1967)
8. Soothe Me [see Note] b/w I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down [See Note] – Stax S-218 (June 1967)
[Note: the B-side to Stax S-210 is on the 2nd CD in this series "Soul Men + I Thank You" on Edsel EDSD 2131 – also issued 26 March 2012. The UK single for "Soothe Me" on Stax 601 004 used the album cut (Track 20) – but the US single on Stax S-218 used a live cut recorded in Paris – both it and its B-side are also on the 2nd CD mentioned above]

PHIL KINRADE at Alchemy Studios in London has done the mastering and it's a fantastic job – muscular and pounding out of your speakers like those old 45's used to do. Being 60's Soul and recorded with indecent haste in less than audiophile conditions - there's hiss on occasion and some muddiness to the bass every now and then – but mostly this remaster sounds 'so' clear to me – the brass, drum whacks and guitar - much better than the early Nineties Rhino discs I've had for years now. The decision by Edsel to leave out the weaker Stereo mix of "You Don’t Know What I Like" on the 1st LP and replace it with the extra overdubs and punchier MONO mix is a good one. As a sucker for those 45's and their double-shots of brilliance – I also love the fact that this release allows me to line up those songs for play – and in top sound quality too.

The 16-page full-colour booklet featuring a 4000-word essay by noted Soul expect and aficionado TONY ROUNCE is superlative. Rounce has had a long-time association with both Edsel and Ace Records of the UK and their Philadelphia and Chess CD reissues - and his work here is typically indepth, knowledgeable and enthusiastic in a way that only British Soul nuts can be. Pages 10 and 14 have gorgeous full colour plates of each album sleeve and the rest of the text is peppered with insert photos of those rare blue labels that Stax used in the UK. There's a track-by-track Discography at the rear and it even reproduces the original liner notes that graced the back of each American LP sleeve. Edsel could have taken the easy way out with this and put in foldout 3-page filler that would have sufficed – but they haven’t – and they’re to be praised for this.

To the music - both the 45 of "Hold On, I'm Coming" and the LP of the same name broke SAM and DAVE not just nationally – but globally. The 7" and LP reached the coveted Number 1 spot on the American R'n'B charts in June and August 1966 respectively – and made inroads all over the globe late into 1966. The follow-up album "Double Dynamite" (a nickname for the singers who hailed from Florida and Georgia) simply provided more of the same. In fact relistening to both albums – you’re reminded of how extraordinarily productive those halcyon years were – and a lot of it down to ISAAC HAYES and DAVID PORTER - Stax's brilliant inhouse songwriting team. Highlights include the wonderful mid-tempo "If You've Got The Loving (I've Got The Time)" with Steve Cropper putting in great guitar licks and feel - while I will always associate the belting "I Take What I Want" (lyrics above) with Rory Gallagher who did a blistering rock-funk version of it on his 1975 album "Against The Grain" (it was a stable at the famed "Grove" venue in Dublin throughout the Seventies). The anthemic "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" still has the power to move a body and soul alike - and is Southern Soul at its very best. Sam Cooke's "Soothe Me", the Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham classic "I'm Your Puppet" and the Hayes/Porter finisher "Use Me" – it's an embarrassment of riches.

To sum up - presented well, sounding spiffing and cheaper than a wet trout slapped across your kisser – this is a huge amount of top Sixties Stax Soul for peanuts money.

So, so good – and thoroughly recommended.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

"The Pearl Sessions" by JANIS JOPLIN (April 2012 2CD Sony/Legacy Reissue and Remaster) - 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:

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"…Your Love Brings Life To Me…"

Most Janis Joplin fans will already own the 2CD Legacy Edition of "Pearl" issued in June 2005 - so what's different on this new April 2012 double?

That 2005 Legacy 2CD Reissue had 8 previously unreleased recordings spread across its 29 tracks – three alternate takes from the album sessions on Disc 1 - "Move Over", "My Baby" and "Pearl" - with 5 new live tracks on Disc 2 recorded in Canada in July 1970 on the Festival Express Tour – "Summertime", "That's Rock'n'Roll", "Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)", "Piece Of My Heart" and "Cry Baby". I mention all of the above because although the three studio outakes reappear on Disc 2 of this new 2012 edition - none of the live stuff does – so you may not want to throw that 2005 2CD baby out of your bathwater just yet. Here are the finite details for the new issue…

Released 16 April 2012 in the UK (17 April in the USA) - "The Pearl Sessions" by JANIS JOPLIN on Sony/Columbia/Legacy 88697842242 (Barcode 886978422422) is a 2CD set and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (58:32 minutes):
1. Move Over [Janis Joplin song]
2. Cry Baby [Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Barns song - Garnet Mimms cover]
3. A Woman Left Lonely [Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham cover]
4. Half Moon [John and Joanna Hall cover]
5. Buried Alive In The Blues [Nick Gravenites song]
6. My Baby [Jerry Ragovoy and Mort Shuman song - Garnett Mimms cover] [Side 2]
7. Me And Bobby McGhee [Kris Kristofferson cover]
8. Mercedes Benz [Janis Joplin/Michael McClure song]
9. Trust Me [Bobby Womack cover]
10. Get It While You Can [Jerry Ragovoy and Mort Shuman song – Howard Tate cover]
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Pearl" – released January 1971 in the USA on Columbia PC 30322 and in the UK on CBS S 64188."Pearl" was the nickname given Janis by her backing group the FULT TILT BOOGIE BAND. Produced by PAUL A. ROTHCHILD (famous for his work with The Doors) - it was also her last studio album and released posthumously after her tragic death from a heroin overdose on 4 October 1970 aged only 27. The vast majority of the LP had been recorded (prior to her passing) throughout September 1970 with "Mercedes Benz" done on the 1st of October. It reached number 1 on the USA album charts and number 20 in the UK.

BONUS TRACKS:
Tracks 11 and 12 are "Me And Bobby McGee" and "Half Moon" the MONO SINGLE MASTERS – the A & B-side of Columbia 4-45314 released January 1971 in the USA (reached number 1) and on CBS S 7019 in the UK. The A-side is a Kris Kristofferson/Fred Foster song first covered by the country singer Roger Miller in 1969 on Smash Records
Track 13 is "Cry Baby" the MONO SINGLE MASTER – it was released as the A-side of Columbia 4-45379 in May 1971 in the USA ("Mercedes Benz" was the flip). It was also released in the UK on CBS S 7217  
Tracks 14 and 15 are "Get It While You Can" and "Move Over" the MONO SINGLE MASTERS – the A & B-side of Columbia 4-45433 released September 1971 in the USA (no UK version)
Track 16 is "A Woman Left Lonely" the MONO SINGLE MASTER – it was mixed into mono for single release, but withdrawn

Disc 2 – The Pearl Sessions & More… (75:17 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 18 consist of five "Overheard In The Studio" segments put between 13 album outakes (Tracks 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 10, 12, 14 and 16 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED)
Track 19 is a live cover version of the Etta James Chess Records classic "Tell Mama" – it was recorded 26 July 1970 in Toronto and first released on the "Farewell Song" compilation in 1982
Track 20 is a cover of the John and Johanna Hall song "Half Moon" – it was recorded live 3 August 1970 on US TV program "The Dick Cavett Show"

The 3-way foldout card sleeve looks nice 'until' you actually try to get either CD out of their respective flaps without ripping the cardboard on the way out or scuffing the discs putting them back in again. I'd suggest you proceed with care – or better still - keep them in a plastic CD envelope to avoid damaging either disc.

The 24-page booklet has liner notes by HOLLY GEORGE-WARREN that discuss the forming of her backing band FULL TILT and the myriad of great writers used for the songs on the album (of the ten tracks only "Move Over" and "Mercedes Benz" are her own compositions). The text is peppered with new photos of Janis and her band live on stage, a snap of her laughing with Kris Kristofferson, reproductions of trade adverts and master tape boxes - and a great outtake of the iconic front cover artwork where she's reclining on her favorite chez lounge. There's also a very affectionate and witty interview at the end (before the discography details) with the late Paul Rothchild. Conducted by Laura Joplin (her younger sister) it has Rothchild recalling the powerhouse presence of the woman and her in-the-flesh effect on a lethargic concert crowd (very funny, very Janis). It's all very nicely done and a properly great read too. 

Celebrated engineers and tape transfer experts BOB IRWIN and VIC ANESINI have done the production and mastering - and although the album is notoriously hissy in places – the sound here is the best I've ever heard it. The power on the Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham ballad "A Woman Left Alone" is incredible – really bringing to the fore Ken Pearson's Organ work complimenting her blistering vocals. The mono single mixes in particular are very clean too.

Album highlights for me include the John and Johanna Hall song "Half Moon" (lyrics above) where her band funks it out as she loses herself in the positivity of the words (John Hall later formed Orleans and had a Number 5 hit with "Still The One" in the summer of 1976). Another tune I love which now sounds fabulous is the Side 1 finisher "Buried Alive In The Blues". It was meant to have vocals laid down over the backing track - but of course it never happened because of her loss. Having said that - in a strange kind of way both the song and the album benefited from this unintentional instrumental because it funked things up considerably and highlighted the full power of her awesome backing band FULL TILT. Ken Pearson's Organ, John Tilt's Guitar and Richard Bell's Piano all shine so much on this belter. Then there's Bobby Womack playing acoustic guitar on his own "Trust Me" - a lovely piece on here (what a shame they didn't duet together). But the album belongs to her huge voice and loveable personality which is beautifully realised on the witty "Mercedes Benz" – an Acapella ditty "…of social and political import…" which brings a smile to my face even now - a full 40 years after the event…

But the big draw here for collectors will be Disc 2 - which features previously undocumented tapes found only recently which offer us fantastic alternate versions of album cuts like the Howard Tate cover "Get It While You Can" and Takes 6, 13 and 17 of her own "Move Over". There's an alternate version of "My Baby" where the band sounds just 'so' soulful – a song especially written for her by legendary songwriters Jerry Ragovoy and Mort Shuman. Better still is that five of these alternate gems are preceded by 'overheard in the studio' segments that include band and producer chatter, in-jokes and general goofing around in the studio as the tapes roll. Track 15 is probably the best of them - a false start for "Get It While You Can" is stopped because she deems the version too 'sleepy' and her voice too 'ragged' (it sounds magical to me). Later there’s even jokes – Janis' love interest in the 'nerd' President Nixon! It’s all so intimate and fans will love it.  

To sum up then – a blinding remaster of a great album – and a second CD to make fans weak at the knees. What a heartbreak that she isn’t around to enjoy it. In fact there's a photograph on Page 19 of the booklet that shows one of the WEHR equipment carrying cases where large words are stencilled on its side - JANIS JOPLIN – FRAGILE. It turned out to be sadly true.

Oft imitated but never bettered – Janis is sorely missed. Well at least this wonderful 2CD reissue does her and her band's legacy proud. Well done to all involved and recommended big time... 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

"Tattoo" by RORY GALLAGHER (January 2012 Sony/Capo/Legacy CD Reissue In Card Digipak - Andy Pearce and Matt Wortham Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...



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"...The Joint Is Jumping All Around Me…" 

Under the supervision of Donal Gallagher (his older brother and former tour manager) - Irish guitar hero RORY GALLAGHER had his LP back-catalogue first reissued onto CD between 1998 and 2000. Each of those RCA/Capo releases came in jewel cases and had previously unreleased bonus tracks. The campaign culminated with a tremendous outtakes compilation in 2003 called "Wheels Within Wheels".

This latest version of "Tattoo" (his 4th studio album for Polydor) is one of six 'new' remasters released to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of his Solo career (list below). So what's different? In a nutshell - cheaper price, upgraded packaging and 2011 mastering (and proper track placing too). Here are the finite details...

UK and Europe released 16 January 2012 in the UK (31 Jan 2012 in the USA) - "Tattoo" by RORY GALLAGHER on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917462 (Barcode 886919174624) comes in a card digipak rather than a jewel case.

1. Tattoo’d Lady
2. Cradle Rock
3. 20:20 Vision
4. They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore
6. Sleep On A Clothes-Line
7. Who’s That Coming [Side 2]
8. A Million Miles Away
9. Admit It
The original vinyl album was released November 1973 in the UK on Polydor Super 2383 230 and Polydor PD 5539 in the USA (it charted at number 32 in England and number 187 in the States).

BONUS TRACK ANOMOLIES:
The two bonus tracks that first appeared on the 2000 CD reissue ("Tucson, Arizona" and "Just A Little Bit") have been reduced to one for this 2012 version - "Tucson, Arizona". Just to be a bit more confusing - those two bonuses and a 'third' track on the 2000 edition of "Irish Tour" are all tied-in and need some explanation.

"Tucson, Arizona" is a genuine album-sessions outtake from the period so it warranted its placing on the original "Tattoo" CD - as it does here. "Just A Little Bit", however, was the last track on Side 4 of the original "Irish Tour '74" double album. Released in July 1974 the classic 2LP set consisted of 3 sides Live and two loose 'Studio Jams' on Side 4 - one of which was the near eight-minute "Just A Little Bit" - a blistering cover of a 1959 Roscoe Gordon R'n'B number on Vee Jay. It should of course have been on the last track on the "Irish Tour" CD - but on that 2000 reissue fans were baffled to see it replaced with a new thing called "Maritime". Big mistake. Named after a bar in Belfast that both Rory and Van Morrison played in - "Maritime" turned out to be a mere snippet - a useless 33-second instrumental that was gone as fast as it was forgettable. Why it was put on there is anyone's guess. For this series of reissues - Donal Gallagher has had the right songs put on the right issues and the correct artwork reinstated (for “Irish Tour ‘74”). If you actually want the "Maritime" outtake - you will need to keep your old 2000 issue of "Irish Tour".

So what of the bonus track we do have - misspelled on the 2000 CD artwork as "Tuscon..." instead of "Tucson..." - that rather obvious spelling error hasn't been corrected for the new issue (a little sloppy really). "Tucson, Arizona" is a Link Wray cover version that first appeared on Link's lesser-seen "Be What You Want To" album from July 1974 on Polydor. Gallagher's take is more like whimsical Ronnie Lane and Slim Chance circa 1974 - and is so un-Rory-like. But as a bonus it's an interesting addition and shows another side to his musical interests that he didn't often get the chance to express on his official releases. And as I say "Just A Little Bit" is now back where it belongs - as the last track on the "Irish Tour '74" CD (the 2012 issue that is).

The gatefold card sleeve repros the colour artwork of the original vinyl album (front and rear) while the booklet is again 8 pages and features the same Donal Gallagher liner notes that were on the 2000 issue. There's a collage of photos of Rory taken by MICHAEL PUTLAND and RICHARD UPPER - but little that is new. It has to be said the card digipak is nice to look at and retailing at less than six quid (and even less online) - it's a cheap way of acquiring the music - as opposed to a now rare original album.

The initial 2000 CD was 'remixed and remastered' by Tony Arnold at Courthouse Facilities in Dorset - these are 'untampered' versions remastered by ANDY PEARCE and MATT WORTHAM at Wired Masters in the UK in November 2011 (51:00 minutes total playing time). Andy and Matt have been involved in and received praise for remasters of Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Frankie Miller, Wishbone Ash and The Kinks (many of which I've reviewed). For these reissues the original 1/4 master tapes have been returned to - therefore giving the fans the album Rory himself would have approved rather than the slightly 'altered' preceding version. The new sound quality is superb - very clean and ballsy - and not as trebled up as the initial release.

"Tattoo" was also the 2nd album to feature the four-piece line-up that added Lou Martin's keyboards to Rory's overall sound. It was a big improvement over the slightly lacklustre "Blueprint" LP released earlier that same year - mostly because the songs were so much better - and in many cases - real growers. Among the 9 self-penned songs highlights included the rocking opener "Tattoo'd Lady", the acoustic strut of "20:20 Vision" and the much loved blues ambler "A Million Miles Away" (lyrics above) which is one of those rare outings that features him on Saxophone. I've also loved revisiting the boogie of "Sleep On A Clothes-Line" and "Admit It".

Like most Irishmen, I can't be rational about Rory Gallagher. I saw him and his band as a teenager live in Dublin in the early Seventies and the experience was mind-blowing. I then bought every album he ever put out after that and always looked forward to hearing where his flying fingers would take me next.

Rory was sadly lost to us in 1995 through liver failure - and it still hurts to think that this most unassuming and brilliant of guitar heroes is gone. "Tattoo" is a great way to remember him - and frankly the other 5 titles listed below are pretty much the same.

In 1975 he then signed to Chrysalis and released an absolute belter - "Against The Grain" - the first album in my opinion to unleash the awesome power he had on stage but in the studio. I'm hoping it's in the next vanguard of digipak CD reissues. And great googly moo - am I looking forward to that.

Rock on you beautiful axeman...

The Eleven Titles in the 2012 RORY GALLAGHER Remasters Series 
- CD Digipaks, Downloads and 'Music On Vinyl' LPs:

16 January 2012 CD DIGIPAK and DOWNLOAD:
1. "Rory Gallagher" (May 1971 debut) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917352 (Barcode 886919173529)
2. "Deuce" (November 1971 2nd studio LP) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917372 (Barcode 886919173727)
3. "Live! In Europe" (May 1972 1st Live LP) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917432 (Barcode 886919174328)
4. "Blueprint" (February 1973, 3rd studio album) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917452 (Barcode 886919174526)
5. "Tattoo" (November 1973, 4th studio album) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917462 (Barcode 886919174625)
6. "Irish Tour '74" (July 1974, 2nd Live Set, 2LPs onto 1CD) – released January 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88691917472 (Barcode 886919174724)

27 February 2012 VINYL:
1 to 6 above also released 27 February 2012 on Limited Edition 180-gram vinyl versions on the "Music On Vinyl" Label

24 September 2012 CD DIGIPAK and DOWNLOAD:
7. "Against The Grain" (October 1975, 5th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461492 (Barcode 887254614920)
8. "Calling Card" (August 1976, 6th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461472 (Barcode 887254614722)
9. "Photo-Finish" (October 1978, 7th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461462 (Barcode 887254614623)
10. "Top Priority" (September 1979, 8th studio album) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461452 (Barcode 88725461452)
11. "Jinx" (April 1982) – released September 2012 on Sony/Capo/Legacy 88725461432 (Barcode 887254614326)

22 October 2012 VINYL:
7 to 11 above also released 22 October 2012 on Limited Edition 180-gram vinyl versions on the "Music On Vinyl" Label

PPS: Most of the eleven above have been reissued since 2012 in standard jewel cases but have different catalogue numbers and barcodes. The jewel case version of "Deuce" for instance is Barcode 886919369625 and also has the restored artwork, picture CD and expanded booklet of the digipak 2012 issue. But if you want the 'digipak' repro artwork versions – be sure to use the Barcodes provided above when ordering... 

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