Sunday, 1 April 2012

"I'm A Writer, Not A Fighter" by GILBERT O'SULLIVAN. A Review Of His 3rd Album From 1973 Now Expanded And Remastered Onto CD By Salvo (UK) In 2012.

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"...Like An Old Friend..."

"I'm A Writer, Not A Fighter" is the 3rd release in a full-on reissue campaign by Salvo Records of the UK for Irish singer-songwriter Raymond Gilbert O'Sullivan. His UK debut album "Himself" from 1971 was relaunched in November 2011 and his second LP "Back To Front" from 1972 in February 2012 (both are reviewed separately). With fantastic new sound, four bonus tracks, quality packaging and a none-too steep price - legions of his fans worldwide will be thrilled to see that his MAM Records catalogue is finally receiving a thorough going-over (and like the others - this release is artist-approved too). Here are the scrapping details...

UK released Monday 2 April 2012 (10 April 2012 in the USA) - "I'm A Writer, Not A Fighter" by GILBERT O'SULLIVAN on Salvo SALVOXCD003 (Barcode 698458050328) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster and plays out as follows (44:34 minutes):

1. I'm A Writer, Not A Fighter
2. A Friend Of Mine
3. They've Only Themselves To Blame 
4. Who Knows, Perhaps Maybe 
5. Where Peaceful Waters Flow
6. Ooh Baby [Side 2]
7. I Have Never Loved You As Much As I Love You Today 
8. Not In A Million Years 
9. If You Love Me Like You Love Me
10. Get Down 
Tracks 1 to 10 are his third studio album "I'm A Writer, Not A Fighter" - released September 1973 in the UK on Mam Records MAM-SS 505 and October 1973 on Mam Records MAM 7 in the USA. It peaked at 101 on the album charts in America - but reached Number 2 in England.

Track 11 is "A Very Extraordinary Sort Of Girl" - the non-album B-side of "Get Down" - a 7" single released March 1973 in the UK on Mam Records MAM 96 (it reached Number 1 on the UK singles chart and Number 7 in the USA). .

Track 12 is "Good Company" - the non-album B-side of "Ooh Baby" - the second single lifted off the album. "Ooh Baby" was issued September 1973 in the UK on Mam Records MAM 107 and charted at Number 18. "Good Company" is considered by fans to be one of Gilbert's best B-sides - and like Track 11 it's the first time this rare song has been made available for all markets since a rare Japanese CD compilation in 2004. It also features an electric guitar solo by BIG JIM SULLIVAN who played the beautiful acoustic guitar work on "Alone Again (Naturally)".

Tracks 13 and 14 are "Why, Oh Why, Oh Why" and "You Don't Have To Tell Me" - the A & B-sides of a non-album 7" single released November 1973 in the UK on Mam Records MAM 111 (it peaked at Number 6).

The original UK LP had a matt single sleeve with a lyric insert and a 6" inch black and white 'transfer' of the photo on the front cover (damp cloth and hot iron ahoy!). The transfer image has been reproduced for the CD label and there's a 'Gilbert O'Sullivan - A Singer And His Songs' logo sticker on the front of the card digipak which accompanies all of these expanded reissues. Like the other two releases in this series - the 20-page booklet is gorgeous. There's tastefully laid out lyrics to all the songs (including the bonuses), photos from his own archives, trade adverts, magazine covers, 7" picture sleeves from around the world and a detailed paragraph on each song with reminiscences from Gilbert on the album's creation. There's even a centre-spread photo of him sparring with no less than Mohammed Ali - both in boxer shorts! But the really big news for fans is the SOUND...

Remastered from original master tapes - the sound quality is a vast improvement on what went before (compilations and expensive Japanese imports). While "Himself" from 1971 is a little hissy in places - both "Back To Front" and this are incredibly clean with superlative clarity on all the instruments. You can now hear Laurie Holloway's piano thumping on "Get Down" rocking away like a goodun - while the bass and drums on the anthem-like "Where Peaceful Waters Flow" are incredibly clear (lyrics above). The funky keys starting "I'm A Writer, Not A Fighter" are followed by the almost Phil Spector beginning of "A Friend Of Mine" - both suddenly sounding huge. The pretty "They've Only Themselves To Blame" has both strings and brass - and the keyboards on "Ooh Baby" - again both just leaping out of the speakers.

The extras are excellent as well and will finally allow fans to sequence single releases on CD for the first time.

He followed "I'm A Writer..." with "A Stranger In My Own Back Yard" in 1974 and the equally forgotten "Southpaw" in 1977 - but it seemed that even with "Writer's" success as an LP and a number 1 single in the UK - the writing was already on the wall for Gilbert by the end of 1973.

Still - I've thoroughly enjoyed re-hearing this album even if some of the lyrics and sentiments are considered soppy by today's standards. It's not all genius of course, but this is a lovely reissue - and Salvo is to be praised for handling it so well. Recommended...

PS: Salvo of the UK have also done his 1971 debut LP "Himself", his 2nd LP "Back To Front" from 1972, his 4th album "A Stranger In My Own Back Yard" from 1974, “Southpaw" from 1977 (his last LP on Mam Records) and beyond into the CBS years of the 80ts. All are 'Expanded' Edition CD Remasters with Bonus Tracks and Quality Repro Packaging (see detailed reviews for "Himself", "Back To Front" and “A Stranger In My Own Back Yard").

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