Monday, 30 December 2013

"I Feel Like Dynamite: The Early Chimneyville Singles And More 1970-1974" by KING FLOYD (2013 Ace/Kent Soul CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Let's Get Down With The Groove…" 

Forever seen as a one-hit wonder ("Groove Me") - this typically superb Ace CD reissue will go a long way to changing minds on that count. It also offers fans of the mighty Atlantic label and its more obscure offshoots (like Chimneyville Records) a lot of good Seventies Soul to savour - most of it new to CD.

UK released September 2013 - "I Feel Like Dynamite: The Early Chimneyville Singles And More 1970-1974" by KING FLOYD on Ace/Kent Soul CDKEND 404 (Barcode 029667240420) is a 24-track CD compilation of Remasters and breaks down as follows (77:18 minutes):

1. What Our Love Needs
2. Groove Me (Tracks 1 & 2 are the A&B-sides of Chimneyville CH-435, September 1970)
3. Baby Let Me Kiss You
4. Please Don't Leave Me Lonely (Tracks 3 & 4 are the A&B-sides of CH-437, March 1971)
5. Got To Have Your Lovin'
6. Let Us Be (Tracks 5 & 6 are the A&B-sides of Chimneyville CH-439, July 1971)
7. Let Me See You Do That Thing
8. It's Wonderful (Tracks 7 & 8 are the A&B-sides of Chimneyville CH-442, November 1971)
9. Everybody Needs Somebody
10. Woman Don't Go Astray (Tracks 9 & 10 are the A&B-sides of Chimneyville CH-443, July 1972)
11. What Our Love Needs
12. Here It Is (Tracks 11 & 12 are the A&B-sides of Chimneyville CH-446, February 1973)
13. Messing Up My Mind
14. So Glad I Found You
15. A Day In The Life Of A Fool
16. My Girl
17. Do Your Feeling
18. It's Not What You Say
19. Thank You
20. Hard To Handle
21. You’ve Got Me (Tracks 13 to 21 inclusive are from 2 LPs - see list below)
22. So Much Confusion (Track 22 is the A-side of Chimneyville CH-1779, November 1973)
23. I Feel Like Dynamite
24. Handle With Care (Tracks 23 & 24 are the A&B-sides of Chimneyville CH-10202, July 1974)

You can also sequence two whole 70t’s albums from this CD compilation using the following track numbers [6 = track 6 etc]:
"King Floyd" - 1971 LP on Atco/Chimneyville SD 9047 (USA) and 2466014 (UK)
Side 1:
1. Groove Me [Track 2]
2. Let Us Be [6]
3. Woman Don’t Go Astray [10]
4. Baby Let Me Kiss You [3]
5. Messing Up My Mind [13]

Side 2:
1. It's Wonderful [8]
2. So Glad I Found You [14]
3. Don’t Leave Me Lonely [4]
4. Day In The Life Of A Fool [15]
5. What Our Love Needs [1]

"Think About It" - April 1973 LP on Atco/Chimneyville SD 7023 (USA) and Atlantic Records K 40490 (UK)
Side 1:
1. My Girl [16]
2. Here It Is [12]
3. Do Your Feeling [17]
4. It’’s Not What You Say [18]
5. Woman Don’t Go Astray [10]

Side 2:
1. Think About It [11]
2. Thank You [19]
3. Hard To Handle [21]
4. You’ve Got Me [20]
5. Everybody Needs Somebody [9]

The 12-page booklet features fantastically detailed liner notes by noted Soul expert TONY ROUNCE - every page picturing those elusive American Chimneyville labels (courtesy of Giles Petard). The excellent sounding remaster has been done by DUNCAN COWELL at Sound Mastering in London whose handled literally hundreds of this reissues.

Most people know King Floyd through "Groove Me" which was originally a B-side played at a party when the crowd went nuts (it charted as an A in October 1970 in the USA and rose into the Top 5 by year’s end) - and I’m afraid you could accuse too many tracks here of trying to emulate that hugely popular and successful groove. But I found on second listen that belters like "I Feel Like Dynamite" (lyrics above) where he does his best James Brown mid Seventies Funk impression - backed with the lovely "Handle With Care" - is a bit of wee gem frankly. It’s also cool to see so many of these rare single sides make their CD debut after nearly 4 decades in the wilderness. But although “You’ve Got Me” is a lovely ballad - his voice lets the side down a tad and I’m not so sure about his 6 and half minute Isaac Hayes style re-working of “My Girl”. Floyd’s cover of “Hard To Handle” (Otis Redding) is far better - cracking stuff - as is The Staple Singers funky feel to “Thank You”.

To sum up - another quality release from Ace and their Kent/Soul imprint - who remain heroes to all of us Soul reissue junkies. There’s a lot on here worth checking out...

Saturday, 28 December 2013

"Mannish Boy - The Stax, Volt & Truth Recordings 1969-74" by THE NEWCOMERS. A Review Of The 2013 Ace/Stax CD Remaster - A Limited Edition Of Only 1500 Copies.

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:


Hailing out of Memphis - I've had only three tracks by the Vocal Soul group The Newcomers to my name - all of which turned up on "The Complete Stax/Volt Singles Volume 2" 9CD Box Set in 1993 - over 20 years ago. So being a voracious Stax Records collector/fan  - this CD caught my eye - and I'm so glad I bought it.

Released 30 September 2013 as a limited edition of 1500 copies, Ace/Stax CDLUX 010 (Barcode 029667056120) runs to a generous 77:48 minutes and breaks down as follows:

Track 2 and 1 "Open Your Heart (Let Me In)" and "Girl, This Boy Loves You" make up the A&B sides of their debut 45 on Volt VOA-4022 (issued September 1969).

Tracks 3 and 4 "You Put The Sunshine In My Heart" and "Still A Boy In My Heart" make the A&B sides of their 2nd 45 on Volt VOA-4049 (issued October 1970).

Tracks 5 and 6 "Pin The Tail On The Donkey" and "Mannish Boy" are the A&B sides of their 3rd 45 on Stax STA-0099 (issued September 1971). It was also their first of only two 45s in the UK - it was issued on Stax 2025 063 in 1972.

Tracks 7 and 8 "The Martian Hop" and "Humpty Dumpty" are their 4th 45 on Stax STA-0186 (issued 1973). It was also issued as the second 45 in the UK on Stax STXS 2023 in 1975.

Track 9 is "Keep An Eye On Your Close Friends" - the A-side is their 5th 45 on Truth TRA-3204 (issued September 1974). The 'Instrumental' B-side is not included on here.

Tracks 10 and 11 "(Too Little In Common To Be Lovers) Too Much Going To Say Good-Bye" and "The Whole World;s A Picture Show" are their 6th single on Truth TRA-3213 (issued January 1975).

They had one other 45 on Mercury in 1978 which is not within the reaches of this CD. They never made an album.

Track 12 is "Betcha Can't Guess Who" which was unissued until the Ace/Kent Soul CD compilation "More Perfect Harmony - Sweet Soul Groups 1967-1975" (CDKEND 252) in 2005.

Track 13 is "See Saw Lovin'" which was unissued unto the Ace/Stax CD "5000 Volts Of Stax" (CDSXD 116) in 1998.

Tracks 14 to 24 are all previously unreleased (14, 15, and 21 are Mono, the rest Stereo)

The group were made up of several accomplished singers all of whom auditioned at Stax for their parts - Bertram Brown, Terry Bartlett, Homer Garis, Carl Lloyd and Randy Brown were the original line-up. William Sumlin, Terry Bartlett and Randy Brown made up the core of the new line-up. The song-writers included Allen Jones, Bobby Manuel, Marshall Jones, Melvin Davis, Homer Banks and many others.

This compilation feels like a tale of two cities - the singles and the unreleased stuff. I say this because Stax clearly thought of The Newcomers as their answer to Tamla's Jackson 5 and therefore pitched some terrible A-sides to that effect ("Put The Tail On The Donkey"). And their B-sides were so much better than the A - which is probably why the opener here is "Girl, This Boy Loves You" - a glorious slab of high-vocals Sweet Soul - the kind of tune Northern Soul fans would throttle a close relative for. But stuff like their awful reworking of The Ran-Dells 1963 novelty hit "The Martian Hop" backed by the sickly "Humpty Dumpty" fail terribly. But then just when you're getting worried - you get the fantastic "Mannish Boy" and the truly aching "(Too Little In Common To Be Lovers) Too Much Going On To Say Good-Bye" which is properly gorgeous Slow Soul.

But what's most shocking is the sheer quality of the unreleased stuff - mostly consisting of slower ballads. Tony Rounce's typically superb liner notes point out that the six-minute slow stew of "The Exit" is the toppermost - and he's right. In fact listening to these tracks feels like some long lost smoocher album that somehow slipped through the net. Many of the songs feature The Bar- Kays as the backing band too (their cover of Steve Mancha's "I Don't Want To Lose You" is a highlight). Another nugget is the vocal harmonies achieved by Stax stalwarts Bettye Crutcher and Marvell Thomas on "What A Girl I've Got (Lovin' Me)" - 'so' good. The demos are not fluffs either but fully recorded tracks - and even they sound great. In fact the audio quality is superb throughout (typically top transfer work done by NICK ROBBINS at Sound Mastering).

Ace Records of the UK is beloved among fans and collectors - and this kind of release is testament as to why. You couldn't imagine a major label giving a monkeys about this stuff - but Ace have made the effort and made it available to Soul lovers everywhere.

Fabulous stuff - and easily one of my Soul reissues of the year for 2013.

"Karla Bonoff / Restless Nights /Wild Heart Of The Young" by KARLA BONOFF (November 2013 Beat Goes On Reissue - 3LPs Remastered onto 2CDs) - A Review by Mark Barry...

This review and hundreds more like it can also be found in my 
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1960s and 1970s MUSIC Volume 2 
- Exceptional CD Remasters 
It contains over 210 in-depth reviews (a whopping 2400+ e-Pages) 
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--> "...Sings Me Sweet Things..."

Like most people I came to Karla Bonoff and her affecting songs via Linda Ronstadt. I'd loved both "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me" and "If He's Ever Near" - Bonoff originals issued as singles by Linda in the USA. This excellent 2CD set is a great place to look for more...

UK released November 2013 – "Karla Bonoff/Restless Nights/Wild Heart Of The Young" by KARLA BONOFF on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1126 (Barcode 5017261211262) features 3 albums Remastered onto 2CDs and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (74:20 minutes):
1. Someone To Lay Down Beside Me
2. I Can’t Hold On
3. Lose Again
4. Home
5. Faces In The Wind
6. Isn’t It Always Love [Side 2]
7. If He’s Ever Near
8. Flying High
9. Falling Star
10. Rose In The Garden
Tracks 1 to 10 are her debut solo LP "Karla Bonoff" released in September 1977 on Columbia PC 34672 in the USA and January 1978 in the UK on CBS S 82455.

11. Trouble Again
12. Restless Nights
13. The Letter
14. When You Walk In The Room
15. Only A Fool
16. Baby Don’t Go
17. Never Stop Her Heart
18. Loving You
19. The Water Is Wide
Tracks 11 to 19 are her 2nd album "Restless Nights" released in September 1979 on Columbia JC 35799 in the USA and January 1980 on CBS S 83587 in the UK

Disc 2 (37:56 minutes):
1. Personally
2. Please Be The One
3. I Don’t Want To Miss You
4. Even If
5. Just Walk Away
6. Gonna Be Mine
7. Wild Heart Of The Young
8. It Just Takes One
9. Dream
Tracks 1 to 9 are her 3rd album "Wild Heart Of The Young" released in April 1982 on Columbia FC 37444

The card wrap pictures all 3 albums and the detailed 16-page booklet outlines session details and a history of her career and associations (John Tobler liner notes). Quite apart from Ronstadt, the albums are littered with the West Coast session mafia - Russ Kunkle, Waddy Watchel, the Eagles, Andrew Gold, Steve Forman, Leland Sklar, Joe Walsh, and long-time producer and friend Kenny Edwards. ANDREW THOMPSON at Sound Performances in London did the remastering and they're beautifully clear and full of presence - reflecting the superb original production values.

The debut album is probably the best with gems like "Home" (lyrics above), "Faces In The Wind" and "Falling Star" as well as the fabulous "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me". In fact as the tunes and ace musicianship go softly by - you're hit over and over by her affecting song writing - rather like a female Jackson Browne on a good day. You could just imagine the Eagles recording an entire album of her songs and making them sound like their own compositions. Bonnie Raitt covered "Home" on her April 1977 LP "Sweet Forgiveness" and Warners even released it as a UK 7" single on K 16953 in May 1977 to promote the album. In the meantime Linda Ronstadt arguably took "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me" to even greater heights. She featured it on her April 1976 album "Hasten Down The Wind" (a top 3 record in the USA) and the song turned up as a US and UK 45 in late 1976 and early 1977 (it was also featured on her May 1980 "Greatest Hits Vol.2"). Bonoff is like this – a songsmith – picked up on by others who know a winning melody when they hear one. Her self-titled debut rose to No. 52 on the US Pop LP charts and had a 40-week run – but it's unfairly forgotten now and shouldn't be.

The second and third albums saw the tunes drop too many times into terrible late-Seventies Neil Diamond schlock territory. Jackie De Shannon provides backing vocals on her own song "When He Walked Into The Room" and another winner is her beautiful cover of the Traditional "The Water Is Wide" (James Taylor does a gorgeous version of it on his "New Moon Shine" album from 1991). The polished "Wild Heart..." from 1982 is unfortunately all production and too few actual tunes ("Just Takes One" is a lovely exception with nice slide guitar from Joe Walsh). And Kenny Edwards and Andrew Gold (long-time collaborators with Bonoff) have their talent and presence on almost every track (both are now sadly passed on).

It might not be everyone's idea of heaven - but those languid melodies I've mentioned will affect you. If you're a Karla Bonoff fan - this superlative sounding and well-presented reissue is a must own...especially for that lovely debut...

Thursday, 26 December 2013

"Here Come The Nice" by SMALL FACES - (2014 Charly/Immediate 4CD Box Set with Memorabilia) - A Review by Mark Barry...

***** (5 Stars)

This Review Along With 300+ Others Is Available In My
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"…Close My Eyes And Drift Away…"

First things first - anyone expecting this box set to give them straightforward reissues of the four Small Faces albums covering the 'Immediate' label period should look elsewhere (for details on those see the PS below). What we have here is an entirely different beast...

January 2014's "Here Come The Nice" by SMALL FACES is a full-on vaults trawl - a 4CD Deluxe Presentation Box Set comprising of 41 Previously Unreleased tracks. In fact the full 75-song compliment has been newly remastered from the original studio multitrack session tapes for this release. The entire project was overseen by surviving band members IAN McLAGAN and KENNEY JONES - helped by project manager JEAN-LUC YOUNG. A team of three - NICK ROBBINS, ROB KEYLOCH and ROB CAIGER  - have handled the remastering with scrupulous tape sourcing promised by this team of revered Audio engineers who also did all four of the much-praised 2012 Universal/Sanctuary 'Deluxe Editions' reissues.

"Here Come The Nice" by SMALL FACES is on Charly/Immediate CHARLY 170 BX (Barcode 803415181032) and although initially rumoured on the Net to be a US-only release due to licensing issues - it is now a 28 January 2014 Worldwide release. Housed in a 10" x 10" hard card box - it's a limited edition of 3000 with the certificate inside signed by Kenny Jones and Ian McLagan. Here's a (very) detailed breakdown of the contents:

Disc 1: "Small Faces Singles - Worldwide As Bs & EPs", 20 Tracks, 54:16 minutes:
1. Here Come The Nice
2. Talk To You
3. (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me
4. Something I Want To Tell You
5. Get Yourself Together
6. Become Like You
7. Green Circles
8. Eddie's Dreaming
9. Itchycoo Park
10. I'm Only Dreaming
11. Tin Soldier
12. I Feel Much Better
13. Lazy Sunday
14. Rollin' Over (Part II of Happiness Stan)
15. Mad John (7" single version)
16. The Journey (7" single version)
17. The Universal
18. Donkey Rides, A Penny A Glass (7" single version)
19. Afterglow of Your Love (7" single version)
20. Wham Bam Thank You Mam
All were issued as 7" single versions/edits around the world and are in MONO. The liner notes also advise which were used on the Mono variants of the albums. None are unreleased but timing errors on old CD reissues have been corrected.

Disc 2: "Small Faces In The Studio - Olympic, BBC & Trident Sessions - Part 1"
18 Tracks - 52:17 minutes. 1. Shades of Green (Take 4 Instrumental)
2. Green Circles (Take 1)
3. Green Circles (Take 1 - Alternate Mix 1)
4. Anything (Tracking Session)
5. Anything (Backing Track)
6. Show Me The Way (Stripped Down Mix)
7. Wit Art Yer (Tracking Session)
8. Wit Art Yer (Backing Track)
9. I Can't Make It (Alternative Mix)
10. Doolally (Tracking Session)
11. What's It Called? (Overdub Session)
12. Call It Something Nice (Take 9)
13. Wide Eyed Girl (Take 2)
14. Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall (Alternate Mix)
15. Donkey Rides, A Penny A Glass (Stripped Down Mix)
16. Red Balloon With a Blue Surprise (Take 5)
17. Red Balloon (Alternate Mix)
18. Saieide Mamoon (Tracking Session)
All tracks are previously unreleased versions - 1 to 3 and 10 to 12 are MONO - all others are STEREO.

Disc 3: "Small Faces In The Studio – Olympic, IBC & Trident Sessions – Part 2":
16 Tracks – 49:47 minutes:
1. Wham Bam Thank You Mam (Alternate Mix)
2. I Can't Make It (Stripped Down Mix)
3. This Feeling Of Spring (Take 1)
4. All Our Yesterdays (Backing Track)
5. Talk To You (Alternate Mix)
6. Mind the Doors Please (Instrumental)
7. Things Are Going To Get Better (Stripped Down Mix)
8. Mad John (Tracking Session)
9. A Collibosher (Take 4)
10. Lazy Sunday Afternoon (Early Mix)
11. Jack (Backing Track)
12. Fred (Backing Track)
13. Red Balloon (Stripped Down Mix)
14. Kolomodelomo (Take 1)
15. Donkey Rides, A Penny A Glass (Alternate Mix)
16. Jenny's Song (Take 2)
All tracks are previously unreleased versions - 4 to 10 are MONO - all others are STEREO.

Disc 4: "Alternate Small Faces Outtakes & In Concert", 21 Tracks, 63:31 minutes:
1. Itchycoo Park (Take 1, Stereo Mix)
2. Here Come The Nice (Take 1, Stereo Mix)
3. I'm Only Dreaming (Take 1, Stereo mix)
4. Don't Burst My Bubble
5. I Feel Much Better
6. Green Circles (Take 1 – Italian Version)
7. Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow (Alternate Mix)
8. Piccanniny (Alternate Mix)
9. Get Yourself Together (Alternate Mix)
10. Eddie's Dreaming (Take 2 – Alternate Mix)
11. (Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me (Take 2 – Alternate Mix)
12. Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire (US Alternate Mix)
13. Afterglow Of Your Love (Alternate Single version)*
14. (If You Think You're) Groovy – THE LOT (featuring PP Arnold & Small Faces)
15. Me You & Us Too
16. The Universal (Take 1, Stereo Mix)
17. Rollin' Over (Live)
18. If I Were A Carpenter (Live)
19. Every Little Bit Hurts (Live)
20. All Or Nothing (Live)
21. Tin Soldier (Live)
Tracks 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 are Previously Unreleased. Tracks 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21 are Live from the Newcastle City Hall on 18 November 1968 and are from the Pye Studio master tapes with pitch and speed corrected. Tracks 4, 6 and 12 to 15 are MONO - all others are STEREO.

The 75-page colour hardback book has a Foreword by Pete Townshend of The Who and liner notes by noted writer Mark Paytress with contributions from Kenney Jones, Ian McLagan, Rob Caigar, Tosh Flood, Barry Green, Gered Mankowitz, Ken Sharp and Jeff Slate. There are many other Rock celebrity names with quotes as well. As a coffee-table book it’s properly gorgeous and the last set of pages in particular (51 through to 69) are beautifully done - featuring song-by-song annotation of the highest quality with new info and great colour photographs.

Speaking of photography - I have to admit to massive disappointment at the rather dull-looking 'Lyrics' book. Apart from some full-page Repros of rare single and album artwork - the rest of it is all sepia-tinted black and white photos with not a jot of that great Sixties colour in evidence anywhere (rather like the terrible booklet in The Rolling Stones “London Years” box set). I suspected licensing costs at first (too cost prohibitive) - but its worse. According to Gered Mankowitz (who photographs are long since associated with the band) - Immediate got loads of full colour negatives but Gered never got them back. He was left with only a handful of colour negs literally and boxes of black and white. Hence all that beautiful colour artwork, all that great Sixties look, all that cool promo stuff appears to have been lost or chucked. I say this because after the beautiful colour images in the hardback - the dark pages of 'Lyrics' with all the images faded into the back of the text (making some of it almost unreadable) comes as a real visual let down. But - and I should stress this - they've done a classy job with what they've had to work with.   

There’s also a paper repro of the "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" Press Kit - a three-way fold-out 1967 rarity which pictures the album, the band and lists their personal details as well as some witty Immediate blurb and words.

There are 2 facsimile foldout posters in colour - a Live Gig Poster for Newcastle City Hall, June 8th with Gary Walker & The Rain, P.P. Arnold, The Nice & The Sect with John Peel as compere and a foldout advert poster for "Tin Soldier" single on Immediate IM062 (essentially the Picture Sleeve of the British issue). 

There's Two Gered Mankowitz Fine Art Prints - the boys holding the Itchycoo Park sign (in colour) and four children holding the same sign upside down (in black and white)

There are 5 x Immediate Postcards - photos on front and adverts for singles and albums on the other side

The signed certificate is presented on a repro of A Tape Box

The 4 x 7" singles are:
1. "Mystery" - Repro of a 1-Sided Emidisc Acetate (on Black Vinyl) delivered to Andrew Loog Oldham in 1967. It was intended to be a single but withdrawn. A handful of the acetates were made.
2. "Album Sampler" - Repro of the rare UK promo 'Immediate AS 1' album-sampler for the "Small Faces" LP in a Immediate Label Bag on Red Vinyl (this was not on the DELUXE EDITION of "Small Faces"). It has excerpts from 5 tracks with British DJ Tommy Valance introducing in between tracks. The original is very rare.
3. Itchycoo Park EP - repro of a rare 1967 French 4-track Immediate Records Extended Play 45 on Blue Vinyl - tracks are Itchycoo Park/I'm Only Dreaming/Green Circles/Eddie's Dreaming
4. Here Comes The Nice EP - repro of a rare 1967 French EP on Immediate Records Extended Play 45 on White Vinyl. Tracks are Here Come The Nice/Became Like You/Talk To You/Get Yourself Together

Finally there's a full-sized INFO PAGE on the rear of the box but of course like so many of these US issues it falls off the moment you remove the shrink-wrap which is a pain.

CD 1 is all MONO and features UK and worldwide single releases - and right from the "Here Come The Nice" opener - you can hear the quality - very clean and full of presence. "Talk To You" is just stunning as are the rarely heard single edits of "Mad John" and "The Journey" (coupled as a single in Australia). The sheer mono whack of "Rollin' Over" still sends chills up my spine ("where at man!" indeed!).

CD 2, 3 and 4 is where the fun begins. Most tracks on CD2 are stop-start studio run-throughs with cool Londoner wide-boy dialogue in between takes - "...I've broken a string man!", "...This will be Take 24...", "...Go up an octave Ronnie...", "...bit faster Ken..." or "...we can do better than that!" - and so on. "Wit Art Yer" turns out to be Take 1 of "I Can't Make It" (full of rocking effects guitar and swirling keyboards) which in turn leads into a superb Alternate Stereo take of the song proper. The slang-named "Doolally" has Marriott shouting "Hey!" throughout its multiple stops and starts and there's some amazing heavy lead guitar on Take 9 of "Call It Something Nice".

A string of great alternates open Disc 3 while Take 1 of "That Feeling Of Spring" mainlines you right back to the Summer of 1967 with all its echo and giggling. The brass instrumental "All Our Yesterdays" sounds like a Magical Mystery Tour outtake while the Alternate of "Talk To You" in rocking Stereo is so Sixties I can smell the Joss sticks. "Mind The Doors Please" is essentially a 5-minutes drum solo superfluous to anyone's requirements - but far better is a trio of tracks that feel like you're eavesdropping on an acoustic unplugged Small Faces session - "Things Are Going To Get Better", "Mad John" and "Fred". I liked these a lot - intimate and stripped down.

Another belter and compilation fave of mine is the rocking instrumental "Collibosher" - which was on both the "Autumn Stone" double album and opened Side 2 of the "In Memoriam" LP. Here we get Take 4 and fabarooney it is too. Another shocker is the genuine tenderness in Take 2 of "Jenny's Song" where Marriott sounds like he's Terry Reid doing the gorgeous "May Fly" ballad from 1969. Disc 4 opens with a trio of complete initial stereo takes which are only slightly different brill nonetheless and even more impressive is the rarely heard Mono Northern Soul smack of "(If You Think You're) Groovy" track by The Lot which is P.P. Arnold with The Small Faces. But for me the highlight of the entire set is proper remaster quality given to "Me You And Us Too" which is "Wham Bam Thank You Mam" under another name and with different lyrics. It absolutely rocks and encapsulates what I loved about the band's sound at that time (I think it's been on previous CD reissues of dubious origins but never sounding this good). The live stuff is drenched in panting screaming girls and raucous to say the least - but more than anything you get the sheer sonic assault of the band and what a ludicrously exciting live act they were. Impressive trouser snakes boys...

Following on from the opening paragraph - it has to be said out loud that this is 'fan stuff' - the casual listener will find it all a bit wearing. I thought CD2 was the weakest of the unreleased stuff (bit cheeky called a 36-second segment a track) but CD3 and 4 more than make up for it. Overall - these are minor complaints and the box has been worth the wait.

For a band so notoriously mishandled down through the decades - there’s a real sense of people making sure this reissue comes up to muster. And as I drool over the hardback book and listen to that cool Take 1 of "Itchycoo Park" in Stereo once more - I wonder will we ever see their like again. At least this box set remembers them with style and class.

It really was all too beautiful folks...

The four albums from the period are available as follows - "Small Faces" (Immediate Label) and "Ogden's Nut Gone Flake" are already issued as 'Deluxe Editions' (see my 2012 reviews for those 3CD and 2CD sets) and there is very little duplication with the content of this box. Third is the American LP "There Are But Four Small Faces" which can be sequenced from the 2 DELUXE EDITIONS and the 4th is the sought-after double album "Autumn Stone" which is rumoured to be a DE in 2014 in its own right (we'll believe that when when we see it).

PPS: There is also a very tasty VINYL EDITION of the the whole Box Set also as a LIMITED EDITION




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INDEX - Entries and Artist Posts in Alphabetical Order