Welcome to Mark Barry's Review Blog - SOUNDS GOOD, LOOKS GOOD. It features in-depth reviews for Quality CD Reissues/Remasters - all with Discography Info (Amazon UK Top 10 Reviewer).
With over 1670 posts - genres covered include Rock, Pop, Soul, Funk, Jazz Fusion, Blues, Rhythm 'n' Blues, Doo Wop, Vocal Groups, 1960s and 1970s, Prog, Psych, Punk, New Wave, Reggae and more. I also extensively review Blu Rays issues for Modern and Classic Movies.
Rants, Raves and High Geekery.
Monday, 3 March 2014
"Peace At Last" by THE BLUE NILE - A Review Of The 2014 2CD “Deluxe Set” Remaster and Reissue.
Here is a link to the "Deluxe Edition" on Amazon UK (with the best price also):
First things first - the idea that The Blue Nile's 3rd album
"Peace At Last" 'needs' to be remastered was to me ridiculous. I
bought the original CD on Warner Brothers 9362-45848-2 in June 1996 - the day
it came out - and it was (and still is) a beautifully crafted and produced
album. So it was with a healthy amount of scepticism that I plopped Disc 1 into
my snazzy Marantz this afternoon...
Well take me sideways with a can-opener from Mars - but
they've only gone and done it again. Because like "A Walk Across The
Rooftops" and the sublime "Hats" that were both remastered in
2012 - this is truly gorgeous return to the original tapes. There's undeniable
sonic improvement on every track - especially in the background
instrumentation. Here are the poets and typewriters...
UK released Monday 3 March 2014 - "Peace At Last DELUXE
SET" is a 2CD reissue on Virgin/Linn/Universal LKHCDR 3 (Barcode
0602537618071). Disc 1 is 44:56 minutes (3 seconds longer than the original
issue) while Disc 2 offers up 6 New Outtakes (29:42 minutes). Original band
members ROBERT BELL and PAUL BUCHANAN in conjunction with their long-standing
Engineer CALM MALCOLM have remastered the lot.
The 16-page booklet housed within a foldout card digipak
retains none of the original artwork (excepting the cover) and there's nothing
on any of the inner flaps. It's massively disappointing and feels utterly
superfluous to requirements. There's a title page - one page of bare-knuckle
credits - followed by 15 pages of photos of the band sat in the studio or the
steps of some building somewhere - none of which advance your knowledge of the album
one jot. There's no liner notes - no personal explanations or insights - no
lyrics - it's rubbish frankly. The only explanation I can offer is that the
band is keeping with its previous minimalist approach to artwork. But I'd say -
I think the mystery is common knowledge now boys and we could have done better.
Back to the good news...
The opening track "Happiness" has a synth opening
with a count in - it's crystal clear - and the slight hiss that was on the
original hasn't been compressed or removed - just given more presence. But when
the choir of Eddie Tate and Friends kicks in - it sounds HUGE - just glorious.
"Tomorrow Morning" has always moved me to tears (lyrics above) - and
today it has done so again. The strum of the acoustic guitars and the delicate
piano - compliment Buchanan's aching vocal as the strings come pouring in
halfway through - a superbly handled transfer. The wallop out of
"Sentimental Man" is again to the fore - funky Rock at its best (I
remember gigs when this slayed them in the aisles - especially the guitar
solo). "Love Comes Down" sounds incredible and "Body And
Soul" is so sweetly emotive. The piano of "Family Life" seems
even more haunting - what a beautiful piece of songwriting - and the hurt in
the words is like an open wound that can't be cauterized. "War Is
Love" features that huge drum sound with a tight slap bass behind - it's
somehow more controlled - you hear the acoustics and gorgeous keyboard fills.
It ends on "God Bless You Kid" and "Soon" - both sounding
As to be expected the 6 new tracks that make up Disc 2 (3
versions and 3 new songs) are a mixed bag of the good and the dismissible. Both
"Soon" and "War Is Love" are 'Laurel Canyon Mix' versions
in which the synth fills and treatments clutter up the songs to a point where
they interfere with the lovely melodies ("War Is Love" is the better
of the two). We then get a pretty version of another album track "Holy
Love" in the guise of a 'Picture Mix' that ambles nicely but never really
Better is the first new song "Turn Yourself
Around" which sounds like an early run-through for "Love Comes
Down". Featuring those impassioned vocals that make Buchanan so special -
it could have been a sought-after B-side. The unreleased 'Demo' of "A
Certain Kind Of Angel" could easily have been a "Hats" outtake
with the same synth patterns and five-minute length. It's lovely. But best of
all is "There Was A Girl" - as pretty a song as Paul Buchanan has
ever written. At five and a half minutes - it's a beautiful melodic slowy that
will make fans swoon and notice the pimples on their arms. It ends a patchy
Disc 2 on a genuine and much-needed high.
So there you have it - a 10-star album in a 4-star
repackage. But man when I play that new remaster and those new songs - I'm gone
"Raise the children ...hold them to sky..." Paul
Buchanan sang on "Body And Soul". I did and I still do.
The Blue Nile people - God is jealous of them - and he's