Thursday, 24 April 2014

"Snakes And Ladders / Sleepwalking" by GERRY RAFFERTY – A Review Of His 1980 and 1982 United Artists and Liberty Albums - Now Reissued Onto 2CDs By EMI In 2012 as '2 Original Classic Albums'…

Here is a link to AMAZON UK to get this 2CD set at the best price:

"…Find A Way Home…" – Snakes And Ladders and Sleepwalking by GERRY RAFFERTY

Having bought and reviewed the 2CD reissue of Gerry Rafferty’s 1978 masterpiece "City To City" in 2011 – like most fans I’ve been patiently waiting for EMI to get to the rest of his catalogue. Well they sort of have – and this cheapo double CD reissue is one of the piddly results.

Released June 2012 – EMI 5099970475326 breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (48:48 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are his 3rd solo album "Snakes And Ladders" – released April 1980 on United Artists UAK 30296 in the UK and on United Artists LOO-1039 in the USA

Disc 2 (37:15 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 4th solo album "Sleepwalking" – released September 1982 on Liberty LBG 30352 in the UK and Liberty LT-51132 in the USA

The gatefold slip of paper that acts as an inlay pictures the front album artwork on the inner pages of each album – and that’s it. The inners sleeves that came with both UK LPs are AWOL - as is all the musician and recording info. No liner notes of any kind. In fact there isn’t even mention of mastering - and as far as I can tell – these are exactly the same as the Eighties CDs I’ve had for years. So the sound is very good – but a sympathetic Peter Mew remaster would have elevated these cool albums to sonic greatness.

But while the presentation may be bog standard – the music is a different matter. These are two great Gerry Rafferty albums (is there a bad one?) – with the second definitely having the edge on the first.

"Snakes And Ladders" opens proceedings with the Drum and Fife of “The Royal Mile” with that lovely melody of his. Ex Fleur Des Lys guitarist Bryn Haworth plays his distinctive slide guitar on the superb “I Was A Boy Scout”.  Orchestra Arranger Wil Malone and String Leader Gavin Wright add a huge amount to the melody of “Look At The Moon”. Pete Wingfield (ex Jellybread) adds his keys to the jaunty “Bring It All Home” which also features the “Baker Street” Saxophone of Raphael Ravenscroft. Side 2 opens with the wonderfully languid “The Garden Of England” and Rafferty returns to an old Stealers Wheel tune with “Johnny’s Song”. He then goes all country swing with “Didn’t I”. Both Pete Wingfield and Bryn Haworth guest on keys and guitar on the finisher “Don’t Close The Door” – an album highlight.

Although there are 12 tracks on “Snakes” – the 8 on “Sleepwalking” feel so much more mature and cohesive. I’d go as far as to say that “Sleepwalking” is a bona fide lost classic – a masterpiece of an album. “Good Intentions”, “On The Way” and “Sleepwalking” are all magnificent – 5 to 6 minute tracks allowed to breathe and linger. The funky and catchy “Cat And Mouse” should have been a single and is so Radio friendly with a its chugging guitar and matching vocal. “The Right Moment” is both sad and beautiful. But’s its “As Wise As A Serpent” that blows me away every time – a genius Rafferty tune – sly and slinky – it worms its way into your heart – making you want to replay - again and again (lyrics above).

For four quid these 2CDs are ludicrously good value for money – but let’s hope that one day soon - someone somewhere does his EMI/Liberty catalogue a Remaster and Anthology favour. Frankie Miller, Ian Hunter, Robin Trower, Ten Years After and so many others have all received that accolade.

Gerry Rafferty was lost to us in early 2011 – and it’s about time that his memory and especially his musical legacy be given the loving attention it’s always deserved…

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