Thursday, 15 May 2014

"Listen… / I’ll Keep You Satisfied /Little Children /Trains And Boats And Planes" by BILLY J. KRAMER and THE DAKOTAS – A Review Of The 2014 Edsel 2CD Set Reissuing And Remastering 4 Of Their Rare Sixties Albums…(With BEATLES Connections)

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

"…Dance With Me…" 
Listen… / I’ll Keep You Satisfied /Little Children / Trains And Boats And Planes 

This cool-looking British 2CD reissue has good and bad points that need explaining – so let’s get to the details right away. UK released 19 May 2014 – Beat Goes On BGOCD 1146 (Barcode 5017261211460) breaks down as follows…

Disc 1 (62:38 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 14 are their debut LP “Listen…” – released November 1963 in the UK on Parlophone PMC 1209 (Mono) and PCS 1209 (Stereo)
Tracks 15 to 26 are the US album version of it called “I’ll Keep You Satisfied/From A Window” – released early 1964 on Imperial LP-9273 (Mono) and LP-12273 (Stereo)

Disc 2 (58:30 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are the US album “Little Children” – released May 1964 on Imperial LP-9267 (Mono) and LP-12267 (Stereo)
Tracks 13 to 24 are the US album “Trains And Boats And Planes” – released early 1965 on Imperial LP-9291 (Mono) and LP-12291 (Stereo)

Fans will know that the 14-track debut album “Listen…” came out in both MONO and STEREO in the UK and was produced by the fifth Beatle George Martin. But of the '12' cuts on the American version (called “I’ll Keep You Satisfied/From A Window”) seven were duplicated - with the other five being new. Beat Goes On have therefore chosen to present the UK album in STEREO and the USA version in MONO to avoid needless duplication (they don’t try to hide this – its stated as such on the outer box and in the liner notes). Disappointingly though - five of the Mono studio tracks on albums 2, 3 and 4 are presented here by ‘live’ versions (presumably because the tapes for the studio versions are lost?) They are “Sugar Babe”, “Pride”, “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”, “Tennessee Waltz” and “Irresistible You”. Also on my copy of the CD - Track 5 on Disc 2 (a cover of The Platters “Twilight Time”) is in the wrong place. It should be lined up as track 16 – the 3rd song on the “Trains And Boats And Planes” album. That’s the bad news – let’s get to the good.

The generic card wraps that Beat Goes On uses now on their reissues are lovely – classy looking too. The 16-page booklet inside features liner notes by BOB SOLLY and pictures gorgeous EPs in colour on the last page with the original liner notes for the albums as well as a potted history of the British Invasion group. For Beatles fiends there’s some snaps of Billy with Brian Epstein and of course those exclusive Lennon/McCartney songs on the American debut. But the real shocker is the sound…

The Andrew Thompson remasters are amazing – full of power and clarity that leaps out of your speakers – especially the STEREO versions like the sappy ballad “The Twelfth Of Never” and Kramer’s Roy Orbison take on the Stephen Foster traditional “Beautiful Dreamer” where he gives his best Liverpool accent on the word ‘hair’ (becomes ‘her’).

Other goodies on the American Mono version of “I’ll Keep You Satisfied/From A Window” are three exclusive Lennon/McCartney compositions (a major coup at the time) – “I’ll Keep You Satisfied”, “I’ll Be On My Own” and “From A Window” - very cool indeed. This is 1963 and 1964 – and the entre world is enveloped in the musical atomic bomb of The Beatles. There’s a wonderful optimism in all of it – like the opener cover of The Drifters “Dance With Me” and the Fab Four feel to the lovely “I Know”. The Beatles covers continue with versions of “Do You Want To Know A Secret” and “Bad To Me”. There’s a great vibe to “Take Her Place” and “Sneaking Around” In fact the whole “Trains And Boats And Planes” album is a bit of an unsung Sixties hero – and the sound on tracks like “I Live To Love You” is fabulous.

Downsides – the five ‘live’ versions are poor substitutes for the studio tracks (docked a star for that) and will disappoint fans a great deal - and the misplacing of “Twilight Time” on Disc 2 is an easy mistake to make but a tad sloppy really. Having said that - overall the rest of it is really great stuff.

In 2014 Liverpool’s William Howard Ashton (Billy J Kramer) is largely forgotten – but on the evidence of this – our clean-cut hero and his boys in The Dakotas more than deserve your mop-top attention for another trip to those amazing times…

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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