Wednesday, 17 September 2014

"River" by TERRY REID - A Review Of His 3rd Album From 1973 on Atlantic Records - Now Reissued & Remastered Onto CD In 2014 By Beat Goes On of the UK...

“…I’ve Had A Thousand Dreams About You…”

Joe Walsh’s “Barnstorm”, Roy Harper’s “Stormcock”, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, Stephen Stills’ “Manassas”, Donny Hathaway’s “Extension Of A Man”, Joni Mitchell’s “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness On The Edge Of Town”, Tom Waits’ “Blue Valentine”…

There are some records you simply can’t be rational about. You love them to distraction – year after year - decade after decade. In fact your affection for them only grows with their passing seasons and your receding hairline. Terry Reid’s wonderfully ethereal “River” (from 1973) is one of those albums. Any excuse to buy it again is fine by me. Well BGO of the UK have made that smart move and reissued it in 2014 – and this time with real style…

UK released September 2014 – Beat Goes On BGOCD 1165 (Barcode 5017261211651) is a straightforward transfer of his 3rd vinyl LP “River” originally released March 1973 in the USA on Atlantic SD-7259 and April 1973 on Atlantic Records K 40340 in the UK. The last CD incarnation I had of this was the excellent ‘Water’ label issue from America released 2002 that had a chunky booklet and a good remaster. But I’d have to say that this is even better – especially sonically.

ANDREW THOMPSON has been carried out the remaster with tapes licensed from WEA – and it’s gorgeous. The seven tracks (36:35 minutes) are soft, almost acoustic vocal rambles in places and need a deftness of touch in the transfer. Others are funky even soulful Rock and need a bit of muscle – he’s achieved both. I love the way this CD remaster sounds.  The outer card wrap slipcase gives the release a feeling of class and event and the 12-page booklet features liner notes from noted writer JOHN O’REGAN (could have done with more photos though). 

Reid famously turned down the Led Zeppelin gig – suggesting Robert Plant to Jimmy Page and Ian Gillan as Rod Evans replacement in Deep Purple – so in those terms you could say he did British Rock and our world a bit of a favour. His own career’s blistering success however has been erratic if not at all. His debut album “Bang Bang You’re Terry Reid” was released October 1968 on Epic in the States only – his 2nd self-titled LP “Terry Reid” came out in November 1969 and was his first in the UK on Columbia Records. Both were critically acclaimed in certain circles but neither did chart business despite quality singles off of each. So a new signing with the spiritual home of Led Zeppelin on Atlantic Records must have seen like a break at the time. But “River” peeled back the raspy guttural ‘rawk’ songs of the first two records and went for a more ‘down by the river contemplating life’ vibe – and again it received praise but despite touring both in the USA and Blighty - precious little record sales. And in some respects the album has remained a bit of an underground classic ever since.

EDDIE OFFORD (long-time associated with Yes) produced “Dream” and “Milestones” in England while Atlantic's resident producing genius TOM DOWD did the other five in America. REID played guitar and sang, DAVID LINDLEY played Steel, Slide and Electric guitar on all selections with LEE MILES on Bass and CONRAD ISADORE drumming on 4 tracks. WILLIE BOBO supplies Percussion on “River”. Having relocated to California in 1972 while legal wrangles were being sorted out – the laid-back groove of that lifestyle permeates every song. The opener “Dean” is a little trippy, a little bluesy and yes even Soulful and Funky. His voice is just amazing. “Avenue” features Lindley’s distinctive playing to the fore and has some strange choppy rhythms – great stuff. Acoustic Rock-Funk follows in “Things To Try” – a cool little tune and surprising Atlantic didn’t consider it as a single.  

Side 2 opens with “Live Life” settling into a sort of Tony Joe White groove – cool and infectious – letting his fantastic voice rip in the second half. It gets all jazzy and smoking-room with the languid title track “River” where Willie Bobo shuffles on Percussion in the background. In fact I’m reminded of Dire Straits’ debut album “Water Of Love” (also produced by Dowd). “Dream” has always been my favourite – acoustic and sloppy – it just sort of lingers like a lovely air – maybe I’ll stay – maybe I won’t (lyrics above). It ends on the Nick Drake gentleness and peace of “Milestones” – as delicate and as a lovely a tune as you’ve ever heard with superb layered Reid vocal flourishes throughout.

In August 2011 I did a Listmania List on Amazon UK and USA called “Obscure Albums That Shouldn’t Be…” and Terry Reid’s “River” is on both. Get this gorgeous record in your life and well done to all at BGO for doing it a solid…

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