Saturday, 13 June 2015

“Original Album Series” by BRINSLEY SCHWARZ [featuring Nick Lowe, Ian Gomm and Bob Andrews] (2015 Parlophone/Warners Music Group 5CD Mini Box Set) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Home In My Hand..."

Named after their Guitarist 'Brinsley Ernest Schwarz' (even though almost all their tunes were penned by Nick Lowe) – Britain’s BRINSLEY SCHWARZ have had one remastered CD compilation to their name (to my knowledge) called "Surrender To The Rhythm" in 1991 on EMI. And that’s been it for decades. So this five-album haul is a welcome inclusion in the increasingly impressive "Original Album Series".

And even though each CD is listed as a 2011 master and doesn’t say where or who remastered them – they are remastered. I’m thrilled to say that these CDs sound wonderful – really clear and full of presence (sounds like Peter Mew’s handy work or they could be the versions prepared for the Japanese reissues in 2013?). Whatever is the truth - there's an awful lot of sublime Seventies music on offer here that you've probably not heard - and should. And for Nick Lowe fans – it’s a motherlode they will need. Here are the Silver Pistol details...

UK released Monday 27 April 2015 (May 2015 in the USA) - "Original Album Series" by BRINSLEY SCHWARZ on Parlophone/Warner Music Group 2564622174 (Barcode 825646221745) is a 5CD Mini Box Set with 5" Card Repro Sleeves and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (39:44 minutes):
1. Hymn To Me
2. Shining Brightly
3. Rock And Roll Women
4. Lady Constant
5. What Do You Suggest [Side 2]
6. Mayfly
7. Ballad Of A Has Been Beauty Queen
Tracks 1 to 7 are their debut album "Brinsley Schwarz". Produced by guitarist Brinsley Schwarz and Dave Robinson - it was released April 1970 in the UK on United Artists UAS 29111 and in the USA on Capitol ST-589. All tracks are NICK LOWE originals except "Hymn To Me" which was written by all four members of the band – NICK LOWE on Guitars, Bass and Lead Vocals, BRINSLEY SCHWARZ on Guitars and Vocals, BOB ANDREWS on Keyboards, Bass and Vocals and BILL RANKIN on Drums. The CD master is dated 2011.

Disc 2 (38:42 minutes):
1. Country Girl
2. The Slow One
3. Funk Angel
4. Piece Of Home
5. Love Song [Side 2]
6. Starship
7. Ebury Down
8. Old Jarrow
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 2nd LP "Despite It All". Like the first album it was Produced by guitarist Brinsley Schwarz and Dave Robinson and released November 1971 in the UK on Liberty Records LBG 83427 and in the USA on Capitol ST-744. All songs are Nick Lowe originals except "Piece Of Home" which was written by Bob Andrews.

Disc 3 (41:10 minutes):
1. Dry Land
2. Merry Go Round
3. One More Day
4. Nightingale
5. Silver Pistol
6. Last Time I Was Fooled
7. Unknown Number [Side 2]
8. Range War
9. Egypt
10. Niki Hoeke Speedway
11. Ju Ju Man
12. Rockin' Chair
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 3rd album "Silver Pistol". Like the first and second album it was Produced by guitarist Brinsley Schwarz and Dave Robinson and released October 1971 in the UK on United Artists UAS 29217 and in the USA on United Artists UAS 5566. Tracks 1, 3, 8, 9 and 12 are IAN GOMM originals (who joined the band for this album and replaces Brinsley Schwarz) while tracks 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are Nick Lowe originals. "Nicky Hoeke Speedway" and "Ju Ju Man" are Jim Ford cover versions. The CD master is dated 2011.

Disc 4 (39:20 minutes):
1. It’s Been So Long
2. Happy Doing What We’re Doing
3. Surrender To The Rhythm
4. Don’t Loose Your Grip On Love
5. Nervous On The Road (But Can't Stay At Home)
6. Feel A Little Funky [Side 2]
7. I Like It Like That
8. Brand New You, Brand New Me
9. Home In My Hand
10. Why, Why, Why, Why, Why
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 4th album "Nervous On The Road" - released September 1972 in the UK on United Artists UAS 29374 and in the USA on United Artists UAS 5647. Produced by Brinsley Schwarz, Dave Robinson and Kingsley Ward – track 1 is by Ian Gomm, track 2 is a co-write between Bob Andrews and Nick Lowe, tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 are Nick Lowe originals while "I Like It Like That" is a Chris Kenner cover version (co-written by Kenner with Allen Toussaint) and "Home In My Hand" is a cover version of a Ronnie Self rockabilly tune. The CD master is dated 2011.

Disc 5 (36:35 minutes):
1. Hooked On Love
2. Why Do We Hurt The One We Love?
3. I Worry ('Bout You Baby)
4. Don’t Ever Change
5. Home In My Hand (Live)
6. Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)
7. I Won't Make It Without You
8. Down In Mexico
9. Speedoo
10. The Version (Hypocrite)
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 5th album "Please Don't Ever Change" - released October 1973 in the UK on United Artists UAS 29489 (no USA release). Produced by Brinsley Schwarz and Vic Maile. Track 1 is an Ian Gomm song, tracks 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 are Nick Lowe originals, the Ronnie Self cover "Home In My Hand" is a 'live' version recorded at The Hope & Anchor Pub in London’s Islington. "Speedoo" is a cover of the Cadillacs vocal group hit, "Don't Ever Change" is a Goffin/King song recorded by The Crickets and "The Version (Hypocrite)" is a Bob Marley cover. The CD master is dated 2011

As is mostly the norm with this series - none of these discs have any extras and are straightforward transfers of the original vinyl LPs (with repro artwork front and rear). Each CD label lists the tracks along with Writer and Producer credits - a good idea because the 5” Repro Sleeves (although they look nice) are hard if not impossible to read. As I’ve already pointed out above – there is no real indication as to who remastered these albums only that 2011 is the date for all five titles.

The first album offers strong contenders like "Hymn To Me", "What Do You Suggest?" and the epic rocking ten minutes of "Ballad Of A Has Been Beauty Queen" that finishes Side 2. The second platter for 1970 offers the Soulful Blues of "The Slow One" while the boys go all Country on “Starship” (BJ Cole on the Pedal Steel). The audio quality on the largely acoustic "Edbury Down" is really clean while the seven-minute "Old Jarrow" feels like the band has been listening to Matthews Southern Comfort and Fairport Convention's "Liege & Lief" for an entire week.

Ian Gomm joined the band for "Silver Pistol" contributed three songs to the mix including the Shadows-like instrumental "Rockin' Chair". While "Merry Go Round" sounds great (audiowise) - "Egypt" is very hissy unfortunately. Top sound though on Gomm's "Range War" and Lowe's "The Last Time I Was Fooled".

Nick Lowe's writing began to improve big time by the time the band reached the superb "Nervous On The Road" – cracking Rock 'n' Roller tunes like "Surrender To The Rhythm" and the title track "Nervous On The Road (But Can't Stay At Home)" - while their choices of cover versions were inspired – Chris Kenner's "I Like It Like That" and the brill Rockabilly of Ronnie Self's cool "Home In My Hand". In fact Dave Edmunds would plunder "Home In My Hand" and Jim Ford's "Ju Ju Man" for his own albums.

While Ian Gomm's opener "Hooked On Love" is a great Brinsley tune - Lowe's vignettes again sail above the others on the underrated and criminally forgotten "Please Don't Ever Change" album (in fact for me both it and "Nervous On The Road" are the best albums in here). Songs like the jerky New Wave shuffle of "Why Do We Hurt The One We Love?" and the party boogie of "Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)" give more than a nod to his "Jesus Of Cool" debut solo LP in 1978. "I Won't Make It Without You" gives a real indication of his romantic troubadour years to come also – all cool stuff...

So there you have it - cool band and a very zippy little reissue. Terry Reid, Brinsley Schwarz and Jimmy Webb are all new 27 April 2015 additions in this "Original Album Series" and what winners all three are. Between these and the superlative "Greenwich Village FOLK SCENE" 5CD installment (also in the "Original Album Series") – I'm a very happy bunny indeed (see reviews for the lot).

Buy this cheap-as-chips gift to your inner Nick and Play That Fast Thing (One More Time)...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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