Thursday, 30 July 2015

"Crying Laughing Loving Lying" by LABI SIFFRE (July 2015 Edsel Expanded CD Reissue – Phil Kinrade Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...It Must Be Love..."

Back in June 2006 - EMI launched a 7-CD reissue campaign for Labi Siffre's 70s catalogue on Pye Records  – the five listed below, 1975's "Remember My Song" and a further “Best Of”. Those Abbey Road CD remasters (probably done by Nigel Reeves) had gorgeous sound, relevant bonus tracks (including Previously Unreleased) and came in jewel cases with 12-page booklets that were adequate rather than inspiring. But they’ve been deleted for some years now and some have even acquired a nasty price tag in some cases.

Well after some delays (these were supposed to show up in June 2015 and then 10 July 2015, they’re now released Friday 31 July 2015) – along comes Edsel of the UK with five upgraded CD reissues of those Seventies catalogue gems  (in digipaks this time) and having acquired the lot on the day of release - I’m thrilled to say that they’re 'all' beautifully done and have even filled in some important CD holes in Labi Siffre’s Discography.

The 2006 CD had 18 tracks and ran to 64:01 minutes (the 12-song album pumped up with 6 bonuses). Rejiggering the extras and adding on the stunning non-album 7" single "Watch Me" and the elusive B-side "To Find Love" which has never been on CD before (his most famous song “It Must Be Love" was the A-side) – this 2015 Edsel Reissue and CD Remaster runs to 68:56 minutes. It bumps up the track count to 20 and has new ALAN ROBINSON liner notes based on interviews with Labi Siffre in 2015. There’s a lot to get through - so here are details...

UK released Friday, 31 July 2015 (August 2015 in the USA) – "Crying Loving Laughing Lying" BY LABI SIFFRE on Edsel EDSA 5041 (Barcode 740155504137) is an 'Expanded Edition CD' version in a card digipak and breaks down as follows (68:56 minutes):

1. Saved
2. Cannock Chase
3. Fool Me A Goodnight
4. It Must Be Love
5. Gimme Some More
6. Blue Lady
7. Love Oh Love Oh Love [Side 2]
8. Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying
9. Hotel Room Song
10. My Song
11. Till Forever
12. Come On Michael
Tracks 1 to 12 make up the album "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" – released October 1972 in the UK on Pye International Records NSPL 28163 (all songs are Siffre originals).

13. To Find Love – the non-album B-side to his 4th UK 7" single "It Must Be Love" released November 1971 on Pye International 7N.25572 – first time on CD
14. Watch Me – the non-album A-side to his 6th UK 7" single "Watch Me" released July 1972 on Pye International 7N.25586. It's non-album B-side "Here I Am" is one of the bonus tracks on the debut album "Labi Siffre"
15. You Make It Easy
16. Good Old days
17. Pristine Verses
18. You’ll Let Me Know
19. Oh Me Oh My Mr. City Goodbye
20. For The Lovin'
Tracks 15, 16, 17, 18 and 20 were album outtakes first issued on the 2006 EMI CD - PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED at the time
Track 19 is the non-album B-side to "If You Have Faith" - a track off the 1973 album "For The Children". The UK 7" single was released October 1973 on Pye International Records 7N.25629

Three 45s were issued around the album and using the "Labi Siffre" debut album CD reissue - can be sequenced in remastered form by fans as follows...

1. It Must Be Love [4] b/w To Find Love [13]
UK released November 1971 on Pye International 7N 25572
US released 1972 on Bell Records 183

2. Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying [8] b/w Why Did You Go, Why Did You Leave
UK released March 1972 on Pye International 7N.25576
US released 1972 on Bell Records 218
The non-album B-side is available as a bonus on the "Labi Siffre" CD Reissue

3. Watch Me [14] b/w Here We Are
UK released July 1972 on Pye National 7N.25586
USA released 1972 on Bell Records 298
The non-album B-side is available as a bonus on the "Labi Siffre" CD Reissue

The 2006 CD reissue had a 12-page booklet that reproduced the lyric insert of the album across two pages and short liner notes. Edsel’s impressive 32-page booklet upgrade not only gives you lyrics to every song, but lists the musicians beneath each and shows the lyrics for the bonus tracks for the first time. Inbetween that you get rare Euro Picture Sleeves for the big hits "It Must Be Love" and "Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying" as well as photos of the Pye Tape Boxes. Licensed from Siffre direct – the PHIL KINRADE Remasters done at Alchemy Mastering are truly gorgeous. I’d suggest that the rare B-side "To Find Love" sounds suspiciously like its been done off vinyl - but I'd emphasise that it stills sounds amazing. The clarity and depth of those rattling acoustic strings is incredible here - a massive improvement on the hiss and muddiness that went with previous budget label reissues.

Born in London in 1945 to a Belgian/Barbadian mum and Nigerian father, Labi had his demos sent to a music publisher in late 1969 which resulted in a publishing contract and the recording and release of his first album on Pye Records early in 1970 (Pye Records at that time was home to The Kinks and Status Quo). His style for the first 5 albums he did on Pye is more singer-songwriter than soulster, though the tracks themselves are often very soulful in their nature - sort of a Bill Withers meets Gilbert O'Sullivan vibe. Many were just Labi Siffre, an acoustic guitar and his high falsetto voice. He's often lumped in with easy-listening here in the UK which does his superb song-writing talents a huge disservice - and like Gilbert O'Sullivan - he is another 'soft' songwriter of the Seventies not given nearly enough credit for his brilliance in penning a truly touching tune, but beloved still by fans and those who like their singers to be on the side of Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor.

Increasingly his songs are being name-checked and used by R 'n' B soul boys of the last few years who have realized that Labi's songs offer a wealth of good source material. KAYNE WEST sampled "My Song" from "Crying Laughing Loving Lying" on his "I Wonder" track from 2007's "Graduation" - while both JAY-Z and EMINEM have famously sampled the stunning bass break that happens half way through "I Got The..." on "Remember My Song" from 1975.

His 3rd studio album opens with the Acapella “Saved” and then goes into the jaunty “Cannock Chase” – beautiful clarity on both tracks. But it’s nuggets like the lovely "Fool Me A Goodnight", "Hotel Room Song" and "My Song" that have languished in obscurity for far too long. And again I can’t emphasise enough the fabulous remastering. I've treasured this album for years on vinyl and to finally hear it given this kind of sound quality is a joy. "It Must Be Love" and the beautiful title track "Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying" sound fab. I’ve always thought that the stand-alone “Watch Me” is his masterpiece from the period – a song that literally makes me weepy (I was in love with a girl at the time) and it’s presence here as a new bonus is a winner. Of the album outtakes “You Make It Easy” has a lovely melody – Siffre and an electric piano – its very demo-ish but full of feeling and has a Bacharach brass refrain during its pretty chorus.

Siffre retired for a few years but then returned in 1987 with "(Something Inside) So Strong" on China Records - a magnificent Anti-Apartheid anthem and as moving a song as you're ever likely to hear. His into-the-light website is fascinating also - packed with poetry, political observations and extremely active fan exchanges etc.

This is a gorgeous reissue and well done to Edsel for making “Crying Laughing Loving Lying” available again on CD – and in such sweet style...

The 31 July 2015 EDSEL Expanded CD Remasters for LABI SIFFRE are:

1. Labi Siffre (1970)
Edsel EDSA 5041 (Barcode 740155503932) with 6 Bonus Tracks
2. The Singer And The Song (1971)
Edsel EDSA 5040 (Barcode 740155504038) with 8 Bonus Tracks
3. Crying Laughing Loving Lying (1972)
Edsel EDSA 5041 (Barcode 740155504137) with 8 Bonus Tracks
4. For The Children (1973)
Edsel EDSA 5041 (Barcode 740155504236) with 1 Bonus Track
5. The Last Songs (1998)
Edsel EDSA 5043 (Barcode 740155504335) no bonus tracks

His 5th studio album “Remember My Song” from March 1975 on EMI was reissued on CD in 2006 too but for some undisclosed reason is not included in this 2015 reissue campaign. 

There was one last studio album in the Seventies for EMI called "Happy?" released in November 1975 and its 10-tracks are available on CD albeit in a round about way. The EMI CD compilation called "The Music Of Labi Siffre" contains all but one song of the "Remember My Song" album and the full “Happy?” album (see separate review) – so you acquire that budget-priced CD to get the guts of both records for a reasonable sum. 

The 14 new tunes of “The Last Songs” was recorded live on Tour in 1998 and released on CD that year. It was reissued in 2006 and is once again in this 2015 Edsel campaign (no bonus tracks). It’s beautifully recorded and songs like “Sparrow In The Storm” and “Why Isn’t Love Enough?” show Siffre has lost none of his singer-songwriter magic...

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Books Series. E-Books giving advice on "Exceptional CD Remasters" in different genres. Check out SOUNDS GOOD: Classic 1970s Rock...available to buy on Amazon and many other download sites...

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