Tuesday, 31 May 2016

"Turnstiles" by BILLY JOEL (1998 and 2001 Columbia 'Remaster' CD) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...It's Either Sadness Or Euphoria..." 

As so many have noted - New Yorker Billy Joel smashed his way into people's heart (and charts around the world) in 1977 with his magnificent album "The Stranger". But the one that went before "Turnstiles" in 1976 is an unsung masterpiece in my book and equal to its more famous follow-up in many ways. Here are the New York States Of Mind...

UK and USA released October 1998 (reissued April 2001) - "Turnstiles" by BILLY JOEL on Columbia 491183 2 (Barcode 5099749118324) is a straightforward transfers and 'Remaster' of that album and plays outs as follows (43:23 minutes):

1. Say Goodbye To Hollywood
2. Summer, Highland Falls
3. All You Wanna Do Is Dance
4. New York State Of Mind
5. James [Side 2]
6. Prelude/Angry Young Man
7. I've Loved These Days
8. Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)
Tracks 1 to 8 are his 4th studio album "Turnstiles" - released May 1976 in the USA on Columbia PC 33848 and July 1976 in the UK on CBS Records S 81195. Produced by BILLY JOEL - it peaked at No. 122 in the USA but didn't chart in the UK.

The Band:
BILLY JOEL - Piano and Lead Vocals
HOWIE EMERSON, JAMES SMITH and RUSSELL HAVORS - Electric and Acoustic Guitars
MINGO LEWIS - Percussion
KEN ASCHER - Orchestra Arrangements

The supposed 'upgraded' 8-page booklet offers lyrics to all eight songs; original recording credits with reissue details and little else by way of history or input. Still - the TED JENSEN Remaster (done at Sterling Sound in New York) is good - if not a little too clean in the bottom end.

But that's quickly wiped away by the quality of the songs that keep hammering you - one after another. Compared to "Piano Man" (1973) and "Street Life Serenade" (1974) - there’s huge songwriting maturity in the opening double salvo - the castanets and Ronettes big-bass-drum sound of "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" and the gorgeous "Summer, Highland Falls" - a piano masterpiece if ever there was one. He opens with "...they say these are not the best of times...but their the only times I've ever known..." and later on "...so we argue and we compromise...and realize that nothing's ever changed..." I've never liked the cod-reggae rhythms in "All You Wanna Do Is Dance" but if you're a fan - the Audio is amazing - right in your face for all the right reasons. Side 1 ends with the album's high water moment - the amazingly poignant "New York State Of Mind" - a song that he has to play live every night or they may indeed be a riot that would require the NYPD to sort it out.

Side 2 opens with the plinking keyboard sound of "James" - sounding for a moment like "Just The Way You Are" - a tale about Joel who goes on the road while his pal pursues an education and a possible writing career. We get that rapid-fire piano "Prelude" to the caustic and street-witty "Angry Young Man" where the listener is asked to empathise "...give a moment or two to the angry young man...with his foot in his mouth and his heart in his hand..." Here we have a man that’s proud of his battles and scars - and while his finger-pointing anger irritates - at least his Soul is the right place even if his chances of success are in the crapper.  Both the hurting "I've Loved These Days" and the finisher "Miami 2017..." have featured heavily in his live sets - that fabulous piano opening being the perfect appetite wetter. There's a melodrama to "Miami 2017..." - an opera out on the turnpike, as Bruce would say - with that defiant guitar chopping. This is a song where "...they burned the churches up in Harlem..." and "...The Mafia took over Mexico..." What a tune and an epic way to finish the album.

"...There are not many who remember...they say a handful still survive..." And as those piano notes fade out like some Saturday Night hangover melody on the brilliant "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)" - you can't feel that's true about this whole brilliant but overlooked album...

"The Bothy Band" by THE BOTHY BAND [feat Donal Lunny, Matt Molloy, Tommy Peoples and Paddy Keenan, Michael and Triona O'Donnell] (Mulligan CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Do You Love A Laddie With Curly Brown Hair?" 

Taking their name from the ramshackle homes of migrant workers (they were called 'bothies') and the traditional music groups that sprang up from them – as a Dubliner who lived through it - I've loved THE BOTHY BAND with a passion all of my life. But a bit of history is needed to fully review the impact of their arrival and especially their magical first platter "The Bothy Band" (aka "The Bothy Band 1975" because of the photos on the front cover although it's actually credited as "The Bothy Band” on the label and spine).

When their properly Traditional debut album hit the streets of the UK in March 1976 on Polydor Super 2383 379 - Irish Folk music was often mired in horrible pro-Nationalist rhetoric and the bloodshed that followed it. Sure we had PLANXTY with Christy Moore – who were wonderful too (also on Polydor Records) – but we had that other crap too and little else we Young Irish with half a brain wanted to hear. THE BOTHY BAND changed all of that. And they were utterly magical live too...

First up there were six in THE BOTHY BAND...
MICHAEL O'DOMHNAILL (Michael O'Donnell) - Guitar and Lead Vocals
TRIONA NI DHOMHNAILL (Triona O'Donnell) - Harpsichord, Bodhran and Lead Vocals
DONAL LUNNY - Bouzouki and Vocals
MATT MALLOY - Flute and Whistle
PADDY KEENAN - Uilleann Pipes and Whistle

1. The Kesh Jig/Give Us A Drink Of Water/The Flower Of The Flock/Famous Ballymote - Instrumental
2. The Green Groves Of Erin/The Flowers Of The Red Hill - Instrumental
3. Do You Love An Apple? - Lead Vocals, Triona
4. Julia Delaney - Instrumental
5. Patsy Geary's/Coleman's Cross - Instrumental
6. Is Trua Nach Bhfuil Me In Eirinn - Lead Vocals, Michael
7. The Navvy On The Line/The Rainy Day - Instrumental
8. The Tar Road To Sligo/Paddy Clancy's - Instrumental [Side 2]
9. Martin Wynn's/The Longford Tinker
10. Pretty Peg/Craig's Pipes
11. Hector The Hero/The Laird Of Drumblaire (Strathspey & Reel)
12. The Traveller/The Humours Of Lissadel
13. The Butterfly
14. The Salamanca/The Banshee/The Sailor's Bonnet
Tracks 1 to 14 are their debut album "The Bothy Band" - released March 1976 in the UK on Polydor Super 2383 379 and May 1976 in Ireland on Mulligan Records LUN 002.

The significance of the sheer number of bodies meant that The Bothy Band's rhythm section had an ‘oomph’ other four-piece Traditional Irish Folk groups like say PLANXTY simply didn't have. As the songs progressed - the combo of Triona's Harpsichord and Donal Lunny's Bouzouki would provide a backbeat that elevated the expert Fiddle playing of Tommy Peoples and the amazing pipes of Paddy Keenan. The power of this both in the studio and live would have audiences in raptures - clapping and feet-stomping. This musical set up is taken for granted now – but at the time it was kind of revolutionary. Throw in two deeply beautiful voices from the leads (brother and sister) - Triona singing "Do You Love An Apple" or Michael singing "Is Trua Nach Bhfuil Me In Eirinn" and the heartstrings would be tugged as well. Bands such as STOCKTON'S WING and DE DANAAN followed in their wake at the time and into the 90's and 00's with ALTAN, DERVISH and even Scotland's CAPERCAILLIE.

The 'Irish' CD I have is made in Austria and distributed by CM Distributions in Harrogate, North Yorkshire using the Mulligan Records logo and catalogue number Mulligan LUN CD 002 (Barcode 5016364300859) and is a straightforward transfer of the album (47:48 minutes). Outside of the musician credits that came with the original LP - there's absolutely zero info on the gatefold slip of paper that acts as an inlay - essentially an advert for other CM Distribution titles. There are no mastering credits of any kind but the AUDIO is great - full and lively. There's a wonderful vitality to the disc. I know there's a Shanachie Records reissue of the album out of the States but I can't comment on that as I don't own it.

Of all the 14 songs - each was a Traditional Irish air arranged by the group - and most unknown to us. These were musicians in their late 20s when they formed - steeped in Irish Folk - expert players - giving us jigs, reels, pipe solos and following the instrumental dexterity with vocal ballads full of fun - songs about love and longing. I can remember being in The National Stadium in Dublin when Triona sang "...before I got married I wore a black shawl...but since I got married...I wore bugger all...but still I love him...I can't deny him...I'll be with him wherever he goes..." in "Do You Love An Apple". The men laughed but the women shed a tear because they knew the woman's voice and heart (too damned true). Triona would then make us laugh with "Pretty Peg" where a frisky girl has "...a boy in her bed..." with her mum downstairs - prayer book in hand - praying for the doubtful soul of her lusty daughter. The lyrical craic then segues into Paddy Keenan and Tommy Peoples doing a Pipes/Fiddle double that romps it home. I can also remember feeling an 'Irish' awakening at the time - this was music we could be proud of off. I even had "The Bothy Band" sewn onto the back of my Wrangler shirt by a girlfriend of mine in beautiful gold and green Irish calligraphy - it was the envy of many and I got asked to sell it a hundred times over (wore out after too many washes).

Of the jigs and reels the opening "Kesh Jig" ensemble is fantastic stuff and if you've heard the posthumous live BBC set - you'll know that Paddy Keenan's pipe playing on "Patsy Geary's..." would bring the house down. I don't know how many notes he hit in three minutes but I wouldn't like to count them. The Harpsichord is used to fabulous effect on "The Butterfly" lending the song an English madrigal feel. Other highlights include "Pretty Peg" and the builder "Julia Delaney" - an instrumental that would convert even the doubter.

DONAL LUNNY (who'd been with Planxty) formed Mulligan Records in Ireland releasing important albums like Paul Brady's brilliant "Welcome Here Kind Stranger" from September 1978 as well as Rock acts like Scullion (Leo O'Kelly and Sonny Condell from Tir na n'Og), Gay and Terry Woods, Freddie White and even Irish punk band The Vipers. Mulligan Records was primarily about Irish Folk and gave voice to Mick Hanley, Kevin Burke, Jim Crowley, Andy Irvine, Matt Molloy, Liam Weldon, Dolores Keane and Christy Moore's brother Barry Moore (know as Luka Bloom now) whose "Treaty Stone" LP from September 1978 is one of the most beautiful Irish Folk-Rock LPs I've ever heard. Lunny would also have involvement with U2 and Windmill Lane Studios and remains a leading light in Irish music to this day. As for The Bothys - hell even a dance band sampled the entirely Acapella 'mouth music' vocal racehorse that is "Fionnaghula" on their second album "Old Hag You Have Killed Me" from October 1976. If they reformed – many would come running from wide and afar...

"The Bothy Band" is a great album and a forgotten masterpiece of the Irish Folk genre. They went on to make two more studio LPs and one cracking live album (see list below) – but my heart will always be with this brilliant opening salvo.

"...Do you love an apple...do you love a pear..." – they sang over 40 years ago.

Indeed I do and I suggest (in the best possible taste of course) you get rightly fruity with them too...

THE BOTHY BAND Discography on LP and CD
1. The Bothy Band
March 1976 UK LP on Polydor Super 2383 379
Mulligan LUN CD OO2 (Barcode 5016364300859)

2. Old Hag You Have Killed Me
October 1976 UK LP on Polydor Super 2383 417
Mulligan LUN CD 007 (Barcode 5016364300774)

3. Out Of The Wind, Into The Sun
October 1977 UK LP on Polydor Super 2383 456
Mulligan LUN CD 013 (Barcode 5098990120803)

4. Afterhours – Recorded Live In Paris
February 1979 UK LP on Polydor Super 2383 530 (with insert)
Mulligan LUN CD 030 (Barcode 5098990120902)

5. The Best Of The Bothy Band
September 1980 UK LP on Polydor Super 2383 583
Mulligan LUN CD 041 (Barcode 5098990121008)

6. Live In Concert (Recorded in London in 1976 and 1978)
May 1994 CD-only compilation on Windsong International WINCD 060 (Barcode 5018766943061)

Sunday, 29 May 2016

"Give It Up" by BONNIE RAITT (2002 Warner Brothers 'Remasters' CD) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Love Has No Pride..." 

Bonnie's second Warner Brothers platter "Give It Up" from the winter of 1972 cemented the reputation and career opener of "Bonnie Raitt" in 1971 - another great Blues Rock album played by a woman steeped in the traditions of American R&B and ably supported by a gang of likeminded quality musicians. And for "Give It Up" - the Burbank Blues woman threw in three songs of her own amidst the cleverly chosen covers. Here are the ladylike details...

UK released March 2002 – "Give It Up" by BONNIE RAITT on Warner Brothers 8122-78378-2 (Barcode 081227837822) is a straightforward Remaster of the album and plays out as follows (36:57 minutes):

1. Give It Up Or Let Me Go
2. Nothing Seems To Matter
3. I Know
4. If You Gotta Make A Fool Somebody
5. Love Me Like A Man
6. Two Long At The Fair [Side 2]
7. Under The Falling Sky
8. You Got To Know How
9. You Told Me Baby
10. Love Has No Pride
Tracks 1 to 10 are her second studio album "Give It Up" - released October 1972 in the USA on Warner Brothers BS 2643 and November 1972 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 46189. Produced by MICHAEL CUSCUNA - it peaked at No. 138 on the US album charts.

The 8-page inlay gives song-by-song breakdowns, photos of the ensemble musicians and some liner notes on the players by producer MICHAEL CUSCANA (as well as reissue credits). There's a 'Digitally Remastered' logo sticker on the jewel case and a silver inlay that says the same. GREGG GELLER has co-ordinated the Warner Remasters Series with TERESA CAFFIN and ED CHERNEY carrying out the transfers and remasters. They've done a fab job. This CD sounds fantastic – a transfer that's brought out the original production values with aplomb. Fans are going to love it.

It opens on the barnstorming and decidedly jolly (for a mean song) "Give It Up Or Let Me Go" where our Bonnie warns her potential suitor that if he wants he's... The ragtime Bluesy tune benefits from her giving it some National Steel bottleneck while John Payne, Peter Eckland, Amos Garrett and Freebo do the honours on Saxophone, Cornet, Trombone and Tuba. It's followed by the gorgeous "Nothing Seems To Matter" (without you) - a ballad with Dave Holland on Double Bass and John Payne on Saxophone (of "Astral Weeks" fame) both adding a huge amount of ambience to the song. Both opening tracks are singing with the Remaster too. New Orleans songwriter and R&B singer Barbara George enjoyed a No. 3 Pop placing with her own "I Know" on the obscure A.F.O. Records 302 way back December 1961 - Bonnie keeps it Orleans and does some fantastic National Steel while Marc Jordan plays funky piano and John Hall (later with Orleans) and British Apple singing Jackie Lomax provide backing vocals). The goodies just keep on coming with a wickedly good cover of James Ray's "If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody" (written by Rudy Clark) - a No. 22 Pop hit Washington DC singer way back in December 1961 on Caprice Records 110. 

A perfect Side 1 ends on another winner - a Chris Smither Blues boogie and probably many people's fave track on the album - "Love Me Like A Man". I loved Smither's CD album "Drive You Home Again" from 1999 on Hightone Records (check it out if you can) and fell for his huge voice and sly way with a lyric. They’re songwriting/musical connection stretches way past 1972 though. Raitt does a duet with him on a haunting cover of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" on Smither's "Train Home" CD album from 2003 – fantastic stuff. Back to 1972 - on "Love Me Like A Man" it's like Smither has tapped into her zeitgeist - the swagger and sexiness of the woman mixed with a need for a pair of strong arms and not flapping jaws ("...a man who take me home instead of taking me for a ride..."). And she plays great slide on it too - superb stuff.

Side 2 changes mood big time and offers us "Too Long At The Fair" by Joel Zoss - a forlorn tired song with John Hall giving it some superb Lead Electric Guitar. None other than Jackson Browne penned the driving boogie of "Under The Falling Sky" which features Paul Butterfield on Harmonica and Tim Moore on Backing Vocals (very cool little tune and the remaster rocks). "You Got To Know How" is an old Sippie Wallace song with additional lyrics from Jack Viertel - Van Morrison's blower John Payne giving it some ragtime clarinet throughout. Bonnie's own "You Told Me Baby" is original number three - an excellent song that's a bit marred by too many instruments fighting for supremacy (horn arrangements by Eric Kaz). Libby Titus and Eric Kaz wrote the touching closer "Love Has No Pride" where Bonnie sings with conviction - "...love has no pride...when I call out your name...I'd give anything...to see you again..." She also plays all instruments except Freebo on the Fretless Bass.

You'd have to say that Side 2 isn't as consistently good as Side 1 - but that doesn't stop the whole album from feeling like "Give It Up" is some kind an 'overlooked' gem that begs rediscovery.

In February 2016 Bonnie released her 20th album "Dig In Deep" and already it's received a warm welcome and many rave reviews. This great American Blues Lady has been a class act for a very long time...time to respect that...

Saturday, 28 May 2016

"The Clovers" by THE CLOVERS (2012 Japan 'Atlantic 1000 R&B Best Collection' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Lovey Dovey All The Time..."

THE CLOVERS rare self-titled debut LP from 1956 on Atlantic Records (re-issued in 1957) is a bit of a R 'n' B and Vocal group barnstormer. And although it didn't contain the immortal drinking-creates-babies song "One Mint Julep" – its cracking 14 tracks represented a sort of 'Best Of' in all but name (US singles that sold huge numbers between 1950 and 1956 on the American R&B charts).

First though a little bit about the CD Series this reissue is presented on - using the generic title 'Atlantic 1000 Best R&B Collection' - these 'limited release' titles out of Warner Brothers Japan were released steadily between October 2012 and February 2014. In the end the tally reached an amazing 250+ different rare releases across the huge WEA catalogue covering Atlantic, Atco, Stax, Curtom and so on (mostly 50ts R&B and Blues with 60ts and 70ts Soul and Funk - see my online blog for a full list and catalogue numbers). Some (you may have noticed) have even been re-pressed in Europe and sold with the Japanese Obi strips behind the shrinkwrap at less than a fiver (using the same Barcodes and Masters).

For the Japanese-Pressed issues the '1000' in the title refers to their price code. Each features a budget price tag of 952 Yen that depending on exchange rates is roughly $9 to $11 for US customers, £5.50 to £7.50 for UK buyers and 8 to 9.20 Euros for Europeans (with P&P added on of course). Roughly speaking they weigh in at about £10 sterling per title INCLUDING post - which is the cheapest I've seen quality Japanese-pressed CDs ever go for.

And what's really enticing is that all issues feature 2012 and 2013 Digital Remastering (DSD) with many titles reissued that were long out of print (and due sonic upgrades) – or new to CD entirely. They come in standard jewel cases (NOT mini repro sleeves – nor SHMs) with an inner booklet containing the lyrics and description etc and an outer Obi strip. The CD label design will usually mimic the original release too – in this case the black 'Atlantic' Records logo with its 'Long Playing Unbreakable' promise beneath.

This 7 November 2012 Japan-only reissue of "The Clovers" by THE CLOVERS on Atlantic/Rhino/Warner Music WPCR-27567 (Barcode 4943674126668) is a straightforward CD transfer of the rare American LP (37:45 minutes). The 12-page booklet features Japanese-language liner notes - lyrics in English and a very clear repro of the LP's rear sleeve liner notes by Jack Walker. The Obi has 'Digital Remastering' on it – other than that It doesn't say who or what. Having said that - the Audio is fantastic - there's a great depth of sound off these Japanese issues - although I'd say in a heartbeat that the 9 tracks across Bear Family's fabulous "Street Corner Symphonies" CD Series (stretching from 1950 to 1959) sound better - especially in the notorious "Don't You Know I Love You" track that seems to have distortion on every version. The Bear issue is the cleanest I've ever heard it - although the rest are excellent - that track here is decidedly sub-par.

Side 1:
1. Love, Love, Love (May 1956 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-1094, A)
2. Lovey Dovey (March 1954 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-1022, A)
3. Yes, It's You (March 1953 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-989, B-side of "Crawlin'")
4. Ting-A-Ling (July 1952 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-969, A)
5. I Played The Fool (October 1952 USA 7" single 45-977, A)
6. Hey Miss Fanny (October 1952 USA 7" single 45-977, B-side of "I Played The Fool")
7. Don't You Know I Love You (March 1951 USA 7" single 45-934, A - their 1st Atlantic 45)

Side 2:
8. Middle Of The Night (March 1952 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-963, B-side of "One Mint Julep")
9. Blue Velvet (April 1955 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-1052, A)
10. Little Mama (March 1954 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-1022, A)
11. Crawlin' (March 1953 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-989, A)
12. Here Goes A Fool (June 1953 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-1000, B-side of "Good Lovin'")
13. I Got My Eyes On You (July 1954 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-1035, A)
14. Devil Or Angel (January 1956 USA 7" single on Atlantic 45-1083, A)
Tracks 1 to 14 are their debut LP "The Clovers" (aka "Rock & Roll") - released 1956 in the USA on Atlantic 1248, re-issued in 1957 on Atlantic 8009 (both in Mono). The 1957 reissue Artwork and Label are used for this Japanese CD.

As you can see from the list above - every track was a single - what the 14 entries don't tell you is the amazing track record they had on the R 'n' B charts. Between the years this LP covers (1950 and 1956) - they clocked up three No. 1's - "Don't You Know I Love You", "Fool, Fool, Fool" and "Ting-A-Ling" - four No. 3's - "Middle Of The Night", "I Played The Fool", "Crawlin'" and "Devil Or Angel" with the remainder Top 5 or Top 10 at worst. Along with Joe Turner, Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker - THE CLOVERS were a huge star attraction for Atlantic Records - and that's what makes this LP so damn good - it's chock full of hits and their equally cool flip-sides. 

You could argue I suppose that you just get "The Platinum Collection" 22-track CD for less than five quid (remastered also - see separate review) - but I'd argue there's something about these Japanese issues that both sounds and looks the part. 

And that's all the Rock 'n' Roll enticement I need...

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

"In Dreams" by ROY ORBISON (2006 Monument/Legacy 'Extended' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...I'm Going Back One Day To Blue Bayou..."

Having established his vocal credentials with his December 1960 debut LP "Roy Orbison Sings Lonely And Blue" (a legendary Audiophile creation especially in Stereo) followed by sucker-punch number two – April 1962's "Crying" – the 'Big O' continued in that vein with a third classic platter of lusty growls and dignified pleading – August 1963's "In Dreams".

Re-listening to it in 2016 on this fab little CD and you’re struck by the awesome Audio, the sheer classiness of the songwriting and his battle weary persona – a strangely warm and accessible thing that seemed to straddle that thin line between young love's emotional highs vs. bottomless heartbreak and still come out smelling of roses. And like its two CD predecessors - this tasty Sony/Legacy 'Extended Edition' CD Reissue/Remaster does that old 60ts long player a solid by adding on four cleverly chosen bonus tracks actually worthy of the moniker (singles in and around the LP). Here are the dreamlike details...

USA released August 2006 (October 2006 in the UK and Europe) – "In Dreams" by ROY ORBISON on Monument/Legacy/Sony BMG 82876 85573 2 (Barcode 828768557327) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster and plays out as follows (41:47 minutes):

1. In Dreams
2. Lonely Wine
3. Shahdarabo
4. No One Will Ever Know
5. Sunset
6. House Without Windows
7. Dream [Side 2]
8. Blue Bayou
9. (They Call You) Gigolette
10. All I Have To Do Is Dream
11. Beautiful Dreamer
12. My Prayer
Tracks 1 to 12 are his third album "In Dreams" - released August 1963 in the USA on Monument MLP 8003 (Mono) and Monument SLP 18003 (Stereo) and November 1963 in the UK on London HA-U 8180 (Mono) and London SH-U 8180 (Stereo). Produced by FRED FOSTER – the STEREO Mix is used for the CD.

13. Falling
14. Distant Drums
Tracks 13 and 14 are the non-album A&B-sides of a 7” single released May 1963 in the USA on Monument MO 815 and in the UK on London HL-U 9727. It peaked at No. 22 and No. 9 in the US and UK singles charts respectively. "Distant Drums" was also used as the B-side to "Let The Good Times Roll" in the USA on Monument 906 in October 1965 (peaked at No. 81).

15. Mean Woman Blues
Track 15 is the non-album 7” single Double-A with "Blue Bayou" released August 1963 in the USA on Monument 45-824 (written by Claude DeMetrius) and September 1963 in the UK on London HL-U 9777. It peaked at No. 3 in the UK and twice in the USA, first at No. 5 as the lead song in September 1963 and then at No. 29 as the B-side of "Blue Bayou" in October 1963.

16. Pretty Paper
Track 16 is a non-album 7” single A-side (written by Willie Nelson) released December 1963 in the USA on Monument 45-830 and November 1964 in the UK on London HLU 9930 with "Summersong" on the B-side.

GUITARS – Harold Bradley, Hank Garland, Fred Carter Jr., Ray Edenton, Jerry Kennedy, Scotty Moore, Wayne Moss and Joe Tanner
TRUMPET – Carl Garvin and Cam Mullins
SAXOPHONE – Boots Randolph
HARMONICA – Charlie McCoy
PIANO – Floyd Cramer and Bill Pursell
BASS – Bob Moore
DRUMS – John Greubel and Buddy Harman
VIOLA - Howard Carpenter
CELLO – Bryan Bach
VIOLINS – Brenton banks, George Binkley III, Aileen Fentress, Solie Fott, Lillian Hunt, Jane Norris, Vernal Richardson, Wilda Tinsley and Dorothy Walker
BACKING VOCALS – Joe Melson and The Anita Kerr Singers

Although it has three sepia-tinted Roy photos (smiling at camera) – apart from the repro of Boudleaux Bryant's liner notes – there is naught else by way of history or discussion (more's the pity). The booklet is pretty to look at admittedly but such a shame that Sony and compiler GREG GELLER didn't stretch out a tad with the info (he deserved more). There's a fourth sepia photo of Roy beneath the see-through CD tray.

But all of that is naught to the truly beautiful CD Audio you get the second you start playing the expertly crafted songs. VIC ANESINI did the Remasters at Sony Studios in New York – and he's a name I've sung the praises of before. Anesini has handled very prestigious SONY catalogue – Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, Nilsson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carole King, Janis Joplin, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Santana, Paul Simon, Mountain, Lou Reed and The Jayhawks to name but a few. Clean – full of presence and warmth – this thing is a joy to listen too. And even if the strings and Anita Kerr Singers do tend to over dramatise some of the songs – Orbison's voice is a thing of wonder throughout. It's also one of those reissues that become vastly enhanced by the addition of four smartly chosen and apt bonus tracks - the two sides of the shuffling single "Falling" (with "Distant Drums" on the flip) and the fantastic 'shapely hips' dancer "Mean Woman Blues" double A-sided with the beautiful "Blue Bayou". When he does that 'grrrrr' growl in "Mean Woman Blues" it always raises a grin...

Like the "...Only The Lonely" LP – this album opens with a mighty epic – "In Dreams". Our hero only has to "...close my eyes and drift away..." and he's with his squeeze in some beach setting where the cruelty of reality is no more. The audio on this mini masterpiece is (if you'll forgive the pun) – monumental – and all the more impressive to see that like much of the album the song is penned by Roy with his songwriting buddy of choice – Joe Melson. Roy Wells wrote the lovely ballad "Lonely Wine" - a very classy affair with gorgeous Production values. The desert rhythms of the 'Nile' song "Shahdaroba" is probably a bit naff by today's reckoning but the rat-a-tat-tat marching beats of "No One Will Ever Know" is superb - another melodrama builder supplied by the great Tennessee songwriter Fred Rose. Another hidden nugget is the Side 1 finisher "House Without Windows" where the Big O has moved into a windowless home so he never has to see his heart's desire pass by (bit radical Roy).

Side 2 opens with a beauty - Roy's cover of the Johnny Mercer classic "Dream" strummed on a Spanish Guitar before that familiar drum shuffle kicks in (the audio is beautiful on this track). Linda Ronstadt knew the sheer songwriting class that filled every second of "Blue Bayou" when she covered it for her 1977 album "Simple Dreams" - her 7" single version peaking at a huge No. 3 in October 1977 on the US Pop charts. Roy's version features a very cool Charlie McDaniels Harmonica solo. Other highlights on the side include a cover of The Everly Brothers classic "All I Have To Do Is Dream" and Stephen Foster's ancient but gorgeous and haunting ballad "Beautiful Dreamer" (check out Raul Malo of The Mavericks who did a version of it for the "Songs Of Stephen Foster 1826-1864" CD project in 2004). The Extras really pump up an already great album - four winners in exactly the same vein as the album cuts - all forlorn singing ("Falling") and saucy 'grrrrrrs' ("Mean Woman Blues"). In fact of the three Sony/Legacy 'Expanded Edition' CDs – I'd have to say that "In Dreams" is probably my favourite (I've reviewed the other two also).

Done in conjunction with the Roy Orbison estate – this is a sweetheart of a release and one that boasts exceptional Audio too (classy like the great man himself).

"...I feel so bad...I've got a worried mind...looking forward to happier times..." - Roy sang on "Blue Bayou". Happier times are right here...

Monday, 23 May 2016

"The Eddie Cochran Memorial Album" by EDDIE COCHRAN (Inside The 2009 Bear Family 'Somethin' Else: Ultimate Collection' Box Set Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...You're Sure Fine Lookin'..." 

It's astonishing to think that when Ray Edward Cochran was taken from us in a freak car accident while on tour in England in April 1960 (Sunday the 17th on his way to London’s Heathrow) - he was only 6 months into his 21st year and had already clocked up over 200 recordings. Yet when it comes to CD – the fabulous Cochran is usually represented by a single disc ‘Best Of’ – few thinking to track down his LP legacy.

Well I’d argue that its time to go back to basics and hear his 2nd platter (posthumously) called "The Eddie Cochran Memorial Album" as a stand-alone. Despite its morbid title and artwork that wasn’t nearly as pretty as his July 1958 debut LP "Singin' To My Baby" - I'd argue it's a truly fantastic Rock 'n' Roll album that contains huge hits like "C'mon Everybody", "Three Steps To Heaven", "Summertime Blues" and "Somethin' Else" as well as other lesser-heard goodies like the rockin' "Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie".

You can get the album on this cheap-as-chips Hallmark CD - or do what I did - fork out big time. I found the tracks inside "Somethin' Else: The Ultimate Collection" by EDDIE COCHRAN – a mammoth Box Set typical of my favourite German reissue company’s legendary excellence. Released February 2009 on Bear Family BCD 15989 HK (Barcode 4000127159892) – “Somethin’ Else” gives punters best-audio 8CDs housed in label-themed 2-disc jewel cases inside a 12” x 12" Box Set offering up a huge 262 tracks. There's a beautifully illustrated album-sized 194-Page Hardback Book that is a truly a thing of beauty (yes ‘hardback’!). The set was compiled and prepared across several years by noted experts ANTOON VAN OLDEREN and Bear Family label boss RICHARD WEIZE. But this kind of quality and high-art finish doesn't come cheap - there's little change out of one hundred & fifty pounds - even online. A team consisting of 'BOPPIN' BOB JONES, JAY RANELUCCI, SAM SZCZEPANSKI (for Ivywood Productions) and PETER J. REYNOLDS handled the transfers and remasters. And being Bear Family - the sound quality is gorgeous - first generation tapes used - meticulous transfers - a superb job done. Here’s how to locate the album within the Box Set (3/6 = Disc 3, Track 6 and so on):

Side 1:
1. C'mon Everybody [3/6]
2. Three Steps To Heaven (Version 2) [3/32]
3. Cut Across Shorty (Speeded Up Version) [3/33]
4. Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie [2/26]
5. Pocketful Of Hearts [2/24]
6. Hallelujah, I Love Her So [3/26]
7. Don't Ever Let Me Go [3/5]

Side 2:
1. Summertime Blues [4/1]
2. Teresa [2/28]
3. Somethin' Else [3/17]
4. Pretty Girl [2/25]
5. Teenage Heaven [3/8]
6. Boll Weevil Song [3/18]
7. I Remember [3/9]
His 14-Track 2nd UK LP “The Eddie Cochran Memorial Album” was released in MONO on London HA-G 2267 in September 1960.

It was to be called "12 Of His Greatest Hits" and released just before the accident - but fate stepped in. Withdrawn and given the new moniker - Cochran's official 2nd LP opens on a stunner – "C'mon Everybody". Even now it gives me a thrill when he sings "...when you hear the music you just can't sit still...if you're brother won't rock...then your sister will..." This was young music and kids new that handsome Eddie was their kind of guy. Every bar band has cut their teeth on "Three Steps To Heaven" (not sure if they found the girl they love in Step 1 though). Marijohn Wilkin and Wayne Walker penned the witty rabbit and hare song "Cut Across Shorty" which Rod Stewart covered on his 2nd album "Gasoline Alley" in 1970. Next up is my fave-rave "Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie" - a fabulous Rock 'n' Roll rave up. There's a superb Rockstar Records reissue LP from may 1985 called "Portrait Of A Legend" that featured 10 STEREO tracks for the first time - one of which is a STEREO 'overdub with guitar' take of this stunning rocker - it turns up as Track 7 on Disc 5. Fred Dexter's "Pocketful Of Hearts" is a tad sappy but his cover of Ray Charles' "Hallelujah I Love Her So" lifts proceedings considerably. Dale Fitzsimmons provided "Don't Ever Let Me Go" - a very Buddy Holly influenced shuffling ballad.

Side 2 opens on another winner and teenage rebellion anthem – the 'too young to vote' song "Summertime Blues". It sounds great here - big acoustic guitar and those hand claps. Things get decidedly schlocky with "Teresa" - a 'cuter than a rosebud' crooner tune complete with awful girly vocals (best avoided). It's annihilated by the real deal - the 'sure fine looking' rumble of "Somethin' Else". What a tune and given full reign with the big remaster (a co-write with Sharon Sheeley). Cochran and songwriter Jerry Capehart pumped out the next three rockers - "Teenage Heaven" (featuring in the movie "Go, Johnny, Go!" in 1959 and was a hit single for Eddie on Liberty F-55177), "Boll Weevil Song" and the final ballad - the lovely and criminally forgotten "I Remember". It leaves you feeling that the whole album is one of the greats - albeit an overlooked one.

Issue No. 17,522 of The Daily Mail (Monday, 18 April 1960) headlined that 'Rock Star Dies In Crash' - picturing a smiling Cochran and the mangled British Taxi that took his life and injured Gene Vincent and Eddie's girl and songwriter Sharon Sheeley. Sad, sad, sad - better to remember him with this superb Rock 'n' Roll album...

"Something Old, Something New" by THE OLYMPICS (2006 Ace/Kent 'Hip Pocket' 5" Card CD Repro and Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Earth Breaking...Back Shaking...Do The Philly Dog..."

The fifth album by Californian Vocal Group THE OLYMPICS on Mirwood Records went largely unnoticed in the winter of 1966 despite being a killer mixture of Soul Dancers and Motownesque interpretations of their own Vocal Group/R&B Oldies. Their debut 45 "Western Movies" in August 1958 on Demon 1508 (a No. 8 Pop smash) and the June 1963 minor charting of "The Bounce" at No. 40 (Tri Disc 106) along with four whole albums (three on Arvee Records and one on Tri Disc Records) was long since past. But perhaps that 'Vocal Group' tag simply wouldn't shake off and explains why such a good Soul album saw so little chart action despite Mirwood releasing six singles across 1966 and 1967 to support the LP.

It has of course garnished the interest of collectors subsequently when they hear its superb string of club killers. The fabulous dancer "Baby, Do The Philly Dog" released October 1966 on Mirwood 5523 has subsequently become something of a Northern Soul monster - and Jon Savage included "Secret Agents" from the album on his October 2015 double-CD thesis "1966: The Year The Decade Exploded" – another cool talcum powder shaker. The three guys on the cover are WALTER WARD, EDDIE LEWIS and MACK STARR. Original band member Charles Fizer had been killed during a race riot in August 1965 aged only 25. "Something Old, Something New" does what it says on the tin – it’s a mixture of old hits like "Hully Gully" and "The Bounce" re-recorded for the 1966 marketplace. The whole damn thing is good too - and I'm not the only one to think so (apart from Ace). KGFJ Radio Disc Jockey JIM RANDOLPH wants the 'happening listener' to 'groove on' in his excitable liner notes on the rear cover – and frankly who are we to go dim on Jim. Here are the Western Movies baby...

UK and Europe released December 2006 - "Something Old, Something New" by THE OLYMPICS on Ace/Kent CDHP 018 (Barcode 029667025126) is a straightforward reissue of their 1966 LP onto CD. This Remaster is part of Ace Records 'Hip Pocket Series' of CD Reissues (see list below) and plays outs as follows (28:13 minutes)

1. Western Movies
2. Hully Gully
3. Big Boy Pete
4. Shimmy Like Kate
5. Dance By The Light Of The Moon
6. The Bounce
7. Mine Exclusively [Side 2]
8. Baby, Do The Philly Dog
9. The Duck
10. Secret Agents
11. We Go Together, Pretty Baby
12. I'll Do A Little Bit More
Tracks 1 to 12 are their fifth album "Something Old, Something New" - released December 1966 in the USA on Mirwood MW 7003 (Mono) and Mirwood MWS-7003 (Stereo) – the STEREO mix is used for the CD.

The 5" card sleeve repros the original and rare American Mirwood Records LP with some basic (boxed) reissue notes on the rear sleeve. There's also an inner sleeve (unusual for these 'Hip Pocket' reissues which shows the Stereo Label of Mirwood MWS 7003). It looks and feels nice. NICK ROBBINS – a long time Audio Engineer associated with Ace, Edsel and Esoteric - did the remastering. Ace always use the real tapes and the Audio here is fabulous – full of that Sixties atmosphere – the instruments and production kept so sweet. The CD label lists tracks and writer credits and it's mid-price - so available for less than six quid in most places.

The whole 'Hip Pocket' series is designed to ape those 4" multi-track mini records (played at 33 1/3) put out in the USA between 1967 and 1969 as a way for fans to get the music in a 'handy and portable' way (they issued about 60 titles). As you can see from the list below – most of these albums are either obscurities - or overlooked classics Ace feel you should pay attention to. Genres stretch from 50ts Jazz (Chuck Higgins) to Blues Piano and Vocals (Roosevelt Sykes and Hadda Brooks) to 70ts Metal (Motorhead) to Punk (Radio Stars) and 60ts Garage & Psych (Sonics and Zombies) and beyond...

They give it the gunshot beginning too on the remake of 1958's "Western Movies" - a cool mid-tempo beginning (not quite as good as the original some might say but close). We get almost New Orleans R&B with "(Baby Hully Gully)" - another well-recorded driving remake that feels very 'now'. Someone sings a deep 'yeah' throughout the catchy "Big Boy Pete" while "Shimmy Like Kate" feels like 'Voo it, Voo it' R&B shimmy-shaker. The upbeat and be-stringed "Dance By The Light Of The Moon" is a first slip-up - a cheesy version with a vocal you can barely make out. Better is the Ray Charles pumping piano of "The Bounce" - a great dancer that Mirwood put out as an A-side (Mirwood 5525) with "The Duck" on the flip-side. Amazing it didn't chart.

If you jump immediately to Side 2 and play "Mine Exclusively", "Baby, Do The Philly Dog" and "The Duck" in a row - you'd think you'd stumbled on a great Soulful Motown album - handclaps - driving drums - girly backing vocals complimenting that guttural lead vocal. "Secret Agents" name-checks some of the day's obsessions - spies, agents, the FBI and Walter Cronkite - and is another Motownesque driver (it was the B-side to "Mine Exclusively" on Mirwood 5513). You'd swear H-D-H was conducting Marvin Gaye for "Baby Don't You Do It" as you listen to the relentless dance groove of the fab "We Go Together (Pretty Baby)". Mirwood thought it such a winner that they used it for the first 45 from the LP (Mirwood 5504) with the superb "Secret Agents" on the flip - what a winner - but again no chart action. It ends on another dancefloor pacer - "I'll Do A Little Bit More" - a tune where the singer worries about a 'muscle bound man holding your hand in the back seat of a car' so he's going to have to up his game and do a little bit more...

A fabulous little Soul/Dancer album then and a very cool CD reissue.
"...Gotta have it! Got to have your love!" - The Olympics declare on "I'll Do A Little Bit More". Got to have it - I agree...

Titles in Ace Records Mid-Price 'Hip Pocket' CD Series are:

1. DONALD AUSTIN – Crazy Legs (Ace/Westbound CDHP 016, Dec 2006)
2. THE BISHOPS – Cross Cuts (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 256, June 2005)
3. HADDA BROOKS – Femme Fatale (Ace CDCHM 1129, Nov 2006)
4. THE CHAMPS – Go, Champs, Go! (Ace CDCHM 1126, Sep 2006)
5. THE DAMNED – Machine Gun Etiquette (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 027, July 2007)
6. THE ESCALATORS [ex Meteors] – Moving Staircases (Ace CDHP 017, Dec 2006)
7. THE EVERLY BROTHERS – The Everly Brothers (Ace CDCHM 1127, Sep 2006)
8. FUNKADELIC – Maggot Brain (Ace/Westbound CDHP 030, Aug 2007)
9. CHUCK HIGGINS – Pachucko Hop (Ace CDHP 024, April 2007)
10. B. B. KING – The Jungle (Ace/Kent CDHP 031, Nov 2007)
11. JOHNNY MOPED – Cycledelic (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 029, Oct 2007)
12. JACKIE LEE – The Duck (Ace/Kent CDHP 032, Dec 2010)
13. LONNIE MACK – The Wham Of That Memphis Man! (Ace CDCHM 1134, Nov 2006)
14. MOTORHEAD – Motorhead [1977 Debut LP] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 021, Oct 2007)
15. THE OLYMPICS – Something Old, Something New (Ace/Kent CDHP 018, Dec 2006)
16. THE RADIO STARS – Songs For Swinging Lovers (Ace/Chiswick CDWIKM 5, June 2006)
17. THE SONICS – Here Are The Sonics! (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 022, Feb 2007)
18. THE SONICS – The Sonics Boom (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 023, April 2007)
19. ROOSEVELT SYKES [aka 'The Honeydripper'] – Sings The Blues (Ace CDCHM 1132, Nov 2006)
20. VARIOUS – For Dancers Only [Kent's 1st Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 019, Feb 2007)
21. VARIOUS – For Dancers Also [Kent's 2nd Reissue LP compilation] (Ace/Kent CDHP 020, April 2007)
22. VARIOUS – Hollywood Rock 'n' Roll [80ts Rockabilly compilation] (Ace CDHP 026, July 2007)
23. VARIOUS – Fool's Gold [70ts Punk compilation] (Ace/Chiswick CDHP 028, August 2007)
24. LINK WRAY – Early Recordings (Ace/Chiswick CDCHM 6, June 2006
25. THE ZOMBIES – Odyssey And Oracle (Ace/Big Beat CDHP 025, June 2007)




SOUL, FUNK and JAZZ FUSION - Exceptional CD Remasters

GROOVIEST SOUNDS AROUND! 1960s MUSIC ON CD (All-Genres) - April 2019 Update

PROG ROCK, PSYCH, AVANT GARDE - Exceptional CD Remasters...


I GOT THE NEWS - 1975 to 1979 Exceptional CD Remasters


MY BROKEN HEART (75 Days In The NHS) - Poem of Poems

1969 - WHOLE LOTTA LOVE - Your All-Genres Guide To Exceptional CD Remasters and Reissues...



TUMBLING DICE - 1972 - Exceptional CD Remasters

ELOQUENT PROFANITY - 1973 - Exceptional CD Remasters







INDEX - Entries and Artist Posts in Alphabetical Order