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...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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