Thursday, 1 February 2018

"Sing Lesley Sing: The RCA and CBS Recordings 1968-1972" by LESLEY DUNCAN (July 2017 RPM Records 2CD Anthology - Michael Taylor and Simon Murphy Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...




 


This Review Along With 300+ Others Is Available In My
SOUNDS GOOD E-Book on all Amazon sites
1960s and 1970s MUSIC ON CD - Volume 2 of 3 - Exceptional CD Remasters
As well as 1960s and 1970s Rock and Pop - It Also Focuses On
Folk, Folk Rock, Country Rock, Reggae, Punk and New Wave
Just Click Below To Purchase for £3.95
Thousands of E-Pages - All Details and In-Depth Reviews From Discs
(No Cut and Paste Crap)


"...Don't Forget Love..."

RPM Records have been servicing collector's needs in the digital domain for yonks and once again they've come up trumps on an artist that deserves recognition and whose catalogue has either been ignored by the majors or is deleted and clocking up extortion prices on auction sites - Durham's sweet-voiced LESLEY DUNCAN.

What you get here are her highly-revered 1971 and 1972 platters "Sing Children Sing" and "Earth Mother" and six rare 7" single sides she cut for RCA and CBS between 1968 and 1969. Let's get to the intricate details...

UK released Friday, 21 July 2017 - "Sing Lesley Sing: The RCA and CBS Recordings 1968-1972" by LESLEY DUNCAN on RPM Records RETRO D991 (Barcode 5013929599918) is a 2CD anthology that plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (62:04 minutes):
1. Chain Of Love [Side 1]
2. Lullaby
3. Help Me Jesus
4. Mr. Rubin
5. Rainbow Games
6. Love Song [Side 2]
7. Sunshine (Send Them Away)
8. Crying In The Sun
9. Emma
10. If You Won't Be Mine
11. Sing Children Sing
Tracks 1 to 11 are her debut album "Sing Children Sing" - released June 1971 in the UK on CBS Records S 64202 and November 1971 in the USA on Columbia Records C 30663. Produced by JIMMY HOROWITZ - all songs by Lesley Duncan except "Chain Of Love", "Sunshine (Send Them Away)", "Crying In The Sun" and "Emma" which were co-written with Jimmy Horowitz. Horowitz also plays Organ, Celesta and Piano. GUESTS include Elton John on Piano with Ray Cooper of Elton's band on Tambourine - Tristan Fry of Sky on Percussion - Chris Spedding and Joe Moretti on Guitars - Toni Compo on Bass - Terry Cox of Pentangle on Drums.

BONUS TRACKS:
12. Lullaby (Single Version)
13. I Love You, I Love You
Tracks 12 and 13 are the A&B-sides of a 27 September 1968 UK 7" single on RCA Victor RCA 1746 - both songs LD compositions and non-album

14. A Road To Nowhere
15. Love Song (1969 Version)
Tracks 14 and 15 are the A&B-sides of a 24 January 1969 UK 7" single on RCA Records RCA 1783.
Both sides are non-album. The A-side is a Carole King/Gerry Goffin song and is a cover of a Carole King US single on Tomorrow Records 7502 from March 1966. The B-side "Love Song" (1969 Version) is her own composition and was re-sung and re-recorded for the 1971 "Sing Children Sing" album. It was the 1969 version that Elton John heard and covered on his 1970 album "Tumbleweed Connection" which actually featured Lesley guesting on piano. Elton repaid the compliment by guesting on piano on her 1971 version and LP.

16. Sing Children Sing (Single Version)
17. Exactly Who Are You
Tracks 16 and 17 are the A&B-sides of a 16 October 1969 UK 7" single on CBS Records 4585 - both sides are non-album and the song "Sing Children Sing" differs to the 1971 album version

Disc 2 (42:59 minutes):
1. Times [Side 1]
2. Queen To Your King
3. Love Will Never Lose You
4. Thunder
5. God Is Real (In My Soul)
6. Fortieth Floor
7. Old Friends [Side 2]
8. Sorry Living
9. If It's All The Same To You
10. Earth Mother
11. By And Bye
Tracks 1 to 11 are her second studio album "Earth Mother" - released September 1972 in the UK on CBS Records S 64807 (no US release). Produced and Arranged by JERRY HOROWITZ - he also played Organ, Piano and Flute. GUESTS included Chris Spedding on Guitar - Alan Bown of The Herd, Judas Jump and Status Quo on Guitar and Bass with Barry De Sousa on Drums. All songs by LD except "Old Friends", "Earth Mother" and "By And Bye" co-written with Jerry Horowitz. "God Is Real (In My Soul)" is a Traditional cover version arranged by Jerry Horowitz - while "If It’s All The Same To You" is an Alan Bown song. Bown released his own version on his debut solo LP "Gone To My Head" on Mercury Records in 1972.

The 12-page booklet has a lovely array of colour photos - the two album covers - rare European 7" single picture sleeves for "Love Song", "Sing Children Sing" and "Earth Mother" - a demo for one of RCA 45s and all of it rounded off with superb new liner notes from KIERON TYLER. Good names like ANDY DAVIS and JOHN REED were involved in the compiling/research and a duo-team carried out the excellent Transfers and Remasters - MICHAEL TAYLOR and SIMON MURPHY. The Audio is ace and I'm certain that LD worshipers who love the sheer prettiness of say "Love Song" will chew it up.

The six 'Pop' singles are interesting but you can see that they're too far removed from her singer-songwriter style and soul to make any real impact. And how odd is it to see the initial 1969 version of the gorgeous "Love Song" relegated to a B-side. The initial version was good (enough to famously catch Elton John's eyes and ears) - but the remake is sensational - surely as good as anything on Carole King's 1971 masterpiece "Tapestry" (one of Lesley's heroes). But I suspect fans will make a beeline to the albums on this twofer.

"Chains Of Love" is a melodic opener setting the tone for the whole debut album - songs, songs and more songs. While I can live without the Holy Roller of "Help Me Jesus" - the rolling Nilsson "I Guess That's Why God Loves New York City" feel to "Lullaby" is captivating as she sings "...I watch you dance and play...a little prince of all you survey..." Even better is "Mr. Rubin" - a slow Gospel organ plea for public figures to 'don't forget love' - their 'them or us' attitudes make her feel genuinely ashamed. I think it's one of the album's greats - along with the beautiful "Love Song". The Remaster allows the Acoustic Guitars of "Rainbow Games" and "Love Song" shine like wee diamonds. So by the time you reach the re-recorded title track "Sing Children Sing" - the positive 'don't give in' message feels precious and her loss to us in 2010 crushingly sad.

Already so much more sophisticated than the debut - 1972's "Earth Mother" reunites her with Arranger, Producer and Co-Writer Jerry Horowitz. I think it’s a bit of a forgotten nugget. You can hear the maturing songwriting in the opener "Times" - a Faces type organ softly under-pining the melody in the background. "Queen To Your King" is very Carole King and is perhaps over-orchestrated for its own good. "Love Will Never Lose You" slinks in a waft of echoed keyboard notes before a squeaking Acoustic takes it up a notch - it's very "Loving and Free" Kiki Dee – sweetly swaying as she sings "...to hold on to love...you've got to let it go..." Lyrically and musically "Thunder" is another album highlight - sincerely believing that Nature will 'get us back to where we're going'. The Traditional Gospel song "God Is Real (In My Soul)" is more closely associated with Mahalia Jackson - yet here Lesley gives it just as good with a churchy organ and slow piano in tandem - a beautiful tune steeped in her obvious and genuine belief. "Fortieth Floor" is confessional and accusing at one and the same time - our hero watching to stem those enemies within. "Old Friends" is a superb melody featuring Chris Spedding making his guitar work sing and feel soulful like the song. The other tune I turn to is Alan Bown's "If It's All The Same To You". The ex Herd, Judas Jump and soon to become member of Status Quo Bassist and Guitarist - put out the song on his debut solo LP "Gone To My Head" in 1972 on Mercury Records (not that many noticed). As the Acoustic Guitar strings rattle on this clever cover version – once again the Remaster is gorgeous - as it is on the Pink Floyd sounding environmental-plea title track "Earth Mother" and the brilliant Beach Boys Acapella finisher "By And Bye" – a perfect end to a hugely accomplished album.

Duncan was 28 when her debut LP "Sing Children Sing" hit the shops in 1971 - and notoriously gig-shy neither it nor the even better 1972 follow-up "Earth Mother" did much business outside of small circles. But across the following years and decades both gathered warmth and affection from a growing band of passionate fans – people who played those British Orange CBS labels on their turntables like both LPs were secret infusions of joy they’d greedily kept to themselves. 

Lesley Duncan passed in 2010. Well done to RPM for honouring her memory with this cracking twofer...

No comments:

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc