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Wednesday, 9 June 2021

"ERA 1: 1978-1984 – As, Bs, Rarities" by CHRIS REA (November 2020 UK Magnet Records/Warner Music Group 3CD 51-Track Digipak Compilation with Alex Tomlin and Nick Watson Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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"...Love's Strange Ways... "

Back in the savage and wild blue yonder of August 2007, I reviewed what was then the only half-decent Chris Rea compilation of Remasters worth having - "The Works" on Rhino – a UK-issued 3CD retrospective of 54-Tracks stretching from his 1979 LP "Deltics" through to the "King Of The Beach" set in 2000. It had half decent audio and was part of a series Rhino did for artists like The Corrs, Bread, Everything But The Girl, The Pogues, The Monkees and others. But it had woefully basic annotation, got deleted quickly and for years accrued a rather nasty price tag. Since then – zip really. Until now...


At last - and following on from the five Chris Rea double-CD sets of the 'Expanded And Remastered Series' issued October 2019 (Shamrock Diaries, On The Beach, Dancing With Strangers, The Road To Hell and Auberge) – we finally get the mop up we loony CR fans have been craving – equal only to the same longing that people have for wanting to remake Season 8 of "Game Of Thrones" (perhaps worse).

Compiled by TIM CHACKSFIELD - you get 51-Tracks spread across 3CDs housed inside a chunky digipak - and best of all, we finally get properly upgraded Remastered Audio from NICK WATSON at Fluid Mastering – a very experienced Audio Engineer whose name has turned up on many a praised-reissue. ERA 1 sounds and looks great. So much to discuss, so with swords and hankies at the ready, time to detail this first of his ERA retrospectives...

UK released 20 Nov 2020 (delayed from 6 Nov 2020) - "ERA 1: 1978-1984 – As, Bs, Rarities" by CHRIS REA on Magnet Records/Warner Music Group 0190295306052 (Barcode same) offers 51 Remastered Tracks across 3CDs in a Card Digipak that plays out as follows:

CD1 (64:13 minutes): 
1. Fool (If You Think It's Over) - 17 March 1978 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 111, A-side
2. Midnight Love - 17 March 1978 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 111, Non-Album B-side 
3. Voy A Volverme Loco (Fool If You Think It's Over, Spanish Language Version) - 1978 Spanish 45 on Magnet MO 1972
4. Whatever Happened To Benny Santini? - 16 June 1978 UK 45-single Magnet MAG 121, A-side 
5. Three Angels - 16 June 1978 UK 45-single Magnet MAG 121, Non-Album B-side 
6. Diamonds (Single Edit, 3:49 minutes) - 23 March 1979 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 144, A-side 
7. Cleveland Calling - 23 March 1979 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 144, Non-Album B-side
8. Raincoat And A Rose - 29 June 1979 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 151, A-side 
9. No Qualifications - 29 June 1979 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 151, B-side
10. Tennis (Edited and Remixed Version from the February 1980 UK LP "Tennis" on Magnet MAGL 5032) - also 7 March 1980 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 163, A-side
11. If You Really Love Me - 7 March 1980 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 163, Non-Album B-side
12. Dancing Girls - from the February 1980 UK LP "Tennis" on Magnet MAGL 5032 and 23 May 1980 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 176, A-side 
13. Friends Across The Water - from the February 1980 UK LP "Tennis" on Magnet MAGL 5032 and 23 May 1980 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 176, B-side
14. Ya No Te Veo Nunca Mas (Since I Don't See You Anymore. Spanish Language Version) - 1980 Spanish 45-single on Magnet MO 2054, A-side 
15. Loving You - from the March 1982 UK LP "Chris Rea" on Magnet MAGL 5040 and 5 February 1982 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 215, A-side
16. Let Me Be The One  - 5 February 1982 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 215, Non-Album B-side 
17. Diamonds (12" Version, 4:53 minutes) - 23 March 1979 UK 12" Single on Magnet 12 MAG 144, A-side, Non-Album Version 

CD2 (75:22 minutes):
1. Do You Still Dream?
2. Loving You - Tracks 1 and 2 first appeared on the March 1982 UK LP "Chris Rea" on Magnet MAGL 5040, re-recorded for the October 2019 LP and CD compilation "One Fine Day" on Magnet 0190295498856-CD - 1000 only copies
3. One Fine Day - 1981 recording first issued January 1993 as one of the four tracks on the UK CD Single for "Soft Top, Hard Shoulder" on East West YZ710CDX
4. One Sweet And Tender Touch - 1981 recording first issued January 1988 as one of the four tracks on the UK CD Single for "Que Sera" on Magnet CDMAG 318 
5. If I Ever Break Free - Previously Unreleased 1981 song that first appeared on the "One Fine Day" compilation in October 2019 (see 1)
6. Sierra Sierra (4:13 minutes) - originally issued as the Non-Album B-side to the February 1983 UK 12" single for "Let It Loose" on Magnet 12 MAG 233 - first issued on the October 2019 "One Fine Day" compilation 
7. Members Only - Previously Unreleased 1981 song that first appeared on the "One Fine Day" compilation in October 2019 (see 1)
8. Let Me Be The One - originally issued as the Non-Album B-side to the February 1982 UK 12" single for "Loving You" on Magnet 12 MAG 215 - first issued on the October 2019 "One Fine Day" compilation
9. One Night With You - Previously Unreleased 1981 song that first appeared on the "One Fine Day" compilation in October 2019 (see 1)
10. Every Beat Of Your Heart - first appeared on the March 1982 UK LP "Chris Rea" on Magnet MAGL 5040 - also 7 May 1982 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 225, A-side
11. Don't Look Back - 7 May 1982 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 225, Non-Album B-side
12. Let It Loose (3:37 minutes) - from the Motion Picture "Cross Country" and the June 1983 UK LP "Water Sign" on Magnet MAGL 5048 - also February 1983 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 233, A-side
13. Urban Samurai - February 1983 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 233, Non-Album B-side 
14. Let It Loose (Special Extended Remix, 5:45 minutes) - February 1983 UK 12" Single on Magnet 12 MAG 233, A-side
15. Sierra Sierra (5:38 minutes) - February 1983 UK 12" Single on Magnet 12 MAG 233, Non-Album Longer Version B-side - see also Track 6
16. I Can Hear Your Heartbeat (3:28 minutes) - from the June 1983 UK LP "Water Sign" on Magnet MAGL 5048 - also April 1983 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 244, A-side
17. From Love To Love - April 1983 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 244, Non-Album B-side 
18. I Can Hear Your Heartbeat (Special Extended Mix, 5:46 minutes) - April 1983 UK 12" Single on Magnet 12 MAG 244, A-side

CD3 (73:52 minutes):
1. Love's Strange Ways - from the June 1983 UK LP "Water Sign" on Magnet MAGL 5048 - also July 1983 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 245, A-side
2. Smile - July 1983 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 245, Non-Album B-side 
3. I Don't Know What It Is But I Love It (3:40 minutes) - from the April 1984 UK LP "Wired To The Moon" on Magnet MAGL 5057 - also February 1984 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 255, A-side 
4. Mystery Man - February 1984 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 255, Non-Album B-side 
5. I Don't Know What It Is But I Love It (12" Extended Version, 5:25 minutes) - February 1984 UK 12" Single on Magnet 12 MAG 255, A-side 
6. Bambollini (6:10 minutes) - from the April 1984 UK LP "Wired To The Moon" on Magnet MAGL 5057 - also May 1984 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 259, A-side 
7. True Love - May 1984 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 259, Non-Album B-side
8. Touché D'Amour (Special Remix, 3:20 minutes) - July 1984 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 269, A-side (original version on the "Wired To The Moon" LP) - see also Track 13 for B-side
9. Ace Of Hearts (Special Remix, 3:49 minutes) - September 1984 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 269, A-side 
10. Excerpts from 'I Can Hear Your Heartbeat' recorded live at Montreaux Jazz Festival (7:00 minutes) - September 1984 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 269, Non-Album B-side 
11. Auf Immer Und Ewig (4:41 minutes) - unissued 1984 UK white label A-side to Magnet MAG 269
12. Bitter Sweet (1:08 minutes) - unissued 1984 UK white label B-side to Magnet MAG 269X
13. Touché D'Amour (Instrumental, 3:40 minutes) - July 1984 UK 45-single on Magnet MAG 269, Non-Album B-side (original version on the "Wired To The Moon" LP) - see also Track 8 for A-side
14. Touché D'Amour (Special Extended Remix, 6:07 minutes) - July 1984 UK 12" Single on Magnet MAGT 269, A-side (original version on the "Wired To The Moon" LP) - see also Track 8 for the A-side and 13 for another B-side
15. Ace Of Hearts (Special Remix, 6:32 minutes) - September 1984 UK 12" Single on Magnet MAG 269T, A-side  
16. Let It Loose/I Can Hear Your Heartbeat/I Don't Know What It Is But I Love It (Special Edition 12" Medley, 7:25 minutes) - July 1984 UK 12" Single on Magnet MAGT 260M

The 24-page booklet inside the three-way foldout digipak is a pleasingly pictorial affair – every 45, twelve-inch and CD single pictured along the track details. A nice touch is that three of the digipak flaps also feature colour shots of those forgotten picture sleeves while each CD sports well-packed playing times. In October 2019 Magnet UK issued the "One Fine Day" compilation both on LP and CD with each format offering 14 Tracks. A limited edition of only 1,000 copies - "One Fine Day" featured rare vinyl-only Non-LP B-sides, previously unreleased songs (most from 1981) and re-recordings of old ones. Seven of its period-relevant cuts from 1978-1984 are reissued here and fans will also welcome that big time. 

Although there is no context-text to accompany the 51 track-by-track credits and photos (shame that) and that May 1974 UK debut 45 of "So Much in Love" b/w "Born to Lose" on Magnet MAG 10 is AWOL at the maker's insistence – what you do get is a huge hoard of first-time-on-CD rarities – especially all those melodic B-sides.

The joy of a set like this is the tunes you'd forgotten. I can't be the only Rea fan who doesn't think that the "Water Sign" and "Wired To The Moon" albums were wee 80ts masterpieces - so how good is it to hear "Love's Strange Ways", "Let It Loose" and "Bambollini" sound so spiffy. "Ace Of Hearts" too is a typically gorgeous and hooky Rea melody and those "Smile" and "Mystery Man" non-LP B-sides could easily have been on someone else's lesser album.  And I suppose those 1988 re-recordings of "Fool (If You Think It's Over)" and "I Can Hear Your Heartbeat" he did for the "New Light Through Old Windows" compilation will turn up on ERA 2 - a nice thought. 

I'm Irish (from Dublin originally) and along with David Gray, Josh Ritter and The Blue Nile (to name but a few songsmiths) - Chris Rea has always been huge there. A man with a tune and a melody that's gonna get to you. Look no further for evidence. A top reissue compilation for 2020 without doubt...

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