Monday, 27 February 2017

"Rock And Roll Music! The Songs Of Chuck Berry" by VARIOUS ARTISTS (2017 Ace Records CD Compilation - Nick Robbins Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...Brown Eyed Handsome Man..."

As I play through this cleverly compiled Ace CD compilation - I'm struck by the mastery of Chuck Berry. A fairly obvious observation you might say – but I'm talking about sideways appreciation. I've friends who have wide-ranging and eclectic tastes yet some of them cannot abide artists like say Bob Dylan or Tom Waits (I'd personally bathe their feet and offer my greying hair as a towel). Yet on hearing Bob or Tom's songs interpreted by someone else that has spotted the beauty in their melodies and words and brought those inherent things out in a new way – even those naysayers will nod in gracious acceptance of the obvious. Yep - the guy's a friggin' genius mate.

Chuck Berry is the same. Sometimes you have to have the distance of someone else's version to hear just how good the original is - and in particular - this is never truer of Chuck's fantastically evocative lyrics. The hopes – the racing pulses – the dreams – the excitement – he nails them all. And those danceable rhythms! There are reasons why so many bands - especially bar-bands and boogie merchants - choose Chuck Berry as a launch point. His songs are just such great fun - full of life - youth – in tune observations - those incredible hooky choruses – and of course the room for an budding interpreter to go off on a guitar-solo tangent or a harmonica wail. It's like his Chess stuff is the very template of all that's properly great teenage Rock 'n' Roll – the place to start playing - a first love you never forget.

This 2017 Ace Records CD brings that aural pleasure home. And while I don't agree with a few of the choices here (some out and out clunkers in my book, hence the four-star review) - "Rock And Roll Music! The Songs Of Chuck Berry" is a joyous little listen and a digital compilation I know I'm going to return to again and again - a shuffler in the car of life if ever there was one. Here are the Brown Eyed Handsome Men and their Beautiful Delilahs...

UK released 24 February 2017 (10 March 2017 in the USA) - "Rock And Roll Music! The Songs Of Chuck Berry" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace CDCHD 1491 (Barcode 029667078429) is a 24-Track CD compilation of Remasters that plays out as follows (66:13 minutes):

1. Roll Over Beethoven - HELENE DIXON (1956 USA 7" single on Vik Records 45-0212, A-side)
2. Around And Around - THE SWINGING BLUES JEANS (from the November 1964 UK LP "Blue Jeans A' Swingin'" on HMV Records CLP 1802)
3. Down Bound Train - KEN COLYER'S SKIFFLE GROUP (1956 UK 7" single on Decca Jazz 45-F-J 10751, A-side)
4. Maybelline - MARTY ROBBINS (1955 USA 7" single on Columbia 4-21446, A-side)
5. Come On - IAN GOMM (March 1978 UK 7" single on Albion Records ION 1, A-side)
6. Memphis - DON COVAY (from the August 1973 UK LP "Super Dude 1" on Mercury 6338 211 - also UK 7" single on Mercury 6052 258, A-side)
7. Oh Baby Doll - THE PRETTY THINGS (from the 1966 UK LP "The Pretty Things" on Fontana TL 5239)
8. Nadine - THE BUNCH [feat members of Fairport Convention and Fotheringay with Ashley Hutchings on Lead Vocals] (from the 1972 album "Rock On" on Island ILPS 9189)
9.  Little Queenie - JERRY LEE LEWIS (1956 USA 7" single on Sun 330, A-side)
10. I'm Talking About You - (BARRY &) THE REMAINS (1965 USA 7" single on Epic 9777, A-side)
11. Brown Eyed Handsome Man - BUDDY HOLLY (1963 USA 7" single Coral 62369, A-side)
12. Johnny B. Goode - JAY and THE AMERICANS (from the 1970 US LP "Wax Museum" on United Artists UAS 6719)
13. Sweet Little Sixteen - THE HOLLIES (from the 1966 UK STEREO LP "Would You Believe?" on Parlophone PCS 7008)
14. Too Much Monkey Business - ELVIS PRESLEY (from the 1968 US LP "Singer Presents Elvis Singing "Flaming Star" And Others" on RCA Victor PRS-279)
15. Almost Grown - SYNDICATE OF SOUND (from the 1966 US Mono LP "Little Girl" on Bell Records 6001)
16. No Money Down - JOHN HAMMOND (from the 1964 US STEREO LP "Big City Blues" on Vanguard VSD 79153)
17. Beautiful Delilah - THE COUNT BISHOPS (from the 1975 "Speedball" EP on Chiswick Records SW 1)
18. Havana Moon - SANTANA featuring Booker T. Jones on Lead Vocals (from the 1983 UK LP "Havana Moon" on CBS Records 25350)
19. Back In The USA - MC5 (from the 1970 US LP "Back In The USA" on Atlantic SD 8247)
20. You Can't Catch Me - SLEEPY LaBEEF (1965 USA 7" single on Columbia 4-43452, A-side)
21. Rock And Roll Music - THE BEACH BOYS (1976 USA 7" single on Brother 1354, A)
22. You Never Can Tell - JOHN PRINE (from the 1975 US LP "Common Sense" on Atlantic SD 18127)
23. Run Rudolph Run - DWIGHT YOAKAM (from the 1997 CD "Come On Christmas" on Reprise 9 466 83-2)
24. The Promised Land - DAVE EDMUNDS (from the 1972 LP "Rockpile" on Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1026 - recorded in 1968)
Tracks 1 to 4, 7, 9, 11 and 13 are in MONO - all others STEREO

The 16-page booklet is the usual Ace Records fan-pleasing wet-dream - pictures of the rare tri-centre of Ken Colyer's Skiffle Group 45 - the Jerry Lee Lewis Sun 45 - the 60ts-cool John Hammond LP sleeve for "Big City Blues" - the Ian Gomm and Count Bishops pictures sleeves and the sheet music to Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis. With two pages of pre-amble - thereafter the expert TONY ROUNCE liner notes fill in the info gaps for every entry. And the NICK ROBBINS Remasters are stunning - his expertise just gets better and better.

But I'd question some of the choices. I don't know if I need another Buddy Holly version of "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" and the dreadful cod-reggae version of "Memphis" by Don Covay is best forgotten as fast as is humanly possible while the derisory Santana/Booker T cover of "Havana Moon" may have been a hit but it sucks. Steve Gibbons and his electrifying version of "Tulane" should replace the weedy Beach Boys version of "Rock And Roll Music" and maybe Linda Ronstadt's kicking stab at "Back In The USA" instead of the MC5. And where is "No Particular Place To Go" by anybody? But these are personal choices...

Mickey Baker provides the guitar work in the rockin' opener - Helene Dixon's gravel-voiced take on "Roll Over Beethoven". Her delivery is exciting enough and went virtually head-to-head with Chuck's Chess Records original (issued only a couple of weeks apart) - but her pop cover of his R&B belter was no match. The Swinging Blue Jeans take the B-side of "Johnny B. Goode" and make a good fist of "Around And Around" for their debut British album. But things start to get really interesting in the other-worldly Skiffle shuffle of "Down Bound Train" by Ken Colyer - a genius choice. Other cool period songs include a superb version of "Maybelline" by Marty Robbins and a neck-jerking chug through "You Can't Catch Me" by Rockabilly hero Sleepy LaBeef. New Wave new-kids-on-the-block Ian Gomm and The Count Bishops can hold their heads high - Gomm sounding not unlike the smug child of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe on his natty version of "Come On" - while The Count Bishops blast out a suitably manic British Pub Rock take of "Beautiful Delilah" - a highlight from their Chiswick Records debut EP "Speedball".

"Run Rudolph Run" by Dwight Yoakam and "Sweet Little Sixteen" by The Hollies feel functionary at best - while John Prine does a fun piano-rolling take of "You Never Can Tell" (vocally he's not dissimilar to Chuck). But they're trumped by a genuinely exciting Syndicate Of Sound take on the brilliant "Almost Grown" - while John Hammond's seriously cool "No Money Down" may indeed be worth the price of admission alone. Music historian and genre lover Tony Rounce is right to highlight the contribution of guitarist Jerry Reid in Presley's superb version of "Too Much Monkey Business" - a throwaway song tucked away on a RCA Victor album sponsored by Singer Sowing Machines (I kid you not). 60ts acts The Pretty Things do right by "Oh Baby Doll" even if the recording is a very Kinks lo-fi - while Barry Tashlan and The Remains flick-guitar "I'm Talking About You" with real gusto (shimmy shimmy shake babe). A nice surprise is the Fairport Convention/Fotheringay pretend band 'The Bunch' who gleefully talk-and-chorus their way through "Nadine" with Ashley Hutchings hamming up the lead vocals like Bobby Boris and The Crypt-Kickers on "Monster Mash" as the English folk-girls go 'is that you' in the background.

As I said it's not all genius - but much of "Rock And Roll Music! The Songs Of Chuck Berry" is also so damn entertaining too (I suppose you could say - how can homages to his great American songs be anything else).

"...There she is again standing over by the record machine...looking like a model in a magazine..." - Jerry Lee Lewis sings in his fab treatment of "Little Queenie" - giving it some personalised JLL Boogie over there at Sun Records. "...If it's good...I'll admit it..." - the Ferriday Fireball adds later. Amen to that brother...

Friday, 24 February 2017

"The Albums" by BLACKFOOT SUE (2017 7T's/Cherry Red 3CD Mini Box Set of Remasters including "Standing In The Road" and "Nothing To Hide") - A Review by Mark Barry...







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"...Standing In The Road..."

'7t's' is a Cherry Red label and they've been steadily feeding the needs of Seventies Rock, Pop and Glam Rock fans for some time now. Their releases are always well annotated and the Remasters ace - making available again music that many still want but can't find anywhere else.

Birmingham's BLACKFOOT SUE is such a band. Their stop-start muddled career is centred about the monster single "Standing In The Road" which peaked at a deserving No. 4 in a 10-week run during the Pan's People summer of 1972 – and a lone album that arrived as an almost afterthought in the spring of 1973. Most of us who were young then remember with affection the fantastic "Standing In The Road" - its John Kongos/Nazareth stomping Rock vibe as well as that distinctive Jam Records logo and label bag. The debut album "Nothing To Hide" arrived 20 April 1973 - way too late to sustain any momentum the two preceding singles had built up. And worse - the album didn't feature either 45 "Standing In The Road" or "Sing Don't Speak" because of the band's deliberate policy of having the two separate (the "Sing Don't Speak" follow-up single had peaked at No. 36 in December 1972 – their final chart entry). The second album "Strangers" was recorded in 1974 but shelved - eventually turning up on Import Records in the USA in 1977 (not that anyone noticed). And the final platter "Gun Running" made it to a DJM catalogue number but naught else - it too shelved as the band disintegrated.

This beautifully presented and superb-sounding 3CD Mini Box Set from 7T’s aims to bring the lot together - and does so in style. That's the good news - unfortunately it's very easy to hear why albums number 2 and 3 were shelved and why all those non-album track singles were failing - they just weren't that good as their style of music veered from this to that without recapturing the magic of those initial issues. Stylistically the officially-released "Nothing To Hide" LP is a hard-to-nail-down hybrid – Rock one moment – vocal harmonies the next. Chart Pop ends Side 1 only to have monster Atomic Rooster Guitar riffage open Side 2. It's a sort of Hollies meets Budgie meets T.Rex meets The Moody Blues mash-up of genres and voices. But the good stuff is great and along with the better cuts on those rare B-sides is worth the purchase. I just wish the rest lived up to that initial flourish. Here are the in-depth details...

UK released 27 January 2017 (3 February 2017 in the USA)  - "The Albums" by BLACKFOOT SUE on 7T's/Cherry Red GLAMBOX163 (Barcode 5013929056305) is a 3CD Mini Box Set containing Three Albums and Eight Bonus Track Single-Sides - it plays out as follows:

Disc 1 "Nothing To Hide" (60:35 minutes):
1. Messiah
2. Country Home
3. Cry
4. My Oh My
5. Now We're Three
6. The Spring Of '69 [Side 2]
7. Glittery Obituary
8. On His Own
9. Too Soon
10. Gypsy Jam
Tracks 1 to 10 are their debut album "Nothing To Hide" - released 20 April 1973 in the UK on Jam Records JAL 104 (no US release). Produced by NOEL WALKER - it failed to chart.

BONUS TRACKS (all tracks non-album):
11. Standing In The Road
12. Celestial Plain
Tracks 11 and 12 are the A&B-sides of their debut UK 7" single on Jam Records JAM 13, released 2 June 1972
13. Sing Don't Speak
14. 2 B Free
Tracks 13 and 14 are the A&B-sides of their 2nd UK 7" single on Jam Records JAM 29, released 10 November 1972
15. Summer (From The Seasons Suite)
16. Morning Light
Tracks 15 and 16 are the A&B-sides of their 3rd UK 7" single on Jam Records JAM 44, released 20 April 1973
17. Get It All To Me
Track 17 is the A-side of their 4th UK 7" single on Jam Records JAM 53, released 14 September 1973
The "Nothing To Hide" album track "My Oh My" was its B-side

Disc 2 "Strangers" (38:46 minutes):
1. Care To Believe
2. Touch The Sky
3. Shoot All Strangers
4. Nostalgia Ain't (What It Used To Be)
5. Bye Bye Birmingham
6. Join Together
7. 1812
Tracks 1 to 7 are the aborted album "Strangers" recorded 1974 at CBS Studios in London, UK. It was eventually released 1977 in the USA on Import Records IMP 1007 as "Strangers".

BONUS TRACK:
8. You Need Love - Non-album Track issued as the A-side to DJM Records DJS 326, their 6th UK 7" single released 27 September 1974
(Their 5th UK 7" single was "Bye Bye Birmingham" from the aborted "Strangers" album as the A-side with the "Nothing To Hide" opener "Messiah" as it's B-side on DJM Records DJS 296 - released 8 March 1974)

Disc 3 "Gun Running" (36:41 minutes):
1. Care To Believe (Version 2)
2. Blue Eyes
3. Cruising The Highway
4. Wanted Gun
5. Moonshine
6. Taking The Fire
7. Pick me Up Put Me Down
8. Corrie
9. 4.40 Jive
Tracks 1 to 9 are their aborted 3rd album "Gun Running" recorded July 1975 in the UK. The original master tapes (minus harpsichord) were thought to be lost but have been located - this Remaster representing the first time the album is made available on CD as was intended.

BLACKFOOT SUE was:
TONY FARMER - Bass, Keyboards and Lead Vocals
DAVID FARMER - Drums and Vocals
EDDIE GOLGA - Lead Guitar, Keyboards and Vocals
ALAN JONES - Guitar and Vocals

The 20-page booklet is a gorgeous thing to look at - loads of repro 45s and all those rare Euro and Japanese picture sleeves on almost every page as well as concert posters and memorabilia montages of sheet music and trade paper reviews. Irritatingly the lyrics that were on the rear sleeve are AWOL - but other than that the PHIL HENDRICK liner notes are pleasingly thorough. JAMES BRAGG does the Remasters from original tapes and everything on here 'rocks'. The singles are the best I've ever heard them and the same applies to the albums.

The meat and potatoes here is the singles and debut album "Nothing To Hide". The five-minute "Messiah" thinks it’s the "Boston" debut album three years before the event - all thrashing guitars and big hair Rock - even if the 'messiah takin' me higha' lyrics are a tad cringeworthy. It's a damn shame they didn't thinking of using the Funky-Rock of "Country Home" as the follow-up to "Standing In The Road" - I could hear its hooky commercialism maybe making inroads into the radio of the day (very cool guitar work). The drums and rapid acoustic guitars of "Cry" come out of your speakers with a vengeance sounding not unlike The Hollies with Alan Clarke on Lead Vocals - those voices and clever melody changes. The catchy Boogie of "My Oh My" would have to wait until September 1973 to see a 7" single outing - and then as the B-side to the brilliant "Get It All To Me" - an equally strong A-side. Over on Side 2 I've always liked the Acoustic pretty "On His Own" (a tad hissy) where the band sounds like a grown-up Monkees or Rascals. "Too Soon" opens with guitar pings and space - Blackfoot Sue sounding like Blue Oyster Cult - while "Gypsy Jam" only compounds the style confusion with treated guitars that sound like violin notes - The Flock meets Love Sculpture doing a duet to the instrumental end.

I wish I could say that the two aborted albums represent some kind of treasure trove - despite moments - mostly they don't. The lack of a distinctive Blackfoot Sue sound afflicts "Strangers" where the ridiculous 11-minute "1812" is a re-working of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture - something already done by ELO in 1970. The sappy instrumental "Summer" with its washing waves and fay prettiness is trying to go after the "Albatross" vibe and failing - far better is the jaunty chug of "Morning Light" could easily have been a cool Hollies single.

Blackfoot Sue were like Ashton, Gardner & Dyke with "The Resurrection Shuffle" or Duncan Browne with "Journey" or Matthews Southern Comfort with Joni's "Woodstock - all artists with killer singles they didn't put on their UK albums and paid the price for it. They would shorten to the name to Blackfoot for MCA and thereafter morph into the Yacht Rock act Liner and have a few hits on Atlantic Records.

To sum up - "The Albums" by BLACKFOOT SUE is not quite the magic box you would want it to be - but there's enough hear to warrant purchase. And fans of the band will love the superb presentation and best-ever audio...

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

"The Real…John Barry" by JOHN BARRY (2016 Sony/Legacy 3CD Compilation of Remasters - 1965 to 1995) - A Review by Mark Barry...

 




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"...From Prendergast With Love…" 

The last half-decent CD I had officially issued by Columbia/CBS covering John Barry's magnificent Movie Soundtrack output was "Themeology" - a stunning 23-track 'Best Of' singular CD issued in 1997 – still available to this day and for peanuts money too. "The Real...John Barry" feels like a massive triple-disc 'Expanded Edition' of that much praised CD Compilation - but typically it's a tale of two cities - much to recommend and yet another missed opportunity.

This 2016 'Ultimate Collection' 3CD-set stretches to 54-tracks covering 1965 to 1995 on Columbia, CBS and Epic Records and even after all these decades – has many 'first time on CD' moments that will thrill fans to the core of their dapper beings. It's also very cleverly sequenced – an art form in itself for compilations like this.

That doesn't mean that "The Real…John Barry" isn't without problems. It won't take a Mensa Membership for folks to notice that some of the Bond stuff has copyright dates that doesn't match up – "From Russia With Love" listed as 'recorded prior to 1972' and the title song to "Diamonds Are Forever" and "All Time High" from "Octopussy" done in 1995 – so obviously these are not the United Artists original releases of 1963, 1971 or 1983. But more importantly to me and other fellow lovers of 'Sounds Good' music - this triple-CD set is a 'Columbia/Legacy' Reissue - so therefore comes with genuinely great Remastered Audio despite not advising where, when or by whom these were mastered.

And what a journey of memories this triple is - listening to "Space March" from 1967's "You Only Live Twice" or "Who Will Buy My Yesterdays" from 1970's "Ready When You Are J.B." (a rarity on CD) or the uber-cool of Harry Palmer's "The Ipcress File" (Michael Caine's dapper British spy) will blow most people's socks off.  Not only is the music utterly wonderful – swirling strings and echoed pianos steeped in that fantastic 60ts sound and Barry's knack for hooky melodies – it sounds toppermost of the poppermost.

So even if it is a mishmash or originals vs. re-recordings (and I can't emphasise this enough) - "The Real...John Barry" is a fantastic listen throughout all three discs. Here are the Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bangs and Midnight Cowboys…

UK released 14 October 2016 – "The Real…John Barry" by JOHN BARRY on Sony/Legacy 88985373242 (Barcode 889853732425) is a 3CD/54-Track compilation of Remasters and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (52:09 minutes):
1. The James Bond Theme (re-recording from the 1967 CBS LP "John Barry Conducts His Greatest Movie Hits")
2. 007 (original from the 1965 United Artists Original Soundtrack LP "Thunderball")
3. From Russia With Love (re-recording from the 1972 CBS LP "Theme From "The Persuaders!")
4. Goldfinger (re-recording from the 1967 CBS LP "John Barry Conducts His Greatest Movie Hits")
5. Thunderball (re-recording from the 1967 CBS LP "John Barry Conducts His Greatest Movie Hits")
6. Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (original from the 1965 United Artists Original Soundtrack LP "Thunderball")
7. Vendetta (original 1966 UK 7" single on CBS Records 202390, A-side)
8. The Danny Scipio Theme (original 1966 UK 7" single on CBS Records 2020390, B-side)
9. Wednesday's Child (original from the 1966 Soundtrack LP "The Quiller Memorandum" on CBS Records)
10. Sleep Well My Darling (original non-album B-side to the 1966 UK 7" single of "Theme To The Quiller Memorandum - Wednesday's Child" on CBS Records 202451)
11. You Only Live Twice [Instrumental] (original from the 1967 Soundtrack LP to "You Only Live Twice" - also A-side of Track 18 on Disc 2)
12. Space March (Capsule In Space) (original from the 1967 Soundtrack LP to "You Only Live Twice")
13. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
14. Try (from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
15. Who Will Buy My Yesterdays (from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
16. The More Things Change (from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
17. Diamonds Are Forever (re-recording from the 1995 Epic CD compilation "Moviola 2: Action And Adventure")
18. All Time High (From "Octopussy") (re-recording from the 1995 Epic CD compilation "Moviola 2: Action And Adventure")

Disc 2 (49:35 minutes):
1. The Ipcress File (re-recording from the 1966 UK CBS Records compilation LP "The Great Movie Sounds Of John Barry")
2. A Man Alone (original from the 1965 Soundtrack LP "The Ipcress File" on CBS Records)
3. Barbra's Theme (non-album original B-side to the UK 7" single for "A Man Alone (Theme From The Film "The Ipcress File")"
4. The Syndicate (original from the 1965 Original Cast Recording for "Passion Flower Hotel" on CBS Records)
5. What A Question (original from the 1965 Original Cast Recording for "Passion Flower Hotel" on CBS Records)
6. Zulu (original from 1964 Soundtrack LP to "Zulu" on Ember)
7. Séance On A Wet Afternoon (re-recording from the 1966 UK CBS Records compilation LP "The Great Movie Sounds Of John Barry")
8. The Knack (original from the 1965 Soundtrack LP to "The Knack...And How To Get It")
9. King Rat March (original from the 1965 Soundtrack LP "King Rat" on United Artists)
10. The Wrong Box (re-recording from the 1967 CBS LP "John Barry Conducts His Greatest Movie Hits")
11. Main Title: The Chase (original from the 1966 Soundtrack LP "The Chase" on CBS Records)
12. Born Free (re-recording from the 1967 CBS LP "John Barry Conducts His Greatest Movie Hits")
13. The Whisperers (re-recording from the 1967 CBS LP "John Barry Conducts His Greatest Movie Hits")
14. Dutchman (re-recording from the 1967 CBS LP "John Barry Conducts His Greatest Movie Hits")
15. Theme From "Romance For Guitar and Orchestra" (from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
16. The Lion In Winter (from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
17. Theme From "The Appointment" (from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
18. The Girl With The Sun In Her Hair (B-side to the 1967 UK 7" single for "You Only Live Twice" on CBS Records 2825)

Disc 3 (68:56 minutes):
1. Midnight Cowboy (original 1969 UK 7"single on CBS Records 4468, A and from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
2. Fun City (original 1969 UK 7"single on CBS Records 4468, B-side and from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
3. Walkabout (re-recording from the 1992 Epic CD/LP compilation "Moviola")
4. Afternoon (from the 1970 UK CBS compilation LP "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits")
5. Mary, Queen Of Scots (re-recording from the 1992 Epic CD/LP compilation "Moviola")
6. Body Heat (re-recording from the 1992 Epic CD/LP compilation "Moviola")
7. Frances (re-recording from the 1992 Epic CD/LP compilation "Moviola")
8. Until September (re-recording from the 1995 Epic CD compilation "Moviola 2: Action And Adventure")
9. The Cotton Club (re-recording from the 1992 Epic CD/LP compilation "Moviola")
10. Out Of Africa (re-recording from the 1992 Epic CD/LP compilation "Moviola")
11. The John Dunbar Theme (original from the 1990 Soundtrack LP/CD "Dances With Wolves")
12. Journey To The Buffalo Killing Field (original from the 1990 Soundtrack LP/CD "Dances With Wolves")
13. Theme From "Chaplin" (re-recording from the 1992 Epic CD/LP compilation "Moviola")
14. Moviola (re-recording from the 1992 Epic CD/LP compilation "Moviola")
15. The Specialist (original from the 1994 Soundtrack LP/CD "The Specialist")
16. Coney Island (original from the 1995 Soundtrack CD "Across The Sea Of Time")
17. Cry, Cry The Beloved Country (original from the 1995 Soundtrack CD "Cry, Cry The Beloved Country")
18. End Title (original from the 1995 Soundtrack to "The Scarlett Letter")

The foldout three-way card digipak is hardly anything great to look at but does at least have track lists beneath the three see-through plastic trays. But there's no booklet and correspondingly no real appreciation of the goodies on sale. The AUDIO as I say is fabulous and even though the versions from the 60ts are re-recordings - they're done within grasping distance of the originals so sound amazingly similar. Much of it is in glorious Stereo too. Many of us will recall the Sunsilk adverts which tapped into the superb B-side "The Girl With The Sun In Her Hair" - Roger Moore and Tony Curtis suave in the 70ts TV show "The Persuaders" and think of Rizzo played by Dustin Hoffman in "Midnight Cowboy" as he takes his last ride on that bus into Miami - all of this music sublime. But few of us will know later soundtracks like "The Specialists", "Across The Sea Of Time" and "Cry, Cry The Beloved Country" - and they're discoveries worth savouring.

Also - on a personal note - the "Ready When You Are, J.B. - John Barry Plays His Great Movie Hits" CBS/Columbia Records compilation LP released in February 1970 had 12 tracks - and all except "We Have All The Time In The World" are here as far as I can see (CBS Records 63952 in the UK - Columbia CS 1003 in the USA). It's a stunner - a forgotten and lost nugget from the decade's first year that rarely ever gets mentioned outside of Soundtrack circles. But as a musical and evocative listen - it's practically flawless and along with its new 1969 re-recordings of film themes it also offers other exclusive JB tracks like "The More Things Change" and "Afternoon" that aren't on anything else. And as it's never been officially on CD before - its 'almost' total presence here is welcome news indeed for rabid fans and the casual listener alike. Using tracks across all three discs - you can CD sequence that forgotten LP as follows...

Side 1
1. Midnight Cowboy [Track 1, Disc 3]
2. We Have All The Time in The World
3. Theme From 'Romance For Guitar And Orchestra' from "Deadfall" [Track 15, Disc 2]
4. Who Will Buy My Yesterdays [Track 15, Disc 1]
5. Fun City [Track 3, Disc 3]
6. The Lion In Winter [Track 16, Disc 2]
Side 2:
1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service [Track 13, Disc 1]
2. Theme From "The Appointment" [Track 17, Disc 2]
3. Try [Track 14, Disc 1]
4. The More Things Change [Track 16, Disc 1]
5. Afternoon [Track 4, Disc 3]
6. Theme From "Born Free" [Track 12, Disc 2]

Downsides - die-hard aficionados will know that beautiful music from "Somewhere In Time" and "High Road To China" and huge dollops more is all missing because they're linked to MCA and other Record companies outside of the Sony remit (you can't have it all). And it's arguable that every one of the Bond CDs - which were expanded and remastered by EMI Capitol in 2003 with huge dollops of previously unreleased tracks in stunning audio - are both must buys and conspicuous by their 'original issue' absence. John Barry's name is so synonymous with James Bond 007 that at least some of it should have been represented here (see my separate reviews for the Expanded Edition 2003 CD Remasters of the original soundtracks to "Thunderball", "You Only Live Twice" and "Diamonds Are Forever"). And I wish there was better annotation.

It's been said a hundred times before - SONY need to treat their most famous Soundtrack son (John Barry Prendergast) with the respect of a genuinely decent and properly annotated 5 to 6CD retrospective Box Set.

But in the meantime (and on face value) - for less than six post-Brexit pounds you can have the well-endowed 3CD digipak "The Real...John Barry" and wallow in a film-music genius who (along with John Williams) won five Oscars and is still sorely missed...

"Rebirth" by BLONDE ON BLONDE (2017 Esoteric Recordings 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue - Ben Wiseman Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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"...A Chance To Be A Spirit..."

You wouldn't expect South Wales (Newport to be exact) to be a hotbed of Sixties and Seventies Prog - but BLONDE ON BLONDE and their four album catalogue would beg to differ. Their Pye Records debut LP "Contrasts" (NSPL 18288) hit the streets in 1969 - their career ending in acrimony, poor sales and an unreleased 1974 last album on Ember that even got to Test Pressing stages.

This superb 2017 CD reissue pair from England's Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red) concentrates on their second and third platters - "Rebirth" from 1970 and it's follow-up "Reflections On A Life" in 1971 - both on Pye's budget label of the time - Ember Records. Each is an 'Expanded Edition' newly remastered from original Ember tapes. Here are the newborn details...

UK released 27 January 2017 (February 2017 in the USA) - "Rebirth" by BLONDE ON BLONDE on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2572 (Barcode 5013929467248) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue and Remaster with Three Bonus Tracks (Two Previously Unreleased) and plays out as follows (56:26 minutes):

1. Castles In The Sky
2. Broken Hours
3. Heart Without A Home
4. Time Is Passing
5. Circles
6. November [Side 2]
7. Colour Questions
8. You'll Never Know Me/Release
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 2nd studio album "Rebirth" (credited as "Re-birth" on the label) - released May 1970 in the UK on Ember Records NR 5049 (no US issue). Produced by the band - it failed to chart in the UK.

BONUS TRACKS:
9. Circles (Single Version) - Non-Album Track, B-side to "Castles In The Sky", a UK 7" single released 24 April 1970 on Ember EMB S 279
10. Castles In The Sky (Alternate Version - Previously Unreleased)
11. Time Is Passing (Alternate Version - Previously Unreleased)

BLONDE ON BLONDE was:
DAVID THOMAS - Vocals
GARETH JOHNSON - Guitars
RICHARD JOHN - Bass
LESLIE HICKS - Drums

The 20-page booklet is a pleasingly thorough affair with new liner notes from noted writer MALCOLM DOME. He interviews founder members David Thomas and Gareth Johnson for the release who give witty and honest appraisals of what was good (got to support huge bands of the day - The Who, Genesis, Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash and Graham Bond - even opening ahead of a decimated Fleetwood Mac) - and the bad (record company disinterest - a Melody Maker review that killed momentum - songs foisted on them they detested like "Castles In The Sky". You also get the lovely Esa Besalel gatefold artwork (Edward St. Maur took the photos) fully reproduced including the wildly-excited liner notes from British Rock DJ Tommy Vance (ex BBC) and the USA's equivalent John Mendelsohn (contributed to Rolling Stone and Coast Magazine) - both extolling the album's nose-down Psych-Rock approach and delivery (no pretentious 200-piece Orchestra here pal). There are photos of the "Castles In The Sky" UK 7" single in its rare Ember Records label bag (a Demo version) and the even harder-to-find picture sleeve of it that came with certain copies is repro'd on Page 14 along with other black and whites. There's even a Tour poster from 24 and 25 August 1969 that features BOB alongside such notables as Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band, Blossom Toes, Family, Traffic and The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band (what a line-up).

BEN WISEMAN – an Audio Engineer who has done loads of superlative work with Esoteric, Universal and many other labels over the years – has taken the Ember tapes and made a damn good fist of the distinctly lo-fi recordings. The shimmering cymbals lead-in – guitars and then voices – “Broken Hours” sounds damn good and with that Psych guitar kicking in – you can so hear why collectors rate their three albums so much. A quality job done on what must have been a difficult transfer...

The "Castles In The Sky" pop single written by Eve King (John King's wife) and Paul Smith (who had penned songs for Simon Dupree And The Big Sound before they later became Gentle Giant) is given short shift by band guitarist Gareth Johnson in the liner notes where he describes it as a 'terrible song' foisted on them by BBC Producer John King and not in keeping with the band's vision. Far better is the rollicking almost Hawkwind drone of "Heart Without A Home" where Johnson gets to wig out on his axes. Vocalist David Thomas gets all 'son leaving home - wanting to be free' on the very Moody Blues "Time Is Passing" - quite possibly another single on an album that doesn't have many. Side 1 ends in a Psych collector's dream - the 'silent world keeps turning around' of "Circles" where huge drums crash and a crudely recorded fuzzed-up guitar tries to get heard (dig that wild solo). I have to say I prefer the album mix of the song to the 45 version - more punch.

There's a rather naive sound to Side 2's opener "November" - Thomas' vocals all echoed for effect - the guitar ever so slightly crude in that homemade way that makes these kind of albums a thrill for collectors who like it unpolished - all feel and passion. The 12-minute racially right-on "Colour Questions" is the album's centrepiece - a sophisticated guitar rumble and rant that feels like "Coming Your Way" from Fleetwood Mac's "Then Play On" album from the year previous. Guitarist Johnson really gets to let rip on various devices - and you can 'feel' his enjoyment. It chops and changes into acoustic/vocal passages and back into wild Prog electric - a monster that would do heavy Van Der Graaf Generator fans a solid. The near 8-minute ballad "You'll Never Know Me/Release" is probably the most sophisticated song on the album - an impressive array of chunky piano chords and clever combo vocals.

"Rebirth" is very much of its time and those expecting Hard Rock or Van Morrison type musings should probably dabble elsewhere. But if you like your Psych with a bit of homemade British Prog thrown in - then this muscular-sounding CD reissue is the baby out the bathwater for you...

"Vintage Violence" by JOHN CALE (2001 Columbia/Legacy 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue - Darcy M. Proper Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...




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"...Don't Want To Be Like All The Rest..."

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Given that Welshman JOHN CALE had been with The Velvets for their monster March 1967 debut "The Velvet Underground And Nico" - following in November of that year with the even more challenging "White Light, White Noise" album and then having produced the definitive early Punk/Garage album - The Stooges self-titled debut "The Stooges" (a destroyer of all that comes in its path) - big things were expected of the Bass Player's debut. It would of course be the most mule-rockin', nadge-kickin' debut album ever released.

Instead we got the weedy pop-country mishmash of "Vintage Violence" - and I can remember as a kid when I first heard it thinking 'this is crap'. And he absolutely didn't have the cool in his voice that Lou Reed could so effortlessly conjure up. But time and hindsight have mellowed me - and every few years I try "Vintage" once again. And each time I think - ok - the pretty "Amsterdam" and the Beach Boys pop of "Adelaide" alongside that Country Byrds/melodious Tommy Flanders combo-sound Cale gets on the undeniably good "Ghost Story" - it's not nearly as bad as I had thought - in fact its possibly a misunderstood beast. Here are the post mortem details...

UK released 13 February 2001 (reissued 27 June 2003 and beyond) - "Vintage Violence" by JOHN CALE on Columbia/Legacy 499945 2 (Barcode 5099749994522) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster with Two Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks that plays out as follows (44:54 minutes):

1. Hello, There
2. Gideon's Bible
3. Adelaide
4. Big White Cloud
5. Cleo
6. Please
7. Charlemange [Side 2]
8. Bring It On Up
9. Amsterdam
10. Ghost Story
11. Fairweather Friend
Tracks 1 to 11 are his debut solo LP "Vintage Violence" - released July 1970 in the USA on Columbia CS 1037 - delayed until February 1971 in the UK on CBS Records S 64256. Produced by JOHN CALE and LEWIS MERENSTEIN (recorded in 1969 the same week as "Church Of Anthrax" with Terry Riley - which wasn't issued until February 1971) - it failed to chart in either country. All songs written by John Cale - except "Fairweather Friend" which is by Garland Jeffreys.

BONUS TRACKS:
12. Fairweather Friend (Previously Unreleased Alternate Version)
13. Wall (Previously Unreleased)

The 8-page booklet has new liner notes from MARGARET MOSER - several black and white photos of the young Welshman and the usual re-issue credits (Bruce Dickenson Produced the Reissue with Project Director Paul Matheny) and there's new input from Cale himself. But in some ways it's a slight and frustrating read in what it 'doesn't' say. What was the album’s actual release date (they get the catalogue number wrong as CS 1007 when it was CS 1037) - who plays Harmonica on "Adelaide" - why CBS in England waiting until two months before the "Church Of Anthrax" release with Terry Riley in April 1971 before they released John Cale's "Vintage Violence"? Why the Phil Spector production melodrama on the overly echoed "Big White Cloud" - why even chose it as a single? And why not take this opportunity to reproduce the lyrics?

Still - what we do get for "Vintage Violence" is a gorgeous Remaster courtesy of DARCY M. PROPER - a Sony Audio Engineer who handled the Kansas CD Reissues for "Point Of Know Return" and Leftoverture". The incredible quiet and ethereal "Amsterdam" sounds beautiful and there’s oomph in the jaunty ‘come back again this year’ opener "Hello, There" – a song that feels like it would fit nicely on the Velvets "Loaded" album.

Wikipedia lists it release date as March 1970 – it was first pictured June 1970 in Billboard but didn’t appear on an actual release schedule until July – wasn’t reviewed until September 1970 and is listed as released December 1970 in Martin Strong’s “The Great Rock Discography”. I’ve put it at July 1970 - which is when Billboard gave it an official release date (the material was famously recorded in 1969 in the same week Cale reveals as he recorded "Church Of Anthrax" with Avant Garde artist Terry Riley who was signed to Columbia Masterworks).

Re-listening to the dreadfully coy "Cleo" and the pedal steel guitar "Please" - I hate the first and quite dig the second. He'd strung his band PENGUIN together for the sessions and their playing on "Please" and the Side 2 opener "Charlemagne" add a huge amount to the 'feel'. Having said that there’s part of me that feels much of "Vintage Violence" is firmly in the 'what was he thinking' bracket – but when you hear the undeniably brill melody of "Ghost Story" and the Jeffreys contribution "Fairweather Friend" – it’s impressive.

Worth another punt – I think so...

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