Finally being given the treatment it so richly deserves,the back catalogue of Jimmy Somerville's major label releases from the 80's and 90's have been remastered,repackaged and re-released in deluxe format.This includes his debut with Bronski Beat "The Age Of Consent / Hundreds And Thousands
",the two albums he recorded with Richard Coles as The Communards,their self titled debut "Communards
" and "Red" the album on this page as well his first two solo recordings "Read My Lips
" & "Dare To Love
Although they only recorded two albums the footprint that The Communards left on pop charts all over the world is undeniable.The musical majesty and sheer talent of Richard Coles and Jimmy Somerville might seem like an unlikely combination on paper,the classically trained keyboard virtuoso and the former front-man for one of the 80's most controversial pop groups,but boy what a combo they were.Having already stamped their manifesto of not taking a backward step and spreading the messages of love and non-conformist political views via their self titled debut album in 1986,their second album,"Red",is a much more consistent set of tunes.With the worldwide success of their gender bending duet(featuring Sarah Jane Morris singing the low parts)of the classic Harold Melvin tune,via Thelma Houston's inspired 70's disco cover,"Don't Leave Me This Way" behind them,Richard and Jimmy had nothing to prove.They could make hit songs,now they could do what they pleased in the studio with the addition of horns and strings that could be afforded with the larger recording budget,given by major labels to successful acts.They also enlisted the hands of one of the most successful producers of pop music,Stephen Hague.The extra touches show in the production of this album giving it a much warmer sound than the first album which was produced mainly by Mike Thorne.
Containing two of my favourite Communards tracks,"Tomorrow" and their glorious cover of "Never Can Say Goodbye" the 2012 reissue is a very welcome addition to their catalogue for many reasons.Amongst the bonus content in this expanded 2cd edition are many tracks that make their digital debut here.The legendary Shep Pettibone Extended Mix of "Never Can Say Goodbye" appears here in the very rare USA promo 11 minute plus version as well as it's b sides,San Paulo Dub and Instrumental.These tracks have obviously been taken from a clean vinyl record source.I have no problem with a good vinyl rip and it's a shame the master tapes of this incredible tour-de-force 12" single could not be located.I'm happy to have it all the same.
The major draw for fans is the 8 song live set on disc two.Recorded at the Paris Olympia in late 1987,these tracks were previously only available as the b-sides of the three "For A Friend" 12 inch singles released in 1988. Officially released live performances by The Communards are few in number and these tracks really give you an idea of how good the band were by 1987.These live cuts are a huge bonus and sound nice and clear with no apparent vinyl distortion or crackles so I'm guessing the tapes for these tracks were found.If they are off vinyl,you can't tell.There is also a dvd,that's still available,of a show from West Germany in 1986,highlighting the first album "Fullhouse [DVD
]",it's worth checking out and as far as I know,the only official live video of the band.
If you're a Jimmy Somerville fan,this new edition of "Red" is a must for your collection.Great packaging,an expanded booklet,nice slipcase and the remaster of the album proper is also a job well done.If your a new or casual fan and let's face it,not everyone likes Jimmy's unique falsetto voice,check out the awesome compilation released a few years back,"The Very Best of Jimmy Somerville
",make sure you get the 2cd edition if you can,it's worth it for the disc of extended mixes.
"Tell Me Why,Is It So,I Don't Wanna Let You Go!"