This is the 3rd or even 4th re-issue on CD of "Tupelo Honey" (released originally on Warner Brothers in November 1971) and it's probably the best version to date.
Tracks 1 to 9 make up the original album with Track 10 and 11 being previously unreleased - an Alternate Take of "Wild Night" and a cover version of an old Traditional, "Down By The Riverside". I must say that both bonus tracks are excellent and not at all throwaway crap designed to sucker in punters (as some had feared). The upgraded booklet contains all the lyrics, but disappointingly no history of where the album fits in. The photo of Van, Lady and Horse originally featured on the LP inner gatefold is faithfully reproduced as the booklet centrepiece - a nice touch. There's band and production credits - and even lyrics for the two bonus tracks.
But the best bit is the SOUND. The original analogue master tapes have been 96K/24 Bit digitally remastered by Tim Young at Metropolis Mastering in London for this 28 January 2008 release - and the sound is just beautiful - and that's for almost every track. I say this because, I've had the 1998 remasters for a while and always thought they were `too' loud and `hissy' for comfort. Don't get me wrong, there is unfortunately still audible hiss on the gorgeous "Tupelo Honey" and "You're My Woman" (two on the best on here) but not `too' much to detract. Those without hiss are just unbelievably good.
The punch out of them! From the album opener "Wild Night" to "When That Evening Sun Goes Down" - the band might as well be in your living room - it's that vibrant and alive! The session men put in a blinder too - fantastic brass work by Jack Schroer and Luis Gasca on "Wild Night" with equally superb piano touches from Mark Jordan on "When That Evening Sun Goes Down". Ronnie Montrose, who later formed "Montrose" and created one of the hardest and best rocking debuts ever in "Montrose" (1973 on Warner Brothers, also produced by Ted Templeman) plays guitar, mandolin and even throws in some backing vocals too. Not everything on here is genius of course, but there's just something about his Warner Brothers albums (all of them) that's magical. And it's mid-price too - I picked up my copy for £6 in Central London.
All in all, a great sounding re-issue and one I urge fans and the uninitiated to get stuck into pronto.
Like "Tupelo Honey", 28 other Van Morrison albums are to be re-issued in remastered form throughout 2008 and into early 2009. Each will contain upgraded booklets, previously unreleased material and all will be at mid-price. They'll be released in 4 batches as follows (29 in total):
January 2008 (7 titles)
Tupelo Honey (1971), It's Too Late To Stop Now (2 CD Live Set) (1974),
Wavelenght (1978), Into The Music (1979), A Sense Of Wonder (1985),
Avalon Sunset (1989) and Back On Top (1999)
June 2008 (8 titles)
Veedon Fleece (1974), Common One (1980), Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart (1983), Live At The Grand Opera House, Belfast (1984), No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986), Enlightenment (1990), A Night In San Francisco (2CD Live Set) (1994) and The Healing Game (1997)
September 2008 (7 titles)
Saint Dominic's Preview (1972), A Period Of Transition (1977), Beautiful Vision (1982), Poetic Champions Compose (1987), Hymns To The Silence (2CD Studio Set) (1991), How Long Has This Been Going On (Live At Ronnie Scott's) (1995), Tell Me Something - The Songs Of Mose Allison (1996)
January 2009 (8 titles)
Hard Nose The Highway (1973), Irish Heartbeat (with The Chieftains) (1988),
Too Long In Exile (1993), Days Like This (1995), The Story Of Them (2CD Set) (1999), The Skiffle Sessions - Live In Belfast (with Lonnie Donegan & Chris Barber) (2000), Down The Road (2002) and What's Wrong With This Picture? (2003)
Those hoping to see desperately needed sonic upgrades of his 1st and 2nd album masterpieces on Warner Bothers "Astral Weeks" (1968) and "Moondance" (1970) will be disappointed to hear that they're NOT in this re-issue campaign. Apparently there is still some dispute between the record label and Van that remains unresolved. A damn shame! They've both been on crappy-sounding non-remasters for over 20 years and they are glaring omissions here. Both of these recognised masterpieces deserve 2CD DELUXE EDITION treatment and soon. (Some tracks in remastered form are available across the 3 volumes of "Best Of"). Let's hope they sort their differences and soon!
Also, Van's new studio album "Keep It Simple" is due 17 March 2008 in the UK and 1 April 2008 in the USA
(For those interested in this re-issue series, I've also done reviews for "A Sense Of Wonder", "Into The Music", "Wavelength", "Back On Top" and the 2CD live set "It's Too Late To Stop Now")