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Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London)
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Solo
Solo
Price: £11.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...I Was Coming Back Anyway!" - Solo (Live) by DON McLEAN (1994 and 2008 Beat Goes On 2CD Remaster), 3 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Solo (Audio CD)
After five studio albums covering the varying styles of Folk, Rock, Country, Dixieland and even Old Timey Music Hall - it was time for Don McLean to strip away all the studio gadgets - get back to basics and literally go 'Solo' on stage. Originally released in late 1976 as a vinyl double-album - "Solo" does what it says on the tin - it's just Don McLean and his guitar or his banjo or his voice ("Geordie Has Lost His Penker" is Acapella). With songs covering love, heartbreak, painters, hobos, poverty and lots of laughter and Americana inbetween - the crowd is swept along with his sincerity, his warmth and crafted performance skills.

So back in 1994 - Britain's Beat Goes On remastered much of his United Artists album catalogue from the Seventies - and this 2CD offering is one of those hidden nuggets. Here are the details...

Originally released November 1994 (reissued in December 2008) - Beat Goes On BGOCD 300 (Barcode 5017261203007) is a straightforward 2CD transfer of the vinyl double-album "Solo" originally released September 1976 in the USA on United Artists UA-LA652-H2 and in the UK on United Artists UAD 60139. It breaks down as follows...

Disc 1 (53:50 minutes):
1. Magdalene Lane
2. Masters Of War
3. Wonderful Baby
4. Where Were You Baby
5. Empty Chairs
6. Geordie's Lost His Penker
7. Babylon
8. And I Love You So [Side 2]
9. Mactavish Is Dead
10. Cripple Creek/Muleskinner Blues
11. Great Big man
12. Bronco Bill's Lament
13. Happy Trails
14. Circus Song
15. Birthday Song
16. On The Amazon

Disc 2 (50:48 minutes):
1. American Pie [Side 3]
2. Over The Waterfall/Arkansas Traveller
3. Homeless Brother
4. Castles In The Air/Three Flights Up
5. Lovesick Blues [Side 4]
6. Winter Has Me In Its Grip
7. The Legend Of Andrew McCrew
8. Dreidel
9. Vincent
10. Till Tomorrow

The 12-page booklet has typically excellent liner notes by JOHN TOBLER (dated 1994) with gatefold artwork on the inner pages. Tobler details much of McLean's career up to 1976 (Perry Como and Presley covering the gorgeous "And I Love You So" - the story of the black cripple and pauper Andrew McCrew finally getting a headstone because of McLean's song - and so on). The remaster was done at Sound Mastering (then in Cambridge) and is clean with only minor hiss issues on the very quietest of songs (doesn't say who did what). But it should be added that as this is a live set clearly from different audiences - the audio ping-pongs about a bit - but mostly it's a top-notch transfer and hugely evocative. Mostly you're too immersed in the storytelling to notice...

Amongst my favourites is "Winter Has Me In Its Grip" - originally on 1974's "Homeless Brother" - a typically simple song that slays you. The audience almost sings along to "And I Love You So" while the trio of "American Pie", "Vincent" and the lovely "Till Tomorrow" elicit just that - crowd sing-alongs ("Empty Chairs" is fabulous too). But the album belongs to "Babylon" where he splits the audience up into groups and has them singing various parts - each harmonising - it's frankly magical. McLean has always been a great songwriter - but this lovely BGO 2CD reissue shows what an amazing performer he is too into the bargain.

As he comes back out on stage to perform "Till Tomorrow" as an encore (ending Side 4) - he jokes - "I was coming back anyway!" I suspect that after you succumb to this reissue's many charms - you'll find yourself doing exactly that...


The Polite Force ~ Remastered
The Polite Force ~ Remastered
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Contrasong..." - The Polite Force by EGG (2008 Esoteric CD Remaster), 3 Mar. 2015
Ah the Deram label and its roster of hairy-men with big ideas. Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red) have been doing a full-on brilliant job of reissuing unloved Progressive Rock albums for years now - giving them remasters from first generational analogue tapes, expanded booklets with liner notes by more hirsute men who know and care - and a pleasing mid-price CD cost tag. Egg's 2nd album "The Polite Force" from early 1971 in one of those much-maligned rarities. Here are the over easy details...

UK released March 2008 - "The Polite Force" by EGG on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 2036 (Barcode 5013929713628) is a straightforward reissue CD and breaks downs as follows (42:57 minutes):

1. A Visit To Newport Hospital (8:25 minutes)
2. Contrasong (4:21 minutes)
3. Boilk (9:23 minutes)
4. Long Piece No.3 - Part One (5:06 minutes)
5. Long Piece No.3 - Part Two (7:39 minutes)
6. Long Piece No.3 - Part Three (8:01 minutes)
7. Long Piece No.3 - Part Four (2:51 minutes)

EGG was:
Lead Vocals, Bass, Organ, Piano and French Horn - HUGO MONTGOMERY-CAMPBELL
Organ, Piano, Tone Generator - DAVE STEWART
Drums - CLIVE BROOKS

The 12-page booklet has liner notes by label boss and all-round knowledgeable type MARK POWELL - a great writer and clearly a fan of Progressive Rock. But the big news is a fantastic remaster by PASCHAL BYRNE from original analogue master tapes. This CD sounds amazing - full of presence and brings forward the musicianship a lot.

A London Trio with a solid debut behind them that didn't chart ("Egg" on Deram Nova SDN 14 in March 1970) - their 2nd platter opens with suitably doom-laden riffing in "A Visit To Newport Hospital". But to its credit and our aural pleasure - track 1 soon settles down one minute in into a jaunty Organ Jazz piece that is shockingly musical. Both it and the excellent "Contrasong" that follows are Campbell compositions and have their lyrics reproduced on Page 10 (tales of avoiding skinheads and playing five nights a week at Ryde Castle Hotel). "Contrasong" also features amazing musicianship from Dave Stewart on Organ and Piano alongside Henry Lowther on Trumpet and Brian Downes on Tenor Sax. Unfortunately the nine-minute plus "Boilk" which includes "Bach: Durch Adams Fall 1st Ganz Verderbt" is unlistenable noise nonsense that does a spiffing job at testing your patience.

Side 2 opens with a 4-parter unfortunately also boasting another patience-testing Part 1. All four sections are organ and drum instrumentals - a sort of more angry-version of early ELP without the cartoon artwork. Far better is the groove achieved in Part Two - where Brooks plays a drumming blinder alongside complicated Montgomery-Campbell keyboard passages - some wild - some beautifully tender. The final Part Four is pure ELP but in a good way...

Never going to be noticed or loved by anyone in the mainstream - this CD reissue gives hard-to-find music a proper run for its money. Well done to all involved for getting it out there...


Any Way You Like It
Any Way You Like It
Price: £9.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Come To Me..." - Any Way You Like It by THELMA HOUSTON (2015 SoulMusic Expanded CD Remaster), 3 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Any Way You Like It (Audio CD)
A timely and official CD reissue of a long-forgotten Tamla Disco LP from late 1976 including two chart hits - Thelma's cover of the Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes 1975 classic "Don't Leave Me Way" and "If It's The Last Thing I Do". And it sounds amazing too. Here are the glitter ball details...

UK released February 2015 - "Any Way You Want Me" by THELMA HOUSTON on SoulMusic Records SMCR 5126 (Barcode 503929082632) boasts six bonus tracks and breaks down as follows (53:38 minutes):

1. Any Way You Like It
2. Don't Leave Me This Way
3. Don't Know Why I Love You
4. Come To Me [Side 2]
5. Don't Make Me Pay (For Another Girl's Mistake)
6. Sharing Something Perfect Between Ourselves
7. If It's The Last Thing I Do
8. Differently
Tracks 1 to 8 are the album "Any Way You Like It" - released December 1976 in the USA on Tamla T6-345S1 and January 1977 in the UK on Tamla Motown STML 12049

BONUS TRACKS:
9. Do You Know Where You're Going To (Previously Only Issued in New Zealand)
10. Together (Previously Only Issued in New Zealand)
11. Today Will Soon Be Yesterday - non-album B-side to "Don't Leave Me This Way" US 7" single on Tamla 54278
12. You've Been Doing Wrong For So Long - non-album A-side - USA 7" single on Tamla 1316
13. One Out Of Every Six (Censored Version) - non-album A-side - USA 7" single on Tamla 54275
14. Don't Leave Me This Way (US Tamla Single Edit) - non-album A-side version on USA 7" single Tamla 54278

Licensed from Universal - ALAN WILSON has done the remaster - and the audio is fantastic - full of power, presence and detail. The album is very much in the Disco/Light Soul vein with a mixture of steppers and smoochers Produced by people like Michael L. Smith who had worked with Jerry Butler, Jermaine Jackson and The Temptations. The 16-page booklet is pleasingly packed with details about her recording history courtesy of David Nathan's affectionate liner notes while the rear pages picture US, UK and foreign 45s of note.

I'd be hard-pressed to say that "Any Way You Like It" is a masterpiece - it isn't - but there are likeable ballads on here like "Come To Me" (Jermaine Jackson had a hand in the writing) and the huge hit "Don't Leave Me This Way". The album managed a respectable No. 5 placing on the American Billboard R&B charts. The Bonus Tracks smartly include two rare foreign sides making their CD debut here as well as four other non-album single sides.

A 3-star album given a 5-star reissue on a CD and it's mid-price too. Fans will need to own this...


Ugly Ego & Secret Omen
Ugly Ego & Secret Omen
Price: £9.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...I Get Excited And I Go Insane..." - Ugly Ego/Secret Omen by CAMEO (2015 Robinsongs 2LPs on 1CD Remaster), 3 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Ugly Ego & Secret Omen (Audio CD)
A very cool and timely reissue lumping together two of Cameo's best Funk outings on Chocolate City Records from that halcyon decade - "Ugly Ego" from 1978 and its follow-up "Secret Omen" from 1979.

While "Ugly Ego" managed a 16 placing on the USA Billboard R&B charts - the hugely popular "Secret Omen" went into the Top 5 (peaked at No. 4) and spawned two top-ten hit singles in the shape of "I Just Want To Be" and "Sparkle". This superb sounding CD reissue by Robinsongs of England (part of the Cherry Red Group) does those two funky monsters a solid. Here are the codpiece details...

UK released February 2015 - "Ugly Ego/Secret Omen" by CAMEO on Robinsongs CDMRED648 (Barcode 5013929164833) gives fans 2LPs on 1CD and breaks down as follows (74:14 minutes):

1. I'll Be With You
2. Insane
3. Give Love A Chance
4. I Want You
5. Ugly Ego [Side 2]
6. Anything You Wanna Do
7. Friend To Me
8. Two Of Us
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 4th album "Ugly Ego" - released October 1978 in the USA on Chocolate City CCLP 2006 and February 1979 in the UK on Casablanca CAL 2038

9. Energy
10. I Just Want To Be
11. Find My Way
12. Macho [Side 2]
13. The Rock
14. Sparkle
15. New York
Tracks 9 to 15 are their 5th album "Secret Omen" - released July 1979 in the USA on Chocolate City Records CCLP 2008 and October 1979 in the UK on Casablanca CAL 2058

Licensed from Universal - ALAN WILSON has done the remaster - and the audio is fantastic - full of power, presence and detail. LARRY BLACKMON (he of the codpiece) - the founder member of the group and principal songwriter - also produced both albums and the band's Funk Sound is dominated by his distinctive Cameo groove. The 8-page inlay is a fairly basic affair with two-page liner notes by Mojo's Lois Wilson, artwork for both LPs and track lists with reissue credits. Nothing to write home about but does the job nonetheless.

Proceedings open with the slappy bass and brass-driven funk of "I'll Be With You" and you're immediately hit with two things - the great groove and the remaster. You're also thinking that while Parliament, Funkadelic and The Ohio Players get all the Funk plaudits - Cameo somehow seem locked in the Pop Soul Eighties thing where they're forever associated with "Word Up" and not wicked anthemic Funk like "Insane". Proving he's a dab hand at lurving your loins as well as lubricating them - the ballad "Give Love A Chance" is excellent bedroom fodder while the Isley Brothers guitar of Eric Durham on "I Want You" ends Side One on a great hard groove. Another slick multi-vocal beat is "Anything You Wanna Do" - fab brass punches punctuate a wicked Bass and Guitar beat.

If "Ugly Ego" felt like a purist Funk outing - it's obvious from the crowd-pleasing opener "Energy" on "Secret Omen" that this LP was aimed at making the group a genuine chart presence. Stuff like "I Just Want To Be" with its weird vocal beginning and synth jabs is so commercial yet Funky. "Macho" and "Sparkle" - the other two big tunes on here - are the same - crowd-shouters and people-pleasers ("Sparkle" has a fabulous lurve groove). Album winner for me goes to "The Rock" where Cameo come over all Earth, Wind & Fire but in a good way.

A brilliant little reissue that makes two long-out-of-print albums available again on a quality CD pitched at mid-price. Soul, Funk and Disco lovers should dig in...

PS: other Robinsongs 2LPs-on-1CD releases include:
1. Step Into Your Life/Prime Time - ROY AYERS & WAYNE HENDERSON
2. Light Of Life/Injoy - BAR-KAYS
3. It's Just Begun/Phase Two - THE JIMMY CASTOR BUNCH
4. Fever/Electric Lady - CON-FUNK-SION
5. Wildflower/Don't You Worry `Bout A Thing - HANK CRAWFORD
6. We All Have A Star/Inherit The Wind - WILTON FELDER (of The Crusaders)
7. Routes/Three Piece Suite - RAMSEY LEWIS
8. Love Is Where You Find It/Love For Love - THE WHISPERS
9. 'Nard/Funky Beat - BERNARD WRIGHT


By Greg Kot - I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, The Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom's Highway
By Greg Kot - I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, The Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom's Highway
by Greg Kot
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars "...You're Not Alone..." - I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, The Staple Singers And The March Up Freedom's Highway by GREG KOT, 2 Mar. 2015
Father of two, all-round-good-egg and a respected critic at the Chicago Tribune since 1990 - GREG KOT has also authored three acclaimed music books - "Ripped: How The Wired Generation Revolutionized Music", "Wilco: Learning How To Die" and "Beatles vs. Stones: Sound Opinions On The Great Rock 'n' Roll Rivalry". This is his 4th musical tome...

Published in 2014 by Scribner of the USA in Hardback (308 Pages) - "I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, The Staples Singers, And The March Up Freedom's Highway" is the first fully sanctioned autobiography of what many feel is an American institution long overdue hysterical praise - a God given thing of wonder - the voice and heart of MAVIS STAPLES. I'll be blunt here. I've loved her voice, her music, her spirit and her healing effect fro my whole life - having been a lifetime fan since those STAX Records sides in the early Seventies (the book takes its title from their 1972 hit). I'd high expectations for "I'll Take You There" and I'm thrilled to say it doesn't disappoint.

And what a journey it's been - filled with never-before-told stories of growing up in segregation Thirties and Forties Mississippi - onwards with Pops and The Staples Singers to shaking church rafters with Sam Cooke in the Fifties - becoming both Gospel and cross-over artists in the explosive civil-rights Sixties - and global bone-fide Soul Superstars in the Seventies. The book then goes into the desert of the Eighties and re-emerges with Prince in the Nineties and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco in the Naughties. You wouldn't mind if her last two albums "You Are Not Alone" (2010) and "One True Vine" (2013) were no good - now in her late Seventies they're probably the best of her career.

KOT cleverly keeps the chapters short and sweet - they last only 6 to 8 pages each and there's 43 of them - each packed with extraordinary names that crossed the family's path across nearly 7 decades (Charlie Patton, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy and Ella Johnson, Lou Rawls, John Carter of The Flamingos and The Dells, Johnnie Taylor, Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke, Bobby Womack, Aretha Franklin, Martin Luther King, Harry Belafonte, Billy Preston, Levon Helm of The Band and Hilary Clinton to name but a few). One of fourteen children himself - Roebuck "Pops" Staples was 18 when he married his childhood sweetheart Oceola Ware in 1933 (she was 16). By early 1936 and with his trusting wife and two young kids in tow (Cleotha and Pervis - Pervis would later manage the band) - hothead Pops defied his father's advice, scrounged for a whole year until he had the $12 bus fare needed and left the dead-end South for the music of Chicago. Yvonne Staples came in 1937 and Mavis followed in July 1939. Soon the family of singing siblings were doing ensemble vocal renditions of Gospel songs with Dad on his trademark guitar - practising in their apartment as a way to pass the time. But after they earned $7 one Sunday afternoon by wowing the Gospel crowds with their sheer spirit and uncanny harmonising - Pops began to see how he could support his family long term. Little did he know that such a humble beginning would spawn a musical career lasting way past his sad passing in 2000.

The beauty of a book like this is that it covers so much of America' turbulent history - a virtual step-by-musical-step through Americana. You get example after example of horrible racism, the civil rights movement and the redeeming bringing-together power of music. Through interviews - Kot gets the good and the bad of what happened - and to whom. Yet throughout Mavis remains positive and forgiving - bad career decisions - broken marriages - never having children - all of it anchored by family, music and a mighty, mighty faith. The chapters also document the very real difficulty the family had with their peers as they tried on many occasions to shed pure Gospel for their version of righteous Soul - and how their eventual success at Stax elicited howls of 'sell out' derision from people they loved and admired - and how they toured in places where blacks just didn't go. We get her brief affair with Bob Dylan, support shows with Rock acts like Love, Steppenwolf and Traffic - collaborations with Steve Cropper of Booker T & The MG's as she took her first tentative steps into a solo career in 1969. There's stuff on Iran in 1970, Ghana in 1971, the WattStax Festival in 1972 with "Respect Yourself" on to headlining an anti-apartheid South Africa concert in 1975. There's stuff on Vee-Jay, Epic, Stax and Warner Brothers.

Her meeting the mercurial Prince is described as Holy Ghost Moment and that same collaborative magic happened again with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. His "You Are Not Alone" is probably the single most gorgeous song Mavis has sung in damn near 40 years - full of great message and heart - a hopeful Soulful ballad of hope ("I wanna get it through to you...you're not alone...every night I stand in your place..." Isn't that beautiful - much like her good self and this uplifting book...


I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the Music That Shaped the Civil Rights Era
I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the Music That Shaped the Civil Rights Era
by Greg Kot
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...You Are Not Alone..." - I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, The Staple Singers And The March Up Freedom's Highway GREG KOT, 2 Mar. 2015
Father of two, all-round-good-egg and a respected critic at the Chicago Tribune since 1990 - GREG KOT has also authored three acclaimed music books - "Ripped: How The Wired Generation Revolutionized Music", "Wilco: Learning How To Die" and "Beatles vs. Stones: Sound Opinions On The Great Rock 'n' Roll Rivalry". This is his 4th musical tome...

Published in 2014 by Scribner of the USA in Hardback (308 Pages) - "I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, The Staples Singers, And The March Up Freedom's Highway" is the first fully sanctioned autobiography of what many feel is an American institution long overdue hysterical praise - a God given thing of wonder - the voice and heart of MAVIS STAPLES. I'll be blunt here. I've loved her voice, her music, her spirit and her healing effect for my whole life - having been a fan since those STAX Records sides in the early Seventies (the book takes its title from their 1972 hit). I'd high expectations for "I'll Take You There" and I'm thrilled to say it doesn't disappoint.

And what a journey it's been - filled with never-before-told stories of growing up in segregation Thirties and Forties Mississippi - onwards with Pops and The Staples Singers to shaking church rafters with Sam Cooke in the Fifties - becoming both Gospel and cross-over artists in the explosive civil-rights Sixties - and global bone-fide Soul Superstars in the Seventies. The book then goes into the desert of the Eighties and re-emerges with Prince in the Nineties and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco in the Naughties. You wouldn't mind if her last two albums "You Are Not Alone" (2010) and "One True Vine" (2013) were no good - now in her late Seventies they're probably the best of her career.

KOT cleverly keeps the chapters short and sweet - they last only 6 to 8 pages each and there's 43 of them - each packed with extraordinary names that crossed the family's path across nearly 7 decades (Charlie Patton, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy and Ella Johnson, Lou Rawls, John Carter of The Flamingos and The Dells, Johnnie Taylor, Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke, Bobby Womack, Aretha Franklin, Martin Luther King, Harry Belafonte, Billy Preston, Levon Helm of The Band and Hilary Clinton to name but a few). One of fourteen children himself - Roebuck "Pops" Staples was 18 when he married his childhood sweetheart Oceola Ware in 1933 (she was 16). By early 1936 and with his trusting wife and two young kids in tow (Cleotha and Pervis - Pervis would later manage the band) - hothead Pops defied his father's advice, scrounged for a whole year until he had the $12 bus fare needed and left the dead-end South for the music of Chicago. Yvonne Staples came in 1937 and Mavis followed in July 1939. Soon the family of singing siblings were doing ensemble vocal renditions of Gospel songs with Dad on his trademark guitar - practising in their apartment as a way to pass the time. But after they earned $7 one Sunday afternoon by wowing the Gospel crowds with their sheer spirit and uncanny harmonising - Pops began to see how he could support his family long term. Little did he know that such a humble beginning would spawn a musical career lasting way past his sad passing in 2000.

The beauty of a book like this is that it covers so much of America' turbulent history - a virtual step-by-musical-step through Americana. You get example after example of horrible racism, the civil rights movement and the redeeming bringing-together power of music. Through interviews - Kot gets the good and the bad of what happened - and to whom. Yet throughout Mavis remains positive and forgiving - bad career decisions - broken marriages - never having children - all of it anchored by family, music and a mighty, mighty faith. The chapters also document the very real difficulty the family had with their peers as they tried endlessly shed purist Gospel for their version of righteous Soul - how their success at Stax elicited howls of `sell out' derision - and how they toured in places where blacks just didn't go. We get her brief affair with Bob Dylan, support shows with Rock acts like Love, Steppenwolf and Traffic - collaborations with Steve Cropper of Booker T & The MG's as she took her first tentative steps into a solo career in 1969. There's stuff on Iran in 1970, Ghana in 1971, the WattStax Festival in 1972 with "Respect Yourself" on to headlining an anti-apartheid South Africa concert in 1975. There's stuff on Vee-Jay, Epic, Stax and Warner Brothers.

Her meeting the mercurial Prince is described as Holy Ghost Moment and that same collaborative magic happened again with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. His "You Are Not Alone" is probably the single most gorgeous song Mavis has sung in damn near 40 years - full of great message and heart - a hopeful Soulful ballad of hope ("I wanna get it through to you...you're not alone...every night I stand in your place..." Isn't that beautiful - much like her good self and this uplifting book...


The Famous Charisma Discography
The Famous Charisma Discography
by Mark Jones
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Home Thoughts From Abroad..." - The Famous Charisma Discography: A 40th Anniversary Celebration by MARK JONES (Book), 2 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Some of the complaints (if you could call them that) levelled at this book are unfortunately true. But - and I mean this sincerely - there is much to love here from a purely informational standpoint - even if it isn't all presented in spangly colour illustrations and pithy comments.

Published 2010 by The Record Press/Bristol Folk Publications as part of their Great British Record Labels Series - "The Famous Charisma Discography: A 40th Anniversary Celebration" does what it say on the tin for a RRP of £14.99. Tony Stratton-Smith's eclectic and highly personal roster (he founded the label in 1969 - signed who he liked) is mulled over and laid out in release date order. You get (a) listings of all known UK LPs, compilations and 7" singles on the Charisma Label between 1969 and 1987 with tracks lists for almost every entry (b) the original label design and release date for the majority of the records including budget/special price reissues like the CLASS series (c) the first published listings of cassettes and 8-track releases (d) the original recommended retail price for the majority of the LPs and tapes and (e) an organisational history of the label by those who were there.

As you can see from the above - the detail is impressive (if not in the case of prices - a little superlative and unnecessary). What you can't see is that the text is entirely void of photographs - and although there are paragraphs beneath certain entries ("Masterpieces: The Sounds/Charisma Album" from 1980 includes the UK-only mix of Mike Rutherford's "Moonshine" - info like that) - there's precious little comment on the album or its place in things. While you mightn't expect reams of info on bands Le Orme, Howard Werth and The Moonbeams, Blue Max or Afraid Of Mice - you get milestone records like Van Der Graaf Generator's "The Least We Can Do is Wave To Each Other", Genesis's "Foxtrot" and Lindisfarne's "Fog On The Tyne" without a lot of info. It makes the read terribly dry and never rise above a long line of lists.

Having said that obsessives will love that PS1 and PS2 denote the two variants of the Pink Scroll Label Design and MH1 to MH6 are the six variants of the more common Charisma Mad Hatter Label Design (B&C Records are simply BC1 and BC2). You get hard-core details like Brian Davison's album "Every Which Way" has rare copies with the labels affixed to the wrong sides, "The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other" by Van Der Graaf Generator has two mixes - the first with a matrix number A2 while the remix (again on Pink Scroll) has AG - all early 1st pressings of "Foxtrot" by Genesis have the "E.J. Day" credit on the rear cover (printed by Ernest Jay Day) - or that initial copies of Lindisfarne's classic "Fog On The Tyne" had blurred photos on the inner textured gatefold sleeve. But when it gets to stuff like "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", "Monty Python And The Holy Grail", "Home Thoughts From Abroad" (Clifford T. Ward) or artists like Spreadeagle, Audience, Capability Brown, Jack The Lad (an offshoot of Lindisfarne), Leigh Stephens, Jo'Burg Hawk, Darien Spirit, Atacama, Carol Grimes & Delivery, Jackson Heights, Prince Far I and even Sir John Betjeman - you wish there was more detail and of course photos to back it all up. There are also those fantastic and rare European and Japanese 7" singles with unique picture sleeves which fans would eat up - but again AWOL.

Don't get me wrong - the info is impeccable and provides someone like me who does Discographies and reviews with invaluable and reliable release date info etc - it's just a shame the book didn't see fit to stretch past that remit - and I suspect this is why a few buyers have expressed disappointment in what they've bought.

Take this for what it is - a great piece of Discography. But maybe on Print Run Number 2 - a radical rethink of how its laid out and how it looks (even its size) is due. Because with what's presented to us here - Mark Jones' enthusiasm and huge amount of dedicated work warrants a better second go round...


Prog Rock FAQ: All That's Left to Know about Rock's Most Progressive Music (Faq Series)
Prog Rock FAQ: All That's Left to Know about Rock's Most Progressive Music (Faq Series)
by Will Romano
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Watcher Of The Skies..." - PROG ROCK FAQ (by Will Romano), 1 Mar. 2015
Milwaukee's Backbeat Books have been putting out these FAQ books on Music and Movie phenomenon for some time now - titles on subjects as diverse as Elvis Films, Elvis Music, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Modern Sci-Fi Films, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Rush, South Park TV Series, Bruce Springsteen, Star Trek, The Three Stooges, U2, The Who and Neil Young to name but a few. Will Romano's five-decade long fact-fest on that much-maligned genre PROGRESSIVE ROCK is a fascinating and thorough addition to that growing pile of worthy titles (I loved their WHO book - see Review).

New York's Romano has authored "Mountains Come Out Of The Sky: The Illustrated History Of Prog Rock" and contributed to a wide array of Rock magazines - so he knows and loves his subject matter from the boots up - and it shows in the clever choices for discussion.

Published November 2014 - PROG ROCK FAQ is a glossy covered paperback (6" x 9" in size) and its 370-pages have a go at every aspect of the genre. Smartly not just focusing on its Seventies heyday (although that takes up the bulk) - the text extends the music discussion into Prog's Nineties and Naughties resurgence with convincing results. Subtitled "All That's Left To Know About Rock's Most Progressive Music" - there are a satisfying 28 chapters on subjects like "The Mellotron", "Designing and Creating Prog Rock's Wondrous Visuals" and even Italian Cult bands. In between all that we get chapters on obvious candidates like Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, ELP and Van Der Graaf Generator. There's honourable mentions along the way for Family, Henry Cow, Jethro Tull, Hawkwind, Curved Air, Renaissance, Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips (of Genesis), Steve Reich, Asia, John Wetton, Eddie Jobson, Fripp and Eno and minimalists like Radiohead. There's interviews with leaders of the Late Seventies/Eighties Second Wave Daniel Dennis and Belgium's Univers Zero - while Third Wave giants Anglagard (from Sweden) and Chicago's District 97 get their say at the end of the book.

Milestones albums like "Close To The Edge" (Yes), "Tarkus" (ELP), "Just Another Band From L.A." (The Mothers Of Invention), "The Dark Side Of The Moon" (Pink Floyd) and "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" (Genesis) get extensive paragraphs as you can imagine - but its nice to also see Nektar, Procol Harum, Magma, Pallas, Saga, Fireballet and Manfred Mann's Third Chapter get a look in too. There are extensive reproductions of album sleeves, trade adverts, billboard posters and all those quirky inserts and Topographical scripts across the pages. But I'd have to say that a downside is the black and white photos - in such a visual and sensual medium - you do miss that colour wallop (it was too cost prohibitive no doubt). It's a minor point but one worth making and I feel there should have been paragraphs of praise on Steve Wilson's extraordinary work remastering the Yes, King Crimson and Jethro Tull catalogues on CD to a huge outpouring of fan joy and band approval. But having said all of that - I enjoyed this book a whole heap (Uriah included).

Dipping into PROG ROCK FAQ has been fun and a trippy journey down memory lane for me...back to a time when gatefold sleeves seemed like the most beautiful thing in the world...and music (in every one of its fabulous forms) made all things possible...


Steal Away the Night: An Ozzy Osbourne Day-by-Day
Steal Away the Night: An Ozzy Osbourne Day-by-Day
by Martin Popoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Cracks In The Pavement..." - Steal Away The Night: An Ozzy Osbourne Day-By-Day (2014 Backbeat Books), 27 Feb. 2015
Backbeat Books have made a smart choice in MARTIN POPOFF to helm their Ozfest "Steal Away The Night". Author of a staggering 45 books on Rock (and especially Metal) and one-time Editor/Chief Bottle Washer at the "Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles" Metal magazine for 14 years - he's also contributed to both Record Collector and American Goldmine Price Guides extensively and has how own website. Canadian Popoff knows his way around a dead bat's ear and a chainsaw (never mind his video work with Prog-Rockers Rush).

Published in September 2014 - the first thing that hits about this OZZY OSBOURNE Day-By-Day coffee-table-sized hardback tome - is the visuals. Across 250 tall pages - every twofer spread has a photo or a poster or an album sleeve, press advert, concert shot, reams of memorabilia, tee-shirts, picture discs, British 45's on Jet Records, magazine covers, backstage passes, sculptures and holiday ornaments (you heard me) - this Book is properly crammed to its black-hearted gunnels with superb visuals. Then there's his various stage outfits - capes, upside-down crosses, tassels, studded belts, leather trousers, fangs, ridiculous Eighties hair-dos and onwards into his Nineties and Naughties resurgence alongside Metal Gods Black Sabbath (there's full-colour plates of Randy Rhoads - sadly lost to us in 1982). And amidst all that visual drama are comments from Lee Kerslake (formerly of Uriah Heep) on joining the band, Quiet Riot's Kelly Garni on Randy Rhoads, Brad Gillis on the crazy Tours, Bob Daisley on mixing the albums and Zakk Wylde on Ozzfest.

Born 3 December 1948 in Aston, Birmingham, England (4th of six children) - Ozzy's career is chronicled in a Date fashion beginning with early influences like The Beatles and Zeppelin's debut album in January 1969, which of course changed the Rock Universe into Metal. When 13 February 1970 sees the release of Black Sabbath's doom-laden debut - the details really start to kick in and go on into success, ridicule at the hands of critics, worship at the knob by fans, band quarrels, missed gigs, alcoholism and many very honest appraisals (by himself) of his mental health and his lifetime struggles with it. Popoff's interviews with Ozzy are often hilarious and blasted throughout with a couldn't-give-a-toss-what-people-think attitude and searing honesty that endears him to so many. There's a selective pictorial Discography on Page 242.

One of the great theatrical wildmen of Rock - Ozzy Osbourne has deserved such a book - and Martin Popoff has done the Blizzard proud...

PS: This sucker is large and heavy - watch out for those P&P rates...


Ladies & Gentlemen... Mr B.B King
Ladies & Gentlemen... Mr B.B King
Price: £29.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Everyday I Have The Blues..." - Ladies & Gentlemen...Mr. B.B. King by B.B. KING (2012 4CD and 10CD Box Set Remasters), 25 Feb. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Considering his iconic status - a properly decent box set chronicling Mississippi's B.B. King has been a long time coming (his Blues career has now reached the staggering longevity of 66 years). But at least you can say that Universal have finally done the great man proud (especially on the mammoth 10-disc set). Here are Woke Up This Morning details...

Released September 2012 - "Ladies & Gentlemen...Mr. B.B. King" comes in 2 forms - a 4CD Box Set and a 10CD version - and to confuse matters both are rather lazily given the same title. The 10-disc Box Set is catalogue number Universal 0600753384992 (Barcode 600753384992) - while this review is for the 4CD version on Universal 0600753390863 (Barcode 600753390863) and that set breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (1949-1964) - 77:67 minutes:
1. Miss Martha King (1949 USA 78" on Bullet 309, A)
2. When You Baby Packs Up And Goes (1949 USA 78" on Bullet 309, B-side to "Miss Martha King")
3. B.B. Boogie (1950 USA 78" on RPM 304, A)
4. She's Dynamite (1951 USA 78" on RPM 323, A)
5. Three O'Clock Blues (1951, USA 7" single on RPM 349, A)
6. Woke Up This Morning (1953, RPM 380, A)
7. Blind Love (1953, RPM 395, A)
8 When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer (1954, RPM 412, A)
9. You Upset Me Baby (1954, RPM 416, A)
10. Ten Long Years (1955, RPM 437, A)
11. Bad Luck (1956, RPM 468, A)
12. Troubles, Troubles, Troubles (1957, RPM 492, A)
13. Early In The Morning (1957, RPM 492, A)
14. Everyday I Have The Blues (1959, Kent 327, A)
15. (I've) Got A Right To Love My Baby (1960, Kent 333, A)
16. It's My Own Fault (1960, Kent 333, B-side to "(I've) Got A Right To Love My Baby")
17. Walking Dr. Bill (1960, Kent 350, A)
18. Rock Me Baby (1964, Kent 393, A)
19. You Ask Me (1962, ABC-Paramount 10316, A - and the US LP "Mr. Blues" on ABC-Paramount ABC-456)
20. Blues At Midnight (1962, ABC-Paramount 10334, A - and the US LP "Mr. Blues" on ABC-Paramount ABC-456)
21. Sneakin' Around (1963, ABC-Paramount 10361, A - and the US LP "Mr. Blues" on ABC-Paramount ABC-456)
22. How Blue Can You Get? (1964, ABC-Paramount 10527, A)
23. I Wonder Why - PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED September 1963 Recording
24. Please Accept My Love (1964, ABC-Paramount 10527, B-side of "How Blue Can You Get?")
25. Help The Poor (1964, ABC-Paramount 10552, A)
26. Never Trust A Woman (1964, ABC-Paramount 10599, A)

Disc 2 (1964-1969) - 76:53 minutes:
1. Everyday I Have The Blues (Live)
2. Sweet Little Angel (Live)
3. Please Love Me (Live) - Tracks 1 to 3 from the 1965 USA LP "Live At The Regal" on ABC-Paramount ABC-509
4. All Over Again (1965, ABC-Paramount 10724, A - also on the 1968 US LP "His Best/The Electric B.B. King" on Bluesway BLS 6022)
5. Tired On Your Jive (1965, ABC-Paramount 10675, A - also on the 1968 US LP "His Best/The Electric B.B. King" on Bluesway BLS 6022)
6. Cherry Red (from the 1966 US LP "Confessin' The Blues" on ABC-Paramount ABC-528)
7. Don't Answer The Door, Parts 1&2 (1966, ABC 10856, A - also on the 1968 US LP "His Best/The Electric B.B. King" on Bluesway BLS 6022)
8. Night Life (1966, ABC 10889, A)
9. Gambler's Blues (Live) (from the 1967 US LP "Blues Is King" on Bluesway BLS 6001)
10. Sweet Sixteen, Parts 1&2 (1967, Bluesway 61012, A&B-sides)
11. Worried Dream (1967, Bluesway 61007, A)
12. Paying The Cost To Be The Boss (1968, Bluesway 61015, A - also on the US LP "Blues On Top Of Blues" on Bluesway BLS 6011)
13. Watch Yourself
14. Lucille - tracks 13 and 14 are both from the 1968 US LP "Lucille" on Bluesway BLS 6016)
15. Why I Sing The Blues (1969, Bluesway 61024, A - also on the 1969 US LP "Live And Well" on Bluesway BLS 6031)
16. Confessin' The Blues (1969, Bluesway 61035, B-side of "So Excited" - also on the 1969 US LP "Completely Well" on Bluesway BLS 6037)
17. The Thrill Is Gone (1969, Bluesway 61032, A - also on the 1969 US LP "Completely Well" on Bluesway BLS 6037)

Disc 3 (1970-1983) - 73:57 minutes:
1. Nobody Loves Me But My Mother (1970, ABC 11290, A - also on the LP "Indianola Mississippi Seeds" on ABC Records ABC-713)
2. Chains And Things (1970, ABC 11280, A - also on the LP "Indianola Mississippi Seeds" on ABC Records ABC-713)
3. Hummingbird (1970, ABC 11268, A - also on the LP "Indianola Mississippi Seeds" on ABC Records ABC-713)
4. Worry, Worry (Live) (from the 1971 LP "Live At Cook County Jail" on ABC Records ABC 723)
5. Ghetto Woman (1971, ABC 11310, A - also on the 1971 LP "In London" on ABC Records ABC-730)
6. Ain't Nobody Home (1971, ABC 11316, A - also on the 1971 LP "In London" on ABC Records ABC-730)
7. Guess Who (1972, ABC 11330, A - also on the 1972 LP "Guess Who" on ABC Records ABC 759)
8. I Like To Live The Love (1973, ABC 11406, A - also on the 1973 LP "To Know You Is To Love You" on ABC Records ABCX-794)
9. Lucille Talks Back
10. Don't Make Me Pay For His Mistakes - tracks 9 and 10 from the 1975 LP "Lucille Talks Back" on ABC Records ABCD 898
11. Let The Good Times Roll (Live) (1976, ABC-Impulse 31006, A - also on the 1976 2LP Bobby Bland and B.B. King set "Together Again...Live" on ABC Records ASD 9317)
12. Mother Fuyer (from the 1977 LP "King Size" on ABC Records AB 977)
13. When It All Comes Down (I'll Still Be Around) (from the 1978 LP "Midnight Believer" on ABC Records AA 1061)
14. Better Not Look Down (1979, MCA 41062, A - also on the 1979 LP "Take It Home" on MCA Records MCA 3151)
15. There Must Be A Better World Somewhere (1981, MCA 51101, A - also on the 1981 LP "There Must Be A Better World Somewhere" on MCA Records MCA 5162)
16. Nightlife/Please Send Me Someone To Love (from the 1982 LP "Love Me Tender" on MCA Records MCA 5307)
17. Make Love To Me (from the 1983 LP "Blues `N' Jazz" on MCA Records MCA 27119)

Disc 4 (1984-2008) - 79:20 minutes:
1. Into The Night (1985, MCA 52530, A - also on the 1985 LP "Six Silver Strings" on MCA Records MCA 5616)
2. When Love Comes To Town [credited as U2 with B.B. KING] (1988, Island 7-99225, A - also on the U2 1988 double-album "Rattle And Hum" on Island 91003)
3. Take Off Your Shoes (from the 1989 LP "King Of The Blues: 1989" on MCA Records MCAD 42183)
4. I'm Moving On
5. There Is Always One More Time - tracks 4 and 5 from 1991 album "There Is Always One More Time" on MCA Records MCAD 10295)
6. Monday Morning Blues (Blues For Mr. G) (from the 1991 album "Garfield: Am I Cool Or What?" on GRP Records GRD 9641)
7. Playin' With My Friends [with ROBERT CRAY] (from the 1993 album "Blues Summit" on MCA Records MCA 10710)
8. Confessin' The Blues (from the 1997 album "Deuces Wild" on MCA Records MCA 11711)
9. Blues Man
10. I'll Survive - tracks 9 and 10 from the 1998 album "Blues On The Bayou" on MCA Records MCA 11879)
11. Caldonia
12. Ain't That Just Like A Woman - tracks 11 and 12 from the 1999 album "Let The Good Times Roll: The Music Of Louis Jordan" on MCA Records 088 112 042)
13. Monday Woman (from the 1999 album "Makin' Love Is Good For You" on MCA Records 088 112 241)
14. Ten Long Years [ERIC CLAPTON with B.B. KING] (from the 2000 album "Riding With The King" on Reprise 9 47612-2)
15. Early In The Morning [with VAN MORRISON] (from the 2005 album "80" on Geffen B0005263-02)
16. Key To The Highway (Live) (from the 2006 album "Live" on Geffen B0009770-02)
17. See That Grave Is Kept Clean (from the 2008 album "One Kind Favor" on Geffen B0011791-02)

The 8 x 10" shaped Black Box Set cuts a classy dash as does the 64-page Hardback Book on the inside. ASHLEY KAHN (Music Journalist and author of a book on "Kind Of Blue" by Miles Davis) provides us with an affectionate and informative introduction to the Blues Legend on Pages 1 to 13 - while Pages 14 to 40 are taken up with a "B.B. King Recording Career" assessment by DICK SHURMAN (Grammy-Winning Producer and Blues Historian). The text is peppered throughout with beautifully rendered black and white and colour photos from varying stages in his life, concert tickets, American concert posters, there's a shot of an enamoured Bono of U2 on stage with our Hero and there's even a repro photo of that rare 78" on Bullet from 1949. Pages 42 through to the end give a very detailed track-by-track breakdown - musicians, writers, times, vinyl and CD credits etc. Each of the CDs is housed in a period photo card sleeve with all four sitting in a centre hollow.

The entire set has been compiled by two experienced names in quality reissues - BILL LEVENSON and ANDY McKAIE. The audio rocks too. ELIOT KISSILEFF carried out the tape transfers while SETH FOSTER did the mastering - and the remasters as you can imagine are superb throughout (Disc 4 features beautifully recorded tracks anyway). The first few sides are dubbed from 78" so have crackle - but much of the RPM, Kent and ABC-Paramount tapes are clearly in great shape.

The historic 78"s cease crackling by the time the mournful "Three O'Clock Blues" kicks in on Track 5, Disc 1. "Woke Up This Morning" gives us some excellent bopping R'n'B - followed by two more RPM nuggets "Blind Love" and the mooching "When My Heart Beat Like A Hammer". Up next is surely one of the fan's faves - the witty "You Upset My Baby" with its "twenty eight in the waist...forty-four in the hips..." lyrics - and it still sounds cool a full sixty years after the event. By the time you get the Sixties ABC-Paramount material like "Blues At Midnight" and "Sneakin' Around" - the Production values go through the roof - these tracks sounding just amazing even if his guitar style is a tad drowned out by huge amounts of brass-band backing.

Disc 2 opens with a trio from the legendary "Live At The Regal Theatre" set which Mobile Fidelity once give the Gold CD treatment too ("Sweet Little Angel" sounds particularly awesome as do the screams of the little girls eager to get at B.B. when he saucily sings about "spreading her wings..."). One of the great things about Box sets like this is the discoveries - and one of them is the Stereo take of "All Over Again" - a forgotten mid-tempo piece about "letters in the morning" and "being better off dead" - the audio quality on this track alone is fabulous (lovely guitar licks too). He goes deep Blues on his cover of Joe Turner's "Cherry Red" and Britain's Fleetwood Mac must surely have had the slow shuffle-cymbals-and-echoed-guitar Blues of "Don't Answer The Door Parts 1 & 2" on repeat play in some London bedsit.

Disc 3 starts with the Seventies and it's easy to hear why three tracks appear from the wickedly good "Indianola Mississippi Seeds" LP (on Probe Records in the UK). One of my all time craves is "Chains And Things" - picked off the album as a 7" single in the UK on Probe PRO 516 in February 1971 (with "King's Special" on the B-side). The A is a slinky almost Steely Dan "Do It Again" vibe which features no less than Carole King on Piano - it's brilliant. The other choice is "Hummingbird" written by Leon Russell and featuring its creator on Piano with Joe Walsh on Rhythm Guitar (James Gang, Eagles). Other interesting cuts include the Instrumental "Lucille Talks Back" and his stab at Funk in "Mother Fuyer". The Soulful strings of "Ghetto Woman" and brassy swagger of Jerry Ragovoy's "Ain't Nobody Home" come from the "In London" album which featured a huge array of talent - Gary Wright of Spooky Tooth on Keyboards, Dr. John on Piano, Bobby Keys (of The Rolling Stones) on saxophone with Klaus Voorman on bass (of "Revolver" fame") and Ringo Starr (of some Liverpool band) on Drums. "When It All Comes Down (I'll Still Be Around)" features Joe sample of The Crusaders with "Make Love To Me" ending Disc 3 in a shuffling Jazz/R'n'B fashion (sensational Production and the band cooking).

What I wasn't expecting was the quality of Disc 4 - the later stuff. Excluding a terrible Eighties production on "Into The Night" (opening track) - from "When Love Comes To Town" onwards its good all the way with an array of famous names contributing excellence - Robert Cray, Marty Stewart, Dr. John, Arthur Adam, Joe Sample, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and of course Ireland's U2. "Confessin' The Blues" is particularly chunky (Marty Stewart on Guitar and Vocals with Bill Payne of Little Feat on Keyboards) while Van Morrison puts in a spirited performance on the Traditional "Early In The Morning". Joe Sample of The Crusaders (sadly passed away recently) contributed "I'm Moving On" to that album while Arthur Adam plays guitar on the cut. One of the best true Blues tunes on the whole box is "There Is Always One More Time" - beautifully produced by Stewart Levine. Dr. John plays piano on the two Louis Jordan cover versions and turns up again on the Blind Lemon Jefferson/Furry Lewis CD finisher "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean". It's an impressive way to end the Box - still doing it after all these years and endless decades...

Some consider him a lightweight in terms of playing technique - some feel his live stuff far outweighs the recorded - but whatever you look at B.B. King - this is a lovingly crafted Box Set that deserves several listens in order to appreciate the sheer breath of his recording career.

Aged 89 in 2015 - B.B. King is still with us - still doing it - still playing the Blues. And that in itself is a testament to his incredible musical career. "I'll Survive" - he sings - ain't that the truth...


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