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Mark Barry "Mark Barry" (London)

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Ain't Living Long Like This / But What Will The Neighbors Think
Ain't Living Long Like This / But What Will The Neighbors Think
Price: £11.99

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4.0 out of 5 stars "...Like A Breeze Dying Down..." - Ain't Living Long Like This/But What Will The Neighbors Think/Rodney Crowell (2015 Remasters), 30 Jun. 2015
Over the last two years – England’s Beat Goes On Records having been dipping their dainty Blighty toes in the muddy waters of Country and Country-Rock with CD reissue successes like The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dan Fogelberg, Guy Clark, Linda Ronstadt, George Jones, Charley Pride, George Jones and many others. So it was always going to be the turn of tunesmith and Grammy Award winner Rodney Crowell next...and once again BGO have done a bang-up job.

Like John Hiatt, John Prine and Karla Bonoff – Texan RODNEY CROWELL is the kind of singer-songwriter that sees his songs covered by serious names like Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and lifelong friend and serial Texan Troubadour – Guy Clark. Even Norah Jones and The Grateful Dead have had a goat Crowell songs. This newly remastered 2015 2CD reissue offers up three albums from his Warner Brothers years - 1978, 1980 and 1981. Here are the American Dreams by way of a New Orleans Bar and a Louisiana Honky Tonk...

UK released June 2015 – "Ain't Living Long Like This/But What Will The Neighbors Think/Rodney Crowell" on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1188 (Barcode 5017261211880) features 3 albums on 2CDs and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (38:56 minutes):
1. Elvira
2. (Now And Then, There's) A Fool Such As I
3. Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight
4. Viola, An American Dream
5. I Ain’t Living Long Like This
6. Baby, Better Start Turnin' Em Down [Side 2]
7. Song For The Life
8. I Thought I Heard You Callin' My Name
9. California Earthquake (A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On)
Tracks 1 to 9 are the studio album "Ain't Living Long Like This" – released September 1978 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3228 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56564

Disc 2 (74:16 minutes):
1. Here Comes The 80's
2. Ain't No Money
3. Oh, What A Feeling
4. It's Only Rock 'n' Roll
5. On A Real Good Night
6. Ashes By Now
7. Heartbroke
8. Queen Of Hearts
9. Blues In The Daytime
10. The One About England
Tracks 1 to 10 are the studio album "But What Will The Neighbors Think" – April 1980 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3407 and in Europe on Warner Brothers WB 56 778

11. Stars On The Water
12. Just Wanta Dance
13. She Ain't Going Nowhere
14. Don't Need No Other Now
15. Shame On The Moon
16. Only Tow Hearts
17. Victim Of A Fool
18. All You’ve Got To Do
19. 'Til I Gain Control Again
20. Old Pipeliner
Tracks 11 to 20 are the studio album "Rodney Crowell" – released September 1981 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3587 and in Europe on Warner Brothers WB 56 934

There's a card slipcase, a chunky 22-page booklet with full musician and recording credits, lyrics to all three records and superb new liner notes by noted writer JOHN O’REGAN. The 2015 remasters have been newly done by ANDREW THOMPSON at Sound Mastering in London and are beautifully transferred – fully showing up the quality Production values that each album received. Even the 2nd record that admittedly sounds the most 80s of the three (and unfortunately not in a good way) – has benefitted from the sonic upgrades (even if the tunes aren’t as good as albums 1 and 3). It’s another exemplary job done by BGO...

The 1978 album "Ain't Living Long Like This" has a very impressive line-up of backing musicians and big names – Dr. John plays Keyboards on "Elvira", "Viola, An American Dream" and "California Earthquake", Willie Nelson sings on "Song For The Life", Ry Cooder plays his trademark Slide on "Elvira" while Emmylou Harris adds sweet complimentary backing vocals to "Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight", "Viola, An American Dream" and "I Ain't Living Long Like This". Other notables include Vocals by Nicolette Larson, Guitars by James Burton, Fiddle and Vocals by Ricky Scaggs, Guitars, Keyboards and Vocals by Albert Lee, Guitars by Amos Garrett and Michael Raphael on Harmonica.

It opens with the slinky "Elvira" – a lurching Bluesy tale where our hero wants to find the preacher man to join him and his heavenly "Elvira" together in steamy matrimony (great fun). Crowell then does a languid cover of Dallas Frazier's "(Now And Then, There's) A Fool Such As I" which of course was a huge Elvis Presley hit. Crowell's version is less Pop and more pure C&W feel (Burton contributes a sweet acoustic solo). But Crowell’s first great song comes in the shape of the shuffling "Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight" – a tale about Mary who took to running with a travelling man – joining the highway – gone mama forever. I first heard "Viola, An American Dream" on Guy Clark's self-titled 3rd album "Guy Clark" that came out in May 1978 also on Warner Brothers (they’ve been lifelong friends). Clark took the Jamaican rhythms out of it – but Crowell’s version keeps them – and even though that might sound like some awful mind-meld of Calypso meets Country – it works so well – in fact it’s the kind of album song that you keep coming back to when you know you shouldn’t. The funky keyboards of "Baby, Better Start Turnin' Em Down" open Side 2 – but far better is the lovely ballad "Song For The Life" (lyrics from it title this review) – as sweet a tune as he's ever penned. We then gets a pure Country cover of Lee Emerson's "I Thought I Heard You Callin' My Name" with Ricky Scaggs and James Burton giving it some Fiddle and Guitar while Emory Gordy, Albert Lee and Larry Willoughby provided those aching backing vocals where someone sounds like they’re going to die of heartbreak any second (" now you were many miles away..."). Albert Lee's Mandolin makes "California Earthquake".

After the tunes-fest of the first LP – you have to say that the Craig Leon Produced second LP "But What Will The Neighbors Think" comes (mostly) as a disappointment. First it goes more Bright Pop than Soulful Country ("Ain't No Money" and "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll") and much of Side 1 feels cheesy but not in a good way. Things improve a lot with the single "Ashes By Now" and his version of Guy Clark's "Heartbroke". I loved Dave Edmunds cover of Hank Devito's "Queen Of Hearts" on his 1979 Swan Song album "Repeat When Necessary” – here we hear it in pretty much the same vein. The Bluesy boogie and echoed-vocals of "Blues In The Daytime" gives the album a shot of long-needed mojo and swagger - but the day is saved by the finishing ballad "The One About England" about Mary and Caroline in Notting Hill near Ladbroke Gate. Crowell gives it some clever Simon & Garfunkel vocals towards the end of the song that gives the tune an American longing for the colourful streets of London.

The 3rd and final album for Warner Brothers almost broke the top 100 in September 1981 but stalled at 105. As if knowing the previous album wasn’t quite up to muster – "Stars On The Water" opens "Rodney Crowell" with a real chugging presence - Vince Gill does a great Guitar solo while Roseanna Cash and Albert Lee provide the sweet backing vocals. Crowell rocks it out big time with "Just Wanta Dance" where the combo of Hank DeVito and Richard Bennett on zippy-lick Guitars join forces with Booker T. Jones on Organ and the Memphis Horns. We're in Lyle Lovett territory on the lovely "She Ain't Going Nowhere" where his vocals are a force to be reckoned with (lovely guitar solo from Albert Lee). "Shame On The Moon" is another winner – cleverly arranged and beautifully produced – the kind of tune you could listen to again and again and not tire of it. The old heartstrings get tugged again on "'Til I Gain Control Again" where he pines for a woman he knows he can’t have (none of us have ever done this so we won’t understand what Rodders is on about). It ends on a bopper "Old Pipeliner".

The 3rd album is very, very good as is the 1st and makes up volumes for the slight slip up inbetween. A quality reissue from Beats Goes On and fans will love the gorgeous audio...

The Captain's Journey / Feel The Night / Rio
The Captain's Journey / Feel The Night / Rio
Price: £11.99

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5.0 out of 5 stars "...Sure Feels Fine..." - The Captain's Journey/Feel The Night/Rio by LEE RITENOUR (2015 Beat Goes On 2CD Remasters), 28 Jun. 2015
Beat Goes On of the UK has already whetted the appetites of Lee Ritenour fans in 2014 by reissuing his 1976 debut album "First Course" (on Epic Records) last year on BGOCD 1163 (see separate review). And like that classy start – this follow-through 2015 2CD set gives us three albums on Elektra Records from 1978 and two from 1979. Here are the funky kicks and zippy licks...

UK released June 2015 – "The Captain's Journey/Feel The Night/Rio" by LEE RITENOUR on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1189 (Barcode 5017261211897) puts 3 albums onto 2CDs and pans out as follows:

Disc 1 (38:46 minutes):
1. The Captain's Journey – Part 1: The Calm, Part 2: The Storm
2. Morning Glory
3. Sugarloaf Express
4. Matchmakers [Side 2]
5. What Do You Want?
6. That’s Enough For Me
7. Etude
Tracks 1 to 7 are the studio album "The Captain's Journey" – released August 1978 in the USA on Elektra 6E-136 and in the UK on Elektra K 52094

Disc 2 (75:44 minutes):
1. Feel The Night
2. Market Place
3. Wicked Wine
4. French Roast [Side 2]
5. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing
6. Midnight Lady
7. Uh Oh!
Tracks 1 to 7 are the studio album "Feel The Night" – released January 1979 in the USA on Elektra 6E-192 and in the UK on Elektra K 52141

8. Rio Funk
9. San Juan Sunset
10. Rainbow
11. A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That [Side 2]
12. Simplicidad
13. Ipanema Sol
14. It Happens Every Day
Tracks 8 to 14 are the studio album "Rio". It was initially released in Japan entitled "Lee Ritenour In Rio" on JVC Records VIJ-6321 – but was re-sequenced and re-titled "Rio" in 1982 and reissued on Elektra E1-60024 in the USA and on Elektra K 52350 in the UK. This CD uses the 1982 configuration of tracks. To sequence the 1979 Japanese original use tracks 10, 9 and 8 as Side 1 with 14, 13, 12 and 11 being Side 2.

There’s the usual card slipcase, a 20-page booklet with full musician and recording credits and new liner notes from Mojo's resident Jazz columnist CHARLES WARING that include a new interview with Ritenour especially for this release. Co-Produced by Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin - and with maestro Bernie Grundman mastering the records in most cases – it comes as no surprise that the remastered CDs (done by ANDREW THOMPSON at Sound Mastering in London in 2015) sound utterly amazing – stunning musicianship and audio pyrotechnics ahoy. These are warm recordings where all the instruments get heard with Ritenour’s amazing guitar fret-scaling taking centre-stage on the mostly instrumental tracks.

Beloved by fans as a bit of masterpiece when it comes to Soulful Jazz Fusion - "The Captain's Journey" album featured a virtual smorgasbord of world-class session-player celebrities – Steve Gadd on Drums, Paulinho Da Costa and Steve Forman on Percussion, Anthony Jackson and Abraham Laboriel on Bass, Dave Grusin and Patrice Rushen on Keyboards, Dave Valentin on Flute, Ernie Watts on Saxophones, Jay Graydon on Guitars and special guests Patti Austin and Bill Champlin on Lead and Backing Vocals.

"Morning Glory" is probably the most commercially-funky tune on the album – Bill Champlin (of the band Sons Of Champlin) does the honours on Lead Vocals while Steve Gadd plays Drums, Abraham Laboriel slaps the Bass, Jay Graydon plucks Rhythm Guitar and Dave Grusin hits the keys on his Fender Rhodes Electric Piano. It's a wickedly catchy groove and wouldn't be amiss on say George Benson's "Give Me The Night". It was edited down to 3:57 minutes and put on a 45 in the USA (Elektra E-45511) with "Sugarloaf Express" as its flip (amazing they didn't use the full album cut at 5:53 minutes as a Promo 12" – but alas). Another audiophile winner is the slinky "That's Enough For Me" where Patti Austin and Tom Baylor add those crucial backing vocals giving the whole Funk, Guitar and Strings feel a bottom end that is dancefloor friendly (Austin co-wrote the song with Dave Grusin). The album ends on the gorgeous acoustic guitar of Grusin's "Etude" which oozes Spain by the Sea with a breeze in your face and a Marguerita in your hand (Grusin also wrote "What Do You Want?").

Ritenour went hell-for-leather towards the emerging Funk market with the "Feel The Night" album as is evidenced by the opener – a guitar boogie that aims for the dancefloor as well as the lobes. Ace-axeman Steve Lukather and keyboard whizz David Foster join him on the upbeat "Wicked Wine" while Crusader keyboardist Joe Sample puts in an appearance on the Latin-flavoured brass-funk of "French Roast" (wicked sound quality). But no matter how jolly and upbeat it may be - I can't listen to "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" because I think of the hideous Leo Sayer original. Better is "Midnight Lady" - a really pretty acoustic smoocher where Ritenour plays the classical guitar with warmth and lovely feeling. It finishes on the dancefloor bells and whistles funk of "Uh Oh!" - where our Lee has clearly been absorbing The Crusaders before they released "Street Life" and thinking – I'll have me some of that.

Although he goes entirely acoustic for the "Rio" album - slap-bass opens "Rio Funk" where our hero sounds more like The Brothers Johnson than Lee Ritenour. He then hits you with a superb cover of Deodato's "San Juan Sunset". Again he surprises you with the mellow soft-shoe-shuffle of "Rainbow" which he gives a Brazilian groove. He makes the acoustic somehow sound like Jazz electric guitar on "A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That" (Dave Grusin does a lovely Keyboard solo). But my fave track is a tune I've adored for decades – Joe Sample's ballad "It Happens Every Day" which he debuted on the Crusaders' "Free As The Wind" LP in 1977 on ABC Records. Ritenour simply plays the lovely piano runs on a gut-string acoustic – and with Ernie Watts on Soprano Sax – it's as sweet as mellow Jazz Fusion gets.

Beat Goes On are getting damn good at this quality reissue malarkey. Fans should not hesitate for a moment...and the inquisitive should just dive right in...

Keep A Hold On Him! More Garpax Girls
Keep A Hold On Him! More Garpax Girls
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Shoes And Rice And Paradise..." - Keep A Hold On Him: More Garpax Girls (2015 Ace Records CD Remasters), 28 Jun. 2015
In May 2004 Ace Records of the UK released their first CD dealing with Producer GARY S PAXTON and his plethora of Sixties Girl Groups on his Garpax Label (none of which charted) – it was called "Boy Trouble: Garpax Girls" (Ace CDCHD 1005). Eleven years later we now get "Keep A Hold On Him: More Garpax Girls" – a second volume concentrating on his earlier 1960-1964 recordings – most with an R&B slant.

Of the 24 tracks offered – six are Previously Unreleased Garpax Records (2 Demos) and 5 others are Alternate Takes (some in Stereo) while the rest make up uber-rare American 45s. More famous for one-off novelty records like "Alley Oop" by The Hollywood Argyles and "Monster Mash" by Bobby 'Boris' Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers (don’t you just love that name) – Paxton had also produced a young Thelma Houston on secular albums she made with Capitol Records. What we get here is more akin however to West Coast 60ts R&B – and typically – Ace have uncovered some gems and interviewed a bunch of the Sixties Femmes involved – clearing up recording mysteries of decades. Here are the lucky ladies...

UK released May 2015 (June 2015 in the USA) – "Keep A Hold On Him: More Garpax Girls" by Various Artists on Ace Records CDCHD 1442 (Barcode 029667072120) is a 24-track CD compilation and pans out as follows (55:08 minutes):

1. Just A Little Bit More – THE IDOLS (1961 USA 7” single on Reveille M-1002, Reissued Dot 16210, A)
2. Losing Control – MARY SAXTON (1966 Canadian 7” single on Pace 18-1166, A)
3. Keep A Hold On Him – BEATRICE LEE (1962 USA 7” single on Kent 385, A)
4. It Feels So Good – GRANT & APRIL [Grant Taylor and April Lynn] (2015 Alternate Mix of a 1964 USA 7” single on Dee Dee 1013)
5. I Was The Lonely One – DORIS WEBB (1962 USA 7” single on Star-Burst 121, A)
6. Day Dreamin’ Of You – THE FASHIONETTES (Stereo Mix of 1964 USA 7” single on GNP Crescendo GNP 322, A)
7. Little Girl With A Big Hurt – BEVERLY WILLIAMS (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
8. It Just Ain’t Right – LINDA MACKEY (Alternate Mix of Dot 16625)
9. He’s Not Mine Anymore – JOSEPHINE SUNDAY (1964 USA 7” single on Pinnacle 1722)
10. You Know You Lied – DOROTHY BERRY & THE SWANS (1961 USA 7” single on Vanco V-101)
11. It Kinda Picks Me Up – TANYA MARIE (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
12. Only Love – THE FASHIONETTES (Stereo Mix of 1964 USA 7” single on GNP Crescendo GNP 322, B)
13. A Tear – MARY SAXTON (Alternate Mix of a track on the Canadian LP "Sad Eyes" on Birchmount BM 511)
14. Operator Operator – BEATRICE LEE (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
15. Merry Go Round – LINDA MACKEY (2015 Alternate Mix of a 1964 USA 7” single on Dot 16625)
16. Yosemite Sam – JUDY & THE JADES (1963 USA 7” single on Star-Burst 58-124)
17. Shoes And Rice And Paradise – THE REV-LONS (Previously Unreleased Demo Recording, 2015)
18. I Won’t Be Hurt Anymore – JOSEPHINE SUNDAY (1964 USA 7” single on Pinnacle 1722)
19. It’s A Lonely World – MARY SAXTON (Alternate Mix of a track on the Canadian LP "Sad Eyes" on Birchmount BM 511)
20. Help Me – BEATRICE LEE (1962 USA 7” single on Kent 385)
21. Reap What You Sow – LINDA MACKEY (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
22. Please Write Me A Letter – CHRIS DARLIN (1960 USA 7” single on Dore 578)
23. Why Must I Cry – THE IDOLS (1961 USA 7” single on Reveille M-1002, Reissued Dot 16210, B)
24. He's Hurtin' Me – BEVERLY WILLIAMS (Previously Unissued Garpax Recording, 2015)
All tracks are MONO except 6, 7 and 12 which are STEREO
Tracks 4, 8, 13, 15 and 19 are 'Alternate Versions' - Tracks 7, 11, 14, 17, 21 and 24 are Previously Unissued Recordings (17 and 24 are Demos)

The 16-page booklet has recollections from Beatrice Lee, Beverly Williams, Dorothy Berry, Linda Mackey and Rachel Hernandez (of The Rev-Lons) – so the facts and personal details come thick, fast and interesting. Inbetween the typically affectionate ALEC PALAO liner notes are personal photos – studio photos of Gary S Paxton with Beverly Williams and a cool 1970 picture sleeve of Linda Mackey holding a submachine gun for the reissue sleeve of "Yours For The Asking". There’s 45s for Star-Burst, Pinnacle and Dee Dee Records as well as a newspaper clipping for Chris Darlin aged 18 looking pucker as she waves her court-ruling document on a singing contract. The remasters are by NICK ROBBINS and all sound great – even the lo-fi demos – which are included I suspect because of the sheer feel.

The compilation is a strange mix of Soul and Girl Groups and for the most part it works well. It opens strongly – both sides of THE IDOLS are crackers especially "Why Must I Cry". Northern Soul hounds will no doubt have noticed with a bit of sweaty-palm excitement the fabulous driving grooves of Mary Saxton's "Losing Control" where the lady sounds like Tina Turner on the verge of a vocal breakdown. It's a fabulous dancer written by Gary Paxton and his wife Jan and I can’t imagine how much money the original Canadian 45 goes for amongst aficionados. Her second cut on here "A Tear" is more akin to Dusty Springfield and is good rather than being great. Linda Mackey was a high-school majorette possessed of a natural set of pipes – so much so that Ike Turner once propositioned her mum for hours on the phone to join Tina, him and The Ikettes on the road - but Linda was underage at the time and mummy wisely said no. Both of Mackey's cuts on here "It Just Ain't Right" and "Merry Go Round" have a 'Northern Soul discovery' feeling about them.

Another Motown-ish bopper is "Operator Operator" by Beatrice Lee who provides two lovely photos for the booklet of her younger self in 1962 and 1965. A talent-show winner at age 12 – she packs a vocal punch too. Pure theatrics kick in with "Yosemite Sam" complete with opening gunshots while Judy and The Jades tell us about the wild-west rip-roaring man of their dreams. Innocence profound and pure Girl Group listening pleasure shows up in the form of a lovely demo of "Shoes And Rice And Paradise" by The Rev-Lons (genre collectors will love this). Continuing the pretty is the sweet voice of Josephine Sunday in the pleader "I Won't Be Hurt Anymore" – a genre classic that mixes some male vocal group backing with lady spoken lyrics (very nice indeed). Mary Saxton gets a fantastic second outing in the Motown-ish "It's A Lonely World" – an alternate version that sounds fresh and cool. Beatrice Lee's "Help Me" is more early Soul than Girl Group and again you feel a Kent CD compilation beckons. It ends on a revealing demo of "He's Hurtin' Me" by Beverly Williams – it’s just her voice and a guitar and it’s amazingly touching – raw and real. A nice way to go out...

I don’t think its all genius but there’s enough for both Girl Group and 60ts R&B Soul hunters to devour. Another winner from Ace...

Relayer [CD/DVD-A] [Remastered]
Relayer [CD/DVD-A] [Remastered]
Price: £14.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...One To Seek And See In Every Light..." - Relayer: Definitive Edition CD+DVD-A by YES (2014 Panegyric/Steve Wilson Remaster), 27 Jun. 2015
After the incredible tape transfer and audio restoration work STEVE WILSON of PORCUPINE TREE did on the early catalogue remasters of KING CRIMSON and JETHRO TULL – the other big Proggy Monster was always going to be YES. I've heaped praise on Wilson's fabulous work on their 3rd breakthrough album from 1971 "The Yes Album" – but for many the beast was always going to be the dense and problematic "Relayer" from 1974 (for many their last truly great record). And as I deliriously stated before - man has our Stevie stepped up to the Topographic plate. This November 2014 CD and DVD-A Reissue (there’s also a CD and BLU RAY variant on Panegyric GYRBD50096 –Barcode 633367900623) is awesome stuff and worthy of the praise so far heaped on it. No harm then in a little more – because this is one 'Sound Chaser' you need in your 'Gates Of Delirium'…

UK released November 2014 – "Relayer: Definitive Edition CD + DVD-A" on Panegyric GYRSP50096 (Barcode 633367900524) breaks down as follows:

Disc 1, Definitive Edition CD, 2014 Stereo Mixes, 48:13 minutes:
1. The Gates Of Delirium
2. Sound Chaser [Side 2]
3. To Be Over
Tracks 1 to 3 are the vinyl LP "Relayer" – released December 1974 in the UK on Atlantic K 50096 and Atlantic SD 18122 in the USA

4. Soon (Single Edit) – issued as the A-side of a 7" single in the USA on Atlantic 45-3242 in January 1975. It runs to 4:14 minutes and is an excerpt of a slow passage towards the end of "The Gates Of Delirium" on Side 1. The edited "Sound Chaser" was its B-side.
5. Sound Chaser (Single Edit)
Note: Booklet mistakenly credits these as Tracks 7 and 8 when they’re 4 and 5. The two single edits appear to be the 2002 Rhino remasters (unaltered).

Disc 2 is the Definitive Edition DVD-A. It’s a NTSC Region 0 Hybrid DVD-A compatible with all DVD Players and DVD-ROM Drives. From the visual/audio menu on your television or computer - it allows you to choose from 4 menus:
1. 2014 STEREO MIX:
96 kHz Sample Rate/24 Bit Depth - MLP Lossless 2.0 Stereo Mix of the album

48 and 96 kHz Sample Rates/24 Bit Depth – LPCM 2.0 Original Stereo Mix (Flat Transfer of the album)

3. 2014 5.1 SURROUND MIX:
96 kHz Sample Rate/24 Bit Depth - DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Mix of the album

1. The Gates Of Delirium (Studio Run-Through)
2. Sound Chaser (Studio Run-Through)
3. To Be Over (Studio Run-Through)

A gatefold digipak with two see-through trays is housed within an outer card wrap/slipcase giving the reissue the same 'boxed' look as the two other Reissues in this Steve Wilson Remaster Series - "The Yes Album" and "Close To The Edge". It looks and feels classy - although I’d say that the spine on future issues should state more clearly which 'Definitive Edition' it is – CD and DVD or CD and BLU RAY?

CD to the left tray, DVD-A to the right and the 20-page booklet loose between them – each disc pictures the albums original ROGER DEAN label artwork - while the album’s inner gatefold is beneath the see-through tray for the CD with the Donald Lehmkuhl poem under the DVD-A tray to the left. The well-stocked 20-page booklet offers photos of rare 7” picture sleeves from France, Spain and US promo labels dotted through the text - as well as a lot of colour photos from the 1976 American "Relayer" Tour with the Crab Nebula set design by Martyn Dean. There are clusters of concert tickets, local posters for gigs (with Gryphon as the support act) and a Village Voice trade advert thanking Madison Square Gardens for a successful show. Lyrics are reproduced and there are detailed paragraphs on the 'audio sources' that explain how the new 2014 Stereo Mixes were made (some of the Battle sound effects in "The Gates Of Delirium" are missing from the master tapes) and the 5.1 Surround Mixes. As with "The Yes Album" and "Close To The Edge" – noted Prog Music lover and Writer SID SMITH gives us superb liner notes on the creation of the album. The artwork for the original vinyl album alone was a thing of beauty (gatefold sleeve and inner) - and cleverly both the booklet and the onscreen display for the DVD-A use a Roger Dean painting that wasn’t used on the original inner gatefold – a sort of squatting Relayer 'Fly' that bears a passing resemblance to the Fly creature that used to adorn the Motown Chartbuster LP covers of the early Seventies. Apart from that sloppy typo-error in the booklet re the track numbers on the CD - it’s all exemplary stuff…

Because of its density (particularly the near 20-minute opus "The Gates Of Delirium" on Side 1) – Yes's 8th studio album "Relayer" has always had a so-so reputation on original 1974 vinyl copies. The Rhino CD remaster of 2002 had a fair stab at it – but again many felt that it was still muddied in places. Wilson has no doubt been aware of these 40-year complaints and his 2014 Remix/Remaster can only be described as an awakening (if I might get so profound on a Tuesday) – a de-cluttering that will thrill fans of this brilliant Progressive Rock LP to the very core. I’m amazed at the clarity on offer here –in fact some portions of "Sound Chaser" and "To Be Over" are so clean that it’s almost disconcerting - not supressed nor trebled for effect – just treated with care and attention to transfer detail.

With the Jon Anderson (Vocals), Steve Howe (Guitars), Patrick Moraz (Keyboards), Chris Squire (Bass) and Alan White (Drums) line-up at the helm – there was a concerted effort by YES to get back to the glory of "Close To The Edge" after the slightly indulgent four long sides of 1973's "Tales From Topographic Oceans". Relistening to "The Gates Of Delirium" now (minus its Battle Sequence bits from some studio effects library LP) is a blast (can't say I missed the bits). If I was to identify one aspect that hammers home how good the 2014 version is – once again it’s the rhythm section of Squire and White. The drumming that rattles from speaker to speaker is amazingly clear - as are the perfectly playing bass parts – and this is even in the wild centre-passages where Howe and Moraz are letting rip on the Guitars and Keyboards. When that huge drum/keyboards break occurs at 12:53 – ushering in the musical repeat that finishes off the piece (just before the soothing "Soon" passage) – it’s power is utterly amazing (not to mention the playing).

The glory continues on Side 2. When Jon Anderson’s vocals first come in on the surprisingly lovely "To Be Over" – the wallop of them comes as something of a shock. And again you notice the clarity of the rhythm section – Chris Squire’s Bass and Alan White’s Drumming. Then there’s Howe’s wonderful Pedal Steel followed by Rock bursts on his axe that he never lets get out of control (this is Yes at their mad Proggy best). The big synth and moog tones flesh out the centre-passage as all the voices chant "...child like..." – Moraz getting his moment towards the end (clarity is amazing). And as all those guitars and synths erupt in that fabulous melodic last passage (joined slowly by complimentary voices) – I’m blubbing freshly minted Progster tears - newly moved.

I nipped round to my mate's house for a 5.1 Surround moment and 'Mother of God' was heard to be uttered on quite a few occasions – the dreamy soundscape that precedes "Soon" is gorgeous and full of space. The drumming that precedes the Guitar Break on “Sound Chaser” where Howe gets funky is whacking the speakers like it wants to start a fight. But I must admit I found the Flat Transfer just that – flat.

So there you have it. A genuine triumph. I can imagine that nowadays there’s probably a queue of Prog band’s sat outside Steve Wilson’s front porch clutching bags of master tapes – hoping to catch his eye as he exits for a latte and a croissant. And on the strength of this strangely groovy reissue – I can totally understand why…

PS: two days after I wrote this review Chris Squire of Yes passed away from Leukemia on 29 June 2015. RIP and thanks for all the memories...

Hard To Handle-Black America Sings Otis Redding
Hard To Handle-Black America Sings Otis Redding
Price: £10.29

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5.0 out of 5 stars "...These Arms Of Mine..." - Hard To Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding (2012 Ace CD Compilation/Remasters), 26 Jun. 2015
In the cleverly compiled and musically uplifting "Black America Sings..." series of CD compilations – so far Ace Records of the UK have done Bob Dylan ("How Many Roads"), The Beatles ("Come Together"), Bacharach and David ("Let The Music Play") and Sam Cooke ("Bring It On Home") – all with applause from the sceptics and the already-converted. So it was always going to be the turn of the mighty Otis "Dock Of The Bay" Redding at some point in time – and 2012's "Hard To Handle" doesn’t disappoint. It even manages to pull off a bit of a coup by throwing a superb Previously Unreleased Take by the great man himself. Here are the dreams to remember...

UK released October 2012 – "Hard To Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding" on Ace CDCHD 1352 (Barcode 029667052627) is a 25-track CD compilation of Various Artists and pans out as follows (71:06 minutes):

1. These Arms Of Mine – ALBERT WASHINGTON & THE KINGS (1968 USA 7” single on Fraternity 1002, A - and March 1968 UK 7” single on President PT 182, A)
2. Sister Pitiful – JUDY CLAY (1969 USA 7” single on Atlantic 2669, A)
3. I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) – WILLIAM BELL (1967 USA LP "The Soul Of A Man" on Stax S 719)
4. Baby Cakes – MAXINE BROWN (1967 Wand recording first appeared on the 1985 UK LP "Like Never Before" (by Maxine Brown) on Kent 047)
5. Think About It – KING FLOYD (1973 USA 7” single on Chimneyville 446, A)
6. Shout Bamalama – MICKEY MURRAY (1967 USA 7” single on SSS International 715, A)
7. Security – IRMA THOMAS (Unissued 1968 Chess Recording finally released in July 1990 on the CD compilation "Something Good: The Muscle Shoals Sessions" on Chess CHD-93004)
8. I’ve Got Dreams To Remember – PERCY SLEDGE (on the "Blue Night" CD album from 1995 on Sky Ranch/Virgin France 7243 8398712 2)
9. Give Away None Of Your Love – BUDDY MILES (1971 USA 7” single on Mercury 73261, A and in the UK on Mercury 6052 127)
10. I’m Missing You – MITTY COLLIER (1969 Previously Unissued Chess Recording – First Release Here – 2012)
11. I Can’t Turn You Loose – JAMES CARR (1968 unfinished Goldwax Recording finally released on the 1977 Japan-Only LP "Freedom Train" on Vivid Sound VG 3006)
12. Chained And Bound – BETTYE SWANN (1969 USA LP "Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me?" on Capitol ST 270)
13. Just One More Day – CLARENCE CARTER (1975 USA LP "Loneliness & Temptation" on ABC Records ABCD 896)
14. Wholesome Love – ARTHUR CONLEY (1967 USA LP "Shake, Rattle & Roll" on Atco SD 33-215)
15. Hawg For You – TINA BRITT (1969 USA 7” single on Minit 32082, A – and – on the 1969 LP "Blue All The Way" on Minit LP 24023)
16. Loving By The Pound (Take 2) – OTIS REDDING (Previously Unissued Volt Recording, 2012)
17. Hard To Handle – PATTI DREW (1968 USA 7” single on Capitol 2339, A)
18. A Year, A Month And A day – ARTHUR CONLEY (Previously Unreleased 1968 Atco Recording, 2012)
19. Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) – LOU RAWLS (1968 USA LP "The Way It Was The Wait It Is" on Capitol ST-215)
20. Monkey On My Back – JACKIE HAIRSTON (1967 USA 7” single on Atco 6464, A)
21. Keep Pushing me – JAMES & BOBBY PURIFY (1966 Bell Recording first issued on the 2009 CD compilation "Shake A Tail Feather! The Best Of" on Sundazed SC 11096)
22. Good To Me – DONALD HEIGHT (1967 USA 7” single on Shout 223, A)
23. Respect – ARETHA FRANKLIN (1967 USA 7” single on Atlantic 2403, A)
24. (Sittin’ On The) Dock Of The Bay – THE STAPLE SINGERS (1969 USA 7” single on Stax 0031, A)
25. I Got The Will – ETTA JAMES (on the 1988 LP/CD "Seven Year Itch" issued in the UK on Island ILPS/CID 9923)
NOTES: Tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 11, 18, 20, 21 and 22 are MONO
Tracks 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12 to 17, 19 and 23 to 25 are STEREO

The beautifully-annotated 20-page booklet peppers the typically brilliant TONY ROUNCE paragraphs with publicity photos of Mickey Murray, Albert Washington, Irma Thomas, Bettye Swann, James Carr, Clarence Carter, Maxine Brown (on the cover of Blues & Soul Magazine in December 1967), Lou Rawls at Fame Studios in 1971, James & Bobby Purify, The Staple Singers, Arthur Conley and Rick Hall at the Fame Studios in the Autumn of 1966 - and so on. There is even a rare 7" picture sleeve of Buddy Miles and his "Give Away None Of Your Love" 45 from 1971 that I’m sure was promo-only (I’ve never seen it before). The audio is particularly strong. Long-standing mastertape engineer NICK ROBBINS has done the Remasters at Sound Mastering in London – and despite the differing sources – each song packs a punch - especially the cuts in Stereo which sound vital and full of that (largely Sixties) energy.

Otis’s style of guttural-blast one second and aching-ballad the next - virtually set up a template for Male 60ts Soul and most of these interpretations follow those styles (some slowing down the pace on fast songs or vice versa). While Aretha's "Respect" and The Staples Singers doing "Dock Of The Bay" are probably too overly familiar for most Soul fans - stuff like Tina Britt's fantastic chugger "Hawg For You" screams out to be rediscovered. There's clever choices too using 'later' recordings from the 70’s, 80s and 90s – Clarence Carter's unexpectedly touching version of "Just One More Day" from a 1975 ABC Records LP most people have long forgotten (and clearly shouldn’t have) as well as "I Got The Will" powered through by Etta James in 1988 (on Island Records) and most pleasing of all - a 90's Percy Sledge tackling "I've Got Dreams To Remember" - a rendition that oozes heart and not just well-produced style.

Amongst the 60ts stuff are names that will make most Soul aficionado hearts flutter a little faster - the great James Carr, Maxine Brown and Bettye Swann. Winners include a superb-sounding torch ballad by Mitty Collier on "I'm Missing You" (previously unreleased too) and a 1966 Bell Records recording of "Keep Pushing Me" by James And Bobby Purify (great 60ts guitar Funk). While I’ve already mentioned the driving groove of "Hawg For You" by Tina Britt – the Black Crowes come to mind when I hear Patti Drew's blistering funk of "Hard To Handle" (which the Crowes covered almost verbatim on their 1991 debut to such great effect). But one of the prizes on here for Redding collectors will surely be Take 2 of "Loving You By The Pound" which is new and exclusive to this set. As Otis never sang a song the same way twice – his slight vocal variations are fascinating. Although his vocal is storming – it still feels not up to his usual powerhouse performance and was probably why another Take was chosen as the master. Still – it’s a real find.

Another winner from Ace and a compilation I keep returning too. I suspect both Otis Redding and Soul Music fans will feel the same...

Strikes Twice / Sleepwalk / Friends
Strikes Twice / Sleepwalk / Friends
Price: £11.99

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4.0 out of 5 stars "...The Magician..." - Strikes Twice/Sleepwalk/Friends by LARRY CARLTON (2015 Beat Goes On 2CD Remasters), 26 Jun. 2015
A regular sessionman for Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Steely Dan and Billy Joel (and they’ll only take the best) – the sublime Los Angelino guitar-player Larry Carlton began his astonishing career at age 20 by getting a debut album out on Uni Records called "With A Little Help From My Friends" in 1968. After another album on Blue Thumb in 1970 and a decade of sideman work for a huge array of impressive names – he signed with Warner Brothers in 1978 and popped out "Larry Carlton". This British 2CD reissue deals with the three albums that followed in the Eighties and they’re typical fare for that period – funky instrumentals – smooth grooves and some truly dreadful pap best forgotten (he was a terrible vocalist). Thankfully the slick outweighs the slimy and this beautiful sounding 2CD set has much to offer lovers of that West Coast sound. Here are the fretful (and dare we say it) soulful details...

UK released June 2015 (July 2015 in the USA) – "Strikes Twice/Sleepwalk/Friends" by LARRY CARLTON on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1187 (Barcode 5017261211873) is a 2CD Set containing 3 Albums from 1980, 1982 and 1983 and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (59:34 minutes):
1. Strikes Twice
2. Ain’t Nothin’ For A Heartache
3. Midnight Parade
4. The Magician
5. Springville [Side 2]
6. Mulberry Street
7. In My Blood
8. For Love Alone
Tracks 1 to 8 are his 4th studio album "Strikes Twice" – released 1980 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3380 and in Europe on Warner Brothers K 56723

9. Late Nite
10. Blues Bird
11. Song For Katie
12. Frenchman’s Flat
Tracks 9 to 12 are Side 1 of his 5th studio album "Sleepwalk" – released 1982 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3635 and in Europe on Warner Brothers WB K 56974

Disc 2 (62:49 minutes):
1. Sleepwalk
2. Upper Kern
3. 10 P.M.
4. You Gotta Get It While You Can
Tracks 1 to 4 are Side 2 of his 5th studio album "Sleepwalk" – released 1982 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3635 and in Europe on Warner Brothers WB K 56974

5. Breaking Ground
6. South Town
7. Tequila
8. Blues For T.J.
9. Song In The 5th Grade [Side 2]
10. Cruisin’
11. L.A, N.Y.
12. Friends
Tracks 5 to 12 are his 6h studio album "Friends" – released 1983 in the USA and Europe on Warner Brothers 9 23834-1

There’s an outer card slipcase, a 20-page booklet with full album credits and new liner notes by noted Jazz Columnist and Writer CHARLES WARING and new 2015 ANDREW THOMPSON Remasters. As the production values for these albums was second-to-none in the first place – it should come as no surprise to find that these CDs sound amazing – full of expert playing – mastered by talented people. Time after time - you’re struck by the beauty of these recordings - and despite their origin they’re thankfully free of 80’s studio trickery and excess. Wonderful transfers on all three albums...

It starts out with the zippy instrumental “Strikes Twice” where guitars battle it out with keyboards – his soloing is superb towards the end of the track. But we then enter serious cheese puff territory with “Ain’t Nothin’ For A Heartache” – the kind of terrible tune that would end an 80’s rom-com that didn’t work (his vocal is best forgotten). Things improve with “Midnight Parade” sounding not unlike the Crusaders circa “Street Life” (in fact Pops Popwell guests on Bass). Originally mastered by Bernie Grundman – the production qualities are second to none on “Mulberry Street” where his finger-playing dexterity threatens to run away with itself (endless zippy soloing). We then go into more commercial funk with the second of three ill-advised vocals on the album “The Magician” – at least a little better than track 2. The album ends on the truly lovely instrumental “For Love Alone” – a sort of Jeff Beck “Cause We Ended As Lover” type track (a Stevie Wonder cover he did on his 1975 LP “Blow By Blow”) where Carlton stops being flashy on the frets and actually gets some feel into the five-minute slowy (his guitar work is gorgeous).

Despite it uninspiring artwork - things improved out of all proportion with the fabulous “Sleepwalk” album – the kind of mellow groove record that was all good – a side-to-side player. The mostly instrumental “Sleepwalk” employed the same group of top session players that “Strikes Twice” did – Abraham Laboriel plays fantastically slinky Funk-Bass on “Blues Bird”, “”Song For Katie”, “Upper Kern” and “”You Gotta Get It While You Can” while Pops Popwell of The Crusaders does the slappy honours on “Frenchman’s Flat” and “Sleepwalk”. Steve Gadd and Jeff Porcaro (of Toto) play Drums while Greg Mathieson and Don Freeman provide cool keyboards flourishes throughout. It opens with an impossibly cool double-whammy of cool grooves - “Last Nite” – the kind of Crusaders slink they so effortlessly excelled at – which is followed by a huge fave of mine - the wicked shuffle of “Blues Bird”. Brian Mann backs up the pings and bends with soft keyboard fills – very nice indeed (Carlton’s playing is exceptional on “Blues Bird” and for me is worth the price of admission alone). His Hawaiian take on the Santo & Johnny’s 1959 Number 1 hit “Sleepwalk” opens Side 2 and became an unlikely hit for Carlton too. Another fave of mine is the slow funk and downright sexy groove of “10:00 P.M.” which sounds like some Blaxsploitation movie backing track as our hero walks around his mirrorball boudoir in a silk kimono eager to show a lady the wonder of his Shaft (oh dear). It ends on the slap-bass dancer “You Gotta Get It While You Can” which actually sounds out of character with the rest of the mainly mellow album (great keys though).

The “Friends” albums continues the good stuff as it brings on board talents like Joe sample of The Crusaders, B.B. King (a co-write with Carlton on “Blues For T.J.”) and Michael Brecker playing Saxophone on the cover of the Champs “Tequila” with Al Jarreau providing vocals. The album opens with a great one-two – a pair of slick instrumentals – the smooth “”Breaking Ground” and the uber-funky and impossibly catchy “South Town” - Joe Sample on Fender Rhodes backed up by a fantastic brass arrangement. Carlton’s guitar playing on “South Town” feels like “Hill Street Blues” lets its hair down and hits the dancefloor – a really great groove (with Joe providing a cool solo). Another Carlton original is “Cruisin’” that tries hard but feels like it’s going nowhere – better is the B. B. King inspired “Blues For T.J.” that sees Carlton duet with the great Bluesman – aping his style of playing (again Sample plays Fender Rhodes while Jeff Porcaro of Toto and Abraham Loboriel bringing up the rhythm section of Drums and Bass). Brecker ends the album on the smooze of “Friends”.

So there you have it – not all genius for sure – but the good stuff is ‘so’ good. And once again Beat Goes On presents the lot in a classy and pleasing way. If you’re partial to your West Coast grooves (like me) – you’re gonna have to have it...

Guy Clark / The South Coast Of Texas / Better Days
Guy Clark / The South Coast Of Texas / Better Days
Price: £11.99

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4.0 out of 5 stars "...Lone Star Hotel..." - Guy Clark/The South Coast Of Texas/Better Days by GUY CLARK (2015 Beat Goes On 2CD Remasters), 22 Jun. 2015
With his first two favourably-received albums under his belt at RCA Records – "Old No.1" in August 1975 and "Texas Cookin'" in October 1976 – Singer-songwriter GUY CLARK signed a new deal with Warner Brothers and slowly sneaked out this trio of affectionately-remembered Country LPs across the next five years (1978, 1981 and 1983). Quickly acquiring a reputation as a Texas-Born Troubadour down with the drunks, the broken marriages and the outlaw fringes of society – Guy Clark saw his biggest chart success in the early Eighties. But more than that - his albums (like those of say John Hiatt, Chris Smither and John Prine) were also greeted with huge affection by other artists and became a wellspring – a provider of catchy tunes for the likes of Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, Waylon Jennings, Nicolette Larson, Emmylou Harris and Ricky Scaggs (to name but a few). Fellow Texan and lifelong friend Rodney Crowell produced both the 80's LPs – co-writing "The Partner Nobody Chose" and the US Country No.1 "She's Crazy For Leavin'" on "The South Coast Of Texas" album.

England’s Beat Goes On Label has licensed these three long-deleted albums from WEA and present them here in their usual classy way – a card slipcase, quality remastered sound and decent liner notes. There’s a lot on offer so let’s get to the jailhouse now... UK released June 2015 (July 2015 in the USA) – "Guy Clark/The South Coast Of Texas/Better Days" by GUY CLARK on Beat Goes On BGOCD 1190 (Barcode 5017261211903) provides 3LPs onto 2CDs and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (69:29 minutes):
1. Fool On The Roof
2. Fools For Each Other
3. Shade Of All Greens
4. Voila, An American Dream
5. One Paper Kid
6. In The Jailhouse Now [Side 2]
7. Comfort And Crazy
8. Don’t You Take It Too Bad
9. The Houston Kid
10. Fool On The Roof Blues
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 3rd studio album "Guy Clark" – released May 1978 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3241 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56565

11. Who Do You Think You Are
12. Crystelle
13. New Cut Road
14. Rita Ballou
15. South Coast Of Texas
16. Heartbroke [Side 2]
17. The Partner Nobody Chose
18. She’s Crazy For Leavin'
19. Calf-Rope
20. Lone Star Hotel
Tracks 11 to 20 are his 4th studio album "The South Coast Of Texas" – released February 1981 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3381 and in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56902.

Disc 2 (31:30 minutes):
1. Blowin’ Like A Bandit
2. Better Days
3. Homegrown Tomatoes
4. Supply & Demand
5. The Randall Knife
6. The Carpenter [Side 2]
7. Uncertain Texas
8. No Deal
9. Tears
10. Fool In The Mirror
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 5th studio album "Better Days" – released 1983 in the USA and Europe on Warner Brothers 9 23880-1.

The card slipcase that is now standard with all BGO releases lends the whole thing a classy feel and look while the pleasingly chunky 24-page booklet features the original album credits, inner sleeve artwork spread across the text and the lyrics to all three records at the rear. Inbetween is a typically superb and detailed analysis of his whole career by noted-writer and long-time BGO-collaborator JOHN O’REGAN. The “Better Days” album sleeve is used as the back inlay on the inside. The remasters are by ANDREW THOMPSON and sound gorgeous – the production values of NEIL WILBURN (“Guy Clark”) and RODNEY CROWELL (the other two) shining through – not to mention the long line of quality players including names like Buddy Emmons, Albert Lee, Don Everly and KT Oslin.

The self-titled Warner Brothers debut has six Clark originals with the other four being covers of old and new songs – “In The Jailhouse Now” (Jimmie Rogers), “Voila, An American Dream” (Rodney Crowell), “One Paper Kid” (Walter Cowart) and “Don’t You Take It Too Bad” (Townes Van Zandt). Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell and Irishman Phillip Donnelly provide the acoustic and electric guitars for most tunes but England’s Albert Lee puts in lead (once with Heads, Hands & Feet and later The Crickets). And along with Dave Briggs and the legendary Buddy Emmons on Pedal Steel Guitars and Mickey Raphael on Harmonica – the sound was slicker and dare-we-say-it more radio-friendly Country than that of the first two records. There are a lot of broken-hearted lovers in these tunes and people who are just plain out of luck – the accusations fly in slyly lovely “Fools For Each Other” as Clark croons with a side-order of blasé “...who took off when their heart got broke...” while an innocent local dreamer is taken out by a drunk-driver in “One Paper Kid” and now sings in a place where “’s legal to dream...” The prettiness of “Shade Of All Greens” is about as languid as Country Rock gets with Buddy Emmons adding so much to the song as he slides up and own those pedal steel strings in the background. For me one of the album highlights is the sad yet hopeful “One Paper Kid” which Emmylou Harris would cover that year on her “Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town”. Side Two opens with Jimmie Rogers’s fun as he camps up the pace with “In The Jailhouse Now” which the Coens would have Tim Blake Nelson sing in their 2000 movie “O, Brother Where Art Thou?” (as “The Soggy Bottom Boys”). Soft and gentle comes at you twice on Side 2 – his own “Comfort And Crazy” and his delicious cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Don’t You Take It Too Bad” with both Don Brooks on Harmonica and Kay T. Oslin on Duet Vocals making the song.

His 4th album “The South Coast Of Texas” from 1981 saw some high-profile (soon to be stars) contributions – Ricky Scaggs plays Fiddle and sings on “Heartbroke”, Roseanne Cash sings on “Crystelle” and Vince Gills puts in Vocals too. Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band made up the backing musicians – Hank DeVito on Guitars, Ricky Scaggs on Fiddle, Emory Gordy and Glen Hardin on Keyboards. “The South Coast Of Texas” has pleasing tunes on it like the chipper “New Cut Road” and the line-dancing shuffle of “Rita Ballou” – but on the underage song “Crystelle” and the title track – there feels like some of the magic of the “Guy Clark” album is somehow lost. The almost poppy “Heartbroke” is a clear aim at commercial Country but again it feels ordinary – while I find it inexplicable as to why “She’s Crazy For Leavin’” made it to Number One. Perhaps his love for his wife Susanna Clark (his lifetime partner) imbibed the Warners debut with something special that the follow up three years later didn’t have.

The “Better Days” album opens with a winning melody “Blowin’ Like A Bandit” where taking a boat out to sea will guarantee all occupants become shark-bait in the morning (Reggie Young on Lead Guitar). Once again Vince Gill and Hank DeVito bring their guitars to the backing group and the remaster is gorgeous on the “Better Days” title track. Paul Kennerley (who worked a lot with The Judds) provides Bass Vocals on the ever-so-slightly hick “Homegrown Tomatoes” but better is the side finisher “The Randall Knife” where Clark sounds and sings like John Prine’s younger brother (a great storytelling song about his father). Crowell sings on “Uncertain Texas” where again he sounds like John Prine circa 1991’s “The Missing Years”. It ends on the funky guitar chug of “Fool In The Mirror” where he bemoans that he’s putting on a little bit of weight because his “baby’s gone”.

So there you have it – three good albums sounding real sweet on one 2CD quality remaster/reissue. In 2014 Guy Clark’s album “My Favorite Picture Of You” pulled the Grammy for ‘Best Folk Album Of The Year’.

20-albums into a 40-year career and still a class act...

A Salty Dog [40th Anniversary]
A Salty Dog [40th Anniversary]

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...All This...And More..." - A Salty Dog: 40th Anniversary Edition by PROCOL HARUM (2009 Salvo Expanded CD Remaster), 16 Jun. 2015
With a name loosely based around a Burmese Blue Cat - Procol Harum and their droning melodrama has always been something of an acquired taste - beloved and derided in equal measure. But there's no doubting that there's properly great tunes on their 3rd album for EMI's Regal Zonophone Records. "A Salty Dog" saw the three songwriters in the band all step up with the moody goodies - singer Gary Brooker, keyboard player Matthew Fisher and ace-axeman Robin Trower. There are also six worthy bonuses on this 40th Anniversary Celebration CD chosen by Gary Brooker (mostly the LP-line-up band in fine form on an American Tour in April 1969). Here are the squint-eyed seafaring details...

UK released May 2009 - "A Salty Dog: 40th Anniversary Edition" on Salvo SALVOCD 020 (Barcode 698458812025) breaks down as follows (67:52 minutes):

1. A Salty Dog
2. The Milk Of Human Kindness
3. Too Much Between Us
4. The Devil Came From Kansas
5. Boredom
6. Juicy John Pink [Side 2]
7. Wreck Of The Hesperus
8. All This And More
9. Crucifiction Lane
10. Pilgrim's Progress
Tracks 1 to 10 are their 3nd album "A Salty Dog" - released June 1969 in the UK on Regal Zonophone SLRZ 1009 (Stereo) and in the USA on A&M Records SP-4179. It peaked on the UK charts at 27 and 32 in America.

11. Lone Gone Geek - non-album track, B-side to "A Salty Dog" released May 1969 in the UK as a 7" single on Regal Zonophone RZ 3019
12. Goin' Down Slow (Live In The USA, April 1969)
13. Juicy John Pink (Live In The USA, April 1969)
14. Crucifiction Lane (Live In The USA, April 1969)
15. Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)/Also Sprach Zarathustra (Live In The USA, April 1969)
16. The Milk Of Human Kindness (Take 1; Raw Track)

GARY BROOKER - Lead Vocals, Piano, Celeste Three Stringed Guitar, Harmonica Recorder and Woods
MATTHEW FISHER - Organ, Vocals, Marimba, Acoustic Guitar, Piano Recorder and Rhythm Guitar
ROBIN TROWER - Lead Guitar, Vocal, Acoustic Guitar and Sleigh Tambourine
BARRIE WILSON - Drums, Conga Drums and Tabla
KEITH REID - Lyrics on all 10 tracks

Along with Lyricist Keith Reid - Gary Brooker provided "A Salty Dog", "The Milk Of Human Kindness", "The Devil Came From Kansas" and "All This And More" - while Robin Trower penned "Too Much Between Us" and "Juicy John Pink" with Matthew Fisher writing the remaining three - "Boredom" (a co-write with Brooker), "Wreck Of The Hesperus" and the album finisher "Pilgrim's Progress". The fold-out three-way oversized card sleeve has tasty black and white photos of band members (taken by Peter Sanders) and a reproduced letter by Alan White of Northumberland to the Melody Maker newspaper of 26 July 1969 bemoaning the lack of public interest in "A Salty Dog" and urging said punters to "...go out and buy it!"

The 20-page booklet is a sophisticated affair - liner notes by HENRY SCOTT-IRVINE that go into each track - there's trade adverts from various musical newspapers, a Regal Zonophone British label bag that actually advertises the December 1968 "Shine On Brightly" LP (along with the Move's latest), superb pictures of the 7" single for "A Salty Dog" from Germany, Spain, France, Holland and Japan, posters for their concerts at Bill Graham's Fillmore East in San Francisco (gorgeous artwork) and even a photo of the road sign for Crucifix Lane in London's SE 1 on which the song is based (deliberately misspelt as Crucifiction). There are recent recollections on certain songs by band members Robin Trower and Matthew Fisher along with the original LP Engineer Ken Scott. It's all very tastefully done actually (a bit of care taken)...

The CD itself sports the FLY label on which it was reissued in 1972 as part of a Twofer LP deal because I think that's who now own the licensing rights - while the Transfers and Remasters have been carried out by ROB KEYLOCH (at Church Walk Studios) and NICK ROBBINS (at Sound Mastering in London). Track 16 was transferred and mixed by NICK WATSON in 1998. Beautifully produced by Matthew Fisher and Ken Scott in the first place - the 2009 remaster is warm and very clear. Even when Trower's guitar gets a bit wild in places (and grungy for that matter) - the stereo imaging isn't too harsh - still reflecting the original Production values. Those big vocals and church-sombre organs sound suitably 'Procol Harum' - there's minimal hiss and where there is - it's not going to detract...

It opens with the Classical-meets-Rock fusion of "A Salty Dog" and immediately the arrangements and melody feel epic - a single you feel should have done better. I've always felt though that the albums two masterpieces come from Trower and Fisher. Trower gives us the unexpectedly lovely acoustic vibes of "Too Much Between Us" - I can't help thinking it should have been single number two off the album with Fisher's equally pretty "Pilgrim's Progress" on the flip (Fisher does the vocal rather than Brooker). A&M Records put out "The Devil Came from Kansas" b/w "Boredom" in the USA on a 45 (A&M 1111) in July of 1969 - but it failed to chart. The British 45 of "A Salty Dog" b/w "Lone Gone Geek" on Regal Zonophone RZ 3019 managed a respectable placing of 44 in the UK - especially given how awkward the track was to pigeonhole in a Pop context. The sleigh bells of "Boredom" make the tune sound like Quintessence or Dr. Strangely Strange or some such hippy happiness. Side 2's grungy guitar vs. harmonica opener "Juicy John Pink" puts an end to that pronto - sounding like its recorded in a garage to get that gritty sound. The best Audio on the disc goes to "All This And More" where the piano, guitar and Brooker's vocals all sound with new clarity.

The Bonus Track B-side "Long Gone Geek" is a fabulous addition to any CD - Procol Harum going all Small Faces with wordsmith Nick Reid tapping into Bob Dylan lyrics. There then begins a similarly heavy set of live cuts from April 1969 with the band giving it what for to some of the album's heavier cuts (Trower lovers will lap this up).

I bought this Salvo CD when it was first reissued in 2009 but since its deletion it's acquired a nasty top-end price tag. If you can get it at a reasonable cost - seek it out and enjoy...

California Nights (with Bonus Tracks)
California Nights (with Bonus Tracks)
Price: £11.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Treat Me Like A Lady..." - California Nights with Bonus Tracks by LESLEY GORE (2015 Ace CD Remasters), 15 Jun. 2015
What you get here is Lesley Gore's much-acclaimed upbeat pop album "California Nights" from 1967 (a 10-track LP in Stereo) - along with a generous 15 bonus tracks. Amongst the fifteen are 10 cuts from the 12-track 1965 LP "All About Love" that preceded "California Nights" - two cuts from the November 1965 LP "My Town, My Guy & Me" - and finally 3 unreleased rarities from the 1995 Bear Family 5CD Box Set "It's My Party". There's a lot of smooching and crooning to get through - so once more unto the party dresses...

UK released May 2015 (June 2015 in the USA) - "California Nights with Bonus Tracks" by LESLEY GORE on Ace CDCHD 1439 (Barcode 029667071826) pans out as follows (59:58 minutes):

1. California Nights
2. Treat Me Like A Lady
3. Bad
4. I'm Going Out (The Same Way I Came In)
5. Maybe Now
6. Love Goes on Forever [Side 2]
7. Off And Running
8. Lilacs And Violets
9. The Bubble Broke
10. Cry Like A Baby
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "California Nights" - released May 1967 in the USA on Mercury Records MG 21120 (Mono) and Mercury SR 61120 (Stereo) - the Stereo Mix is used

11. My Town, My Guy And Me
12. Let Me Dream
Tracks 11 and 12 from the November 1965 USA LP "My Town, My Guy & Me" on Mercury Records MG 21042 (Mono) and Mercury SR 61042 (Stereo) - the Stereo Mixes are used

13. Start The Party Again
14. I Won't Love You Anymore (Sorry)
15. I Just Can't Get Enough Of You
16. To Know Him Is To Love Him
17. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
18. Only Last Night
19. With Any Other Girl
20. I Can Tell
21. We Know We're In Love
Tracks 13 to 21 and 23 are 10 cuts from the 12-track album "All About Love" - released 1965 in the USA on Mercury MG 21066 (Mono) and Mercury SR 61066 (Stereo) - the Stereo Mixes are used. The two missing songs are "Young Love" and "Too Young" (from Side 1)

22. Yeh, Yeh, Yeh (That Boy Of Mine) (1965 recording that first turned up in 1995 on the 5CD Leslie Gore Box Set "It's My Party" on Bear Family BCD 15742)
23. That's What I'll Do (as per 13 to 21)
24. Happiness is Just Around The Corner (as per 22)
25. Hold Me Tight (as per 22)

Ace is renowned as a reissue label of some 40 years repute for decent booklets - but you have to say that the 16-page fan-fest presented here is exceptional (even by their high standards). Every page is beautifully done - those US and British 45s on Mercury Records, the rare American picture sleeves for "My Town, My Guy And Me" and "I Won't Love You Anymore (Sorry)", pictures of Lesley in the studio with her songwriting brother Michael and Producer Bob Crewe (Quincy Jones handled tracks 7, 8 and 10), Billboard trade adverts from 1966, publicity snaps in colour and black and white - there's even an advert for her performance of "California Nights" with Cat Woman on the Batman Show on the 19 January 1967 on ABC-TV (nice). MALCOLM BAUMGART gives an overview of her career and a very tasty track-by-track breakdown of what's what. It's properly gorgeous and informative. NICK ROBBINS - long-standing Remaster Engineer for Ace and countless others - does the honours on the tapes and the audio is amazing - wads of lovely Stereo - strings and girly vocals clobbering your ears in a sort of uncluttered non Phil Spector way.

The album was preceded by two cracking 45s - the very Monkees-esque "Treat Me Like A Lady" b/w "Maybe Now" in September 1966 on Mercury 72611 - a chart winner if ever there was one. It was followed in January 1967 by "California Nights" b/w "I'm Going Out (The Same Way I Came In)" on Mercury 72649. It seems odd now that the truly lovely "Treat Me Like A Lady" failed to dent the Top 50 - at least the title track climbed to 16 in March 1967 - a good prep for the LP that followed shortly after. Along with "Treat Me Like A Lady" Bob Crewe provided co-writes on "Bad", "I'm Going Out (The Same Way I Came In)", "Love Goes On Forever" and "The Bubble Broke". Carole Bayer gave Lesley Gore "Off And Running" while another brilliant songwriting lady Valerie Simpson stumped up "Cry Like A Baby" with her partner Nicky Ashford. The style is very much girl-group melodrama - but with an American slant on Dusty Springfield's street savvy. Lesley showed swooning skill herself by penning the pretty "Maybe Now" with her brother Michael ("painfully he left his mark on me...").

I have to admit that by the time you've waded through the "California Nights" album another fifteen breezy string-laden productions about guys, parties and other girls with ideas on your man - can all be a bit much. However her version of Spector's "To Know Him Is To Love Him" and the Carole King/Gerry Goffin Shirelles hit "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" both stand out as does the unreleased Van McCoy tune "Happiness is Just Around The Corner" (one of three from the massive Bear Family Box Set of 1995).

Ace have also issued "Magic Colors: The Lost Album" (Ace CDCHD 1307) and "Girl Talk" (Ace CDCHD 1383) for Gore fans to slaver over - and this beautifully presented audio winner is a proud addition...

Grand Funk (Remastered)
Grand Funk (Remastered)
Price: £7.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...Inside Looking Out..." - Grand Funk by GRAND FUNK RAILROAD (2002 Capitol Expanded CD Remaster), 15 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Grand Funk (Remastered) (Audio CD)
With their debut "On Time" released only months earlier in August 1969 (a slow burner that eventually charted in October and rose to Number 27) - their second platter simply called "Grand Funk" followed only months later at the tail end of December 1969 - days away from the beginning of the new decade. Capitol Records saw their investment in Michigan's finest deliver a Number 11 placing on the Rock LP charts - and hearing its heavier than lead-piping tunes in 2015 (a mere 45 years after the event) - it's easy to hear why "Grand Funk" with its garish 'red' cover was both lauded and derided in equal measure (much like the band itself really in certain quarters). But I'd argue if you want gutsy Hard Rockling American Rock `n' Roll - then there's a lot to love about GRAND FUNK RAILROAD. And featuring two rather excellent Bonus Tracks with sympathetic 24-bit Digital Remastering - this still-as-cheap-as-chips CD remaster is a fantastic way into this most American of Boogie bands. Here are the hard-hitting details...

Released November 2002 - the CD Reissue/Remaster "Grand Funk" on Capitol 5393812 (Barcode 724353938123) breaks down as follows (59:46 minutes):

1. Got This Feeling On The Move
2. Please Don't Worry
3. High Falootin' Woman
4. Mr. Limousine Driver
5. In Need [Side 2]
6. Winter And My Soul
7. Paranoid
8. Inside Looking Out
Tracks 1 to 8 are their 2nd album "Grand Funk" - released January 1970 in the USA on Capitol SW 406 and February 1970 in the UK on Capitol E-ST 307

BONUS TRACKS (both Previously Unreleased):
9. Nothing is The Same (Demo)
10. Mr. Limousine Driver (Extended Version)
Track 9 (along with most of the album) was recorded on 20 October 1969 and is an early attempt at a song that would eventually surface on their 3rd LP "Closer To Home" in June of 1970. This early-take features a different arrangement and Don Brewer on vocals in the middle section.
Track 10 is a 2002 Remix with Alternate Guitar and an Extended Ending

The 12-page booklet is a rather visually pleasing affair - a centre-page spread of Ticket Stubs, Fillmore East Posters and Hand Flyers, uber rare Japanese 7" Single Picture Sleeves and even Studio Track Sheets. Beneath the see-through plastic tray is a picture of their 2nd-only British 45 for "Inside Looking Out" in its Capitol Records label bag. It was belatedly released in good old Blighty in January 1971 on Capitol CL 15668 with "Paranoid" as its B-side (I believe it played at 33 1/3 because of its lengthy playing time). The informative, witty and affectionate liner notes are by STEVE ROESER feature interviews with the band's main men MARK FARNER (who wrote all the songs) and DON BREWER.

MARK FARNER - Guitar, Piano, Harmonica & Vocals
DON BREWER - Drums And Vocals

The CD remaster on all of their early albums was always going to be tricky - notoriously recorded with no sense of audiophile - but every sense of 'how it feels'. This is down 'n' dirty American Rock with hiss levels that takes no prisoners. EVREN GOKNAR has 24-bit remastered from original tapes and while the hiss is still there - he's given more muscle to the overall sound. These tracks come at you with renewed power - not dampened down - but allowed to breath. The all-over-the-place vocals are there - as are the guitar/drum combos - and keyboard interludes - but with more punch. It's well done.

It opens with the "baby let the good times roll" of "Got This Thing On The Move" - a funky groover with a huge Bass Line and fuzzed-up guitar. Things slink into Free territory with "Please Don't Worry" with Brewer's cymbals and drum kit way up in the mix. Capitol put out the double-boogie-commercial "High Falootin' Woman" as the flip of the equally catchy "Mr. Limousine Driver" on Capitol 2691 in November 1969 - weeks before the album's late December release (it scraped the Top 100 at Number 97). The audio on both tracks is wickedly good even if the solo guitar separation on "Mr. Limousine Driver" is pretty harsh.

The near 8-minute "In Need" has always been a fave of mine sounding not unlike the Faces circa "Long Player" (dig that natty little Harmonica/Bass battle half way through followed by great grunge guitar). The Funksters get a bit Bluesy on "Winter And My Soul" - even if the vocals let the vocal down somewhat. Another near 8-minute chugger comes in the shape of "Paranoid" where our boys notice "men outside...come to take you away..." (and with the amount of drugs they were doing - that was probably true). It ends on the 10-minute monster "Inside Looking Out" which features the best vocal on the album.

The Bonus Material may seem lean at only two cuts - but they're both worth owning. "Nothing is The Same" is an early version of a track that would eventually surface on album No. 2 "Close To Home" in June 1970. Audio and structure-wise it feels pretty much the same as the album material - guitars harshly in the left while the drums and vocals linger on the right and centre. The extended "Mr. Limousine Driver" adds on another minute at 5:29 duration and sounds incredible - much cleaner and just as driving with that great guitar boogie in the left channel. That same guitar goes into wild soloing towards the run out...

So there you have it. "Grand Funk" won't be everyone's cup of Darjeeling for damn sure but that's the nature of 'awkward' bands I always feel (Marmite really - love it or hate it). Derided by critics and beloved by fans in equal measure - Grand Funk Railroad were huge back in the day and on the evidence of this cool little reissue - it's easy to hear why...

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