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The 'Definitive' Edition.........
on 23 June 2014
It's been a great couple of years for us Harley fans. First up was the 'Cavaliers' box set which was the first two CR albums given the 'deluxe' treatment with added demos, BBC Sessions & Concert, then more recently we have had the 'Birmingham' CD & DVD set, again showcasing the first two CR albums, plus a few gems added to the set list, then finally we have this 'definitive' 4 CD version of 'Best Years', the most successful of Steve's albums ever. Regarding the album itself, it has been mastered superbly and sounds stunning in all it's glory for it. It forms CD 1 along with a few 'bonus' tracks. 'Another Journey', which continued a string of excellent 'b' sides that most artists would die for, and something that Steve would continue to do for a few albums more. Then we the single mix of 'Mr Raffles' which I always preferred to the album cut simply because the second verse of the album cut sounded almost too bare with Duncan's piano not as fully fleshed out. I always did love the little synth flourish though that came after he sings 'dream machine' which turned up again during 'Understand' on 'Timeless Flight'. Then we get two alternate versions of two key cuts. A 'rough mix' of 'Come Up & See Me' which features a different lead vocal, a couple of lyrical changes, and quite surprisingly a lovely bit of brass during one of the verses, an idea that was sadly dropped (or mixed very low) as it does add some flavour. Then finally an 'acoustic' version of the title track which I thought may have been just been the acoustic guitar & vocal isolated from the main mix, but no, this is almost a first take demo with lots of lyrical changes and a major couplet reversed. Instead of sing 'tragic' then 'magic' in the chorus he sings them the other way around, which gives a completely different vibe to the whole song.
The second & third CD's comprise the legendary gig from the Hammersmith Odeon on the 14th April 75, and what a corker of a gig this is. To many fans at the time, hearing songs from the first two albums played by this band must have been a major eye opener. Steve is on fine form, though viewing the footage that make's up the DVD on disc four, he is clearly out of his head on the happy baccy. He is grinning like a madman ! The ending of 'Sling It ' is unbelievable. And if you are wondering where the classic 'live' 'b' versions of 'Mad Mad Moonlight' & 'Sebastian' are, well they are here as this is the gig they were taken from.
It's a shame the DVD is a little butchered and only represents a few numbers, but boy is it classic footage. The bowler hat, the mad eyes, everything that makes the man such a brilliant performer is there for all to see. This film was actually a 'B' feature in the cinema at the time if you are wondering where or why it has been edited in this manner. The only clumsy bit is the intro, with a few fan's actually voicing approval that Steve is better than 'Bowie', some chance, and that 'Bowie' is too old and has disappeared ! 'Bowie' was actually on the verge of his groundbreaking 'Berlin' trilogy which by the time he had completed it, Steve was the one who had disappeared ! Some people never know do they ! Lol.
All in all though, this is an excellent package and well worth the money. Just a little afterthought, a journalist friend of mine interviewed Steve last week (June 2014) and he said Steve has plans for a complete show playing this album in full, hopefully together with 'Timeless Flight' (my personal favourite), fittingly the next two albums in the sequence carrying on from his current show which features the first two a la 'Birmingham'. Like the mans surname, 'Nice !'