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DDDBM&T 'The Very Best Of'
on 9 October 2009
This release saw DDDBM&T with still three original members intact doing studio versions of six of their live favourites in 'This Boy', 'Keep Me Hangin On', 'In Dreams', 'Here's A Heart', 'Everly Brothers Medley' and 'Stairway To Heaven - Pinball Wizard'. This was in principle a reasonable idea & a positive event but there were a number of other negative things overall about this CD that leaves sadly a bit of a bad taste (because of this it has taken some time to do this review & to be objective & fair).
The first point was that a pity that DDDBM&T didn't introduce a couple of original numbers or even to record a few of the Howard Blaikley songs that they never did (at the time record) then at least it would have seemed more coherent or cohesive - songs like 'I've Lost You' or 'Stand Up & Be Counted' for example, and given their sound & style some continuity here rather than plundering the song books of others. Well Dave Dee was suffering badly with ill health at the time and any way Universal would have wanted a rushed job & so why not record some of their live numbers quickly & cheaply in the studio - so suppose this point is irrelevant.
Carrying on then a main fault lay with the fact to call the album the 'Very Best Of' when really it was for the umpteenth time just their 'Greatest Hits' again was questionable & annoying. Yes no surprises as their 13 hits are here plus the 3 others (of which each were also a hit in their own right somewhere & have also been presented on many other releases)...with these being the sonic country rock 'Mr President' (the very same synthesizer that was used on ELP's 'Lucky Man'), the fine hard beat of 'Hard To Love You', and an excellent ballad in 'My Woman's Man'.
Further then it would have been preferable that the 13 (or 16) hits were presented in a true chronological order as the tracks would then flow better into each other and also show the development of the band. There is a part of the CD where this does actually happen as 'Don Juan' then 'Snake In The Grass' gels nicely into 'My Woman's Man'. For first time purchasers of DDDBM&T then this CD must seem a great way to start but DDDBM&T did release many other fine tracks that also merited being on a 'Very Best Of'. Just presenting one example here in 'Love Is A Drum', then someone at Universal had to be slightly creative & say provide 6 of the hits but also to embellish with a few tasty discoveries (some of their ballads, psych, hard rock, freak beat, comedy etc tracks). There is unfortunately very little light & shade on this release. So please go & check out their 'Boxed' (4CD) or 'Complete Collection' (2CD) which are both much better releases for musical content.
What else was wrong! Well the accompanying booklet & information was poor as many have already noted. No new info or even old info presented. Also no one will ever believe this but virtually nowhere (on any other LP/CD releases) have any of the lyrics ever been reproduced - why not here & make it something at least a little special. Perhaps they would have had to place a warning explicit lyrics sticker on the front case for 'Bend It'!?! A very minor quibble but the chosen front cover photo could have been in colour, a slightly larger image of the band presented (gets lost in the little CD size format), plus the bottom two line references to song titles removed. So 1 point lost for the presentation & 1 for the chosen track listing & order.
In any case it is pretty essential for fans because of the new recordings (Dave Dee's very final ones) with preferred (of these) being 'This Boy' and 'Stairway To Heaven - Pinball Wizard'. Due to some moderate TV marketing then the album did reach no.24 in the UK album charts (after unfortunately almost 42 years of absence in them) giving Dave Dee a little last reward before his sad passing. Dave was initially very excited to see it go into the charts but was then a little disappointed when it dropped back down so quickly. Looking at how much better some other acts are treated, then with just a little bit of extra love, care & attention one can't help but feel that Universal could have done a much better job for DDDBM&T & their fans.