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on 25 June 2012
The EMI Gold label follow up their best selling City To City / Night Owl Gerry Rafferty "Classic Albums" release with this new addition to their 2CD budget priced range.

This time it's the turn of the long out of print "Snakes & Ladders" and "Sleepwalking", originally released in 1980 and 1982 respectively. The previous CD editions have become increasingly hard to find (except at inflated prices), so this release must be welcomed as a way of getting hold of these albums for a bargain price.

Musically, these albums have a similar feel to the aforementioned City To City and Night Owl. Indeed, 7 of the 20 tracks across the two albums are included on EMI's budget priced The Best Of Gerry Rafferty, but there are plenty of other gems to discover - notably a re-recording of 'Didn't I' (which Gerry first recorded for his Can I Have My Money Back album) and 'The Right Moment' which he cited as his personal favourite of all his songs.

As with all titles in the "Classic Albums" range, the packaging is about as basic as could be - two CDs in a slimline jewel case, with a booklet depicting the original front sleeves and (in tiny print) songwriting credits. There are no musician credits, lyrics or anything else from the original LP artwork - but, if you just want to hear the music, it still represents excellent value.

The albums don't sound as if they have been newly remastered either - the audio is almost certainly taken from the previous CD editions of these albums. They sound fine in any case, although should there be enough demand I would love to see them receive the deluxe treatment with bonus tracks at some point, as EMI did with their glorious City to City (Collectors Edition) release.

Amazon's listing for this release is lacking in any detail at the time of submitting this review, so here are the two tracklistings in full:

Snakes & Ladders: The Royal Mile, I Was A Boy Scout, Welcome To Hollywood, Wastin' Away, Look At The Moon, Bring It All Home, The Garden Of England, Johnny's Song, Didn't I, Synopatin' Sandy, Cafe Le Cabotin, Don't Close The Door

Sleepwalking: Standing At The Gates, Good Intentions, A Change Of Heart, On The Way, Sleepwalking, Cat And Mouse, The Right Moment, As Wise As A Serpent

Overall, the albums definitely fit the "Classic Albums" billing and it's great to see them back in print.
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on 27 July 2012
Love everything by Gerry Rafferty from Stealers Wheel onwards. Although I have both these albums on vinyl, really never play them as cd's are so much easier. Price for Snakes and Ladders has been so high I couldn't really justify the purchase, then suddenly discovered the two albums available together. Whilst I remembered how brilliant Snakes was, I had forgotten what an overlooked gem Sleepwalking is.
These two albums are as good as any of Gerry's output. If you like the man, you will love these albums.
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on 13 July 2012
I owned the vinyl version of Snakes & Ladders and have been looking for the CD for years, elsewhere on Amazon it's £160 so I was really happy to find this release on Friday 13th for just £5.99.

If you like Gerry Rafferty this is a bargain for Snakes & Ladders and you also get Sleepwalking.

Surprised to discover the number of artists Gerry worked with, from Billy Connolly to the Proclaimers. Great value at £3 per album.
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Having bought and reviewed the 2CD reissue of Gerry Rafferty's 1978 masterpiece "City To City" in 2011 - like most fans I've been patiently waiting for EMI to get to the rest of his catalogue. Well they sort of have - and this cheapo double CD reissue is one of the piddly results.

Released June 2012 - EMI 5099970475326 breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (48:48 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 12 are his 3rd solo album "Snakes And Ladders" - released April 1980 on United Artists UAK 30296 in the UK and on United Artists LOO-1039 in the USA

Disc 2 (37:15 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 10 are his 4th solo album "Sleepwalking" - released September 1982 on Liberty LBG 30352 in the UK and Liberty LT-51132 in the USA

The gatefold slip of paper that acts as an inlay pictures the front album artwork on the inner pages of each album - and that's it. The inners sleeves that came with both UK LPs are AWOL - as is all the musician and recording info. No liner notes of any kind. In fact there isn't even mention of mastering - and as far as I can tell - these are exactly the same as the Eighties CDs I've had for years. So the sound is very good - but a sympathetic Peter Mew remaster would have elevated these cool albums to sonic greatness.

But while the presentation may be bog standard - the music is a different matter. These are two great Gerry Rafferty albums (is there a bad one?) - with the second definitely having the edge on the first.

"Snakes And Ladders" opens proceedings with the Drum and Fife of "The Royal Mile" with that lovely melody of his. Ex Fleur Des Lys guitarist Bryn Haworth plays his distinctive slide guitar on the superb "I Was A Boy Scout". Orchestra Arranger Wil Malone and String Leader Gavin Wright add a huge amount to the melody of "Look At The Moon". Pete Wingfield (ex Jellybread) adds his keys to the jaunty "Bring It All Home" which also features the "Baker Street" Saxophone of Raphael Ravenscroft. Side 2 opens with the wonderfully languid "The Garden Of England" and Rafferty returns to an old Stealers Wheel tune with "Johnny's Song". He then goes all country swing with "Didn't I". Both Pete Wingfield and Bryn Haworth guest on keys and guitar on the finisher "Don't Close The Door" - an album highlight.

Although there are 12 tracks on "Snakes" - the 8 on "Sleepwalking" feel so much more mature and cohesive. I'd go as far as to say that "Sleepwalking" is a bona fide lost classic - a masterpiece of an album. "Good Intentions", "On The Way" and "Sleepwalking" are all magnificent - 5 to 6 minute tracks allowed to breathe and linger. The funky and catchy "Cat And Mouse" should have been a single and is so Radio friendly with a its chugging guitar and matching vocal. "The Right Moment" is both sad and beautiful. But's its "As Wise As A Serpent" that blows me away every time - a genius Rafferty tune - sly and slinky - it worms its way into your heart - making you want to replay - again and again (lyrics above).

For four quid these 2CDs are ludicrously good value for money - but let's hope that one day soon - someone somewhere does his EMI/Liberty catalogue a Remaster and Anthology favour. Frankie Miller, Ian Hunter, Robin Trower, Ten Years After and so many others have all received that accolade (see reviews).

Gerry Rafferty was lost to us in early 2011 - and it's about time that his memory and especially his musical legacy be given the loving attention it's always deserved...
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on 20 June 2013
Bought to complete my Gerry collection. Beautifully crafted great lyrics backed up with super cord combinations. Hard to beat in the genre.
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on 13 October 2013
Two great albums. Each song sheer class from the master of song writing. You will be playing this often if you buy it. Brilliant!
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on 6 May 2013
Both these albums were overlooked by many buyers after Gerry Rafferty's "City to City" and "Night Owl" albums. To me, "Sleepwalking" is an absolute classic.
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on 13 October 2012
I have Snakes & Ladders on vinyl and Sleepwalking on cassette so I am glad these have found their way on to CD. I prefer Snakes & Ladders with two stand out tracks Syncopating Sandy and Cafe Le Cabotin but it is true to say that Gerry never produced a bad album in his life.As others have said his songwriting skills were second to none and both albums a fine testimony to him.We may never see his like again
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on 29 March 2014
Shame Gerry has gone. I discovered him years ago but only recently found and bought these utterly brilliant two albums.
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Another really good 2 CD set that brings together Rafferty's Snakes and Ladders and Sleepwalking albums. By this time, Rafferty was perhaps not riding as high as he had with the Baker Street hit single from 1978, and there is a slight sense of treading water here, and growing frustration and ambivalence towards the music industry and how it operated. That said, the music is never anything less than listenable, even if some of the themes and lyrical intent is a bit on recycle mode. I have a special fondness for Sleepwalking, one of the first Rafferty albums I managed to pick up, but in comparison with City To City and Night Owl, it's fair to say that decline and a certain lack of direction had taken hold of this talented man's output.
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