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100 of 108 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Fine Mess, 25 Jan 2011
This review is from: The Virgin Years: 1974-1978 (Audio CD)
Tangerine Dream produced some sublime, peerless and futuristic music for the Virgin label, and the period represented here is arguably their peak of artistic achievement. They were once a thrilling, interactive, improvisational, cutting edge 3 piece group of electronic musicians. This of course was a long time ago....the reality of TD today is all too different, unless you need a soundtrack for your corporate video, then E.Froese and son will I'm sure be happy to oblige.

This collection could have gone either way and served a purpose. It could have been a cheap and cheerful introduction to TD newcomers to the music of the classic years, or it could have been an in depth and serious study of the band's Virgin era, with intelligent track selection, insightful sleevenotes and the inclusion of rarities from the Virgin vault to tempt those who are already familiar with the main body of work.

If it was (as it seems) designed as a cheap introductory anthology, designed to wring a few more quid out of the catalogue, then why not double up `Phaedra' with `Rubycon', `Ricochet' with `Stratosfear' and on the third disc instead of `Cyclone' include `Encore' the stunning and inexplicably missing live album which falls within the time frame ? `Cyclone' came with a new line-up, post Peter Baumann, and with vocals, and doesn't really belong in the company of the others. The obvious cut-off point is the end of the `classic' line-up after `Encore'. Who do they get to compile these things, and why are they always so totally clueless ? There are legions of fans out there who would doubtless have done it for nothing. A more accurate title should be `The Virgin Years 1974-78 except 1977 which is missing for no reason'. So...definitive it is certainly not. There are standards being set for reissues by the likes of Esoteric Records, Cuneiform and Fripp/ Wilson's ventures into the King Crimson catalogue, which make efforts like this look like a joke.

What makes this dog's breakfast even worse is the inexplicable and pointless inclusion of 7" single edits masquerading as `rarities'; they are not, they were chopped together in ten minutes by a hatchet man no doubt without the band's involvement for the purposes of radio promo or jukeboxes back in the day and are of no value whatsoever....hell the edits aren't even in time they're that bad. If that wasn't enough, we are then invited to enjoy further `excerpts' from tracks we have just heard in the same collection on the premise that they have been tweaked in some way indiscernible to these ears. This is not only gigantically pointless, but means that the collection cannot even be listened to as a whole work without needless repetition or having to re-programme your CD player.

I really don't understand why Tangerine Dream's legacy is treated so poorly. The Virgin `Definitive Editions' of the mid nineties were a joke, riddled with inaccuracies in track titling and personnel, abysmal sleevenotes, and suffering from some atrocious mastering decisions which made even the original botched CD reissues a more enticing prospect. So whilst the likes of Virgin label mate Mike Oldfield has had his catalogue beautifully re-issued with bonus material, early mixes and in every way definitively, (by another company it has to be said) Tangerine Dream are still falling victim to hacked out, thoughtless affairs like this. At the very least the individual albums deserve to be reissued to today's standards.

Will we ever get to hear the music from `Oedipus Tyrannus' recorded in 1974 between `Phaedra' and `Rubycon' and which would have been perfect here? Will we ever get to hear the magical cathedral concerts they gave in 1975? I suspect that like Tangerine Dream's much talked about (but curiously never utilised) concert archive, it doesn't actually exist. If it does, one hopes someone might take charge of the restoration of this legacy and do it justice, even if none of the original band could care less about what they did when they were young.
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Comments

Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Jan 2011 18:03:10 GMT
Henry says:
Thank you for your thoughtful review. I had the same head-scratching question in mind regarding the decision to include "Cyclone" rather than the more appropriate "Encore." Why they decided to leap-frog over that album is beyond me. Hopefully, the sound quality of the set is an improvement over the "Definitive Editions" from the nineties.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2011 09:25:50 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jan 2011 12:34:20 GMT
S. Dinsdale says:
My pleasure. I don't think they have used anything other than the same masters, except on the `excerpts', which makes it all the more confusing ! Nice of them to generously include a four page booklet too, that should ensure it's as in depth as the last lot of remasters :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jan 2011 20:57:46 GMT
The real issue, is that I suspect that Edgar Froese couldn't care less about the Virgin Years, unless of course if he's "updating" the material with "modern" versions. Ugh. If Edgar doesn't care, then I cannot see Virgin caring much either.

This release seems to have been issued on the back of the current interest in all things prog.

Unless and until Edgar Froese and Christoph Franke start talking to each other again, I suspect we will have a long wait for the proper treatment this fantastic music so richly deserves.

Posted on 5 Feb 2011 22:21:03 GMT
R. Pievaitis says:
again mr dinsdale you have hit the truth,with this cheap nasty release,why not get the classic guys together and get a proper boxset released.
look at some of the rare but excellent box sets out there like the pentangle,free and xtc ones but this why ?
sorry ,that was rhetorical,we all know why -£££££££££,s hey ?

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Feb 2011 16:57:57 GMT
Last edited by the author on 8 Feb 2011 16:59:40 GMT
S. DINSDALE says:
Mainly it's Edgar Froese's deluded belief that the music he is making now is as valid and important as the groundbreaking albums covered here, when it was actually Franke and Baumann who made HIM look good. I can't see EMI bothering, and unless Esoteric aquire the rights to this classic period we're stuck with botch jobs like this. It is a crying shame when you think how much care went into their original vinyl releases back in the day.

Oh and H.Howorth says: "Hopefully, the sound quality of the set is an improvement over the "Definitive Editions" from the nineties". The recordings in the set ARE the nineties remasters. Shameful.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Feb 2011 03:16:30 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Feb 2011 03:17:56 GMT
Nick C says:
Thanks for the insightful review...and comments section (take a bow all you folks). I can't by any stretch of the imagination call myself an expert on the band, I lost track of TD a long time ago when I was a young 'un and was musing over whether to buy this set or not to play a little catch up (in all truth I only owned Stratosfear back in the day although I had heard a couple of other releases). I think I may save my money and probably hunt down the vinyl versions.
Cheers for the info. :)

Posted on 6 Apr 2011 21:30:20 BDT
Cloudberry says:
Ouch, you guys have really warned me off this. Grateful thanks for really nailing the comments in the original review and the additional comments.

I have Phaedra and know the others, but will just buy the originals and immerse myself in their magical music.

Top notch comments from all,, so thanks again. Regards, Geoff Hall

Posted on 25 Nov 2011 02:23:49 GMT
J. TIMMERMAN says:
And not forgetting the wonderful Logos which was live also. This was similar to the concert they gave in Sydney which I saw (and have a tape of). Cyclone was a dud. Don't get why they are still using many 1995 remasters either. And was Ricochet live? Maybe it was.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2011 12:53:09 GMT
S Dinsdale - Thank you for the excellent review. This helps me decide not to buy this set but to fill the "gaps" in my TD collection with other releases.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2012 20:44:47 GMT
Last edited by the author on 18 Aug 2014 22:59:00 BDT
Barry Lees says:
I remember hearing Christoph Franke in a radio interview nearer the time saying that "Ricochet" was a compilation of bits of concerts which he "linked" in the studio using drums because "ve could not do it otherwise vis ze electronic instruments; it vos too short time...ve only had [x] days of listening and mixing and cutting ze tapes." His (precise) words, for all the 'Guardian' readers here. Still my favourite album, though.
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