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|Audio CD, Box set, 27 Jan 2014||
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Vitamin Enhanced boxset reissued - 6CD set fully re-mastered A raggle-taggle, unpretentious assortment of punk-infused, dreadlocked hippies, the Ozric Tentacles wove psychedelic audio-tapestries that captured the almost dangerous musical diversity of the free festival scene, blending acid rock with dub, reggae, ethnic world music and electronic, jazzy experimentation. This was the soundtrack to the herb fragranced, alternative lifestyle that wound its way around country lanes looking for a place to set up and party, away from the psychoses of corporate life. Fittingly, the band was formed at the Stonehenge Festival in 1983. Ed and Roly Wynne, Nick Van Gelder (Tig) and Gavin Griffiths (at that point known as the Bolshem People) were joined for a jam by Joie 'Ozroonuiculator' Hinton - a synth wizard who had just returned from India loaded with ethnic sound recordings that he had collected. At some point, having attracted an audience, someone asked what the name of the new ensemble was and Ed responded 'Ozric Tentacles' mainly because he couldn't think of anything else. The name stuck and a mainstay of the UK festival scene for the next 30 years was born. Without any desire or need for a record label, it was the Ozric Tentacles' cassette releases that funded and supported their journey through the '80s. These simple artefacts with photo copied inserts and rainbow, spray painted labels were sold in vast quantities at festivals, on the merchandise table at Club Dog and through a mail order outlet called Better Days Tape distribution. So treasured were the bands six cassette albums that in '94, just after the Ozrics hit the big time, the albums were re-mastered and packaged together in a six CD box set called Vitamin Enhanced which was sold in a limited edition of 5000 copies on the band's Dovetail Records label. Legend has it that the box set had been withdrawn due to complaints about the similarity of the packaging design to that found on Kellogg's Cornflakes boxes. Kellogg's were supposedly concerned about consumers confusing their musical tastes with their breakfast cereal requirements, although it remains uncertain if anyone requested a packet of Ozric Tentacles at the local supermarket. 30 years after that initial jam, the band are still going strong, having survived a string of personal tragedies, line-up changes, not to mention the ever changing vagaries of the music industry. Now, to mark this anniversary, Vitamin Enhanced is to be reissued, bringing confusion to breakfast buyers once more. All six of the albums have been carefully re-mastered, ensuring that they have never sounded better. The band are also emabarking on an extensive 30th anniversary tour.
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The colour 60 page booklet is great - clearly printed on good quality paper with a history of the Ozrics during this period 'The Cassette Years' including photo's, copies of concert posters, cassette inserts and other bits. The CD's seem to run to just over an hour so you're getting about 6 hours of music plus the extras for your money.
Highly recommended for anyone just catching up with the Ozrics or those who want to enjoy these albums with the best possible sound.
I was a bit reluctant to spend £30 on a CD boxset that I already have (the original withdrawn boxset),but as a big fan of the Ozrics (I have all their tape/CD releases,and much more!),and also a big fan of their early tape releases,I thought I owed it to myself to buy this remastered boxset.....
Well,am I glad I did,or do I regret shelling out £30 on 6 cds that I already own?.
HELL YEAH!,worth every penny!,why?,because Erpsongs (my all time favorite Ozric's album) sounds a world apart from the first cassette release,and also the original CD release!.The rest of the albums in this boxset are of equal quality (remember,the source wasn't too hot too begin with,mind!).
So,in my opinion,re-buying these albums has been worth the £30 asking price,all the recordings sound MUCH better than the original tapes,or CD's.Even 'Live Ethereal Cereal' sounds OK!,even though it is the worst sounding of the 6 CD's.
And you also get a great 40 page full colour booklet,with loads of great info and pictures of a time that will never again (unfortunately) be seen again (the early 80's free festival circuit).
All in all,a must buy for fans of the early Ozric's material,even if you do own the original tapes,or CD boxset.
So.. when I saw this re-release was available I was very excited. What you get here is all of the original tape releases remastered and put on CD. Each CD is in a mini-lp style case with a proper internal slipcase. Very impressive and the remastering is noticeably good. Comes with a great booklet and of course its all wrapped up in the now legendary 'cereal box.'
I've collected CD box sets for years and this is one of the more impressive I've seen. The thought that has gone into this makes it a full on sensory experience as opposed to just throwing on a CD. Excellent.
5 stars for the music, and 5 stars for the presentation of the box set.