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Jake In A Box: The EMI Recordings 1967-1976 Box set

4.7 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Jake In A Box (The EMI Recordings 1967-1976)
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Audio CD, Box set, 17 Apr 2006
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Product details

  • Audio CD (17 April 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: EMI Records
  • ASIN: B000F0UVC2
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,782 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Disc 2
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Disc 3
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Product description

Product Description

A 4 CD set containing his 4 EMI studio albums, The Last Will & Testament, Jake's Progress, Bantam Cock and On Again! On Again! with previously unreleased studio recordings, a mono acoustic version of his first LP, singles (including one in French), demos and alternate versions.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This 4 CD set is every fan's dream. It contains Thackray's four studio albums, alternate versions, a host of previously unreleased songs and an entire CD of Thackray's early songs stripped of orchestras and jazz ensembles - just the man himself and his guitar, performing his songs much as he did in his thousands of live appearances in small clubs. There are gems too many to mention here, and humour and humanity in abundance. A pretty much definitive portrait of a late and greatly lamented genius, this set complements perfectly the new Live Performance CD.
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I love Jake Thackray and this is probably the best collection of his work I have come across. There are some duplications but they are different versions. I particularly like The Castleford Ladies Magic Circle and Molly Metcalfe, but if you like a comedic song with a sometimes dark twist then this is for you.
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Wow, I was quite shocked at the polarisation of the reviews of Jake's EMI releases (you just need to add the full recording of his live performance (Live Performance) to have pretty much the full works). Ah, but there is an explanation for the disappointment. Jake Thackray was a fantastic solo performer with a beautiful classical guitar style. Now helpful producers don't always recognise art, they like to domesticate it. The first CD starts with the over orchestrated LP "The Last Will and Testament of Jake Thackray" - yes they manage to musically imitate the pony's harness jingling in "The Little Black Foal". It's a bit of a teeth clencher when you know Jake well and just detracts from his dour West Riding accent and deadpan song writing. (I'm just getting thoughts of the Sing Something Simple Singers from classic Radio 2 singing "The Bantam Cock"- now that would be an improvement!). The choired up version of the additional track "Remember Bethlehem" (CD 1. Track 12) is a case in point-set your sights higher and start a little later on.

Oddly the editor chose to split up the individual albums so that you have to swap CDs mid way. Between releases they have salted the compilation with unreleased tracks....so to stop you being confused...(before you reorder them on the iPod).

Last Will and Testament 1967. CD 1. Tracks 1-11. The aforementioned over-orchestrated effort.

Jake's Progress 1969. CD 1. Tracks 16-22, CD 2. Tracks 1-7. With a thankfully more restrained accompaniment on piano, bass and guitar in demure cafe jazz style. Jake's vocals are just a little strained.

Bantam Cock 1972. CD 2. Tracks 19-25. CD 3. Tracks 1-6.
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Jake Thackray is criminally undervalued, destined forever to remain in the obscure limbo of genuine cultdom. One of the finest lyricists of the last 50 years, he ought to be that part of British culture about whom we can talk loudly at bus stops and on trains, in cafes and while passing on the street. Bizarrely maligned in the late 70's and early 80's, he was astutely political, humane and poetical, witty and cheeky. Any songwriter with aspirations to penning something interesting should take note and listen. Raise a glass to Jake.
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This is a strange compilation! But I suppose you'd have to be a bit of a Thackray nut to buy it anyway. I listened to it methodically, disc by disc. Most of the songs are terrific, just a couple of duds he wrote and recorded for and with a school he taught at in Leeds. I really disliked the arrangements with the lush strings (disc 1 mostly, or maybe entirely). The versions with just two or three instruments were much better; in fact they turned out to be the best, because when I got to disc 4, which I'd been looking forward to, just Jake and unaccompanied guitar, he sang everything far too fast.

There were a couple of gems I'd never heard, particularly his other translations (other than Le Gorille) or adaptations of Brassens. I've never heard anyone who renders Brassens as well as Thackray! I'd love to have seen them together. Brassens had many protegés over the years, but no-one else managed to move him out of France, and I don't know of anyone else who Brassens allowed to do the first half of a concert. Thackray's French was good, but I can't imagine Brassens knew much English; how did he come to appreciate Thackray?

I only saw Jake once, at Rosehill in Cumbria. He never became the megastar that Brassens was, even though his verbal dexterity and his ability to craft tunes were at least as accomplished. National tradition and a difference of generation are a large part of it. But perhaps he was just too funny, too clever, never produced anything like "La messe au pendu" - I really would have liked to hear his adapatation of that one!
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If you're already familiar with Jake Thackray's work it's the final CD that will be the real delight: unadorned guitar-and-vocal versions which show that the songs and delivery are almost all fully formed at this early stage, and that the more elaborate arrangements on the first album are essentially unnecessary.

There's a real sense of intimacy with the occasional false start left in or Jake (needlessly) apologising in advance to the producer or engineer about making mistakes on Remember Bethlehem.

It has long been one of my big regrets that I never got to see Jake perform live in 1977; listening to this disc in one sitting feels like the nearest thing to doing so - and no distracting laughter from other people.
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