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S. Muzyka (Rugby,Warwickshire,England)

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The British Invasion: The History of British Rock: Vol. 8 by Rhino
The British Invasion: The History of British Rock: Vol. 8 by Rhino
Offered by M&E Store-UK
Price: £45.85

5.0 out of 5 stars 'Nights In White Satin' in Mono., 18 April 2016
This eighth volume of the series is one of the very few places to find the Mono single mix of 'Nights In White Satin' on CD and for that alone it's pretty much essential. On top of that it contains a dazzling array of quality British singles, some of which also appear in their rarer Mono mixes ('Matthew and Son' 'My White Bicycle' and 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' among them).
Elsewhere, 'Flowers In the Rain' appears in it's longer stereo mix,- a nice surprise.

The sound quality is largely excellent too. Whatever tape (or vinyl) sources they used were mostly of a high standard. The only blips are the transfer of 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' which is horribly sibilant, and the version of 'Conquistador' by the same band (Procol Harum) is a later live take, probably due to legal issues.
Note also that both 'I'm a Man' and 'Sunshine of Your Love' are presented in edited form (significantly so in the latters case) - presumably they were cut down for US single release and are kept this way for the sake of accuracy. Just be sure to get the full versions because they're brilliant songs.

To sum up, there is hardly a dud on this compilation and if you can find one for a decent price then don't hesitate.

Psychedelia At Abbey Road: 1965-1969
Psychedelia At Abbey Road: 1965-1969
Offered by Bear Family Records GmbH
Price: £15.40

4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Compilation, 15 April 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An excellent compilation that gathers several gems from the time, including some real rarities.
This set will be of particular interest to fans of The Pretty Things as it uses the rarer alternate mix of 'Talkin' About the Good Times', with the Mellotron pushed to the fore during the instrumental break and the guitar solo way in the background. (Most comps use the normal mix that has the guitar break mixed to the front).

The album itself uses a mixture of stereo and mono with the exception of the classic 'My White Bicycle' which is presented in it's fake stereo version (no true stereo mix exists), although as these things go it's actually one of the better efforts - we all know how ghastly some of these re-processed stereo versions sound.

Elsewhere, 'Kites' is presented in it's later stereo mix which despite possessing greater overall fidelity than the mono master has the vocal only single-tracked, something that takes a bit of getting used to when you're familiar with the mono version. Also, the benefit of the double-tracked vocal helped to mask the slight vocal stumble during the line "All of these and seven wonders more will I fly". Still a great song though.
A welcome bonus of this CD is the full-length version of 'Sunshine Superman' in a new stereo mix and some (at the time) unreleased tracks from the vaults.
Overall then, a great addition to any collection and a good starting point for people with a burgeoning interest in this most creative of periods for British music.

The Decca Years 1965-1967
The Decca Years 1965-1967
Price: £40.14

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Job., 16 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This latest release from the Small Faces back catalogue is an excellent addition to any fans collection.
Following on from the extensive re-issue campaign in 2012 (which saw many of the tracks remastered from original tapes for the first time) comes this exhaustive overview of the bands time on the Decca label. More alternate versions/mixes have surfaced in the three years since and these have been added to the fourth disc which deals exclusively with rarities.

The remastering on this box set is, by and large, extremely good. The liner notes make reference to discoveries of purer tape sources for the two albums 'Small Faces' and 'From The Beginning' since the 2012 release and it must be said they sound excellent. Crisp and with excellent clarity, they're also noticeably quieter than previous versions (the 1997 remasters for instance), which should please audiophiles. (Having said that, the version of 'Come On Children' used for the groups debut LP has been reduced a little too much- it's now the quietest track on the album! - and I still like to crank up the '97 remaster of this track for maximum impact).

The discs are nicely presented and follow the original track listings, so discs 2 & 3 present the two albums with no extra tracks. These are on discs 1 & 4 which is where things get slightly strange. The first disc is a 'Greatest Hits', meaning some tracks appear in this box set more times than is necessary. By simply shifting the non-album B-sides and one-off singles to the ends of the albums and the French EP version of 'Come On Children' to the rarities CD they could have dispensed with the first disc altogether. Was this done so they could charge more for the box set or because it's also handy for fans having all the hits in one place? Discuss!

I don't want to end on a negative, given all the plus points this release undoubtedly merits, so I'll finish by saying this is a worthy investment for hardcore fans and an essential purchase for new ones. It's certainly beautifully packaged, sounds great for the most part and the addition of the BBC sessions (with some new-to-CD material) is the icing on the cake. I suspect that many who own the 2012 Deluxe Editions of the two Decca albums will feel there isn't enough extra here to warrant shelling out and I understand that. But what I will say is if you don't own those releases go straight to this box set and you will not be disappointed.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 22, 2015 5:30 AM GMT

In Through The Out Door [Deluxe CD Edition]
In Through The Out Door [Deluxe CD Edition]
Offered by NextDayEntertainment
Price: £11.56

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lifting The Veil, 5 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Although regarded by most fans as Zeppelins' weakest effort this release was nonetheless highly anticipated due to the fact that the original mix was so poor and the previous CD issues also sounded very muddy compared to the other albums. Could Jimmy Page get it right this time?
Happily, YES!. This new remaster is a massive improvement over all previous releases, boasting hugely improved clarity that breathes new life into the songs.
The potential was always there for this to be the best sounding Zeppelin album due to the fact it was recorded at the technically advanced Polar Studios in Sweden (owned by the pop group ABBA who invited the band to try the facilities, believe it or not), but along the way something went wrong.

Jimmy Page was not in great shape at the time and it can only be assumed that when he was mixing the tapes back at his home studio, his usual quality control suffered as a result. (Only three years later, the trio of out-takes from these sessions that appeared on 'Coda' sounded noticeably better).
This new remaster finally allows us to hear the sonic depth captured at the recordings and the album is all the better for it. Of course, 'South Bound Saurez' is never going to make any Zepp fans top ten and 'Hot Dog' may well be the worst song the band ever cut but hey, they sure sound amazing here!. To some, this may be nothing more than polishing a turd and not enough to warrant a re-appraisal of the album - an opinion that does a disservice to the other tracks, at least two of which are essential listening.

Opener 'In The Evening' is classic Zeppelin and generally (and rightly) regarded as the strongest song here.
Elsewhere, 'Fool In The Rain' skips along nicely and is enlivened by a great South American samba section, inspired by the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. The new remaster brings out hitherto unheard bits and pieces that really enhances this portion of the song.
The longest song here, 'Carouselambra', is a tricky one. For some, the emphasis on keyboards is an unwelcome and grating one which is a pity as it remains for me an absolute masterpiece of arrangement and musicianship. Particularly in the slow-burning middle section, where Page wrings out some truly demonic sounding chords (this was the only time he used his famed double-necked Gibson in the studio, an inspired move where this track is concerned). For sure, the original mix diluted some of the impact, being one of the murkiest on the album, but now the enormous sound of the band is here in all its glory.

Bear in mind, however, that there has been no actual re-mixing so although Robert Plants vocal is now clearer, it's still placed so low within the overall mix that much of it still remains hard to decipher without a lyric sheet. This was a real bone of contention with Plant as he felt the words said everything he wanted to say about the band at the time. There is almost certainly a dig at Jimmy Page within the song:
"Where was your word/ Where did you go,
Where was your helping/ Where was your bow?"
A none too subtle reference to his live guitar antics of course and perhaps a swipe at his perceived lack of support for Plant during a very difficult time for the singer:
"And powerless the fabled sat, too smug to lift a hand,
Toward the foe that threatened from the deep".
Whatever the true meaning it remains a hugely impressive and powerful number with some jaw-dropping drumming from John Bonham.
Elsewhere, 'All My Love' and 'I'm Gonna Crawl' round off the album in decent style, although the former may be too twee for some, including Jimmy Page, who has never liked the song: "It wasn't us" he lamented not long after.
This may have been due to the fact that he played no part in writing or arranging the song - something previously unheard of. Indeed, this album as a whole showcases the enormous talent of John Paul Jones. With Page operating at less than his usual 100%, the bass player stepped in and effectively took charge of the sessions. His keyboards are prominently featured throughout as well as his exemplary bass playing.

As for the bonus disc, it's okay but not spectacular. The alternate mixes on offer sound noticeably worse than the sparkling restoration of the actual album and they're not radically different enough to hold the attention of a casual fan, That said, 'In The Evening' benefits from having Plants vocal much more up-front and devoid of the electronic filtering applied to the released version.
Unfortunately, there is no place here for the full-length mix of 'All My Love'. Long available on bootleg. the song originally ran on for over a minute and a half longer but perhaps Pages' dislike of this song vetoed any chance of the full version making the cut. A missed opportunity.

If you already own the previous versions of this album, I have no hesitation in recommending this Re-issue. The album has never sounded this good. Well done to John Davis and Jimmy Page, who may well have gained 'In Through The Out Door' a new set of fans.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 9, 2015 3:59 PM BST

Presence [Deluxe CD Edition]
Presence [Deluxe CD Edition]
Offered by NextDayEntertainment
Price: £10.24

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Triumph., 3 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The seventh album by Led Zeppelin, 'Presence' tends to suffer from being the one straight after the masterpiece that was 'Physical Graffiti'. While it doesn't match up to that album it is still an essential listen. Known to be the favourite of Jimmy Page, it's important to recognize the circumstances in which it was made.
Recorded during a particularly difficult time for the band, and for Robert Plant especially, it is for this reason that Page in particular regards this album as a triumph against adversity. The production is deliberately hard and loud and is Zeppelin going back to basics. No keyboards or orchestras on the final track listing, just guitar, bass and drums played by musicians at the top of their game.
The new deluxe edition continues the good work done by Jimmy Page and John Davis, with the welcome return of the longer mix of 'Nobody's Fault But Mine' that appeared in 1990 and was then ditched for all subsequent re-issues which reverted the track back to it's original vinyl length. Note also a longer fade out on the monumental opener 'Achilles Last Stand'.
As for the bonus disc, it must be said that for an album with so little outtake material there is actually some essential stuff here. Zeppelin forums are already full of discussion about the alternate mix of 'Royal Orleans', containing as it does a bizarre vocal that appears to be John Bonham (Jimmy Page has said it's Plant but that can't be the case) and the mysterious '10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod).
This latter track is a huge surprise - A beautiful, piano-led instrumental that sounds like it belongs on the end credits of a movie (If it isn't used soon I'd be very surprised) it's worth the price of the deluxe edition alone.
The other alternate mixes are interesting but not radically different. Still great to have though.

As pointed out earlier, some Zeppelin fans find 'Presence' a tough listen and tend to dismiss it rather too easily. It deserves better. Certainly, John Bonham drums superbly throughout, John Paul Jones uses his newly-acquired 8 string bass to great effect and Jimmy Page gives possibly his best ever solo's in 'Achilles Last Stand' and 'Tea For One'. Of course, Robert Plants' vocals are rather strained at times but then again he was confined to a wheelchair for the sessions and his anger and unhappiness are clearly evident - Emotional on 'Tea For One', railing against the whole LA drug/groupie scene in 'For Your Life' and having a pop at some of his fellow band members and management in 'Hots On For Nowhere'. ("Now I got friends who will give me their shoulder/ When I should happen to fall/ With time and his bride growing older/ I got friends who will give me f*** all").
The only expletive ever used in the whole of the bands recorded output, it shows just how low he had sunk. Of course, further tragedy and trouble would strike Plant personally and he continued his diatribe on the groups final album 'In Through The Out Door'. (the track 'Carouselambra' is widely believed to be a bitter attack on Jimmy Page).

That's not to say there isn't some lighter moments here. 'Candy Store Rock' features Page pulling out as many rockabilly licks as he can muster, complete with 50's style slapback echo and although the track doesn't really go anywhere it's not that bad.
Elsewhere, 'Royal Orleans' is a short and snappy groove that's said to be about a true-life incident involving the normally reticent John Paul Jones and a 'female' conquest who wasn't all 'she' appeared to be!

To sum up, I regard this album as a fantastic statement and the companion disc and improved sound are the icing on the cake. Don't leave this out of your Zeppelin library.

About The Young Idea: The Very Best Of The Jam
About The Young Idea: The Very Best Of The Jam
Price: £5.99

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does The Job., 13 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Another Jam compilation, for sure, great for people coming to the band for the first time and an incentive for die-hard fans with the inclusion of the demo version of 'Takin' My Love' exclusive to this album.

Remastered at Abbey Road, some tracks sound identical to previous digital releases while others are noticeably improved (The Modern World seems to have more balls than the 1997 Remaster). That said, 'Funeral Pyre' still suffers from the slight sound drop-out in the right speaker at 1:31 that has been present on other compilations, so either the original master tape wasn't used or it's become damaged in recent years. (The full-length 'Snap' and the original 1991 'Greatest Hits' CD's don't have this fault).

On the plus side, several of the groups' fantastic B-Sides are included here, as well as many fine album tracks. New fans should certainly find much to enjoy and hopefully will invest in the individual albums as a result.

One thing that isn't made clear with the track listing here is which mixes were used. Many singles that also appeared on albums were often re-mixed and sometimes re-edited and the differences are quite marked. This compilation uses the album mixes of:
'The Modern World'
'David Watts'
'Down In The Tube Station At Midnight'
'A Bomb In Wardour Street'
'The Eton Rifles' and
'Start!' as well as the 12" mix of 'Precious'.
For those who want the original single mixes they are all available on the 'Snap' CD and are equally essential.

To sum up, this is a great introduction to a classic band and a very good overview of their career. Enjoy.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 4, 2016 7:35 PM BST

Bouquets From a Cloudy Sky
Bouquets From a Cloudy Sky
Offered by Vinylhead
Price: £125.00

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way A Box Set Should Be Done, 22 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
One of the most under-rated bands in the history of music finally get the treatment they richly deserve. Never afforded the recognition given to other bands, The Pretty Things consistently delivered quality output yet somehow missed out on the huge success they should have had in their heyday.

This box set is an example of how to put together a proper career retrospective. All the studio albums are included and include many bonus tracks that are equally essential. On top of this there are two CD's of rarities, two DVD's, a 10" vinyl EP, a wonderful hardback book and other assorted treasures.

One thing to point out, the booklet information for the classic 'S.F. Sorrow' makes reference to being completely Mono but this is not the case. The CD contained here actually features the Stereo mix of the album instead.(The bonus tracks are Mono). Nor is the version of 'Defecting Grey' the full-length 5 minute mix as alluded to in the sleeve notes. That particular version is on the vinyl EP. The CD included here uses the released single edit. The Mono mix of the album is available on CD (SMMCD 565) and is definitely worth a listen, being the preferred mix of many of the band members. That particular release features the uncut 'Defecting Grey' but not the single version.

To further confuse matters the Repertoire re-issue (REP 4930) has BOTH mixes of 'Defecting Grey' included and is probably the best one to get as the longer version has been cleaned up far better than the Snapper release.(The only source being a 10" Acetate from Jon Poveys' attic). It also houses the Stereo mix of the actual album. As for the album itself, it's now rightfully acknowledged as a classic of the 60's and the first 'rock opera' -appearing a year before The Who's all-conquering 'Tommy'- and if Blur weren't listening to 'Baron Saturday' from this album when they recorded 'Death Of A Party' I'd be very surprised. Listen to the two back to back and you'll see what I mean as both songs have a remarkably similar rhythm.

Elsewhere, the mastering is decent throughout although the first two albums are lacking a little in bottom-end which slightly dilutes the rawness of these early thrashes. The Repertoire releases of these albums in the cardboard digi-packs (released in 2002), have much more bass and are cut extremely loud (perhaps too loud for some),but have a little less definition overall. They do feature the bonus tracks aswell so check them out by all means.

The big plus for this box set is the DVD documentary contained within. It's a fascinating watch and includes the priceless footage of the band at Blokker in Holland kicking up a storm on stage and causing a riot off it! The sight of lunatic original drummer Viv Prince prowling around with his drumsticks while John Stax stands on top of the piano blowing a mean harp perfectly captures the early incarnation of the Pretty Things more than words ever could. The band have made mention of the fact that Keith Moon used to stand at the front of the stage during their gigs checking out Prince and certainly when you see this footage there are several mannerisms Moon adopted when he joined The Who. Elsewhere, there are some fantastic live performances of tracks from the 'Parachute' album and lots of interviews with various band members. It only goes up to 1971 so doesn't cover the later albums but as the band broke up for a few years after that it's a logical place to stop.

From the raw stomp of the early numbers to the more sophisticated later work the Pretty Things have always made records the way they wanted to and this collection will hopefully increase awareness and bring them some more recognition.

A new album is due out soon by the way.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 24, 2015 3:54 PM BST

Moby Dick (1956) (Blu-Ray)
Moby Dick (1956) (Blu-Ray)
Dvd ~ Gregory Peck
Offered by DH BLU
Price: £12.95

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Love The Film, Hate The Blu Ray!, 9 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm basing my review on the quality of this Blu Ray release and not the movie itself.

Unfortunately, the picture and sound has had absolutely NO upgrade from previous DVD releases, indeed this actually looks worse than the DVD I used to own. Clearly, the original film negative was not used or was not available and I'm pretty sure it's still not in the correct aspect ratio. Whatever print they used it sure wasn't a good one and the price being charged just adds to the insult.
Save your money and wait for a proper Blu Ray to hit the shelves - if it ever does. If you have the film already on DVD keep it for now.

It's a real shame as the movie itself, for all it's faults, remains highly entertaining and makes a very good fist of condensing Herman Melville's over-long and over-cooked novel into two hours (I don't have an aversion to long books by the way, but Melville's weighty tome has so much excess that at times you find yourself wondering when he's going to get back to the bloody story!).

Yes, the whale looks dodgy but the period detail and the acting are very strong and the scenes of whaling and the ferocious storm are strikingly well done.
It's high time this film had a decent digital release. Unfortunately this is not it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2015 4:59 PM GMT

The Complete Albums Collection
The Complete Albums Collection
Price: £37.99

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, But Flawed., 3 Feb. 2015
This new box set has several things going for it if you already own any previous S & G releases. The most obvious being the new Remastering,which is amazing. If you can't hear any difference then you must have socks over your ears. It is pristine and spectacular. 'Homeward Bound' has never sounded so good but that's just one example of many I could use. You also get the soundtrack to 'The Graduate' and all the Live albums as well as the hugely successful 1972 compilation 'Greatest Hits'. Some may wonder why that particular album is here but it's worthy of inclusion simply for the fact that it contains exclusive mixes of 'America' and 'Bookends Theme' not found anywhere else. In the latters' case it has some additional guitar overdubs towards the end that are not present on the Stereo album.

Now the downside. There are none of the bonus tracks that accompanied the previous box set and individual CD releases which is a great shame. Nor is the one-off 1975 single 'My Little Town' included.
The other major gripe on forums is the absence of the Mono mixes of the first four albums. Considering how short these records are they could have easily been added to each CD with room to spare. There are some rumours that Paul Simon doesn't want the Mono mixes to be released but I'm not entirely sure how accurate that is. Either way, it's a missed opportunity and hopefully one day they will see the light of day. (For the record, a bootleg CD of 'Bookends' in Mono is available. It's a 'needle-drop' from an original vinyl but it's supposed to be quite good.)

Also, if you already own the 2001 Remaster of 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme' it's worth noting that the new 2014 Remaster of this album reverts some tracks back to their 1966 running times. 'Cloudy' 'The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine' '59th St. Bridge Song' and 'A Simple Desultory Phillipic' are now back to their original (and much shorter) mixes, so hang on to the 2001 version as these tracks had longer fade-outs.

In fact, the best way to look at this new box set is as a companion to earlier releases. It's definitely worth an investment if you're a fan but it could have been even better. That said, it's still fantastic.

Update: I have purchased the bootleg Mono CD of 'Bookends' and can confirm that it sounds very good. There is some discernible turntable rumble but it's not that intrusive. Some interesting mix variations on 'Save The Life Of My Child' and 'At The Zoo' and 'Mrs. Robinson' is slightly longer in Mono. Altogether, worth an investment.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 18, 2016 9:15 AM BST

Revolver (SHM-CD)
Revolver (SHM-CD)
Price: £39.22

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Album Ever Made., 22 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Revolver (SHM-CD) (Audio CD)
The greatest album ever made has just got better! At last the Fab Four have got the Japanese SHM-CD treatment and the sound is a revelation. Granted, some people may not be able to discern much difference from the UK 2009 releases but it's there if you listen.

Although they have used the same 2009 Remasters, the sound on this Japanese release has better seperation, with everything sounding much clearer in the mix. Listening to the vocals on 'Here, There And Everywhere' it sounds like Paul McCartney is in the room with you, an indication of just how well the songs were originally recorded.

The price may be off-putting but if you buy direct from Japanese sellers on a well known website (beginning with E), you can pick up the albums for under 20 quid.

So far, this is the only Beatles SHM-CD that I've heard but it certainly bodes well and I can't wait to receive the others. Enjoy.

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