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  • River
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4.7 out of 5 stars
15
4.7 out of 5 stars
River
Format: Audio CD|Change

on 7 September 2008
Over two years in the making and originally released on the Atlantic label on vinyl in 1973, this is Terry Reid's best album and the starting point for getting into the vocalist/guitarist who turned down invitations to join the fledgling Led Zeppelin (recommending Robert Plant in his place) and Deep Purple and who wrote Arrival's 1969 hit "Friends". Here Reid has David Lindley (ex-Kaleidoscope (USA)) on guitar, Conrad Isidore on drums on tracks 1-4 of the originals and Lee Miles on bass. At least two tracks were rescued from a previous aborted session (supposedly resulting in 3 albums worth of largely unfinished material) hence "Dream" and "Milestones" being produced by Eddie Offord and the rest by Tom Dowd. Reid reckons that future-Yes man Alan White also remains (un-credited) on some percussion on the album, kept from the original Offord sessions.

All tunes are self-penned (thank goodness) and not one rates less than 5/5*. This beautifully-packaged special edition from Rhino in the replica gatefold album sleeve with two extra tracks and a very informative, excellent quality 25 page booklet has to be considered the only way to buy this album on CD (while it lasts as it stated to be a limited edition).

It's one of my favourite five albums of all time, perhaps even the number one. I bought the original vinyl after seeing Reid in May 1973 at Newcastle Upon Tyne Polytechnic, then the original Japan-only CD issue, the eventual GB CD issue and now this Rhino one. This was all money very well-spent.

Though it's difficult to choose, I consider the star numbers here to be the opening two "Dean" and "Avenue" and the title track "River". "Dean" and "Avenue" are more rock-orientated, though slow and mid-paced respectively. Things lighten and speed up a bit with "Things to Try", with some nice Lindley guitar then comes what I think was side two of the vinyl LP (mine's in the loft), a trio of slower, acoustic songs beginning with the magnificent "River" (on which Willie Bobo provides all the magical percussion that makes the track what it is). As the title might imply it rolls along slowly and gently in a most hypnotic, soporific manner, with a touch of jazz thrown in. "Dream" "Milestones" are two more acoustic numbers, the latter the slowest and quietest on the album. Reid's distinctive, sandpapered vocals preside throughout which, together with much his best ever material make this a monumental album.

The beautiful green-brown gatefold artwork, the river itself with reflected skeletal dead branches evoking not only the title but also the mood of the album, is also one of my all-time favourites.

This is a totally under-rated little-known gem. It's one of those rare long-forgotten cult albums that are actually brilliant.

Finally, though, take a tip from a Reid fan and shell out the extra cash for the expanded edition with two extra tracks. "Anyway" starts as a beautiful slow acoustic ballad every way the equal of any of the original album's quieter tracks, building a little in the middle. The quiet, more "normal", vocal does, however, make it sound like it doesn't quite belong here with the Reid signature, distinctive rougher vocals of the other tracks. The second, "Funny", clocks in at over seven minutes and is another slow, acoustic number, this time with vocals that build, getting louder and stronger, even threatening to break into rock territory at one point, before fading again in typical Reid style. Whilst both sound as if they're from the same time as the original album tracks, the vocals of "Funny" make it sound indistinguishable from them and like it belongs there. They must be two of the best quality "extra tracks" ever.
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on 4 September 2014
The other glowing reviews of this album are all correct. Every track deserves it's place on this lost/forgotten gem. Why oh why has it taken me so long to discover Mr Reid and his awsome voice. If you're thinking of buying it do so, and while you're about it order his other towering album - Seed of Memory. You won't regret it.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 30 March 2016
Joe Walsh’s “Barnstorm”, Roy Harper’s “Stormcock”, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”, Stephen Stills’ “Manassas”, Donny Hathaway’s “Extension Of A Man”, Joni Mitchell’s “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness On The Edge Of Town”, Tom Waits’ “Blue Valentine”…

There are some records you simply can’t be rational about. You love them to distraction – year after year - decade after decade. In fact your affection for them only grows with their passing seasons and your receding hairline. Terry Reid’s wonderfully ethereal “River” (from 1973) is one of those albums. Any excuse to buy it again is fine by me. Well BGO of the UK have made that smart move and reissued it in 2014 – and this time with real style…

1. Dean
2. Avenue
3. Things To Try
4. Live Life
5. River [Side 2]
6. Dream
7. Milestones

UK released September 2014 – Beat Goes On BGOCD 1165 (Barcode 5017261211651) is a straightforward transfer of his 3rd vinyl LP “River” originally released March 1973 in the USA on Atlantic SD-7259 and April 1973 on Atlantic Records K 40340 in the UK. The last CD incarnation I had of this was the excellent ‘Water’ label issue from America released 2002 that had a chunky booklet and a good remaster. But I’d have to say that this is even better – especially sonically.

ANDREW THOMPSON has carried out the remaster with tapes licensed from WEA – and it’s gorgeous. The seven tracks (36:35 minutes) are soft, almost acoustic vocal rambles in places and need a deftness of touch in the transfer. Others are funky even soulful Rock and need a bit of muscle – he’s achieved both. I love the way this CD remaster sounds. The outer card wrap slipcase gives the release a feeling of class and event and the 12-page booklet features liner notes from noted writer JOHN O’REGAN (could have done with more photos though).

Reid famously turned down the Led Zeppelin gig – suggesting Robert Plant to Jimmy Page and Ian Gillan as Rod Evans replacement in Deep Purple – so in those terms you could say he did British Rock and our world a bit of a favour. His own career’s blistering success however has been erratic if not at all. His debut album “Bang Bang You’re Terry Reid” was released October 1968 on Epic in the States only – his 2nd self-titled LP “Terry Reid” came out in November 1969 and was his first in the UK on Columbia Records. Both were critically acclaimed in certain circles but neither did chart business despite quality singles off of each. So a new signing with the spiritual home of Led Zeppelin on Atlantic Records must have seen like a break at the time. But “River” peeled back the raspy guttural ‘rawk’ songs of the first two records and went for a more ‘down by the river contemplating life’ vibe – and again it received praise but despite touring with a stellar band both Stateside and here in Blighty - precious little record sales. And in some respects the album has remained a bit of an underground classic ever since.

EDDIE OFFORD (long-time associated with Yes) produced “Dream” and “Milestones” in England while Atlantic’s resident producing genius TOM DOWD did the other five in America. REID played guitar and sang, DAVID LINDLEY played Steel, Slide and Electric guitar on all selections with LEE MILES on Bass and CONRAD ISADORE drumming on 4 tracks. WILLIE BOBO supplies Percussion on “River”. Having relocated to California in 1972 while legal wrangles were being sorted out – the laid-back groove of that lifestyle permeates every song. The opener “Dean” is a little trippy, a little bluesy and yes even Soulful and Funky. His voice is just amazing. “Avenue” features Lindley’s distinctive playing to the fore and has some strange choppy rhythms while acoustic Rock-Funk follows in “Things To Try” – a cool little tune and surprising Atlantic didn’t consider it as a single.

Side 2 opens with “Live Life” settling into a sort of Tony Joe White groove – sexy and infectious – letting his fantastic voice rip in the second half. It gets all jazzy and smoking-room with the languid title track “River” where Willie Bobo shuffles on Percussion in the background. In fact I’m reminded of Dire Straits’ debut album “Water Of Love” (also produced by Dowd). “Dream” has always been my favourite (lyrics from it title this review). Acoustic sloppy – it just sort of lingers like a old melody – maybe I’ll stay – maybe I’ll go – playful and sweet. It ends on the Nick Drake gentleness and peace of “Milestones” – as delicate and as a lovely a tune as you’ve ever heard - with superb layered Reid vocal flourishes throughout.

In August 2011 I did a Listmania List on Amazon UK and USA called “Obscure Albums That Shouldn’t Be…” and Terry Reid’s “River” is on both. Get this gorgeous record in your life and well done to all at BGO for doing it justice one more time…
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on 4 March 2003
I bought the album after seeing Terry Reid on "The Old Grey Whistle Test" New-Year's special. Terry bopped from foot to foot, grinning like a maniac whilst singing something totally undecipherable. The song was "Dean", the opening track from "River".
Possibly the greatest ever singer to emerge from the British Isles, the voice still sends shivers down the spine to this day. The original vinyl version of the album was split into two distinct halves: side one, a strange mixture of loose funk and slide guitar which became more and more frantic from the opening "Dean" to the closing "Live Life".
Side two opens with the beautiful acoustic shuffle of the title track and closes with the almost free-form, multi-layered voice trip that is "Milestones".
No-one should be without this record. A lost gem from the seventies. God bless the person who saw fit to re=release it!
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on 27 February 2007
I don't mean this to sound detrimental, but music journalists and Mojo magazine readers probably enjoy nothing more than pulling out examples of the 'nearly-men/women' in rock. These are the artists that never quite made it, but had the sufficient talent to make it an injustice that they didn't.

Even today, with his sporadic UK gigging and lack of new records, Terry Reid continues to tick that particular box. For real evidence of this you need look no further than his fantastic album "River".

In true vinyl tradition this is a record of two very distinct halves. The first four cuts gradually build in tempo - peaking with the wonderful "Live Life", which really stretches Reid's famous (and impressive) vocal chords. With its intricate percussion and frequent use of slide, the opening songs make this a very 'Southern Rock' sounding record. The playing is loose, but funky. From there the record gradually begins to wind itself down with "River", "Dreams" and "Milestones" all sounding increasingly ethereal and more folk-infused.

Throughout though the instrumentation is thick and heavily layered - so whilst the melodies are rich, they are buried deep in long, seemingly unstructured songs that appear intentionally to weave themselves in knots. It's a record that demands repeat listens to unpick what is going on, but overall it's all a beautiful noise. It's also quite a casually recorded album (you can hear Reid clearing his throat on a couple of occasions) which only adds more charm.

Overall, a this is impressive stuff that's well worth investigating.
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on 12 June 2004
Among the continuous reissuing of unbearably poor "lost tapes" and full discographies of "second row" bands, once in a while, a forgotten classic or, sometimes worse, an album which deserved much more praise than it ever got, eventually gets re-released.
"River" is one of those felicitous cases where you finally get to own a CD that either you have worn to dust in its vinyl form, or only read about for years and wondered if you'd ever get the chance to hear.
The first few songs, are particularly potent examples of vintage rock from the late Sixties' heyday, even though this album was recorded in the early Seventies, showcasing Reid's incredible voice backed by a band completely tuned in to his musical vision -specially, the legendary, and similarly under-appreciated, David Lindley providing his uncanny taste and skill.
For my taste, where the album goes from very good to truly amazing is on the three final cuts which, I understand, represented side B on the original LP. This is quite fitting, since these songs are eminently acoustic, and show Reid's as even more impressive in his capacity for melodic nuance and emotional range, made even more poignant by their spare -yet extremely tasteful- instrumentation.
As Folk goes, these three tunes can hold their own with any great music of that genre from that era -no coincidence, I guess, that Graham Nash produced another one of his albums- as much as they can teach a thing or two about intimacy and poetry to many current artists who may be even more popular and recognized than Reid has ever been.
All in all, this album is a gem. Whether you get it out of a sentimental impulse or on the exclusive advice of a prestigious review, you will congratulate yourself for spending your money.
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on 5 November 2012
I first saw Terry Reid when he was 16 in Peter Jay and the Jaywalkers supporting The Rolling Stones at Birmingham Odeon. The power of his voice blew me away even then and the way he looked was incredible. He had a girl's Mary Quantish hairstyle and wore a purple jumpsuit with flares!! I can still see him in my mind's eye even now. His worst mistake was to get involved with Mickie Most. His records then were, for the most part,dire and he looked like a congenital idiot on most of the covers. Most constructed his imaqge with no regard to his incredible voice and musicality - he just wanted a pop star.So his albums and profile sank without trace, only people in the music biz knew about him. Robert Plant was a pal of mine and always raved about him - how Led Zeppelin would have turned out with Reid as a lead singer is a fascinating idea but I cannot imagine it.I bought River in a bargain bin sale many years ago and re-acquainted myself with the sublime sound that is Terry Reid. I just love Dean for the groove it has, even though the lyrics are indecipherable!! This Amazon cd is expensive but worth every penny. Check it out.
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on 1 December 2002
I've long treasured my battered lp version of this classic by the man always described as the voice Jimmy Page tried to recruit to the embryonic Led Zeppelin. Backed by David Lindley - ex-Kaleidoscope and later a lynchpin for Jackson Browne - Terry Reid knocked out some slide guitar based songs on one side that showed the way for other like the Black Crowes and some tender acoustic songs on the other that have long cried out for a CD reissue
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on 31 August 2008
Over two years in the making and originally released on the Atlantic label on vinyl in 1973, this is Terry Reid's best album and the starting point for getting into the vocalist/guitarist who turned down invitations to join the fledgling Led Zeppelin (recommending Robert Plant in his place) and Deep Purple and who wrote Arrival's 1969 hit "Friends". Here Reid has David Lindley (ex-Kaleidoscope (USA)) on guitar, Conrad Isidore on drums on tracks 1-4 of the originals and Lee Miles on bass. At least two tracks were rescued from a previous aborted session (supposedly resulting in 3 albums worth of largely unfinished material) hence "Dream" and "Milestones" being produced by Eddie Offord and the rest by Tom Dowd. Reid reckons that future-Yes man Alan White also remains (un-credited) on some percussion on the album, kept from the original Offord sessions.

All tunes are self-penned (thank goodness) and not one rates less than 5/5*. This beautifully-packaged special edition from Rhino in the replica gatefold album sleeve with two extra tracks and a very informative, excellent quality 25 page booklet has to be considered the only way to buy this album on CD (while it lasts as it stated to be a limited edition).

It's one of my favourite five albums of all time, perhaps even the number one. I bought the original vinyl after seeing Reid in May 1973 at Newcastle Upon Tyne Polytechnic, then the original Japan-only CD issue, the eventual GB CD issue and now this Rhino one. This was all money very well-spent.

Though it's difficult to choose, I consider the star numbers here to be the opening two "Dean" and "Avenue" and the title track "River". "Dean" and "Avenue" are more rock-orientated, though slow and mid-paced respectively. Things lighten and speed up a bit with "Things to Try", with some nice Lindley guitar then comes what I think was side two of the vinyl LP (mine's in the loft), a trio of slower, acoustic songs beginning with the magnificent "River" (on which Willie Bobo provides all the magical percussion that makes the track what it is). As the title might imply it rolls along slowly and gently in a most hypnotic, soporific manner, with a touch of jazz thrown in. "Dream" "Milestones" are two more acoustic numbers, the latter the slowest and quietest on the album. Reid's distinctive, sandpapered vocals preside throughout which, together with much his best ever material make this a monumental album.

Of the two extra tracks "Anyway" starts as a beautiful slow acoustic ballad every way the equal of any of the original album's quieter tracks, building a little in the middle. The quiet, more "normal", vocal does, however, make it sound like it doesn't quite belong here with the Reid signature, distinctive rougher vocals of the other tracks. The second, "Funny", clocks in at over seven minutes and is another slow, acoustic number, this time with vocals that build, getting louder and stronger, even threatening to break into rock territory at one point, before fading again in typical Reid style. Whilst both sound as if they're from the same time as the original album tracks, the vocals of "Funny" make it sound indistinguishable from them and like it belongs there. They must be two of the best quality "extra tracks" ever.

The beautiful green-brown gatefold artwork, the river itself with reflected skeletal dead branches evoking not only the title but also the mood of the album, is also one of my all-time favourites.

This is a totally under-rated little-known gem. It's one of those rare long-forgotten cult albums that are actually brilliant. I'll even endorse it with my real name - Dave Horn. In fact, there's absolutely nothing to criticize about it except that it took nearly 30 years to gain a CD release. Now all that is needed for completeness is a 5.1 surround mix on DVD-Audio (or failing that SACD).
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on 9 December 2007
Amazing. Like all the other people who have heard/reviewed his music, its incredible someone this good is so unheard of. I love finding these obscure albums (like David Crosby's 'If I could only remeber my name'). This album is Funky, Rocky, Soulful, Jazzy, Acoustic (how?!) its an amazing blend of styles and mood. Just beautiful.

Why can no one make music like this today?
I can't wait to hear all his other albums. Thank you Terry.
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