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A review of the 2015 3-CD Deluxe Edition:Superb
on 17 March 2009
Amidst all these reviews for earlier CD editions, I am going to give a review for the new June 2015 3-CD set edition of "Shine On Brightly" from the "Esoteric" label. It is superbly mastered and compiled. Very few possible inclusions are omitted, and I consider only one of them to be significant.
As Avid Procol Harum collectors know, the 1-CD expanded remaster from the "Salvo" label ran too fast, though that label was in denial of that fault.
Here, on the "Esoteric" label 3-CD edition, "Disc One" has the original stereo album at its correct speed, sounding excellent, and with 3 bonus tracks. Those bonus tracks are "Il Tuo Diamante"(an Italian Language version of "Shine On Brightly"). This was always a track with somewhat lower fidelity sound, yet here it sounds the best it has ever sounded. The Italian D.J.'s spoken introduction and outro(heard on Salvo's release) is omitted, but it's no great loss. The next two tracks are the UK single "Quite Rightly So" b/w "In The Wee Small Hours of Sixpence". Is "Sixpence" the correct take(as on the original UK single)? Yes it Is. Some of the few previous reissues of the Uk single version of "Sixpence"(like on the 1976 "Rock Roots" L.P. & a "Westside" label CD) were obviously dubs from vinyl. I don't know what source that "Esoteric" has accessed, but this is the best sounding CD release for this track ever. All 3 discs in this set feature cardboard mini-album sleeves. This one has the front from the original UK album.
"Disc Two"(which features the front of the original U.S.A. album cover) has the CD debut of the album's mono mix. This mix is new to me, since I'm in the U.S.A., where the album was only released in stereo. The mono mix of the album has a somewhat (perhaps intentionally) lower fidelity sound than the stereo mix. As for the question of whether it is a dedicated mono mix, or a "folddown" from the stereo, I'm inclined to say that it is a combination of both, depending on the song in question. There are no bonus tracks on this disc.
"Disc Three",whose sleeve has an outtake photo from the U.S.A. album cover photo session(I wonder where they found that?) is a collection of rarities & BBC tracks.It opens with the 1967 version of "Monsieur Armand" plus "Seem To Have The Blues(Most of The Time)". These tracks are still in mono sound, but with markedly improved sound over any previous release. Next is the 1967 version of "Magdalene(My Regal Zonophone)". when the "Westside" label issued this track, only an acetate was available. The "Salvo" label eventually found a tape source, and this is another upgrade, as it has a count off at the start. Next is the 1967 version of "Shine On Brightly", which has no guitar. This was found at the end of EMI's reel set for the Procol Harum debut album. A sonically inferior recording compared to the familiar 1968 re-make, it nonetheless sounds improved here. The more familiar second version of "In The Wee Small Hours of Sixpence"(the one that replaced the Uk single version on all 1960's releases subsequent to the Uk single) is represented here by the 1990's stereo remix from the "Westside" label stereo remix CD "Pandora's Box". A backing track version(or alternate backing track) for "Monsieur Armand" follows(it was previously offered on the "Salvo" label CD of "Shine On Brightly". "McGreggor"(already released by both "Westside" & "Salvo") follows, Then "The Gospel According To"(a 1990's remix of "Wish Me Well". The disc concludes with two complete Procol Harum BBC sessions. These 8 tracks are musically superb, have full fidelity sound, and only one of them ("Shine On Brightly") has a D.J. voice-over. Sometimes, when other labels issue BBC tracks, you get dodgy off-air tapings from bootleg CD's, but somehow, in recent deluxe editions(such as this set and recent 3-CD sets by The Artwoods & the early[1964-66] Moody Blues) the "Esoteric" label is accessing full fidelity sources for BBC tracks.
There are only a handful of items (released on Procol Harum CD's from the "Westside" & "Salvo" labels that could have been issued here, but aren't. One was a backing track mix(or alternate backing track) for "In The wee Small Hours of Sixpence" released by "Salvo". It is not essential, but collectors must hold onto the "Salvo" CD of "Shine On Brightly". The "Westside" label offered a breakdown take of a live-during-mono mixdown tambourine overdub on "Quite Rightly So", and a remix of "Quite Rightly So"(as it is on the multitrack tape, I.E. with no tambourine).
These two items are trivia/footnotes for completists only. Which brings me to the subject of the only significant omission: the Scandinavian single version of "Quite Rightly So". This was the first song recorded in these sessions, and was promptly issued in Scandinavia. When the group returned from their European tour and album sessions resumed, Gary Brooker & Keith Reid decided to revise the recording with a new lead vocal; one which reflected some changes to the lyrics. The two Uk mono mixes and the one stereo mix included in this 3-CD set have the revised vocal & lyric. Excepting the omission of the Scandinavian single version of "Quite Rightly So", the compiling decisions for this project were otherwise correct. The mono mix of "Version Two" of "In The Wee Small Hours of Sixpence" is available on many other CD's from "Westside", "Salvo", "A&M" & "Repertoire".
Esoteric has done a very high quality reissue of this album. If you've never owned this album on CD before, or have only owned the "Salvo" edition or some early(1980's) CD edition with no bonus tracks, then this 3-CD edition is the one to buy. It is very nearly definitive. It comes with three small cards(that reproduce concert posters), plus a mini-poster with the UK & U.S.A. album covers and complete lyrics for the main album tracks, and an attractive, informative booklet, all in a "Clamshell" box.
Undoubtedly, my review will be re-posted to several internet music forums where I'm no longer permitted to participate. I'm O.K. with that.