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Quite Good, yet could have been so much definitively better
on 16 July 2010
As mentioned in the previous review, there are indeed small causes of annoyance for the purist in this Deluxe Edition, all of them on the 2nd disc, and some more serious than others:
Let's start with the most annoying howler when it comes to Disc 2, which is after all the reason for most fans to buy this release (and who, other than longterm fans, will be considering this purchase?). The first two-thirds of this disc are clearly intended to be a complete set of B-sides from the L0H4-era singles, "Flag Day" through to "Think For A Minute", together with the utterly different single cuts of those two particular A-sides. However, on that score, someone has boobed, because where the B-side 7" version of "Drop Down Dead" should appear, we instead have the version from the 21/7/1985 John Peel session, as previously released on the 1988 "Now That's What I Call Quite Good" compilation. This means (if we're being REALLY fussy) that the liner art for this Deluxe release should include Ted Key, who played bass on that Peel Session (and the first single) before Norman Cook hove into view. But the bigger beef is that this means that the B-side 7" version of "DDD" is STILL yet to be released on CD.
Secondly, of the three tracks included from the 6/11/1985 Janice Long session and labelled as Unreleased, the version of "Freedom" used here was most definitely previously released, again on "Now That's What I Call Quite Good", despite it being credited in the booklet as ©2009 BBC (along with the other two). Who checks these things?
The other things are more minor curios and unnecessary missed opportunities. The Housemartins (or someone in the record company at the time) seemed to play a little fast and loose with very slightly different edits of B-sides at times. For example, the 7" and 12" cuts of "Who Needs The Limelight?" varied slightly a la the occasional mono vs stereo Beatles tracks, with the version on the 12" single of "Think For A Minute" being the same take but several seconds longer on the front, complete with false start and Paul Heaton yelling out "Hello Knebworth!". This Deluxe CD release opts instead for the version from the 7" B-side, which deletes the false start and Heaton yell. As the 12" cut contained the 7" version fully within it, it seems a shame someone didn't go the extra foot-and-a-half to make the Deluxe Edition track choice definitive.
By contrast, there is the version of "The Mighty 'Ship" used on this Deluxe release, supposedly as the B-side version from "Happy Hour". Ostensibly the same take as used on the 7" and 12" of "Happy Hour" as well as on the first CD edition of L0H4 and "Now That's What I Call Quite Good", the Deluxe Edition version has the roll-off fade at the end of the track delayed to make a longer final chord and there is a false start, similar to the 12" cut of "Who Needs The Limelight?". So AFAIK, this version appears to be otherwise unreleased, despite the tracklisters being seemingly unaware of this. Good to have of course, especially as the other version is well-represented elsewhere, but it's a little unnerving to have the compilers labelling released as unreleased and vice versa, as if they'd just grabbed any cut from the archives and stuck it down on the compilation master.
Talking of mastering, Disc 1 seems noticeably softer (less compressed?) than the bonus disc in this set, which is hard to explain.
This is a beautiful, beautiful set apart from the above, though, with the genuinely unreleased radio sessions being a lot of fun and well worth having (including the version of "We're Not Deep" with completely different verses!). The good news is that it doesn't make owners of Live At The BBC think they've had to double-dip. The bits of bad news lie in the above bits of sloppiness.
I wonder if a similar set will follow for "The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death", and whether it will necessarily include the many B-sides from the between-albums 12" of "Caravan Of Love"?