Top positive review
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The original - and best
on 17 August 2010
There have been several CD releases of this album. Up until now only the version that the band largely re-recorded in the 1980s has been (legally) available on UK release. As well as a lot of reworked music, the tracks were renamed, and the album came with different extra tracks, depending on the particular CD release.
The band first released the re-recorded version in 1987, which had a lengthy extra track `Reverberations'. This is an outstanding piece of music, although it wasn't a good stylistic fit with the rest of the album. Then in 2001 came a CD release on the Inner Sanctum label, that added previously unreleased rough mix versions of `Judgement' and `In The Region of the Summer Stars' from the original 1976 sessions. These extra tracks were the closest we had thus far come to a CD release of the `side two' tracks from the original vinyl album.
But now in 2010 comes this new release - by far and away the best - on the band's own Operation Seraphim label. This is the pure, unalloyed album recorded for EMI in 1976. There are no bonus tracks - an album as singular as this really doesn't need them.
For this release, the original stereo master tapes have been transferred to digital by EMI and provided to the band, whose guitarist Max Read has done a great job of CD mastering. The resulting sound quality is wonderful: a far cry from the crackly vinyl recordings that most of us would have had to put up with to listen to In The Region of the Summer Stars (ITROTSS) in all its original glory over the last quarter century and more.
This album is variously hard rocking (Fool/The FallingTower), gentle and soothing (The Lovers), gloriously bombastic and symphonic (The Sun, The Last Judgement). Only a genre-busting band like The Enid can resolve these disparate threads into the remarkable musical oxymoron-free zone that is ITROTSS. It was and remains a stunning debut by one of England's best-kept musical secrets.
Actually, rock audiences have always hugely appreciated The Enid. As evidence I'll cite my own most favourite ever `rock moment', which came during a performance by The Enid to a huge crowd at Reading Rock Festival in August 1983. It was a cloudy afternoon, but with perfect timing right at the majestic closing bars of `The Sun' a beam of sunshine broke through the clouds and, amazingly, shone right down on band leader Robert John Godfrey like a spotlight. RJG raised his arms to the heavens and laughed, and the crowd roared!
Maybe this new release will bring an opportunity for a critical reassessment of The Enid's unique contribution to British rock music, so they may gain at last the widespread acclaim that they richly deserve but which so far seems to have eluded them.
To sum up, In the Region of the Summer Stars is a true masterpiece. It is absolutely essential for all fans of rock, classically-inspired rock, progressive rock, great music, and everyone who was at Reading in 1983!
The CD comes in a simple jewel case. There is a 8 page booklet that reproduces the original artwork, and contains a track by track explanation of the music and concept, plus a short retrospective of the band.
NB there has been another CD release of ITROTSS in 2010 - once again on the Inner Sanctum label. The band state that this is an inferior quality bootleg that has been illegally copied from vinyl. If you buy the new Operation Seraphim release, either from Amazon or other retailer, or directly from the band, you can be sure that you are acquiring a legal, best possible quality release that benefits the band as well as your ears!