I ended up buying this on the review on many of the others one here. I originally decided there was no point in posting a further review, but after listening to the album, i suppose I felt I could add a bit of what I personally felt. This is Gilbert O'Sullivan's breakthrough album, and is sold on its music alone. My favourite track nothing rhymed is here and also some great bonus tracks. what you notice here is the excellent care that has been taken with the remaster of the album. A lot of care has been taken not to change the Analogue master, all that has been done is things are cleaned up and it still thankfully sounds like an analogue recording with all the brightness and clear sound of the original, The package is also good a nice digpax sleeve with all the original artwork included. This was the beginning of a great musical carrier which was put on hold due to record company greed, but this is well worth a look
By today's standard of song writing by any artists, one could make three albums out of this stunning debut album by Gilbert O'Sullivan. Every song included here is of amazing originality, incomparable lyricism and style, and there are 14 of them! This album went up to 5th in the UK's album charts in 1971. The competition was tough at the time!!
Obviously, O'Sullivan put everything in this album. It is packed with captivating poetic ideas, so many memorable melodies and wide range of styles in the arrangement of each song (modern jazz, classical music, rhythm and blues, Latin American music to name a few). I still remember how I felt the first time I listened to this album - I was overwhelmmed by the richness of his music. The eclectic use of music in the song 'Houdini Said' or the ingenious use of off-beat rhythm in 'Too Much Attention'. The bittersweet pathos in the songs like 'Bye-Bye' and 'If I don't get you'. And the centrepiece of the album, 'Nothing Rhymed'. This is one of those timeless songs, like 'Strawberry Fields Forever' by Lennon or 'America' by Paul Simon, expressing the existential angst of the era in a simplest language. How fresh and relevant it still sounds today!
*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE 2011 REMASTERED REISSUE ***
Dubliners and Irish people of a certain age (as well as admirers from many other countries) will look at the sleeve of this early Seventies album by Waterford born singer-songwriter Raymond Gilbert O'Sullivan with huge affection - the music and lyrics having wedged themselves into their hearts. And at last - in 2011 - we finally get to see Gilbert's MAM Records catalogue receive a decent reissue campaign. And it's artist-approved too.
Here are the details - UK released Monday 7 November 2011 Salvo SALVOXCD001 breaks down as follows (63:19 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 14 are his 'UK' debut album "Himself" - released August 1971 on Mam Records MAM-SS 501. The American LP variant "Gilbert O'Sullivan Himself" on Mam/London MAM-4 was released a year later with a different cover and track list on Side 2. "Susan Van Heusen" and "Doing The Best I Can" from the UK LP were replaced with two hits singles - "Alone Again (Naturally)" and "We Will". Famously "Alone Again (Naturally)" went to Number 1 in the USA and stayed there for 6 weeks in July 1972. The "Himself" album itself reached Number 5 and 9 on the UK and US LP charts respectively.
Tracks 15 and 16 are "Disappear" and "What Can I Do" - Previously Unreleased 'Original Demo' versions of his first 2 singles on CBS Records from 1967 and 1968 (credited as GILBERT) Track 17 is "Mr. Moody's Garden" - the non-album B-side to the UK 7" single "I Wish I Could Cry" - released August 1971 on Columbia Records DB 8779 Track 18 is "Everybody Knows" - the non-album B-side to the UK 7" single "Nothing Rhymed" - released October 1970 on Mam Records MAM 3 (his 1st 45 on the label) Track 19 is "Underneath The Blanket Go" - a non-album track issued as a UK 7" single A-Side on Mam Records MAM 13 in February 1971 with the "Himself" album track "Doing The Best I Can" as its B-side Tracks 20 and 21 are "We Will" and "I Didn't Know What To Do" - a non-album UK 7" single released July 1971 on Mam Records MAM 30 Track 22 is "No Matter How I Try" - a non-album UK 7" single released November 1971 on Mam Records MAM 53 (its B-side was the "Himself" album track "If I Don't Get You (Back Again)"
The original UK LP had a laminated gatefold sleeve with an inner lyric bag - both it and the 'car collage' inner gatefold shot are faithfully reproduced in high quality on the card digipak. There's a 'Gilbert O'Sullivan - A Singer And His Songs' logo sticker on the front which will undoubtedly accompany all of these expanded reissues. The 20-page booklet is gorgeous - tastefully laid out lyrics to all the songs (including the bonuses), photos from his own archives, trade adverts and a detailed paragraph on each single with reminiscences from Gilbert on the album's creation. There's glossy photos in here I've never seen. Even the CD is a pictured one. But the really big news for fans is the SOUND...
Remastered from original master tapes - the sound quality is a vast improvement on what went before (compilations and expensive Japanese imports). The album it has to be said is 'hissy' in many places and that's been accentuated a bit - but then so has the clarity of all the instruments. The sound quality for instance on the 2 singles "We Will" and the joyful "No Matter How I Try" is superlative (and without hiss). The "Intro" snippet (lyrics above) leads into the witty "January Git" and the sound improvement is very obvious. The jaunty "Matrimony" and "Houdini Said" are firm fan favourites and the Drum and flute combo in "Too Much Attention" has even been used by Dance DJs for a few years now. I also love the lesser-heard "Independent Air" track with its slinky beginning and big brassy finish.
But the album belongs to the song that made him - and the tune that made the public sit up and take notice. "Nothing Rhymed" is an extraordinary melody. Even now - more than 4 decades after the event - the lyrics are sung back to him word-for-word at concerts by the audience - and unfortunately their poignant message is still relevant too "...will I glance at my screen and see real human beings...starve to death in front of my eyes..."
This is a lovely reissue really - and properly well done. He would of course wisely move on from the terrible 'pudding bowl' image of 1970 and 1971 to the success of his 2nd album "Back To Front" and the wonderful "Alone Again (Naturally)" in 1972 (the next reissue in this series). But this is where his songwriting career started and Salvo are to be praised for handling it so well.
PS: Salvo of the UK are continuing this reissue campaign with his 2nd LP on Mam Records from November 1972 "Back To Front" to be put out in February 2012. Same expanded packaging as above and it's a first-time remaster of the entire album. It will also feature 3 tracks which were non-album 7" singles in the UK as bonuses - "Alone Again (Naturally)" and it's rare B-side "Save It" and "Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day". His 3rd album "I'm A Writer, Not A Fighter" (considered by some to be his best) is due in April 2012.
Yes, there is such a thing. It's a niche market, to be sure, and Gilbert is one of its longest-standing proponents. HIMSELF, his first album, is arguably his best - while his "prematurely aged social misfit" persona has arrived fully formed, the album sees him venturing into musical areas he seldom if ever visited again. But let's have a reality check - this is music that not many people will be able to tolerate. To appreciate this stuff, you not only need a peculiar fondness for featherweight early-'70s pop, but also an affection for tweeness and awkwardness. So, if you're the sort of person who actually likes David Bowie's Deram sessions, or pre-disco Bee Gees, you owe it to yourself to check this out. If you're not, leave it well alone. The singles will be famiiar to most people reading this - the implacably melancholy, self-deprecating `Nothing Rhymed', and `Matrimony' (about a skinflint hurrying his bride to the registry office, aware that she wanted a church wedding). But the true highlights are the album tracks in which all his eccentricities are on display. `January Git' is word-associative nonsense set to swing-style jazz (complete with clarinet solos); `Permissive Twit' is a vignette of 1930s Northern England, with a young relative of Gracie Fields (no joke!) confessing, shyly and haltingly, that his sister has become pregnant out of wedlock; `Independent Air' is lyrically incomprehensible and musically almost raucous - check out the funky guitarwork toward the end; `Too Much Attention' has more of a jazz-funk feel (with a bit of scat-singing and flute solo breaks); `Susan Van Heusen' is another `scandalous' tale related awkwardly and embarrassedly (a teenage girl catches her father at it with his lower-class bit-on-the-side). `Thunder and Lightning' is indeed a song about the weather, and it's an r'n'b swinger with an unforgettable set of brass riffs, and a 1950s-style tenor sax break; `Bye-Bye' and `Doing The Best I Can' are breakup songs, the former degenerating into nonsense in short order, the latter has the narrator deserting an alcoholic partner (mockingly singing `bow-wow-wow' throughout the choruses!). `Houdini Said' is the weirdest, and most perversely charming thing on the album. Arranger Johnnie Spence (yes, he of Dr Kildare fame!) takes Gilbert's slightly embarrassing music-hall style song-fragment, with more nonsensical wordplay and a call-and-response chorus, and turns it into an extravagant kitchen-sinks-and-all mini-epic. Melancholy movie-score strings one minute, a jazz variation the next, and then...Bach-style harpsichord and Swingle-Singers-style choral vocals. And at the end, most improbable of all, a maniacal Jethro Tull-style flute solo over pealing guitar lines as the orchestra piles up countermelodies in the background. In its perverse way, a work of genius!
I have very fond memories of this album. I still have the original gate-fold sleeve, heavy MAM vinyl edition of this wonderful record and having it on CD now just brings all those memories flooding right back. Ok so it may be a bit of a nostalgia trip, but in a way that's what Mr O'Sullivan's songs were always about. They are comforting, comfortable and beautiful all at the same time. They evoke memories of a simpler time and there is nothing wrong with that. Apart from the fantastic produciton on this record, the songs still stand up as being some of his best. Nothing Rhymed is simply a masterpiece, January Git and Matrimony are some of the best 'slice of life' songs I've ever heard (and I'm a fan of all sorts of music from Morrisy to Manilow!), the whole thing is simply a beautiful record. And if you want to expereince Gilbert's specail blend of clever lyrics and great tunes live I can also highly recommend the excellent DVD 'Live in Tokyo'.
This is a masterpiece. How can anyone write songs like Susan Van Heusen and Houdini Said ? Words and music flow in unexpected directions and recall the great days of songwriting without studio wizardry.to cover over cracks. His voice is harsher than it becomes on the next album but honest. Bonus tracks are a mixed bag. Good to have the singles but hard to imagine the demos would have attracted any interest. Full marks to those who spotted Gilbert's potential and gave him his voice.A true original. Pity that he never quite equaled the heights of this, his first outing on album.
I used to have this album on vinyl, which I had only initially kept for Too Much Attention. (Check it out if you haven't heard it - a great curio.) Having not played the track for a while, discovering how clicky the record was, and reading some reviews here I thought I'd have a go with the CD. I was surprised how worthwhile it was. The sound is possibly slightly muddy in places, and some of the bonus tracks seem to be sourced from vinyl. The vinyl sourced tracks though seem to have been largely declicked/crackled quite well without destroying the underlaying sound. However, two tracks seem to have been sourced at some point from acetate. These have not survived so well, but they are definitely of interest. Sadly, they seem to play too slow. They sound like they were digitised at 48 kHz and at some point were played at 44.1 kHz instead of downsampled. I have contacted Salvo about this issue long before posting this here. They confirmed they would be looking into this but I heard nothing subsequently, which is a shame.
I have had this DVD many years ago when he first came on the scene as an L.P. So i saw this on Amazon and bought along with another one that I had. so bought that as well. It is well worth the money if anyone is interested in his works.