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4.8 out of 5 stars
Back To Front
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£7.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


"Back To Front" is the 2nd release in a full-on reissue campaign for Irish singer-songwriter Raymond Gilbert O'Sullivan (his debut album "Himself" was relaunched in November 2011 and is reviewed separately). With fantastic new sound, three bonus tracks, quality packaging and a none-too steep price - legions of his fans worldwide will be thrilled to see that his MAM Records catalogue is finally receiving a thorough going-over (and it's artist-approved too).

Here are the finite details - UK released Monday 20 February 2012 (21 Feb 2012 USA) Salvo SALVOXCD002 breaks down as follows (45:01 minutes):

Tracks 1 to 14 are his second studio album "Back To Front" - released October 1972 in the UK on Mam Records MAM-SS 502 and December 1972 on Mam Records MAM 5 in the USA. It peaked at Number 48 in America - but hit the coveted Number 1 spot in England.

Tracks 15 and 16 are "Alone Again (Naturally)" and "Save It" - the A&B sides of a 7" single released February 1972 in the UK on Mam Records MAM 66 and June 1972 in the USA on Mam Records 3619 (both were non-album tracks at the time). It peaked at Number 3 in the UK - but spent 15 weeks on the American charts - six of which were at Number 1. Also - outside of a very rare Japanese CD albums box set issued in the early Nineties with a 3" CD single of both tracks as a bonus - it's the first time the rare B-side "Save It" has been on CD anywhere else.

Track 17 is "Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day" - the A-side of a 7" single released May 1972 in the UK on Mam Records MAM 78 (again a non-album track in the UK at the time of release - it's B-side is the album cut "But I'm Not").

Other 7" singles - "Clair" and "What Could Be Nicer" were issued as the A&B-side of a 45 in the UK in October 1972 on Mam Records MAM 84 (it reached Number 1) and "Out Of The Question" was also issued as an A-side 45, but in the USA-only on Mam 3628 in April 1973. This CD will allow fans to sequence all the above.

The original UK LP had a matt single sleeve with two gatefold inserts - a black and white poster of Gilbert (now placed across the inside of the CD digipak) and a gatefold lyric sheet (also fully replicated in the second half of booklet). There's a 'Gilbert O'Sullivan - A Singer And His Songs' logo sticker on the front of the card digipak 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 song 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 and the card digipak matches the same matt feel of the original vinyl album sleeve - a nice touch and great attention to detail. 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). While "Himself" from 1971 is a little hissy in places - "Back To Front" from 1972 is incredibly clean and there's superlative clarity on all the instruments. You can now hear Big Jim Sullivan's wonderfully expressive acoustic guitar work on "Alone Again (Naturally)" and his rocking slide on the lesser-heard Side 2 opener "I'm In Love With You".

Four decades ago I was busy discovering girls in Dublin and Gilbert's "Can I Go With You" (a phrase teenagers used at the time) was a key track (what great memories). I'd also forgotten how snappy the brass work on "In My Hole" is (very Burt Bacharach) - while the almost vaudeville "But I'm Not" sounds like a really good late Sixties Beatles ditty. There's treated vocals on the clever lyrics of "The Golden Rule" and "Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day" may have a silly title (for which he was derided) - but it's a cracking single and a genuine bonus on here (chap in Bradford and all).

But somehow this release belongs to 'that' 1972 song - "Alone Again (Naturally)". Now February 2012 - it's beautiful melody and poignant words are 40 years old - yet it still touches a soul willing to listen (lyrics from it title this review). In fact what strikes you most relistening to this entire CD - is the endurance of the songs.

This is a lovely reissue - and Salvo are to be praised for handling it so well.


PS: His 3rd album "I'm A Writer, Not A Fighter" (considered by some to be his best) is due in April 2012.
33 Comments| 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 28 April 2014
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on 27 June 2013
Since the first time this LP came around, back in the 70's, I didn't stop listening. Over the years, just waiting for the remastered editions to come out.
In the late 90's, in a trip to Japan, I bought the whole GOS collection, only available in that country at reasonable prices (not the "imported" US pricing...).
And now, Back To Front is out again, perfectly remastered, sounds as fresh as the first time, more than 40 years ago.
I hope you'll stay, clair, can I go with you, who was it, are all amazing songs.
Alone again, as a bonus track, make this offer unbeatable.
Grab one while you can.
Gilbert O'Sullivan's Back To Front is a classic.
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on 11 September 2004
Mind if I get nostalgic? See, I've got a good memory when it comes to music, and Gilbert's 1972 album Back To Front is frankly one of my all time favourites. Now, before you go calling me sad, may I point out that a) I love the Beatles, the Smiths, the Bee Gees, Roy Orbison, ELO, Abba, Bangles etc, AND a lot of classical music; and b) this very album made number one in the UK album charts in 1972. Further, Gilbert O'Sullivan was hot property at this time scoring two back to back number ones in the singles charts with Clair and Get Down!
So apart from the memories connected to being a toddler, the reason why I bought this album on cd is Simple: Melody. Good lyrics that you can hear. Good production, admittedly very seventies now (flutes anyone?) and overall an offering with no filler. I remember the record because it's memorable, they're songs that stick in your head. My two toddler daughters, love this album and recognise each song. They don't make 'em like this anymore (oi, don't you laugh).
In a way, a lot of O' Sullivan's lyrics predate those of my other favourite lyricist, Morrissey. They're sad yet homely.
This album we used to own on LP, now scratched so much it's unplayable, and 8 track cartridge. Now I've finally got it on CD and it's like welcoming back an old friend of the family.
Yeh okay, so I am sad but I don't care. Pass me my slippers and cup of Horlicks, I'm going down Memory Lane with dear old Ray again.
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on 28 October 2013
This album for me is a blast from the past. I had the LP many years ago and played it often but it has been packed away for many a year and nowadays I don't have a record player. On a whim I decided to download it and I am so glad I did, it takes me back to the days of listening to it and I still enjoy it as much as I did then. I would recommend it to anyone, young or old, if you listen to the lyrics they are so clever.
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on 1 August 2016
Glad to see the 70's LP's on CD, now l can hear them all again.
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on 17 February 2018
Got this on vinyl
it's ...great childhood memories
with mum and dad. ..
golden years. . I was 8 years old
I'm 49 now ....where does time go. ..enjoy
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on 18 April 2015
This is the second CD that I wanted as its got all the traditional songs from his LP which I had many years ago well worth the money and good value excellent.
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on 19 July 2015
Bought for my wife, I now know all the words to every song! It's always playing! Good easy listening music from a great singer.
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on 13 April 2016
Everything great, first class service.
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