This review is for: Fragile (Tabu Expanded Edition) The hotly anticipated TABU reissue campaign gets underway with the first batch of releases including Cherrelle's 1984 album "Fragile". I'm probably similar to a lot of people looking to buy this album having bought the vinyl album and 12" singles back in the day, I'm hoping to be able to replace those in glorious CD sound quality. Some of the new editions are double CDs, but this one is a single CD, so unfortunately the mix I most wanted (the 12" instrumental mix of "I Didn't Mean To Turn You On") is not here, but hopefully it will appear on the TABU box set planned for later in the year. Although this is only one disc, they have crammed it to capacity with a running time of 79:58, so they've utilised the space to its fullest.
The first thing to say here is that the packaging is a lovely high quality hardback book complete with lyrics and photographs of the original record labels. I usually prefer jewel cases, but this is rather nice. The album is (mostly) produced by the legendary Jam & Lewis (Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis), so if you haven't heard the album, expect a similar sound to SOS band and Janet Jackson's "Control" album (with a similar mix of uptempo dance workouts and sumptuous ballads). The production values are high as you would expect and the album stands up well 29 years later (Ouch! Really?!).
The cover doesn't say it, but the bonus track of "Fragile... Handle With Care" is the full 12" version at over 12 minutes. Nice!
As with all of these reissues, the most important thing is the sound quality of the CD. Do these *jams sound good coming out of the speakers or not? (*I say jams because that is what they were called then. Although that should have only been for the cool black Americans in the clubs of Minneapolis, not for little white boys like me sitting in their bedroom with headphones on listening to their jams in their P-jams). The album itself sounds great. What we have to bear in mind is that vinyl can be very forgiving and CD is less so. This is why there are often those disclaimers saying "the compact disc can reveal limitations of the source tape". Vinyl can often disguise things which the CD doesn't. It also depends on whether the recording comes from a digital or analogue source. Also, we are talking here about tapes that are so old we're lucky if they play at all. They get stuck together over time. The main album sounds perfect. In some cases the tapes simply no longer exist at all though. So, vinyl is the only option. Some of the bonus tracks do appear to be ripped from vinyl, but you have to listen really closely to discover that. I'm realistic, I'm happy to accept this. As long as there are no obvious pops or clicks, because they can be cleaned up using software. The odd subtle crackle is acceptable and that is what we have here. So for me, all things considered, this is fine because the tracks sound better than vinyl. Obviously I would prefer only 100% perfect sound quality, but it's just not realistic to expect in all cases. I'm fussy and this easily passes my quality control. I also consider that this could very easily have been a straightforward reissue of the original album with no bonus tracks, so I am grateful to have them included here. We're lucky anyone has revisited these albums at all. "Fragile" wasn't exactly a big seller at the time (it reached number 86 in America and didn't chart at all in the UK). I have a huge list of things I want that have never had a CD release, so I'm happy to have this at all. Also, this is a UK exclusive, so we should think ourselves lucky. The Americans have to import these reissues if they want them.
There has been a clear attempt here to bring what was a fairly poor selling album at the time back with a quality reissue with thoughtful packaging and additional bonus tracks.
Thumbs up from me.
I should add here that my notes regarding the vinyl sources are specific to this CD. They are pretty good. Some others in the Tabu reissue range are not so good and the "Alexander O'Neal (Tabu Expanded Edition)" is a good example.
ok the actual album 'fragile' is great , decent remastering ..BUT YET AGAIN WE HAVE VINYL RIPS of the ''12'' versions 'like i will (tokyo mix) is the worst of the bunch with static sounds all over the place, i wish funkytowngrooves had this gig as they only ever use the proper mastertapes!
This is such a classic CD. The music shows how great R&B music from the 1980's was and showcases the early brilliance of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The songs are fresh and fun. Overall I think the sound quality is excellent. Also, other reviewers have been criticizing and complaining about the Tabu reissues because Demon Music Group had to use some vinyl rips due to original master tapes being unknown or unavailable to them. Any sound issues are subtle and only if you want perfection from reissues will it bother you. The most important thing to me is the music and that Demon Music Group has enough commitment to this music in attempting to include extensive bonus material. I have a lot of gratitude and thanks to them. I will buy and support these beautifully packaged reissues in the future. It is imporant to support these labels that continue to reissue classic music. Otherwise labels like Demon Music Group, Cherry Pop, BBR, Edsel, Soul Music, Funkytown, Gold Legion and others will stop this process of reissues. I for one don't want to go back and pull out a turntable in order listen to all this classic music.