on 29 November 2000
Amen Corner - If Paradise Was Half As Nice.
Well everybody knows the title track from this all-encompassing compilation, don't they? Let's assume they do but if they don't, there are 3 versions on the two disks to enjoy anyway, ranging from the original mono version to the lively Welsh Coast Live Explosion version that vividly salutes that fantastic range and power of Fairweather-Low's extraordinary vocal talents.
But this compilation is much more than a tribute to one hit, one of a surprisingly large number as it turns out. If like me, you were only born in the year that Amen Corner were releasing singles, you will be surprised just how many of the songs you have heard without realising who recorded them.
If Paradise Was Half As Nice is the perfect way of building a fully comprehensive Amen Corner collection. Disk 1 has no less than 23 tracks that span the full Amen Corner career. In tracks like the indulgent Farewell to the Real Magnificent Seven or the almost hypnotic chorus of Lady Riga, the full extent of the young 7 piece's music talent, (in both song composition and playcraft), will ooze from your hi-fi.
Disk 2 is the full live album, The National Welsh Coast Live Explosion and is a stark contrast from the first more sober, clean and clinical collection. Fantastically energetic, I challenge anyone to listen only to a single track from it. From the moment it bursts into life with a MacArthur Park medley, you cannot turn it off.
So a short verdict? If you were an Amen Corner fan first time round, buy this album. If you are fan of the voice of Andy Fairweather-Low, buy this album. Or if you just love great music, BUY THIS ALBUM.
Before signing to the Immediate label, Amen Corner (lead singer Andy Fairweather-Low) had three major UK hits for Deram - Bend me shape me, Gin house blues and High in the sky. You'll find live versions of those hits here, but you must buy a separate compilation for the original studio recordings of those three songs. This compilation presents everything that Amen Corner recorded for Immediate. The first CD contains their studio recordings while the second CD is a straight re-issue of their live album, The National Welsh Coast Live Explosion.
The studio recordings include the two UK hits that they had for the label - If paradise was half as nice (a number one hit) and Hello Suzie (a top five hit) together with covers of Get back (Beatles), Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival) and The weight (The Band). There are many other great songs too, including Evil man's gonna win, Farewell to the real magnificent seven, Lady Riga and Long chocolate limousine. I'm not always keen on live albums but the one featured on the second CD is certainly one of the best I've heard.
After the collapse of the Immediate label, the group evolved into Fairweather and had a UK top ten hit on RCA with Natural sinner, but the group disbanded soon afterwards. Andy Fairweather-Low had a couple of UK top ten hits in the mid-seventies with Reggae tune and Wide-eyed and legless.
So this compilation stands on its own merit, but if you enjoy the music here you might also enjoy their earlier music as well as Andy's solo music.
on 5 June 2004
This album truly transported me back in time - remember those crazy days of the 60's? Well with this album you can actually feel them again. That strange haunting voice of AFL (not exactly the best voice in the world but distinctive nevertheless)belting out old favourites - songs you have forgotten, songs you have remembered. Well worth a listen, BUY IT NOW