Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases. This week we take a look at A Kaleidoscope Of Sounds: Psychedelic & Freakbeat Masterpieces, The Nolans’ Ultimate Collection and a compilation from Detroit label Westbound.
A Kaleidoscope Of Sounds: Psychedelic & Freakbeat Masterpieces (UMC 6755234)
Although not rare per se – I have, for example, Magic Potion by The Open Mind on seven different CD compilations – this stellar selection of psych sounds and freakbeat faves are incredibly hard to find on vinyl, with the latest estimated cost of acquiring the 14 tracks that make up this set being £11,500 – though, of course, they would be original copies, and would have a further 14 tracks coupled to them. Having said that, this is a fantastic box set, with seven two-sided singles each smartly clad in original house bags, and accompanied by an extensive booklet furnishing background information and rare photographs. Each of the sets is individually numbered – it is a limited edition of 1,000 – and includes a download card to access mp3s. Compiled by pysch expert and designer Phil Smee, the songs herein were originally released – some as a-sides, others as flips – between 1965 and 1969, though most were from the summer of love, 1967. Drawn from the archives of Decca, Deram, Fontana, Mercury, Philips and Polydor – all of which are in the Universal family now, and were previously part of PolyGram – they collectively comprise a heady delight. Highlights include Baby, Your Phrasing Is Bad by Caleb (Quaye), an early example of phasing in which the singer’s voice is detached and rather distant in a way that adds to the atmosphere of the song on which Elton John may or may not have played piano; and In Your Tower – the b-side of the very last single by Glasgow band The Poets – a beaty, pacey track with folky flutes.
Chemistry: The Ultimate Collection (Hot Shot HSRXD 017)
Not my thing at all, but The Nolans are held in great affection by many, and for them this album is a must buy. Featuring 20 of the tracks they cut for CBS between 1979 and 1983 - among them all eight of their hit singles, including the Top 10 smashes I’m In The Mood For Dancing, Gotta Pull Myself Together and Attention To Me – it has been digitally remastered from first generation tapes, and thus boasts superior sound. The Anglo-Irish sisters’ slick vocal style is well suited to the ultra-commercial songs, which also include Dressed To Kill, which makes its debut here, and Sexy Music, which won them the Tokyo Music Festival in 1981, and went on to be a major hit in Asia. In fact, the group’s popularity in Japan was such that they released a Japanese language version of I’m In The Mood For Dancing, which promptly topped the chart in Japan and sold 700,000 copies. It is now hard to find and, sadly for fans, it is not here. The CD is packaged alongside a DVD, with clips of eight songs, primarily the hits. Presented in a smart super-jewel case, the album comes with extensive liner notes, including an interview with Anne Nolan.
Westbound Disco (Westbound CDSEWD 162)
A Detroit indie label more commonly associated with high quality mainstream soul, Westbound dipped its toes in the disco pool, and swam where others drowned. Admittedly it stayed in the shallow end, releasing disco records sparingly, but when it did it generally got it right, not least because disco music pioneer Tom Moulton was responsible for some of it, including C.J. & Co’s classic Devil’s Gun, for which he provided the key mix. A soulful and uplifting disco biscuit, produced by Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore but written in Britain by Barry Blue, Ron Roker and Gerry Shury, it was the first record ever played at the legendary Studio 54, and was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Unavailable on CD for more than 20 years, it was recently made available again in The Netherlands as a track on Ben Liebrand’s Grand 12-Inches Volume 16 set, and is now one of 10 lengthy mixes on Westbound Disco. The rest of the tracks strike a balance between familiar – Fantastic Four’s B.Y.O.F. (Bring Your Own Funk) and The Detroit Emeralds’ Feel The Need In Me – and more niche cuts like Freaky People by The Crowd Pleasers and Beat Your Feet by Erasmus Hall. The Westbound imprint is licensed to Ace Records, which also means extensive liner notes, copious illustrations and first-rate mastering are a given.