Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases.
Motörhead (Chiswick Cdwikd 338)
Hard rock legends Motorhead hit the ground running with their eponymous 1977 debut album, which defined their style and was immediately successful. Four decades after the fact, it is the subject of this 40th anniversary expanded digipack edition, which adds a dozen bonus tracks: the b-side City Kids, the four tracks from the band's Beer Drinkers & Hellraisers EP and seven previously unheard alternate mixes from the album's original sessions. Thus increasing the album's playing time from 32 minutes to 78 minutes, it is nevertheless entirely complementary to the original release, with the band's signature song - also called Motorhead - taking on a fresh, alternative feel in a version that features alternate but still distinctive raspy vocals from Lemmy and a different guitar solo. Its breakneck delivery, incendiary guitar solo and economic execution were a template for the band's future work, and quite unlike anything that had gone before. It is a juggernaut of an album, steamrolling along at great pace and with a density of sound that belies the fact that Motorhead were only a three piece band. Likely to be a very popular release with the band's still considerable fanbase, it is accompanied by an extremely informative 24 page booklet, with annotation from Ace Records' Ted Carroll, and rare illustrations, including the band's original handwritten thank yous and early publicity shots.
Saturday Night Fever (Virgin/Capitol/UMe tbc)
One of the 10 biggest-selling albums of all-time, the soundtrack to director John Badham's box office smash, was composed and performed primarily by The Bee Gees and served to make them the hottest act of the era, as well as providing a perfect accompaniment to the film. To mark the 40th anniversary of its original release, there's a stand-alone remastered 2 CD version of the soundtrack, an identical digital edition and a deluxe box set which adds a heavyweight (180gm) 2 LP set, a blu ray disc featuring a newly restored print of the film, a slipmat, art prints and a movie poster. We'll concern ourselves only with the album here and I have to say that impressive as it remains, the bonus content is more than a little disappointing, with the second CD consisting of just four tracks - remixes by Serban Ghenea that actually stray very little from the originals. I'm sure there must be some relevant previously unreleased material around - and even if not, it would have been a perfect vehicle for single edits, incidental music from the film, the four extended and rare disco versions that made-up the Bee Gees' 2015 Record Store Day vinyl release and much more. With that caveat in mind, it is hard to improve on the original album, with the Bee Gees' own Stayin' Alive, How Deep Is Your Love, Night Fever, More Than A Woman, You Should Be Dancin' and Jive Talkin'; covers of Gibb songs by Yvonne Elliman and The Tavares; Walter Murphy's disco homage to Beethoven; hustling instrumentals from David Shire; and The Trammps' expansive Disco Inferno - which runs nearly 11 minutes - among the highlights.
Matt Bianco (Cherry Pop WCRPOPD 188)
Hot on the heels of their similar upgrading of Matt Bianco's 1984 debut Whose Side Are You On, Cherry Red's Cherry Pop imprint is releasing this 2 CD deluxe edition of their eponymous second album, dating from 1986. Expanded to 31 tracks - the original 10 song album plus 21 bonus tracks, 13 of which are on CD for the first time and four of which have never been released before - it gathers together all of the singles, b-sides, remixes and alternate versions that are relevant, and even includes Love Situation, a minor solo hit for Matt Bianco member Mark Fisher, who sadly died last year. Matt Bianco had a terrific uplifting style, combining sophisticated pop with Latin influences. This is best exemplified by their update of Georgie Fame's 1960s chart-topper Yeh Yeh, which is powered by a bossa nova beat, and climbed as high as No.13 in the chart. It was, perhaps surprisingly, the only Top 20 hit from the set, though the more minor hits Just Can't Stand It and Dancing In The Street (an original, in case you wondered) deserved more. It's slick, feelgood music that doesn't sound dated despite the passing of more than 30 years since its first release, and fully deserves its return to availability, after a lengthy absence.