Reissues (September 27): Revisiting The Beatles' Abbey Road, plus Bonnie Tyler and The Who

Reissues (September 27): Revisiting The Beatles' Abbey Road, plus Bonnie Tyler and The Who

Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases, including The Beatles, Treasure Isle Ska Rarities, Bonnie Tyler and The Who...

Abbey Road (Apple/UMC 7792112)

Recorded after Let It Be but released before it, Abbey Road was the Beatles’ glorious last hurrah, with the fab four working together rather more harmoniously and smoothly to deliver one last masterpiece. As Paul McCartney observes in the foreword to this special  ‘super deluxe’ disc edition, released 50 years after the fact, “The Beatles recording journey had gone through many twists and turns, learning curves and thrilling rides. Here we were – still wondering at the magic of it all.” This is the first time that Abbey Road has been remixed and presented with additional session recordings and demos, with original producer George Martin’s song Giles using his late father’s mixes to inform and guide his own. And it is a towering work, whose 17 original tracks are sympathetically retouched, and supplemented by a further 23 demos and alternate takes, on a pair of additional CDs, while a blu-ray disc accommodates 5.1 surround and Dolby Atmos mixes. The set is housed in a slip-sleeved 12”x12” 100-page hardbound book, featuring track-by-track annotations, essays, rare and previously unpublished illustrations and much more.  It is a surprising fact that the only single lifted from Abbey Road – a double A-sided release pairing George Harrison’s sumptuous Something and John Lennon’s rousing but lyrically impenetrable Come Together – was the least successful Beatles singles since their debut release, Love Me Do. Both have aged magnificently, although a song that was given less attention at the time – Harrison’s Here Comes The Sun – has emerged not only as the most popular track on Abbey Road in the digital era, but also the most popular song in the entire Beatles canon. Although McCartney’s Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and Starr’s Octopus’ Garden are slight novelties, they are pleasant punctuations in proceedings, alongside the hard rocking Lennon ode I Want You (She’s So Heavy), McCartney’s equally rocky Oh! Darling, the beautiful pseudo-classical Because, with its stunning harmonies and, of course, the show-stopping medley that includes Mean. Mr Mustard, Polythene Pam and Golden Slumbers. The bonus tracks here include two very different versions of Something, the first with George accompanied primarily by piano, the second being a breathtaking instrumental version featuring only the strings. Although neither track made the original Abbey Road, there are superb McCartney demos of Goodbye, a perky song that he sings in a higher register, and that was eventually gifted to Mary Hopkin; and Come And Get It, which was a hit for Badfinger. Elsewhere, there’s a slower version of Mean Mr. Mustard, a fine early take of Old Brown Shoe – a George Harrison song that served as the flip to The Ballad Of John & Yoko – and three takes of Her Majesty, Paul McCartney’s sweet but short (25 seconds) and uncredited album closer that is missing its final note on the original album but resolves nicely here. In addition to the super deluxe set mentioned above, there is a deluxe 3 LP vinyl set with all 40 songs (800744); a deluxe 2 CD set (7791507) that subtracts seven of the bonus cuts; and a standard release of the new stereo mix with no bonus tracks, in single CD (800743), vinyl (7791512) and picture disc vinyl (804888) editions. (Alan Jones)

Treasure Isle Ska Rarities (Trojan TJTCD 575)

Duke Reid was a colourful character who initially pursued a career as a policeman, and ended his working life as a magistrate – but in between, he ran Treasure Isle Liquor Store & Recording Studios, dispensing drink and music from the same premises. Initially contemptuous of ska - preferring US R&B - Reid eventually came around but his twist on it resulted in longer songs and more complex arrangements than most, all played by Kingston’s finest sessioneers. Treasure Isle Ska Rarities consists entirely of recordings made for the label between 1964 and 1966, and of the 84 tracks that sprawl across this 3 CD set, no fewer than 15 are previously unreleased, while 44 make their CD debut, 20 have been unavailable in the format for at least a decade and five don’t even have the identity of their artists documented. A true Treasure Isle treasure chest, it is full of familiar ska names – Justin Hinds, Derrick Morgan, Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, The Zodiacs and The Skatalites among them – but a large number of unfamiliar but enthralling recordings. Opening with Owen & Leon Silvera’s jaunty Practice What You Preach it includes The Silvertones’ first take of the excellent True Confessions, the second take of a spirited romp called The Conqueror, rendered by an unknown vocal duo, and The Sensations’ brassily-tinkering I Found My Love. Clad in a designer digipack, the set also includes a 12-page booklet, packed with images and insights. (Alan Jones)

The RCA Years (Cherry Pop CRPOPBOX 201)

Eventually to enjoy enormous fame with Columbia, Bonnie Tyler had a moderately successful apprenticeship with RCA, where she released four albums – all uncharted – securing three hit singles. Now gathered together in this box set with the artist’s blessing, it is a one-stop destination for her entire RCA oeuvre. The albums - The World Starts Tonight (1977), Natural Force (1978), Diamond Cut (1979) and Goodbye To The Island (1981) – consist largely of melodic pop songs penned by her then managers Steve Wolfe and Ronnie Scott. The World Starts Tonight was a strong debut, with Tyler’s distinctive husky vocals - a little lighter prior to the removal of throat nodules – proving a perfect foil for the pleasing semi-acoustic singalong Lost In France, and the more intense More Than A Lover, which were both hits, though the latter’s suggestive lyrics earned it a BBC ban. Not originally on the album and not a chart single, My! My! Honeycomb – a rousing song replete with some fine slide guitar work - was an airplay hit, and is one of two bonus tracks here. Natural Force housed only one hit single but it was the international smash It’s A Heartache, which topped the chart in nine countries, and reached No.4 here. Although a solid set, Diamond Cut failed to produce any hits, and led to a change of direction for Tyler’s last RCA album, Goodbye To The Island which saw her moving in a more MOR direction, and included more covers than its predecessors, including versions of Dan Hill’s hit Sometimes When We Touch, Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade Of Pale and country standard The Wild Side Of Life. It is pleasant but unexceptional. Packaged in replica sleeves alongside an informative 6,000-word booklet, The RCA Years includes several versions of Tyler’s uptempo club hit and film theme The World Is Full Of Married Men, an alternative version of Sitting On The Edge Of The Ocean and several other interesting items among its 21 bonus tracks. (Alan Jones)

Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 

This October, EarMusic/Edel are rolling out the initial phase of their EarMusic Classics range, all of which will be issued in gatefold double/triple vinyl, and bundled with a CD version. The first – of a whopping 200 planned titles – are: Deep Purple In Concert With The London Symphony Orchestra (on vinyl for the first time), Yes Live From House Of Blues, Blondie Live 1999, Jethro Tull’s Living With The Past, Gary Numan’s Live At Shepherd’s Bush Empire, ZZ Top’s Live From Texas and Rainbow’s Monsters Of Rock At Donington 1980. The standout, however, is The Who’s legendary Live At The Isle Of Weight Festival 1970 –  a set which started at 2am and still managed to keep an estimated 600,000 strong crowd enthralled. It remains a stunning snapshot of a band in breathtaking form during the majestic strains of Naked Eye. Yes, it has been available before in numerous editions over the years, but nevertheless this remains an essential release. (GG)


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