Music Week's round-up of the latest reissues and catalogue releases.
Cosmic Sounds (El WACMEM 333CD)
The eccentric and eclectic El label is the ideal home for this 50th anniversary reissue of a concept album that first saw the light of day on Elektra and was aimed at cashing in on the coming of 'the age of Aquarius' and growing interest in all things astrological. It consists of a dozen far-out experimental electronic musical soundbeds that accompany astrological readings for each of the star signs. The one that is apparently the most interesting is Taurus, on which narrator Cyrus Faryar spends three minutes and 41 seconds discussing its merits on a track called The Voluptuary. I am a Sagittarian, a sign that gets the shortest shrift, with a perfunctory 2:11 expanded on The Versatile Daredevil, wherein I learn that I bring 'laugher to the clowns' and 'tell fortunes to the gypsies', but little else. Much-favoured by John Peel on his legendary Perfumed Garden programme on pirate station Radio London, it's a load of amiable nonsense, but for lovers of the kitsch and of early synth albums with psychedelic overtones it has been a cult album for years, and one that is considerably easier and cheaper to come by thanks to this re-release.
Cool Heat: The Best Of CTI Records (Robinsongs ROBIN 18CDD)
Arguably the coolest jazz label in the decade or so following its 1967 inception by A&R man and producer Creed Taylor, CTI and its Kudo imprint are celebrated in fine style by this 2CD, 25-song collection, which is further elevated by informative liner notes from Mojo writer Charles Waring. Among the many highlights are Super Ship, George Benson's first hit from 1975, and an early example of his transition from respected jazz guitarist to revered R&B vocalist; Esther Phillips' hustling disco remake of 1930s standard What A Diff'rence A Day Makes, which bristles with energy and trades on her idiosyncratic but irresistible vocal style; and Eumir Deodato's funky reinvention of Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra. Furthermore, Patti Austin's Say You Love Me is a delight; Nina Simone's skanking reggae take on Randy Newman's Baltimore is a triumph; and supergroup Fuse One's recording of member Ronnie Foster's Grand Prix is a winner.
The Detroit Emeralds
I Think Of You: The Westbound Singles 1969-75 (Westbound CDSEWD 160)
Best known in the UK for a trio of 1973 Top 30 hits - Feel The Need In Me, You Want It You Got It and I Think Of You (the first of which was revamped to become a hit again in 1977) - The Detroit Emeralds recorded a more significant canon for their hometown label Westbound, and were regular visitors to the R&B chart in America scoring 11 hits. Two of these fall outside the remit of this album but the others, and a further 14 recordings which represent their entire singles output for the label between 1969 and 1975, are included herein. Mostly penned by Abrim 'Abe' Tilmon - one of four brothers in the group's original incarnation although only he and Ivory (Ivry) were in the band's hit incarnation which was fronted by their childhood friend James Mitchell - they include soulful, sublime ballads and terrific uptempo tracks, which the band perform with equal flair. Mitchell's baritone tends to be to the fore but the Tilmon brothers provided some sweet seasoning, and the trio deservedly command great love and respect to this day. Extensive liner notes are included, competing a package which was prepared with great attention to detail, extending even to recreating the UK mono mix edit of I Think Of You for which no master tape exists.