What does it sound like?:
A 4 disc box set expanding an album I’ve lived with for more than 40 years, as familiar as the back of my hand. A set put together by the fine fellows at Cherry Red, who have acquired the rights to the Be Bop back catalogue. Inevitable, I suppose, that they choose to start their reissue campaign with the album that contains the one real hit Be Bop ever had, but it would have been nice to do them in chronolgical order.
Disc 1 is a remaster of the original mix with the addition of the single edit of Ships In The Night (the hit!), a familiar old friend featuring all Bill Nelson’s regular gifts and foibles, He always had a way with a florid, image-laden lyric and interesting guitar work, although on this album, I’ve always felt he was often straining too hard for the ultimate, knock-your-socks-off solo rather than letting it flow. Still a great collection of intelligent, well constructed songs that have been a bit part of my life for so long.
Disc 2 is the real treasure in this set, a new mix of the album with 6 additional bonus tracks, none of which have been previously available. The new mix is an absolute revelation, crisp and clean, bringing out much detail previously hidden in the original (by comparison muddy) mix. In particular, Andy Clark’s excellent keyboard work is much more prominent. The bonus tracks have a couple of ‘first versions’ and some alternate vocal tracks, along with a mystery demo entitled ‘The Mystery Demo’.
Disc 3 contains conemporary BBC sessions, an In Concert set from January 1976 (which appeared on the 2013 ‘At The BBC 1974-1978’ compilation, and a Peel Session from the following month (which was last available on the 1998 BBC sessions set ‘Tramcar To Tomorrow’). The In Concert set does have a pretty horrible, screechy keyboard sound (which I don’t recall from the previous version of that set).
Disc 4 (not part of the review set) is a DVD containing a 5.1 hi-res surround sound mix of the album, the 1976 Whistle Test performance and a promo video for – inevitably – Ships In The Night.
What does it all *mean*?
A test of resolve for anyone who thinks they need another 8 versions of Ships In The Night…
A welcome chance to reappraise a familiar old friend. I’ll be playing the new mix ahead of the original, I think.
Hopefully a few quid heading the way of Bill Nelson, something he didn’t see much of on previous reissues, even though the old goat has been having a bit of a moan in his website jourmal about being obliged to delve back into the past, which he isn’t keen on doing, and has little recall of in any case.At least it meant a pleasant reunion with old friend and original producer John Leckie. It also got in the way of preparations for his 70th birthday Plectronica show (which happened last night in Leeds).
Goes well with…
Might suit people who like…
Intelligent, well constucted and played rock songs. Followers, like myself, of the long, varied and still prolific career (at the latest count, he’s got something like 15 albums completed and queueing for release) of Mr. William Nelson, probably the best thing that ever came out of Wakefield.