Climax Blues Band – The Albums 1973 – 1976 boxset review

3 07 2019

Esoteric Recordings are releasing a 4CD clamshell boxed set by the Climax Blues Band, titled The Albums 1973 – 1976. This release is the second collection of Climax Blues Band albums and features their work issued between 1973 and 1976, consisting of the albums FM Live, Sense of Direction, Stamp Album and Gold Plated.

The first disc contains FM Live, a recording of a concert that was broadcast on WNEW-FM in New York in 1973. FM Live gave the band their first major US success. The album highlights the more blues orientated sound of their late 60s / early 70s output.

The original UK release was a single album – this version is the USA double vinyl running order. Highlights on this live album include the wonderful harmonies on I Am Constant and the high-octane, Bo Diddley influenced Shake Your Love.

Disc two in the set is where it gets more interesting for me, with the 1974 studio album Sense of Direction. At this point the band are heading off in a more rock and jazz fusion direction and providing the sounds that would blast out of classic rock / FM radio stations for the next few years.

Amerita / Sense Of Direction opens the album, with a 6 minute track that owes more to the sound of artists such as America or Chicago than to the Climax Blues Band’s Chicago blues origins.

Reaching Out is one of my favourite tracks on this collection, with the song served up on a lovely early 70s groove, with some great guitar lines from Peter Haycock. At this point in their career, the band were really stretching out and hearing this music now instantly transports you back in time to those heady seventies times.

Bonus tracks on this disc consist of the single version of Sense of Direction and a rawer, less polished version of Shopping Bag People.

The third disc is the Stamp Album from 1975, where the band headed further towards a more mainstream sound. From the Rhodes piano and sax driven Using The Power, to the pop-reggae of Mr. Goodtime, the band were now inhabiting the same musical universe as contemporaries such as the Average White Band and the mid-70s work of Robert Palmer.

The smooth harmonies of I Am Constant and the Doobie Brothers style funk of Running Out Of Time are another two early album highlights. The addition of new member Richard Jones opened up the bands pallet at this point, with an added emphasis on keyboards that is really noticeable on the fusion of Rusty Nail / The Devil Knows. The album closes with the expansive arrangement of Cobra, a short instrumental.

The final disc is the bands most successful album, Gold Plated from 1976. Notable for giving the Climax Blues Band their biggest hit, Couldn’t Get It Right, which peaked at No10 in the UK and No3 in the US, the shift to a more pop-friendly sound continued.

The dual guitar and clavinet of Together and Free finds the band setting out their stall early on. Couldn’t Get It Right remains the bands signature tune to this day, and has appeared in film (and game) soundtracks.

Bonus tracks for this album include an extended version of Chasing Change and a rare (and very short) Climax Blues Band ballad, Shadow Man, which reminds me a little of mid-period 10cc.

The Albums 1973 – 1976 is a good introduction to the music of the Climax Blues Band, which will be of interest to lovers of early to mid-70s rock music. This collection houses each disc in replica album sleeve wallets and also includes a new poster.

Buy The Albums 1973-1976 at Amazon

Also available:

The Albums: 1969-1972

Tracklisting for The Albums 1973-1976

Disc One

FM Live (1973)

  1. All The Time In The World
  2. I Am Constant
  3. Flight
  4. Seventh Son
  5. Standing By A River
  6. So Many Roads
  7. Mesopopmania
  8. Country Hat
  9. You Make Me Sick
  10. Shake Your Love
  11. Goin’ To New York (Full Version)
  12. Let’s Work Together

Disc Two

Sense of Direction (1974)

  1. Amerita / Sense Of Direction
  2. Losin’ The Humbles
  3. Shopping Bag People
  4. Nogales
  5. Reaching Out
  6. Right Now
  7. Before You Reach The Grave
  8. Milwaukee Truckin’ Blues (Chipper’s Song)
    Bonus Tracks
  9. Sense Of Direction (Single Version)
  10. Shopping Bag People (Alternate Version)

Disc Three

Stamp Album (1975)

  1. Using The Power
  2. Mr. Goodtime
  3. I Am Constant
  4. Running Out Of Time
  5. Sky High
  6. Rusty Nail / The Devil Knows
  7. Loosen Up
  8. Spirit Returning
  9. Cobra

Disc Four

Gold Plated (1976)

  1. Together And Free
  2. Mighty Fire
  3. Chasing Change
  4. Berlin Blues
  5. Couldn’t Get It Right
  6. Rollin’ Home
  7. Sav’ry Gravy
  8. Extra
    Bonus Tracks
  9. Fat Mabellene
  10. Together And Free (Single Edit)
  11. Chasin’ Change (extended take)
  12. Shadow Man




The Comsat Angels – Chasing Shadows / Fire On The Moon

17 11 2015

chasingshadows2015Edsel records have issued remastered and expanded versions of the first three albums from the influential Sheffield band The Comsat Angels.

The fourth set in the reissue campaign is the long out-of-print Chasing Shadows coupled with the virtually never in print Fire On The Moon.

Chasing Shadows was released on Island Records in 1986, and I own up to the fact that its an album I’m very fond of. I’ve always thought it contains some of Stephen Fellows best vocal performances (I would imagine the setting of Compass Point Studios had something to do with that). The music, although a world away (pun intended) from their first three albums, still carries plenty of (restrained) power.

Album opener The Thought That Counts sets the scene for the album, with stabbing keyboard sequences and arena-rock friendly guitar and drums.

The album includes some of my favourite performances from keyboard player Andy Peake – especially on The Cutting Edge. And that bass / drum interplay!

Under The Influence sounds great on this remastered album – especially the mighty Mik Glaisher powerhouse drums. Carried Away is one of the great lost Comsats classics. Slow-burning and simply arranged, the emotion in the bands performance shines through.

You’ll Never Know features guest vocals from a champion of the band, Robert Palmer, who was also executive producer, and instrumental in getting the band signed to Island Records.

Lost Continent is one of the standout tracks on Chasing Shadows, and is followed by the most powerful track on the album Flying Dreams, which has many of the hallmarks of the bands early albums. I’ve always loved the breakdown “start to climb” instrumental section at the end.

The album ends with the moving Pray For Rain. The Comsats at their most vulnerable – just keyboards, vocals and bass.

“I met my match, but then the fire spread”

Andy Peake really shines on this performance. He is primarily known for his layered, atmospheric playing, but he can really tickle those ivories.

csarecording

The 2015 remaster includes The Cutting Edge single b side, Something’s Got To Give, a fine song and I’m glad its included on this release.

The second disc in this reissue set contains the complete Fire On The Moon, which was released in limited quantities in the USA and Holland in 1990, under the name Dream Command. I have to be honest and say its my least played and least liked Comsats release. There are only two tracks that I can recommend – Venus Hunter (with its Missing In Action inspired guitar ending) and the wonderful Mercury, that could have graced any Comsats album. The rest just don’t have that CSA magic and sound weary and tired.

Remastering / extra tracks

Of the four reissues, this is the album I was looking forward to hearing the most. The original Chasing Shadows CD always sounded too quiet. The 2015 remaster by Phil Kinrade at Alchemy Remastering adds a sparkle to the original album, and makes it a pleasure to rediscover in its new sonic glory.

The sleeve-notes are interesting, and the booklet includes the lyrics to the two albums, although unlike the previous three reissues in the series, the booklet is short on images from the era. But its all about the music – and although I’m not a fan of the second disc, Chasing Shadows does not disappoint and makes this reissue a must-have for Comsat Angels fans.

Chasing Shadows + Dream Command Fire On The Moon (Deluxe 2CD edition)

DISC ONE
The Comsat Angels Chasing Shadows
1. The Thought That Counts
2. The Cutting Edge
3. Under The Influence
4. Carried Away
5. You’ll Never Know
6. Lost Continent
7. Flying Dreams
8. Pray For Rain
Bonus track
9. Something’s Got To Give

DISC TWO
Dream Command Fire On The Moon
1. Celestine
2. Whirlwind
3. Sleepwalking
4. Reach For Me
5. Ice Sculpture
6. Venus Hunter
7. Phantom Power
8. Transport Of Delight
9. She’s Invisible
10. Mercury

Chasing Shadows 180 gram Heavyweight black vinyl
1. The Thought That Counts
2. The Cutting Edge
3. Under The Influence
4. Carried Away
5. You’ll Never Know
6. Lost Continent
7. Flying Dreams
8. Pray For Rain

Fire On The Moon 180 gram Heavyweight black vinyl
1. Celestine
2. Whirlwind
3. Sleepwalking
4. Reach For Me
5. Ice Sculpture
6. Venus Hunter
7. Phantom Power
8. Transport Of Delight
9. She’s Invisible
10. Mercury

Buy the album

Buy Chasing Shadows / Fire On The Moon Double CD on Amazon

Buy Chasing Shadows vinyl on Amazon

Buy Fire On The Moon vinyl on Amazon

Also available…


Buy Waiting For A Miracle Double CD from Amazon

Buy Waiting For A Miracle vinyl on Amazon

Buy Sleep No More Double CD from Amazon

Buy Sleep No More vinyl on Amazon

Buy Fiction Double CD from Amazon

Buy Fiction vinyl on Amazon

 

Visit The Comsat Angels – Sleep No More website








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