Swing Out Sister: Blue Mood, Breakout And Beyond box-set review

22 06 2022

Swing Out Sister: Blue Mood, Breakout And Beyond – The Early Years Part 1 is an 8CD Box Set released by Cherry Red on July 29 2022.

Swing Out Sister - Blue Mood, Breakout & Beyond album cover

The collection contains Swing Out Sister’s ‘Early Years’, collecting the albums from 1985 – 1992 and on discs 5 to 8: B-Sides, 7” mixes, remixes and rare versions.

The albums included are It’s Better To Travel (1987), Kaleidoscope World (1989), Get In Touch With Yourself (1992) and Live At The Jazz Cafe (1993).

The booklet contains a full track annotation and rare memorabilia with illustrations by Corinne Drewery and sleeve notes by SDE writer Paul Sinclair, who has spoken to band members current and past.

Disc one is the bands debut, It’s Better To Travel. Opening with their signature song, Breakout, followed by my favourite Swing Out Sister track, Twilight World. The song contains so many of my favourite elements of the 80s – subtle percussion, iconic synths, real strings and a lovely mid-pace, caught between a 7″ and a 12″ arrangement. Adding Corinne’s instantly recognisable jazz-tinged vocals to the mix equals pop-heaven.

Swing Out Sister - It's Better To Travel

The album is a mix of up-tempo tracks and pop ballads. Surrender and Fooled By A Smile are superb singles, instantly transporting me back to a time of 4 TV channels, Top Of The Pops, Night Network and extended 12″ vinyl remixes. Album producer Paul O’Duffy cut his teeth in the club remix field, before moving on to the first albums by Hipsway and Curiosity Killed the Cat, and so was perfectly qualified to add pop, jazz and dance layers to this album.

Communion has always remained a personal favourite, with its lightness of touch and warm, late-night chorus, plus the percussion influenced by 80s Go-go rhythms from the USA. The slightly discordant switch in tempo just past the half-way mark, and the guitar on the outro section always hits the spot.

It’s Better To Travel is one of my favourite 80s vinyl albums, and well worth tracking down if you don’t own a copy.

Disc two contains Kaleidoscope World, with producer Paul O’Duffy remaining on board for this and the bands third album. Kaleidoscope World has more of a 60s feel, and a slightly wider musical palette. There also appears to have been a more extensive recording budget, with guest appearances from the likes of guitarists Vini Reilly (the Durutti Column, Pauline Murray) and Phil Palmer (Dire Straits, George Michael, David Sylvian) plus arrangements by Richard Niles and the legendary Jimmy Webb.

Swing Out Sister - Kaleidoscope World

You On My Mind continues in a similar vein to the debut album, but there is a definite switch away from synths to acoustic instruments, which suits the 60s mood that pervades many of the songs, such as Heart for Hire.

The synths do make a slight return on Waiting Game, whilst Precious Words has a touch of the lounge-music of The Girl From Ipanema.

The widescreen, adventurous pop arrangement of Masquerade is a revelation, and is my favourite track on the album.

There is a clear progression evident on Kaleidoscope World and the addition of new styles and fresh musicians definitely adds variety and new flavours to the mix.

On the band’s third album, Get In Touch With Yourself from 1992, Luís Jardim (known for his work with ZTT bands, and a fine percussionist) appears more prominently to replace the recently departed founding member Martin Jackson. The guest musicians list is shorter on album number three, giving a slightly less adventurous feel. Get In Touch With Yourself is still a good pop album, and contains one of their finest singles, Am I The Same Girl?, a rare Swing Out Sister cover version.

Swing Out Sister - Get In Touch With Yourself

Everyday Crime contains some delicious Shaft style guitar and an updating of the SOS template. Understand is a pop/Soul track that has stood the test of time, with some rich backing vocals.

Don’t Say The Word has an addictive drum pattern and Love Child feels like it was influenced by the rolling percussion and deep strings of Massive Attack’s Blue Lines album from the previous year.

Live At The Jazz Cafe was recorded in December 1992, and features a 10 piece band. You On My Mind works particularly well in a live setting, as does the jazzier, extended live take of Surrender. No surprises for my picking Twilight World as my favourite from the live album. The jazz-tinged arrangement shines a fresh light on this interesting reworking of such a wonderful song.

The remaining discs in the box-set collect remixes, single edits and b-sides. You want 7 mixes of Twilight World, you got it!

On the final disc (b-sides and edits) lie some gems. Coney Island Man is a lyric free, Burt Bacharach inspired piece. The Swing Out Sister cover of the classic Windmills of Your Mind is a piano and vocals version, recorded live for a radio station. Taxi Town harks back to the first album, with a heavier use of electronics. A slow-burning experimental piece, its unlike anything else released by the band.

This boxset brings together everything you need from this era of Swing Out Sisters career, and along with the informative sleeve-notes, makes this a must buy for fans of 80s and early 90s pop music.

Buy Swing Out Sister: Blue Mood, Breakout And Beyond – The Early Years Part 1 from Amazon

DISC ONE
ITS BETTER TO TRAVEL
Breakout
Twilight World (Superb, Superb, Mix)
After Hours
Blue Mood
Surrender
Fooled By A Smile
Communion
It’s Not Enough
Theme (From – ‘It’s Better To Travel’)

DISC TWO
KALEIDOSCOPE WORLD
You On My Mind
Where In The World?
Forever Blue
Heart For Hire
Tainted
Waiting Game
Precious Words
Masquerade
Between Strangers
The Kaleidoscope Affair
Precious Words – Instrumental
Forever Blue – String Mix
Masquerade – Instrumental

DISC THREE
GET IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF
Get In Touch With Yourself
Am I The Same Girl?
Incomplete Without You
Everyday Crime
Circulate
Who Let the Love Out?
Understand
Notgonnachange
Don’t Say The Word
Love Child
Everyday Crime – Instrumental

DISC FOUR

LIVE AT THE JAZZ CAFE
Get In Touch With Yourself
You On My Mind
Surrender
Everyday Crime
Twilight World
Circulate
Am I The Same Girl?
Breakout
Notgonnachange
Who Let the Love Out / Expansions / Coney Island Man / Wives & Lovers?

DISC FIVE
MIXES
Blue Mood – Dubbed-Up Version
Blue Mood – Growler Mix
Breakout- A New Rockin’ Version
Breakout – NAD Mix
Breakout – Horny Version
Breakout – Carnival Mix
Fooled By A Smile – Ralph Mix
Fooled By A Smile – TV Mix
Breakout – American Instrumental Mix
Communion – Instrumental
Fooled By A Smile – Phi Phi Mix
Twilight World – Remix

DISC SIX

MORE MIXES
Twilight World – The World Travel Mix
Twilight World – Vocal Dub
Twilight World – Classical Dub
Twilight World – Instrumental
Twilight World – Beat Your Sister Dub
Surrender – Stuff Gun Mix
Surrender – Pop Stand Remix
Surrender – Roadrunner Mix
Precious Words – Orchestral Mix
Waiting Game – Extended Version
Waiting Game – Remix Edit
Waiting Game – Ultimix
Waiting Game – Dub

DISC SEVEN:

EVEN MORE MIXES
Where In The World? – Bongo Fury Mix
Where In The World? – Radical Mix
You On My Mind – Extended Version
Precious Words – Earth Bound Mix
Am I The Same Girl – Bubba’s Version
Notgonnachange – Classic Club
Notgonnachange – Classic Song Mix
Notgonnachange – Mix Of Drama
Notgonnachange – Dashi I Mix
Notgonnachange – O’Duffy’s 7-inch Mix
Notgonnachange – New Jack Swing Out Mix
Am I The Same Girl – Instrumental

DISC EIGHT:

B-SIDES / EDITS
Wake Me When It’s Over – B-Side
Dirty Money – B-Side
Who’s To Blame – B-Side
Another Lost Weekend – B-Side
Fever – B-Side
Coney Island Man – B-Side
Taxi Town – B-Side
Windmills Of Your Mind – ‘Where In The World’ Bonus Track
Spirit Moves – B-Side
I Can Hear You But Can’t See
Alone – Notgonnachange Bonus Track
Surrender – 7-inch Version
Twilight World – Single Edit
Notgonnachange – Edit
Circulate – Live Version (Japanese Single)

Buy Swing Out Sister: Blue Mood, Breakout And Beyond – The Early Years Part 1 from Amazon








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