SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Billy Ocean: Remixes and Rarities 2CD

REMIXES & RARITIES  Billy Ocean
The latest in Cherry Pop’s excellent series ‘Remixes & Rarities’ (I’ve previously reviewed Flock of Seagulls and Amii Stewart) is this entry by Billy Ocean. If anyone was ripe for the remix treatment Billy is a dead cert. There has been unofficial remixes floating about but now this new 2CD set brings together 23 tracks, a number of which appearing for the first time here, all mastered superbly.Its been over 40 years since I remember getting the first promo single ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ back in 1976. I remember reviewing that and praising Billy for his voice and the extremely catchy chorus.  The following year he had a further hit with my own personal favourite ‘ Red Light (Spells Danger)’ and I was lucky enough to work with him on two occasions and can certainly attest to what a lovely. modest guy he is. In the years that have followed he’s had UK/USA No.1’s, and been awarded a Grammy, Ivor Novello and MOBO lifetime achievement award. Kicking off this set is the irresistable ‘When the Going Gets Tough (extended version) one of four versions (extended, instrumental, club, and 7th Heaven Club Mix).
If ever a song was going to get you on your feet this is it! This is followed by another biggie in Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run) interestedly it’s titled ‘African Queen’ here and  another version also appears titled ‘European Queen’ I didn’t know it had different titles in different territories, I live and learn! Yet again the suggestion was made by the mogul Clive Davis who seems to crop up in every other review I write! ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ gets two mixes a 1986 Dance Mix and a Dub Mix. Maybe lesser known (here in the UK) are fine versions of ‘American Hearts’, ‘Licence To Chill’ and ‘Loverboy’. Then its definitely all back on the dance floor for a Extended 8.59 min mix of ‘Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car’ another classic floorfiller. Great title, and lets not forget that Billy wrote/co wrote all his major hits, a fact I think often overlooked. This is a great collection if you’re having a summer party/barbeque on a summers evening, though invite the neighbours as this should be enjoyed LOUD to really feel those beats. Billy is currently finishing his eleventh studio album and touring throughout the UK, US and Australia alongside the equally great Beverley Knight and Jess Glynne (who seems to duet with everyone!) Along with the already mentioned excellent mastering the set contains a very informative 16 page colour booklet and is released this coming Friday (23rd). I’ll leave you with the original WTGGT until someone posts the remix (I do rather enjoy the ‘backing vocalists…). Enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time…………………………….Colin

 

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Girl In A Million (The Complete Recordings) Twinkle 2cd set

GIRL IN A MILLION (The Complete Recordings)  Twinkle
Housed in a deluxe digipack, as the title suggests, this release brings together all of Twinkle’s output for the first time, from the hit Decca period through to later releases on Instant. President and Bradleys. Twinkle (real name Lynn Ripley) is of course remembered for ‘Terry’ a so called (by the press) ‘death disc’ coming on the heels of others like ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ and the Shangri-La’s ‘Leader of The Pack’ released a couple of months before ‘Terry’ became a no.4 hit in December 1964. ‘Terry’ might have been a simplistic teenage angst song, however it should be noted that she was a mere 14 when she wrote it, and having racked my brain I can’t think of another female singer/songwriter who had been in the charts before. Twinkle’s background couldn’t have been any further from the world she was writing about. Growing up in a mansion in Surrey hers was a world of priviledge and wealth, she attended school with the likes of Camilla Parker-Bowles, frequented Royal Ascot and went to the South of France with Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev. She was however a rebel and from a tender age hung out at London clubs Esmeralda’s Barn (notoriously owned by the Krays at one time) and The Cromwellian. Her boyfriend was Dec Cluskey (the Batchelors) and it was Dec that arranged the demo of ‘Terry’ to be heard by Decca, who immediately signed her. Although she’ll always be remembered for ‘Terry’ there was so much more to Twinkle. Her follow up single ‘Golden Lights’ is a glorious slice of pop and one of my own personal favourite female vocal songs of the 60’s, a view shared by Morrisey in the 80’s when he covered it in The Smiths, he simply loved her.
Her vocal on Golden Lights is far more representative of her work, highlights of Disc 1 include ‘Aint Nobody Home By Me, ‘Tommy’, a great cover of Skeeter Davis’s ‘The End Of The World’ , ‘Micky’ an insanely catchy earworm of a song (not the Toni Basil song!) and topped off with the previously unissued live ‘Sha-La-La-La-Lee’ (Small Faces), which could have come from the NME Poll Winners show? Disc 2 mainly comprises of the ‘Michael Hannah’ LP.
Michael was the great love of Twinkle’s life who died at an early age in a plane crash, the songs are poignant ‘Caroline’ ‘Joanna’ and ‘Soldier’ in particular and shows the fragile state of Twinkles mind at the time. Concluding the set under ‘Later Recordings’ is a take on Neil Diamonds ‘I’m A Believer’ and her self penned ‘Holiday Romance’ another glorious and mature track. Twinkle was never concerned with the money and adulation of the music business, in her won words she ‘just wanted to be famous’. Well she certainly achieved her goal. Sadly after a five year battle with cancer she passed away on the 21st May 2015 after a happy life. RIP Twinks and thanks for the music. The 2cd set is released this Friday 19th on RPM Records,

Til next time……………..Happy Easter To All,

Colin

Alan Esdaile… According to Keith Tooke, Twinkle spent here honeymoon in Hastings 72/73 staying at the Queens Hotel.

Tony Court-holmes… poor girl

Sue James… I have Terry the single

Josie Lawson… I loved this song. I had the 45 record. Must have worn it out. Played and played it cos my first boyfriend had a motorbike..no he didn’t crash but he broke my heart. Anyway, listening today and seeing Twinkle singing it, in my opinion didn’t give the same impact. I find this with many songs. Listening to them either from record, tape, radio gives them more of an impact than seeing the singers sing them. There has only being two singers in my opinion who are great at both and that are Gerry from Gerry and the Pacemakers and Gene Pitney…

Pete Brazier… Can’t wait! Sounds like A Good Album to get!

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing The Definitive Collection by Bar-Kays 3CD Digipak

Very pleased to have this come through for review. The Bar Kays will always have a special place in my heart for several reasons. Firstly their anthem ‘Soul Finger’ was the first promotional 45 I ever received (can’t believe that was 50 years plus ago!) and secondly was used by fellow DJ the great late Stuart Henry as his ‘theme intro’ im sure those of you with long memories will remember and whenever I here it my thoughts return to him and his shows on Radio 1 and Luxembourg (latterly with his wife Ollie) much missed but not forgotten. The history of the Bar Kays is a long and illustrious one from their early soul and r’n’b in the 60’s and 70’s moving into the ultimate funk band in the 80’s. The booklet with this 3CD is a comprehensive and hugely informative read. This release is the first time their recordings have encompassed all the best tracks from Stax, Volt, Mercury, and Warner Bros labels, covering the period from 1967 to 1989. Kicking off on Disc 1 naturally enough with ‘Soul Finger’ released in April 1967 a hit both in the USA, the UK and worldwide, SF was and is a joyous slice of soul and has been covered hundreds of times and used in many movies and still sounds fresh today. The BK’s were Otis Reddings backing band and together a dynamite act. Then in December (10th) 1967 came the terrible tragedy when the plane carrying Otis and 5 members of the band went down killing Otis and 4 members with only the trumpet player Ben Cauley surviving. Ben along with bassist James Alexander (who was travelling on a separate plane) bravely rebuilt the band with later Larry Dodson on lead vocals who stayed fronting the band from 1970 until his retirement in 2017. The BK’s were the ‘house band’ for so many of Stax/Volt artists of the day. For me their greatest contribution in that form was backing Isaac Hayes on his seminal 1969 album ‘Hot Buttered Soul’ which is my all time favourite soul album and one I still listen to regularly to this day. As aforementioned Disc 1 covers this early period and contains some classics ‘Son Of Shaft’ ‘Don’t Stop Dancing’ ‘Money Talks’ and Shut The Funk Up’ are just some of the highlights. The fat bassline on ‘Six O’clock News’ is just sublime. Disc 2 gets more into a funk mood with the opener ‘Give it Up’ an irresistible groove which sets the tone for classics like ‘Move Your Boogie Body”Get Up’N Do It’ (giving James Brown more than a run for the money] ‘Boogie Body Land’ ‘Traffic Jammer’ and ‘Night Cruising’ are just a few more of the highlights, but there’s truly not a weak track to be found. The final Disk 3 is even funkier (if that’s possible!) kicking off with ‘She Talks To Me With Her Body’ ‘Sexomatic’ ‘Freakshow On The Dance Floor’ ‘Dirty Dancer’ and ‘Do It’ are just some of the featured tracks that make you just wan’t to get up and dance, if you’re not feeling it you better check your pulse! Many of the tracks were hits in the USA if not so readily known here (only getting airtime on specialist shows). To sum up this is a stellar collection of 46 tracks with some truly outstanding music created by truly outstanding musicians. Five stars all the way and well done Robinsongs label for getting this out there. Release date is 8th March. Enjoy.
For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time……..Colin