THE BEST 50 REISSUES OF 2015-PART FOUR.

THE BEST 50 REISSUES OF 2015-PART FOUR.

LED ZEPPELIN-IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR-DELUXE EDITION.

On 15th August 1979, Led Zeppelin released their eighth studio album In Through the Out Door. By then, they were one of the biggest selling bands in the world. Their first seven studio albums and their 1976 live album The Song Remains The Same, had sold eighty-three million copies in America alone. Worldwide Led Zeppelin’s albums had sold over 100 million copies. However, little did the four members of Led Zeppelin realise that In Through the Out Door, which was recently reissued as a two CD Deluxe Edition, marked the end of an era.  

In Through The Out Door was the last album to feature the original lineup of Led Zeppelin. Sadly, In Through The Out Door also proved to be Led Zeppelin’s final studio album.

While In Through The Out Door wasn’t their finest moment, it wasn’t a a terrible album. Especially considering that Jimmy Page was addicted to heroin and John Bonham was an alcoholic. Led Zeppelin dug deep, and came up with an album that sees them flit between musical genres. There’s everything from blues, country, Latin, progressive rock and rock. Not just any rock, but Led Zeppelin at their heaviest. However, there were also synths, which Led Zeppelin were beginning to incorporate into their sound. This divided opinion, but Atlantic Records reissue during 2015 allows people to reevaluate In Through The Out Door, which is one of the most underrated Led Zeppelin albums.

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LED ZEPPELIN-PHYSICAL GRAFFITI-DELUXE EDITION.

2015 marks the 40th anniversary of what was Led Zeppelin’s most ambitious and eclectic album, Physical Graffiti. This was Led Zeppelin’s sixth album since their 1969 eponymous debut. However, Physical Graffiti was a first for Led Zeppelin. Physical Graffiti the first double album that Led Zeppelin had released. Originally, though Physical Graffiti was meant to  be a single album. However, the eight songs overran. So, Led Zeppelin decided that Physical Graffiti should become a double album. 

Featuring thirteen tracks, spread over four sides of vinyl, Physical Graffiti was Led Zeppelin’s most ambitious and eclectic album. From Led Zeppelin’s usual hard rocking style, Physical Graffiti took diversions via acoustic rock ’n’ roll, balladry, blues rock, country rock, prog rock and soft rock. There was even the fusion of orchestral rock and Eastern influences that was Kashmir, a Led Zeppelin classic. With such an eclectic album, it’s no surprise that Physical Graffiti won over to critics, cultural commentators and record buyers.

Physical Graffiti was reissued by Atlantic Records in February 2015,  and is, without doubt, a classic album. Although it was released forty years ago, Physical Graffiti is a truly timeless album, one that has stood the test of time and has gone on to inspire several generations of musicians. That’s why Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin’s final classic album deserves to find its way into any self respecting record collection. 

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LED ZEPPELIN-PRESENCE-DELUXE EDITION.

Presence wasn’t the easiest album for Led Zeppelin to make. Lead singer Robert Plant was recovering from a car crash, and delivered his vocals from a wheelchair at Musicland Studios, Munich. As the four members of Led Zeppelin gathered, onlookers noticed something was missing. Keyboards. It looked like Led Zeppelin were going to record an album without keyboards.

That’s what Led Zeppelin proceeded to do. Presence Plant and Page decided, should mark a change in Led Zeppelin’s sound. This should make Led Zeppelin’s return to hard rock. The riffs were much simpler, as Led Zeppelin moved towards guitar based jams. This was very different to some of the complex arrangements on Physical Graffiti. Another change was the lack of keyboards. Originally, they were meant to be absent. However, it was a case of needs must. Keyboards had to be used for the chorus on Candy Store Rock. Mostly, though, Presence was a much more stripped back, simpler  and spontaneous album than previous Led Zeppelin albums. Partly, that was because of time constraints. With only eighteen days of studio time, the recording of Presence was rushed.

The result was a new Led Zeppelin sound. They had adopted a heavier, stripped back sound. Presence saw Led Zeppelin return to hard rock. The riffs were much simpler, as Led Zeppelin moved towards guitar based jams. This was very different to some of the complex arrangements on Physical Graffiti. Another change was the lack of keyboards. Many critics and record buyers, they didn’t like what they heard. ‘Only’ three million copies of Presence sold in America. However, since the release of Presence, it’s been reappraised by critics. Nowadays, Presence is regarded as the most underrated album of Led Zeppelin’s career; and one which played a part in launching the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

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LEON THOMAS-FULL CIRCLE.

For Leon Thomas, Full Circle represented the end of an era. It was the last album Leon Thomas released on Flying Dutchman Productions, and marked the end of his “classic period.” It had started four years earlier in 1969, when Leon Thomas released his debut album Spirits Known and Unknown. Since then, Leon Thomas’ star had been in the ascendancy. Full Circle which was recently rereleased by BGP, an imprint of Ace Records, Leon Thomas’ fourth solo album and the last great album he released. 

After Leon Thomas’ last two albums had failed commercially, something had to change. So Bob Thiele decided to try and steer Leon Thomas towards the lucrative soul market. Bob Thiele got the idea from Creed Taylor. He had successfully transformed Esther Phillips’ career at CTi Records by turning her into a soul singer. Her album From A Whisper To A Scream was then nominated for a Grammy Award. Bob Thiele had hoped that by encouraging Leon Thomas to change direction, success would come his way.

That proved to be the case. Full Circle, which was recently released by BGP, an imprint of Ace Records, was the most successful album of Leon Thomas’ career, reaching fifty-four in the US R&B charts.

Together, Leon and Bob Thiele had cultivated a very accessible album. Mostly, it featured Leon Thomas singing soul. However, there were occasional diversions via blues and jazz. Meanwhile, Leon’s band seamlessly shifted between blues, funk, jazz, Latin and soul. This ensured that Leon’s final album for Flying Dutchman Productions was a memorable one, and the most accessible of his career. Full Circle is the perfect introduction to the inimitable Leon Thomas.

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LINK WRAY-3-TRACK SHACK. 

Jimmy Page, Neil Young and Iggy Pop all have one thing in common. They were all influenced by Link Wray, whose 1958 instrumental hit Ray Gun, popularised the power chord. As a result, several generations of guitarists, owe a debt of gratitude to Link Wray. He’s regarded as one of greatest guitarists in musical history. Sadly, neither in life nor death, Link Wray never deserved the recognition he so richly deserved.  Ace Records are trying rectify this, with the release of 3-Track Shack, a two disc CD set which features three albums, Link Wray, Mordicai Jones and Beans and Fatback. They’re the perfect introduction to Link Wray, who sadly, died ten years ago.

While many people remembered Link Wray’s classic single Rumble, very few people are aware of 3-Track Shack trilogy as Americana, blues, country rock and folk rock combine. Then on  Beans and Fatback, Link Wray and his band kick loose, and unleash a much more rowdy, raucous, rock ’n’ roll sound. There’s still diversions via blues and country rock. However, mostly, the old Link Wray shawn through. While this should’ve pleased his fans, the turned their back on the Beans and Fatback when it was released in 1973. They didn’t realise what they were missing.

Maybe, somewhat belatedly, they will now. Ace Records recently released 3-Track Shack, which features Link Wray, Mordicai Jones and Beans and Fatback. These three albums feature one of the greatest guitarists in the history of music, Link Wray.

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LONNIE LISTON SMITH AND THE COSMIC ECHOES-REFLECTIONS OF A GOLDEN DREAM.

Of all the artists Bob Thiele signed to Flying Dutchman Productions, Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes proved to be one the most successful.  However, success didn’t come overnight for Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes. 

It was only when their third album Expansions charted, the commercial success came Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes’ way. Its success was surpassed Visions Of A New World, which became Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes’ most successful album. It was reissued in 2015 by BGP, an imprint of Ace Records, and was the fourth album of groundbreaking music from Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes.

This wasn’t new. Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes had been releasing innovative music since they signed to Flying Dutchman Productions. On Visions Of A New World, Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes continue to showcase their considerable skills, as they continue to create genre-melting  music that’s innovative, ambitious, melodic and timeless.

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LONNIE LISTON SMITH AND THE COSMIC ECHOES-VISIONS OF A NEW WORLD.

When Visions Of A New World was released in the summer of 1975, it reached number seventy-four in the US Billboard 200, fourteen in the US R&B charts and number four in the US Jazz charts. Visions Of A New World was Lonnie Liston and The Cosmic Echoes’ became most successful album. No wonder. The music on Visions Of A New World oozed quality.

Elements of free jazz, funk, fusion, rock, smooth jazz and soul are combined on Visions Of A New World. As a result, the music was innovative and guaranteed to influence other musicians. Lonnie Liston Smith was a leader, not a follower. He released five albums on Bob Thiele’s Flying Dutchman Productions. Each of these albums feature a musical visionary at the peak of his creative powers. One of Lonnie Liston and The Cosmic Echoes’ finest albums is Visions Of A New World, which was  reissued by BGP, an imprint of Ace Records in 2015. Visions Of A New World, which is a truly timeless album, along with Astral Travelling, is the perfect introduction to cosmic jazz pioneer, Lonnie Liston and The Cosmic Echoes. 

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MICHAEL CHAMPMAN-SAVAGE AMUSEMENT.

Forty years ago, the only way to record an album, was in a recording studio. This cost money. So, artists were prepared. Songs were written and arranged. Artists and backing bands had practised the songs. They were organised, when the tapes started rolling, they were ready to role. Often, classic albums were recorded in a matter of a few weeks, or a couple of months at most. Artists like remembered the maxim “time is money.” That was the case with Michael Chapman, who recorded and released Savage Amusement in 1976. It reissued in 2015 by Secret Records, and is one of several hidden gems in Michael Chapman’s discography.

On its release, Michael fans were divided by Savage Amusement. Some of his fans welcomed the change of sound, and realised that Savage Amusement was a lost classic. Others were shocked at Savage Amusement’s stylistic departure. They took some appeasing when touring Savage Amusement. Since then, Savage Amusement has continued to divide Michael Chapman’s loyal fans. 

Nowadays, Savage Amusement is perceived a very accessible album. Although quite different from some of Michael’s previous albums, Savage Amusement oozes quality. From the opening bars of Shuffleboat River Farewell, right through to the closing notes of Devastation Hotel, Savage Amusement is a captivating lost classic, from one of British music’s best kept secrets, Michael Chapman.

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MICHAEL CHAPMAN-THE MAN WHO HATED MORNINGS.

In 1977, Michael Chapman was about to release the eight album of his career, The Man Who Hated Mornings on Deram Records. That had been home to Michael since 1973, when he released his fifth album Millstone Grit. Since then, Michael’s albums hadn’t sold in vast quantities. However, The Man Who Hated Mornings proved to be Michael’s Deram swan-song.

Critics noticed that The Man Who Hated Mornings had a much harder, electric sound. It’s apparent from the opening track Northern Lights, right through The Man Who Hated Mornings. Despite this stylistic change, still, commercial success eluded Michael Chapman. Despite his sound constantly evolving, his albums failed to sell in great quantities. Unfortunately, troubadours like Michael Chapman were out of fashion, and had been replaced by the inane sound of disco. For Michael Chapman, it was a frustrating time. Especially considering the quality of music on The Man Who Hated Mornings, which was reissued by Secret Records.

Michael Chapman’s time at Deram Records ended with The Man Who Hated Mornings.  This is almost fitting, as it’s the best album of his time at Deram Records. Coming a close second is Savage Amusement, the album that preceded The Man Who Hated Mornings. After eight albums in eight years, Michael Chapman was looking for a new record label. Ironically, a year after leaving Deram Records, Michael Chapman released another of his great “lost albums” Playing Guitar-The Easy Way. Just like Michael’s previous albums, commercial success managed to elude Playing Guitar-The Easy Way. It’s just one of many hidden gems in Michael Chapman’s back-catalogue, including Savage Amusement and The Man Who Hated Mornings. These two albums showcase one of the great British singer-songwriters, Michael Chapman, The Man Who Hated Mornings.

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MICHAEL CHAPMAN-WINDOW.

Forty-five years have passed since Michael Chapman released Window. Back in 1970, it was an album that divided the opinion of critics. Window was Marmite music, you either loved or loathed it. Michael Chapman fell into the latter category. He disliked Window so much, that after the release of Window, Michael Chapman disowned what was his third album. This was hugely controversial.

Record buyers were hardly inclined to buy an album the artist has disowned. However, that’s what Michael Chapman did. He alleged it comprised a series of unfinished demos, which Harvest released whilst Michael was on tour. Listening back to Window forty-five years later, Window doesn’t sound like an album of demos. That is, apart from a couple of tracks. The rest of Window features Michael Chapman stretching his legs musically.

On the other seven tracks on Window, Michael Chapman flits between musical genres. Country, folk, folk rock, funk, pop and rock can be heard on Window. It’s was, without doubt, the most eclectic album of Michael’s three album career. That’s not surprising.  Producer Gus Dudgeon gave Michael much more freedom. Michael repaid him with Window, an eclectic album, where we hear various sides of Michael Chapman. Sadly, neither the critics, nor his fans, who were won over by Window. Forty-five years later, and critics have reappraised Window. Nowadays, Window, which was recently reissued by Light In The Attic Records, is seen as one of the most underrated albums in Michael Chapman’s discography. It features Michael Chapman at his cerebral and reflective best, as he paints pictures of love, love lost and times gone by.

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