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Blancmange - Happy Families: Plus (2008) Retail CD
I loved this album the first time I heard it, with the opener "I Can't Explain" and then "Feel Me Now" just exploding through the speakers. And that was before reaching "Living On The Ceiling"! Having worn out a cassette and then a vinyl copy it was great to see Edsel had moved onto Blancmange back-catalogue after the Thompson Twins.
OK, it's only a single disc (more on that later) but the mastering is excellent here (even if it does show one or two limitations on the original tapes, and the odd 'dirty' fadeout). Everything has balance and the layers of percussion in particular stand out. Evenmore… though the first 5 tracks are arguably the best, there isn't a naff one here.
Far less produced than their follow-up, this is quite a raw sound, with Neil barking some of the lyrics, but that's how it was meant to sound, and made this duo stand out from the blander crowd. Even ballads like "Waves" have a dark energetic undercurrent beneath the strings and sound-effects.
The packaging is nicely done, going through the history and influences of the band, including reference to early material not included (different labels ofcourse, which is probably why the didn't make this a double disc). There is an explanatory note as to hwy a couple of b-sides are missing, which implies contractual issues...seems a little odd, particularly as "Running Thin" made it to the budget Platinum Collection a couple of years back with no trouble atall. As such there isn't really enough to make a double set from available material.
But the bonuses that are here are generally well mastered too. My old distorting US 12" of "Ceiling/Feel Me" is now heading to the charity shop, as the sound is so much better on this CD!
Through headphones the last minute of so of "Feel Me Now" 12" mix appears to have a couple of quiet pops, but this is very very minor (not anything like Into The Gap's "You Take Me Up" 12" bonus by Thompson Twins, which has some fairly dire noises in places, sounding a lot like vinyl sourcing). It is also possible masters have themselves deteriorated, however well kept, so there's no reason to suspect "Feel Me Now" 12" is not from the original master tape. The Instrumental version is also great, and the US Instr variation (more like the 12" percussively) is nice to have.
5 out of 5 due to strength of the album, though maybe 4.5 out of 5 for not getting the 2 extra b-sides licensed.
|1||I Can't Explain|
|3||I've Seen The Word|
|5||Living On The Ceiling|
|11||Living On The Ceiling (Extended Version)|
|12||God's Kitchen (12" Mix)|
|13||Feel Me (Extended 12" Version)|
|14||Feel Me (7" + 12" Instrumental)|
|16||Feel Me (US 12" Instrumental)|
- Blancmange - Happy Families: Plus (2008) Retail CD
- 1424 x 1424 px
- 1,056 KB
- 308 (0 today)
- 05/09/08 by Triky242
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