Sunday, 24 August 2008

“Wonderful Deeds And Adventures” by SUSAN CARTER [featuring BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS] - 2008 Rev-ola CD Remaster - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Young Girl Blues…"

Susan Carter's first album was released in the USA in March 1970 on Epic BN 26510 and is subtitled "A Collection Of Stirring Scenes and Moving Accidents". It featuring heavy involvement from members of BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS. 

This UK-released 25 August 2008 Remastered CD Reissue (September 2008 in the USA) on Rev-ola CR REV 260 (Barcode 5013929456020) is a straightforward transfer of that very rare and unfairly forgotten Californian curio.

Duglus T Stewart's informative and honest liner notes admit to the excessive hippy claptrap that infuses some of the album's Laurel Canyon vibe (it's very much of its time). But he also quite rightly raves about the collaborative brilliance that permeates through other tracks (it's jazzed up with Blood, Sweat & Tears presence) - and happily the goodies outweigh the naff stuff. There really is so much on here to enjoy.

Here's the breakdown (40:13 minutes):
1. Bluebird (Buffalo Springfield/Stephen Stills cover)
2. Young Girl Blues (Donovan cover)
3. Temptation ‘Bout To Get Me (The Knight Brothers cover, 1965)
4. Medley For Billie Holiday 
(a) Billy's Blues (Laura Nyro cover)
(b) Lady Sings The Blues (Billie Holiday cover)
(c) Lonely Women (Laura Nyro cover)
5. Brighten Your Night With My Day (James Taylor cover)
6. I Need A Good Man Bad (Les and Susan Carter original)
7. I'm So Tired (Beatles cover)
8. Old Country (Nat Adderley cover)
9. Illinois (Randy Newman cover)
10. Jam Session: Cruising With The Blues (Les & Susan Carter original)

Stylistically, Carter sounds like Laura Nyro meets Bonnie Dobson meets a hint of Joni Mitchell with LAURA NYRO winning out. If you then superimpose that vocal onto the second Blood, Sweat and Tears album, you get a pretty good idea of how this record sounds. RANDY BRECKER features on Trumpet, FRED LIPSIUS on Saxophone and DICK HALLIGAN on Trombone (all from BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS) with Halligan overseeing all of the arrangements, which are uniformly fabulous and elevate the album's better tracks into something special more than a few times. TERRY PLUMERI plays really tasteful upright bass on the album's straight-up jazz piece, Nat Adderley's "Old Country" with Randy Brecker blowing sweetly throughout - very nice indeed. And the sound quality is FANTASTIC throughout. 

As you can see from the list above, there are 8 cover versions and only two originals and their quality range from the sublimely soulful and jazzy "Medley For Billie Holiday" to the awful - the White Album's sinister "I'm So Tired" turned into a sub Bacharach smooze fest with wild guitar at the end just so that you know they're "with it man". It's almost funny how awful the guitar bit is that ends it! Her version of James Taylor's "Brighten Your Night With My Day" fares better - it's lovely - so Laura Nyro circa "Christmas & The Beads Of Sweat".  ELLIOTT RANDALL puts in superb guitar work on her excellent original "I Need A Good Man Bad" with Dick Halligan's brass arrangements delivering a killer punch too. (Two years later, Randall would supply the stunning guitar work on Steely Dan's "Reelin' In The Years"). The album closer is a kind of funky, jazz, rock workout and I love it - it sounds a little like C.C.S. circa 1970. 

Special mention must be made of the sound - the remaster quality is EXCEPTIONAL - beautiful work done by NORMAN BLAKE and JOE FOSTER at Studio 3 in Glasgow. The opening track has a 30 second acapella passage and Carter's voice is clear, warm, and has very little hiss surrounding it - and when the instrumentation does kick in, you feel all of it - great stuff. It's like a really good Blood, Sweat & Tears transfer - fans of the album will be thrilled and Revola have done the lady justice.

I've seen the vinyl version of this rare and long-forgotten Laurel Canyon period album maybe once in 30 years - so for those who love their Californian ladies and their 1970s records, this is very sweet re-issue indeed. 

A job well done Revola and highly recommended…

This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is 1960s and 1970s VOLUME 2 - ROCK & POP, FOLK ROCK and PUNK, NEW WAVE and REGGAE - an E-Book with over 200 entries and 2000 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap). 

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