Wednesday, 23 December 2009

“Later That Same Year” by MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT [feat Ian Matthews] (2008 Beat Goes On 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Sylvie Don't You Cry No More…”

To my knowledge only a few bands in history have released three studio albums in the same year - Creedence Clearwater Revival and Fairport Convention jump to mind - and both of those managed this feat in 1969. The UK's MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT (featuring Ian Matthews - formerly of Fairport Convention) threw out three of such things in 1970 with "Later That Same Year" being the last of the trio before Ian Matthews jumped ship and went solo. And that’s where this wonderful Beat Goes On CD Reissue and Remaster comes galloping in…

UK released June 2008 - "Later That Same Year" by MATTHEWS SOUTHERN COMFORT on Beat Goes On BGOCD 807 (Barcode 5017261208071) is an 'Expanded CD Version' of their 3rd and final album and plays out as follows (55:48 minutes):

1. To Love
2. And Me
3. Tell Me Why
4. Jonah
5. My Lady
6. And When She Smiles
7. Mare Take Me Home
8. Sylvie
9. Brand New Tennessee Waltz
10. For Melanie
11. Road To Ronderlin
Tracks 1 to 11 are the British track listing for the album “Later That Same Year” released in the UK in November 1970 on MCA Records MKPS 2015. It was recorded at Morgan Studios in London and produced by Ian Matthews. "Later That Same Year" was belatedly released in the USA (as was the "Woodstock" single) on Decca DL 75264 in April 1971 and had a different 11-track run. If you want to sequence the US LP version from this CD it runs as follows:
Side 1: 12, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
Side 2: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
[Note: Track 4 on Side 1 of the UK LP "Jonah" was left off the US LP]

12. Woodstock
13. The Struggle
14. Parting
15. Scion
Tracks 12 and 15 ("Woodstock" b/w "Scion") was the band's biggest hit single. Although she famously didn’t attend the August 1969 three-day concert - Joni Mitchell wrote "Woodstock" about the event and initially gave the song to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. They put out a rocking version of “Woodstock” on their 2nd album "Deja Vu" in 1970 which Ian heard and loved. However, Ian Matthews slowed the song down and softened the feel considerably – and in doing so – somehow captured the positive vibe of the time. "Woodstock" was first released in July 1970 in the UK on Uni Records UNS 521 with "Scion" as its B-side - both tracks being non-album at the time. Constant BBC Radio 1 airplay eventually saw it crawl to Number 1 in September 1970. Rather stupidly MCA didn't include it on the UK LP so "Later That Same Year" didn’t even crack the Top 50 album chart – even with a Number 1 single buzzing around it. The US single on Decca 32774 was issued in April 1971 with "Ballad Of Obray Ramsey" as its B-side (see note below) where it reached number 23 on the charts.

Tracks 13 and 14 are also non-album songs. Track 13 "The Struggle" was the B-side to "Colorado Springs Eternal" a single lifted from their debut album "Matthews Southern Comfort" released early in 1970. The British 45 was issued January 1970 on Uni Records UNS 513 and is said to feature Richard Thompson of Fairport Convention on Guitar.
Track 14 "Parting" was the B-side to "Ballad Of Obray Ramsey" lifted off their 2nd LP "Second Spring" - the 45 was issued May 1970 in the UK on Uni Records UNS 521.
I’d have to say that a downside for US fans is the exclusion of "Ballad Of Obray Ramsey" - the USA B-side to "Woodstock" - but it is available on another BGO release which gathers up the first and second albums in their entirety onto 1 CD – "Matthews Southern Comfort" and "Second Spring" on BGOCD 313 issued back in June 1996.

The original tapes have been remastered by ANDREW THOMPSON at Sound Performance and the transfer is stunningly clean and clear – a really great job done – especially after having to do with budget-label dull-sounding CDs until now. The 8-page booklet has informative and affectionate liner notes by noted compiler DAVID WELLS and there’s a classy card wrap on the outside (a sort of visual trademark for BGO releases in the last few years).

I’ve always thought that “Later That Same Year” was their best album. There’s three superb Matthews originals – “And Me”, “My Lady” and “Road To Ronderlin”. Even better (and a source of consternation within the band) are the three goodies from guitarist CARL BARNWELL – especially the gorgeous “Sylvie” (lyrics above), which practically defines their mellow and laid back sound. Other notables are the last track on Side 1 “And When She Smiles” and the opening track of Side 2 “Mare, Take Me Home” which were both written by Alan C Anderson (“Big” Al) of the US band THE WILDWEEDS who had a lone album appear in early 1970 in the US on Vanguard VSD 6552. He later joined NRBQ and is still active in writing country songs to this day. The Carole King cover “To Love” (off her “Writer” LP) is a jaunty opener while their version of Neil Young’s “Tell Me Why” is as lovely as his “After The Gold Rush” original.

So there you have it – a really good album - a beautiful remaster and it’s all properly presented too. For those who love their Seventies mellow and melodious – this superb little CD is one to bring you peace, love and understanding…

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