Friday, 25 February 2011

"Someday We'll All Be Free" by DONNY HATHAWAY ( 2010 French-Only Rhino/Warner Brothers 4CD Box Set Of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Sack Full Of Dreams..."

Released in February 2010 in Europe only - "Someday We'll All Be Free" is the first ever box set given over to the wonderful American soul artist DONNY HATHAWAY. It has good points and bad - so let's get to the details first...

"Someday We'll All Be Free" by DONNY HATHAWAY on Warner Brothers France/Rhino/Atlantic 8122798076 (Barcode 081227980764) is a 4CD Book Set of Remasters from original master tapes and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (76:37 minutes):
1. Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything)
2. Je Vous Aime (I Love You)
3. I Believe To My Soul 
4. Misty 
5. Sugar Lee
6. Tryin’ Times [Side 2]
7. Thank You Master (For My Soul)
8. The Ghetto
9. To Be Young, Gifted And Black 
Tracks 1 to 9 are his debut LP "Everything Is Everything" released October 1970 in the USA on Atco SD 33-332 and 1971 in the UK on Atco 2465 019

10. Giving Up
11. A Song For You
12. Little Girl 
13. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother 
14. Magnificent Sanctuary Band 
15. She is My Lady 
16. I Believe In Music
Tracks 10 to 16 are the first 7 of 9 tracks from his 2nd album "Donny Hathaway" released April 1971 in the USA on Atco SD 33-360 and in the UK on Atlantic 2400 143

Disc 2 (66:26 minutes):
1. Take A Love Song
2. Put Your Hand In The Hand
Tracks 1 and 2 are the last two songs on the "Donny Hathaway" album (as per Disc 1)
3. I Love The Lord, He Heard My Cry (Parts I & II)
4. Someday We’ll All Be Free 
5. Flying Easy 
6. Valdez In The Country
7. I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
8. Come Little Children 
9. Love, Love, Love
10. The Slums
11. Magdelena
12. I Know It’s You 
Tracks 3 to 12 are his 5th album (4th studio) "Extension Of A Man" released July 1973 in the USA on Atco SD-7029 and in the UK on Atlantic K 40487

Tracks 13 to 17 are Previously Unreleased - "Jealous Guy (Studio Version)". "No Other One But You [1974 Demo]", "The Essence Of Destiny [1974 Demo]", "Going Down [1974 Demo] and "Make It On Your Own [1975 Demo]"

Disc 3 (78:15 minutes)
Track 1 is "This Christmas", a single-only release from November 1970 in the USA on Atco 45-6799 (see Track 4) 

Track 2 is "Little Ghetto Boy", title track from the album "Come Back Charleston Blue" - a USA Soundtrack released July 1972 on Atco SD-7010 

Track 3 is "A Dream", a previously unreleased bonus track on the "Everything Is Everything" CD reissue from 1995

Track 4 is "Be There", non-album B-side to "This Christmas" (see Track 1)

Track 5 is "Lord Help Me", a bonus track on the "Extension Of A Man" CD reissue from 1993

Track 6 is "You Were Meant For Me" is from "A Donny Hathaway Collection" from 1990 on Atlantic 

Track 7 is "What A Woman Really Wants", a previously unreleased track on the 2006 CD compilation "Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Brothers" (recorded January 1973)

8. What’s Going On
9. The Ghetto
10. Hey Girl 
11. You’ve Got A Friend 
12. Little Ghetto Boy
13. We’re Still Friends
14. Jealous Guy
15. Voices Inside (Everything Is Everything)
Tracks 8 to 15 are his 3rd album "Donny Hathaway Live" released March 1972 in the USA on Atco SD 33-386 and Atlantic K 40369 in the UK  

Disc 4 (77:35 minutes):
1. To Be Young, Gifted And Black
2. A Song For You
3. I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know
4. We Need You Right Now
5. Sack Full Of Dreams 
Tracks 1 to 5 are 5 of the 6 tracks from the 1980 posthumously released live album "In Performance" on Atlantic  

6. He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother 
7. Yesterday 
8. Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)
9. Flying Easy 
10. Valdez In The Country
11. Someday We’ll All Be Free 
Tracks 6 to 11 are the 6 previously unreleased live tracks that were featured on the 14-track posthumous CD compilation "These Songs For You, Live!" issued by Atlantic/Rhino in 2004.

Tracks 12 and 13 are "Nu-Po" and "Love, Love, Love" - two previously unreleased live tracks recorded June 1973 in New York

As you can see from the details above, there are 7 previously unreleased tracks on this box set - 5 demos tagged onto the end of Disc 2 and 2 Live Tracks at the end of Disc 4. The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that the "Robert Flack & Donny Hathaway" album from 1972 is entirely absent and only one track appears from the 1972 "Come Back Charleston Blue" soundtrack, but that's available as a separate Rhino Remaster from 2007 should you want it (see my review). 

Niggles - although new and shrink-wrapped, my copy arrived with one of its plastic clip teeth rattling around in the cheap cardboard digi box. But that's nothing to the hugely underwhelming booklet, which is entirely in French and is next to useless. Its paltry 16 pages do have album sleeves and 7" singles pictured, but little else (4 of those pages are taken up with barely legible track listings for God's sake!). There is at least a nice touch beneath the see-through CD trays where 4 different label variations are reproduced - including the rare US Quadraphonic Version of "Extension Of A Man". But overall - for such a stellar artist - this is yet another shoddy and cheap set of packaging from Rhino - added to a worryingly growing list of them. The demos are ok, but not great - the best probably being "Make It On Your Own" from 1975. And why oh why wasn't this given a British or American release?

But the really good news, however, is the SOUND. There is a logo on the rear of the box which says HIGH QUALITY MASTERING and its been done by someone called ISAAK JASMIN. Comparing the sound to the 1993 Rhino discs, these 2010 versions are clearer and certainly more `present' than before. At times this ups the hiss levels inherent on the master tapes, but not to a point where it becomes overbearing. Typical would be "Take A Love Song" which opens Disc 2 - the old version was lacklustre, even dull - now it's huge and alive as the girls and strings crescendo. The live "In The Ghetto" is astonishing - a gig I would gladly have given a part of my anatomy to attend. 

I've always adored the "Extension Of A Man" LP from 1973 and the opening track "I Love The Lord, He Heard My Cry (Parts I & II)" with its strings, clarinets and oboes is now GLORIOUS. That then segues into the box set's title song - the truly beautiful "Someday We'll All Be Free" (lyrics above) - and I'm in floods of tears! The two instrumentals on the album are huge too - the funky wah-wah guitars and keyboards of "Valdez In The Country" and the monstrous bass line of Willie Weeks in "The Slums". Very cool stuff...

So to sum up - there is an improved sound quality for die-hard fans to enjoy, however, newcomers might be better off with the 5CD mini box "Original Album Series" which is cheaper and offers more. 

Donny Hathaway folks. Recommended in any language. But docked a star for a less-than-stellar presentation of this beautiful man’s heartfelt musical legacy...

No comments: