Saturday, 13 June 2015

“Tap Turns On The Water: The CCS Story” by C.C.S. – A Review Of The 2013 Esoteric Recordings 2CD Reissue – Remastered From Original Tapes And Including Most Of The RAK Label Output…

[Features "C.C.S." Debut Album On Rak Records from 1970]

"...Hey Brother…Stay Loose…”

Up until now I've had all three of Repertoire's 2000 card digipaks for the 3 CCS albums as well as the superb 2004 EMI compilation "A's B's & Rarities" which mopped up the non-album stragglers. But this new 2013 2CD set from England's Esoteric Recordings (part of Cherry Red) supersedes all of those - especially on sound. Here are the collective details...

UK released July 2013 (August 2013 in the USA) - "Tap Turns On The Water: The CCS Story" is a 2CD anthology on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22404 (Barcode 5013929450448) and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (76:22 minutes):
1. Boom Boom
2. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
3. Waiting Song
4. Lookin' For Fun
5. Whole Lotta Love
6. Living In The Past
7. Sunrise
8. Dos Cantos
9. Wade In The Water
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut album "C.C.S." released October 1970 in the UK on RAK Records SRAK 6751

Tracks 10 and 11 are "Walkin'" and "Salome" - the non-album A & B-sides of a UK 7" single released January 1971 on RAK Records RAK 109 ("Walkin'" is a Donovan cover version)

Tracks 12 and 13 are "Tap Turns On The Water" and "Save The World" - the non-album A&B-sides of a UK 7" single released August 1971 on RAK Records RAK 119

14. Brother
15. Black Dog
16. I Want You Back
17. Running out Of Sky (Sky Diver)
18. Whole Lotta Rock and Roll: (a) School Days (b) Lucille (c) Long Tall Sally (d) Whole Lotta Love
Tracks 14 to 18 are Side 1 of their 2nd album called "CCS" (aka "CCS II") - released March 1972 on RAK Records SRAK 503

Disc 2 (77:17 minutes)
1. Chaos/Can't We Ever Get It Back
2. This Is My Life
3. Misunderstood
4. Maggie's Song
5. City
Tracks 1 to 5 are Side 2 of "CCS" [aka "CCS II"]

Track 6 is "If I Never Sing Another Song" which is an outtake recorded during the "CCS II" sessions in 1971 - it first turned up as one of two Previously Unreleased songs on the "A's B's & Rarities" EMI CD from 2004. It has a brass refrain of "Tap Turns On The Water" as it ends.

Track 7 is "Mister, What You Can't Have I Can Get" - a non-album B-side to the 7" single of "Brother" released February 1972 on RAK Records RAK 126

Track 8 is "Sixteen Tons" - a non-album A-side to a UK 7" single - released October 1972 in the UK on RAK Records RAK 141 (its a fabulous cover of a Tennessee Ernie Ford classic)

9. The Band Played The Boogie
10. Wild Witch Lady
11. Lola
12. Primitive Love
13. Hundred Highways
14. Shakin' All Over
15. Memphis
16. Sunshine Of Your Love
17.Our Man In London
18. Cannibal Sheep
Tracks 9 to 18 are their 3rd and final studio album "The Best Band In The Land" - released September 1973 on RAK Records SRAK 504

Track 19 is "Hang It On Me" - a non-album B-side to "The Band Played The Boogie" released June 1973 on UK 7" single RAK Records RAK 154
Tracks 20 and 21 are "Hurricane Coming" and "Dragster" - both non-album tracks released April 1974 on a UK 7" single RAK Records RAK 172

A huge ensemble group - C.C.S. (short for COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS SOCIETY) - was the brain-child of British Blues Boom Godfather ALEXIS KORNER who along with Danish singer PETER THORUP and British arranger JOHN CAMERON pulled together the cream of brass/flute-playing session-men of the time and went after the Blood, Sweat & Tears market for funked-up brassy Rock. Owner of RAK Records - Mickie Most's timing couldn't have been better. Deciding right from the start to include cover versions on their records - they did a fantastic brassed-up take on Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" that not only complimented the 1969 Atlantic Records original - but also defined that "CCS" sound. So when the new BBC pop program "Top Of The Pops" needed a cool theme song - they took this winner - dropped the flute intro, vocal middle and end - and a riffing theme song legend was born. I can vividly remember as a budding teenager thrilling to its power chords every Thursday night as it and Pans People did their poppet thing.

The 3-way card digipak houses a 16-page booklet with sleeve shots, rare advert photos, pictures of Alexis and the band and great liner notes by noted musicologist MALCOME DOME. And the whole project is coordinated and arranged by long-time hero of reissues MARK POWELL. But the big news is the sound. Remastered from first generation tapes by BEN WISEMAN at Audio Archiving in London - this release sounds just awesome. I should reiterate that the Repertoire CDs had fabulous sound anyway (licensed from EMI) - but these remasters trump them for sheer power and presence - the clarity is fantastic without ever being over-ramped for effect. The only down note is that "This Is My Life" - the great B-side to the Tennessee Ernie Ford cover of "Sixteen Tons" - is missing (the 7" mix is different to the album version). But this and a very good outtake called "Blues" are both available on the 2004 EMI CD compilation "A's..." for a very reasonable cost.

The first album is an utter blast with their lead off track being a cover of John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" done in their distinctive style (it was the B-side of their October 1970 debut single "Whole Lotta Love"). And then you're hit with their other lethal weapon - the voice of ALEXIS KORNER - a man who straddles these tracks with a presence and enthusiasm that is irresistible. CCS do "Satisfaction" by The Stones and "Living In The Past" by Jethro Tull as covers too - but the remainder are impressive are Korner, Cameron and Thorup originals. The ethereally atmospheric Korner original "Sunrise" sounds just gorgeous with its double-played acoustic guitars. The uber-cool John Cameron original "Dos Cantos" is another flute and brass gem that slinks and tingles and then funks for over eight minutes. It sports wicked lyrics like "weave your web...spider of forgetfulness..." - it deserves praise and rediscovery (and again with that stunning audio quality). The "Walkin'" non-album 7" single (a cover of a Donovan track) is wicked too. The late summer of 1971 brought their most famous hit - the fabulous "Tap Turns On The Water" - another non-album 45-only release.

By the time they hit the next LP "CCS II" (which is actually/confusingly called just "C.C.S." on the sleeve and label) - they were in their stride with "Chaos/Can't We Ever Get It Back" and "Misunderstood" standing out (not to mention the wicked "Brother" opener).  They do Zeppelin's "Black Dog", The Congregation and Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and a 4-part Rock 'n' Roll Medley which combines Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" with Chuck Berry's "School Days" and a double Little Richard dollop of "Lucille" and "Long Tall Sally".

But the 3rd album (possibly sporting the worst album cover ever) saw public interest wane big time (its been a vinyl rarity for years) despite covers of The Kinks "Lola", Donovan's "Wild Witch Lady", Johnny Kidd & The Pirates "Shakin' All Over" and Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love" being properly good. RAK Records hitmakers Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman provided "Primitive Love" which was an obvious single. It ends on the bizarrely named Korner original "Cannibal Sheep" which features a great double-vocal from the maestro while the beat chugs along rather nicely.

I loved CCS then and still do. This superb 2CD set has been a blast to listen to - so many great memories and now fans can avail themselves of its stunning sound quality. Well done to all involved. Stay loose brother...

PS: check out the HOT CHOCOLATE "A's B's & Rarities" which features the UK 7" single "Brother Louie" from April 1973 - it's arranged by John Cameron and features Spoken vocals by Alexis Korner at the end ("no spook in my family - get it!")

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