Tuesday, 1 March 2016

"The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" by CHICKEN SHACK (2006 Columbia/Blue Horizon 3CD Reissue - Duncan Cowell Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Freshly Packed And Ready To Serve…" 

Features the 1970 album "Accept"

Across its 56 tracks and 3CDs - this fantastic February 2006 UK and EUROPE release "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" by CHICKEN SHACK on Columbia/Blue Horizon 82876734942 (Barcode 828767349428) offers potential buyers a huge amount of British Blues Rock for not a lot of dosh. You get 4 full albums worth from 1968 to 1970 - a slew of non-LP 7" singles and their rare B-sides - and even 2 Previously Unreleased songs.

The first generation original master tapes were digitally transferred and remastered by DUNCAN COWELL at Sound Mastering in London and overseen by label Supremo MIKE VERNON. And as usual with all the Blue Horizon reissues - the sonic results are just stunning. Every track is clear, warm and fresh sounding. And with each of Chicken Shack's original British vinyl issues pushing £80 to £100 a throw (if you can actually find them in playable condition) - this is a welcome release. Here are the one hundred ton chickens and the roosters in the farmyard:

Disc 1 (74:16 minutes):
1. It's Okay With Me Baby (Christine Perfect song)
2. When My Left Eye Jumps (Willie Dixon song, Buddy Guy cover)
Tracks 1 & 2 are the A&B-side of the band's 1st UK 7" single on Blue Horizon 57-3157 released January 1968 - both songs were non-album with Christine Perfect Lead Vocals on the A and Stan Webb on the B-side (the flipside is a song closely associated with Buddy Guy).

3. The Letter (B.B. King cover)
4. Lonesome Whistle Blues (Freddie King cover)
5. When The Train Comes Back (Christine Perfect song)
6. San-Ho-Zay (Freddie King cover)
7. King Of The World (John Lee Hooker cover)
8. See See Baby (Freddie King cover) [Side 2]
9. First Time I Met The Blues (Eurreal "Little Brother" Montgomery cover)
10. Webbed Feet (Stan Webb song)
11. You Ain't No Good (Christine Perfect)
12. What You Did Last Night (Stan Webb song)
Tracks 3 to 12 are their debut UK album "Forty Blue Fingers Freshly Packed & Ready To Serve" released July 1968 on Blue Horizon S 7-63203 in Stereo

13. Hey Baby (see 20 below)

14. Baby's Got Me Crying (Stan Webb song)
15. The Right Way Is My Way (Stan Webb song)
16. Get Like You Used To Be (Stan Webb song)
17. Pony And Trap (Stan Webb song)
18. Tell Me (Howlin' Wolf cover)
19. A Woman Is The Blues (Stan Webb/Christine Perfect song)
Tracks 14 to 19 are Side 1 of their 2nd studio album "O.K. Ken?" released February 1969 on Blue Horizon S 7-63209 in Stereo (Side 2 is on Disc 2)

20. When The Train Comes Back
NOTE: "When The Train Comes Back" and "Hey Baby" (Track 13) are the A&B-sides of their 3rd UK 7" single released 1968 on Blue Horizon 57-3146 and both songs are non-album. There is a version of "When The Train Comes Back" on the "Forty Fresh Fingers..." LP but it's different to the single release - the 7" version pushes the brass section more into the mix.

Disc 2 (71:52 minutes):
1. Worried About My Woman
2. Six Nights In Seven
Tracks 1 and 2 are the A&B-sides of their 2nd UK 7" single released September 1968 on Blue Horizon 57-3143 - both non-album.
NOTE: Track 1 is the 7" single version that features what you would call a 'guitar' version of the track with Webb's guitar work to the fore. However, Track 19 is the 'album' version of "Worried About My Woman" - wittily tagged with the word "Still" in front of it because although it's the same song - the version is very different. It features Paul Raymond's Organ work far more to the fore of the mix - almost Georgie Fame and The Blues Flames in its feel - and a far louder Webb guitar - he rocks like a mother on this one - fantastic!

3. I Wanna See My Baby (Stan Webb song)
4. Remington Ride (Stan Webb song)
5. Fishing In Your River (Aaron Walker cover)
6. Mean Old World (Herb Remington, Hank Penny cover)
7. Sweet Sixteen (Big Joe Turner cover)
Tracks 3 to 7 are Side 2 of their 2nd UK album "O.K. Ken?" (as per Disc 1)

8. I'd Rather Go Blind
9. Night Life
Tracks 8 and 9 are the A&B-sides of their 4th UK 7" single released May 1969 on Blue Horizon 57-3153. Both tracks were non-album at the time - the A-side is an Etta James cover - the B a Willie Nelson cover

10. The Road Of Love (Clarence Carter cover)
11. La Ma, I'm Cryin' (Freddie King cover)
12. Evelyn (Stan Webb song - Instrumental)
13. Reconsider Baby (Lowell Fulson cover)
14. Weekend Love (Clarence Carter cover)
15. Midnight Hour (Clarence Brown cover) [Side 2]
16. Tears In The Wind (Stan Webb song)
17. Horse & Cart (Stan Webb song)
18. The Way It Is (Stan Webb song)
19. Still Worried About My Woman (Stan Webb song) [see Note on 1 & 2]
20. Anji (Davey Graham cover)
Tracks 10 to 20 are their 3rd UK studio album "100 Ton Chicken" released March 1969 on Blue Horizon S 7-63218 in Stereo

Note: "Tears In The Wind" was also their 5th UK 7” single released September 1969 on Blue Horizon 57-3160. Its non-album B-side is "The Things You Put Me Through" – Track 3 on Disc 3

Disc 3 (51:08 minutes):
1. Smartest Girl In Town (Stan Webb song)
2. Hideaway (Freddie King cover)
Tracks 1 and 2 are PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED - recorded May 1969 with the line-up of Stan Webb (Guitar), Paul Raymond (Organ), Andy Silvester (Bass) and David Bidwell (Drums) featured on both studio outtakes.

3. The Things You Put Me Through
Tracks 3 is the non-album B-side to the UK 7” single of "Tears In The Wind" (Track 16 on Disc 2)

4. Diary Of Your Life (Stan Webb song)
5. Pocket (Stan Webb song)
6. Never Ever (Stan Webb/Paul Raymond song)
7. Sad Clown (Stan Webb /Paul Raymond song)
8. Maudie (Stan Webb /Paul Raymond song)
9. Telling Your Fortune (Stan Webb song)
10. Tired Eyes (Stan Webb song) [Side 2]
11. Some Other Time (Stan Webb /Paul Raymond song)
12. Going Round (Stan Webb /Paul Raymond song)
13. Andalucian Blues (Stan Webb /Paul Raymond song)
14. You Knew You Did You Did (Stan Webb song)
15. She Didn't Use Her Loaf (Stan Webb /Paul Raymond song)
Tracks 4 to 15 are "Accept" - their 4th and last album for Blue Horizon released June 1970 on S 7-63861 in Stereo

Track 16 "Maudie" is the non-album A-side to their 6th UK 7" single released January 1970 on Blue Horizon 57-3168

Track 13 "Andalucian Blues" is the B-side to "Maudie" their 6th UK 7" single
Track 7 "Sad Clown" and Track 10 "Tired Eyes" make up the A & B side of their 7th and last Blue Horizon 7" single (57-3176) from 1970
This 3CD set allows you to sequence all 14 tracks on their seven UK Blue Horizon singles

Featuring Stan Webb (Guitar & Lead Vocals), Christine Perfect (Keyboards and Lead Vocals), Paul Raymond (Piano), Andy Silvester (Bass) and Dave Bidwell (Drums) - England's CHICKEN SHACK was always about the blues and the bar-brawling boogie that came out of that tradition (they took their name from a 50's R&B tune by Amos Milburn). Mixing raucous cover versions with equally impressive originals, the first 3 albums featured shared vocals/song-writing credits between blues-nutter Stan Webb and a young Female Singer of the Year, Christine Perfect. (Christine married John McVie in 1969 and later joined Fleetwood Mac - retaining the McVie surname to this day).

As you can see from the track lists provided above - the first album is a fest of the Kings - B.B. and Freddie with some John Lee Hooker thrown in. These are allied with an impressive quad showing of Stan Webb and Christine Perfect originals (two each). "See See Baby" is just fantastic - the great mixture of rocking Blues done by Blues enthusiasts feeling it in every corpuscle. By album two Webb has firmly taken over the songwriting reins with strong Bluesy R'n'B like "Baby's Got Me Crying" sounding not unlike John Mayall does Buddy Guy via B.B. King.

The Shacks albums also featured guest Sax work from Johnny Almond and Paul Raymond and his Organ/Piano work came on board from "100 Ton Chicken" onwards. The music is infectious blues based rock with the occasional funky moment (the instrumental "Evelyn" is a good example). What is surprising is how little interest was shown in their rocking "Accept" album from mid 1970 - only released later that year in the States on the back of a tour with savoy Brown. Mainly featuring Webb originals co-written with Paul Raymond - I often think it's a bit of a lost 1970 classic like "Kiln House" or the Humble Pie debut on A&M. Check out the blistering rocking on "Perfect" that then slows down (wicked). Stan Webb kept Chicken Shack going after Blue Horizon to do two more rawk albums for the Deram label - "Imagination Lady" in 1972 and "Unlucky Boy" in 1973 - both of which I love.

If I was to say there was a downside - it's the lack of unreleased material. And it's a damn shame that these four Chicken Shack albums didn't receive the Fleetwood Mac Blue Horizon Box Set treatment - I would love to have seen all of them in Repro Card Sleeves (gatefolds in some cases) - each topped up with bonus tracks. But alas...

As it stands "The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions" by CHICKEN SHACK is another jewel in the Blue Horizon crown. Never less than brilliant on any of the discs - and at a few squid above a ten-spot - this superb release is a steal, a deal, sale of the century etc...

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