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John N L Morrison
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Posts: 35
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #100: 11.03.09 at 23:41 »
Quote

on 10.03.09 at 10:10, Pete Atkin wrote:

 
Well, John, there's not much reason to assume that.  It's perfectly OK to prefer the sound of vinyl (or indeed the sound on any particular medium), but it's not OK in my book to say that it's somehow 'truer'.  It isn't.   The transfer from the magnetic medium (tape) to the physical one (disc) is a much bigger technical leap even than the big compression from CD to MP3, and far more compromised than the transfer from magnetic to digital.
 
It's no surprise to me that the cleverness of MP3 sampling means you can detect the difference between the different masterings, but that doesn't mean that the losses involved in both are therefore inconsiderable.   More than that, it seems to me that the general acceptability of MP3 sound must mean that the quality of the sound is not in practice all that high a priority for most people.  The prevalence of Apple MP3 players is one further proof of that for me:  I was shocked recently in a direct comparison between my Sony and a friend's iPod by how much better the Sony sound seemed to me.
 
When you master something, you're always aiming at some kind of objective standard if only as a kind of baseline, always in the knowledge that even if you think you've achieved it, you still have no control over how people are going to be hearing it. Usually the best you can do is to play your finely considered stereo master through a single two-inch loudspeaker.  If that doesn't sound acceptable, then your finely considered stereo master probably needs a further rethink.
 
Hence my alarm at your expressed hope that there might some day be a definitive edition as a remedy for the implicit failures of cloth-eared transfer technicians and ignorant, uncaring record company executives - none of whom, I'm pleased to say, has in fact been anywhere near this whole project.    
 

 
Dear Pete,  
 
Oh gosh, a (the?) MV deity has come down from Olympos and hurled a few lightning bolts in my direction. Can I try to explain a bit (bearing in mind that it's your music and your recordings, so you must have the last word)?
 
It's perfectly OK to prefer the sound of vinyl (or indeed the sound on any particular medium), but it's not OK in my book to say that it's somehow 'truer'.
 
I was only suggesting that at the time of any '60s/'70s original recordings - when vinyl was all there was to offer to the public - that the artists would have ensured as effectively as possible that the resulting disc-borne product was what they had intended at the time of recording. I presume you felt the same when you committed to the pressing? Surely not to  some Platonic ideal of a perfect outcome through some future medium?
 
The transfer from the magnetic medium (tape) to the physical one (disc) is a much bigger technical leap even than the big compression from CD to MP3, and far more compromised than the transfer from magnetic to digital.
 
But isn't this the whole point? Transducers have always been the bane of reproduction (vinyl squiggles to electronic impulses, all sorts of processing at te electronic level, then more squiggles to loudspeakers and thence even  more squiggles into the air  etc) - but now we have the ability to manipulate all of this original stuff digitally, with all the possible compromises that involves. It raises a raft of new issues, as you point out.
 
It's no surprise to me that the cleverness of MP3 sampling means you can detect the difference between the different masterings, but that doesn't mean that the losses involved in both are therefore inconsiderable.   More than that, it seems to me that the general acceptability of MP3 sound must mean that the quality of the sound is not in practice all that high a priority for most people.  The prevalence of Apple MP3 players is one further proof of that for me:  I was shocked recently in a direct comparison between my Sony and a friend's iPod by how much better the Sony sound seemed to me.
 
Aren't you arguing against yourself here, Pete? Your first sentence suggests that MP3 can show up critical differences, the second quite the reverse, and I'm not sure what to make of the third. What was the sampling rate of your friend's iPod and your Sony, were you using the same listening gear, and was it using the same sampling regime? I repeat: 256kbs AAC sampling sounds pretty nigh identical to the source to me, and I don't think my ears are that far gone yet. Ive been comparing the various versions using Grado SR80s, which are frankly not that bad.
 
When you master something, you're always aiming at some kind of objective standard if only as a kind of baseline, always in the knowledge that even if you think you've achieved it, you still have no control over how people are going to be hearing it. Usually the best you can do is to play your finely considered stereo master through a single two-inch loudspeaker.  If that doesn't sound acceptable, then your finely considered stereo master probably needs a further rethink.
 
I seem to recall that in the '70s there were special little 4-inch box speakers sitting on top of the mixing desk, and the final version had to sound OK through them - right? Only question is: are such compromises still necessary now? Those little speakers would have been squeaky bright and the sound would have had to be tailored appropriately. Not so now.
 
Hence my alarm at your expressed hope that there might some day be a definitive edition as a remedy for the implicit failures of cloth-eared transfer technicians and ignorant, uncaring record company executives - none of whom, I'm pleased to say, has in fact been anywhere near this whole project.
 
Oh lor, oh lor, oh lor, oh lumme -I've alarmed you in some way. Not my intention at all, nor  to cast aspersions at anyone - least of all you -  involved in the recent reissues  or strike any wider alarm amongst the MVs in whatever fashion. I was simply commenting on the brand-new Edsel editions which, I reiterate, I bought immediately - as I have every previous reissue - and think are great. I just feel somehow their acoustic qualities  are not necessarily the last word. But - as aforesaid - I'll live very happily with all the versions Pete and Clive have put out (in fact all but the very earliest original vinyls) and tweak the results to suit my aged ears.
 
Incidentally (and this is probably a completely new thread) does anyone still have copies of the original-most vinyl records? I only have the later reissues.
And this is strictly for Pete - if you're ever in the Canterbury area. come and have a great meal here - my wife is a cordon bleu chef. Clive also, if you're lurking - couldn't get a seat at the Gulbenkian here 3 weeks ahead of your recent gig. Chiz, chiz. Incidentally, have read your socking great book (you know the one) over Xmas. Didn't understand one word of its 876 pages. Or is that just my own Cultural Amnesia? It's currently 19,999 in the Amazon listing - come on, MVs, let's give it a lift! But then my own book is way behind at 173,313....
 
And an invitation to Steve and Carol for a meal here too. But not necessarily to all the MVs unless Steve is willing to organise a Canterbury PA/CJ rave. in which case we're on for it!
 
Yours, John
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John N L Morrison
Pete Atkin
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Posts: 464
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #101: 12.03.09 at 11:24 »
Quote

Hi, John.  I'll try to keep this brief.  We're in danger of boring everyone to death here.
 
Quote:
Oh gosh, a (the?) MV deity has come down from Olympos and hurled a few lightning bolts in my direction.

 
Oh, puh-lease.  So Olympos is in the back streets of Bristol.
 
Quote:
the artists would have ensured as effectively as possible that the resulting disc-borne product was what they had intended at the time of recording.

 
The trouble is, I'm not sure I even knew what that was at the time. The recording was just a means to get the song out there, and no more definitive in its way than any given live performance. I was naturally aware that what we put down was going to stand probably, with luck, for quite a while, but surely the central principle of the Platonic ideal is that it cannot be achieved in the real world.
 
Quote:
"It's no surprise to me that the cleverness of MP3 sampling means you can detect the difference between the different masterings, but that doesn't mean that the losses involved in both are therefore inconsiderable.   More than that, it seems to me that the general acceptability of MP3 sound must mean that the quality of the sound is not in practice all that high a priority for most people.  The prevalence of Apple MP3 players is one further proof of that for me:  I was shocked recently in a direct comparison between my Sony and a friend's iPod by how much better the Sony sound seemed to me."
 
Aren't you arguing against yourself here, Pete? Your first sentence suggests that MP3 can show up critical differences, the second quite the reverse, and I'm not sure what to make of the third.

I don't think so.  You can almost always hear at least the essence of such fundamental differences in quality on very poor equipment.
 
Quote:
What was the sampling rate of your friend's iPod and your Sony, were you using the same listening gear, and was it using the same sampling regime?

Don't know, don't care.  Sorry.
 
Quote:
I seem to recall that in the '70s there were special little 4-inch box speakers sitting on top of the mixing desk, and the final version had to sound OK through them - right? Only question is: are such compromises still necessary now? Those little speakers would have been squeaky bright and the sound would have had to be tailored appropriately. Not so now.
 
It's always a good idea to check how what you're doing will sound on a crappy little mono radio or nasty ill-fitting headphones, even if finally you decide not to try to adjust for them.
 
Quote:
Oh lor, oh lor, oh lor, oh lumme -I've alarmed you in some way.

My alarm was simply and entirely at that suggestion:
Quote:
Maybe someday we will have a definitive version of the first 6 records?

The trouble is, that's exactly the kind of comment which, in an Amazon review, say, might cause me not to go ahead and buy.  And since these postings are read by a good number of people who are not themselves Midnight Voices, I was selfishly afraid that some of those might well have reacted as I myself might have done.   As I say, this was a purely selfish reaction (albeit - I do like a nice albeit - one shared by the people who e-mailed me almost instantly), and nothing to do with an attempt to stifle freedom of expression.
 
Quote:
Incidentally (and this is probably a completely new thread) does anyone still have copies of the original-most vinyl records? I only have the later reissues.

Interesting point.  The RCA pressings are of course completely different masterings from the Philips ones.
 
Quote:
Incidentally, have read your socking great book (you know the one) over Xmas. Didn't understand one word of its 876 pages. Or is that just my own Cultural Amnesia?

I simply can't and don't believe that for a minute - the not understanding, that is.   My own intellectual credentials are pretty thin and shaky, but I am certain I would have found it just as hugely entertaining and stimulating even if I'd never heard of its author.
 
Keep up the good work!
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Mike Walters
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Posts: 127
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #102: 12.03.09 at 17:22 »
Quote

I've been following this thread with great fascination and a little bemusement.  While some of the technical discussion has whisked some distance above my head, it's been of great interest even to someone like me who, well, couldn't tell a wah-wah from Akira Kurasawa (I was tempted to make some comment about not fearing geeks who bear gifts, but I wouldn't want to risk Steve's wrath...).  
 
I'm fascinated partly because I have, quite genuinely, never understood debates about sound quality - understood them emotionally, that is (I don't always understand them intellectually, either, but that's a different issue).  Having had various friends over the years try to persuade me of the merits or otherwise of various recordings, productions, re-masterings, sound systems and the rest, I've just never heard it.  Yes, I can recognise that one sounds different, arguably better, than another, or that if you listen to it on this system you can hear the drummer's wristwatch overwinding, or whatever it might be.  But, except in extreme (negative) cases, I can't say that it's made an iota of difference to my listening pleasure.  The only conclusion I can draw is that either I'm stuck with 'fifty quid ears' or that in my head I'm already hearing the Platonic ideal that Pete refers to, regardless of what's actually playing.  I'd prefer the latter explanation, but suspect the former's closer to the truth.  I'm sure it's my loss.  
 
On the other hand, I did understand every page, more or less, of 'Cultural Amnesia'.  But then I suspect that, really, John M did too...
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John N L Morrison
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Posts: 35
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #103: 12.03.09 at 17:23 »
Quote

OK, Pete, I'll shut up and agree to disagree here and there. Forget the technical stuff, I still love the songs! (And that was a joke about Cultural Amnesia - I was just amazed at how many of the subjects I'd never heard of.)
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John N L Morrison
Ian Chippett
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Posts: 330
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #104: 12.03.09 at 20:32 »
Quote

Many years ago I had a mate who was a Geek (but at that time he must have been an Ancient Geek) who had what was generally thought to be the best hi-fi in South Bristol. Occasionally he would invite me over to listen to music in what were then the best conditions available but I had to bring along the records as he didn't actually own any. I thought at the time (and still do) that it was better to have a Dansette (where the records would drop down one after the other) and own a few actual records however banal than have optimum studio conditions and not have any records at all.
 
It was on this very Dansette that I first listened to all the PA catalogue, I now remember. Now I have my own iPod (BTW where do you put the cassettes?) I wonder if my old mate has got around to actually buying a few records.
 
Ian C
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Pete Atkin
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Posts: 464
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #105: 12.03.09 at 22:45 »
Quote

It used to be said a long time ago that record buyers divided into two groups: those who put up with the music in order to listen to the equipment, and those who put up with the equipment in order to listen to the music.
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Val_Jennings
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Posts: 9
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #106: 13.03.09 at 09:25 »
Quote

I had an Our Price colleague who had a fancy turntable and tone arm which together were so sensitive you could hear even the tiniest imperfection, even on ECM label pressings. It made all seem a bit pointless, I always thought.... Undecided
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Mike Walters
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Posts: 127
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #107: 13.03.09 at 09:57 »
Quote

Ian's and Val's stories, and Pete's comment, remind me of a friend I had at university,  Mike Smith (where is he now, I wonder?) who spent what was, particularly by undergraduate standards, a not-so-small fortune on a top quality music system.  The only detail I recall is that, on top of everything else, he'd had to invest in a hefty granite block for his hugely-expensive turntable to sit on.  However, having spent all his money on this extraordinary system, he couldn't afford to buy any records.  He possessed only a very small handful of discs on the 'Music for Pleasure' label.  Needless to say, the music was awful and the pressings were so poor that they immediately negated any benefits generated by the system.  
 
Mike was a terrific character, with many unexpected talents.  He was a superb craftsman and, in the year before going up to university, he had painstakingly made himself an absolutely beautiful - and glorious sounding - electric guitar.  It perhaps goes without saying that he hadn't the first idea how to play it.
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Douglas Fergus
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Posts: 24
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #108: 13.03.09 at 10:47 »
Quote

I see on the link to the Edsel reissue of AKAN/TROS on the Smash Flops homepage that there is (/was?) to be an article in Record Collector re the reissues.
Does anybody know which issue of the magazine this refers to?
 
Douglas
 
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Pete Atkin
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Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #109: 13.03.09 at 11:32 »
Quote

Hi Douglas.  Can't exactly say, not least since Clive and I haven't yet done the interviews!
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Andrew_Curry
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Posts: 35
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #110: 13.03.09 at 17:04 »
Quote

Listening again to Road of Silk, I realised - reading the notes - that it was the incomparable Daryl Runswick playing the bass line at the end of The Man Who Walked Towards The Music (and, according to close study, on several of the other tracks, and on most of Secret Drinker).
 
I'm not a big fan of Cleo Laine, but I've always liked her Live! At the Carnegie Hall!, which was recorded later in 1973, with Runswick in the line-up. He co-wrote and arranged my favourite track on that record, Wish You Were Here (I  Do Miss You). On that the bass is pretty subdued.
 
The lyrics are here - song 10.
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S J Birkill
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Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #111: 13.03.09 at 19:49 »
Quote

on 13.03.09 at 17:04, Andrew_Curry wrote:
Listening again to Road of Silk, I realised - reading the notes - that it was the incomparable Daryl Runswick playing the bass line at the end of The Man Who Walked Towards The Music (and, according to close study, on several of the other tracks, and on most of Secret Drinker).

Daryl's work with Pete goes back a long way: he played double bass on "I Need New Words" (the prototype of "Tongue-Tied") on the 1967 demo album While The Music Lasts, and then reprised his part for "Tongue-Tied" on Secret Drinker some seven years later.
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Pete Atkin
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Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #112: 14.03.09 at 10:01 »
Quote

Not to disparage Daryl R in any way at all, believe me, but that bass solo fade-out at the end of The Man Who Walked... was all written out - not that Daryl couldn't have improvised what would probably have been a much better and more interesting line, but mainly once again in the cause of maximising studio time by not having to try out different ideas in order to get the kind of thing I was after.  
 
I think that was something I had mentioned in an early far-too-long draft of the Edsel notes, so thanks for mentioning it here.
 
It was also part of an idea of mine at the time to try to give a bit of added value to fade-outs. An Array Of Passionate Lovers was another one (I always regretted the fact that we didn't fade that one out completely before the saxes start to repeat it).  The most perceptive among you will have spotted that I've never used fade-outs very often. So ften, it seems to me, they're disappointing or annoying.   My default position has always been to end a song 'properly' unless there's some musical or lyrical or emotional reason not to.  Even so, I'm not sure I'd be able to justify convincingly every single one.  What does anybody else think? (Maybe a case for a new thread.)
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Andrew_Curry
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Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #113: 15.03.09 at 09:25 »
Quote

I've just updated the Wikipedia entry on Pete to include the Edsel re-releases. Was the original entry was written by one of the Voices? (Should this be new thread as well?)
 
Andrew
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Rob Spence
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Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #114: 15.03.09 at 18:54 »
Quote

on 12.03.09 at 22:45, Pete Atkin wrote:
It used to be said a long time ago that record buyers divided into two groups: those who put up with the music in order to listen to the equipment, and those who put up with the equipment in order to listen to the music.

Well, yes, quite! I've been enjoying all the re-releases over the last few days, and, like a lot of people here, reflecting on the fact that this is the third or even, in the case of The Road of Silk, fourth time I've bought these songs. (Original vinyl of ROS left in staff room of terminally awful boys comprehensive in Leeds. The boys used to set fire to the school buses - and were so stupid they did it whilst they were actually on board...)  
The technical discussion I found fascinating, but I've never had top-end equipment because it always seemed to me that you also needed an appropriate room, and I never had the space. Audio, ahem, geeks, will doubtless put me right, but I'd have thought a top of the range system would be unlikely to sound its best in a cramped lounge cluttered with furniture, cats, books etc.  Nevertheless, the new CDs seem richer than the old CDs- I've tried playing a few tracks from the See For Miles reissues alongside the new ones, and, if my ears don't deceive me, there does seem to be more detail in the soundscape of the new issues. I never did get that thing audiophiles say about the warmth of the vinyl reproduction, as if vinyl recording were some ancient craft handed down from father to son as part of the initiation into some medieval Guild of Gramophone Recordists, but the new CDs seem crisper, less muddy than the old CDs.
Kevin mentioned the recent research about teenagers lacking discrimination in their hearing of music because they listen mainly on iPods. I came across a fascinating article here, that demonstrates how we hear things that aren't actually there - except they are there, because we hear them.
The main thing is that these reissues are brilliant, and have been packaged very well. The booklets alone make them must-haves for most of us, I would imagine.
 
Whilst we are on the subject, a plug for Avid Records, who have a rolling programme of jazz reissues, and recently put out a 4 album package (on 2 CDs) of Blossom Dearie. The release was brought forward to cash in on commemorate her recent death, and as a fan, I am delighted. I had one of the albums, but now have three more, plus some bonus material from albums recorded with others, including Blossom's only appearance alongside King Pleasure. These have been digitally remastered, and sound excellent- I'm discovering detail I hadn't heard before in the subtle playing of the always top-notch jazzmen who accompanied her. Perfect moments, really: 50-odd songs, mostly less than three minutes long, all charming, poignant, funny or distinctive in some other way, and all for £6.99 delivered to your door. The sleeve notes are all there, but it's a very much less-than-Atkinesque booklet. Still, great value!
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John N L Morrison
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Posts: 35
Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #115: 16.03.09 at 12:02 »
Quote

on 12.03.09 at 22:45, Pete Atkin wrote:
It used to be said a long time ago that record buyers divided into two groups: those who put up with the music in order to listen to the equipment, and those who put up with the equipment in order to listen to the music.

They must be younger folks. Now I'm an OAP I have a set-up which I find totally satisfying because it makes the music sound great. A useful tip I was once given by an expert hi-fi salesman (John Oakman of Audio T): if you're going to listen to a new hi-fi system, don't take along the records you think have the best sound - take along some you love for the music but which sound crummy on your current system. Then choose the new set-up which makes the bad sound good - the good will sound even better and you'll get more enjoyment from your whole music collection. Worked for me.
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John N L Morrison
Jon Philpot
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Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #116: 25.04.09 at 10:32 »
Quote

Received my subscriber issue of the new (June) issue of Mojo yesterday and found a favourable overview of all the Demon re-releases included. Not available online unfortunately - I have scanned it but don't think I can easily post it here. However would be happy to email it to anyone interested - send me a message
 
Jon
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S J Birkill
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Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #117: 25.04.09 at 11:22 »
Quote

Mmm - that's nice. Don't know where Irvin got "Ate-kin" though!
 
And here's another, this from Shindig.
 
SJB
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Seán Kelly
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Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #118: 26.04.09 at 20:03 »
Quote

Aah "Sunlight Grate" conjuring up that magical moment when the sun shines through the window and lights up.. the fireplace.  Still I can forgive all when he calls them "this brilliant partnership".
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Paul Leighton
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Re: Atkin/James re-releases on Demon Records
« Reply #119: 28.04.09 at 13:28 »
Quote


Having now acquired all the new pressings from Edsel and the really quite extraordinarily
detailed annotations from our heroes, I would have to say that I am as happy as a pig in......except I suppose that pigs in Mexico may be feeling the heat.  However, anxious as I am to save my bacon in the face of that remark,  perhaps I should just say a very warm thankyou to Pete and his Edsel colleagues for a new and very splendid packaging of my favourite tracks.  
Perhaps my Amazon review..."Old Gems - Repolished" is a good indication of why, as a journalist, I never made it as a sub writing headlines!
 
My best wishes to all
Leighton - late of the Telegraph and the BBC! (Rather like Creighton of the Diplomatic Service, Fabian of the Yard or Luck of the Legion - only less successful!) Wink
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