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S J Birkill
MV Administrator

just a sensible reserve

Posts: 854
Julie's "The Magic Wasn't There"
« : 24.10.22 at 07:25 »

I might be the last one here to realise this, but it turns out that two different recordings of the song emerged from Julie's 1969 sessions for The Beautiful Changes at EMI Abbey Road.

"The Magic Wasn't There" first appeared as the A-side of Columbia 45rpm single DB 8649 in 1970, with Don Paul's "The Way Things Ought To Be" as the B-side. Later, in 1971, it was released as the first track on Columbia LP SCX 6466, The Beautiful Changes. The single sank with little trace; the album came to be recognised as a classic.
I imagine those of us who subsequently tracked down the single and bought a copy did so either out of understandable completism or from curiosity about the non-PA/CJ song. Either way, I expect most gave the A-side only a cursory play, being familiar with it from the album.
If so, we didn't listen carefully enough -- it's different!
There's a 'group' on Facebook for Julie Covington fans, and one of their number, Bob Dobalina, wrote:
Have just received and listened to a 45 of "The Magic Wasn't There" b/w "The Way Things Ought to Be." I've been listening to a cd of The Beautiful Changes for years, and I knew right away something was different about the A-side. Different mix? Actually, different vocal take altogether! The backing arrangements sound the same, but the vocals are definitely different. Wonderful, though. Really a treat to hear it just a bit differently.

The 45 is so punchy too.

Thank you, Bob! I found my copy and, sure enough, the vocal phrasing is different. Not only that, but so is the instrumental mix. And there's less compression at the bass end than we hear on the LP and CD version, which might account for its superior 'punch'.
I put together a pseudo-stereo version with two mono mixes, the single in the left channel and the LP in the right. I applied a similar degree of compression to the single track to make for a better comparison of the other differences. Listen here:
From the start, you might spot the tympani over the intro of the single version. Then you'll here Julie begin 'A single sign of care' without the swung/syncopated effect of delaying and shortening the 'A' -- the left channel vocal leads. And she's consistent on this throughout. There are lots more little differences, all subtle. How about that!
I've corrected the discography 'Play' button to deliver the appropriate version when the single is selected:
Thoughts? Might the single version be better? Shame they used the more compressed LP version for the CDs, but understandable as it was mastered for 33-1/3 vinyl in the first place.
    https://peteatkin.com/forum?board=Music&action=display&num=1666592713&start=0#0   copy 

Stephen J Birkill
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