|Out of Cold Storage: This Heat/Deceit/Made Available: Peel Sessions /Repeat/Health & Efficiency/Live 80-81
[6 CD set] (This Is/ReR; UK)
THE BOX contains all the released material, newly re-mastered (This Heat, Deceit, Made Available: The Peel Sessions, Repeat, Health And Efficiency, PLUS a CD of previously unreleased material selected and re-mastered by Charles Hayward & Charles Bullen titled Live 80/81, PLUS a fat book of interviews, articles, photograph, memorabilia and documents that trace the history and contextualise work of the group.
"Disc 1: "This Heat" (aka "Blue & Yellow") - THE first LP, originally released on Flying Lizard David Cunningham's Piano label in 1979. Features the infamous "24-Track Loop." Personally, this is my least favorite disc in the bunch - I feel that the versions of "Horizontal Hold," "Not Waving," and "Fall of Saigon" from the Peel Sessions disc (Made Available) are vastly superior both in intensity AND recording quality. Of all of the records, this one held the most importance in its time perhaps; its impact in hindsight lessens greatly [over their entire output, that is]. Still, this is the one that started it all...
Disc 2: "Deceit" - The 2nd LP, originally released on Rough Trade in 1981. This is the one for me. One of the most blistering, intense, and overtly political albums whose cries of intolerance still ring as loudly and clearly today as they did back then. Nothing on this record has aged badly in my opinion. A deep emotional exorcism, a true desert island disc, a classic.
Disc 3: "Health & Efficiency" - The single. "Here's a song about the sunshine..." and so it goes. The 12" that has it all, almost literally. This Heat's stab at the pop song - eight minutes of tight riffage, eerie call & response harmonies (said harmonies have alwys been one of my favorite elements of TH's songs... no one in the band would really be considered a great singer in a technical sense, but they took what they had and MADE it work), and field recordings of children at play. It's avant-garde AND catchy at the same time, and it's backed by a gorgeous drone piece meant to be played at any speed you choose (on this disc it's the 45 rpm version - the 33 rpm version can be found on the "Repeat" disc.)
Disc 4: "Made Available: Peel Sessions" - As I mentioned earlier, the first half of this disc features (IMHO) superior versions of the key tracks from the first LP, save for "24 Track Loop." The 2nd half is made up of improvised pieces, and while it's interestin to hear the group in such a raw context, the improvs are probably the weakest material in the box - and the Charleses agree in the box's liner notes. Essential if only to hear the true power and intensity this band had as a live entity, and in sparklingly clear recording quality to boot.
Disc 5: "Repeat" - The posthumous "remix" record, if you will. Three longish cuts (each averages at about 15 to 20 mins) of instrumental loop-based experiments, the first of which being an AMAZING 20-min workout of the 24 Track Loop" material, in which the group dissects every element of the piece, letting it play through every nuance and mixing-board trick at their disposal. Amazingly, the piece holds up to such scrutiny even stretched to 4 times its original length. The second cut, "Metal," is a nice assembly of gamelan-like percussion loops augmented by field recordings of the group outside their Cold Storage studio... quite unlike anything else the group had ever recorded. The disc ends with the 33rpm version of the drone "Graphic/Varispeed," originally the b-side to the "Health & Efficiency" single.
Disc 6: : "Live 80/81" - Here's the gem in the crown! A disc of previously unreleased live tapes, assembled and mixed by the Charleses and sequenced to replicate the setlist from the group's live show. While the recordings do not always bear the most sparkling sound quality, much like the Crimson Club discs, what they lack in sonics they make up with in sheer power and feeling. A few pieces on the disc are also not found anywhere else in the box. A nice addition to the discography.
Also included in the box is a lovely booklet featuring in-depth interviews with both Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward, a track-by-track description of nearly the entire contents of the box, and loads of flyers, photos, and essays by other.
The remarkable thing about the music collected on these 6 CDs is also one of the most complimentary things one could say about ANY recorded piece of music - play any one of these discs blindfold-test-style to an uninitiated listener. When you tell them afterwards that the music was made in the late 70's/early 80's, look at their expression of disbelief, which is often followed by a comment along the lines of "This shit sounds like it was recorded TOMORROW." True timeless sonics for the masses, this box is the DEFINITION of essential listening!!"