COVENTRY Music Museum curator Pete Chambers BEM writes for the Observer.
It’s always an exciting prospect for an old Ska fan like myself when a re-release is announced, high quality vinyl and the joy of a premastered sound.
So, imagine my delight at the announcement of the new Selecter release of their iconic debut album ‘Too Much Pressure’.
Recorded at Horizon Studios, Coventry in the winter of 1979/80, it’s a showstopper of an album that included the songs ‘Three Minute Hero’, ‘Missing Words’, ‘Danger’, ‘Too Much Pressure’ and ‘James Bond’.
To many Ska fans, me included, it defined the essence of the Ska 2 Tone sound much more than any other album.
The band – Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson and Pauline Black on lead vocals, Neol Davies and Compton Amanor on guitar, Desmond Brown on Hammond organ, Charley ‘H’ Bembridge on drums, and Charley Anderson on bass.
They were all perfectly in sync, working towards one common goal to make infectious Ska music with a message, and boy how they succeeded.
To hear it remastered will be an exciting prospect.
Though that is not the main event here – that title will go to what is included as a bonus CD, and this really is Coventry music history.
I recall the night at Tiffany’s Coventry when this gig was being recorded (November 29, 1979), apart from one track ‘Carry Go Bring Come’, this live set has never been released – until now.
As a Coventry music historian, please indulge me in a moment of journalistic hyperbole, when I say that the release of these tracks are beyond historic, take it from a life-long Ska fan, it really is.
This is where a lot of 2 Tone fans came in, for 40 years we have been waiting to hear this set and here it is – 12 tracks guaranteed to take you back to the day you bought your first Crombie and donned your new pork pie hat.
The main set includes the remastered album, non-album singles and B-sides, a John Peel session, previously unreleased rarities and a 24-page book with sleeve notes by Daniel Rachel and photos by John Coles are all packed into the 3CD version, whilst both black and limited-edition clear vinyl are being arranged on half-speed master, complete with a bonus 7ins of the signature hit On My Radio – available on April 24.
I asked founding member and chief Songwriter and guitarist Neol Davies his thoughts on this rerelease he has been so closely connected with.
So how important in terms of The Selecter legacy are these releases (especially the live at Tiffany’s set)?
“To find 2Tone Music still as popular as it appears to be, is a great feeling.
“This release represents all of the studio recordings by The Selecter during the period where the band was releasing music on the 2Tone Records label through Chrysalis Records.
“It also includes radio sessions and, most importantly, the live recording made at Tiffany’s aka the Rock House towards the latter part of the famous 2Tone Tour.
“These live recordings have not been heard since the day they were recorded.
“The legacy of The Selecter will be forever enhanced by this live set being available at last.”
Are you pleased with the outcome?
“I am very pleased with the outcome.
“The way Chrysalis has accomplished the task of putting together The Selecter material to celebrate the 40th anniversary is great.
“There hasn’t been anything yet as comprehensive.”
What will people hear on these newly remastered tracks compared to the originals?
“One of the big differences is the Too Much Pressure album itself. It has been mastered from the original studio mix tapes with present day mastering techniques.
“This has resulted in the sonic architecture, as I like to call it, being tonally enhanced.
“I think people will hear a better version than the previous CD versions.
“They have been repeatedly mastered from previous mastered versions.
“Back in 1979, the tapes would have been mastered for vinyl which by its nature loses some bandwidth.
“This version is straight from the tape to digital, more sound.”
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