Sunday, 18 August 2013

Tangerine Dream - Ricochet (70's Live Album Series)

 
This is a bit of an odd one. Most live albums from the period were recorded documents of either live concerts or amalgamation of live gigs, with bands playing studio material within a live setting. However, Ricochet was different. Both side long tracks on the original vinyl were pieced together from edits from around 40 to 50 hours of recorded performances. You wouldn't know it as the whole thing flows effortlessly from one section to the next. It's a beautiful album and is one of my favourite all time albums. Although Tangerine Dream were considered an electronic synthesiser band, they actually utilised a whole host of different instruments, like mellotron, piano, electric guitar and percussion. This gave the group a very organic, earthy sound which I think Ricochet best exemplifies. I have very find memories in sitting in school classrooms watching BBC schools television films with Ricochet playing in the background. Mention must be made of the cover artwork. I have always loved Tangerine Dreams album artwork from this period. Ricochet includes a wonderful photo by Monique Froese which adds a reflective, mysterious quality to the album. That together with lettering used for the titles and credits resulted in an album cover which really stood out.

In terms of CD versions, I have the SBM remastered version which Simon Heyworth understook in 1995 as part of Virgins "Definitive Edition" series of reissues. These sounded ok, but the packaging, though better than Virgins original CD issue of 1984, was still lacking. I thought at some point Virgin would undertake another stab at reissuing the catalogue with maybe a deluxe treatment including bonus stuff and decent packaging. But they didn't. Instead in 2011 they released a 3 CD package called The Virgin Years 1974-1978 which included the first six albums released on the Virgin label. This was packaged as shown as a triple jewel case with basic booklet including just credits. The credits state mastering by Andy Pearce. I am not sure what this means. I think he took the definitive edition masters and tweaked them a bit and mastered the bonus cuts which were added to the package, which were basically single edits, rather than do a completely new master from the original tapes. The overall package doesn't look too bad and as a mid price compilation is pretty good, though some will balk at how the album tracks are split over the discs. Virgin followed this up the following year with a 5 CD box set in similar jewel case packaging, which included the seven albums from 1977 to 1983. As a side note there was also a similarly jewel cased box set of Edgar Froese's Virgin solo albums. But these were newly remastered by Denis Blackham.

My preference has been the Japanese papersleeve editions. I bought these separately and managed to snag one of those Disk Union promo boxes to put them in. They smartly do justice to the original artwork, right down to the correct stock of card they used to replicate the original vinyl editions.

It is hard to believe nowadays that Tangerine Dreams albums were Top 40 sellers, but they were. A different time, but Virgin records were a leading edge record company then and had a roster of out there artists, but still seemed to sell well. Ricochet is one of my favourites from Virgins Golden Period.

 

 

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