The Japanese do seem to be ramping up the release schedule of various catalogues on SHM CD at the moment. Of interest to me over the next few months are titles by Phil Manzanera, Henry Cow and Gong and all as papersleeve editions. Just out are the three studio albums released by the post-Henry Cow outfit Art Bears. ReR released a stunning box set of all Art Bears material a number of years back, all expertly assembled and mastered by Bob Drake. These SHM issues use choice material from that box set to enhance the separate albums on these reissues as added bonus tracks. The discs are listed as being remastered, but not sure from what source. I suspect they have used the existing digital transfers to tweek things here and these as there is a ReR Megacorp licensing credit mentioned. They do sound very good, but it's the packaging which is the star here. All the inserts which were included within the original vinyl editions, poster, lyric sheet and booklet are produced here in miniature form, with the sleeves faithfully reproduced right down to using the same card stock and even gold embossing as on Winter Songs.
I do love Henry Cow's music, but Art Bears were somehow even more special. After the long complex instrumental pieces of HC, the trilogy of Art Bears albums saw Dagmar, Frith and Cutler resort to shorter, song based pieces. This may have been the height of punk when they were recorded, but there was nothing that was produced in the name of punk that was as anarchic or extreme as these songs. It's a pleasure to have these albums reproduced as beautiful as these SHM editions are and sounding pretty good too!