Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hugh Hopper, Elton Dean, Keith Tippett, Joe Gallivan - Cruel But Fair (1976)

Sorry for the protracted absence (again). I've been experimenting with ripping in higher resolution and various methods of noise reduction, so I might even revisit some of my earlier posts and re-do if time permits.

Here's an LP that needs very little cleaning up, though. I was lucky to find this fairly cheaply on eBay recently, and it's a real beauty. There was a CD of this album released on One Way records some time in the mid 90s, but I think that might actually have been from a needledrop of an original LP. Why look for a drop from a pristine LP on high-end studio gear, professionally mastered, when you can wrap your ears around my amateur lo-fi handiwork?

Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean (both of whom left us in recent years) are of course best known for their work in Soft Machine (or perhaps Dean is best known for giving Reg Dwight part of his stage name).
I first became aware of Keith Tippett (as I suspect did many people) through his awesome comping on some of the early King Crimson albums (Poseidon, Lizard and Islands) and try to get hold of whatever of his own work I can get my grubby mitts on. I believe there are currently CDs of Dedicated to You, But You Weren't Listening and You Are Here... I Am There in print. If you like this album, grab both of those while they're still available (unless you can afford to fork over >$200 for the original LPs).

This album was recorded in Oslo in October 1976 for the Norwegian Compendium label (but my copy was pressed in the UK), a few years after Tippett's major label releases. It still boggles my mind that RCA would do something as foolhardy as allowing Tippett and his 50 piece band, Centipede, to record and release a double album called Septober Energy. It was a different time, I guess. I think this album is something of a rarity in Tippett's discography in that he seems to be playing an electric piano on some tracks (I can't tell whether it's a Rhodes or a Wurlitzer or something else). Can't recall off the top of my head whether he does that on any of his own albums.

I must confess I was entirely ignorant of Joe Gallivan's work until I looked him up on Wikipedia just now. I'll leave it to you to do the same.

Hugh Hopper - Bass
Elton Dean - Alto Saxophone & Saxello
Keith Tippett - Piano
Joe Gallivan - Drums, Percussion & Synthesizer

Recorded at The Basement, Oslo, October 1976.
Compendium Records, UK pressing 1976, Cat# FIDARDO 4

A1: Seven Drones (Hopper) 8:27
A2: Jannakota (Dean/Gallivan) 4:41
A3: Echoes (Tippett) 8:42
B1: Square Enough Fire (Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan) 9:22
B2: Rocky Recluse (Tippett/Gallivan) 2:27
B3: Bjorn Free (Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan) 2:16
B4: Soul Fate (Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan) 5:37

320kpbs mp3
[Links fixed 22/1/12]

Technical Note: Ripped in 24 bit/96kHz, declicked using Clickrepair (on the lowest possible setting) and down-sampled to 16 bit/44.1kHz using Audacity. I am still evaluating Clickrepair, but it seems worth the $40 to buy a copy. If used lightly it seems to remove those tiny little clicks without any discernible loss of quality. I've been trying it on noisier albums with mixed success, but I think that might be down to the way I'm using it rather than any shortcomings in the software.
This album is an absolute peach. Promotional UK pressing, with the names CLIVE and MAX (whoever they are) inscribed in the deadwax and a very spiffy laminated Garrod & Lofthouse printed sleeve. I almost feel a little bad about getting it on eBay for only $20.