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Paul Brett - The 1970s CD (album) cover

THE 1970S

Paul Brett


Prog Folk

3.10 | 2 ratings

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3 stars While I am delighted to find this compilation readily available for download and on streaming sites, the question that has kept me almost as entertained as the music is whether it's for fans only or worthwhile for the uninitiated. The short answer is "Yes", and here's why.

This collection of 30 tracks does indeed span the works of guitarist/singer/songwriter PAUL BRETT during his most prolific decade, and draws from 4 albums that, to the best of my knowledge, have yet to receive legitimate digital treatment: the more vocal oriented "Paul Brett" aka "Site and Speculation" (1973) and "Clocks" (1974), and the largely instrumental RCA releases "Interlife" (1978) and "Eclipse" (1979). It omits the solo guitar "Earth Birth" (1977), from which numerous tracks have surfaced on another new compilation, "12 String Instrumental Power", and the virtually unattainable "Phoenix Future" (1975), from which one song has been resurrected on another new quasi-compilation, "Derelict Songs".

From a progressive perspective, it is unfortunate that, while 80% of the tracks of his best solo album, "Interlife" are represented, every one of them has been abridged, none more so than the genre spanning title cut, edited to well under half its 16+ minutes. That said, the splicing was skillfully executed, but, given the lengthy running time of "The 1970s", I would argue unnecessary. Its placement at the very beginning was astute, as was following it immediately with the overtly jazzy and fun-loving original album closer "Intolife", which fits much better without the interceding more placid instrumentals in the original running order.

"Eclipse" is also given short shrift, with only 4 of the original 10 tracks included, in slightly remixed form. Luckily, the three best pieces are offered: the Celtic inspired and infectious title track, the gently rechristened and scintillating flute and acoustic guitar pairing "The Other Side of Paradise", and the grandly baroque "Overture for Decadence". The only egregious exclusion is the superb rendition of DAVE BRUBECK's "Take Five". Of note, the "12 String Instrumental Power" compilation includes one other track, the decent "Silent Runner", re-branded as "The Fasting", while a recent single by PAUL BRETT SAGE took up the aptly named vocal track "Chaos" once again.

The remaining 22 tracks, apart from one fun acoustic instrumental "Jazz Eyes" of unknown origin, include the vast majority of the 2 earlier albums, and clarify that "Sight and Speculation" is by far the better of the two, and the heir apparent to PAUL BRETT SAGE, particularly in "The Spanish Main" and "A Handful of Rain", which could have sat nicely on the first SAGE album, right down to the flute interludes. "March of the Giant Hedgehogs" trots out the best of this incarnation instrumentally, with an unexpected piano portion for variety. The "Clocks" tracks are the weak link here, as there are just too many of them! Still, works like "Hunter of Angels", "What you Mean to me" and "Summer Drifting" propose a more pastoral and string laden approach similar to what AMAZING BLONDEL achieved at that time, and distinguish themselves from the overly represented blues and middle of the road soft rock to a greater extent than they had on the original release.

This is a flawed yet noteworthy compilation that expands the scope of what the average listener has normally been privy to. Had a few tracks from "Clocks" been sacrificed in the service of the full version of "Interlife" and one or two more selections from "Eclipse", I would be rounding up instead of down. Recommended, but not quite as much as those late 1970s original LPs.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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