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3 stars What is the point of reviewing singles that contain tracks that have become readily available on later CD formats or over the net? Well, it's mostly for posterity. To remind younger generations that there were actually different formats that forced one to buy the single versions in order to get a song that was not available on an album. Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song / Hey Hey What Can I Do 45 RPM was probably one of the most coveted singles of the 70s. Immigrant Song was the lead off track on the Led Zeppelin LP Led Zeppelin III from 1970 but the former only made it on to an Atlantic Records vinyl sampler , " The New Age Of Atlantic " in '72 and didn't make it onto an actual Led Zeppelin release until 1993, on a 10 CD box set entitled "The Complete Studio Recordings".

In 1974 Polydor Records chose to release a edited version of the jazz-rock number "Harem Scarem " from Focus' " Hamburger Concerto " LP which was cut down to 3:07 which eliminated Jan Akkerman's guitar solo. So not much interesting there but...

The "B " side, " Early Birth ", was an entirely reworked version of " Birth ", an extended track that ran almost 8 minutes on the LP that incorporated classical elements including a harpsichord intro! This 3 minute version is more upbeat with a rock intro and funkier guitar soloing from Akkerman probably aimed at the AM radio demographic. Although it was available on a 1975 Polydor Special Products complilation LP in 1975 it was a limited pressing that was only available for a short period. It was also included on a 1974 Italian pressing of the " Hamburger Concerto " LP ( instead of the full 8 minute version ). On CD " Early Birth " was only released as a bonus track on the first EMI editionin June 1998. Along with with the " Hocus Pocus " ( fast version ) from the 1975 " Dutch Masters " compilation 1975 and " O Avondrood ", 1976, a Dutch vocal version of " Red Sky At Night " that appeared on a various artists Dutch compilation album as well as as a "B " side of a single re-release of " The House Of The King ", "Early Birth" " was one of those elusive tracks that had to be hunted down until the 90s when more and more unreleased material started coming onto the market with the advent of the CD format.

This was a prize for Focus fans back in the seventies & eighties if they could get hold of it .45 RPM single pressings from progressive rock bands were limited even in 1974-5. Not exactly top 40 fare. I have a German copy that actually has a sleeve with a picture of the band and therefore was a treasure to me as much as a Led Zep " Immigrant Song / Hey Hey What Can I Do " single was for Led Zeppelen freaks. Other countries' releases of " Harem Scarem / Early Birth " contain errors on both the covers and the labels that make them worth a bit more than my German copy, otherwise this artifact is only of interest to collectors and hard core completists.

Report this review (#708401)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Aperitif

Taken from the band's masterpiece album Hamburger Concerto, Harem Scarem was edited for release as a single to promote the album. While the album version is almost six minutes in running time, this single version is only three minutes and 20 seconds. Yet, it does not feel truncated or butchered to me.

The B-side is an early version of Birth from the same album, appropriatele called "Early Birth". The latter has since been included as a bonus track on the 2001 CD reissue of Hamburger Concerto, but it was originally only available on this single. It fits well together with the rest of the album, and as such this single gives a small pre-taste of what that album is like.

A nice single, but hardly essential (unlike the album, which is a must have)

Report this review (#1976300)
Posted Thursday, August 9, 2018 | Review Permalink

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