Title - 'Slow Dancing: Recordings 1974-1979' [Remastered]
Artist - Unicorn
Esoteric Recordings has just-released a magnificent new 4CD clamshell box-set that gathers together three albums and an additional disc of previously-unreleased archive material by the legendary British band Unicorn, Slow Dancing: The Recordings 1974–1979.
Slow Dancing: The Recordings 1974–1979 gathers together the albums Blue Pines Trees, Too Many Crooks and One More Tomorrow, all with additional bonus tracks and features an additional CD with 19 previously unreleased studio and live archive recordings, selected by Unicorn’s Pat Martin.
The set also features an illustrated booklet and essay and is a fine tribute to one of Britain’s most unique bands.
Unicorn recorded their first album in 1971 for the Transatlantic label, but by 1973 they began an association with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd who was taken with the band’s musical approach and American West Coast musical influences, vocal harmonies and very English lyrics.
Featuring a line-up of Kenny Baker (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Pete Perryer (drums, lead vocals) Pat Martin (bass, vocals) and Kevin Smith (lead guitar, mandolin), Blue Pine Trees was released on the Charisma label in 1974 and was produced by David Gilmour, who also featured on Pedal Steel Guitar and guitar on several tracks.
Disc One - Blues Pines (1974):
1. 'Electric Night'
2. 'Sleep Song'
3. 'Autumn Wine'
4. 'Rat Race'
5. 'Just Wanna Hold You'
7. 'Nightingale Crescent'
8. 'The Farmer'
9. 'In The Gym'
10. 'Blue Pine Trees'
11. 'Ooh Mother' [Bonus Track]
12. 'Volcano' [Bonus Track]
13. 'The Ballad of John and Julie' (BBC Session 1974) [Bonus Track]
14. 'Bog Trotter' [Bonus Track]
15. 'Ooh Mother' (Single Version) [Bonus Track]
16. 'I'll Believe In You (The Hymn)' [Bonus Track]
17. 'Take It Easy' [Bonus Track]
I first saw this band supporting Osibisa at Brunel University and was totally blown away. Considering how brilliant they were live, and how fantastic this album and Too Many Crooks were, along with the backing of David Gilmour, it is truly difficult to understand just how they escaped fame!
If you enjoy very melodic soft rock (think Sutherland Brothers, Stealers Wheel, etc.) with a hint of country and intelligent lyrics, and are of a certain age, man, this kind of music was surrounding you from all sides (albeit form other artists and bands, of course).
In truth, his album has always been a staple in my collection and the best comparison I could make, thinking logically about it now, is the music of Lindisfarne.
Complete with a distinctive twang, much like Lindisfarne, there are several songs here that are more than nice, carrying a deep emotive hook and such.
Now complete with some delicious extra tracks, such as 'The Ballad of John and Julie' (BBC Session 1974), the brilliant 'Ooh Mother' and the lush 'I'll Believe in You (The Hymn),' this first disc is a real doozy!
In 1976 the band signed with EMI’s Harvest label and recorded their next album Too Many Crooks. David Gilmour produced the album, once again, and also featured as a musician on several tracks.
Disc Two - Too Many Crooks (1978):
2. 'Ferry Boat'
3. 'He's Got Pride'
4. 'Keep On Going'
5. 'Too Many Crooks'
6. 'Bullseye Bill'
7. 'Disco Dancer'
9.'No Way Out Of Here'
10. 'In The Mood'
11. 'So Far Away' (Out-take)[Bonus Track]
12. 'Weekend' (Live Radio Studio Session 1975) [Bonus Track]
13. 'Ferry Boat' (Live Radio Studio Session 1975) [Bonus Track]
14. 'He's Got Pride' (Live Radio Studio Session 1975) [Bonus Track]
15. 'No Way Out Of Here' (Live Radio Studio Session 1975) [Bonus Track]
16. 'Disco Dancer' (Single Mix) [Bonus Track]
Including the song 'No Way Out Of Here,' which Gilmour would cover on his first solo album in 1978, in truth, any fan of Dave Edmunds or Nick Lowe (or even the brilliant Rockpile, featuring Elvis Costello) must have already added this album to their collection back in the day.
A delightful blend of rock and country, all very easy going and melodic tunes, sure both the label and the name of the band conjure up images of Prog Rock, but Unicorn's classic mid-seventies, West Coast vibe was embedded evenly throughout this album; and their music, in general.
Also now featuring some lovely bonus tracks, the stand outs here for me are the excellent outtake from the album sessions, 'So Far Away' and the live studio session cuts, originally recorded for radio promotion use only, the cowbell-enhanced 'Weekend' and 'No Way Out of Here.'
One More Tomorrow was the band’s final album and was released in 1977. Although Unicorn would continue until 1979, the band sadly didn’t record another new album.
Disc Three - One More Tomorrow (1977)
1. 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain'
2. 'New Shoes'
3. 'Slow Dancing'
4. 'Get Along Fine'
5. 'British Rail Romance'
7. 'One More Tomorrow'
8. 'So Hard To Get Through'
9. 'I'm Alright (When I'm With You)'
10. 'The Night'
11. 'The Way It Goes'
12. 'Magnolia Avenue'
13. 'Give And Take' [Bonus Track]
14. 'Nothing I Wouldn't Do' [Bonus Track]
15. 'In The Mood' [Bonus Track]
17. 'Rio De Janeiro' [Bonus Track]
18. 'Don't Tell Me I Know' [Bonus Track]
19. 'All Crazy People' [Bonus Track]
The majority of the album was, of course, produced by David Gilmour, who also, of course, featured on Pedal Steel guitar and regular guitar on several tracks.
The band is tight here, as you could have only hoped, but the rhythms they create are spacious, that's for sure. Changing things up more often than they used to, there is no doubt that most all of the songs here are sublime, but admittedly there are a couple that are just, well, let's say, rather good (at best).
This remastered edition of One More Tomorrow features seven bonus tracks; including two previously unreleased songs recorded live in the studio for radio promotional use, several demos and the rare single B-sides 'Give and Take' and 'Nothing I Wouldn't Do'.
Disc Four - The Archive Recordings
1. 'Come A Long Way'
2. 'Billy The Kid'
3. 'The Man In Me'
4. 'Hold On'
5. 'Loving You'
6. 'Don't Turn Away'
7. 'This Old World'
8. 'The Sweeter Life'
9. 'Look Into Your Mirror'
10. 'Boney Fingers' (Live in the USA 1974)
11. 'Corrina Corrina' (Live in the USA 1974)
12. 'Nashville West' (Live in the USA 1974)
13. 'Lenny Dee'
14. In The Gym' (Live BBC Radio)
15. 'Get Along Fine' (Alternative Mix)
16. 'Man In The Fog'
17. 'You Angel You'
18. 'One More Tomorrow' (Demo)
19. 'Tell Me Straight'
The fourth and final disc is entitled The Archive Recordings and is a collection of 19 previously-unreleased tracks that include a trio of live in the USA recordings from 1974, an alternative mix of 'Get Along Fine,' and both a demo of 'One More Tomorrow' and another live recording, this time from the BBC Radio archives, of 'In the Gym.'
Overall, and as for this remastered and expanded 4CD clamshell box-set collection from Esoteric Recordings, the sound is very good, nice and crisply clean and features good separation between the vocals and the various instruments.
The booklet is informative, with a good overview of the bands history, with specific attention as to how David Gilmour came to produce a number of tunes, let alone eventually play on them, of course.
In addition to color reproductions of the group's album covers and some wonderful band photos, there's a track-by-track listing of who plays what and from what album it's from also included.