I’ll begin this review by not reviewing it. Disc one, the main album, has been remastered but I’ve not listened to it in full yet so I don’t know how that stacks up. However, as I’m deaf in one ear I’m probably not the best person to talk about it. For this reason I’m focussing on the bonus disc and the delights within…
There is no question it’s excellent compilation of rare and unreleased material but it is not without its flaws. I was particularly looking forward to the demos of Two Tribes, War and Welcome to the Pleasuredome as well as the long mix of Ballad of 32 but more of which about those in a moment.
The second disc to this set begins with the fabled Relax (Greatest Bits) from the cassette single…sorry, singlette. This really is a perfect summing up of the Relax experience and it’s just a shame we don’t (yet) have a release that includes all those fantastic cassette mini-albums in a digital form. After the work Ian Peel has done with the ZTT’s archive that may change but for now I’m happy take this.
One September Monday is always a hard listen for me on headphones in particular because of my left-side deafness. The interview and music are kept well apart in the mix so I had to listen to this twice to get the full effect. That said, I’m picking up a lot more in the interview than I ever did before.
The Power of Love 12″ needed to be included if only because it’s been conspicuous by its absense from previous CD releases. There have been at least three opportunities to have issued this mix since it was last on the 1993 CD single reissue.
After Power of Love we have Disneyland. This first appeared on the ZTT retrospective, Sampled, and it was good to see that the ‘M.I.C.K.E.Y M.O.U.S.E’ from elsewhere on that compilation had been added to the beginning of the track here. However, I thought it strange that the animal noises are still there as they are clearly from Propagands’s Duel. I know they were included on Twelve Inches CD set but that’s no reason to keep them now.
Then it was the part I was looking forward to most – the demos. They are a fascinating look into the recording process that makes you try and pinpoint when which section was recorded and how far into development they were.I had heard two of the three before over the Internet as it turned out which slightly tainted my enjoyment of them. Still great to have though.
Following on from the three demos we have One February Friday which I’ve always loved though it’s a painfully juvenile interview at times. I would hope we get an instrumental version of this song at some point as it is a very engaging piece of music. We then get to the highlight of the whole package: The Ballad of 32.
I never really understood why some reviewers didn’t rate this track on the original LP. If Pink Floyd had recorded it it would’ve been held up as a masterpiece. Sure, there were no vocals (save for the moans from Babylon Pink blue movie) but it didn’t need them. It just added to the Frankie story and overblown nature of the album when first released. I remember in my youth creating a long version of this because I just didn’t want it to stop. I just loved the rolling guitars and tom toms and maybe the rude bits appealed to my adolescent sensibilities too.
Mix 2 is a joy and depite over half the eleven minutes being new to my ear(s) you can still follow the editing process for the final version. There is a brief passage towards the beginning that seemed out of place and I can’t make up my mind if it was reminiscent of medieval or arabic sounds but that soon passes and we’re back in familiar territory. No moaning this time but I think that would be too much for anyone!
We then have the brief interlude of Who then devised the torment? which I’ve always called ‘Oh fire!’. Another snippet from the singlettes which is nice to have but largely pointless out of context. The only place a Winston Churchill impersonator appears on this album.
Our Winnie is followed by the Greek Disco mix of Relax which I also think it was a largely unnecessary inclusion especially after the 16 minutes of Greatest Bits. The Greek mix is one of those oddities for collectors to pick up but by making accessible likes this takes the fun out of it…and it is a rather poor edit job. It’s only saving grace is that the start is the beginning of the 8 minute sex mix edit which we still don’t have in full.
Probably the strangest inclusion of all on this edition is Watusi Love Jucy. I really like this song but it has no place on here despite it being described as being from ‘at the very end of the Pleasuredome era’. It is dated as summer ’86 so it should’ve been saved for a Liverpool deluxe set. This just leaves us with one track to go, the Last Voice.
Chilling. And a perfect end to a great album.
Overall, despite the negative comments the deluxe edition of Welcome to the Pleasuredome is a wonderful thing. It has been lovingly put together and excellently currated by Ian Peel. The packaging is simply excellent too and for a all to brief moment, I’ve been transported back to 1984. A very nice place to be.
The only obvious changes I would’ve made would have been to lose the Greek Disco Mix and include The Only Star in Heaven (Starfix) and the 7″ of The World is My Oyster but we have since learned that not all tracks were available for mastering at that stage. Their day will come.
Overall though I give it a very creditable 9/10