How many times have you bought the same album? I don’t mean by accident—that’s simply forgetfulness, a free giveaway from Universal Ageing Inc—but because some new and improved whiz-bang re-issue of one of your favourites has appeared.
Of course there’s always a sweetener. The lure of restored artwork, a promise of revelatory sound, alternate versions, a contemporaneous live set… There must be a team of record company executives sitting in a plush, glass-walled office somewhere, chortling as they plan another assault on the resources of pathetic baby boomers with more money than sense.
I speak, as would be transparently obvious to regular readers, as a pathetic baby boomer with more money than sense. (Except for the more money part.)
And what, you sigh, is the latest absurd indulgence to add to the groaning weight of underplayed music threatening the foundations of Schloss Vinyl Connection?
It is a 12” boxed set of 16 CDs…
based around 6 previously released albums.
All of which I have on individual disc plus a 2-CD set compiling the first four
as well as four of the six on vinyl.
There is a lavishly produced hard-cover book…
that will probably tell me little I don’t already know.
There are, in addition, two Blu-ray discs…
though I don’t have a Blu-ray player.
It may have cost less than the Apollo 11 mission, but not by much.
That’s the case for the prosecution.
What arguments can the defence possibly muster to counter these damning indictments?
- The band, Tangerine Dream, were my first electronic love.
- At 52 titles, they hold the bronze medal for most entries in the VC catalogue. (Is that a plus?)
- The 12” box will sit beautifully in the vinyl shelves.
As convincing as Donald’s hair and Boris’s bonhomie.
But wait, there’s more.
- Contemporaneous live material—concerts recorded around the time of a studio album’s release—are something I’ve always enjoyed. It’s especially interesting for electronic music as the studio sounds are so tricky to re-produce on stage (or were, before the advent of laptops). There are three totally new concerts included with In Search of Hades, each filling two CDs.
- The legendary Coventry Cathedral concert finally gets an official release.
- There is a completely new studio recording—Oedipus Tyrannus—that few had even heard rumours about. It begins with atmospheric electro-acoustic improvisations evoking very early TD while the sequencer material is pure Phaedra. Amazing.
- Steven Wilson did some re-mastering/remixing. (Is that a plus?)
- Although the first four Tangerine Dream records are rightly revered for their invention and boundary-pushing (read more here), it is these albums recorded on Richard Branson’s Virgin label that brought the band worldwide fans and fame.
- All six previously released albums are very worthwhile and three—Phaedra (1974), Rubycon (1975), and Stratosfear (1976)—are bona fide classics.
In 1968 or thereabouts there was a club called Middle Earth in Covent Garden and on a memorable occasion there I introduced—for the first time in this country—Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. It was a very moving moment in my life, it really was. And this is as moving a moment, for me anyway, and I’m sure it will be a memorable evening for you. So would you welcome please, Tangerine Dream. (John Peel introducing Tangerine Dream at the Rainbow, London, 24th October 1974)
You may well have been thinking, ‘Who the hell is he trying to convince?’ It’s a good question, and one for which there is an equally good answer, if only I could think of it. In the absence of any plausible justification, I’ll simply say that the package is wonderful and has already brought much pleasure to a number of late evenings after the family has retired. Headphones are deployed, a small tumbler of liqueur is acquired, and those mesmerising analogue synthesisers start to weave their magic…
As I sit, and synth, and sip, I wonder. Would anyone other than a passionate Tangerine Dream fan spring for this lavish package?
Probably not, but they could. If you’ve heard enough 70s electronic music to know you like it’s spacey, often beat-less meanderings, then this would be a brilliant place to start. In one box you would have a cornerstone of German electronic music and some of the most beguiling dreamscapes ever committed to tape. And a beautifully produced book with some new material and fascinating clippings from the time. You might never need to buy more.
Except perhaps for some Klaus Schulze… or Robert Schroeder… or Ulrich Schnauss…
The night before last I was driving home—three lane highway, by myself—very late at night, listening to Phaedra… it was one of the great moments, really, of motoring. Driving along with the white lines going past on either side, the sound of the wheels on the road and the wind and Phaedra. A dangerous combination and a very exciting one. If you have a car and you do any driving I would recommend trying it. (John Peel introducing Tangerine Dream at the Rainbow, London, 24th October 1974)