Tangerine Dream as coinciding with their Virgin years, which this collection rounds up nicely, opening with two landmarks, Phaedra and Rubycon, then including the group's broadening of scope and direction with the live Ricochet, Stratosfear, and Cyclone. This was directly after the early avant-garde years, consisting of experimental, arrhythmic work like Atem and Electronic Meditation, and before the Hollywood years, when Edgar Froese and co. began composing work for movie scores like Risky Business. Phaedra and Rubycon have not dated at all since their early-‘70s recording, despite Froese, Peter Baumann, and Chris Franke’s early adoption of Moog technology, along with Mellotron and other electric or electronic instruments. Along with the full LPs in their most recent remastering, the collection also rounds up single edits and 7” versions when they were originally available.
Hunger for "new" Nick Drake material had reached enough of a fever pitch by the 21st century for Island to try digging up enough for this odd patchwork collection, combining outtakes with remixes of tracks that had been previously issued on the Time of No Reply album. The result is a curious disc that's not quite an anthology of wholly previously unreleased material, and thus of somewhat limited value to Drake collectors, though it contains much good music. The only song here previously unavailable in any form is the 1974 outtake "Tow the Line," a melancholic solo acoustic performance (as are most of the tracks on the CD) that's well up to the standards of Pink Moon and the 1974 tracks that previously surfaced on Time of No Reply. Also new to official release are spring 1968 solo acoustic versions of "River Man" (later to appear on Five Leaves Left with orchestration) and "Mayfair" (a later recording of which was used on Time of No Reply), as well as a March 1969 version of "Three Hours" that's longer than the one later cut for Five Leaves Left. There's also a newly discovered take of "Hanging on a Star" (one of the 1974 outtakes used on Time of No Reply) with a different vocal. The differences between these and the familiar studio renditions aren't knock-your-socks-off different, but certainly good and well worth hearing by Drake cultists.
It's the rest of the material that might be the
target of criticism from concerned consumers, whether for posthumous
tampering or redundancy with previously available albums. Most
controversially, two tracks from Time of No Reply
-- "Time of No Reply" itself and "I Was Made to Love Magic" (the latter
here, for some reason, retitled simply "Magic") -- have been altered to
include Robert Kirby's
original orchestral arrangements, recorded in 2003. Actually in both
instances, the substituted orchestration is integrated very tastefully,
but it can never be answered whether Drake
himself would have approved or had it done the exact same way. The
remaining cuts are simply remixes or remasterings of six songs that
appeared on Time of No Reply,
the remixes of the 1974 songs "Black Eyed Dog," "Rider on the Wheel,"
and "Voices" (originally titled "Voice from the Mountain" when it first
appeared on Time of No Reply) being done by the original recording engineer, John Wood.
Though those remixes of the 1974 tracks in particular are an
improvement (the songs on the original release had been mixed onto a
mono listening tape), again it's not the sort of thing that will
generate revelations unless you're an audiophile. As everything Drake
recorded was worth hearing, this CD too is quite worthy judged in
isolation, and certainly full of the subdued mystery the
singer/songwriter brought to his music. It's just not the gold mine of
discoveries for which some might have hoped.