The company “7T's Records”, a department of the British “Cherry Red Records”, has reissued on CD eight albums of the original Smokie line-up recorded on “RAK Records” – from the debut “Pass It Around”(1975) to “Strangers in Paradise”(1982). It's rather momentous event, speaking of which one can repeatedly use the words “for the first time”. So, for the first time these classical albums of Smokie are issued on CD in Britain; for the first time the lyrics of many songs is published; for the first time several songs which before that were available on vinyl singles only are released on CD; for the first time pictures of the most of vinyl singles sleeves are printed. Finally, probably for the first time connoisseurs of that band can take pleasure from such a magnificent edition which claims to be a “nearly complete set of works” or, as we call it, “the equipment” ;-).
All the tracks were completely re-mastered in the studio of Tim Turan. And it should be said that the sound really has become just amazing. It's crystal pure and one can clearly hear every instrument's part, every vocal lines and all the arrangement's nuances. This is especially noticeable on the first two albums, maybe because the sound there was recorded somehow in a different way than on the following records (another “sound produce” as they say nowadays), or maybe because the arrangements were not yet so “electric”. For instance, the album “Pass It Around” has become simply a revelation to me, though really it would seem known so well... As if someone has taken it from the shelf, cautiously dusted, renewed and scoured, and it began to shine with new colours in its splendour! It seems like you hear many details and traits for the first time, especially on the songs written by the musicians, and it's a great feeling – to enjoy the things which you would think you know to the last note, to discover something anew. While listening to that record I think it was obviously underestimated in its time. Have a listen to it by all means! Surely, it is desirable that you do it on a good acoustical equipment or better in a good headphones. Then you just can't but admire every sound, every note, every vocal cue. What an awfully “tasty”, simply virtuosic and enchanting bass of Terry Uttley! Exact and accurate drums of Pete Spencer! Staggering and clever solos from Alan Silson! Clear guitar rhythm of Chris Norman! Not to say a word about the vocal parts because it's already a well-known fact. On the following albums the sound will somewhat change, become “thicker”, but here – it's just yet the “pure”, “pureblooded” Smokie, or rather even Smokey. ;-)
Special item is the CD booklets. By the way, at first the picture sleeves can seem to be done carelessly, like on pirate editions, but that's deceptive impression. The point is that for this edition not the retouched pictures from the previous CD releases were used, e.g. from BMG, but the original vinyl LPs artworks. This is a controversial but praiseworthy decision. The booklets themselves contain songs lyrics (except bonus tracks), loads of scanned pictures of the world singles sleeves and annotations by Phil Hendriks which were specially written for this release and which are definitely a non-banal and rather informative reading. Special high respect to the author.
Speaking about the shortcomings, I can only mention the absence of the authors indication in the lyrics and the lack of the bonus tracks lyrics.
All in all, I'd like to express a huge appreciation to the “7T's Records” company and everybody who have worked over this edition! We've waited for it for a long time. I would definitely recommend it to all the fans of Smokie and Chris Norman.