The initial idea for Tomb of Memories: The CBS Years 1982-1994 came in 2013. I had compiled a two-CD set called Remixes and Rarities for the Cherry Pop label and in June of that year Paul Young was dropping in to BBC Broadcasting house in London to do some pre-release promotion.
I had arranged to meet Paul there to get a few copies of the set signed (to give away to SDE readers) and over lunch we got chatting about his second album The Secret of Association. He told me about a song called Find One Voice which had been recorded and mixed for the album but removed at the last minute, since CBS’s Muff Winwood didn’t think it worked for the long-player. Surprisingly, the song was never even selected as a B-side or extra track in that era, so it had remained unheard in the archive for almost 30 years. Later, I got in touch with Paul’s old producer Laurie Latham who I had interviewed for Remixes and Rarities to see if he had a copy of the song that I could listen to. Unfortunately, all he had was an old acetate that was in terrible condition (Paul had told me he just had it on a tape in his car!).
So this got me thinking, what else is in the archive that we don’t know about? I waited six months or so before contacting Sony, because I wanted to see how the Remixes and Rarities compilation would sell for Cherry Red, before pitching the idea of doing a Paul Young project to the major label. It turned out to be a bestseller which stoked my confidence in terms of doing something further.
So it was February of 2014 when I put the idea of doing something to Sony. They were interested enough to let me have a look at the archive listing which catalogued every single piece of audio that Paul had recorded during his long career with the label. What I discovered, was that not only was Find One Voice in the archive but so too was what looked like an early sequencing of the The Secret of Association album. Find One Voice was the first track and there was no sign of either Bite The Hand That Feeds or future US number one, Every Time You Go Away! Also, many familiar tracks, such as Tomb of Memories and Everything Must Change, were different mixes and had different running times to what was eventually released on the album (some of these have ended up on the new set).
The Secret of Association early track listing:
- Find One Voice
- I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
- Tomb of Memories
- Standing on The Edge
- I Was In Chains
- Hot Fun
- Soldiers Things
- One Step Forward
- This Means Anything
- Everything Must Change
The original idea was to create new deluxe of The Secret of Association that had the album – as released – and B-sides and single remixes on disc one, the unreleased version of the album plus selected demos from the archive as disc two and then extended mixes on disc three. Sony liked this, but countered with something more exciting; creating a four CD ‘bookset’ that spanned Paul’s entire career and took in rarities and unreleased material. Let’s do it!
The first task was to compile at list of everything to transfer from the original tapes to digital, for listening/reviewing purposes. I spent quite a few weeks going through the archive reports with a fine tooth comb and highlighting anything that looked promising and I came back with a LONG list. This is where the commercial realities of a project like this kick in. The cost of transferring everything was deemed too expensive and I was asked to prioritise. This was probably the hardest part of the project. Tapes that almost certainly had something of interest on them were put in an ‘A-list’, while others which perhaps had vague or ambiguous labelling – but still might have contained gems – were in the B and C lists. There was also a lot of unreleased live material in the C-list. I had a suspicion that we’d only transfer what was in the A-list and so it turned out. Anything unreleased on the four-CD set would come from these transfers.
It was early June 2014 when I first got to listen to the digital transfers. It’s an exciting prospect listening to recordings from any archive, but if you think everything is going to be an amazing, exciting alternate version of a well known track then you need to manage your expectations. What you find are lots of ‘edit sections’ of tracks, lots of tapes that have many ‘takes’ of a mix (rather than a recording), many of which stop or break down for some reason, ‘TV Mixes’ created for appearances on telly and multiple versions of songs with minute variations – track titles with the suffixes like “voxup”, “bassup”, “morehammond”. They all sound close to identical decades on, but at the time there was probably lots of pressure to get things sounding ‘right’.
It’s easy to panic at this stage…”there’s nothing usable. Argh!” but then you find the gem. The first “wow, this is amazing” moment was coming across the demo for No Parlez album track Tender Trap. A well recorded and fully fleshed sketch that has some elements not featured in the finished studio version, including a great flute solo. I have no idea why this wasn’t on the 2008 anniversary edition of Paul’s debut, but that release’s loss was my gain! I finally got to hear Find One Voice and thought it was quirky but fantastic. To me it’s more No Parlez than Secret of Association and perhaps that is why it was considered a bad ‘fit’. In fact, there were a few variations of that track, the 4.10 ‘master’ version that has made it on to The CBS Years.. and a 5.22 ‘rough mix’ which features the familiar backing vocals of George Chandler, Jimmy Chambers and Jimmy Helms. Anyway, work continued, analysing what we had and it took me about month to come back to Sony with a proposed full track listing.
We had already decided that four CDs would work quite well. A disc apiece for the two ‘big’ albums and, roughly speaking, half a disc each for the remaining three albums and tracks related to the From Time To Time hits collection. I had also made the tough decision to try and only feature each song once (with the odd exception of live performance). This was supposed to be a listenable journey through Paul’s career with a focus on rarities, rather than a depository for dumping anything and everything with no thought for ‘playability’.
Looking back on my very original track listing for The CBS Years compilation, disc one of the new set is exactly as proposed, and so went unchanged in the development process. Disc two originally had an unreleased alternate seven-inch mix of Every Time You Go Away, but to be frank, it wasn’t that great (or that different) and I felt it wasn’t doing Paul’s smash hit single justice. Although I had really wanted to avoid 12-inch mixes (which were now all available on Remixes and Rarities anyway) I thought switching to the Extended Version of Every Time You Go Away was the right move since it’s still relatively rare in that form on CD and the remix takes the classic ‘80s approach and simply extends the song without ruining it.
It was around August last year that Sony officially confirmed that they would be going ahead with this project and they contacted Paul Young (who up until that point was unaware that this work was going on) to see if he was interested in getting involved and supporting the release. He said he was (great news) and I duly created a set of CDs for him to listen to. Paul was really happy to see Find One Voice on this set and suggested two further tracks hidden in the archive that could be added. Coralie dated from the Other Voices sessions and so was added to the end of disc three. Because a master tape of the finished mix couldn’t be found, that track had to be newly mixed from the multi-track. Paul had an old cassette of it which he used for reference to ensure the mix was as it should be. Souls Unknown, an outtake from The Crossing, would be the third ‘new’ song on this archive set.
Disc four had the most changes between my original track listing and the finished product, although they were still relatively few. PY suggested we go with an unreleased ‘solo’ version of his Crowded House cover Don’t Dream It’s Over (which I didn’t even know existed) and he also asked us to drop the song Need Somebody (originally an extra track on one of the CD Singles of Don’t Dream It’s Over) which he described as a “failed attempt to introduce talking on a track”. We also discovered that when Paul recorded those acoustic sessions for the It Will Be You CD singles one track, Love Has No Pride, was not released at the time, so that was added as well. Unfortunately Down In Chinatown, a great album track from The Crossing, got the chop around the time of these changes.
In May the original tapes were sourced and sent to Fluid Mastering for the remastering sessions, of which there were three. I could only attend the first because I was out of the country for the last two, which Paul attended. Fluid had done a great job with the Remixes and Rarities two-CD set so I was delighted that Sony had selected them for this project.
I cannot emphasis enough how easy it is for mistakes to happen at this stage in the process. The mastering studio is full of tapes which might have what you want and what you don’t want on the same tape. Tim Debney at Fluid played me back some of disc one and the first thing I spotted was that the normal album version of Iron Out The Rough Spots had been used for the opener, not the unreleased-on-CD seven-inch edit. This would have been spotted at a later stage via reference CDs (hopefully) but it underlined the value of being at the studio to listen to what’s going on. Because I wasn’t at the studio for the last two sessions I did have to review the rest of the contents via CDs. It was then that I noticed that the live Oh Women (originally on the exclusive Japanese LP The Live Edition) was six minutes, not the nine minutes it should have been.
I put a call into Tim at the studio who told me that while Paul had been there with him, he had decided that that live rendition simply goes on far too long and wanted to shorten it, which was easy because there was a convenient edit point. So instead of having the full Live Edition on CD for the first time we had almost the full Live Edition! I sent Paul Young an email and tried to convince him that we should keep as is but he was adamant that unless you’re at the gig it’s ‘boring’ to listen to a nine minute live track.
In the end it was an easy decision to stick with the edit because as it turned out there wasn’t enough room to include the extra three minutes without losing another track, so I’d got my maths wrong at some stage! Also, because the live Oh Women was on a UK B-side it had made it on to Remixes and Rarities, so a recently remastered version of it in its full nine-minute glory was easily available. Finally, Paul is the artist. He’s the reason this music exists and I have a huge amount of respect for him and wanted him to be happy with the finished product.
The final piece of the puzzle with this set was the presentation. Since I have a graphic design background, I had actually done all the design for Remixes and Rarities, scanning in transparencies and promo photos from the Sony archive. In the case of The CBS Years I was a bit more ‘hands off’ but wanted, at least, to offer some ideas for the cover. Post From Time to Time, there have been some rather uninspiring compilation covers, so was keen to make sure we did something decent for this set. I thought it was essential we used an early photograph on the front, which meant an image from the No Parlez or The Secret of Association years. In the end, I mocked up something using the Come Back and Stay single cover and deployed the Paul Young ‘crest’ which I had meticulously recreated for Remixes and Rarities. The final touch was getting the CBS logo on the front. The design agency Sony selected did a great job of taking that cover as inspiration and completing the rest of the project.
Tomb of Memories: The CBS Years 1982-1994 was released last Friday, around 18 months after I first got in touch with Sony to discuss doing a PY project. If you have this set, I’d really love to hear what you think about it, so please leave a comment and let me know.
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