Remasters – The Only Ones
First published March 2009
The Only Ones / Even Serpents Shine / Baby’s Got A Gun (All Sony)
Finally Sony have re-released remastered versions of the first three Only Ones LPs on CD and yes, it was worth the wait. So ditch all previous versions – these are the keepers. The re-mastering by Alan Mair and Ray Staff allows these glorious songs to emerge in their full glory (and exposes a couple of clinkers to the cold light of day). The first two records can be seem as a continuum – songs pre-written before going into the studio, tight arrangements, nominally produced by the band themselves (actually by Alan and Peter Perrett). The bonus tracks here scoop up the band-released first single Lovers of Today/Peter And The Pets and some high-quality B-sides such as As My Wife Says and This Ain’t All…. Much changed with LP Number 3, Baby’s Got A Gun. Accepting the need for an external producer the band pushed for Martin Hannett but ended up with Colin Thurston, Sony’s choice on the basis of his work with Duran Duran. A version of ‘The Big Sleep’ was recorded with Hannett and is appended to this CD so we can judge for ourselves and it’s no contest: Hannett would have made the better record with more attack and John Perry’s guitar more to the fore. However by this time both Hannett and at least half the band were in a state of disarray so Thurston was undoubtedly the safer choice. And any producer would have struggled with unconvincing material such as Re-Union and Castle Made Of Sand. Despite this the CD is still essential, if only for The Big Sleep and Why Don’t You Kill Yourself plus the lead-off single Trouble In the World, currently a highlight in the re-invigorated bands live set a mere 29 years on. Plus the CD actually features the title track, inexplicably left off the original release. Presentation on the three CDs is superb – great vintage photos and articles and sleeve notes by Rod Liddle (yes, that Rod Liddle) who brackets the band with Big Star as the ultimate should-have-beens. Recent live performances by the Only Ones have showcased some impressive new Peter Perrett songs which means these three CDs are work-in-progress rather an obituary. Buy buy buy.