Yes, this punk classic is 40 years old and to celebrate this milestone, this version appears with yet another new mix and let's face it they have been arguing over the mixes and the running order since about day 2 of the recording process.
So for long-time fans like myself who already own several versions and who quite by accident started out by owning what is still considered the definitive mix by most fans (the original cassette mix) getting another version is always about what it adds compared to the other versions you already own.
Well, this time it comes it comes with a 20 page booklet and unless you buy the 4CD version is pretty much a re-mix of the lost 77 mixes album with a different running order to the first version of this version of the album that I bought.
You can also get the 4CD box set, which again has as many versions of the songs as you could wish for. It's still one of the finest of the punk albums to come out in '77, which if you don't already own at least three versions of it is a must have. Indeed, if you already have multiple versions this might be one too far, perhaps?
This version opens with Chinese Rocks and from the get-go it's clear it's been mixed for the digital 5.1 age. It has a quite wide screen sound but the bass is almost totally missing from the mix unless you turn your bass up to full blast at which point everything is cool and you can go cop some Chinese Rocks and put everything you own in the pawn shop for your next fix.
I Wanna Be Loved is the sing-along it's always been and then Pirate Love hits you where it should- right between the ears and the guitar solo in the middle sounds just scintillating, all 20 seconds of it.
Having read the Jerry Nolan biography, Stranded In The Jungle by Curt Weiss on Backbeat Books to coincide with the anniversary I have to say we know Jerry was never happy with the mixes and even quit the band over the original muddy as can be mix. If he was still around to hear this mix of Get Off The Phone he might have liked Johnny's guitar sound but would wonder why his cymbals were higher in the mix in places than the rest of his kit.
I Love You is still the perfect pop-punk lust song it ever was and a song that really should have been a massive hit. I like the way they have put the two guitars on opposite sides of the mix, it also leaves you wondering (as do so many tracks) which of the myriad takes and mixes were used. Is it the first or the 41st version?
One Track Mind manages in places to have the cymbals playing louder than the vocals which is a bit different but damn, that guitar solo in the middle is as magnificent as always and with the bass turned up to 10 - it almost has the impact it should have at last. Baby Talk is the speed freak whirlwind it ever was even if the bands main drug was of course Heroin and as the Jerry Nolan book makes clear Methadone and spliff and the odd bit of cocaine were in the mix, but very little alcohol.
Can't Keep My Eyes On you has (and always will) a near perfect pop punk pick-up or is it kiss off song? This mix doesn't have the strongest vocal take on it but the guitars are damn near perfect but then I'm nitpicking. A new version of a favourite album, for a listener who hasn't heard this album well over a 100 times may well just be knocked out by it.
Going Steady still sounds pretty muddy and magnificent with it and it sounds closest to the original vinyl mix that so many people hated first time round. Do You Love Me is just a classic floor-filling sing-along with a lot of emphasis on Jerry's cymbals rather than Walter or Johnny's guitars.
Let Go is as snotty as ever - perfect to pogo to. It's Not Enough would be what Billy Rath would be saying about the bass as it's almost non-existent even with my bass up full on 10. Everything else sounds great and the electric guitar soloing against the acoustic guitar still sounds magical.
All By Myself is, as ever, one of the band's many calling cards and an indication of how they felt while smacked out and hanging out. Born To Lose is still in many ways the band's theme song and just the trail of misfortune that followed them around and the misfortune they created due to their legendary drug intake always adds a few layers to this song's lyrics and the guitar solo at the end that runs through the fade out is wondrous of course.
If you don't already own a version or three of this masterpiece, go get one now from: Jungle Records online