Ultimate Collection (Audio CD),13 February, 2006|
List price $18.49
All The Freddie You're Ever Going to Need / 5
This British 2-CD set is an outstanding value,with 62 songs,roughly half of which have never appeared on CD before.Unlike the U.S.A.1-CD "The Best of:The Definitive Collection",which consisted of 1990's stereo remixes(good in their own way,and more Hifi,but quite different in texture to the original 1960's mixes),this set is entirely original 1960's mixes.Disc One contains the A & B sides of all of the group's original EMI/UK singles.28 of these 32 selections are presented in mono sound.Disc two contains a further 30 selections;highlights from the group's albums,the U.S.A.-only hit "Do The Freddie",and most of the UK E.P. tracks.Disc Two is one-third stereo/two-thirds mono.Along the way on disc two are several tracks where Freddie lets bassist Pete Birrell & rhythm guitarist Roy Crewsdon sing.Some of the selections on Disc Two show the group trying the more American soul/R&B staples that were covered by any other Northern England groups("Some Other Guy","Money","Johnny B.Goode" etc.),and they're decent attempts,but the group's strength was in more pop oriented tracks featuring vocal harmonies(often Freddie harmonizing with himself via overdub).The proficiency of the instrumental tracks is all over the place,from primitive garage-band quality to technically proficient(Translation:as with Herman's Hermits,the record producer signed the group,but mainly to get the singer.The other group members were a touring band who were quite often,and obviously replaced by session musicians in the studio.At the very least,one-third of these backing tracks were entirely played by sessionmen,and many of the others are partly played by sessionmen,such as session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan).My only complaint about his set,is that the liner notes persist in repeating many of the factual inaccuracies that were debunked by Freddie himself in notes for EMI/North America's 1990's CD.The Dreamers NEVER played in Hamburg in the early 1960's,and Freddie understated his age in the 1960's(he was born in 1936,not 1940,and will be 70 years old this fall).Sadly,the liner notes for this 2-CD set inform us that drummer Bernie Dwyer died from cancer in 2002 at age 62,and that bassist Pete Birrell died from undisclosed causes in 2004 at age 63.Sadly,Freddie had to retire in the late 1990's,due to a Pulmonary disease which now confines him to a wheelchair.Hopefully,he'll get some royalties from this 2-CD set,a bargain-priced,extensive anthology of his EMI years.I hope that EMI follows up with more similar 2-CD sets on some of the label's other 1960's beat groups.This is the best Freddie & The Dreamers compilation on he market.Most of the tracks will be new to American fans,since they only had 3 or 4 hits here.