Bear Family Gene Vincent Box Set

March 20, 2005
           Question: What do you get the Gene Vincent fan who's got everything?
           Answer: Everything again, but packaged all together and in the best sound quality ever heard.
           When I was first told that this box set was in the pipeline, and was told it would consist of all Gene's studio recordings (1956 - 1971) I wondered whether I really needed it. A lifetime of collecting Vincent certainly hasn't left me short of anything and the promise of a dozen unreleased stereo versions (from the Crazy Times sessions) still left me questioning my sanity when I placed the order. Not anymore. This set is brilliant ...
           Unlike the previously released box set from EMI which covered the Capitol/Columbia period, this set gives you the lot, in chronological order, from Cliff Gallup's first searing guitar break on Race With The Devil through to January 30th, 1971 and the last session with The Houseshakers.
           Sound quality and packaging are exactly what you'd expect from Bear Family. I did comparison between the two box sets (I Got A Baby) and the difference is noticeable. From the later periods, and the Crazy Times sessions leap out of the speakers in crystal clear sound, as do the 1966 Challenge sessions and beyond. Quite simply, this set makes everything else redundant.
           Unlike the previous box set, this one doesn't feature any 'out-takes' and the only demo's are those which featured on the Dragon Street 'Lost Dallas Sessions' CD. I'm not sure why these featured, when other "studio" recordings were omitted, most notably the five tracks recorded by Ronny Weiser in August 1971. To be fair though, that's the only omission and a small gripe.
           Included with the set there's a 12" hardback book by Ian Wallis, which includes a complete discogrophy (courtesy of Derek Henderson), a "technical appreciation of Gene Vincent's recordings" by Deke Dickerson, and is packed with photo's spanning Gene's career. Vincent completists will perhaps complain that there's "nothing new", I would counter that by saying that the vast majority of people who get this set won't be completists and what they get will be a exactly what they want. I have only skipped through Ian Wallis' biogrophy, but haven't heard of any factual errors (ahh, just found one: Wallis repeats the myth about the Nashville 'A' Team being sent packing at the first Bradley's session). I've read the Deke Dickerson section, and that's very good.
           Final word goes to CD Universe in the States who I ordered this from in December, who honoured the original price ($147 including shipping) and who kept me advised by e-mail on the order progress. They sent an e-mail on Monday saying it had been shipped and on Thursday it arrived via FedEx. I'll definitely order from them again.
Kevin -

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