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Doll By Doll - 2007 Rhino CD's

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Devotional, Sep 29, 2007.

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  1. Devotional

    Devotional Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oslo, Norway
    Rhino put out Doll By Doll's entire catalog (4 albums) earlier this year, and I decided to pick them up. I don't have my original vinyl to compare with, but this is the first time these titles have been available on CD, and here are my first impressions:

    Packaging: The packaging is superb. The original artwork is faithfully reproduced, along with a few nice shots from each era inside. The albums have 12-page booklets with extensive and very honest liner notes from Jackie Leven, that give a detailed and fascinating insight into a very dark band. Each album also has a well written essay by different people involved in the band. There is one minor error on the back cover of Grand Passion, which has the track number 2 (just the number - the track is right) written twice on the back, before continuing with 3, 4 etc. This means that "So Long Kid", which is track 12 is listed as track 11. Otherwise perfect.

    Sonics: The music is mastered by Giovanni Scatola at Metropolis, and he has generally done a great job. The music is given a really warm, dynamic and relaxed presentation, that suits the rather cold music very well, and makes for an involving listen that can be played loud without being fatiguing.

    REMEMBER (1979)
    1. Butcher Boy - [Peak level: 99,7 %]
    2. Chances - [Peak level: 99,7 %]
    3. Sleeping Partners - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    4. More Than Human - [Peak level: 99,7 %]
    5. Lose Myself - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    6. Janice - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    7. The Palace Of Love - [Peak level: 99,7 %]
    - Bonus track -
    8. The Fountain Is Red, The Fountain Is White - [Peak level: 99,3 %]

    Notes: Remember has a lot of tape noise. In the quiet passages (such as the intro to "More Than Human" and the middle of "Janice") it almost sounds like a deck playing a tape with some wear, which makes me almost certain that there's no NR here. The tape might not be in the best of conditions, but Giovanni got the best out of it, there are no drop-outs, and it sounds great. The guitars are spectacular on this album. Really soaring!

    Click here for a ZIP-file with 30 second WAV-clips of "Changes", "Sleeping Partners" and "The Palace Of Love".

    Gypsy Blood (1979)
    gypsy blood.jpg
    1. Teenage Lightning - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    2. Gypsy Blood - [Peak level: 99,5 %]
    3. Stripshow - [Peak level: 99,5 %]
    4. The Human Face - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    5. Hey Sweetheart - [Peak level: 99,5 %]
    6. Binary Fiction - [Peak level: 88,8 %]
    7. Hell Games - [Peak level: 88,7 %]
    8. Forbidden Worlds - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    9. Highland Rain - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    10. Endgame - [Peak level: 72,7 %]
    11. When A Man Dies - [Peak level: 64,5 %]
    - Bonus track -
    12. One Two Blues (Live) - [Peak level: 99,6 %]

    Notes: Gypsy Blood has a massive bottom end, and really natural sounding drums. The snare is just amazing. The tape is obviously in great shape. The tape noise is minimal, but there's hiss present where you want it to be (the intro to "Human Face). Great sound overall, and the top end is smooth. Jackies voice sounds just superb throughout. The best sounding of the bunch.

    Click here for a ZIP-file with 30 second WAV-clips of "Stripshow", "The Human Face" and "Endgame".

    Doll By Doll (1981)
    doll by doll.jpg
    1. Figure It Out - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    2. Caritas - [Peak level: 98,5 %]
    3. Soon New Life - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    4. Main Travelled Roads - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    5. Those In Peril - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    6. I Never Saw The Movie - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    7. The Perfect Romance - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    8. Fantastic Sensation - [Peak level: 99,7 %]
    9. The Street I Love - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    10. Be My Friend - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    11. Up - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    12. A Bright Green Field - [Peak level: 88,9 %]
    - Bonus track -
    13. Murder On The Highway - [Peak level: 99,7 %]

    Notes: Doll By Doll has some really high frequent hiss throughout that's instantly noticable, but again - no NR. This is a tricky recording to master, as the band seemed to go for a more woolly and dull bottom end (particularly the drums), and this is how I remember the original Magnet LP, but Giovanni has done a very impressive job with the top end. There's plenty of headroom and atmosphere, and so much detail! Listen to the intro to "Main Travelled Roads", and you can hear Jackie silently drawing his breath. Although I much prefer the drum and bass sound on Gypsy Blood, I'd rather have this slightly boomy bottom than tin cans.

    Click here for a ZIP-file with 30 second WAV-clips of "Figure It Out", "Main Travelled Roads" and "The Perfect Romance".

    Grand Passion (1982)
    grand passion.jpg
    1. Strong Hands - [Peak level: 99,7 %]
    2. Under My Thumb - [Peak level: 99,7 %]
    3. Dancing Shoes - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    4. Cool Skies - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    5. Eternal - [Peak level: 88,7 %]
    6. Lonely Kind Of Show - [Peak level: 93,3 %]
    7. Natural - [Peak level: 88,8 %]
    8. Grand Passion - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    9. City Of Light - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    10. Dawn Of The Rain Girls - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    11. Boxers Hit Harder When Women Are Around - [Peak level: 99,6 %]
    11. So Long Kid - [Peak level: 80,9 %]

    Notes: Grand Passion is most of all incredibly clean. Little to no tape hiss noticable, but a surprisingly big soundscape. This is a different line-up, and a different sound. I wouldn't call this recording lifeless at all, but it's a more contemporary sounding record, and has some of the early 80's aesthetics, which means a very punctual bottom, a slightly sucked in mid, and a "clear as a bell - and then some more" top. But there's plenty of dynamics, and you can still turn this up loud without hurting your ears.

    Click here for a ZIP-file with 30 second WAV-clips of "Cool Skies", "Dawn Of The Rain Girls" and "So Long Kid".

    Bonus tracks: The first three albums come with 1 bonus track each. They are:

    1. "The Fountain Is Red, The Fountain Is White" - B-side of "The Palace Of Love". An above average mid-tempo song with some great singing (as always) from Jackie.
    2. "One Two Blues" (Live) - B-side of "Teenage Lightning", and really distracting. Following a great album, this is a twelve bar soundcheck with the band going "One Two - One Two - One Two", while noodling away on the guitars for nine minutes, ending in a Bonzo drum solo. Funny for about twenty seconds. Still in stark contrast to the rest of the band's dead serious material.
    3. "Murder On The Highway" - B-side of "Caritas" - An up-tempo song along the lines of "Caritas". Not all that immediate, but OK.

    Conclusion: All in all, I have to applaud Rhino for a wonderful job. Doll By Doll-fans couldn't have asked for a better treatment. Apart from one song ("An Honest Woman (Live)", which is on the Dutch 12" of "Caritas", this is the band's entire output in excellent sound. Everything you need is housed inside these jewel cases. Highly recommended!
  2. Devotional

    Devotional Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oslo, Norway
    Below are a couple of waveforms. I don't have Adobe Audition on my laptop, so they're from Nero WaveEditor, but should give you an idea of how dynamic these CD's are. Peak levels are in my post above.



    "Hey Sweetheart":

    hey sweetheart.jpg

    "Main Travelled Roads":

    main travelled roads.jpg

    "Dancing Shoes":

    dancing shoes.jpg
  3. evanft

    evanft Forum Resident

    Taylor, MI, USA
    Wow, those look good. What kind of band were they?
  4. Devotional

    Devotional Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oslo, Norway
    Pure passion! Doll By Doll were one of those bands who never fitted into any category, because they were so unique and original that there was no way anybody were going to define them without writing an essay. That sounds like a complicated farce, but they're a musical universe of their own, and I can't think of one band that sound even remotely like them.

    Here's a few pages of interest:

    "Doll By Doll: Night Of The Psychotic Woodsmen" - A very good overview of their history by Kris Needs
    "British Rock's Lost Masterpiece" - A great review of Gypsy Blood from Telegraph.co.uk
    "Overlooked And Underplayed" - A passionate review of Doll By Doll by Chris Bell
    Doll By Doll on MySpace with 4 full streaming songs
    Jackie Leven's official page with biography etc.
  5. jstraw

    jstraw Forum Resident

    Not to engage in hyperbole but I think "Remember" might be the best rock album ever made. :winkgrin:

    I adore it. Have since it came out. I have two different pressings and I too bought the Rhino CDs.

    "Gypsy Blood" is very, very good. Conventional wisdom is that it's the best of the lot but I just don't get that.

    The other two have moments and the writing is good but the production went all contemporary and well...

    Jackie Leven's personal story is fascinating.
  6. Devotional

    Devotional Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oslo, Norway
    Hear, hear! I'm so glad to see Doll By Doll-fans on here. Love your avatar.

    Just came back from seeing Jackie Leven here in Oslo (just him and a guitar), and it was amazing. An hour and a half of pure magic. Don't pass up a chance to see him. The man is a captivating storyteller, a brilliant guitarist, and his voice is as beautiful as ever! He mentioned during the gig that Warner finally had re-released the albums, and I held mine up. Jackie saw me, and said "This man's got 'em", and at that very moment one of the CD's (Doll By Doll) fell from my hands, and down on the floor - very audibly breaking the case. "Yeah, keep 'em on the floor where they belong", he joked. :p

    He closed the set with "Main Travelled Roads". I got to speak to him afterwards, and he signed my albums. Jackie is the most humble and sympathetic man imaginable, and still he has a presence of dignity that just lights up the room. Undoubtly one of the greatest singer/songwriters ever.
  7. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City!

    Fonthill, Ontario
    How is it I've heard of this band?
  8. jstraw

    jstraw Forum Resident

    Heard of or not heard of? This board is the first place I've ever come across people that HAVE. It's no surprise if you haven't.

    I bought the Rhino CD's from Amazon for peanuts...like 8-9 bucks a pop. If you buy "Remember" and don't like it, I'll buy it from you and give it away.
  9. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    Boy, talk about a group I didn't expect to find the subject of a US reissue campaign. I mean, only one of their albums (Doll By Doll) even got a US issue originally (on MCA, who at that point truly desered the Music Cemetary of America moniker), and if that one sold a thousand copies here I'd be shocked.

    I have the MCA album and the Remember album on vinyl. I haven't listened to either in at least 25 years...Maybe I'll have to try and dig them out.

    Note that one of those links provided above states that some of these CD reissues were mastered from vinyl (tapes lost, apparently).

  10. Dennis Metz

    Dennis Metz Born In A Motor City!

    Fonthill, Ontario
    I'll give it a listen.
  11. taylora98

    taylora98 Forum Resident

    I remember Doll By Doll from 1979/1980. It was difficult to even find their vinyl albums when originally released: I had to make a trip to the Rough Trade shop in Notting Hill to find the Gypsy Blood lp.

    I saw them live, in 1980 I think it was, in a gym in London. They inspired a pretty extreme reaction in one member of the audience who climed onto the stage and fronted up Leven. A staring contest ensued and then Leven sort of "chested" the guy from the stage.

    A wild night.

    Remember and Gypsy Blood still sound great. Third album not as good and the fourth is a bit of a disappointment.
  12. Devotional

    Devotional Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oslo, Norway
    That one is actually review of a bootleg (needledrop). The review is from a few years ago. The new CD's are all from good tapes.

    Amazon.com has them for $3.66 (Gypsy Blood), $3.67 (Remember and Doll By Doll) and $4.97 (Grand Passion). :righton:
  13. jstraw

    jstraw Forum Resident

    I'm pissed! I paid almost TWICE that!:wave:

    Seriously, what's with new releases being priced so cheap? I like it but wow...weird.
  14. Lownotes

    Lownotes Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    How is it I've never heard of this band?
  15. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA

    Hmmm...I was gonna look for my vinyl copies. But at these prices, I'm just gonna buy all the CD issues (well, except for the last album which is pretty much universally despised). I am shocked by those prices. I am guessing they sold zilch and Rhino is clearancing them?

    I wish there was a way to search Amazon for other deals like this!

    Update: Aw heck...I just went back and ordered Grand Passion as well. The completist in me won out.

  16. Devotional

    Devotional Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oslo, Norway
    It's been a while, and I'd just like to know if any of you've done a comparison to vinyl yet. :wave:
  17. jstraw

    jstraw Forum Resident

    I only have "Remember" on vinyl. I have two different pressings. I can do a comparison of all three pieces.
  18. Devotional

    Devotional Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oslo, Norway
    That would be great! Wish I still had mine, but I've immensely enjoyed these CDs. Caught Jackie live for a second time here in Oslo, and had a small chat again. I asked him if he could be reached through his record company, because I had so much I wanted to write to him about, and he kindly gave me his e-mail address. He thanked me, and asked me to stay in touch.

    So if you have any questions for Jackie, I'll gladly pass them on.

    I must add (fwiw) that while I ran to the bar to borrow a pen, Jackie was talking to my sister, and he pointed at me and said "He's a good man". :angel:
  19. Dan Halen

    Dan Halen Active Member

    New York
    On a whim, I picked up the first 3 CDs at Virgin, as they had them all for $10. What a shame these had never been released on CD before, as they were such a unique band. I love "Caritas", from the self-titled record. That should've been one of the big dance hits of '81. It almost sounds like Quicksilver Messenger Service doing disco.

    And "Palace Of Love", from their debut, is stunning. It's like a psychedelic punk rave-up. This must've been an amazing song to see live.
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