- Audio CD (Dec 1 1999)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Original recording remastered
- Label: Island - Universal Special Imports
- ASIN: B00002MHRW
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette | LP Record
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,401 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Mr. Fantasy (Remastered/Bonus Tracks) Original recording remastered
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24 bit remastered reissue of the 1967 debut by this legendary British psych/ prog rock group that featured Steve Winwood, Dave Mason & Jim Capaldi as members. As a bonus, it includes all 12 tracks from the original U.S. mono album, 'Paper Sun', 'Dealer', 'Coloured Rain', 'Hole In My Shoe', 'No Face, No Name, No Number', 'Heaven Is In Your Mind', 'House For Everyone', 'Berkshire Poppies', 'Giving To You', 'Smiling Phases', 'Dear Mr. Fantasy' and 'We're A Fade You Missed This'. 22 tracks total. Also features the original cover art. 1999 release.
In 1967, when still-teenaged keyboardist Steve Winwood left the Spencer Davis Group (for whom he'd sung lead on hits like "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "I'm a Man") to start a new band with guitarist Dave Mason, few observers thought their idea of blending pop, rock, and jazz would work. Immediately, though, Traffic scored giant hits with Winwood's east-meets-west "Paper Sun" and Mason's acid-jazzy "Hole in My Shoe". Between those songs, the smoking-guitar driven title track, the swinging instrumental "Giving to You" and the haunting ballad, "No Face, No Name, No Number", Traffic's debut established both players as elite members of the new guard of late 60s British rock. --Billy Altman
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"Mr. Fantasy" was their full-length debut, and (as it was 1967) their most psychedelic release. (Linda Eastman-McCartney once recounted the story of visiting the group at their Berkshire cottage and playing the Beatles' new "Sgt. Pepper" LP for them to hear, upon which Winwood & Co. were reportedly dismayed that the Beatles had already used many of their ideas for "Mr. Fantasy.") While the album has many similarities with "Sgt. Pepper" (vaudville brass, '60s silliness, not to mention drug influences), it is by no means an imitator of the Beatles' masterpiece. "Mr. Fantasy" is darker ("Dealer" and "No Face...") and more blues-oriented (especially the title track). If anything, it is a successful (though not demonic) version of what the Stones tried and failed to do with their laughable "Satanic Majesty's Request."
The obvious weakness of this album is the songwriting contributions of Dave Mason. While Mason would soon perfect his George Harrison-style British folk-rock, his work on "Mr. Fantasy" ("House for Everyone," "Utterly Simple," etc.) simply sounds like that of a [poor] Beatle-wannabe. In 1967, United Artists remedied this problem by replacing a few of his songs with Traffic's early non-LP singles for the American version of the album.
There were, therefore, orginally two different versions of "Mr. Fantasy" (as was the case with most early Beatle LPs). However, most recent CD reissues of the album include all the tracks from both versions (a quick tip: if "Paper Sun" is on the CD, you've got all the tracks) - so with some creative use of your CD programmer, you can listen to either version - or both.
And listen you should, because "Mr. Fantasy" is an underappreciated classic.
The Mr. Fantasy CD shares the same basic flaws as the original album. Bill Levenson opted to release both the mono UK original and stereo US original albums separately. His decision makes sense as both albums sound remarkable different after their "plastic" surgery. Heaven Is In Your Mind (the US version of Mr. Fantasy) is the stronger of the two. The running order evens out the tone of the original album. The inclusion of Paper Sun and Smiling Phases only improves the album as both songs were catchy material. They probably would have made the original album if they hadn't been released as singles.
The sound quality on both these albums is spectacular and a surprising improvement on the the UK CD (which combined both the stereo Mr. Fantasy and mono release for Heaven is in Your Mind). While that CD benefited from 24 bit sound, the use of Sonic Solutions No Noise process homogenized the album. The result was an album that sacrificed the original album's sound for a technological sheen. Reissue Producer Levenson wisely chose to have this remastered and resequenced.
So you do get more for less although in this case it's an improvement unless you're on a budget. Levenson has added the mono tracks from the film soundtrack Here We Go Round The Mulbury Bush and the mono single mixes for both Paper Sun and Smiling Phases. The two albums have minor differences for example some of the mono tracks run a bit longer and feature slightly different mixes from the stereo ones (similiar to the Beatles' catalog up to and including the White Album). In fact, Mr. Fantasy runs longer than Heaven even though it has one less song on it.
I'd recommend picking up both for hardcore Traffic fans and those not on a budget. The only complain I have is with the liner notes; they are still full of mistakes (some of them unintentionally hilarous). I'm surprised they weren't corrected from the UK notes. They are still pretty informative without resulting to overkill but it would have been nicer to have an explanation as to why the UK and US versions of this album ended up so remarkably different (aside from the fact that Dave Mason had left the band by the time this was released).
Levenson made the wise choice of splitting these distinctive albums up and adding the bonus tracks. Levenson has also done an outstanding job on the band's second album (Traffic). The UK edition had some important bonus tracks (kept for the US release although they are the US mono single mixes)but the producers saw fit to include the Mulberry Bush tracks as bonus selections. While that was a nice extra (especially since they weren't on the Mr. Fantasy UK CD)they were out of context (as they were recorded prior to the first album)and don't quite fit. Levenson and his staff have done a terrific job in a very difficult field.
I'd still recommend HIIYM over MF as it is the stronger of the two albums.
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The songs are a bit weird, which is what makes them appealing.Read more