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Chris Wood / Evening Blue box delayed

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A few of you may have noticed that the forthcoming Chris Wood box set, Evening Blue, has quietly slipped from a ‘summer’ 2016 release date, to late October of this year. We asked Neil Storey of Hidden Masters, who are producing the ambitious anthology, if he could give SDE readers an update as to what’s happening. Here’s what he had to say…

Hello everyone, 

All along, as you all know, we’d planned for our Chris Wood / Evening Blue set to be issued as close to his birthday (June 24th) as we possibly could. Unhappily and despite best endeavours, that’s not been the case because, sad to say, we’re still bogged down in a morass of more red tape than ever we’ve encountered before.

Because the unravelling of this Gordian Knot is in the hands of others and not anything over which we have any control whatsoever, it means we have to show a good deal more patience. Nevertheless, everything is ready as it can be in the background and set to roll… so… just as soon as the I dotting and T crossing is solved, Evening Blue will head straight to manufacturing at which point, finally, we can calculate an accurate release date and the countdown can begin.

Thanks to each and every one of you who has stuck with us on this and shown such remarkable patience. We’ll get there! Neil.

Our thanks go to Neil. You can read more about Evening Blue here, and place a pre-order for the box over at uDiscoverMusic.com.

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40 responses to Chris Wood / Evening Blue box delayed

  1. Simon F says:

    Yeah great, when do we get a Traffic box set?

    • Philip Cohen says:

      Only after Steve Winwood departs this world. The monetary feud between Winwood and Universal Music(present day owners of the Island Records catalog) will probably never be resolved to Winwood’s satisfaction.

  2. richie says:

    I and everyone who has ordered `Evening Blue` received an email from Neil last week. It`s out of his hands as he says and we just have to be patient. It will be a nice surprise when the box set is released.

    Simon F, I reckon even more patience is required before we get a Traffic box set.

  3. Joseph says:

    I’ll just ring up Stevie and we’ll iron this out in a jiffy…

  4. Eric M. says:

    Isn’t this the same company that has hinted at future Robert Palmer reissues? Did you get any comment on that? :-D

    • Neil Storey says:

      @ Eric – There’s been no ‘hinting’ about the Robert Palmer set… its a project we’ve been actively working on for some time now. We’ve not issued much by way of detail simply because there isn’t a great deal to say just yet. So long as all goes smoothly, I’d anticipate releases (yes, plural as there will be more than one set) happening from some time in 2018.

  5. Philip Cohen says:

    Add this to the list of classic rock archival projects that are not to be, including the 50th anniversary boxed set by The Who, the expanded 2-CD edition of “Small Faces-The Autumn Stone: and the Sierra label’s SACD of unreleased Gene Clark songs.

    • DaveM says:

      Philip, so is The Who box officially cancelled? Also, does anyone know what happened to the Pete Townshend remasters that were supposed to start in 2015 and continue into 2016? The only CD that appeared was the complilation Truancy which had dissapointing DR levels whcih don’t seem to improve on the SPV masters I have.

      • Philip Cohen says:

        The Who and Townshend simply said nothing. The Who’s 50th anniversary was in 2014 or 2015, anyhow. Roger Daltrey said that there is no point spending money to record new material due to unsatisfactory royalties paid to artists by music streaming companies. So this viewpoint may also extend to spending money on studio time for archival projects.

        • DaveM says:

          Philip, a real shame. I was hoping for a John Martyn Island Years style box with the remastered Who studio albums contained within, along with Live at Leeds and some extras. I had Phases (obvisously vinyl) back in the day (about 81 I think) and this was a beautiful box set.

          • Philip Cohen says:

            Yes, “Phases” was indeed a superb Who vinyl box. Super clean West German pressings, and priced very low(I got it for $85).

    • Richie says:

      Phillip have you ordered the Gene Clark SACD? I’ve ordered the S.E. Of this release and Sierra have kept me informed of the , admittedly slow progress. If you go over to the Steve Hoffman blog then search for Gene Clark you will find more info. Sometimes we have to be patient.

  6. Richie says:

    I don’t know about Robert Palmer but it was Neil Storey who was at the helm for the production of the excellent Jess Roden box set, so if he has anything to do with any Robert Palmer product you can be assured that it will be very good Eric M.

    • Neil Storey says:

      @Richie – see reply above. Thanks for kind words. Yes, we are working on a full scale Robert Palmer retrospective. And, as usual, we’ll only announce things when we’ve got something to say.

  7. colm47 says:

    I have mine on order and don’t mind waiting.

    Hidden Masters have updated throughout the process and let people know what’s happening.
    I would say to any critics to try and run a record label yourselves and see how you get on!

    • Neil Storey says:

      @Colm. Thanks for kind words – we’ve been pretty much taken aback by the support shown during what are fairly testing times with the Chris Wood / Evening Blue set. Everyone is being very patient and… really… that means a lot. Helps ease the stress a bit too!

      What’s going on in the background was completely unforeseen meaning we couldn’t plan accordingly. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, neither is it our hands to resolve meaning we have to wait for others to settle the outstanding issues before any further progress is possible.

      Just the way it goes sometimes.

      As to your other comment – I feel quite strongly that part of our responsibility with what we do is to try and de-mistify the process… so… if anyone does feel let down or is critical then… I’ll do my best to answer that criticism.

      Keeping people updated / offering detail where one can… is no hardship.

      • colm47 says:

        Hi Neil.

        Thanks for your reply and updates as ever.

        There are a lot of keyboard warriors out there these days!

        I have the Jess Roden box which is excellent so I’m pretty sure that when the Chris Wood box set does come out , it will be a great package as well.

        I only wish you would hurry up with The Distractions!!
        But as they said with their classic LP: Nobody’s Perfect!

  8. Scuttler says:

    Oh, man! Every time Neil Storey posts a little bit of news on here on the Robert Palmer project, it sounds better and better. Multiple releases now. 8^)

  9. Philip Cohen says:

    Maybe the best idea would be to release a much more modest Chris Wood package, one which would involve fewer permissions, specifically a newly remastered edition of the “Chris Wood-Vulcan” CD which the Esoteric label released a few years ago, but this time taken entirely from first generation sources(roughly 20% of the Esoteric CD was taken from copy tapes, because those tapes were the best that could be found at the time). No unreleased music = No clearance issues.
    If people really want a compilation of Chris Wood’s work as a sessionman (something akin to the “Duane Allman-Skydog” box or “Paul Kossoff-Blue Soul” 2-L.P. set), then simply post a discography of Wood’s session work, and we can assemble it ourselves from existing CD’s. Like Allman, much of Wood’s session work went uncredited on album sleeves.

    • Neil Storey says:

      An interesting but, if I may say so, a somewhat flawed concept, Philip.

      First, whoever we license music from involves permissions – be that a major label or an entity who controls the rights to a single track title. Those permissions take as long as they take.

      It doesn’t matter if the music has been released before or not. Every single piece of music contained within a HiddenMasters set has to be cleared by the rights holder(s) – and quite often a secondary clearance from the original artist themselves – before we can even think about putting the set to manufacturing let alone releasing it.

      Second, quite where you’ve sourced your information from regarding the Vulcan release is baffling. To begin with, that CD was not Chris’s long-planned solo album and, unfortunately, the compilers of that CD got some of the track titles wrong too.

      The two quarter inch reels which comprise Chris’s solo LP were within a bakers dozen reels which I found gathering dust and covered by cobwebs in a barn-like outbuilding in the West of England during April 2013. They’d lain there, undisturbed, for approx 35 years. It was only when we started to digitise everything which Steph (Chris’s sister) held did we realise there might be reels missing. The possible existence of the real album was confirmed by Terry Barham (the Island engineer who worked extensively with Chris) who told me they’d compiled an LP for people at Island in 1978. That was when we started searching. One frustrating dead end led to another before, eventually, I stumbled across them… as above. (April 9th between 1 and 2pm to be exact)

      The tapes which were used to compile the Vulcan CD were not, so far as I know, copy tapes. All that exists are a mix of quarter-inch and 2″ and 1″ multitrack. (I’m looking at ALL of Chris’s reels while typing this – they’re on a shelf in my office). The only other tapes which survive are cassettes which contain original recordings as much as they do some duplicates of music held on quarter inch. I wasn’t part of the process when the Vulcan CD was compiled so can only comment on how we’ve worked – in short, we’ve digitised everything found and have worked from that.

      Posting a list of Chris’s session work and… people can compile their own sets? Crikey… yes… but… how, I wonder, would you be able to access some of the music we’ve found and which has never been issued before?

      Lastly… please don’t forget, this whole project has been developed totally hand-in-glove with Steph. So, what we set out to do was to celebrate Chris’s (albeit fairly short) life within music… therefore, the music – which is as complete as we can make it – reflects that as much as the artwork within which Evening Blue comes does too.

      • Philip Cohen says:

        It is openly stated in the liner notes for the “Vulcan” CD, that not all of it is from original master tapes.

        • Neil Storey says:

          Philip, I am aware of what it says within the Vulcan liner notes.I’ve no interest in splitting hairs here but I trust you’ll allow me to make one or two factual corrections.

          There is (for example) no such title as Indian Monsoon – Don’t Do It. The track is called Don’t It. The only mention of Indian Monsoon is on a 7″ 1/4″ reel with the words Indian Monsoon in Chris’s father’s handwriting. That reel was (most likely) run off after Chris’s death. The original exists on a 1″ multitrack recorded at Pathway and later overdubbed at Ramport. And yes, there are mixes on 1/4″.

          There are at least six versions of Sullen Moon I can think of off the top of my head, the main session for that was recorded on July 20, 1977 but there were other sessions for that track in that December.

          Birth In A Day – again multiple versions: it was recorded at various points during the Summer of ’77 and also worked on that December.

          For clarity’s sake, I should add Sullen Moon was never any more than a work-in-progress demo and did not appear on the submitted album which was compiled on October 1st, 1978. We are including two versions on Evening Blue – the first recorded at The Fall Out Shelter with Tyrone Downie (it is not on the Vulcan CD), the second with a scratch band including Vinden Wylde recorded at Sinewave in April ’83 – one of the very last recordings Chris ever undertook.

  10. Philip Cohen says:

    Obviously, Esoteric’s “Vulcan” CD and your proposed version contain some of the same performances. But Esoteric’s CD is still in print and their “exclusive license for the world” is still in effect 8 years after that CD was issued. Is that the issue?

  11. Neil Storey says:

    Philip – actually no… the recordings / performances – call them what you will – are all different.

    We have not replicated any recording on the previously issued Vulcan CD since none of the recordings on Chris’s album (the reels dated Oct 1 1978) match any used on that CD.

    Secondly, any other variant / different mix / version which feature on the accompanying CDs is again dissimilar to anything contained on the Vulcan CD.

    From the first moment working on this set, the underlying aim was to present the best possible of Chris’s music. To celebrate his life in music; that was Steph’s watchword / phrase.

    Therefore, IF… repeat IF… there had been a superior version of any title used on the Vulcan CD, we’d have replicated it… there was not.

    Consequently, as much as Chris’s fans have enjoyed the Vulcan CD, we’re able to offer something that does not replicate anything issued before.

    If the Vulcan CD is still, as you say, in print… that means its still available for sale. Since the (contractual) license was for five years, its a bit of a surprise but… there you go.

    Issue..? No..! Why..? Should there be?! And with what?! Do you think there is?

    Personally speaking, I’m only interested in producing (curating) the best possible set for Chris – to properly celebrate his life in music.

    He was a musician who, I think we’d all agree, was never really acclaimed as perhaps he should and could have been during his lifetime. Therefore, just as importantly, that means doing this job for those who enjoy the music he made.

  12. Philip Cohen says:

    The Esoteric label “Vulcan” CD is still being offered at the Cherry Red site, and Chris is still being listed as one of Cherry Red’s artists.

    • Neil Storey says:

      Philip… and your point is?

      I’m doing my level best to answer / clarify / correct if necessary your points in relation to Chris and the music… what else do you need to know?

      • Philip Cohen says:

        Translation: Did the license to Esoteric of similar material(different takes or mixes, albeit of the same compositions) preclude you issuing the boxed set? In other words, was the license to Esoteric one of the problems that put your project into limbo?

        • Neil Storey says:

          Philip – I see… Behind every wire fence you imagine a conspiracy theory.

          Sorry to disappoint you, but the short answer is no.

          First, your use of the word preclude suggests Evening Blue is either indefinitely held up or will not be issued. That is absolutely not the case.

          As has been outlined a number times, we are presently treading water due to an overlong process in completing formalities with certain rights holders. Its as simple as that. Further to that, it would be entirely impolitic of me to divulge details of a confidential, legally-binding, process.

          FYI, there are multiple rights holders aligned to Evening Blue but I can assure you the current ‘hold up’ – for want of a better term – has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the previously issued Vulcan CD.

          Second the previous license of tracks granted by the Chris Wood Estate that resulted in the Vulcan CD is completely irrelevant. It most certainly is not (as you suggest) ‘one of the problems that put your project into limbo’ and, moreover, plays absolutely no part in our assembling Evening Blue. Quite how you imagined it might is beyond me.

    • Jangles says:

      hey are you a pro writer or something? you really know your stuff? you the same guy who writes those loooong reviews on Amazon?

  13. Philip Cohen says:

    When and if the licensing issues are resolved, you’ll let us know from what website the set can be ordered. The only two websites that had been offering the set took down the preorder offer.

      • Richie says:

        Phil, what’s the problem with you, Neil has explained quite early in his replies that the hold up has nothing to do with the Vulcan CD.

        Phil, you are correct about the availability of the Vulcan CD, it’s available with Amazon and with Marketplace dealers through who one of them I ordered the Vulcan CD. I’m sure the availability is due to surplus stock.

        I have been enjoying the exchanges between you and Neil but give the guy a break.

        • Philip Cohen says:

          Neil Storey said, “Philip…and your point is”, so I explained more clearly what I meant, though Mr.Storey had already responded to my question. In the meantime, we’ll wait and see what happens. In the past, I would have said that (in the absence of this specific boxed set) there is no shortage of new boxed sets & expanded/remasters by 1960’s and 1970’s artists that we could buy and listen to, but, despite the fact that June and October are usually the big months for classic rock archival products, at the moment the reissue and archival scene for this type of music is in a serious slump. Maybe we collectors are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel.
          Obviously, I collect the music of “Traffic”. I’ve got all of their albums on CD (excepting “Greatest Hits” type of collections), I had all of their 1970’s albums on vinyl back in the day. I also have two unofficial concert CD’s, both of the group’s DVD’s, and a few other miscellaneous rarities. But I wouldn’t rank Traffic amongst the 20 most favorite groups that I collect.
          I collect the music of many artists. In June, I turned 60, and it also marked 50 years of collecting recorded music. But amongst my 20 most favorite artists that I collect, what i’ve seen lately is dismaying: boxed sets going into limbo for a few seasons(No, this is not a reference to the Chris Wood box), while other boxed sets or expanded/remastered CD series got abandoned or cancelled altogether when artists, managers or record companies lost interest. And, in other instances, artists, groups or musician estates who had already released significant (even generous) quantities of vault material suddenly slammed the vault doors shut and decided to not offer further vault material. In some cases, artists, groups or musician estates took the drastic action of trying to make their already released vault materials disappear, by reissuing their back catalog albums at full price, but shorn/stripped of the bonus tracks that were included on previous editions. And these situations have occurred for a dozen of the artists and groups that ARE amongst the 20 most favorite artists that I collect. Can you understand, then, why I’m in a grumpy and pessimistic state concerning the hobby of collecting recorded music? Like many who collect recorded music, my main loyalty is with the music that was popular during my childhood, teens and twenties. Yes, I do buy an occasional CD by newer artists, but they are rock artists(no Rap or Grunge).
          There are still a number of artists from my era who have yet to release any archival material. But, in many instances, these artists are going to be prima donnas, and I can’t blame the record companies for not wanting to deal with them. It’s easier to release a CD or download by some brand new 2016 performer who eagerly wants their music released.
          Yes, there’s a few interesting boxed sets that may (or may not) be released for the Christmas shopping season(Again, this is not a reference to the Chris Wood boxed set), but, barring a huge outpouring of archival product later this year, I can see that the end is in sight for this collecting hobby that I’ve had for a half century. The ball is in the industry’s court. It’s their move. If they no longer care, it may be time for me to simply enjoy what I’ve already got…many thousands of CD’s, plus L.P.’s SACD’s, DVD-Audio discs and video programs. I’m coming to the conclusion that the stressful pursuit of more recordings is getting in the way of enjoying the amazing collection that I’ve already got.

          • richie says:

            Phil if what you say is true about no more or very few S.E, box sets being release from 60`s/70`s artists who I also have great interest in(and new & newer music), then my bank balance will inflate without any problems. However there are still maybe hundreds of options for new S.E. (&) box sets from this era so I won`t be booking a fortnight in Monte Carlo just yet! Enjoy the music!!!

    • Neil Storey says:

      Philip – you are being erroneously presumptive.

      Nevertheless… perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that you are of the opinion that the hold-ups we are experiencing are down to – as you call them – licensing issues.

      Yet, quite where you have sourced that information escapes me. Not least since it is incorrect.

      FYI, the delays we are experiencing are caused by something way more complex than a simple licensing problem. Damn… I wish it was just that!!!

      Am I going to outline or detail what we’re faced with? No, absolutely not. Its none of anyone’s business – it is something we have to sort out with the parties (plural) we’re working with.

      Can it be resolved tomorrow? Yes. Will it be? Unlikely. When will it be? As soon as it is.

      First – yes, of course. Just as much as I’ve updated everyone as best I can throughout the whole process, there will be further updates as we move along.

      Second – as Paul has linked below – there is and only ever has been one website where the Evening Blue set can be ordered.

      Kindly note – and no matter what you think you may have seen – there *never* (underlined) has been *any other* (underlined) site from which one has been able to order Evening Blue.

      There is a link across from our own HiddenMasters site but thats purely that… a link.

      We set up the pre-ordering for Evening Blue very, very carefully (in collaboration with Caroline International with whom HiddenMasters are now allied) so that there would be zero confusion for those around the world who’d been watching what we were up to, were supportive and wanted to get involved.

      Yes, I’m aware of a rogue shop-site (out of the UK I believe) which, for a time, was offering the set at an inflated base price. FYI, this isn’t anything we can control and hopefully no one has ordered from them because they are, at best, offering a fraudulent service with regards to this set. We’ve never done business with them. And never will.

      Lastly, I should add this… a great many people have already pre-ordered Evening Blue – in one of its different guises – and, as much as everyone (now) knows we’re experiencing these annoying delays, we’ve had nothing… repeat nothing… other than 100% support for what we’re doing for Chris and his music.

  14. Simon F says:

    And on that bombshell, let’s move on and talk about Gong. No, on second thoughts, let’s not…

  15. Philip Cohen says:

    Today (10th July), I received an e-mail advert from the dealer(Spin CD) who was offering(without authorization) preorder for the Chris Wood box. They’re still offering it. I don’t know if they’ve charged anyone in advance.
    As for myself, I’m on hiatus from CD collecting, so all of this is a moot point. But there’s a glimmer of hope: later this year, there may be further archival product from some of the biggest names in progressive rock: King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull & Pink Floyd.

  16. Julian says:

    Crikey – Philip your background on your collections is interesting & I think it’s quite sad you clearly feel so let down by artists and their representatives regarding their back catalogues and unreleased archives.

    I have had the good fortune to visit Neil and have had sight of an early proof of the Chris set – suffice to say it exists and looks and sounds astonishing. So good in fact that I plumped for the uber-special version with prints etc (as I know the time & effort Neil and Jayne have put into making this happen).

    Their work on the wonderful Jess Roden set was previously something I could only imagine happening in my wildest dreams & via that project I am proud to count them in my good friends today.

    Sure there have been some poor quality and over priced sets on the market in recent years as the record co.s try to take advantage )while we still are alive) of those of us who like to retain physical product over cloud fluff … Neil is fighting our corner, creating audio and images and text of the highest quality (because it matters even more to him than it does us) and then packaging it in equally high quality formats.

    So, before it all kicks off again – yup we have all been ripped off at some time or other – Neil & co are running a bespoke service here, for fans by fans – if it breaks even it will be a miracle – so support it in any way you can – even if you don’t order, post the link on to a chum who may be interested – word of mouth is how all good things begin.

    And while I’m here … streaming is killing our artists, buy physical products.

  17. Neil Storey says:

    Hi everyone,

    As promised… an update… and I’m hoping this finds everyone well and thriving.

    As was detailed during July, we were experiencing a fairly fraught time (and had been for months) due to being plagued by a veritable Gordian Knot of problems – some minor, some major, some potentially catastrophic, one potentially project ending. Each impacted heavily on our planned release of the Chris Wood – Evening Blue set. Added together, they became almost insurmountable.

    Almost.

    Because, this to let everyone here know… finally… all the nonsense is behind us – at long last, we’re back on course!

    Unlike Alexander The Great, we couldn’t just slice through said Knot with a sharpened sword… consequently, together with Steph Wood, I’d say we learned a new dictionary definition to the phrase extreme patience.

    Anyhow, this all means the countdown to delivering parts to the manufacturers is underway.

    Final mastering will be in London September 19 / 21st inclusive and, if no other niggly, unanticipated, issues raise their heads above the parapet, manufacturing will begin first week of October.

    (The vinyl is already mastered with TPs approved and, as I type, we’re making final corrections to the 200+page book)

    Just as soon as the CDs mastering is complete, I’ll post the finalised track listing across the whole set (reason I’m not doing that just yet is ‘cos we may alter running orders very late in the day…)

    And… the even better news is… as long as everything trundles along according to plan, Evening Blue will be available just upfront of Christmas.

    So as not to jinx anything, we’re setting a provisional – available-to-consumers-date – of week commencing December 12th.

    Thanks to all here for being so very supportive.

    Neil.

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