Want List: Black – Wonderful Life DLX RM

Universal | UK | 2xCD | 2013 | UMCREP2022

Universal | UK | 2xCD | 2013 | UMCREP2022

Black: Wonderful Life UK 2xCD DLX RM [2013]

Disc 1

  1. Wonderful Life
  2. Everything’s Coming Up Roses
  3. Sometimes For The Asking
  4. Finder
  5. Paradise
  6. I’m Not Afraid
  7. I Just Grew Tired
  8. Blue
  9. Just Making Memories
  10. Sweetest Smile
  11. Ravel In The Rain
  12. Leave Yourself Alone
  13. Sixteens
  14. It’s Not You Lady Jane
  15. Hardly Star-Crossed Lovers

Disc 2

  1. Wonderful Life (Alternate Version)
  2. Birthday Night
  3. Dagger Reel
  4. Sometimes For The Asking (New Version)
  5. Sometimes For The Asking (Echo Bass And Sax)
  6. Everything’s Coming Up Roses (The Fairly Mental Mix)
  7. Have It Your Own Way
  8. My Lover
  9. Life Calls
  10. Had Enough
  11. All We Need Is The Money

When I first came across Colin Vearncombe in 1987, I was immediately struck by the high caliber of his songs and their recording. This was jazzy, adult pop with an enthralling chiaroscuro to the proceedings that sucked me in but good. This was European music, but not for the dancefloor.  This was closer to Nina Simone than New Romantics. I bought his debut album and it easily became my favorite album of that year, back when I could have favorite albums of a year. I eventually discovered that the UK copy had five bonus tracks, so I mail ordered a copy. I also made efforts to collect everything issued by Black, which I still do to this day! True, there are a few rarities lacking, but not many.

Since the record sold well everywhere but in America, it was perhaps inevitable that Universal has hit that DLX RM action button and issued it in a big, fat double disc edition. Disc one is the same as the original UK edtion. If you’ve not had the pleasure, the five B-sides appended to the program came from these singles.

A+M | UK | 12" | 1987 | Amy 389

A+M | UK | 12″ | 1987 | Amy 389

Black: Everything’s Coming Up Roses UK 12″ [1987]

  1. Everything’s Coming Up Roses
  2. Ravel In The Rain
  3. It’s Not You, Lady Jane
A+M | UK | 12" | 1987 | Amy 394

A+M | UK | 12″ | 1987 | Amy 394

Black: Sweetest Smile UK 12″ [1987]

  1. Sweetest Smile
  2. Sixteens
  3. Leave Yourself Along
  4. Hardly Star-Crossed Lovers

“Sixteens” and “It’s Not You, Lady Jane” are incredible numbers that one can see why it was felt that they did not slot into the album. Their vibes are far more intense than what’s on offer elsewhere. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t among the best songs recorded during these sessions! Vearncombe sounds on fire on these less restrained recordings that are far grittier than the more urbane material on the album proper. They are not to be missed in any case.

Ugly Man | UK | 7" | 1986 | JACK 71

Ugly Man | UK | 7″ | 1986 | JACK 71

Black: Wonderful Life UK 7″ [1986]

  1. Wonderful Life [alternate version]
  2. Birthday Night

Disc two begins with the earlier version of “Wonderful Life” that Vearncombe released independently following an unhappy liaison with WEA earlier in the decade. The early version of “Wonderful Life” is very close to the A+M released version. It sounds like a remix and a few overdubs were added in remix, possibly. The B-side is here and that’s fine, but an opportunity has been missed.

Ugly Man | UK | 2x7" | 1986 | JACK 71D

Ugly Man | UK | 2×7″ | 1986 | JACK 71D

Black: Wonderful Life UK 2×7″ [1986]

  1. Wonderful Life [alternate version]
  2. Birthday Night
  3. Sometimes For The Asking [early ver.]
  4. Everything’s Coming Up Roses [early ver.]

That’s because there was also a double 45 issued with two additional B-sides which would be completely re-recorded for the A+M album the following year. These remain only in my Record Cell in 2013.

A+M | UK | CS5 | 1987 | AMCD 422

A+M | UK | CS5 | 1987 | AMCD 422

Black: Paradise UK CD5 [1987]

  1. Paradise
  2. Dagger Reel
  3. Sometimes For The Asking [new ver.]

The “Paradise” single has both of its B-sides added to the flow. It should be mentioned that the “new version” of “Sometimes For The Asking” differs from both the album version and the “early version” on the 2×7″ of the 1986 “Wonderful Life.” Each recording is distinct; these aren’t mix differences.

A+M | UK | 12" | 1987 | Amy 414

A+M | UK | 12″ | 1987 | Amy 414

Black: I’m Not Afraid UK 12″ [1987]

  1. I’m Not Afraid [ext. remix]
  2. Have It Your Own Way
  3. My Lover

The next single from the album is alone among all of his singles in that the A-side got an extended remix of the upbeat, danceable tune. the only one on the record. It remains AWOL, but the sturdy B-sides are present and accounted for.

A+M | UK | 12" | 1987 | Amy 402

A+M | UK | 12″ | 1987 | Amy 402

Black: Wonderful Life UK 12″ [1987]

  1. Wonderful Life
  2. Life Calls
  3. Had Enough
  4. All We Need Is The Money

Finally, all of the B-sides from the eponymous hit single are present here. This means the remaster has missed three cuts detailed above, but has included two takes from the vaults in their place. Alternate mixes of “Sometimes For The Asking” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” unless the “Fairly Mental Mix” of the latter is actually the 1986 recording. I tend to doubt that, though. Universal hasn’t achieved Monastic perfection here, but anyone who had not followed the tale from its origin will undoubtedly be well rewarded for their purchase. I may buy to get digital remasters of the B-sides I have already remastered digitally from “Wonderful Life ’86” and the “I’m Not Afraid” single, as well as the two new mixes. But with The Monk’s beleaguered budget, perhaps surgical downloads of the latter may be preferable. You heard it here first, people.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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1 Response to Want List: Black – Wonderful Life DLX RM

  1. Echorich says:

    Black came along at just the right time. I was already a fan of British Sophistipop/New Jazz as promoted by Everything But The Girl, Sade, Matt Bianco (I get a lot of harrassment from my British friends for liking Matt Bianco) and even Basia. Black put a tender slant on the sound and felt much more emotionally fragile than the rest. Wonderful Life was my entree and I quickly jumped on the bandwagon.
    Of all the wonderful b-sides you have listed above, it was Ravel In The Rain, Have It Your Own Way and Dagger Reel that I have always held close.
    Vearncombe’s recent output has been remarkably good. Along with Robert Howard, I feel he is one of the most underrated singer songwriters of my generation.


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