Imagine if The Blues Brothers had been Quadruplets and hailed from this beautiful little island paradise I call home, the United KIngdom. Well some of you may think they would have lacked the charm and grace of the two dark shades wearing legends but I know, as many others do, they already exist, and they’re called Nine Below Zero.
It’s hard to believe Nine Below Zero celebrating 35 years this year but it’s come around and to help the rest of us celebrate with them Universal are releasing the classic albums ‘Don’t Point Your Finger’ and ‘The Third Degree’ as special edition, two-disc, remasters. The first two studio albums, released in 1981 and 1982, are already timeless classics but the addition of bonus material leaves us salivating, so we threw them on the speakers and had a listen.
“Don’t Point Your Finger” came just a year after the success of the band’s first release ‘Live at the Marquee’ which catapulted the band from cult following to UK wide stardom. An eclectic mix of Old School Blues and Modern Rock the album was a real master piece with some real movers and groovers. Opening track One Way Street covers the tricky opening with great tempo and a real sense of fun. There are so many great tracks on this album I can’t possibly pick out any stand outs, it’s an album to listen to from start to finish and love every second.
In this release Disc 1 is just a beautifully remastered version of the original album and they’ve done a great job, loaded onto the computer this album stands up to newer tracks on a playlist where often it’s through the headphones these old albums fall down. What you do need to listen out for is a truly amazing cover of Rockin’ Robin at the end of the album, I defy anyone not to tap a steel toe cap to that.
Disc 2 is a recording of the band’s performance at The Granary in Bristol, in fact the last ever recording of BBC’s “In Concert” at that venue. The band perform each track flawlessly and you can hear the atmosphere must have been electric. They even throw in 11+11, the single from their second studio album The Third Degree.
The Third Degree was released in 1982, a good year, and the band didn’t fall into the trap felt by so many who release albums so close together where the latter doesn’t match up to the quality of the first. Whilst it could be said that lyrically this album doesn’t quite meet the mark the first album did, musically it’s like a straight continuation of the first, the raw energy is unstoppable and infects you like some kind of dancing disease. It’s Parkinson’s for you ears!!
In this set Disc 1 once again is a beautiful remastered representation of the classic album. Disc 2 is the original recording of the album, recorded by Glyn Johns at his studio in Sussex. This version of the album, which is regarded by purists as a more genuine example of the original work, was rejected by A&M so the band went on to re-record the album with Simon Boswell and that is the version that was released. This is the first time Glyn Johns’ imagining of the band’s work has been released and putting aside the missing tracks and addition of some others the sound is certainly more stripped, not that the released version was over-produced, but it’s clear Johns’ vision was closer to the band’s.
This 35th Anniversary edition of two of the best British albums of all time is a very respectful working of the band’s work by people who have really taken the time to listen to the music and make something very special. You can get your hands on these releases now from your favourite music retailers and you can find out more about Nine Below Zero on their website.