Tommy Bolin • Ultimate Teaser 3CD / 5CD
Where to start?!…
I purchased the 3 CD version (actually downloaded it from iTunes) not really knowing what to expect as there was much confusion prior to release as to how much of it was new and how much was repackaging of previous material.
Of the 3 CDs, the first is the one we were all waiting for, the remixed original ‘Teaser’ in all it’s glory. Greg Hampton has done a wonderful job, the sound is crisp, clear and does the original recording a superb justice. Not that I had any complaints with the original vinyl release, but this brings what is one of Tommy’s finest moments alive for today’s digital audience, the technology enhances as opposed to dominating the proceedings.
CDs 2 & 3 are alternative versions and outtakes, and this is where I get confused. It appears that most of the material has already seen the light of day on ‘Whips & Roses’ and ‘Teaser Deluxe’. The ‘Teaser’ alternative may be new, but let’s face it, with all of the duplication it’s getting hard (even for the trainspotters like me) to tell the difference. Much of the material including ‘People People’, ‘Marching Powder’ and ‘Wild Dogs’ appear to be exactly the same as on the recently released ‘Teaser Deluxe’ release. I have heard that they may have been remixed, but I for one can’t spot any significant difference. ‘Flyin’ Fingers’ and ‘Cookoo’ do sound better than before, the latter being an extended version of the (obviously edited) one on ‘Whips & Roses’. It’s possibly one of my favourite Bolin moments. Also on the plus side is the never heard before (by me, at least) ‘Chameleon’, a nice slow jazzy blues instrumental that builds in intensity. It really is a hidden gem and almost justifies my dissapointment re the other duplications. However, we then have issues with ‘Smooth Fandango’ being the exact same track as ‘Crazed Fandango’ on ‘Teaser Deluxe’ and I’m always cynical when vocals are omitted over what appears to be previously released tracks, this is evident in the case of ‘Oriental Sky’ which is, in my opinion, the version of ‘Lotus’ that appeared on ‘Teaser Deluxe’ with the vocals wiped off. Luckily, the brilliant ‘Chameleon’ and revitalised ‘Cookoo’ and ‘Flyin Fingers’ help ease the pain somewhat.
Us Tommy Bolin fans are a loyal bunch, but communicating as we do, there certainly does appear to be a feeling that there is just too much confusion about this release – which should’ve been avoided. People are asking what the difference is between this and the 5-CD boxed set – from what I can work out, the 5CD set includes the VERY recently released ‘Great Gypsy Soul’ 2CD version, which is bewildering considering most of us have already forked out the dosh for this only a few months ago. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but some of us are feeling a bit taken for granted to be honest, the duplication on ‘Whips & Roses’, ‘Teaser Deluxe’ and the ‘Ultimate Teaser’ is a serious issue. I can’t now see the need for me to play the previous releases (especially Teaser Deluxe) ever again. It’s a case of ‘too much too soon’ and also ‘an old bottle of wine in a new label’. OK, as a dedicated fan, I love the remixed original, but why couldn’t they have just released that with a couple of bonus tracks, that way it would be far more legitimate – to pay more for recently released material is not a clever idea in my book!
Again, having spoken to other fans, the artwork and packaging is just plain awful. I can’t vouch for the 5CD version, but my digibook on my download (which I assume is printed for the physical release?) is a shocker. Cover and back cover aside we have 14 pages of photoshopping gone terribly wrong. There are some great shots which have been absolutely ‘butchered’. If the Bolin camp are going to charge top dollar for packages such as this, they should pay more attention to the overall packaging. I remember when ‘The Ultimate’ came out in ‘89 and most of the material was already available, and yet, the wonderful packaging and booklet made up for it. I really feel the graphics on the recent releases cheapen what is quality product.
This set is available from the DTB Online Store. But NOT as a download!