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(240:00; Giant Electric Pea)
I am finding it a little hard to comprehend that I am looking at the 25th anniversary 3 disc set of ‘Ever’, as I vividly remember it being released, and then hearing Martin play some of the album solo at Whitchurch. Back then it was an album that few of us ever imagined being made, as IQ’s charismatic singer Peter Nicholls had previously left the band, and then a few years later the replacement singer Paul Menel had departed, taking with him bassist Tim Esau. No-one was really sure what was going to happen with the band, but with Martin stepping up to take lead vocals, Mike still there on guitar and Paul on drums, they brought in Les ‘Ledge’ Marshall (who had previously been in the pre-IQ band The Lens) and kept gigging. Peter came back to sing as a guest, but none of them expected it to be permanent. It was the sad passing of Marshall that brought the four friends back together as a unit, and the decision to continue. They of course needed a bassist, and looked to John Jowitt from Ark who has supported them in the past. Recorded in March 1993, the album had a massive impact on the UK underground progressive scene when it was released, and it is still an incredibly important album in their canon (and one that I personally have loaded on my phone at all times). So, given that any IQ fan will already own this album, why would they go out and then purchase this three disc set? Because there is no option as to not to, that’s why. The first disc contains what is supposedly a remix of the original album, but in reality it is far much more than that. When the original recordings took place the band were limited to 24 tracks, but wanted more, so some of the keyboards were run live through MIDI, so they weren’t actually on the analogue tape. Martin no longer had the keyboards he had played back then, so current keyboard player Neil Durant not only had to work out what notes were being played, but also what keyboards had created the sounds in the first place, and then recreate Martin’s role in a way that it was indistinguishable from the original. Mike also used the opportunity to not only remix the album but to resolve some sounds that he felt weren’t correct in the first one. So it is not just a remix, but a freshened up and revitalised version of the original album, ‘Ever 2.0’ as it were. It certainly sounds quite different to the original, with far more depth, vibrancy and balance, amazing was 25 years of technology (and experience) can bring to the sound. The second disc is a live performance of the complete album from February this year, which of course features not only Neil but bassist Tim Esau, who returned to replace his replacement John Jowitt. Then it is onto the third disc, which is a DVD so that it can hold all the data. First off there are 5.1 surround sound mixes of the first two discs, then there are album demos, studio outtakes, unused ideas and rehearsals. For the fan this stuff is absolutely invaluable: the first place I went was to play “Unholy Cow” which was the song which became “Out of Nowhere”, and it is fascinating to see how the song started and then progressed to the final version we all know and love. There is a booklet containing the thoughts of all those involved, loads of photos, all housed in a full digipak. Having long been fan of the original album, all I can say is that it is unlikely that I will be going back to it, as this newer version is so much cleaner. With this release IQ were very much back, and it laid the groundwork for all their success through the Nineties and beyond. I was fortunate enough to see the guys play a few times in this period, and myself and Martin were in contact a great deal, and just putting this on and reading the notes has taken me back to those heady days of 1993. ‘Ever’ was at the time, and still is, an incredibly important album which any proghead must surely have in their collection already. However, the care that has been placed into this reissue makes this an indispensable release, which 25 years on has gained in power and vibrancy. Absolutely essential.
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