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Exhausting the vaults - 45%

Warthur, October 17th, 2011

It seems that the original First Daze Here collection did pretty well for itself, because it was followed up by this subsequent selection of 1970s Pentagram material. First, the good news: unlike the previous collection, which only had one song from the band's 1976 demos, this has a substantially greater proportion of songs from that period, giving a bit more of a balanced view of the band's development during the era. And whilst the inclusion of two cover songs on here might suggest that the bottom of the rehearsal tape barrel had been hit, at least the version of the Rolling Stones' Under My Thumb is a fun, fast-paced metal reworking which manages to recapture the sneering leer of Mick and Keef's version.

Now the bad news: first off, the set is bafflingly split into a two-CD collection for absolutely no good reason that I can see. Granted, some of the material on the second CD has a markedly worse production quality than the first CD - in fact, most of the tracks here are slightly rougher around the edges than the material on First Daze Here, which presumably represents the cream of the crop - but even then there's some nicely-produced tracks on there that are on a par with the material on CD1, so it can't be an attempt to partition tracks into one high-quality disc and one "bonus disc" of shoddier recordings. Equally, the recordings aren't presented in chronological order at all - or, indeed, any date order which makes any sense to me - so it's not a matter of separating early 1970s material from late 1970s material or anything like that. A simple blunder, or a blatant attempt to slap a 2CD price tag on a single CD's worth of material? You decide.

Secondly, as I've already alluded to, the production quality of the demos here is - to my ears, at least - markedly more variable than on First Daze Here, which had a consistently decent sound. I'm not taking raw kvlt black metal demos recorded in a forest during a blizzard bad here - you can at least more or less pick out each individual instrument and hear what the musicians are doing - but it's distracting enough to make the listening experience markedly more of a chore than listening to the preceding collection.

Those who are major Pentagram fans and want to collect as much of the band's early material as possible will probably find First Daze Here Too a decent enough collection, though I suspect even they will be bugged by the bizarre 2CD presentation. The rest of us, however, would be better off listening to the band's studio albums, on which most-to-all of the best tracks on here have been re-recorded at one point or another.

It's all about rock'n'roll, baby! - 78%

Catachthonian, November 30th, 2008

Foreword

First of all, let me state that, before starting reviewing this, I didn't see any point in releasing this compilation on two CDs when it could perfectly fit into one. Other than it's the second part in the "First Daze Here" series, I saw absolutely no reasons. But my name isn't Bobby Liebling and I couldn't change anything, so I had to deal with the things the way they are and review each CD separately.

The first...

The production here is akin to that of the BSR demo: it's clean, clear and masterful. All instruments are perfectly audible, every single note is distinguishable, you can't confuse one thing for another even if you want to. This CD has got a rock'n'rollish vibe to it, not lastly due to The Rolling Stones cover. "Smokescreen" is a pure rock'n'roll tune, and a highly enjoyable one at that. It's just oozing out with energy. Even Bobby's voice is completely unrecognizable. But it's apparent the band's having fun, whole lotta mindless fun. "Teaser" is a logical continuation of "Smokescreen". It's calmer, shorter and slower a bit... still it's rock'n'roll, baby! "Little Games" is more of the same, but again calmer, shorter and slower. Now how do you like that?! I do. The remaining three are too famous the songs to describe them. I'd only say that "Review Your Choices" sounds rather weird and "Much Too Young To Know" is more rock'n'rollish than usually. The bass is prominent in all seven songs, and it really brings them together. I wonder, are you now seeing some sense in splitting "First Daze Here Too" on two CDs? I was, on the third listen.

The second...

The overall sound level here is a little lower than on the first CD, still everything said about the production of the first CD applies here. The songs here are very short for the most part; most of them sound unfinished and fragmented, like sketches of something greater and much more ambitious. So, twice as much music and twice as much material to ponder on. A few songs here continue the path of "Smokescreen" and "Teaser", prime examples being the opener "Virgin Death" and "Ask No More". Several others are slow and doomy, though not very heavy. Some of the rest resurfaced on later albums, for example, "Catwalk", "Frustration" and "Nightmare Gown". By the way, the solo on "Catwalk" is delicious.

Finally, this CD features "Be Forewarned", "Target" and "Show 'em How", and all with almost perfect production! "Be Forewarned" is on par with the version found on "First Daze Here", it's as bluesy as that one, and the 'rippling water' guitar tone is still there. "Target" is much better than on "Human Hurricane": the sound is clearer, which makes it even trippier. Oh, and the solos are absolutely orgasmic, together with the bass work. Hell, even Mark Shelton can't come up with solos like these! Bobby's vocals are still blurred, but not as much as on "Human Hurricane". This is one of the best songs (if not the best one) they ever wrote. "Show 'em How" still has a muffled, muddy sound, but it's significantly better than that on "Human Hurricane". Also the bass is higher in the mix, adding to the pyschedelic aura of the song. Now see? There certainly is a point in splitting "First Daze Here Too" on two CDs.

Afterword

So, is it worth buying? HELL YES!!! Everything with "Target" on it is worth buying. If you don't ejaculate over the solos it has, you're either impotent or gay. "So you be forewarned, I'm coming after you". This is a great compilation showing the band's evolution over the years. Absolutely mandatory for Pentagram fanatics. Even despite containing many a crude and unfinished song, it's somehow better than "Human Hurricane". So don't take it too seriously and remember... it's all about rock'n'roll!