The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings of Pearls Before Swine is simply the handsomely repackaged reissue of both albums cut for the label in 1967 and 1968, One Nation Underground and Balaklava. Re-released in the U.S. by Bernard Stollman's erratically active label, the two-on-one CD package features both albums completely remastered for reissue by veteran studio wiz Joe Phillips. While the Pearls Before Swine website claims that Phillips worked from master tapes, Phillips in his liner note essay says that the masters "are long-lost to History" (sic). Over five years he used his memory of the original recordings produced by Richard Alderson, the supervision of Pearls Before Swine's visionary songwriter and principal vocalist Tom Rapp, and existing copies. They sound great. Given what he had to work with -- and some of the atrocious sounding re-releases on CD -- this set is basically the reference point from here on out. The sound is clear, flat, and dynamic with many of the subtleties of the original sessions reproduced in unprecedented detail. In addition to Phillips' own introductory tome, the package includes essays by songwriter and labelmate Randy Burns, a brief paragraph by Stollman, and complete lyrics for both recordings.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek