Clifford T. Ward

This Was Our Love: A Collection of 21 Clifford T. Ward Rarities 1968-1980

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Like several other Ward reissues on Cherry Red, this suffers from damnably imprecise documentation as to this stuff's origins, despite pretty lengthy liner notes. The only tight hard data given, in fact, is in the CD's title, which at least places the dates of these tracks between 1968 and 1980. It can also be reasonably inferred that these recordings did not see the light of day at the time; that the first 12 of the 21 tracks were done between 1968-1972; that most of those 12 songs appeared on the deleted 1998 Hidden Treasures collection; that those same dozen songs were overdubbed in recent years by "modern musicians and arrangements" (though it's not 100 percent clear whether these were already overdubbed on the Hidden Treasures versions); and that overall these are "superior versions of selected tracks that appeared on the Ward albums Bittersweet, Ways of Love, and Hidden Treasures" (in the opinion of whoever wrote the notes beneath the track listings). A more interesting question than where exactly these things came from (and none of the individual tracks are given dates, of course) is why so much effort is being given to exhuming Ward's vaults in the first place. For this is the work of a modest, and modestly talented, early British rock singer/songwriter, the songs sounding more like demos of would-bes routinely consigned to the circular file than material worthy of serious attention. It's true that the production doesn't give Ward his best opportunity to make the most of things. His voice is thinly recorded and poorly mixed on the dozen 1968-1972 tracks, and the combination of old tapes and newly dubbed instrumentation might be to blame for some of the clumsiness (though it's not hard to believe the old tapes were of such substandard fidelity that they might have been unreleasable in their original state). But a far greater problem is the ho-hum material and fairly characterless vocals, only occasionally going into quirky paths ("The Gloria Bosom Show" is a memorable song title, at least), and melodies that rarely rise above the mundane (the minor-keyed "Always Think About You," with a flavor not unlike the Grass Roots' hit "Let's Live for Today," being a striking exception). The unexpectedly spry and witty "It's Better to Believe" (with weird accompaniment that sounds midway between accordion and synthesizer) and the quality folk-rock-pop of "Realisation" also make this impossible to completely write off, but it's not enough to salvage a disc largely given over to boring laid-back singer/songwriting.

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