Review – Mansun – Attack of the Grey Lantern (Deluxe Remastered Reissue) – by James R. Turner

Somewhere at the arse end of Britpop, where record labels and the bigger bands had either lost the plot or were rapidly evolving to avoid the Britpop tag, there were some truly great albums released in that fag end; ‘Urban Hymns’ by The Verve or ‘Be Here Now’ by Oasis captured the decline of the Britpop years beautifully, while Radiohead’s ‘Ok, Computer’ set the controls for the heart of the sun. Meanwhile four-piece Mansun, who were lumped, unfairly to my ears, into the whole Britpop scene (well, they were British, and they made music!) took the top of the charts with ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’.

Despite the strength of the follow up ‘Six’, as well as ‘Little Kixx’, the band folded amidst much acrimony, leaving behind a collection of albums that, if you were there you’d get, if you weren’t then you would be amazed that you hadn’t heard them before.

Now signed to Kscope for his debut album and having achieved critical acclaim for his come-back and his tour supporting Steven Wilson, original Mansun frontman Paul Draper recently toured the UK selling out venues performing ‘Attack…’ in it’s entirety for the first time.

With the Mansun back catalogue now on Kscope, they have brought out a luxurious 21st anniversary edition. This pulls together demo’s, live tracks, unreleased material and, the holiest of holies, a shiny new 5.1 mix of the album.

Back in 2010 when the rights were held by EMI, they produced a triple disc edition of the album and while, inevitably, there is some cross over, the demo’s and 5.1 mix make this new package as attractive to new fans and older ones who want to relive their youth.

Astonishingly there are people buying music today who weren’t even born when this album appeared, and doesn’t that make me feel old?

Starting out as a concept about a superhero, The Grey Lantern, the band admitted there weren’t quite enough songs to complete the concept, but it doesn’t matter when the material on here is of such quality and style.

Anyone unfamiliar with the original album won’t know how it starts with the best Bond theme there never was, the dramatic string laden and powerful The Chad Who Loved Me, before leading into the sardonically titled Mansun’s Only Love Song (this quirky sense of humour and self-deprecation was to be a trade mark of the band) and, while they were put into the Britpop box, there was always more going on musically, as the brilliantly Beatles inspired, and pure festival singalong, Taxlo$$ proved. There were the brilliant single releases like the epic Wide Open Space and Stripper Vicar, the former being an absolute musical epic, and the latter being a very English piece of musical high-farce which could only have been made by an English band.

With a closing quartet of songs, She Makes my Nose Bleed, Naked Twister, Egg Shaped Fred and Dark Mavis, there is no bad track on this album. It is one of those organically produced records from the golden age of CDs where the sequence is everything and the album must be listened to in its entirety. This is no collection of songs to stream or put on as background, this is an album as art and, as such, is full of class, heart and soul.

Which is why it is perfect for the 5.1 treatment. There was always plenty going on musically with Mansun and the 5.1 mix enhances and expands this, giving the tracks real wide open space to breath. This makes it a completely immersive experience, taking it all back to listening to albums as they were meant to be listened to, you, a room and the sounds taking them over.

The fact that Mansun were so obviously head and shoulders above most of the Britpop crowd means they were more on a par with Pulp than Oasis, in that they have made timeless, classy intelligent rock music, music that wasn’t afraid to be a bit different from the norm. Listening back now it’s hard to imagine that if Mansun appeared from nowhere and released this today that it would get to number one. While it is easier to access music today, I have a suspicion that, looking at the demographic of the record buying youth 21 years ago, they were probably more accepting to trying something slightly different than the youth of today. So different, in fact, that they let, and actively encouraged Radiohead and Mansun to get away with blatant prog right under their noses in the depths of Britpop, the cheeky little scamps!

After seeing Paul Draper perform ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ live (a gig I’d only been waiting to see for 21 years) my interest in all things Mansun has been rekindled and, as Kscope have the full back catalogue, it appears that the follow up to ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’, the even more astonishing and out there ‘Six’, is being readied for 5.1.

If ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ was the gateway drug, ‘Six’ is where we hit the hard stuff. With Paul Draper promising to perform it in it’s entirety live next year, well, I am already eagerly awaiting the next instalment in the Mansun story and, after immersing yourself in this well made, and well remastered set (the new mixes sound sublime and are really sympathetic to the original album) you will be too.

(As a note for those of you who aren’t into 5.1, there is a standard edition available as well, shiny and remastered for your pleasure.)

Released 8th June 2018

Buy the album from Burning Shed here

Band pictures by Pennie Smith.

 

Mansun announce ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ deluxe remastered reissue

Deluxe remastered reissue of the classic debut album. Kscope, June 8th

Stunningly remastered from the original multi-tracks – this incredible album will be available on all digital platforms and as a media book CD, a 2 x black gatefold vinyl, a very limited 2 x purple gatefold heavyweight vinyl (complete with original design printed inner bags) and a lavish four disc limited book (3CD+DVD) including remastered album, DVD (including 5.1 mix, original videos and hi-def mix), a 70 page book with a new extended essay on the making the record and its impact, a CD of never before heard demos, rarities & outtakes and a CD of selected Mansun BBC Sessions.

Mansun – one of the most iconic bands of the late ’90s – have announced details of a huge remastered reissue of their 1997 debut album, Attack of the Grey Lantern. It will be released via Kscope on June 8th 2018.

The album will be released on multiple formats including limited coloured vinyl, standard black vinyl, single CD and super-deluxe four-disc book set (including unreleased material on CD and a new 5.1 mix on DVD). It will also be available to stream on all digital platforms.

For most rock‘n’roll bands, the debut album is a chance to properly record their nascent songs – those scrappy, speedball numbers often written in the white heat of formation. For Mansun, back in 1996, things were a little different. Formed in Chester before coming of age at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, the band’s early ambitions marked them out as a very different prospect to their supposed peers. Their songs were mini-symphonies filtered through their perfectly British eccentricity, worked out in painstaking detail in the studio before ever being played on the stage. The lyrics told elaborate stories, followed paths and planted signposts.

When it emerged, Mansun’s debut – Attack of the Grey Lantern – was the complete picture. A record that opens with a Bond theme like orchestral overture before opening out as an interconnected voyeuristic, curtain-twitching concept album about a smalltown superhero, AOTGL was an almost incomprehensibly melodic work that embraced intelligence and nuance over the brute force and beery bonhomie of their contemporaries. When it was released at the height of Britpop, AOTGL reached No 1 (in February 1997) and achieved platinum sales thanks to a hugely dedicated fanbase.

Now twenty-one years on, the album has been fully overhauled for a gloriously deluxe reissue package remastered from the original multi-tracks by Jon Astley  and with the band and Paul’s longtime studio collaborator PDub creating the 5.1 remix. The CDs of extra material include previously unheard demo recordings, studio outtakes and long unheard BBC sessions recorded prior to the album’s release. This reissue campaign also sees the record remastered for vinyl for the first time since its original release.

Pre-order now –  http://found.ee/AOTGL_21ST_ANNIVERSARY

Attack of the Grey Lantern featured the hit singles Wide Open Space, Egg Shaped Fred, Taxloss and She Makes My Nose BleedMansun were Paul Draper (vocals, guitar, production), Dominic Chad (guitar, piano, synths), Stove (bass), Andie Rathbone (drums).

Mansun’s Paul Draper recently played a sold out tour of the UK playing Attack of the Grey Lantern in its entirety. Much of the album had never been performed live prior to these dates. Paul’s first solo album – Spooky Action – was released on Kscope to critical acclaim in August 2017, being described by Record Collector in a 5* review as “the perfect confection for the later days of the 2010s”. Paul sets off on his first ever solo tour of the States in April/May – the first time he has played US dates since the ’97 release of Attack of the Grey Lantern. Kscope took on the Mansun back catalogue in 2017, they plan to release expanded, deluxe editions of the band’s other albums – Six and Little Kix – in the future.

ATTACK OF THE GREY LANTERN (21st Anniversary remaster) tracklisting:

The Chad Who Loved Me
Mansun’s Only Love Song
Taxloss
You, Who Do You Hate?
Wide Open Space
Stripper Vicar
Disgusting
She Makes My Nose Bleed
Naked Twister
Egg Shaped Fred
Dark Mavis
DEMOS, RARITIES & OUTTAKES (CD)
 
Disgusting (Demo)
Rebel Without a Quilt (Original version)
Naked Twister (Demo)
Dark Mavis (Demo)
The Dutchess (Jam session)
Ski Jump Nose (Original version)
She Makes My Nose Bleed (Strings only)
The Chad Who Loved Me (Backing track take 1)
Stripper Vicar (Take 1)
Stripper Vicar (Full length link version)
Dark Mavis (Rejected version)
She Makes My Nose Bleed (Version 1)
An Open Letter to the Lyrical Trainspotter (Take 1)
The Greatest Pain (Backing track take 1)
You, Who Do You Hate? (Early version)
She Makes My Nose bleed (Demo)
Egg Shaped Fred (Mix 1)
BBC SESSIONS (CD)
Skin Up Pin Up
Grey Lantern
14/09/1995   Radio One Session with John Peel
Flourella
Naked Twister
Drastic Sturgeon
15/05/1996   Radio One Session
Egg Shaped Fred
Take it Easy Chicken
12/11/1996   Soho Live Evening Session
Stripper Vicar
She Makes My Nose Bleed
Wide Open Space
The Chad Who Loved Me
Ski Jump Nose
16/12/1996   Radio One Session with Mark Radcliffe
DVD
Attack Of The Grey Lantern 5.1 SURROUND MIX/HIGH RES AUDIO MIX
 
VIDEOS
 
Flourella
Egg Shaped Fred
Take It Easy Chicken
Stripper Vicar
Wide Open Space
Wide Open Space (US version)
She Makes My Nose Bleed
Taxloss