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Shine on Brightly

A&M 7.5 ips reel-to-reel with track-list anomaly

Shine on Brightly, like other early Procol Harum albums, came out in a 7" reel-to-reel version running at 7.5 inches per second.

Some audiophiles preferred this format to vinyl, arguing that vinyl tended to make the tracks closest to the centre of the disc sound bad, since the relative speeds of stylus and groove were much lower there than on the opening tracks of a side.

This Shine On Brightly evidently follows the American packaging of the album, with the wrecked piano and tailor's dummy supposedly a less disturbing image than George Underwood's zombie-filled grand piano on a pink desert, and certainly a much less interesting one.

The track listing, however, is a bit curious. In Held 'Twas in I apparently comes in parts I & II, perhaps echoing Paul Williams's remark that he couldn't tell how many tracks there were on side two

Most mysterious, however, is the apparent inclusion of Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) twice on the tape, once on side one, again on side two.

This contradicts the quoted timings (oddly, 20:22 on both sides): the side one running order listed here would clock in at about 21:40, or 18:49 without track 3. Side two would indeed run for 20:22, as it does on vinyl.

One knows that running-orders were occasionally tampered with in order to make the two sides of a tape programme the same length. But it seems unusual to duplicate one whole track, in order to accomplish this. If someone out there still possesses this reel-to-reel version, perhaps they'd like to tell us if Magdalene does indeed feature twice, or whether in fact this is just a blunder on the part of the office that compiled the reel-label.

Art Dudley from Listener Magazine writes to BtP:
A while back you posted a photo [see above] of the reel-to-reel tape version of Shine On Brightly, which I believe you had spied on Ebay. You called our attention to the fact that the label listed two appearances of the song Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) yet different timings were given for the two!

As luck would have it, I was the winning bidder, and with the tape in my possession I can now report that the song in question does indeed appear twice. Unfortunately, in its first appearance on the tape, sandwiched oddly between the title song and ... My Moonbeams, it is simply the version of Magdalene with which we are all familiar, yet minus the kazoo-like "buh-buh-buh" tag in which a verse's worth of the song is repeated after the fade at the end, sans words. (The longer version, in its normal position in the running order, is Magdalene in its entirety.) <Sigh!> I was hoping for an alternate version. As consolation, the sound of the reel-to-reel version is superb, with unusually good bass extension and weight (more so than the slightly tinny American LP and even the Japanese "album-sleeve" CD).

Thanks, Art

Keef Rob writes very helpfully to 'Beyond the Pale':

I can shed a little bit of light on the reel-to-reel edition of Shine on Brightly.

I have an 8-track copy which does indeed reproduce Magdelene twice on the tape.  The short version was faded early without the kazoos.  (You know how there's the solo snare drum, which fades at about 1:52, and then the song comes back with processing on the vocals and some of the instruments?  There's humming on there that sounds to my ears like they're kazoos (a small toy instrument something like a paper-and-comb -- you hummed into it and the paper "buzzed" your voice).  They may not be actually be kazoos or paper-and-comb -- they may just simply be vocal mimicking of trombones.   The short version on the 8-track cuts during the silence before the song comes back -- where you expect the song to come back, Rambling On starts).

It was very common with the 8-track format (a single piece of tape, 1/4 of an album in length) to change individual songs, sometimes remixing them, editing them, adjusting their pitch, or including alternate versions.  I'm sure you've heard of the alternate Pigs On The Wing from Pink Floyd's Animals, or the extended version of Six o'Clock on Ringo Starr's Ringo.  Sometimes it would be eight bars, sometimes it would be incidentals bits on albums (studio chatter, sound effects, etc.), sometimes whole chunks of songs were removed or repeated.  Once in a while a b-side was included like a bonus track on a CD today.  I remember having The Carpenters' A Song For You on 8-track, with Hurting Each Other being only one verse long and lasting barely a minute and a half.  I also remember having John Denver's Rocky Mountain High, where its suite track Seasons was broken up across the album with no mention that it was a suite.

If a song had to be split over the channels in the old 8-track format, there were several ways of doing it -- most commonly a fade in and fade out ... however sometimes it would just break off cold with a razor edit at the end of a line or phrase, or ideally, if there were a break in the music.  The break in In Held 'Twas in I was before the second verse of Autumn, at the point where the song fades to silence and the organ comes in to introduce the second verse, the most ideal spot in that section.

The running order on the 8-track (which I still have) is:

1.  Quite Right;y So, Magdalene (short), Rambling On
2.  Shine on Brightly, Skip Softly, Wish Me Well
3.  Magdalene (full), In Held 'Twas in I  (Part 1)
4.  In Held 'Twas in I  (Part 2)

Oddly, In Held 'Twas in I  is called In Held 'Twas In I Suite in the program listing, but it doesn't list the titles for the subdivisions.

There's quite a bit of silence around the two tracks on program 3 and before the change to program 4, and the ubiquitous note on 8-tracks "silence to facilitate programming".  The length of tape in the cartridge is about 10:55, and the entire Programs 1 and 3 run slightly slow (very noticeable if you have perfect pitch as I do).  I fired up the old 8-track machine (which still works) and the bass is very punchy but there's no high-end, probably because I played the hell out of this tape back before I updated it with a vinyl and ultimately CD version -- but it might be the technical problems inherent in the 8-track format what with the moving head.  But in my mind, I still hear the break in In Held 'Twas in I  to this day, the way some of us older folks automatically want to get up at the 20 minute mark to flip the vinyl record over.

You can see this more or less matches the 8-track, down to In Held 'Twas in I  being split into two.  The 8-track did not bother to list the subdivisions of In Held 'Twas in I .

My guess is that A&M made a "tape master" version, for all the tape formats, and then modified them from there for each individual format, restoring the running order as close as possible to the vinyl edition, and not repeating a song immediately for the reel and possibly cassette format (was a cassette released?) or placing the same song in the same physical point on the tape in the case of the 8-track.  Paul Williams must have gotten a dub of this. 

Hope this helps shed some sort of light on the mystery.

I do own the reel-to-reel version of Shine on Brightly. It does in fact have Magdalene on both sides. I can't remember and I don't have a working reel-to-reel now but I think the version on side 1 is edited with the ending cut out.
Bill Blankenship

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About the original release Shine On Brightly

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