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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - Friends: Complete Recordings 1969-1973 [3CD]
Artist - Arrival

For those unaware, formed in the late 1960s, Arrival were a ten-strong, London-based close-harmony soft rock group, featuring singers originally from Liverpool, who signed to Decca Records.

They duly scored two sizeable UK hits in 1970 with Friends (No 7) and I Will Survive (No 16) and even appeared on various TV shows and performed at that year’s Isle of Wight Festival.

After a year or so with Decca, Arrival upped sticks to CBS Records, once again releasing an album (and again, self-titled) and several singles for the label.

Sadly, subsequent chart success eluded them and they disbanded in late 1972. Various members joined other projects such as Kokomo, Olympic Runners and Gonzalez, and/or became session musicians or singers.

Friends: Complete Recordings 1969-1973 (due out January 28th, 2022 via Cherry Red Records UK), is a new 3CD set boasting Arrival’s entire recorded output and which revisits and subsequently expands an earlier double-CD set on RPM from 2012.

Compiled with the full involvement of various band members, this new package adds the rare, Japanese-only single ‘Jun (So In Love)’ and the third disc includes several BBC radio sessions recorded by the band during their tenure with Decca – none of these have previously been released.

The triple-CD also boasts sleeve-notes from long-time fan Austin Powell.

CD 1: Arrival (1970)
1. Live
2. Light My Fire
3 Friends
4. No-Good Advice
5. Prove It
6. See The Lord
7. Sit Down And Float
8. Don’t Turn His Love Away
9. Take Me
10. La Virra
11. Not Right Now
12. Hard Road
13. I Will Survive [Bonus Track]
14. Jun (So In Love) [Bonus Track]
15. Be You [Bonus Track]
16. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye [Bonus Track]
17. Lay Down [Bonus Track]

This late ‘60s Liverpool group came together when former NEMS employee Dyan Birch (b. 25 January 1949), teamed up with Paddie McHugh (b. 28 August 1946) and Frank Collins (b. 25 October 1947) of local group the Excels.

A second Merseyside girl, vocalist Carroll Carter (b. 10 June 1948) was added, along with Lloyd Courtney (b. 20 December 1947, Cheshire, England), Don Hume (b. 31 March 1950, Watford, Hertfordshire, England) and Tony O’Malley (b. 15 July 1948).

The septet sent a tape to Decca Records’ A&R representative, Tony Hall, who was so impressed by the group’s sound that he decided to record and manage them.

Their early ‘70s UK Top 20 hits, Friends and I Will Survive, were urgent performances with some excellent vocal work (the latter included here as a bonus track), but kicking things off with both the vibrantly melodic Live and the own unique, poppy rendition of Light My Fire, sure gives the listener a quite magnificent entry into what to expect from this album,; and their music, in general.

Listening to this album again now, sure it is older and a bit of a wondrous nostalgic flashback, but it is a total and utter joy to behold once again from start to finish, that is for sure.

Still containing some of the best songs ever written, complete with simply amazing vocals, Arrival were a really tight band and Dyan Birch has a stunningly powerful, and soulful voice.

Oh, and the lyrics were usually all about the most important things in life which made them all the more listenable.

CD 2: Arrival (1972)
1. Glory Be
2. So It Is Written
3. Not Gonna Worry
4. You, Love And Me
5. Family Tree
6. Part Of My Dream
7. Not Preconceived
8. Have A Drink On Your Father
9. Understanding
10. Weary Sad, Weary Down
11. (Let My Life Be Your) Love Song [Bonus Track]
12. Out Of Desperation [Bonus Track]
13. The Theme From The Heartbreak Kid (You’re Going Far) [Bonus Track]
14. Sweet Summer [Bonus Track]
15. He’s Misstra Know-It-All [Bonus Track]

As alluded to, Arrival was a group that broke the mold in 1970, but seemingly failed to find a comfortable niche as the lines between pop and rock blurred in the early seventies.

Probably one of the best vocal harmony groups of their or any other time, for my money Arrival should have gone onto become better known than they are.

Regardless, their sophomore album was strangely titled the very same as their self-titled first, probably due to having switched labels from Decca to CBS in between), but nonetheless it contained an excellent selection of original tunes, and now comes complete with 5 bonus tracks

Containing such melodic classics as both the uplifting opener Glory Be and the soft rock, funky Gospel-imbibed beauty Not Gonna Worry, other stands out include the emphatically-charged Family Man; where Birch and her very compelling voice, complete with zero auto tune, is an emotional tour de force of brilliance, trust me!

CD 3: BBC Sessions
1. I Knew What You Were Up To*
2. Family Tree*
3. Friends*
4. Light My Fire*
5. World Of Darkness*
6. Don’t Turn His Love Away*
7. Hard Road*
8. Sit Down And Float*
9. Take Me*
10. I Will Survive*
11. Not Right Now*

* All tracks previously unreleased

The 11 tracks that make up the third and final disc, a rather lovely collection of their hits and more entitled BBC Sessions, is perhaps one of my own personal favorites of theirs now.

Listening to them all you can hear the rawness of their live take on each track, the stillness of the studio adding to the overall musical output of overall magical ambiance.

Not one track is out of place, or even a bad copy of their previous work, for each and every one of these previously-unreleased gems is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold.

Official 3CD Purchase Link