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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - Howard Jones: The 12” Album + 12”ers Vol. 2
Artist - Howard Jones

For those not in the know, The 12” Album was originally released on vinyl only between his first two studio albums (Human’s Lib and Dream Into Action) for the UK and European market in 1984 (and later on CD in 1988).

The 12” Album was Jones’ first album to feature 12” mixes and was once again produced by Rupert Hine and mixed by Stephen W Tayler, who also mixed Jones’ first two studio albums. The album was recorded and mixed at Farmyard Studios in England.

The album peaked at number 15, spent 33 weeks in the UK Chart and was certified Gold selling in excess of 100,000 copies. For the first time, Jones’ music became part of a mix culture with The 12″ Album containing six remixed tracks, each one segued into the next.

Later In 1984, The 12” Album was released in Japan as Howard Jones’ 12”ers, which has the same tracks as The 12” Album, but sequenced in flipped order, starting with Like To Get To Know You Well on side one, and Always Asking Questions on side two.

Following on from Howard’s success in Japan, Warner Music in Japan then released Howard Jones 12”ers Vol 2 a compilation of 12” versions taking in tracks from both the Human’s Lib and Dream Into Action albums.

Remastered from the original master tapes, and with regard disc one’s The 12” Album, four of the tracks on this brand new The 12” Album + 12″ers Vol. 2 2CD set (coming out March 25th, 2022 via Cherry Red Records) are previously unreleased by Cherry Red on CD in this remastered format.

The second disc features the first official release of 12”ers Vol 2 outside of Japan and South Korea.

Complete with and inner sleeve contains new sleeve notes by Stephen W. Tayler (who mixed the tracks on The 12” Album and 12”ers Vol 2) and Glenn Kelly plus rare imagery.

CD 1 – The 12” Album
1. Always Asking Questions* (4.28)
2. New Song (New Version)* (5.24)
3. What Is Love? (Extended Mix) (6.35)
4. Like To Get To Know You Well (International Mix) (7.34)
5. Pearl In The Shell (Extended Mix)* (6.39)
6. Total Conditioning* (6.59)

* Previously unreleased remastered on CD

Weirdly, and by complete accident, I was only just last week listening to both the Japanese vinyl editions of both these albums (yes, complete with OBI’s, if you were wondering), and loved every second of hearing them both in the hear and now.

For that is what music from ’80s artists such as Howard Jones still does to the human soul here in 2022. It lifts, in enlightens. It exhilarates and changes you mood in seconds of hearing the opening bars of any such similar ’80s pop/synth songs.

Anyway, personal feelings (to a point) aside, British singer/songwriter Howard Jones was a glinting jewel caught in the avalanche of synthesized music that lovingly overwhelmed the pop scene in the ’80s.

Jones had a true gift for crafting gleaming melodic hooks that make his hits some of the most memorable of the era. He used synthesizers not because they were in, but because he could use them to create a delicious soundscape that couldn’t be created without them.

Indeed, later in his career, he proved that he didn’t need the electronics to write compelling pop music, but that’s another story for another day.

This 12″ Album was released in support of his 1984 effort Humans Lib and includes remixes of four of the hits from that record, including a previously unreleased at-the-time Extended Mix of Pearl in the Shell and a New Version of the now-classic New Song (which features a reworked bass run and a new piano solo, if you were curious).

It also introduced the catchy Always Asking Questions to those passing by and not all-knowing about the great man and the International Mix of Like to Get to Know You Well (which was to appear on his next album, Dreams Into Action) is given an appealing reggae-flavored, steel band backing here.

Interestingly enough, all of the songs on the record are connected as if each side were a long three-song medley and while some of the extended mixes are extended beyond their welcome (notably Total Conditioning), the record percolates with the creative spirit that marked Jones’ work throughout the ’80s.

CD 2 – 12″ers Vol. 2
1. Things Can Only Get Better (Extended Mix) (7.27)
2. You Jazzy Nork! (4.52)
3. Life In One Day (Part 2) (7.12)
4. Look Mama R.H. Version) (AKA UK Extended Version) (9.04)
5. Bounce Right Back (Extended Version) (AKA Cause & Effect Remix) (7.27)
6. Hide And Seek (Extended Mix) (8.36)

The second disc, 12″ers Vol. 2 continues the trend of Howard Jones being a musical master when it came to creating 12″ mixes (let alone his regular music, of course), for tracks such as the quite vibrantly brilliant Bounce Right Back (Extended Version) AKA Cause & Effect Remix is finally, and legitimately included!

On the original vinyl release of 12”ers Vol 2, the track listing stated that the extended mix of Bounce Right Back (AKA Cause & Howard Jones Effect Remix) was used.

However, due to an issue relating to the length of the track and the space available on the vinyl, the 7” mix was used instead. This release see’s the extended version as originally intended.

The Extended Mix of Hide And Seek brings with it a swarm of new atmospherics, the lesser known You Jazzy Nork! (a reworked instrumental version of Why Look for the Keyan) an uncut gem, and the disc opener Things Can Only Get Better (Extended Mix) really brings the soul warming musical milkshake to the yard!

With not one filler, and with each track expertly chosen, each remix personal and heartfelt to Howard, a lot of these tracks open up wormholes for your brain to sink into; not quite sure what the original song was, but soon enough you sonically grab onto something and you are back in the room!

Official 2CD Purchase Link