About Ascension Heights (Pure Pleasure) by Top Topham:
At the pimply age of 15, Surrey-born Anthony 'Top' Topham stepped onto stage in May 1963 at the Eel Pie Island Club in Twickenham with his new blues-wailing band - The Yardbirds. A few months later he was replaced with Eric Clapton and after that a certain Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page also joined that volatile crew. When you consider what a staggering influence Cream, Beck and Led Zeppelin have had on everything in rock then and now - it's a damn shame that Top Topham got musically lost in the mix somehow and has never been given the catalyst credit he so deserves.
The album "Ascension Heights" has always been a Ł100+ vinyl rarity, so its reissue here is to be welcomed. But it has also divided Blues purists for years because - for a blues label release - it's a slightly strange record! Firstly it's entirely instrumental - and not in a blues way either. It doesn't seem to quite know what it is. One minute it has the playfulness of Django Reinhardt jazz noodlings on "Spider Drag", the next minute it's Sixties Chet Atkins on "Globetrottin'", the next second its funky Blood, Sweat and Tears without the vocals on the brass filled "Mini-Minor-Mo". It also features Pete Wingfield on Piano. There are even times on "Hot Ginger" where it sounds like a soulful version of Fleetwood Mac's debut album! A heady mix to say the least! It's a varied album, daring in its choices and remember - most are original songs by Topham. "Ascension Heights" is a grower that bears repeated listening.
Attention: Both sides of this LP were cut at 45rpm.
- Top Topham (guitar, percussion)
- Greg Bowen (trumpet)
- Chris Pyne (trombone)
- Alan Skidmore (saxophone)
- Rick Hayward (guitar)
- Pete Wingfield (piano, organ)
- Herbie Flowers (bass)
- Duster Bennett (harmonica)
- Mike Vernon (percussion)
- John Marshall (drums)
Recording: Autumn 1969 at CBS Studios, London.
Production: Mike Vernon
About Pure Pleasure
At the beginning of the 90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the situation was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and, of course, Pure Pleasure all maintained a mutual, unwritten ethical code: we would only use analogue tapes to manufacture records.
During the course of the present vinyl hype, many others have jumped on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source to master from: CDs, LPs, digital files, MP3s – or employed existent tools from the 80s and 90s for manufacturing.
A digital delay is gladly used when cutting a lacquer disc because tape machines with an analogue delay have become quite rare and are therefore expensive. When cutting the lacquer, the audio signal is delayed by one LP revolution against the signal, which controls the cutter head, and for this a digital delay is very often employed. Of course, the resultant sound signal is completely digital and thus only as good as this delay.
We should like to emphasize that Pure Pleasure Records on principle only uses the original master tape as the basis for the entirely analogue cutting of lacquer discs. In addition, the pressing tool is newly manufactured as a matter of principle.
We only employ existing tools for manufacturing if an improved result is not forthcoming, e.g. the title Elvis Is Back, which was mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, or several titles from our Philips Classics series, which in any case Willem Makkee cut from the original masters at the Emil Berliner Studios in the 90s. It goes without saying that we only used the mother and that new tools were made for our production.
To put it in a nutshell: we can ensure you that our releases are free from any kind of digital effects and that the lacquer discs are newly cut.