UK LP: GTO, GTLP 041
UK CASSETTE: GTO, GTMC 041
Released 1 May 1980
A1. Straight Lines 5.12
A2. Sanctuary 4.16
A3. A Map of You 3.51
A4. Science 3.21
A5. On Islands 4.25
B6. This World of Water 3.40
B7. Living by Numbers 3.30
B8. Dead Fish (Don't Swim Home) 5.27
B9. Adventures 3.54
B10. The Safe Side 3.11
Several CD releases exist with the standard album tracks & bonus tracks as follows:
EUROPEAN CD: GTO 474616 2
EUROPEAN "REWIND" CD: GTO 477353 2
Released April 1994
11. Missing Persons (inc Tell Me Something New) 5.45
12. She's a Magazine 4.21
13. Sad Films 2.42
JAPANESE CD: Sony/Epic ESCA 7850
Released 11 Jan 2001
11. Missing Persons (inc Tell Me Something New) 5.45
12. She's a Magazine 4.16
13. Chik Musik 2.12
14. Magazine Musik 1.03
15. Sad Films 2.44
16. Under Attack 4.10
17. And 4.39
UK CD: Edsel EDCD 678 (titled 'From A to B... plus')
Released 29 Jan 2001
11. Sad Films 2.41
12. Missing Persons 3.29
13. Tell Me Something New 2.10
14. She's a Magazine 4.16
15. Chik Musik 2.10
16. Magazine Musik 0.54
UK CD: Cherry Red CDLEMD 182 (2CD set combined with 'Anywhere')
Released 17 Jan 2011
11. She's a Magazine 4.17
12. Chik Musik 2.15
13. Magazine Musik 1.01
14. Missing Persons 3.30
15. Tell Me Something New 2.12
16. Sad Films 2.41
Track Information / Packaging...
The original LP (GTLP 041) and cassette (GTMC 041) were released in May 1980, containing 10 tracks, 5 tracks per side. There are no known other variations on the LP/cassette format. The LP did include an inner sleeve on initial batches, one side being the "clock" photo of the band, the other being the lyrics in red typeface above a photo of the band, wind-swept on a beach. Some copies have a "removable" sticker on the front cover advertising the singles Sanctuary, Living By Numbers, and World of Water.
In April 1994 the album appeared for the first time on CD via two European CD releases, one badged with the original GTO logo (GTO 474616 2), and the other with a Rewind logo (GTO 477353 2). Other than these small packaging differences the releases appear identical (though I don't own the Rewind version so cannot confirm this). Both releases contain 3 bonus tracks not included on the original album; Missing Persons (B side to World of Water), She's a Magazine (B side to Sanctuary) and Sad Films (B side to Living By Numbers). Strictly speaking there are actually 4 bonus tracks as Missing Persons has the track Tell Me Something New segued onto it. This track is treated inconsistently throughout the different releases, sometimes not being credited at all and other times being included as a separate track. The CD comes with a nice quad-fold booklet which unfolds to present artwork identical to the inner sleeve of the original LP. Some copies of the GTO release had a sticker on the front, in French, advertising the single On Islands - doubtless because the track got to no. 1 in the French charts.
In January 2001 two further CD variants appeared in quick succession. These are most notable because both contain additional bonus tracks beyond the original 1994 releases. The Japanese release appeared first (Sony/Epic ESCA 7850) and again presents the Missing Persons / Tell Me Something New combo as a single track, followed by She's A Magazine. The first of the additional tracks then appear, two short instrumental pieces Chik Musik and Magazine Musik which were both on the original Sanctuary single B side with She's a Magazine. Sad Films is included next, and finally two more new tracks Under Attack and 'And'. These tracks previously only appeared on the cassette release of Anywhere. Hence with a whopping 7 bonus tracks (8 if you treat Tell Me Something New as a separate track) this release is the most defintive release of From A to B so far. The only slight downside is the booklet which is similar in format to the 1994 release, however the lyrics side does not include the beach-photo background of the band hence is not as authentic. There is a second, slighty smaller, black and white booklet included which contains the lyrics in Japanese. The rear sleeve puts a "Bonus tracks for Japan Only" asterisk next to 'Chik Musik' and 'Magazine Musik', a situation which would remain true for only a short period...
Just a couple of weeks after the Japanese release, another CD appeared in the UK titled 'From A to B... plus" (Edsel EDCD 678). I haven't actually got this release so cannot confirm details of the packaging, though there are images in the albums gallery which show that the sleeve artwork is quite different to any previous release. In terms of bonus tracks there are 6, though that is slightly misleading as it treats Tell Me Something New as a separate track. Hence this release is two tracks shy of the Japanese complement, those tracks being Under Attack and 'And'. Also notable is that Sad Films appears as the first of the bonus tracks.
With time all these CD variants became scarce and started to attract high prices on the 2nd hand market, with some sellers asking over 100 UK pounds.
In January 2011 a 4th CD variant appeared on the UK label Cherry Red (CDLEMD 182). This time From A to B is packaged together with Anywhere as a 2CD set. From A to B has an identical set of bonus tracks as the "plus" version, however the tracks are presented in a different order. Missing Persons is tagged "clean version" however there seems to be no difference to other available versions of the track. The main omissions are Under Attack and 'And' which remain unique to the Japanese release. The packaging is based on a background of Anywhere, overlaid with the two album covers. There is an extensive booklet with copious notes on the band and its output. The graphic used for From A to B on this release is slightly mysterious, as it is variation on the "plus" cover which had never been seen previously.
CD Remastering / Sound Quality...
The over-riding opinion on all of the From A to B CDs is that the sound quality is excellent. However, each release is slightly different - primarily in terms of volume. The wave images can be compared in the Misc Gallery and form the basis of much of the comment here.
The 1994 GTO release is slightly quieter than other versions. It is suspected that this version has had the least remastering and is, therefore, potentially the closest representation of the original master tape. And closest in sound to the original vinyl LP. The 2001 "plus" release seems to have had the volume boosted significantly. Indeed the wave form suggests that the boost has gone beyond a simple normalisation of the volume to 100%, and this may be an early example of the remastering technique which has become popularly known as "loudness wars". The 2001 Japanese release is very similar to the 1994 release hence is very similar in terms of sound quality. The 2011 Cherry Red wave forms look very similar to the 2001 "plus" release hence the same "loudness" approach seems to have been adopted. Which CD version you prefer will largely depend on the listening situation.
As previously mentioned, the pervasive opinion seems to be that they all sound great. However, the original 1994 release may well sound more refined in ideal listening circumstances, but for on-the-move situations the other releases (especially the "plus" and Cherry Red releases) will likely sound clearer and more dynamic.
Tony once described this album in an interview as "rudimentary", and "a collection of separate sessions, it wasn't recorded as an album", and said the follow up album, Anywhere, was his favourite album.
Personally though, I will always consider this to be the classic NM album. It contains four strong singles (hits, though not huge sellers) which all hold their own still today. Amazingly though, there is no filler. As we have seen, one or two of the non-singles on the album are actually as good if not even better than the single releases.
The quality is very high throughout, with solid musicianship and fresh ideas. It would turn out to be the most 'band' sounding material they would record too, as opposed to a studio creation (though I'm not necessarily suggesting that's better).
It's very advanced indeed for late 1979/ early 1980, and Tony manages to combine lovely acoustic sounds and a mastery of new electronics and recording effects. His synths are more 'natural' sounding and better developed than what other artists were doing back then, and there is a warmth and that beautiful sad atmosphere here which no one else can do, and a refreshing lack of gimmickry.
The musik is melodious and grown up. Tony never went in for copying other bands or artists (Chik Music the obvious exception), or allowed his musik to be overtly influenced by others. But this is certainly an influential album, and one which would showcase Tony's skills as a producer as well as electronic music pioneer.
The lyrics are intelligent and generally centre around alienation and mankind's inability to cope in the modern world. Subjects too deep for most of his contemporaries - no sci-fi here! Tony gives an excellent vocal performance too - perfect for the songs. He's English and doesn't sing in an American accent, which is to be applauded; nor does he go for ridiculous 'vocal gymnastic' styles (like almost everyone these days).
The image conscious pop buying audience never really got their heads around this album though, and it remained very much underrated and ignored, which is a big shame. Tony and the lads ignored fashion, image and egos, and concentrated solely on the music. Maybe if they had got into dressing up, exploring their feminine side a bit (make up, hairdos etc), and taken lessons in how to look good on TV, things just might have turned out differently? And we might still have them on the circuit today, performing versions of these classics alongside new material...
A classic example of how music really hasn't evolved much since back in the creative days of 1979-81; not when you consider that the same period of time previous to then would have been the early 1950s(!) Well, certainly it's changed, but not for the better.
I couldn't put it into words how much I love this album, but the fact that I'm still playing it over 25 years later says it all. There are not many albums I could say I still play regularly after 25 years.