Ten The Essential Colletion Frontiers Recods
Produced By: Gary Hughes

Running Time: 2hrs

Release Date: January 27


Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock

Links: Frontiers Ten
Songs: 80%
Sound: 35%
Any new Ten release is anticipated by many, yet scornfully ignored by some others. Ten have a very dedicated fan base, built through years of hard work, but for whatever reason they have also attracted more than their share of derision.
I don't think that's entirely fair, as the band has a back catalogue many artists would be proud of.
In recent times the Ten star has begun to wane, with few live shows and original members leaving the band, leaving frontman/founder Gary Hughes struggling to get things back on course.
2006 looms as an important year for the band, who have two new releases planned plus a hopeful return to the live scene.
I loved Ten's debut album back in 1995. I wasn't convinced by a couple of albums that followed, but I was reconverted when the band turned to heavier climes with Spellbound and continued with the excellent double of Babylon and Far Beyond The World.
2004's Return To Evermore was a return to more melodic fare, but perhaps suffered from not being as sonically intense as past efforts. What the new studio album is set to offer will be revealed in a few months time.
As stated, I'm quite the fan of Gary Hughes. Not only his work with Ten, but his last classic solo album and the Once And Future King opus. Read back through the reviews to see my thoughts.
With those opinions in mind, this review will stand as the odd one out. The Essential Collection is for me, sadly not that essential at all.
This 2-Disc set sees a selection of established Ten songs given a fresh studio treatment, completely re-recorded during 2005, featuring the current line-up of the band (and session drummers used in place of spot that was yet to be filled at time of recording).
Ten's The Essential Collection is broken into Essential Rockers and Essential Ballads.
Each disc features 9 tracks. Yes, the best of Ten is actually only 9.
That seemingly contradictory setting could quite easily have been fixed. The best of Ten - 10 rockers and 10 ballads sounds like a far better scenario and one that should have been considered.
On the rocker disc there is actually 11 tracks. The first two tracks are actually two sets of two tracks joined together. Separate all those and you get 11 tracks for Disc 1. Move the track After The Love Has Gone to the ballads disc, where it wouldn't sound out of place at all, and you get 10 tracks per disc. Too easy! It is what it is, but I do think the compilation would have looked better with 10 tracks per disc.
I'm yet to be blown away or even convinced by any attempt from a band to re-record their own tracks, but I do understand the circumstances that lead them to do so.
However, with all Ten's albums still in release and easily obtainable within the market place, any re-recording of songs with such established credentials as these should at least offer something new for fans or attempt to sound better than the originals did, given updates in studio technology.
In my opinion, the songs re-recorded here not only don't offer anything new, but sound vastly inferior to their original forms.
I have no complaints whatsoever about the songs I'm as much a fan of these tracks as any ardent Ten fan and think the compilation as a whole gathers some of the band's great songs. There are a few others I of course would have like included and perhaps a couple I am less fond of that could have been replaced. But that is a reflection of personal taste.
Gary Hughes has in the past turned in some amazing songs with production qualities any artist would be proud of.
What I am most unhappy about with the Essentials is the sound quality on offer. This is definitely not what you would expect from Ten, Gary Hughes or any artist in 2006.
There are several problems. Most noticeable is the tinny drum sound. Not far behind that is the guitar tone. Then there is the mix, which just isn't good enough to bring it all together.
Go straight to the opening track to hear what I mean. Name Of The Rose builds to it's traditional opening point with a tinny drum intro and then attempts to burst into life with a truly horrible guitar sound that is extremely hollow and sounds buried in the mix.
The drum volume rules over both the bass and guitar sound, but still with that thin and tinny sound. It doesn't improve when the song morphs into Wildest Dreams. The guitar riffing and solo have little effect compared to the bombastic original and the drum pace is pedestrian.
Fear The Force is even worse. The once grand intro now sounds flat and when the lead guitar kick in there is almost no impact whatsoever. The drums sound terrible and don't really match the song.
The drums are even worse on Apparition, which probably has the worst overall sound of all the tracks. A tinny and noisy symbol rides over everything and the mix is nothing short of a complete mess.
It continues into After The Love Has Gone, which originally featured a lush moody wall of sound, but now features a cold guitar sound and a muddy mix. The new choir parts within The Robe also do that song no favors whatsoever.
The Ballads disc is only a little better. I have a soft spot for Gary's ballads and I have previously created my own compilation of them.
Till The End Of Time sounds ok until the drums kick in, and You're In My Heart features a new guitar solo I can live without.
We Rule The Night thankfully has an emotional impact many of the other songs are now missing.
Silent Rain is also enjoyable, but more so because of Gary's vocals than anything else.
In fact, I think the key to the ballad disc being a more enjoyable experience is the fact that it relies more on Gary's moody vocals and some fine keyboard work from the ever reliable Paul Hodson, and requires less of a drum and guitar presence.
As a foot note - funnily enough, I can hear no real difference in the lead vocals throughout this record. Where they even re-recorded for this project?
The Bottom Line
It pains me to talk this way about any release, especially an artist I am genuinely fond of.
But as hard as it is, sometimes I am met with an album that does not make the grade. This should have been handed in to the label as is especially for an artist that is capable of so much better and has previously delivered the goods.
I remain a huge fan of Gary Hughes the artist, but I have to be honest and state that I am very disappointed with this release. Rather than celebrate the music of the band, I feel that this release ultimately does damage to the Ten brand name. As for the score - I love the original songs, but not all the changes made here and the sound mark speaks for itself.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
The Name Of The Rose
The Robe
Never Say Goodbye
Far Beyond The World
Return To Evermore
The Essential Collection

Line Up:
Gary Hughes: Vocals
Chris Francis, John Halliwell: Guitars
Steve McKenna: Bass
Paul Hodson: Keyboards

Essential For Fans Of:
Gary Hughes
Track Listing
Essential Rockers:
The Name Of The Rose/Wildest Dreams
The March Of The Argonauts/Fear The Force
Ten Fathoms Deep
After The Love Has Gone
Remembrance For The Brave/Red
The Robe
Essential Ballads:
Till The End Of Time
You're In My Heart
Yesterday Lies In The Flames
Virtual Reality
We Rule The Night *
Silent Rain
Through The Fire
Sail Away *
--*Best Tracks

25/06/06: Geoff -
Rating: 90
Sorry, but I can't see why there's been so much negativity over this release. I commend Ten for reworking these classics and giving the fans vfm. On the other hand, unless my ears are shot I can't find much wrong with the new versions. I was glad I didn't let the reviews dictate whether I got hold of the album and am all the more pleased for it. Love the new version of Red. Do what I did and give it a go. You won't regret it. Well done Gary Hughes!

15/06/06: |ngenius -
Rating: 50
Well, if you're not a fan, maybe you will enjoy the album, since the basis of the songs is strong enough. Huge fan here, though, and even when I was glad to hear this wasn't just a compilation, my dreaded worst fears came true when I gave the first spin to the album.

The songs were great, so awesome that anything new sounds like it doesn't belong there. The new intro for "After The Love Has Gone", the slower "Valentine" are just two of the new additions that made me frown. On the other hand, the original recordings were at a high level, so no re-arrangements were needed at all. Gary Hughes' vocals sound kinda backgrounded and the album over produced.

I'm not gonna complain about the selected songs, I know there are zillions of other great songs that never would make it to a best of (mainly because it can't be a 8 CD's album). I always loved "Goodnight Saigon" and "You're in My Heart".

Oh, and if you're reading this and you never heard anything by the band, I think that by buying the double live album "Never Say Goodbye" and adding the brilliant next-to-that-one album "Spellbound", you pretty much count on the best of TEN.

02/03/06: Axe-Machine -
Rating: 84
I am in two minds about this release. I do think it admirable that this great band haven't just put out a run-of-the-mill best of CD featuring rereleased versions of what was originally available on the albums. However, production wise, some of this record does suffer. Considering 'Apparition' was on the last record I expected that version to be fully in tact, however as Andrew pointed out the Hihat symbol ruins the overall sound as it rides above everything else, and I have to say that most of the Rockers disc features poorly produced versions of the original classic cuts. However, the ballads disc is a different story. It has rekindled my love for the song 'Yesterday Lies In The Flames' and for the most part has a better sound than the Rockers disc. The new versions of Virtual Reality and Silent Rain are magnificent.
To be honest I think for the most part that this record suffers as Gary has been left to put the pieces together of to much stuff recorded in different studios. The guitar sound on the rockers disc is EXTREMELY muddy, which surely has to be put down to the engineer - Chris Francis - and some of the classic riffs are poorly executed (eg/ Name of the Rose).
As per usual I do have to question Andrew's review a little as while the sound of the Rockers disc perhaps merits a slight bashing, the sound of the Ballads disc does not. Nor do a collection of Tens finest songs deserve a rating of 80% in the Song Rating! This indicates that Change Of Hearts last album is superior to Ten's greatest hits, which is most certainly a laughable comparison.
Hopefully the new album does sound a little better...especially the guitars and drums, but overall a pretty decent CD to play in the car to listen to some of Tens finest tunes.

19/02/06: Todd -
Rating: 95
This is simply brilliant! Re-recorded versions of some of Ten's best tunes with the new Line-up?? Personally, I am not sure why everyone is complaining. The only thing missing for me is the Lonliest place in the world which is my absolute favorite Ten song. Everything else is pretty much here: Great guitar work, rockers with hooks, Ballads with passion. The sound on the first couple of songs sound a little "compressed", but all and all I like the sound. Hodson adds his keyboard flair, the Guitar work is fantastic....I never thought I would hear another guitarist fit as well as Vinny Burns who is still one of my favorite shredders. That said, Francis and Halliwell are both superior on this and Gary is simply Gary....the vocals are superb as always. SMOOTH and passionate. Gary doesn't rely on range, he relies on the hook of the song and SINGS the songs to perfection. I don't like to disagree with Andrew....and I don't too often but he missed on this one. I love that Ten took great songs and offered their current take on them. I wish more bands (especially the bands that have been around and had lineup changes like Kiss or Whitesnake) would update some of their old reliables half this well. It is a great piece of work....I would love to see Pink Cream 69 do this with Readman on some of their early work....there is a thought! Ten Rule the night!

15/02/06: John Ferguson -
Rating: 90
Hmm! I am a huge Ten fan and naturally own all their albums and they are never far from the CD player. I have to say that if Ten had simply put the original versions of all the tracks on this CD, I would not have gone near it. My congratulations to Ten for taking a big chance by re-recording some of their best loved tracks, with NEW arrangements which add a new dimension to the original versions. OK, maybe the production is not 100%, but maybe other artists should try this approach when compiling the normally boring "best of".

12/02/06: Mark -
Rating: 0
Already own the entire Ten catalog, no idea WHY I would buy this CD. Sounds like a rather botched attempt, judging by the reviews.
Night Ranger did the re-recording thing, too. If I already HAVE the tunes, WTF do I need new versions for?

09/02/06: Duffman -
Rating: 40
How can anyone suggest that Andrew would write a review after only 1 listen....what an insult to this site.....i'm with the main review and I think it was generous...i give it 40...this cd is 'lazy and disrespectful' to fans who bought it....sounds like it was recorded over one weekend...

09/02/06: wiljan - blaat
Rating: 60
I've been a fan for almost 7 years and this dissapoints me very much.
Then again i realise it's only a rerecorded songs and in the wait for the new album i stay positive!!

09/02/06: Jerry -
Rating: 50
I gave it the 50% based on the strength of the songs, the production and execution is awful. I'm a long time Ten fan but this is an embarassment to the name. DO NOT BUY THIS ABORTION.

09/02/06: killy -
Rating: 85
same here, I like it and the sound quality is not that bad as everybody mentioned on the board!

08/02/06: Dave C -
Rating: 85
Well, I have always used the reviews on this brilliant website to formulate my 'most wanted' list, and to great credit I am very, very rarely disappointed. Thanks for that !!
I get the impression that the low mark given to this release is based purely on ONE, maybe two listens !!!!
Yes, I admit (having been a TEN fan since their birth) on the first couple of plays I thought, ' what the hell is going on here !!!', but .......
.... we all must appreciate that the band is going through changes at this present moment in time, and to simply put original songs on a 'Best Of' collection would have been both lazy and disrespectful.
So, take the numerous factors into consideration, and give it 5 or 6 plays, and you'll find that once again Gary Hughes has come up with the goods.
This album offers a fresh approach to classic TEN songs, and has been on my stereo for 5 weeks solid (I got the Japanese version).
Admittedly the choice of songs could have been different, but that's all subjective !!!
Well done to Gary and everone involved - lets hope this is the new beginning for an amazing band ... and NOT the demise !!!


Dave C

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