Would the real Gilbert O’Sullivan please stand up? When peering at his sophomore album, Back to Front, potential purchasers back in 1972 didn’t see the same nostalgic figure of the previous year’s Himself. Gone was the chap in his flat cap, pudding-basin haircut and jacket. In his place was a tanned, rather more mainstream-looking fellow, shirt open and chest hair exposed. But the opening “Intro” in which the singer implored listeners to sit back, relax and enjoy the album, was proof positive that the lovably eccentric O’Sullivan hadn’t changed that much despite his new fashions. (Listeners would be rewarded with outros at the ends of both Side One and Side Two of the original vinyl!)
The Salvo label has remastered Back to Front as the second title in its ongoing O’Sullivan reissue program, due February 21. The album (his first and only U.S. chart-topper, and also No. 1 in the U.K.) has been expanded with three bonus tracks, including the international smash “Alone Again (Naturally)” and the fan favorite U.K. single hit “Ooh Wakka Do Wakka Day.” “Alone Again (Naturally)” O’Sullivan’s calling card, needs no introduction here, but if you’d like one anyway, we kindly direct you to our initial posting about Salvo’s acquisition of his catalogue. “Alone” was added to the U.S. edition of O’Sullivan’s debut album Himself, but was a single-only release in the U.K., hence its inclusion as a bonus track here.
Back to Front was a hot seller largely on the strength of its single “Clair,” which was kept only from pole position by Carly Simon and that mysterious man who probably thinks her song was about him. “Clair” was written by O’Sullivan for the daughter of his then-manager Gordon Mills, an ode to a young girl from her Uncle Ray (or Raymond O’Sullivan, Gilbert’s real name). O’Sullivan’s earnest delivery and the irresistible melody add up to a likable and lighthearted song from a rather less cynical time. Almost as infectious as “Clair” is another track off Back to Front, the toe-tapping “Who Was It.” It was also recorded by Norman “Hurricane” Smith prior to O’Sullivan’s own rendition, and was also covered by Andy Williams.
Hit the jump for more, including the track listing with discographical info, plus a pre-order link!
Back to Front offers the usual musical variety expected of an O’Sullivan album, from music hall to straightforward balladry to offbeat pop. The third and final bonus track is “Save It,” the B-side of “Alone Again” in both the United States and United Kingdom. In the U.S., “Ooh Wakka Do” was the B-side of “Clair.” In the U.K., where “Ooh Wakka Do” was the A-side, the album track “But I’m Not” was the flip.
You can savor the work of a true pop individualist when Salvo’s expanded Back to Front arrives in stores on February 21. You can pre-order at the link below!
Gilbert O’Sullivan, Back to Front (Salvo Music, 2012)
- I Hope You ll Stay
- In My Hole
- That’s Love
- Can I Go With You
- But I’m Not
- I’m In Love With You
- Who Was It
- What Could Be Nicer
- Out Of The Question
- The Golden Rule
- I’m Leaving
- Alone Again (Naturally) [single]
- Save It [b-side]
- Ooh Wakka Do Wakka Day [single]
Tracks 1-14 from Back to Front, MAM LP SS-502 (U.K.)/MAM-5 (U.S.), 1972
Tracks 15-16 from MAM single 66 (U.K.)/3619 (U.S.), 1972
Track 17 from MAM single 78 (U.K.)/3626 (U.S.), 1972