Water Into Wine Band - Hill Climbing For Beginners (reissue, UK and USA versions)

Friday 5th July 2002
Water Into Wine Band - Hill Climbing For Beginners (reissue, UK and USA versions)
Water Into Wine Band - Hill Climbing For Beginners (reissue, UK and USA versions)

STYLE: Jesus Music
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Kissing Spell KSCD918

Reviewed by Chris Tozer

And now for something quite unique. Even the veteren Larry Norman, notorious for ever releasing old songs in "new" wine skins, cannot lay claim to have released a double CD featuring TWO different recordings of the same album. That honour has fallen to his British contemporaries, the legendary, unplugged and much lamented Water Into Wine Band. Being one of a mere handful of vinyl recordings of early Jesus Music to resurface on CD is of itself an indicator of something pretty special. Indeed, the 1973 version is a joy to listen to. The three lads on guitars and vocals, abetted by violinist Bill Thorpe, ably ran through their gig list of self-penned humourous melancholy - from the classic "Stranger In The World" to the typesetter's nightmare of "I Used To Be Blind (But Now I'm Short-Sighted)". The album pleased their many fans, but not their accountants. Then fame beckoned the lads to tour America but first they had to placate Word UK's parent company. The bigwigs in Texas were less than happy with the album's production and in 1974 John Pantry was hired to produce a "sharper" recording. Having compared the pair I reckon he came up with the goods. The delightfully rambling clutter of the original metamorphosed into something far more FM radio friendly, though, wisely, the band's original arrangements were retained. Ironically, substantive rumours in recent years spoke of both versions changing hands for tidy sums across the Atlantic. Don't view this double CD release as simply a case study for student producers. Here, twice over, is timeless proof that the dawn of CCM was nothing less than brilliant.

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Reader Comments

Posted by Nancy Morgan in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio @ 14:45 on Jan 19 2012

Trevor, if you ever see this, get in touch. I didn't know my copies of Hillclimbing were worth so much!! How have you been? Long time since the Camp Asbury days. I'll have to try and get a copy of the CD-no longer have a record player.

Reply by Trevor C Sandford in UK @ 11:19 on Jan 30 2012

Hi Nancy.
I have just dug out the portfolio you gave me for my birthday in 1975, featuring an amazing collection of photographs put to the words of "Hill climbing..." Thank you again for that! Also, we have just finished in the studio a digital remaster of previously unreleased material, so maybe we are going to plan for the reunion tour- though I doubt if we'll make it to the US this time....PS you can get the CD online, though there are a couple of bootleg versions, so beware. Happy memories from Camp Asbury, so long ago.

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Posted by Samuel Pyke in Barcelona (Spain) @ 16:45 on Oct 17 2011

the original is the best. why does everything have to be polished up? Hillclimbing was one of the records which helped to wear out the stylus on a then-very-trendy Bang & Olufsen turntable on a houseboat in Shoreham where a rather large bunch of jesus-freaks used to meet. WIW played a gig there which doubtless they'll all remember well. Nice days those...

Posted by Lizzie Clarke in Andover, Hampshire @ 18:09 on May 31 2010

How lovely to find others with fond memories of this lovely music. I first heard it when the band performed outside the dining room at Homerton College in Cambridge in the early 70's. A beautiful summers day and everyone sitting on the grass quite transformed by the music. I have the vinyl but have recently purchased the CD and I listen to it often.

Posted by Trevor Sandford in Kent, England @ 18:27 on May 30 2010

Amazing comments and very encouraging to know that HfB is still listened to. We sung a hymn in church this morning called St Patrick's breastplate ("Christ be in me...."etc) which actually goes quite well to the same tune if you want to try it. Btw, I have asked the guys if they want to do a recording of all the stuff we never laid down, e.g. Juliana etc. Am still waiting for a reply!

Posted by Dave Delozier in Reading, Pennsylvania, US @ 03:36 on Mar 19 2010

I don't know how I stumbled on this site, but to the WIWB gang--Ray, Peter, Trevor, William: I bought the US version LP of Hill Climbing in the mid 70s in college and loved all the songs, but especially the title song. Was going through some rough, lonely times then and hearing the words "Your laughter pulls me on and on" made me cry every time. What a great reminder of God's joy over us. Have that album on my ipod and even still when that line comes on some tears--good tears--flow. Thanks for writing and performing that treasure.

Posted by Ian Hall in Newtonmore, United Kingdom @ 19:27 on Feb 26 2010

Hi Trevor, Pete & Ray

Still remember when you played in Newcastle. I've still got the original vinyl LP & have subsequently picked up the 2 CD's. Am in touch with Granville Sykes & met Bill at Gran's wedding sometime ago. If you're ever up in the Highlands let me know.

Posted by Malcolm Wilson in Oersted, Danmark @ 19:42 on Feb 25 2010

Hi Bev
I play guitar too and I always remember when Pete showed me how to play Stranger after a gig in Bearsden some 30+ years ago. Fmaj7. Cmaj7. Still have my 'notes' inside the album sleeve and still play the song. God bless

Posted by Bev Grove in Maidstone, Kent, UK @ 08:43 on Feb 23 2010

Hi WIWB! I have never forgotten you guys from when I was a besotted teenager listening to you in the 70's & ever wondering since, what has become of you all.
I used to live in Great Shelford & mum & dad used to have you round to dinner sometimes.
I still like to pick up my guitar & sing Stranger in the World or another favourite from your album.
I'll look for you on Facebook!

Posted by John Stanton in Alexandria, Virginia USA @ 21:14 on Nov 30 2009

I really love this lp and have to admit that the final verse of the title track never fails to get me a little choked up.
I found a US copy at a thrift store in Virginia many years ago and was glad to be able to upgrade to the 2-CD version that was released a few years ago. Hopefull, this is a legal reissue and not a bootleg!

Posted by Jon Garvey in Devon @ 17:06 on Oct 17 2009

Just found this, so thought I'd remember myself (and the lovely Cynthia, who clapped between songs!) to you. Many happy memories of shared gigs from early 1972 on. Incidentally, I have two bootleg recordings of "Juliana". Could I sell them for a lot of money to augment my pension??
PS I never knew Ray was that old - obviously he only pretended to be a student at those sociology lectures.

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