For a landmark album by a still popular artist Electric Warrior has had a fairly patchy release history on CD. There at leaset 4 different versions, many of them not really getting close to the warm sensi-sexual sound of the original vinyl and/or indifferent artwork. This guide aims to tell you about the two that are worth your Bolan dollars.
First off it's worth mentioning that most Japanese CDs are very good but as I've not heard a Japanese Electric Warrior I can't comment. I have seen and listened to all the versions released or made available in the UK and this is my advice.
Probably the first CD release (circa 1986) was in the US on Reprise (the land of Bang a Gong) and is still worth having today. It has a full sound and comes with lyrics, a cropped version of the LP poster, and some appreciative notes at the end of an 8 page booklet. Like most 80's CDs it can seem a bit stark compared with the 'luxurious' packaging we are used to today, but it's all there and no 'work in progress' (ie unfinished) bonus tracks to spoil it. Although OOP now it was widely available in UK record shops (remember them?) during the 90's.
Further releases on Castle (terrible empty sound and poor artwork) and Universal A&M (clinical CD sound and only front artwork) came during the 90's until with a big fanfare 30th anniversary Tony Visconti remastered de luxe special appeared in 2001. It was an lamentable affair though, early prints were withdrawn because of a 20 second drop out in the first track that the record company tried to pass off as being what Visconti had intended (yes they really did). Apart from poor artwork, (I mean photos of a defaced (drawn on) picture inner sleeve, clean copies aren't hard to find if you must do it that way) the reissued CD often had skipping problems making it difficult to listen to. The only redeeming feature is a very early full band version of 'Get It On', you can hear the band warming up and getting into the groove as the song progresses. Recognise it by the P date (2001) on the slip case and walk by.
And that appeared to be that, until a full flown Electric Warrior celebration escaped from A&M in 2012, apparently delayed from the 40th anniversary in 2011. If the delay was to get it just right they did well because this is the one to get. It uses the Visconti 2001 remaster but this time the sound is superb, bonus tracks are the 1971 'orphan b-sides' in their original as released 7" form (for the first time in one case, although annoyingly the quiet studio chat before the songs get going is levelled up) and nothing else, artwork is complete (forgive the cropped poster that takes off the top of Mickey Finn's head) proper inner sleeve pictures and both sides of the record label, the picture on the CD and Roger Dean's handwritten Fly label below the CD tray. You can buy this CD as part of a super deluxe bits and pieces set (including 2nd CD of leftovers, coaster and DVD of TV clips) or as the standalone CD described here.
Incidentally the double LP release for 2012 comprises the Visconti 2001 remaster and a second LP of different bits and pieces from the 2001 CD rearranged and stuck together by A N Other and his mate. You will notice the absence of the velvet hand of menthol Tony on this one.