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January 2006



Well who's a lucky boy then? Yes, me me me. I went to Japan . Just before the end of 2005. Only for a few short days but this was almost too exciting for me. It was a one off chance (possibly my only ever chance) to go and I took it. Japan , in vinyl terms, is this mythical museum-like place. All the folks I know who have been and gone there already have raved about all the record shops. And now it was my turn to go see. And what a bonkers place. I went to Tokyo , and the various odd places within that vast urban cityscape - Shibuya, Shinjuku, Shimokitazawa, Ginza , Snoopytown and other funny areas I can't remember the names of. Shimokitazawa is a very small suburb of Tokyo but still manages to cram in 26 lecord shops. Yes, that's 26 shops, and there's even a free lecord shop map which I have carefully scanned for you.

And so yes, I got to Tokyo , got to grips with travel, and ventured out with an empty lecord bag to find all sorts of vinyl madness awaiting me. One thing that came to my immediate attention is that you go into a good record shop and they have incredible vinyl everywhere. All super rare stuff. And if you go in the same shop the next day there are even more super rare stuff that has obviously appeared over night. The other thing worth pointing out is that all their prices are pretty spot on. Few bargains are to be had - or at least in the time I had available. Most of my trip was spent window shopping, going ooh look, there's that incredible LP that I have never seen before, and ooh look, it's £600. I'll get my coat. As a result only a few of the babies below are from Japan . Yes, I have been trading elsewhere as usual. But before I get on with the records, I should really thank the collectors who advised me of vinyl shopping and places to go before I even got to Japan - Pete Fowler, Martin Karminsky and Fred Deakin. I shall now continue...

WE COULD BE FLYING - KAREN KROG:
First up is a jazz record. This is a lovely thing, and was purchased in Tokyo. Karen has been on these pages before, and she's popular in the Far East and in my front room. This is the original Japanese Phillips issue from the time, and even comes with funny pictures of Karen at various Japanese temples with her big hair. This LP is an acquired taste, like most of her work, but this one has always been well out of my price range, until I found this one which was, in my opinion, criminally undervalued. In amongst all the groovy fusion lark on this LP there is a cover version of a Joni Mitchel track which I was not expecting at all. I was also not expecting a naked man on the front cover either.

 

THE SET - SVEN LIBAEK:
We shall carry on with the nude cover art and now examine this new baby. "The Set" by the looks of it were a small bunch of nudey hippy religious types, and this is the soundtrack to a 1971 movie all about them and their joyful nakedness. Well it's something like that I reckon. I really dig those tan lines too. And you really cannot beat the Australian ocean when it isn't box jellyfish season. This LP is a right bugger to find, but worth it for the sweet vocal opening track alone. As for the rest, it's the usual spooky vibes led Libaek jazz grooves that grow on you the more you listen. You do have to give it a bit of time though and listen very carefully, as it's all a bit subtle.

 

AN ELECTRONIC SCIENCE LIBRARY LP BY MOGGI:
As I am sure you know, Moggi is really Pierro Umiliani. It's one of his many pseudonyms. Unfortunately this LP managed to avoid being in the all new Music Library book which you should have already bought by now, however I didn't have it at the time and neither did anyone else I know. Which is a bit of a shame. It's a great and quite groovy moogy LP issued on Umiliani's own label known as Omicron. LPs on this label are few and far between and worth tracking down most of the time. I love this LP not only because of the naive oddness of the sounds and experiments, but also because there is a giant knob on the front cover. And it's holding up some meat. All very unusual.

 

THEMES AND VARIATIONS - SAM SKLAIR:
So there I was, going through more LPs from YTV (see last recommendations) and this boring looking little LP cropped up. It's my turn for spin it said to me, and by the looks of it, it had never been spun before. I begrudgingly popped it on the turntable and the room - the whole house in fact was transformed into this temple of Sam Sklair. I know little of him apart from his library activity, Confessions composing and that he had a bit of an obsession with African composing and instrumentation. I think he got into stuff like Kwelas and that. Anyway, this is not part of his African obsession, no, this is all very different, quite awesome - gentle, pretty, ethereal. Not like a library record at all.

 

LA DERNIER FEMME - PHILLIPE SARDE:
This is not a groovy soundtrack. It's quite quiet, melodic and sad. I mean just look at the title, it must be sad. And all played in that mid 1970s almost disco style. Depardieu is in the film, and many of his early films involved nudity or something along those lines, I mean have you seen Maitresse?? I would if I were you. It's filthy. I first saw this soundtrack for sale at a film fayre near Westminster Abbey about ten years ago. I didn't buy it then because nearly all film records were expensive in those days and I had bugger all money. These days things have changed dramatically. I still have bugger all funds, but this was less than a tenner. By the way, the front cover art, involving the screaming Depardieu in profile is all in the shape of a woman's bits.

 

THIS MICHEL SARDABY LP:
For many years this LP, or rather the track "Welcome New Warmth" has been a classic dancefloor thing, especially in old jazz London. Which if you ask me is not that jazzy at the moment. OK. I now have the LP, and I am thrilled - it's a charming rhodes based jazz exercise. I mean this is a really lovely LP all the way through, you could play it just about anywhere and it would go down really well. Possibly not in " a supermarket though. Or in a garage. And thinking about it, I've never been at a place / club where anyone has "dropped" this tune and then everyone has gone mental. I'm sure people have experienced this phenomenon, but unfortunately I haven't. I'll just have to imagine what it's like.

 

AN ELEPHANT CALLED SLOWLY - HOWARD SHORE:
This is the kind of groovy old LP I am now swooping on...it used to be £50, now it's about £15. Bloody marvellous if you ask me. It's like Christmas all the time some of the time. I think this is a great listen all the way through. We all know the hip hoppy / beat moment on this LP but it also moves into jazz and exotic oddness seamlessly. I'm really glad I didn't sell my granny for one back in the expensive days of breakbeat vinyl. I bought this off an old mate of mine, online. He was quietly gutted that it sold to me for bugger all. I reckon I'd have thought exactly the same if it was me selling it for less than I wanted. I believe this LP has really had its day for many people, but for me, it is enjoying a new dawn and has quite a long and fun morning ahead. After that I'm not sure.

 

UNIDENTIFIED CAR BOOT THING:
I was handed this by someone in Glasgow when I was djing. It is a mystery reel of music, one track that's 29 minutes. It was found in a box of old music reels and super 8mm porn. The guy who bought it took it home, played it before he was going to erase it and realised it was extremely groovy and worthy of spreading around. Good idea I think. Yes, the 29 minutes is a journey through a proggy groovy oddy sleazy thing, with Hammond, fuzz and drums. Simple and effective. Loads of reverb too. There is a sore temptation to knock this out as a limited 12. I shall keep myself informed.

 

CHECKMATE - SHELLY MANN BLAH BLAH:
Hi there. My name is Doug McClure. You may remember me from great LPs like Checkmate, based on an American cop show or something like that. Bloody great modal jazz here. I mean it's even got those really long and a touch boring intellectual jazz sleevenotes explaining every track in minute detail and not forgetting all the time signatures too. But in amongst all this abundant info is the news that this is a genuine modal LP. I mean they explain it about ten times. I bought this originally from Rays Jazz in Shaftesbury Avenue. It was one of those days where I had seen it on the wall in Dean Street Records for loads of cash, then walked down to Rays and found it in the West Coast section for about six quid. I hadn't listened to it for years. And I don't know why I started listening again, but it really is a pleasure, and you cannot beat subtle, repetitive jazz. This is a UK pressing by the way. And that really is Doug McClure.

 

GOOD VIBRATIONS - HUGO MONTENEGRO:
I thought I was over easy listening donkeys years ago. And there I was in North London. quietly flicking through an easy section and up pops this little fella. Of all the Montenegro LPs out there I have never seen this before. Amazing really I thought. Must be quite rare I foolishly thought. British pressing and bloody marvellous it is too, with Hugo on his usual groovy, hip and happening form. Great versions of Tony's Theme, Lady in Cement and even a cover of Rosemary's Baby. Blimey. Who'd have thought eh?

 

SONGS AND STORIES FROM THE CENTRE:
This is an arts funded LP. There are 500 hand numbered copies of it out there. The production values are very high no doubt because of the arts funding. It comes with a printed hard inner sleeve, a very large paper booklet thingy and a CD too. Each CD is also painstakingly hand numbered. The recordings here go back to 2003 and are from - amongst other places - The Edenham Day Centre. Most contributors have a dementia of undiagnosed type. The other contributors have dementias that have been indentified but still remain mysterious. This LP is quite brilliant for reasons I cannot explain too well. Some of the letters and writings remind me very much of Dirty Fan Male, but without all the sex. There is superb classical oddness here, some great speeches too. And to me this is a rare investment. You may find more at www.trebusprojects.org

 

KOMEDA - LE DEPART:
The only place this full LP was pressed was in Japan in 1999, and they didn't tell anyone at all or sell any to anyone else. And all copies disappeared in minutes before anyone else could get one. I'd had a big tizz at the time and I'd forgotten all about it until I pulled it from the racks in a shop called Yellow Pop in Shimokitazawa. This has a killer international jazz line up (even includes Don Cherry), has very heavy moments, mixes in weirdy French speeches and even plonks some sad sexy vocals in there. Don't mind the cover either, although the cover on the little original ep is a bit better (and so is the sound quality). But it's not bad and it's quite made in places too. Nice car.

 

VARIOUS: Yes, this is the name of the artist / collective here. I was given this weird little single. It says various on it and that's about it. There are two tracks not called various but one of the tracks is called home. A wonderfully warm, folky and odd modern thing this is. And on red vinyl too. I believe there have been other singles, but what I have heard is not as fine as this one called "home". I emailed them asking for more information and got bugger all back. I reckon funny things may happen to various this year. It's different and strangely commercial in a teeny tiny way. I play this little single out most places I have to. No one has yet come up and asked about it, which I have found suprising..

 

THE INFERNO OF FIRST LOVE - TORU TAKEMITSU:
I never thought I would find one of these little babies. And then I did, in a sweet little rock shop on floor three of a building in Shinjuku and about 8pm. Lots of shops are on upper floors and open late. Anyway, this is a soundtrack, Japanese only, and pressed on the directors own label. The director is Shuji Terayama, a very cult creative sort, responsible for other avant garde celluloid masterpieces such as Emperor Tomato Ketchup which I have never seen. As with many Japanese OSTs there is spoken word, and much silence - but in between this there are moment of blissful choral magic that melt my little beating heart. Quite incredible. I had to get the nice man in the shop to translate the cover for me and everything. Yes, what a nice maan.

 



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