It has been a busy few months. Yeah like really busy. Not a lot of it to do with records, but there was a good collection of weird free jazz that appeared in London, and I bought a few of the albums that surfaced. On reflection I’m not sure why I did as many were quite wrong for me, a little too squeaky for my ears, although one album did have a man playing piano and improvising with a parrot. Or it might have been the other way round. Other music this time has come from other places, like other record shops.
Unbelievably odd record this one. The insert sheet that comes with it is even more bizarre. I shall try and explain. One side it’s an album of all this bloke’s electro acoustic inventions, one of which is a bike wheel, another is a Synthi lookey-likey machine with less knobs and no suitcase. The other side is a recording based on a doorbell, and his invention is this doorbell thing and it’s all about not answering the door because the person outside the door might just kill you. I was talking to a bloke called Stuart Aitken about this album and playing bits of it to him, and he cunningly coined the term “Insider Music” as the bloke is scared to open the door and go out.
Nine And A half Weeks: Even shocked myself here.
The Tom Dissivelt EP:
British copy of this charming little four track record from 1960 is something that has illuded me for years. Now I have one, bought on ebay for less than 20 quid. So I took all the other money I had put aside for buying one of these and spent it on a small bar of choc.
Wheels – Frode Thingness:
This is all about the Armadillo on the front and the really odd electro trombone thing on the first track. It actually sounds like something Braun would make.
This legendary lost New York documentary has a very good vinyl soundtrack. Not sure if it’s a bootleg or what, but it’s four extremely full sides of classic NYC madness, oddness and general good time musical optimism. I have had trouble not listening and now really wish I had a time machine and often struggle to remember which great tracks are on which great side.
The genius called David Cunningham was behind this album, released on his own label called Piano. The idea behind the album is simple, and I interpret it as playing simple music until a mistake is made and then follow the mistake until another mistake is made and so it goes. The results are trance inducing, slightly industrial, classical and give you the impression of nursing homes and possible torture, with odd moments reminiscent of a child playing a milk bottle with a pencil in a really annoying way. There is also more bass on these recordings than I first expected. Cunningham is my current musical hero.
Half And Half:
Surely this tune must be a jazz standard, and I’m sure there are people out there who collect covers of this superb, hooky composition. I’m not sure I’m one of them, but I now have three versions, this particular one happens to be on a 7” single and the best bit about it is that it’s played on the tuba, which suits the track no end. The recording dates from the early 80s, a fact confirmed by the outfit worn by the woman who is playing the tuba. I think it’s wise we don’t start up a conversation about how well she blows.
Ronnie Hazlehurst does library:
How or why this came about I have no idea, but it sounds good all the way through, like a bus ride through Ronnie’s musical phrase book, as the album unravels you go oooh it’s Some Mother Do ‘Ave ‘Em and stuff like that. And it goes a bit jazzy / waltzy every now and again which I have found to be almost unbearably exciting.
There was no way I was going to leave this record in the shop.
The New Jazzman Single:
Not sure if this is actually the new one, but I did phone up Gerald and say “you clever bastard” and stuff like that to him when I heard it. That’s because he’s managed to find the original version of I Believe In Miracles by this bloke called Mark Capanni which was only issued as a promo or test pressing or something, and has now issued it properly. It has to be one of the loveliest summer records I have heard in a while, and makes you think of pub gardens and pleasant evenings and stuff like that. It also confuses you a bit because you’re so used to only knowing the Jackson Sisters one and this is not that one.
A David Bedford Album:
No, it’s not David Bedford the famous red sock wearing long distance runner, it’s another one. This David Beford makes music, or rather sounds and some noise with girls in choirs and what sounds like a tool box. It all makes for very good late night listening, especially when I am alone and with the resident mouse who scuttles up the inside of the wall and still avoids capture.
The Soundtrack by Fred Frith:
What a great name. And what a funny double LP, all over the place it is. But then you’d expect that from anyone associated with Henry Cow. I keep coming across them all the time at the moment, which must be some sort of musical destiny. Another thing like this is that Rags LP from the last Recommended list, which is also Henry Cow related.
A Strange French Film Record:
I’d never come across this before, and thought that it looked a bit different, more like a late 60s show tunes or Brecht album. Apparently the film is all about a man who feeds his family dead cats. The music is very much like that children’s album on MPI, but with strange adult bits and a choir. And crap oompah bit which I try and ignore, although my wife did come in the other day when it was going all oompha and gave me a worrying stare. I deliberately left the oompah music playing, hoping she would then leave the room thinking I’d really lost it at last, and then she could start worrying about which local institution she could drop me at in the morning.
If you have a record that you are enjoying at the moment, please write up a brief explanation of it, scan the cover in the style established on these pages (at 300dpi), and submit it all to:
Well, I've been to France, I've been to New York, I've been to Spitalfields (I've been to Paradise, but I've never been to me), and despite having family in tow on the foreign excursions I managed to escape their evil clutches for long enough to do a little light record shopping. Well actually, in NYC in was a little heavy and there was a frantic, last minute luggage reshuffle at check-in to avoid excess baggage charges; you know, the kind of thing that really annoys all the people behind you in the queue.
In a little French junk market I picked up a clutch of cheap singles that had pretty covers and showed promise. When I got them all home I realised that some of those promises had been broken, although my tolerance for listening to crap just as long as it is sung in French, seems to be getting higher. Like many things in France they were also very dirty, so the first thing they did when they arrived in London was have a nice long soak in a warm bath and then a lie down on the sofa. In fact, after driving for two days solid, that's what I did too. Why treat your records better than you treat yourself?
Here they are in the bath...
... and on the sofa
Cal Tjader (or is it Joe 90?) sporting a nice roll neck beatnik sweater.
Nice laid back 60’s vibey jazz with a distinctly Latin flavour. In amongst the Tjader originals are covers of ‘Ode To Billie Joe’, ‘Felicidade’ and an unfortunate version of ‘La Bamba’. Unfortunate only because, no matter how well this tune is done, it always seems to be intensely irritating. Cal stared out as Dave Brubeck’s drummer before moving to the vibraphone and becoming a big cheese on the New York Latin jazz scene, working with Willie Bobo, Paul Horn (more later), Vince Guaraldi, Mongo Santamaria and Ray Barretto. Amusingly, for a cool 60’s jazz record it is on a very uncool looking label called ‘Skye’, whose design is based on a coat of arms complete with dagger wielding lions and a motto in Latin!
Herbie Mann (or is it Nicolas Cage?).
More Latin jazz, but hotter!! Contains lots of fab flutey nonsense from the man who can’t resist punning on his name. This record is called ‘Latin Mann’, and I have another one called ‘A Mann & A Woman’. How they must have laughed. I look forward to unearthing his lp of sea shanties entitled ‘Mann The Life Boats’ and the record he made of rubbish tunes no one else wanted called ‘Rag & Bone Mann’.
Paul Horn (he plays the flute, of course).
Spiritual jazz based on the Latin Mass, composed, arranged and conducted by Lalo Schifrin. Orchestrated for quintet, (including Bill Plummer on bass) brass orchestra and choir, the music veers from spooky choral warbling and Gregorian Chant to jolly Be Bop and back again via the occasional modal breakout. Interesting cross over record in my book. I also have a record by Paul Flute (he plays the horn).
Bob Thiele (looks like a country preacher).
Another late 60’s easy-jazz record stuffed full of people I like a lot, such as Gabor Szabo, Emil Richards and Bill Plummer. As well as two excellent Szabo penned tracks, we have a bizarre collection of covers including the silly Dylan song ‘Rainy Day Women Nos 12 & 35’ (better known as ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’) and great takes featuring the sitar, of ‘Eight Miles High’ and ‘Light My Fire’; the last being a tune I have endless time for, as long as it is not the original!
Loretta Lynn (looks like Wonder Woman).
With that cover, and the title ‘Your Squaw In On The War Path’, there is very little not to like; unless you hate country music. For me, it’s the perfect antidote to a jazz overdose. Flushes out the system, I find.
Sagram (looks like Borat, or is it Peter Wyngarde?).
Not so much the ‘Pop Explosion’ promised in the title, this is still a very nice sitar and percussion ramble, if you like that sort of thing. I do. Although I was asked to turn it down over dinner yesterday: ‘A bit relentless’ was the comment. Everyone’s a critic, eh?
This was from a man I visit almost weekly with high hopes. This is only the second library record he has ever had, so for £3, I bought it. I think there may be something I like here amidst the 25 year old synth music, although the overall effect is one of watching ‘Top Of The Pops’ in the mid eighties, but without the singing. Actually, that’s quite a good start.
Dick Hyman (you must not snigger at either of his names, come on!).
To quote from the sleeve notes: “The Moog synthesiser is a musical instrument so new that not even those who have developed it know what it’s full musical potential may be.” This may be why some of the music on this lp (not unlike many other Moog records) is absolutely fantastic, and some just gets on your tits (can I say tits on this website?)
Derek writes: WHAT DO YOU THINK ;-)
Luiz Bonfa (looks relaxed).
For his 1973 lp ‘Jacaranda’, Bonfa gathered round him top players such as Stanley Clark, Ray Barretto, Idris Muhammed and John Wood to create a groovy up to date sound based on his classic Brasilian guitar style. Get this record.
Sex For Teens (don’t they look sweet).
First off, this is not pervy in any way. It is simply an American sex education spoken word record from, I’m guessing, the late 60s. Two whole sides of sound advice about respecting your own body and sexual health, dispensed by a vaguely cool dad to his teenage son and daughter. In fact, sniggering aside, much of it is actually fairly sound; except of course for the discussion about homo and bi-sexuality, during which dad indulges in cod-Freudian nonsense and even described bisexuals as ‘neither fish nor fowl’. Actually, snigger away, the entire record is hilarious.