As usual it has been an entertaining year for finding and buying records. That's probably because over the last 100 years lots of people have made very interesting records and many of them are for sale all over the place all the time. Over this year I think a lot of vinyl has got cheaper, I've found LPs for a fraction of what they used to cost, but then again in the same week had to pay average or higher than average prices to get something I need to get naked with. I have also gone back to exploring musical areas I had loved once and forgotten as other curious areas of sounds have popped up. And in the last few months I've been enjoying the delights of wartime and post war music, especially when the songs get kinky. It's been like the Blitz round here, and what I have found interesting is the simplicity, creativity and effectiveness of some of these very old recordings - if you play them out in the right kind of venue (like a morgue for example), people will go with it. As for buying music this year, it has come from all sorts of different places, from shops, on line, worldwide, very local and recently at an interesting auction. But I have realised that trading / swapping records is still something I am not comfortable with at all. I also had to download a track this year and I felt quite dirty afterwards. There now follows a list of some records that have been heard a lot round these parts. Like more than once.
BENJAMIN BRITTEN AND THE KIDS:
Apparently this is quite a well-known musical educational record. Lovely photo-montage cartooney cover as well.
A JAPANESE PRESSING OF PERSIAN LOVE:
This came from Stand Out and 101 in Notting Hill, the only record shop in the land spilt into two record shops right down the middle. I was talked into listening to it and then bought it because it is quite strange in an unexpected slow way. It kind of massages you into to buying it. I reckon there should be masseurs in record shops these days - sales would go up. This single is nearly 7 minuets long, and has a great cover with a bad picture on it. It's also unusual that this was issued on a jazz label and it's not really jazz.
A CLASSICAL LP ABOUT SOPRANOS:
by some strange quirk of fate called Nina, I ended up at Branchage, Jersey's first ever film festival. It was interesting. I went charity shopping in the big town, and ended up in one simply called "Cry". This is officially the best name for a Chrsity shop I have ever come across. It had lots of unpleasant furniture for sale, a broken modern telescope and small piles of records placed way out of site behind ghastly puffed-up brown chairs. I took a punt on some interesting looking early stereo LPs. This was one of them. I put it on and my wife went all funny, but in a good way.
SONGS SUNG BY ANNE SHELTON:
One of the great female voices if you ask me. Just like a small bell swinging and ringing on a sexy alpine cow. That might sound a bit weird but it's the first thing that sprung to mind. And thinking a little more about that clumsy comparison, most of those bells make a terrible din. No, Anne sounds more like the look of the cows in that Alpine setting. Well you know what I mean.
It was a joyous moment when this finally appeared. Legrand on superb form, yes, super super super.
THIS OLD GRACIE FIELDS ALBUM:
This was bought many years ago after an old and dignified woman, she might have been a nun or something, played a track from it on Desert Island disks. Must have been the Sue Lawley era. There is something strangely engaging about Gracie's changeable voice, and I will now admit that she has made me blub a bit, in quieter moments late at night. I have been mostly listening to our Gracie as a result of a project I have been working on.
IT'S A REVOLUTION MOTHER:
Very few people are aware of this biker-ish soundtrack. I've only ever seen it twice, and the second time I bought it. It was a documentary about all that explosive late 60s counter culture, and features weird music and even weirder interviews with people who sound out of their minds, like the One Percenters, which has to be the best name for a gang ever. My current favourite cut is the one with the biker who loves to go out every evening on his hog with no clothes on. It's a trip apparently, even more so tanked up on LSD. Yeah man. "And Jesus died so we could ride". Exactly. Tell the priest.
HELLS ANGELS ON WHEELS:
While we're on the subject of bikers, I currently like this record too. Although I'm sure some of the tracks appear on other Stu Phillips things. Like his Moving But Going Nowhere track.
ANOTHER SEX TAPE, THIS TIME A BOTTY ONE:
Look, it's a great looking cassette. Enough said I reckon.
THIS STAN GETZ ALBUM:
A mate of mine had this in the 80s when he used to DJ alongside a very young Gilles Peterson at the Electric Ballroom. I always thought it looked like a really cool LP in that jazz way (you know, smoking, good ivy league knitwear), but I never managed to find a copy for myself. And then I really went a bit off Getz when all he seemed to do was bossas, and rumours spread that he was a miserable grizzly bugger too. My faith has been restored in the man now thanks to this LP, which was arranged in part by Schifrin, but I doubt it will last.
Not sure if this is the name of the artist or the album. It was handed to me by Mark from Civil Music. It's a peculiar mixture of all sorts of things, like hip hop glam post rock avant garde pop. I quite like it. Can't understand any of the type on the back of the CD though, because it's in a really bad modern typeface I can't read.
Here a vintage synth collector and musician has made a demo CD for the most important 20 synths of the last 20 years. Not only am I envious of the man's collection, but I'm also envious of some of the basic but deep sounds he is capable of making with them. Especially the ARP 2500. Great idea for a release this, and I wish I'd thought of it.
THIS NEW PSAPP RECORD:
This is like a rag bag of sounds all put together quite brilliantly. Or maybe we could say it's like a patchwork quilt of funny things all cleverly stitched to make a big thing, not sure if it's a quilt and it might be back to front. So one minute it's all baroque, then a bit jazz, then all manic, then all sunshiney pop lark then something you're not sure about at all. Psapp also seem to be good at making complex interesting things, and then all of a sudden they are quite at home doing something sparse. Even though there are several genres all working together here it's nothing like the Kotchy thing from earlier. And I can read the writing easily on this one, so well done Psapp.
A VERY CHEAP NEAL HEFTI ALBUM INNIT:
Yes, rest in peace Neal. I've always had a middle ground relationship with Neal, he's always been there but I've never got madly obsessive about him or anything. But I'm loving that outfit he's wearing though, just check it out, black shirt, red cravat, black handkerchief and a killer 60s jacket with mean red and white candy stripe. And where oh where Neal did you get your hair done? I can't really ask you now Neal as you've left us, but you have left behind some incredible and very lovely music. Oh Dad Poor Dad is a particularly overlooked album if you ask me.
THIS SPAGHETTI WESTERN RECORD:
I played a five hour set of pure Italian western music at Shunt a few weeks ago, and in preparation had to go back through a lot of LPs I have not listened to for a while. This one stuck out. It's slightly later than many Spaghetti scores, circa mid 1970s, it's a bit electronic, a bit "fun" and with an interesting gatefold image of puppeteering in the middle. But it does have one of those rare really long super tracks on it.
SONNY AND JED:
This album was stuffed up on a shelf without ever really getting a proper airing. Well, thanks to the Spaghetti night just mentioned, airing has now started, and will continue with some regularity as I really do think this is quite lovely. And I've always been a fan of the pretty, pouty Susan George, who sometimes comes across as very naughty and evil. I fancied her when I was a lot younger. And I still do. Here she is in the bath, which is exciting. (Also excellent pervy butler, ed.)
GOO GOO MUCK BY RONNIE COOK AND THE GAYLADS:
In terms of song title and artist title, it doesn't get much better, and sonically it doesn't get much better either. The song was more famously covered by The Cramps and I'm not surprised as it has that anarchic sick humour going on. This track has a solid but groovy rock and roll / R & B / totally mental sound, and a delightful jazzy bit in the middle with a saxophone. It's like the audio equivalent of a Walnut Whip or, even the more mysterious pensioner treat called a Newbury Fruit. According to the urban dictionary, Goo Goo Muck means "Muff Diver". So I like this record even more now.
This album came along the other day and for the first time ever in my life it was foolishly priced. I paid #13.50 for it and have already had at least #15 worth of usage out of it. Maybe even #20. I like this very much because even though I have known about this album for many years I've never heard it, never had it, and now I do have it it seems to have arrived in my life at just the right time. It fits just like a missing jigsaw piece. Sometime records do this, like appear spookily at the right time. Musically here Mark Murphy is singing with the Euro jazz monsters, and doing a really good job. Unusually I listen to this in the day, and sometimes at about 8pm, not just at midhight when I'm supposed to. There is a song on here called Why And How which I have found brilliantly addictive, and it's when Mark sings like he's trying to catch up with himself and nearly falls over doing so. Also worth a special mention is the humble but very effective cut up paper sleeve graphics.
THE DRUMMER WEARING GLASSES ALBUM:
It's pretty dull actually, but there is this thing on it called Timeless which is all slow and super and a bit unusual. Like Mr Hefti, he is also wearing a good jacket.
SOUNDS IN THE NIGHT:
Ever since I first saw Star Trek as a young impressionable, I started listening out for woman going woooooooooooo - oooooooooh in records. There are a few Les Baxter albums and the odd sountracky thing that fit the bill. But the actual term for this singing I believe is "vocalise" (say it like it rhymes with sleaze), and this, I think is possibly the greatest vocalise album I have ever heard. The arrangements are sparse and perfect, the vocalisations soaring and divine. I will have a recording of this album looped in my coffin. I've got no idea how I'm going to get power down there though to keep it going. I'll let someone else think about that.
A HARRY THUMANN TWELVE INCH RECORD:
A funny single, which I bought in a box of records at an auction in the west country last week. And what a crap box of records, but no pain no gain. And there was a great latin LP in the box too, which kind of made up for all the really bad white reggae records in there. Anyway, I don't know who Harry is, but he sure does do a post disco mental thing quite well. If you ever see Decca 12" records you should buy them. I was speaking to Patrick from Sounds Of The Universe about this record, and according to him it is known as the first acid house record, but it's from 1979.
AN LP BY SEXY ORIENTAL BABES WITH MATCHING OUTFITS:
This could be Chinese or Korean, I have no idea because I can't speak the pictures that are written all over this record. What I do know is that they do a quite unexpected cover version of O-bla-di-o-bla-da or however you spell that Beatles number. This album was also in the box I bought at auction. It was one of the reasons I actually bid on it.
A GROOVY RECORD:
The lyrics on this killer single go something like this; groovy, groovy, groovy, groovy, groovy. Can things really get any better - I doubt it.
SANTA'S GONE HAWAIIAN:
As Christmas is coming it makes sense to stick up a festive record. This is an authentic Hawaiian recording, with rubbish spoken word (an all too rushed story about Santa coming to the islands), some serious native pidgen jive and some killer, killer Hawaiian interpretations of Jingle Bells and that. You should hear it. If I can work it out I might put a link here so you can experience Christmas Hawaiian style. And what a cover too, just like someone was sick all over it. Well Happy Christmas everyone. Or as they say in Hawaii, Mele Kalikimaka to you.
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:
READERS RECOMMENDATIONS: JONNY WHITE
Hi Derek, hope you are well. Jonny's new recommendations are with us again so I thought I would send in some more of mine as I enjoyed the whole process so much last time. I am still surprised that no one else bothered to send anything, how lazy! Cheers, Jonny White
Great cover, great music. Can't remember the film, but that's not unusual.(I think it was about a very dangerous bus journey). Jerry Fielding's score is pure big band jazz 1970's style with Art Pepper playing alto sax. Sometimes driving, sometimes bluesy and sometimes tense. Very cheap too, which is always nice. When I've had a few cocktails I play it loud and recreate the sleeve art scene with my wife.
ISABEL AND ANGEL PARRA:
Well, this duo were obviously the inspiration for Jack & Meg White. Even the trademark stripes are present and correct! Charming Chilean folk songs recorded in 1966. Very nice on a Sunday morning I find.
I've had this Jake Thackray LP since childhood when my mum used to play it around the house all the time. Things like that never really go away, so I dug it out for a listen this morning. In my head I remember hearing just Jake and his bouncy guitar but in fact much of the time he has a small band playing in a beautiful low key jazzy kind if a way. It's so much more than what the term "folk" implies. Songs are often hilarious: bank robber on the run hiding in a convent dressed as a nun; sometimes tragic: shepherdess found dead and rotting along with her flock. They rub along nicely together.
EMIL RICHARDS, JOURNEY TO BLISS:
Looks like a happy chappy doesn't he? Well you would be too if you had the Microtonal Blues Band behind you. Fabulous 1968 eastern stylee jazz LP on Impulse with one of those sexy heavy duty high gloss gatefold sleeves that they used to make. Extensive liner notes trace the origins of the music and teach you how to count along with the bizarre and complex time signatures that all the tunes are written in. 13/4, 19/4 anyone? Harpsichords, vibes, sitars, tamburas, Tibetan mouth organs, flapambas, 1/4 tone xylophone, boombams, crotales sled gongs, the list of made-up-sounding musical instruments goes on and on. Get down Emil!!
NINA & FREDERIK EP:
Well, you can't leave this record behind can you? And only one pound. I was expecting excruciating Scandinavian pop songs but it turns out that these two 'V' neck warriors sing calypso. Not entirely sure how authentic it is though, but the jumpers seem real enough.
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