Friday, October 14, 2016

One thing on my mind - reprise

To say the last couple of months have been full on is something of an understatement.

It started with our trip to Canada and Alaska which is now already starting to feel like a distant memory. Mrs Darce and I, together with eight other friends, took in Calgary-Banff-Jasper by road, boarded the Rocky Mountaineer to Vancouver, spent a few days in Victoria, then cruised into Alaska, and finished off in Vancouver. Fantastic scenery, bears, whales, glaciers, and almost uninterrupted sunshine – we were so lucky with that. “Just wow” was an often used expression. A trip of a lifetime... but maybe we will do New Zealand next!

I returned to an intense three weeks at work as a new computer system was implemented. A lost weekend, and plenty of late evenings. Still snagging now.

During the new system shenanigans I managed to get way with Mrs Darce for a day as we celebrated our 30th(!) wedding anniversary. Then, last weekend, we drove our daughter and a car full of her belongings over to Germany.

Stop the world! I want to blog!

While we were in Vancouver I managed to slip away for an hour or two and dip into a couple of record shops – I was lucky that they happened to be only 10 minutes walk from our hotel. Vinyl and Beat Street are both on West Hastings. Vinyl was, frankly, overwhelming. Crammed with record bins crammed with records and seemingly every available floor space also covered in more stacks of records. Much of it was actually filed by genre – and micro genre – but in the end I still didn't really know where to start. It needed more time than I had so I decided to withdraw gracefully. A block up was Beat Street which had a good selection. It was there I found an album in the right condition and price I had been on the look out for a while – Phyllis Hyman's debut album from 1977. I have waxed lyrical about Phyllis before, and have been a fan for many years. I had overlooked her debut album until recently though. It has plenty of strong tracks, One Thing On My Mind is the one that initially drew my attention though, it was written and originally performed by Evie Sands. I featured Evie's version here some time ago... just a minute, when was that? Exactly one year ago to the day! Spooky!

Phyllis' life story is a sad one, she was diagnosed bi-polar, and ultimately took her own life in 1995.

She was a beautiful woman blessed with an equally beautiful voice, in fact I'm sure she would have matured into a superb jazz singer. But you could hear her pain, there was a deep melancholy in her voice I think, and I am often moved to tears when I listen to her. (Looking into her eyes there is a sadness there too isn't there?)

Press repeat!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Never leave me

If it's Friday it must be a double header 45. At least for a while here, and now and then, that holds true.

About time for another one.

For a long time I was only aware of Thelma Jones through her tortured and superb 1976 single Salty Tears, which has featured here before. I have since familiarised myself to a degree with her earlier output. The House That Jack Built for example is a favourite on the mod/scooter/Northern scene and is a stormer.

Until recently I didn't have any other records of hers, but now this, a copy of her first 45, is safely tucked away in the collection. Stronger I knew, it's a good driving dancer, although a little repetitive. The attraction for me is Never Leave Me. I had not heard this track until a few months ago. Something of a deep soul gem, it is right up my alley. Thelma takes it to church, although to be more precise I am sure she took it straight from church where I just know she must have been singing just before she recorded this in late 1966. A time when the slow, deep side would still take the A, with the dancer relegated to the B. That would soon change, and the trend continued to the extent that the dancer always seems to get the push now whether it was an A or a B side – as I said I knew Stronger but it has taken nearly 50 years to hear Never Leave Me, and now it will live up to its title. Thelma Jones is one helluva singer who deserves to have a deeper catalog.

PS: Mrs Darce and I are off to Canada for three weeks next Friday. I will try and fit in another post, although packing panic may well set in. So this may be the last post until later in September.     

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Atlantic flossing

It has been gruelling at the car boot sales lately. 2016 is rapidly turning into the “ is now” to 2015's “they think it's all over...”.

It could just be me. I don't seem to be able to get up quite as early as I used to so I may miss most of the worms. My lack of any real finds leads to dejection which leads to apathy and ends up with me not going so regularly. I am getting more choosy maybe. Oh, and of course I haven't got the space for any more records anyway – not that that has stopped me before!

But I am hearing the same story from other vinyl hunters. We grumbled about 2015 and we are shaking our head over 2016. It's a vinyl desert out there.

I found myself bottom feeding last Saturday. Why do I class it so? Firstly, I missed the start of the booter by a good 30 minutes – first of all I had to overcome the apathy mentioned above, then I had to overcome the traffic. So if there were any records the chances were the best had gone. Certainly, and predictably, vinyl - of any description - was hard to find. Secondly I found myself on a known dealer's pitch looking through every last single he had on offer in a couple of boxes. It was odds on it would be a ragbag of well known rock and pop in questionable condition he just wanted to offload. But I needed to look through some records. So I did, and I was pleasantly surprised to come away with seven 45s for the grand sum of £1.50. Included in this seven were The Hollies, The Troggs, Nancy Sinatra, Ronnie Lane, and the Mo-Dettes which were representative of the spread of much of the singles in the boxes.

The other two 45s to make up my seven 7s were these two slabs of funk goodness on the UK Atlantic label – both released in 1973 and certainly atypical of the rest of the material in the boxes. They are not particularly rare, and the artists should need no introduction, but I am very happy to have found them, and they have gone a little way towards restoring my faith in trawling the car boots.

In fact I think I may already have this Betty Wright 45 on its original US Alston label. But there is always a little thrill in finding a superior slice of funk/soul on a UK label, and it always leads me to wonder how few copies it probably sold when it was released. Be sure to listen all the way through and not miss Betty's impressive shriek at the end.

The Dr John track I remember hearing on the radio when it was released – John Peel, Alexis Korner would have undoubtedly played it, probably Emperor Rosko too – a time when I had yet to appreciate the mightiness of New Orleans funk. And it's a Promo, and that big A gets me every time.

For the picture I thought I would lay this brace of Atlantics on a bed of shells very recently collected from a Portuguese beach (yes, I will collect anything!).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Psst. Look, nearly a month has gone by again without a post.

Yeah, well I was away for the annual fishing weekend (very enjoyable lakeside, although Glastonbury itself was very low key this year). Then there was our hols in Portugal (I can thoroughly recommend Lagos).

Plenty of time in between for a spin or two though?

Well, those Euros and Wimbledon got me goggleboxing.

Yadda yadda yadda. You'll be trotting out the “it's summer, garden sunshine needs to be enjoyed at this time of year” line next.

Ha! Chance would be a fine thing.

Go on, let them know you're still feeling it, let them know you care.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Feeling bad

It's been a bad week. 'nuff said.

Mel & Tim - Feeling Bad  1970

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hokey cokey belly buttons

Here we go then.

Quite why we, the Great British Public, are being entrusted with a simple yes no vote on something that could significantly effect our future, and our childrens' future, I have no idea. Then again, it could turn out to be of little significance. There's the rub, after all this campaigning we still have little or no idea, do we, really? 

By the way, that question is not designed to spark a political debate, I don't do politics here. It is a good excuse to play a Willie Hutch track though, and I have a feeling Willie had something else on his mind when he recorded it.

Willie Hutch - In And Out  1982       


Friday, June 17, 2016

I'm playing Reggae - come out sun, you know you want to.

Go away clouds. I thought some reggae might help to coax the sun to come out, and stay out!

Reggae is always difficult to find “in the wild”, so I got excited when I found half a box of it at a car boot sale recently. My excitement was tempered somewhat when the seller proceeded to check them all on Discogs before naming a price! This is the first time this has happened to me. In a way I could sort of accept what he was doing- he is evidently a dealer and his stall is effectively his shop. Nevertheless it sort of takes the fun out of the digging process. In the end he quoted prices I was in most cases willing to pay so came away with a handful of 12” and this early '80s compilation of full length Mighty Diamonds releases from, mostly, the late 70s.

I have waxed lyrical about the Mighty Diamonds before I think, I saw them live only a few years ago and they have beautifully sweet voices. Add to this the fact that I noticed a track on this album was Danger In Your Eyes and it became a must buy.

Danger In Your Eyes has been a long time reggae favourite of mine ever since I heard John Peel play a version by Judah Eskender (aka Yabby You aka Vivien Jackson) on his programme back in '77 or'78. (I still have that on a John Peel mixtape). I am a little confused by the history of the song. It seems it was originally recorded by Don Evans & The Paragons but its recording date is a bit of a puzzle. The original (?) issue was on Coxsone I think. On the label it states 1966 but I think the Coxsone 45 was released in 1976, and I can't find any concrete evidence of an official 1966 release.

The Mighty Diamonds version dates to around 1978 (again, I think – dating reggae releases is notoriously difficult) when it was released on the Gussie Roots label - on this release they were to modest to refer to themselves as Mighty. It is a more laid back version than Judah Eskender's but I like both equally. (On its original 45 it was backed with a reimagined version of Fools Rush In which is also on this compilation and also gorgeous).