Thursday, February 22, 2018

Milestones (aka the iceberg)

I promised to expand on some recent scores at the charity shops. If we're talking about pure potential monetary value, in the space of 24 hours last month I scored my two best ever finds. (They score on more than that though as they are both excellent albums).

The haul mentioned in my last post included some records from a shop I almost didn't visit. Going down the road near the start of my charity shop trawl one Friday back in January one of the shops was closed with a note on the door saying “back at 13.30”. By the time I went back up the road I had had a call from Mrs Darce and my daughter requesting a pick up from 'their' shops. Did I have time to call back into the shop on the way back up the road? Just about I thought, it usually only contained one small box of records so shouldn't take a minute. Am I glad I dropped in! There was only one box, but it contained some gems! As I was paying for the haul (that included the soul 45s featured last time) the girl said “I thought these wouldn't hang around long, they only came in this morning”. Right place, right time! As well as those soul 45s I came away with a few albums that included a first press Pink Floyd Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. It's in pretty good nick. I will leave you to check out how much it could easily be worth, if you're interested, but let's just say it is comfortably in the three figure range (that's three figures before the decimal point, as opposed to the £2.99 I paid for it knowing it was likely a good find but not at the time understanding it was a first press.)

Twenty four hours later in another charity shop in another part of town I stumbled across another record whose worth probably nudges into the three figure bracket: Waltz For Debby by the Bill Evans Trio, an original mono UK Riverside issue. A highly desirable Jazz album found amongst a pile of albums that were typical charity shop fare i.e. definitely not highly desirable, and not Jazz. At times like this you wonder: why was it there?, and had there been any other similar records keeping it company that had already been snaffled? The picture you see of it's front cover was taken after I removed the 99p sticker.

In such situations should one feel guilty of taking advantage of the charity shops' lack of knowledge of the worth of their wares? Well, I figure I spend enough in charity shops – for instance I'm always buying records I don't need, or find I don't like, and often end up being retuned to another charity shop! Also there is every possibility I will keep these albums, and if I do end up selling them for a tidy profit then I can always give a donation. So I'm OK with it.

Waltz for Debby is a beautiful album, one to put on on late at night, or on a calm Sunday morning. It was recorded live at the Village Vanguard in New York on the 25th June 1961. The trio comprised Bill Evans on piano, Scott LeFaro, bass and Paul Motian, drums. I have read that this was the only time Bill Evans ever performed Miles Davis' Milestones.

PS: Things often come in threes, but it was too much to hope for another find of similar magnitude, I'm still waiting.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The tip of the iceberg

As I mentioned in my last post there has been a relatively large influx of vinyl at chez Darcy in recent weeks. I relieved an ex-work colleague of close to 100 albums a few weeks ago and this followed what I can safely say is my best ever 24 hours trawling the charity shops. In one day I spent in excess of £60 in three shops and finished up with a very heavy bag to cart back to the car. The very next day I scored again, but more of that in my next post. The five singles you see in the picture - all mid Sixties soul/R&B on UK labels - were just a very small part of my £60 haul on a very lucky Friday earier last month.

It's interesting to note that by the mid Sixties US singles labels were already a riot of colour and design. Not so in UK. The record industry here was still dominated by a few major labels, the independent spirit hadn't taken hold; and "Swinging London" was yet to get going. Our record labels could still be best described as sombre and conservative, but at least with Atlantic you knew the music in grooves would be guaranteed to brighten up proceedings.

Solomon Burke - Maggie's Farm  1965

Booker T & The MGs - Red Beans And Rice  1966 

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Southern soul's galaxy dims

Once again time seems to have been limited for blogging. Our daughter has unexpectedly returned to the nest in need of a bit of TLC after splitting up with her boyfriend (not her doing) and an abortive job as a ski chalet manager in Austria where her bosses and the working conditions were pretty bad (to put it mildly), especially considering the pittance of a wage.

I am also drowning in vinyl again. There has been quite an influx in recent weeks from various sources and I have been attempting to give them some proper attention, and to manage their conspicuousness in the eyes of Mrs Darce!

So, I'm well behind the curve here this year. Already two (that I am aware of) bright stars in Soul music – Rick Hall and DeniseLaSalle – have passed in 2018. I should have dedicated a post here to each of them but feel I'm a bit late to the game. I did report these sad events soon after they happened on a record forum I frequent. Such is the nature of those forums that comments can be made very quickly. Here, at such times, I feel the need to be more, I don't know: considered, reverential, verbose? That takes time, which has been in short supply, so, as I said I feel the moment has passed for a detailed celebration of Rick and Denise's lives.

To both I shall just simply say thanks for all the great music you left us with and Rest In Peace.

I featured this track a few years ago. As I said then this is Denise in a more wistful and mellow mood. It's worth a re-up I think. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Re-lighting my fire

And there I was starting to build up a bit of a head of steam with a few posts here before Christmas and then the dreaded Aussie flu (or at least something approaching it) struck. At 4pm on Christmas Day to be precise. At least I managed to enjoy the Christmas dinner. The rest of the holidays were pretty much a write off and I was close to cancelling my big (as in a rather large round number) birthday party at the end of the year. I finally managed to get rid of the lingering cough yesterday.

I've been fit again now for most of this new year but it knocked me out of my blogging stride.

Anyway a belated Happy New Year to you all.

As I hinted at above it was my birthday on NYE and I reached the big six oh. I know, it's only a number. An early birthday present to myself arrived in the post a couple of days before the day in question. I had been on the look out for a copy of this album at the right price and condition for a few years, and finally I found one that even after factoring in postage from the USA was a good buy. Not stung for customs either, that's two packages in the last couple of months that have got through. I think the USA is on my radar again as a record source.

The album in question is Rhetta Hughes' Re-Light My Fire. It is not very well known but is one of the great soul albums I think. Soul albums, especially from the Sixties, are often little more than a collection of singles as the album format was slow to catch on in the Soul world. This album could be said to be the same, seven of the tracks appeared on four 45 releases in 1968 - the year before this album was released. But all the tracks are so strong it makes the album a winner. The back cover tells us it is “A Mike Terry & Jo Armstead Production”, Mike Terry arranged, and Jo Armstead is named in the writing credits of eight of the eleven tracks – surefire quality marks right there!

After her run of Tetragrammaton 45s and this album at the end of Sixties Rhetta would not commit anything else to wax until the early Eighties. It seems she went in the direction of the stage instead, appearing in a number of musicals. In truth it would have been difficult to follow Re-Light My Fire.

I'll share two tracks with you. One picks itself but I could happily pick any one of the other tracks on the album and they wouldn't disappoint. I'll settle for this one, which also be found as a B-side to one of Rhetta's 45s.

Then there is this, a desert island disc for me. The intro just gets me every time and the whole track is just perfect.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Mints for you

Very recently I've found quite a few records on line at the right price. Records are like buses sometimes. A couple days ago, amongst some Christmas cards, three little packages were sat there all together on the doormat, freshly delivered by the postie (who was no doubt wearing shorts, as they always seem to do). Just in time for Christmas - perfect timing.

Here they all are scattered on the table after receiving their first couple of plays. And what is that you see amongst them? Yes, it's another Capsoul 45.

Long term visitors here will know I am not big on Christmas records. I just don't possess many, especially in the genres I feature here. But I thought this record maybe vaguely appropriate as we move into the festive holiday. I dare say after you have tucked into your mountainous Christmas dinner tomorrow you may soon be dipping into the bowls of chocolates that have appeared around the house and that you have somehow convinced yourself you have room for. After dinner mints always go down well, so here are some Mints for you – four to be precise.

Season's Greetings to you all. Enjoy your holidays - try not to eat too much!

Friday, December 22, 2017

All Dud but no duds

Here's Dud dressed for the season. Although this album was recorded in Australia, where I doubt he would have needed the coat.

Looking back at this year's forays into the fields of England it was once again disappointing and represented a worrying continued trend of diminishing returns from the car boots. There were a few highlights though, and this album is one of them.

Dudley Moore – actor, comedian, musician,composer as his wiki entry states. Oh to be so talented. Depending on your age I guess you might know him best as an actor, most notably in Hollywood blockbusters 10 and Arthur, or alternatively you would know him primarily from his earlier role as a comedian, initially in Beyond the Fringe and then as one half of the achingly funny comedy duo Pete & Dud. That partnership was forged on his BBC TV shows that aired in the mid to late 60s - Not Only... But Also. A phrase that neatly leads into the other strings to his bow: jazz pianist and composer. Wikipedia tells us he had played harpsichord and organ (and violin) from an early age and fell in love with jazz during his university years, playing with John Dankworth in the late 50s. Through most of the 60s and into the 70s he played jazz piano and was leader of an excellent jazz trio, and in that guise was vastly underrated in my opinion.

The album that this track comes from – Today – was recorded in 1971 and released in 1972. I picked up this copy at a car boot back in May. Today, giving it only its second or third spin, it hit me as to what a great album it is. In truth I could have featured any track from it, there is nothing that is just ordinary, and it certainly presents a paradox – it is all Dud, but there are no duds.

Friday, December 15, 2017

That Capsoul feeling

If somebody asked me to name my favourite record label I would not give an instant response.  That would not be possible for such a serious and difficult question. It's a question akin to "what 10 records would you take to a desert island?" after all, almost impossible to answer. But if I were forced to give an answer, after some inevitable pondering, I might just say: Capsoul.

Ten years ago (nearly eleven now) I featured in two successive posts the two Capsoul singles I owned at the time, and mentioned then that the label, for some unknown reason, held some special mystique for me.

The mystique started in 1976 from the moment I bought, blind off a mailing list, Kool Blues' I'm Going To Keep On Loving You. It immediately meant something special to me that I could not, and still cannot, fully explain. It took me 28 years before I bought my second Capsoul single - Johnson Hawkins, Tatum & Durr's You Can't Blame Me - at a record fair in Atlanta. At that point Numero had not released their excellent compilation of the Capsoul label's output so the mystique was still intact. Numero's great work has since immortalised the label so now I know it's background and more about it's artists. But despite this, somehow, the mystique still endures for me. This was brought home when, a few weeks ago, I opened a package that had arrived in the mail and pulled out, finally, another Capsoul single that can keep my other two company. Just handling it brought on a little frisson of excitement. Why? I still cannot fully explain it. The label is colourful and individual, but so are so many others. Perhaps it is something to do with what's in the grooves – a group soul sound that seems to be just that little bit different, a production that does have a sort of home made feel to it.

There is also the fact that these records don't seem to be quite of their time. All three singles I own were released in the early 70s but they seem to hark back to earlier times. Perhaps that gets closest to the reason I have this special feeling for the label. When I bought the Kool Blues single in 1976 that was only four short years after its release in 1972, that was the same year as, for example, David Bowie's Starman and Al Green's I'm Still in Love With You - two artists that had shaped my listening habits back then - but it sounded worlds apart. I could attempt to develop and expand on my thinking here, but I think it is better to just let the mystique remain.

Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr – that certainly is a mouthful. Discogs is, I assume, consistent with Numero when they state in their profile on the group: After scoring an successful audition with Capsoul’s Bill Moss, the Revelations which comprised of Vigil Johnson, Al Dawson, Willie Tatum, and Norris Durr found themselves cutting their first side for the label in 1971. Moss changed the group’s name to comprise all of their last names; then he finally mistakenly changed their name to Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum, and Durr for the labels on the 45” That was a bum rap for Al Dawson!

My Capsoul fixation is full blaze again now. I'm hunting down a copy of a Four Mint's single as I write this. And how I would love to own a copy of Kool Blues' Can We Try Love Again. I would have to spend big money to do so, I might just treat myself one day!