Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's late

As I post this 2007 has less than two days left. Using a clock as an analogy and doing a quick bit of maths that makes it just about five minutes to midnight. Why not climb into one of those idealised Christmas card scenes that you probably have on your mantelpiece now. It’s dark outside and the snow is falling. It’s cosy inside, the light is down low and the candles are flickering. Throw another log on the fire, pour yourself your favourite late night drink, settle down in the fireside chair, and close your eyes.

Keely Smith - Time After Time 1965
Keely Smith - He Needs Me 1965
Keely Smith – Blame It On My Youth 1965

The vinyl has a few crackles, which in fact you can easily imagine are coming from that open fire you are curled up in front of.

(The BBC Ella Fitzgerald documentary on Christmas Eve made me wonder why I have virtually none of Ella’s records in my collection and prompted me to go and buy some more yesterday. While I was at it I also bought “The Intimate Keely Smith”. Ella singing ballads does it for me, and this album recorded in 1965 by Keely Smith is every bit as captivating. Keely wanted to recreate the intimate feel of her late night club dates, to the extent of recording these songs without breaks. The record company didn’t like the idea so Keely and the group had to go back into the studio and give the record company cuts between the songs. This album has never been released on CD. If the masters are still around perhaps it is high time it was, and in its originally intended form.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sunshine and Season's Greetings

By my reckoning for those of us living in the northern latitudes today is the shortest day of the year.

Daylight is at a premium at this time of year, the days are often grey, we go to work before it’s light and it’s dark well before it’s time to swipe the clock.

Let’s have some sunshine. Here, in the shape of a 45 by The Jimmy Castor Bunch is 3 minutes 15 seconds of pure sunshine to cheer us up.

“Everything Is Beautiful To Me" featured on the 1976 album “E-Man Groovin’”. Out of print and not available on CD as far as I can tell but you can currently find it at Lost-In-Tyme.

As we career headlong into another year of seasonal festivities I will take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas – have a good one.

The Jimmy Castor Bunch – Everything Is Beautiful To Me 1976

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Early symptoms?

I buy records. Those black things. Vinyl (and styrene sometimes). You knew that. Not particularly unusual, and vinyl as a music medium is refusing to die, even making a bit of a comeback. Nevertheless, in this day and age my affection for vinyl puts me in the minority. Those of my children’s generation, and indeed many of my contemporaries, may mark me down as being a bit weird. “Ah, so you are a record collector”, they will say, checking to see if I’m carrying an anorak. I will reply, “Well, no not really”.

A record collector in my eyes is someone who splashes serious cash to satisfy their vinyl habit. The sort that remorselessly hunts down the first press. The sort that has to have that single by that obscure Garage band that was released on pink vinyl but then hastily withdrawn at the last minute because the band realised how naff it looked so there are perhaps only two in existence. The sort that develop a fixation on a particular artist and have to own everything they have ever had anything to do with, good or bad.

I have never thought of myself as a record collector. I just buy what I like. I have a fairly scatter gun and impulsive approach, and I’m not close to needing to re-mortgage the house to fund my habit.

On the other hand I do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time nowadays trawling the web and ebay for records. Also I now find it impossible to walk past a charity shop – I have to go in and have a quick rifle through whatever records they may have lying around, mostly Mantovani of course, but you never know. I don’t actually buy much, but, if nothing else, my fondness for digging is showing signs of developing into an addiction.

Then last Friday I took what could be possibly construed as the first step towards becoming a bona fide record collector. I bought a record that I already possess a copy of. This was not an accident (as in not along the lines of buy it, get it home, then find I already have it, doh!). Neither was this a record bought to replace a scratched and beat up copy. This was a conscious act of buying a record that I like and already have a copy of simply because it was on a different label. Is this the start of the slippery slope to full blown vinyl addiction? My wife thinks I’m already there. But this record only cost a £1 – that’s less than a latte to go, or half a pint of Marston’s Pedigree – so I don’t think I will be checking into Vinyl Junkies Anonymous yet. But, I wonder, am I just trying to gloss over the awful truth?

Here’s both sides of the said recording – Ted Taylor 1972 release “I Want To Be A Part Of You Girl” and “Going In The Hole”, a great double header. The Ronn label always says 60s to me. It started life in 1966 and unlike many record labels I don’t think it had a single design change in it’s existence, and by the 70s to my mind it had a sort of charming old fashioned look to it. Anyway by the time Ronn reached 65 it was 1972. In true anorak style the A side mp3 has been taken from my copy of the original US Ronn release and the B side from my newly acquired UK Contempo copy.

I’m constantly surprised by the great, and frankly relatively obscure, soul recordings that turn out to have secured a UK release. These singles must have sold in tiny numbers on release, and in many cases now seem to be more difficult to come by than their original US release counterparts. Contempo was fully focussed on soul and funk, and latterly followed the trend into disco territory. It was John Abbey’s first foray into the record business. Abbey had started out in the UK with black music orientated magazine publishing in 1966 with a title what would eventually become Blues & Soul. The Contempo label was launched in around 1970 I think. Subsequently Abbey and his then partner Nina Easton moved to Atlanta, Georgia and founded Ichiban Records in 1985.

After writing this I realised that Red Kelly also posted “Going In The Hole” over at the B side back in October 2006. I must have missed that one. Red’s post on Ted Taylor is an education and excellent, as his posts always are. I point you at that post for more on Ted Taylor.

Ted Taylor was prolific on the 45s front. His complete Jewel and Ronn singles releases on CD can be found here.

Ted Taylor – I Want To Be A Part Of You Girl 1972
Ted Taylor – Going In The Hole 1972

A namesake of Ted's and another example of a great soul record that amazingly got a UK release can be found by following my latest re-up link (right).

Monday, December 10, 2007

Surprise package

It’s going to be short post this time. Leisure time around the turntable and computer has been minimal in recent days. Last week when I was on the computer it was mostly about Christmas shopping. Then last (long) weekend I was out of town. My wife and two close friends sprung a surprise weekend away on me as an early birthday present (I am rapidly approaching a significant number of years on this planet – a number that ends in zero, I will say no more). We all had a great time in Sidmouth, a place I had never visited before. I can recommend it. Its Regency buildings are beautiful, and remarkably intact. There isn’t a hint of tackiness, and not a fast food outlet in sight. It’s very civilised, very English, and a joy. All in all a bit of a throwback. We enjoyed some exhilarating coastal walks in what could only be described as “lively” weather - the sight and sound of a wild sea throwing its breakers onto the shore is something special. In the evenings we struck lucky with two great local pub bands. Marry that with plenty of good food, copious amounts of alcohol, and good company and what more could you ask for?

In keeping with my surprise mini break the musical selection today is a surprise. Everything I post here is a surprise to you I guess, but believe me this was a surprise to me too. I randomly grabbed four singles out of one of my boxes gave them a spin and went with the one which just had to be played again. Benny Latimore released a string of strong singles on Henry Stone’s Dade label in the late sixties. He would drop the Benny and record some bigger selling records as just plain Latimore on Glades in the seventies. “Let’s Straighten It Out” and “Something ‘bout Cha” were two essential Glades releases in my book, as were just about all of his earlier Dade outings. Here’s one of them.

Benny Latimore – Let’s Move And Groove Together 1968(?)

Update 13/01/08:
Latimore is still going strong of course and has just won the Blues Critic 2007 Reader's Poll Southern Soul Blues Song Of The Year. You can read the full story here, and you can hear it here. While you're at it you could also visit Henry Stone's Music Store where you can find plenty of music from Henry's back catalogue and new stuff too.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Hi style

From my days of trawling record lists, long ago in the seventies, I was vaguely aware of Quiet Elegance. I had never heard any of their records but from their name I had them pigeon-holed as just another sweet soul male group. Being on the Hi label I should have known better – at least to the musical style, if not the gender of the group members. Anyway, as I didn’t have a particularly sweet tooth back then, and, probably more to the point, I had no way of checking the merchandise (i.e listening to the records) and couldn’t afford to buy records blind, I passed over Quiet Elegance.

Fast forward to a few months ago - I was looking to spread the postage cost on another ebay purchase from the US so looked to see what else the seller had listed. Until I win the lottery (which is unlikely as I don’t buy a ticket) I still struggle to justify buying records blind (unless they are going for peanuts – which nowadays they almost invariably aren’t, even in charity shops it seems). But with the wonders of the Internet and sites like Soul Juxebox, Manship, and the various e-tailers there is usually a way of listening to at least a snippet of many records now. Think of them as a kind of virtual portable turntable, there to support you in the virtual digging world. So it was that I heard my first ever snippet of Quiet Elegance and realised three things: 1. Their brand of soul although undoubtedly sweet was not sweet soul (you know what I mean). 2. They were a female group. 3. The record in question - “Do You Love Me” – was yet another nugget of pure gold - Hi style – and therefore a perfect addition to the cardboard mailer.

The Internet has also allowed me to find out more about Quiet Elegance. Considering their output was fairly limited (eight singles at Hi in a five year period) Allmusic has quite a detailed write up. Also their lead vocalist Yvonne “Frankie” Gearing, and the group’s previous incarnation in the sixties as The Glories, is covered at Soul Cellar.

"Do You Love Me" was their first single on Hi released in 1972. It appeared again (I am assuming it is the same song) as the B side to "Have You Been Making Out OK" in 1975. Enjoy!

Quiet Elegance – Do You Love Me 1975

Buy The Complete Quiet Elegance

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hi Time

I love my soul served up with a Southern flavour and as Southern Soul hasn’t been on the menu for a while here I thought it was high time I put that right. (Hey, I’m starting to sound like FuFu Stew!)

Willie Mitchell and the Hi crowd developed their own unique sound in the Seventies. Some people may say that it was only about Al Green and, perhaps, Ann Peebles, that the songs could sound derivative, and condemn tracks recorded by other artists on the label as essentially no more than Al Green cast offs. I think that’s unfair and I certainly don’t subscribe to that view.

Darryl Carter is a name you may not be familiar with. You can find a picture of him here. His musical career had begun as a recording engineer in the 60s. As the 60s ended and the 70s began he would forge a writing partnership with Bobby Womack, and record, solo, a handful of singles with labels including Venture, Perception, and TTC. At Hi “Looking Straight Ahead” would appear to be his only outing. In the main however, it would appear has was essentially a “backroom” man as engineer, producer and writer

We can often pinpoint a time in the past and what we were doing by recalling a hit, or popular, record of the time. So I will refer back to Al and Ann to place Darryl Carter’s Hi single in time, and understand I’m not belittling Darryl Carter’s single by doing this. “Looking Straight Ahead” was nine singles later than Al Green’s “Call Me” and four before Ann Peebles “I Can’t Stand The Rain” in the Hi catalog.

I certainly wouldn’t have been aware of this single’s existence at the time. In the UK London released a fair number of singles from the Hi catalog, but didn’t often venture beyond the big names. I haven’t tracked down a UK London discography, but I’m sure Darryl wouldn’t have appeared. I found a low rate mp3 of this track on a Japanese site some months ago and liked it – a lot. So it was that I subsequently secured my own copy via some edigging. And so it is that the wonderful sound of Hi soul continues to make the heart skip a beat today.

Darryl Carter – Looking Straight Ahead 1973

You can find this track on a number of Hi compilation CDs.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Parish notices #2

Souled On is a great site run by Scholar. Recently I was honoured to be given the opportunity to put together a guest post for his imprint. So, if you haven’t seen it already, as a little plug, it’s there now for you.

The RE-UP link on the right is now pointing to another of my older posts.

I’ve also added a couple of new links, including This Is Tomorrow which I have been reminded is definitely a worthwhile port of call. I have been visiting it for a while and thought that I already had it linked.

Scholar always finishes his posts with “A Word From Your Moms”. Scholar put me on the spot for one to finish my guest post with. I admit I had to resort to Google. Tears was the subject, and the one I decided on in the end was from the Little Prince. But I also found a few from Charles Dickens novels. Somehow I have never got round to reading any Dickens but finding those quotes has made me want to.

In my post over at Souled On I mention that there are quite a few disco tracks that can induce my tears. Somewhat inexplicably in many cases. Here is one of them – Tata Vega’s “Get It Up For Love”. I think the reason my eyes well up whenever this one is played is simply that it is so ridiculously good. I love the way it trips along, I love the bass, I love Tata’s voice (on this track), I love what the synthesisers are doing, and the break is sublime. Tears of course aren’t always shed due to sadness. In this case one of the Dickens quotes I stumbled upon seems perfectly appropriate:

" . . . Give me a moment, because I like to cry for joy. It's so delicious, John dear, to cry for joy.” (Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend).

I’m putting up two mp3s of the same track. I have been wondering lately whether my turntable is playing at the right speed (I don’t have the means to measure it). The time on the label for this one says 5:58 but when I recorded it clocked in at around 5:43 and I thought it sounded a little fast. Times stated on labels aren’t always accurate I know, but as I have just started playing with Audacity I thought I would use it to tempo adjust the track to it’s stated time of 5:58. I think possibly this one sounds a bit slow, so maybe the answer lies somewhere in the middle – whatever! (This last bit of technobabble was used as a device to dry my tears, as I’ve run out of tissues).

Tata Vega – Get It Up For Love 1979 (my turntable)
Tata Vega – Get It Up For Love (tempo adjusted to 5:58)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Still out there

Dipped into my limited stack of reggae just now and pulled out this one. This is the only slab of vinyl I own by Keith Hudson. Both sides of this 12” are deep, dark, brooding delights. As, I think, was much of Hudson’s later output. This article indicates that Hudson’s style was too sombre for his native Jamaica’s taste so he upped sticks and relocated to London in 1978. If he was searching for a spiritual home it was the right move. The UK in the late seventies was certainly in a dark and brooding place full of angst and the disaffected, and the winter of discontent was just around the corner to boot. His music would have fitted the mood of the country like a hand in glove.

If you follow the link above to the article on Keith, be sure also to check out the wonderful Dread Tale from Penny Reel, originally published in the NME in October 1978.

You can find both of these tracks on “Rasta Communication”. Both possess strong undertows that will suck you in and drag you down. Be warned, this is not feel good reggae. Hudson’s brand of Roots was out there, on the edge. Subtly different to most else floating around reggae’s universe at the time, it stands the test of time. I need to get some more Keith Hudson in my collection.

Keith Hudson – Nuh Skin Up 1979
Keith Hudson – Felt We Felt The Strain 1979>

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time to come home M'Lady

I made a somewhat obtuse reference to a bubblegum card in one of my recent posts. You may remember – but of course that presupposes you a) actually read my ramblings and b) you find them remotely interesting enough to commit them to memory, unlikely I know!

Anyway, I found it – the bubblegum card that is.

Recently a nostalgia trip with colleagues at work led me to dig out my small stash of bubblegum cards, avidly collected “back when I were a lad”. As I remembered it I had a full set of the 1966(?) black and white large Somportex Thunderbirds cards. On looking through them I discovered No.51 was missing. Oh no! On searching the Internet I found that No.51 was Lady Penelope. Oh no again! But I was sure I had had the whole set. Then a flash of recall. I knew it was in the house somewhere. Was my memory playing tricks? I didn’t think so.

I warn you, you will have stick with this. Throughout most of the latter half of the 70s I ran a mobile disco, together with three school friends of the time. We were dreadfully pretentious and decided to jump on the homemade xeroxed and stapled fanzine bandwagon (probably most famously represented by “Sniffin' Glue”) and produce our own organ to be distributed free at our mobile discos. The fanzine was called, appropriately, “Pseud” – you see we knew we were being pretentious – and the enterprise lasted for two issues in 1978! From memory possibly as many as 20 copies of the first issue were distributed! But I’m not sure if the second issue ever made it past the proof stage. I remembered that I had copies of them still lying around somewhere, and I now had the distinct memory that my Lady Penelope bubblegum card had made an appearance in one of the issues.

So it was that I finally unearthed them just now and there indeed, still lightly sellotaped into place on page 11 (of 12) of the proof of the second issue was my No.51 Thunderbirds bubblegum card. Lady Penelope has spent the last 29 years contemplating such highbrow literary articles as reviews and charts of our favourite records of the time, impressions of the Anti Nazi League Carnival in London’s Victoria Park, the story of a drunken weekend in Cambridge, a Steely Dan discography, and the history of the 12” single.

I have decided that after all these years she is maybe missing her Thunderbirds friends so I have now tucked her back into my stack of Thunderbirds cards, of course between No.50 – Jeff Tracy – and No.52 Parker, Lady Penelope’s trusted servant. Back home. She will like that I’m sure.

What to play to celebrate Lady Penelope’s homecoming? Peaches & Herb’s “Reunited”? Or Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway’s “Back Together Again”? Great records but maybe too obvious and well known. I first alluded to the fact that this post may at some time appear when I featured Jean Carn recently. Initially I thought No.51 was missing and a Jean Carn track came to mind. Now Lady P has been found and my Thunderbirds cards are once again a complete set another Jean Carn track comes to mind – “Completeness”.

This track dates from 1982 and was the B side to her version of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”. This single had been filed untouched in one of my boxes for a long time. I’m not sure I had ever played “Completeness” until a few months ago. It just goes to show you shouldn’t ignore B sides. It’s included on the Best Of compilation “Closer Than Close” which is a strong collection of Jean’s output, if you can find it.

For good measure you can also hear a track from my “Pseud” (Vol.1 No.2) featured Top Twenty – Narada Michael Walden with “Soulbird” which you can find on the album “I Cry I Smile”.

Jean Carn – Completeness 1982

Narada Michael Walden – Soulbird 1977

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Summer's ended

Right, I think I’ve changed all the clocks in the house now. It’s easy to forget in the aftermath of a drunken Saturday night!

Have you remembered?

Incognito – Summer’s Ended (mp3) 1980

Buy Incognito's debut album "jazz funk" reissued and including Summer's Ended.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Parish Notices #1

Feel It continues to pootle along in the slow lane. A lot of general stuff had been filling up the days and getting in the way of this labour of love, but now I can’t really use that excuse anymore.

So now what’s stopping me turning up the heat here? Well, for one, my owl like tendencies (always late to bed, but rubbish at getting up in the mornings) seem to have temporarily deserted me – and late at night is when I seem to be at my best throwing together things here at Feel It.

Then there is the constant distraction of all the other audioblogs and various other sources of music out there in the ‘net. I can’t keep up, but I spend a lot of time trying.

It’s been a while since I added anything new to the blogroll, so that’s been put right. I used to highlight the new entries by tagging them with *NEW* in a different colour but since moving to the new Blogger interface that doesn’t seem so easy to do, so you still get the *NEW* but not in a different colour. All these have recently found there way onto my click circuit, some are well established, some are new blogs on the block some have kindly linked this blog – thankyou, all are well worth a visit. As I’ve said before - so much music, so little time.

It’s been on the blog roll for a while but, in case you’ve missed it, The Great Unknown is well worth a visit too. Dave not a frequent poster, but when they appear his posts are always a great and eclectic selection of old and new.

Also, I’m a few weeks off the pace, but have just noticed that Sir Shambling has recently been adding new featured artists again to his excellent site. If you haven’t already, you should pay him a visit and play catch up.

I’ve been thinking recently of randomly re-uping (a new word?!) some of my older posts. Traffic has built up a bit since I started this thing so I thought some of you may like to hear something you may have missed first time around. Then a request came in for something I posted last year – Sil Austin – so that made my mind up. I’m not encouraging requests, and won’t necessarily respond to them should they appear, but in any event, Sil Austin seems a good place to start. Just follow the RE-UP label and from time to time you will find some of my older posts will magically have had their mp3 temporarily reinstated.

I can’t pin this notice to the board without leaving you with some aural delights. Following on from my previous post here’s some more Joe Tex for you. “If Sugar Was As Sweet As You” is a great track of his from 1966 (only a B side). I don’t know why but this doesn’t seem to get as much as attention as I think it deserves. This is another soul record that the late great John Peel turned me on to. JP of course famously referred to his wife as “The Pig” so what better to follow up “Sugar” with than “Looking For My Pig” which dates from 1964 and was the follow up single to the stellar “I Wanna Be Free”. I can’t find “Pig” on any compilations but you can find the flips of both of these sides (“The Love You Save” and “Say Thank You” - both are in a slower vein, and beautiful in their own way) on Kent’s “Dial Records Southern Soul Story” (scroll down aways and you will find it for a good price).

Joe Tex – If Sugar Was As Sweet As You 1966

Joe Tex – Looking For My Pig 1964

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gotcha again

Joe Tex had a number 1 Billboard R&B hit in 1972 with “I Gotcha”, a rambunctious
hunk of funky R&B if ever there was one. If 1972 was before your time then you may have come across it in Reservoir Dogs. If you are a regular visitor to the particular sector of the blogosphere that I guess this blog resides in – i.e. all things soulful and funky – then you will also have probably come across it. Larry over at Funky16Corners featured it last year for one.

So it’s a bit lame of me to feature “I Gotcha” here today isn’t it? Ah, but this is a different “I Gotcha”.

In 1977 girls the length and breadth (no pun intended) of the country were building handbag mountains at the local disco and dancing around to Joe’s “Ain’t Gonna Bump No More With No Big Fat Woman”, a track laced with Joe’s trademark humour (although in this instance written by Buddy Killen). The inevitable album followed – “Bumps & Bruises” to be followed by another in 1978 “Rub Down”. A copy of this album has languished, unloved, in our house for over 20 years now. My wife had bought the album originally and I had never listened to it,thinking that, as it came from the Bump No More era, it would be too light and commercial for my tastes.

I finally gave it a listen recently, and to a large extent my suspicions were correct. Many of the tracks on “Rub Down” sound like leftovers from the “Bumps & Bruises” sessions, following a now tired “Bump No More” template. And it contains a reworking of Joe’s ‘72 hit “I Gotcha”, I thought. Then, on playing that track, I realised it was a completely different song – and I really like it. It is sort of schmaltzy, but Joe is in fine voice and a feeling of real warmth and sincerity comes through. From what I’ve read about Joseph Arrington Jr (or Yusef Hazziez as he was privately known after becoming a Muslim around the time of his ’72 “I Gotcha” hit) he was a genuinely nice guy, and on this 1978 “I Gotcha” I think the feeling it exudes underlines that fact.

And anyone who writes songs with titles such as “You Might Be Digging The Garden (But Somebody’s Picking Your Plums)” and “Be Kind To Old People” is OK in my book.

You could visit Red Kelly over at the B-side for more on Joe Tex. In his piece he also links to more excellent pieces by Rob at Brown Eyed Handsome Man, and ends with a quote from Joe that also concludes the essential “Sweet Soul Music” by Peter Guralnick (You haven’t read that yet? You really should).

Joe Tex – I Gotcha 1978

Friday, October 05, 2007


Wot’s this? Darcy’s serving up some prog rock? Looking at this picture of Jess Roden you might be forgiven for that thought. But don’t be fooled, for what lies in the grooves of this 1974 album is a uniquely soulful and bluesy concoction.

As far as I remembered, I first came across this album in 1979. John (and his lovely wife Valerie), bar managers at a club I used to DJ at, brought it in one night and said "listen to this". I was playing a lot of jazz-funk at the time and John thought Jess’ version of “On Broadway” would go down pretty well with my crowd. He wasn’t wrong. I loved the whole album and recorded it onto a good old TDK SA90 cassette before returning it.

Over the years, that was a tape I often dug out to play in the car. But in all that time I had never seen a copy of the album anywhere. Then, a couple of years ago, in one of my local crate digging haunts, what should I find – TWO copies of said album. I would have bought both, but one had a pretty dodgy looking scratch.

Then just a few months ago, at my parents house, I unearthed a folder full of concert programmes, flyers etc from my teenage days. One of the programmes was from Roxy Music’s 1974 UK tour, and the picture of Jess Roden you see above (obviously from the same photo shoot that provided the front cover of the album) was staring out at me from inside the back page of the programme. So Jess Roden was support for Roxy Music on that tour. I was at the concert (Bristol Colston Hall) but don’t remember Jess! Of course in those days an important part of concert going was getting to the bar to get a drink, and that meant the support act was often overlooked. If that was what I did on this occasion then it was my loss.

And here’s another thing. As I cast around t’internet looking to find out more about Mr. Roden’s career I came across this reference to a John Peel session from August 1974. It rings a bell, in fact the more I think about it the surer I am that I listened to that session on my little blue transistor radio, snuggled under the bed covers.

The strange thing is I don’t recall being aware of my 1974 brushes with Jess Roden when John lent me his album in 1979, or whenever it was.

The even stranger thing is that on the back cover of the Jess Roden album I finally picked up a couple of years ago, written in small letters in blue ink, are the names “John and Valerie”.

(WARNING: most of my musings here maybe a bit garbled, but have a firm basis of truth. The final sentence however is complete tosh! It would have been great if had been true, though).

Jess Roden arrived on the music scene as lead singer with The Alan Bown Set in 1967. His tenure there lasted until the end of that decade. Back in his home town Kidderminster he teamed up with old friends and formed Bronco. Two of those old friends were Kevyn Gammond and Paul Lockey. They had previously rubbed shoulders with Robert Plant and John Bonham in Birmingham UK band The Band Of Joy. After two albums a serious road accident effectively ended Bronco. After a period of session work Jess joined up with ex Doors John Densmore and Robbie Krieger as The Butts Band. America didn’t suit Jess though so he returned to England. On the way back though he stopped off in New Orleans and recorded with Allen Toussaint and The Meters (as you do!). Four of the eight tracks on his 1974 album “Jess Roden” are from that recording session, the rest of the tracks were recorded in London with musicians whose work he enjoyed. Jess recorded as The Jess Roden Band with some success throughout most of the rest of the seventies. Since then it would appear that he has flitted in and out of the music scene. (Apparently he did backing vocals on Grace Jones’ 1981 Nightclubbing).

Lots of name dropping there! And here’s another one – Harry Robinson. Who? He was responsible for the strings on “On Broadway” and another great track on this album “I’m On Your Side”. I'm a sucker for string arrangements such as these. Incidentally, he was also responsible for the hauntingly beautiful strings on Nick Drake’s “River Man”. You can read more about “Harry” here, and see an extensive list of his credits here (I would love to know which track(s) he produced on “Dawning Of A New Era: The Roots Of Skinhead Reggae” – if, of course, it really is the same Harry Robinson). The other track featured here “Feelin’ Easy” is one of the four recorded in New Orleans, and all the NOLA crowd are on it.

Jess Roden – On Broadway 1974
Jess Roden – Feelin’ Easy 1974

The CD of the original album "Jess Roden" can be found here.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Borrowed inventory - part 2 (subtitle: No Say, Jose?)

Here is the second album of borrowed inventory from my colleague’s flat. (I really should call it an apartment, ‘flat’ seems such an ugly word to describe an abode).

As I said in my previous post there is a smattering of soul in this acquired collection – but only a smattering. All the stranger then that one of the few soul representations is “Young And Ready”, an obscure 1980 album of 60s output from The Ohio Players that originally appeared on the Compass and Capitol labels.

Sometime last year I featured The Ohio Players “Here Today And Gone Tomorrow” which was from the same era. That track isn’t on this album but it does feature at least two other killer tracks. “It’s A Crying Shame” was already familiar, as I had picked up the Compass 45 recently. “You Don’t Mean It’ was new to me though, and it certainly made me sit up and pay attention late one night after one final whisky. My colleague had dropped off and was quietly snoring on the other sofa – he’s not a soul fan, but nevertheless I feel it was his loss not to hear this track.

I had made my mind up to post these two tracks about 10 days ago. Since then, with the recent events surrounding my beloved football team, Chelsea, their titles seem perfectly appropriate.

I am still in shock and it’s fair to say at his point I am feeling completely disillusioned. There was always a feeling that we, the fans, were close to living in Playstationland since Abramovich bought the club. Now he has pressed the wrong button on his controller and engineered the exit of one of best football managers in the world, and just about the best thing that ever happened to Chelsea.

The Russian and his cronies have talked a lot about creating a dynasty at the club. Well it seems more like Dallas to me, and Abramovich is certainly the poison dwarf. Right now, while he continues to rule at Stamford Bridge, I have come to the realisation that I no longer care whether they win or lose. After over 40 years as a loyal Chelsea supporter that’s a painful admission to make. It is indeed a crying shame. Abramovich, you don’t mean it, do you? Oh dear, you do don’t you! You want to be the owner AND the manager of your plaything. More expensive galacticos, mid table mediocrity, and the Intertoto Cup are just around the corner.

Sorry. As you can tell I’m a bit upset right now. Let’s just listen to the music.

The Ohio Players – It’s A Crying Shame 1967/8
The Ohio Players – You Don’t Mean It 1967/8

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Borrowed inventory - part 1

Regulars around here may have gathered that I spend some time in Germany on business now and then, and that when I do I have been known to end up late at night at an English colleague’s flat drinking whisky and putting his CD collection through its paces.

Well, I was in Germany again last week, my colleague has moved into a new flat, and yes, we were drinking whisky and listening to music into the early hours once again (we did some work during the day too, in case you were wondering!).

His flat is ‘furnished’, and what do you know? – included in the inventory is a circa 1985 (guess) set of hi-fi separates including a turntable (Dual 505 – same as mine!), AND a collection of vinyl albums to go with it! Result!

The vinyl collection turns out to be varied and cosmopolitan. Bits of classical, jazz, folk, rock (plenty of Stones), 80s disco, early rap/hip-hop compilations, rock and roll compilations, heavy metal, Peruvian and many point South American, flamenco, a smattering of soul – it’s all there and more.

I thought of you, dear readers/listeners, and smuggled out a couple of albums to share in this and the next post. Hopefully, baggage handlers willing, I can reunite them with their eclectic friends in one piece next week.

First up is Hugh Masekela on Tamla Motown! A quick bit of research failed to pinpoint this album on the Internet but the label states Holland as the country of release. Year of release was 1971. It was released on Chisa in the US and Rare Earth in the UK. (Chisa was owned by Hugh Masekela and producer Stewart Levine and distibuted by Motown in the US, and Rare Earth was part of the Motown family, so that all makes sense). The “Union Of South Africa” were primarily Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwnagwa, and Caiphus Semenya, and they were joined by an impressive line up of musicians on this album including most of the Crusaders (Joe Sample, Wayne Henderson, and Wilton Felder). Interestingly Wayne Henderson is playing drums and not his normal instrument, the trombone. Apparently he also played drums on Hugh Masekela’s 1968 hit “Grazing In The Grass”.

The note on the back cover of the album states: “The gentlemen who have created the music contained in this album were born and raised in the Union Of South Africa. Since leaving their homeland in the early 1960’s the country’s name has been changed to the Republic Of South Africa. Due to prevailing government policies, it is doubtful that hey would ever be allowed to return to their place of birth. They remain here in the United States and call themselves the Union Of South Africa.”

Thankfully in the ensuing years conditions in South Africa did change and Hugh Masekela in fact returned to his homeland in 1990.

This album did get a CD release in 1994.

Hugh Masekela & The Union Of South Africa – Ade 1971
Hugh Masekela & The Union Of South Africa – Shebeen 1971

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My favourite month

If you’re a regular visitor here you will have noticed my posts have become a little less frequent of late. The fact is lately my life has been so full of general stuff there has been little time left for indulging my passion for vinyl gazing. And looking at the next few weeks there would appear to be plenty more stuff around the corner. I’m not complaining, it’s mostly good stuff: a holiday, long weekends with friends, my job taking me away from home (but with the partial novelty of that being in another country, and working with colleagues I know and respect, that qualifies as a good thing). Then later this month our daughter is off to University so the logistics surrounding that will take up some more time (she has always been a bit of a home bird and it’s going to be very strange not having her around).

This week I had intended to put up a post a couple of days ago but a not so good thing has been consuming all my spare time. My son had been saving up for a fancy new HDTV to "improve his gaming experience". It arrived this week and we have spent just about all our spare time ever since trying to understand the myriad of connection options and picture settings involved in setting it up to a) work at all with his Xbox360, and b) get the picture to look at least as good as our three year old standard no nonsense TV in the lounge. We are gradually winning the battle but it really shouldn’t be this difficult. A case of technology going too far too quick I think, and I can’t help thinking that we’ve been suckered by the hype of the whole HD bandwagon.

I digress, but I needed to get that off my chest. Back to the point I was intending to make at the beginning of this post. It’s not unusual to see a blogger announce a hiatus, and I’ve stumbled across a few who have recently. Whether you go on one or have one I’m not sure. I’m also not sure how long a break in posts has to be before it constitutes a hiatus. I have no intention of taking a break, but just to warn you that posts may continue to be somewhat sporadic over the next few weeks. I’m sure my gaps won’t qualify as a hiatus per se, but let’s just say their infrequency may qualify as a hiatus from the normal beat of things around here.

I have been reminded that I was going to put up the instrumental version of The Royal Rasses side that I posted a while back. It’s up now.

That’s the end of the public announcements, now, as they say, on with the show…

September is my favourite month. In the UK we are often graced with calm, sunny and dry weather in September, and it is usually pleasantly warm. There is a beautifully serene feel to the month: a stillness in the air, a mellow almost washed-out quality to the light. The late afternoon shadows seem that bit longer. The sound of a distant motorbike seems muted. The trees and hedgerows are starting to display their autumn wonder. Nature will soon be locking down as the days draw in. I always find myself in reflective mood, there is the feeling of another chapter ending. I love it.

So far this September looks like living up to all my expectations, and after the shocking summer we have had that’s a blessing. It seems that in the excitement of its early appearance in April, rather like an athlete who hadn’t done enough pre-season training, summer tore a muscle and was banished to the treatment table. From May to August summer hardly made an appearance, and only now in September does it appear to be returning for an elegant swansong.

As a Chelsea fan the initials JT mean only one thing to me nowadays – captain fantastic John Terry. Back in the seventies though, indeed before Mr. Terry was even a twinkle in his parent’s eyes, the initials JT for me meant Johnnie Taylor. Here are three tracks from his seventies days. They all graced the Billboard soul charts during September. The lyrics may allude to stormy times but each track possesses a beautifully restrained feel that fits so well with my impression of September. And what do you know? One is even called "It’s September".

Johnnie Taylor – It’s September 1974
Johnnie Taylor – Cheaper To Keep Her 1973
Johnnie Taylor – Stop Doggin’ Me 1972

Buy the Johnnie Taylor Chronicle

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sand between my toes and Shelly in my inbox

Well, here I am, fresh from a chilled out family holiday in sunny Crete. Actually fresh probably isn’t the right word as we are all still adjusting from a sleepness night caused by the 4am pick up from the hotel for the airport. In a few days when I’m back on track I may treat (if that’s the right word!) you to a few musings from said holiday. Then again I may not as not a lot happened, which is as it should be really, it was a holiday after all.

This post represents something of a radical departure from the norm here at Feel It. In my chilled out, quasi zombie state I feel I’m not yet ready to resume normal service and rummage through the vinyl collection, record and scan, research and link. Today you are getting something brand new AND not available on vinyl. Gosh, I’m feeling a bit light headed just thinking about it! :)

Shelly Bhushan dropped me an email while I was away saying she had happened upon this blog and thought I might like to listen to her new CD. Shelly hails from Texas and is making her way in NYC as a singer/songwriter. She has assembled a tight group of musicians around her and just released her first full album length CD “Picking Daisies”. The sound they produce has elements of soul, funk, and rock but is overall genre defying. You can listen to generous snippets from all the tracks here, and a few full tracks on her myspace page. What I have heard so far sounds good to me.

It’s interesting to compare Shelly’s debut album with that of Jean Carn’s, which I featured in my previous entry. Jean’s album was released in 1976 by which time the music scene was very much dominated by the big record companies. Jean had the might of Philadelphia International behind her – heavyweight songwriters, producers and arrangers, and no small amount of marketing muscle. The music on the album itself was lavish and polished. Contrast that with Shelly’s debut. The digital world we live in now is proving liberating for up and coming new musicians wanting to reach a wider audience. Shelly’s foray into the musical world would appear to be largely self publicised, through the Internet and her live shows in NYC. She writes her own songs, the band I believe are the producers and arrangers, and her recordings have an almost live feel to them. Although Shelly’s sound is undoubtedly contemporary her way to market and the production values remind me of a time before the ‘corporate’ 70s – the 60s - when many local and independent record companies existed (in the USA at least), operating on a shoestring. In the 60s local meant a city or State in America, in the 21st Century it seems local means a far flung bunch of like minded music nuts like me sat at a computer (not forgetting of course, in Shelly’s case, her loyal followers on the NYC live circuit). What goes round comes round?

Shelly, I wish you all the best and hope you achieve everything you want to in your musical career.

I’ve ripped a track from Shelly’s myspace page to put up here (hope you don’t mind Shelly) but as mentioned follow the links above to hear more of her work and buy her album.

Shelly Bhushan – Beautiful Me 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I can hear the waves gently lapping…

The weather has shown an improvement recently in our neck of the woods but we (as in the family) had already given up hope of a summer in the UK and booked a holiday in the sun a few weeks ago. We will be jetting off to, hopefully, guaranteed sun and warmth in a few days time so things will be a bit quiet around here for a couple of weeks.

In an attempt to fill the void I have put three tracks up today. All three come form Jean Carn’s eponymous 1976 debut album on PIR. Jean was born Sarah Jean Perkins and became Jean Carn when she married the Jazz pianist Doug Carn. Later in her career she added an ‘e’ to her surname although I’m not sure why. By this time I think her and Doug and parted company so maybe this was the reason.

Since her first solo album Jean has always been a favourite of mine, even though I admit some of her more affected jazz tinged vocals do leave me a bit cold sometimes. But if Jean’s vocal turns aren’t exactly to your taste at all times just listen to those Philly arrangements. In 1976 the Philly crew were turning on the sophistication big time.

“You Are All I Need” is the lead track here, and I think it’s stunning. It came to mind initially as the title was a good fit for a post I was considering doing surrounding bubblegum cards of all things. But then I had a sudden flash of memory and the title seemed no longer appropriate – what am I on about? I’ll tell you some other time, and when I have hopefully confirmed my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me.

But anyway, once “You Are All I Need” was spinning around in my head it needed to be posted. On playing it again for the first time in a while is suddenly struck me that the intro is reminiscent of, although predates, MFSB’s “Mysteries Of The World”. That’ll be Dexter Wansel at the controls.

“You Are All I Need” was the B side of “If You Wanna Go Back” which was Jean Carn’s second UK single. That makes it a real quality double header. I’ve put the album track up here because you get an extra minute or so.

And for good measure I’ve included another track form the album a McFadden/Whitehead/Life/Huff penned, Bobby Martin arranged number. The Philly guns were really blazing on this album.

Right, now where are my sunglasses?, Factor 20 OK? Do these trunks still fit?…

Jean Carn – You Are All I Need 1976
Jean Carn – If You Wanna Go Back (1976
Jean Carn – Don’t You Know Love When You See It 1976

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I hope you'll forgive me (of course you will), the inclination to spend time putting together a post has deserted me over the last few days. In truth when not in work I’ve been busy taking advantage of the sunshine that has finally visited these shores. If you are from the UK I know you will understand.

Enjoyed a very laid back weekend. The whole family whiled away a pleasant couple of hours in a local wine bar on Saturday. Our children are now in more advanced teenage years and going out as a family is becoming a rare event. We sort of all ended up in the same place after separate local appointments. The impromptu gatherings are often the best. The olds shared a bottle of wine and some feta and olives while the kids (I’ll still call them that) had Smoothies and played Jenga. Quite like old times. Then our daughter drove us all home with our son sat in front and the two of us sat in the back and in fact you realise how fast they are growing up.

Sunday, here, could be described as the only genuine summer’s day we have had so far this year – sunny AND hot (now it’s back to an Autumnal feel). Sat in the garden and did very little. The soundtrack to part of this day was Benji B in The Basement on BBC Radio1Xtra. It has to be the best two hours of music I’ve listened to on the radio in a very long time. The show is available on listen again until the weekend, you need to hear this show.

Here is a random bit of vinyl to go with my random scribblings, a group that needs no introduction I’m sure – which is perfect because in truth I’m feeling too laid back and lazy to write anything about it.

I’ll let the music speak for itself (sorry about the pops at the beginning).

Kool And The Gang – Light Of Worlds 1974

Buy Light Of Worlds

Monday, July 30, 2007

Unconventional reggae

This is a desperate attempt to kick start the summer here in the UK. For two days running now there has been a strange orange ball in the sky – yes the sun is out! - so I’ve quickly thrown some reggae on the turntable and turned the volume UP. This act is akin to throwing some more kindling on the fire in an attempt to keep it going or, in the case of this damp squib of a UK summer, to get it to burst into life and WARM UP!

In their relatively brief existence The Royal Rasses served up their own brand of reggae. The Rasses were led by Prince Lincoln Thompson who had been active on the reggae scene since the 60s, including on and off collaborations with Cedric Myton of Congos fame, who was probably singing backing vocals on “Unconventional People”. Their sound was a sweetly unique blend of roots, lover’s rock, a hint of soul, and a dash of disco, and featured Prince Lincoln’s soaring and swooping falsetto voice. The arrangements, instrumentation, and lyrics appeared to make them more than just another reggae band and took them into crossover territory. This was the late 70s and the mighty Bob Marley had crossed over big time. Could Prince Lincoln Thompson and his Rasses be the next Marley? Signed to London based Ballistic Records their first album “Humanity” and the 12” singles they spawned - “Unconventional People” and “San Salvador”/”Old Time Friends” - received a fair amount of marketing push. But to no avail. The Rasses continued for a handful of albums in a somewhat unconventional reggae style, and also remained underground. Marley proved to by very much his own phenomenon. In the end, perhaps, The Rasses fell between two (even three) stools, too sweet for the roots audience, not sweet enough for the lover’s rock audience, and as for the previously traditional (staid?) pop/rock white audience after gorging on Marley and his Wailers that proved to be all they ever needed at the reggae table.

The B side of this 12” is an instrumental version (that’s a dub then? Well it’s called a rhythm not a dub, and in true Royal Rasses style it is in truth a bit sweeter than a dub). I will put this up instead of the A side in a while.

I think “Humanity” was issued on a CD in 2001 but can’t find it for sale anywhere at the moment. You can find some of the later albums on CD, for example “True Experience”.

The Royal Rasses – Unconventional People 1978
The Royal Rasses – Unconventional Rhythm 1978

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Secret agents double-E soul

Eddie & Ernie – who? If the name is unfamiliar, and, moreover, you hail from the UK and are of a certain age, the chances are a lesser known 70s comedy double act would spring to mind; perhaps one that had never broken out of the working men’s club circuit. After all, we had the sublime Morecambe & Wise (Eric & Ernie) and the ridiculous(ly unfunny) Little & Large (Syd & Eddie) back then. So were Eddie & Ernie some desperate whippersnappers trying to follow in those comedy giants (well, at least Eric & Ernie were) footsteps? Or perhaps, after Eric Morecambe’s tragically early death, did Ernie Wise suggest to Eddie Large that Syd was a wet blanket, and wasn’t it time he ditched him in favour of working with a more accomplished straight man?

Of course you would be way off beam if any of those thoughts ran through your mind. Because, in fact, Eddie & Ernie can probably lay claim to being one of soul music’s best kept secrets. William Edgar Campbell and Ernest Johnson formed as a duo in the early 60s and their first release was credited as Ernie & Eddie. During the remainder of the 60s and into early 70s they released around 20 singles on various labels, most notably Eastern and Revue. Some of the releases were the same sides released on different labels. For example “Time Waits For No One”, their only real hit in its Eastern incarnation, had three separate releases, as did “Found A Love, Where It's At / Self Service”. They also released a few singles as solo artists and recorded as The New Bloods and The Sliding Doors in that time. Most of their output can truly be held up as classic examples of high quality soul music. Eddie & Ernie’s voices were beautifully matched, and their strongest songs came over as an effortlessly perfect mix of sweet and deep soul styles, boasting understated but catchy arrangements. Furthermore they seemed equally at home with both uptempo and slow numbers.

It was only a few years ago that I first became aware of their existence. I’m a bit vague now on the exact circumstances. I think I just stumbled across one of their singles whilst trawling eBay one evening (as you do) – Eddie & Ernie? that’s a vaguely amusing name, cue thoughts of Morecambe & Wise etc (see above), let’s find out a bit more about them, you know how it goes I’m sure.

I think it was subsequent to this that I learnt that the late great DJ John Peel had no less than three Eddie & Ernie singles in his now much talked about “special box”. Only two other acts had greater representation in that box – Charlie Feathers with five singles, and The White Stripes/Jack White with no less than twelve singles nestling in the hallowed collection, which must surely have been the result of a then current fixation of Peel’s. It’s funny, many people think that Peel was purely a champion for everything independent, alternative and "out there" at the outer edges of rock music, but of course his love of music extended much wider and he clearly loved and played plenty of soul music, much of it of the deep variety, and lots of reggae too. In fact, of 142 records in the “special box”, by my reckoning there were no less than 17 out and out soul/r&b records in there, which is a sizeable percentage. Eddie & Ernie’s “I’m Gonna Always Love You” (the B side of “Outcast”) was one of those records and it was actually played on UK television – it was one of those “yes!” moments for me - featured in a program about the box broadcast a year or so ago (if memory serves me correctly it was played over footage of Peel’s wedding to Shiela “The Pig” – was it actually played at their wedding, or was it chosen simply as an appropriate record for that point in the program? – can’t remember). How did Peel first come across Eddie & Ernie, I wonder? Were they a recent discovery for him also, or had he been in on the secret for a long time? The latter I suspect. I seem to remember reading somewhere that he was a lover of deep southern soul and was acquainted with John Anderson at the legendary Soul Bowl record outlet, certainly they both resided in East Anglia, and probably that’s where he picked up a lot of his soul singles.

Finally, in recent years, the secret that was Eddie & Ernie is getting out of the bag. First the late Dave Godin featured a number of their tracks on his Deep Soul Treasures series of CD’s, and then in 2002, together with the folks at Ace Records, finally issued a CD made up entirely of their material including some previously unreleased. You can read more about how that CD finally came to be issued here and buy “Lost Friends” here.

I’m featuring here three Eddie & Ernie singles I’ve picked up recently, two of which happen to correspond (not the same copies you understand!) to ones that were found in John Peel’s box.

I’m glad I’m in on the secret, you get in on it too.

Eddie & Ernie – I’m Going For Myself 1965
Eddie & Ernie – Outcast 1965
Eddie & Ernie – Time Waits For No One 1964

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Javan Dawn

Where did that week go? I’m finding it difficult to find enough time to put much together here right now. This post is therefore going to be short but, I hope you will agree, has a sweet end.

I’m decorating my son’s bedroom at the moment. I always play CDs when I’m decorating and as a result each room for me ends up with a permanent association to a particular selection of music. Going back a few years now, our bedroom is linked to Blur’s 13 and old John Peel program mix tapes. A couple of years ago our daughter’s bedroom got the treatment to a vinyl selection (the turntable was in close proximity at the time) including Peoples Choice “We Got The Rhythm”, various Earth, Wind & Fire albums, and Gil Scott Heron. Last year it was the lounge’s turn and lots of Reggae, Joan Osborne’s “Relish”, and Stevie Wonder’s “Innervisions” spring to mind.

Last time I decorated my son’s bedroom I was left with the lasting impression of Miles Davis' “Kind Of Blue”. As it happens kind of blue is the colour theme this time round for Ben’s room. As I slap on the Javan Dawn (a sort of deep turquoise – coincidentally very similar to the colour of the paint I had on my bedroom wall as a teenager) so far it’s been The Bees “Octopus”, Bjork’s “Vespertine”, The Be Good Tanyas “Hello Love”, and some of my mix CDs. And Terry Callier’s “Holdin’ On” was on one of those mix CDs yesterday and I thought that would be a good track to drop on here.

In an interview Terry did a few years ago he said this track was deemed too political for airplay! – oh dear, the roots of PC.

“Holdin’ On” is from the 1978 album “Fire On Ice” which was reissued on CD a few years ago and you could buy it here.

Terry Callier – Holding On (To Your Love) 1978

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hooked (Avalon revisited)

Once a year for as long as I can remember I hook up with a few old school friends, pack the camping and fishing gear, and head for the countryside for a long weekend of uninterrupted fishing (and drinking). Any of you who are regulars around here may remember a post about a year ago entitled Avalon. That followed last year’s event where we found a cracking lake near Glastonbury called Avalon. We liked it so much we went back for more this year and fished it three days running. We had varying degrees of success, but I was quite happy with the array of fish that decided to jump onto my hook.

As well as fishing at Avalon, the campsite we stayed at this time was called Isle Of Avalon. Of course lots of things around the Glastonbury area bear the name Avalon. For various takes on why, you could try here, here, here and here.

The legends, and more recently the Glastonbury Festival, have proven to be a powerful draw for a certain type of person – shall we say, the more mystically aligned - and many have stayed. I imagine it’s rather like California in that respect. I’m not really into all the mystical stuff but I have to say I’ve fallen in love with Glastonbury and its surrounding area. It seems to be full of friendly people and really has a uniquely magical air to it.

The magic extended to the weather and the fishing. The British summer has been a damp squib so far but we were lucky. The rain stopped ten minutes before we put the tents up and, save for a couple of downpours that were over almost as soon as they had started, stayed away until ten minutes after we took the tents down. On Saturday 07-07-07 Somerset was the sunniest place in Britain racking up 14.3 hours. That also was the day I caught the biggest fish of my sporadic angling career – a mirror carp that give or take a couple of ounces weighed in at, yes strange but true, 14.3lbs! Magic indeed! I tell you, legends have been formed around less. I’m betting we will be returning to the same venue next year.

Anyway, enough of my outdoor pursuits, it’s time for some music. The Mighty Hannibal’s “Fishin’ Pole” might be the obvious choice – but I’m not going to give you that – mainly because I don’t possess it!

I’ve settled for two versions of “I’m Back For More”. This beautiful song was written by Kenny Stover who with Johnny Simone were sometime backing singers and backroom hands on some of Marvin Gaye’s 70s output. Although uncredited, Stover is reported to have had writing input to Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” and “Inner City Blues”. Another claim to fame, if you can call it that, is that Stover lent Gaye his car after an IRS guy had driven off in Gaye’s car! In 1977 Stover teamed up with Simone and Alvin Few to form Leo’s Sunshipp. “I’m Back For More” appeared on their one and only album, the now much sought after (on Lyon’s at least) “We Need Each Other”. The album contains four vocal tracks and then “mini-tro” (instrumental) versions of the same. I always felt short changed by this when I bought the album. What I didn’t realise then was there was a good reason for this - Simone tragically died of cancer sometime during the recording of the album. It was released in 1978. Oddly though there was no reference or memorial to Simone’s death on the sleeve. “I’m Back For More” became a favourite in soul circles having been performed by a number of artists including Tavares, Marlena Shaw, and Bobby Womack & Lulu. The most well known version, and also best in my opinion, was recorded by Al Johnson & Jean Carn, which is here in it’s single form.

The title of the tracks I’ve chosen says it all about how I feel about Avalon, and the tracks mellow, slightly dreamy feel is in keeping with the pace of our weekend.

(In fact on playing it again for this post the Leo’s Sunshipp version is a lot faster than I remember it, so I’ve taken the liberty of slowing it down a bit).

Now I must go and hang out the dream catcher, and maybe I should buy some bells for my toes...

Leo’s Sunshipp – I’m Back For More 1978 [Darcy’s slower version!]
Al Johnson & Jean Carn – I’m Back For More 1980

Sunday, July 01, 2007

On a reggae tip...down with rain

Hope you like the new look. Need to do something about the header frame, and then see if I can get a bit more adventurous with the general layout, but all in all it proved to be a painless facelift. Just a quickie post today. I need to share some more reggae with you, and play a bit of ping pong with Davy H!

Thoroughly enjoyed seeing Culture last Friday and the gig certainly re-kindled my taste for reggae. It can rain as much as it likes (and it certainly is here in blighty) but it will no longer dampen my reggae taste buds.

My next post will return to a soulful vibe, but for now here are two more on a reggae tip.

Two Sevens Clash” is from the album of the same name and Culture’s first in 1977. Dhaima’s “Ina Jah Children” is also from 1977, I think. The DJ (or should that be sound system) at the Culture gig played this and prompted me to dig out my copy which, I’m glad to say, is in much better nick than his was!

Culture – Two Sevens Clash 1977
Dhaima – Ina Jah Children 1977

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I know, I'm working on it

Just a warning, things could look a bit strange here for a bit. For a while I’ve been thinking I should add an image the header of this page, and maybe play around with the layout a bit. I’ve finally decided on the image for the header, now I just have to work out how to add it and size it. With the new Blogger this is supposed to be a lot easier but first I have to upgrade to the new way of coding templates – or layouts as they are now called. Once I do this all sorts of layout tweaking should become easier, or so I’m promised.

But Blogger warns me to back up by template and tells me that some features will be lost in the upgrade and will need to be reinstated once I’m in the brave new world. Hmmm, now I’m getting nervous. Only a few years ago I would have relished the challenge and would have grabbed Blogger’s widgets with both hands. Now I’m just fannying about with font selection which in all truth is just a displacement task really. Time to take a deep breath. But who knows, if it all goes swimmingly there may be no stopping my urge to fiddle with the layout.

Recently I have bumped into a couple of comments on other blogs from Davy H over at The Ghost Of Electricity. He’s hankering after more reggae in the blogosphere.

It’s funny, this time last year, I was listening to a lot of reggae. I think this must have had something to do with the weather, which was glorious at the time. Not so this year, the weather is awful and I think it’s drowning my reggae taste buds. I’ve listened to a few tracks recently, but even the familiar hasn’t grabbed me. This is worrying, especially as I’m going to see Culture live in a few days time.

Anyway, reggae pops up here now and then, so I will happily oblige Davy H today. “Concious Man” (sic) from Dr Alimantado was another single that was pulled from one my boxes during my ‘randomising session’ described in my previous post. Looks like the guys at GGs could have done with a label preview button, and polished up the spelling before pressing. You can learn more about the good Doctor, and buy a compilation CD, here. “Conscious Man” borrows the riddim from Horace Andy’s “Fever”, as it seems do a few other tunes!

And just to reiterate, if it all goes a bit weird here over the next few days it’s not Blogger’s server catching a cold. These are the workings of a man concious (sic!) that he is messing it up and frantically attempting to put all right again!

Dr. Alimantado – Conscious Man 1977
(released on GGs in 1978)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gert lush

Look at me - it’s 1978, a year on down the line, and I’m still writing on my labels.

I pulled this one out of the box during a well overdue refiling session earlier this week. I needed to enlist the dining room table to in the sorting phase which prompted me to bring a couple of boxes down and into the same room as the turntable. I then spent the rest of the evening on a fairly random puIl and play session. Lately I have been grabbing a few specific records from their normal home upstairs and bringing them down to play. But I really should bring the boxes down more often and ranodmize more, much more fun – a sort of antiquarian ipod shuffle.

Only inasmuch as they ploughed a furrow could you say that Slave was an apt name for the Dayton outfit that formed in 1975 and debuted in 1977 with the album that included the magnificent “Slide”. The musical furrow they chose to plough, though, was very much their own. Their sound had influences, what band doesn’t? I can hear shades of latter day BarKays, Brick, early Commodores, Parladelica, and Ohio Players (trumpeter ‘Peewee’ Middlebrooks was the uncle of Slave’s Steve Washington, trumpeter, founder member and accepted leader). You could say they also tipped a wink to the disco scene, but they were never in its thrall.

In the end their mid-west funk came out of left field and set them apart from other bands at the time.

The tracks here are both sides of a 1978 Cotillion single taken from their third album “The Concept”. Forget the lyrics, just listen to what’s going on underneath. Driven by the organic bass of Mark Adams it’s vivid, dense, and rhythmically luxuriant, all at the same time! Both of these stand the test of time and sound really fresh.

As we say (or used to say) in my part of the world - Gert Lush! (look up lush in the Thesaurus and any and all of the synonyms could easily be used to describe Slave’s output).

Slave – The Way You Love Is Heaven 1978
Slave – Just Freak 1978

Buy “Hardness Of The World” and “The Concept” on one CD here

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A long pot

I can often be found bouncing around tInternet like a cue ball that’s been given a good tonking by Ronnie O’Sullivan. This week, as I careered from cushion to cushion (or should that be url to url) desperately trying to work out where the side should be taking me, I bumped into a couple of references to the Pockets “Come Go With Me”. Seems this is getting some fresh action on the Modern scene, here in the UK at least, and it’s in demand - watch it go and all that.

Some of us remember when this was a new release. As you can see from the label scan that was, again in the UK at least, late in 1977. Verdine White and Kalimba Productions in the credits give it away that Earth, Wind & Fire had a lot to do with this single, and the Pockets first two LPs. They hailed from Baltimore and lasted, in recorded form at least, a mere three years and three albums.

Why did I write on my labels then? I must have been mad! I can come up with reasons, but they sound pretty lame.

Along with three school friends we ran a mobile disco and we used to pool our records, hence my name on the label. But they were friends of mine - didn’t I trust them?

Then there is the word “fades”. I guess that was me trying to be a DJ, but hell, most records fade. Why didn’t I just accept “fade” was a default and write “sudden” or “stop” on those that had that particular type of ending that all DJs, back then, hated. Thankfully my penchant for writing on labels didn’t last long, I graduated to writing similar information on sticky labels (peelable, thankfully), and then eventually gave up the whole stupid habit altogether.

As for the date that was the anorak in me coming out, but at least that now serves some purpose and tells me the exact date I bought the record, and I kind of like knowing that. Of course my memory would have put it a bit earlier, in the summer. But that’s a common trick of the memory – the sun is always shining in fond memories, and if the sun is shining it must be summer.

I do remember clearly where I first heard this record, prompting me to buy it. It was on Robbie Vincent’s Radio London Saturday soul show. I should qualify that statement. I clearly remember it, as opposed to clearly hearing it, but it must have been a clear day when I heard it. This was of course before the Internet and DAB radio had been invented, even FM hadn’t been around that long. Robbie Vincent’s show was broadcast on good old MW/AM and Radio London’s broadcast catchment area was, well, London only I guess. Nevertheless, I was listening to Robbie’s show some 120 miles west of London so hearing it all was something of a feat. I couldn’t pick it up every week but with good weather and a following wind sometimes I would be lucky and the show would come through, just. Returning to my dodgy snooker metaphors - rather like that elusive long pot into the corner pocket (ouch!).

Pockets – Come Go With Me 1977

You can buy Pockets "Golden Classics" here

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pure class

It’s been a busy week – Mum needed to spend a few days in hospital so we have been looking after my Dad. Mum’s back at home now, and frankly looks like she has spent a few days in a health farm. Dad discovered the delights of my new DAB radio, particularly the theJazz station which plays a great selection of Jazz, and I think he will be investing in a DAB radio as well now.

This has meant there has been little time to consider, let alone compose, a Feel It post. At times like this you need to turn to someone you can rely on.

Ann Peebles fits the bill. Here are two tracks from a true queen of soul. The tracks are sweet and feisty in equal measure. Ann sounds sweet and pure on “Until You Came Into My Life”. This was penned with husband Don Bryant and released in 1974, the year they married. Clearly the song is a very personal statement. “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” was released two years earlier and will be familiar to all you soul aficionados. Is there a better example of Willie Mitchell’s classic Hi sound?

Ann Peebles – Until You Came Into My Life 1974

Ann Peebles – I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down 1972

Both tracks can be found on "The Hi Singles As and Bs".

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Where VG = Perfection

In recent weeks I have found my Internet browsing habits have altered somewhat. e-digging for vinyl and any titbit of information related to the soul music genre has been a well established passion bordering on addiction for some time. But recently I’ve found myself spending more and more time searching for pictures of automobiles – yes, I admit it, I am developing an unhealthy interest in downloading horn! And not any old horn, because the pictures I am looking for specifically are those of abandoned and derelict automobiles. You would be forgiven for thinking that’s more than unhealthy it’s dangerously close to being a perversion!

This interest in images of abandoned cars was sparked recently after reading a review of, and then subsequently buying “Roadside Relics – America’s Abandoned Automobiles” by Will Shiers a photojournalist from the UK. It is a book full of wonderful pictures, taken over the last 10 to 15 years, of classic American automobiles of varying vintage (we’re talking early 70s and back) and all in various states of abandonment and dereliction. The author notes that with both the soaring price of scrap metal and environmental pressures his search for such photo opportunities has become more and more difficult as salvage yard merchants are cashing in and selling up, and backyards and roadsides are generally being ‘cleaned’ up. So it seems the great crusher in the sky now beckons for more and more of these hulks and this book could prove to be a lasting legacy and window on a golden age of abandoned automobiles. Many of the pictures were taken in salvage yards. But there are also some of cars that are at roadsides, or in fields, or behind derelict shops, simply left where they expired, often many years ago, and these are the really great images I think. They make you speculate on the sort of life the cars owners led? How far and wide did the cars travel in their lifetime? What were the circumstances surrounding their abandonment?

I now realise I have always had a general interest in things abandoned or derelict. For example I find that when out walking in the country I am always drawn to that abandoned and weed infested tractor in the corner of a field, or a tumble down shack, or a derelict house. I enjoy browsing antique markets, and, of course, I like collecting old records. Now, these images of abandoned cars have really captured my imagination. The author, Will Shiers, says in the introduction to his book: “I just think there is something so poignant about seeing a once-beautiful automobile, a car that used to someone’s pride and joy, sitting lonely in a field or junkyard, abandoned to the elements and ravages of time…”. Sums up my thoughts exactly. It’s a wonderful book, you should really go and buy it.

But so what? "This is a music blog", I hear you say? Well it got me wondering about grading systems. What??? Let me explain, or simply ramble a bit more! In vinyl record collecting there is a generally accepted grading system for describing a record’s condition M, M-, VG+ etc. Most of us are probably, usually, in search of M(int) or M- copies – i.e. the copies that haven’t been played, or played very few times, with pristine labels, and, for a 45, a company sleeve would provide the icing on the cake. At the same time most of us will normally pass over a G(ood) as it’s going to be scratched and generally beat up. On the record grading scale M(int) is good and G(ood) is bad. Is there a grading system for abandoned cars? I don’t know. But it strikes me that in my newly discovered esoteric world of images of abandoned and derelict automobiles you could pretty much turn the record grading system on its head. For me, a picture of a car in an advanced state of decay is far more interesting and poignant than one of a car that is gleaming and minty. There is one picture in the book featured here of a 1959 Mercury Monteray parked in the middle of a salvage yard that looks like it has just been driven off the concourse. A great looking car but as an image of a derelict it’s incongruous. So in this world G(ood) really is good and M(int) becomes bad. F(air) or P(oor) are technically gradings as well, but let's say for the sake of argument they represent a few rusting panels barely hanging together and discount them because that’s not really my cup of tea. It’s V(ery)G(ood) territory that sets my pulse racing. The front cover of the book is shown here and depicts a 1961 Plymouth, which in my newly adapted grading scale would, I think, rank as a VG. Perfect.

To complement this Plymouth, newly graded VG, here is a record from my collection that in the record grading world probably also ranks as VG (at a pinch). Appropriately it’s on the Wheelsville label, and the title is sort of appropriate too. This record looks and sounds like it has been around the block a few times but apparently it possesses something special. It seems most of the copies that turn up include an incorrect spelling - “craked” in the title on the label. This one says “cracked” so even though it’s probably only a VG, maybe it’s still worth a bit. Not that I’m selling. This side of the label seems a few shades lighter than the other. Like the rusting beauties in Will Shiers book maybe it’s been basking in the sun for a few years.

Lee Rogers – Cracked Up Over You 1966

And the B side

Lee Rogers – How Are You Fixed For Love 1966

“Cracked Up Over You” appears on “Northern Souljers Meet Hi Rhythm” which looks like a good compilation CD.

And, couldn’t resist this