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