Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This is why we do it

I’m sure if you ask my wife she will say that my desire to hunt for vinyl has now reached addictive proportions. She is probably right. Increasingly, for instance, I find myself sharing with my friends and work colleagues the details of my recent finds and the finer points (if there are such things) of charity shop trawling. If I took myself out of my body for an instant and eavesdropped on my conversation I wonder what I would think of myself? An anorak certainly, and then perhaps there is a fine line between that and a bore? Well, there is nothing I can do about it, the craving for vinyl has got me hooked.

One of the finer points of charity shop trawling I quickly noted was that independent shops (for example your local Cat’s Protection League shop as opposed to a CLIC or Oxfam shop) will typically ask less for records, and will also know less about what they have. So more chance of a ‘find’.

I also then learnt that second hand book shops will also sometimes have a few records tucked away. My belief is that as they are book specialists they, also, are not likely to know the vinyl gems they maybe offering for sale for less than the price of a choccie bar.

By way of proof to my second hand book shop theory I present to you Exhibit A – a single by Denise LaSalle released on the UK(!) Westbound label.

I found this in a Falmouth bookshop a few weeks ago and was happy to part with the princely sum of 50p for it. (Stupidly I only had £20 notes on me so knowing that my wife and friend were not far away, undoubtedly looking for earrings – now there’s another addiction if ever there was one!, – I phoned her on the mobile and summoned her to the shop with all speed with some small change!).

I didn’t know the Westbound imprint had ever appeared in UK form. I wouldn’t mind betting this record sold no more than a few handfuls on UK release so that makes it a relatively rare record. That is always nice to know but in the end it’s what’s in the grooves that counts and I knew that Denise LaSalle + 1973 + a title like “Your Man And Your Best Friend” meant there was a very good chance this was a slab of vintage Southern Soul. The record had no sleeve and looked a bit worse for wear but was worth a punt I thought. And wow! I was right. This must rate as one of I my best ever finds. It scrubbed up nicely after a good clean with the magic fluid and I think you will agree it is indeed vintage Southern Soul – and it’s a B side to boot! (The A side is “Do Me Right”).

Denise LaSalle, now into her 70th year, has been ever present on the soul and blues scene over the last 40 years or so. In the past soul artists recorded output was often mainly in the 45 format, with albums being thin on the ground. Not so with Denise, since her first recording back in 1967 – “A Love Reputation” – as well as numerous 45s Denise has also released no less than 32 albums (see Wikipedia). That’s pretty good going.

I have almost none of her records. It’s something I feel almost embarrassed about, and something I need to put right soon. (Scholar over at Souled On has turned me on to some more of her early 70s output in recent months).

What I do have I present to you now. As well as the aforementioned “diamond in the rough” here is her big hit from ’71 “Trapped By A Thing Called Love” on the US Westbound label – sporting a design that yet again proves that UK labels can’t hold a candle to US ones.

As I am bowled over by Denise LaSalle at the moment you also get two tracks from her 1980 album “I’m So Hot”. Both were also singles. I loved the title track back in the day and used to play it a lot in my DJing days. Playing the album again I was also struck by “Try My Love” a glorious disco burner with a whirl of strings and horns driven along by an irresistible beat with strong Moroderesque undertones. The sound would have been out of fashion by 1980 but now it sounds great again. Southern Soul they’re not, and they prove that soul music had changed beyond all recognition (disappeared really) by 1980, but they’re excellent tracks in their own way.

Denise LaSalle – Your Man And Your Best Friend 1973
Denise LaSalle – Trapped By A Thing Called Love 1971
Denise LaSalle – I’m So Hot 1980)
Denise LaSalle – Try My Love 1980


Davy H said...

Shurely a classic Feel It post and I love it that I am now listening to an obscure DL single you picked up in Falmouth for 50p. Gawd bless th'internets.

Boy are you right about the charity shop thing - Oxfam is the new HMV! (only slightly more expensive).

Hope the Mrs was as lucky with the earrings x

mike_hunkin said...

My reaction to reading a "Feel It" post is to scurry off and check stuff in my collection....which is also woefully light on Denise LaSalle.

More interesting to my anorak side is the UK Westbound label, I have releases before and after Denise's, Detroit Emerald's "You Want It You Got It" (103) and Ohio Players "Funky Worm" (100). I wonder how many there were....not a lot I'll bet.

Darcy said...

Davy: I will hopefully be featuring more "finds from Falmouth" in the future. A friend of ours has moved (retired) to Cornwall and we now have an open invite to visit whenever we like. We really like Falmouth - and it has a great second hand record shop called "Sounds OK" (how quaint).

Mike: My reaction to your comment was to do some more internet digging for info on UK Westbound releases. I have found listings for a few more: 104 and 108 were more Detroit Emeralds releases (looks like they were releasing just about every track off the "Abe, James & Ivory" LP, and 105 was a reissue of Denise LaSalle's "Trapped"! (originally released on the UK Janus label in 71). You learn something new every day.
Now the hunt is on for the missing numbers!