Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A coincidence worthy of a post

This post is really a reply to Raggedy and DavyH who both commented on my previous post.

I sort of owe Raggedy an apology for wondering if she was a granny! (She isn’t). I know you are partial to sweet soul Raggedy, and today I was thinking I should send you an mp3 of a single by Tomorrow’s Promise (that I knew I had featured many posts ago) because I felt sure you would like it.

Then DavyH took up the Quality Street theme and asked me where I stood on the QS chocolate known as the green triangle (because, er, it is). The perfect answer to that question would be to link Davy back to an old post of mine I remembered called “A Green Triangle”. When I located the post I found that the music it featured was – yes, you guessed it – the Tomorrow’s Promise single!

And the post was written soon after the Christmas celebrations (of 2006), so a triple coincidence!

So, for my complete response to your recent comments Raggedy and DavyH, you should go here.

(Of course everybody else is welcome to follow that link too).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Only toffees left

Blink and you miss it. Belated Christmas greetings to you all.

Nursing a sprained ankle after falling off the Wii balance board (and it was only the slalom repechage!)?

Forgotten that you all left Great Auntie Dora having a nap in the conservatory at six o’clock last night?

Regretting eating yet another turkey and pickle sandwich, six (count them) pigs blankets, the last helping of Christmas pud, half a block of dark and intense chocolate infused with ginger, a wedge of stilton, half a bowl of olives, and a fistful of chocolate raisins, all washed down with a (rather too) large port - just before you went to bed?

Only toffees left in the Quality Street tin?

It’s enough to make you want to…

Morning, Noon & Night - Bite Your Granny (mp3) 1977

But seriously folks, I hope you had a good one. We did. Except for the toffees (because that is surely a universal truth) none of the above applied to us, and I hope they don’t to you and yours.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chicago, Chicago

From the sound of Chicago c2009 to the sound of Chicago c1971.

Something uplifting for a Friday night.

Otis Leavill - I'm So Jealous (mp3) 1971

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Counting down to..... The Jordan Years

As we hurtle headlong through December it’s not just the end of the year that approaches but the end of the Noughties. And so we will have to find something to call the new decade – the Onesies maybe, or maybe not.

So at this late stage of this decade’s proceedings will there be any more great music released? Oh yes!

Mark December 18th in your diaries because that’s when The Jordan Years release their debut single.

I know this because, amongst all the usual PR stuff (mostly genre irrelevant to Feel It) that drops in my inbox, a rather more personal message pinged in from Mike Andersen, owner of West Town Recording in Chicago and bass player with The Jordan Years.

I try and listen to most of the music I receive but if it doesn’t grab me in the first minute or so that’s it – it’s in the delete folder. The two tracks Mike sent me were never in any danger of that fate.
Pressing play on the mp3 files instantly transported me to my favourite after hours bar (you know - the perfect after hours bar which is part fact part imagination). I walked in through the tiny basement entrance and was immediately surrounded by this warm, friendly, soulful fug – the smoke, the chink of glasses, the chatter … the music!

Yes, it was an easy decision to feature The Jordan Years here.

I exchanged a couple of emails with Mike and having asked some, it has to be said, standard and off the wall (or was that inane?) questions I can now share the following with you concerning the band and the studio.

What? / Influences?

There is an eclectic contingent of jazz heads, hip hop kids, vinyl junkies, and classic rockers that frequented the infamous parties and late-night studio sessions held within the smoke filled, brick-walled confines of Chicago’s West Town Recording. The Jordan Years’ dusty, smoky, soulful grooves became the unofficial soundtrack. They are an ode to the golden age of Motown, the DIY ethic of the new music business, and the winning spirit held within their city’s heritage. Wes Restless – Vocals / Michael Cole – Keyboards / Roger Panella – Guitar / Joe Dorenbos – Drums / Mike Andersen – Bass

The name?

The Jordan Years came about as a recurring memory of the best party I had ever been to. . . The night was Sunday June 14, 1998. The Chicago Bulls had just beat the Utah Jazz for their 3rd championship in a row, I was 20 something and decided to walk a few blocks from my apartment at the time and see what was happening. As I approached Wicker Parks "6 corners" I notice that there were at least 10,000 people partying in the streets, women were hanging out of apartment windows above the crowd mistaking the madness for Mardi Gras and vying for beads that did not exist, creating uproars of excitement below.
I ran into some friends of mine and we ducked inside of the Double Door for the Sunday residency of Acid Jazzers Liquid Soul, once inside the party never stopped, I don't recall the club even closing that night cause that was the mood, either we party all night in a club or we hit the streets and start shit on fire. It really was an experience. . . So, I ended up hiring Liquid Souls horn section for The Jordan Years record and the rest is history I guess. . .

Soul food - all those late night sessions, you have to eat?

WTR FOOD: Two places are consistently called while we are recording, Phillys Best and Sultans Market as well as numerous pizza places and of course Food Smart for all of our frozen food needs and of course beer, wine and cigarettes.

Do they recline? Sofa, so good?

CHAIRS: One of them recline[s] but the other does not unfortunately. . . No matching couch either sad to say. I did grab those out of a club in 1999/2000 or so called Liquid Kitty. The clubs lease ran up and they were forced to move, I was living across the street at the time so on moving day my roommates and I ran in and acted as furniture movers and just brought them up to our place, somehow I have held on to them all of these years. . .

Thanks for sharing all this Mike. And the fact you have visited my home town not too many years ago – but that’s another story.

I’ll let you (readers/listeners) form your own opinion but a reaction when I heard these tracks was to think of Jamie Callum. Jamie had until recently been bowling along Jazz Boulevard, albeit only a block or two away from Soul Street. Then it seems he reached an intersection and hung a right into Pop Place. Never mind, Pop Place is a dead end of sorts, a square. If he goes all the way round he can head back in the other direction – down Soul Street. Cruising past West Town Recording (or calling in, even – there’s a thought) eventually he will end up sounding a lot like The Jordan Years.

The Jordan Years’ debut record has arrived! “See the Light / Warm Me Up,” featuring Wes Restless, is available exclusively at Check out the website to get your copy, or come out to the official record release party: WINTER SOULSTICE at Darkroom (Chicago, IL) December 18, 2009. Also performing Emilie Jaeger Sound, East of Edens Soul Express, and DJ LA*Jesus.
The record was conceived and captured at Chicago’s soul emporium West Town Recording during the Summer of 2009. Engineered by Mike Andersen, Mixed by Michael “Harp Da Knobs” Casey, and sizzled by the sweet horns of Grammy nominated Johnny Showtime on Trombone (Liquid Soul, Soulio), Mike Cichowicz on trumpet (Tower of Power, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker) and Nic Meyer (Tributosaurus, Larry King Orchestra).

We’ll have to wait and see, but we may just look back at this Winter Soulstice and say – yes – that’s when the new decade got a name: The Jordan Years!

The Jordan Years – See The Light (mp3) 2009

The Jordan Years – Warm Me Up (mp3) 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

This week I have been mostly listening to….

.... Marlena Shaw.

I should have been doing this thirty odd years ago. It wasn’t as if I didn’t know of her. Robbie Vincent used to play “Yu Ma/Go Away Little Boy” back in the day (well, my day at least) – I loved that – and I had a 45 of hers, “Love Has Gone Away”*, which I adored, and still do. So, the clues were there, so to speak. I think at the time there was something about her jazz inflected vocals that left me not totally convinced I could listen to a lot of her. Maybe my tastes have matured over the years and suddenly I have moved from a stance of "Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?" because listening to her again recently it finally sunk in that her music has hidden depths, and she has a gorgeous voice. It was "Just A Matter Of Time".

I picked up her Anthology CD in a charity shop for a £1 earlier this year, and have also recently found three of her albums out there in blogland, which have resulted in my wants list growing even longer. Listening to these I think the telling thing is that even though some of her material may not be instantly accessible, and in some cases possibly even appear slight or average in composition, Marlena’s voice and her interpretations really make me listen and grow into the songs.

Her albums are like a luxury box of chocolates – on first look you think maybe not all will be to your taste, but no matter which one you select they all melt in the mouth (or, in Marlena’s case, the ears) and demand to be consumed slowly and savoured.

Marlena Shaw - Loving You Was Like A Party (mp3) 1974
from Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?

Marlena Shaw - You And Me (mp3) 1976
from Just A Matter Of Time

Marlena Shaw - Look At Me, Look At You (We're Flying) (mp3) 1977
from Sweet Beginnings

* "Love Has Gone Away" came from the LP "Just A Matter Of Time" as did "Think About Me". To think at the time I passed up on a chance to have that track in my life. It's a stone cold classic and should have been a massive hit (too good to be a hit). Possibly the best use ever in a song of a pause (just before the chorus comes in). Thanks to Sounds Of The Seventies for finally alerting me to this track.

And, sorry, the following may seem totally incongruous in a post devoted to Marlena Shaw, but it has to be done (especially for UK readers). Christmas is just around the corner, so imagine it's Christmas Day and you’ve had the box of chocolates and this is a little stocking filler:

Quite probably the first and only time that Marlena Shaw and the Fast Show's Jesse will appear on the same page!

Friday, December 04, 2009


Recently London Lee over at the Chip Shop set me off on my own personal Kiki Dee retrospective on Youtube. In fact it’s not the first time I’ve done this, but I thank Lee for reminding me what a great singer Kiki is.

Lulu is loved and it seems Dusty has been deified. But what of Kiki? I’m betting that most people, if they know of her at all, will maybe only recall her later 70s and 80s output where she finally hit the higher reaches of the charts. Between 1973 and 1981 she broke the UK top 30 on six occasions, and of course hit paydirt (I imagine) with her 1976 duet with Elton John – “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – a number 1 in the UK and US. As is often the case with big hits though, that duet was by no means her best record.

In fact Kiki Dee was very much a contemporary of Lulu and Dusty, and in her early career actually sang backing vocals for Dusty Springfield. Born Pauline Matthews in Bradford she was given her performing name Kiki Dee in 1963 when her first record was released. Looking back at the whole of her career I feel it’s not too much to say she should be held up there as one of Britain’s greatest female singers. But with much of her early output almost under the radar, and with her fans seemingly holding her close to their chest, at best, perhaps, we can say Kiki is cuddled.

Kiki released a total of eleven singles, two EPs, and one LP on Fontana between ’63 & ’68. A big hit proved elusive though. Was it a lack of prolonged effective marketing that meant she didn’t enjoy much more success at that time, or the lack of a clear identity (many of her singles were covers)? It seems to me the music industry never quite knew what to do with her. Kiki was still young of course, and perhaps she didn’t know either.
Her 60s output had a definite soul slant with some ‘hip’ singles, and so it was she was picked up by Motown in 1969. Her Motown moment was brief though, resulting in a sole album “Great Expectations” (The US cover of the album was plastered in Union Jacks making a big play on the fact that Kiki was Motown’s first British signing. The UK release of that album had an altogether better cover in my opinion, sporting a gorgeous “head shot” of Kiki). This album did spawn a couple of singles, including the gorgeous “Love Makes The World Go Round”, which grazed the US Top 100 in 1971.

The Motown connection didn’t work out and 1971-72 must have been something of a low ebb for Kiki with no recording contract and only the cabaret circuit keeping her busy. But in 1973 she was back in the recording studio, signing for Rocket Records, and taken under the wing of Elton John and his cohorts. At that point Kiki took another change in direction, both image wise – girl next door, and musically as Rocket Records took her more into rock and singer/songwriter territory. The rest, as they say, is history.

You can explore Kiki’s life in a great deal more detail here. An excellent fan site, typically obsessive in places, and with a year by year timeline of Kiki’s life to date, yep starting with the year she was born!

During My YouTube trawl I was particularly taken with “I’ll Try Something New”. It came from her Motown sessions but wasn’t included on “Great Expectations”. After some research I came to the conclusion the only vinyl outing that track had was on a 1974 UK budget MFP/Sounds Superb album “Kiki Dee”. This was obviously released to cash in on her new found Top 20 fame (“Amoureuse”, “I’ve Got The Music In Me”). I was fortunate enough to pick up a copy almost immediately for a good price. In a way the album was a bit of a dog’s breakfast – the cover sported a contemporary “rock chic” picture of her whereas the record itself is full of her Motown recordings. It was almost a complete reissue of “Great Expectations” but a couple of tracks from that album were dropped in favour of “I’ll Try Something New” and “Oh Be My Love”, both written by Smokey Robinson – what a songwriter! “Oh Be My Love” was a track on a 1966 Smokey & The Miracles album and also made it to 45 in the UK. The Supremes and Barbara McNair, among others no doubt, have also recorded it but Kiki’s version really made me prick up my ears. The tenderness in Kiki’s voice really caresses and it has a great arrangement, complete with flanged(?) guitar.

To complement “Oh Be my Love” also featured here is Kiki’s version of Jackson Browne’s “Song For Adam”. Another beautiful song, it comes from the 1973 album “Loving And Free” and demonstrates Kiki’s change in musical direction when she joined Rocket Records. This album was on my very long wants list back in the Seventies but limited funds meant the list stayed long. I was lucky enough to find it at a car boot sale earlier this year and was happy to pay the princely sum of 30p for it. What goes ‘round, comes ‘round!

Kiki Dee – Oh Be My Love (mp3) 1970

Kiki Dee – Song For Adam (mp3) 1973

Kiki today. (As I said – one of Britain’s greatest ever singers).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Grizzled Skipper

DavyH over at The Ghost Of Electricity has been sharing with us some of the vinyl he was given recently by an acquaintance who was on the verging of chucking his records out! Can you believe it? I made this comment:

Word is getting around my friends and colleagues that I'm getting "just a bit obsessed" with vinyl. This has led to a couple of donations of "vinyl stashes" in recent months. But it's funny, I keep them separate to my own records and don't think of them as mine. This has confirmed my suspicions that I have turned into a true digger. It's all about the joy of the chase and the discovery. Only when you find a record yourself do you truly bond with it (he says caressing his Tighten Up Vol2 LP). It must nearly be time for my medication!

I thought I would expand a little on that comment and also tell you a little story that I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while.

Looking back at my childhood it is clear that my collecting instinct has always been strong, I guess it must be in my DNA. The first things I can remember collecting were corgybeers and taddyats. They were invisible but all over the garden, especially in the privet hedge next to our drive. I used to go out and gather up as many as I could in my little hands, take them inside, and give them to Mum. Soon I graduated to collecting something real – Brooke Bond Tea cards (British Butterflies, Wildlife In Danger, British Costume, Race Into Space etc. – I still have them all, lovingly stuck into their books). Then of course there were bus tickets, I Spy books, bubble gum cards, and stamps (I still have the bubble gum cards and the stamps too).

I must have been about 10 when a friend sparked my interest in collecting butterflies, and then moths too. We, literally, enjoyed the thrill of the chase with our butterfly nets. Initially we killed (in proper “killing jars”), and mounted our catches. But after a couple of years we grew uncomfortable about the killing aspect so we just simply recorded our catches and sightings. My interest in butterflies and moths has endured to this day, and I still record sightings of what I consider to be less common species (in fact let’s face it, they are all less common nowadays).

There are about 60 different species of butterflies that can be seen in Britain. Here is a picture of one of them, the Grizzled Skipper.

I hasten to add I didn’t take that picture. I have never seen a Grizzled Skipper……

Of course, now, my collecting instincts are being very much channeled towards the holy vinyl. This has taken on a whole new dimension this year (why not before I don’t know, he says, kicking himself) as I have discovered the joy of vinyl hunting at car boot sales. It beats trawling the charity shops hands down. In my experience the potential for an exciting find is much greater, the price you have to pay is usually less (often next to nothing), and you get to do your digging in the sunshine (hopefully) and the fresh air (ok, except for the occasional whiff of cigarette smoke – but then I like the smell of tobacco in the open air). All in all I have been very satisfied with my finds this year and I know I have shared a few of those with you.

For all the enjoyment my car booting has given me this year, though, I still find myself feeling a little envious of a friend of mine’s discovery a few months ago. This friend cannot walk past a rubbish skip in the street without having a poke around its contents to see what he can find that might be of some use – or value. A noble pursuit and one I have also been known to do. I’ve never found anything worth having though.

Anyway, there he was walking up to the local shop, in the pouring rain, when he approached this skip and spied on top of the assorted rubble, old doors, and general skippy contents a couple of carrier bags bursting at the seams… with records!

With, I daresay, a deftness borne out of years of practice he had those carrier bags off that skip and under his arm in a jiffy. The rain had got to the covers a bit but he got them home double quick and spread them out, opening the gatefold sleeves where relevant, and let them dry with no real damage done. I was duly invited around for a looksee and we spent a happy couple of hours inspecting his swag, which numbered about 30 albums and a few 12” singles mostly in great condition. There were a mix of genres including some soul, and as my friend is can take or leave that particular genre and knows I’m just “a bit mad” for it he very generously donated some of his swag to me.

These are the records I have acquired. They include some reggae which deep down I am treating as loan only because I know my friend is partial to a bit of reggae.

Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5
Jackson 5 - ABC
Jackson 5 – Third Album
Jackson 5 – Lookin’ Through The Windows
(all first press UK albums)
Freeez – Southern Freeez*
Mariposa(Butterfly) (mp3) 1980
Kleeer – License To Dream
Running Back To You (mp3) 1981

12” Singles:
D Train – You’re The One For Me*
Spectrum – Takin’ It To The Top*
Rockers Revenge – Walking On Sunshine
Hughie/Michael Administrators – You’re Lying/Summer Breeze
Johnny Osborne/Aswad – Don’t Bite The Hand (10”)
Lloyd Parks – Reservation For Two
Weapon Of Peace - If (mp3) 1981

(* I have these already, I ought to give them back really!)

However, as I said in my comment above, I keep all of these records separate to my own because, although the circumstances of their discovery were wonderful, and I am deeply grateful to my friend for letting me have them, at the end of the day it was not me that found them and therefore somehow I don’t think of them as belonging to me. And so it is I have come to realise that this collecting lark is not simply about accumulation. The nature of the hunt and the acquisition is important and is something that I have to initiate and conduct myself in order to feel, truly, that a record is mine.

Hang on a minute, quick, where’s my camera? There – snap - got it! Well, blow me, look at that:

It’s the grizzled skipper!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Marva delivered the goods in Bristol last night! Don't be fooled by some of the YouTube clips of some of her live performances over the last couple of years. I can testify that, at 65 years young, her pipes are in full working order. Wow!

Her UK dates are finished tonight in Leeds, but if you live in France or Australia she could be coming to a venue near you soon. Catch her if you can.

Here's one of her string of singles on King at the end of the sixties. Loud and raw - just like last night's gig.

Marva Whitney - Things Got To Get Better (Get Together) 1968

All things Marva can be found here.

Buy "It's My Thing".

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm pinching myself

Less than 2 hours from now I'll be watching Marva Whitney in my home town!

I can't quite believe it!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tapping My Feet #12

I’m still here. The PC has been doing some strange things these past days. It’s been running really slow and put me off using it much. It seems to have mended itself at the moment, but I know deep down that the time is nearly upon me. Four (or is it five?) years of files and programs mostly long unused and forgotten act like a comfort blanket, but they are now lying a bit heavy. Yes, – it’s time I reloaded the operating system. So if I disappear for another couple of weeks you will know what’s going down.

The computer’s contrariness has not been the only reason I’ve been quiet though. Me, Mrs Darce and a couple of good friends have just got back from a great long weekend in Krakow. I’ll have some honey in that vodka, please.

Strolling through the old Jewish quarter on Friday night we heard this seeping out of a bar. Took me back thirty years, to my DJ days, in an instant.

War – The World is A Ghetto 1979

The original (and very different) version can be found on this.

My 12” copy states the time as being 13:47 (!) but in fact it is only a mere 8:45. It is possible the full length version is on “Music Band II”, if you can find it.

Friday, November 06, 2009

coming to you live! recorded highlights

Was Mrs Darce's party a week ago already? Time passes at warp speed once you reach 50 it seems.

So the plan was, with the party in full swing, I would press the publish button and give you a post entitled "coming to you live!". Nice idea, but it wasn't to be. Too busy chatting to old friends - and burning up the (kitchen) dance floor (ha! ha!). A good time was had by all and we got the milk in before we went to bed!

Truth is the suddenly darker nights seem to have made me very lethargic these past few days. So to be very lazy I will simply offer you up the post I had originally intended for last Friday, original wording and all.

If you're reading this I have managed to press the publish button during Mrs Darce's party!

I must point out that is not Mrs. Darce in the picture ( - but that does give me an idea!)

This was a boot sale purchase last week for 50p. Well scratched and a couple of jumps along the way but it all adds to the atmosphere.

This track has survived very well though.

Upsetters - Live Injection 1969

(From "Tighten Up Volume 2")

The song title retains its relevance right now as I think I need a live injection to banish my lethargy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

counting down

"Mrs Darce" is 50 today!

We're having a party.

Guests due to arrive in 2 hours time (except for those still stuck on the M25!).

Here's something to ease us gently into the proceedings...

... and something that will be perfect for about 4 o'clock tomorrow morning!

Little Beaver - Get Into The Party Life 1975

(Music delivery at the party will be very retro - vinyl in the geeks' room and CD and cassette(!) is set up in the kitchen. Not an Ipod in sight.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Funk, Jazz-, British

From Brit Reggae to Brit Jazz-Funk. Something to dance around the kitchen to on a Friday evening.

I've stumbled across a few blogs and forum threads extolling the virtues of British Jazz-Funk recently. It seems somehow strange to see twenty-something Californians (for example) "going mad" for a sub-genre of music that had gone to ground before they were even born. Warms the cockles of the heart though - I seem to remember it got more than its fair share of bad press at the time.

This was Atmosfear's second single, following on from their debut "Dancing In Outer Space". DIOS was a sizeable hit and this single too, amazingly, exercised the lower reaches of the charts in 1980.

This is a UK 12" but I notice that "U.S.A." appears, apparently randomly, on the label. Was this done to make it appear as a US import and so appeal all the more to all those DJs who had to have the latest sound (er, maybe I was one of those).

I also notice Elite's address was Craven Park Rd. in London. A road that was home to many a British Reggae label as well. Appropriate as "Motivation" in particular has a dubby feel to it in places.

As The Peoples Choice once urged us to do - jam jam jam all night long... now - I wonder - have I still got those blue shoes somewhere?

(Put your 'phones on for a head expanding experience).

My favourite of the two and it clocks in at under 6 minutes:

Atmosfear - Extract 1980

This one is a mighty 8:43, those were the days:

Atmosfear - Motivation 1980

Buy "En Trance"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

RIP Louisa Mark

Feel It received a big jump in hits today, all directed to an old post of mine on Louisa Mark. I wondered why. It turns out to be for the worst of reasons. It has been reported that Louisa Mark died yesterday (17th October 2009) of food poisoning. She was 49.

RIP Louisa.

Louisa Mark / The Bush Rangers - 6 Six Street 1979

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Keeping a promise - anyway

Raggedy featured Sam Dees a while ago and I said I would post a track of his. I've finally got around to it. On reading Raggedy's post again I now realise she mentioned this track in her write up - doh! I missed that on first reading. So this may not turn out to be such a treat for Raggedy as she is evidently already familiar with this track, but hopefully it will be a treat for you.

For those that know, Sam Dees is recognized as one of the jewels in Soul music’s crown. He is probably primarily known as a songwriter – see “S.Dees” in a writing credit and you are pretty much guaranteed a quality song. Sam has also released a number of records as a performer. His 1975 “The Show Must Go On” is recognized as one of the greatest Soul music albums of all time, criminally it has never received a CD release.

After a gap of a few years Sam was back in the recording studio in the late 80s. One of the results was this bitterest of bitter tales of a man finding himself in the divorce courts and in a state of disbelief at the proceedings.

In an old post of mine I featured Roszetta Johnson and two tracks of hers – one written by Sam Dees and the other by Lillian Dees. I described them as man and wife in that post. On checking I cannot find the source of that assertion but, if true, for Soul aficionados that was a marriage made in heaven as Lillian Dees was also a talented songwriter. Cheating – “slippin’ around” – and break ups are a common theme in songwriting and Sam has written his fair share on those subjects throughout his career. He is also adept at writing songs from a woman’s point of view. Part of the songwriters’ craft is to be able to put themselves into a situation and write from that point of view. Maybe that is all Sam Dees was doing when he wrote this song, but listening to this track you have to wonder if he is singing about the break-up of his own marriage.

We have some good friends who would appear to be in the middle (early stages?, near the end? – who am I to say?) of a break-up at the moment. It’s sad to see what appeared to be a happy and cohesive family unit descend into the stuff of soap opera. It happens in real life all too often, I know, and likening it to soap opera might sound like I’m trivializing it. I assure you I’m not, and realise this is a deadly serious business. Maybe – in the long run - it will be for the best if they do break up, but if they do I just hope for their sake it can be an amicable split and the sort of situation portrayed in Sam Dees’ song can be avoided.

Sam Dees – After All 1989

Friday, October 09, 2009

Parish Notices #7

It was one of those weeks. Both of our chicks disappeared off to University so we were temporarily buried under piles of transient belongings. The chaos then continued in the empty nest as we had all the windows in our house replaced. Diana Ross’ “Upside Down” and the Jackson Five’s “Lookin’ Through The Windows” would have been obvious tracks to play in the circumstances, but we all know those well enough already I think. Nothing else with a topical title immediately springs to mind and, anyway, that was last week.

So where did this week go? I’m not sure to be honest. But I do know last night I saw Eilen Jewell and her band at St. Bonaventures (a cosy local church/school social club buried in the middle of a maze of residential streets in Bristol. They consistently attract acts that represent the best of the Americana scene and I often wonder what these performers think when they turn up at St. Bons – once they’ve finally found it of course!).

Eilen and her band were hugely enjoyable with their mix of folk (as a rule I can’t abide the “full on” English variety, but American is OK), country, blues, rockabilly, and even a touch of jazz. Eilen has a great personality too, and struck up a real rapport with the crowd – I love her sense of humour. Truth be told after this performance I think I love her full stop! If the Eilen Jewell Band are appearing in a town near you soon, don’t miss them!

I should also leave you with something in a soul vein for the weekend. Here’s something I picked up recently that has an obvious country link (don’t tell me you don’t know “Jolene”). Gloria Ann Taylor was just plain Gloria Taylor in the late Sixties/early Seventies when she cut some straight up Soul/R&B singles on a variety of labels. One of those labels was Glo-Whiz. A great name, I’ve always thought, and it has just dawned on me how it came about because it transpires that Gloria Taylor was(is still?) married to the producer/arranger Walter Whisenhunt. Walt was an ever present credit on Gloria Taylor’s singles and , I’m guessing, was the genius behind the altogether more weird and off the wall (one could go as far as to say disturbing) arrangements on her later Seventies Selector Sound outings. (I thank Soul Sides for tipping me to this link which features a very rare 12” from the wonderful couple).

Gloria Ann Taylor - Jolene 197?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thanks again September

The sun has been shining, and my favourite month – September – has been weaving its magic again.

Prompted by some late summer sunshine a few days into September Davy H featured The McCrarys “Love On A Summer Night”. Here we are a few days from the end of September and the sun is still shining.

In my mind The McCrarys track and “Warm Weather” by Pieces Of A Dream are always together, like Siamese twins. I guess I must have put them side by side on a mixtape sometime back in the day.


Enjoy summer’s last dance.

Pieces Of A Dream – Warm Weather 1981

Thursday, September 17, 2009

you see doctor it's like this...

... I keep going to these car boot sales and – er – I keep buying these vinyl records only this time I bought these three singles and I knew I already had one of them and I knew I already had another one on an album and I thought I didn’t have the other one but when I got home I found that I did already have it.

Doctor: “So, what made you buy these records?”

Ah well they are great tracks and I couldn’t stand the thought of them being thrown away they needed a home and then with the one I didn’t think I had it had lots of scratches on it but they looked sort of superficial and I thought wouldn’t it be good if I got it home and it played ok and it did and I found that of the ones I already had they were on US labels and these ones I had just bought were on UK labels so that made me feel better about it

Doctor “Hmmm. Anything else?”

Well there was the Delfonics album which had a number of tracks on it that I already have on a CD but this album was a UK Bell release and I thought it must be fairly rare and it was only 20p and then there was this 1970 Roy Harper album I got all excited about I gave it a good look over and thought it looked like a first issue and I thought I could sell this for a profit but when I got it home I spotted the big bar code in the top right corner on the back of the sleeve that I hadn’t noticed before! doh! but I played it and it was really good and I wouldn’t want to sell it anyway.

Doctor: “Well, you rationalised all that really well, you’re obviously completely obsessed! How much did this lot cost you anyway?”

Altogether £1.65p

Doctor: “Oh stop wasting my time!”

Oh so it’s ok then? and I didn’t buy any albums just for the girls on the cover this time even though I saw a couple of Top Of The Pops albums I hadn’t seen before so that’s good too.

Doctor: “Oh, which ones have you got? Can I come round and see them sometime?”

This weeks monkeys:
Betty Wright – Where Is the Love (UK RCA 45)
Le Pamplemousse – Get Your Boom Boom Around The Room Room (UK Barclay 45)
Roxy Music – Street Life (UK Island 45)
The Delfonics – Alive & Kicking (UK Bell LP)
Roy Harper – Flat Baroque And Berserk (UK Harvest LP)

Acquiring this Betty Wright 45 again turned out to be a real blessing because it meant this time around I played the B side and found it to be a hidden gem that is not on any of Betty’s albums as far as I can tell, Betty is in fine voice as always and just listen to that bass crawling all over this track! The A side has always been a favourite, so a great double header that anybody could pick up for next to nothing.

Betty Wright – Where Is The Love 1974

Betty Wright – My Baby Aint My Baby Anymore 1975

Betty Wright on Amazon

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Magic in the air

I’m “bumping” this (as on-line forum-speak has it).

I have Ben The Balladeer to thank for bringing it to my attention.


I can only wish I had been there. There is something deeply moving about watching this footage. It is as if, for the massed crowd, and for the surrounding hills, and for all the life that those hills contain, time is standing still and everybody and everything are held, awestruck, aware only that they are witnessing something very, very special.

For those in the crowd Candi’s performance probably simultaneously made their day and ruined their weekend. Ruined their weekend because everything that they may have seen before would have been eclipsed and anything that followed must have felt anticlimatic.

From the SOUL!

Friday, September 04, 2009


The female soul singer is a wonderful thing in my book. For example my love of Candi Staton is well documented hereabouts. I was very late to the Barbara Lynn party but she is now becoming a new obsession. Barbara and Candi were born little more than a year apart in the early Forties and are both still very actively touring and wowing new fans. I have written about Ms Ozen before (over three years ago now), and a number of things have prompted this latest post.

First there was Audrey’s charming cover of Barbara’s 1962 hit “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” that I posted last time.

Then there is the fact that recently I have finally secured a copy of one of her late Sixties Atlantic singles – the fantastic double header “This Is The Thanks I Get/Ring Telephone Ring” - for a VERY reasonable price (OK, so it does have a slight pressing flaw at the beginning).

Finally there is the fact that Barbara Lynn has just appeared at the Brooklyn Soul Festival. It’s funny, when I wrote about her back in 2006, I noted that she was billed as a Blues artist. Barbara can play a mean guitar and much of her recent output has a Blues bias, but equally I suggested that it was indicative of the fact that Soul as a genre had all but disappeared. Now here we are in 2009 and Barbara has just appeared at a “Soul Festival”, and it seems with new artists on the scene such as Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed and Mayer Hawthorne Soul is very much back on the musical map. I’ll drink to that.

From a 2000 CD on Antone’s “Hot Night Tonight” here is Barbara’s gender switch take on a Syl Johnson number:

Barbara Lynn – I Let A Good Man Go 2000

(buy “Hot Night Tonight”)

Here is that single I bought recently:

Barbara Lynn – This Is The Thanks I Get 1967

And here is Barbara from a few years ago performing the wonderful “You’re Losing Me” – the song that started my love affair with Barbara Lynn.

(Is the room in the video the same one that appears on the front cover of her “Hot Night Tonight” CD?)

Friday, August 28, 2009

A gourmet meal at the pasting table

This year I have quickly become a regular visitor to car boot sales in search of vinyl. Why I didn’t get into this habit years ago I have no idea. It’s got a lot going for it – the vinyl of course, but also the fresh (and often country) air, and it gets me up early on a Sunday morning. In fact I’m in trouble again with Mrs Darce as I am now setting the alarm clock on Sunday mornings. On the working days of the week Mrs Darce will naturally get up earlier than me, whereas I am an owl and always need an alarm clock to get me up. The first time the alarm went off on a Sunday for an early morning “boot” she automatically got out of bed in a panic thinking she had overslept and it was time for work. It is fair to say I was not popular when she realized her favourite lie in day had been disturbed!

Thanks to these boot sales I find I am now buying records faster than I can listen to them. I’m doing a very good job of catching up on all the albums that were on my wish lists in the 70s (and, to a lesser extent, 80s) but never quite reached the top. A lot of these fall into the general pop/rock category. But of course I’m also on the lookout for tasty soul, funk, and reggae.

For example my haul from a couple of weeks ago was fairly typical:
Rod Stewart – Never A Dull Moment (LP, with inscrutable sleeve in mint condition)
Kate Bush – Never For Ever (LP)
The Style Council – CafĂ© Bleu (LP)
Nina Simone – 1982 Charly compilation (LP)
Long John Baldry – Let The Heartaches Begin (LP)
The Equals – Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys (President 45)
Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band – Hi! (UK Piccadilly mono EP)

(total outlay £6)

Last Saturday’s haul, however, was a bit different. I spent a miserly £2.50 and only bought four records, but it was definitely a case of quality not quantity!

An O’Jays 45 from 1975 pairing “Give The People What They Want” with “What Am I Waiting For” proved to be a good honest starter. Both sides prepared to perfection.

By way of a pallet freshener I settled on David Sylvian’s “Brilliant Trees” album, his first after separating from Japan in the mid 80s. This turned out to be the only record on the menu that wasn’t black orientated. I don’t really know what genre you would place David Sylvian’s music in. I’ll just call it beautiful – in a bleak and windswept sort of way.

At the same time I chose the wine to go with my anticipated main course. A perfect accompaniment to fine food is a good glass of red wine and would you believe it for 75p I found an album called “Red Red Wine”. The cover of the album looked like it had been designed by a five year old on their first excursion with PhotoShop! Except that PhotoShop hadn’t been invented in 1969 when this album was released. The Trojan logo and the tracklisting on the back cover pointed to the fact there was obviously reggae of some form in the grooves. Tony Tribes’s original reggae version of “Red Red Wine” was listed, and most of the other tracks were credited to Dandy or Audrey. I guessed, correctly as it turns out, that Dandy was Dandy Livingstone and a bit of research has now told me that Audrey is Audrey Hall. The record itself is good quality heavy vinyl, typical of UK releases of the time and the label – Downtown – was one of a number of Trojan offshoots started in the sixties. The whole album is wonderful – the unmistakable sound of sixties reggae. Most tracks are covers, including Audrey Hall’s cover of the great Barbara Lynn’s “You’ll Lose A Good Thing”. All in all, a fine vintage.

Now for the main course. I have to say I struggled a bit with the menu at this point. In front of me on the edge of a pasting table were three piles of 45s. As I looked through the first pile there was nothing that caught my imagination. The second pile proved no better and the way they were stacked made it difficult to look through them easily. My appetite was waning, maybe it wasn’t worth looking through the final pile. But then I thought – “What am I here for? And the third pile is a bit smaller. And what I have seen so far hasn’t been totally predictable, just not in any way mouth watering”. So I carried on and there, in the middle of the pile, I found the perfect platter. I knew the track (thanks I think to Scholar from one of his older posts), I love the track, I have it on mp3, so in a way you could say I had already savoured the aromas of it cooking. But here it was in my hands, the prefect main course. And it had an extra bit of spice, because I thought this track had only ever existed on a US released album. But here it was in 45 form, and on a UK label that I had never heard of before! A record so rare it’s blue? And it was on the menu for only 50p! So it is that I have been gorging myself ever since (with no hint of indigestion) on Kellee Paterson’s (sic) sumptuous take on Barry White’s “I’m Gonna Love You A Little More Baby”.
(I have now learnt that this did get a US 45 issue - on Shadybrook, and that there is at least one other copy of the UK Mint release in circulation as Manship has one for sale at £100! – I’m happy!).

I’m off for a post prandial nap!

The starter:

The O'Jays - Give The People What They Want 1975

The main course:

Kellee Patterson - I'm Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby 1976

The wine:

Audrey (Hall) - You'll Lose A Good Thing 1969

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Heads or tails, here and there

I have learnt to accept that the majority of vinyl hunting visits to charity shops will yield nothing as an end result. There is enjoyment to be gained nevertheless - both in the anticipation of what may be found next time, and from the buzz that occurs when actually riffling through the records in the shop (yes, that’s an addict talking). In my case that buzz, of course, momentarily goes off the scale when amongst all the Mantovani, Jim Reeves, Paul Young, and Top Of The Pops comps I actually find a proper soul - or funk, or reggae, or jazz - record. (I’m sure diggers in the USA will come across such genres more regularly, but from my experience I can say that UK charity shops too often are a metaphorical Sahara as far as “black music” is concerned).

The other day looking through the records in one of my favourite haunts (not a lot of vinyl, but all the albums seem to be only 49p, and I’ve had some good finds in the past) I experienced that special frisson of excitement as my eyes alighted on the name Wilson Pickett. Then I studied the front cover and had second thoughts – this looks like a late seventies album, years after Pickett’s hey day, late seventies = disco, this has all the makings of a mundane affair. Then I turned it over to study the back cover. The buzz returned: I read the magic words “recorded at Fame Recording Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama”, and I noticed side one track three was entitled “The Night We Called It A Day” – with a title like that the track just had to be good.

So, head or tails? A definite tails. (You may well ask - at 49p what was my dilemma anyway?!)

And what is the album like? Well it is late seventies (1978) and some tracks do have a distinct disco leaning. But Wilson Pickett is in fine form, his voice undimmed, and the quality of the musicianship and arrangements shine through. And what about “The Night We Called It A Day”? Well, listen for yourself, I think I was right.

Wilson Pickett – The Night We Called It A Day 1978
(from the album “A Funky Situation”)

As an aside, whilst I was searching the Internet for more info on this album and the writers of the “Night” track (Feldman & Grazier) I came across another song with the same title and these lyrics:

There was a moon out in space
But a cloud drifted over its face
You kissed me and went on your way
The night we called it a day

I heard the song of the spheres
Like a minor lament in my ears
I hadn't the heart left to pray
The night we called it a day

Soft through the dark
The hoot of an owl in the sky
Sad though his song
No bluer was he than I

The moon went down stars were gone
But the sun didn't rise with the dawn
There wasn't a thing left to say
The night we called it a day

There wasn't a thing left to say

The night we called it a day

Written by Tom Adair that is something special, isn’t it? The song was originally performed by Jo Stafford and The Pied Pipers with the Dorsey Band in 1942. More recently Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford(solo) and Diana Krall have also recorded versions. I thought I might find it on YouTube, but no. There are plenty of other Jo Stafford tracks on YouTube though. She was famous before my time but I knew the name, and maybe I have heard some of her songs before (most probably on Parky’s old Radio 2 show). I think I need to hear more now, she had a beautiful voice.

From Wilson Pickett to Jo Stafford – just another average day in the life of a committed vinyl hunter and internet trawler.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Beam me up

Over two weeks since my last post. That’s a long time, even by my standards. I’ve been around all the time, except that it feels like I’ve been on another planet. A planet that exists in a highly contagious cyberspace, is in total darkness, and is covered in laminate flooring!

I’ll explain the flooring first. That was a DIY project to lay a laminate floor in our daughter’s bedroom. Emptying the room was a major logistical exercise to begin with – our daughter is a hoarder (takes after me, then) and scattering her belongings all over the house to reveal the floor was like a game of Tetris on a giant scale. It’s the first time we have attempted to lay laminate and, well, let’s just say it didn’t start well. Rubber mallet and expletives flying through the air, it was al going on, or, more precisely all going “Pete Tong”. However, Mrs Darce proved to be a calming influence – as usual – and so in the end it all turned out rather well – even if I do say so myself.

While this “major” project was going on our daughter’s laptop got a virus and then, a few days later, our son’s laptop presented a “black screen of death”. I count myself lucky that so far I have encountered very little trouble with our home PCs. Until now that is. It is unbelievable how much time computer problems can take to sort out. Both machines are up and running again now thankfully, although the inbuilt wireless network card in our daughter’s laptop doesn’t want to play ball anymore.

I thought, with Vista, the dreaded “blue screen of death” was a thing of the past. Well I suppose it is but I now know it has been replaced by something altogether more sinister – the “black screen of death” (BSOD for blue KSOD for black I have learnt). This KSOD appeared to have been caused by, of all things, a Windows Update – thankyou Microsoft! (And we were not alone, we knew two other people who experienced it on the same day). A KSOD leaves you with no clue as to what is going on – all you have is a black screen and a cursor that you can move around - and restores don’t work. Aaaagh. After a lot of research, and finally some inspired straw clutching, I at least managed to run Notepad of all things (from a command line – good old DOS) from where the file browser worked and I could at least copy my son’s data off. Then I had to admit defeat and do a complete system reset.

It brought to mind a haiku that I remember seeing years ago, which went something like this:

A black* screen of death?
Turn it off and start again.
Windows is like that.

(* Composed back in the days of Windows 3.1 or 95 in the original it was, of course, blue).

You’re bored now, I can tell. I can assure you I was too after a number of consecutive evenings in computer hell.

Let’s get back to the music. From computer hell to 12” heaven. And I might even talk about the music next time!

Wilbert Longmire – Black Is The Colour 1978

(A version can be found on Wilbert’s first album “Sunny Side Up”).

Note the red sticker covering up the Tappan Zee-Columbia name. I have seen this on other US imports and assume it was for contractual or branding reasons as Columbia were known as CBS in the UK?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A sweet tooth

As befits my age I no longer take sugar in tea or coffee. On the other hand I can’t get enough Candi.

I took this picture last night at the Bristol Harbour Festival (it was my son’s camera and I didn’t know how to use it, so it is amazing that anything half way reasonable came out. And who is that on keyboards? - Mick Talbot).

I can’t quite believe it – until this year I had never seen Candi Staton live, now I have seen her twice, both times in my home town, and heard her utter the words (full of soul, of course) “I love you Bristol”!

We love you, Candi.

I know Candi has a strong faith, and I think she demonstrated that last night – true to form for another disappointing summer in these parts it was raining in Bristol, but as she came on stage the rain eased off almost completely, only to return to the really wet stuff after she completed her set!

Be assured, at 66 Candi is still sockin’soul to you!

Candi Staton – Do It In The Name Of Love 1972

(For some reason only the B side of this single was included on Honest Jon’s essential 2004 compilation of her Fame output. The only CD compilation I know this track is on is “Candi Staton – Top 20 Greatest Hits” on Black Tulip, if you can find it. But Candi’s original singles can be picked up for very little money, so go on, buy vinyl, you know it sounds even better that way.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

(In my case): pleased with my junk and covered in loft dust

It seems I’ve spent almost the entire weekend surrounded by junk – other peoples and mine. First of all I took in two car boot sales in search of the holy vinyl. Not much to report unfortunately, but for the record here is what I invested in this time around:

Stevie Wonder – Fulfillingness’ First Finale LP (1st issue)
Gruppo Sportivo – 10 Mistakes LP (remembered this group from John Peel shows – good fun)
Elton John – Honky Chateau LP (I have all Elton’s earlier albums on vinyl except this one which I bought on the then new fangled musicassette. Have been on the look out for vinyl copy recently to fill my collection. Bought this copy for the cover - the original gatefold one still complete with it’s extra flap thingy- which was in perfect shape. Alas, more than can be said for the record itself. Still, half way there)
Hot Hits 11 – LP & Capitol’s Country Festival LP (bought these for the covers – they both have, ahem, pretty girls on them. I have to say I’m getting a bit worried about this trend in my record buying!)

Today turned into a rainy day in (last year at about this time I posted Gwen McCrae’s “It Keeps On Raining” and said ‘rain rain go away come again another day – preferably next year’. So the washout July - in the west of the UK at least - is all my fault!). So what else to do on a rainy day in but have a tidy up? In my case, as I am a hoarder, a “tidy up” essentially means rearranging the various junk lying around the house as opposed to actually throwing any of it away. This can lead to some tense moments with Mrs Darce who is at the other end of the spectrum and whose motto is “get rid”. The tidy up process typically takes most of the day as I frequently pause to read an old magazine, build a lego model – or look at my old music cassettes (of course).

And so it was today that I came across one of my John Peel show compilations AND an old Sony Walkman cassette player! It had to be done – I put some new batteries in the Walkman, hooked it up to our DAB radio and was transported back to the Spring of 1979 and a blinding selection of reggae, punk, and a dash of r&b and funk. Most of the tracks are very professionally faded in and out (even if I say so myself – I’ve no idea now how I did that) so not much is heard of John Peel - but enough, as you can hear below. I’ve played this tape through twice today now and I was moved enough to wipe the dust off hi-fi cassette deck and hook it up so I could transport you back to 1979 too for some long overdue reggae here on Feel It.

Jimmy Riley – Complain1979 (you can just hear John Peel in the fadeout, and he’s right!)

Culture – Down In Jamaica 1979

Judah Eskender – Danger In Your Eyes 1979 (with John Peel at the end)

John Peel (the man himself!) Spring 1979 (mp3)

My quest now starts to find the Jimmy Riley and Judah Eskender tracks on 12". It could take a long time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Haircut - 100(p)

I was so bored at work on Monday I took a day off today to get on with some household stuff. We are fast running out of storage space so I decided it was time to board the loft space over our kitchen extension. Not very exciting I know, but more exciting than the office at the moment.

Managed to fit in a haircut as well and on the way I dropped into a few charity shops (like you do).

I was taken by the cover of this LP by Luiz Loy (and His Set) but if I hadn’t seen that it was 4 records for £1 I might have left it on the shelf. I found a Donnie Elbert single (a good B side as it turns out which I may feature at some point) but was struggling to find another two records for my £1. In the end I settled on (another) Shirley Bassey LP (I've learnt that there are often hidden gems on Shirl's LPs - although not in this case) and Boney M's Nightflight To Venus (yes, I was really struggling by then).

Anyway, back to Luiz Loy. This LP was released in 1969 in his native Brazil and in 1970 here in the UK by the looks of things. I'll be honest I bought this for the cover, but it turns out there are a few decent tracks in the grooves. It sounds like a mix of two completely different albums - there are some very cheesy instrumental versions of the likes of "Judy In Disguise" and "With A Little Help From My Friends" but also some "proper" Brazilia with the cover girls(?) on vocals. Definitely worth the money - and the haircut.

Luiz Loy e seu Conjunto - Chove-Chuva 1969

(from the LP "Balanco pra Frente")

As a bonus (think of it as a little hair tonic), whilst searching for more on Luiz Loy on t'net I stumbled across these two tracks which are both gorgeous and I think need to be shared:

Who will be the first to say what the Judy Roberts track is a dead ringer for?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The fields of England – harvest notes

I have been, variously, too hot, too lazy, and too busy to blog in recent days.

Things have cooled off a little now, enough for me to bring you news of my latest car boot sale haul (the suspense has been killing you I know :). After an initial success a few weeks ago I had decided my mission this year would be to visit as many boot sales as possible in pursuit of the holy vinyl. But recent weekends had been full of other pleasures so it wasn’t until this last weekend that I actually got a chance to get to some more.

No prize marrows, nevertheless my basket runneth over! My latest harvest has a distinctly poptastic, “Radio 1 is wonderful” vibe going on for the most part. Getting these home and playing them transported me back to my early teens when it was all about the Top 30 show and the simultaneous depress of the play and record keys on the cassette deck. For every single or album I bought back then, there were 10 other tracks I had to make do with on a BASF C60 (together with the occasional Fluff Freeman interjection). Now, it seems, I can buy them all in their original (and best) vinyl form for 20 odd p a pop in a field somewhere (once I’ve located them under a mountain of unwanted videos that is).

The latest harvest:

Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Alice Cooper – School’s Out
Slade – Cuz I Love You
Susan Maughan – Bobby’s Girl
The Supremes – Stoned Love
Stevie Wonder – Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday
Chairmen Of The Board – Give Me Just A Little More Time
Syreeta – Spinnin’ And Spinnin’
McGuiness Flint – When I’m Dead And Gone
Love Unlimited - Walkin’ In The Rain With The One I Love
Stevie Wonder – Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours
Nils Lofgren – Shine Silently / Keith Don’t Go
Peter Sellers – A Hard Day’s Night / Help
The Jam – Setting Sons (LP) - looks and sounds unplayed!
(total outlay £4)

Here’s a succulent selection of these sounds for you to keep you going for a bit. My next two weekends are again of the long and leisure filled variety, so postings will be scarce.

Love Unlimited - Walkin’ In The Rain With The One I Love 1972
(How good does this sound all these years later?!)

Chairmen Of The Board – Since The Days Of Pigtails (and Fairytales) 1970
(Every bit as good as the A side.)

McGuiness Flint – When I’m Dead And Gone 1970
(Oh how I loved this- and still do.)

Nils Lofgren – Keith Don’t Go 1976
(A backstory here – last Friday I caught the end of Guitar Heroes on BBC4. In the past I have vaguely thought I should listen to some Nils Lofgren but never really got around to it. The program included this track. I had never heard it, or even been aware of it, before but it blew me away. In all my digging I don’t remember ever coming across a Nils Lofgren single before but less than 24 hours after the BBC4 program I found this single at a car boot sale! BTW Keith is, of course, Keith Richards.)

Peter Sellers – A Hard Day’s Night 1965
(Genius – even through the crackles.)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

School's out completely

So that’s it – school’s out forever. Our son took the last of his ‘A’ level exams yesterday (a Maths extension paper, for three hours it was just him and the invigilator in a large exam hall). Our daughter is a bit older and already two years through University.

I can’t believe both our children are now through the school system. It seems like yesterday that we were walking them to primary school for the first time and full of the hopes and fears that I’m sure all parents have for their children as they enter school. Looking back, my school years seemed to go on forever (and were mostly enjoyable). I’m sure our children feel the same way. But as parents that time has gone in a flash, just another example I suppose of how time seems to speed up as one gets older.

In the circumstances this single from Cindy & Playmates picks itself due to the title. I bought this back in the 70s and for years have known nothing about it. I was guessing that it dated to about 1972 but then read this from the Numero Group’s notes on their “Home Schooled” compilation, discussing producer Jim Porter (ah – so Jay Pee) which may date it as early as 1969:

... 1969, he issued a crop of singles on his Jay Pee label, including a funky reworking of “Here’s Some Dances,” awash in kid-breaks and eerie vocal lifts. As the group grew locally, New York’s Perception label took note and eventually purchased their contract from Porter. The move spelled the end of their playing days as Perception brought in a team of session men for their only album. This same fate would bestow the Jacksons upon arrival at Motown. The LP and ensuing singles charted decently, but the Sudduth and Gogins family stopped short of pulling their kids out of school to take them to the next level. Years later Wendell would comment, “It was for the best, I think. I got to play baseball and be a normal kid. Michael didn’t.”
At the same time that Jim Porter was reconfiguring the Soul Impacts, he was also dabbling in a pre-teen girl group across town. Cindy & the Playmates, led by Cindy Redd (later of the Voices) and backed by Wanda Cunningham and Manesbia Pierce issued two singles on Jay Pee while in their early teens. “Now That School Is Through” is a classic kid concept song, yet still strong enough to have post-adolescent appeal. The uncredited male during the fade out captures the sentiment perfectly with “I think I’m just… just gonna lay around… take it easy.”

“Now That School Is Thru” may not be the greatest single ever made but it has a quirky charm. On the other hand The Dells “All About The Paper” is a bona fide classic. Its lyrics make it appropriate here too. Also, our son has been listening to the Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show a lot recently whilst revising and this song was a stand out for him recently.

Cindy & The Playmates – Now That School Is Thru (mp3) 197?

The Dells – All About The Paper (mp3) 1980

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On tour

I’m two thirds of the way through a mini European tour. That is to say the week before last I was in France (with work, so mostly I saw only the office and the hotel); I have just returned from a looong weekend in Berlin (boys – or should I say grumpy old men – on tour); and later this week it’s off to Kernow (ha ha!) with Mrs Darce.

Since saying a few weeks ago that I was planning to hit the car-boot sales with some regularity this year (in search of vinyl) I find I haven’t had the opportunity. However, whilst in Berlin I did manage to convince my friends that it would be a good idea to seek out a flea market or two. We walked around in circles for a while failing to find one I had some details of, but in doing so did find we all liked the district of Kreuzberg. In my opinion the only way you experience the real soul of a city is to get away from the big tourist spots – and looking for flea markets and records shops certainly enables you to do that! I did find one junk shop with quite a lot of vinyl. In the end though it only yielded a couple of LPs worth the 1 Euro asking price – and those I bought for the covers not the music. The fact that I could happily spend all day – given half the chance – getting my fingers dusty, AND also actually buy records for the covers not the musical content caused much consternation within the group, I think. Still, everyone had to agree one of the LPs (“Wolfgang Reich’s Neue Ernte” – go on see if you can find an image on t’net) was a gem and couldn’t be left in the shop.

Yesterday, walking towards the Berliner Dom (you have to see the sights too, and the Berliner Dom is definitely worth seeing), records were not on my mind but then we walked past the University outside which a guy was selling second hand books – and some records! I had a quick browse – well, you have to don’t you? – all the time thinking do I really want to cart around an LP all day long? I overcame that thought and was glad I did. “Cinnamon Flower” by The Charlie Rouse Band is a cracker. Fortunately it was “still in shrink” as the jargon goes because we got caught in a downpour later in the day.

Here’s a track from the album – beautiful to my ears - with a sort of appropriate title given that it was bought in Berlin and we are now of course 20 years on from the Wall coming down.

The Charlie Rouse Band – A New Dawn (mp3) 1977

Buy “Cinnamon Flower”