Thursday, January 22, 2009

Off to a good start

So here was a recording made by an American artist - Michael Franks - sometime in the 70s, pressed and sold in South Africa it would appear, now finding itself lying in a dog-eared box in a second hand shop in the UK – after sleeping for how long in somebody’s record collection?

And here was an itinerant vinyl junkie (me) on his first forage of the year, doing what he likes best – picking through boxes of cast off records. An album catches his attention, he looks at the tracklisting, and the title of side 1 track 1 immediately stirs a long dormant memory.

Whatever twists and turns of fate brought us together the album’s title “Sleeping Gypsy” seemed somehow perfectly apt in the circumstances. The hunter and the game, different but the same, and happy in our new found company.

Getting “Sleeping Gypsy” home and on the turntable the sound of the first few bars of “The Lady Wants To Know” piqued the memory some more, although not enough to pinpoint when or where I had first heard it. As it played through it was probably the first time I had heard it in, I’m guessing, 30 years. But it was really odd, I seemed to recognise every nook and cranny, anticipate every nuance of the melody. I felt a rekindled intimacy as if it was a song that held fond memories, or one that had been on constant repeat in the soundtrack of my life (perhaps as a track on an old, cherished and much played mixtape). But to the best of my knowledge that was never the case. I feel like my memory is holding something back.

I have another Michael Franks album, “The Art Of Tea”, bought many years ago in a cut-out bin. It’s pleasant enough but I sometimes wonder why I was attracted to it. I had thought maybe because I liked the title. But now I think I have discovered a better reason. I was attracted to it because I had heard “The Lady Wants To Know”.

As well as “Sleeping Gypsy” in that dog-eared box I found a couple more albums worth bringing home. One of them was Rufus’ first album and the other “New Improved Funk” by George Freeman, which looked like it had possibilities, besides which it was on the Groove Merchant label which I liked the look of (FleaMarketFunk featured the single last year, which I think I must have missed at the time. You can read more about George and his brother Von there). There were also other Rufus albums and a couple of other things I already had which left me with the impression that whoever had owned these records had been on the same wavelength as me musically. And the dog-eared box was also not tightly packed, leading me to wonder what other gems it might have held that I missed out on. (Ha ha! There speaks someone hopelessly hooked on the pursuit of vinyl).

All in all an excellent start to my crate digging year.

Michael Franks – The Lady Wants To Know 1977

Rufus – I Finally Found You 1973

George Freeman - Daffy 1972


whiteray said...

What's the attraction of "The Art of Tea"? Why, "Popsicle Toes," of course! (At least for me . . .)

Anonymous said...

What do you want to know about Michael Franks? A great voice that changed my life. Sleeping Gypsy is in the top rank of his albums. I much prefer it to Art of Tea. His first from 1973 is beautiful too, then there's Passionfruit ('83), Camera Never Lies ('87) and Barefoot On The Beach ('99), Tiger In The Rain ('79), Burchfield Nines ('78), Blue Pacific ('90), Dragonfly Summer ('93) - all excellent. One Bad Habit ('80) and Objects of Desire ('82) are pretty damn fine too, and Rendezvous In Rio ('06) and Skin Dive ('85) aren't too shabby. I can certainly live without most of Abandoned Garden ('95) which is a shame as it's a heartfelt tribute to Jobim (whose influence is all over Sleeping Gypsy), just without the chops. ENJOY!!!!

Robert Cass said...

"The Art of Tea" is one of my favorite albums. Every track is great. I first heard it in the winter of '93, and to me it's a perfect winter album. I've listened to it in other seasons, but when the sky is overcast and it's cold and wet outside, "The Art of Tea" helps me get past all the gloominess. I guess you could say I put on "Mr. Blue" in order to not feel blue. I also like "Sleeping Gypsy" and especially "Tiger in the Rain," but "The Art of Tea" is tops and always will be. Franks's voice and lyrics are terrific.