Friday, September 03, 2010

Scratching my itch

Last weekend was of the Bank Holiday variety here in Blighty. That meant extra opportunity to hit the car boot sales. Yippee!  
It didn’t start well. A Saturday visit yielded precisely nothing. The field in question was as packed with sellers as I had ever seen it, but there was very little vinyl – just a load of junk (ha ha). I thought I would be pushing my luck (with Mrs Darce) to “boot it” three days running so I gave Sunday a miss. That left Monday, where I managed to fit in two fairs, this time with some success.

The first venue is one of my favourites. For starters, at the risk of sounding a snob, it seems to be frequented by a better class of seller, and browser. As a result the whole air of the proceedings seems to be more relaxed, almost tranquil. So if pickings are thin it doesn’t really matter because I can treat it as a pleasant early morning stroll in the country – and there are some great countryside views to be enjoyed.
That’s all very well but what about the vinyl?, you say. Well, I didn’t come away empty handed – first there were four singles for 20p each (including Tina Harvey’s take on “Nowhere To Run”! but sporting lots of scuffs), then four albums for 10p each from a charming old couple bought solely for the young ladies on the covers demonstrating various levels of saucery (at the top end of which was Silver Convention’s “Discotheque Vol. II”, I’ll let you google it). I was informed the records would be going to the rubbish tip imminently and I couldn’t bear the thought of that – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! (But, ahem, these purchases do mean I’m going to have to find a bigger case for my collection of “girls”). Finally I parted with a whole £2 on another very scuffy looking piece of vinyl – Otis Redding “In Person At The Whisky A Go Go”. It was the beautiful original plum and orange Atlantic label that made me buy it. Almost plum, orange and red as it happened. I was commenting on the scratched state of the records we were looking at to a fellow digger standing next to me when I noticed blood on my hand. The records are so scratched they’ve scratched me, I thought. Then I realised the fellow digger had developed a nose bleed and there was blood dripping everywhere! “I never have nose bleeds, it must have been that five pound note I just took out of my wallet*”, he said. That made me chuckle. (*he had just bought a Tygers of Pan Tang album, remember them?).

Not a bad start to the day, but I wasn’t getting carried away as the records I bought to actually listen to were all in less than pristine condition, and the needle was yet to give its verdict.

Onward I went to the next fair, which was at the same venue that I had visited on the Saturday. It couldn’t be that bad again, surely? But after a fruitless hour+ it looked like it was.The only record I found worthy of note had been James Brown “Night Train” on UK Sue, but it was sleeveless and looked pretty beat up so I passed.  
I had decided to call it a day and was heading back to the car by backtracking down a couple of rows I had already visited. It was then I spied a few boxes of records I must have missed earlier. OK, I said to myself, one last dig and delve. And I’m glad I did because I found not one but two reggae nuggets (and a copy of Adam & The Ants’ “Prince Charming” album with gatefold cover which was in such stunning condition I had to buy it too!).

The first of the reggae finds was an album “Original Reggae Greats Vol II”. This was a budget LP on the Hallmark/Pickwick label dating to around 1974 full of tracks leased from Trojan. That and the Adam & The Ants LP set me back a whole 50p each. I also found a single by The Creations on the Amalgamated Records label. I had never heard of either of them but noticed J.A. Gibson (Joe Gibbs) and Jamaica in the credits – it must be reggae, I’ll have that, I thought! But again it looked scuffy and had a ominous looking scratch right across one side. I pointed this out and effectively got it for nothing. Now I was satisfied and happily called it a day.

So what did these scuffed up scratchy old records sound like when I dropped the needle on them? I was amazed. The Otis Redding album plays through without any noticeable surface noise, Tina Harvey is almost as good and The Creations side with the horrible scratch on it you can hear here. I think you will agree the scratch is, in fact, nowhere to be heard. All three are testament to the quality of British vinyl back in the day and also all represent serious bargains. Result! (Now I wish I had also picked up the James Brown Sue 45).  

Bob & Marcia’s “I Don’t Care” is side 2 track 1 on the Reggae compilation album. Listen to the strings (yes, strings) on this track, they are to die for.

Bob & Marcia – I Don’t Care  1972

The Creations’ 45 is probably my find of the year. Reggae vinyl rarely turns up, and when it does it is usually in pretty bad shape. Reggae is a catch-all term really, this 45 dates from 1968 and should more precisely be described as rocksteady. Just as I have backtracked into the 60s to fuel my passion for Soul music so I realise I need to be more serious about doing the same for reggae/rocksteady/ska. As I said, I was not familiar with Joe Gibbs’ Amalgamated Records, but just look at all the releases this little label made in 1968.      

The Creations – Holding Out  1968

“Get On Up” is on the other side this Creations 45. You can find it on “Get On Up” an excellent looking compilation of Joe Gibbs produced rocksteady from 1967-68.  


davy h said...

I'm a bit OCD about (not) buying vinyl that's all scratched up, but just goes to show eh? Nice hoard! I shall give them reggaes a listen later.

PS: Never had you down as an Adam & The Ants fan Darce: ridicule is nothing to be scared of?

Darcy said...

Davy: Ha ha, I see what you did there. I'm not a fan really, It was just that the album was in such fantastic shape I thought I would surely be able to sell it on for a samll profit. Though, looking at ebay, it seems probably not - so I will have to become a fan!

davy h said...

Good luck with that x