Sunday, May 20, 2012

We've done it!

I don’t make a habit of showing my colours here but…..

I started supporting Chelsea in 1966. I vaguely remember them losing to Spurs in the 1967 FA Cup Final. But actually the televised game I remember more clearly from that first season as a football supporter was for some reason the 1967 European Cup Final where Celtic of Scotland defeated Inter Milan 2-1. Even though I was British I remember wanting Inter to win, I think probably because their black and blue striped shirts were a closer colour match to the Chelsea blue than Celtic’s green and white hoops (come on! I was only 9).

All those years ago – 45! - did I then dream of Chelsea lifting the European Cup? I think I was probably too young to appreciate what a big trophy it was. Over the years The European Cup has of course changed from a simple knock out cup sprint into the Champions League, a, some would say, over bloated league/knock-out marathon. Nevertheless it has made it hellishly difficult to win. Chelsea have come close, very close, in recent years to winning it and finally, in this most unlikely of seasons, last night they did!

I thought I would cry if that day ever came around, but I didn’t. I think, sat in the pub with my fellow fans, we collectively just couldn’t quite believe it.

Watching the celebrations in Bayern Munich’s stadium suddenly a familiar tune was playing – The Liquidator. Harry J’s classic reggae instrumental has, I believe, since its release in 1969 been played at Chelsea’s home - Stamford Bridge – on match days before the kick-off. It sounded, somehow, incongruous amongst all the glitz and crazy money that is now top flight football and the Champions League that this tune was playing and being beamed around the world to the countless millions that were watching. Wholly appropriate though, it was one for the fans (it took me straight back to the ‘70s and the first times I went to Stamford Bridge to see my beloved team play). A good answer too to the home fans' banner stating "our stadium, our club, our trophy". Ha!          

“We’ve” won it! Finally!

Friday, May 11, 2012

On a roll

I snapped up this little piece of Bristol musical history for 50p this afternoon at my local Cancer Research charity shop (this is the closest charity shop to our house, and I also refer to it as the “shirt shop” as I seem to be constantly buying really good shirts in there). On first play this 45 was a bit crackly but after a quick clean with the magic fluid (sat out in the garden – in the sunshine, now there’s a thing!) it has come up as good as new.

Charity shop to blog in under three hours – there’s service for you! 
As Steel Pulse were to Birmingham I guess you could say Talisman were to Bristol. For a few years In the 90s Brendan, the sax player and manager of Talisman, and I worked in the same company (the company I still work for, in fact) and worked together at times.  This time possibly corresponded with a low point in my interest in music and although I was aware that Brendan was a musician I think it completely passed me by at the time that he had been a key member of Bristol’s (and one of the UK’s), finest reggae group.    

The label it was released on was distributed by Revolver, which was my favourite record shop back in the day. Like many others, it is sadly no longer there.

I am very happy with my latest purchase. The charity shop it came from was one of the ones that contributed (and I to it if you see what I mean) to my haul last weekend. I’m on a roll, with a Spring in my step.

Right, I need to get spruced up. We’re going to friends for dinner in an hour. Dinner and a fair few drinks I’d wager. I’ll raise a glass to you all. I may have a headache in the morning.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Lost in vinyl

Having been away last weekend in Italy* with work the boot sale withdrawal symptoms were apparent as this weekend drew close, so I was hoping for at least one day of good weather. (*Unlike the UK, Italy had been sunny and very warm, not that I could enjoy it as most of the time was spent in the office – only managed to eat out for two of the five nights I was there, it was take in pizza the rest of the time). As it happened yesterday was OK weatherwise hereabouts, but in the end I didn’t feel the need to haul myself out of bed at stupid o’clock for car booty action because I had already sated my vinyl urge very well at the local chazzas on Friday and Saturday.

It is a long time since I had had much luck browsing the charity shops, and my vinyl hunting focus has very much shifted to car boot sales lately. Having said that, very recently I have been getting a bit disillusioned with those as it seems there are more and more vinyl hunters around, and not much vinyl around in early season visits. So it was a pleasant surprise to score some good vinyl finds at my local charity shops in the last few days. It was strange, but almost all the shops I visited seemed to have some new stock, and a variety that I had not seen for a long time. Perhaps it’s the spring cleaning effect; or are the chazzas finally cottoning on that Mantovani and James Last just don’t shift; or is it the “vinyl revival” stories encouraging them to put more out front? It’s just coincidence I’m sure, and probably a flash in the pan too, but meantime I’m very happy.

My haul includes some keepers (Jess Roden, early Bonnie Raitt, and late Captain Beefheart for instance) and a few that I will probably sell on that will hopefully more than cover the cost of the keepers. As it has been a typically wet Bank Holiday here in the UK what better way to spend the day than playing all my newly acquired vinyl.  

Here is one that I am very happy with, especially at the princely sum of 99p, Madeline Bell’s 1976 album “This is One Girl”.

Madeline Bell is a fine singer who should be better known than I think she is. You may know her as the female singer of the late 60s-early 70s pop/rock group Blue Mink. (Their “Bannerman” single was, I think I can say, the first song I ever obsessed over).  Looking at her back catalog it was a surprise to me that she actually has as many as eight album releases to her name, but it is as a background vocalist, session singer,  and stage performer that she has plied most of her trade. Her background vocals can be found on early Elton John, Rod Stewart, and Joe Cocker releases for example, and often in conjunction with the likes of Lesley Duncan, Kiki Dee, and Clare Torry.

The album “This Is One Girl” features the rare groove classic (so I am informed by the interweb) “That’s What Friends Are For”. This track is held in such high regard in that genre it got a 45 re-issue on the Jazzman label a few years ago. So is this album a one tracker? Certainly not, in my opinion. The session artists on this album include some erstwhile Blue Minkers, and the credits also read like a who’s who of the UK Library music scene – for instance Alan Hawkshaw, Duncan Lamont, and Alan Parker appear. “That’s What Friends Are For” is credited to Alan Parker/Madeline Bell and there are three other tracks on this album with the same credit that are all worth an admission price of much more than 99p.

Inceidentally, Alan Parker has also had an interesting career, and if you grew up in Britain from the 60s on you will have undoubtedly heard his guitar playing (uncredited on some famous albums – Bowie’s Diamond Dogs for example), and compositions on the TV (he has composed many TV and film theme tunes and incidental music). The other track I’m featuring from the album, it seems made an appearance on an episode of the long running, cult(?), UK TV series Prisoner Cell Block H! (presumably as a backing track and originally as a piece of Library music?) Don’t let that put you off what is another lovely vehicle for Madeline Bell’s voice and Alan Parker’s guitar.     
Latin flavours….