Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hidden depths

I caught Roy C’s “Shotgun Wedding” on the ricochet when it hit the UK charts in 1972. I hadn’t been long into the music thing. In those days BBC radio, and my limited pocket money, offered just about the only opportunities to hear things. It was the heyday of the pop charts, and with BBC Radio 1 operating a playlist it was easy to become very familiar with the hits of the day. This would explain why “Shotgun Wedding” is indelibly etched in my memory and I have always been fond of it. It struck me at the time that in comparison to many of the other soul records in the charts at the time the track had a sort of unsophisticated feel to it. This would, of course, partly have been due to the fact it was first recorded in 1965/6. In fact due mainly to the gunshot sounds on the record it was, I believe, received almost as a novelty record.

It is only recently that I have been listening to more of Roy C’s not inconsiderable back catalog and it is evident, I think, much of his output does have a sort of naïve quality to it. Maybe that accounts for him never having another charting single, and I have to say at first I was almost dismissive of what I heard, but there was something that made me listen again. Roy has written most of the songs he has sung and they have never strayed far from his Southern roots,in fact his music seems almost out of time. The melodies and backing are often simple and Roy often part speaks his tales of love and deception, but the magic is there and I am hooked. 

Here’s a good example. Something you can imagine listening to while gently rocking yourself back and forth on the front porch….

But wait. I’m doubly glad I have given Roy C some listening time because it means I discovered a record he cut back in 1970, initially on the tiny Pan Records label. This has elements of the finest deep soul. I could easily imagine Percy Sledge singing this. A stunning track. Something reserved for the back porch, in the dead of night.   

Both the tracks here can be found on the CD “Sex And Soul”.

You can find a comprehensive Roy C discography here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Back of the net

Felt I had to share this one with you straightaway. This is from a charity shop trawl this afternoon. I am very pleased with my little haul (you may think I'm easily pleased). It kicked off with a hat trick of Easy/Pop albums (don't ask me why, I had a sudden inexplicable urge) - Melissa Manchester, Helen Reddy, and the Captain & Tenille! The Melissa Manchester album - Singin' - has a few decent tracks with a definite soulful vibe. Haven't listened to the others yet. Just before half time (at which point I got my ears lowered) I picked up the one you are going to hear and a nice Donovan EP, and then deep into injury time I finished things off with a Captain Sky 12" and an Osmonds album!!

As I pulled the change out of my pocket to pay for this 45 I noticed a very shiny new 50p piece. Before handing it over to the nice little old lady behind the counter I turned it over to find it had the football offside rules on the back!! I kid you not.  

This is a great and groovy little track that is a B side. The Mike Vickers in the credits is, I am assuming, the same Mike Vickers that used to be in Manfred Mann.

Off Side - Small Deal 1970

Oh, and what is this the B side of?


Friday, February 08, 2013

An old friend... and a surprise

The concentration of vinyl in our upstairs spare room (the “little box room” that used to be our daughter’s bedroom) has been an increasing worry recently. Will the floor stand it? Isn’t it starting to slope? I know we’ve had subsidence in the past, but is it the weight of all the shelving and vinyl that has caused those cracks to reappear?

So, with the blessing of Mrs Darce, a new Expedit was ordered and installed in the dining room cum  hi-fi room. Some vinyl has now been relocated from upstairs and I now feel a little less “structurally anxious”. I decided to relocate what I term as my “first phase” record collection, that is the albums I bought back in the 70s and early 80s (a few of my more recent acquisitions – the special ones - have been allowed to be interspersed too) when I was just another person buying records new, as opposed to the records I buy now in what I can only term to be my addictive stage or, if I’m being kind to myself, my curating stage. 

And so it is that I am reacquainting myself with what, in all honesty, are my most cherished records, the ones I have grown up with. They have been somewhat neglected for too long.  

First to be pulled out was Don Covay’s “Super Dude I”. This is an album that, as I remember it, I bought as a cheapy back in the mid ‘70s and pretty much blind (Covay’s “It’s Better To Have” may have been a signpost, but that isn’t on this album). Nevertheless I remember I really fell in love with it and it was an album I would consistently go back to. So it was natural I suppose that it was the first of these records emerging from virtual hibernation to be pulled and played in its entirety. Most of the album features songs that follow a familiar Southern Soul theme - cheatin’, two timing, trying to love two, playing the field (multiple choice, all answers correct). And mighty fine songs they are too. 

But wait a minute - I don’t remember those two tracks at the end of side two?! They don’t really fit in with the theme or feel of the rest of the album. It is as if after all these years filed away this album has metamorphosed, CD like, into an expanded edition!

One of the killer slow tracks “Leave Him” is somewhat oddly split into parts 1 and 2 on the album. I can kind of understand that, at over 8 minutes, it may have been deemed too long for a southern soul album in 1973, but given that, the natural place to put part 2 would have been the last track on the album I would have thought. Instead it appears as track 4 on side 2 – just before these two tracks that I couldn’t remember. And that I think lends some weight to the idea that these tracks were possibly included as afterthoughts – but what afterthoughts! 

Especially this one….

And here is a more representative track, one of a number of soulful (so full of soul!) slow burners on the album…

The CD version of Super Dude I seems to be difficult to track down at a reasonable price but you could try here