Thursday, May 22, 2014

Your rambling reporter

It continues to be a vinyl desert out there on the streets and in the fields of England. The year kicked off pretty well on the vinyl hunting front, but the last few weeks have proved gruelling at the chazzas and car boots. Last weekend I managed to squeeze in no less than four car boot sales; the sun shone and encouraged the sellers out in their droves. But for all the sellers there were, hardly any of them had any vinyl amongst their unwanted junk. Either that or some very early bird dealers had hoovered it all up before I arrived (I don’t think so though, there is one notorious local ‘hooverer’ but I now tend to avoid the venues I know he frequents).

Taking stock, this weekend booting frenzy yielded five albums, two 12“ singles and eight little uns. Hmmm, not too bad in the end, but it was hard work. 

There are a few highlights. The 12” singles are relatively recent reissues of some obscure(ish) 60s and 70s soul gems I would have to look long and hard for as original issues (Helene Smith, Edna Wright, James Walsh Gypsy Band gives you a flavour) – nice to have, but in the end not the originals. Amongst the little uns are 45s from The Hollies, one of which is a double header belter. Over at the VG+ forum there is an amusing thread on the subject of collection tics. I think Hollies singles could qualify as one of my current collecting tics - I buy everyone I see, unless I’m sure I have it already. On the other hand a tic is something you wish you didn’t have, and I make no apology for buying Hollies singles because they are generally great.          

One of the albums I bought was a compilation and was sans sleeve. Hardly a highlight then? On the contrary, I am more than happy to have found it. The compilation in question is This is Loma Vol 6. Loma was Warner Brothers specialist Soul and R&B label that was active from 1964-68. In the mid ‘70s WB UK issued no less than seven This Is Loma compilations. This one was a must have for me purely on the strength of a Carl Hall track, and the hope that Linda Jones wasn’t over singing too much on the four tracks of hers featured (I blow hot and cold with Linda Jones, although her voice was undoubtedly a wondrous instrument, I think that too often she tended to over-egg the delivery, and it’s the songs where she kept it reined in that I prefer, I can just never remember which ones they are!). As it turns out, on this comp Linda’s tracks generally get the thumbs up from me; as do all the tracks on the album because it is a really strong compilation from a really strong label. The one track that grabbed me by the ears on first listen – as much as the Carl Hall track – was one of the two tracks by Ben Aiken.

I wasn’t familiar with Aiken and haven’t been able to turn up much about him. It seems that Jerry Ragovoy brought him into the Loma fold. There has seemed to be confusion surrounding the colour of his skin, some people describe him as a “blue eyed” soul singer, but over at the Soulful Detroit archives some big names from the world of soul music refute that, and also state that he was working as a custodian at Philadelphia City Hall, at least as recently as 2004. Baby You Move Me was released in May 1968 a few short months before Loma’s demise, and was the last of four singles Ben had released on the label. His voice, especially on the other track of his on this comp, reminds me of Art Neville at times.

Carl Hall’s You Don’t Know Nothing About Love preceded the Ben Aiken track here by six months – Loma were really cooking by then, such a shame the label was soon to close. About as much as I know about Carl Hall can be found on a Wiki entry. I’ll let the music do the talking here….. stunning!    

Carl Hall - You Don’t Know Nothing AboutLove  1967               

And so once more, my ramble that started in a field in England has ended up in Sixties America.

PS: I’ve just played this whole album again, it’s really really good! 

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