Friday, December 16, 2016

Put It On The Hawg

No great missive today. Sometimes it's enough to let the music speak for itself.

Some great funky blues here from Jimmy Dawkins.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Simon and the amazing dancing drums

So there I was mulling over whether I could really commit to another year of “Advent-ure” here (i.e. a post a day in December up to Christmas) and then I blinked and it was already the 9th! So no then!

Work has continued to be too all consuming lately. Maximum frustration. You have a computer system that, although not perfect, has served you well for many years, then a new one comes along (in the guise of the great common groupwide system)... and despite many months of testing and “support” from our lauded central team is clearly not configured properly in some areas. I expect many of you have been there so I won't bang on. As a result is all I seem to want to do when I get home in the evenings lately is to sit down in front of the tele and vegetate.

I'm telling myself now there is light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm not sure. Enough of that.

I confess to never paying Joe Simon much attention before. Passed by on the other side of the street. His voice has never grabbed me and I suppose my entry point initially had been 1972 and I maintain his output by then was a bit lame. Anyway I stumbled across this 1970 Sound Stage 7 track of his recently - I Got A Whole Lot Of Lovin' - and was blown away. The track MOVES. Locked down by an insistent bass line and punctuated by some great brass Joe puts in a great performance but it's the drums that really stand out. They are simply amazing. GIVE THE DRUMMER SOME!

I cannot stop playing this – and it's a B-side!

This has caused me to start delving into Joe's catalog and I think I can find some more of his 45s to put on the wantlist. Not long after acquiring this SS7 45 I was at my local little record fair (the mainly R&R) one, more on which anon) and found another Joe Simon 45. When I'm Gone on Vee Jay From earlier in his career and now also in my collection. It's on the Deep side and is also right up my street, and I'm crossing over to the same side of the road as Joe now, it seems.

Swap the drums for some great guitar on this one. 

PS Apologies if you were looking forward to another Feel It Advent-ure (I was and I wasn't), all I can say is “I got a whole lot of lovin' just for you, a whole lot of making up to do” :)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mellow magic

It's been pleasant outside today, not cold considering the time of year. The early morning trip to the car boot sale was fruitless on the record front but the drive to it was worth it – the sun came up and made the yellows and oranges on the trees really glow and, with the mist lying on the fields between, it was a beautiful sight. Later in the morning I busied myself around the garden tidying and planting up some winter pots with some cheerful violas. After that Mrs Darce and I went for a stroll and kicked the leaves around. A late lunch (or was it an early dinner?) followed and then before we knew it it was dark outside. All in all I'm feeling very mellow today, and now with the curtains drawn I'm sitting down letting the warm and lovely sound of Blue Magic wrap itself around me like a cosy blanket. 

I have always had a soft spot for Blue Magic. In a way this is odd because I generally had a bit of an aversion to high falsetto singers when I was younger. That didn't stop me buying a few of their singles back in the 70s though, at least a couple of which have featured here at Feel It down the years.
Until last month I had not owned any of their albums. But now I am in possession of a copy of their 1974 album The Magic Of The Blue and I can certainly say it lives up to its name – there is plenty of magic to be heard.

Let these two tracks wrap you up.

Monday, October 31, 2016

A northern dig

Northern as in up towards the Arctic, not Soul.

So we were more than two weeks into our “trip of a lifetime” to Canada and Alaska, and I had not had a sniff of vinyl apart from this, which we stumbled across in a coffee shop in Canmore, Alberta on our first day

Withdrawal symptoms had set in, so I jumped up and down as if I had just spied a grizzly juggling salmon when I saw this in Ketchikan, Alaska...

Yes, a Sally Army thrift store! – and it had some records!! Two boxes of albums to be precise, which included a fair amount of mid 70s jazz-funk of the smooth variety – George Benson, Quincy Jones, Roy Ayers, that sort of thing- something I wouldn't have expected in deepest Alaska to be honest. Quite a few of the albums I already have in the collection, but I happily picked up three that I didn't for the princely sum of $2. For the record they were Bob James One, Material's Memory Serves (which is very good), and some live jazz in the form of Eastman Jazz Ensemble, Live!

Eastman is a highly regarded School of Music founded in 1921, based in Rochester NY, and still going strong. It offers degrees in many forms of music. In the jazz world Steve Gadd and Chuck Mangione are just two of the more well known names I picked out of their alumni list on Wikipedia.

This album collects some live performances made by college students at the Eastman Theatre during their '75 – '76 season. There are a mix of styles represented, although it is basically a big band. The small group Auricle, a jazz-fusion group who went one to have two releases on Chrysalis, is also featured on one track. It is rather good throughout. I was impressed by fidelity of the sound too, the vinyl is quite heavy. Not bad for 66c!

The track featured here is a Chick Corea composition. The sleeve notes tell us: “This chart is the sort of deft group piece that would seem to defy through its very intimacy any big band treatment. But drummer Ron Wagner turns it into a dynamic vehicle for a band that has the technique and time-sense to handle it. Soloists are graduate student Nelson Hinds on trombone, undergraduates Norman Rax on tenor and Rick Braun on trumpet. John Serry on piano and Ron Wagner on drums.”

Friday, October 21, 2016

It's so good for me

I was going to share a track from one of the albums I picked up in Alaska on my recent holiday but that will have to wait a bit.

Instead as it's Friday it is the return of the Friday Double Header - in which I feature a 45 where one side cannot in truth be posted without the other.

The A side (at least I believe it's the A side) of this 45 has nudged Phyllis Hyman's One Thing On My Mind off the turntable to become my latest earworm, and the other side is mighty fine too.

More and more Gene Chandler 45s are finding their way into the collection, this is the latest. Scary to think this one is more than 50 years old. 53 years old this month to be precise.

JohnnyPate gets the arranger credit on this one, and what an arrangement it is.

And here's the other side, which got the play X from the DJ who received this particular advance copy.

Gene Chandler – From Day To Day 1963

Friday, October 14, 2016

One thing on my mind - reprise

To say the last couple of months have been full on is something of an understatement.

It started with our trip to Canada and Alaska which is now already starting to feel like a distant memory. Mrs Darce and I, together with eight other friends, took in Calgary-Banff-Jasper by road, boarded the Rocky Mountaineer to Vancouver, spent a few days in Victoria, then cruised into Alaska, and finished off in Vancouver. Fantastic scenery, bears, whales, glaciers, and almost uninterrupted sunshine – we were so lucky with that. “Just wow” was an often used expression. A trip of a lifetime... but maybe we will do New Zealand next!

I returned to an intense three weeks at work as a new computer system was implemented. A lost weekend, and plenty of late evenings. Still snagging now.

During the new system shenanigans I managed to get way with Mrs Darce for a day as we celebrated our 30th(!) wedding anniversary. Then, last weekend, we drove our daughter and a car full of her belongings over to Germany.

Stop the world! I want to blog!

While we were in Vancouver I managed to slip away for an hour or two and dip into a couple of record shops – I was lucky that they happened to be only 10 minutes walk from our hotel. Vinyl and Beat Street are both on West Hastings. Vinyl was, frankly, overwhelming. Crammed with record bins crammed with records and seemingly every available floor space also covered in more stacks of records. Much of it was actually filed by genre – and micro genre – but in the end I still didn't really know where to start. It needed more time than I had so I decided to withdraw gracefully. A block up was Beat Street which had a good selection. It was there I found an album in the right condition and price I had been on the look out for a while – Phyllis Hyman's debut album from 1977. I have waxed lyrical about Phyllis before, and have been a fan for many years. I had overlooked her debut album until recently though. It has plenty of strong tracks, One Thing On My Mind is the one that initially drew my attention though, it was written and originally performed by Evie Sands. I featured Evie's version here some time ago... just a minute, when was that? Exactly one year ago to the day! Spooky!

Phyllis' life story is a sad one, she was diagnosed bi-polar, and ultimately took her own life in 1995.

She was a beautiful woman blessed with an equally beautiful voice, in fact I'm sure she would have matured into a superb jazz singer. But you could hear her pain, there was a deep melancholy in her voice I think, and I am often moved to tears when I listen to her. (Looking into her eyes there is a sadness there too isn't there?)

Press repeat!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Never leave me

If it's Friday it must be a double header 45. At least for a while here, and now and then, that holds true.

About time for another one.

For a long time I was only aware of Thelma Jones through her tortured and superb 1976 single Salty Tears, which has featured here before. I have since familiarised myself to a degree with her earlier output. The House That Jack Built for example is a favourite on the mod/scooter/Northern scene and is a stormer.

Until recently I didn't have any other records of hers, but now this, a copy of her first 45, is safely tucked away in the collection. Stronger I knew, it's a good driving dancer, although a little repetitive. The attraction for me is Never Leave Me. I had not heard this track until a few months ago. Something of a deep soul gem, it is right up my alley. Thelma takes it to church, although to be more precise I am sure she took it straight from church where I just know she must have been singing just before she recorded this in late 1966. A time when the slow, deep side would still take the A, with the dancer relegated to the B. That would soon change, and the trend continued to the extent that the dancer always seems to get the push now whether it was an A or a B side – as I said I knew Stronger but it has taken nearly 50 years to hear Never Leave Me, and now it will live up to its title. Thelma Jones is one helluva singer who deserves to have a deeper catalog.

PS: Mrs Darce and I are off to Canada for three weeks next Friday. I will try and fit in another post, although packing panic may well set in. So this may be the last post until later in September.     

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Atlantic flossing

It has been gruelling at the car boot sales lately. 2016 is rapidly turning into the “ is now” to 2015's “they think it's all over...”.

It could just be me. I don't seem to be able to get up quite as early as I used to so I may miss most of the worms. My lack of any real finds leads to dejection which leads to apathy and ends up with me not going so regularly. I am getting more choosy maybe. Oh, and of course I haven't got the space for any more records anyway – not that that has stopped me before!

But I am hearing the same story from other vinyl hunters. We grumbled about 2015 and we are shaking our head over 2016. It's a vinyl desert out there.

I found myself bottom feeding last Saturday. Why do I class it so? Firstly, I missed the start of the booter by a good 30 minutes – first of all I had to overcome the apathy mentioned above, then I had to overcome the traffic. So if there were any records the chances were the best had gone. Certainly, and predictably, vinyl - of any description - was hard to find. Secondly I found myself on a known dealer's pitch looking through every last single he had on offer in a couple of boxes. It was odds on it would be a ragbag of well known rock and pop in questionable condition he just wanted to offload. But I needed to look through some records. So I did, and I was pleasantly surprised to come away with seven 45s for the grand sum of £1.50. Included in this seven were The Hollies, The Troggs, Nancy Sinatra, Ronnie Lane, and the Mo-Dettes which were representative of the spread of much of the singles in the boxes.

The other two 45s to make up my seven 7s were these two slabs of funk goodness on the UK Atlantic label – both released in 1973 and certainly atypical of the rest of the material in the boxes. They are not particularly rare, and the artists should need no introduction, but I am very happy to have found them, and they have gone a little way towards restoring my faith in trawling the car boots.

In fact I think I may already have this Betty Wright 45 on its original US Alston label. But there is always a little thrill in finding a superior slice of funk/soul on a UK label, and it always leads me to wonder how few copies it probably sold when it was released. Be sure to listen all the way through and not miss Betty's impressive shriek at the end.

The Dr John track I remember hearing on the radio when it was released – John Peel, Alexis Korner would have undoubtedly played it, probably Emperor Rosko too – a time when I had yet to appreciate the mightiness of New Orleans funk. And it's a Promo, and that big A gets me every time.

For the picture I thought I would lay this brace of Atlantics on a bed of shells very recently collected from a Portuguese beach (yes, I will collect anything!).

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Psst. Look, nearly a month has gone by again without a post.

Yeah, well I was away for the annual fishing weekend (very enjoyable lakeside, although Glastonbury itself was very low key this year). Then there was our hols in Portugal (I can thoroughly recommend Lagos).

Plenty of time in between for a spin or two though?

Well, those Euros and Wimbledon got me goggleboxing.

Yadda yadda yadda. You'll be trotting out the “it's summer, garden sunshine needs to be enjoyed at this time of year” line next.

Ha! Chance would be a fine thing.

Go on, let them know you're still feeling it, let them know you care.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Feeling bad

It's been a bad week. 'nuff said.

Mel & Tim - Feeling Bad  1970

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hokey cokey belly buttons

Here we go then.

Quite why we, the Great British Public, are being entrusted with a simple yes no vote on something that could significantly effect our future, and our childrens' future, I have no idea. Then again, it could turn out to be of little significance. There's the rub, after all this campaigning we still have little or no idea, do we, really? 

By the way, that question is not designed to spark a political debate, I don't do politics here. It is a good excuse to play a Willie Hutch track though, and I have a feeling Willie had something else on his mind when he recorded it.

Willie Hutch - In And Out  1982       


Friday, June 17, 2016

I'm playing Reggae - come out sun, you know you want to.

Go away clouds. I thought some reggae might help to coax the sun to come out, and stay out!

Reggae is always difficult to find “in the wild”, so I got excited when I found half a box of it at a car boot sale recently. My excitement was tempered somewhat when the seller proceeded to check them all on Discogs before naming a price! This is the first time this has happened to me. In a way I could sort of accept what he was doing- he is evidently a dealer and his stall is effectively his shop. Nevertheless it sort of takes the fun out of the digging process. In the end he quoted prices I was in most cases willing to pay so came away with a handful of 12” and this early '80s compilation of full length Mighty Diamonds releases from, mostly, the late 70s.

I have waxed lyrical about the Mighty Diamonds before I think, I saw them live only a few years ago and they have beautifully sweet voices. Add to this the fact that I noticed a track on this album was Danger In Your Eyes and it became a must buy.

Danger In Your Eyes has been a long time reggae favourite of mine ever since I heard John Peel play a version by Judah Eskender (aka Yabby You aka Vivien Jackson) on his programme back in '77 or'78. (I still have that on a John Peel mixtape). I am a little confused by the history of the song. It seems it was originally recorded by Don Evans & The Paragons but its recording date is a bit of a puzzle. The original (?) issue was on Coxsone I think. On the label it states 1966 but I think the Coxsone 45 was released in 1976, and I can't find any concrete evidence of an official 1966 release.

The Mighty Diamonds version dates to around 1978 (again, I think – dating reggae releases is notoriously difficult) when it was released on the Gussie Roots label - on this release they were to modest to refer to themselves as Mighty. It is a more laid back version than Judah Eskender's but I like both equally. (On its original 45 it was backed with a reimagined version of Fools Rush In which is also on this compilation and also gorgeous).

Thursday, June 09, 2016

First (technically)

I have been told of not one but two new record shops that have opened in my neck of the woods during the last couple of months. As they keep saying, vinyl is making a comeback.

I visited one of these on its opening day at the end of April. A friend had mentioned an ex colleague of his was opening a new record shop, he was going along to the grand opening and would I like too as well. Yes, of course. Although I am, I suppose, a bit of a vinyl nut I am, frankly, not tuned in to the local vinyl grapevine and hadn't picked up on either of these new ventures so I was thankful my friend alerted me.

Arriving at the shop it turned out I know the owner through bumping into each other and engaging in general record b*llocks talk occasionally at a local car boot in the last couple of years. All I can say is good luck mate - you are very brave. The shop is Longwell Records in Keynsham (that's K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M).

I picked up a couple of things out of the yet to be priced bin which I'm very happy with, one of which was this great comp from the early 00s - JohnnyOtis & Friends - Watts Funky.
If you are a regular here you may remember I have posted more than one Johnny Otis 45 in recent years and I have become a huge fan of his, especially his largely obscure late 60s & 70s funk, jazz, and disco infused productions.

On one level at least this album could be said to be the first record ever bought in Longwell Records. I asked Ian, the shop owner, to tuck it behind the counter while I continued to browse, although a lady did beat me to actually handing over readies for something. Talking with another record hound at (yet another generally fruitless) car boot recently he said that Ian apparently did not quote Watts Funky as the first purchase though. From his point of view I suppose he's right as he would have been focussed on the record that put the first takings in the till. I would maintain that it is at least a moot point. 

Down home....

A groove, and love the keyboards....

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Tomorrow is here!

Now, how do you go about this blogging lark again?

Since my last post “I will do a post tomorrow” has been a thought that has crossed my mind many times. But those tomorrows have come and gone and the thought has remained just that, nothing more than a dream – until now!

The crazy busy time at work has subsided for now – a project with an increasingly unrealistic deadline finally sensibly rescheduled.

On the home front we now have a lovely new shower room – just a few cracked tiles to sort out :( . This project had a negative effect on the vinyl front. The front room which is home to the hi-fi had been full of shower room stuff awaiting installation – including among other things a toilet, which may have proved a good listening perch except that, unfortunately, the turntable was essentially unreachable.

So the recent vinyl purchases have been mounting up. But I'm back in the grooves now.

Considering Al Green was one of the first singers that introduced me to the wonderful world of Soul music I have surprisingly few of his singles. Al Green's Greatest Hits probably had something to do with it. Back in the day when my fledgling vinyl habit was supported by pocket money alone the Greatest Hits album was a godsend, and Al Green's was (still is) a treasured copy in my collection It meant I bought few of his singles; not, for example one of his big hits, Let's Stay Together. I finally added a copy of this single to the collection last week when I found one at a car boot in reasonable condition (thinking about it, Al was a household name in the 70s and had quite a few big hits, but I hardly ever come across his records “in the wild”).

The A side is warm and familiar and brought back memories when I gave it a spin. The B side I didn't know but made me purr “ooh that's good”. Tomorrow's Dream pre-dates it's A side by a few years, it appeared on Al's first album for Hi, Green is Blues, released in 1969. The track has a sort of gritty “down home” feel to it – the Hi sound is unmistakable but more of an undercurrent, listening it is almost like you are witnessing the birth of the classic Willie Mitchell sound of the 70s; and Al's vocals have yet to receive that extra polish. I think it is a very wonderful thing, and it has been a highlight of a gruelling few weeks trawling the charity shops and car boots.

PS: let me know if the link fails to download, I realise it maybe new account time again at Box.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Check me baby...

... because I am still here! 

Oh dear! Nearly another month has gone by since my last post. But, yes, this blog is still alive, albeit crawling into its second decade. An intermittent service may still continue for a couple of months - I'm feverishly busy at work at the moment and by the time I get home usually all I want to do is sit down and vegetate in front of the TV, or idly browse on my new tablet - not my normal mode I have to say.

I'm not short of music to share, but I am short of time to listen to it and research a few words to say about it.

Here is another 45 from the little stack I was so glad to find at a local record fair a few weeks ago. This one was a bit of an impulse purchase I have to say, and not nearly as cheap as the others. I usually set myself tight limits on what I'm willing to shell out on records, and in truth get a real buzz from finding great sounds for peanuts. In this instance, however, I let curiosity take its course and dug into a box of more expensive 45s to see if what lay in the grooves could honestly justify the price tag. The answer generally was no it couldn't - at least not to me - except for this Peacock 45, the one and only record Willie Tomlin released as far as I can tell. The lyrics are just great fun and had me hooked straightaway. (I didn't spend a fortune on it, just a bit more than I usually would consider).     

I can't tell you anything about Willie Tomlin, except that he's one cat that's clean!

Willie Tomlin - Check Me Baby  1968

... and he was almost certainly inspired by this:

Sunday, March 13, 2016


This blog is 10 years old today!

It was inconceivable to me back in 2006 that, 10 years later, Feel It would still be alive. So I had been wondering lately how to mark this occasion. A mix of a few things that have appeared here down the years, maybe one from each year? Perhaps some discussion on  how the internet has continued to change the way we discover, and listen to, music in the years since this blog was born? 

Nice ideas, but time is short - my life in general continues to be pretty busy at the moment. And there's the rub. Maybe I'm not quite as enthusiastic about this little project as I once was because I  am managing to do neither of the things mentioned above, which a landmark such as this should surely warrant.

Instead I will just mark another year of operation of this blog in the usual way... by thanking you for still dropping by, letting you know I'm not intending to hang up the closed sign yet... and wishing Candi Staton a Happy Birthday.


Friday, March 11, 2016

For the eagle-eyed amongst us

As promised here is the Gloria Lynne 45 that the eagle-eyed Ravel spotted in the pictures in my last post that featured my most recent little 45 haul.

Gloria Mia Wilson was born in Harlem in 1929. Her NY Times obituary tells us she took a male friend's name, who would become her husband – Alleyne – as a stage name in the Fifties, but soon shortened it to Lynne, after so many presenters had trouble pronouncing Alleyne.

Gloria initially sung in groups including the Dell Tones, The Enchanters, and The Dorsey Sisters. Her solo career started sometime around 1958. At least one single was released under her birth name, on Dawn records, but her career really took off under the name Gloria Lynne when she was signed to Everest Records. Between 1958 and 1970 – her most active period – she then had numerous 45 and album releases, and toured with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, and Billy Eckstine, Although typically labelled a Jazz vocalist her repertoire extended to Jazz, R&B, Soul and lush Pop arrangements, and her songs were often difficult to categorise. She had a fine voice and didn't really get the full recognition, or lasting recording breaks she deserved. The NY Times obit recounts unscrupulous management, and this coupled with changing musical tastes meant the Seventies would prove a low point for her. Later her career would revive and she moved into more pure Jazz circles and toured and performed with Jazz luminaries such as Quincy Jones.

It seems that Gloria Lynne had at least two 45 releases on the Seeco label, which were in the middle of her run of Everest releases. I'm not sure what the story is behind these Seeco 45s (incidentally Dawn, where Gloria made one of early 45 outings, it seems was a subsidiary label of Seeco), they do seem to be fairly obscure, possibly recorded prior to her Everest hook up and released in an attempt to cash in on her growing reputation.

I'm not sure which is the A side here, all I know is I'm Not Afraid Anymore is a great jump blues / R&B number and the stronger side to my mind. I have seen Is There Someone For Me listed as the A side though, which is quite possible, it is a much more pop slanted ballad and might have had more chart potential at the time, Gloria certainly lifts it above the average.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Back in the saddle

Wow! What happened to February. Lots of stuff going on (in a good way mostly), and busy at work too (for a change). During such times the blog has to take a back seat. Hunting for, or even playing, vinyl doesn't get much of a look in either. Something approaching normal service should be resumed now though.

These pictures document a little haul of cheap 45s picked up a couple of weeks ago at the little local record fair I've mentioned on more than one occasion here before. I have come away from recent visits each time expecting it to be the last time I manage to mine any Soul, but I keep going back and keep getting proved wrong. Very pleased with this little lot. Had I flicked past all of these on previous visits? It's possible, but I think most of these I hadn't seen before, so there is hope for the next time. These 45s were just about my first vinyl purchases (of any variety) of the year. For me it has indeed been quiet on the vinyl front of late. Acquisitions are starting to be made again now but I have resolved to be more selective with my purchases (especially at the charity shops and car boot sales) this year; space - i.e. the lack of it - is now a serious problem. Let's see though, addictions are hard to crack!

More from this little haul in forthcoming posts. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

A queue at the gates

I've been playing a lot of David Bowie this last week or so. His passing hit me hard. David won't be feeling lonely at the gates, every day seems to bring news of the passing of another name from the musical world.

Drew, over the kitchen table so to speak, alerted me to the death of a great singer – Otis Clay – recently. Otis died of a heart attack, age 73, two days before David Bowie. Otis Clay had a wonderful Soul and Blues voice and had been actively singing right up to his passing. He started his solo career in 1965 on the aptly named One-derful! Label (and I realise I don't have enough of his releases on that label.) Is It Over, featured here, is a tortured ballad of real intensity; produced by a moonlighting Willie Mitchell late in 1970 and release on Cotillion early in 1971. Otis would move to Willie's Hi label soon after and continue to release some top drawer Southern Soul. More recently he was a regular on the Blues and Gospel circuits.

A few days ago another legend of Southern Soul - Clarence Reid – succumbed to liver cancer. Some people may have known him by his alter ego Blowfly. As Blowfly he performed sexually explicit material in the 70s and 80s. I have never really explored that side of his career, knowing him better as a producer and writer for many Florida based acts, such as Betty Wright, Gwen McCrae and KC & The Sunshine Band. He also released some material under his own name in the early 70s too.

It's going to be quite a party up there this month. Rest In Peace guys.

(*co written and produced by Clarence Reid)    

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

And the stars look very different today

Thanks for everything David. Ever since I saw you perform Starman on TOTP your music has been spinning around in my head, not always to the fore but always there, a bedrock. A part of my life has died. Don't think we will see your like again. I am sort of lost for words, and even if I had the words I wouldn't be able to see through the tears to type them. 


Saturday, January 09, 2016

Back to the future

A belated Happy New Year to you all.

This should be a time for looking forward but I always find myself in a contemplative mood and looking back, thinking about the passage of time. It probably has something to do with my birthday being on New Year's Eve.

In recent days I've been digging deep into my collection and have pulled out a few albums I haven't played enough down the years. When you have 1000+ albums an equally large number of singles I suppose that statement will actually apply to most of my records!

I thought I had featured The Bar-Kays 1972 album Do You See What I See? before here, but a quick trawl through my old posts seems to say not. If in fact it has featured and I have bent your ear with the following musings before, I apologise.

In line with my contemplative mood there are a few things worth saying about this album. In my teens a friend of mine had a copy of this album. Those were the days when department stores used to have racks of cut outs, and I think that is where he probably found his copy. He was very artistic and it was the cover that probably attracted him to it. Of course we only had pocket money, or a Saturday shelf stacking job (in my case) to provide meagre funds for record buying then, so we couldn't afford to buy much, especially blind. I shudder to think what we passed on in those racks back in the day. Anyway I remember listening to this album at his parent's house a few times and it stuck in the memory.

Fast forward to 2004. That was when I joined the ebay hoards and I thought it was time I started acquiring some of the albums I had loved down the years but never owned. This Bar-Kays album was one of the first records, if not the first, I ever purchased on ebay. When I bought it I probably played it maybe three times at most and so for the last 10 years at least(!) it has been filed away in the collection unplayed – until today. Even so, ever since I first heard it at my friend's house back in the Seventies, it has been one of those records that has been with me in my mind, every now and then popping into my thoughts, or jumping onto my mental jukebox. It's funny how just certain records can do that, specific memories give some a helping hand I suppose.

And now here we are in 2016. I understand the vinyl revival continues apace. Apparently the biggest selling home audio product on Amazon this Christmas was a $50 all in one turntable. Most of these have been bought by, presumably young, people new to the wonders of vinyl I would guess. So a whole new generation will be buying their first records. The format kind of demands the music contained is listened to at home, and in the case of albums, straight through. No listening on the move through headphones, no constant skipping and shuffling the virtual collection. Maybe such behaviour will cause a few more records to be lodged in peoples' memory for the long term, just as this Bar-Kays album has in mine.

Do You See What I See? has great packaging – incidentally probably one reason why people are flooding back to vinyl – a gatefold sleeve of thick card, matt finished, with striking artwork. The artwork documents many of the big themes and questions haunting America in the early Seventies and hints at the tone of social consciousness that courses through many of the tracks on the album, although there are some killer ballads, in the simpler vein of love, on the album too. Here are two tracks to give you an idea.