Friday, March 31, 2017

Magical powers

We were searching through one of our kitchen drawers earlier this week looking for spare dollars and euros for our son who will be travelling a bit over the next few months. Alas, no such currency was found although many other interesting things were because it was one of those drawers. You know the type, we all have at least one I'm sure, it's the drawer that just seems to accumulate various random stuff. Stuff that was once useful, but has now fallen into disuse; stuff that maybe might come in useful one day, just maybe; stuff that just had to be stuffed somewhere. In this drawer for example there were out of date passports, a tuning pipe thingy, old sunglasses, lots of coins of various currency (except dollars and euros), an old Xbox connector, an old sellotape dispenser, etc etc.

There was also my old Ipod Shuffle, the first one I had owned (and I apologise for the apparently very grubby appearance of the lanyard!). I reckon it had been put in the drawer five or six years ago after I got a new larger capacity one. I thought it would be interesting to bring it out of retirement and see what was on it. So I charged it and yesterday listened to it while I cycled to and from work.

I was impressed with the music it offered up on my journey to work in the morning. A good mix of mostly Sixties obscure soul (of course), none of which I had probably heard since I had last worn this ipod.

However, I was truly amazed by what this ipod gave me on my pedal home later in the day. As usual I was day dreaming as I cycled home – I switch off from work instantly nowadays. Probably jogged by all this great music I was hearing and the fact that when I had put this particular mix of tracks on this ipod I would no doubt have been actively looking for and buying various similar 45s from the USA back when postage costs and exchange rates would have not been prohibitive, my thoughts had turned to a possible digging trip to the USA - one can dream. I then asked myself what would be a record at the top of my wants list on such a trip. I thought of Ella Brown's two 45s on Adams. Then I thought I want one of them more than the other but I couldn't remember which one. Just as I concluded this thought process a track I had been listening to ended and, after a brief silence, the next track started.
It was Ella Brown singing Right Or Wrong (I Love Him). My old ipod had answered me!!

I kid you not, that was exactly how it happened. Very spooky.

Can I offer up an explanation? Subconsciously maybe the selection of tracks I had heard on this ipod after all these years had triggered a memory which caused me to think of Ella Brown because my momory knew an Ella Brown track was coming sooner or later? Or maybe it was because some of the tracks on this ipod may well have been downloaded from Ana-B's old site The Singing Bones, and it was Ana-B who had outbid me on a copy of this Ella Brown record about six years ago? Who knows? I will just carry on thinking this old ipod has magical powers and answered my question.

You can now find Ella Brown's Right Or Wrong on YouTube.

Ella released four singles. Two on Adams and two on Lanor. The two on Lanor are quite easy to come by and I have both. Here is the B side of one of them.

Ella Brown – Touch Me  1972   

PS: This magical event also seems to have had an effect on my writing mojo, which is showing signs of life again.   

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Changing times

Yesterday turned into a beautiful early Spring day. All the more beautiful because I had the day off work. This is the second week running I have taken a Friday off and made it a long weekend (last weekend that long weekend was taken in a bracing, but thankfully dry, Cornwall). Fridays off are a current experiment with a view to reducing my working hours and making it a fixture. A much better work – life balance and gradual wind down to retirement is my thinking.

Taking advantage of the weather Mrs Darce and I took a sunny stroll to a new favourite local watering hole. There, spurred on by some successful DIYing earlier in the day that entailed putting our fridge freezer back on an even keel (we think a leak of some description had caused a floorboard to rot), conversation turned to the subject of more general house maintenance and room makeovers. By the end of the pub visit we had a plan. Oh dear! DIY and decorating have not been on the agenda for some years.

So it seems changes are afoot.

I guess it is thoughts of approaching retirement (which have been occupying my mind a lot recently), but I have been feeling nostalgic this past week or so, and in particular nostalgic for my 70s disco days.

With changes in the air it made me think of Brass Construction. They were a go to band for me in the mid 70s. The band originally formed in the late 60s, with Randy Muller the 'leader', but in their early years only had only one record release, a 45 in 1970 on Jeff Lane's DOCC label Two Timin' Lady / Take It Easy. It can be found on YouTube (what can't!?) and it is noticeable that their brass sound was immediately fully fledged, and somewhat ahead of its time I think. However, it was another five years before they committed to vinyl again. Their debut album, released in 1975, stood out from the crowd. The brass was prominent, the guitars were insistent, and a novel string sound had been added to the mix. BT Express had featured a similar string sound a year earlier? Yes but that had also been the brainchild of Jeff Lane and Randy Muller. A Wax Poetics article from 2004 is an excellent in depth appreciation of the group and also adds some interesting detail on how the string sound came to be. They go on to feature a number of tracks that feature Randy Muller's involvement. It is interesting to note I hve nearly all of them. 

Kool & The Gang and the Fatback Band had been dancefloor fixtures with their feel good funk vibe for a while but Brass Construction's sound, although anchored in funk, seemed to mark an entry point into a new, more sophisticated, disco sound and also lay down some early markers for the jazz-funk scene.

Pulling out my copy of Brass Construction for the first time in years I was puzzled by the Virgin price sticker on the front cover. I thought I had bought this album on its initial release, but the price sticker suggests it was a few years later. Perhaps until then I had been surviving with the singles that this album spawned, or maybe I lost my original copy and bought a replacement? It's all too hazy now. Scary, I'm sure only a few years ago my memory would have been sharp enough to have had this puzzle nailed.

The whole album sounds really fresh I think after all these years. Every track is a winner.

At risk of blowing my Box download bandwidth again (be sure to tell me when that happens) her is another track. This one was overshadowed by a few of the other tracks at the time but it it's finally got some well deserved love from me now.

Monday, March 13, 2017


This blog is eleven today. Oh dear, I am having trouble with my mojo, I almost missed it!

Only 40 minutes of this auspicious day ( :)  ) left as I type and this is, in truth, the first opportunity I have had to put fingers to keys today. Of course, presented with a similar situation in years past I would have prepared something in advance and scheduled the post. Where is that damn elusive mojo?

It struck me that in those eleven years I have not featured one of my favourite singers nearly enough. So in an attempt to put that right here are two tracks - both B sides - from Johnnie Taylor.

I have been feeling both of these recently.   

Johnnie Taylor - A Fool Like Me  1970

Johnnie Taylor - Hold On This Time  1969

PS: As is customary on this day, the 13th March, birthday greetings go out to Candi Staton.