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.

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