Sunday, December 24, 2017

Mints for you

Very recently I've found quite a few records on line at the right price. Records are like buses sometimes. A couple days ago, amongst some Christmas cards, three little packages were sat there all together on the doormat, freshly delivered by the postie (who was no doubt wearing shorts, as they always seem to do). Just in time for Christmas - perfect timing.

Here they all are scattered on the table after receiving their first couple of plays. And what is that you see amongst them? Yes, it's another Capsoul 45.

Long term visitors here will know I am not big on Christmas records. I just don't possess many, especially in the genres I feature here. But I thought this record maybe vaguely appropriate as we move into the festive holiday. I dare say after you have tucked into your mountainous Christmas dinner tomorrow you may soon be dipping into the bowls of chocolates that have appeared around the house and that you have somehow convinced yourself you have room for. After dinner mints always go down well, so here are some Mints for you – four to be precise.

Season's Greetings to you all. Enjoy your holidays - try not to eat too much!

Friday, December 22, 2017

All Dud but no duds

Here's Dud dressed for the season. Although this album was recorded in Australia, where I doubt he would have needed the coat.

Looking back at this year's forays into the fields of England it was once again disappointing and represented a worrying continued trend of diminishing returns from the car boots. There were a few highlights though, and this album is one of them.

Dudley Moore – actor, comedian, musician,composer as his wiki entry states. Oh to be so talented. Depending on your age I guess you might know him best as an actor, most notably in Hollywood blockbusters 10 and Arthur, or alternatively you would know him primarily from his earlier role as a comedian, initially in Beyond the Fringe and then as one half of the achingly funny comedy duo Pete & Dud. That partnership was forged on his BBC TV shows that aired in the mid to late 60s - Not Only... But Also. A phrase that neatly leads into the other strings to his bow: jazz pianist and composer. Wikipedia tells us he had played harpsichord and organ (and violin) from an early age and fell in love with jazz during his university years, playing with John Dankworth in the late 50s. Through most of the 60s and into the 70s he played jazz piano and was leader of an excellent jazz trio, and in that guise was vastly underrated in my opinion.

The album that this track comes from – Today – was recorded in 1971 and released in 1972. I picked up this copy at a car boot back in May. Today, giving it only its second or third spin, it hit me as to what a great album it is. In truth I could have featured any track from it, there is nothing that is just ordinary, and it certainly presents a paradox – it is all Dud, but there are no duds.

Friday, December 15, 2017

That Capsoul feeling

If somebody asked me to name my favourite record label I would not give an instant response.  That would not be possible for such a serious and difficult question. It's a question akin to "what 10 records would you take to a desert island?" after all, almost impossible to answer. But if I were forced to give an answer, after some inevitable pondering, I might just say: Capsoul.

Ten years ago (nearly eleven now) I featured in two successive posts the two Capsoul singles I owned at the time, and mentioned then that the label, for some unknown reason, held some special mystique for me.

The mystique started in 1976 from the moment I bought, blind off a mailing list, Kool Blues' I'm Going To Keep On Loving You. It immediately meant something special to me that I could not, and still cannot, fully explain. It took me 28 years before I bought my second Capsoul single - Johnson Hawkins, Tatum & Durr's You Can't Blame Me - at a record fair in Atlanta. At that point Numero had not released their excellent compilation of the Capsoul label's output so the mystique was still intact. Numero's great work has since immortalised the label so now I know it's background and more about it's artists. But despite this, somehow, the mystique still endures for me. This was brought home when, a few weeks ago, I opened a package that had arrived in the mail and pulled out, finally, another Capsoul single that can keep my other two company. Just handling it brought on a little frisson of excitement. Why? I still cannot fully explain it. The label is colourful and individual, but so are so many others. Perhaps it is something to do with what's in the grooves – a group soul sound that seems to be just that little bit different, a production that does have a sort of home made feel to it.

There is also the fact that these records don't seem to be quite of their time. All three singles I own were released in the early 70s but they seem to hark back to earlier times. Perhaps that gets closest to the reason I have this special feeling for the label. When I bought the Kool Blues single in 1976 that was only four short years after its release in 1972, that was the same year as, for example, David Bowie's Starman and Al Green's I'm Still in Love With You - two artists that had shaped my listening habits back then - but it sounded worlds apart. I could attempt to develop and expand on my thinking here, but I think it is better to just let the mystique remain.

Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr – that certainly is a mouthful. Discogs is, I assume, consistent with Numero when they state in their profile on the group: After scoring an successful audition with Capsoul’s Bill Moss, the Revelations which comprised of Vigil Johnson, Al Dawson, Willie Tatum, and Norris Durr found themselves cutting their first side for the label in 1971. Moss changed the group’s name to comprise all of their last names; then he finally mistakenly changed their name to Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum, and Durr for the labels on the 45” That was a bum rap for Al Dawson!

My Capsoul fixation is full blaze again now. I'm hunting down a copy of a Four Mint's single as I write this. And how I would love to own a copy of Kool Blues' Can We Try Love Again. I would have to spend big money to do so, I might just treat myself one day!

Monday, December 04, 2017

Touching me

By the time JJ Barnes landed at Perception in 1973 he already had about twenty 45s to his name, on 11 different labels (including some iconic Soul labels - Groovesville, Ric Tic, and Revilot) stretching back as far as 1960. He had been at Motown, never managing a release in his own name, but was used as a writer. His biggest hit was Baby Please Come Back Home which reached 61 in the US Top 100 in '67. Soon after this Perception release he was encouraged to move to the UK by his friend Edwin Starr. He signed with John Abbey's Contempo label. A meal ticket on the Northern scene was probably the attraction and he would be appreciated more there than in his homeland.

Two strong sides here, The A side - You Are Just A Living Doll -  was the initial reason for buying this but I find I really like the B side too. It wraps you up all warm and cosy on a cold Winter's night.

This 45 landed on my mat last week on the 30th November, which I see was, coincidentally, James Jay's 74th birthday.

J J Barnes – Touching You 1973        

Friday, December 01, 2017

Just a few doors

It's the 1st of December (another year nearly over!). In years gone by, as recently as two years ago in fact, this day triggered a track a day in the run up to Christmas here as we went on a Feel It Advent-ure. A post a day! I'm doing well to give you a post a month lately. How times have changed. Blogging is a habit I've been falling out of recently. I don't know why really. I've got the time, but evidently I haven't had the inclination.

I am not planning on a full blown Advent-ure this year but December 1st at least warrants a post, for old times sake at least. This record arrived in the post today, along with three others also worthy of sharing so the plan is to to do just that over the next days, and a few more as well with any luck.

I've been obsessing over the Magic Tones recently. Just listen to the voices – and the strings! - on Great Day. Very evocative of it's time I think

The Magic Tones would metamorphose into The Undisputed Truth later in the 70s.

For everyone tying the knot tomorrow.

B side is great too.