Friday, December 21, 2018

Mystery lady?

I featured June Conquest's first single – Almost Persuaded, released in 1965 – earlier this year, so she was on my radar. As a result when I was flicking through that surprise box of 45s in Sandwich, MA on the last day of our holiday and I saw the flash of the striking Windy C label and her name on it my heartbeat sped up a bit.

June's known recording career spanned seven years, but in all that time she only had five singles released. I believe she hailed from the Chicago area, so her initial release on Fame is a bit of a puzzle. So too her second on Jet Set , which had a Washington DC address on the label, although I have read that at least one of the tracks was recorded in Houston. All over the map!

The record featured here was her third single and finds her in Chicago on Curtis Mayfield's Windy C label. Windy C was basically set up to feature The Five Stairsteps (a group I am a great fan of and I have just about all of their Windy C releases), June's 45 was the only one not by that group on the label. I wonder why it was decided to release on Windy C rather than another of Curtis' label – Mayfield – which was also active at the time? Maybe it was thought that the style of June's songs fitted more closely to those of the The Five Stairsteps. Whatever the reasons a few months after this 45 was released Cameo-Parkway, which distributed Windy C went out of business and that was the end of Windy C. This untimely event may well have hindered the development of June's recording career. A solo release on Curtom in early '68 – Curtom's first release by the way and one of only three as a locally distributed label – and a duet with Donny Hathaway four wholw years later were her only other releases.

Very little is known of June. The assumption is that Conquest, at least, is not her real name. Who knows? maybe she is hiding in plain sight – rather like another soul singer from the Sixties, Debbie Taylor, who had “disappeared” in the Seventies leaving a few top notch recordings behind. Many people who loved Debbie's records had wondered what had happened to her. In fact she had continued to be sporadically active in the recording arena and had also been performing live on local circuits as a soul and jazz singer under her real name Maddie “Maydie” Myles, only announcing her previous incarnation as Debbie Taylor in 2011. So, in a similar vein, could June Conquest be out there somewhere performing today?

This is another 45 with two strong sides so I'm sharing both of them.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Holiday notes, the final instalment: "pleased as punch"

One final instalment on the vinyl hunting I managed to fit in to our New England family holiday.

So far I've told you about Mystery Train, and the chance find of a Jackie Wilson album in a thrift shop in deepest New Hampshire. Between those two we also stumbled across a newish (open about 18 months) record shop – Revolution - in North Conway, NH of all places. Another example of the “vinyl is back” phenomenon. Spent all of ten minutes in there as we wanted to make sure we completed a scenic drive into the White Mountains in full daylight. Still managed to pick up an Eddie Harris album though. Then there was Olympic in Providence. Mrs Darce and my daughter sought out a very nice pub on Wickenden St and left me to some riffling. Unfortunately I hit the shop only 30 minutes before closing time, but I managed to buy four 45s, including two by Lee Rogers which I was very happy with.

I thought that was it on our trip as far as vinyl was concerned. We were finishing off the trip on Cape Cod where I thought finding vinyl might be a challenge, and our baggage allowance was probably close to topping out anyway, so vinyl went to the back of my mind. 

On our last day we had decided to make our way back up to Boston along the coast and off interstate again. One of the first stops was Sandwich (incidentally, twinned with Sandwich in Kent). It was a sunny day, good for a stroll. It struck us as being a very genteel place. We idly browsed a few “nick nack” shops, with Mrs Darce, as ever, on the look out for some earrings or maybe a little memento for the house. 

Macdonald's Emporium (of Sandwich as opposed to Macdonald's Sandwich Emporium) didn't look promising on that front as we approached it and we nearly didn't go in but am I glad we did! The Emporium was a slightly curious place. It seemed to be part sweet shop, part cheap clothes shop, and part consignment / second hand shop.... and surprise surprise, there were a few records. First I found a box of albums, but there was nothing of interest in it. Then I came across one of box of 45s, almost all of which no longer had their paper sleeves but each were instead housed in a flimsy plastic bag. 

I started looking through them not expecting much. There were a mixture of genres – including, slightly bizarrely, another Tom Jones single on Parrot, a feature of at least one of the other shops earlier in the trip – but nothing exciting. Then, all of a sudden, a rich seam of Soul gold – a Betty Lavette on Calla , June Conquest on Windy C, Major Lance on Okeh, and some Brunswicks. BOOM! In the end I bagged (literally) six 45s. 

OK, The Last Word 45 was a mistake, I wasn't sure it was Soul and it tuns out it is tepid Garage Rock, but I am “pleased as punch”* with the others, all in great condition considering they had lost their original sleeves at some point during their lifetime. The Betty Lavette and June Conquest 45s in particular rate as my finds of the whole trip (along with that Jackie Wilson album I regaled you with earlier).

This Betty Lavette single is a storming double header, and quite a desirable one too looking at its price history on the 'ogs. I will share the June Conquest single next time.

* Earlier in the trip a lovely lady working in a small Post Office had told us “we are pleased as punch to see you” as we bought a stamp for a postcard. She gave us a special stamp, and even signed the the back of the receipt with a little message. Thinking about it that happened to be in Center Sandwich in New Hampshire. “Pleased as punch” has now become a family saying (as it may well have been about 50 years ago!). 

Sunday, December 02, 2018

More holiday notes; and RIP Sonny

As I said in my previous post, during our recent holiday opportunities for digging were limited but I did manage to hit a few stores and thrifts.

I had a couple of record shops in Boston on the radar but couldn't work them into the itinerary. As we worked our way up coast on a gloomy and rainy day, foregoing a stroll around Rockport, the first record store I visited was Mystery Train in Gloucester, MA. Mrs Darce and my daughter generously left me to my own devices for over an hour.

Mystery Train is a great shop which I only really scratched the surface of. Tim was a very pleasant host. When I said I was from the UK he asked whereabouts. When I told him it was Bristol he said he was currently reading Original Rockers and had I read it? I have – written by Richard King it is about his time working in Revolver Records in Bristol, and the shop's history. Revolver just happened to be my go to record shop in the the late 70s! Mystery Train has an extensive range of albums and a fair amount of little ones too. Apart from a few racks of “recent arrivals” all are arranged by genre which, with my limited time, suited me very well. I furiously sifted through the Soul and R&B 45s and gave the Jazz albums section a scattergun attack. But, as I said, to do the shop justice a few hours would be needed.

In attacking the Jazz section, knowing that time was limited, I decided I would target certain artists only. One of those is Sonny Fortune. Until earlier this year I had been unaware of him, but then I picked up a copy of his 1976 album Waves Of Dreams. It was so much more than I expected. Being released in 1976 I think I expected it to be a fusion album and maybe a tepid one. But it contains much in the straight jazz vein, Sonny's playing is terrific and it is very enjoyable. 

So Sonny has been on my radar ever since and I was happy to find two more of his albums at Mystery Train. 

What I have only just discovered is that Sonny Fortune died from complications of a stroke on 25/10/18. That just happened to be the day we were flying back home from our holiday, with two Sonny Fortune albums – Serengeti Minstrel and Infinity Is - in our luggage. Here are two tracks from Sonny, one from each of these two albums for you to enjoy. From 1977 and 1978 these albums do see Sonny moving into an increasingly funkier fusion setting, consistent with the times and his, then new, label, Atlantic. Where have I heard that before? I was left thinking on a few occasions on first listening to Infinity Is. None more so than on the track A Ballad For Our Times. On this album was Sonny simply being derivative? Or was he in fact laying down melodies and motifs that others would follow? Given that Sonny was a well accomplished, and respected, player I suspect it would have been the latter. As for A Ballad For Our Times, he must have simply been paying homage to an iconic track and album, I will leave you to identify which piece of music that is.

I was going to expand a little on Sonny's career here but in fact his recent obituary in the New York Times does that much more ably and concisely than I could manage.

RIP Cornelius “Sonny” Fortune 19/5/1939 - 25/10/2018.

Monday, November 19, 2018

New memories

Last month we had a lovely family holiday in New England. Our daughter is 30 and son 27 now and it is a few years since we have been on a holiday together, so this was really special. It was essentially a road trip – I shared the driving with my daughter, and Mrs Darce was in the back, like the Queen! - starting at Boston, where our son joined us for a couple of days, and going anti clockwise up coast to South Portland , across into the White Mountains, down to Providence (where we hooked up again with our son who is doing a research placement at Brown), across to Cape Cod and finally back up the coast to Boston. A truly memorable trip all round.

I managed to fit in a little bit of digging along the way, as you do if you're a vinyl addict like me. What follows is just a taster.

Planning our trip along the scenic byways between Franconia, in the White Mountains, and Providence we noticed there was a township (if that is the right term?) in New Hampshire that shares our family name so it was of course a necessity to pay it a visit along the way and get a family picture next to the town's sign. Just as we drove into the town's outer limits I spotted a thrift store so I just had to haul the rental car in the car park outside stop and have a look inside. Yes, they had some records, and yes they looked like they had mostly been there a long time, and would be spending a lot longer there too! But I was chuffed to find this one particular album and I duly paid my $1.

Jackie Wilson's Higher And Higher. What can I say? What an album this is! This copy - a mono press on nice thick vinyl - has spent 51 years on this planet, has lost its inner sleeve along the way, and bears the marks of much love and attention by the looks of things. The scuffs and small scratches on the vinyl result in some crackle from the speakers, but that is part of its charm really and cannot dim the magnificence of the music contained in the grooves. I am a fan of Jackie's but only possess a handful of his singles (and coincidentally earlier this year I finally got 'round to buying Higher And Higher on 45). It's a while since an album has stopped me in my tracks and demanded my full attention, and it sort of made me feel like a kid again. It's only taken me 51 years to find it! There are so many so many great tracks on this album it blows me away, and I have to say playing it for the first time a week or so ago I got quite emotional, it's that good to my mind.

I will, of course, because of the circumstances, always remember where I found this album. And now every time I play it (and that will be more than a few times, I'm sure) those memories will be triggered, and when Jackie sings over the sublime song arrangements I think it's a safe bet I will shed a few tears of joy each and every time.

Saturday, November 10, 2018


Er... Hello there.

Now, let's see if I can remember how to do this blogging thing!

Yes (Ravel, at least!) it's been a long time since my last post. I didn't say farewell then so any of you still checking into this blog might have thought a) what's happened?, or, reasonably, b) well he could have at least said goodbye!

But the thing is I wasn't intending to stop posting, it just sort of happened. I blame the weather and the World Cup. The summer may seem a distant memory now but here in the UK it was a scorcher. As I get older my desire to be outdoors seems to increase year on year, so the lure of the sunshine was irresistible. Then the World Cup came along and the whole family got hooked (and not just because England flattered to deceive either). We watched a lot of matches (with half times spent out in that sunshine) and stuck a lot of Panini stickers in (the shinies were devilishly difficult to find this time). As a result this blog got shunted into the sidings and when the World Cup was over and the summer waned the blogging habit had gone.

I started to feel the urge to get this show on the road again about a month ago but a family holiday was then just around the corner so decided it was best to leave it a bit longer so I could have a clear run at things. So, finally, here we are, ready to share some more vinyl with you. The vinyl collecting bug has not waned these last few months so I'm sure there is no shortage of gems amongst the random stacks of little ones and big ones that are constantly being shuffled around the house! And many of these have also not received proper playing time for the reasons stated above. So a journey of discovery for you and me awaits!

I thought I had better kick things off again with an extra special record. Well, I think it's extra special, to the point that it now is the most expensive record I have ever bought. I'm not someone who spends hundreds of pounds on a record, not yet anyway, but this 45 set me back more than £1 for each RPM (but less than £2/RPM so I'm not completely mad!).

I think this 45 featured as a “Derek's Daily 45” some years ago. Anyway, wherever it came from, it found its way onto my ipod a few years ago and has stayed on there ever since. Other tracks on the ipod have been refreshed and rotated every few months but it seems I can never remove this one. I can hear it again and again and never get tired of it. It is simply sublime in every way – except I wish it could last a bit longer, maybe only 30 seconds longer, but it could do with one more verse or an instrumental break I think. But then that is the mark of a great record, it leaves you wanting more.

There are a number of presses of this 45, all issued around the same time I believe. The misspelling of the title on my copy might hint it was a first press, subsequently corrected, but I don't think that is necessarily the case. I love seeing a misspelling on a label. I'm sure it wouldn't happen nowadays with a more professional approach in the recording industry. I think a misspelling is indicative of a simpler time when many record labels and recording enterprises were run on a shoestring and the time from song conception through recording to issue was often very short. No time for proof reading a label for instance, just get it pressed and get it out to the rack jobber. But because of that I think the essence of the record – its soul – is preserved and shines through so much more.

The Brothers Of Soul were Fred Bridges, Richard Knight, and Bobby Eaton. They released a number of singles in their own right and also produced and wrote many more for Ruby Andrews among others, including another sublime – and expensive – record James Shorter's Modern Day Woman. A potted history can be found at Discogs.

Just listen to the strings and the horns on this track – a B side! - a killer arrangement.

Brothers Of  Soul – I'd Be Greatful* 1969                  

Friday, April 27, 2018

Instant disco for a Friday night

Sometimes only a classic (or three) will do. Put The Emperor into the mix and there is nothing else to do but GET ON DOWWWNN!!

The Rosko Show excerpt

Rosko's BBC Radio 1 Saturday shows were required listening for me back in 70s. A true artist from when DJs were something else.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Back to the future

It had been nagging away at me for months that I had not refreshed my ipod music for a long time – I reckon some tracks had been on there for at least a year. Not a problem I suppose if it only gets sporadic use. But I cycle to work regularly and nearly always have the ipod fired up.

There was a time not so long ago when I would be loading fresh (to me) tracks onto my ipod every few weeks. Those tracks would in nearly all cases have been downloaded from blogs like this one. My desire then for hearing something new (to me) was insatiable.Times have changed, many of my go to blogs have shut up shop, and as they have so my appetite for blog grazing has dropped away. As a result there are not so many new mp3s appearing on my computer.

Anyway, last weekend I finally got around to refreshing the ipod, and a good majority of what I put on it were tracks copied from my own vinyl collection, many of which I have featured here over the years. (Now, there's a novel idea!) And the refreshed ipod has refreshed me, and my cycle to and from work. I've always enjoyed cycling to work but had forgotten how much of that enjoyment was down to my listening experience whilst pedalling. I realise now the cycle had been becoming as much of a drudge as work itself. Now with my ipod rejuvenated I am at least once more looking forward to the cycle at each end of the day.

This has also made me appreciate my record collection much more and, even if I say so myself, it underlines the fact that Feel It has featured plenty of quality tunes!

It has also made me realise many of those tunes I have not played enough – too often it seems the pattern has been: stumble across it, buy it, binge play it for a day or two, share it with you, file it. It seems obvious now that I should use my ipod and my cycle to work to reacquaint myself with my own record collection!

There is a faint feeling of nostalgia running through this post. Ted Taylor is not an artist who appears on my ipod at the moment. But he no doubt will soon. I have just bought yet another of his Ronn 45s. I must have most of them now (what am I talking about, I quick tot up tells me I only have about half of them). That 45 has yet to arrive in the post but it got me thinking it was about time I featured another of his singles. He has made about six appearances here over the years, possibly the most of any artist, but the last time was in 2015. I am a great fan of his. His voice, being well up in the register, may not be to everyone's taste but there is no doubting that every phrase he utters is drenched in Soul. Looking at the YouTube entry for this track there are quite a few comments from people who I am sure live in the Southern States of the USA talking about their parents who would play Ted's records over and over, and still have fond memories of his songs. I can imagine these people listening to Ted on the radio back in the 60s and early 70s, and maybe singing along. Those comments and my thoughts make me feel even closer to Ted Taylor and his magnificent catalog of recordings. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


I've just completed another reorganisation of my vinyl horde. Long overdue it was too, Mrs Darce had been giving the record room (formerly the dining room) some increasingly pointed looks lately. Now, at least for a while, the random piles have been sorted and filed, or moved out. It got worse before it got better as it entailed a fairly fundamental reorganisation. There is once more some genre separation, and my long standing desire to keep records I acquired in my “youth” separated from more recent acquisitions has finally been abandoned. So, I suppose you could say the collection has become more and less integrated at the same time! Makes things much easier to find though.

During this enjoyable exercise (you don't have to play records to enjoy them if you are a vinyl nerd) quite a few albums surfaced that I had forgotten about, and a fair few I have probably never played before!

As an example, this album by Amina Claudine Myers has, I estimate, been in the collection for about four years now and I think has had only one previous play. It has had another two plays now in the last few days and is finally fully appreciated.

Amina has released a total of eight albums since 1979, but I suggest has been well under the radar. As a child she played the organ and sang in and directed church and gospel choirs. She then moved into the jazz world and has toured and played with the likes of Archie Shepp, Arthur Blythe, Sonny Stitt and Charlie Haden among others. She has also been involved in various theatre productions.
The album Amina admirably showcases her many talents: composition, arranging, vocals, and,last but not least, keyboards.

So where have I filed this album in my new regime? It's difficult. It could be argued that she is a singer-songwriter; there is a flavour of soul and gospel to her work; and she also almost approaches classical music at times There is a strong jazz element to her work though and so she has taken her place in the contemporary jazz section, which in my collection really encompasses everything 70s and beyond that has a jazz leaning.

Reading more about her just now I learnt that it is Amina's birthday today (just). So, Happy Birthday Amina.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


This blog continues to stumble along and today has reached the ripe old age of 12. Something of a dinosaur in the whirlwind that is the internet and “soshul “ media now.

If the blog stats can be believed then a few people still drop in. But the numbers have dropped off markedly, with another dive in the last couple of years. Then again, my posting frequency has dropped off too. It seems, like many things, the blog stats are not quite as good/believable/revealing as they once were. The complexity nowadays of internet routing and server location may have something to do with it I suppose, but the link and referring stats seem to be of little use. I sometimes go to a blog or site that has, so say, linked here and often find the blog has no evident links here, and is usually not even music related.

To my few regulars and any of you who continue to drop by I say thank you. It is nice to think you do, and it continues to keep me going.

The 45 I present on Feel It's 12th birthday is one I picked up at the local record fair earlier this year. I had gone only with the intention of catching up with a friend and perhaps just idly browsing. I wasn't feeling the urge to buy (I often don't nowadays at mainstream record fairs), but found a new (to me) dealer who had a few boxes of interesting Soul stuff. This 45 wasn't cheap, but was a good deal anyway.

Almost nothing is known of Alice Clark. She has left us with a recording legacy of just three high quality singles and one rare and highly sought after album, released in 1972. The 45 I'm featuring was her first, and amazingly it also actually got a UK release (on the Action label). Typical of mid to late Sixties Soul 45s it has an upbeat dancer on the A side and a deeper slowie on the B. If you are a regular here you will know the deep and soulful ones are really my bag, and so it is the B side of this 45 that seems particularly apt to share on this blog's birthday.

PS: Happy Birthday Candi Staton.

Friday, March 02, 2018

White stuff

So here we were in our little corner of the UK thinking it was a bit nippy but wondering where all the snow was, and was it really that bad elsewhere? Then at about 3pm yesterday, right on cue (the weather forecast is remarkably accurate nowadays), it started snowing - properly. So we no longer feel left out. Plenty of snow now, and cold enough I think. Let's try not to get carried away though when talking about the “beast from the east”, it might “feel like” -13C, or whatever is being quoted at the moment in places, but back in 1982 (I think it was) the mercury told us it was actually -21C in these here parts. I can't help thinking “feels like” temperatures are just one more weapon in the newsroom hyperbole armoury now.

This is quite a cool (in more ways than one) picture my daughter took at 1:30am last night, no flash or fancy metering involved. We were both struck by how light it was. There was certainly no moon beaming down. But there was a vaguely orange wash over everything. Another sign of the times – light pollution reflecting back off all the snow.

A brief cast around for a suitably apt track to play for this snow event drew a blank really. I've settled for something by Danny White (Geddit? Groan), and with artistic licence let's just imagine the light pollution I referred to was the moon beaming down.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Milestones (aka the iceberg)

I promised to expand on some recent scores at the charity shops. If we're talking about pure potential monetary value, in the space of 24 hours last month I scored my two best ever finds. (They score on more than that though as they are both excellent albums).

The haul mentioned in my last post included some records from a shop I almost didn't visit. Going down the road near the start of my charity shop trawl one Friday back in January one of the shops was closed with a note on the door saying “back at 13.30”. By the time I went back up the road I had had a call from Mrs Darce and my daughter requesting a pick up from 'their' shops. Did I have time to call back into the shop on the way back up the road? Just about I thought, it usually only contained one small box of records so shouldn't take a minute. Am I glad I dropped in! There was only one box, but it contained some gems! As I was paying for the haul (that included the soul 45s featured last time) the girl said “I thought these wouldn't hang around long, they only came in this morning”. Right place, right time! As well as those soul 45s I came away with a few albums that included a first press Pink Floyd Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. It's in pretty good nick. I will leave you to check out how much it could easily be worth, if you're interested, but let's just say it is comfortably in the three figure range (that's three figures before the decimal point, as opposed to the £2.99 I paid for it knowing it was likely a good find but not at the time understanding it was a first press.)

Twenty four hours later in another charity shop in another part of town I stumbled across another record whose worth probably nudges into the three figure bracket: Waltz For Debby by the Bill Evans Trio, an original mono UK Riverside issue. A highly desirable Jazz album found amongst a pile of albums that were typical charity shop fare i.e. definitely not highly desirable, and not Jazz. At times like this you wonder: why was it there?, and had there been any other similar records keeping it company that had already been snaffled? The picture you see of it's front cover was taken after I removed the 99p sticker.

In such situations should one feel guilty of taking advantage of the charity shops' lack of knowledge of the worth of their wares? Well, I figure I spend enough in charity shops – for instance I'm always buying records I don't need, or find I don't like, and often end up being retuned to another charity shop! Also there is every possibility I will keep these albums, and if I do end up selling them for a tidy profit then I can always give a donation. So I'm OK with it.

Waltz for Debby is a beautiful album, one to put on on late at night, or on a calm Sunday morning. It was recorded live at the Village Vanguard in New York on the 25th June 1961. The trio comprised Bill Evans on piano, Scott LeFaro, bass and Paul Motian, drums. I have read that this was the only time Bill Evans ever performed Miles Davis' Milestones.

PS: Things often come in threes, but it was too much to hope for another find of similar magnitude, I'm still waiting.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The tip of the iceberg

As I mentioned in my last post there has been a relatively large influx of vinyl at chez Darcy in recent weeks. I relieved an ex-work colleague of close to 100 albums a few weeks ago and this followed what I can safely say is my best ever 24 hours trawling the charity shops. In one day I spent in excess of £60 in three shops and finished up with a very heavy bag to cart back to the car. The very next day I scored again, but more of that in my next post. The five singles you see in the picture - all mid Sixties soul/R&B on UK labels - were just a very small part of my £60 haul on a very lucky Friday earier last month.

It's interesting to note that by the mid Sixties US singles labels were already a riot of colour and design. Not so in UK. The record industry here was still dominated by a few major labels, the independent spirit hadn't taken hold; and "Swinging London" was yet to get going. Our record labels could still be best described as sombre and conservative, but at least with Atlantic you knew the music in grooves would be guaranteed to brighten up proceedings.

Solomon Burke - Maggie's Farm  1965

Booker T & The MGs - Red Beans And Rice  1966 

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Southern soul's galaxy dims

Once again time seems to have been limited for blogging. Our daughter has unexpectedly returned to the nest in need of a bit of TLC after splitting up with her boyfriend (not her doing) and an abortive job as a ski chalet manager in Austria where her bosses and the working conditions were pretty bad (to put it mildly), especially considering the pittance of a wage.

I am also drowning in vinyl again. There has been quite an influx in recent weeks from various sources and I have been attempting to give them some proper attention, and to manage their conspicuousness in the eyes of Mrs Darce!

So, I'm well behind the curve here this year. Already two (that I am aware of) bright stars in Soul music – Rick Hall and DeniseLaSalle – have passed in 2018. I should have dedicated a post here to each of them but feel I'm a bit late to the game. I did report these sad events soon after they happened on a record forum I frequent. Such is the nature of those forums that comments can be made very quickly. Here, at such times, I feel the need to be more, I don't know: considered, reverential, verbose? That takes time, which has been in short supply, so, as I said I feel the moment has passed for a detailed celebration of Rick and Denise's lives.

To both I shall just simply say thanks for all the great music you left us with and Rest In Peace.

I featured this track a few years ago. As I said then this is Denise in a more wistful and mellow mood. It's worth a re-up I think. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Re-lighting my fire

And there I was starting to build up a bit of a head of steam with a few posts here before Christmas and then the dreaded Aussie flu (or at least something approaching it) struck. At 4pm on Christmas Day to be precise. At least I managed to enjoy the Christmas dinner. The rest of the holidays were pretty much a write off and I was close to cancelling my big (as in a rather large round number) birthday party at the end of the year. I finally managed to get rid of the lingering cough yesterday.

I've been fit again now for most of this new year but it knocked me out of my blogging stride.

Anyway a belated Happy New Year to you all.

As I hinted at above it was my birthday on NYE and I reached the big six oh. I know, it's only a number. An early birthday present to myself arrived in the post a couple of days before the day in question. I had been on the look out for a copy of this album at the right price and condition for a few years, and finally I found one that even after factoring in postage from the USA was a good buy. Not stung for customs either, that's two packages in the last couple of months that have got through. I think the USA is on my radar again as a record source.

The album in question is Rhetta Hughes' Re-Light My Fire. It is not very well known but is one of the great soul albums I think. Soul albums, especially from the Sixties, are often little more than a collection of singles as the album format was slow to catch on in the Soul world. This album could be said to be the same, seven of the tracks appeared on four 45 releases in 1968 - the year before this album was released. But all the tracks are so strong it makes the album a winner. The back cover tells us it is “A Mike Terry & Jo Armstead Production”, Mike Terry arranged, and Jo Armstead is named in the writing credits of eight of the eleven tracks – surefire quality marks right there!

After her run of Tetragrammaton 45s and this album at the end of Sixties Rhetta would not commit anything else to wax until the early Eighties. It seems she went in the direction of the stage instead, appearing in a number of musicals. In truth it would have been difficult to follow Re-Light My Fire.

I'll share two tracks with you. One picks itself but I could happily pick any one of the other tracks on the album and they wouldn't disappoint. I'll settle for this one, which also be found as a B-side to one of Rhetta's 45s.

Then there is this, a desert island disc for me. The intro just gets me every time and the whole track is just perfect.