Friday, May 25, 2018

Let me ride

Most of May has been a festival of sunshine and I for one have been making the most of it, hence it's been quiet again 'round here.

But the rain has returned today (the garden needs it so that's OK for now but, encouraged by a sparkling – if late - Spring, we don't want it hanging around for long ) and has driven me indoors and into the record room which has been rather neglected of late. The records haven't stopped piling up, I just haven't been playing them.

I've had a fair amount of luck in the charity shops so far this year, although not much in the soul and funk bag. The tracks here today come from an album I picked up during an impromptu visit to a real world record shop recently. I had been doing my usual charity shop trawl but felt the need to at least browse some tasty soul and funk so dropped into a proper shop, “just for a few minutes” I told myself. Some considerable time later Mrs Darce phoned me with the “where are you” question. Another afternoon had disappeared!

In this record shop I was immediately drawn towards a large box of albums next to the desk. I enquired whether it was a new walk in and could I browse? I could. The box wasn't exactly a walk in, it was a consignment of 2nd hand albums fresh in from the States – from Philadelphiamusic to be precise. That was interesting in itself. I have sometimes browsed this dealer's extensive stock on Discogs and marvelled and wondered in equal measure. Marvelled at the sheer volume of stock and low prices, but also wondered whether those prices could be too good to be true. After browsing the box it seems the records were generally in great condition, so that's good to know for the future. I mused with the guy in the shop about the shipping and customs cost for the consignment, but he wasn't letting on. Ways and means I guess.

There was nothing earth shattering in the box, just a generally really good selection of solid classics, many of which brought back some good memories. I enjoyed the rummage and the talk around some of the albums.

There was a Rufus album in the box which sparked some mutual love for the group, and next thing I know mein host conjured up an album by a group called High Voltage (not sure whether it came from the box now, or was from his shop stock). It was a new one on me. A 1972 release, the group included Tony Maiden and Bobby Watson who went on to be the guitarists (and sometimes composers) in Rufus, and also Lalomie Washburn on lead vocals who also went on to write some great songs for Rufus (including Your Smile, At Midnight, I'm A Woman I'm A Backbone). There are really tasty organ fills on some tracks too. These were the work of Andre Lewis, who also toured or played with Rufus among other big names, and went on to release albums under the name Mandre. 

A quick needle drop through the tracks convinced me it was a buy. A thick car sleeve and paste on back cover artwork too – such details are very special to an old vinyl junkie!

 It wasn't the only album I bought either (that's why I try to limit my record shop visits!). The Ohio Players Climax and a reissue (because I figure I am never likely to find an original at an affordable price) of Gloria Scott's What Am I Going To Do also found their way into my bag.

Here are two tracks from the High Voltage album. I think Rufus were always out on their own musically, certainly not rock, but not straight soul or funk either. This High Voltage album is in a similar vein, and I think is also reminiscent of early 70s' Tower Of Power as well (those big horns and organ fills).

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.