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