Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Early Bird..

My planned post will have to wait a few days as I have another car boot haul to document.

The signs hadn’t been good for car booting at the weekend, the weather forecast until late in the day on Saturday had been for more(!) rain. But I caught a late forecast that had put the rain back to Sunday afternoon so went to bed Saturday night with some, albeit muted, anticipation. As it happened I actually naturally awoke at 5.30am (unheard of). I looked out the window and, yes, it was dry, and a pleasant looking morning. So I hauled myself out of bed , pulled on some clothes, made Mrs Darce a coffee, fed the cats and (finally) hit the road. Arrival at the car boot was at 6.45am, the earliest I have ever made one, by about 20 minutes. So for once I was very much among the early birds, and dreaming of worms!

Actually, finding the venue might have been a problem if I wasn’t a regular as the whole area was initially shrouded in thick fog! Great. But it soon lifted. There were much fewer sellers (and early birds) there than usual it seemed, and as the minutes passed the numbers didn’t increase as much as expected either. It became apparent that the weather forecast that had prevailed for most of the previous day had put a lot of people off. Typical, I arrive really early for once and there aren’t many wares to inspect. There was an upside though, because it also became clear that the forecast must have put off a lot of the record dealers and collectors too. Most of the regular faces were missing, and the few that were there seemed to be more in my mould i.e. not too pushy. (I had heard a story the previous week, backed up by somebody else telling it the same way on Sunday, that at the same car boot a few weeks ago two guys had all but come to blows over a box of folk albums).  

So, not many stalls potentially offer digging opportunities, but also not many diggers.

A little more than an hour later the early morning had proved that you only need a couple of sellers with an interesting boxes of records and, crucially, not much in the way of digger competition to have a great day. My record bag ended up almost full with the best, and most eclectic, haul I have gathered in quite a while. I haven’t had a chance to play many of them yet but they look to be in generally excellent condition. Here is what I picked up for a total outlay of £11 (all LPS bar a couple and, except for the Jazz LPs, all originals I believe):

Mick Ronson – Play Don’t Worry
Pockets – Come Go With Us (White Label Promo)
Tower Of Power – We Came To Play (WLP)
Lindisfarne – Dingly Dell
John Mayall’s Blues Breakers – Bare Wires
Ashford & Simpson – Found A Cure (12” single)
Dennis Brown – Love Has Found Its Way
The Fatback Band featuring Brother Johnny King – Feel My Soul*
The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Jazz At Oberlin
The Modern Jazz Quartet – European Concert Vol II  
Free Spirit – Love You Just As Long As I Can (7”)
Pink Floyd (The Screaming Abdabs) – The Dark Side Of The Moo
Sandy Denny – Like An Old Fashioned Waltz
John Martyn – Solid Air
Queen – It’s A Kind Of Magic
Talk Talk – It’s My Life

*I’ve always been a fan of The Fatback Band but I have to say their “Feel My Soul” album had completely passed me by. It was their third album release, in 1974, and the final one on their first label, Perception. Looking at their discography I notice that no singles were pulled from it, which I suspect is because they were about to move away from the label, and possibly explains why I was unaware of it until now. Playing Side 1 my initial thoughts were that it has some nice moments, is very laid back and soulful in comparison to their more well known funkiness, and is OK without being great. Side 2, however, completely blows me away. Funkier, and trippier. My son walked in as I was playing it and immediately asked what it was and when was I going to record it so he could get it onto his computer. I see that it has been reissued more recently, but my freshly acquired copy has all the hallmarks of an original – thick card sleeve and paste on back cover, and it has that certain smell (aaahhh that smell, excuse me while I inhale again!), nice! Side 2 also has the smallest runout dead wax I think I have ever seen on an LP. The side is not that long, just under 20 minutes, so there is no reason for it other than the grooves have maybe been stretched out a bit (is that possible?) - it certainly has a really good fidelity. I reckon, as an original, you could easily expect to pay £30 for this in a second hand record shop. I paid 85p so I’m well happy!

So, after a slow start to the digging season, things have picked up in the last few weeks, and this haul in particular will ensure I will be full of optimism and anticipation for the next few weeks at least.  Or then again, perhaps I should give myself some time to properly listen to what I have bought and stop booting for a bit – but I know that’s just not going to happen!

Deciding which track to play from this Fatback Band album is difficult. It has to one from Side 2, but I could easily post the whole side. I’ll settle for tracks 2 and 3 which are the funky meat in a trippy sandwich. Johnny Flippin’s bass just kills me on these, the horns are none too shabby either. After listening to these be sure to head over to YouTube and Feel My Soul.

The Fatback Band featuring Brother, Johnny King – Makin Love 1974   

The Fatback Band featuring Brother, Johnny King – Why Is It So Hard To Do 1974                 

Buy the album Feel My Soul
PS: Never satisfied?: The box I pulled a few of these from I didn’t get to first. At least one person had three from it ahead of me. Now, I wonder? If I hadn’t made my wife a coffee, and left the cats to cry for their breakfast, what else might I have found?                  

PPS: The best overheard car boot “nuggets” of the day:
1.      Lady seller draws up and of course is immediately surrounded by a hoard of booting vultures (yes, including me). Opening the car door she immediately says “I haven’t got any records, jewellery, or mobile phones”.

2.     Girl, about 15?, running back from a distant stall: “Mum, they’ve got a great pair of daps up there, but they’re £2”.       

Sunday, June 03, 2012


It has been a couple of weeks since my last post and I could blame the weather – you have to take advantage of the sunshine when you can in the UK – but it has been as much about blogging apathy, a state that has been difficult to shake for most of this year in truth. I am almost awash in my recent vinyl purchases though so hopefully, like little sunbeams, these will spur me on to some more regular posting in this little corner of the ‘net.    
I was very pleased to pick this 45 up at a local record fair recently. The fair focuses primarily on ‘50s and ‘60s sounds – rock & roll, early r&b, early British pop stuff, that sort of thing. But there are usually some boxes of soul to root through. So while the rock & roll and rockabilly was blasting out in the room on seemingly duelling turntables there was I, no doubt being a tad unpopular,  intermittently commandeering a communal deck to listen to my little stack of possibilities, and struggling to turn the volume on the headphones up loud enough to hear them!

I made a few purchases and this 45 from The Emotions is probably my favourite of the bunch.             

I love the label on this one, and this is my first Twin Stacks 45 (Does anybody know why the label was so named? a local landmark?) . The Hutchinson sisters as The Emotions had their first releases on the Chicago based sister labels Brainstorm and Twin Stacks in late ’67 and ’68. Robert Pruter, in his excellent book “Chicago Soul” comments that their initial two releases were local hits only. National chart success would evade them until they signed to Volt, and of course in the ‘70s, when they teamed up with the Earth, Wind & Fire collective, international success would follow.

My interest in music began in the ‘70s and I am always fascinated to delve into the back catalogs and learn the back stories of many of the artists and groups that burst onto the UK scene for the first time back then. They all seemed like new talent to me then, but in many cases of course these artists had “paid their dues” and had been on the scene for a number of years. The Emotions very much fell into this category. Like most of the black soul singers that came up in the ‘60s Sheila, Wanda, and Jeanette Hutchinson first exercised their vocal cords in church as young children. They became the Emotions in 1967 and had a total of five releases on Brainstorm/Twin Stacks before  Pervis Staples took them under his wing and got them a deal with Stax/Volt. The Chicago releases had not been their first recordings, however. Taking various names, including The Hutchinson Sunbeams (I like that name) in the early ‘60s their first release was entitled  “Santa Got Stuck In The Chimney” that appeared as early as 1962 and there would be at least one more 45 before they settled on The Emotions as an identity.  Whilst at Stax/Volt Jeanette would leave the group for a time to concentrate on motherly duties, to be replaced by a friend, Theresa Davis. Jeanette returned to the group in 1974 and stayed until 1977 during which time, with the exception of their duet with EWF “Boogie Wonderland”,  they would enjoy their biggest hits, particularly “Best Of My Love”. When Jeanette left the group again to pursue other interests, another sister – Pamela – took her place. Very much a sister act then throughout their career.                  

“Somebody New”, their second 45 as The Emotions, was a local Chicago hit in the spring of 1968. The sisters ranged in ages from 15-18 at the time this was recorded, and this was also written by the eldest of the three, Jeanette. It's a gorgeous slow mid-tempo meander, perfectly suited to the lovely weather we have been having lately , and has been getting a lot of plays at the Darcy abode in recent weeks. (As I write the impending Jubilee Bank Holidays here in the UK have, true to form, seen off the good weather though, for the time being at least).

(The Hutchinson Sunbeams freshly minted as:)