Heavy and Alive (K20034) (1972)

SAM_0342With the sleeve, title and typography to suggest nothing less than a Thin Lizzy in concert Lp, this excellent early 70s Atlantic Records soul-jazz compilation is almost comically desperate in its attempts to appeal to the callow youth weaned on Sixeventies Rock.

Barry Graves liner notes takes this notion several ludicrous steps further. To wit:

  • Alright, you, push back your headphones and give me that Mick Jagger-type high camp look of disgust: ‘I don’t care about your jazz’. I should have guessed that Neil Young is stronger than blue notes.
  • You burn incense at Jimi’s grave while the wind cries Mary, and you tell everybody that Pete Townshend is a close relative of yours. Why should you be bothered by jazz?
  • You like flaming keyboards…and you wouldn’t mind being drowned by foaming tambourines and splashing congas?
  • And then you catch a glimpse of Miles Davis, all high-heeled silver boots and red-hot bell bottoms, whipping it out under the magic spot-lights of the ‘Fillmore’. 
  • Today jazz can be caught wearing dashikis, flashing the peace sign, toying with Moog synthesizers, getting all those space-out freaks back to dancing and displaying as much soul as you need to make black look beautiful.
  • Modern jazz sound[s] now!, ‘together’, ‘far out’ [and has] got itself electrified by Hendrix and 16-tracked by rock stereo ingenuity to maintain the vitality of the young.
  • The skilfulness of its musicians in combed Afro-style and sports hippie beads, their creative power knows the headlines by heart.
  • Etc., etc., etc.SAM_0343

Despite its vintage, only one track, Herbie Hancock’s Ostinato, sounds at all post-Bitches Brew. Most of the rest rely on the boogie beat and/or raga drone to supply their modernism. Flutes prevail on several selections. All are worthwhile.

Thrifty Thrifty Vinyl readers needn’t be alarmed by the £5 sticker on the cover. I paid £2 for this last Sat.

Published in: on April 22, 2014 at 8:36 am  Comments (2)  

Tom Paxton – Ramblin’ Boy (EKL-277) (1965)


(Tora Bora Mountains, Afghanistan) – Face gurning. Body writhing. The fingers on his left hand are twitching spasmodically. Taliban conscript Abdul Salaam Wahed seems to be suffering an unspeakable horror.

In fact, the 22-year old jihadi is playing a virtually note perfect ‘air guitar’ solo to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Living Loving Maid’.

This apparent incongruity can be explained, but you would be wrong to think that Wahed has somehow ‘gone Western’. The terrorist foot soldier is actually part of an elite Taliban force that is being made immune to US torture techniques. By exposing its fighters to a range of Western pop and rock, anything from Britney Spears’ ‘Baby One More Time’ to AC/DC’s ‘Hells Bells’ to ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)’ by Toby Keith, the terrorist organisation hopes to inure its member to the insidious use of music as an instrument of psychological warfare.

SAM_0340According to Steve Goodman, author of Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear (Technologies of Lived Abstraction Series), better knows as producer Kode9, the use of music as a weapon extends back at least to the pounding of abeng drums by the Jamaican Maroons against their British colonial oppressors. ‘But leave it to the Yanks to turn something awesome like [Van Halen's] “Panama” into a torture device,’ he said.

Goodman called the Taliban tactic ‘an interesting development’ that could have ‘unintended consequences’. He predicted a splintering of the Afghan terror group into ‘moderates who favour middle-of-the-road artists like Nora Jones and Coldplay and hardliners who follow more outré groups like the Throbbing Gristle and Skinny Puppy. As well as Taliban Goths who listen to Sisters of Mercy and Type O Negative that no-one will like.’

‘I mainly listen to EDM,’ Wahed shared. ‘But lately I’ve been getting into some old jazz fusion records from the 70s, like Jean-Luc Ponty, and 80s pop as well.’

‘What can I say, I have very eclectic tastes!’

Echoing Goodman’s critique, Wahed claimed that not everybody in the Taliban is so open-minded. ‘There’s some of the older guys only listen to “classic rock”, you know, Zep, Purp, Sabs, that sort of thing,’ he smiled. ‘Which I like, too, obviously, but the thing is they’re going to be screwed if any of the American running dogs find this out: it’s going to be nothing but New Kids on the Block and Anne Murray for them!’

Of course, the Americans are well aware of the new Taliban strategy and are having to resort to more, shall we say, extreme methods.

‘I’m not at liberty to say,’ replied Kevin ‘Hamburger’ McDonald when asked what music American Psychological Operations teams were planning to employ. However, leaked Pentagon documents suggest that clearance has been given to use ‘Friday’ by Rebecca Black, ‘We Built This City’ by Jefferson Starship, as well as what one PsyOps director called the ‘nucular [sic] option’ aka ‘Rock Star’ by Nickleback.

SAM_0341Editor’s Note: I haven’t had a chance to listen to this very earnest looking, lefty folk album by Dylan acolyte Paxton what I got on Saddy morn at a rain drenched Etchinghill Bootfair. I know Ramblin’ Boy gets short shrift from critics who find it dated, po-faced and didactic. Willing to part with £2 to find out if they’re wrong.


Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 4:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Tito Simon – Love It Up (PMLP 3232) (1980?)

SAM_0335A mixture of soul covers, originals and unlikely re-imagined country hits was the formula of choice for commercial reggae produced by Pama, Trojan, etc. in the 1970s and set the stage for UB40′s ubiquity the following decade.  On this early 80s Lp, Simon’s tremulous, yet powerful tenor strongly recalls international reggae star Jimmy Cliff. No strings here, but it’s still a fairly backward looking (i.e. no Dancehall stylee vibes, which would have been the contemporary thing), professional pop-roots album.

Another pound record from yesterday in almost mint condition, featuring a textured sleeve.
SAM_0336For the immature amongst the Thrifty V readership, Simon’s original songs are published by TIT music. Fnarr, fnarr.

Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 8:53 am  Leave a Comment  

The Only Recorded Performance of Paul Desmond with The Modern Jazz Quartet (FINLP 6050) (1981)

SAM_0338Dave Brubeck Quartet cornerstone Desmond, a man for whose musical hue the word ‘mellifluous’ could have been invented, takes turns smoothly vamping with John Lewis et. al. on a programme of standards and, in peculiar deference to the season and then-contemporary tastes, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Recorded on Xmas Day 1971, but not released until a decade later as a tribute to the recently deceased saxophonist.

It’s a wonderful show and an interesting recording: the mixture of close and ambient room mic-ing produces a magical 3D sound picture of startling depth, quite unlike any other I’ve heard. More than worth a pound I’d say.

Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 8:32 am  Leave a Comment  

American Festival Folk Blues (ALB 125)

SAM_0333LOCAL MAN ATTRIBUTES MYSTERIOUS MALADY TO “BLUES”                                                                                                Claims It’s The “Mos’ Powerful Bad Feeling I Done Ever Had”

(Columbus, Ohio) — His voice quavery and raw, local man Lightfoot McGee blamed his world of hurt on the nebulous psychological condition known as the Blues, which he claims were “fallin’ down like hail”. The itinerate musician says he noticed the symptoms when he woke up this mornin’ at which point, having rolled and tumbled the whole night long, he began a-weepin’ an’ a-moaning but still couldn’t get no relief.

The Blues, which area psychologist Becky Crane likened to “having a Hellhound on your tail”, presented itself with several physical manifestations, including McGee’s biscuit roller being gone, compulsive broom dusting and stones in his passway. Having tried hot foot powder all around his door and squeezing his lemon till the juice ran down his leg, McGee claims he still has “mean things all on my mind.”

Crane says she believes that McGee is going to have to beat his woman till he gets satisfied.

SAM_0334Editor’s Notes: This French 2 x Lp anthology more than lives up to its subtitle “A collection of authentic Blues By America’s Greatest Blues Artists”. Actually, one could argue that “authentic” is a somewhat problematic word in this context. While there’s no doubting the skill and sincerity of these performances, most are on electric instruments; not sure whether Messers Patton and Johnson would recognise them as “authentic”. I won’t split hairs though, this is stirring stuff.

Despite being an ex-library copy American Festival Folk Blues is in great shape–contrary to whatever you teenage boys might say, “FML” stands for “Fulham Metropolitan Library.” The chap who bought this record paid 40p less for it than I did some three decades later when I picked up last week.


Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 9:01 am  Comments (6)  

Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home (BPG 62515) (1965)


(New York City, New York) – The release date, April Fool’s Day 1969, should have been a clue, but today Bob Dylan revealed what some had long suspected since the album’s release: Nashville Skyline was a prank.

The singer-songwriter called Nashville Skyline a ‘major league goof’ that ‘suckered most critics and record buyers alike.’

‘I sounded that way because I sung it from the back of my throat,’ smiled Dylan. ‘And not because I’d quit smoking!”

Speaking on the eve of the hoax country-rock Lp’s re-release as part of Dylan’s lauded Bootleg Series, the veteran rocker further disclosed that the ‘Kermit the Frog’ voice utilised on the album was one of several attempted for the project. Accordingly, The Bootleg Series Volume 11 – Nashville Skylarking will feature entire discs of Dylan trying to perform ‘Lay, Lady, Lay’ etc. in a faux operatic style, a heavy metal shriek, a Jamaican patois, a Sinatra-esque croon and a series of James Brown grunts as well as a normal version unreleased until now because Dylan felt it was ‘too straight’.

SAM_0332Editor’s Note: Nice original mono edition of  one of Bob’s best albums in VG condish, cost me a pound; was part of the same collection as Oh Mercy below along with an interesting bootleg called Bob Dylan Vol. 2 – Little White Wonder

Published in: on April 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bob Dylan – Oh Mercy (465800 1) (1989)

SAM_0330Despite its reputation as Dylan’s return-to-form after a rum run of albums, I remembered Oh Mercy as sounding a trifle cold and undercooked. What a pleasant surprise then to now find the Daniel Lanois-produced album so warm and well thought out, the producer updating the notoriously slapdash record maker’s sound without sounding dated, a feat made all the more remarkable given its vintage.

By 1989, cds sold approximately 10 times more than vinyl record (though specifically how Dylan releases reflect this ratio, I don’t know), so scoring a worthwhile Lp from the time for a pound the day before yesterday represents a minor coup of sorts.

Published in: on April 10, 2014 at 7:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Ahmad Jamal – Macanudo (NJL 50) (1963)

SAM_0329UK Pye Jazz issue of US Chess/Argo exotica Lp by then-Chicago based pianist. In fact, the record is more accurately described as a collaboration with bassist/composer/arranger Richard Evans, who did much excellent work with the progressive wing of the Chess stable. A song-cycle of sorts, Evans wrote all eight pieces after visiting several South American countries on a JFK-sponsored cultural exchange program. My impression from other liner notes is that this was one cultural exchange that really culturally benefitted all concerned. Whether CIA operatives also gained a destabilising foothold is another matter upon which I couldn’t possibly comment.SAM_0328The music is richly orchestrated, sparkling, particularly “Haitian Market Place“; and sounds like a genuine hybrid of Latin American styles and the jazz, rather than mere pastiche.

Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 10:16 am  Comments (2)  

Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes – Welcome Home (ST-20147) (1969)

SAM_0325Inevitably groovy Lp by the Jimmy Smith-influenced Hammondist. The repertoire veers into EZ Listening, so, despite a funky backbeat, background or pruned enjoyment is recommended. Several jazzbos who went on to work with Steely Dan feature. Only £1.50 from the lady on the same stall as the Basie below.

When I saw this same seller in Etchinghill this weekend, she wanted to charge £5 a piece for albums that, while in EX+ condition, weren’t as interesting, saying she’d done a bunch of research in the meantime and was now basing her prices on eBay’s Buy-It-Now figures. I didn’t bother explaining that a quantification based on Discogs’  highest/lowest actually paid represents a more sensible option, I simply put those records back.

SAM_0326Half of the inner gatefold on Heinz Edelmann-style illustration typical of the day.

Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 9:55 am  Comments (6)  

Count Basie and the Kansas City 7 (IMPL 8017) (1962)

SAM_0320One of my recurring crate-digger fantasies involves me finding a box of Impulse! Lps. In my greedy reverie, all manner of glorious John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Michael White, Gabor Szabo, &tc gatefold albums present themselves easily identified by their orange and black spines, along with the offer of ten quid for the box from the seller. Well, last Sunday a titchy piece of that dream came true when I found this l’il number at a bootfair in Wincheap.
SAM_0321True, it’s only one album and a 1977 re-issue. And it’s not as far out as I usually like my 60s jazz. But it is a heavy cardstock, gatefold in almost mint condish and it sounds absolutely fantastic. At £1.50 it was well worth it.

Published in: on April 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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