The Gil Evans Orchestra – Out of the Cool (MCA-5653) (1961)

"Oh, hi there, sorry you just caught me doing a spot of arranging."

“Oh, hi there, sorry you just caught me doing a spot of arranging.”

Some collectors will grumble that it’s the 1986, digitally-remastered, non-gatefold, redesigned-typeface version of Gil Evans’ classic, but not me. Even though I’m a big fan of his work with Miles Davis, which just preceded this release, I’d never felt compelled to venture into Evans’ catalogue as leader. Out of the Cool it not the blissed-out state of affairs suggested by the title, nor is it, without Davis, as punchy, edgy or as grandly orchestrated in the uniquely updated big band style of Miles Aheadet al. As thoughtfully arranged, dynamic and melodic as those earlier records, Cool remains, if anything, a slightly bluesier enterprise, with plenty of space for some fine improvisation. Reminiscent of Charles Mingus’ Columbia sides. In the end, it is, simply, a terrific listen.

Three quid from Oxfam in Folkestone.

Published in: on October 18, 2014 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

The Hour Glass (UA-LA013-G2) (1973)/ Duane Allman – An Anthology (2CP 0108) (1972)

SAM_0576The liner notes accompanying this compilation of the Hour Glass’s two Lps could hardly be more baldly dismissive, beginning with the opening paragraph (“The music on these two records is not very good”) and carrying on in like fashion from there (“Far from being the story of why the Hour Glass was such a fine band, it tells us more about why they were not“). In fact, writer Ben Edmonds’ attitude towards this charming pop-soul double album has more to do with place and timing than artistry.

A little background. The Hour Glass represents the first commercial output of Allman brothers Duane and Gregg. Despite having been in the business for a few years, the boys were manipulated in classic “I’m-gonna-make-you-a-star”-style into moving to LA dressed up in the hippy gladrags, having songs picked out for them and being allowed to perform only for a few high-profile gigs. As a result, the band was broke and culturally overwhelmed with a sorely misrepresentative repertoire, all of which left them more than a little frustrated and bitter. I think Edmonds’ liner notes reflect the band’s still fresh resentment rather than the music, which is actually quite good, certainly as good or better, thanks to the band’s considerable chops, than most Blue-Eyed Soul of the time. I got this three weeks ago in Hythe for a pound.

SAM_0577Not two weeks later, I picked a companion piece at the Ashford bootfair. Alluded to in glowing terms in Edmonds’ brush off, Duane Allman – An Anthology contains a couple previously unreleased Hour Glass tracks, notably a blues medley highly rated by the band, that indicate where the brothers were headed. SAM_0594In addition to a side’s worth of AB highlights, An Anthology also includes songs which feature Duane as sideman, such as Wilson Picket’s “Hey Jude” and Boz Scaggs’ “Lend Me a Dime”.SAM_0595

Published in: on October 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Santana (69015) (1971)

SAM_0592REPORT: MAN PLAYS ‘AIR BASS’ WITH SANTANA IN LOCAL BAR

(Columbus, Ohio) – As he listened to the exciting sounds of Santana playing “Everything’s Coming Our Way” on the stereo system at Ohio State University campus bar Inorout, area man Andrew Ricart threw his head back and played vigorous ‘air bass’, mimicking the notes of actual Santana bassist David Brown.

Ricart, who’d downed several shots of Jägermeister by this point, was reportedly pleased with his performance, which culminated in the OSU sophomore straddling two chairs while he aimed his ‘air bass’ in a 360° circumnavigation of the area immediately surrounding the public bar and nodded his head as if to say, ‘Yeah, that’s right.’

“Everyone was diggin’ it, especially the ladies,” he slurrily claimed outside DeSantos Kebabs on Lane Avenue later in the evening as he waited for a veggie gyro. “Oh yeah, I totally nailed it, even that double-time bit [sic] towards the end [of the song].”

Others, however, were quick to point out flaws in Ricart’s act: “He was playing with an ‘air pick’, not his fingers,” complained second year law student, Jon Billson. “How lame is that?”SAM_0593Editor’s Note: I already had a re-issue copy of Santana’s eponymous third Lp (confusingly, the first one was also called Santana; hence this one is often referred to as III or, prosaically, Man with an Outstretched Hand), but got rid of it in favour of this 50p bootfair gatefold edition replacement. It’s a very, very good record.

Published in: on October 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm  Comments (2)  

kode9 + the space ape – “kingstown [vox]” b/w “kingstown [dub]” HYP003 (2005)

The first 10" to feature the space ape; Gordon's previous single was under the pseudonym 'daddi g', swapped presumably to avoid confusion with the similarly named chap from Massive Attack.

The first 10″ to feature the space ape; Gordon’s previous single was under the pseudonym ‘daddi g’, swapped presumably to avoid confusion with the similarly named chap from Massive Attack.

Yesterday comes the news that the space ape, aka daddi g, aka Stephen Samuel Gordon has died. The above 10″ was given to me as a birthday present from my friend Nick, late of this parish, and began (along with DMZ’s “Officer”) a half decade immersion in modern electronic music.

I would come home from work at lunch and crank kode9 + the space ape’s single, “Backward” in particualar as a way of clearing the cobwebs, Gordon’s deep apocalyptic and paranoid intonations paradoxically giving me strength to keep going. RIP.

Published in: on October 3, 2014 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  

The Replacements – “I Will Dare” b/w “20th Century Boy” and “Hey Good Lookin'” (TTR-8440) (1984)

SAM_0589On the precise 30th (!) anniversary of the ‘Mats breakthrough Let It Be, a reminder of what a buck could get you in the used record store bins (specifically Magnolia Thunderpussy) back in the late 80s.SAM_0590The Bolan cover is arguably better than the original, the Hank, much less so.

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Four Tops Story (TMSP 1124) (1974)

SAM_0586Handy, not especially rare double Lp compendium of eight years worth of FT highlights. For a band that perpetrated plenty of filler on those latter M’town albums, not to mention subsequent ABC/Dunhill ones, Story represents good value for money (esp. if you’re only spending a pound as I did). Unlike the Temptations’ roughly contemporary treble disc Anthology, which included inappropriate pop-crossover material like “Ol’ Man River” and “Try To Remember”, there was no room here for Gordy’s “grown-up entertainment” experiments from On Broadway, so misguided dreck like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “The Sound of Music” was sensibly airbrushed from history.SAM_0587It’s interesting to note that most of the post-1967 singles heard on sides 3 and 4 did not follow the barrel-chested, full-throttled pleading style of the band’s initial successes, but trod a more thoughtful path; again, unlike the Temps who went all funky.SAM_0588

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 9:44 am  Leave a Comment  

The Latin Jazz Quintet (UAL 4071) (1961)

SAM_0584The presence here of Coltrane sideman/multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy was enough to secure £1 purchase today of this piece of early Sixties exotica. In fact, Dolphy blowing in a manner suggestive of the free jazz, raises this a cut above your average loungecore pandering (the silly “Cha Cha King” excepted). Highlight: a polyrhythmic romp on Dizzy’s evergreen “Night In Tunisia”.SAM_0585

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 1:46 pm  Comments (2)  

Bruce Springsteen – “Born In the USA” b/w “I’m On Fire”, “Rosalita” and “Johnny Bye-Bye” (TA6342) (1984)

SAM_0473I’m off to the USA tomorrow for a family vacation. I would like to post, as usual, when I’m out there, but I’m not sure of the computer situation. Rest assured, however, that I will indeed be scouring for cheap vinyl product whatever thrifty stores and flea markets southern Massachusetts has to offer.

Incidentally, the 12″ above was purchased from a boot fair in Hythe for 50p; the contentious title track has been remixed (a 7-minute “Freedom Mix” [?!] by 80s post-production moron Arthur Baker) so the drums sound even more egregious than previously and what little subtlety lay in the Viet-Nam-vet-comes-home-desparate story is mown down in completely inappropriate electro stutter; “I’m On Fire” on the other hand, might be might favourite song on that divisive, yet massively popular, Lp.

Published in: on July 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm  Comments (4)  

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 (ICD 9)

SAM_0470High-calibre party music showcasing the Crescent City’s ‘R&B Spectrum’, masterminded by Allan Toussaint and abetted by a crack house band.
SAM_0469Featuring live performances by Toussaint himself along with local legends Irma Thomas, Earl King, Lee Dorsey, Ernie K-Doe, Robert Parker, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Professor Longhair, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 has the feel of a revue.
SAM_0471Interestingly, the performances by King, Dorsey and Parker had to be re-recorded in a N.O. studio due to some technical glitches with the live recordings on the day. It’s possible that sponsors Schlitz (whose flagship beer ['the beer that made Milwaukee famous'] had, by this point, lost a lot of its lustre as a result of some fairly brazen manufacturing costcutting) had ponied up for a 2-album set and so post-production was thus required. Ex++ condish double Lp, only a pound!
SAM_0472

 Notice how I didn’t resort to writing N’Awlins at any point. :-)

Published in: on July 26, 2014 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Burning Spear – Spear Burning (PSCD 033)

SAM_0466SO, LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT, BURNING SPEAR IS, LIKE, ONE GUY? – An Editorial by Your Dad

YOUR DAD

YOUR DAD

I haven’t been so confused since I found out that Pink Floyd was a band: you’re telling me that Burning Spear is one person? Are you sure? I’ve got, like, seven or eight of their albums. It just seems like a weird ‘stage name’, especially for a reggae artist. I mean, don’t they usually go for American tough guys or anthropomorphised rodents?

Okay, say you’re right, how do you explain the photograph of a trio of men of the back of my copy of the Marcus Garvey? It lists their names right there! And it doesn’t say Bob Smith, Ted Jones and Burning Spear, it says “Rupert Willington, Delroy Hines and Winston Rodney”.

Burning Spear. No, it doesn’t sound right as a man’s name. When he shows up at the pub is it like, “Hi, Burning, come sit down and join us” or when he’s picking up his dry cleaning, does the bloke behind the counter say, “Extra starch in the collar Mr Spear, just how you like it”? No, it’s all wrong.

Yes, I know Bunny Wailer’s mother called him Neville Livingston when he was born, but that doesn’t prove your point that Burning Spear is one man’s name. If anything, it weakens your argument. Think about it: if one of those guys was adopting the band’s name for his own, wouldn’t it have made more sense to be known as, say, Rupert Burning-Spear or Delroy Burning-Spear?

Tell you what. If we’re ever at a party and this guy is there and you introduce us, “Burning Spear, dad. Dad, Burning Spear” and he acts like that is, in fact, his moniker, then I’ll believe you. Until then, I say Burning Spear is what the band is called.

Inner tray artwork

Inner tray artwork

Editor’s Note: I got this second-hand for only £3. An excellent Pressure Sounds comp of BS singles and dubs, I’d say it ranks right up there with Spear’s proper albums (which can sound a bit clinical sometimes), with the versions providing contrast to the vocal takes, Rodney’s voice being an expressive but limited instrument. There are a couple of other vocalists involved, too.

Published in: on July 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm  Comments (7)  
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