Cross Country (SD 7024) (1973)

SAM_0772Post-sixties folk-rock on ATCO heavily indebted to CSN. Only been through side one, but it’s not nearly as weedily soft-rock as I’d feared.SAM_0773

There’s a startlingly delicate take on ‘In the Midnight Hour’ which seems to typify Cross Country’s approach: begin with gentle finger picking, add whispy three-part harmony, then gradually build the instrumentation to a mellow climax. It’s generally effective, and in a way designed not to inflict any harshness on the THC-enhanced brain.

Apart from session guys Hugh McCracken and Eric Weissberg, I didn’t recognise any of the participants in Cross Country.SAM_0770

Vintage inner bags for this US edition of the trio’s lone Lp, a gatefold cover no less.


This cost an incredible £2 in Hythe yesterday.

Published in: on October 18, 2015 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Sisters Sledge – Circle of Love (K50097) (1975)

SAM_0762Since Messers Edwards and Rodgers prized a cool, almost mechanical vocal approach, the Sisters’ later, very popular Chic Organization-produced Lps, effectively disguised what fabulous soul singers they were. Featuring surprisingly tough music and, given their tender ages, remarkably mature singing, the Sledges’ strong, well-programmed début seems to have had a lot of care and attention lavished on it. Touches of Philly Soul colour proceedings to dramatic effect. If early period soul-disco is your thing, buy with confidence–What a great record!SAM_0763From the same pound-a-piece batch as the Eno below.

Published in: on September 28, 2015 at 8:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Music For Films III (LAND04) (1987)

SAM_0761As I listen, I sense some of the same icy grandeur of Eno and Lanois’ earlier ambient gem Apollo and Bowie’s Low; however, technology had moved on from the previous work and the feel is somehow less resonant, less moving. Enjoyable nonetheless (especially the Satie touches) and only a pound from Hythe chaz.

Published in: on September 26, 2015 at 6:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thelonious Monk – ‘Hankensack’ b/w ‘Bye-Ya’ (AAG 172) (1963)

SAM_0758Monk revisits a pair of classics adding a more pronounced R&B flavour to this relatively late single, uncoupled from the Monk’s Dream Lp, purchased from Age Concern in Folkestone for a quid.

Published in: on September 18, 2015 at 11:58 am  Leave a Comment  

The Attractions – Mad About the Wrong Boy (XXLP8)/Steve Nieve – Theme Music From the Film ‘Outline of a Hairdo’ (COMB1) (1980)

SAM_0751Graphic designer Barney Bubbles runs amok on this ‘solo’ Lp by Elvis Costello’s Attractions. Would that such an exceptionally weak ‘new wave’ record merited our Colin’s over-the-top efforts. Simply put, it’s as poorly sung and written an album as anyone with as much talent as the Attraction possess that you’re likely to hear–truly, the band’s abilities lie elsewhere. SAM_0750An overload of visual japes and absurdity abound.SAM_0752Kookiness and kitsch in ample portions.SAM_0754Steve Nieve assembles a phalanx of keyboards, enough to gag Rick Wakeman, for this instrumental faux soundtrack ep included with the (already generously packed 16 track) album. Fans of EC’s ‘Shot With His Own Gun’ et al. will recognise Nieve’s opulent Romantic style; he never met a glissando he didn’t like. Note that Bubbles appropriates the pianist’s image from the near-contemporary Get Happy!!!SAM_0755
SAM_0753Without vocals to distract, the ep is the slightly better bet.

But for fans of both Bubbles’ work and of paying £1 for their records in Folkestone, this package will do nicely.

Published in: on September 13, 2015 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Prince Asbo writes…

bbsOver the years, I’ve unsuccessfully submitted one letter and two ‘Profanisaurus’ definitions to VIZ comic. Finally, I hit paydirt with the above query (slighlty edited for delicate eyes), which features in the September 2015 edition [no. 248].

It just goes to show, children, if you set your mind to it, dreams really can come true.

Published in: on August 15, 2015 at 11:46 am  Comments (2)  

John Wetton – Caught In the Crossfire (EGLP 107) (1980)

SAM_0744Archetypal prog journeyman and go-to bassist (Roxy, Crimson, Asia, etc.), Wetton sings in an engaging tenor croon, which he puts to good, if inconsequential, use here. As its title and treated monochromatic Hipgnosis sleeve* suggests, Crossfire trades in the taut guitar-led ‘energy’ of the late 70s/early 80s, which means it’s often fast with little conspicuous virtuosity, trots out vaguely edgy anti-romantic lyrics and features slightly menacing keyboard four-beat crochets and angry barre chord riffs muffled by the player’s right hand. It’s funny, for a musician so steeped in the British progressive rock movement, Crossfire could be the product of Donnie Iris, Sniff ‘n’ the Tears or any number of enjoyable pop bands riding the coattails of the New Wave. Indeed, this very commecial sounding record might have been a hit, but, without one absolute killer, like say ‘Heat of the Moment’, it’s merely likable proficiency, though ‘Cold Is the Night’ possesses some genuine grandeur. One pound yesterday from a Hythe charity shop. SAM_0745*So what is up with that cover? In keeping with the misogyny of the times, it looks like our forlorn hero is ‘caught in the crossfire’ of some sort of bitch-fest between his icy wife and spoilt daughter. Women, eh?

Published in: on July 31, 2015 at 7:55 am  Comments (2)  

Chicago – Chicago IX – Chicago’s Greatest Hits (CBS 69222) (1975)

SAM_0743As refreshing as an ice-cream on a sunny day (with about as much nutritional value), Chicago’s Greatest Hits takes late-period Beatles pop innovation to a warm, post-hippy, soft rock conclusion: wistful “Getting Better” existentialism (“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”); “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” ponderousness (“25 or 6 to 4”); blissed-out, blue-eyed soul à la “Got To Get You Into My Life” (“Make Me Smile”); the crooked smile descending chromatics and sunshine psychedelic observations of “You Won’t See Me” and “Penny Lane” respectively (“Saturday In the Park”); “Because”-style icy harmonic lushness (“Wishing You Were Here”); etc, etc. That all of the above are lyrically banal matters little.

Despite spanning six years, as many albums and featuring three different lead singers, the often horn-driven Chicago IX compilation serves the band well and stands as a satisfying, summery listen in its own right.SAM_0742

Co-incidentally, I’d been moved to covetousness re Chicago on hearing an excerpt of “25 or 6 to 4″ on Family Guy only last week. When this popped up at a Tenterden chaz for the unholy sum of £3 Saturday just gone, I took it as a sign, threw thriftiness to the four winds and purchased it forthwith. The cover pastiches the sentimental American illustrative realism of the Saturday Evening Post‘s Norman Rockwell. Quite appropriate, really.

Published in: on July 29, 2015 at 1:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sheila & B.Devotion – ‘Spacer’ b/w ‘Don’t Go’ (CAR128T) (1979)

SAM_0741I don’t usually go for faceless 70s Eurodisco. But this particular piece of blankly sung Gallic nonsense (“He’s a spacer/he’s a star chaser”) was ‘written, arranged and conducted by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers’, so that changes everything. Coming towards the end of the pair’s purple patch and therefore not as muscular or catchy as the very best of Chic Organization productions (the Guardian, nonetheless, placed the b-side among the top 10 Edwards/Rogers chunes), this is still very recognisably Chic-y and, for one pound to the charity shop in Hythe this afternoon, represents good value for money.

NB: Check out the ’12 inches [sic] Single’ notice in the lower right hand corner.

Published in: on July 23, 2015 at 4:04 pm  Comments (5)  

Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die (UAS 5504) (1970)

SAM_0737STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN!                                                   Music Fans Warned to Beware of Bad Traffic-Related Pun Headlines

(London) – Popular music aficianados were today advised to avoid all contact with cheap, ill-conceived puns in headlines relating to the “Sixeventies” rock group, Traffic. Public health officials say that articles with titles like, ‘Green Light for Traffic’ or ‘Traffic Stops In [Local Town]’ should remain unread, their authors publicly shamed. According to experts, the fact the band itself called one of its live albums Traffic On the Road is no excuse. SAM_0739Nice gatefold on this US edition, an inexpensive souvenir of the Family Asbo’s recent US jaunt. Famously beginning life as a Steve Winwod solo album, John Barleycorn sets up the template for future Traffic Lps, more folky, proggy and jazzy.

Published in: on July 8, 2015 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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