I really did think this was going to be one of those albums that I hated myself for liking.
It turns out I hate it.
Of course, it was sheer morbid curiosity, coupled with a weakness for ’70s cheese and brand-exploitation that compelled me to shell-out on this little MFP ‘beauty’. It’s from 1974, and features Denny Wright and the Hustlers murdering glam-stomp classics like Suzi Quatro’s “Can The Can” and Slade’s “Gudbuy T’Jane” although they sound far more confident when tackling the latin repertoire, and the instrumental version of “Something” is, for some inexplicable reason, quite listenable. And it really is ‘non stop’, no gaps between songs..except the bit in the middle where you have to turn the record over, naturally.
And if the sleeve design looks a bit familiar, its because it was pasted-up by the same chap, one David Wharlin. When will Dave be acknowledged for his distinctive contribution to the world of ’70s vinyl sleeve design..?
More velvety-smooth vocal latin vibes, from Enoch Light’s Command label, which I get the impression was one of the quintessential labels for stereophonic easy listening in the States, but not as well-known over here and consequently you don’t see too many of them in English bins, even when they’re UK Pye pressings like this one.
The attention to detail is sumptous, with ‘technical data’ and a booklet containing detailed recording notes, including Ray Charles’ own comments about the arrangements.
The inner sleeve also treats us to an advertisement for Pye’s Achoic Box…
“…with it’s six powerful speakers facing sideways instead of forwards it produces six feet of stereo separation. These speakers, in conjunction with solid state electronics, allow the Achoic Box to exploit a room’s acoustic potentialities as they have never been exploited before. Here, with all its full bodied richness and astonishing realism, is Stereo in Depth”.
Fabulous bossa vibes from the great Sergio Mendes and his group, produced by Herb Alpert on A&M. Don’t be misled by the ’77’ in the group title, this is prime late-sixties material, vinyl in perfect condition – mine for a measly quid at the local branch of Scope. I get my bossa freak on, and someone, somewhere, with cerebral palsy, will reap the benefits of my purchase. Now that’s the sort of economics I can get with.
So here we have the legendary Count Basie and his Orchestra having a pop at the Lennon-McCartney songbook (as it stood in 1966), released on that quintessential British label Music For Pleasure. I guess even jazz legends needed to do these things to pay the bills sometimes.
What I like about these big band renditions is the way they sound as though Basie had never actually heard the originals. They sound completely unrelated, as though Basie (and arranger Chico O’Farrill) worked from the written score and just re-imagined how those notes and chords were meant to be organised. The only song that sounds even vaguely faithful to the original idea is “Yesterday”, which is also the only track to feature vocals, care of Bill Henderson.
Absolutely nothing to do with Rave music; this budget compilation from the little-known Lotus Records (year unspecified – I’m guessing late ’70s), features ’18 loving tracks’ from the likes of Barry White, Billy Paul, Deniece Williams, Lou Rawls (remember “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine”?), Minnie Ripperton and The Floaters (what a great name!). I already had all the best tracks elsewhere, but was basically sold on the sleeve, for which I make no apologies…
A few years ago, a friend of mine was having a post-gig chat with Alex Chilton. Careful not to mention slavish admiration of Big Star, my friend asked the recently deceased curmudgeon what he was listening to. “Mostly classical music,” came a shrugging reply. At the time, I was vaguely disappointed and slightly un-nerved that Chilton had turned his back on the pop and gone all boring and old.
Nowadays, I can see where he was coming from. Of course, in my charity shop/boot fair travels, I see hundreds of classical LPs with cool covers, classical box sets for a pound, etc. etc. , all ripe for investigation.
But that time hasn’t come yet and I’m still collecting crap like this. On the right is Robert Stigwood’s first foray into Beatle-milking product which I purchased at Hythe’s Cancer Research. To be honest, I haven’t yet had the heart to listen to Barbara Dickson making a hash of rock’s best catalogue. Great title, though.
As for the other piece…well let’s just say there’s a special place in Hindi Hell reserved for people who retitle their reissues leading innocent music consumers into thinking they’re buying something they don’t already own. In this case, Goddess of Fortune is simply a Spiritual Sky reissue of Apple’s Radha Krsna Temple album (which I got about 15 years ago at a Columbus, Ohio thrift store for fiddy cent), though nowhere on the sleeve does it mention this. The presence of George Harrison as producer was enough to get me to part with £2.99 (!) for a little spiritual enlightenment. Humbug.
Been sort of neglecting posting here for too long – plus I have a rather obscene amount of new vinyl that are accumulating in piles all over the house – leading to threats of marital disharmony – but heck – that is sort of normal round here !!
Grabbed the above classic piece of history this afternoon in car-boot land – The reocrd features Astronaut “John Glenn” in “Friendship 7” (the name of the Mercury space capsule he flew in) This took place on Pad 14 in Cape Canaveral on February 20th 1962.
Trust me on this – your record collection is a happier thing when it contains items such as these !!
Back in the 1970s, the music industry was rife with racketeering. One sharp practice was to produce and ship a greater number of a given album than that album was probably going to sell and allowing them to boast of “shipping platinum (leading one wag to comment that Casablanca’s releases “shipped gold and returned platinum.”) This sort of thing lead to a lot of records in the cut-out bins of record stores. Record companies liked cut-outs becuase they are typically sold to retailers as non-returnable items; and since they were sold as cheaper promotional pieces, recording artists were usually shafted out of full royalties from cut-outs.
I liked them because I got the UK fold-out version of E. Costello’s Armed Forces at my local Big N department store for $2.99.
Anyway, I bring this up as the two 50p boot fair albums above were US cut-outs (as was the Sly Stone record below) released in 1979, and still in plastic. While I don’t suggest that they were part of the quasi-legal whoop-di-do typical of their time, it wouldn’t surprise me.
Songs of Love by Anita Ward is first up. To be honest, hopes were not terribly high. True, “Ring My Bell” is a stone classic, all groove and subtle use of early Syndrums, but I worried about Anita’s voice: it’s not a strong instrument and verges on the helium side of Alvin and the Chipmunks. In the event, side one was surprisingly good with side two, despite the aforementioned, and still awesome, “Bell”, let down with three ballads beyond Ward’s sub-Diana Ross reach. Throughout, bass and drums = in the pocket.
Betty Wright’s Travelin’ In the Wright Circle (whatever that means) is another solid disco record, though she seems a tad miffed to be ogliged to wear the industry standard “Egyptian/Martian/Disco Queen” outfit (not slit and fitted with lapis lazuli encrusted control top). It is more grandly conceived than Ring My Bell, perhaps as it was autuered by the powerfully-voiced Wright herself, who not only wrote/co-wrote most of the songs she produced as well. Here, too, the playing is tighter than an ant’s ass, if sometimes overwhelmed by strings/horns.
Where did all these incredible players come from? Where did they go?
Further to discussion on TK Records here, both the above were distributed by TK, as evidenced by the inner sleeve, but don’t include any members of the Sunshine Band.