Albums Jazz

The Ramsey Lewis Trio – The In Crowd (1965) (Argo LP-757) and Barefoot Sunday Blues (1963) (Argo LP-723)

A great day for piano trio jazz at Hythe’s British Heart Foundation, for not only did I pick up the two Lps of Mod/Northern Soul favourite Ramsey Lewis listed in the title, but I also had Erroll Garner Trio’s The Most Happy Piano (CBS/Realm RM 52065) (1958) and Oscar Peterson Trio’s Live From Chicago (Verve V-8420) (1961). A pound a pop.

These are all on the populist end of the jazz spectrum and betray far more desire to entertain than contemporary avant-garde-ites would ever countenance–the accent is on keeping punters drinking and dancing. Of the lot, the nod goes the Barefoot album, which adds a hint of gospel to its R&B groove and whose song selection avoids the supper club leanings of the Garner and Peterson sets.

Albums Reggae

Dillinger – Bionic Dread (Black Swan ILPS 9455)

Dillinger’s second Lp (1976) to ride Jo Jo Hookim’s dubwise versions after the more famous CB 200. This is a wicked set, in terms of both the tough Channel 1 riddims (several of which the Mighty Diamonds and the Wailing Souls had previously cut definitive harmony group vocal versions, e.g. “They Never Loved Poor Marcus”, “Things and Time”, et. al) and the toasting, which deals with matters dread inna style reminiscent of Big Youth.  The vinyl is in very good condition, so the only piece of bad news concerns the cover which was cut to reveal the label, perhaps for DJing purposes; a real shame because this is a rare example of absolute excellence in reggae cover art.

Albums Uncategorized

Great American Documents – Henry Fonda, Helen Hayes, James Earl Jones and Orson Welles (Columbia-USA 1776)

My abiding memory of American’s Bicentennial is of the patriotically-themed house number stencils, e.g. the Liberty Bell, with which, for a fee, a local painter/entrepreneur decorated Mount Vernon, Ohio’s front steps and curbs.  You can probably still see a few.

On this related still-in-plastic thrift store album, stentorian American Greats of the silver screen give voice to defining written artefacts of the American Experiment in a joyful, triumphant (or jingoistic, depending on your point of view) celebration of the 200th anniversary of the USA’s founding. Close mic’d radio show-style with little echo and no accompaniment, this ostensibly didactic tool is actually provocative and entertaining.

Would that my country had more consistently, especially lately, lived up to these inspirational and lofty, yet wholly reasonable, ideals.  But that’s for another kind of blog.

Albums Folk Outernational

Jose Feliciano – Feliciano! (RCA SF 7946)

Gorgeous original stereo copy of the first English language Lp by the Puerto Rican virtuoso guitarist. Purchased at one of my favourite chaz shops in Sandwich–they recently moved their records to waist height for ease of browsing. With a memorable, iconic sleeve, Feliciano! includes the hit cover of the Doors’ “Light My Fire” which provided an almost exact template for Will Young’s recent version. Their vocal timbres are not dissimilar. Never knowingly undersung, Feliciano spices his pleasant, unlikely pop covers with an energetic flamenco make-over, adding lush strings to endear him to AM radio fans.

Includes three Lennon-McCartney covers, two of which are instrumental.

Albums Soundtracks Uncategorized

The Naked Civil Servant – An Evening With Quentin Crisp (DRG S2L 5188)

What? You paid five quid at a charity shop for this double Lp soundtrack to Crisp’s Off-off-Broadway monologue featuring the old dear’s musings on life, liberty and the pursuit of fabulousness on the first disc and an audience Q&A on the second? Surely, that’s a Thrifty Vinyl all-time high.

Yes. Because sometimes, darling, I’m worth it.

For your delectation, I’ve reproduced the Englishman in New York’s third-person, autobiographical liner notes, which are as amusing as any I’ve read.*

*I recommend the magnifying facility for maximum enjoyment.

Albums Classical

“Sports et Divertissements” Piano Music of Erik Satie – Aldo Ciccolini (HMV Greensleeves)

This again is not made up of the ur-Windham Hill sentimentalismes for which Satie is so justly acclaimed as a cult figure these days, rather, more traditional sounding nocturnes and sonatas. Wrapped in an ersatz Terry Gilliam sleeve, this 1982 double Lp compilation on EMI’s classical own brand HMV Greensleeves label contains piano pieces stretching over roughly 30 years of the great man’s career recorded by Aldo Ciccolini between 1964 and 1971.
You must be doing something right if Pablo Picasso does you a caricature.

Brian Wilson – If Everybody Had An Ocean

This is one I forgot to post from last summer, picked up at a boot fair near St. Michael’s Mount. What, you have every Brian Wilson album and bootleg and don’t recognise this? Ha! That is because I have deceived you–it is not an Lp at all but the catalogue and assorted goodies from the Tate Gallery, St. Ives exhibition of multi-media artwork mining the psychologically rich seam of the Beach Boys’ California Dream and its attendant mental illness, cleverly housed in an Lp cover and inner sleeve.

Truly, I am not a real prince, for no man of royal blood would stoop to such base treachery.


Albums Reggae

Black Uhuru – Red

At least someone's happy they made a record.
At least someone’s happy they made a record.

For all my admiration of Black Uhuru’s The Dub Factor (bought from Catapilla Records in Exeter, it was the first non-Marley reggae record [actually a pirate cassette] I owned), I never followed it up apart from picking up the earlier, so-so Black Sounds of Freedom on Greensleeves till Cat Protection in Tenterden hacked this up for me. Factor contains versions of songs from Uhuru’s TAXI Productions albums Chill Out and Red and is how I’m used to hearing “Youth of Eglington”, “Sponji Reggae”, etc.–effectively, it’s how I thought they sounded–so it was weird hearing the songs with melodies still intact prior to their deconstruction.  In fact, the songs are pretty skeletal to begin with; the combination of Sly & Robbie’s ghostly riddims and the interplay of the three Uhuru vocalists is unique, fresh sounding and quite haunting.

Albums Compilations

Gary Glitter – The Leader

Shorn of its creator’s infamy, this 14-track collection of stripped down, slap-backed percussion heavy re-imagined rock & roll evinces a certain lunk-headed charm, which only fails when he attempts to carry the tune when camping it up (e.g. “Lonely Boy” and “Oh Yes! You’re Beautiful”). Not as sci-fi as Bowie, as gorgeous as Bolin or as tuneful as Slade, the erstwhile Paul Francis Gadd and producer Mike Leander made as many records as they could before, as amply evidenced on The Leader, wearing the joke painfully thin. All of the big hits are included on this 80s Best Of.

Albums Jazz Outernational

Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim (Reprise Mono RLP 1021)

Not a big fan of “Ol’ Blue Eyes” (or “Ol’ Denture Breath,” as my mother waggishly refers to him), but this is a really tender record where the conversational tic of Frank’s singing finds a less oppressive way of expressing itself. The sophistication of the melodies, the urbanity of the lyrics (mostly by Jobim) and the gentle swing of this late strike (1967) in the Bossa Nova sweepstakes suits Sinatra’s pretensions without succumbing to them as so much of the bully-boy Capitol stuff does.

Like I say, not a big fan.

But this I like, even when it goes a bit creepy as the inevitable Ipanema girl passes seaward, not seeing, as we do, the bald-pated mafioso grunting “ahhhh!” as he greedily eyes her swaying posterior.

Note the early entry in the vanity label race.