"Sixeventies" Rock Albums P-R-O-G spells Prog

Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale/A Salty Dog (Fly Toofa 7/8) (1972)

I was really pleased two find this Fly Doubleback compilation (or “Toofa” as the catalogue number would have it) for a number of reasons. Firstly, Procol Harum’s debut and third records have been on “the list” (a sometimes literal, usually Platonic, docket of albums I simply must buy) since I spied 5 ***** reviews for them in the first Rolling Stone Record Guide a few decades ago. Quite why I’ve never managed to get them until now, I don’t know. Secondly, I only paid 99p for them at Oxfam. At Oxfam you say, the same Oxfam that charges £4.99 for good condition George Michael Faith records? The very same and I’ll tell you how it happened. I was in Rochester yesterday picking up a washing machine (Oh! The life I live!) and popped in to the chaz for a quick browse. The selection was wide, well-organised and only slightly overpriced with most stuff selling for between £1 and £4. In a bin marked “New Arrivals” I found the present item without a price tag. I assumed it would be at least £4, but took it up to the counter to get a costing, prepared to take it right back whence it came. It was nearly 5 o’clock on a Friday and the manager, having been consulted by the clerk said, “Is 99p alright?” Yes, it was and I declined a bag and let them keep the penny change.
But was it worth the 99 pennies and the decades-long wait? For sure, and I had a thoroughly pleasant Friday evening finding out. Given the times (1967), Pale is a surprisingly grown-up sounding collision of the Zombies’ minor-keyed somnambulance, Caravan’s prog japery, Traffic’s Brit-Soul Ray Charlesisms, the heavy-lidded surrealism of B. Dylan and the Band’s dual keyboard roots reverence, even as nothing quite measures up to the title track. The mono edition featured here does have some peculiar audio drop outs, as if the technology couldn’t quite capture what this musically muscular band were playing and simply got overloaded. Salty Dog (1969) is more ambitious, more consistent and better produced. Not totally without the tweeness that plagued English musicians immediately before and after (and during, obviously) the so-called Summer of Love, these almost entirely mid-paced Lps represent early, definitive examples of “sixeventies” rock in exegesis.

The label’s pretty cool looking too. Set up as a production company, Fly would lease their product to various labels then re-release back catalogue items capitalising on, say, Deram’s hard promotion work of a few years previous, as happened here when this re-issue outperformed the band’s contemporary live record in the UK album charts.
Albums Soul

Aretha Franklin – Aretha Arrives (Atlantic 587085) (1967)


Having purchased this slab of stone classic 60s soul for a quid at the Wincheap Bootfair, I wondered to myself, “Could I be a soul man?” I certainly like the music and the style, so it’s a definite possibility. Are any Thrifty Vinyl readers Soul Men or Queens of Soul? But how to find out? A series of questions, then, to determine…are you a soul man/queen of soul (delete as appropriate).

1.  Have you sung in church since you “was knee-high to a grasshopper”?

2.  Is your father a Reverend or have you become a reverend having renounced previous wicked ways?

3.  Has a jealous lover poured hot grits over your naked prostrate body while you were having a bath?

4.  Have you ever eaten grits?

5.  Do you know what grits are?

6.  Have you ever been obliged to enter the building in which you were performing through the service entrance (for racist reasons, not just to avoid fans)?

7.  Is your skin the color of mochachino or darker before using Fake Bake or a visit to the tanning salon?

8.  Do you pronounce the word “Chitlins” or “Chitterlings”?

9.  Have you ever used a “Chitlin’ Circuit” to repair your car’s electrics?

10.  Has a 60s rock god guitarist, frequently capable of overplaying, performed tastefully and beautifully on one of your records?

11.  Are your producers Jewish atheists?

12.  Is there a significant discrepancy between the amount of pure love and devotion you express in song and the number of wives/husbands you’ve had/cheated on?

13.  Do you have a trademark grunt or squeal?

14.  Did your cover of an uptempo Beatles or Stones song feature a parping horn section?

15.  As the 70s progressed, did you lose your touch commercially, resulting in a series of increasingly desperate makeovers designed (but failing) to make you seem relevant, culminating in endless “comeback” albums which were either condescendingly hailed as a “return to form” or unmercifully derided as a “pale imitations of past glories”, finally settling in for popular, but artistically bankrupt duet albums, American songbook covers albums or appearances on other people’s duet albums.

16.  At this point in history, do you have more Best of compilations than actual studio albums?

17.  Does your lavish, career-spanning CD box-set have a) Soul Man or Queen of Soul somewhere in its title or subtitle; b) discs 4, 5 and 6 that no-one listens to; c) an Lp-sized booklet featuring a slavering essay by a former Rolling Stone editor, an incomprehensible introduction by a white 60s rock legend and an anally retentive discography?

18.  Do a large number of the current crop of annoying pint-sized TV talent show poppets cite you as a “huge influence” on their soul-less histrionic caturwauling?

So, how did you do? Alas, I failed and am only a vacuous pop star. Still, at least I didn’t shoot my wife causing my musical partner to never speak to me again though we still perform together.

Albums Hip Hop

Neneh Cherry – Raw Like Sushi (Circa 8)(1989)

LAST NIGHT A RECORD CHANGED MY LIFE                     This week veteran television actor Richard Wilson evinces mad love for Neneh Cherry’s debut Lp

 By Richard Wilson

“I don’t believe it!”

That was my weekly jibber-jabber on TV medical drama One Grave Foot. But I tell you what you best be believin’ is the serious props I be givin’ Raw Like Sushi. Back in the day, when me and the rest of the Wild Bunch crew was all hangin’ at the Dug Out off Park Row near Clifton, you know, jus’ buggin’, gettin’ hassles by Babylon for smokin’ skunk and sellin’ bones to the students, we all had our musics that we liked. I was the reggae kid, Mushroom [Adrian Vowels] was down with the beats, Nellee [Hooper] was like the number one B-Boy, G [Grant Marshall] well knew his reggae, the cats from Portishead listened to fusion and shit, Miles [Johnson] liked all kinds, jazz, soul, funk, hip hop, you name it and Tricky Kid be tuggin’ on everyone shirtsleeves, stoned, askin’ for a riddim to voice.

We was just dossers, really, but Neneh had had a lickle taste of the spotlight in Run Rip + Panic, so when she asked me and Miles out to Japan for some fashion show she was doin’ with some dudes from Face magazine, we thought, you know, “Why not?” When we got there, we was all too cool for school and stood around behind the decks, frownin’, arms folded, shades on (mainly to hide our red eye ‘cos of the weed–ha, ha!). Neneh was like: “Y’all be buggin’ in some kinda Bison Posture.” And I say, “Girl, this more like a Buffalo Stance,” and damn if she didn’t make up a hit rekkid right there.

When her album hit, we be like, man, the Bristol sound be goin’ outernational!  3D [Robert Del Naja] and Mushroom helped out and suddenly them and Nellee be hot property. The whole scene changed. Crazy times. Nowadays, it sound pretty tame, you know, like Don fuckin’ Henley “Boys In Summer” or some old shit, an’ her flow ain’t all that, but back then we thought it was, like, cuttin’ edge.

“I don’t believe it!” is what you say when I tell you I used to fancy Miss Cherry. Yeah, I know I be queer as them three pound note, but that one picture on the back of the Sushi album where  you see the line of hair creepin’ out the top of her leather skirt goin’ up to her belly button, man, that do something to me. She about the only one that could have turned me into a breeder.

Next week Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper explains how Glenn Campbell’s Gentle On My Mind album simply rocked her world.

"Sixeventies" Rock Albums P-R-O-G spells Prog

Hawkwind – Hall of the Mountain Grill (UAG 29672) (1974)


(Columbus, Ohio)  After listening to Hall of the Mountain Grill by Hawkwind, local hippie and part-time North campus laundromat employee Noah “Tokes” Tockington has claimed that the British progressive rock group conceptualised, composed, produced and performed their 1974 Edvard Grieg referencing fourth studio album under the influence of the powerful hallucinogenic drug Lysergic Acid Diethylamide.

“Oh yeah,” elaborated the lank haired and tie-dye shirted Tockington, “the ‘Wind must have totally been on acid when they did that Mountain record.”

Tockington reported his fairly obvious statement, which is bound to create little stir among the music community, subsequent to acquiring the album because the Barney Bubbles sleeve “looks like some freaky 1930s spaceship crash landed in Lake Erie” for “around a buck and a half” at a Columbus thrift store. He remains unsure about precisely which thrift store it was as he was “tripping [his] nuts off” at the time of purchase.

“Whoa!” he added appreciatively, while positively reeking of patchouli.

“And I’m sure I’ve seen that the back cover somewhere before.”

Mountain Grill's back cover by artist David Hardy

Local music writer Clifford Snoats concurred only insofar as Hawkwind “sounded like ‘Roxy Music meets Pretty Things on acid,'” but that “it would be presumptuous to say they were actually on LSD-25 unless you’d tripped with them [while they were making the album].”

Snoats went on and on, “While the extensive use of Mellotron and group improvisation featured on Mountain Grill is certainly a hallmark of music influenced by and created to enhance a psychoactive drug experience, the aggressive power chords on songs like ‘Psychedelic Warlords’ and ‘Lost Johnny’ are more suggestive of amphetamine use rather than entheogens.”

Meanwhile, “Tokes”, suddenly distracted by the oldies AM radio crackling in the background at the laundromat, made a further revelation: “Man, that Andy Williams was on acid when he did that ‘boys watch the girls watch the boys watch the girls go by’ song. What a mind-fuck!”

Albums Jazz Space Age Bachelor Pad

Terry Snyder and the All Stars – Persuasive Percussion Volume 2 (Command/La Voix de son Maitre FCLP 75008) (1960)

When I was 13 I bought Persuasive Percussion (1959) at the Mount Vernon Goodwill Store. I liked the heavy cardboard laminated gatefold cover (by Josef Albers, no less) and even more I liked the l’air distingue of the idea of what I imagined it to be: This is debonaire, or so I thought, and I wanted to buy into it (for 25 cents). In fact, I never quite warmed to the Lp which I recall as too easy listening for a teenager, even one with pretensions of sophistication. At some point I lost the record, though still pined for its cover and 50s elegance, so I snapped a VG cond. Volume 2 (cover, after Albers, by Barbara Jean Brown) post-haste when spotted today at the Hospice chaz in the Westgate area of Canterbury.

If Esquivel is a ten on the kooky scale, Terry & co. fall in the middle range with most of the ga-ga-ness coming in the form of some virtuosic xylophone and percussion (by Snyder himself), not electronics. I can imagine this playing in the background of a Flintstones episode in which Barney goes to a night club to buy reefer.

Please to note this a French issue (through French HMV) with a thin matte finish sleeve, not the heavy-duty America laminated gatefold jobbie.

Albums Classic Rock Compilations flexi

Dick Clark – 20 Years of Rock n’ Roll (Buddah 0798) (1973)

VOL. 4 OF THE THRIFTY VINYL ARCHIVE SERIES“In the 1950’s people used to ask me, ‘How long can Rock last–‘ In the 1970’s Rock rolls on….” Dick Clark

So said the self-styled world’s oldest living teen-ager (now deceased) and erstwhile host of long-running music show American Bandstand on the back sleeve of this superb double album compilation.  20 Years of Rock n’ Roll‘s simple, but effective concept is to cherry-pick one or two stone classics from each year (from ’52 to ’72) and present them chronologically. There’s no Chuck/Beatles/Stones/Motown/ Elvis/Stooges, nor is this a Nuggest-style specialist excavation; this is a populist, US AM radio-friendly set featuring representative examples of the Rock style during the genre’s first two decades. See the track list for yourselves here if you don’t believe me.

20 Years formed the backbone of my record collection at a time when the music library was in single digits, only accumulated at a rate of one or two albums every 12 months and I was too young to know what “Electronically Reproduced For Stereo” meant. Music choice was not so freely available back in the day to tyrannize and overwhelm, so this album was a handy, perfectly-judged godsend; truly, a happy education.

I still like every single song here and listen to the record every couple of years. Thanks, Dick.

Also included in the package (which I thrifted from Mount Vernon, Ohio’s Goodwill store over three and a half decades ago for 50 cents), is a 12cm x 12cm cardboard flexi-disc of Dick’s “off-the-cuff” showbizzy reminiscences called “Inside Stories”. As if. It is, unsurprisingly, too cheesy by half and there’s something unsettling about the hole in the middle of Clark’s forehead.

7 inchers Outernational Uncategorized

Nina and Frederik (Columbia SEG 7926) (1960)


It’s okay. They’re going. The storm has passed.

12 inchers Compilations New Wave Punk

Pere Ubu – Datapanik in the Year Zero (Radar RDR1) (1978)


My band opened a show for Pere Ubu in Chicago on April 8, 1994. We heard on the drive from Columbus that Kurt Cobain was dead and we dedicated the show to him. A futile gesture, perhaps, but it felt like a good thing to do.

We also had the privilege of covering a latter-period Ubu single, “Kathleen”, for an all-Ohio double cd tribute album called Ubu Dance Party.

Datapanik was also the name of an indie/punk label run by friends from Columbus.

This compilation ep of some of the band’s early singles came from the Etchinghill Bootfair and cost me a pound. Good prog/proto-new wave, a missing link of sorts.

Albums Funk Soul

Labelle – Phoenix (Epic EPC 69167) (1975)

Yes! A couple of Meters among the riddim section, Allan Toussaint behind the producer’s desk and Labelle in front of the mics–what could go wrong?

Well, mainly an overly dramatic, quasi-mystical, mini-suite approach to performance, songwriting and arrangement that has more in common with notionally “hip” 70s musicals like Godspell than the wonderful, minimal funk and soul associated with the Meters, Toussaint’s previous work or, indeed, “Lady Marmalade”. Admirable for its ambition, anathema for its lack of perspective–most of the credit/blame belongs to Nona Hendrix who wrote 80% of the songs here.

Albums Compilations Soul

Daryl Hall and John Oates – No Goodbyes (Atlantic K50347) (1977)

Hello?….Oh, nuthin’ I’m just hanging out on the tinted cover of a Hall and Oats record looking vaguely 1920s or something….It’s funny, you’d never know it was a greatest hits album from the cover, I mean it doesn’t say All The Hits or anything and No Goodbyes certainly isn’t suggestive of a compilation….No, it’s not one of those shitty budget label before-they-were-famous collections….Well, actually there’s a see-through “The Best of Hall & Oates” sticker, but even that’s kinda misleading given they’re on RCA now and this record only has stuff from ’72 to ’76….something like, I don’t know, a subtitle The Atlantic Years might have been helpful….But I expect Atlantic are trying to sucker recent converts, not that it’s a bad record….Mmm-mmm….There’s three each from War Babies and Abandoned Luncheonette, one from Whole Oates and three previously unreleased songs recorded in 1973 with Arif Mardin….Oh, you know, like Todd without all the bullshit….Yeah, it’s more Spinners* than you’d expect with a few singer-songwriter moves….yeah, it probably was Oates, ha, ha….well, for one thing, there are several songs that use the word “lady”….yeah, I know, but it is the 70s….Of course I can introduce you, but watch out, John will offer a “hilarious” mustache ride….well, he acts like it’s a joke, but I think he’s serious….mmm-kay….alright….mmm-bye.

*They seem to be cropping up a lot lately.