Albums Funk

Ohio Players – Fire (1974)

Perhaps the more visually literate Thrifty Vinyl readers can explain what, if any, symbolism is implied by this image on the cover of the Ohio Players Fire Lp of a wet, naked woman is sensuously grasping and thrusting upwards a long, steamy fireman’s hose.

Albums Funk

Rufus Featuring Chaka Kahn – Rufusized (1974)

A deft combo of pop, funk and rock to satisfy even the most critical of Heart FM’s Saturday night Club Classics listeners.

More hot Norman Seeff action
Albums Classic Rock

The Rolling Stones – Dirty Work (1986)

Following on from 60s Stones 45 rpm glories, I was reminded of this absolute dog of an Lp from the 80s for which, out of perversity I guess, I still retain a smidgen of affection.

First of all, there’s that ghastly day-glo/mullets pervading cover, surely the Stones’ worst. Special face-palm mention must go to the lead singer’s awkwardly craning pose and Woody’s very silly socks. And look, poor Charlie’s about to be junk sick!

With half these songs interchangeable punky rave-ups and almost all of them burdened with hollow macho posturing, I’m supposing this was meant as a return to the Stones rockist roots after a decade of flirting with disco. But Dirty Work is filled with astonishingly undistinguished song-craft, ill-served by Jagger’s alarmingly tuneless growling, that no ratcheting up of the BPMs can disguise. Singles “One Hit” and “Harlem Shuffle” more or less succeed, and the album is eventually put to bed with one of the few decent tracks, Keith’s last-one-barely-standing piano ballad “Sleep Tonight”, which lurches along amiably red-eyed and lopsidedly grinning. In marked contrast to Mick’s annoying bark and solo aspirations, Keith’s perpetual typecasting as a careworn party animal/bandmate served to permanently solidify his status as everyone’s favorite Stone around this time. Fairly adventurous production-wise is a dubbed-up Keith-led cover of Half Pint’s “Winsome”, which the band prosaically (but logically) retitled “Too Rude”.

Magnify to read National Lampoon‘s Mark Marek’s un-PC (and not very funny) comic entitled “Dirty Work Out” from the inner sleeve which, erm, makes light of obesity.

Maybe the most interesting thing about Dirty Work: Check out the inside of the cover–it’s purply pink!

I bought Dirty Work on cassette when it came out, so I pretty much knew what I was getting in to when I got this one recently from a chaz in Whitstable.

Albums Classic Rock

The Rolling Stones – Big Hits [High Tide and Green Grass] (Decca TXS 101) (1966)

I’m posting this wonderful early hits compilation (including a lil’ Lp-sized fold-out photo booklet) that I got for a pound last spring at the Hythe cricket ground boot fair just to see if Wilberforce is an old stick in the mud when it comes to the Rolling Stones as well. I hope not, but suspect he is. 😉

Me, I love the fucking Stones. A lot.

"Sixeventies" Rock Albums Blues Classic Rock Compilations

History of Eric Clapton (1972)

Lord knows I’ve tried with sixeventies rock artist incarnate Eric Clapton. After his constant presence on the FM radio of my youth and the go I had back in the early 90s on Eric Clapton at His Best, this double Lp anthology, a one pound buy from Ashford, represents a latest (last?) attempt to enjoy the man’s deal. Things start off pretty well with mid-60s studio tracks by the Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers, the Powerhouse and Cream. Typical of their time, these performances are certainly good-like, but not, shall we say, God-like.

It’s when we get to those live Cream songs that it proceeds downhill at a rate of 32 feet per second per second (that’s 9.8 meters per second per second for TV‘s non-American readership). This is music driven by egomania from players who seemed oblivious to one another and didn’t know when to shut up/stop showing off. Things reach an absolute nadir on a screeching, overblown, “heavy” cover of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful”. All 16:43 bullshit minutes of it. Frankly, I blame the audience for encouraging them. If the crowds had voted with their feet then maybe the band would have rethought and stuck with the decent pop-psyche stuff; but no, beaten senseless by a combination of extreme volume, hero worship and marijuana smoke, they stayed, oblivious to their emperors’ nakedness, and cheered. At least drum solo “Toad” isn’t on here.

Cream’s wretched excess does explain Clappo’s desire to return to the more earthy, less histrionic, ensemble settings of Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie and Derek & the Dominos. The rootsy vibe works well enough, especially with Steve Winwood singing, though D & B are only mediocre vocalists. This period smacks of the self-congratulation and worthy professionalism that dog Eric’s mellow boogie from then out. “Layla”, however, is good, the most focussed Clapton’s ever been as far as I know and a blues that doesn’t sound like a parody or overly reverent tribute. Though why the seriously out-of-tune slide guitar on the extended coda was allowed to stand I don’t know.

So, EC remains elusive and uninvolving to me, and likely will remain so; still, I’m tempted to check out the Blind Faith Lp if I ever see it for a pound.

Albums Beatles Related

John Lennon – Walls and Bridges (Apple SW 3416) (1974)

Just for fun, a gallery of Walls and Bridges images. This was purchased for me, when I was off high school laid up with mononucleosis (aka “mono” aka “kissing disease”), from a yard sale on Mount Vernon’s east end by my father purely because he found the cover interesting. It cost a buck. He also got Shaved Fish from the same sale. It seems to get short shrift these days, but this is surely a top five best Beatles solo album, full of excellent performances and hidden gems, especially “What You Got”. And it came with a lyric booklet!

Albums Classical Jazz

Keith Jarrett – The Köln Concert (ECM) (1975)

A unique one, at least as far as my collection is concerned, The Köln Concert is a 2Lp solo improvisational tour de force by American pianist Jarrett recorded live at the Cologne Opera House. If jazz and classical met in George Gershwin like cubism with each angle refracted but precisely delineated, they collide here as a roiling action painting, with Jarrett audibly grunting and whooping himself into an occasional frenzy as ideas and motifs tumble out in a rush of repeated gospel-tinged vamps, glissandi and rhythmic ostinati. Jarrett was, for the most part, literally making this up as he went along and sometimes the extemporisation sounds to me only just the right side of self-indulgent noodling and showboating—remarkably, this didn’t stop The Köln Concert from becoming the best-selling solo album in jazz history.

Strange that this passionate music should form the bedrock of that infuriatingly placid genre New Age.

Brought to you by the Wincheap Bootfair for £1.

Albums Classic Rock

Rush – 2112 (1976)

The 1976 Rush concept album 2112 with suitable blurred outline effect.


(London, England) — He is young, stylish, good-looking and works at a cutting edge PR firm, so when asked what they thought Robert Doyal, 25, was listening to on his 16 GB 4th Generation chromatic Purple iPod nano people routinely name checked some of the best, coolest music recorded in the last fifty years, with Miles Davis’ Quite Nights and “something by the Last Poets” being two typical responses.

In fact, Doyal was listening to 2112, the 1976 album by Canadian art rock power trio Rush, a record that most who heard and enjoyed during their teenage years will now find grating, overly fussy and, frankly, ridiculous, despite the considerable power of the overall sound.

“By the look of him, I’m guessing ‘Lonely Woman’ by Ornette Coleman,” said City bank manager Norris MacIntyre when asked what he thought was playing in Doyal’s earphones. “That or a track from Mos Def’s Black On Both Sides.”

Skegness welder Ron Richards judged, incorrectly, that Doyal had on a thoughtfully compiled homemade collection of Beatles’ early solo singles and solo album tracks when, as Richards puts it, “there was still a little bit of Beatle magic lingering.”

Edna Ellison, who is a homemaker in Canterbury, wrongly believed Doyal was enjoying some “wicked dubstep/grime/UK funky groove; maybe a mix CD by Bristol wonderboy DJ Joker or something on Hyperdub like that new Cooly G.”

“Failing that,” Everton offered, “a Glen Brown dub–‘Away With The Bad’ would be my best guess.

Another witness, known only as Akira, suggested it could be “Same Mistake”, the first single from Hysterical, the recently released third Lp by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.”

The fact that Doyal, who lives three blocks from uber-indie music nightclub, The Garage, where the likes of Scrawl and Shellac have played, was listening to an early-period Rush Lp sent shock waves through all those polled.

“You’re f*ckin’ sh*ttin’ me,” said Leyton Davis, Leeds University student. “Not even [Rush’s 1981 commercial highpoint] Moving Pictures? Anyway, I had him pegged for Gang of Four’s Solid Gold.”

Doyal was happy to go on at length about drummer Neil Peart’s poetry-like lyrics, singer-bassist Geddy Lee’s impassioned vocals, guitarist Alex Lifeson’s range of guitar sounds as well as the group’s considerable chops and arrangement skills which he called “tighter than a gnat’s chuff.”

When asked, Doyal said his favourite 2112 songs were “Oracle: The Dream”, “Passage to Bangkok”” and (“especially“) “Temples of Syrinx”.

“At least this week!” he added with a wry laugh before shrieking tunelessly, “We are the priests of the Temples of Syrinx/Our great computers fill the hallowed halls.”

NB: this article has been revised to suit Rush’s 2112 which I got at a bootfair in Headcorn, Kent sometime last year.

Albums Compilations Jazz

The Billie Holiday Story Volume 1 (CBS 68228) and Lady In Satin (Columbia 8048) (1958)

A pair of albums to metaphorically bookend the archetypal tragic jazz artist’s career and literally demonstrate my own Trans-Atlantic thrifting.

Recordings from the 1973 Billie Holiday Story double Lp compilation cover Lady Day’s first flush of success from 1933 to 1939 with bandleaders Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson and Count Basie. Often arranged so that the band vamps for a minute or so till that novel voice comes in, these songs radiate a sunny warmth and playfulness belying Billie’s troubled life offstage. In all of popular music, it doesn’t get much better. Especially thrifty Thrifty Vinyl readers will be glad to know that I only paid a pound, not three, for this at the Ashford Bootfair.

Whether Holiday was typecasting herself with the string and pathos laden Lady In Satin is an interesting, if ultimately unanswerable question, though the inclusion of songs like “I’m A Fool To Want You” and “Glad To Be Unhappy” are suggestive. Certainly, Billie herself requested Ray Ellis arrange these slow, bittersweet songs in a bid for a kind of respectability destined to elude her in life (and which she seemed otherwise to actively repulse). Lady In Satin was much criticised at the time and now for its “syrupy” production, but there are enough “jazz” touches, the trombone solos on “Fool” and “Glad” for instance, and there is enough dramatic contrast between the lushness and Holiday’s slurred and warbling voice, ever more full of those characteristic cracked one syllable swoops and unable to hold a note very long, to add a level of depth which, at this point in history, enhances the listening experience without descending into a morbid “car crash” experience on one hand or mere easy listening on the other.  The last studio album released while she was still alive, I got this two Xmases ago for $2 in a Charlottesville, Virginia thrift store.

I can't tell if Lady Day's lipstick was smeared by the art director of Billie herself
"Sixeventies" Rock Albums Americana

Alex Taylor With Friends and Neighbors (Atco 2400117) (1971)

This rough-looking gentleman sings of hittin’ the road and suchlike casual misogynies in the creamy molasses tones of label mate Boz Scaggs and sweet baby brother James with the pronounced southern drawl befitting an Lp produced at Capricorn Sound Studios in Macon, Georgia. The rock on this, Taylor’s debut, is of the gently southern-fried, singer-songwriter and down-home funky variety; really it’s the album I was hoping this might be. Members of the band, as well as bro, write the songs, though, interestingly, not Alex himself. Highlights include a swampy Fender Rhodes-led version of chestnut “It’s All Over Now” and an excellent extended, sixeventies take on Gregg Allman’s “Southbound”, which is both naturally dynamic and tightly controlled with a demonstrable camaraderie, subtlety, ease and intuition that make the album’s title more than apt.

Alex, like the rest of his siblings it seems, had chemical dependency issues and looking at the doughy, grim face of the then 23 or 24-year old (!) in cover the photo is to receive strong forewarning of Taylor’s alcohol-related death two decades later. Sad, really.

Another album I would likely never have heard if not for thrifting, I got Friends and Neighbors at a chaz near Canterbury’s Westgate area literally called Marge’s Charity Shop, shortly before it closed down a few months ago.