Albums Electronical Soundtracks

Brian Eno – Apollo Atmospheres & Soundtracks (EGLP 53) (1983)


Your Dad

Jesus H. Jumped-Up Motherfucking Christ on a stick! Again with the Brian Eno Apollo Lp! How many times do I have to tell you to turn that Goddamn ambient racket down! I can’t even fucking hear myself think with that strident, haunting drone and in-your-face, atmospheric onslaught!

It’s so fucking peaceful and zen-like, I’m gettin’ a freakin’ headache over here.

No, I don’t care that, through a combination of tender, wistful melody snatches and a dense pad of lush background tones, Apollo evokes the wonder and majesty of space travel and the corresponding enrichment of the human experience, while at the same time darkly alluding to the first manned mission to the moon’s twin existential difficulties, i.e. the possible mortal consequences of error on a personal level and the recognition of the Earth’s relative insignificance at the cosmic level. Not when I’m trying to watch Monday Night Football.

Anyway, it’s not even music–it’s just noise. It’s all texture and no tune. Not like in my day. Back then, if the milkman couldn’t whistle it, it didn’t go on the album, even if it was a perfectly judged aural portrayal of the Apollo astronauts’ awe and scientific coldness, a kind of ambivalence perhaps unique in the history of our species.

And what’s the deal with the innovative use of the steel guitar on side two, ironically evoking country music? Is that supposed to be some sort of comment on the Apollo mission’s American genesis? I don’t know, you tell me.

Whatever. My house is not a Goddamn discotheque and Eno’s “mood music” is putting me in a bad mood. Just turn that shit down before I turn it off–permanently!

It’s no wonder kids today are going deaf.

Editor: I first heard this around ’84 when I baby-sat a friend’s record collection while he spent his Junior year of Kenyon abroad. Later, it was one of the first CDs I bought and if ever a piece of music needed to be experienced with digital clarity, it’s this. As with Spirit of Eden, the crackle of the thrift store vinyl can be a bit distracting.

12 inchers Hip Hop

De La S☮ul – “Me Myself and I” (TB 926) (1989)

How’s comes there aren’t more Golden Age of Hip Hop twelves in Bootie/Chazland? I don’t know, but I buy each one I lay peeps on, like this ‘ere number I picked up during my Sunday morning smash ‘n’ grab down Wincheap way.

Editor: b/w “Brainwashed Follower”, “Ain’t Hip To Be Labelled a Hippie” and “What’s More”.

Albums Compilations Jazz

The Milt Jackson Quartet – (RM 119) (1963)


Having enjoyed, with Mrs Asbo, a 3-course luncheon during a one and a half hour boat ride last Thursday on the Thames, my attention turned to the serious business of spending money at London’s retail record stores, specifically Sounds of the Universe near Soho and Portobello’s Honest Jon’s.

There are, of course, scores of Lps on The List, so I was not bereft of choice; really, it’s more like a case of piscine/cask hunting since many, many records I desire were there for the taking. But without hundreds of pounds (you’d be surprised how little music blogging pays–Jeremy take note), I had to reign in my record buying to a painful degree. And it is this rather unsatisfying process of elimination that characterises “fishing expedition” retail record shopping.

Where’s the sport in that? You may as well go to the zoo with an AK-47.

(It would have been different, I suppose, had I gone for a specific record and in the end, I got the latest two Bossa Nova Soul Jazz re-issues [on CD!] which I had assumed I would end up with, as well as wonderful Lps by Dorothy Ashby and Sahib Shihab.)

For the frisson he needs, the great black vinyl hunter needs to know that there’s a good possibility of coming home empty-handed. It is this elusivity which makes the kill exciting and why chaz/boot fair record buying is the purer experience.

Interestingly, both the retail and charity experiences have been compromised by the internet. As regards the former, I happily buy most of my new vinyl from the online arms of the above two record shops and the vinyl is, in the case of the latter, more often than not, picked over for eBay sale or, worse, marked a book value based on what it’s selling for on eBay.

Anyway, back in the comfortable environs of the British Red Cross store in Tenterden on Saddy morning, I found this excellent compilation by vibe-ist Milt Jackson. Taped in the early 50s, around the same time as his Blue Note recordings, but, happily, with no overlap, the Realm set features the same rounded, mellow vibe (and personnel), spiced with a hint of cayenne for that little edge of piquante. Other interest is to be found in the liner notes where there’s a surprising anti-MJQ feel ill-fitting the blatant graphic suggestion of the band on the cover: our writer suggest that listeners “with a taste for virility in their music may have dismissed [Milt Jackson] on the basis of his present [1963] work with the Modern Jazz Quartet” and that “so many feel cheated by the precious [my italics] music played by the MJQ”. To that end, he urges you to consider “these tracks…without the MJQ of recent years.” Burn.

One of the things I like about re-issues such as these is the various subtitles and designations involved. Apart from the label itself there’s a Realm Jazz Savoy Series logo and the Classics of Modern Jazz appellation on the back (not pictured) as well as the Oriole Records Limited note at the bottom of the back cover.

PS: I’m beginning to think there should be an MJQ-Related category.

Albums Beatles Related Jazz

The London Jazz Four Take A New Look At the Beatles (HI-FI 582 005) (1967)

“I’m always proud and pleased when people do my songs. It gives me pleasure that they even attempt them, because a lot of my songs aren’t that do-able. I go to restaurants and the groups always play ‘Yesterday.’ I even signed a guy’s violin in Spain after he played us ‘Yesterday.’ He couldn’t understand that I didn’t write the song. But I guess he couldn’t have gone from table to table playing ‘I Am the Walrus.'” – John Lennon.

Well, the London Jazz Four didn’t do “I Am the Walrus”, I’m not sure the song had even been recorded at this point, but seven of the songs here are Lennon’s, which is, of course, not the way with these things; no, it is usually McCartney, whose tunes are more ingratiating, who reaps the cover version bonanza. But this isn’t a typical Beatles covers album. Not a Toreo Band-style rip-off, but a subtle, serious (even as it is playful) and mostly successful transposition of the Lennon and McCartney songbook into the jazz idiom, recorded when the Beatles were still a functioning unit. And by “jazz idiom” I mean taking melodic themes and playing around with them in swinging fashion, sometimes to the point of unrecognisability, rather than a simple easy-listening or merely “jazzy” recast of the familiar arrangement.

Piano and Vibes-led, there are many highlights: a hard-charging, Afro-rhythm “Things We Said Today”; “I Feel Fine”, which twists the guitar hook into the oddest harpsichord vamp; and both “Rain” and “From Me To You”, re-imagined as glistening ballads. Only “Yellow Submarine” sinks to the level of hokum anticipated by the City Gents vs. Cartoon Mop Tops sleeve. A pound this morning at the Wincheap bootfair.

Albums Gospel

Ken Parker – Sacred Songs – ‘I Shall Not Be Moved’ (Pisces TKD/7) (1984)

With nary a skank in sight, reggae singer Ken Parker made a gospel record devoid of riddim and sounds as if “I Shall Not Be Moved” was not meant to convey faith and steadfastness but rather inertia. An interesting concept, Parker contrived to segue seven songs per side in a kind of folk-medley. Unfortunately, he and producer K. Farquharson achieved this by keeping the melodies simple, the accompaniment bland and the pace snail’s four square. One wishes it hadn’t come from a Jamaican. I will seek immediate solace in the form of Cornell Campbell’s dynamic and dubwise Bunny Lee-produced version of the title song. 

Removed from Demelza House this afternoon for 50p. In fact, their records are a pound, but all I had was half that, so they let it go at a discount. “If you’re inclined,” they said, “You can put 50p in the collection box next time you’re here.” I will.

80s Albums

The Style Council – Our Favourite Shop (TSCLP2) (1985)


(London, England) – It’s the latest wheeze in creative problem-solving and now crowdsourcing has delivered its verdict on Our Favourite Shop, the sophomore album by England’s the Style Council: a fairly resounding “not bad.”

Researchers broadcast the album on the music crowdsourcing web site to gauge opinions. They were startled by their findings with comments ranging from “It’s pretty good” all the way to “3 out of 5 stars”.

“The thing with crowdsourcing,” explained spokesperson Rebecca DeMornay, “is that it can gather large amounts of information and is relatively inexpensive to obtain; it’s also surprisingly accurate at judging things as arcane as, say, the weight of a water buffalo or the relative ‘okay-ness’ of a Style Council record.”

“There were over 6,000 people taking part in this event, ” continued DeMornay, “And so, by averaging the control group’s reactions, we now know that Our Favourite Shop is an alright-ish record.”

Some participants compared Our Favourite Shop favourably to Culture Club records from around the same time and said that it was “clearly miles better than that fucking John Miles’ horrorshow ‘Music (Was My First Love)'”, but that it “certainly wasn’t as good as Innervisions or Sticky Fingers or, you know, an actual classic.”

No one involved said the record was absolutely shit.

DeMornay said that some placed blame for the Lp’s “fair-to-middling” reception on singer Paul Weller’s vocal limitations: “While there’s no doubting his passion,” offered one participant, “his singing does seem a bit laboured.” Others cited the band’s “right-on” political stance as “obsequious and obvious.” Many claimed that, while they liked the record well enough, they found it hard to get through the whole album without putting on something different: “It’s uncanny,” said one 46-year old who used to have the US version of the album, which had a slight different track-listing and was retitled Internationalists, on cassette, “I feel the same way about the Jam and Paul Weller solo albums as well.”

“I think I prefer ‘Have You Ever Had It Blue’ [from the Absolute Beginners soundtrack Lp] to [the OFS song from which it was re-written] ‘With Everything To Lose’,” added another contributor.

While the overall contents of the actual record were judged slightly above average, over 90% of those responding rated very highly both drummer Steve White and the band’s suits.

Editor: note the Internationalists fanzine inserts above, available for £4.10 for fan club members and £5.60 for non-members.

Albums Soul

Otis Redding – Dock of the Bay (Stax 230 001) (1968)


(Memphis, TN) – What some people won’t do for a hit record! But soul singer Otis Redding has them all beat. At a hastily arranged press conference outside Stax-Volt recording studios, Redding announced yesterday that he was scheduled to be killed in a plane crash in three days time to boost flagging record sales.

While the songwriter and vocalist placed his last four albums in the US R&B charts’ Top 10, they have consistently failed to go even Top 40 in the US Pop charts. This has prompted Stax executives’ somewhat desperate plan.

“We felt,” said a smiling Redding, “that I haven’t had Pop Chart success commensurate with my talent and influence and, further, extreme measures were required.”

Redding told gathered reporters that his upcoming #1 single, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” had to be rush-recorded before the fiery air accident. “They didn’t give me much time,” the Georgia-born singer joked. “I even had to whistle the last verse because I hadn’t finished the lyrics!”

The song will be the title track for Redding’s first posthumous release, a hodge-podge compilation of non-Lp singles, b-sides and a couple already-released songs. It was assembled by guitarist Steve Cropper and features liner notes by Rolling Stone/Crawdaddy! writer and future Bruce Springsteen manager, Jon Landau.

Unlike many such cash-ins, Dock of the Bay will be an excellent album and will reach number four in the US Album charts.

Said Stax boss Jim Stewart simply: “Death sells, especially when the product’s this good.”

The last of Sunday’s Ashford haul.

Albums Reggae

This Is Desmond Dekkar (TTL 4) (1969)

From the Thrifty Vinyl 1965 Archives


(San Francisco, CA) – What is certain is that reggae will come, in time, to influence the style and substance of all popular music through its sonic experimenting, DJ culture, “toasting”, vague but self-righteous belief in God and glorification of marijuana. The Dance and Hip Hop genres will be particularly affected by Jamaican music. What is less certain is who will spearhead the international Reggae movement, that is unless you’re a member of a shadowy group of white record executives connected to the influential San Francisco men’s club, Bohemian Grove, who have rescinded their designation of Desmond Dekker as the official popularizer of the syncopated music.

“In Reggae,” explained Ernest Burick, who is the Bohemian Grover in charge of Western commercial entertainment, “You have all the elements that will allow popular music to remain popular while at the same time appear oppositional, in particular the identification with the ghetto ‘sufferas’ and the ‘Rude Boy’ stance, which will be latterly known as ‘Gangsta’.”

While Burick and his fellow “Bohos” will allow Dekkar “inroads” into the American marker, including an unprecedented Top Ten chart placing for “The Israelites”, his slightly shrill singing is deemed “too yard” for world domination. “His job is to simply soften up the market,” claimed Burick.

Burick said that Texan Johnny Nash was also in the running , but “he’s American, you see, and the ‘cultural imperialism’ tag would stick and alienate the Africans, in particular.”

“We are thinking that possibly Winston Rodney or whichever of the Wailers is most malleable will take Dekkar’s place as Reggae’s leading light,” Burick revealed.

The ultra-secret cabal of some of the most powerful men in the world has previously chosen Elvis Presley to instigate the popularisation of Rock and Roll, Bob Dylan for folk and the Beatles for Pop. In each case, the given performer will be liquidated either through drugs, assassination or motorcycle accidents when he becomes too powerful.

“We’ve already decided that whoever we choose to champion Reggae, we’ll give them cancer of the toe, you know, just for something a bit different,” said Burick with a cheery wink, adding, “And we’ve just picked Richard Nixon to be the next US president.”

Another 50p jobbie from yesterday in Ashford.

Albums Soul

The Temptations – With A Lot O’ Soul (TML 11057) (1967)


(Los Angeles, CA) – The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences yesterday bestowed on Motown Records the coveted Highest Ratio of Compilations to Original Lps award at yesterday’s Grammy Awards ceremony.

A visibly moved Berry Gordy, Jr. told the assembled music industry insiders he was “thrilled that the Motown family has been recognised” with what he called the record business’s “ultimate accolade for re-releasing the same music over and over again.”

In the ceremony’s opening speech, singer Smokey Robinson said that “instead of keeping enormously popular, five-star albums in print, Mr. Gordy has chosen the harder route: He repeatedly released collections of the same handful of songs for each artist, thereby not only skewing audience perceptions of those artists, but denying listeners a chance to hear a lot of wonderful music.”

He recalled the label’s first compilation, which was also its first long-player, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ Greatest Hits. “We hadn’t even put out a single yet,” laughed the Motown legend as he told the story.

Reached for comment at his sprawling Los Angeles ranch-style bungalow, music writer Clifford Snoats paid further tribute to the much-loved Detroit record label. “Take, for example, the Temptations’ With a Lot o’ Soul,” he explained. “An original Lp that’s an absolute embarrassment of riches with strong songs and performances.”

Something of a transitional album, Snoats revealed that “Lot o’ Soul balances the band’s doo-wop roots (‘Don’t Send Me Away’) with its sweet mid-period romantic soul (‘Just One Last Look’)” while at the same time “presaging the hard-hitting, gritty funk that would soon characterise much of [the Temps’] music over the next six years with songs like “Ain’t No Sun Since You’ve Been Gone’.”

“Why would you want that sort of cohesive diversity,” the fabulously wealthy rock critic asked rhetorically, “when you could buy another Best Of with ‘My Girl’ et al.?”

With 23 anthologies for every one album of new material, Motown easily outdistanced it competition in this category, though Trojan Records, which has released over 800 compilations for each of its all-original records, was disqualified since most of its music was initially issued on singles.

Ed: 50p at this morning’s Ashford Boot Fair. Yes.

Albums File Under POPULAR: Male Vocal

The Incomparable Ray Charles and Ray Charles’ Greatest Hits Volumes 1 & 2


“I’m very disappointed,” claims area smart-arse

(Bristol, England) – Having thought what he had was great good fortune, self-confessed cool person Alan Rico purchased cheaply the first two volumes of Ray Charles’ ABC Records Greatest Hits within a week of each other at separate area thrift stores.

“I though, you know, Ray Charles, everyone’s supposed to like him,” reported the sarcastic, 28-year old textbook editor who already owns Tell the Truth, the Charly collection of Charles’ Atlantic releases. “And what better way to enjoy his soulful croon than a couple period compilations.”

But fate had a cruel shock in store: These post-Atlantic albums simply aren’t that good.

“There’s all these strings and backing singers, the ‘Raelets’, for Pete’s sake,” Rico said of the Sid Feller-produced recordings, using a deliberately hackneyed euphemism and crooking his index and middle fingers to indicate both speech marks and his condescension. “They just smother things.”

“So you would have thought, given my penchant for witty distain, that, having been unable to enjoy the records on a musical level, I could, you know, take the piss.” he continued. “Like, for example, saying that Elvis Costello wasn’t as unkind to Ray as the Marty Paich arrangements on these albums.”

“But actually, [the songs] are so boring and middle of the road, with a couple exceptions, that I can’t even muster the enthusiasm to make fun of them and enjoy them ironically.”

As if life hadn’t dealt Rico enough bitterness, The Incomparable Ray Charles, a Summit compilation of earlier, rougher, more R&B material he subsequently bought at an area junk shop a week later, was warped, a bit too scratchy and, therefore, tantilisingly unplayable.

“It’s like ‘God’ has it in for me,” he said over-dramatically, once again dibbing his digits, this time to demonstrate a patronising attitude to the Supreme Being.