Albums Classical

Aldo Ciccolini – The Piano Music of Erik Satie Vol. 6 (S-36811)

Because my mother is planning to move this autumn, I was obliged to get rid of a bunch of my crap that’d been cluttering her basement when we were visiting earlier this month. Some of this crap we brought back to the UK, but some of it I managed to sell, at a flea market we joined to help the house’s general clear out and a huge Antiques market in Scottsville. This included $60 worth of promo posters to the market I’d acquired when working in a record store in Columbus–nothing too great, but worthy enough. Anyway, I exchanged one of those dollars at the market for a little bit more Satie. Angel label, always welcome at Asbo haus.

For more information on Erik Satie and the French fin de siecle art scene of which he was a part, I recommend Robert Shattuck’s The Banquet Years. It consists of potted biographies and detailed critiques of Satie, Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau and Guillaume Apollinaire.

Albums Beatles Related

Ringo’s Rotogravure (SD 18193) (1976)

The graffiti-adorned door of the Beatles’ former offices on 3 Saville Row and back cover of Ringo’s fifth solo album, this held the most interest for me as a young Beatle fan.

The formula for reviewing Ringo Starr Lps is as simple as making them: First note the big gun producer (here, Arif Mardin) and how he piles on the layers of backing to compensate for the drummer’s lack of pipes or taste; next, explain that an outrageously large number of rock royalty (e.g. Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Dr. John, Jim Keltner, Sneeky Pete Kleinow, etc., etc., etc.) is on hand giving the record a certain kind of credibility; third, make sure to breathlessly allude to the virtual Beatles reunion when referring to the second-tier songs (they aren’t going to give away their A-list material, are they?) provided by each of his former band mates; finally, compare the work favorably or unfavorably, depending on your mood, to Ringothe album which instigated the correct procedure for the making of Ringo records. Hey, presto! Your Ringo review is written and the bonus is you don’t have to listen to the album, the relevant information can simply be gleaned from the liner notes.

Now, Thrifty Vinyl readers may be surprised to learn that I’m something of a Beatles fan and am inclined to forgive them all manner of sins; so for my 70p*, and for all its mediocrity, Rotogravure is a bouncy and cheery nostalgia-fest and by no means a complete wash out. Really, it’s not that much better or worse than the overly praised Ringo. Top-notch support ensures the music’s good enough and one imagines a coke and alcohol-fueled good time was had by all who contributed; nonetheless, it’s hard not to notice that, without the Starr of the show’s pedigree, the record would never have been made.

*Yes, literally. It was on sale for a pound, but 70 pence was all I had left, so they let it go at a discount. A different stall in Great Chart.

Albums Classic Rock

The Beach Boys – Friends (ST 2895) (1968) and Sunflower (SSLA 8251) (1970)

Even when the Beach Boys were more or less fully functional, their albums (with the one exception) were relatively patchy and prone to filler; this state of affairs was exacerbated as the band descended into dippy hippie culture and interscine passive/aggressive co-dependent dysfunction. A precipitous post-Pet Sounds plunge in popularity coincided with the abandonment of ambitious “teenage symphonies” and, beginning with Smiley Smile, the Wilsons, et al. simply regressed, effectively producing gentle, if deranged, children’s records by recycling songs and ideas from Smile, but shorn of their original modular context.

While not without the odd highlight (and some of these were very odd highlights indeed), the overall effect of this transitional period at the tail end of the 60s was one of artistic marble loss. As underproduced and slapdash as you’d hear a major pop act before bands started appending bonus discs of demo versions to their Lps, Friends represents a high-water mark in this goofy/naïve approach and, either despite or because of its retreat from adult reality and the mental illness at its heart, comes off as an unsettling yet coherent statement.

Something had to give. Time and fashion had moved on quickly and the BBs could no longer depend on Brian for hits or sonic guidance. Fortunately, Carl and Dennis (not to mention Bruce) had been paying attention all those years and, if not scaling the elder brother’s composition or production heights, made records that at least sounded like the Beach Boys, albeit a more mature version of the band. This is the band’s journeyman third period where dogged professionalism replaced the wide-eyed/dilated-pupiled experimentation of the era immediately preceding. Bruce Johnston recently cited Sunflower as his favorite “band album” (as opposed to a “Brian-at-the-controls album”) and it’s easy to see why. Rededicated to democratic songwriting of a commercial standard and recently signed with Warners in the US after a difficult and painful final spell with Capitol, Sunflower sounds like what it must have felt like to the band: a re-birth. 

An unusual sighting of the Capitol rainbow Lp label on a British EMI issue.

I had certainly heard Sunflower (subtitled, in the parlance of the times, “An album offering from the Beach Boys”) before, but hadn’t ever credited it that much. I was grateful for the chance at re-appraisal afforded by its purchase (and that of Friends, which I’ve listened to a lot more over the years) at a boot fair in Great Chart south of Ashford for 50p this Bank Holiday Monday.

Albums Country AND Western

Jed Ford – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (LUS 3049) (1970)

All singing is by definition contrived. I mean, no one talks that way normally do they? From Maria Callas to Frank Sinatra to Elvis to Aretha to David Byrne to Tyler the Creator. It’s all a put on. But there must be something in a singer’s pretensions that is true to that person. Usually, unlike other aspects a person’s personality, that something is a product of the singer’s environment, i.e. it’s almost always nurture as opposed to a tandem with nature.

This is what I think makes Jed Ford’s I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry , an Lp of mostly classic country covers, such an odd case. First of all, the name, an obvious fake, but it’s not unheard of for a performing artist, even a country one, to affect a stage name. Next, the man’s  southern drawl. Again, not only is this no hindrance to C&W singin’, it’s positively requisite. But here’s where it starts to get a little murky; I know nothing for certain because little information exsists on the interweb, but I believe Jed’s a Limey who’s appropriated the old-school Country croon to the degree only a reformed smoker or a recent convert to Islam or a hopeful outsider could muster. It’s like those bowl-cutted Washingtonians, the British Walkers, only in reverse. Or maybe it’s more akin to all those white Brits who, in Sonny Boy’s words, “want to play the blues so bad…and they play the blues so bad!”

So how did Ford get so caught up in country music that he had to do this? A clue might exist in his song “You ‘Aint Gonna’ Pick On Me” wherein he confides to the listener that “them people up in Liverpool, I know they take me for a fool”. Now, our drummer friend Ringo will tell you there was a pronounced Country vibe Mersey-way, and maybe Ford was ensconced in some Scouse/Redneck enclave. I really don’t know.

Anyway, for all its trans-Atlantic, anachronistic affectation, I’m So Lonesome is a pretty good record. And I’m lovin’ the magic marker cover.

Back on the UK thriftin’ express, I got this yesterday in Hythe.

Albums Brazilian Jazz P-R-O-G spells Prog

Deodato 2 (CTI 6029) (1973)

Eumir Deodato gets his fair share of kudos (“All-time classic funk jazz masterpiece…no home should be without this album!” according to the fine people at Sounds of the Universe) and opprobrium (Rolling Stone called his work “striding, chichi elevator music”). Guess what? They’re both right. Bearing no trace of his Brazilian roots, the Creed Taylor-produced Deodato 2‘s lengthy broiling rhythms are regularly broken up by horn blasts of light melody, all intricately played with the speed and indulgence of a prog rocker. “Super Strut” hits this mark most satisfyingly, while Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” is not the blaspheme it appears on paper. Guitarist John Tropea is given especially free reign.

As if the inclusion of “Nights In White Satin” wasn’t enough of a signifier of jazz’s pop audience courtship, the note offering a “same-size reproduction of the cover [of that hunky Deodato], without type, is available for $1.50” from Creed Taylor is. It’s like a freakin’ Bobby Goldsboro album!

I got this (and the ARS record) at two different Ohio Thrift Store shops at opposite ends of Columbus when I spent a long laugh-filled afternoon last week driving around with good friends Jovan and Phillip. We must have hit about 5 stores. While these two Lps represent the sum total of the haul that day, it was, of course, time very well spent.

Albums Classic Rock

Atlanta Rhythm Section – A Rock and Roll Alternative (1976)

Alternative only in the sense that this southern songwriting collective shows more pop nouse than fellow live powerhouses Lynyrd Skynrd or the Allman Brothers (see also Cate Brothers). The hit “So In To You” shows off the band at its funky, Fender Rhodes-driven best, though there are highlights aplenty.

How the punks must have gagged–fie on them.

Albums Jazz

Bent Fabric – The Happy Puppy (Atco 33-155) (1962)

For those guessing based on the name, this is not an early 80s French New Wave band, rather a Danish TV personality/ composer/pianist/record co. exec. from the early 60s dubbed Bent Fabricius-Bjerre by his parents. With a sound characterised by the most peculiar “slap back” effect on the piano, B F-B’s style edges just the right side of cutesy. Appropriately lifted from the 4 Paws animal chaz in Scottsville, VA for a dollar.

Albums Soundtracks

John Barry – James Bond soundtracks

from Ian Phlegmings’ On Her Shitannic Majesty’s Request

James Bond reclined in the swan shaped paddle boat, pumping the pedals leisurely up the Seine. The casual Left Bank observer could be forgiven for mistaking him and his companion for another romantic couple enjoying April in Paris, not the pair who saved the Eiffel Tower from destruction.

“Now that we’ve given Dr. Gateaux-Noir his just desserts,” here Bond paused to smile at his pun, his left eyebrow arched slightly, though his eyes remained heavy lidded–the effect was devastating. “What can I give to you?’

“Just a penis,” replied Mimi Bonne-Arse in a comically French accent.

“I beg your pardon?” Bond was shocked.

“A penis is all I ask of you,” she cooed, again the accent was ridiculously thick.

The smile was wiped from the agent’s face. His brow went from arched to furrowed. He’d saved the Eiffel Tower and, by extension, the Free World from the clutches of the evil Dr. Gateaux-Noir with this woman and now he felt like little more than a piece of meat.

Miss Bonne-Arse sensed his unease. “Just make me ‘appy, James and I will make you ‘appy.”

At last Bond understood: “a penis” = ‘appiness. “Oh yes,” purred the agent, “I will make you very, ‘ow you say, ‘appy.”

And as the two lovers paddled down the Seine past Notre Dame, locals watching the swan shaped paddle boat would swear that there was only one lone man travelling slowly with the most beatific smile they’d ever seen.

Editor: A rare Thrifty Vinyl outside broadcast, I got these three Barry soundtracks from 4 Paws animal welfare chaz in Scottsville, Virginia. Sorry about the old joke.


Albums Classical Jazz

Ornette Coleman – Skies of America (KC31562) (1972)

Thrifty Vinyl, at least the Prince Asbo branch of the triumverate, will be on vacation to US of Frickin’ A for the next three weeks. In commemoration, I am posting this “difficult” orchestral Ornette Coleman Lp which I bought on the green in Hythe last spring. Suffice to say I much prefer his small group Atlantic material.

I’ll be checking in here, but unlikely to post while abroad. I’m on a seriously tight budget that might even preclude Stateside thrifting! Perhaps others can pick up the slack in my absence.

12 inchers Classic Rock Disco

The Rolling Stones – “Miss You” b/w “Far Away Eyes” (12 EMI 2802) (1978)


I’d been holding out for quite some time, sleeping by myself. I was missing my girlfriend–missing the sex, frankly–and thought there was a possibility we might get back together. So I’d resisted the lure of other women in the hope that our separation wouldn’t be permanent.

We’d broken up several times over the years. It was always my fault. I’m an incorrigible flirt and had taken it too far more than once. I understood why she felt insecure. But this time was different, this time I was the insecure one, constantly hanging by the phone, waiting and, as I said, not sleeping around. If only I could kiss her.

Now, even my lonely sleep was troubled. She was literally starring in my dreams. Lord, I miss her.

The telephone in my brownstone is in the hallway, on the third floor. One time it actually rang when I was loitering nearby, ever hopeful. But it was just some friends of mine trying to cheer me up.

“Hey, what’s the matter man?” they asked. “We’re gonna come around at twelve with some Puerto Rican girls that are just dyin’ to meet you.”

I had to admit I was tempted. Sensing weakness, my friends pressed their advantage: “We’re gonna bring a case of wine,” they promised, sweetening the deal. “Hey, let’s go mess and fool around, you know, like we used to.” But I passed.

Why is she waiting so long? Come on! Come on! I called out to no-one in particular.

Lately, I’ve taken to walking around in Central Park, sometimes singing right out loud in the gloaming. People look at me as if I’m mad. Maybe I am. They see me stumbling along, shuffling through the thoroughfare and ask, “What’s the matter with you Jim boy?” Sometimes I want to say to myself…Sometimes I say…you know what? You’re strong. You don’t miss her

But it’s not too long before I realise that I’m just lying to myself. It’s her and her alone. The way she’s been blotting out my mind or whatever, fooling on my time. I’ve become so inarticulate.

Lord, I miss her.

Editor: Some Girls was the second Lp I ever purchased at retail (Steve Martin’s Wild & Crazy Guy was the first). In 8th grade someone brought in the American 12″ of this which I thought was the coolest. I acquired that version sometime later, but couldn’t resist this UK pink vinyl picture sleeve product when it presented at a boot fair for cheap.