Mott the Hoople – Mott (1973)

It is a curious thing about certain pop groups that, if you were a member of the exclusive club which followed them when they were à la mode, you can brook no criticism of them later in life. I think this is particularly true of bands that cultivate arty eccentricity. If, however, you didn’t belong to the cult, these same idols can seem shrill and contrived. Even with all the boxes ticked, some groups, I can’t think of any offhand, simply come up short. Oh, they may have flourished for a time, capturing the zeitgeist (or at least some subculture), perhaps feeding on the crumbs of greater talents. Maybe even there was even a genuine connection with the true believers, the ones at the gigs, the ones who followed the band around, who subscribed to (or wrote for) the fan club. If there’s a ringing choir still in thrall to their adolescent fanaticism and loudly championing them in grown-up rock magazines, the listener coming to these kinds of records late will find them particularly disappointing. Ultimately, apart from maybe a song or two, they just doesn’t translate beyond the faithful and, with the passing of a few years, their records are revealed as a hollow echo of themselves.

I’d be interested to know if Thrifty Vinyl readers can think of any examples of this phenomenon.

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Published in: on October 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm  Comments (8)  

Muddy Waters – After the Rain (CH 50017) (1969)

U.S. WHITES ANGERED BY WATERS’ “DISCO” ALBUM

The nation’s white music fans yesterday expressed outrage and distress, heaping torrents of abuse on Muddy Waters and Chess Records for recording “crass” disco remakes of the erstwhile blues musician’s classic hits.

Released on Chess Records’ subsidiary Cadet Concept, After the Rain has alarmed white aficionados who claim Water’s blues stylings have all but vanished on the Lp only to be supplanted by heavily reverbed vocals, a metronomic four-on-the-floor beat, a backing chorus of female vocalists and disco’s distinctive hi-hat pattern with the open cymbals on the off-beat. Furthermore, strings, horns, and electric pianos have been employed to create a lush background padding wholly at odds with Water’s previous gritty urban blues sound.

“And where is Muddy’s slide guitar?” asked one caucasian critic rhetorically. “Replaced by synthesisers!”

Added another white, “What a slap in the face to all the white people who’ve made him what he is. It’s even worse than Howlin’ Wolf’s Jazz Fusion album.”

Producer Marshall Chess defended the decision for the singer born McKinley Morganfield to “go disco”, arguing the move would “broaden Muddy’s base and introduce him to a new generation of fans.”

“Anyway,” explained the Chess Records scion, “that old ‘mojo, ramblin’, hoochie-coochie’ blues thing is played out and tired.”

But at least one white blues purists was having none of that, saying, “I want to hear the blues, not ‘black’ music.”

Published in: on October 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Beatles Flip Your Wig Game

To celebrate Thrifty Vinyl’s 600th post, something a little different. I bought this The Beatles Flip Your Wig Game from Mount Vernon, Ohio’s Goodwill Thrift Store when I was 10 or 11 for 50 cents. Years later, I spawned precisely two children so that the whole family could play the game on Saturday nights. I’m always John.

Of course, not many people these days have actually seen the game, let alone played it; for those unfortunates, I will provide a précis.

The specific objects of the game are different for each player, but all involve going around and around the board a seemingly interminable number of times while you complete of an Lp’s worth of peerless pop songs without breaking up the band.

If you choose to be Ringo, you are not allowed to play unless the John and Paul players say you can. You must endure almost the entire game/album’s recording session waiting to move your piece/perform your drum parts and one lead vocal. When you can, you may collect Beatles cards, e.g. “You Learn to Play Chess”, “Have Another Drink” and “Actually Record a Drum Part/One Lead Vocal” to help you on your way. But there are Flip Your Wig cards which cause you to lose a turn, such as “George Sleeps With Your Wife”, “John Patronizes You” and “Paul Does Your Drum Bit When You Go Out For a Curry”.

The John player wins when he gets at least one more song on the album than the Paul player, though these must include two avant-garde pieces and/or odes to Yoko. However, “John” is obliged to play with a Yoko Ono player by his side during the entire game, kibbitzing and oblivious to the taunts and eye-rolling of her fellow players (NB: The Yoko piece is not included in the original game). Examples of Beatles cards helpful to John are “No-One’s In the Studio, Quick Go For It”, “Double Album Needs More Material” and “Yoko Gives You Several Titles to Choose From”. The Flip Your Wig cards include, “Solo Album Uses Up Indulgent Idea” (there are several of these cards), “Acorns For Peace Publicity Stunt Fails To Bring About World Peace” and “In Court Fighting For Custody of Yoko’s Daughter”.

If you are the George player, you win if he gets no less than three lead vocals on the album, one of which must be a raga. This player will more likely be successful if he or she picks up “John On LSD, Very Suggestible”, “Invite Eric Clapton or Billy Preston To Session, Everyone On Best Behaviour In Front Of Company” or “Fly To Bombay, Hire Proper Indian Musicians” Beatles cards. Your job will be a lot harder with lose-a-turn cards like, “Ravi Shankar Publicly Disses Your Sitar Playing”, “Paul Redoes Guitar Part It Took You 17 Hours To Tape,” and “No-One In Studio Knows How To Tune a Sitar”.

The Paul player must simply be the first player to quit after everyone else has quit.

I hope you liked that. Three of you are welcome to come by and play some Saturday night if the family’s watching X Factor.

SAM_0621

Published in: on October 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm  Comments (6)  

Elvis Presley – Strictly Elvis E.P. (RCX-175)

Strictly Elvis is the title of this Elvis Presley ep. Well, what else would it be? Strictly Little Richard? Strictly Jerry Lee? Strictly Chuck? Anyway, our Elvis sings Eko’s favourite outrageously sentimental Red Foley cover for your listening pleasure.

Published in: on October 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother (SKAO382) (1970)

HERTFORDSHIRE FARMER FONDLY REMEMBERS ATOM HEART MOTHER COW AS ‘TENDER, SUCCULENT’               Actual Album, However, Called ‘Fair, Middling’

(Potters Bar, Hertfordshire) – Her name was Lulubelle III and she was “simply delicious”.

So says Hertfordshire farmer Ian Higson of the famous cow on the front cover of art rock band Pink Floyd’s fifth Lp Atom Heart Mother. Higson claims he personally butchered the “tender, succulent” Lulubelle III and served her in “about eighteen” different ways.

“The Rib-Eyes were the best,” he said, licking his lips. “We ate those with roast potatoes and carrots. Jesus, that was good.”

Higson was less impressed with the actual Lp itself, calling it “a transitional album that betrays its casting-about-for-direction a little too desperately.”

In exchange for allowing album designer Storm Thorgerson on his property to take pictures of his herd, Higson said the Hipgnosis photographer brought him a copy of the album when it came out. “We had a listening party on the Hi-Fi that Friday night, got a few beers in, you know,” he recalled. “I thought [the music] was ambitious, especially Ron Geesin’s orchestration. For me, only ‘Fat Old Sun’ stood out.”

According to Higson, gone was all of founder Syd Barrat’s “psychedelic whimsy” as well as (“mercifully”) the “extended improvisation and pretentiousness” of the previous year’s Ummagumma, to be replaced with a “pastoral inclination” which he said was reflected in the sleeve. He cited keyboardist Richard Wright’s “Summer ’68” as “typical of the album. It’s pretty good, and you can hear snatches of melody and techniques put to better use on later, more cohesive albums; there’s just something missing.”

“Frankly, I don’t see how it got to number one in the UK.”

“But the Lulubelle III,” he joked of the slaughtered bovine. “She was number one with a bullet.”

Published in: on October 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm  Comments (5)  

KC and the Sunshine Band – Part 3 (JSL12) (1976)

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Meeting of KC Parish Council held on October 1976 in TK Studios, Florida

Present: Harry “KC” Wayne Casey (Chairman); Richard Finch (Co-chair); Jerome Smith (Clerk); Oliver C. Brown; Robert Johnson; Fermin Goytisolo; Ken Faulk; Vinnie Tanno; Mike Lewis: Whit Sidener; Beverly Champion; Margaret Reynolds; Jeanette Williams.

In attendance: TK Records, members of the public

1.  Apologies for absences: were accepted from Cllrs George and Gwen McCrae.

2.  Declaration of interest by councillors: all present expressed interest in boogieing and booty shaking.

3.  Public adjournment: It was agreed to adjourn the meeting for public comment and questions. The wording of the first paragraph of minute 3 (“I Like To Do It”) in the unconfirmed minutes of the Part 3 meeting was subject to query by members of the public, specifically that the antecedent of the “it” that Chairman Finch would like to “do” with “you” is unclear and subject to misinterpretation. The public understood that the proposal was to “let’s go, you know, let’s party, let’s go get down.”  The Clerk confirmed that these words, or similar, were used in the discussion but that the “it” referred not only to getting down and partying, but implied sexual congress as well.

4.  Chairman’s announcements: The chair expressed that he “was crazy and would do anything to be near you” and further, that he is “a boogie man, that’s what [he is]”, that he is “your rubber ball”and that he is “here to do whatever [he] can”.

5.  Approve/objections minutes from last meeting: Councillors agreed to approve keeping it coming love but objected to the fact that the word “baby” was obviously not being used enough.

6.  Matters arising from minutes: Part 3‘s shortness. It lasts less than 29 minutes.

7.  Report from Community Warden: The warden said he is available “early morning, late afternoon or at midnight, aww, it’s never too soon.”

9.  Planning Committee: Having issued four albums in less than three years, the planning committee agreed to wait a further two years to release another (lackluster) Lp.

10.  Finance and Administration Committee: Part 3 contains two No. 1 singles and a No. 2 single on the Billboard Hot 100; the Lp itself went treble platinum in the US, despite stalling at the 13th position in the album charts.

11.  Reports from Outside Bodies:

  • Robert Christgau gave Part 3 a B+
  • Prince Asbo of Thrifty Vinyl said Part 3 was great, but that that was it as far as KC is concerned.
Published in: on October 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm  Comments (3)  

“You’ll Never See My Face In Kansas City”

The second installment of Thrifty Vinyl’s exciting science fiction pastiche. The first part exists here.

“Welcome to Who Wants To Be a Face?” grandly announced host Mark Wintondale. A smile seemed permanently plastered on his face; under the circumstances, this was far from inaccurate. As always, the theme tune, a piece of appropriate classical music called “I’m the Face” by the High Numbers boomed punishingly in the vast VisualStream studios.

“So, who wants to be a face?” he asked rhetorically, eyebrows raised in expectation.

“We do!” replied the audience, on cue and positively Pavlovian. This was followed by a 10-second, high-pitched “Eeeee!” ululation from the crowd, being a dolphin catchphrase which loosely translates as, “We’d do anything, suffer any humiliation, in order to be famous.”

It had been almost a half century since the show had been conceived to ensure that the New United States of America a) had enough celebrities to grease wheels both financial and governmental and b) that the famous were able to survive long enough to help implement cultural policy.

Of course, people were so programmed to be manipulated through constant exposure to mass media that Who Wants To Be a Face? had easily succeeded on both accounts, indeed, far beyond even the highest hopes of the show’s creator, former Midwest United States Vice-President Tace Greenaway. Greenaway’s plan was as bold as it was far-reaching. First of all, expectations of “normal” human physiognomy were changed over a few generations so that, eventually, apart from eye-colour, any distinguishing facial characteristics were obliterated with post-natal plastic surgery developed by Dermerase™ Corp, leaving only featureless orifices for the requisite breathing, eating, hearing and seeing. At age 16, people were given the opportunity, through a game show, to have a classically beautiful face re-constructed along the lines of the golden ratio; the face was removable and behaved like a mask, allowing wearers to slip safely back into anonymity when not at “work”. Of course, only the smart, biddable contestants with appropriate bone structure made the first cut. A fantastic degree of shamelessness was also required, this was the second and final cut.

And so, Who Wants To Be a Face? sifted a steady stream of supremely craven, desperate humans in possession of high cheekbones from the merely run-of-the-mill craven and desperate in possession of high cheekbones through a series of acts in self-abasement that would make Caligula and Chuck Berry’s love child blush.

Like most of my peers, I wanted to be a “Face” more than anything in the world.

Published in: on October 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm  Comments (2)