Albums Folk New Age

William Ackerman – Passage (371 014-1) (1981)

Sew AgeI heard news of a psychological experiment on the radio last week. Volunteers were played a recording of Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” followed by a tape of some white noise. Listeners were told that at some point the Yuletide favorite would be played underneath the hiss and instructed to press a button when they distinctly heard it; not when they maybe, possibly might have heard der Bingle, but definitively. Of course, “White Christmas” was not played. Nonetheless, around a third of participants pushed the button. While the ostensible purpose of the study was to measure the subjects’ proneness or otherwise to “hallucinatory experiences”, to my mind, it could just have easily been about “suggestibility”.

With this in mind, I set up my own experiment. Back in the ’80s, an Lp featuring a soft-focus photograph on the cover that looked like an image from an inspirational poster, a heavy white border and wistful title set in 36 pt. Century Gothic suggested another infuriatingly relaxing Windham Hill record. I found them simpering, precious and condescending. I was prejudiced, you see. And yet, later, I was keen on John Fahey’s “Primitive Guitar” which, in large part, provided inspiration to the label style. In addition, later still, when Numero Group issued the Guitar Soli record as part of its “Wayfaring Strangers” series of folk albums, I was enamoured.

What gives? Could it be that the imprimatur of Fahey/Numero was enough to suggest to me that some New Age guitar noodlings were acceptable while others were not?

Anyway, for my experiment, I was prepared to listen with a relatively open mind to Passage, a series of guitar pieces by the WH label boss Ackerman, when I found it at British Heart Foundation yesterday. Yes, I may have been prejudiced, but there seems no denying that there is an edge to the early Fahey records, as well as the independent music featured on Guitar Soli, lacking on the Windham Hill stuff, where the precision and in-built delicateness seems to sculpt out any hint of spontaneous performance. It’s as if these gossamer creations were contrived to be the musical equivalent of snowflakes*: perfect pieces of cold, floating symmetry that melt the moment they come into contact with anything warm.SAM_1433

*I have to say this metaphor falls down fairly quickly; snowflakes are actually beautiful and suggest, in their all-too-brief existence, something of life’s impermanence, whereas listening to the fleeting Passage feels simply like a waste of time.

7 inchers Classic Rock

The Four Seasons – “Working My Way Back To You” (PHW1-37525) (1966)

4“Fuck Frankie Vallie!” groused Curtis Anderson aloud as he painted the sideboards in the living room by himself.

WCOL, the local oldiers radio station played “Grease” not more that 45 minutes after broadcasting the Four Seasons’ version of “Working My Way Back To You”.

“Jesus, whoever thought that nasal whine sounded appealing?” he asked with feeling.

Within a minute, the 45-year old builder began singing, “Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion/Grease is the way we are feeling”, a smile on his face.

Albums Beatles Related

John Lennon – Rock ‘n’ Roll (PCS7169) (1975)

SAM_1427Given a discography curtailed by, at first, semi-retirement and, ultimately, assassination, John Lennon’s solo studio output is necessarily small, just eight records. Despite this fact (as well as my Fabs collector mentality [see the Thrifty Vinyl Beatles Related tag passim]), I’ve never managed to own the slain Beatle’s oldies album. Thank you, Cats Protection League for helping breach this milestone.

SAM_1430First edition with what must surely be one of the last “classic” Apple labels, I’ve seen MFP versions of Rock ‘n’ Roll over the years, but the cover is unsatisfactory, IMO.

"Sixeventies" Rock Albums Wimpy Ass 70s Folk Rock

Neil Young – Harvest (1972)

Not the actual cover, but one 12" x 12" section of a fold old contained inside.
Not the actual cover, but one 12″ x 12″ section of a fold out contained within.

Danger Quoting, Being Quoted By Singer/Songwriter MUSICIANS WARNED ABOUT ‘THE CURSE OF NEIL’ BY LOCAL STONER 

(Columbus, OH) — Musicians were today being warned  by area pothead Jeff “Sativa” Bernstein not to make any references whatsoever to Neil Young. While totally baked on Maui Wowie, Bernstein identified what he called a “curse” associated with Young and has made it his mission to advise “all musician not to allude either by name or lyric” to the Canadian singer-songwriter .

“Think about it, like, just for a second,” Bernstein burbled, eyes darting to and fro. “[Lyrnyd] Skynyrd disses ol’ Neil and the next thing…Bang!…half of ’em die in a plane crash.”

“Same with [Kurt] Cobain, man,” he went on, oblivious to the fact that he was late for his south campus pizza delivery job. “He quotes ‘Hey Hey, My My’ in a [suicide] note and sure enough, he blows his head off with a shotgun.”

Speaking from a reclined La-Z-Boy, the lank-haired hippie continued, “That’s some seriously freaky-ass shit.”

Citing Richard Nixon (“Ohio”) and the Beach Boys (“Long May You Run”), Goldstein also pointed out that the veteran rocker can actively curse a subject as well. “It wasn’t but a year or two after ‘Ohio’ that Tricky Dick has to resign ’cause of Watergates,” he explained. “And all of the Beach Boys have either drowned, got cancer, went mental, gone bald or had their daughter screwed by one their cousins.”

“The ‘Curse of Neil’,” he added ominously, shaking his head. “It can’t just be coincidence.”

Lyric sheet. Fold out of the above.
Lyric sheet. Fold out of the above.

NB: One of my earliest ever thrifts. From the Goodwill in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Still sounds great.

Detail of the gatefold.
Detail of the gatefold.
Albums Disco Gospel Soul

The Tymes – Tyme’s Up (RS 1027) (1976)

tymesA parking meter run out of change in a graveyard, the Tyme’s Up cover’s visual gag is less ham-fisted than its smooth, percussion-rich music which features members of not only TSOP (horns and strings) but TSONY (rhythm – “under the outstanding leadership of Bernard Purdie”), as well as a mix courtesy of “father of the disco mix” Tom Moulton. A deft combination of winsome romance, (“If I Can’t Make You Smile”), party disco (“To the Max[imum]”, “Only Your Love”), heartfelt gospel (“Good Morning Dear Lord”) and combinations of the above (“God’s Gonna Punish You”), The Tymes are a long-running vocal group in the vein of the Trammps, Tavares, O’Jays, etc., etc., etc.

Note to producer Billy Jackson, dramatic spoken introductions should be use sparingly.

7 inchers Classic Rock

The Rolling Stones – Five By Five EP (DFE 8590) (1964)

Could This Really Be The Last Time It’s Used?

(Glastonbury, Somerset)  – With the announcement that the legendary group will headline Saturday night’s Glastonbury Festival came another milestone: the West Country Gazette today published the one millionth headline allusion to the Rolling Stones’ 1965 single “The Last Time” in reference to that veteran band’s possible cessation of trade.

“We were going to go with ‘Oo Oo Oo Oo Oo Oo Oo—Lord, We’ll Miss You’,” said elated Gazette deputy editor Jason Barnes on being told about the landmark, “when [headline writer] Brad [Doherty] came up with ‘This Could Be the Last Time’ and we’re like, ‘Dude, Genius!’ It’s as if it were tailor-made for exactly this situation.”

The Stones’ first British single written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards was first utilised to title an article in the September 1967 issue of US teen mag Tiger Beat, when the drug travails/persecution of individual members had effectively kept the band from public performance for over a year. While the Stones would resume touring in 1969, by 1974 every newspaper and magazine in the United States and United Kingdom had used a version of the headline at least once, with most music, youth and entertainment trade magazines deploying it an average of three times a month whenever a new tour was announced.

But could this really be the last time the song title is used as a headline for an article touting the Rolling Stones demise? A spokesman for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. refused to rule out the possibility, saying only it was, “Maybe the last time,” before hastily adding, “I don’t know.”

“Time Is On My Side” [550,000 headlines] , It’s All Over Now [325,000 headlines], “Time Waits For No-One” [185,000 headlines] and “Tell Me (You’re Coming Back To Me)” [99,000 headlines] round out the top five Stones’ break-up/retirement story song-related headlines with “Under-Assistant West Coast Promotion Man” [76,000 headlines] bubbling under at number six.


Albums Americana Blues Classic Rock

The Best of ZZ Top (1977)


(London, England) — ZZ Top, the authors of such gems as “Tush”, “Pearl Necklace”, “Tube Steak Boogie” and “Woke Up With Wood” have found themselves bereft of inspiration of late. That is, until the recent purchase whilst on tour in the UK of Roger’s Profanisaurus – Das Krapital, a compendium of over 10,000 rude words and phrases published by the editors of British adult humour comic Viz. As a result of accessing so many euphemisms and otherwise colourful expressions related to human reproduction, “the lil’ ol’ band from Texas” have written an entire Lp, to be called Stir the Stew, which they expect to record on returning to the USA.

The full track-list is as follows: “Ladypetals”; “Minge Syringe”; “(She Went From) Dashboard to Airbag”; “Doin’ the Waikiki Sneaky”, “Barber’s Bridge Blues”, “The Famous Five Go To Brighton”; “I’m Playin’ Off the Red Tee Tonight”; “She’s As Easy (As A Two-Piece Jigsaw)”; “The Sooty & Sweep Movement”; “Jerk Sauce”; and “(Give Her) A Quick Coat of Paint”.

Albums Americana Compilations Country AND Western Folk Wimpy Ass 70s Folk Rock

Mickey Newbury – Live At Montezuma Hall/Looks Like Rain (7E-2007) (1973)

MickeyWither the live album? Time was when the live album wasn’t a mere souvenir, a wallet liner for some dinosaur’s mega-tour or superfluous bonus disc on an album’s deluxe CD edition, but a genuine re-imagining of an artist’s oeuvre in front of a concert audience. Such is the case with Mickey Newbury’s genial, solo acoustic Live At Montezuma Hall.

ElektrikPerhaps slightly less eccentric musically than its follow-up, ‘Frisco Mabel JoyLooks Like Rain is a likewise acoustic guitar-led slow-burn that shares with that record a thoughtfully burnished musical and world-weary coherence. In fact, another gem. Purchased yesterday from Demelza House in Hythe, this issue comes as a twofer alongside the live Lp.

Originally released by Mercury, the rights to Rain were picked up by Elektra who released two more studio Lps before appending it to the live collection–I don’t think Montezuma Hall is available on vinyl by itself.

The generic Elektra four-color inner sleeve of the time hints at Alan Aldridge-style whimsy.
The generic Elektra four-color inner sleeve of the time hints at Alan Aldridge-style whimsy.

This leaves me two-thirds of the way towards thrifting Newbury’s American Trilogy with just Heaven Help the Child to pick up. Go Asbo!


Albums Classic Rock P-R-O-G spells Prog

Rush – Permanent Wave (1980)


(Rome, Italy) — With a mare’s tail of white marijuana smoke issuing from under his bedroom door, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan let it be known that he and the other cardinals at WVAT’s Album of the Week Conclave have finally chosen the record that the Papal radio station (“Vatican City’s Classic Rock Heaven”) will feature on heavy rotation for the next seven days. Approximately 50 minutes later a phalanx of senior Cardinals emerged from the bedroom with reddened, heavy-lidded eyes and goofy smiles to announce that, “Rush is totally awesome” and “Permanent Wave rocks like a bastard.”

“Dude,” added a slurring Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. “Did you know [Rush] totally ripped off Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sound of Silence’ for that bit in the middle of ‘Spirit of Radio’?”

While Vatican historian Ambrogio Piazzoni was pleased the Conclave selected an Lp from the new world, he one of many who expressed disappointment that such an old Rush album was chosen. “Even [1981’s] Moving Pictures would have been a better pick,” he said in a comically thick Italian accent.

Albums Dance Electronical

Etienne De Crecy – Tempovision (XXLLP 141) (2000)

(Clintonville, Ohio) – Despite owning almost a thousand compact discs, twice as many vinyl albums and 7″’s, an I-Pod with 1,400 hours of music, as well as access to a score of digital radio stations featuring all manner of musics, Clintonville resident Alan Wiess was unable to locate music that precisely suited his mood.

“I want something modern sounding. Not too far out, yet not too commercial either,” Weiss explained from his Brighton Ave. duplex in north Columbus. “It has to sound electronic, without sounding flavor-of-the-month, and nothing self-consciously retro.”DE CRAZY

Weiss pulled several albums out of his collection, including Daft Punk’s Human After All, Ride Da Rhythms 2 by various dancehall artists, Missy Elliot’s Under Construction, Flying Lotus’ Los Angeles, Mungo Hi-Fi’s Sound System Champion, Intrusive Incidentalz Vol. 1 by Ekoplekz and a CD-R compilation of late 90s/early 2000s ragga 7″ singles originally released on Jamiaca’s Xterminator label, which he’d recently received in the post from a fellow music fan he’d contacted on the Blood & Fire message board, only to replace them all.

After almost twenty minutes, Weiss settled on Tempovision by Etienne De Crecy.VISION

Nonetheless, Weiss remained dissatisfied and concerned.

“Obviously, I need to get a lot more music to avoid this kind of situation in the future,” Weiss said, citing the new Bowie album, the vinyl re-issue of Ned Doheny’s Japanese-only Prone, the Freedom Jazz France compilation and several soul LPs as items that would, at least temporarily, plug the gaping hole in his music library and distract him from the infinite spiritual void in his soul.