The Gil Evans Orchestra – Out of the Cool (MCA-5653) (1961)

"Oh, hi there, sorry you just caught me doing a spot of arranging."

“Oh, hi there, sorry you just caught me doing a spot of arranging.”

Some collectors will grumble that it’s the 1986, digitally-remastered, non-gatefold, redesigned-typeface version of Gil Evans’ classic, but not me. Even though I’m a big fan of his work with Miles Davis, which just preceded this release, I’d never felt compelled to venture into Evans’ catalogue as leader. Out of the Cool it not the blissed-out state of affairs suggested by the title, nor is it, without Davis, as punchy, edgy or as grandly orchestrated in the uniquely updated big band style of Miles Aheadet al. As thoughtfully arranged, dynamic and melodic as those earlier records, Cool remains, if anything, a slightly bluesier enterprise, with plenty of space for some fine improvisation. Reminiscent of Charles Mingus’ Columbia sides. In the end, it is, simply, a terrific listen.

Three quid from Oxfam in Folkestone.

Published in: on October 18, 2014 at 10:51 am  Leave a Comment  

The Hour Glass (UA-LA013-G2) (1973)/ Duane Allman – An Anthology (2CP 0108) (1972)

SAM_0576The liner notes accompanying this compilation of the Hour Glass’s two Lps could hardly be more baldly dismissive, beginning with the opening paragraph (“The music on these two records is not very good”) and carrying on in like fashion from there (“Far from being the story of why the Hour Glass was such a fine band, it tells us more about why they were not“). In fact, writer Ben Edmonds’ attitude towards this charming pop-soul double album has more to do with place and timing than artistry.

A little background. The Hour Glass represents the first commercial output of Allman brothers Duane and Gregg. Despite having been in the business for a few years, the boys were manipulated in classic “I’m-gonna-make-you-a-star”-style into moving to LA dressed up in the hippy gladrags, having songs picked out for them and being allowed to perform only for a few high-profile gigs. As a result, the band was broke and culturally overwhelmed with a sorely misrepresentative repertoire, all of which left them more than a little frustrated and bitter. I think Edmonds’ liner notes reflect the band’s still fresh resentment rather than the music, which is actually quite good, certainly as good or better, thanks to the band’s considerable chops, than most Blue-Eyed Soul of the time. I got this three weeks ago in Hythe for a pound.

SAM_0577Not two weeks later, I picked a companion piece at the Ashford bootfair. Alluded to in glowing terms in Edmonds’ brush off, Duane Allman – An Anthology contains a couple previously unreleased Hour Glass tracks, notably a blues medley highly rated by the band, that indicate where the brothers were headed. SAM_0594In addition to a side’s worth of AB highlights, An Anthology also includes songs which feature Duane as sideman, such as Wilson Picket’s “Hey Jude” and Boz Scaggs’ “Lend Me a Dime”.SAM_0595

Published in: on October 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

kode9 + the space ape – “kingstown [vox]” b/w “kingstown [dub]” HYP003 (2005)

The first 10" to feature the space ape; Gordon's previous single was under the pseudonym 'daddi g', swapped presumably to avoid confusion with the similarly named chap from Massive Attack.

The first 10″ to feature the space ape; Gordon’s previous single was under the pseudonym ‘daddi g’, swapped presumably to avoid confusion with the similarly named chap from Massive Attack.

Yesterday comes the news that the space ape, aka daddi g, aka Stephen Samuel Gordon has died. The above 10″ was given to me as a birthday present from my friend Nick, late of this parish, and began (along with DMZ’s “Officer”) a half decade immersion in modern electronic music.

I would come home from work at lunch and crank kode9 + the space ape’s single, “Backward” in particualar as a way of clearing the cobwebs, Gordon’s deep apocalyptic and paranoid intonations paradoxically giving me strength to keep going. RIP.

Published in: on October 3, 2014 at 10:33 am  Leave a Comment  

The Replacements – “I Will Dare” b/w “20th Century Boy” and “Hey Good Lookin'” (TTR-8440) (1984)

SAM_0589On the precise 30th (!) anniversary of the ‘Mats breakthrough Let It Be, a reminder of what a buck could get you in the used record store bins (specifically Magnolia Thunderpussy) back in the late 80s.SAM_0590The Bolan cover is arguably better than the original, the Hank, much less so.

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Four Tops Story (TMSP 1124) (1974)

SAM_0586Handy, not especially rare double Lp compendium of eight years worth of FT highlights. For a band that perpetrated plenty of filler on those latter M’town albums, not to mention subsequent ABC/Dunhill ones, Story represents good value for money (esp. if you’re only spending a pound as I did). Unlike the Temptations’ roughly contemporary treble disc Anthology, which included inappropriate pop-crossover material like “Ol’ Man River” and “Try To Remember”, there was no room here for Gordy’s “grown-up entertainment” experiments from On Broadway, so misguided dreck like “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” and “The Sound of Music” was sensibly airbrushed from history.SAM_0587It’s interesting to note that most of the post-1967 singles heard on sides 3 and 4 did not follow the barrel-chested, full-throttled pleading style of the band’s initial successes, but trod a more thoughtful path; again, unlike the Temps who went all funky.SAM_0588

Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 9:44 am  Leave a Comment  

The Latin Jazz Quintet (UAL 4071) (1961)

SAM_0584The presence here of Coltrane sideman/multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy was enough to secure £1 purchase today of this piece of early Sixties exotica. In fact, Dolphy blowing in a manner suggestive of the free jazz, raises this a cut above your average loungecore pandering (the silly “Cha Cha King” excepted). Highlight: a polyrhythmic romp on Dizzy’s evergreen “Night In Tunisia”.SAM_0585

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 1:46 pm  Comments (2)