Carlos Santana/Mahavishnu John McLaughlin – Love Devotion Surrender (69037) (1973)

SAM_0634It takes some cojones to tackle John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”, but that’s exactly how Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin kick off their mega-spiritual Love Devotion Surrender. The pair goes on to bookend side one with a likewise heavy spiritual jazz response to JC’s anthem called “The Life Divine”. What must Santana fans have made of this?

Santana is, of course, no stranger to overplaying, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is, given its jazz-rock impetus, an all out note-fest at times, with none of the pop flavour of his titular band. And yet, in the context of a prayer offering to both the Divine and John Coltrane, such indulgence makes perfect sense. Something of a transmutation to the guitar of Coltrane’s “sheets of sound”, Love Devotion Surrender is held together harmonically by organist Larry Young, who allows Devadip and Mahavishnu to launch into note torrents, particularly on side two’s joyful “Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord”. And there is time for respite in the form of “Meditation” and another Coltrane cover, “Naima”; with what comes previously, both have the feel of post-coital cigarettes. A challenging and rewarding listen.

An original UK issue, with a gatefold cover, fantastic condish, only a pound.SAM_0633

Published in: on January 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm  Comments (2)  

“It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” b/w “Through The Lonely Nights” (RS 19114) (1974)

SAM_0628

While I love the Stones’ famous apologia on the a-side, it was the non-Lp flip that caught my attention here and a fine county-style ballad it is too. Given it’s overall sound (esp. Mick T’s prominent ‘wah-wah’ guitar) and the fact that it was co-produced by Jimmy Miller, I wonder if “Lonely Nights” is from an earlier session, possibly those for Goat’s Head Soup; it made a much later appearance on the exceptionally feeble Rarities 1971-2003 compilation.  Many thanks to “Sue” for donating this to charity.

Published in: on January 16, 2015 at 10:18 am  Comments (1)  

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  

Bruce Springsteen – “Born In the USA” b/w “I’m On Fire”, “Rosalita” and “Johnny Bye-Bye” (TA6342) (1984)

SAM_0473I’m off to the USA tomorrow for a family vacation. I would like to post, as usual, when I’m out there, but I’m not sure of the computer situation. Rest assured, however, that I will indeed be scouring for cheap vinyl product whatever thrifty stores and flea markets southern Massachusetts has to offer.

Incidentally, the 12″ above was purchased from a boot fair in Hythe for 50p; the contentious title track has been remixed (a 7-minute “Freedom Mix” [?!] by 80s post-production moron Arthur Baker) so the drums sound even more egregious than previously and what little subtlety lay in the Viet-Nam-vet-comes-home-desparate story is mown down in completely inappropriate electro stutter; “I’m On Fire” on the other hand, might be might favourite song on that divisive, yet massively popular, Lp.

Published in: on July 30, 2014 at 4:13 pm  Comments (4)  

Rolling Stones – “C***ksucker Blues” b/w “Brown Sugar (alt. version)” (SPE 4504)

SAM_0465AREA HIPSTER UNSURE WHETHER OR NOT TO LIKE ROLLING STONES

(Columbus, Ohio) — Faced with the band’s varied and contradictory cultural signifiers, Clintonville hipster Cyril Hogben is not sure whether or not he should like the Rolling Stones.

“Well, for a start, they’re really popular,” explained the part-time OSU journalism master’s student. “Normally, this would mean the kiss of death for the hipster, but we’re a contrary breed and so, I could actually like the Rolling Stones precisely because they’re popular.”

“There are also some desperately mediocre lowlights in the band’s canon,” he continued. “I’m thinking of things like, “Where The Boys Go”, “She Was Hot”, Dirty Work, that sort of thing; which I could easily like because they’re so bad. Unfortunately, there are also many, many assuredly great songs and albums, which I could only appreciate with fulsome genuineness, an emotion anathema to the moral relativist.”

Further complications arise from the Stones changing sartorial style: “They dressed so fantastically trendily during their first flush of success in the mid-1960s that it’s impossible not to love (or dismiss as calculated) their look,” Hogben stated. “Likewise, they looked so ridiculously tragic during most of the 80s that it’s similarly hard not to love (or dismiss as calculated) that look.”

When it comes to the band’s behavior, hipster judgement is also vexed, alternating between revulsion, admiration and moral detachment. The average hipster just doesn’t know what to think regarding the Rolling Stones’ drug use, authority flouting, establishment embracing, misogyny, professionalism, lack of professionalism, blues championing, money grubbing and staying power.

“If only the Stones were really unpopular and bad, like, say, Mick Jagger’s solo albums,” smiled Hogben. “Ironically, those are some records I can get behind ironically.”

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Editor’s note: I was given this charming contractual obligation piece about life in the big city a couple years. It is, of course, nonsense. I thought the b-side featured Eric ” ‘God’ ” Clapton on lead gi-tar, but other sources say it’s Ry Cooder.

Published in: on July 21, 2014 at 6:33 pm  Comments (2)  

Rolling Stones – “Mixed Emotions (Chris Kimsey’s 12″)” b/w “Fancyman Blues” (CBS 655193 8) (1989)

SAM_0438The previous few years sniping*, non-touring and solo Lps had threatened to put paid to any new Stones product; so, when this single (and parent Lp Steel Wheels) came out, it was greeted, despite annoyingly loud drums, as a welcome comeback for the Rolling Stones. No, it wasn’t “Brown Sugar” and Sticky Fingers, but at least it wasn’t “Winning Ugly” and Dirty Work.

These days, my most vivid memories associated with Steel Wheels were of the album’s non-Lp B-sides, “Cook Cook Blues” (from the “Rock and a Hard Place” single) and the “Mixed Emotions” flip, “Fancyman Blues”. My friend Jon and I used to play these Bs at a bar a few doors down from my place on Summit Street near the OSU campus. The name of the bar escapes me at the mo’, but I’ve been told it’s since become a lesbian club, or maybe it always was and has only recently come out.

The 12″ version of “Mixed Emotions” (or “Mick’s Emotions”, as one wag put it) is jumbled and, truth be told, a bit of mess, reminding us that Sixties survivors tended to be ill-served by the 80s remix. Not a particularly valuable piece, but, for a pound, I was quite pleased to find it this morning at the Wincheap boot fair.

*Asked when the bitching between him and Jagger was going to stop, Keith Richards is supposed to have replied, “Ask the bitch.”

Published in: on June 22, 2014 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Big Star – 3rd (VACK-1298) (1975)

SAM_1747One pound for the 2006 Japanese CD issue of the ultimate pop cult artist’s ultimate pop cult album in a mini-LP replica card sleeve with a printed inner and lyric sheet in Japanese & English? You bet I will.SAM_17493rd (aka Sister Lovers) was recorded in 1974, the quartet reduced/expanded to a duo/gaggle of session men. Having previously perfected an incisive, yet winsome writing/ performing/production style (let us call it Power Pop, for the sake of argument) 3rd was, infamously, sabotaged by leader Alex Chilton for reasons too perverse, personal or, indeed, psychologically complex to understand. For good reason is it compared to Plastic Ono Band, Tonight’s the Night and Who By Numbers. In the end, the recordings were too harrowing to release commercially and sat, dejected, on Ardent’s naughty step for four years until a clamour of voices from the New Wave, recognising a kindred and desperate love of both pop and self-flagellation, rose up and enabled its necessarily cobbled release. Fourteen years later, Ryko issued a resequenced version, including five worthy bonus tracks from the original, ramshackle sessions. It is a very good record and recommended to anyone who appreciates outsider pop art.

My ears aren’t fine enough to tell if this 2006 re-issue is the same remaster as the 1992 Ryko or not, it’s certainly the same tracklist order; logic suggests it should have been updated.
SAM_1748I might have the story wrong here, but I believe the tradition of Japanese album issues being that much better than their US/UK counterparts goes back to the early 80s/late 70s when unfavourable exchange rates meant that import albums sold at a fraction of the cost of domestic product. In order to make local albums more appealing for sale, Japanese manufacturers made it a point to utilise original tapes for remastering and include lyrics, posters, etc. where there’d been none. This was particularly useful for albums whose lyrics were indecipherable, e.g. Exile On Main Street.

Published in: on June 5, 2014 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  

The Rolling Stones – “Start Me Up” b/w “No Use In Crying” (RS 21003) (1981)


SAM_0402One of the last great pieces of sexist Stones iconography, though I’m having difficulty putting my finger on exactly what constitutes “sexist” here. It just seems wrong somehow. Anyhow, the image originally appeared on the inner sleeve of what is generally regarded as their last great (or acceptable, depending on your level of worship) album, Tattoo YouSAM_0403Tattoo You was a big deal at the time. After the success of Some Girls, 1980’s Emotional Rescue had been something of a disappointment (though I still rate at least half of it), despite being their first UK #1 Lp since 1973. The band chose not to tour behind ER, unlike Some Girls, so, despite nearly two decades as the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band®, it kinda felt like make or break time career-wise. Fortunately for them, Tattoo You delivered and with “Start Me Up”, they had their last great signature song. I picked this up last weekend for 50p–still sounds boss, as does the bluesier B.SAM_0404Apart from Mick ‘n’ Keith, none of the other Stones appear on the cover of Tattoo You; they’d tried a similar stratagem with Goat’s Head Soup, though on that one at least Bill, Charlie and Mick T. featured in the inner gatefold. Interesting for an act whose demeanor is so tied up with the notion of being a band, or better, a gang, that they promoted themselves as a two-man show.SAM_0405I got the Tatto You patch around 1981; however, it wasn’t sewn onto the obligatory Levis Jean Jacket until years later when Mrs Asbo did the honours. My youngest son rocks it these days.

Published in: on June 2, 2014 at 6:26 pm  Comments (1)  

Linn County – Fever Shot (134 223 MCY) (1969)

From the Thrifty Vinyl 60s Archives

SAM_0388POLICE FALSELY ARREST SIXTH CALI ROCK BAND    Yet Another Group Of Long-Hairs Mistaken For Manson Family
          (San Fransisco, California) –  Little-known San Francisco blues-rock band, Linn County, were released without charge yesterday after their arrest on suspicion of being the notorious Manson Family. According to Police Chief Brian McGuffey, one member was “a dead ringer for Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, but it turned out to be the band’s drummer, Jerome McAndrew.”
          “All these goddam long-hairs look the same to me,” McGuffey continued. “Hirsute, unwashed and reeking of marihuana.”
          “Lord only knows how their fans tell them apart,” he added.
          The arrest follows similar incarcerations of the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, the Steve Miller Band, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Kak. SAM_0389Editor’s Note: Above average blues-rock from transplanted Midwest band. I bought this yesterday on a thrifting trip with Grampa Asbo. He’s something of a bibliophile–the apple don’t fall too far from the tree.
Published in: on May 23, 2014 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  

The Grateful Dead – Live/Dead (WS.1830) (1969)

SAM_0377GARCIA ‘NOT GRATEFUL TO BE DEAD’ CLAIM

(Heaven) — You would have thought, that having named his band The Grateful Dead, deceased guitarist Jerry Garcia would have been pleased as punch shuffling off this mortal coil.

But nothing could be further from the truth, and nearly two decades on from his demise the dead head Deadhead proclaimed himself, “bored to tears of the Afterlife” in a celestial interview yesterday.

“Frankly, I miss playing music with my friends,” he sighed. “And it’s just not the same in Heaven since all of the other dead Grateful Deads here only play keyboards.”

The self-styled Captain Trips added that he’s “very much” looking forward to the deaths of ex-bandmates Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann to “jazz things up a bit up here.”

“At least I don’t have to see Pigpen since he’s in Hell,” Garcia smiled.

SAM_0379Editor’s Note: Having been force fed Dead in my youth, I’ve been relatively slow coming round. I still think their singing is mediocre at best, but I’ve picked up a few GD pieces over the years, all of which I enjoy. I got Live/Dead a few weeks ago in trade at a second record store in Canterbury. Unfortunately, the second disc turned out to be warped beyond playability. When I returned the album, the shopkeeper just said, ‘Keep it’ and gave me store credit.SAM_0380I’m keeping it for the first record, which has a lovely version of ‘Dark Star’, and the cover.SAM_0381