Nightmares On Wax – Carboot Soul (WARP CD 61) (1999)

SAM_0417DON’T CALL US ‘TRIP-HOP’, SAYS TRIP-HOP GROUP

(Leeds, England) – Desperate for his band not to be pigeonholed, DJ George Evelyn of the top Trip-Hop band Nightmares on Wax, has pleaded for critics not to categorise the group in the “Trip-Hop” genre.

“Trip-Hop is all about coffee-table, downtempo electronica utilising samples and breakbeats and influenced by dub and soul we’re more mellow, narcotised ambient DJ music featuring tape loops and beats with elements of remix culture and R&B,” he helpfully explained.

According to Trip-Hop pioneer Evelyn, “Portishead, Massive Attack and DJ Shadow are way more Trip-Hop than us and, anyway, we aren’t even Trip-Hop.”

“But at the end of the day, I don’t really like labelling things,” the Trip-Hop artist added.

SAM_0418NB: £1 this morning at Bernardo’s in Hythe.

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Published in: on June 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Band – Moondog Matinee (1973) and Northern Lights-Southern Cross (1975)


Screen shot 2014-06-08 at 16.26.47Pity The Band. They made two of the best records ever and then only made good records after that.SAM_0415Taken on their own terms, Moondog Matinee and Northern Lights are enjoyable and successful albums; in context, they pale somewhat. Moondog is an oldies record with verve aplenty, though loosening up what were originally fabulously concise recordings takes some getting used to. Northern Lights features analogous, slightly inferior versions of previous songs: so oddball love song “Jemima Surrender” becomes the amusing enough lost-love “Ophelia”; the oblique, yet aching history of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” becomes the linear narrative of “Acadian Driftwood”; “It Makes No Difference”‘s straightforward sense of loss is the new “Tears of Rage”, etc. What’s missing is the group’s singular thrill of discovery and its off-kilter, but dynamic and perfectly judged sense of timing, melody and proportion. Simply put, they’d lost their natural eccentricity. It’s probably understandable.

SAM_0414These two cds cost me a quid apiece yesterday. I photographed them in their plastic cases, in spite of aesthetics, to demonstrate that sometime in 2001, HMV could get away with charging £17 for a simple re-issue compact disc because someone would pay it. I bought Big Pink and the brown album around the same time, but no way would I have forked out that much.

Published in: on June 8, 2014 at 3:44 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  

Mos Def – Black On Both Sides (1999)

SAM_0390In the course of thrifting, I always appreciate finding what is obviously a curated collection. Such was the case when I was with Grampa Asbo the other day in Sandwich and Deal and I found a clutch of pound-a-piece, high-quality turn o’ the century hippity-hoppity see dees. Unfortunately, several pieces I would have had were thrashed (e.g. Jungle Bros’ Forces of Nature), but several others were in fine shape.

I spent a decade and a half wishing Hip-Hop would just go away until I had a eureka moment listening to the U Brown toast during the second half of the 12″ version of the Chantells’ “Children of Jah” (Phase 1). Appreciating Brown’s polyrhythmic musicality and lilt, I “got” hip-hop that instant and a new world opened up. Many rappers allude to reggae, though the crossover is most explicit on Soul Jazz’s excellent Nice Up the Dance.

Black On Both Sides is Mos Def’s solo début and almost all killer. Blending live instruments (many played by Mos himself) and samples (among others a twisted, barely recognisable “Marcus Garvey” by Burning Spear), Black creates a warm, socially conscious vibe–it’s easy to like. Rawkus in the house.

The Gang Starr best of comes highly recommended. Unlike most greatest hits, Full Clip manages to play like a proper album and covers the Golden Age decade during which the duo began plying its trade. There are only a couple duplicates from Step In the Arena, the only other Gang Starr I own. Top drawer.

The Beastie Boys all-instrumental The Mix Up is an also likeable, but slightly underwhelming, affair; a rich man’s indulgence by players who know their limitations. Slinky, funky mid-tempo grooves prevail with hints of the Meters and lounge core.

And also a Pixies comp.

Published in: on May 24, 2014 at 3:06 pm  Comments (6)  

Quasimoto – Yessir Whatever (STH2326) (2013)

SAM_0170AREA DECORATOR ABSURDLY PROUD OF MUSIC HE LISTENS TO WHILE DECORATING

(Columbus, Ohio) — Columbus painter/decorator Cory Nara, 48, doesn’t just paint your rooms or paper your walls, he “provide[s] a stimulating, challenging aural environment with the seriously high quality music that plays while I work.”

Unlike most local workmen, Nara isn’t content to play CD101, WLVQ-FM96, or “any of that ‘done-to-death’ oldies crap” usually associated with the building trade. So along with his brushes, paints and tools, he brings his iPod (“Everything from AC/DC to Jay-Z,” he laughs.) and state-of-art BeoPlay A8 docking station by Bang & Olufsen.

“If I arrive for work around 8am, I’m usually good to go by 9:30-10, depending on how long it takes to program a playlist and find the optimum ‘soundspace’ for my set up.” The latter is more difficult than it might first appear since as often as not the rooms in which Nara works are empty. “Unless I install some noise absorbing panelling on the walls,” he explained, “you get a horrible echo that totally swamps any EQ-ing I’ve done, and actually makes it sound too loud.” If Nara is doing outside work, he brings stand mounted JBL speakers and a bass bin hooked up to 400 watt SPL power amp.

Deciding the right music takes plenty of time, too. “I have to think about not only my mood, but the client for whom I’m working, the time of day, what I’ve already listened to that week…God, so many variables to consider,” said handyman Nara.

The self-employed father of two was more than happy to open up today’s playlist: songs from Heart of the Congos by the Congos; Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s Mecca and the Soul BrotherSatan Is Real by the Louvin Brothers; Brown Sugar by D’Angelo; King of the Delta Blues – Robert Johnson; Step In the Arena by Gang Starr; Warren Zevon’s self titled debut; Double Nickles On the Dime by the Minutemen; Ming Dynasty – Charles Mingus; Quasimoto’s Yessir Whatever; Michael Head – The Magical World of the StandsBack Country Suite by Mose Allison and a compilation of House Music from 1988 to the present compiled by his son were just some of the choices set up to play while he edged a Bexley house’s living room.

Nara derides workers who just play popular radio calling it “junk food for the ears.”

“Especially when you consider what’s available, not just on CD, but through streaming, downloading and so on, not to mention the amazing compilations of brilliant, obscure releases that are so easily accessible, there’s just no excuse these days to listen to music of anything less than the highest quality. ”

“That ‘McMusic’s’ not good for you,” he claimed. “Some people might say that it’s like dressing up in an Armani suite to go to the post office, but I say that people should have more respect for themselves.”

After work, Nara plans to spend tonight getting blind drunk at Rudy’s Tavern on Summit Street playing “Wrecking Ball” on repeat on the bar’s jukebox.SAM_0171

Published in: on November 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Radiohead – Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001)

SAM_0120NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM ‘ALL BONUS TRACKS’

(London) –  Social media sites went into world-wide meltdown yesterday with news of a December release date for Radiohead’s ninth studio record. The British band announced on its website that the forthcoming album will be made up of nothing but bonus tracks.

The official press notice read: “Normally when producing an album, we ‘over-record’ and file away those songs we believe aren’t quite ‘up to snuff’ onto b-sides, hidden songs, charity CDs, free downloads, bonus tracks, etc. In the present case, we felt that none of the 22 numbers completed during sessions for our new album were good enough to go on a proper Radiohead release, so we have chosen to append all of them as bonus tracks.” Fans were quick to praise the alternative group’s “generous spirit” online, with amnesia_kid’s Twitter assessment that, “rhead let’s [sic] fans see there [sic] inner workings–wotta band!!!” typical of most responses.

The as-yet-untitled no track 2CD/3Lp record has been called by the band, “probably our most sonically adventurous album to date” and comes available in a deluxe, box-set version shaped like a decommissioned nuclear power station featuring eight bonus bonus tracks of Phil Selway drum loops not used on the regular bonus tracks.

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Editor’s note: I got these two “experimental” Radiohead CDs for 50p a pop at Wincheap bootfair in the same batch as the Gorillaz discs. I’ve never been too hot on Radiohead, but one of my children was playing “Everything In Its Right Place” and something else and I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I enjoyed it. Whether I bother with any more R’head is another matter.

Published in: on October 22, 2013 at 8:14 am  Comments (2)  

Charlie Chaplin – Ras Portraits (RAS 3318) (1997)

SAM_0119THE THRIFTY VINYL NAME GAME                                       True Stories of Stars’ Names and How They Came To Be

The story goes that, shortly after the singer was born, a dyslexic administrator entered Morrissey’s details incorrectly into the Salford hospital’s computer, not realising that Stephen-Patrick was the well-to-do vocalist’s double-barrelled surname and Morrissey his Christian name. According to his just released autobiography, Autobiography, he became known as “Morrissey” because he was so-called by masters at the posh private school he attended in the wealthy Stand area of Manchester during the 1970s. “I became one of those rarefied few popstars known only by their first name,” he quipped, “like Madonna or Jesus.”

Morrissey’s revelation put us at Thrifty Vinyl to mind of the popular musicians who’ve changed their names and the many strange and amusing stories behind these noms du rock. Here are just a few:

  • Marc Bolan wanted to be called Bernie Schwartz in homage to his favourite actor Tony Curtis. But producer Tony Visconti nixed the name, calling it “still too Jewish” for the singer born Mark Feld, and withheld the master tapes from his début album Jeepstar until the elfin Glam Rocker plumped for the slightly more goy-sounding “Bolan”.
  • 90s Reggae DJ Charlie Chaplin was not named for the famous silent film actor/director/producer, rather as a tribute to a local pharmacist in the parish of St. Ann’s, JA.
  • Coincidently, Bob Dylan chose his name because of a Hibbing, MN pharmacist also called Charlie Chaplin.
  • Reg Dwight, aka superstar Elton John, picked up his pseudonym from a young Ben Elton, for whom the struggling pianist worked as nanny, and the toilets (or “Johns”) where he regularly cottaged before marrying long-time boyfriend David Furnace.
  • The Viscount and Countess Gaga were dismayed when their rebel teenager renounced the family’s inherited title and changed names to plain old Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. However, their joy knew no bounds when, at age 20 and settled down, their wayward offspring reclaimed the royal sobriquet we’ve come to know so well, Prince.
  • Cadbury scion and heir Marshall Mathers was given the nickname “M&M” because of the constant boasting in which he indulged about his family’s chocolate-funded wealth. He says he later legally changed his name by deed pole to a phonetic version of the famously un-melty candy “as a badge of honour.”
  • Gary Glitter recently released a song under his own name, Paul Gadd, fearing a public backlash. Funds from the “Old Enough To Bleed (Old Enough To Breed)” single, which scraped the UK Top 20 in August 2012, went to the much-misunderstood singer’s legal defence fund.
  • When Carl Palmer left ELP, Keith Emerson and Greg Lake tried and failed to hire Ian Paice as replacement so they wouldn’t have to change the office stationary. Later failing to convince both ELO’s Bev Bevan and Yes’ Bill Bruford to change their surnames to Pevan and Pruford respectively, they had to settle for cell-phone car-crash tragedy drummer Cozy Powell out of the Jeff Beck Group.
  • Born Ringo Starkey in 1940, the Beatles drummer is, of course, famously illiterate. As a result, Fabs manager Brian Epstein misread the sticksman’s poorly scrawled signature as “Starr” on the grossly unfair contract he made the band sign, and he was forever known as such.

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Editor’s note: inspired by the 50p Ashford Pilgrim’s Hospice purchase of Chaplin’s 90s comp.

Published in: on October 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm  Comments (6)  

Gorillaz

Hey Hey We're the MonkeysThe CD fightback continues apace with this Sunday Wincheap bootfair purchased Gorillaz bonanza. I’ve always like G’z singles and so this lot will do for an unrivaled computer playlist. My younger son already has third Lp Plastic Beach. Included are albums Gorillaz, Demon Days as well as compilations G-Sides, D-Sides (2 CDs) and Spacemonkeyz versus Gorillaz’ Laika Come Home.  I also got Albarn’s Chinese Monkey opera. All for 50p a pop.

But what’s the deal with the simian thing?

Published in: on October 7, 2013 at 9:53 am  Leave a Comment  

The Very Best of Éthiopiques (mantcd245) (2007)

SAM_1719HIPSTER DECLARES “CDs ARE THE NEW VINYL”

(Columbus, Ohio) – Citing the lack of decent second-hand product and a higher retail profile, area coffee shop employee Claude Barnet has declared the “era of the vinyl revival” over.

“With of all these Johnny-Come-Lately overfishing,” Barnet explained, “there’s nothing worth having at any of my Thrift Stores or Flea Markets.”

“I mean, I can only look at so many Kenny friggin’ Rogers records,” he added bitterly.

Barnet also blamed the internet for allowing people to research their Lp collections and sell them at inflated prices. “I had hoped that there would be a ‘race to the bottom’,” the bearded barista recalled. “You know, with a huge stock, prices would be forced down as everyone competed for sales.” But it hasn’t panned out that way and Barnet claims record sellers are charging “like ten bucks for a crappy, used No One’s Gonna Change Our World budget line re-issue. It’s a joke.”

When you add to that new and re-issued vinyl’s increasing market share, the hipster is being squeezed out.  “And, of course, now big High Street retailers like HMV have gotten in on the act and started selling vinyl again,” complained Barnet. “I mean, Christ, you can buy Kylie Lps and ABBA re-issues these days!”

The good news is that now everyone’s getting rid of their compact discs.  “I’ve bought loads lately,” he enthused. “Including a sweet two-disc Éthiopiques comp and a deluxe Trouble Man soundtrack CD that I’d never have gotten on stupid old vinyl.”

Barnet also praised CDs’ digital clarity (“none of that awful, distracting crackle”), convenience, ability to hold a considerable number of songs, bonus tracks as well as their informative booklets and scholarship.

“Yep, CDs are definitely the way of the future,” Barnet said thoughtfully, adding, “At least until the cassette thing takes off.”

Published in: on September 29, 2013 at 11:34 am  Comments (6)  

Burial – Untrue (HDBCD002) (2007)

SAM_1698Thanks to blogger and one-time musical partner Gutterbreakz, I developed an uncharacteristic jonez for the Dubsteps long about late 2005. I say uncharacteristic since, not only am I a gentleman of a certain age who should leave such racket to the yout’, but my electronic music library/understanding is relatively small and uninformed. Nonetheless, something about the music touched me (perhaps its links, sonic and physical, to dub reggae and Bristol, respectively) and, over the next 4 years I set about regularly buying Tectonic plates, Punch Drunks, white label refixes, etc., etc., entertaining myself with lonely bass weight sessions in the stereo room at Chez Asbo. None of my contemporaries or neighbours were interested. The few times I ventured into DS club nites were certainly musically edifying (the punishing volume adds impact, weight and substance), but socially less so.
SAM_1699Anyway, I often wondered when I would make my first Dubstep-Charity Shop purchase. And so it has come to pass. Of course, in my reveries, the buy involved copies of the first ten DMZ 12″s, but a £1.25 cd from The Shelter in Hythe of Will Bevan’s woodblock bothering second (and, at present, last) album which sent Boomkat into such paroxysms half a decade ago will do. (Other reveries involve finding J. Coltrane’s complete Impulse! oeuvre, so let’s say my daydreams don’t hew very close to reality–still, I get chills thinking about the possibility). I already own Untrue on 2xLp, but the cd, in decidedly oldskool fashion, has four tracks not on the vinyl. I hesitate to call them bonus tracks since, interestingly, the cd’s playlist has been given a reshuffle, offering a different listening experience to this unique, crepuscular record.SAM_1700

This quote from Derek Walmsley in The Wire explains Burial better than I can: “Inspired by the darkside drum’n’bass of the Metalheadz label, Burial decided at the outset to avoid at all costs the rigid, mechanistic path that eventually brought drum ‘n’ bass to a standstill. To this end, his percussion patterns are intuitively arranged on the screen rather than rigidly quantized, creating minute hesitations and slippages in the rhythm. His snares and hi-hats are covered in fuzz and phaser, like cobwebs on forgotten instruments, and the mix is rough and ready rather than endlessly polished. Perhaps most importantly, his basslines sound like nothing else on Earth. Distorted and heavy, yet also warm and earthy, they resemble the balmy gust of air that precedes an underground train.”

Published in: on September 2, 2013 at 7:36 pm  Comments (2)