Albums Disco Soul

Sisters Sledge – Circle of Love (K50097) (1975)

SAM_0762Since Messers Edwards and Rodgers prized a cool, almost mechanical vocal approach, the Sisters’ later, very popular Chic Organization-produced Lps, effectively disguised what fabulous soul singers they were. Featuring surprisingly tough music and, given their tender ages, remarkably mature singing, the Sledges’ strong, well-programmed début seems to have had a lot of care and attention lavished on it. Touches of Philly Soul colour proceedings to dramatic effect. If early period soul-disco is your thing, buy with confidence–What a great record!SAM_0763From the same pound-a-piece batch as the Eno below.

"Sixeventies" Rock Albums Compilations Soul

Chicago – Chicago IX – Chicago’s Greatest Hits (CBS 69222) (1975)

SAM_0743As refreshing as an ice-cream on a sunny day (with about as much nutritional value), Chicago’s Greatest Hits takes late-period Beatles pop innovation to a warm, post-hippy, soft rock conclusion: wistful “Getting Better” existentialism (“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”); “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” ponderousness (“25 or 6 to 4”); blissed-out, blue-eyed soul à la “Got To Get You Into My Life” (“Make Me Smile”); the crooked smile descending chromatics and sunshine psychedelic observations of “You Won’t See Me” and “Penny Lane” respectively (“Saturday In the Park”); “Because”-style icy harmonic lushness (“Wishing You Were Here”); etc, etc. That all of the above are lyrically banal matters little.

Despite spanning six years, as many albums and featuring three different lead singers, the often horn-driven Chicago IX compilation serves the band well and stands as a satisfying, summery listen in its own right.SAM_0742

Co-incidentally, I’d been moved to covetousness re Chicago on hearing an excerpt of “25 or 6 to 4″ on Family Guy only last week. When this popped up at a Tenterden chaz for the unholy sum of £3 Saturday just gone, I took it as a sign, threw thriftiness to the four winds and purchased it forthwith. The cover pastiches the sentimental American illustrative realism of the Saturday Evening Post‘s Norman Rockwell. Quite appropriate, really.

Compilations Soul

The Golden Sound of Motown (World Records) (1980)

SAM_0668I might not have picked this 8-Lp World Records box set were it not for the persuasiveness of the guy at the chaz selling said item. I know he knows what he’s talking about (and there was another record boffin there from whom I’ve purchased several items at boot fairs discussed in these pages), so when he reckoned these were excellent pressings (and the other chap confirmed its relative rarity), I was sold. Not that I needed that much selling, but £6 for 8 discs (how’s 75p per album for thrifty vinyl!) is not so bad.

I’ve only listened to the first two records and I can confirm that not only do they sound great, but are really well programmed.SAM_0669While this track listing on the inside of the box makes it look like a seven record set, there is a ‘bonus’ album included entitled The New Sound of Motown featuring Rick James, et al.SAM_0672Normally World Records has classier  graphics than those on display here. Perhaps the monumental nature of the task was simply overwhelming for the WR art department and they went for a fairly crass K-Tel look.SAM_0670In case there was any doubt as to the quality of the product…

Albums Compilations Soul

The Best of Percy Sledge (ATC 9160) (1969)

More death. I got this in Margate a couple weeks ago.
NB: I’ve been asked by all musicians and their wives to stop buying their product. They’re calling me Prince ‘Touch of Death’ Asbo.

"Sixeventies" Rock Albums Americana Blues Classic Rock Compilations Soul

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

Albums Soul

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

Albums Blues Jazz Soul

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 (ICD 9)

SAM_0470High-calibre party music showcasing the Crescent City’s ‘R&B Spectrum’, masterminded by Allan Toussaint and abetted by a crack house band.
SAM_0469Featuring live performances by Toussaint himself along with local legends Irma Thomas, Earl King, Lee Dorsey, Ernie K-Doe, Robert Parker, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Professor Longhair, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1976 has the feel of a revue.
SAM_0471Interestingly, the performances by King, Dorsey and Parker had to be re-recorded in a N.O. studio due to some technical glitches with the live recordings on the day. It’s possible that sponsors Schlitz (whose flagship beer [‘the beer that made Milwaukee famous’] had, by this point, lost a lot of its lustre as a result of some fairly brazen manufacturing costcutting) had ponied up for a 2-album set and so post-production was thus required. Ex++ condish double Lp, only a pound!

 Notice how I didn’t resort to writing N’Awlins at any point. 🙂

Albums Soul

Four Tops – Second Album (TML11021) (1965)

SAM_0443Another Lp that looked absolutely caned which, when deep cleaned with warm water, scrubbed up really well. After one listen, I think I prefer this one to Reach Out, whose attempts to broaden artistically (e.g. “Walk Away Renee” and “Cherish”) blanche somewhat. SAM_0444I just got this from Cats Protection in Hythe for a pound while all manner of vintage cars and army vehicles, girl guides and cubs, brass, ukulele and bagpipe bands, not to mention local dignitaries and festival queens, paraded down the High Street to open the town’s annual Venetian Festival this morning.

Albums Blues Compilations Soul

Young Jessie – Don’t Happen No More (JMANLP 068) (2014)

SAM_0442ALL BACK TO MY PLACE                                                                  In Which The Stars Reveal the Sonic Delights Guaranteed To Get Them Going…

PRINCE ASBOEx-pat American writer, raconteur

What music are you currently grooving to?

I listen to all kinds of music constantly, so that’s almost impossible to answer. Not counting thrifted Lps, my favourite recent purchases include Young Jessie Don’t Happen No More, an absolutely belting Jukebox R&B comp and the Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings box set of John Coltrane’s Classic Quartet, apart from discs six and seven, which are unlistenable.

What, if push comes to shove, is your all-time favourite album?

Sorry, but it has to be Revolver. Wildly experimental, yet concise, accessible pop. It is the template.

What was the first record you ever bought? And where did you buy it?

The American soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night at the Goodwill Store in Mount Vernon, Ohio. My first retail purchase was Some Girls by the Rolling Stones at Woolworths.

Which musician have you ever wanted to be?

[original Beatles bassist] Stuart Sutcliffe. Only I’d practice bass like mad and stay in the band. And get the brain tumor sorted out, obviously.

What do you sing in the shower?

“Beyond Belief” by Elvis Costello. Lots of range in tone and style on that one, plus amusing lyrics.

What is your favourite Saturday night record?

Depends on the mood, but something “up”. Could be Hip Hop, punk or maybe some disco; Mrs Asbo always chooses the La’s album.

And your Sunday morning record?

I listen to BBC Radio 3 on Sunday mornings to help me recover.



Albums Disco Jazz Soul Soundtracks

Isaac Hayes – Tough Guys (ENS-7504) (1974)

SAM_0440This soundtrack to Paramount’s Three Tough Guys composed, conducted and performed by Isaac Hayes features more jazzy blowing than other 70s black action film music I’ve heard. Given that Hayes (who also starred in the film) is generally considered in possession of a pretty weak solo catalogue, it is a surprisingly engaging listen; better than the overly-lauded Shaft soundtrack I would have said. Rhythm by The Movement, strings by The Memphis Symphony Orchestra. 8/10.SAM_0441Gatefold, nicked at the top, otherwise NM condish, it cost one a pined when out thrifting yesterday with the elder of the two junior Asbos.