Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bad news for roots vinyl collectors

There's more bad news for collectors of original 50s and 60s vinyl in the newly published Record Collector Rare Record Guide (the 2016 edition no less). Prices of many rock and roll and pop records from that time have been tumbling for several years and the latest guide shows a continuation of that trend. Meanwhile, values for progressive rock, psychedelic, some reggae, jazz  and punk, and Northern soul have held up or increased. The revival of  vinyl in the form of reissues and new product doesn't seem to have affected the values of original collectables that much, so far as I can see.
The gradual decline in values of original rock and roll records is vividly illustrated by Joe Bennett and the Sparkletones' two HMV 45s from 1957 which have declined from a peak of £250 each for mint copies  in the 2006 edition to £100 in the latest book. Unfashionable artists such as Brook Benton, Brenda Lee and Connie Francis have seen a drastic reduction in the number of their records making the list at all, not helped by the decision to increase the lowest value for LPs in the book from £12 to £15. Only one 45 by Brook Benton now qualifies for an entry (plus two with Dinah Washington).
Meanwhile there have been dramatic increases in values for other artists. The first pressing of Led Zeppelin I now weighs in at £1500, compared with £500 in 2006. First pressings of the sought after stereo version of the Beatles' Please Please Me LP has doubled to £6000. Interestingly the book is still the same size, but it is now bunged up with valuations of minor variations of promo records by more modern bands such as the Manic Street Preachers and Radiohead.
I'm sure a close inspection of my own collection would show quite a steep drop in the overall values. But there's some good news for some of the records that I've acquired over the years which I thought might be worthwhile investments. My most valuable LP is the Parlophone LP We Are Everything You See by Locomotive which now comes in at £1000, compared with just £200 in 2006. Most valuable 45 appears to be the pre-Who Zoot Suit by the High Numbers, which is also now rated a £1000 disc, compared with £350 in 2006. I continue my searches at car boot sales and charity shops and who knows what might turn up!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lauren and Robin RIP

There have been a couple of high profile deaths this week of people who, although not musicians,were major stars and definitely worthy of a mention and the raising of a glass on The Vinyl Word.
I was quite a fan of Lauren Bacall, whose early films with Humphrey Bogart showed her at her smouldering best.Her husky voice and sultry good looks meant that she made an unforgettable film debut in To Have And Have Not and followed this with three further movies co-starring with her soon to be husband - The Big Sleep, Dark Passage and Key Largo. Later films included How To Marry A Millionaire, North West Frontier and Murder On The Murder Express and remained a major movie star until her death, aged 89.
Much has been written about the depression suffered by Robin Williams which eventually led to his suicide at the age of 63. He was certainly a funny man and an impressive actor, first in Mork and Mindy and later in such hit films as Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting and Mrs Doubtfire. Yet there was always a manic edge to his performance which seemed on the verge of exploding into something uncontrollable. He will be missed.
There have been a couple of deaths in the music world which deserve a mention as well.
Henry Stone, who was 93, may not be a household name, but many of the soul and disco acts that he recorded and produced in his Miami recording studio are. His career began in the late 1940s and in 1951 he recorded a young Ray Charles on St Pete Florida Blues, before having success with The
Charms' Hearts Of Stone, released on De-Luxe. His own labels included Dade (with Latimore's early recordings), Alston (co-owned with Steve Alaimo, which had success with Betty Wright's Clean Up Woman) and Glades, which enjoyed success with Timmy Thomas and Latimore's biggest records.. His most successful label was TK which had enormous disco success with former warehouse worker KC and the Sunshine Band. Stone was known as the King of the Transhippers through his Miami-based Tone distribution company and had an arrangement with Jerry Wexler, who wrote a glowing tribute, which is covered in full in John Broven's Record Makers and Breakers.
The Vinyl Word also raises a glass to New Orleans-born drummer Idris Mohammed, who was 74. Although primarily a jazz man, playing with the likes of Lou Donaldson and Pharaoh Sanders, he made his first mark by playing drums on Fats Domino's 1956 hit Blueberry Hill. And, following prompting from my son, comedienne Dora Bryan, whose sole contribution to the world of music was the dire All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle in 1963.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Music and sunshine at the Summertime Swing

Laurie London was just 13 when he had a smash hit in the UK and the USA in 1957 with He's Got The Whole World In His Hands. After failing to find an equally successful follow up, he gave up the music business and disappeared from public sight for decades. But now he is back, looking well, singing strongly and with a nice line in humour in between numbers. Laurie was one of the stars of the 10th annual Summertime Swing, located in the gorgeous grounds of Saint Hill Manor near East Grinstead, the UK headquarters of the Scientologists, which took place on a beautifully sunny day. Backed by the excellent seven piece swing band the Jive Aces, as were all the acts, Laurie began with Take The Hand Of A Fool and followed with Hank Williams' Cold Cold Heart and This Little Light Of Mine, before finishing with his 1957 smash. In between numbers he amused the crowd with jokes about DJ for the day Mike Read (the son of Tony Blackburn, he suggested) - see photo below - and members of the band. Very good he was too.
The Jive Aces are the instigators of this annual one day event and they provided the audience with some great swing tunes, including All The Cats, Beyond The Sea, Ain't Misbehaving and the self-penned La Dolce Vita. They were supported by musical theatre star Cassidy Janson and guest trumpeter Antonio Socci and their enthusiasm and humour made for a great afternoon's entertainment.

First guest act on stage were the East Grinstead Ukelele Club who, Mike Read said, had travelled literally yards to be with them.
Also on the bill, and putting on an excellent show, was Woodies favourite Vince Eager, another artist whose career began in the 1950s. He kicked off with Such A Night and followed with Gumdrop, It's Only Make Believe and Mean Woman Blues. Highly enjoyable.

Further musical entertainment was provided by Ray Gelato, whose swing act fitted perfectly with that of the Jive Aces. His set included Whisky On the Shelf, Nosey Joe, Dean Martin's Everybody Loves Somebody (a duet with Cassidy) and I Want To Be Like You.
Here's another photo of Laurie London.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Dave Williams goes Into The Blues

I'm looking forward to reading the new book by Dave Williams entitled IntoThe Blues. This is his second effort and, like his first book The First Time We Met The Blues, it's sure to be a laugh from beginning to end. Dave is a life long blues fan (no clue in the titles of his books then!) and has met numerous blues men and women over the years. His interest goes back to the early 60s when he first met the likes of fellow blues author John Broven. As well as his many trips to the US, he's also travelled extensively elsewhere and is a keen angler and cricketer. According to the sleeve notes subjects include childhood, travel, cricket and fishing and the book comprises 13 'tall man tales' recalling musical adventures and the characters encountered en route.
He threw a launch party last night which was very enjoyable and included a live band, with Bill Moodie on harmonica and Dave adding some additional vocal interjections. (see photo below)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Nolan Porter at the 100 Club

It was good to be back at the 100 Club last night for an evening of Northern soul with LA resident Nolan Porter backed by British soul band the Stone Foundation. It was the first time I'd been there since its recent renovation. There may be more photos on the wall, the loos may be marginally better, but it hasn't changed: the place was packed and as hot and sweaty as ever, the way a good music venue should be. I wish the sound was better though.
Nolan Porter proved to be a dynamic performer with an engaging smile and bulging eyes, wearing a hat and scarf throughout on what was one of the warmest evenings of the year. His two best known numbers, Keep On Keepin' On and If I Could Only Be Sure (which he dedicated to his friend and mentor Johnny Guitar Watson), both from the early seventies, were sung with aplomb, as were the other numbers in his set, which included Oh Baby, I Like What You Give, The Fifth One, Darrell Banks' Somebody (Somewhere) Needs You, Van Morrison's Crazy Love, Fe Fi Fo Fum, and a great version of Brenton Wood's Gimme Little Sign, before finishing with Jumping Jack Flash.
Nolan has recorded some of these numbers with the Stone Foundation, whose earlier set showed that that they are loud, unsubtle but very effective at putting across their soulful numbers, with three horn men and an excellent singer in Neil Jones. Highlights included Right Time Right Place, Don't Let The Rain, Hold On, When You're In My World and, particularly, their final number That's The Way I Want You In My Life Baby.
It was a highly enjoyable evening and I wish there were more such nights at the 100 Club, as there used to be in the distant past.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

James Govan and others - RIP

While I've been away at Porretta there has been a spate of deaths, including that of James Govan, aged just 64. I first saw James at Porretta in 1997 and made a point of catching his brilliant soul singing the following year when I visited Memphis. James played regularly at the Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street, home of the original Stax sign, and I saw him several times on subsequent trips to Memphis, the last time being in October 2011, when he was clearly unwell. James had a great soulful voice and I recall that his version of I've Got Dreams To Remember brought lumps to my throat when I saw him in 2008 (see photo). Born in Mississippi, James played with a group called The Vans when he was spotted by George Jackson who took him to Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals. Mickey Buckins produced a number of records by James including Wanted:Lover, but none of them were hits. In the 1980s he recorded some classic tracks at Muscle Shoals, including Uphill Climb and Jealous Kind and his first album I'm In Need appeared in 1996, followed by  A Night on Beale in 1998. Ace issued Wanted, a collection of mainly unissued Fame recordings, in 2013. In later years he refused to play at Porretta as he seemed keen not to jeopardise his gig at the Rum Boogie Cafe, but seeing him in his own environment was one of the great pleasures of trips to Memphis. He will be missed.
No visit to New Orleans is complete without a visit to Jim Russell's Rare Records on Magazine St so it's sad to hear that Jim Russell has died aged 94. Jim's role in the early days of rock and roll is considerable amd he claimed that he was the one who alerted Alan Freed to the potential appeal of what was known as 'race' music to a white audience. After losing his job for playing black music on a whites only station he moved to New Orleans and his rambling record shop became a mecca for record collectors. Chatting to him a few years ago he said that he was the man who taught Millie Jackson to talk dirty! Last time I visited, just over a year ago, the shop was being run by his daughter in law Denise and was in a poor state, with water coming through a couple of holes in the roof. Here's an MTV video of Jim talking about his early life and the music he loved.
It's farewell, too, to blues guitarist Johnny Winter, who has died aged 70. From Beaumont, Texas, Johnny, brother of Edgar Winter, made his first record aged just 15 and in 1967 he recorded a version of Tramp with Roy Head's band the Traits. His big break came in 1968 when he moved to Chicago and met Mike Bloomfield. His first solo album came out the following year with support from Willie Dixon and Walter Horton and he went on to record many other albums and produce those by Muddy Waters after the fall of Chess. Johnny's guitar style was a little too shrill for me, but he was undoubtedly one of the blues greats. He appeared at many festivals in UK and Europe and was found dead in Zurich two days after appearing at a festival in France.
The Vinyl Word also raises a glass to actor James Garner, who has died aged 86. He was one of the stars of the comedy Western TV series Maverick, which was one of my favourite TV shows of the late 1950s, and went on to become a major film star in movies such as Move Over Darling, The Great Escape and Boys Night Out. In the 1970s he starred as Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files and continued making movies through to 2010.
RIP also to bluesman Nick Charles, who played with Billy Branch and the Sons of the Blues, as well as many of the blues greats such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and to Tommy Ramone, last remaining original member of the Ramones.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Porretta day 3, plus photos

Another exciting and stimulating Porretta Soul Festival has come to an end. Sunday's show was, as usual, a reprise of the acts who had taken part during the previous two days with a couple of surprises along the way. Kicking off events were the excellent Frank Bey and the Anthony Paule Band with an hour's deep soul and blues, with Frank singing no fewer than five numbers that were new to the show. Highlights were I Just Can't Go On Livng, a song written for him that would have done James Carr proud, particularly the way that Frank performed it, You Don't Know Nothing and I Got No Bed For My Soul. Great stuff once again. Other fresh numbers were I Want To Change Your Mind and That's What Love Can Make You Do.
The Muscle Shoals All Star Band returned to the stage for the rest of the evening and provided fantastic backing for the other acts, who were allowed just one or two numbers to show what they could do, beginning with Carla 'Kosmic Mama' Russell with a couple of Staple Singers songs, I'll Take You There and Respect Yourself. Next was a surprise, with Muscle Shoals percussionist Mickey Buckins giving a more than adequate rendition of Dark End Of the Street, followed by Theo Huff (When A Man Loves A Woman), Chick Rodgers (Natural Woman), Chilli Bill Rankin (A Change Is Gonna Come) and Jerry Jones ( Mustang Sally). Denise Lasalle performed Drop That Zero and My Toot Toot, with a whole bunch of people on stage, and Guitar Shorty exchanged guitar licks once more with Muscle Shoals guitarist Will McFarlane. Then it was Toni Green with Bustin' Loose and If Loving You Is Wrong, followed by a highlight, a duet with Vaneese Thomas on Do Right Woman. Vaneese then introduced a large group of teenagers from the Quincy Avenue school in Denver onto the stage for a gospel number before going solo on I'm Your Puppet and an energetic Old Time Rock and Roll. Jimmy Hall really got the crowd going with great versions of Funky Broadway and Land of 1000 Dances, before the whole cast came on stage for the traditional finale of Sweet Soul Music. Another great night at Porretta. Long may it last..
Here's a selection of photos from the three days of the festival. First, here's Carla 'Kosmic Mama' Russell.
This is up and coming soul man Theo Huff.
This is Vaneese Thomas.
Here is Jimmy Hall, formerly of Wet Willie.
The wonderful Denise Lasalle.
The find of the show for me (where has he been over the years?) Frank Bey.
Here is Guitar Shorty.
This is Chick Rodgers.
Here we have the Queen of Porretta, Toni Green.
Two dynamic performers, both individually and as a pair, Jerry Jones and Chilli Bill Rankin.
Ace guitarist with the Muscle Shoals Band Will McFarlane.
Muscle Shoals percussionist and occasional vocalist Mickey Buckins.
Finally, two great soul stars together - Toni Green and Vaneese Thomas.