Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Comeback of the vinyl 45

If the Independent on Sunday is to be believed (and who could doubt such an august institution) the vinyl single is making a comeback. Apparently many of today's bands prefer the format to downloads, CDs and the rest and are releasing their product in the traditional way. I hope so. Like rock and roll itself, it seems that vinyl will never die.

As an aside, it seems, paradoxically, to get harder and harder to sell vinyl on eBay. There's just too much of it around. Having said that, I've just exceeded my record price for an eBay sale: it's almost inevitably a Beatles record - a White Album with a low number ( 0005388) which I bought for £4 and sold for £123. Pic shows the record with one of the original insert photos of George Harrison.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Way out West

The pick of this weekend's car boot sale finds has to be Way Out West by the magnificent Mae West, which was released on the Stateside label in the UK in 1966. Outrageously camp and over the top, Mae moans and mumbles her way through such classics as Treat Her Right, When a man loves a woman, Shakin' All Over, N-n-nervous, Twist and Shout and Boom boom. With a fairly solid backing band behind her she brings her own unique mixture of double entendre and sheer outrageousness to the album. Well worth a listen, especially if you, like me, are a fan.

The best (in fact the only) 45 I picked up this weekend was Johnny Cash's Down the Street to 301 on London. Not his best Sun recording, but good all the same. I also found some collectable Lee Perry originals by the Upsetters and others on Trojan, plus an early Gregory Isaacs LP and a Lee Perry album entitled Roast Fish Collie Weed and Corn Bread on a Jamaican label which was apparently rejected by Island at the time. So, despite the rain, not a bad weekend, boot sale wise.

Talking of the rain, I'm glad I wasn't at Glastonbury. But I would have loved to have seen John Fogerty, who really rocked. His set was shown on BBC Four last night. Absolutely brilliant. What did I do before I got satellite TV?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Boot sale buys

As ever I've been frequenting car boot sales in search of records. It's not easy these days but I've found quite a few of interest. I sell what I can if I don't want to keep them (Beatles LPs for example and a prog LP by Michael Gibbs currently) and keep what I like. Recent bargains have included early Capitol 45s by Tommy Sands and Faron Young, some ska and rocksteady singles including one by Prince Buster on Stateside, an EP by Doris Troy on Atlantic, a couple of London demos, an obscure 45 by a girl group from Madagascar called Les Surfs and an LP by Lee Dresser. He is a new name to me, and the album is rather middle of the road, but apparently he recorded some rockabilly with the Krazy Kats at one time and I would be interested in finding out more if anyone knows anything about them.

Meanwhile I've been visiting charity shops and the continuing sale at Reckless Records in Berwick Street, which now appears to have been reborn as Revival Records. There are few new bargains to be found there, but I can't complain. I've bought quite a few excellent LPs at half price, plus some 45s by the likes of the Chantels, the Count Victors (great 60s garage), the Rip Chords, Tony Bellus and an EP by Charlie Gracie on Parlophone.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nellie Lutcher

I have to admit that I have always assumed that she died long ago, but in fact Nellie Lutcher lived to the ripe old age of 94 and died last Friday. Born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Nellie was, I suppose, primarily a jazz singer and pianist, but she played an important role in the early development of R and B, having performed with Ma Rainey while still a child and recording some classic early R and B 78s for Capitol including Fine Brown Frame and Hurry on Down. She survived into the early days of 45s but little was heard of her after the late 1950s. Photo shows an LP recorded for Liberty in 1956 and released in the UK on London which shows off her versatility. For more info look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nellie_Lutcher

Friday, June 08, 2007

Porretta getting close

The Porretta Soul Festival is getting closer and I'm looking forward to seeing the Tribute to Stax's 50th Birthday, with Booker T & the MGs, The Blues Brothers Band with Eddie Floyd, Sir Mack Rice, Toni Green, and some names less associated with Stax, but equally of interest, Betty Harris, Sugar Pie DeSanto and Jimmy McCracklin. As a taster, here are some pictures from last year's festival, which starred Irma Thomas, the Neville Brothers, Bobby Purify, Howard Tate and Davell Crawford..

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Freddie Scott RIP

Freddie Scott, who recorded Hey Girl, one of the most beautiful and haunting soul records of 1963, has died aged 74. He followed it up with a similarly atmospheric version of Ray Charles' I got a woman, also released on Colpix in the UK. He recorded some middle of the road stuff, before moving on to Bert Berns' Shout label, where he recorded the wonderful Are you lonely for me baby? and some other excellent tracks including a version of Cry to me. Later he recorded an LP for Probe entitled I shall be released, but that was about it for one of the forgotten great soul men of the 60s until a a comeback album called Brand new man in 2001. Farewell Freddie. Check out this obit in the Independent http://news.independent.co.uk/people/obituaries/article2617422.ece

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Great albums

This week the media seems obsessed with celebrating the anniversaries of two of the biggest selling albums of the last 50 years - the Beatles Sergeant Pepper, which came out 40 years ago, and Bob Marley's Exodus, which was issued 30 years ago. I don't think anyone would deny that both of these were important albums, but whether they quite deserve the praise they constantly receive is perhaps another matter. Coming from an age when the single was what really mattered, and when LPs were more often that not just a collection of hit singles, it's difficult for me to judge what were, or were not, great albums. I can appreciate that Sgt Pepper was a concept album, and one that worked very well, but that was a concept that somehow passed me by. I would rather have an album packed with great tracks, regardless of whether they hung together or not.
Of those LPs which often make up people's greatest ever lists there are few that I like or even own. There's Pet Sounds of course, and the early Dylan LPs, but mostly the LPs or CDs that get regularly played by me are compilations by several artists, usually soul, blues or ska acts, or collections of great tracks by artists like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Al Green and the other greats of the 50s and 60s. So whilst I have hundreds, if not thousands of LPs, and several hundred CDs, it's the 45s that really get to me - a perfect two minutes of heaven on a seven inch disc.