VARIOUS: Easy Listening (2LP, Polydor 2675 002, ?)

Easy ListeningI love the photographs on this sleeve – a happy female music listener on the front, and a happy male music listener on the back. The gatefold sleeve opens up to reveal nothing more than an overview of other Polydor releases that the keen easy listening fan could purchase: “Polydor and easy listening go together”, it says. So, that means a variety of releases from easy listening heavy hitters like James Last – including All Aboard! With Cap’n James, whose cover shows James Last in naval gear sporting a cheeky, knowing glance, and Bert Kaempfert, Roberto Delgado and Norrie Paramor.

This double album, then, would seem to serve as a taster for the rich world of easy listening that Polydor had to offer – it’s a compilation featuring all of those heavy hitters and more, listed in a gloriously tasteless selection of typefaces on the front cover. It’s a great album, too: I purchased it second hand at some point in the early 1990s, when a wave of easy listening nostalgia was sweeping the UK, most obviously in the form of Top 40 hits by Mike Flowers Pops, but also in a huge number of club nights like Smashing, Blow Up and Disques Vogues that were taking place. For a time, everybody seemed to be wearing charity shop clothing and dancing badly to whatever cheesy-yet-brilliant, richly orchestrated records the DJ could find that week. Maximum enjoyment was reserved for those songs that cranked up the Hammond organ swirl, whipping up the crowd into a frenzy of retro excitement.

There’s no release date mentioned on this record, but I’d imagine it came out in around 1970 or so. The cover states that this double LP set originally sold for 19’10d. According to this handy ‘old money to new money’ currency converter, that equates to around £10, if it were being sold today. That’s kind of a bargain – over twenty tracks over four sides of vinyl! For a time, this compilation was worth a little bit, as it includes ‘Daydream’ by The Gunter Kallmann Choir, which was heavily used as the basis for 2004’s ‘Daydream In Blue’ by I, Robot, which was all over the place that year, as memory serves.

THE CAROLINE KNOW: Nail (7″, Bus Stop BUS012, 1990)

The Caroline Know - NailThis is one of a little batch of records that my Dad once bought for me. He was away on a trip in America – I forget where, New York perhaps? – and decided that I might like some records as a holiday gift. This was a most wise decision! Enterprisingly, he made his way to a record shop and asked the owner to recommend a few records based on some facts about what I was into at the time: I liked indie-pop, I liked seven inch singles, and I seemed to like those records with wraparound sleeves that came in plastic bags. The shop owner picked out around five new releases that fitted the bill and, well, it was a great gift to receive!

I know next to nothing about The Caroline Know. Based on some information gleaned from the sleeve and insert that comes with the record, let’s fire up the ol’ internet to see what we can find out:

  • The band is called The Caroline Know: Seems that they were based in Northampton, Massachusetts, although the contact addresses on the record suggest otherwise. They did live in New York; after that, Northampton. They have a MySpace page.
  • The band includes people called Stephen Rand, Les Labarge and J Loenstein: Very sadly, Stephen Rand passed away earlier this year. My condolences to his friends and family. The J stands for Jim: Jim Loenstein. Google tries to alter this name to Lowenstein.
  • According to the sleeve, the band could once be contacted by writing to 226 East 2nd Street, 4B, New York: Look, that’s here.
  • According to the insert, the band could also be contacted by writing to 102 Bedford Avenue, 2R, Brooklyn, New York: That’s here. Looks nice! I like Brooklyn. There’s a place called Turkey’s Nest Tavern on this street as well; I wonder what it’s like? According to Yelp, they do alcoholic drinks in a jumbo size, and offer an absinthe margarita!

I’ve quite a few records on the Bus Stop label, and they’re one of the labels that I’d like to gradually collect everything from. There’s a partial discography, and brief introduction to the history of the label, here.