Tag Archives: various

VARIOUS: Impact: The Breakthrough To The Exciting World Of Stereo Sound (LP, Columbia STWO 2, 1968)

Various - Impact The Breakthrough To The Exciting World Of Stereo Sound

I have quite a number of these ‘demonstration’-type records, no end of them were released through the 1960s and 1970s to show off the worlds/galaxies/spectra/etc of new stereophonic (or, in some cases quadraphonic) capabilities of, at the time, modern music-playing equipment. Most of the ones that I own were bought in the 1990s, during a time when I – like many others – influenced by a strange combination of Britpop, kitsch and Stereolab, scoured charity shops for records that might include a glimmer or two of easy listening excitement. The hit rate is generally pretty low with these records, but what they do offer is a tiny glimpse into what may have been spinning on the stereograms of shagpile-carpeted, wooden-panelled ‘dens’ or listening rooms during a very decadent time in history.

Here’s the track listing for Impact: The Breakthrough To The Exciting World Of Stereo Sound. Your call on whether any or all of the below represent a breakthrough, or indeed something exciting:

Side One

  1. David Rose And His Orchestra: ‘The Stripper’
  2. Norrie Paramor And His Strings: ‘Soul Coaxing’
  3. Mr. Acker Bilk And The Stan Tracey Big Brass: ‘Stranger On The Shore’
  4. Pepe Jaramillo And His Latin-American Rhythm: ‘Sucu Sucu’
  5. Franck Pourcel And His Orchestra: ‘Love Is Blue’
  6. Ron Goodwin And His Orchestra: ‘Legend Of The Glass Mountain’

Side Two

  1. Joe Loss And His Orchestra: ‘Wheels’
  2. The Norman Newell Orchestra: ‘Live For Life’
  3. Basil Henriques And The Waikiki Islanders: ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’
  4. Ralph Dollimore And His Orchestra: ‘The Fool On The Hill’
  5. Manuel And The Music Of The Mountains: ‘A Man And A Woman’
  6. Jack Emblow (Accordion): ‘Ritual Fire Dance’

It seems that every Joe, Ron and Norman had their own orchestra back in the day. The tracks of note here are Mr. Acker Bilk’s swingin’, sexy and ever-so-slightly-sleazy ‘Stranger On The Shore’, the rhumbas and cha-chas of Pepe Jaramillo’s ‘Sucu Sucu’ and Joe Loss’ ‘Wheels’ respectively, and the marvellous Hawaiian gliding melodies of Basil Henrique’s reading of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’.

The cover artwork bears the familiar, strident logo of Columbia sub-label Studio 2 Stereo, with the dynamic Impact text offset by the bizarrely staid and serious-looking typesetting of ‘The Breakthough To The Exciting World Of Stereo Sound’. No design credit is given on the sleeve, but the photograph used – which shows ‘glass fracture by shot gun pellets’, apparently, although it’s quite hard to tell – is courtesy of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, a ‘British research establishment’ that in time was subsumed into the Ministry of Defence. Friends in high places, these easy listening types!

VARIOUS: Crystallized: Celebrating 15 Years Of Rocket Recordings (2LP, Rocket Recordings LAUNCH060, 2013)

Various - Crystallized

I bought this two-album set very recently, after discovering the outstanding weirdo noise outfit Anthroprophh and taking myself on a Spotify-led journey through various releases and connected bands. After being somewhat blown away by the sounds on this compilation when listening online, I read that the physical release came on spattered clear/black vinyl and featured a die-cut sleeve, and needed no further convincing.

It’s a superb collection for anybody that’s into out-there sounds, distorted noise rock/Krautrock/space rock or, indeed, experimentalism in all its forms. Rocket Recordings have carved out a niche as a label with high standards of quality control and releases that include rather a who’s who of the recent modern (real) psychedelia scene, such as Teeth Of The Sea, Gnod, Shit & Shine, Goat and Anthroprophh (all of whom appear on Crystallized) and White Hills, Oneida and Mugstar.

The vinyl here is a joy to behold: two slices of clear space with smeared black/white spatters emanating from the centre. The artwork, too, is special: credited to Luke Insect (who has worked on a vast range of music packaging that stretches from The Prodigy to Wolf People via Young Knives), it consists of digitally-treated illustrations of intersecting shards of crystal, printed in silvery-grey and black and coming together in the held-aloft centrepiece on the sleeve’s front. The shape being held up on the cover is die-cut into the sleeve, meaning that the content of the shape’s interior can be changed at will to a selection of images across the two records’ inner sleeves. On the rear sleeve, an exact replica of the shape – nice attention to detail there – is printed as a black backdrop to the track listing. It’s a great looking artefact.

Anthroprophh, by the way, constantly remind me of the movie Anthropophagous, an unpleasant 1980 horror about “an insane, violent, and grotesque killer that slaughtered the town’s former residents”. This was one of the films to appear on the infamous 1983 ‘DPP list‘ – aka the video nasties list – created by the UK Director of Public Prosecutions as a knee-jerk reaction to the lack of rigid certification of video cassettes at the time. Since then many of the films on the list have been released with varying levels of cuts – a market still remains for avid collectors who seek out ‘pre-cert’ video cassettes of the original releases. I once collected a few of these, and subsequently gave them away to a local charity shop: visitors to that branch of Oxfam may have got an unexpected surprise while browsing the shelves…

Links: Rocket Recordings

VARIOUS: The In-Kraut Vol. 2 (2LP, Marina MA 67, 2006)

Various - The In-Kraut Vol. 2

After many months of living with a jumbled record collection, I finally organised everything into alphabetical order over the past couple of days. (LPs, 12″s and 10″s, at least – the 7″s can wait until another time…)

Part of this process inevitably meant reminding myself of records that I forgot I owned, or that I had no previous recollection of owning. This double album is an example of the latter – I’ve got no idea when I bought it, or from where. Not that that means much, as I’ve a Swiss cheese-like memory; but the record’s date of issue (2006) means, I guess, that it entered my life at some point during the past seven-or-so years.

Compilation albums – which are, of course, in a separate section to the main A–Z stream of my newly-alphabetised collection – are interesting things. The way I listen to them tends to mean I gloss over the individual artists and musicians involved, and instead lump the whole thing together and attach a broad-brush ‘feeling’ to the record. The feeling attached to The In-Kraut Vol. 2 (at least now that I’ve given it a couple of listens to refresh my memory) is one of nostalgia for heady Easy Listening-drenched days in the mid-to-late 1990s. Obviously this record came out later, but it’s still packed full of (mainly instrumental) fuzz guitar/organ freakout/funky/library music/soundtrack/comedic/’jolly and optimistic 60s/70s attitude’ in its twenty songs.

The rather questionable compilation title at least does the trick of summing up its subtitle, ‘Hip Shaking Grooves Made In Germany 1967–1974’. To be honest, the source of the recordings is pretty moot, as this type of music sounds the same regardless, except for in the case of a couple of songs here with German-language lyrics which have, at least, a kind of bizarro charm.

For those that might be interested, the artists featured are:

  • Paul Nero
  • Hugo Strasser
  • Christer Bladin
  • Ambros Seelos
  • Tommy Haggard Orchestra
  • Hazy Osterwald Jet Set
  • Charly Antolini’s Power Dozen
  • James Last
  • Mary Roos
  • Klaus Weiss Orchestra
  • Hildegard Knef
  • The Dometown Gang
  • Rolf Wilhelm
  • Joy & The Hit Kids
  • Dieter Reith
  • Carlos Fendeira
  • Kai Rautenberg & Orchester Jürgen Ehlers
  • The Inner Space
  • Uli Roever
  • Hase Cäsar

Not too many well-known names in that list – for me, anyway – except for James Last, who is in fact German, despite his records routinely popping up in UK charity shops for the past couple of decades.

The artwork for the record, by Stefan Kassel, is pretty standard Easy-Listening-Compilation-Sleeve stuff, but a nice example of it – well-chosen, happy-looking female fashion photographs on a simple block colour background, plain and simple typography, and a splash of excitement in the front cover’s bottom left German flag-referencing concentric circles. It’s a gatefold sleeve, and opening it reveals an aspect of this compilation that’s rare in the field – detailed liner notes on each of the tracks it contains. Good work! The records are also pressed on white vinyl, which affords them a stylish mod sensibility.

Links: Marina

VARIOUS: Touchdown (LP, Fontana TOUCH 1, 1982)

Various - Touchdown

Funny old compilation album, this one – record labels used to do quite a lot of ‘themed’ albums in the 1980s, although often more musically similar in theme, rather than having an out-and-out thread that tied together a disparate collection of bands. Touchdown isn’t a collection that’s built around the idea of the Moon landing; or somehow related to American football – it isn’t really even bands that all have the instrumentation pictured on the front cover’s rather fetching illustration. The theme here seems to be ‘bands from the early 1980s that were all doing, to varying degrees, a kind of spiky, energetic post-punk-pop music’. It features…

  • The Higsons
  • Farmers Boys
  • Animal Magic
  • Popular Voice
  • Maximum Joy
  • Vital Excursions
  • Dislocation Dance
  • Design For Living
  • Pinski Zoo

…and each band gets a track. A few of those names are familiar from some dusty old editions of Record Collector, perhaps, but it’s The Higsons that’s most likely to be oddly familiar. They featured Charlie Higson, who would of course later go on to forge a very successful career in comedy, becoming a key part of the team behind The Fast Show as well as having a hand in many other shows. You can even see him, as a cheeky youngster, in a photograph on the back of the sleeve. He looks very ‘of the time’ – short, messy hair, a rough-looking shirt/denim combination that reminds of the days before all non-mainstream band members wore t-shirts and jeans 95% of the time, and instead had to make do with what was then available in shops. That looks remind me, very specifically, of seeing bands appearing in the middle of episodes of The Young Ones.

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.

VARIOUS: Streetsounds Electro 2 (LP, Street Sounds ELCST 2, 1983)

Various - 'Electro 2'

I picked up this record at some point within the past few years, either in some charity/second-hand shop somewhere, or from eBay. Having taken the opportunity to investigate my eBay history to see whether it was the latter, I realise that said history seems to effectively end – for me, at least – at December 2006. Items purchased before then are listed only by their IDs, rather than with the full details of what the item was. That’s kind of a shame, I think, as I would have enjoyed digging into the past and seeing what I had previously purchased and when. I guess it has to be that way, to stop the eBay servers exploding under the sheer weight of information that comprises every piece of data about every purchase ever made on the website. Still, it’s a shame. I can, however, see that my very first recorded purchase on the site was made on 23 September 2001, and that I was described as providing ‘Great communication & Extremely quick payment. Highly Recommended !!!’ according to the feedback. I still maintain my 100% positive feedback record, too. As other feedback comments would say, A+++ TOP EBAYER!!!111!!

A few musings on this record:

It has a great track listing.
As follows:

  • The B Boys: ‘Two, Three, Break’
  • The B Boys: ‘Cuttin’ Herbie’
  • Xena: ‘On The Upside’
  • Hashim: ‘Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)’
  • Rammelzee Vs. K-Rob: ‘Beat Bop’
  • Two Sisters: ‘B-Boys Beware (Club Mix)’
  • Grandmaster And Melle Mel: ‘White Lines (Don’t Do It)’

It’s nice to see that Rammelzee track on there, and exciting to read on the back cover of the record that it was produced by Jean-Michel Basquiat. I’m still eager to track down the album by a band called Grey, which featured – as I recall – both Basquiat and increasingly famous, legendarily shirty actor/director/polymath Vincent Gallo.

Home Taping Is Killing Music.
The back cover of the record features the famous old ‘cassette tape and crossbones’ logo that was designed to discourage people from making copies of albums to share with their friends. Obviously, it didn’t make this happen. In today’s climate of instant duplication of electronic files it seems such a quaint and archaic idea, that people would sit and make taped copies of records. This is the logo:

'Home taping is killing music' logoElectro Is Aural Sex.
Well, that’s what it says on the back cover. I wonder which record label genius thought up that line?

The library in Wellington, Telford used to have this record in its collection.
I used to work in this library in the late eighties, and remember it having a room full of records that could be loaned out, including a full collection of this Electro series along with a whole load of other breakdance/electro/acid-type compilations. I also remember the day that a lot of those records were sold off by the library to make space, and that I didn’t buy them all. I really wish I had have done, now! At the time I was more interested in buying up their older books, especially those covering any kind of magick/parapsychology/religion-type subjects which I was bizarrely interested in at the time.

VARIOUS: Saturday Night Special (7″, Leadmill LEAD002, 1995)

Various - Saturday Night Special

I have no recollection of when and where I picked up this record. It was definitely some time after its release date of 1995 (or, specifically, 14 August 1995 as an associated insert confirms); instinct suggests it was at some point during the last three or four years from now. What I mean by that is that I remember it not being part of my collection, and I also remember it being so. My mind triangulates the change from one state to the other as being in the realms of ‘quite recently’, rather than ‘very recently’, ‘ages ago’ or something else.

This record raises a number of questions:

  1. Music venues releasing records: Leadmill Records was run by the Sheffield Leadmill venue, which is trumpeted on the back cover as Melody Maker’s 1994 number one live venue/club in the UK. How many other venues have released records? What makes the people running and booking bands at a venue decide to release records? Does this only happen when things are going extraordinarily well and there’s enough money flying around to plough a grand or two into a vanity project?
  2. The use of the word ‘still’: The aforementioned trumpeting back cover blurb starts by saying ‘The Leadmill is still a live music venue & club based in the heart of Sheffield…’ Why still? Was it once not going to be a venue? Does the word suggest a wearied acceptance that this building is always going to be a venue, whether we like it or not?
  3. Choice of bands on the compilation: The bands on this compilation are Man Or Astroman, Perfume, Back To The Planet and Blakeman. MOA and BTTP are (or at least were) well known bands at the time; Perfume and Blakeman, not so much. Blakeman are the subject of the record’s insert, an A6 postcard which includes the band’s contact address as… The Leadmill! So – who were they? The Leadmill house band? Promoters at the venue? The bankrollers of this record?
  4. Strange record side naming: Instead of Side A and Side B, or Side 1 or Side 2, this record’s sides are referred to as ‘maureenlipmanside’ and ‘bobhoskinsside’. What the hell is that about? What does it mean?
  5. Awful cover art: Who saw this cover art and thought ‘yes! that’s it! that’s exactly what our record needs!’ – apologies to whoever put it together, but I think the cover is horrific. Confusing and unattractive. Why a gun? Why a target over a telephone dial? Why ‘It’s Good To Talk’? In capitalised words?

So many questions.

My favourite out of the bands on here is Man Or Astroman. They’ve long been on my list of ‘bands I should buy loads of records by’. All I have beyond this track is a taped copy of one of their albums. I used to play that tape a lot and whilst the combination of surf-style garage rock and 1950s science fiction samples may sound cheesy and not fun, I remember it being – to use a word I’ve never used before – hella fun.

VARIOUS: Rubble Three: Nightmares In Wonderland (LP, Bam-Caruso KIRI 026, 1986)

Various: Rubble Three: Nightmares In Wonderland

Yet another volume of Rubble, the third that’s come up for examination here (the others being Volume 6 and Volume 9). On this one, there are a couple of better-known acts (The Pretty Things and Tomorrow) amongst the usual barrage of weird and wonderful-sounding artist names:

  • The Brain
  • Focus Three
  • Bamboo Shoot
  • Wild Silk
  • Mark Wirtz
  • The Lemon Tree
  • The Koobas
  • Aquarian Age
  • The Executive
  • The Chances Are
  • Ipsissimus
  • Edwick Rumbold
  • The Penny Peeps.

One aspect that I love of the Rubble series, and the Pebbles series that came before it, are the liner notes. Each volume has a brief round-up of who each artist was, along with a discography. The latter is normally very brief; such was the nature of most of these acts. Those brief round-ups all contribute, though, to an ever-nearer-to-completion patchwork of knowledge and information about a whole strand of music that is barely even known about by the vast majority of people. And there really is nothing like accumulating information that is meaningless to all but a select few people, is there?

One day in the distant future I’ll have a complete collection of all of these 1960s psychedelia/freakbeat/garage compilations, and I can’t wait. What seems like an inexhaustible volume of music must have some limits, and I presume that such a complete collection would go some way to comprising the whole lot. I wonder if at some point there will be similar compilations of unknown music from different times? There have been such collections for the punk/post-punk era, but beyond then – as far as I’m aware – there aren’t compilations covering obscure indie-pop, unknown independent label releases, and so on. Perhaps there just isn’t any interest? Or maybe I’m just not aware of compilations that do exist?

VARIOUS: By The Fruits… You Shall Know The Roots (3LP, Time-Lag/Eclipse FRUITS/ROOTS, ?)

This triple album could be seen as an important part of the early development of a now-popular ‘new psychedelic folk’ scene. I’m not sure when it came out, but it was several years ago, before all kinds of mainstream attention started getting paid to weirdo neo-folk singers and bands who were picking up the strands left by John Martyn, Vashti Bunyan, Nick Drake et al. Much of that mainstream attention may well also have been due to the trend for such music being used to flog mobile phones in TV/cinema advertising, but I’ll gloss over that for now, lest I smash my computer to pieces in rage at the thought of another ad showing a happy, diverse mix of bland (brand) ciphers acting FREE! and NATURAL! by signing up to a particular pay-monthly plan with a multinational telephony company.

The artists featured on this collection get a single album side each. They are:

  • Six Organs Of Admittance
  • Jack Rose
  • The MV/EE Medicine Show (with Chris Corsano)
  • Dredd Foole
  • Fursaxa
  • Joshua & Kemialliset Ystävät

…and that’s a rather impressive line-up, isn’t it? The packaging is real nice – a needlepoint-style image printed onto textured paper that feels almost like fabric, which folds out to create a giant poster. Naturally, I haven’t folded out the poster in order to stick it up on my wall; I’m too much of a record packaging preserver to defile it in that way. Sometimes I like to unfold it for a look, though, before putting it carefully back as it was.

Time-Lag Records, run from Portland, Maine, USA, were one of the two labels that put out this collection. They’re run by the brilliantly-named Nemo Bidstrup, who has always been amazingly friendly and pleasant to deal with by e-mail (I have bought a lot of his wares over the years). He not only runs one of those labels whose releases sell out pretty much instantly, but also stocks all kinds of excellent ‘outsider’ music in his shop. I would link to his website, but it seems to be undergoing some kind of transformation right now, and hence isn’t working so well…

Once, I went to a gig in Oxford which featured Taurpis Tula supported by a band, whose name I forget, that I in advance discovered counted Nemo within their ranks. It was great, but afterwards shyness took hold and I didn’t introduce myself, despite having corresponded with the guy just days before the show, hinting at my being there. Pretty lame, not taking advantage of perhaps the only time ever that I would have had the chance to say ‘hello’ in real life.

Taurpis Tula, coincidentally, were a duo featuring David Keenan, who is in some ways the Scottish Nemo Bidstrup – he runs a shop (Volcanic Tongue) stocking all kinds of weirdo musics, and he’s a musician himself. He also writes for the Wire magazine, amongst other publications. There are a lot of these multi-disciplinary outsider artist type people out there. I like the ideal – being interested in stuff, rather than a particular thing.

Jack Rose, who features on here, sadly died last year, which was an incredibly sad surprise. I saw him play in Oxford once too, and shyness didn’t overcome me that time – I had a brief chat and shook his hand after seeing an extraordinary set. I value that meeting now. He died aged 38.

VARIOUS: Rubble Six: The Clouds Have Groovy Faces (LP, Past & Present PAPRLP006, ?)

Rubble Six - The Clouds Have Groovy Faces

I will never tire of buying compilations of rare and/or hard-to-find 1960s psychedelia/garage/weirdo/folk music gems. And that’s lucky, as there are what seem like thousands of them out there – some crossing over in their track lists, but on the whole a seemingly endless treasure trove of goodies to be uncovered and enjoyed. I’ve mentioned the Rubble series on here before; this release is one of the Past & Present reissues though, rather than a Bam-Caruso original. (Even when I’ve got all of these records, there will still be the different labels’ issues to keep me occupied in my record hunting. And once I’ve got all of the 1960s compilation vinyl that exists, there are then the CDs to move on to…)

The Rubble series, despite being pretty consistently high quality throughout, make me slightly uncomfortable with their somewhat hackneyed ‘far-out-man’ taglines on each volume – ‘The Clouds Have Groovy Faces’, for example. Why, that’s just paisley-patterned student nonsense. I would prefer more worrying, more disturbing taglines that delve into the darker side of the 1960s – ‘I Took STP And Sawed My Arm Off’, or something. But that’s probably just me. I love the cover of this one, the big bold type works nicely and the imagery is proper The Trip/Psych-Outesque swirling mania.

Looking at the track listing for this volume, it makes me think how some aspects of music never change. We’ve got acts including:

  • The Fairytale
  • The Kinsmen*
  • The Poets
  • The End
  • The Attack
  • The Accent
  • The Elastic Band

…and you thought that it was just a recent trait to lazily bands ‘the something‘? Oh, no.

*I did type that correctly – it’s The Kinsmen, not The Kingsmen (of ‘Louis Louis’ fame). The cheek of it!