Monday, 30 August 2010

Gnome Thoughts from a Foreign Country (The Vintage David Bowie)

 Now here's a real oddity (no pun intended). This 1983 songbook, recently obtained for work purposes, has several previously unpublished early Bowie songs, from his self-titled first album (1967) on Decca's hip offshoot label Deram, plus a few from his second album, also known as David Bowie, otherwise Space Oddity or Man of Words, Man of Music (1969). There are a few copies of the book on the net at the time of writing. The cover of the songbook, like many of the vinyl repackagings of the 1967 material, is deliberately misleading, but who cares if you already know what you're getting?

More unfortunate, in my view, is that the songbook is split between the two albums, possibly for fear that a book's worth of novelty songs would be too unpalatable. Space Oddity apart, the earlier songs are perhaps more interesting - although not necessarily for Bowie fans. Many have a distinct music hall influence, reflecting the pop of the time - the Kinks and Barrett-era Pink Floyd - and apparently it was released on the same day as Sergeant Pepper (which rather reminds me of Dave Clark - although in fairness it may have have been Clark channelled by Mark Shipper in his spoof biog - declaring that his group's rivalry with the Beatles could only be beneficial for both sides). 

But Bowie's vocals go back earlier, aping Anthony Newley's singing style.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Like an enormous YEAH YEAH YEAH! or The Hottest CD Box Set Ever Compiled?

Please note the question mark in the title as a) the set below is issued by Proper Records, whose quality control is not always of the best, and b) I haven't yet got my mitts on a copy.

But I still need to draw your attention to this four disc collection of the jazz which poet and funster Philip Larkin very publicly liked. Ignore the cruel remark of a friend who said that this blog would not be her first port of call for dependable information about musical figures; in the area covered by this compilation I can speak - er, with intermittent authority. At the very least.

I discovered Luis Russell (commemorated philatelically, above, by the homeplace hymned in his masterpiece) before realising Larkin was also a fan - before realising Larkin existed, in fact. But reading All What Jazz, his collection of music crticism, led me to other jazz artists and helped cement my love for Louis Armstrong.

Not that this was a forsaking of pop: I seem to remember that when the Beatles' Hamburg tapes eventually came out on vinyl I borrowed it from my local library along with an Armstrong memorial compilation (on Parlophone, incidentally), as though to test whether I could find the same magic in both.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Don, Paul ... and Bingo?

Several related things. Have just seen that James Paul McCartney, Macca's 1973 TV special for Lew Grade's ATV, is on youtube. This programme was done, I think, as a favour to Sir Lew, or a way of keeping him sweet, after he had bought Northern Songs from Dick James.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Cheapo Cheapo Records Latest - much the same

I was about to post this entry, all excited, when I realised that I was taking the information from a copy of Record Collector dated ... October 2009. It was an ad for a music fair in Brighton at which Cheapo's vinyl stock was being sold.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Harvey Fuqua: three songs

Mentioning Alan Warner in the previous post prompted me to look for an image of the doo wop compilation LP he masterminded which included You're So Fine. I didn't immediately find it but did come across a site, here, which is indeed by the same man, as his bio includes the information:
An Englishman who started out working for EMI Records in the UK, Alan was transferred to Los Angeles in the mid-70′s after having had some success producing records of Laurel & Hardy and vintage Hollywood Musicals, plus a multi-artist series called “The Many Sides Of Rock’n'Roll”, and far too many other compilations to mention.

What he modestly doesn't mention (assuming the bio is self-penned) is that his compilations of film soundtrack material were regularly praised by UK critics for the quality of the transfers - yes, even in those vinyl/cassette days it made a difference. And I did eventually find images of the doo wop compilation in the Many Sides ... series -see top and immediately below. Doubleclick on the image below for readable tracklisting and notes, which I presume were written by Mr Warner himself- another building block in my doo wop education, so a belated thank you.

I also note that his website pays tribute to the late Harvey Fuqua (top) by drawing attention to his songwriting credits. I didn't realise that Harvey Fuqua had written That's What Girls Are Made For, a very early (1961) record by the Spinners which I first found on a really obscure doo wop tape around the early eighties. Although - or because - the lead throws in quite a few Sam Cooke mannerisms it's a beautiful record - and as I hear it in my mind, before I scan youtube, I'm assuming Harvey would have been involved in the arrangement too, as the strings bear a close resemblance to the bridge of an obscure Moonglows side I particularly like called She's Alright With Me.

[Spellbinding Falcons - will that do?]

The day of the anniversary of my friend's death - or possibly the day before or after, as that's the kind of person I am - I saw a copy of The Northern Soul Story Vol. 1: The Twisted Wheel (above) in my local, not very impressive, HMV and after much dithering bought it. Below is a reasonable-sounding youtube clip of the song which struck me most, which I include as a final salute to him. Until I decide otherwise and add more. (Hey, it's a blog: we don't live by your petty rules, man.)

If you are a Northern Soul fan, no doubt the song below is a stone classic, so look away NOW, as I'm going to write about hearing it for the first time. And again, there will be stuff about the Spellbinders online, which you could look up if you wanted to; still reeling from a (living) friend's cruel decision not to read this blog it hardly seems worth searching for links to place here. I mean, the internet's a big place, so why don't you forage for yourself, eh? Ah, gone are those days of late December/early January when I was able to delude myself that I had a substantial audience - or even one faithful reader.