Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Friday, 27 September 2013

Magic In The Air

Philadelphia pop-soul vocal trio The Three Degrees began life in 1963 , releasing several singles and eventually their first album Maybe with Roulette Records in 1970.  It would be their work with Philadelphia International's Gamble & Huff, however, that would see them achieve their greatest success, with two high-charting albums and a slew of top 40 singles including the smashes When Will I See You Again and T.S.O.P.  (The Sound Of Philadelphia) [with M.F.S.B.].

I recently picked up the 1980 compilation double album Gold at a boot sale for £2:

The Three Degrees - Gold (1980)
Rear cover
Inside gatefold

Sides 1 through 3 boast the cream of their output from 1973-77, encompassing their time at P.I.R. and Epic, while Side 4 is a set of live material including cover versions of songs by Stevie Wonder and Elton John.

(This release is not the one of the same name and year on K-Tel, which contains a side of Ariola material).

After leaving Epic, the trio (whose members changed frequently over the years) joined Ariola Records and released the Giorgio Moroder-produced New Dimensions in 1978, a copy of which I found this summer, also for £2:

The Three Degrees - New Dimensions (1978)
Dresses by Zandra Rhodes

Rear cover

Side 1 comprises a 17-minute continuous mix of three songs: lead single Giving Up, Giving In, segueing into Falling In Love Again then Looking For Love.  This energetic disco suite blends familiar Philly strings with motorik rhythms and synthesisers, resulting in a refreshed Three Degrees sound more in keeping with the dancefloor fashions of the time.

Inside gatefold

Side 2 continues in this vein for the first song The Runner, then slows down for Woman In Love, the highest-placing single which peaked at no. 3 in the UK.  The pace picks up again for final track Magic In The Air, a mid-tempo, more traditional Three Degrees song, devoid of Moroder's overt electronics.

Here are the girls miming artfully to Giving Up, Giving In:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Zing! Went The Strings

In July I caught disco fever and in turn this led me investigate the work of the Master of the remix and father of the 12" single; producer extraordinaire Mr. Tom Moulton.

Tom Moulton

It began with the latest volume (no. 3) of his Philly Re-Grooved series where he applied his remixer's touch to a wide range of Philadelphia recorded artists from several labels, then on to the other two releases in the series, culminating in a recent purchase of last year's 4-CD 31-track box set of artists signed to Philadelphia International Records.

At last weekend's boot sale I was lucky enough to find a copy of the 1977 LP "Philadelphia Classics" for just £1.50:

Philadelphia Classics (1977)

Inside gatefold

The sleeve is rather torn and tattered but thankfully the records themselves are in excellent condition.

Rear cover

This double album consists of eight tracks from Gamble & Huff's P.I.R. catalogue, including artists The O'Jays, The Three Degrees, M.F.S.B., The Intruders and Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes.

For those not familiar with the Philadelphia Sound, its main feature is the addition of lush orchestral strings and searing horns to a funky, often bass-heavy soul music with gorgeous vocal harmonies; the more up-tempo of songs lending themselves easily to the 70s disco dancefloor.

Tom Moulton worked extensively with P.I.R. during the 1970s as a producer, and the way he manages to tease out the elements of a song to turn a 3-minute single into a 10-minute disco journey with builds, breakdowns and solos, all the while retaining that classy, breezy Philly sound is quite breathtaking.

Here Tom works his magic on such Philly classics as Love Is The Message and Love Train, extending some by several minutes.  All eight tracks here are included in the CD box set I referred to earlier, namely Philadelphia Classics: The Tom Moulton Remixes (2012).

Here's my favourite song from the original Philadelphia Classics LP; Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes' Don't Leave Me This Way, which clocks in at a disco-heavenly 11 minutes:

Monday, 27 May 2013

Nice Enough To Eat!

Today is a Bank Holiday and I'm going nowhere, so instead let me tell you about some of the records I picked up at a boot sale on the previous Bank Holiday weekend.  On the Sunday (May 5th) I took advantage of a seller's 3-for-a fiver offer on LPs.  First was this:

The World of David Bowie (1973)

This is a 1973 reissue of an album originally released in 1970, with an updated cover photo.  A fascinating collection of songs from his 1967 debut on Deram plus other previously unreleased tracks, this cynically re-packaged set of folk and music-hall style material was presumably intended to attract Ziggy fans expecting something quite different.

It's interesting of course, and very enjoyable in places, but essential to only the most hardcore of Bowie-philes.  Many of the songs here feature on the 1985 double album David Bowie - The Collection (which I have on cassette!).

Next up, the 1969 self-titled debut from Santana:

Santana (1969)

Released the same month as Woodstock where they played on the 15th of August, this is an album of powerful, Latin-infused guitar rock, enveloping the listener in a heady fug of Hammond organ, unbelievable percussion and THAT guitar from Carlos.  Its incredible cover image of a line-drawn lion incorporates how many faces?!

Last and certainly not least I chose Nice Enough To Eat, also from 1969:

Various Artists - Nice Enough To Eat (1969)

 An Island Records label sampler of folk rock, prog and hard rock from artists including Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention, Free and Spooky Tooth, NETE originally cost under 15 shillings which was half the price of a regular album at the time.


Side 1.
1.  Cajun Woman - Fairport Convention
2.  At The Crossroads - Mott The Hoople
3.  Better By You, Better Than Me - Spooky Tooth
4.  We Used To Know - Jethro Tull
5.  Woman - Free
6.  I Keep Singing That Same Old Song - Heavy Jelly

Side 2.
1.  Sing Me A Song That I Know - Blodwyn Pig
2.  (Roamin' Thro' The Gloamin' With) Forty Thousand Headmen - Traffic
3.  Time Has Told Me - Nick Drake
4.  21st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson
5.  Gungamai - Quintessence
6.  Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal - Dr. Strangely Strange

An important album to many, it served as an ear-opening introduction to the current Island roster and this kind of music in general.  It certainly worked its charms on me - at the Bank Holiday Monday car boot sale the following day I was driven to buy The Best of Spooky Tooth on CD (£4) which includes this HEAVY cover of I Am The Walrus:


Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Dog's B*ll*cks

It's been a long, cold winter with a couple of false starts, but today's car boot sale had some vinyl worth flicking through and I returned home with a 1981 reissue of Bowie's 1974 album Diamond Dogs (INTS 5068), bought for £4.

David Bowie - Diamond Dogs (1974)

This was his first post-Spiders album and is essentially a glam-rock record, but with a different sound to its predecessors due to Bowie playing most of the lead guitar parts himself (not to mention several other instruments).  Also present are the first signs of the R'n'B/Soul that would inform 1975's Young Americans.

The original concept for the record was based on Orwell's 1984, but when permission for this was denied by Orwell's widow, Bowie kept his head and worked the existing songs into a dark, fragmented narrative of his own, set in Hunger City where,
"Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats
And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes".

The cover was painted by artist Guy Peellaert, and the original artwork featured genitalia on the lower half of the Bowie/dog hybrid.  This was airbrushed out as you can see from this photo, although some copies with the original image did make it onto the shelves.

I love the segue from the epic Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing into its biggest hit Rebel Rebel, but my top picks are the Stones-y title track and the cinematic 1984.
Here's the 30th anniversary album remaster on Spotify:

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Living To Music April 2013

Join in if you can, alone or with friends, this Sunday, April the 7th at 9pm with Greg Wilson's Living To Music worldwide communal listening experience. This month's selected album is John Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Living To Music March 2013

Join in if you can, alone or with friends, tonight at 9pm with Greg Wilson's Living To Music worldwide communal listening experience. This month's selected album is Bjork's Debut (1993).

Apologies for the very short notice - I seem to have dropped off Greg's mailing list and forgot to check his website. 

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Space Cadet

With a lack of car boot sales at this time of year, I occasionally succumb to the temptations of eBay to satisfy my desire for musical diversion.  At the beginning of January I bought this album for £3.99 on the strength of the cover alone:

The Lime Spiders - The Cave Comes Alive! (1987)

The Lime Spiders were - and still are - an Australian rock band.  Formed in 1979 by lead singer and constant member Mick Blood, their declared influences are 60s garage rock and psychedelia.  However, to these ears the overriding sound is more 80s hair metal/hard rock.

This was their debut album released on Virgin and represents the height of their success. The unremarkable songwriting and dreary vocals are somewhat redeemed by some sterling efforts from guitarist Gerard Corben, in particular the latin outro to final track Theory of Thira, below.  Excellent album cover though!

Side 1.
My Favourite Room
Are You Loving Me More
Just One Solution
Blood From a Stone

Side 2.
Just One Solution (Reprise)
Action Woman
Rock Star
Space Cadet
Theory of Thira

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Living To Music February 2013

Join in if you can, alone or with friends, this Sunday at 9pm with Greg Wilson's Living To Music worldwide communal listening experience. This month's selected album is Shuggie Otis with Inspiration Information (1974).

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Blowin' Hot and Cold

This snowy, blowy Sunday morning called for something warming to get the circulation moving, so I dug out two of the very few jazz albums I own and wiggled my toes to the groove.

The first on was Hot & Heavy by Herbie Hancock, bought for 50p at a local chazza:

Herbie Hancock - Hot & Heavy (1984)

My first encounter with Mr. Hancock was in summer 1983 when I was eight years old and he released the groundbreaking breakdance anthem Rockit.  His lengthy career as jazz pianist, composer and bandleader has included membership of the Miles Davis Quintet and recordings on Blue Note in the 60s, and moves towards funk and electronic music in the 70s and 80s.  His eclectic tastes have led him to dip his toe into many other styles including classical, pop, soul, R&B and hip-hop.  I can't find much info on this album, although it appears to be a collection of early 60s sessions recorded around the same time as his soundtrack to the 1966 movie Blow Up.  Many of the tracks were included in an album called The Blow Up Extra-Sessions:

Next onto the turntable was this, bought on eBay for about £3 last year, partly for the great cover:

Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery -
Jimmy & Wes: The Dynamic Duo (1967)

Master of the Hammond B-3 Jimmy Smith joins jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery for their first outing as a duo (before The Further of Adventures of Jimmy and Wes later that year from the same sessions).  Although this UK pressing  is from 1967, it was released elsewhere in '66.

The two musicians complement and propel one another wonderfully on tracks like 13 (Death March) and James and Wes, while the big band treatment does little to detract from their command on Down By The Riverside and Night Train.  My favourite, however, is their take on the classic Baby, It's Cold Outside, where the interplay between the boy (organ) and girl (guitar) is just sublime.  Here it is - and dig those sleigh bells too!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Little Boxes

Pete Seeger
Folk musician, songwriter and activist Pete Seeger was born in 1919.  Son of a composer/musicologist father and concert violinist mother, Pete began to learn to play the five-string banjo aged 17 after hearing it for the first time at a folk festival. Sleevenotes from this record I got from a car boot sale state that,
"In the late thirties Pete took a banjo and set out across the USA.  He visited every state and heard the five-string banjo played a hundred different ways to the accompaniment of a thousand different songs.  He assimilated many banjo styles, learned hundreds of songs, and built up a repertoire of ballads, work songs, dance tunes, play parties, union songs and blues..."

Pete Seeger - Archive of Folk Music (1965)

Since then he has become a giant of American folk music and is also well known for his activism on the environment, civil rights and peace.  I found this LP at a boot sale for £2.


Side 1
1. The Carpenter
2. Three Courting Songs
3. The Greenland Fisheries
4. Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues
5. Paddy Works On The Railroad
Go Down Old Hannah

Side 2
1. Road To Eliat
2. Ariran
3. Die Gendaken Sind Frei
4. Bayeza
5. Kisses Sweeter Than Wine
6. In The Evening When The Sun Goes Down

Pete formed the Almanac Singers (which at one time included Woody Guthrie, the Dustbowl Troubadour) in 1940 and then the Weavers in 1950.  He later became a central part of the 60s folk revival, gaining attention with songs such as Where Have All The Flowers Gone; Turn, Turn, Turn and his no. 1 cover version of Malvina Reynolds' Little Boxes.

Pete today

The Archive of Folk Music put out this collection in 1965 using songs transferred from their original 78s ("Electronically Stereotized" - why?).  Their "Statement of Purpose" printed on the back cover is rather dismissive of the then-current folk boom:
"With the current renaissance of folk music there has come a proliferation of so-called "folk" recordings.  Most of these efforts are rather slick and facile popularizations of either traditional tunes or "composed" folk tunes.  Though pleasant, these are not folk music".
Fair point, I guess - I wonder what they'd make of Mumford & Sons and the like today?!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Golden Years part 3

It's been a while since my last proper post and there's no excuse really other than laziness, but I'll try to explain it anyway: during the last few months of 2012 I amassed a lot of music.  I got lots of CDs and records for my birthday and for Christmas, plus I had a bit of birthday money which got spent on music too.  Of course I continued to go to boot sales at the weekends, and found plenty of irresistible bargains at those.  With the usual end-of-year best albums lists floating around all over the place my Spotify listening increased also, meaning that I rather overwhelmed myself with music for the latter part of the year. Ongoing chronic pain made for a pretty grumpy Christmas too, so what with one thing and another this blog got a little neglected, something I aim to put right over the coming weeks.  To this end, this post is about some of the best-of comps I picked up towards the end of the year.

First is The Golden Hour of The Lovin' Spoonful's Greatest Hits, £2 from a charity shop:

The Golden Hour of The Lovin' Spoonful's
Greatest Hits (1974)

Folk-pop group The Lovin' Spoonful described their songs as "good-time music" and they had their greatest streak of success in 1965-6, with nine US top 20 singles and three top 40 albums.  Their best-known hits are probably Daydream, Do You Believe In Magic and of course Summer In The City; their biggest single which reached no.1 in the US and no.8 in the UK.  A change of producer and other personnel in 1967-8 led to their eventual split in '69 but they left behind a large, if often overlooked legacy, 24 examples of which are in this collection.

Next up is The World of Amen Corner, an eBay bargain at £1.99:

The World of Amen Corner (1969)

Welsh rockin' popsters Amen Corner began life playing blues/jazz inflected music but experienced their greatest success when they adopted a more commercial sound.  Their first smash hit came in 1968 when Bend Me Shape Me reached no.3 in the UK, and their biggest single was 1969's If Paradise Is (Half as Nice) which scored the top spot for two weeks.  They disbanded later the same year.

Continuing with the 60's theme, next is Hollies' Greatest which cost £2 at a boot sale:

Hollies Greatest (1968)

Manchester group The Hollies released a staggering 67 singles between 1967 and 2005, 28 of which entered the UK top 40. This collection of fourteen songs contains those that included founder member Graham Nash and was released after he left the band in 1968. It was their most successful album, topping the UK chart for six weeks.  After quitting The Hollies Nash formed supergroup CSN with Steven Stills and former Byrd David Crosby, which leads us to my next hits compilation:

The Byrds' Greatest Hits (1967)

This is a collection of songs from The Byrd's heyday in terms of charting singles, with eight top 50 US hits (the highest positions coming from Eight Miles High, Mr.Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn!) and three album tracks, all taken from their first four LPs.  Unsurprisingly it was their biggest selling album of all, although it didn't chart in the UK.  It's been re-issued several times over the years - this original UK mono release was bought at a boot sale.  I already own all of the tracks on various albums but at just £2 I couldn't bear to leave it there!

Last of all is Canned Heat Cook Book (The Best of Canned Heat) bought for £2 at a boot sale:

Canned Heat Cook Book (The Best of Canned Heat)

Like The Byrds, Canned Heat formed in California in the mid-sixties.  However, their sound is that of the South; a bluesey, swampy, Southern-fried kind of rock.  Their two biggest hits, Going Up The Country and On The Road Again were both covers/re-workings of blues numbers.  These both appear here along with eight other songs from their first four LPs, often referred to as their "classic period" as the line-up has gone through dozens of mind boggling changes over the years since then.  A version of Canned Heat still tours to this day.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Living to Music January 2013

Join in if you can, alone or with friends, this Sunday at 9pm with Greg Wilson's Living To Music worldwide communal listening experience. This month's selected album is The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.