Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Monday, 11 August 2014

Listen To The Rain

Last weekend's car booting was rained off, but luckily the records I'd bought the week before were still in my bag, uncleaned and unheard.  So, out came the vinyl cleaner and down went the needle and the rain was forgotten.  First out of the bag, costing £1 was You Broke My Heart In 17 Places by comedienne/actor/writer Tracey Ullman.

Tracey Ullman - You Broke My Heart In 17 Places (1983)

The first of her two albums on Stiff Records, it's a collection of covers by a variety of artists such as Doris Day, label-mate Kirsty MacColl and Blondie, in a faintly comic retro-bubblegum style.  It's a hugely enjoyable record, even though Ullman herself who of course went on to have an enormously successful TV career in the US, is said to be "dismissive" of her phase as a pop star.

Top track: MacColl's They Don't Know which features Kirsty on backing vocals.  It reached no.2 in the UK singles chart and no.8 in the US, while the album made no.14 over here. Look out for Macca in the vid.

Next up, also £1 was Diana Ross and 'Diana'.

Diana Ross - Diana (1980)

Her most successful solo LP of all, selling ten million-plus, this 1980 release was written and produced by the chaps from Chic; Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, who with the 'Chic Strings' also played on the album.

Diana allowed friend and DJ Frankie Crocker to hear a preview of the record, after which she suddenly got the jitters about releasing the work, claiming that Chic were about to "ruin her career".  This was in the wake of the 'Disco Sucks' movement, and Diana may also have had concerns that she was being used as a vessel for just another Chic album, in the manner of Sister Sledge.  Nile and Bernard were of course devastated by this claim; they'd written every song especially for Diana and believed that their classy style of disco was just the thing to give her career a much-needed boost, but Motown demanded the tapes back and the album was remixed by engineer Russ Terrana and some of the vocals were re-recorded.

The horrified Chic boys had little choice but to allow the new Motown mix to be released, and in his autobiography Le Freak, Nile says that he didn't agree with original engineer Bob Clearmountain's reassurance that "Guys, they can't mess this record up.  The songs are so good it doesn't matter what they do to them".

I agree with Bob.  The Motown mixes are different to the Chic ones, but don't really suffer much.  They're more punchy in places and some of the longer instrumental passages are shortened, but although I slightly prefer the Chic originals, the version of the album released in 1980 is still remarkable.  Both are available together as a Deluxe Edition, so you can make your own comparisons here: Diana Ross – Diana (Deluxe Edition)

                                              Outer and inner sleeve.

Top track: I'm Coming Out - either version!

Finally, once again costing £1, and bringing dazzling sunshine to a drizzly day was He's A Friend Of Mine by the wonderful Edwin Hawkins Singers.

The Edwin Hawkins Singers - He's A Friend Of Mine (1969)

When co-founder of a California youth gospel choir Edwin Hawkins and his 50-strong ensemble privately recorded an album in order to raise funds (1968's Let Us Go into the House of the Lord) he wasn't expecting radio play of track Oh Happy Day to result in a smash-hit single.  A record contract with Buddah Records led to many albums in subsequent years, both before and after the departure of star soloist Dorothy Combs.  It's impossible to pick a single Top Track from this album of eight joyful, uplifting songs, but this is the most appropriate given yesterday's weather:

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