Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hit Me With Music

Welcome to the first proper Car Boot Vinyl Diaries post of 2015!  I hope you enjoyed the four-part Little Box Of Horrors series (although 'enjoyed' might be overstating it given the subject matter), but it's now time to get back to the car boot sale and charity shop finds, which have been coming thick and fast in recent weeks.  I've picked out a few of the records that I've been listening to over the last few days, starting with this from Carlene Carter, bought at a boot sale last autumn for £1:

Carlene Carter (1978)

This was her debut album and was recorded in London, with members of British pub-rockers The Rumour both playing and producing.  A song each was also written by The Rumour's frontman Graham Parker (Between You & Me) and Carlene's brother in law Rodney Crowell (Never Together But Close Sometimes).  Also making a couple of appearances is ex Brinsley Schwarz member Nick Lowe, to whom Carter became married the following year.

It's solid collection of polished country-rock, accompanied by the strong, clear and expressive vocals she shared with her mother June.  Despite the stellar contributors my two favourite songs are final tracks Slow Dance and the lovely Who Needs Words, both written by Carlene herself.  The album is dedicated to Maybelle Carter, her grandmother and original member of the Carter Family folk group, who sadly died later that year.


Car boot season is not yet in full swing and pickings have been slim, so I've made a few visits to local charity shops lately.  The St. Elizabeth Hospice shop in my hometown prices all its LPs at 50p, whereas its sister shop four miles up the road in the tourist-attracting seaside town of Aldeburgh has a rather different policy of pricing the dreck at £1, and anything else at the highest sale price found on eBay that week, regardless of condition.  This leads to some rather optimistic price tags on your normal charity shop fayre.

Last month I spied a rather dirty, well-played looking copy of Bob Marley & The Wailers' Live! album.  It had a noticeable scratch on Side 2, but I reasoned it'd be playable, plus the falling-to-bits sleeve could be easily mended with some double sided tape.  When I turned to read the rear cover I was rather surprised to see that the price tag read £15!  A bit much for something that can usually be found in better condition and for less than half the price on Discogs. I put it back in the box and left with a couple of other, more reasonably priced records. When I popped in again a couple of weeks later the offending label had been removed and the LP had magically found its way into the pound box.  So I grabbed it, obviously.

Bob Marley & The Wilers - Live! (1975)

After a good clean and some TLC it came up pretty well, except for a few crackles from the scratch.  The album was recorded in the summer at London's Lyceum Theatre, and is an exquisite snapshot of a band at their sizzling peak.  Bob, the band and the wonderful backing singers The I-Threes give a reggae-as-rock live makeover to seven songs, the likes of which I'd not heard before, except for No Woman No Cry, as the version here has become the definitive one (as heard on the compilation Legend).  Well known hits such as Get Up, Stand Up and Lively Up Yourself are performed with passion and given a new energy while retaining a joyous laid-back groove.

To me, it's an album to rival the likes of Sam Cooke at the Harlem Square Club or Donny Hathaway Live, and the Marley fatigue I induced in myself during my late teens was washed away by the thumping bass and the sound of the ecstatic crowd.  My top tracks are.... well, it's too hard to choose just two, so I'll pick the whole of Side 1; Trenchtown Rock, Burnin & Lootin', Them Belly Full and Lively Up Yourself.


Another week, the same shop had a copy of Van Morrison's Saint Dominic's Preview. The record was in better condition but the sleeve was tatty, and certainly not worth the £10 tag.  I asked the lady behind the counter if she'd take £3 and she immediately agreed, showing that it's often worth pointing out damage and questioning some of these OTT asking prices (I do realise that charities want to get the best prices for their donations, but overpricing scratched records is more likely to keep crate-diggers away).

Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview (1972)

SDP was Van's 6th album, coming after 1971's Tupelo Honey which I have yet to hear (sadly Spotify is largely a Van-free zone).  I'd only previously heard Astral Weeks and Moondance - both car boot vinyl finds - and on first listen of SDP was surprised by its variety of styles.

R&B opener Jackie Wilson Said was immediately familiar, no doubt mainly because when I was eight my Dad bought Dexy's Too-Rye-Ay which contains a cover version.  Less excitable but equally soulful are the celebratory, nostalgic Redwood Tree and the Ray Charles-y piano blues of I Will Be There, while the title track is infused with gospel-inspired piano.

There are just seven songs on the album as it contains two 10 minute-plus meditative pieces that wouldn't be out of place on Astral Weeks; the atmospheric Almost Independence Day and my favourite, Listen To The Lion.  During the latter Van improvises much of the vocal, incorporating grunts, moans and the occasional growl, which although I'm sure is meant to evoke the lion inside him, gives me visions of the great man trying to cough up a tricky furball, during which I can rarely keep a straight face.

The album as a whole is a rich and beautifully performed and produced record, and one of my favourite finds of the last 12 months.


More lightweight, but still very enjoyable is this recent 25p find from a local church's charity shop:

Various Artists - Deep Heat 90 (1990)

Compilation telemarketing label Telstar Records began their Deep Heat series in 1989. Deep Heat 90 gathers together chart-bothering hip-hop and dance tracks from the past year that had appeared on Volumes 5-8, and as you might imagine, Kraftwerk samples and Run DMC's ubiquitous 'Ah-Yeah!' abound.  As you can see from the tracklist, there's only one number one record, in the shape of Beats International's mega-hit Dub Be Good To Me 

This copy is a bit scuffed on Side 3 and skips a few times, so I use an old stylus reserved for such cases.  I'm currently operating a 3-stylus system, labelled X, Y and Z (since I found some alphabet stickers in a drawer!) with X for brand new records, Y for car boot/chazza ones and Z for dodgy/potentially dodgy discs.  It works for me!

There's lots to enjoy here, but my top tracks are Snap's Ooops Up (note the triple-o), Queen Latifah & De La Soul's Mama Gave Birth To The Soul Children and this from En Vogue (principally for the James Brown guitar sample, I must admit):

Least favourite are the rubbish Sixth Sense-Latino Rave - a megamix originally used to promote Deep Heat Volume 6 - and of course Candy bloody Flip, whose version of Strawberry Fields Forever's only redeeming feature is the echoey Funky Drummer sample.


Towards the end of last year I saw a copy of Bob Dylan's Saved at a car boot sale in a box of LPs marked £1 each, so I picked it up to take a closer look.  Although a relative Dylan neophyte, the release date of 1980 was enough to give me second thoughts and I put it back.  It was still there the following week and by now the combination of colder weather and the end of booting season meant that vinyl was thin on the ground.  I took pity on it, paid my quid and took it home, with fairly low expectations.  I'm glad I did.

Bob Dylan - Saved (1980)

This was Bob's twentieth studio album and the second in his overtly religious trilogy which began with Slow Train Coming in 1979 and ended with 1981's Shot Of Love.  He'd undergone a conversion to Christianity in late '79, initially sparked by an audience member throwing a silver crucifix onto the stage at a gig.

'Saved' is an album of gospel-rock and modern spirituals, recorded at Muscle Shoals early in the year with his current touring band.  Side 1 is by far the best, with the rousing title track and Solid Rock plus the very moving What Can I Do For You? particular highlights.  Side 2 is a bit of a let down, especially the plodding Saving Grace.  The most off-putting aspect is Dylan's rather patronising, often self-righteous tone.  Oh, and the cover.  Overall though, it's not half as bad as I'd been led to believe, and certainly worth a quid!

If you're a Dylan fan - or even if you're not - you might like to pop over to my new blog where I've just begun working my way through the enormous Complete Album Box Set, a 47-disc set stretching from his debut up to 2012's Tempest.  I'm up to 1965 at the moment!  You can find it here:

You'll be able to hear tracks from all of these albums, plus much more on the next Car Boot Vinyl Diaries cloudcast, coming soon.  Catch up with previous episodes here:

That's it for now, thanks for stopping by.