Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Open Up And Say... Ahh!

A few months back I bought a couple of LPs missing their outer sleeves, which I didn't mind a bit, as they were only 50p each.  The first was Pink Floyd's Obscured By Clouds.

Pink Floyd - Obscured By Clouds (1972)
Side 1 label

Sleeve art
This was the band's 7th album and is based on their soundtrack to a film by French director Barbet Schroeder about a woman's voyage of self-discovery.  After a disagreement with the film company, Pink Floyd released the work under the name Obscured By Clouds instead of the intended La Vallée, the name of the movie.

It was recorded during hurried sessions between those for Dark Side Of The Moon, and consists of instrumental mood pieces (Obscured By Clouds, When You're In), conventional rock songs (The Gold It's In The...), and more recognisably - to me at least, as a casual fan - Floydian ones (Wot's... Uh The Deal? and Childhood's End).  It lacks the grandeur of the albums either side of it; no bad thing, as it's still an engaging yet gentle listen, although some of it feels unfinished, with Burning Bridges and When You're In coming to an end just as I'm getting into them.

Final track Absolutely Curtains finishes with an extended section of chanting, performed by members of the Mapuga tribe of the cloud-covered rainforest of New Guinea where the film is set.

The second sleeveless find was one disc of the double 
LP Here, My Dear by Marvin Gaye.

Marvin Gaye - Here, My Dear (1978)
Side 2 label

Since the other disc was missing, I've in fact got sides 2 and 3 thanks to Motown's habit of pairing 2 with 3 and 1 with 4.  Apparently this was for ease of use with a turntable stacking system, although 1+3 and 2+4 would seem to me a better option as all four sides also could be played in successive order on twin decks.

Here's what I have (I've since listened to the missing tracks online):

Side 2.
5.  Is That Enough
6.  Everybody Needs Love
7.  Time To get It Together

Side 3.
8.  Sparrow
9.  Anna's Song
10. When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You? (Instrumental)

Half of the royalties for the album were to be paid to Gaye's ex-wife Anna, as part of their divorce settlement (I wonder whose half of the album I have?), and at first he'd planned to churn something out quickly, merely to meet this requirement.  For whatever reason he changed his mind and ended up pouring himself into it, resulting in one of his greatest pieces of work, not to mention a masterclass on washing one's dirty laundry in public.

After the long, slow funk of Is That Enough with it's slinky, mournful sax, Marvin gets into list mode, noting all those he believes need love, from flowers to babies, and bluebirds to, er, mountains, his voice never sweeter and never more full of pain.  The album is characterised by layered vocal harmonies (all his own) and mid-paced, mostly unstructured soul grooves with horns, synths and funk guitar.  Sparrow has a hint of jazz, and although it seems to be about his ex-wife, I do wonder if it doesn't have something to do with Diana Ross, whose nickname was Sparrow.

Cover art, which along
with the innner sleeve illustrations
contains further digs at Anna.
Throughout the record his emotions are raw, confessional and mainly bitter, and there are plenty of digs at Anna mixed with his regret at a failed marriage.  If Here, My Dear is a Motown 'Blood On The Tracks', then You Can Leave, But It's Going To Cost You is the vicious 'Idiot Wind', and if we were to take this shaky analogy further, A Funky Space Reincarnation is 'Lily, Rosemary and the Jack Of Hearts', i.e. a fun but long-winded diversion that has little to do with the rest of the album (although AFSP is a plodder in contrast to the spirited Lily...).

It's definitely an album that takes some time to appreciate, due to its initial one-paced feel and lack of traditional verse-chorus-verse structure, but the songs really do distinguish themselves with repeated listening.  I now just need to keep an eye out at future boot sales for the missing disc.  Oh, and the sleeve.

One warm Sunday last September I picked up INXS's X, for £1.

INXS - X (1990)
The Roman numeral in the title is meant to represent
the ten years since they recorded their 1980 debut.

This was the band's 7th album, following 1987's Kick, and like Kick it was produced by Chris Thomas.  The biggest single from it was of course the fantastic Suicide Blonde, which features an absolutely corking sample of bluesman Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica.  Musselwhite also recorded some new parts for tracks On My Way and Who Pays The Price.  X contains the same kind of muscular pop-rock as Kick, but for me the songs are not quite as strong.  Surprisingly it got as high as no.2 in the UK album chart, seven places higher than its predecessor, although Kick remained on the chart much longer; 103 weeks, compared to X's 44.

All four of X's singles cracked the top 50 over here, the highest being Suicide Blonde's no.11 placing.  Disappear was the next most successful, peaking at no.21.

At another boot sale a few weeks later, I took a £2 punt on their 1993 album Full Moon, Dirty Hearts.

INXS - Full Moon, Dirty Hearts (1993)
Cheer up lads, it's not that ba... oh, wait.

This follow-up to 1992's Welcome To Wherever You Are has all the bombast of X but sadly none of the tunes.  Even roping in Chrissie Hynde on the title track and Ray Charles for Please (You Got That...) isn't enough to save this frankly boring LP from the dumper (or in this case the charity shop).  It somehow managed to max out at no.3 on the UK chart, although it dropped out of sight after just a couple of months.

Most of the time I don't have the patience to go through 45s, but when vinyl is thin on the ground at a car boot sale I'll occasionally flip through a box of singles.  I bought this half-dozen of late 80s 7-inchers last autumn for 50p each.

L-R: Donna Summer - This Time I Know It's For Real (1989)
Rufus & Chaka Khan - Ain't Nobody (Remix) (1989)
New Order - Blue Monday 88 (1988)
Spagna - Call Me (1987)
Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield - What Have I Done To Deserve This? (1987)
Pseudo Echo - Funky Town (1987)

The original Blue Monday came out in 1983 and reached no.9.  This 1988 version was remixed by Quincy Jones and John Potoker and bested it, peaking at no.3.  The remix of Ain't Nobody performed a similar feat, climbing two places higher than the '84 original, achieving a no.6 placing.  It also appeared on Chaka's chart-topping album of dance mixes the same year:

The Pseudo Echo record is a version of Lipps Inc.'s much-covered Funkytown, and if any of the singles here can be classified as a guilty pleasure (not a notion I usually subscribe to!), it's this one.  The Australian new wave-ers' rockier take on the disco-funk oddity was the most successful single of their entire career, reaching no.1 in their home country as well as New Zealand and Canada.

All six of these singles were top ten hits in the UK.

If the weather is decent enough, one of my local car boot sales runs until late December and resumes just a month or so later.  In early February this year I spied this curiosity in a box of 80s pop.  It caught my eye as this is the school where my better half (Mr Breakfast) currently works.

Music from Sir John Leman High School 1631 - 1981 (1981)
Private press.  The name Margaret is written in the top
right corner.

The school band, orchestra and choir were recorded at a local church for county radio to celebrate 350 years since the school was established.  Beccles tradesman John Leman did rather well for himself and became Lord Mayor of London in 1616.  On his death he provided funds for the education of 44 boys from the town plus two others from the nearby parish of Ringsfield and two from Gillingham, on the condition they could all read and write before they enrolled.  The building, which was already a school when Leman gave it to the town, is now a museum, and the modern establishment is currently an academy.

Printed insert with credits and track listing.
The record's label reads "St. John Leman", still a common mistake
according to Mr Breakfast.

Back in 1981 when this wonky but charming collection of music was recorded, the school was a comprehensive high for boys and girls aged 13-18.  After giving it a listen I donated it to the school as they didn't have a copy.  It's now in their archive.

Also costing a pound was this from US rock tarts Poison.

Poison - Open Up And Say... Ahh! (1988)

This album is quite important to me, as I remember taping a copy from the local library and being absolutely wowed by it.  It was the record that got me listening to guitar music, in particular Guns N' Roses, whom I fell for hard in my high school years.

The album cover was changed
to this after complaints about
the original.
1988 was a golden time for hair-centric hard rock; Open Up... was kept off the top spot that year by Gn'R's Appetite For Destruction, Bon Jovi's New Jersey and Def Leppard's world-eating monster Hysteria.  It reached a high of no.18 here in the UK.

If you're into double entendres, single entendres, cheesy overproduced party rock and stoopid hair and makeup, this record will be right up your street.  Having played my C90 to death aged 13 then not hearing it in years, the whole album now gives me an enormous Proustian rush, but no song more than Fallen Angel.  Right, I'm off to jump on my bed, alternately punching the air and playing air drums.


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