Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Word Of Mouth

At a car boot sale last September I bought this Isley Brothers record for the smashing sum of 50p:

Isley Brothers - Greatest Hits (1970)
Released by EMI on Starline in the UK
and Regal in the US.

Last time I thought I'd bought a Motown-era Isley's compilation (albeit with a very different tracklist), the sleeve turned out to contain something quite different.

The Brothers had (and continue to have) a long and diverse career, changing genres, members and labels across the years but always remaining identifiably Isley.  This material is from their short stint at the Detroit record company from 1965 until they left under a bit of a cloud (like several others did) in '68, after they failed to produce a follow-up to their US no.12/UK no. 3 hit This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You).  This and their other big UK seller Put Yourself In My Place kick off the album, followed by a clutch of singles that flopped worldwide despite their high quality, such as the fabulous Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While), later a hit for another set of brothers: the Doobies.

There's some typical Motown recycling on display in the shape of Stop! In The Name Of Love (Supremes) and Nowhere To Run (Martha & the Vandellas); these and a few other songs on this collection were originally album tracks on the Isley's 1966 album This Old Heart Of Mine. There are also four songs from their second and final album with Motown, Soul On The Rocks, including Behind A Painted Smile (previously recorded by Kim Weston), which failed to chart in their home country, but climbed to no.13 here when it was reissued in 1969.  Like most of their songs, it came from the wonderful H-D-H- team.

After they left Motown, the lads went on to revive their own T-Neck label, where they achieved further success, including several Gold and Platinum-selling albums such as Harvest For The World.  Their last album released to date was the festive I'll Be Home For Christmas, in 2007.

From the same seller, and also for 50p, I picked up this Mary Wells compilation:

Mary Wells - Greatest Hits including 'My Guy'' (1973)

Released on Music For Pleasure's "Sounds Superb" label in the early 70s, this record gathers together various singles, b-sides and album tracks from one of the quintessential Motown artists.  Surprisingly (well, to me anyway) only two of her singles charted here in the UK; My Guy reached no. 5 in May 1964, and then no.14 upon its re-release in 1972. The other was Once Upon A Time which peaked at no. 50 and strangely isn't included here.  As a result much of this excellent collection was unknown to me, so was definitely fifty pence very well spent.  Of the twelve tracks, most were written by Smokey Robinson, who took the sweet-voiced Detroit native Wells under his wing after she signed to Motown aged 17.

All from 1962, The One Who Really Loves You, You Beat Me To The Punch and Two Lovers represent Mary's greatest run of US singles aside from the world-conquering My Guy, all entering the top ten.  When I'm Gone was cancelled in 1964 when she quit the Gordy empire at the peak of her superstardom, and the song was re-recorded by the newly-signed Brenda Holloway who took it to no. 25 in the Billboard chart.  The b-side of this aborted single, Guarantee (For A Lifetime), is included here too, as well as Honey Boy and One Block From Heaven which were also unissued at the time but appeared on a 1966 cash-in compilation called Vintage Stock put out by Motown two years after Wells left them for 20th Century Fox.

As well as the Funk Brothers of course, Wells is backed on most of these songs by label session groups The Adantes (female vocal trio) and the male Love Tones.

Hiding amongst the easy listening one Sunday morning last November was a well-loved copy of Short Circuit: Live At The Electric Circus.  It cost me £1.

Various Artists - Short Circuit: Live At The Electric Circus (1978)

This 10" EP was recorded over the two farewell nights of Manchester's Electric Circus venue on the 1st and 2nd of October 1977, and was released the following June.

Side 1.
1. The Fall - Stepping Out
2. John Cooper Clarke (You Never See A Nipple In The) Daily Express
3. Joy Division- At A Later Date
4. The Drones - Persecution Complex

Side 2.
1. Steel Pulse - Makka Splaff (The Colly Man)
2. John Cooper Clarke - I Married A Monster From Outer Space
3. The Fall - Last Orders
4. Buzzcocks - Time's Up

Rear cover
Inner sleeve front and rear

At the time of recording Joy Division were still calling themselves "Warsaw", but are credited here with their new name.  The EP represents The Fall's first ever release, so is quite collectible for fans.  It came out on black, blue and yellow vinyl, and there was an orange promo, the most collectible version of all.  There was also an early re-release on black vinyl only with red and green labels.  Mine is the blue-labelled original on black wax.


They seem to go for a variety of prices on Discogs, the most expensive being the version that came with a poster and bonus 7".  I doubt my one is worth more than a tenner as the sleeves are a bit scrappy, but I'm hanging on to it anyway, as it's a great find.

Thinking it was just a standard Atlantic soul compilation, I picked this up last autumn for £1:

Various Artists - AtlantiClassics (1972)

AtlantiClassics is in fact a fine compilation, but the 12 songs are introduced, interrupted, and in some cases completely talked over (I'm looking at you, Soul Finger) by the US DJ Emperor Rosko, who urges us to get down to our local "rekkid shop" to seek out these singles.

Side 1:
The Beginning of the End – Funky Nassau Part 1
Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers – Sock It To ‘Em J.B. Part 1
Arthur Conley – Funky Street
Bar-Kays – Soul Finger
The Drifters – Baby What I Mean
Wilson Pickett – Don’t Knock My Love Part 1
Side 2:
Aretha Franklin – Spanish Harlem
King Floyd – Groove Me
Ben E. King & The Drifters – Save The Last Dance For Me
Booker T. & The M.G.s – Green Onions
Percy Sledge – When A Man Loves A Woman
Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay
Side 1 label

DJ Emperor Rosko
Emperor Rosko (Michael J. Pasternak) began his UK radio career at pirate station Radio Caroline in 1964, then joined BBC Radio from its launch in '67, staying until '76.  A big advocate of American soul, he MC'd the British dates of the Stax/Volt tour in 1967, as well as several other soul packages visiting the UK.

This collection is presented in a similar (some might say nauseating) manner to other soul compilations bearing his name released in the same decade; a bombastic style of radio patter, interspersed with jingles and sound effects. This Billboard article from April 15th 1972 reveals "AtlantiClassics" to be a marketing tool for a big UK promotion of 16 Atlantic soul singles:

From Billboard Magazine, 15th April 1972

Rosko is now 73 and continues to broadcast in Europe on internet and satellite radio.

I paid 50p for this LP at a boot sale towards the end of September last year:

Rod Stewart & Steampacket (1977)
Released on Springboard Records, a budget label
and subsidiary of Springboard International Records Inc.

As well as Rod the Mod, Steampacket consisted of organist Brian Auger, singer Julie Driscoll, guitarist and vocalist Long John Baldry, Mick Waller on drums, Ricky Brown on bass, and guitarist and future Animal Victor Briggs.  The tracks here were all recorded at rehearsals in 1965; due to the complication of members all having different managers and belonging to different record labels, the band never recorded an official album.  This 7-track compilation was released in 1977, and from the cover photo it's clear that this was to cash in on Rod's later success, as he in fact only sings on one song, a cover of the H-D-H-penned Can I Get A Witness?  The rest is all covers too, such as Tim Hardin's Red Balloon, the gospel number Lord Remember Me and some Chicago blues in the shape of Bright Lights Big City sung by LJB.  My favourite tracks are the two instrumentals: Jimmy Smith's Back At The Chicken Shack and a Ramsey Lewis Trio-style The In Crowd.  Only the former is identified as an instrumental on the cover; perhaps the compilers thought that more than one might put off Rod's fans from purchasing.  I can imagine a few of them being rather disappointed upon getting this on the turntable, but I love it, and it's one of my favourite finds from 2015.

The band broke up shortly after Rod departed in 1966 for the short-lived Shotgun Express (with Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood), before he joined the Jeff Beck Group.  Here's Brian's organ in all its glory.

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed that I'm partial to a bit of cheese, and I picked up this album by the King of Easy listening a few months back, for 10p:

Bert Kaempfert & his Orchestra - If I Had You (1963)

Here writer, arranger and producer Bert Kaempfert presents us with a dozen jazz and popular standards, played in a smooth, slow-paced style ideal for relaxing in one's groovy shag-pad with a green drink and a menthol fag on the go.  As well as Moonglow, Sentimental Journey and Doris Day's Secret Love, there are a couple of Bertie originals called Sweet Dreams and Magnolia Blossoms, which are as easy on the ear as you'd imagine.  Kaempfert's many albums are ubiquitous in the second-hand world, and are an enjoyable and essential part of any self-respecting car booter's record collection.

For twice the price of the Kaempfert album, i.e. 20p, I bought Toni Basil's debut LP on the following Sunday.

Toni Basil - Word Of Mouth (1981)
As you can see from the cover, the album was also available
on VHS and Betamax.

Of course everyone knows Toni for her mega-hit Mickey and the accompanying cheerleader video, but aside from this bubblegum-pop number, Word Of Mouth is a very respectable pop/new wave album.  Alongside a cover of Bacharach's Red Book and the flop single Nobody, there are three Devo cover versions.  Basil was a friend and early supporter of Devo (she was in a relationship with Gerald Casale for a time) and here they back her up on their own Be Stiff, Space Girls (a cover of their demo Space Girl Blues) and You Gotta Problem (previously Pity You).

Basil is well known for her work as a choreographer, including for Bowie's Diamond Dogs and Glass Spider tours.  Take a few minutes to read her Wiki page and you'll find a fascinating and impressive account of her other careers as a dancer, filmmaker, actor and more.

This UK version of Word Of Mouth has a slightly different tracklist to the US one, which came out the following year and included the single Shoppin' From A-Z plus a song written by Davis Essex called Rock On, while omitting my favourite here, Hanging Around.

That's all for now, I'll be back soon with more car boot sale and chazza vinyl.  Tune into my Twitter feed on Sunday evenings to keep up with my latest finds, and please do tell me about yours.


  1. Partial to a bit of cheese? Your gift for understatement is truly staggering, Bubba ;-)

    Some great finds in this one - I love the Isleys and Atlantic soul (shame about the Emperor), and you can't go wrong with a bit of Smokey-written stuff and Rod when he was good.

  2. I prefer to think of my musical tastes as omnivorous, Nigel. I'll give most things a try.

    Btw, I got Veedon Fleece for 50p at the weekend. There's a scuff on one side, but it plays OK. And it's bloomin' Veedon Fleece!!!