Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Saturday, 30 July 2016

High voltage rock 'n' roll

I picked up a couple of AC/DC albums this year, both costing 50p, and both for good reason.  The first was 1978's If You Want Blood (You've Got It), bought on a freezing cold Sunday in February.

AC/DC - If You Want Blood (You've Got It) (1978)

It was missing both inner and outer sleeves and therefore not in the best of shape, skipping on a couple of tracks, but will do until I find a better copy, and is played with an old stylus reserved for "dodgy discs".

Recorded at Glasgow's Apollo Theatre in the spring of '78, If You Want Blood contains 10 of the 14 songs the group played that night, including cuts from Powerage, Let There Be Rock, T.N.T. and Dirty Deeds Done Cheap.  It was their first live album (and their only with Bon Scott, who died two years later) and reached no.13 on the UK album chart.

An absolutely thrilling document of a band arguably at their peak, it's a real shame that this otherwise great-sounding record skips multiple times on my favourite song Whole Lotta Rosie.  Here's a skip-free version - note the audience having an absolute ball, and their chant of "Angus.... Angus.... Angus!".

A copy of For Those About To Rock We Salute You turned up at a boot sale in May in a box of damp, filthy crap that irritated my throat for the rest of the day.  Still, it was 50p and despite the state of the sleeve (which was quickly binned) the record itself was in remarkably good condition.   Apparently the box of records from which it came had been stored in a shed for some years.  The LP was covered in a film of black mould, so I gave it a good wipe with some antibacterial er, wipes, before putting it through the usual cleaning process.  It came out sparkling, although as you can see from the photos the labels didn't escape the damage. 

AC/DC - For Those About To Rock We Salute You (1981)
Wet, mouldy sleeve - binned.

The album was the follow-up to the gigantic, 50 million-selling Back In Black, which had been the group's first with Bon's replacement Brian Johnson.  This isn't in the same league as BIB; the lyrics and song titles seem more corny than cheeky, more stale than playful. The tempos are slower too, and although there's plenty of noise and riffage going on, there's also a lack of energy compared to its predecessor. Having said that, it's still a very enjoyable record, just one with a lot to live up to, I suppose.  Both singles from it reached the top 20 here in the UK, and the album even topped the US chart, something BIB hadn't managed.

In October last year I bought a copy of Art Garfunkel's solo debut Angel Clare for £2.50. It's quite a common sight at car boot sales and charity shops, but I'd recently read a glowing recommendation of it so decided to finally take the plunge.

Art Garfunkel - Angel Clare (1973)

Angel Clare is made up of cover versions, traditional folk songs and original material, and it boasts an impressive group of contributors such as JJ Cale and Jerry Garcia, plus a string of session musicians that includes members of the Wrecking Crew and the Nashville A Team.  Art on his own tends to be rather sickly without Paul Simon as bitter counterpoint, and this is particularly true of Jimmy Webb's All I Know, which although moving, suffers from a syrupy approach with strings laid on thickly.  Much more enjoyable is the simpler Mary Was An Only Child, which not only suits Garfunkel's pretty, airy voice better, but also features an appearance from Simon on backing vocals and acoustic guitar.

Other high points are Traveling Boy written by Paul Williams, and the haunting murder ballad Down In The Willow Garden.  A curious mash-up of Haitian folk and Bach called Feuilles-Oh/Do Spacemen Pass Dead Souls On Their Way To The Moon? makes for a twee but pleasant listen, but the traditional Barbara Allen requires a more robust voice than Art can muster, and the children's choir on Woyoya is as sick-making as you'd expect.  The good outweighs the bad by a long way, however, and I'd definitely recommend you grab a copy if you see it in a charity shop, for which the odds are quite high.

An unexpected find in a hospice charity shop back in May was Doctor Who and the Pescatons, costing four pounds.

Doctor Who and the Pescatons (1976)

Featuring the voices of Tom Baker, Elisabeth Sladen and Bill Mitchell, this is more a dramatised audio book than a play, in that it's mostly Baker narrating, with a small amount of dialogue here and there.  The contents of the BBC sound effects library combine with the talents of the Radiophonic Workshop and incidental music by Kenny Clayton to create a mildy scary and very charming production that relates a story of alien invasion (mostly set in central London, naturally) by Zor and his half-man half-fish comrades.

From rear sleeve.

And of course you get a bit of the wonderful Doctor Who theme at the beginning and end of each side of the record, which is worth the price of admission alone.

At a car boot sale last month I bought a copy of the self-titled debut album by vocal duo Two Tons O' Fun.

Two Tons O' Fun (1980)

Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes (later Armistead) met as members of a gospel choir and later became backing vocalists for husband and wife team Paradise Express and disco star Sylvester.  This was the first of two albums released in 1980 under the Two Tons moniker, after which they changed their name to the Weather Girls, best known for the hit Its Raining Men. They had huge voices to match their personalities, and this debut is a fun record of soulful disco pop.

A previous owner decided for whatever reason (perhaps an art project) to customise the sleeve with a fake description and imagined list of credits, as well as some cartoon speech bubbles:

Front cover

Front cover

Rear cover

Rear cover

Wash was later the voice on hits for Black Box (Everybody Everybody) and C+C Music Factory (Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)) via some demo recordings. Like many singers of her calibre who either contributed vocals to dance hits or were sampled for them (e.g. Loleatta Holloway, also for Black Box), she went uncredited at the time.  She later sued and was given credit, if not royalties.  Rhodes died in 2004 aged 62.

This caught my eye at a boot sale last autumn, and cost me a pound.

International Sweethearts of Rhythm (1984)

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm were a pioneering swing and jazz band formed in the late 1930s at Piney Woods Country Life School for poor and orphaned African-American and mixed race children.  Originally the all-female group were beginner musicians put together to raise funds for the school, but as their popularity increased, several professionals were added to their ranks in order to capitalise on their success and they began traveling out of their home state of Mississippi, eventually being invited to play for the USO in France and Germany during the war.  Because the Sweethearts also took on white members it can lay claim to being the first all-female integrated jazz band, as well as just an absolutely shit-hot bunch of musicians.

This group of recordings (some from 78rpm discs, but most from radio broadcasts) was compiled by feminist writer and historian Rosetta Reitz on her label Rosetta Records, which put out several other vintage recordings during the 1980s by women from the worlds of jazz and blues:

Illustrated sleeve notes begin on rear cover, then continue on 4-page

The album package includes extensive sleeve notes and photographs, and I think I'll be very lucky to find any more from this series, clearly a labour of love, for as little as a pound again.  Here's a taste, the first video featuring Tiny Davis on vocals and trumpet, and the second fronted by Anna Mae Winburn.

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