Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Friday, 25 March 2016

Little Box Of Horrors - The Singles

This time last year my other half undertook the unhappy and somewhat daunting task of clearing his late parents' house, and one day he came home with a 1970s Philips portable record player and a small box of assorted singles.


There was no mains lead for the player, so I bought some batteries for it, but although there were signs of life, it produced no sound.  Mr B took it to a local chap to be fixed, and when we had heard nothing for a few weeks I promptly forgot about it.  About six months later I remembered and called the guy, to be told, "Oh yes, it's all ready, you can come and collect it today if you like".  He'd got it working again, cleaned it up and even found a suitable mains lead, all for 25 quid.


Philips portable player, now in full working condition.  The stylus flips
over to a needle for playing 78s.

A couple of weeks ago I began delving into the box of 45s.  I listened to them all - indeed I listened the heck out of them, even the b-sides - and can report that it's largely an horrific collection of Benny Hill, Perry Como and the Singing Nun, but there are a few gems too.

The box contained 22 singles/EPs in all, several unsleeved or in paper bags.

Lets have a look at some of the best, as well as some of the, shall we say, more interesting ones.


The Tornados - Telstar b/w Jungle Fever (1962)

The Tornados' rhythm guitarist was George
Bellamy, father of Muse's Matt.
Written and produced by trailblazing pop experimentalist Joe Meek, Telstar was his most successful production, selling 5 million copies worldwide.  Named after the telecommunications satellite, this space-age instrumental opens with a fluttering noise meant to sound like radio interference.  An ascending electronic fanfare leads into an eerie melody line played on a Clavioline keyboard by session musician Geoff Goddard.  This part was overdubbed after the main recording session, as the Tordados had to hot-foot it from London back to Great Yarmouth where they were appearing in a series of shows. Geoff also provided the vocal "ahh-ahh"s, which along with the twangy guitar break and galloping beat make the whole thing sound like the soundtrack for an off-kilter Western.

The excellent B-side Jungle Fever was recorded during the same hurried session as Telstar, and is full of animal sound effects, plus some more muffled vocalisations from good sport Goddard.


Renée & Renato - Save Your Love b/w Love Is Not The Reason (1982)

Renato Pagliari trained in his home country of Italy as a professional waiter, and used his vocal talents to attract customers by bursting into song, ensuring that he was always in demand in the restaurant trade (it would have made me run in the opposite direction).  After moving to the UK he entered the TV talent show New Faces in 1975, where he was spotted by songwriter Johnny Edward, who felt sure that Renato's operatic tenor would be perfect for a ballad he'd written called Save Your Love.  After several business-related setbacks, in 1982 female singer Hilary Lester joined Renato as "Renée" to record it, and this shmaltzy, overblown monstrosity reached the top of the charts in December, remaining there for four weeks over Christmas.  "Renée" didn't appear in the music video as by this time she'd already joined another group, so a model acted as a stand-in.

The duo were contracted for two more singles, both of which flopped.  Luckily they weren't in the box of singles or I'd have been obliged to listen to them both; frankly, having to hear Save Your Love was trial enough, and the less said about its b-side the better.


The Shadows - Wonderful Land of The Shadows EP (1962)

This sadly rather trashed EP dates from the 18-month period when the group's line-up consisted of Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Warren Bennett and Brian Locking, and is a great little collection of the Shad's trademark instrumental surf-rock.  It was obviously well loved and much played as it now couldn't be graded higher than FAB (Frisbee At Best).  It's certainly one of the better records in the box, which makes its poor condition rather ironic next to the almost mint Renée & Renato disc.
Track list:
A1. Wonderful Land
A2. Midnight
B1. Stars Fell On Stockton
B2. 36-24-36

Stars Fell On Stockton was written by Bennett, who'd just replaced Tony Meehan on drums, and the single release of Wonderful Land with 'Stars...' on the flip was a UK no.1, where it remained for eight weeks; longer than any other single of the entire 1960s.  36-24-36 was originally the b-side of Kon-Tiki, which had topped the charts in 1961. The EP peaked at no. 6.


The Barron Knights - Call Up The Groups (Medley) (1964)

The Barron Knights began life as a straight pop group, even playing in Hamburg during the early sixties, as was the trend.  Skilled mimics, they eventually turned their hand to novelty records when hordes of screaming girls failed to materialise.  Call Up The Groups (split into two parts over the disc) was their breakthrough record and is a comic medley where bands of the day sing about various aspects of military conscription (which had been abolished 4 years previously). So among others, we get the Rolling Stones complaining that they don't want to get their hair cut and join the Navy, and the Searchers singing about "hutments and tinware" to the tune of Needles & Pins.

It's not that bad, but unfortunately its no.3 placing in the UK charts only encouraged them, and the Knights went on in this vein for the rest of their career, inflicting "hilarious" parody songs such as Live In Trouble and The Topical Song on the great British public, until they finally gave it a bloody rest in the early '80s.


ABBA - Fernando b/w Hey, Hey Helen (1976)

Fernando is famously ABBA's best-selling single of all.  In the year of its release alone it sold 6 million copies worldwide, and total physical sales are estimated at an astonishing 10 million.  It was originally recorded in Swedish and with very different lyrics, by Ann Frid for her solo album "Frid ensam" (Frida Alone) the year before.

It was the foursome's first single not to appear on an album, and came in the the middle of a run of three consecutive no.1s for the group, between Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia.  The b-side Hey, Hey Helen is a cheery-sounding glam rocker on the rather less cheery subject of divorce and single motherhood.  So, a perfect ABBA song then.


The New Seekers - I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony) b/w Boom Town (1971)

Someone had put it in a red
Columbia sleeve, which made
my brain itch a bit.
This song is so unbearably sappy that the first time I played it I couldn't get to the end.  Steeling myself a week later I managed a whole play, and immediately decided that no further listening was necessary.

I was stunned to learn that it was a re-worked version of the "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" TV ad song - I'd always assumed that it was the other way around!  The New Seekers hurtled to no.1 in the UK with this drippy cringe-along MOR dross, and refused to budge for a month.  The song holds the no.17 position in the list of the 30 bestselling singles of the 1970s, and another song of theirs, You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me, is in this top 30 too, at no. 27. It too was in the box, but thankfully I've blanked that one out now.

The New Seekers were ridiculously (and inexplicably) successful, being chosen to represent the UK in the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest and scoring a dozen top 40 singles here. There's nowt so queer as folk.


Stevie Wonder - Uptight (Everything's Alright) b/w Purple Rain Drops (1965)

1965's Uptight was a breakthrough for Stevie as a songwriter, being his first co-write to breach the US top 20, peaking at no.3 on the Billboard chart.  It's a classic Motown 45; busy and dense with that relentless pounding beat, red-hot horn section, thunking bass, chiming guitar and cooing female bvs.

Berry Gordy was keen for his company's records to sound good on a car radio, and the Motown Sound was designed to cut through traffic noise and poor reception.  No wonder it sounds so flippin' great on the portable's single speaker, even though this particular copy, like nearly all the best records in the box, is a conservative PWC (Played With Chisel).


Leo Sayer - When I Need You b/w I Think We Fell In Love Too Fast (1976)

The unspeakably awful yet totally earwormy When I Need You is from little Leo's Endless Flight album, a charity shop and car boot perennial.  The single went Gold in both the US and UK, topping the charts in both territories and staying at no.1 over here for three no doubt interminable weeks for young Top Of The Pops viewers.  It's since been covered by such alternative icons as Julio Iglesias, Celine Dion and Cliff Richard, which doesn't really bear thinking about.

The b-side, I Think We Fell In Love Too Fast, is about a high school romance, and is a decent enough little pop song with the sort of '70s studio sheen and mildly funky edge that would appeal to fans of Steely Dan.


Connie Francis - Who's Sorry Now b/w You Were Only Fooling (While I Was Falling In Love) (1957)

This absolutely belting country song by Italian-American pop singer Connie Francis is the oldest single in the box by a full five years.  Connie's first ten releases flopped, with only one piercing the US top 100 (and only just - it stalled at no.99!).  Who's Sorry Now was recorded at the end of what was to be her final session at MGM before she left, as they'd decided not to renew her contract.

She didn't want to cover this 1920s popular ballad, but lost the battle of wills with her father, and a good job too.  The single was released in November '57 and an appearance on American Bandstand gave it an enormous boost, helping it to sell over a million copies by the summer.  It had reached no.1 in the UK by April, and although it remains her biggest hit Connie went on to have a further eight top 40 records before the decade's end.  Her life and career were a bit of a rollercoaster from then; I highly recommend you read her fascinating, often heartbreaking Wiki bio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connie_Francis


Clinton Ford - Why Don't Women Like Me b/w Dandy (1966)

Former Butlins Redcoat Clinton Ford (real name Ian Harrison) had his biggest success in 1962 with a song called Fanlight Fanny (yikes).  This cover of George Formby's Why Don't Women Like Me four years later didn't chart at all here, although it reached no.2 in Australia, making me wonder how on earth Mr. B's mum and dad ended up with a copy.  Still, it's a pleasant enough novelty song, with poor old Clinton looking around him and seeing no end of cauliflower-eared ugly mugs with fit birds on their arm, and wondering what exactly it is he's doing wrong.

The flip is a cover of the Kinks' Dandy (more famously covered by Herman's Hermits), with Clinton's club-singer style suiting this music hall-influenced song rather well.


I've made a playlist of all of these songs for your listening pleasure*, except for Renée and Renato, who sadly aren't on Spotify (I think they're holding out for the physical/download market - won't be long now!).  Oh, and the New Seeker's b-side Boom Town isn't there either, but if you're desperate to hear it I'm sure it's on Youtube.  I hope you've enjoyed this look through the Little Box of Horrors - The Singles.  There was one other interesting music-related object in the box, but you've probably had enough for now, so it'll do for another time.





*or y'know, something




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
contain 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: http://carbootvinyldiaries.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/life-is-dance.html

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.




*******************************


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.

Labels

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.