Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Instant Karma

Out for a walk during one of yesterday's downpours, I found a £20 note in a puddle.  My route took me past the local police station so I handed it in before having a quick look around the shops.

Maybe the karma police were watching, but as I walked past a charity shop that I'd not been in for a few weeks, I spotted this LP through the window:

Phil Spector's Christmas Album (1983)

I already own this fabulous album, having got it on eBay last Christmas, but it's in lovely condition so I'll hang on to it and maybe sell it on in December.

I found three other LPs that were keepers; the first was this sixties compilation:

Various Artists - Sixties Mix (1987)

60s comps were hugely popular in the 80s, and many, like this one were sequenced as non-stop party mixes i.e. all the tracks stitched together.  Luckily this one is mixed in a restrained fashion without any annoying Jive Bunny-esque effects!  It's a perfect album for dancing around the living room to on a rainy Sunday morning, which is exactly what I was doing earlier.

I also got Squeeze's singles collection; 45s & Under:

Squeeze - 45s & Under (1982)

Top tracks:  Squeeze – Up The Junction       Squeeze – Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)

                         Squeeze – Labelled With Love             Squeeze – Cool For Cats - Single Edit

It dawned on me when playing it that one of my favourite Squeeze songs isn't called 'Pulling Muscles For Michelle'.  Ah.

Lastly was a 1980 Gladys Knight LP, from the hugely successful K-Tel budget compilation company:

Gladys Knight & the Pips - The Touch Of Love (1980)

Top tracks:  Gladys Knight & The Pips – Midnight Train To Georgia

                       Gladys Knight & The Pips – Help Me Make It Through The Night - Single Version

                                 Gladys Knight & The Pips – The Look Of Love

Each album cost just £1 - not bad for a soggy Saturday, and it more than makes up for no car boot sale this weekend.  Hopefully I'll get back out there next Sunday, but the weather forecast for May ain't looking good.

On the bright side, if no-one claims the lost note within 28 days, I'm 20 quid up - hooray!

Friday, 27 April 2012

Rich and Famous

My sister over at Vintage Vicki bought me an album from a local charity shop last week for 50p, by a band whose frontman came from our little town on the Suffolk coast:

Blue Mercedes - Rich and Famous (1988)

Dance-pop duo Blue Mercedes were Duncan Millar and local boy David Titlow (left of pic).  They formed in London in 1984 and released just one album; Rich & Famous, in 1988.

I remember seeing them on TOTP at the time of their UK hit 'I Want To Be Your Property' and the general fuss at school at the fact that David was from our town.  This single was their best success in the UK, reaching no.23 in October 1987.  They had more success in the US than here, with three hits (including a no.1) in the Hot Dance Play chart.

Rich & Famous is typical late 80s hooky chart fayre, with a strong Stock/ Aitken/Waterman sound to it (unsurprisingly it was produced for Pete Waterman's PWL production company) with a fruity Martin Fry/Tony Hadleigh vocal from David.

Here they are on TOTP with their biggest single:

While 'I Want...' got to no.1 in the US Hot Dance Play chart, 'Love Is The Gun' reached no.5 and 'See Want Must Have' got as far as no.18.  The album only reached 165 in the US and didn't chart at all in the UK, although I'm sure several copies were bought round here at least.

Duncan later released dance records under various names including Exoterix and now makes albums of "smooth jazz".  David is now a successful fashion/music photographer.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

American hearts

Last Sunday's car boot sale was a busy one (despite the cold) but unfortunately I came home empty-handed.  There were no gems to found hidden away amongst the usual piles of Mantovani, James Last and Englebert Humperdink and so today I thought I'd talk about a particular favourite used-vinyl find.

A couple of years ago I was in a local charity shop when I found a filthy-looking record in a scruffy plain card sleeve - so of course I had to take a look!

It turned out to be an album called 'Hearts' by America; a band I'd heard of but then only knew the song 'A Horse With No Name' (not on this album).  Once cleaned up, the LP was in fine condition and I played it a lot over the next few days.  I can't tell you how much I now love this.  It's the record I reach for when I'm feeling a bit frazzled, tired or stressed and it never fails to stop my teeth from grinding or my brain from twitching.  It almost always leaves me feeling calm and clear-headed.

America - Hearts (1975)
Like most of America's output it's fairly light folk/country rock.  Their fifth studio album, and the second to be produced by George Martin, it reached no.4 in the US in 1975 and produced three singles; the fantastic Sister Golden Hair, Daisy Jane and Woman Tonight.

I'm always on the look out for more of their records at boot sales and charity shops - I mentioned their album Hat Trick last year here.

The CD version was never released in the UK so I bought a US import via eBay, as it's a record I don't ever want to be without!  Top tracks:

America – Daisy Jane         America – Half A Man         America – Company  

America – Woman Tonight      America – Seasons

The guitar intro to Sister Golden Hair was apparently unashamedly nicked from George Harrison's 'My Sweet Lord'.  I forgive them.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Handle With Care

After two rather disappointing car boot sales over the Easter weekend I resorted to eBay for a vinyl fix and ended up with two very different albums from 1988.

The first was Bomb The Bass' debut Into The Dragon, for 99p:

Bomb The Bass - Into The Dragon (1988)

I've mentioned this fantastic album before in a post about the lead single 'Beat Dis'.  The other singles were 'Megablast', 'Don't Make Me Wait' and a cover of 'Say A Little Prayer'.  The album's blend of of hip-hop, breaks, funk samples and movie dialogue is sewn together with between-track faux pirate radio announcements from the great and good including Jazzy B, Westwood and Mark Moore from S'Express.

                            Bomb The Bass – Megablast - Hip Hop On Precinct 13 (7" Mix)

                                    Bomb The Bass – Say A Little Prayer feat. Maureen

Next was The Traveling Wilburys' Vol.1, for £2.99:

The Traveling Wilbuys - Vol.1 (1988)

These guys were the epitome of a supergroup.  The driving force was George Harrison, who together with ELO's Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty recorded this great album of heartland rock which reached no.3 in the US and no.16 in the UK.  I thought I only knew the lead single from the album; the joyful 'Handle With Care', but on playing it I realised that I knew every single song.  My Dad bought a cassette copy when it came out and he must have played the heck out of it around the house!

You can tell that the group really enjoyed making the album (apparently recorded in just ten days at the home of Eurythmics' Dave Stewart) as the sense of fun really seeps through into the music.

It's not on Spotify so here's 'Handle With Care' on Youtube:

It's a really sweet video and all the more moving when you remember that two of the group are no longer around.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Dirty and sweet, oh yeah

I picked up a decent copy of T. Rex's Electric Warrior at last Sunday's car boot sale for £5:

T. Rex - Electric Warrior (1971)

Like 1972's The Slider which I got a couple of weeks before, it was produced by Tony Visconti.  It was Bolan's first foray into glam rock, and undoubtedly his best, with its hook-heavy bubblegum boogie and tongue-in-cheek sleazy stomp.  It's biggest hits were 'Get It On' and 'Jeepster' but other top tracks include the unsettling-yet-dreamy 'Cosmic Dancer' (one of five T. Rex songs used in the Billy Elliot soundtrack), 'The Motivator' and 'Planet Queen', with a special mention for the chewy guitar of 'Monolith'.

Bolan in '71
The album went to no.1 twice in the UK between December '71 and February '72 and was the biggest seller of '71.  It's also number 160 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.

Here are some Spotify links:

T. Rex – Planet Queen

T. Rex – Cosmic Dancer

T. Rex – Jeepster

T. Rex – Get It On

And the original Rolling Stone review:

The 40th anniversary Deluxe Edition is out on the 23rd of April, remastered by Visconti and in a variety of formats including a lavish Super-Deluxe box set.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Rain Or Shine

Deniece Pearson's appearance on last Saturday's episode of the The Voice (UK) prompted me to look through the remains of my childhood record collection for Five Star's 1986 album Silk & Steel, given to me for my 12th birthday:

Five Star - Silk & Steel (1986)

Romford's answer to the Jackson 5, Five Star were a brother-and-sister pop group heavily influenced by the likes of Janet, Michael and family.  In fact like the Jacksons, they were managed and produced by their father Buster, who also set up a record label (Tent, on RCA) in order to release their work.

Famous for their matching outfits (quite often jumpsuits) and dance routines, they were hugely successful in the mid 80s, with this, their second album going to number one and reaching quadruple platinum status.  They also did pretty well overseas, with several top 40 singles in the US.

The inner album sleeve contains a profile of each member, helpfully informing us of all their heights, eye colour, favourite films and other such stuff that their fans just had to know.  We learn that Doris' (Doris!) 'Worst Experience' was her trousers falling down on TV.  Their eventual slide down the charts and rumoured bankruptcy would eventually trump this experience for poor Doris and co. however.

I loved Five Star, althought I never bothered with their next album Between The Lines (1987).  My best friend had a copy and it wasn't half as good as Silk & Steel.  Most of the songs on this album still stand up very well.  The band are apparently now reunited and back on tour for 2012 including the Rewind Festivals, so catch them if you can!

Top Tracks:


Five Star – If I Say Yes          Five Star – Rain Or Shine           Five Star – Stay Out Of My Life