Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Thursday, 27 September 2012

All Aboard!

Back in May of this year the restored Yellow Submarine was released on DVD and despite being a Beatles fan I'd only ever seen a few clips, so I bought a copy.  This psychedelic animated adventure stars the Fab Four and other assorted fantastical beings, and naturally has an excellent soundtrack.

A couple of weeks ago I came across a vinyl copy of the Yellow Submarine LP.  It was priced at £10 but I couldn't resist, especially when the seller threw in Bruce Springsteen's Human Touch album for free.

The Beatles - Yellow Submarine (1969)

This copy is a UK issue which was pressed in 1973 under contract in France by Pathe Marconi.  At the time EMI's pressing plant in Hayes was undergoing refurbishment, so many albums were produced this way.  The sleeve was made in the UK as usual.

Side 1 label.  If you look either side of the stalk it reads Made in
France by Pathe Marconi.

Yellow Submarine was the Beatles' 10th studio album.  It contains two Harrisongs; It's All Too Much and Only a Northern Song.  Where the title track seems out of place on its parent album Revolver, in context here it sounds much better.  My favourite song All Together Now is followed by the heavy romp of Hey Bulldog.  Side 1 closes with All You Need Is Love; a 1967 no.1 single from the Magical Mystery Tour EP.

Side 2 is a collection of excerpts from the film's score, written and arranged by George Martin.  Titles include March of the Meanies, Pepperland Laid Waste and Sea of Holes.  If you've never seen the film I'd highly recommend it.  Here's my top track:

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Golden Years part 2

We all love a good music compilation.  Well I do, anyway; they can act as a gateway into an artist, genre or even time span.  Recent CD purchases have included best-ofs by The Fall, Ella Fitzgerald, The Small Faces and Nina Simone - all artists with a lengthy back catalogue where a compilation can give the listener a fair overview of their career.  Others include collections of doo-wop, 60's garage/psych and Chicago house, which can provide a toe-dip into a vast ocean of music.

Recent car boot sales have thrown up a few good comps.  I was very pleased to find Island Life by Grace Jones for just 50p last Sunday:

Grace Jones - Island Life (1985)
Inner gatefold

This is a great compilation of songs from her debut album Portfolio (1977) through to 1985's Slave To The Rhythm.  I love Grace and my favourite tracks here are those dubby ones from her collaborations with Sly & Robbie, e.g. Walking In The Rain and of course the smash hit Pull Up To The Bumper.  If Island Life also included Warm Leatherette it would be perfect.

Glen Campbell's Greatest Hits cost £1 a couple of weeks ago:

Glen Campbell's Greatest Hits (1971)

This covers a dozen hits from 1967's By The Time I Get To Phoenix up until 1971's Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream), taking in the evergreen Galveston and Wichita Lineman.

A Shirelles greatest hits from Pye's Golden Hour series cost £1:

The Shirelles - Greatest Hits (1973)

This comprehensive collection from the original girl group packs 26 hits into a "Golden Hour" of listening pleasure, including songs written by Goffin & King, Del Shannon, Burt Bacharach and Phil Spector.  Hits include Mama Said, Baby It's You, Tears On My Pillow, I Met Him On A Sunday and one of the most perfect pop songs of all time Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.

I rarely buy cassettes these days but couldn't resist this sixties comp. at just 50p:

Sixtie Mix Two (1988)

Like part one of this series which I got on vinyl in a charity shop earlier this year, it's a continuous mix of top ten 60s hits, boasting 60 tracks from The Applejacks, Animals and Amen Corner to, er, Zager & Evans.  With a cassette player in the car, we listened to it all the way home last Sunday.  This kind of thing was very popular in the eighties, providing a non-stop mix for parties, except of course for turning over/changing the record or tape!

Here are the Shirelles...


Monday, 17 September 2012


Peter in 1978
After leaving Genesis in 1975 Peter Gabriel released five albums on the Charisma label, the first four of which were self-titled.  I bought the second and fourth of these albums at a recent car boot sale for £1 each.

Firstly was 1978's Peter Gabriel, the second of this run of albums and also known as "Scratch".

Produced by Robert Fripp, this is an album of eccentric piano-rock, with Roy "The Professor" Bittan from the E-Street Band behind the piano.

Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (1978)

As well as bestowing some excellent guitar solos Fripp makes use of his synthesiser skills and tape-looping techniques (Frippertronics).

The opening song "On The Air" is the story of Gabriel's character 'Mozo' broadcasting his amateur radio show from his secret riverside shack.

Another of my favourites is "A Wonderful Day In A One-Way World", which is bouncy, bassy and fun, even though it appears to be about a man becoming trapped in a supermarket (you never can tell for sure with Gabriel's lyrics).  The tender "White Shadow" is another standout.

"Scratch" is not widely regarded as one his best records but I disagree, although it does tail off a bit towards the end with the exception of "Home Sweet Home", a tragic tale of loss and gain.

Peter Gabriel no.3 was released in 1980.  Also known as "Melt", I found it at one of last year's boot sales.  No.4 was released two years later and is often referred to as "Security"; it's official name in the US and surely better than Scary Face:

Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (Security in USA) (1982)
"Melt" was written using digital equipment and Security continues this new-found way of making music (well, it was the 80s), adding elements from his travels; namely Latin rhythms and African drumming.

Opener "Rhythm Of The Heat" is wonderfully percussive with a thrilling finale.  On the album as a whole and in particular with this song, Gabriel's gorgeously husky voice is allowed to soar, in marked contrast to "Scratch" where is seems reined in.

Long-time collaborator Tony Levin's bass is always a joy to hear and is well used on songs such as the twinkling "San Jacinto", "Kiss Of Life" and "Wallflower".  The latter is a dark description of life for a political prisoner held in a psychiatric instiution, the white-coated staff chillingly portrayed;
"Their eyes are all as hidden as their Hippocratic Oath".
The dark themes continue with a disturbing depiction of a wedding-as-voodoo-sacrifice in "The Family And The Fishing Net".  The human need for physical contact is explored in "Lay Your Hands On Me" and "I Have The Touch".  The single "Shock The Monkey" reached no.29 in the US but only 58 in his home country.

From his five albums on Charisma, only number 1 (or "Car") has yet to turn up at a car boot sale so far.  I must fight the urge to get it from eBay.  Here's "A Wonderful Day..." followed by "San Jacinto".

Monday, 10 September 2012

Nobody's Children

During Ceausescu's rule of Romania, attempts to boost the country's population included a ban on abortion and contraception.  This led to thousands of unwanted children being abandoned by their parents.  With their already pitiful resources orphanages were unable to cope and the result was an unimaginable toll on the physical and mental health of a huge number of Romanian children.

At the end of 1989 Ceausescu and his wife were executed after the government was overthrown. The wider world became aware of the terrible conditions in these hundreds of orphanages and the suffering that was taking place.

Many charities were spurred into action and many new charities formed.

George Harrison's wife Olivia founded the Romanian Angel Appeal (RAA) along with the other Beatle wives Linda McCartney, Barbara Bach and Yoko Ono.  Together with a raft of friends and contacts they organised a fundraising album called Nobody's Child in 1990, a copy of which I found at one of yesterday's car boot sales for £1:

Nobody's Child - Romanian Angel Appeal (1990)

It consists of fourteen songs "donated" by an array of musicians including Elton John, the Traveling Wilburys, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder and the Bee Gees, but the crowning glory of the album must surely be the epic "Civil War" by Guns 'n' Roses.  I was in high school at this time and thoroughly obsessed with G'n'R.  I remember that this song was also used as the b-side to the single "You Could Be Mine", which I still have somewhere on cassingle!

The RAA Foundation was registered in Romania in 1991 and continues it's work with vulnerable children to this day.  Since a secondhand purchase of the LP wasn't really in keeping with the original spirit of the album I donated £10 to UNICEF, one of the RAA Foundation's partners/sponsors.  You can too here.  Here's "Civil War".

Monday, 3 September 2012

Animal collective

Yesterday brought a bright and sunny car boot sale with a scattering of vinyl to flip through, and I left with four records.  The first was The Animals' self-titled debut from 1964:

The Animals (1964)
The Animals were originally from Newcastle and were part of the sixties British invasion of the US.

This debut, like so many others of the time consists of nearly all cover versions, with songs from the world of blues and R&B e.g.  John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom", Fats Domino's "I've Been Around" and Larry Williams' "She Said Yeah".

The only original song is "Story of Bo Diddley", with lead singer Eric Burdon doing the spoken word parts not in his native Geordie accent, 

but a faux American one, which is highly amusing.

Oddly, neither of their two first singles from that year, "House of the Rising Sun" and "Baby Let Me Take You Home" (another cover) appear here.

My next buys, for £1 each were a 1980s budget re-issue of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and The Monkees' debut album (like The Animals, also self-titled).

Pet Sounds is often hailed as one of the greatest and most important albums of all time.  It was put together virtually single-handedly by Brian Wilson while the other Boys were on tour and contains some of their best-loved songs; "Wouldn't It Be Nice", "Sloop John B" and the magnificent "God Only Knows".

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (re-issue, originally 1966)

Next to these stone-cold killers some of the rest pales into filler, e.g. the instrumental title track, although this is probably an unfair comparison, plus Wilson's compositional abilities and production skills are undeniable and frankly astounding.

The Monkees' debut album was released here in the UK in 1967, the year after it's US release. It topped the charts in both countries and spawned one hit single "Last Train To Clarksville".  I remember taping this song from the radio as a kid in the eighties and it's still a big favourite.

The Monkees (1967-UK)

My last buy of the morning, again for £1 was Talk Talk's second album It's My Life:

Talk Talk - It's My Life (1984)

This album is from Talk Talk's early incarnation as a synth-pop band, before they began to evolve via The Colour Of Spring to their late-period albums Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock.  I really like this early stuff as well as their later work, so I was pleased to find it, particularly as I'd bought their first album The Party's Over at another boot sale a couple of weeks ago, also for £1:

Talk Talk - The Party's Over (1982)

My last find of the morning was The Encyclopedia of Albums:

Encyclopedia of Albums - M. Heatley, P. Lester
& C. Roberts (1998)
Bought for £4, this excellent book covers over 1000 albums and is edited by Mojo founder Paul Du Noyer.

In his foreword Du Noyer talks about the different album formats over the years.  Although digital downloads are mentioned, it is dated by his prediction that the Mini Disc would eventually be the format we would take to - who knew?!

Such a book might now seem a bit pointless given the wealth of online information at our disposal, but not only does it provide a concise overview of each album, it's a book that's enjoyable just to flick through - indeed, I got lost in it for a good hour or so yesterday afternoon.