Recommendations - April 2007


Being a sucker for British pressings of original American jazz LPs does have more problems than it does advantages. Some people think the British HMV pressing of A Love Supreme is the supreme audio pressing- which is an advantage I suppose, while others prefer the lavish gatefolded USA edition. I have no idea, sonically or otherwise why I prefer British pressings of these LPs, but I do know they're a bloody nightmare to find. This one has taken at least ten years to track down. I don't think anyone took any notice of it when it was originally pressed in this country, and very few people take notice of it today. But it is a true marvel in sound and sometimes dead funny instruments. When all the fast boppy stuff stops it's like jazz from a different planet, but without getting all Sun Ra like.


Rarely do you get to see an LP with a good pop up gatefold thing going on, except for that crap Ronco one that gets dragged out every Christmas. When you open this Zoo LP up a whole mini Zoo appears in the gatefold, a giraffe, elephant, owl, tiger and loads more. It's such a good menagerie of cardboard I have not even scanned it for you, so you're going to just have to think hard about how it might look. Musically it's a bit insane, and as one of Spoerri's late 60s forays into jazz it strays into easy territory on one or two tracks. Every cue has an animal theme of course, like "What's Up Pussycat" and "Meeta Cheetah" and I really like this record but every time I put it on I have to go and sort something else out so I only ever manage to hear it properly as it starts.


This woman seems to be obsessed by the whole Spring thing. She made loads of LPs all with the word Spring somewhere in the title, but this I believe is the best one. The album represents two of my favourite artists all at the same time, Karin singing Michel Legrand, and it comes out like no other Legrand you may have heard. Classics like Ask Yourself Why don't sound like classics at all here. It's also quite funky, which surprised me a bit, but overall I do like this record and have been listening a lot just to ask myself why.


This was first played to me by Fred Deakin, and includes the dazzling Hoagy Carmichael number "My Resistance Is Low". There's something very special about this song, especially the way Bernard sings it, all sensitive and all touching. He was possibly head over heels in love at the time of singing this and I think it comes out that way. It's rare to find something so emotionally honest and fine. Anyway, at last I found one, but not a normal one. This copy is an export pressing, made in the UK by EMI, but pressed with an Odeon label, and big export stickers covering up the EMI logos. I think that's unusual. It's worth me also pointing out that his outfit is not too dissimilar to the look I have been cultivating most evenings around the house. I have no flower though. Oh and finally, most of the album is penned by Ted Dicks who wrote Catweasel. You can hear this killer "Resistance Is Low" track on the new and recommended "Triptych" compilation, out now somewhere. It's very good, 3 CDs and four hours of music of a very high standard. This plug is now over.


My knowledge of Wooden Horse is slight, I know they recorded for the Yorkshire TV label, but that's where it stops. This is one of their singles, called Wooden Horses and unusually, this has a paper insert with a picture of them all on it, which I think is simply for promotion. It's a good idea the promotional photo, and as you can see here, they have really pushed the boat out. As for the music, it's very folky and has a touch of the Californias about it. You know, peaceful harmonious music with a sad and beautiful edge. There is something quite lovely going on here, but only on one side.


The problem is when you try and find this record on a computer or in any form of music reference system you will always come across Echo And The Bunnymen. But no, this is not Ian "Mac" McCulloch, this is an older, far less successful artist. From 1964, this hypnotic folk thing really should not be played that often, as it's is so forlorn and miserable you really do want to top yourself afterwards.


Many years ago I had this soundtrack and I traded it for something really bad. So I have tried for a long time to get another without much luck at all. I now have another, I have not listened to it yet but the film is great and this is sitting there, in the listening pile waiting for the right time. Well any time. I'll let you know when I've listened. I think I got shot of it originally thinking that it was a trad jazz record, which of course it isn't, I hope. I think everyone has a thick moment, mine happen daily. Sometimes hourly.


There is no way you are going to leave an album by the doodletown pipers if you see one in a shop. I mean where the hell is doodle town anyway? And just look at those outfits. Like sweets or something. Obviously they are happy and clappy and maybe they are all thinking about leaping off the large concrete thing they've been asked to pose on top of. This is vocal harmony by the way, and I bought it because there are some interesting cover versions here, and also I secretly plan to dress like them. My mother is already altering my trousers.


This may have already appeared on these pages, but it's here again because I've found a different pressing, with a seemingly different mix and arrangement. Yes, I really am that dull. This pressing, the USA demo, is different to the Japanese single issued a few years later on. This one has a quiet guitar thing going on, which is subtle, but makes a difference. I have even tried this track out on fellow Conversation groupie Joel Martin, and he noticed the difference straight away. He's just as dull as me. Anyway, when I've been playing out recently, I've been mixing this track in with Inchworm from the Hans Christian Anderson / Danny Kaye / Frank Loesser soundtrack and they go together like Eric and Hattie, or lemon and lime, or dog pooh and pavements.


Blimey (yes Derek), it's a soundtrack to a film all about Eddie Mercs. I'd love to see this film - just imagine, shots of gruelling 70s king of the mountain bike climbs and exciting freewheel crashes all set to the sound of killer 18th century music. Bonkers I reckon. If anyone knows where I can find this film I would love to see it. David Munrow killed himself shortly after this recording. There are several theories as to why he rubbed himself out, none of which I will elaborate on here. One day there will be a reassessment of Munrow's work, and loads of people will go "oooooh" and "wooooow". Until then you will be able to roam about the UK, France or the interweb and pick up his soundtracks and authentic renaissance recordings for the price of a broken egg.


I have no idea about Eric Siday, no idea at all. His name sounds French but he (or she) may well be a masquerading British musak fiend or someone like that. The Sounds Of Now is a short series of library records from the late 1960s, mostly with quick evil little electronic and electro-acoustic tracks on them. Titles like bogo pogo and bum-zip. But there is something exciting, heavy and very unpredictable in putting one of these LPs on the turntable and wondering what on earth is going to come next. My life is just sooooo much fun sometimes.


Another dreadful obsession is gathering British pressings of soundtrack LPs. These were dead easy to find in olden days, but now they're little buggers to track down. This is a great one, a Stanley Baker film (hands up who loves Stanley Baker films) and has some quite lovely pastoral passages with harp and strings in amongst the harder burglary sequences. Track titles such as "Born To Lose" and "Portrait Of a Loser" are quite wonderful, and Jackie Lee, her of White Horses fame sings here a bit. On this British pressing you get to see the photo of Mr Baker instead of a bad drawing, and just check out those massive Ever Ready PP9 batteries on the front cover. Sexy.


You can read all about this on the page all about the new release of Blood On Satan's Claw.


Yes, Neil Hefti is having a lovely time here - good songs, good melodies and funny jazz bits too. It's just a great album, some of the time. I'm hoping it will give me subliminal tips now I'm married.


My son is called Bert, and therefore it seems appropriate that I now torture him every night at bedtime with a Bert and Ernie number from this great LP. Sadly, my Bert does not sing-along. The good news is though my Bert does not have a mono brow like the legendary Bert in this photo. Incidentally, back in the mid 20th century, if you had a bath all kinds of rubbery toys would have been on offer to you. Rubber fish, rubber pigs, rubber whatevers. It was not until the early 1970s and the track Rubber Duckie sung by Ernie hit the US charts that the rubber duckie as we know and love it became firmly established as the simple and ultimate bathtime toy - the only wet friend you'll ever need. This story may not be true but I'd like to think it is.


There is no way I could ever afford one of these in its original form, and if I did find one the chances are very good that it would be in very bad shape. So, I am happy to settle for it on a new seven inch pressing from Honest Jons. It has everything I want from a latin track, it cooks, it's exceptionally groovy and all the little backing vocalists are singing hilarious ditties at just the right moment. I spoke to Mark at Honest Jons about it, going on as I usually do about how faultless I thought this was as a track, and he told me he was under the slight impression the track was all about Charlie. Not the Charlie who recently installed a new sink in my bathroom, but the drug known as charlie. It doesn't make that much sense to me as people who take the drug known as charlie could never be as cool as this track.


More killer latin in the shape of a peculiar covers LP by the afro cuban legend Bobby Montez. Again, this is a British pressing on Vogue, and not easy to find at all. I reckon about 30 of these probably sold when it first came out, and it nicely pre-dates many of the classic easy listening covers albums we all know and love. And it's better then most of them too.


One of a longish series of new CDs celebrating the mental music produced by Nikkatsu studios. This important studio made and released some of the most kinky and exploitative far eastern films of the 60s and 70s, became famous for their "pink" style of movie making and generally had a super time turning naked female knife-wielding teens into superstars. The music for these perverted oddities is almost as you'd expect, until it does something you don't expect, like go all hip and avant garde. Very good releases indeed, I just wish I could read Japanese and then I could join in more and also tell you further interesting facts.


Found this in a shop and first thought it was a newspaper. That's what it is supposed to look like. It's really a record, a sampler for four different acts, all part of the legendary Italian proggy scene of the early 1970s. This is a very high end area of music collecting which I have always avoided but I did wonder how on earth this RCA sampler found its way into a record shop in Stoke Newington. I bought it out of curiosity helped on by the EVERYTHING HALF PRICE sign hanging over the rack. Once home I realised this was quite a good record, helped on by the presence of three tracks by a band called Living Music, a delicious combo of Italian library and jazz nutters all going folky. I even listened to it in the dark to add to the overall weirdness of it and got lost in my own front room. Yes, I know I have got the title wrong and it's Free Dimension.


More library here in the shape of a man who is probably not that man at all. It sounds to me like Oddi could well a pseudonym, but whoever he may be, he certainly knows how to make quite good music in that catchy groovy Italian way. However the album is a touch on the unpredictable side, one minute he's being all lovey dovey and the next he isn't. Maybe that's what's keeping me listening. I also love gorping at the sleeve. Old men, bikes, hats and facial hair. Wow.


This was also in the EVERYTHING HALF PRICE sale in the shop that SOUND DIMENSION came from. And boy, is this bad but almost in a good bad way. It features cover versions of Singin' In The Rain and other such sing-a-long hits, but the album really reaches a massive low with a 5 minute electric 80s version of Puttin' On The Ritz, which includes a killer bit of cheesy vocoder coming in and delivering the "super dooper" bit which if you remember, rhymes with "Gary Cooper" in the song. As soon as you see this album (and you will find one) you know this is an 80s album because everything on the cover is on a rubbish slant. Why did they do that in the 80s, put everything at an angle? I really don't understand, as it always looks shit. I think I paid a fair price for the album, nearly took the sticker off then decided to leave it so I do not have to re-price it when I sell it on.


I really rate this film. To me it's like the Get Carter of rock movies, it has that gritty realistic northern edge, some killer humour and a fabulous cast who can really act. That's right, Slade can act. I'm listening to the album again because it has just been reissued and I had to review it, and the opening number "How Does It Feel" is a sombre, heartfelt bluesy epic masterpiece. You should buy this album just for the opener. And it doesn't sound like Slade at all. You'll easily find a secondhand vinyl copy for very little.