Sunday, January 30, 2011

Various Artists "Guitar Mood" LP - international 1960s

This is the first LP I'm posting.  Most of the albums I'll be putting up are rarish compilations released in the past 30 years of even earlier and rarer music.  I don't own many original LPs by single artists that haven't been posted on other blogs, but I do have some and they will be posted eventually too.

This album is a bit of a mystery, with no label listed, not even a one-time joke label name as some compilers might use.  The notes suggest that the release is from France.  There are minimal liner notes on the back cover, and in cases where the compilers speculate I added question marks to the info below.  I believe I bought this at a used record store here in the US, likely for around $10, roughly 5-8 years ago.  I don't know when it was released.

The subtitle is Quite a Collection of Rare Instrumentals from Around the World!  This is an above average surf compilation, with tracks ranging from competent to excellent.  Recommended for fans of the Strummin' Mental series, although these tracks are less frantic and gimmicky, and the sound quality is better.

Of special note are the tracks by Japanese guitar god Takeshi Terauchi; these are reworkings of Japanese folk songs apparently.  "Tsugaru Jongara Bushi" might be the coolest instrumental I've ever heard.  The track "Damaged Goods" according to the compilers was The Ventures recording anonymously for the soundtrack of an STD instructional film.  Don't know if that's true but I'd like to believe it!

Side One:

"Tsugaru Jongara Bushi" - Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans (Japan)
"Limonsa de amores" - Los Relampagos (Spain)
"Damaged Goods" - Ventures? (USA)
"Spatial Slow" - Les Guitares (France)
"Rising Guitar" - Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans
"The Big Scroungy" - The Tronics (USA?)
"Hay quien dice de Jaen" - Los Relampagos
"Changhai" - Les Frangins (Belgium)

Side Two:

"Nit de llampecs" - Los Relampagos
"Moscow Guitar" - The Jokers (Netherlands is what the compilers said, a commenter says they were Belgian)
"Johnny on His Strings" - Electric Johnny & His Skyrockets (Indonesia/Netherlands)
"Sentimental Guitar" - Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans
"Java Guitar" - Timebreakers (Indonesia/Netherlands)
"Galaxie" - Les Guitares
"So-Ran Bushi" - Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans
"El Cumbanchero" - The Jokers


Friday, January 28, 2011

Bulldog "Doggy Doggy" b/w "Where Did She Go" - UK 1975

Another single from the 4 for 10 euro stack purchased in Rome, and again I was hoping for something a little more glam and got something more on the pop end.

There is no info on the sleeve about any band, and I suspect that this was a studio project hoping to score a novelty hit.  Songs were compsed by "A. Taylor" on the Blue Jean label, and distributed by "Spark It." (Italia?).  It seems safe to assume this is British.

The A-side reminds me of the George Baker Selection hit "Paloma Blanca", only with barking.  Seriously.  There's barking.  The B-side is filler, an Elvis impersonator-type goof on '50s rock'n'roll/pop that sounds like a Bonzo Dog or Move joke track.

Woof! Woof!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Doldrums - 4 song 7" EP - USA 1988

The most modern entry on the blog thus far is the first (and possibly rarest?) record put out by the Gainesville, Florida punk label No Idea.  This apparently untitled 7" EP was included in an issue of No Idea zine, which is still around and has an extensive website and huge roster of bands.  I probably bought the zine with this as an inclusion in 1988.

Unfortunately one of the first things listed in tracking down the band via search engine is the premature obituary of guitarist Russ Johnson, who passed in 2010.  He seems to have been a staple in the Gainesville music scene.

"... those who knew and performed with Johnson, or were touched by the music he made in bands in Gainesville's early punk era of the 1980s, will remember him as a nearly unstoppable presence on a scene for which he had undeniable impact.

The guitarist played in a host of groups including Stabilizer, All Star 69 and Dredge but is perhaps best known for playing in Doldrums, a band that played between 1986 and 1988 and were featured on the first, 7-inch EP produced by No Idea Records in the zine that formed the beginnings of the Gainesville record label in the mid-'80s.

“They were the obvious first choice (on which to feature an EP) because they were the band that locally brought everyone together,” said Var Thelin, founder and owner of No Idea Records. “They would bring in punk kids and they were bringing in kids who were leaning more toward metal; they had that fusion of hard- core and hard-rock, especially early on,” Thelin said."

There's no doubt that with the fuller than usual production and metal riffing this will appeal to NWOBHM fans as well as hardcore fans.  That's twice today I've been all excited about researching who the people were behind the music only to find out about a premature death.  It's probably best to just leave off of the posting for the day.

Guy Bedos et Sophie Daumier "La drague" b/w "Private-Club" - France 1973

This is another of the singles I bought at a second-hand store in Paris for a very small sum, probably 1 euro.  It's in excellent condition.

My college French told me that the A-side translated as "The Pick-Up" so I figured this would be a keeper.  It's pretty close to what I expected, a generally similar track to the scandalous Serge Gainsbourg / Jane Birkin classic and international hit "Je t'aime... moi non plus."  Only this isn't as good and there aren't the moaning sounds.

In fact this is less a couple of songs per se than a spoken word/comedy novelty item with minimal background music, especially the B-side which sounds to have been recorded live at some dinner theater-type venue.  This will likely have limited appeal for non-francophone readers unless you want some background sounds for your swingin' retro cocktail party.  Honestly a lot of this dialog goes by so quickly that I'm missing a third of the content and most of the jokes.  I find the B-side especially hard to follow.  If someone who understands more would like to comment on the content, please do.

So, who are these people?  "Guy Bedos (born June 15, 1934, in French Algeria) is an actor and stand-up comedian, mostly known in France for his part in the film Nous irons tous au paradis.  He is also famous for his left-wing political affiliation and support to politicians such as François Mitterrand."

"Sophie Daumier (24 November 1934 – 1 January 2004) was a French film actress. She appeared in 28 films between '56-'79.  She was born as Elisabeth Hugon ... the daughter of composer Georges Hugon. She was married to Guy Bedos from 1965 to 1977; the marriage ended in divorce."

Divorced and then dead... this is turning out to be one downer of a post, huh?

Remember better times here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Matia Bazar "Play Boy" b/w "Tu simplicita" - Italy 1978

Antonella Ruggiero began recording as "Matia" in 1974 and formed the band Matia Bazar (meaning simply "Matia Bazaar" in English) a couple of years later, in Genoa.  The band represented Italy in the 1979 Eurovision song contest, and had one #1 hit in Italy and Belgium (this is not it).  I don't think anyone in the US knows them.

Here is an extensive and quite cool official band site, here is their Wikipedia entry and here is a Russian-language fan site.  The official site also has a Russian option, so they must have a following there as well.

I had never heard of them until stumbling across this single in a second-hand store in Paris a couple of years ago, where I picked it up for 1 or 2 euro.  I bought a handful of other European discs with more obvious appeal (glam and surf) there that day, and a few will more will be posted here.  My copy is a French pressing although the lyric on both sides is in Italian.

The five-people-taking-a-bubble-bath cover led me to the purchase, and frankly at the price asked I didn't care much what the record sounded like.  As a bonus the music is quite good, the A-side despite the high-pitched female vocal reminds me of a later period George Martin-arranged Beatles song in a number of ways, down to a very George Harrison-style brief guitar solo.  The "kazoo" backing vocals especially make this sound like a song that would fit in with the early '70s "toytown" pop compilations that have been popular with psych fans in recent years, and I'm surprised that people were still turning out that kind of music several years later.

The B-side is a bit more sedate but also a nice pop tune that I would have guessed was recorded at least 5 years earlier.  Quality stuff.

Give it a listen!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nass el Ghiwane / ناس الغيوان "New Dervich" 45 - Morocco 1972

What tropicalia is to Brazil, the 1970s pop drawn from the Gnawa tradition is to Morocco.  One of the two big bands dating from the 1970s that led the movement was Nass El Ghiwane (link to their blog, in French).

"American film director Martin Scorcese once referred to them as The Rolling Stones of Africa. Their music merges the traditional music of Morocco with modern subjects. ... Nass el Ghiwane was formed in the late 60's by four young men from the poor district of Hay el Mohammadi in industrial Casablanca. ... Nass el Ghiwane specialized in writing colloquial poetry about topics related to the social and political climate, and arranging its music in the Moroccan tradition. ... In a time where the only music available was middle-eastern pop music that sang about love, Nass el Ghiwane had prepared something new for Morocco: they mixed the Sufi chants and litanies of Zaouias ... with the elegant colloquial poetry of Melhoun adding to it the ancient rhythms of the Berbers and the healing dances of the mystical Gnawas. Morocco has just had its independence from the French and its population, still uncertain of what the future is hiding, was shocked and moved by the texts of Nass el Ghiwane: corruption, injustice and degradation of society. They were the first Moroccan band to mix such a diverse and rich heritage and to speak their minds even about the most forbidden subjects, public discussion of which may have led to imprisonment at that time."  (See their Wikipedia entry for more.)

This record is from 1972, two years before the death of Boujemaa Hagour, who is described often as the leader or main initial creative force in the group.  Every time I spoke with a Moroccan music shop owner about this group, the owner would point him out in CD photos as "the one who died."  I bought this disc last year in an amazing music store in Essaouira called Bob Music, which is accurately described in some detail over at the Crud Crud blog (get yourself to the July 2010 entries).

This and a couple of the other records I'll probably post in the future are likely the very same ones that were mentioned there as too beaten up to be worth buying.  I likely overpaid for this at about US $10, but the same shop owner let me have some quality CDs at very low prices and I wasn't about to complain.  I enjoy even having the sleeve of something this cool.

This is one of my all-time favorite covers on a single, with striking colors and graphics.  The sound quality on this even after cleaning it is fairly rough; hope you like pops and crackles.  I suggest buying yourself a compilation or two of the band's releases, as I have, if this strikes your fancy.

Listen here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Julie Felix "Heaven Is Here" b/w "Soon" - UK/USA 1970

It's exciting how much music is out there.  No matter how much I think I know, there are always new artists and even whole genres to dig into of which I was previously unaware.

This is yet another one of the 7" discs I picked up in Rome at a used bookshop 4 per 10 euro.  Like the Chris Spedding single I opened the blog with, I picked this up in part because it was a Mickie Most/Rak label production.  This is the second post on the blog already of an Italian pressing of a single I assumed was a British artist, but is an American who had been working in Britain for a substantial period, becoming better known there than here.

I'm too young to have caught the '60s, but I have a pretty massive collection of '60s recordings, and you would think that I would be familiar with Julie Felix for one of any number of reasons.  The cover art plus the year gave me a pretty good idea of what this was going to sound like while I was still in the store, not knowing the name.

She played the Isle of Wight Festival in 1969, recorded several (mostly folk) albums in the UK beginning in 1964, was the resident singer for David Frost's BBC show, had her own TV show where she hosted performances of The Kinks, Jimmy Page (check out this video!) and Leonard Cohen.  This was the second Top 40 hit (#22) of hers in the UK for 1970.

Yet I'd never heard of her!  Ms. Felix is American but has lived in Britain for about 50 years.  She has an extensive website with info about her ongoing performances, ways to order CDs that cover a lot of her material spread over some years, and even join her fan club.

"Heaven Is Here" is an excellent pop-folk-rocker that Americans should hear.  The B-side is an OK typical B-side, providing a more introspective, slower song.  At times when Felix is really belting it out her voice reminds me of Joan Baez, but that's a starting point of reference and she has her own sound.

Give it a listen.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Naked - "One Step Forward Towards Reality" 7" EP - UK 1983

At long last, the first truly punk post of the blog.  This EP is on the Bluurg label, which has been continuously putting out punk since 1980, likely making it one of the oldest operating DIY labels on Earth.

If you follow the link to the label above, they have a CD out with what I'm sure is a better quality version of this EP plus four demo tapes of this band.  A few years back I checked out the website and this material was not apparently available in any format.  I'd like to order the CD myself, this sounds like a band that should have been able to record more than one record.

As early '80s punk/hardcore/thrash goes this is relatively melodic/ "musical" stuff.  Bluurg is the label run by Dick Lucas of Subhumans UK/ Culture Shock/ Citizen Fish fame.  That's about as solid a punk pedigree as exists, more than 30 years of DIY dedication and likely more benefit gigs than can be counted.

Lucas seems to have a fixation on fish and the catalog numbers all begin with that word, thus this record is fish 4.  At least it might be; according to the label's included ordering sheet that's the number for a cassette by a band called Organized Chaos; the record's label is marked fish 4 too.

I bought this 7" EP many years ago solely because it was on this label, and generally whatever was on the label displayed more talent and more thoughtfulness than most punk offerings of the '80s had available.  I wish I knew more about the band other than that they were English (County Kent) and on Bluurg, but that's what I've got.  Any additional info is welcome.  Some sources online have this as a 1982 release but the sleeve states these songs were recorded in 1983.

My two favorite tracks are "Smile" and "Alienn", and I have no idea why the latter is spelled that way.

Side A:

One Step Forward

Side B:

Evil Faces

Located here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bruce Foster "Platinum Heroes" b/w "(I Remember) The Revolution" - USA 1976

Don't those song titles scream glam?  This just has to be some T. Rex-style, jams-kicked-out rock, huh?

Unfortuately it isn't.  What you have on the A-side is a 5+ minute homage to The Beatles, running down their career from '64 into their '70s solo stuff.  The song borrows liberally from Beatles tunes throughout and is interesting mainly for that reason.  Somehow in 1976 people were already nostalgic for less than a decade earlier.  Some Beatles tunes actually charted a second time in various countries in the early '70s upon rerelease.

This A-side ends up sounding like a more restrained David Bowie or even Kim Fowley track, minus the melodrama or the palpable insanity respectively.  This is totally something Fowley would do, only his take would be somehow menacing.  The B-side is a ballad to the good ol' hippie activist days and the post-hippie "doin' my own thing" cultural miasma.  Not bad pop overall and an interesting artifact of people knowing even this early that a major wave had crested, and the blahs had set in.

The lyric to the A-side is on Foster's personal website, which gives a bio and plenty of other info and photos.  Foster is apparently descended from arch American songwriter Stephen Foster.  He was a session musician in the UK and in the US, and played keyboard for Status Quo, Gladys Knight and KISS.  Later he teamed up with a very young Richie Sambora and wrote material for/with him.  The album the single is drawn from is reviewed in a 1977 Billboard magazine you can read here.

I don't have my Billboard charts book handy but the claim is that the A-side did chart and received a lot of radio play, and still is played on radio, but I have no recollection of having heard this before.  Perhaps this was a bigger song in Europe than in the US.  It's also very possible that the single charted on the lower end of the Top 40, which for an artist who isn't a household name can absolutely bury you with the oldies and classic rock programmers.  My pressing is Italian and is another single from the stack bought in Rome, 4 per 10 euro.  I had assumed Foster was British.

The lyric states "I was there at Shea for their last show."  The Beatles' last live show was actually in San Francisco, unless you count the "rooftop concert."  Extra points for mentioning the "Paul is dead" craze and LSD use:

"We dug for clues back in 1970
They crossed the road but we just couldn't let them be
We saw the hangman, priest, and the prisoner
followed close by the gravedigger
Dropping tabs and playing back hidden incantations
Revelation's # 9
and counting black carnations"

Nice.  Grab it here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Space - "Magic Fly" b/w "Ballad for Space Lovers" - Italy 1977

This single was purchased at a used bookstore in Rome, Italy, less than 10 minutes' walking distance from Vatican City.  From the sacred to the profane, eh?

The hope was that this was some late glam stomper or a "Space Oddity"-type cosmic rock ballad.  No such luck; side A is a synthy instrumental probably meant to be played as a disco dance tune, and the flip is a less interesting instrumental synth ballad that at times reminds me of the theme from Last Tango in Paris.  I'm not even sure how I recall that, never having seen the movie but having seen the trailer once or twice.  I suppose the melody made an impression as images of a chubby, aging Marlon Brando were burned into my brain.

The faster side is interesting enough to merit inclusion on the blog, and might appeal to fans of the less funky tracks of Kraftwerk, or maybe even Depeche Mode.  The pic sleeve is a winner, and one wonders which part of speech "Fly" is in this context.  Just three posts in and I've already introduced a genre beyond the bounds I laid out for the blog, although in fairness I bought the record hoping for a rock gem and now maybe you won't make the same error if this doesn't float your boat.  Once I started playing a side on the wrong speed and it sounded equally interesting and slightly menacing.

This was likely a producer's studio project.  No musicians are listed and the composition is by "Ecama", no first name listed.  Between that name, the Vogue label apparently being Italian, most of the language on the label and sleeve being Italian and finding the record in Italy I conclude, using my advanced cognitive powers, that this was probably of Italian origin.  If someone knows otherwise, do tell.

This is one of a number of singles I picked up at this store at 4-for-10 euros, most of which will eventually end up here.

Blast off to '70s Euro-electronic-discoland here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

David McWilliams - "... Pearly Spencer" b/w "Harlem Lady" - UK 1967

Most psych fans at this point are familiar with the A-side of this single, "Days of Pearly Spencer", at the very least because it was featured on the second/international Nuggets box set.  Europeans in general and our British friends especially might well know the song from various versions which charted, including the original by McWilliams himself in 1967.

McWilliams was from Belfast and wrote this compelling tune about a homeless man he met in the mid-'60s, where it became a British hit via the famous pirate station Radio Caroline.  This relative success doesn't seem to have manifested itself in the sort of financial success one might hope.  Americans are likely not familiar with the song unless you, like me, own that second Nuggets box.

He died at the rather young age of 56 in County Antrim.  A brief bio is available on Wikipedia and a quite nice tribute site is located here.

This is a French pressing of the single which I found in - are you ready for this? - a used bookstore in Essaouira, Morocco.  It was one of the cheapest records they had, likely because the management had no idea who the artist was.  By my estimate this was probably the rarest and most valuable disc in the store, and it was mine for around US $3.

"Harlem Lady" is a less dramatic pop piece than McWilliams' most famous song, but like many B-sides of the era it's well worth the effort of flipping the record.  Both songs are on his retrospective CD, which you should buy if you like these tunes, but outside of that I've never seen the B-side comped anywhere.

Grab it here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chris Spedding - "Time Warp" b/w "Bored Bored" - UK 1978

Sorry folks, no pic sleeve for this one.

I am not very familiar with the solo work of Chris Spedding, who appears to have played with a wide array of rock royalty as a '60s/'70s session musician.

Judging by his YouTube videos, as a solo artist he had a foot in glam, the pop/New Wave end of punk and that range of guitar music in the UK in the mid- to late-1970s.

I was attracted to this single, scored for just $1, at a garage sale because it's on the glam label Rak and was produced by '60s/'70s ace producer Mickie Most, who owned the label.  This didn't disappoint.

"Bored Bored" is a nice mid-tempo pop-rocker with an obviously '70s punk-inspired lyric, but the flip is the star here.  "Time Warp" features everything but the kitchen sink, a slow burner with loud backward guitar, synthy "robot" vocal effects and an echo-laden space lyric.  It has nothing to do with the song of the same title from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Both sides of the single actually do end this abruptly, there are no technical difficulties, which I take it was also punk-inspired immediacy.

Do I sound enough like a music snob in my first "real" post?

Listen (two zipped mp3s, photo) right here.


Welcome to the dancehall!

After having drunk deep from the wells of endless awesome rare tracks the past several years, caringly provided by hundreds of anonymous rock-crazed music bloggers, I finally enter the party from the supply end.

Please feel free to add comments about the music, ask questions and what have you.

The aim of the blog is to shine a light on releases in the punk, garage, psych, other and related rock genres released primarily in the 1960s-1980s.  I will attempt to post those items from my collection that I have not yet seen elsewhere, and/or releases I can provide a higher quality rip from than what I've heard.

The blog roll contains many of my favorite blogs which themselves alone hold more music than anyone could ever reasonably hear in a lifetime.  Enjoy this addition to the buffet!  If you like what I'm doing feel free to link to this blog.

I will be zipping folders with 7-Zip, which is available for free download at that link.  You can unzip them with same.

Extra special thanks to my wife for finally providing me with a digitizing unit that works!  Hooray!