Vinyl Deluge

23 Mar

Just Records

Now I admit I’ve been known to complain loudly about the sorry state of used record hunting in London. But lately, the tides down on the Thames have shifted for the better. Once again, it’s raining second-hand records ’round these parts! Here’s a rundown of a few LPs I scored for 99p in recent weeks:

1. ASGÆRDIn the Realm of Asgærd” (Threshold Records UK, 1972) – Almost passed over this one, thinking it was one of them early KING CRIMSON LPs I’ve consciously overlooked for the past quarter century or so. But then it hit me: just who the fuck are ASGÆRD? I don’t know what an ASGÆRD is, and I’ve never, ever heard even a peep about this ASGÆRD record before. Perfect reason to buy it! And low and behold but this is decent folk/fantasy (rather than classical/symphonic) prog rock in a lighter URIAH HEEP vein. They do lay the vocal harmonies on thick, but they don’t go overboard with the mellotron and they ain’t afraid to rock out (albeit politely), so I’m happy. Oh and they do a song about Austin Osman Spare wherein they “kiss the cloven hoof.” Yes there are still little treasures buried deep within this fair isle.

2. JUDY HENSKE & JERRY YESTERFarewell, Aldebaran” (Straight Records US, 1969) – Is this even on CD yet? It’s a winner fr sure, all the way through to the end. A real ZAPPA gal, this Judy H. was – in the sense that she saw nothing odd in belting out a ball-busting JANIS J. blues number back to back with a sweet flower-pop jingle tailormade for the second STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK LP, and then: follow it with a harpichord-drenched misery ballad that RICHARD HARRIS coulda made a bundle on as a follow-up to his “MacArthur Park” cash-in. Yeah it’s these kinda juxtapositions (non sequiturs?) that the Straight Records crew always excelled it. Hard to pick the best, but I’d say that’s the Chinese cowboyisms of “Raider”, which sounds like something that coulda brightened up one of them later MOBY GRAPE LPs. If only the GRAPE had thought better of LA.

3. THE RUNAWAYSLive In Japan” (Mercury Records Japan, 1977) – I’ll be honest: when I reach for a RUNAWAYS disc, half the time I’m thinking not of a album, or a song, or even a riff. I reaching for an image. Like those vaguely creepy portraits of the gals on their first LP that Kim Fowley labeled with their ages. Nuts! Or the amazing cover photo on this record. Here THE RUNAWAYS are looking more like 70’s Japanese kiddie superheroes (I’m thinking Himitsu Sentai Go Renjā) than anything hard rock. But hey this was Cherie Currie’s last stand, so it’s gotta be hard, right? Well, not exactly. I know Joan & co. got lumped in with the punker thing at the time, but sonically speaking, here they come across as THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY trying to bang out THE SWEET songbook. And that, dear Cherie, is not a good mental image.

4. GEOFF & MARIA MULDAURPottery Pie” (Reprise/Warner Bros. Records US, 1970) – Now this was a coincidence, seeing as I’ve been saturating my ears with GEOFF’s kinda-recent work (The Secret Handshake & Beautiful Isle of Somewhere from the ’90s) as of late. No this ain’t Geoff & Maria’s best – that would be their gorgeously lazy Sweet Potatoes LP – but it’s still damn, damn fine. It’s got their recording of “Brazil”, around which Terry Gilliam based his great flick of the same name. It was produced by Joe Boyd. It features lotsa tasty Bill Keith pedal steel. And oh! It’s got Geoff’s voice – one of the 100 Essential Musical Keys To Spiritual Enlightenment – prominently exhibited for all to oogle. I couldn’t ask for much more.

5. ORNETTE COLEMANWho’s Crazy? 2” (Atmosphere Records France, 1979) My copy is beat, but so what. These were further soundtrack recordings that THE ORNETTE COLEMAN TRIO (O., Dave Izenzon, and Charles Moffett) made for soundtrack to the Belgian flick “Who’s Crazy?” back in ’66. And even I, a guy who burned out his jazz receptors way back in the early ’90s, can tell: this is hot. The trio format stripped what little fat there was from Ornette’s early ensembles and left his harmolodicisms to float up into the stratosphere like wispy dollar bills set aflame with a trusty Zippo lighter. Though Dave I.’s bowing bass does help ground everything in something thicker than the muddy banks of the Mississippi. This record could potentially rekindle my once-mighty passion for all things jazz. Rhapsody Films has reissued amazing footage of this music being created in real time, ca. ’66 – I’ll definitely have to see that sometime soon.

6. THE WHOThe Ox” (Track Records UK, 1970) – aka Backtrack 14, this is an odd comp. of ’60s WHO songs all penned by John “The Ox” Entwistle. The fact that he also sings all over these swinging, musichall-ish tunes helps me forget I’m actually listening to THE WHO for long stretches. In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d think this was some weird SMALL FACES rec I somehow missed out on back in my inexplicable fascinated-by-Ronnie-Wood phase. My pick is the creepy “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” but none of this is what I’d call embarrassing. Anybody out there wanna try and get me interested in The Ox’s 70’s solo career?

8 Responses to “Vinyl Deluge”

  1. mark March 24, 2008 at 6:16 pm #

    Charles Moffett seems to me to be the heaviest drummer Ornette has ever had. I wish I could find recordings of him and his son Charnette playing together. Often wonder why he’s not mentioned along with Elvin, Ed Blackwell, Billy Higgins, etc. Then again, there are so many great Jazz drummers……

  2. mrowster March 24, 2008 at 6:55 pm #

    I haven’t heard him outside this trio, but he was quite prolific within that later 60’s NYC free jazz scene, wasn’t he. When did he and Charnette play together?

  3. mark March 24, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    If they have played together, it’s not documented to my knowledge. Charnette just killed it on Sonny Sharrock’s Ask the Ages CD. They both are heavy, for sure.

  4. nazz nomad March 26, 2008 at 2:53 am #

    Mr. Entwistle should have stuck to the bass. Although “My Wife” is of course awesome. But when The Lord of Bass gives you THE GIFT, you do not push your luck.

  5. JB March 26, 2008 at 11:23 pm #

    That Henske/Yester “Farewell, Aldebaran” was a score. I have had a copy on tape for a long time and never have seen a copy turn up for less than what I was willing to pay. Funny you mentioned the lp as I was listening to it kinda recently and thinking that some other harpsichord drenched shit that hits on the religious weirdness of that Yester/Henske track is “Triptych” by Roxy Music on Country Life. A comparison worthy of tackling on my blog when some time appears. Yester’s best moment post this lp imho? Knob twiddling for the No Neck Blues Band lp on Revenant. All in all I think “Farewell” has its moments though I find the sub-Janis stuff more grating than not. High flyin’ bird?? By the way, an unamed British label has booted the lp on cd and lp – the same folks that ripped off George Brigman and Bob Trimble with, uh, “grey area” issues. Better yer dough goes to an op shop than those folks.

  6. mrowster March 27, 2008 at 7:09 am #

    I’ll haveta revisit Roxy Music soon to compare. Weird to hear Jerry Yester helped out on a NO NECK record . . . and seeing as Revenant did that Beefheart collection . . . I wonder if Revenant has deeper ties to the original Straight Records label?

    Ah yes, you’re speaking about Radioactive Records, aren’t you? Those boots are frequent used bin fodder out here. They sound like shit but I suppose it’s the easiest way for young ‘uns to hear some of those recs. They also did the VELVERT TURNER BAND LP from like ’75, a horrible Hendrix-tribute if ever there was one – but I’d been waiting to hear it for years, so I admit I bought (and then sold back) the damn thing anyway.

  7. Steve March 28, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    A bit parochial, I know, but howsabout a rundown some time of wherebouts in London all these decent shops are?!

  8. mrowster March 28, 2008 at 7:13 pm #

    Steve: Well these particular recs were all unearthed at a pair of hidden charity shops in Brentford. Exact names/locations shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent.

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