Dammit: still can’t stop spending my lunch breaks digging futilely for that elusive vinyl score in musty, dank charity shop bins. Like gambling addiction, it’s a disease that never pays out anywhere near the time wasted on the hunt. But occasionally, miraculously – little rough gems do surface, and I am fixed up nicely for at least a few days . . . until the cravings burn anew. Here’s a few that’ve sated my hunger in recent months:
1) TERRY JACKS – Seasons In The Sun (Bell Records, 1974) The title song ranks up there as perhaps the most derided song ever spun in this household. My wife will start moaning loudly the moment the depressive vocals step in, and the suicide-note lyrics make us both wanna slit our throats and quick. Terry doesn’t actually buck that trend anywhere on this disc; his emotional range is stunted at best, and his pipes are not unlike a sac-less, deer-in-the-headlights version of Don “American Pie” McLean. But this isn’t a worthless record, at all. The choice of material is truly odd, and there are little reminders everywhere – floating background vocals by Susan Jacks, the occasional bizarre mod keyboard figure, etc. – that remind me Terry was once half of the great Canadian production-flowerpop duo THE POPPY FAMILY. I can clearly see what Boyd Rice finds so attractive here.
2) SPACE – Magic Fly (Pye Records, 1977) – Is this the pinnacle of the subgenre known as Space Disco? Maybe so, as this rec was most certainly aped by a whole gaggle of talentless neo-electro acts in recent years. These guys not only dressed up like a bunch of VON LMO clones, but their narcotic 4-on-the-floor tempos really do sound inspired by KRAFTWERK of the period. Which might hit you as only slightly-less appalling Eurodisco background fluff. But this one sure lures me in to a neon-lit, futurist Parisian landscape of its own weird creation. Listening to this, all I really wanna do is snort some really fine powder coke, float out through the airlock, and watch Planet Earth writhe in orbit to the beat.
3) THE SUN – Black Disco (Gallo Ltd., 1975) – The sort of international vinyl I’d never stumble across in the US. This cryptic South African LP (not even sure I’ve got the artist/title right) is damn sure an early project of Ismail ‘Pops’ Mohamed, and an entertaining one it is. Pops and pals use keyboard, bass, flute, tenor sax and cheesy drum machine to create not disco but a crude, indigenous take on the late 60′s organ jazz trios ala Jimmy Smith. Nothing at all earthshaking here, but the DIY vibe gets me imagining this was honed busking on S. African township streetcorners for loose change. I haven’t kept up with Afro-Jazz reissues in recent years; anybody know if this guy’s stuff has been exhumed? No doubt it will be one day.
4) VARIOUS ARTISTS – Electronic Music (Turnabout, 1966) – Remembered more for its eye-boggling cover art than the music it contained, this album was the first in a great series of LPs Turnabout put out in the late 60′s collecting a wide array of modern/electronic compositions into bite-size packages that a “hip” classical music fan just might be able to digest. This one contains thoroughly wigged pieces by Andrés Lewin-Richter (outerspace bleeping, undersea squiggling, tinyinsect buzzing), Ilhan Mimaroglu (cut-up tape collage + Mallarmé poem + ring modulation + rubber bands), Tzvi Avni (female voice getting lost beneath an electronic flak barrage), and a pre-op Walter Carlos (flute & piano punctuated by pointless electronic nonsequitors). Now I don’t necessarily want a dozen of recs like this clogging up my stacks, but one’s fine indeed. And I do imagine Steven “NWW list” Stapleton owns/loves it, which just might tip the scales for you.
5) TONY CAPSTICK WITH HEDGEHOG PIE – His Round (Rubber Records, 1971) – Effin’ ace Britfolk by a guy who eventually turned BBC broadcaster, then TV actor/comedian, before tragically killing himself in 2003. Never did see this guy on BBC’s Last of the Summer Wine, but way back when he was just another talented, Northern folkie given a chance by the great Geordie Rubber label. Tony had an arcane, nasal vocal tone that brings to mind STEELEYE SPAN’s Tim Hart, and these HEDGEHOG PIE boys were young and tough-assed enough to fire these trad tunes with real passion. Of particular note is Tony’s variation on the Child ballad “Willie o Winesberry” (here called “Sir Thomas of Winesberry”), which is some seriously powerful, gorgeous witchcraft. Totally ripe for reissue, methinks.