Off Earth (Soundtrack To An Imaginary Film)

I have had an entire movie going around and around in my head today, which is where it should stay as in there it is epic but if I wrote it down it would probably not be. One thing I did do was include, in my head, various bits of soundtrack, snippets from longer songs to help create atmosphere for the scenes appearing in my head. Then I made a playlist of them, which is below.

FKA Twigs – Cellophane on Jimmy Fallon

I shared the official video of Cellophane in Your F***ing Sunny Day 45, (which I realised I forgot to post so I just did it), and it’s a great video and a great song, but I saw this performance on the Jimmy Fallon show yesterday and wanted to share it as well, it’s really quite beautiful.

The White Room

Back in the 90’s, 94-96 to be precise, there was a short lived music show on TV called The White Room hosted by Mark Radcliffe and Jo Whiley. I really liked this show and have no idea why it didn’t last very long, other that that, possibly, Channel 4 messed it all up. Anyway, back then I used to always have a videotape in the machine ready to press play and record just in case something good came on TV, The White Room rarely disappointed with some great and unexpected performances, not least Prince and NPG (The theme music is by Dave Stewart in case you wondered), oh and Prince married Mayte of course, though they weren’t at the time time of the performance below.

I think I still have the videos in the loft somewhere, although I don’t think I have a video player anymore.

The Manic Street Preachers where only two years on from The Holy Bible and the loss of Richey Edwards, Design For Life hadn’t hit the charts and their performance on The White Room would have been one of the first times they had ever played it live. One of the things I also licked about the show was that it wasn’t one song and you’re off, it would be two or three quite often, all played live.

I think it’s a pretty good show when Oasis, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Pulp, Marc Almond, Bryan Ferry, Jimmy Cliffe, Wilson Pickett, Chris Farlow, Dreadzone and Skunk Anansie are all in the room and then they open with Bowie!

The Bluetones made their TV debut on the White Room, several year later I saw them on what turned out to not be their farewell tour at Napton Festival, which is tiny, a local festival for local people, there were probably a maximum of 200 people there and the most popular band were a Stone Roses tribute act who were on before the Bluetones. The band took to the stage very very late and didn’t seem particularly happy to be there at first, but they did the hits and put on a decent show.

Now I’ve not made it any secret that I like a bit of Gary Numan and he too was on the show. There were some stellar artists that appeared, perhaps as it was one of the few alternatives to Top Of The Pops at the time, post The Tube.

As I look back through the videos I can find on youtube I am constantly reminded how great this show was, it was almost as though they gave me a call every week and asked me who I wanted on the show. Case in point, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with P J Harvey, I would have definitely asked for this!

So they call me up, in an imaginary scenario, and ask me, “What do you want to see next week?” and I answer rather offhandedly, “Shane McGowan and Sinead O’Connor”, and they reply “Sure, no problem”. The song is really good by the way, don’t skip it.

I was very fond of Elastica when they first appeared on the scene, I still have a couple of CD singles somewhere. They seemed pretty cool, the sort of people you’d want to be in a gang with I guess. The first album is very good, the whole Stranglers law suite aside (The song “Waking Up”, written about being an underachiever, received positive critical reviews. However, it also prompted a lawsuit from the publishers of The Stranglers, who claimed that Elastica took the song’s riff from The Stranglers’ “No More Heroes”. The case was settled out of court – It was more than a just a resemblance, it was a straight lift).

A couple of stunning tracks from Portishead, the version of ‘Over’ being performed 2 years before it appeared on their second album and it’s a noticeable different , and fabulous version. Again, I love this band and there they are on the telly, this show was so good, with the odd exception, almost everything was killer.

This was a great period for Paul Weller, with the albums Wild Wood and Stanley Road being released, two of my favourites of his and perhaps the best of his solo work. He made a couple of appearances on the show, probably promoting both albums, I’ve gone for Sunflower, but could have gone for Changing Man or Peacock Suit, they are out there if you want to see them.

The show was, of course, the one where Iggy Pop wore plastic see through trousers, which was pretty shocking at the time.

I saw pretty much all of the clips above when they were first broadcast and I do wish there was a programme on TV now that was as good. There’s nothing much, other than Later…..with Jools Holland, that comes even close. There wasn’t much faffing about, little chat, just bands getting on stage and playing.

And there is this:

Things I Didn’t Know (an occasional series on a large topic)

I was asked to provide music for a work thing next week relating to Black History Month. Essentially a 3 hour (ish) playlist that can be put on shuffle while people mill about not knowing what is going on. While creating this playlist I stumbled accross the original version of ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ by the group ‘Baby Charles’. I didn’t know it was a cover version and had always assumed it was an original song by the Artic Monkeys. I was talking to Dave about it last night and he was quite suprised too. I should point out at this juncture that as a white middle aged male I was the perfect choice to create a Black History Month playlist.

Some of you may have issues with the above paragraph as, having looked it up this morning, it turns out that I was talking complete bollocks and the Baby Charles track is a cover of the Artic Monkeys and the song was written by Alex Turner. Oh well, I’m right more than 95% of the time so I’m OK with that. I left the track in the playlist because I quite liked it. Here is that playlist just in case you were curious.

Random Album Selector

Earlier today I knocked up a Random Album Selector in excel for when I can’t decide which album to listen to.  I posted it in a Facebook group and a couple of kind folks pointed out that the Discogs app already does it, and here’s me thinking I had an original idea! The app does it really well. On your phone just go into your collection, shake the phone and up comes a random album from your collection. Touch the screen and it disappears, shake again, there’s another one.

I recorded my phone screen as I was using it. There’s a slight delay on covers downloading sometimes but that isn’t important, you can still see which album it picked at random:

I shall be using this every now and again, just to mix things up and maybe play some of those albums I don’t get around to often enough.

The Brit Awards – meh

So the Brit awards will soon be upon us and, having had a look at the nominees I am increasingly of the opinion that it is all bollocks really. I haven’t watched it since I discovered James Corden was presenting it, let me look that up and see when it was………………. 2009, that’s longer than I thought. I did see the Bowie tribute last year on youtube though, Corden wasn’t in it.

I’ve always had issues with the Brit Awards, many of which are probably entirely unreasonable. For instance, I dislike it because it is populist.  I have long been of the opinion that just because something sells by the bucketload doesn’t mean it is actually good, often it means that it is composed of the lowest common denominator to appeal to the most people. I think that the fact that  Robbie Williams holds the record for the most Brit Awards, 13 as a solo artist and another five as part of Take That, is indicative of this. One of those is essentially a Brit awards for winning the most Brit awards, or The Outstanding Contribution to Music/BRITs Icon award. He won this in 2017, he also won it in 2010, I assume as the BRITs Icon as he hasn’t made an outstanding contribution to music, quite the opposite in my opinion. I just had a look back at some of the awards, I think this is probably my favourite, from 1993, Best British single.

Could It Be Magic
Take That
Winner
A Million Love Songs
Take That
Nominee
Stay
Shakespears Sister
Nominee
Good Night Girl
Wet Wet Wet
Nominee
It Only Takes a Minute
Take That
Nominee

All of the above are a bit crap but it seems a pretty sure thing if you are 3 of the 5 nominations. The winner was a cover version of a Barry Manilow song. All these were also eligible for the award:

The KLF featuring Tammy Wynette – Justified And Ancient
The Prodigy – Everybody In The Place (EP)
Eric Clapton – Tears In Heaven
George Michael – Toofunky
The Shamen – Boss Drum
The Shamen – LSI
Marc Almond – The Days Of Pearly Spencer
Annie Lennox – Why
Soul II Soul – Joy
Annie Lennox – Walking On Broken Glass

In the same year, Curtis Steigers was nominated for two awards. I’m not commenting on that, I’m just telling you.

I think this is the only Brit Award thing I can remember having liked:

Anyway, this years nominees, with the best of them highlighted (in my opinion), are:

British Male Solo Artist

Ed Sheeran
Liam Gallagher
Loyle Carner
Rag’n’Bone Man
Stormzy

British Female Solo Artist

Dua Lipa
Jessie Ware
Kate Tempest
Laura Marling
Paloma Faith

British Group

Gorillaz
London Grammar
Royal Blood
Wolf Alice
The xx

International Group

Arcade Fire
Foo Fighters
Haim
The Killers
LCD Soundsystem

British Breakthrough Act

Dave
Dua Lipa
J Hus
Loyle Carner
Sampha

Album of the Year

Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa
Ed Sheeran – ÷
J Hus – Common Sense
Rag’n’Bone Man – Human
Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer

British Single of the Year

Calvin Harris featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean – “Feels”
Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson – “Symphony”
Dua Lipa – “New Rules”
Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”
J Hus – “Did You See”
Jax Jones featuring Raye – “You Don’t Know Me”
Jonas Blue featuring William Singe – “Mama”
Liam Payne featuring Quavo – “Strip That Down”
Little Mix – “Touch”
Rag’n’Bone Man – “Human”

International Male Solo Artist

Beck
Childish Gambino
DJ Khaled
Drake
Kendrick Lamar

International Female Artist

Alicia Keys
Björk
Lorde
Pink
Taylor Swift

British Video of the Year

Anne-Marie – “Ciao Adios”
Calvin Harris featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Big Sean – “Feels”
Clean Bandit featuring Zara Larsson – “Symphony”
Dua Lipa – “New Rules”
Ed Sheeran – “Shape of You”
Harry Styles – “Sign of the Times”
Jonas Blue featuring William Singe – “Mama”
Liam Payne featuring Quavo – “Strip That Down”
Little Mix – “Touch”
Zayn and Taylor Swift – “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever”

Overall it doesn’t look like a great year for British music, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t, just that the BRITS doesn’t look beyond what is right in front of their noses. If I may throw the following into the arena:

Slowdive – Slowdive
Four Tet – New Energy
Baxter Dury – Prince of Tears
Ghostpoet – Dark Days + Canapes
Bonobo – Migration
Tricky – Ununiform
Kelley Lee Owens – Kelley Lee Owens
Gorillaz – Humanz
Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley
Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun
Forest Swords – Compassion
Hidden Orchestra – Dawn Chorus
Morrissey – Low in High School (Not really sure about this one but it’s eligible at least)

Anyway, these are interesting releases but, of course, don’t get a sniff. Perhaps that’s actually a good thing.

After watching the Cure video above I dId go and have a search for BRITS performances that I actually did like, there were more than I remembered to be fair.

This is with some hindsight but back in 1997 the Bee Gees did a medley, it’s quite sad to watch it now and realise there is only one guy left:

On the other hand, the Brit awards throws up crap like this:

I do remember liking this Manics performance form 1997, the album was absolutely everywhere of course, massive:

A couple of interesting Bowie performances:

There’s lots from the past that was pretty good I guess, and Madonna falling over was funny the other year of course. I won’t watch it this year either though, I’ll see the results online and they will undoubtedly make me angry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dolores O’Riordan Dies aged 46

This just came up on my newsfeed, apparently it was quite sudden. Bloody hell, that’s a real shame. It always hits a little harder when the artist is younger than you are.

She left some good music behind.

Lana Del Ray sued by Radiohead

So Lana Del Ray claims she is being sued by Radiohead over the similarities between Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and her track ‘Get Free’. Having listened to both I’d say they have a case, and I’ve never thought the Hollies ‘Air That I Breathe’ is anything more than a coincidental chord progression. ‘Get Free’ nicks the vocal melody of ‘Creep’ completely as well.

Thing is, Radiohead aren’t suing anybody:

As Radiohead’s music publisher, it’s true that we’ve been in discussions since August of last year with Lana Del Rey’s representatives. It’s clear that the verses of “Get Free” use musical elements found in the verses of “Creep” and we’ve requested that this be acknowledged in favour of all writers of “Creep.” To set the record straight, no lawsuit has been issued and Radiohead have not said they “will only accept 100%” of the publishing of “Get Free.”

It was Lana Del Rey herself who recently tweeted that Radiohead are suing, She wrote, “Although I know my song wasn’t inspired by ‘Creep,’ Radiohead feel it was and want 100% of the publishing.” We now know this to be crap, smells like a publicity stunt.

 

 

 

Apple Music – I hate you, but I love you, but I hate you

ituneslogo-400I have a subscription to Apple Music mostly because of my son, who wanted to switch from Spotify about 2 years ago. It had benefits as at the time the Spotify ‘Family’ bundle was for 1 extra user where as the Apple Family bundle was for 5 extra users, for about the same price.

The problem I have with Apple music is how it is periodically shit. I went through several iterations of all my downloads and all my playlists disappearing and syncing with ITunes on a MacBook did nothing to fix this. So I would dutifully add everything again, download everything again and then a couple of days later it would all disappear again. The problem is entirely fictitious and exists only in my own mind of course, I know this to be fact because Apple Support told me, in a very ‘First Name Use I’m Your Buddy Just Trying To Help Here My Friend’ kind of way that it was so. Then, it sort of stopped. I wasn’t losing the albums or playlists, they were just un-downloading themselves, and then. over 4 or 5 months there was just the odd one now and again that was un-downloading itself. So I loved Apple Music for a while as when I wanted to listen to something it was there, until this week.

This week, Apple Music refused to stay open. It would pop up with chirpy ‘Hi there friend, what shall we listen to today?’ and then just as quickly ‘Bye Bye’. The app would minimise, not close, minimise. Open it, same ‘Hi’, same ‘Bye Bye’. This went on for three day and I couldn’t find a fix online for it that worked for me. Then, hurrah, an Operating System update, ‘That will fix it’ I thought having learned nothing from experience.

It did, it bloody well did. I had everything I wanted at my finger tips, result! And then it was gone. All downloads, all playlists, everything in the library, gone, and there has been no way of getting it back.

Solution: My phone was due for an upgrade and rather than get a new phone I reduced the monthly subscription, got 4 times the data allowance and a 1 year subscription to Spotify for £43 less than I was paying. Fuck you Apple Music, Fuck you!

Also, fuck you James Corden.

I feel a bit better now, please accept my apologies for my behavior (Not you Corden).

How to knacker your vinyl

I don’t have a particularly good opinion of Crosley, they are very much what you pay for and, while it is good that there is a budget option available for people just getting into vinyl and on limited funds, it’s not good that the build quality is poor and they will probably damage your records.

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The image is pretty cool, that I would have to admit. That old fashioned briefcase that you open to reveal a turntable, yes, cool, but when you look closer it’s not what it at first appears to be. As What HiFi says, “It’s a lovely idea, but this flawed turntable should be kept away from your record collection” not least because the downward force of the needle on the record is 7g, where an average turntable is 2.5g, over time, this will ruin your records. I’ve also read that the arm is actually too short and sort of drags its way along as a result, causing further wear.

So why today to have a downer on Crosly? Well, I was in a shop and I saw a Crosley, I took a photo, here it is:

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I was quite irrationally annoyed by this piece of crap, mostly because it feels as though it will, in the long run, turn people away from vinyl as surely this will knacker their records.

Now I’m not judging anybody who has a Crosley, I know it is about the cheapest way to get a turntable and we can’t all afford £2000 of gear (I know I can’t), I’m just recommending upgrading as soon as you can, before you do irreparable damage to your vinyl.

Playing Pokemon Go with vinyl

I’ve never added anything to the Discogs Database before, it’s pretty easy to do really, as I found out when I added the Carl Matthews album I talked about recently. This is the Discogs entry here:

https://www.discogs.com/Carl-Matthews-Mirage-Tape-Years/release/8837919

clip

It looks a lot like the image above, more than a lot, exactly, because that’s it.

It irked me that I wasn’t able to add it to my Discogs collection, which I have recently come to realise is my own version of Pokemon Go, except it’s for vinyl records, sort of, when I do catch them I have to add them to my VinylDex (rather than Pokedex) and records stores are PokeStops, Record Fairs are PokeGyms where I do battle with the vendors.

There’s even an app for it, ‘The Vinyl District‘, as you move around different record shops pop up for you to nip into and catch a record.

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(not my picture, from here: http://pictigar.com/hashtag/Vinyladdict)

Well nobody told me: Roxy Music

Whenever I’ve had cause to think of Roxy Music the tracks that are at the forefront of my mind are things like Avalon, More Than This, Jealous Guy, Angel Eyes or Dance Away. These are the ones that were current when I started to really take notice of music and it started meaning something to me. While they are perfectly fine songs they were never going to interest me on any other level than them being something I could whistle to, though probably wouldn’t. I had little idea of what they were as a band before the 80’s. I had seen things like ‘Do The Strand’ on the Old Grey Whistle Test repeats, but my judgement was already set.

I was watching a you tube video where folks were showing their record collections and a ‘Highly Recommended’ was ‘Music For Pleasure’, their sophomore release from 1973, so I decided to give it a streaming music service listen and was genuinely surprised by what I heard.

I have read some reviews from back when it was released and they are, on occasion, far from complimentary but I’ve had the benefit of hearing over 40 years of music since this album was released and heard how music has changed, pioneered, progressed and so, listening to ‘Music For Pleasure’ for the first time I have many more reference points than the reviewers of the day would have had. I can hear the Prog, the Krautrock, the experimentation and the Pop and it is a wonderful mix that gives little indication of the lounge act I felt they became. Perhaps Brian Eno was a catalyst as he left the band after this album and it was a few more albums later before I feel they drifted off the path upon which they had been set (which I only comment upon because I’ve been listening to most of the back catalogue of late).

I found a few albums for sale so thought I’d pick them up for £22, here they are, all six of them:

roxym

That’s 3.66 each. I received them yesterday and they are in very good, playable condition. Very pleased with that and finding myself really liking early Roxy Music, which is something I never would have thought would happen as I was really very biased against them until now but damn this stuff is good.

Stuff waiting

I mentioned before that I’ve been off work for a couple of weeks, I’m on the mend now though. I received a picture of what has arrived from various places during my absence. I don’t know what’s in all of them. 

75 Years Ago

My drive to work and back is just about two hours twenty minutes each day, sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more, and I have started listening to audio books as well as podcasts and music. I’m currently listening to ‘Life’, the autobiography of Keith Richards and he’s just finished talking about ‘Exile on Main Street’. One point he made about it is it’s longevity. It was released in 1972, 44 years ago, and people still listen to it and buy it. The recent expanded re-issue did very well. As with the Beatles, some teenagers today are discovering the Stones for themselves. This had set me thinking about what would I have been listening to if, as a teenager, I went back 44 years, what would I discover? What, if anything, had the longevity to present itself to me at that time?

In 1980 I was thirteen years old, so we have to go back all the way to 1936 for the same time span as ‘Exile On Main Street’. This makes me feel extraordinarily old, but it’s not like I was there, so the first track I found (I’m not expecting to find albums but songs) was ‘Summertime’ by Billie Holiday, which certainly stuck around and which has been covered many times.

There’s lots of Tommy Dorsey, Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Fred Astaire, quite a few more from Billie Holiday. There are lots of different people ‘and his Orchestra’ and Fats Waller. More interestingly, particularly as this look into the past was inspired by Keith Richards, we have Robert Johnson, Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy.

The musical landscape was quite different then. BBC television was launched in ’36 so there was no exposure to music for kids from TV, it was all from radio and there were only a couple of stations back then, controlled by the BBC, but there was Radio Luxembourg and by 1938 they had a bigger share of the 5 million listeners than the BBC, so, of course, laws were passed to try and prevent anybody but the BBC broadcasting and, of course, when the war broke out Radio Luxembourg was controlled by Germany.

There was also still a lot of sheet music sold. I seem to recall that the first music charts were based on sheet music sales and not records which I suppose made popular music much more social and family oriented.

I think it was the rise in popularity of Albums, which weren’t some singles and cover versions, but a collection of original songs, that brought about the longevity that Richards speaks of. There are, of course, albums older than ‘Exile on Main Street’ that still do well and are still being re-discovered, ‘Sgt. Peppers’ being an obvious suggestion, but also ‘Miles Davis’ with ‘Kind Of Blue’ which came out in 1959 and is still being re-issued now.

I can’t draw many conclusions by looking back that far. There was a lot of music that was released locally, in the US and they had local hits. Much of this could have been amazing, but it never hit the mainstream so here in England, all these years later, they are not just forgotten but never discovered.

I’ll leave you with that Billy holiday song, it’s wonderful.

 

You’ll be blown away buy what happens when this guy cleans a record.

You’ll be blown away buy what happens when this guy cleans a record.

Well, probably not, but that seems to be how the internet works nowadays, minds are blown, jaws are dropped and so on, over some rather ordinary things. Truth is, whilst my mind wasn’t blown, the results really were unexpected.

Vinyl Me Please

I’ve been looking at the ‘Vinyl Me, Please’ subscription service for vinyl records, which, conceptually I quite like. It takes me back to the 80/90’s when I was a member of a record club. You may remember the adverts used to appear for them pretty much everywhere in print, ‘Any 6 albums only 99p each’ that sort of thing. I couldn’t find a UK one but here’s a US equivalent (although maybe a bit earlier):

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The problem with the service I was a member of was that the first 6 were what I wanted, then they’d send me 4 a month that you pretty much paid normal price for and it was a pain sending them back if you didn’t want them so I usually ended up keeping albums I didn’t really want. In fact, they were cassettes as CD players were pretty new at the time and I couldn’t afford one.

The ‘Vinyl Me, Please’ model seems to work quite well for the U.S., where it’s based but is, I think, too expensive for the U.K, it’s $399 a year, £275 (paid up front, quarterly and monthly plans are more expensive), and for that you get 12 Albums, which works out, near as damnit, at £23 per album. Not outrageously expensive based on what stores are charging, but not a saving either. You do get an art print which, I don’t think, has anything specific to do with the album you receive, and an accompanying cocktail recipe (I think, this may be something another similar service does), which is nice but I don’t see the point of it really. The benefit comes more from the the records themselves and how they differentiate themselves from what else is readily available.

This month’s ‘Record Of The Month’ is Pinkerton by Weezer, and the VMP version has the following:

  • Translucent blue w/ black marbling 140g vinyl
  • Gatefold w/ pop-out art
  • Lyric sheet
  • 12×12 orginal art print by Fuco Ueda

Here it is, looking very nice:

pinkerton

If you like Weezer, and received this, I think it would be pretty good at £23, which includes shipping. I’ve no problem with that, but if you didn’t like Weezer? You get 4 swaps with your subscription, but I know me and I just wouldn’t get around to it and would end up with several things I probably wouldn’t want.

I think the Record Of The Month last time may have been ‘The Score’ by The Fugees, a good album, but personally I wouldn’t have been very excited to have received it as it wouldn’t be high on my shopping list in a vinyl store.

I don’t mean to sound like I have a downer on this service, I think it is great for the U.S and if I could pay the same price then I might well grab a years subscription, but it’s a bit expensive for the UK, at least I think so.

The site is here if you’d like to have a look at it: http://vinylmeplease.com/

There are some European versions that do a similar thing, although a little more niche.

http://www.thatspecialrecord.com/
http://waxandstamp.com/
https://www.flyingvinyl.co.uk

I don’t believe I’ve found one that I’m going to join as yet, but I won’t rule it out.

 

 

 

Why?

Because it is extraordinarily good, that’s why.

Leamington Record Fair

I went to the Leamington Record and CD Fair on Saturday, and was a little underwhelmed. I’ve been several times before but I wold, more often than not, go every six months or so, I’ve been to the last three and the frequency is quite possibly the issue. There was less for me to get excited over and a lot for me to get a bit miffed over. I don’t buy records to own something that has a different coloured label or a fantastically rare catalogue number, I genuinely don’t care. I go there to find records that I can play that are less than the £20 needed for a re-issue on 180g vinyl.

IMG_0970

I did find a few things but I came way from there with most of my money still in my pocket, and I made the mistake of buying something (for £3.50) that I already had, not for the first time, which suggests that since I bought the first one I haven’t listened to it and begs the further question, do I need either of them?

So what did I buy? Well, I bought these (album titles are links to Spotify):

The_The_-_Mind_Bomb_CD_cover
‘Mind Bomb’ by ‘The The’ – £5

Big_Country_-_seerBig_Country_-_Steeltown
The Seer’ & ‘Steel Town’ by Big Country – £2.50 each

Glen_Campbell_Wichita_Lineman_album_cover
Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell – £1

41QAHSSR8EL
Jose Feliciano by Jose Feliciano – £2.50

SFBUSHOFGHOSTS1
My Life in the Bush Of Ghosts by David Byrne & Brian Eno – £5

elektra66746-0
Coldsweat 12” by t The Sugarcubes – £4

download
Street Legal by Bob Dylan – £3.50 (and the one I already had)

If you were counting that’s 7 vinyl LP’s and a 12” single for £28.50, which is lovely, although really it’s 6 with the duplicate, but I should be more positive about it, I did get some things I wanted, so that’s good. Where I get frustrated is with some of the stall holders who have albums that, to my mind, are massively overpriced. Now this may well be because I don’t want to play £150 for a record that I can buy re-pressed at 180g for £20, but also because some of these albums are there month after month after month and never sell, and probably never will at the level they are asking.

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An example is The Beatles and The White Album. I can buy a perfect copy for £25. It’s not 40 years old, it doesn’t have pops and crackles, the cover isn’t worn nor are the corners dinged. A perfectly playable copy in perfect condition. I picked up a copy for £8 and thought, well I’ll have that, even though it looked a little tired. I had misread the label, it was £80 and had no indication anywhere on it as to why. I didn’t buy it, obviously.

I know there are collectors out there who want rare items, but I just can’t quite grasp why. If I have an album that I bought for £5 from a second hand bin and somebody else has exactly the same album but with different colour label that is supposedly worth £200, so what, if you put it on a turntable it will play exactly the same songs, and that’s really all I care about. And why is it worth £200? Surely this is theoretical as the prices should be driven by supply and demand. It’s only £200 if somebody is willing to pay that much for it and judging by the number of high priced records I see over and over again, the vast majority of people are not prepared to pay.

I do understand that there are some items that do command higher values, such as Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan from 1963 that featured 4 tracks deleted from subsequent releases is purported to be worth $35,000. If those 4 tracks are not available anywhere else then I get that, but if they have been released elsewhere, why that much money?

Ringo Starr’s own copy of The Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album in fact) from 1968 sold for $790,000, presumably because it was numbered – No.0000001. If you want to listen to it on vinyl then spend £25 on a new one. It’s madness!

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I get nostalgia, and have paid a little bit more for something simply because I once owned it, or wanted to own it, sometime back in the past and now have the opportunity and resources to get myself a copy, but that has its limits from a price perspective. As an example, in 1979 I was rather taken by the song ‘Bang Bang’ by B.A.Robertson and had the 7” single. I really wanted the album (I was 12 years old, don’t judge me!) in the way that somebody that you does, I obsessed over it, but never actually bought it. I saw a copy of the album at the record fair and it was £6.50 but I wouldn’t pay it, because it simply isn’t worth that much to me, it was at one point, but not now, it would have to be £2.50 maximum for me to buy it, and I realised some time ago that B.A.Robertson was crap, which was a big influencer on my decision. Now, if I knew that the album was worth £60 I would have bought it and immediately stuck it on Ebay, but I would never be the one paying £60 for it.

There are a number of albums that I know are rare, such as a lot of the Krautrock stuff that came out in the early 70’s which is not currently available elsewhere, if you want to listen to it you might have to pay £100 for the privilege, I understand that, but if it was re-released then the re-release would do, or even the ability to stream it on Spotify as it could quite easily be crap. This happened with Tago Mago by Can, which is an album I adore. An original copy sells, on average, for about $110 (£70), I could have paid that for it but, instead, paid £19 ($27.50) for a re-release and am extremely happy with it, why wouldn’t  be? It’s brand new!

At the record fair one of the stallholders was telling me that his colleague once had original copies of the first 15 Elvis Presley singles, which he sold for a couple of hundred pounds several years ago, when now they would be worth thousands. It was entirely meaningless to me. I had an original copy of ‘Return to Sender’ by Elvis when I was a kid and I played the damn thing until it was almost worn out, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. Had I kept this 1962 release in pristine condition it would now be worth somewhere in the region of £1.50. I had a lot more value out of it than that and didn’t have the hassle of keeping it perfect all these years.

I do sound like I’m moaning a bit, but I genuinely can’t get my head around paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for a vinyl record, even though I love them, I could buy a couple of very nice houses for that. Perhaps somebody could explain it to me.

I’ll leave you with what might appear to be an odd choice for me, but I do really have rather eclectic tastes:

Bowie

Everybody should be able to remember what the very first album they bought with their own money was, I do, it was ‘Lodger’ by David Bowie. Up until that time we had family records or ones that were my Brother’s but that I got to listen to, either in the same room or through the wall of my bedroom. ‘Lodger’ was my own, to keep in my room and to play whenever I wanted, which was quite often as it was the only one I had. If you are wondering which album it is, it has ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ and ‘DJ’ on it although I think ‘Fantastic Voyage’ may have been my favourite track from it.

Yesterday I was in the record shop in town holding a vinyl copy of ‘Blackstar’ and trying to decide if I actually had £22 that I could spare to buy it. I had my sensible head on and decided against, it would have to wait until pay day. I met up with my wife and we went for a coffee where she asked me if I’d bought anything and I rather proudly declared how sensible I’d been in not buying the album. We then talked about how good he looked for his age and google imaged recent Bowie pictures on our phones.

Then there was this morning’s news, which saddened me deeply. I had envisaged a whole series of albums over the next 10 or so years, which sit in, what for me, is my favourite period if his, from 1999’s ‘Hours…’ up to today.  Perhaps there is more to come, it seems clear that he felt he had more to do and I hope very much that there are a couple more properly completed albums just waiting to be released. I feel that is just the sort of thing he would do.

After lunch today I received a call from my wife, let’s call her Pip, because that’s her name. She had called the record shop as soon as it opened and had a vinyl copy of ‘Blackstar’ put behind the counter, which she picked up at lunchtime for me. They had 6 copies and the other 5 had sold before she got there. Today’s sad is therefore tempered to a degree by this little joy.

So, at this point, my first and last albums bought were both by Bowie. Which, I think, as a tribute, speaks for itself.

Thanks David.

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Albums to look out for in 2016

What is there to look forward to on the album release front in 2016? Well, there will be loads, but these are the ones I’m most interested in, should they actually happen.

David Bowie – Black Star

david-bowie-blackstar-album-cover-art-500x500This is only a couple of days away, 8th January, and I’m hoping that it is amazing. I’m a fan of later period Bowie, ‘Heathen’ in particular, which was released 14 years ago! But ‘Reality’ is also good. I did wonder if there was to be anything else, then ‘The Next Day’ appeared in 2013. Which, overall was good, with “Where Are We Now?” being the stand out track for me.

‘Blackstar’ has already received favourable pre-release reviews with a score of 84 at Metacritic. I like both the ‘Blackstar’ Single and ‘Lazarus’, which are, sonically, adjacent to ‘The Next Day’. Here is the track listing:

1.”Blackstar”
2.”‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore”
3.”Lazarus”
4.”Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)”
5.”Girl Loves Me”
6.”Dollar Days”
7.”I Can’t Give Everything Away”

PJ Harvey – As Yet Untitled

ef70caeb-987f-464f-b5c2-c22fe12a6909PJ Harvey recently wrote and recorded a new album at Somerset House in London in front of members of the public who were able to watch Harvey during 45-minute intervals as she and her band recorded. Harvey has claimed that she thinks the experiment will “help tap into a different level of consciousness”.

I loved the last two albums and don’t mind at all that from one album to the next you don’t know what you’re going to get, that’s part of her appeal I think.

Possible Track Names (Written on a blackboard at Somerset House)

‘River Anacostia’
‘Homo Sappy Blues’
‘Medicinals’
‘Imagine This’
‘Chain Of Keys’
‘The Ministry Of Defence’
‘Near The Memorials To Vietnam & Lincoln’
‘The Boy’
‘A Dog Called Money’
‘A Line In The Sand’
‘The Ministry Of Social Affairs’
‘Dollar Dollar’
‘The Age Of The Dollar’
‘I’ll Be Waiting’
‘The Community Of Hope’
‘The Orange Monkey’
‘The Wheel’
‘Guilty’

Radiohead – As Yet Untitled

screen-shot-2015-02-04-at-3-23-33-pmRadiohead spent the month of September holed up in the studio working on their ninth studio album. It appears the sessions were a success, as guitarist Jonny Greenwood has told a Russian radio station that the band has all but finished the record.

“We have finished recording of the new album but we keep reevaluating the work we’ve done,” Greenwood told Russia’s Silver Radio (via Reddit). “We hope we’ll get it right soon, and after that we’ll start planning the next year’s tour.”

The above is not quite true, Greenwood has clarified his comments on Twitter. He said lots of material has been recorded and “the band is about to go through it all to see if it’s any good.” Additionally, he said the band hopes to tour, but no plans have been confirmed.

I’d love a new Radiohead album but am happy to wait if it means getting the absolute best they can do than otherwise, just to fulfil a contractual obligation or other pressures to put something out.

M.I.A. -Matahdatah

miaI don’t know much about this other than it is apparently being released this year and it’s called ‘Matahdatah’ but I’ve been a big fan of M.I.A since her first release and have really liked almost everything she’s ever put out. I thought it great that she got more press than Madonna for the Super bowl half-time show.

Bonobo – As Yet Untitled

bonoboA new release, the follow up to The North Borders, should be out on Ninja Tunes this year. I do hope so as I have a couple on vinyl and play them rather more often than I thought I would.

The other I play quite a lot is the 2000 release of ‘Animal Magic’, which may be 16 years old now, but it still sounds current to me and I’d recommend it to just about anybody.

Primal ScreamChaosmosis

tab_widthThis should happen in March as it’s been created using Pledge Music. I think I will sign up for a vinyl copy after pay day. I’ve been on the lookout for a vinyl ‘Screamadelica’, but the re-issue, when I’ve come across it, is £25 which just seems a bit on the pricey side to me.

It doesn’t come up that often on ebay, not at a reasonable price anyway, it’s quite often more expensive than just buying a brand new copy, especially when you factor in postage and packaging.

Gary Numan – As Yet Untitled

card_avatarAnother Pledge music campaign, but I’ve already signed up for this one and have been following progress with the included Access Pass. This includes posts from Numan, videos of songs as they are being written/recorded, photographs and suchlike. So far so good and if it is finished by the end of the year then another Numan vinyl to add to the many I already have.

Is there anything else on the horizon that I should be looking out for?