Friday, August 28, 2015

One Way ticket for the feet

I found myself putting together a disco mix CD for a swap over at VG+ recently. I thought it would be made up almost entirely with 12“ singles when I started but in the end a few 7” and album tracks ended up in the mix too. It was a good exercise because it led me to rediscover a few records I had probably not played for over 30 years, since my DJing days. A case in point was the album One Way featuring Al Hudson (incidentally they released two albums by that name, this is the second of them) . A track from this album was nowhere near my initial tentative stabs at a running order for the mix CD. But the process caused me to pull this album out of the collection and put in on the deck, I thought for a quick needle skip through the tracks out of curiosity. I ended up playing it all the way through, both sides. Many – most? – Disco and Soul/Funk albums from the 70s and 80s don’t really make it as an album, often one trackers , often with an awkward mix of dancefloor business and slow – dare I say dull and syrupy – numbers. This One Way album holds up well though. The funky tracks are all strong and irresistible to the feet and the slower numbers have plenty of merit too, there is some invention and texture – more than “soul by numbers”.  Al Hudson has a good voice too. Thinking about it I was evidently a fan of Al. The band were originally known as Al Hudson & The Soul Partners and I have a few of their 12“ singles among them You Can Do It which was at the poppier end of their output and was a big hit in the UK, and Spread Love which was a killer and still finds favour. Alicia Myers was also in the group at the time of this album. This is where Detroit was in the late 70s and early 80s.   

I decided to make my Disco mix CD move through my years on the scene and I was looking for something to represent the more understated and sophisticated sounds that could grace the dancefloors as the full force of Disco waned and the 70s became the 80s. And that is how Let’s Go Out Tonite ended up on my mix CD.      

Let's Go Ou Tonite? Hmph, I'm writing this all alone at chez Darcy: Mrs Darce has gone to the theatre, my daughter and boyfriend(!) are out at a friend's, and my son and some friends have "trucked" over to Lille for a long weekend! It's just me and the cat and the rabbits.   

(Chris: you have heard this already I know so here is another track from the album J)

PS: I’m now catching up on YouTube with some of One Way’s output that I missed first time around. Good stuff.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

That number again, and some lanes

It’s time to kick start this blog again. You will understand it has been rather difficult for me (and my family) over the last weeks. I would like to thank all of you who sent your condolences and kind thoughts.

Mum’s funeral took place last week and the day went well, as well as such occasions can. We had a celebrant conduct the service. He was very good. He had not been acquainted with mum but from just a one hour conversation with us, and one draft to which I suggested some minor tweaks, he built up a picture and his resulting words were accurate, appropriate, and delivered with sincerity. In the service he recounted my mum’s relationship with the number 13 – she was born on the 13th September and spent her early years living at a house numbered 13 (unusual in those days, as it was often left out of street numbering? – it is in our road for example). As my mum’s condition deteriorated last month I was fully expecting her final hours to be on the 13th, that wasn’t to be though, at least not quite, mum passed away 13 hours into the 14th. At the funeral service there were, yes you guessed it, 13 people. Fate certainly did take a hand there I think, there were two other people – recent acquaintances of mum – who we were expecting to attend. We had not met them before but my mum’s next door neighbour told us she saw them at the crematorium in the car park on the morning of mum’s service. Our only conclusion was that they attended the wrong funeral! How do you do that?

We chose Penny Lane as the exit music at the service. Mum always liked the Beatles, she felt a certain affinity to them I think, growing up, as she did, on the Wirral not too far from Liverpool. She bought many of their early singles and they got lots of plays by mum – and a young me too – on the Elizabethan Pop 10 (a sort of Dansette style record player) in the house. I am now left with that house; a house that was my parents’ home for more than fifty years, and my childhood home too. Now it is very much a house on memory lane. 

Anyway, returning to the subject matter of this blog – i.e. music. The songs featured here don’t in any way stir strong memories of mum or my childhood, however, thoughts of the number 13 and trips down lanes brought to mind Blue Magic’s mid 70s album Thirteen Blue Magic Lane. I don’t have this album but I do have a few Blue Magic singles, and the B-sides of two of them were featured on that album.        

Monday, July 20, 2015

RIP Mum 1926-2015

Mum passed away last week. She was peaceful in the end, at home, and I was by her side.

Around ’74 - ‘75 mum would have heard this track, and the album it comes from Last Days And Time, a lot around the house as it was (and still is) a great favourite of mine.

Something approaching normal service should return hereabouts soon.    

Friday, July 03, 2015

Parish Notices

My Box account seems to be screwed up. It is not doing its monthly bandwidth limit reset so downloads are not possible. Anybody else had this problem? Anybody know of any good alternatives to Box nowadays? For now I have done the simple thing and created a new account. The Andy Butler track link has been updated in my previous post so should be fully functional now, as should others posted from now on. Unfortunately, unless my original account sorts itself out older track links will be available as stream only.


On an altogether more serious note I will tell you that my mum has recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She has not been well all year and since the diagnosis a few weeks ago her decline has been frightening, and rapid. Mum is 88 and has had a good and full life but in all probability this month will be her last with us.

I am sure you will understand that in the circumstances posts here will be thin on the ground for a while.      

Friday, June 19, 2015

Take Me - I'm free!

Here we go again. I’m listening to a really good mix put together by Larry, Mr Funky16Corners. I’m about six tracks through and I’m already thinking I need some of them on vinyl, you know, my very own copy.  Right, let’s get searching. Time to open up a few tabs: Manship – what silly price will he be asking? Any copies listed on t’bay in the UK? What about the ‘ogs? Track two: which one is that again? Andy Butler – Take Me.  Andy Butler! Hang on, I think I might already have this one. It is worth a look in the boxes, after all they are pretty well ordered now so it should be easy to find if I do have it. I pad up the stairs, open up cabinet S (for Soul, I just made that up), take out the A-B box (lots of Bs), riffle through – it was on Ray Charles’ Tangerine label wasn’t it? – and… voila! 

I really must learn to spend more time searching my own boxes rather than trawling the internet for more records!    

I think I bought my copy of this 45 near the beginning of my second phase of record buying, probably close on 10 years ago now. My love of soul music had been rekindled by some early ‘00s contemporary artists such as Angie Stone and Jill Scott, and then, slightly belatedly, I discovered on-line fan sites such as Yoni’s Soul Of The Net and fledgling blogs such as Larry’s Funky16Corners, and also the wealth of old records for sale on ebay and other on-line emporia.

Andy Butler had three releases on Tangerine in the late ‘60s, this one being the first. That is just about all I know about him. Except I did stumble across this comment, evidently from a musician contemporary of Andy’s,  on a YouTube entry: “ Butler is none other than Andrew Butler from the Five Dutones. He was the lead singer on "Shake a tailfeather". I recorded on several of their songs when they were with One der-ful records. After the Five Dutones disbanded Andrew went on his own. I still communicate with him frequently. Andy's most recent ventures was with the Coasters and the Rivingtons.”  
Apart from that, hard facts regarding Andy Butler remain elusive. What is true though, as demonstrated on this track, is he had a fine voice.

A bit of wear on this 45, I’m afraid – call it patina.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tee Time

The “big” record fair was in town last weekend. I am starting to frequent these more regularly now, driven in part by the fact that lately I am not finding much I want (at a price I can afford) on-line. I am not sure frequenting them is a good idea though. I usually get carried away and end up spending more than I really want, and come home with records I had no idea I really wanted. That is OK if they are cheap but when they are “going rate”, which they are more than likely to be at a fair, I end up feeling a bit guilty at spending the money. When I get home and play the records properly for the first time it is often with a certain amount of trepidation as I wonder if they will still grab me once the “fair fever” has subsided. This is all very silly really, and is just another symptom of my collector addiction.     

Anyway, I can report that I am happy with all my purchases this time around. Very happy with one: I now have all Candi Staton’s Fame output (big ones and little ones) as I finally bagged an original copy (at a fair price) of her 1971 album Stand By Your Man. All but one of the tracks on the album I already have on 45, but it was worth getting the album on so many levels: the album has a lovely picture of Candi and some “word up” sleeve notes, nice quality sound on a vinyl LP, and of course it completes the collection!

I also bought a few 45s, some of which may feature here along the way. While I was sifting through a sizeable stack of soul 45s somebody else was playing 80s Disco Boogie 12s on the dealer’s system. I have always had a soft spot for the genre, and have been exploring it more on YouTube recently. I’m especially drawn to anything released between ‘81 and ’85. I hung up my DJing headphones sometime in ’81 (from memory). This was a difficult decision for me and I think I have forever since had a yearning for those records I would have been undoubtedly playing had I not stopped spinning those wheels of steel.

So it was I came away from the Fair with two 12” singles I had never (knowingly at least) heard before. Both, it turns out, are mixed by a legend of those Boogie days Tee Scott who was best known for his residency at Better Days in Manhattan. Here is one of them in its full 12” glory. I can pick out little touches of other records in this mix, but can’t put a name to them at the moment. There is something insanely infectious and uplifting about this sort of music, especially with the volume turned up, and although over 7 minutes long I don’t think it gets  boring either.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

A source has run it's course?

The “little” record fair, as I like to call it, was in town last weekend. I’ve mentioned it before – it’s mainly focussed on R&R, Doo-Wop, 50s and early 60s but there are one or two dealers who bring along some Soul boxes.

This time my “Mr Reliable” when it comes to Soul had just the two boxes. Not a good sign. “Any new ones?” I asked. “No, you will have seen them all before” was the reply. Oh. I had a little chat and he said it that Soul was now generally too expensive to pick up, he goes to the US fairs and has found that the Americans are getting back into Soul. He also dropped the bombshell that he is planning to retire next year after 46 years in the business. I get the feeling he’s a really nice guy and I will miss him.

Being told there was nothing new to flick through didn’t put me off diving into the boxes one more time. I’m glad I did too. I’m sure I hadn’t seen some of them before. Perhaps it was just that they were discounted a bit more this time so I paid more attention to some of them. Also, now with my trusty portable by my side I am happy to grab handfuls of records and give them a quick spin to see if anything grabs me. And so it was that I came away with nine 45s this time, and I’m really pleased with them all. As I handed over the cash for them he (stupidly I don’t know the dealer’s name) said: “Managed to find a few more then? I won’t bother to bring the Soul boxes next time”. L

Many of these purchases were only a £1 but this obscure Loma 45 from 1966 set me back a few more pounds. This was Mary Lee Whitney’s only 45. Just another fine singer who only got one shot at a recording career then?  Well no, not exactly. You, along with many millions of people, will have probably heard her sing, although you may not have been aware of it. In the Seventies Mary Lee Whitney was one of Stevie Wonder’s chosen female vocalists – a Wonderlover. On Songs In The Key Of Life she is the only credited female vocalist on the sublime As, and on Ordinary Pain shares the background vocal duties with Minnie Riperton, Deniece Williams, and Syreeta Wright – now there’s a team! She also makes an appearance on at least one other album - Hotter Than July.  

PS: When I was playing this 45 Mrs Darce piped up that she thought Mary Lee sounded a little like Dusty Springfield. I agree, especially on the B side of this 45, and the arrangement on Knockin’ is just the sort of thing Dusty might have recorded.