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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Donovan - "The Hurdy Gurdy Man" Vinyl, LP, Mono, Album, 1968 (Epic)

You can never go wrong with an album that is credited "A Mickie Most Production."   Beyond that, you can't normally go wrong with a Donovan album.  "The Hurdy Gurdy Man" album is the Donovan album that people don't talk or write about.  It has two hit singles "Hurdy Gurdy Man" (amazing) and the charming "Jennifer Juniper."  Of the Mickie Most / Donovan albums, this one is his most Indian/world/exotic instrument LP.  

First of all, Donovan is the most underrated singer of his generation.  A superb stylist, with jazzy overtones.   Two songs that stand out for me on "The Hurdy Gurdy Man" is "Peregrine" and "Tangier."  Both have a strong Indian / drone influence, and yet, Donovan makes it very much his own.  His approach to his songs is very much him.  There is really no other Donovan.  It's not only his voice but the presence and style of his music that makes him a very unique artist.   

There is also the "twee" image Donovan has cultivated over the years, but when I hear his music, I don't think of the softness, but the beautiful arrangements.  His psychedelia is different from say someone like the band Traffic (but close...) or the Fab Four.  Some of the "drone" songs were co-written by David J. Mills, a close friend of Donovan's.  "Teas" reminds me a bit of George Harrison, but I also hear Dave Brubeck's piano running through the mix as well.  John Paul Jones, although not credited on the sleeve was very much part of the album through his talent as an arranger.  It is rumored that Jimmy Page is on the album as well, but not proven.  For sure Clem Cattini did the drumming.  Nice to have a Joe Meek reference here.  Clem was the drummer for The Tornados. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Anton Karas "Anton Karas Plays The 3rd Man Theme" LP, Vinyl, Album (London Records)

"The Third Man" is one of my favorite films.  Friendship is a good subject matter for a film.  Especially a bad friendship.   I have always loved the soundtrack by Anton Karas, with just him playing the Zither.  Ah, the very name of the instrument makes me remember the days of Vienna, right after the war.  Except I never been to Vienna.  I only know Vienna through "The Third Man," through the eyes of Harry Lime.

I never realized that there was "The 3rd Man" TV show.   An American or British show?  Since this album seemed to come from the United Kingdom, I gather it's a British production. Nevertheless, it's Michael Rennie as Lime, and by this album cover, I already love the series.  I'm also not sure when this album was released.    By my estimate, sometime in the late 1950s.  

I have seen numerous edition of "The Third Man" soundtrack over the years, but it was Michael Rennie that made me put down $5.95 plus California sales tax.   Side one is the beloved and classic Karas soundtrack, but side two are Fritz & Jacky, who do Zither duet.  The titles are in German.  So, I'm not even sure it this music was used in the TV series or not. The music is not as good as Karas, but the playing is quite lively.   Oh, and I should state that the Karas soundtrack is the same as the Orson Welles/Caroll Reed film.  

A1Third Man Theme
A2Visions Of Vienna
A3Danube Dream
A4Cafe Mozart Waltz
A5Second Theme
A6Wien, Weib, Wein
B1Die Annemarie Aus Rotterdam, Einmal Kommt Die Grosse Liebe, Erzahl' Mir Ein Marchen, Marina
B2Ein Kleines Schiff Am Grossen Meer, Der Cowboy Hat Immer Ein Madel, Der Negerkonig "Bum"
B3Halt, Bitte Bleiben Sie Doch Stehn, Liebe 1st Ja Nur Ein Marchen, Pack Die Badehose Ein
B4Quicksliver, Du Ahnst Es Nicht, Was Du Fur Mich Bedeutest

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sparks - "The Rest of Sparks" (Sparks The Island Years) LP, Vinyl, Album, 2015 (Island Records)

For the first fifteen minutes or so at the record store I thought I was carrying around "The Best of Sparks" - but alas, I was wrong.  It's the same cover as "The Best Of..."  but it's actually "The Rest of Sparks."   This album is part of the vinyl box set "Sparks The Island Years."    Someone at the store separated the albums within the box, and here I'm with this new purchase of an essential Sparks' vinyl album.   "The Rest of Sparks"  is a collection of all the b-sides during their years at Island Records.  Like the A-Sides and albums, they never put out a bad recording.   So, for the first time, you have Sparks classics like "Barbecutie," "Lost and Found," and the totally absurd "The Wedding of Jacqueline Kennedy to Russell Mael."   From 1974 to 1976, Sparks couldn't fail.  Well, to this day, they never failed.  But for many, the Island Records era for this band was like catching lightning in a glass jar. 

I have always had a fond taste for b-sides. My favorite habit (of many) is when I get a 45 rpm single, to play the B-side first.   For many, it's usually a throw-away song to make one focus on the A-side, but alas, I would argue that the masterpieces are usually on the flip side.   "The Rest of Sparks" is one of my favorite Sparks' albums.  If there is a weak cut, it's probably "I Want To Hold Your Hand," which is oddly enough my least favorite Beatles song.  Still, "Lost and Found,"England," and others here are essential Sparks' recordings.  To have these songs on one piece of vinyl is something that makes me extremely happy.   

One of the rare cuts here is "Tearing The Place Apart," which is brilliant songcraft writing.  One would think that Cole Porter or Noel Coward wrote the song, but alas, Ron Mael is one of the great songwriters of not only his generation but in the history of the American Song Book.   Which I know from me sounds like over-loving a songwriter's work, but he's clearly on the same genius mode as Porter.  

A1Lost And Found
A3Alambamy Right
A4Marry Me
A6The Wedding of Jacqueline Kennedy to Russell Mael
B1I Want To Hold Your Hand
B3Gone With The Wind
B5Looks Aren't Everything
B6Tearing The Place Apart

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Group - "The Feed-Back" Vinyl LP, Album (with CD), Re-Issue, Re-mastered, 1970 (RCA, Schema ‎)

"The Group" is Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, who we know is a band that Ennio Morricone is associated with.  Totally experimental, and more John Cage-like than what we think of with respect to Morricone's more mainstream movie soundtrack work.  "The Feed-Back" is Gruppo di Improvvisazione with an incredible beat.  The one consistent instrument throughout the recording of this album are the drums.  It's very Can/Neu like, that it's a beat that doesn't give up. 

The music is free-form, but the drums keep everything grounded to a groove.  An adventuresome DJ can play this album in a nightclub, and I don't think there will be that many people leaving the dance floor.   There are only a handful of recordings by or with Morricone that has nothing to do with film scoring. So it's interesting avenue or opportunity for him to do what he wants to without the restrictions of a producer.  Which comes to mind, does a filmmaker dare tell him what to do?

To give full credit to the band, it consisted of Walter Branchi, Renzo Restuccia, Bruno Battisi D'Amario, Egisto Macchi, Mario Bertoncini, John Heineman, and of course, Morricone. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Valentinos' "It's All Over Now" b/w "Lookin' For A Love" 7" 45 rpm single vinyl (ABKCO)

What an incredible double-sided single.   Of course, I know the Rolling Stones version of "It's All Over Now" which is amazing, but The Valentinos version is remarkable.  Written and performed by Bobby Womack and his brother, this is an amazing recording.  It's funky but what makes this record a real go-go is the drummer.  I don't think I have ever heard such a fantastic drum track than this single.   "Lookin' For Love" is born to be played in a dance club.   Do the Valentinos have an album?  All I can say is that this single or the two songs are excellent.  I can't imagine what they must be like in person.  I'm not sure when this record was recorded, but my guess its somewhere between 1961 and 1963.  Wow. 

The Honeycombs "I Can't Stop" b/w "I'll Cry Tomorrow 45 rpm vinyl single, 1964 (Interphon Records)

The Honeycombs, if truth to be known, is my favorite band.  Over the years I collect their recordings, which is not a lot.  They only did three albums, and that includes a live album made and recorded in Tokyo.  The brilliance of The Honeycombs is the combination of great songs with brilliant production by Joe Meek.  "I Can't Stop" should have been a mega-hit around the world, but alas, it never reached the heights "Have I The Right."   Nevertheless, it's a masterful song with a driving beat and chorus.  The b-side for me is the super treat.  A song by Meek, "I'll Cry Tomorrow" is superb drama and I get goosebumps hearing Honey's (the female drummer) backup vocals during the chorus.  

Darlene Love - "Stumble and Fall" / (He's A) Quiet Guy" 7" 45 rpm vinyl single, 1964 (Philles Records)

I just purchased this 45 rpm single at Rockaway Records.  Produced by Phil Spector and both the A and B side is arranged by the fantastic and great Jack Nitzsche.   There is the Wall of Sound, and then there is 'this' Wall of Sound.  Both songs, "Stumble and Fall" and "(He's a) Quiet Guy" is the iconic sound of Spector working with Nitzsche.  So much sound!  So many instruments!  Honestly, it's a fantastic record.  If the credit label is correct (and the songs are reversed, which makes this single a real collector's item) the songs are written by Phil Spector/V. Poncia/P. Andreoli.  According to Discogs, this single was pulled out of the market at the very last moment and replaced by The Ronettes "Walking in the Rain."  Using the same catalog number 123.   Not a bad find for $2.99.  But the music here is priceless.