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Touching Tales from the whacky world of vinyl....

This is a nice story: I just sold this album on eBay and the buyer emailed me to tell me the dude on the left is his Dad, that's why he bought the album. A nice story I think, lucky old Dad. I bet that was a fun day!

Great Albums: Sopwith Camel - Self Titled, KAMA SUTRA USA 1967 LP

This is a great favourite of mine. An LP released in 1967 on the back of the hit HELLO HELLO. This band were one of the earliest success bands out of 'Frisco and much hated for it by their "hipper" contemporaries there! However, time is a great leveller and these days we don't really care about such local spats anymore, do we? The title track is a Lovin' Spoonful inspired rag and was a big hit Stateside. The follow up LP bombed which is a shame as it means it is fairly hard to find these days. It's a lovely and unpretentious LP, full of great Folk-Rock with a few early Psych tinges. In fact this LP reminds me of very early Flamin Groovies and as the bands were neighbours, sort of, one wonders how much the Groovies took from the Sopwiths-or vice versa. I made the mistake of offering my original copy for sale recently, but thought the better of it as I remembered how much Iiked it. So it's mine again after all. There is as reissue from the mid-80s on EDSEL RECORDS which is how I first got into this LP. Now barely remembered bar by old heads like me and people like Brian Hogg probably! (Google him, he's one of the UK's great unsung heores of sleevenote writing and more..)

Great Albums: Cosmic Rough Riders - "Too Close To See Far", 2003 Measured Records LP

While doing a quick bit of research on this album I came across a 2003 review in THE GUARDIAN which gives this a paltry 2 out of 5 potential stars. According to the reviewer the songs are too samey and the lead singer has an indistinct voice. This is complete nonsense. This classic album - while pretty obscure - deserves far wider recognition. The songs (all 14 of them!) are of equal high standard and the aforementioned vocals are warm, soulful and beautiful.
The gorgeous JUSTIFY THE RAIN, an understandable Scottish lament to the weather, kicks off side one and sets the template for the rest of the album. This is a gorgeous concoction of well crafted, melodic tunes filled with lush harmonies as well as the obligatory 12-string guitars that gets better with every listen. Side two shows off another bona-fide Pop gem in the melancholy power of STUPID YOU which reminds you of TEENAGE FANCLUB, another great Scottish band that share the same tastes for song structure and melody as COSMIC ROUGH RIDERS. I would give this at least 4 stars out of 5 if I was in a fairly critical state of mind but 10 out of 10 for pure listening pleasure!

Great Albums: The Jags - Evening Standards, ISLAND 1980 LP

A nice Uk Power Pop album when the country was still overrun which such bands. Strong songwriting, nice harmonies and touches of 12-String Rickenbacker make for pretty good listening. Chart-wise it did nothing, maybe its Costello / Rumour soundalike tunes were a little behind the curve in 1980. That does not matter now of course as the benefit of hindsight avoids such trendsetting or otherwise. This is a tight and rockin' little LP that'll sit nicely next to you JAM and RECORDS records (!). Not a common album to find but not expensive when it does appear.

Great Albums: Beatles - A Hard Day's Night, ODEON Germany stereo LP

This is my personal choice of the greatest ever album. I won't bother going into details of the actual LP as this has been covered billions of times and you already have - and love - it. Right?
For me this is the album that started EVERYTHING. My Grannie gave this to me on my 6th Birthday in 1974. May she rest in peace. I, at that point, assumed The Beatles were the ONLY  Pop band that had ever existed and had no idea they broke up in 1970. In fact I had never even heard of 1970!! So I woke up at 5am on my birthday, totally over-excited. I ripped open the presents (of course) and there it was, the self same album you can see in the photo. I put it on -  no idea of what to expect. I was totally blown away. Previously my little compact record player had played Fairy stories and stuff like Peter & The Wolf, but this blew all that away for ever. That first chord on side one and then the rush of all those great songs, wow......too much!I played that album daily for years and totally wore that copy out, in fact before the age of ten I refused to play any other music bar the Beatles. Except Wings, because that was close (ish). But that was it. On vinyl, only The Beatles were allowed. I finally succumbed to other musical pleasures, which has led me to what I am doing these days, but that album sure is the greatest ever.

Great Albums: Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance, 1978 USA Blank Records

A truly original album, released at the height of (Post) Punk in 1978. An uncompromising and highly experimental work in a sea of Mod & Punk releases that year, it was not likely to be a mass market success. But older heads who were already heavily into Gong, Faust, Eno & Hawkwind found a hugely rewarding album here to add to their collections. Highly rhythmic and at times discordant the songs still manage to conjur up enough hooks to make them memorable and even hummable at times! The track NON ALIGMENT PACT is something of a classic as is THE MODERN DANCE, while LAUGHING is an excercise in deconstructive restraint and power. Jagged guitars, smashing bottles, insistant beats and singer Thomas' desperate wails make for - at times -difficult, but always compelling, listening. However, along with the LIVE IN CLEVELAND album & the DATAPANIK IN THE YEAR ZERO this record makes up a trio of great Pere Ubu 1970s platters.Issued in the UK on MERCURY RECORDS and on the much smaller BLANK label in the USA, it shows that Uk record companies were -at this point-hip enough to understand the relevance of this band and even expect a few sales. A cool album.

Great Albums: The Posies "Blood Candy", 2010 album on Rykodisc

Ok, it's probably a little too recent an LP to claim it to have changed my life...yet. I will however say that this LP has kept me indoors more often as I've been playing it so much. So it's contributed to a drop in Vitamin D in my system. But that's more than compensated by a boost in endorphins as well as a surge in insulin, because as the name suggests it's as sweet as it is brilliant. This is a finely honed album, crammed with fantastic songs very much in the classic Power Pop style of Jellyfish, Big Star and the usual suspects.  But this record is so much more than I can illustrate here. The songs are so strong, filled with killer hooks and gorgeous vocals. It even features THE STRANGLERS HUGH CORNWELL, which could have put me off but I could not make him out anyway-so it's fine. This is their 7th album, and if the others are as good then they must surely be a contender for band of the decade (or three). A truly classic album, which is only marred (on vinyl anyway) by a slightly flat mastering and/or cutting job, but it's good enough to play over and over and with songs so good, it's hard to fault anyway. Get it!

Review of the Dukes Of Kent LP in Ptolemaic Terrascope

(LP on Sugarbush Records

From the Terrascope Website: Click here.

Readers with long memories will no doubt recall me unreservedly recommending the countryfied jangly power-pop delights of The Silent's Blue's debut six-song LP 'Tune In' back in issue three of the Ptolemaic Terrascope in 1990. I'd long since finished writing for Bucketfull of Brains magazine by that stage and honestly can't remember whether they similarly endorsed the album, but I can't imagine it would have been awarded any accolade less than "record of the month" over there, as the band fit their oeuvre like a musical glove, guitarist Markus Holler even having done a stint with the Fortunate Sons at one time, whereupon he was replaced by former Flamin’ Groovy Chris Wilson. Which was about as close to sainthood as it’s possible to imagine round at Bucketfull HQ in the mid-eighties. I notice that latterday editor, Nick West, also gets a credit in the sleevenotes. It all starts to make sense.

Well, they're back - or at least Markus Holler most certainly is, along with Chris Gussman and Pablo Videla on drums plus Iain Rae on piano, the latter (Rae, not the piano) being ex-Gallagher & Lyle. Which says a great deal for the melodic musical fayre on offer here: nine tracks chock-full of chiming guitars, shimmering harmonies and West Coast licks with influences ranging from the Byrds through Crazy Horse to Tom Petty and Joe Walsh: a melting pot of pop,rock, psych and folk with great gobs of swirling guitar which will assuredly set feet tapping and shims shimmying, to lapse into engineering argot for a moment or two.
‘Limits of the Truth’ is one of my favourite cuts on the album, reminding me strongly of early Jackson Browne at the outset. It’s the start of a trio of great numbers: ‘When I needed You’ is a song worthy of the great Mr Saloman (the guitar work that closes ‘Every Day Brings Something new’ over on the flipside is similarly eloquent), and Side One’s closer ‘Blue Turns to Red’ is just beautifully constructed and performed - a song to be heard and remembered for long after the sun sets over the distant horizon....(abridged)

(Phil McMullen)

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