Monday, 31 August 2009
Take the Train - TAKE THE TRAIN!!!!!!!
Some of you who frequent the superb Daily Diggers blogspot might remember back in May, Kid Dynomite wrote a justified post moaning about the f*cked up Rail service in the Big Smoke and how it sometimes hinders his weekend digging excursions. Well I can definitely vouch for him on the state of our public transport system having spent plenty of time over the years sat stuck on sh*tty platforms waiting for yet another delayed choo-choo. However, just last week I experienced possibly the best train journey of my life. Read on...
I've just got back from holiday with my children down in the West Country. Crap weather all week, bar a couple of nice days, but we still had a great time visiting caves, waterfalls, rock-pool beaches and cycling miles on end. You're not here to read about that though - you wanna know what vinyl I picked up right? Well, I'd promised the girls before we left that there would be no Charity shops or Bootsales all week and I genuinely intended to stick to my intentions of spending that quality time without being distracted by the thought of hidden gems lurking in sleepy village thrift stores. As fate would have it that all changed on only our second day there...
We'd planned out our week by taking turns choosing places we'd like to visit or things we'd like to do. On the Monday I chose to visit Minehead and take the West Somerset Railway steam train down to Bishops Lydeard. The plan was to enjoy the train ride through the countryside, have lunch down in Bishops Lydeard and then head back to Minehead for the evening on the beach. We arrived at the station mid morning, purchased the tickets and made our way down the platform to wait for the next service which was to arrive about twenty minutes later. Halfway along the platform an old shop kiosk was open and selling second hand books to raise money for the upkeep of the line. Sat amongst the books was a small box of records which, of course, I had to sift through. From the fifty or so L.P.'s, I pulled out a desirable Annie Ross and Tony Kinsey Quintet album - 'Loguerhythms', Country Joe & The Fish's 'Together' album, Iron Butterfly's 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida' album, Charlie Mingus 'Blues And Roots' album and a T-Bone Walker album with a beautiful cover called 'Singing The Blues'. All original U.K. 1st pressings in absolutely stone mint condition. As I paid the £2.50 (50p each) I sheepishly asked if they had any more vinyl to which the friendly old boy replied "Yes I think so, come round to the side door and you can go into the back and have a look through the rest of them". I looked at the girls, who's faces said it all - 'here we go again....you promised you wouldn't look for records', but also with a slight forgiveness as if to say 'well OK then, but don't be long'. "I'll be done before the train arrives, I promise". So I head round the side, through the door and into a small storage area crammed with books. Amongst the books lay a shelf with a couple of hundred L.P.s and a few 45s dotted around on top. To cut a not very long story short I ended up pulling out a pile of forty-one albums and a couple of singles. The highlights are listed below but I've also written a little bit more about some of the best finds. Literally all of the records are MINT - I can't remember the last time I came across a good lot in such amazing condition. To top it all off I was only charged £10 for the lot! The lovely old bloke was over the moon and said that they are lucky to sell one or two records a week! I think the kids were pleased for me as they could tell I'd hit something a bit special. I finished in time for the next train and the rest of the day was spent on a total high enjoying the journey and then the evening down on the beach.
Normally when I find little spots that I think are untapped I keep it to myself. I'm not going to be down Minehead anytime soon so don't mind sharing the knowledge. Any locals that might be reading this or if you're planning a holiday down that way, pay it a visit. I totally cleaned it out, but it's probably worth checking every couple of weeks or so.
So there we go, my own little train story. Now read about some of the finds....
The Blue Monks - Emidisc 7" E.P.
I love obscurity and this definitely qualifies in that category making it my favourite find by a whisker. I've googled the group name and run-out groove details (RAY-1 A1 H / RAY-1 B1 H) and so far found nothing. The nearest I've come to ANY information is that they are possibly the same Blue Monks that recorded a track with Murray Head called 'You Bore Me' that appeared a couple of years back on a compilation LP - 'Take My Tip - 25 British Mod Artefacts From The 60s'. Of the four tracks that appear on this E.P. three feature vocals with one instrumental and I'm pretty sure all are cover versions. There's a cracking take on 'In The Midnight Hour' as well as 'Something You Got' plus the Blues standard 'Rock Me Baby'. The instrumental I'm sure is a Booker T & The M.G.s cover, if not, is very reminiscent of their sound. Anyway, check the sound clips below. If anybody out there has any info on the group or preferably this particular release please leave a comment.
The Blue Monks 'Something You Got'
The Blue Monks 'Instrumental'
The Blue Monks 'In The Midnight Hour'
The Blue Monks 'Rock Me Baby
The John Barton Combo at the Top Hat
It was a toss up between this and the above Blue Monks single to decide a favourite out of the haul. Both are obviously super rare (google once again came up with very little). This album is about as 'home-made' as you can get. The white labels have been hand stamped 'JOHN BARTON COMBO' and the front cover features an actual photo (pictured below) of the group stuck onto the budget screen printed flip-back sleeve. To add to the amateur feel of this release, the details on the back are actually upside down in relation to the front! Great stuff...right up my street. So most importantly, what is the music like? All I can say is, for this type of release - FANTASTIC. I've bought a ton of these 'Cabaret' albums over the years. Occasionally one or two turn up the odd decent track but most are completely duff. And surprisingly this album is consistent throughout with nearly every track having some kind of appeal - totally listenable all the way through. Recorded at Impulse Recording Studios, Monday 31st of August 1971, the highlights are covers of 'Vehicle' and 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy' (both downloadable in high quality MP3 below - I'm good like that), but there's also note worthy takes on 'Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy', 'Something' and Henry Mancini's 'Sorta Blue' featuring lovely flute solos. If you ever come across this records on your travels snap it up! At a guess I'd say a maximum of 500 were probably pressed up and sold at 'The Top Hat' club where they were presumably the resident band. The Group consisted of - John Barton (Tenor and Piano), Doug Turner (Tenor, Flute, Baritone, Harmonica, Maracas and Tambourine), Pete Peters (Organ and Piano), Ginger Butler (Bass Guitar), Bill Waite (Drums), Dave Hammond (Vocals, Guitar and Tambourine), Audrey Roffe (Vocals), Val Pearson (Vocals) and Richie Slater (Vocals and Bongos). What a great group they were too...check 'em out below (click image to enlarge).
The John Barton Combo 'Vehicle'
The John Barton Combo 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy'
Tubby Hayes and the Paul Gonsalves All Stars
This is probably the most valuable and desirable L.P. I picked up and my first Tubby Hayes album. I was always under the impression that the records released by W.R.C. were licensed re-issues produced for members of the World Record Club. A brief google search revealed they also released albums that were exclusively recorded for them, and this here album is one of them. The W.R.C. records were only available to club members and so were never commercially released making some of the exclusives highly desirable. Nearly everything Tubby Hayes related is sought after amongst the Jazz crowd and on listening to this album I can see why. In all honesty straight ahead Jazz isn't really my cup of tea but I can spot class when I hear it, and this is definitely classy stuff.
All the tracks on here are original compositions with three penned by Hayes, two by Tony Crombie, two by Les Condon and one by Harry South. Personnel consists of Tubby Hayes (Tenor, Flute and Vibraharp), Ray Nance (Violin and Trumpet), Paul Gonsalves (Tenor), Tony Coe (Alto), Jack Sharpe (Baritone), Ronnie Scott (Tenor), Terry Shannon (Piano), Ronnie Stephenson (Drums) and John Lambe (Bass) - a stellar line up of British Jazz musicians.
Grab the super clean rip of 'Speedy Gonsalves' below...
Tubby Hayes and the Paul Gonsalves All Stars 'Speedy Gonsalves'
Nat Adderley Sextet
About eighty percentage of the vinyl I picked up is '60s Jazz and I'm slowly listening through it all. I've only had the chance to take in five albums completely after briefly skipping through all of them. This Nat Adderley album 'In The Bag' was the first to give me that spine tingling sensation upon discovering a used sample for the first time. I won't name names (although I'm sure it's probably listed on one of the many sample snitching websites somewhere), all I'll say is that the beautiful piano and bass loop around the thirty second mark was used by the greatest Hip-Hop producer of all time - check the snippet below.
Nat Adderley Sextet 'R.S.V.P.'
Back in 1962 Mr Mingus was still know as 'Charlie' and released this album entitled 'Oh Yeah'. I've been after this L.P. for years purely for the artwork (it grabbed my attention in the superb 'East Coasting' book by Graham Marsh), but never wanted to pay good money for it. Well I got it now and after listening through found a sample I cannot place for the life of me. Take a listen to the snippet below and if you know who used the horns on the forty second mark please leave a comment and put me out of my misery. I've got Showbiz or Freestyle Professors rattling around in my head but I don't think it's either of those - sounds like a Bronx related sample though...
Charlie Mingus 'Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am'
This is pretty much the 'odd one out' of the bunch. Nearly everything else is from the '60s and either Jazz, Blues or Rock related. I'd pretty much given up gambling on Van McCoy albums as nearly ever one I'd picked up previously turned out to be weak string saturated Disco. The only album of his that's stayed in the collection is 'The Real McCoy' and that's only for the three second Beatnuts "Get on down and party" vocal sample!!! Anyway, something told me to buy it - and I'm glad I did. By far his strongest album I've come across with a less polished feel and funkier rhythms (I hate that famous Disco beat he was known for). It earned a full listen after needle dropping and came up trumps with the track 'Soul Improvistations'. A killer smooth groove with shuffling drums, funky percussion (courtesy of Ralph McDonald), whaling horns, nice flute and guitar action plus a bumping bassline. The trademark strings are still present but not so prominant than on his later recordings. As well as being a great track throughout the real clincher is a dope-ass B-Boy break just after the three minute mark. Check it out below.
By no means the rarest album out of the batch, in fact taking a look on eBay, it's probably the most common, however it's something I would more than likely have over looked for any more than the 24p that it worked out costing. Real heads can check the track in it's entirety below and decide if they wanna persue a physical copy for cheap - MP3 leeches can grab a clean high quality rip.
Van McCoy 'Soul Improvisations'
I'll more than likely write some follow up posts as I work my way through the rest of the albums. For now though here's a list of the majority of finds - I'm gonna be selling some so won't put them down yet, I'll wait until I see what I get for them and keep you posted...
Charlie Mingus 'Blues And Roots' (1960 London/Atlantic U.K. Silver/Red label)
Charlie Mingus 'Oh Yeah' (1962 London/Atlantic U.K. Silver/Plum label)
Charles Mingus 'Mingus Dynasty' (196? CBS France)
Charles Mingus 'Portraits' (196? W.R.C. U.K.)
Nat Adderley Sextet 'In The Bag' (196? Riverside U.K.)
Tubby Hayes & The Paul Gonsalves All Stars 'Change Of Setting' (1967 W.R.C. U.K.)
Annie Ross & The Tony Kinsey Quintet 'Loguerhythms' (1963 Transatlantic U.K.)
Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks & Annie Ross 'Sing A Song Of Basie' (1958 HMV U.K. Gold/Plum label)
John Coltrane & Don Cherry 'The Avante-Garde' (1966 Atlantic U.K. Plum/Red label)
Miles Davis 'In Person At The Blackhawk Vol.II (1961 CBS U.K.)
Joe Harriot Double Quintet 'Indo-Jazz Suite' (1966 Columbia/E.M.I. U.K.)
Kenny Burrell & Jimmy Smith 'Blue Bash!' (1963 Verve U.K.)
Modern Jazz Quartet 'Pyramid' (1960 London/Atlantic U.K. Silver/Red label)
Modern Jazz Quartet 'One Never Knows' (1959 London/Atlantic U.K. Silver/Red label)
Roland Kirk 'Hip!' (1963 Fontana U.K. Silver/Blue label)
Milt Jackson Quartet 'Milt Jackson Quartet' (1963 Oriole/Realm U.K.)
Cannonball Adderley 'Nippon Soul' (1963 Riverside U.K.)
John Coltrane 'Ballads' (196? W.R.C. U.K.)
Jimmy Smith 'Organ Grinder Swing' (1965 Verve U.K.)
Dave and Iola Brubeck 'The Real Ambassadors' (196? CBS U.K.)
Duke Ellington 'Latin American Suite' (197? Fantasy U.S.)
Charles Mingus 'At Carnegie Hall' (1974 Atlantic U.K.)
Jimmy Giuffre 'Four Brothers' (1960 Atlantic U.K.)
Stan Getz 'Another World' (1978 CBS U.K.)
Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry 'At The Bunkhouse' (1965 Philips U.K. Silver/Black label)
T Bone Walker 'Singing The Blues' (1960 Liberty U.K. Silver/Black label)
The John Barton Combo 'At The Top Hat' (1970 U.K. white label)
Country Joe & The Fish 'Together' (1968 Vanguard U.K. Silver/Black label)
Iron Butterfly 'In-Gadda-Da-Vida' (1968 Atlantic U.K. Plum/Red label MONO)
Manfred Mann 'Five Faces Of Man' (1966 HMV U.K. Black/Silver/Red label)
V/A 'Raw Blues' (1967 Decca/Ace Of Clubs U.K.)
Bonzo Dog Band 'History Of The Bonzos' (1974 United Artists U.K.)
Van McCoy 'From Disco To Love' (1975 Buddah U.S.)
The Blue Monks 'Untitled four track E.P.' (196? Emidisc U.K.)
Like I said, there's more to come - a couple of heavyweight items which I should get very good money for - I'll let you know about those as soon as the deals are done. Just goes to show though, there's still quality vinyl out in the wild if you look hard enough. A good bit of luck along the way always helps too!!!
So not all train services are bad Dyno - I highly recommend the West Somerset steam line if you're down that way!!!