Sunday, 14 February 2010
It's definitely very cold down here on the South Coast at the moment but this post doesn't revolve around today's shivering weather conditions. Nope, it's just more obsessive talk about obscure vinyl...
On the way home from work this Friday I payed a visit to my local record shop which I hadn't managed to do for a couple of weeks. Plenty of new stock to browse through and after an hour or so I left with a nice bag of goodies for just under twenty five quid. Amongst the batch of fifteen or so records I bought, were sealed copies of The Cyrkle's "Neon" LP (Tribe sample) and Central Nervous System's "I Could Have Danced All Night" (OK-ish Bluesy Psych Rock). Copped a nice Ahmad Jamal album which includes a cool semi-instrumental version of Steeley Dan's "Black Cow" and also upgraded my copy of The Gap Band's "Outstanding" 12". The best 'known' buy though, was a mint, original U.S. pressing of Le Pamplemousse's "Gimmie What You Got" 12" for £2 (classic disco break). The rest of the money was spent on blind punts from the pound crates, which turned up the following L.P...
Now I always have a quick look over the sleeve credits on any oddity that appears half interesting and although this features one of the ugliest covers I've ever come across, the inclusion of "Southern Freeze" within the track listing was enough to intrigue me into buying it. Besides that, the album was released by a local record label called Airship who's studios were based six miles down the road from me in beautiful Bognor Regis. I've had a few records on Airship over the years but none have been keepers. I did get very good money for a couple though - a female Folk LP that topped the £100 mark and another by some Heavy Metal group which went for £80 or so. There's a fair few highly collectible releases on the label - this however, is NOT one of them!
'After Eight' it appears were a Cabaret act, of sorts, who played various venues across the South Coast during the late seventies and early eighties. As it states within the sleeve notes, they were the amalgamation of two previous bands - 'Mayfair Suite' and 'Gone Cheese Band' (what a great name!), forming in 1977. You can read the rest of the brief biog by clicking the scan if you want but I'm gonna crack on with the track I mentioned earlier - "Southern Freeze".
I've always had a soft spot for U.K. Jazz-Funk. Groups like Atmosphere, Incognito, and Freeez released some great records in the late seventies / early eighties and the track "Southern Freeez" is a particular favourite of mine, so when I noticed the inclusion of "Southern Freeze" (sic) on After Eight's album I was really hoping for a cover of the classic Freeez track instead of some god awful, self-penned, local band tripe. I'm sure by the fact that I've written this far, you've already guessed that it is in fact a cover of "Southern Freeez" and, a rather good one at that.
I very much doubt there's any other versions of this song out there, if there is, I haven't heard them, so I've only got the two to draw comparisons between. The original is widely known anyway, appearing on many compilations over the years and I'm sure at one point was used on a T.V. advert in the U.K. There's no need for me to get into some deep analysis or review it in anyway, in fact there's no need for me to do that with the After Eight version either, you can simply click on the players below and listen for yourself. One thing I will point out though is; although the cover version lacks slightly in production and suffers from a far weaker kick than the original, it does contain elements which I actually prefer. Rimshots replacing the clapping snare sounds add a new dimension and the breakdowns on After Eight's version hit far harder than on Freeez's.
Anyway, draw your own conclusions. It might be another one of those records, that unless you actually own, you aren't that bothered about. Me? I love it. Probably because I discovered it first hand. I guess that's half the enjoyment of records like these.
After Eight "Southern Freeze" (1981 Airship Records)
Freeez "Southern Freeez" (1980 Beggars Banquet)