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Groover's VV ten: Vol. 1 (Oct 04)

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  • Groover's VV ten: Vol. 1 (Oct 04)

    For those who remember: this is the first chart I contributed to the VV site a few months back. This is the first of several archives that I shall be posting (in chronological order) when I can, until I get up-to-date. With the benefit of hindsight, I have made the odd amendment and edit in the interests of easier reading, but overall, the content is as before. If prices are mentioned, it is because a: this stuff was written before no-price rules were introduced, and b: it is particularly relevant to the circumstances surrounding the purchase…

    Gavvo the Groover

    First of all, a few words about myself. I am of true middle-age definition (as Barry Cryer once said, how many 120-year men do YOU know). Once safely past the pubescent rite of trying to get into Purple, Sabbath, et al (a mercifully brief passage), my first true musical love was funky disco, which I still dig, although I confess to knowing far more about rock than is healthy (i.e. I could probably list all the 70’s Yes line-ups, even though I’ve never listened to one of their albums). I’ve always had a soft spot for easy/kitsch stuff, and have collected seriously since I moved to Manchester about 6 years ago. I also search for gear in London, the Midlands, & my native South, when opportunities arise. The following is stuff I have mostly picked up since discovering the VV website, which has stimulated me once again, after recent burn-out from seeing the “World of Mantovani” LP once too often at charity shops & car-boots.

    1: Sweet Sensation

    Those among us older than they would care to admit will remember “New Faces”, a naff 70’s precursor to the “pop idol” TV trash talent shows of today. A regular judge on said show was (VV Lounge Lord) Tony Hatch, known as “the hatchet man”, for his brutal/honest criticism of the threadbare acts usually on display. However, in a rare moment of enthusiasm, Tony was quite taken with this UK equivalent of the Drifters & suchlike (much in vogue in the 70s, several afro’d black dudes in matching crimplene jumpsuits, one crooning upfront, the rest throwing synchronised shapes, with the odd oohs & aahs). In fact he even produced their consequent chart-topping 45 “Sad Sweet Dreamer”. Like the hit, the album, whose failure to shift units hastened the group’s return to obscurity, is similarly insipid soul-lite. However, opening track “Mr Cool” is a real ear-opener, a sassy funk workout par excellence, with bubbling clavinet & sizzling (nay, flanged) hi-hats to the fore. N.B. those with insatiable thirst for pop minutiae may wish to note LP was co-produced by David Parton, who’s dubious claim to fame was to exploit Stevie Wonder’s refusal to release a paean to his new-born baby as a single, and thus score a hit with a plodding retread of “Isn’t She Lovely”. Sadly, many naive listeners of the time (myself included, but I was very young then m’Lud) thought Mr P was singing about his “bird”.

    2: “Hammond & the Golden Hits”

    Going through the mythological checklist for this album was hypothetically a breeze: Hammond organ? Check! Percussion? Check! Groovy psych-style sleeve? Check! However, a listen reveals all is not what it seems: the organ is present (if not exactly correct), but the “percussion” consists merely of a drummer on auto pilot, as he and his equally dead-eyed colleagues wade through a selection of mainstream pop covers. A swizz, even at a cost of 5p. The groovier comps “a man & a woman” & “music to watch girls by” are just music-by-numbers – the uncredited performers are obviously anxious to get the session over asap so they can nip off to the boozer! Particularly painful is “Eleanor Rigby” where aforementioned skin-beater, faced with a “spare prick at a wedding” scenario, elects to bash along in much the same manner as the clueless & much-lampooned “Ringo” puppet did n Spitting Image.

    3: Juan Gonzales Latin Big Band “Latin Heat”

    Some folks say the aroma of coffee & bacon is so much better than the taste. Well, you can also add 50’s latin albums to that list! The covers always titilate so much (& this one is no exception), with the premise of dusky latin lovelies gyrating to the frenzied rhythms of massed ranks of exotic percussion. However the reality is usually banal covers of latin standards like “the Peanut Vendor” (done here of course), more likely to be heard in “Come Dancing”, than downtown Havana. This is full of such unappetising fare, but is worth a spin for “Machito” a horn-laden driving beat that one could imagine being used for chase scenes in 50’s US cop shows like “Dragnet”.

    4: “BBC Detective Themes”

    In the Black Country, there is a regular car-booter/dealer who is (vainly) trying to sell a battered copy of the “Hanged Man” LP for £40 “because it’s got the Two Ronnies Detectives music on it”. Now, if I were the gloating type, I could tell him that I recently acquired said theme on this album for a mere 20p. Not only that, but the album is chock-full of other 70’s goodies, such as the original version of “the Rockford Files”, Laurie Holloway’s cover of the least-known (& little-heard) “Starsky & Hutch” theme (written by X-Files man Mark Snow), and two funky gems I’ve not heard before: “Quiller”, mixing clavinet riffery with cocktail piano splashes, & “Gangsters”, featuring a full-throated vocal from Chris (“Out of Time”) Farlowe, a theremin-styled synth, and a blast on the mouth tube-guitar type thingy as made famous by Peter Frampton on “Show Me the Way”. To tie-in with the album’s crime theme, this was a steal.

    5: “Easy Listening Orchestral Sounds – Record One”

    This was salvaged from an immaculately packaged & preserved Readers Digest Box-set that sadly had to be binned, as such things are intrinsically worthless (tell me if you know otherwise). As I’m sure most of you are well aware, these LP’s were usually stuffed with bland easy fare churned out for the listening pleasure of the 60’s & 70’s equivalent of Dido fans (i.e. music for people who don’t like music very much). However, to my surprise I discovered amongst the dross a creditably funky (if you can imagine) version of “the Pink Panther” theme, by Bullet head-honcho, Alan Tew. Good string arrangement too.

    6: Wilbert Longmire – “With All My Love”

    Wilbert’s thing is tasteful (some would say tedious) fusion muzak, as effortlessly pedalled by the likes of Dave Grusin & Bob James, who produced here. However, he likes to stand out from the pack by presenting his work in unusual, even surreal LP sleeves. Past offerings have been dominated by strange objects not usually associated with jazz-funk, such as a fried egg (on “Sunny Side Up”), and some gooseberries. By his standards, this one appears tame. However, open up the gatefold sleeve, and you’ll find that Wilbert has pulled out all the stops: inside is a MASSIVE full-spread pic of the rose he is holding on the front cover – well worth destroying the Amazonian rain forest for.

    7: Ricardo Santos – “It’s Latin Time”

    At first this looked suspiciously like a Leo Muller production, but closer inspection revealed it to be a pseudonym for namesake (the more-likely Aryan than Latino) Werner Muller, part of the 60’s wave of Kraut easy-meisters (James Last, Kaempfert, etc). As to the title, “It’s Salsoul Time” would be a more accurate (if less saleable) description. Like Vince Montana’s crew, “Ricardo” & his amigos update classical tunes & other standards with the “Salsoul” sound (also covering the Salsoul Orch’s own “Nice n Naasty”), but alas, with nothing like the aplomb of the original recordings – and even they were beginning to show marked signs of the cheesy Disco disease. Definitely a case of much more naasty then nice. Oh yes – as the LP’s got “Latin” in the title, it has the mandatory version of “the Peanut Vendor”, this time a hideous attempt at funking it up – a nigh on impossible task methinks.

    8: Al Caiola – “Tuff Guitar Tijuana Style”

    There is a small town buried deep in the heart of the West Country that I usually make the effort to visit when in the area, as they have a couple of fine independent charity shops, the like of which you rarely see nowadays. Why is it whenever I go in the charity chain shops, I feel like I’m in “New Look” or somewhere like that? It’s all gone far too posh - all the extra money you now shell out for what were once bargains, pays for shopfitter’s holidays in the Bahamas. Something should be done to reverse this alarming trend… Anyway, now I’ve got that off my chest, there’s usually something of interest to be found in this town, & this is the pick of my last haul. Mr Caiola traded in a twangy guitar sound – the easy listening equivalent of Duane Eddy. Great for spy music (as evidenced by his contributions to the “Ultra Lounge” CD series), but not so good for clambering aboard the mid-60’s Tijuana bandwagon. One best avoided, although the sleeve is great for kitsch value.

    9: Sweet Charity – “Memoir”

    It almost goes without saying that this autographed Cabaret LP is utter dross. However, it has an endorsement on the back cover by none other than Manchester’s very own celebrated mirth-maker/racist ranter (delete as appropriate) Bernard Manning. The corpulent comic enthuses that the lads are “always a big attraction at my club”. In that case his punters must have cloth ears to match their cloth caps. You will of course be aware that the club in question is the self-styled “world famous” Embassy Club, somewhat strangely located in a particularly insalubrious part of Manchester, miles away from the City Centre.

    10: Percy Edwards – “The Story of Noah & The Ark”

    In the burgeoning tradition of the vinyl-vulture charts, I’ve included this sonically-valueless “silly” record for no good reason, other than to stroll down Memory Lane. Older readers may remember Percy Edwards as the man who always appeared on the 70’s “Generation Game”, with his “incredible” ability to mimic birds and animals (and later, on a Kate Bush track “the Dreaming”, along with Rolf Harris!!). Not to be confused with equally-famous-at-the-time Percy Thrower, who was the 70’s equivalent of Alan Titchmarsh. Library Music completists’ pulses may quicken when they learn that the LP was recorded at the KPM Studios - and as such, this LP is available for purchase ha ha….

    Last edited by groover; 30-04-2006, 11:17 AM.
    all it takes for evil to flourish...hopefully you know the rest?

  • #2
    You may be interested to know that the Hammond and The Golden Hits LP is an uncredited opus by Tony Back....on the other hand, you may not give a monkeys! Either way, it's not his best work.

    I wonder if the Sweet Chariot on that private pressing are the same band who recorded for de Wolfe? They used real bands for some of their pop LPs, and as Sweet Chariot were a Manchester based band, and noted Mancunian Peter Reno wrote some of the de Wolfe tracks I suppose it's possible.


    • #3
      I wonder if the Sweet Chariot on that private pressing are the same band who recorded for de Wolfe? They used real bands for some of their pop LPs, and as Sweet Chariot were a Manchester based band, and noted Mancunian Peter Reno wrote some of the de Wolfe tracks I suppose it's possible.
      sorry - I can't confirm the above as: since i wrote my original review, the Sweet Chariot LP has "disapeared" - i had no further reason to keep it.
      I do believe that peter reno contributed a track to the "sweeney" CD comp...

      all it takes for evil to flourish...hopefully you know the rest?