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Groover’s VV ten: Vol. 4 (May 05)

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  • Groover’s VV ten: Vol. 4 (May 05)

    Vinyl Vulture Chart May 05

    In his last old-VV-site-chart contribution, The Baron mused on the “cut-off” point of Herbie Mann. “Past Their Sell-By Date” is a subject I have often pondered myself, and I hereby take the opportunity to devise an alternative 10 here. Others may beg to differ, but in my opinion the following pop icons spent several years not only cultivating critical acclaim, but courting popular success also, until that “car crash” moment (a.k.a. “jumping the shark”*), where they would have been better off dead or completely incapacitated, rather than proceed to throw it all away for one or more of the following reasons: 1 – going up their own backsides artistically. 2 – becoming a grotesque parody of themselves. 3 – their mansions becoming more important then their muse. 4 – their ever more desperate attempts to keep up with the current fad become ever more obvious…


    REM : 1993 (after “Automatic For The People”)
    Madonna : 1990 (after “Vogue”)
    Michael Jackson : 1987 (after “Bad”)
    U2 : 1985 (after “the Unforgettable Fire”)
    Simple Minds : 1885 (after “Sparkle in the Rain”)
    The Rolling Stones : 1984 (after “Undercover”)
    David Bowie : 1981 (after “Scary Monsters”)
    Marc Bolan : 1974 (after “20th Century Boy”) - 3 years before the real one!
    The Beatles : 1966 (after “Rubber Soul”)
    Elton John : 1965 (before entering the music biz)

    *a reference to the (too) long-running US comedy “Happy Days”, whereby said absurd plot incident indicated to all but the series’ producers that things had gone belly-up…anyway, now on to the usual business…


    1: Alan Hawkshaw “Non-stop Hammond Hits”

    Yes, the legendary Hawk lands at Groover HQ! And with the “funky” trumpet of Ray Davies in tow as well…and yes, I’ve since discovered that, as usual, the Vulture Crew have got there before me on the lounge front, but I’m going to plough on regardless. Sadly, the album’s title dooms any aspirations of enjoying Alan’s own quality tunes, as he goes full tilt for the filthy lucre, with medleys of the most appalling pop material of the day. Horrors like “Welcome Home” and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” abound. Even a title like “Get Down” will dash false hopes of stumbling across a funky workout, as it is in fact a cover of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s paltry paean to his canine companion. The only saving grace is the Jackson 5’s “Skywriter”, a tune I’ve always quite liked. Here Al digs out his flanger to add extra pizzazz to his trusty organ sound, but it’s not so great that this album is worth buying, even for peanuts.

    2: MFSB: “End of Phase 1”

    If you like your funky grooves slick and spangly, then you could do worse than check out this LP by the Philly Int. house band - officially “Mother Father Sister Brother” but allegedly an acronym for something far cruder. This “Best Of”, features established floor-fillers “TSOP” & “Sexy” as well as a surprisingly gritty take on the O’Jays “Backstabbers” among the more disco-fied tracks, plus a delicious funky diamond in the form of “Love is the Message”. However, it’s not without its bloopers. The “Superfly” cover is horrid hustle-on-speed, and as for “Philadelphia Freedom” (presumably recorded due to its title), I can’t say how much my intense dislike of Elton John dictates my view, but as a sage once said, “If you make a shit sauce, then put loads of spice in to make it more palatable, all you end up with is a shit spicy sauce”. Such is the case here. In contrast, the runout groove to this (featuring girlies cooing “Philadelphia”) is excellent – what a shame they didn’t build a whole track around it, then Reg wouldn’t have copped undeserved royalties.

    3: Blue Mink “Our World”

    In the late 70’s, pub-rockers-riding-the-punk-wave The Motors (of “Airport” fame) released an album with a cover featuring their less-than-beautiful countenances, that was hastily withdrawn from record shops and replaced with a fizzog-free sleeve design, allegedly after complaints from offended, even frightened, customers. However, Blue Mink committed a similar crime a decade earlier, as their somewhat alarming appearance on this sleeve more than suggests they should have remained the faceless session musicians they were before. As for the music, you’d have thought with all those legendary studio cats about (Parker, Flowers, Morgan etc), this would be a bit of a groove fest. However, the number of funky tracks here equates to the number of lookers in the band i.e. none. It’s just full of vapid and thinly produced m.o.r. fare, no doubt closely supervised by pop-lite svengali Roger Cook.

    4: Blue Mink “Only When I Laugh…”

    Four years on, and the rhythm section (now augmented by the Rock World’s token bongo basher Ray Cooper) seem to have had a bit more input into what is fuller sounding album, although it’s still mostly barren pop territory. I recall being partial to the hit “Randy” as a callow youth, but it hasn’t aged well, and there’s a distinctly queasy quasi-reggae version of “You are the Sunshine of My Life”. But at least there are a couple of groovers to latch on to. “Harlem” is a Bill Withers cover that wouldn’t sound amiss in a blaxploitation film, but the best cut is “Daughter of Someone”, where Alan Parker cranks out his much-missed wah wah pedal, to counterbalance hippy-dippy lyrics like “Out of my head, spent all my bread”. They’ve also had the wisdom to leave their ugly mugs off the front cover this time (in fact, one of them has even gone AWOL from the soft-focus inner gatefold sleeve shot), although the cartoon mink is no great improvement.

    5: Gladys Knight & The Pips “Claudine” OST

    When I recently offered a retro dealer a nugget for this, I was sure he’d suspect it worth more, and I was right. His eyes narrowed as he enquired “Who is it mate?” When I replied “Gladys Knight”, his scorn was almost tangible. “Oh, you can have THAT for a quid mate”. Like many, he’d made the fatal error of condemning Glad for schmaltz like “Midnight Train To Georgia”, and unlike me, wasn’t aware that the mastermind behind this was blaxploitation dude Curtis Mayfield. And the gamble paid off. Although the film’s romantic nature indicates balladeering is prominent, a couple of cuts make up for it. “Claudine’s Theme” is an instrumental workout a la Love Unlimited Orchestra, but the real find is the wah-laden groover “On & On”, particularly pungent when Gladys & chums make way for the guitar solo. BTW, with regard to the above, have you noticed these days most retailers’ deeply irritating habit of calling you “mate”? I often feel like retorting “I’m not your mate, I am your customer, and as such, if you must make address, then do so in a more appropriate and respectful manner”, But of course they would then look at me as if I’d just escaped from the local loony bin.

    6: Donald Fagen & Walter Becker “You Gotta Walk It Like You Talk It”

    Donald Fagen is one of my all-time musical heroes…in fact as far as I’m concerned, he’s “the Don”. Be it with Steely Dan or solo, he’s hardly put a foot wrong in 30 years, Even if he takes a decade to release an album, it’s worth the wait, because you know it’s going to ooze quality: more-prolific-but-lesser-talented acts should take note. However this is one release that really should have stayed in the can. Originally used as a soundtrack for an obscure 1970 film, it was released in 1978 not as “a crass attempt to exploit their platinum status”, but “simply as an historical document” - so claim the sleeve notes. Don & Walt were mere striplings at the time, and it shows. There’s some experimentation with echo effects and stereo panning, but the tunes are bland, and could have been recorded by anybody. The only interest to “Danoraks” is to compare this to the band’s later 70s works, and marvel with astonishment at how far they progressed in a few short years.

    8: Brian Auger “The Best of Brian Auger”

    To paraphrase the famous Dirty Harry “do you feel lucky punk?” speech: Uh-huh, I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t he do a plodding rendition of that Dylan dirge (a more apt word to describe anything by the Tuneless Minstrel cannot be imagined) “This Wheel’s on Fire”, with Julie Driscoll (and the Trinity, lest we forget). Well yes, he did, so I initially gave this album a very wide berth. However, I then heard someone else give it a spin, and I couldn’t believe how funky it was. Apparently, after his brief association with the British charts, he got quite big on the US jazz-fusion scene, hence this American compilation. The whole album is pretty much on the case, with a cover of Marvin’s “Inner City Blues”, as well as a stab at the boogaloo classic “Listen Here”, but for me the essential track is the driving funkiness of Mr A’s own “Happiness is Just Around the Bend” where, like the Ambassador proffering Ferrero Roche, he spoils us with his Fender Rhodes dexterity, as well as impressive vocal range.

    8: The Vast Majority “Move It!”

    On first glance, this album’s cover had all the hallmarks of a “Stereo Gold Award” presentation i.e. cheap and shoddy. But it turns out to be an American pressing, brought to you courtesy of the “D&M Sound” Label. That wouldn’t have anything to do with the producers Dave Miller & Marty Wilson would it? They try so hard to push the right buttons on this disco/salsoul/hustle cash-in, but on the whole, it just doesn’t hang together convincingly, partly through feeble tunes, but mainly due to a lacklustre rhythm section, featuring a particularly mediocre conga player. A Spock-like eyebrow-raising scan of the credits reveals that Roy Budd (he of “Get Carter” fame?) has been roped in to provide a couple of arrangements, but even he can’t save it from sounding a mess. It must also be pointed out: with sleeve notes proclaiming “Disco Dynamite!” and titles like “Take It!”, they obviously haven’t learnt prudent use of the exclamation mark to achieve maximum effect, as helpfully pointed out by comedian Frank Skinner in his autobiography.

    9: Boz Scaggs “Silk Degrees”

    Yes I know, this one has started to pop up in Chazza Shops & Boots across the land, and no doubt has been conferred with “not to be touched with a bargepole” status by committed crate-carrions, due to its AOR hits “What Can I Say” & “The Lido Shuffle”. Most of the album is of similar ilk, but in case you’re not already aware, it also contains the superbly disciplined West-Coast funk that is “The Lowdown”. Even Boz’s weedy pipes can’t stop this monster competing with the best of the Steely Dan grooves – no surprise here really, seeing as it’s underpinned by the rock-solid sticks work of regular Dan henchman Jeff Porcaro. So, in the manner of a recent Government public service ad much aired in-between segments of “Countdown”, I implore you: ”Go on, pick it up…it’s yours for 50p!”

    10: “Yankee Doodle Disco”

    Recently coming across a copy of this brings back memories. My oldest chum and I discovered a mutual liking for funky disco from the mid 70’s on. So his well-meaning but somewhat less well-informed mother gave him this album as an intended ideal birthday gift. When I turned up at his house that day for a spinning session, he held up the sleeve up for my attention with a pained and somewhat embarrassed expression…a (brief) listen confirmed it was as cringingly awful as its premise – crass disco beats under traditional American singsongs like “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. The recollection still creases me today. Many years later, when my friend moved house, his no less naïve Ma earnestly advised him “Now Dear, you’ve got the ideal opportunity to finally get rid of those old records you’ve had hanging about for years”. His response? “Mother, I’m actually moving to have more room to store them in”. They’ll never understand…

    Last edited by groover; 30-04-2006, 10:51 AM.
    all it takes for evil to flourish...hopefully you know the rest?

  • #2
    ohhh i'd disagree with you about the Blue Mink - Only when i laugh album being mostly barren pop territory (especially when you go on to say that it's got a few groovers on it) As you say Harlem is a great track and as for the weird breakladen Sunshine of my Life Cheesy but great,I recommend VV'ers to pick this up if they can as usually it's cheap,i managed to get about and give away 6 copies since the start of the year and my friends have all been pleased
    I often wondered what the other Blue Mink stuff would be like but i havent ever come across the Our World album.
    Country be dyin like poor people do
    Hospitals be closing...doors to me and you (Lopazz - Blood)

    And here's some other stuff that i get up to...


    • #3
      As regards Blue Mink, 'Melting Pot' is the best LP I think - there's two or three decent tracks on there, plus two instrumentals....result!

      Dave Miller? Sounds like The Vast Majority is a Stereo Gold Award project - interesting, expecially with the Roy Budd connection! The Vast Majority get a namecheck on the sleeve of the SGA Hammond Disco LP (alongside Gloria Gaynor and 5,000 Volts), but I'd never heard of them.


      • #4
        Good to see Donald Fagen / Steely Dan get a mention on this site. Love 'em. Caught them live in B'ham about 4 years ago and they were superb.
        Got a genuine head rush when they played 'Dont Take Me Alive' as their final encore...really blew me away.

        I can't think of many songs that start with a guitar solo that searing.

        Being so distinctive their songs don't get covered much (may be wrong here: usually am )...but a few years ago I had on tape a cracking soul / gospel cover of 'Caves Of Altimara' . All female group. Can't remember the name but I'm sure it was one word starting with a Z.

        Amazing stuff; haven't heard it for ages; that's it I'm off to find and play it!

        <<Soul Strut 100>>Collectable CDs 1 Forumusic: April 2014 Collectable CDs 2<<'95 WOF>>


        • #5
          So let me get this right. You made a 'jump the shark' top ten? So that's basically a top ten of crap albums? How very VV!


          • #6
            Originally posted by Nick Cope
            So let me get this right. You made a 'jump the shark' top ten? So that's basically a top ten of crap albums? How very VV!
            Remember Jan Knops top ten crazy shits funk not funk 45's chart in Big Daddy?

            New Mastersounds, One Note Brown described as the theme from Top Gear! Classic.


            • #7
              Point taken, as that was the funniest chart I've ever read!


              • #8
                The Beatles : 1966 (after “Rubber Soul”)

                You having a Giraffe? Complete baws!

                "Revolver", "Magical Mystery Tour" (US LP), "White Album" & "Abbey Road" for starters and then I'll raise you:

                "Day Tripper"
                "Paperback Writer"
                "Strawberry Feilds Forever"
                "Hey Jude"
                "Ballad of John and Yoko"
                "..hole...road...middle thereof"


                • #9
                  And Get Back and... etc etc. Do you seriously not like Revolver?

                  About that Vast Majority LP - there's also an SGA LP called 'Disco Dynamite!'. Any chance of some more details on the LP Groover? Leo Muller/Dave Miller did have US labels but I was under the impression they were pretty much pre-SGA. What year is the LP from? How do you know its a US pressing? I'm intrigued (and also an SGA geek).
                  Mixes, compilations and the like


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nick Cope
                    Point taken, as that was the funniest chart I've ever read!
                    Agreed, made me laugh.
                    You can't take a stocking offa bare leg


                    • #11
                      replies to groover VV chart 4 comments...

                      Dear fellow VV forumers, thanks for your responses to my latest chart contribution…far more than I expected, don’t know if that’s due to the actual content, or just the fact that it’s the first not previously featured…

                      Anyway, here are a few replies to what has been posted - I can’t work out how to leave quotes from multiple sources, so I’ll just have to do it “manually” so tospeak:

                      Re - Donald Fagen/Steely Dan (response from Ian Townsend):

                      Apart from those mauling the Dan’s cannon via the heinous crime of sampling, I’m not aware of any recorded covers. However, I can thoroughly recommend the tribute band “Nearly Dan” – they don’t try to imitate Fagan’s distinctive nasally vocals, but that apart, are blindingly accurate in capturing the unique Dan sound live…

                      Re: the “Car Crash” top 10 (response from Nick Cope & others):

                      Not sure if Nick’s comment is complimentary or not. Probably not. Anyway, I’m curious to see the “Jan Knops” chart – maybe someone could reproduce it here?

                      Re: The Beatles Car-Crash Moment (response from LDJB & others):

                      Yes, Day Tripper & Paperback Writer are both great Beatle tunes, but I’m sure they were released prior to Revolver. Yes, they came up with the odd decent number post 1966: Dr Robert, Julia, She’s So Heavy (although I much prefer the Groove Collective’s House-Style cover)…but generally I find their later work too druggy and self-indulgent/self-important for my taste. In the wake of this “controversy”, I have re-checked the “Red (62-66)” & “Blue (67-70)” LP comps, to see to see what percentage of each would feature in a combined double album, but I have to say I’d be more than happy just to stick with the earlier one thanks very much. Anyway, that’s my opinion, and as ex-Liverpool FC manager Gerard Houllier once remarked “Opinions are like noses – everybody’s got one”.

                      Re: The Vast Majority LP (response from Little Jimmy Oddman)

                      The back sleeve of this album has “printed in USA” on it, and part of the blurb uses the word “color”. It's also sleeved in the that thick slightly textured card that seems unique to US pressings, so I think I’m right it being a US album, unless it’s all part of a cunning ruse to impress the punters more. I acquired this several months ago, and inbetween then & now, I did spot a UK pressing: I think it was an SGA or associated release, although I can’t be sure – curses! For the record, the album’s track-listing is as follows:

                      Love For Sale
                      Move It!
                      Pain Dealin’ Woman
                      Muddy Sneakers
                      Salsa Woman
                      Take It!
                      Oceans Apart

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


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by groover
                        no surprise here really, seeing as it’s underpinned by the rock-solid sticks work of regular Dan henchman Jeff Porcaro.
                        ah, the drummer from Toto. Sub-Spinal Tap death if I remember rightly. He crashed his tractor style lawnmower after being overcome by the fumes from the pesticides he was spraying on his lawn. And as Otis Lee Crenshaw once sang in his honour "DDT - the one drum he couldn't master".

                        Now, that Brian Harvey from East 17... I know I shouldn't, but you have to laugh a little. oh so Spinal Tap. Wheels of his own car...
                        Last edited by alanmck; 02-06-2005, 08:03 AM.