Monday, December 30, 2019

Janus - Gravedigger - Original German Harvest - No. 224

Janus - Gravedigger - Original German Harvest

The original Janus "Gravedigger" is a release from Germany (1972) and commands quite a bit of cash if you want to own one, wether pristine condition or not. There's also a legal CD available and ... some counterfeits. I've made myself clear about where I stand with regards to counterfeits (as opposed to bootlegs), but usually it doesn't raise my bloodpressure at all. Except when I see, that folks are being taken advantage of.

Now, this record is a staple in my collection (at least the CD version) for decades and I managed to buy myself an original copy by shelling out the appropriate amount of cash a year or so back. But when I see that some guy is trying to be smart and sells his stuff as the original in the hope that he finds someone who can't tell left from right, this is where it gets my attention:

This here is plain fraud. There never was a coloured original version of this LP (note, that the seller claims this is a 1 (which I read as first) press (pressing).

Also note his sales drivel about how rare this is (you wish!) and how this is supposed to be a collector's item (right and the devil is a squirrel). The nearly EUR 280.00 are a bit on the lower side for a top condition original LP, but way off for a counterfeit item such as the one on offer. Discogs says this:

Sales not allowed! We can discuss the integrity of the Discogs database until the cows come home, but at least they mark something only unofficial if a label or an attorney or whatever has contacted them. But here's another database (where this is marked as bootleg - sorry, they don't know the difference between bootleg and counterfeit -

Now, if you ask me, this counterfeit version is, at a guess, worth maybe all of EUR 20.00 and no change. Don't tell me the seller doesn't know what he's trying to flog off here. Those kind of sellers get on my nerves, can't stand these guys.



P.S,: And btw, this counterfeit is from around 2010 (and not 1972)

P.P.S.: And a happy New Year and all the best in 2020!!!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Dynamites - Too Late: The Complete Recordings - Part 2 - No. 223

Dynamites - Too Late: The Complete Recordings - Part 2

Just today the mailman rang twice (only once, in fact) and here I am, owner of the Dynamites box "Too Late: The Complete Recordings". This is all rolled into one: Great haptics, a benchmark in the history of Swiss Beat/Garage of the 60s and especially the Basel area and one item you have to put your false teeth back in, when you try to explain to your grand-grandchildren what the Dynamites meant for the Northwestern part of Switzerland.

And it's bloody value for money on all accounts:

Here's the box plus the gatefold sleeve. Class A+

And here is the booklet (40 pages) with the Dynamites story and lots of pictures (the story is written in English and you only stumble upon German for handbills, posters and the like, which were scanned as is). Plus the two 12"s, of course.

Plus three posters, reprints to give you the full value.

I haven't listened to the records as of now, but the weekend is ahead and I've nothing else lined up, so ...

What you get here is a beautiful item for your hard-earned cash. It might be difficult to find in a record shop near you, but if you're desperate, just let me know and I try to find a reliable source where you can purchase yourself a copy. Maybe there's even a listing on Discogs (haven't seen one yet, but who knows).



Thursday, December 12, 2019

Nine Below Zero - Avalanche - No. 222

Nine Below Zero - Avalanche

Quel surprise, NBZ with an all original set of songs on the market! After you thought they had packed it in and released "Best Of"s and endless "Live" ones and not an original idea in sight, there you are, pray for forgiveness and swear, you'll never ever doubt NBZ anymore. O.K., they let you down the last decade or so (well, yes, "13 Shades Of Blue", but I need to exaggerate a bit or I can leave it well be) and then, this here. A dozen new and original tracks on CD and, can we just have fanfares from the tower, please, on LP(!). Bloody hell and high water! NBZ release their new album on vinyl as well, when it's been a digital wasteland with them for around two decades. Well, in fact, it's been a cool 26 years when the band last released anything on vinyl. Get me paint and a ladder, I have to draw a big cross on the ceiling.

And if this wasn't enough to leave you speechless, NBZ throw in another 2 songs in the form of a 7" (not included on the CD).

You can spin this one when the whole familiy is sitting around the Christmas tree and everyone and their dog gets on each others nerves. Of course, I need time to let the music (and the fact that it's been issued) settle, but from what I've heard so far, I have to agree with someone who said, this is NBZ laid back. Not the Phil Collins idea of laid back, but the Nine Below Zero way to do it.

And now, everyone with ten "Hail Marys".



Tuesday, December 3, 2019

The Sheapes - The Rhine Beat (z'Basel a mym Rhy) b/w Black Cat (7") - No. 221

The Sheapes - The Rhine Beat (z'Basel a mym Rhy) b/w Black Cat (7")

My first Sheapes 7" (I almost wrote, my first banana - but that'd be a GDR joke). Apparently three singles in the mid 60s and then radio silence. Another of these bands from the Northwestern part of Switzerland, read Basel and countryside. All 7"s by the Sheapes are very hard to find and if you hold one in your hands, expect it to be either battered to death or incomplete (by incomplete, I mean, no picture sleeve available).

Well, mine plays nice although there's some background noise, which disappears completely, once the music sets in. There are some gray stains on the vinyl surface, but I'm not sure where this is coming from. No amount of cleaning the 7" got rid of these spots. Actually, I believe this is a manufacturing error, as was the case with so many records pressed in Switzerland. Either the local (Swiss) record plants at the time were incompetent or just didn't care. My money is on both counts.

The A-side is a local ditty called "z'Basel a mym Rhy" which translates as "In Basel at my (River) Rhine", here it's called "The Rhine Beat", however. In my book, I can live to the end of my days, without hearing the traditional song one more time in my life. I'm just plain tired of this, especailly since you can't get away from it, carnival or otherwise. This is a rocking rendition of course, but really, totally redundant and, I guess, even back in the 60s nothing to write home about. The B-side is a track called "Black Cat" with credits given to P. Brugger. Whatever, but this song is not composed by P. Brugger. No way! This is a very well known track from back in the day, I just have a bottleneck in my brain and can't point out the original song (even though I should).

My copy has a generic company sleeve only and I read on the internet, that just about 50 copies were released with a picture sleeve and the rest came in a generic one (I'm picking my words carefully here, as it's not clear wether generic sleeve was actually a Columbia one or just any other old paperbag). One thing I learned only recently was the fact, that in the 60s, Columbia, Philips and other major players pressed records also on a client basis. That is to say, records bearing Columbia or Philips haven't actually been released by them, they just pressed the lot and got paid for it. So, bands like the Sheapes were never a Columbia signed artist (this is a privately released 7") and the Slaves were never attached to Philips. There's a ton of others.

I still retain a copy of this very single on my wants list, if only in the faint hope of getting a picture sleeve one day. As for the amount paid, it was more than a fair price, even considering the condition and the missing picture sleeve. Now, I'm going to check out the B-side once again, hoping to find the original track.



Monday, December 2, 2019

Dynamites- Too Late: The Complete Recordings - No. 220

Dynamites- Too Late: The Complete Recordings

I don't believe I'm jumping the gun here, in fact I held back until now, because there are at least two online shops having this one already listed (with a street date of December 5, 2019). The Dynamites! From Basel! From the 60s! I won't be saying, I never expected this to happen. I didn't! Not even thinking about it, the sheer possibility was exactly nil and I'm not into daydreaming.  I managed to get an almost complete run of their singles and that has to do. Not even wasting a half thought on a new release (as in old) and then, a while back, I was told that something was in the pipeline.

About two weeks ago, another message, stating that the release was due this week. Read on:

Well, friends and neighbours, this is a major, major benchmark in the history of Swiss Beat and Garage out of the 60s and of course something to write home about for everyone who's into that kind of music from, especially, the Basel area. Where does this leave you, you ask! You might reside in London, Chicago, Helsinki, Tokyo or Cairo, it doesn't matter, music is a universal language and even though the Dynamites have written local history only, they will conquer every record collector's shelf (and heart) with this release here.

Jesus Christ on a skateboard, the Dynamites!



P.S.: And talking to shop owners in the area, their excitement is as high as mine's.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

V/A - A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper - No. 219

V/A - A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper

I have very little Beatles in my collection. I can (and could) listen to their music without getting skin rash, but that was about the extend of my interest in the band. Mind you, to this day I appreciate what they did for Pop music in general, just not really my cup of tea. Back in the day, it wasn't a question for me wether Beatles or Rolling Stones. It wasn't "neither", it was more like "I don't care". I listened to both, whatever was on the radio at the time. Later, there was actually a slight shift towards the Stones. I've seen the latter a few times in concert and my RS collection is not exactly small, but a fan? Not that I would know.

What I do have in my collection are covers of Beatles songs by other artists and most of them of the weird variety. Fascinating stuff, at times funny, strange, brilliant, whatever, but always very worthwhile to listen to the "music" on offer. Yes, sometimes it was "music" (like the LP where they pretend to bark the Beatles songs dog-like, or Opera rendition of their songs, or Asian covers, you name it). And, of course, a few where Jazz takes over and the tracks are covered in this genre. Naturally enough, I did read about how Sgt. Pepper lends itself very much to the Jazz idiom.

Various artists are taking on the whole "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album and it's a bit of a serious undertaking. Not weird in the sense of funny, but weird in the sense of strange. Even that you have to put in perspective as it's mostly impossible to tell what song is actually playing (unless you look at the track list). But that is actually the Jazz DNA, the interpretation of certain works into the genre and make it their very own. Apart from original material, that is. I'm torn back and forth with this album. It's interesting and quite challenging, it's not just Jazz but a whole lot of ingredients thrown into the mix and most of the performers are not known, not to this Jazz fan anyway. The only one I do recognize is Mary Halvorson (I've got a few records with her as the leader or sometimes the sidewoman, in my collection). The others, I'm drawing a blank!

Would I recommend this album to a Beatles fan? No, certainly not! If you're a die-hard fan of their music, you probably don't want to hear Jazz renditions you don't even recognize as Beatles songs (most of the time anyway). Am I going to wax about this to a Jazz fan who's never heard about the ... what was the name again? Probably, because this is interesting enough to keep you in front of your loudspeakers for repeated listening sessions. A strange hybrid, but well worth investing your time in. Available as CD and LP.



Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Bill Evans Trio - Everybody Digs Bill Evans - Electric Recording Co - No. 218

Bill Evans Trio - Everybody Digs Bill Evans - Electric Recording Co

Just days after I posted the apparent upcoming release of Sonny Rollins' "Way Out West" on ERC on this blog, what should I find on their website today, a new release (talk about overtaken on the right side). This time it's going to be the Bill Evans Trio's "Everybody Digs Bill Evans". And it comes in a 150 copy release (in mono). Wether they will issue a stereo version as well, I don't know, but the number of copies for this mono release points somewhat to a further 150 copy release in stereo (they did this before, when there's a mono and a stereo version, they split their usual 300 copy run in half). Also the catalogue number says ERC050M and they don't do this (the M-bit = mono - the other would be S=stereo) if not a second version is in the pipeline

The cover you see here is from an earlier pressing, I believe AP. There's no visual item on the ERC website yet. Speaking of mono, even where the Electric Recording Co has released both, a mono and a stereo version, I stuck to the mono one. This wasn't entirely due to my doing, but I just couldn't get a hand on any stereo release. Nowadays, I stick to mono (if I can). The release date, you ask? January 10, 2020 and if you want to secure a copy, you better check out the ERC website now and get your order in, this won't last long, you can quote me on this.

I suppose Sonny Rollins' "Way Out West" will follow some time later (might even be a few months now). It was (and is) a bit strange, because the last Jazz release from ERC, Kenny Dorham's "Quiet Kenny" (mono and stereo versions) was sent out in 2018 and since then, nada, zero, niente.



Update December 3, 2019

Just read on the ERC website that this is sold out already. I did put my order in before I even wrote the above entry, so I hope I'm on the list. Your best bet now is that ERC will also release a 150 copy only stereo version.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Laura Cox - Burning Bright - No. 217

Laura Cox - Burning Bright

No more Laura Cox Band in name, it's Laura Cox now on her (not their) second release, as was to be expected. The guys in the band are interchangeable, if not in practice, then at least theoretically. Ms Cox (why does the name sound like a porn performer from way back when - or is it just me?) goes solo (uh, sorry about that). While the Laura Cox Band's debut was very much Blues-Rock coloured, this one here is actually with both feet in the hardrock genre.

I don't know what it is with all these bands starting out with a Bluesrock offering and turning the wheel around completely on their second offering. There's a few who pulled the same stunt. I'm not saying the music isn't worth it here, quite the opposite, but I have to admit, to my ears, this is a bit of a Hardrock wasteland. The class ideas for songs seem to have been lost somewhere in between the two releases. But if you want headbanging, this one's for you. And the fact that I did buy the CD as well as the LP tells you something else. I'm just refusing to sweet-talk anything here. I don't dismiss the whole package, that much I can safely say.

I've heard from a friend, after he listened to their debut, that Laura Cox can't sing for the life of her. I highly regard his opinion, but I beg to have a different one. At least with regards to the aforementiond debut. Here it is quite a different matter because Ms Cox' voice doesn't seem to be suited to Hardrock. She does sound a bit pressed and not completely at ease with the song material presented here. Actually, I became aware of the Laura Cox Band because they hail from France and although the country has a long tradition of music of almost all sorts, they seem to be a bit thin on the ground with regards to Rock, Blues and Rock'n'Roll. Yes, there are excellent artists in these genres through the decades, but really, the aforementioned genres are not a hot item there (or I've been looking the wrong way, which is also possible). The Laura Cox Band was a revelation.

But I'm being honest here, if not for "Hard Blues Shot", I wouldn't have bothered with "Burning Bright". Okay to listen to without stopping the turntable and putting on some Phil Collins (Jeez, I'm only joking - stop hyperventilating), but certainly not in 10 % country (as in 10 % of your best records). But there's another problem. The album is released on CD and LP, the latter especially welcome with me. BUT the vinyl is an insult to every customer buying this thing. In fact, the last item I bought, that was of equally bad quality, was the Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers" (new release) that was pressed at GZ. The latter was full of scuffs, dust, fingerprints and in general looked like something buried in the desert sand (without protection) for the last century.

And there you are, thinking it can't get any worse than that until ... yes, until you get Laura Cox' "Burning Bright" on LP.  The actual record itself is housed in an innersleeve made out of paperstock that's fit to be used for the manufacturing of sandpaper and the record looks the part. Totally trashed with large areas of the vinyl surface being damaged (and I'm not talking just about scuffs and/or hairlines). The thing looks like someone had indeed sandpapered it and even then didn't too good of a job. And getting a new copy isn't a solution either, because, I believe, considering the "quality" of the inner, each and every record looks the same (unless they've chosen to send the only substandard one to me).

I'm quite disappointed by this absolute disregard for the paying punter and would beg Laura Cox to refrain from issuing her output on vinyl, as she (or her management) doesn't/don't care the least bit about quality and it's only a matter of saving a couple of cents in the production of their items. I'l try to find out what pressing plant this is, but my money is on GZ again.



Saturday, November 23, 2019

Sonny Rollins - Way Out West - Electric Recording Co - No. 216

Sonny Rollins - Way Out West - Electric Recording Co

The last Jazz release by the Electric Recording Co has already been a while back and I started to wonder, wether they are back to release classical records only. But today I've found a piece, in fact, an interview with the owner and founder of ERC where he did mention, that they are working on Sonny Rollins' "Way Out West". Well, that's what I had been waiting for, another Jazz record from the Electric Recording Co and, of course, another milestone in the history of the genre.

Since ERC are using the master tapes from the original recordings, I assume they will mirror the first US release again:

This is a copy of the orginal issue and I'd be very much surprised if the new one didn't come with the Contemporary imprint. Now, saying that ERC is working on the release, doesn't mean it's anywhere near sales status yet. It might be that this one is just around the corner (as ERC is not known to announce catalogue decisions years in advance - unlike, say, AP or MoFi), but it might well carry over into the next year. This is one, where I'm on the edge again. And I need to get me another audiophile copy from a different source. You see, I'm in the habit to look for very decent earlier releases of the ERC records, just to listen to them in sequence, trying to compare what differences there are. Usually very little, but I imagine sometimes that there is a difference, if even on one track only and with a magnifying glass in hand. It's very much about haptics as well as sonics.

Normally I don't do that, as my short term memory doesn't work well with music. But I'm trying with those ERC offers. As a matter of fact, these news are the best I've had since ... not so long ago, I admit. Still, if it wasn't such a cliche, I'd say, I can't wait, but so, I'm not saying it.



Update, February 13, 2020

Release date will be March 6, 2020 and the item is already sold out on the ERC website. You should try your luck with one of the distributors though.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Bootlegs And Stuff - No. 215

Bootlegs And Stuff

I love bootlegs (but never counterfeits) for what they are, a snapshot from the past, but certainly not for the audiophile in all of us (just joking). My motto, buy it when you see something interesting, but never play the stuff. This is not in order to save the media, but to avoid being disappointed about the sound quality. Fact is, most bootleg LPs/CDs are sonically meant for the bin. You buy these things to add it to your collection and there they sit on your shelf, until dust gets the better of them. Although, truth be told, every now and then an excellent bootleg (audiowise) turns up and you wouldn't want to miss it. That's probably one out of onehundred.

I do remember times when the prosecutor's office raided record fairs (I was there and witnessed it myself) on the request of the Rolling Stones' management and confiscated everything that looked, felt and tasted like a bootleg. Not just Rolling Stones media, mind you, but everything with a "questionable" provenance. And it actually worked, in a way. Bootlegs were never seen at record fairs for the next four or five years, except that, when you asked a vendor for a certain release, you were told, to meet him in an hour or so in the parking lot, as he probably had something you wanted in the trunk of his car. Oh well, innocent times!

In the nineties (I think) the leash got longer and bootlegs started to reappear in record fairs (and in no small numbers, I might add). Give it a few more years, and record stores stocked up to a point where they were brimming with bootlegs. Nowadays, walking into a collector's record shop, you can easily walk out the door with a lot of "unofficial" releases, be it CD or LP. And I'm not talking about new releases only, but also about the classics from way back when, say TMQ and the likes. At a guess, I'd say, collectors who hoarded these items, are pushing up the daisies now and their heirs cashed in at a fraction of the actual value due to some record dealer telling the poor sods that one cent on the Euro was a generous offer indeed.

Again: I'm not talking about counterfeits, these make my hair stand up and in my book, noone has a right to counterfeit product, be it records, books, pharmaceuticals and any brands you might come to think of. Bootlegs, however, are a world of their own. This is what I've got during the last couple of months (a lot of other stuff I've left in the racks, because the condition didn't look to good):

Rolling Stones, Dragon Slayers, Live In Houston, June 6, 1972 - Hoffeinz Pavillon, 1st show

Rolling Stones, London Roundhouse, March 3, 1971

Rolling Stones, Something Old Something Blue (What Pleasant Company), Live At Candlestick Park, San Francisco, October 18, 1981

Rolling Stones, Empire Pool, Wembley. September 8, 1973 - 2nd show

And finally, Bad Company, Live In Japan

Can't say anything about the audio quality on these, but I don't expect much. In fact, I really doubt it, I'm ever going to spin these. Let's see, there are two record fairs in the near future. If I'm going to watch proceedings, I'm pretty sure, some more bootlegs will make the trip home with me.



Thursday, November 21, 2019

Milk And Alcohol / Cover Version German By Frank Zander - No. 214

Milk And Alcohol / Cover Version German By Frank Zander

What's the best known Dr. Feelgood song? Without a shadow of a doubt, this is "Milk And Alcohol". What's the most covered Dr. Feelgood song? Equally without a doubt, "Milk And Alcohol". Legions of bands have tried their hands on the track and quite a few have succeeded. Most of them have the lyrics in English and I'm just aware of a handful of artists transcribing the text into their own native language. Tohtori Lounamo is such a case, their "Milk And Alcohol" translates into "Kossua Ja Kaakaomaitoa", which is Finnish to you and me.

And there is the version Frank Zander put out in about 1980 called "Blut und Alkohol" (Blood And Alcohol). Now, Frank Zander is quite well known in Germany and the German speaking countries such as Switzerland and Austria and he must have sold a ton of records during his heyday as a recording artist. There was a time when you couldn't escape him on TV, be it as a singer or a presenter of a show. Mr. Zander always took the parody route and excelled in funny German lyrics (which is a feat in itself). Granted, he was a guest on TV shows like the ZDF Hitparade (second German TV charts), which was exclusively for Schlager until they opened up when the NDW (Neue Deutsche Welle) came along.

I did know that Frank Zander was still somewhere around but supposed that he was living the easy life somewhere in the countryside. And what should I be tripping over only recently, a new album (and not a rehashed "Best Of" or the like). Except ... there's "Blut und Alkohol" on this one. As mentioned above, the "original" was released in 1980 or thereabouts, so I have to assume that this is a new version. However, I'm not sure and have to locate my original 7" somewhere in the collection.

It's quite entertaining and if you have some knowledge of the teutonic language, even funny. I'm not going into further details about this CD, but if you're a Dr. Feelgood buff worth his/her salt, you want this one. I do admit, in general, it could be a bit tiresome at times, listening to Frank Zander because funny lyrics just tend to become stale. But even so, the music saves the day in most cases and his recordings carry through, even to this day.

And now, let's all sing "Blut und Alkohol".



Monday, November 11, 2019

Trio Elsie Bianchi (10") At The Atlantis Basel - No. 213

Trio Elsie Bianchi (10") At The Atlantis Basel

First, a few words about the Atlantis in Basel. This is a bar and music club dating back to the 50's and it was the place to go if you were young and interested in all sorts of music. As far as I know, the place started out with Jazz and Blues performances and even some folk music. During the sixties Beat was the name of the game (but never dropping Jazz) and in the seventies and eighties all sorts of Rock, New Wave and whatnot was played there. Live music, that's what I'm talking about.

There was a time when you could walk into the place and be sure that the stage was taken by some band. Every single day! A lot of those performers were local bands but you got international artists as well. And the latter were not in short supply either. Dr. Feelgood, The Blues Band, Eddie And The Hotrods, Louisiana Red, The Lords, Wilko Johnson and many others. These weren't exactly backbenchers, not stadium rockers, granted, but the cream of the crop nevertheless (if you're into this kind of music. Jazz became less and less of an option there, but the Blues and Rock flag was being held high. This was a place were you could meet your friends and talk all day until around 7pm when the guy came around and asked you wether you wanted to stay for the gig (and pay for the ticket) or leave the place in an hour or so. Normally you asked "who's on?" and if you've heard of the artist before, you probably decided you wanted to stay and listen. Especially since these type of gigs were not overly expensive.

Years ago (not sure, either the end of the eighties or sometime in the nineties), the place tried to reinvent itself out of necessity. I believe it was a combination of financial difficulties, mismanagement, high costs for live performances (the club had a capacity of maybe (I'm guessing) 300 people only (and even this might be at the high end) and changes in the public consumption habits. The Atlantis was sold and became a hipster place (with only a handful of gigs a month - and the kind that won't disturb anyone holding a flute) were CEOs and their wives/husbands/girlfriend/boyfriends sipped Champagne and talked bullshit (revenue, taxes, profit margins ...). Having been there and spent a lot of time in the place, you felt like a stranger (which you essentially were).

And, lo and behold, this didn't work and only recently they started to promote more gigs, some of them back to the roots and toning down the appearance of the hipster institution it had become. Too late and too little, the mismanagement after the sale had continued, albeit on another level, and I doubt (no, know) that the place will never approach something like its former grandeur. But then, times have changed and maybe it's for the better. Trivia: The logo of the Atlantis shows an alligator and around the end of the fifties and into the sixties, they did have a live one in one of their windows to the street (with a small pool of water ( maybe 20 cms deep and 2 meters to 70 cms). Of course, this wouldn't be allowed nowadays, as this certainly was animal cruelty, but back in the day, this wasn't even thought of.  The club even extended with an Atlantis West branch in New York(!). I believe the New York branch didn't last ten years.

And it so happened that the Atlantis did release some records of the artists having been recorded in a live session at their place. Other Atlantis recordings are available on the artist's own label and there are quite a few diamonds to be found. This one here, I found recently at a record fair:

A 10" of the Eslie Bianchi Trio (here named as Trio Elsie Bianch) an extremely rare piece recorded at the Atlantis in Basel. Elsie Bianchi is highly thought of today (I don't know about her status back then), but there's not a lot of music to be bought on LP/10"/7"/CD. In fact, this very 10" has been reissued only recently and won't break the bank if you decide to get yourself a copy. An original however will not be bought with chump change, in fact you'll probably have to swallow a couple of times, think about how you're going to live on water and dry bread for the next couple of months and then ... you'll decide to buy it (maybe only because you do have a sort of history with the Atlantis).

Strange enough, the 10" is not only sought after by locals, but seems to be on wantlists worldwide. I'm not really sure what it was meant for. You can find statements on the internet (yeah, well, yawn ...) that the total release was just anything between 50 to 200 copies (which I don't believe for a second) and was only intended for the club's promotion (which I don't believe either). Not one of those people claiming the aforementioned can come up with any hard facts. What I can believe however is, that Elsie Bianchi probably wasn't a star selling thousands of records. Not back in 1962 when this was recorded and released. Anyway, I've learned to disregard the sales drivel and look the other way.

The item is a solid VG+/VG+ and despite being not exactly my kind of Jazz (I'm in for the more modern stuff - Free Jazz and beyond), the scarcity of the record, the provenance of the recording and the artist and the fact that I've seen this item being talked about in every rag that had a far fetched interest in Jazz, prompted me to go to the next ATM and get me some cash. This is one of the cases, where ownership of an original makes very much sense (at least to me).

As mentioned above, the 10" reissue (which is also in my collection) is the cheaper option and there's a newly issued LP of the Trio Elsie Bianchi at the Atlantis. I believe these are the same tracks as on this 10" (I haven't gotten my copy of the LP yet). The original 10" might not be a piece of history to you, but it is to me and in cases like this, the question of money takes second place.


Roland (the Devon joke has run its course in the meantime)

Monday, October 28, 2019

THE Haul - No. 212

THE Haul

Right, I've been buying records for a long time now. I've made some excellent catches and spent a lot of money on pieces of plastic and a bit of paper and cardboard. Some I can remember to this day, others are lost in the mists of time. The former are the highlights and there are quite a few, especially when it comes to Dr. Feelgood, Wilko Johnson, Krautrock and Jazz. But what I experienced only recently beats every other instance of crate digging (even Utrecht pales by comparison).

A few years back, I started to buy and collect sixties Beat bands from Switzerland and with an eye on local groups, that is to say, outfits from the Basel area. At the time, this was a very closed market and success went as far as a gig in 25 kilometers distance from the band's practice cellar. There were very few bands who made a name for themselves in the whole of Switzerland (this is a feat in itself, considering the small place). Even to this day, folks from Geneva are looking for 60's bands from the French speaking area, folks living in the Northwest country are in for their own local heroes and collectors from Zurich will hear of nothing but their backyard outfits and so on.

Scarcity is the main problem in acquiring the appropriate discs, the other point is that most of these, I have to stress that, very rare records are hard to find, are usually in a deplorable state and third but not last, they go for insane amounts of money (even in bad condition). However, I walked into a local shop and came out with those monster records.

An original LP! There are a few re-releases (also in my collection), but this is the real deal. Actually, an original copy has been on my wantlist for at least 15 years (if not longer). I've seen a copy in Utrecht once that was offered for double the amount and was rather thrashed. I declined then (not because of the price, but because of the state of the record). I always hoped that one day I'd be able to get a decent copy and this is it. The record is a solid VG+ and the sleeve matches the vinyl. It does have a slight warp, but that doesn't bother me, as it's very minor and otherwise a top clean record. Funny thing, I never saw an offer for a totally flat record. All of these must have been to close to a heat source.

The Sevens changed their name from The Pirates, because a French outfit who called themselves Les Pirates threatened to take legal action (or they just jumped the gun - not too sure). This is the only LP from the Sevens (plus a few 7"s, of which I'm still looking for one or the other) and the music is just plain fantastic. Here you have a band with excellent (mostly original) songs and not a dud. Top sixties fare on the threshold between Beat and Pop.  Just a word of warning, don't buy the Akarma counterfeit version, this is a substandard one, copied from a VG record at best. And not licensed. Your best bet is the Feathered Apple release on either LP or CD (official).

About the price I paid for this? Considerably less than can be expected, yet still a very high amount. Let me have my secrets. Thanks.

The Countdowns on 45! And signed by the whole band on front of the cover. I'm still looking for at least one other 7".  This is Beat (or early Garage) and the band has been a staple of Northwest Switzerland's Rock history ever since. While the Sevens were the sophisticated bunch, the Countdowns were the rough ones. Besides a few CDs (two I believe) I own a few other singles.

The drummer, Hans-Peter (Bölle) Börlin died only recently. After he split from the Countdowns, he played with Ertlif, another band from Basel, who went the Prog way. Not the boring Yes stuff, but Prog with hooks and twists. Ertlif have re-released some of their output on Vinyl only last year or so and you're well advised to get the 2 LPs on the market. As far as I know, the Countdowns have never re-released any of their records (except the one CD were they had some of their old tracks, kind of now and then). The other CD is a live one, but does have it's share of problems. In any case, I think both are OOP. Check Discogs or whatever, if you're interested.

About the price? The secret is safe with me, but considering the scarcity, it was a deal.

And, friends and neighbours, another band straight out of the sixties and hailing from the Basel area, please welcome the Dynamites! This 45 is one of the handful this band released and, again, no LP that I know of. This 7" goes for insane amounts (if you can get a hold of it), yet their other output is a bit cheaper. To be clear, a bit cheaper, not cheap. The music is Beat again with maybe a fraction less Garage (although it's present).

I do slightly prefer the Dynamites over the Countdowns, but this is only a matter of my form of the day, so to speak. Actually, the Dynamites as well as The Countdowns and the Sevens can be found on quite a few 60's compilations (CDs and LPs). If you're not out to get their whole output, this might be the way to go, especially, since this is the much cheaper way. Your call, but just be aware that collecting the original records, it will set you back financially. And don't forget, there are other excellent Beat Bands from the sixties coming from here, I'm throwing in the name of the Sheapes, but you'll have to dig very deep.

I'm aware, that your interest might be non-existent for these type of bands and especially for the area they're coming from, but you'll miss some of the best music you've ever heard in your life.



Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Collecting Dr. Feelgood And Wilko Johnson - No. 211

Collecting Dr. Feelgood And Wilko Johnson

Being a diehard fan of Dr. Feelgood and Wilko Johnson, since before "Down By The Jetty" was released, thank you German "Sounds" for being on the edge with your reporting, searching for items not yet in my collection has become a chore. Make no mistake, I'm still missing a lot of items, mainly country variations of commercially released records. And, of course, testpressings, acetates and the like. But the days are truly gone, when I checked lists on a weekly schedule to find out, wether I could add something to my collection. In fact, I laid rather low, because I was, truth be told, bored with scouring the internet and waste hours on searches not very fruitful. And I don't have the feeling I missed out on good stuff.

Most of the missing pieces I added during the last 10 years or so, I caught upon on a hunch. Either checking one of the big internet dealers or just plain walking into a record shop or a record fair. No more lists for me. I know, I'm stilling missing one Dr. Feelgood release on 7", but I've forgotten which one. There's another in my wants list on Discogs, but that's it. I'm not saying no to good product and by good, I mean collectible. The problem is also, there's rather little available and if it is, the asking price goes through the roof. I'm a Dr. Feelgood/Wilko Johnson collector who's bought items on the off-chance that they might be fakes (you very seldom get a second chance - despite what the saying states).

I came across this B-side just recently, not looking for Dr. Feelgood items especially, but it was a nice surprise. Of course, no A-side and GB£ 50.00 for you, govn'r. If someone asks me, do you really need stuff like this, the only possible answer is a resounding YES! Even though I've sworn off checking lists, I still buy any interesting item that comes my way. There's not even a question wether I need this or not (YES again!), but I believe it's too late for me to stop collecting Dr. Feelgood and Wilko Johnson.

One thing I'm glad about, both are not exactly the Beatles and thus, spending cash is conceivable and will not break the bank. Even high class items can be had for a decent amount unless the Beatles where you might have to fork out in the 6 figures. Lucky me!



Saturday, May 11, 2019

Thrift Store Find - No. 210

Thrift Store Find

Every now and then I check local thrift stores (called Brockenhaus around here) to see, what their latest in LPs/7"s and the like is. Most of the times, I leave empty handed, but over the years, there were a few surprises in store for me (so to speak). Normally the LPs go for around CHF 1.00 (ca. EUR 0.80) per item with some thrift stores even selling you five for four, that is, you select five and buy only four. Or you get a discount from the word go.

A few thrift stores have begun to price the better stuff, albeit on a low level. Which is mostly a joke, because they don't factor condition into their pricing and seem to think every Bob Dylan record is worth a lot of cash. Hello, it's not, and especially not considering that the sleeve is falling apart and there are more scratches on the record than a drunken hedgehog would leave behind, checking out a local record store.

The last major surprise was the above shown LP (German release from 1964 or 1965) in a very desirable condition. The record itself is in a nice VG+, bordering on M- condition and the sleeve is VG. This is flimsy paperstock and there's a 2 cms split in the fold at the lower right hand corner plus, as you can see, some damage on the right hand side from handling the item.

Although not a M/M item, this would be a record that would sit very well in anyone's collection. The thing actually was, when I took the record out of the sleeve (in the shop), there was a hazy mist on the run-out area. For a split second, I thought that this was due to an akward PVC-sleeve used as an inner (and you can't remove those prints - folks, never ever use PVC sleeves - no inners - no outers - if you value your records - PE is fine). 2 seconds later, I did realize, that it wasn't a case of PVC gone wild, but should easily be removable (which was quite the truth when I cleaned it at home). Fantastic item and all for CHF 8.00 (EUR 7.00), which is quite below the true market value.

Since I have a lot of time on my hands these days, I tend to frequent thrift stores more often now and it's really hard to believe what one can find. I got my hands on four or five 1950's Blue Note Deep Groove 10"s within the last couple of months. And all of them in at least VG+ condition. Of course, I've seen my share of James Lasts in the racks, but as long as I'm rewarded with something like the above, all is good. No complaints from me.



A Strange Behaviour - No. 209

A Strange Behaviour

Sometime towards the end of 2018/beginning of 2019, I realized, I didn't listen to music as often as I used to. Very little LPs, CDs or even live gigs. Every now and then, the stereo on the desk was blaring out some oldie station. Every now and then really means, every three or four days for 15 minutes. And up to the beginning of 2019, LPs were piling up and still standing were I put them when I brought them home. Meaning, there are around 500 brandnew albums waiting to be heard at least once.

Oh well, there's very little in the way of CDs, as I almost stopped buying these. For quite some time, I used to buy vinyl only and if that meant, waiting for months on end. Just in case I was pretty sure (and sometimes wrong) an album wouldn't turn up on LP, I'd spent my hard earned cash on the small discs. It's come so far, that I actually decided, not to go to this year's record fair in Utrecht. I've been there, saw that, did it, the whole lot. Funny thing, I've not been to a record store (any record store) within the last 4 months. How about that? And the worst thing, I don't miss it a bit. Nada, zero, niente!

What I did, however, was trying to weed out some of my collection, because the CDs and LPs crept ever closer. All together, about 600 LPs and 400 CDs went to a landfill (if there's still such a thing, which I doubt), meaning, they're gone for good, if not landfill than at least for long distance heating. The better stuff I'm flogging on Discogs and one day I'll have my collection reduced to 2000 LPs and 1000 CDs. And then I can walk through the flat without almost tripping over my stuff.  I'm dreaming but I'm also trying.

Recently I was sorting through a bunch of CDs I had bought about a year ago. It was supposed to be all Metal and stuff, forget it. About half of the more than 300 CDs, went to the bin. Jesus Christ, it's not so hard to pinpoint the genre, is it? The condition of the items was generally beautiful though, everything in M- or M condition. About 100 CDs have been marked for sale on Discogs and what you see above is the rest. Too good to be thrown away, not valuable enough to put up for sale. Now I'm trying to seperate the chaff from the rest. And then it's goodbye for some more discs.

Well, it's Kiss time now and I guess they're here to stay. Not really my band, but I had a discussion a while ago and the other guy mentioned, that, to his big regret, he missed out on Kiss. And I thought, bloody hell, I wish I had been to one of their gigs as well. But, if I go through the stack at the current rate, I'm not finishing this by the end of the year. Let me see, where this leads me to. And for Utrecht November 2019, I believe, the desire to make the trip again, might bounce back.



Monday, April 29, 2019

How Up - Every Time I Roll The Dice - No. 208

How Up - Every Time I Roll The Dice

A local band. Very local. About around the corner. One I didn't know existed, for they seem to have thrown in the towel and believe me, it's for the better of us all. The only reason I bought this CD in the first place was, it was a local band (might have said that already!), the other reason, it cost me less than the equivalent of one Euro and, so much for the "only" reason", there's a song called "Down At The Doctors" on offer here.

I'm a staunch supporter of the local scene. Local in the sense that every Swiss band gets a fighting chance, never mind which part of the country they hail from. Sometimes it's amazing what kind of bands exist, or have existed, flying under the radar. There's great stuff to be found and, I'm afraid to say so, even more the redundant and unnecessary ones. Just to get this out of the way, How Up belong to the latter, but let's see.

When a band churns out covers only media (o.k., minus one song, "snore"), I expect at least an original take on the song material. And How Up are indeed original, can I quote Greg Koch with one of his excellent songs "I'm Bored To Tears". This sums it up. All said and done. I just don't understand it when bands play covers in the most polished way, resulting in all life exorcised from the material. "Proud Mary" anyone? Jesus Christ, CCR (and legends of other artists) don't deserve this and even the excuse on record is lame. Most tracks on this CD are not my daily bread anyway, very well known, but if I can circumvent this, o.k. with me. Classic radio will do.

Sometimes I think, the band is trying to bite more off the cake than it's healthy for them, almost choking in the process. "Another Brick In The Wall"? Give me a break, not a very good song to start with (in my book at least), but an amateur band trying to ape the big stage? Thank you, but no, thank you. Or "Come Together"? Believe me, you don't want to hear this Throughout the CD, How Up sound like Eric Clapton on sleeping pills, say "August" era or thereabouts.

But what about "Down At The Doctors" I hear you ask. Mickey Jupp, be glad you haven't heard this, you'd sue How Up to their grave. The song is dead flat in the water. I mean, you must be trying very hard to flog all life out of a song and How Up, you definitely succeeded. I'll keep the CD as a curio and an example of how not to do it. Having said that, it's even more interesting to listen to the band, because they don't sound like amateurs without a clue. Their playing seems competent enough and for this alone they get top rating. Nothing to do with what they cooked up in the end.

And the singer, sorry, but this an absolute no-go. Roger Mottaz sounds like a cheap version of Toni Vescoli (and I can't stand the latter post 1970). This overdone zurichoise pronounciation of English lyrics (with a boyscout guitar in hand, sitting around the campfire at night) is many a Swiss band's downfall. I might be a bit harsh here, but definitely, life is to short for this kind of "entertainment".



Thursday, April 18, 2019

Sunsets/Mindbenders/Lords - 7" Split Release (Iran) - No. 207

Sunsets/Mindbenders/Lords - 7" Split Release (Iran)

Sometimes you'll come across something, you haven't even been looking for. This item is exactly such a WTF moment. But I digress before I've even started. Let's try this again and from the beginning:

German Beat scene anyone? Well, not really, except a boy in Switzerland who got an old-fashioned radio as a gift sometimes in the mid 60s and who listened at night to all these far away radio stations on AM with their strange kind of music. Not that I understood a word, but the rhythms were more than enough to keep me searching for ever more stations. And at night (quite a bit of a wordplay, btw), trying to get Radio Luxemburg and even some solid senders (another wordplay, btw) from as far away as England. Locally there was only a state-run radio with about 30 minutes of Beat music (per week, that is).

Must have been around 1964/1965 when I heard of a band out of Germany (call that exotic) who were kind of top of their league and in a constant battle with another outfit (the latter were called The Rattles). They were an o.k. Beat band, but The Lords was where the real meat lay. In a way comparable to the Beatles vs. Rolling Stones question, you really couldn't like both bands, it was one or the other. And in hindsight, they had one over the Rattles, The Lords had released a cover of "Shakin' All Over" rather early in their career (and later followed this up with an LP called "Shakin' All Over 70").

Times did change and back in the 60's, you were a hipster (the expression didn't exist then - at least not around here) flying the flag for The Lords (or The Rattles). In the 70s, you had to watch out and not show your cards saying The Lords. The Rattles was still ok,, but the former turned into a joke among the "cognoscenti", but I'm proud to say, I never wavered and held the fort against all attacks. No underhand joke nor mean drivel could change my stand. Most of it had to do with Lord Ulli's (the singer) command of the English language. Granted, some of it does sound strange and funny, but hey, it was the sixties and minor matters such as proficiency in a foreign language was not on anyone's top of the list.

In the 60's and at the beginning of the 70's, the band had a rather high profile in Germany which lessened over time and led to the break-up of the band soon after. Lord Ulli started anew with another band called New Lords, but this venture sank without almost any trace (one LP and two 7"s only). At the same time, Lord Ulli kept himself afloat with a number of German schlager releases (they have some cult status nowadays), but really, best to cover this up. Unless you are me.

And voilà. after the New Lords were no more, out of the ashes rose The Lords again and kept busy to this day (although they're on their last ever tour now). About 20 years ago, Lord Ulli fell from a stage during a gig, broke his skull and died quite soon afterwards. The band carried on, but was mostly rehashing their old songs. Whenever a new CD was announced, you could bet your whole savings, that it'd be another "Best Of" or similarily named. Some of their releases bordered on cheekiness, because they had the nerve to release a CD with a title that represented the only new song and the rest was the same old rehash again.

Their last two CDs presented a change of direction, although not for the better. Once again a "new" collection of old songs done in a Rock/Hardrock way, but it wasn't The Lords, not by a long shot. The Lords never did Hardrock, they were Beat and Pop, period. It was clear (at least to me), that the ship had lost its course and was steering in to troubled waters. But then, the band is now on the road (and in the studio) for nearly 60 years (in ever changing line-ups) and claiming to be the oldest working band in the world (and conveniently forgetting, that they all had a rather long break in the 70s and I really don't know wether "oldest" band is worth bragging about, but that's me). And noone would have thought that there ever was going to be another studio album with new songs. Think again, to everyone's surprise, they did release exactly the one I'm talking about. It wasn't for me though, Rock/Hardrock again (and although I do listen to the genre, I don't need it from The Lords) and so, in the end, I jumped ship and haven't bought the last two releases.

That's not to say I'm not still interested in their history and music and that's where I'm slowly coming to the end of this piece. Even now, I'm still looking for the odd 7" or even one LP (cover variant) that's not yet in my collection. And sometimes surprises hit hard.

Recently, i came across the one you see in the pictures here. 7" EP from Iran. Iran? Yes, I-R-A-N! I had no idea this even existed. Must have been before the revolution and a major surprise to me. It's actually a split 7" with cheesecake cover and not in the best of all conditions (however, I really doubt you'll find a better copy), but I can easily wait for a couple of decades before another one turns up. As a The Lords follower for nearly five decades, this must be quite the highlight in my collection with regards to this band. Forget the other stuff (which I'm still looking for), this is the real deal.



P.S.: "And At Night" was one of their big hits (see above).

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

V/A - Souvenirs Of Rare French Opera - No. 206

V/A - Souvenirs Of Rare French Opera 

I'm far from being an expert in classical music, but I do like some Opera. Way back, when I was very much younger, I had a boss at work, who was a complete Opera buff and almost all he ever talked about was Verdi and Co. Somehow that stuck with me and decades later, I'm still buying the odd Opera LP/CD and listen to it at home. Not that I understand it or have an inkling as to what the genre really is, it's just the sound that I enjoy.

This here I picked up in a thrift shop for the grand total of CHF 1.00 (that's under 1 Euro). What caught my eye was the fact, that all recordings stem from the very beginning of the 20th century and are certainly not Hi-Fi or audiophile. It's as expected, I have to turn up the volume quite considerably to get a good level and have to watch out to turn it down after listening to this CD, unless I want to kill my speakers with the next CD I slide into the player.

Sounds exactly like a beginning of last century recording. No doubt about it. Great stuff if you're in the mood for this. And although I do prefer Vinyl over Digital, one thing does speak for the CD. About 75 minutes and I don't have to turn a record over. And let's be honest, recordings made more than a hundred years ago, they don't need to be high-end. No Shellac for me, but this'll do quite nicely.

Wether these are great performances in the history of the genre, no idea either. In any case, I don't recognize a single name on the inlay. This is not my only musical corpse in the cellar, but more later. Now back to some other stuff, V/A "We Wish You A Metal Xmas And A Headbanging New Year", although it might be the wrong time of the year.



Monday, March 18, 2019

Exkrement Beton - Schön, stur, arrogant - No. 205

Exkrement Beton - Schön, stur, arrogant

Back in the day, I was about the only one in our clique to give Punk a chance and my love for this genre has never waned. Of course, U.K. Punk bands were the first and in a way still the most important to me. I can still remember Swiss TV trying to film a feature story about the new Punk movement and what did they get, smashed cameras and one or two fisticuffs. It was a national joke among the cognoscenti and when I think about it to this day, it's still kind of funny. But the Swiss Punk scene was no sleeper either, a few years later, yes, but there were excellent bands and they made their mark.

Germany and Finland are some other noteworthy flags on the Punk map. Especially the German scene is something to lend an ear to. The density of class A Punk bands is just amazing and they have a living culture (music, fanzines and specialized record stores). It's about 50/50 English/German vocals, but the ones with vocals in their native language have a tough stand, because they're readily pushed into the rightwing corner, even though they might be leftwing as they come. In Germany, singing in German evokes memories of Schlager and Saturday evening TV-shows and believe me, this is not a good thing.

However, with an open mind, you can find excellent bands in whatever language. Before the week is over with this longwinded introduction, let me just say, I'm trying to streamline my collection (LPs and CDs) and by streamlining I mean, either selling part of it off or plain throwing items out. This is mainly stuff I have no idea why I got it in the first place, I'm not interested in anymore, some items I bought in thrift stores and so on.

Recently I came across a CD in a pile by a band called Exkrement Beton (Album: Schön, stur, arrogant), which has been in my collection for a long time, but I certainly hadn't listened to it yet. No idea where I got this from, no idea what it was (I did suspect Punk) and I was about to throw it in the bin. Booklet and inlay torn up and then ... put the CD into the player and had a listen. What can I say, Punk from Germany the kind of I pay money for. O.k., now there's a CD without any booklet or inlay, good enough to play on my desktop stereo in my "office". And, friends and neighbours, the thing has been on heavy rotation ever since.

So much so, that I'm actually thinking to get myself their other releases as well. Actually, lyrics on the side, this is more Hardrock than Punk. A bit like a more melodic Motörhead (if you pardon me). O.k.. maybe not quite. And the kicker? I had to buy this album new again, this time on vinyl. I mean, I can try and throw everything out the window and turn on my heels and go shopping for the same stuff. Anyway lesson learned.



Thursday, February 28, 2019

Electric Recording Co. - Jazz (Re-releases) - No. 204

Electric Recording Co. - Jazz (Re-releases)

A while back, I read in a forum about this label with their super expensive records and I did check them out. I'm not a classical music fan (I can listen to some of it, but that's about the extent of it), and that was, as I remember, all they had on offer. I knew from other sources, that their product was supposed to be amazingly good, a lot of detail and care going into the production of these re-releases. All valve (and of course all analogue), sleeve redone (not a scan of an old issue), going as far as tracking down the original photograps and relettering the text as per the original specifications.

There's some informational video on their website. What you get is a top product, that comes at a price. No discussion or trying to downplay this fact. Haptically, this is simply an amazing product, record (no scuffs as with other "audiophile" labels), proper innersleeve, thick cardboard sleeve, OBI style wrap-around, ERC embossed protective sleeve and a certificate.

And then, they started with Jazz records. I listen to Jazz from Be-Bop upwards, but my main genre in Jazz is certainly Free Jazz, Avantgarde, Noise, Industrial and Experimental, but Be-Bop is never far away. Although I have to admit, I'm not listening to any Jazz pre-Be-Bop. Maybe Bop on a good day, the rest is not for me. I wasn't sure wether to buy one record, just for the heck of it, because they are asking serious money. In the end I put the cash down and bought their latest release at the time, Jackie McLean's "Lights Out!" and despite the cash that went out the window, I was (and still am) extremely satisfied with what I got.

What I had to do then, I bought myself another "audiophile" release by another label, to compare both LPs side by side. I'm not too good at it, but I wanted to give it a try and have done ever since. One of the reviews I read, warned the reader, not to expect a sunrise, but rather the best possible performance you can have on vinyl. I can confirm this, you have to realise, that there is no mastering done, no remixing, no nothing of the fancy stuff you get these days. It's a beautifully crafted item, that's it! Needless to say, so I say it anyway, no background noise to speak of (with vinyl you always have a certain low level), and absolutely no crackling or pops. I don't expect the record to hold up the quality forever, because the, frankly, medieval manufacturing process and the needle of a cartridge ploughing through the groove, don't really help to preserve an LP (unless you're forking out for one of these Japan turntables that work via laser, but it'll be digital in the end - and peace for your mind, because your record will survive it without detoriation - if you can afford to cough up this kind of money - we're talking about a very expensive record player).

My set-up is good, but there's nothing "audiophile" about it, nor is it "high end" per se. But for whatever it is, I can still enjoy those ERC records. Some time back, in fact because of the ERC releases, I bought myself a dedicated Mono MC and since I don't have two decks, I always need to change the cartridges. One other drawback, my amp doesn't do Mono, it's Stereo only. Apparently, there's a world of difference, listening to Mono on a Stereo System (amp and loudspeakers). But truth be told, I don't have that many Mono records to shell out for a complete second set-up gear-wise.

Up to now, my second choice, to compare these records with, had always been AP. The latest however, Bill Evans "Sunday At The Village Vanguard", is a bit of a problem. AP apparently had released this LP as well, but it seems hard to come by. My solution now, I have a MFSL One-Step copy that'll have to do.

There are, in the above example of Jackie McLeans "Lights Out!", some subtle differences between ERC and AP. There's at least one track on the latter release, that has a more pronounced noise level (must have been the tape) and I got the feeling, that Bass and Drums are somewhat clearer on the former. Actually, the problem here is, that one is trying to find a difference, there must be one, you paid of lot more for one LP than for the other. This is the same everywhere, human nature. And yet, we all know, more expensive doesn't always equal better.

At the time of writing this, I've bought all of ERC's Jazz releases, with the exception of Tommy Flanagan's Trio "Overseas". Somehow I was a bit late and some of their offers sell out quite fast. The main market must be in the Far East, because the brochure that came with one of the LPs is written in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English. Says a lot in fact.Just a word of caution, don't buy these if you're planning on reselling on the secondary market. I might be wrong, but I don't see any chance for a price hike. If anything, you're likely to sell below your cost price. Buy these items and enjoy them.



P.S: Recently, ERC started to issue Mono and Stereo releases of their Jazz output, cutting it down to 150 copies of each. Standard (Mono or Stereo only) releases are numbered to 300. Talk about limited.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Siegel-Schwall Band - Same - No. 203

The Siegel-Schwall Band - Same

I bought my copy of the Siegel-Schwall Band's "Same" around mid to end 70s. It was (and still is) one of these lightweight records that come in way below 100 grams. In fact, the thing is so paper thin, that it almost folds itself when you hold it on one edge and let gravity do the rest. But, the pressing is of excellent quality and still plays amazingly clean. If those nerds come hopping along and brag about their 180 grams records (and conveniently forget to mention that theirs crackle, have non-fills and represent fruitbowls), I know what I have and prove the world wrong, jumping on a marketing train that does nothing for sonic quality.

I didn't know this back then, but I realised, that the pressing was something special, not just because of the little weight, but also because of the clarity in sound. I became a huge fan ot the Siegel-Schwall band, although at the time, I couldn't tell you what blues was supposed to be and strangely enough, when I heard it, there was no way I could say what it was. Blues it was and from the start, this record stayed with me. Years later, this album ist still in my top ... whatever. One killer track after the other.

It's not only the music, there's a great cover painting as well. And the shots (portraits of the members of the band) on the back of the cover are something to appreciate. Each track is a classic and I don't vote one above the other ... except "Hush Hush" which gives me goose bumps every time I hear it. The track lives on harp and it's so intense, yet a slow exhibition piece of a master playing the instrument. It's not highspeed harmonica. The rhythm is kind of hypnotizing and at 10:45, you've got all the time in the world to get carried away. The band could easily have drawn this out to half an hour. Hey, but wait, this is not all you get, around minute seven, there's a halting, laid back bass solo, the like you've never heard in your life.

Easy, spaced and not a lot of notes played, but Jesus Christ, what a performance. I know every note and can master it by now on my airbass. The clapping of the audience between the notes does something else entirely before Rollow speeds it up again and the band comes in at full force. A dream! This is one of the tracks I could have on repeat playing all week long.

In fact, no, I'd play the whole album in a loop, don't forget there's "(Wish I Was On A) Country Road", "Leavin'" and "Corinna" as well plus other tracks. When I'm sitting at my desk, writing text, the CD has to do. In my living room, the glorious LP goes into action. The latter is the way I got to know this island album. I'm a bit short on breath now, just by listening to Corky. I'm sure you all know the album, just wanted to go public with what I think about one of the greatest albums ever released.



Sunday, February 24, 2019

Remu & Hurriganes - Last Call / Live In Helsinki - No. 202

Remu & Hurriganes -Last Call / Live In Helsinki

Remu & Hurriganes in 2019? Well, the gig is actually from 2018 and it's Remu (and Remu), plus a few of his friends and brothers in arms in the service of Rock/Rock'n'Roll/Rhythm'n'Blues and whatnot. The Hurriganes are legend in Finland and a few years ago, Finnish parliament passed legislation, requiring every household in the country to own at least five LPs/CDs of said band. Everyone already had ten copies, so that was a shot in the oven.

Seriously, in Finland you are expected to know their works and if not, better be prepared to be shipped off on the next available airplane leaving the country. Generations of Finns have lived with the sound of the Hurriganes, from birth to death and everything in between. Just don't you dare call them average, because they are not. Bloody great band in my book and their music triggers a lot of buttons. My personal favourite is surely "Hanger", not least because of the melodic diversity on this album.

I haven't counted all releases, but I can't be far off with an estimate of around twenty albums (studio and live, except "Best Of's" - of the latter, there is a seemingly endless supply of cheap cash-in stuff, go for the originals). I believe Remu (only member flying the Hurriganes flag throughout their entire career and beyond, and their drummer and sometime singer) wasn't the only one standing for the band, but there are tragic stories buried in the past.

The Hurriganes have ceased to exist a long time ago already and Remu has had a low profile career carved out of the band in later years. Still a big name in Finland, but I believe his stage appearances were few and far between. No wonder, the guy is now, what, 70 or thereabouts? So, that's supposed to be then end then!?

The LP does have this kind of innersleeve that actually damages your records (offgassing and leaving marks), I don't know how this can still happen when every average record collector these days knows better. My advice, remove the inners at once and replace it with decent sleeves (even though the damage is already done). Just wanted to throw this in, before I forget the point. About the sound quality: I heard better, mainly this has a bit of a dull sound (and I have Infinity RSM speakers which overemphasize highs) and more crackling than is good for a brandnew, factory sealed record. The album is also available as a CD with a bonus DVD (not included in the vinyl version).

BUT the album rocks and rolls and is a joy to listen to despite the shortcomings. What you get are tracks that are ingrained in Remu's DNA (what else?) and the band sounds tight, which is remarkable enough for a one-night stand. And one or two of my favourites are on the LP as well, "Honey I'm Leaving", "Tallahassee Lassie", "I Will Stay" (what is it now, "Should I Stay Or Should I Go", please make up your mind) and many more. I did watch some videos on YT and was surprised to see Michael Monroe playing sax. News to me. But then, Hanoi Rocks is not my go-to Rockband (but I might have something by them). Not knowing anything about the state of Remu's health, he looked quite frail in these videos, but he seems to have made a stand with whatever strength he has and the performance wasn't for sissies.

This "Last Call" is a goodbye in style from a legend (I know, I said it before) and I wish Remu all the best. My only gripe is, I didn't know the music of the Hurriganes during their heydays, but better late than never. Remu & Hurriganes rock.



P.S.: The innersleeves do look like overstock from the 60s/70s (yellowish and already used). I'm talking about a factory sealed LP!!!