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)