How to you store your lp’s and other formats? asks Mick Bean

Mick Bean… So did you store your LPs? In “A B C” order, number them, genres, favourites to the left/right or like me a bloody great pile in the corner?

Alan Esdaile… LP’s in A-Z order but so many singles had them in label order.

Judy Atkinson… LPs alphabetical by band, but the compilation ones in a pile on top – and they’re still in the cupboard under the turntable

Matt Thomas… I have OCD so I’ll leave that for you to decide

David Wilkinson… Ask Chris Gentry – I have 400 Motown vinyl albums and 600 other albums. 2 sections, both arranged in alphabetical order. Otherwise I’d never find anything, However CDs are just a mess located all over the house !!! ha ha ha

Mark Randall… Are you saying this young bit of totty suffered with haemorrhoids ?

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Johnny Nash Stir It Up: The Anthology 1965-1979

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STIR IT UP – THE ANTHOLOGY 1965-1979 Johnny Nash

This is a welcome release, the first decent anthology of the excellent Johnny Nash, 2CD’s 46 tracks in pristine remastered sound. Annoyingly these days if you hear any JN on the radio its 9 out of 10 times going to be ‘I Can See Clearly Now’, I’m sure all the programme controllers are all about 15! Anyway, Houston born Johnnys career goes back to the late 50’s, but as the title of this compilation says we kick off here in 1965 with the opening track ‘Lets Move And Groove Together, a deep soul outing that would sit perfectly on an Otis Redding album showcasing Johnnys soulful vocal prowess. However after visiting Jamaica it was his fusing of soul and reggae that was to bring him to international recognition. 1968’s ‘You Got Soul’ is a personal favourite and a perfect example. As I said earlier radio sticks with ICSCN, but remember ‘Hold Me Tight’ ‘Cupid’ (best cover of a Sam Cooke song), ‘Stir It Up’, ‘There Are More Questions Than Answers’, ‘Tears On My Pillow’ ‘Dream Lover’? all great single hits. Lets not forget that ‘Stir It Up’ these days probably linked indelibly with Bob Marley was first recorded by Johnny and it was Johnny who took the struggling songwriter to London and the rest was history for Bob. Johnnys own songwriting, producing, arranging, playing talents are far ranging, read the excellent sleevenotes that accompany this set quite incredible. As well as the hits already mentioned there are great covers to enjoy ‘Groovin’ (originally Young Rascals) is a stellar example. There are also tracks released for the first time from two later 70’s albums ‘What A Wonderful World’ and ‘Lets Go Dancing’.
Although these days no longer active musically since basically ‘retiring’ in 1988 Johhny is still successful in other activities. I saw him perform live back in the 70’s along with the late Desmond Dekker and I’m so glad I did. His legacy of recorded music and his contribution to the global awareness(along with DD I might add) of Jamaican reggae cannot be overstated. On a sunny day like today as I write these words Johnny just adds to that sunshine. To sum up a great, and in my opinion, essential compilation to grace your collection.

For more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.ukcolin-head-111x150-111x150-1

Happy Easter to all, til next time…..

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell. Reviewing The Honeycombs, The Three Degrees and The Isley Brothers cd’s.

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304 HOLLOWAY ROAD REVISITED The Honeycombs

For those of you of a certain age like myself the album title will be immediately familiar. It is of course the address in North London of the legendary RGM studios home of maverick genius producer Joe Meek. If you haven’t seen ‘Telstar’ the excellent film of his life you really must. The Honeycombs gave Joe his third (and last) No.1 with the thumping ‘Have I The Right’ back in 1964. Founder of the band Martin Murray intended this new album to be released in 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that achievement, the deadline overran due to this and that but is now here. Martin wanted to utilise the technology now available to re-imagine, rework and re-arrange The Honeycombs songs and keep to the spirit of Holloway Road. The majority of the songs were written by the emerging team of Ken Howard and Alan Blakley who were to have major success and endless hits with notably DD.D.B.M & T, The Herd and even Elvis. Indeed ‘Its so hard’ recorded by DDBMT appears on this album. So do these reworkings work? Yes in the main they do and I get Martins desire to put a new take on things. HITR becomes a slower tempo orchestral country tinged affair as opposed to the Dave Clark style stomper it was back in the day. Opening tracks ‘Leslie Anne’ and ‘Mary Jo’ both uptempo numbers sound fresh and ‘retro’ at the same time and there is no doubting the musical ability on display. Totem Pole 9 (theme from Howards Way) yes. you read that right! manages to come away sounding like a homage to the Tornados ‘Telstar’ Deliberate? don’t know but brought a smile to my face. I have to say the track that didn’t work for me was ‘That’s The Way’ The Honeycombs second hit, here given a reggae style makeover, reminding me of Blondie’s ‘Island of Lost Souls’ (I didn’t care for that either!). But overall as aforementioned Martin has made a refreshing, enjoyable and engaging album.

For more information go to http://www.angelair.co.uk

STRATEGY (OUR TRIBUTE TO PHILADELPHIA) The Three Degrees

I have to confess straightaway that back in the 1970’s when the girls were huge with songs like ‘When Will I See You Again’ ‘Year of Decision’ ‘Take Good Care of Yourself’ et al I was to put it nicely… underwhelmed..ive always strived to be honest in 45 years of reviewing. To me those hits were too cabaret, over produced and to my ears dare I say soulless. So having said that I approached this new release with some trepidation. Celebrating 50 years in the business original members Helen Scott and Valerie Hobday along with (relative) newcomer Freddie Pool (she joined in 2011) have released this first new studio album in 25 years. Whether its the injection of Freddie, the superb choice of material, all covers/tributes to the O’Jays, McFadden and Whitehead, Billy Paul, The Trammps, Harold Melvin etc this is a whole different ballgame. This is SOUL, all those negatives I had are swept away. This is Proper with a capital P, the arrangements are stunning, I particularly single out ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ (always a personal favourite song), but there is not one track that doesn’t now ooze with real emotion and a real groove. This is an all new Three Degrees for me. Maybe they now have more freedom to record the way they want to, whatever, the end result is light years on. They may be covering old songs but this album is as relevant as any contemporary soul artist. Listen to the very ‘now’ lyrics in ‘Love Train’. I wasn’t aware until reading the press release that they are in the Guiness World Records as the longest running female vocal group in history. On this showing they’ve earned that status. Superb. And in closing I dedicate this review to SMART member and old friend Andre who worked a lot with the girls back in the day at Kings and probably wholeheartedly disagrees with my opening comments!….

MASTERPIECE/SMOOTH SAILIN (2CD SET) The Isley Brothers

I guess you could see this release as the third coming of the Isleys. The first being the Tamla glory days of Twist and Shout, This Old Heart of Mine, and my favourite Behind A Painted Smile and many more in the 60’s. Then moving into the 70’s with a revamped sound that brought forth hits like That Lady and Summer Breeze. This 2CD set released for the first time and recorded for Warners in 1985 and 1987 features the original three man line up of Ronald, O’Kelly and Rudolph Isley. In relation to the previous 2 decades this is the Isleys in a new direction using other songwriters as opposed to their own material. Covering Phil Collins ‘If Leaving Me Is Easy’ for example and making it a 7 minute exquisite soulful blissed out track. Indeed Masterpiece relies on lush ballads as befitted US R’n’b radio stations at that point in time. Out goes raw and in comes silky and that ubiquitous use of synthesizers and the (for real drummers) the prolific use of sodding drum machines..ahem, anyway despite the fact this has 80’s production stamped all over it you cant drown the sheer quality of vocals of the brothers, lets be clear they could sing the phone book and it would still encapsulate soul. Masterpiece isn’t for dancing (well only upclose and personal!) But to chill to it is right up there. Try ‘Come To Me’ as a prime example. Perfect to relax to and bathe in the warmth of a timeless band. Smooth Sailin, despite its title is a bit more of an upbeat affair Ron Isleys distinctive vocal is more to the fore on tracks like ‘Everything is Alright’ and the funk element is more prominent, as are the synth/drum…Smooth Sailin Tonight and ‘Come My Way’ standout, however I think of the two CD’s in this package Masterpiece just edges it for me. You, quite rightly, will make up your own minds.

For more information go to http://www.cherryred.co.ukcolin-head

Til next time, keep warm, Colin

 

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell. Reviewing Peter Sarstedt England’s Lane CD.

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ENGLAND’S LANE Peter Sarstedt

Say Peter’s name and inevitably most peoples thoughts go immediately to ‘Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)’. No 1 in fourteen countries, multi million seller and all time classic. However that mega hit is just a fraction of the timeless, beautiful haunting songs that have poured out of Peter over 5 decades.
‘England’s Lane’ was originally released in 1997 and is now available remastered on this Angel Air release.
Right from the opening title track the unique vocal could not be mistaken for anybody other than Peter. His phrasing, wit, humour, emotion and ability to paint pictures and take you to places are truly art. Listening to ‘Biarritz’
‘British Museum’ ‘Castles in Spain’ and the glorious ‘Spanish Made Easy’ are virtually cinematic experiences. Ray Davies is the only other singer I can think of that masters that ability (Village Preservation Society being a prime example). Peter’s wistful warm honey coated voice seeps into your conscience, stays there and makes the world a better place for 45 minutes and these days we could all do with that.
Whether tackling his skiffle roots on ‘All Together Now’ (with Albert Lee on guitar) or revisiting Marie-Claire on the closing track ‘The Last Of The Breed’ this remains, for me, one of his finest albums. And as a closing thought get a copy of his debut album which contains the wonderful ‘I Am A Cathedral’ and the FULL version of WDYGTML which they NEVER play on the radio!

Fo more inormation go to http://www.angelair.co.uk

colin-headTil next time, stay warm…

Colin

 

Tony Davis… I’ve always liked Peter’s music and bought this album when it came out in 1997. It was always a regret that I never saw Peter in concert doing a full set rather than just on the Sixties packages. Peter has now retired from the music business because of ill health so any chance has now gone. There is a live DVD recorded in 2004 I think called Live at the Crooked Billet but I’ve never been able to find a copy of that. If anyone has one that they want to part with or provide me with a loan of that would be great. I agree with what Colin says about his first album – a great piece of singer/songwriter pysch.

Colin Bell… Tony D, im not sure if they have it in stock but try http://charlyfilms.com for the DVD you are after. If no luck im in touch with Peter and happy to see if a can get a copy.

Tony Davis… Colin – tried Charly but they don’t seem to have it. If you could get me a copy that would be great thank you.