Pulp -The Sisters EP

Although ‘Different Class’ established Pulp at the very forefront of British music in 1995, it was the previous album ‘His ‘n hers’ which had fulfilled their early promise. The classic song, ‘Babies’ featured as a track off teh cd and cassette of that album but strangely not on the vinyl. But vinyl lovers were catered for by it being available on this 12″ EP. (A 7″ was also available.

‘Babies’ is wonderful brilliant highly enjoyable dancefloor pop. I couldn’t love a song more if I tried. It tells the story of a younger sibling looking at the older sister as the sister’s boyfriend tries to get his end off, seductively telling her ‘I want to give you babies’.

The next song, ‘You sister’s clothes’ moves on four years(the younger sibling finally getting her revenge for earlier years’. Its a darker track, the ordinary made sinister by the exaggerated music and singing. Tensions lurks in those (synthesised) strings. Jervis mouths on in great form.

‘Seconds’ explores the idea that perfect people are perfectly boring!!! According to the sleevenotes πŸ™‚ Its another great track, full of despair and attention yet sung in a wondeful pop manner, hopping keyboards and sweeping synths. Its truly majestic.

‘His ‘n hers’ is one man’s fear of domestic interiors set to music. Err, well that explains that then. Musically it is lighter in tone than ‘Seconds’ and contains wonderful keyboards and bass. Before turning paranoid.

The whole EP is perfect. None of these tracks are duds and match the best from the Pulp’s two classic pop albums. If you can find this definitely pick it up. The four songs are well spread out on this 45rpm 12″ vinyl and the sound is teh best you will ever hear from pop. The record is standard 12″ fare, outer picture sleeve and inner is plain white. But they generously include an ‘art print’ of the band.

Prefab Sprout – Steve McQueen

Want a record to make your hi-fi sing? Easy to get? Cheap? Pick up this one. It turns up in every 2nd hand record shop here for a few euro. That’s on the European side of the Atlantic. I don’t know how ubiquitous it is on the US side. But I do know its got a different name over there. Its called ‘Two wheels good’ and its just as brilliant. The album is produced and mixed by Thomas Dolby and sounds simply gorgeous.

The band’s second album was a huge improvement on Swoon, the debut and is a textbook in songwriting skills. Its an album full of songs about broken relationships, self esteem and err blueberry pies. Paddy McAloon, the songwriter, also was never one to offer a great melody when several would do. Each song has so much to offer.

‘Faron young’ kicks off at a teriffic pace and sounds the perfect road song. Fast paced and relatively rocky, great guitar riff. Strangelky it mixes a country twang in with the rest, complete with steel pedal and harmonica.

‘Bonny’ sounds perfect. Light drumwork, beautifully strummed guitar and Paddy McAloon’s hushed vocals(they’re nearly always hushed). A melody to die for and Wendy smith’s angelic backing vocals.

‘Appetite’…….ahhhh, more like a feast. Gorgeous sounding drums, the same breathless vocals, chiming guitars.

The most famous song, and probably the best, on the album is a tale of that worst part of a relationship, as its breaking up. ‘When love breaks down’ reached a massive #25 in the UK charts. Their biggest hit until ‘the king of rock’n’roll’ reached #7 in 1988. It starts off real slow before speeding up into a lively and deceptive pace. It deliciously details the way you feel and the way you act when your lovelife is collapsing all around you. Simply beautiful.

‘Goodbye Lucille #1’ would be a great song on any album. Here it actually pales a bit in comparison to what went before. But on its own merits its a great song, rockier than most of the album. Paddy even gives us a scream. But again, a great chorus, and some tasty fret work.

‘Hallelujah’ finishes side one. Its not a Leonard Cohen cover. Its a very polished pop song. Or almost electro funk. Somehow it reminds me of Robert Palmer’s addicted to love. But I promise you, its not that shallow. And it namechecks George Gershwin.

Side two starts off in soft rock form again. ‘Moving the river’ is as hard as it gets in Prefab Sprout territory.

‘Horsin’ around’ sounds, surprisingly like an easy samba. Or more correctly, Bossa Nova. Its light and enjoyable. Again it offers us a lush sound to die for. Just to keep those surprises coming, the song changes into a blues style workout and introduces some brass to keep us going. It makes for a great track. An unexpected treasure.

‘Desire as’ is ambient jazz. Whatever that is. Its dreamy, jazzy and very lovely.

‘Blueberry pies’ is short and bluesy. Just like this line.

‘When the angels’ ends the album on less an angelic tip and a more jazz rocky one.

Bog standard pressing that sounds really good. Its a case where the thinness of your vinyl doesn’t necessarily have a bad effect on the sound. Although theoretically it could warp more easily. Its got a fabulous sound and more ideas and twists than ten of today’s so called indie albums. Standard outer and inner picture sleeves.

The Bees – Octopus

Although I’d heard many things about the Bees’ previous album ‘Free the bees’, this is actually my first experience with the band. I have to admit I’m really enjoying what I’m hearing.

Octupus comes across as a blend of 60’s pop and 60’s soul, with influences also from funkier 70’s type soul and some psychedelia. They also remind me of that similarily 60’s influenced band, the Coral.

Melodies are strong and there’s a large collage of instruments which go into making up this thoroughly appealing whole. To top it off the sound and the vinyl pressing are really good. The sound seems to fill the room without ever being jarring or overwhelming. The coral for instance tend to be irritating after a while. ( I put this down to the sound quality rather than the music).

So probably the easiest way to walk through this album is compare each song to who it sounds like πŸ™‚

1. ‘Who cares what the question is’ sounds just like a jaunty McCartney Beatles song.

2. ‘Love in the harbour’ is heading in Crosby Stills Nash or Doobie Brothers territory.

3. ‘Left foot stepdown’ sounds like a micture of a Coral sea shanty and teh Specials doing Ghost town. The trombone could have something to do with that.

4. ‘Got to let go’? hmmm, a fabulous rhythm that sounds like it originate in teh carribbean, or possible in Brazil. Its a nice chill out vibe with rather silly lyrics….’I’ve got a job in texas……saving up for a lexus’. Its actually one of my favourites. Its got that whole carnival bibe going on, but we’re not too far away from teh specials again :).

5. ‘Listening man’ is a rip off straight from an early 60’s soul singer, but I can’t work out who. Is it Otis Redding, early Marvin Gaye? Possibly Jackie Wilson? Someone help me πŸ™‚

On to side two….do you remember the days when every record had ten tracks???

6. ‘Stand’ not by your man, well maybe. By the singer’s side. Sounds a bit like the Coral. Who do the coral sound like? The flute and the ghostly harmony makes this quite a psychedelic sounding track.

7. ‘(This is for the) better days’. Am I hearing a steely dan influence here? I didn’t expect that one.

8. ‘The Occuralist’. Something to do with the sea it seems. For some reason as well the singer starts warbling on in spanish. This lends to the Brazil like theme from earlier. A bit of south american jazz, mixed up with some syd barrett. It all sounds a bit sweet, a bit whimsical. There’s even a few ‘woo oo oo’s floating about.

9. ‘Hot one’. Title says Billy Idol. Music says territory between maybe the rolling stones and the beatles, at their most drug addled.

and finally 10. ‘The end of the street’ appropriately ends the album. Sames a number nine. cross between ‘Ob li do’ and ,I am the walrus,.

Variously, you could also detect the likes of the Kinks and the small faces in the bees’ record collections.

The music loses a point for its lack of originality but really you’re likely to enjoy this album.Β There’s plenty going on and its packed with melodies and a lot of fun. Sound quality is very good and sounds entirely natural and analogue. you listen to it rather than say ‘wow!’. Its pressed on about 160grm vinyl. My first copy had a mild warp so I returned it and the new copy has a slight warp too. Its not affecting play though. Outer and inner picture sleeves.

New for 1956


From Chrysler Press Release — for use October 12, 1955:

For 1956 Imperial introduces the high fidelity record player. Small, neat and compact, the unit measures only slightly more than four inches high and less than a foot wide. It is mounted under the instrument panel, and plays through the radio speaker.

Each side of the 7-inch records is good for between 45 minutes and a full hour of uninterrupted play. A choice of popular and classical recordings, as well as recorded readings, is available. A storage space at the bottom of the unit holds five records. These are held flat by light spring pressure which prevents them from warping.

The records are of true high fidelity quality and the frequency range of the record player reaches 10,000 cycles per second. The door of the player opens downward and the turntable chassis can then be pulled out for easy record changing. The records are centered over the spindle by stops at the rear of the turntable.

An elastic three-point suspension cushions the turntable against road shock, and is designed to pivot about a point on the arc swept by the stylus as it traverses the record. This reduces turntable motion to a minimum in the vicinity of the stylus.

The pickup arm, though conventional in appearance, moves only in a horizontal plane. Hence, there is no problem of the arm itself bouncing when the car travels a rough road. Only the stylus can move vertically, and this is spring-loaded to hold the point against the record with a pressure of two grams.

The pickup arm is also counterweighted, so that its center-of-mass is at the pivot point. This offsets the tendency of the arm to swing in response to fast acceleration, heavy braking and hard turning. In repeated tests of the record player, mounted in a car and driven over various kinds of road surfaces, it has proved extremely difficult to jar the arm off the record or even make the stylus jump a groove.

Read more at  http://ookworld.com/hiwayhifi.html

Explosions in the sky – All of a sudden I miss everyone

After loving the last album by Explosions in the sky, expectations were very high for this one.

There are a couple of editions of this album. Firstly in the US the album is released on Temporary Residence while the European label is Bella Union. secondly, for those copies sold through smaler indie shops, there is the bonus of a cd of remixes. This extra cd comes with bit the US/European cd/vinyl special editions.

So to get this cd, I bought a copy of the album locally despite the stiff asking price of 32euro. That’s over 40 dollars.

THe package itself is simply stunning. The records come in their own inner picture sleeves, housed inside a gatefold cover all with the same colourful matt finish with intriguing artwork. Seemingly, of a drowned village at nighttime. The two vinyl discs have music spread across two sides. The fourth, like before, is etched with a similar drawing to that on the cover. Disc 1 is delicious cream coloured vinyl, while disc two is a very dark purple.

Musically, so far, I have been a bit disappointed with this album. I guess it is difficult to follow up such a supreme example as ‘The earth is not a cold dead place…’. In fairness to the band, this album represents a change. All the elements that made the previous album so morosely beautiful and somehow too uplifting are there. But for instance, track one starts off with guitar drenched in feedback. In general too, the record seems to use dynamics to impress. We have many passages where the music goes from very quiet to very loud. This is not new, but the music behind it does not seem to have the substance to back it up. At times, the amount going on makes the music sound distorted and hard to listen to.

Side two has a lengthy intro while a soundscape is built up. Melodies are floating around, forming. For ages actually. Some feedback does make an entrance after a while. It all sounds like the soundtrack to an eerie movie. The feedback grows in volume almost drowning out all melody. This may appeal to Flying Saucer attack fans.

Eventually this all subsides and the next melody starts off gently plucked. Echoed sounds remind me a bit of Durutti column, but the melody is never so forcefully formed. It does form, but takes its time.

It seems to me as well on this record, as if percussion takes a more prominent role. And there is more play with instrumentation, songs melody structure.

Side 3 seems to have a massive 3 tracks on it πŸ™‚ The first of these sees the liveliest action on the album, fast guitar playing and military style percussion. And the next one. The very last track on the album, is gentler. It has a gorgeous piano line, interspersed with the ever present guitars, finally showering us again with hope for a bright future. Drums finally kick in with a wonderfully full sound, and then it all ends with a tinkling guitar outro.

All in all with this album, I find it noisier and more experimental than the last album. The melodies however are not as strong and more repetitive. The vinyl fetishist in me, however, simply adores the package and would but it for that alone. The mastering is well done but in general sounds digital and a bit harsh.

Bryan ferry – Dylanesque

So then Bryan Ferry completes his album of Bob Dylan covers and leaves us with, unsurprisingly, a mix of the two.

Bob Dylan is recognised as one of the best singer-songwriters in the world, with the emphasis on the songwriter. His lyrics are peerless, his musicianship and music are renowned. Yet his singing is dire. Enough to put off most of the world’s music listeners.

What better way to do it than give a batch of his songs to be covered by one of the great singers of our time. Depending on your tastes of course. For many, Bob Dylan’s rough tones are preferable to Bryan Ferry’s dulcet ones.

Not for me.

As regular listeners may have noticed I am quite a fan of Bryan Ferry. His voice appeals to me and I love his musical arrangements. The icing on the cake for us, as vinyl lovers, is that his records always sound simply gorgeous.

And Dylanesque is no exception. From the initial Boogie woogie of @Tom Thumb’s Blues’ to the final ‘All along the watchtower’ the album is a sheer delight to listen to. incidentally, I have also listened to this collection of songs on mp3 and there is no similarity. The vinyl is heaven, the mp3s sound weedy and insignificant.

With this record, it has to be said, the songwriting is better than Ferry’s own. Although he is well capable of churning out some classics, Dylan’s is stronger and more consistent. For this reason, the songs here stand out more than the production than on Ferry’s own. eg. the still excellent Bete Noire.

My favourites are ‘Just like Tom Thumb’s blues’ a gyrating piece of fun. ‘Simple twist of fate’ is given a light bouncy makeover. Its poppy and enjoyable rather than serious and includes an excellent harmonica solo by Ferry himself. Ferry romps through a version of ‘The times they are a changing’ in fine form altogether. Its propelled along by a real smooth rhythm section.

Side two’s ‘Knockin’ on heaven’s door’ is a successful reworking of this classic into Ferry’s style. Think of what he did to Jealous guy. Its beautiful. It keeps goin with the hushed tones of Ferry and the bluesy guitar, dreamlike, hypnotic.

‘Positively 4th street’ is delicately sung over piano. Very touching. ‘If not for you’ has a great backing track, again, getting you boogeying. There is no way anyone can go wrong with ‘All along the watchtower’. Perhaps in a nod to Hendrix, there is the heaviest guitar work on the album here. It leaves a powerful impression.

Synopsis is….

For Dylan fans this will probably revolt them. Its super smooth and super slick. It sounds simply gorgeous. For anyone who has wondered what all the fuss is about Dylan, perhaps this is a good introduction before going onto maybe Oh Mercy, Blood on the tracks or Blonde on Blonde. Ferry fans will find all they love here already.

The full tracklisting is as follows

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues 3:50
Simple Twist of Fate 5:18
Make You Feel My Love 3:22
The Times They Are A-Changin’ 3:40
All I Really Want to Do 2:29
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door 6:14
Positively 4th Street 3:45
If Not for You Dylan 2:40
Baby, Let Me Follow You Down 2:13
Gates of Eden 5:12
All along the watchtower 4:00

Packaging is attractive. Glossy outer and inner picture sleeves. Picture and colours a bit gaudy. Vinyl pressing is pretty good, quite heavyweight, and the sound as mentioned is excellent. Bob Ludwig is credited in the cleevenotes as mastering engineer, but his initials are not in the deadwax. If there is a US vinyl edition, perhaps he will cut that lacquer.

Benham column: CDs no match for grooves of vinyl albums



Benham column: CDs no match for grooves of vinyl albums

| Monday, Mar 12 2007 5:45 PM

Last Updated: Monday, Mar 12 2007 5:58 PM

Recently, I bought a record player. Not a DVD player, a tape player, a CD player, or an MP3 player, but a record player.

One of those things that has a platter the size of a dinner plate, a little round nub in the center that secures each record and an electronic arm with a needle at the end.

Like many people over 50, I have a collection of records that has fallen into disuse as each technological innovation has buried the one before it.

I know smart people, musically adept people and relatively affluent people who have replaced their albums with CDs and dumped the records.

I'm being dumb, really. The sound is better with CDs. They are easier to store. However, replacing records with CDs seems disloyal. It's one thing to buy a CD you've never owned before, but the memories tied up in records do not transfer easily.

In other words, it wasn't just the music. It was the act of playing the music. Selecting the album, sliding the record out of its cover, placing it on the player, lifting up the needle and setting it gently on the line of the song you wanted to play.

There was something hypnotic about playing a record. Mesmerizing about watching it spin round and round. When the needle went down, the good times began.

"Let me play this song for you. I think you'll really like it."

The album covers were part of the mystique. They were large, dramatic and sometimes absolutely incomprehensible. Incomprehensible gave you something to do while you were listening to the album.

Shopping for music was more fun back then. When you picked up an album, you really had something. It's similar to the way an old- fashioned phone feels in your hand as opposed to a cell phone, which is always in danger of disappearing.

"Dad, did you know that you can scratch with this record player?" said my musical older son.

Why would I want to scratch? Scratching is bad. We were programmed not to scratch. Think about all the records you ruined or you thought you ruined by having the needle skip across the record.

"That's what the DJs do now," he said. "They scratch and they mix."

No, I didn't buy this thing so I could scratch or mix. I bought it for my wife, because there are a few memories in those albums for the both of us.

I got it so I could play DJ at home for the youngest child. Before long, he will be on his way. It's important that he be steeped in music. Music is protection. It can remind you of where you came from and why it's good to return.

The first album I played was The Stylistics' "Betcha By Golly, Wow." You talk about wanting to go home. Is there anything more inviting than the soaring falsetto of lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr.?

Next up, the late Hoyt Axton singing with a very young Tanya Tucker. Duets don't get any better than that.

Looking ahead, we have Jackson Browne, early Joan Baez and The Seldom Scene.

I know they sound better on CD, but they don't sound the same.

Eat More Records finds its groove in old-time sound



Eat More Records finds its groove in old-time sound

Hobbyist-turned-businessman Craig Freireich makes a living selling what many may consider outdated technology. Indeed, while some children today have never seen a "record", others are part of a new retro trend: collecting the vinyl discs old and new.

Eat More RecordsThat's right, records are still produced.

"The kids are buying vinyl now," says Freireich, owner of Eat More Records – located on Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville.

His store offers a place for music-listening enthusiasts young and old to buy, sell, and trade new and used records. Patrons can also pick up music stored on modern digital media such as CDs and DVDs. Still, the 1,500-square-foot strip mall store specializes in older music as opposed to newly-released works.

While Eat More Records turns a profit, the entrepreneur admits his business is currently hurting. "We're struggling," Freireich says. "A lot of our customers don't know we've moved, even after three years, and I don't have enough money to advertise properly."

Freireich believes investing in a Web site would certainly help, especially if he gets into selling more newly-pressed vinyl. But he doesn't have money for that right now, either. Yet, he says he's optimistic that as the trend picks up with younger customers, profits will, too.

Freireich started selling and trading records in 1979 at a store on Memorial Drive in downtown Atlanta. Then he took his business to flea markets before setting up shop in two different locations in Gwinnett County.

"Right now, we get a lot of the 30-plus crowd," Friereich says. "Vinyl junkies like him." Freireich points to James Simmons, a regular record shopper and Gwinnett resident.

"But there aren't many of us around," Simmons says.

Simmons visits Eat More Records three to four times a week looking for specific releases. If several new drop-offs have been made, he'll walk out with up to seven albums or more. And there are always additional old records because Freireich and his two full-time employees welcome walk-in customers looking to unload their dusty collections. According to Freireich, these drop-offs are made daily.

Record prices at Eat More Records typically range from $4 to $10 on used albums and go upwards of $50 or more depending on the collection value. Freireich estimates his company stocks 20,000 45s and 8,000 to 10,000 albums. For those of you who need the review, analog sound recording media, as opposed to digital media, come in various sizes, from 33-1/3 to 78. The numbers refer to the rotations per minute the discs make on a record player or turntable.

"We're the only store anywhere near here that does this," says Jeremy Frye, Freireich's youngest employee. "So we get a lot of great stuff, and we're a lot less picked over than some of the record stores in Atlanta. People are willing to make the drive."

While vinyl records may represent old technology, to aficionados, their quality is far superior.

"Vinyl sounds better," Simmons says. "CDs are good as far as space and clarity. But sound on CDs is so cleaned up, the music is too bright and not warm like a live recording."

This shared passion for quality sound that may help Freireich keep his 28-year business groovin'.

Top vinyl up for grabs



With some of the rarest and biggest selling records of all time, it is a disc-spinning DJs dream. But this exciting collection of more than 1,000 original seven inch singles is sitting unwanted in a Black Country warehouse.

The amazing collection features some of the greatest hits from the last 50 years, including songs by The Beatles, Slade and the Rolling Stones.

Now staff at recycling centre Recyk, based in Park Village, Wolverhampton, are looking to find a new home for the vinyl.

Andy Barrs, who works at the Wood Street centre, said they were amazed to find the amazing hoard when they were called to clear a house in Penn.

He said: “There’s some really big names in there, including Buddy Holly and the Beach Boys. 

“We’re pretty sure they are all original as well so it must be worth quite a bit. They must have belonged to a DJ at one point because there is a wide range of music in there from the 60s, 70s and the 80s,” he went on to say.

The collection came in on Tuesday to the centre and is now on display for prospective buyers.

Last year Recyk unveiled another music collector’s treasure trove, after they became a practical dumping ground for people’s unwanted vinyl. 

And Andy explained that after the story of more than 2,000 LPs appeared in the Express & Star, a music fan popped in the centre and took the lot.

He said: “We thought there might be a few prospective buyers but one guy came in and said he wanted them all.”

The collection included some of the biggest-selling songs of all time. 

Gems in the collection were Rod Stewart’s classic albums and rare tracks by The Police and Cliff Richard. The hoard had been amassed over the last few months from tips and house clearances. Other fascinating finds at the centre include more than 250 Star Trek videos and dozens of 1960s car manuals.

The money raised from the sale goes back into the company, a community enterprise set up to promote recycling.

Andy said: “We are open to offers from anyone who is interested.”

Among the amazing collection are Michael Jackon’s classic hit Leave Me Alone and soul stars Jackon 5’s Walk Right Now. An original copy of The Monkees’ I’m A Believer EP and several Beach Boys’ classics are also up for grabs.

Andy said: “It really is a DJs dream. There can’t be many people who have a record collection of this size. 

“Whoever gets it is going to be very lucky because there are so many great songs in there. We are expecting a lot of interest as we always get when rare things like this come into us. Who knows, it could even be worth a fortune,” added the worker.

Anyone wanting to get in touch with Recyk should call 01902 863838.