New grooves in 2020

Short album reviews

On this page I will introduce my LP purchases of 2020. Just for the fun of it.

 
     
 
September 9, 2020
 
 
P.J. Harvey: Rid Of Me (Island 0851112, 1993/2020)
 
     
 

 
     
 

Another record I bought from JPC (like Laura Marling's album, see next review). In the last few weeks, every now and then, I listened to music on YouTube, just hoping to find something worthwhile. I stumbled on P.J. Harvey and Nick Cave, artists I knew vaguely, but I never spent enough time to find out what they really had to offer. Well, at least for P.J. Harvey it meant that I ordered two albums from JPC (the other still has to arrive, now I'm writing this). I guess, some time soon, I will buy me some Nick Cave albums as well. I like P.J. Harvey; she's doing very much her own thing; it's diverse and intriguing, to say the least. "Rid Of Me" has a raw attitude that isn't easy to swallow, but it has a lot to offer. "Man-Size" was one of the songs I listened to on Youtube and I found it a fascinating track (and clip). You should give it a try, if you don't know the song already.

 
     
     
 
September 9, 2020
 
 
Laura Marling: Song For Our Daughter (Chrysalis/Partisan BRRV002, 2020)
 
     
 

 
     
 

It's good to focus on something different after all the Larry Norman stuff I've been into. JPC in Germany gave me a 20% discount on all of their offerings and I took the opportunity to buy me three new LP's, one of them being this Laura Marling album. I've been interested in Laura Marling ever since I bought the album "Once I Was An Eagle" as a wild guess, and all of her eight official album releases are now in my collection. "Song For Our Daughter" was released in July, so it's new in every way. I've listened to it a few times now and I must say that it still doesn't get me like most of her previous albums did. The songs I like best are "Strange Girl" (the only uptempo song on the album) and "Only The Strong"; these are actually very nice songs, but the others fly in and out without leaving much impression. Too much orchestration for me, too little melodies that stand out.

 
     
     
 
September 9, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Home At Last (Spark SK-7005, 1990)
 
     
 

 
     
 

A Dutch pressing of a record that was originally issued as a double album in a plain white jacket in 1989 (and subsequently on CD). Spark used the CD cover to blow up the images for their 12inch record cover, also blackening some areas on the back - a pretty lousy job! The record itself is among the better later Larry Norman albums (later = post 1970's), which doesn't mean you should immediately go and find yourself a copy. The album features several new songs but others were issued before. All are 1980's recordings except "Oh How I Love You" (1972, from "Only Visiting This Planet") and "Country Church" (c. 1976, from "The Story Of The Tune" CD version).

 
     
     
 
August 29, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Rehearsal 4 Reality (Royal Music RMLP 023, 1986)
 
     
 

 
     
 

"Rehearsal 4 Reality" is a compilation album with Larry Norman and his brother Charles on the cover. Charles Norman helped his brother a lot during the 1980's and beyond until Larry Norman's passing in 2008. This has always been kind of hard to handle for me, as the Larry Norman I knew from the 1970's disappeared the the decennia which followed. Charles did some pretty good things, but on record it always appeared to me that I was listening to someone else's record instead of Larry Norman's. Most of the songs on "Rehearsal 4 Reality" are from the 1980's, the exceptions being "Why Can't You Be Good", and "I Feel Like Dying". "Gonna Write A Song About You For The Radio" is a rather nice rockabilly-ish tune (where Norman borrows from Fats Domino and even throws in some Screamin' Jay Hawkins lines!), most other tracks are of (much) less interest, including the dreadful "Woman Of God".

 
     
     
 
August 29, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Quiet Night (Stress ARF-864, 1984)
 
     
 

 
     
 

"Quiet Night" was sort of a compilation LP of the 3LP box "Barchaeology". Scroll down to see a review of that album. "Barchaeology" is not of much interest, so is this compilation, which will come as no surprise. The front cover reads 'The Young Lions' while the label says 'Larry Norman and the Young Lions'.

 
     
     
 
August 21, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: In Another Land (Solid Rock Rocky 1, 1976)
 
     
 

 
     
 

Larry Norman's most famous album and the first of his albums I listened to. I borrowed a copy from a girl who went to the same church as I did, back in my foolish days. It was 1977. I had heard "The Rock That Doesn't Roll" on the radio and was instantly convinced. The album's repertoire varies from haunting folk to solid 70's rock and would probably be qualified as not homogeneous enough according to today's industry standards. I like the diversity and there's a lot to enjoy here by this lone wolf, as Frank Black of the Pixies once described Larry Norman. Black recorded Norman's "Six Sixty Six" (featured on "In Another Land") with the Catholics in 1998 (listen to that version here).

I have several copies of this album, both on vinyl and CD, but was missing this UK version, which I wanted for the Larry Norman discography. I found it cheap on Discogs, together with the first UK pressing of "Upon This Rock" (scroll down to read more about this title).

 
     
     
 
August 18, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: self-titled (Rhema/Starstorm S777-1, 1977)
 
     
 

 
     
 

This is a Australian compilation album (a.k.a. "Starstorm") featuring songs known from "Street Level", "Only Visiting This Planet", "So Long Ago The Garden" and "In Another Land". However, half of them are different versions, which makes this an album of more than average interest (to the collector, that is).

 
     
     
 
August 12, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Something New Under The Son (Solid Rock Ruff Mix, 1981)
 
     
 

 
     
 

"Something New Under The Son" was and is the ultimate Larry Norman album for me. It's all blues but not your standard 12-bar thing. Larry Norman crafted all kinds of influences into his very own thing and it's rough and it's brilliant. This is the UK version, with some small differences as compared to the US version, and one song missing ( "I Feel Like Dying"). It seems a silly mistake was made by people who probably didn't understand this music whatsoever, and it was corrected by releasing the song on single. It's a pretty weird and desperate song and though I like it a lot, I think it's not the first candidate for a single release. Not by far. Not that it's very likely that Larry Norman would have had a hit record with whatever other song from this album, but well, they still could have made a more clever choice, for instance by putting "I Feel Like Dying" on the b-side and chosing "Larry Norman's 97th Nightmare" (the clip is the US version with intro!) or "Feeling So Bad" for the a-side. The reverse side the record company (Chapel Lane) chose for was a song by another artist from their stable (Alwyn Wall). Another song worth listening to would be "Watch What You're Doing" - play it loud and from start to finish!

 
     
     
 
August 11, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Street Level (One Way JC 7937/7397, 1970)
 
     
 

 
     
 

I have discussed this title already (scroll down to "Barcheaology" and "Street Level"), so no need to repeat myself here. This is the second pressing of the original gold label version, with an inversed front cover image, from early 1971.

 
     
     
 
August 11, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Upon This Rock (Capitol ST-446, 1970)
 
     
 

 
     
 

"Upon This Rock" was Larry Norman's first album under his own name, released right after the People episode. Same label, similar fights over decisions where Larry Norman had no voice in, etc. So this album was re-released a little later on Impact/Heart Warming with all kinds op productional changes (mostly improvements!). What is left, regardless the actual issue, is a milestone release, often hailed as the first christian rock LP. Best song to me is "Walking Backwards Down The Stairs" - because of the lyrics! The reason for me to buy this LP, is because of a minimal difference with the Capitol version I already owned.

 
     
     
 
August 11, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Down Under But Not Out (Royal Music RMLP 025, 1986)
 
     
 

 
     
 

The Swedish "Down Under" is a single compilation LP and rather different from the US 2LP version (see next review). Apart from that, the idea is the same and so is my appreciation for this album. Good to have for a Larry Norman collector, less so for anyone with a general interest in the recordings of Larry Norman. There are better alternatives. Like the US 2LP, I owned this LP years ago but sold it and I'm glad to have it again.

 
     
     
 
August 8, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Down Under But Not Out (Phydeaux ARF-377, 1986)
 
     
 

 
     
 

"Down Under" is a compilation 2LP with songs from 1956 tot 1986. The recording are from the late sixties to the mid eighties, but there will be a tune here that was written as early as 1956. The first album in this set highlights the late 1960's and early 1970's (including recordings by People), while the second album focuses on the 1970's and 1980's. It's all rather interesting, especially because most well-known titles from Norman's repertoire are left out. Having said that, I'm not a huge People fan and not very enthousiast about Larry Norman's post-1980 recordings either. Owned this LP years ago but sold it and I'm glad to have it again.

 
     
     
 
August 8, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Bootleg (Phydeaux/One Way JC-4847/2JC-900, 1972/90)
 
     
 

 
     
 
Larry Norman's "Bootleg" 2LP was originally released in 1972 with no title on the front cover and it was re-released several times later on (most in 1972-73). This is the last reissue on vinyl and it's from 1990. The album contains an extra track (actually two takes) and is otherwise similar to the earlier versions, although Larry Norman may have minimally edited some of the tracks. I already have this title (UK pressing, 1973) and bought this (again, I guess, as I must have had it before) for the Larry Norman discography mainly. It's a nice album, giving a good impression of the early years of 'Jesus music' and of the talent that Larry Norman was. I'm not into 'Jesus music' but Larry Norman, as controversial as he can be (for me as well as for almost anybody else) means an exception in many respects and I keep on being intrigued by this Jesus-freak. Attracted by weirdness, it must be something like that. Plus the fact that he was one of the first artists I listened to and certainly the one that had the most impact on me as a youngster. Coming from a christian background with all its limitations and false claims and insights, rock & roll meant very much to me, even though the lyrics were still within the christian idiom. You have to start somewhere...
 
     
     
 
July 24, 2020
 
 
Duke Ellington: Afro-Bossa (Reprise R9-6069, 1963/67?)
 
     
 

 
     
 

After a day in Amsterdam I always bring home a small pile of records; shops like Wax Well and Concerto keep on being interesting for a regular visit. This Ellington LP and the seven following albums below have been purchased at the shops mentioned and I'm leaving out three Philips Minigroove releases, which were bought for my Philips Minigroove website.

As I mentioned in another review, I think of Duke Ellington as an interesting figure and I'm attracted to his records though he often plays with a big band or orchestra which isn't exactly my cup of tea. This album is no exception, but there's a lot to enjoy in these jazz compositions mixed with African and Latin influences.

This US Reprise album was first released in 1963 with a jazz cherub logo on the (deep groove) labels. My copy has the tri-colored labels with steamboat logo, probably from a few years later - see next review.

 
     
     
 
July 24, 2020
 
 
Duke Ellington: Greatest Hits! (Reprise R-6234, 1967)
 
     
 

 
     
 

Another Duke Ellington LP on Reprise, it's a live album called "Duke Ellington's Greatest Hits", featuring a big band. Pretty good sounding stuff for live performances and a lot of Ellington classics to enjoy.

Since this album is from 1967 (probably an original issue, mono) and has the same labels as the "Afro-Bossa" LP, these albums may have been released at around the same time.

 
     
     
 
July 24, 2020
 
 
Duke Ellington/Fletcher Henderson: The Birth Of Big Band Jazz (Riverside 12-129, 1957)
 
     
 

 
     
 
This is really old stuff, from 1926 (Duke Ellington side) and 1923-28 (Fletcher Henderson side). It was issued in the 'Jazz Archive Series" of Riverside Records in 1957. The LP looks like an original 1957 pressing but it also looks like it's only a few years old... Well; it won't suffer much here either, as this is not an album I'll often play. I was doubting about 2 or 3 stars, but decided to go for 3 as this is historical relevant material and cannot be judged properly with more modern listening ears... Once this was modern too. At least it gives an impression of what Duke Ellington did in his early years.
 
     
     
 
July 24, 2020
 
 
Lester Young: Swinging (Score SLP-4028, 1958)
 
     
 

 
     
 

Nice US Score LP from 1958, featuring the great Lester Young. From the Encyclopedia Brittanica: Lester Young, in full Lester Willis Young, byname Pres or Prez, (born Aug. 27, 1909, Woodville, Miss., U.S.—died March 15, 1959, New York, N.Y.), was an American tenor saxophonist who emerged in the mid-1930s Kansas City jazz world with the Count Basie band and introduced an approach to improvisation that provided much of the basis for modern jazz solo conception. Young’s tone was a striking departure from the accepted full-bodied, dark, heavy variety, with its quick vibrato, because his was light in weight, colour, and texture, with a slow vibrato. The swinging, rhythmic feeling in his improvisations was far more relaxed and graceful than that usually heard in the work of others during the 1930s. His lines were streamlined, logical, and refreshingly melodic. The impact of his style was so broad that he has been cited as a favourite by such diverse modern jazz figures as Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, and John Coltrane. Much of the West Coast 'cool' style was a direct product of Lester Young’s approach, many saxophonists playing his lines note for note in their own performances. He was so important that singer Billie Holiday called him president of tenor saxophonists, and he was known thereafter as Pres (or Prez). His best-known performances include "Taxi War Dance", "D.B. Blues" and "Lester Leaps In".
The last two titles mentioned are featured on this "Swinging Lester Young LP" and with eleven other titles, this album gives a nice presentation of this tenor saxophonist's work, which is a little less 'modern' than what I'm usually listening to but it's still very worthwhile.

This LP was first released in 1956 on the Intro label (#ILP-602).

 
     
     
 
July 24, 2020
 
 
Various Artists: The History Of Savoy (Savoy/King K16P-6318-20, 1984)
 
     
 

 
     
 

"The History Of Savoy" offers what the title says, spread out over 6 LP sides and 40 tracks. It's all jazz and it covers the years 1941-1964. The music ranges from Swing to Jazz vocal, from Black Bop to White Bop (yes, separated! why?), from Hard Bop to 'New Jazz'. In this set, you'll find tracks by Ben Webster, Charlie Ventura, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Stan Getz, Hank Monley, Charles Mingus, Sun Ra, to name just a few and to illustrate the diversity to be found in these grooves. As the picture indicates, this is a Japanese issue. It was meant for the Japanese market, so most text in the 20-page booklet is unreadable for the majority of mankind. Good to see that all session details are given in English; it made me aware of other jazz greats playing in the groups accompanying the main artist, such as John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Lee Morgan, Max Roach and more.

It will take a while before I get to know these sides better, if it ever will happen. Boxes like this one, have a historical value and there sure is a lot to enjoy, but for me they are less accessible than a single LP by a single artist.

 
     
     
 
July 24, 2020
 
 
Thelonious Monk: Always Know (Columbia 35720, 1979)
 
     
 

 
     
 

Very unlike Erroll Garner (see next review), Thelonious Monk doesn't give you an easy time with his typical piano playing, which surprises the listener with a nice combination of the recognizable and the stubborn. Besides, the Monk was cool; check his performances on YouTube. The man was a genius, not an ultra fast player but he knew what he was doing and did it all so well.

This 2LP features mostly previously unissed sides, some live recordings, all from 1962-68.

 
     
     
 
July 24, 2020
 
 
Erroll Garner: The Greatest Garner (Atlantic 1227, 1956/60)
 
     
 

 
     
 
Reissue LP with the bulls eye labels (originals had the black Atlantic labels). Great pianist, easy jazz numbers, nothing to get too excited about but ideal music when you need to concentrate on something else.
 
     
     
 
July 24, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Barchaeology (Phydeaux 3LP not numbered, 1984)
 
     
 

 
     
 

Larry Norman's "Barcheaology" box was never released in the Netherlands. I bought my first copy at a concert in 1984 or 1985 as he brought some records to sell after the show. I guess that was the only way to obtain a copy unless you ordered one in the US, which may not have been easy either. In these online days, every now and then, a copy shows up on eBay or Discogs, so it's not a mega rarity, but to find it at Concerto is still remarkable. I bought it again, after I sold my first copy years ago. I'm into buying Larry Norman stuff since I'm working on his discography again, so I couldn't stand temptation.

This 3LP set features three previously released but pretty rare LP's: the first version of "Street Level" (scroll down for a review of the second version), "Letter Of The Law" and "Labor Of Love", both of which were originally released in 1982 in very limited numbers. The B-side of "Street Level" is great (listen to "Sigrid Jane" from this LP), the rest pretty boring, especially both 1982 LP's as they feature mainly Tom Howard compositions and though sung by Larry Norman, it has little to do with Larry Norman's own song writing and performing. The "Barchaeology" box introduced me to the first version of "Street Level"; at the time I didn't know of its existence and to be honest, for years I thought that they mixed it up, not willing to believe there was another version.

Two stars, but still happy to have this box again...

 
     
     
 
July 24, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Only Visiting This Planet (Verve LP V6-5092, 1972)
 
     
 

 
     
 

"Only Visiting This Planet" was released one year prior to "So Long Ago The Garden" and it was also recorded at AIR Studios in London, England*. It's another essential Larry Norman album, featuring many of his classic songs. My favourite tracks are "Six O'Clock News", "Pardon Me" and "Reader's Digest". More famous are "I Wish We'd All Been Ready", which I don't like at all, and "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music" - a fine rocker with somewhat outdated lyrics. I bought this album recently via Discogs because it was sealed, as a replacement of the copy I had (which is now on Discogs!). I hoped for some differences but the pressings appeared to be exactly the same.

* From Wikipedia:
"Associated Independent Recording is an independent recording company founded in London in 1965 by record producer Sir George Martin and his business partner John Burgess, after their departure from Parlophone. The first album produced by George Martin by his new company was the Beatles' "Rubber Soul", recorded at Abbey Road Studios. The leading independent recording studio complex was founded in 1969. Since then AIR has operated its own professional audio recording facilities, AIR Studios."

 
     
     
 
July 16, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: So Long Ago The Garden (MGM LP 2315 286, 1973)
 
     
 

 
     
 
A friend of me and I have a long history of joking about a French pressing of Larry Norman's "So Long Ago The Garden", especially when one of us went out on vacation, if necessary changing France to Spain, Italy or whatever location we went to. There were rumors about this album, but it took years before we found out it actually existed. I bought it on Discogs and find some pride in owning a copy of this version, I must admit. Apart from that, and opposite to the previous review, this is a great album and definitely worth to own. It should be an MGM pressing though, as the reissues on Larry Norman's own labels (Phydeaux and Solid Rock) are different (some differences in song selection and takes) and not as outstanding as the original pressing. After all the years I know and own this album, I'm still a sucker for songs like "Christmas Time" and "Nightmare".
 
     
     
 
July 14, 2020
 
 
Larry Norman: Street Level (One Way LP 7937/3973, 1971)
 
     
 

 
     
 
"Street Level" was Larry Norman's second solo LP and it exists in two versions where the b-sides are completely different. The first version is also known as the gold label version. The LP I bought is the first pressing of the second version; it has the same Carlos Ave. address as the second pressing of the first (gold label) version. These details made it attractive to buy this version, also because I'm currently updating my Larry Norman discography. The music is not too interesting though. The a-side (the same on both versions) features live solo performances, the b-side features studio performances with a band, but recorded under rather primitive circumstances. The so-called gold label version has a much, much better b-side, where Larry Norman could use a more professional studio and more professional musicians. It's surprising to see this version was replaced by the more primitive (and more outspoken christian - is that why?) second version.
 
     
     
 
July 8, 2020
 
 
Errol Garner: Erroll Garner Plays Misty (Mercury LP 60662, 1962/8?)
 
     
 

 
     
 

Erroll Garner plays piano with the greatest of ease, but this repertoire seems to be meant as a background for a romantic dinner for two. That can be convenient for sure, but... well... check the title track of this still very sympathetic YouTube clip.

I found this album, a 1980's reissue, in a thrift store and decided to buy it because it was cheap, in near perfect condition and because I came to respect Erroll Garner. I learned more about him recently through his 1950's recordings, released on the Philips (Minigroove) label.

 
     
     
 
July 6, 2020
 
 
The Billy Taylor Trio with Candido (Prestige LP 7051, 1956/5?)
Lee Morgan: The Cooker (Blue Note/Tone Poet LP 81578, 1958/2020)
 
     
 

 

 
 

 
     
 

Two fine jazz albums; the first being a second pressing from the late 1950's or early 1960's (US Prestige, Bergenfield Ave. address), the second being a recent reissue in Blue Note's Tone Poet series.

Listen to Billy Taylor's "Declivity"
Listen to Lee Morgan's "A Night In Tunisia"

 
     
     
 
June 4, 2020
 
 
Herbie Hancock: The Prisoner (Blue Note/Tone Poet LP 84321, 1969/2020)
Duke Ellington: Money Jungle (United Artists/Tone Poet LP 15017, 1963/2020)
 
     
 

 

 
 

 
     
 

Two reissues in Blue Note's Tone Poet series; "The Prisoner" by Herbie Hancock and "Money Jungle" by Duke Ellington. Hancock's LP was originally issued on Blue Note in 1969, it was his last album for the label. Ellington's LP was originally issued on United Artists in 1963. Blue Note bought the rights of the recordings, I think, and confusingly released it as if it was part of the Blue Note Legacy, which it is not of course. Similar things happened before; I remember the 20 CD Blue Note box, released in conjunction with NRC Handelsblad, which featured many titles from other labels.

Apart from this critical note, Blue Note released two fine albums. Herbie Hancock was exploring new horizons which would evolve to his famous 1970's recordings, with "Head Hunters" (1973) being his most succesfull album. I prefer his earlier work for Blue Note, but "The Prisoner" provides an enjoyable listen.

Through my work for the Philips Minigroove website (philips-minigroove.com) I started to discover the work of Duke Ellington. He's been a pivotal figure in the development of jazz, both as a bandleader and a musician (piano player), being active for over 50 years. Most of his earlier recordings feature big band jazz; this album however, was recorded as a trio, with jazz greats Charlie Mingus on bass and Max Roach on drums. Ellington was 63 at the time of the recordings (Sept. 17, 1962). Interesting stuff!

Both albums are housed in cool, old-school, tip-on sleeves, Hancock's album in a regular cover while Ellington's album comes in a gatefold cover with session photos on the inside. Both albums were mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, providing the best possible audio quality.

To listen, check these links:
- Herbie Hancock: I Have A Dream
- Duke Ellington: Wig Wise

 
     
     
 
May 20, 2020
 
 

Clara Haskil: 7.1.1895 - 7.12.1960 (Philips 02073, 1961)

 
     
 

 
     
 
Every now and then I buy Philips Minigroove albums or singles/EP's, whenever I can use them for my website philips-minigroove.com. I buy these mostly from thrift stores and I think 80-90% is classical music. I'm not too much of a classical music lover, but nevertheless it's very interesting to find these old artifacts (1950's to early 60's) and I'm happy with all of them. As for classical music, what I like best is chamber music or anything else performed by small groups or soloists. This album features pianist Clara Haskil solo and she plays Beethoven's Sonates No. 17 and 18 (recorded in 1960). The album was probably released in early 1961, after Haskil's tragic death on December 7, 1960. I don't think I ever said this before about a classical album, but I like it a lot. Maybe I even love it... these are heart warming pieces of piano virtuosity with no special accent on the virtuosity. This is human music, pure, delicate and so far away from all of today's madness. Listen to side 1 of this record here and read more about Clara Haskil's life here.
 
     
     
 
April 17, 2020
 
 
Original Five Blind Boys (self-titled) (Vee-Jay 5004, 1959)
Various: All God's Children Got Shoes (Choice 502, 1960)
Loving Sisters: Trying Time (Peacock 125, 1965)
 
     
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 
     
 

Lately, I've been buying more gospel albums than I used to do, but it's pretty much coincidental as I was just happy to find some more nice original pressings from the same Discogs seller I've been buying from before (see previous three albums on this page).

The Original Five Blind Boys were a legendary group including Percell Perkins and Archie Brownlee. Brownlee died of pneumonia while touring in New Orleans on February 8, 1960 at the age of 34. So, that was pretty soon after the release of this LP. The group recorded for Peacock, Vee-Jay, Checker and a bunch of other labels. This Vee-Jay LP has a couple of nice performances, though I wish there were more uptempo songs, like "My Robe Will Fit Me". Slow movers can be fine as well, of course, like "Oh Why", but I usually prefer the holy rollers.

The Choice compilation album "All God's Children Got Shoes" sure is a rare find. The label was run by Ozzie Cadena and he used Rudy Van Gelder's studios for recording the artists featured here (see cover image). Ozzie Cadena is famous for recording several jazz greats for labels as Blue Note and Prestige. The gospel output by the Choice label is interesting, where the groups vary from a better amateur level to a more professional one. The opening tracks by the Southern Larks are not equalled by what follows, although there sure are other enjoyable moments. Too bad, no tracks are available on YouTube.

The Loving Sisters (a family group) also recorded for the Peacock label. It appears this was the only label they recorded for, between 1962 and 1978. I used to have a French pressing of their debut album, but now I found an original US pressing. I'm not a huge fan of female groups, but there are a couple of exceptions, and the Loving Sisters surely are above average for me. The title track "Trying Time" is a superb song which ranks high among my all-time gospel favourites.

 
     
     
 
March 30, 2020
 
 

Fairfield Four: The Bells Are Tolling (Old Town 103, 1962)

 
     
 

 
     
 

I already had a reissue LP and a CD issue of this title, but always hoped to find an original pressing one day. I have been lucky and could buy this one from the same Discogs seller who sold me both Nashboro LP's (see below).

The Fairfield Four has been in the (gospel) spotlights for decades (starting in 1921, almost a century ago, but the group disbanded in 1960 to re-form in 1980) and they were featured in the "Brother Where Art Thou" movie by the Coen Brothers (2000), which was probably their best-known achievement. Most of their early (and later, post 1980) recordings were acapella but in the late 1950's the group recorded with a band (guitar, bass, drums) for the Champion and Old Town labels. I prefer gospel singing with (minimal) accompaniment and their 1959-1960 recordings fit my taste. When their Old Town album was released in 1962, the group had fallen apart, and the album wasn't received the way it should, remaining largely unnoticed. The 1973 reissue on the Athens label (with a different cover, no title and the group name expanded to the Famous Fairfield Four) sold much better and is still rather easy to obtain (my copy is now for sale on Discogs). Ace Records (the famous UK reissue label) released the album with the original artwork on CD in 2000 and I guess it was the "Brother Where Art Thou" movie which initiated this release. The u-card of this CD-release reads: "An incredibly rare 1962 album from Old Town that represents post-war gospel quartet music at its very best". Well, it actually was a sextet, but you better listen to the title track here and see for yourself.

 
     
     
     
 

March 21, 2020

 
 

Various: Best Loved Gospel Songs, Volume 2 (Nashboro 7015, 1963)

 
     
 

 
     
 

It's always a pleasure to find original US gospel LP's from the 1950's or 1960's. I bought this one together with the next album listed below (Swanee Quintet) on Discogs. They were friendly priced and appeared to be in much better condition than expected.

This early compilation features six groups and one female artist which were all on Ernie Young's Nashboro label: the Boyer Brothers, the Sons Of The South, the Silvertone Singers, the Jordan River Singers, the Radio Four, the Christland Singers and Lucille Barbee. The album is the continuation of Nashboro LP 7006 (1961) and like these albums, they give a good impression of what black gospel was like in the south, during the 1950's and early 1960's. And some of that stuff will make you jump and shout. Check the Radio Four's "An Earnest Prayer".

 
     
     
 

March 21, 2020

 
 

Swanee Quintet: Songs That Lift The Soul (Nashboro 7026, 1965)

 
     
 

 
     
 
The Swanee Quintet started back in 1945 with their first record released in 1951 on the Nashboro label (Ernie Young's label, the parent label of Excello, the famous blues label that brought us Slim Harpo, Lightnin' Slim and many others). The Swanees stayed with Nashboro during their early carreer until 1980's. I never paid much attention to their post-1970 recordings, but I really love their 50's and 60's output. This LP, their fifth for the label, was recorded and released in 1965. It has the rather typical 1960's sound of Nashboro; Ernie Young liked tremolo in the guitar, slapback in the bass and reverb from the vocals and he built a primitive studio in the attic of his record mart, efficient at generating the label's signature echo. At the time, the group consisted of “Little” Johnny Jones, Rev. Ruben W. Willingham, Charles Barnwell, James Anderson, Rufus Washington and William Crawford. Listen to "You Better Mind" from this album.
 
     
     
 

March 12, 2020

 
 

National Independent Gospel Singers Of Atlanta, Georgia: Thank You Lord (Sue 423 004, 196?)

 
     
 

 
     
 

Sue Records ("The Sound of Soul") was an American record label founded by Henry 'Juggy' Murray and Bobby Robinson in 1957. Subsidiaries on the label were Symbol Records, Crackerjack Records, Broadway Records and Eastern Records. Sue also financed and distributed A.F.O. Records owned by Harold Battiste in New Orleans.

In 1957, Juggy Murray partnered with Bobby Robinson to create Sue Records in New York City. The label's first release was "Vengeance (Will Be Mine)" by the Matadors later that year. Sue's first hit record came in 1958 with "Itchy Twitchy Feeling" by Bobby Hendricks which peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. Success continued into the sixties with a handful of singles by R&B duo Ike & Tina Turner between 1960 and 1962. "Mockingbird" by brother-and-sister duo Inez and Charlie Foxx was a hit on the subsidiary label Symbol in 1963. Sue also had hits on the charts with "Stick Shift" by the Duals, "Hurt by Love" by Inez Foxx and "That's How Heartaches Are Made" by Justine "Baby" Washington. Sue also released early recordings by the soul singer Don Covay and albums by the soul-jazz organist Jimmy McGriff. Guitarist Jimi Hendrix signed his first recording contract with Sue in 1965, but no recordings were released.

Murray initially released his records in the UK through Decca's London Records but switched to a licensing deal with Island Records in 1964. This deal resulted in a split in the ownership of the Sue name. Island used the label to distribute Sue in the UK. Problems began when Island also leased discs from other US labels that interested them and released them on UK Sue too - which was not in the agreement. Murray terminated the agreement and returned to Decca in 1966.

After failing to chart in the U.S., Murray sold the Sue masters to United Artists Records in 1968. A reissue of the "Harlem Shuffle" by Bob & Earl made the Top 10 in Britain in 1969. Murray retained rights to the Sue name and constantly attempted to re-activate the label until his death in 2005. The Sue Records catalog eventually ended up with EMI, and then with Universal Music Group upon EMI's being bought out in 2012.

All of the above was taken from Wikipedia.

The LP I got in today was the only gospel release on the Sue label. I also have the original US version (1960), and this is a French reissue, likely from the early 1960's. It's a fine album by a veteran group, featuring Edward Owens, James Jordan, Robert "Bubba" Owens, Oscar Faniel, Zerman Ware, Robert Lee Atkins, Robert Harris, Luther Tompkins and Willie Lewis, with accompaniment by Bobby Moore (bass), Buddy Harmon (drums) and an unknown guitar player. Too bad, YouTube doesn't have anything available from this album.

 
     
     
 

March 5, 2020

 
 

Hank Mobley: Poppin' (Blue Note/Tone Poet B0030597-01, 2020)

 
     
 

 
     
 

Hank Mobley was one of the great saxophone players on the Blue Note label. His "Soul Station" LP (1960) was one of my early jazz purchases and I still cherish that album. "Poppin", released in Blue Note's Tone Poet series, features some fine material recorded by Hank Mobley, Art Farmer, Pepper Adams, Sonny Clark, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones in 1957. It remained unreleased until 1980, when the Japanese United Artists/King label made it available for their home market. The album features five compositions with all but one written by Mobley: "Poppin", "Gettin' Into Something", "Tune Up" and "East Of Brooklyn". "Darn That Dream", which I always found a misfit track on various reissues of Miles Davis' "Birth Of The Cool" sessions (because of the vocals), was written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Eddie Delange and gets an all instrumental treatment here. I can appreciate that much better. Although credited to Hank Mobley, "Tune Up" was described as "a cracking version of a Miles Davis tune from 1956" in a review on Udiscovermusic website. From that same review: "Despite its high quality, "Poppin" was left in the can for 23 years until producer Michael Cuscuna dug it out of the archives for a Japanese vinyl release in 1980. It has now been resurrected again, via Blue Note’s new Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series, meaning that this forgotten gem has an opportunity to shine anew." Nothing more to add to that, except that this is another fine sounding reissue, mastered by Kevin Gray and released in in a tip-on fold-out cover with Francis Wolff photos on the inside.

 
     
     
 

March 3, 2020

 
 

Grant Green: Nigeria (Blue Note/Tone Poet B0031299-01, 2020)

 
     
 

 
     
 

The material on this album by Grant Green was originally recorded in 1962 but first released in 1980. It was reissued several times, but now it was picked up by Joe Harley to get its definitive release in Blue Note's Tone Poet series. I often find jazz guitar albums of somewhat limited interest if it's a performence by the guitarist only (with the help of just a bass player and drummer). Luckely, most Grant Green albums feature piano and sometimes other instruments as well, which adds to a better listening experience. No exception for this album, which features the piano of Sonny Clark, bass by Sam Jones and drums by no-one less then Art Blakey. Of course, the guitar dominates, but Grant Green is amongst the best jazz guitar players, so that can't be seen as a disadvantage, although I prefer the style of players like Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrell. "Nigeria" features a set of rather cheerful tunes. "Airegin" ("Nigeria" backwards, the link goes to Grant Green's interpretation) is a Sonny Rollins composition, first issued in 1954 on an album Rollins did with Miles Davis. "It Ain't Necessarily So" is a Gershwin composition from the Porgy And Bess opera (1935) and "I Concentrate On You" was written by Cole Porter for the film "Broadway Melody of 1940" (1940). "The Things We Did Last Summer" was written Jule Styne (composition, lyrics for the original version were done by Sammy Cahn). The most well known version is the 1946 hit version by Jo Stafford (the link above connects to this version). Last week I heard the song "I Know What You Did Last Summer" by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello on the radio (never heard it before, but it caught my attention). I'm not sure if it was meant to be related to the old song, probably not, but for me it kinda is because of this coincidence. The album's closing track is "The Song Is You", another jazz standard - this one being written by Jerome Kern (the original version has lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) for the musical "Music in the Air" (1932). In later years the song was often associated with Frank Sinatra (the link above connects to this version).

All in all a fine album, with liner notes by Ben Sidran, mastered by Kevin Gray and housed in a tip-on fold-out cover with Francis Wolff photos on the inside.

 
     
     
 

February 21, 2020

 
 

Herbie Hancock: Inventions & Dimensions (Blue Note / Music Matters 84147, 2012, 2LP at 45rpm)

 
     
 

 
     
 

Herbie Hancock started his recording career on the Blue Note label, this being his third album from 1964 (previous titles were "Takin' Off" and "My Point Of View"). "Inventions & Dimensions" with its cool, almost intimidating cover, was made with Paul Chambers (bass), Willie Bobo (drums & timbales) and Osvaldo Martinez (conga & bongos). The last two names suggest some Latin American influences (see Bobo's LP review below) and that's what you hear in these otherwise adventurous jazz improvisations.

Since an original Blue Note pressing demands quite a few bucks, I have been looking for this 2012 pressing from the Music Matters stable for quite some time. It's a collectors item now too and I didn't get this cheap, but it's worth it and it will become more valuable over time. It was released on two 45rpm LP's (not my favourite format) and housed in a nice tip-on gatefold cover with session photos on the inside. The album was recently reissued by Blue Note (80 Vinyl Reissue Series), also a fine and good sounding reissue and much cheaper too, housed in a regular, non-gatefold cover.

 
     
     
 

January 15, 2020

 
 

Willie Bobo: Uno Dos Tres 1.2.3 (C026, 2019)
Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Gospel Train (C025, 2019)
Donald Byrd: Fancy Free (C017, 2018)
Lightmen Plus One: Energy Control Center (C012, 2018)

'Vinyl Me, Please' reissues

 
     
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 

 
 

 
     
 

These four albums, ordered from 'Vinyl Me Please' last year, were finally delivered today. 'Vinyl Me, Please' is a US company/record club, bringing fine reissues on the market (usually leased from other companies), but I guess it all grew too fast, resulting in a logistical mess at the end of last year. Apologies made, which I appreciated a lot, and today this episode came to an end when I received my order.

Willie Bobo's "Uno Dos Tres" is a friendly and cheerful latin jazz album, featuring twelve vocal and instumental tracks. Bobo was a percussionist and he and his group recorded this album in 1966, at Rudy van Gelder's Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Originally released on Verve V/V6-8648.

For several years I bought nothing but gospel records. These times are over, but I still enjoy listening to some of those black gospel shakers. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is one of my favorite female gospel artists and I was surprised to see "Gospel Train" being re-released. I have the original album but I was just curious what this one would sound like. No disappointment - this music hits you right in the face! The mono sound is clean, dynamic and balanced. Uptempo and slower tracks are merged with Sister's singing and guitar solos. The tip-on sleeve looks fine (with a great picture where Sister Rosetta Tharpe holds a nice Gibson Les Paul Goldtop), but the colors aren't true to the original, too much reds mixed in (not too obvious in the picture above). Originally released on Mercury MG-20201.

Trumpetist Donald Byrd is most famous for his Blue Note recordings. He was a versatile artist and "Fancy Free" shows our man in good shape releasing four groovy jazz tunes. The recordings were made in 1969 with the help of Frank Foster, Lew Tabackin, Julian Priester, Duke Pearson, Roland Wilson, Jimmy Ponder, Joe Chambers, Nat Bettis, Jerry Dodgion and Leo Morris. Duke Pearson produced the album, and Rudy van Gelder seems to not have been involved this time (surprising!). Originally released on Blue Note BST 84319.

The fourth and last LP in this set, called "Energy Control Centre", is by the Lightmen plus One, a group I hadn't heard from before. The hype sticker on this release says: "Revolutionay, spiritual jazz from the unlikely city of Houston, Texas: the definitive issue". The original single album from 1972 is a rare collectable and it was re-released here as a double album featuring some previously unreleased alternate takes. I listened to it once today and I think I liked what I heard; moody jazz improvisations with some unexpected weirdness thrown in at times. I need to listen more often. Originally released on Lightnin' LP-2001. The double LP reissue is on Now Again Records which was concurrently released by 'Vinyl Me, Please' as a special release by this record club.

All of these four albums came in nice and glossy tip-on sleeves and were pressed on 180 grams vinyl. The sound quality is very satisfying. Michael Fremer (Analog Planet) says: "If you'd have told me a few years ago when Vinyl Me, Please launched, that within a few years the curated based vinyl subscription service would be at the top of the vinyl reissue heap, I'd have said you've been inhaling too many PVC fumes". Good things do happen!

 
     
     
 

January 12, 2020

 
 

Rita Reys: The Cool Voice Of Rita Reys (Philips B 08006 L, 1957)
(with the Jazz Messengers and the Wessel Ilcken Combo)

 
     
 

 
     
 

Rita Reys had a prominent place amongst the top jazz singers in Europe. "The Cool Voice Of Rita Reys", her first album, features Rita Reys with the Wessel Ilcken Combo on side 1 (recorded in Hilversum, the Netherlands, 1955-56) and with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers on side 2 (recorded in New York, USA, 1956). It was first released in the USA (Columbia CL 903) in 1956, a few months before it was released in the Netherlands (and Europe, and other places).

Rita Reys proves to be a more than competent jazz singer on this collection of standards although it doesn't thrill me the way some American singers do.

I found this original LP in a second hand record store in Nijmegen; it's a collector's item but not in a very good condition. My Japanese 1993 pressing will be on the turntable when I need to hear it. Music On Vinyl re-released it in 2018.

 
     
     
 

January 3, 2020

 
 

Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (Impex/Columbia IMP 6020/CS 9451, 1967/2013, stereo reissue)

     
 

 
     
 

The postman delivered this album at my front door late in the afternoon; it was ordered at JPC at the end of 2019.

This is a 2-LP reissue of the 1967 Columbia LP by Impex Records and the back cover says the following: "The session recordings for Thelonious Monk's 1967 classic "Straight, No Chaser" ran longer than a single LP could hold. Rather than put out a more costly 2-LP set, Columbia edited down the tracks chosen for the record to fit a 1-LP format - a common practice at the time. Now, for the first time ever on 180-gram vinyl, Impex Records brings you the complete, extended takes of these breathtaking tunes, plus a great interpretation of "Green Chimneys", keeping fully intact and deepening the listener's appreciation of Monk's singular musical vision and the near-instinctive communication between Monk and his sidemen, Charlie Rouse, Larry Gale and Ben Riley."

For completeness sake, it should be added that this album was released on CD in 1996 including the complete versions, the bonus track "Green Chimneys" (a title first issued on Monk's "Underground" LP from 1968) and two more bonus tracks.

"Straight, No Chaser" is a fine album which fits well with the other Columbia LP's I have ("Monk's Dream" and "It's Monk's Time"). The tunes are recognisable but have loads of unexpected twists and sounds. This Impex release sounds great too, which comes as no surprise as the (all analog) mastering was done by Kevin Gray (Cohearant Audio). The heavy tip-on cover sure adds luster to this attractive but expensive reissue.

 
     
     
 

January 2, 2020

 

The Dizzy Gillespie Octet - The Greatest Trumpet Of Them All (Verve MG V-8352, 1959, early pressing, mono)

     
 

 
     
 

Although I bought quite a few records today, I consider this the first album of 2020 for my collection, as the other purchases were all done for the Philips-Minigroove website (and won't be discussed here).

"The Greatest Trumpet Of Them All" features Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Gigi Gryce, Henry Coker, Pee-Wee Moore, Ray Bryant, Tommy Bryant and Charlie Persip. These gentlemen bring a rather relaxing set of jazz tunes, very suitable for a rainy sunday afternoon. I like it and this old US Verve pressing sounds fine too.

The Waxtime label reissued this on vinyl in 2010 and again in 2016 (with a different cover), so Discogs says, but for around the same money you can find an original pressing which is preferrable. Waxtime doesn't have a great reputation either.