Amoeblog

search for the holy grail: episode 4

Posted by Whitmore, November 11, 2007 11:32am | Post a Comment


A particularly rare and much sought after EP from Anne Briggs, The Hazards of Love from 1963 on Topic Records, draws a pretty penny these days on Ebay and other auction sites. Though she never sold a vast number of albums, Briggs was a leading figure on the English folk music revival of the mid 1960’s. First gaining prominence as a traditional a cappella singer, (“The Hazards of Love” has just one song complemented by any instrument, a bouzouki), by the late sixties Briggs would add a bit of instrumentation to her recordings but more significantly she would also include some of her own compositions. Her musical legacy is significant; it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say she was the defining voice of the era, influencing virtually every folk singer from June Tabor, to Sandy Denny, Jacqui Mcshee, Maddy Prior, to Eliza Carthy and Beth Orton. Many of her songs have been recorded by some of these artists plus others such as Pentangle, Bert Jansch, and Dorris Henderson.

Anne Briggs has always been something of an elusive and slightly mysterious figure on the British folk music scene. In the 2006 documentary, Folk Britannia, Richard Thompson recollects that he only ever stumbled upon Anne Briggs twice; and on both occasions she was drunk and unconscious. Her entire catalogue consists of only 3 full lengths albums and this EP, and half of those recordings are her singing completely unaccompanied. The common explanation for her limited output, Briggs retired from recording in 1973, has been her own anxiety and apprehension about the sound of her recorded voice. But whatever the reason, it’s been over 30 years since Anne Briggs has produced any new recordings, and it is unlikely anything new will come to light soon.  

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the untamed touch of unbounded evil

Posted by Whitmore, October 30, 2007 08:11pm | Post a Comment

I can state with ease, and it is a well established fact, I am something of a record geek. I prefer the term ‘record collector’ or even ‘music buff,’ but I can live with the ‘geek’ moniker.  Now I also know as a matter of fact, my wife wishes wholeheartedly I wasn’t such a collector/geek. See, there’s a particular and peculiar trait in people like me, and it’s called “the completist syndrome.” The definition: “somebody who collects a particular kind of thing and wants to obtain an example of everything available, even of inferior items.” I can’t just buy a CD of one of my favorite artists and be content, I feel compelled to collect everything in their discography … everything.

Let’s say I’m a Paula Abdul fan. I would have to collect, not just all her full length CD’s and Albums, but I would find it compulsory to track down every single variant of "Straight Up" or "Opposites Attract" in its many forms: 7” singles, CD singles, 12 inch singles, remix here, remix there…

side note: I ‘m not a Paula Abdul fan at all. In fact I can easily state, again as fact, I think she erred in not fulfilling her destiny as a Lakers Cheerleader. In fact, I believe her going into the music industry caused some kind of “butterfly effect,”  which might explain the personality of our chaotic American lives since the eighties. And to think, I always blamed everything on Ronald Wilson Reagan, (here’s one reason, just add up the letters, he’s President 666. Coincidence? There are no coincidences! Know what I mean ...)

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Diary of a Stewardess

Posted by Whitmore, September 22, 2007 10:55pm | Post a Comment


Only in the middle of Hollywood would you ever find a 7 inch record like this. Yeah it’s a theme song from a soundtrack, but not from your typical movie, this 45 pop record is from the soundtrack of a soft-core pornography hit called "Diary of a Stewardess." Imagine the treasures we could have unearthed if only Amoeba hadn’t opened its doors on Sunset Blvd, but instead, opened for business deep in the heart of the America’s well lit, scantily clad, steady-cam ready, zoom in, action, work-it-a-little-slower-honey, bedroom community known as the San Fernando Valley.

Released in 1972 and sung by Bob Grabeau, Diary of a Stewardess b/w Fasten Your Set Belts (released on Segue Records and based in Canoga Park!) is an actual artifact of the valley’s 1970’s pop-porn culture, a culture that resurfaced with the 1997 film “Boogie Nights.”  I bet many of our Dads saw “Stewardess” in a triple bill with “Deep Throat” and “Behind the Green Door.” Okay … maybe not your Dad …

The song Diary of a Stewardess was co-written by the legendary Buddy Feyne, celebrated for his swinging hep-cat lyrics and penning some of the biggest hits of the '30s and '40s, including Tuxedo Junction, Jersey Bounce and After Hours. During his career he wrote more than 400 songs collaborating with legends like Raymond Scott, Al Sherman, Avery Parrish, Louis Jordan, Erskine Hawkins, Lester Young, and even Milton Berle. Feyne’s compositions might even be considered essential to the hipsters of that era, actually any era, as a matter of fact: Bee Bop On the Range, After School Swing Session, Aristocrat of Harlem, Cream Cheese and Jelly, She Works In Men's Pajamas - the list goes on and on.  Feyne also wrote the original lyrics to something called Dolomite that a certain bon vivant named Rudy Ray Moore re-navigated into his own signature song.

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search for the holy grail, episode three

Posted by Whitmore, September 18, 2007 09:28am | Post a Comment


In 1965 when rest of the world was doing the Frug, the Swim or the Monkey ... the Pony, the Watusi, the Jerk or even the Clam to James Brown’s Papas Got a Brand New Bag, discothèques in Scotland and Northern England were dancing till the wee hours of the morn to a great single on Hi Records from Tommy Jay called Tender Love b/w Tomorrow.

Now Tender Love isn’t exactly your endearingly romantic piece that such a title might suggest. The song is a bit dark, but with a hypnotically grooving riff. Tender Love is the name of a girl the singer has fallen for, and she has “eyes that seem to shine like gold.” Needless to say, romance isn’t going to work out here, and if you’ve been around the block at least once, you know at least one character by songs end is going to be dead. Now that’s a track I can sink my teeth into, or at least, after a few pints, dance to till the sun comes up … and I`ll be on top, you`ll be right down there, looking up … Anyway, is this the Holy Grail of Northern Soul? It has my vote!

search for the holy grail, episode two

Posted by Whitmore, September 16, 2007 05:37pm | Post a Comment


From the 'A-list' of rare British psych singles, on Immediate Records: Black Sheep R.I.P. b/w Sad by the Australian Playboys, featuring Normie Rowe, one of the biggest stars in 1960’s Australia and a perennially figure on the music scene down under.

The 'A' side is a trippy version of the classic nursery rhyme and is pretty good on its own, but it’s the flip side here that is the nugget. Sad is drenched in a wall of sound, distorted and jagged guitars shiver through the unpredictable tempo changes as the lead vocals of Normie Rowe seem coated by the oddly disembodied harmonies, it’s a helluva piece of psychedelic pop. Unfortunately this Australian Playboys single didn’t sell well, something that was strangely typical of many of Immediate Records great releases back then. Today though, for freakbeat and psychedelic record collectors, it is a highly desirable piece and goes for a very pretty penny! Is this the Holy Grail of British freakbeat collectors? Well, maybe one of the Holy Grails.

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