It is curious what you pull out wading thru piles of records in charity shops…. coz I was in one again yesterday and wedged between platters by the likes of Jim Reeves, Conway Twitty, Sidney Devine and The Alexander Brothers, I pulled out some class vinyl in the form of the second eponymous Gavin Christopher album (the 1979 RSO Curtom one) For those that don’t know, Christopher was mentored by Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield (hence his late-seventies signing to Curtom), played early on with Chaka Khan and other future members of Rufus, and was a quick off-the-mark industry mover on the hip-hop scene. His 1979 outing is pretty standard soul from that era, but with a great Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson take-off track at the end, Be Your Own Best Friend. But that ain’t the only good ‘thang’ here, I like Dancin’ Up A Storm almost as much. You can groove to everything on the platter and while it ain’t the greatest thing I ever heard, it was worth quite a bit more than the quid I paid for it.
I also picked up an album by Dawn featuring Tony Orlando, a British Bell release named after their biggest hit Tie A Yellow Ribbon – and by the time this was made, Orlando was backed by ex-Motown/Stax session singers Joyce Vincent and Telma Hopkins – and the laid back soul of tunes like Easy Evil (with the lead vocal sung by Vincent) are way superior to their hit singles (although I still love Knock Three Times)…. When an album, as this one does, carries sleeve notes by BBC Radio One breakfast show DJ of the time Tony Blackburn endorsing the band, you know there will be some turkeys included (aside from the title track try the cover of Peter Skeltern’s You’re A Lady, yuk!)… but then tracks like a medley of Runaway/Happy Together, the Alain Toussant tune Freedom For The Stallion, and the closing ballad I Don’t Know You Anymore (Hopkins is lead on that) make up for this.
I nearly always find it gets to be a bit pick and mix when you venture into the worlds of bubblegum soul and easy listening… My previous charity shop vinyl buy a few months earlier had consisted mostly of dance orientated 12 inch singles at 50p a shot (Taffy’s Step By Step, Joy’s Bloody Murder On That Dance Floor etc.), but much to the bemusement of the woman who sold me the records also included Bert Kaempfert Now! Again, with Kaempfert’s 1971 chessey easy release there are turkey’s riding shoulder to shoulder with hip-shaking covers like Put You Hand In The Hand and Proud Mary (and while the latter might not touch the Ike & Tina Turner version, it isn’t shamed by it)… And as finger poppin’ cover of Paul McCartney’s Oh Woman Oh Why reminded me, I much prefer Kaempfert’s production on the first Beatles sessions (with Tony Sheridan singing most of the leads), to their later work with George Martin at the controls…
My third buy yesterday was a stab in the dark, Classics To Calypso by The Barbados Steel Orchestra. I liked the sleeve and figured it was worth taking a chance on despite the fact I knew nothing about it. The cover seemed to credit the record company as Discovery Bay Inn of Bridgetown, Barbados – but the label indicated those responsible were Total Sounds of Kingston, Jamaica. And how could I resist a piece of vinyl manufactured at 4 Retirement Road? That said, the outer sleeve was printed in Canada… Anyway, once I’d parted with a round pound for the plastic, I discovered why this platter looked unplayed – it was unplayed coz the hole in the centre is too small to get it on a deck! Time to get my pen knife out I guess….
I also clocked a really ugly looking 1980s thrash metal album called Pray For War by Virus, I’d never heard of it but it was on an indie label and I figured that if the vinyl was in good or very good condition I could probably resell it for at least £10 profit and possibly a lot more… But when I took the record out of the sleeve it was knackered, so I put it back. After an internet check, I can say it looks like it goes for £20 or so in very good nick, so it clearly wasn’t worth the quid I’d have been charged for the platter with the amount of damage the copy to hand had sustained….
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!