Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto

Ghetto_And_Pike The Preample:

Summer here but it’s almost gone.  I’ve been spinning a shit load of vinyl, but have been out and about all summer and haven’t committed to typing a write-up.  This shit’s actually time consuming I’m finding.  The record’s done in under an hour but it’s 4 times that to post.  I was hoping using a computer would really speed up the process.  Anyways, playing a compilation tonight for the first time that I’m hoping will be worthy while sipping on my favorite whiskey.  I’m going to try and shave an hour or so, give me some hope of prolific posting come fall.

The Record:

Artist: Various / The Philadelphia International All-Stars

Title: Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto

Label: Columbia / Philadelphia International Records

Year: 1977

Catalog: PZ 34659

Country: Canada

Notes:

I picked this LP up last weekend at a garage sale, $2.  It seemed interesting enough, with the cover black and white strongly contrasting, and I’ve listen to enough funk compilations to know this just may be dirty funky.  The only bands I’ve heard about listed on the lower right cover are the O’Jays…figured that’s a good sign, right?  Both sides are a strong VG+ lightly played; the cover VG+ with a touch of wear.  No clue of on mastering and pressing plant…the matrix code hints at CBS Don Mills mastering, but there’s no faintly etched “DM” that’s common on Canadian pressings from Don Mills.

It’s a compilation, but The Philadelphia International All-Stars get top billing including caps along the top of the labels.

Matrix:

Side 1 – AL-34659-1A-2G:

Side 2 – BL-34659-1A-2G:

Barcode:

Mastering: ?

Pressing Plant: ?

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/3041247

The Accompaniment: 

I can’t stop drinking it.  Pike Creek again (not Pike’s Creek which I’m prone to calling it).  It’s officially my favorite Canadian spirit; a staple in the cupboard.  And the best thing is the LCBO at Dufferin & Wilson scans at the wrong price!  Buy it there, and I guarantee $9.95 less than listed price…

The Listen: 

I had a buddy over for some vinyl and drinking tonight.  Spun some killer records and I polished off the last third of a bottle of Pike.  No worries…I see him to his cab, take a minute to say hi to the neighbor over the fence and crack open a new bottle.  I’m flying and anticipation is high as I drop the needle.  Lou Rawls opens up with Trade Winds, a smooth number (a little too smooth for my liking to be honest) reminiscent of an afro crooner.  The orchestration is kinda cheesy.  Actually it is cheesy.  Not liking this shit at all…this comp is no longer looking promising!  The sound is OK though, nice clear vocals and tacky instrumentation, with no insinuation of surface noise.

The title track, Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto, starts with a soliloquy…”Garbage 2 or 3 stories high”…fuck, imagine that.  Nice driving beat though, I’m feeling it before the song breaks into a disco funk jam.  I like it but this isn’t the best shit I’ve ever had in my pipe.  Too much disco and not enough funk.  Plenty of soul though.  The longer the song lasts (it’s a long one) the better it sounds, with a pretty cool trumpet solo and the same heavy beat.  Half way through the song, I conclude it’s actually amazing as the guitar solos and then a sax.  Awesome stuff!

Dee Dee Sharp Gamble’s Ooh Child is next and it’s a familiar tune.  Was it the Boyz In The Hood soundtrack?  A Hip Hop sample?  No clue, but the sonics are amazing.  Turning up the volume a pubic hair makes the shit sound even better.  Now Is The Time To Do It sounds “Shaft!” vintage, with lots of similarities.  “Shaft!” was never a favorite 70s sound of mine, and I don’t expect this song to be neither as there’s nothing special about it.  The last song is totally shit.  I’m not going to waste any time with The Three Degrees and Year Of Decision.  I want to fast forward and end the side.

Side 2’s opener is from a band I’ve actually heard of.  I can’t name off any songs form The O’Jays…but I’ve heard of them, so I figure The Big Gangster should be a good tune.  Nope.  TBG’s opening sucks and the song (and I’m realizing the whole LP) comes across as a public services declaration.  I want to fast forward again.

Crime Doesn’t Pay.

It does sound amazing though, but at this point it could very well be the whiskey talking.  New Day, New World Comin’ has a respectable opening, let’s see if it falls apart or not.  Vocals come in…still sounds good!  Thank you Billy Paul.  The trumpets on the left, guitar licks on the right and backup chick singers on the center all sound perfect.  Great sounding tune.  Not so much for Archie Bell & The DrellsOld PeopleOP opens with a quick, cool, panning drum across the speakers then descends into Love Boat theme crap.  I really want to just stop the record at this point.  The thought of taking this LP into the used record shop tomorrow for trade enters my head.  Some poor sucker will pay $10 for it…I paid $2…I just want my toonie back!

I’m not even paying attention to the music anymore.  Sorry Intruders and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, but I ain’t even gonna talk about your songs.  It’s just background noise at this point as I check out the cover…turns out this here’s a charity record.   I change my mind…I will say something about the last 2 songs…Save The Children is a boring song (written by Gil Scott-Heron couldn’t save it).  It just doesn’t have any redeeming qualities to necessitate a repeat listen.  Everybody’s Talkin’ sounds like an older 60s tune, the right channel’s guitar’s enjoyable as are the left channel’s drum; it’s the vocals that make this song crap.  Can’t stand it.

The Postamble:

Not recommended.  Overall, except for the Philadelphia International All-Stars and Dee Dee Sharp Gamble on Side 1, the LP was disappointing.  As a fan of 70s black music I must say this album sucks.  The music has no rawness or edge; it’s just a bad black soul disco album.  Still…the records does sound great from a sonic perspective.  I wonder how much change came from this record’s sales, cuz now’s the time to do it.  And eerily, looking at the front cover, the 12 year old girl looks to be dressed like a nun.  I wonder if it that was on purpose.

As for the Pike Creek, highly recommended.

The Fine Print:

This was not a review of the aforementioned vinyl LP or alcoholic drink, but a personal reflection on my experience of listening and imbibing.  Such factors such as vinyl condition, pressing, intoxication, room size, rig, stylus wear and mastering may result in a different listening experience.

7 thoughts on “Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto

  1. Just curious – Is the ghetto that they are referring to the one at Wilson and Bathurst? I’ve seen things go down in that neck of the woods that would make your skin crawl. Bagel World for example – ever try getting a table there at 11 on a Sunday? And don’t get me started on the No Frills. Reach for the same melon as Bubby Bertha on “Half Price Melon Monndays” and you might get your hand ripped off (at the very least you will be called an anti-semite).

    Also your liver has been living in my basement for a few months now claiming he was in an abusive relationship. Perhaps you two could go for a Pastrami Sandwich at Panzers and come to terms (ask for a free pickle – they will say no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask).

  2. Have you listened to Charles Bradley? Just watched the Netflix documentary about him recently, and now I want to check out his album!

    • Bradley and the rest of the Daptone catalog are way better than what you’ll find on this compilation. Besides Bradley, check out Sharon Jones, The Budos Band and The Sugarman 3. Great great stuff…I’ve got a couple Daptone LPs, I’ll keep them in mind for a review.

  3. The lacquer mastering of this pressing was by Columbia’s Don Mills, Ontario studios (and pressed by their pressing plant there). “-2G:” as at the tail end of each lacquer number was a code (another was -2-D). Frankford/Wayne, which would have mastered the U.S. Philadelphia International issue, had nothing to do with the Canadian release. Not until some years later did “DM” start to be seen on Don Mills pressings.

    There were other differences between Frankford/Wayne and Columbia Don Mills lacquers (besides the issues of audio quality and what generation tape dub was used to cut the lacquers, which can have an adverse effect on some people’s listening experience). The latter had 32 pitch lead-in and banding spirals, as opposed to F/W’s 15 pitch lead-ins. The 4-pitch on Columbia Don Mills lacquers was spaced more like 4.17 lpi, vs. F/W’s 3.85 lpi. Both used 32 pitch catch groove (which came after the lead-out groove, but before reaching the concentric locked groove, for the purpose of activating automatic record changers).

    Sadly, Discogs, in their label category, does not have a listing for “Columbia Records Pressing Plant, Don Mills.”

    • W.B. – Thanks for all the info…did you by chance work in the industry back in the day?

      I’ve often wondered about the Canadian matrices ending in “-2G:” and such. Any idea on what ones ending in “-2HZ:” or “HDZK:” are?

  4. I myself haven’t worked directly in the industry, but I have been to the archives of Sony Music in New York to research a discography on US Columbia Records singles from 1939 to 1974. However, I am familiar with the subtleties of Don Mills pressings. -2HZ:, -2G:, -HDZK: et al. may be codes for whoever cut the records at the Don Mills studios (which, up to the mid-to-late 1970’s, were mastered on a Scully 601 lathe from which the various “pitches” in their lead-ins, lead-outs etc., emanated). They also, I noticed, used IBM Selectric Composer fonts for their label copy from the point their pressing operations opened in 1971 until 1984 when they switched to phototypesetting fonts.

    There was also a treatise on another Canadian mastering outlet, RCA Studios in Toronto. Their codes included TG, TX, TZ, TD, TXD and so on. For example, ‘T’ of course was Toronto, G meant good audio quality, X indicated a poor source (such as hiss, pops and distortion), Z pointed to sibilance on the source, however the D is still an open question mark. A few Canadian Columbia LP’s and 45’s were cut there pre-1971. Wondering is some of the Don Mills mastering codes were along those lines.

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