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.

Music Has The Right To Children

boc_tea_and_almonds

The Preample:

I’m hungry.  I mean really hungry.  Today’s the midpoint of a week-long cleanse my wife and I are doing.  Hump day.  I won’t get into the specifics of what I can eat or drink, the one biggie that’s disallowed is alcohol.  Hence, no spirits this listen.  Instead it’s a hot cup of peppermint tea & a handful of almonds.  To make up for leanness I’m spinning a double LP today, Board of Canada’s Music Has The Right To Music.

I’ve loved BoC’s MHTRTM for a long times now.  I’m pretty sure I owned the CD at one point, but it’s always been an mp3 album for me.  When I returned to vinyl this album was part of the first wave of “must have” albums I started searching out.  This first wave also awakened me to the reality of what 90’s vinyl goes for on eBay and other online sources.  Shit’s expensive.  So alas, you stay patient, hit whatever stores you can at home and abroad, record shows too, pick & choose your moments, and hopefully that patience pays off.  This album was one of those pay offs.  Not the most I paid for a used record, but hey…it is a double LP and fucking awesome.

BoC just released their first LP in quite a number of years, so I decided to run the vinyls thru the record cleaning machine last night and giver a listen.

The Record:

Artist: Boards Of Canada

Title: Music Has The Right To Children

Label: Warp / Skam

Year: 2004 pressing (original released in 1998)

Catalog: warplp55 / skalp 1

Country: UK

Notes:

What the fuck has music done to these poor kid’s faces?  This cover is fucking spooky.  Gives me the E-B-G-Bs.  My wife can’t even lay eyes on it.  I’m guessing it looks like a family vacation pic from the 70s.  Mom and the kids are posing for the pic and dad (or is it a stranger?) has his back turned to the camera.  Everyone’s face is blanked out.  Dunno, just creepy.  But still cool, and NM so I’m not complaining.  This albums ever only been released in the UK from what I can see.  The original 1998 included braille on the cover.  This one does not, and everything points to it being a 2004 pressing.  From a fidelity perspective I guess it shouldn’t matter much since this was mostly likely recorded in hi-rez digital.  The LPs were pressed at UK’s defunct Damont Audio with no mastering credits in the deadwax.  The 4 sides average VG+ with maybe one or two sides warranting another + in the grade.

Interestingly, the grooves on Side 1 when held to light exhibit a spiral graph-like pattern.  Maybe this music is fucking math!

Matrix:

Side 1 – WARP LP 55 A2 DA MONT

Side 2 – WARP LP 55 B2 DA MONT

Side 3 – WARP LP 55 C2 DA MONT

Side 4 – WARP LP 55 D2 DA MONT

Barcode: 5021603055117

Mastering: ?

Pressing Plant: Damont Audio

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/1182271

The Accompaniment: 

Yup, you read that shit right…I’m drinking tea this evening.  Twinning’s peppermint tea to be exact.  Not the best peppermint infusion out there, but the shit’s cheaper than the tea in China.  I prefer a loose leaf peppermint/spearmint blend myself but the tin’s empty (got to schedule a trip to the local tea monger).  Twinning’s OK I guess, but not great.  I do like their Lady Grey though.  Also munched on a handful of almonds.  I’m pretty sure these are of the US variety, not Mediterranean or Middle Eastern.  I’m gonna say California?  Whatever, I love almonds and I’ve been eating them by the truck load during this cleanse.  Oh yeah…why are nuts so fucking expensive?

The Listen: 

Side One’s first song is Wildlife Analysis, a spacey ditty with someone getting off on the keyboards setting the atmosphere.  The song opens as a low passage and there’s a touch of surface noise heard during the run in and maybe the first 30 seconds of the song.  It’s a short song that segues into the eeriness that is An Eagle In Your Mind.  A break beat starts its thing a few rows behind my speakers and there’s a lot of other shit going on…stuttering static, bass, male voice murmurs and a high hat…all presented brilliantly.  This LP’s going to be a fucking trip!

I LOVE YOU

I should be rattling the windows with this song, but everyone’s asleep but me.  After a few minutes the song finally evolves into its second act, a down tempo ambiance.  I stare stupidly straight ahead between my speakers and am loving the ride until The Color Of The Fire starts.  Don’t know what to say about this one except it’s a syrupy interlude where I think a child is telling someone they love them.  Trippy.  To be honest I don’t know if that was the end of AEIYM or TCOTF.  Anyways, a new tune opens up…is it Telephasic Workshop?  Who knows unless you have the CD or staring at the bands on the record?

TW has that similar far away, stuttering sample.  Simple but beguiling.  A bit of lit crackle is noticeable at the end of the song and a few revolutions of ticks that continue into the start of Triangles And Rhombuses.  Another ambient song that plays tricks with my mind before it’s rather short end.  Then another song comes on…so I guess this is TAR, but it only lasts 15 seconds.  Who knows?  Who cares?  Great opening side and except for a small bit of surface noise, great sounding too.

Sixtyten opens up the second side.  The songs are already beginning to sound the same yet entirely different (themes emerge if you know what I mean).  This song’s got a dominating bass break.  A minute or so in a crazy bass permeates from my left speaker.  Unfortunately it lacks the authority I remember during past listens on my solid state amp (I was warned by Ed…).  A second break joins the fun; this song is a genuine craft.  What I think is Turquoise Hexagon Sun opens as a stripped down keyboard solo (to be honest I don’t know if the solo is the end of Sixtyten or the beginning of THS).  It’s definitely a new beat, so let’s call it THS…its fucking great, one of my favs on the album.

Five minutes pass without notice.  Trippy.  Kaini Industries is yet another keyboard intermezzo.  It’s a good one, lasting about a minute before a non-squinter transition into Bocuma.  It’s another great tune with inter-playing keyboards that seem to be distanced at two sides of a great hall.  The lack of any break in the song allows some surface noise to come through.  A fugue-like organ breaks the party in what I think is the start of Roygbiv.  A hip hop break beat provides the rhythm with a wash of keyboard sounds swirling between my speakers.  End of the first LP.

Rue The Whirl inaugurates the second LP with a break beat straight out of early 90s UK trip-hop.  I liked those sounds back then and I’m enjoying this song immeasurably.  I’m pretty sure there are birds chirping in the distance on this track.  It’s one of the longer songs on the album and it keeps the same intoxicating beat throughout.  Very easy to lose yourself in this one, as I do once or twice.  A second act finally materializes, still with the chirping birds…and a few revolutions of clicks as the song ends.  Masterpiece.

Aquarius is another crazy beat with what sounds like a funk sample coming out of my right speaker.

Yeah, That’s Right.

What a great fucking break, bass and what is now a very familiar ambient keyboard.  I think the adults are saying “Orange” while the children giggle away.  The album’s first true lyrics on the album are a woman counting to 70 or so before it becomes rubbish.  This song was a beast.  Olson is another keyboard intermission, albeit with a bit of growl to finish the side.

I grabbed a peach before dropping the needle on Side 4.  I do a double take as I could have sworn I played this side already.  Pete Standing Alone opens quietly, exposing some lite surface noise before the bass break interrupts.  The soundscape is the most up-tempo of the album, with a static like ripping noise mixed front center.  Such a simple sound, annoying by itself but contributing to the song as if an instrument…and once again I have no clue what the male vocals are trying to say.

Smokes Quantity…I’m thinking the name of this one must be an inside joke.  I must confess songs are starting to blur together, sounding somewhat alike.  Open The Light opens with a keyboard confessional with a lazy bass doing its thing back in the last row.  Fantastic.  The mood conveys the end of a night of partying while hanging out in the chill room.  One Very Important Thought isn’t really as much a song as a public service announcement.  Set over a last keyboard ditty, a woman expounds against censorship.

The Postample:

One thing about this album, it’s as if everyone is speaking in tongues.  Although the record doesn’t have analog lushness it is beautifully mixed with layers of soundscapes in the front, middle and back rows.  As mentioned in the listen, the album has themes running throughout with the inter-playing keyboards, references to ‘love’ and the one or two intermezzos per side.  By itself, many samples on this record have annoying qualities, but they just mesh and fit perfectly within the finished product.  Great mixing resulting in pure psychedelia.  This is an album I’ll be spinning during house parties.

boc_dnd

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.

The Musings Of Miles

_Musing_and_Tequila

The Preample:

Tequila!  The drink, not the record.

First off, my wife noticed I’ve been using the nonsensical word “preample”  instead of the correct “preamble”.  Oh well, at least I got “postamble” right.

I decided to use Discog’s Random Item button to select a LP for tonight and the rand() gods gave me The Musings of Miles, a six song jazz recorded June 7, 1955 by a quartet fronted by Miles DavisOscar Pettiford on bass, Philly Joe Jones on skins, Red Garland on piano and of course Miles on trumpet.  The Obi says something about this being the forerunner of the Miles Davis Quintet.  Originally released on Prestige, this is the 1982 reissue from Fantasy’s Original Jazz Classics series.

After I took the dog for a quick walk, I warmed up the tubes with some Thin Lizzy and Lenny Kravitz while sipping on 1800 Reposado.  With Miles coming up, who says that jazz and tequila don’t mix?

The Record:

Artist: Miles Davis

Title: The Musings Of Miles

Label: “Original Jazz Series” / Prestige…and distributed by Fantasy

Year: 1982 OJC reissue, originally pressed in 1955

Catalog: OJC-004 / P-7007

Country: USA

Notes: Great condition record.  The cover’s a solid VG+, just a few weird orange spots on the back jacket away from a NM grade.  Side 1 is mint and if it wasn’t for a very lite scuff/scratch on the flipside it would be a NM record.  As it stands, giving it a VG+.  It’s got the original shrink wrap and Obi.  The Obi states the original price of $5.98.  There are two dated price stickers; $4.99 in December 1985 and $2.99 in February 1986.  Some record store really really needed to clear some shelf space for those indestructible CDs everyone wanted I guess.

I don’t know the full arrangement between Fantasy’s OJC series and the original labels, but there seems to be quite a bit of Prestige reissues in this series.  I tend to stick with the older OJC pressings with the OBIs as the new, sealed ones have Scorpio written over them.  This old one’s got George Horn’s initials in the deadwax, so it’s legit.   Who knows what’s on the newer ones.  One day my curiosity will peak and I’ll grab one.

Oh yeah…although not listed anywhere on the record, its mono.

Matrix:

Side 1 – OJC 004 A-T1- T1 GH

Side 2 – OJC 004 B-T1- T1 GH

Mastering: George Horn

Pressing Plant: ?

Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/release/1454556

The Accompaniment: 

I work with an associate in Mexico City which brings me a bottle of reposado every time he’s in Toronto, which is one or twice a year.   I’m not going to lie; it’s a nice fringe benefit.  Tequila’s not overly expensive in Toronto, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes for $2 in Mexico.  Who knows?

I’m admittedly not a big tequila drinker.  Tequila conjures up memories of the Spew Crew back in college when tequila poppers and puking twice in a night was the norm.

I won’t be popping this tequila.  This stuff is really really good.  From what I gather, “reposado” is akin to a VSOP.  This one’s called 1800.  Never heard of it before, but its 100% de agave and sipping it neat reveals character and complexity (this is not the shit you lick-shot-sucked back in college).  This is my third time imbibing this spirit and it’s enough to get me perusing the tequila aisle at the LCBO next time I’m there.  Who knows…maybe even spring for a bottle of Don Julio Añejo?

The Listen: 

I drop the needle and the record makes barely a peep as Miles leads the band into an up-tempo jazzy beat called Will You Still Be Mine?  Although not outlined anywhere on the release, it’s no surprise that the recording is in mono.  All the instruments shine through clearly and after a few minutes Miles takes a break for Red Garland’s first solo.  It’s an objectively quick one before Miles takes back the lead and finishes off the song.  It’s hard not to be impressed with how great it sounds.  Although the record is about 30 years old, we’re talking about a recording that happened about 60 years ago!

Between the songs its whisper quiet…CD quiet.  I See Your Face Before Me opens with a subdued pace, all thick, smokey and shit.  Mile’s horn sounds like it may have one of those mufflers on it…another piano solo backed by the rhythm section keeps the mood going.  The bass has a great depth of sound, with each note nourishing my speakers with sustain.  Great pressing!  The last song on the A side is another bop beat called I Didn’t.  It plays along with a bit too much urgency for my tastes; not a bad tune but not a great one neither.  The horn and bass still sound great though…and another piano solo…will Oscar or Philly Joe ever get a chance to shine?  That said, it is my favorite of Red’s 3 solos so far…this song is starting to grow on me.

Drum solo!  Well, not really…just some interplay between Miles and Philly Joe.  That was cool and I wish it lasted longer.  The song and side ends and not a click tick or pop to be heard!

I make a mess of cuing the tone arm for the second side and it harmlessly rolls off the record.  Let me try that again.  Second time’s a charm but it doesn’t take long for the first sign of surface noise to be heard.  A very light tic is occurring with each record revolution, localized at the right speaker throughout the whole first song.  A Gal In Calico is a mid-tempo number with Red getting his hands dirty with a fourth solo on four songs.  Although not as complex as the others it has a fun feel to it.  The clicking is still audible as the song fades out, and it’s all but disappeared by the time the second song; A Night In Tunisia starts up.

ANIT opens with a bass solo backed with a marimba or some instrument like that.  This beat’s definitely different.  I like it, it almost has a kitschy 60’s soundtrack vibe to it and it’s actually my favorite Miles trumpeting so far.  By now the record’s completely silent again…looks like it’s just the first track on this side.   That said, a stray pop rings out right before Miles hits a few high notes that segues to another Red solo.  It’s an interesting solo, re-channeling itself making it seem like 2 solos in one.  Philly Joe’s drum work really adds to the ANIT’s cool factor.  The song takes on a North African jazz beat right before the song meanders to a close.  This is the closest we’ve come to a bass solo thus far.

Green Haze is a thick and hazy song.  It’s the first song to open with a piano solo, giving this one a dimension of its own.  By now I’m fully marinated in tequila and truly love the beat.  The song goes thru a slight change in pace and back again…or did I imagine it?  And then there it is!  Oscar’s first solo!  And it’s an awesome one.  It hits all the right notes and I wish it goes on longer.  The solo ends and so does the song shortly after.  My favorite on the LP.

The Postamble:

Although the jazz style played on this record does not hit my jazz sweet spot, there was enough variation to make it a worthwhile listen.  The recording, mastering and pressing are all top notch.  It makes you wonder how it compares to the recent Analogue Productions reissue now that the masters are another 30 years older.  My favorite tunes A Night In Tunisia and Green Haze.  Although Miles Davis and Red Garland were great, I would have liked a few more solos by the rhythm section.

Tonight’s accompaniment was great.  I can definitely see myself branching out to fine tequilas in the future, although with hot summer weather around the corner I should learn how to make a daiquiri.

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.