Sunday, 15 April 2012

She spoke just like a Baroness

Three LPs today totally representative of their year of release,

Nina & Frederik by Nina & Frederik
Confusingly there were two consecutive Nina & Frederik albums called Nina & Frederik (not sure that this is where Peter Gabriel got the idea from!) and this is the one featuring the fantastic 'Eden was just like this', 'Man smart, woman smarter', Maladie D'Amour (later to return as Cha Cha Cha D'Amour) and the quaintly(!) titled 'When woman say no she means yes', which may have seemed mildly amusing to people in 1958, but this is a principle which can lead to a long custodial sentence in 2012.
Nina and Frederik were real life Baron and Baroness and this is an interesting and amusing LP with some great fake Jamaican accents.
Interestingly Nina appeared in the film 'American Gigolo' with Richard Gere - apparently (I never watch films like this myself of course!)

XL-1 by Pete Shelley
An LP as firmly rooted in 1983 as Nina & Frederik is in 1958 featuring Martin Rushent production and (get this!) a computer programme for the ZX Spectrum, which, when loaded, shows lyrics and graphics synchronised to the music on the LP.
It seems quaint (there's that word again!) now, but in 1983 this was ground-breaking.
Pete makes some great music, unfortunately not much of it on this album!

Year of the Cat by Al Stewart
An album that couldn't be more 1976 if it had dreamy lyrics, gatefold cover and Portrait of the Artist as a man in a wide-lapelled white suit (it has!) Still much beloved of Ken Bruce and Steve Wright (You're never more than two tracks away from either 'On the Border' or the title track here if you tune into Ken weekday mornings on Radio 2).
This may all come together to remind you exactly why punk happened.
Having said all that, I love this LP and listen to it at a ratio of at least 5:1 when compared to 'Never Mind The Bollocks'

Soundtrack to this post - Frontier Psychiatrist by The Avalanches and Unbreakable Heart by Duglas T Stewart and Company

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Music in cars (Part 1)

I’m going to veer wildly away from vinyl for one day only today to think about earlier musical memories when listening to music in cars.

Part 2 (as you can see from the title this is part 1) will feature my pre '85 music only policy in my 1985 Mini Mayfair (of which also probably more later), but this part features listening to 8-track cartridges in my Dad's 1971 Rover 2000 when I was about 13 years old.

Dark green, with a tan leather interior, this was the first car that I ever drove - on a private campsite in Scotland during the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations.

Unlike our other cars before this one that only had radios, and even some of the ones afterwards that still only had radios (although they were that 1970s luxury - 'push-button radios'!), this car had a luxury '70s in-car entertainment option, an 8-track cartridge player. My Dad had so few cartridges to play that I am sure I can remember pretty much all of them. For anyone who is unsure about cartridges, they were about the same size as a slice of 'doorstep' toast (see ad above) and had all of the tracks on an album split across 8 tracks of a broad tape - sometimes (believe it or not!) the tracks didn't fit entirely onto one track so they would be split across two tracks and there would be a gap in your listening pleasure while the first half of a song ended and the second half was located and started.

I'm not sure whether cartridges had a better sound quality than cassette tapes as I haven't heard one for almost 35 years, but in my memory they sound fantastic!

The cartridges we had (and played over and over again because we had so few of them) were;

Simon and Garfunkel - Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits
As the years have worn on I am starting to think that Paul and Art's best work may have been when they worked separately (a sacrilegious thought in some quarters I know!) but my love of all things S&G related still remains....

Gladys Knight & The Pips - The Best of Gladys Knight & The Pips
I love music like this now, but at the time this was my least favourite of the cartridges that my Dad owned - and we tended to listen to it less frequently than the others.

Diana Ross and The Supremes - a Greatest Hits album (presumably 20 Golden Greats)
Of all of these albums this is definitely my favourite now, probably my second favourite then and almost certainly one of the best 'best ofs' ever released.

The Carpenters - The Singles 1969-1973 and The Singles 1974-1978
These collections of songs take me right back to the '70s whenever I hear them, but when you listen to some of the studio albums now (I listened to Horizon the other day) it's sometimes difficult to see what all the fuss was about! Calling Occupants was one of our favourites, but we also loved 'Goofus' and as it's not on either of these two albums, we must have had at least one more Carpenters cartridge!

Abba - Arrival and Greatest Hits
All thoughts of Abba seem to be seen through 'Mamma Mia' coloured glasses now, but we sometimes forget how they towered over everything in the mid/late seventies. Probably played more frequently than all of the other cartridges put together!

Soundtrack to this post - Granny Cool by Sugar (it's Rifftastic!) and Come Live With Me by Heaven 17