Tag Archives: vinyl

Sleeve Story #2 – Claustrophobia amongst the fleshpots with 3 In The Attic…

As jury selection for the Harvey Weinstein rape trial begins this week in Manhattan (he is incidentally still a Citizen of the British Empire (CBE)), it’s hardly novel but it is timely to point out the dispiriting history of Hollywood from which the Miramax co-founder sprang from, specifically the flood of schlock made by US and UK studios that must have been as depressing and mind-numbing for actresses to appear in as it was for audiences to suffer them.

For every Some Like It Hot or Midnight Cowboy, there were hundreds of piss-poor B movies and X flicks made for the sole purposes of displaying flesh and soliciting dumbshow acting.

3 In The Attic, a sexploitation flick, is about a lothario – or slag as might be better known today – who is cheating on three women. These voluntary sex objects provide semi-nudity and titillation for hypocritical dads who scorn hippies… They exact their revenge by sexually humiliating their former sweetheart in a university attic. It’s hardly female empowerment, but rather par for the course.

The shamed shagger is played by Christopher Jones who plays support to his hippie signifier, a bead necklace, and to the three actresses whose washboard stomachs, shapely shoulder blades and bouffant hair took centre stage on screen and on the sleeve.

Judy Pace is black and at the back on the front of the cover. She was a frequently-seen guest star in US TV soaps and dramas (and whose daughter followed in her footsteps with her two-year run in The Young and the Restless and a small appearance in the Biggie Smalls biopic Notorious). C’est plus change.

Maggie Thrett on the left of the sleeve cover made the cracking single Soupy for esteemed poppy soul songwriter Bob Crewe and also dated Byrds-affiliate and smackhead songwriter Gram Parsons two years later in 1970. Her on-line biography is thin to say the least.

At the front on the right, someone who perhaps didn’t get a crack of the whip: Yvette Mimieux, celebrating her 78th birthday today. She regularly appeared in largely or wholly silent and supine roles – a mentally simple girl, an uncommunicative alien, a surfer on her deathbed for example – opposite the intellectual beefcakes that were Charlton Heston, Rod Taylor and Richard Chamberlain.

250px-Hit_Lady_(1974)_ad.png

Mimieux is credited with being the first person (i.e. woman) to show her navel on American TV but by the early 1970s she had voiced her unhappiness with the parts offered to her. “The women [male screenwriters] write are all one-dimensional,” she said. “They have no complexity in their lives. It’s all surface. There’s nothing to play. They’re either sex objects or vanilla pudding.”

She later wrote the screenplay for the 1974 TV film Hit Lady which attempted to go one step further than 3 in the Attic in depicting a female killer at work. If you wonder how successful Mimieux was at sticking to a man and then another, clips have been posted on YouTube by porkypricklypants and warriormale which perhaps show how that one worked out…

Back in 1968, The Beatles couldn’t supply every film soundtrack with memorable hits. Every beat group who each owned a shiny suit, possessed vaguely decent teeth and lived within a thirty-mile radius of the River Mersey has long been snapped up by record companies. What to do? Step forward Chad & Jeremy and their ‘Oxford Sound’ (albeit with one of them hailing from Windermere in the Lake District in north-west England. Their record company simply billed him as being from ‘outside of London’. Harumph).

chad jeremy

A slightly straightened Scaffold or a Righteous Brothers gone wrong, this English duo pumped out benign songs which didn’t scare the horses or the suburbs so they were  viewed no doubt as a safe pair of hands for the score. The Small Faces produced Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake and The KinksVillage Green Preservation Society that same year, putting their shared English foibles through a psychedelic mincer to great effect so Chad & Jeremy had to tap into similar vibes.

Their five songs offer the promise of a sample or two for beat-makers, but, largely, it’s all a bit meh… a more than fitting judgement given they were scoring an inter-racial sex comedy – and few four-word phrases have dated as badly as this one.

FullSizeRender_1
A GRIM TALE: The back of the soundtrack sleeve promises viewers oodles of female nudity with Jones’ meat and two veg grumpily hidden to spare his shame.

 

As a post-Tarantino genre, blaxploitation films like Hell Up In Harlem and Superfly have largely been given a pass, though they were quick to shove the likes of Pam Grier in a bikini, so it says something that such two-a-penny films as 3 in the Attic have neither been critically re-discovered nor quietly sustained throughout the years as cult classics.

Given this occasional series is focused on vinyl sleeve covers, let’s look past the lamentable premise of a forgettable film as the artwork does have a certain kitsch appeal (even if little else does). There might not be room to swing a cat in that attic let alone harness a ’68 free love ethos to get it on; the atmosphere is stifling and not sexy; but the semi-transparent drapes and lampshades are to die for.

Sleeve Story #1 – Cabin Stabbin… A house full of rum reggae toasters

Welcome to the first in an occasional series in which vinyl record sleeves are dissected for both being delightful and/or dumb ass.

Vinyl lovers were never going to full in love with CDs when they began to be mass-produced in the 1980s. We already had the titles from when they were released; such titles as Brothers In Arms that were pushed by the record companies behind this new technology were not to our liking… and the sleeves were just too darn small.

Accompanying notes were difficult to read or left out all together whilst photos or artists in their prime and/or boasting ill-advised haircuts and leisure gear lost their appeal when reduced to an inch square on a glossy but flimsy inlay booklet.

A 12″ or LP sleeve offers two areas measuring 31 centimetres by 31 centimetres with more if the release has a gatefold sleeve. Photos can be pored over to elicit regular chuckles. Credits can be easily read and thus filed away in the memory, building the awareness of the journey of artists, their guests, engineers, even tea ladies.

Some record sleeves are so memorable – for vastly varying reasons – that they achieve greatness in their own right regardless of the music contained inside on a disc or two. These items of artistic endeavours can be as different and perplexing as the array of opinions they produce from buyers/collectors/dudes and dudesses thumbing through the racks in the store.

If there is any sort of disconnect between producer and consumer, any ignorance on the part of either as to the point of releasing this record, any geographical and situational distance between the makers and the listeners, well… this can result in plain fantastic artefacts. The music, the tunes become secondary; the cover takes precedence, deserving to live on in memory for time immemorial. By this achievement, artists can enjoy some small amount of fame.

The Velvet Underground‘s banana; the Rolling Stones‘ zip, Pink Floyd‘s prism – these are hallowed art covers which long ago traversed the gap between a teenage bedroom and a £50-a-week collector’s mancave wall. #mellow is interested in sleeves which never made it into the spotlight in the first place. Perhaps these were never loved at all – and there may be reasons for this – but that shouldn’t mean there cannot be snarky appreciation or questions such as ‘why’ or ‘what’s the bleedin’ point!’

FullSizeRender (5)

Our first in this series is a Jamaican dance-hall reggae compilation from 1990 issued by VP records, who recently celebrated 40 years in business. Having residual problems when it comes to casual homophobia, entrenched sexism and the promotion of violence, dance-hall has been an easy target for many years whilst heavy metal and rock still often gets a pass when it comes to lasciviousness and neanderthal notions of life [a post by Brown Girl Magazine is worth reading on the ideological and musical composition of dance-hall tunes and Kerrang! recently pulled back the curtain on misogyny within death metal whilst the New Yorker identified those metal fans and activist pushing back against Nazi involvement within the music].

Let us not let these vitally important issues cloud the purpose of this article however, namely to look at this offering by Necka and Junior Demus together with Super Cat (Discogs are currently selling the album for between $3 and $38 and the former should be your guide price if tempted).

FullSizeRender (4)

Contrary to what you might believe upon seeing the album cover – that this is a house hosting violence and death for all of its inhabitants and visitors come what may – the album title refers to taking a ‘chicken’ to a building for romancing. According to the lyrics, the poultry referred to are females who like ‘ruffneck’ love with one man only in contrast to the three males who post on the cover. The listener can relax in the assurance that only phalluses were used in the making of this record and not knives.

The late Necka aka Nicodemus aka Cecil Wellington [brother of Maurice Wellington of the Morwells group, who also produced Morwell Unlimited’s excellent A1 dub album featuring the Roots Radics] stands on the left of the cover positioned between a neat garden and the front door as if awaiting his beau to come to him.

His outstretched hands hold an elaborately presented bottle of reddish alcohol and what appears to be a wrapped rock or possibly an oyster fresh from Montego Bay. There is a dustbin labelled ‘GAS’ turned upside down immediately in front of where he faces and some rubbish on the floor besides it. These two elements might suggest a rough and ready neighbourhood yet the grass is well-cut with flowers in bloom. Additionally, Necka is unlikely to have found his tokens of love in the trash and is thus unfortunate to be snapped next to a waste receptacle.

He appears to be putting a game but weary face on proceedings as he stands in the sunshine, his jaunty hat and tie giving the appearance of a tired yet still courtly lover awaiting his turn in the cabin. Some years younger than his compatriot, Junior Demus aka Conrad McNish is pictured in the second picture in what might be the hallway or living room of the cabin.

Junior has either just finished stabbin’ or is dutifully awaiting his turn, and there is a degree of excitement about him, shall we say, to be glimpsed. His string vest is tucked in whilst the surprising presence of the yellow chiffon scarf around his head matches the laces in his white trainers.

Unlike Necka’s rather drained visage, Junior is raring to go and he points to his left, his legs bent in not unlike the starting position for a sprint. What could be described as a ‘screw face’ from Junior shows that the lady who will have the pleasure of his company will have her hands full.

As with Necka though, Junior must wait whilst William Maragh aka Super Cat goes through his motions. Having waited in turn, the thin Jamaican toaster now stands over a lady lying on a bed or divan. Initially, this well-attired man looks primed and in position. Bearing a calm face, his companion sports an orange PVC beret and is a fitting accompaniment, sartorially, to her dandy partner.

She has a firm grip on her lover’s belt that perhaps reveals a little inner irritation as at that moment Super Cat seems more intent on modelling for her how to use your hand to create a bird or animal. He has no compunction about granting us, the viewer, a look at his private talent show and so that album title takes on a third meaning at this point, one of birds insistently pecking at seeds on the ground.

Their clothes are still on their frames and so it must be concluded that little love-making has taken place. Junior, full of pent-up action in the hallway, and Necka, the gentleman lover outside in the sun, have a long wait ahead of themselves.

 

 

Photo: Teenage kicks and 7″ worship #2

IMG-5597

 

Record: Champagne and Wine/I’ve Got Dreams To Remember by Otis Redding.

What can we glean? There’s a heartfelt message on the sleeve to both the ‘lady’ who was given this seven inch and to Stax/Atlantic recording artist Redding, who was certainly a suitable candidate for the ‘King of Soul’ garland (just check the singles released prior to 1968).

It’s unclear whether the scrawls on the record labels are from the same person (and it’s unlikely in my view), but ‘Micky’ is someone who either marked their records in proprietorial and teenage glee or was adamant they didn’t want another vinyl hound to half-inch any of their treasures come the end of a night at someone’s house where guests had brought their own records. In the same spirit, the ’20’ could be their age at the time (to be that age in ’68…!) or part of a numbered filing system?

The fact that the artist’s name has been completely scratched off on both sides inevitably makes one think whether the record’s owner was trying to ‘cover up’ what they had; the white stickers which indicate which side to play, genre and tempo speaks to this record having one been owned by a DJ. But when the inscription on the sleeve is read once more, it indicates that S.B. wanted to ensure their S.S. concentrated on the lyrics – read below – in order to remember through this ‘suvenir’ what they once had. And wish they still enjoyed. 

Conclusion: Music can and will hold us in a memory of lost love. Records are the sweetest valentines. Otis is still a king. 

 

IMG-5594

 

I’ve got dreams, dreams to remember
I’ve got dreams, dreams to remember
Honey, I saw you there last night
Another man’s arms holding you tight
Nobody knows what I feel inside
All I know, I walked away and cried
I’ve got dreams, dreams to remember
Listen to me [(I’ve got dreams)] rough dreams [(dreams to remember)]
I know you said he was just a friend
But I saw him kiss you, again and again
These eyes of mine, they don’t fool me
Why did he hold you, so tenderly
I’ve got dreams, dreams to remember
Listen honey [(I’ve got dreams)] rough dreams [(dreams to remember)]
I still want you to stay
I still love you anyway
I don’t want you to ever leave
Girl, you just satisfy me, ooh-wee, ooh yeah
I know you said he was just a friend
But I saw you kiss him again and again
These eyes of mine, they don’t fool me
Why did he hold you, so tenderly
I’ve got dreams, dreams to remember
Listen to me mama [(I’ve got dreams)] bad dreams, rough dreams [(dreams to remember)]
Don’t make me suffer [(I’ve got dreams)] rough dreams, bad dreams [(dreams to remember)]
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Otis Redding / Joe Rock / Zelma Redding
I’ve Got Dreams to Remember lyrics © IRVING MUSIC, INC., IRVING MUSIC, INC. E.M.

 

Mellow Music No.1

AFTER what seems like a lifetime of finding, buying, playing and coveting vinyl, I’m well on my way down the road of divestment. But there is still much music out there which is un-digitised and not known [especially anything outside of canonical lists dominated by white American males] and I like to research and enquire about it, perhaps to write about it too.

In light of the recent report on just how much music was lost in the Universal Music Group fire of 2008 – and what that says about music companies’ traditionally cavalier approach to artists and their recorded output – it’s all the more important to stand up, as it were, for that which has been lost or is in danger of being forgotten.

At the same time, you can take the man out of hip hop but you can’t…

In other words, old habits die hard. A crummy album from a bargain bin or dusty, damp back room in a shop may well have a few seconds or more of a weird beat/arrangement or strangely affecting voice/keyboard line. The rest is dreck but that one element is to savour, perhaps even re-deploy elsewhere to greater effect.

In the same vein as the seminal Octopus Breaks and continuing the great auditory turn-on which was Lovefingers – RIP to both – here’s four beats for free; musical oddities which still possess life and a promise of… of… of something! Do what thou will neighbour.

Name all four tracks and I’ll send you a coveted, culturally valuable and scarce piece of vinyl, free of charge.

Love,

Pat

https://soundcloud.com/patmellow/mellowbeats-1

 

IMG-5247

Photo: Teenage kicks and 7″ worship #1

 

Record: You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)’, Sylvester’s scream of a release.

Approach: Biro on paper sleeve. Much use of Stars of David and the word ‘funk’. The spirit of Bootsy (and being bored with school homework, possibly) lives large here. 

Result: D.I.Y. fan culture is A.O.K.

 

IMG-4443