vinyl


Skating around my enduring affection for verfremdungseffekt, I bumped into the marvellous vigintennial, or vicennial, meaning 20th anniversary.

As if that weren’t enough! Okay, delving into Stuff-Having-A-Vigintennial, I was delighted, but delighted, to see it has been 20 years since Quasi released the album Featuring “Birds”.

Quasi is a two piece, Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss. They used to be married, but, yeah, things happen… anyway, fortunately, they remained a musical item.

Featuring “Birds”, the duo’s third album, is a collection of lively yet lugubrious songs for roxichord and drums, with mordant, witty, often bleakly cynical lyrics. Thematically, they grapple with politics and relationships in particular.

Music lovers may recognise both names from other outfits – Weiss with Sleater-Kinney, for example. Quasi also toured with Elliott Smith, as support and backing band, which I was lucky enough to see in action. My then partner and friendship group found a rich seam of gigs In Them Days. We’re all largely scattered about the planet now, and breakups are never easy, but let the annals record those were also often the best of times.

Perhaps one of my favourite ever gigs was when we got to see Quasi do their own headlining set in September 1999 at the 13th Note Club in Glasgow… and here, he shuffled excitedly among his effects, is the set list:

…on lovely pink paper, you may just about discern.

The embedded tune is “It’s Hard To Turn Me On”, which came as an encore that night. There was Coomes, semi-seriously claiming to the rapt crowd to be running out of songs to play, when a slightly slurry Scottish voice suggested “Walt Disney!” He had to run it by them a couple of times, as I recall. “Walt Disney disnae make me happy!”. Quasi duly obliged.

Featuring “Birds”. Please seek it out and wish it a happy vigintenary year.

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A propos of it being a somewhat Blue Monday (back to work and miserable weather setting back in), here is a trio of New Order songs that all start with T.

Touched by the Hand of God. Highly diggable 80s rock video parody, directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Temptation. Features vinyl shoplifting and indie disco moves.

And, of course, True Faith. First saw this on a cinema screen, as a pre-feature for (I think, based on 1987 as year of release) Good Morning Vietnam, though it might just as well have been Moonstruck, The Living Daylights or Spaceballs, all of which also came out that year. No Withnail and I, no. I was only 12. I recall not really getting it at the time, but later it made all the sense.

Terrific teen soundtracking there, then.

Just wanted to share some favoured disks being placed far away from any charity bags/car boot piles…

Not sure precisely when I started digging jazz. It slips in and out of favour in some ways, but there’s something kind of compelling about good strains.

I keep meaning to do a podcast about it, because it’d sound more interesting than it reads… but it’s all on vinyl, so it’d maybe be a bit of a fiddle… We’ll see! Here are five sides that were front of mind when I decided to make this the thing, anyway.

Fletcher Henderson & the Connie’s Inn Orchestra. Recorded 1926 & 1931. Deeply groovy.

Django & Stephane mainly, from 1938 and 1946. Love’s Melody in particular is required listening.

Be bop genius Fats Navarro recorded most of the tracks in 1946/1947. He died in 1950… aged 27.

Two giants of the piano with totally different styles somehow totally complement each other on this session from late in both their careers (1974).

One of the forgotten pioneers of the form, Bennie Moten deserves to be remembered if only for his titles. “Elephant’s Wobble”, “18th Street Strut”, “Sister Honky Tonk”, and “Goofy Dust”. Also totally rocking.

Nice.

Having just gone back to work after two weeks off, the mood is positive. This is despite the continuing attempts of the weather systems bothering the UK to impose a pathetic fallacy of doom and angst. Every time it seems to be clearing up some fresh annoyance sweeps in. The reason then, for this upbeat demeanour, in the face of our shit northern climate? It is due to a feeling, actively nurtured, of letting go of some things.

Holidays are a good time to take stock, and Easter holidays are traditionally a good time for Spring cleaning. With a succession of weather fronts Setting In, we were less able than usual to throw open the windows, air the sheets, give walls a lick of paint, then pop down the river to visit a rodent pal.

However, we (me and The Best Belovèd) did spend a good deal of time looking at the shelves, as detailed in the Books post (2nd April just then), and the cupboards, making plans to shed a ton of baggage. This is a fact moonlighting as a metaphor; we have a weight of stuff accumulated, between us. I’m not sure if it’s worse or better that we keep a bunch of extra stuff in an attic space (another dual function phrase).

The precise purpose of holding on to most of it is unclear. I mean – sure, that’s 14 boxes of books… But, that’s 14 boxes of books!

Hoarding is something one tends to associate with those sad cases who are found dead under 50 years’ worth of Daily Mirror back issues, knocked out by a collapsed stack of Dolmio jars, stifled in the dust of a lifetime’s unemptied ashtrays. Not parsimony, not Scrooge McMean avarice… just an inability to shed? Yet here we are, with a bunch of consumer goods, that escape uselessness by the narrowest of annotated margins. Or that vault effortlessly over boundaries of taste and meaning from a realm of slightly boss-eyed whimsy. Exhibit K: a 7″ single of Kylie Minogue’s I Should Be So Lucky, which I am fairly confident I have kept for the sole reason that if you play it at 33 rpm it sounds a teensy bit like Rick Astley:

How we passed the time in 1987.

Happily, there are remedies for this kind of low-level symptom of late capitalism. A few years back I wrote something about psychological benefits found in setting fire to old notebooks. Clearly my sentiment is not so incorrigible that it can’t be combatted with a well-timed radical gesture. …I’m not going to burn all the books! Not that radical. But as the holidays drew to a close, a moment of clarity enveloped the house, and various schemes – and, crucially, motivated enthusiasm – for riddance took hold.

Here’s to the enduring joys of bibliophilia, of record collecting, whatever the little indulgences in items that foster joy and devotion… but here’s also to being able to see and accept when something could quite easily be got rid of, never seen again, and remain unmourned.

“…my god, it’s full of tat.”

Flipping through the vinyl section of one of the fundraising shops in town this fine Friday, feeling the final flashes of the Easter furlough fading, I found myself transfixed as I footered.

Her fascinating face…

babsbabsbabsbabsbabsbabsbabs

Had a rummage in a charity shop vinyl section at the weekend.  Naught but Mrs Mills at the piano, Golden Parade of Pops 1976, Val Doonican and Orchestral Sounds of Tijuana. There was me ready to splash a small amount of cash too. But no. The crates have all been dug.

No garden today. Today I had to work. Periodically, ‘they’ let the boarding school students out to see the real world, and buy stuff.

As duties go, getting what was effectively five hours to wander round Leeds city centre browsing in record shops and going for a big bowl of spicy chicken noodle soup has to rate among my Most Preferred.

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Mmmm…  Bún gà Huế… Just delicious, from Pho, in Trinity Kitchen

Music finds, courtesy of Crash Records: Du Blonde (the continuing wonders of Beth Jeans Houghton), and Nozinja:

Coaches, headcount, bosh. “Not a bad shift…”
Back to the shovel next week.

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