Monday, 31 March 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: The Hit-Making World of Blue Mink (Gull/Decca,1975)

Here's a variation on Decca's World of... series from around 1975.

Blue Mink took the charts by storm with Melting Pot in 1969 and its easy to see why.

Featuring the talents of Roger Cook, Madeline Bell, Alan Parker and Herbie Flowers the band merged a fabulous fusion of vocal and instrumental ability which rivaled America's own Mamas and The Papas.

This release appears to have been issued in conjunction with Gull Records and features alongside Melting Pot, Good Morning Freedom and Gasoline Alley Bred as well as several other recordings.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Retro Vinyl Spotlight On Russ Conway

Always You And Me EP
In 1959, pianist Russ Conway topped the UK charts twice with his singles Side-Saddle and Roulette.

His frequent appearances on BBC TV's The Billy Cotton Band Show ensured the talented performers popularity with the record buying public particularly as his distinct pub piano style had broad appeal to all generations.
Happy Days (No.1) EP
I discovered the majority of these records within weeks of each other last Summer in various charity shops in Newport and Cardiff. The Two EP's literally days within each other. I love the EP format, which peaked in the early 60s particularly aimed at record buyers who couldn't quite afford the full price of an album. Russ's Happy Days EP features six tracks while Always You And Me features four.
Russ Conway Plays Jolson Hits LP
EMI's budget label  Music For Pleasure released several Russ Conway albums over the years. Russ Conway Plays Jolson Hits released in 1969 spotlighted the music of American entertainer Al Jolson in Russ's unique style.
Russ Conway Plays LP
Another 60s MFP release found Russ playing such evergreen classics such as Try A Little Tenderness, while looking pretty snazzy on the album cover - no doubt several housewives choices of the day!
Always You And Me LP
Here's my most recent Russ Conway find, Always You And Me double LP from the early 80s which is actually a compilation of two Russ Conway concerto albums from the 60s.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

CD Review: Timeless - Dr Hook

Although they were the airplay heroes of the radio waves in the 1970s it’s astonishing to find that Dr Hook only had 5 Top 10 UK hits.

The US band successfully transferred from country music to pop with classics such as Sylvia’s Mother, Just A little Bit More and their 1979 number one smash When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman.

Over 30 years since their last top 10 hit, lead vocalist Dennis Locorriere has compiled 40 pieces of Hook from the bands repertoire for Timeless revisiting hits, album tracks and live favourites.

Hearing the tracks again recalls the laid back sounds the band were so at ease  producing, the first disc featuring all the hits that are good to hear time and again.

The second disc features more in the same style although probably more for the die-hards. Still if you love country rock, you’ll love this and the bands greatest hit still carries great advice “When you’re in love with a beautiful woman, you watch your friend!”

Monday, 24 March 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: I Like It - 20 Golden Hits of the 60's (Music For Pleasure, 1974)

By the mid 1970s Music For Pleasure's Hot Hits series which provided record buyers with anonymous cover versions of chart hits at a bargain price was beginning to slow down.

Its interesting that the maker of the Hot Hits albums Bill Wellings, a specialist in copycat cover albums was also commissioned by Music for Pleasure to produce themed albums featuring hits on a theme. In this case, it was 20 Golden Hits of the 60's (MFP 50110) released in 1974.

Hits popularised by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Gerry and The Pacemakers (whose 1963 Number One I Like It lent its title to the album), The Searchers and Manfred Mann were all given the cover version treatment, packaged with a smart looking album cover featuring a leggy blond and a mod on a Vesper motorcycle.

This copy of which I recently located for 20p has a stamp on the reverse of the sleeve stating the contents were manufactured in the USA.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Recent Vinyl Finds: Bing, Reg and Russ!

Bing Crosby: 101 Gang Songs -Part 1
This recent vinyl find 101 Gang Songs - Part 1 is a Bing Crosby LP from 1960 complete with lyric sheet. Strange because I always thought The Beatles were the first innovators of printing lyrics on their Sgt Pepper album in 1967, seems Bing had done it much earlier! Found for a £1
Reginald Dixon: Mr Blackpool
Organist Reginald Dixon entertained millions of BBC Radio listeners from the 1930s onwards. Here's an MFP reissue of a 1964 album entitled Mr.Blackpool which was reissued on MFP in the late 1960s. I particularly like the colourful cover, something MFP were particularly good at presenting in their early days. The album also has an inscription on the reverse which seems to read To The Goerge From Peter. A nice find for 20p!

Russ Conway: Always You and Me
From organist to pianist here's another Russ Conway find. Always You and Me is a double LP release on Music For Pleasure featuring recordings from the 1960s - a snip at 20p!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: Clodagh Rodgers (RCA Camden,1971)

In the early 1970s, Clodagh Rodgers was a frequent musical guest on every type of light entertainment TV Show from It's Cliff Richard to The Two Ronnies. 

My earliest memories of Clodagh are her representing the UK with Jack In The Box on The Eurovision Song Contest in 1971.  However she also had a further collection of hits going back to 1969 beginning with the brilliant Come Back and Shake Me.

This recent find ( a budget early 70s release on RCA Camden found in a Salvation Army charity shop for 25p) collects together some of those late 60s hits including Goodnight Midnight and covers of Reparta and The Delrons 1968 hit Captain Of Your Ship and The Drifters Under The Boardwalk.

Each track selected here is instantly catchy and inkeeping with the sounds of the late 1960s, Another Time, Another Place could easily have been written for Sandie Shaw but Clodagh performs it wonderfully, while we get to see a country side to Clodagh's vocal talents with Room Full of Roses, an early RCA single from 1968.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: The Very Best of Bing Crosby (World Records, 1973)

Going through a collection of old vinyl records in a charity shop in Carmarthen a few weeks ago, I came across the 6 record Bing Crosby box set The Very Best of Bing

The box itself was a bit discoloured but as it was only £1.49 I thought it might be a nice item to have.

On opening the box I found 6 albums featuring 6 pretty generic covers featuring titles such as Bing's Hit Parade, Bing Takes to the Road, Bing Sings Berlin, Bings Travels, Bing's Great Film Songs and Bing's Evergreens.

The reverse sides of the sleeves  feature detailed notes with extracts from Bing's autobiography.

There was also a few items of paperwork in the box including an original World Records Guarantee and a facsimile letter from Bing himself introducing the collection.

The final item was the Daily Mail newspaper article reporting on Bing's death from October 1977.

Evidently the previous owner was such a fan that they kept the item tucked away in the box - a nice find!

Discogs dates this album collection at around 1973, although I am aware World Records pushed the collection quite prominently following his death, with a bonus release entitled Bing and Friends.

If anyone has more information on the collection I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Alternative Adventures of Doctor Who - Episode 1

As many of you know I'm a big Doctor Who fan and recently revisiting the early episodes with my youngest son inspired me to dig out my copy of the very first regular Doctor Who annual published in 1965. I actually loved annuals when I was younger, usually for the illustrations contained within them and a favourite pastime would be making up my own stories from illustrations on the pages. 

I thought this might be a fun thing to do now via Instagram but adding my own captions. I've posted a few on my RetrospaceAndy account but I'll also feature some here on the blog as time permits. All images are from the first Doctor Who Annual.

Dr Who realised the wasp problem in the Tardis had
got completely out of hand
'I will rule the world' laughed Blofeld.
'Goodness me!'exclaimed Dr Who, 'I'm afraid you have
taken leave of your senses.  I will have to stop you.'
'Who are you?' asked Dr Who.
'I'm your 8th incarnation,' replied the man.
'And it seems the only one of my other selves to retain
my long hair' chuckled Dr Who

Monday, 10 March 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: Hot Hits 3 (Music For Pleasure,1970)

Cover version albums of the 1960s and 70s have failed to grab my attention until recently, however there's something quite fascinating about these releases that captured the imagination of a generations of record buyers.

My Dad used to work on house clearances back in the 70s and I remember him bringing several Hot Hits and Top of the Pops albums home, much to my mothers disdain. "They're not by the proper artists!" she'd exclaim before commenting on the lack of clothing the women that graced the covers of these albums didn't have.

The album covers themselves are certainly a window into 70s culture. Hots Hits 3 (recently purchased as a clutch of five for a pound from a charity shop) displays an attractive girl looking reflective in a window as light reflects off her body.

The track listing itself reflects the brave new charts of the 1970s. The 60s were gone, but new tunes were still forthcoming and the dreams of peace and love were still echoed in Woodstock and War. A cover of The Carpenters We've Only Just Begun was also featured here, prophetic perhaps, this budget LP series would run into several volumes during the 1970s.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Theatr Pena Bring 1960s Drama The Killing of Sister George to Wales

Christine Pritchard plays June in The Killing of Sister
Photo: Theatr Pena/Newport Riverfront
Following my review for Joe Orton's What The Butler Saw a few weeks ago, I found myself viewing another modern day presentation of a 1960s play this week.

On this occasion it was Theatr Pena's presentation of Frank Marcus' 1965 play The Killing of Sister George at Newport Riverfront.

The black comedy looks at the demise of a long running character from a radio drama that is written out following the scandalous behaviour of the actress who played her when she assaults two nuns in a taxi cab.

The play which features undertones of abusive and lesbian relationships was sensationalised greatly for the big screen interpretation whereas this version is truer to its original stage counterpart.

Hannah O Leary and Christine Pritchard in The Killing
of Sister George
Photo: Theatr Pena/Newport Riverfront
I had not seen The Killing of Sister George in any shape or form before watching this play at the Riverfront Theatre on Wednesday night but was immediately pulled into the action via Holly McCarthy's outstanding 60s stylised set and the brilliant performances presented on stage from Christine Pritchard, Hannah O'Leary, Rosamund Shelley and Llinos Daniel under the direction of Erica Eirian.

You can read my review of this brilliant show on the South Wales Argus website.

If you live in Wales and would like to see the show at the Riverfront, Newport it finishes there today, while there will be further appearances at The Torch Theatre, Milford Haven and Galeri, Caernarfon.

Visit Theatr Pena's website for more information on the production.


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Half-Term Vinyl Finds in Newport, Narberth and Carmarthen

The last few weeks have been fun inbetween times finding vinyl at a variety of prices in charity shops. Theres still a big thrill looking at a record sleeve, even a vintage one. Heres some of the titles I picked up over the half term period...

I visited a couple of shops in Newport on Friday February 21 and found the following titles for a pound (20p each) in one shop...

  • Elvis Golden Records Volume 1 - Elvis Presley RCA Victor, 1970
  • I Like It!, 20 Golden Hits of The Sixties - Anonymous Artists, Music For Pleasure, 1974
  • A Day At The Races - Mike Vickers, DJM Records, 1976
  • Hollies Hits Live, The Hollies, Polydor, 1976
  • 20 Original Chart Hits, Original Artists, Phillips,1972

In another shop I also located a Matt Monro CD Matt at The BBC for 50p bringing together several Matt rarities from the 60s and 70s on CD and DVD!

Almost a week later on Thursday February 27, I found myself in West Wales and found two great comedy releases in one shop in Narberth for 75p each.

  • The Best of Rambling Syd Rumpo - Kenneth Williams, Regal Starline, 1970
  • The George Formby Collection - George Formby, Ace of Clubs, 1960s

I also found a copy of Shirley Bassey - The Love Collection on CD for 25p from the same shop.

Finally a quick stop off in Carmarthen  Town Centre enabled me to find the following

  • The Very Best of Bing - Bing Crosby, World Record Club, 1973
  • Lennon & McCartney: Tijuana Style - The Torero Band, Music For Pleasure, 1969
The Bing box set cost all of £1.50 while the Tijuana album was 50p. There will be more on these releases in future posts.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: Ms. America by Vikki Carr (CBS,1973)

I mentioned a while back I'd found a copy of Vikki Carr's 1965 album Anatomy Of Love, well on a recent visit to the same charity shop I made a discovery of another Vikki Carr album, this time from a decade later called Ms.America.

Maybe it was a donation from from the same album collection, anyway I snapped it up for a mere 20p.

Released on the CBS Record label in 1973, this release features Vikki's renditions of Killing Me Softly and Rescue Me.


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