Even though he had some hits, Otis Clay never achieved great fame as a soul man. He’s made some fine discs over the years however, and if prime soul circa the early-‘70s fits into your bag, then you may want to check out the reissue of Trying to Live My Life without You. Initially released in 1972 by Hi Records, a definite signifier of soul quality, the LP is currently being offered on vinyl by Fat Possum. Amongst other redeeming qualities, it’s serves as the best representation of his work under the auspices of renowned producer Willie Mitchell.
Though he’s accumulated numerous honors and is still active today, Otis Clay’s career continues to be defined by the records he cut in the 1970s for the Hi imprint of Memphis, Tennessee. And those who recognize Hi as the label responsible for one of the greatest of all soul movers Al Green should have no problem understanding why Clay’s tenure there produced his most famous stuff.
At the time, Green certainly overshadowed every other Hi artist including the consistent hit-maker Ann Peebles, but it’s also undeniable that his massive popularity was simultaneously positive for the roster as a whole. Without it, it’s very unlikely that Clay’s singles there would’ve ended up partially comprising his debut LP.
But if surely a fruitful association, Clay’s relationship with that now storied company has unfortunately not delivered him from the well-populated ranks of underappreciated soul belters. Where the star of his Hi cohort Syl Johnson has steadily risen to the point where he is now accurately described as a cult figure (with a 4CD/6LP Numero Group box set to his credit), the same circumstance has thus far eluded Clay.
From our “Single of the Week” 2 weeks back to a vinyl giveaway today, the roots reggae skank of Bunny Lion’s “Rat Trap” from the newly repressed Red LP had us from the initial needle drop. Rereleased on red vinyl from our friends at Fantasy Memory/ Captured Tracks—we’ve found a copy to send to one of you.
“Although his lack of touring kept him from being established as a major figure in overground reggae circles, Linval Thompson’s work as a singer, songwriter and producer is essential to Jamaican music. Between 1977 and 1979, he released five solo albums and produced countless artists on the side. Thompson acted as a mentor to many up-and-comers, including Junjo Lawes, Scientist, and Eek-A-Mouse.
As dancehall became more prominent in the late 1970s, Thompson began to offer up his rhythms to sound system deejays. The mysterious deejay LP, Red, was originally released on London’s Starlight records in 1979. Little was written about the album at the time; however, we have uncovered that Bunny Lion is in fact the legendary Puddy Roots of Killamanjaro Soundsystem fame. Red features ten grooving Thompson Sound rhythms voiced by Puddy. This is the earliest documented work of the criminally under-recorded Puddy Roots. It’s also the perfect gateway record for anyone curious about dub, roots reggae, or dancehall.
In 1994, after announcing their presence with a pair of EPs, the UK combo Cornershop released Hold On It Hurts. Eventual chart breakouts, that debut full-length instead positioned them as part of the burgeoning Riot Grrl movement. A shade over twenty years since, they reflect on the milestone not by giving it a souped-up anniversary repressing but by reimagining it as an Easy Listening album. On the surface Hold On It’s Easy might seem a joke taken to a confounding extreme; it’s actually just the latest savvy maneuver from a consistently smart band, out on vinyl/digital February 2nd via Ample Play.
1997’s “Brimful of Asha” and its corresponding long-player When I Was Born for the 7th Time raised Cornershop’s profile on both sides of the pond, but it also served as an indicator of significant stylistic development and effectively marked the end of their formative phase, an era that found them initially crafting rough-hewn guitar-based post-punk and fruitfully joining it with the influence of Indian music.
The early rumblings of the Brothers Tjinder and Avtar Singh, Ben Ayers, and David Chambers culminated in the arrival of Hold On It Hurts, a scrappy affair blending sturdy punk knowledge (the opening track from their “Lock, Stock & Double-Barrel” EP is titled “England’s Dreaming”) with a decided contemporary relevance. To elaborate, it was issued by Wiiija Records, a UK indie spanning back to the late-‘80s that gained prominence throughout the next decade partially in association with Riot Grrl.
Wiiija released/licensed items from Skinned Teen, Huggy Bear, Frumpies, Free Kitten, Bikini Kill, and indeed Cornershop, who are described by Ample Play in connection to Hold on It’s Easy as the only all male band to be a part of the whole Riot Grrl explosion. And listening again to Hold On It Hurts, an LP of fleeting melodicism, inspired stabs of post-punk, the aforementioned Indian elements (to blossom on When I Was Born for the 7th Time) and bursts of squalling feedback, Ample Play’s claim is easy to believe.
“Cassidy Fletcher said she didn’t realize how much the Arctic Monkeys could rock until she heard the English band on vinyl. The 19-year-old from Johnstown, Pennsylvania scored a turntable for Christmas in 2013 and has been slowly building a collection of LPs since. “It does seem like it’s better quality on vinyl,” she said. “I like it better, even more than listening to music on my phone.”
“Swap-meet shoppers look for music that’s on the record: For scores of shoppers gathered in the lobby of Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville Saturday, vinyl never left.”
“…Numero Group will release a box set compiling Ork Records’ entire 16-single 1975-1979 output. Co-founded by Television manager Terry Ork and Charles Ball, it was a DIY label that released seminal punk, power pop, no wave, and proto-indie rock music, including the first-ever releases by Television, Richard Hell, Alex Chilton (solo), and many others. That’s Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel Pt. 1″ above—the A-side of their debut release.”
“The Vinyl Record Collectors Association (VRCA) recently donated US$1,000 to the Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee, a non-profit organisation with 18 affiliated cites worldwide.”
“Untouched for decades: Photographer takes amazing series of images of perfectly preserved home abandoned by its owners: …found musical instruments, including a gramophone and a stereo system that would have been state-of-the-art at the time, books and family photographs – offering a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of the former occupants.”
PHOTOS: BRENDAN O’HARA | If you do almost anything consistently for six years, you have to pause to wonder if people might still have the same enthusiasm for an endeavor like they might have had in year 1, 2, or 3.
A line around Penn Social’s considerably long block and over 1,400 people through the door yesterday confirmed that yes…people certainly still dig records and frankly, the enthusiasm might be at an all time high. We tasked photographer Brenda O’Hara to capture the day in pixels for us.
We extend our thanks to our hosts at Penn Social, the DJs, the dealers, Zeke’s Coffee, Electric Cowbell Records—and to all of you who left with records under your arms. If you’re also wondering as many had yesterday when the next DC Record Fair might make a return, look for us in the Spring…with a few surprises.
All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot to offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history of which many people remain unaware. Everyone knows Sinatra and The Boss, but there’s much more.
Tune in to Garden State Sound with Evan Toth to explore the diverse music with connections to New Jersey. You’ll hear in-depth interviews with some of Jersey’s best music makers and have the opportunity win tickets to some of the best concerts in the state.
“This week, Garden State Sound invites Brian Musikoff from Stuyvesant and Al Crisafulli of Sugarblast Music Co. up to talk about their newest release, Shmyvesant.
Plus, the unselfish Mr. Musikoff brings a few records from his collection of his favorite NJ bands to spin, which—of course—we do. Tune in for the full-length saga of the Stuyvesant story.” —EZT
I know, Francoise, I know. If you’re going to buy an album by the late French Chanson singer Serge Gainsbourg, you would have to be crazy not to buy 1968’s Bonnie & Clyde, his collaboration with Brigitte Bardot, or 1969’s Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg, which includes the notoriously salacious (as in hubba hubba) “Je t’aime… moi non plus,” which was so orgasmic the Vatican actually felt compelled to issue a public statement declaring it offensive.
But I am crazy, certifiably so, and I heartily recommend that while you get your hands on the aforementioned LPs as fast as possible, you also pick up a copy of 1975’s extraordinarily surreal Rock Around the Bunker. Where else are you going to find songs like “Nazi Rock,” “Rock Around the Bunker,” and “S.S. in Uruguay”? Nowhere, that’s where.
Rock Around the Bunker purportedly looks back at Gainsbourg’s experiences as a Jewish youth growing up in Nazi-occupied France. But I’ve read that Gainsbourg’s real intent in releasing Rock Around the Bunker was to mock both the “Nazi chic” of the era, as personified by the film “The Night Porter” and David Bowie’s outrageous statements about wanting to become a fascist dictator, as well as the fifties rock’n’roll revival. Nazism and “Rock Around the Clock” may be an odd couple to satirize, but Gainsbourg was an odd guy. And in creating Rock Around the Bunker, the singer managed to produce an LP whose only real antecedents are The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the imaginary play Springtime for Hitler from Mel Brooks’ The Producers.
A look at the origins of yesterday’s DC Record Fair that over 1,400 of you attended—as well as yesterday’s in Houston.
“While vinyl record sales enjoy a resurgence that shows no sign of slowing, the future of the industry depends on the manufacture of new vinyl pressing machines—and San Francisco’s Pirates Press is first in line.”
“Vinyl’s pressing problem: The sudden comeback of a nearly dead music format has left North America’s aging fleet of pressing machines—and the few specialists who know how to operate them—scrambling to meet demand.”
“How the digital revolution actually helped save HMV: While other record chains have gone the way of the point-and-shoot camera, HMV Canada has remained an unlikely retail stalwart in shopping malls across the country, due in no small part to the intersection of geek culture and a large pepperoni with cheese.”
“A man has been ordered to hand over £17,000 under proceeds of crime laws after he was caught selling bootleg vinyl records on the internet.”
“Australians are streaming more music, buying less and have fallen in love with vinyl again, according to the annual industry sales report…Australian music fans have been slower to switch to downloads than the rest of the world because of slow internet speeds and a preference for physical product over digital files.”
“Couple taps into passion for vinyl at new Anchorage store.”
Those of you following the DC Record Fair on Facebook might deem the forthcoming news a bit old, as we revved up the gears on the Winter 2015 edition of the record fair while we were on our holiday break, yet it bears an official announcement: the DC Record Fair returns to downtown DC’s Penn Social on January 25, 2015!
And six years in, some things are still a given—the 40+ vendors from up and down the East Coast, the curated DJ line up, the bar, the food, and the many other surprises that make the DC Record Fair a special community event for all ages.
Additionally, Zeke’s Coffee will once again be on hand with a special blend brewed just for the DC Record Fair, and our friends at Electric Cowbell Records will be on site passing out free records just for attending!
THE WINTER 2015 DJ SCHEDULE:
11:00 – 12:00: Crown Vic, Electric Cowbell Records
12:00 – 1:00: Brendan Canty, Fugazi, Deathfix
1:00 – 2:00: Daisy Lacy, Smash Records
2:00 – 3:00: Brian Proust, Georgia Soul Recordings
3:00 – 4:00: DJ Singh Slim, DC Vinyl Headz
4:00 – 5:00: DJ Alizay
Mark your calendars!
THE DC RECORD FAIR
Sunday, January 25, 2015 at Penn Social, 801 E Street, NW
11:00–12:00, Early Bird Admission $5.00
12:00–5:00, Regular Admission $2.00
RSVP at the Facebook invite!
The DC Record Fair is brought you by Som Records, DC Soul Recordings, and us!