If there’s a silent narrative we tend to underscore often, it’s that record shops and records themselves are an intergenerational construct, no longer for the older, and often male, audience. The “vinyl renaissance” as it’s been referred to, is bouyed by musicians across the age spectrum who just get it—regardless of gender or genre. And the fans are following.
Enter Chicago’s Fairview—Matt, Lizzy, and Becca—and their brand new video “Put It On,” which we’re delighted to debut today. The trio signed to Tom Higgenson of the Plain White T’s production company has delivered a track so spot on—infectious and hooky—which arrives in tandem with a video shot at Chicago’s Dusty Groove Records that speaks to the allure of records and record shops and the individual affinity one comes to have with a record as personal soundtrack.
The band has also given us the track as a free download for your on the go listening, but we had to wonder to ourselves—what record holds a significant meaning for the three in Fairview? They were more than ready with answers.
“If I were to hold a record in the video it would be the album “+” by Ed Sheeran. When I was a teenager, I worked in the TV department of a Best Buy, and they would run different videos on a loop on all the TV’s. One of the videos was an interview with Ed Sheeran where he told his story. The video ended with a live performance of the song “The A Team.” Hearing that play on repeat every day really inspired me, and the songs on the album were very influential to me.”
“As a child, I got into music in that crossover period between CDs and MP3s. I still buy CDs today so I can put them on an MP3 player and also play them on my oversized Hi-Fi. But I also buy vinyl records—special ones, discoloured jazz and roots sleeves that I summon up the courage to play and meditate over, still amateurish with the needle. The last record I bought was a James Cleveland LP from Sounds of the Universe on Broadwick Street. It was so magisterial I haven’t been able to look at it since. I’ll tell you about my own collection some time. First, here’s a story about my people.”
“When we were growing up in Leicester my Mum worked a number of jobs so she kind of relied on our great-grandparents for childcare. We spent days and days in their big house over the main road. Grandmam and Farda had come over from Monserrat in the ’60s. Fuck knows what they thought of the East Midlands. I was born there and I know what I think of it.
Their house was typical of West Indian homes in that, as well as having Caribbean traits (an off-limits room, untouched behind glass for ‘best’, chairs covered in plastic, orange peels strung from the ceiling) it also aspired to an assimilated Britishness. There were China cups, pressed suits, pictures of the Queen.
Rod Stewart remains my greatest lost hero, who went from a likable rogue with a knack for writing great and frequently self-deprecating songs to the cheesy Lothario of “Hot Legs” and “Tonight’s the Night.” And while pinning down when he jumped the shark from jovial rascal to queasy-making lecher (my pick: the lines from “Tonight’s the Night” that go, “You’d be a fool to stop this time/Spread your wings and let me come inside”) can be difficult, in my humble opinion his final great moment was 1972’s Never a Dull Moment, which was not nearly as great as 1971’s Every Picture Tells a Story, but still highlighted Stewart as an irrepressible rake rather than a sleazy ladies’ man.
Sure, both 1974’s Smiler and 1975’s Atlantic Crossing have their moments, and even 1976’s A Night on the Town includes the great “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” But Never a Dull Moment is the last Stewart LP to include more good tracks than mediocre ones, and features some undeniable classics in “Lost Paraguayos,” “Mama You Been on My Mind,” and the wonderful “You Wear It Well.” Indeed, Never a Dull Moment lives up to its title, although I have to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of the blues standard “I’d Rather Go Blind,” which Etta James turned into a hit in 1968. On the other hand, his cover of Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” rocks and rolls thanks to the cranked-up guitar of Ron Wood (the Faces featured on Rod’s first four “solo” records; odd how their ultimate disappearance coincided with his downfall) and the powerful drum thump of Micky Waller, who’d played with Stewart back in the days of The Steampacket.
The LP features more covers than originals, never a good sign, but all of the Stewart originals (which he co-wrote either with Wood or classical guitarist Martin Quittenton of blues-rock band Steamhammer (not to be confused with The Steampacket) are stellar. Opener “True Blue, ” on which Faces’ stalwarts Wood, keyboardist Ian McLagan, and bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane keep things punchy, features Stewart in familiar mode; down on his luck, but still high-spirited, and trying to find his way back home. “I just don’t know what to do,” he sings, just before Wood cranks up both the volume and the tempo and the band goes into boogie mode, complete with the sound of a racecar and McLagan really laying it out on organ. Fantastic tune.
Bassist-bandleader-composer Charles Mingus remains one of the most important figures in the history of recorded sound. A jazzman of uncommon versatility, his extensive achievement is deeply linked to a voluminous personality and an occasionally volatile temper. In 1963, as part of a brief, fertile association with Impulse! Records, he waxed The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady; it’s widely rated as the apex of his career, which in turn awards it placement amongst the great moments in 20th century music. A vinyl reissue is out now courtesy of Superior Viaduct.
Please forgive me if I’ve fallen egregiously behind the times, but I continue to perceive the goal of education as more than a factory churning out highly efficient producers brandishing economically useful skills, a mass of graduates left to dodge underemployment in hopes of spending decades in the modern workplace’s existential ditch. But maybe I’m just frightfully naive in considering higher learning as the valiant endeavoring to intellectually engage with generations of individuals, hopefully leaving them at least somewhat prepared for the ups and downs of existence, and potentially armed in adulthood with the knowledge to utilize portions of history’s immense landscape to their advantage.
And not only history but art, which is easily the most disrespected component in contemporary academe. This may come as a shock to anyone aware of the number of art schools, conservatories, and Liberal Arts institutions taking up residence from sea to shining sea, but my observation concerns quality rather than quantity; to get down to the matter at hand, while Charles Mingus’ life and music are far from absent in the educational curriculum, I know of no school offering an extended, intensive course in Mingus Studies.
“When I think back to my childhood, in fact my earliest memories of existing on this planet, it was filled with music. It’s not a surprise, it’s nothing new, and I’m sure you’ve heard this story a thousand times before, but it’s a love story that started from an early age that has continued into the present. My love affair with vinyl.”
“Just like distant memories of it always being sunny in the summer holidays (when in fact it probably rained for the most part—it was the UK after all), vinyl reminds me of the nostalgic days of childhood.
Saturday afternoons and evenings always stand out. My dad, taking advantage of my mum’s afternoon shop, would often drag out his record collection and create the most wonderful sound track, shouting out across the roof tops of East London. It was the sound of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s expertly blended by my own personal DJ, my dad.
I’ve never attempted to disguise my adamantine disgust with most new wave music or any of its horrifying offshoots. I think the Cars suck and Squeeze blow, and I could go on naming new wave bands I despise until the cows wearing skinny keyboard neckties come home. So imagine my surprise when I heard Liverpool’s Yachts’ 1979 eponymous debut (it was called S.O.S. in England) and actually found I liked it. Caused me to hate myself, it did. And made me wonder whether I was mutating, yes mutating, and would continue to do so until I found myself a bona fide new waver, which was a frightening and disheartening thought indeed.
I like Yachts for two reasons—first, they were funny and clever lads who liked a cynical larf above all, and second, they preferred a big guitar and Farfisa organ approach to the synthesizers that rendered much new wave anathema to me. As they sing in the great “Love You, Love You,” which comes at you like a great early Elvis Costello number, “I wouldn’t climb any mountain for you/Ford any stream that’s a daft thing to do/’Cos I’m cynical, cynical, cynical through and through” and you get the point. Then there’s the wonderful bash and romp that is “Box 202,” in which the singer loses his girlfriend in a plane crash and seeks to find a suitable replacement by placing a classified ad in the trade papers. To these lads, callousness comes naturally, and I like it. I also like the way “Box 202”comes with a powerful guitar riff, which is not something I associate with the kind of new wave I find so horrifying.
The band on the debut LP (Bob Bellis, drums and vocals; John Campbell, vocals; Martin Dempsey, bass and vocals; Henry Christian Priestman, keyboards and vocals; and Martin Watson, guitar and vocals) played their first gig opening for Elvis Costello, and stuck around the offices of Stiff Records long enough to record the irrepressibly clever and Farfisa-fueled “Suffice to Say,” which when it isn’t spelling out its own shortcomings (“I never wrote a middle eight/So we’ll have to do without/But there is an instrumental break/Right after this”) as a song gets to the point: “Suffice to say you love me/Can’t say that I blame you.” Talk about your chutzpah.
Earlier this year Fire Records released Josephine Foster’sNo More Lamps in the Morning, a fine LP further detailing her prowess of song and voice in fruitful collaboration with the band led by her guitarist husband Victor Herrero. Choosing not to dally in following it up, More Amor hits the racks on July 29; credited not to Foster but to Mendrugo, the 11 tracks present a richly casual Spanish folk-imbued collective framework that’s simultaneously deep in roots and deliciously non-trad in constitution. It’s available on vinyl, compact disc, and digital.
One of the immediate qualities arising from More Amor is a ’60s feel, though that shouldn’t be construed as a deliberate attempt to tap into the essence of the decade. No, the similarity basically comes down to a sustained pursuit of expanded possibilities stemming from a folk milieu, a type of non-labored ambience that extends to Foster’s solo work.
To be fair, the same could be said for many in the New Weird America/ freak-folk realm. That’s the scene from whence Foster established her name; first surfacing in 2000, she rose to higher prominence mid-decade through a handful of discs on Locust Music and Bo’Weavil before hooking up with Fire in ’09 with Graphic as a Star.
Through a combination of tastefulness and verve Foster’s work is a cut above the Weird/ freaky norm, and in turn she’s thrived where numerous ’00s cohorts have fallen by the wayside. And if pegging her as channeling the ’60s rubs one the wrong way, she can alternately be described as a bohemian soul more interested in the work of great poets from prior centuries than what’s currently trending on social media.
The Vinyl Guide is a weekly podcast for fans and collectors of vinyl records. Each week is an audio-documentary on your favourite records, often including interviews with band members and people who were part of the project.
It’s hosted by Nate Goyer, a self-described vinyl maniac who enjoys listening to records and sharing the stories behind them. Despite his Yankee accent, Nate lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, 2 kids, and about 1,500 records. (But only about 1,000 of them his wife knows about.)
The Vinyl Guide takes records one by one, telling the tale of how they came to be, why the work is important, and then shares how collectors can tell one pressing from another. Learn more at the TheVinylGuide.com or simply subscribe via iTunes or RSS feed.
We’re on the road, this time to Japan which is a cratedigger’s version of heaven without all that annoying harp music. We visit Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima for an unprecedented record roadtrip extravaganza, give tips for those of you planning to make the excursion one day, plus we speak to two great shops, Best Sound Records in Shimokitazawa in Tokyo and Hitozoku Records in Kyoto!