White Ape,
The TVD First Date

“The first record I ever bought myself was Francois Hardy’s “Autumn Rendezvous” EP for 10p in Oxfam. It was scratched to hell with no sleeve but I loved having my own record that I could play. Sadly destroyed when, aping Woody Pop’s Record Graveyard, I pretended to break it over my knee and accidentally…broke it over my knee.”

“Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ house, my parents would play either Sgt. Pepper’s or The Best of Nat King Cole, Vol. 2 (I don’t know what had happened to Vol. 1 if they ever had it). Sgt Pepper’s drew an incredibly vivid world for a little kid. “Lucy In The Sky” beguiled and spooked me, such a fascinating world but somehow sinister in a way I couldn’t put my finger on. The whole album has a whirling, kaleidoscopic carnival atmosphere undercut with glimpses of darkness: the guy who dies on the operating table in “Good Morning, Good Morning,” the anguished, abandoned parents in “She’s Leaving Home” and of course, “A Day In The Life,”—they’re just such incredibly rich songs and to hear them on vinyl through decent speakers sounded like nothing I’ve heard before or since.

Nat King Cole’s voice is impossibly smooth. For me—and all respect due to the Rat Pack—he’s the best crooner bar none. There’s a real haunting melancholy to his slower stuff—to hear him sing “Ballerina” or “Smile” is so touching, the reserve and quiet dignity in his voice makes the sadness that much more poignant.”

“I have memories of discovering, aged 7ish, that my parents’ wind-up cabinet gramophone could play their copy of the William Tell overture (the Lone Ranger theme!) VERY fast—if you cranked up the RPM.”

“I was only truly blown away by the warm, full, superior sound of vinyl aged roughly 20, though. My dad, brother and I visited my uncle, who owns a very well-kept turntable and some superb speakers—an evening of Beatles and Leonard Cohen records and expensive cognac. Just right!”

“I was broke as hell at Uni and looking for a cheap place to rent when I found a crappy house in Moss Side with two lads from Wigan who were much cooler than me.”

“One of them had a turntable and a huge collection of old records, and we’d sit in listening to Lennon singles and old John Martyn on vinyl, smoking poorly rolled cigarettes and drinking endless cups of tea. Bliss…”

“My parents have never been big music fans and have a record collection to reflect that. Some of the usual culprits are there—Rumours, Dark Side of the Moon, the odd Dylan album, but never enough to get lost in for weeks on end. Or so I’d thought…

“Bored, one long summer holiday I started delving through a roughly assembled stack where they’d all been gathering dust for years and picked out an armful, including Exodus, a Stones Best Of, and something featuring a nonchalant-looking raccoon in a smart red jacket and a top hat. Strangely enough, this turned out to be the one LP that prompted me to persuade my dad to let me move the barely used record player up to my room to investigate any other undiscovered family gems that might have escaped my attention.

A few years later, when at university, I saw that same unmistakable sleeve peeking out of a bargain bin in some nondescript chain record shop and picked it up for a couple of quid. Once I’d taken it out of its crappy plastic jewel case, it didn’t matter what I played it on—it was cold and distant, nothing like the warm and familiar sound that I’d heard over and over that year. As disappointed as I was, I realised that I finally understood (a mixed blessing…) what all those boring blokes in Mojo were going on about all that time—some albums were written for vinyl and just get lost on any other format—JJ Cale’s Naturally is one definitely one of those.”

White Ape’s EP, “Kick It Down” is released via Sotones on 19th January 2015.

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