Saturday, March 25, 2017

Changing times

Yesterday turned into a beautiful early Spring day. All the more beautiful because I had the day off work. This is the second week running I have taken a Friday off and made it a long weekend (last weekend that long weekend was taken in a bracing, but thankfully dry, Cornwall). Fridays off are a current experiment with a view to reducing my working hours and making it a fixture. A much better work – life balance and gradual wind down to retirement is my thinking.

Taking advantage of the weather Mrs Darce and I took a sunny stroll to a new favourite local watering hole. There, spurred on by some successful DIYing earlier in the day that entailed putting our fridge freezer back on an even keel (we think a leak of some description had caused a floorboard to rot), conversation turned to the subject of more general house maintenance and room makeovers. By the end of the pub visit we had a plan. Oh dear! DIY and decorating have not been on the agenda for some years.

So it seems changes are afoot.

I guess it is thoughts of approaching retirement (which have been occupying my mind a lot recently), but I have been feeling nostalgic this past week or so, and in particular nostalgic for my 70s disco days.

With changes in the air it made me think of Brass Construction. They were a go to band for me in the mid 70s. The band originally formed in the late 60s, with Randy Muller the 'leader', but in their early years only had only one record release, a 45 in 1970 on Jeff Lane's DOCC label Two Timin' Lady / Take It Easy. It can be found on YouTube (what can't!?) and it is noticeable that their brass sound was immediately fully fledged, and somewhat ahead of its time I think. However, it was another five years before they committed to vinyl again. Their debut album, released in 1975, stood out from the crowd. The brass was prominent, the guitars were insistent, and a novel string sound had been added to the mix. BT Express had featured a similar string sound a year earlier? Yes but that had also been the brainchild of Jeff Lane and Randy Muller. A Wax Poetics article from 2004 is an excellent in depth appreciation of the group and also adds some interesting detail on how the string sound came to be. They go on to feature a number of tracks that feature Randy Muller's involvement. It is interesting to note I hve nearly all of them. 

Kool & The Gang and the Fatback Band had been dancefloor fixtures with their feel good funk vibe for a while but Brass Construction's sound, although anchored in funk, seemed to mark an entry point into a new, more sophisticated, disco sound and also lay down some early markers for the jazz-funk scene.

Pulling out my copy of Brass Construction for the first time in years I was puzzled by the Virgin price sticker on the front cover. I thought I had bought this album on its initial release, but the price sticker suggests it was a few years later. Perhaps until then I had been surviving with the singles that this album spawned, or maybe I lost my original copy and bought a replacement? It's all too hazy now. Scary, I'm sure only a few years ago my memory would have been sharp enough to have had this puzzle nailed.

The whole album sounds really fresh I think after all these years. Every track is a winner.

At risk of blowing my Box download bandwidth again (be sure to tell me when that happens) her is another track. This one was overshadowed by a few of the other tracks at the time but it it's finally got some well deserved love from me now.

Monday, March 13, 2017


This blog is eleven today. Oh dear, I am having trouble with my mojo, I almost missed it!

Only 40 minutes of this auspicious day ( :)  ) left as I type and this is, in truth, the first opportunity I have had to put fingers to keys today. Of course, presented with a similar situation in years past I would have prepared something in advance and scheduled the post. Where is that damn elusive mojo?

It struck me that in those eleven years I have not featured one of my favourite singers nearly enough. So in an attempt to put that right here are two tracks - both B sides - from Johnnie Taylor.

I have been feeling both of these recently.   

Johnnie Taylor - A Fool Like Me  1970

Johnnie Taylor - Hold On This Time  1969

PS: As is customary on this day, the 13th March, birthday greetings go out to Candi Staton.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dori has me hooked

While I think of something more substantial to say I will offer up both sides of this Dori Grayson 45.

I was going post this last Friday following storm Doris as a vaguely topical post, but once again my mojo was/is proving hard to pin down. Vaguely topical simply because Dori – Doris. Yes, tenuous I know, and of course Dori may not be short for Doris at all. (Doris Day would have been the obvious one but didn't seem appropriate here somehow).

Dori's recording career lasted just three 45s  and so was over almost as soon as it had started, rather like storm Doris.

When one hasn't much to say the topic of Dori Grayson is helpful. Why? Because I know almost nothing about her! In fact everything I do know can be found at Deep Soul Heaven as documented by the ever reliable Sir Shambling.

I wasn't aware of Dori Grayson until I stumbled across this 45 on an ebay listing recently. I like the simple production on these songs and find them both insanely catchy.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A collective R.I.P.

Feeling sad at the moment.

We have kept rabbits for at least 15 years now. Pets for the children initially, but always family pets in reality; and it is we, not our children who have elected to keep having a couple of rabbits around. Until this week. We have always put them out in a run on the back lawn during the day. On Wednesday Mrs Darce arrived home and found an empty run. At first, it wasn't clear what had happened, we wondered if a person might have taken them. There was evidence something had lifted the wire at one end but the hole there didn't seem big enough to be relevant. But Whisper and Hector were nowhere to be seen. We looked around but found nothing. Later that night I was restless and went out with the torch to have another look around the garden, and it was then I found both of them – buried separately. A fox must have got them (at least we assume it was a fox). It seems foxes will do this, kill and then bury in a cache, possibly to return later. I retrieved them and we gave them a proper burial yesterday. Rabbits do not like to be alone. Whisper was an old lady and after her old partner died last year we got a new mate for her. Hector was only young. Anyway, they are together again now.

It is strange, the rabbits we have kept have never been house rabbits but right now the house seems so empty and quiet . This is the end of an era for us, we have decided there will be no more rabbits.

I learnt this week of the death of two jazz artists – Al Jarreau and Barbara Carroll R.I.P. I originally became aware of them as a result of my love of jazz-funk in the late Seventies . It prompted me to play the albums you see above for the first time in quite a few years, and make me wonder why I've ignored them for so long. The names from our youth continue to fall.

For Whisper and Hector R.I.P.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Something stirs

Hello, I'm still here. Offline for quite a while there.  As well as hello, I suppose I should also wish you belated Season's Greetings and a Happy New Year! 

In case you were wondering, nothing in particular caused the silence, just a number of little things that resulted in me losing my blogging mojo for a while. I think it's coming back now, although not enough yet that I feel moved to unleash any of my extended ramblings on you :)  

But music you shall have, today brought to you by those extra special Moments. 

Sweet, intensely so I think you will agree.

Moments - What's Your Name  1974          

Friday, December 16, 2016

Put It On The Hawg

No great missive today. Sometimes it's enough to let the music speak for itself.

Some great funky blues here from Jimmy Dawkins.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Simon and the amazing dancing drums

So there I was mulling over whether I could really commit to another year of “Advent-ure” here (i.e. a post a day in December up to Christmas) and then I blinked and it was already the 9th! So no then!

Work has continued to be too all consuming lately. Maximum frustration. You have a computer system that, although not perfect, has served you well for many years, then a new one comes along (in the guise of the great common groupwide system)... and despite many months of testing and “support” from our lauded central team is clearly not configured properly in some areas. I expect many of you have been there so I won't bang on. As a result is all I seem to want to do when I get home in the evenings lately is to sit down in front of the tele and vegetate.

I'm telling myself now there is light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm not sure. Enough of that.

I confess to never paying Joe Simon much attention before. Passed by on the other side of the street. His voice has never grabbed me and I suppose my entry point initially had been 1972 and I maintain his output by then was a bit lame. Anyway I stumbled across this 1970 Sound Stage 7 track of his recently - I Got A Whole Lot Of Lovin' - and was blown away. The track MOVES. Locked down by an insistent bass line and punctuated by some great brass Joe puts in a great performance but it's the drums that really stand out. They are simply amazing. GIVE THE DRUMMER SOME!

I cannot stop playing this – and it's a B-side!

This has caused me to start delving into Joe's catalog and I think I can find some more of his 45s to put on the wantlist. Not long after acquiring this SS7 45 I was at my local little record fair (the mainly R&R) one, more on which anon) and found another Joe Simon 45. When I'm Gone on Vee Jay From earlier in his career and now also in my collection. It's on the Deep side and is also right up my street, and I'm crossing over to the same side of the road as Joe now, it seems.

Swap the drums for some great guitar on this one. 

PS Apologies if you were looking forward to another Feel It Advent-ure (I was and I wasn't), all I can say is “I got a whole lot of lovin' just for you, a whole lot of making up to do” :)