Monday, April 29, 2013

Margie Alexander Babbs RIP

My love of deep soul, and particularly female singers of the genre, led me a few years ago to the small but perfectly formed recording catalog of Margie Alexander. Margie had only five single releases during a thirteen year period that started in the early seventies, and they are all well worth seeking out. She was singing in Clarence Carter’s backing band in the late sixties and it was Carter who got her debut single released on Atlantic in 1971. On the 18th September 1971 Billboard magazine “spotlights” listed it as “predicted to reach the Soul Singles Chart”. Margie was just a few weeks short of her 23rd birthday and might have been anticipating chart success as a present. Alas it was not to be, but listening to that record now (and it’s equally strong B side) you wonder how it wasn’t a hit.

In September 1971 I was just discovering music, and would have been tuned into Pick Of The Pops every Sunday, lapping up everything the poptastic world could throw at me.  From that time I remember Al Green’s “Tired Of Being Alone” as probably being the first Soul record that made me sit up and say “wow!”.  Then, of course, I was totally unaware that there were hundreds of equally sublime soul records out there with the same “wow” factor. I can now easily count Margie Alexander’s debut 45  among those, as finally, a mere 41 and a bit years after its release, I added a copy of it to my collection (it’s seen a few plays I think, but it will do until I find a better copy).

It would have been early in March when that copy of “Can I Be Your Main Thing” dropped through the letterbox and I had been meaning to post it here for a few weeks now. Then, last week, I caught up with the sad news that Margie passed away on 26th March, at the age of 64.   

RIP Margie Alexander Babbs (11 October 1948 – 26 March 2013).

I have three of Margie’s five 45s now, and I will get them all eventually. The 1977 Chi Sound B side(!) “What’cha Tryin' To Do To Me” is just probably the pick of a very fine bunch of recordings that Margie has left us with. You can listen to it over at Deep Soul Heaven.

Friday, April 19, 2013

With a K

Effortlessly moving through the genres here I present to you....

Paul McCartney's long lost dub album.

Ah! No, my mistake, it's Macka with a K.

A recent interwebby purchase for me, this is a great dub album. The back cover gives the line up as:

Piano/Organ: Glenn Adams & Mr Wire
Guitar:              Rick Trater, Bobby Chung
Drums:              Carlton Barrett, Tad Dawkins, Sparrow Martin
Bass:                   Maurice, Family Man Barrett

Special Effects, Production, Arrangement, Mixing:  Brad Osbourne, Phillip Smart, Michael Scudder     

Again, the back cover tells me this is a reissue (early 80s I believe) from Canada, with worldwide distribution arranged from California, USA. The power of dub!

Macka Dub - Ista Episode  197?

Macka Dub - side 1 track 6 (untitled) 197?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Jazz business

As promised two more from my recent car boot haul. The focus this time is on Jazz. 

Rita Reys hailed from The Netherlands and in 1960 was crowned Europe's First Lady Of Jazz. On this album - a rare UK 10" release offering a slimmed down version of her 1956 album The Cool Voice Of Rita Reys - she was backed by a combo led by her then husband Wes Ilcken on one side, and on the other she was joined by the Jazz Messengers who at that time featured Art Blakey, Donald Byrd, Hank Mobley, Horace Silver, and Doug Watkins. What a line up!

Chris Connor recorded this seemingly lesser known album "Witchcraft" in 1959. It was released on Atlantic in the US and on London a year later in the UK. Chris Connor first came to prominence in 1953 as a singer in Stan Kenton's band. She would soon turn solo, and became the first white female jazz singer to be signed to the Atlantic label, in 1956. 

Rita Reys - You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To 1956
(With The Jazz Messengers)

Buy "The Cool Voice Of Rita Reys"

Chris Connor - Baltimore Oriole 1959
(This one is for Ravel)

Buy "I Miss You So"/"Witchcraft"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weighty business

I was going to tell you how the charity shops have fed my vinyl habit pretty well through the winter semi-hibernation of car boot sales. But hold the press! – yes, sharing some of my charity shop scores with you will have to wait for another time because the boot sale season proper is once again upon us - the sun shone at the weekend lifting the temperature a few degrees  and  encouraged the boot sale sellers out, sprinkled across the fields of England like early apple blossom. I’m waxing lyrical because last Sunday I had probably, no definitely, my most successful day ever looking for vinyl at a boot sale.

Mrs Darce is on her annual sojourn to Turkey with her “bestest” friend to visit her friend’s mum. This always happens at roughly this time of year. While the cat’s away… three years ago while Mrs Darce was away I acquired a job lot of second hand hi-fi, including a pair of vintage B&W speakers that weighed the proverbial ton (a tale I told here). Last Sunday I was at it again, once again bringing home a weighty consignment, but this time it was a big pile of vinyl!

After a late one the night before I didn’t wake up early enough to go to my planned boot sale venue on Sunday morning, so at the last minute I decided to visit one I hadn’t been to before that starts later. An excellent decision as it turned out. 

I was stumbling around the sellers and showing some vague interest in some Dylan albums when another digger came along. “You ought to go down in the corner” he said “a guy down there has got a lot of vinyl, I’ve bought a few but run out of money”.  So, leaving the Dylan albums – I’m not really a fan, they weren’t in good nick and turned out to be £5 a pop – I made it double quick down to “the corner”.  Sure enough there were plenty of records to look through, they possibly had some connection to a closed record shop I think from some comments made by the seller, and lucky for me the entire time I was there no other diggers came along. I came away with 30 big ones at a £1 each around 40 little ones 25p each (at one point I was worried about running out of money too). There are a few pretty desirable records in this lot – no Beatles or Hendrix first presses or anything like that, but a few bits that are worth something with at least one nought on the end I would think, and one ace in the hole – see below. (The other digger mentioned above said he had a Coltrane album in his haul so he may have had more cream).  

There were quite a few jazz albums in my haul. I will feature a couple next time but the focus here is on the singles, which were an interesting mix. Mostly late 70s and 80s UK pop, post-punk, and indie but every now and then I would randomly come across a US 60s era soul/jazz tinged release. Or in this case one out of Panama!

This was the only record in the pile that wasn’t sleeved. My first thoughts were, based on the group name, it was going to be some sort of 60s garage-freak-psych out thing but nothing could be further from the truth. One side is deep sweet soul gem with really atmospheric backing and a great drum sound, and the other is a guajira jazz up groove (“Gua-Jazz”, was comped a couple of years ago on a Soundway CD (& vinyl) featuring Panamanian music). It transpires that this 45 is extremely rare: a completely trashed (and cracked) copy sold on ebay last year for $70, and copies in better condition (as is my newly acquired copy) sell for… ahem... much more than that it seems! 

And here’s Johnny Otis with a funky “Jaws” from, presumably, 1975.