What Music Takes You To Church?

Revisiting a few familiar favorites this evening.

Every listener has a few – one or two exceptional records which transport them to a metaphysical beyond, or one could say, records that take them to church.  One unparalleled example is Glenn Goins calling down the Mothership at Parliament Funkadelic’s performance in Houston in 1976.

But my personal favorite out-of-body musical experience is Spiritualized’s Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.  The entire album is a neo-psychedelic gospel noisepop anthem and one of the finest and most cohesive works of the shoegaze genre.

J Spaceman and his band are accompanied by Dr John on the piano and the Hammond B3, as well as the voices of The London Community Gospel Choir. There are touches of hammer dulcimer, autoharp, accordion, string and horn sections, and pedal steel making for one brilliantly-refined heroin-inspired masterpiece.

The 17-minute closing epic, “Cop Shoot Cop” is a monumental performance.  The track’s foundation is a simple gospel blues oscillation between two fundamental chords.  J’s understated half-spoken vocals usher the listener through a series of verses varying on a primary lyrical theme, each punctuated by twelve bars of distortion pedal punching noise which culminates after the final verse with 6 minutes of an unrelenting eruption of cacophonous clamor.  Impressively, the hyperactive electric bass which has been walking up and down scales for the duration of the piece slowly introduces and repeats the root note of the track and guides the performers through the fog machine and wall-of-sound pandemonium back to the familiar gospel structure for a few minutes of meditative peace while Spaceman repeats, “and I will love you… and I will love you…” for the album’s finale.

This is a record best-experienced in your finest pair of circumaural headphones, and bested only by the 3-disc UK Expanded Edition.

Ladies and gentlemen… we are floating in space.

Psychedelic Sunday

I had a fantastic day antiquing with friends today!

You come across some unique characters at flea markets and antique shows and today I learned that the man I always see with a table full of archived science fiction radio broadcasts is a good friend of Mark Evanier and has personally met Sergio Aragones on numerous occasions!  This man has encyclopedic knowledge of all his archived programs including all 26 seasons of Doctor Who.  When I asked him if he had any of the rare merchandise of the 1960s The Prisoner series, he smiled and replied, “you mean the three paperbacks?  No… but the third one is the best.”  This blew my mind because few Americans I’ve met have heard of The Prisoner, let alone read the books.

But on to the records of the day…

A sealed limited edition colored vinyl landed on my doorstep last night.  After verifying the catalog number I promptly re-sealed the packaging and shelved it away until the end of June.  It’s going to be a little birthday gift to myself.   Stay tuned for my birthday post where I’ll unveil the album.

The first table I hit at the antique market was a routine stop, and this time I found not one but two Miles Davis LPs from his electric period.

The first, Big Fun is one I’d seen at the local annual record show just a week prior.  The copy at the show was $30 so I couldn’t pass up the double-LP for the $4 it was marked this time around.  Big Fun is a collection of outtakes, but as a Miles Davis record even the outtakes shine.  The standout track is the 20 minute, “Great Expectations.”  The Allmusic guide calls it a disc for fans, because it fills in the puzzle of what was happening between 1969 and 1970.

I was delighted when I read the closing sentence of their review which stated that others should look to Bitches Brew, In A Silent Way, Jack Johnson, or Live Evil as starting points.  This rang especially true for me as my in-progress introduction to Davis followed that precise path of albums, with Live Evil as the next on my list.

Miles Davis - Big Fun

The other Miles Davis record was one I’d been eying at the market for the past 4 weeks and luckily, no one had purchased it.  A Tribute to Jack Johnson is a wonderfully funky album.  Herbie Hancock had been passing through the building where the jam session was taking place and ended up sitting in on the Hammond organ.  I later learned that the first twelve minutes of the second side revolves around a single bass riff lifted from James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.”

Before leaving the vendor’s booth, he noticed the album had a very minor seam split on one corner.  He taught me a great fix – you first place a 12″ fitted poly bag around the album jacket with the open end on the same edge as the open end of the jacket.  The tight fit holds the seam together rendering it unnoticeable and prevents further tearing.  You then slide it into a 12.5″ poly bag with the open end at the top of the album.  Finally, insert the disc and dust jacket vertically into the outer sleeve.  The disc can now be easily accessed and the album back cover is still visible.  Soon you’ll forget all about the seam split.  This is just one of the many reasons I love the markets I visit.

Miles Davis - Tribute to Jack Johnson

The cement statue vendor I was looking for was away for an estate sale this weekend, so I continued on to another booth where I found a table of LPs all in poly bags.  I instantly spotted Pink Floyd’s A Nice Pair which is a double album of their first two LPs.  The copy has the generic “dentist” sticker at the upper right instead of the original ” W. R. Phang’s dental surgery” photo, and the nude center image is covered by the round pink “A Nice Pair” sticker, so I believe this is the more common version of the disc.  Still, it is a temporary remedy for not owning a vinyl copy of “Piper…” so I picked it up.

I did however discover that there are a few differences in the audio between the original releases and the US pressings of A Nice Pair.  The most disappointing change is the substitution of the live version of “Astronomy Domine” from the Ummagumma LP instead of the original recording from Piper at the Gates of Dawn.  As that was one of the tracks I was most looking forward to, I will likely be putting this double LP up for sale once I secure an original pressing of their first album.

Pink Floyd - A Nice Pair

Pink Floyd – A Nice Pair (original cover uncensored)

Pink Floyd - A Nice Pair (Dentistry sticker)

Pink Floyd – A Nice Pair (Nude Sticker and Dentistry sticker)

I’ve also just ordered two Funkadelic recordings – one which has been missing from my P-Funk library for too long and the other will serve as a replacement for a copy I bought at a record show which has significant needle wear.

More to come, thanks so much for tuning in!

UPDATE: I made a few additional discoveries about the Miles Davis recordings which I would hate to leave out of this post.

In the year 2000, Columbia Records released a double CD version of Big Fun, catalog #C2K 63973.  This version featured four additional tracks which did not appear on any of the prior releases.  I researched the bonus tracks and discovered that originally appeared on the 1998 four CD set titled The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (C4K 65570).

One of these tracks is a beautiful near-ambient piece titled, “Recollections” which nearly 20 minutes in length.  If you enjoyed a single moment of In a Silent Way, you should give this track a listen.

The other track I discovered is quite different from “Recollections.”   I had been further exploring Davis’ electric period and came upon a live album titled Agharta from 1975.  The lengthy opening track, titled “Prelude” was unlike anything I’d heard before.  The Allmusic Guide stated simply that Agharta is “the greatest electric funk-rock jazz record ever made — period.”

Turn your speakers up and check out Pete Cosey’s guitar solo.  Start viewing at the 7 minute mark of this clip.  During the next sixty seconds the band falls silent and Cosey goes absolutely wild.   Enjoy this outstanding minute of music.

I am already on the hunt for an original copy of Agharta.  I’ll keep you posted.

Thanks again!

Treasures Untold

Between my recent motherboard failure and setting up the replacement PC my stepfather so generously donated to me, I’ve picked up a lot of vinyl that didn’t make it to my blog.  I thought I’d take a moment to highlight some of the better ones that I’ve neglected.

First, I found Funkadelic’s Electric Spanking of War Babies in NM shape at an antique shop.  It is another outstanding example of Pedro Bell’s artwork.

The next item I picked up was the first album to feature regenerative tape loops which Robert Fripp and Brian Eno dubbed ‘Frippertronics.’  The album is an ambient classic – No Pussyfooting.

Side A is the standout track at over 20 minutes in length, titled “The Heavenly Music Corporation.”

I insist on tracking down original pressings whenever possible, and I was lucky to find an extremely clean copy at a great price.

And thanks to my friend Brrrn and good timing at a flea market, two more early Eno recordings fell into my hands.  One was Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) – Eno’s second solo album and the other was a long-time favorite collaboration with Harold Budd titled Ambient 2 – Plateaux of Mirror.  Plateaux was one of my first digital ambient albums many years ago.

The next treasure is a deep cut, and one of historical significance.  I was exploring The Orb’s catalog and read about a curious track called “The Blue Room,” a 17 minute song which appeared on the album u.f.orb.  What I discovered was that the original single was in fact 40:00 long.

From Wiki:

The UK charts had recently decided that any release with more than 40 minutes of play would be classified as an album rather than single. The Orb thus decided to record a 39:57 version of “Blue Room” for a special release. “Blue Room” is the longest single to ever reach the UK charts, peaking at number eight.

If you have ANY interest in ambient house, you need to hear this song.

The last find in the spectrum of ambient music was a dollar bin neoclassical LP by David Lanz.  Nightfall is one of his best works.

There were several other discoveries including a number of Yes albums previously missing from my collection and Zappa’s Hot Rats which features wonderful contributions from Don Van Vliet.

Last but most certainly not least, I found a number of Sesame Street albums to add to my Jim Henson library.  It’s getting harder and harder to find ones I don’t already have, (over 40 at last count) so these were a treat.

The Ernie LP is extra special.  Mint in shrink, it includes some of my most beloved memories from the Street – “Rubber Duckie,” “Imagination,” “I Don’t Want to Live On The Moon,” and the hilarious “Dance Myself to Sleep.”

If only it featured “Put Down the Duckie” it would be my favorite Sesame record ever.  Sadly, that duet between Ernie and Hoots the Owl never made it to vinyl.

Here’s the video for “Dance Myself to Sleep.”  If you’re really savvy you might just catch the Andrews Sisters reference Ernie makes to a hit from 1941.  Watch for it!

Big PFunk score at the Fall Record Show

I’m back from the fall record show, and the funk table was back again this season.  I found a number of albums from the PFunk family, including Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns and Bernie Worrell.

Prices were steep, but I talked him down on my top four from his stash.

Below is a shot of my Pfunk collection (minus the Horny Horns albums) before the show…

Make my funk the P-Funk - my collection before adding the LPs from the show

And here are the four new LPs I picked up.  The Bootsy album was sealed with a comic inside, pictured below…

More funk from the record show

Bootsy Comic

Also new in the mail from Germany is an absolute classic album from when I was a kid – They Might Be Giants’ all-time best-seller, Flood on vinyl.  This was the album that featured “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” and “Particle Man.”

They Might Be Giants - Flood LP (German Import)

Flood LP

I just met George Clinton

Last night my girlfriend and I saw George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic live in Buffalo.  I brought along the rare limited edition Osmium 180g picture disc which I posted to this blog on June 28th.  You can re-visit the post for details here.

To sum it up, it’s a re-issue of Parliament’s first record, 750 copies were produced in Argentina in 2003, and all quickly disappeared.  The copy I found was in Thessaloniki, Greece and in mint unplayed condition.

Osmium Pic Disc

There were several setbacks looming over us during my mission to get the album signed by the captain of the Mothership.  The weather man had predicted thunderstorms just as George was set to take the stage, potentially raining out the show.  Also, being new to the area, we got lost on our way to the concert.  Good fortune was with me because I jumped out of the car and stopped the only person I could find on the street… who then generously led us right to the show!

The rain never came, and the set was incredible.  During the concert I found three other audience members with albums to get signed.  We teamed up and talked to security, agreeing to meet beside the tour bus after the performance.  It paid off.  After the park quieted down and everyone left, Joe “Foley” McCreary stepped out of the bus and signed my disc.  (He played bass with Miles Davis all through the late 80s and now plays drums for George.)

Joe Foley McCreary Jr autograph
Next out of the bus was Carlos McMurray who gave an amazing performance as Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk.  He signed the disc with a smile.

Carlos Sir Nose McMurray autograph
And just before George hopped into his van he approached me, took the album in his hands, removed his sunglasses to check out what I’d given him, and happily added his autograph.

George Clinton autograph
The challenges of the night weren’t over just yet – the concert was over by 9:30 we wandered aimlessly until 11pm unable to find our car.  We were still disoriented from the confusing journey into the show.  Thankfully, friends came to our rescue and we stopped into a local bar only to find that luck was with us again – the woman who gave us our parking pass was sitting at the bar.  She remembered us and told us right where we parked!  (Honestly, what are the odds of that?!)

It was a fitting end to an exciting night.  Huge thanks to Nacy for the record, which is now my favorite disc for the love and memories attached.




The Gift of Funk

I’m back from my 30th birthday vacation, and it will most certainly be remembered.   I took home a number of LPs, so watch this blog for several posts in the coming week(s).

Osmium, Parliament’s first full length album, was originally released on Invictus Records in 1970.  A mint copy will set you back one or two hundred dollars on eBay.

Parliament - Osmium (front)

Parliament - Osmium (Back)

All reissues have the artist name re-set horizontally instead of vertically.

The original album is highly collectible.  According to popsike.com, 11 copies in varying condition have auctioned this year.

This version, produced by Earmark/Sanctuary & Get Back Records in 2003 is a limited edition 180g picture disc released in Argentina in 2003.  Only 750 copies were pressed, and in the last four years I’ve found one copy for sale.  So when this one surfaced in Thessaloniki, Greece I put it at the top of my birthday wish list.  Thanks to a kind and loving mother in law it’s the latest addition to my PFunk family collection.

Parliament - Osmium (Picture Disc)
Here’s a taste of the soulful funk on this LP.

The next PFunk related disc I’m after is the “I Wanna Testify” RV207 7 inch single that George Clinton released with his doo-wop group, The Parliaments in 1967 (before Osmium was recorded.)

Stay tuned for more later this week!

Record Store Day (Revisit)

It’s been a busy week – I’ve picked up 50 new albums and am working on a post that will highlight a number of them.  In the meantime here’s a forgotten post from Record Store Day 2010 which fell through the cracks in the months between my old blog and the new site.

I hit various record shops in NYC that morning with a specific plan of action.

Record Store Map

Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica
Trout Mask Replica (1969)

“A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast ‘n bulbous! Got me?”

I was blown away when I found this disc.  It’s been on my wish-list for quite some time, but it’s long out of print and highly sought-after, so I never thought I’d actually own a copy myself.

Matt Groening had this to say about Trout Mask Replica:

“I took it home and put it on… it was the worst drek I’d ever heard in my life. They’re not even trying!  They’re just playing randomly! And then I played it again and thought, it sounds horrible, but they mean it to sound this way. The third or fourth time it started to grow on me. And the fifth or sixth time… I loved it. And the seventh or eighth time I thought it was the greatest album ever made and I still do.”

The legendary John Peel once said that Beefheart “is the most important figure to emerge from the rock era of the 1960s and 1970s.  I heard echoes of his music in some of the records I listened to last week. And I’ll hear more echoes in the records I’ll listen to this week.”

He also called him “rock’s only real genius.”

Carl Sagan - A Glorious Dawn
Carl Sagan – A Glorious Dawn 7″ etched picture disc (2009)

“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

Symphony of Science is a musical project designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form.  For the song “A Glorious Dawn,” speech recordings of astrophysicist Carl Sagan and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking were auto-tuned and set to music.  The result was not a kitschy novelty track, but a beautifully philosophical tune that stands quite well on its own.

As an added bonus, the b-side of the disc is etched with the image that appears on the Golden Record which was sent into space on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977.  (Sagan directed the committee that selected the sounds for the Voyager LP.)

Voyager Record

Barbara Feldon - "99" single
Barbara Feldon – 99/Max (1966)

A strange and unusual item… Barbara Feldon played the spy 99 on the ‘Get Smart’ TV show back in the 1960’s with Don Adams. Here she sings seductively about her prowess, and then, on the B side, about her secret passion for Max (Don Adams). The music is in the same vein as Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Boots Are Made For Walkin’.  I also have a recording of Beck performing this song live.  “99” is the most rare of all my Get Smart collectibles.

Fred Wesley & the Horny Horns - Say Blow by Blow Backwards
Fred Wesley and the Horny Horns – Say Blow By Blow Backwards (1979)

The Horny Horns involved many of the members of Parliament Funkadelic, with Fred Wesley on trombone, Maceo Parker on tenor and alto sax, and production by George Clinton and Bootsy Collins.  I found this disc beside a stack of Bootsy LPs, but I had to draw the line for the sake of my wallet.

Parliament - Chocolate City
Chocolate City (1975)

Another original pressing to add to my collection of all things P-Funk.  “God bless Chocolate City and its vanilla suburbs.”

JBs - Doing it to Death
J.B.’s – Doin’ It To Death (1973)

Just as I was leaving the shop where I picked up Trout Mask Replica, I took a quick look through the milk crates of “bargain bin” cheap LPs on a small table outside the store.  Astonishingly, stashed among the mostly disposable LPs was this copy of Doin’ It To Death, marked at $3!

This album also contains favorites like “More Peas” and “You Can Have Watergate Just Gimme Some Bucks and I’ll Be Straight.”

More From PFunk and Pedro Bell

I just picked up a UK import copy of Standing on the Verge of Getting It On, my 16th album in the PFunk family of musicians.  It’s one of the many Funkadelic records to feature the art of Pedro Bell.  Pedro also contributed the liner notes about the PFunk mythology, and they’re absolutely incredible.  No CD packaging could ever do justice to the detailed art and volumes of text contained in each album he’s put his pen to.

Standing on the Verge of Getting it On (Front)

Standing on the Verge of Getting it On (Back)

Standing on the Verge of Getting it On (Inside Left)

Standing on the Verge of Getting it On (Inside Right)

From Pedro’s liner notes:

WET EPIC DEBAUCHERY

AS IT IS WRITTEN HENCEFORTH . . . that on the eighth Day, the Cosmic Stumpet of MOTHER NATURE was spawned to envelope this Third Planet in FUNKACIDAL VIBRATIONS. And She birthed Apostles Ra, Hendrix, Stone & CLINTON to preserve all funkiness on man unto eternity . . . But! Fraudulent forces of obnoxious JIVATION grew; Sun Ra strobed back to Saturn to awaint his Next Reincarnation, Jimi was forced back into basic atoms; Sly was co-opted into a jester monolith and . . . only seedling GEORGE  remained! As it came to be, he did indeed, begat FUNKADELIC to restore Order Within The Univers. And nuourished from the pamgrierian mammaritic melonpaps of Mother Natur, the followers of FUNKADELIA multiplied incessantly!

(The funky tale continues for another seven HUNDRED words.)  Can you imagine fitting that on a 4.75″ CD sleeve?

I also brought home a copy of Funk or Walk, the debut album by Brides of Funkenstein thanks to a very dear friend.

Brides of Funkenstein

I found the following rare Pedro Bell interview clip on undercoverblackman.blogspot.com.

It’s from a Chicago cable-access show called “Chic-A-Go-Go” in 1997.

More From PFunk and Overton Loyd

Funkentelechy Vs. the Placebo Syndrome was released by Parliament in 1977. Beside being one of Parliament’s finest albums, it came with extras that would never be possible in a cassette or CD format.

Parliament-Funkentelechy

Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome

Both the fold-out poster of Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk and the included comic were illustrated by Overton Loyd.

Above: The comic book from FVPS

Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk Poster

The Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk Poster

Loyd is best known for creating the cover art for Motor Booty Affair, which was released the following year.

Billboard Magazine recognized Loyd for “Best Use of Computer Graphics” back in ’82 for the video effects in George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog.”

Funkentelechy was one of the first three Parliament records I bought, and has always remained a favorite.

And during my last trip to Rochester I replaced my copy of the live P.Funk Earth Tour LP with a copy that still had the poster of Dr. Funkenstein inside.

Dr Funkenstein poster
In my next post I’ll feature my favorite PFunk artist – Pedro Bell.

Hardcore Jollies

Took another trip to the Super Flea today and found some great items!

I stopped by a pinball and arcade vendor I hadn’t seen before – he fully restores vintage gaming machines and builds custom mods.  He had an original Pac-Man machine and a few other Pac-related arcades that he had modified to play 40-60 games each.  After speaking with him I learned that these were not your typical MAME (multiple arcade machine emulator) cabinets – he actually installs the hardware for all 40 titles into one machine!

The coolest item in his booth was an original Doctor Who pinball machine, fully restored and looking brand new!

Dr Who Pinball Back Box

Dr Who Pinball Table

From there I made my way to a record vendor who I knew had a title I was looking for.  But I was surprised to find not one but eight original Parliament Funkadelic LPs.  They were stickered with outrageously high prices.  He was asking $65 for a VG condition copy of Gloryhallastoopid, which one can readily acquire for between $8 and $12.   I leveled with him and when he realized how well I knew my P-Funk history he conceded and let me name my price.

I walked away with Funkadelic’s Hardcore Jollies, which features wildly funky album art by the great Pedro Bell.

Hardcore Jollies
To date I’ve got 12 LPs from Parliament/Funkadelic/Bootsy’s Rubber Band.  I also have a few albums that Fred Wesley recorded with the Horny Horns around the same time they were performing with the PFunk.

Most likely the next related disc I’ll look for is “(I Wanna) Testify” – the hit single released by The Parliaments (George Clinton’s barbershop doo-wop group) in 1967.

For those who missed the Mothership Connection live in Houston Halloween night 1976, this is the most soulful moment of the show.  Watch the landing of the Mothership while Glen Goins takes us to church…

Published in: on January 30, 2011 at 10:41 pm  Comments (1)  
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