“Up the Hill Backwards” is the fourth and final single from Bowie’s 1980 LP release Monsters. The B-Side features an unreleased instrumental track entitled “Crystal Japan.” Particularly special to this 12inch is the accompanying bonus material. A 12 x 12 sheet of stamps designed by Bowie himself. The fact that the perforations holding the sheet together are still in tact is a miracle. Typically things like this don’t survive 40 years of handling.
The images are of Bowie in his Pierrot clown costume. It appears that Bowie took the photo sheet and colored them in with felt pens, adding some text to a few while crossing others out with an X, which gives the sheet a feel of a “work in progress.” The front and back of the single’s cover bear the same aesthetic with a dulled pastel variation. A must for any Bowie fan.
There is a lot of throwback music coming out these days. New records that capture an old sound so well they actually seem like they were made in the genre’s heyday. For example, the rock group Drab Majesty emulates that 80s synth-pop style. Kaleta & the Super Yamba Band have fooled customers into thinking we’re playing Fela Kuti. In the hip-hop world, cats like Kluas Layers mirror the beats of the 93 Golden Age with boom bap drums and echoing horns.
One of the most abundant genres to experience this new birth is Soul. Sweet Soul, in particular, which is a favorite in our shop. There are so many new labels and artists who have studied that sound and boiled it down to its concentrate for their albums. Smooth all the way through. The new Durand Jones & the Indications 45 is a prime example of this laid back neo soul groove. Perfect for cruising around town, late night deejay sets, or that mix tape you’ve been planning for that special someone.
Released in 1989, John Lee Hooker’s “The Healer” was the first of a series of his later albums that reached chart success in the U.S. and U.K. It featured big names like Carlos Santana, Charlie Musselwhite, and Bonnie Raitt. The band backing Hooker for the session includes the jazz drummer Ndugu Chancler. If you’re into Jazz-Funk you’ve definitely heard this man on one of your favorite LPs. Check his featured performance credits on Discogs.
Shortly after releasing this record, Hooker started hanging out in San Francisco. In particular, he could be seen at a club here in the Fillmore at what was then called Jack’s Tavern. As the story goes, Hooker liked the house band and came whenever he could to hear them play. When one of its longtime bartenders purchased the club, he changed the name to the Boom Boom Room after Hooker’s most famous song. Some say the blues man was part owner of the club but it appears the rumor is untrue – Hooker’s manager wouldn’t let him do it out of fear that the association might besmirch his name.
This is one of those unbelievably rare jazz records. Freddie’s first album as a leader and his first on Blue Note. 1960. The players accompanying him and his trumpet are the best-of-the-best. Tina Brooks on Tenor Sax, who also wrote two of the six compositions on the album. McCoy Tyner on piano, who would soon become part of Coltrane’s outfit. Sam Jones on Bass and Clifford Jarvis on Drums. Here everyone brings their A-game and the energy of young talent on the session is palpable to the ear from the very first note.
Adding to its rarity is the fact that Blue Note did not repress the record as often as it did other titles in its catalogue: https://www.discogs.com/master/view/177623 This original has all the indicators of the first mono: 47 West 63rd. address, deep groove on both sides, RVG stamp, “ear” mark. The cover is split but since it’s laminated, the image has held up nicely. It plays a weak VG with some crackle and a few ticks but no distortion. Sounds even better after an ultrasonic cleaning. Might sound better yet on a true mono cartridge.
The fact that it has held up so nicely is a testament to the quality Blue Note put in to both their covers and pressings. This thing looks rough but sounds astonishingly rich, as if you’re in the studio with them. Some say it’s because of the “deep groove,” but this is a misconception often supported by collectors / fanatics. The sound quality of Blue Note persisted well into the 80s. Van Gelder, the recording engineer for all the early sessions, continued on to remaster the various pressing as technology changed. For more on the Deep Groove check out: https://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com/record-labels-guide/labelography-2/blue-note-deep-groove/
If you zoom in on the hype sticker, you’ll find it mentions genres like Psychedelia, Funk, Tropicalia, Jazz, and Alternative when describing this release. Everything the Mr. Bongo label typically covers in its rich catalog. What it doesn’t advertise, however, is that this is a new band and new record. Not a re-issue or something mined from a lost tape but new kids interpreting the old grooves in their own unique style. You could throw out a number of adjectives to try and pin this record down but it really defies any one sort of genre. Let’s put it this way: if you like groovy world music, you’ll like this too. If you like Khruangbin or the Bay Area’s own Sitka Sun, you’ll like this too.
Actually, the jacket nor the sleeve says much of anything about who these guys are. But if you check out the Mr. Bongo website (https://us.mrbongo.com/collections/kit-sebastian) you’ll read the duo fronting the group have an intriguing background. Kit Martin lives and plays between London and France and the Turkish born Merve Erdem studied film in Rome, now lives between the U.S. and U.K., and is also a visual artist.
Our first batch of these sold out before they even hit the bins – no joke. The second batch just arrived and is now available in shop. We have a feeling these won’t last very long either.
It’s truly an exciting time for music on vinyl. So much stuff is being released it’s hard to keep track of it all. Of particular interest in our shop are the things that are being unearthed from back in the day. Old artists whose work, for one reason or another, was never properly released. Maybe because they were too regional, maybe they were too ahead of the curve, or maybe behind it.
In the case of Chicago’s Four M company, recently issued by Family Groove Records, their 1979 6 track E.P. was recorded in a legitimate studio but never released. The group, which formed in high school, may have been a bit early for the Boogie wave. Generally considered as soul music from 1980 -1985. The cuts on this range from the dance floor shakers to slow groove burners, with nice synths and harmonies. Check the SoundCloud teaser here: https://soundcloud.com/family-groove-records/the-four-m-company Limited to 500 copies world-wide, of which we have a few. Once these are gone, they’re gone for good.
What is it that attracts collectors to the White Label Promo? The promo is even earlier than the coveted first press. An advanced, demonstration copy sent out in anticipation of the record’s release. To create some buzz or drum up a few nice reviews. Some say they sound better. Pressed with extra care so the record sounds its best when it hits the air waves or the reviewer’s hi-fi. Maybe it’s the label itself? Something different from the normal pressing. Some labels have cooler promo variations than others. Columbia’s red and white variation is particularly striking.
This copy came from a large collection we bought a few years back. We thought we had unpacked all the records from the buy but apparently there was one box we missed, which happened to be comprised entirely of Monk and Mingus – the “M” section of the collection. Turns out there were two copies of Ah Um: one first press, one promo. Both Six-Eye labels. Both unplayed. Crazy to think that these were so well preserved after close to 60 years.
Recorded in 1959, this Mingus title is one of the most popular jazz records in our shop, next to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Not a surprise given that this record was also ahead of its time, merging hard bop and big band in a unique way. And just like that other jazz classic, this has experienced different presses, even absurd ones like a 4 LP single sided, 45 rpm press. A necessary addition to any jazz collection on any format.
Germany’s Dezi-Belle Records has been putting out quality instrumental HipHop since 2015. They follow a Do-It-Yourself approach since they record, master, cut, and distribute all their releases. Yes, they cut each and every release themselves in real-time from virgin wax. That’s why each of their LPs is limited to 100 copies (50 for each 45). You got to have a whole lot of respect and passion for the art form to do it like that!
This latest batch contains five titles, mostly of a chill, lo-fi leaning sounds. Peep their BandCamp for audio snippets: https://dezi-belle.bandcamp.com/music. The Raw Suppliers is a comp that features up-and-coming beat makers. A good tool to sound the depths of the ever-changing European hiphop scene.
This is the first time we’ve had this format in our shop. A two-track 4 inch flexi disc inside a printed paper sleeve. Philco, a subsidiary of the Ford Motor Company, released these little hip pocket records between 1967 and 1969. They advertised them as the first truly portable record. Since you could easily slide it in your hip pocket.
The catalogue consists mainly of pop tunes, given that it was a sort of novelty item. There are, however, a few soul gems. These retailed for 69 cents. At the time, prices of 45s were probably a lot cheaper and you could surely get a lot more plays out of those. Still pretty cool nonetheless.
Back-stock copies of Galt MacDermot’s Ripped Open by Metal Explosions 45 just landed in the shop. Out-of-print since 2001, this has to be one of the funkiest things Galt ever composed. And the man’s catalogue is mostly funky tunes. This cut features Idris Muhammad on drums and was sampled by the Artifacts for their classic HipHop single C’mon Wit Da Get Down.
United Artist first released this track in 1970 as part of an LP comprised as what could be called “alternative” takes to the Hair Soundtrack. Egon and company printed the track on 45 in 2001 as they dug through Galt’s archives. Around the same time, they unearthed new material (Up from the Basement Vol. 1 and Vol. 2) and reprinted two of his most collectible records Shapes of Rhythm and Woman Is Sweeter. Both laced with classic rap samples.