Me an’ Philly,
Diggin’ we went.
The search for vinyl,
The Spring Record Expo,
A celebration of wax.
Drove home from Moncton,
Our bank accounts taxed.
Shakespeare was a chump.
The Funky Four – Feel It (The Mexican) (Sugar Hill Records)
Formed in 1976, Funky Four were notable as the first hip hop group to have a female MC. The group made its debut on Enjoy Records with the 16-minute “Rappin and Rocking the House”. They followed up with their most significant hit, the 9-minute “That’s the Joint” on Sugar Hill Records in 1981. “Feel It (The Mexican)” was released just as the group fell into a dispute with Sugar Hill. It’s a classic example of early 80s New York rap tropes. DJ friendly intro a cappella? Check. New York braggadocio? Check. Disco sample? Check. Electro vocoder? Check. Call-and-response? Check. It’s a pity that they split over the Sugar Hill dispute without ever releasing a full-length LP. I could have been a New York classic on the level of “Wheels of Steel”.
Maestro Fresh Wes – Drop The Needle (Attic Records)
If you’re a Canadian of a certain age, then Maestro Fresh Wes’s (later shortened to simply Maestro) debut record “Symphony In Effect” was a revelation. Canadian rap music that was as good or better than the stuff coming out of New York or LA. “Let Your Backbone Slide” is the one everybody knows, but for my money, “Drop The Needle” is the superior cut. The phrasing is so good in “Drop The Needle” that I just never get bored of it. And the lyrics…damn. “Runnin’ more ho’s/than clothes/on a pimp/Rhymes so rugged/that they’ll make you limp.” It just keeps on going. I’m so glad I finally found it.
Yello – Stella (Elektra)
You could be forgiven for thinking of Yello as a one-hit wonder. The duo (Dieter Meier and Boris Blank) are best known for the “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” closer “Oh Yeah”. The reality is that Yello has released a dozen albums over the last 35 years, all of them a mix of genres and styles. That’s a hell of a career defying convention. “Stella” is arguably the best of them. In addition to “Oh Yeah”, the album contains standout tracks “Vicious Games”, “Koladi-Ola (Low Blow)”, “Domingo”, and “Angel No”. It’s a highly recommended, often strange, trip through the fringes of mid-80s electro-pop.
Sigue Sigue Sputnik – Love Missile F1-11 (Capitol Records)
Speaking of “Ferris Bueller”, here’s another cut from that movie that jumped out of the crates. Sigue Sigue Sputnik (quasi-Russian that is supposed to mean “Burn, Burn Satellite”) were a British New Wave band that formed out of the ashes of Punk outfit Generation X. After supporting the likes of ex-NY Dolls guitarist Johnnie Thunders and New Model Army, the band hooked up with Giorgio Moroder and recorded their debut album “Flaunt It”. The first single “Love Missile F1-11” featured a number of uncleared samples, particularly from the movie Blade Runner. The single was sanitized and re-recorded for the US market and ended up being included in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” in the opening monologue. Happily, I found the original UK version. Actually, Philly found it, handed it to me and said, “You NEED this record.”
New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle (Qwest Records)
New Order – The Perfect Kiss (Factory Records)
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (Factory Records)
I love Joy Division/New Order, but for years their records were priced out of my reach. Now, thankfully, the prices seem to have come down to a reasonable level. Of these three records, “The Perfect Kiss” is the one I was most excited about. Don’t get me wrong, I love “Bizarre Love Triangle” and I’m happy to have it, but “The Perfect Kiss” is a track I’m not as familiar with. It’s become a new favourite, though. The climax is bananas. Also, the 12” mix presented above is the full length version, whereas the version presented on “Substance” is an edit. More is better, especially when it comes to New Order.
Pet Shop Boys – Introspective Limited Edition 3×12” (Parlophone)
If there’s one group I love above all others, it’s Pet Shop Boys. And their late 80s output is my favourite era. Actually, Behaviour, and Introspective are the albums I keep coming back to. Introspective in particular, with its focus on 12” mixes. Yes, it’s only six tracks, but there’s an awful lot of beautiful music and skillful arrangement in those six tracks. Anyway, this is the limited edition triple 12” set: one track per side. This is exciting for anybody who cares about sound. When an engineer cuts a record with multiple tracks on a side, the grooves have to be very close together, thus reducing the dynamic range. With a single track per side, the tracks are spread out and consequently are permitted to breathe. Listening to this earlier this week, I could pick out subtle things in the production that I missed listening to my CD and/or LP. I have to admit that this is the most expensive item I bought, but sooooo worth it.
Steve “Silk” Hurley – Jack Your Body (DJ International Records)
Steve “Silk” Hurley is generally accepted as one of the originators of Chicago House. “Jack Your Body” is one of the four or five records that first crossed the pond and sparked the house/rave revolution in the UK. House music is now a global phenomenon, thanks in larger part to this record. I bought it for a dollar. One. Dollar. It’s finds like this that keep me digging.
Farley “Jackmaster” Funk & The Shy Boyz – U Ain’t Really House (House Records)
Everything about the title sounds like gold: Farley “Jackmaster” Funk, House Records, Chicago address. But, no; it’s awful. The vocal free “Really House” mix is alright, but in the full version presented above, the vocal is out of tune with the track! It sounds like cats in heat! This waste of vinyl goes further to support my theory that Farley was incapable of greatness. His only real hit, “Love Can’t Turn Around”, is only really great because Darryl Pandy sang it and Vince Lawrence produced it.
Anyway, it was a good day. The next one is in the fall, so keep your eyes peeled for that.