Saturday, October 13, 2018

Charles Aznavour [1924-2018]

Artist: Charles Aznavour
LP: Charles Aznavour Canta en Español, Volumen 2
Song: "Isabelle"
[ listen ]
Song: "Si Tu Me Llevas"
[ listen ]

I was bummed a few days ago to read that Charles Aznavour had died earlier this month, at the age of 94. Born in France of Armenian immigrant parents, Charles' birth name was Shahnour Vaghinag Aznavourian, which admittedly doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. With a career in music and film spanning over 70 years, Aznavour was one of the most popular performers in the history of France. People sometimes called him the French Frank Sinatra! Charles wrote more than 1,000 songs during his career, and he claims to be one of the first to write about controversial subjects like homosexuality, referring to his lovely/sad 1972 song "What Makes a Man?" Also, he often performed with Liza Minnelli, which is pretty gay too.

I was a little surprised to discover that I don't actually own any French-language records by this international legend—only one where he sings in English and two on which he's singing in Español. Here are a couple of songs from one of the latter. (I chose this one because he's smoking on the cover, so he at least looks really French even if he's not actually singing that way.) Click here to find everything you've ever wanted to know about the life and career of Snr Aznavour, and read his New York Times obituary here. And then go here for a photo of Charles when he was very young.

Charles Aznavour
[ May 22, 1924 — October 1, 2018 ]
We will miss you, Charles.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Wade Holmes

Artist: Wade Holmes
LP: Hits Made Famous by Hawkshaw Hawkins
Song: "Lonesome 7-7203"
[ listen ]
Song: "Shotgun Boogie"
[ listen ]

Wade Holmes never hit the big-time, so there's really not much info about him on the Web (Discogs tells us when he lived, and says he was a fireman). Still, he does a fine job paying tribute to Hawkshaw Hawkins, a lanky hillbilly singer from West Virginia who had a string of country hits in the late 1940s and early '50s, and who died in the same plane crash that took Cowboy Copas and Patsy Cline in 1963. Hawkshaw earned the nickname "eleven yards of personality" because he was so tall (6'5" says Wikipedia; the LP liner notes hacked five inches off!) and he reportedly traded four trapped rabbits for his very first guitar. Who knows how many rabbits he traded for Jean Shepherd, who was his wife when he died at the age of 41.

PS. I donated my photo of Wade from the back of this LP to the Hillbilly-Music.com website, since they had a Wade Holmes page, but with no photo and no info on the guy. They thanked me for the photo, and said it also gave them a chance to list some biographical details they'd uncovered about Wade, which you can find here.

[ Wade Holmes: February 28, 1925 — February 27, 1999 ]

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Patti Page

Artist: Patti Page
LP: Romance On the Range
Song: "Who's Gonna Shoe My Pretty Little Feet"
[ listen ]
Song: "Detour"
[ listen ]
Song: "The Prisoner's Song"
[ listen ]

Here are some country-western themed songs from the lovely and velvety-voiced Ms. Patti Page, perfect for winding down a lazy early autumn Sunday evening in Seattle. "Romance On the Range" was released in 1955 by Mercury Records and included tracks from an earlier folk album, as well as tracks that Patti had released as singles over the previous few years.

[ Patti Page: November 8, 1927 — January 1, 2013 ]

Friday, September 28, 2018

Zodiac

Artist: Zodiac
LP: Music In the Universe
Song: "Laser Illumination"
[ listen ]

Last night I rendezvoused with my Seattle Spinsters Vinyl and Music Appreciation meetup group at Obec Brewing, which just happens to be about 35 steps from my front door. Obec evidently has vinyl night every Thursday, where people can choose to play a side of one of the LPs the brewery has on hand in their collection, or they can bring in their own LPs and sign up to play a side from one of those instead. What I wasn't told is that their turntable doesn't spin at 45 rpm, so I ended up handing out all the 7" singles I brought so people could use them as beer coasters instead. 

Fortunately, I'd also brought Jimmy Smith's "The Cat" LP, which went over well, and also this 10" record by Juliette Greco. The theme for the night had been advertised as "back to school," so I'd also brought my copy of "Doris Day's Greatest Hits," so I could play "Teacher's Pet." But when I learned I'd have to commit to playing an entire side of a Doris Day LP at a brewery full of hipsters, I chickened out and quietly slid her hits beneath my chair. I love you, Doris, but I won't cast my pearls before swine. I pictured next-day headlines of fatalities: SEVEN TRAMPLED TO DEATH AT OBEC! Over half a dozen trendy people in their mid-to-late 20s died last night at a Seattle brewery when a stampede to the exits broke out as Doris Day's "A Guy Is a Guy" blared from the speakers at the popular Ballard watering hole. 

Anyway, it was a fun night, and we plan to do it again. Next time I may bring this 1983 Soviet-Latvian synth rock record by Zodiac that I found at Redhill Records in Helsinki last year. The recording of the LP was inspired by the bandmembers' visit to Star Town, where they met cosmonauts and learned about outer space. I bet it would keep the hipsters in their seats. And I may bring some Bow Wow Wow while I'm at it.

[ Zodiac ]

Monday, September 24, 2018

Alex Carrie Barcelona

Here's a mix made from vinyl I found at record stores in Barcelona and other nearby towns last month while on vacation in Spain with my good friends Carrie and Charlie and their twin boys, Oliver and Gabriel. 

side one:
01. Tengo Tu Amor - Fórmula V

      [7" - Novecento Música i Llibres in Barcelona, Spain]
02. Wear Your Love Like Heaven - Eartha Kitt 
      [LP - Daily Records in Barcelona, Spain] 

03. Disco Music - J.A.L.N. Band
     [7" - Wah Wah Records in Barcelona, Spain]
04. Appassionatamente - Rocky Roberts
     [7" - Kebra Disc in Barcelona, Spain]
05. Ana - The Pixies
      [LP - Moby Disk in Girona, Spain]
06. Soñar - Lone Star
      [7" - Revolver Records in Barcelona, Spain]
07. Everybody Clap - Lulu
      [7" - Revolver Records in Barcelona, Spain]
08. Dios a Todos Hizo Libres (Road to Freedom) - Pop-Tops
      [7" - Discos Impacto in Barcelona, Spain]
09. Tres Notas - Betty Missiego
      [7" - 10,000 Records in Barcelona, Spain]
10. Highly Strung - Spandau Ballet
      [7" - Discos Edison's in Barcelona, Spain]  

11. Anduriña - Juan & Junior
      [7" - Novecento Música i Llibres in Barcelona, Spain]
12. Grasshopper - Spin
     [LP - Daily Records in Barcelona, Spain]
13. Automatic Lover - Dee D. Jackson
      [7" - Novecento Música i Llibres in Barcelona, Spain]
14. My Love Is Growing - The Walker Brothers
      [7" - Discos Revolver in Barcelona, Spain]

15. Every Lonely Day - Edison Lighthouse
      [7" - Revolver Records in Barcelona, Spain]

[ listen ]

side two:
01. If You Hold My Hand - Donna Hightower

      [7" - Novecento Música i Llibres in Barcelona, Spain]
02. Bye Love - 5,000 Volts
      [7" - Discos Paradiso in Barcelona, Spain]
03. Cuando Me Enamoro - Los Comodines
      [LP - Discos Revolver in Barcelona, Spain]
04. Bring a Little Lovin' - Los Bravos
     [7" - Discos Impacto in Barcelona, Spain]
05. Who Sees You - My Bloody Valentine
     [LP - Discos Quim in Figueres, Spain]
06. A Malypense - Leny Escudero
      [7" - 10,000 Records in Barcelona, Spain]
07. Two Step - Throwing Muses
      [LP - Vinil Vintage in Barcelona, Spain]
08. Love Attack - Ferrara
      [7" - Wah Wah Records in Barcelona, Spain]
09. Too Big - Suzi Quatro
      [7" - Daily Records in Barcelona, Spain]
10. Superstar - Tony Ronald
      [7" - Revolver Records in Barcelona, Spain]
11. Te Amo (Je T'aime) - Françoise Hardy
      [7" - Discos Impacto in Barcelona, Spain]
12. Callate Niña - Pic-Nic
     [7" - Novecento Música i Llibres in Barcelona, Spain]
13. Oh, Oh, July - Los Diablos

      [7" - Novecento Música i Llibres in Barcelona, Spain]
14. Vente Conmigo - Los Angeles
      [7" - 10,000 Records in Barcelona, Spain]

[ listen ]

Friday, September 21, 2018

Los Pasos

Artist: Los Pasos
LP: 7" single
Song: "Te Quiero Porque Te Quiero"
[ listen ]

It was my last full day in Barcelona and I was feeling melancholy. I'd rented a bike at Ajo Bike the day before so I could be swept away on a bike ride with some new Spanish friends. 

[ My Barcelona Bike ]

We rode for miles up the coast to lay on a much-less-crowded beach than the ones that are located in the heart of downtown Barcelona. 

[ My Barcelona Beach ]

We didn't get back from the beach until after 7:30pm, and since the bike shop closed at 7, I had to cram my bike into my bedroom and then still had it to use the next day. One of my favorite Spanish adventures was riding my bike alone through the early-morning cobblestone streets of downtown Barcelona. I rode to a little shop and bought some candy to take back to my colleagues at work, and also visited the post office so I could send off some postcards I'd written over the course of my vacation. The post office in Barcelona is way fancier than the one in my neighborhood back home.

[ Barcelona Post Office — Outside & Inside ]

Later that evening, it was finally time to visit the last and final record store of my trip to Spain, though it was actually a store I'd already tried going to a few days before. According to the sign on the door during my first visit, the vacation was over at 10,000 Records and they would be open from 5-8pm that evening. Of course they didn't open at 5pm, so I walked around the block. They were open when I got back at 5:15, and in I went. 

I poked around in the LP bins for a bit and found a fairly outrageous 12" single worth keeping, but then I found a group of bins full of singles tucked into the corner and, since my time was limited, I turned my focus there. A friendly fellow was running the place that evening, and he had set up a little listening station on the counter by where he was standing. I picked up a bundle of singles (nearly 10,000 I'm sure), wondering all the while how on earth I was going to get all the records I'd purchased onto the plane without paying a number of substantial bribes. (I managed somehow, of course—thank god for the heavy-duty frozen-food shopping bag I picked up in Schenectady back in 2016.) 

One of the 10,000 Records I found is this 1969 release by Los Pasos, a Spanish band that was only around from 1966 to 1972. You can read about Los Pasos on Wikipedia in Spanish and English, where their style is characterized as a delicate balance of vocal games and instrumental predominance. 

[ Los Pasos]

[ 10,000 Records — Barcelona, Spain ]

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Birth Control

Artist: Birth Control
LP: 7" single
Song: "Gamma Ray - Part 1"
[ listen ]

Okay, so now flash forward five days into the future—past my train trip to Figueres, to Girona, and past the death of Aretha Franklin. I had returned to Barcelona on Friday morning and found 10,000 Records locked inside an inaccessible storefront. But there was one other shop called Daily Records that I'd tried to visit the previous Monday in the same neighborhood as Discos Revolver and Revolver Records, but on Mondays they're only open 4-8pm...and that's when I was at Discos Impacto and Discos Paradiso! On Saturdays, however, Daily Records is open 11am-3pm and 4-8pm, so I got there early in the day on Saturday, August 18th. 

Daily Records is a cute little shop with a small red portable plastic listening station that the clerk set up for me on the counter right next to the register. They seemed to specialize in rock, punk, new wave and stuff like that, but they still had a really good variety and I found some cool and amazing stuff...including this 1975 single by a German prog rock band called Birth Control. 

I'd never heard of them before, but they're apparently still going strong today. Well, sort of. Birth Control formed in Berlin in 1966, but by 1971 none of the original members remained. They've evidently gone through numerous lineup changes since then; Wikipedia includes a list of 27 people who have at some point been members of the group. 

 [ Birth Control ]

[ Daily Records — Barcelona, Spain ]

Monday, September 17, 2018

Vanessa

Artist: Vanessa
LP: 7" single
Song: "Dynamite"
[ listen ]

I finally made it to Discos Paridiso, which I'd been told was a record store I shouldn't miss. It's a serious place, catering to DJs and hipsters, with not one, not two (not three), but FOUR listening stations available for people to test drive their prospective new records on...and they were almost always all in use the entire time I was there. I made my way to the back room again (used vinyl tends to collect in back rooms in Spain) and found a bunch of 45s all dumped helter-skelter into several large boxes back there. (I also found two rather sensational LPs at Discos Paradiso. You'll likely be seeing those here soon.)

With only a little over an hour to browse, I didn't quite make it through all of their 45s, but I managed to find some treasures, while organizing a little over half of their singles stock into neat rows and piles while I was at it. This explosive 1982 ditty by Dutch model-turned-pop-star Connie "Vanessa" Witteman is one of the things I found. I only wish the cover of my copy was in color. You can read more about Vanessa in Dutch here (favorite line: "Behalve als zangeres trok zij in deze jaren ook de aandacht door het formaat van haar boezem" or, in English, "As a singer she also attracted attention in these years due to the size of her bosom") and the whole thing is in English here. Vanessa's abridged bio is available at her Discogs page here, where you can also buy more of her singles. 

[ Discos Paradiso — Barcelona, Spain ]