February 6th, 2014
Browsing Carnaby Street! God, before there was Tiles, that was what Sunshine used to do everyday at lunch. Sunshine, whose real name is Tony Newman, of Stamford Hill, Tottenham, and who used to be called Blossom (well, Sunshine tops Blossom anyway) Sunshine would cut out of the stationer’s store with the straight lunch mask on and then head straight for Carnaby Street and then just walk up and down Carnaby Street’s weird two blocks for an hour, past the Lord John, West One, the Tom Cat, men’s boutiques with strange enormous blow-up photographs in the windows, of young men flying through the air with some kind of Batman jockstraps on and rock music pouring out the doors, and kids just like him, Sunshine, promenading up and down, and tourists, christ, hundreds of tourists coming in there to photograph each other in front of Male West One instead of Big Ben, and busloads of schoolgirls with their green blazers on and embroidered crests on the breast pocket, all come to see the incredible Carnaby Street, which turns out to be a very small street with shops and awnings and people standing around with cameras in their hands, and Sunshines, all the Sunshines of this world trundling up and down for their whole lunch hour, not eating a goddamned thing, just immersing themselves in The Life.
Tom Wolfe, The Noonday Underground (1965)
Download: The ‘In’ Crowd – The Ramsey Lewis Trio (mp3)
January 29th, 2014
What sort of music do you think Tintin likes?
Download: Un Jeune Homme Bien – Petula Clark (mp3)
January 14th, 2014
In case you don’t know (the type is tiny) this is the gorgeous cover of Astrud Gilberto’s 1969 album I Haven’t Got Anything Better To Do, and if the job of a sleeve is to convey what an album sounds like then this does the job beautifully — it’s so evocative you can hear the record in your mind just by looking at the photo: low-key, intimate, and sad. You almost don’t even need to listen to the record, but that would be silly because it’s wonderful, what Astrud called “my fireplace album.”
Download: I Haven’t Got Anything Better to Do – Astrud Gilberto (mp3)
The staring-at-the-camera pose is often used for emotionally-vulnerable albums like this, Phil Collins did it too but he isn’t as pretty as Astrud Gilberto and having a face like hers really helps with a sleeve like this. I imagine the designer didn’t want any type on it at all but the label insisted so he did it as small as he could get away with. A lot of the skill in being a designer is knowing what not to do, or doing nothing but hire the right photographer.
The “right” photographer in this case was Joel Brodsky who shot several very famous record sleeves including Astral Weeks, Kick Out The Jams, and The Doors, (plus that iconic portrait of Jim Morrison) so he has a hell of a portfolio, but his lesser-known work also includes another of my favourite sleeves:
This is another very evocative photo that tells a story but I’ve always had trouble figuring out exactly what it is. Her nakedness and cigarette suggest this is post-sex, but she also looks very pensive and lonely curled up on her own like that. Whatever’s going on, it’s a beautiful photo and her coffee-coloured skin and au naturel state are perfect for Callier’s laid-back, Jazzy-Folky Soul.
Download: Just As Long As We’re In Love – Terry Callier (mp3)
January 6th, 2014
Well this is a rotten start to the year.
I’ve been a huge fan of Phil and Don ever since I bought a copy of the 1970s compilation Walk Right Back With The Everlys (with the great Mick Brownfield sleeve) back in my teens. Still got it too. I thought the mountain-air purity of their voices was one the most beautiful sounds in pop music.
Unlike a lot of other 1950s acts The Everly Brothers never sounded dated to me, and transcended the era of bobbysoxers and quiffs because of the classic, clean-cut lines of their harmonies and guitars. They weren’t as big in the post-Beatles world (though they remained very popular in England) but you could hear their influence all over 60s music and beyond.
This is a gem from 1966 which shows they were still making great records then too.
Download: Leave My Girl Alone – The Everly Brothers (mp3)
Do yourself a favour and get this box set.
January 3rd, 2014
This should shake the post-holiday cobwebs. I don’t really have any axe heroes but that Peter Green chap was pretty damn tasty with the gee-tar.
December 6th, 2013
Though this has the original studio recording dubbed over it it’s still a joy to watch. The audience don’t seem too excited though.
December 4th, 2013
The furthest abroad my mother ever got was to the Channel Islands on a family holiday in the 1960s, and later in life it was impossible to get her to step outside of West London, let alone England. But she had so many groovy sun n’ samba records like this I like to think that when she listened to them she dreamed of exotic locations, sandy beaches, the warm sun, and tanned hunks handing her chilled cocktails. But then it was back to the two kids and the council flat.
I’m not so contrarian that I’m going to claim this is better than The Beatles’ original, but this is the first version I knew so it always sounds to me like it’s the Fab Four who are doing the cover.
Download: The Fool On The Hill – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (mp3)
October 1st, 2013
Not being a scooter boy I have no opinion in the Lambretta vs. Vespa debate, but if it’s good enough for Jean Shrimpton…
Sorry this record isn’t quite up to the class and sophistication of the above photo.
Download: Funky Moped – Jasper Carrott (mp3)