Read on for G’s latest fascinating finds from the World Wide Web!
CULT CLASSIC: ‘MAGIC LADY’ MANDY MORTON & SPRIGUNS
Every now and again you stumble on an album that’s so good that, once discovered, you have to ask yourself “where has this been all my life and why didn’t I know about it?” In this instance, I’m referring to ‘Magic Lady’ by Mandy Morton & Spriguns. As a teenager growing up in the 70s, I was drawn to the folk rock of Fairport Convention, Pentangle, John Martyn etc and then, later on, to all sorts of underground gems by the likes of The Trees, Mellow Candle, Vashti Bunyan, and of course the fabulously named Spriguns Of Tolgus. However, for some reason this album that came out in 1978 eluded my attention. Maybe because New Wave and punk bands were so all-consuming that my attention to what was happening in the folk world had wavered somewhat. Another reason may have been that, as it was a private pressing on the Banshee label and only 1000 copies were pressed, there would have been little chance of this making it into the racks of my local record shop—or even the main chains of the time. Little or no music press coverage meant that this definitely slipped under my musical radar.
My interest was eventually piqued by an online listing for an impossible amount of money—we’re talking Declan Rice transferring to Arsenal proportions here (well, not quite!). Also, I discovered that the title track was dedicated to Sandy Denny, who had very sadly passed away a year before. For a private pressing it’s an amazingly commercial sounding record, lyrically compelling and with a bountiful supply of memorable melodies. ‘Music Prince’ could have been a chart hit given its hooks and the esoteric nature of the top 30 in 1978. The title track as already mentioned is a touching tribute to Mandy’s heroine Sandy Denny and sets the tone for the whole album. There’s a classic stunning ballad called ‘Ghost Of A Song’ that echo’s Denny’s timeless ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ and the spine tingling ‘Witchfinder’ would surely have unnerved Vincent Price’s loathsome Matthew Hopkins (The Witchfinder General) enough to send him running back to whatever Puritan hellhole he came from!
If you don’t have the best part of a grand to stump up for an original copy, you’ll be happy to hear that the Guerson label will be reissuing it on vinyl in July and it’s also currently available on the ‘After The Storm’ Mandy Morton CD box set (via the Grapefruit label) from this very boutique. The vinyl reissue will be available to pre-order from us as well!
Clink the link here for more about Mandy’s early life—she’s a Beatles fan as well and she worked in a psychedelic boutique in Cambridge (could it be any more perfect?)—the genesis of the album, her inspirations and the idea behind the striking artwork.
A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OUR CUSTOMERS WHO MADE IT DOWN TO THE SHOP YESTERDAY AND FOR ALL THE GOOD LUCK MESSAGES. ANOTHER WINNER, IN FACT ONE OF THE MOST ENJOYABLE WE’VE EVER DONE. MASSIVE THANKS TO THE FAB CHIARA FOR BRINGING US SOME GREAT ENTERTAINMENT. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE QUIZ WINNER; IN CASE ANYONE WAS WONDERING THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION WAS; ‘GIVE THE ANARCHIST A CIGARETTE’. WE MANAGED TO RAISE £200 FOR OUR TWO GOOD CAUSES. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO BOUGHT A TICKET. LETS HOPE NEXT YEAR WILL BE BIGGER AND BETTER
Recorded in 2015 then reissued on vinyl in 2019, Susan James’s ‘Sea Glass’ is a Californian peach of a record which hasn’t reached the audience it deserves. James teamed up with High Llama Sean O’Hagan to help with the musical vision and arrangements and together they produced an absolute gem of a record. Susan herself calls the style a “California hybrid of melodic psychedelic folk rock” and that’s spot on! From the opening track ‘Poseidon’s Daughter’ to ‘Hey Julianne’ we’re treated to some beautiful lilting melodies set against a subtle orchestrated backdrop that I’m sure Brian Wilson would be very happy with. Echoes of The Free Design, The Poppy Family, Laura Nyro and the Beach Boys abound throughout and the harmonies and instrumentation are reminiscent of late 60’s Californian sunshine pop. There’s a limited aquamarine coloured vinyl out there at the moment and I strongly urge you to track down a copy, you won’t be disappointed!
…So ran the rather lurid tag line from London’s billboards in 1972! The film was initially inspired by the story of the Highgate vampire—a media sensation of the time involving disturbed tombs and grave robbing in Highgate cemetery. Hammer films decided for Christopher Lee’s sixth and penultimate outing as the count that the franchise needed updating to the present. And so, with the help of some young fresh blood in the shapely form of upcoming starlets Stephanie Beacham, Caroline Munroe, and (straight out of ‘Hair’) Marsh Hunt, also ably assisted by Michael Kitchen and Christopher Neame, we have Dracula AD 1972!
The main thrust of the story is this: Neames character Johnny Alucard (Dracula spelled backwards) is a descendant of one of Dracula’s side-kicks from the 19th century. His mission is to bring Dracula back to life and in doing so gaining power and eternal life for himself. It just so happens that the group he latches onto includes Stephanie Beacham’s character Jessica—the latest in the line of Van Helsings. Alucard convinces ‘the group’ that he has a ‘new way’; ‘the ultimate kick’ to shake off this ‘tired scene, man’! …A black mass, no less, in an old abandoned church! This is where it all starts to go horribly wrong for the kids… Various members come a cropper or are ‘turned’ before Jessica’s grandfather, an expert in the occult, gets involved (played by—yes, you guessed it—Peter Cushing). Cushing knows a thing or two about tackling vampires and he soon gets on the trail of Alucard before finishing off the count in time honoured fashion.
Whilst Hammer purists at the time (and some even now) are decidedly lukewarm about the film, citing its cringe worthy use of hippie speak and blatant attempt to appeal to younger hip audience, for the student of Sixties/Seventies pop culture there’s much to enjoy here! The first scene set in the 20th century features a party with the American band Stoneground (they replaced the Faces who were first choice) playing some funky rock to the assembled ‘kids’ and some rather shocked oldies! There’s some full-on seventies gear on show: hot pants, frilly shirts, crushed velvet, floppy hats… the lot! There’s even the groovy surroundings of the Cavern coffee bar in the Kings Road where the group hang out. This was situated at 372 Kings Road and was still a café up to recent times. Alucad’s flat (72 Hollgate Place in Notting Hill), where he takes Marsha Hunts character Gaynor for some late-night action, is all 70s decadence. And then there’s the music… Mike Vickers of Manfred Mann wrote the score, a funky brass laden gem, plus you have the aforementioned Stoneground, and for the Black Mass scene the far out ‘electric storm in hell’ by Delia Derbyshire’s White Noise can be heard (on reel to reel tape, of course). Best of all though is the dialogue! Christopher Lee was appalled when he read the script and you can see why. However, watching it now there’s a certain period charm to be enjoyed, as long as you like your horror with a large helping of cheese!
Here’s a few choice examples:
Alucard to Gaynor as he puts a record on: “They were really zonked when they made this”
Gaynor: “yeah, aren’t they always”
Alucard at the black mass: “Dig the music, kids”
Van Helsing to the police inspector: “There is a satan”
Inspector: “Of course, otherwise we wouldn’t need a police force, would we?”.
Gaynor: Is this the place Johnny?”
Alucard: “Yeah, why don’t you drop in for a bite?”
The film has now reached cult status with some fairly prominent fans amongst them, notably horror writer Kim Newman and U.S. director Tim Burton. It’s what most people would describe as ‘so bad, it’s good’ and I can see that. But I adore it! It’s probably up there in my list of top ten films, not just horror films, but all-time greats. A few years ago, I managed to get my DVD copy signed by Caroline Munroe, which was a thrill and, hey, it was released on the 28th of September which is my birthday—That must mean something!
Here’s the trailer:
This month sees the publication of an excellent new book entitled 100 Unhip Albums That We Should Learn to Love. Seeking to reappraise formerly ignored or derided albums, it makes the case for the unfashionable with examples from Van der Graaf Generator to David Essex, 10CC, Wings, and beyond. A refreshingly new idea, we thought, so by way of tribute, here are some of our choices ripe for critical makeover!
1. Cat Stevens – Foreigner
Upon it’s release in 1973, Foreigner was greeted by the critics with a mixture of polite indifference and outright hostility. The NME’s Roy Carr called it “one of the worst pieces of maudlin tripe pop music has had to suffer”. Harsh words indeed as, listening to it now, it has blossomed and has a great deal to offer. Four albums of mainly acoustic catchy folk-pop had set the template for success both artistically and commercially. But when Stevens announced that the next album would be recorded without regular producer Paul Samuel Smith, with sessions musicians, and in Jamaica, alarm bells began to ring! Upon its release, sales peaked and began to fall away as the new intense and serious style was not what the people were used to. Cat wasn’t quite as cuddly anymore! However, the music is played superbly by crack session players including Bernard Purdie & Phil Upchurch, and it has a free, loose, funky vibe, much in keeping with its Jamaican backdrop. Standout tracks ‘Sweet Blue Love’ and the finale, ‘Heaven Must Have Programmed You’, would have graced any of his previous works. Image result for cat stevens foreigner With the next album Buddha and the Chocolate Box, Stevens went back to the tried-and-tested set-up and with it gained the expected commercial success, but Foreigner is at least a pleasant interlude, and at best a brave artistic statement. Just for a moment, he was a honky cat that was a funky cat!
2. Linda Lewis – Woman Overboard
When the Raft label folded in the early 70s, it left Linda Lewis high and dry and without a contract. Three albums of charming folk-soul-pop had given her a loyal following and critical acclaim but ‘Rock-a-doodle Doo’ apart, they achieved modest commercial success. So, when Arista got Lewis to sign on the dotted line, they were determined to market her as a pop-disco diva with her high vocal range as her gimmick. This meant Lewis’s own songs were pushed into the background, onto B sides, in favour of cover-versions of soul classics and newly written pop fayre. Woman Overboard was released in 1977 and was very much a compromise between Lewis and the label: plenty of silky-smooth soul, pleasant though not particularly inspiring. What it does have are three outstanding songs, all completely distinct, which makes it a must-have for fans! First up is ‘Bonfire’, written for her by ex-squeeze Cat Stevens, which sadly only just dented the top 30. Next, there’s a beautiful version of ‘The Moon and I’ from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. This girl could handle opera with the best of them, and even though it’s a slightly less formal rendition, it’s not going to cause Arthur Sullivan any swivels in his coffin! The standout for me is her version of Family’s ‘My Friend, the Sun’. It’s a sweet autumnal acoustic, a shimmering masterpiece that still gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. So if you see this album, with its sexy 70s disco diva cover, languishing in a bargain bin, do yourself a favour – liberate it and give it a home immediately!
3. Eric Clapton – There’s One in Every Crowd
The follow-up to Eric’s bestselling comeback LP, 461 Ocean Boulevard, came as something of a disappointment to ‘Slowhand’ followers, who thought the new laidback Clapton was but a parting phase. This is about as laidback as it gets without actually falling over! After the opening two gospel-flavoured tracks, one of which, ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’, was rendered in a relaxed cod-reggae style, listeners could be forgiven for not pressing ahead with much enthusiasm. But Side 2 reveals three of Clapton’s most endearing compositions from this period: ‘Better Make it Through Today’ is a touching, heartfelt prayer to self-preservation, presumably inspired by the recent therapy and cure of his heroin addiction. Next up, ‘Pretty Blue Eyes’ and ‘High’ are vintage badge-esque melodic, bluesy pop songs that Clapton excelled at writing during the late 60s and early 70s. It’s not a masterpiece by any stretch but does contain some absolute gems and is definitely worth reinvestigation. Plus, it’s got a very cute dog on the cover…
4. Rod Stewart – Smiler
I don’t know what it is about 1974 but this seemed to be the year that established artists delivered albums that the critics dismissed as not up-to-scratch. Prime example was Rod’s Smiler. It has all the ingredients of previous smash hit sellers: ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ and ‘Never a Dull Moment’ with the (or most of the) Faces backing him up, a ‘Maggie May’/You Where it Well’-style single & co-write with Martin Quittenton in ‘Farewell’, and some cracking cover versions in Sam Cooke’s ‘You Send Me’, Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Rock ‘N’ Roller’, the obligatory Dylan cover (which is better than the original) ‘Girl From the North Country’ and a couple of top-grade, top-mates contributions in Elton’s ‘Let Me Be Your Car’ and ‘Mine For Me’ from Sir Lord of Macca! What it also has, however, is a slightly dodgy sleeve design with Rod resplendent in his 19th-century silks and satins facing out from an antique mirror laid on top o f a tartan cloak. A bit too Scottish for most of us (especially as he was from North London…). That apart, there’s much vintage Rod to enjoy here, so ignore the sleeve art and dig in!
Sad to say that for obvious reasons we now feel compelled to shut the shop as of this evening for an indefinite period (hopefully not for too long!). We will be loading as much stock as we possibly can onto our Discogs page, including new releases and plenty of new additions to our vintage vinyl as well- so please keep checking out our facebook page for our top picks! If you see anything you like then you can buy directly from our Discogs [https://www.discogs.com/user/CasbahRecords], or get in touch with us and pay by paypal or card and we will post it out to you. When the sun does rise again, we’ll see you all again in person. In the meantime, please keep buying our records, because we are nice people!
Hey there pop pickers! We’ll be stocking a cool selection of limited releases for the Black Friday mini Record Store Day event. Here’s a run down of some of the artists we’ll have:
SLIPKNOT, LOU REED, ALICE COOPER, THE DOORS, THE JB’S, THE HOLD STEADY, HERBIE HANCOCK, MILES DAVIS (two different titles), NAS, EDAN (U.S 60’s psych/soul), KINGS OF LEON, PEARL JAM, ELVIS, JEFF BUCKLEY, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, HENDRIX, JOE SATRIANI, ARCADE FIRE, U2, THE COMET IS COMING, JAMES BROWN, PAUL McCARTNEY, ROYAL TRUX, ALBERT HAMMOND JR, BUFFY SAINT MARIE, NICK LOWE, T. RUNDGREN, FREDDY KING, BILL EVANS, STEPPENWOLF, WILLIE COLON, IAN & SYLVIA.
COMPILATION TITLES/VARIOUS ARTIST TITLES include: ‘More Oar’ , ‘Jingle Workshop’, ‘ File#733: U.F.O’ Motown Rarities compilation’, Daptone label’s ‘Rhythm Showcase’.
We’ll open at 10.30am as usual. Same rules as RSD proper apply (first come first served, one title per person, etc.). We’ll also have a poster in the window with the above and how many copies we’ve got of each. If you want more detailed info on the titles released you can go to the RSD website here (https://recordstoreday.co.uk/news/posts/2019/record-store-day-black-friday-to-take-place-29th-november/). Also, unfortunately the Zappa and the Madonna titles have been cancelled as they were not going to be ready in time.
See you down at the front, eager pop pickers!!
In honour of the ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ soundtrack to the Tarantino film, which was released last week, and in celebration of our new window display inspired by the film, here we have collected our pick of the Ten films that inspired ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’… Enjoy!
1. Cactus Flower
Frothy Rom-Com featuring Walter Matthau’s straight, middle-aged man romancing and seeing life anew from Goldie Hawn’s fresh, flower child perspective. She also happens to work in a groovy local record store (which is, from our point of view, worth watching for this fact alone)!
2. Easy Rider
All-time great hippie outsider film that spawned a thousand biker films in its wake… and probably the most popular wall-art of the decade! With an absolute killer soundtrack, it explores some of the darker aspects of American Sixties society. Featuring two standout performances by Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.
3. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Classic film from 1969, set in amongst California’s professional class turmed swinger circle, featuring Elliott Gould, Robert Culp, Dyan Cannon and Natalie Wood.
4. Wrecking Crew
Third and probably the weakest of the Matt Helm trilogy, starring Dean Martin’s over-the-top macho spy and adventurer. Quite a lazy film, luckily saved by Sharon Tate’s sparky character, which features her fight scene as curated by then marshal arts coach Bruce Lee.
5. Model Shop
One groovy soundtrack, featuring the band Spirit! Portraying the seedier side of Sixties Los Angeles. Directed by French legend Jacques Demy, who also directed the ground-breaking films ‘Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ and ‘Lola’.
One of the few British films that have made it onto Tarantino’s list of name-checked movies, and for good reason. A tough and gritty British thriller with an international conspiracy theme, featuring a host of British stalwarts including Judy Geeson, Diana Dors and Peter Vaughan. A hard one to track down and rarely screened, but worth the effort as it is a real gem!
7. Enter The Dragon
Bruce Lee was catapulted from Hollywood TV star/fight coach to stardom with this marshal arts classic! Need we say more…
8. The Valley Of The Dolls
Probably Sharon Tate’s best acting performance! The film depicts three women who are all trying to make it in show business. When they finally do, they discover that it is not all that it is cracked up to be, with Tate’s character resorting to making porn in order to make ends meet. An exposé on the pitfalls of the Hollywood dream.
9. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
All time classic Spaghetti Western by Sergio Leone, with Clint Eastwood’s poncho-wearing hero shifting cigars from one side of his mouth to the other in every other close-up, all whilst dealing with a host of Mexican bandits and wrong-uns out to get him. Featuring the classic Morricone score (the essence of which seems to crop up in most of Tarrantino’s films) and epic, nerve-crunching shoot-outs.
10. Beyond The Valley of The Dolls
Similar in theme but a million miles away in style and content from the Valley of the Dolls! This is a story of a girl band travelling out to California to make it big on the Pop scene, journeying through the highs and lows of sixties counterculture. Featuring some amazing clips with The Strawberry Alarm Clock and a host of quotable lines, not least “this is my happening, and it freaks me out!”
Hard to imagine it these days, but back in the late Sixties and early Seventies many artists had a cushy little sideline performing hits of the day for compilations on budget labels such as Top Of The Pops, Saga, Rediffusion and Hallmark. There was also a craze for making uncredited guest appearances on friend’s records, mainly due to record company rules at the time. Was that not Mick Jagger in the background on Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’? Isn’t that Rod singing lead on ‘In A Broken Dream’ by Python Lee Jackson? John & Paul sang on the Stone’s ‘We Love You’; Clapton played
Roy Wood of Wizzard was, at the time of his huge hit ‘See My Baby Jive,’ dating TV and pop singer Ayshea Brough. Ayshea sang backing vocals and performed with them on Top Of The Pops, (sadly now wiped by the BBC). Roy then wrote, played on and produced what was essentially a Wizzard track for Ayshea called ‘Farewell’. Even the dream combination of Wood, Harvest Records and Pan’s People couldn’t get her a hit though!
The bubblegum pop song ‘You’re Ok With Us’ that accompanied the TV commercial for ‘Us’ underarm deodorant was sung by David Essex. This was released as a single before Essex-mania well and truly took hold.
All this led to much debate in the school playground, especially when it became known that certain popular superstars had been moonlighting in their pre-fame days and earning a few extra quid by doing session work for covers LP’s. These records were hugely
Elton John was the king of the cover version around 1970, before ‘Your Song’ hit the charts. There are some fabulous versions of songs like ‘Spirit In The Sky,’ ‘Yellow River’ and ‘Baby Loves Lovin’’ to be found on Top Of The Pops and the Chartbusters labels. These records are much sought after by Elton fans and can still be found at boot sales and charity shops for
This trend continued in the Rock underground scene, too. Thin Lizzy made a whole album of Deep Purple covers under the name of Funky Junction. Sixties Freakbeat band The Eyes made a tribute to the Rolling Stones on the Wing label under the nom de plume of The Pupils (get it?). The budget album of Raga pop by Sagram, ‘Pop Explosion Sitar Style’ on the Windmill label, was in fact the Acid folk band Magic Carpet. They, along with singer Alisha Sufit, went on to make a much sought after self-titled album on the Mushroom label.
Space Rock band Hawkwind did their super-fan sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock
Jessie Baylin, ‘Strawberry Wind’
New West Records, 2018.
I’m as guilty as anyone of letting Strawberry Wind slip under the radar! It should have been in my albums of the year, without a doubt. I was playing it through the other day and it’s an absolute gem of a record. Full of hooks and great melodies. Tracks like ‘In The Summertime’ and ‘Dream Catcher. invoke a woozy classic Sixties pop mixed with easy/bacharach style. The general vibe is of childlike wonderment at the world and if you appreciate Carole King, The Carpenters, sunshine pop you’ll absolutely love this!