Music storage

May 29, 2010

ITEM:   I’ve just had to delete 50 albums from my 8Gb music player to make room for 50 different ones but I still return to the same songs over again. With my mp3 player in “shuffle” mode it never fails to cheer me up when this fab tune comes around. I wish I had a less scratchy version….although that just adds to its other-wordly charm I guess. “All the time in the world” by The Modds is a hidden gem.


ITEM:   I’m debating with myself whether I should buy a Brennan JB7.I’m sure you’ve seen it. He’s really pushing the adverts at the moment. That full page in The Times couldn’t have been cheap. I like the idea of having all my music in one accessible place but I don’t like the thought of the time it would take to put all  my CDs etc onto the 160Gb/500Gb (??) hard disc. Would I ever listen to much of it anyway?  We’ve got out of the habit of listening to music in the lounge these days. I tend to listen more in the car and enjoy Angel Baby (a Podcast) in the privacy of the bathroom. I’ll try and resist the allure of a Brennan JB7 until I’ve done some more research.. 

ITEM:   The prolific author Michael Moorcock used to write Science Fiction paperbacks faster than I could read them. His stories of alternate versions of England were great but I soon tired of the fantasy stuff like Elric and The Eternal Champion. In 1975 Michael released an LP entitled “The New World’s Fair” as Michael Moorcock and Deep Fix. Of course I had to buy it. I was going to talk about the couple of tracks on it that I’ve always liked  and the reason why “concept” albums very rarely work but was surprised to find loads of info about it on the Interweb already and that it’s been available on CD for ages. And the CD version contains a couple of demos/extra tracks I haven’t got.  I’m trying to resist buying that also.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words….so thats just saved me explaining any of the above.

Sinister Tales

May 26, 2010

Now, where have I seen this cover before ??  Although I bought this when it was first published I can’t remember when that would have been…. its not like I kept a list…mid to late 1970s ?? Who knows…Alan Class never dated his comics. Sinister Tales, along with the other 5 main Class Series comics such as Uncanny, Astounding etc began circa 1962-1964 ?? I don’t even know if he kept to a strict monthly schedule. I don’t know much do I ?? I do know that the best interview with Alan is by Terry Hooper here. And I do know that the same cover appeared many years earlier on this comic.

And, of course, it originally appeared on this comic.


May 19, 2010

Some albums improve with the passing of the years. Here is another old LP  that, attracted by the cover, I’ve recently dragged out and am enjoying once more.

“Ptooff” was the first album by The Deviants and recorded and released on a small independent record label in 1967 . The LP was re-issued on Decca in 1969. It was in the bargain bins by 1970 which is where I first came across it !! The Deviants were catagorised as anti-establishment “hippies” though they were more like prototype punks moving in similar circles to those wacky Pink Fairies and Hawkwind people. Mick Farren was involved in the Deviants and would go on to be involved in other media such as underground comix, pop newspapers and novels and stuff.

I’ve put together a few seconds of each of the 8 tracks on the LP here. It may encourage someone to get the CD.

My favourite cartoon

May 17, 2010

Battle Cry

May 16, 2010

Here is another mouldy old UK comic from the late 1950s. I have a price guide which dates this as being published in 1953 which is obviously wrong/a misprint. It must be 1957 or later although I can’t date it precisely. It doesn’t even have a number let alone a date !! 68 page squarebound comics containing black and white reprints from American 36 page colour comics were a popular format here for many years. Miller, Thorpe and Porter/Strato and Alan Class are the most well-known but there were other, smaller companies that dabbled with the format. Such as Streamline Comics. This particular comic was one of two unnumbered issues bearing the title “Battle Cry” published (circa 1958 ??). Streamline issued other similar unnumbered war and western comics around that time.

“Battle Cry” reprints relelatively obscure (yet quite well written and drawn) material from the Key Publications/Stanmor (1951-1955) USA title of the same name (No 20 from September 1955…which was the final issue). The rest of the comic contains a strange assortment. There is a Black Rider western from Marvel, a Robin Hood and his Merry Men from a 1957 Charlton comic and a strange 5 page SF story entitled “Brain Power” (here as a pdf file ) which I believe may well have originated in a Harvey (3D) comic in the mid 1950s.

Confusingly the back cover of this UK “Battle Cry” comic is an exact copy of the front cover of No 8 of one of Key/Stanmor’s companion war comics entitled “Battle Attack”.

Astonishing Stories

May 12, 2010

According to various sources around the Interweb Alan Class published 1448 individual comics up until his company’s demise in 1989. His main 6 titles of Astounding Stories, Creepy Worlds, Secrets of the Unknown, Sinister Tales, Suspense Stories and Uncanny Tales ran for many years and accounted for 1348 of them. The remaining 100 issues (or 96 plus the 4 Ally Sloper magazines) consisted of an assortment of 18 short-lived titles such as Journey into Danger and Weird Planets. Eight titles appeared for one issue only such as Uncensored Love, Tales of the Supernatural and this lone unnumbered issue of Astonishing Stories from the mid 1960s.

The reason for this comic being issued only Alan knows. The majority of his books had similar content (mostly a mish-mash of ACG/Atlas/Charlton Fantasy/SF with some random super heroics from Magicman, Nemesis, The Phantom, early Marvel etc black and white reprints) and the titles of the comics were pretty irrelevent. When I bought this comic (in 1965 or 1966 ??) I thought I was buying the latest issue of Astounding Stories anyway !!!

More Format Wars

May 10, 2010

Through the C20th sound was preserved via a bewildering array of formats. Wax cylinders, 78rpm shellac discs, singles, EPs, LPs, wire recorders, magnetic tapes of varying widths moving at varying speeds, compact Cassette tapes of varying shape and size from Elcasets to those tiny ones found in answer machines, Laserdiscs, Minidiscs, DAT, DCC and CD to name some of the most popular.

Somewhere in the middle was the 4 track and 8 track Cartridge format. More popular in the USA than here and more popular in cars than in the home it had a lifespan from roughly 1965 to the early 1980s.

I don’t know what I expected to find when I prised open an 8 track cartridge tape to see how it worked…..perhaps the tape performing some complicated figure of eight manoevre around numerous rollers…… Actually the interior is quite basic yet elegant in its simplicity. I was aware that the tape was divided into 8 tracks which could make 4 “programmes” creating the stereo by reading two tracks at the same time.

What I didn’t realise is that the continuous tape is pulled out from the centre of the single hub. Consequently the tape has to be very loosely wound and it is critical that the correct pressure is maintained against the tape between the capstan on the player and the pinch roller inside the cartridge to keep everything moving along and preventing the dreaded “concertina effect” where the tape bunches up with disasterous consequences.

The clever bits are evidentally within the 8 track player itself. A metal strip at the end of the tape “programme” activates a solenoid coil to move the playback head to the next “programme” on the tape loop. You often saw similar metal strips at the beginning and end of open reel tapes to switch those machines off when the tape came to an end.

PS: I note that currently on eBay someone has for sale a number of new/unused/shop-soiled/working (??) “Wein” taiwanese 8 track cartridge players (table-top not car dashboard type…..amp and speakers required) for the not unreasonable sum of £25 each !!! (They are also selling an AM Radio Broadcast Transmitter for £55,000 which I am sure must have an interesting story behind it……….)

Freak Out

May 9, 2010

Warren publishing never liked to miss emerging trends be it Films or Pop Music. For instance the first issue of this 1960s magazine covered all the bases from the sublime (Monkees)  to the ridiculous sublime (Fugs). Issue two contained a far more motley assortment.

On the Scene presents Freak Out USA Number 1

On the Scene presents Freak Out USA Number 2

Dodgem Logic

May 4, 2010

The colourful but confusing web site for the Northampton-centric “Dodgem Logic” is as odd as the magazine itself. I’ve just tried and failed to buy Issue 3 there. I did manage to buy the first two issues elsewhere. Issue 1 contained a free music CD (and it looks like you can actually download those tracks free from the website …if the links work !!).

There is also a fascinating article in issue 1 about the history of underground publishing from 1200 to 1975. That too can apparently be downloaded directly from their site.

Issue 2 comes with three variant covers. I hate that ! But it also contains a free mini comic. We seem to have come full circle from his time at the “Sounds” pop newspaper. As its title is “Astounding Weird penises” (with a cute 9d price stamp) you can guess the content.

Whether this is the beginning of a new empire or the last gasp of the underground comic/magazine format only time will tell. I’ll certainly try and get issue 3 at some point. It contains a free iron-on T Shirt transfer (which is most likely not suitable for public display ???).

Spring is sprung. The grass is riz. The car is roused from hibernation and seems pleased to be out in the sunshine (and hail !!). The petrol tank is still full of 4* and the tax disc on the windscreen says 1999 !!

Here are two more brochures from the 1960s.

1) The new Bond is..

2) Bond Equipe 2 litre

Odd Records

May 1, 2010

The record label “Stiff” issued some very odd records in the 1970s and early 1980s. Although Punk Rock was the big thing at the time most of Stiff’s output could really just be classified as “pop music”. Catchy songs like Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” and Lene Lovitch’s “Lucky Number”. Stiff was where you’d find the early output of Ian Dury and Elvis Costello not to mention Tracey Ullman and Jona Lewie. There was a fascinating documentary recently on BBC TV about Stiff and the legendary tours where the whole label’s roster got on a bus or a train to tour.

One of my favourite records released on the Stiff label has an odd back history/mystery that to the best of my knowledge has never fully been explained.

“Maybe” attributed to Jill Read first appeared on the compilation LP “A Bunch of Stiffs” in 1977. I found this picture of a 45rpm record sleeve on the Interweb. I wasn’t aware that the LP track was ever issued as a single. Perhaps it was re-issued later or in another country ?? Anyway, the rumours at the time were that Jill Read didn’t exist and the track had been recorded years earlier by Dave Edmunds at his Rockfield studio in Wales. Certainly Mr Edmunds had spent much time earlier working on cover versions of classic songs..often giving them a Phil Spectoresque sheen. Perhaps there really was a Jill Read who went missing after singing this dramatic power-ballad (that had previously been an hit for The Chantels in 1957) without ever getting her (no doubt meagre) royalties. Perhaps it really was Dave Edmunds singing and then fiddling with the pitch/speed controls. (He does sing on the “b” side apparently). Either way it is one fabulous tune and well worth the 69p I’ve just paid for it.

This picture (of Dave Edmunds?) and enigmatic message to Jill Read appeared on the LP sleeve.