Garth Browning is a FOF (fat old faggot) with strong hippie leanings who runs the Needle Exchange in New Plymouth. He knows that’s not a very PC way to describe himself but he does own a mirror and hippies are cool, so there. Music is a compulsion and Garth has been amassing albums since he was a teenager. Yep, there have been a few hiccups along the way when on three occasions some scumbag thought it was easier to rip off someone else’s collection than put the time and effort into it themselves, you know the type. He loves vinyl but any format will do if it means hearing something he has only read about or the picture on the front tweaks something in the cerebral receptors. Genre is a dirty word, quality and that special something means so much more. Garth hangs around a lot in Op Shops but the treats are getting rarer (damn you Trade Me) and then there is the Vinyl Countdown store just down the hill (damn you Mr Thomas for taking all Garth’s disposable income).
Every fortnight he gets together with a bunch of other miscreants for Vinyl Club hosted by Kevin at the Rhythm Bar in N.P. He loves this night where there is a rota of 30-minute spots on the turntables to share those musical joys in your life. Anything goes from dubstep to hardcore to Paul Weller, depending on who is playing; and then there is Vern, but we won’t mention him again. So 2013 then, a year where the cult of the human parasite reached new highs and where popular culture became more and more about intimidation, bullying and abuse than anything positive. This provided a perfect atmosphere for Garth to bury myself in the music. Here are five albums he’s loving right now…
1 – Jonathon Wilson, Fanfare: just managed to pip John Grant’s Pale Green Ghosts to the post on the international new-release front. A loving homage to the Californian canyon musicians of the 70s that can rock out when it’s needed and drop back to quiet beauty when the time is right. There to help out along the way are Roy Harper, Jackson Brown and a couple of C.S.N &Yers. This man is someone to watch as far as I am concerned and his moonlighting in the producer’s chair for others should turn a few heads as well.
2 – V/A, Losing Our Virginity: this is a Virgin Records 40th birthday compilation treat celebrating the first four years of the label. Three discs of assorted hard and soft centers lovingly supplied by the cream of Europe’s 70s alt-rock, from Gong to Ivor Cutler. It is worth its price alone to have a copy of Daevid Allen & Euterpe’s Wise Man in Your Heart. Kevin Coyne, Captain Beefheart, Can and Link Wray plus a few of the more obscure acts make this indispensible. Virgin have released 4 compilations in celebration, each dealing with a different era and all are worth looking out for.
3 – Doug Jerebine, Doug Jerebine is Jesse Harper: This is KIWI gold. Praise the Lorde, salute your Unknown Mortals and bless your Mockasins but this is it for me in terms of overall release of the year. This album should be in every NZ home, it should be on the school curriculum, it is essential. We have waited 40+ years for this and a huge thank you to Drag City for making it happen. We have had tasters of his talent on the first two Human Instinct albums all those years ago, but the man’s real work has sat gathering dust for all these years. Hendrix was played these demos back then and was reported to have said something to the effect of “I want this man in my band, he can be out front and I will play bass”. Yes it is that wonderful. The CD has more tracks but the vinyl sounds warmer. BUY IT!
4 – Amon Duul II: Take your pick for vinyl re-issues of either Phallus Dei or Yeti. These mad Germans have always meant more to me than even the legendary Can. From the chaos of the first album before the split, through the next four there was something very special about these guys. Despite the politics they were somehow more bucolic than the rest of Krautrock (hate that term but…) brigade. I will probably be shot down in flames for saying this but it is almost like the Incredible String Band got hard. (Love ISB and they probably would have taken it if I had found new vinyl from them) There is some great German 70s rock being reissued and thank you to Southbound for snagging distribution here.
5 – Colin Blunstone, One Year: This is something I found that I missed way back then. This album was released in 1971 and was Blunstone’s first venture out after the collapse of The Zombies. It is a record of just sheer beauty and is a lesson for all those budding singer/songwriters out there. It is understated and gentle, marked by stunning playing by the musicians he surrounded himself with. The link to The Zombies isn’t just that caramel voice but also having Rod Argent and Chris White from the band helping out. This is proof of why spending hours sifting through old records is worth while. I gather that it has had a CD reissue or two so please, do yourselves a favor and seek it out.
I’ve got you this far so I shouldn’t let you go without giving you all my negatives as well. The new Black Angels which I was so looking forward to lacked the fire I needed. These guys were Roky’s live band for a while so for god sake drag him on board, get back in the studio and kick arse.
John Dix’s bible of NZ music Stranded in Paradise has still not been updated and reprinted.
Robert Wyatt was not canonized or knighted. No gold plated wheelchair or recognition in any way that the man is a living monument.
Last and by no means least is the lack of a remastered reissue of both the Ragnarok albums. This is more Kiwi gold that needs to be out there. Ragnarok ruled! There was a great job done by RPM in the UK for the Fourmyula with Inside The Hutt so no excuses.
Ok now its time to look forward, so coming up for me is the Cherry Red Compilation Love, Poetry and Revolution which didn’t arrive in time to keep me moist over the Xmas break. I am also looking forward to ordered copies of Robert Wyatt’s 68 and Arthur Russell’s Another Thought on vinyl. That should kick start the year well.
Wishing you all a great one.