News

1968

Posted by Alan Kovan on July 29, 2018 (0 Comments)

This was our home until September 1968. 21001 Gardner in Oak Park, Michigan. I decided to take a detour as construction had me take 9 Mile Road today. It seemed so big when I was 9 years old. Not so much today. 

So many memories. Walking down the street to watch Batman in color. Only a few neighbors had color TV's back then. Dirtbomb fights. Playing baseball every single day in the summer only to be interrupted when our Mom's called us in for lunch and then again at dinner time. Waiting for Morrie The Ice Cream man. He was an independent ice cream man in a whitewashed old Good Humor truck. Those watermelon and blueberry popsicles tasted the best. Also the Mr. Softee van with all the best candy and trading cards and that soft serve ice cream. 

I remember blizzards in the winter that seemed insane compared to todays snowstorms.

This street had such an impact that some of our oldest friends came from this street. The old adage you cant make new old friends comes to mind. 

Watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan at this house. Going to Hammerstein's Drugs after taking the garbage out with my Dad on Sundays and him buying me a few packs of Beatle cards.

Watching the Monkees TV show every week at this house and then going with my Dad to pick up Sunday brunch and him buying me a pack of Monkees cards with the banana gum..

Some memories etched into my memory were Spring/Summer nights in 1968. Falling asleep to Ernie Harwell calling Detroit Tigers baseball games on a transistor radio under my pillow. Magically my brothers and I would wake up in the morning with a few packs of 1968 Topps Baseball cards under our pillows where the transistor radios were when we went to sleep. Optimistically I thought the Tigers would win the World Series every year.

This summed up my Dad. He was a huge sports fan and I realize now how happy he was that we followed his lead. I can only imagine the  pleasure he had in this ritual.

I also vividly remember the 1967 riots. My Mom and a few of the other Moms on the street would bake for the National Guard and take the baked goods over to the Armory on 8 Mile Road.

These are just some of the memories unleashed by this detour this morning.

Thanks Mom & Dad.

Continue...

Disclaimer- The Rolling Stones- Exile On Main Street is my absolute favorite album of all time.

I have an obsession. Every time I see an original copy of Exile in nice shape I pick it up. Especially if it has the set of postcards. Also if it is an original Artisan stamped pressing. I give these as gifts to those who would appreciate it. These gifts are all over the world. Leeds, Stonehaven Scotland, Denver, Australia, Israel, South Africa, Brooklyn, West Bloomfield.

I have several copies of original US Artisan pressings in various condition, an original Japanese pressing lp, a box set, several reissues and even a print of the original billboard on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles signed by the person who did it Jan Van Hammersveld. The title is Exile On Sunset.

The copy that eluded me was the original UK version. I used to go to London 2-3 times a year to buy/sell/trade for my record shop and in those close to 30 visits I never saw a copy. I finally found one a few years ago in Harrogate U.K. at a small record shop called Evil Eye. Not in amazing shape and no postcards but at the right price (20 UK pounds) I plugged that hole finally. I was pretty pleased.

Fast forward to last weekend(February 18, 2018). For whatever reason I punched in a search online and saw an auction for one graded Near Mint condition and it had the original postcard set intact. It was only at $15.50 with under 2 hours to go. So I watched it. For 2 hours. Of course in the last minute bids started coming in and with 8 seconds left I punched in $57.68. I wound up the high bidder for $44. This is a steal. So much so when I received the tracking number and it just showed the label was purchased with no tracking I just assumed the seller bought a label and didn't ship the LP because it sold for way less than it's value and he was just going to let me file a claim because there was no reserve on this auction. I was furious because as of one week later the package was still not tracking. 

I need to back up to last Friday (February 23, 2018). I was in one of my favorite local record shops and purchased an LP and noticed a wallet sitting on the counter. It was full of cash, credit cards, drivers license etc. I handed over to the shop. They called out the persons name. No answer. Turns out this customer had placed a special order and they had his phone number. I joked I hope I get a nice dose of record karma for this.

Yesterday when I got home I was going to send this auction seller a nasty message. Telling him I know what he is up to and wish he would have just told me the truth and not taken my $50. Before this I clicked on the tracking number one more time and lo and behold it tracked to my PO Box. I picked the LP up today and not only is the condition of the vinyl Near Mint so is the cover, inner sleeves and postcard set. It is also true UK first pressing. COC 69100 and stamped A1/B1/C1/D1. The perfect first UK pressing. 

I am now sitting here while I blog this and am on side 4. I have never heard this Lp sound better. 

Moral of the story..... Do something nice for someone. You never know. I have to believe this has something to do with this whole story. Was I being tested by someone or something when I found the wallet? What made me click on the tracking number one more time before sending a nasty email?

Just another one of life's strange mysteries.

Continue...

Top Records Of 2017

Posted by Alan Kovan on December 19, 2017 (1 Comment)

First time ever a tie for #1!

Here goes!

1. Australian Testing Labs- Music For Aircooled Motoring LP on Polytechnic Youth PY 40. This one dropped in out of nowhere and blew me away. Cinematic Krautrock if I have to label it.. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrKy7YMq04M

1. Free Slope- Daydream Melodies on Deep Distance DD 54.

Another amazing record. Think Spacemen 3 meet Krautrock/Manuel Gottsching/Ash Ra Temple and then some. This is tied for #1. A great record.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9j58uF91xxM

3. Moon Duo- Occult Architectures Vol.2 on Sacred Bones SBR 169.

Admittedly I was didn't get into Vol.1 but Vol.2 of the Occult Architecture series is a winner!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rP-9axxbO4

4. Kelley Stoltz- Que Aura on Castle Face CF 094.

One of my oldest record shop customers done good. Absolutely love this LP.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjY0vt0iVJg

5. Sula Bassana- Organ Accumulator LP on Deep Distance DD 37

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Q3i3n1WTM

6. Alien Stadium EP (Steve Mason & Martin Duffy)- Livin' In Elizabethan Times on Domino DD 128TX.I am a sucker for anthing Steve Mason related and this does not disappoint.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJPudZxrbqs

7. Eat Lights Become Lights- Nature Reserve LP on Deep Distance DD50

Another driving Krautrock-esque episode in the ELBL canon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xddTYT6IHPU.

8. Mark Lanegan- Gargoyle LP on Heavenly HVNLP137. Lanegan. 'Nuff said. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7JCndWHBRg

9. Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band- Adios Senor Pussycat Lp on Violette VIO 025. 

Top Liverpudlian songwriter releases his first new record in eons. And it exceeds expectations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqYLztpLw3k

 

10. Luna- A Sentimental Education LP on Double Feature 0013.

You would think an Lp of covers would just be another addition to your Luna collection but nuh uh. This is a great lp.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqHWi7tmpK0.

I need to include this clip from Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile as it was the best song I saw live all year. Courtney shines.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Bbe0oVyKcc

 

Not a fantastic year but some uber great records. Dig around for some of these LPs.

Some are really hard to find now. Some not.

Dock Ellis Records has some of the Deep Distance and Polytechnic Youth LPs left.

From London, Germany, Leeds & Detroit with love....

http://dockellisrecords.bigcartel.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Continue...

Always rooting for the underdog- A Tom Petty tribute

Posted by Alan Kovan on October 03, 2017 (0 Comments)

 

 

I know saying someone who has sold millions of records is an underdog is a bit contradictory however that is how I thought of myself when becoming a massive Tom Petty fan in the late 1970's. As far as American bands went anyway. It was all about Bruce Springsteen pretty much.

Being the underdog is more a sports thing. I am a huge sports fan but my passion lies in music. Sports is entertaining but fleeting. Music always gives back. Always.

Much of my musical taste was shaped this way. The Beatles vs The Stones? I chose the Stones. Elvis Costello vs Graham Parker I hitched my wagon to Graham Parker. Ditto when it came to Bruce Springsteen vs Tom Petty. I liked Bruce but I loved Tom Petty.

My first introduction to him was in the movie FM and track Breakdown. He was wrongly hyped as some new wave up and comer. Wrong. With that stoned look and those sneering vocals and ringing Rickenbacker guitars he was more like a punky Byrdsy breath of fresh air.

Those first two LP's, both released in 1978, are just about as perfect as you could ask for. Rooted in Americana yet something very forward thinking and fresh sounding.

The debut. Breakdown, The Wild One Forever, Fooled Again and American Girl. The rest of the album is frighteningly great too.

Next up You're Gonna Get It which is a stone cold classic! The title track, I Need To Know, Listen To Her Heart and Baby's A Rock N' Roller. All great as is the rest of the album.

Damn The Torpedoes is the record the rest of the world caught up with Tom Petty. Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, Even The Losers, Don't Do Me Like That? C'mon. I think this record sold a zillion copies. Good for him and the band.

Hard Promises followed up Damn The Torpedoes. He seems to stretch out a little on this LP and it worked a charm. The Waiting, A Woman In Love,  A Thing About You and You Can Still Change Your Mind. Another great record.

This completed a run of four amazing records that started Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers career. Find me many bands who's first four records are this strong. Not a very easy task.

After this point I lost a bit of interest. My focus was on punk and new wave. I also lost interest when Jeff Lynne got involved. Everything he touches sounds the same. Horrifically synthetic which was the opposite of how I look at Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Their ease of sounding so natural, authentic,energetic and well American was why I loved them so much.

So many of my friends who are music obsessives swear some of the best records Tom Petty released were after this I need to go and rediscover records like Wildflowers etc. I did love Echo when I heard it especially once I heard Swingin'. I need to go back and play some of those later records.

His passing has had a huge effect on me. He was gracious after a show in June of 1980 when I turned up at his hotel after a show at Pine Knob in Detroit on the Damn The Torpedoes tour. A friend of mine and I hung out in the hotel bar and waited. One by one the members of Jefferson Starship, who were playing Pine Knob the next night, came in. They were puzzled why we just kept to ourselves and they approached us. After sarcastically going back and forth with them we just admitted we really weren't fans. We were waiting for someone else. Then Tom Petty turned up in a kind of grizzly mood. However he did pose for this photo. Stalking before stalking was cool.

Perhaps I am missing out on some more great records. This is something I plan on rectifying. Even if I didn't those first four records have given me so much pleasure over the past 40 years I owe Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers an eternal debt of gratitude.

Thank you.

Rest In Peace.

Continue...

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

Posted by Alan Kovan on May 26, 2017 (1 Comment)

Those of you who know me know I am not very religious. Spiritual yes. Culturally Jewish yes. Religious not so much.

I go to Temple once a year to honor my parents who both passed away on Memorial Day weekend. I go with my sister. I usually say this is because I don't want her sitting by herself. Truth is I like to be there when my parents names are read on the anniversary of their passing. I feel my parents deserve that. They were great parents who always put their kids first.

I am comforted knowing my parents names will always be read together because they passed away 5 years and 5 days apart both on Memorial Day weekend. Regardless of what the Hebrew calendar says I choose to remember them on this weekend. I hear their names mentioned at Temple and I light their memorial candles together. Milly & Denny together. Forever.

Tonight the sermon was about the chaos in the world this week. Much of it was about the horrendous suicide bomb in Manchester England. The rabbi also touched on the other atrocities this week: Coptic Christians in Egypt etc. In her sermon she mentioned that somehow the group targeted in Manchester made it personal. Young kids who have been looking forward to this night for months. Also parents killed for the crime of picking up their kids up after the show. It is more personal to me because I love Manchester. I visit there once a year. I have very close friends in Manchester and nearby. Tough working class people with a soft inside. Also very proud people.

I went to sleep Monday night hoping no one I know was affected by this mass murder. I woke up the next morning to a WhatsApp thread and saw one of my closest friend's niece was close enough to the bomb to feel the heat from it. She also had to escape through the carnage the suicide bomber caused. This is way too much for a 15 year to have to deal with for the rest of her life. Or anyone for that matter. Then I thought about those lives lost and the shattered pieces their families now have to live with. It is almost too much to think about.

What made my heart melt was how the people of Manchester aka Mancunians chose to handle this. With an outpouring of love. Sikh taxi drivers shuttling around people with a sign that said "Free Taxi". So many turned out to donate blood they had to be turned away. Cafe's owned by Muslims offering free food and tea for emergency workers. A woman on her honeymoon sheltering 50 kids in her hotel room. Domino's Pizza delivered free pizza non stop to hospitals treating the victims. A Rabbi showed up to the Police station with a large box of cuppas(cups of tea). Knowing Manchester I wasn't surprised.

The end of the sermon tonight the rabbi mentioned the words scrawled on a balloon at the makeshift shrine in St Anne's Square which had the words "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out". She thought this sentiment summed it all up. What she didn't know(or maybe she did) was this is the title to a Smiths song. One of the most influential music groups ever to come out of Manchester.

This also served as a metaphor for why I was at Temple in the first place. To honor my parents for whom the words "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" never seemed more apt.

 

Continue...

The Beta Band family tree

Posted by Alan Kovan on October 26, 2016 (0 Comments)

Having recently returned from the UK with a trip based around two Steve Mason dates, Hebden Bridge Trades Club October 8th and Wakefield Unity Works October 14th, I cant seem to get these shows out of my mind.

Stripped down from a five piece band to a three piece band for this tour the songs played took on a much different feel(or so I am told). I was happy either way since the chance of Steve Mason playing the US are pretty slim. I do hope to eat those words.

I thought this would be as good a time as any to appreciate the Beta Band and their family tree: The Aliens, King Biscuit Time and the Steve Mason solo albums. All worthy of being in any fans collection.

We can start with the Beta Band- The Three EPs with monsters tunes like Dry The Rain, Dogs Got A Bone, Inner Meet Me, Dr Baker to name a few. It is a compilation of the first three eps put out by them. So good in fact is makes an appearance in the film High Fidelity.

Next up the 1999 self titled debut album. The band went on record saying they hated it but I didn't. Even sub par Beta Band(their view not mine) is pretty damn good. It's Not Too Beautiful and Smiling spring to mind.

2001's Hot Shots ll was an improvement over the debut with a more song oriented album. Squares, Human Being and Quiet stand out.

2004 saw Heroes To Zeroes released. Sadly this would be the last Beta Band studio album. Assessment, Simple, and Easy stand out among others. This was a great way to end this part of the Beta Band story if it had to end. Which apparently it did.

If this blog piques your interest this 2005 release The Regal Years 1997-2004 is a must. 6 CDs of studio tracks, live versions, radio sessions, demos and other material.

This is where the fork in the road happens. Well maybe it happened a bit before. 1999 saw the release of King Biscuit Time's (basically just Steve Mason) No Style EP in the US which compiles two UK CD singles. For starters I Walk The Earth is worth owning this for. There is more. I Love You and Time To Get Up also fantastic.

There is also this 2007 release which isn't that easy to find. A little searching would pay off with some amazing tracks: Kwangchow, All Over You and Rising Son. There is even an uber limited version with an instrumental CD included.

Also a 2007 release is this awesome slice of whimsical psychedelia. The Aliens- John McLean, Robin Jones & Gordon Anderson. Setting Sun, I Am The Unknown & She Dont Love Me No More stand out. This is a light hearted fun record from start to finish.

One year later this masterpiece was released. 2008's Luna is fantastic from start to finish. I am not going to pick out any stand out tracks. It is just superb from the first song to the last. Not difficult to find unless you are a vinyl die hard. Then not an easy one. I may be able to help you there.

There was 4 track EP released n 2006 Alienoid Starmonica as well as other singles.

This is where Steve Mason went off on his own in 2010. Under his own name this time. This was the first sign of more amazing music to come. The All Come Down video. More amazing tracks: Boys Outside, a very personal song about depression and Hound On My Heel. There is also a bonus CD with a Dub reworking of this album with Dennis Bovell.

This is a heavy album. Very political. Very angry and cynical. Also right on point. 2013 Monkeys Mind In The Devils Time is another Steve Mason classic. There are elements of psychedelia, hip hop and everything else in this record. Tracks I would point out: A Lot Of Love, Lonely, Oh My Lord, Fight Them Back & Come To Me. Unforgettable listening.

Here we are in 2016. Meet The Humans is a pop record. I read in an interview Steve Mason wanted/needed to lighten things up on this record. This is my #1 record of 2016 by some distance. Several songs stand out on this album. Buy it. Cd, LP, download. You wont regret it.

I am so happy to have seen those two UK shows earlier this month. Steve Mason is quite an entertainer. Witty, funny, self deprecating, and quite a performer. It feels good when you walk out of a gig and just smile. Especially the encores Hardly Go Through and Dry The Rain.

Maybe this little blog will turn someone on to Steve Mason. I hope so. What would really be great is if anyone used this blog as a road map to some of the best music released in the last 18 years.

Others not covered in this blog but related are:
Lone Pigeon, Black Affair, Django Django, Brothers In Sound. Just depends how deep you want to get into this Beta Band family tree.

 

 

Continue...

Somebody Up There Likes Me- A David Bowie tribute

Posted by Alan Kovan on January 15, 2016 (1 Comment)

Like everyone else I know who woke up Monday morning with that gut punch of the news of David Bowie's passing it caused me to reflect. Immediately my phone blew up. First from my friends in the UK and Scotland specifically Leeds and Stonehaven and then my friends here and the devastation this news caused. These are some of my closest friends and fiercest musical comrades and even though we have had lengthy discussions and disagreements over the Bowie catalog I still had no idea just how much he meant to them. It then dawned on me how much he meant to me but I realized I was nowhere near the fans these two are. Why is that?

I recall a poll of David Bowie's top ten albums about 10 years ago and Station To Station topped the list. So many people name check that album and I just don't like it. After a spirited email exchange I decided to try it again. I walked into a record shop and looked at it and not one of the songs interest me. Sorry.

Even weirder is the fact I rate Young Americans so highly. YA just seems ..well.. more organic. It is just as soulful. Probably more so. What other album has Luther Vandross and John Lennon on it? The title of this blog pays homage to one of my favorite David Bowie songs ever, Somebody Up There Likes Me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoXX5XX32xY

I am also one of the only people who rates Scary Monsters & Super Creeps as their favorite David Bowie album. The guitars on that record are incendiary at points. It's No Game, Teenage Wildlife, Because You're Young, Kingdom Come. Just nailing it.

Also Heroes. All of it. Yes that includes side 2.

Herein lies the beauty of an artist like David Bowie. There is, or should be, something for everyone in his catalog. I carved my own weird path. Others their own. No one is wrong. It is all the more fitting. David Bowie made it OK for you to follow your own path. In fact I would say he started that path.

This leads you into just what a monumental figure he is. Who else influenced Music, Art, Fashion, Sexuality so much? He was a true trailblazer. Constantly changing. The early years to Ziggy to Aladdin Sane to the Berlin years to the soul/funk era. Always pushing boundaries. Especially in the fashion world.

What really sets him apart in my eyes is how had his finger on the pulse when it came to groundbreaking music. He championed the Velvet Underground before anyone else. Ditto Iggy & the Stooges. He saved Mott The Hoople by giving them All The Young Dudes to record. They were about to throw in the towel as a band and along come David Bowie with a song that becomes a massive hit. There are probably more stories like this. People like this don't change. Once a mensch always a mensch.

I particularly love the way some Detroiters paid tribute with various billboards. I have yet to see one so I am not sure if these are real or photoshopped. Either way some Detroiters thought of it. Another reason to be proud to be from here.

There have been some amazing things said about what a gentleman he was from those who knew him. Those who interviewed him. There is this from Pegi Young. https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pegiyoung/videos/1128420060516557/?fref=nf

It is a very strange feeling when you know you are a music obsessive or a music snob and it take 40 years to realize just how much you do love an artist. You are just as big a fan. You just didn't know it. Glad I bought all those Bowie records years ago. After 5 days of stories, videos, posts and tributes I have let it all sink in and I am in awe of the career of David Bowie. Specifically how he was able to keep his illness private and was able to say goodbye to his fans with one last gift. We could all learn a lesson from him.

May his star shine brightly forever!

Continue...

Why I Love Spiritualized

Posted by Alan Kovan on July 06, 2015 (1 Comment)

spz shoes

This goes back a long way. Pre Spiritualized in fact. My employees kept me on my toes at my record shop. A few of them kept asking for Spacemen 3 records which were not easy to find in the late 80’s in the US. At least not on a regular basis. I would pick up what I could find on buying/trading trips to London. The main shop I traded with in London, Vinyl Experience, was part of The Chain With No Name so we got plenty of bronze embossed Recurring LPs among other things.

Then came the split. Many would argue the split already happened on Recurring. One side Jason. One side Sonic. Not sure what to make of this then we were told of the first offshoot Spiritualized.

When Anyway That You Want Me came in I immediately played it and thought to myself yeah…I like this. The next single was Feel So Sad. I remember this like yesterday. We opened the box of imports and immediately put this on. It was warm here that day and not a cloud in the sky so this was in the summer. As soon as the record ended I declared Feel So Sad my single of the year. The year was only half over. We took our year end lists seriously in my shop so this was a bold statement.

Next up Lazer Guided Melodies. This was a lot to absorb. Much like other records that have remained close to my heart over the years this took a bit of getting used to outside of Shine A Light which floored me the first time I heard it and continues to this day. Then track by track I realized just how special this record was. I still feel 100% this way 23 years later.

002I walked into Dedicated’s offices in Notting Hill Gate and asked if they had any promo posters I could have for my shop. They were amazing and shocked that someone from a US record shop was in the lobby asking for these. While I was in reception I noticed the two ceramic figures used for the LGM cover. The angel and the devil. They were at least 12 inches tall. Maybe taller. Each one on a 5 inch by 5 inch black base. No one I know has ever seen or heard of these. I wonder where they wound up? I was happily given five of the huge red 5 ft by 3 ft fly posters and a roll of the smaller blue posters by the Dedicated staff. I still have one of each.

Pure Phase continued this as well. Another amazing album and the first glimpse of some amazing packaging with the luminous CD case. What was also nice for a record shop owner(not so much for fans as it became expensive) were the singles on various formats that were released.

let itThe hilarity of my being in London when the Let It Flow triple pack CD was released I will never forget. I went everywhere like a frickin’ obsessed madman. Virgin, HMV, Our Price, Sister Ray, Selectadisc, Vinyl Experience, Rough Trade and every other shop I could find. I put together 33 sets. I came back and only sold them as sets and while a few people complained I had to explain to them if you knew how hard these were to get you would gladly pay the asking price which was $35. Each extra $10 would end up paying for my flight. Otherwise we would only have ever gotten like 5 of them thus never making it out on the floor in the shop.

fuckedI vivdly recall when Fucked Up Inside was released as a mail order only CD in the UK. I freaked out I must have annoyed the hell out of the Dedicated UK offices making sure we got these. They are so lucky this was pretty much pre email. Ultimately a US distributor Dutch East got them and we wound up selling nearly 200 copies of this.

I then saw my first Spiritualized gig on the Rollercoaster tour with the Jesus & Mary Chain and Curve at the State Theater in Detroit.  Whoa! An intensity I had never seen before and I was hooked. The second time I saw them they opened for Siouxsie & The Banshees at the same venue. They were meant to stop by my shop before the show and sign records until we got a call from their manager informing me this was not going to happen. I was really pissed off. Then we asked if they would come by after the show and they agreed. This was by far the best night ever in my shop. The band stayed from 9:00 pm until 2:00 am signing everything and just having a great time. Over 250 fans came thru after some impromptu flyering at the show and some well placed phone calls.

sioux

spz pia

Thus began my relationship with Jason Pierce that continues to this day. After the Acoustic Mainlines show in Toronto I was taken upstairs to see Jason and he smiled. He asked “How long have we been friends?” I was pretty stunned. Jason and I email back and forth occasionally but the fact he considers me a friend meant a lot.

Jason has always been willing to go the extra mile for fans. Especially here in Detroit where he has become close with some notable local bands the Detroit Cobras and the Dirtbombs. He does have a big fan base here which helps. Not only because of the support of the local shops but his willingness to meet, greet, sign or just talk to his fans. 30 or so gigs later there is no better night out than a Spiritualized gig. Especially in Detroit as it becomes a reunion with my former employees and customers.

I realize Ladies & Gentlemen is the record most name check as their favorite. It is by far Spiritualized’s most popular. It means so many things to so many people. I will just leave it at that. Ditto for the rest of the catalog. I am not going to go into each album and you may scratch your head wondering why I stopped after Pure Phase. The reason is I love the noisy era Spiritualized. This is how I became a fan. Those early shows? They came out and blew your head right off. Two shows in one night at The Shelter underneath St Andrews Hall in Detroit remain two of the most amazing shows I have ever seen. By anyone. By any band. This was between Pure Phase and Ladies & Gentlemen. The first show was blistering. The second show even more so. They played two fewer songs at the second show yet it was 20 minutes longer. Really giving the songs space to breathe live.

At one point in 1993-ish one of my employees noticed a classified ad in the back of Record Collector magazine advertising loads of Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized rarities. I called and spoke to Pete who referred me to Mark. Turns out Pete was the dub and reggae expert half of Runcible Records. Mark was the Spacemen 3, Spiritualized and Sonic Boom expert. We started trading records. After a few trips we became friends. After a few more we became really good friends. Now we have been thru births, deaths and everything in between. I have watched his kids grow up. I was at his wedding. We celebrated my “big” birthday together at a party he hosted in 2009. He has become a very important part of my life. Common thread? Spacemen 3/Spiritualized/Sonic Boom.

What really impresses me are the fans of the band. I am a moderator on the Spiritualized message board. What I have witnessed over the years is incredible. It has become such a diverse place to post or read on everything from current events to blow by blow reviews of shows to a running thread on the Premier League. The unbelievable wealth of musical knowledge from those who post there is astonishing. In fact I need not look any further than the band recommendations from the message board to expand my musical horizons.

Every once in awhile you realize just how important this message board is in the daily life of the fans who read and post. A few years ago the message board went down for a few weeks. We couldn’t understand why. Eventually it came back and I know a lot us realized just how important it is in our lives. We even helped a forum member’s family sell off his record collection thru the message board after the forum member passed away suddenly thus making sure the records were going to good homes and at the same time helping defray the funeral costs.

While I have met several forum members face to face I feel like I know a lot of people from the years we have been posting. I love the photos of get togethers pre or post show around the world. I know how close other forum members have become as well.

I have put up forum members here, I have happily shown forum members around Detroit and I have been a guest at other forum members homes. This past May three of us got together near Leeds for a few days of catching up and general mayhem meeting up with another forum member while running riot in Leeds on a Sunday. Just look at this photo. Sheer joy!

Leeds

2014

2015

Here is an addendum to this blog that took place less than 1 month ago. In June 2015 it was announced that Spiritualized were doing a special one off warm up show at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on September 25, 2015. It was a warm up for the Liverpool Psych Fest the next day. I bought a couple tickets and booked a flight. As anyone knows you never know what you are gonna get. Whether you are flying overseas for a gig or or flying to a sporting event.

I arrived on September 22. I had a Yom Kippur fast to contend with as well as jet lag. No problem. Fast completed. Feasting resumed. I must credit my dear friends and hosts in Leeds Judi & Mark for feeding me 5 star meals every night. No one has ever heard me complain about the food in England because the truth is I eat far better there than I do here with my limited cooking skills. Our friend Barry from Stonehaven( in Scotland) to which no trip overseas would be complete without seeing joined us on the Thursday.

On to the gig. In my wildest dreams I could not have hoped for a better show. Spiritualized were amazing as well as the new light show. It was nice seeing some folks I have met thru the band and meeting others for the first time. What happened after was even better. I was with some people who have been fans since the Spacemen 3 days. One had sold Jason an Lp at a record fair in the late 80's or early 90's and the others had never met him. What happens to most people is over time you build this myth in your head of what a person is like. Aloof? Difficult? Not approachable? Jason took the time to meet everyone and dispel any myths that may have been built up about him in fans minds. In fact he remembered which LP he bought off my friend and became emotional when another related a story to him about one of the Acoustic Mainlines tour shows in Manchester. He accepted a batch of CDs of crucial music from my friend Barry as well. Just blowing them all away.

On a side note huge props the the Leeds Brudenell Social Club for not aggressively kicking out everyone after the show. Allowing those who wanted to speak to the band all the time they wanted. I wish all clubs would take a page out of the Brudenell's book. Treat  people nice, keep the bar open, sell more drinks and everyone is happy.

People always ask me why I always go to Leeds when I have time and money to travel. Even Jason asked that after the show. "You came all the way over and you are spending all your time in Leeds"? he asked. I said I have loads of friends here and all that is thanks to you. Spiritualized and Spacemen 3. Had it not been for these bands I would never have become friends with all these folks.

Credit to Judi for the photo above perfectly capturing some fantastic moments in time. Not sure how this became the Facebook cover for this blog link but it has an incredible spirit. Fitting I think.

It really is amazing that whom I consider a few of my closest friends I have met thru Spiritualized. While I love the music I also love how much more Spiritualized have given me and truly enriched my life way beyond the music. Never underestimate the power of music.

 

This gets me back to the title of this blog.

This is why I love Spiritualized.

Please feel free to comment at the bottom. I would love to hear stories from anyone taking the time to read this.

None of the instores would have happened without the help of our local BMG office who also worked Dedicated Records. Laura & Mike.

Spiritualized message board address:

http://forum.spiritualized.band/

Continue...

Link Wray 1971 S/T LP Polydor 24-4064

Posted by Alan Kovan on July 06, 2015 (0 Comments)

link 1971

Link Wray’s Polydor debut from 1971 sounds kinda like The Band meets The Rolling Stones, with a healthy side of Van Morrison playing gospel blues somewhere in the Mississippi Delta.

When someone gives a description like that I would hope this would be a record people would want to hear. I had always assumed Link Wray was just the rockabilly dude who wrote Rumble. Ever since a nondescript burned CD arrived on my doorstep from an angel in Scotland by way of Jason Spaceman my life changed musically.

This LP, Polydor 24-4064, is one of those gems that needs to be introduced to all your friends who appreciate any form of rock, country, blues or psych. It ticks all those boxes and more. This record and it’s brethren Mordicai Jones and Beans & Fatback that make up Link Wray’s Three Track Shack trilogy are played with such honesty and feeling they jump right out of the grooves. Oh yeah, they get funky too.  All this recorded in a converted chicken coop. I know right?

The opening track, La De Da, is a heartfelt gospel-ish song and when you close your eyes you imagine a full band with backup singers just romping and stomping their way thru this all with giant smiles on their faces. Kinda like one of those Saturday night get togethers you read about that happened all over the south and Appalachia. People just showing up with whatever instrument they own and joining in.

Take Me Home Jesus is a flat out gospel ballad sung with such honesty and conviction you immediately believe.

Juke Box Mama. This is as funky as this record gets. Link digs even deeper for the vocals on this track. The bass sets the tone here and the rest of this song falls right into place. Juke Box Mama actually swings with that funky ass bass.

Rise And Fall Of Jimmy Stokes is 1970’s country storytelling. This however goes way beyond country storytelling. Again the bass is the pulse of this song. It paces this track along at an even keel. Not far off from Link Wray’s first rap track.There is an amazing instrumental interlude with Link’s guitar and bass dueling against one another.

Fallin’ Rain is just a flat out gorgeous ballad. Link’s voice even sounds different on this track. When the back up vocals come in your heart just melts. This whole song is played seemingly effortlessly. Just a joy.

Fire And Brimstone is a stomper. This time Link’s acoustic guitar leads you into a land below the Mason Dixon line. His vocals are more guttural. F&B just takes off and doesn’t stop. There is an instrumental mid section that does not slow the F&B down one bit. Wear comfortable shoes for this track. Your feet wont stop moving(or stomping).

Ice People is soft yet dark. Once again so convincing and wonderfully played.

God Out West rocks. God Out West rolls. It makes you believe once again. You get that signature Link Wray guitar midway through the song. Best track on the LP in my opinion. Singing Hallelujah!

I cant decide if Crowbar is country storytellin’ or a Blues song. It is a microcosm of this whole LP. It meshes so many styles it almost defies description. Wicked guitar on this song too!

Black River Swamp is a country gospel song. Beautiful in its simplicity and exquisitely played. Another song in which Link Wray’s vocals stand out like yet another instrument.

Tail Dragger has the most aggressive electric guitar on the record. Yet there is that funky bass. Link’s vocals are also at their most aggressive here. Yet another confounding track as it swings along albeit aggressively.

This record entered my life out of nowhere. Being a disciple of all things Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized I never heard Jason Spaceman name check this LP in any interview. Thank god my friend Barry in Scotland was listening and picked up on it. Now I cant imagine my life without it.

I have turned on a lot friends to this record and it’s popularity is growing with each person doing the same. I am not sure what it is. Maybe the amazing honesty and conviction within the grooves. Maybe because it was recorded in a converted chicken coop and not at Muscle Shoals or in any studio. Perhaps it is because it sounds so effortless and like everyone playing is grinning from ear to ear knowing full well they are part of something special.

Continue...

Pay It Forward

Posted by Alan Kovan on July 06, 2015 (0 Comments)

records

I am taking a break from the music related blogs to write about something I have been thinking a lot about lately.

Paying It Forward.

You hear that phrase a lot. I hope it doesn’t sound trite or overused. I do feel it is important.

I try and start out every day doing something nice for someone. It could be letting them in in traffic, holding a door open, giving someone short change at the register some money so they can complete their purchase or just helping anywhere I can. It makes me feel my day is starting off on the right foot. Many days the person that started the day bears no resemblence to the person arriving home later on. Such is the world we live in.

A few stories. Those who know me know I scour record shops and thrift stores looking for things to re-sell. I love spreading my luck to friends. Living in Detroit there are a lot of thrift stores and if you happen to walk in at the right time, before any other dealers or collectors get there, it is an amazing feeling. Like, Eureka! I have a lot of friends in the UK and here in the US looking for certain records that are either really difficult to track down or way too expensive. I enjoy spreading the luck or love or whatever you want to call it.

I have sent an original Neil Young- Tonight’s The Night LP, an original Miles Davis- On The Corner LP, a few Rolling Stones- Exile On Main St(original US flap sleeve w/postcards), a few Link Wray- S/T 1971(there is a DER blog about that LP here), Big Star LP, the first two Band LPs, Durutti Column flyers, several Spiritalized items to people all over. Maybe what I get back is “record karma”.

That explains yesterday’s haul. A short day hitting three record shops and two thrift shops. What I dug out of the thrift shops is probably worth 30 times what I paid. Then I get to give back in my own way.

 

001

Take this record, Paul Jackson- Black Octopus. Ultra rare Japanese only pressing. Also cut Direct To Disc. The cover is fantastic. The name is even better. Record is mint except for the promo sticker removal on cover. Turns out this is a $100 record. A Jazz Funk classic. Also rescued from a box of 45’s hidden under a table at a thrift store were about forty 60’s promo singles that look unplayed for the most part. This includes a few psych gems. Since I was never a Jazz/Funk/Fusion fan I will sell or trade these records and pay it forward in some way by gifting a record to an unsuspecting friend. Same with the 45’s.

Here is another story so crazy and touching I need to re-tell it. Apologies to FB friends who have heard this already.

There is a thrift store chain locally called Value World. A couple of times a year they run coupons for 50% off your entire purchase. They are available in the local free paper here and come in your junk mail. I was standing in line at one and there were two women in front of me. They were buying mens clothes. An entire outfit. I simply asked if they had a coupon. They said no. What coupon? I said here take mine. They started crying. I thought to myself it is just a coupon and I had under $5 worth of items. They had like $25 worth. Not a lot but in a thrift store it is. Not the reaction I expected. One of the women grabbed my arm and said “Thank you so much. I want to tell you something. We are buying these clothes to bury our father in. He lost so much weight while he was sick none of his clothes fit. Neither of us work and we have very little money which is why we are shopping here. That coupon means so much to us”.

This is a true story. The cashier started crying too. Then other people in line started talking to me and thanking me. The moral of the story is you never know how doing a nice thing for someone affects them. In this case it was instant.

Life is complicated enough. It can grind you right into the ground. Somehow or other to be able to come out the other side and do something nice just makes the world a better place.

Bottom line- Pay It Forward.

 

We would love other stories. Comment below.

Continue...