Philosophy, drama, democracy…Vangelis, Roussos, Mouskouri: what did the Greeks ever do for us? 500MH is off to the Aegean tomorrow to find out, so here’s something to whet the appetite, and with several of the above ingredients to the fore.
In 1970 nothing could seem more natural than to interpret the Book of Revelations through the medium of the double concept album, as was the case with Aphrodite’s Child’s snappily titled 666.
From the Biblical end of the Balearic spectrum, Four Horsemen seems well suited to the current scorching UK temperatures…and particularly for those of us who are currently packing their espadrilles.
Sounding more like a 1960’s Coronation Street character than a sublimely-voiced soul singer, Arnold Blair left us with one great record before disappearing into obscurity…possibly to tend his allotment?
With the great LeRoy Hutson on co-writing and production duties, and released on an a subsidiary label of Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom Records, Trying to Get Next To You is as delightful a slice of mid-seventies Chicago soul as you could reasonably wish for.
That got a bit embarrassing after a while, so here instead is an extract from a film soundtrack. It was released in the 1970’s. Today happens to be a Sunday.
La Planète Sauvage (aka Fantastic Planet) is an example of what can only be described as the “Franco-Czech bonkers” school of animation. Set in a galaxy far, far away it is at once a metaphor for class oppression behind the Iron Curtain and a plea for inter-cosmic understanding.
Or so I glean from the trailer on Youtube…
What is beyond doubt is that the soundtrack was composed by the great Alain Goraguer who, among other things, wrote arrangements for Serge Gainsbourg and has been sampled by J Dilla.
So come travel with us to the planet of the Oms and Draags to investigate for yourself…
To mark today’s start of the Giro d’Italia here’s something that I always imagine being played on a wind-up gramophone in a crumbling Venetian palazzo, perhaps while an ageing Conte lies dying in his bed…
Largely thanks to my daughter, I’ve become mildly obsessed with the frothy 50’s pop confection, Mr Sandman.
Though it’s the original Chordettes version that the younger generation seems to favour, those with time-honed digging skills might prefer readings by Anita O’Day, Chet Atkins or even this charming 1961 Brazilian interpretation.
Ditching the melancholic underpinnings, Roberto Carlos (assisted by Astor and his Orchestra) rips through the piece in fine jazz/bossa style.
Our recent Sun Ra post referenced the long and (mostly) honourable tradition of DJ’s playing records at the wrong speed…intentionally, that is.
The most committed of wrong-speed merchants must surely be Danielle Baldelli who, in his pomp at the Cosmic Club, seldom played a record at the correct speed. Or so people say.
Actually, the truth of this statement can easily be verified by checking out this huge archive of Cosmic Club mixes. Listening to these tapes, and to other artefacts of the Afro-Cosmic scene, one can appreciate that use of such extreme measures was but one ingredient in the creation of a unique sonic backdrop.
Uptempo pop songs were *cough* re-contextualised by a switch from 45 to 33, whilst slower numbers (such as Yellowman’s left-field reggae classic, Zungguzungguguzungguzeng) could be wrong-speeded in the opposite direction.
All of which leads to this 1979 recording by US-via-Japan jazzfunkers, Hiroshima. A 50p charity shop buy last year, I hadn’t got it home before – via the power of the Internet – I’d been informed that it was a known wrong-speeder.
Lack of a functioning turntable meant that it was a while before I could put this to the test. But I did and here it is…
In DJ-ing circles, the term “cosmic” often signifies little more than playing a Depeche Mode B-side at the wrong speed. Nothing wrong with that of course, but if you’re yearning for something a little deeper, let us transport you back to Provence in 1970.
The Fondation Maeght is an extraordinary art institution nestling in the hills of Saint Paul de Vence, Côte d’Azur, which I’ve been lucky enough to visit on a couple of occasions. Founded by dealer Aime Maeght in 1964, it was described by the Culture Minister of the time as “by no means a palace, by no means a museum”. Suffice to say, if your travels take you to the Nice/Antibes area, it’s well worth a visit.
Celebrated fashion photographer Jeanloup Sieff took the above photo at la Fondation in 1965. The model is wearing a “little white dress” by the architecturally-inspired designer André Courrèges. She is standing behind Alberto Giacometti‘s giant bronze, Grande Tête. Can all this be seen as a signifier of women’s emancipation in France in the 1960’s? If you are at all intrigued by that question, I’d point you in the direction of issue 26 of Tate Etc. magazine, where the debate rages for several hundred words.
One can only imagine the atmosphere at Sun Ra‘s gig there some 5 years later. Luckily the music was preserved, initially – and somewhat bizarrely – on 7″ singles and subsequently via LP and CD.
Ranging from the (by his own unique standards) accessible to the defiantly cosmic, the set is no easy listen…but in a world of instant gratification, all the more satisfying for that.
The selection below registers somewhere in the middle on our trusty Cosmometer™…