I’ve been sick. Nasty sick. But I think I’m better now.

Jumping Jacques: 'Sugar and Spice' (CD; Petra SRL; 1968)
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More peppy vocal group fun on what I think is the Jumping Jacques' first album. As I mention in my review of their other album, Avalon, the group have an incredibly tight sound, with an enchanting mix of jazzy or pseudoclassical Bacharachian vocal group sounds and italian soundtrack-style soundscapes.

This album has a similar mix of über-cool and hip numbers, beautiful ethereal numbers, and straight-up novelty tracks. For the record, I consider the standout tracks to be the following:

  • 'somehow I must be dreaming' is a bouncy piece that recalls Piero Piccioni's 'Fumo di Londra' soundtrack. The vocals are incredibly warm and sexy.
  • 'Love me now' is another groovy, bouncy number, and is actually the reason why I got into this group - an excerpt from it was featured on the 90s bootleg vinyl compilation, beat actione.
  • 'let them eat cake' has a beautifully rhythmic groove to it, and the same kind of faintly ridiculous wordless crooning as all of the rest of the group's material. The liner notes point out that this wordless quality makes them a truly international group, which I think is a nice sentiment.
  • Finally, 'through a brazilian rain forest' is fun. It starts with some percussive vocal stuff, sounding deliberately like 'the girl from ipanema'. The track itself is then a rather effective pastiche on Jobim's 'One note samba'. To me this sounds incredibly like Novi Singers, which of course makes me like it even more.

    I've no doubt that this is an acquired taste, but if you're big on that 60s vocal group/scat sound, I would definitely pick this up. It fills the gap between Lambert, Hendricks and Ross and the Swingle Singers rather nicely.

    Compilation - Ride: 'OX4_The Best of' (CD; The First Time Records; 1990-1996)
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    In a fit of nostalgia, I picked up this CD after finding it used. Ride are a funny band for me. Their sound isn't one I would naturally graduate towards, but maybe because I was young and they were around, I wound up getting to quite like them back in the early 1990s. Still, I could probably count the songs I really like by them on both hands, so I think it's a little excessive that there has already been a CD box set devoted to them. However, this CD fits the bill pretty well.

    'Chelsea girl' is still very vital and energetic sounding with its dirty, wah-wah laden mush. 'Drive Blind' still sounds like 18 year olds messing around with guitar pedals, which I guess is pretty much what it is. I still like it though. 'Like a daydream,' while still in the same vein, has a guitar part that seems to nod to the Stone Roses. 'Vapour trail' is my favorite track from the debut Nowhere album, and as I noted at musical taste, it still sounds great. I should record an instrumental/electronic version.

    Although I never had the second album (Going blank again), I'm quite partial to 'leave them all behind,' even though it's overlong and slightly formulaic. That feeling of being 16 or 17 is very potent, and I can't help enjoying almost any music that evokes it. Another single from that album was 'Twisterella,' which I imagine many fans of the band's rockier sound hate, but which I rather like.

    I must confess that after this, the band lose me somewhat. I never owned or really heard Tarantula or the third album. It does actually sound like interesting stuff - the sound is less dense and more varied. I have a feeling that Mark Gardener's wispy, slightly wimpy vocals don't work so well over less dense material. But I haven't really yet given it the time it deserves.

    In all, this is a nice collection, although there are some early and mid-period EP tracks that I would have chosen as well (such as 'sennen'). It comes with a really nice booklet, with a long essay about the band.

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