Sorry for the silence. I’ve been a bit busy/miserable.
So, today I went to the enormous biennial WFMU record fair in NYC. I couldn’t not go, yet there wasn’t really anything especially I wanted to get. So, it was a funny experience. I remember the first time I went to the WFMU fair. This must have been in November 1997, when I was wide-eyed and pretty new to the city. I remember how utterly elated I was about the whole experience. I came away only $80 poorer, and with armfuls of records I could only have dreamt of owning when I was in Europe. Many of these were bought at $1 to $5, with a handful at nearer $10. I remember sitting down, exhausted, in the corner, drinking beer and eating pizza, surrounded by a warm feeling that in this enormous room full of records, several of them were just waiting for me to find them and make friends.
Well, I’m less idealistic now. I also own thousands more records, and have much wider musical taste. I think that’s why I now find the fair slightly less enjoyable. I went along today hoping to chill out, and maybe find a couple of the 2 dozen or so LPs I have hanging around in my head as ‘wants’. I wouldn’t have minded paying anything up to $40 or $50 for some of these. Anyway, it didn’t really work out that way. The place is huge, but crowded. I was in there for four hours without really going around the stalls more than once; if I’d waited to see everything that looked interesting, I could have been in there the whole day. The main problem, however, was choosing what to buy among all these records. That line that makes a record worth buying becomes really blurry in a place like this, where bargain records abound, and the records you’re truly looking for remain buried in tightly-packed boxes, if they’re there at all.
I think I’ve now faced up to the fact that for me, ebay is better. Searching by keyword or label isn’t possible at record fairs. I left with five albums and a CD, knowing full well that I could just as easily come away with completely different selections. One of these days I’ll probably stop buying records. Still, there were some nice surprises in what I picked up.
Dominic Frontiere: 'Hammersmith is out' (LP; EMI/Capitol; 1972)
This was an impulse purchase. I'd never heard of the film, but the record is in great condition and had enticing song titles (e.g. 'topless rock', 'snake dance'). From the photos and story of the film on the back, it seems pretty wild, with lots of good party scenes.
The record itself both rewards and disappoints. The main theme, while not without charm (the instrumentation is great, with some cool synth sounds), is rather uninspired. But the 'party' style tracks are pretty cool. The pick of these is 'Kiddo'; 'topless rock' and 'snake dance' are pretty good as well. They're all similar - pretty generic instrumentals with organ, horns and guitars. However, they're all slightly polluted by an overly rocky electric guitar sound. I guess this is a sign of the soundtrack's date, which is at the late end of records I tend to enjoy.
Overall, not a bad record, but one which I have a feeling I'll end up selling.
Les Paul and Mary Ford: 'The New Sound, Vol 2' (LP; EMI/Capitol; 1956)
This is a 60s or 70s reissue of an earlier LP. I didn't own any Les and Mary on vinyl, but I love them deeply, so picked this up on the strength of 'moon of manakoora, one of my favorite instrumental tracks, and one with which I'd never heard vocals. It's pretty great stuff - Mary's haunting voice is as bewitching as ever, and I'm always a sucker for multitracked guitars.
Paul Horn: 'Paul Horn and the Concert Ensemble' (LP; Ovation; 1970)
I bought this as an addition to my collection of ridiculous baroque-pop LPs (currently standing at around 15-20). Actually, I don't quite seem to be able to decide if the collection is of cheesy versions of classical songs or baroque/classical pop hybrid versions of pop songs - I have a similar quantity of each type. Whatever, I have definite plans to compile the most jaw-dropping of the former type, and possibly the latter as well.
In spite of a deliciously cheesy cover, with the session musicians all dressed up in old-fashioned outfits, accompanied by a mixture of contemporary and historical instruments, this record isn't all that exciting. The standout tracks are 'Light my fire' and a Horn original, 'Paramahansa'. The others sounded rather inconsequential on first listen. Still, nice to have for my collection, I guess.