Bedford Charity Shop Bonanza
I spent about 6 hours on Monday July 8th in Bedford, the town where I grew up. Many shops in the town centre have shut down and been turned into charity shops. Many more buildings seem to have been turned into enormous theme pubs. While I didn’t make it into any of the pubs, I took a good tour of the charity shops. All in all, I bought 16 albums and four 45s. I cunningly left a few of the records in England, to be savoured on my eventual return. Below are some of the ones I brought back with me.
Cyril Stapleton, his choir and orchestra: 'Love is...' (LP; Marble Arch; 1968)
This was bought because it contains the rather interesting track 'Love today, cry tomorrow', which is featured on 'house of loungecore', one of the more interesting easy listening compilations to come out on the UK during the 'cocktail' revival of 1995-6.
It's a fun album. All of the tracks have a pleasant sophisticated easy listening sound, with harpsichord creeping in alongside strings and boy/girl vocals. The version of 'She loves you' is particularly upbeat and rousing.
Geo Daly: 'Geo Daly Plays' (EP; Concert Hall; 1964)
An interesting curiosity, this 7" mini-LP was a record club issue from the 'Concert Hall Record Club.' Geo Daly plays the vibraharp, which is really rather pleasant. Alongside contemporary hits like 'Can't buy me love' and 'I only want to be with you', there are some pretty cool originals, such as 'Papa Palavas', 'Vibra surf' and 'Malibu Surf'. The feel is an odd mix of jazz and more rocky sounds. 'Papa Palavas' is a slow, atmospheric piece, with twangy guitar, yet also traditional jazz woodwinds alongside the vibes. 'Vibra surf' and 'Malibu surf' are both essentially the same upbeat 12-bar blues jam, with rather exquisite instrumentation: a sleazy organ, vibes, and drums.
Gunter Kallman Choir: 'The Very Best of' (LP; Polydor; 1969)
'Daydream' by the Wallace collection was a big hit in Europe in 1968. It's a nice simple song. The verse contains what would now be described as a Portishead-style chord sequence. The chorus is taken from a Tchaikovsky piece. Some time around 1970, Polydor released a 2 LP set in England that included a version of this tune by the Gunter Kallman choir. I don't know how many millions of copies were sold, but the record is still everywhere, in spite of the fact that a couple of guys from Sheffield sampled the Kallmann choir version, making that record a bit more desirable.
This best-of record features this now-famous version of 'Daydream'. I'd hoped that the other tracks might be pretty nice too, since I like the version of 'Windmills of your mind' featured on the 'Mad mad world of soundtracks volume 2' CD. There's nothing else that immediately grabs me though. 'The 59th Street Bridge song (feeling groovy)' is another good track, as is the version of 'It's getting better' is also good (I love the Cass Elliot version of this track even more though). The rest is pleasant enough, but the versions of 'the more I see you' and 'La mer' are rather unambitious.
Pete Moore: 'Lively and Latin' (LP; Rediffusion; 1970)
Pop Party: 'Luke Hoffmann and his Group' (EP; Concert Hall; 1963)
"Eight sparkling pops to set your feet tapping and make your party go with a real swing. OR simply as background music, this record will ideally fill the bill for any social get-together!"
Another from the Concert Hall record club, this has some very cool early sixties discotheque-style tracks, played by a small group with brass, organ and twangy guitars. The best track is probably the cover of 'Sally go round the roses', but it's all pretty tasty stuff.
Jelly Gully, The Twist, Bossa Nova Baby, Let's twist again, Sally, go round the roses, Gag twist, Sugard and Spice.
Ronnie Aldrich: 'Come to where the love is' (LP; Decca; 1972)
I'm still collecting the nicest Ronnie tracks for future compilation. This is a nice enough album, although not outstanding. The version of popcorn is comical. The best track here is probably a great version of Bacharach's theme to 'Lost Horizon', which has some thick strings and a nice beat.
The Kings Singers: 'Collection' (LP; EMI One-Up; 1972)
This is quite an entertaining record. The Kings singers are an incredibly unhip singing group, founded by choral scholars at King's College, Cambridge in the late 60s. The group is actually still going today, although with new members. I bought this record solely on the basis of the version of 'Apres un Reve', which is a beautiful Faure tune that I used to play (badly) on the 'cello. The rest of the LP is pop tunes, performed with a mixture of lead and wordless vocals.
Although hardly my favorite record of all time, this has its moments. There are a couple of Michel Legrand-penned tracks, the better of which is 'watch me', which has a breezy feel to it that is reminiscent of Free Design and Roger Nichols (although the really goofy passage at the end kind of ruins it for me). However, the real vocal group influence for this group seems to be the Swingle Singers.
I wish the sound was jazzy, but it's an interesting hybrid all the same. In particular, the weird version of 'A taste of honey' is interesting, with its heavy drums and bizarre-sounding low vocals.