Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of record covers from the golden age of LPs

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June, 2011

Black Cat at Sea

“Black Cat At Sea”   Chan Pao Chu – Wu Fung     Pathe/EMI   (Hong Kong)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (62 votes, average: 4.10 out of 5)
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Forever young

“She played songs I’d never heard like that before”

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (21 votes, average: 4.48 out of 5)
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A stone cold groove

“The Ice Man Cometh”   Jerry Butler   Mercury Records   (1968)   I love this guy.   As a teenager he sang with Curtis Mayfield in Chicago and penned and sang lead on the Impressions first hit “For Your Precious” love.

Here’s a sweet one from The Ice Man:   Never Gonna You Up

Here’s an enthusiastic review from Soul Makossa (check out his recommendations for more great music).

Although mostly recorded in Philadelphia, this album by soul troubadour Jerry Butler is in the Chicago Soul vein all the way; it’s too hard and gritty to be called ‘Philly’ – which wouldn’t surface as a genre until the early ’70s – despite the beautiful arrangements and sometimes huge orchestration.

Teaming up with future hitmakers Gamble and Huff, Butler cut his finest LP in 1968 with ‘The Iceman Cometh’. Veering between uptempo soul nuggets and truly magnificent, haunting ballads, many a contemporary R&B artist found inspiration in it and plenty of its tunes were covered well into the ’70s.

One of Butler’s best loved cuts, the bouncy, mid-tempo romper “Hey Western Union Man” became nothing short of a standard and the same can be said for the gently cruising gospelfide rockin’ soul beater “Only the Strong Survive”, one of the centrepieces on Elvis Presley’s comeback album ‘From Elvis In Memphis’.

Speaking of Memphis, the horn heavy “Can’t Forget About You, Baby” smacks of that big brassy Stax sound. A ferocious floorshaker, drenched in the sweet, purring vibe of the Hammond organ and embellished with the right amount of strings. Butler’s pleading, warm voice is at its best here, especially on the chorus. Decidedly more Windy City is the breezy, mellow “How Can I Get in Touch With You”, with its warm jazzy guitar, vibes and swirling violins.

And then there’s that deliciously groovy, laidback ballad “Just Because I Really Love You”, where the horns stretch out in suspense and the piano sounds dark and ominous. That same spooky atmosphere hangs around the brassy intro to “Lost”, a shufflin’, brooding piece sporting a crashing back beat, which works its way up to an anthemic, jubilant chorus.

Another soon-to-become evergreen appears in the guise of the slow burning “Never Give You Up”, a brilliant pop-soul confection covered by everyone from The Jacksons to Isaac Hayes. Equally snappy is the soft, despondent lament “Are You Happy”, with more subtle orchestration and another heart wrenching vocal.

Up next are two superb, dark, intensely sad ballads: the ghostly “(Strange) I Still Love You”, with its ethereal backing vocals, churchy organ and weeping strings, and the truly goosebump inducing “Go Away – Find Yourself”, an unbelievably touching, sweet rendering, majestically orchestrated.

Butler ends this magnificent longplayer on a more upbeat note, as he swoons, croons and wails his way through the country soul gem “I Stop By Heaven”.

A masterpiece.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (38 votes, average: 3.68 out of 5)
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Spin cake

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (25 votes, average: 4.16 out of 5)
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Feel the burn

Personal Power through Creative Selling   Elmer G. Letterman, World’s Best-known Insurance Salesman     Released by the Success Motivation Institute!   But holy shit!   That’s an atomic bomb!   I don’t think any insurance policy will cover that.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (46 votes, average: 3.35 out of 5)
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1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (42 votes, average: 3.60 out of 5)
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Blowin’ smoke

John Francis et Les Relax   “Ecoute ce Disque”   Gala des Varietes Records (France)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (56 votes, average: 4.41 out of 5)
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Before Alice Cooper there was Jan & Dean?

Jan & Dean   “You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy”   Liberty Records

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (47 votes, average: 3.85 out of 5)
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A day at the beach with little Nipper

“Weekend Musical”   RCA Victor (Argentina)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (46 votes, average: 4.09 out of 5)
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Richard Hayman and His Orchestra  “Voodoo!”  Mercury Records  UK (1959)  From the liner notes “This record, with its pulsating drum beats, summons you to the dark of the jungle, to the deepest interior of the worlds of fearsome fire and the brewing pot , surrounded by the weird frightening shadows of masks and men.   (Here) are the weird rhythms and sound of a music that is more than just music for it is a brimful of a secret life, distilled in ritual, reflecting its powers of magic that takes hold on its native hearers”

Here’s the American LP cover:

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hayman when he sold me his personal record collection.  His apartment was beautiful – on Park Avenue – and was filled with photos, memorabilia, awards and art from a long career in music.   Known for his prolific output of classical pops, harmonica, lounge, exotica and bachelor pad records, the most valuable LPs in his collection were the ones he never played on or played – a stash of sealed Mainstream psych titles that he had because of his position as Music Director at the label throughout the sixties.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (45 votes, average: 3.76 out of 5)
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